Now that Extreme Rules is happily behind us, we can move on to more important matters like when World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler and should-be WWE Champion CM Punk will be returning to the ring. Rumors keeps swirling about both, some having Ziggler returning immediately while others have his situation being much worse. CM Punk meanwhile can be predicted to return any time from this episode of Raw where he was initially booked and removed, to not until Summerslam, all stemming from his physical recovery to issues he has with the WWE because even though a big part of wrestling is putting other people over he just can’t seem to fathom jobbing to anyone ever.
But let’s put all that aside as this week’s Raw opens with an ambulance coming into the arena to applause until Ryback comes out of the back to a round of boos. You might remember Ryback from having a god awful last man standing match against John Cena that ended in a no decision. Ryback brings up how Cena was carried away in a stretcher, but footage then shows him refusing to be put in the ambulance and got up on his own. Ryback, now standing on top of the ambulance, challenges Cena to an ambulance match at the upcoming Payback PPV. He says that in this kind of match it doesn’t matter if you are standing or not (even though the Extreme Rules match seemed more dangerous and should have had a winner as Ryback was standing up while Cena was being put in the stretcher) and that Cena will be put in the ambulance and taken to a medical facility just like the fans in attendance (WHAT?). He goes on to say that the fans probably won’t even make it to the hospital and just go straight to the morgue because they are fat. He slams the fans for not knowing what it takes to work at being the best, yet they cheer for John Cena. I have no idea what the hell he is talking about as he yells Ryback Rules and stands on the ambulance as the segment ends because you can’t look bad ass while climbing down an ambulance. I’m already annoyed with Payback with this match. While watching Cena versus Ryback Sunday night I was reminded of the Kane/Cena ambulance match. It isn’t a match. It’s just two guys throwing each other into objects for 20 minutes. When you have to throw gimmick after gimmick at two guys it is time to start a new feud. I’m done with these idiots facing each other.
After a Sonic commercial, Fandango headed to the ring to team with Wade Barrett against Chris Jericho and the Miz. Will we be calling them Jiz? Anyway Wade Barrett came out to a brand new song. It’s generic rock but the beginning sounds like a youth choir. It will hardly make a difference when Barrett’s entrance is skipped on TV. The chorus of the song is Barrett yelling “BOOM,” so that’s something. I feel like Jericho/Barrett and Miz/Fandango are much better feuds. Jericho and Barrett are both great in the ring while Miz and Fandango are both better used just talking and not wrestling at all. Chris starts the match with some chops against Wade, who takes down Jericho with an elbow before tagging ‘Dango in to take control. Barrett looks pissed at Fandango for the entire match. He yelled at him to leave the ring so he can start things, then yelled at him when he danced around instead of keeping the pressure on Jericho. After Wade gets tagged back in Fandango spends a large amount of the match on the floor hanging out with Summer Rae (can’t totally blame him). Miz is about to apply the figure four when Fandango grabs the mic, says his name and starts dancing. Jericho then starts to attack Barrett during the dancing, hitting the Code Breaker before tagging the Miz back in to win with the figure four (did Miz really have to get the decision here? Fandango keeps dancing until Miz and Jericho move in on ‘Dango. Miz chases the dancing fool into the stands leaving Chris alone with Summer. Jericho gives her the ol’ sex stare and Summer dances with him. Summer looks like she is going to kiss him when Jericho puts a hand up in her face and walks away. Team Jiz wins in a route.
Vickie Guerrero out to the stage the announce that Jack Swagger will be in a match against either Khali, R-Truth or Randy Orton based on a WWE App vote. Gee, I wonder who will win this one. I really hope they don’t need to fudge the numbers to get Orton in. A Khali landslide would be amazing though.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan is pissed about losing the tag team title at Extreme Rules. Kane tries to calm him down by saying that all this negativity is unproductive. Bryan responds by brining up that that comes from the same guy who told us to “embrace the hate.” Daniel then says that he feels naked without the belt, which Kane quips that he isn’t wearing a shirt or pants. Another zinger is brushed off by Bryan, who is too angry for jokes. It looks like this could finally be the end of Team Hell No. Kane says that they can’t show weakness, which Bryan interprets as saying he is the weak link. Kofi comes in to try to settle them down and Daniel storms off. I love them together but the time has come for Bryan to get a singles push again. Dropping the jokes is a great start. I want to take him seriously again. He’s too good not to.
