That car I tried to buy last week turned out to be in far worse shape than the owner made it out to be. He must have tried that trick on someone else before I called, because he was wrecked by the time I met him.

There was a discussion in the comments last week, the gist of which being that I might not be giving the good things in the show enough credit. There may have been a point there. Like so many of us, I come to the show freighted with years, decades of missed opportunities, inexplicable decisions, and times where it seems amazing these idiots can still be business. And while these are all true, sometimes a thing has to be appreciated for what it is. So tonight an experiment to be tried. For many of tonight’s segments, I’m going to try and put myself in the mind of a first time casual viewer, the mystical creature WWE is always trying to sell themselves to. Not an idiot, but someone who is bored on a Monday night, remembers Hulk Hogan and the Rock, and figures why not give the show a try. Open minded, and in retrospect would have thought last week’s match between Cesaro and John Cena was awesome. I can’t promise to maintain this for three hours, but I’ll try.

WWE Monday Night Raw
July 13, 2015
Atlanta, GA

Show opens with a recap of last week. Being a political science major I always assume the eleventh commandment was “thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.”

First Time Viewer Perspective: I’ve heard of Brock Lesnar. He really does not like Cadillacs. Also, he’s pretty terrifying. Not sure what the oily dude thought he would accomplish by sending those two little guys after Lesnar. The bald guy is very shouty and seems to be taking everything very seriously.

Brock Lesnar Promo

It’s always entertaining to hear the muted reaction to the fact that everyone (except Cena) that Lesnar conquered were favorites. Smartly Paul didn’t even mention the Undertaker.

Surely the Architect had to have been smart enough to insure the Cadillac against acts of God and natural disasters.

Good recovery. A better crowd would have done something with that instead of a retread Justin Bieber chant.

Brock talking is always a glorious thing.

Paul has a look on his face of confusion that someone decided to make Kane a regularly monologuing part of the show.

Uh oh, once Brock starts doing the pee-pee dance that means someone has to be thrown through something.

FTVP: Paul Heyman sounds like a tv preacher combined with Don King. It sounded like a bad idea to have those two come out for a contract signing, and Heyman pretty much confirmed my feeling. Why is the Undertaker’s brother running the show? Seth Rollins seems very confident for a guy ½ of Lesnar’s size. I bet he’s up to something. Why are the fans chanting “Justin Bieber” at Rollins, he doesn’t look anything like him. And where is Suplex City. It sounds like a rough place.

Ryback/Orton vs. Sheamus/Big Show

Seeing Sheamus reminds me of a vision I had while trapped in traffic this morning. With the possibility of Katsuyori Shibata being out of the G1 tournament due to injury, I demand Conor McGregor take his spot. He then wins the tournament. Then after Shinsuke Nakamura wins the IWGP belt and McGregor vs. Nakamura happens at Wrestle Kingdom 10 with the winner being named the coolest person in the entire world.

HOLY SHIT! AIR RYBACK! If Shibata is out and I can’t get McGregor in the G1 then I’m going to demand Ryback for G1.

I love weird Randy Orton gestures. He’s usually so vanilla, but every once in a while he makes a weird face or gesture that literally no one else in the company would do. The part where he put his hands up and was backing up outside the ring before going back on the attack was one of those weird little Orton things he does that make him unique.

Miz’s disingenuous commentary is still fun for me. “I want more Ryback. I want more Big Show.” He’s just a fan of hoss fights.

I ‘ve talked before about how Big Show is really his own thing. Sometimes he’s with good guys, sometimes with bad guys, but he’s always just Big Show. This whole story only works because Big Show can be put up against anyone, or any number of people with conflicting alliances, and the integral Big Showness of Big Show is so centered that anything can revolve around it.

The last 60-90 seconds of that match were hilarious and wonderful. From the moment Miz got on the house mic, to Show chasing him and Miz falling like in a horror movie, to Orton’s bonkers actions while waiting for Sheamus to turn around, to TOP FUCKING ROPE RYBACK! Brothers and sisters, 18 months from now when Ryback vs. Lesnar is main eventing WM 33 you will all be glad you were here for the first turn of the key on the Ryback turbocharged bandwagon.

FTVP: Ryback looks like a comic character come to life. Sheamus really needs a tan. Big Show is big, but why is he named after the old Olbermann/Patrick Sportscenter from the 90’s? And Randy Orton is weird. And why the hell is the dude from The Real World out there acting like he’s important and trying to fight those giant guys? Is this some sort of Jackass spinoff being filmed at the same time as the show? It would suck to have the Big Show stepping on you. Does this Viper have anything to do with the Red Viper from Game of Thrones? That guy was weird too. I think Sheamus is a pancake now after Ryback jumped on him. Fun match to watch, though could have done with less commercial breaks during it.

