Before anything I want to offer my condolences to all of those affected by the incident at the Boston Marathon today. It is a truly sad event, made worse by the fact that people from Newtown were so close to it.
This week’s Raw has a whole lot to live up to. Following the epic Raw crowd from last week, it is also Dolph Ziggler’s first as World Heavyweight Champion (BOO YA!) and what will likely be the last time we see CM Punk for a while. Forget about the fact that we need to figure out whether Ryback is a heel or not as he targets WWE Champion John Cena. They could do a face versus face match but we just had that with Cena and the Rock. Just because Cena isn’t turning heel doesn’t mean we can’t have him go against one.
Looks like we’re going to get an actual match to kick off this week’s show as Randy Orton and Sheamus team up against the Big Show. The faces can’t stop feuding over who deserves revenge more and this is basically a replay of what went down on Smackdown. After last week, this crowd sounds like a ghost town. After a long discussion, Sheamus gets to start the match and gets worked over by Big Show for his trouble. Sheamus then drops Show’s throat onto the top rope and takes him down with a flying shoulder from the top rope. Show caught the Brogue Kick though and threw Sheamus out of the ring. Sheamus barely beats the ten count before Big Show continues the assault with a flurry of chops and a final cut (haven’t seen that in a while). It isn’t until Show goes to the second rope that Sheamus comes back, pulling off an impressive electric chair drop. Orton finally gets tagged in and hits Show with a dropkick and a top rope DDT (Show is too big for the second rope). Orton went for the RKO but Big Show caught him and went for a choke slam. Sheamus came in for the save with a Brogue Kick and Orton took Show down with an RKO to get the pin and win the match. They crammed pretty much everything they could have in a short period of time. Show looked dominant in defeat and you saw every move you’d expect from the faces. So I guess they have their revenge and can move on?
Backstage, Josh Matthews is talking to 3MB, who is steamed over getting beat up by the Shield after 3MB wanted to beat up Triple H. Everyone knows the Shield has the patent on 3 on 1 attacks so I don’t know what 3MB is thinking here. So 3MB comes out to the ring and calls out the Shield. Instead of the Shield, Brock Lesnar shows up. Why? No idea. He was supposed to take out the Rock last week to set up their match at Summerslam but Rock was hurt so they didn’t burn the appearance. So instead they are having him tear 3MB a new one. Lesnar had them all down in about 20 seconds. Slater then tried to run away but Brock slid out of the ring and clotheslined Heath into the floor. Lesnar then hit Slater with two F-5’s onto the outside barrier. Paul Heyman then grabbed the mic and informed us once again that Brock Lesnar is ready for fight, and that he wants Triple H. Heyman says that after Triple H knocked out Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania he has his respect. Lesnar however does not respect him, and all that the match did was even up the score. Heyman suggests that Lesnar and Triple H face off again at Extreme Rules in a steel cage match. Do we really have to watch these guys fight again? Is there anyone else that Lesnar can face? Ryback? Sheamus? Anybody? What’s the point of having these part timers come back and only go against each other? We need the new guys to get a rub from facing the big dogs. That’s why it made sense for Jericho to face Fandango. Triple H/Brock Lesnar 3 will be as instantly forgettable as the last two. They’ll be fine, but then what? No one has anything to lose or gain here.
