Ziggler Out With Concussion, Triple H Fights Lesnar In A Cage On Raw

RAW_1042_Photo_188After John Cena’s heel injury temporarily put the WWE Championship match against Ryback in doubt, the absolute worst case scenario happened last week as Dolph Ziggler, YOUR World Heavyweight Champion, suffered a concussion from a Jack Swagger kick to the face (“Classic Swaggs” said Ziggler) leaving the Triple Threat Ladder Match for the WHC in serious jeopardy. So with Extreme Rules less than a week away, we currently have no Punk, no Undertaker, no Rock, and potentially no Dolph Ziggler (he’d steal the show from home tonight via twitter). Hey at least Triple H and Brock Lesnar are going to square off again. Gotta see that! Right? Right?

Wiping the floor with him!
Wiping the floor with him!

So how do we start a go home show leading into the first PPV after WrestleMania? With a dance off of course! Jerry Lawler gets in the ring to introduce Fandango and Chris Jericho.  At least it was announced that they will have an actual match, with wrestling and stuff, at Extreme Rules. Lawler had to explain the feud to us from start to finish, with Fandango’s win at WrestleMania to Jericho being on Dancing With the Stars. The first surprise came from Lawler actually announcer Summer Rae as Fandango’s partner. This is even better as the news leaked that Summer is the replacement dance partner for the days the preferred dancer (also known as the brunette chick) can’t make it. Seriously, if she can’t free up Monday’s on her calendar what is the point of having her at all? Jericho comes out with Edyta Sliwinska from DWTS (Google FTW) and to risk getting in trouble with the wife, I’m suddenly A LOT more interested in this segment. Lawler tries to keep it in his pants as he explains the rules and how the fans will vote on the winner. Lawler points out that this is not a popularity contest and that they want the fans to vote based on dance skills alone. Fandango kind of talks like he is trying to hypnotize whoever he is talking to. Jericho compares this dance off to when he won the musical chairs contest and the Price is Raw and works in some trash talk about dancing all over Fandango’s face at Extreme Rules. With that. the dance off starts. Fandango goes first and after his music hits Fandango refuses to dance. He says he needs silence to create a masterpiece and they actually give it to him! So he starts his routine and Summer Rae falls down after about ten seconds with an “ankle injury.” Fandango gets pissed starts to walk out as Jericho and Edyta check on Summer. Fandango then jumps back in the ring and attacks Jericho from behind. Running boot leads to a beat down and an irish whip into the steel steps and barrier. The whole time the medic is still checking out Summer’s ankle, totally oblivious of everything else, including Jericho getting hit in the face with the parquet dance floor set up in the ring. Fandango gets back in the ring and stares at Summer, who pops back up on her feet and gets dipped as we have all been duped. Duped into spending 20 minutes watching this nonsense. Worst part is that this whole feud is based on Jericho being bitter over being beaten at WrestleMania. What a cry baby.

I’d love to say the first match of the night is next but it reality it’s just another beatdown as Ryback takes on Zack Ryder. It’s a 100% squash match as Ryder has zero offense in a 1 minute match. Couldn’t Edyta hang around for a little longer?

So what would the first competitive match be? Tons of Funk versus the Prime Time Players. Good lord this show sucks right now. Young gets knocked around by Tensai who then gets worked over by O’Neil until Brodus Clay comes in to hit a splash and a headbutt.  Darren Young jabs Brodus with his hair pick however and Titus rolls up Clay from behind to give the win to the Prime Time Players. This match was only competitive in that both sides had offense. It was almost over as quickly as the Ryback match.

Matt Striker on the stage to call out Smackdown Assistant GM Teddy Long. He announces that Ziggler is unable to compete at Extreme Rules. WHAT! This is a disaster. I don’t even know what to do anymore. Swagger and Zeb Colter say Jack should get the title because he knocked Dolph out. Big E and AJ come out to say Swagger should be suspended (AJ even says “Classic Swaggs”). Teddy informs them that since Dolph can’t go, Del Rio and Swagger with face off in an I Quit match at Extreme Rules to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. It’s a shame that it took Ziggler getting concussed for a match I thought was a no brainer to happen, as it will be the Patriot Lock against the Cross Armbreaker. Meanwhile, Big E will face either Del Rio or Swagger tonight, with the choice left in the hands of the WWE Universe. I don’t even know if I want to keep watch this Raw. We’ve had an attempted dance off, two stupid quick matches and the announcement that Dolph Ziggler will not be at Extreme Rules. If the next segment puts Cesaro and Sandow in a career vs. career match I’m done with wrestling for a while.

