Live from Richmond, Virginia this is the Raw Deal for episode #1103. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
There was no video package or music to open the show. It began with the WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena entering the ring to a mixed ovation. He was wearing the two major titles around his neck. Main event is Cena, Reigns & Ambrose against Orton, Kane & Rollins. They will mention it all night long.
Cena plugged the WWE Network by saying the free preview ends at midnight and the reason is because of this - the WWE Title. He said that in six days at Battleground the champ may not be here. There was barely a reaction, but he paused for it anyway. Cena mentioned facing off against Orton, Kane and Reigns and that he didn't have to get pinned to lose the championship.
Roman Reigns made his entrance through the crowd and faced off with Cena. Cena thanked Reigns for saving him from last week, but told him they had to make it to Sunday. Reigns told him to get to the point. Cena said they should handle The Authority tonight by taking out Kane and Orton and then on Sunday we can see how good Reigns is. Reigns fired back by saying we will see if Cena is as good as he thinks he is.
Dean Ambrose appeared on the video screen. He said they're fighting in a six man tag. Ambrose talked about his plan called "Operation Screw The Authority" and it involves them getting together to kick their asses. Kane, Seth Rollins & Randy Orton showed up where Ambrose was. They attacked him. Ambrose tried to fight back, but he was overwhelmed. They whipped him back first into a garage door in the backstage area. Then Rollins threw him into the door again. Kane gave Ambrose a Chokeslam on some kind of box. Ambrose wondered if that's all they had. Rollins gave him a Curb Stomp off one box onto some wood that was nearby.
The show just went to break.
Analysis: I don't know about you, but I kept thinking that Cena and Reigns would run into the screen at the end of it to make it look like they actually cared about their partner. Apparently not. Ambrose showed a lot of fight in taking the beating, then asking them if that was all they could do and then he got his ass kicked again. It was a believable attack too. It makes people wonder if he's going to be able to compete in the main event, which seems unlikely. Good opening segment.
They replayed Ambrose getting destroyed.
Sheamus entered for a match. The Miz did a promo on his way to the ring by saying that his goal was to prevent the Sheamus Brogue Kick from hitting WWE's biggest asset, his face. He said that his face (the money maker) would be on display for the match, so the face of The Miz appeared on the video screen. They're both a part of the battle royal for the IC Title at Battleground.
Sheamus vs. The Miz
This is not for the US Title belonging to Sheamus. Miz was overpowered early, but he was able to get the momentum after tossing Sheamus into the barricade. Sheamus made a brief comeback, but Miz rolled to the floor to counter it as they did their vintage floor to commercial break.
Back from break, Miz tossed Sheamus when they were outside the ring and Sheamus grabbed his leg. As Miz applied a leg lock, there was a graphic that showed participants in the IC Title battle royal match. Cole said that Bad News Barrett would be there to present the title to the winner. Sheamus hit a powerslam for two followed by a clothesline to the back of the head. Miz yanked Sheamus off the top and then hit a DDT for two. Sheamus hit the Irish Curse backbreaker for two. Miz kicked him in the knee, Sheamus missed a Brogue Kick attempt in the corner and Miz rolled him up for the win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: The Miz
Analysis: **1/2 It was an average match with an ending that was a bit surprising because Sheamus rarely loses clean like that. However, they really needed to get Miz a win over somebody that's on the same level as him, so I liked that aspect of it.
The trio of Orton, Rollins & Kane said they did their job well tonight. Orton said if they did the same thing on Sunday then nothing will stop him from being WWE Champion, but Kane said maybe he'll be the champ. They talked about trust. Triple H showed up to say they should trust each other because he trusts them. Most importantly it's about bringing the WWE Title back to The Authority. He told them they had to have trust tonight. The heels left. Stephanie McMahon showed up to say she loved when Hunter took control of things. Then she kissed him. A long smooch for them. Good line by Cole about how they must have had a good vacation.
Analysis: It was a good segment to show that the heel side is together at least tonight, but that could always change too.
