Nation, I write this today with the heaviest of hearts. Moments before I attempted to write this weekly recap, I was informed of the tragic news of the untimely passing of comedic legend Robin Williams. As someone who grew up on many of his films, this couldn’t have been a bigger shock. Whether he was portraying a quick-witted genie, a cross-dressing nanny or a swashbuckling boy who vowed never to grow up, you best believe he kept me captivated in my seat. To speculate about the nature of his death or to provide a social commentary on the pressures of being a public figure would seem a bit petty and premature so you won’t get that from me tonight. That’s not my place and it sickens me to think about what we may read about this moving forward. While it might be hard, this space is dedicated to Raw. Hopefully this can provide even the slightest distraction during this incredibly sad time. So sit back, raise a glass to of white to Armand Goldman (The Birdcage) and let’s head down to ringside. RIP
Monday Night Raw
August 11, 2014
Your announcers tonight are Michael Cole, JBL and Jerry Lawler.
The stage is decorated with presents donning the red and yellow so that can only mean that tonight we celebrate the birth of the Immortal Hulk Hogan. Such a shame that I didn’t get the Hulkster anything but based on the Raw set, I think he will be well covered in the gift department. Such an exciting night is in store as we are now less than a week from SummerSlam. Oh and if you are playing the WWE Network $9.99 drinking game, I sincerely hope you are taking Tuesday off work!
Oh geez. Enormous boos now rain over the arena as out comes Brock Lesnar. He is wearing a modified shirt which now reads, “Eat, Sleep, Conquer John Cena!” Contrary to what Scott Criscuolo tells you, this main event is going to be sensational on Sunday. It truly has a big fight feel to it. Who else should go in that spot against Cena honestly? My heart is already pounding just thinking about it. Their bloody car crash of a brawl in 2012 was an instant classic. This will be even bigger! At least WWE hopes so anyway. I truly believe, given Bryan’s injury and Punk’s departure, this was the only way to go if you still think SummerSlam is their second biggest show of the year after Mania.
Okay, off the soap box. Heyman says that in six days, he will be the advocate for the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar. More of the same from Paul as he proclaims that bad things happen to good people when they step into the ring with the beast. We get some still shots of Brock beating Taker at WM XXX and says that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. He brings up how Brock got his hands on The Rock as a rookie and put him out of action for six to eight months. Then he addresses the birthday boy, Hulk Hogan, and how the chipped toothed monster dispatched of my childhood hero and if Hogan ever tried to exact revenge on Lesnar, there would be no birthday celebration tonight. Damn Heyman is on fire! His message to the Cenation is simple. Go watch SummerSlam because after Sunday, you won’t be seeing much of John Cena anymore!
Now we see stills from Extreme Rules 2012 (Available now on the WWE Network, $9.99 hint, hint!). Heyman calls Cena’s win tainted because Lesnar was only fighting at 50%. Now he is 100% and the beating he will give Cena will be something out of a Greek tragedy. Then he does his own thuganomics impersonation that you must hear to believe! Truly amazing stuff from one of the very best in the business. We are in Brock’s house now! Heyman is going to take him to dinner but promises that the Beast will come back home! Chills! Still think they shouldn’t have picked this part-timer for the SummerSlam main event?
Some well wishes for the Hulkster from Flo Rida and Weird Al Yankovic. I hope they play mine later! I spent a ton on red and yellow paint if you catch my drift.
ROMAN REIGNS VS. RYBAXEL
Corporate Kane returns in his suit and has retained his position as Director of Operations. He announces that Reigns will fight two men to prepare for his fight with Randy Orton Sunday. So naturally, they turn to the always goofy Rybaxel who certainly deserve better but what can you do? A Ryback/Reigns one-on-one might be a cool main event title match someday but nothing to write home about in August 2014. Rybaxel continues to beat on Reigns on the outside until the referee calls for the bell. The duo attempt to knock our hero out of SummerSlam but Double-R rebounds, hits his usual high spots and basically sends Rybaxel out to pasture. WINNER: ROMAN REIGNS BY DQ
Post-match, Renee Young interviews our victor who says he’s ready for Orton in L.A. He declares that he has never stolen from Randy but this Sunday he is taking everything. He tells a joke where the punchline is “a worthless little worm.” Feel free to make your own Cialis jokes here as I am moving on.
