Live from Tulsa, Oklahoma this is the Raw Deal for episode #1042. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. If you're on Facebook please "Like" this post as well. Thank you.
Raw opened with a replay of the end of Raw last week when Ryback attacked John Cena at the conclusion of the program. Also, Guy Voiceover told us we would see a "face to face" between Triple H and Brock Lesnar.
Jerry Lawler was in the ring to moderate this dance contest. There was a clip from WrestleMania 29 that showed when Fandango beat Chris Jericho. Am I really writing about a dance off on a wrestling show? Sigh. There was a dance floor in the ring as Fandango entered along with Summer Rae. Chris Jericho entered with Edyta Sliwinska, who is a professional dancer. She's really hot.
Dance Off: Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
Each participant gets 90 seconds. That long? I was hoping for maybe 30 seconds at most. Fandango said that the crowd may not like him, but they will have to respect his performance as an artist. Jericho bragged about being Price is Raw champion. Jericho did his routine of messing up Fandango's name. Jericho said he would create a dance sensation that would be #1 and that on Sunday he's going to dance all over Fandango's face at Extreme Rules.
The music started to play, but Fandango refused to dance. He said he needs silence to dance. Go to a TNA show. There's less people there. They started to dance and Summer Rae fell down. She grabbed her ankle. They danced for about five seconds. Even a doctor showed up to check on her.
Fandango left the ring. Then he went back in and hit Jericho with a boot to the head. Cheap shot. Fandango threw Jericho's head into the announce table. Hard whip into the steel steps by Fandango. Cole said "this is appalling" as if anybody cares that we didn't witness dancing. Fandango whipped Jericho into the security wall. Fandango took a square piece of the parquet ballroom floor that was in the ring and he hit Jericho with it.
After the attack, Fandango went into the ring and did a quick dance with Summer Rae. She wasn't really hurt. What a shocking twist. I'm being sarcastic.
Analysis: I'm a huge Jericho fan, but this was pretty boring. The attack after the "competition" was okay because it got heat on Fandango heading into Sunday's match. At least we didn't have to watch an actual dance off. That whole thing took nearly 20 minutes.
At the announce desk, Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Jerry Lawler welcomed us to the show. Ryback was shown walking backstage.
Ryback vs. Zack Ryder
Ryder didn't get a televised entrance. Apparently "Summer Rae" was trending, so good for her. They just plugged the WWE App during the match. It's one of those weeks. Ryback hit Shellshocked to win after about one minute.
Analysis: What a shocking result huh? No. That was it. No promo. It could have helped.
There was a video showing us that the Brock Lesnar/Triple H feud started all the way back to April 30, 2012. Face to face later.
The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O'Neil) vs. Tons of Funk (Brodus Clay & Tensai)
O'Neil missed a corner charge on Tensai. Clay got the tag. He hit a suplex followed by an attack in the corner. Young got a cheapshot on Clay and then O'Neil rolled up Clay for the pinfall win. The match went about two minutes. The replay showed that Young used the pick that he uses to come his hair and hit Clay in the throat with it.
Winners: The Prime Time Players
Analysis: A match that meant nothing and was not "great" like the announcers had predicted before it happened.
There was a replay of last week on Raw when Swagger hit Ziggler in the head with the ladder. Then on Smackdown we saw a hard kick to the head by Swagger on Ziggler that gave Ziggler a concussion. It's a legit concussion and Ziggler was on Twitter Monday night (@HeelZiggler) firing off a lot of jokes. Update on the World Title situation after the break.
On the Raw stage, Matt Striker interviewed Teddy Long, who is the senior adviser to Smackdown GM Booker T. Teddy said that he has a decision about the World Heavyweight Championship. Before he could say anything, Jack Swagger & Zeb Colter showed up. Zeb said that Swagger should win the title because he took out Ziggler. Big E Langston and AJ Lee showed up saying the title would not be taken away. Lee said Swagger should be fired. Long said that Ziggler won't be stripped of the World Title. Long said that at Extreme Rules there would be a #1 Contender "I Quit" match between Swagger & Del Rio. That's what I expected. Long also said Langston would face either Del Rio or Swagger based on a WWE App vote later.
