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WWE Monday Night RAW - March 30, 2015

by Scrooge McSuck

- We’re 24 hours removed from WrestleMania 31, and to my surprise, the general belief is that it was one, if not the, best WrestleMania of all time for the consistent quality up and down the card. I don’t think it touches the greatness of WrestleMania III, X-Seven, or XIX, and you could argue Mania XXX was better too, but after that, I think it hits the better side of the Top 10. Last night was such an emotionally and physically draining night, that I couldn’t even muster the energy to do the complete write up that I intended… so good news everyone (or maybe Bad News?), you get a special treat with the night after WrestleMania Raw… the day of WrestleMania bullshit on the WWE Network!

- First, the Hall of Fame ceremony… I thought it was a good show. I have long given up on the whole “who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame” argument, and look at it more as a night of recognition, a last chance for some people who have been out of the spotlight to address the fans and talk about whatever they want to. More often than not, it’s a great time to just see these guys (and gals) out of character and having a good time. Seeing Lanny Poffo and hearing him deliver a few of his trademark poems in memory of the Macho Man was one of the highlights. Kevin Nash was funny, referencing Oz and the “rubber mask and dunce cap” that came with it. “Wouldn’t it have been better to just have a box with a letter saying I’m fired?” Alundra Blayze gave a great speech and had a fun moment pulling the old Ladies Championship (and assorted bad WCW ideas) out of the trash. Even the Bushwhackers, who those familiar with my ranting and raving knows I’m not the biggest fans, gave a fun speech that had me smiling and laughing along with them. The four hour run time did get a bit tedious, but when you over-load with so many people, it will happen. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this, but WWE would be better off just doing 3-4 people to cut down on time, and to preserve names for future ceremonies.

- Second, the block of programming on the WWE Network leading into the show left a lot to be desired. I know that with it being WrestleMania, they didn’t want to put anything major on before it, but dammit, why not show more re-runs of the WrestleMania Rewind instead of awful Countdowns? I did like that leading into the Kickoff Show was the WWE 24 special that covered WrestleMania XXX, but there could’ve been a bit more done with WrestleMania related programming. The Mania Rewind for WrestleMania IV and the Championship Finals was probably the only thing I paid much attention to for the 6-hours between the Hall of Fame re-run and the Kickoff Show. If you didn’t watch WrestleMania 31, there appears to be a bunch of old and new programming to be added, including a Adult Swim style show from Seth Green called WWE Camp, a show called “Swerved!”, which would be wonderful if hosted by Vince Russo, and hey… the return of the Diva Search! Remember past winners like Christy Hemme or Ashley… uh… Ashley? Yeah, we can look forward to that, too. Oh, and HULK HOGAN’S ROCK N’ WRESTLING CARTOON SERIES. For only $9.99!

- And now, onto our regularly scheduled programming…

- Televised LIVE on March 30th, 2015 from San Jose, CA. Michael Cole, Booker T, and John “Bradshaw” Layfield are at ringside to call all the action, unless otherwise noted.

- FORMER WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman are out first, and Brock looks ready for a fight. Heyman reminds us that last night, the WrestleMania Main Event took place in Suplex City, bitch. Then Seth Rollins snuck in, cashed in the MITB briefcase, and steals the Championship. Brock wants a rematch. Not at SummerSlam. Not at WrestleMania. Not at Extreme Rules. Not at Payback. He wants it TONIGHT. Stephanie McMahon naturally interrupts, because she has to make everyone else look bad. Heyman promises Lesnar will walk out of Raw with the WWE World Heavyweight Title… but he will obviously turn on Lesnar and join forces with Rollins.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match:
Daniel Bryan © vs. Dolph Ziggler:

What has Ziggler done to deserve an immediate title match? Shouldn’t Bad News Barrett be getting a rematch? Barrett just gets to join the commentary team. I’m reminded Ziggler defeated Bryan twice in the last few weeks. They fight over a knuckle-lock until Bryan goes to work on the arm. Ziggler picks the ankle and grabs a waistlock. Bryan rolls through with it and pounds away, but Ziggler turns the momentum back into a cover for two. Lockup to the corner, Ziggler gives a cheap shot headbutt. Bryan retaliates with kicks and a forearm. He flips Ziggler over, and slaps on a surfboard. Whip is reversed, Bryan avoids a charge, but the clothesline off the ropes is countered with a dropkick! Body press into the ropes takes both men to the floor as we go to a commercial.