Backstage, Orton confronts Corporate Kane in the back and says he will end Roman Reigns in a way Demon Kane and Rybaxel couldn’t. He then tells Orton that he must face Sheamus tonight since it’s best for business. Yippee! Oh and Stephanie has a confession tonight! I hope it’s that she really is a man and that she’s quitting the business. One can only hope!
RVD VS. SETH ROLLINS
The match we thought we’d get last week, we now get tonight. In case you missed it, Dean Ambrose announced on SmackDown that his match with Rollins at SummerSlam will be a lumberjack match. Remember all on the fantastic, 5-star lumberjack matches in history? Me neither. The best one I can think of was the epic IC Championship battle between two hall-of-famers. Shawn Michaels vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan on Raw in 1993. They just don’t make them like that anymore. When is Titans of Wrestling going to take on that gem? Okay, I’m rambling. I have no problems with RVD. He hits his usual spots, pops the crowd, and then suffers a curb stomp to end this promptly. Pretty much what you’d expect from a guy on the back nine. WINNER: SETH ROLLINS
Rollins rolls on but his eye is caught by a rather large present at the top of the stage. He is acting all paranoid about another possible ambush by his SummerSlam opponent until he laughs it off. As he exits, Ambrose does in fact burst from the box and attacks his former partner. They battle back to the ring until Rollins takes a spill on the floor and runs for his life. Ambrose grabs the mic to a huge ovation and tells Seth to run while he still can. There will be no running in a lumberjack match on Sunday. He pokes fun at the $9.99 bit from last week and says in Los Angeles, he’ll get more than his money’s worth. I’m actually pretty stoked for this one despite my jabs from earlier. Hopefully they make the tease from Battleground all worth it.
Oh for the love of Pete, here comes Stephanie McMahon. I guess the only saving grace here is that at least she is closing out the show for the third straight week. Right? Right? She introduces Daniel Bryan’s physical therapist, who coincidentally is in the building tonight. Ms. Miller seems a bit skiddish about talking and beats around the bush about how much Bryan means to the WWE Universe. Megan then breaks down and confesses that her boyfriend has left her and she can’t be his physical therapist anymore because she is having an affair with DB. The women hug and out comes a rather pissed off Brie Bella. More sophomoric mocking by Steph and a slap to Megan’s kisser later and Brie snaps. She tackles McMahon and as Steph tries to squirm away, Brie locks her in the “Yes” Lock. The place is going bananas as the women get broken up. As Brie is being dragged off, Steph says they won’t wait til SummerSlam as they will square off TONIGHT! I’ve been pretty outspoken for my hatred of his angle, but you do have to respect those pops from the crowd.
Drew Brees, Aaron Rogers and A.J. Hawk all wish Hulk a happy birthday. Isn’t it great that football is almost here? And now, let me turn heel for a moment and say, “Go Pats!”
JACK SWAGGER (W/ZEB COLTER) VS. CESARO
This is getting pretty sad. Just a few months ago, Cesaro was the rising star with the face pops and the mega push on the horizon. Swagger was the dangerous jackass who injured people and hadn’t won, well jack, since 2010. Now Cesaro can’t even get a TV intro and Swagger could be in line for a victory over Rusev on Sunday. It’s just not right! These guys work well as Cesaro can pretty much sleepwalk and give you a good match. Swagger is sporting the tape around the ribs ala DDP in the late-90s and might as well wear a bulls eye on his midsection. Cesaro pulls out a nasty abdominal stretch and adds insult to injury but repeatedly punching his former tag partner in the side. Like a tool, Swagger scores with a Swagger Bomb only to hurt himself. These guys pound the hell out of each other and I wish this was the PPV match and send Rusev back to NXT, but that’s just me. Cesaro makes the mistake of going up top and winds up getting caught in the anklelock to suffer another senseless defeat. WINNER: JACK SWAGGER
Post-match, just before a “We The People” chant, an explosion followed by the Russian flag dropping from the ceiling spoils the party. Rusev and Lana stand on the stage as we see some serious dueling flag waving as we head to break.
