McGinn’s Raw Recap – 8/25/14

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Former partners explode as Reigns battles The Authority on Raw (Courtesy WWE.com)

Monday Night Raw

August 25, 2014
Anaheim, CA

Your announcers tonight are Michael Cole, JBL and Jerry Lawler.

Already creeped out as we get started as Jerry Lawler is introducing us to this week’s Raw. I never thought I’d say this but please come back Michael Cole! I’m sorry about all those things I’ve said about you! I promise to defend you when that silly Kevin Kelly says he’s better than you! Oh okay, he’s just in the ring seemingly to moderate what he calls the first ever WWE Hall of Fame forum. This ought to be good!

First out from behind the curtain is Hulk Hogan, followed immediately by Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. HBK is returning to the site of his epic iron man match with Bret Hart from WrestleMania XII which still goes down as one of the few Mania’s I never pop in. He must also be smarting for missing the Hulkster’s birthday last week. The legendary trio are talking about, of all things, John Cena, who plans on taking another severe thrashing in four weeks when he battles Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions. Shawn throws the first jab by saying the match won’t happen to which Flair responds by stating the obvious that Cena got the hell beat out of him. Shawn alludes to the fact that Cena has reached a crossroads in his career and should consider hanging it up. Hulk defends his little buddy by saying that the kid can still go but Flair believes Johnny shouldn’t face Lesnar. Shawn says everyone likes John Cena (Really? Have you heard the chants lately?), but he doesn’t stand a chance. Hulk continues to be alone in his principles until out comes the man himself.

My hero looks like the kid who got a sweater for Christmas when everyone else got a Nintendo as he storms down the aisle. So much for the old theory that he was going to stay home for four weeks nursing his injuries and then come back more deadly than ever. Hogan gives him a thumbs up even though the rest of the audience is reminding him how much he impersonates a vacuum. Cena says despite getting dropped on his head near 20 times, he went to the back and told trainers that he wants to fight Lesnar again. He sees past all the doubts and is not only looking to beat Brock Lesnar, he is going to Night of Champions to beat Brock Lesnar’s ass!

Couple things. The Summerslam match reminded me of one of those big prize boxing matches where on paper the bout looked amazing but get between the ropes and one guy just wilts. I love Cena, but that was a slaughter. It might have been better to play up a lengthy injury angle and have him come back when Vince gets bored with the part-timer as his champion and he can conquer the Beast once and for all. People will be pissed, but at least he was off our screens for a little bit. Now he comes back only a week after his pummeling and if he wins in Nashville, it will be unbelievable in the negative sense and if he loses, he quite frankly looks like a tool. Kind of a no-win situation but hell, we gotta push those international subscriptions. Oh lord, I’m getting preachy and we still have two plus hours to go! Second thing, why did they waste an appearance by those three guys on this?

Oh hey, Cena vs. Wyatt tonight. Speaking of no-win situations!

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: The Best of Monday Nitro premieres on the Network next week! Patience is a virtue my friends. 100 plus hours suckas! You’ll get your precious programming, you just have to wait. P.S. Only $9.99 per month!

RUSEV VS. JACK SWAGGER

Still no Zeb for Swagger. I’d call this a rubber match though hasn’t Rusev won almost every match in this feud. Jack still sporting the padding for his ribs. Fans still supporting him with the “We the People” chants that never get old. I also still get a chuckle out of JBL who constantly piles on Jack for losing eight days ago. He puts him in the same light as Benedict Arnold. Amazing! Swagger locks in the Patriot Lock as the crowd goes bananas but everyone’s favorite Russian Bulgarian found ropes. He drives Swagger’s taped ribs into the apron to regain control. This match went much longer than expected with a few false finishes. Jack got some sympathy heat as “Boris” relentlessly peppered Swagger with kicks to the ribs. Ref calls for the bell, much to the dismay of Americans everywhere and this one is over. Boy they are playing up the “never give up” angle for Swagger. Lot of good that did John Cena, so let’s give it to our other American hero! Where have you gone Lex Luger? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you! WINNER: RUSEV

After the break, Swagger is getting checked by doctors as my mentor, Bo Dallas, tells him that he really let his country down again and that if he wants to succeed, all he has to do is Bo-Lieve! I love that guy! Suck it Criscuolo!