Analysis: I guess it's one of those "let's heavily push the WWE App" kind of episodes. The Swagger/Del Rio #1 Contender match is what I expected them to do. The "I Quit" stipulation fits them because they have submission moves for finishers. The most shocking thing about this segment is that Teddy Long didn't make a tag match.
Kofi Kingston entered. It's been 45 minutes and the amount of in-ring "action" this week has been about three minutes to this point. Painful.
I don't understand why WWE goes some weeks where they don't even mention the WWE App. Then they have episodes like this one where they don't shut up about the WWE App all show long.
It was announced that Kofi Kingston would defend the US Title against Dean Ambrose at Extreme Rules. That's surprising to me, but I'm not opposed to it.
Damien Sandow said he wouldn't sing a song on his way to the ring because Kofi Kingston's song is foolish. Sandow said Kingston's reign as US Champion will soon come to an end. I liked his singing better.
Kofi Kingston vs. Damien Sandow
Kingston's US Title is not on the line. Sandow hit the Russian legsweep followed by the Elbow of Disdain for two. Kingston made his comeback. Already? It's only two minutes into the match. Boom Drop by Kingston. Sandow avoided the Trouble in Paradise and a top rope attack. He hit a neckbreaker for two. Kingston countered a hold to hit the Trouble in Paradise to win the match after about three minutes.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Analysis: * Another rushed match.
Mark Henry was shown walking backstage to deliver a promo.
Analysis: The first hour of this show was not good at all. I'm trying to be positive and find good things to talk about, but there really wasn't anything worth discussing. Holy shit that was bad. It doesn't help that the three matches were ridiculously short.
Mark Henry was in the ring with a strap to promote his Strap Match at Extreme Rules against Sheamus. They cut to a video of how the match got set up last week with Henry using a belt to attack Sheamus.
Henry was interviewed by Josh Mathews. He said he's going to do the same thing at Extreme Rules. Then there was a clip from Smackdown when Henry was pulling two tractor trailers 20 feet. They're 110,000 pounds. Sure he did. (That's also sarcasm.) But it looked good. Henry put the strap on the wrist of Mathews. Then he threw him down. Henry touched the four corners of the ring consecutively to show us how you win the match. Mathews ran out of there. Henry wanted Sheamus to come out there now.
Sheamus did a promo from the top of the ramp. Henry wanted him to come down to the ring. He called Sheamus a coward. Sheamus walked down to the ring even though Henry had the strap in his hand. Sheamus told him to back up. Sheamus grabbed a present under the ring - it was a strip of his own. They took shots at eachother with the strap. Sheamus won that battle because Henry escaped to the floor.
Analysis: That was effective in the sense that it showed the fans how to win a Strap match. The crowd got into it by the end. They will have a very physical match at Extreme Rules. It could be fun.
We saw a clip from January 28, 2013 when Brock Lesnar dropped Vince McMahon with the F5. I love how McMahon was going to fire Heyman, yet he didn't do it after the attack either. Oh well. Heyman on TV is a great thing. Face to face is later.
There was a trailer for the world premiere of "12 Rounds 2: Reloaded" starring Randy Orton. It comes out on June 4. I remember when this was a wrestling show.
A replay of the dance off segment. It was about an hour earlier yet it felt like two hours.
Randy Orton vs. Antonio Cesaro
This is a rematch from Main Event. WWE loves to repeat matches. Cesaro was in control early on as I got the sense that we could get a match longer than three minutes this week. Nice overhead suplex by Orton. After some clotheslines, Orton hit a powerslam. Crowd was hot for this match probably because the previous hour was pretty bad. Cesaro rollup got two. Orton popped right up and hit the RKO to win the match after two minutes.
Winner: Randy Orton
Analysis: 1/2* I guess I jumped the gun thinking we might get a longer match. This was a "finish out of nowhere" kind of match.