Michael Cole sat down with both Bray Wyatt and Chris Jericho in an exclusive one-on-one interview. Wyatt promptly dismisses Cole as Bray starts asking questions to Y2J. Bray tells Jericho about himself including his frequent nightmares and hearing screams. He says he has no conscious and doesn’t believe in Heaven or Hell. How he hates everything ever created including himself. The world lacks fortitude and there is a pale horse on the horizon ready for Jericho. Bray’s face will be the last he will ever see. Y2J says he is no savior but a survivor. He tells Bray that he doesn’t know which Jericho he is going to see on Sunday. Y2J says he will leave Bray speechless and shut him up. Awesome work by Jericho to keep a straight face during the Bray parts and Wyatt was his usual creepy self. Another solidly built bout many are looking forward to this weekend.
DIVAS CHAMPION AJ LEE VS. EVA MARIE
I wouldn’t throw Eva Marie out of bed for eating crackers but I definitely could do without her wrestling on Monday nights thanks. Paige has the same idea as her music hits seconds after the bell rings. She skips around the ring and distracts AJ long enough so that Eva steals a W. What the hell? WINNER: EVA MARIE
Paige grabs the mic and recites a pseudo apology to the tune of a Dr. Seuse nursery rhyme. Well this doesn’t sit well with Mrs. Punk at all as she finds Eva on the outside and beats her to within an inch of her life! Sure, it wasn’t that dramatic by Eva did take a few harsh bumps as our champ skips away. I know I tend to trend towards the positive but I actually do enjoy Paige’s heel work. Too bad Steph/Brie is hogging the ladies’ spotlight.
Here he comes! And he is wearing his new red and yellow t-shirt (coincidence?) to boot! The champ is here! Somewhere on his little island, Steve Corino is happy. A mixed reaction greets Cena as he puts on his best Paul Heyman impersonation. He mocks that he will be conquered this Sunday against Brrrrrrock Lesssnar! Cena says he will not lay down for the Beast because in the champ’s mind, Lesnar does not deserve the titles. Clearly Cena doesn’t like the guy since he is a bully and selfish. Cena addresses the cheers and boos along with the “you can’t wrestle” chants. Just the usual pandering to get reactions from the crowd just to stretch out the segment no doubt. He even teases the heel turn by saying that on Sunday, he will become a John Cena that no one has ever seen before. If for nothing else, he will become an animal just to keep the gold off of Brock Lesnar. He closes by saying that this house belongs to the WWE Universe. Cena then challenges Brock to come back from dinner since he is a stranger in Brock’s house. He rips off the shirt, uses the term “punk bitchitis” and still no Brock. Crazy good stuff that even gets the fickle fans to start chanting Cena’s name. John says he will conquer the conqueror. He will be the one who beat the one!
BRIE BELLA VS. STEPHANIE MCMAHON
Is this really happening? They aren’t closing the show? You mean this isn’t in the same vein as Trish vs. Lita? In the name of Jordan Duncan… What is this horse hockey?!?! Well don’t get too excited folks. Steph is still in her street clothes and says we’ll have to wait until SummerSlam. They show a replay of Brie striking Megan Miller and much like a few weeks ago when Steph was arrested for assault, Brie suffers the same fate tonight. How did we not see this coming? What a disgrace! Forget what I said about that pop earlier. This insipid storyline can’t end fast enough!
DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. HEATH SLATER
Nice touch by Dolph as he is wearing one of Miz’s old t-shirts to the ring while Miz is standing on the announce table. Slater is coming off the biggest victory of his career when he pinned Mr. Money in the Bank last week. JBL also pulled out Miz’s headset cord momentarily muting the IC Champion. Slater actually gives him a good match until Miz gets involved. Dolph chases him around the ring and starts fighting him up the ramp. Ziggy lost track of the ref’s count and Slater (still using the 3MB theme) picks up his second straight improbably triumph. WINNER: HEATH SLATER
After the bell, Ziggler outsmarts Heath into throwing a kick that Dolph catches and delivers a Zig-Zag to regain the heat. Funny to think that the Ziggler/Miz IC bout is getting lost in the SummerSlam shuffle.
Roman Reigns will be on Miz TV this Friday. Get hyped and stay hyped for that one kids!
