In a press conference in New Orleans, the WWE announced what we already knew. WrestleMania 30 will be held at the Superdome in New Orleans. Here is a real-time description of the full press conference:
12:06 – Montage of the WWE selling the press on how successful it is among different formats and demographics. Pretty much everything you see on Raw each week but with more numbers and real celebrities thrown in. The audio didn’t work for the first minute, which was okay because the full video took forever. A guy also walked right in the way of the screen.
12:10 – Out comes Brodus Clay, with dancers and music. Very funny watching him do his full schtick in a room with no kids and hardly any applause. Sadly, he did not rip off his pants. Afterwords he walked away, never to be seen again.
12:12 – John Saboor, the Senior VP of special events introduces the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu who is has “I got a feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas for entrance music. He talks about how they have Mardi Gras, the Super Bowl, the 2013 NBA All-Star game (among other events like the Women’s NCAA Final Four) before officially announcing that the Superdome will host WrestleMania 30 on Sunday April 6th, 2014. Cue the debut of the logo and a short section of “I got a feeling.”
12:15 – Landrieu states that WrestleMania produces $100 million in profits before bringing out Vince McMahon, who comes out to his own music. It’s believable that a man of his stature in this situation has his own music. He talks more about the product and how the city of New Orleans is perfect for ‘Mania.
12:19 – Saboor kisses Vince’s ass before bringing out the owner of the New Orleans Saints, Rita Benson Leblanc (she comes out to Neyo I think) who says that she was dancing with McMahon when the music played. That’s what we’re dealing with here.
12:22 – R-Truth comes out and sings his intro music. I never really got to hear the lyrics until now. That’s because there is no cheering. The song is really stupid. He then walks away, never to be seen again.
12:24 – Saboor calls out the GM of the arena, Allan Freeman. He brings up how the past ‘Mania sites have been football stadiums that all sold out the show. He said the initial proposal he made to WWE was in 2009. It wasn’t until 2011 that they went to Connecticut to make a pitch. McMahon was pretty much sold from there.
12:29 – Saboor goes into the WrestleMania week before introducing Stephanie McMahon. She mentions how Drew Brees tweeting about ‘Mania on Friday brought back 9.5 millions clicks. She then talks about the WWE’s presence in the community during WrestleMania week, finishing off with what’s likely the slogan for the even, “30 years in the making.”
12:33 – President of the New Orleans Convention Bureau Steven Perry out next to try to figure out what the hell he just let into his city. He reiterates how New Orleans puts the same energy and excitement that the WWE brings into everything they do.
12:36 – Saboor calls out the Rock, saying he’ll face Cena at MetLife Stadium, and of course mentions his movies as well. He talks a bout his roots in New Orleans and again brings up GI Joe which apparently had scenes shot there or something, as well as playing in the National Championship Game with Miami. He adds how special WrestleMania is for the city, fans and performers. He starts a sing-a-long to “When the Saints Go Marching In” before taking off.
12:42 – Saboor announces John Cena, the final guest. How does he still get top billing? He mentions how humble Vince McMahon can be and how the Superdome is the perfect place to celebrate WrestleMania’s 30th birthday, specifically for how the building helped the city rally back after Hurricane Katrina. He talks up the special nature of WrestleMania and how they will provide a celebration worthy of the city. He finishes and Rock’s music hits. The two of them have a cheery chat before shaking hands and posing for pictures. Out comes Big Show, Mark Henry, Alberto Del Rio, Layla, Khali (man India must really add revenue) to pose for more photos and the press conference is over.
I was a little surprised that the announcement wasn’t delayed at all coming off the Superbowl blackout. I thought that would at least raise a few eyebrows with the WWE but I guess they got all the answers they needed. Considering they were in New Orleans for last night’s Elimination Chamber (which was never referred to by name) and WrestleMania 29 is right around the corner, there was never going to be a better time to announce it than now. It’s a big party city and it definitely fits an event like this one.
It may be a couple of days late but that doesn’t mean that I’ll skip out on watching another three hours of Raw. It really is turning into a chore. If you take out the recaps and montages the show is probably about 2 hours anyway. Thank goodness for DVR. I’ll try to keep things a little shorter since this is already old news, but it’s new to me dammit!
Anyway Lawler is still pissed at being kicked in the head last week (because no one ever pushes him around) and recaps what happened last week after we just watched a whole big montage showing how and why he got kicked in the head. Now he’s asking for CM Punk to apologize for kicking him. Sure enough, Punk (NOW WITH A BUZZ CUT!) comes out and guess what, he recaps the last couple of weeks as well. So now we’re being told what happened for the third time in a row. Punk has a fun thing where the less hair he has the meaner he is. He doesn’t apologize and instead steps all over Lawler’s career. Punk tries to sucker Lawler into a fight. Very funny that the main plot point of Punk’s heel turn is abusing Jerry Lawler. Do we care that much about him? He’s been talking trash to everyone else but it’s only when Lawler gets involved that he really gets heat. That was the whole open too. There wasn’t even any other interference. No Cena, no Show, no JR. How are we supposed to care if Lawler gets beat if no one in the back does? Why am I wasting so much time on such a simple storyline?
Jack Swagger made his first Raw appearance in a while to job for Ryback, but not before Ryback had three ugly botches by my count (not that Swagger looked much better). At least his pinkeye is healing.
Natalya is apparently still going with the farting gimmick, but lost to Layla anyway. Vickie Guerrero represented the WWE Universe by standing in the corner looking bored during the match. Afterwards she made her case for the Board of Directors to get rid of AJ as GM. AJ then slapped Vickie and got turned on while getting into a cat fight. Again, I’d love to see the resume she submitted when applying for the job.
Daniel Bryan and Kane are in a group therapy session for their “Anger Management” issues. This will carry the rest of the show. During the session, Kane (after removing his second mask) summed up his entire career in a way that only Wikipedia could match. From burying his brother alive (twice) to Katie Vick, this completely stole the show.
Lawler accepts Punk’s challenge and agrees to fight him. Got a feeling this won’t end clean. This also means Michael Cole is now joined by Josh Matthews. Is there anything good about this storyline? AJ again lets the twitter-verse decide the stipulation for the match, with the choices being tables, steel cage and no disqualification (which goes without saying given what the other two choices are).
John Cena has a match against the Miz. Two years ago this was the main event at WrestleMania. Now it is a midcard on a Raw show which is currently headlining CM Punk versus Jerry Lawler. Your WWE folks! Cena has always been fairly bad at calling his spots without being heard or seen doing it, and here he clearly calls a spot on camera while getting covered. I’ll rarely mention stuff like that, but this was really obvious. Regardless, Cena wins a good overall match.
Heath Slater fought Santino. Santino prevailed through the “boring” chants from the crowd. The cobra has a crush on Aksana. Santino doesn’t. Just the cobra. Moving on.
Brodus Clay and Sin Cara team up to face Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes, the only man Sandow can have an intelligent conversation with. Cody is still talking about taking Sin Cara’s mask off. We all remember when Rhodes hid behind a mask right? Just checking. Anyway that doesn’t impact the match for a change, but Rhodes gets smacked up anyway by Clay, and Sin Cara looks creepy trying to dance with children.
Daniel Bryan, fresh off of his therapy, had a match against R-Truth. For the first time in ages, he didn’t shout anything at the top of his lungs while coming down the ramp, instead getting into zen mode. He even gave Lil’ Jimmy a fist bump. R-Truth then gets a YES! chant started outside the ring, driving Bryan crazy to cause a count out. Bryan then loses his mind further and I have no idea where they are going with this.
All night they have been showing different montages for Triple H. From DX to coming back from injury, to winning championships. All with the premise that he would announce his retirement. Well it took him two hours but he finally made it out to the ring. Let me now mention the up to date sign in the crowd that says “WWE Champion should main event PPV’s.” Crowd gives Triple H a little too much love as he goes into a little career recap that is mixed in with his personal oscar audition. Says he didn’t want to be the guy that hung around for the nostalgia pop (too late) and hung on too long. Basically since he isn’t sure he can beat Brock Lesnar he thinks he might be done. He thanks the fans in what was somewhat of a fourth wall moment, saying each wrestler worries about whether the fans will care when they come out. He thanks the fans for letting him play the game (see what he did there?) and hopes they never forget him. He’s either a damn good actor or he cries actual tears as he exits the ring. I’d buy the whole thing if he didn’t sell Brock Lesnar in the middle of it all. It should be noted that he never actually said he was retiring.
Dolph Ziggler comes out to Jericho’s music (one of my favorite bits) to talk trash about forcing Jericho out and to team up with Del Rio against Randy Orton and Sheamus. Del Rio is again the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship and Randy Orton better get his drug using ass in this match or it’s going to get pretty ugly. Del Rio was late to get back in the ring and tag in Ziggler meaning Orton had to lay their like an idiot waiting to tag in Sheamus. I’m really down on him right now. Ricardo tossed Ziggler the briefcase but Orton got in the way and Sheamus hit Dolph with a Brogue Kick to win.
Kane out to do commentary for Zach Ryder’s match against David Otunga (two guys that are kind of getting a push again). Kane doesn’t say a word while Cole gets more time to speak uninterrupted. Fantastic. After Ryder wins a short but decent match, Kane grabs Ryder’s throat (because he still hates him?) but instead chokeslams Otunga instead. Again, can someone tell me what the WWE is trying to do with Kane and Bryan?
Backstage Jerry Lawler tells John Cena not to interfere in his match with CM Punk. All about respect or something. The twitter polls deems that it will be a steel cage match, and before they have the match, AJ announces that Punk will face John Cena at Night of Champions (DUUUUUUUH). Punk said he would give Lawler the first shot and holds up his end of the bargain, and Punk sells it like he got hit with a kendo stick. Things then get back to normal with Punk beating down the King. Unfortunately it is boring as all hell to watch and the crowd is just dead. What they can’t hear is Punk singing “I’m the King of Memphis Tennessee.” It’s like what would have happened if Andy Kaufman knew how to fight. Kinda cool. The action picks up but it can only pick up so much with the talent involved. Things then get better when Punk blades on a throw into the cage and is bleeding from the forehead. On cable TV! It’s like the good old days. After a running knee Punk applies the anaconda vice and gets the submission win (making the steel cage stipulation pointless). Afterwards Punk pulls out a tool box from under the ring (while a man in the crowd yells “I knew it!”) and locks the cage door from the inside (making the stipulation relevent!). He again tells Lawler to say he is the best in the world, but Lawler refuses, so Punk beats him up more. Cena runs out to help but the door is locked and no one raises the cage. Why Cena doesn’t realize he can just climb over the cage is beyond me. The cage finally raises, Punk leaves and Cena tends to an injured Lawler. I still think Punk will win, but the case for Cena winning instead, to lose to the Rock at Royal Rumble and have a Rock versus Punk match at WrestleMania is looking a lot better. Cena doesn’t lose in Boston and Punk is way over the top. The stage is set.
