Back from their international road trip, Raw is live again this week with a Daniel Bryan corporate make-over being the main thing hyped. Lesnar, Vince and Trips also scheduled to appear but who cares! Daniel Bryan is getting groomed.
But before moving forward, we have to look back at Randy Orton getting punched in the balls during a show in Brazil. It was a classic low-blow too. I loved it…
…until it was discovered that the guy was a local wrestler and very well may have been staged to get publicity for the promotion. Where have our heroes gone?
I also got around to watching Total Divas and I didn’t hate it. I actually found some of it interesting. Sure some of it is definitely rehearsed and the new girls are just the worst, but I had no idea how different the Bellas were (aside from cup size) and how good Bryan and Cena were at stirring up relationship drama for each other (when they aren’t chopping wood topless together). Seriously, how can the twins be left out of their match?
Stephanie McMahon kicks off the show by showing the previously mentioned makeover of Daniel Bryan, featuring him working out, getting a spa treatment, being fitted for a suit and eating meat (he isn’t a vegan anymore so it’s no big deal). After the montage, Daniel comes out looking like a tiny Damien Sandow. Basically his hair is slicked back to a ponytail and his beard is brushed down. Stephanie loves it, but naturally, the crowd isn’t feeling it. Bryan says that while he appreciates the effort, he thinks the company really wants a ripped dude in cargo shorts who can sell merch (see where he’s going with this?). Daniel then cuts a promo where he talks about how big Cena is and how unassuming he is. He then says the reason he will beat Cena is because John is an entertainer while he is a wrestler. Bryan says Cena has been performing for sold out arenas every night and can’t imagine the holes in the wall Bryan had to climb out of to get to where he is. He then refers to last night’s Total Divas episode (can’t believe I’m saying that), where he adds that if Cena got fired tomorrow he would just go back to his huge mansion and you’d never see him again, while Bryan would immediately hit all the gyms and dirt boxes available to him because of how much he loves wrestling. He uses the word “wrestling” a lot and plays off the crowd. It’s a very similar theme to the Punk/Cena feuds. Bryan wraps up by saying that he’ll dress nice and look presentable for now, until he makes Cena tap out at Summerslam. I was convinced they were going to have the makeover run through the whole show but they spared us of that.
When Bryan finished up he was met in the ring by Vince McMahon. Vince tears apart Bryan’s attempt at dressing up before saying he wants Bryan to be champion even less than he wants John Cena as champion. I still don’t get that part. Vince then continues to make fun of Bryan’s lack of size and good looks, until he says he is starting to warm up to the idea of him as champion. To fully gain his support though, Vince says that his makeover needs one more thing, and that is to shave his beard. McMahon then calls out for a barber chair (which needs 8 men to bring out for some reason) so that they can shave the beard right now. Bryan refuses, but Vince threatens to fire him if he doesn’t “go all the way.” Bryan then sits in the chair as Vince calls Wade Barrett out to shave his beard. I get the feeling this is leading to a match between them later on. Apparently Wade’s grandfather used to be a barber. Daniel stops him just before he begins, then attacks Barrett and buzzes off half of his beard. So now Barrett is pissed and Bryan tosses him over the barrier and storms off. Barrett was just doing what he was asked. Why did he have to get humiliated like that? Anyway from the stage, Bryan says that he won’t be changed, takes off his dress shirt to unveil a new “The Beard Is Here” shirt to go against Cena’s “The Champ Is Here” shirt. Clever folks over there at the WWE.
The Miz (who is hosting Summerslam whatever that means) is at the announce table for the first match of the night, putting Rob Van Dam against Alberto Del Rio. RVD lost to ADR two weeks ago on Smackdown after Del Rio played possum, then along with Randy Orton lost in a triple threat match to give Christian a World Heavyweight title shot. Couldn’t be less excited for that match. Meanwhile, Ricardo Rodriguez made his return from a wellness suspension to announce Del Rio. Van Dam starts the match in control with a monkey flip and a spring board side kick. Del Rio stole the momentum by rolling away from rolling thunder and landing a side kick. RVD dodged an enziguri however and hit rolling thunder for a two count. Del Rio got a knee up to block a split leg moonsault and tried to whip RVD head first into a bucket that Ricardo wedged in between the turnbuckles (it took two tries for Rodriguez as the bucket fell the first time). Van Dam reversed it however, sending Del Rio into the bucket, allowing RVD to roll him up for the victory. Nice, brisk match. Afterwards, Alberto kicked Ricardo in the head for “costing” him the match, the beat him with his own bucket and then wedged his head between the steel steps in the apron, where Del Rio would hit him with a missal dropkick. Looks like that relationship is done.
