Chris Jericho returns to the WWE. Photo credit: WWE.com

WWE RAW Report (June 30, 2014): Chris Jericho returns and battle lines are drawn


This episode of RAW was a night of big returns with Chris Jericho, A.J. Lee, and Miz each making their comebacks this past Monday.

While the big returns are certainly the headline grabbers, this episode of RAW also set up the path to SummerSlam after John Cena’s title win at Money in the Bank. While, I’m no huge Cena fan myself, I believe that last night’s results were really the only logical direction that the WWE could go.

I felt that the other superstars that could have gotten the title push would find themselves with solid programs to keep their respective climbs moving forward with Brock Lensar looming large on the horizon. This episode of RAW went a long way into making that prediction a reality.

However, the show definitely started a bit rough–an unfortunate staple of any Cena title reign…

Cena is revealed as the cover for WWE 2k15 which is apparently supposed to help turn him heel. Photo credit: WWE.com

Cena is revealed as the cover for WWE 2k15 which is apparently supposed to help turn him heel. Photo credit: WWE.com

And here’s the usual downside to a John Cena title reign: everyone goes stupid.

Does HHH watch the wrestling show that he runs? Nothing that he did in this segment made the slightest bit of sense based on what has happened throughout Cena’s career or even the events that have unfolded in the past month.

I guess when Stephanie said The Authority doesn’t live in the past, she wasn’t kidding.

First, The Authority begins to suck up to Cena in hopes that he joins them. This is the same guy that hasn’t budged from his unwavering Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect babyface role in a decade, yet HHH believes that some sweet talking and the cover of WWE 2k15 is finally going to turn him heel? Please.

HHH even admits he wasn’t expecting it to work and would’ve been disappointed if it did. Thanks for wasting our time, I guess?

So in response for Cena wanting to do things “the hard way”, HHH decides to stack the odds against Cena. Yes, he wishes to stack the odds against a guy that has made a career of overcoming ridiculous odds in every match that he’s in. The “lolCenawins” meme exists for a reason.

Not only that, HHH’s idea of odds stacking is a fatal four way pitting Cena against Randy Orton, Kane, and super-babyface Roman Reigns. Yes, Roman Reigns, the same guy who The Authority wanted to keep out of the title match and whose inclusion in it cost Vickie Guerrero her job. Is HHH trying to subvert his own plan before it even starts?

I don’t even care if HHH is threatening “Plan B” again. Plan A is terrible.

Cena is insufferable: Say “pool of crap” one more time, John. I’m not sure Stephanie or the crowd heard you the first five times.

Dean Ambrose appears on the TitanTron to let Seth Rollins know his dreams of cashing-in his title shot will be a recurring nightmare. Photo credit: WWE.com

Dean Ambrose appears on the TitanTron to let Seth Rollins know his dreams of cashing-in his title shot will be a recurring nightmare. Photo credit: WWE.com

Dean Ambrose threats are the best threats.

Rollins took momentum from his Money in the Bank victory and finally got himself a clean victory against RVD without a Dean Ambrose interruption. Well, until Renee attempted to interview him.

Ambrose appears on the Titantron and delivers an absolutely fantastic promo. Anything that begins with “from one scumbag to another” is destined for success. Continuing to call HHH “daddy” and adding “uncle Kane” to the family ensured it.

I had hoped that Ambrose would play a continuous foil to any of Rollins’ cash in attempts and I got my wish. Not only that Ambrose is more than happy about the situation, believing it will be far “more fun” than if he had the briefcase and I can’t help but agree. I can’t wait to watch this unfold in the future.

Bonus: Ambrose ending his threat with “believe that” was a fantastic final touch to call back to The Shield and its destruction that started this whole war.

Time for an awkward face turn that I can’t help but be excited about.

Let’s be frank for a minute about Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter going face and getting the super USA push against Rusev: it’s as uncomfortable as it is awesome.

You have two absolutely racist jerks that are now all of a sudden going against a big, bad foreigner because ‘MURICA. There was absolutely no transition to this at all and, as of now, there are no other motivations for those two besides wanting to shut someone up so they will stop insulting their country.

However, The Real Americans have never quite taken off as a complete heel group. The fans have always had this awkward relationship in which they will boo them, but at the same time, gleefully chant “We the People” and even get behind people like Cesaro despite the awful things that they stood for.

With that in mind, perhaps this face turn makes a lot more sense. Crowds have looked for a reason to cheer The Real Americans for one reason or another and all of a sudden they got that reason. The “We the People” chant was deafening and the crowd was on fire when Swagger went after Rusev.