CESARO VS. RVD (WINNER TO BECOME #1 CONTENDER FOR US TITLE)

It’s a SummerSlam kickoff rematch! Get Psyched! Sheamus is at ringside to set the stage for a likely match at Night of Champions. Still puzzled by Cesaro getting the “currently in the ring” treatment though his theme song is hideous so this must be the lesser of all evils. As Tom Brady would say, “just win baby.” RVD gets the near-fall after a split-leg moonsault but tonight, we would not see a repeat of SummerSlam. The King of Swing scored with a neutralizer while mocking Sheamus with his own yell of  “fella,” and we got ourselves a new #1 contender. WINNER: CESARO

See that? I guess Cesaro isn’t dead in the water and on his way out as we were led to believe. Relax there fellas! Everything will be okay. After the match, The Swiss Superman yanked the US Title off the announce table and tossed it into the Celtic Warrior’s face. Already calling it; this fight will steal the show! Sorry Brock/Cena. We’re all playing for second place next month.

NATALYA VS. PAIGE (DIVAS CHAMPION)

Natty is in the short tights today. I got nothing else, just making an observation. It doesn’t stop her from getting bludgeoned by those nasty headbutts by our Divas champion. These two are working stiff tonight highlighted by a brutal German suplex by the Anvil’s daughter. They exchange a few submission moves before Paige finally connected with the Paige turner for the W. WINNER: PAIGE

To no one’s surprise, AJ comes out to distract our British bombshell who gets shellacked by a wicked clothesline by Natalya. AJ grabs the mic, says she’s sincere and gives Paige a hug? Paige looks about as comfortable as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Lee then goes to shake her cold, dead hand but calls an audible by kissing it instead. Finally, she skips around her frienemy to end the segment. Hot stuff there Mrs. Punk!

Next up, my bathroom break a.k.a an appearance by Corporate Kane. He is hear to eulogize the loss of Dean Ambrose, who took a cinder block to the face last week. Also joining in on the frivolity for the Authority is Mr. Money in the Bank, Seth Rollins. Pretty amusing set up as they have the wreath on either side of the podium and a framed less-than-flattering portrait of the Lunatic Fringe. Rollins calls his former partner courageous but proved last week that the Authority always wins. We get highlights and laughter because nothing says funny like a man getting his face smashed into fake concrete. He then puts his stamp on the proceedings by saying that Ambrose’s career can be summed up in two simple words: What If. He created the Shield and he has destroyed it.

Wait a minute!!! That’s Roman Reigns’ music! He was once in The Shield too! Remember that?! This is pretty cool since they teased this on SmackDown last week. I agree that Reigns constantly coming to the aid of Ambrose would make Dean look like a little brother who can’t fight his own battles. But isn’t Roman a week late? Shouldn’t he have at least tried to prevent the whole face meets cinder blocks episode? He easily vanquishes Kane and then goes to work on Rollins. He clubs him with the podium and tosses him like he were a life-sized wrestling buddy. The heels take flight and Roman stands tall. Love this new angle!

We head to the outer reaches of your mind to catch up with The Dust Brothers. Tonight they face the Usos for the tag titles. Huh? They won’t change the titles in an unadvertised, middle-of-the-road Raw will they? Add me to the list of those who adore the Rhodes boys. Is there any room left on the bandwagon? This is going to be a treat!

THE USOS (C) VS. GOLDUST & STARDUST (TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH)

Cole with a stat that I’m too lazy to research though I’m sure our loyalists will correct it if it turns out to be crap. The Usos have held the belts for 175 days, making it the 5th longest reign in WWE Tag Team Championship history. I thought they were special when they debuted, it took them forever to get rolling, but now that they are on top, I could easily see myself being happy if they stay champs for another 200 days. How about that for a kiss of death?

Amazingly, the Cosmic Bros. have the upper-hand early and kept up the momentum after the break. Quick side bar. I watched SuperBrawl III during my fantasy draft on Saturday and Dustin Rhodes was known as the Natural back in those days. I wonder if he thought back then that he would still be competing at the highest possible level of sports entertainment in the year 2014. I can only hope that I’m still writing thought provoking and uber-hilarious Raw recaps deep into my forties and fifties. That will be the dream at least! On the outside, Jey appears to have blown out his knee. He gets counted out, preserving the gold, but what does this all mean? WINNERS: GOLD & STARDUST (BY COUNTOUT)

Goldy says that the Usos got themselves counted out intentionally. Goldust demands a rematch that gets promptly declined and then the Rhodes give a Horsemen-esque beatdown of their former friends. They pummel Jimmy and dump him out of the ring and then work over Jey’s injured leg. Serious swerve and completely unexpected. Who knew they were building up a heel turn with the Cody gimmick change? Raise your hands. Liars!

