So, yeah. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, both on TV and at fabulous Casa Spiffie. A weekend spent in hot tubs at a tranquil B&B was just what I needed to get ready for a long summer of RAW. Looking forward to getting back on the horse and being able to pay full attention to this show, and hopefully do some deeper diving into it. With that in mind, if you’ve stuck around all these weeks and hopefully enjoyed this column, what would you like to see going forward? How can I make this a more entertaining or informative experience for you? More jokes? More non-wrestling content? More wrestling content? Find a new reviewer to take my place? I’m all ears. Comment or shoot me a tweet or msg @spiffie6123.

Some questions that NEED answering this week:

1. Will anything make any sense in the Authority storyline? I was too elated with the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup to fully express how baffled I am right now by everything that is happening around the WWE title. Hopefully Paul Heyman will do us all a solid and explain everything that’s happening, even the parts WWE itself hasn’t quite figured out.
2. Kevin Owens is getting punked tonight isn’t he? This is a worrisome path. He got the win over John Cena in their first match. Second match Cena beat him, but Owens got to put him out of action. They’re meeting again at the next big show. Cena wasn’t around last week. He’s going to have to be getting his vengeance at some point to prepare for when he beats Owens at the next PPV. Cena stories always end in tears.
3. When does someone come help Paige? At some point they have to bring in an NXT callup don’t they? Unless as part of Total Divas returning they’re going to bring Natalya back from being on Tyson Kidd rehab duty. This division is so haphazardly booked even without having to factor in an entirely different story paradigm where things happen at totally different times and people act out of the characters they inhabit in the RAW universe. Trying to merge all this together renders almost every story confusing.

WWE Monday Night RAW
June 22, 2015
Bankers Life Fieldhouse – Indianapolis, Indiana 

Starting the show off with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman coming to the ring is pretty much guaranteed to get me in a good mood right of the bat.

It is hard to believe that the same company that has done such an excellent job of rebuilding Brock’s mystique as something nearly supernatural is the same company that felt compelled to have him job to HHH. Brock Lesnar is like an ancient god that has been invoked by a guy in a cabin foolishly reading the Necronomicon aloud.

Did Michael Cole just pull a Dan Rather? “Courage.”

Brock Lesnar shaking hands with people is more compelling than most of the things on this show. Brock Lesnar giving Michael Cole a noogie is possibly the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen on this show.

It is kind of odd that right now the two most unstoppable people on the show right now are positioned as good guys. Hell, you could say the three most unstoppable people on the show, depending on if you put Roman Reigns ahead of Kevin Owens. I guess it makes sense since that’s been the way the company works for decades. Create a superhero, watch him succeed, create an even bigger threat, watch the hero succeed, once in a while let the hero lose, only to win again next. You’d never get something like this guy _8XOim6l running roughshod as a champ. Even when Lesnar was the champ he never fought anyone who was a true face at the time of the match.

Paul Heyman face promos are my favorite thing. Watching him use every verbal trick to pull the crowd in. He drops rhymes, he makes puns, he gives the crowd all the red meat in the world. And yet, had he been compelled to do so he would have had the crowd calling for his head moments later.

Dean Ambrose vs. Kane

Well, time for Dean to cycle back down to the midcard. I hope, but I doubt it will ever happen, to see one Ambrose vs. Lesnar match take place.

Michael Cole throwing some serious shade at Byron Saxton. I would not be sad to see someone take his job. Maybe not Saxton, but someone.

I’m actually watching this match, as I’m trying to give everyone their money’s worth here. But I really don’t know what to tell you here. As much as Vince McMahon supposedly hates wrestling for the sake of wrestling, this is the absolute definition of that. These two could spend ten minutes just making crazy faces at each other and nothing at all would be different.

And then a distraction finish. Good to see WWE cares as much as I do about that match. Winner: Kane

Seth Rollins has been in frustration mode for a long time now. He’s like me playing poker. Just a geyser of runbad. His life right now is a series of getting it in with Aces and watching them get cracked against someone’s lucky 9-4 off.

Kevin Owens is absolutely right that the Cena handshake was a totally shitty thing to do. What hubris on the part of Cena, to believe it is his right to decide when someone has proven themselves worthy of the Cena stamp of approval. Only when John has beaten you, and he established his dominance over you can he then accept you. He believed he had neutralized the Kevin Owens threat. That Owens would be so awestruck by the gesture of Cena showing him the Freemasons handshake and letting him into the lodge Owens would grab that paw and cling to it, knowing if only Cena will be your friend your career is made. Thankfully Owens has watched this show and seen what happens to people who John Cena likes and respects. They end up getting fired, or having their efforts negated so John doesn’t have to feel bad about himself, or chased by a horror monster and emasculated on a weekly basis. Good for Kevin Owens.

