Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Monday Night Raw
Date: July 13, 2015
Location: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Commentators: Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield, Byron Saxton
It’s the go home show for Battleground and thankfully Brock is here, hopefully to beat up a pair of cars in a handicap match this week. Other than that we have the rest of the build towards Wyatt vs. Reigns, possibly even including why they’re fighting and what it has to do with Reigns’ daughter, and more stuff including whatever Ambrose might be doing on Sunday. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of last week’s Lesnar beatdown, complete with Heyman reusing the Dudleys’ commandment of don’t screw with Brock. It’s fair to erase the Dudleys from history at this point so it’s not that big a deal. Heyman might have written that line in the first place.
Here are Brock and Heyman to get things going, drawing a SUPLEX CITY chant. For some reason the crushed car is brought out as Heyman proclaims Brock’s impending dominance over Rollins this coming Sunday. Paul lists off Brock’s accomplishments and the various people he’s conquered before promising to have Lesnar suplex Rollins all over the place, put his foot on Seth’s chest and be proclaimed the champion once again.
Cue Rollins and Kane because YAY KANE IS BACK FROM HAWAII OR WHATEVER THAT STUPID STORY WAS! Rollins talks about how Brock is frustrated over his inability to be champion and stumbles over trying to say “an inanimate object” in a funny goof. Brock has been carrying the car around the country (in a truck or on his back?) like a symbol and that’s just fine, because Suplex City is burned to the ground tonight.
Brock offers to take Rollins to Suplex City tonight but Kane intervenes with the threat of a contract signing. Kane threatens Lesnar if he messes up the contract signing but Heyman laughs off the threats from “Undertaker’s baby brother.” Kane is of course annoyed as Heyman goes on about Brock smashing stuff with one final promise of pain to Rollins if he provokes the Beast tonight.
It’s going to be a big one:
Miz is on commentary and this is billed as an All-Star match. I’d prefer we go play that over the top video game instead but have it your way. This is the old standard idea of taking two feuds and combining them into a tag match, which is an idea that stays around because it still works. Ryback knocks Sheamus to the floor to start and we’re in a very early break.
Back with Sheamus bailing into the floor to hide from Orton. Apparently Randy is really bad at hide and seek so it’s back to Ryback vs. Big Show with the latter stomping Ryback down onto the mat to take over. Sheamus tries a bearhug and is easily driven into the corner for the tag to Orton. Remember the days when Sheamus was like, really really strong? What happened to that?
Back from a second break with an Irish Curse (backbreaker. OH THE SCANDAL!) for two on Orton but he counters Big Show’s chokeslam into a DDT for a breather. Miz gets off of commentary and shouts on a mic as Ryback comes in and cleans house. Big Show has enough of Miz though and chases him up the ramp, leaving Sheamus to take an RKO and top rope splash from Ryback for the pin at 15:21.
Rating: C+. Nice long tag match here and again, a good way to set up both matches at once. I would have liked a countout or DQ finish instead of having Sheamus take a pin, but it’s a plus that he took two finishers for a pin so it’s hardly clean. Sheamus vs. Orton does nothing for me and the triple threat isn’t much better, but at least there’s something on the line and Ryback has started looking good again.
Rollins doesn’t like the idea of the contract signing but Kane has a plan.
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt
Good grief people build a midcard already. Wyatt’s name graphic is just letters on a screen now instead of in a box like everyone else. During the entrance though, Reigns appears and lays out Wyatt as Ambrose is just kind of forgotten. Bray finally gets in a lantern shot to escape. No match.
Here’s one that would be a very different match later:
Here are the Bellas and Alicia Fox with something to say. Nikki brags about holding the title forever because AJ Lee MUST be eliminated from history. She’s defended against every single Diva there is and has given them all a chance. A quick search shows that, at least in TV matches, Nikki has defended against AJ, Naomi and Tamina (whose one shot came at Beast in the East) and that’s it. She calls the three of them Team Bella, because all you have to do these days is put the word Team in front of a name. Come up with something more interesting, please.
Nikki goes on about how awesome she is and how dominant they are….and here’s Stephanie McMahon because she hasn’t laid waste to the Divas yet. Stephanie is a face tonight too because there’s something cool coming and therefore she just MUST be there to get a piece of the action. The legacy of the WWE rests on her shoulders (yes, Stephanie says this company’s history is on HER shoulders) and there’s a revolution going on right now in women’s sports, ranging from women’s soccer to UFC to tennis. These are supposed to be applause lines if that’s not clear.
