This going up on Wednesday instead of the usual Tuesday because I was flying home on Tuesday after four days in St. Louis, which included watching my beloved Rams blow a lead on Monday Night Football like they usually do. It’s nice to be back home and of course the Raw Deal will be posted on Tuesdays going forward.
Live from Atlanta, Georgia this is the Raw Deal for episode #1116. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
There was a video package highlighting events from last week.
Dean Ambrose entered the ring rocking his “Unstable” shirt. That’s better than wearing a tank top. Cash in bro. Sell that merch. He said there’s nothing he would like more than to be locked inside Hell in a Cell with Seth Rollins so that Rollins has nowhere to run. Ambrose added that he was stressed out about the 15 time WWE Champion that was standing in his way as he mentioned that he has to get through John Cena first. Ambrose added that The Authority wanted Ambrose and Cena to tear each other apart to make them weak before facing Rollins. Ambrose said he was going to beat Cena and there was nothing Cena could do about it, so of course Cena’s music started up.
John Cena made his entrance to talk to Ambrose in the ring. Cena told him to relax because their match is in two weeks at Hell in a Cell. He added that it’s obviously a match that the WWE Universe wants to see. Cena gave Ambrose some veteran advice by telling Ambrose to get ready for the biggest match of his career in two weeks. Ambrose thanked Cena for the veteran advice and said he’s been ready to whip Cena’s ass for years. Cena said if Ambrose tried to drop him, he will see why Cena has been to the mountaintop 15 times. Cena: “Pipe down and use your time to get ready.” He was cut off by some familiar music.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon showed up on the top of the ramp. Hunter told them they had two weeks until Hell in a Cell. He included a $9.99 plug with the crowd when talking about the PPV. Stephanie suggested Cena/Ambrose team up together while Hunter said they were going to fight each other. Hunter bet her, so they shook on her. Stephanie booked them in a triple threat tag team match: Cena/Ambrose vs. The Usos vs. the Tag Team Champions Goldust/Stardust in a non-title match.
Analysis: It was a very average show opening promo. Ambrose wasn’t as interesting as he usually is although he’s showing the right type of confidence that a top babyface should. Cena telling him to take things seriously is typical of a Cena promo. A match being made after a promo is what happens nearly every week. It’s an example of how stale WWE booking is.
The other two teams entered for the tag match as the show went to break. The Usos didn’t get their traditional entrance with the chanting that they do.
Dean Ambrose & John Cena vs. The Usos vs. Goldust/Stardust
As mentioned, the tag titles held by Goldust/Stardust are not on the line. Two guys are in the match while the other four are on the apron. Lots of quick tags early on and a cool spot with Jey hitting a superkick on Cena for a two count. There were the dueling “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” chants as Cena hit a dropkick on Jimmy, but then Jimmy nailed him with a Samoan Drop. The fans were chanting “we want Stardust” as Jimmy had Cena in an armbar. After Jimmy missed a corner charge, Ambrose received the hot tag. Ambrose did his bounce off the ropes clothesline to a big pop. Stardust pulled Jimmy out of the ring and then tossed him over the barricade, which led to cheers. That led to the break.
The heels were working over Jimmy in their corner for the extended babyface in peril sequence. It went on for several minutes. Jimmy created some space with some kicks on the heels. Goldust yanked Jey off the apron and Ambrose nailed Goldust. Cena received the tag from Jimmy, which really doesn’t make sense although the idea is that Jimmy was in trouble, so he needed to get out of there. Cena was on fire, so he hit the usual: shoulderblocks, spinning suplex, Five Knuckle Shuffle and Attitude Adjustment, but Stardust landed on his feet. Goldust hit a powerslam on Cena. The Usos hit dives over the top on Goldust/Stardust outside the ring. Cena went to the top and hit a cross body block to take down those four guys. Then Ambrose jumped off the top to take out all five guys. Back in the ring, Ambrose hit the Double Arm DDT (now known as Dirty Deeds) on Goldust and Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on Stardust for the win. The match went 15 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Dean Ambrose & John Cena
Analysis: **1/2 It was a good tag match that was given a decent amount of time for a TV tag match. I’ve never been a huge fan of top singles guys as babyface wrestlers that get wins over permanent tag teams. Then again, this is WWE. They absolutely love seeing champions lose non-title matches. It doesn’t mean Ambrose & Cena are going to get a tag title match. It was just WWE’s way of giving Ambrose & Cena momentum heading into their big match.
