Notes In Observance – WWE Raw 4/25/16: Everything’s A Collusion

WWE RawBy Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post. 

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 4/25/16)

Everything’s A Collusion 

– WWE’s biggest intrigue remained the question if AJ Styles, the #1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, was in cahoots with New Japan newcomers Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson of the former Bullet Club, which Styles was once a part of. It’s a great way of meshing “smart” storylines within WWE’s realm of sports entertainment superficiality. Gallows/Anderson have attacked Reigns’ cousins, The Usos and then Reigns himself. Styles continued to deny any prior knowledge, while it seemed that Gallows/Anderson were taking advantage of how it all appeared. Storytelling at its best, because otherwise, Styles-Reigns would completely falter. Reigns just won the World Title at WrestleMania and is primed for a long run, while Styles, a relative WWE newcomer, needs some credibility. He’s a guy who can main event off his name alone, but not one to win a World Title just yet. This “Is He? Isn’t He?” storyline is the perfect mask to cover the initial faults of the current biggest program headed into Payback.

– This episode donned from Hartford, Connecticut, not far from WWE Headquarters, proudly grounded in Stamford. Shane McMahon came out, as it was apparent he’d be running the show yet again. Perfect time for Stephanie McMahon to come out and “kill the buzz,” while the crowd loved Shane and played right into Steph’s perfect attempts at heat by calling herself “Hartford’s Favorite Daughter.” All in all, this was to hype Payback in that Vince McMahon would decide once and for all who’d run Raw with the satisfactory moment of seeing current boss Shane eject old boss Steph from the arena with security. A key highlight was Shane’s “poll,” where he literally had the crowd in his hands. Fine segment.

– In further attempts to sell Styles as a legit contender, he partook in his second consecutive back-and-forth competitive match, this time against Sheamus, who got his own music and no League of Nations non-sense besides the loose faction mention. The match lasted longer than we thought, but the purpose remained the same of putting Styles over and the Phenomenal Forearm looked vicious as always. Also liked the finishing touch of Anderson/Gallows applauding on stage. We were curious what that “BG-4-LIFE” patch was referring to.

– Clever transition into the backstage segment with Reigns/The Usos, as they watched off a television monitor and were further convinced that Styles/Gallows/Anderson were all aligned. It fit the “One Vs. All” theme Reigns stood by and showed that Reigns had his cousins back and they had his.

– The in-ring segment with WWE World Tag Team Champions The New Day, Enzo Amore/Big Cass and The Vaudevillains gave a proper rub to the tournament finals to determine #1 contender’s. New Day did their usual “Booty-O’s” thing, while Enzo/Cass were… Enzo/Cass and more importantly, Vaudevillains further established themselves as pure throwbacks out to “refine” a modern era. New Day confidently claimed they’d beat whoever won between the other two, but it was all about Payback hype.

– A fine in-ring debut for Gallows/Anderson against The Usos, though we never expected it to go as long as 14 minutes. For what it was though, they had time to show Gallows/Anderson dominating, build time for the hot tag and show the stark differences in both teams’ approach – Gallows/Anderson reliant upon strikes/submissions and Usos using their strength/agility. The most memorable part was the finish and how Gallows/Anderson simply took over the final minutes, dividing and conquering their way to the Magic Killer and a first win. The post-match interaction made sense as far as them going for more even after the bell and getting cleared out by Reigns who defended his cousins.

– The backstage segment with Styles, Gallows and Anderson was a logical follow-up to what previously transpired, with Styles not pleased with his friends “not staying out of trouble.” The key here was that Gallows/Anderson tried to convince Styles they had his back, with glaring red flags all over the place. The “our friendship is forever” line was also big. Perhaps it was set by design for everyone to predict a swerve, but we’re almost certain that Styles isn’t in on this and that creates the intrigue of “the third man.” Also loved that Byron Saxton referred to a “smoking gun.” So tongue-in-cheek.

– Undoubtedly, the show’s best part – the in-depth hype video that chronicled the entire Sami Zayn-Kevin Owens storyline in WWE from their initial best friendship, through WWE NXT and climaxing at the Royal Rumble when Zayn entered to take Owens out. We had clear explanations from both ends on why the friendship soured. Both guys were like family before Zayn got called by WWE before Owens, something that ate Owens up. Owens showed great heel logic in explaining that business was business and Zayn stood in his way of providing for his family and Zayn made it personal.  On the other side, you felt Zayn’s wrath in getting his big break practically taken away from him by his best friend. This now truly feels like a showdown destined to happen at Payback. Nice touch that Owens donned a Pro Wrestling Guerrilla shirt in one of the two “best friend” stills. How awesome will it be down the road if they ever decide to team Zayn/Owens together?