We return, with Ziggler in control. During the break, Bryan took an awkward head scissors into a piledriver. Ziggler misses a charge allowing Bryan to hit his signature running dropkicks. Bryan goes for a hurricanrana, but Ziggler slips out of harm. He climbs up, only to find himself crotched along the turnbuckle. Bryan goes up again, and the super-back suplex connects for a two count! Bryan with Yes-Kicks until Ziggler ducks one and rolls him up for two. Bryan goes for the Yes-Lock, but Ziggler counters. They fight over a back-slide until Ziggler throws Bryan shoulder-first into the post. Bryan avoids a Zig-Zag, but a running knee is countered with a Super-Kick! They trade rights and headbutts, with Ziggler getting the best of the exchange, but then Bryan explodes out of the corner with the big Knee, and it gets the three count at 11:56! Post-match, Bad News Barrett attacks Bryan, but SHEAMUS, with an awful Mohawk (and a “you look stupid” chant), runs in to make the save and get booed. Then he hits Bryan with the Brogue Kick, because he’s due for a heel turn, and wipes the floor with Bryan. ***1/4 Really good for a television match, but the return of Sheamus probably means no Bryan vs. Ziggler on PPV.

- There’s an EXCLUSIVE interview with Sting… immediately following Raw on the WWE Network. Bastards.

Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, and the Ascension (w/ Natalya) vs. Kofi Kingston, Big E. and the Lucha Dragons (w/ Xavier Woods):

I love how they are advertising the Lucha Dragons as making their debut, despite making several appearances on the C-Show lately. Big NXT chant. Cesaro and Sin Cara 2.0 start. Cesaro controls, putting the boots to him. Whip to the ropes and Sin Cara takes him down with a spinning armbar. Kalisto goes for a spinning head scissors, but Cesaro catches it. Awesome spot that sees Kalisto jump off the shoulders of Cesaro and take him down following a complicated sequence leading into an arm drag. The faces work over Konnor until Sin Cara gets caught in the wrong corner and worked over by the Ascension. We return from commercial, with Sin Cara taking the giant swing/dropkick from the Tag Team Champions. Sin Cara with an enziguri on Konnor, and hot tag to Kofi. He goes crazy on Kidd with chops and a jumping clothesline. Boom drop connects, and damn, how did WWE get the fans hating KOFI? Cross body press gets two. Cesaro in with the Swiss uppercut. Viktor tags himself in, and we have a heel argument. Kofi with a cradle, but only gets two. Kalisto tags in and hits a corkscrew springboard on Viktor. Head scissors face-buster gets two. Big E. with a overhead belly-to-belly on Cesaro and Kidd. Kofi and Sin Cara work together for a high spot. Kalisto with the Salida del Sol on Viktor, and it gets three at 10:01. *1/2 Standard 8-Man action, with Kalisto being the star of the match and hitting everything smoothly.

- Brief Adrian Neville hype video. It will probably be a few weeks before we know a date, with how limited of a tease this was. Good to see the NXT guys coming up, but after the lackluster pushes for Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Emma, The Ascension, and even Paige at times (the poor continuity of 2014), it will be hard to trust WWE in pushing newer acts.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Seth Rollins © (w/ J & J Security) vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman):

Rollins actually dares to taunt Lesnar with the Championship. After introductions, Rollins hops out of the ring to grab the microphone. He’s feeling jet-lagged and his foot hurts, so the rematch won’t take place tonight. Lesnar runs to the floor and throws Rollins down. He lays him out with a big clothesline, then throws him in the ring. Rollins lands on his feet on a German suplex attempt and hits the enziguri, but Lesnar no-sells it! Lesnar follows him out again and goes for the F-5, but J & J Security save, taking a double clothesline. Lesnar tosses the English announcers table over, throws Noble and Mercury around, then throws MICHAEL COLE in the ring! F-5 to Michael Cole!!! He hip throws the camera man into the ring, and here comes Stephanie to reason with him. Lesnar gives him an F-5 anyway, so Stephanie suspends him “indefinitely.” I guess that is how they will write Lesnar off television until SummerSlam. AWESOME segment and holy crap, Michael Cole took that bump like a Champion. We see the remains of the table, and underneath it is a crumpled mess known as Booker T and JBL. The plant cameraman takes another F-5, because Brock kicks ass.

- We come back from commercial to see the replays, sans commentary, because everyone is down and out. Cole and the cameraman are being stretchered out while Booker and JBL continue to nap underneath the table. Did I mention how awesome this segment was? THAT is how you make someone look like a fucking monster. A monster everyone was cheering for, but a monster nonetheless.

- Renee Young catches up with Stephanie McMahon. Not only is Brock Lesnar indefinitely suspended, but he’ll be fined for the physical and emotional damage he just caused.

- WrestleMania 32 is Sunday… April 3rd, 2016. Make your reservations and work schedule ASAP. We only have 371 days until the Super Bowl of professional wres---- Sports Entertainment.

- Byron Saxton is out to help take over duties on commentary.

