But they couldn’t do it.
Over the weekend, Mark Henry pulled his hamstring at a house show and his status is very much up in the air. Hammys are nothing to laugh at and can take a while to fully heal. While Mark doesn’t do a whole lot of running in his matches, it only takes one bad step to really do some damage. He was set to team up with the Big Show against the Shield, but it looks like they will hae to find a replacement (anyone but Khali!).
This week’s show starts with Triple H in the ring (with the Shield protecting him) to again introduce Randy Orton as the face of the WWE. Orton says his responsibility is to protect the status of the WWE, and to disrespect him disrespects the company and yadda yadda yadda, Bryan defacing Orton’s escalade meant defacing the WWE so he pummeled him on Smackdown and spray painted “NO” on his stomach, in a scene that looked straight out of the NWO playbook. Randy then asks the crowd if he should face Daniel Bryan at NoC. Crowd says yes, he says no. Same goes for Orton asking if Bryan has a chance to beat him and will he ever be more than a B+ player. Triple H steps in to say that it is his responsibility to give the fans what they want and protect the superstars. With that in mind he worries about the health of Daniel Bryan, as he keeps getting himself into situations where he gets into trouble. Trips then compares Bryan to Doink the Clown as being very popular, but not being able to become the champion because it was bad for business. He then suggests bringing back the cruiserweight title or the European title to give Bryan something to shoot for.
This brings Daniel out himself, who says he’s proud to be compares to Doink, but doubts Doink ever got as big of a reaction as him, and that Triple H and Orton are the only clowns he sees (OOOH). Bryan then says he doesn’t blame them for wanted Bryan to give up his title shot at NoC, specifically Orton, who he calls out for being completely out of the title picture until it was handed to him and calls Stephanie more masculine than him. Orton asks how many times Bryan has to get triple power bombed and punched in the face before he realizes he can’t win. Daniel responds by saying Orton doesn’t know what it’s like to be told he wasn’t good enough, which is what Bryan has gone through his whole career. It’s reminding me a lot of CM Punk’s rise to the top, being the unconventional top guy that crawled to get his spot. Bryan says Orton doesn’t know what it’s like because he has been handed everything, and that Triple H and the Shield will always be around because they know Randy can’t beat him one on one. Triple H says Bryan shouldn’t be mad at him, but at Big Show instead, who stands idle while Bryan gets beaten to a pulp despite having an “iron clad” contract. Well I’m glad somebody finally mentioned it! Trips decides to allow Bryan to get revenge by facing Big Show in the main event tonight. Seriously, Big Show can’t be fired. So why can’t he help?
Backstage, Cody is talking to Triple H and Randy Orton about Bryan. Cody says Orton shouldn’t be afraid of Daniel Bryan and having Orton/Bryan for the title is what is “best for business.” Triple H says he’s the one making those decisions, brings up how he and Orton were not invited to Rhodes’ upcoming wedding, and puts Cody in a match against Orton tonight, all but saying that Rhodes will be fired if he loses.
The Miz takes on Fandango in the opening match of the show and they quickly go back and forth until Miz takes control on the outside. After throwing Fandango back in the ring, Miz blocks Summer Rae from slapping him, then spins her away. Summer is furious that she was forced into a dance move and it is all Miz right now ‘Dango turned the tide during the break but Miz came back shortly after returning. Miz missed on a jumping clothesline in the corner, and Fandango followed with a slingshot leg drop on a suspended Miz, but Fandango appeared to injure his knee. Miz quickly capitalized but clumsily applying the figure four leglock, giving Miz the victory via submission. I suppose that works as a false finish which give more reason for these two to continue the feud. At least if they are facing each other they can’t ruin anyone else on the roster.
Backstage, Booker T is talking to Bryan about being to good to risk his career by fighting the company. He urges Daniel to give up his title match to save his career. Bryan says this isn’t about money, but about his life. Booker says they can ruin his career, and that they extend much farther than the arenas (is this the mafia?). Booker says he’s behind him, but if I didn’t know better I’d say it felt like Triple H made Booker try to talk Bryan out of taking his rematch.
DOLPH ZIGGLER in the ring next to face a mystery opponent. Dolph looks toward the stage when he is ambushed by Dean Ambrose from behind. He drives Dolph into the ring post and tells him to respect the business when suddenly Ryback’s music hits. So Ryback is the mystery opponent and Ziggler is staggered. Dolph throws a quick elbow but Ryback quickly delivers a belly to belly suplex. Ziggler gets tossed around while Ryback gets “you can’t wrestle” chants. Ryback goes for the meathook clothesline but Dolph meets him with a dropkick. After taking a splash in the corner, Ryback bounces back to hit the meathook and finish off Ziggler with Shell Shock.
