Summerslam is over and of course there are just as many questions as there are answers. Is Triple H done? Does CM Punk have enough respect? Why is Alberto Del Rio still getting title shots? Night of Champions is just four weeks away so the WWE will have a lot to do in not a lot of time, starting with Monday Night Raw.
As promised, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman kick things off. Night of Champions will be interesting for no other reason than there will be so many people on last night’s card that won’t be anywhere near the next one. No Lesnar, no Triple H, no Jericho. Those are three pretty big names to lose all at once, and the only one coming back is Randy Orton.
Heyman does his usual amazing job on the mic, talking up last night’s match and specifically Triple H’s ability to deal with pain, with Lesnar getting him to tap out (which isn’t anything that new if you’ve seen him face the Undertaker). Heyman turned it into Triple H being forced to quit on all of his fans and his family and being left a shell of his former self. Heyman then calls for the referee of last night’s match, whom Triple H told to let the rules go, down to the ring. After about three days the ref finally gets to the ring, and after making it look like Lesnar was going to tear him a new one for listening to Triple H and allowing the rules to be broken even if it meant Brock was hurt, instead Lesnar just told the ref, “good job.” Heyman then declares Lesnar the new King of Kings, and the supreme ruler of the WWE. Lesnar walks off smiling and waving, and that’s the open.
So that’s how Lesnar leaves. With a wave and a wink, going out as the self-proclaimed top dog. Pretty good way to take a break if you’re trying to maintain superstar status. He’ll be gone until Survivor Series or Royal Rumble, and when he comes back he’ll be able to claim he’s the ruler of the WWE (or however he wants to say it) and challenge whoever he wants. It may not be dramatic or exciting, but it does it’s job as holding his place until he eventually comes back. He did TOUT that he has no competition left, and that he is never coming back. Unless he does comeback at one of the earlier events, it makes sense that he ends up facing the Undertaker at WrestleMania, with the undefeated streak being the only thing left for him to take down in the WWE.
Meanwhile coming off his Summerslam win, CM Punk has suggested to AJ (via TOUT of course) that he pick the next challenger for his WWE Championship, and naturally AJ is considering it. Hard to imagine he won’t face Cena at Night of Champions, so we’ll see what happens there. First match of the night is a six man tag putting R-Truth, Kofi Kingston and Sin Cara against Cody Rhodes and the Prime Time Players. Rhodes versus Sin Cara was one of the matches that got left off the Summerslam card, so I imagine it will play heavily here. Either way we’re not exactly starting things with a bang. Even worse than this match is the fact that Khloé Kardashian is the social media ambassador for Raw tonight. Is this really something that’s going to happen every week? I suppose it’s better than having a guest host each week, but just the idea that each week a person that 98% of the fan base hates will be making comments via twitter, and we have to be alerted to them. What a waste of time. By the end of the match Sin Cara and Cody Rhodes ended up being the legal men, and after a really sloppy sequence by all six men, we got the same finish that we had on Smackdown last week. Rhodes couldn’t stop trying to remove Sin Cara’s mask, and Sin Cara took advantage by applying a roll up pin for the victory. Complete waste of time.
After the match, AJ decided that because Kane and Bryan have “anger management” issues, they will both team up with people they feuded with to face each other. So it will be Kane and Zach Ryder (remember him?) against Bryan and the Miz (whose feud was so long ago I forgot about it). Let’s keep the mentions of FX’s Anger Management going as long as possible just in case Charlie Sheen decides to grace us with his presence! Speaking of people I almost forgot about, coffee drinking David Otunga is back (because he said so) with a clean shave and a movie to promote call “The Hive” starring Halle Berry (true!). He tries to get in good with AJ but uses the C-word (not THAT C-word, he said crazy), pissing off AJ who told him he now has a match against an opponent of her choosing. Afterwords she said that she’ll let Punk pick his next opponent (YAY!), pending her approval (AWWW).