Summerslam is over and of course there are just as many questions as there are answers. Is Triple H done? Does CM Punk have enough respect? Why is Alberto Del Rio still getting title shots? Night of Champions is just four weeks away so the WWE will have a lot to do in not a lot of time, starting with Monday Night Raw.
As promised, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman kick things off. Night of Champions will be interesting for no other reason than there will be so many people on last night’s card that won’t be anywhere near the next one. No Lesnar, no Triple H, no Jericho. Those are three pretty big names to lose all at once, and the only one coming back is Randy Orton.
Heyman does his usual amazing job on the mic, talking up last night’s match and specifically Triple H’s ability to deal with pain, with Lesnar getting him to tap out (which isn’t anything that new if you’ve seen him face the Undertaker). Heyman turned it into Triple H being forced to quit on all of his fans and his family and being left a shell of his former self. Heyman then calls for the referee of last night’s match, whom Triple H told to let the rules go, down to the ring. After about three days the ref finally gets to the ring, and after making it look like Lesnar was going to tear him a new one for listening to Triple H and allowing the rules to be broken even if it meant Brock was hurt, instead Lesnar just told the ref, “good job.” Heyman then declares Lesnar the new King of Kings, and the supreme ruler of the WWE. Lesnar walks off smiling and waving, and that’s the open.
So that’s how Lesnar leaves. With a wave and a wink, going out as the self-proclaimed top dog. Pretty good way to take a break if you’re trying to maintain superstar status. He’ll be gone until Survivor Series or Royal Rumble, and when he comes back he’ll be able to claim he’s the ruler of the WWE (or however he wants to say it) and challenge whoever he wants. It may not be dramatic or exciting, but it does it’s job as holding his place until he eventually comes back. He did TOUT that he has no competition left, and that he is never coming back. Unless he does comeback at one of the earlier events, it makes sense that he ends up facing the Undertaker at WrestleMania, with the undefeated streak being the only thing left for him to take down in the WWE.
Meanwhile coming off his Summerslam win, CM Punk has suggested to AJ (via TOUT of course) that he pick the next challenger for his WWE Championship, and naturally AJ is considering it. Hard to imagine he won’t face Cena at Night of Champions, so we’ll see what happens there. First match of the night is a six man tag putting R-Truth, Kofi Kingston and Sin Cara against Cody Rhodes and the Prime Time Players. Rhodes versus Sin Cara was one of the matches that got left off the Summerslam card, so I imagine it will play heavily here. Either way we’re not exactly starting things with a bang. Even worse than this match is the fact that Khloé Kardashian is the social media ambassador for Raw tonight. Is this really something that’s going to happen every week? I suppose it’s better than having a guest host each week, but just the idea that each week a person that 98% of the fan base hates will be making comments via twitter, and we have to be alerted to them. What a waste of time. By the end of the match Sin Cara and Cody Rhodes ended up being the legal men, and after a really sloppy sequence by all six men, we got the same finish that we had on Smackdown last week. Rhodes couldn’t stop trying to remove Sin Cara’s mask, and Sin Cara took advantage by applying a roll up pin for the victory. Complete waste of time.
After the match, AJ decided that because Kane and Bryan have “anger management” issues, they will both team up with people they feuded with to face each other. So it will be Kane and Zach Ryder (remember him?) against Bryan and the Miz (whose feud was so long ago I forgot about it). Let’s keep the mentions of FX’s Anger Management going as long as possible just in case Charlie Sheen decides to grace us with his presence! Speaking of people I almost forgot about, coffee drinking David Otunga is back (because he said so) with a clean shave and a movie to promote call “The Hive” starring Halle Berry (true!). He tries to get in good with AJ but uses the C-word (not THAT C-word, he said crazy), pissing off AJ who told him he now has a match against an opponent of her choosing. Afterwords she said that she’ll let Punk pick his next opponent (YAY!), pending her approval (AWWW).
Ryback had a match against two “local athletes.” Did you know he stays mentally sharp by reading one to two books a month? Did you know that that really isn’t that impressive? It’s your typical Ryback match until Jinder Mahal interferes and spends about 15 seconds beating him down until Ryback took over again. Rivalries are kind of hard to build when one guy just destroys everyone around him and the other doesn’t win. After Mahal gets thrown out of the ring he finishes off the local scrubs. Moving on.
Looks like Chris Jericho has one more match after Summerslam before he goes on tour with Fozzy again. AJ booked him and Dolph Ziggler in a rematch for tonight, with the stipulation that if Jericho loses his WWE contract is terminated, and if Ziggler loses his Money in the Bank contract goes to Jericho. I guess we just figured out how Jericho will get written out of the picture for a while.
Before we get to any more matches though, Alberto Del Rio has to remind us that he got robbed by the ref at Summerslam. He demands that he get another rematch against Sheamus on Raw. AJ comes out, but since she can’t make a Smackdown title match, she puts him against Randy Orton instead. They can’t have Sheamus/Del Rio at a third straight PPV. They can however have Orton and maybe Daniel Bryan join them in a fatal four way match. All I know for sure is that Del Rio is just not getting over with the crowd anymore. Sheamus ringside for the match, and the idea is brought up that they are both possible contenders for the title. In case you were wondering the match is a decent one. Everything is deliberate but it’s back and forth. After hitting the 2nd rope DDT, Orton gets ready for the RKO but Ricardo Rodriguez tries to interfere. Sheamus then takes Ricardo out of the equation but Orton tells Sheamus he doesn’t need his help (there’s your first sign of an Orton title shot). Del Rio takes advantage of a distracted Orton and attempts a pin. Orton puts his foot on the ropes but the ref doesn’t see it until Sheamus points it out. Del Rio then starts yelling at Sheamus, giving Orton the opening to hit an RKO for the win. At the very least we’ll have a triple threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Another match that didn’t make the cut at Summerslam was Brodus Clay versus Damien Sandow. They get pushed to Raw now instead. Sandow has been drawing a lot of heat as a heel lately, while Clay is hanging on to his unstoppable act by a thread. So this could say a lot about where they want to go with each. Sandow works the knee that he had been injuring the last couple weeks, but Clay is acting a lot more like the angry man that we saw all the sizzle reels for. It doesn’t last long though because after a missed dive into the corner, Sandow grabs Clay’s tights to get the roll up pin. A bitter Brodus knocks out Sandow after the bell anyway (showing great sportsmanship) and then dances with the kids to his music as if he won. Funny, Tensai does the same thing when he loses aside from the dancing, yet he’s a heel. I guess dancing makes you an automatic face? Hmm, Cena, Truth, Clay, Kofi. I think I’m on to something here.
The Triple H storyline continues with Shawn Michaels via satellite. He says he knows what Triple H is going through and talks about how you know when you’re done right away because it happens in front of everyone. He thinks it could be the end for Triple H. Also thinks his showing up the last few weeks proved to be more of a distraction, and he secretly didn’t think he could beat Brock Lesnar. I suddenly get the feeling Triple H is going to end his career against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania. Probably one of the only guys left that could handle ending his career. Michaels thanks Triple H for a job well done and basically sends him off like he’s retired. Whenever Triple H does come back though, I expect it all to be about Michaels lying to him about thinking he can beat Brock and not being there for him. It’s pretty strange how much time I’ve spent trying to predict WrestleMania before the summer even ends.
Otunga back in the ring for the first time since Johnny Ace got fired, and AJ picked the Big Show to be his opponent, who I guess is a face for this one. Big Show takes him out faster than you can say squash match.
On to the anger management tag match. How long does Kane have to keep wearing the wig? The whole embrace the hate thing fell flat and he’s basically a face now. What’s the point? Kane and Bryan start things but Bryan immediately tags in Miz and the crowd chants for Ryder and Kane complies by tagging him in with a slap to the side. Somehow Ryder is the palest person in the ring. You’d think he’d spend more time at the beach. Regardless he’s pretty much there to make everyone else look good here. Does a pretty good job of it too, specifically taking kicks from Bryan. Eventually Ryder ducks out of the way of Bryan diving into the corner, hitting his partner Miz instead. Ryder tags in Kane but when Bryan goes to tag Miz, Miz drops down from the apron. So Bryan slaps Kane just like he did last night, and runs out of the arena again before Kane can do anything about it. In a fit of rage, Kane choke slams Ryder (woo woo woo!) and tears apart the ring area (including the time keeper) before giving Ryder a tombstone and leaving. Boy, he sure does have “anger management” issues huh? AJ tweeted that Bryan is going to start going to anger management classes next week. Sheen can you just figure out what you want to do already?
CM Punk announces that he has chosen John Cena to be his next opponent for the WWE Championship. However Cena has to meet Punk in the ring and accept the one condition Punk requests. I’m a little surprised Punk chose Cena right off the bat but again, it’s no surprise that they will be meeting at Night of Champions in Cena’s home state of Massachusetts. There was also a Diva’s battle royal, with the highlight being Michael Cole calling Lawler out for using the same comments about Divas matches that he did 20 years ago when Vince McMahon and Jim Ross calling the matches with him.
Main event time with Ziggler versus Jericho. Ziggler called it the biggest match of his career (convenient) before the break. Considering how obvious the result will be I’m curious how they handle it. I’m just happy to see Ziggler main event a show. Ziggler isn’t going with the usual show off moves, instead being more intense in the ring. Jericho tosses Ziggler over the top rope but Dolph no sells for a change and lands on his feet. Jericho answers with a spring board dropkick and we’re back in familiar territory. Since I know you are all curious, I’ll let you know that Khloe Kardashian is pulling for Jericho on twitter. While last night had them both hitting all their moves, this one is filled with reversals and counters early on. After avoiding the Walls of Jericho and getting his knees up on a lionsault, Ziggler hits the zigzag and gets a completely clean victory over Jericho. Great match despite the short time, and a huge push for Ziggler, who can now cash in his MITB contract as soon as Night of Champions. It should be noted that he has no clear opponent yet for the PPV.
Following the trend of the night, Jericho plays the role of sore loser, hitting Ziggler with the briefcase and knocking him out with a codebreaker before exiting to a standing ovation. Whenever Jericho returns he might have a feud with Ziggler (perhaps as World Heavyweight Champion?) waiting for him.
