The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. Be prepared, so when your moment of inspiration arrives, it won’t catch you by surprise. You just have to Bolieve!
*elaborate entrance, makes way to the ring*
Monday Night RAW is the summit on the top of the mountain of my dreams. On my journey to the top, I’ve learned that we don’t conquer the mountain. We conquer ourselves. All you have to do is Bolieve!
Thank you so much, so much, to all of my Bolievers! I couldn’t have done it without you. But the truth is you don’t get satisfaction from just victories. You get the satisfaction from effort. If you gave it your all, and you gave it everything you’ve got, you’re already a winner. All you have to do … is Bolieve!
*hugs opponent, walks out*
If you’re keeping track, that was three motivational speeches from Bo Dallas. That’s the promo trifecta. That, my friends, is why you must Bolieve!
That also is how the Midcard Report should lead off. You know, some nice positive reinforcement before we trash about three-fourths of the matches on here.
BO DALLAS vs. SIN CARA
Sidenotes: Bo’s T-shirt still has the NXT logo, and said T-shirt is absolutely soaking wet. Also, my feed was so moved by Bo’s words that it froze up. Hunicara with a top rope crossbody early, but Bo’s in control when they return. The announce team no-sells the entire match, which is a shame because it’s not half bad! OK, maybe half. Nice series of kneedrops — the first two with a rollout, the third with a thumbs-up and a delay — but Sin Cara responds with some kicks, an enziguiri, a springboard moonsault, a backspring elbow and a Samoan drop. That’s all for naught, because after snakeeyes and the Bo-Dog, it’s time to Bolieve.
Technical Merit: I like the less-botchy version of Sin Cara.
Artistic Impression: I also like this version of Bo Dallas.
TOTAL SCORE: *1/2
This may actually have been RAW’s Match of the Night. Chew on that one for a second.
Good news: Both midcard singles championships are on the line in angles intended to mean something.
Bad news: We have to watch Rob Van Dam and his endless array of THE SAME MOVES THAT WOULD DO NOTHING IN REAL LIFE.
Bad News: Oh, he’s right here!
ROB VAN DAM vs. CESARO (w/Paul Heyman)
It’s the Heyman Invitational, as long as the No. 1 contenders for the Intercontinental and U.S. championships. But somebody’s afraid he’s got some more Bad News. It’s summertime, so people will throw on their swimsuits and find their stomachs have expanded to roll over their waistbands. The man has a point! He has another: RVD’s Indian Summer will be over after Payback. The good news? Bad News is on commentary! “It’s me! It’s me! It’s BNB!” I’m all for a subtle DDP reference. First thing to get me to pay attention to the actual match: RVD goes for an apron moonsault, but Cesaro catches him and deposits him onto the barricade. Naturally, now that our attention is finally obtained, we go to break.
As we return on Hulu Plus, Rolling Thunder shows up. Yay. This RVD match just had something different for once: A superkick to Barrett outside. That one was legit. Van Dam is feeling froggy, but Barrett provides the distraction and Cesaro hits the bridging German for the win.
Hulu Plus time: 4:27
Technical Merit: Same old stuff, though executed OK.
Artistic Impression: Face messes with heel, face gets got. I don’t mind it.
TOTAL SCORE: *
Then, for no real reason, Sheamus graces us with his presence for a Brogue Kick. That didn’t feel like babyface justice; that just felt like a lame excuse to get someone on TV.
Wait … he has a match in the third hour? That’s not logical! Ohhhhh Cesaro attacked him on SmackDown. (Logical) … but that would mean we would’ve had to watch SmackDown. (Not logical)
Anyway, it’s Sheamus-ADR, part 4,863.
United States Champion SHEAMUS vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO
The champ makes this look like a glorified squash for nearly 2 minutes, until ADR recovers after being rolled back into the ring and realizes what his feet are for. Again, it’s break time.
And would you look at that … we return just in time for Sheamus to hit White Noise! He sets up for the Brogue Kick, but his bell is rung. Del Rio rings it again with the enziguiri and the standing sidekick, but only gets 2. Sheamus sells concussion symptoms as ADR sets up for the cross armbreaker, but the redhead slips out and hits the Brogue Kick.
Hulu Plus time: 3:55
Technical Merit: Painfully basic and repetitive.
Artistic Impression: Dumb finish, though it sets up what happens next.
TOTAL SCORE: *
Heyman interrupts Justin Roberts‘ duties and promos just long enough for Cesaro to sneak in and give Sheamus a few more shots to the dome, then the Neutralizer.
What did I say earlier? Face messes with heel, face gets got. The only problem is this probably means the heel gets got Sunday. Guess we should be happy we get a halfway decent United States Championship match out of it. I’m far from sold on the Intercontinental Championship contest, but that’s because RVD’s involved. I haven’t actually enjoyed one of his matches since … Edge won a triple-threat on RAW to take his WWE Championship in 2006? Yeah, about that far back.
We lead off Main Event with a hometown boy!
You know what that means … hometown boy’s gonna lose. Sorry, Cody Rhodes.
Speaking of losses, Curtis Axel informed The Brotherhood last night that they’re racking up more losses than Barry Horowitz in his prime. You know the third-generation guy’s gonna know his history!