The announce team of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & John Bradshaw Layfield plugged the WWE Network free preview ending tonight.
Dolph Ziggler was in the ring for a match after the break.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango
The story is that Fandango is solo now after the girls dumped him on Smackdown. Ziggler hit a leaping clothesline, but then he hit the turnbuckle after missing a corner splash. The Fandango music started up as Layla and Summer Rae showed up to dance on the announce table. Fandango was distracted by it. The announcers said it was incredible. Ziggler hit a dropkick. Ziggler hit the Fameasser to win the match after three minutes. It's nice to see him win with that move for a change.
Winner by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler
Post match, the girls went into the ring to do some more dancing. Ziggler was in the middle of it and he was pretty happy about it. Fandango was watching it from the corner. Fans chanted "yes" as both girls planted kisses on the cheeks of Ziggler. They left happily.
Analysis: *1/2 We've seen Ziggler vs. Fandango so many times. It only went two minutes before the musical interference. The girls looked lovely and did a good job of pissing off Fandango for being a jerk to them. I still don't know why they wanted to take the girls away from Fandango because it will hurt his gimmick to be without them. Summer's clearly better as a heel as anybody that watches NXT can figure out. As for Ziggler, it's a solid win although it's not like Fandango is a big star at this point either.
Retro Raw Deal from five years ago: I'm re-posting my Raw Deal review columns from five years ago every Sunday, so be sure to check out the July 13, 2009 edition. I post the original version and I also add in comments. Five years ago the host was actor Seth Green and he actually did a really good job all night long. There was also a wonderful pin by Maryse that I got a picture of, so you should check it out.
There was a Sonic delivery advertisement backstage with Damien Sandow dressed as a Sonic delivery guy. Adam Rose showed up with the Exotic Express. Sandow was mad that Rose interrupted him from enjoying some cheesy goodness. Rose ended up eating it. I noticed Thea Trinidad again (Rosita in TNA) and also indy wrestler Caleb Konley was there as well as others that I don't know.
Analysis: I guess budget cuts in WWE also means blatant advertising segments.
The Usos were doing their entrance for a match. They were blindsided by Harper & Rowan. Rowan tossed one of them into the ring post and then Harper gave him a kick that sent him into the crowd. Back in the ring, there was a double chokeslam by Harper & Rowan.
Analysis: They're having a 2/3 falls match at Battleground and they obviously didn't want to do a long segment to promote it, so they did a vicious beating in about two minutes. It worked. That story doesn't need more build. I'm looking forward to the match at Battleground. A title change is very possible, but the Usos getting beat up here might mean otherwise. I'll think about it for the preview on the weekend.
Coming up later will be an appearance by Ric Flair and a USA/Russia detente up next.
Rusev and Lana were in the ring. Michael Cole was moderating this detente. A detente is a way to discuss political issues. Basically it's a debate. Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger made their entrance along with an American flag. There were podiums in the ring.
Lana did a promo saying you're all stupid and America is stupid. I think putting a podium in front of her is stupid. She yelled "shut up" at the fans chanting "USA" to silence her. Lana said Americans are stupid because after they won freedom from the British they fought themselves in a Civil War. She said Russia is a peaceful and loving country, which is obviously not true after the fall of the USSR, but heels lie like that.
Colter fired back by saying that years ago he was lying face first in dirt while a war was going on. When he went over there he took a vow to protect the US against all enemies foreign and domestic. Colter said "hell no" in reply to her wanting him to apologize. More "USA" chants. Lana said Vladimir Putin could help America and they put up a picture of him on the screen.
Colter said Putin was an ugly man. He said they elect a leader every four years and whether they like him or not a Real American always respects the President of the United States. A Barack Obama picture was shown. Vince McMahon is a Republican that isn't not an Obama fan I assume, but that's why they threw in the "whether they like him or not" line. Colter said he was done talking to her. He asked Rusev when he would be a man and face Jack Swagger at Battleground? The fans chanted "We The People" for it. Rusev said "this is war" as his way to accept the challenge. He left the ring with Lana. Colter wanted Lana to teach him three words: "We The People."
