Last week, all I knew about Raw this week was that Edge was stopping by for the first time in forever to promote his new TV show. I was never a big Edge guy so whatever. But now I’m completely invested in tonight’s show because Dustin Rhodes is coming back as Goldust to face Randy Orton, with little brother Cody’s job on the line! I’m marking out already. The fact that this all went down on Twitter makes it even better!
The last time we saw GolDustin he was battling heel Cody at the Royal Rumble and I was giddy at the idea of a brother vs brother match at WrestleMania (not like these brothers). They had some legit chemistry (you’d think they were related or something). Alas, now Cody is a face and fired so we get Dustin in stepping up for a real match with all of the McMahon/Rhodes family drama added for some extra flair. There is no way this match can deliver on all the hype I built up for it in my head.
If there was ever a Raw I just wanted to fast forward through its this one. Being in Toronto, a fired up Edge takes the stage to a huge pop to kick things off. He is hosting a segment of the Cutting Edge, stating that Triple H invited him because he thought it would be “good for business” to have a reunion with his former partner, Randy Orton (not Christian, who is out with a concussion). Edge says he doesn’t want to do that because Orton is boring and is now just a corporate lackey. Instead, Edge has Daniel Bryan come out for the interview. Big chanting for Bryan (we can expect a lot of that from the Toronto crowd, the best there is in my opinion), who talks about how Triple H told him he’d get hurt if he didn’t give up his title shot. Daniel says the more he gets beaten up, the sweeter it will be when he beats Orton at Night of Champions this Sunday. Edge says he sees a lot of himself in Bryan, sharing the same passion for the business, and although he isn’t sure he can beat Orton, he does think he deserves a fair shot to try. Edge starts to pump up Bryan when Randy Orton comes out to diss Canada and make fun of Edge for having his body break down so early. Edge responds be continuing to call Orton and puppet and calling out Triple H for having no eye for talent (there is a little truth there). Soon after being mentioned, Triple H comes out asking Edge to say what he has to say to his face. Since Edge doesn’t have to worry about being fired, he has no problem telling him he has no eye for talent, thinking that Edge, Jericho and even John Cena would not make it. Triple H responds by promoting Edge’s show as he was obligated to do, and then saying that while he was wrong about people like Cena and Jericho, he was right about Edge being a failure (huh?). He adds that all of the Rated-R Superstar stuff never drew a dime (oooh). Triple H said he’d give Bryan to prove his worth by facing Dean Ambrose, and since Ambrose will have the Shield in his corner, Trips is letting Bryan have the Big Show in his corner (we know how that’ll end up). Edge then continues to make fun of Triple H for marrying into power and being more of a dick than a dictator. Since he can’t do anything to Edge, Triple H has the Shield beat up Christian and drag him out to the ramp (effectively writing him off until his concussion subsides). Edge runs out to his aid to end a pretty good opening.
Backstage, Edge is getting in Triple H’s face when the Shield gets between him. Edge says he wishes the doctors would clear him so he can do something about what he did. Triple H says the doctors will never clear him because of his neck and spine issues, then ordering Edge to get out of his arena. At the threat of having the Shield force him out, Edge agrees to leave (at least for now).
Curtis Axel with Paul Heyman out for the first match of the night against Kofi Kingston. This is a rematch from Smackdown where Kofi won with an SOS (when was the last time that happened?). With “CM Punk” chants going, Kofi and Curtis swap moves, with Axel grabbing the rope to break an SOS pin attempt. Meanwhile, Paul Heyman hasn’t shaved since last week and looks like he’s ready to crack. Axel gets Kingston in the corner and starts bashing him with knees. He doesn’t back off when the ref calls for it and the ref has no choice but to disqualify Axel, giving Kofi another win. This infuriates Heyman, who knows that if the same thing happens in his and Axel’s handicapped match against Punk, that Paul would have to face CM in the ring. Axel says that won’t happen and goes to finish off Kofi, who bounces back to hit a Trouble in Paradise to knock Curtis out. Heyman is not exactly thrilled.
Backstage again, Heyman is being helped to the trainer’s room by Axel and a ref. Apparently he slipped on some water, and this looks like an attempt to back out of his match this Sunday.
Over in the locker room, Booker T is talking to Big Show about what happened last week, when Triple H forced him to knock out Daniel Bryan. Booker says he would have done the same thing if his job was on the line, and tells Big Show not to be a hero by letting his pride get in the way. Booker is acting like the biggest sell out of the whole group and it hasn’t even been turned into a story. Big Show says “pride is all I’ve got left” and walks out.
