There is plenty going on as the WWE heads toward Night of Champions. It’s the start of life without John Cena (at least for a few months), Daniel Bryan is taking on the McMahon family in a PG version of the Austin/McMahon feud, and a bunch of other plot lines that have nothing to do with Total Divas. Before getting into Raw though, let’s get into this:
Ted DiBiase Jr. leaving the WWE is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. He is not a regular on TV and has been essentially buried on the roster. However, for him to choose not to resign with the WWE and not the WWE choosing not to resign him is interesting to me. He didn’t get a big TV exit. He posted this video from his personal account. He also didn’t seem bitter toward the WWE about his stock falling since his 2008 debut with Cody Rhodes. I get the impression that his reasons for leaving are completely genuine, and that he is just a guy who wanted to get out while he was ahead so that he can live a “normal” life with his family before his body started to betray him. So long Ted. Best of luck in your future endeavors.
Raw opens up with Triple H in the ring with the Shield ringside acting as security. He repeats how Triple H screwing Bryan out of the WWE Championship at Summerslam was business, but that the attack on Bryan last week on Raw was personal. He said Bryan made it personal when he insulted Triple H and Stephanie. Trips says he is willing to set his personal feelings aside for business is Bryan can do the same. He then talks about how ratings are up lately, giving credit to Orton being the new face of the company and calls Randy out to the ring. Trips is so happy with him that he bought Randy a brand new Escalade (in stores now!). Orton thanks Triple H for the gift and recognizing that he is the only one suited to be the face of the WWE. He is about to check out the car when Daniel Bryan takes the stage. He thanks the fans for supporting him despite not being a conventional “superstar.” He also thanks Cena for the opportunity for giving him the match when someone like Triple H never would have, and Triple H for finally proving that his view on what a champion should be is just as misguided as Vince. He calls out Trips for going from the leather jacket wearing rebel to the suit wearing sell out. Bryan then says he’s going to be the WWE Champion at Night of Champions. Triple H mocks him by singing “When You Wish Upon A Star” and calls Bryan a “B” at best. He decides to let Daniel prove his worth (like he hasn’t had to do that before) by putting him against the Shield in a gauntlet match. First he’ll take on Rollins, then Ambrose and finally Reigns. Triple H says he is putting Bryan in this match because he believes in him, and it is best for business. Pretty good open.
The first match of the night puts Cody Rhodes against Fandango with Damien Sandow at the announce table. They go back and forth for a bit until the Miz comes out to ‘Dango’s music while dressed like Fandango, dancing around with Rosa Mendez. This distracts Fandango of course, so Cody sneaks up behind him and rolls him up for a quick win. Fandango gets pissed and goes after Rhodes, who is then also attacked by Sandow. Miz runs in to help Cody and the faces toss the heels out of the ring. Brad Maddox then steps out to stop the ruckus and make a tag match putting Sandow and Fandango against Miz and Cody, which starts right now!
I cringe whenever someone gets involved with the Miz. He’s like reverse Midas for wrestling. Everything he touches turns to crap. Sandow and Fandango work Rhodes over for a while. After a double clothesline, Cody tags in Miz (still wearing Fandango’s gear) who hits Damien with a double axe handle smash of the top rope while Rosa jumps around like it’s the first time she’s ever been a face. I miss sexy hip turning Rosa. Anyway, Miz hits the leaping clothesline in the corner and starts to work Sandow’s leg. In the process, Miz kicks Fandango off the apron and ‘Dango decides to head back up the ramp. Left alone, Sandow walks into a Skull Crushing Finale and Miz gets the win. Fandango correctly says his name to end the segment a pretty bleh match.
Backstage, Josh Matthews is talking to Christian about Triple H’s actions since Summerslam. Christian says he knows that the Shield gets put on anyone who criticizes Triple H. Orton then steps in to talk trash going into their match later tonight. Christian replies that he knows Triple H likes to use sledgehammers, but it appears that he has found a new tool. That means Randy Orton is a tool! Oh man Christian has so much charisma. Wait, I get it now!