Ryback had a match against two “local athletes.” Did you know he stays mentally sharp by reading one to two books a month? Did you know that that really isn’t that impressive? It’s your typical Ryback match until Jinder Mahal interferes and spends about 15 seconds beating him down until Ryback took over again. Rivalries are kind of hard to build when one guy just destroys everyone around him and the other doesn’t win. After Mahal gets thrown out of the ring he finishes off the local scrubs. Moving on.
Looks like Chris Jericho has one more match after Summerslam before he goes on tour with Fozzy again. AJ booked him and Dolph Ziggler in a rematch for tonight, with the stipulation that if Jericho loses his WWE contract is terminated, and if Ziggler loses his Money in the Bank contract goes to Jericho. I guess we just figured out how Jericho will get written out of the picture for a while.
Before we get to any more matches though, Alberto Del Rio has to remind us that he got robbed by the ref at Summerslam. He demands that he get another rematch against Sheamus on Raw. AJ comes out, but since she can’t make a Smackdown title match, she puts him against Randy Orton instead. They can’t have Sheamus/Del Rio at a third straight PPV. They can however have Orton and maybe Daniel Bryan join them in a fatal four way match. All I know for sure is that Del Rio is just not getting over with the crowd anymore. Sheamus ringside for the match, and the idea is brought up that they are both possible contenders for the title. In case you were wondering the match is a decent one. Everything is deliberate but it’s back and forth. After hitting the 2nd rope DDT, Orton gets ready for the RKO but Ricardo Rodriguez tries to interfere. Sheamus then takes Ricardo out of the equation but Orton tells Sheamus he doesn’t need his help (there’s your first sign of an Orton title shot). Del Rio takes advantage of a distracted Orton and attempts a pin. Orton puts his foot on the ropes but the ref doesn’t see it until Sheamus points it out. Del Rio then starts yelling at Sheamus, giving Orton the opening to hit an RKO for the win. At the very least we’ll have a triple threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Another match that didn’t make the cut at Summerslam was Brodus Clay versus Damien Sandow. They get pushed to Raw now instead. Sandow has been drawing a lot of heat as a heel lately, while Clay is hanging on to his unstoppable act by a thread. So this could say a lot about where they want to go with each. Sandow works the knee that he had been injuring the last couple weeks, but Clay is acting a lot more like the angry man that we saw all the sizzle reels for. It doesn’t last long though because after a missed dive into the corner, Sandow grabs Clay’s tights to get the roll up pin. A bitter Brodus knocks out Sandow after the bell anyway (showing great sportsmanship) and then dances with the kids to his music as if he won. Funny, Tensai does the same thing when he loses aside from the dancing, yet he’s a heel. I guess dancing makes you an automatic face? Hmm, Cena, Truth, Clay, Kofi. I think I’m on to something here.
The Triple H storyline continues with Shawn Michaels via satellite. He says he knows what Triple H is going through and talks about how you know when you’re done right away because it happens in front of everyone. He thinks it could be the end for Triple H. Also thinks his showing up the last few weeks proved to be more of a distraction, and he secretly didn’t think he could beat Brock Lesnar. I suddenly get the feeling Triple H is going to end his career against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania. Probably one of the only guys left that could handle ending his career. Michaels thanks Triple H for a job well done and basically sends him off like he’s retired. Whenever Triple H does come back though, I expect it all to be about Michaels lying to him about thinking he can beat Brock and not being there for him. It’s pretty strange how much time I’ve spent trying to predict WrestleMania before the summer even ends.
Otunga back in the ring for the first time since Johnny Ace got fired, and AJ picked the Big Show to be his opponent, who I guess is a face for this one. Big Show takes him out faster than you can say squash match.
