WWE RAW Report (Nov. 11, 2014): John Cena overcomes the odds, fills Survivor Series team


Yes, the title is a tongue-in-cheek John Cena joke. I haven’t suddenly changed my mind on how I feel about Cena and his god-like persona.

In all seriousness, this episode of RAW was good for what it was. Typically, the taped UK episodes of Monday Night RAW leave a lot to be desired and are largely forgettable affairs. This episode at least had progression, setting the stage for the Survivor Series main event as both Team Cena and Team Authority finalized their rosters by the end of the evening. There were even a couple of surprises, even if one was beyond blatantly telegraphed.

That telegraphed surprise was the babyface turn of Ryback, just a couple hours after his heel turn (an actual surprise) in the first segment of the show. I don’t mind the WWE foreshadowing future events as that’s good story-telling. I don’t even mind the WWE holding the audience’s hand a bit more than they should because, after all, this is a TV-PG show that kids are trying to follow.

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However, the WWE took this hand-holding to the extreme with the Ryback angle. They might as well of installed a big, flashing neon sign on the stage that lit up with “It’s just temporary, folks!” immediately after Ryback planted Cena on the canvas.

Even before the backstage conflict segments with Kane, Seth Rollins, and finally the entire Authority, the announce team immediately talked over practically the entire Jack Swagger/Seth Rollins match in crazed discussions of Ryback and WHAT SIDE IS HE ON?! Man, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler really thought that Ryback was different. What a shock that he turned on Cena and sold out! I mean can you even believe this?!

Just let the moment speak for itself, don’t kill it. Photo credit: WWE.com

Take that above commentary, loop it for five minutes, and it’s impossible to suspend disbelief any further. Considering this episode was taped, I’m shocked they didn’t try to tone that entire narrative down just a little bit in post-production. The entire announce team oversold this “shock” so much that they killed any eventual surprise of Ryback’s double-cross of the Authority.

Quite frankly, this has been one of the many problems with the entire announce team for some time. To avoid going into a subject that would be yet another full post, let me just say they would help themselves out immensely if they would just quickly recap a previous event and spend more time on calling the actual match in front of them. Focusing on the action right in front of them would immediately solve a multitude of issues like the spoiling of a future swerve or ruining any enjoyment of the match that’s currently on our TVs.

Now, the other new members of team Cena weren’t a shock either, but they are much more tolerable than the announce team’s butcher job because the matches and previous rivalries told the obvious story. Mark Henry is announced as a member of Team Authority? You bet the Big Show will make an appearance and join Cena’s ranks. Rusev and Sheamus wrestle to a no-finish with Authority assistance? Why that’s another obvious pairing!

I have no issue with any of those additions. Simple and obvious are perfectly fine when presented in that fashion. The WWE too often does more than they need to in order to lead the audience from point A to point B and it drives me up the wall.

However, I can almost forgive the WWE for spoiling their own show in this instance. My focus on that annoyance made the Luke Harper reveal as the final member of Team Authority at the end of the episode truly shocking. So maybe the WWE focusing on one of my pet peeves simply served as a red herring to work me and throw me off the trail–or at least, that would be the optimistic way to look at it.

And I’m going take that optimistic outlook this week. I expected absolutely nothing from this episode and actually got something fairly decent. There weren’t any ridiculous UK-themed matches or backstage segments. The majority of the matches were decent. The story progressed enough so that the WWE won’t be scrambling to fill the Survivor Series card during the go-home episode.

I’ll take it.

Five Takeaways from the Night

As always, these are the moments that stuck with me after RAW went off the air–good, bad, or indifferent.

1) I’m incredibly pumped for Survivor Series.

The Survivor Series main event match alone has the potential to be a ton of fun. There are multiple hoss fights that can break out at a moment’s notice with heel Mark Henry, Sheamus, Rusev, and Ryback in the same ring. Mix in Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler selling like madmen and this should be all kinds of entertaining. As an added bonus, with so many moving parts, this is actually a moment where “lol Cena wins” actually has a chance to take the month off.

But beyond the main event, I can’t wait to watch Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt square off in what I’m hoping will be quite the compelling rivalry for the remainder of the year. I have a feeling those two are just getting started.

The WWE is taking a big gamble in making this event free and I’m hoping it pays off in a big way.

2) Mizdow is so incredibly over.

And what’s even better is that the WWE knows it. This was the first match in which the Miz started to show some serious heel tendencies towards his stunt-double. Not only that, Miz added Hornswoggle to the mix in, which I can only assume, will eventually serve as Mizdow’s replacement for the eventual breakup.

The groundwork is there and I’m happy that Sandow will likely get his own program. He went from barely being on TV to dressing up in terrible costumes to being a goofy stunt double. Sometimes, it’s impossible to predict what will catch on and work in pro wrestling, but Sandow figured something out and will now get a moment in the sun.

3) So…Erick Rowan will be stalking Renee?

Did Rowan think Renee was a Rosebud? Photo credit: WWE.com

I can only assume that was the “she” that he was looking for randomly last night based on last week’s episode. This could either be great or a terrible, creepy failure that makes everyone watching uncomfortable. As of now, I’m leaning towards the later because this just all seems so poorly thought out right now.

4) Adam Rose needed this heel turn.

Some gimmicks just don’t translate well from the smaller NXT crowd to the main roster. Adam Rose’s fell flat incredibly fast and the WWE didn’t do him any favors by casting him as “random spokesperson for this week’s company that is giving us money”. Simply put, he was going nowhere fast.

I’m not too familiar with his Leo Kruger character as I didn’t watch NXT regularly back then, but it’s good to know that he has a heel character in his back pocket. Regardless, I’m interested to see this evolution in Rose and what in the world they’ll end up doing with the Bunny.

Yes, I’m interested in a program between a Geek Him to the Greek knockoff and a guy dressed in a bunny suit. This is what pro wrestling does.

5) Still not sure what the long term plan is for the divas.

However, at least, in the short term, I can get behind a Nikki Bella vs. A.J. Lee title match. Because the WWE could never fully commit to whatever it was they were doing with Paige and A.J., the face/heel dynamic became so blurry that it was hard to get emotionally invested in their last title match. A.J. is still just kind of “there”, but at least Nikki’s character is well defined enough to place fans into a love/hate relationship with whatever she’s doing.

To be fair, A.J. hasn’t had much time, beyond a single color commentary session, to redefine or further define herself and her motivations after a very poorly constructed program with Paige. The title is all important to her and, in that color commentary session talked about it like it was a person, but that’s quite a shallow character and all we have to work on. The dynamic between her and Paige was never fully explored and she’s had very little opportunity to build any kind of a dynamic against anyone else, including Nikki.

Clearly, this isn’t an optimal situation, but it’s better than where it was before, especially with the Bellas. Above all else, the quality of the matches have gone up dramatically, so I will certainly take that progress. I just hope that going forward the quality of the programs and character development for all the divas catches up.

A Veteran’s Day Bonus

I know this didn’t happen on RAW, but considering that it’s Veteran’s Day, this moment from last week’s Smackdown! is simply too cool not to share:

I’m proud to have both friends and family that have either served or are still serving in our armed forces. They and all veterans past and present do and have done I job that I never could. No one can ever thank them enough for their service and sacrifice.