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Daniel Bryan Wins Back WWE Title At Night Of Champions

NOC13_Photo_321Night of Champions is here but it is being completely overshadowed by the news that Jim Ross has “resigned” after 20 years with the WWE. In what might be one of the worst kept secrets in a long time, Ross was forced to resign after losing control of a panel for WWE 2K14 due to a drunk Ric Flair taking over. That would only be considered a bit extreme if it wasn’t for 2K Sports absolutely loving how the panel went down and isn’t that the whole point? The truth seems to be that the WWE was looking for any reason to get rid of JR and this was as good as they were going to get. He’s the best pure play by play man they have ever had and between the Bell’s palsy and his already sporadic schedule, retirement doesn’t seem like the worst idea anyway. It did not need to go down this way though. Ross has said that he is not “going away” so the worst nightmare is him going to TNA. I highly doubt that would happen, but either way, good luck in your future endeavors.

Enough of the drama, lets move on to the show which starts off with Triple H because he just can’t help himself. He believes that this will be one of the best nights in WWE history, and has decided that there will be no outside interference in Daniel Bryan’s match against Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. Isn’t there already supposed to be no interference? That’s like the first rule there is. Anyway, apparently Big Show and the Shield and everyone else are not allowed to interfere. Like always. He starts to wrap things up when Paul Heyman comes out looking like garbage with Curtis Axel, begging to be excused from his match with Axel against CM Punk. He kisses Trips ass before stating his one mistake was allowing a middle aged father to be put in a match against a fighter of Punk’s caliber and pleases that the match be cancelled. Since Triple H is only playing an occasional heel, Triple H tells Heyman that there is nothing to worry about since he doesn’t even have to get in the ring. He can just have Curtis Axel beat CM Punk. He then asks Paul if he thinks Curtis can beat Punk. Heyman blows off the question but Axel steps up and says that he has a vendetta against Heyman and Axel ever since Axel beat Triple H in May (due to Triple H being too injured to finish coming a match with Lesnar). Trips reminds Axel of the saying, “don’t poke the bear” and brings up how at Night of Champions all titles are supposed to be defended (something I’ve been curious about with this Punk match all month). With that in mind, Triple H decides that Curtis will defend his Intercontinental Championship against the first person he sees when he walks backstage. “Best for business” count: 4

So Axel’s solo match is first on the card, and Paul Heyman announces that Axel is competing under protest. So who does Triple H find? Who else but Kofi Kingston, who has had Axel’s number for the last couple of weeks. They trade arm holds and chin locks for a while, then exchanging shots in the corner. Kofi starts working Axel’s leg and Curtis sells it hard. It’s now a part of the match and this could play in to the Punk match. Axel hits a dropkick despite the leg injury and takes Kofi outside to hurl him into the steps. Kingston leaps up to the apron, then hits a springboard moonsault onto Axel on the floor. Back in the ring, Kofi gets pushed down from the top rope, falling into the tree of woe where Axel hits a shoulder tackle and Curtis is in full control. Curtis goes for a clothesline but Kofi grabs his arm and flips over to drop down on Axel’s arm and get some momentum going. He hits the boom drop and goes for Trouble in Paradise, but Axel ducks under it and drives Kofi into the corner. Kingston then hits a swinging kick from the apron and goes to the top for a splash, but Axel meets him with a dropkick for a two count. Kingston then goes for SOS but Curtis pushes him into the ropes. Kofi comes back to try TiP but Axel ducks under it again and goes for his hangman’s facebuster (third finisher since coming back), but Kofi counters again and hits the SOS for two and a half. Great sequence that really got the crowd going. Kofi tried to follow up by leaping over Axel in the corner, but Curtis caught him on his shoulders and dropped Kofi onto the top rope, hit the facebuster and won the match. Pretty entertaining match, I’m just not sure why Axel needed two matches on the card.

Backstage, RVD is having Ricardo Rodriguez teach him spanish words related to beating Del Rio and becoming the World Heavyweight Champion. It’s the hokiest thing I’ve ever seen. Meanwhile, Aksana, Alicia Fox and Layla are done being in AJ’s corner after AJ said they are nothing without her or something. I don’t know. I guess it happened on Smackdown. There is just too much to keep track of outside of Raw.

The Divas Championship match is next as AJ defends against Natalya, Brie Bella and Naomi in a Fatal Four Way. This is the first time Natalya has been featured in a PPV in ages and I expect her to lead the match. Meanwhile, Brie is dressed like slutty Rainbow Brite (as voted on by the fans!). The Total Divas quickly gang up on AJ and take turns tossing her into the outside wall. Back inside, Brie knees AJ out of the ring and bounces off the ropes to take out Nattie and Naomi. She then kicks out Natalya to go one on one with Naomi, who hits a dropkick and a hurricarrana. Natalya gets back in and is rolled up by AJ for two, and they then start slapping each other until Naomi hits them both with the rear view. Brie then tries to hit Naomi on the top rope but gets booted in the face instead. Naomi then tries a top rope cross body splash on Natalya, but it looked like Natty missed her spot as Naomi falls flat on the mat while Natty just drops down on her own. AJ goes after Naomi on the apron, who drops a shoulder into AJ, then hops over Brie to drop down on her head, only for AJ to pull her down to the floor after trying to slingshot back into the ring at Brie. Naomi really does have some skills. So now it’s Natalya taking over. She power slams Brie, hits a tornado clothesline on Naomi, then power slams Brie on Naomi. Cole and JBL quickly point out that the ref should be counting a pin since Naomi’s shoulders were down, but he doesn’t and Natalya managers to apply the Sharpshooter to both ladies at the same time. I’m sure most people skipped this match but it has some pretty good spots. AJ kicks Natalya to break it up and applies the Black Widow on her with Brie and Naomi still down to retain the Divas Championship. It wasn’t the cleanest match, but it was still pretty good. Natalya looked way to proud of herself for pulling off that Sharpshooter.

Spot of the night? Spot of the night
Spot of the night? Spot of the night

World Heavyweight Championship on the line next as Alberto Del Rio defends against Rob Van Dam who, with NoC in Detroit, is performing just a couple of hours from his home town in Battle Creek Michigan. Ricardo announces RVD in english while Lillian Garcia announces ADR in spanish. This just isn’t right. Van Dam starts off fast with a series of kicks followed by a monkey flip and a standing moonsault for a two count, then hitting another standing moonsault off the apron to the outside. With both men on the apron there was a cool spot with each man nearly suplexing the other either into or out of the ring. Each man was planted on each side of the ropes at one point or another before ADR dropped RVD onto the ropes to take control. He hits an enziguri to knock Rob off the apron, Van Dam moves away when Alberto drives to dive at him through the ropes, and the momentum turns again. RVD hits a slingshot leg drop onto the apron, followed by a side kick off the top rope. Del Rio dodges Rolling Thunder however, hitting the back stabber for a two count. Alberto goes for a reverse superplex, but Rob knocks him down and hits a front flip off the top rope for a two count of his own. The two trade blows until Del Rio hits a tilt-a-whirl back breaker to regain the momentum. He goes for the cross arm breaker but RVD counters with the scissor rollup for two. Alberto comes back with a kick to head. He goes to the top rope for an axe handle smash but RVD counters with a spinning kick to the face. He goes for the five star frog splash but ADR gets his knees up to block it and applies to cross arm-breaker. Van Dam inches his way to the ropes but ADR does not let go of the hold and Del Rio loses via disqualification, meaning Del Rio retains his title. Alberto continues the beat down in the ring, then grabs a chair. Ricardo grabs the chair before he can use it, and Rob hits him with a DDT. Rodriguez then urges Van Dam to hit the Van Terminator and he does! Well, technically Del Rio held the chair out like a shield to help close the distance and protect himself but he still went coast to coast. Del Rio gets medical attention as Van Dam celebrates with the World Heavyweight Championship belt that he didn’t win. Yet another high quality match from Rob Van Dam. Del Rio was pretty good too. This would have been a great time for Sandow to cash in. Oh well.

Backstage, Axel is feeling good after beating Kofi Kingston as Paul Heyman is explaining how critical it is for Axel to allow CM Punk to face Heyman alone in the ring. Axel asks Heyman if he believes in him, but Heyman says that he needs to believe in himself. Not exactly a vote of confidence. Meanwhile, Randy Orton is asking Triple H why he banned outside interference for his match against Daniel Bryan. Trips says it was because he wanted to make sure he picked the right guy to be the face of the WWE.

Fandango out next to take on the Miz. They are wrestling because the Miz beat Fandango, R-Truth and Khali in a dance contest. The crowd doesn’t care about this and neither do I. The go back and forth, doing a few moves and then dancing to mock each other. Nothing of note. It looks like Miz injured his arm or his side pretty badly at some point. He was holding his right side throughout the second half of the match. Miz dodges a top rope leg drop and hit a figure four leglock to win the match via submission. Miz was still holding his ribs after the match and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was legit. I also wouldn’t be surprised if I just got got.

and we never saw Heyman again
and we never saw him again

Time for CM Punk to take on Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel in a No DQ elimination tag team handicap match. That seems like a lot of stipulations. Heyman has the appearance of a man walking on death row. Punk adds to that sense by coming down the ramp with a kendo stick yelling “TIME TO DIE!” I’m just trying to get over why Axel needed to have two matches tonight even though the first one was pretty damn good. The match starts with Axel and Punk facing off while both wielding kendo sticks almost like light sabers while Heyman watching from the floor. Punk gets a few shots in on Curtis, then leaps through the ropes at Heyman, puts on JBL’s cowboy hat to tip it to the announcers, then drags Paul into the ring. He asks the crowd what he should do with a thumbs up and thumbs down gesture (of course the fans go with thumbs down) but Axel drops CM with a low blow before any damage can be done. Axel controls the match for about 30 seconds until Punk goes on the offensive again. Punk goes to attack Axel with a chair but Curtis meets him with a dropkick and wedges the chair into the corner. Axel then answers the fans wishes by propping up a table in the ring against the corner. They both take shots at suplexing each other through the table but Axel finally hits a snap suplex away from the table and applies a chin lock. Punk rolled away from a flying elbow, then shoved Axel into the chair in the corer to start his momentum turn. After a swinging neck breaker and a running high knee, Punk went for the flying elbow but Axel rolled out of the ring. CM tried to chase him by diving through the ropes but Curtis clocked him with a chair to stop him cold. Axel hits a running neck breaker and is in full control. Axel goes for the hangman’s facebuster but Punk escapes and tries to hit a GTS, only Curtis escapes that and grabs a kendo stick. Punk blocks it though, hits the GTS and makes Axel tap out with the Anaconda Vice to eliminate him, forcing Heyman into the match. Punk has to chase Heyman around the arena and through the crowd before finally catching him in the ring. Punk grabs a kendo stick as Heyman begs for mercy. Punk has none of it as he beats Paul with the kendo stick and calls for the GTS. He then thinks better of it and pulls handcuffs out of his boot, handcuffing Heyman’s arms behind his back. Punk hits every part of Heyman at least once with the kendo stick before telling Paul he is going to break his face and points the stick at it. Right before Punk can land the final blow, Ryback comes out of nowhere to spear Punk through the table in the corner. He then drags Heyman on top of Punk to give Paul the win via pinfall. This is the only way the match could have really ended, as it is too soon for Heyman/Punk to be over and there is no way anyone will believe Axel can beat Punk. I did not expect Ryback to step in and start a feud with Punk, but he’ll do the job. Punk was obviously furious after losing. Good match. Not great, but acceptable.

United States Championship now on the line as Dean Ambrose defends against DOLPH ZIGGLER. Ziggler earned the title shot on Smackdown after beating Ambrose via DQ. I love Ziggler way too much to want him to win the United States Championship. It will be a huge step back for him and completely take him out of the main event picture (if he isn’t already). If I ever see Jack Swagger I’m going to choke him out with Zeb Colter’s mustache. Ambrose tries to taunt Ziggler by doing his hair taunt so Dolph clocks him with a dropkick and hits him with 10 elbow drops. Ambrose comes back by catches Dolph going for a Lou Thesz press and slamming him down, slowing the pace with a chin lock. Dean keeps Dolph out of it with a superplex, but when he goes to the top rope again, Ziggler runs up to hit a big face buster. Dolph keeps the momentum going with a leaping splash and ten punches in the corner, followed by a jumping clothesline. Ziggler then spins out of a back breaker into a sleeper hold, that Dean breaks up with a back body drop. Ambrose dodges a fame-asser to roll up Dolph and hold the tights for two (show plenty of Dolph ass), but Ziggler quickly follows up by landing the fame-asser for two of his own. Ambrose ducks away from a Ziggler splash to hit his front facing DDT to beat Ziggler completely clean. Decent match.

We go right into the tag team title match, putting Rollins and Reigns against the Prime Time Players, who won the turmoil match to determine the number one contenders during the pre-show, taking out the Real Americans who had taken out the two previous teams. This match starts with Rollins dancing around Titus like Muhammad Ali before getting caught in the air and being tossed around like a rag doll. Seth turns the tide when Darren Young comes in but Young fights off both Rollins and Reigns to reclaim the momentum for the PTPs. Young chases Rollins around the ring toward Reigns, but Darren ducks under Roman, only to be dropped onto the top rope by Rollins, giving the Shield momentum. Young is unable to get to his corner until he pushes Reigns away. Rollins tags himself in and tries to take out Titus, but O’Neil dodges Seth, allowing Young to pancake him and get the hot tag on Titus, who lays out Rollins with a huge shoulder. He goes post to post attacking both members of the Shield, heaving Seth over his head. Rollins answers with a spinning enziguri but O’Neil answers with a big spine buster. O’Neil looked poised to finish the match when Reigns came out of nowhere with a spear (that’s what he does) to win the match for the Shield. Really good tag match. Prime Time Players are stepping up since their push.

Before Randy Orton defends the WWE Championship against Daniel Bryan, I should note that so far, no title has changed hands.

Very little frills before the WWE Championship match starts. Good. They don’t need it. Bryan wrestles Orton to the mat (can you imagine such a thing?) before Orton drops Daniel with a shoulder. Bryan responds with a running knee and starts working the arm. Bryan goes to the second rope but Orton comes back by dropping him down with a back breaker. Randy controls the pace from here, stomping out Bryan and dropping his mid section onto the top rope. Bryan tries to come back with some take downs by Orton keeps Daniel down with the Garvin stomp. Bryan finally starts a comeback with a back flip over Orton into a leaping clothesline, followed up by a missile dropkick and a hurricarrana. Bryan keeps the momentum with a dive through the ropes, then a missile dropkick off the top rope and another dive through the ropes. Bryan tries to go through the ropes one more time by Orton saw it coming and met him with a forearm. Randy then laid him out with a DDT off the apron, and Daniel only made it back in the ring on 9. Orton starts a YES chant and goes for the RKO, but Bryan escapes and pushes Orton into the referee (uh oh). With the ref down, Bryan tries to lock in the YES lock when a second ref gets in the ring. Randy escapes and hits a power slam for a two count. Orton goes for the second rope DDT but Bryan slides out and applies the YES Lock. Orton crawls to the rope and breaks the hold, but starts pummeling him with kicks in the corner. Orton dodges the missile dropkick this time however, and gets a two count on a lazy pin. Orton puts Bryan up for a superplex but Daniel slides away, putting Orton in the tree of woe and hitting the missile dropkick. Bryan then attempts a super german suplex but Orton fights him off. Before Randy can capitalize, Daniel gets right back on him in the corner and goes for a traditional superplex (if there is such a thing). Bryan locks his legs on the turnbuckle and pulls himself up after the move, hitting a flying headbutt for a two count. Orton managed to counter a follow up round house kick with a t-bone suplex. Orton then slid out of a mudslide pin only for Bryan to run back at him with a knee to the face. The referee then had a quick count to give Daniel Bryan the WWE Championship! I completely expected someone to come out and refute the count, but no, the show ends with Daniel Bryan holding the WWE Championship. I’m very surprised that they did this so soon (I thought they had at least another month left to drag this out). A very good match, although not quite as good as their match on Raw when they were both faces.

Bryan even defeated opposite momentum
Bryan even defeated opposite momentum

I feel like that sums up the entire show. Good, but not great. Nobody didn’t deliver, but nobody really killed it. I guess it fits this PPV and Bryan’s whole storyline to call this show a solid B+.

Goldust Steals The Show As Bryan Drops Orton On Raw

RAW_1059_Photo_158Last week, all I knew about Raw this week was that Edge was stopping by for the first time in forever to promote his new TV show. I was never a big Edge guy so whatever. But now I’m completely invested in tonight’s show because Dustin Rhodes is coming back as Goldust to face Randy Orton, with little brother Cody’s job on the line! I’m marking out already. The fact that this all went down on Twitter makes it even better!


The last time we saw GolDustin he was battling heel Cody at the Royal Rumble and I was giddy at the idea of a brother vs brother match at WrestleMania (not like these brothers). They had some legit chemistry (you’d think they were related or something). Alas, now Cody is a face and fired so we get Dustin in stepping up for a real match with all of the McMahon/Rhodes family drama added for some extra flair. There is no way this match can deliver on all the hype I built up for it in my head.



If there was ever a Raw I just wanted to fast forward through its this one. Being in Toronto, a fired up Edge takes the stage to a huge pop to kick things off. He is hosting a segment of the Cutting Edge, stating that Triple H invited him because he thought it would be “good for business” to have a reunion with his former partner, Randy Orton (not Christian, who is out with a concussion). Edge says he doesn’t want to do that because Orton is boring and is now just a corporate lackey. Instead, Edge has Daniel Bryan come out for the interview. Big chanting for Bryan (we can expect a lot of that from the Toronto crowd, the best there is in my opinion), who talks about how Triple H told him he’d get hurt if he didn’t give up his title shot. Daniel says the more he gets beaten up, the sweeter it will be when he beats Orton at Night of Champions this Sunday. Edge says he sees a lot of himself in Bryan, sharing the same passion for the business, and although he isn’t sure he can beat Orton, he does think he deserves a fair shot to try. Edge starts to pump up Bryan when Randy Orton comes out to diss Canada and make fun of Edge for having his body break down so early. Edge responds be continuing to call Orton and puppet and calling out Triple H for having no eye for talent (there is a little truth there). Soon after being mentioned, Triple H comes out asking Edge to say what he has to say to his face. Since Edge doesn’t have to worry about being fired, he has no problem telling him he has no eye for talent, thinking that Edge, Jericho and even John Cena would not make it. Triple H responds by promoting Edge’s show as he was obligated to do, and then saying that while he was wrong about people like Cena and Jericho, he was right about Edge being a failure (huh?). He adds that all of the Rated-R Superstar stuff never drew a dime (oooh). Triple H said he’d give Bryan to prove his worth by facing Dean Ambrose, and since Ambrose will have the Shield in his corner, Trips is letting Bryan have the Big Show in his corner (we know how that’ll end up). Edge then continues to make fun of Triple H for marrying into power and being more of a dick than a dictator. Since he can’t do anything to Edge, Triple H has the Shield beat up Christian and drag him out to the ramp (effectively writing him off until his concussion subsides). Edge runs out to his aid to end a pretty good opening.

Backstage, Edge is getting in Triple H’s face when the Shield gets between him. Edge says he wishes the doctors would clear him so he can do something about what he did. Triple H says the doctors will never clear him because of his neck and spine issues, then ordering Edge to get out of his arena. At the threat of having the Shield force him out, Edge agrees to leave (at least for now).

