Live from Greenville, South Carolina this is the Raw Deal for episode #1094. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
The Shield started off Raw in the ring for a promo. Dean Ambrose spoke first saying that Evolution beat them up last week, but they're still there. Seth Rollins said that Evolution can't evolve into something that can beat The Shield. Roman Reigns said they would teach them payback, believe in The Shield and he would teach them all individually to believe in him.
A limo was shown on the big screen pulling up to the arena. Triple H was shown getting out of the limo with Randy Orton and Batista. All three Shield members ran to the backstage area. They attacked Evolution by parking lot. Seth Rollins had a huge leaping attack there! Wow! The brawl was quickly broken up by referees and some of the agents. Triple H, Batista and Orton were down. They got the worst of that encounter.
Analysis: That was a very explosive start to Raw. The crowd was behind The Shield in everything that they said. Seeing them go after Evolution like that is the kind of aggressive babyface behavior that fans want to see. It's a good way to set the tone for the rest of the show.
The announce team of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & John Bradshaw Layfield welcomed us to the show. It's John Cena & The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family later.
Rob Van Dam entered for a match as they went to break.
Zeb Colter was in the ring with Jack Swagger talking about his deportation list. He told us to shut up. Colter complained about how he was interrupted last week by Adam Rose. He called him an Englishman with his band of runaway hippies. He's actually South African, but I guess in WWE he's going to be English. Colter warned Rose to keep his distance. During all of this, RVD was stretching in the corner.
Before the match could start, Adam Rose and the exotic express crew of people showed up on the top of the ramp. They all marched down to the ring to his theme song. Rose entered the ring. Swagger tried to attack, but Rose fell back onto his crew of people. JBL just referenced Kurrgan and the Oddities. That's nice of him.
Jack Swagger vs. Rob Van Dam
RVD kicked him in the head. Swagger went down. Five Star Frog Splash by RVD led to the pinfall win after about 20 seconds of action.
Winner by pinfall: Rob Van Dam
Adam Rose and his people left. RVD sort of partied with them, but he also looks high all the time so who really knows with him. JBL complained about Rose the entire time he was out there.
Analysis: That's one of the shortest matches in WWE history. It's expected that they are saving Rose's in-ring debut for Payback on June 1, likely against Swagger. All Swagger does is lose, yet he gets another PPV match so he can put over Rose.
They aired a short video about Paige as they mentioned she's in action after the break.
There was another Bolieve commercial for Bo Dallas. The other day I originally wrote "bolieve" when I intended to write believe, so I guess the videos are getting to me.
Paige made her entrance for a match with Alicia Fox. They actually let Fox cut a promo as she mentioned that Paige doesn't fit in, "so get out." Then she hit her.
Paige vs. Alicia Fox
This is non-title. Fox attacked aggressively with some hard kicks, a backbreaker and she dumped her outside the ring. Fox hit a nice Northern Lights Suplex for two followed by a hair whip. Another backbreaker by Fox. Fox applied a surfboard like submission hold and then slammed Paige face first into the mat a few times. Paige ended up hitting the Paige Turner out of nowhere for the win after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Alicia Fox
They should have replayed the finish, but they didn't. Post match, Fox was freaking out. She started destroying things around the announce table. I think she said "ow" after she hit the table initially. She slammed JBL's hat down and spilled some water. She left with JBL's hat.
Analysis: *1/2 It was great to see that aggressiveness out of Fox because WWE is lacking in terms of heel divas. It would have been better to see a DQ finish to build to another match from them, but Paige winning is fine too. Even though she lost the match Fox was smiling. Perhaps it's because she finally got some character development.
There was a video package of last week's story with Daniel Bryan, Brie Bella and Kane. I muted my TV during Brie's screaming. Bryan's up next.
The WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan entered the ring with his two titles. Loud "yes" champs for the champ like usual.
Bryan was there to deliver a promo. He mentioned that he knew everything was going to be an uphill battle, but that the hill was a little steeper than he thought it would be. Bryan spoke about how they threw everybody at him, but somehow "we" beat the odds and "I walked out of WrestleMania as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion." He said that when you're the WWE Champion you've got a huge target on your back. Bryan spoke about how after he got back from his honeymoon Kane gave him the biggest beating of his life. Because of that, he was in a neck brace. He was determined to come back at Extreme Rules to beat him and that's what he did. "My entire style comes with a price." He said he's paid that price with his body. Unfortunately he has to pay the price this week with neck surgery: "This Thursday I have to go and get neck surgery." He was really broken up about it as I am just sitting here writing about it.