So, yes, I’m excited for the potential that this program has, but at the same time it worries me. Zeb and Swagger need to transition into seeing the errors of their ways. It’s a delicate task that can easily be screwed up, but I have faith that Zeb can pull this off.

Zeb began laying that groundwork tonight. Rusev and Lana were detestable foreigners to him not just because they hailed from outside our borders, but because they were abusing the freedoms that Americans enjoy. No government is going to come down on their anti-American promos and it drives Zeb mad because he knows that he wouldn’t get the same courtesy in Russia.

That is by far the most noble motivation that Zeb has ever had since debuting the Real Americans. Continuing that trend will be good, but vocally distancing himself from their previous racist behavior would be even better. If they ignore that part of their past, it will remain an elephant in the room that could completely ruin this angle.

This match was fantastic. It's a shame half of it was ruined by terrible commentary. Photo credit: WWE.com

This match was fantastic. It’s a shame half of it was ruined by terrible commentary. Photo credit: WWE.com

The match was great, but the commentary was terrible.

I don’t have much to say about the match itself because it was fantastic. Had I been in the live audience, I would’ve had a blast watching this. Unfortunately, I was watching this on TV and subjected to the RAW announce team completely butchering their jobs.

This is a point I’ve mentioned in passing, but since I have nothing else to really say about this match, this is as good a place as any to elaborate.

I simply cannot understand how Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler all manage to completely go on a tangent and ignore the match that is in front of them. What happens is that someone will make a joke/talking point and then the entire team won’t let it go. Case in point, while these six guys were putting on a great show, we got about five minutes of the team discussing Luke Harper’s laundry habits.

What in the hell does a dirty shirt have to do with the match at hand or even the character in the ring? Harper’s dirty shirt has very little to do with his character. The otherworldly stares and his appetite for in-ring destruction, however, are. Why in the hell is the focus on a damned shirt when there are so many other factors that are much more relevant?

It’s infuriating. The announce team is supposed to sell the match going on in the ring, bring the characters to life, and engage the audience as deeply as possible. This isn’t their damn comedy hour.

Bo Dallas would like just a moment of silence, please.

Bo Dallas can be pure magic sometimes. He continues to find new ways to go over the top with his goofy motivational gimmick and the crowd continues to dig it.

This week, he wanted a “moment” of silence for Daniel Bryan and Bad News Barrett whose injuries took them out of action. Bo then solemnly knelt before the crowd, respectfully bowed his head in reverent silence…and remained there for well over a his stated minute. Even with the crowd making more noise as the time awkwardly marched on, Bo didn’t flinch which made the entire scene even more hilarious.

That hilarity aside though, I’m not sure what Bo was doing with the promo that followed. I can only assume this was an excuse to show a non-PPV audience footage of Daniel Bryan calling Bo a “BO-ner” because the WWE just can’t help themselves. Bo planting the seeds for a program against Daniel Bryan makes little to no sense, especially since Cena started the show saying as soon as Bryan returned, a shot at the title was his.

So yeah, this was awkward, but at least Bo still pulled something good out of the segment.

Don’t look now, but it appears the divas division is getting multiple storylines.

And the bonus here is that this one isn’t terrible like the Summer Rae/Layla disaster (which we get into yet again this week…).

The Funkadactyls breakup has been teased for a couple of weeks now, so seeing Cameron finally complete the heel turn was welcome. The last thing this story needed was for Cameron to horribly tease it week after week like she attempted to do on commentary while Naomi wrestled last week.

Too often the WWE tries to slow-play their hand and in some cases, the original plan becomes a terrible idea because they waited too long. So props to them to going ahead and running with this.

Stories don’t have to be complicated and tag team breakups are usually some of the easiest stories to tell. Here’s hoping the simplicity leads to some good entertainment for the divas division outside the title.

Have you been enjoying cheering Cesaro? Well, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news.

With Bad News Barrett now officially stripped of the Intercontinental Title, a battle royal was announced for Battleground for the vacated belt. Based on this segment, I would say that all signs point to Cesaro as being the favorite to capture that vacated title. After all, it almost looks like they are repeating the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal which he won at Wrestlemania.

Also based on this segment, the WWE might just be ready to move Cesaro away from the gray area of the babyface/heel dynamic to full heel. Cesaro decided to abandon the crowd-favorite Cesaro Swing and instead just decided to straight up murder Kofi Kingston after Kofi pulled off the upset (over the commercial break no less).

I am 100% on board with this new attitude. Having a wrestler play the gray area rarely works. The main problem with Cesaro trying this game is that the WWE paired him with the biggest heel manager possible in Paul Heyman so Cesaro trying to play both sides made little sense.

