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   October 02, 2014



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Raw: Celebrating Ultimate Warrior and witnessing a powerful reunion
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


Triple H has been foiled at every turn in recent months, which can't sit well with the COO. Having lost the battle with Daniel Bryan, he's got to act to ensure he doesn't lose a war with the Shield. We'll see what his next move will be in Birmingham, Alabama, as Raw beams our way live on USA.

Tonight’s show begins the only way that is proper: with a tribute to the late Ultimate Warrior. There’s a moment of silence as the ring bell tolls ten times. Most of the wrestlers on stage are wearing Ultimate Warrior t-shirts as a sign of respect too. We’ll see more stuff dedicated to celebrating the Warrior’s life throughout the night, as well as the beginning of the eight-man tournament to decide the number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship.

Match 1 - Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam - Intercontinental Title Number One Contender Tournament - First Round Match

Both of these guys have had even loftier title reigns in the past. It’s not exactly a “how the mighty have fallen” situation, but it’s at least going down that path. Van Dam is welcomed back to the WWE by being driven hard into the retaining wall before we step out for commercials. RVD ends up getting hurt badly enough that the announcers are saying the match may have to be stopped, but he rallies like a soccer player popping up off the stretcher to hit the Five Star Frog Splash and advance to the second round.

It’s video time! From SummerSlam 1998, it’s Honky Tonk Man rashly saying he didn’t care who he wrestled. In comes Ultimate Warrior, out goes the IC belt. Sorry Honky Tonk Man!

The Authority gives a sales pitch to Batista and Randy Orton, but it remains to be seen if they can convince them to work with Triple H. They don’t want to play ball for the time being, but Stephanie tells her husband she has an idea.

Match 2 - Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel

The only question here is which brother is going to take the beating for the longest period of time. Looks like it’s going to be Goldust. Cody tags in and ends his flurry with a moonsault that only catches Ryback partially, but his dive from the top rope to the floor connects full force. A Disaster Kick clobbers Axel, but he’s not the legal man. Cody tries for Ryback too, but his Meat Hook clothesline meets Rhodes while he’s springboarding off the ropes, and the brothers end up going down to defeat.

What to do when the WWE Network subscriber numbers aren’t where you hoped they’d be? Why, promote Legends’ House, of course! Sorry, there’s no way I’m watching that. I’m also not a Boliever yet, in case you were wondering.

Match 3 - Paige vs. Alicia Fox

Hey, it’s the new girl! And the champion! And it’s the same woman! Fox wants to give the instant Divas Champion a rude awakening with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Paige gets thrown to the mat by her hair, but the instant Divas Champion fights back with aggressive strikes, and her cool submission hold makes Fox tap out.

Match 4 - The Usos vs. Batista and Randy Orton

The tag team champions waste no time, flying out to the floor in tandem to hit both of their foes. They’re wearing Ultimate Warrior-esque facepaint tonight. There’s the “Bootista” chant we were all waiting to hear. A Batista spinebuster finds the mark, but he’s soon hit by a Samoan drop. Orton fights one of the brothers to the floor, where the Shield is waiting for an ambush. That’s the end of the match but not the punishment for Orton and Batista. Roman Reigns lands the superman punch on Batista, who fortunately has Orton close by to help him escape further harm.

The next Ultimate Moment is WrestleMania VI. If I have to tell you what this one is, you must have just started watching wrestling last week. That was Warrior at his peak.

Batista and Orton lick their wounds while walking backstage. They run into Triple H and Stephanie, who simply exchange glares with them.

Paul Heyman wants all of us to know that his client Brock Lesnar conquered “The Streak.” Oh, we’ll get to see the historic photographs that prove it too. But he’s here mostly to promote his new client, Cesaro. It’s time for the King of Swing to do his thing. Sorry, couldn’t help myself there.

Match 5 - Cesaro vs. Mark Henry - Intercontinental Championship Number One Contender Tournament - First Round Match

Henry is able to toss the Swiss Superman around after they lock up early, so Heyman calms his new charge down before he re-enters the ring. That works wonders as Cesaro charges back in and goes to work on Henry in the corner. A series of uppercuts chop the World’s Strongest Man down to size, and Cesaro is able to lift the massive Henry up for a Neutralizer that advances him to the semi-finals.

Hey, Brad Maddox! I almost forgot about that guy. The Authority wants Maddox to find the Shield and tell the group that it will be in the main event tonight. When Brad asks the obvious question -- namely, if he can tell the Shield members who their opponents will be -- Steph says no.

Match 6 - Alexander Rusev vs. Xavier Woods

Rusev unloads with knee shots and kicks. Yikes. A spinning slam leads to the Accolade, and Woods is submitting in super fast fashion. R-Truth tries to defend his friend’s honor after the bell, and while Lana initially appears to call Rusev off, it’s merely a delaying tactic until Truth lets his guard down. That’s pain for both of them.

