This week Raw is coming from the Izod center in New Jersey, right next to MetLife Stadium where WrestleMania will take place. I was offered tickets to actually go but I had to work instead. With that in mind, I’m kind of hoping this isn’t the best Raw of the year. I have been wrong before though. Like last week when I said there was no way in hell Kofi Kingston would take the Intercontinental Championship from the Miz on Main Event. Considering I also said there was no way CM Punk is going to lose the WWE Championship to Ryback at Hell in a Cell, I think Punk should be very worried right now.
The show kicks off with a bang as Rey Mysterio is finally over the flu that held him out of action for two weeks, and we’re finally going to have the final match between Mysterio and Sin Cara against the Rhodes Scholars for the right to face Kane and Daniel Bryan at Hell in a Cell for the tag team championships. Before the match started they showed a tweet from AJ saying that she was pulled into an emergency meeting with the board of directors. So I guess something will happen with that. Among all of the new face tag teams, Mysterio and Sin Cara do the best job of actually acting like a team. A lot of tags and team offense. Santino and Ryder for example barely tag each other and essentially just do their own thing. The highlight of this match so far is Mysterio suspending Sandow by the head on the second rope while Sin Cara did a springboard moonsault onto Sandow. Well done. Eventually the match takes the same theme we’ve seen before. Sin Cara takes his lumps as Rhodes and Sandow provide all the offense. Sin Cara then pulls a move out of nowhere (in this case a tornado DDT off the top rope) to get the chance to tag in Mysterio who cleans house. Rey then hits a 619 on both members of the Rhodes Scholars and pins Rhodes, but Sandow throws his body under the refs arm so he can’t get his hand on the mat for the three count. Mysterio gets distracted and goes after Sandow, giving Cody the chance to hit a Cross Rhodes and win the match. Every Raw should start with a strong match like this. Better than opening monologues. Team Hell No sends them a dopey message on the Titantron, Kane makes the ring explode and we have another match set for the PPV.
The new Intercontinental Champion, Kofi Kingston, is up next against Michael McGillicutty who I haven’t seen on TV in forever. Miz is at the broadcast booth to talk about his rematch at Hell in a Cell. Miz is also facing Ryback tonight. Busy guy. McGillicutty put out a decent showing until he sold taking Trouble in Paradise a little too early. He basically put his hands up before Kofi got started. Anyway Kofi wins a good old fashion squash match like we used to see on Saturday mornings.
Two matches in we get our first promo segment of the night, with none other than John Cena, sans surgery tape. He stepped aside so that Ryback could challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship, but could there be a triple threat announcement in the works? Will he be a guest referee? Will there actually be a PPV without him? I seriously doubt it. Well Cena essentially promotes the match in Ryback’s place and starts a “Feed Me More” chant. It should be made aware to the WWE that they need another wrestler to speak for the man they are thinking of becoming the next WWE Champion. It doesn’t take too long for Punk and Heyman to come out. After saying the Giants suck, Punk basically says he’s going leave Hell in a Cell as WWE Champion. After that he says that Cena is acting as Ryback’s cheerleader because he knows he can’t beat Punk himself. Cena then announces that he has been medically cleared to compete. He says he won’t mess with the card at Hell in a Cell (we’ll see about that) but he will challenge Punk right now to a fight. Punk initially agrees and is about to get in the ring when Paul Heyman stops him, saying he doesn’t fight for free and needs to be ready for Ryback. Punk backs out, belt in hand. Things are getting a little interesting.
Antonio “Big Nipples” Cesaro against Justin Gabriel for the second week in a row. Apparently Cesaro has torn tendons in his hand and has a big bandage on. Match isn’t much different from last week’s either. A lot of Gabriel getting thrown around like a rag doll, only this time Gabriel delivers a kick to the head and follows it with a 450 splash off the top rope for the win! Looks like Gabriel is getting a little push here.