He spoke about how this won't be the end of him. He has no idea when he's going to come back. "Will I come back?" Loud "yes" chants from the crowd and Bryan did some "yes" chants of his own.
Analysis: There were reports of Bryan's neck injury that were reported online a couple of hours before Raw aired. The reports stated that it was a minor surgery that wouldn't cost Bryan too much time. It's unlikely that he'll be able to return for Payback. It was tough for him to deliver that promo, but he got through it and the fans were behind him for it. It will suck to see him out.
Tuesday PM Update: The latest updates state that he'll be out about 6-8 weeks. Could be more. Could be less. We won't know all the details until after surgery on Thursday.
The announce team set up a video package about the Cena/Wyatt Family feud. Six man tag coming up next.
John Cena made his entrance and they showed a clip of him in Washington DC on the weekend at an event supporting breast cancer. Good man. The Usos entered. Then the Wyatt Family entered. And it's time for another commercial.
Analysis: Hour one of Raw had six minutes of in-ring action and five commercials.
Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan vs. John Cena & The Usos
The heels worked on Jey early on, but he got the tag in to his brother Jimmy and he hit a Samoan Drop on Harper. Corkscrew plancha by Jimmy. The heels distracted him, which led to Harper hitting a big boot to the face for two. The Wyatt Family continued to work over Jimmy with Harper hitting a back elbow on him. Plenty of quick tags by them. Wyatt hit a running corner splash on Jimmy. There's a jumping side kick by Jimmy to create an opening. There's the hot tag to Cena, who goes after legal man Rowan with his shoulder tackles and suplex. Rowan got sent outside the ring. Harper capitalized by slamming Cena face first into the ring. Jey took down Harper. Slam by Wyatt on Jey. Jimmy hit a kick on Wyatt. Rowan slammed down Jimmy. Cena tripped up Rowan and went for the STF, but Wyatt broke that up. Each Uso brother hit Wyatt with superkicks. Then they each hit superkicks on Harper. Then they each hit dives over the top to take them out. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on Rowan for the win after 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: John Cena & The Usos
Analysis: *** That was an entertaining ten minute tag match that was much needed. Each Uso got beat up, Cena received the hot tag and the finishing sequence was great. I know it's a formula we see all the time with everybody hitting big moves, but it's still exciting to watch because the timing is always great. It was awesome to see The Usos hitting those superkicks and dives to take out the Wyatt Family. Cena getting the win on somebody other than Wyatt was expected. When they did the match at Smackdown it was Harper getting the pin on one of the Usos, which would suggest a tag team title feud at some point in the near future.
Post match, Wyatt was in the ring to deliver a promo. He thanked Cena for helping him to realize what he must do. He didn't say what. He just said "follow the buzzards" to end it. Cena looked confused.
Analysis: No idea what Wyatt meant and that's okay. It builds up the story for the future.
Up next is Evolution.
Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista aka Evolution entered the arena for a promo. Hunter was in a suit while the other two were in their Evolution shirts as well as wrestling gear. They replayed what happened earlier when The Shield attacked Evolution.
Orton said it's time to take the gloves off. He wants to kick their ass. Orton: "It's time to put the Hounds of Justice to sleep." Batista was yelling about how he's had enough of them.
Hunter said maybe it's time to finish this thing with The Shield. He knew they were good and that's why he brought them to WWE. Hunter said that The Shield's ambush was pretty much the last straw. It's going to end at Payback. He spoke about how they're going to take apart Ambrose, then Rollins and then Reigns. Hunter said they're going to make an example out of Roman Reigns. He said Reigns would be the member of The Shield that will not come back from Payback.
The Shield showed up in the ring to attack Evolution. They brawled in the ring. Hunter got sent out of the ring first, then Batista and then Orton. Evolution slowly went up the ramp. Batista called out Reigns for a match later on Raw.
Analysis: It felt like Hunter was going to add a stipulation to the match at Payback, but it hasn't happened yet. A Chicago Street Fight might seem fitting for it. That brawl was fine and they set up a big match for later with Reigns taking on Batista in the main event. Good segment.