A suited up Cody Rhodes is in the ring now with a gift (presumably the MITB briefcase) in a wet box. Cody had thrown Sandow’s case into the Gulf of Mexico after Damien screwed him to win it in the first place. Rhodes then reveals the briefcase, which is now covered in seaweed and algae. Damien comes out and makes Cody drop the cast in the ring and leave so that he doesn’t get trick. Rhodes leaves the ring as asked, but then runs back in as Sandow does and beats him out of the ring. Cody then opens the case, removes the now soaking wet title contract and throws the case at Sandow. Like the previous match, this segment worked for being short and to the point.
Ryback out next for a WrestleMania rematch against Mark Henry with a heel/face switcheroo in effect. Ryback is treated like Punk or any other smaller wrestler against Henry, chipping away at Mark only to be dropped with single hits. After being taked down twice, Ryback ducks away from a chop and leaves the ring, decided he has had enough and takes the loss via count out. Waste of Henry.
Backstage, the Bellas talking about how great they are on Total Divas, when Eva Marie comes out to congratulate them on beating Natalya, who then comes out to slap Brie (I know because of the boobs). The segment ends without a peep from the announcers. That was nothing but a commercial for the show, although I can’t act surprised considering how they advertise Sonic and their own app, so promoting a WWE reality show should be the most blatant thing ever.
John Cena now in the ring to cut his Summerslam promo. He says he’s used to being a target, but this is different as a lot of the fans prefer Daniel Bryan to him (same can be said for Punk, Ziggler, Henry and the Rock). Cena then goes into the same old schtick about how he won’t change for anybody and he is who he is right down to the t-shirts and cereal (yes, somehow he IS Fruity Pebbles). He explains that Bryan glorifies wrestling in gyms and auditoriums because that’s where he’d rather be there then in the spotlight while Cena keeps coming back after all of his injuries. Cena agreed that if he was fired tomorrow he would never wrestle again, but that is only because he loves the WWE so much that he wouldn’t tarnish the WWE Championship. I’m not sure he knows he wouldn’t get to take that with him. He compares Bryan glorifying his ROH past over the WWE to a football player glorifying Arena League success to the NFL, saying the the WWE is only real game in town (that part is true). He calls Bryan unoriginal for saying he can’t wrestle, yet is an eleven-time champion and dares Daniel to underestimate him as the crowd chants “boring,” adding that Bryan doesn’t realize that if he loses he has to admit that he just isn’t that good. Cena wraps it up by saying that everyone can cheer for who they want to but Cena has been rolling for six months.
At this point, Randy Orton comes out with his MITB briefcase even though there is absolutely no chance of him cashing in right now. He tells Cena that he doesn’t care who wins at Summeslam because either way he can cash in his contract whenever he wants, and it is only a matter of time before he becomes WWE Champion. After he finishes, the Shield makes their way ringside, surrounding Orton and Cena, using the briefcase and title respectively as weapons. Daniel Bryan then runs in (still with his hair tied back) to even the odds and send the Shield away. Raw GM Brad Maddox then makes his way out to announce that due to all the drama, Orton, Bryan and Cena will face the Shield in a tag match for the main event. You mean he didn’t have a main event until the middle of the show? The whole segment just had way too many run ins.
Tons of Funk (I hated writing that but its shorter than Brodus and Tensai) out for a match against somebody that we’ll never know because here come the Wyatt Family. This may be the best character work the WWE has done in a while. I really enjoy their entrance and look. I’m just curious how they look in a regular match. Wait a minute. They were supposed to come out and Luke and Erick are Brodus and Tensai’s opponents. I know it had to happen at some point but I just didn’t expect it. They make short work of the fat dancers, as Erick steam rolls Clay to stop a splash in the corner, allowing Luke to clothesline Tensai and hold down Brodus so that Erick can hit a splash on Tensai to take the match. These are some big dudes. Bray then came in to hit Brodus with his finisher (front facing Cross Rhodes?) before cutting a promo about Kane, saying that the Devil’s favorite demon is a lie while he is the truth. He tells Kane to follow the buzzard and is freaky as all hell. Kane then responds by blowing up the ring and (through the big screen) telling Bray that he sees through his words and likes how Wyatt wants to maim everyone in his path. The difference is that Kane isn’t trying to spread a message, he just does it to amuse himself. This gets a nice pop from the crowd and Kane announces that he will be facing Bray at Summerslam (woo!). He adds that no one will be able to save him because the ring will be on fire (WOO HOO!). So does a “ring of fire” mean an inferno match? Is it something else? Either way I’m ready for seriously yet not as rapey Kane to be back and he makes a great first real opponent for Bray Wyatt. I really liked this segment.