Backstage Vince McMahon just showed up to the arena with AJ, who isn’t looking very happy. They headed right to the ring where AJ, in her home town, explained that due to allegations of her fraternizing with a member of the WWE roster, she is resigning as GM of Raw. Maybe this means we’ll actually see her wrestle again. She says the allegations are false, and continued to talk about he upbringing of sleeping in cars and being poor and thanking the fans for supporting her and thanks Vince for the opportunity. As far as WWE goes, girl can act. After she is done, Paul Heyman comes out to make his claim to be the new general manager of Raw. Vince abruptly says no, and introduces the new managing supervisor of Raw (not sure what that is), Vickie Guerrero (ugh boy). Again, I’d love to see the interview process for these decisions. Heyman then tries to get Vickie to take Punk out of the match with Ryback, but Vickie isn’t having it. Instead she puts Punk against Sheamus in tonights main event (which we also saw on the first episode of Main Event) and it’s a lumber jack match to boot. Vickie then starts to berate AJ, kicking her out of the arena. AJ then realizes that since she isn’t GM anymore she can attack Vickie again and a cat fight ensues. No, it was not sexy. It all ends with AJ kicking Vickie out of the ring, and AJ eventually skipping out herself.
Back to another match as it’s time for Miz versus Ryback. Miz wants nothing to do with Ryback and is hesitant to even get in the ring with him. He talks to the referee on the ramp but Ryback throws Miz into the ring and the match starts with Ryback throwing Miz back out of the ring. He absolutely destroys Miz and wins after hitting the meat hook clothesline and Shell Shock. There is really nothing else to say about the match, and that’s the biggest problem with him as a champion. He comes out, screams, does his 5 moves and a few minutes later he leaves. What do you do with that? Apparently you have you top talent talk him up so that he doesn’t have to. It’s just so weird to me. There are monsters, and then there is Ryback. I also can’t deny it any longer. He’s caught on to something.
In what will probably be my favorite match of the night, Daniel Bryan goes one on one against Dolph Ziggler. Dolph is going to be very busy this week. First he is facing Ryback on Main Event this week. Since that show only has two matches I have to believe it will be a little more detailed than the typical Ryback match. Meanwhile, he has guaranteed that he will cash in his MITB briefcase at Hell in a Cell. Him declaring it like that makes me wonder if it will actually happen or even worse, if he’ll lose when he does. The idea of calling Ziggler the World Heavyweight Champion by the end of the weekend though is very appealing to me. This match meanwhile has Bryan supplying most of the offense early, including a figure four leglock. Dolph turns the tide with a suplex over the top rope, sending Bryan out of the ring and injuring his knee in the process. This cues Kanes to comes out and watch the match from ringside. Bryan no sells the injury by doing a back flip off the top turnbuckle to evade Dolph, then hitting him with a running dropkick in the corner. What followed was a fantastic series of counters, with a Dolph fameasser turning into a No lock into two pin attempts into a sleeper hold which ended on a spear attempt by Bryan being modified into a jumping DDT by Ziggler. Great stuff. Bryan goes to the top rope only for Ziggler to jump up and hit him with a facebuster from the top rope. After a two count, Bryan kicks Dolph in the face, leaving them both down. Kane tries to rally Bryan by starting a YES! chant, but when Bryan gets up he goes to the second rope turnbuckle to argue with the crowd, giving Ziggler the opportunity to hit an elevated Zig Zag for the win. Fantastic match.
Afterwords Bryan blames Kane for the loss and they start to argue. Before things come to blows Matt Stryker comes out to announce that Vickie Guerrero will have Kane and Bryan compete in a therapeutic game show, which is basically the newlywed game for tag teams. Interesting idea. To make things better, Stryker will be hosting so you know he’s getting beat up. To make things even better, Rhodes and Sandow will be the other contestants. Okay WWE, you’ve got my attention.
