With Summerslam just six days away, Raw is here to give us three hours of promos for Sunday’s big PPV. However there is probably more attention being paid to the aftermath of last week’s Smackdown, where after Alberto Del Rio tried to have Sheamus arrested or something before their title match (which was supposed to be at Summerslam anyway), new GM Booker T decided to cancel the match from the card at Summerslam. The amount of on-air activity with the storyline, including how it was announced by Booker instead of through a press release, suggests that this is all a work and more will be revealed throughout the week. However that doesn’t stop the internet from speculating that Sheamus violated some policy or something and has been pulled from the event. These also seems like a good place to mention that Randy Orton is not scheduled to appear at Summerslam. Yet.
For maybe the first time since I started doing this we lead off Raw with an actual match! CM Punk, who has become the constant opening act lately, goes one on one against the Big Show in a non title match. You can bet we’ll see Cena within five minutes of the opening bell. Punk makes Show look as good as he can (including a nice bug-eyed expression on a chokehold). Essentially it’s the same as the Punk/Henry matches from a few months ago. The interesting this match is that it is heel versus heel. At least that’s what it is supposed to be. You wouldn’t know it by the crowd, although if you go by the announcers Big Show is a face. Show escapes a running bulldog to land a spear on Punk, which is a perfect time for our run-in. However it looks like I was wrong about the identity of our intervener. Instead of Cena coming out, Daniel Bryan makes his way down the ramp to make his case for a WWE title shot. He of course does this by screaming at everyone like a lunatic.
Bryan eventually jumps into the ring and attacks Punk, putting him in the
LeBell YES NO lock. Do heels usually get jumped by other heels? Anyway after watching for a bit Big Show decides to step in a go after Bryan (to save Punk?). So now we have three heels, one of whom has no part in the WWE Championship match, all attacking each other. With a face desperately needed John Cena does indeed come out to attack the Big Show (why? I have no idea). Cena knocks Show out of the ring, then Bryan, leaving Punk and Cena in the ring alone. Punk is pissed, wondering why Cena was in the ring at all (as am I) and stealing his spotlight. Before things go any further, power suit AJ makes a tag match for the main event, putting Big Show and Bryan together against Punk and John Cena (who AJ is contractually obligated to mention last with emphasis over everyone else, legitimizing Punk’s issues further).
Some people I’ve never seen before in my life are bitching about not being on Raw despite it being three hours now. AJ comes by and after thinking that he is calling her crazy, she tells him to go to the ring now. Turns out it’s Brooklyn bred JTG, and he’s going to be the guy that loses to Ryback this week. How do you make Ryback’s entrance better? Add his catch phrases to the music! JTG just told the ref he doesn’t want to get pinkeye from Ryback, which is pretty damn cool given recent events. Michael Cole is trying to push a Ryback/Jinder Mahal feud which is hard to sell when one guy hasn’t lost and one guy barely wins. It’s everything you expect from a Ryback match, with the addition of the entire crowd chanting “FEED ME MORE” when he gets into his arm swinging thing. How much of that is artificially added from the arena speakers is anyones guess. Even if the crowds are getting into it, squash matches will just never do it for me in 2012. That’s Saturday morning 80’s stuff.
Forget all that
Goldberg Ryback stuff though, because Rowdy Roddy Piper is in the house! He is going to have a Piper’s Pit segment tonight and the WWE Universe gets to select the guess. The options are Jericho, Ziggler and Miz (sorry, no option for “all.” Piper’s no AJ). Meanwhile it was announced that Santino is going to put his United States Championship on the line for presumably the first time since he won it, against Antonio Cesaro as the YouTube match at Summerslam. Backstage we get a shot of Piper talking about his segment, to none other than Shawn Michaels, who is in the house for the third week in a row. He’s pissed because presumably Triple H is stuck at an airport or something. This is leading up to Michaels getting stuck confronting Brock Lesnar tonight.
Heath Slater is still finding people to wrestle, and for the first time in months he is going against someone who isn’t just returning from retirement or suspension in R-Truth. Truth hits some moves and beats Slater no problem, but after the match the Prime Time Players (without the fired AW) to attack Truth. Kofi Kingston is not here this week because he is on tour in the “far east” which is so far that he won’t be back until tomorrow for Smackdown. So the Prime Time Players get to beat up Truth and look formidable for Summerslam, but I fear that after they lose to Kofi/Truth on Sunday we won’t hear from them again unless they get a suitable manager. Teddy Long anyone?
