The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 08/17/15

Live from Minneapolis, Minnesota this is the Raw Deal for episode #1160. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner above. Way to use those facial expressions, fellas.

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon came out for a promo. The announce team of Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show.

The promo from The Authority basically just went over the top matches at SummerSlam while plugging WWE Network and that it’s four hours long to make it the longest SummerSlam ever. It took about eight minutes to get through the matches. They also announced stuff for tonight that they will repeat again because they think the audience is stupid. What a waste of time. At one point Stephanie was talking about Lesnar/Undertaker while the Cena/Rollins graphic was on the screen. Blame the graphics nerd. Fire that person, Steph. That was about the only noteworthy thing from this ten minute waste of time.

Stephanie announced comedian Jon Stewart as the host of SummerSlam. That was announced earlier in the day.

Analysis: That was a very boring opening segment. Ten minutes of repeating stuff most of the audience already knows. I like Stewart because he’s a WWE fan that has a son that loves it too, so he’ll do a good job like he did the last time he was on Raw.

Randy Orton entered the arena because he’s in a tag team match and that’s after the break.

(Commercial)

Cesaro made his entrance. Cole noted that ESPN Sportscenter and Jonathon Coachman will be live at SummerSlam on Sunday morning and evening.

Cesaro & Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens & Sheamus

It’s the predictable tag match featuring SummerSlam opponents. I think I saw a “Fat Owens Fat” sign on camera at the start of this match. He has big bones, jerks! Sheamus started with Orton and Sheamus kept on leaving the ring to get away. Owens tagged in, Orton took him down with a clothesline and brought in Cesaro, who nailed Owens with a delayed suplex. There were “Cesaro Section” signs in the crowd again. Springboard uppercut by Cesaro on Owens led to Owens retreating to the floor for the vintage floor to commercial break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Owens was in control of Orton. The heels kept Owens in their corner for a few minutes before he broke free and brought in Cesaro. Cesaro unleashed on Sheamus with some running uppercuts with the crowd really into it. Cesaro hit a cross body block for a two count. He wanted the Swing, but Sheamus got to the ropes and then hit a powerslam. Like an idiot, Sheamus jumped off the top and got nailed with a forearm shot for a two count. Orton with a blind tag, Sheamus never saw it and Orton nailed him with a DDT off the ropes. Crowd went wild as Orton set up for a RKO on Sheamus. Orton went for a RKO on Owens, but Owens shoved him off, then Orton nailed the RKO on Sheamus and Cesaro pulled Owens out of the ring. It looked like a bit of a slip up there, but that ended the match after 13 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Randy Orton & Cesaro

Analysis: **1/2 A good match, but I also expected a little better from these guys. It just never got into that other gear to make it feel that exciting. There just weren’t a lot of believable nearfalls or too many thrilling moments. No Cesaro Swing spot either. I guess I’m just tired of watching Orton vs. Sheamus. Speaking of them, I assume that Orton pinning Sheamus clean with the RKO means that Sheamus wins on Sunday. That makes sense to me because Orton won clean at Battleground, so why do it again unless Sheamus is winning. Trust me, I’m sick of the feud. I’m just trying to explain the booking ideas.

The announcers hyped up Lesnar/Undertaker some more by showing Undertaker’s attack at Battleground and then the Raw brawl on July 20, which was the last time they were on Raw at the same time.

The Undertaker is up next.

(Commercial)

There was a video package about The Undertaker talking about how when the reaper calls your name there is no remorse. It was a backstage thing where there was a purple light and he walked into the picture before getting right in the face of the camera. “When The Reaper calls your name, it’s just over.” He said the gates of hell are opening and welcoming Lesnar to his eternal damnation. Undertaker stared into the camera. “Brock Lesnar – your name has been called. At SummerSlam, you will never rest in peace.”

Analysis: It was just about one minute to put over the storyline. He’ll be there live in the arena later in the show.

