Tag Archives: paul heyman

Raw Live Results And Reactions From Brooklyn

20121210_EP_LIGHT_brooklyn-brawler_C-homepageThe last time Raw was in my neck of the woods it was the night after WrestleMania. I had the chance to get tickets and passed since I was going to ‘Mania and didn’t think it would be as good. Man was I wrong. I ended up passing on one of the most memorable editions of Raw ever, with a crowd that is still making an impact today.

So now Raw is in Brooklyn, the night after a PPV (and a pretty good one in MITB), and I am not making the same mistake twice. I’ll be at the Barclays Center for RVD’s return to free TV, Punk’s reaction to being stabbed in the back by Paul E Dangerously, and Dolph Ziggler’s romantic squabbles with AJ Lee. I’m also expecting the Brooklyn Brawler to show up because it’s the place he’s named after for crying out loud.

Along with live Raw updates I’ll also throw in whatever I catch before and after the show is on the air, so BEWARE OF SPOILERS FOR SUPERSTARS (if you are really going to watch Superstars and care about spoilers).

 

733 big boom makes everyone wet their pants. Still trying to get in (apparently the boom was tons of funks entrance)
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745 ryback beat the brawler in record time on superstars. So that’s that.

753 over in mediocreland, Miz beat Slater with a figure four. He’s the Miz, and he…is…average.

800 Sometime! With Brad Maddox kicking things off
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Ziggler gets a rematch! I’m in!
802 Cena spoils the party. Makes some chatter and Bryan let’s him pick his Summerslam opponent. (We all know it’ll be Bryan).
807 Orton out with the briefcase to talk trash. He’ll take his time to cash in…
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809 but here comes Fandango! He makes Cena say his name and cuts Orton off. Randy doesn’t like that and we have our first match.

812 WAITING THROUGH COMMERCIALS

819 Back and forth affair. More offense from ‘Dango then I expected. Crowd is trying very hard to be outrageous. Not quite there yet.

828 A bloody handed Orton hits a superplex while the crowd does the wave, and wins with an RKO. Good match.

831 Backstage, Dolph Ziggler just dumped AJ! No way that’ll bite him in the ass later.

835 A suited up Mark Henry gave Cena credit for beating him and makes his case for Cena to pick him for Summerslam.
838 The Shield interrupts and surrounds the ring and brings him down (despite a good fight) with a triple powerbomb. I thought Henry was going to go through the ring. Nice pop.

445 Jericho booked to face RVD to try and impress Cena. Also because Hell Yeah!

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850 Ziggler and Del Rio now? We’re not even in the second hour. Damn good match but what did you expect?

902 Ziggler hits a fameasser off the top rope, but AJ comes out and rings the bell to distract him before he can cover. Del Rio blind sides Dolph with a kick to the head to win, and AJ runs in to slap the bejesus out of Ziggler until Big E dropped him with a Big Ending. Great match and well done finish.

913 R-Truth out (boo) but the Wyatt’s come out to beat him down (yay!).
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915 Bray cuts a promo about us being lied to, and that he’s the answer. Truth then comes in with a chair. Bray is left alone in the ring, begging Truth to attack. Instead, Bray psyches him out and attacks, with the other two Wyatt’s adding to the damage. Bray kisses Truth on the head and finishes him off. Crowd loved it and so did I.

924 The Real Americans come out, but somehow don’t use “I am a real American” as entrance music. Zeb wants Cens to choose one of his guys. The fans voted for the Usos to face them.
930 Usos sneak a win with a roll up in a bathroom break match.

937 Damien Sandow one on one against Christian. Sandow has an extra pep in his step as the crowd chants “you screwed Cody”
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941 Christan escapes the elbow of disdain to roll up Sandow and get the surprise win. Rhodes then runs out and beats up on Damien, forcing him out. Big pop for Cody.

942 They keep calling Cena’s decision just “The Decision.” I wonder who he’ll bring his talents to.

954 The non-injured Bella (Brie) takes on Naomi, who can actually wrestle. Naomi looked decent in victory and got more ring time than the Usos and Real Americans. No justice.