Stephanie introduces Paige, because of ALL DIVAS IN WWE, Paige is the one that would be thrilled to be associated with Stephanie. I mean Paige is clearly a corporate loyalist right? Nikki talks about how Paige doesn’t deserve another shot, but STEPHANIE runs WWE and this division instead of her.
Stephanie, the WWE and Paige want this revolution (what is she even talking about?) but courage can’t do it alone. Therefore, Paige needs backup. Instead of bringing this person out though, Stephanie goes on about how amazing they are and FINALLY introduces Becky Lynch. Now, does Becky get to say anything and introduce herself? Of course not, because that would cut away from Stephanie’s mic time, meaning the boss gets to introduce Charlotte, in that voice that only Stephanie can deliver.
Cole: “STEPHANIE HAS SHAKEN THINGS UP!” I hate this company at times. Stephanie: “WOO!” Oh shut up. Cue Naomi and Tamina with a mic because we haven’t heard enough horrible voices yet. Naomi says the two of them are all the competition the Bellas need. That’s all the mic time she needs too, because Stephanie needs to bring out Sasha Banks. Sasha stands with Naomi and Tamina, but STEPHANIE WON’T SHUT HER FREAKING MOUTH and talks about setting the table for opportunity.
We get a THIS IS AWESOME chant to a legitimately cool moment and the fight is on. Charlotte cleans house until Naomi dropkicks her down, only to have Paige and Sasha get into it. Tamina breaks up the PTO on Naomi but Brie Bella interrupts as the announcers line up to kiss Stephanie’s feet for these new arrivals. Alicia gets caught in the Figure Eight, Becky puts Brie in the armbar and Nikki gets the Bank Statement as a big NXT chant breaks out. The Bellas and Fox are cleared out and the other six yell at each other as the freaking Total Divas theme plays this out.
I’m not going to bother ranting about how Stephanie made this all about her. It’s Stephanie McMahon, she’s the biggest hound for a spotlight that has ever lived in WWE and you know that if there’s a big moment there that people are going to erupt over, she’s going to shoehorn her way in despite the fact that there is absolutely no logical reason for her to be involved.
This story has been about Paige finding help but that’s thrown out the window because Stephanie has basically just decided to turn this story into a chess game for her own amusement. The big sign here: none of them got to talk and then Stephanie just left after she was the only voice you heard for the big moment. The main part here was all about Stephanie look cool and how thankful we should be for her big gift to us and that’s all there is to it.
Aside from all that, this is EXACTLY what the Divas have been needing for so long. All of a sudden, there is some brand new blood in the Divas’ division and the fans buy into it. They know these three are amazingly talented and can tear the house down…..but the Bellas are still around. As long as they’re the focus of the division (and they will be as long as Total Divas is around), the newcomers are going to have to tone it WAY down so Nikki, Brie and Alicia can handle it and that takes away from the NXT crew’s magic. This is going to be interesting, but they could drag things way down for the sake of breaking AJ’s record.
Who knew what this would become:
The hometown boy Xavier Woods says this is the greatest town in the world because they stay positive. Even though they shut down the city due to an inch of snow last year and the Atlanta Hawks choked in the NBA Playoffs, they stayed positive. Kofi is 100% that they’re getting the titles back on Sunday because Prime Time is out of time at Battleground because NEW DAY ROCKS.
Titus shrugs off a Kofi kick to start so it’s off to Darren, who clotheslines E. out to the floor. The Players and Henry throw everyone out to the floor (JBL: “FLYING PH.D!”) as we take an early break. Back with Titus taking the rotating stomps in the corner as the announcers talk about how awesome the Divas were. For once, they’re actually right. E. gets two off a splash but Titus is quickly up and tagging in Henry to clean house. Everything breaks down and a World’s Strongest Slam ends Woods at 8:29.
Rating: D+. Good night do they really not know how to set up a tag match anymore? When is the last time New Day won a match? My guess is they get the belts back anyway because that’s how WWE works these days. The match was nothing interesting and Henry is just thrown out there but gets the pin over a #1 contender anyway. Well sure why not.
The winners dance.