Seth Rollins was backstage talking to The Authority about the contract signing later. I f’n hate contract signings so much. They do so many of them. Rollins said that after he beats Cena for the US Title, he wants there to be a statue of himself at WWE headquarters. Stephanie said if he held both titles he would deserve his rightful statue among those legends. Hunter said if he brings back two championships, consider it done. Rollins was excited.

Analysis: That last line by Triple H really makes me doubt Rollins retaining the WWE Title like I had hoped. I think it will be a disqualification leading to a rematch at Night of Champions, so Rollins won’t have those two championships.

Dean Ambrose showed up to support his buddy Roman Reigns, who is in a match. Last week, I wrote an article at WhatCulture about how I think Ambrose is going to turn heel soon. Roman’s match is after a break.

(Commercial)

Ambrose was sitting beside JBL before the break and then moved to Saxton’s side after the break. He’s turning already! I’m kidding…I think. The SummerSlam match is Ambrose/Reigns vs. Wyatt/Harper. Ambrose took Saxton’s chair and sent it over to Wyatt, who sat by the ring.

Luke Harper vs. Roman Reigns

This is a rematch from Smackdown because WWE loves rematches. Reigns was dominant in the first two minutes and hit a running Drive By dropkick to knock Harper down outside the ring, so of course it’s time for a commercial two minutes into it.

(Commercial)

Back from break, in typical fashion the heel is in control with Harper grabbing a headlock. Ambrose is doing a great job announcing for this match. He’s such a great talker even though he doesn’t get the chance to do it as much as he used to. Harper nailed Reigns with a stiff looking boot to the face for two. Byron Saxton is doing commentary on his knees because nobody is giving him a chair. Reigns hit three clotheslines to get his momentum back. I’m trying to cut back on play by play, but trust me Reigns is throwing a lot of clotheslines like usual. Reigns nailed a Samoan Drop for a two count. They went outside the ring and Harper nailed him with a superkick. Ambrose was saying they like to slug it out and that they were dogs and cats. Harper went for a diving attack, but Reigns hit a forearm smash. Harper nailed a sidewalk slam for two. Another superkick by Harper and then a seated Powerbomb for two. Shortly after that, Reigns nailed a Superman Punch and then a Spear for the win after 14 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns

Post match, Ambrose walked in front of Wyatt to taunt him, but nothing physical happened. Ambrose went up the ramp with Reigns.

Analysis: **3/4 There were times where it dragged, but it got better by the end. I’m such a fan of Harper’s work in the ring because he’s always in the right spot, he bumps well and has a lot of moves that look great. Reigns is pretty basic with all the clotheslines as well as power spots, but his selling has improved a lot this year. I thought the finish could have been set up a bit better. As for Reigns winning, I’m probably picking Wyatt and Harper to win on Sunday because I think the Ambrose turn is coming either at SummerSlam or soon after.

A spotlight went on Harper/Wyatt in the ring and Wyatt said “follow the buzzards” as the show went to break.

Analysis: It’s a little bit past the first hour and it’s been pretty uneventful so far.

(Commercial)

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There was another reminder of Jon Stewart hosting SummerSlam.

Tamina Snuka (w/Naomi & Sasha Banks) vs. Becky Lynch (w/Paige & Charlotte)

It’s Paige’s birthday and she’s celebrating by not being in a match. Tamina was in control early on. The Bellas were looking on with Alicia Fox. It’s a good thing Nikki is wearing a hat or else we couldn’t tell the difference between her and Brie. Yeah I like making boob jokes. Tamina was going for a Samoan Drop, Lynch rolled through it and applied the Disarmer submission for the win after about four minutes.

Winner by submission: Becky Lynch

Post match, Team PCB celebrated. JBL was calling it a huge win while Cole noted it was her first singles win on Raw.

Analysis: * It was a pretty basic match. I’m glad Lynch won clean. Tamina’s not that good in the ring and really never has been. I don’t think beating her is that big of a deal because she barely wrestles anyway, but I get why they were trying to put it over as a big deal since Tamina is the more established of the two women.

Later it’s Banks vs. Nikki. Brock Lesnar will be there later.