In the back, Rollins tells Kane that something needs to be done about Roman Reigns. Kane, and his limited repertoire, concocts a plan to have Reigns battle both men in a handicap match tonight. The idea is that Reigns will suffer the same fate as Ambrose though unlike Dean, Roman doesn’t have a movie to make so put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Video package of comments made by Brock following his convincing victory over Cena eight days ago. He says it was the greatest thing he has ever accomplished. He says that his “Don’t give up” b.s. didn’t do him any favors at SummerSlam. Paul Heyman chimes in by saying that Lesnar took pity on Cena and mercifully ended the fight with an F-5. They call Cena invoking his rematch clause a mistake and Lesnar has some chilling words for the leader of Cenation. He says he won’t give Cena a chance to get up at Night of Champions. He says that on that night, it will be Cena’s last night in this universe and closes by smugly stating that it will almost bring a tear to his eye. How on earth are they going to follow this up? Times like these, I don’t want to be a writer for WWE creative because the margin for error with this story is insurmountable. Brock loses and he looks like a chump while the internet explodes from excessive hate. If Cena loses, is there really a realistic man on the roster who can slay the Beast? Not likely. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

IC CHAMP DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. THE MIZ

Miz is still in his civvies, looking like the millionaire from Gilligan’s Island. He says one of the perks of being a Hollywood celebrity is that he has his own stunt double. He introduces us to a man who is so dedicated to his craft with each and every character he plays. Miz’s music hits a second time and out comes – you guessed it – Damien Sandow!

IC CHAMP DOLPH ZIGGER VS. DAMIEN MIZ-OW

This could be my favorite parody since Paul Revere! He even has the creepy white robe and the indoor sunglasses. I am probably by myself chanting “This is awesome” on my couch. Miz says that he is waiting for when the lights are brightest. He won’t step into the ring again against Dolph until the belt is actually on the line. Brilliant mid-card booking for this character. I love it! Damien even applies the figure-four much like the Hollywood A-lister but he couldn’t avoid a flash Zig-Zag for a quick victory for the champ. WINNER: DOLPH ZIGGLER

I know I shouldn’t mark out for this, but that was…ahem…awesome! Of course, Miz can’t afford suffering damage to his money maker on free TV, so let some hump like Sandow take the beating. If you can’t see the sheer fun in this story, you must be a rotten person.

On the completely opposite end of the awesome spectrum, we get King talking about the breakup of the Bella Twins. I don’t usually pan segments before they start, but this is an obvious exception and my dog needs an evening walk so you all are on your own with this one! I’ll just say this, what a waste! Were any of us clamoring for a Brie/Nikki showdown? Didn’t think so! Never did anyone make it so far with so little talent, it’s disgusting! Okay, now I’m just being mean. But seriously, how come Brie can call the co-owner of the company a bitch one week but can’t even look at her sister without weeping like a baby the next? It’s pathetic! Stand up for yourself Brie! So Nikki attacked Brie, slaps King, pulls some hair and sets the business back at least 20 years. I hope you’re happy Big Boobed Bella!

ROMAN REIGNS VS. SETH ROLLINS & CORPORATE KANE (2-ON-1 HANDICAP MATCH)

Not going to lie, I kind of feel bad for King after that last segment as he retakes his spot in at the announce table. Reigns, meanwhile, does his best to neutralize one guy while trying to finish off the other. He connects with that apron kick in the corner on Kane and sets up for a Superman punch before nearly eating a choke slam. Reigns countered by scoring with a quick spear and nearly got the pin. Rollins then pasted his former business partner with the briefcase and the ref called for the bell. WINNER: ROMAN REIGNS (BY DQ)

It’s a 2-on-1 assault that spills over onto the floor. For reasons still unknown to me, a pile of cinder blocks is again at ringside. Are we to believe that’s the set up for all time keepers? “Hey boys, I have this idea. We’ll set up tables for our announce teams but the time keeper, he will get a pile of concrete blocks on the floor and we’ll cover it all up with a black table cloth! That way we can run an angle where a man can drive another man’s head into said pile of cinder blocks. What a maneuver!” I still want that job of being in charge of the cinder blocks at ringside.

