Meet Stardust, the new alter ego of Cody Rhodes and your new hero. Photo credit: WWE.com

WWE RAW Report (June 16, 2014): Stardust debuts and everything is awesome again


Hello again, welcome to another edition of the RAW Report

This week, I am incredibly excited because we saw the debut of Stardust, a wrestler I never knew that I wanted to see, but is now going to be my favorite wrestler on the roster.

Plus, we also saw some pieces finally come together for the Money in the Bank PPV. Last week, everything was a mess and there wasn’t a clear direction for the entire product. This week, the WWE put everything back on the rails.

Let’s get to it.

The Authority addresses the WWE locker room. Photo credit: WWE.com

The Authority addresses the WWE locker room. Photo credit: WWE.com

“John Cena won’t be in the battle royal to have a shot at the title, but we will still find a way to put him in the title match.”

Cena being involved in the Money in the Bank ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Title is about the most obvious thing in the world. So when HHH decided to announce that Cena wouldn’t be involved in the battle royal to fill the last spot in that match, I was legitimately happy and hopeful for something completely unexpected.

And then, HHH put Cena in a stretcher match with Kane to earn his way in.

Look, I understand all the reasons for putting Cena in a title match. It’s the most predictable thing ever because it makes sense. However, don’t have HHH go out there, say it won’t happen and give several good kayfabe reasons why only to give Cena a way to sneak back in to the title match.

All of those reasons HHH gave, by the way, made perfect sense. Cena went out and was an incredible jerk to The Authority, going as far as calling Stephanie a bitch, just because he wasn’t happy with how Bryan was being treated. He crossed the line and stuck his nose into Bryan’s business for no real reason other than he’s John Cena, so Hustle, Loyalty and No Logic, let’s do it.

Don’t go through dumb logic gymnastics just because it looks like a psuedo-swerve. It’s pointless and looks incredibly ridiculous, especially when we all know how it’s going to end at this point.

I will take one positive away from this segment, though, and that’s the fact that WWE is going to make sure we don’t forget about Daniel Bryan. The B+ player insult continued and helped goad the crowd into having an excuse to keep the “YES!” chant alive another week. Get well soon Bryan, you are missed and your employer certainly believes it as well.

Give Dean Ambrose the mic, he wants to pick a fight. Photo credit: WWE.com

Give Dean Ambrose the mic, he wants to pick a fight. Photo credit: WWE.com

When I ask for logic in WWE segments this is exactly what I mean.

These two segments were just spectacular, and it all started with the match between Ziggler and Rollins. The best two bumpers in WWE face off against each other achieving two things:

  1. Ziggler gets to look great in front of his home crowd.
  2. Rollins, who is getting the big heel push, also gets to look fantastic.

The match ended in a disqualification with Ambrose running in to get some revenge on Rollins. However, it is important to look at the timing of when he did so. Ambrose waited until Seth hit his finisher which allows the crowd to remember that Seth would have legitimately won this match. That helps build the rivalry he is having with his former Shield partners.

After all, he wouldn’t be much of a believable architect if he’s constantly losing.

Now, I’ve written before how babyfaces tend to look like heels with sneak attacks and attacks from behind. In this case though, Ambrose is clearly going for revenge, which can give a babyface some latitude; however, the more important part is that he stays out for the fight. He didn’t come out to make Rollins lose, but to beat the hell out of him.

Further, consider the character that Ambrose plays: an unhinged madman. Running in the middle of a match to go pick a fight? That’s completely within character and Ambrose is the more logical choice to shove into this action as Reigns is the cool calculating powerhouse that is jockeying for position for a vacant title so their other enemy, Evolution, can’t get a hold of it.

Everybody has their role in this segment, including Bad News Barrett, who was more than happy to be the hired gun. After all, who would love to spoil plans of Dean’s attempted revenge than him? Additionally, the guy has a kayfabe background as a bareknuckle fighter. That’s the perfect guy to go throw at someone looking for a fight.

A madman doesn't need logical motivations and that makes all the sense in the world. Photo credit: WWE.com

A madman doesn’t need logical motivations and that makes all the sense in the world. Photo credit: WWE.com

The other thing I ask for: continuity.

And the second segment of Barrett v Ambrose had it in spades.

Rollins’ interference in this match fails and Dean manages to get the upper-hand on the entire situation. When he does, Ambrose doesn’t give a damn about the match in the ring and follows Rollins, getting counted out in the process. Sure, it’s another DQ-style Dusty Finish, but Ambrose wasn’t there for Barrett, he wanted Rollins in the first place.

And what does Ambrose do after he gets a piece of Rollins? He comes back after Barrett and blindsides him. Why did he do it? Who knows, but he immediately went to the outside of the ring after and starting talking to his own fist.

The guy is nuts and he’s pissed. He’s out there to fight and he doesn’t exactly give his actions a lot of thought (see: doing a suicide dive with a bad shoulder).

Yes, Dean’s lack of logic is actually the perfect logic.

