Since Raw was pre-taped last week and all of the results are already out, this week’s recap is going to be a little thin. To make up for the lack my babbling writing style this week, here is Daniel Bryan chokeslamming Seth Rollins during the current Australian tour:
The man is taking off in the WWE in the same way that his “YES” chant took off after last year’s WrestleMania. It’s pretty amazing, and it takes me back to when I first started writing about wrestling here and was down on Bryan for not stepping up in big moments. He turned me into a big Bryan fan and seems to get better every night. Now he is main eventing one of the WWE’s main PPV’s with John Cena of all people in a true David vs. Goliath story. So far they are also avoiding throwing the Bella twins into the mix and cross promoting it with the Diva’s reality show. There is still plenty of time for that to happen, but if they can avoid the cheap plug (I know that’s asking a lot) it can be something pretty special. I don’t even want to think about how great it would be for Bryan to actually win. I just couldn’t take the disappointment if I did manage to talk myself into Bryan winning.
Also, happy 33rd birthday to Dolph Ziggler!
Anyway, on to the show which immediately begins with Vince McMahon walking down the ramp with Brad Maddox. Maddox apologizes to the crowd for allowing Cena to select his Summerslam opponent. Vince continues to call Bryan out as undersized and not championship material until Daniel comes out to defend himself. I like how they are using the real rumors about Vince thinking Bryan isn’t a main event caliber guy. McMahon and Bryan argue about respect, and who is give who less of it. Vince asks Bryan if he respects John Cena, which Daniel of course says he does. McMahon then says that Cena is lying about thinking Bryan deserves a title shot, and was only selected because Cena knows Bryan can’t beat him. He throws in that Bryan can’t even beat Kane, who he’ll face later. Vince then says that Bryan doesn’t have the “ruthless aggression” that Cena had in the beginning, but then adds that he is sick of Cena thinking he runs the place (when of course Vince does). McMahon doesn’t want Cena to win, but doesn’t want Bryan as champion. The only way Vince says he wins is if both Cena and Bryan spontaneously combust at Summerslam. Bryan responds by saying Cena is making a mistake if he underestimates him, and that it doesn’t matter what Vince thinks of him, only what the fans want. The fans of course go nuts for Bryan, and Daniel says the crowd wants a new champion. Solid opening segment that did just enough to prep Bryan/Kane.
Mark Henry leads off with his first match as a face, joining the Usos against the Shield. Henry crushes Ambrose and Rollins one on one, then does the same to Reigns after kicking him in the middle of a test of strength. Love the heel attack from the face. Shield bounces back on the Usos, and I just realized how cool it is for Roman to be in all these matches with his cousins (at least i think that’s how they are related in the whole Rock/Rikishi family) the Usos. The match is basically Henry dominating, the Shield gaining momentum on the Usos, then Henry coming in to dominate again. Cole pointed out that Jay is the Uso with a tattoo on his chest. So that’s something. Henry gets one last hot tag and cleans up until Reigns jumps in and spears him. Mark makes it to his corner to tag Jimmy Uso, who has his top rope splash blocked by Ambrose putting up his knees. Ambrose hits his finisher and wins the match for the Shield, but Mark Henry attacks the Shield immediately after the decision, tossing them out of the ring. Basic match that pushes along Henry as a monster face.
Backstage, Ryback slapped a guy in the face with peanut butter and put him through the craft services tables because he thinks he said something to him. He sure is a heel.
Meanwhile, Kane is asking Brad Maddox where the Wyatt family is since they beat him up last week. Maddox says they aren’t in the building, but he can send a message to them by beating his friend Daniel Bryan.
Rob Van Dam taking on Fandango next. ‘Dango had the lights missing from his entrance, which is already a bad sign for him. Fandango cartwheels over RVD to avoid a monkey flip, but gets tagged with a superkick instead. After being hit outside the ring with an RVD moonsault off the apron, Fandango drops Van Dam’s throat onto the top rope and takes control with the best spot having Fandango dodge a roundhouse kick to deliver one of his own. Rob eventually does hit a roundhouse to go into his signature set. After rolling thunder and the monkey flip, RVD sets up for the frog splash when Fandango rolls out of the ring and heads up the ramp. RVD wins via pinfall and that match was a little took quick. ‘Dango poses and says he name on the stage before leaving with his music playing. How does that work? Why would Fandango’s music play after he loses?