Long recap of Lesnar b. Cadillac via TKO last week.
King Barrett vs. R-Truth
No King entrance for Truth and Cole tells us he rapped to the ring during the commercial. Truth gyrates a lot to start and gets kicked in his face. A backbreaker and middle rope elbow get two each on Truth and a boot knocks him onto the apron. Truth fights out of a chinlock as the announcers talk about Tough Enough to kill time. Barrett misses a charge and eats a Lie Detector for the pin at 3:12.
Rating: D-. Good grief it’s going to get a rubber match on Sunday isn’t it? This whole thing is such a waste of whatever they had with the King of the Ring because Barrett hasn’t been embarrassed enough over the years. Bad match, horrible feud, disgusting waste of someone like Barrett for a comedy act.
Truth puts on his king attire.
We recap Rusev destroying Ziggler last week, finally making Rusev feel like a monster (and a wrestler) again.
It’s Open Challenge time and Rusev is here to renew a rivalry that doesn’t need to be renewed. He blames Lana for losing the title in the first place and says he broke Ziggler because of the USA. Before the match though, here’s Kevin Owens with something to say. Rusev says no because he was here first and that Owens needs to pick a single first name. They argue a bit but here’s Cesaro to interrupt as well. Cena heads outside as the three brawl, setting up a triple threat match with the winner getting a title shot immediately after because WHO NEEDS PSYCHOLOGY???
Rusev vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens
Cena is on commentary as Cesaro gets beaten down in the corner. Rusev gets beaten down and Cannonballed, only to have Cesaro hit the running uppercut to Owens’ jaw. Swiss Death gets two on Rusev as Cena puts over the Divas’ segment. Owens has to escape two pinfall attempts, followed by Cesaro doing the same off a Saito Suplex from Rusev. Cena continues to be as good of a commentator as you’ll see in this company, only to have to stop for Cesaro turning Owens’ superplex into a Tower of Doom for two each.
The Russian takes over again as these guys are just hammering each other. Owens blocks Rusev’s German suplex attempt so Cesaro Germans both of them AT ONCE. I know I say this every week but DANG that guy is strong. Since that’s not enough, Cesaro busts out a corkscrew dive over the top to take out both guys. Back in and Cesaro gets two off a high cross body on Rusev but Owens breaks up the Swing with a superkick.
Kevin drops both guys but stops to shout at Cena, allowing Rusev’s Alabama Slam to set up the Accolade. Cesaro saves this time and delays a vertical suplex on the Russian. Well ex-Russian but whatever. Cena keeps making some rather heelish yet totally fair comments about how he’s the lucky one here as these guys are all brawling but he gets to come in fresh. Rusev sends Kevin outside and Owens bails, saying he’ll see Cena Sunday.
Back from a break with Rusev chinlocking Cesaro, only to have the bald one pop up and hit a springboard spinning uppercut to drop Rusev. The apron superplex is countered with Rusev suplexing Cesaro onto the apron to put both guys down onto the floor. Back in again and Cesaro dropkicks Rusev on the top, only to have his superplex countered. The Russian’s top rope splash misses and Cesaro crossfaces Rusev, only to have Rusev power up into something like a spinning Rock Bottom for two more.
Back up again and Cesaro can’t get a Sharpshooter, allowing Rusev to hit a spinwheel kick for two. The Accolade is countered into the Swing which sets up the Sharpshooter, drawing a lout TAP chant. Rusev makes the rope but since this is still officially a triple threat, he has to crawl outside to break the hold. Nice touch of continuity there. Cesaro hasn’t done something cool in all of 14 seconds now so he comes back with a suicide dive. Back in and Cesaro gets tripped off the top, setting up a superkick from Rusev for the pin at 24:02.
Rating: B+. Why not make Cesaro the Intercontinental Champion? Like, just let him go out there and have awesome matches with anyone because Cesaro is pure gold at this point. It’s the simple concept of “hey, this guy is awesome right now so LET’S PUSH HIM!” Unfortunately he’ll probably be forgotten again in three weeks while someone like Barrett or Truth get pushed because they’re funny or something. Like, is Cesaro even going to be on the pay per view?
