WWE Raw: The One Between Extreme Rules and King of the Ring
April 29, 2015 9:31 AM - Season 23, Episode 35 - Subscribe

Wait... King of the Ring? Yep, that's right. After an underwhelming Extreme Rules that saw one title change and little plot movement, suddenly Raw hosts the quarterfinals of an eight-man KotR tourney, to finish live on the WWE Network the next day.
posted by Etrigan (22 comments total)
(sorry this ends up kind of long, but WWE has me genuinely pumped up for the first time in a long time)

The mega highlight for me at Extreme Rules was the tag match. I thought that match was terrific, and I hope that rivalry keeps going for a bit. Assuming The New Day goes by the "Freebirds" rule, they should even be able to keep it fresh a little longer than normal by having more possible matchups. Everything else felt like a solid episode of RAW (not a compliment to a PPV, though I would have been super impressed if it had actually been a RAW). I want to cut them some slack, because I'm sure they were scrambling to some degree to fill time and create entertainment in the void left by Bryan's cancellation, but part of me is getting tired of cutting them slack. And maybe the fact that it was so obvious that so many of the feuds would continue (Lana getting another rematch for Rusev, illegal RKOs, Sheamus' post match nonsense) that the PPV didn't feel like a big match kind of night. And I think 3 of the matches didn't even have any semblance of Extreme Rules! How hard is that to keep up with, WWE?

But then, the announcement of the King of the Ring! So cool! With the respect and exposure Bryan/Cena are bringing the IC/US belts, a King of the Ring, it's almost like someone at WWE got the memo that they have a LOT of mid-card talent that people really want to see do something, and we're not all just sitting around waiting for the next Authority vs. Whoever Championship Segment.

Not only a King of the Ring tournament, but doing a mini PPV on the Network on a Tuesday night!? Someone in the Network marketing department is really wearing their thinking cap! On one hand, why not make it happen on RAW and be awesome? Or even its own PPV? On the other hand, the Network's gotta make money, and this was a pretty cool thing to try, so why not? Now I kinda hope they wait a month, strip Bryan of the IC title, and do another RAW tournament with the IC championship on Tuesday night again. (Note: I do not actually want Bryan stripped of the title, but if that's the way we're headed, as rumors have it, then it would be another fun excuse to get all these mid-carders hyped up again).

As for the King: so happy. I didn't hear the announcers mention it, maybe I missed it, but Neville was recently 2-0 against Barrett going back to a European Tour RAW and Extreme Rules. They definitely could have played that up more. I'll be honest, this match had me going, maybe I'm still too easy a mark. I like Neville, but was going to be put off if he won, shooting straight to the top of the mid-carders after just coming up from NXT. Dude's been on fire. Deservedly so, but don't burn him out, and for the love of Pete, some of those other guys deserve something other than to be immediately leapfrogged by the New Hotness. (oh, sorry, apparently officially the New Sensation?)

I really enjoyed Mania, felt like the intervening weeks have been a bit of a holding pattern, wasn't blown away by Extreme Rules, but am super excited following Monday/Tuesday. No idea if I should maintain my excitement, or be prepared for everything to settle down to mediocrity in the coming weeks.
posted by jermsplan at 10:01 AM on April 29, 2015

Lana getting another rematch for Rusev

And John Cena's LOLSHE'SAWHORE promo the next night.

Not only a King of the Ring tournament, but doing a mini PPV on the Network on a Tuesday night!? Someone in the Network marketing department is really wearing their thinking cap! On one hand, why not make it happen on RAW and be awesome?

There are conflicting rumors over whether they had intended for it to go for a few weeks to drum up Network subscriptions vs. it being part of a plan to get as many eyeballs as possible this week (see also Foley, Jericho, Mayweather specials).

(Note: I do not actually want Bryan stripped of the title, but if that's the way we're headed, as rumors have it, then it would be another fun excuse to get all these mid-carders hyped up again).

Honestly, at this point, I want him to retire. I'm genuinely afraid that he's going to kill himself on an Air Goat.

(oh, sorry, apparently officially the New Sensation?)

Oh, thank the gods. I heard that as "New Sexsation".
posted by Etrigan at 10:40 AM on April 29, 2015

I don't know if it's more me and how my attitude has changed since the DX days, but when Cena makes a LOLWHORE or LOLBITCH joke it always comes off really badly. Like, DX were immature assholes, so those types of jokes were them being immature assholes. But that's so far outside Cena's character that it comes off as a weirdly out of place misogynist remark from a guy who acts decent most of the time. Hustle, Loyalty, Respect (well, I mean, no one respects trashy hos, amirite guys?)

