Tremendous Tirades 02.17.14: Monday Night Raw
Posted by Steve Cook on 02.17.2014
A go-home show actually builds up a PPV. This is notable.
Hi kids, it's your favorite second-string probably first-string Tirader for a bit Steve Cook! Y'all know the drill, the Tirade is not a traditional recap, but more of a free-flowing analysis of the show. Kind of like the Raw Thoughts I used to do in News From Cook's Corner back in the day or the kind of stuff I'd post on Twitter nowadays, but with ratings & whatnot because that's what the people want & need. This is a review, and Larry has entrusted me with reviewing the show all fair & balanced-like. Obviously I'm a fan or why in the blue hell would I have wasted the last decade of my life writing about pro wrestling? I love it like a fat kid loves cake, but when stuff ain't right I'm gonna complain about it. It is what it is. I encourage discussion & even disagreement, in fact the more I get of each the more likely it is that Larry will continue posting my columns & podcasts.
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW MAKES US WANT TO SHOUT
I've been watching a ton of women's curling the last week or so. My obsession with the lovely Anna Sloan (pictured above) from Great Britain has me watching the BBC coverage via completely legal means. Trent the Penguin explained the sport to me on last week's Ocho podcast, and if you're not entirely sure what's going on I highly recommend you listen.
Raw is in Denver this week, so I expect the roster to be in an oddly mellow kind of mood.
I‘m Gonna Win! No, I‘m Gonna Win! No, I‘m Gonna Win!: It's been awhile since we've had John Cena open the show by acknowledging the mixed reaction & explain everything currently going on. It's actually a nice change of pace from the HHH/Steph/Orton opening dialogue we've been subjected to lately. Also a nice change of pace? Cesaro, fresh off of beating Randy Orton on SmackDown & losing his first name. He may end up being the Face of America! Sheamus comes out & promises to kick people's teeth in. Christian is mad about Sheamus accidentally Brogue kicking him on Friday & claims what he'll do at Elimination Chamber won't be an accident. Randy Orton says he won't underestimate Cesaro again, John Cena can't beat him when it counts, Christian has incredible matches with him but he always wins, & tonight Sheamus won't Brogue kick him. Daniel Bryan has a new t-shirt & the people are talking for him. Bryan points at the sign & leads a Yes chant. Kane is in charge tonight & he books John Cena vs. Cesaro & Christian vs. Bryan. I gotta say I like Kane's style.
Simple booking here. Having each of the Elimination Chamber participants come out and talk to each other while mentioning they're going to win on Sunday builds the match up & hopefully gets people excited to spend some money. Not exactly re-inventing the wheel here, but sometimes you don't need to do that.
Rating (1-10): 7.0
Christian vs. Daniel Bryan : Christian attacks Bryan from behind before the bell rings & beats him up on the outside until a commercial break interrupts him. Bryan soldiers on like any good babyface would. Christian's showing frustration and appears to be reverting to his old evil ways. He mocks Bryan's Yes chant & seems generally annoyed by life while working over Bryan's left arm injured in the pre-match attack. Bryan briefly comes back but his over exuberance leads to him hitting his shoulder on the barricade on a dive & going back on the defensive. When Bryan finally does go on offense the fans are more than ready for it. Christian does well at cutting off some of Bryan's signature spots. He blocks the Yes Lock due to Bryan's injured shoulder, but Bryan finds his way to victory through the O'Connor Roll.
Pretty good way to open Raw. Smartly worked match…Christian had a nice array of offense working Bryan's shoulder over, & Bryan put it over effectively. As for Christian turning, it feels like he's run out of stuff to do as a face & his personality has always lent itself better to the wrong side of the tracks. He can lead some young guns through matches & teach them the ways of the WWE squared circle. It's a good idea.
Rating (1-10): 8.0
Kane informs Bryan that he has one more match tonight…against him! And apparently it's going to be right now since Kane's removing his tie!
Kane vs. Daniel Bryan: Kane wrestling in slacks & a wife beater is so…indy. I'm a little surprised they didn't save Kane's big in-ring return for a PPV, but maybe they didn't have high hopes that it'd draw. Kane, as usual, is not so much about winning a wrestling match as he is about creating pain & displeasure for his opponent. He gets disqualified after wrapping Bryan's arm around the ring post & refusing to break the hold. Kane could probably overturn it if he wanted to, but he's more concerned with injuring Bryan. In fact, he's quite all right with being disqualified. Not much of a match here, but it's a good way to stack the odds against D-Bry for the Elimination Chamber. If we've learned anything from the John Cena Era, it's that top faces have to overcome the odds at any given opportunity. Will Bryan? Guess you gotta tune in Sunday to find out.
Rating (1-10): 7.0
Reigns & Ambrose don't seem to be on the same page during a backstage interview conducted by Renee Young. Rollins insists they are. Hey, who am I to question the Architect of the Shield?