US Title: Rusev vs. John Cena
The psychology is all over the place here as Cena, the face champion, comes in with a huge advantage since Rusev is spent. Cena starts fast and hits a release fisherman’s suplex followed by a headlock. Rusev bails to the ropes but Cena nails the shoulders. In a nice touch, Rusev can’t get up due to the exhaustion, making the finishing sequence look really awkward. The AA is countered into the Accolade out of nowhere and Cena hangs on for about 45 seconds (fair since Rusev is weakened) until Owens comes back in for the DQ at 4:57.
Rating: D. This was more awkward and weird than bad as Cena was basically wrestling a squash match against a big name until the end where he got caught in a big move. Like I said, this was just strange and would have been FAR better served as a single, four way elimination with Cena involved. It was different, but the execution of the second match didn’t work for me.
Owens gives Rusev a Pop-Up Powerbomb and tells Cena that he’s taking the title on Sunday.
Rollins tells Kane that it’s on him if tonight goes bad.
The Tough Enough cast is on stage when Lita (a coach on the show) comes out with something to say. She officially introduces us to the cast and this is a big waste of time because Tough Enough just isn’t all that interesting this season. It was so uninteresting that I haven’t watched it yet and don’t plan to.
We recap Reigns and Wyatt from earlier.
Stardust (hey he’s back) talks about how the world needs heroes because the world is made up of heroes and villains. “From where I stand, the view never changes.” Neville has been claiming that the forces of evil have forsaken him, but those forces will bring him down. Embrace the strange. Or embrace Cody Rhodes for a change.
Barrett vs. Truth for the crown on Sunday. If Rusev and/or Cesaro aren’t on that show, I lose so much of my faith in this company, meaning I fully expect it to happen.
Stardust vs. Neville
Neville is no longer the New Sensation, which is one of the best things that could happen to him. A loud CODY chant starts up but let’s just keep him as Stardust because it’s done wonders for his career. Stardust isn’t interested in a handshake and kicks Neville down, only to have to get up before the Red Arrow can launch. There’s a cartwheel from Star and we hit the chinlock.
As has been the trend tonight, this match is bizarre as the fans are cheering Stardust instead of the guy they’re pushing as an actual superhero. It’s funny how such shortsightedness works. Neville fights back to silence (I’m stunned too) but Stardust rolls him up and grabs the trunks for the pin at 4:09. JBL: “Go to the pay window young man!”
Rating: D. So let’s see. They’ve (so far) wasted any potential for Cody coming off his father’s passing, Neville looks lame because no one wants to boo the son of a legend whose father recently passed away, and then Stardust cheats instead of getting to make this an important and cool moment. Oh and the match wasn’t any good either. What a mess as psychology means nothing around here.
It’s time for the contract signing to close things up this week. Rollins and Kane are out first and the champ talks about watching the footage of the car being destroyed again. After this Sunday, Suplex City will be a memory and he’ll still be champion, but here’s a Beast to disagree. Well, likely to stand there while Heyman disagrees. Paul says Rollins wants to burn Suplex City down, but the fans want to see him get taken apart for his breaking of the eleventh commandment.
People want to see Rollins get beaten up and that’s what they’re going to see this Sunday when he gets kicked, slapped, punched, suplexed, F5’d and dethroned. Rollins signs anyway, as does Brock, and there goes the table. Kane comes at Brock but Lesnar pulls out an ax handle and actually flips the table back up. The fight is on again and Rollins goes flying. Kane breaks up an F5 on the floor and Rollins hits him with the ax handle.
Some steps to the head have Brock in more trouble but Beast Mode prevails with Kane taking an F5 on the floor. There goes Rollins into the crowd, leaving Brock to crush Kane’s ankle on the steps, likely making this Sunday one on one. Brock poses with the title but we’re not done yet as Rollins comes back to ringside and yells about being the man to slay the Beast on Sunday. Medics tend to Kane so Rollins yells at him too, calling Kane’s career one big disappointment. This is on Kane and Rollins kicks him in the ankle to end the show.
You can always count on some things:
Ryback/Randy Orton b. Sheamus/Big Show – Top rope splash to Sheamus
Mark Henry/Prime Time Players b. New Day – World’s Strongest Slam to Woods
R-Truth b. King Barrett – Lie Detector
Rusev b. Kevin Owens and Cesaro – Superkick to Cesaro
Rusev b. John Cena via DQ when Kevin Owens interfered
Stardust b. Neville – Rollup with a handful of trunks
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the History Of In Your House.
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