Kofi Kingston gets a shot at the United States Championship next as he squares off against Antonio Cesaro. Cesaro hasn’t won in roughly a month so I’m really thinking he’s due. Cesaro cut off his music so that he can yodel all the way down the ramp and into the ring, and he did so fairly well. Did I mention that I love Antonio Cesaro? He seems to have given up the anti-America stuff in favor of yodeling and it’s probably for the best since Swagger is cornering the international heat market. Cesaro and Kingston start off fast with Cesaro gaining the edge with a swinging side slam. Kofi then gets going with a leaping chop and a boom drop but Antonio ducks under Trouble in Paradise and throws Kofi up for an upper cut on the way down. Love that move. Cesaro stays in control until Kofi hits the SOS, with Cesaro reaching the rope on 2. Kofi then hits Trouble in Paradise out of nowhere but Antonio falls out of the ring. Kingston pulls Cesaro back in but only gets a two count. Kofi goes to the top rope for a cross body splash but Cesaro catches him and hits a swinging back breaker. Antonio then ties to hit an upper cut but Kofi moves away and hits a swinging roundhouse kick. After Kofi went to the top rope again a fantastic sequence started, with Cesaro catching Kofi again and going for a power bomb, Kofi escaping and rolling up Cesaro for two, Antonio turn Kofi over for another two count, and Kingston rolling Antonio over to set up Trouble in Paradise, knocking out Cesaro and becoming the new United States Champion. Really strong match with a hell of a finish. I’m just trying to figure out what happened to Cesaro. He looks so good and had so much momentum, then all of a sudden he can’t buy a win, gets snubbed at WrestleMania and loses his championship to Kofi Kingston of all people. I assume a rematch is in order, but something has to give here. After the match Kofi said that he brought the US Championship back home. He was born in West Africa but whatevs.
Let’s hear it for the NEEEEEEEEEW World Heavyweight Champion, Dolph Ziggler! Sadly he did not wear the belt backwards to show it off in his entrance. He is in the ring with Big E and AJ to talk about how his cashing in to take the title from Del Rio was the greatest moment in Raw history (no argument here). He said he doesn’t care what the people think of him because showing off is just what people do when they are better than everyone else. After a quick AJ make out session he says that no one will ever take his title when Alberto Del Rio decides to show up. Hobbling to the ring, Del Rio says he wants his rematch right now. Dolph says he isn’t healthy enough but Vickie Guerrero says that if this is what Del Rio wants then this is what he’s going to get and the match starts right away. At least it would have if Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter didn’t come out first. Zeb says Ziggler wouldn’t be champion if it wasn’t for Swagger, and that neither of them deserve the title. Del Rio and Swagger go at it and Jack gets thrown out of the ring. Big E then gets in the way of Del Rio and Ziggler long enough for Swagger to grab Alberto and attack his injured ankle. Jack applies the Patriot Lock outside the ring and only lets go after a handful of refs force him to. So that match isn’t happening. Maybe Ziggler will defend against Swagger and Del Rio? He certainly has enough history with Swagger to go with. Doctors would try to treat Del Rio’s ankle backstage.
Back in the ring, the Prime Time Players are taking on Team Hell No. I love how Bryan stands next to Kane and puts his hands over his ears when Kane sets off the pyro. Meanwhile it was just announced that the Undertaker will join Kane and Bryan next week when Raw is in London to take on the Shield. It’s a really big deal to have the Undertaker wrestle on free TV just two week’s after ‘Mania. This match just seems silly now. Bryan takes his lumps early against Young and O’Neil, but finally tags in Kane after a running clothesline on Young. Kane takes out Darren from the top rope and sets up for the chokeslam but Titus comes in and Kane has to throw him over the top rope first. Bryan hits a jumping knee on O’Neil outside the ring as Kane hits a really bad looking chokeslam on Young. Bryan gets tagged in to hit the flying headbutt and get the pin, getting Kane to help him get a YES chant going. Undertaker outta work great with these two. Bryan gets the Undertaker to start a YES chant I will stop writing this blog immediately. It will never get better than that.