Backstage again, AJ is bitching about Big E allowing Kaitlyn to spear her all the time, making her freak out about her upcoming match with her. AJ tells us that every time she is speared a baby cries and thinks Langston doesn’t stop the spears because he likes to watch her or something confusing. Big E even looks confused over the whole thing.
The Divas match is next and has AJ controlling the pace with various arm locks. Kaitlyn tries to roll her up for a sneaky pin, but Lee slides out and knees her in the face instead. Eventually Kaitlyn gets going after an elbow in the corner, hitting a back breaker and going for the spear. AJ blocks it with a knee to the face and regains control. Big E looks bored out of his mind the entire time, even rolling his eyes a lot. Out of nowhere, AJ bounces off the rope to set up an attack, but is laid out with a spear instead and Kaitlyn pins the Divas Champion to win. AJ loses her mind in the ring and screams like a freak, which is the perfect time for DOLPH ZIGGLER to come out and congratulate her on another loss. Ziggler then challenges Langston to a match right now and he agrees! Sweet!
They start off by playing cat and mouse as Ziggler avoids Langston, hitting a flurry of punches until Big E finally catches him with a chest to the face or something. He keeps yelling “your time is up! it’s my time!” in the voice of Cookie Monster. He hits a belly to belly suplex and follows with a running splash for a two count. This is as good as Langston has ever looked (of course it’s with Ziggler). Dolph escapes a bear hug but falls into a back breaker instead. Langston hits a handful of shoulders in the corner before Dolph finally dodges one, sending Big E into the post to start the momentum swing. Ziggler hits a dropkick and escapes a Big Ending, then lowering the top rope to send Langston out of the ring. While he’s on the outside, AJ runs in and attacks Ziggler, giving Dolph the win via DQ. Ziggler loosens AJ’s grip on his hair (Dolph: “Are you kidding me?”) and heads up the ramp while Big E runs in to yell at AJ for costing him the match. Ziggler then rushes back in and hits Langston with a Zig Zag to wrap things up. Well done.
Backstage again, Bryan is asking Cena if what Vince said about Cena’s opinion of Bryan is true. John says all McMahon does is lie in order to promote and sell tickets, while Bryan repeats that Vince McMahon has always been honest with him. Pointless segment.
World Heavyweight Champion, Alberto Del Rio takes on Christian (who will challenge ADR for the WHC at Summerslam). If there was ever a major title match that I couldn’t care less about, it’s this one. They immediately go into an extended chin lock and Christian botches a takedown before getting into another chin lock that draws boos from the pro Del Rio crowd of Laredo, Texas. Del Rio slips away from a baseball slide, then dodges Christen running at him, causing Captain Charisma to go into the steel steps. Del Rio follows that with a running dropkick pinning Christian’s arm against the steps and that was far and away the best part of this match. Christian avoids an inverted suplerplex to land a tornado DDT for a two count and Christian is on the comeback trail. He hits a dropkick from the top rope for two, but Del Rio stops it by pulling Christian’s face into the turnbuckle. Del Rio can’t help but smile as the crowd keeps chanting “Mexico” for the whole match, and Alberto hits a tilt-a-wirl back breaker for another two count. After taking a kick to the head, Christian ducks under an enziguri, tries to apply the Kill Switch but Del Rio escapes it, then Christian rolls out of the cross arm-breaker right into a roll up pin to win the match. The crowd made this watchable but these two guys just don’t do much for me anymore.
Hey remember Wade Barrett? He’s out to job to newly faced Cody Rhodes who recently threw Damien Sandow’s Money in the Bank briefcase into the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently Sandow can’t swim. Sandow started strong by clotheslining Rhodes out of the ring and keeping the momentum on the outside. Wade continues to dominate for the bulk of the match until Cody hits a vertical moonsault to turn things around. Cody then evades a pump-handle slam, turning it into Cross Rhodes to win the match. Nice and quick. Sandow then comes out to yell at Cody for throwing away his MITB briefcase, and says he filed a complaint with the WWE. Damien blames Cody’s family background for the way he is, and says he should send him back to the circus where his family belongs. Good segment.