Punk (in his Brett Hart tights again) out to close the show and call out Cena. Before any of that though Punk went to Jerry Lawler to seek an apology for saying Punk turned his back on the fans. Before things could get ugly Cena makes his appearance. Punk of course calls him out for stealing his spotlight. Punk is sick of taking a backseat to Cena, Triple H and the Rock despite holding the WWE Championship. He is never the main event (true) and says that he lets Cena be the main event out of respect. Punk says he chose Cena because he has to beat him again to earn respect, but it won’t count because the fans still follow Cena. That leads into Punk’s condition that Cena call him the best in the world in order to get the title shot. Cena turns all preacher and says he has all the fans because he has the respect Punk wants so badly. He says he won’t say Punk is the best because Cena still thinks he’s the best, and throws a little Rock promo in the middle of it. Cena puts the choice back in Punk’s hands, saying if he beat Cena in his home town it will be the ultimate moment for him (not really).
Cena leaves the ring and Punk immediately goes back at Jerry Lawler, getting him in the ring to get him to say he is the best in the world. Lawler refuses because he doesn’t think it’s true (doesn’t say who he thinks the best is by the way) and Punk kicks him in the head. This certainly looks like it’s a full on heel turn, but I’ve thought that before. Punk could come out next week and apologize for doing that and whatever, but I think this time it’s going to stick. Of course Cena will face Punk at Night of Champions, and my gut tells me Big Show (who also doesn’t have a clear opponent yet) will interfere to keep the title in Punk’s hands and lead to a one on one match between Cena and Big Show. For now I just hope that now that the seeds have been planted we see a lot more wrestling next week and a lot less montages and interviews. I’ll be away on Monday but I’ll sum things up when I get back. Please try to get by without me.
Summerslam is finally here and we’ve got a pretty loaded card. So loaded that it is completely without Randy Orton. So let’s see if the 25th anniversary of Summerslam is worth our time and money.
We lead off strong with my boy Dolph Ziggler against Chris Jericho. Ziggler has had the upper hand after both Raw and Smackdown, so you have to think Jericho is due for a win. Jericho is rocking a bandage around his stomach after the attack last week so you know that’ll come into play. Quick pace with strong moves on both sides to start the match. They are pros who have worked together a lot lately so it’s almost a lock to get a good performance out of them. Ziggler is his usual self. Getting thrown over the top rope is turning into one of his signature moves. He’s gotten really good at it. Highlight of the match so far is a hurricanrana off the top rope by Jericho. It took a little while but the crowd really got up for this match, with the arena split for both guys. Ziggler blocks a lionsault and turned it into a zigzag, but only got a two count. Jericho then landed a codebreaker but Ziggler got out of the ring to safety. Another quick sequence gives Jericho the opening to apply the walls of Jericho and get Ziggler to tap out. Jericho finally (and predictably) wins the big one in as good of an opening match as you could hope for.
Daniel Bryan up next to go against Kane, with Charlie Sheen nowhere in sight. Bryan runs all around Kane early on but Kane counters with a big move every once in a while to even it out. Bryan is basically acting like a man possessed. It’s just kind of odd that this whole match is set up because Kane is his anger management supervisor. Out of nowhere Bryan slaps Kane in the face, causing Kane to go medieval on Bryan, almost getting disqualified. The ref jumps in, and Bryan comes back to knock out Kane with a kick to the head. Bryan went for a headbutt of the top rope, but Kane caught him with his hand and hit him with a chokeslam. Kane decided to go one step further and finish him with a tombstone, but Bryan slipped out of it and secured a small package for the surprise win. Great ending to a solid match. Kane lost his mind after losing and went backstage to find Bryan, who apparently left the arena already. (more of that on Raw I’m sure)
Time for the Miz to defend his Intercontinental Championship against Rey Mysterio (as Batman). Miz goes into his usual move set but the Miz throws in some nice counters, specifically catching him going for another hurricanrana and turning it into a power bomb. Miz falls into the 619, but moves away from the top rope splash. Rey then flipped out of a skull crushing finale into a sunset flip, but Miz kicked out on two a pulled off the move for the win. So far we’re three matches in with no duds. Meanwhile Miz is really getting pushed hard here.
Speaking of duds, Sheamus versus Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship next. They cancelled the match two weeks ago, only for Booker t to reinstate it a week later. This was the best that they could do to get us interested in it, and it didn’t really work. It’s a shame because I like both of these guys in the ring, but they just can’t work the mic well enough to sell a feud together. It doesn’t help that we’ve seen it already a month ago. It would be for the best if they picked feuds with more charismatic opponents. The crowd just isn’t feeling it. They have some decent stuff going on, but just nothing overly impressive and more importantly nothing all that new. Del Rio tries to add flavor by attempting to go for a brogue kick, but Sheamus turned it away. Del Rio then locked his arm breaker in, but Sheamus lifted him up, and then turned it into a power slam. That sure got the crowd going. Del Rio lands a kick to the head but only got a two count. That sent del rio off the deep end and dragged Roberto Rodriguez in out of frustration. While the ref tried to get Rodriguez out he threw a shoe to Del Rio, only Sheamus caught it instead and used the shoe on Del Rio. Sheamus then hit an Irish Curse and went for pin. Del Rio had his foot on the rope but the ref didn’t see it and Sheamus was awarded the win. So the referee misses the show being used as a weapon and Del Rio getting his foot on the rope way before the three count. Del Rio is obviously pissed and I have a bad feeling that he’ll use this as ammunition to get another rematch. Where is Booker T in all this? Not a bad match, but definitely the worst of the night so far.
Uh oh, tag title match looking to take the worst match of the night crown. At least Kofi and truth have matching outfits on. The crowd is just dead for it. The only person they care about at all is Kofi and with good reason. He’s by far the most talented person in the ring right now. This match could have really used AW but of course he’s gone now. The Prime Time Players just don’t have much to offer. Kofi tags Truth in and it just kills the crowd more. Match had everything you expect. Kofi does some springboard moves, giving Truth the chance to get the win in the ring. It did save the crowd enough for the WWE Championship match that follows it.
It’s interesting that this match isn’t closing the show, specifically with John Cena in it. They are really banking on Triple H/Lesner. Punk comes out wearing Bret Hart colors (heels wear pink, right?). Before the match I predicted that Punk would retain by pinning Show, but Cena would do most of the work. Let’s see if I’m right. Big Show starts off in classic Big Show fashion, dominating everyone in the ring. All three men eventually get there big spots in, but fall just short of winning the match. Cena gets taken out of the match first, leaving Punk alone against Show. Cena then came in and got more of the same. Again, the whole story of the match is that Big Show is unstoppable. Interesting considering he hasn’t won anything since his heel turn. We get into a cycle of Cena taking out Show, Punk getting Cena before he can go for a pin, then Chow taking out Punk. It’s like rock paper scissors. Punk turns the tide a little with three straight knees to the face. Cena then hits the leg drop off the top rope, with punk applying a submission hold to Show’s head. At the same time, Cena applies an STF and Show taps out. Well played WWE. AJ comes out and decides to restart the match, and Show immediately choke slams both men, but can’t get a three count on either. Cena then hits an AA, but Punk throws Cena out of the ring and covers show to take the match (nailed it). It should be noted how ridiculous it is that Cena can toss Big Show around on a week to week basis like he does. The only problem is that it happens so often that it doesn’t have any impact anymore. Either way we get a nice twist to a pretty damn good match. Punk’s collision course with the Rock is still on, but for now we get more of Cena and Punk playing off each other for alpha dog, while Big Show can say that the champ can’t beat him on his own.
In case you were wondering, Fred durst, Rick Rubin, David Arquette and Maria Menounos (in a Bob Backlund shirt) are all on hand. With whatever the hell this band is called’s concert is going on, this seems like a great time to mention that Antonio Cesaro finally ended Santino’s United States Championship run. He did it with his woman Aksana distracting Santino before he goes for the cobra. Santino was a complete joke as champion and it’s time to give someone new a push and Cesario seems like a good person to do it. He’s talented in the ring and on the mic, and it also makes him the only real heel with a strap. Punk doesn’t count.
Brock Lesnar finally comes out with Paul Heyman to take on Triple H, without Shawn Michaels. Already a much different match than Cena/Lesnar. Very back and forth. Lesnar keeps going for the Kimora lock but Triple H keeps breaking out of it. Eventually Triple H throws Lesnar out of the ring and yells “This is the WWE not UFC.” (nice!) Lesnar then takes his gloves off and immediately takes down Triple H. It’s on now. Full on slobber knocker. Earlier in the show, Triple H told the ref not to stop them from fighting at any point, making it a no DQ match. So now Lesnar is working Triple H’s previously broken arm. Lesnar goes for a small package out of nowhere for the only real wrestling move I’ve seen him make since he came back. The pace is slow. There are good spots, but too much dead time between them. Crowd is trying to get into it. Triple H drives Lesnar into the announce table, then gives him a hard shot to the gut, injuring his stomach. I know this because he yelled out, “Oh my stomach!” Triple H hits a spine buster and has all the momentum. Lesnar reverses a pedigree, then has his F5 reversed and Triple H finally hits the pedigree for a two count. Lesnar then hits Triple H with a low blow in front of the ref, but since Triple H wanted a no DQ match it continues. Lesnar hits an F5 for a two count and we’re back even. Lesnar then applies the Kimora lock but Triple H fights his way out of it and lands another pedigree, however when Triple H goes for the pin Lesnar locks the Kimora again and Triple H taps for the win. A good yet unspectacular ending to another solid pay per view. I feel like it would have been better if they switched the last two matches. The show ends with the crowd chanting “you tapped out” to Triple H while he apologizes to the fans. Very strange. It looked like it was his last match. He waves goodbye to the crowd and Michael Cole tells we could have seen the last of Triple H. Really awkward way to end things.
I suppose both Triple H and Brock Lesnar will be taking off for a while. Lesnar only has so many appearances left and really needed a win to have any credibility the next time he pops up. Meanwhile Triple H might not be back until WrestleMania. Surprisingly the whole match was clean despite all the Shawn Michaels and Paul Heyman nonsense and having a no DQ match. I expect Triple H to announce his retirement on Raw, with Shawn Michaels getting him to come back for one last match at WrestleMania. Maybe even a rematch against Lesnar. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
By the way, anyone care that the Divas only showed up as background dancers during the concert? Me either.