Later on Raw it's John Cena and Team Hell No versus The Shield in a 3 on 3 elimination tag match. That match will get a good amount of time at least. They went to break there.
Heath Slater was in the ring with the other 3MB jobbers to lose a match. Against who? The Miz.
The Miz vs. Heath Slater (w/Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal)
Miz hit a running kick to the head. JBL said he loved Slater, but that he was a nutcase. Miz hit his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo for two. Outside interference allowed Slater to get a jumping side kick for two. Slater missed a corner charge, so Miz made the big comeback with a boot to the face. Apparently Wade Barrett is talking about Miz on the WWE App. During the match? Who wants to watch a promo while a match is going on? Miz wanted the Figure Four, but Slater got to the ropes. Miz threw Slater off the top rope onto his buddies outside the ring. Miz rolled Slater back into the ring, hit a dropkick to the knee and then finished it off with the Figure Four Leglock to win the match after four minutes.
Winner: The Miz
Analysis: * Longest match of the night 90 minutes into the show and it got four minutes. I'm surprised it even went that long. It would be nice if Miz worked on the knee for more than one move before hitting the Figure Four Leglock. But I guess it's not a big deal. Cole shouted that Wade Barrett better be watching, so I guess we should remember they had a feud.
There was a video of Layla and Alicia Fox supporting breast cancer research. Yes those women still work for WWE.
The six man tag is up next. A match that could go longer than four minutes. What a crazy thought!
More build for Lesnar/Triple H by showing their fight before WrestleMania when Lesnar was bleeding. This show feels four hours long this week.
Prior to the tag match we found out that Kane & Daniel Bryan will defend the tag titles against Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns in a tornado tag match. That means all four guys can be in the ring at once. I like tornado tag matches. That should be fun. I expect a title change.
Elimination Tag Team Match: Kane, Daniel Bryan & John Cena vs. The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns)
Kane started off with Ambrose with Kane's power giving him control of the action. Bryan hit a series of kicks on Ambrose. Cena tagged in to a big reaction as he delivered a bulldog on Rollins. They went to break there.
Back from break, Bryan applied the surfboard to Ambrose. Kane hit a seated dropkick on Ambrose. It was time for some babyface isolation, so The Shield used the numbers game to dominate Bryan in the corner. Shoulderblock by Reigns as Ryback talked to Matt Striker on the App. Why would I turn it to the App when a match is going on? I actually know that the second W in WWE stands for "wrestling" ya know? Running dropkick by Rollins. Ambrose slowed it down with submissions, but Bryan broke free with a knee to the gut. Kane got the hot tag and hit his signature moves on Ambrose including the sidewalk slam and a jumping DDT for two. Top rope clothesline by Kane on Ambrose. Kane knocked all three Shield members to the floor. He was throwing them into objects outside the ring. He cleared the announce table. Ref Mike Chioda disqualified Kane for attacking everybody outside the ring.
Kane eliminated via disqualification.
Back from break, Ambrose hit a DDT on Cena. Reigns hit a flying forearm shot for two. Then he yelled because that's what he does. Cena hit a suplex on Reigns. Rollins hit a jumping knee attack on Cena for two - I love that move. Rollins applied a sleeper, which Cena fought out of and tagged in Bryan. Dropkick by Bryan on Ambrose & Reigns followed by a dive on the floor to Reigns. Forearm shot to Rollins. What an amazing sequence. Missile dropkick by Bryan as the crowd went wild on that two count. Rollins fought out of the No Lock and Ambrose tagged in. Rollins hit a jumping kick to the head. Ambrose hit his face first DDT variation to pin and eliminate Bryan.
Daniel Bryan eliminated via pinfall.
That meant that Cena was all alone against The Shield. Cena fought out of the corner with shoulderblocks followed by the spinning slam and the Five Knuckle Shuffle on Rollins. He dumped Ambrose & Reigns outside the ring. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on Rollins to eliminate him.
Seth Rollins eliminated via pinfall.
