Last week’s RAW opened unnecessarily with the entire WWE roster in the ring, apparently having just heard an announcement that the Jonestown kool-aid was about to be passed around. No, wait, worse — enter the Authority.
The formerly overthrown Authority (Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, specifically) were reinstated last week when Seth Rollins appeared during a promo segment and overpowered Edge, a legendary WWE star who retired due to neck and spine injuries. Naturally Rollins set him up for a curb stomp atop the Money in the Bank briefcase, and threatened to paralyze/kill Edge 1 unless John Cena appeared. Cena obliged, and Rollins manipulated him, in order to save Edge from his doom, into bringing back the authority — a power that was vested solely in Cena sometime before Survivor Series. As though summoning a long-dead god, Cena intoned “I BRING THE AUTHORITY BACK.” Steph and Triple H returned, declared this past Monday’s RAW “John Cena Appreciation Night,” and exacted their revenge against Cena acolytes Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan and Ryback.
Remember in that last article where I said Dolph Ziggler was essentially invincible? No? Good, because Ziggler got destroyed this Monday. To be fair, Dolph won the first match to retain his Intercontinental title against Bad News Barrett,2 and would had kept the title had Kane not emerged and declared the match set for two falls out of three. Though we saw some of the neo-classic “Dolph Ziggler never gives up, even and especially when he’s been impossibly mutilated” spirit, with some assistance from Kane Barrett made short work of Ziggler for the next two falls, winning the match and Intercontinental title.
Things went much the same for Erick Rowan in a match against Luke Harper3 when Seth Rollins’ fanfiction bait bodyguards Mercury and Noble were made referees of the match, ignoring Rowan’s pin and ensuring the inevitable Harper victory. Ryback wasn’t booked to fight Monday, but was nonetheless relevant to the night’s events, as we’ll see later.
The night’s most buzzed-about fight, the ambulance match between Wyatt and Ambrose, was clearly meant to end their feud once and for all. Both men cut promos over the course of the show, each promising to literally murder the other on live television, and handy highlight reels of the feud to date rolled leading into Monday’s match-up. The “What You Missed On Ambrose and Wyatt Beating Each Other Senseless” reel actually did RAW a disservice, as it reminded its audience where the feud began: at Hell in a Cell, with Wyatt interrupting a story-motivated blow-off match between Rollins and Ambrose for no reason whatsoever. Wyatt’s ambushing Ambrose has never made sense,4 so it was difficult to see this match as anything beyond the termination of an uninteresting feud between two otherwise profoundly interesting wrestlers. Ambrose’s best spot was leaping off the top of the ambulance to plant Wyatt through a table; Wyatt subsequently hit Ambrose with two Sister Abigail’s, including one against the ambulance itself,5 which proved enough to put Ambrose in the back of the ambulance, winning Wyatt the battle and ostensibly, hopefully, the war.
Newly plucked from NXT, the Mad Max extras/tag team the Ascension cut a promo and won a tag-team match against faceless jobbers whose names weren’t even announced. INTIMIDATING. While the arrival of new NXT talent to the roster is generally good news, variety is the spice of life etc. etc., the Ascension’s pseudo road warrior/Illuminati shtick is going to age worse than the “California Love” video if Connor and Victor6 don’t improve their mic skills.
The co-ed tag team match between Alicia Fox, Miz and Mizdow against the tag team champion Usos and Naomi was interesting not because it was a mixed-gender match — and it was hardly that, as Naomi and Alicia Fox’s time in the ring lasted only slightly longer than a blink and the women could only fight each other, not their male opponents — but because of the camera work. While Miz was in the ring with an Uso, the show cut to a long close-up of Mizdow on the sidelines pantomiming Miz’s moves, with out-of-focus-but-actually-wrestling Miz and Uso in the shot’s background. It sounds like a minor moment, but even semi-ambitious camera work adds layers that greatly improve matches like this one, which Miz and company would go on to win.
Paige and Natalya win a match against the improbably reunited Bella twins, though Nikki Bella maintains her title as the Diva’s champion. Later in the match Natalya’s husband Tyson Kidd would be part of the most interesting event of the night, when two masked men in dark spandex bodysuits and faceless masks appeared in the middle of a Big E/Adam Rose match-up, otherwise known as (almost) an easy win for E. The masked figures leapt into the ring and assaulted Big E and the rest of the New Day tag team, ending the match and revealing themselves to be Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. By way of a thank-you, Adam Rose ordered his cult/conga line/ecstasy suppliers to fall upon Cesaro and Kidd, lifting them on high and singing their praises, oooh-oooh-oooh.
Either the WWE is trying to rebuild Big Show as a force to be reckoned with or Reigns is still too close to recovery to be fighting more athletic opponents; regardless, the two men fought a close match that ended in Show DQing himself after thwacking Reigns with his weapon of choice, the steel stairs. In an attempt at a post-match fatality against Reigns, Big Show again held the stairs aloft, only to catch a spear to the chest from Reigns and knock himself out when the stairs subsequently fell on his head.
“John Cena Appreciation Night” culminated in Steph and Triple H punishing Cena by not pushing him, of course, but his allies — the Authority fired Ryback, Rowan and Ziggler. Banished! Cast out! Almost certainly returning in time for the Royal Rumble! Tune in next week to see if Heyman takes action against his new client Rollins for re-aligning with the Authority, or if that storyline will also slip through the cracks! See you next time!
On live TV, of course — watching WWE is sometimes an exhausting exercise in suspending one’s disbelief. ↩
Who went out on a shoulder injury some months ago and vacated his Intercontinental title; technically he never lost it. ↩
Another match in mid-card purgatory during their chronically passed-over rivalry. ↩
Despite ample mic time between Hell in a Cell and Monday’s match, Wyatt never elaborated on why he attacked Ambrose beyond “He’s the other ‘crazy’ main event wrestler so I guess we have beef now.” ↩
If someone can explain to me the tangible benefits of a company renting their ambulance to the WWE for a death match, please email your explanation to calvin.kasulke at gmail. Namaste. ↩
Not exactly intimidating names — all that face paint and not even calling themselves Vlad and Megatron or something? ↩