Sheamus in the ring to take on Titus O’Neil with his partner Darren Young ringside. They bill the match as Titus being Mark Henry’s friend and training partner, so he wants to get revenge on Sheamus for beating his buddy. Interesting decision to give Henry a friend, humanizing him a bit. It’s pretty much all Sheamus early, battering Titus on the apron and kicking him down to the floor. Young gets too close to the action so Sheamus throws him into the barrier wall, with O’Neil hitting him from behind to take the momentum. He hurls Sheamus back over his head and drops an F-bomb to the center camera, yelling “You think he’s f(*&ing tough?.” I’m sure that will go over well. He continues to ware down Sheamus until the Irishman gets a boot up in the corner. Sheamus then gets going with his axe handles and high knees. Sheamus was going to go for a slingshot shoulder tackle but Young grabbed his leg. Titus took advantage with a running forearm but only got a two count. Sheamus then dodges O’Neil running into the corner, hits White Noise and follows up a Brogue Kick for the win. Pretty good showing from Titus O’Neil in a match that went longer than expected.
Paul Heyman into the ring next to announce who his new client is going to be. This is good because with Punk and Lesnar out for who knows how long we need to at least have Heyman running around somehow. Heyman takes the boos from the crowd in stride as he says they can’t change the fact that his guy Brock Lesnar defeated Triple H at Extreme Rules, just like Paul said he would. After some trash talk, Heyman announces that he is making history as he introduces Michael McGillicutty as his new client. Only his name isn’t McGillicutty. Now he is Curtis Axel. He also has new music, which is a modern take on his dad, Mr. Perfect’s theme. The new name is also a reference to his father, who’s real name is Curt Henning, and his grandfather, Larry “the Axe” Henning. I’m happy to see the WWE reference the Henning lineage with
Michael Curt. It’s a quick way to establish a rep and gives plenty of talking points. Doesn’t hurt that he’s a pretty good worker. The crowd doesn’t have much of a reaction to him though. I imagine that is why Heyman is in his corner. After a long hug, Heyman immediately compares Axel’s reaction to Brock Lesnar and CM Punk’s crowd reaction when they first debuted. Heyman mentions that despite Axel’s lineage he is not headlining, which is why he has combined his family’s names into this new brand to create his own niche in the WWE. I don’t get how mentioning his lineage creates a new niche but whatever. Heyman keeps trying to get the fans to cheer for him but they only boo louder (mission accomplished) until Triple H comes out and makes his way into the ring. Triple H immediately dismisses Axel by telling him to step aside and gets in Heyman’s face. He says he isn’t embarrassed about Extreme Rules, noting that despite losing he walked away from the ring while Lesnar limped away with his leg injury. Triple H threatens to beat the crap out of Heyman when Axel steps in again, saying that he has to go through him first. Triple H just slaps him in the face, sending him to the ground and announcing that he’s going to have a match against Curtis tonight and then he’s going to kick Heyman’s ass. Is Trips really going to bury Axel before he even gets started?
Alberto Del Rio out next for a match against Big E Langston. Dolph Ziggler is nowhere to be found, so we’ll have to wait another week for that Zig Zaggin son of a bitch. Del Rio quickly tries to lock the arm breaker multiple times to start the match, with Langston powering out of it each time, the last counter involving Alberto being hurled into the steel post outside the ring like a baseball bat. Big E then takes control from here with rest holds and power moves until Del Rio hits a swinging DDT from the top rope. From there Alberto hits a back stabber and a side kick to the head for a two count. He goes for the cross armbreaker but Big E throws Alberto out of the ring. Ricardo throws Alberto back in the ring where he hits an enziguri to daze Langston. Alberto then went to set up Langston for the armbreaker when AJ rolls Ricardo’s bucket across the ring. This distracts the ref so that Big E can poke Del Rio in the eye, hit the Big Ending and win the match. Is the ref a cat or something? Would he also be distracted if you shined a flashlight on the floor? Would he chase it? And why isn’t replay being used for this match? All dirty finishes should be negated now. THIS IS WHY YOU CAN’T HAVE REPLAY IN WRESTLING!
