Before starting the Raw recap, I must first make mention of Booker T being named the new GM of Smackdown. A lot of people don’t like the move because they can’t stand Booker behind the microphone but think about this: now that Booker T is the GM he can’t be a commentator. That means less Booker screen time total. An overall win for the WWE Universe. Granted it means Michael Cole and Josh Matthews yammering on together, but you have to start somewhere. Now let’s move on to Raw, in which the description on my DVR reads “General Manager AJ runs televisions longest-running weekly episodic show.” Sucks you right in doesn’t it?
AJ of course leads things off skipping into the ring. Not very professional. Way too much emphasis is being put on GM’s in wrestling. It’s an easy plot device but it doesn’t have to be worked into every story line. She announces that tonight Randy Orton will face the Big Show (meh), and Daniel Bryan will take on John Cena (interesting). Before getting to a third match she’s cut off by CM Punk sans chin hair. Don’t worry, the rest of his beard is there.
Punk is out to apologize to AJ for yelling at her at the end of last night’s show when she announced he’ll face Cena and Show at Summerslam, with the intent of getting her to back out of the match (something we can all agree on). Of course AJ doesn’t cancel the match and Punk calls out AJ for having it out for him because he wouldn’t marry her. It’s pretty impressive how quick Punk was able to get heat from the fans. It’s like he was never a face for the last year. Funny considering it took Jericho months to do it (just in time to turn face). AJ can’t stop moving her back the whole time and while I get that she’s trying to be cute and sexy, it kinda looks like she has a back problem. Punk wants a new opponent instead of either Show or Cena, and that of course brings Cena out to go into his normal routine of telling his opponent how they should act in the WWE, naturally leading to boos from the crowd and clouding the line between who the face is here. He also told AJ she smells great, which I’m sure will be trending in minutes.
Punk and Cena get into a shouting match about who will beat who at Summerslam (points to Punk for referring to Grays Sports Almanac in bringing up last year’s Summerslam). Eventually Big Show comes out too, but happily before he can get the mic, AJ stops everything and makes her third announcement. CM Punk will be in the first match of the night against an opponent the fans will pick. It will either be the Miz, Kane or Rey Mysterio. This is already better than last week’s fan poll for a match stipulation because all the options aren’t the same.
Turns out Mysterio wins the vote and we get him versus Punk. It’s interesting to me that Miz was involved in the match at all since he is a title holding heel. I’d love to see how that would have worked. Punk sells a couple of kicks to the leg and sells it for most of the match. Consider the field leveled. During the break Mysterio went for a 619 that Punk cut off with a clothesline. Would have been nice to see that live. I bet it was exciting live. Punk and Mysterio get a couple of nice sequences going. Mysterio reversing a sunset flip into a kick to the head, then turning a GTS attempt into a 619 before Punk put his knees up as Rey went for the finishing blow off the top rope. That gave Punk the opening to hit the GTS for real and win the match. Good opening match that gave you just enough reason to think Punk could lose when you knew there was no way in hell Punk was going to lose.
Backstage Ricardo Rodriguez is sucking up to Alberto Del Rio in spanish while Del Rio yells at him in english. He knows he is supposed to be Mexican right? Back from commercial we get a Wade Barrett commercial. Apparently he went soft while he was away, and toughened up again by going back into the bare knuckle boxing circuit in Britain (think Brad Pitt in Snatch). Whatever. He’s a good worker and he’ll be welcomed back. Del Rio is out to kiss AJ’s ass and avoid getting into a match before his title shot at Summerslam. He ruins it all of course when he says he knew she wouldn’t do something “crazy,” which is the secret word I guess because now he is going to be booked for a match. During the segment they showed the crowd watching the segment on the big screen. Just standing there. I never wanted to be at a televised WWE event less.
Del Rio’s match is against Christian, and Alberto is still taking off his suit and buckling his boots on the way to the ring. They are still showing the incident last month where Del Rio smashed Sheamus’ arm with the hood of his car from a month ago. Anything to make him look badass against a guy that just beat him a few weeks ago at MITB. As always we’re told how angry and aggressive Del Rio is tonight. I suppose they have to keep telling us because he can’t let us know with his actions. After a handful of good moves on both sides, Christian goes to the top rope with Del Rio down, but Ricardo interferes with Christian and the ref, giving Del Rio enough time to hit Christian with his boot. Yup, his shoe. That should have the same impact that every standard kick to the head has but in this case it’s enough to get the pin. Before going to break Sheamus gets on screen and says he’s going to take Del Rio’s car (since Ricardo left the keys in it) and tour San Antonio. If nothing else, it reminds me of the old days when any car or truck or plane shown on Raw was immediately stolen or destroyed. I imagine the same will happen here.