For some reason there is now a Divas match without AJ, as Kaitlyn faces Layla. Layla turned on Kaitlyn to help AJ beat her on Smackdown (brining the return of the ass slap tap out) because she wants attention. Yup. Just attention. Layla is a solid worker but she is way over the top as a heel. It’s distracting. Kaitlyn was setting up for a spear when AJ came out (thank god) to distract her so that Layla can lay her out with a round house kick and steal the victory. Layla and AJ then skip around the ring and head out. This match was a hot mess.
The crap fest continues as Christian squares of against Heath Slater. Slater gets some offense in thanks to the rest of 3MB providing a distraction, but Christian comes back with a top rope dropkick and spears him (after Slater was to busy playing air guitar to pay attention) to pick up the win. This match certainly existed.
CM Punk out next to take on Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel as part of his mission to beat all the Heyman guys on the way to Paul himself. As soon as Axel and Heyman comes out, Punk heads up the ramp to fight Paul, who then runs away with Curtis fighting CM. Then eventually get back in the ring and start the match. Punk applies a standing leg lock and is in full control as he dives through the ropes into Axel on the outside. Curtis took control during the commercial and works him over, yelling that he and not Punk is the best in the world. At this time, Heyman decides to come back to the ringside. Punk, staring at Heyman, gets out of a chin lock to hit a back body drop and immediately crawls toward Paul. Curtis then attacks the distracted CM to regain control. Punk then hits a cross body splash and instead of going for the cover he again goes after Paul, only for Axel to blindside him with a clothesline. Punk then dodges a top rope attack to again take momentum, hitting the swinging neckbreaker and running high knee, but his knocked off the rop rope by Axel before he can attempt a flying elbow. Curtis hits the running neck breaker for a two count and the crowd is into it. CM clocks Curtis with a roundhouse kick to send him toward the apron where Heyman is giving him advice. Punk then dives over and starts choking Paul like Homer Simpson chokes Bart.
Before he can do anymore damage, Brock Lesnar comes out and heads toward the ring. Punk tosses Heyman aside and gets ready for Brock but Axel pulls him out of the ring from behind and attacks him. CM quickly hits Axel with a GTS and grabs a chair for Lesnar, only Brock tosses the chair aside and they start going at it. Punk slips out of an F-5, sending Lesnar into the ring post and dropping him with a clothesline off the announce table. Brock comes back with a belly to belly suplex however, and brings him into the ring where Punk (now with a bloody chin) evades another F-5 to take Brock down with a chair. Punk was about to go after Heyman with the chair when Lesnar grabbed it from behind and finally hit Punk with an F-5. Lesnar then follows Paul’s orders and beats Punk down with the chair before heading out. Very entertaining series of events. The match was good, and the aftermath was even better. Really looking forward to the payoff at Summerslam.
Backstage Heyman, Lesnar and Axel cut a promo for Punk. Lesnar says that he took the best from the best in the world, and that he is the best and the beast. He then tells Heyman to say something stupid. Paul obliges and tells Punk that he may not make it to Summerslam because next week Paul wants to fight Punk one on one, thinking that CM will be too injured due to the beating he just suffered to take him on.
Back in the ring, Fandango (over with tonight’s crowd) is out to face Kofi Kingston, who is making his return after a couple of months due to injury, and ditched his usual gear for long tights. Kingston starts fast with a dropkick but ‘Dango controls the pace with a very boring series of moves (chin lock, irish whip, clothesline). You’d think he would have more acrobatic moves. After dodging a second rope knee, Kofi hits his runnings chop and dropkick, followed by the Boom Drop. Fandango rolls away to avoid Trouble in Paradise but Kofi avoids another leaping attack to finally land Trouble in Paradise to cap off an impressive finish to take the match. Solid return for Kingston.