Fandango (w/Summer Rae) vs. Santino Marella (w/Emma) : We see some clips from NXT as Michael Cole explains more about who Emma is. They probably should have done this a few weeks back while she was in the crowd holding up #Emmataining signs instead of having NXT General Manager JBL ask who she was. Fandango & Santino do stuff until Santino puts on the cobra puppet, Summer Rae gets up on the apron & Emma decides to airplane spin Summer Rae. Santino is impressed, goes outside the ring and makes a kissy face, which Fandango takes advantage of & wins the match with a Falcon Arrow. That's what happens when you think with your other head, Santino. This was a match & it was there.
Rating (1-10): 5.0
Mark Henry says it's time for air bills to be paid. He didn't actually say that, but I wish he did.
Roman Reigns (w/Rollins & Ambrose) vs. Mark Henry…followed by some Awesome Sauce : I'm not sure why Mark Henry continues to wrestle matches when he's got more tape around his elbow than most people keep in their home. Reigns Samoan drops Henry & continues to have a better Superman punch than Michael Tarver. Spear ends it. I haven't seen Henry squashed like this since the Sexual Chocolate days. Dean Ambrose continues the assault because…well, why not?
That's interrupted by Bray Wyatt singing a song I remember from Vacation Bible School. Awesome. After some general creepiness Reigns asks the Wyatts to bring it down to the ring, so they do. The Wyatts come on down, they do the staredown bit, and then the Wyatts leave. Wyatts are smarter than they look…they'll fight the Shield when the time is right.
The Shield vs. Wyatts stuff continues to be awesome, and I continue to feel bad for Mark Henry.
Rating (1-10): 7.5
Goldust & Cody Rhodes play with a WWE Stack Down playset until Bad News Barrett comes in with some Bad News. He knocks over the playset! I would feel sad for the Rhodes boys having nothing better to do now, but those StackDown playsets look like fun.
Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter): Jack Swagger is challenging for the Intercontinental Title on Sunday, but it's Kofi that at least gets to have his music played. How bizarre. The crowd can't even be bothered to chant for JBL or CM Punk much longer than 10 seconds. Kofi starts trying to do things, but there's the problem of the fact that he hasn't been relevant in years. He can't even finish Swagger with the SOS, which is kind of good because I thought for sure Swagger would eat the pin there. Swagger actually does get the win with the Patriot Lock, then Big E Langston comes down for his match. They're wrestling on Sunday, you know.
Not a bad match, but pretty dull. I gotta give Ryan Byers credit, he correctly pointed out on Twitter that they missed an opportunity by not having Zeb cut a promo about how Kofi snuck across the border from Ghana under the false pretense that he was from Jamaica.
Rating (1-10): 5.0
Big E vs. Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal : Zeb gets the microphone now and does some commentary. This gets more heat than anything these guys could do, especially when Zeb goes for the cheap Super Bowl heat. The 3MB members get some offense. I'm not sure if Heath Slater's here or not, so maybe he actually is going to do the Big Clem Layfield character on television. I like Zeb asking the crowd if they think Big E can do various moves to Jack Swagger, it's a good way to keep the fans involved. Apparently there was some talk about how Swagger will own Big E on Sunday…I didn't notice it myself but I look forward to Raw reviewers on other sites having a hissy fit over it. 3MB guys taking some crazy bumps, and eventually they lose as you'd expect. They tried.
Big E hopes that they make diapers Zeb's size, because after Sunday his mouth won't be the only thing full of crap. THAT'S NOT…well, I guess it is PG.
Rating (1-10): 5.5 (Zeb's commentary knocks it a half point higher than the previous match)
Lana talks about Aleksander Rusev making history. Bryan Alverez made a good point on his podcast the other day about how Rusev's carefully groomed facial hair really takes away from his character. Rick Pitino has crazier facial hair than the big scary Bulgarian does.
These new USA shows…all I'm saying is they better keep Raw on this channel.
Ron Simmons is our Black History Month honoree this week. I'm really not sure what's up with the YouTube videos they have celebrating guys like Elijah Burke & Zeke Jackson as Black History Month honorees.
Elimination Chamber video.
Renee Young interviews John Cena. We will see what Cesaro is made of!
We see clips of Cesaro beating Randy Orton on SmackDown. Cole & JBL are much better announcers when they get to do things in the studio after the show happens.
John Cena vs. Cesaro (w/Zeb Colter) : Zeb is becoming very successful by historical manager standards. Apparently Sunday will be the first time that a WWE manager will have clients challenging for the WWE & Intercontinental championships. Good times. Cesaro's having tons of good times here, as he's got the old rocket strapped onto him right now. If anybody deserves it, it's Cesaro, so I'm cool with it. He was a dark horse heading into the Chamber, and sometime during this match he became a work horse. Lots of horse talk when it comes to Cesaro…there would be a Lilian Garcia joke here somewhere if I was on WWE's payroll. Cena doing a hurricanrana seems less likely than Goldust doing one, but they both like it these days. Cena sure brought his working sneakers tonight, he must be motivated with this new dance partner of his. Cesaro will see Cena's crazy feats of strength and raise him some more. CESARO SWING! A match like this should help WWE get that TV rights fee increase they're looking for. LARIATO by Cena! The AA finishes things. Zeb is not pleased.
