Armageddon is certainly sure to reign, as we are live from Chicago, Ill., with a crowd that actually organized to take over the show.
CM Punk’s music hits, drawing a huge pop from the crowd, but Paul Heyman makes his way out instead. Heyman sits down in the ring a la CM Punk and talks about how Punk was thought to be too small to main event WrestleMania and how Punk was never truly wanted by the McMahon family.
However, Punk is not here tonight, no sir. There is someone to blame for Punk not being here, though, and that’s all of the fans. It’s also the Undertaker’s fault because that began Punk’s downward spiral...and just like that, this promo turned into just another wrestling angle.
Brock heads out and lists all the wrestlers who failed to end Undertaker’s streak, promising not to be a failure. Heyman did an awesome job with his promo here, but he was put in a no-win situation.
As Brock is leaving, Mark Henry attacks and tries to get revenge for his broken arm. Brock quickly tosses him into the ring steps though and then rams them into Henry’s face. Lesnar rips apart the announce table (did he hit a fan with one of those monitors?!?) and impressively F5s Henry through the table in a great show of strength. The crowd goes silent for a second and then picks right back up with the “CM Punk” chants.
This is going to be a long night for WWE.
New Age Outlaws vs. The Usos (WWE Tag Team title match)
I think it’s time to get the titles off of Triple H’s buddies. Can you believe these guys were once fresh and edgy? Jey takes a whip to the corner from Road Dogg and hurts his leg, so Billy adds some shots as well. Jey puts the brakes on during a whip but takes a clothesline and hits the ring floor so we can take a commercial break. During this match?!? Seriously?
We return with Billy Gunn getting a boot to the face for two on Jey, still playing Ricky Morton. Dogg dodges an enzuigiri but gets caught on the rebound, and the Chicago crowd goes nuts for the hot tag to Jimmy. He cleans house on Billy Gunn and hits a Samoan drop on him and a full nelson bomb on Dogg. Twisting senton gets two on Gunn, but Dogg runs interference, and Billy gets two off a roll-up.
Tilt-a-whirl slam gets two for Gunn. He looks for finish, but Jimmy gets a tag to Jey as he flies outside of the ring to take out Road Dogg in an impressive spot. Jey nails Gunn with a superkick and hits the Superfly Splash for the win and the titles.
Winners and new champions: The Usos
-This had to be kept short due to the Outlaw’s limitations, but it was good for what it was. Good to see the Usos gets the titles, and hopefully they are given a long reign to reestablish them for a bit. I’ll give this two stars completely due to the Usos flying around.
-Backstage, a couple of the Divas talk about Aaron Paul like he’s 1993 Mel Gibson or something. I will say that the Bella who got the implants made the correct decision.
Big E vs. Cesaro
After his performance at the NXT event, Cesaro doesn’t get an entrance? Come on, now.
Immediately, Cesaro gets the crowd on his side by powering Big E from a leap frog to a backbreaker, earning a huge pop. Big E takes him down and looks for the splash, but Cesaro dumps him. Swagger runs interference enough for Cesaro to catch him with the Big Swing 10 times. Swagger randomly runs in and hits the Swagger Bomb for the lame disqualification to continue the Real Americans' breakup storyline.
Winner by DQ: Big E
-I really don’t understand who Creative is trying to paint as the babyface in this breakup angle. Is Cesaro the babyface for getting screwed out of wins, or is Swagger because he’s causing problems for Cesaro and Zeb Coulter?
Whatever. Big E hits Cesaro with the Big Ending afterwards and the crowd boos him. What a waste of Cesaro in front of a crowd that would appreciate him. Nothing to review here means no match rating.
The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family
Can we please get Bray Wyatt a real lantern instead of that stupid LED one he carries around?
The Shield immediately attacks, as Seth Rollins beats on Luke Harper in the corner. Rollins gets caught on the corner, and Luke Harper tries a super-German suplex, but Rollins lands on his feet. Seth takes out both Erick Rowan and Harper with ridiculous flips to the outside, earning the crowd's approval. Bray stops Seth’s rampage by running interference, though, and the Wyatts take over as we head to commercial.
We come back with Rollins playing the face in peril. He manages to floor Harper, but Bray Wyatt draws hothead Dean Ambrose away from the corner. Roman Reigns has to retrieve him, leaving no one for Rollins to tag. Rollins manages to spike Rowan in the corner and get the tag to Ambrose. Dean goes nuts and dropkicks Rowen’s knee before applying the Figure Four. Harper saves with a double stomp, and that causes Reigns to toss him into the first row.
Bray Wyatt comes in for the first time and slams Ambrose, trapping him in the heel corner. A backbreaker gets two for Rowan, and Ambrose smartly yanks on Rowan’s beard to escape. Rowan shakes off the Greco Roman Beard Lock and hits a sideslam, but Ambrose catches Harper with a clothesline when he comes in. Bray takes out Reigns to prevent a tag, so Dean spikes him with a DDT and crawls to his corner.
However, Rollins has had enough of Dean’s psycho crap and walks out on his partner.