Unites States Champion Kofi Kingston out next against Sandow (no, Damien’s career is not on the line). Kofi has been put into a match against Dean Ambrose for the US title. Looks like the Shield is going to start getting hardware. Sadly Sandow does not sing a rendition of Kofi’s theme like he did with Orton, because his song is too foolish. Instead, Damien says that Kofi’s title reign will soon come to an end. The match starts with Kofi applying a school boy for a quick two count before Sandow kicked out and started working Kingston over with a flurry of knees into a Russian leg sweep and the elbow of disdain. Sandow then applies the abdominal stretch (my favorite wrestling move!) but Kofi reverses it into a stretch of his own to lead into his signature moves. Kofi hits the Boom Drop but Damien ducks under a moonsault. Sandow hits a running neck breaker but Kofi escapes a suplex to hit Trouble in Paradise for the win. Best match of the night by far to this point but that obviously isn’t saying much. The TiP looked a little sloppy, taking too long to develop. Solid match overall though.

Mark Henry next in the ring to talk about his upcoming strap match against Sheamus. To explain it, highlights of JBL’s strap match against Eddie Guerrero from the Great American Bash from who knows how long ago were shown. Henry held a strap as they showed the buildup to the match as well as Henry dragging trucks attached to his back. Mark Henry then makes Josh Matthews tie the strap to his wrist, and Mark Henry pushes him down and drags him to all four corners, basically explaining the rules to the world. Henry lets him go as Josh runs off and JBL calls Josh an idiot for putting the strap on in the first place. Henry then calls out Sheamus so he can continue the beating he gave him last week. Mark says he won’t come out because he knows where his bread is buttered (what?) when Sheamus does come out (I guess his bread will go unbuttered). Sheamus says he doesn’t think it is a fair fight right now with Henry holding a strap. Henry calls him scared and Sheamus decides to come to the ring. Before he does however, he goes under the ring to retrieve a strap he left there for this exact occasion. The two start whacking each other for a second until Henry gets slapped out of the ring. Mark limps away as Sheamus holds both straps and screams like a giant Irish guy holding two leather straps. Best overall story development for what could be a totally boring match.

Since Sandow had to job to Kofi earlier, my other favorite misused heel Antonio Cesaro gets to job to Randy Orton. The match starts slow with a lot of clutching and mud stomps from each man. Cesaro hits the first big blow with a running uppercut but then it’s back to the chin lock. Orton then hits a kick to the face and hits his signature clotheslines. Cesaro holds on to the rope in an attempt to avoid the scoop slam but Orton hits it anyway. Antonio then avoids the second rope DDT and applies a quick roll up pin, but Orton kicks out on two and immediately hits an RKO to win the match. Better ending than the Kofi match, it was just a little rough getting there. Still waiting for a match with the result in question.

That won’t happen next as the Miz makes his return from filming his newest movie to face Heath Slater. Miz will face Cody Rhodes on the Extreme Rules preshow. Miz is Mr. YouTube Preshow. Miz cycles through all of his moves, only losing momentum when Jinder distracts Miz long enough for Slater to take advantage. Miz doesn’t need much time to pick up where he left off, hitting the knee lift and jumping corner clothesline. Slater avoided the figure four by getting to the ropes, but then got attacked when trying to go to the top rope. Mahal  and McIntyre tried to assist so Miz threw Slater off the top rope into them. Back in the ring, Miz dropped Slater and applied the figure four to win. Typical Miz-card.

Main event match up in the dead middle of the show as Kane, Daniel Bryan and John Cena take on the Shield in a tag team elimination match (six man tag with Survivor Series rules). The show closer will be Brock Lesnar and Triple H staring at each other in the ring. Another match was announced for Extreme Rules as Team Hell No will defend their Tag Team Championships against Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. It looks like the Shield is in position to hold multiple belts by the end of Extreme Rules. I had heard that Ziggler, AJ and Langston could do the same thing with the WHC, Divas and US or IC Belt. I doubt both would happen at the same time, so I’m assuming it’s the Shield that will be bogarting Championships.