Cast members of Total Divas were at ringside: Naomi, Brie Bella, Cameron & Eva Marie. It's a Nikki vs. Natalya match that was set up after Natalya did a painting on Total Divas of Nikki & John that Nikki thought was awful. If you don't pay attention to the show, they book Natalya as a dummy a lot of the time because it's all part of the "stories" they need to tell to fool people that watch reality TV.
Natalya vs. Nikki Bella
The girls at ringside had numbers on paper to grade the match. I don't know why. Natalya was aggressive early on. Nikki nailed her with a couple of hard forearm shots. Nikki hit a kick off the second rope for two. Hard slap by Natalya, then Nikki got one and they continued to go at it. Natalya applied an abdominal stretch. Lawler: "Look at this move!" They don't call moves on Raw. The girls at ringside look so stupid with the numbers. Natalya gave her a hip toss into the ropes. Nikki took her down aggressively. Nikki got a rollup for two and Natalya got a pinfall attempt too. Natalya tried to do another roll through for a pin, but Nikki ended up countering it by sitting on top of her. That was enough for the win after about five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Nikki Bella
Post match, Nikki tapped Natalya on the head as if to say good job. Natalya got mad after the match and ripped up one of the cards with numbers on it. The segment ended with Natalya looking sad.
Analysis: *1/2 That was an aggressive divas match. They threw some shots at each other and made it look good. The finish wasn't great, but they booked it in a way that made it look like a close win for Nikki instead of having her hit her finisher. The best part about it is that it looks like Natalya is going heel, which is great because WWE is lacking in terms of heel divas. Usually people lose matches before they turn. She'll have some awesome matches with Paige. Of course the logic of the turn is bizarre because Nikki was mean to make fun of Natalya for her drawing, but that's pro wrestling. Be a star, Nikki.
Curtis Axel and Ryback have matching toques now. They flipped a coin to determine who would wrestle Sheamus. It's Axel.
Sheamus vs. Curtis Axel w/Ryback
This is non-title with Sheamus aggressive early on. Running knee in the corner. Axel was able to trip him on the top and gave him a neckbreaker. Sheamus applied the Cloverleaf submission hold and Axel tapped out. The match went about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Analysis: * A short match where Axel barely got any offense in and he tapped out to a move that Sheamus rarely uses.
Ryback attacked Sheamus after the match. It looked like they were going to have a match as the show went to break.
Analysis: Remember when Raw had a GM that would appear on screen to make matches? Brad Maddox is almost never on this show.
Sheamus vs. Ryback w/Curtis Axel
The match started during the break. Sheamus was on fire with a running knee left and then his ten forearm shots to the chest. Ryback countered another Sheamus attack with a suplex variation. Sheamus came back with White Noise for two. Spinebuster by Ryback gets two. Sheamus came back with a running powerslam. After an Axel distraction, Ryback hit his Meat Hook Clothesline. He wanted Shellshock, but Sheamus slipped out of it and hit the Brogue Kick for the win after 7 minutes. Cole said Sheamus hit the move "from out of nowhere" even though he was standing right in front of the guy.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Analysis: ** Two clean wins in a row by Sheamus. They kept doing power moves then going for pinfalls. It was fine for the time given. No sign of a heel turn for Sheamus although it's rumored to be coming soon.
It's Batista vs. Reigns later.
This Tuesday on WWE Main Event on WWE Network it's Sheamus vs. Cesaro. It's not for the US Title. It should be a good match between two of the hardest hitters in WWE.
It's the top of hour three, so here's Stephanie McMahon for a promo.
Stephanie spoke about Bryan overcoming adversity to win the WWE Title at WrestleMania and then defeated the demon Kane. She mentioned that Bryan has to undergo neck surgery on Thursday and that proves that Bryan is simply not an A+ player. The crowd booed that one loudly. His heart wants to do it, but his body can't says evil Stephanie. Stephanie said her family has to do what's best for business. She asked Bryan to come down to the ring because she has something she has to say to him face to face.
Kane's music started up. He dragged Bryan onto the stage as Kane's music started to play. Bryan's shirt was all ripped up and Bryan wasn't moving. Doctors tended to Bryan on the ramp. His wife Brie Bella showed up to check on him. Stephanie went up the ramp to look at him too. The fans chanted "Daniel Bryan" as he was placed in a neck brace. He was wheeled away as the show went to break.