What does make sense though is Heyman representing a pair of true brutes. In Brock Lesnar he has a violent beast that has found success in both MMA and the WWE. In Cesaro he has the pound-for-pound shoot strongest man on the roster that can absolutely dismantle anyone in the ring.

That combination makes all the sense in the world and much easier to build a logical program around. Or this all could have been done as an audible since Cesaro suffered an eye injury during the match.

I’m hoping it’s the former because I will be incredibly sad if yet another one of my favorites goes down to injury.

You are dead to me Adam Rose.

Don’t be a lemon, be a rosebud terrible sellout shelling booze on a TV-PG program. Alcohol makes sad parties thrown by goofballs no one shows up to fun, kids!

Look, I understand that Rose is doing what he’s told and I have no issue mixing booze with wrestling, but this whole skit infuriated me. It’s the epitome of a lazy cash grab and someone probably thought they were very clever by having their kayfabe party animal do a live spot for booze.

I would’ve preferred Ryback eating pounds of Subway or the announce team trying to convince us that they really like their unopened Diet Mountain Dews sitting in front of them. That’s not a good thing.

Sandow’s is a perfect Vince McMahon.

As I said yesterday, I’ve come to terms with Sandow’s new gimmick and I’m glad I have. Instead of hating the McMahon cosplay, I accepted it for what it was and was able to enjoy Sandow pulling off the best Vince voices I’ve ever heard. Seriously, it was sublime.

It’s also a crime that had to get squashed by Kali after that masterful work too. Stephanie is the worst for that, but, hey, on the bright-side, Sandow is in a title match*!

*That he’ll have no chance of winning.

Welcome back, Miz! Now get upstaged by the real surprise.

There are times when the WWE can be the most masterful trolls. After teasing a return of a former world champion, Vince’s music hit, some folks in the crowd had to think “Really? That’s the champ we see return?” Once the Miz came out, and then grabbed the mic for a promo, I’m sure fans were lukewarm at best.

But then Jericho’s music hit and everyone lost their damn minds. Well played, WWE, well played.

However, I don’t want to completely dismiss Miz’s return. He delivered one of the better promos that he has in a long time. There were shades of truth in it as there are loads of WWE fans that think his title run a few years back was a fluke; however, like many good heel promos, there is also an element of delusion. Miz, fresh off his “Hollywood” stint now believes that he’s larger than life. Remember how big of a deal he was when we thought he could be the future in the WWE as he headlined Wrestlemania? Yeah, he’s bigger than that in Hollywood.

Miz claims he’s gracing everyone with his presence. In reality, everyone can see through that lie. We all know he’s here to prove people wrong and if he’s trying to channel the same stuff that pushed him to the top a few years ago, we know he will do whatever is needed to get there.

Further, Jericho interrupting him adds yet another layer to Miz’s pathos. Here he was getting his moment in the spotlight, talking about how great he was and then out walks a rock star to upstage him. And man, did that ever piss Miz off.

Miz did something that very few wrestlers do in promos and I wish they did more of: use history. Miz remembers the last time Jericho made a big return. He had his fancy jacket and didn’t say a word or do anything for weeks. Then, after losing a couple of matches, rode back out into the sunset with Fozzy.

Sure, Miz paid for his remarks, but that made them no less true and taking such jabs makes me hope that the Miz of old is back.

Bonus: Bray Wyatt v. Chris Jericho–Hell. Yes. Seeing the Wyatt family surround Jericho flat out gave me goosebumps. I want to see that in the worst way.

Note to self, be more clear with my requests.

From yesterday’s Money in the Bank Report, I requested that the WWE do:

Something, anything to empower [Summer Rae] and make her look like, oh, I don’t know, a competent, tough wrestler that isn’t in a glass case of emotion because of a breakup.

Well, the WWE…uh…well, they most certainly did something.

Summer Rae decided to come into ring right in the in middle of the Dolph Ziggler/Fandango match and decided to plant on right on Ziggler. I mean, I guess that’s some level of empowering and somewhat of a metaphorical middle finger for Fandago and Layla doing the same to her.

But then things got weird.

Ziggler decided to steal another kiss from Summer Rae and Fandango looked like someone shot his dog. Summer, apparently having all kinds of feelings of an unexpected make out session and watching the man she was trying to win back starting to fall apart decided to…walk out? And as she walked away from the ring both her and Ziggler just couldn’t help but stare at each other because surprise kisses meant to make another man jealous is a recipe for true love.

So now, we have moved from a love triangle to a couples fight. We just had Fandango and Summer feuding with Santino and Emma not too long ago so I guess it’s time to switch up the partners and add in sexual tension between everybody for the hell of it?