Reigns decides to handle things himself, destroying the entire Wyatt Family himself and taking out Harper with a Superman Punch. A clothesline puts Rowan on the floor, and Reigns hits Harper with his floor-to-apron dropkick. Roman finishes by spearing Rowan over the new announce table, but then Harper takes out him with a dive to the outside.
This is just insanity. Ambrose attacks Harper, but Bray runs him into the ring post as Seth Rollins watches from the entrance ramp. Sister Abigail hits in the middle of the ring, and Bray gets the clean pin on Ambrose.
Winners: The Wyatt Family
-A pretty awesome TV match with a good story told and tremendous action throughout. Some hard-hitting offense and great selling by both teams as well. To put it simply, I want more Shield vs. Wyatts, four stars.
-Meanwhile, heel Batista thinks the Yes Movement is stupid and everyone should just deal with him challenging for the title.
Fandango and Summer Rae vs. Santino Marella and Emma
The CM Punk chants start early as the babyfaces do their “high five, which is really a tag” spot that they worked in NXT. It doesn’t go over as well with the Chicago crowd, as you might imagine.
Fandango finally has enough and attacks, hitting a leg lariat for two. Sloppy suplex sets up Fandango’s flying legdrop, but Santino dodges and hits a stunner while the crowd chants for Dolph Ziggler. A hot tag to Emma gets zero reaction, but she beats on Summer Rae anyways and locks her in the Tarantula. Santino chases Fandango away with the Cobra (how stupid), and the Emma Lock gets another submission victory.
Winners: Santino Marella and Emma
-I honestly expected a harsher crowd reaction for this one, but I guess the last match built up some good will (1.75 stars).
Sheamus vs. Christian
I do not think the Chicago crowd will be as forgiving this time around. Christian is almost orange, so that means it’s time to lay off the spray tan. Christian makes the mistake of slapping Sheamus, so he gets destroyed around ringside and takes a knee drop for two. A punchy-kicky portion of the match follows until Sheamus hits the Irish Curse for two.
Sheamus charges, but Christian back-drops him to the floor and hits a dropkick through the ropes. He tries to follow with a plancha, but Sheamus just steps to the side and makes Christian look like a complete idiot. I absolutely hate that spot. (What good does it do to make Christian look that incompetent?) Sheamus is so scary that Christian runs away and hides behind Michael Cole as we take another commercial break.
We return with Sheamus heading up top, but Christian shoves him to the floor and he takes a nice bump. Christian gets two back inside, as I ponder what kind of idiots actually tweet the stuff they scroll on the bottom of the screen.
Some boring Christian offense does nothing for me, and a frog splash misses. The crowd completely ignores the match as the two wrestlers slug it out, and Christian tries whatever from the top but gets caught. Clothesline on the top rope stuns Christian, and Sheamus hits his clubbing forearms.
Christian hits a reverse DDT and this time hits the frog splash for two. This Chicago crowd is losing my faith more and more each moment. Sheamus catches Christian with White Noise for two, but Sheamus can’t capitalize. He ends up on the apron. Christian tries a clothesline, but Sheamus hits a Brogue Kick from the apron for the win.
-Sheamus does absolutely nothing for me (one star).
-After a break, Sheamus attempts to give an interview in the back, but Christian attacks because, despite the match being as boring as watching paint dry, this feud must continue.
The Bellas vs. Aksana and Alicia Fox
Nikki hits a snapmare on Aksana, and Brie adds a necksnap for two. The Bellas double-team Aksana a little more until Alicia runs interference, and Brie plays reality star in peril. Some awful offense from the heels leads to Brie getting slammed before making her comeback against Alicia. The hot tag to Nikki leads to her token stuff until a brawl breaks out. Brie hits a missile dropkick on Aksana, and Nikki finishes Alicia with a torture rack backbreaker.
Winners: The Bellas
-This was nothing you couldn’t see in every other Divas match ever (1.25 stars).
Daniel Bryan's Confrontation with The Authority
Daniel Bryan hits the ring to a big reaction and actually encourages the crowd to hijack Raw. I swear, either WWE writers are the biggest trolls on the planet, or they are the smartest guys in the room. Bryan promises he will not leave the ring until Batista comes down to fight or Triple H answers his challenge.
Triple H and Stephanie, playing heels this week, make their way to the ring, and Bryan wants an answer. The funniest thing is that Bryan is playing this “people’s champion” character, but he has to ignore the fact that the people don’t want to see Bryan vs. Triple H—they want to see Bryan in the title match. Hunter goes on some rant about guys who failed and were not good enough while the crowd chants for CM Punk. Trips drops the “B+” line again.
Bryan again makes the push for a WrestleMania match against Triple H, and Stephanie mocks the crowd some more. Then she goes off on some rant about how great her family is and how they created all this and...(blah blah blah—as I am so over this storyline).
Hunter goes on for a little while longer about how much greater he is than Bryan, because that’s what this segment needed. Hunter orders Bryan out of his ring, but Daniel refuses for once, so Stephanie calls out Kane. Bryan takes out Kane with a dive and beats him down until security breaks it up. The wall of security members is just too much for Bryan to bear, so we end the segment there.