– The Zayn-Rusev match lasted longer than we thought, but it did enough to show us the babyface fire of Zayn mixed with the muscle of Rusev, again accompanied by a slightly more provocative Lana. Certainly a momentum builder for Zayn headed into Payback. The finish was great as we saw Zayn counter the Accolade into a school boy to secure the upset. Even better was the post-match attack by Owens on Zayn on the stage, which ironically stayed consistent to their hype video, easily comparable to when Zayn was laid out at NXT TakeOver: R-Evolution in Dec. 2014. Perfect feud progress. On another note, why does Lana always throw her shoe?

– The Apollo Crews-Stardust bout was a follow-up to their odd backstage segment where Crews tried to compliment Stardust by thanking his father for inspiring him and giving him the “Apollo” name. So, what did his mother name him? You mean he’s not really Apollo? Jaw-dropped. Stardust’s stance was that even Dusty couldn’t make Apollo a star. Right. The match itself was okay as far as Crews doing his “big man flies around” gimmick, but he could use some new moves as it all feels repetitive after some time. At least it was a step up from Social Outcasts.

– The in-ring segment with Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose was quite strong as far as Payback hype. Ambrose’s “serious” mood was perfect for the occasion in contrast with recent segments, where his lines were cutesy. Ambrose made it clear he was different from Jericho while calling out Jericho’s biggest flaws in being a respect-demanding, self-centered jerk. Jericho was right on his heel game by insulting the town and calling Ambrose a disrespectful idiot who was lucky to fight him to begin with because he elevated the careers of everyone he fought. You got the sense this was more personal and less about stolen talk show segments. This was the shot in the arm it needed, with the right physicality, as Ambrose first attacked before ending up in a Walls Of Jericho on the announce table. It was consistent with Jericho constantly getting the better of Ambrose.

– As Payback nears, Natalya continued to come across as more of a threat to WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte by outlasting Emma in front of Charlotte herself at ringside on commentary who badmouthed her Payback opponent for “parading around” her uncle Bret while she was a walking contradiction doing the same with her two-time Hall Of Fame father. Some nice moves by Emma, but it didn’t take long before she was tapping out to the Sharpshooter. Also liked the intense expression Natalya shot both Flairs before departing.

– As always, a classy video to commemorate the late Chyna. If you haven’t checked out writer Anthony Zevoteck’s heartfelt obituary, you can do so here.

– As per their storyline, it was the right time to have Dolph Ziggler attack Baron Corbin for a change. Better yet, Damien Sandow was spared being squashed. Surely, it’ll happen on SmackDown. Nothing like a good revenge angle.

– In case you didn’t know about Puerto Rico’s rampant nightlife scene, there was Primo and Epico to give you a friendly reminder. How nice of them.

– The in-ring segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz, Maryse and Cesaro was a fine personification of the feud thus far – “Hollywood” Miz amped by his wife’s reappearance mixed with Cesaro’s momentous return and an overhanging theme of action movie quotes and Intercontinental supremacy in the balance. This was an intense exchange, as the IC Title was pushed for its long-lasting legacy by both men, with Miz having it signify his superiority and Cesaro out to take it from him. Nice physicality with Maryse throwing herself on Miz to prevent him getting tossed and Cesaro simply posing with the belt.

– The Reigns-Styles backstage segment was a nice tease that furthered their interactions, as Styles was confident he’d take the belt, with Reigns again referencing that that was possible if Styles had his buddies with him “with ringside tickets.”

– The Reigns-Alberto Del Rio main event followed the formula of the opener, except with Reigns in Styles’ role. How could they make us boo a man who came out and embraced a disabled child before his match? That didn’t fit “tweener Reigns” and this was mostly “good guy Reigns.” That didn’t spell good for the main event, tame with the tired formula. However, all was forgiven by the finish where Gallows/Anderson tried to deter Reigns from winning, but it backfired. We finally got the “OMG” moments when Styles came out to stop his friends after they attacked Reigns again before getting Superman Punched by Reigns himself, prompting a silencing Phenomenal Forearm. Oh, this peaked at the right time.

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Results

  • AJ Styles def. Sheamus via pinfall
  • Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson def. The Usos via pinfall
  • Sami Zayn def. Rusev (w/Lana) via pinfall
  • Apollo Crews def. Stardust via pinfall
  • Natalya def. Emma via submission 
  • Roman Reigns def. Alberto Del Rio via pinfall
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About Nicholas Jason Lopez

Just a 25 year-old Brooklynite. Nothing more, nothing less. Currently Freelancing for The Bensonhurst Bean website in Brooklyn, he has also been published on sites such as Review Fix, College University of New York Athletic Conference, Dying Scene, Brooklyn News Service, All Media NY, BrooklynFans.com and Yahoo Voices. He has also interned for The Home Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator based out of Brooklyn, NY.

Posted on May 2, 2016, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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