Lana slapped Colter. Swagger took down Rusev with a tackle. Lana grabbed him by the hair, which allowed Rusev to touch throw Swagger into a podium. Rusev hit a splash. He went for his side kick, but Swagger caught him in the Patriot Lock. Huge pop for that! Rusev was able to scramble to the floor to get out of the hold. Another "We The People" chant ended the segment.
Analysis: That was an awesome segment. They have done an excellent job in terms of playing off the real emotion of the fans that actually care about this stuff. It's so easy to get a "USA" chant going and WWE is playing right into that. Lana's very strong on the microphone. Colter is even better. Swagger doesn't have to say a word and all of a sudden the people are behind him even though he was a heel for over five years. All four of them nailed it.
They replayed Ambrose getting attacked with Cole saying that Ambrose was taken to a hospital and that it's unlikely that he would be back later in the show.
Roman Reigns was in the locker room when John Cena showed up. It seemed like Cena was worried, but Reigns played it cool. Cena told him that Reigns has to trust him and Reigns said that by the end of the night they'll take out the three of them. Believe that.
Analysis: I like that Reigns is the guy that plays it cool all the time. He still needs to speak up more during these backstage segments. His voice is deep and doesn't carry that well in this kind of setting.
Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio
They're both in the IC Title match battle royal. They've done this match many times and that's saying something because RVD takes time off too. Del Rio got the advantage after trapping RVD by using the ring apron. There was a DDT by Del Rio that RVD sold like he always does where he almost does a headstand. Leaping kick to the head by Del Rio for two. RVD made the comeback with clotheslines, then a hurricanrana, standing side kick and Rolling Thunder. Spinning back kick to the head by RVD. He went for the Frog Splash, but Del Rio got his knees up. Del Rio applied the Cross Armbreaker for the tapout win after four minutes.
Winner by submission: Alberto Del Rio
Analysis: *1/2 It was just a short match to give Del Rio momentum going into the IC Title match at Battleground. RVD losing isn't anything new. That's all he ever really does anymore. I don't expect either guy to win the battle royal although both are former WWE Champions so they do bring some credibility to the match.
The announcers plugged the WWE Network again. I already have it. I can vouch for it being good and the quality of the PPVs is excellent.
There was a commercial for the CM Punk documentary that will air on WWE Network. The voiceover guy said it was never before seen on TV, which is true although it's from the DVD that WWE released a couple of years ago. It was an amazing DVD that I thought was one of the best WWE has ever done. The documentary is two hours of greatness and if you get the DVD there are a lot of matches on it too.
Analysis: A commercial for a CM Punk documentary will get people thinking that Punk might be back to WWE soon. There's no indication of that at all. His WWE deal is apparently up on July 17 (that's Thursday) and it's not expected that he will have any involvement with WWE after that. Obviously that can change, but for now that's just how it is.
There were more reminders of what was to come.
Nikki Bella entered for a match. There was another video of Brie quitting. Stephanie McMahon showed up to mention that Nikki was all alone in the ring again. She mentioned that Brie Bella left her as her partner just like she left WWE. Stephanie told her not to blame The Authority. She said the person that Nikki has to blame is her sister.
Alicia Fox & Cameron vs. Nikki Bella
Nikki got a quick rollup on Fox for two, but Cameron entered to toss Nikki by her hair. Neckbreaker by Nikki and then she threw Cameron into Alicia. Nikki hit the Alabama Slam on Cameron for two after Alicia made the save. Fox wanted a backbreaker, but Nikki fought back with a dropkick and back body drop. Cameron distracted Nikki, so Fox yanked her off the middle rope. Fox hit an armbreaker that slammed Nikki's face into the mat that Cole called "oh man" and that was enough for the win after three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Alicia Fox & Cameron
Analysis: * Some of Nikki's offense was impressive. She's definitely improved as a performer in the last year. Brie will be back very soon to set up the SummerSlam match with Stephanie McMahon. That's the plan apparently.