CM Punk takes on Curtis Axel next, with a stipulation involving Paul Heyman to be added on by the WWE Universe. 81% vote to have Heyman face Punk one on one if Punk wins, beating out Paul being banned or being guest referee of the match. So now Punk is giddy as he takes charge with some mat wrestling. Backstage before the match, Axel told Heyman not to worry because Punk can’t out wrestle him. Heyman looked around like he knew CM was the better man. As for the match, Punk took things outside when for some reason, he took off toward the stage to attack Heyman. Axel went after him of course, taking control of the match. Honestly, where is the logic there? Punk knows that if he wins the match he gets Heyman in the ring, so why go after him mid-match? Anyway Punk hits a running high knee and goes for the flying elbow when Curtis rolls out of the ring. Punk then keeps the pressure on by diving through the ropes into him. Curtis takes control again with a lariat and a dropkick, then mocking Punk as Heyman makes his way ringside. Axel then misses with the swinging neck breaker and Punk hits a neck breaker of his own, followed by a flying elbow for two. Axel then slips out of the GTS, hitting the swinging neck breaker for a two count of his own. Axel then looks like he’s going to go for the Perfectplex when Punk pops up to hit a GTS out of nowhere, winning the match and the chance to face Heyman one on one. Paul tries to run away when security forces him into the ring. Punk finally has his hands on Heyman when Curtis hits Punk from behind with a low blow. Axel then handcuffs Punk’s hands behind his back so that Heyman can smack him around. Punk fights back by hitting Axel with a roundhouse kick and sweeping Heyman to the ground. Punk only gets a few more kicks in however before Curtis attacks him again from behind, this time with a chair. Axel then handed Heyman a kendo stick, and after Punk said to “make it count,” Heyman beat him with it while telling Punk that he loved him and fathered him. Curtis Axel just happens to be the guy Punk is facing in the ring, but the real feud of course is Punk versus Heyman. Heyman looks legitimately upset and betrayed every time he attacks Punk, making this so much more interesting to watch that any similar storyline before it. Heyman was practically crying by the end of this match. The in ring stuff was fine, but the storytelling was fantastic. Punk left the ring with a bloody and bruise back. Still looks better than Sheamus’ leg.
Total Divas plug match as Jojo announces Natalya (with the Funkadactyles) facing Brie (with Nikki and Eva Marie). Brie has control early and drops a sloppy stomp. Natalya then counters with a swinging power slam and applies the Sharpshooter. Eva Marie distracts the ref so that Nikki can pull Brie out of the ring. Brie gets back in, hits a face buster and wins the match. Whatever. AJ then comes out (thank god) to make fun of the show (while also promoting it). She calls them all cheap and expendable useless women who turned to reality because they aren’t good enough actresses. The Bellas keep telling her to say it to their face, which is weird because AJ is right in front of them. AJ says she worked her entire life to break down doors while the other Divas took the cheap way into 15 minutes of fame. AJ says the reality is that they will never be able to touch her, drops the mic and walks off. It was a pretty fantastic promo but sadly, Eva Marie and the Bellas don’t seem to give a damn as they start skipping around immediately after AJ leaves. But hey, Total Divas is on E! every Sunday night at 8:00 PM ET!
Ricardo Rodriguez comes out to announce Rob Van Dam (all these guest ring announcers) for his match against Alberto Del Rio. If RVD wins this match he gets a title shot at Night of Champions. Ricardo’s announcing just doesn’t feel right when it’s in english. That was the whole point of his existing after all. RVD starts strong with a monkey flip and knocks him out of the ring with a springboard kick that only kinda made contact. Del Rio turned the tide with an irish whip into the barricade and takes it back into the ring. After a double stomp he starts an “A-D-R” chant to mock the RVD chants. Del Rio tries a double ace handle off the top rope but Van Dam meets him with a spinning kick. Rob follows with rolling thunder for two, then hits a split-leg moonsault for another two count. Van Dam goes to the top rop for a frog splash but Alberto knocks him down with an enziguri for two. Del Rio is about to go for the arm breaker when Ricardo starts an RVD chant from the announce table. This distracts Alberto long enough for Van Dam to sneak a leg scissors roll up to pin Del Rio and earned his title shot. Solid match. Too bad they just gave away the PPV match.
Backstage, Josh Matthews is interviewing Ryback about bullying everybody. Ryback responds in a very Ryback way, by bullying Matthews and pushing him to the floor.
In the parking lot, Renee Young is talking to Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel about what happened to Punk. Axel says he experienced a beating he’ll never forget, while Heyman describes Punk as a child who just needs to keep being punished over and over again. Paul explains that he feels like a man right now, as he proved that he is someone Punk should never come up against. His eyes were totally red during the segment.
Hour three begins with Christian in the ring for his match against WWE Champion Randy Orton. Randy controls the pace early until Christian tosses him over the top rope, following up with a baseball slide. Apparently, Brodus Clay says that Christian lands the most authentic punches (aka real punches) on the roster. Of course a canadien doesn’t know how to pull punches. Orton bounces back with a dropkick and regains control with a knee lift to send him off the apron. Christian tries to come back with a swinging DDT off the top rope, but Orton slips away and pushes him off the top rope back to the outside. Christian is still pandering to the crowd as he gets a boot up on Orton and goes to the top rope. Randy then meets him up there to deliver a suplerplex. Christian plays possum and sneaks a small package but Orton kicks out, only for Christian to avoid an RKO and hit a flying cross body for two. Orton then escapes a Kill Switch but ends up getting hit with a sloppy tornado DDT for a two count. Christian tries to attack Orton from the apron but Randy pops up to lands a second rope DDT. Christian avoids an RKO however and lands a spear that only gets a two count. Christian again avoids an RKO and goes for a Kill Switch, but Orton pushes Christian into the ref, then pokes him in the eye and hits an RKO to take a pretty good match. Afterwards, Daniel Bryan shows up on the big screen. He talks about how pretty Orton’s escalade is, saying he deserves it as the face of the company. Bryan then asks if he would become the face of the company if he defeated Orton. Bryan then moves to the side, revealing that the escalade has “YES” spray painted all over it. Michael Cole dubbed it, a “YES-calade.” Yikes.
