John Cena comes out to a mixture of cheers and boos! Mostly cheers on this night, however. Cole seems excited to show us the replay of Cena’s match with Orton last week, a match most of us didn’t want to see in the first place. Cena’s hat and t-shirt combination screams “TMNT”, but for some strange reason I am almost on board with it.
Cena starts his promo in typical fashion, the hometown cheap pop and plugging the pay per view set to take place Sunday. He continues by saying the road to Wrestlemania is all about momentum, and everyone in the Elimination Chamber match has momentum except for the champion Randy Orton. Obviously that is the theme the match has been built on with Orton jobbing his ass off while “running the gauntlet”. Cena says that this proves the odds are that we will have a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion come Sunday, while most wrestling fans agree it means the exact opposite.
Cena’s promo certainly isn’t lighting the world on fire when Antonio—err– I mean just Cesaro, not that Just is his first name, I just mean that he goes my only Cesaro now. I think? Goddammit WWE. The half of the Real Americans not named Jack Swagger comes to the ring along with everyone’s favorite manager, Zeb Colter. As is the trend of late, Cesaro receives a positive reaction from the crowd.
Cesaro, speaking over loud and proud “we the people” chants, announces that when he wins the Elimination Chamber match, he will become not only the new face of WWE, but the new face of America! The crowd cheers loudly at this announcement, and I have to say I agree. Cesaro would make an excellent face of America. Cena, not in the mood for cheeky declarations, instantly goes into “tough guy Cena” mode and gets into Cesaro’s face. Is this really necessary? Cena, we’ve still got 4 more competitors to bring out, just cool your jets man.
The most surprising pop of the night goes to Sheamus, who seems to be getting good reactions since returning from injury. I guess we will see how long he can sustain that. Not that I am one of those Sheamus haters, I like the fella just fine. He tries to make a joke about his pasty ginger mug (his words, not mine) and being the face of WWE, but it goes over like a led balloon.
Christian’s theme mercifully cuts off Sheamus, who was really stumbling through his promo, mentioning something about kicking teeth in and the like. I think I speak for the vast majority of fans when I say the only interest I have in seeing Christian this Sunday is getting the brakes beat off him by Brock Lesnar, who can then take his spot in the match. We can still dream. Not surprisingly Christian’s promo only lasts as long as it takes him to walk to the ring.
Of course Orton has to come out next, because he is small potatoes compared to Daniel Bryan. So it makes sense to me that he is WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Orton is the one superstar of the opening segment that the crowd is most apathetic toward, and that includes Christian (no offense Christian). They don’t boo Orton. He isn’t one of those cool heels that gets cheered. He just comes out and sucks the life out of the crowd. He is WWE’s version of a dementor. That’s right, we Harry Potter references now.
Orton walks toward the ring saying… just kidding, I’m not repeating what he said. You can imagine it was quite boring. Luckily his promo wasn’t much longer than Christians, and the crowd finally gets what they want. Bryan comes out, instructing the yes chants on his way to the ring, and begins his promo by saying the people do his talking for him. Fair enough.
On the surface this may have just seemed like a typical “hey, let’s get everyone from the EC match jammed into the opening segment” type of opener, but there was much, much more than meets the eye. Just when things seem to be wrapping up and everything status quo, who comes out? KANE! Because nothing spices up a WWE segment in 2014 like Kane.
Kane comes out saying he has been given the chance to “rectify mistakes” AKA to book a night’s worth of filler matches to get us through to the pay per view. In addition to Orton vs Sheamus, Kane announces
Antonio Cesaro will take on John Cena, who unfairly still gets to keep his first name. Anyone keeping tally can probably guess who is left remaining to match up.
Daniel Bryan vs Christian
Before the match begins Kane distracts Daniel Bryan and allows for Christian to attack him from behind, signalling a drastic change in character from Christian’s generally laid back babyface self. He tosses Bryan to the outside and slams him into the padded wall (ouch!) on the outside. JBL is marking, saying he likes this new Christian with an attitude.