Time for the first of the two main event matches as Daniel Bryan faces his former tag team partner Kane. Part of me wants them to just hug it out again. After a short stare down, Bryan makes the first move and attacks Kane with a jumping knee. Kane powers him away. Bryan chips away, Kane powers him back, rinse and repeat. Apparently, winning this match would make Kane the #1 contender after Summerslam. Kane stops the usual backflip into jumping clothesline spot with a boot to the face and is in control of the match. Bryan escapes a chokeslam and hits a running knee off the apron to even the field. Kane is back in control after the break however, causing Bryan to toe drag him into the turnbuckle and follow up with a missel dropkick off the top rope and three more running in the corner. Kane avoids a second top rope attack to hit a sidewalk slam and hit his leaping clothesline off the top rope. Kane then goes for the chokeslam but Bryan grabs his arm to attempt the YES Lock. Kane avoids again goes for the chokeslam, but Bryan grabs Kane’s head and applies a small package to get the win. It was very similar to how Cesaro lost to Bryan, but it still worked as a strong finish to a solid match. Kane chokeslammed Bryan after the match in frustration, but then after Daniel headed out the Wyatt’s shows up to attack Kane! Kane initially escapes the ring and grabs Bray, but the other Wyatt’s stop him and eventually take him out. Bray finishes him off and tells him to be careful who he says all that “devil’s favorite demon” stuff. Wyatt’s are making a strong impression on me.
Crowd killer time as Natalya takes on Brie Bella. This is basically the AJ/Kaitlyn match if AJ was more bitchy. The match goes on for a while so that Cole and Lawler can talk about Total Divas. Eventually, Natalya comes back with a power slam and a tornado punch for a two count. She then tries to apply the Sharpshooter when Nikki Bella walks out and distracts Natalya with duck calls, allowing Brie to sneak up and get the roll up pin victory. The crowd hates it and even for a Bellas match, that was a lame finish. Do I need to watch Total Divas to get the duck call thing?
R-Truth now in the ring to face Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel. Paul Heyman grabs the mic before the match to talk about how he is the best manager ever, leading into how Brock Lesnar will destroy CM Punk at Summerslam. He then gets to Axel, stating that just being associated with Heyman puts Curtis over the top. Aside from one short burst from Truth, Axel controls the match. After Axel takes down Truth, CM Punk comes out, takes down Axel and goes after Heyman. Punk gets his hands on Paul briefly but Curtis breaks them up. Punk drops Axel again but Heyman escapes up the ramp. This match only existed to give Punk some screen time.
Backstage, Triple H is yelling at Vince for being so hard on Daniel Bryan. Vince says he just wants someone to beat John Cena and he doesn’t think Bryan can do it. Instead, he wants someone like Triple H, just 20 years younger (burn!). Steph then butts in and says that all Daniel needs is a corporate makeover (huh?). Vince says “good luck” and walks out. So that’s what Bryan will be up to next week I guess.
It’s finally time for the match that has been closing out Raw after the cameras go off for weeks now, as WWE Champion John Cena squares off against Ryback in a tables match. I had been hearing about it for weeks, then I saw it myself two weeks ago. It was fine. Never any doubt who would win. In classic Cena fashion, he was dominated for a good portion only to pull an AA out of nowhere through the table to win the match. That’s pretty much what happens here, including Ryback breaking a few tables on his own. The only weird spot had each man holding a set of steps and throwing them into each other. Finish was about the same though, as Cena avoided a meathook clothesline, allowing him to pull out an AA out of nowhere to win the match. I might have thought more of it if I hadn’t seen it two weeks ago.
After the match, Daniel Bryan ran out and grabbed the WWE Championship. He started to hand it to Cena before pulling it back and saying it is going to be his. Cena didn’t like that too much, as he yanked it back to say he’d have to earn the title. Daniel then started a YES chant and the show abruptly ended.
Considering it was a taped show, all they really had to do here was keep everything status quo and put on a couple of matches for the sake of having something to air. They did exactly that. No more. No less. Here’s hoping they step things up next week when they are back live.