Curtis Axel with Paul Heyman out for the first match of the night against Kofi Kingston. This is a rematch from Smackdown where Kofi won with an SOS (when was the last time that happened?). With “CM Punk” chants going, Kofi and Curtis swap moves, with Axel grabbing the rope to break an SOS pin attempt. Meanwhile, Paul Heyman hasn’t shaved since last week and looks like he’s ready to crack. Axel gets Kingston in the corner and starts bashing him with knees. He doesn’t back off when the ref calls for it and the ref has no choice but to disqualify Axel, giving Kofi another win. This infuriates Heyman, who knows that if the same thing happens in his and Axel’s handicapped match against Punk, that Paul would have to face CM in the ring. Axel says that won’t happen and goes to finish off Kofi, who bounces back to hit a Trouble in Paradise to knock Curtis out. Heyman is not exactly thrilled.

Backstage again, Heyman is being helped to the trainer’s room by Axel and a ref. Apparently he slipped on some water, and this looks like an attempt to back out of his match this Sunday.

Over in the locker room, Booker T is talking to Big Show about what happened last week, when Triple H forced him to knock out Daniel Bryan. Booker says he would have done the same thing if his job was on the line, and tells Big Show not to be a hero by letting his pride get in the way. Booker is acting like the biggest sell out of the whole group and it hasn’t even been turned into a story. Big Show says “pride is all I’ve got left” and walks out.

DOLPH ZIGGLER in the ring next and will likely be fed to the Wyatts. Rumor has it that Dolph rubbed some people the wrong way with some comments he made in an interview a while ago, leading to him being completely buried by every dominant heel possible. Can’t say I’m totally surprised as Ziggler talks a lot about his spot on the roster and who he thinks he’s better than (hint: everybody). Bray Wyatt immediately drops Dolph with a power slam, and after taking dropkick, Wyatt takes him down again with a diving shoulder and is dominating. Ziggler dodges Bray running at him in the corner and follows up with a splash, a neck breaker and a fame-asser for a two count. The rest of the Wyatt’s then get on the apron, and Bray uses the distraction to splash Dolph in the corner and finish him off with Sister Abigail for the win. I still love the characters, but I’m not seeing enough ring work from Bray to be overly impressed. The tools are there, they just aren’t being utilized.

Hour two starts with Paul Heyman hobbling into the ring on crutches with Axel and a “doctor.” He says he does not believe in the Canadian health care system (nice) which is why he brings his physician when he travels outside the country, who confirms that Heyman tore his ACL and can not compete on Sunday (boom). Paul says he was looking forward to teaming up with Axel and regrets not being able to beat CM Punk. Heyman says he is leaving for New York and will be back as soon as possible. Before he exits, Brad Maddox brings out Doc Sampson, the WWE’s on site doctor, to examine Paul in the ring (sure, what exam can’t be in a public arena). Brad points out that only a WWE doctor can declare someone as medically unable to compete. The crowd chants “this is awkward” and Sampson moves Heyman’s leg around while Paul winces and yells. The doctor determines that he is fine (no kidding), setting Heyman off on Maddox for bringing out the doctor. CM Punk then makes runs out with a kendo stick, causing Heyman to run for his life as CM takes out Axel, leaving him alone with Paul’s doctor. Punk acts like he is going to allow him to leave, but then beats him to a pulp with the kendo stick. That hardly seemed necessary but it was pretty funny.

This looks like something out of a sitcom
This looks like something out of a sitcom

AJ is at the announce table as Brie Bella, Natalya and Naomi take on Aksana, Alicia Fox and Layla. Naomi hits the rear view on Aksana but Layla turns the tide for the heels. AJ meanwhile is talking about how the Total Divas girls are obsessed with her after she called them out two weeks ago. Cole asks if she is jealous about the attention they get, to which AJ responded by saying she only cares about the Divas Championship which is why she had the date she won it tattooed on her neck. Lawler asks if she has any other tattoos, and AJ told him she is 26 and therefore too old for him (truth hurts). She then says she declined Total Divas because she was busy main eventing Raw, which JBLthe announcers doesn’t seem to remember (how convenient). Anyway the match ends with Natalya tapping out Alicia with the Sharpshooter (Canadian pop) and AJ holds the title up with the Total Divas staring her down from the ring. So is Brie a face now? Doesn’t matter, she didn’t have much to do in the match.

We come back from break in the middle of R-Truth rapping before his match against Alberto Del Rio. Truth starts to take control by clotheslining Del Rio over the top rope (after two attempts) and following up with a dive over the top rope to ADR on the floor. Alberto bounces back with an enziguri as Truth was coming back in. The crowd takes to chanting for the announcers as Del Rio controls the match. “RVD” chants starts Truth’s comeback with a spinning kick and a facebuster for two, but “Undertaker” chants pop in as ADR turns the tide for good with a swinging neck breaker. He hits the side kick and the cross arm breaker to secure the win the via submission in a match that was more memorable for what the crowd was chanting than anything in the ring.

The preshow match for NoC has just been announced and it looks pretty interesting. Five teams will square if in what is being called a “Tag Team Turmoil” match to determine the number one contender for the Shield’s tag team championship. Two teams will start, and after one team is eliminated a new team will enter. I think I like this. It incorporates everyone without having the ring be too crowded. The teams are Tons of Funk (there, I said the name), 3MB, The Real Americans, the Usos and the Prime Time Players (also known as the not so ambiguously gat duo).

Zeb Colter in the ring to say exactly what you think he would say about Canada, but his “We the People” chant is cut off by Santino! The Italian snake man is back from his injury/finishing off his wrestling school and is taking on Antonio Cesaro, who immediately welcomes Santino back with a dropkick. After a brief comeback attempt from Santino, Cesaro put him in a giant swing for 25 turns. Not the 100 turns he did back in Chikara but it still got a “holy s#!t” from the crowd. Santino then ducked a clothesline with a split to go into the hip toss, but Cesaro kicked the Cobra away and hit an uppercut. Antonio then just started dominating Santino (specifically with a running uppercut in the corner) but couldn’t get the pin. Finally, Santino counters a punch by pulling off a hip tos and converting it into a  crucifix-like pin to get the surprise win. The crowd was chanting “maple syrup.” Whatever. When used right, Santino can be pretty fun and even a good underdog character. We’ll see what they do with him.

Love the giant swing
Love the giant swing

Damien Sandow in the ring next to take on the Miz, who starts of in control with his leaping clothesline into a flying axe handle smash as the crowd showers him with boos. Sandow ducks under a boot to toe drag Miz onto the second rope and take charge. Damien always seems on the verge of flipping off the crowd when he hits the elbow of disdain. Miz comes back with a knee lift and a boot to the face as he starts to work the leg and the crowd chants “you can’t wrestle.” This is when Fandango decides to make his grand entrance to a big pop from the crowd. He distracts Miz with his flamboyance, allowing Sandow to roll up Miz from behind for the win. At least this match brought us the biggest Fandango pop since the day after ‘Mania.

Backstage, Renee is talking to Goldust, who is speaking out of character about his match against Randy Orton. He says he was always the screw up of the family, and for him to get so many chances in the WWE only for Cody to get fired the way he did is ridiculous. Triple H then pops up to remind Dustin of all the pressure on his shoulders, with Cody and his new wife (they aren’y actually getting married for another week or so) watching at home with Cody’s job on the line. Goldust said he is not messing around. OOOOOOOH.

Using the wrong fingers
Using the wrong fingers

Bryan versus Ambrose may be closing the show, but Goldust/Orton is the main event and is next. It’s really weird watch Dustin in the full outfit but completely out of character. It doesn’t look right. Dustin does do a little caressing to play to the crowd before trading blows with Orton in the middle of the ring. The fans are very into it as every shot landed gets a reaction one way or the other. “You still got it” chants come down as Goldust hits a clean and quick sequence of moves. Randy starts to take charge but Dustin takes it right back with a roll up into a series of chops. Orton uses a thumb to the eye to get back on the offensive, laying into him in the corner and Garvin stomping him. Goldust then evades a power slam and sets up Shattered Dreams (kick to the nuts for you youngin’s) but Randy rolled out of the ring to avoid it. Back from break, Orton is in control again until his face is planted into the steel steps. Goldust loses the momentum on the apron however as Randy drops his throat on the ropes and whips him into the steel post. Orton hits a back body drop onto the barrier outside and some more stompin’ inside. Goldust then comes out of nowhere to reverse a hip toss with a bulldog and gain momentum. He hits 10 punches in the corner and whips him toward the ref. Orton stops himself from colliding, but then allows Dustin to roll him up for two and a half. Randy comes back after the kickout to hit the second rope DDT. Randy gets a “YES” chant going to mock Bryan as he sets up for an RKO. Dustin turned the RKO into Cross Rhodes (just like Cody did) but only get two (just like Cody did). Goldust then misses with a right hand and falls into an RKO to give Orton then win and keep Cody fired. Really entertaining match that paced itself well, had the crowd hooked from the start and had a good finish. I enjoyed it a lot. Afterwards, Orton used a play on words to tell Goldust that his “dream” of getting Cody his job back has been “shattered” just like he’ll shatter Bryan’s dream of winning the WWE Championship (get it? because Goldust’s move is Shattered Dreams).

Backstage, Stephanie is talking to Goldust about how it is his fault that Cody does not have a job. She calls him a loser for letting his entire family down, and instructs him to join Cody on the unemployment line. Stephanie sends him off by telling him to say hi to his dad Dusty for her. We then basically watch Dustin walk off, presumably into a wall as I didn’t see an exit that way.

Rob Van Dam in the ring next to square off against Ryback in a battle of guys with the same singlet artist, with Alberto Del Rio walking out to call RVD a washed up loser. He says Ricardo belongs with RVD because he’s a loser, just like Del Rio belongs with the World Heavyweight Championship. Del Rio and Van Dam keep telling each other what initials everyone will be chanting. It’ll either be “RVD” or “ADR.” WTF? Rob starts off strong with some jumping kicks to take Ryback off his feet, but Ryback powers out of a monkey flip to gain control. He tosses him around for a while until RVD hits a spinning kick, landing rolling thunder for a two count. He follows up with a front flip and a side kick off the top rope. Van Dam goes up again for the frog splash but Ryback rolls out of the ring. Rob leaps to the outside but hits the barrier when Ryback moves away. Ryback then drives RVD crotch first into the ring post a couple of times, giving Van Dam a silly win via DQ. Ryback then hit RVD with Shell Shock in the ring. It’s a shame because I think this was the best Ryback has looked in a while. This match could have been really good if given the proper time.

Backstage, Stephanie McMahon is telling Big Show that, even though he is supposed to be in Daniel Bryan’s corner he is not to lay a finger on the Shield because it’s best for business. It’s a good thing that the PPV is this Sunday because it’s getting pretty forced. Everything is what’s “best for business” Why did you hit him? It’s best for business. Why did you put swiss cheese on that sandwich? It’s best for business. Why do all of these wrestlers act like the WWE is the only place in the world they can earn money? It’s best for business. It’s been spammed to death. Big Show lets his frustration out by throwing a 20 year old TV on the floor.

Main event time as Dean Ambrose (with the Shield) takes on Daniel Bryan (with Big Show glued to a chair). They start fast exchanging kicks and punches in opposite corners until Dean slides out to regroup. Back in the ring, Daniel starts to control things with running knees and kicks to the back. Bryan starts working the arm while Show cheers him on. After a sloppy mexican surfboard, Bryan hits a jumping clothesline and goes to the top rope for a flying headbutt. Seth Rollins gets on the apron to distract Daniel so that Dean can knock him onto the outside barrier. Ambrose is in control coming back from commercial and Big Show has a “YES” chant going. Bryan dodges Ambrose running at him in the corner leading to a pair of missile dropkicks and a hurricarrana off the top rope for two. Ambrose ducks under a roundhouse kick and tries to apply and Boston Crab but Bryan counters into a YES Lock that is broken up when Dean reaches the ropes. Ambrose tries to prop Bryan up on the top rope but Daniel slides out and puts Dean in the tree of woe, where he tags Ambrose in the face with a missile dropkick. Bryan then lands a german suplex from the top rope for a two count and the crown is chanting “This is awesome.” Ambrose dodges Bryan coming at him, sending Daniel out of the ring. Reigns tries to spear him but Daniel moves away, sending Roman into the steps. Daniel then dodges Rollins jumping off the apron to send him into the announce table. Ambrose then takes out Bryan from behind and delivers a DDT into the arena floor. Ambrose brings him back in the ring where he only gets a two count. A frustrated Ambrose asks why Bryan doesn’t just stay down, and Daniel uses a quick small package to pin Ambrose for the victory. Great match as always from both men.

You smell like leather
You smell like leather

After the match, Randy Orton runs out to face Bryan, who dives through the ropes at him. Bryan is quickly ambushed by the Shield and once again the Bryan beatdown is on. Eventually the Big Show has enough at takes a chair to go help Daniel but then thinks better of it and turns his back, letting the heels do their thing. The Shield then throw Bryan back in the ring where Orton joins him. Randy points at Big Show before dropping him with an RKO as Big Show walks back up the ramp. Show is then stopped by Triple H and Stephanie, who tell him to be a professional and knock him out, just like he did last week. Show grits his teeth and gets in the ring. Show refuses to do it when Orton gets in his face, telling him that whatever Triple H says, goes. Orton picks up Bryan but Show won’t pull the trigger, so again Randy gets in Big Show’s face. He tells him that as the face of the WWE he has the authority to tell Show what to do, and orders him to knock him out. Show says he’s the boss, and as Orton turns around a now revived Bryan knees him in the face. The show ends with Big Show walking up the ramp as Bryan holds the WWE Championship over Orton. Cool segment that should technically lead to Big Show being fired, and sadly puts the opposite momentum rule for PPV’s in Orton’s favor (who I figured would win anyway).

So we’re now five days from Night of Champions and we only have four matches on the card (five if you include the preshow). I imagine the winner of the tag team turmoil will face Rollins and Reigns on the show, leaving United States Champion Dean Ambrose as the only title holder without a match. Perhaps the rest of the holes will be filled on Smackdown. While there isn’t a single match that I have as a complete must see, I do appreciate having a drastically more diverse card than we’ve had in the last year, with Axel, Orton and RVD in place of Cena, Lesnar and Henry. I’m cautiously optimistic about this one.

Cody Rhodes Fired As Sobbing Big Show KO’s Daniel Bryan On Raw

RAW_1058_Photo_120-1Two weeks from Night of Champions I was expecting things to be relatively status quo. The card looked basically set and all they had to do was get to the PPV injury free.

But they couldn’t do it.

Over the weekend, Mark Henry pulled his hamstring at a house show and his status is very much up in the air. Hammys are nothing to laugh at and can take a while to fully heal. While Mark doesn’t do a whole lot of running in his matches, it only takes one bad step to really do some damage. He was set to team up with the Big Show against the Shield, but it looks like they will hae to find a replacement (anyone but Khali!).

This week’s show starts with Triple H in the ring (with the Shield protecting him) to again introduce Randy Orton as the face of the WWE. Orton says his responsibility is to protect the status of the WWE, and to disrespect him disrespects the company and yadda yadda yadda, Bryan defacing Orton’s escalade meant defacing the WWE so he pummeled him on Smackdown and spray painted “NO” on his stomach, in a scene that looked straight out of the NWO playbook. Randy then asks the crowd if he should face Daniel Bryan at NoC. Crowd says yes, he says no. Same goes for Orton asking if Bryan has a chance to beat him and will he ever be more than a B+ player. Triple H steps in to say that it is his responsibility to give the fans what they want and protect the superstars. With that in mind he worries about the health of Daniel Bryan, as he keeps getting himself into situations where he gets into trouble. Trips then compares Bryan to Doink the Clown as being very popular, but not being able to become the champion because it was bad for business. He then suggests bringing back the cruiserweight title or the European title to give Bryan something to shoot for.

This brings Daniel out himself, who says he’s proud to be compares to Doink, but doubts Doink ever got as big of a reaction as him, and that Triple H and Orton are the only clowns he sees (OOOH). Bryan then says he doesn’t blame them for wanted Bryan to give up his title shot at NoC, specifically Orton, who he calls out for being completely out of the title picture until it was handed to him and calls Stephanie more masculine than him. Orton asks how many times Bryan has to get triple power bombed and punched in the face before he realizes he can’t win. Daniel responds by saying Orton doesn’t know what it’s like to be told he wasn’t good enough, which is what Bryan has gone through his whole career. It’s reminding me a lot of CM Punk’s rise to the top, being the unconventional top guy that crawled to get his spot. Bryan says Orton doesn’t know what it’s like because he has been handed everything, and that Triple H and the Shield will always be around because they know Randy can’t beat him one on one. Triple H says Bryan shouldn’t be mad at him, but at Big Show instead, who stands idle while Bryan gets beaten to a pulp despite having an “iron clad” contract. Well I’m glad somebody finally mentioned it! Trips decides to allow Bryan to get revenge by facing Big Show in the main event tonight. Seriously, Big Show can’t be fired. So why can’t he help?

Backstage, Cody is talking to Triple H and Randy Orton about Bryan. Cody says Orton shouldn’t be afraid of Daniel Bryan and having Orton/Bryan for the title is what is “best for business.” Triple H says he’s the one making those decisions, brings up how he and Orton were not invited to Rhodes’ upcoming wedding, and puts Cody in a match against Orton tonight, all but saying that Rhodes will be fired if he loses.

The Miz takes on Fandango in the opening match of the show and they quickly go back and forth until Miz takes control on the outside. After throwing Fandango back in the ring, Miz blocks Summer Rae from slapping him, then spins her away. Summer is furious that she was forced into a dance move and it is all Miz right now ‘Dango turned the tide during the break but Miz came back shortly after returning. Miz missed on a jumping clothesline in the corner, and Fandango followed with a slingshot leg drop on a suspended Miz, but Fandango appeared to injure his knee. Miz quickly capitalized but clumsily applying the figure four leglock, giving Miz the victory via submission. I suppose that works as a false finish which give more reason for these two to continue the feud. At least if they are facing each other they can’t ruin anyone else on the roster.

Backstage, Booker T is talking to Bryan about being to good to risk his career by fighting the company. He urges Daniel to give up his title match to save his career. Bryan says this isn’t about money, but about his life. Booker says they can ruin his career, and that they extend much farther than the arenas (is this the mafia?). Booker says he’s behind him, but if I didn’t know better I’d say it felt like Triple H made Booker try to talk Bryan out of taking his rematch.

Overselling much?
Overselling much?

DOLPH ZIGGLER in the ring next to face a mystery opponent. Dolph looks toward the stage when he is ambushed by Dean Ambrose from behind. He drives Dolph into the ring post and tells him to respect the business when suddenly Ryback’s music hits. So Ryback is the mystery opponent and Ziggler is staggered. Dolph throws a quick elbow but Ryback quickly delivers a belly to belly suplex. Ziggler gets tossed around while  Ryback gets “you can’t wrestle” chants. Ryback goes for the meathook clothesline but Dolph meets him with a dropkick. After taking a splash in the corner, Ryback bounces back to hit the meathook and finish off Ziggler with Shell Shock.

Backstage, Brad Maddox has informed Triple H and Stephanie that the Big Show is refusing to fight Daniel Bryan. Steph decides to take matters into her own hands and heads to the ring. There, she calls out the Big Show as someone who helped her out when she was traveling with the WWE as a kid. She gives him a big hug and tell him he knows he is broke due to all of his investments went belly up, and that if he doesn’t perform he is in breach of his “iron clad” contract (well that explains it). Steph says that he can’t have much more left in the tank and doesn’t have much of a future, even dropping the bomb that large people don’t live as long as other people and he needs to think of his family (DAMN!). So now Big Show is crying as Steph says the only person he’s hurting more than himself is her. Steph leaves the ring and the crowd chants “You’ll be okay” at Show. That may be my favorite chant ever.