There was a video for a pre-order bonus for WWE 2K15. They aired the video that had an orchestra in it and then it led to somebody in black coat along with a baseball bat. The orchestra turned around to reveal white face paint. Then Sting's face was shown. "Two Generations of Sting." That's all it said. The crowd popped when they saw his face.
Analysis: That's what Sting meant by his 07.14.14 tweet last week. It's what I expected too. There's no reason to bring him onto WWE TV at this point, but I would expect it to happen later this year or early next year along with a Hall of Fame induction. He may wrestle a match or two as well. We don't know at this point. It's very cool that he's a part of a WWE video game for the first time, though. I'm not a gamer anymore, but if you are then that's pretty damn cool.
Randy Orton walked up to Hunter in his office to question him about Kane. Hunter called Kane a pawn, but he's their pawn. He said Kane will stick to the plan: "you are the plan." Orton said if he's the plan then there's no need for a plan B. Hunter just said "right" and Orton left.
Analysis: So many trust issues on this show.
There was a backstage segment with Stardust and Goldust. There wasn't much to it expect Goldust reciting some movie lines. He did the chomp to Stardust and Stardust blew his stars into his face, then did the hand gesture telling us he's Stardust.
Analysis: Bizarre, but at least they don't have trust issues.
Cesaro entered the ring on his own for a match. No sign of Paul Heyman.
Plug Time: Go check out my archive at WhatCulture.com for daily posts including the things WWE wants you to forget about the recently retired Santino Marella, a ranking of the 10 most important superstars in the history of Raw, some reasons why WWE may not bring Kurt Angle back and other good stuff too. Thanks for reading!
It's Sheamus vs. The Miz on WWE Main Event on Tuesday because WWE loves to repeat matches.
Cesaro vs. Big E w/Kofi Kingston
Kofi is there to support Big E because Cesaro has had issues with Kingston. A German Suplex by Cesaro, but then Big E came back to slam him down. Outside the ring, Cesaro sent Big E over the barricade and into the crowd. The announcers kept arguing about Paul Heyman with Cole saying he saw Heyman while Lawler thought he got fired. Butterfly suplex by Cesaro for two. Two belly to belly suplexes by Big E and then a big splash. Cesaro grabbed a chair. He threw it at Kingston, who then prevented Cesaro from using another chair. Big E hit the Big Ending to win the match after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Big E
Analysis: ** The power moves by both guys was fun to watch. It was the second week where Cesaro lost clean on Raw since he lost to Kingston last week. That could be seen as a good sign because sometimes WWE likes to have guys lose before they put titles on them, so maybe Cesaro will end up as the IC Champ. The Heyman story is pretty random at this point. Not sure what's up with it yet.
A graphic showed the entrants in the battle royal at Battleground. It moved too fast for me to name them all.
They aired videos from the past few weeks to highlight the Bray Wyatt feud with Chris Jericho.
Chris Jericho made his entrance in street clothes (along with his light up jacket) as the show went to break right before the top of the third hour.
Jericho started off his promo saying that he's seen them all in his 15 years in WWE. He ran through all the crazy things he's seen in WWE and even mentioned the great Naked Mideon. He spoke about all of his accomplishments while challenging Bob Barker with a smile. He spoke about being a WWE Champion, IC Champion, the guy that beat Rock & Austin in the same night, but he's never seen anybody like Wyatt. He called him an unstoppable force. I'm a huge Jericho fan. However, Cena stopped Wyatt more than once. Jericho mentioned they would have a match at Battleground. He said he's got the WWE Universe in his hands.
Bray Wyatt appeared on the video screen for a promo. He talked about how Jericho was full of energy. Wyatt wondered where Jericho was when he said they would save them, but he wasn't there. Wyatt talked about going to war with powerful men and he's noticed something with them. No matter how tough they were, they all scream. He laughed as some fans were chanting "boring" at it. Don't chant that at this man.