The ref tried to restrain Reigns, but he shoved the ref down. Reigns hit a Spear on Cena. The ref disqualified Reigns, so Ambrose was the last one left for his team.
Roman Reigns eliminated via disqualification.
After a quick Ambrose pin attempt, Cena tripped him up and applied the STF. Rollins & Reigns attacked Cena, so The Shield was DQ'd. The match went 24 minutes.
Winners: John Cena, Daniel Bryan & Kane (via DQ)
Post match, The Shield continued to attack Cena. They gave him the three man powerbomb.
Analysis: *** It was a good match that was given over 20 minutes, which is always nice to see. Two commercials during the match definitely hurt a bit, but you have to pay the bills too. I thought it was too slow in the first half to the point that it hurt the match a bit. I would have liked to see an elimination earlier. I didn't like Kane's elimination or Reigns either, but that's how WWE books their strong characters. What's most interesting about this match is that this was the first time The Shield lost a match as a group. Yes it was a DQ ending, but it was still a loss. I didn't expect that to happen on a random Raw. I thought it would be a bigger deal when they did lose. I guess what the announcers will push is that they have never lost a tag match by getting pinned or losing via submission. It's a technicality of course. But this is WWE. They love technicalities. Even though The Shield didn't win the match they were booked to look strong after the match with the powerbomb.
With Cena out in the ring, Ryback's music started up. Ryback went to the ring and looked like he wasn't going to do anything. Then he went back towards the ring. He grabbed a steel chair from under the ring. He hit Cena's injured right foot with a chair shot. Just one. He posed over Cena to end the segment.
Analysis: Good heel move. I fully expect Cena to retain the WWE Title on Sunday, but it's not a sure thing. The booking has been okay for the feud. Last week they hurt the feud by talking too much. This week they added to the story with Ryback going after the injured foot of Cena. I have no problem with that.
Another Lesnar/Triple H clip. This time from WrestleMania 29 where Triple H beat Lesnar with his career on the line.
Backstage, Ryback said (to Matt Striker) that he tried to play by the rules. This Sunday it's about Ryback Rules. Short promo, but that's fine.
We got clips from last week with Jack Swagger going crazy by using a ladder. Those were some really stiff ladder shots from Swagger. We also saw the kick that Swagger delivered to injure Ziggler last week.
Big E Langston made his entrance along with AJ Lee. Who would his opponent be as chosen by the WWE Universe on the WWE App? Jack Swagger got 65% of the vote and Alberto Del Rio got 35%. Did they vote for the heel because they're scared of the heel Langston and they want to protect Del Rio?
Big E Langston (w/AJ Lee) vs. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter)
They each hit some shoulderblocks early on. Swagger used the top rope to stagger Langston. Slam by Swagger got a two. They went to break with both guys in the ring.
Back from break, Cole said it was a record setting vote on the WWE App. There's no way to prove it, so it's smart to say it. Langston was in control with a shoulder block in the corner. Swagger came back with a clothesline as they plugged Ziggler talking on the WWE App. Again, why do you have promos on the App while Raw is going on? Langston hit a clothesline. Langston gave Swagger a superplex off the middle rope that got him a two count. Swagger took down Langston with a chop block. Patriot Lock by Swagger. Langston grabbed the bottom rope. Back body drop by Langston over the top rope. Langston whipped Swagger into the barricade (or security wall). Langston charged in, Swagger ducked and Langston fell into the crowd. Swagger rolled back in before the ten count, so Langston lost via countout. It went about 11 minutes.
Winner: Jack Swagger via countout
Analysis: *1/2 The booking was done that way to protect both guys by not having either man pinned. I thought it was going to be difficult to pin either one and you don’t want to pin Langston for the first time on a heel like Swagger. Still, Langston lost and that's surprising enough to me. Obviously it made sense for Swagger to get a win.