Damien Mizdow vs. Stardust:

Good babyface pop for Mizdow, of course. Mizdow does the Miz’s sunglasses spot, and the crowd approves. Stardust attacks but is quickly laid out with a clothesline. Anyone remember the tag team of Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow? The Rhodes Scholars? Yeah, that was a cool team. Whip to the ropes, Stardust comes back with punchy-kicky. Crowd barely cares enough for Stardust to chant “Cody” at him. Stardust with a front suplex and chinlock. Mizdow ducks under a clothesline and hits the Skull Crushing Finale for three at 2:24. Post-match, Miz runs in, attacks from behind, and hits his own Skull Crushing Finale on Mizdow. No rating, the match was just there to remind everyone of the break-up between Miz and Mizdow. I don’t get why he’s still calling himself Mizdow and using the Miz theme music, but whatever.

- We fill time with a recap of WrestleMania week and all the publicity appearances of various WWE Superstars and Divas. I’d say Rock’s appearance on SNL had more to do with Furious 7 coming out, but that is nitpicking.

- Curtis Axel is in the ring, and I guess AxelMania is still running mild. The road to Axetreme Rules starts NOW.

Neville vs. Curtis Axel:

OK, so maybe I was wrong about that one. No “Adrian”, just Neville. Thankfully, no goofy Mighty Mouse attire. Axel goes flying over the top rope on a charge, and Neville quickly hits an awe inspiring Asai Moonsault. The match begins, proper and Neville is just showing off his athleticism. And spot calling skills. He hits a series of kicks and a running boot to the side of the head. Neville with a running forearm into the corner, scoop slam, and the Red Arrow finishes at 1:13. Squash match to introduce Neville to the home viewers, and it’s always a good idea to debut someone like this in front of a hot, smart crowd.

WWE United States Championship Open Challenge:
John Cena © vs. ???

The hostile crowd returns, chanting along with Cena’s theme “John Cena Sucks.” Give the guy a break, he’s holding the United States Title. It’s like we’re back in 2004 all over again. Maybe Big Show will accept the challenge… please God, don’t let it be the Big Show accepting the challenge. After some promo time acknowledging the anti-Cena crowd, we get our challenger… DEAN AMBROSE! Lockup, Cena with a side headlock takeover. They take it to the ropes, and Ambrose gives a shove. Whip to the ropes and Ambrose with a hip toss for barely a one count.

We return from commercial break, with Cena in control with a chinlock. Jerry Lawler has arrived to the ringside area to join Saxton for commentary. Ambrose comes back with rights and a running bulldog. He heads to the top rope, lands on his feet missing whatever he was going for, and Cena takes him down with a back suplex. Ambrose interrupts the Five Knuckle Shuffle and unloads with a flurry of rights. He runs into a boot, bounces off the ropes, and jumps into another back suplex. 2nd 5KS attempt connects, but an AA is countered with a sunset flip for a near fall. Ambrose kicks out of an STF attempt and hits his big clothesline for another two count. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, but Cena counters. Ambrose escapes another AA attempt, and its slugfest time. Ambrose with a Tornado DDT for two. They take it to the floor, with Ambrose flying off the top with the big elbow. Back in the ring, the AA hits, but Ambrose kicks out at two! Cena sets him up for the Super-AA, but Ambrose fights it off and hits a sit-out powerbomb. Cena no-sells it and quickly hooks the STF, but Ambrose makes it to the ropes. Ambrose counters the AA and hooks his own STF! Cena escapes, and another AA is countered, this time with Dirty Deeds! It only gets two. SLUGFEST! They go through a series of counters until Cena rolls through a body press throws Ambrose on his shoulders, hits the AA, and Cena Wins LOL at 14:24. *** Started slow, and there was a blown/repeated spot toward the end, but they really picked it up and delivered a pretty good match. I was expecting someone lower on the card (I mean MUCH lower) to give a gutsy performance, but this worked.

- Seth Rollins gloats backstage, but Randy Orton interrupts and declares his intentions. Here comes Big Show and Kane to spoil the fun. Rollins offers a challenge for a Six-Man Tag Team Match. All Randy has to do is find two partners. I’m guessing Roman Reigns and… hmmm… we’re low on available talent. Ryback?