Orton versus Big Show next. The one interesting thing here is that neither man would normally be allowed to lose clean outside a PPV. Turns into more of what we always see from Show now. Throwing his opponent around while telling us how easy it is for him to do so. Just kills the crowd. Orton finally gets some offense and takes him out with a dropkick. The RKO attempt turns into a chokeslam and a near fall. The next few minutes alternate between Orton building offense in the ring to Show throwing him out of the ring. Orton pushes Show into the steel post (which I guess is the go-to daze Big Show move) but show reverses another RKO and hits a spear outside the ring, with the match ending in a count out (there’s your non-finish). Big Show decides to finish off Orton anyway and bring him in the ring for a WMD, but Orton ducks under it and hits an RKO to knock out Show. Didn’t think I’d see Show get laid out like that two weeks before Summerslam, but perhaps Orton will join the title match. He’ll have to be used somehow.
Ryback out for a squash match against Reks and Hawkins. I normally wouldn’t have much to say here but Ryback has a bit of a shiner on left eye. Rumor has it that he got into an argument with Brock Lesnar while Lesnar was rehearsing an angle for his Summerslam match, and the two got into a shoving match that ended in Lesnar punching Ryback three times in the face. WWE says it’s all false, but Ryback’s face sure does look messed up. We also got to hear Ryback speak more while explaining where is catch phrases come from. I wish he’d just not talk ever. He takes an extra bump but still wins pretty easily. Okay way too much Ryback talk. Let’s move on.
As it occurs to me that we’re only halfway through Raw (good god this is a long show), we come back from break to see none other than AW of All World Promotions in the ring to introduce the Prime Time Players. This is a little surprising after he made his little Kobe Bryant rape joke last week. So Jericho breaks a Brazilian flag law he didn’t know existed until after he did it during a house show and gets suspended, but AW tells a rape joke on national TV and we see him the next week? Your WWE everyone! And he’s mic’d up!
Anyway they are up against Epico and Primo, who noticeably are without Rosa. It’s noticeable because that’s the only thing that really stands out with that team. It turns out that Sunday night Rosa was found in a bathroom stall at the San Antonio airport crying and told the police she had been beaten several times by her fiance (reportedly former WWE talent Jackson Andrews) and feared for her life. WWE says they will provide her with professional assistance and of course we hope for the best in this situation.
AW may still be mic’d up for the match, but he has definitely been toned down. His act has mostly been reduced to just shouting a handful of phrases, and instead of a Kobe rape joke, he goes in the complete opposite direction, saying that “Darren Young is like Mother Theresa, he can do no wrong!” Easily the best reversal of the night. Epico and Primo were taking over but AW pulled his boys out like we’ve seen a million times before. Only this time Truth and Kofi came out to keep them from leaving, and Epico covered Young for the win. Backstage Damien Sandow says that he attacked Brodus Clay because he wants to rid the WWE of foolish acts like dancing, and he’ll finish the job tonight. Sounds like he’s been watching Footloose too much. The match doesn’t even get started before he makes good on his promise, taking out Clay on the stage in the beginning of his introduction. He attacks his ankle and with any luck we won’t be seeing Brodus for a little while. Sandow on the other hand is in full heel mode. He’s drawing a ton of heat.
Back backstage Bryan and AJ continue their feud (with AJ’s boots in the middle to remind us she used to wrestle), where AJ informs Bryan that he will face Kane at Summerslam. There is absolutely no reason for this to happen except for Daniel Bryan needing a match and Kane is a warm body. I wonder if Kane can be put in the YES! Lock. Kelly Kelly is back for the first time in a couple of months and beat Eve. The most notable thing is that there was actually a Diva’s match on Raw for the first time in a forever.