(Commercial)

Rusev (w/Summer Rae) vs. Mark Henry

So Rusev gets to beat Mark Henry for the 457th time. I guess Jack Swagger is busy and tired of losing to Rusev. Lana was on commentary saying she had a plan. Henry got in a couple of bodyslams, but Rusev quickly came back when they were outside the ring. He shoved Henry into the ring post. Back in the ring, Rusev hit a superkick and then applied the Accolade for the submission win after about three minutes.

Winner by submission: Rusev

The Bulgarian flag dropped down above the ring with Rusev’s face on it.

Analysis: 1/2* A short match and an easy win that was very predictable.

Post match, Lana in her business suit took off her shoes and wanted Summer to fight her. Summer went in the ring, took off her shoes and Lana nailed her with a hard slap to the face. Lana wanted Rusev to fight. Fans chanted “Ziggler” and Lana was looking up the ramp. There is Ziggler’s music.

Dolph Ziggler ran down to the ring and was on fire with some punches followed by a Tornado DDT. Remember Lana said she had a plan? Here it is. Rusev pulled Summer in front of him to avoid a superkick. Lana ended up nailing Summer with a roundhouse kick and then Ziggler nailed Rusev with a superkick. The crowd was hot for all of this. Ziggler looked like he had a lot of spray tan on his chest but there wasn’t any on his back, so his back looked a little pale. Oops. He gave Lana a kiss to end the segment. The crowd loved all of it.

Analysis: That was a good segment and I missed Ziggler, so good to see him back from his injury angle due to the movie role. This will likely set up another SummerSlam match. The crowd was really into it and chanting for Ziggler, which is great. I thought Lana’s offensive moves looked really convincing too. Overall, a very entertaining segment.

Cena/Rollins contract signing (ugh) later.

(Commercial)

There was another mention of ESPN being at SummerSlam because WWE loves attention and sucking up.

A recap aired of Ziggler’s return.

Ziggler and Lana were backstage interviewed by Jojo. He said it’s the best job in the world because of that reaction he just got. He wanted to face Rusev in a singles match at SummerSlam.

Analysis: That would be the tenth match in a four hour SummerSlam show. They should be able to fit in everything, but one of the matches could move to the Kickoff Show.

There was a video package about The Undertaker’s SummerSlam match against Brock Lesnar. There were clips from the WWE Network special that aired after Raw last week that was really good.

Analysis: I recommend it if you didn’t see it. Great way to hype up the match.

Ryback entered for a match against The Miz up next.

(Commercial)

Big Show was at the announce table to hype up the SummerSlam triple threat match for Intercontinental Title.

The Miz did a promo ripping on Big Show’s acting because he’s in some movie nobody is going to watch and bragging about how he’s a star that will win the IC Title. He wanted people to shut up while he took off his sunglasses and whatever the hell he’s wearing on the way to the ring.

Ryback vs. The Miz

Miz got in a bit of offense, but it didn’t last long because Ryback came back with the Meathook Clothesline. Ryback finished him off with Shellshock in a match that went about two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Ryback

Analysis: 1/2* Why is Miz getting a title shot? Makes no sense with the way they book him. I can’t decide who is booked worse on a consistent basis: Miz or Barrett. Probably Barrett.

Post match, Ryback did a promo wanting Big Show to fight him. Show just walked up and left. If he wanted to fight him, why can’t Ryback leave the ring to actually go after him? Because it’s wrestling and they just don’t leave the ring in those situations.

Analysis: That IC Title triple threat match at SummerSlam is not very exciting at all. I don’t remember the last IC Title defense (I know Ryback was hurt for a month) and I don’t care about this one. Please make me care more about this once prestigious title.

Cena vs. Rollins contract signing up next at top of hour three.

(Commercial)

Contract Signing For WWE/US Title Match At SummerSlam

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were in the ring with the table and the leather chairs for the signing that we have seen so many times.