It’s just a mess. I can’t wait for Layla to make out with Dolph so Summer can feel betrayed by yet another man and then all four will hate each other. I will then, in turn, hate all four of them because they are becoming the worst possible human beings that have no idea how relationships work.

Stardust and Goldust continue their winning streak...against the same damn team. Photo credit: WWE.com

Stardust and Goldust continue their winning streak…against the same damn team. Photo credit: WWE.com

Look, I love Stardust and Goldust on my TV, but do they always have to face Rybaxel?

I still can’t get enough Stardust in my life, but can we please get him and his brother another tag team to face? Perhaps they can do single’s competition against someone? Anyone?

There will be no quicker way to kill my enjoyment of anything than to have the same thing on repeat over and over again. No matter how great the gimmick, it’s going to grow stale if no one else gets to react to it.

To Cody’s credit though, he seems to be pulling out a new finishing move every match. This time, we got a modified Flatliner (RIP, Kanyon). However, new moves can’t be the only thing keeping this fresh. Have them face Los Matadores and do some goofy humor thing with El Torito during the match.

I’m begging you, WWE, don’t ruin this.

One of my requests for the divas division was fulfilled!

Again, from yesterday:

This [Paige/Naomi] match should serve as proof the divas can put on solid matches. Now, if we can only give them a solid story to back it up, I’ll be thrilled.

It looks like that solid story has indeed been delivered by A.J. Lee who reclaimed her title after pressuring Paige into an impromptu rematch. In doing so, A.J. showed a bit of depth to her character that we hadn’t seen in a while. Yes, she went a tad crazy, but that’s because she let her success get to her head. She realizes her mistakes and she’s ready to right the wrong and it starts with getting the title back and showing Paige that she’s the top diva.

Paige, for once, finally showed a bit of character of her own. Previously, she really didn’t have one. She was just this meek girl that barely talked and managed to somehow continue to win matches despite being a rookie. When A.J. pressed for her rematch, Paige, for the first time showed true fear.

Once Paige saw the crowd wouldn’t let her back down from the match, she acquiesced. Then, she got vicious and unbelievably violent.

I have not seen A.J. forced to bump that hard for anyone. Paige looked liked she was about to break the girl in half. It was a side of Paige that we haven’t seen before and had all the makings of a heel turn.

A.J. managed to weather Paige’s violent storm and beat her via roll-up. Paige couldn’t believe it and was absolutely beside herself. The belt was the one thing she had that proved that she belonged on the WWE main roster instead of NXT in her mind. Now, she watched A.J. Lee stroll back into the WWE and skip around with her belt.

This has all the makings of a great rivalry that should be able to extend into SummerSlam. Here’s hoping that the eventual match between the two is given enough time to breath like Paige and Naomi got on Sunday.

The battle lines for SummerSlam have been drawn.

The main event itself was largely a throwaway match, but was there to start positioning future programs.

Obviously, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are going to go at it for a while and this failed cash-in attempt will be the first of many. I won’t be surprised if the cat and mouse game continues all the way up until SummerSlam. HHH seems to want Seth ready to pounce at a moment’s notice and I doubt he would want him mixing it up with Ambrose to put any future “Plan B’s” at risk.

I’m also hopeful that Ambrose manages to push Seth into a crazy decision like putting his briefcase on the line at SummerSlam. I could easily see Ambrose continuing antagonize Rollins and being completely content on just screwing with his cash-in chances until he goes back to “daddy” and demands a final resolution to this game.

Reigns staring down HHH was a very pleasant surprise. It also makes a hell of a lot sense in regards to The Shield’s breakup.

Dean is the crazy guy wanting to go after the person most directly responsible for the betrayal. Reigns though is far more calculating. He knows The Authority are the ones pulling at Seth’s strings so he went after their most precious asset, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Since we all know that there is a snowball’s chance in hell that Cena loses at Battleground, Reigns is going to have to find a way to make The Authority pay at SummerSlam. What better way to do that than to go after the man in charge?

As of now, I’m loving the overall direction that all the major players are moving to. If it all happens to play out this way, dealing with another Cena title reign will be more than worth it.

Tags: A.J. Lee Adam Rose Bad News Barrett Bo Dallas Bray Wyatt Cameron Cesaro Chris Jericho Damien Sandow Daniel Bryan Dean Ambrose Dolph Ziggler Erick Rowan Fandango Funkadactyls Goldust HHH Jack Swagger John Cena Kane Kofi Kingston Lana Layla Luke Harper Naomi Nikki Bella Paige Randy Orton Roman Reigns Rusev RybAxel Santino Seth Rollins Stardust Stephanie McMahon Summer Rae The Authority The Miz The Real Americans The Usos The Wyatt Family Zeb Colter