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Monday Night RAW April 14, 2014

by Scrooge McSuck

ULtimate Warrior

"You Must Show No Mercy... Nor Have Any Belief Whatsoever In How Others Judge You... For Your Greatness Will Silence Them All."- Warrior

- Tonight is a very Special Edition of Monday Night Raw. If you're reading this, you're probably well aware that last Tuesday evening, Warrior suffered what is believed to be a massive heart attack and passed away at the age of 54, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters. As much flack as I've given Warrior for his in-ring abilities and occasional controversial outlook in life, I won't deny I was, and always have been, a Warrior mark. How else could you explain my willingness to recap every one of the Coliseum Videos dedicated to him, and going out of my way to buying and watching his new DVD set the day it was released? Warrior's death probably rocked me harder than any other, with maybe Randy Savage being even more devastating. I've longed confessed my love of their match at WrestleMania VII, and often cite it as my favorite match of all time. Knowing that all four people heavily involved in the match are no longer with us just breaks my heart. Tonight, WWE is presenting a Tribute to the Ultimate Warrior.

- Show opens with the entire Roster, including Vince McMahon, standing on the entrance ramp, as they pay tribute to Warrior. We get a video montage remembering Warrior, set to 7Lions "One More Time". We follow it up with a 10-Bell Salute, and THANKFULLY the entire crowd honors it, all while sporting Warrior face-paint masks.

Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio:

This is an opening round match in a Tournament to decide the #1 Contender for the Intercontinental Championship. Previous top contender Christian is out with, yup, another injury, so we're having an 8-Man Tournament to fill the void (other matches: Cesaro/Henry, Sheamus/Swagger, and Ziggler/Barrett). I love tournaments, but MAKE THE TITLE FEEL IMPORTANT ON A REGULAR BASIS. 8 months ago, this was a big program over the World Heavyweight Title. Now we're wasting Del Rio in a borderline-JTTS role, and RVD is RVD. Standard formula between the two. RVD makes sure to work in all his signature spots, while Del Rio is kind of phoning it in. I would be too when RVD only cares about his 4-5 spots and nothing else. Does anyone else hate his stupid leg sweep roll up more than me? HOW IS THAT SUPPOSED TO HOLD SOMEONE'S SHOULDERS DOWN!? Uninspired finish has RVD put away Del Rio with relative ease with the 5-Star Frog Splash at the 8:00 mark (including a commercial break). *1/2 I obviously wasn't feeling this, but as long as RVD puts Cesaro over good in the Semi's, I'm fine.

- Ultimate Moment: From SummerSlam 1988, Warrior obliterates the Honkytonk Man in 30-seconds to end his 14-month long reign as Intercontinental Champion. Watch the crowd: I've never seen one collection of fans go THAT nuts for a pinfall. I dare you to find something else to challenge, it's practically untouchable. THAT'S how much people hated the Honkytonk Man (in a "I want to spend my money to watch him get his ass kicked" way).

- Some dork and his momma (did Brodus Clay call her?) are at a Toys R Us, promoting the WWE line of action figures and a stupid Instragram contest. On a personal note, my local Toys R Us was shut down lately. I remember going to this one back when I was 6, so it's kind of part of my childhood dying. Considering the lack of business year round with the exception of Christmas, I'm surprised it took so long.

Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. RybAxel:

Yes, I'm conforming and calling them RybAxel on a regular basis. I didn't notice until this week that they remixed the Ryback and Axel's themes into a combo like they did Goldust and Cody. I still love the homage to Mr. Perfect's theme, even if his son is Mr. Average. Whoever is calling "Oculus" one of the best horror movies in years must be smoking some serious crack. How WWE killed the moment of the Brothers Rhodes is beyond me. Cole manages to work in his "jockey for position" reference in regards to the Tag Team ranks. Fairly average match, with Goldust working as the face-in-peril. Cody gets the big hot tag, but his Disaster Kick is countered by Ryback with the Meathook Clothesline, and that's all it takes at around the 6:00 mark. ** I'm surprised Cody jobbed to a secondary move like that, but it looked good. Paint by Numbers, but watchable.

- Bo Dallas Vignette. Are you a Boliever?

Paige (Diva's Champion) vs. Alicia Fox:

This is a Non-Title Match, since Fox hasn't won a singles match in about two years. We replay last weeks shocking turn of events where Paige upset A.J. Lee for the Diva's Championship in an impromptu match... sorry, it did nothing for me. Paige deserved a better debut, but she ended up looking awkward on the mic' and sloppy blowing her finisher. Blink and you'll miss this one, as Paige retains by tap out to that sweet Crossover Sharpshooter at around the 3:00 mark. Vince must be in JBL's ear, making sure to note Paige ::gasp:: is pale! Because tans are beautiful, right? I think she's sexy, so whatever. Grow up. 1/2* Not much to see here, but Paige looked a lot better this week.