A.J. Lee, Paige, Naomi vs. Nikki & Brie Bella, Natalya:

Give the Divas a chance! How can they not give us Paige’s entrance? Natalya and Naomi start. Natalya controls with a headlock. Criss-cross sequence ends abruptly. Naomi with a running dropkick, but misses a charge. Natalya uses the ropes for a springboard atomic drop, then comes off the ropes with a basement dropkick for two. Brie comes in and works the arm. Paige gets the tag and unloads with headbutts. Brie throws the leg out from under her, and Paige retaliates. Paige no-sells a kick and tackles Brie through the ropes, to the floor! We have a stand-off as they go to a commercial break. We return with Brie in control of a chinlock on A.J. Natalya back in with more resting. Again, I say this every time… you have SIX PEOPLE. What the hell is the need for nothing but rest-holds? Nattie with a suplex for two. Nikki with a clothesline for two. More resting. Nikki knocks Paige off the apron and applies a bow-and-arrow. A.J. escapes and hops on Nikki with a sleeper, but gets rammed to the corner. Naomi with the hot tag, hanging Nikki across the top rope. She heads to the top and comes off with a flying body press. Whip to the corner and a head scissors is countered with the Alabama Slam. Paige breaks it up, so Natalya throws her with a German Suplex. A.J. and Brie get involved, Nikki accidentally hits Brie, and the Rear View finishes Nikki at 13:10. ** I miss the days of real tag teams destroying their opponents with double team moves, and only doing a rest-hold to build tension for a hot tag. Not filling the entire match with resting and hitting an occasional standard move in between. This was mostly resting until a really hot finishing sequence, but the crowd didn’t completely shit on them.

- Thursday Night on SmackDown, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler team up to face Bad News Barrett and the Red Rooster. Whoops, I mean Sheamus.

Goldust vs. Rusev:

No introduction for Goldust, and no Lana with Rusev. I guess she’s still filming that new, awful WWE movie. No, I don’t know the name of it, but I guarantee it sucks. Goldust avoids a bum rush and pounds away with rights. Rusev throws him into the corner and nails him with a big forearm. Rusev puts the feet to him and works him over in the corner. Rusev continues to dominate with his brawling style in between taunting. Goldust comes back with his signature uppercut, but Rusev shrugs it off, hits the jumping side kick, and the Accolade finishes at 2:18. Just a squash match. I guess Goldust and Stardust are just undercard scrubs now. Again.

Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Ryback vs. Seth Rollins, Big Show, Kane:

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’m not going to stop begging for the retirement of Big Show and Kane, or at least one of them and using the other in a geek role. I almost wish JBL was still out there to scream “He hears voices, Maggle!” Did anyone NOT see Reigns being the other partner coming? Kane and Ryback start. Slugfest until Ryback takes him down with a spine-buster. The heels gather on the floor, so Reigns goes flying over the top rope with a suicide dive! We return from a commercial break (at almost 11 p.m.), with Kane getting worked over. Orton and Rollins in, with Orton getting stomped down. Whip across the ring, and Orton comes back with a clothesline. Rollins with his signature enziguri for two. Show tags in, and you can hear the crowd groan. “Please retire” chant. THANK YOU, Raw-After-Mania smart-crowd. Kane with a snapmare and basement dropkick for two. Orton fights back, but runs into a boot. The crowd does the wave, because they hate 2/3 of each team. Ryback vs. Rollins should just work the whole match. At least they acknowledge it. Rollins eggs them on to continue, and did Rollins crotch chop them for a CM Punk chant? I couldn’t hear. They fight on the top rope until Orton takes him down with a super-plex. “Hot” tag to Reigns, and he quickly takes Kane down with a Samoan drop. Reigns with a flurry of clotheslines in the corner. Big Show interrupts the Superman Punch, but Reigns hits Kane with it anyway. Spear to Reigns. Ryback with the Shell-Shock on Show! Curb Stomp on Ryback! Rollins avoids the spear and runs. Orton RKO’s Kane, and the Spear finishes at 12:59. *1/2 Felt like the dark match after the show where the heels do a boring beatdown to create heat, and then everyone hits the big moves before the finish. The hostile crowd doesn’t help in this case.

- Courtesy of the WWE Network, we have an EXCLUSIVE interview with the Icon, the Legend, the Vigilante, STING. Renee Young is in the ring, and damn, I thought it would be a taped “Studio” interview, not live. He puts over the crowd and the feeling of competing at a WrestleMania. Young asks him about the future, and the crowd chants “Undertaker.” His “I don’t know” response is probably a shoot. They need to commit to something now and just let it simmer. Suddenly, BO DALLAS interrupts. Dallas tells him to Bo-lieve, so Sting hits him with the Scorpion Death Drop. Damn, I was hoping for an Undertaker appearance.

Final Thoughts: As expected, a strong episode of Monday Night Raw, highlighted by the chaos at the hands of Brock Lesnar. There’s a few quality matches that were given time, we saw new faces from NXT in the form of Kalisto and Neville, and every segment had a purpose. You could say the quality of Byron Saxton’s solo commentary took away from the show, but he’s selling the fact he’s out there, unprepared, and in damage control, so I didn’t expect anyone to start no-selling what just happened and call the show like nothing happened. What this means for Brock Lesnar is unclear, but it should be interesting to see where we go from here. After a LONG WrestleMania Sunday and another 3-hours for Monday Night Raw, I’m tuckered out.

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