Having a John Cena Returns graphic feels a bit unnecessary for a guy who has been off of WWE TV for eight days. He’s been gone as long as he would have been had his plane to RAW last week been diverted because of engine issues. We can’t miss the guy if he won’t go the hell away for even a second. A John Cena return means nothing because, outside of those rare moments when he gets an injury that makes him sit out for ⅓ of the originally diagnosed time, he’s always there. And he’s always the exact same. Go watch a WWE episode from eight years ago. He’s the same as he ever was. Four years ago? Same as he ever was. Two years ago? Same as he ever was. The dude is such a fixed point, seemingly outside of the stream of time and change, that Captain Jack Harkness is sending him emails advising him to maybe get a new theme song or something. Sometimes Cena will briefly touch on an aspect of his character that seems to indicate depth or growth, but it is never followed up on. I know Cena is a thing that will have to be dealt with until he turns to dust. I just wish they could keep anyone good from ever ending up in his orbit. He should be on a constant loop of feuds with Big Show and Kane, and Mark Henry and Miz and (sadly at this point) Bray Wyatt. Let him have his inevitable victories so he can sell shirts. But just wall him up as tightly as an Amontillado connoisseur away from anyone that matters.

Why do we not have an entire album of Bray Wyatt singing children’s songs in a slow and creepy voice? The sheep mask wearing choir can make a cameo appearance. I would steal that off the internet.

Prime Time Players vs. Ascension

I don’t care if it makes sense or not. Titus O’Neal and Darren Young look so damn happy to be wearing the belts that I can’t help but support this title switch. Besides, New Day needs to start getting ready to fight Brock Lesnar on July 4.

That said, the production guys really earned their money looking for anyone doing the Millions of Dollars dance. If there had been a camera in my living room they would have gotten a shot of a fat white guy grooving along with it. Of course, if WWE had a camera in my living room they would probably take it away since I swear at the TV quite a lot.

They should have had Bray feud with Titus, being that he’s the FATHER OF THE YEAR!

Why not let the Prime Time Players actually say the things that they have Michael Cole saying on their behalf? A quick inset interview here would give these guys a chance to show their personality, get their catchphrase over, and maybe help them get a little more connection with the crowd.

My god I hate non-title matches. The whole concept of beating a champion in order to get a chance to compete for a championship just makes no damn sense.

Maybe I’m just in a generous mood tonight, but I thought PTP actually looked decent in that match. Couple nice throws/suplexed by Young. Titus used the power game well. The Gut Check finisher looked good.

Please wrestling gods let the interaction with Sheamus mean an eventual Titus vs. Sheamus feud. Winners: Prime Time Players

Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus

This could, in theory, be a fun match. But these sorts of matches where both men are in other feuds turns the whole thing into a waiting game to see which guy’s nemesis will appear first to cause a distraction finish.

Tiny thing admittedly, but the fact that Reigns is wrestling in body armor seems inherently unfair. When Sheamus went for the clubbering forearms it was silly to watch his blows bouncing harmlessly off of Roman’s flak jacket. I understand it is cool looking and part of his Shield look, but I think the time has come for Reigns to get less invulnerable gear. Watching Sheamus hit the repeated backbreakers once again it seemed like something that shouldn’t bother Roman too much given his protection.

The clothesline counter by Sheamus on Roman’s running boot was pretty swank. This sort of athleticism was one of the things that had people thinking Reigns could get the rocket push in the first place.

I can’t help but notice everything that is made less effective by the body armor. I don’t know why it didn’t bother me all this time, but now that I see it I cannot unsee it. How the hell can he be allowed to wear riot gear into a fight against a guy who doesn’t even have any melanin to protect him?

And it’s Bray with the distraction. Holy shit Roman Reigns has to be the dumbest man in the whole world. I’m assuming Roman Reigns does not live in or near Indianapolis. I’m guessing that he doesn’t just bring his daughter with him everywhere he goes like a lucky penny. So unless we’re to believe that Bray Wyatt can actually teleport anywhere in the world Roman just abandoned a match because he was afraid Bray Wyatt is actually a hell demon. And then he runs back to find a shrine that an emo 13 year old girl would create in honor of the girl who is dating the boy she has a crush on. I’m trying to be in a good mood here but this is just so damn stupid it makes me angry. Hell, I even forgot about how annoyed Roman’s body armor was making me so I could be annoyed about this whole turn of events. Winner: Sheamus

“Aw, come on guys, everyone loves those movies.” Seth Rollins trying to rebuild bridges couldn’t be more perfectly sleazy. He’s John Belushi in the mud, begging Carrie Fisher not to shoot him right between the eyes. His shamelessness is matched only by his willingness to beg without actually begging. His switching gears mid-argument is Bill Murray in Ghostbusters II trying to convince a cop he’s with the electric company, then the phone company.