DOLPH ZIGGLER in the ring next and will likely be fed to the Wyatts. Rumor has it that Dolph rubbed some people the wrong way with some comments he made in an interview a while ago, leading to him being completely buried by every dominant heel possible. Can’t say I’m totally surprised as Ziggler talks a lot about his spot on the roster and who he thinks he’s better than (hint: everybody). Bray Wyatt immediately drops Dolph with a power slam, and after taking dropkick, Wyatt takes him down again with a diving shoulder and is dominating. Ziggler dodges Bray running at him in the corner and follows up with a splash, a neck breaker and a fame-asser for a two count. The rest of the Wyatt’s then get on the apron, and Bray uses the distraction to splash Dolph in the corner and finish him off with Sister Abigail for the win. I still love the characters, but I’m not seeing enough ring work from Bray to be overly impressed. The tools are there, they just aren’t being utilized.
Hour two starts with Paul Heyman hobbling into the ring on crutches with Axel and a “doctor.” He says he does not believe in the Canadian health care system (nice) which is why he brings his physician when he travels outside the country, who confirms that Heyman tore his ACL and can not compete on Sunday (boom). Paul says he was looking forward to teaming up with Axel and regrets not being able to beat CM Punk. Heyman says he is leaving for New York and will be back as soon as possible. Before he exits, Brad Maddox brings out Doc Sampson, the WWE’s on site doctor, to examine Paul in the ring (sure, what exam can’t be in a public arena). Brad points out that only a WWE doctor can declare someone as medically unable to compete. The crowd chants “this is awkward” and Sampson moves Heyman’s leg around while Paul winces and yells. The doctor determines that he is fine (no kidding), setting Heyman off on Maddox for bringing out the doctor. CM Punk then makes runs out with a kendo stick, causing Heyman to run for his life as CM takes out Axel, leaving him alone with Paul’s doctor. Punk acts like he is going to allow him to leave, but then beats him to a pulp with the kendo stick. That hardly seemed necessary but it was pretty funny.
AJ is at the announce table as Brie Bella, Natalya and Naomi take on Aksana, Alicia Fox and Layla. Naomi hits the rear view on Aksana but Layla turns the tide for the heels. AJ meanwhile is talking about how the Total Divas girls are obsessed with her after she called them out two weeks ago. Cole asks if she is jealous about the attention they get, to which AJ responded by saying she only cares about the Divas Championship which is why she had the date she won it tattooed on her neck. Lawler asks if she has any other tattoos, and AJ told him she is 26 and therefore too old for him (truth hurts). She then says she declined Total Divas because she was busy main eventing Raw, which JBLthe announcers doesn’t seem to remember (how convenient). Anyway the match ends with Natalya tapping out Alicia with the Sharpshooter (Canadian pop) and AJ holds the title up with the Total Divas staring her down from the ring. So is Brie a face now? Doesn’t matter, she didn’t have much to do in the match.
We come back from break in the middle of R-Truth rapping before his match against Alberto Del Rio. Truth starts to take control by clotheslining Del Rio over the top rope (after two attempts) and following up with a dive over the top rope to ADR on the floor. Alberto bounces back with an enziguri as Truth was coming back in. The crowd takes to chanting for the announcers as Del Rio controls the match. “RVD” chants starts Truth’s comeback with a spinning kick and a facebuster for two, but “Undertaker” chants pop in as ADR turns the tide for good with a swinging neck breaker. He hits the side kick and the cross arm breaker to secure the win the via submission in a match that was more memorable for what the crowd was chanting than anything in the ring.
The preshow match for NoC has just been announced and it looks pretty interesting. Five teams will square if in what is being called a “Tag Team Turmoil” match to determine the number one contender for the Shield’s tag team championship. Two teams will start, and after one team is eliminated a new team will enter. I think I like this. It incorporates everyone without having the ring be too crowded. The teams are Tons of Funk (there, I said the name), 3MB, The Real Americans, the Usos and the Prime Time Players (also known as the not so ambiguously gat duo).