The Usos (Tag Team Champions) vs. Randy Orton & Batista:

Another Non-Title Match, stemming from last weeks "match" where Orton and Batista brutalized the Usos for their failures in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match at WrestleMania XXX. In the dark lights, I thought the Uso's had Warrior logos painted on their chests, but it turns out to be t-shirts. Would've been cool if they did face-paint Warrior style. The Uso's attack early, knocking Bootista and Orton to the floor, then following with a double no-hands plancha. I'm still amazed that an internet meme like "Bootista" got over and became a regular thing chanted by the live audience. Short match, with Orton and Batista dominating the majority of it until out of nowhere it's the Shield to bring things to a halt at roughly the 5-minute mark. * Not much of a match. They wipe out Orton, surround Batista in the ring, and Reigns knocks him senseless with the Superman Punch. Shield vs. Evolution at Extreme Rules? I'm all for it.

Ultimate Moment: WrestleMania VI and the Ultimate Challenge. Champion vs. Champion, Title for Title. The first WrestleMania Main Event that not only had a big match feel (that goes to Andre/Hogan), but delivered a very satisfying performance, too. I'll always look back on this moment as the only time I hated Warrior (in character), because I was always a Hulkamaniac first, Warrior second. An iconic match made more memorable with great commentary by Gorilla and Ventura, treating it as a once in a life time spectacle.

Mark Henry vs. Cesaro (w/ Paul Heyman):

I'm pretty sure that Cesaro is walking away the #1 Contender of this Tournament, but we'll suspend disbelief for a while. Heyman cuts a pre-match promo reminding us that his client, Brock Lesnar, conquered the Streak. Heyman trolling the fans is always a site to behold. No theme music for Cesaro... I guess Swagger keeps the awesome Real Americans theme in the divorce. Henry threatens to split Heyman's wig. They fight over a lockup until Henry tosses Cesaro across the ring. Cesaro unloads with uppercuts and forearms. Henry shoves him away, and Cesaro keeps coming with more. Henry hits a desperation clothesline, but still selling the effects of the beating he just took. Henry goes for the World's Strongest Slam, but Cesaro counters and comes off the second rope with a twisting elbow. The Neutralizer finishes things at the 4-minute mark. * Just a squash match for Cesaro, and impressive looking, too. Hopefully this "Heyman Guy" goes further than Curtis Axel and Ryback... I feel dirty just lumping Cesaro into that same category.

- WWE commercial sucking up to the fans. You just want to get on our good side for when you decide to put the belt on Batista by July 1st. WE'RE WISE TO YOUR SNEAKY ACTS!

- Triple H and Stephanie boss around Brad Maddox... he's STILL "General Manager" or whatever? They want the Shield in the Main Event, but don't tell us their opponents. Jerk.

Xavier Woods (w/ R-Truth) vs. Alexander Rusev (w/ Lana):

Someone tell Woods to hit the one in the middle! Yes, I'm going to work in a Rocky IV reference at least once per recap featuring Rusev. The fans give a healthy "What" chant to everything Lana says. That's always a good sign. Wasn't Woods supposed to be getting a decent push a few months ago? He's basically as low on the card as Zack Ryder, if not worse. He catches a kick and unloads with knees to the midsection. Roundhouse kick, uranage slam, and the Accolade finishes Woods in less than a minute. R-Truth makes the save after refusing to throw in the towel to stop the fight. Lana unleashes him to knock his block off. I smell a match on Main Event. No Rating. It was 4-moves. I honestly don't see Rusev ending up any better than Lord Tensai's original push. His lack of personality will probably lead to a comedy gimmick in a year, like "Boring" Lance Storm or "Boring" Vladimir Koslov.

- Ultimate Moment: From the 1990 SummerSlam, the Ultimate Warrior successfully defends the WWF Championship against "Ravishing" Rick Rude inside of a Steel Cage. Warrior's only successful title defense on Pay-Per-View.

Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger (w/ Zeb Colter):

If there's anyone in desperate need of a heel turn, it's Sheamus. Have I mentioned yet how tedious it can be sitting through a three hour Raw? And I'm only halfway through. This is an endurance. How can anyone do this every week?! My money is on a Sheamus vs. Cesaro finals, for the record. Slobberknocker to start, with Sheamus gaining the upperhand. Colter with a distraction, allowing Swagger to plant Sheamus on the floor with a powerslam. For the third time tonight, we watch Big E. watching Raw. Shouldn't he be working out or eating a large amount of pasta? Belly-to-belly suplex gets two. Short-arm clothesline for two. Sheamus "creates seperation" with a clothesline... what, Michael Cole said it! Now he's "building momentum", and no I'm not kidding. Snapmare, kick to the spine, and knee drop gets two. Sheamus with his clubbing forearms, followed by a diving shoulder from the top rope for two. Swagger side-steps a slingshot and slaps on the Patriot Lock. Sheamus kicks himself free, but a shoulder tackle sends him to the floor. Swagger follows and rams the leg into the steps. Back inside, Brogue Kick from out of nowhere, and Sheamus advances at the 7:00 mark. **1/2 Good match, but a bit too short to really get going. Swagger was allowed to look good, but he really could've done for an early round victory and maybe losing the Semi's. So Sheamus faces the winner of ZIGGLER vs. Barrett. Jeez, who's winning that one?

- Adam Rose is bringing his Party Bus, the Exotic Express, with him wherever he goes. Same vignette we saw last week, including a midget and a person in a bunny suit. I haven't seen the character in NXT, but I've heard good things about it.

- Warrior Week, a 4-Part Special Presentation, begins tomorrow night at 10 p.m. on the WWE Network. I'm there.

Big Show vs. Damian Sandow:

I have a feeling this is going to be really quick. Sandow continues cutting a promo throughout Show's entrance. At least I don't have to hear his shitty theme music right now. It's a pretty good promo to troll the crowd. It's unfortunate he's the heel equivalent of Dolph Ziggler: a pretty solid worker who's been buried for months, with no end in site. He makes the mistake of sticking Show with his finger. Show hits him with the Knockout Punch, so I guess it's no match? There's a referee in the ring, but the bell never rang.

- Tomorrow night on the WWE Network, we'll see Big Show vs. Jack Swagger on Main Event.

- Suddenly the lights go out, and we're creeped out by the appearance of the Wyatt Family. "We're next" as we cut to a commercial break. We're in Brimingham, AL I guess, because Wyatt plays to the crowd now like he's a babyface. They also clap along with his theme music. He's still on a mission to besmirch the name of John Cena. Cena comes out to "lighten up the mood." He makes a dated "MySpace" reference and plays "photoshop fun." I hope Cena gets slaughtered for not only being stupid, but for trying to be funny. Fake laughs from Michael Cole = Uncomfortable. They get serious, making me question "what the fuck was the point of that?", with the answer being "no point." Cena wants Wyatt inside a Steel Cage at Extreme Rules.

Santino Marella & Emma vs. Fandango & Layla:

Yes, you read that correct: Fandango dumped Summer Rae via Twitter, and introduced Layla as his new partner on Smackdown. Apparently Layla smells like "Cinnamon Toast Crunch." I know it's not the first time it happened, but using TWITTER to advance a character is killing the child inside of me. It takes about a minute for Santino to whip out the Cobra, so Fandango tags out. Same formula as last week's match. Emma avoids a charge and slaps on the Tarantula... er... Dillemma, sorry. Emma hangs around on the second rope for what feels like an eternity, allowing Layla to trip her up and cover for three at around the 2-minute mark. REALLY?! -* For taking 30-seconds to set up a shitty finishing spot.

- Stephanie chews out Kane for not doing what's Best for Business. She pulls a Vince and gives a solid "SHUT UP!" to cut off his excuses. Hell of a motivational speech, if you're encouraging someone to become a serial killer. Oh yeah, the mask is still there... will we get the return of the Mask!? Jim Carrey says no, but Kane says yes.

- Bolieve!

- We replay Warrior's appearance on last week's episode of Monday Night Raw. The timing of everything really makes what he says seem all the more powerful. It's nothing out of the normal of a "Warrior promo", but because of his untimely death no more than 24 hours later, the words and its message have so much more meaning. It honestly brings a tear to my eye hearing it, knowing this was his last message to the fans, and there couldn't be a better way to remember someone. We don't remember Warrior for his controversial beliefs, we remember him thanking the crowd for making the Warrior a legend passed on through the years, keeping his spirit alive through all the negativity, and having the power to keep making more legends.