With Summerslam just six days away, Raw is here to give us three hours of promos for Sunday’s big PPV. However there is probably more attention being paid to the aftermath of last week’s Smackdown, where after Alberto Del Rio tried to have Sheamus arrested or something before their title match (which was supposed to be at Summerslam anyway), new GM Booker T decided to cancel the match from the card at Summerslam. The amount of on-air activity with the storyline, including how it was announced by Booker instead of through a press release, suggests that this is all a work and more will be revealed throughout the week. However that doesn’t stop the internet from speculating that Sheamus violated some policy or something and has been pulled from the event. These also seems like a good place to mention that Randy Orton is not scheduled to appear at Summerslam. Yet.
For maybe the first time since I started doing this we lead off Raw with an actual match! CM Punk, who has become the constant opening act lately, goes one on one against the Big Show in a non title match. You can bet we’ll see Cena within five minutes of the opening bell. Punk makes Show look as good as he can (including a nice bug-eyed expression on a chokehold). Essentially it’s the same as the Punk/Henry matches from a few months ago. The interesting this match is that it is heel versus heel. At least that’s what it is supposed to be. You wouldn’t know it by the crowd, although if you go by the announcers Big Show is a face. Show escapes a running bulldog to land a spear on Punk, which is a perfect time for our run-in. However it looks like I was wrong about the identity of our intervener. Instead of Cena coming out, Daniel Bryan makes his way down the ramp to make his case for a WWE title shot. He of course does this by screaming at everyone like a lunatic.
Bryan eventually jumps into the ring and attacks Punk, putting him in the LeBellYES NO lock. Do heels usually get jumped by other heels? Anyway after watching for a bit Big Show decides to step in a go after Bryan (to save Punk?). So now we have three heels, one of whom has no part in the WWE Championship match, all attacking each other. With a face desperately needed John Cena does indeed come out to attack the Big Show (why? I have no idea). Cena knocks Show out of the ring, then Bryan, leaving Punk and Cena in the ring alone. Punk is pissed, wondering why Cena was in the ring at all (as am I) and stealing his spotlight. Before things go any further, power suit AJ makes a tag match for the main event, putting Big Show and Bryan together against Punk and John Cena (who AJ is contractually obligated to mention last with emphasis over everyone else, legitimizing Punk’s issues further).
Some people I’ve never seen before in my life are bitching about not being on Raw despite it being three hours now. AJ comes by and after thinking that he is calling her crazy, she tells him to go to the ring now. Turns out it’s Brooklyn bred JTG, and he’s going to be the guy that loses to Ryback this week. How do you make Ryback’s entrance better? Add his catch phrases to the music! JTG just told the ref he doesn’t want to get pinkeye from Ryback, which is pretty damn cool given recent events. Michael Cole is trying to push a Ryback/Jinder Mahal feud which is hard to sell when one guy hasn’t lost and one guy barely wins. It’s everything you expect from a Ryback match, with the addition of the entire crowd chanting “FEED ME MORE” when he gets into his arm swinging thing. How much of that is artificially added from the arena speakers is anyones guess. Even if the crowds are getting into it, squash matches will just never do it for me in 2012. That’s Saturday morning 80’s stuff.
Forget all that Goldberg Ryback stuff though, because Rowdy Roddy Piper is in the house! He is going to have a Piper’s Pit segment tonight and the WWE Universe gets to select the guess. The options are Jericho, Ziggler and Miz (sorry, no option for “all.” Piper’s no AJ). Meanwhile it was announced that Santino is going to put his United States Championship on the line for presumably the first time since he won it, against Antonio Cesaro as the YouTube match at Summerslam. Backstage we get a shot of Piper talking about his segment, to none other than Shawn Michaels, who is in the house for the third week in a row. He’s pissed because presumably Triple H is stuck at an airport or something. This is leading up to Michaels getting stuck confronting Brock Lesnar tonight.
Heath Slater is still finding people to wrestle, and for the first time in months he is going against someone who isn’t just returning from retirement or suspension in R-Truth. Truth hits some moves and beats Slater no problem, but after the match the Prime Time Players (without the fired AW) to attack Truth. Kofi Kingston is not here this week because he is on tour in the “far east” which is so far that he won’t be back until tomorrow for Smackdown. So the Prime Time Players get to beat up Truth and look formidable for Summerslam, but I fear that after they lose to Kofi/Truth on Sunday we won’t hear from them again unless they get a suitable manager. Teddy Long anyone?
What are the odds that after I mention Mark Henry for the first time in ages, Mark Henry gets shown on Raw for being in London for the olympics. Don’t worry, he TOUT’d it. He’ll probably come back as a heel, but he looks like the jolliest fat guy you’ve ever see. This was followed by a promo for DJ Pauly D, who is tonight’s social media ambassador and was immediately booed the moment his picture was shown on screen. I don’t know who he, or any Jersey Shore personality, is supposed to attract to anyone’s product at this point. It what has been the longest amount of time we’ve gone without a match tonight, we now get a recap of all the Sheamus/Del Rio nonsense that no one cares about. Another rumor to why the match was taken off the card is that the fans are so sick of these two fighting each other that they decided to cancel it. The only issue with this is that it looks pretty bad to not have the World Heavyweight Championship defended at a PPV. This could also just be a plot to get interest back into a match no one wanted. Del Rio TOUT’d that he’ll have a talk with Booker T about getting his title shot taken from him, and I’m now reporting what people TOUT. Shoot me now.
Sin Cara versus Tensai next. Last week on Smackdown Cody Rhodes tried to take Sin Cara’s mask off for the entire match, costing him in the end. That sounds a lot more interesting than anything Tensai can offer. We’ve got a match here between two guys that don’t speak. Sin Cara hits a spinning DDT thing and beats Tensai in about a minute. Remember when he was an unstoppable force? Well now he’s a jobber who can only beat his own his worshipper Sakamoto.
Time for Piper’s Pit, and Piper sounds like a blabbering idiot but he’s better at that than most of the current roster is at sounding smart. Jericho wins the fan vote and off we go. If I remember right the last time these two were in the ring together Jericho slapped Piper in the face for being a has been. It’s face Jericho now so I think we’ll be good. Piper brings up Mickey Rourke beating up Jericho, who in response beings up how he beat Piper at WrestleMania. Piper takes over an goes into full promotion mode, saying how it’s Jericho’s turn to win the big one, until he gets cut off by Vicki Guerrero and Ziggler, proving again that it doesn’t really matter what the fans vote for. He calls Piper old because that’s what heels do (just ask Jericho). Ziggler says Jericho will be washed up like Piper, Jericho says Ziggler has a bowl of spaghetti on his head, and proceeds to go through all of his catchphrases in saying that he’s going to win. Piper rambles in the middle of all of this while Miz comes out as well to say he’s good at wrestling too and wants to take the show over from Piper. I have no idea where he fits in this whole thing but whatever. Jericho eventually has enough and throws them both out of the ring. Despite how poorly it was just pushed I’m really looking forward to this match, and feel like Ziggler will cheat his way to victory. He’s had the upper hand way to often for it to work out his way at Summerslam.
Back from commercial we get a triple threat match between Ziggler, Jericho and Miz. For a minute I was worried I wouldn’t get to see my boy in action. Dolph and Miz team up on Jericho turning it into a glorified handicap match. It was also just announced that Miz will defend his Intercontinental Championship at Summerslam against Rey Mysterio. Solid mid card match. It should be noted that both of these announcement were made via AJ’s twitter, instead of verbally on the show we’re watching. The team up works well until Ziggler goes for the first cover. Miz breaks it up and the partnership is out the window. Jericho uses the opportunity to gain some momentum of his own. It eventually turns into an extended period of Miz versus Jericho while Ziggler recovers outside. Every time Ziggler tries to get in the ring someone knocks him out. First Miz with a shoulder, then Jericho with a springboard dropkick. We all just love watching sell so it’s all good. Jericho hits a lionsault on Miz, but Ziggler breaks up the pin. Highlight of the night now as Jericho attempts to pull off a superplex from the top rope on Miz, while Ziggler simultaneously hits Jericho with a power bomb. This match has been great to watch. We finally get Jericho and Dolph one on one and get a nice (albeit brief) sequence before Miz gets back into it. Skull crushing finale on Ziggler, followed by Miz escaping the Walls of Jericho, with Jericho then hitting a codebreaker on Ziggler, who is saved by Vicki putting Dolph’s foot on the rope. Jericho then reverses a skull crushing finale into the Walls of Jericho, but Vicki distracts the ref from seeing Miz tap, giving Dolph the opportunity to hit a Zig Zag on Jericho for the win. So much for Jericho having too much positive momentum. Jericho is definitely winning at Summerslam. Fantastic match.
Backstage Shawn Michaels is still crapping his pants while Punk tells Cena that he’s not the bad guy and totally exposes the cliché that heels hate getting put into matches. He says he knows a face is supposed to say “Triple threat? Sign me up! I’ll fight anybody at anytime,” but he has a problem with the match, wants to keep his title and is being vocal about it. He says he won’t stab Cena, or anybody else in the back, and that he isn’t “that guy.” Really smart and well done little promo that goes into one of wrestling’s strangest flaws, and one that I fear will get completely overlooked.
A Diva’s match happened. Before it started Jerry Lawler asked “who wouldn’t be exited that it’s a Diva’s match?” I wonder if he had ever seen a Diva’s match before. Best part about it was the crowd chanting for Sable. Moving on.
Main event time at the start of hour two, meaning the Triple H/Lesnar contract signing will close the show. Big Show is mean, Bryan is crazy, and Punk does the one hand clap for Cena’s entrance and away we go. Cena starts the match but Punk slaps Cena’s back to tag himself in and lifts the bottom rope to let Cena out of the ring (awesome). Before long Cena returns the favor and tags himself in. Bryan meanwhile refuses to tag Big Show in, of course yelling “NO!” at him. Big Show finally gets in and you know the drill. After Show dominates Cena for a while Bryan tags himself in now, and immediately gives Cena the chance to get to his corner, and Punk tags himself in again (see the trend?). A cover on Bryan gets broken up by Big Show, causing Punk to go toward his corner to tag in Cena who, to Punk’s surprise, isn’t in his corner and instead recovering on the floor. This gives Bryan and Show the chance to attack Punk. Big Show is ready to knock out Punk in the middle of the ring, but again Bryan tags himself in, pissing off Show and giving Punk an opening. With Show now watching idle, Punk sees Cena, now back in his corner, but refuses to tag him in. Instead he goes into Cena’s signature routine, and is about to do the five knuckle shuffle until Cena tags himself in and does the high knee with the running bulldog. Pretty great spot. Punk has enough and hits the floor himself, telling Cena to go ahead and be the man. Bryan looks to take advantage of a distracted Cena but instead get an AA for his trouble and Cena wins. Big Show comes in to likely attack Cena but Punk intercepts and hits Show with the belt, leaving Cena and Punk face to face. Punk extends his hand to Cena, who doesn’t shake it as an offended Punk leaves the ring saying “Maybe you’re that guy.” Very well done.