Zeb Colter in the ring to say exactly what you think he would say about Canada, but his “We the People” chant is cut off by Santino! The Italian snake man is back from his injury/finishing off his wrestling school and is taking on Antonio Cesaro, who immediately welcomes Santino back with a dropkick. After a brief comeback attempt from Santino, Cesaro put him in a giant swing for 25 turns. Not the 100 turns he did back in Chikara but it still got a “holy s#!t” from the crowd. Santino then ducked a clothesline with a split to go into the hip toss, but Cesaro kicked the Cobra away and hit an uppercut. Antonio then just started dominating Santino (specifically with a running uppercut in the corner) but couldn’t get the pin. Finally, Santino counters a punch by pulling off a hip tos and converting it into a crucifix-like pin to get the surprise win. The crowd was chanting “maple syrup.” Whatever. When used right, Santino can be pretty fun and even a good underdog character. We’ll see what they do with him.
Damien Sandow in the ring next to take on the Miz, who starts of in control with his leaping clothesline into a flying axe handle smash as the crowd showers him with boos. Sandow ducks under a boot to toe drag Miz onto the second rope and take charge. Damien always seems on the verge of flipping off the crowd when he hits the elbow of disdain. Miz comes back with a knee lift and a boot to the face as he starts to work the leg and the crowd chants “you can’t wrestle.” This is when Fandango decides to make his grand entrance to a big pop from the crowd. He distracts Miz with his flamboyance, allowing Sandow to roll up Miz from behind for the win. At least this match brought us the biggest Fandango pop since the day after ‘Mania.
Backstage, Renee is talking to Goldust, who is speaking out of character about his match against Randy Orton. He says he was always the screw up of the family, and for him to get so many chances in the WWE only for Cody to get fired the way he did is ridiculous. Triple H then pops up to remind Dustin of all the pressure on his shoulders, with Cody and his new wife (they aren’y actually getting married for another week or so) watching at home with Cody’s job on the line. Goldust said he is not messing around. OOOOOOOH.
Bryan versus Ambrose may be closing the show, but Goldust/Orton is the main event and is next. It’s really weird watch Dustin in the full outfit but completely out of character. It doesn’t look right. Dustin does do a little caressing to play to the crowd before trading blows with Orton in the middle of the ring. The fans are very into it as every shot landed gets a reaction one way or the other. “You still got it” chants come down as Goldust hits a clean and quick sequence of moves. Randy starts to take charge but Dustin takes it right back with a roll up into a series of chops. Orton uses a thumb to the eye to get back on the offensive, laying into him in the corner and Garvin stomping him. Goldust then evades a power slam and sets up Shattered Dreams (kick to the nuts for you youngin’s) but Randy rolled out of the ring to avoid it. Back from break, Orton is in control again until his face is planted into the steel steps. Goldust loses the momentum on the apron however as Randy drops his throat on the ropes and whips him into the steel post. Orton hits a back body drop onto the barrier outside and some more stompin’ inside. Goldust then comes out of nowhere to reverse a hip toss with a bulldog and gain momentum. He hits 10 punches in the corner and whips him toward the ref. Orton stops himself from colliding, but then allows Dustin to roll him up for two and a half. Randy comes back after the kickout to hit the second rope DDT. Randy gets a “YES” chant going to mock Bryan as he sets up for an RKO. Dustin turned the RKO into Cross Rhodes (just like Cody did) but only get two (just like Cody did). Goldust then misses with a right hand and falls into an RKO to give Orton then win and keep Cody fired. Really entertaining match that paced itself well, had the crowd hooked from the start and had a good finish. I enjoyed it a lot. Afterwards, Orton used a play on words to tell Goldust that his “dream” of getting Cody his job back has been “shattered” just like he’ll shatter Bryan’s dream of winning the WWE Championship (get it? because Goldust’s move is Shattered Dreams).
Backstage, Stephanie is talking to Goldust about how it is his fault that Cody does not have a job. She calls him a loser for letting his entire family down, and instructs him to join Cody on the unemployment line. Stephanie sends him off by telling him to say hi to his dad Dusty for her. We then basically watch Dustin walk off, presumably into a wall as I didn’t see an exit that way.