Reigns avoids being squashed like a bug and takes out Rollins with a Superman punch while throwing Kane into the stands. He then attempted to throw the cinder block into Rollins’ stupid face but got nothing but steel post instead. (So we won’t allow blood, but throwing cement blocks at each other is cool?) The block exploded everywhere as Seth scampered away. Reigns then pounded Kane with a Superman punch as the crowd went ballistic. The match was too short but the aftermath more than made up for that!

Network talk bleeds into a Wyatt Family promo. Bray says Cena’s shell has cracked after his run-in with the Beast. He promises to be merciful and put the former champ down. It’s pretty cool that they can just pull Bray out from mothballs and stick him into a Raw main event.

LOS MATADORES VS. HEATH SLATER & TITUS O’NEIL

I do find SlaterGator funny in that awkward odd couple sort of way, but this match is quite simply a joke. I guess Mr. Belding is in the crowd thus proving that he does leave the Vintage Vault every once in a while. Matadors win as Slater is caught napping and that’s enough of that. WINNER: LOS MATADORES

BO DALLAS VS. KOFI KINGSTON

Um, is it awkward to ask whatever happened to Kofi turning heel and joining up with Xavier Woods and Big E in a new Nation of Domination? Were we supposed to forget that happened like when Vince’s limo exploded or the debut of Friar Ferguson? In other news, I still love Bo, but he butchered his finisher and should never beat Kofi in two minutes but at least he is proving the naysayers wrong by sticking on the main roster. He tells Kofi that he only let himself down today, but Jack Swagger let down his whole country. Out comes the Real American who powerslams Bo and even picked up some heel heat along the way. Get well soon Bo! I Bo-Lieve in you! WINNER: BO DALLAS

Next week: Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho featuring Randy Orton. Set your DVRs now!

JOHN CENA VS. BRAY WYATT

Two seconds into this match and I already knew that the haters were about to lose their minds. Cena became the beast and Bray, who slowly but surely is creeping into babyface territory is his sacrificial lamb. Cena was relentless and fired off several German suplexes in a row much like the onslaught he suffered at SummerSlam. Bray gets very little offense in and gets physically manhandled until Rowan and Harper break it up. Big Show and Mark Henry join the melee to save Cena from further damage but this match was a big turd in the punch bowl! If you wanted to just murder someone on the roster, use someone like Curtis Axel. Oh Bray, way to take one for the team. WINNER: JOHN CENA (BY DQ)

During the break, a new match was set up by The Authority so our main event now becomes a six-man tag.

JOHN CENA, BIG SHOW & MARK HENRY VS. THE WYATT FAMILY

It was announced earlier that the world’s largest tag team will take on Harper and Rowan on SmackDown, so this should all make sense. I thought it was weird that Henry wasn’t involved in any Rusev stuff tonight though maybe they want to keep the big guys together. I do like the idea of them putting over the family if that is in fact the direction they go. I’m still amazed at the sheer strength of Rowan as he picked up Henry like he was Sin Cara. The Wyatts get plenty of offense in this time around and that is slightly more encouraging at least. Show is selling well for the family as I pointed out last week. He does level Bray with a chokeslam before bringing in Cena with a hot tag. Johnny cleans house and quickly gets Harper in the STF. This prompts a fast tap out and Rowan suffers an AA for his troubles. The big guys corner Bray and toss him in to be slaughtered again by Cena. Not to be outdone – and with the encouragement of Big Show – Cena AA’s Harper to extinguish any heat the Wyatts might have mustered. Yikes, just yikes! WINNERS: JOHN CENA, BIG SHOW & MARK HENRY

Boy oh boy the Wyatts deserved better. You could have easily got that same point across by using Rybaxel and let’s say The Miz but instead, they decide to neuter the Wyatts. I guess I should heed my own advice and show some patience while not jumping to so many conclusions. At least Cena’s attitude change makes sense and I can just hear that rapid typing of people speculating a heel turn as I scribe this. In any event, an above average show featuring new storylines, a stunning heel turn and some terrific character development. It’s dragged down by that hideous Bella segment and they completely wasted HBK, Hogan and Flair but after all, you can’t win them all. It’s pro wrestling and at the end of the day, it is not worth kicking your dog over.

And anyone who says otherwise, I got a pile of cinder blocks in my living room that is just waiting for your face!

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Author: Dan McGinn

Dan McGinn is a former Minor League Baseball announcer, a five-star General in the #sweatervestarmy and an all around babyface who you should be happy to take home to dinner. He also happens to write about wrestling.