Backstage, Brad Maddox has informed Triple H and Stephanie that the Big Show is refusing to fight Daniel Bryan. Steph decides to take matters into her own hands and heads to the ring. There, she calls out the Big Show as someone who helped her out when she was traveling with the WWE as a kid. She gives him a big hug and tell him he knows he is broke due to all of his investments went belly up, and that if he doesn’t perform he is in breach of his “iron clad” contract (well that explains it). Steph says that he can’t have much more left in the tank and doesn’t have much of a future, even dropping the bomb that large people don’t live as long as other people and he needs to think of his family (DAMN!). So now Big Show is crying as Steph says the only person he’s hurting more than himself is her. Steph leaves the ring and the crowd chants “You’ll be okay” at Show. That may be my favorite chant ever.
During the break a commercial broke the news that Edge will be back on Raw next week. I imagine this has to do with Christian somehow but either way it’s pretty cool.
We come back to Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal of 3MB facing the Prime Time Players. I’m glad that they aren’t making a big deal out of it, but it is getting weird how they haven’t said anything about Darren Young coming out. I mean this is a company that brings up every bit of personal information they can discover. We know AJ didn’t have a boyfriend until she was 20, Daniel Bryan was a vegan, John Cena is dating Nikki Bella after getting a divorce and Kane is a huge republican. Why can’t Michael Cole at some point say “Darren Young, the first openly gay superstar”? It’s not taking advantage of a story, it’s just stating a fact. Anyway, Titus starts off in charge, stomping Slater while blowing the whistle. 3MB comes back with Young in the ring, Darren gets O’Neil back in on a hot tag and drops Mahal with a side kick. The pin was supposed to be broken up by Slater but Heath was a beat too late and the ref had to just slow the count. Titus then hit an exaggerated spinebuster to win a strictly midcard match. This should have been on Superstars.
Backstage, Paul Heyman is pissed at Brad Maddox for constantly putting Heyman in danger at the hands of CM Punk. First by allowing the fans to vote Punk to be able to get his hands on Heyman by beating Axel, then by putting Heyman and Axel in a match against Punk that essentially guarantees Heyman being physically engaged by Punk. Triple H suddenly pops up to mention how he approved the match because he has watched Heyman weasel his way out of being beaten up and wants to see if he can find a way out of this too. If he doesn’t, then Heyman will get beat up by Punk so either way Triple H wins. Very face-like promo by Trips. I guess he is a situational face now.
Time for Cody Rhodes to fight for his job against WWE Champion Randy Orton. Orton controls things early, dropping Cody on the top rope and tossing him out of the ring, but Rhodes fights back by throwing Orton into the steep steps and working the arm in the ring. From here, Cody plays the aggressor as Randy fights back only to have his momentum stopped by a relentless Rhodes. Orton slows Cody down with a shot to the eye with Cody coming back with punches in the corner. Randy slides out however and hits a back breaker on Cody coming down from the second rope. The match is very much over with the crowd, as the career of Cody being on the line is making it all about him. Orton finally takes charge as the rest of the roster watches in the back, showing support for Rhodes. Cody comes back again with a springboard dropkick that a gets a big reaction from a guy dressed like Dusty Rhodes in the front row. Rhodes then goes for a Disaster Kick that Randy ducks under, only to be caught with it when Cody goes for it a second time. That gets a two count and Rhodes goes for a backflip splash that Orton sidesteps from. Randy hits the second rope DDT but Cody counters the RKO with Cross Rhodes for two and a half. Rhodes goes for Cross Rhodes again but Randy moves away and Cody tweaks his knee. Orton takes advantage of the injury and hits an RKO to finish off Rhodes in a very good match that, most importantly, had no interference. I was originally thinking there would be a plan for Triple H and Orton to face John Cena and Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series (meaning Cena would come back early). But I think the steps are being taken to develop a match with Randy Orton and the Shield taking on Bryan, Big Show, Ziggler and Cody. After the match, Triple H comes out to congratulate Cody on showing so much heart, then firing him on the spot because he needs winners. Just days before his wedding too! I imagine he’ll be gone just long enough to have a wedding and a honeymoon. If played properly, this match could be the one that really pushes Cody up the card.
CM Punk walks out to the ring next with a kendo stick, like the one Paul Heyman beat him with last week. Punk promises that he is done making empty threats and even talking as he is having a hard time figuring out what he is supposed to say next after taking the beating he took last week. He says everything that needs to be said by all parties involved has been said. Punk says he doesn’t want to wrestle, he wants to fight, specifically fighting Paul Heyman and he’ll go through Curtis Axel to do it. Instead of talking about Heyman and Axel, Punk has a message for all of the fans of his in the arena and watching on TV. In thirteen days at Night of Champions, he guarantees that he will eliminate Axel and get his hands on Heyman. He promises that anyone buying the PPV will see a side of him they have never seen before. He wraps it up by stating that while Heyman said Punk broke his heart, in two weeks he is going to break his face. Like I said before, there is nothing else to do here but have the match.