Rob Van Dam in the ring next to square off against Ryback in a battle of guys with the same singlet artist, with Alberto Del Rio walking out to call RVD a washed up loser. He says Ricardo belongs with RVD because he’s a loser, just like Del Rio belongs with the World Heavyweight Championship. Del Rio and Van Dam keep telling each other what initials everyone will be chanting. It’ll either be “RVD” or “ADR.” WTF? Rob starts off strong with some jumping kicks to take Ryback off his feet, but Ryback powers out of a monkey flip to gain control. He tosses him around for a while until RVD hits a spinning kick, landing rolling thunder for a two count. He follows up with a front flip and a side kick off the top rope. Van Dam goes up again for the frog splash but Ryback rolls out of the ring. Rob leaps to the outside but hits the barrier when Ryback moves away. Ryback then drives RVD crotch first into the ring post a couple of times, giving Van Dam a silly win via DQ. Ryback then hit RVD with Shell Shock in the ring. It’s a shame because I think this was the best Ryback has looked in a while. This match could have been really good if given the proper time.
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon is telling Big Show that, even though he is supposed to be in Daniel Bryan’s corner he is not to lay a finger on the Shield because it’s best for business. It’s a good thing that the PPV is this Sunday because it’s getting pretty forced. Everything is what’s “best for business” Why did you hit him? It’s best for business. Why did you put swiss cheese on that sandwich? It’s best for business. Why do all of these wrestlers act like the WWE is the only place in the world they can earn money? It’s best for business. It’s been spammed to death. Big Show lets his frustration out by throwing a 20 year old TV on the floor.
Main event time as Dean Ambrose (with the Shield) takes on Daniel Bryan (with Big Show glued to a chair). They start fast exchanging kicks and punches in opposite corners until Dean slides out to regroup. Back in the ring, Daniel starts to control things with running knees and kicks to the back. Bryan starts working the arm while Show cheers him on. After a sloppy mexican surfboard, Bryan hits a jumping clothesline and goes to the top rope for a flying headbutt. Seth Rollins gets on the apron to distract Daniel so that Dean can knock him onto the outside barrier. Ambrose is in control coming back from commercial and Big Show has a “YES” chant going. Bryan dodges Ambrose running at him in the corner leading to a pair of missile dropkicks and a hurricarrana off the top rope for two. Ambrose ducks under a roundhouse kick and tries to apply and Boston Crab but Bryan counters into a YES Lock that is broken up when Dean reaches the ropes. Ambrose tries to prop Bryan up on the top rope but Daniel slides out and puts Dean in the tree of woe, where he tags Ambrose in the face with a missile dropkick. Bryan then lands a german suplex from the top rope for a two count and the crown is chanting “This is awesome.” Ambrose dodges Bryan coming at him, sending Daniel out of the ring. Reigns tries to spear him but Daniel moves away, sending Roman into the steps. Daniel then dodges Rollins jumping off the apron to send him into the announce table. Ambrose then takes out Bryan from behind and delivers a DDT into the arena floor. Ambrose brings him back in the ring where he only gets a two count. A frustrated Ambrose asks why Bryan doesn’t just stay down, and Daniel uses a quick small package to pin Ambrose for the victory. Great match as always from both men.
After the match, Randy Orton runs out to face Bryan, who dives through the ropes at him. Bryan is quickly ambushed by the Shield and once again the Bryan beatdown is on. Eventually the Big Show has enough at takes a chair to go help Daniel but then thinks better of it and turns his back, letting the heels do their thing. The Shield then throw Bryan back in the ring where Orton joins him. Randy points at Big Show before dropping him with an RKO as Big Show walks back up the ramp. Show is then stopped by Triple H and Stephanie, who tell him to be a professional and knock him out, just like he did last week. Show grits his teeth and gets in the ring. Show refuses to do it when Orton gets in his face, telling him that whatever Triple H says, goes. Orton picks up Bryan but Show won’t pull the trigger, so again Randy gets in Big Show’s face. He tells him that as the face of the WWE he has the authority to tell Show what to do, and orders him to knock him out. Show says he’s the boss, and as Orton turns around a now revived Bryan knees him in the face. The show ends with Big Show walking up the ramp as Bryan holds the WWE Championship over Orton. Cool segment that should technically lead to Big Show being fired, and sadly puts the opposite momentum rule for PPV’s in Orton’s favor (who I figured would win anyway).
So we’re now five days from Night of Champions and we only have four matches on the card (five if you include the preshow). I imagine the winner of the tag team turmoil will face Rollins and Reigns on the show, leaving United States Champion Dean Ambrose as the only title holder without a match. Perhaps the rest of the holes will be filled on Smackdown. While there isn’t a single match that I have as a complete must see, I do appreciate having a drastically more diverse card than we’ve had in the last year, with Axel, Orton and RVD in place of Cena, Lesnar and Henry. I’m cautiously optimistic about this one.