All the buzz last week was about whether or not Ryback was going to end up going against Punk at some point. Rumor has it that they had their little stand-off to end the show just to see how the crowd would react and go from there. Apparently the titantron wasn’t working so they never got an answer (and we got awkward silence). So let’s see how they decided to move forward.
Punk and Heyman kick things off on JR Appreciation night (more on that later I’m sure) with Jim Ross again joining Michael Cole at the announce table. Punk says he put Foley down because he disrespected him (take a shot) and how he wouldn’t treat Cena, Rock or Austin like that. He then reiterates that he will not face John Cena at Hell in a Cell, and hands the mic to Paul Heyman, who gets into his proposing to AJ last week. That was a really odd part of last weeks opening, especially since it didn’t come up again. After AJ’s music accidentally came on for a second, Heyman revealed that since AJ hit him last week, she violated the edict by the board of directors which states that she is not allowed to lay a hand on anyone. With that in mind, Heyman calls for AJ to be fired, and that he replaces her in the highly coveted GM role. This of course calls out Vickie Guerrero who, along with Dolph Ziggler (and his new shirt!), says that she should be the GM of Raw. I really can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would want that job. Vickie and Heyman start to argue until Ziggler jumps in to suggest that they team up and become co-gm’s of Raw (could be worse).
This gets AJ out to the ring (for real this time) to inform us that she has been put on probation. She has also now been appointed a coach to help her develop as a GM. This whole thing was as boring as all hell, until Daniel F’N Bryan came out! He apologizes to AJ for causing all of her issues when he dumped her after WrestleMania. HE IS HANDSOME! HE HAS A GREAT BEARD! He also says that he is the tag team champions until Kane jumps in as well. We now have seven people in the ring for the intro. This is getting ridiculous. Kane reminds us that AJ is a phenomenal kisser (seriously) before getting into another argument with Bryan about who the tag team champions is (are?). This gets Punk and Ziggler arguing about who the best in the world is while Vickie and Heyman yell about who the Raw GM should be. Finally after all the yelling AJ freaks out, screams like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, and takes control by putting CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler together against Team Hell No Friendship. With Cena still out of action it looks like the WWE is putting all of their eggs in one basket. Bold move.
Sticking with the tag team theme, the first match of the night puts Epico and Primo against Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara in the first round of the tag team #1 contenders tournament. I like the idea of this. It bring a lot of attention to the tag team division, which has proven to be pretty difficult to do. Sin Cara isn’t doing it any favors. First he hurricarana’d Primo onto himself, then couldn’t get Epico out of the ring cleanly. I want him to be good so bad but he just isn’t. I think part of his problem is that his style depends so heavily on the man he’s facing. So much more than other wrestlers, the ability of his opponent to sell and hit all the right marks is equally (or more) important that what he does himself. As I type all this Sin Cara did turn a power bomb into a nice looking sunset flip before tagging in Mysterio to bring it home. Rey hits a double 619 (which is a lot more common now that he’s in a tag team) and actually gets the pin himself for a change to move on to the next round.
Brodus Clay gets 80% of his entrance cut off by a commercial break prior to his match against Antonio Cesaro. Clay starts strong and fast but Cesaro hits a springboard uppercut and successfully applies the Neutralizer on Brodus Clay for the win. That’s the whole match! Clay just jobbed for Cesaro! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! I hate to only like heels, but Cesaro is awesome.
Backstage, AJ introduces Kaitlyn to her coach, Christopher J Stevenson (sadly not Dr Shelby). AJ then tries to apologize to Kaitlyn for slapping her all those times regarding Bryan a while back. She then cracks up in the middle of it, says she isn’t really sorry, and skips away. This AJ as GM thing might be reaching its end soon.
It must be new shirt day because the Miz (Haters love him apparently) and Zach Ryder have new shirts on prior to their match against each other. Ryder hits a couple of dropkicks and a Broski Boot, but Miz avoids the Rough Ryder to apply the Skull Crushing Finale and take the victory. Quick match but still more competitive than the way Cesaro took care of Clay. In my book that means Ryder is higher on the totem pole than Brodus Clay. Works for me.
Now that the wrestling is out of the way they can get to more talking. Booker T has arranged for a debate to take place (because of the election, get it?) between Sheamus and the Big Show. Why? Because they have three hours to kill that’s why! Apparently Sheamus didn’t get the memo because he’s in his wrestling gear while Show and Booker are in suits. I don’t get the point of this. It’s not like the people vote on who should win. Big Show read my mind and called it ridiculous, but not for the reason I said. Show says Sheamus can’t get his foot high enough to kick him, that he’ll hit Sheamus with a WMD, and leave Hell in a Cell as champion. Sheamus says he’ll win the match instead, only with kicking instead of punching. Remember wrestling moves? We then got to have them answer questions submitted via twitter. The whole thing is filler, but I will give Show credit for being damn good on the mic. He even recovered well when his podium fell apart around him (“Do I get a new podium? I leaned on my podium. I’m slightly overweight, it gave out”) Sheamus does his Sheamus thing and makes a joke out of it all, including a TOUT (yes there was one of those), with Sheamus pretending to be Mexican by wearing a Rey Mysterio mask to call Show fat. He also keeps bringing up Show’s 45 second title reign which drives Show over the edge. Things almost come to blows but Show backs out of the ring. The whole segment just reminds me of how kids are targeted by the WWE and Sheamus is the biggest example of that. His character is not meant to be enjoyed by the likes of people like myself. My nephews however love him, and they can make me buy his shirts for them. Mission accomplished WWE.
