WARNING: If you haven’t had a chance to watch the WWE’s 2014 Night of Champions or Monday Night RAW…you may want to go look at pictures of kittens on Pinterest.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! September 21, 2014. It was the night of the HUGE rubber-band match between Brock Lesnar and John Cena and was supposed to be the death of Hustle, Loyalty AND Respect–the main event for the WWE Night of Champions Pay-Per-View event. [Is it still a PPV? I mean…everything costs $9.99, right?] However, touting a less-than-spectacular program, NoC seemed to be nothing more than an episode of Monday Night RAW on steroids.
(That last bit was awkward…)
FreakSugar’s own “Dastardly Duo” of the always nimble, Catch-As-Catch-Can LemonJuice McGee in attendance at the event and Steve “The Mouth of the South” Ekstrom watching safely from his WWE app at home, weigh in on the WWE’s Pay-Per-View event, as well as the fall-out on the following Monday Night RAW on USA.
For the record? Both of these guys talk like sailors. Eye-muffs, kids!
Pre-Event Coverage on the WWE Network
Steve: I don’t know how much of the pre-game discussion my esteemed colleague was able to catch from the stands…but I’m really starting to NOT enjoy the valueless banter that takes place from 7:01Pm until approximately 7:35PM. I’m beginning to feel like the FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME,FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME World Champion holding Booker T is actually a smug robot who says almost the same five or six sentences once a month on Sunday.
That said, the Peep Show spot featuring Christian interviewing his long-time friend and Vitamin C…Sexy Beast…Canadian Cool…tag-team partner, Chris Jericho. Their banter was markedly stilted until Randy Orton appeared and, for the life of me, he absolutely owned them both. Hell must be freezing over; Orton cut a quality heel bit with two of the wittiest voices of the Attitude Era.
I’m still a little baffled why they didn’t just roll the Pre-Event coverage right into Orton and Jericho opening the show.
LemonJuice: The doors to Bridgestone Arena were opened only moments before the preshow went live. In fact, I was frustratingly trying to find my seat as it began–and then missed the Peep Show segment due to the long lines for adult beverages. Thanks a lot Obama!
Steve: I think everyone has been waiting to see what the holy hell the “Cosmic Key” is and what is finally going to happen when Stardust gets his hands on it. Runnels is seriously pushing the limits of the sanity with his best impression of Frank Gorshin’s Riddler from the 60’s Batman television show as he prances around the all-new, all-different and much more sinister Goldust. That said, I love the damn Dust Brothers. Their chaining is fantastic…and, because of the similarity of their styles, I think they have this really awesome dynamic that is rapid-fire and raucous in the ring. The Usos don’t disappoint. They’re both great performers. I just wish that WWE Creative could take them away from the cartoony hijinks and give these guys a sharper edge. Somoan DNA is some of the most potent lifeblood of the storied past of the company; honor these guys with a gimmick/ story with a little more depth. I think the match was solid. Jimmy Uso’s hand was pretty bloody over the course of the last few minutes…and The Dust Brothers came out on top. I think that they’re going to be getting stranger over the next few weeks.
In terms of the Raw fall-out? All these dudes were basically mashed into the ring with Cesaro and Sheamus as an afterthought, unfortunately. Where’s the Ascension? I’m ready. Yah!
Steve Scores the Match: 7 out of 10
LemonJuice: This was one of the matches I was most excited for and was surprised it was up first on the card (especially after the perfect Peep Show lead-in). It didn’t disappoint. While I dig both of these teams, the Dust Brothers are on an entire different plane of geeked-out love. I cheered. I cheered fuckin’ hard!–and I’m almost 80% sure that’s why they won the titles.
The RAW match was a repeat from the week before and it ended with Goldust’s shoulders on the mat. Way to make the new champs look strong, Vince!
LemonJuice Scores the Match: 8 out of 10
Match #2: Sheamus defends the U.S. Title against Cesaro
Steve: We can’t have the World Heavyweight Title but we keep this shiny piece of crap and then we strap it on a bowl of frosted Lucky Charms. Sheamus was SO much more interesting when he debuted. His run as a face has been as vanilla as his coloration. He doesn’t have a lot of range in-character and it shows when he’s interviewed outside of the ring. Cesaro suffered through this match with a couple of rough spots…one of them involving what could have been a gorgeous Double Underhook Suplex Sheamus hulking up is a nice touch of homage to Hogan and his man-scaping is less severe so he’s looking more wild-eyed and scrappy but this match became pointless when Cesaro did the job 1-2-3. Seriously, I sound like a song on repeat. Cesaro is the most underrated mid-carder on the roster. He could EASILY Main Event as a foil to whatever horse/face the WWE is banking on for draws.
The Raw aftermath? Clusterfuck confusion with the Usos and the Dust Brothers mashed up in a rubber match that didn’t do the superstars any justice.