During the break a commercial broke the news that Edge will be back on Raw next week. I imagine this has to do with Christian somehow but either way it’s pretty cool.

We come back to Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal of 3MB facing the Prime Time Players. I’m glad that they aren’t making a big deal out of it, but it is getting weird how they haven’t said anything about Darren Young coming out. I mean this is a company that brings up every bit of personal information they can discover. We know AJ didn’t have a boyfriend until she was 20, Daniel Bryan was a vegan, John Cena is dating Nikki Bella after getting a divorce and Kane is a huge republican. Why can’t Michael Cole at some point say “Darren Young, the first openly gay superstar”? It’s not taking advantage of a story, it’s just stating a fact. Anyway, Titus starts off in charge, stomping Slater while blowing the whistle. 3MB comes back with Young in the ring, Darren gets O’Neil back in on a hot tag and drops Mahal with a side kick. The pin was supposed to be broken up by Slater but Heath was a beat too late and the ref had to just slow the count. Titus then hit an exaggerated spinebuster to win a strictly midcard match. This should have been on Superstars.

Backstage, Paul Heyman is pissed at Brad Maddox for constantly putting Heyman in danger at the hands of CM Punk. First by allowing the fans to vote Punk to be able to get his hands on Heyman by beating Axel, then by putting Heyman and Axel in a match against Punk that essentially guarantees Heyman being physically engaged by Punk. Triple H suddenly pops up to mention how he approved the match because he has watched Heyman weasel his way out of being beaten up and wants to see if he can find a way out of this too. If he doesn’t, then Heyman will get beat up by Punk so either way Triple H wins. Very face-like promo by Trips. I guess he is a situational face now.

Time for Cody Rhodes to fight for his job against WWE Champion Randy Orton. Orton controls things early, dropping Cody on the top rope and tossing him out of the ring, but Rhodes fights back by throwing Orton into the steep steps and working the arm in the ring.  From here, Cody plays the aggressor as Randy fights back only to have his momentum stopped by a relentless Rhodes. Orton slows Cody down with a shot to the eye with Cody coming back with punches in the corner. Randy slides out however and hits a back breaker on Cody coming down from the second rope. The match is very much over with the crowd, as the career of Cody being on the line is making it all about him. Orton finally takes charge as the rest of the roster watches in the back, showing support for Rhodes. Cody comes back again with a springboard dropkick that a gets a big reaction from a guy dressed like Dusty Rhodes in the front row. Rhodes then goes for a Disaster Kick that Randy ducks under, only to be caught with it when Cody goes for it a second time. That gets a two count and Rhodes goes for a backflip splash that Orton sidesteps from. Randy hits the second rope DDT but Cody counters the RKO with Cross Rhodes for two and a half. Rhodes goes for Cross Rhodes again but Randy moves away and Cody tweaks his knee. Orton takes advantage of the injury and hits an RKO to finish off Rhodes in a very good match that, most importantly, had no interference. I was originally thinking there would be a plan for Triple H and Orton to face John Cena and Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series (meaning Cena would come back early). But I think the steps are being taken to develop a match with Randy Orton and the Shield taking on Bryan, Big Show, Ziggler and Cody. After the match, Triple H comes out to congratulate Cody on showing so much heart, then firing him on the spot because he needs winners. Just days before his wedding too! I imagine he’ll be gone just long enough to have a wedding and a honeymoon. If played properly, this match could be the one that really pushes Cody up the card.

Eventually, all of Randy Orton's moves will come off the second rope
Eventually, all of Randy Orton’s moves will come off the second rope

CM Punk walks out to the ring next with a kendo stick, like the one Paul Heyman beat him with last week. Punk promises that he is done making empty threats and even talking as he is having a hard time figuring out what he is supposed to say next after taking the beating he took last week. He says everything that needs to be said by all parties involved has been said. Punk says he doesn’t want to wrestle, he wants to fight, specifically fighting Paul Heyman and he’ll go through Curtis Axel to do it. Instead of talking about Heyman and Axel, Punk has a message for all of the fans of his in the arena and watching on TV. In thirteen days at Night of Champions, he guarantees that he will eliminate Axel and get his hands on Heyman. He promises that anyone buying the PPV will see a side of him they have never seen before. He wraps it up by stating that while Heyman said Punk broke his heart, in two weeks he is going to break his face. Like I said before, there is nothing else to do here but have the match.

Backstage, Big Show is telling Bryan that he didn’t want this fight but he is just doing what he has to do. Daniel says he doesn’t care what Big Show has to do and is just worried about himself. Big Show is worried about being fired like Cody, and doesn’t want his friendship with Bryan to be affected (since when are they friends?). Bryan says Show should be worried, because Bryan is going to beat him just like he did to win the World Heavyweight Championship (exactly!).

Divas title match preview
Divas title match preview

Triple Threat Divas match next between Natalya, Naomi and Brie for the right to face AJ for the Divas title. AJ is even at the announce table for this. AJ talks trash about all the Total Divas women while the ladies all switch places in quick one on one bursts. It looks like Naomi might be getting the win on Natalya when AJ runs in the ring and attacks Naomi, ending the match with a DQ (even though that technically shouldn’t happen in a triple threat match). All of the Divas then decide to beat up AJ for what she said about them last week, and AJ is left flat in the ring while the other ladies leave together. So now AJ still doesn’t have an opponent, and I feel like there could be a fatal four way for the belt. If only that was as hot as it sounds. Stephanie would make that official during a commercial.

Damien Sandow, who I could have sworn would face Cody again at Night of Champions, is in the ring to face Rob Van Dam in a rematch from Smackdown. Sandow attacks first but RVD comes back with a spinning kick out of the corner. Rob tries a hurricaranna next but Damien catches him and drops RVD with a power bomb. Sandow maintains control with a chinlock. Van Dam fights back with a springboard side kick and is about to go for rolling thunder when Alberto Del Rio comes out to distract RVD. Sandow takes advantage by attack from behind and he regains control. Sandow yells things like “not so fast, Rob” which is exactly why I love him. He’s like an old school villain. He might as well put on a black coat and tie RVD’s wife to train tracks. With Alberto still watching from the stage, RVD slips into a small package which only gets a two count, but starts his turn around. Van Dam hits rolling thunder and goes for the frog splash, but Sandow pulls him from behind to roll him up for two. Van Dam then drops Damien’s throat on the top rope, hits the frog splash and wins the match. The roll up near fall gave just enough potential for a surprise finish to make me really enjoy the it. Del Rio just standing idle on the stage really speaks to how little story there is left to tell in the feuds.

Backstage, Cody Rhdoes, now fired, is free to speak his mind and bitches about how for 20 years the McMahons have been dumping on the Rhdoes (semi true). He mentions how Dusty dominated in Florida only to be buried and turned into a joke in the WWF, how Dustin was turned into Goldust which ruined his career in the long run, and finally how he is getting married and has to find a way to support his family. After being asked whether or not he told his wife, Cody just walks away. See ya in a few weeks, Cody.

Main event time as the Big Show is set to face Daniel Bryan with the entire roster forced to watch from the stage. I really don’t see what the big deal is here. They are supposed to have a match. Was there protocol I didn’t know about where people only wrestled people they hated? This is bogus. Big Show is afraid to fight Bryan while all Daniel wants to do is fight. Bryan jumps at Show and Show just keeps throwing Bryan aside, trying to calm him down. This only gets Daniel angrier, as he attacks Show’s legs and starts drilling him with missile dropkicks. Big Show finally starts fighting back, saying that he warned him before hitting a few chops and a body slam. This would really be a great time for Big Show to turn heel and really go after Bryan. Instead, Show keeps dropping Bryan and trying to tell him that he doesn’t want to hurt him, while Bryan can’t stop attacking. Daniel gets him down and goes for a roundhouse kick but Show catches it and sets up for a chokeslam. Daniel gets out of the way and hits a DDT. Bryan then goes for a dive off the top rope, but Show catches him with a spear in mid air. Big Show sets up for a KO Punch but he can’t pull the trigger and leaves the ring. Triple H and the Shield come out to make him finish the match but Show refuses and goes up the ramp. Trips then has the Shield run in and finish off Bryan themselves. Big Show runs in but Triple H stops him, warning him that he’ll be fired if he interferes. After a triple power bomb on Daniel leaves Big Show in agony, Triple H orders him to give Bryan a KO Punch. Show refuses and tries to leave, when Stephanie comes out again, telling Show to do it for his family. Show gets back in the ring and looks like he is going to go after Triple H when Steph gets in his way with one last warning. Big Show finally delivers the KO Punch on Bryan and heads up the ramp as Steph and Trips tell him he did the right thing (and the crowd chants “you sold out”). Randy Orton then comes out to stand over Bryan as the show comes to an end.

I feel like I spent the entire three hours staring at this face
I feel like I spent the entire three hours staring at this face

The whole finish to the show was just painful to watch, and I can’t decide if it’s from good storytelling or just things dragging out too much. This is yet another show that ends with Daniel Bryan on his back and each time they spend more and more time doing it. I was thinking that Show hitting Triple H could lead to the rumored match between the two down the road, especially since Show likely can’t have the tag match with Mark Henry since he is injured, but I guess that will have to wait. For now we just have to see how Ziggler/Ambrose and Reigns and Reigns versus anybody will get put together with just one Raw before Night of Champions.

Punk To Face Axel/Heyman As Bryan Is Attacked Again On Raw

RAW_1057_Photo_078There is plenty going on as the WWE heads toward Night of Champions. It’s the start of life without John Cena (at least for a few months), Daniel Bryan is taking on the McMahon family in a PG version of the Austin/McMahon feud, and a bunch of other plot lines that have nothing to do with Total Divas. Before getting into Raw though, let’s get into this:

Ted DiBiase Jr. leaving the WWE is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. He is not a regular on TV and has been essentially buried on the roster. However, for him to choose not to resign with the WWE and not the WWE choosing not to resign him is interesting to me. He didn’t get a big TV exit. He posted this video from his personal account. He also didn’t seem bitter toward the WWE about his stock falling since his 2008 debut with Cody Rhodes. I get the impression that his reasons for leaving are completely genuine, and that he is just a guy who wanted to get out while he was ahead so that he can live a “normal” life with his family before his body started to betray him. So long Ted. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

Raw opens up with Triple H in the ring with the Shield ringside acting as security. He repeats how Triple H screwing Bryan out of the WWE Championship at Summerslam was business, but that the attack on Bryan last week on Raw was personal. He said Bryan made it personal when he insulted Triple H and Stephanie. Trips says he is willing to set his personal feelings aside for business is Bryan can do the same. He then talks about how ratings are up lately, giving credit to Orton being the new face of the company and calls Randy out to the ring. Trips is so happy with him that he bought Randy a brand new Escalade (in stores now!). Orton thanks Triple H for the gift and recognizing that he is the only one suited to be the face of the WWE. He is about to check out the car when Daniel Bryan takes the stage. He thanks the fans for supporting him despite not being a conventional “superstar.” He also thanks Cena for the opportunity for giving him the match when someone like Triple H never would have, and Triple H for finally proving that his view on what a champion should be is just as misguided as Vince. He calls out Trips for going from the leather jacket wearing rebel to the suit wearing sell out. Bryan then says he’s going to be the WWE Champion at Night of Champions. Triple H mocks him by singing “When You Wish Upon A Star” and calls Bryan a “B” at best. He decides to let Daniel prove his worth (like he hasn’t had to do that before) by putting him against the Shield in a gauntlet match. First he’ll take on Rollins, then Ambrose and finally Reigns. Triple H says he is putting Bryan in this match because he believes in him, and it is best for business. Pretty good open.

The first match of the night puts Cody Rhodes against Fandango with Damien Sandow at the announce table. They go back and forth for a bit until the Miz comes out to ‘Dango’s music while dressed like Fandango, dancing around with Rosa Mendez. This distracts Fandango of course, so Cody sneaks up behind him and rolls him up for a quick win. Fandango gets pissed and goes after Rhodes, who is then also attacked by Sandow. Miz runs in to help Cody and the faces toss the heels out of the ring. Brad Maddox then steps out to stop the ruckus and make a tag match putting Sandow and Fandango against Miz and Cody, which starts right now!


I cringe whenever someone gets involved with the Miz. He’s like reverse Midas for wrestling. Everything he touches turns to crap. Sandow and Fandango work Rhodes over for a while. After a double clothesline, Cody tags in Miz (still wearing Fandango’s gear) who hits Damien with a double axe handle smash of the top rope while Rosa jumps around like it’s the first time she’s ever been a face. I miss sexy hip turning Rosa. Anyway, Miz hits the leaping clothesline in the corner and starts to work Sandow’s leg. In the process, Miz kicks Fandango off the apron and ‘Dango decides to head back up the ramp. Left alone, Sandow walks into a Skull Crushing Finale and Miz gets the win. Fandango correctly says his name to end the segment a pretty bleh match.

Backstage, Josh Matthews is talking to Christian about Triple H’s actions since Summerslam. Christian says he knows that the Shield gets put on anyone who criticizes Triple H. Orton then steps in to talk trash going into their match later tonight. Christian replies that he knows Triple H likes to use sledgehammers, but it appears that he has found a new tool. That means Randy Orton is a tool! Oh man Christian has so much charisma. Wait, I get it now!

CM Punk takes on Curtis Axel next, with a stipulation involving Paul Heyman to be added on by the WWE Universe. 81% vote to have Heyman face Punk one on one if Punk wins, beating out Paul being banned or being guest referee of the match. So now Punk is giddy as he takes charge with some mat wrestling. Backstage before the match, Axel told Heyman not to worry because Punk can’t out wrestle him. Heyman looked around like he knew CM was the better man. As for the match, Punk took things outside when for some reason, he took off toward the stage to attack Heyman. Axel went after him of course, taking control of the match. Honestly, where is the logic there? Punk knows that if he wins the match he gets Heyman in the ring, so why go after him mid-match? Anyway Punk hits a running high knee and goes for the flying elbow when Curtis rolls out of the ring. Punk then keeps the pressure on by diving through the ropes into him. Curtis takes control again with a lariat and a dropkick, then mocking Punk as Heyman makes his way ringside. Axel then misses with the swinging neck breaker and Punk hits a neck breaker of his own, followed by a flying elbow for two. Axel then slips out of the GTS, hitting the swinging neck breaker for a two count of his own. Axel then looks like he’s going to go for the Perfectplex when Punk pops up to hit a GTS out of nowhere, winning the match and the chance to face Heyman one on one. Paul tries to run away when security forces him into the ring. Punk finally has his hands on Heyman when Curtis hits Punk from behind with a low blow. Axel then handcuffs Punk’s hands behind his back so that Heyman can smack him around. Punk fights back by hitting Axel with a roundhouse kick and sweeping Heyman to the ground. Punk only gets a few more kicks in however before Curtis attacks him again from behind, this time with a chair. Axel then handed Heyman a kendo stick, and after Punk said to “make it count,” Heyman beat him with it while telling Punk that he loved him and fathered him. Curtis Axel just happens to be the guy Punk is facing in the ring, but the real feud of course is Punk versus Heyman. Heyman looks legitimately upset and betrayed every time he attacks Punk, making this so much more interesting to watch that any similar storyline before it. Heyman was practically crying by the end of this match. The in ring stuff was fine, but the storytelling was fantastic. Punk left the ring with a bloody and bruise back. Still looks better than Sheamus’ leg.

So much emotion
So much emotion

Total Divas plug match as Jojo announces Natalya (with the Funkadactyles) facing Brie (with Nikki and Eva Marie). Brie has control early and drops a sloppy stomp. Natalya then counters with a swinging power slam and applies the Sharpshooter. Eva Marie distracts the ref so that Nikki can pull Brie out of the ring. Brie gets back in, hits a face buster and wins the match. Whatever. AJ then comes out (thank god) to make fun of the show (while also promoting it). She calls them all cheap and expendable useless women who turned to reality because they aren’t good enough actresses. The Bellas keep telling her to say it to their face, which is weird because AJ is right in front of them. AJ says she worked her entire life to break down doors while the other Divas took the cheap way into 15 minutes of fame. AJ says the reality is that they will never be able to touch her, drops the mic and walks off. It was a pretty fantastic promo but sadly, Eva Marie and the Bellas don’t seem to give a damn as they start skipping around immediately after AJ leaves. But hey, Total Divas is on E! every Sunday night at 8:00 PM ET!

Not working for me
Not working for me

Ricardo Rodriguez comes out to announce Rob Van Dam (all these guest ring announcers) for his match against Alberto Del Rio. If RVD wins this match he gets a title shot at Night of Champions. Ricardo’s announcing just doesn’t feel right when it’s in english. That was the whole point of his existing after all. RVD starts strong with a monkey flip and knocks him out of the ring with a springboard kick that only kinda made contact. Del Rio turned the tide with an irish whip into the barricade and takes it back into the ring. After a double stomp he starts an “A-D-R” chant to mock the RVD chants. Del Rio tries a double ace handle off the top rope but Van Dam meets him with a spinning kick. Rob follows with rolling thunder for two, then hits a split-leg moonsault for another two count. Van Dam goes to the top rop for a frog splash but Alberto knocks him down with an enziguri for two. Del Rio is about to go for the arm breaker when Ricardo starts an RVD chant from the announce table. This distracts Alberto long enough for Van Dam to sneak a leg scissors roll up to pin Del Rio and earned his title shot. Solid match. Too bad they just gave away the PPV match.

Backstage, Josh Matthews is interviewing Ryback about bullying everybody. Ryback responds in a very Ryback way, by bullying Matthews and pushing him to the floor.

In the parking lot, Renee Young is talking to Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel about what happened to Punk. Axel says he experienced a beating he’ll never forget, while Heyman describes Punk as a child who just needs to keep being punished over and over again. Paul explains that he feels like a man right now, as he proved that he is someone Punk should never come up against. His eyes were totally red during the segment.

Hour three begins with Christian in the ring for his match against WWE Champion Randy Orton. Randy controls the pace early until Christian tosses him over the top rope, following up with a baseball slide. Apparently, Brodus Clay says that Christian lands the most authentic punches (aka real punches) on the roster. Of course a canadien doesn’t know how to pull punches. Orton bounces back with a dropkick and regains control with a knee lift to send him off the apron. Christian tries to come back with a swinging DDT off the top rope, but Orton slips away and pushes him off the top rope back to the outside. Christian is still pandering to the crowd as he gets a boot up on Orton and goes to the top rope. Randy then meets him up there to deliver a suplerplex. Christian plays possum and sneaks a small package but Orton kicks out, only for Christian to avoid an RKO and hit a flying cross body for two. Orton then escapes a Kill Switch but ends up getting hit with a sloppy tornado DDT for a two count. Christian tries to attack Orton from the apron but Randy pops up to lands a second rope DDT. Christian avoids an RKO however and lands a spear that only gets a two count. Christian again avoids an RKO and goes for a Kill Switch, but Orton pushes Christian into the ref, then pokes him in the eye and hits an RKO to take a pretty good match. Afterwards, Daniel Bryan shows up on the big screen. He talks about how pretty Orton’s escalade is, saying he deserves it as the face of the company. Bryan then asks if he would become the face of the company if he defeated Orton. Bryan then moves to the side, revealing that the escalade has “YES” spray painted all over it. Michael Cole dubbed it, a “YES-calade.” Yikes.

Afterwards, Maddox and Triple H are with Orton to look over the damage. Maddox explains how the crowd loved what happened and the locker room is laughing about it. Triple H then tells Brad to make every superstar that laughed at what happened to come out to the stage and watch what happens to Daniel Bryan. He adds that if any of them make any comment or funny look toward the ring, he will fire them on the spot.