Ryback is in some remote location somewhere to explain his actions from last week. He’s talking a lot like the Ultimate Warrior. He says WrestleMania was the best night for Cena and the worst for him, and with Cena at the top and Ryback at the bottom, there is only one direction for each of them to go. I really like this version of Ryback. He’s not yelling and talking about being hungry. He’s just speaking. Being fairly eloquent. He remarked how Cena made him feel like he belonged and even gave Cena his title shot when he was hurt, adding that people wished he was injured more often (burn!). Ryback that said that he now realizes that being friends with John Cena is to live in the shadow of John Cena, and that he is too big to be in his shadow. Ryback is pissed about Cena not aiding him against the Shield, letting them steal all of his chances to beat Punk for the title. He suggests that Cena was off making his newest t-shirt. Meanwhile Ryback helped Cena every time he was attacked. He says Cena was only focused on winning the WWE Championship, adding that Cena wants to keep Ryback in his shadow because he is the biggest threat to Cena’s title reign. I gotta say, he sounds really good. He’s not just being a heel for heel’s sake. He’s making sense. I buy this. I’m all in on Ryback right now.
Back in the ring, R-Truth is taking on new/old Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. Truth dances around and hits a spinning kick on Barrett, taking him into the corner where Wade takes the edge as the ref tries to separate them. Wade applies a sitting abdominal stretch (a variation of my favorite wrestling move!) that Truth escapes to apply a roll up pin for a two count to get going. Barrett dodges the scissor kick and but can’t hit the pump handle slam. Truth then nails a DDT and gets the pin. What the hell is going on here! Why are my foreign champions failing me? Have to think Truth is getting an IC title shot soon. Can’t he and Kofi just become a tag team again so we can have Bryan and Kane in singles action? I love the team dynamic but Bryan is bigger than this.
Backstage Teddy Long is suggesting to Maddox and Guerrero that Swagger takes on Ziggler. With Booker T unaware of the match, Vickie agrees and the match is set. Teddy is gonna get got for this one.
Time for Bizzarro Team Ziggler to show up as Khali comes out with Natalya and Hornswaggle, joining Santino for a match against the Rhodes Scholars. Khali starts off by hitting a big chop on Sandow (does he have any other moves) before Damien tags in Cody who challenges Santino to come in. He accepts and Santino acts like an ass while Cody beats him down. The Rhodes Scholars use quick tags to keep Santino in the ring and control of the match. Eventually Santino turns the tide with the falling headbutt and pulls out the cobra, hitting Sandow with it. Cody comes in and dodges the cobra, falling out of the ring. Hornswaggle then tries to hit Cody with a cobra of his own, but Rhodes is unphased. After yelling at Hornswaggle that he isn’t doing it right, Khali goes to help his little buddy while Sandow rolls up the distracted Santino to get the win. At least one of my favorite heels will get a win today.
Jerry Lawler now in the ring to talk about how everyone has been “Fandango-ing” since the Raw crowd started singing his song. I think its safe to say that once the WWE acknowledges a trend it has officially jumped the shark. Anyway Lawler calls out the dancing man-diva and wouldn’t ya know it, the crowd is not Fandango-ing. The crowd finally starts to get the chant going as Fandango tries to get Lawler to move his hips, causing the King to get freaked out and leave the ring. Fandango asks the crowd who wants to go “Fandango-ing” with him. They are really trying to make this bigger than it really is. Isn’t he supposed to be a heel? He’s playing to the crowd. He then makes the crowd say his name correctly, one syllable at a time. Despite saying it correctly, Fandango says that since they can’t say it right, the crowd can go “Fandango” themselves. It seems like they have no idea what to do with him right now.
Backstage John Cena is telling Matt Striker that if Ryback has a problem with him, he will be right in the middle of the ring waiting for him later tonight.