AJ versus Layla now in a Divas match that should be over in a minute. The Bellas watch from backstage, making fun of AJ’s shorts and calling her a rat or something stupid. I’m still trying to figure out why the Bellas are back. Is it solely to make their boyfriends Cena and Bryan happy (yes is most likely is). Layla takes charge after a kick to the face but AJ pulls off the Black Widow out of nowhere, leading to more ass spanking and a quick ass grab to give AJ the win via submission. Divas matches are instantly 100% more watchable if this move is in play.
Cody Rhodes against jobbin’ Zack Ryder next. The intros are skipped for both men as is the bery beginning of the match. Cody spends a majority of the match in control hitting a reverse suplex. Zack comes back with a missle dropkick from the top rope and the Broski Boot for a two count. Ryder then avoids a rollup pin attempt but walks right into a Disaster Kick as Cody wins the match. Ryback, who was watching backstage, comes down the ramp to lay some more punishment on Ryder as Cody escapes as quickly as possible. Meathook clothesline and a big power bomb capped off by Shell Shock and Ryback is now officially Kane in his feud with Cena last winter. Kane attacked Ryder just cause, then had one crappy match with a non finish followed by a crappier ambulance match. I’m having a horrible case of deja vu as Ryback throws Ryder into the ambulance as it drives away. I wonder if we’ll ever see Zack Ryder again (likely not until he turns heel). Oh man I just hate everything about this storyline.
The Shield (with all their gold) in the ring to address the crowd and flaunt their winnings before taking on Kane, Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston. They say their brought power back to their titles. Ambrose says that they are the reason the Rock lost, as they broke him down so that he got injured at WrestleMania. They injured the Undertaker and beat down Ryback to a point that he snapped and turn on Cena who was carted off because of how the Shield broke him down. Brilliant. They are taking blame for everything happening in the WWE right now. Rollins says that the Shield is showing us what a real cohesive team is like, and that this is just the beginning. Reigns caps it off by saying that the Shield runs this yard and that they now have the collars. Very good promo. Kofi starts off against Ambrose, whom he lost is United States Championship to. They start with a flurry of moves which turned into a slapping contest where Kofi took the edge with a monkey flip and an arm drag before tagging in Bryan who continued the beating with a running knee. Ambrose finally tags Rollins in, who gets a mexican surfboard applied on him by Daniel, who yelled “I am not the weak link!” in the middle of the move. Kane comes in next and it move offense from the faces. Seth finally gets to his corner and Roman Reigns takes the momentum back against Kington. Roman stops Kofi trying to slide under him and power slams him to the mat before tagging in Ambrose.
Line of the night; as Reigns tags out he gives a couple of extra shots to Kofi before heading to the apron. The refs yells at him to get out and Rollins yells back, “He’s got ’til five ref. Mind your business!” I love heels that know the rules and yell that back at the ref. Kofi continues to get worked over, with Seth mocking Kingston’s chants. Kofi then manages to roll into his corner to get Bryan on the hot tag. He hits the running dropkick on Rollins and starts hitting his kicks to the midsection. Rollins ducks under the roundhouse attempt but Bryan connects with a second. Daniel goes to the top rope but Seth knocks him down and tags in Ambrose who looks for a superplex. Bryan pushes him down face first and hits a missel dropkick for a two count and then applies the NO Lock, which is broken up when Dean reaches the rope. Back from break Kofi hits Ambrose with a European uppercut and tags Bryan back in to suspend Ambrose in the tree of woe, where he delivers several kicks and a baseball slide into Dean’s face. Bryan gets hit by Seth while hitting the ropes, and then gets hurled into the Shield’s corner for a two count. Bryan then takes a big clothesline from Reigns, as they Shield yells that Bryan is indeed the weak link. Ambrose continues taunting Bryan as the weak link until Daniel finally lands a roundhouse kick and tags in Kane who cleans house. Reigns gets hit with a sidewalk slam but the pin is broken up by Ambrose who is hit with a springboard axe handle by Kofi and clotheslined out of the ring. Kingston and Bryan they jump through the ropes to take out Rollins and Ambrose outside on the floor respectively, leaving Reigns and Kane alone in the ring. Kane hits the running DDT for a two count while the other men in the match fight on the outside. Kane hits a big boot and sets up for chokeslam. He fights off Ambrose but Rollins hits him with a knee off the top rope. Roman then hits Kane with a spear and the Shield wins again. Another fantastic match all around, but Bryan and Rollins were really the stars here. I’m still waiting for a Shield match that I don’t enjoy.