1000 Hour three starts with CM Punk calling out Lesnar and Heyman. Only Paul comes out though, and he says Punk doesn’t exist to him anymore. He says he made CM Punk, and turned on him because of how he abandoned him after ‘Mania. Ultimately, he screwed Punk because he “can’t beat Brock Lesnar.” Punk responds by saying he swears on Heyman’s children that he’ll get him and anyone associated to him. Epic promos by both.
1015 After some more jabber, Bock Lesnar comes out and brawls with Punk outside the ring. After some back and forth, Lesnar F-5s Punk onto the announce table. It doesn’t break because Punk has the worst luck with tables.

1030 Time for RVD versus Y2J and I’m damn pumped for it. Big pop for Van Dam of course
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1044 Excellent match. Everything you’d expect from both.
1054 RVD wins a hell of a match on a frog splash and that was worth the price if admission alone.

1108 Cena milks it for ages but finally does pick Daniel Bryan and the crowd goes nuts to close the show.
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1120 Cena put Ryback through a table to win the dark match and we’re out.

Overall a very good show and the commercial breaks didn’t kill me like I feared they would. Now I’m just jacked up for Bryan/Cena and Punk/Lesnar at Summerslam.

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Sandow And Orton Win As Heyman Turns On Punk At MITB

MITB13_Photo_302After a really good Raw that showcased the Wyatt family, Money in the Bank is here. With the Wyatt’s arrival is the update that Kane will not be able to compete in the All-Star MITB match for the WWE Championship, due to injuries he suffered during the Wyatt’s attack on him. Legit or not, we are rumored to have three options to replace him. A Wyatt of your choosing (Bray I guess), Kofi Kingston, and Khali. Khali can barely climb steps so forget a ladder. Meanwhile I really hope the Wyatt’s are not put in the match just because putting them in the title picture already seems too soon, and you can’t have them lose already. Kofi makes the most sense. Aside from that though, I’m pumped for another real Ziggler match (Sin Cara/Del Rio excluded), how an all heel ladder match will play out, and of course the return of Rob Van Dam. There is a lot to like going in.

We start off with the MITB match for the World Heavyweight Championship contract, and Dean Ambrose was sitting in the ring before the show even started. What a boss. Fandango came out next but was introduced first somehow. Cesaro and Swagger walked out together (awwww) with Zeb Colter walking them down the ramp to talk more about immigrants. Does he realize the only foreigner in this match is Cesaro? Colter isn’t even feuding with any other wrestler. He’s feuding with the fans! Well guess what? The Philly crowd gave a pretty loud “We the people” for him. Sandow and Rhodes came out together and continued the trend of Damien cutting off Cody whenever they spoke. Barrett came out on his own. Borrrrrrringgggg. I’ve never had so much to say about introductions.

You're welcome!
You’re welcome!

