Wrestling’s 4Rs 5.02.14: WWE Monday Night Raw Reviewed
Posted by Jack Stevenson on 05.02.2014
Ric Flair made his return to Raw, Kane attacked Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella, The Usos defended the tag titles against Ryback and Curtis Axel and more! Wrestling's 4Rs breaks down the Right, the wRong and the Ridiculous of WWE Raw!
How the 4Rs of wRestling Work! Here is a quick explanation of the 4R's. The column will run TWO times a week. We will group our feelings on the shows in various categories: The Right, the wRong and the Ridiculous. The Right is stuff that worked very well: a great promo, a great match and so on. PuRgatoRy is a section between the right and wrong. It shows equal traits from both sides that cannot be ignored and need discussed. It is not a bad place per say, as things can get remedied or go the wrong way the very next week. The wRong is what it sounds like: bad matches, bad or boring promos and so on. The Ridiculous is stuff that had no right on TV: Stupid angles and so on. And there is always a possibility of a 5th R, which is as bad as they come. This column is supposed to be analytical, and at the right time very critical of the shows, it was the whole reason it was created. This is not a "mark" column, nor a "smark" column, our goal is to analyze the show from many different fronts, reward the good and call out the bad. We will not apologize for our opinions, they are as they are, whether positive or negative.
By: Jack Stevenson
Raw 4.28.14: QUICK MATCH RESULTS:
The Usos d. Rybaxel to retain the WWE Tag Team Championships
Sheamus d. Titus O'Neill
Cesaro d. Jack Swagger
Alberto Del Rio d. Cody Rhodes
Alexander Rusev d. Xavier Woods via DQ
Heath Slater & Drew McIntyre d. Los Matadores
Brie Bella presumably d. Paige via DQ
Bad News Barrett d. Rob Van Dam
Roman Reigns d. Randy Orton via DQ
THE RIGHT: Children cannot be trusted: Ohhhhhhhhhh this was cool. This was cool cool fucking cool. It would have been cool cool fucking cooler if there was any kind of consistency or logical progression to this Cena-Bray feud- Cena's flitted from "hahahaha, fuck you Wyatts, I feel very positive about life and I'm going to make jokes about how Bray is a closet womaniser" to "my entire life is ruined, nobody likes me, my parents don't understand me, My Chemical Romance are splitting up, and I'm fairly convinced that secret womaniser Bray is secretly womanising Nikki Bella" so many times I've lost count, and it's given the whole feud a jarring, staccato feel that makes it hard to invest in. For his part, Bray Wyatt's promos have been hit and hit and hit and hit, but they've all been hits in the exact same way, vague and cryptic, and they all kind of just roll into one. It's been a feud that's had many flashes of greatness, yet has still been ultimately disappointing. But tonight was a BRIGHT flash of greatness. It was so interesting and exciting to see Cena closer than he's been in a decade to actually turning on WWE fans as he tried to figure out why they'd mercilessly dumped him into a 3 on 1 handicap match the week prior, but Wyatt introducing the children's choir and then somehow turning them into fully fledged Wyatt sheep was more than just exciting, it was one of the most inventive and instantly iconic scenes in recent WWE history. So many great video packages are going to be based around that image of Cena, caged, head in his hands, surrounded by the last vestiges of his fanbase, now unanimous and unquestioning Wyatt faithful. If Bray beats Cena at Extreme Rules, we could have something really great on our hands. He probably won't, but nothing is certain any more.
Drag Brie To Hell: I liked this segment a lot more than other people seemed to. Maybe it's because some of my earliest memories of wrestling involve this terrifying newcomer called Kane laying waste to all my favorite guys while bathed in a hellish red light, and now in 2014 he's laying waste to my favorite guy while bathed in a hellish red light, and it's nice to be reminded sometimes that my childhood can't be that far away. There was an energy about this too that's lacking from a lot of segments; Brie Bella is not the best actor in the world but her stab at confusion and terror had enough believability about it, and Bryan eschewing his usual yessing, flying knees and rhythmic kicks in favor of raining down Ambrose-y punches and cracking Kane in between the eyes with a wrench helped underline that he was properly scared. I even liked the build-up segments with Kane's mask in the box, the lighting and silence made them feel different and as creepy as they could be considering what a goofy pro wrestling concept Kane's magical demon mask actually is. Brie Bella calling Stephanie McMahon a "bitch" was smart as well, though if she actually went for her physically she'd be the most over woman on the roster. Steph's promo was predictably excellent, she's so horribly insincere all the time and there is no one that cheers for her, I think she's been tremendous in her role for months now and doesn't get enough credit for it. So, yeah, I really liked this, and I think Bryan-Kane will be a terrific match and perhaps an appropriate final swansong-ish from Kane.
Bad News Barrett vs. Rob Van Dam: I am really into Bad News Barrett right now. I am really not into Rob Van Dam right now. Since he's come he's cut some REALLY horrible promos. I mean, Van Dam's never been Dusty Rhodes or anything, but his laid back charm ensured he never looked actively awkward. Now he just has these weird arguments with Heyman and Colter where he says things that make no sense and goes from phrase to phrase with no discernible transition, he's one step away from just drawling unconnected words at people, "RAIN COATHANGER EXPEDITION." Plus he had a decent match with Cesaro, which on the Cesaro scale is absolutely horrific. Happily, while his argument with Zeb Colter wasn't a significant improvement, the bout with Barrett was more on the right track- Barrett controlled the match, Van Dam got his spots in, and then Bad News won in relatively decisive fashion. I fear that's the best we'll get out of RVD this time around, but Barrett's going from strength to strength and dragged this into the right single handedly. He's cool, charismatic, his offense looks good, and he seems on track for the Intercontinental Championship. Maybe, finally and deservedly, he'll be less Bad News Bridesmaid than Bad News Bride.