Titus O’Neil out next with Darren Young in his corner to face Jack Swagger, who is accompanied by Cesaro and Zeb Colter. Colter accuses the PTP as being part of the countries poverty problem, which is maybe because they are black? Anyway, Swagger starts strong with a series of knees and shoulders in the corner, continuing the assault with a back body drop. O’Neil comes back with a running shoulder and tosses Swags over his head behind him. Jack bounces back quickly however, taking Titus’ leg out from under him. Jack pins Titus and puts his legs on the second rope for leverage, however Young knocks them off. Swagger yells at Darren and Titus uses the opportunity to drop him with a spine buster, winning the match. The PTP just can’t stop getting over on the Real Americans.

No live appearance from the Wyatt’s, but we do get a vignette talking about how sister Abigail (who his finisher is named after) chose him to save the world. There was a lot of other things I didn’t understand, but it what creepy whatever it was.

Backstage, Maddox is trying to get a doctor to look at Punk but he refuses. Punk says a doctor can’t help him, but Maddox can by giving him a match against Paul Heyman, regardless of what he has to do. Brad decides to book Punk in an elimination match against Heyman and Axel. Maddox says that if Heyman tries to back out you will not see him again. Punk says that if that happens we won’t see Maddox again either.

Move of the night
Move of the night

The entire roster, including Dolph Ziggler who did not have a match tonight (C’MON MAN!) is on the stage to watch Daniel Bryan in his gauntlet match against the Shield. Before the match starts, Renee Young tries to talk to Big Show, Dolph and Miz about what is happening, but they refuse to speak for fear of being fired. What happened to Big Show’s iron clad contract!? Bryan quickly gets Rollins in a Mexican surfboard to start the first match and clotheslines him out of the ring, taking himself out as well. Ambrose and Reins surround him on the outside as Seth drives Daniel into the barricade to get back in the match. Bryan bounces back with a backflip into a jumping clothesline, but misses a roundhouse kick as Seth drops his throat onto the top rope. Seth goes for his flying knee but Bryan turns it into a half crab. Seth reaches the rope to break the hold but Bryan dives through the ropes to knock him into the announce table. Back in the ring however, Rollins threw Daniel into the corner to regain control of the match. Rollins ran to the opposite corner to prepare an attack but Bryan ran right behind him to connect on a missile dropkick. A quick chain sequence of pin attempts followed, culminating in Rollins hitting a reverse suplex for a two count. Seth then went for a superplex, but Bryan slipped out and hit a german suplex off the top rope that caused Rollins to do a complete flip before landing. Bryan finished Seth off with a running knee (that the cameras somehow missed!) to get the win. Great first match.

Ambrose immediately runs in after the fall and stomps out Bryan. Daniel reverses a body slam and turns it into a YES Lock in the middle of the ring. Roman Reigns runs in to break up the hold and attack Bryan. This gives Bryan a DQ win against Dean but is now facing Reigns. Bryan pulls the same trick on Reigns and gets him in the YES Lock. It doesn’t take long before Rollins and Ambrose attack Bryan, with Roman finishing him off with a spear as the roster watches from the stage. Triple H comes out to stare down the wrestlers, daring them to do something that gets them fired. He gives the Shield the nod to hit Bryan with a triple power bomb, which is followed by Randy Orton coming out to land an RKO as Big Show specifically looks like he’s going to blow a gasket. The show ends with Triple H again daring anybody to say something to him and Daniel Bryan down in the ring. Heels are dominating lately and it’s pretty great. This is what makes the faces victory all the more satisfying. It’s why Cena’s stories fall flat so often. He never looks weak. Even when he’s injured. It’s similar to what is happening to Punk and Axel right now. Axel and Heyman get the upper hand at the end of each segment, but the matches are all Punk. We all know who the better wrestler is.

Bryan Beatdown 2: Electric Boogaloo
Bryan Beatdown 2: Electric Boogaloo

Night of Champions is in three weeks, and hopefully Bryan and Punk gets the snot kicked out of them every day until then.

Cena Officially Out, Orton Joins McMahon Family On Raw

RAW_1056_Photo_270-1Here’s where we stand after Summerslam:

Punk lost and is still pissed at Heyman, Orton is champ, Bryan is chasing him, Cena is out and Triple H is a heel.

Ready, set, GO!

Goodbye pus elbow
Goodbye pus elbow

John Cena runs out to start the show looking pretty chipper considering he just lost his WWE Championship. He has a nice black eye and somehow I think his elbow actually looks worse. He said Bryan earned the WWE Championship when Daniel beat him, even thanking him for bringing out the best that he had. He proceeded to announce that he suffered a torn tricep two weeks ago, which explains the disgusting elbow (apparently it is filled with puss EEEEEEW). He then talked about how he lost fair and square while being disgusted at how Triple H handed Orton the title moments later. Cena then made the announcement we already knew, saying that he will be out for the next four to six months to repair his arm. That puts him on track to return right around the Royal Rumble. Cena then brought out Daniel Bryan as “a man who earned the right to be called, champion.” Cena hands Daniel the microphone as if he was passing a torch and walks out, presumably only to be seen on Total Divas for the next four to six months. Bryan was just about to speak when Stephanie McMahon comes out. She is  currently the only unknown in this whole thing, seemingly not a part of Vince and Triple H’s plan. Steph sends her condolences about what happened at Summerslam, but then tries to defends Triple H by saying he only did what he thought was best for business. Bryan said he expected something like that to come from Vince or Stephanie, but not from Trips who was a rebel with DX. However now that he is wearing a suit and cut his hair, he has proven that when you lie down with trash (pointing at Stephanie OOOOH) you start to stink. Complicated burn right there. Steph says she will let that comment slide since he is so emotional over what happened, but Bryan snaps at her, asking if she is going to fire him. He says he isn’t afraid of being fired as he can just go back to wrestling is armories, but before he leaves he is going to give her a reason to fire him, whether it is against Triple H or Orton. Stephanie then says nobody wants to fire him and says he is valued in the company, but some people aren’t meant to be the face of the company. He clearly shows he alignment with Vine and Trips, saying Bryan isn’t an A but definitely a solid B+. Bryan responds by saying Stephanie is reminding him of a specific B-word right now, and says he doesn’t care what anybody thinks and can be WWE Champion. Daniel then smacks the mic out of Steph’s hand (uh oh), so Steph grabs another mic, tells him to calm down and has security remove him from the building. Daniel starts a NO chant and walks out, ending the segment. Plenty of drama but damn did it drag.

The first match of the night is a rematch between Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow. Cody is in control early, hitting a springboard missile dropkick and clotheslining Sandow over the top rope. Sandow started to turn the tide when he shoved Cody out of the ring and brought the match to a crawl. Much different from their fast and entertaining Summerslam bout. The crowd seems to agree with me. Rhodes went to the top rope but Damien arm dragged him back down to the mat, keeping the momentum. Apparently Mr Belding from Saved by the Bell is sitting behind the announcers! Cody got his comeback started with a backflip off the top rope, but Sandow avoided Cross Rhodes. Cody would hit a disaster kick but Sandow rolled to the rope to avoid being pinned. Damien dropped Cody’s throat on the top rope but Rhodes leaped over him in the corner, rolling him up to secure another win over his former partner. Fairly meh match.

Backstage, Brad Maddox revealed Dolph Ziggler reacting to last night’s finish to Summerslam by saying that he hasn’t trusted Triple H since he started working in the WWE. To keep Ziggler in check, Maddox booked him in a three on one handicap match against the Shield. Kinda looking forward to that.

Back from break, Paul Heyman is in the ring to address the crowd. He likens Punk to a rebellious child who left the nest to prove his self-worth. Paul admitted that Punk gave Lesnar all he can handle, but now it is time to end this family feud. After Brock defeated Punk, Paul says he realized this is not a time for retribution but a time for forgiveness. He forgives Punk and says that he will welcome him back into the fold if he apologizes. Heyman declares that if Punk returns to him he can bring him back to the top of the mountain. He walks out with no interruption. Good work by Heyman as always.

Divas tag action next as the Funkadactyles face Layla and AJ. I have to say one thing about Total Divas, if nothing else it is giving the ladies more ring time. Hopefully for them it translates into a better Divas division. The heels start by ambushing Cameron and Naomi before AJ officially starts the match by working over Naomi. Naomi backflips out of a back body drop but AJ hits her with a roundhouse kick and the crowd is chanting her name. There is a little more noise for a Divas match than there normally is. Layla gets tagged in and attacks Cameron so that she can’t get tagged in, but Naomi rolled her up from behind to steal a win. The good part of this match was AJ and Naomi keeping Cameron completely out of the ring. The bad part was Layla mugging the camera like a dope after losing. It made her look like she was acting in a silent film.

Time for Dolph Ziggler to try beating the Shield all by himself. I fully expect Mark Henry and the Big Show to provide support, possibly RVD too. It’s tag team rule so Ziggler has slightly more of a shot and starts off against Ambrose. The grapple a little as Dean tries to get Dolph into his corner while Dolph does everything he can to avoid it. Rollins comes in and after taking a few bumps, gets the upper hand and gets Ziggler in their corner where all three men take their shots at him. After getting beaten down for a while, Ziggler applies a sleeper on Ambrose. Dean reverses it into a sleeper of his own but Dolph gets out of it with a jawbreaker. Reigns then gets tagged in and is met with a dropkick as Ziggler gets going. He knocks Rollins off the apron and hits a Fame-Asser followed by a leaping DDT for a two count that is broken up by Seth. Ziggler then suplexes Rollins over the top rope and out of the ring, appearing to possibly injure Rollins’ knee on the landing. Dolph then tries a leaping splash on Roman in the corner, but Reigns comes out to spear Ziggler in mid-air to win the match. Really fun match to match to watch. After the bell, the Shield drop Ziggler with a triple power bomb and Reigns asked Rollins about his leg afterward. He said he was fine but I’m curious if anything more comes out of this.

World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio out next to face Sin Cara. ADR still looks like a mess with a black eye among other bruises on his face. Apparently this was the result of his being involved in a fight alongside Drew McIntyre against some random guys at a bar. Drew and Alberto both got roughed up and that can’t be good for Del Rio’s rep. He’s also now decorating the ring with tiny Mexican flags on the ring posts for his matches going forward, which looks really cheap. Alberto immediately goes on the offensive with a kick to the legs, but Cara bounces off the ropes and arm drags ADR out of the ring. Sin Cara dives out of the ring and immediately waves over to the ref. The ref takes a look at Cara and calls for the doctor on site to look at him, effectively ending the match. Del Rio tries to go forward with the attack but the referee stops him, and somebody (probably Alberto) is bleeped. So Sin Cara is escorted backstage and Del Rio cuts a promo about being a hero that latinos can root for since there are none. All of a sudden Ricardo Rodriguez comes out to the stage, telling ADR that he is no hero to the latin community. Ricardo then announces that he is now representing (no, not Rey Mysterio) Rob Van Dam! So that’s pretty weird. RVD goes to the ring and attacks Del Rio, who escapes the ring just in time to avoid a frog splash. So it looks like Rob Van Dam will challenge Alberto Del Rio at Night of Champions, but the real story here is Sin Cara. The word is that he suffered a dislocated finger, and the roster is pissed at him for being so quick to stop the match after everyone else was already so banged up coming off the PPV. Even further, Sin Cara is rumored to get in a really pissy mood when he is scheduled to lose (which is often), affecting his work in the ring and essentially making everyone else hate him.

I only need one of those fingers to show how I feel about Sin Cara
I only need one of those fingers to show how I feel about Sin Cara

The Prime Time Players make their first appearances as faces against the Real Americans. There was really no way to keep them as heels while having the first openly gay wrestler. Easily the biggest reaction PTP have ever gotten, and Darren Young gave his career a huge shot in the arm just by admitting the truth. He starts off against Cesaro, dropping him with a hip toss before doing the same to Swagger and tagging in Titus O’Neil. Cesaro throws up a big boot in the corner to stop Titus, who gets worked for a while by the Real Americans. The leapfrog stomp Cesaro does over Swagger always impresses me. Titus uses a spinebuster to slow Swagger and get Young in on a hot tag. He cleans house but has a bridge suplex broken up by Swagger. O’Neil knocks Jack out of the ring, allowing Darren Young to hit Cesaro with Gut Check to win the match. Perfectly acceptable tag team match but the more important thing was that the announcers did not address Young coming out and nor should they. Like I said yesterday, it shouldn’t matter what he does with his personal life.

Backstage, Big Show confirms that he will team up with Mark Henry to challenge Rollins and Reigns for the tag team titles. Brad Maddox then butts in to bring up how Show had some not so kind remarks about Triple H, and therefore puts him in a three on one handicap match against the Shield (so they are lackeys again?), with addition of all three Shield members to be allowed in the ring at once. So the precedent is set. Say something mean about Triple H or the McMahons, and you take on the Shield by yourself.

Over in the locker room, Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder are in the middle of a footlocker commercial. Fandango also loves sneakers.

Still backstage (are you kidding me?) Ryback is still acting like a high school bully, throwing a guy’s bag around the locker room, slapping him and making him fill the bag with water in the shower. Be a STAR everybody!

Smiling and hand shaking Big Show is back! Remember when he said he wasn’t going to do that anymore? Well neither does he I guess. The Shield come out and Show quickly throws Reigns out of the ring and beats down Ambrose and Rollins in the corner. Dean and Seth get thrown out next as Roman runs in, only to be flattened with a Big Show spear.  Show continues working over Ambrose and Rollins and has an extra jump in his step. Rollins takes out Show’s leg as he and Ambrose steal some momentum. Rollins is still selling his knee injury as he drops Show with a flying knee to the head. They try to suplex Show but Show blocks it and suplexes them both at the same time. Reigns comes back in the ring however the flatten Big Show with a spear. The Shield then finishes off the Big Show with a triple power bomb, as they all cover him at once to get the pin. That’s now two quality three on one Shield matches.

CM Punk limps out next to address the crowd coming off his loss to Brock Lesnar. He keys on one man who boos him, and says that if he got into the ring right now he would never boo again because Punk would render him a toothless crying heap of a man. He dares him to come into the ring if he has the balls, calling him fatso before telling him to be a man or be a bitch and sit down. That was awesome and Punk is jacked up right now, after hearing Paul Heyman promise Punk a title and a WrestleMania main event if he apologizes for leaving him. CM then tells Heyman to come out because he might just get what he wants. Paul come out with Curtis Axel and hears Punk explain how wrestling is all he knows and that he is sorry, sorry that he let Heyman distract him to cost Punk the win against Lesnar just for a little revenge, and that revenge wasn’t enough. Punk says he’s sorry he didn’t tear his arm off and break his face, promising that the next time he gets his hands on Heyman he will choke him out, wake him up and spit in his face. This is getting a little weird. Basically, Punk is set on getting his revenge and wants it right now. Heyman of course doesn’t take the bait, instead sending Axel to the ring for a fight. Not a match but a fight. Punk goes after Axel and quickly sends his face into a steel chair he had in the ring. The action goes outside as Axel and Punk trade blows. I’m surprised Punk is doing anything like this after the Lesnar match. CM tosses Axel over the barricade and diving over it before dropping Curtis with a ring bell to the gut. Back in the ring, Axel slips out of a GTS and attacks Punk’s injured leg, drilling it with the steel chair. Punk gets laid out with a turning face buster and Axel looks to break his leg by jumping on it from the top rope with the chair wrapped around it. Punk rolls away however, attacking Axel with the chair and knocking him out by dropping his face onto the steel steps outside. With his leg to injured to run after him, Heyman escapes up the ramp to end the segment. So Punk isn’t done with Heyman but Axel isn’t much of a challenge for him. Not sure how they book Punk for Night of Champions.

Punk versus the fat man
Punk versus the fat man

R-Truth is the lucky man to face Bray Wyatt in his first match on Raw. His debut against Kane at Summerslam was a complete dud so this has to at least be a step up. Truth holds his own at first, hitting a spinning kick on Bray before being dropped with some type of sideways spear. Bray knocks out Truth with the HO Train before finishing him off with Sister Abigail for the win. It was short but it was a hell of a lot better at selling the Wyatt’s as being dangerous than the ring of fire match did.

It appears that Epico and Primo are being retooled as Los Matadores. Yup. Two matadors who wrestle. It looks a lot like Tito Santana’s horrible El Matador gimmick.

Speaking of tag teams, 3MB is set to face the Usos. McIntyre is the odd man out this time it what is either a coincidence or directly because of the fight he allegedly got into over the weekend with Del Rio. The Usos quickly take control over Slater, but the tide changes when Drew interferes with a kick to Jimmy’s head on the outside. An enziguri to Slater allows Jay to get the hot tag, laying out Mahal with a running stink face in the corner. Jay then leaps over the top rope to take out Slater and McIntyre outside the ring, while simultaneously tagging Jimmy in mid-air, allowing Jimmy to hit a splash off the top rope to win the match. Poor 3MB.

One last midcard match as the Miz faces Wade Barrett because why not. Miz quickly hits his leaping clothesline but Barrett responds with a big boot. Remember these guys facing off at Summerslam? I care just as much about them now as I did then. Wade hits a second big boot with Miz tangled on the rope and is in full control. Miz fights through “let’s go Barrett” chants to tie Wade’s leg into the ropes and attack it. Barrett initially avoids the figure four but Miz secures it coming out of a sunset flip. It’s locked in until Fandango hits Miz with the top rope leg drop, ending the match via DQ. I imagine that’s another bout that will take place on the upcoming PPV.

Completely normal hug
Completely normal hug

A coronation ceremony for new WWE Champion Randy Orton closes out the show, as the entire roster is on the stage to watch, with the Shield acting as security at the bottom of the ramp, as Brad Maddox informed Steph that Daniel Bryan has returned to the arena. Vince, Steph and Triple H stand in the ring as Vince congratulates Trips for seeing the light. Triple H says he did what he did to preserve the future of the company (he did it in a very long winded way but that was the gist). He says that he considers him a friend and is a fan of his, even deserving to win the match against Cena. But he does not see him as the WWE Champion and face of the company, saying that the fans deserve better than that. He even says that he hated to do that do Bryan, who worked so hard for 15 years, in order to give the title to a man he has so much bad blood with in Orton. He says he buried all of his personal feelings to do what was right for the fans, and that Bryan is selfish for having problem with it. It’s interesting how his delivered and themes stayed the same as a face as it is now as a heel. Triple H then introduces the new face of the WWE, Randy Orton. Randy shakes hands with Vince and Trips and gets big hug from Stephanie (not weird at all). He thanks Triple H and tells the crowd to stand up and show him respect. It’s odd how little attention the WWE Champion is getting on his first appearance as champion. It’s all about Triple H right now, and he asks Daniel Bryan to come out and say whatever he needs to say in order to move on with his “little” career. He even has the Shield move away as they probably look too intimidating to him. He even starts a YES chant and has his music play to make him feel welcome. Daniel finally walk out from the side of the stage toward the ring when the Shield ambush him. Bryan fights back however and takes out the Shield by himself. Daniel again moves toward the ring when Reigns lays him out with a spear. They were about to powerbomb him when Triple H stops them, again inviting him into the ring to talk. The moment he gets in the ring Randy Orton hits his with an RKO and Orton holds his hands up with the McMahons over Bryan to end the show.

Rough night for Daniel Bryan
Rough night for Daniel Bryan

There hasn’t been a show in while that was all about the heels being in control, and this show definitely had that. The Shield certainly found a new angle so that the Wyatt’s can take over as the group that randomly takes people out. Meanwhile Miz/Fandango, RVD/ADR, Henry and Big Show versus The Shield and Orton/Bryan make for a more unique potential PPV card than we’ve seen in a while, which was bound to happen with Cena, Lesnar, Sheamus and Kane suddenly gone. I’m still curious what Punk will do at Night of Champions, but the rest of the card looks to be set.

