So Mark Henry is getting grief backstage about taking time off for an injury, Big E replacing Henry as giant black man turning face, Kofi is out for a couple of months with surgery, the Wyatt family are making waves and Bret Hart is apologizing for gay remarks. Blah blah blah blah blah. DOLPH ZIGGLER IS CLOSE TO RETURNING AND THE REST OF THE WORLD SPINS AROUND HIM.
No he isn’t ready to get back in the ring yet but just having him appear at house shows is a good sign. Coming off a concussion, you never know what to expect an thankfully he appears ready to get back to rasslin’ in time for Payback. The only thing I will miss were his Raw live tweeting, which put every blogger (especially me) to shame and was most likely shut down by the WWE after that one show.
Enough kissing Dolph’s ass (for now). Tonight’s show kicks off with Stephanie McMahon of all people. She announces that even though Triple H was medically cleared to compete, she is making the executive decision to pull him from his match tonight against Curtis Axel. She asks the crowd to not be so selfish as she is doing it for her family, and thinks Axel is beneath him anyway. The boos turn to a big ol’ pop as Vince McMahon struts into the ring. His hair is starting to look the way it did before he shaved his head. The pop doesn’t last long as he asks the crowd not to boo Stephanie, agreeing that for the sake of the family, Triple H will not compete. The crowd keeps chanting for Trips and Vince gets annoyed, saying that the crowd wants too much. He brings up how when Ryback put Kofi through a table on Smackdown the crowd chanted “one more time,” and continued after getting put through two more tables. Vince says that there won’t be “one more time” for Triple H. This is as close as we’ve gotten to heel Vince in a while and I love it. To add to the drama, the Shield makes their way to the ring!
Sadly this would be a fake out as they were just coming out for their match against Kane, Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton. This is a payoff from the end of Smackdown where Bryan went nuts on the Shield, essentially taking them out by himself. It was pretty awesome and I recommend checking it out (right now). Bryan starts against Ambrose and continues dominating. He tags Kane in who starts to take lumps but then Bryan gets back in and restores order for the faces. Back in again, Kane hits a sidewalk slam and goes to the top rope, but Reigns distracts him long enough for Rollins to dropkick him down. Kane is currently being booked as the weak link! Kane then botched an attempted to suplex Ambrose and Rollins, but got it the second time and tagged in Orton who hit a pair of power slams and hit a second rope DDT on Ambrose and Rollins at the same time. He went for it on Reigns as well but Seth hit him from behind and gave control back to the Sheild. Ambrose started yelling “you like that?” as he stomped Randy. Real molesty. The Shield continues to work over Orton for an extended period of time until he hit a side suplex on Roman and tagged Rollins with a dropkick as Seth was jumping off the top rope, getting Bryan in with the hot tag. Bryan back flipped over Ambrose and dropped him with a flurry of kicks, then flinging Rollins onto him with a hurricarrana from the top rope. Bryan then jumped through the top ropes to take out Reigns and went back to the top rope to hit a missel dropkick on Ambrose, but Dean kicked out on two and the crowd is going nuts. Bryan applies the NO Lock on Ambrose but Rollins breaks it up. Kane then tries to choke slam Rollins and Reigns but Seth hits him with an enziguri and Reigns spears Kane out of the ring. Orton sneaks up behind Rollins and gives him an RKO, but when he tries the same on Reigns, Roman pushes Randy into Bryan, giving Ambrose the opening to hit his reverse DDT and win the match for the Shield. Fantastic match. Once again everyone looked great and once again Daniel Bryan stole the show. Extra to the Shield too (especially Ambrose) for selling like a boss for Bryan. Daniel looks mental after the loss.