Seriously, there is so much wrong with this storyline, I don’t even know where to begin. Daniel Bryan is fighting to get a match that absolutely no one wants to see, Hunter and Steph just put themselves over more and more with every segment, Bryan (and all babyfaces for that matter) have to act afraid of Stephanie because the almighty Triple H might punch them and a win over Triple H at WrestleMania will do absolutely nothing for Daniel Bryan moving forward.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler
Guest host Aaron Paul drives Ziggler to the ring in a Shelby, drawing a nice pop from the crowd. Aaron Paul joins the commentary team for some reason, while Del Rio hits a flapjack for two. Del Rio misses a charge, and Ziggler hits a dropkick. Aaron Paul seems extremely disinterested in plugging his movie and more interested in watching the match. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets two for Del Rio, but Ziggler comes back with a spike DDT for two. Del Rio comes back with Divorce Court and adds a superkick for two, but Aaron Paul distracts Del Rio by standing on the announce table. This gives Ziggler time to recover and hit the Zig Zag for the three-count.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
-Apparently, the WWE creative team read the “Hijack Raw” memo and changed its booking accordingly. This was short but inoffensive (1.5 stars).
-The newest inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame is Paul Bearer. I wish WWE would have inducted him before he passed away because he definitely deserved it.
Big E vs. Jack Swagger
Cesaro immediately lays out Big E with the Neutralizer for the DQ, and the Real Americans come to blows. Zeb Coulter stops Cesaro from hooking the Big Swing on Swagger over the mic and makes the guys hug it out. They keep a watchful eye on each other, though, and they leave the ring.
Winner by DQ: Big E
-So Intercontinental champion Big E gets booked as a pawn between two tag partners feuding...I swear, that title is a curse. Obviously, this was an angle and not a match.
-John Cena hits the ring and announces that he won’t be having a match tonight, drawing a huge cheer from the crowd. I love how JBL dismisses the crowd’s venom toward John Cena as people “just having fun,” like they are in on the joke and they really love Cena but are just booing him to be funny.
-Cena goes off about how he loves the fans and panders to the Chicago natives while they boo him. He transitions from talking about change in WWE to challenging the Wyatts once again. Bray Wyatt answers with another cool promo, equating John Cena to an old racehorse, and he promises to put down Cena permanently.
-Alexander Rusev’s sexy Rocky IV manager introduces the Bulgarian strongman, and he cuts a promo no one can understand. What was the point of that?
Batista vs. Daniel Bryan
It’s already 11:00 p.m., so I’m doubting that we’re going to get a worthwhile match here. Randy Orton heads out to ringside because WWE has to remind everyone that, yes, he is still world champion.
Slow start as Batista uses his power, but Bryan goes low with a dropkick and works the leg. Bryan kicks away in the corner and a dropkick gets the knee again before hooking a half crab.
Seriously, is this what Chicago calls “hijacking Raw”? I’m not impressed.
Batista floors Bryan with a clothesline and tosses him to the floor as we take our last commercial break at 11:05. Who does that?
We return with Bryan fighting out of a chinlock and hitting a running clothesline for the comeback. A pair of running dropkicks in the corner connect, but Batista takes a powder. Bryan dives through the ropes to take him out and adds a missile dropkick back inside. The Yes! Kicks put Batista down for two, and The Authority makes its way to ringside.
Batista tosses Bryan into the ring steps in the meantime and then throws him into Randy Orton just to be a jerk. Back inside, Bryan catches Batista with a kick for a double-KO, and Orton randomly attacks Bryan for the lame DQ yet again.
-Post-match, Bryan takes out everyone with kicks until Batista spears him down. Kane tries to attack, but Triple H wants to do the honors and takes a kick to the face. Batista lays Bryan out with a Batista Bomb, and that allows Hunter to hit a Pedigree, because heels laying out Daniel Bryan has never been seen before. I'll give the thing two stars—and that’s being kind of generous.
That’s how we end...no CM Punk, no big Bryan moment, no finish in the main event and another “screw you” to the fans.
I’m telling you, WWE writers are the ultimate trolls. The Chicago crowd was pretty much pacified early by Brock Lesnar and Dolph Ziggler, leaving the fans too confused to even know whether to boo or cheer when Bryan challenged Triple H to a WrestleMania match.
The opening hour was absolutely fantastic television, but the show really started going down the crapper once the Christian vs. Sheamus match started. The show went from one of the best in recent memory to just another Raw episode full of boring matches and pointless segments that were only designed to elevate The Authority and make Daniel Bryan look stupid.
Mark my words, all of those “Yes!” chants are going to fade until the crowd simply gives up on Daniel Bryan. Of course, that’s the time when WWE will put the belt on him and then wonder why the crowd isn’t reacting to him any more (see: Mysterio, Rey). It’s WWE logic at its finest. Bryan won’t succeed because he’s not supposed to succeed.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@MikeShannon22) for all types of fun.