Dolph Ziggler vs. "Bad News" Barrett:

Final Match of the Opening Round of the Intercontinental Championship #1 Contender's Tournament. My GOD, is that a mouthful to type. I know, that doesn't make sense. Mild "Bad News Barrett" chant as Ziggler wrestles him down with a waist-lock. Barrett plays to the crowd to get a "Bad News" chant going. He puts the boots to Ziggler and takes him over with a snap suplex for a two count. He misses a knee drop, giving Ziggler an opening to mount a comeback. It doesn't last long. Ziggler with a dropkick, followed by a clothesline, taking them both to the floor. Ziggler gets launched face-first into the post as we take a commercial break. We come back with the crowd chanting "CM Punk"... so I'm guessing the match has been sucking during the break. Ziggler with mounted punches and a twisting neck breaker for two. Barrett avoids a Fame-Asser and plants Dolph with the Wasteland, but it only gets two. Ziggler counters a Pumphandle Slam and hits the Fame-Asser, but that gets two. Dolph misses a dive to the corner, no doubt inspired by Koko B. Ware. Barrett plays to the crowd and pays for it. Ziggler goes for a Super-Plex, but Barrett fights him down. Ziggler runs back up and hits an X-Factor for two. Barrett shrugs off a Zig-Zag, and hits the Winds of Change (spinning sidewalk slam) for two! Ziggler counters a Bull Hammer with a roll up for two. Bull Hammer hits on the second try, and it's over at the 12-minute mark. **1/4 They brought it back from the dead with a solid finishing sequence, but I expected better for the time they got. He has Bad News: He's going to be the next Intercontinental Champion... wait, that's GOOD news to me.

Semi-Finals look like this: Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam, and Sheamus vs. Bad News Barrett. Could be two really good matches. I'm still looking at Cesaro over Sheamus in the Finals.

- Oh, and Daniel Bryan is away for the week on Honeymoon with his new bride, Brie Bella.

- Oh, and here's a Kane vignette, because in the HOUR since the pep-talk, they put together a hype video of Kane as a destructive, masked monster. Masked Kane vs. Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules? I'm there. I like how the video is him mostly torturing Zack Ryder. I find great pleasure in the fanboys getting so butt-hurt over it. I should note it's now 10:55, and we still have a "Main Event" featuring the Shield to come. We all know it's not going to be a real match, but damn that's cutting it close.

- Sheamus vs. Batista is YOUR Main Event on Friday Night Smackdown. I won't be home to watch it, but I'm sure it'll be a 5-star classic.

The Shield vs. Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, Fandango, Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre, Titus O'Neil, Ryback, Curtis Axel, Alexander Rusev, Bad News Barrett:

So the entire heel locker room is involved, but the Shield have a lot of experience in extreme Handicap Matches. Heath Slater gets thrown to the wolves comically, but the referee forces them to leave him be until the bell rings, proper. Rollins starts with Slater, and quickly traps him in their corner for a beatdown. Ambrose and Reigns get their licks in as Slater continues to take a pounding. Rollins interrupts a tag attempt with an enziguri. Barrett makes the save, so here's Ambrose to pick a fight with everyone. Rollins gets trapped in the wrong corner and pounded on by McIntyre. Titus with a back breaker and throw. Rusev tags in, looking completely out of place, all things considered with his character. Why put him out there? Reigns lays out Ryback with a Spear, and Ambrose dives onto the pile! We call for the bell at the 4-minute mark. Rollins with a somersault senton onto the pile! The Shield regroup on the ring and stand their ground! They keep things at bay for as along as they can until the numbers game finally becomes too much. Watching Ambrose fight with extreme desperation is one of those little things that stands out.

The Evolution theme music plays (making it three now for Triple H), and out comes Hunter, Orton, and Batista. I think we all knew this week would end with them picking up the remains of the Shield, in cheap, dastardly heel fashion. Reigns tries and fights off all three, but an RKO ends that rally. Batista pulls him off the canvas, only to put him back down with the Batista-Bomb. Ambrose is doing his best impression of CM Punk from the 2014 Royal Rumble while Rollins eats an RKO. Crowd chants "YES", but Bryan ain't here. Ambrose tries to save Rollins, but he's easy pickings. Batista-Bomb for Rollins. Batista-Bomb/RKO Combo on Ambrose to really add the exclamation point. Reigns tries pulling himself up from the wreckage, only to take a Pedigree to end the massacre. THAT is how you not only make the babyfaces look strong, but get the heels over without making them "cool" or "hip" or whatever way there is to try and upstage the faces.

Final Thoughts: That was one heck of a way to end Raw. As corny as it seemed to send out 11 midcarders to destroy the Shield, it put over how strong the Shield is, yet they are vulnerable in the face of adversity. Then the "reunion" of Evolution and putting the finishing touches on their already mangled bodies was a great example of douchey heel activities. The rest of Raw was hit and miss. I honestly expected more of a tribute for Warrior as they constantly hyped it on their website, but I'm glad it didn't turn out to be a three hour long eulogy. The first round of the Intercontinental Title Contenders Tournament brought mixed results, and there was a lot of filler in between. A strong finish saved an otherwise mediocre three hours of rasslin'.

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