Post match, Hunter and Stephanie showed up on the stage again. Hunter paid up for their bet and gave her one dollar, which was their bet. Hunter announced that they shouldn’t wait until Hell in a Cell. He suggested they hang a contract on a pole in the corner in a No Holds Barred match and he told them to tear each other apart. He announced the match would take place tonight.
Analysis: That’s typical of WWE booking of late where they change plans on the fly. It’s not a bad idea because having Cena/Ambrose work twice on Hell in a Cell isn’t that necessary when they could just do it on Raw. It’s the right move.
The announce team of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield went over other things to take place on the show including Rusev vs. Big Show.
The Divas Champion AJ Lee entered the ring for a match.
AJ Lee & Layla vs. Paige & Alicia Fox
Since AJ has had trouble finding a partner, she teams with Layla, who is a heel. Spin kick by Paige on Fox, but then Fox hit a backbreaker and brought in Paige. AJ chased Paige out of the ring and she brought in Fox again while the crowd was completely dead for this. When AJ looked to make a tag, Layla walked off the apron. Fox went for a rollup, but AJ held on and hit a Shining Wizard for the pin. Where was Paige? She was comically falling into the ring. The match went two minutes.
Winners by pinfall: AJ Lee & Layla
Post match, AJ ran after Layla and tossed her face first into the ramp. Then she threw Layla into the barricade two times.
Analysis: 1/2* The bizarre booking of AJ Lee continues while the never-ending feud with Paige continues. They’re doing the story where AJ has no friends, but she finds a way to win. They are not booking her like a face in a traditional way.
Coming up is Big Show vs. Rusev and Cena vs. Ambrose.
Randy Orton showed up in the office of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. He complained to them about Seth Rollins. He talked about Cena and Ambrose. He wants a match at Hell in a Cell, so it’s either Orton vs. Cena in the main event at Hell in a Cell or Orton vs. Ambrose in the main event of Hell in a Cell. Hunter said that’s fine with him. Orton left.
Analysis: They didn’t say Orton gets the loser, but that’s really what it is. Also, it’s unlikely that the loser of Cena/Ambrose would be in the PPV main event. Orton complaining about Rollins constantly is likely a setup for Orton’s face turn too. I like him better as a heel, but it looks like that rumored face turn is coming.
There was a video package about Erick Rowan of the Wyatt Family with Bray Wyatt talking about how only the strong survive. He said “they” took his (Rowan) innocence. Wyatt said he fixed Rowan, which led to Rowan said “I will hurt you just like you hurt me.” Wyatt ended up by saying they will feel the smoke of his burning.
Analysis: They haven’t been in matches for a few weeks, but the videos are designed to give them a bit of a reboot.
The IC Champ Dolph Ziggler entered for a match.
Cesaro was on commentary for the next match. He went from losing the US Title feud to getting an IC Title feud.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton
This is not for Ziggler’s IC Title, so that should tell you he’s losing. Cesaro said that Ziggler owed him a rematch. Early on, Orton hit a back suplex to slow things down. Ziggler came back with a dropkick for two. Orton backed down, then sent Ziggler face first into the middle turnbuckle. The crowd was pretty dead, but Orton did his signature arms extended pose, so they cheered that. The action spilled to the floor, which led to Ziggler sending Orton into the barricade at ringside. Back in the ring, Orton sent Ziggler shoulder first into the steel post. Ziggler countered the DDT off the ropes with a back body drop and then a dropkick sent Orton outside the ring. With Orton outside the ring, Rollins showed up with the Money in the Bank briefcase for the vintage floor to commercial break.