I don't know. I'm sure if I were a woman or a 30 year old married man during the attitude era I would have been upset by it then too.
posted by jermsplan at 11:23 AM on April 29, 2015

It's particularly jarring when you realize that he does it every time he's going up against anyone remotely connected to a woman except Stephanie McMahon.
posted by Etrigan at 11:34 AM on April 29, 2015

As a woman I find that stuff soooooo jarring. I didn't watch back in the DX days, but even seeing, say, Jericho come back and call Stephanie a whore or whatever his little whiz-bang routine is, or seeing replays of the old stuff on the Network, makes me hate wrestling so much.

(And then I watch Wrestlemania or go to a Shimmer event and fall in love with it all over again, dammit.)

I hardly even paid attention to Extreme Rules and started watching late, so I think I even missed the good early matches. I was out last night and didn't see the King of the Ring show but got home in time to catch the very end and I'm really pleased Barrett won. He deserves it, and it suits him and his character to wear a crown and hold a scepter.
posted by misskaz at 3:09 PM on April 29, 2015

Kevin Owens is the best heel working today.
posted by Etrigan at 8:09 PM on May 6, 2015

I know that I'm old. But seeing Axelmania and Macho Mandow do a note-perfect tribute to the Megapowers' handshake made me feel a little younger.

Even though I think Damien was over enough that he didn't have to keep up the mimic gimmick.
posted by Etrigan at 8:02 AM on May 12, 2015

Sandow seems stuck in a weird place. He is supremely over, and constantly entertaining. But the WWE doesn't seem likely to involve him in the US Title picture (I guess that could change following Payback?), doesn't seem like the WWE likes him enough to push him into the IC picture, and he's certainly not going to get any higher than that right now, as crowded as the top already is. So where does he go? Seems like a waste to have him and Axel ham it up at the bottom of the card for much longer. I guess we need good undercard talent, as long as he gets screen time shouldn't complain.
posted by jermsplan at 6:57 AM on May 13, 2015

As a newer fan, all I can think of when I see the (well-executed, I'll give them that) Axel-Sandow tribute or whatever to Hogan-Macho Man is "Can we please let wrestling move on?"

Sorry, it just doesn't do anything for me, and seems a waste of talent and air time.
posted by misskaz at 7:46 AM on May 18, 2015

Can we talk about NXT Unstoppable?

I haven't been watching NXT weekly so I had no idea what to expect from this special. Holy shit!

I love Finn Balor, though I wish there were a little more character development. (I could be missing backstage interviews and such since I haven't caught NXT every week.) It's all there in his gear/body paint: he calls upon an internal evil force to help him win but the cost to himself is great, so he can't do it all the time. There could be great storylines there about his agonizing decisions when to let the demon out and when not to, and walking the edge of losing control of it entirely. It might just need to be a little more explicit.

But anyway, his entrance I could watch over and over and over again and never get sick of it. When the crowd raises their hands in the air with him gives me chills every time. I described his new additions to his costume to a non-wrestling fan on twitter as like a Pokemon evolving. Oooh cool, now he has spikes and wings!

I also think Tyler Breeze deserves something more than big losses. Finn's my favorite male wrestler at the moment but I kinda felt like Breeze should have won this chance to get destroyed by KO.

Dat women's match, tho. Banks is perfect, and Lynch really put it all out there. Such an amazing match that I don't really have any complaints. I was tearing up with Lynch after it was over when she was getting love from the crowd. (And then on twitter WWE posted pictures of Triple H hugging both Banks and Lynch and saying he was proud of them, ahh!)

KO is, as Etrigan said, the perfect heel. I love that he came out in Cena's shirt. (Also hiiiiiii I marked out SO BAD on Monday watching him and Cena. Somehow I hate him for destroying Sami and love him for hopefully someday destroying Cena.) Last night was more of his master class in pro wrestling heeling. Loved Sami's aggressive attacks, loved KO's ruthlessness, it was great.

I don't know anything about Samoa Joe but interested to see where this goes.
posted by misskaz at 7:46 AM on May 21, 2015

Here's the crazy thing: Backlash was basically terrific in my opinion, RAW has been so good lately, and then Unstoppable was still like head and shoulders above everything else.

The women's title match on Unstoppable was so good. And the ridiculous thing is that there was a good women's tag match earlier in the night. There are plenty of fine "divas" on RAW, but I think WWE would be hard pressed to put on a good women's tag match and an excellent women's title match on the same episode.