Triple H Helps Orton Takes WWE Title From Bryan At Summerslam

SS13_Photo_295The WWE’s second biggest Pay Per View is here and it’s looking like the last stand for a few big names. As expected, Brock Lesnar is due for some time off and might not appear again until closer to WrestleMania. That makes a Punk win even more likely (despite having the upper hand going in) and makes me wonder what Heyman will do with only Curtis Axel in his stable on the active roster. Kane is also supposed to go off tour for a while, making the ring of fire match a perfect way to write him off for a while and build up Bray Wyatt. Finally there is John Cena, who is rumored to be taking time off for the football in his elbow to properly heal. That certainly increases the chances of Daniel Bryan winning while also making a Randy Orton MITB run in more likely.

Even though I don’t want to, I should take a moment to mention Darren Young becoming the first openly gay WWE Superstar. I don’t want to mention it because it shouldn’t matter. You are who you are and it shouldn’t have any impact on anything at all. However it is a brave thing for Young to do in our society, and especially in the business he is in. I’m sure he’ll be well received in the bigger cities and TV sites, but I do wonder what the fan reaction to him will be in smaller tour sites that aren’t known to be as tolerant. I’m sure he will encounter his share of idiots, but I have to think it will mostly be positive. The only thing I really don’t want to see is the WWE making a story out of this. It’s impossible for them to ignore and featuring it on the website is fine. It’s a legit headline, I get that. But we don’t have to have a wrestler oppose him BECAUSE he’s gay or anything that forced. While I’m hopeful that the WWE will take the high road, I do fear that it will be very hard for the WWE to resist a chance to take advantage of this attention by having this story incorporated into the in-ring product.

During the pre-show, Rob Van Dam looked poised to take Dean Ambrose’s United States Championship when the rest of the Shield came out. Before they could attack RVD, Mark Henry and Big Show came out as well so that the match could continue without interference. Van Dam hit the frog splash but Roman Reigns came in after to hit a spear, ending the match via DQ after all. Show and Henry ran in as the Shield made their exit, and it’s looking like a 6 man tag match could be added to tonight’s card. Very good match.

The real show starts with a whimper, as the Miz takes the stage to do whatever he’s supposed to do as host. He goes through the two main events before getting cut off by Fandango. He dances for a while, Miz says “really?” and they move on to the intro. Ugh. JoJo then sang the national anthem. Lillian Garcia got robbed.

The first match of the night is the ring of fire match (Johnny Cash must be proud) between Kane and Bray Wyatt. Bray blowing out the light doesn’t have the same impact when nobody is in the ring when the lights come back on. The fire ignites and Kane immediately takes control. After a few minutes Bray dodges a dive in the corner, and finally administers a little offense. Kane bounces back with a sidewalk slam and the family tries to get a kendo stick in the ring (yes, a wooden stick) which of course lights on fire. The fellas then run away from the stick as a fireman extinguishes it. This is a dopey as the Wyatt’s have looked. After a couple of chokeslams, Kane calls for a tombstone when the Wyatt’s put a blanket over the flames, allowing them to enter the ring and attack Kane. They take him out and pull up Bray, who hits his finisher and wins the match in a very underwhelming matter. The crowd was mostly dead aside from the thought of maybe seeing a tombstone. After the match, the Wyatt’s put Kane’s head on half the steel steps, dropping the other half on his head, officially taking him off duty for a while. Absolutely horrible match. Crowd hated it and so do I. They turned off the lights and walked Kane out of the building. Bray showed very little offense in his first official match. From now on, I will refer to this as Fandango’ing.

What a waste of fire
What a waste of fire

Damien Sandow out next to face Cody Rhodes. Cody Rhodes shaved his mustache and I just realized how similar his hoodie vest thing was the Layla’s. The pace is fast and back and forth until Sandow takes control with a sweep kick to knock Cody off the apron. Rhodes then attempted to hit Cross Rhodes, but Sandow rolled out of it and hit the elbow of disdain to keep his momentum. Cody stole that momentum with a springboard dropkick, but missed on a disaster kick to give it right back. Rhodes then connected on the kick for a two count. After another short exchange, Cody landed Cross Rhodes and picked up the victory. Short and satisfying match. This should have opened.

World Heavyweight Championship now on the line as Alberto Del Rio defends against Christian in the least interesting match possible. Ricardo Rodriguez was the best thing about Del Rio and Alberto turned on him. Since Ricardo isn’t around, ADR made Lillian announce him in spanish. Los UGH! Christian slaps Del Rio and tosses him out of the ring, then slapping him again on the top rope. Alberto slipped away from a superback body drop, hitting an enziguri on Christian sitting on the top rope, leaving him in the tree of woe where he attacked Christian’s shoulder injury. Del Rio would continue working the shoulder and we have a major storyline to tell, specifically after ADR lands a drop kick on the shoulder. Christian fights back with a top rope dropkick and goes to the top again for a cross body splash. Del Rio, who already has a bloody nose, misses an enziguri and Christian hits the splash for two. Christian then goes for the second rope moonsalt but Del Rio catches him with a backstabber off the turnbuckle for a two count. Christian goes for a sunset flip off the top rope but ADR holds on to the top rope. Christian then falls and dropkicks Del Rio on the turnbuckle, setting up a top rope hurricarrana for a two count. Christian then went for a spear but ADR met him with a missile dropkick for two. That was a great move and the crowd is waking up. Del Rio goes for a side kick but Christian ducks out and rolls up Alberto for a two count. Christian immediately follows up with a spear but injures his shoulder, keeping him from covering. Del Rio takes advantage and applies the cross arm breaker, getting Christian to tap after he nearly rolled over to the rope. I hate to admit it, but I really enjoyed this match. Afterwards, ADR cut a promo to pander to the mexican fans in Los Angeles, and this was as close to being a face as he can get right now. Pretty good pop for him all things considered.

Backstage, Miz interviewed Maria Menounos to bring up Total Divas and Maria’s victory with Natalya against Brie and Eva Marie. Fandango then cut in again to dance, so Miz danced with Maria to show them up. So I guess Miz and Fandango are going to have a thing.

More Divas action as Natalya face Brie one on one with the Funkadactyles, Nikki and Eva Marie all ringside. Brodus Clay has to be bitter that his dancers get on the card over him. Brie does a flip and they exchange slaps for a minute. Natty then takes control until Eva and Nikki pull the apron out from under her, taking her down so that Brie can hit her with a baseball slide. Natalya gets worked over for a while until she powers out of an arm lock to hit an Alabama Slam, following up with a Sharpshooter to win the match via submission. Hey did you know Total Divas is on E! Sunday nights at 8?

Backstage, Ryback is pissed because his soup is cold (even though its gazpacho), and pours it all over the guy running the craft service table. Be a Star guys.

Flying chair shot
Flying chair shot

CM Punk and Brock Lesnar get their match right in the middle of the show, and I am very surprised about it. Lesnar immediately powers Punk into the corner and drives his shoulder into him. Punk lands a couple of weak kicks but Brock keeps overpowering him, setting theme of the biggest being the best. Punk comes back with a running knee to knock Lesnar out of the ring, following up with a dive through the ropes to take Lesnar down. Punk tries to use the steel steps but Lesnar shoves them into Punk’s face. CM slides away from Brock however and pushes him into the steel post. He quickly follows up with an attack off the top rope and another off the announce table. Furious pace to the match, as Punk takes advantage of Brock being down to go after Heyman. Lesnar got up of course to stop Punk, throwing him over the spanish announce table into a spanish announcer. Lesnar continues the assault from there, hitting a huge belly to belly suplex and is in total control. Lesnar caught Punk going for a top rope cross body splash, hitting a fall away slam as Heyman calls for Brock to finish him. After being put in a chin lock, Punk pulls a Mike Tyson and bites Lesnar’s ear to start his comeback! Punk hits a series of kicks to stun Brock, taking him down with a knee off the top rope. CM follows with a pair of high knees in the corner. He misses with the third, but avoids an F-5 to drop Lesnar with a roundhouse kick. Punk then follows with a flying elbow for a two count and has all the momentum. He calls for the GTS but Brock slips out and goes for an F-5. Punk slips out again though to go for a GTS, only Lesnar locks in the kimura lock. Punk looks like he’s in trouble until he slides out and applies the triangle hold in the middle of the ring. Brock powers Punk up to hit a powerbomb but Punk doesn’t let go of the hold. Finally Lesnar gets Punk up for another big powerbomb and the hold is finally broken. Hell of a match and it looks like there is a lot more left.

Lesnar takes control again with a trio of suplexes, going to the outside for a chair. While he’s on the outside, Punk goes for a splash from the top rope, which Brock partially blocks by using the chair as a shield. CM starts hitting Punk with the chair on the outside until Brock manages to take the chair. Punk hits a low blow to get the chair back, going to the top rope to tag Lesnar with a flying chair shot that only gets a two count. The crowd is now yelling ECW as Punk drops some F-bombs and hits a few chair shots. Heyman pulls the chair away so Punk grabs Heyman by throat. Lesnar then goes for an F-5 but Punk avoids it by holding onto Heyman’s tie, eventually landing a GTS. Heyman runs in to stop the 3 count, and Lesnar uses the distraction to get Punk up for an F-5. Punk counters by landing a falling DDT for a two count, but immediately locks in the Anaconda Vice. It looks like Lesnar is going to tap out when Heyman runs in with a chair. Punk gets up and takes out Heyman with a punch and an Anaconda Vice that is only broken up when Lesnar attacks him with the chair. Brock then finishes off CM with an F-5 onto the chair and gets the pin to end an absolutely ridiculous match. That had everything.

This photo sums up the entire match and story
This photo sums up the entire match and story

Time for the mixed tag match as DOLPH ZIGGLER teams up with Kaitlyn to face AJ and Big E Langston. Dolph hits a quick drop kick but Big E answers with a power slam into an abdominal stretch and a slap from AJ before Ziggler hit another dropkick so that he can tag in Kaitlyn. AJ took control of Kaitlyn with a couple of neck breakers and applied a sleeper hold. I can’t get over Dolph being wasted in matches like this. Kaitlyn escaped and dropped AJ with a flying shoulder, leading to the boys being tagged in. Dolph takes charge with 10 elbows but Langston hits a back breaker and goes for a pin. Kaitlyn breaks it up and AJ knocked her out of the ring. AJ then grabbed Dolph’s foot coming off the ropes to distract him. Kaitlyn dropped AJ with a spear outside the ring as Langston dropped Ziggler. Langston then goes for the Big Ending, but Dolph escapes and hits the Zig Zag to win the match. Not horrible, but not good. Hopefully Ziggy can move toward another WHC title shot.

Backstage Fandango interrupted the Miz one more time and got punched in the face for it. Fantastic. Moving on to the main event.

I've never seen this before
I’ve never seen this before

All parties involved get their expected reactions and Triple H took the time to shake both men’s hand and they start off with some grappling. Cena has a big pad over his elbow to protect his gross football thing. Before long they go into the same spot they had during a match they had on WWE Velocity in 2003. Cena shows off his power but also throws in a few extra wrestling moves as well like a bridge. On the outside, Cena hits Bryan with a suplex off the steps onto the floor. That got a big reaction from the crowd but was soon followed with a “you still suck” from the crowd. Back in the ring, Cena hits a falling powerbomb and is in total control. Just as I type that, Bryan comes back with a series of kicks, but misses the roundhouse as Cena starts the five moves of doom. Bryan kicks Cena before he can hit the five knuckle shuffle and hits a missile drop kick. Cena is selling his elbow injury hard and Bryan starts to work it, getting a little more sinister in his attacks. Cena then goes for an STF but Bryan reverses to apply the YES Lock. Cena heads toward the ropes so Daniel pulls him back and hits a few german suplexes and reapplying the hold. Cena then powers out, only for Bryan to lock in another submission. John eventually powers out and rolls away. Cole makes a point to say that Cena’s face is a mess as John sneaks an AA out of nowhere for a two count. Cena then goes to the top rope and Cena hits him with a dropkick. He goes for it again but Cena pushes him back, only Bryan runs back and hits him with another dropkick. Bryan follows with a suplerplex and holds onto the turnbuckle with his legs, pulling himself up to hit a flying headbutt for a two count. With Cena on the outside, Daniel tries to dive through the ropes but Cena meets him with a leaping shoulder. He follows with the legdrop off the top rope for a two count. Cena then takes Bryan to the second rope to attempt an AA, but Daniel fights back. He attempts and hurricarrana but Cena holds on and drops Daniel on his head from the second rope! Cena drags Bryan to the middle of the ring and applies to STF. Bryan looks like he is fading when he slips out and applies the YES Lock, forcing Cena to reach the rope in order to break it. Triple H makes his presence known for the first time by asking Cena about his elbow injury. He says he’s okay just in time for Bryan to hit him with a couple of dropkicks in the corner. John prevents a third by running out with essentially a clothesline from hell. The two trade blows from here, taking each other out with leaping shoulders. As they stand up, Cena slaps Bryan, calling back to Raw where Bryan refused to slap him as they do in Japan out of tradition. This time Bryan slaps him back and they have a slap off. Bryan goes for his back flip but Cena catches him and goes for an AA. Bryan turns it into a falling DDT for a two count. Bryan then goes for a cross body splash but Cena catches him, again going for an AA. Bryan escapes again, to attempt a roll up. Cena kicks out on two but gets hit with a roundhouse kick. Bryan then runs out of the corner with a huge running knee to knock out John Cena and win the WWE Championship! That was fantastic. That was the best running knee I’ve ever seen. Cena was as good as he’s ever been and Bryan rose to the occasion. After the match, Cena got up and, along with Trips, congratulated Bryan on his win. Confetti. Explosions. It’s a Daniel Bryan love fest.

What could have been
What could have been

UNTIL RANDY ORTON CAME OUT! He’s walks down the ramp with the briefcase and Daniel Bryan is gesturing for him to use it. Orton starts to turn back up the ramp when Triple H turns heel and hits Bryan with the Pedrigree! Orton walks into the ring, hands Trips the case and pins Bryan for to take the WWE Championship. Awesome swerve and a great way to end the show. The crowd ate it up too. I don’t want to act like I knew it was coming, but it had crossed my mind that Vince would see Randy Orton as the ideal man to wear his WWE Championship since he was against both Bryan and Cena. The Triple H turn was a nice add-on though. He waited just long enough to make me think there would be no swerve. I can see Cena coming back at Survivor Series to join Bryan in a tag match against Trips and Orton.

Overall, the PPV could have just been the two main events and I would have been happy. The rest of the card was okay at best but was completely saved by Punk/Lesnar and Cena/Bryan. They must have known this would be the case based on the order of the card. I was curious why Punk/Lesnar was in the middle but it brought a dying crowd back to life in time for Cena and Bryan (and eventually Triple H and Orton) to close things out. I really can’t remember a PPV having bigger payoff than this one. Now we get to watch Daniel Bryan chase Randy Orton for the WWE Championship while Cena takes time to heal up and the newly reunited McMahon family stand in the way.

One last thing. Do you think we can stop telling John Cena he sucks for a while? I’m not really a fan of his but it’s pretty clear that he steps up his game to match whoever he is facing. Put him against the Rock or Ryback and you get a slow sloppy mess. Put him against Bryan, Punk or Ziggler and you get a high quality epic. He’s pretty damn good. He just needs to right people to bring it out of him.

Triple H To Referee Bryan/Cena, Big Show Returns On Raw

RAW_1055_Photo_083We’ve reached the Raw before Summerslam and there still seems to be some work to do on the card. First off, why isn’t Rob Van Dam on it? There is word that he’ll face Cesaro in the pre-show but is that why they brought him back? Considering the World Heavyweight Championship match has Alberto Del Rio (yawn) against Christian (double yawn), I feel like there is a missed opportunity here. It doesn’t help that Christian already beat ADR clean in a 20 minute match last week on Smackdown so what is the point of doing it at all now? Aside from that we can also expect the Big Show, who returned over the weekend in a house show, to join Mark Henry against the Shield. He will need to pick up the slack for Sheamus, who will be out 4-6 months after suffering a torn labrum in his left shoulder at Money in the Bank, an injury that has nothing to do with his disgusting thigh bruise. Finally, we need to take notice of the fact that Randy Orton is not scheduled to have a match, which means that he is extremely likely to at least attempt to cash in his MITB briefcase after the Cena/Bryan match.

Speaking of Bryan, he comes out first waving a YES towel that was handed out to the crowd (and will likely also be present at Summerslam) for his match against Wade Barrett, with Raw GM Brad Maddox as guest referee. Last week, Barrett was supposed to shave Bryan’s beard at the request of Vince McMahon, but Bryan shaved Wade’s beard instead (I’m still not sure why). Between these two and Cody and Sandow, there is a lot of facial hair discussion in the WWE right now. Daniel controls things early with drop kicks and low kicks and other foot related moves. Outside the ring, Barrett ducks under a running knee off the apron and hit a big boot to steal some momentum. Bryan does his backflip into a jumping clothesline to regain control, hitting the dive through the ropes on the outside and a missal dropkick. Daniel misses a roundhouse kick however, which Barrett turned into a rollup pin for a victory after Brad Maddox clearly quick counted (can’t say I didn’t see that coming). So Barrett celebrates his win while Bryan threatens to go after Maddox who eventually makes a quick exit. Solid match that is a better open than almost any monologue open ever.

A guest referee blows a call? Shocking
A guest referee blows a call? Shocking

This is followed by another match as the two MITB winners, Damien Sandow and Randy Orton, square off with Cody Rhodes at the announce table. Sandow handcuffs his new brown briefcase to the ring post so that Cody can’t steal it again. Orton is still a face at the moment, but that heel turn seems to be just days away from going full force. They exchange moves as Rhodes talks about the briefcase looking like it is made of chocolate while having no real defense for being a sore loser for attacking Sandow after Damien won fair and square at Money in the Bank. He even said he would probably have done the same thing if he was in the same position. WHY CAN’T THEY JUST BE BESTIES AGAIN! The match meanwhile is whatever. One move at a time with no pacing, and no energy from the crowd. At least there is a guy holding up a giant print of his high school photo to look at. Sandow hits the elbow of disdain and is furious when he doesn’t get a 3 count, which he has never gotten ever. Cole gives him the Del Rio treatment, talking about how much more aggressive Damien is. Orton powers out of a chin lock with a back body drop and goes for a power slam, only Sandow sees it coming and counters with a swinging neck breaker for a two count. Damien then runs at Randy from the corner and does get power slammed and eventually DDT’d from the second rope. Orton goes for the RKO but Sandow slips out of the ring. Orton pursues and gets tosses into the ringpost. Sandow brings him back in the ring, but not before he taunts Rhodes. So Cody then tries to take the handcuffed briefcase from the ringpost, distracting Sandow long enough for Orton to hit an RKO to win the match. Nothing special from Randy and Damien, while opposite momentum theory says Rhodes now has zero chance to beat Sandow.

Backstage the Shield are talking about all the older wrestlers being has-beens while the Shield is the new generation that is taking over. Reigns and Rollins make an open challenge to any two men who think they can take their tag team titles, while Ambrose says that CM Punk is just saying a catchphrase because he is the “best in the world” and Cena’s belt is just a trophy because his belt is the one people run from. He wraps it up by saying that unless Andre the Giant’s ghost is in tonight’s 20 man battle royal to determine his opponent, then Ambrose will not lose at Summerslam. Awesome promo despite looking like it was shot in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ sewer lair.

After a prerecorded (and pretty good) promo from Brock Lesnar about how he is bigger and better than Punk, CM Punk (sporting some rough stitches on his chin) is interviewed about his match tonight against Paul Heyman. He says Heyman is playing a big chess game by challenging Punk at Raw, and he expects Brock to show up at some point.

