U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! It’s a special Fourth of July episode of Raw this week which means the overindulgent love of America is in full force. We have a sixteen-man elimination tag match pitting Team USA against Team World for no logical reason other than “meh, why not?” Plus a United States Championship match with Rusev defending against Titus O’Neil. If America can only lose one match tonight, please let it be Titus. But before we get into this week, let’s look back and remember what happened last week on Raw.
Last week on Raw in order to compensate for Roman Reigns’ real life suspension, AJ Styles and John Cena tried to earn their place into the WWE Championship match at Battleground but both cost each other their respective matches. New Day dressed up as The Wyatt’s, The Miz and Maryse returned from filming The Marine 5, as did the Social Outcasts who for some reason were also included in the movie. With it being a holiday and WWE expecting a record low viewership, I’m not expecting them to try tonight. But I’m more than happy to be proven wrong. Let’s get to the show!
Kicking off the show we’re taken back to footage shot earlier in the day with all the WWE Superstars celebrating the Fourth of July when The Vaudevillians and Miz & Maryse interrupt. A food fight of epic proportions breaks out and it’s fantastic. WWE do food fights so well as they had so many things going at once that I couldn’t keep track. But I did see Chris Jericho find a band-aid in his food and react in disgust. So we have that gem.
But just quickly, it was great to see The Shining Stars and Darren Young escape the green screen and allowed to associate with other superstars. Funnily enough they were on the same table, so they were obviously discussing their respective awful gimmicks.
Raw properly starts off with the United States Championship bout. Titus O’Neil comes out dressed as Uncle Sam and it’s nauseating. We go to commercial and come back to Titus wrestling in red and white striped pants, so it just looks like Titus is cosplaying tonight as Virgil. The match is mercifully short and Rusev retains off The Accolade. Titus’ run at the title appears to be over for good and Rusev taunts the USA after the match. God bless America.
The Social Outcasts come out for tag team action and they’re dressed as revolutionaries, because of course they are. Enzo & Big Cass interrupt and Enzo recites every U.S. President in order which is genuinely impressive. They defeat the Social Outcasts relatively quickly and Enzo puts on one of their wigs and runs around in circles like it just gave him an energy booster.
Moving on to the women’s division with Charlotte and Dana Brooke in the ring and Charlotte talks about everyone being jealous of her, but no-one as much as Sasha Banks. Cue Sasha Banks to come out and she says that since arriving on the main roster, Charlotte hasn’t beaten her. Sasha also mentions that while Charlotte is the champion, if it wasn’t for Ric Flair at WrestleMania she would be Womens Champion right now. Dana tries to attack Sasha, but she nails her with an elbow. Sasha locks in the Banks Statement on Charlotte to close the segment.
This story is very simple in premise and was well executed. Sasha delivered her promo so well even if at times it sounded like it was too scripted. While Charlotte seems to think that IF SHE SCREAMS LOUD ENOUGH that constitutes a good promo. I like Charlotte, I really do but she needs to learn volume control in order for people to really listen to what she’s saying and not immediately turn off. That was Vickie Guerrero’s schtick.
I’m going to lump these two matches together as they happened back to back and pretty much the same thing happened in each. Dean Ambrose defeated The Miz in a copy and paste job from last weeks Smackdown and Seth Rollins bested Dolph Ziggler in quite a good match. There’s not a lot to report on here other than WWE just doing the bare minimum to get by without Roman Reigns in this story. The matches were fine but seeing as they had zero stakes to them and went about 5 minutes too long each, I was zoning out by then end of them.
After Rollins’ victory he stood on the announce table and said that Roman Reigns shouldn’t be in the WWE Championship match at Battleground, which gets quite a supportive reaction from the crowd in Columbus, Ohio. The segment ends with Dean Ambrose hitting Seth with Dirty Deeds onto the announce table. It’s fine, there’s just not a lot of story here other than ‘Roman Reigns can’t be here, you know why, we just don’t want to keep saying the reason’.
We’re taken to a video package promoting Baron Corbin who appears to be too busy bullying the indie guys backstage to come out and have a match. It looks like WWE’s only plan for Corbin was ‘wrestle Dolph Ziggler for three months and we might think of something else later but no promises.’
The steady stream of former general managers returning keep coming and this week was definitely my favourite. EXCUSE ME!!! Vickie Guerrero is here! She’s here to also put her name into the conversation to be the new Smackdown general manager. She does a demonic cackle half way through and it’s deliciously evil. Security escorts her off the stage and while backstage, runs into her former client Dolph Ziggler, who says that he has never seen this woman before in his entire life. Vickie is taken off screen, screaming in the background.
For what it’s worth, I would love to see #VickieRunsSmackdownLive.
More tag team action now as The Golden Truth take on The Vaudevillians with Breezango at ringside. Inexplicably, Golden Truth get the win with their new finishing move ‘Solid Gold’. Meanwhile Breezango are being defeated by The Shining Stars on WWE Superstars and I openly weep for both teams.