It starts off with everyone brawling in the ring, eventually leading to Swags and Cesaro clearing house as a team with another big “We the people” chant from the crowd. The ladder came out next and we had a Mexican standoff (sorry Zeb) between the Rhodes Scholars and Cesaro and Swagger, as each team held a chair. Cesaro then slammed Cody into a ladder, and Swags (after Rhodes hit Antonio with a Disaster Kick) knocked him out of the ring. Ambrose jumped in before Jack could climb the ladder, tossing him out before being stopped by Barrett. Cesaro and Swagger got a lot of the early offense in the match, but it’s now considerably more spread out. Wade cleared the ring with a ladder but got hit with a spinning kick by Fandango, who following with a springboard legdrop onto a ladder that was on Wade. Sandow got some offense in on ‘Dango in the ring (including a suplex onto a ladder) while Barrett and Ambrose traded blows outside. Wade then ripped and rung off a ladder and started clubbing Sandow with it. Haven’t seen that before. Barrett and Ambrose met at the top of the ladder in the ring, but Swagger pulled Wade off it and right into a Cesaro uppercut. Jack then tried to slam Ambrose off the ladder but Dean turned it into a DDT to take Swagger out for a while. Ambrose then ran up to stop Cesaro at the top of the ladder, but Antonio took out Dean with a sleeper hold. Rhodes then put Antonio upside down on his shoulders, and dropped him onto a ladder. Pretty devastating looking move. Barrett then slammed Cody onto a ladder on the ring floor, while Swagger hurled Sandow into the opposite side of the same ladder sticking out off the apron. Swagger then went to the top of the ladder in the ring, so Barrett climbed up and hit him with a Bull Hammer Elbow. Fandango then went up to drop Wade with a sunset flip power bomb off the top of the ladder. Huge move. Ambrose then took out ‘Dango with his front facing DDT off a ladder rung, then proceeded to stick his head in the middle of the ladder and swing it at everybody. Cesaro and Swagger then grabbed each end of the ladder, so Dean skinned the cat (after one failed attempt) and was trying to reach the briefcase with Antonio and Jack held him up. Realizing that plan, the Real Americans walked over to the ropes and dumped him out of the ring. After throwing the ladder at Barrett outside the ring, Cesaro stood on Swagger’s shoulders, who walked toward the briefcase so that Antonio can get it. Rhodes spoiled the effort with a dropkick that took them both down but that was awesome. Cody then hit Fandango and Barrett with Cross Rhodes. Cody then grabs the biggest ladder from outside the ring and brings it in. Ambrose meets him at the top of the ladder and they exchange blows, with Rhodes pulling Dean’s face into the ladder and yelling “see ya, bye” before tossing him off. The rest of the Shield run in to stop Cody though, beating him to a pulp. Rollins then hit Barrett with an enziguri and Fandango got speared, leaving only the Shield in the ring. It really looked like Cody was going to win for a second. All of a sudden, the Usos (who lost to the Shield in the pre show) ran in to take Rollins and Reigns out of the match, with Cesaro and Swagger helping them out. Meanwhile, Ambrose is climbing the ladder (which is a several feet off center toward the ramp) but Rhodes pushes the ladder over, sending Ambrose into the brawl outside, taking them all out (ohhhhh!). Cody is again alone in the ring and the crowd is buzzing as Rhodes climbs the ladder. He is about to win again when DAMIEN SANDOW of all people pushes his best friend off the ladder and grabs the briefcase to win the contract. Great great great match. Cody has slowly been changing my opinion of him and tonight was his moment for me. He was really good and was way over with the crowd. Sandow then gets major heat after barely doing anything for the entire match, sending Cody a dirty look before walking off. So it looks like Rhodes is now a face and will feud against Damien Sandow, who is now on the verge of winning the WHC. I love it.

Good times ahead
Good times ahead

New Raw General Manager Brad Maddox out to the ring in his first appearance since getting the position after Vickie Guerrero’s firing. He makes a bad joke about not being able to fill Vickie’s shoes because he can’t wear heels, then shows Vickie, who is in the arena as a pre-show panel member.  He then acts like a dope and makes a big deal to thank her and plays a “tribute” video to make her look like an ass (no problem there), complete with sappy music which I think was sung by Maddox (the only truly funny part of this). Brad then has the crowd give her a standing ovation before the Miz finally comes out (I’ve never said that before) to start his Intercontinental Championship match against Curtis Axel. This looked like something that should have been on Raw tomorrow instead of the second segment of a PPV.

The crowd chants ECW from the start thanks to Paul Heyman being ringside. This is the most old school manager/wrestler relationship I’ve seen in a while, as Heyman is constantly pulling Curtis back to give him advice. Very Bobby Heenan of him. Miz is the first to take control of the match as he hits a big leg sweep then causes Axel to do a back flip. Miz then decides to put that to a stop outside the ring, pretending to get hit while the ref is dealing with Axel on the other side of the ring. When the ref turns around it looks like Heyman popped Miz in the mouth, and Heyman is ejected from the match. The crowd is pissed and chants “We want Heyman” while Miz smiles like the natural heel he is. Axel actually thrives from this point though, hitting a back body drop to take the momentum. Curtis goes for another back body drop but Miz back flips out of it and starts hitting his assortment of kicks and forearms while the crowd boos the crap out of him. Miz eggs them on as he hits the jumping clothesline in the corner and the double axe handle off the top rope for a two count (he really needs to be a heel). Axel then evades the Skull Crushing Finale and goes for a Perfectplex, but Miz counters and goes for a figure-four leglock. Axel pushes Miz into the corner however and applies the Perfectplex but only gets a two count (seriously, some moves have to work a majority of the time and this is one of them). A frustrated Axel goes for a neckbreaker but Miz pushes him away. Curtis then tries to give him a big boot but Miz catches the boot and drops it down onto his shoulder. Miz then grabs the other leg and applies the figure four (because he can only do it on the right leg I guess) in the middle of the ring. Axel flips him over to put the pressure on Miz, but Miz flipped it back and Curtis had to reach the ropes to break it. Curtis rolled out to recover but Miz pursued, chasing Axel back in the ring. As Miz went back in, Axel kicked Miz in the face and retained his title with yet another new finishing move which is something like Cross Rhodes if the opponent stayed on your shoulder instead of under your arm. I can’t keep up with him. It was an okay match. The Heyman ejection spot was good, but other than that it was just kind of there. Miz is distractingly annoying.