What are the odds that after I mention Mark Henry for the first time in ages, Mark Henry gets shown on Raw for being in London for the olympics. Don’t worry, he TOUT’d it. He’ll probably come back as a heel, but he looks like the jolliest fat guy you’ve ever see. This was followed by a promo for DJ Pauly D, who is tonight’s social media ambassador and was immediately booed the moment his picture was shown on screen. I don’t know who he, or any Jersey Shore personality, is supposed to attract to anyone’s product at this point. It what has been the longest amount of time we’ve gone without a match tonight, we now get a recap of all the Sheamus/Del Rio nonsense that no one cares about. Another rumor to why the match was taken off the card is that the fans are so sick of these two fighting each other that they decided to cancel it. The only issue with this is that it looks pretty bad to not have the World Heavyweight Championship defended at a PPV. This could also just be a plot to get interest back into a match no one wanted. Del Rio TOUT’d that he’ll have a talk with Booker T about getting his title shot taken from him, and I’m now reporting what people TOUT. Shoot me now.
Sin Cara versus Tensai next. Last week on Smackdown Cody Rhodes tried to take Sin Cara’s mask off for the entire match, costing him in the end. That sounds a lot more interesting than anything Tensai can offer. We’ve got a match here between two guys that don’t speak. Sin Cara hits a spinning DDT thing and beats Tensai in about a minute. Remember when he was an unstoppable force? Well now he’s a jobber who can only beat his own his worshipper Sakamoto.
Time for Piper’s Pit, and Piper sounds like a blabbering idiot but he’s better at that than most of the current roster is at sounding smart. Jericho wins the fan vote and off we go. If I remember right the last time these two were in the ring together Jericho slapped Piper in the face for being a has been. It’s face Jericho now so I think we’ll be good. Piper brings up Mickey Rourke beating up Jericho, who in response beings up how he beat Piper at WrestleMania. Piper takes over an goes into full promotion mode, saying how it’s Jericho’s turn to win the big one, until he gets cut off by Vicki Guerrero and Ziggler, proving again that it doesn’t really matter what the fans vote for. He calls Piper old because that’s what heels do (just ask Jericho). Ziggler says Jericho will be washed up like Piper, Jericho says Ziggler has a bowl of spaghetti on his head, and proceeds to go through all of his catchphrases in saying that he’s going to win. Piper rambles in the middle of all of this while Miz comes out as well to say he’s good at wrestling too and wants to take the show over from Piper. I have no idea where he fits in this whole thing but whatever. Jericho eventually has enough and throws them both out of the ring. Despite how poorly it was just pushed I’m really looking forward to this match, and feel like Ziggler will cheat his way to victory. He’s had the upper hand way to often for it to work out his way at Summerslam.
Back from commercial we get a triple threat match between Ziggler, Jericho and Miz. For a minute I was worried I wouldn’t get to see my boy in action. Dolph and Miz team up on Jericho turning it into a glorified handicap match. It was also just announced that Miz will defend his Intercontinental Championship at Summerslam against Rey Mysterio. Solid mid card match. It should be noted that both of these announcement were made via AJ’s twitter, instead of verbally on the show we’re watching. The team up works well until Ziggler goes for the first cover. Miz breaks it up and the partnership is out the window. Jericho uses the opportunity to gain some momentum of his own. It eventually turns into an extended period of Miz versus Jericho while Ziggler recovers outside. Every time Ziggler tries to get in the ring someone knocks him out. First Miz with a shoulder, then Jericho with a springboard dropkick. We all just love watching sell so it’s all good. Jericho hits a lionsault on Miz, but Ziggler breaks up the pin. Highlight of the night now as Jericho attempts to pull off a superplex from the top rope on Miz, while Ziggler simultaneously hits Jericho with a power bomb. This match has been great to watch. We finally get Jericho and Dolph one on one and get a nice (albeit brief) sequence before Miz gets back into it. Skull crushing finale on Ziggler, followed by Miz escaping the Walls of Jericho, with Jericho then hitting a codebreaker on Ziggler, who is saved by Vicki putting Dolph’s foot on the rope. Jericho then reverses a skull crushing finale into the Walls of Jericho, but Vicki distracts the ref from seeing Miz tap, giving Dolph the opportunity to hit a Zig Zag on Jericho for the win. So much for Jericho having too much positive momentum. Jericho is definitely winning at Summerslam. Fantastic match.