Ugh boy. Khali and Natalya are out with Hornswaggle for a mixed tag match against Big E Langston and AJ. I guess we’ll see if AJ and Langston, who will face Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn at Summerslam, are good enough to make a Khali match interesting. It sucks that Dolph isn’t even in the title picture right now. Especially after he was robbed of his title run by the concussion. Langston and Khali were supposed to start but thankfully, AJ asked to be tagged in, forcing Khali out. Khali looks completely dumbfounded as AJ walks up to him and slaps him in the face. Natalya then grabs her from behind and goes on the attack. AJ slides out of snake eyes to hit a round house kick and take control. After working Natalya for a while, she goes over to Hornswaggle and tries to kick him. Natalya uses the distraction to apply the sharpshooter for about 3 seconds, getting up for no reason right before AJ taps. Since nothing was actually happening the ref doesn’t end the match, leaving Natalya walking around the ring like a dope. She even grabs the refs hand so that he can raise it, only to have to go back to AJ, apply the hold again and get a legit tap out to end the match for real. What a train wreck. This is why people can’t stand the Divas division. At least we didn’t have to Khali wrestle. After the match, Langston attack Khali from behind and tosses Hornswaggle aside. Big E then goes after the Pujabi again, who meets him with a big chop to send Langston out of the ring. I wish I could have those five minutes back. I could have spent time with my son!

Take 2
Take 2

Vince McMahon out to the ring wearing a bad ass maroon blazer and hopping around like it was ten years ago. He addresses the finish of the Bryan/Barrett match and brings out Brad Maddox. Vince first asks why Maddox appointed himself as ref, which Brad replied was because Bryan’s match tend to get out of hand and he wanted to make sure there was someone out there with the guts to make the right decision. McMahon brings up the fast count, which Maddox credits being due to rust, as he had not refereed in a while and did the best he could. Vince said there is no need to apologize if he did his best. Brad responds by asking to referee the Bryan/Cena Summerslam match as a way to redeem himself (a lot of similar “r” words in that sentence). McMahon asks Maddox if he would officiate the match down the middle, he says he would (even crossing his heart), and that’s enough for Vince as he is set to name Maddox as the referee. Before he can get the words out however, Triple H comes out to stop him. Triple H agrees with Vince that you need somebody to take charge of the match and play it down the middle without being intimidated, however he disagrees that Maddox is that guy and names himself as the special guest referee. He punctuates the decision by dropping Maddox with a Pedigree as Vince storms off. Last time Trips was a ref he unknowingly cost Cena his match against CM Punk two Summerslams ago. I doubt the finish to Cena/Bryan will be clean.

Kane out to the ring next to take on Titus O’Neil. Kane will face Bray Wyatt in a ring of fire match, in which the ring will be surrounded by fire (duh) just to keep the rest of the family out of the ring. So I guess that means no rope work? Kane is scheduled to get some time off to film a movie and whatever republican stuff he wants to do so setting him on fire would be an appropriate way to write him off for a while and build up the Wyatts. Meanwhile this match is all Kane, as he stares down Darren Young while hitting a chokeslam to secure the victory. That doesn’t matter much as it’s all about the Wyatt’s, who comes out right after the decision. When the light come back on, the family is in the ring ready to attack, but Kane is behind them on the ramp instead. He sets the ring on fire as Bray laughs like a maniac. This ought to be an interesting match. Don’t know if it will be good, but it will be interesting.

Backstage, a Total Divas match was set up as Natalya challenged Brie Bella to a match at Summerslam. Nikki and Eva Marie will be in Brie’s corner while the Funkadactyls are in Natalya’s. Brie slapped Natalya to return the favor from last week and end the segment, as I am left to wonder how likely the match will get cut from the show.

In the ring, Kofi Kingston and his pants are facing World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. Kofi has all the momentum early until Alberto pushes Kingston down on the corner, puts him in the tree of woe and attacks his midsection with some kicks. He follows up with a reverse suplerplex for a two count, and Cole is back in his habit of saying that this is a new, aggressive Alberto Del Rio. I think he is required to say that going into every pay per view. Kofi dodges Del Rio running at him and gets going with a Boom Drop. He misses Trouble in Paradise however and Del Rio connects with a tilt-a-wirl back breaker. ADR then goes for a sidekick but Kofi pulls out an SOS for a two count. Del Rio then plays possum, gets his knees up to block a cross body splash to lead into a cross arm breaker and win via submission. Quick but entertaining match.

Backstage, Christian talks about overcoming injuries to get to where he is now and that after beating Del Rio at Smackdown he proved that he only needs “one more match” to win the World Heavyweight Championship for the third time. Alberto then walks in and says, in spanish, that there will be no more matches for him after Summerslam. I’m happy to say that I figured that out on my own before Cole translated for us. Either way I still hate that this match is happening.

We return to the ring with the Usos taking on the Real Americans for the third time in four weeks, with this being the rubber match. Cesaro and Swagger work Jay(?) in the early portion of the match, with a Swaggerbomb followed up by Cesaro leapfrogging Swags to stomp on Jay. Outside the ring, Zeb Colter is seen getting flipped off by a fan as Swagger drops Jay into a Cesaro uppercut in the closest thing you’ll see to a 3D in wrestling these days. Jay hits a Cesaro with a knee to allow Jimmy to come in on a hot tag and drop Swagger with a couple of leaping chops and a Samoan drop, as Cesaro pulled out Swagger to avoid a pinfall. The Usos then leaped over the top rope to splash into them, setting up a really good finish. Jimmy set up Swagger in the ring for a top rope splash but Colter was distracted the ref. Cesaro then tried to push Jimmy off the top rope but Jay landed a superkick on Antonio from in between Jimmy’s legs. Swagger then got up and tried to attack Jimmy, who tagged Jay before jumping over Swags, and Jay rolled up the unsuspecting Jack for the win. Very good tag team match.

Just a trophy according to Ambrose
Just a trophy says Ambrose

Miz TV starts the third hour with John Cena and Daniel Bryan as his guests. Bryan is happy that Triple H stood up to Vince so that he and Cena can have the match they deserve. Cena told Miz this segment is usually a train wreck before agreeing with Daniel. Cena says there is no underlying issue between himself and Bryan, saying the only issues between them is that he has the belt and Bryan wants it, saying Daniel will put up a hell of a fight. Miz takes that as code for telling Bryan he’s going to lose, and turns it into Cena saying he chose Bryan to get cheers from the crowd and pick up an easy win. Daniel wants to know why people like Cena think all he can do is put up a hell of a fight. Bryan says Cena is out to grab the spotlight and that is why he doesn’t watch TV. He says Cena is in it for the fame and not for the wrestling. Bryan explains that his “The Beard Is Here” shirt is a parody of Cena’s “The Champ Is Here” shirt because Bryan thinks Cena is a parody of wrestling, and he wants to be the champion so that everyone knows that there is nobody better than Danel Bryan. Bryan is on right now. For some reason, Cena responds by taking his shirt off before stopping himself, saying Bryan almost got him (got him how?). Cena says he is out there for the same reason as Bryan, for the fans. Cena said something about the fans believing in wrestlers and causing the wrestlers to give their all or something that gives him another excuse to talk about how loyal he is to his fans and how he shows up every day despite all the people who don’t like him. He adds that he has been “wrestling” for 12 years now and unlike Bryan he has done so with the WWE Championship while beating the best in the business including Triple H, The Rock, Batista, Orton, Michaels and Punk. Bryan cuts him off saying he mentions all of those names like they are so much better than him. Cena responds by saying Bryan isn’t in their class, which pisses off Bryan and gets the biggest reaction from the crowd. Cena says Bryan will only have his respect if he can beat him. Bryan then said that statement proves that Cena doesn’t respect him or treat this like his matches against those other men. Bryan says since Cena has won the title 11 times that he can’t understand Bryan’s hunger to win it just once, and that while to Cena this is just another Summerslam, this is the biggest match of Bryan’s life. Daniel then explains a custom he learned in Japan where one wrestler would slap another as hard as possible to fire up his opponent to get the most out of him. Bryan then says he wishes he could do that to Cena now, but he is not a wrestler and doesn’t deserve it (OH SNAP). Cena then begs Daniel to slap him, even slapping Bryan in the face. Daniel has a big smile on his face as he refuses to slap him back and that was really good. Triple H comes out to basically pose between them, and Randy Orton comes to the stage to show that he has the MITB briefcase. This easily could have ended the show, but it looks like it will be Punk versus Heyman. As much as I loved the slapping part, I’m left wondering how appropriate it is for a guy known for only having five moves also seems to only have one point when cutting a promo. John Cena is loyal to his fans, loves the WWE and will fight everyday because of them. Got it.

Fandango out next for a match against R-Truth, and after Truth danced in the ring, ‘Dango had his music come back on so that he can prove he’s the better dancer. Truth then danced to his music again only Fandango to attack him from behind. Truth fights back, beats ‘Dango out of the ring and the match never starts. At least it was quick.

Backstage, Paul Heyman is taping up his wrists (while still in a suit) for his match against Punk. He then tells Axel that he thinks he’s having second thoughts. The tape job looks pretty good at least.

Time for the 20 man over the top rope battle royal for the United States title shot. Among the competitors are RVD, Tensai, Brodus Clay, 3MB, Mark Henry and Ryback. There are 12 more guys of course but these are the only ones that had their entrances televised. Justin Gabriel was the first to be eliminated as he was gorilla pressed out by Ryback, who then clotheslined Darren Young and Tensai out. It’s really hard to watch as it’s just chaos starting with all 20 men in at once. 3MB tosses out Jimmy(?) Uso. It’s really boring and the crowd is dead. Truth tossed out Fandango, but Fandango got pissed and ran back in to toss out Truth (which shouldn’t count but it does). Van Dam then eliminated Fandango for the second time, but Fandango wasn’t as mad at RVD so he didn’t go back in. Khali eliminated all of 3MB during the break, but he was shoved out by Ryback. Brodus was also thrown over somehow. Cesaro and Swagger took out the other Uso and RVD took out Titus O’Neill with a superkick and a clothesline. Kofi pulled off maybe his best floor is lava move yet as Swagger tossed him over the top rope, but Kingston lept over Cesaro who was on the apron, in what looked like a sunset flip. Kofi held on to Cesaro’s legs while Cesaro held on the rope, with Kofi’s feet just barely avoiding the floor so that he can slide back in. Kingston took on both Swagger and Cesaro for a minute before finally getting eliminated but that was great.

It's the big shirt. Yes it's a big big shirt tonight
It’s the big shirt. Yes it’s a big big shirt tonight

RVD then started taking out the Real Americans with kicks, but when he went for Rolling Thunder, Ryback met him with a meathook clothesline. Ryback and Wade Barrett then worked on RVD while Cesaro and Swagger briefly had Henry up. Mark powered out of it however and eliminated them both, and followed up by eliminating Barrett too. Ryback then grabs Henry by the throat but Mark lifts him over the top rope, putting him on the apron. RVD stuns him with a spinning kick and Henry knocks him to the floor, leaving Mark Henry and Rob Van Dam as the last two men. RVD hits a roundhouse kick and goes to the top rope, but Henry shakes the rope to drop him to the apron. Van Dam then lowers the top rope as Henry is running at him to send Mark to the floor, giving RVD the title shot. Really rough match to watch until the last five minutes or so. After the match, Henry went back in and gave RVD a fist bump, then stayed in as the Shield came out and surrounded the ring. They were just about to attack when the Big Show (wearing the world’s largest jeans) comes out to join the faces in the ring, causing the Shield to retreat. The segment ended rather abruptly but all signs still point to Show and Henry challenging Rollins and Reigns for the tag titles.

Main event time as Paul Heyman takes on CM Punk. Heyman has no music and walks out in his suit minus a jacket and tie. Paul gets in the ring and blames the fans for chanting Punk’s name and causing Punk to feel like he doesn’t need Heyman’s admiration anymore. Since the fans took Punk from Heyman, Heyman is going to take Punk away from the fans. Paul admits what everybody already knew, saying that this match is a trap for Punk. He says put this plan together with Brock Lesnar, who he calls out to the ring. The trap works in its simplicity, as Heyman will fight Punk with Brock on his side, and Punk won’t be smart enough to not show up because he is the hero and needs the approval of the fans. Heyman calls out for Punk, asking if he is the smart coward or the stupid hero. Sure enough, Punk’s music hits. But while Heyman and Lesnar watch the stage, Punk sneaks up from crowd and attacks Brock with a TV camera. After laying him out he bashes him some more with a chair, finally going after Heyman. Punk chases Paul up the ramp, taking out Curtis Axel who tries to stop him. Heyman escapes as Punk hits Axel with a GTS, and poses from the stage as Lesnar is still down by the ring to end the show. On paper it made more sense to end things with this segment, but Bryan and Cena really should have ended the show. Especially with the way it ended.

Opposite momentum theory doesn't look good for Punk all of a sudden
Opposite momentum theory doesn’t look good for Punk all of a sudden

Overall Summerslam was pretty well set up. Everything that had to happen happened, and Triple H’s addition threw some last minute (albeit unnecessary) juice to the main event. There is a lot to like about the PPV, I just hope they don’t sacrifice too much time from the undercard for the two main events.

Orton Finally Turns Heel, Kane Teases Ring Of Fire Match On Raw

RAW_1054_Photo_270Back from their international road trip, Raw is live again this week with a Daniel Bryan corporate make-over being the main thing hyped. Lesnar, Vince and Trips also scheduled to appear but who cares! Daniel Bryan is getting groomed.

But before moving forward, we have to look back at Randy Orton getting punched in the balls during a show in Brazil. It was a classic low-blow too. I loved it…

…until it was discovered that the guy was a local wrestler and very well may have been staged to get publicity for the promotion. Where have our heroes gone?

I also got around to watching Total Divas and I didn’t hate it. I actually found some of it interesting. Sure some of it is definitely rehearsed and the new girls are just the worst, but I had no idea how different the Bellas were (aside from cup size) and how good Bryan and Cena were at stirring up relationship drama for each other (when they aren’t chopping wood topless together). Seriously, how can the twins be left out of their match?

Stephanie McMahon kicks off the show by showing the previously mentioned makeover of Daniel Bryan, featuring him working out, getting a spa treatment, being fitted for a suit and eating meat (he isn’t a vegan anymore so it’s no big deal). After the montage, Daniel comes out looking like a tiny Damien Sandow. Basically his hair is slicked back to a ponytail and his beard is brushed down. Stephanie loves it, but naturally, the crowd isn’t feeling it. Bryan says that while he appreciates the effort, he thinks the company really wants a ripped dude in cargo shorts who can sell merch (see where he’s going with this?). Daniel then cuts a promo where he talks about how big Cena is and how unassuming he is. He then says the reason he will beat Cena is because John is an entertainer while he is a wrestler. Bryan says Cena has been performing for sold out arenas every night and can’t imagine the holes in the wall Bryan had to climb out of to get to where he is. He then refers to last night’s Total Divas episode (can’t believe I’m saying that), where he adds that if Cena got fired tomorrow he would just go back to his huge mansion and you’d never see him again, while Bryan would immediately hit all the gyms and dirt boxes available to him because of how much he loves wrestling. He uses the word “wrestling” a lot and plays off the crowd. It’s a very similar theme to the Punk/Cena feuds. Bryan wraps up by saying that he’ll dress nice and look presentable for now, until he makes Cena tap out at Summerslam. I was convinced they were going to have the makeover run through the whole show but they spared us of that.

Maybe Vince has a point
Maybe Vince has a point

When Bryan finished up he was met in the ring by Vince McMahon. Vince tears apart Bryan’s attempt at dressing up before saying he wants Bryan to be champion even less than he wants John Cena as champion. I still don’t get that part. Vince then continues to make fun of Bryan’s lack of size and good looks, until he says he is starting to warm up to the idea of him as champion. To fully gain his support though, Vince says that his makeover needs one more thing, and that is to shave his beard. McMahon then calls out for a barber chair (which needs 8 men to bring out for some reason) so that they can shave the beard right now. Bryan refuses, but Vince threatens to fire him if he doesn’t “go all the way.” Bryan then sits in the chair as Vince calls Wade Barrett out to shave his beard. I get the feeling this is leading to a match between them later on. Apparently Wade’s grandfather used to be a barber. Daniel stops him just before he begins, then attacks Barrett and buzzes off half of his beard. So now Barrett is pissed and Bryan tosses him over the barrier and storms off. Barrett was just doing what he was asked. Why did he have to get humiliated like that? Anyway from the stage, Bryan says that he won’t be changed, takes off his dress shirt to unveil a new “The Beard Is Here” shirt to go against Cena’s “The Champ Is Here” shirt. Clever folks over there at the WWE.

The Miz (who is hosting Summerslam whatever that means) is at the announce table for the first match of the night, putting Rob Van Dam against Alberto Del Rio. RVD lost to ADR two weeks ago on Smackdown after Del Rio played possum, then along with Randy Orton lost in a triple threat match to give Christian a World Heavyweight title shot. Couldn’t be less excited for that match. Meanwhile, Ricardo Rodriguez made his return from a wellness suspension to announce Del Rio. Van Dam starts the match in control with a monkey flip and a spring board side kick. Del Rio stole the momentum by rolling away from rolling thunder and landing a side kick. RVD dodged an enziguri however and hit rolling thunder for a two count. Del Rio got a knee up to block a split leg moonsault and tried to whip RVD head first into a bucket that Ricardo wedged in between the turnbuckles (it took two tries for Rodriguez as the bucket fell the first time). Van Dam reversed it however, sending Del Rio into the bucket, allowing RVD to roll him up for the victory. Nice, brisk match. Afterwards, Alberto kicked Ricardo in the head for “costing” him the match, the beat him with his own bucket and then wedged his head between the steel steps in the apron, where Del Rio would hit him with a missal dropkick. Looks like that relationship is done.

A suited up Cody Rhodes is in the ring now with a gift (presumably the MITB briefcase) in a wet box. Cody had thrown Sandow’s case into the Gulf of Mexico after Damien screwed him to win it in the first place. Rhodes then reveals the briefcase, which is now covered in seaweed and algae. Damien comes out and makes Cody drop the cast in the ring and leave so that he doesn’t get trick. Rhodes leaves the ring as asked, but then runs back in as Sandow does and beats him out of the ring. Cody then opens the case, removes the now soaking wet title contract and throws the case at Sandow. Like the previous match, this segment worked for being short and to the point.

I was fascinated to know that there really was a contract in there
I was fascinated to know that there really was a contract in there

Ryback out next for a WrestleMania rematch against Mark Henry with a heel/face switcheroo in effect. Ryback is treated like Punk or any other smaller wrestler against Henry, chipping away at Mark only to be dropped with single hits. After being taked down twice, Ryback ducks away from a chop and leaves the ring, decided he has had enough and takes the loss via count out. Waste of Henry.

Backstage, the Bellas talking about how great they are on Total Divas, when Eva Marie comes out to congratulate them on beating Natalya, who then comes out to slap Brie (I know because of the boobs). The segment ends without a peep from the announcers. That was nothing but a commercial for the show, although I can’t act surprised considering how they advertise Sonic and their own app, so promoting a WWE reality show should be the most blatant thing ever.