Bonus: Man did Dean do a solid job of selling his shoulder injury. He had a couple of lapses, but it was one of the best injury sell jobs I’ve seen in a match in a long time. Little things like that make matches so much more enjoyable for me as it gives wrestlers reasons for why they do things in the ring.

Roman Reigns is the first person to treat Vickie Guerrero like a human in ages.

Vickie Guerrero is a fantastic character. The woman knows how to get heat like none other. However, just about everything she gets involved in is some stupid gag to demean her. Even worse, when babyfaces interact with her, they all immediately stoop to the lowest possible level (example).

There’s something very wrong when your good guys become bullies, making fun of Vickie’s weight and call her some version of a cheap prostitute.

So enter super-babyface Roman Reigns, who is looking to find his own backdoor into the battle royal. Sure, he’s doing some manner of manipulation with Vickie to get what he wants and thus get back at The Authority; however, all he does is treat Vickie like an actual person and tells her the God’s-honest truth that she deserves a lot better than being The Authority’s coffee slave.

Why can’t more interactions with Vickie and babyfaces be like this?

I could do without: the eyedropper in the coffee gag. WWE loves them some puke/poop jokes and it’s really rare they enjoy them the way the WWE uses them.

Bray's followers grow every week and his entrance is now hauntingly awesome. Photo credit: WWE.com

Bray’s followers grow every week and his entrance is now hauntingly awesome. Photo credit: WWE.com

Watch as Bray pushes two matches at the same time.

My biggest complaint and concern last week was the Money in the Bank was just around the corner, but WWE only had a partially booked match. I don’t expect WWE to have a the card complete, but there at least needs to be very obvious signs to where WWE is going so the PPV push can work.

In a move that I hoped would happen, WWE.com announced that Harper and Rowan would face the Usos for the Tag Team Championship. I was a little concerned the off-screen treatment would kill any chance for this match to get a real push.

Thankfully, WWE employs Bray Wyatt. He didn’t just push his part in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, but put the tag team match over as well.

He doesn’t need to give much motivation for doing so. He’s after power because that’s what’s needed in this world. Getting the big belts aren’t enough for him, he wants his family to get all the power and that means the tag titles as well.

It’s been a long time since anyone really seemed to care about the tag team titles since the Usos took them from The Shield. Ever since then, those belts have been a non-factor and aren’t even a regular PPV feature at this point.

It’s great to hear someone talk about the tag titles in the same place as the big belts. It’s been sorely needed for some time and I hope this is a good sign for not just Money in the Bank, but the tag division as a whole.

Bonus: Bray is so incredibly over and the crowd is all in. His entrance looks amazing with an entire arena of cell phone lights.

Have all the Dusty Finishes you want if crazy spots off a ladder are the result. Photo credit: WWE.com

Have all the Dusty Finishes you want if crazy spots off a ladder are the result. Photo credit: WWE.com

Another non-finish, but I’m still fine with it.

Matches don’t always need a clean finish; in fact, sometimes the story-telling works better by doing so. This was one of those matches.

Bray came out to promote both his match and the tag match. The match between him and Sheamus further helped the former, and Harper and Rowan interfering helped promote the later when the Usos got involved.

Further, we got a couple of cool ladder spots to help whet our appetites for what we might see in the PPV.

This is how you build matches. A casual fan dropping in on this match could very well be sold on two different matches in just one segment.

More of this please.

It's ok Heath, I'm angry 3MB is no more too. Photo credit: WWE.com

It’s ok Heath, I’m angry 3MB is no more too. Photo credit: WWE.com

I’m still mourning the death of 3MB, WWE.

Yet you run Heath Slater out there to sadly reprise his “One Man Band” role because you fired his buddies. If that wasn’t enough, you sacrificed him to Rusev.

And poor Heath actually gets brave and stands up to Rusev…only to get murdered in the process.

I’m just going to watch this tribute on a loop because there is too much sadness:

My reaction to the entire Vickie gets puked on segment:

If there was a silver lining to Vickie being the victim of projectile vomit, it was that it allowed Roman Reigns in the battle royal by continuing to be the only person to treat Vickie like–well, a person.

Think about it this way: the last person that didn’t treat her like dirt was a pre-bully gimmick Ryback when he hugged her after she got fired.

That was nearly a year ago.

Kevin Hart is on RAW!

I understand why the WWE drags celebs of all kinds on to their shows. They are trying to bring in new viewers, but for me, these segments drive me nuts.

Hart has a nonsensical interaction with Adam Rose who tries to recruit him as a Rosebud. Then, he’s the guest commentator for a Fandango/Layla v. Adam Rose/Summer Rae match that lasts all of two minutes.

To top it all off, no more than a minute or so after he says the idea of joining the Exotic Express was stupid, he’s crowd surfing with the rest of the Rosebuds.

After so many great things on this episode, the Vickie puke segment followed by this was just terrible.

Also, the Layla/Summer Rae beef escalated from milk to kitty litter. Stop this. Please.