As Christian tosses Bryan into the steps, Cole mentions how Captain Charisma was the only competitor to lose to Orton in his series of matches. With the announcers selling this as a full-blown heel turn, I am a bit confused as to what the point is. Is WWE simply trying to stir up any interest they can in the obvious weak-link in the Chamber match? Face, heel, it doesn’t really matter at this point. Nobody buys Christian as a viable competitor at this point in his career. Hell, he barely felt like a competent Intercontinental Champion in 2012. And I am a Christian fan, but things just haven’t fallen the right way for him be it booking, character or whatever it may be.
By the time a referee finally arrives and the bell rings to make the match official, Christian has hurt Bryan’s shoulder, which becomes to focal point of the match. Christian works over the shoulder, eventually preventing Bryan from putting on the Yes Lock. Bryan would win the match by countering a Christian Killswitch attempt into a roll up, living up to his nickname of “Mr. Small Package”. Bryan winning doesn’t surprise me, but it seems that if they wanted to give Christian’s heel turn some legitimacy and strengthen the weak link of the Elimination Chamber match, they would have just let the bad guy cheat to win. Bryan has shown time and time again he loses nothing when he drops matches, and obviously he gains nothing by going over Christian. Oh well, nobody is really going to care about Christian either way, sadly. If WWE turned Christian heel simply to make me say “huh?” mission accomplished.
Kane cuts Daniel Bryan’s celebration short, saying ” Congratulations Daniel on a hard fought victory. Unfortunately I neglected to mention that you still have one more match tonight. Against me.”
Daniel Bryan vs Kane
Kane, ill-prepared for the occasion, cloaked in fine JC Penny Loafers and a $45 suit, is attacked upon his attempt to enter the ring by the unruly Daniel Bryan. “Corporate” Kane seemed unimpressed with his antics, and responded by overpowering his much smaller opponent. Kane would pick up where Christian left off, working on Bryan’s ailing shoulder. The audience wasn’t impressed with Kane’s grinding style, and hit him with the dreaded “boring” chants.
Those chants soon turned back into “Yes!” chants as Bryan finally was able to get momentum going against Kane, following up a missile dropkick with kicks to the chest of Kane. Bryan’s momentum was short-lived as Kane would quickly turn the tables once again, countering a Bryan kick by shoving him over the top rope.
Kane places Bryan in a shoulder lock, using the ring post for leverage, and refuses to let go of the hold after a 5 count, resulting in a disqualification. He continues to attack Bryan’s shoulder after the bell. Bryan is 2-0 after the first two matches of Raw, and it appears he will be heading into the Chamber match with a shoulder “injury”.
Roman Reigns vs Mark Henry
We have seen this story unfold at least once or twice before, where Ambrose or Rollins can’t get the job done so it comes down to Reigns being the guy. It happened most notably of course when Reigns defeated CM Punk on Raw last month. Nobody comes into this match expecting Henry to win, but I thought they could still make it a worthwhile clash between two larger than life men.
That wasn’t the case, however, as this was a glorified squash. Between how the Lesnar scenario unfolded and now this, I have to think that Henry simply isn’t healthy, and is just doing what he can to help out on the road to Wrestlemania. He ate the spear and the pin within a couple of minutes. No complaints, really, would have liked to have seen more but I understand if Henry isn’t healthy. Reigns looks like a beast which was the entire point.
After the match Amrbose would continue putting the boots to Henry, resulting in Reigns laughing and asking “what are you doing?”. Before Dean got the chance to explain himself, the Wyatt’s interrupted, appearing on the tron. Wyatt cut his usual entertaining promo, and it concluded with Harper asking “are you willing to die for this?” with Bray adding “because if you’re not…. you’ve already lost”.
Roman Reigns hops on the mic and tells the Wyatts to come to the ring talking that noise, and Bray responds by saying “funny, we were thinking the same thing”. The Wyatt Family theme begins playing and Cole lets out an “ooooooooooo boy!”. The Wyatts entered the ring and faced the Shield. Just like last week however, this amounted to nothing more than a giant tease. A completely acceptable and well-booked tease, mind you, but a tease nonetheless. After a quick showdown the Wyatts bailed, getting heavily boo’d in the process.