During the break, Orton took control of the action. Orton gave Ziggler a slingshot into the turnbuckle, which Ziggler sold better than anybody. They had a long battle on the turnbuckle, which ended with Orton hitting an excellent superplex like he usually does for a count of two. Ziggler made a comeback with a Stinger Splash as well as a neckbreaker and then an elbow drop for two. Orton with a powerslam as the nearfall-fest continues. Orton hit his draping DDT off the middle rope and then posed to cheers from the fans. Ziggler rollup for two. Orton ducked out of the way of a Fameasser, but Ziggler hit a Superkick for two. Fans were chanting “This is awesome” for them. Ziggler charged in with a Fameasser, Orton caught him in a Powerbomb position, he tossed Ziggler in the air and Orton hit the RKO for the finish. Wow. That was special. Orton covered for the win after 19 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Randy Orton
Analysis: ***1/2 That was an excellent match, especially for Raw. They were given nearly 20 minutes, told a good story and Orton won as we expected him to. Ziggler came very close a few times. That version of the RKO was something we haven’t really seen before. Ziggler sold it perfectly, which isn’t a surprise. The replays of the move were even more impressive. Also, Orton is playing to the fans a lot more. The face turn is happening for him. Ziggler losing a non-title match doesn’t really help him as the IC Champ, but Orton’s on a level above him, so it’s no surprise that Orton got the win. If you don’t watch the show every week that’s fine. However, try to watch the last five minutes because it was really good.
After the match was over, Rollins went in the ring and looked at Ziggler. With Ziggler struggling to get to his feet, Rollins hit a Curb Stomp on him. Orton just looked at Rollins with an angry look on his face.
Analysis: The story they will use is that Orton is tired of dealing with Rollins and that’s going to lead to the Orton face turn within a few months.
When advertising Cena vs. Ambrose, they kept saying “the other guy” gets Randy Orton because they didn’t want to call them a loser even though that’s what that person is. There’s a winner and a loser. It’s a case of WWE not wanting to saying Orton is facing a loser of a match as a consolation prize.
The announcers plugged Steve Austin’s podcast, which gets people excited that Austin may be working with WWE in some capacity in the future. I sure hope so.
Seth Rollins vs. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter)
It looks like Jack Swagger got a haircut. It’s simple, like his t-shirt with a hand on it. Cole kept on wondering why Rollins attacked Ziggler. It was because he’s a heel. They are jerks. Can we get announcers that act like they have actually watched wrestling? It would be nice. Rollins used his speed to avoid some of Swagger’s offense and did some classic heel stalling. Rollins got control after working on the left arm of Swagger. He tossed Swagger’s left arm into the turnbuckle. Belly to belly by Swagger, but Rollins rolled out to the floor to avoid a Swagger Bomb. Swagger did a good job of being aggressive by hitting a clothesline outside the ring. Randy Orton slowly walked towards the ring, which distracted Swagger and then Rollins hit a dive between the top/middle rope. Commercial time.
Back in the ring, Rollins nailed a jumping kick to the head. Rollins applied another armbar, which would be more effective if he had an arm submission move. Nice German Suplex variation by Swagger for a nearfall. Swagger made the comeback after Rollins did the upside down flip in the corner and then Swagger hit a Swagger Bomb out of the corner for two. A Spinebuster by Swagger earned a good nearfall for him. Rollins avoided the Patriot Lock and then hit a standing side kick to the head. After Rollins missed the Curb Stomp, Swagger applied the Patriot Lock although Rollins fought out quickly. With Swagger going for a power move, Rollins did a forward roll into a pin, grabbed the tights and got the win after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Seth Rollins
Analysis: **3/4 It was a solid match although it was too slow at times. It felt like they were told to go a little longer, so that’s why there were dead spots. Rollins is one of the best workers in WWE and Swagger is pretty good too. Something I noticed was Swagger completely stopped selling the arm injury even though Rollins worked on it for about seven minutes. Rollins getting the win isn’t a surprise since he is being pushed as the top heel. The finish was a little weak.
Post match, Orton slithered into the ring, told Rollins to watch this and he dropped Swagger with a RKO. Then Orton got in the face of Rollins. Orton’s music played briefly as Rollins got right in Orton’s face. They argued, but didn’t fight.
Analysis: That face turn for Orton is coming soon. They really accelerated it during this show with the backstage segment, then with Orton playing to the crowd during his match and then getting in Rollins’ face. While I’m not thrilled with Orton as a face again, they are building it up the right way.
