Welcome to the most must-see Vulture Hound weekly review in history; welcome to… The Raw Review (Yes, Elliot. I do start the review like this every week!)
As was heavily publicised on social media I was suspended from the Raw Review last week due to breaking some “ethics and wellness policy”. What that means exactly is that I am no longer the face of VultureHound Wrestling and have been left to squabble over the rights to the Raw Review with Elliot Dyson who took over in my absence. I have spent this past week in the writing equivalent of solitary confinement. That basically means I’ve stuck to my day job – something many people have told me to do. This is confirmation that I have returned to reclaim what is rightfully mine. I give you the gift of Bradley Tiernan’s Raw Review (“drink it in maaaaan”).
By now we’re all fully aware that the brand draft is taking place on the first episode of Smackdown Live this Tuesday night. What happened on this weeks Raw set it all up nicely for what is sure to be an exciting night. Albeit with some surprises revealed a little too early. Namely the announcement of the new General Managers for both shows – I was hoping it was going to be revealed on Smackdown but such is the way of WWE to overwhelm you with their lack of care at times. Yet I still found myself gushing with excitement when initially Mick Foley was announced as the new GM of Monday Night Raw. Then I literally gushed myself into a puddle when Daniel Bryan made his return as the GM of Smackdown Live! Following on from this the rules were set for the draft and my prayers to our Lord and saviour, Vincent Kennedy McMahon, were finally answered. It was announced that the Cruiserweight Division will be exclusive to Raw and that 6 draft picks will be made from the NXT Roster. I have to credit the WWE here. They have insured a reason to watch both shows with an exciting Cruiserweight division on one and Daniel Bryan on the other. I’d like to even see Xavier Woods compete as a Cruiserweight, as sad as it would be to leave the New Day, he sure as hell could go it alone. At least that would be reason enough to watch the product for the coming months until we are all ultimately disappointed when Jack Swagger main events WrestleMania by beating WWE World Heavyweight champion, Titus O’Neil. Did someone say “dream match”?
The first match of the night was in essence the same thing we have seen in the last couple of months. Zayn and Owens going against each other in a tag match with Cesaro and Jericho respectively. It was no where near what we’ve come to expect from these four stars as there was botches aplenty and none more worse than when Jericho almost broke his neck from the Cesaro swing. This feud needs some new life injected into it and I think the imminent brand draft has allowed this to coast until now. Let’s hope for something strong style shaped enters the fray.
Darren Young is slowly turning me… Read into that what you will but I’m starting to believe that Bob Buckland (with a lot of help from WWE Creative) is actually starting to make Darren Young great. I wont say “again” because let’s face it, was he ever great before? He’s certainly picking up steam with another win, this time over Del Rio. A nice touch at the end of the match was Young displaying a simple message of “block the hate” – I’m with you on that one.
I’m pretty fed up of a mass orgy excuse of tag team matches but when said match includes the likes of the New Day, Enzo and Cass, John Cena, the Club and the Wyatt’s then there’s a lot of fun to be had in such a small time frame. There was plenty of great verbal moments as well as actual wrestling moments. We’ve come to expect that tag team matches with more than the usual of two can be quite unorganised and frantic but this match didn’t disappoint. Everyone involved had their chance to show the WWE Universe what they’ve got as should be the case when there are so many men in the ring. I did pick up on one thing with the show however. The more men there was involved in a match up just shows how unsure the company is on what to do with them until the brand split. Cena and Styles might not even be on the same show. You would think for continuity and an intriguing Battleground match card looming they will surely both be drafted on to Smackdown to lure in the viewers.
We’re all wanting to know who Sasha Banks partner at Battleground is going to be but WWE, being as unpredictable as they are, decided to keep it a secret. Charlotte continues to pick up the heels of Dana Brooke in this partnership they have. I’d like to see Dana go on and become some brutal force but after weeks of seeing her incompetence I have to say I really hope Nia Jax debuts soon and puts an end to her affiliation with Charlotte. I hate myself for saying this but I kinda miss Ric Flair. In the same way that I kinda miss Bruce Forsyth being on the tele – he was there for so long that it took some time for it to sink in and realise he was really gone. I mean, he’s not quite shuffled off this mortal coil yet but he’s gone in a broadcasting sense. What am I talking about? I don’t like either of those old fogies!
I have a of faults to pick in the Corbin and Sin Cara match. The biggest of all is that this unstoppable force that doesn’t seem to care what he does ran away from a tiny Mexican who probably won’t even be in the same title division as him come Tuesday night. Yeah, he clobbered him in the end but he didn’t even need to run away. It would be like a freight train going through a classic Mini. Then again, this is wrestling we’re watching. A sport that only last year had Sheamus as its World Heavyweight Champion. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why?
Speaking of the former World Champion, he managed to claim a victory off the back of Rusev’s current push as the United State Champion, and boy was it dull. I’m happy that Rusev is getting the push and that the Accolade is finally being made out to be an unbreakable hold but if every match ends like this fans might start to get bored of him. He’s an interesting guy that has by far (in my opinion) the hottest valet on his side. He should be doing more mic work to give him an extra dimension to the fans that actually enjoy watching heel wrestlers. We may be watching a product that is targeted at children but in reality the majority of their audience are between 16-30. That’s not a true statistic but a false one that looks like it supports my argument. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryder picked up the victory at Battleground and became the US Champ. He’s another star getting a push at the moment so this one I’m unsure about who will come out on top.
The scene was set for the main event of the evening. Both camps of Raw and Smackdown were ringside to watch Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins fight it out for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and to see just where the title will be heading on Tuesday night. Like we have witnessed in Raws previous, the two men put on a fantastic match for the gold which saw both of them avoid defeat at the same time. Rollins appeared to end the match as the winner but with no official announcement from Lillian Garcia we were all left more clueless than your Mom at dieticians clinic (harsh I know but I had to fit in the customary ‘your mom’ gag at some point). After the show there was an announcement that the match ended in a tie which, to me, isn’t a bad thing. Once again, Rollins feels cheated out of the title which he still never actually lost under normal circumstances and Ambrose gets to retain the title until Roman Reigns returns and we’re all reminded that ultimately our hopes and dreams ain’t worth s**t.
JBL’s Best Bits:
You know what? Elliot is right. JBL is a national treasure and does deserve better than my sarcastic remarks about his ridiculous hat and nonsensical sports references. This week I’ll lay off the man who actually thinks Rocky Balboa was a real person. I don’t think he actually said that last bit but it could be true.