Jack Swagger vs Kofi Kingston
Swagger won a #1 Contenders match on Smackdown for the right to face Big E at Elimination Chamber. While having a guy win a random fatal 4 way #1 contenders match 11 days before the pay per view isn’t exactly amazing build up, at least it is something for the Intercontinental Championship.
I think the best case scenario for the IC belt is having Swagger win it from Big E Sunday, and eventually having Swagger and Cesaro split and feud, ending with Cesaro winning the championship as a face at Wrestlemania. Cesaro had a solid run as the United States title, and with the WWE & World Heavyweight Championships merging it is time for WWE to start booking the IC title as the #2 championship again.
No surprise, considering Kofi’s current role as
a jobber enhancement talent that Swagger won this match with relative ease. Going over Kofi in a quick match isn’t exactly a way to send Swagger into his title match with a ton of momentum, but I guess it doesn’t hurt anything.
Big E L
angston vs Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre
Soon after Swagger’s win over Kofi, Big E’s theme hit and he came out for his handicap match against the two lamest members of 3MB. Continuing in the night’s trend of trivial name changes, sources tell me that Big E is dropping the Langston portion of his name. NOW he’s going places.
Langston squashes the jabronies and cuts a promo that was just as bad to watch as it will be to read.
“I hope they make diapers your size, because after Sunday your mouth won’t be the only thing full of crap.”
That does it, now I HAVE to buy this pay per view! Big E promises to make Swagger shit himself. Doesn’t get better than that, folks.
Antonio Cesaro vs John Cena
There is an easy to notice pattern with Cesaro. WWE gives him a chance to shine, and he capitalizes on it time and time again. A spotlight singles match with John Cena leading up to the Elimination Chamber match is an opportunity that Cesaro won’t allow to go to waste.
The match goes back and forth early, as the crowd goes back and forth with dueling “Let’s go Cena, Cena Sucks” chants. Cole reminds us that “Cena is the most polarizing figure in WWE history!”. Right. I’ll play along. King claims that “nobody gets bigger reactions than John Cena”. This, I can’t play along with. Give me a break. Daniel Bryan got more chants in John Cena’s Royal Rumble match with Randy Orton than John Cena did.
Cesaro is able to gain the upper hand by catching a leaping John Cena in mid air and turning it into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He then stood loud and proud and yelled “We the People” along with thousands of the fans in attendance. As Cesaro continues punishing Cena with European uppercuts Cole wonders if Cesaro is the pound for pound strongest performer in WWE today. Forget pound for pound, Cesaro may be the strongest guy on the roster, period.
With Cesaro in complete control of the match, Cena has to dig deep into his back of tricks, busting out the standing Cenacarana. Did you know if you google “hurricarana” John Cena’s variation is the first that appears? True story. He tries to follow up his momentum with a running cross body, but Cesaro catches him and hits a bridging fall away slam, in one of the cooler counters I’ve seen in some time. Cesaro is able to toss Cena about like he is a small cruiserweight. It is incredibly impressive to watch.
It is no stretch to say that Cesaro dominated most of this match. He controlled things throughout and had a number of close calls, including countering an Attitude Adjustment into the “Very European Uppercut”. After Cena kicks out of that, the crowd gives the first “This is awesome” chant of the night. I agree, Cesaro domination is awesome.
Cesaro, still not satisfied with his own amazing performance just yet, decides to top himself by performing the best move of the night, a middle rope superplex, pulling Cena up over the rope from the apron. The mans power knows no bounds. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, Cena was being spun around like a child in the Big Swing.
The move seems to have little effect on Cena, however, and he quickly springs to his feet and attempts once again to hit Cesaro with the AA, only to have it countered once again, this time with Cesaro flipping over to land on his feet when Cena tosses him from his shoulders. After sticking the landing Cesaro flies into the ropes and comes back at Cena, catching him with a big boot to the head.
Cena recovers quickly and blasts Cesaro with a wicked clothesline, and he followed it up by deadlifting Cesaro from the ground up onto his shoulders and hitting him with the AA. Cena picks up the win, but the fans and Cesaro are just as big of winners. It felt like Cena had to pull out all the stops to put down Cesaro, which is about as big a rub as you can get in the WWE. Cesaro has all the makings of a big time player in WWE.