Cena vs. Ambrose later.
The announcers plugged WWE Network.
The lovely Renee Young was interviewed by Dean Ambrose. She wondered what we can expect from Ambrose. He said he’s not a nice guy and he gets to put John Cena in his place two weeks later. Ambrose said he’s going to send Rollins to hell. He added that Cena and Rollins are both on their way to the highway to hell.
Analysis: It was a basic promo from Ambrose.
Big Show was interviewed in the locker room by Tom Phillips. Show mentioned that he knocked out Rusev and he proved that Rusev isn’t believable. He said he was going to shatter Rusev’s jaw. Show said no offense to Mark Henry, but he’s okay if they put the weight of America on his shoulders.
Analysis: Show showed a lot of confidence. I always like him better as a heel, but he’s the right kind of opponent for Rusev because he has credibility.
Rusev entered the arena along with the ravishing Russian Lana.
Lana did a pre-match promo noting that it was Columbus Day and that Columbus was just an egomaniac that got lost when he discovered America. She managed to rip on the local fans by mentioning people will lose their money faster than the Atlanta Braves will lose their baseball games. Rusev said Big Show’s actions will have consequences and he will be crushed.
Big Show vs. Rusev (w/Lana)
Show was really aggressive right away with “USA” chants from the crowd supporting him. He nailed Rusev with some big chops and then sent him into the barricade at ringside. Show sent him into another barricade. The announcers sure love driving home that “318 Million Americans” number. In the ring, Show hit a huge elbow and Rusev did a good job of selling that. The fans did an Atlanta Braves-like tomahawk chop chant, so Show did the chop before hitting a huge chop to the chest. Show ran the ropes, but Rusev came back with a dropkick. Very impressive by Rusev. Rusev nailed Show with a clothesline over the top to set up the vintage floor to commercial break.
Rusev was still in control as they returned from break. It was chinlock time. Show broke free with an elbow, then went to the middle rope, took too long and missed an elbow drop. After another Rusev chinlock, Show hit a body slam. Rusev kicked Show in the ribs, which knocked Show down and Show applied the Accolade. Mark Henry showed up to cheer on his friend Big Show. Henry jumped on the apron, so Rusev nailed him with a forearm. Rusev applied the Accolade again, so Henry nailed Rusev with a clothesline, which led to the DQ finish. The match went 14 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Rusev
Analysis: ** It was a very slow and plodding big man match. Rusev impressed me with his dropkick as well as his selling ability, but those chinlocks were putting me to sleep. Show did okay during his comebacks. The finish was weak because it was as if the American guys were the heels.
Post match, Henry talked with Show. It looked like Show was disappointed that Henry interfered in things. The giant Russian flag appeared in the ring with Show and Henry inside of it. Henry and Show cornered Rusev outside the ring. Show ended up knocking out Rusev with the KO Punch. Henry helped Show backstage.
Analysis: All of this is likely going to lead to Henry turning heel. Show will face Rusev again, Henry will probably cost him, Show will blame Henry and then Henry will turn heel because Show made him feel like a loser.
Cena vs. Ambrose in a Contract on a Pole match is up later.
Sheamus was walking backstage as Renee Young showed up to interview him. He said The Miz and Mizdow are like a bad rash that won’t go away.
The announcers plugged the Chrisley Knows Best TV show. I’ve never seen it. I have no idea if it’s even on TV in Canada and if it is, I have no interest. Todd Chrisley and his children were at ringside. They were there because the next season starts on USA Network. Tom Phillips interviewed Chrisley, who said his son Grayson watched WWE all the time and met a lot of people.
Analysis: I’m okay with a “celebrity” being used that way. It only takes two minutes to plug a show and do a short interview.