Backstage Bryan is still calling himself the weak link while Orton and Kane have to convince him otherwise. Daniel says he doesn’t have either man’s respect and that he needs to have another match to beat the respect out of somebody. Meanwhile Triple H is walking around with his bag in search of Vince’s office. He’s annoyed at Stephanie and Vince for removing him from the match, and Triple H demands to be allowed to wrestle. After earlier saying Axel was beneath him, now Vince is saying this kid is “good.” Vince says Triple H’s ego is getting in the way of his brain. Triple H says he is going to wrestle. Vince again says he’s not, and Trips says “who is going to stop me.” Vince gets pissed and Stephanie gets in the middle of them. Vince tells Trips not to do something he’ll regret and walks out (of his own office?). Drama picking up in the Helmsley/McMahon family.
The Usos in the house! They are taking on the Prime Time Players in an all mid card tag match with two real tag teams. Can’t think of the last time I saw that. Titus and Darren control things from the start of the match, until Titus misses while running into the corner, allowing an Uso to hot tag the other Uso, who hit a Rakishi splash on Young in the corner, only to have the pin broken up by O’Neil. Young and O’Neil each get hit with superkicks, and the Uso’s get the win on a Superfly Splash. Quick but solid match that builds up the Uso’s. Something that has not been done in a while.
Alberto Del Rio and Big E Langston out to the ring next for what seems like the 80th straight time. They are booking it as the rubber match and the fifth time they are facing each other, with Del Rio winning last week on Raw due to interference from AJ backfiring, and Langston winning on Smackdown due to AJ interference not backfiring. This match starts with Del Rio dropkicking Big E and clotheslining him out of the ring, but missing on the leap through the ropes and getting battered with a shoulder to give Big E the momentum. At this point Cole announces that Ziggler is watching at home due to the concussion and I am crushed. Meanwhile Big E catches Alberto in the air going for a top rope cross body splash, and drops a couple of back breakers as a “we want Ziggler” chant pours in from the crowd. Couldn’t agree more. Del Rio goes for an arm breaker but Langston pushes him away, only to get tagged with a side kick to the head. Del Rio then applies the cross arm breaker that Big E rolls out of, but Alberto hits a German suplex and applies the hold again. Langston looks like he is going to roll out of it again but Del Rio hooks the leg and wins the match via pinfall. A fairly dull match but I really like the pin (aside from Langston showing WAY too much cheek). Del Rio leaves the ring and we get no Ziggler. What the hell is going on?
Sheamus up next against Cody Rhodes who has Damien Sandow in his corner. Sandow has been hosting mind games on Smackdown, with Sheamus coming out and not winning, but Brogue Kicking Sandow because he can’t outsmart Damien. Sheamus starts off strong but Cody avoids getting battered outside the ring, getting Sheamus caught around the turnbuckle and hitting him with multiple kicks and knees to the head. Sheamus powers out of a chin lock by hurling Rhodes across the ring and hits a flying shoulder off the top rope. Cody escapes White Noise and then dodges a Brogue Kick to lead into a neck breaker. Cody then attempts Cross Rhodes but Sheamus tosses him over his shoulder. Rhodes then goes to the top rope for a moonsault but Sheamus rolls away, causing Cody to land on his face. Sheamus hits White Noise and the Brogue Kick to take the win in an entertaining match. Sandow’s commentary during the match didn’t hurt it either. After the match, Sheamus goes to Sandow offering to shake his hand, Sandow pushes it away twice (maybe because he keeps kicking him the head) so Sheamus punches him in the face. What a guy.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan is storming around kicking over stuff (has he been doing this the whole time? It’s been like half an hour) when he runs into Ryback. Ryback tells him to watch what he’s doing, and Bryan is all “or what? you’ll put me through three tables like Kofi?” Ryback tells Bryan that he had a stomach virus last year and his throw up is bigger than Bryan (why did he have to mention the virus? he’s so gross). Daniel says he isn’t afraid of Ryback, and they agree to have a match. Ryback calls Bryan the weak link, saying that after the match he’ll be the missing link (oooooh).
