The Good, the Great and the Awesome from Raw (6/16/14)
The June 16 episode of Monday Night Raw was a tale of two shows. There was plenty to be excited and impressed about. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns stood out as singles stars, while Paul Heyman got back to cutting great promos. Dolph Ziggler wowed his hometown crowd, and John Cena and Kane managed not to have an awful main event.
But elsewhere on the show, there were segments so bad that it was like taking one huge tidal wave of puke to the face.
Stephanie McMahon's coffee was drugged by Roman Reigns, causing her to vomit. A lot. To the dismay of Vickie Guerrero.
The mixed tag match pitting Adam Rose and Summer Rae against Fandango and Layla lasted roughly two minutes and was simply an excuse to get Kevin Hart, comedian and movie star, involved in the show.
Then there was Stardust.
In the weeks that follow, the character may prove wildly entertaining and a great use of a talented young star, but for right now, Cody Rhodes came across as significantly more disturbing than during the mustache days, and that's saying something.
With the bad, the ugly and the gross out of the way, relive the best of the best from Monday's show with The Good, the Great and the Awesome.
Anyone who loved the seemingly never-ending series between John Cena and Kane back in 2012, which touted such "classics" as the Royal Rumble singles bout and the Elimination Chamber Ambulance match, no doubt had a smile on their face when Triple H announced that the leader of the Cenation would take on the Demon in a Stretcher match in Monday's main event.
The rest of us greeted the announcement with a groan and a sudden urge to rip our eyes out.
Luckily we did not, because Cena and Kane, two guys notorious for their lack of chemistry, actually delivered a solid match to cap off a rather great episode of Raw.
Cena overcame the odds, again, thanks to Dean Ambrose clearing the ring of the interfering Randy Orton and Seth Rollins and scored the win.
As a result, Cena will head to Money in the Bank on June 29 and compete for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Should he win, it will be his 2,000th title reign of the last decade.
But who's counting?
Paul Heyman Promo
The leader of the Extreme Revolution and the adviser to "Swiss Superman" Cesaro, Paul Heyman took over promo time meant for the suddenly ill Stephanie McMahon and delivered a very good bit of promo work to his client over.
He told the world that Cesaro would become WWE World Heavyweight champion, and like when he told the world that Brock Lesnar would end the streak at WrestleMania, his latest claim was not a prediction—it was a spoiler.
Solid work from Heyman, who backed off of the repetitive braggadocian comments about Lesnar breaking the streak and focused on hyping Cesaro as more than just the winner of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Sheamus vs. Bray Wyatt
In a preview of the Money in the Bank Ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Sheamus and Bray Wyatt met in a physical, intense and aggressive match that saw the competitors level one another with some incredibly hard-hitting offense.
The arrival of the Usos to ringside to fend off interference from Luke Harper and Erick Rowan likely had Teddy Long sitting up and screaming at his television for someone, anyone, to make the match a tag team match (Playa!), but that was not the case.
Sheamus won the match by disqualification when Harper and Rowan interfered, the Usos proving to be much worse at their jobs than originally believed. But a big six-person brawl erupted afterward.
The Usos dove off a ladder and onto their Money in the Bank opponents before Sheamus picked up that same ladder and threw it at Harper and Rowan, catching the latter in the head and scrambling whatever brains he had left.
Later in the night, it was announced that Sheamus and the Usos would meet the Wyatt Family on Main Event Tuesday night.
And all was right in Teddy Long's world.
Bray Wyatt Promo
Prior to match with Sheamus, Bray Wyatt cut a promo in which "power" was the central theme. He referenced the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the power that came along with it. Ultimately, he promised to win the title and give the people the change they have all been praying for.
After losing his feud to join Cena, Wyatt could use the major boost of becoming WWE champion. With a champion as unpredictable as the bearded cult leader, the company would immediately be injected with some much-needed energy and excitement. He would be fresh and interesting when compared to some of the others that will join him on June 29.
Most of all, Wyatt is the one hurdle that Daniel Bryan failed to get over when he lost to him back at Royal Rumble. When the former champion returns from his neck injury, the feud would be ready-made for him without too much unnecessary and overcomplicated booking.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins
WWE's bad habit of booking the same matches reared its ugly head Monday night, as Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins met one-on-one for the third time since Rollins' heel turn two weeks ago.
Luckily, a potent mix of a hot crowd and a great match helped mask the fact that it is such a repetitive pairing.
Ziggler, always good for a standout performance, looked extra motivated as he competed in front of his hometown fans. His sequencing with Rollins was phenomenal, and the spot where he caught Rollins attempting a suicide dive through the rope brought about a big pop.
The final stretch was dramatic, but the finish felt a bit clunky, almost as if Dean Ambrose missed his first cue and the wrestlers had to repeat the spot until he hit the ring.
Still, Rollins and Ziggler have really solid chemistry with one another, and as the former Shield member continues to adapt and evolve as a heel worker in WWE, a match between the two further down the road may be worth revisiting.
But, like, much further down the road.
Rollins has beaten Ziggler up enough for now.
Dean Ambrose vs. Bad News Barrett
Former members of The Shield dominated the first hour of Raw, as Dean Ambrose brought Rollins vs. Ziggler to an end via disqualification, then was booked in a match with Bad News Barrett by COO Triple H.
There were a few things to take away from the match, none of which pertain to the actual action. However, Barrett did a fine job of working the shoulder of Ambrose and telling a story centered around that injury.
Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL all alluded to the fact that Barrett is the Authority's go-to guy when it comes to dealing out punishment to the power couple's enemies. Anytime the three stooges shill something that hard, one knows it is meant to be a "thing."
The only problem with Barrett working with the Authority is the fact that he has lost more than he has won as of late and only beat Ambrose via count-out because the Lunatic Fringe and former Shield mate Rollins fought in the crowd while Barrett was left lying to close out the segment.
At what point does Triple H become dissatisfied with Barrett's performance and begin talking down to him? Does that trigger a babyface turn? How badly does the Bad News gimmick suffer if Triple H and Stephanie are doing the talking for him?
The other takeaway from the match pertains to Ambrose's new music. No longer using The Shield theme, it appears as though the group may have split without anyone telling the fans.
With Ambrose coming to Cena's aid later in the night but not Battle Royal winner Roman Reigns, there are many questions surrounding the status of the Hounds of Justice. The need for singles stars is understandable, but at least give some sort of resolution to the story.
After all, Reigns and Ambrose were still referring to one another as brothers as late as last Friday's SmackDown.
The Roman Reigns-Rusev Showdown
Battle royals generally tend to be awful. There is just so little that one can actually do in a match where 20 men crowd the ring, and as a result, they often descend into a waste of 15 minutes in which guys who never had a chance in the first place try to elude elimination before being tossed over the top rope and allowing those who are meant to be spotlighted to do their thing.
That was again the case Monday night, as the Superstars involved took their good old time eliminating fodder like Fandango and Big E before the match settled down and stars such as Roman Reigns, Bo Dallas, Rusev, Bad News Barrett and Rob Van Dam reintroduced some life to the match.
The best part of the entire ordeal came in the closing moments of the bout when Reigns and Rusev stood across the ring from each other, the final two participants in the match, and the Cleveland crowd erupted. It was a showdown of the unstoppable force and the immovable object, to steal one from Gorilla Monsoon.
Both men have been built up so effectively over the last three months that fans wanted to see them fight.
Amazing how that works.
Reigns got the upper hand on the Bulgarian Brute and knocked him off the apron with the Superman Punch to secure the win and earn a spot in the Money in the Bank WWE title match. Rusev turned in his best performance and will only benefit from it in the immediate future.