CODY RHODES (w/Goldust) vs. CURTIS AXEL (w/Ryback)
If you want a decent basic mechanic — no more, no less — Axel’s your man. The man knows what he’s doing in the ring and doesn’t try to exceed his limits. Nice backbreaker with Cody tied up in the second rope early. Rhodes starts his comeback around 3:15 with a sunset flip, some strikes and the the trademark Ted DiBiase Jr. clothesline. He hangs Axel up in the ropes and hits a kick to the gut then, with Axel standing, he hits a moonsault for 2. For the second straight night, though, Cody Disaster Kicks someone on the apron (Ryback this time), and Axel chop blocks Cody, rolls him up and pulls the tights. The streak continues.
Technical Merit: Your basic 4-minute match where the heel wins. Nothing egregious.
Artistic Impression: I don’t like the story, but it’s being told OK.
TOTAL SCORE: *1/2
You know where a Southern rapper is going to be over? Atlanta. That’s why WWE decided having not one, but two, was a good idea. This actually is the best gimmick I’ve seen in a minute!
Yo, I roll with the sinners, but I’m praised like a saint
And when that bell rings, I go hard in the paint
When fools try to step, I start tossin’
My teeth are clean, but I still be flossin’
*R-Truth rudely interrupts*
Do you have a problem, cousin?
You’re about to run up and get done up
Thuggish livin’ till the end
Tell a friend
Eight bars in, D-Sizzle is better than Macklemore. Who else is better than Macklemore? EVERYBODY! I see you, Kanyon! RIP.
“D-Sizzle” DAMIEN SANDOW vs. R-TRUTH
Tom Phillips says D-Sizzle is no Machine Gun Kelly. He’s right. Sizzle is better. After the Russian legsweep, “THROW YOUR HANDS IN THE AY-ER!” After the Elbow of Disdain and cover for 2, “YOU FRONT? YOU FRONT?” Unfortunately, R-Truth didn’t front. He came correct and hit his finisher for the win.
*pours out some liquor for D-Sizzle*
We hardly knew ya, bro.
There’s not a situation where Nikki Bella doesn’t look like a porn star. Then again, isn’t that kind of John Cena‘s thing? I guess if you want a Brazzers video come to life, you have a couple options in WWE.
Meanwhile, someone is here to actually, you know, wrestle.
NATALYA vs. BRIE BELLA (w/Nikki Bella)
Brie puts on a hammerlock and a side headlock, and she yells like she’s the one taking the move. She keeps quiet for the armdrag, though, and when Nattie has her in an armlock. Brie Mode is reason alone for termination. Especially when it results in a missile dropkick. Here’s our cool spot of the match: Brie locks in a half-crab, but Nattie rolls through into the Sharpshooter.
Once that happens, that’s it.
Technical Merit: Brie Mode was involved. I rest my case.
Artistic Impression: If the story was Nattie comes, Nattie wins, Nattie goes to get ready for NXT Takeover, then it was great! Wait, this was about Brie? … Oh.
TOTAL SCORE: 1/2*
One good thing about Main Event is it allows for promo time with the WWE Tag Team Champions. This meant time for The Usos to make fun of The Wyatt Family‘s lackeys who do nothing but follow Bray Wyatt, which was done effectively. Oh, and Cena will be the last man standing. Yay.
That also means promo time for Luke Harper!
A man with nothing left to lose has nothing left to fear. He saved us. He gave us a purpose. And Usos, some bonds are much stronger than blood.
Bray takes over from there. Blah, blah, blah, I know, right? He took in Harper and Erick Rowan, and they united as brothers in the name of cause. The Usos, meanwhile, are pawns in Cena’s sick little game. Since they’re guilty by association, they’ll burn.
WWE Tag Team Champions THE USOS vs. LUKE HARPER & ERICK ROWAN (w/Bray Wyatt)
Rowan starts the match with the mask … ? Oh, it’s so Jey Uso can slap it off. I like it! Nice no-sell from Harper, which only leads to a double-team that still ends with Harper in control via dropkick.
Back from break and Rowan’s back in, just in time for Jimmy Uso to tag to Jey. Rowan gets an advantage when Jey can’t lift him for a Samoan drop, then Erick fallaway slams Jey, who rolls outside. That gives Harper a chance to pick away at some scraps outside after the tag before returning and tagging once more. Rest hold time! Jey kicks Rowan after escaping, but Rowan backs into Harper for the tag and Harper goes after Jimmy. Harper is a great tag-team wrestler. Harper does the Gator Roll, throwing in a couple suplexes for good measure. A second rest hold, then Jey makes the mistake of attacking Rowan. That allows Harper to hit a sitout slam, which causes Jimmy to break it up, which distracts the ref, which allows the heels to maintain control. You know, until Rowan inevitably screws it up. Missile dropkick leads to stereo tags, and Jimmy comes in hot. Jimmy can hit the Samoan drop on Harper … as well as a superkick that leads to 2. Chaos time, and the champs execute their tandem dive outside. That’ll get Bray out of his seat, and he gives Harper marching orders. Jimmy goes up top, but Rowan tosses Jey into the ropes. Jimmy wobbles off the ropes, which sets up the Clothesline from Hell and the pin.
Technical Merit: These are two good tag teams. Rowan couldn’t cut it in a singles capacity, but as the bumbling tag partner he’s effective. Harper might be the best big man in the company at the moment, and the Usos are the best team.
Artistic Impression: The match kept The Usos intertwined in the Cena-Wyatt angle, and it sold the Wyatt Family as a stronger threat than ever to hustle, loyalty, respect, etc.
TOTAL SCORE: **1/4
Come back Thursday night for analysis and reaction to NXT Takeover. In the meantime, follow The Champ on Twitter @jpetrie18.