Steve Scores the Match: 5 out of 10
LemonJuice: I totally agree with the above statements regarding how both men have been utilized by the company. As for the match, this might be one of those cases where it was better in person as it came off extremely brutal, especially toward the end.
On a related note: a guy sporting a sweet El Generico mask passed out “King of Wrestling” signs to all of us on “TV Side” that wanted them, to hold up during Cesaro’s entrance. And hold them up we did! Notice that the camera didn’t pan up too much during it? Apparently the sea of white paper signs was enough to piss off some sort of WWE-no-cheering-heels-mandate. During the match, security was confiscating the signs. Not a rumor. I watched that dumb shit happen.
LemonJuice Scores the Match: 7 out of 10
Steve: This was a good, intense bit that was warmhearted; something that the WWE very rarely gets right. This is the most likeable that Paul Wight has been in ever? And I truly believe that Mark Henry has become a venerated fan-favorite of the company. He’s been under-estimated as a draw. It was a feel-good moment.
LemonJuice: Mark Henry and The Big Show. Two huge guys that love to cry on camera. I have no heart!
Match #3: Dolph Ziggler’s Intercontinental Match with The Miz…and their friends.
Steve: This has become so stupid that it’s kind of funny. I think there must be a room full of WWE employees who just sit around saying, “How can we make Nick Nemeth MORE miserable?” Is it because he’s only 6 feet tall? Because he’s bitched a little on Twitter? I don’t blame him. The fact that he’s been paired with R-Ziggler and the reality that The Miz (and Sandow…another tragic superstar-gone-wrong) beat him for the belt was sort of a pathetic attempt at waking up the audience after the Sheamus/ Cesaro match. Ziggler is easily one of the most athletic performers in the squared-circle and he is a master of selling hurt. I kind of wish that Mike Mizanin would just quit wrestling and become a color commentary guy. He’s terrible in the ring…maybe that’s why he’s kept around. I love to hate this guy. The match had a few good near-falls and I kind of cringed when Florida Georgia line got involved in the festivities. Way to get pushed down by some gangly pretty boys who can barely bend a cooked piece of pasta, Miz.
The Raw Aftermath? More confusion. Zigs wins with a handful of tights and regains the IC title. Maybe…just maybe…Roman Reigns absence will give him a little wiggle room up the card as the IC fan-favorite but I doubt it. This story is rudderless.
Steve Scores the Match: 6 out 10 solely for the hijinks and swerving kick-outs.
LemonJuice: The sudden presence of Florida-Georgia Line took me by surprise in the same way waking up to a piss-soaked bed does. And that was just the beginning of this monstrosity. Miz did his usual, passable stuff, then Damien Miz-Dow started shit with the band. Christ. Then, R-Ziggler (I can’t believe I’m using these new aliases) jumps in to the fray or some such. Miz puts on his horrible Figure Four, and thankfully Ziggler escaped. A distraction, a bare ass, and three seconds finished the match. Miz won. Cue sadness. I’m sure to some of you, this reads like Steve and I are just bitter our favorites aren’t winning, but that’s not the case with this one. Maybe there’s a reason we root for Ziggler. The guy is incredible in the ring, and perhaps that’s his problem. He makes it seem like every time he gets hit that a semi-truck was at the other end. I think it’s time others made HIM look good.
The RAW match? Where he regained the title? Nope, didn’t see it. Gotham was on. Batman is the real winner here.
LemonJuice Scores the Match: 4 out of 10
Match #4: Seth Rollins rubs our faces in Roman Reigns’ hernia…oh wait, Dean Ambrose returns!
Steve: I almost took up religion last night. I’m not a big fan of the very manufactured Reigns…don’t get me wrong though, I get it. When he says “Don’t worry, baby girl.” 52% of the world begins ovulating. I’m really glad that they are working the very real issues that Rollins’ ego caused his performance at NXT into the spotlight as he approaches the top of the WWE card. I think he’s the reincarnation of Brian Pillman with more of a cerebral edge. I was curious if Bray Wyatt was going to come out and address Rollins’ false idolatry but, no, of course, not…it was time to give Ambrose his big moment. BECAUSE HE’S THE NEW STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN. I’m all about some lunatic fringe. He’s got “it” so much more so than Reigns. Reigns just has the look of a champion. Ambrose has the look of someone we think we can become one. The match was non-existent. The WWE is smart. They’re going to slowly build up to this one for weeks. Hang in there. (Side Note: Is it me or are Mercury and Noble the new Patterson and Brisco?)
The Raw aftermath was reminiscent of the old Stone Cold versus McMahon days…but they’re making Ambrose more of a “magical” sort of character. I don’t mean “hocus pocus” I mean that he’s an iceberg. We’re only seeing 10% of this guy’s depth and range of talent and the less we see the better. It worked miracles for the Undertaker.