Cesaro's match with Orton on last week's SmackDown was a fine moment, but this felt more like a breakthrough match. Sure, closely losing to Cena was not the thing that put Damien Sandow on the right path like many people told me it would…but Cesaro was ten times better in this match than Sandow was in his. Kind of silly to have the "best TV match of the year" discussion in February cause we‘re a month & a half in, but hopefully we'll remember this one when it's time to have that talk.
Rating (1-10): 9.5
Triple H actually is here, and he talks to Randy Orton about stuff backstage. Well, if you need something to cool the crowd down here it is. Batista shows up, then Alberto Del Rio shows up in a neck brace. It's like they took all the people I don't care about and they insist on pushing & put them in one backstage segment.
Renee Young introduces us to the Darren Young/Titus O'Neil feud, which was an SD-exclusive thing until now. Damn. Titus O'Neil is here and tells us you spell "champion" T-I-T-U-S. These guys will have a match and it will be on a PPV. I can hardly contain my excitement. JBL hypes up Titus as a future world champion occasionally, and I've seen others echo this sentiment…I might agree if there were still two world titles. Since there's only one now, I have to figure you gotta get way down the line of potential champions before meeting Titus O'Neil. Nothing against Titus, I just don't see how he rates above everybody ahead of him right now.
Sin Cara & Los Matadores (w/El Torito) vs. The Wyatt Family : I just hope Bray doesn't eat El Torito. That wouldn't be good for anybody. The Wyatts take turns beating up Diego or Fernando. The little bull gets involved for a minute, some cool dives happen, & Sin Cara does a flippy doo. Cara takes a nice bump off the Sister Abigail & it's over. I'm not sure what happened to Los Matadores after they hit their dive on Rowan. I think Larry Csonka's explanation that Rowan ate them is probably the answer. Simple match to give the Wyatts some steam, not much to see here.
Rating (1-10): 6.0
Bad Ass Billy Gunn (w/Road Dogg) vs. Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso) : Road Dogg & Jimmy are on commentary because three announcers saying nothing of value just aren‘t enough. Road Dogg & Jimmy sounds like an overnight trucker radio show. Apparently Billy didn't hear the bell ring, which I assume is a joke about him needing a hearing aid. Who the hell's Brian? Jey gets the win after a rollup, then Road Dogg gets kicked by Jimmy. An Uso dives on both of them! The Usos are looking strong, so we'll get another month of this feud after the Outlaws win at the Chamber. Yay?
Rating (1-10): 4.0
Byron Saxton talks to Sheamus.
This Raw reminds me of when I used to watch Saturday Night Live & they'd put all the good sketches on early & do the B-material after Weekend Update. I assume they still do that.
Randy Orton vs. Sheamus : Cole emphasizing Orton's poor Chamber record is bad news for people that want Orton away from the belts. These guys have faced off more times than the Hatfields & McCoys, but it's been a few months so I'm not quite as annoyed by it as I would usually be. It's tough sledding for awhile, but Orton wakes up the crowd by putting Sheamus through the announce table. Maybe they should bring back the Spanish announce table so Orton can break two tables to get people interested in his matches. Orton's RKO attempt is foiled, Sheamus sets up for the Brogue kick and the Shield run in for the DQ. The rest of the Elimination Chamber participants run down, and then the Wyatt Family decides they'll fight the Shield after all. IT'S CHAOS! WE'RE OUT OF TIME!
The classic show-ending brawl is always a good time…but the match leading up to it was pretty much what you'd expect with the participants involved. Sheamus had been impressive of late, but this match didn't allow him to do what he does best: beat the piss out of people.
Rating (1-10): 6.5
Thanks for reading.
Overall, this was a pretty solid show. We can often complain about WWE not doing much to build their PPVs on the go-home shows, and they often don't, but the Chamber match & Shield vs. Wyatts got plenty of attention. They even had Titus O'Neil do an interview & the Outlaws & Usos had a singles match to continue their issue. Batista & Del Rio got a minute to do their bit, which is about as much as people can handle of them at this point. Cena vs. Cesaro was great, Bryan vs. Christian was really solid and Bryan has an interesting story heading into the Chamber. There was definitely a dropoff in the last hour & that has to be reflected in the overall score, but I'd still say Raw had a good week. I give all credit to Anna Sloan.
Show Rating: 8.0
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 final rating is not simply an average of the rated segments above. The rating takes them into account as well as the segments that are small but not scored, the flow of the show, the overall booking, build to PPV, crowd reactions, and so on and so forth.
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Steve Cook is a Gemini and enjoys drinking the occasional alcoholic beverage or nine, long walks on the beach, objectifying women and winning fantasy football championships. He graduated from the University of Louisville in 2006 & has a B.S. in Political Science with a concentration in Law & Public Policy. He has been a wrestling fan since 1990 and has been writing for 411 since August 14th, 2004; contributing nothing but headaches & utter frickin‘ chaos to the site. He is a living legend & the last of a dying breed.