RANDY ORTON VS. US CHAMPION SHEAMUS
Is it me or has it been months since we’ve seen Sheamus? I know we at the Nation are contractually obligated to only listen to our network of podcasts but Jim Ross actually made a wonderful point on his last show. If Brock wins Sunday and holds the big belt for several months as a part-time guy, it makes sense that the secondary titles will be elevated since they will be featured on TV on a somewhat regular basis. You have to make those champs seem important because otherwise, they are just props that no one is shooting for. Shouldn’t they be legitimizing the mid-card by giving us weekly wars for the US and IC title each week? It’s kind of a no-brainer! I could keep going but Orton just dropped the Celtic Warrior in a nasty spot on the announce table using a belly-to-back suplex. Sheamus had his moments too including a sick high knee into the corner. I know this match is played out, but these guys really know how to beat the piss out of each other. Just for fun, Sheamus mocks Orton’s Viper dance and after a few false finishes, Orton crushes the US champ with an RKO to no one’s suprise. WINNER: RANDY ORTON
Kind of surprised that Reigns and Orton didn’t touch again this week. If they were allowed to get color, I’m sure their match would be a bloody war on Sunday. It’s a big spot for Roman who many feel is on his way to the top of the mountain.
Mean Gene and Jimmy Hart stand in the ring to emcee tonight’s birthday celebration for Hulk Hogan. The guest of honor comes out as the whole locker room joins him under the tron. You think TNA did this for the Hulkster last year at this time? Hardly. What a moment! In the words of Gorilla Monsoon, “this place is going crazy!” Gene directs our attention to the tron as we get a sweet package documenting Hogan’s career including past Wrestlemania’s, slamming Andre, joining WCW, starting the now, and finally returning to WWE. Powerful stuff that I’m sure shook up the big guy. The fans are eating this up as Hogan is obviously choked up by the reception. Hogan breaks into a Hulked up promo and continues to shill for the WWE Network and even gets a $9.99 chant started. Some jokers even made signs for the occasion. He thanks all the wrestlers and even Pat Patterson who was present on the stage. Holy smokes Hogan is 61 years old? That makes you all feel old doesn’t it?
Woooooooo! Ric Flair is here too! This ought to be good! Before he can speak, Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff, decked out in one of his robes mocks the Hulkster’s pose and kisses several divas. Just when this couldn’t get anymore awesome, Roddy Piper’s music erupts to a monstrous pop. I’m sweating just typing this and it has nothing to do with my lack of air conditioning. Just before I pass out from excitement, I get a 1997 flashback as the NWO theme hits the arena and out comes The Outsiders, Hall and Nash. Hall, making his first appearance since the Hall of Fame, gives us a “Hey yo” and conducts a little survey. He asks how many came to see Hulk Hogan in red and yellow and then asks how many came to see him rocking the black and white. It was at this moment that I marked out as Hogan ripped off his red t-shirt and he sported underneath the colors of the New World Order!
Nash starts singing Happy Birthday when all of a sudden, Brock Lesnar returns to his house. Lesnar stares down all the legends in the ring as JBL and Cole beg the old-timers to leave the ring. How sick would this fight have been 10 years ago? Lesnar sizes up the situation and gives a shoulder bump to Piper. Hogan won’t back down and Heyman asks the birthday boy what he’s going to do. Lesnar says that the party is over just before Cena hits the ring. Lesnar gives him a smirk and then exits the ring. Cena begs Brock to make a move since he is standing in his house, but Brock won’t go there as he shouts he’s a mercenary as we fade to black.
In an age of short attention spans and instant gratification, I’m rather surprised they didn’t have some sort of physical confrontation between Cena and Lesnar. Sure, they were off TV for much of the build, but they never took an opportunity for one to get a lead on the other. It’s a sharp contrast from their feud in 2012 when Cena seemed to be bloodied and battered every week. Mark my words, this will be another classic. Just the staredown after the bell rings is enough to give me goosebumps. Meanwhile, I loved the Hogan stuff but it did feel a bit rushed. Some of those guys should have got some mic time to maybe roast the guest of honor some, but at least Hall got a moment to shine. I could do without all the Brie/Steph garbage if it meant giving the legends more time.
All in all, not a bad show and for once, they didn’t go to the well with a melee to close a go home show. SummerSlam is looking awesome kids and if you aren’t going to order it, I sincerely doubt we can still be friends. What in the world are you waiting for?
After all, it’s just $9.99 per month!