WWE Champion Seth Rollins came out for a promo. He bragged about how great he was. Then he found a way to insult the Minnesota Twins like the good heel that he is. He bragged about how he’ll be the WWE & US Champion at the same time.

The fans were chanting “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” and Rollins said that Bob Dylan, who is from Minnesota, once sang “the times they are a changing.” More like he mumbled it. Rollins is calling Cena a villain, holding the WWE Universe hostage for a decade and people chanting “yes” for it. Rollins called Cena a disease and bragged about shattering Cena’s face into a million pieces when he broke his nose. He said he’s going to set people free from Cena because Cena’s a disease and Rollins is a cure. The fans that hate Cena were cheering.

Rollins mentioned that Cena calls Rollins and his title reign a joke, but at SummerSlam Rollins said he’s going to crush his legacy like he crushed his stupid face. He complained about Cena having to ask the “cripple” Daniel Bryan on Tough Enough if he should accept Rollins’ SummerSlam challenge and here comes Cena.

John Cena walked out with his new orange and green gear along with the US Title around his waist. Cena got in Rollins face and said that Rollins is a cheap imitation of Cena. He mocked Rollins’ trying to rip on him by having merchandise that mocks Cena.

Cena talked about how Triple H has provided Cena with so much and that Rollins is a way to keep Triple H’s legacy arrive. Cena said the real problem is that the real champ is here. Cena wondered how he pays back Rollins and his knee – maybe he breaks it. He suggested maybe he breaks his arm or breaks his nose. Cena talked about how people come back from injuries. Cena told Rollins what he does on Sunday will haunt Rollins for the rest of his life.

Cena: “I’m a 15 time World Heavyweight Champion.” He said he designed his new “15 time” merch months ago and didn’t think he’d get a WWE Title shot again. He said he’ll do what he does on Sunday and he’ll win for the 16th time. Cena mentioned the all-time championship record is held by Ric Flair with 16 World Titles. Cena said that Rollins is a footnote and all Rollins will ever be is “who did John Cena beat to become the 16-time World Heavyweight Champion.”

Cena said that on Sunday he’ll fight to carry on Triple H’s legacy that was passed onto him by Ric Flair. Cena said the difference is that “Triple H was never Ric Flair’s bitch.” Then he looked at Rollins: “This Sunday I’m gonna make you mine.” Cena signed the contract and left. I thought Rollins signed it, but maybe not.

Analysis: A really good job by both guys. Cena saying “bitch” happens once in a while he does his super serious promos. It’s a good way to add to his intensity. Rollins had the Cena haters in the crowd cheering him because he complained about Cena being a disease for the last ten years. I’m actually surprised that there wasn’t a brawl or anything like that. I guess they didn’t do it because of the Lesnar/Undertaker confrontation coming later. It was an entertaining segment with both guys getting their points across well. I still hate contract signings.

More ESPN plugging because Brock Lesnar will be on ESPN Sportscenter at 9am and also on Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio, which is shown on TV as well.

Analysis: I think it’s fair to say that WWE really loves that ESPN is paying attention to them. And they want to remind us over and over all night long.

(Commercial)

The New Day did an entertaining promo leading up to this tag match.

The Prime Time Players & Lucha Dragons vs. The New Day (w/Xavier Woods) & Los Matadores

This eight man tag has been done pretty recently. I don’t think WWE spends more than one minute booking matches in the tag division. O’Neil was on fire for the face team when Woods got on the apron to distract and then Torito took out Woods with a diving attack. Woods had to be held back by New Day. In the ring, Kalisto hit a springboard hurricanrana on one of the Matadores for the pinfall win after about three minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Prime Time Players & Lucha Dragons

Analysis: * That was one of the most rushed eight man tag matches you’re ever going to see. Some of the guys in the match didn’t even get in the ring. Why should we care about the match when they barely get time? It’s like the tag team division has become the old divas division. Let me know when there’s a tag team revolution!

Replay of Ziggler’s return. He really was pale on the back. Ziggler vs. Rusev is added to SummerSlam officially. That’s ten matches on the card. I’ll list them in my final thoughts.