The Wyatt Family vs Los Matadores and Sin Cara
If you expected a back and forth competitive match in this one, then I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. The Wyatt Family went over in about 5 minutes of not-so-competitive action. El Torito was involved, Bray did his upside down spider crawl and Sin Cara was stuck with the burden of eating Sister Abigail (heyooo) and the pin.
I was anticipating a possible second confrontation between The Wyatts and The Shield, but it didn’t come.
Billy Gunn vs Jey Uso
The Usos are set to challenge the New Age Outlaws for the WWE Tag Team Championships Sunday. Both Road Dogg and Jimmy Uso joined the broadcast team for this one. Road Dogg should really consider getting into commentary once this run is up, he is quite entertaining in the role.
The match begins and Jey Uso quickly gains the upperhand, resulting in Road Dogg making his way over to Mr. Ass to help formulate a gameplan. He returns to the booth and informs everyone that Billy didn’t even realize the match had started yet. That’s our Billy!
The action continues in the ring, but frankly Road Dogg is stealing the show from the sideline. Jimmy Uso accuses him of being scared, to which Road Dogg replies that is actually afraid of snakes. He also told Jimmy that the Usos were just like all the other teams. They would step up to the plate against the Outlaws, swing 3 times and strike out.
CM Punk chants come out for the second or third time of the night, and “slick Willy” as Road Dogg calls Billy Gunn, goes for the Famouser but has it countered by Jey. Jey rolls Billy up and gets a 3 count. After the match Jimmy planted Road Dogg with a superkick for no apparent reason other than to be a dick.
I don’t think the Usos have great odds at becoming champs at the Elimination Chamber, but if nothing else Road Dogg has kept this feud interesting while it lasted. I fully expect the Outlaws to carry the titles into Mania, which feels like the smart move.
Randy Orton vs Sheamus
Orton comes out for the second time to complete silence. I’m not exaggerating, it sounds a funeral home when this man appears. I may as well copy and paste my thoughts about Orton from earlier in the show, because it is just as applicable to this appearance. They don’t boo Orton. He isn’t one of those cool heels that gets cheered. He just comes out and sucks the life out of the crowd.
Much like was the case with his Royal Rumble match, this Orton snoozer quickly becomes more noteworthy for the crowd activity than what is taking place in the ring. While we got some CM Punk chants throughout the night, the loudest and most noticeable took place during the main event.
Outside of the early Punk chants, the crowd remained mostly silent as they came to the realization of “wait, this is closing the show?”. Its not that the two didn’t try. I would say the effort is there. It was a physical match, hell Orton smashed Sheamus through a table. It is just that anything involving Orton causes myself and many, many other fans to immediately turn off any chance of giving a damn about what is going on. A complete indifference toward Orton is the one thing the Internet fans and live crowds tend to agree on, and yet he is the holder of the only belt that really matters.
If you are interested in how this one ended, though I can’t imagine you are, it was a complete fustercluck that started with The Shield attacking Sheamus. Now, Orton earlier had asked Triple H for protection (more or less) but The Shield feel like they should be beyond working as Triple H yes men. Reigns has stood up the C.O.O., and it feels out of place.
John Cena and Daniel Bryan would rush down to the aid of Sheamus, because god forbid their opponent gets too beat up before the big pay per view match. #Facelogic. Things went from random to awesome when the Wyatts theme hit. Was this finally the physical confrontation we’ve all been waiting for? The lights went out and when they came back on seconds later, the Wyatts were standing in front of The Shield, ready for fisticuffs.
The two teams exchanged fake punches and I marked like a child. The crowd went ape shit and it was a great way to close the show. Sadly Cena, Bryan, Sheamus and the rest of the Elimination Chamber match participants were also involved, but it wasn’t enough to ruin the moment. The 12 men involved in the two headlining matches all brawl as the show goes off the air.
Overall an enjoyable episode of Raw with Cesaro definitely stealing the show. With any luck at all that will have been the last time we see Orton as champion on Raw in 2014. Fingers crossed.