I have to think the next few months can go one of two ways. Cena wins at Summerslam, loses to Rock at Royal Rumble, leading to Rock/Punk at WrestleMania. The other way, which in my mind is most likely, is that Punk wins at Summerslam, loses to the Rock at Rumble, leading to Cena beating Rock for the Championship at WrestleMania. Backstage Punk says Cena not shaking his hand is the ultimate form of disrespect (uh oh) and that he’ll teach everyone a lesson on Sunday. This really is one of the better heel turns I’ve seen in a while.
To cool off the crowd before Lesnar/Triple H, here comes Damien Sandow to go against Christian. Doesn’t take long before Brodus Clay comes out (in walking boot) to get revenge on Sandow for smacking him around the last couple of weeks. Clay stops halfway down the ramp, distracting Sandow so Christian can attempt a roll up pin. Sandow kicks out however and finishes off Christian while Clay watches. Sandow is definitely getting over and has a full on Footloose feud going with Clay. Backstage, Michaels runs into Lesnar, pees his pants and runs away, while Lesnar watches him leave with the look of a prison inmate who hasn’t had a woman in way too long. Triple H still not in the house.
Brock finally in the ring with my boy Paul Heyman, who gets one more shot to talk everyone into spending their money this weekend. He’s so good and I’ll be very sad when we don’t see him again for a while after this. He could talk himself into the presidency if he wanted it bad enough. After Heyman does his thing, he allows Michaels to come to the ring and tell Lesnar he thinks Triple H will win again. He says he doesn’t expect Michaels to come out of course, since he is so afraid of Lesnar. After Heyman does some Texas trash talking, saying Texans all have yellow streaks down their back, Michaels (playing the role of Marty McFly being called chicken) comes out after all. I love that Heyman never freaks out when he hears the music of the guy he’s antagonizing. Just another great thing he does. After a brief stare down Triple H finally shows up, takes half of his clothes off like a stripper and enters the ring. They both sign the contract and Brock leaves the ring. What!? After all that buildup there is no clash? No table getting tossed? What a waste.
Overall a very strong and more importantly, a very wrestling heavy Raw. The yapping was dialed way back and the wrestling matches were dialed up. This should be a blueprint for three-hour Raw’s going forward. Well done WWE, I’m now ready to watch Summerslam.
In a move that surprised no one, AW, real name Abraham Washington and the manager of the Prime Time Players, has been released by the WWE. He drew a large amount of negative press two weeks ago on Raw when, while mic’d up to the arena during a match, he made the following inappropriate (by current WWE standards) rape joke involving Kobe Bryant; “Titus O’Neil is like Kobe Bryant at a hotel room in Colorado … he’s unstoppable.” Ouch. Here is the statement from WWE.com:
“WWE has come to terms on the release of WWE Superstar A.W. as of today, August 10, 2012. WWE wishes A.W. the best in all his future endeavors.”
Holy crap they actually said future endeavors! John Laurinaitis must have written this release himself!
While it was expected that AW would have to look for a new job, it is surprising that he got to go on TV the last week like nothing ever happened. A week later on the same show there he was, ringside like normal. Mic’d up like normal. Telling jokes (appropriate of course) like it was just another show. Considering how careful the WWE is about its image, with an anti bully campaign to boot, I can’t imagine how they thought this would just go away with AW simply apologizing via twitter.
On a side note I’d like to know what this means for the prime time players, who were just starting to get a push. Their whole gimmick revolved around AW pulling the strings (and themselves from contests) so now they are just another tag team.
I suppose we’ll find out Monday, but until then lets send off AW properly with two words (said over and over again):
Before starting the Raw recap, I must first make mention of Booker T being named the new GM of Smackdown. A lot of people don’t like the move because they can’t stand Booker behind the microphone but think about this: now that Booker T is the GM he can’t be a commentator. That means less Booker screen time total. An overall win for the WWE Universe. Granted it means Michael Cole and Josh Matthews yammering on together, but you have to start somewhere. Now let’s move on to Raw, in which the description on my DVR reads “General Manager AJ runs televisions longest-running weekly episodic show.” Sucks you right in doesn’t it?
AJ of course leads things off skipping into the ring. Not very professional. Way too much emphasis is being put on GM’s in wrestling. It’s an easy plot device but it doesn’t have to be worked into every story line. She announces that tonight Randy Orton will face the Big Show (meh), and Daniel Bryan will take on John Cena (interesting). Before getting to a third match she’s cut off by CM Punk sans chin hair. Don’t worry, the rest of his beard is there.
Punk is out to apologize to AJ for yelling at her at the end of last night’s show when she announced he’ll face Cena and Show at Summerslam, with the intent of getting her to back out of the match (something we can all agree on). Of course AJ doesn’t cancel the match and Punk calls out AJ for having it out for him because he wouldn’t marry her. It’s pretty impressive how quick Punk was able to get heat from the fans. It’s like he was never a face for the last year. Funny considering it took Jericho months to do it (just in time to turn face). AJ can’t stop moving her back the whole time and while I get that she’s trying to be cute and sexy, it kinda looks like she has a back problem. Punk wants a new opponent instead of either Show or Cena, and that of course brings Cena out to go into his normal routine of telling his opponent how they should act in the WWE, naturally leading to boos from the crowd and clouding the line between who the face is here. He also told AJ she smells great, which I’m sure will be trending in minutes.
Punk and Cena get into a shouting match about who will beat who at Summerslam (points to Punk for referring to Grays Sports Almanac in bringing up last year’s Summerslam). Eventually Big Show comes out too, but happily before he can get the mic, AJ stops everything and makes her third announcement. CM Punk will be in the first match of the night against an opponent the fans will pick. It will either be the Miz, Kane or Rey Mysterio. This is already better than last week’s fan poll for a match stipulation because all the options aren’t the same.
Turns out Mysterio wins the vote and we get him versus Punk. It’s interesting to me that Miz was involved in the match at all since he is a title holding heel. I’d love to see how that would have worked. Punk sells a couple of kicks to the leg and sells it for most of the match. Consider the field leveled. During the break Mysterio went for a 619 that Punk cut off with a clothesline. Would have been nice to see that live. I bet it was exciting live. Punk and Mysterio get a couple of nice sequences going. Mysterio reversing a sunset flip into a kick to the head, then turning a GTS attempt into a 619 before Punk put his knees up as Rey went for the finishing blow off the top rope. That gave Punk the opening to hit the GTS for real and win the match. Good opening match that gave you just enough reason to think Punk could lose when you knew there was no way in hell Punk was going to lose.
Backstage Ricardo Rodriguez is sucking up to Alberto Del Rio in spanish while Del Rio yells at him in english. He knows he is supposed to be Mexican right? Back from commercial we get a Wade Barrett commercial. Apparently he went soft while he was away, and toughened up again by going back into the bare knuckle boxing circuit in Britain (think Brad Pitt in Snatch). Whatever. He’s a good worker and he’ll be welcomed back. Del Rio is out to kiss AJ’s ass and avoid getting into a match before his title shot at Summerslam. He ruins it all of course when he says he knew she wouldn’t do something “crazy,” which is the secret word I guess because now he is going to be booked for a match. During the segment they showed the crowd watching the segment on the big screen. Just standing there. I never wanted to be at a televised WWE event less.
Del Rio’s match is against Christian, and Alberto is still taking off his suit and buckling his boots on the way to the ring. They are still showing the incident last month where Del Rio smashed Sheamus’ arm with the hood of his car from a month ago. Anything to make him look badass against a guy that just beat him a few weeks ago at MITB. As always we’re told how angry and aggressive Del Rio is tonight. I suppose they have to keep telling us because he can’t let us know with his actions. After a handful of good moves on both sides, Christian goes to the top rope with Del Rio down, but Ricardo interferes with Christian and the ref, giving Del Rio enough time to hit Christian with his boot. Yup, his shoe. That should have the same impact that every standard kick to the head has but in this case it’s enough to get the pin. Before going to break Sheamus gets on screen and says he’s going to take Del Rio’s car (since Ricardo left the keys in it) and tour San Antonio. If nothing else, it reminds me of the old days when any car or truck or plane shown on Raw was immediately stolen or destroyed. I imagine the same will happen here.
Orton versus Big Show next. The one interesting thing here is that neither man would normally be allowed to lose clean outside a PPV. Turns into more of what we always see from Show now. Throwing his opponent around while telling us how easy it is for him to do so. Just kills the crowd. Orton finally gets some offense and takes him out with a dropkick. The RKO attempt turns into a chokeslam and a near fall. The next few minutes alternate between Orton building offense in the ring to Show throwing him out of the ring. Orton pushes Show into the steel post (which I guess is the go-to daze Big Show move) but show reverses another RKO and hits a spear outside the ring, with the match ending in a count out (there’s your non-finish). Big Show decides to finish off Orton anyway and bring him in the ring for a WMD, but Orton ducks under it and hits an RKO to knock out Show. Didn’t think I’d see Show get laid out like that two weeks before Summerslam, but perhaps Orton will join the title match. He’ll have to be used somehow.
Ryback out for a squash match against Reks and Hawkins. I normally wouldn’t have much to say here but Ryback has a bit of a shiner on left eye. Rumor has it that he got into an argument with Brock Lesnar while Lesnar was rehearsing an angle for his Summerslam match, and the two got into a shoving match that ended in Lesnar punching Ryback three times in the face. WWE says it’s all false, but Ryback’s face sure does look messed up. We also got to hear Ryback speak more while explaining where is catch phrases come from. I wish he’d just not talk ever. He takes an extra bump but still wins pretty easily. Okay way too much Ryback talk. Let’s move on.
As it occurs to me that we’re only halfway through Raw (good god this is a long show), we come back from break to see none other than AW of All World Promotions in the ring to introduce the Prime Time Players. This is a little surprising after he made his little Kobe Bryant rape joke last week. So Jericho breaks a Brazilian flag law he didn’t know existed until after he did it during a house show and gets suspended, but AW tells a rape joke on national TV and we see him the next week? Your WWE everyone! And he’s mic’d up!