Somewhere else backstage, Vince finds Heyman and Axel to inform them that Triple H won’t be competing this week or next week (after telling Curtis how great he is of course). Paul is fine with that and starts to walk off when Vince tells him that Axel will be facing Cena tonight. Heyman is fine with that too since he beat Cena via count out last week. McMahon adds one last stipulation, stating that it will be a no DQ match. So this will be the first Axel match on Raw to have a real finish.
The Great(?) Khali along with Natalya and Hornswaggle (the only trio worse than 3MB) out next for a match against Fandango with Summer Rae, and Fandango had his entrance skipped. What? That’s the only good thing about him! It’s all Khali early with chops and elbows and, well that’s all Khali can do really. He even imitates Fandango dancing before Fandango starts to retreat to the back. The Miz comes out to makes ‘Dango go back in the ring but Wade Barrett comes up from behind Miz and hits him with a Bull Hammer elbow. The IC champ is out to intimidate both Miz and Fandango, who are both gunning for his gold. So even though the bell never rang, Khali wins via count out. Dare I say the booking for perfect for Khali? Naver had to bend down for a pin attempt.
The is followed by the Barrett taking on the Miz who is competing despite getting hit in the face once with an elbow. “Let’s go Barrett” chants from the crowd as Wade starts off in control, only giving ground when Miz drops the rope on Barrett running at him to send Wade out of the ring. Back in the ring, Barrett stops Miz from climbing the top rope but misses on a knee in the turnbuckle. Miz tries to capitalize with a figure four but Barrett hits the Winds of Change. All of a sudden Fandango comes out and dancing with Summer Rae (so we get his entrance after all), gesturing for Barrett to come to him even though it looks like he is grabbing Summer’s boob. Miz takes advantage of the distracted Barrett to apply the figure four and win the match. So now Barrett is pissed at Fandango, Miz is pissed at Barrett, and nobody cares about Miz.
Backstage, Triple H has decided to leave the arena so that he doesn’t punch Vince in the face. He also tells Stephanie to tell him that he is definitely facing Axel next week on Raw. So we’ll see how that goes.
Back in the ring, Jerry Lawler introduces Chris Jericho to sign the contract for his match against CM Punk. Punk is of course represented by Paul Heyman. Heyman mentions that they could have signed the contract in the back but we just had to feed Jericho’s ego, then goes into trash talking about how Punk will win when Jericho cuts him off and says all he cares about is Heyman delivering Punk at Payback. Heyman signs and gives the contract to Chris, but before he signs he asks Jericho if he is ready to face CM Punk in his home town where he is beloved. Jericho asks Heyman if the match can be at Summerslam or Madison Sqaure Garden or even Hartford, to which Heyman declines. Jericho signs the contract and says that when you act like a jackass like Punk, you get treated like a jackass. No idea what that is supposed to mean. Punk then asks where the contract should be filed, finally deciding to shove it in Heyman’s pants. What an odd ending to the segment.
Six Diva tag match putting AJ and the Bellas against and the Kaitlyn and the Funkadactyles. AJ starts by slapping Kaitlyn in the head but tagging out after her hair is pulled. Naomi and Cameron then flipp around over a Bella before Naomi misses on a cross body and the Bella works the arm. The next minute or so was just the other Bella locking in an arm drag until Kaitlyn got tagged in. She throws one Bella into the other, and when the legal Bella tried to tag AJ, AJ jumped off the apron and walked away. Kaitlyn used the distraction to hit a spear to win the match, ending my misery.
Backstage, Kane is trying to talk Bryan out of facing Ryback but Daniel still thinks he has something to prove. He tells Kane he doesn’t want him anywhere near the ring during the match, and Kane does him one better by leaving the arena, saying he’ll come back when he gets his head on straight. That match is next.