Backstage Shawn Michaels is still crapping his pants while Punk tells Cena that he’s not the bad guy and totally exposes the cliché that heels hate getting put into matches. He says he knows a face is supposed to say “Triple threat? Sign me up! I’ll fight anybody at anytime,” but he has a problem with the match, wants to keep his title and is being vocal about it. He says he won’t stab Cena, or anybody else in the back, and that he isn’t “that guy.” Really smart and well done little promo that goes into one of wrestling’s strangest flaws, and one that I fear will get completely overlooked.
A Diva’s match happened. Before it started Jerry Lawler asked “who wouldn’t be exited that it’s a Diva’s match?” I wonder if he had ever seen a Diva’s match before. Best part about it was the crowd chanting for Sable. Moving on.
Main event time at the start of hour two, meaning the Triple H/Lesnar contract signing will close the show. Big Show is mean, Bryan is crazy, and Punk does the one hand clap for Cena’s entrance and away we go. Cena starts the match but Punk slaps Cena’s back to tag himself in and lifts the bottom rope to let Cena out of the ring (awesome). Before long Cena returns the favor and tags himself in. Bryan meanwhile refuses to tag Big Show in, of course yelling “NO!” at him. Big Show finally gets in and you know the drill. After Show dominates Cena for a while Bryan tags himself in now, and immediately gives Cena the chance to get to his corner, and Punk tags himself in again (see the trend?). A cover on Bryan gets broken up by Big Show, causing Punk to go toward his corner to tag in Cena who, to Punk’s surprise, isn’t in his corner and instead recovering on the floor. This gives Bryan and Show the chance to attack Punk. Big Show is ready to knock out Punk in the middle of the ring, but again Bryan tags himself in, pissing off Show and giving Punk an opening. With Show now watching idle, Punk sees Cena, now back in his corner, but refuses to tag him in. Instead he goes into Cena’s signature routine, and is about to do the five knuckle shuffle until Cena tags himself in and does the high knee with the running bulldog. Pretty great spot. Punk has enough and hits the floor himself, telling Cena to go ahead and be the man. Bryan looks to take advantage of a distracted Cena but instead get an AA for his trouble and Cena wins. Big Show comes in to likely attack Cena but Punk intercepts and hits Show with the belt, leaving Cena and Punk face to face. Punk extends his hand to Cena, who doesn’t shake it as an offended Punk leaves the ring saying “Maybe you’re that guy.” Very well done.
I have to think the next few months can go one of two ways. Cena wins at Summerslam, loses to Rock at Royal Rumble, leading to Rock/Punk at WrestleMania. The other way, which in my mind is most likely, is that Punk wins at Summerslam, loses to the Rock at Rumble, leading to Cena beating Rock for the Championship at WrestleMania. Backstage Punk says Cena not shaking his hand is the ultimate form of disrespect (uh oh) and that he’ll teach everyone a lesson on Sunday. This really is one of the better heel turns I’ve seen in a while.
To cool off the crowd before Lesnar/Triple H, here comes Damien Sandow to go against Christian. Doesn’t take long before Brodus Clay comes out (in walking boot) to get revenge on Sandow for smacking him around the last couple of weeks. Clay stops halfway down the ramp, distracting Sandow so Christian can attempt a roll up pin. Sandow kicks out however and finishes off Christian while Clay watches. Sandow is definitely getting over and has a full on Footloose feud going with Clay. Backstage, Michaels runs into Lesnar, pees his pants and runs away, while Lesnar watches him leave with the look of a prison inmate who hasn’t had a woman in way too long. Triple H still not in the house.
Brock finally in the ring with my boy Paul Heyman, who gets one more shot to talk everyone into spending their money this weekend. He’s so good and I’ll be very sad when we don’t see him again for a while after this. He could talk himself into the presidency if he wanted it bad enough. After Heyman does his thing, he allows Michaels to come to the ring and tell Lesnar he thinks Triple H will win again. He says he doesn’t expect Michaels to come out of course, since he is so afraid of Lesnar. After Heyman does some Texas trash talking, saying Texans all have yellow streaks down their back, Michaels (playing the role of Marty McFly being called chicken) comes out after all. I love that Heyman never freaks out when he hears the music of the guy he’s antagonizing. Just another great thing he does. After a brief stare down Triple H finally shows up, takes half of his clothes off like a stripper and enters the ring. They both sign the contract and Brock leaves the ring. What!? After all that buildup there is no clash? No table getting tossed? What a waste.
Overall a very strong and more importantly, a very wrestling heavy Raw. The yapping was dialed way back and the wrestling matches were dialed up. This should be a blueprint for three-hour Raw’s going forward. Well done WWE, I’m now ready to watch Summerslam.