The final segment of Monday's RAW wasn't a match, or a segment used to build the WWE World Heavyweight Title match, or even to continue the push of Roman Reigns. Instead, RAW ended with a confrontation between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella.
All night, the WWE teased that Brie had refused to drop the assault charges stemming from last weeks' RAW. Finally, in the final segment, Stephanie came out, and asked Brie to come out as well. Stephanie first told Brie that she would stop antagonizing Nikki, and that she would even give Nikki a raise. Brie said that wasn't enough, and that she wanted her job back.
Stephanie balked, but Brie insisted, saying over and over that she'll “see her [Stephanie] in court”. Stephanie finally agreed, but that wasn't enough for Brie. She wanted a match at SummerSlam with Stephanie. Stephanie again balked, saying she hadn't been in the ring in a decade, and even breaking down into tears. Finally she accepted, cried some more, and then suddenly slapped Brie off the apron and down to the floor. Brie jumped back in and the two had to be separated by officials from the back (including the suddenly used Finlay, Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble).
Now, there's been criticism of this, both for its placement and the content. However, it was almost undoubtedly the most over segment of the night with the crowd. As much as people for the most part don't care for the Bellas, this storyline has really resonated with the fans. My criticism wouldn't be with the placement, as it seemed to deserve the spot, but more that it was almost exactly the scene that played out in November with Triple H and the Big Show (except Big Show got a title match instead of a match with Triple H). But this scene was better than that, and it's largely because of Stephanie McMahon.
In the past year, Stephanie has truly morphed into one of the best heels in the business. She's fully embraced not just an evil role like her father, but she's taken the condescending part of it to a whole new level. She just feels natural in the role. Whether it's against Daniel Bryan, or the Bellas, or whoever else she turns her attention on, the condescending speeches have just been turned to another level.
It's rather amazing, as when she tried to do something similar in 2000 and 2001, it was more annoying than a true heel. This time around, she has hit all the right notes to make herself a bigger heel than even her husband Triple H. It's making people want her comeuppance even more, even if people aren't necessarily looking forward to the upcoming match. And when it comes, you know the crowd is going to go nuts.
The Rest of RAW
** The show opened with a John Cena promo. It was one of his classic serious promos that he truly does well, in my eyes. I understand why he cuts as many jokey promos as he does, but if he did this more often, I think that people wouldn't be nearly as hard on them as they are. He really focused on the passion of the business, saying that Lesnar didn't have it (similar to some of his promos against The Rock). Heyman came out to counter Cena, and then Cesaro, despite breaking away from Heyman, came out to defend Heyman. The two had a really strong match, which ended in a Cena win after a top rope Attitude Adjustment. It was a really well booked match that allowed Cesaro to shine.
** Paige and AJ had a segment to continue their feud. Paige came out and claimed that she just let her emotions get the better of her last week, and that she still wanted to be friends with AJ. AJ came out, and after a back and forth, attacked Paige after Paige called her crazy. Paige managed to get away and get up the ramp. I'm not sure how I felt about this segment. I did like the idea of Paige being manipulative, but I don't think she should have acted so cowardly when AJ started attacking her. What makes Paige so unique is the fact that she's so savage and brutal when she turns that side on. Her character really should be one that can be manipulative, but when it comes time to get physical, she doesn't back away. Hopefully they don't make her too cowardly in her heel turn.
** Chris Jericho and Seth Rollins had a good match, though one with a non-ending. The match was set up earlier in the night when Jericho came out and insulted Stephanie McMahon, harkening back to 2001 by calling her a “trash bag ho”. Rollins came out and attacked Jericho, to defend the Authority. The two had a pretty decent match, but it ended with the Wyatt family coming out to attack. Surprisingly, Dean Ambrose never showed up on the show to continue his feud with Rollins.
** The Usos and Dolph Ziggler beat Rybaxel and The Miz in a six-man tag match. Nothing overly special about this match, though it was interesting that Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston and Big E came down to ringside during the match. They didn't do or say anything, but with both the tag and IC champs being involved, you have to assume that they'll go after one, if not both.
** Somewhat shockingly, R-Truth became the first person to beat Bo Dallas since his addition to the main roster, as he caught Bo with a rollup. After the result, Bo showed his aggressive side for the first time since being called up, throwing Truth around the ring, and then hit him with the double-arm DDT that he used as his finisher in NXT.
** Rusev and Jack Swagger (and by extension Lana and Zeb Colter) had another confrontation. There wasn't a match, but both cut promos, followed by some brawling between Rusev and Swagger. The segment ended with both waving their respective flags, clearly foreshadowing what almost has to be a Flag Match at SummerSlam.
** Roman Reigns was supposed to have a match with Kane, but was ambushed by Randy Orton on the way to the ring. The two beat down Reigns, with Orton being particularly aggressive. This is a side of Orton that we really haven't seen in a while, and it's refreshing. He ended with two RKOs on the announce table, as the table didn't break the first time.
** Naomi and Natalya beat Cameron and Alicia Fox
** Diego (of Los Matadores) beat Fandango, with help from Summer Rae and Layla.
** Adam Rose squashed Damien Sandow, dressed as an astronaut in Houston.
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