Breeze was much higher up a year ago maybe? For a while, anyway, he was constantly in the main event or other top matches, and not always losing. He never did win the belt though, because of timing I think. Bo had it for sooo long, then handed it to Neville, who went to RAW and handed it to Sami, who handed it to Owens. Breeze peaked at the wrong time to win it, and since then has slid to be, as you say, the biggest and best jobber on NXT (actually, CJParker used to be pretty good for that, too, and I genuinely miss him). I think Breeze will rise again, but honestly the talent level at NXT is just stacked right now, so who knows where he'll top out.

Finn fucking Balor. That guy is nuts. He is doing "new face of fear" 100000000% better than Wyatt right now. Wyatt talks all the damn time about being the face of fear...then eh, whatever. Same shit. Dude is in a rut. Finn, on the other hand, just comes out week after week and does his talking with his wrestling. No paint, no excessive entrance, just a damn fine wrestler. Then, when it's go time, holy shit does that guy go. This is why it's important to not be at a 10 all the time. When you turn it down to a 7 or 8 for normal weekly shows, you can turn it up to 10 (or in Balor's case, maybe 11?) on a PPV and the crowd loses their minds. I kind of hope Finn never leaves NXT. I think he's too small and they will bury him on RAW. I think his craziness will shock people on RAW, and I think they'll force him to do it too much too often. Maybe I'm overly pessimistic, Neville is obviously holding his own on RAW. I just think Finn would be absolutely amazing as Cruiserweight champ, but nowadays he'll just be "undersized guy with a gimmicky entrance."

A guy I think will get largely overlooked in the PPV is Enzo. He apparently had no wrestling experience before getting signed to NXT, but the dude is the best on the mic I've seen since the Rock. So, no experience, and he's small. And when I started watch NXT regularly, Enzo was out for a long stretch with a broken leg. I think, though, he's been back and healthy enough now to start doing some serious training and lifting, and it really showed in the match. By far the best I've seen him work in the ring. I don't know how much better he can get, or if "semi-competent in the ring, but awesome as a manager" is his ultimate job, but I was really impressed by him at Unstoppable.

I've never been a fan of Baron Corbin. I am very impressed by his size and that finisher he does...but if that's all he's got then I'm tired of him. Putting him against a 40 year old Rhyno didn't seem like a good call to me. Frankly I don't think either is a good fit for NXT. WWE seems stuck in a weird place where NXT is supposed to be developmental, but it's actually so good most of the time that it's sort of painful to watch the genuinely developmental parts of it when they happen.

The title match was great, really had me going back and forth, not sure who would win. Owens is an amazing heel. Props to Regal, too, for being an excellent GM, loved the nose-grab of the employee who won't follow orders, and loved the headbutt to the man in charge even more. Master Class indeed. Those two put on a 45 second show in the middle of an amazing PPV that is the sort of thing that takes a bit from good to over-the-top.

All my Somoa Joe exposure comes from Impact Wrestling. I always thought he was great there (for a while he was at the top, and was one of the top 4 or so guys, week in and week out). I guess he has indy history with Kevin (Steen) Owens? I hope Rhyno's poor assimilation into NXT isn't a sign of a rough time for Joe. If anything, Joe's problem might be that the crowd will love him too much too early without him having to earn it. I'm sure he'd argue he's earned it over the last 2 decades, but what I'm saying is I don't really want him to rest on reputation and beat up on NXT guys. I want him to prove he's still got it, or stay out of the way of the new life.
posted by jermsplan at 12:25 PM on May 22, 2015

Also hiiiiiii I marked out SO BAD on Monday watching him and Cena.

You've seen KO's son Owen reacting to that, right?
posted by Etrigan at 7:44 PM on May 22, 2015

Well, we've broken the streak of Cena making guys look good in the Open Challenge.

I was all set to be happy about Rusev suddenly being Bulgarian again, but I do not care that much about him and Lana. Unless this is a way to mess with Dolph, in which case I'm behind it.

I'm pretty optimistic about the Tag Team Elimination Chamber match, and fully psyched to see what Kevin Owens is going to get to do against Cena, but the Intercontinental Elimination Chamber is kinda worrisome. There's a decent mix of big-and-decent workers and full-on workers, but the plotting will make or break it, and I can't remember the last time a multiple-participant match was plotted well. Seth vs. Dean should be fun but pointless (does anyone really think there's a chance in hell of an Ambrose win?), ditto Neville and Bo Dallas, and I don't expect anything out of the Divas match besides more dirt-sheet stories about how Stephanie and Hunter want so much to make good women's matches but Vince won't let them.
posted by Etrigan at 1:21 PM on May 26, 2015

No kidding, Etrigan. For a guy the crowd normally loves, in his home town, for the last show ever in that arena...oh well.