Winners: Ryback/Orton

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt

“The renewal of a great rivalry!” Oh shut up Michael Cole. Just shut up and never talk again.

Bray Wyatt stopped having followers a long time ago. There once was a time when those cell phones were held up by people excited to see Bray. But the days of crowds singing “he’s got the whole world in his hands” during a Wyatt match are long gone.

You would think that Dean, having been tormented by Wyatt for months, would have hung around to join in the beatdown. Guess he saw a shiny object and moved along.

FTVP: Man, the handsome dude sure does hate the fat cajun magician. People love to hold up cell phones. Why is the beard guy so special he gets his own cool entrance and graphics? Dean Ambrose didn’t really do anything crazy that I could see. Maybe he’s OCD or something and we just didn’t see him wash his hands 47 times.

The Bellas are…TALKING

Oh the only thing that makes me happier than the Bellas wrestling is the Bellas talking.

When was Nikki Bella in a movie? Seriously, did I miss this?

Stephanie McMahon interacting with the divas hasn’t been a positive thing since she and Lita main evented Raw.

Wait a minute…wait a minute…is this going where I think it’s going?


I believe it was Mr. James Ross who said “Business is about to pick up.”



Really, they have to put the black/ethnic girls together? Sasha Banks is sidekick to no one in this company.

Charlotte hopefully just tossed Tamina into oblivion.

Suggestion. Fire Tamina. Hire Madison Eagles as the muscle for Naomi. Let Paige bring in her mum for backup once everyone is at each other’s throats. Shoot the Bella twins into the sun or off to hang out with Eva Marie or whatever they do on Total Divas.

Holy god almighty that shot of the simultaneous submissions by Becky, Sasha and Charlotte. That was a moment that felt so damn important and symbolic. Nasty submission holds that look like someone trying to hurt another person. Not show who is the prettiest or the most popular or who has the best boyfriend. They looked like wrestlers who wanted to wrestle their asses off and their hearts out to see who is the best. That should be painted like a Romantic masterpiece in the style of Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People.”

FTVP: Who gives a shit what he thinks? I think this was the bee’s knees, the cat’s pyjamas, and any other weird saying that means awesome. If this doesn’t change things in WWE, nothing ever will. The talent is here. Is there creativity enough behind it to overcome years and years of fan training? We’ll see. But for tonight, that was the happiest I’ve been to see an “invasion” since the night the Radicalz popped up on Raw.

Winners: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

I had to stop and recenter myself after that segment. I popped as hard as I ever have in my own home. But back to the grind.

New Day vs. Prime Time Players and Mark Henry

Big E ripping Atlanta for shutting down due to an inch of snow should be bottled.

New Day after Big E hit the line about Prime Time being out of time…

If this match doesn’t give me Mark Henry doing the Millions of Dollars dance I might quit this review right now.

JBL just called New Day the Gleebirds. I know what he means, but yet I have no idea what he means. JBL contains multitudes. Sadly they’re all on the bus from the Dream Team.

Titus shouldn’t be getting heat. I know Mark Henry is Mark Henry but still. Let Darren get the heat, let Mark Henry be the hope spot, then Titus murder everyone with dog barks and nonchalant tosses.

I got all I needed out of that match. Mark Henry did the Million of Dollars dance. I can die happy now.

FTVP: This all feels kind of racist. Clapping and preaching black guys vs. dancing black guys in Atlanta? Whole thing feels a bit queasy given current events.

Winners: Prime Time Wig Splitters

Wade Barrett vs. R-Truth

Isn’t the entire point of the King of the Ring tournament that you get to walk around with a cape and a crown? Why is that a problem for Michael Cole?

JBL goes from awesome to awful at warp speed. The ZZ=Michael Hayes joke was great. The use of R-Trizzle was awesome. The TL Hopper reference was solid.

FTVP: These people seem to think that these people are actual royalty. I’m not sure I need to watch much more.

Into every life, a little Cena must fall

Oh no! Run Rusev Run! Last time you two met you ended up losing your foot, your tank, and your lady.

Nothing about this makes any sense. When they come back from commercial it better be Rusev, Owens, and Cesaro all beating up on Cena.

Instead it is:

Rusev vs. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro

Another great honorable moment for John Cena, getting to relax while three men beat each other senseless and then getting to pick on the bones of the winner. And he doesn’t even have a bit of remorse or desire to make things more honorable.

That moonsault by Owens looked like his thigh caught Rusev square on the noggin.

There have been some very cool and exciting spots in this match, but the whole thing has just felt a bit slow and disjointed through the first while.

I see what they’re going for here, but these three guys were not in the spot to do this long of a match. It’s been so slow and full of people laying down and selling pain that HHH and HBK are saying to stand up and fight.

Once Owens left the pace picked up. Quite impressively so given how long the match had already gone.

That plancha by Cesaro was just amazing. That was a Daniel Bryan level plancha.