Spoiler alert: Damien "LeBron James" Sandow doesn't far too well. Photo credit: WWE.com

Spoiler alert: Damien “LeBron James” Sandow doesn’t far too well. Photo credit: WWE.com

Here’s a fun battle royal as an apology for the past thirty minutes or so.

It’s almost impossible to screw up a battle royal and this match did not disappoint.

Roman Reigns got to do his Royal Rumble “eliminate everyone” bit for the second time. The final two was a super-human faceoff against Rusev and there were multiple eliminations via Superman Punch.

There was even a bit of humor when Bo Dallas tried to make an inspirational friend of Bad News Barrett and watched it backfire on him. Same for the start of the match when Sandow, clad in a LeBron James Jersey, got immediately eliminated

Finally, Kofi didn’t have a crazy save-himself-from-elimination spot, which was good. Those need to be reserved for the Royal Rumble or he’s eventually going to run out of fresh ideas and will start repeating the same tricks. His mere presence in a battle royal gives the idea that something could happen, but holding it off until a big PPV payoff is key.

The Funkadactyls, sans Brodus Clay, make their entrance. Photo credit: WWE.com

The Funkadactyls, sans Brodus Clay, make their entrance. Photo credit: WWE.com

WWE is having too much fun reminding everyone who’s released.

Funkadactyls coming out to Brodus’ music is TOO SOON AGAIN. Yes, I know it is theirs too, but it’s too hard to not associate that music with Brodus Clay.

On the bright side, the WWE has found more heel opponents for Paige that isn’t Alicia Fox. Cameron is going heel, and I suppose it’s cool for her to do so since Total Divas is off the air for now.

The divas division needs more of this. If Paige is going to be the top dog, she needs to be taking on more than just the same opponent over and over again.

Bonus: Jerry Lawler actually contributed to a divas story build. During the match he mentioned that Naomi wasn’t too happy with Cameron’s new attitude, so a split/rivalry should be on the way. That will give the division two separate rivalries that don’t include the title which is great…even if one does include a kitty litter fight.

Stardust and Goldust, hereby dubbed the Dusty Brothers by me, celebrate their victory. Photo credit: WWE.com

Stardust and Goldust, hereby dubbed the Dusty Brothers by me, celebrate their victory. Photo credit: WWE.com

Stardust is a wrestling dream come true.

This episode of RAW was fairly solid, but Cody Rhodes debuting as Stardust and giving the Brotherhood (they need a new name…Dusty Brothers is the leader in the clubhouse right now) new birth, is just amazing.

It wasn’t just the visual of Cody either, but the way that he completely threw himself into this new creation. The interactions between himself and Goldust were just perfect.

Tag teams based on friendship are great. Tag teams based on family are even better. Tag teams based on a crazy, deviant character whose brother reinvents himself into a similar deviant character in order to form a closer bond and stronger team is on some other level that I can’t even describe.

I’m so happy that I was wrong on this. I figured Cody would eventually turn on his brother after running through terrible tag team partners every week. This is so much better than that plan and I’m glad the WWE still has surprises like this up their sleeve.

Eventually, this team will breakup and Rhodes v. Rhodes will happen, but now is not the time. Until then, long live the Dusty Brothers.

Bonus: The RAW Fallout is simply fantastic:

Come on, did you really expect anything else? Photo credit: WWE.com

Come on, did you really expect anything else? Photo credit: WWE.com

So this main event went as expected.

I’m honestly not going to waste any time saying how Cena shouldn’t have won this match, that the result was obvious, or anything else along those lines. I’m doing this for few reasons:

  1. With Bryan out, the WWE needs a super-babyface to sell the title match and Cena’s really their only option right now.
  2. The alternative result was Kane, and while I personally have no issue with him, it makes no sense to add him to the title match as constructed.
  3. I was far too happy about Stardust to really give a damn.

That all being sad, I do have a couple of complaints.

The first is that Cena once again threw the stairs at someone’s head. The spot isn’t even a month old and now I’m used to seeing it. This is after I lost my mind seeing it for the first time at Payback.

Remember when I said I was glad Kofi didn’t do a crazy elimination saving stunt? This is why. You can’t let these things get routine or you have nothing to sell your PPVs on. Cena throwing the stairs at Wyatt should’ve been a unique moment, and he managed to kill it.

Second, the match ended with Cena hitting Kane with the AA on top of a padded stretcher. I can’t suspend my disbelief that such a cushioned impact incapacitated Kane.

Those issues aside though, this match did what it needed to do, and now I need to brace myself for the very real possibility of yet another Cena title reign.

 

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Bad News Barrett Bo Dallas Bray Wyatt Cameron Cody Rhodes Damien Sandow Dean Ambrose Erick Rowan Fandango Funkadactyls Goldust Heath Slater HHH John Cena Kane Kofi Kingston Layla Luke Harper Namoi Paige Roman Reigns Rusev Seth Rollins Sheamus Stardust Stephanie McMahon The Authority The Usos The Wyatt Family Vickie Guerrero WWE Raw