Alberto Del Rio went after Swagger after the match. Swagger took him down with a slam and then the Patriot Lock. Ricardo attacked with the bucket from behind. Del Rio used that opportunity to apply the Cross Armbreaker. Langston went into the ring. He took an enziguiri kick from Del Rio. Del Rio gave Swagger a clothesline to end the segment.
Analysis: There was so much going on, but Del Rio was made to look like the guy that won that segment even though he needed the help of Rodriguez. I expect Del Rio to beat Swagger at Extreme Rules. That likely means Swagger getting the advantage on Smackdown later this week. The segment was okay.
On the Extreme Rules pre-show it's The Miz against Cody Rhodes. That's pretty random.
The Bellas, Kaitlyn, The Great Khali and Hornswoggle were all at ringside. Kaitlyn looked great in a short skirt showing off her legs. She's a fine looking woman.
Natalya vs. AJ Lee
As soon as the match was going on, a present was delivered to Kaitlyn. Natalya dropped AJ Lee with a suplex. The announcers talked about the secret admirer angle with Kaitlyn. Natalya charged at her aggressively in the corner. AJ ran outside the ring. She hit a hard kick to the leg. Natalya knocked AJ off the apron. There are six people with headsets on, so it's hard to understand what they are talking about. Natalya rolled AJ back in the ring as AJ did her usual deal of selling as if she was really out of it. Natalya went for a slam, but AJ countered it with an armbar around the neck/shoulder of Natalya. That led to the submission victory for AJ after four minutes.
Winner: AJ Lee
Analysis: * I'm not sure why they had so many people at the announce desk. It made the match an afterthought in a lot of ways. It was nice to see Natalya in a match because it feels like it's been a while since we've seen her in action. I liked the finishing move of AJ Lee. It was surprising to see her apply it the way that she did. It also looked great and painful. That's the key to a submission move. You need to make it look credible. I thought they would do AJ vs. Kaitlyn at Extreme Rules, but it doesn't look like it is happening there.
The Triple H/Brock Lesnar "face to face" segment is next.
There was a recap of the Jericho/Fandango dance off story. I don't think it needed two recaps in the show.
Backstage, Matt Striker talked to Chris Jericho. Jericho said no more dance off's or joking. He said he can say Fandango's name. He said he's a 6 time World Champion who has done it all, seen it all and beaten them all in WWE. His name is pronounced Chris Jericho. He said this Sunday at Extreme Rules he will teach Fandango how to dance Jericho style.
Analysis: See that? That's what this feud needed all month. They should have made it more of a rivalry instead of trying all the comedy stuff and non-wrestling stuff that really didn't work well. If he did that promo in the ring it would have meant a lot more than in a backstage segment too. At least it's better than the tone of the feud up until that point. It's as if they realized "holy shit this feud has sucked" and let Jericho do the hard sell with a money promo, which this was. But why didn't they think like that sooner?
Triple H made his entrance for the "face to face" showdown. He was rocking jeans and t-shirt along with taped up fists for some reason. As they panned the crowd you could see a steel cage hanging above the ring. Triple H stared at it. The cage was lowered. They went to break with the cage being lowered.
Face to Face with Triple H & Brock Lesnar
Triple H was inside the steel cage for a promo. He said he's been in a battle with Brock Lesnar for the past year. This Sunday this thing between them gets settled. Hunter said that he got advice early in his career that if you want to be good at this (wrestling) you have to learn to hate. He said he learned to hate and he learned to thrive on it. He spoke about how steel can rip your flesh and break your bones. "Brock Lesnar, you're here, I'm here - they're here (the crowd) and more importantly the steel is here." He invited Lesnar to the ring.
Brock Lesnar's music hit as he stood on the ramp with Paul Heyman, who had a microphone in hand. Triple H cut off Heyman. He wanted to fight Lesnar. Heyman said that Triple H has been driven to the use "hate" and that he thought it was a word they weren't supposed to use. Heyman said that Lesnar is going to teach Triple H the true meaning of the word hate because he's a cage fighting carnivore and Triple H is the "biggest slab of meat" in WWE. Heyman claimed that Hunter is going to "hate" the fact that he is going to face his family after his loss to Lesnar. Heyman said that Lesnar would emerge as the winner. One man will be the loser and Heyman claimed that it would be Triple H. Heyman said that Lesnar is ready for a fight, but it would be on Sunday because Lesnar does not fight for free. They were about to leave.