With no mention of CM Punk, Ryback is out to face Tensai. They play the power versus power game until Ryback sells a hit to the face when Tensai actually hits him in the ribs. Tensai lost to Ryback on Smackdown and this would be no different. Ryback hits a powerslam and a big clothesline to leave Tensai ready for the exaggerated Samoan drop thing. However after two tries Ryback just can’t get the job done and settles for using another big clothesline to finish Tensai off. FEED-HIM-LESS!
A Divas match happened. Moving on.
Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal are in Heath Slater’s corner for his match against Santino. It’s a meeting of the four corners of who cares. Santino hit the cobra but Mahal and McIntyre jump in before he could pin and the match ends via DQ. Heath Slater seems to be the leader of a squad of losers that are sick of being losers, and this match was given more time than any other singles match so far. Again I remind myself, this is also for kids (despite airing from 8pm to 11pm on a school night).
Damien Sandow, accompanied by Cody Rhodes, out to make something good out of Raw tonight by going against Sheamus. I’m still pleasantly surprised with how they have booked Sandow. He plays the pompous heel so well but he has been gradually beating tougher and tougher opponents. Sheamus dominates early but Sandow keeps himself from taking too much damage by escaping the ring whenever possible. Very Randy Savage of him. Cody distracts Sheamus to give Sandow an opening to mount some offense. He has a variety of high impact moves, he’s big, he’s fast and he’s aggressive. He’s also funny, creative and great on the mic. Have I mentioned that I’m a big Damien Sandow fan? With all that said, Sandow has an extra edge tonight. I think he knows this is a big opportunity to prove that he can run with the big boys and not just be part of a tag team. Credit to Sheamus for helping to make him look good as well. Every time Sheamus starts to get something going Sandow grabs the momentum right back. The big scab on the bridge of Sheamus’ nose also opened up, meaning that we get some blood as well! Damien botched a reversal into a leaping DDT but quickly put together a spinning neck breaker to make up for it. The crowd is into it. Sheamus hits a battering ram off the top rope for a two and a half count that has a portion of the crowd going for Sandow. With the action on the outside of the ring, Rhodes tries for interfere but Sheamus catches him and throws him in the ring along with Sandow. Sheamus proceeds to Brogue Kick both men and pin Sandow for the win. Cheesy finish to a really good match that went a long way toward getting Damien Sandow over as a legitimate contender in the future.
Way too much wrestling without a chat segment, so this seems like a perfect time for the Jim Ross appreciation ceremony. Despite already being ringside, JR goes back up the ramp so that he can be reintroduced to his home Oklahoma City crowd. Right on cue, CM Punk comes out before Ross can get utter a single word. I guess since Lawler isn’t around Punk needs another broadcaster to attack. He says Jim Ross is the best announcer the WWE has and he respects the hell out of him. He then tells Ross to show the same respect by calling Punk the best in the world. Instead, Ross tells Punk he has been making an ass of himself for the last few weeks. Punk threatens to attack Ross and that Steve Austin won’t save him. He says 316 doesn’t belong to Austin anymore because Punk has held the title for 316 days. Ross still won’t call Punk the best, and says that if he wants to be the best he has to accept Cena’s challenge at Hell in a Cell. Basically it’s the same thing we’ve heard the last couple weeks just from a different person. Punk steps on Jim Ross’ hat (oooooooooh) and says that he’s beaten Cena time and time again and that he shouldn’t get another rematch (I couldn’t agree more). Punk makes Ross exit ringside while he berates him when OH MY GAWD IT’S RYBACK! He and Ross go in the ring and after a short stare down Punk makes his exit and the crowd goes nuts. This is actually going to happen isn’t it?
Alberto Del Rio next against Kofi Kingston. Ricardo Rodriguez is with Cole and Ross and he is chewing their ears off. His accent kind of disappeared and he is just yapping away. He doesn’t really have anything important to say, it’s just fascinating to hear him so much. Del Rio wins with the arm breaker in case you cared. You might be more interested to know that AJ kicked the executive coach out of the arena because she doesn’t want to be told what to do and then made a weird face.
Main event time, and AJ has decided to make herself the special guest referee. Everyone is basically pissed about it. Kane and Ziggler start the match off which is right in Ziggler’s wheelhouse as he can get thrown all around the ring and make Kane look like the incredible Hulk. Kane and Bryan show some signs of being a good team with some quick tags and double team moves. Punk comes in and yells “This one’s for Lebron” at the Oklahoma City crowd (burn!). Bryan tags himself in for Kane and we get some Punk versus Bryan for the first time in a while. Their characters are in totally different places than they were the last time they fought but they still have great in-ring chemistry. Bryan turned some heads by dodging Punk with a backflip off the top turnbuckle. The worst part about Punk’s heel turn is that he just isn’t allowed to really wrestle as much as he used to. He’s stuck playing the uber heel which unfortunately means a lot of running away. Bryan brings out the best in him though.
Punk goes for the elbow off the top rope but Bryan turns it into a suplex and applies the NO Lock. Heyman pushes the rope closer to Punk so he could get his foot on it, causing AJ to throw both Heyman and Vickie out of ringside. Ziggler ditches his corner just as Punk went to tag him, causing Punk to get dropkicked by Bryan and then chokeslammed by Kane to win the match. CM Punk has now been on the wrong end of things for three straight weeks, making it all but a certainty that he will hold on to his title at Hell in a Cell. It’s just odd making him look so weak against everyone. A win against Ryback would certainly give him some edge back because lately he hasn’t done much against anyone under 45. Decent Raw. Plenty of matches but most of them had little meat. As far as I’m concerned though, tonight was all about Damien Sandow.