This...again
This…again

The tag match starts with Kane against Ambrose. They trade blows until Kane takes charge and tags in Bryan, who pulls out an arm hold I can’t name. Dean gets out and Seth Rollins runs in only to get hit with a toe drag by Bryan and then gets worked over by a freshly tagged Cena. Back from break, Bryan is giving Ambrose the Mexican Surfboard. It’s all faces as Kane and Bryan use quick tags to control the match. Ambrose pushes Bryan into the Shield’s corner to regain the momentum behind Roman Reigns. Bryan gets singled out to take the bumps, hitting him with the quick back to back dropkicks. Ambrose reminds me a lot of Todd, the little brother in Wedding Crashers. Bryan hits a running knee and reaches Bryan on a hot tag. He cleans house hits a running DDT on Ambrose and throws Dean and Seth out of the ring. With all of the Shield outside the ring, Kane starts losing his composure, attacking the three of them against the steps and barrier. When he starts using parts of the announce table as a weapon, Kane gets disqualified and therefore eliminated from the match. So now Cena is in the ring against Roman Reigns and is taking a beating. Reigns hits a superman punch (yeah, he sure did) from a three point stance for a two count. Cena then blocks a suplex into a suplex of his own. Reigns tags Rollins however who hits a flying knee to the face before John can tag out. Seth locks in a sleeper hold but Cena walks to his corner with Rollins on his back to tag Daniel. Bryan runs into the Sheild’s corner and dropkicks Ambrose and Reigns. Bryan then does a backflip over Rollins and dives through the ropes to take out Roman. Bryan then hits a missle dropkick for a two count on Rollins. Great sequence from Bryan. He nailed every move. Daniel starts working Rollins over with kicks and tries to apply the NO Lock. Ambrose sneaks a tag in a hits Bryan with his reverse DDT thingie to pin and eliminate Bryan. So now it is Cena against all of the Shield. John psyches himself up and runs at Ambrose, but the numbers become too much a the Shield starts taking over. Cena fights back, taking out Ambrose and Reigns to hit the five moves of doom on Rollins. He goes for the Attitude Adjustment but Dean and Roman run in. Cena throws them both out of the ring and hits the AA to pin and eliminate Seth. Cena then goes to do the same to Ambrose but he holds on to the rope long enough for Reigns to run through the ref and spear Cena. Reigns gets eliminated for his actions and its down to Cena versus Ambrose. John applies the STF but the other Shield members run in and attack Cena. The match ends in a DQ but the Shield hits Cena with a triple power bomb. A great match but a terrible finish, as you could have had Ryback or another Shield member distract Cena and have it end with an actual finish. Bryan was the clear MVP of this match. After the bell, Ryback came out and stared at the downed Cena. Ryback then started to walk away but then stopped, grabbed a chair and smashed it into Cena’s “injured” ankle. So the story of the match is set up, but I just want to know why Ryback left the ring to make it seem like he wasn’t going to do anything. Very confused by that part. They want to get people into this match so bad but it just isn’t happening. Backstage, Ryback said that for the last year he played by “their rules” (not sure who “they” are) and that he’s done with it and something something “Ryback rules.”

Dolph Ziggler is replaced by Ricardo Rodriguez?
Dolph Ziggler is replaced by Ricardo Rodriguez?

Big E out next to face either Jack Swagger or Alberto Del Rio based on a fan vote. Swagger wins with 65% of the vote which is probably the more interesting match. They start off back running into each other with neither man giving ground. They stare each other down, showing for the first time how much taller Swagger is than Langston. Big E looks a lot weaker when he’s looking up at a guy like that. Regardless of that, Short E takes control after the break, hitting a series of back breakers and spears into he corner. Jack dodgers another spear and connects on a Swagger Bomb for a two count. Langston comes back with a running boob shot and hits a superplex for another two count. Big E preps or the Big Ending but Swagger escapes and takes out Langston’s leg. Jack applies the Patriot Lock but has to break when Big E reaches the rope and tosses Swagger over the top rope. Big E goes outside and throws Jack into the outside barrier. Langston then leaps at Swagger, who ducks to send Langston over the wall into the floor seats. Swagger gets back in the ring to win the match via count out. Pretty good booking there. The celebration is short lived as Del Rio comes out to attack Swagger. Swagger fights back and applies the Patriot Lock. Ricardo hits him with his bucket but Swagger just gets angry and goes after him. Alberto used the distraction to apply the arm breaker which is only broken when Langston attacks Del Rio. Del Rio then hits Big E with an enziguri to send him out of the ring, and throws Swagger out as well to get the ring to himself. I’m fine with the I Quit match, but I can’t deal with a Ziggler-less PPV.