Hunter cut the music off and kept talking. He said that he wondered why Lesnar wouldn't stand face to face with him (Hunter). Hunter bragged about beating Lesnar at WrestleMania. Hunter said that if he beats Lesnar again then that's really bad for Heyman too. Hunter said that he knows Lesnar believes he's still the baddest man in the room. He wondered if Heyman believed it. Hunter said he's no longer talking to Heyman. He wondered if he was going to step into the ring to prove to the world that he's Brock Lesnar the beast or if he's Brock Lesnar "the bitch." That's not a word we hear very often! Lesnar walked down the ramp towards the cage. Referees tried to cut him off. Heyman wanted him to leave. Lesnar slowly walked into the ring as they faced off.
Lesnar drove Triple H into the corner. Hunter came back, but Lesnar hit a perfect German suplex. He told Heyman to shut the door. Lesnar's charge attempt missed as Hunter sent him into the cage. Triple H whipped Lesnar into the cage door where Heyman was standing and Heyman went to the floor. Lesnar was outside the ring. The show ended with Triple H wanting more of Lesnar, but Lesnar walked away. Loud "Triple H" chant from the crowd. There was a replay of what happened. Lesnar helped Heyman up. They left to boos. That was the end of Raw.
Analysis: It was a good segment. I thought Hunter rambled on a bit too much and it took them a while to get to the brawling part, but once they got there the crowd was really into it. My Extreme Rules pick was going to be Lesnar when the match was announced and that's what I expect after this segment. Hunter got the advantage here, so Lesnar will likely be the winner of the match as he should be. Heyman did a good job like usual. I'm actually surprised that Hunter used the word "bitch" there. That's definitely not a PG word. While I don't have a problem with it I'm sure it will make some excitable fans think that the PG era is coming to a close. No. It's not. And that's okay with me.
I'm more excited for their cage match than I was for the WrestleMania match. At WrestleMania I knew Hunter was going over and at no point did it feel like a great match. At least with the steel cage setting they will be able to tell the story of a physical match.
Three Stars of the Show:
1. Daniel Bryan
2. Dean Ambrose
3. Seth Rollins
4 out of 10
Last week: 4
2013 Average: 5.45
2013 High: 8 (April 8)
2013 Low: 3.5 (January 28)
Last 5 Weeks: 4, 6, 7, 5.5, 8
That's another 4 out of 10 for the second week in a row. It was an underwhelming edition of Raw. I thought there were some bad segments (like Jericho/Fandango) and the ladder match I was anticipating is now an I Quit match without the World Champion, so that hurts Extreme Rules a lot too.
The in-ring action was below average aside from the six man tag and that one pissed me off because of the booking. Why? Because there was no reason to book The Shield to lose a match on free TV like that. I know it was only a DQ, but there are other ways to book it or don't book it at all.
I also think it was dumb to book Langston to lose a countout too. If you want these new stars to get over they need to be booked stronger than that.
I really don't know what to think about Lesnar vs. Triple H. The feud is fine, but it's not as great as Triple H probably thinks it is. Lesnar better win on Sunday. He needs it if you want him to continue to have credibility.
I missed Dolph Ziggler and hope he feels better soon. Go read his tweets @HEELZiggler from Monday night because he had a lot of funny lines all night long.
As far as the WWE App goes, here's a meme that clearly let's you know how I feel about it.
I don't know who made it, but it sums up my feelings perfectly while using one of my favorite movie characters ever with Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction.
We'll bring it home with some plugs.
I'll be back on Friday with TJRWrestling's Andrew Johnson and Christian Michael to preview WWE Extreme Rules. Then on Sunday night I'll have live coverage of Extreme Rules on TJRWrestling.com as well.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org