John Cena now in the ring to cut his Summerslam promo. He says he’s used to being a target, but this is different as a lot of the fans prefer Daniel Bryan to him (same can be said for Punk, Ziggler, Henry and the Rock). Cena then goes into the same old schtick about how he won’t change for anybody and he is who he is right down to the t-shirts and cereal (yes, somehow he IS Fruity Pebbles). He explains that Bryan glorifies wrestling in gyms and auditoriums because that’s where he’d rather be there then in the spotlight while Cena keeps coming back after all of his injuries. Cena agreed that if he was fired tomorrow he would never wrestle again, but that is only because he loves the WWE so much that he wouldn’t tarnish the WWE Championship. I’m not sure he knows he wouldn’t get to take that with him. He compares Bryan glorifying his ROH past over the WWE to a football player glorifying Arena League success to the NFL, saying the the WWE is only real game in town (that part is true). He calls Bryan unoriginal for saying he can’t wrestle, yet is an eleven-time champion and dares Daniel to underestimate him as the crowd chants “boring,” adding that Bryan doesn’t realize that if he loses he has to admit that he just isn’t that good. Cena wraps it up by saying that everyone can cheer for who they want to but Cena has been rolling for six months.

At this point, Randy Orton comes out with his MITB briefcase even though there is absolutely no chance of him cashing in right now. He tells Cena that he doesn’t care who wins at Summeslam because either way he can cash in his contract whenever he wants, and it is only a matter of time before he becomes WWE Champion. After he finishes, the Shield makes their way ringside, surrounding Orton and Cena, using the briefcase and title respectively as weapons. Daniel Bryan then runs in (still with his hair tied back) to even the odds and send the Shield away. Raw GM Brad Maddox then makes his way out to announce that due to all the drama, Orton, Bryan and Cena will face the Shield in a tag match for the main event. You mean he didn’t have a main event until the middle of the show? The whole segment just had way too many run ins.

Tons of Funk (I hated writing that but its shorter than Brodus and Tensai) out for a match against somebody that we’ll never know because here come the Wyatt Family. This may be the best character work the WWE has done in a while. I really enjoy their entrance and look. I’m just curious how they look in a regular match. Wait a minute. They were supposed to come out and Luke and Erick are Brodus and Tensai’s opponents. I know it had to happen at some point but I just didn’t expect it. They make short work of the fat dancers, as Erick steam rolls Clay to stop a splash in the corner, allowing Luke to clothesline Tensai and hold down Brodus so that Erick can hit a splash on Tensai to take the match. These are some big dudes. Bray then came in to hit Brodus with his finisher (front facing Cross Rhodes?) before cutting a promo about Kane, saying that the Devil’s favorite demon is a lie while he is the truth. He tells Kane to follow the buzzard and is freaky as all hell. Kane then responds by blowing up the ring and (through the big screen) telling Bray that he sees through his words and likes how Wyatt wants to maim everyone in his path. The difference is that Kane isn’t trying to spread a message, he just does it to amuse himself. This gets a nice pop from the crowd and Kane announces that he will be facing Bray at Summerslam (woo!). He adds that no one will be able to save him because the ring will be on fire (WOO HOO!). So does a “ring of fire” mean an inferno match? Is it something else? Either way I’m ready for seriously yet not as rapey Kane to be back and he makes a great first real opponent for Bray Wyatt. I really liked this segment.

How do you make Bray Wyatt creepier? Add fire
How do you make Bray Wyatt creepier? Add fire

For some reason there is now a Divas match without AJ, as Kaitlyn faces Layla. Layla turned on Kaitlyn to help AJ beat her on Smackdown (brining the return of the ass slap tap out) because she wants attention. Yup. Just attention. Layla is a solid worker but she is way over the top as a heel. It’s distracting. Kaitlyn was setting up for a spear when AJ came out (thank god) to distract her so that Layla can lay her out with a round house kick and steal the victory. Layla and AJ then skip around the ring and head out. This match was a hot mess.

The crap fest continues as Christian squares of against Heath Slater. Slater gets some offense in thanks to the rest of 3MB providing a distraction, but Christian comes back with a top rope dropkick and spears him (after Slater was to busy playing air guitar to pay attention) to pick up the win. This match certainly existed.

CM Punk out next to take on Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel as part of his mission to beat all the Heyman guys on the way to Paul himself. As soon as Axel and Heyman comes out, Punk heads up the ramp to fight Paul, who then runs away with Curtis fighting CM. Then eventually get back in the ring and start the match. Punk applies a standing leg lock and is in full control as he dives through the ropes into Axel on the outside. Curtis took control during the commercial and works him over, yelling that he and not Punk is the best in the world. At this time, Heyman decides to come back to the ringside. Punk, staring at Heyman, gets out of a chin lock to hit a back body drop and immediately crawls toward Paul. Curtis then attacks the distracted CM to regain control. Punk then hits a cross body splash and instead of going for the cover he again goes after Paul, only for Axel to blindside him with a clothesline. Punk then dodges a top rope attack to again take momentum, hitting the swinging neckbreaker and running high knee, but his knocked off the rop rope by Axel before he can attempt a flying elbow. Curtis hits the running neck breaker for a two count and the crowd is into it. CM clocks Curtis with a roundhouse kick to send him toward the apron where Heyman is giving him advice. Punk then dives over and starts choking Paul like Homer Simpson chokes Bart.

Before he can do anymore damage, Brock Lesnar comes out and heads toward the ring. Punk tosses Heyman aside and gets ready for Brock but Axel pulls him out of the ring from behind and attacks him. CM quickly hits Axel with a GTS and grabs a chair for Lesnar, only Brock tosses the chair aside and they start going at it. Punk slips out of an F-5, sending Lesnar into the ring post and dropping him with a clothesline off the announce table. Brock comes back with a belly to belly suplex however, and brings him into the ring where Punk (now with a bloody chin) evades another F-5 to take Brock down with a chair. Punk was about to go after Heyman with the chair when Lesnar grabbed it from behind and finally hit Punk with an F-5. Lesnar then follows Paul’s orders and beats Punk down with the chair before heading out. Very entertaining series of events. The match was good, and the aftermath was even better. Really looking forward to the payoff at Summerslam.

This picture tells you everything you need to know about this stroy
This picture tells you everything you need to know about this stroy

Backstage Heyman, Lesnar and Axel cut a promo for Punk. Lesnar says that he took the best from the best in the world, and that he is the best and the beast. He then tells Heyman to say something stupid. Paul obliges and tells Punk that he may not make it to Summerslam because next week Paul wants to fight Punk one on one, thinking that CM will be too injured due to the beating he just suffered to take him on.

Back in the ring, Fandango (over with tonight’s crowd) is out to face Kofi Kingston, who is making his return after a couple of months due to injury, and ditched his usual gear for long tights. Kingston starts fast with a dropkick but ‘Dango controls the pace with a very boring series of moves (chin lock, irish whip, clothesline). You’d think he would have more acrobatic moves. After dodging a second rope knee, Kofi hits his runnings chop and dropkick, followed by the Boom Drop. Fandango rolls away to avoid Trouble in Paradise but Kofi avoids another leaping attack to finally land Trouble in Paradise to cap off an impressive finish to take the match. Solid return for Kingston.

Backstage, Stephanie came crying to Triple H because Vince chewed her head off after the Daniel Bryan makeover segment. That was the last straw for Trips, who calls out Vince for being completely out of his mind, running around doing whatever he wants and Triple H has had enough. He said he’s not going to watch this ship go down because of Vince, and he is going to stop whatever Vince is planning on doing at Summerslam. Could they have shown is Vince chewing out Steph? That would have been fun. Either way they have my attention.

The Real American’s are draped with “We the People” flags while Zeb Colter calls the Packers overrated and tells the Wisconsin crowd that they eat too much cheese. Without the immigrant thing on the table, I’m a little unclear as to what Colter wants anymore. Anyway Swagger and Cesaro are out to face the Usos. Jimmy start strong against Jack until Swags pulls him up to drop Jimmy into a Cesaro uppercut to give the heels control. I really like how Swagger and Cesaro work as a team. Cesaro runs in after a Swaggerbomb to leapfrog over Jack and land feet first onto Jimmy. Nice move. After Jimmy hits a spinning kick, Jay gets in on a hot tag and cleans house. Swagger breaks up a pin but Jimmy tosses him out of the ring and follows up with a splash over the top rope. Cesaro then jumps off the top rope but Jay hits him with a superkick to the stomach (was supposed to be the face) for a two count. Meanwhile, Jack whipped Jimmy into the post outside and hit Jay from the apron into Antonio who his a Neutralizer to secure the win. Pretty good match from these guys.

Big E gets a chance to make up for his DQ loss to DOLPH ZIGGLER last week on Raw due to AJ interfering. Dolph uses is speed to avoid Langston, hitting a dropkick but finally getting tagged with a clothesline on the apron to send him to the outside. Big E throws him back in and we get more of the same, as Ziggler does a good job evading Big E only to occasionally get flattened with a power move. Dolph rolled away from a splash to hit a fame-asser (more like a fame-half-asser) for two count as Kaitlyn come down the ramp to start a brawl with AJ. Somehow they end up in the ring, distracting Ziggler long enough for Langston to lay him out with a clothesline. Big E stares down Kaitlyn, who leaves the ring after realizing what she did, and Langston finishes the match with a Big Ending as AJ gets the last laugh again.

Main event time as Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and John Cena takes on the Shield. Orton starts by controlling the pace on Rollins with some punches in the corner and a suplex leading into Daniel Bryan hitting a missel dropkick. That knocks Seth into the Shield’s corner where Ambrose is tagged in and runs at Bryan. Daniel ducks under him however and dropkicks Reigns off the apron before back flipping over Dean to hit him with a running clothesline and a dive to the outside through the ropes. Bryan then tosses Rollins into the post and is about the follow with a running knee off the apron when Ambrose dropkicks him from inside the ring down to the floor. From here the Shield takes control while working over Bryan. After escaping a back body drop with back flip, Bryan hits Roman with a roundhouse kick and tags in Cena, only the ref was distracted by Ambrose so he didn’t see the tag. Ambrose then knocks Cena out of the ring, only to be attacked by Orton, knocking Dean to the outside just in time for Rollins to whip Bryan into Randy, knocking him off the apron to the outside as well. Back in the ring, Daniel reverses a roll up cover to apply the YES Lock onto Seth Rollins. It is only broken up by the rest of Shield, who break up the hold as the bell rings (I guess the faces win by DQ even though there wasn’t really outside interference?).

Welcome to the big time
Welcome to the big time

Cena runs in to help Bryan clear the Shield from the ring. Bryan gets a YES chant going but Orton runs in, thinking Daniel hit him on purpose, and drops him with an RKO. Now Cena and Orton are staring each other down as the Shield run in again. Orton and Cena clear out the Shield, forcing them to retreat, but Randy turns on Cena and hits him with an RKO, and now he’s thinking about his MITB briefcase. With both Bryan and Cena down, Orton grabs the ref but the Shield go back in the ring, causing Randy to hold up. Reigns hits Cena with a spear and Bryan gets triple powerbombed as Orton watches from the stage to end the show. If CM Punk taught us anything, it’s that standing idle while a face gets beaten up is the first sign of a heel turn, and it certainly seems that the long long long awaited Randy Orton heel turn is upon us. That’s good since it isn’t as much fun having a face hold the briefcase, and we know Orton has been bitching about going heel for months now. An average Raw finished strong and kept me in suspense for Summerslam. Well done.

Everything Maintains Status Quo On Pre-Recorded Raw

RAW_1053_Photo_244Since Raw was pre-taped last week and all of the results are already out, this week’s recap is going to be a little thin. To make up for the lack my babbling writing style this week, here is Daniel Bryan chokeslamming Seth Rollins during the current Australian tour:

The man is taking off in the WWE in the same way that his “YES” chant took off after last year’s WrestleMania. It’s pretty amazing, and it takes me back to when I first started writing about wrestling here and was down on Bryan for not stepping up in big moments. He turned me into a big Bryan fan and seems to get better every night. Now he is main eventing one of the WWE’s main PPV’s with John Cena of all people in a true David vs. Goliath story. So far they are also avoiding throwing the Bella twins into the mix and cross promoting it with the Diva’s reality show. There is still plenty of time for that to happen, but if they can avoid the cheap plug (I know that’s asking a lot) it can be something pretty special. I don’t even want to think about how great it would be for Bryan to actually win. I just couldn’t take the disappointment if I did manage to talk myself into Bryan winning.

Also, happy 33rd birthday to Dolph Ziggler!

Anyway, on to the show which immediately begins with Vince McMahon walking down the ramp with Brad Maddox. Maddox apologizes to the crowd for allowing Cena to select his Summerslam opponent. Vince continues to call Bryan out as undersized and not championship material until Daniel comes out to defend himself. I like how they are using the real rumors about Vince thinking Bryan isn’t a main event caliber guy. McMahon and Bryan argue about respect, and who is give who less of it. Vince asks Bryan if he respects John Cena, which Daniel of course says he does. McMahon then says that Cena is lying about thinking Bryan deserves a title shot, and was only selected because Cena knows Bryan can’t beat him. He throws in that Bryan can’t even beat Kane, who he’ll face later. Vince then says that Bryan doesn’t have the “ruthless aggression” that Cena had in the beginning, but then adds that he is sick of Cena thinking he runs the place (when of course Vince does). McMahon doesn’t want Cena to win, but doesn’t want Bryan as champion. The only way Vince says he wins is if both Cena and Bryan spontaneously combust at Summerslam. Bryan responds by saying Cena is making a mistake if he underestimates him, and that it doesn’t matter what Vince thinks of him, only what the fans want. The fans of course go nuts for Bryan, and Daniel says the crowd wants a new champion. Solid opening segment that did just enough to prep Bryan/Kane.

Mark Henry leads off with his first match as a face, joining the Usos against the Shield. Henry crushes Ambrose and Rollins one on one, then does the same to Reigns after kicking him in the middle of a test of strength. Love the heel attack from the face. Shield bounces back on the Usos, and I just realized how cool it is for Roman to be in all these matches with his cousins (at least i think that’s how they are related in the whole Rock/Rikishi family) the Usos. The match is basically Henry dominating, the Shield gaining momentum on the Usos, then Henry coming in to dominate again. Cole pointed out that Jay is the Uso with a tattoo on his chest. So that’s something. Henry gets one last hot tag and cleans up until Reigns jumps in and spears him. Mark makes it to his corner to tag Jimmy Uso, who has his top rope splash blocked by Ambrose putting up his knees. Ambrose hits his finisher and wins the match for the Shield, but Mark Henry attacks the Shield immediately after the decision, tossing them out of the ring. Basic match that pushes along Henry as a monster face.

Doing what he does
Doing what he does

Backstage, Ryback slapped a guy in the face with peanut butter and put him through the craft services tables because he thinks he said something to him. He sure is a heel.

Meanwhile, Kane is asking Brad Maddox where the Wyatt family is since they beat him up last week. Maddox says they aren’t in the building, but he can send a message to them by beating his friend Daniel Bryan.

Rob Van Dam taking on Fandango next. ‘Dango had the lights missing from his entrance, which is already a bad sign for him. Fandango cartwheels over RVD to avoid a monkey flip, but gets tagged with a superkick instead. After being hit outside the ring with an RVD moonsault off the apron, Fandango drops Van Dam’s throat onto the top rope and takes control with the best spot having Fandango dodge a roundhouse kick to deliver one of his own. Rob eventually does hit a roundhouse to go into his signature set. After rolling thunder and the monkey flip, RVD sets up for the frog splash when Fandango rolls out of the ring and heads up the ramp. RVD wins via pinfall and that match was a little took quick. ‘Dango poses and says he name on the stage before leaving with his music playing. How does that work? Why would Fandango’s music play after he loses?

Backstage again, AJ is bitching about Big E allowing Kaitlyn to spear her all the time, making her freak out about her upcoming match with her. AJ tells us that every time she is speared a baby cries and thinks Langston doesn’t stop the spears because he likes to watch her or something confusing. Big E even looks confused over the whole thing.

The Divas match is next and has AJ controlling the pace with various arm locks. Kaitlyn tries to roll her up for a sneaky pin, but Lee slides out and knees her in the face instead. Eventually Kaitlyn gets going after an elbow in the corner, hitting a back breaker and going for the spear. AJ blocks it with a knee to the face and regains control. Big E looks bored out of his mind the entire time, even rolling his eyes a lot. Out of nowhere, AJ bounces off the rope to set up an attack, but is laid out with a spear instead and Kaitlyn pins the Divas Champion to win. AJ loses her mind in the ring and screams like a freak, which is the perfect time for DOLPH ZIGGLER to come out and congratulate her on another loss. Ziggler then challenges Langston to a match right now and he agrees! Sweet!

They start off by playing cat and mouse as Ziggler avoids Langston, hitting a flurry of punches until Big E finally catches him with a chest to the face or something. He keeps yelling “your time is up! it’s my time!” in the voice of Cookie Monster. He hits a belly to belly suplex and follows with a running splash for a two count. This is as good as Langston has ever looked (of course it’s with Ziggler). Dolph escapes a bear hug but falls into a back breaker instead. Langston hits a handful of shoulders in the corner before Dolph finally dodges one, sending Big E into the post to start the momentum swing. Ziggler hits a dropkick and escapes a Big Ending, then lowering the top rope to send Langston out of the ring. While he’s on the outside, AJ runs in and attacks Ziggler, giving Dolph the win via DQ. Ziggler loosens AJ’s grip on his hair (Dolph: “Are you kidding me?”) and heads up the ramp while Big E runs in to yell at AJ for costing him the match. Ziggler then rushes back in and hits Langston with a Zig Zag to wrap things up. Well done.

"Are you kidding me?"
“Are you kidding me?”

Backstage again, Bryan is asking Cena if what Vince said about Cena’s opinion of Bryan is true. John says all McMahon does is lie in order to promote and sell tickets, while Bryan repeats that Vince McMahon has always been honest with him. Pointless segment.

World Heavyweight Champion, Alberto Del Rio takes on Christian (who will challenge ADR for the WHC at Summerslam). If there was ever a major title match that I couldn’t care less about, it’s this one. They immediately go into an extended chin lock and Christian botches a takedown before getting into another chin lock that draws boos from the pro Del Rio crowd of Laredo, Texas. Del Rio slips away from a baseball slide, then dodges Christen running at him, causing Captain Charisma to go into the steel steps. Del Rio follows that with a running dropkick pinning Christian’s arm against the steps and that was far and away the best part of this match. Christian avoids an inverted suplerplex to land a tornado DDT for a two count and Christian is on the comeback trail. He hits a dropkick from the top rope for two, but Del Rio stops it by pulling Christian’s face into the turnbuckle. Del Rio can’t help but smile as the crowd keeps chanting “Mexico” for the whole match, and Alberto hits a tilt-a-wirl back breaker for another two count. After taking a kick to the head, Christian ducks under an enziguri, tries to apply the Kill Switch but Del Rio escapes it, then Christian rolls out of the cross arm-breaker right into a roll up pin to win the match. The crowd made this watchable but these two guys just don’t do much for me anymore.

Hey remember Wade Barrett? He’s out to job to newly faced Cody Rhodes who recently threw Damien Sandow’s Money in the Bank briefcase into the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently Sandow can’t swim. Sandow started strong by clotheslining Rhodes out of the ring and keeping the momentum on the outside. Wade continues to dominate for the bulk of the match until Cody hits a vertical moonsault to turn things around. Cody then evades a pump-handle slam, turning it into Cross Rhodes to win the match. Nice and quick. Sandow then comes out to yell at Cody for throwing away his MITB briefcase, and says he filed a complaint with the WWE. Damien blames Cody’s family background for the way he is, and says he should send him back to the circus where his family belongs. Good segment.