This wasn’t quite the classic they were trying to make it, but continues a streak of weeks where we’ve had a very damn good match on Raw.

Winner: Rusev

John Cena vs. Rusev

Cena as the don’t give a fuck veteran here is kind of wonderful in a way. He’s like the grumpy old Japanese guys who come in and wreck young boys to show them who the boss is.

Rusev getting the massive hope spot

Owens is going to make everyone in the company a face except for him, kind of John Cena, and Miz.

FTVP: That whole thing was very busy. I have no idea who the “good guys” or the “bad guys” were in that whole thing. The good guy seemed to be the United States. For some fat looking guys Kevin Owens and Rusev have a lot of stamina, especially Rusev. I don’t remember guys wrestling in t-shirts back in the 80’s when Saturday Night’s Main Event was on. What was the point of Kevin Owens ever coming out in the first place? If he was just going to ruin a match why get beaten up and then have to come back out? Cesaro’s forearms look like they actually kind of hurt.

Winner: Technically LOLCENAWINS

I know the WCW fanbase is mostly dead and gone but still, how do you not have Booker T on the mic in the ring in Atlanta?

It just struck me. ZZ looks like a younger, chubbier faced, Gangrel. He and Patrick get the two biggest pops. Fitting since those are pretty much the only two I could imagine ever stepping foot in a WWE ring. ZZ as a comedy jobber, but still maybe he could get a chance. If it leads to me hearing the Brood’s entrance music one more time the whole show is worth it.

Recap of tonight’s events between Reigns and Wyatt

FTVP: Why are they showing this again? I already saw this. And what’s with the other shows I need to watch to keep up? Total Divas? Tough Enough? Battleground? Do I even get the WWE Network on my cable package? How many hours a week do I need to give these people?

The brief Dusty reference in Stardust’s promo made me smile a sad smile. Also the graphics for Neville vs. Stardust were seriously awesome. Why the hell don’t we get more unique things like that?

Stardust vs. Neville

I like to think that Dusty taught his kids not to trust anyone.

Neville lasted longer than Kalisto as an important thing in WWE, but he’s pretty much just a midcarder with a highly protected finisher. I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise. Everyone has to be broken back down after their first taste of success in the company. It’s the Vince way. Hell even the golden child Roman Reigns is in a meaningless midcard slog against Bray Wyatt.

FTVP: I don’t know what happened, but I think I just watched the Riddler fight a hobbit.

Winner: Stardust

Main Event Contract Signing

I truly well and deeply love that the only genuine smiles Brock Lesnar ever gives are when the conversation is about him causing great harm to another person. It’s not a stage smile where he wants to show everyone “Hey look at crazy Brock!” Nope. That’s the satisfied look of a man who is thinking about violence and it makes him happy like a man just settling into his comfiest chair.

I’m a bit disappointed that Brock doesn’t just drop a deer carcass or something on the table and call that his signature.

Please let this be how they write Kane off tv for a while so he can go campaign for Rand Paul or something.

I like that they had Rollins come back into the ring at the end of the show. I was all set to begin wrapping up because the show always ends at the point of Lesnar with the belt and Rollins in retreat. Especially because it gives us unhinged and alone Rollins, desperately trying to convince himself and the world that he’s able to do it. Even to the point of mocking and stomping an injured old Uncle Glenn. Now Seth is alone against the world. Is this HHH’s master plan? Is this Paul Heyman’s master plan? Is this The Shield’s master plan? Is this the Higher Power’s master plan? Is this Mr. Wrestling III’s master plan? Is this Raven’s master plan? All will be answered on Sunday. Maybe. Hopefully. Probably not.

FTVP: Why is the guy in charge of the show attacking one of the people on the show? That seems like something that probably shouldn’t be happening. And for a guy in charge, he sure doesn’t get much respect. Both guys end up beating him up. I want to work at a job where I can beat up the management. If one of the guys hadn’t signed the contract what would have happened this Sunday? I don’t think an axe handle would be enough to get me to take a run at Brock Lesnar. It would need the axe attached. At least.

Winner: Kane, assuming he gets to back to Hawaii to recuperate.

FTVP Wrap Up: That’s a lot to take in. You watch this every single week? It wasn’t bad, but that’s a lot of commitment.

Grizzled Old Viewer Wrap Up: That’s our show for tonight. It really was a better effort than a lot of weeks. A historic moment with the NXT women debuting in what I really really hope is a moment looked back on a few years from now as a turning point, rather than the night three more “bitches be crazy” types debuted. When good wrestlers get to wrestle good matches, the product is fun to watch. If there’s a possible social/ethical/whatever benefit that accrues from who the people wrestling are, that’s all the better.

Time to go. Taking the first time viewer out for ramen to try to convince him to stay around for another week. If he leaves, we may have to call in some very young reinforcements.