Bryan runs into the ring chanting YES! He hasn’t done that in ages. It still gets the crowd going. Ryback comes in through the back of an ambulance, since he has an ambulance match as part of his three stages of hell thingie at Payback. It’s too bad he wasn’t in an ice cream truck match. Bryan starts off on the offensive, coming at Ryback with knees and kicks, using speed to dodge Ryback and toe drag him into the corner. Ryback drops Bryan with a clothesline but Daniel gets his knee up to block a splash. Ryback then powers out of an attempted NO Lock (or should it be YES Lock now?) and he starts to control the match. Bryan then counters a Lou Thesz press and applies and Indian Death Lock while pummeling Ryback and getting a two count. Bryan goes for the backflip into the flying kick off the ropes but Ryback runs at him, clotheslining him out of the ring. Back inside it is all Ryback, beating Bryan down in the corner and calling him the weak link while tossing him around the ring. Daniel then dodges Ryback running into the corner, causing his shoulder to go into the post. Bryan then hits three missel dropkicks in a row, pushing Ryback into the corner and finally taking him down for a two count. Bryan then hits another one from the top rope, then goes back up again to hit a flying headbutt leaping completely across the ring for a two count. Big pop for Bryan (so what else is new?). A frustrated Bryan smacks himself in the face a few times before laying kicks into Ryback. Ryback catches Bryan on the last kick however and hits a big power bomb to regain control. Ryback gets lazy picking up Bryan for another power bomb and Daniel converts it into a NO Lock in the middle of the ring. Ryback crawls to the ropes and breaks the hold, rolling out of the ring. Daniel tries to jump through the ropes at him but Ryback slides away and throws him into the announce table. Ryback takes over for good, driving Bryan into the steel post and bringing out a table. Ryback puts Daniel through the table and the match ends in a DQ. Bryan’s music hits as Ryback brings out a second table, standing it up outside the ring when John Cena runs out to stop him. They are about to go at it when Curtis Axel comes out for his match with Cena. Ryback leaves and the next match is on.
Early on Heyman pulls Cena’s feet out from under him by the ropes (legal in a no DQ match) and Axel takes control on a leaping clothesline off the apron. Cena tries to come back but is countered with a back breaker. Paul Heyman gives Curtis a chair, but Cena takes it and hits him in the back. John then throws Axel over the announce table and the ref is doing a ten count. You can be counted out of a no DQ match? Cena rolls Axel back in the ring and Curtis grabs the chair and attacks Cena with it. Now Cena is keeping his distance, trying to avoid getting clocked with the chair. Cena dodges two swings and dropkicks the chair into Axel’s face for a two count. Curtis then takes down Cena with a blow to the back of the head and gets a two count of his own. Cena then blocks Axel from driving him into the turnbuckle and hits the five moves of doom (missing horribly on the five knuckle shuffle). Axel then escapes the AA and dodges Cena running at him, with his shoulder going into a chair he had wedged into the corner. Axel brings the chair back into the ring and gives him a shot in the back for a two count. He keeps trying to pin him after single chair shot and Cena keeps getting on two. Finally Axel starts laying into him with the chair, hitting a number of shots. Curtis then hits his one handed swinging neck breaker into the chair, but Cena kicks out on two. So now Axel has just had his finishing move applied onto a chair, but it doesn’t end a match. I don’t care how much he is talked up during the shows, he is being horribly booked. Axel then goes for a Perfectplex but Cena counters and applies the STF. Axel is making his way toward the rope when Heyman hands him a laptop from the announce table and Curtis hits Cena in the head to break the hold (again, legal). Outside the ring, Cena picks up Axel for an AA into the propped up table but Heyman stops him. Cena goes after Paul and then beats back Axel when Ryback runs back out and drives Cena into the table. Ryback stands over Cena as the ref counts to ten, and Axel wins again via count out. Pretty good match and Axel was strong, but he can’t have his best moves be kicked out of so early in his run.
Raw was fine this week. Bryan really made the whole thing watchable as not much else happened. No stories really progressed outside of Team Hell No growing apart, and at the end of it all I’m just stuck wondering when the hell I’m going to see Dolph Ziggler!