This is by far the biggest shocker of the night, John Cena DID NOT cut a patriotic promo on the Fourth of July. I know, I’m at a loss for words too. He actually gets straight to the point and calls out The Club. AJ Styles, along with Gallows and Anderson, stand on top of the stage and says that no matter how hard Cena tries to bury him, The Club will always save him. They say that their favourite thing to do is to beat up John Cena. There’s a weird exchange where AJ asks Anderson what he would do on Labour Day and says something about having a hot Asian wife and then beating up John Cena. While Styles asks Gallows would do on Halloween and says he’ll dress up like a Bushwacker, lick the AJ’s face and then beat up John Cena. AJ wouldn’t like that, he’s been very firm in his stance on the gay community.
Anyway, The Club circle the ring and start beating on John Cena when Enzo & Cass come out to make the save for an undisclosed reason. Cena, Enzo & Cass clear the ring and it’s at that moment I realise that Enzo has a poo emoji on his butt. What a weird man.
It’s revealed later in the night that we’re not getting AJ Styles vs. John Cena for the second time at Battleground, instead we’re getting a six-man tag match. I guess it makes sense so they can save Styles and Cena for SummerSlam in August, but it’s just very much out of left field.
Back to the women’s division now as Becky Lynch is taking on Summer Rae in a match that should have happened last week, but Becky went nuts on Natalya. There’s a bit of a botched suplex and if they just called it a Brainbuster, it would’ve been fine. Becky scores the win with the Dis-Arm-Her while Natalya watches sideways on a TV backstage. Natalya and Becky will face off at Battleground.
Can we talk about Summer Rae though? She’s just the most overlooked gem from NXT. Her character work, facial expressions, everything is on point with her. I hope they can find more of a spot for her following the draft in two weeks.
Earlier in the night, The Wyatt Family invited The New Day to visit their compound. Basically acting like the worlds creepiest camp councilors. So The New Day come to the ring to antagonize The Wyatt’s even further until they pop up on the ‘tron. Bray says that New Day started this and he must end it, after telling them to find him. Kofi and Big E. accept their challenge until Xavier screams at them to listen. He doesn’t understand why they can’t see that they’re walking into a trap. Xavier says if they do this, he doesn’t think The New Day will be able to survive and he leaves the ring.
And the plot thickens. I think this may be the first ever rivalry in the three years of The Wyatt Family being around to be done to absolute perfection. The Wyatt Family have never appeared more intimidating and dangerous and for once, one of their opponents is taking them very seriously. I’m very intrigued to find out how their visit to the compound goes next week.
Before I get to the main event, throughout the night we were treated to more vignettes for The Shining Stars and Darren Young. The Shining Stars are dead in the water, the beautiful waters of Puerto Rico’s beaches they lie absolutely dead. Their vignettes keep appearing, but they haven’t had a match on Raw since the May 16th edition. Meanwhile Darren Young may never actually see a debut. His segments have been running for three months straight with no end in sight. I hope they change the slogan to “We’re going to make Darren Young wrestle again”.
It’s time for the main event. A sixteen-man elimination tag team match pitting Team USA vs. Team World. On Team USA you had the team of Big Show, Zack Ryder, Kane, The Dudley Boyz, Apollo Crews, Jack Swagger and Mark Henry making his first appearance since WrestleMania (he wasn’t missed, I thought he just retired). On Team World you had Chris Jericho, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, The Lucha Dragons, Sheamus, Del Rio and Cesaro. Team World obviously being comprised of all the relevant superstars in WWE.
Good god was this match a mess, it was bad. Very bad. Only highlight was Kevin Owens hitting a Pop-
Up Powerbomb on Mark Henry, that was impressive. But it fell apart when Kevin Owens hit his own partner (and mortal enemy) Sami Zayn with a chair, which for some reason disqualified Owens. Kane then hits KO with a chair which disqualifies Kane for some reason, despite Owens no longer being part of the match. Then after all of that Kane, while not in the match either, hit a Chokeslam on Sami who actually was still in the match, and no disqualification was made for the USA team. What the hell just happened!?
Zack Ryder ends up pinning Sheamus to get the win for Team USA to bring this dumpster fire of a match to a close. Happy Fourth of July everybody, please forget this Raw happened.
Well, I was right wasn’t I? It was a holiday and WWE didn’t even try this week. That was by far the longest three hours I’ve had to sit through in a while. Let’s try and find some positives though. The New Day/Wyatt Family story is traveling along perfectly, the women’s division appears to be going in a positive direction, Vickie Guerrero was supremely entertaining and she can come back anytime she pleases and the food fight to start the show was fun. I can’t find any other positives outside of those few.
I’ve said it week in and week out, WWE are padding for time until July 19th and the Draft comes along and this week it was even more glaringly obvious. They were expecting a record low viewership this week and boy do they deserve it. Can July 19th please just happen already? For a Raw with very few positives, a dumpster fire of a main event and almost no memorable moments, this may be the worst Raw of 2016 thus far.
Final Rating: 2.5/10