Backstage Triple H is taping up when an employee informs him that the doctor says he doesn’t think he should compete tonight. Triple H says that if he doesn’t think he should compete then he should look for a new job. That how you run a business people!
Even further backstage, Kaitlyn is telling Natalya that she has a phone number for the secret admirer. They steal Cody’s phone and discovers that he is not the secret admirer (RATS!). Kaitlyn says she’s glad it’s not him because he’s gross and the hunt continues. As the world turns.
Guess what? Randy Orton won with 72% of the vote to face Jack Swagger. What’s more interesting is that 19% voted for Khali while 9% voted for Truth. That means that 19% of the fans realize how hilarious it would be to have Khali voted into a match, while 9% of the fans are under 9 years old.
So it’s Orton versus Swagger and they start off with chin locks and boring chants before Orton hit a standing dropkick to send things to the outside. Orton is in full control with a clothesline to send Jack to the floor. Swagger slows down Randy with a shoulder tackle but only for a moment as Orton comes back with a Lou Thesz press. Suddenly Orton starts favoring his left knee and Swagger starts to work it over (classic Swags). Orton fights back by hurdling Jack over the top rope. Randy then attempts a DDT from the apron by Swagger counters and drives Randy into the barricade. Back in the ring, Jack in continuing to put pressure on Randy’s leg. He tries to fight back but gets knocked off the top rope to the outside, further injuring the leg. Swagger sets Randy up in the corner but Orton spins away to send Swagger into the ring post. Orton pulls Swagger up to the top rope and hits a superplex for a two count. Jack then hits a belly to belly suplex for a two count of his own. Swagger goes for a Swagger Bomb but Orton gets up and kicks Jack in the gut on the way down and hits his signature clotheslines, but Swagger escapes the DDT. Orton then escapes the ankle lock and hits a neck breaker, this time connecting on the DDT. Swagger then ducks away from the RKO and locks in the Patriot Lock. Orton makes it to the rope but Swagger pulls him away. Orton then kicks his way out, ducks under a clothesline and hits the RKO to win the match. Good match, hurt only by the fact that an Orton win was never in doubt.
Main event time as Triple H wrestles on Raw for the first time in years. This is what the WWE has to do when Cena, Punk and Ziggler all can’t go. You get Triple H and the Undertaker coming out to give the show some hype. I’m not complaining about the old timers performing on free TV for a change, but it just furthers the idea that there is no depth on the roster. A fan in the front has a “SAVE US CM PUNK” sign. Yup. That.
Axel starts off overconfident, messing around before Triple H goes on the offensive. He glares at Paul Heyman after every take down, saying that he is next. Curtis lays strikes on Triple H in the corner, then hits a dropkick to take control of the match. The announcers tell us about a jaw injury that Triple H suffered at Extreme Rules, and sure enough, Curtis is applying most of his moves toward the injured jaw, with Heyman promoting him the entire time. Triple H comes back with a knee to the face and a spinebuster, but looks out of it between moves. He clotheslines Axel out of the ring goes out to pursue. He brings Axel back into the ring but gets too dizzy to get back in himself. He takes a seat and gets treated by the medical staff, which apparently means giving him a towel and putting water on his head. For some reason the ref never counts to 10, which would give Axel a win. Instead, Triple H is shown pushing away any help to get him up, looking around like an amnesia patient. He looks like an old man who has been wrestling for his entire life.
Decent show with one amazing match. Yet I keep thinking about how the debut of Curtis Axel was totally blown. He sold well but was booked to be a total jobber to Triple H who was in the middle of a stroke or something during the match. He also got bitch slapped and went down like a sack of potatoes. How do you build him up after this?
Even worse, Dolph Ziggler did not tweet throughout Raw, only saying how proud he was of