Raw was overseas last night and it was a solid show overall from the O2 arena in London. A few matches were finalized with ‘Extreme Rules’ stipulations, and is FANDANGO BACK? (no) Let’s get to the 5 Stars from last night’s Raw.
1. Home Field Advantage
One of my favorite things that happen on a wrestling show is wrestlers wrestling in front of a hometown or home country crowd. It’s not the 1980s anymore, and the days of wrestlers being billed from ‘Parts Unknown’ or ‘Hell’ are long gone. Wade Barrett and Paige are actual people from actual places. So when BNB comes out and gets cheered for his match against John Cena, the WWE should use that to their advantage. At this point in Cena’s title reign, it’s pretty much set in stone that he’s not going to lose to Barrett on Raw, but the crowd is into the near falls and it makes the match much more exciting. Same thing goes for Paige. She gets the biggest ovation out of any of the Divas, and get to cut a great post match promo talking about her journey for wrestling at carnivals to winning a match at WrestleMania. Naomi’s turn and attack on Paige is enhanced because Paige is in front of her home country crowd, and WWE addressing the fact that she’s from England helps that immensely.
2. The US Title Open Challenge
I also love the Open Challenge idea, because when Cena does lose, it will not only come as a shock, but it will immediately elevate whoever he loses to. Ambrose, Stardust and now BNB. Cena is elevating the title and making these guys look good in the process. One small complaint is that every match has had the same style so far, and after awhile people kicking out of the Attitude Adjustment might do more harm than good. It’s exciting for the false finish, but I’d like to see Cena switch it up and wrestle a different style of match that doesn’t involve him kicking out of a guy’s finisher and then in turn that same guy kicking out of the AA. In what is going to be a running theme in this write up, wins and losses don’t matter if it’s being booked correctly. BNB, Ambrose and Stardust losing to Cena help them out more than beating the bums of the WWE. Ambrose beat Adam Rose and Stardust beat Fandango, but both of them looked better in loses to Cena than in victory last night.
3. Rusev And His Russian Chain
A personal highlight from last night’s show was Rusev showing up with a RUSSIAN CHAIN and knocking John Cena out cold. I’ve mentioned it before, but I love when wrestling villains are actual villains. Cena is exhausted after a tough match against BNB, so Rusev sends Lana out on the ramp to distract Cena and attack him from behind with a chain. The Russian flag drops from the ceiling and Rusev stands over Cena’s crushed body. That’s what a villain SHOULD do, and I’m glad they’re going all the way with Rusev. It’s impossible for the smart audience not to cheer him against Cena, but adding some heel tendencies to his character will help him in the long run.
After Paige won the Battle Royal, Naomi attacked and mauled her outside the ring. Later during the show, she cut a promo on the entire Diva’s division that was one of the most logical statements made in a long time. Naomi was in the same rookie class as AJ Lee, yet AJ has had 3 Diva’s title reigns and now that she’s retired, she’s considered a legend. Naomi has pinned Nikki Bella numerous times over the past few weeks, yet had to enter a Battle Royal just to get a title shot. The WWE creative team is so screwy that they should take advantage of it and let the Divas or any other superstar call them out on it when things are being booked so idiotically. Naomi was finally given a personality and immediately sky rocketed up the Diva’s ranks in my opinion. Her athleticism was never a question, but when you give her something more than “Funkadactyl or Usos’ wife’ to work with from a character standpoint, she’s going to bring it home.
5. Dolph Ziggler v. Neville
So Neville has been on the main roster for three weeks, and he’s already progressed more than half of the roster who’ve been there for years. The internet wrestling community is obsessed with wins and losses, so naturally there’s already talk of how bad ‘Neville is being buried’. My only response to that is that I’d rather Neville lose back to back to weeks to Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler in competitive matches than have him beat the Curtis Axel’s or Fandango’s of the world. Let me ask a question: who looked better last night: Stardust or Neville? Stardust won over Fandango, Neville lost to Ziggler, but I guarantee most people don’t even remember the Stardust/Fandango match. Wins and losses don’t mean anything in the world of wrestling if the matches and feuds are booked right. Neville has proven he can hang against both Rollins and Ziggler, and he would’ve beat the WWE World Champion if it wasn’t for J and J Security. So yeah, Neville is fine, and he looked great again last night. That 450 splash from the ring barricade was insane, and there’s really no one like Neville on the WWE roster. He’s the total package, and pairing him with Ziggler was a great choice. Ziggler is the best seller on the roster, and that Brogue Kick on the outside from Sheamus was brutal. I can live in world where Sheamus/Ziggler/Neville are feuding with each other.