That match is followed by a Divas match with way too many moving parts on paper. In the ring, a bored looking AJ is set to face Natalya. The Bellas are on one side of the announce table while Kaitlyn is on the other. At the same time, Khali and Hornswaggle are standing five feet away like they have a restraining order to abide by. Too much going on. So much that Cole forgot Natalya and Khali were a thing. Natalya cuts off AJ’s skipping to attack her while Kaitlyn gets another gift from her “secret admirer.” The whole time the Bellas and Kaitlyn are bickering like dopes. It’s now starting to look more and more like it’s the Bellas playing a trick on her. This week’s gift is Simpsons trivia. Is that the only thing she is into besides spiked hats? AJ slaps Natalya in case anyone was interested, and Natalya responds by pushing AJ off the apron, seemingly knocking her out cold. AJ plays possum just like she did to win her title shot. When Natalya lifted her up for a backbreaker, AJ spun into some type of submission move called the black widow, which causes Natalya to tap out by slapping AJ’s ass (best. move. ever.).

Yes please
Yes please

Time for the Triple H/Lesnar face off. It’s kind of sad that the whole show is built around two guys not having a match. Triple H comes out first and a steel cage lowers around him. He starting talking about all the same stuff he’s been talking about every time he speaks now. He wants to fight. He loves being in the ring. Ripped flesh, blood, bones. He’s going to beat up the guy he is facing. After saying he feels at home when he’s in a ring surrounded by steel, Brock and Paul Heyman make their appearance. Heyman starts to talk but Triple H cuts him off, saying nobody wants to hear it (funny, that’s what I’d say about him instead). Heyman starts talking about how the WWE isn’t supposed to use words like “hate” which Triple H uses so freely toward Lesnar. Paul says Brock will show him the meaning of “hate” after the match because Triple H will hate facing his family and father-in-law and being a loser. Heyman brought up that Lesnar is a caged animal, which leads to his MMA fighting. I can’t believe that hasn’t been brought up before. He had a great run fighting in cages. Now he’s doing the same. They start to leave when Triple H shouts out at them, saying that Heyman won’t let Lesnar fight until Extreme Rules because Triple H beat him at WrestleMania, and if Triple H beats him again then his mystique is gone. Triple H says that while Lesnar thinks he’s the baddest man on the planet, Heyman doesn’t think so anymore. For that reason, Triple H decides to stop talking to Heyman and only talk to Brock. He says Brock can come to the ring and act like a beast, or listen to Heyman and act like a bitch (ooooh). Brock then heads down the ramp and despite Heyman and three referees best efforts, Lesnar steps  into the cage and they trade blows. They go back and forth until Brock hits a German suplex. Triple H then sends Brock into the cage and then throws him through the door into Heyman. With the crowd chanting “Triple H,” Brock pulls up Heyman and they leave. The best parts of the build up to their matches has been the brawls they’ve had on Raw right before them.

My only real issue with the Triple H/Lesnar match is that we’ve already seen it twice. I think all feuds should either end or start at WrestleMania. Otherwise it takes away from the whole event. We’re seeing two direct rematches of ‘Mania. No need for it. Having said that, is there any way Lesnar isn’t going to win on Sunday now? The only issue is where they go form there. I’d love for Lesnar to fight someone on the fulltime roster that would actually benefit from facing him. Sheamus or Barrett would make the most sense but how much fun could it be to have him take on pure wrestlers like Bryan or Cesaro. These would be interesting matches that couldn’t be so easily predicted. Why is that the case? Because I haven’t already seen it twice in the last year.

I’m so likewarm on the rest of the card that I can’t even talk about it right now. I’m just in a daze after the Dolph Ziggler news.

I need time to cope.

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