WWE Raw Recap – 29th June, 2015

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We opened unconventionally this week. Whilst Seth Rollins and his Authority cronies kicked things off as usual , this one had a different flavour. Rollins wanted to express his appreciation to Kane and J&J for their loyalty and went full-on Oprah, giving the crew Apple Watches, sending Kane on a trip to Hawaii (illustrated by a cheap picture, girls in grass skirts and various other stereotypes) and buying J&J a shiny new Cadillac. On the one hand, I could appreciate some of the charms of this demented opening gambit, but on the other I found it cringeworthy and tainted by blatant product placement. It also seemingly went on forever, to the point where I was pleading for some actual wrestling to happen.

Then Big Show came out. Fucking sigh. Then Mark Henry made his way out. Double fucking sigh. It was pretty uninvolving. Luckily, it was over pretty quickly. Big Show knocked Henry out (remember when they were friends?) and got the pin. Ryback came out because of his rubbish feud with Big Show. The Miz came off commentary to boot Ryback in the face and run away, leading to Ryback wanting to advance their match scheduled for later in the night. After the ad break, the two fought and Ryback destroyed him, with Miz counting himself out by running backstage. Can you tell I don’t care about the Intercontinental stuff yet?

Honorary Bella twin Alicia Fox took on Paige next. I’ve always been a Paige fan, but Fox was great. It was a solid match. Paige took a swing at the ringside Nikki Bella and Fox tried to steal a roll-up victory. Paige managed to reverse it and won. I enjoyed it, but I just don’t care about the Divas division story, so it’s hard to pay attention to anything outside of the actual fighting.

The John Cena U.S. Open Challenge returned! Hooray! Kevin Owens answered the call, seemingly wanting to have his Battleground title match early, but then refused to fight. Instead he introduced Cesaro who would be fighting in his stead whilst he took a seat on commentary. Owens was a fantastic commentator and it added a great element to a truly fantastic match. This one was definitely a match of the year candidate. The pace was fast and the exciting near falls were plentiful. Cesaro is criminally underutilised and it was awesome to see a showcase of what the Swiss superman can actually do. That’s not to discount Cena’s contribution. The guy has had a renaissance in terms of the matches he puts on and this was one of his best. I loved Cesaro’s reversal of the STF into a classic Sharpshooter. Cesaro and Cena had an epic back and forth. It looked like it was all over when Cesaro tied Cena up in a Sharpshooter for the second time, but Owens intervened, powerbombing both men, causing the match to end in a DQ. I really hope they capitalise on Cesaro now. There’s no excuse not to. Anyway, Cesaro damn near beat Cena, Owens gets heat and Cena looked strong. Brilliant match.

A par for the course 8 man tag match came next. Prime Time Players and the Lucha Dragons went up against New Day and Bo Dallas. I love that Dallas is hanging out with New Day now, it makes complete sense that they’d see eye to eye on the “power of positivity”. It was decent enough, but nothing we haven’t seen before. PTP and Lucha Dragons won convincingly.

Next was the worst segment I’d seen in a long time. Dolph Ziggler and Lana “went public” about their relationship. Ziggler and Lana announced they’re dating and Lana spoke of relief at being free of Rusev’s controlling ways. Then Rusev limped out accompanied by Summer Rae. They all had a few choice words for each other. Summer slapped Lana and the whole thing devolved into a hair-pulling catfight. I hate to sound like a stereotypical internet wrestling fan, but this little bit highlighted some of WWE’s biggest writing problems. 1) What even is Dolph Ziggler’s character any more? 2) Am I meant to be feeling sorry for Rusev? I get that Rusev was a jerk, but he’s got nothing of what he had and is on crutches. I feel sympathy for him, which I don’t think is the intention. Ziggler also threatened to injure his other leg, which isn’t particularly good guy behaviour. 3) What the hell have they done to Lana’s character? She used to be a strong independent who would sic her Bulgarian attack dog on people. Now she’s just bland, smiling arm candy and the same catfighting diva as the rest of them. None of it worked and all of it made me angry.

Neville fought Sheamus next and it acted as a nice palette cleanser after the bullshit soap opera shenanigans and the retch-inducing shilling of Terminator Genisys. It was a great match. Nothing earth-shattering but both men were on form. Sheamus walked away the victor after unleashing a Brogue Kick into Neville’s face.

King Barrett took on Jack Swagger in a rare Swagger sighting. Shame the match was booked just to give Barrett a win. Do some actual storytelling with these people, please.

Our main event was a No DQ Tag match with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose going up against Kane and Seth Rollins. This was the second best match of the night. It wasn’t nearly on the same level as Cena/Cesaro, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. I particularly enjoyed Reigns going mental with a Kendo stick and snapping it over his knee once he was done. I also liked his Superman Punching spree soon after, including one on the airborne Rollins. Bray Wyatt interrupted and victimised Reigns, slamming him on the announcers’ table and taking him out of the match. Left alone, the numbers game caught up to Ambrose and he was chokeslammed and Pedigreed into the canvas. Boom. Another Authority win. However, Rollins wasn’t done. He got J&J to prop up a table and attempted to put Ambrose through it. Reigns staged an admirable comeback and prevented it, but soon found himself flat on his back getting stomped. He then ate the table intended for Ambrose, being powerbombed into the corner. The Authority left, leaving Bray Wyatt to pick Reigns’ bones clean by hitting him with a Sister Abigail and crouching over him. Fade to black.

Pretty mediocre episode this week. It had a stunning high point in the form of Cena/Cesaro and it had a decent main event, but the rest was dire. I have a high tolerance for crap and even I wanted to switch it off at some points. One great match in a three hour show doesn’t make it worth it. Meh.

Ben Browne