Jack Swagger now out with Zeb Colter to face Dolph Ziggler and his entourage but OH MY GOD DOLPH ZIGGLER CAME OUT WEARING THE BELT BACKWARDS! He did his usual entrance and this title run is worth its weight in gold just for the entrance. After pushing Ziggler into the corner, Dolph responds by slapping Jack in the face. Swagger chases Dolph outside the ring, takes control of the match when back in it. This is the only issue with Dolph as champion. He gets dominated for so much of his matches and looks so good doing it. Ziggler hits a neck breaker to ger back into it but Swagger catches him and tries to apply the ankle lock before Ziggler makes it to the ropes. Swagger then drops Dolph crotch first onto the top rope and clotheslines him out of the ring. Ziggler tries to steal it with a small package but Swagger kicks out and hits a belly to belly suplex. Dolph then gets hit feet up to block the Swaggerbomb and hits a dropkick and leaping DDT for a two count. Dolph goes for it again but Swagger holds him up and drops his throat onto the top rope. Swagger immediately follows it up with a roll up pin and gets the victory over the World Heavyweight Champion. So this is how Ziggler’s title reign starts. With a friggin loss. As Swagger backs his way up the ramp Del Rio comes from behind and attacks him, applying the armbreaker while he’s leaning over the stage. The refs have to pry them apart and Jack is selling the arm injury hard. Del Rio gives Ziggler and wink and there is definitely gonna be a triple threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Backstage Sheamus is about to get interviewed when Mark Henry attacks him. Why? BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT HE DOES!!! Really there is no reason.
CM Punk out to address his loss to the Undertaker. He’s in jeans and sneakers while looking fairly shaken and defeated. Will Paul Heyman at his side, Punk says that he couldn’t enjoy his championship streak because he was always looking at what was next. He found that challenge in the Rock but even as he faced him he wanted more. He figured that the only thing bigger than being champion was beating the Undertaker’s streak. The crowd started to get really loud with Undertaker/CM Punk chants, causing Punk to hug Heyman and leave the ring, defeated. Instead of exiting through the stage, he stops and leaves through the side. Heyman is left confused as are everyone else. So Punk will be gone for a while, looking much less like the heel he was going into today. Not sure how long he’ll be gone (probably a couple of months) but he will take the time off to rest his knee that thankfully didn’t need surgery.
Backstage Booker T is arguing with Teddy Long about Teddy making decisions without him. Booker confirms the triple threat match that we all saw coming and tells Teddy to “handle his business.”
Hey it’s a Divas match.
Seth Rollins Kaitlyn takes on Nikki Bella the odds of seeing twin magic are pretty good. Brie distracts Kaitlyn outside the ring so Nikki attacks. Cole, JBL and Lawler spend the entire match trying to tell which one is which. Jerry decided that one is larger than the other, but they still don’t know who is who. JBL says that a twin was never Divas champion, which Cole immediately corrects him because one of the Bella’s was champion at one point. After taking bumps for way too long, Kaitlyn hits her finisher but the Bellas switch while the ref is looking toward Kaitlyn, and Brie drops Kaitlyn on the rope and rolls her up for the pin. The only twin magic I need is in a package of twix.
As the show heads toward an end, John Cena is in the ring to call out Ryback. We don’t have to waste much time as Cena immediately calls out Ryback and Ryback almost as quickly comes out. Cena talks up Ryback but says he’s not afraid of him because after Cena laid out an open challenge Ryback did not come out, instead waiting until Cena’s back was turned to attack (not really true). He also called Ryback’s montage monologue thing boring (probably truth if you’re in the arena) before saying that Ryback is not the biggest threat just because he knocked him down one. He name drops his battles against Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton. He tells Ryback that he doesn’t have the brains or the balls to be champion (ooooooh). Cena says that this week he wants to see if Ryback can earn his chance at a championship. After a brief stare down, Ryback backs away and leaves the ring. While he’s on the ramp the Shield comes out. Ryback then watches from the ramp as the Shield attacks Cena. The three men are too much for Cena, beating him down and hitting the triple power bomb to end the show. Bad day to be a champion. They all lost except for Team Hell No.
Looks like we got a pretty straightforward answer to any questions we had going in. Ryback is a full on heel, Ziggler gets immediately thrown into a triple threat match where I can see him possibly losing his new title, Sheamus will face Henry for some reason, and CM Punk is leaving because after all these losses he probably feels silly calling himself the best in the world. Can’t believe I’m saying this, but the guy that left the biggest impression on me by the end of the night was definitely Ryback.