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WWE Monday Night RAW - January 12, 2015

by Scrooge McSuck

- At least once a year I’ll sit back and try to recap an entire episode of Monday Night Raw. Tonight seems to be the perfect time to do that, for whatever reasons. Maybe it’s because it’s the unofficial 22nd Anniversary of Monday Night Raw (debuted January 11th, 1993). Or maybe something important will happen...or maybe it’ll be the same as always.

- We’re LIVE from NEW ORLEANS, the city that hosted WrestleMania XXX. Michael Cole, John “Bradshaw” Layfield, and Booker T are at ringside to call all the action, unless otherwise noted. I guess Jerry “The King” Lawler has been bumped back to working Smackdown. If you need to know what happened last week, then read either the Main Event or Superstars recap.

- To the surprise of nobody, we open with the standard 20-minutes of talking. Why not change the formula up? Or the set… or SOMETHING. Kicking things off, Mr. Popularity, John Cena. One thing I hate… when someone in WWE refers to someone else as a "first ballot" Hall of Famer. Where are these mythical ballots kept? Who keeps track of the voting process? Where’s the numbers? If there was a dumber phrase used in WWE, I’d like to know it. Bottom line: He wants Dolph, Ryback, and Rowan re-hired, but plan B is winning the World Title...wait...HOW DOES THAT HELP ANYONE? Selfish bastard. Oh, wait, he threatens to hold the Title home until they cave to his demands. Did I mention Brock Lesnar is the reigning WWE Champion? Hunter and Stephanie interrupt and point out Cena’s crybaby attitude. They give Cena the opportunity to earn back Ziggler, Rowan, and Ryback’s jobs. He has to defeat Mr. Money In The Bank, Seth Rollins, in a Lumberjack Match. NEXT! Forcing Cena to give up his Title Match at the Royal Rumble in exchange for their employment would’ve been a better, more meaningful option.

Lumberjack Match: John Cena vs. Seth Rollins (w/ J & J Security):

Lumberjacks at ringside include Corporate Kane, Big Show, Bad News Barrett, Titus O’Neil, the New and Improved Fandango, Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, Curtis Axel, and what looks to be Justin Gabriel. I guess he’s back, along with Darren Young, but hell if anyone calls attention to this stuff. Rollins quickly tries to send Cena to the floor, but Cena grabs a headlock. Barrett with a distraction, allowing Rollins to put the boots to him. Cena rallies, but is quickly dumped out and ambushed by a gaggle of Lumberjacks. Cena sends Rollins out with a clothesline, and to the surprise of nobody, the Lumberjacks give Rollins some breathing room. We return from break (including a TNA Impact Wrestling commercial for Destination America) with Rollins in control. Cena rallies again with diving shoulder tackles and a back suplex. Rollins tries to kick Cena to interrupt a Five-Knuckle Shuffle, but Cena catches it and hits the AA. Noble and Mercury with a distraction, allowing Rollins to bail. Cena follows, with a plancha onto Rollins and a pile of the Lumberjacks. Back inside, Cena with a small package for two. Rollins recovers quickly and connects with a super-kick for two. They fight on the top rope, with Rollins getting the better of the situation with a running Powerbomb into the turnbuckle. Cena comes back with a lame “sit out” “spinebuster” for a near fall. Rollins lands on his feet to escape another AA and hits an Asai DDT (a.k.a Sliced Bread #2) for two. Rollins misses a charge, the AA connects, but Cena is pulled out of the ring and pummeled by the Lumberjacks. Back Cena out of the ring and hits the KO Punch. Back in, and Rollins covers for three at 13:52. *1/2 I understand that the entire concept of the match is to screw over Cena, but how many visual wins did he have over Rollins, despite the odds being completely against him?

- Stephanie McMahon is backstage with The Uso’s and "The Lunatic Fringe" Dean Ambrose. She books Naomi in a match where she has one arm tied behind her back. As for Ambrose, he’s going to be evaluated by a doctor specializing in abnormal behavior to make sure if he’s capable of competing in the Royal Rumble Match. I guess one person still laughs at the Anger Management stuff with Daniel Bryan and Kane from a couple of years ago.

New Day (w/ Big E.) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (w/ Natalya & Adam Rose):

No introductions. Last week, Cesaro and Kidd attacked the New Day. Kofi sends Cesaro to the floor and gives chase. Cesaro lifts him up into a kick from Kidd. He springboards in with an elbow drop for two. Cesaro with some mudhole stomping in the corner as we see the Exotic Express in the entrance area. Are they still associated with Rose? Kofi with a small package on Cesaro for two. Cesaro with the Giant Swing, into a basement dropkick from Kidd for two. Kofi sends Cesaro to the floor with a hip toss and catches Kidd coming with a jumping boot to the face. Woods with the tag, springing in with a clothesline. Whip to the corner and Woods with a diving forearm. Rose with a distraction, to no avail. Kofi with the tag, and he comes off the top with a double stomp across the knee of Woods, and it’s good for three at 3:51. * Rushed beyond all hell. I don’t know if it’s just me, but Kofi is so much more entertaining than Woods in the ring.