Tamina v Paige seemed really disjointed. I have always been a Paige fan, but is she showing some rust from her time off or is it fair to put most of the awkwardness on Tamina, who's been out even longer?
posted by jermsplan at 1:49 PM on May 26, 2015

I have always been a Paige fan, but is she showing some rust from her time off or is it fair to put most of the awkwardness on Tamina, who's been out even longer?

Word on the sheets is that Paige has been specifically collared by the higher-ups (*cough*Vince*cough*) for making the men look bad. She's been in the ring for literally longer than she's been alive, and a month off to shoot a movie shouldn't make her that rusty. I'm pretty willing to chalk it up mostly to Snuka being off for a while and slightly to Paige acquiring a sort of "Fuck this shit" attitude -- she's been working her ass off and getting over for more than a year now, and her reward is to play supporting character to a bunch of Total Divas stars who have managed to become Reasonably Good in the ring.
posted by Etrigan at 1:59 PM on May 26, 2015

KO is an amazing heel. The KO/Cena rivalry is the best feud going right now in my opinion. But I'm growing increasingly nervous about the outcome of their match. I feel like having Cena win hurts Owens and NXT in a way that does nothing for Cena or the US Championship. I feel like Owens winning will lead us into an awkward place where he leaves NXT with the title, or the US Championship leaves RAW (where it is currently doing a great job of giving mid-lower card guys a big match twice a week), or he tries to pull double duty which seems awkward as well. Oh well, maybe I should stop worrying and just enjoy the ride.

Speaking of Elimination Chamber, I've gone from not seeing PPVs for months at a stretch, to watching them on replay sometime the next week, to the point where I'm really excited for Elimination Chamber and am trying to figure out if I'll be able to watch it live while visiting my parents.
posted by jermsplan at 1:00 PM on May 28, 2015

Cena-Owens isn't a title match for either belt. I'm thinking it'll be a Cena win by DQ when Owens goes nuts on him and Samoa Joe comes out to make the save. With NXT allegedly working towards a house show tour, KO-SJ would be a great headliner.
posted by Etrigan at 1:49 PM on May 28, 2015

I'm in danger of becoming All Kevin Owens All The Time, but he just signed a main-roster contract (to replace Rusev, who got injured at Smackdown) that will run through the summer and will likely include him being in the Money In The Bank match.

posted by Etrigan at 4:57 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seriously, if I wasn't going to be out of town I would SO be at the Raw in Chicago on the assumption that Owens would be there.
posted by misskaz at 7:12 AM on May 31, 2015

Wow, that was the sloppiest PPV I can remember in a long time.

First, the mics were picking up in-ring directions throughout, at least once in every match.

The Tag EC match was pretty good except for the "climb to the top of the cage" spots, which both times resulted in a bunch of people standing around looking up like morons. It was nice to see the Ascension actually doing something, even if it was just knocking out two of the other no-chance teams. I legitimately thought the Prime Time Players had a chance at it at the end, which was about all I could have hoped for.

The Divas match was nothing particularly great. Ditto Bo Dallas vs. Neville.

But between those two... Owens over Cena was beautiful, both in result and execution. Twenty minutes of violent storytelling capped by a totally, one hundred percent clean pin. Owens came off as a legitimate badass who was able to stand toe-to-toe with the most popular and successful wrestler of the 21st Century and kick the shit out of him.

Then the IC EC match. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton weren't anywhere on the card, Stardust was on the pre-show, and they grab Mark Henry to fill in? Then Henry's pod malfunctions, and we end up with like a full minute of people standing around going "Uhhh... what do we do now?" I'm willing to give Ryback a chance with the belt, if they've cleaned the curse off it. (Hard to believe that this is his first title reign of any kind.)

The main event was about to be the best thing ever, and then they Dusty finished it, and fuck them for trying to make me care.
posted by Etrigan at 11:44 AM on June 1, 2015

I was unable to watch much WWE TV until this past week, when I essentially watched all of June's programming in fast forward with the exception of the PPVs, which I mostly watched. Etrigan, you are totally right about them pulling the rug out with the finish of Elimination Chamber. That hurt. My only hope at this point is that WWE realized they needed to wrap up the "Brock is mad at Rollins about WM" angle before Rollins loses the belt to Ambrose at Summer Slam, or else they'd never get back to it.
posted by jermsplan at 1:14 PM on June 29, 2015

terrible luck for Tyson Kidd, feel awful for him. Seems like his push was already fading, WWE seemed to have picked New Day over Kidd/Cesaro, but Kidd still seemed to be doing much better than he'd been doing in a long time.

Speaking of Cesaro, god I am amazed by the way I have been totally in to so many of these US Championship open challenges, even though the result was known before the opponent was named. This latest one was a good one.
posted by jermsplan at 1:09 PM on July 1, 2015

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