Being in San Antonio we need to have a Shawn Michael’s appearance, and sure enough he is in the ring to help promote Triple H versus Brock Lesnar. Sorry but a little of the nostalgia is worn out since we just saw him two weeks ago. He says that backstage all the superstars are talking about Brock versus Triple H (doubtful), and before long he is interrupted by Lesnar and Heyman (which puts another dent in the Lesnar/Ryback story). Thankfully Heyman does all the talking for Brock. He’s even great at just saying the name “Brock Lesnar.” He says Brock is not out to be an “entertainer,” but to fight and prove that he is the “baddest dude on the planet today.” Yup, he said “dude.” Michaels says they messed up by going after Triple H’s family which is why he thinks he will beat Lesnar, and that he’ll be in Triple H’s corner at Summerslam. Heyman starts to explain Brock will end his career and all the other stuff that makes Heyman fun, but Lesnar grabs the mic and moves to take out Michaels before Triple H steps in to help his buddy. Lesnar stares down both of them before telling Triple H he’ll see him at Summerslam, and tells Michaels he’ll see him before then. The only question is will it be tonight or next week.
Remember when a wrestler would steal another wrestler’s car and spend the rest of the show taking it to different places or crashing into something and we’d see it in glorious HD? Well now when that happens the action gets TOUT’ed. Good lord I hate tout. So far all we’ve gotten was a 15 second clip of Sheamus sitting in the car at the Alamo. If we don’t get a pay off for his it will be a huge missed opportunity. On the bright side, we haven’t gotten any fan TOUT’s yet.
Dolph Ziggler (and his fresh dye job) next against Alex Riley with Chris Jericho ringside. Basic Ziggler match but it’s all about Jericho promoting his feud with Dolph. He says he needed someone like Dolph to lite a fire under him. Cole keeps bringing up that he hasn’t won a big match since he came back and us stretched too thin with the music and TV and everything else, leading Jericho to slip. Say what you want about Cole, but every now and again he sounds like a real broadcaster. Jericho gets his digs in and all Lawler can do is cut them off to tell his jokes. Jericho, who has all of Ziggler’s attention, decides to TOUT the match, as Ziggler gets rolled up by Riley to cost him the match. Good feud they have going here.
Even more TOUTing shows Sheamus spilling food in Del Rio’s car. At least the WWE found a way to save money on remote shooting. He at least brought it back on regular cameras with the engine smoking and the car covered in mud and mexican food. Remember the fan vote on the opening match from hours ago? Well the two guys that weren’t picked, Kane and Miz, now get to face each other. I’ve critiqued Kane a lot but he really does seem to be back in ring shape lately. He’s gotten quicker and is showing much more in ring ability than he did when he first came back. He made short work of the Intercontinental Champion, finishing him off with a chokeslam.
Main event time as Daniel Bryan comes out in his new NO! shirt. Absolutely awesome. The only problem is that it will be like the YES! chant is selling out (even more than before). It’s just ridiculous and Bryan is turning more and more psycho. The Cena chants for both sides are so loud (audio enhanced by WWE?) that Cena himself takes notice, causing Bryan to yell at the crowd because it should be about him. Cole also informs us that he has changed the YES! Lock, which used to be the LeBell Lock, to the NO! Lock. That’s three names for one move in about four months. It’s pretty fun watching the smaller Bryan knock out Cena with a flying knee, then start yelling NO! right in the face of people in the crowd that yell YES! right back in his face. It will be too bad when the chant jumps the shark in a few weeks. Bryan controls most of the match before SuperCena shows up for his usual comeback arsenal. Cena looks like he’s going to hit the AA but Bryan turns it into a guillotine hold. After Cena escapes the hold Bryan comes back to land a diving headbutt from almost the length of the ring. Cena then ducks a kick to the head and applies an STF, which Bryan nearly reverses into a NO! Lock, only to be countered with an AA to get the win for Cena. Pretty damn good match.
After the match Punk comes out to hold his title in Cena’s face, but before anything else can happen Show comes down the ramp and Cena shoves Punk aside as the two fight. Once again Punk is stuck on the sidelines. After a quick spot Cena lifts show up for an AA but Punk hits Show from behind causing him to fall on top of Cena. Cena grabs a set of headphones and says it’s his fault that he isn’t being respected because he’s been smiling and kissing babies and playing nice all this time only to be stepped on. Sounds a lot like Big Show all of a sudden. He says that for the third straight Raw, the show will end with Cena and Show on the floor with Punk walking out. He’s completely done even pretending to be a face now. Punk goes to take out Show, but Show delivers a WMD on Punk and Cena instead, and the show ends with Big Show standing over both of them with the belt on his shoulder. Good way to make up for his getting got by Orton earlier.
Two shows in and I don’t have that much to complain about with the three-hour format. I hate TOUT and the self promotion is just ridiculous, but it’s nothing I wouldn’t be bitching about normally. So far so good.