Divas title match next as AJ (with Big E Langston) defends against Kaitlyn (with Layla in a short dress, so you know she’s there to fight). Kaitlyn man-handles AJ immediately and chucks her out of the ring. It’s like Mark Henry versus Daniel Bryan. Kaityln lifts AJ up to bring her back in the ring, but AJ slips out and shoves her into the ring post, taking control and working Kaitlyn’s arm. Despite the different variations the middle of the match is all just one big arm lock as AJ whispers in Kaitlyn’s ear and essentially cuddles with her. Eventually Kaitlyn powers her up and hits a back breaker to regain momentum. A dropkick and a diving shoulder lead to a two count, and an AJ slap is countered with a clothesline for another two count. AJ then comes out of nowhere to drop Kaitlyn by her arm again. AJ then goes to the top rope where Kaitlyn pushes her off. Langston catches her to keep her from getting hurt though. Back in the ring, Kaitlyn hits a spear but further injures her shoulder and can’t cover. AJ then applies the Black Widow and gets Kaitlyn to tap out (on the mat, not her ass) to retain her title. Another fun and engaging Divas match between these two. They work really well together and we may finally have a legit Divas division again. Good stuff.

It started off so well for AJ
It started off so well for AJ

By the way, Kofi Kingston is part of the preshow panel with Big Show and Vickie Guerrero. So I guess he’s not replacing Kane tonight.

Chris Jericho and Ryback square off now in a battle of guys that need to be on the card but have nothing to do right now. This was a match that had been considered for WrestleMania, so let’s see if it can top the matches Jericho and Ryback had with Fandango and Mark Henry respectively (not asking too much). Ryback has this crybaby gimmick running lately where he keeps overselling injuries and telling the refs to stop his matches. He also could be gettin Vickie Guerrero in his corner as a manager. They are kind of throwing everything at his character and seeing what sticks. Ryback overpowers Jericho early (much like Kaitlyn did AJ), but retreats after taking a few chops (wow they really are making him weak). Jericho gets tired of waiting for Ryback to come back in so he drop kicks him through the ropes to the outside and brings the fight to him. Back in the ring, Jericho lands a forearm off the top rope into the back of Ryback’s head, and starts dominating until Ryback explodes out of the corner to clothesline Chris and the tide is turning. Jericho then goes for a springboard dropkick but Ryback, who was selling a leg injury, drops Jericho’s throat on the rope and hits a splash for a two count. Ryback then hits a powerslam and drops off the top rope for a splash (literally just drops down). Jericho then takes a knee from Ryback but holds on to it to roll him up for a two count. Ryback then knocks Chris off the apron and into the announce table, where he seemed to injure his ribs. Jericho fights back with a belly to belly bridge for a two count, but when he goes for a single axle handle off the top rope, Ryback catches him and hits a belly to belly suplex. Jericho gets tagged with the Meathook clothesline, but escapes Shellshocked. He goes for the Codebreaker but Ryback catches him in the air and power bombs him a couple times for a two count. Ryback goes for another clothesline but Jericho counters with a knee to the “injured” leg, follows up with an enziguri and hits a Codebreaker on Ryback from the apron, causing Ryback to fall out of the ring. Ryback makes it back in on 9 and is met with a cross body splash for another two count. Ryback then caught Chris again running at him and got him up for Shellshocked, but Jericho reversed it into a spinning DDT for yet another two count. Ryback then rolled away from the Lionsault and rolled up Jericho to get the victory. Whaaaa? This was very similar to the Fandango match at Mania, as Jericho dominated most of the way only to make one mistake and fall to a quick roll up for the upset. It was a fine match, but it made Ryback look pretty vulnerable for a guy that is supposed to be a beast.