There’s something about Amell/Neville vs. Stardust/Barrett after the break.

(Commercial)

There was a video package with a comic book theme to it that hyped up Stardust & King Barrett vs. Neville & actor Stephen Amell.

Stardust did a promo with King Barrett and Barrett said they were the Lords of Darkness. Stardust seemed to like that. Barrett said that they will be bowing to their rightful king. Stardust did a promo about how Arrow (Amell) has a date with destiny. Stardust had a new modified cape for Barrett, who called himself the “Cosmic King” and then Stardust laughed.

Analysis: That was unique. I think Stardust’s promos have improved in the last few months. Barrett has no credibility left since he has lost so much and bombed as the king. It’s not his fault – it’s the booking.

Nikki Bella entered with Brie and Alicia Fox.

(Commercial)

I think Sasha Banks might have my favorite theme song in WWE. Sorry Mark Henry. I can’t decide officially.

Sasha Banks (w/Naomi & Tamina) vs. Nikki Bella (w/Brie & Alicia Fox)

Nikki was in control early on as she did her pushups and did over the top celebrating after a suplex. Team PCB was shown watching backstage. Banks started a comeback with a forearm shot to the face as well as the double knee attack. Banks did pushups to mock Nikki as the show went to break. It went to break without either woman on the floor. Oh the humanity! (Now that’s sarcasm.)

(Commercial)

Nikki nailed a kick off the middle rope and both girls were done. Clotheslines by Nikki and then a dropkick that didn’t look good. Nikki hit the Alabama Slam for two. Banks tried to get the momentum back, but Nikki put her on her shoulders and dropped her down in the electric chair drop spot. Forearm by Nikki. Nikki went for the Rack Attack, but Naomi went on the apron to cause the distraction. Banks capitalized with the Back Stabber into the submission that she calls the Banks Statement. Nikki tapped out, so Banks got the win. It went about 11 minutes.

Winner by submission: Sasha Banks

Analysis: **1/2 It was okay not great. I thought they could have made it a bit more exciting with better nearfalls. There were times when I could hear the crowd chanting for Lesnar and even a faint chant for JBL at one point. Part of it is because these women have both been booked as heels in the storyline, so the fans likely didn’t know who to really cheer for and that hurt the dynamic of the match. Banks is great and maybe the best female performer in WWE right now. Nikki’s done well as Divas Champion, but I don’t remember her last title defense. Having the champ lose clean is standard WWE booking for their champions in non-tile matches. I don’t like it – it’s just their way.

The PCB team did a short interview with Renee Young just talking about how they’re going to win at SummerSlam. Of course Charlotte said “Flair” in the promo.

There was another video of Lesnar beating Undertaker at WrestleMania 30.

Lesnar is up next for the main event segment.

(Commercial)

Main Event Lesnar And Undertaker Final Hype

The great Paul Heyman was in the ring doing a promo to hype up the beast Brock Lesnar. It was a fantastic promo that only the advocate Heyman can do. He made sure to mention Lesnar winning the NCAA Heavyweight Wrestling title when he was at the University of Minnesota.

Lesnar received a HUGE ovation from the crowd in Minnesota. There was confetti for this “homecoming” as well. Lesnar was wearing his “Suplex City Minneapolis” shirt as the crowd continued to give him a loud, sustained pop. After several minutes of cheering for Lesnar, there was a “Suplex City” chant.

Heyman did a song from his knees about the “conqueror marches on” that the crowd was familiar with because they were singing along. Lesnar was smiling for it. When Heyman finished, the famous gong of The Undertaker hit.

The lights went out and Heyman was on the apron freaking out. No sign of Undertaker. More “Suplex City” chants. Heyman wondered if that was the best that The Undertaker had. He said that even if Undertaker got God and the devil to team up with him, Lesnar will take all three of them to Suplex City. What an awesome line!