Sheamus vs. The Miz (w/Damien Mizdow)
This is not for Sheamus’ US Title. Once again, Mizdow is imitating Miz moves. He’s awesome. Sheamus hit a back elbow while I laugh at how hilarious Mizdow is. At one point, Sheamus was grabbing the jaw of Miz, so Mizdow was grabbing his own beard. Watching Mizdow punching air is terrific. The crowd was cheering Mizdow’s actions. Miz got some kicks to the face for a nearfall. There was a “we want Sandow” chant. With Miz applying a chinlock, Mizdow was applying a chinlock to some air outside the ring. Sheamus came back with forearms and a running knee lift, but Sheamus missed a corner attack leading to a snap DDT from Miz. Sheamus caught the leg of Miz, then sent him to the floor. Sandow then fell on the floor by Miz and he was grabbing his own knee. Sheamus went after them. Miz went under the ring. Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick on Mizdow. With Sheamus looking under the ring, Miz popped up on the other side while the ref counted to ten and Sheamus suffered a countout loss after six minutes.
Winner via countout: The Miz
Post match, The Miz ran up the aisle to get away from Sheamus with Mizdow slowly making his way up there too.
Analysis: *1/2 This was below average. Miz doesn’t have much heat anymore since everybody seems to be paying attention to Misdow more than him. As I’ve said for a few weeks now, Mizdow is going to be big babyface when this angle is over. The win will give Miz a US Title shot at Sheamus. As I have also said in recent weeks, it’s lame that Miz went from IC to US Title contender while Cesaro went from US Title to IC Title contender even after they lost PPV matches.
The divas went up to Nene Leakes backstage. No idea who she is. She had a bad acting segment with Cameron.
Another reminder of Cena vs. Ambrose.
It’s a six diva tag with Nikki Bella, Summer Rae and Cameron in the ring. The face team is Natalya, Brie Bella, Naomi and Rosa Mendes outside the ring. I guess Eva Marie was too busy doing nothing. They introduced “clothing designer, actress and reality star” Nene Leakes. Once again I have no idea who she is. Cole listed her accomplishments, but I really don’t care and due to the lukewarm reaction, the fans agree.
Natalya, Brie Bella & Naomi (w/Rosa Mendes) vs. Nikki Bella, Summer Rae & Cameron
The heels worked over Natalya as the announcers went over all the Total Divas storylines. Summer missed a leg drop and Brie got the hot tag. Dropkick by Brie, who hit a running knee for two. Cameron sent Naomi outside the ring, then Natalya took Cameron outside the ring. Nikki tagged herself in so she could face off with Brie. They had a brief face off with Brie countering her sister and hit a sitout facebuster (X-Factor) that is apparently called a Bella Buster. That was enough for the win after 4 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Natalya, Brie Bella & Naomi
Analysis: * Short match. Naomi didn’t even get to tag in for her team. Apparently Brie pinning Nikki in 30 seconds is revenge for everything. They announced after the show that the Bella Twins are in a singles match at Hell in a Cell. The best part of this was they played the “Total Divas” theme song instead of the brutal “Brie Mode” track. Thanks for that.
Cena vs. Ambrose coming up.
This week on Smackdown it’s Sheamus and The Usos vs. The Miz, Goldust and Stardust.
John Cena was interviewed by Renee Young. He said people are excited because they know what’s at stake. Cena mentioned the fans were chanting “Ambrose” for Dean last week. Cena put over Ambrose as the “only guy with the guts to stand face to face with John Cena.” Um, are we allowed to remember who Brock Lesnar is? Because I do. Cena said this is about toughness, guts and brains. He said that the “WWE Universe should get ready because you are about to see the brightest young star in the WWE go face to face with the man that runs the place.” He said the match was next.
Analysis: Good rhyme at the end.
There was a Bray Wyatt video with him talking about how “she” told him he was special and he would never truly be alone. She told him that he had a spirit that would guide him on this journey. Wyatt just said “it’s coming” and laughed to end the creepy video.
Analysis: More mystery as the reboot of Wyatt continues.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon walked down to ringside for the Contract on a Pole match.
The first guy out was John Cena followed by Dean Ambrose. In addition to that, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton and Kane all showed up at ringside too. Stephanie was smiling about it. The announcers mentioned “the other guy” again instead of saying loser.