Anyway they are up against Epico and Primo, who noticeably are without Rosa. It’s noticeable because that’s the only thing that really stands out with that team. It turns out that Sunday night Rosa was found in a bathroom stall at the San Antonio airport crying and told the police she had been beaten several times by her fiance (reportedly former WWE talent Jackson Andrews) and feared for her life. WWE says they will provide her with professional assistance and of course we hope for the best in this situation.
AW may still be mic’d up for the match, but he has definitely been toned down. His act has mostly been reduced to just shouting a handful of phrases, and instead of a Kobe rape joke, he goes in the complete opposite direction, saying that “Darren Young is like Mother Theresa, he can do no wrong!” Easily the best reversal of the night. Epico and Primo were taking over but AW pulled his boys out like we’ve seen a million times before. Only this time Truth and Kofi came out to keep them from leaving, and Epico covered Young for the win. Backstage Damien Sandow says that he attacked Brodus Clay because he wants to rid the WWE of foolish acts like dancing, and he’ll finish the job tonight. Sounds like he’s been watching Footloose too much. The match doesn’t even get started before he makes good on his promise, taking out Clay on the stage in the beginning of his introduction. He attacks his ankle and with any luck we won’t be seeing Brodus for a little while. Sandow on the other hand is in full heel mode. He’s drawing a ton of heat.
Back backstage Bryan and AJ continue their feud (with AJ’s boots in the middle to remind us she used to wrestle), where AJ informs Bryan that he will face Kane at Summerslam. There is absolutely no reason for this to happen except for Daniel Bryan needing a match and Kane is a warm body. I wonder if Kane can be put in the YES! Lock. Kelly Kelly is back for the first time in a couple of months and beat Eve. The most notable thing is that there was actually a Diva’s match on Raw for the first time in a forever.
Being in San Antonio we need to have a Shawn Michael’s appearance, and sure enough he is in the ring to help promote Triple H versus Brock Lesnar. Sorry but a little of the nostalgia is worn out since we just saw him two weeks ago. He says that backstage all the superstars are talking about Brock versus Triple H (doubtful), and before long he is interrupted by Lesnar and Heyman (which puts another dent in the Lesnar/Ryback story). Thankfully Heyman does all the talking for Brock. He’s even great at just saying the name “Brock Lesnar.” He says Brock is not out to be an “entertainer,” but to fight and prove that he is the “baddest dude on the planet today.” Yup, he said “dude.” Michaels says they messed up by going after Triple H’s family which is why he thinks he will beat Lesnar, and that he’ll be in Triple H’s corner at Summerslam. Heyman starts to explain Brock will end his career and all the other stuff that makes Heyman fun, but Lesnar grabs the mic and moves to take out Michaels before Triple H steps in to help his buddy. Lesnar stares down both of them before telling Triple H he’ll see him at Summerslam, and tells Michaels he’ll see him before then. The only question is will it be tonight or next week.
Remember when a wrestler would steal another wrestler’s car and spend the rest of the show taking it to different places or crashing into something and we’d see it in glorious HD? Well now when that happens the action gets TOUT’ed. Good lord I hate tout. So far all we’ve gotten was a 15 second clip of Sheamus sitting in the car at the Alamo. If we don’t get a pay off for his it will be a huge missed opportunity. On the bright side, we haven’t gotten any fan TOUT’s yet.
Dolph Ziggler (and his fresh dye job) next against Alex Riley with Chris Jericho ringside. Basic Ziggler match but it’s all about Jericho promoting his feud with Dolph. He says he needed someone like Dolph to lite a fire under him. Cole keeps bringing up that he hasn’t won a big match since he came back and us stretched too thin with the music and TV and everything else, leading Jericho to slip. Say what you want about Cole, but every now and again he sounds like a real broadcaster. Jericho gets his digs in and all Lawler can do is cut them off to tell his jokes. Jericho, who has all of Ziggler’s attention, decides to TOUT the match, as Ziggler gets rolled up by Riley to cost him the match. Good feud they have going here.
Even more TOUTing shows Sheamus spilling food in Del Rio’s car. At least the WWE found a way to save money on remote shooting. He at least brought it back on regular cameras with the engine smoking and the car covered in mud and mexican food. Remember the fan vote on the opening match from hours ago? Well the two guys that weren’t picked, Kane and Miz, now get to face each other. I’ve critiqued Kane a lot but he really does seem to be back in ring shape lately. He’s gotten quicker and is showing much more in ring ability than he did when he first came back. He made short work of the Intercontinental Champion, finishing him off with a chokeslam.
Main event time as Daniel Bryan comes out in his new NO! shirt. Absolutely awesome. The only problem is that it will be like the YES! chant is selling out (even more than before). It’s just ridiculous and Bryan is turning more and more psycho. The Cena chants for both sides are so loud (audio enhanced by WWE?) that Cena himself takes notice, causing Bryan to yell at the crowd because it should be about him. Cole also informs us that he has changed the YES! Lock, which used to be the LeBell Lock, to the NO! Lock. That’s three names for one move in about four months. It’s pretty fun watching the smaller Bryan knock out Cena with a flying knee, then start yelling NO! right in the face of people in the crowd that yell YES! right back in his face. It will be too bad when the chant jumps the shark in a few weeks. Bryan controls most of the match before SuperCena shows up for his usual comeback arsenal. Cena looks like he’s going to hit the AA but Bryan turns it into a guillotine hold. After Cena escapes the hold Bryan comes back to land a diving headbutt from almost the length of the ring. Cena then ducks a kick to the head and applies an STF, which Bryan nearly reverses into a NO! Lock, only to be countered with an AA to get the win for Cena. Pretty damn good match.
After the match Punk comes out to hold his title in Cena’s face, but before anything else can happen Show comes down the ramp and Cena shoves Punk aside as the two fight. Once again Punk is stuck on the sidelines. After a quick spot Cena lifts show up for an AA but Punk hits Show from behind causing him to fall on top of Cena. Cena grabs a set of headphones and says it’s his fault that he isn’t being respected because he’s been smiling and kissing babies and playing nice all this time only to be stepped on. Sounds a lot like Big Show all of a sudden. He says that for the third straight Raw, the show will end with Cena and Show on the floor with Punk walking out. He’s completely done even pretending to be a face now. Punk goes to take out Show, but Show delivers a WMD on Punk and Cena instead, and the show ends with Big Show standing over both of them with the belt on his shoulder. Good way to make up for his getting got by Orton earlier.
Two shows in and I don’t have that much to complain about with the three-hour format. I hate TOUT and the self promotion is just ridiculous, but it’s nothing I wouldn’t be bitching about normally. So far so good.
There was never any doubt that WWE would be able to fill out 3 hours for their 1000th show, and it pretty much worked out. The question I’ve been trying to answer is how in the Ministry of Darkness are they going to pull off a 3 hour show every week for the rest of time. I don’t think I’m going to like the answer but let’s watch Raw anyway.
Episode #1001 got off to a bad start before the show even started, with a pre show fireworks test caused the jumbotron to catch on fire. Great omen for the show. In what is likely a preview of things to come. Raw started by showing all of the highlights of last week’s 1000th episode. They cleverly skipped over the Undertaker botching the removal of his hood.
We finally get the show started with CM Punk, still with crowd pop, to explain what he did last week. He immediately gets in Jerry Lawler’s face about saying he turned his back on the WWE Universe, and I do mean in his face. Punk calls the Rock out as not representing the WWE Universe (true). Called his schtick tired (true). Has a problem with Rock being gifted a WWE Title shot (predictable and valid). Punk has an extra bite to his shoot and the crowd loves it. He’s trying to do the impossible and get the crowd on his side against the Rock. Don’t know if he’s going to do it but it’ll be interesting to watch. CM Punk is a pure wrestler who has little interest in a career outside wrestling, and he’s going against a WWE legend that wants to be as big of a celebrity as possible.
Punk goes on about getting pushed out of the spotlight while being WWE Champion, and is then promptly cut off by the Big Show who says his interference last week with Cena is the only reason Punk still has the title, and that he’ll be the one to take it from Punk instead. Cue John Cena who runs out to take on Big Show while CM Punk watches from the side looked bored as hell. Perfect time to have AJ make her debut as the new Raw GM. She announces that Cena and Big Show will battle for the chance to challenge Punk for the belt at Summerslam. This could go either way but I get the feeling we won’t have a finish and it’ll be a three-man match at Summerslam. No one has anyone else to feud with for the next few weeks. They won’t let Big Show lose to Punk clean because it will kill his push completely and Cena/Punk wouldn’t help Punk remain only a semi heel.
First match of the night is Alberto Del Rio versus Santino. Del Rio’s car, and the fireworks, were removed from his entrance because of the fire. This is awesome. It’s interesting that Del Rio won the right to be number one contender again for the World Heavyweight Championship after just losing to Sheamus at the last PPV. With Ziggler having the MITB briefcase and Daniel Bryan just coming off so many title shots of his own, there isn’t really another heel to take his spot. I’d love to say I have a better idea for who should take his place but unless they want to have Sheamus take on another face I have nothing to offer. Too bad Cody Rhodes isn’t better.
The match is longer than all of the previous Del Rio/Santino matches combined. Santino is usually the guy they have Del Rio rough up so that they can say Del Rio is extra aggressive. Aside from a couple extra attempts at momentum from Santino this is more of the same. Unfortunately for us (maybe) there was a commercial break in the middle of the match, meaning that 34 minutes into the show we have had about 3 minutes and 30 seconds of wrestling. After the match Del Rio says everyone is beneath him and he will no longer compete in a match if it isn’t for the World Heavyweight Championship, which means he won’t compete until Summerslam. I can deal with that.
Vicki Guerrero interrupts Brodus Clay’s entrance (it does take 20 minutes after all) to show off her dance skills, before she is interrupted by Damien Sandow. He’s still crying martyr for getting got by DX last week. He then bum rushes Clay, strips his pants off (no thanks) and snaps his chain. So no match, but anytime someone can knock Clay down a peg I’m all for it, and I have to say I’m really taking to Sandow. He has some ring and mic skills, and draws good heat from the crowd. He’s also a big of a throwback to the snobby heels of the 80’s, right down to the robe. He’s not quite there yet, but he could be a guy to challenge Sheamus before the year is out.