On to the anger management tag match. How long does Kane have to keep wearing the wig? The whole embrace the hate thing fell flat and he’s basically a face now. What’s the point? Kane and Bryan start things but Bryan immediately tags in Miz and the crowd chants for Ryder and Kane complies by tagging him in with a slap to the side. Somehow Ryder is the palest person in the ring. You’d think he’d spend more time at the beach. Regardless he’s pretty much there to make everyone else look good here. Does a pretty good job of it too, specifically taking kicks from Bryan. Eventually Ryder ducks out of the way of Bryan diving into the corner, hitting his partner Miz instead. Ryder tags in Kane but when Bryan goes to tag Miz, Miz drops down from the apron. So Bryan slaps Kane just like he did last night, and runs out of the arena again before Kane can do anything about it. In a fit of rage, Kane choke slams Ryder (woo woo woo!) and tears apart the ring area (including the time keeper) before giving Ryder a tombstone and leaving. Boy, he sure does have “anger management” issues huh? AJ tweeted that Bryan is going to start going to anger management classes next week. Sheen can you just figure out what you want to do already?
CM Punk announces that he has chosen John Cena to be his next opponent for the WWE Championship. However Cena has to meet Punk in the ring and accept the one condition Punk requests. I’m a little surprised Punk chose Cena right off the bat but again, it’s no surprise that they will be meeting at Night of Champions in Cena’s home state of Massachusetts. There was also a Diva’s battle royal, with the highlight being Michael Cole calling Lawler out for using the same comments about Divas matches that he did 20 years ago when Vince McMahon and Jim Ross calling the matches with him.
Main event time with Ziggler versus Jericho. Ziggler called it the biggest match of his career (convenient) before the break. Considering how obvious the result will be I’m curious how they handle it. I’m just happy to see Ziggler main event a show. Ziggler isn’t going with the usual show off moves, instead being more intense in the ring. Jericho tosses Ziggler over the top rope but Dolph no sells for a change and lands on his feet. Jericho answers with a spring board dropkick and we’re back in familiar territory. Since I know you are all curious, I’ll let you know that Khloe Kardashian is pulling for Jericho on twitter. While last night had them both hitting all their moves, this one is filled with reversals and counters early on. After avoiding the Walls of Jericho and getting his knees up on a lionsault, Ziggler hits the zigzag and gets a completely clean victory over Jericho. Great match despite the short time, and a huge push for Ziggler, who can now cash in his MITB contract as soon as Night of Champions. It should be noted that he has no clear opponent yet for the PPV.
Following the trend of the night, Jericho plays the role of sore loser, hitting Ziggler with the briefcase and knocking him out with a codebreaker before exiting to a standing ovation. Whenever Jericho returns he might have a feud with Ziggler (perhaps as World Heavyweight Champion?) waiting for him.
Punk (in his Brett Hart tights again) out to close the show and call out Cena. Before any of that though Punk went to Jerry Lawler to seek an apology for saying Punk turned his back on the fans. Before things could get ugly Cena makes his appearance. Punk of course calls him out for stealing his spotlight. Punk is sick of taking a backseat to Cena, Triple H and the Rock despite holding the WWE Championship. He is never the main event (true) and says that he lets Cena be the main event out of respect. Punk says he chose Cena because he has to beat him again to earn respect, but it won’t count because the fans still follow Cena. That leads into Punk’s condition that Cena call him the best in the world in order to get the title shot. Cena turns all preacher and says he has all the fans because he has the respect Punk wants so badly. He says he won’t say Punk is the best because Cena still thinks he’s the best, and throws a little Rock promo in the middle of it. Cena puts the choice back in Punk’s hands, saying if he beat Cena in his home town it will be the ultimate moment for him (not really).
Cena leaves the ring and Punk immediately goes back at Jerry Lawler, getting him in the ring to get him to say he is the best in the world. Lawler refuses because he doesn’t think it’s true (doesn’t say who he thinks the best is by the way) and Punk kicks him in the head. This certainly looks like it’s a full on heel turn, but I’ve thought that before. Punk could come out next week and apologize for doing that and whatever, but I think this time it’s going to stick. Of course Cena will face Punk at Night of Champions, and my gut tells me Big Show (who also doesn’t have a clear opponent yet) will interfere to keep the title in Punk’s hands and lead to a one on one match between Cena and Big Show. For now I just hope that now that the seeds have been planted we see a lot more wrestling next week and a lot less montages and interviews. I’ll be away on Monday but I’ll sum things up when I get back. Please try to get by without me.