Neville vs. Kofi Kingston

Xavier Woods is reminding Neville about gravity. Xavier Woods is making a hell of a case for Best Manager or Best Second or whatever the Observer Award is.

Why are they not making a TV show with Neville hanging out with the Prime Time Players? I would watch them having adventures and hijinks all the damn time. I would resubscribe the to the Network if they gave me Titus and Darren taking Nevile to a baseball game and explaining it to him.

Refs throwing out heel managers/seconds is always a guaranteed crowd pop. Not sure why it isn’t used more. Such a basic thing but it always works.

The consistency that Neville hits the Red Arrow with is really something worth mentioning. It always looks good, and it always hits right where it should. With a move like that he has to keep making it look perfect. Winner: Neville

King Barrett vs. Zack Ryder

What exactly does Little Jimmy need to be pardoned for? What sort of heinous crime could an invisible child commit that would require pardoning by royal decree? Did he fill Truth’s crown with spiders? Also, I think Truth has Kings and Popes mixed up. It’s the Pope who takes a new name upon ascension.

When even the announcers are noticing how often Wade Barrett loses that’s probably a sign that he’s losing too much. Considering these guys would have been just been realizing they were on a boat when they went down with the Titanic.

Zack Ryder just looks sad in the ring. His every movement is freighted with regret and defeat. This isn’t me doing hyperbole of schtick. I genuinely feel sad when he’s in there. The way WWE didn’t just pull the rug out from under him, but then pulled a lever so he went down a trapdoor into a sewage drain, ended up at a treatment plant, was fished out by WWE and then thrown off a cliff, it really sucked. Whether or not you think Ryder would have had legs as an upper card player, he was so cut off at the knees that there was never a chance to even make anything close to a reasonable judgment on him. Winner: King Barrett

JOHN CENA RETURNS!

Eight days was plenty. He might have been forgotten if they waited two weeks to bring him back after all.

Kevin Owens is a man fighting for his family and is trying to achieve the kind of fame and notoriety that would mean they never have to worry again. John Cena is a multi-millionaire living with a model who has a boob job and does not have a ring on her finger because John Cena doesn’t like commitment. Who’s the real dirtbag here?

Owens is seriously doing incredible work right now. I don’t have much to say about this promo because it’s like writing a review of Le Bernardin in between each course. That’s doing it wrong. Owens busting out the French and getting the boos that he just predicted he would get is the sort of thing you do when you’re in the zone. He’s got that Bullet Bob Armstrong promo swagger. Fair credit also given to Cena for using his legendary Mandarin language skills in that promo. Winner: It’s Always John Cena

“You think they would apologize to me? That would go a long way…” The sincerity in Seth’s voice and his face, the idea that these others should be apologizing to him. The balance of ego and fear is masterful.

Bella Twins vs. Naomi vs. Tamina

JBL is mixing up his Cervantes. Speaking of which I almost went to a restaurant called Don Quijote this weekend on my vacation. I was not able to guarantee that my waiter would be named Sancho Panza though, so I decided to take a pass.

Tamina can’t even do convincing looking stomps. Children pretending to wrestle at kindergarten are able to do that move convincingly. They don’t even teach that in wrestling school because it is just assumed anyone with enough control of their limbs to get into a wrestling ring is able to make this move look decent.

There’s not much more to be said. The Bellas are still not good either. Let’s just stack the bodies in the cellar, leave quietly one at a time, and pretend that none of this ever happened. Winners: Bellas

Ryback vs. Mark Henry

Big Show as a commentator is not a bad thing. In fact it is probably one of the best possible things. The one-liner about Saxton stealing Booker’s job was perfectly timed and delivered. I could easily imagine Show becoming the second best color commentator in years. First is of course William Regal, best color man in years.

As opposed to the color man we have now, who is mentioning Tom Mix. You want to know how old Tom Mix is? Tom Mix was a huge movie star when he was asked to be one of Wyatt Earp’s pallbearers. The Gunfight at the OK Corral Wyatt Earp. Tom Mix was in his first movie in 1909. This is the sort of commentary that is supposed to appeal to people born in the 2000s. At some point they have to start to bring the commentary into at least the last 20th century.

Holy shit, AIR RYBACK! Screw Kota Ibushi. I got your wrestler of the year RIGHT HERE!

Seriously though, I do love Ryback.

Mark Henry and Big Show have one of the most tempestuous relationships in this company. They obviously love each other, but they just can’t ever seem to make it work between them. It’s a shame, because it can be hard to find The One in such a crazy mixed up world.