The lights went out in the arena. Rowan and Harper stared at Jericho in the ring. Jericho ducked under a kick attempt by Harper. He went up the ramp as his music started to play. Jericho backed up the ramp like some rookie and Wyatt nailed Jericho in the back of the head with a forearm shot. Wyatt gave him the Sister Abigail at the top of the ramp. The move doesn't look impressive on top of the ramp. "Follow the buzzards."
Analysis: Jericho did a promo talking about how he's seen it all yet he's not able to tell when a guy is ready to attack him from behind when he's going up the ramp? I know he was getting stacked by Rowan & Harper, but it makes Jericho look like an idiot. The segment was good. However, it wasn't that creative either. We see it all the time.
Main event is Cena & Reigns vs. Orton, Kane & Rollins.
The announcers were joined by Paige. She's taking on AJ Lee for the Divas Title at Battleground.
AJ Lee vs. Eva Marie
Paige said that she was friends with AJ Lee. Eva got sent to the floor. AJ followed her, so Eva kicked her into the side of the ring. Eva applied a basic submission hold. Eva hit a backbreaker. When she went for another one, AJ countered it and AJ applied the Black Widow submission for the win after three minutes.
Winner by submission: AJ Lee
Analysis: 1/2* It was just an easy win for AJ. Eva Marie looked better than she has in the past, so that's good. It's not like she did a lot, but it was fine. The backbreaker is a good move for her.
Paige applauded the win at ringside. AJ walked over to the announce table. She took JBL's headset. Paige told her that the victory was great and that she loved her hair. AJ said she looked awesome too. Then AJ left. That was it.
Analysis: My feeling is that AJ is going to win clean on Sunday, then Paige is going to turn heel after the match or on Raw when she becomes upset because she can't beat AJ. Then they can have another match at SummerSlam too.
Hunter and Stephanie were talking in their office. Kane said he didn't like Randy Orton or trust him. Stephanie said they had people that worked for them that they didn't like, but it's what you have to do in business. Hunter told him to do what he had to do on Sunday and that he should just get it done.
Analysis: We get it. The heels don't trust each other. Too many backstage segments.
Bo Dallas was in the ring. He talked about defeating El Torito and said he had a big heart. Dallas said that he can only hope his opponent has a heart as big as Torito.
Bo Dallas vs. The Great Khali
Khali nailed him with some chops. Bo tried to hit him with some, but Khali just tossed him over the top to the floor. Khali followed him out. Dallas hit a dropkick to the knee. Then he gave Khali a bulldog off the apron and onto the floor. Khali couldn't make it back into the ring, so Dallas is a winner by countout after two minutes. JBL said that Dallas was 15-0 (or 15 and Bo).
Winner by countout: Bo Dallas
Post match, Khali got on the microphone said "hey there big buddy" and he tried to give him a pep talk, but Khali chopped him in the head to end that. That was funny.
Analysis: 1/2* The streak continues for Dallas. I hope he wins the IC Title although that's far from a sure thing.
The announcers plugged the WWE Network again by mentioning that the "Best of WCW Nitro" would be on after Raw airs. There was a video about it.
Seth Rollins talked to Hunter and Stephanie about how if Randy or Kane couldn't win the WWE Title at Battleground then he could help as he referenced the Money in the Bank briefcase. In other words, he wants to cash in if they don't get the job done. Rollins left.
Paul Heyman showed up in the office. He said that just in case Hunter needed a full proof plan C then he's the guy that Hunter should talk to. Then Heyman left.
Analysis: He's referring to Brock Lesnar. It's a nice tease for him.
Ric Flair was shown walking backstage.
Next week on Raw from Miami will have a special appearance from rapper Flo Rida.
The lovely Renee Young was in the ring and she introduced the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, who entered the ring in a suit as the crowd went wild. Flair mentioned all the great times in Richmond. He also said that "Virginia is for lovers" as he let off his trademark "woo" a few times. Renee asked him who would win the Fatal 4-Way match at Battleground and he said it would be John Cena.