- NEXT WEEK on Monday Night Raw, it’s a Raw Reunion, including Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, and Scott Hall. Kevin Who?

- Well it’s the Big Show to put me to sleep. WILL THIS GUY EVER FUCKING RETIRE?!?!? Big Show’s first day on the job was technically about 5 months before his actual match with Hulk Hogan. Oh, I don’t know if we’re breaking kayfabe or not. I guess he’s calling out Roman Reigns. And then he mocks the New York Knicks. IN NEW ORLEANS? Makes sense. Vince thinks Japan and China are the same, so “New Whatever” is the same thing, too. Reigns shows up, and Show takes a walk. Reigns dies on the microphone, again. I think he said “WWECW” Champion, too. I guess it’s from the same company as Andre’s World World Wrestling Championship. Thankfully Luke Harper interrupts, and it’s match time!

Roman Reigns vs. Luke Harper:

Harper and Reigns slug it out in the corner. Whip to the corner and Reigns with a Samoan Drop. He signals for something, but Harper rolls away as we take a break. We return with Harper putting a hurtin’ on Reigns. Reigns blocks a clothesline and comes back with knees. Harper quickly regains control as the crowd appears to be behind him. Reigns blocks a suplex and counters with his own into a slam for two. Oh God, Reigns is already starting to get Batista heat. Harper cuts off another comeback, this time with a dropkick. Back in the ring, Harper with a senton from the apron for two. He hooks a chinlock and gives us a Gator-Roll. Reigns comes back with little reaction. Clotheslines and some boos. Neck breaker gets two. Harper escapes a Samoan Drop and connects with a charging big boot for two. Reigns quickly comes back with Cena’s shitty back/side suplex for two. He sets up for the Superman Punch, but Big Show distracts him. Harper with the Black Hole Slam… FOR TWO! Reigns escapes a Powerbomb attempt and hits the Superman Punch from out of nowhere. The camera actually misses the boot to the face from outside the ring. Show with another distraction, and Harper with a Super-Kick for two. Reigns with the Spear, and it’s over at 10:40. Show attacks post match, and suddenly Reigns is more popular again. **1/2 Not the prettiest match, but it was technically fine. I just have zero desire to sit through Reign’s push right now.

- The Miz and Mizdow act has most definitely, officially, Jumped the Shark... immediately after their performance in the Royal Rumble Match.

Naomi vs. Alicia Fox:

I thought Fox was a babyface...unless this is some bizarre Total Divas Universe booking. Naomi has her left hand tied behind her back, of course. Doesn’t matter, you’re not supposed to use the left arm, anyway. Alicia gives her a few shots before connecting with a back breaker for two. Backstage, Jimmy and Jey Uso are WATCHING! Fox grabs the arm, but Naomi fights free. The crowd is completely out to lunch for this. To the floor, and somehow Naomi is still in this thing. With how well she’s doing, you’d think this is scripted. Fox quickly boots her in the face and hits an ugly Scissors Kick for three at 3:32. DUD Nothing to see here. Hard to fill three hours with a three minute match.

- Dean Ambrose’s therapy sessions continues, complete with reference to the goofy Smackdown commercials. It’s WORD ASSOCIATION. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” for Triple H. “Scumbag” for Rollins, “Brother” for Roman Reignsa, “Toothpaste” for Kane, “Hooo!” for Jim Duggan, and “Hooo!” for Stephanie McMahon.

- WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman are in the house, and earning another 5 roster cuts to make up for his per-appearance salary. We’re reminded that New Orleans was host of Brock Lesnar conquering the Streak at WrestleMania XXX. He faces John Cena and Seth Rollins at the Royal Rumble.

Jey Uso (w/ Jimmy Uso) vs. The Miz (w/ Damien Mizdow):

This feud is still a thing? Lockup into the corner, and we waste little time in playing to the crowd with the comedy routine, complete with Mizdow hanging across the ropes and slamming himself. Uso with a flying body press for a two count. Criss Cross and Uso with a Samoan Drop. He runs into the corner with an ass to the face for another near fall. Miz with a sweep of the leg and Figure-Four attempt, but Uso counters with a small package for two. Stuff happens, Jimmy Uso and Mizdow get minor involvement, and the Skull Crushing Finale finishes at 2:11. DUD Pointless filler.

- Daniel Bryan is in the house! The crowd wakes up for a #Yes Chant. If he doesn’t win the Royal Rumble Match, the WWE Creative Team better have a damn good back-up plan. It’s seriously going to take MAJOR BALLS to pull off the Royal Rumble, have Reigns go over, and not have the crowd backlash against it. Stephanie McMahon interrupts, because why not. We’re reminded of a beatdown Daniel Bryan sustained at the hands of THE DEMON Kane, just prior to his going on the Injured List. I’m officially back on the Daniel Bryan bandwagon. Stephanie forces Daniel Bryan to compete this week on Smackdown… against CORPORATE KANE. Daniel Bryan takes the fight to Kane, only to get thrown into the ring steps. He goes for a Tombstone on the steps, but Bryan escapes, shoves Kane into the post, and pounds away until referees pull them apart. Bryan breaks free and lays Kane out with a suicide dive!

- Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins share a moment backstage. Double-cross, perhaps, from Paul Heyman? It’s possible.

Paige (w/ Natalya & Tyson Kidd) vs. Brie Bella (w/ Nikki Bella):

No introductions. Lockup into the ropes and Paige connects with an elbow, followed by a flurry of knees to the midsection. Brie quickly comes back and comes off the ropes with a dropkick for two. Second time with Natalya at ringside, and second outfit. Meanwhile, Bries controls with a chinlock. Paige battles back and connects with a super-kick for two. Tyson Kidd with a distraction and Brie rolls Paige up for three at 2:10. DUD. Another stupid finish and another meaningless match. Paige bitch slaps Kidd, but he seemed to not be bothered by it. I’m annoyed by this cross-over nonsense with the Total Divas Universe.

- Clips from the… ahem… “First Ever” Ambulance Match from last week. Bray Wyatt with a promo, and guess what, he’s going to be in the Royal Rumble Match. Good, needs more star power. What’s that now, Ambrose, Reigns, Bryan, Rusev, and Wyatt confirmed? I know only a couple have a real chance, but it’s good to see everyone worth a damn will be used.

- "Macho Man" Randy Savage is officially announced as the 1st Inductee of the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame. It’s not about “who really deserves to be in” or not, but recognizing legends and giving them the stage one last time, and Randy Savage is LONG over-due. I understand he refused it before his untimely death, but it’s nice to see the fences mended a bit between the WWE and Poffo Family. Just 'confirmed' Hulk Hogan will be the man inducting him. I’m sure Lanny Poffo wil be accepting on his behalf.

The Ascension vs. Dragon Chan & Vanilla Gorilla:

This should be quick. Their entrance music sounds really familiar. I guess it’s remixed of Seth Rollins. They cut another inset promo about being better than Demolition, the Powers of Pain, and the Road Warriors. Maybe 1 of the 3. I think Dave Meltzer said it best... they look like two guys dressing up to play professional wrestler. They obliterate a couple of unnamed jobbers and finish with the Fall of Man at 1:11. Decent squash. Shouldn’t the only heel commentator, JBL, be backing them, instead of questioning their abilities and quality of opponents?

- Dean Ambrose’s therapy ends with HIM in the doctor’s chair and the doctor crying about his childhood and sitting down to pee. Vince Russo would be proud.

- United States Champion Rusev and the Ravishing Russian Lana cut a promo on the recently terminated Ryback. Same thing as from last weeks episode of Main Event. This time Dean Ambrose interrupts and engages in a brawl. Goody, that’s another series of matches for Ambrose to do jobs in while looking like a Wile E. Coyote buffoon.

Dean Ambrose vs. Rusev (w/ Lana):

This is an OFFICIAL MATCH BY ORDERS OF THE AUTHORITY, after we return from commercial. Ambrose is in control with clubberin’ blows, but Rusev quickly clips the knee. Rusev pounds away and slaps on a leg scissors. Ambrose avoids a charge but can’t connect on a DDT. Rusev misses a jumping super-kick, but Ambrose counters with a roll up for two. Ambrose with the rope-spring clothesline, followed by his flying elbow to a standing Rusev for a near fall. Rusev keeps going to the knee and traps Ambrose in a Tree of Woe… and then the referee calls for the bell at 4:19. ¾* Pointless filler. Again. Post-match, the Road Runner lays out Wile E. Coyote.

- MAIN EVENT CONTRACT SIGNING! Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Seth Rollins. Royal Rumble. Triple Threat. WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Yarn. Balloon Animals. Whoops, sorry, I lost track of things, I’m bored out of my mind getting through this episode of Monday Night Raw. We’re going into Overtime, by the way. I’m sure the live crowd has enjoyed the fuck out of sitting through almost nothing but promos. We get some cheap shots and Cena puts Brock through a table with the AA. Rollins with the Curb Stomp to Cena, and then a Curb Stomp to Brock. How about cashing in RIGHT NOW?

Final Thoughts: All this episode did was confirm fears in WWE’s direction and lack of creative ideas. Dean Ambrose comedy bits are entertaining, but does nothing to elevate him, and then he goes out and gets KO’ed by Rusev, who’s presently pushing a feud with Ryback. Daniel Bryan is back… and he’s fighting Kane. Roman Reigns is blowing his lines and quoting Fairy Tales, the Big Show is still stinking, and there was a whole hell of a lot of AWFUL matches featured. I hope the Royal Rumble is amazing in two weeks. WWE needs the jolt. Boring wrestling, pointless matches, butchered promos, awful writing… there’s not even one stand out match to look forward to.

Final Thoughts: Goodbye, 1993. You were a mixed bag, but more often than not very entertaining. Thumbs up for being so amusing.

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