Ryback brings broken families together. I wonder if his amazing powers can help heal the Show/Henry relationship.

It’s the clangy pipes! Haven’t seen those in a while.Winner: THE BIG GUY!

Dolph Ziggler vs. Adam Rose

And JBL follows up the Tom Mix reference with a Love Boat reference. Saxton drops neatly into the nostalgia pocket with a Saved by the Bell callback.

The hair and makeup are really just giving up the ghost on Lana being Russian.

Adam Rose and Rosa Mendes as Roger and Virginia Klarvin are entertaining as long as you view them through that lens. Imagine Dean Malenko describing to them how he recently engaged in the act of shinshi shinshi.

Mopey Facebook stalking Rusev is a sad comedic heel right now.

Every time Lana appears on screen I assume her only words are going to be “Oh My Gawd! Woooooo!” Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Main Event Apology

Sadly, I am pretty sure that this has been the name of other main event RAW segments over the years.

This show has been full of apologies. Brock apologizing for murdering JBL and Cole. Seth apologizing for being an awful person. Me apologizing for not paying attention to the Bellas match.

Seth really should be enlisting Ryback’s help here That’s a guy who knows how to bring a broken home back together.

Am I the only one amazed that they got Brock to spend the entire show there?

“First thought, best thought” – Jack Kerouac. This would have been good advice for Messrs. Mercury, Noble, and Jacobs.

Brock Lesnar should be at most mildly annoyed by a Kane chokeslam. No one in this company should be able to harm Lesnar with a single move. Only a multi-person attack like this, targeting a weak spot like a knee, should be able to slow Brock.

I’d crap myself for an Ambrose run-in to save Lesnar here.

Not sure what happened to Noble. He looked like he took a pretty normal bump into the railing but after that he disappeared for the rest of the segment. (edit: Guess he broke some ribs. Such is the power of Bork Laser. Hopefully we get some vignettes of his recovery where Nidia is tending to him.)

I don’t understand what the appeal of this was. I know why they think they did it. Have to make Brock seem beatable somehow yada yada yada. No one wants Brock to seem beatable. People want to watch this show with the promise of Lesnar suplexing Rollins until the ring gives out, and then F-5’ing Rollins to the very molten core of the earth. Making Brock seem vulnerable makes him less special and it makes Heyman seem less calculating since he didn’t see that coming and had no backup available in the event of an attack.

Well that sure was a show. How did they do answering our questions?

1. Will anything make any sense in the Authority storyline?

Not really. About the only way to read it is that this is a way to humble Rollins, make him come crawling back to Mom and Dad for assistance, and have him emerge chastened but still their champ. The problem is this is a shotgun against a fly approach. Seth Rollins is scared of pretty much anyone outside of Dean Ambrose and J&J security. There’s absolutely no in-story reason why you need to go from having him fight Dean Ambrose, the biggest loser not wearing a crown, to the wrestling equivalent of placing a call to R’lyeh. The Authority is dumb, and only survive because their enemies are dumber.

2. Kevin Owens is getting punked tonight isn’t he?

Owens did get to hang well with Cena, but Cena definitely got the last word and came out looking better from that segment. In another, happier universe this would all be leading to the double turn to end all double turns with Cena being enlisted by the Authority, Owens becoming a face, Rollins turning face, Reigns turning heel, and the Survivor Series main event of Lesnar, Owens, Rollins, Ambrose and Ziggler vs. Cena, HHH, Reigns, Sheamus and Rusev.

3. When does someone come help Paige?

Tonight she didn’t really have anything to do with the show. So I guess not tonight.

The awards for tonight go to:

  • Ugh: The Bellas vs. Naomi/Tamina was not pleasant. Tamina Snuka is not good at professional wrestling. She might want to stop doing it so much. Also, JBL for being so archaic in his references on commentary.
  • Honorable Mention: John Cena for his tri-lingual interview. Kevin Owens for being such a good heel he gets boos against John Cena. The Prime Time Players for just being happy to be there. Ryback for his aerial skills. Paul Heyman for being the best heel and the best face promo in the company. Brock Lesnar for making a handshake edge of your seat TV.
  • MVP: Seth Rollins His apologies and scheming and barely concealed fear was the highlight of the night. Since becoming champion he has been able to handle the multiple segments focusing on him without dragging the show down. Impressive work.

Have a good week everybody. If you enjoyed please share on Twitter or Facebook or Reddit. Hit me up at @spiffie6123.

Note: I was going to include my thoughts on the final episode of my Newhart re-watch here but it came in at approximately 45,000 words so we’ve decided to make it a separate piece. Look for it on the website in the next day or so.