DOLPH ZIGGLER TIME!!! The Show Off gets his rematch against Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship. Ziggy comes out to a big pop (and not with AJ or Big E in his corner). They start fast, going back and forth until Ziggler gains control with a dropkick and the crowd is fully behind him as he hits ten elbow drops (the crowd counted) and clotheslines Del Rio out of the ring. Dolph pulls him back in the ring but as he goes back himself, Del Rio clocks him with an enziguri to knock him off the apron. Alberto then follows up with more blows to the head and Dolph is on the ropes. Ziggler bounces back with a dropkick but misses a splash in the corner, allowing Del Rio to continue working the head. At this point I must mention the guy in the front row with a “Dolphin Uranus” sign. Love it. Del Rio mocks Ziggler’s taunt, but misses on a leaping kick and falls through the ropes. Alberto recovers to drop Dolph’s neck onto the top rope, however when he goes to the top rope, Ziggler runs up and hits an X-Factor off the top rope. Dolph then dodges Del Rio coming at him, sending Alberto into the ring post. Ziggler follows with a neck breaker for a two count, but Del Rio counters the fame-asser into a german suplex bridge for two. Ziggler then ducks under an enziguri and hits the fame-asser for two. This match has been back and forth the whole way. Dolph tries to apply the sleeper but ends up falling into a tilt-a-wirl back breaker for two. Del Rio then goes to the top rope for an axe handle, but Ziggler meets him with a drop kick coming down off the top rope. With both men down, AJ decides to make her grand entrance, skipping around the ring before stopping ringside to be in Dolph’s corner. Ziggler tells her to leave because he has things under control (uh oh, she does not look happy) and spins out of another back breaker to hit a jumping DDT. Dolph continues waving AJ off as he climbs to the top rope, and Del Rio shoves him down. Del Rio then hits an inverted superplex but only gets two. Alberto calls for the arm breaker which Ziggler avoids, only to be kicked in the head for another two count. Del Rio goes for one more kick to the head, but Dolph catches him, and pushes him into the corner, where AJ runs it and hits him with the Divas title for some reason, and gets Ziggler disqualified. Good lord. I knew AJ was going to cost Dolph the title but I didn’t think it would be this blatant. Ziggler could have wanted her out there (like he seemed to on Raw) and then an AJ distraction could have allowed Del Rio to win by pinfall. Now AJ looks like an idiot for running into the ring while the ref is right there. It’s a shame because this was a pretty good match that the crowd was really into. Dolph tries to argue with the ref while AJ tries to apologize and Del Rio celebrates the “win.” Dolph walks out as the crowd yells “you screwed Ziggler” at AJ, who is left alone in the ring as a hot mess. Cray-J is coming back with a vengeance.