Goodnight sweet prince
Goodnight sweet prince

Time for the first of the two main event matches as Daniel Bryan faces his former tag team partner Kane. Part of me wants them to just hug it out again. After a short stare down, Bryan makes the first move and attacks Kane with a jumping knee. Kane powers him away. Bryan chips away, Kane powers him back, rinse and repeat. Apparently, winning this match would make Kane the #1 contender after Summerslam. Kane stops the usual backflip into jumping clothesline spot with a boot to the face and is in control of the match. Bryan escapes a chokeslam and hits a running knee off the apron to even the field. Kane is back in control after the break however, causing Bryan to toe drag him into the turnbuckle and follow up with a missel dropkick off the top rope and three more running in the corner. Kane avoids a second top rope attack to hit a sidewalk slam and hit his leaping clothesline off the top rope. Kane then goes for the chokeslam but Bryan grabs his arm to attempt the YES Lock. Kane avoids again goes for the chokeslam, but Bryan grabs Kane’s head and applies a small package to get the win. It was very similar to how Cesaro lost to Bryan, but it still worked as a strong finish to a solid match. Kane chokeslammed Bryan after the match in frustration, but then after Daniel headed out the Wyatt’s shows up to attack Kane! Kane initially escapes the ring and grabs Bray, but the other Wyatt’s stop him and eventually take him out. Bray finishes him off and tells him to be careful who he says all that “devil’s favorite demon” stuff. Wyatt’s are making a strong impression on me.

Crowd killer time as Natalya takes on Brie Bella. This is basically the AJ/Kaitlyn match if AJ was more bitchy. The match goes on for a while so that Cole and Lawler can talk about Total Divas. Eventually, Natalya comes back with a power slam and a tornado punch for a two count. She then tries to apply the Sharpshooter when Nikki Bella walks out and distracts Natalya with duck calls, allowing Brie to sneak up and get the roll up pin victory. The crowd hates it and even for a Bellas match, that was a lame finish. Do I need to watch Total Divas to get the duck call thing?

R-Truth now in the ring to face Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel. Paul Heyman grabs the mic before the match to talk about how he is the best manager ever, leading into how Brock Lesnar will destroy CM Punk at Summerslam. He then gets to Axel, stating that just being associated with Heyman puts Curtis over the top. Aside from one short burst from Truth, Axel controls the match. After Axel takes down Truth, CM Punk comes out, takes down Axel and goes after Heyman. Punk gets his hands on Paul briefly but Curtis breaks them up. Punk drops Axel again but Heyman escapes up the ramp. This match only existed to give Punk some screen time.

Prepare your anus
Prepare your anus

Backstage, Triple H is yelling at Vince for being so hard on Daniel Bryan. Vince says he just wants someone to beat John Cena and he doesn’t think Bryan can do it. Instead, he wants someone like Triple H, just 20 years younger (burn!). Steph then butts in and says that all Daniel needs is a corporate makeover (huh?). Vince says “good luck” and walks out. So that’s what Bryan will be up to next week I guess.

It’s finally time for the match that has been closing out Raw after the cameras go off for weeks now, as WWE Champion John Cena squares off against Ryback in a tables match. I had been hearing about it for weeks, then I saw it myself two weeks ago. It was fine. Never any doubt who would win. In classic Cena fashion, he was dominated for a good portion only to pull an AA out of nowhere through the table to win the match. That’s pretty much what happens here, including Ryback breaking a few tables on his own. The only weird spot had each man holding a set of steps and throwing them into each other. Finish was about the same though, as Cena avoided a meathook clothesline, allowing him to pull out an AA out of nowhere to win the match. I might have thought more of it if I hadn’t seen it two weeks ago.

After the match, Daniel Bryan ran out and grabbed the WWE Championship. He started to hand it to Cena before pulling it back and saying it is going to be his. Cena didn’t like that too much, as he yanked it back to say he’d have to earn the title. Daniel then started a YES chant and the show abruptly ended.

Considering it was a taped show, all they really had to do here was keep everything status quo and put on a couple of matches for the sake of having something to air. They did exactly that. No more. No less. Here’s hoping they step things up next week when they are back live.

Punk Vs. Brock Offical, Bryan Goes Through The Gauntlet On Raw

RAW_1052_Photo_183-1If things keep happening on Smackdown I might just have to start recapping that as well.

Last week, Vickie Guerrero was hired by Vince McMahon to be the permanent GM of Smackdown, just two weeks after being fired from her position on Raw. The whole thing is just a way to further evolve the power struggle between Triple H and Vince, but I’m just done with the whole GM thing. It loses even more steam when anyone in the back can make a match. Before Vickie took over on Friday (Tuesday, I know), Booker T, Teddy Long and Raw GM Brad Maddox all booked matches. It’s all just one big plot device that doesn’t require actual wrestling to push stories. It also appears that we’ve seen the last of Chris Jericho for a while as he’s on tour with Fozzy. We could see him back in time for the Royal Rumble, but either way I’d pencil him in for WrestleMania. More importantly, Big E almost did the impossible by breaking out of the friend zone and kissing AJ. Langston put on the brakes however and the awkwardness can continue would him and Kaitlyn.

As for the present, with the WWE going on tour to China, Australia and South Africa, tonight’s show will be the last live program until August 5th. So if anything big is on the horizon, I’d expect it to happen now so that it isn’t spoiled by those in attendance at the pre-recorded shows.

We kickoff tonight with Brad Maddox congratulating himself for letting Cena pick his opponent for Summerslam, and now we get Cena and Daniel Bryan signing their contracts. General Managers, paperwork being signed, the excitement just doesn’t stop. Cena comes out first and Maddox suggests that John only picked Bryan because he is so much smaller and therefore easier to defeat. Before Cena can retort, Bryan himself comes out to the ring. Maddox asks Bryan why he thinks John chose him, but Cena butts in to say Brad and the rest of the front office don’t look over Bryan because of his size, and if that is all that matters than Khali should be champion (already happened once). Cena mentions all the smaller guys like Michaels and Guerrero, before saying that he thinks Daniel earned his shot and deserves it, but warns that he won’t just hand it over. Cena signs the contract and says that Bryan is the best the WWE has to offer, but at Summerslam he’ll prove that the best isn’t good enough. Bryan signs the contract too and starts to talk when Maddox cuts him off and tries to end the segment. Bryan has none of it and starts talking about how he deserves this title shot. Maddox interjects, saying that there are still people in the WWE that don’t think he has earned it, but will put him in multiple matches to prove his worth. So the story so far seems to be all about Bryan being the underdog no matter how hard he tries (just a continuation of the weak link thing). Meanwhile I’m just waiting to see how the Bella’s get thrown in to this. With the Divas reality show and Bryan and Cena each dating a Bella they can’t miss this opportunity right?


The lead match tonight puts World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio against Sheamus, in a battle that just refused to end last year. I’m curious who Del Rio ends up facing at Summerslam, and had thought of Sheamus just because there doesn’t seem to be anyone else available. Del Rio focuses on a big bruise on Sheamus’ leg that he suffered at Money in the Bank. It looks like a giant ink blot. After Sheamus fights back however, ADR ignores it and focuses on the head for a while as Sheamus stops selling the leg injury. So that angle got wasted fast. Del Rio tries to apply the armlock hanging over the top rope, but Sheamus pulls him back up and punches him off the apron to the floor. Back from break, Sheamus is in control until Alberto hits a german suplex for a two count. Sheamus then dodges a kick to the head to hit a powerslam, with JBL noting that it would have been a back breaker if it wasn’t for the bad leg. The two start trading blows as Damien Sandow is shown watching from the back. Sheamus hits a kneelift and a jumping elbow, but Del Rio dodges a second power slam to hit a back stabber for two. Alberto then misses a dive into the ropes and gets his chest battered, followed by an Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus goes to the top rope but Del Rio runs up to hit him off with an enziguri for another two count. Sheamus then lands a rolling fireman’s carry but misses on the Brogue Kick and tweaks his leg injury. Sheamus further injuries himself attempting White Noise, buckling under the weight as Del Rio rolls him up by the bad leg for a victory via pinfall.

Backstage, Booker T and Teddy Long are being interviewed about Vickie taking over as GM of Smackdown. Booker said he was shocked, while Teddy takes offense to Booker abandoning him while Long held down Smackdown by himself, and took all of the abuse. Booker threatens to beat him up if he doesn’t shut his mouth, with Teddy criticizing Booker for resorting to violence first, saying that if he wasn’t going to remain Smackdown GM, then Vince made the right choice by not picking Booker either. Sounds like a Divas storyline,

Christian versus Titus O’Neil is next on the card in a match that is better suited for Superstars. I will give the Prime Time Players credit for having a cool shirt combining the whistle and the afro pick into one logo. Titus mocks Christian by clapping at the crowd as he overpowers Captain Charisma. After kicking him out of the ring, Titus carries Christian up the steps on his shoulder, then heaving him back into the ring over the top rope. O’Neil is dominating the match, even blowing the whistle while stomping him in the corner. Christian then comes back with a dropkick off the top rope. He goes for the Kill Switch but lets go to take out Darren Young. Young then goes for his finisher, only for Christian to escape, hit the Kill Switch, and win the match.

Backstage, Josh Matthews is interviewing Ryback about how he likes intimidating others. Ryback says he does, because he hates average and believes in the biggest animals getting to eat over the smaller ones. He then threatens Matthews until he pees his pants and runs off.

Mark Henry, fresh off his new three year contract and in his ring gear instead of a suit like last week, is out to the ring to talk about getting beat up by the Shield last week. He plays to the crowd by saying how he’s proud to be a Texan and proud of his effort against Cena, but not proud about how the Shield got the better of him. He says he’s not going to stand there and lull the crowd to sleep (someone finally said it) and challenges the Shield to come out and try it again. Sure enough, they show up and surround the ring. Henry barks at them to bring it and they attack him. Henry starts to get taken down when the Usos come out to assist. There is a very small pop and the Shield is cleared from the ring. Part of it could be Seth Rollins needing a second clothesline to get over the top rope, but I think it’s more about the Usos just not being over enough to generate a reaction from a run-in. It looks like Henry and the Usos will team up against the Shield at Summerslam. Meh.

Backstage, Cena is talking to Bryan about his multiple matches tonight, with Daniel telling John not to come out and help him, as he sees this as a chance to prove himself. Bryan says that if Cena comes out at any point to help him, it will prove that all the things Cena said about how tough and good Bryan is are full of crap. I’m not sure I like a face Bryan that is all calm and logical. Give me crazy Bryan back please.

Not to be out jobbed by his partner, Darren Young is now in singles action against DOLPH ZIGGLER! Dolph uses his speed to evade Young and couple times before hitting a standing dropkick. Young bounces back with a back body drop onto the top turnbuckle and takes control for a while. A lot of chin locks later and Ziggler starts his comeback by dodging Young running at him in the corner. Dolph starts hitting Darren from the top of the turnbuckle but Young counters with a reverse electric chair drop for a two count. After arguing with the ref, Young starts playing to the crowd when Dolph sneaks up from behind to hit the Zig Zag and win the match. Shortly after the pinfall, Big E and AJ run out to attack Ziggler, who ducks under the big clothesline and lowers the rope to send Langston out of the ring. Big E runs back in and Dolph runs out on the other side, heading up the ramp as Big E and AJ watch him leave while being all pissy in the ring. I’m curious how Big E does in a one on one feature match. So far he’s mostly just been good for run ins and a couple of tag matches. He’s have to carry his weight in a PPV singles match against Ziggler. I’m sure Dolph will manage most of the match though.

If you look close you can actually see the friend zone between them
If you look close you can actually see the friend zone between them

If you’ve been watching any WWE programming at all then you know about the Divas reality show debuting this week. They’ve been shoving the damn thing down our throats. To even further promote it, Miz TV has the whole cast, and the crowd can’t stop booing it. This blows. The one bit of information I took from it was Miz announcing that he’ll be the host of Summerslam this year. At least that means he doesn’t have a match, right? Miz decides to call Jerry Lawler to the ring to conduct the interviews. Lawler introduces himself to Eva Marie, who immediately takes the mic, says she wants to make a name for herself and slaps Lawler. So she’s a heel I guess. That’s how it ended. What a waste of time.

Backstage, Triple H is calling out Maddox, for letting Vince McMahon puts words in his mouth by saying he is too small to be champion. HHH says the only reason he didn’t come out and reverse his decision for Bryan’s matches is because he thinks Bryan is the future and will overcome this. He adds that there are two trains leaving the station (Triple H and Vince) and only one of them is going anywhere so he better make sure he’s on the right one. Steph then talks to him about how she has an idea to help him out, and will tell him about it once it is all worked out. My time is further wasted.

Damien Sandow at the announce table as Fandango faces Cody Rhodes, who still has beef with Damien for screwing him out of his MITB victory. Cody and ‘Dango exchange moves until Rhodes is dropped with a clothesline from the apron. The in ring action is average, but Sandow talking about how he was the better man and was thinking of allowing Cody to be his butler (but is taking that back because of how he is losing to Fandango) is great. Cody bounces back with a big moonsault that Fandango needs to run under so that Cody doesn’t break his neck. ‘Dango rolls out of the ring and Sandow goes to the apron to try distracting Cody. Fandango tries to attack to distracted Cody, but Rhodes steps aside, sending ‘Dango into Damien, taking them both out with a Disaster Kick and finishing off Fandango with Cross Rhodes to win the match while eyeing down Sandow, who is going up the ramp. Pretty blah match.

Via satellite
Via satellite

CM Punk out to the ring now to address the crowd following the attack he suffered last week from Brock Lesnar. He says that Lesnar hit him with his best shot until Punk was a broken heap ringside. Punk says that no matter how hard Lesnar hit him, he kept getting back up, and is still standing now. He says Brock can beat him down but he can not keep him down. CM talks up Lesnar by mentioning all of his accolades and accomplishments over WWE and UFC, saying that his biggest weapon was always putting fear into his opponents. Punk then says that he is not afraid of Brock Lesnar. Punk then says that Paul Heyman made the wrong decision by turning his back on him, and CM will make him pay for it and prove that the ring is his yard. He says he would have proved is against Lesnar last week if Heyman had not attacked him from behind for a second time. Punk promises that there will not be a third time and demands that he faces Lesnar at Summerslam, naming the match “The Best versus the Beast.” Paul Heyman then pops up via satellite, saying that heroes are either cowards that run out of options or fools that don’t know when to stay down. Heyman adds that Lesnar is in peak condition while Punk has several injuries. Paul then accepts Punk’s challenge for Summerslam, adding that the best is the beast, and that is Heyman’s best friend, Brock Lesnar. I hope he didn’t hurt Punk’s feelings. I’ve heard some people say that a stipulation is needed to make things a little more fair. I’d love to see this take a more MMA feel to it, although Punk’s words tonight suggest a last man standing match could be in order.

Rob Van Dam out next against Wade Barrett, who uses a sneak attack to try taking control early. After RVD kicked him out of the ring, Wade again takes advantage of Rob’s pandering to the crowd by pulling him down and taking back the momentum. After a series of big kicks, RVD hits a high kick in the corner, nails rolling thunder and a front flip off the top rope for two. Rob then reverses an irish whip to hit a spinning kick in the corner, leading to a five star frog splash that wins the match for Rob Van Dam. Quick match, as the others seem to be. The whole show so far seems to just be getting the marquee guys out there just to say they were there, leading to Daniel Bryan getting to close things out.

On to the aforementioned main event. Jack Swagger is the first one out, with Zeb Colter working a Maury “You are not the father” joke about Texas and Steve Austin (the historical figure, not the wrestler or the Six Million Dollar Man) before saying that Cena giving Bryan a  title shot was a handout to someone less fortunate. Anyway Swagger starts off strong, overpowering Bryan with boots and shoulders as the crowd shouts “O-U Sucks” (Swags went to Oklahoma). Swagger then blocks a diving attack from Bryan with an elbow, mocks the crowd with an upside down Longhorn sign and hits a Swaggerbomb. Jack then tries to pull Bryan up, but Daniel applies the YES Lock (it’s YES Lock now right?) and gets Swagger to tap out to win the first match.

So close to the rope
So close to the rope
Setting up the finish
Setting up the finish

The second match is against Antonio Cesaro, who fortunately is already ringside. Once again, Bryan is getting worked over, taking an upper cut out of mid air and getting shoved hard into the turnbuckle. Bryan then taking Antonio down and teases the mexican surfboard, instead jumping up and stomping on both legs. Cesaro then came back with a suplex and locked in a chin lock. Bryan gets out, back flips over Cesaro and hits the jumping clothesline, following up with a flurry of kicks. Daniel misses the roundhouse and gets put into another chin lock. Bryan gets out of that and hits a pair of running dropkicks in the corner for a two count. Bryan goes to the top rope, but Swagger knocks him down into a Cesaro uppercut for another two count. Antonio continues the pressure with a jumping stomp and starts taunting Bryan with slaps to the head, and Daniel starts his comeback with a boot up on Cesaro running at him in the corner. Bryan hits a roundhouse kick to the head for two, and goes to the top rope where Antonio knocks him down. Cesaro stuns him with a jumping uppercut and goes for a suplerplex. Bryan fights him off  twice, putting Cesaro in the tree of woe to lands a running dropkick. Bryan then lifts him back up to attempt a back body drop from the top rope. Cesaro countered however by shifting his weight onto Bryan, and got a two count. It’s a nice surprise essentially giving Cesaro the main event match on Raw. The two trade uppercuts until Cesaro hits a huge flury of them in a row, culminating in one final blow that garners yet another two count. What looked like a sidestep of a match is turning out to be really good. Bryan escapes the Neutralizer and starts pummeling him with elbows, throwing Antonio out of the ring and taking both Swagger and Antonio out with a dive through the ropes. Bryan brings Cesaro into the ring but misses on a top rope move. Cesaro then throws Daniel into the air to attempt another big uppercut, but Bryan turns it into a small package out of nowhere to win the match. That was really good. Bryan was great of course, but Cesaro really showed how good he can be.

Literally putting Bryan over
Literally putting Bryan over

Next for Daniel Bryan? Ryback. Bryan attacks quickly with kicks and knees, but gets taken down with one big punch. Daniel tries to fight back but is taken down each time with one big hit. Ryback puts a foot on Bryan and chants YES! to the crowd. He then taunts the crowd more as they chant “you can’t wrestle at him.” Bryan escapes a reverses a Lou Thesz press into a half crab that is broken when Ryback reaches the ropes. Ryback continues to dominate with a splash and a spine buster, setting up for the Meathook Clothesline. Bryan counters with a running knee however, following by a couple of running dropkicks in the corner. Ryback avoids a third with a falling clothesline for a two count. Ryback then pulls out a table, setting it up on the outside when Bryan knocks him into the announce table with a dive through the ropes. They both make it into the ring and Bryan hits a flurry of kicks to the chest. Ryback ducks under the roundhouse and goes for a powerbomb that Bryan turns into a victory roll for a two count. Ryback then avoids the YES Lock, only to get toe dragged into the corner and hit with a flying missal dropkick for a two count. Daniel quickly follows up by applying the YES Lock in the middle of the ring. Ryback drags himself to the rope to break the hold and rolls out of the ring. Daniel tries to pursue with a running knee off the apron but Ryback catches him and power bombs him into the floor. Ryback then powerbombs him through the table, giving Bryan the victory via DQ. It looked like Ryback was going to do more damage when Cena comes out to beat Ryback away. As Ryback is escaping, Cena challenges him to a Tables match that Ryback accepts. So that will happen next week (even though it has been happening as a dark match for over a month now after Raw). Quick cut to backstage where Vince McMahon has Maddox book Bryan in a match against his best buddy Kane, and the show closes with Bryan celebrating with the crowd.

This weeks Raw was just kind of going through the motions until the Cesaro/Bryan match. Everything else was breezed over up to that point. Quick matches, quick interviews. This week, Raw really felt like it wanted to only be two hours long. Maybe I was spoiled by last week’s incredible Raw, but this on was pretty disappointing. I expect more of the same on next week’s pre-recorded show.