He said that Undertaker has fantasized about taking revenge on Lesnar since WrestleMania 30. Then Undertaker finally got revenge at Battleground by going for the low blow. Heyman said that Undertaker has never beat Lesnar and after SummerSlam, Undertaker will never beat Lesnar. Heyman claimed that Undertaker fears Lesnar.

Heyman said that Undertaker could probably beat any man, but he’s not fighting a man – he’s fighting a beast, which is in reference to Lesnar. He said that Sunday at SummerSlam, Lesnar offers Undertaker no respect, no recognition of title reigns, no recognition of Undertaker’s 25 years in WWE and as he was going on, the lights went out again. The gong sound hit again.

The Undertaker was in the ring in his usual ring gear. Lesnar turned around and Undertaker kicked Lesnar in the groin again. Undertaker nailed a Chokeslam. Most of the crowd was booing because they love Lesnar in his hometown. Lesnar was stumbling around so Undertaker grabbed him again and nailed a Tombstone in the center of the ring.

The Undertaker did his pose in the ring, stared at Heyman and then the lights went dark again. Undertaker walked out of the ring, went up the ramp and raised his arm up in the air as Lesnar looked on from the ring. That’s how Raw ended at around 11:14pmET.

Analysis: That ovation for Lesnar was pretty overwhelming and so cool to see. The people of Minnesota absolutely love him. He was smiling a lot for it. I thought The Undertaker’s attack was interesting because he went for the low blow right away. I would have liked to see them brawl a bit. I guess they went with it this way because it’s a way to say that Undertaker struck first without allowing Lesnar to get a shot on him. I thought Lesnar did a good job of selling the three moves that Undertaker did too. The boos for Undertaker were weird. I get why it happened because Lesnar is beloved in Minnesota. It’s still weird to see Undertaker treated like that because we are so used to hearing him get some of the loudest ovations in wrestling.

The crowd reactions in Brooklyn at SummerSlam will be so interesting. I think Lesnar will get cheered by most, if not all fans. Undertaker might get booed by some although I think his status as a legend will prevent everybody from joining in. That crowd aspect intrigues me as much as anything really.

As for that ending, I was picking Lesnar anyway. I’m still going to pick him after that because I believe in the “look strong on TV, lose on PPV” theory quite a bit especially for main event matches. Lesnar should win too.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Paul Heyman/Brock Lesnar
  2. Seth Rollins
  3. John Cena

 

The Scoreboard

5.5 out of 10

Last week: 6.5

Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 7, 7, 8.5, 6.5

2015 Average: 5.89

2015 High: 9 (May 4)

2015 Low: 4 (Feb 9/June 22)

 

Final Thoughts

I’m giving it a 5.5 out of 10.

I thought the show was pretty average and a slight step down from the previous four weeks.

The matches were not at the level that we have seen in the last few weeks. They tried hard, but none of them really stood out to me.

Promos were the highlight with Rollins, Cena and Heyman doing the best job.

I think if you missed Raw the segments worth watching were the final segment and Rollins/Cena promos. Other than that there really weren’t a lot of “must see” things.

The crowd was fantastic. Good job by the fans in Minneapolis.

Here’s the full SummerSlam lineup:

Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker

Winner Take All: WWE Champion Seth Rollins vs. US Champion John Cena

Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper

Randy Orton vs. Sheamus

Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens

Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev

Stephen Amell & Neville vs. Stardust & King Barrett

Elimination Tag Team Match: Team PCB vs. Team Bellas vs. Team B.A.D.

Intercontinental Title: Ryback vs. The Miz vs. Big Show

Tag Team Titles: Prime Time Players vs. Los Matadores vs. Lucha Dragons vs. The New Day

That’s a lot of matches! I know they have four hours, but damn ten matches is quite a bit. I better get started on the preview now!

The SummerSlam PPV preview should be up on Friday or Saturday. I’m going to write about NXT Takeover Brooklyn possibly live on Saturday and definitely will write about SummerSlam live on Sunday.

Check out my feature column archive that’s exclusive to WhatCulture.

Thanks for reading. Go Blue Jays.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling on Facebook

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