Daniel Bryan, who has been pacing outside AJ’s office all show, finally goes into her office, walks right past the poorly placed lighting guy, and starts to chew out AJ for leaving him at the altar and going on a power trip. AJ apparently is one of the few people on RAW that actually watches RAW, and calls out Bryan for bringing in the mental hospital workers. AJ, acting less crazy and more sarcastic funny, puts Bryan in a non title match against Sheamus. I guess we can throw the whole Cray-J thing out the window. Bryan is also now left with no one to fight, on the roster anyway. I tried to ignore it last week hoping it would go away but it looks like it could be for real. Charlie Sheen and Daniel Bryan is on the way to turning into a real feud that will culminate at Summerslam. WWE has always wanted Summerslam to be WrestleMania light, and having celebrities compete is a sad step in that direction. It’s only a problem because they are taking one of the best actual wrestlers in Bryan out of a real match against anyone else. Sheen is someone for Santino or Ricardo Rodriguez to fight. Not the Yes! man.
WWE continues to hit us from all angles on the internet. First they want people to comment via Tout on CM Punk’s actions, and now they want the stipulation for the Sheamus/Bryan match to be decided via Twitter. The choices are No Holds Barred, Falls Count Anywhere, and Street Fight. Can you tell me the difference between any of those options? That’s like choosing between an I Quit, Submission, and a Tap Out match. I hope it’s a three-way tie. For the record, Sheamus (sporting a sweet black eye) doesn’t know what type of match he wants to be in. Can’t imagine why. Bryan comes out and tells the crowd to stop chanting YES because only he is allowed to say it. Looks like a power move to take the YES chant to the next level. 73% of the WWE Universe chooses a street fight for the match, so now let’s see if they make it to “the street.” FYI, this match starts the second hour of RAW, meaning the first hour only had the previous total of 3 minutes and 30 seconds of wrestling.
After a few minutes of in ring action we head outside toward the entrance ramp to see Sheamus throw Bryan against a bunch of objects before Bryan mounted some offense of his own. I must reiterate that this would be legal in every possible match type. After a commercial they are back in and around the ring. Sheamus finally puts a kendo stick (again, why are they under the ring) and a chair in the ring but Bryan throws them out. Still no illegal moves. For some reason Sheamus throws Bryan outside the ring right near the chair and kendo stick, and of course Sheamus gets tagged with them. Finally some No Holds Barred Street Fight action. Chair and kendo stick shots go both ways before the steel steps find their way in the ring. We get teased for white noise on the steps but a pair of reversals turn into Sheamus hitting a brogue kick near the steps instead, securing the win. A good match, but the fan voting what absolutely pointless. That’s 8 more minutes of wrestling on the show now.
Returning from break after the match, Daniel Bryan is refusing to leave the ring until a doctor comes to look at his neck injury. Kofi comes out instead, with a suited up R-Truth, for his match. After Truth and Kofi try to talk Bryan out of the ring, Bryan (wait for it) punts Little Jimmy clear out of the ring. The camera even followed Jimmy into the air. Loved it. Truth freaks out and Bryan calls out the mental hospital crew to take Truth away, but AJ declared that Bryan needs mental help, and they take him instead. Maybe Bryan and Sheen will have a crazy house brawl at Summerslam. Don’t worry, Jimmy turned out to be okay.
Wondering what the WWE Universe said about CM Punk? Me either. They also want people to sound off on whether they think Daniel Bryan is crazier than AJ. I don’t care what the fans have to say about that either. On the bright side, it looks like we’re going to have two matches in this hour of Raw, as Kofi will go one on one against Titus O’Neil. Forget about the match though, AW just made a Kobe Bryant rape joke (“he’s unstoppable”). He’s singlehandedly trying to bring back the attitude era level of brashness. I’ll give him credit, as annoying as the gimmick is, he pulls off one outrageous comment every time out. Just as Kofi gets ready to delivery a trouble in paradise, AW distracts him by throwing his show at him (and yelling YO MAMMA), giving Titus O’Neil the opportunity to capitalize and take the match. Another 3 minute match, but a match is a match.
Backstage CM Punk is trying to defend himself to John Cena, justifying his actions while still taking subtle jabs at Cena. It’s a very careful line to cross as Punk is trying to maintain a heel attitude while still acting as the noble face. Unlike Rock last week, he doesn’t wish Cena or Big Show luck, because he doesn’t care who wins. It’s a lot easier to pull off the face with an attitude when the man he has beef with isn’t around. Back from the break, Michael Cole rightfully has to apologize for AW’s Kobe remarks. Sorry Attitude Era, your time has passed.
Heath Slater out now, and now that the One Man Band is done fighting legends, he holds an open challenge out to any active WWE Superstar, and guess who answers the call? Randy Orton! After all of the rumors about his WWE career being over were proven false weeks ago, Orton is finally back after his wellness suspension and runs through his entire signature move set in about 90 seconds. Very curious what they do with Orton for Summerslam and moving forward. I imagine he’ll get another chance to compete for the World Heavyweight Title, just like he was originally going to before his suspension. Backstage Daniel Bryan started yelling at a psychiatric doctor asking him only yes or no questions. Guess what Bryan’s answer was to them all.
Time for some tag team action as face Jericho and Christian go against Ziggler and Miz. Face Jericho seems a lot like the heel version only he screws heels and smiles more. He’s one of those guys that will get the same reaction no matter what he does so it doesn’t really matter. He looks destined to face Ziggler at Summerslam. I’m not sure if Christian will get another shot at Miz but it sure looks like it by tonight’s booking. A lot of purple in the ring right now. The IC champ Miz avoids Christian (the former champ) at all costs while Ziggler does the same with Jericho until the opportune moment of course. Side note, I don’t know who Papa Steve is, but he got a happy birthday message shown all night on a sign dead center. For the first time Dolph Ziggler had a nasty botch, completely whiffing on a leg drop bulldog (fameasser). Christian eye pokes Miz into a codebreaker and Jericho takes the match (ten minute match, longest of the night). The victory is short lived as Ziggler decks Jericho with the MITB briefcase. They are definitely meeting at Summerslam. Backstage Bryan is taking the Rorschach test and the ink blots combine to look like a goat face, setting him off again. Bryan even brings up Sheen again (ugh). Not good.
Watching the TOUT comments on AJ and Bryan makes me wonder what you have to do on TOUT to not make it to the montage on Raw. It’s unbelievable how bad it is.
The last card before the main event is Tyson Kidd versus Tensai (who lost the Lord part of his name). Kidd is still being sold off the surprise win he had over Tensai a month ago. Tensai grunts Kidd into a pulp and after Tyson puts a couple moves together, Tensai comes back to knock out Kidd and secure the victory in two minutes. Being the bitter heel, Tensai naturally continues the beating after the bell, only for some reason the referee decides to reverse the decision and give Tyson Kidd the victory via DQ. Is there even a precedent for this? Hasn’t this happened a million times before without a reversed decision? What if he waited a bit and attacked him again in the locker room? Why do I care about any of this?
In case you were wondering, Daniel Bryan was deemed sane by the psychiatrist. Before Bryan could leave the room however he was met by Kane, who called himself Bryan’s “Anger Management therapist” (GET IT? CUZ OF SHEEN!) He smacked him up a little and left. Why Kane had to get involved in this is anyones guess. Maybe Kane versus Bryan at Summerslam with Sheen as guess referee? I’d take that over Bryan versus Sheen at least.
CM Punk ringside to provide commentary for Cena vs Show. It’s fun having a more biting and snarky Punk. Everything is deadpan, but still very good. It’s also interesting how much he still talks about how the entire WWE roster needs to be appreciated more. It is as if he is a completely neutral party to everyone except the Rock. I doubt he’ll be able to maintain that for very long, but again it is an interesting way to go about it. I’m talking about Punk more than the match because the match just isn’t very interesting. Show is trying to quiet the crowd but he doesn’t realize they are mostly booing Cena. Punk meanwhile is providing balance analysis while taking shots at Cole and Lawler for their agendas and joking instead of calling the match. Lawler has nothing intelligent to say in response. Good heels have a funny way of telling the truth don’t they?
The match is very similar to the No Way Out cage match, right down to Show telling the crowd to “Smile for me!” Outside the ring Show dodges a diving Cena who hits Punk instead. Back in the ring Cena dodges a WMD by Show and goes for an AA, but Punk jumps in and knocks out Show to end the match. He then knocks out Show with a kick to the head. Punk declares both men to be losers but AJ comes out to announce that since the match ended in a draw both Big Show and John Cena will challenge CM Punk at Summerslam (called it!). Punk then went into full heel mode in arguing with AJ and telling her to show him respect. It’ll be better than another Cena/Show match at least.
With the first three-hour Raw in the books, we had seven matches with approximately 31 minutes of wrestling. Honestly more than I thought we’d see. The bottom line however is that if I had the choice to go to Raw or a house show, I think I’d choose the house show every time.
Before I even say anything the WWE has a new slogan. “Then, Now, Forever.” This is interesting because it is exactly how long I feel like this 1000th episode has been getting promoted for. Let’s see how much substance actually comes with all the hype.
After a montage that lasted longer than a Ryback match, Vince McMahon came out first to address the crowd and formally introduce Michaels and Triple H as DX. Kind of odd having the COO of your company come out as a symbol of rebellion but whatever. Didn’t take long for X-Pac, Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg to come out in a hummer (no Chyna) and reunite join them to form the massive Suck-It-Bot. Okay that last part didn’t happen but it might as well have. This is pretty much going to be a cheap pop-athon. A few other notes: Props to Triple H for mentioning he as the only one that still had hair and for railing on Shawn about losing his smile and doing Playgirl. Also oh man did X-Pac get fat. I know no one is in as good of shape as they used to be (myself included) but for such a skinny guy back in the day it sure does stand out on him. Damien Sandow cut them off to do his whole morals thing and a quick comedy bit later he was superkicked and pedigreed and just like that consider 20 minutes successfully killed.
What special edition of Raw would be complete without Jim Ross. He’ll be calling the first match of the night with Cole and Lawler who are both tuxedos. I guess Ross didn’t get the message. He also has a goatee going. Maybe this is evil JR. 30 minutes in Cole hasn’t said a dumb thing to either of them. This really is a special Raw. Rey Mysterio, Sheamus and Sin Cara join forces for this first match against Jericho, Ziggler and Del Rio. Jericho brought out some old favorite moves early on which was cool. Then after Del Rio laid down some of the worst looking knee drops I’ve ever seen, Sin Cara finally tags out to Sheamus and we get some real action. Everyone gets their moves in (making Sin Cara look specifically out of place) before the sequence ends with Ziggler decking Jericho, who then turns into a brogue kick to take the match. Jericho and Sheamus specifically work well together. Too bad they won’t be able to do it anymore because Jericho’s face turn is just about complete.