Contract on a Pole: John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose
There were dueling chants for them early. There were some climbing attempts early, but nothing that worked. Cena went for a bulldog, so Ambrose shoved him outside the ring. Instead of climbing, he went outside the ring to punch Cena. Ambrose gave Cena a suplex on the stage. Back in the ring, Ambrose did a slow climb. Cena stopped him and slammed him down. They were selling like they were in a 30 minute war even though it’s been only three minutes. Ambrose did his bounce off the ropes clothesline. Cena applied the STF, so Ambrose countered by biting his hand with JBL making a Luis Suarez reference. Even I know he’s a football/soccer player that has had biting incidents including at the World Cup. Ambrose hit a dive outside the ring. They battled outside the ring with Ambrose tossing Cena into the barricade. Orton talked trash to Ambrose, so Ambrose nailed him. Cena knocked down Ambrose, then he threw Ambrose into the three Authority guys. Orton prevented Cena from climbing. Rollins and Kane went after Ambrose, which is legal since it’s No DQ. Rollins and Orton were sent out of the ring. Cena gave Kane the Attitude Adjustment. While that was going on, Ambrose pulled down the Hell in a Cell contract from the pole. The director missed the shot because they were showing Cena. The match went 7 minutes.
Winner by grabbing contract: Dean Ambrose
Analysis: *1/2 The right guy won, so that was the best part of it. Any “on a pole” match is going to be difficult and they showed why. Apparently when you’re in a match like this you lose the ability to climb at a normal speed while also doing dumb things like diving at a guy on the other side of the ring when the contract is right there. All the interference was done as a way to not hurt Cena. He lost because he was dealing with Kane while Ambrose capitalized to win. In other words, the 12 year veteran with 15 World Titles is dumb. Now we know.
Post match, Orton had a staredown with Cena. Rollins stared down Ambrose, who was holding the HIAC contract. The music of Rollins started to play for some reason. Why play the music of the heel that wasn’t even in the match? I don’t know.
The show ended with Triple H and Stephanie were standing next to Rollins while Ambrose was in the ring smiling about his win.
Analysis: They could have had a wild brawl to end it, but there’s still two weeks until Hell in a Cell. Maybe that wild brawl will be next week. That’s something that will probably happen just so they can have that moment and then the announcers can freak out about how the Hell in a Cell cage will contain them.
It’s nice to finally know what the two matches inside Hell in a Cell are: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins and “The Other Guy” aka “Loser” John Cena vs. Randy Orton. What a fresh matchup that one is huh?
Three Stars of the Show
1. Randy Orton
2. Dean Ambrose
3. (tie) John Cena
3. (tie) Dolph Ziggler
6 out of 10
Last week: 5.5
2014 Average: 5.96
2014 High: 9 (April 7 & June 30)
2014 Low: 3 (September 1)
Last 5 Weeks: 5.5. 5, 4, 5, 7
It gets a 6 out of 10, which is slightly over the average. It gets that score because the in-ring action was better this week.
The encouraging thing about this week’s show is they had longer matches. Some of the longer match lengths this week: 15, 19, 15 and 14. When you have a three hour show, you should always have at least three matches that go 14 minutes or more. To see four of them on the same night is a great thing.
What’s depressing about watching Raw is they make no mention of the WWE Champion because they want us to forget that Lesnar has a part time deal and he’s not around. The WWE Title is supposed to be the biggest prize in the business, yet they are apparently going to completely ignore it for the next three months.
Three champions lost matches. Stardust/Goldust were pinned in the opener, Ziggler was pinned clean in the best match of the night and Sheamus lost via countout. When champions lose non-title matches all the time it does more harm than good, but WWE absolutely loves those finishes.
As I noted a few times, Randy Orton’s face turn was progressed. He had a really good night. That RKO finisher on Ziggler was one of the best ones he’s ever done. Another match with Cena doesn’t excite me at all, but that is WWE’s go to feud so it’s no surprise that they are going to the well again.
I’m excited about Rollins vs. Ambrose in the Hell in a Cell. They have the potential to have a Match of the Year contender if it’s booked right and they get time, which they should. It’s also one of the best feuds of the year although it’s been a down year in that regard.
That’s all for this week.
I had the week off from writing, but be sure to check out my archive at WhatCulture.com for all kinds of great features like some urban legends about Stephanie McMahon and some strong opinions on why The Rock is the best talker ever.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org
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