Backstage, Stephanie came crying to Triple H because Vince chewed her head off after the Daniel Bryan makeover segment. That was the last straw for Trips, who calls out Vince for being completely out of his mind, running around doing whatever he wants and Triple H has had enough. He said he’s not going to watch this ship go down because of Vince, and he is going to stop whatever Vince is planning on doing at Summerslam. Could they have shown is Vince chewing out Steph? That would have been fun. Either way they have my attention.
The Real American’s are draped with “We the People” flags while Zeb Colter calls the Packers overrated and tells the Wisconsin crowd that they eat too much cheese. Without the immigrant thing on the table, I’m a little unclear as to what Colter wants anymore. Anyway Swagger and Cesaro are out to face the Usos. Jimmy start strong against Jack until Swags pulls him up to drop Jimmy into a Cesaro uppercut to give the heels control. I really like how Swagger and Cesaro work as a team. Cesaro runs in after a Swaggerbomb to leapfrog over Jack and land feet first onto Jimmy. Nice move. After Jimmy hits a spinning kick, Jay gets in on a hot tag and cleans house. Swagger breaks up a pin but Jimmy tosses him out of the ring and follows up with a splash over the top rope. Cesaro then jumps off the top rope but Jay hits him with a superkick to the stomach (was supposed to be the face) for a two count. Meanwhile, Jack whipped Jimmy into the post outside and hit Jay from the apron into Antonio who his a Neutralizer to secure the win. Pretty good match from these guys.
Big E gets a chance to make up for his DQ loss to DOLPH ZIGGLER last week on Raw due to AJ interfering. Dolph uses is speed to avoid Langston, hitting a dropkick but finally getting tagged with a clothesline on the apron to send him to the outside. Big E throws him back in and we get more of the same, as Ziggler does a good job evading Big E only to occasionally get flattened with a power move. Dolph rolled away from a splash to hit a fame-asser (more like a fame-half-asser) for two count as Kaitlyn come down the ramp to start a brawl with AJ. Somehow they end up in the ring, distracting Ziggler long enough for Langston to lay him out with a clothesline. Big E stares down Kaitlyn, who leaves the ring after realizing what she did, and Langston finishes the match with a Big Ending as AJ gets the last laugh again.
Main event time as Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and John Cena takes on the Shield. Orton starts by controlling the pace on Rollins with some punches in the corner and a suplex leading into Daniel Bryan hitting a missel dropkick. That knocks Seth into the Shield’s corner where Ambrose is tagged in and runs at Bryan. Daniel ducks under him however and dropkicks Reigns off the apron before back flipping over Dean to hit him with a running clothesline and a dive to the outside through the ropes. Bryan then tosses Rollins into the post and is about the follow with a running knee off the apron when Ambrose dropkicks him from inside the ring down to the floor. From here the Shield takes control while working over Bryan. After escaping a back body drop with back flip, Bryan hits Roman with a roundhouse kick and tags in Cena, only the ref was distracted by Ambrose so he didn’t see the tag. Ambrose then knocks Cena out of the ring, only to be attacked by Orton, knocking Dean to the outside just in time for Rollins to whip Bryan into Randy, knocking him off the apron to the outside as well. Back in the ring, Daniel reverses a roll up cover to apply the YES Lock onto Seth Rollins. It is only broken up by the rest of Shield, who break up the hold as the bell rings (I guess the faces win by DQ even though there wasn’t really outside interference?).
Cena runs in to help Bryan clear the Shield from the ring. Bryan gets a YES chant going but Orton runs in, thinking Daniel hit him on purpose, and drops him with an RKO. Now Cena and Orton are staring each other down as the Shield run in again. Orton and Cena clear out the Shield, forcing them to retreat, but Randy turns on Cena and hits him with an RKO, and now he’s thinking about his MITB briefcase. With both Bryan and Cena down, Orton grabs the ref but the Shield go back in the ring, causing Randy to hold up. Reigns hits Cena with a spear and Bryan gets triple powerbombed as Orton watches from the stage to end the show. If CM Punk taught us anything, it’s that standing idle while a face gets beaten up is the first sign of a heel turn, and it certainly seems that the long long long awaited Randy Orton heel turn is upon us. That’s good since it isn’t as much fun having a face hold the briefcase, and we know Orton has been bitching about going heel for months now. An average Raw finished strong and kept me in suspense for Summerslam. Well done.