You know what sucks? Tout. There is a reason some people get paid to be on TV and others (like me) just watch it. If they continue with this I can at least know when to go fold the laundry. Charlie Sheen actually appeared on the show by the way, via webcam at least, to talk to Cole and Lawler. He obviously has never watched wrestling until today but it’s all good. I still have no idea what his role is, but that doesn’t matter either. Layla tries to talk AJ out of the wedding, leading to a segment about how AJ could be the least crazy person around. Enter Jim Duggan, R-Truth and Roddy Piper playing jump rope with little Jimmy, and Mae Young showing up with her son the hand. All grown up too! Easily the best part of the show so far. Awesome.
Just after Lawler gets his Sonic order the new resident jobber Jack Swagger comes off losing to Ryback last week to losing to Brodus Clay this week. Really feel for the poor guy. Wasn’t that long ago that he was the US Champ. He’s a hard worker and STOP EVERYTHING IT’S DUDE LOVE! He’s out to be in Clay’s corner and in the time it took to tell you that the match ended on a Funk Dat or whatever that splash move is called. Cue the dance session, throw in a mandible claw on Swagger and we’re done. The Dude Love character is just about the best Clay could hope for and even Foley didn’t take it that far. Backstage Daniel Bryan is getting ready for the wedding while talking to mental hospital workers. The plot thickens.
I guess we won’t have to wait much longer because one hour in we get the wedding. Slick (who I’m sure very few of you and the crowd remember) is out to handle the ceremony. Daniel Bryan comes down the aisle to his music, chanting YES in a white tux. Way to sell the legitimacy of the whole thing (of course this is par for the course in WWE weddings) Slick is amped up for the proceedings, and AJ is completely corpsing. Just before Slick was about to announce them as man and wife, AJ says she wasn’t saying yes to Bryan, but to Vince McMahon (stay with me), who proposed that she become the new GM of Raw. AJ skips out on Daniel Bryan and uh, this is just ridiculous. I know I can’t try to make that much sense out of a wrestling storyline, but where does that become a good idea? This could get bad fast. Also, it looks like Bryan is going face after all. Bryan freaks out and tosses everything around only to be visited by CM Punk. They get into an argument about who the greatest of all time is, and cue the Rock from the gorilla position to add his two cents. For a guy that has only had three matches since 2004, he sure does have a lot of different t-shirts. After calling Bryan Frodo, Rock announces that he will get a WWE Championship title shot at the Royal Rumble. Punk of course says that he will still have the belt by then, and you can fill in the blanks from there. Oh yeah, Daniel Bryan got Rock Bottomed too.
Bret Hart out as guest ring announcer for the IC title match between Christian and The Miz. Miz is certainly getting a lot of work in since he came back. In two weeks he’s been in the MITB match and now a title shot. Charlie Sheen will be back for more commentary after the match. I had completely forgotten he was on the show to begin with. Christian sells a knee injury early and misses a pair of chances at a kill switch before Miz hits a skull crushing finale to take the Intercontinental Championship. Solid match and the crowd popped for Miz who, like Ziggler, is getting a fresh push. Now on to Sheen. Apparently all he is doing is watching the show from his house. He’s pretty much just recapping what we’ve already seen with little input. Kind of sounds like what I’ve been doing here.
Triple H out for the 2nd time tonight, now to get back to his present ass kicker mode to get his answer from Brock Lesnar about Summerslam. Paul Heyman again comes out in Lesnar’s place. He again says no and Triple H goes into the same nonsense about Lesnar being afraid of him. Heyman starts to take digs at Triple H’s kids, and Stephanie McMahon gets to make her appearance for the night. She essentially does the same routine Triple H did and slaps Heyman in the process. Apparently that was all it took to get Heyman to agree to let Lesnar fight. Ridiculous. Heyman goes back to talking about the kids and now Stephanie takes down Heyman, which triggers Brock Lesnar to come out and give us a quick preview of Lesnar/Triple H. Triple H actually knocks Lesnar out of the ring, Lesnar drops an F-bomb, they both takes their shirts off and for some reason Lesnar’s music plays to end the segment. So the match that we knew was happening for weeks is finally official in the WWE Universe.
Santino and Hornswaggle bring out some brawlin’ buddies (new version of wrestling buddies). Not sure what he’s out there for because Howard Finkel is there to introduce Heath Slater, who is in a no DQ match against WWE legend Lita. Yeah that’s right. The youngest and most in shape person to take on Slater yet. For protection, Lita called out Farooq and Bradshaw. Slater wants no part of them and tries to get out, but all of the other legends Slater faced came out to bring him back into the ring. Twist of fate, clothesline from hell and a moonsalt later and Slater is done. I’m a bit tapped out on seeing WWE legends beat up on Heath Slater. Let’s move on. Remember Sean Mooney? Well he’s back too to interview Bryan. Nothing really happened in the interview, but I just think it’s cool to know Sean Mooney is still alive.
Mean Gene hanging out with Ryder and Cena backstage when The Rock stepped in to wish Cena luck and talk more Royal Rumble. Can we even get through Summerslam first? I guess there is no way the winner of tonight’s match doesn’t hold on to it until the Royal Rumble. Kane was set to go against Jinder Mahal, but he brough out a bunch of other people you don’t care about to help him take care of business. I’ll be damned though if the Undertaker didn’t come out in a Legion of Doom style coat to help his brother clean house. Undertaker is still rocking the mohawk he had at WrestleMania, although it took a while to know for sure since Taker botched taking his hood off. The Brothers quickly make jobber soup, hitting a couple of chokeslams and tombstones before posing and doing all the fire and brimstone stuff. Undertaker barely comes out, but if there was ever a good day to come out this was it. Funny enough, this was followed by a bully campaign message.
Another brief and pointless Sheen appearance and it’s finally main event time. This is only the third real match that we’ll have in this three hour Raw. I’m not counting Clay/Swagger, Lita/Slater or the Kane/Undertaker vs jobbers “matches.” Punk and Cena start with a handshake. So much has changed since MITB last year. Slow pace to start but it lets the crowd rev up. I think they have been so starved for a real good match that they are at an absolute high right now. I see time running out on the show and I realize Big Show hasn’t been seen. You see where I’m going with this? Things pick up a bit but still very deliberate. Rare for a Punk match. They trade momentum swings and block each other’s signature moves, and Cena escapes a GTS and lands and AA but the referee is down. Guess who’s right? Big Show comes out to knock out Cena and leave. Punk reluctantly revives and ref and goes for the pin, but he took so long that Cena kicked out. Cena then reverses a GTS into an STF (I hate abbreviations) but before Punk can tap out Big Show comes back again to take out Cena. Punk does nothing for some reason but The Rock comes to Cena’s rescue. Rock goes for a People’s Elbow but Punk attacks Rock, then hit’s a GTS and holy pipe bomb we have a full on Punk heel turn. I wasn’t too thrilled with the early goings but what a way to end the 1000th episode of Raw.
This all but guarantees Punk versus Rock at Royal Rumble, and it looks like we’re going to get the heel Punk that held was telling us not to buy Jeff Hardy DVD’s instead of the face Punk that was like a wrestling Deadpool. I imagine it will be about Rock behind handed a title shot or something. There was also a lot of reluctance and confusion on Punk’s face the entire time, but I expect that to fade by next Monday. This can only be good.
I figure that recapping 24 hours of wrestling a week after it happened is a little ridiculous, so instead I’ll just drop some quick reactions now that I’ve finally gotten to watch Money in the Bank and the following Raw.
Dolph Ziggler wins Smackdown MITB Match I thought the Sin Cara botch off the top rope was bad. Then I saw Lord Tensai. Good lord what a crappy pair of wrestlers. It also seems that everyone is beginning to appreciate Ziggler the way I do. The crowd absolutely loves him and was behind him whenever he got close to winning. Couldn’t be happier that he won in the end. Nobody takes harder hits and he is ready to go to the next level. Overall a good match with plenty of big moments.
The Phoenix crowd also popped for the Miz returning as well. Pretty sure The Marine 2 is going to suck, but it’s good to have him back. WWE needs reliable heels like him. Especially when Sin Cara and Tensai are stinking it up in the ring.
Sheamus def. Alberto Del Rio to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
Del Rio must have been told to add some personality to his in ring persona because he’s been more animated that I remember him being in a while. Not a bad match but the pace was too slow. Especially coming off the MITB match. Picked up a bit with the finish, but overall a predictable and at times boring match. Crowd cheering for Ziggler was awesome, especially the pop when he finally came out. I would have lost it if he actually cashed in and lost though.
All you need to know about the tag match is that AW was the only thing that worked. Some of his comments were actually kinda funny. Match went way too long though.
CM Punk def. Daniel Bryan to retain the WWE Championship
Digging Bryan’s new hobo jacket. Of course these guys have a great match. They are the best in the business and they compliment each other well. Plus they’ve been in the ring with each other so much it would be hard not to have excellent chemistry. Fast, precise, creative, high impact. Great stuff. I just want to know what the point of AJ being a ref was. Just like when Laurinaitis was guest referee, AJ barely had any impact at all.
By the way, Ryback actually took a bump. Still not getting over though.
John Cena wins RAW MITB match Much to my surprise this match got off to a great start. Cena hitting an AA on Show through the announce table was pretty damn cool. Interesting to see everyone else bury him with all the ladders. A lot more throwing ladders overall. Completely different that the first MITB match. More about power moves. Still good though. Big Show’s big ladder is hilarious. Finish was strong too. Show staring down Jericho was great but I’m pretty sure Cena wasn’t supposed to win at the moment he did. Looked like he was supposed to finish taking down Show before pulling off the case. Made for a more authentic reaction from Cena. Good PPV overall. Sheamus/Del Rio was the closest thing to a dud and even that was okay. Minimal complaints.
Monday Night Raw Episode #999 With the 1000th episode of RAW next, you wouldn’t expect much to actually happen this week and that’s pretty much what happened. Not much. Rey Mysterio did come back though and immediately got into it with Del Rio. Maybe this means we can get Sin Cara out of here. Heath Slater got to lose to Rikishi, and Rikishi dancing with his sons the Usos was a nice touch. Rumors were that Daniel Bryan could go face, and that seems to be what is happening with him proposing (with ring!) to AJ and they’ll be getting married next week (of course). Jericho could also be in for a face turn and feud with Ziggler. Predictably Cena isn’t going to take advantage of an injured champ with his MITB case (which is why I didn’t want him winning). So he’ll face Punk next week in what may be the only match we see on Raw’s 1000th episode. Cena winning the title on the landmark episode would be soooooooooooo WWE. I guess we’ll have to just wait and see.