Michael Cole and company give us a look at what’s on the WWE Network right now. Wait, you don’t want people watching during Raw!

Match 7 - Jack Swagger vs. Sheamus - Intercontinental Championship Number One Contender Tournament - First Round Match

Surprisingly, neither of these men has ever worn the IC belt. Sheamus starts fast but is done in by a Zeb Colter distraction. Big E looks on backstage with the obligatory Serious Look (patent pending) on his face. Sheamus slowly works his way back into control, raining down ten shots to Swagger’s chest and getting a near fall. He tries springboarding in off the apron but flops right into the Patriot Lock. Sheamus is stuck in the middle of the ring, but he flips over and throws Swagger off of him. Sheamus is sent out to the floor where a running charge by Swagger does some damage. Jack can’t capitalize though, as he runs directly into a Brogue Kick when they climb back between the ropes. Sheamus gets the three count and moves on.

Warrior Week, a special four-part presentation, begins tomorrow night at 10 pm on the WWE Network. Out in the ring, Damien Sandow wants to talk, even after the entrance music hits for the Big Show. He does an admirable job continuing his speech, though whether he’s earned the respect he craves is debatable. He’s been a jobber as of late. How about a knockout punch instead? Once that’s over, the Wyatt Family appears to tell us they’re up next.

Bray Wyatt doesn’t seem to be finished with John Cena just yet. He invites John out to come and play, but I’m not sure that phrase means the same thing to both of them. Cena claims the monster Wyatt tried to bring out of him at WrestleMania doesn’t exist and attempts to use some reverse psychology on the trio. He finishes with the Foley-esque cheap pop by saying “Roll Tide.” Wait, Cena also found Sister Abigail on MySpace plus Mama Wyatt and a newborn baby Wyatt girl as well. Bray taunts Cena for turning everything into jokes, getting the obvious response that John won the last round and the tables might be turned next time around. Insinuating that Luke Harper and Erick Rowan give Wyatt his edge, Cena challenges him to a Steel Cage Match at Extreme Rules. Bray likes it, but you knew that already.

Match 8 - Santino Marella and Emma vs. Fandango and Layla

I wasn’t even aware Fandango and Summer Rae had broken up. It turns out to be a good move, at least in the short term, as Layla helps her new man pick up a victory.

Stephanie lays into Kane backstage, harshly criticizing him for his job performance in recent weeks. Ah, she’s using reverse psychology too. That’s popular tonight! Kane stares at his old mask inside its glass case before removing it and telling Steph he’s going to eviscerate Daniel Bryan and send him to the depths of hell. Now you’ve gone and done it!

Stop it Bo Dallas.

We rewind to last week to see the Warrior’s final public appearance. Crazy that he was gone the next day.

Match 9 - Dolph Ziggler vs. Bad News Barrett - Intercontinental Championship Number One Contender Tournament - First Round Match

The announcers play up the importance of the IC title as these two go at it. Ziggler sends Barrett to the floor with a huge clothesline, and they go toe to toe on the outside until Dolph is sent head first into the post. That means commercials. Ziggler gets a near fall when we return, followed by a very close two count for Barrett. Dolph counters a pumphandle slam with a Famouser, but that’s still not enough to close out Bad News. Barrett goes up top but takes too long, giving Ziggler time to hit a bulldog of sorts. Barrett digs down and kicks out again. He utilizes a spinning slam and covers again for two. Barrett wants the Bull Hammer, and his second attempt finds the mark. That’s bad news for Ziggler, who can’t kick out of that move. Sorry again for that. Barrett’s gimmick just lends itself to puns so easily.

Main Event - The Shield vs. Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, Fandango, 3MB, Titus O’Neil, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Alexander Rusev and Bad News Barrett

I’m going to need the SLAM! Wrestling research intern to look up whether this is the first 11-on-3 match in WWE history. There can’t have been too many. Dean Ambrose is first to get stuck in the enemy corner, and it doesn’t go well for him. Eventually everyone gets into the fray at once, the ref calls for the bell, and chaos reigns. In the “taste of your own medicine” category, seeing the Shield helpless against the numbers game ranks pretty high. And what’s that music? The Evolution theme is back as Orton, Triple H and Batista walk down the ramp together. The reunited stable easily manhandles the already weakened Shield despite a gallant last ditch charge by Dean Ambrose. HHH says “Believe in Evolution” before dishing out a Pedigree, and the Shield members lay as battered as they’ve ever been as Raw goes off the air. See you in seven!

Nick Tylwalk certainly believes in evolution with a small 'e,' and he's willing to give Evolution with a big 'E' a chance since the fans are cheering all the other supposed heels right now. Follow Nick on Twitter @Nick_Tylwalk or on Google+ at +NickTylwalk.