Analysis: Hopefully that was done as a way to set up the next Bryan vs. Kane match whether it's at Payback or another event. Stephanie's promo made it seem like they might strip him of the WWE Title, but that didn't happen. Bryan didn't actually take any bumps in the segment. He just showed up looking like he got his ass kicked. That's all they needed to do. It worked.
There was a shot of Bryan getting loaded into an ambulance. Stephanie kept saying she was sorry. Brie gave Stephanie an evil look. She told Stephanie to stay away. The ambulance took Bryan away with Brie going with him. Stephanie had a serious look on her face.
Analysis: At least Bryan didn't get pushed off the stage in a wheelchair like Zack Ryder. That's about all I have to say about it. Get better soon, Bryan.
Dolph Ziggler was in the ring. Fandango entered with Layla. They showed a clip from Total Divas with Fandango kissing Summer Rae and then on Smackdown he kissed Layla. Cole mentioned a Twitter war too as I tuned him out because I really don't care.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango w/Layla
Dropkick by Ziggler, but then Fandango gave him a back body drop over the top rope. Cole kept talking about the Twitter breakup of Fandango with Summer. Can the announcers actually call moves? In the ring, suplex by Fandango. Ziggler with a jawbreaker and then a neckbreaker. Fandango with a suplex into a slam for two. Almost like a Michinoku Driver. Ziggler avoided a top rope attack and hit a Fameasser for two. Layla jumped on the apron. She distracted Ziggler, which led to Fandango hitting a spinning heel kick. Layla tripped up on the apron by getting her foot caught. It was a planned spot because it led to Ziggler hitting the Zig Zag for the pinfall after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler
Analysis: *1/2 It was a match where the winner was so irrelevant that the announcers barely put him over. They just mentioned Layla's screw up and the camera was kept on her even though Ziggler won the match. It's a shame Ziggler doesn't have a bigger role in WWE.
Post match, Ziggler left quickly. Fandango grabbed the microphone. He said he may have lost, but said no woman has made him feel the way she does. He said Layla's won something more valuable than a match - his heart. He said he loved her. They shared a passionate kiss in the ring. JBL was yelling at them to stop it.
Analysis: It's obviously leading to the return of Summer Rae in the near future. She doesn't seem like a babyface character, but that's where it has to be headed. As for the kiss, it was longer than what they did on Smackdown. Good for them.
Batista vs. Reigns still to come.
They plugged WWE Network and Legends House specifically. I'm actually surprised they haven't plugged it more often.
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan entered the ring. Lawler said he lived nearby, so he came to Raw. He's on Legends House. Duggan plugged the show, but before he could get very far the "Ravishing Russian" Lana appeared on the stage.
When Lana struts on the stage it's one of the highlights of Raw every week. She said Duggan represents America. She pointed out that China has the biggest economy in the world. Fans finally got a "USA" chant going. She said Rusev is proud to represent mother Russia and the greatest leader in the world, Vladimir Putin. Hacksaw countered her by starting up a "USA" chant. Lana introduced Rusev.
Rusev entered the ring with Hacksaw in it. They dumped the "Alexander" part of his name, in case you were wondering. Lana was in the ring too and she gave Hacksaw a chance to beg for mercy. Rusev broke Duggan's 2x4 over his knee. She said that was his one chance: "Rusev crush!" That crush didn't happen because Big E ran down to the ring. Rusev tackled him and then sent Big E into the corner. Hard kick by Rusev sent Big E outside the ring. Duggan helped Big E outside the ring.
Analysis: I'm glad they didn't make Duggan take a bump. Old guys shouldn't be bumping. That wasn't much of a save by Big E. At least he tried. His stock has really fallen in the past couple of months. It could lead to a Payback match that Rusev will likely win. At least they have something in common since Rusev lost his first name while Big E lost his last name.
There was a replay of Evolution/Shield brawling segments from earlier in the show. It's Batista vs. Reigns coming up in the main event.
Damien Sandow entered the ring. He said a lot of people are afraid of what he might say. Sandow said maybe he'll speak his mind, but then he was cut off by the music of Cody Rhodes.
Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes w/Goldust
These two were former best friends that didn't have a long enough feud for my liking. There were some nearfalls early on. The crowd didn't care about this too much as Cole talked about how they each need a win. In other words, they are losers. That's why the crowd didn't care. Sandow missed his Elbow of Disdain, which gets no reaction anymore and then he was able to hit it. Cody tried to make a comeback, but Sandow fought him off. Cody actually did an eye rake leading to the Disaster Kick for the win. The ref didn't see it. The match went about 6 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cody Rhodes
Analysis: *1/2 The match didn't draw much interest from the crowd, but I like both guys. Cody cheating to win wasn't pushed enough by the announcers.
Main event time as Batista takes on Reigns.
There was a Bolieve commercial again for Bo Dallas.
More replays of another bad night for Daniel Bryan.
Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen to deliver a promo directed at John Cena. He spoke about how people have greed, which is why they don't thrive in society. He said that Cena's narcissism leads Cena right to him. Wyatt seemed to suggest that they have a Last Man Standing match at Payback based on Cena's promo from last week about how he was still standing.
Analysis: A Last Man Standing match makes a lot of sense for this feud. They are usually good matches. It's not confirmed, but it seems like that's where it is headed.
Roman Reigns made his entrance with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins before the break.
This week on Smackdown, John Cena will answer Bray Wyatt. That will probably make the Last Man Standing match official.
Batista entered along with Triple H and Randy Orton, who were all rocking the Evolution shirts.
Roman Reigns w/Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins vs. Batista w/Triple H & Randy Orton
Reigns was the aggressor early on, but then Batista came back with a hard clothesline in the corner. Batista slammed him into the steel post. Fans were chanting "Bootista" at him. Big clothesline from Reigns and then a corner charge by him as well. He nailed an uppercut. Reigns wanted his running dropkick outside the ring, but Orton and Hunter cut him off. Ambrose & Rollins took them out with dives. Reigns hit his running dropkick on Batista. Hunter pulled Reigns out of the ring. Rollins brawled with Hunter. Ref rang the bell. The match was over after five minutes.
Match Result: Disqualification
Analysis: * As a match it never really got going. It was just done to set up the angle.
The Shield were in control of the action in the ring when Stephanie McMahon showed up at the top of the ramp and instructed the heels on the roster to the ring. There were about a dozen guys out there to take out The Shield. They isolated Reigns in the ring. Hunter brought a chair into the ring.
Reigns hit a Spear on Triple H while Hunter had a chair in his hand. Rollins & Ambrose went into the ring with chairs. They cleared the ring of the heels with chair shots to the back of each guy. Evolution retreated up the ramp. Ambrose hit his Headlock Driver on Fandango on a chair. Rollins hit the Curb Stomp on Axel on a chair. Superman Punch by Reigns on Slater. Reigns hit a Spear on Ryback. Triple Powerbomb by Reigns and company on Ryback.
The Shield was standing tall in the ring as they stared down Evolution, who were together in the aisle. They replayed everything that happened. The Shield posed in the ring to end Raw.
Analysis: Last week on Raw, The Shield got beat up. This week on Raw, they got the advantage. That's how it goes in a back and forth feud when they're trying to build up to a big match.
Hopefully they add some flavor to the match at Payback by making it a Chicago Street Fight or something to that effect. It was a strong segment to end the show.
Three Stars of the Show
1. The Shield
3. Dolph Ziggler - Since he actually won a match.
I picked seven people. And that's okay.
5 out of 10
Last week: 4.5
2014 Average: 6.33
2014 High: 9 (April 7)
2014 Low: 4.5 (May 5)
Last 5 Weeks: 4.5, 5, 5, 6.5, 9
It's another 5 out of 10 type of show. As you can see from above, that's four straight weeks of Raw that were below the yearly average.
The Evolution/Shield feud has been strong since Extreme Rules. We know another match is coming and that's great. They're really not doing anything out of the ordinary for the build.
There was no Bad News Barrett or Cesaro on Raw. Those are two guys I really like right now. How can there be no room for them?
Get better soon, Daniel Bryan.
Check out my feature column archive that's exclusive to WhatCulture. I write there every day and I'm having a blast doing it because I get to write about current things in wrestling as well as moments from the past. It's a lot of fun.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org