First, they are asked to tell the audience about themselves. Bryan calls himself the world’s toughest vegan. Kane says he is a Scorpio who enjoys long walks on the beach, rainbows and puppies. The Rhodes Scholars come out and refuse to participate in such tomfoolery (damn, should have known) and leave. Stryker announces Kane and Bryan as the winners by forfeit, causing Bryan to lose his mind in glee. Then then turn to Stryker, who leaves the ring and tells them that he hopes they lose on Sunday. He accidentally backs into Big Show, who throws him across the stage.
Big Show is out to face Kane, and Bryan is staying ringside. This has to mean that Bryan will cost Kane the match, further wrecking their relationship. I can watch Big Show spear people all day, and he completely laid out Kane with it. Big Show dominates the majority of the match until Kane counters with a running DDT to gain some momentum. Kane lines up Big Show for a choke slam, but the Rhodes Scholars come out again to distract Kane and give Show the opening for a knock out punch and a win. Rhodes and Sandow then beat down Bryan and Kane in the ring. Pretty safe to say the tag team championships will not be changing hands.
Backstage, Vickie told Cena that he was the one AJ was rumored to be involved with after they had a business dinner (suuuuuuuuure they did). So now she’s all emotional and Cena’s holding her to console her and he’s gonna try to fix it and good grief this is gonna get cheesy. Cena finds Vince who says that there was evidence blah blah blah and that Vickie’s position is a temporary thing and that he doesn’t even really know what a managing supervisor is (that’s the funniest thing about the whole situation). Vince leaves and I feel like we’re going to have a Cena and AJ versus Ziggler and Vickie match in the near future. When Cena confronted Vickie, she pointed out that Cena asked her out on a date a couple of weeks ago, then had dinner with her. Point made, Cena leaves.
In the ring, Zach Ryder jobbed out for Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio then went psycho and started called Ryder Randy Orton, saying he was going to rip his head off but instead putting on the armbar again while screaming his own name. Very weird. Del Rio beating Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell would make for a nice way to send Orton off for while to film his movie.
Lumberjack match time. They keep calling it the largest Lumberjack match in WWE history. Why? Because it’s champion versus champion? Neither title is on the line. There aren’t any more people around the ring than normal. We also just had the match a couple of weeks ago. Classic hype machine at work. Among the lumberjacks is Big Show, who is standing a few steps behind everyone else watching idly. For some reason, Ricardo Rodriguez is also a lumberjack. Sheamus gets thrown out first but no one wants a piece of him. Moments later Punk gets tossed out and the lumberjacks waste no time tossing him back in. No respect. The second time Sheamus gets thrown out however, all of the heels stomp him out. That’s more like it. This leads into Punk controlling the middle of the match. During this time Michael Cole mentions Big Show’s 45 second title reign, and guess what? Big Show doesn’t like it. He slams down on the table and yells at Cole. Punk goes up to the top rope and signals the elbow drop, but instead steps down and delivers a standard elbow, much to the delight of Big Show. Great heel move in not giving the crowd what they want. Punk again goes to the top rope but Sheamus counters with a superplex. Punk again goes to the top rope but Sheamus moves away from the elbow drop and eventually hits White Noise. He measures Punk for the Brogue Kick, but then Cesaro comes in and gets the hit by Sheamus instead, as does a number of the other heels. Finally Sheamus goes for Punk but he ducks and Sheamus runs into Big Show who hits him with a chokeslam, knocking him out so that Punk can cover for the win. Good match.
Immediately after it ends Ryback’s music hits. Ryback runs into the ring and Punk runs out, but the lumberjacks throw him back in and he gets hit with a back breaker and a power slam. Punk tries again to escape but once again gets thrown into the ring and hit with a hard power bomb. A third attempt to leave resulted in Ryback throwing Punk into all of the heels outside the ring, and that’s how the show ended.
Since once again Punk is getting dumped on I have to think he will retain the title somehow. It will most likely be with outside help and I have to think that Brock will be involved somehow, with perhaps Brock facing Ryback at Survivor Series. Regardless, Hell in a Cell has my full attention which is all the WWE wants. This also was a very good Raw and I’m very much regretting not going. Next time.