Afterwards, Maddox and Triple H are with Orton to look over the damage. Maddox explains how the crowd loved what happened and the locker room is laughing about it. Triple H then tells Brad to make every superstar that laughed at what happened to come out to the stage and watch what happens to Daniel Bryan. He adds that if any of them make any comment or funny look toward the ring, he will fire them on the spot.
Titus O’Neil out next with Darren Young in his corner to face Jack Swagger, who is accompanied by Cesaro and Zeb Colter. Colter accuses the PTP as being part of the countries poverty problem, which is maybe because they are black? Anyway, Swagger starts strong with a series of knees and shoulders in the corner, continuing the assault with a back body drop. O’Neil comes back with a running shoulder and tosses Swags over his head behind him. Jack bounces back quickly however, taking Titus’ leg out from under him. Jack pins Titus and puts his legs on the second rope for leverage, however Young knocks them off. Swagger yells at Darren and Titus uses the opportunity to drop him with a spine buster, winning the match. The PTP just can’t stop getting over on the Real Americans.
No live appearance from the Wyatt’s, but we do get a vignette talking about how sister Abigail (who his finisher is named after) chose him to save the world. There was a lot of other things I didn’t understand, but it what creepy whatever it was.
Backstage, Maddox is trying to get a doctor to look at Punk but he refuses. Punk says a doctor can’t help him, but Maddox can by giving him a match against Paul Heyman, regardless of what he has to do. Brad decides to book Punk in an elimination match against Heyman and Axel. Maddox says that if Heyman tries to back out you will not see him again. Punk says that if that happens we won’t see Maddox again either.
The entire roster, including Dolph Ziggler who did not have a match tonight (C’MON MAN!) is on the stage to watch Daniel Bryan in his gauntlet match against the Shield. Before the match starts, Renee Young tries to talk to Big Show, Dolph and Miz about what is happening, but they refuse to speak for fear of being fired. What happened to Big Show’s iron clad contract!? Bryan quickly gets Rollins in a Mexican surfboard to start the first match and clotheslines him out of the ring, taking himself out as well. Ambrose and Reins surround him on the outside as Seth drives Daniel into the barricade to get back in the match. Bryan bounces back with a backflip into a jumping clothesline, but misses a roundhouse kick as Seth drops his throat onto the top rope. Seth goes for his flying knee but Bryan turns it into a half crab. Seth reaches the rope to break the hold but Bryan dives through the ropes to knock him into the announce table. Back in the ring however, Rollins threw Daniel into the corner to regain control of the match. Rollins ran to the opposite corner to prepare an attack but Bryan ran right behind him to connect on a missile dropkick. A quick chain sequence of pin attempts followed, culminating in Rollins hitting a reverse suplex for a two count. Seth then went for a superplex, but Bryan slipped out and hit a german suplex off the top rope that caused Rollins to do a complete flip before landing. Bryan finished Seth off with a running knee (that the cameras somehow missed!) to get the win. Great first match.
Ambrose immediately runs in after the fall and stomps out Bryan. Daniel reverses a body slam and turns it into a YES Lock in the middle of the ring. Roman Reigns runs in to break up the hold and attack Bryan. This gives Bryan a DQ win against Dean but is now facing Reigns. Bryan pulls the same trick on Reigns and gets him in the YES Lock. It doesn’t take long before Rollins and Ambrose attack Bryan, with Roman finishing him off with a spear as the roster watches from the stage. Triple H comes out to stare down the wrestlers, daring them to do something that gets them fired. He gives the Shield the nod to hit Bryan with a triple power bomb, which is followed by Randy Orton coming out to land an RKO as Big Show specifically looks like he’s going to blow a gasket. The show ends with Triple H again daring anybody to say something to him and Daniel Bryan down in the ring. Heels are dominating lately and it’s pretty great. This is what makes the faces victory all the more satisfying. It’s why Cena’s stories fall flat so often. He never looks weak. Even when he’s injured. It’s similar to what is happening to Punk and Axel right now. Axel and Heyman get the upper hand at the end of each segment, but the matches are all Punk. We all know who the better wrestler is.
Night of Champions is in three weeks, and hopefully Bryan and Punk gets the snot kicked out of them every day until then.