Backstage, Big Show is telling Bryan that he didn’t want this fight but he is just doing what he has to do. Daniel says he doesn’t care what Big Show has to do and is just worried about himself. Big Show is worried about being fired like Cody, and doesn’t want his friendship with Bryan to be affected (since when are they friends?). Bryan says Show should be worried, because Bryan is going to beat him just like he did to win the World Heavyweight Championship (exactly!).
Triple Threat Divas match next between Natalya, Naomi and Brie for the right to face AJ for the Divas title. AJ is even at the announce table for this. AJ talks trash about all the Total Divas women while the ladies all switch places in quick one on one bursts. It looks like Naomi might be getting the win on Natalya when AJ runs in the ring and attacks Naomi, ending the match with a DQ (even though that technically shouldn’t happen in a triple threat match). All of the Divas then decide to beat up AJ for what she said about them last week, and AJ is left flat in the ring while the other ladies leave together. So now AJ still doesn’t have an opponent, and I feel like there could be a fatal four way for the belt. If only that was as hot as it sounds. Stephanie would make that official during a commercial.
Damien Sandow, who I could have sworn would face Cody again at Night of Champions, is in the ring to face Rob Van Dam in a rematch from Smackdown. Sandow attacks first but RVD comes back with a spinning kick out of the corner. Rob tries a hurricaranna next but Damien catches him and drops RVD with a power bomb. Sandow maintains control with a chinlock. Van Dam fights back with a springboard side kick and is about to go for rolling thunder when Alberto Del Rio comes out to distract RVD. Sandow takes advantage by attack from behind and he regains control. Sandow yells things like “not so fast, Rob” which is exactly why I love him. He’s like an old school villain. He might as well put on a black coat and tie RVD’s wife to train tracks. With Alberto still watching from the stage, RVD slips into a small package which only gets a two count, but starts his turn around. Van Dam hits rolling thunder and goes for the frog splash, but Sandow pulls him from behind to roll him up for two. Van Dam then drops Damien’s throat on the top rope, hits the frog splash and wins the match. The roll up near fall gave just enough potential for a surprise finish to make me really enjoy the it. Del Rio just standing idle on the stage really speaks to how little story there is left to tell in the feuds.
Backstage, Cody Rhdoes, now fired, is free to speak his mind and bitches about how for 20 years the McMahons have been dumping on the Rhdoes (semi true). He mentions how Dusty dominated in Florida only to be buried and turned into a joke in the WWF, how Dustin was turned into Goldust which ruined his career in the long run, and finally how he is getting married and has to find a way to support his family. After being asked whether or not he told his wife, Cody just walks away. See ya in a few weeks, Cody.
Main event time as the Big Show is set to face Daniel Bryan with the entire roster forced to watch from the stage. I really don’t see what the big deal is here. They are supposed to have a match. Was there protocol I didn’t know about where people only wrestled people they hated? This is bogus. Big Show is afraid to fight Bryan while all Daniel wants to do is fight. Bryan jumps at Show and Show just keeps throwing Bryan aside, trying to calm him down. This only gets Daniel angrier, as he attacks Show’s legs and starts drilling him with missile dropkicks. Big Show finally starts fighting back, saying that he warned him before hitting a few chops and a body slam. This would really be a great time for Big Show to turn heel and really go after Bryan. Instead, Show keeps dropping Bryan and trying to tell him that he doesn’t want to hurt him, while Bryan can’t stop attacking. Daniel gets him down and goes for a roundhouse kick but Show catches it and sets up for a chokeslam. Daniel gets out of the way and hits a DDT. Bryan then goes for a dive off the top rope, but Show catches him with a spear in mid air. Big Show sets up for a KO Punch but he can’t pull the trigger and leaves the ring. Triple H and the Shield come out to make him finish the match but Show refuses and goes up the ramp. Trips then has the Shield run in and finish off Bryan themselves. Big Show runs in but Triple H stops him, warning him that he’ll be fired if he interferes. After a triple power bomb on Daniel leaves Big Show in agony, Triple H orders him to give Bryan a KO Punch. Show refuses and tries to leave, when Stephanie comes out again, telling Show to do it for his family. Show gets back in the ring and looks like he is going to go after Triple H when Steph gets in his way with one last warning. Big Show finally delivers the KO Punch on Bryan and heads up the ramp as Steph and Trips tell him he did the right thing (and the crowd chants “you sold out”). Randy Orton then comes out to stand over Bryan as the show comes to an end.
The whole finish to the show was just painful to watch, and I can’t decide if it’s from good storytelling or just things dragging out too much. This is yet another show that ends with Daniel Bryan on his back and each time they spend more and more time doing it. I was thinking that Show hitting Triple H could lead to the rumored match between the two down the road, especially since Show likely can’t have the tag match with Mark Henry since he is injured, but I guess that will have to wait. For now we just have to see how Ziggler/Ambrose and Reigns and Reigns versus anybody will get put together with just one Raw before Night of Champions.