Analysis: They bring Ric Flair back to do something as simple as that? There wasn't much to it although it's always nice to see him.
Roman Reigns' music started up and he entered through the crowd again. He stared at Flair. Then John Cena made his entrance. Flair showed him respect. Cena actually handed him the World Title and went to the ring with only the WWE Title. Main event is up next.
Analysis: It was cool to see Cena give Flair the World Title since Flair helped make that title famous. I've been saying for months they need to get rid of that title and just keep the WWE Title. No idea if it was official. It wasn't played up that way.
This week on Smackdown it's Chris Jericho vs. Luke Harper. They usually put Harper in matches more than Rowan because Harper's the better of the two.
The heels made their entrance with Rollins up first, then Orton and then Kane.
Roman Reigns & John Cena vs. Seth Rollins, Randy Orton & Kane
Cena hit a back elbow on Orton. Kane tagged in for his team. Reigns tagged himself in. They exchanged punches, which was a battle won by Kane. Reigns hit him with a clothesline, but after a distraction from Orton, Kane nailed Reigns with a clothesline. Rollins stomped away on Reigns in the corner and they went to break.
Back from break, Reigns was still being worked on in the heel corner. Cena received the hot tag at the same time as Rollins. Kane distracted Cena, so Rollins nailed Cena with a jumping kick to the head that knocked him down. Dropkick by Cena on Orton, but then Orton came back with a backbreaker for two. More tags by the heel team as they worked over Cena. Rollins hit two vertical suplexes, but then Cena hit one on him.
Reigns received the hot tag. He crushed Orton with punches and then the leaping kick on the apron. Superman Punch by Reigns to Kane. He gave Rollins a clothesline over the top. Rollins grabbed his knee right away. Samoan Drop by Reigns on Orton. Kane attacked Reigns even though Orton was legal. Both guys stomped on Reigns, so the ref just rang the bell for the DQ finish after 14 minutes.
Winners by disqualification: John Cena & Roman Reigns
Analysis: **1/2 It was an average tag match. You could tell that they weren't going to do a clean finish because they want all of them to look strong going into Battleground.
Post match, Cena went after Orton and Kane. Cena ducked a Kane punch, which connected on Orton. Reigns went for a Spear on Orton, but he moved and Reigns took out Cena. Kane knocked Reigns down. Orton got up beside Kane, then gave him a RKO even though they're supposed to be working together.
Orton was celebrating as the others were knocked down. Reigns got back into the ring and gave Orton a Spear. Reigns celebrated as the other three guys were all down in the ring and that's the end of the show.
Analysis: They have done a really good job of painting the picture of doubt for this match. We don't know if Kane can really trust Orton especially after falling victim to a RKO towards the end of this show. Then there's the Reigns/Cena factor. They've worked together against the forces of evil, but on Sunday it's about every man for himself. My expectation is a Cena win. It seems pretty obvious that he's not going to lose the WWE Title just three weeks after winning it.
It was a good ending although it wasn't anything new. We see those types of endings all the time where guys hit their big moves in a sequence like that. What concerns me is the health of Seth Rollins although reports on Tuesday morning are saying that it was just an angle.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Zeb Colter
3. Jack Swagger/Rusev
I cheated and gave it to four people. Loved that segment.
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 6
2014 Average: 6.22
2014 High: 9 (April 7 & June 30)
2014 Low: 3.5 (June 2)
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 9, 7, 6.5, 6
It gets a 5.5 out of 10.
This week's Raw was a pretty standard go home show. There weren't any standout matches. My favorite part of the show was the Colter/Swagger face off with Lana/Rusev. That was a basic pro wrestling segment that ended up being a lot of fun.
What will get people talking is that Sting commercial for the video game. It has nothing to do with this Raw, though, so it's not like that is going to help quality of the show.
That's all for me. Just a reminder that we'll have a WWE Battleground PPV Preview posted most likely on Saturday morning and then Sunday night I'll write about it live on TJRWrestling.com and then post it on other sites after that.
Thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org