Steve Scores the Match: No…but I’m digging what they’re doing with BOTH Rollins and Ambrose. They are the next Rock/ Austin of the WWE.
LemonJuice: Have you ever been riding in a cab, and out of nowhere, felt in your heart the chance to battle your greatest rival was being freely offered? Well, Dean Ambrose sure as hell did! I love that this thing immediately devolved into a brawl around the arena, and that Ambrose was once again carried out of it, ala Stone Cold Steve Austin! I too, thought Bray might answer Rollins’ open challenge, or even NXT Champion Adrian Neville (I’d love to see them go at it), but the adrenaline and nervous excitement I felt as I leapt to my feet could only have been brought out by the return of the Lunatic Fringe! Wow, I don’t even know if any of that made sense.
LemonJuice Scores the Match: The TittyMaster (Google it) gets two thumbs up!
Mark Henry cries for America and goes toe-to-toe with the Russian Monster, Rusev! (Oh…and Lana. Happy thoughts.)
Steve: I’ll be damned if I don’t love Sexual Chocolate…I know he doesn’t go by that nickname anymore but still. He has become endearing as a performer. He’s matured into THAT guy…a guy like Hacksaw Jim Duggan who you just love when he comes out whether his gimmick is sort of corny or he’s gotten a little older. Mark Henry has arrived as a real Legend in the WWE. I like the pairing with Rusev. I get excited every time Rusev’s Godzilla music hits…and Lana. The match was brutal. I can see the need to continue the build of Rusev into a Monster of the Mid-Card. Rusev’s speed and athleticism really creates a compelling story when you compare it to the sheer power of Henry. I never hesitate to remind people that Henry was the ratings-winner of Smackdown for something like 15 or 16 months. I was only disappointed because he lost. It was one of those rare moments where, as a jaded adult fan of wrestling, I forgot that it was fake. I wanted him to win.
[Oh and I received a spectacular text from my tag team partner during this match displaying the spectacular view from his seating. Thanks, brother.]
The Raw Aftermath made me wonder if Rusev is begin groomed for a more dramatic moment in the near-future. Rusev’s Monday Night Decimation of Henry was a legit moment of “What the fuh…” for me. I mean Henry SOLD that injury to the point that I thought he might break that arm that he let his arm go limp on the mat.
Steve Scores the Match: 8 out of 10. I was very sports entertained, Mark. Oh and Lana.
LemonJuice: Lilian Garcia can sing the Star-Spangled Banner like no other. As mentioned earlier, Mark Henry has that same artistic ability–only substitute crying rivers of tears in place of a beautiful voice. Seeing hi and Rusev battling it out is very impressive, but I knew Mark wasn’t going to be the one to stop his winning streak. No, that honor will be saved for another American– probably with the initials: John Cena. Still, the sheer spectacle of the match made it a keeper.
On RAW, all that build up with Henry went down the shitter as he succumbed to Rusev’s Russian-ness once again. Let’s all join hands a think good thoughts so Kurt Angle can appear (his TNA contact is up) and suplex Rusev into sweet oblivion.
LemonJuice Scores the Match: 6 out of 10
Match #6: Y2J Chris Jericho & Randy Orton Have a Match.
Steve: As I said earlier, this match? Should’ve started the event. It had very little rhyme or reason other than the 15 seconds of random ass build-up where Randy just smacked Jericho around “just cause”. I really do get that both of these guys are GOOD WRESTLERS. They can go. This match will attest to it. Orton’s in-ring work is never given it’s due. Jericho hit his spots as he if could do his job in his sleep. They’re naturals. I just needed something interesting to happen in this match. And nothing did. This effort didn’t do anything to elevate these guys’ narratives in any way? Where the hell is Bray Wyatt? This was the moment that you have him come out and cause raw chaos and keep him ‘tweening. Jericho can’t really do that anymore. He’s locked in his popular state, I think. Ironically, this match is the most technically sound of the night…and it’s an hour out of the main event. Randy wins and solidifies the idea that he’s the Viper and he’s got what it takes to be the Champ.
The aftermath on Raw? What’s that? I think Jericho’s gone for a bit again. Heh. I just realized how nasty Randy Orton’s name sounds. Say it out loud. You’ll see.
Steve Scores the Match: 7 out of 10. Good technical match. Bad product placement.
LemonJuice: Match of the Night. There, I said it. I couldn’t have cared less about seeing this for the millionth time. But, I was riveted the entire length of it. Code Breakers out if nowhere, Orton generously handing JBL his hat before slamming Y2J onto the announce table, getting my hopes up for the Punt, the Walls of Jericho staying applied no matter how many times The Viper crawled his way to the ropes, and the always devastating RKO. Damn you Randy Orton and Chris Jericho for making me like this match so much. Damn you!