A Flair for stirring things up between the Shield and Evolution: I'm disappointed that I'm the only human that seems to be going totally wild for all the Shield-Evolution stuff, all the rest of you seem to be watching with only mild interest. I think this is a great rivalry, it started off very organically and has progressed into a guarantee of a fun brawl each week and surely a great match at the PPV. Ric Flair didn't really add much here at all, once he'd finished his little jokes about St. Louis it turned into an strangely (or not, considering this is not the carefree styler and profiler that once existed) disjointed promo, and no-one seemed to care all that much about Flair endorsing the Shield, which I guess was meant to be a stunning surprise. Still, once he'd left and the Reigns-Orton match had de-generated things got really good again, with Evolution putting an emphatic beating on the Shield until our heroes rallied, spearheaded by a free-flying Seth Rollins and a crushing spear by Roman Reigns.
puRgatoRy: The Usos vs. Rybaxel: This was a fine tag match, but nothing all that memorable. The Usos are great in a high quality indy superkicky-suicide dive-y sort of way, and Rybaxel are solid as a rock, so they had a predictably entertaining match. It still left me feeling down though, because the Usos have no one left to feud with now unless the Shield or the Wyatts take a huuuuuge step down or some team get randomly thrown together. It feels like I say this every week, but the tag division is dead, and it had so much to live for. We hardly knew ye.
Sheamus vs. Titus O'Neill: While totally unsubstantial, this was at least a change of pace. Titus attacking Sheamus from behind and dominating him only to get caught with a Brogue Kick and lose off one flash move was a fairly realistic way of performing a slightly different match structure to the one we usually see, which in the midst of monotonous midcard matches is always appreciated. Sheamus' angry faced at the end could foreshadow a new, angrier him I guess, which would be nice? It's too forgettable to go in the right anyhow, but a cut above what it could have been.
Damian Sandow IS Magneto: As far as Raw's celebrity guest stars go, Hugh Jackman is comfortably among the best. He's likeable, enthusiastic and seems to have a better grasp on how to do promos than Dolph Ziggler does. How awful was Ziggler in this? How did someone as witty and intelligent as Amy Schumer tolerate his dumb, dull, smug sense of humor where the punch line is always "I'M SO GREAT AND ALSO I ENJOY PROMISCUOUS SEX AND HAVE A QUESTIONABLE ATTITUDE TOWARDS WOMEN, BRO BRO BRO BRO BRO BRO BRO BRO BRO BRO." Anything before bros. Brain tumors before bros. I didn't really get the Damian Sandow as Magneto thing because I don't know much about X-Men, but I feel I can say with confidence it wasn't crucial to the parody/homage to have it seem like someone had forgotten their lines throughout the whole segment. Still, I really do like Hugh Jackman, and the novelty of having someone just so wholly nice as him turn up on Raw and have some fun carries this into purgatory.
Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger: Obligatory Paul Heyman is fucking wonderful comment. The knock knock joke was hilarious. What's not hilarious, however, is what's happening to Cesaro's post Mania momentum (smooooooth transition there.) It's impossible to tell whether we should be cheering or booing for him, and putting him in a three way feud with a bafflingly respected veteran and a lame duck heel with a popular catchphrase isn't really helping with that. He's not had a barnstorming match in, ooh, two weeks now, which is an alarming dip in form for him. Once this feud is finished he needs to break clean away from Swagger and Colter, and forget about fighting Heyman's battles, he can keep him as manager but he needs to find his own identity.
Cody Rhodes vs. Alberto Del Rio: The Brotherhood's break-up continues in heart-breakingly boring fashion, but I still hold out hope that their natural talent will keep them relevant. Alberto Del Rio won! That's cool! Purgatory for this.
THE WRONG: Los Matadores vs. 3MB: So dazzled was I by El Torito's tremendous wrestling last week that I put this rivalry in the right. This is a rivalry based around the idea that little people are inherently amusing, which isn't a good basis for a rivalry in 2014. I was wrong, and this is wrong. El Torito's still very right, and it was nice to see Slater and McIntyre win for a change, but, yeah, WWE might not be the hugely unpleasant organization it was in like 2007 but it still needs to grow up a little bit more.
THE RIDICULOUS: NOTHING
THE RAW MATCH OF THE YEAR LIST: No change this week!
2.17.14- John Cena vs. Cesaro
3.03.14- The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family
2.03.14- Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
2.10.14- Sheamus & Christian vs. The Real Americans
1.27.14- John Cena, Sheamus & Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield
4.21.14- Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett
1.13.14- CM Punk & The New Age Outlaws vs. The Shield
4.7.14- John Cena, Sheamus & Big E. Langston vs. The Wyatt Family
3.24.14- The Shield vs. The Real Americans
1.20.14- Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio
A middling episode to conclude a middling few weeks of television. Extreme Rules could be a magnificent show if Cena-Wyatt, Bryan-Kane and Shield-Evolution all deliver, but Raw hasn't done as much as it could to help with that over the past few weeks. There was some cool stuff on this show. The Wyatt segment was superb, I liked the two main event brawls. The undercard is lifeless though. It's worth watching if you watch Raw ordinarily. but I don't think you should go out of your way for it.
Show Rating: 6.0
As a reminder, I will be going by the 411 scale…
0 - 0.9: Torture 1 - 1.9: Extremely Horrendous 2 - 2.9: Very Bad 3 - 3.9: Bad 4 - 4.9: Poor 5 - 5.9: Not So Good 6 - 6.9: Average 7 - 7.9: Good 8 - 8.9:Very Good 9 - 9.9: Amazing 10: Virtually Perfect
The 883rd edition is over…
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