RAW didn’t feature Jericho, because Orton killed him the night before. Or because he’s about to tour with FOZZY. Whichever.
LemonJuice Scores the Match: 9 out of 10
Match #7: The Triple Threat Defense of the Diva’s Title a.k.a. “Snack Time” – Nikki Bella vs. Paige vs. AJ Lee
Steve: The WWE is notoriously dumb in regards to how they handle their female talent. This match has TWO quality wrestlers and John Cena’s girlfriend in it. I’m lapsing into a coma just thinking about attempting to talk about how neither of the Bella twins should be in a Title match. AJ Lee has her moments but she’s a really good technical wrestler and Paige literally comes from an entire family of wrestlers. I always end up coming off like a sexist jerk but I really feel like the focus on having a Women’s Division is wasted on employing athletic women who look good in skimpy clothes and not on wrestling prowess. I honestly got a snack during the match. The tap-out at the end had just a MOMENT where I thought it would swerve. AJ is better as a totally psycho heel. I’d rather see Paige as champ. Sigh.
The aftermath on Raw had things pick back up with the faux-heated argument between Nikki and Brie. I’m ready for Daniel Bryan to come back.
Steve Scores the Match: 4 out of 10 because watching Paige wrestle is redeeming enough but that finish defied the established logic of the rivalry.
LemonJuice: A Bella Twins rivalry recap video began playing in the arena, which meant,”Time to get a pretzel”. After standing in line for 10 minutes, I was informed they were out of pretzels. Also hotdogs. Shit. I then went over to the next vendor. As I stood in line, triumphant as my hotdog was being prepared, I could hear the muffled cheers and theme music for the match. I eventually made it back to my seat, just in time for the finish (which was surprising since I fully believed Nikki would get the strap to feud with Brie on Total Divas), confident that I didn’t miss a thing.
LemonJuice Scores the Match: A pretzel is better than a hotdog, but it’ll do in a pinch.
The Main Event: The Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar battles John Cena…or “32 Suplexes or We Riot”
Steve: Here we are, one month after one of the most memorable matches of modern pro-wrestling. The “Night of the 16 Suplexes” was a very, very sexy night for the anti-fans of John Cena. Tonight was different…it was the comeback…the rubber band…the rise of the Champ…his music is already telling you that he’s here for Pete’s sake! Brock didn’t get to dominate him as hard this time around. Cena showed a bit of merciless aggression; I chalked it up to the fact that the audience seemed fatigued at the start of the match.
Here’s a tip for the WWE: Don’t run numbers regarding the components of a fake fight. I started laughing when they started the stat run of the previous match. Wrestling is fake guys. You can throw eleventy thousand punches here. None of them feel like two guys going at it until they’re bloody. Get away from attempting to feel like MMA. You’ve already proven that MMA is the niche market and that you’re the real deal WWE.
That said…not a terrible match. Four Attitude Adjustments to Lesnar? That’s a bit over-the-top…but I’m sure Cena’s ego has to be just a LITTLE bruised even if the fight was orchestrated. No one wants to be dropped on their head that many times. Lesnar got one suplex off and I jumped out of my seat and was like, “Here we go! 31 more to go! Woooo!” The end was perfect. Lesnar retains the title. Cena regains a little dignity. Rollins gets the ire of all Cenation by interrupting the match. Good call on not cashing out since the bell didn’t ring.
The Aftermath? You can’t have any. Lesnar is a no show. Cena gets to have a beef with Rollins…who has a beef with Dean Ambrose. Dean’s opening of Raw was his real arrival. His aggression towards John Cena was almost orgasmic for smart fans who were watching.
Steve Scores the Match: 8 out of 10. I liked the story. I liked the intensity. I’m just ready for a break from Cena so he can stop sucking the light out of the room.
LemonJuice: Not sure how it came across on the WWE Network, but this match had the crowd going insane from start to schmoz finish. It was my first time seeing Brock in person, and he’s just as freakishly intimidating as he is on the screen. Steve covered this thing pretty spot-on, except being there, I was completely disappointed by that finish. I didn’t travel 3 hours to see a DQ. I needed to see John Cena suplex end through the ring, or the announce table, or set ablaze by Heyman as Brock laughs maniacally. I need to see the One, Two, Three! Dammit. I understand why they did it, but this must be how people who attend RAW feel. Off the air, Cena got up, and shrugged his shoulders, palms out, in a “whatcha gonna do?” Expression. His music hit. People cheered. I went to buy Ziggler’s new shirt.
LemonJuice Scores the Match: 8 out of 10
Steve: 6.5 out of 10 – It just felt like a very dressed up episode of Raw that just happened to fulfill one of Lesnar’s contracted dates. Raw is Ambrose. Lana.
LemonJuice: A hoarse throat, empty pockets, and a stomach full of beer and hotdogs. Let’s call it a 7 out of 10.