Then...no so much
Then…not so much

The WHC match is followed by the much more important WWE Championship match between challenger, Mark Henry and champion John Cena. The Philly crowd loves Henry to death and how can you blame them. He’s killing it lately. Henry dominates early (like Kaitlyn). Very slow pace, as Henry would do one move, then stalk, do another, rinse and repeat. A lot of head butts, with one sending Cena out of the ring, where Mark would follow and drop him onto the steps. With John on the second rope, Henry ran at him and jumped through the ropes onto John’s neck. Cena then started fighting back, hitting a dropkick that pushes Henry back (not drop him). Cena went to follow up but was met with a clothesline. Mark then swung John by his legs out of the ring and the crowd is chanting Henry’s name. Henry then went to the outside again and swung Cena into the barrier by his legs.This is stuff Cesaro would do to Zack Ryder or something. Back in the ring, Cena dodges Henry in the corner, then tries to body slam him but the weight is too much as Cena drops back. It’s hard to forget to Cena has already lifted Henry before, as well as the Big Show and Edge at the same time. Cena again fights back, hitting a couple of shoulder drops and a side suplex to finally drop Henry, hitting the five knuckle shuffle. He again tries  to lift Henry for an AA but can’t get him up. The story of the match is blatantly clear and it’s a old one. Henry goes to slam Cena but John escapes and finally hits the Attitude Adjustment, only Henry kicks out on two. Why do guys act confused when their finisher gets kicked out of now? It happens all the time! Punk has kicked out of the AA multiple times in the same match. Why should Cena be shocked when Mark Henry gets out of one? Cena goes for a splash off the top rope but Henry catches him in mid air and hits the World’s Strongest Slam. Cena kicks out on two however and Henry is in disbelief (what did I just say?). He rips the pads off the turnbuckles and throws a couple of chairs into the ring. The ref then starts getting rid of the chairs, and Henry’s plan becomes clear as he tries to throw Cena into the exposed turnbuckle while the ref is distracted. Cena reverses it however and sends Mark into the turnbuckle, then applying the STF. Henry reaches the rope however and Cena has to break the hold. Mark then pushes the ref aside, kicks Cena in the nuts and covers (just as the ref turns around again), but still can only get a two count. Henry then goes for another WSS, but Cena leaps out of it and applies the STF. Mark was going to reach the rope, but Cena got up and pulled him to the middle of the ring and reapplied the hold, forcing Henry to tap out to win the match. Easily one of the better Cena matches I’ve seen in a while that didn’t include CM Punk or Dolph Ziggler. Henry almost made me think he was going to win, which is tough to do whenever Cena is the other guy in the ring. John meanwhile acted desperate, and was smart in the end to escape with the win, instead of winning with a smile like he normally does.

He's back!
He’s back!

The WWE Championship contract MITB match finishes the show, and ROB VAN DAM is the first one to the ring. I’m really curious to see if he still has it. Obviously the crowd is in his corner. Christian came out next and promptly killed the crowd. If he was a superhero he would be Aquaman (and yes I know his comic is great now but you get the idea). Thankfully, Daniel Bryan gets the crowd up again as Orton, Sheamus, and Punk follow in that order. It turns out that nobody can replace Kane. I’m fine with that. The bells ring and with the crowd chanting his name, suddenly all the other wrestlers are staring at RVD. Rob notices and starts to do his “Rob-Van-Dam” taunt, but only gets as far as “Rob” before everyone gangs up on him. Nice. He gets kicked out and now Sheamus is the one getting ganged up on. With him out, Punk and Christian face off on one side while Bryan and Orton do the same. Christian and Orton get tossed out and now Punk and Bryan are alone in the ring (OH MAN!). RVD starts to come in and they both knock him back out onto a ladder and they start exchanging kicks to the legs. Punk gains control and starts working some chops in, then Bryan back flips (and falls on his ass) off the turnbuckle over Punk, who counters by putting Daniel up for a GTS only for Bryan to escape and try to apply the YES Lock, that is broken up when Sheamus hits them both with a ladder. He tags Christian as well but Orton dropkicks the ladder into Sheamus. Finally RVD gets involved, hitting Randy with a shoulder and superkicking Sheamus from the top rope. Punk and Bryan get kicks to the head, while Christian gets monkey flipped and Orton gets a spinning kick to leave Rob Van Dam all alone in the ring to eat up some praise. He doesn’t look great, but he does look good and is eating up the crowd. He baseball slides ladders into Punk and Sheamus, then avoids a Kill Switch to Gorilla Press Drop Christian onto a ladder (shades of his friend the Ultimate Warrior) and hits Bryan with Rolling Thunder onto a ladder (kind of. he only got part of him). It’s all RVD right now. Randy tries throwing him out but Rob holds on and kicks Orton onto a ladder. He goes to the top rope for a frog splash but Christian knocks him off onto some ladders on the outside. Christian then provides his first offense of the night, hitting Orton with a small ladder to start climbing a regular ladder. Sheamus stops him the two go back and forth up the ladder. Sheamus blocks Christian from shoving the ladder into him, and delivers a punch through the ladder to take him out. RVD then pushes Sheamus off the ladder, but Sheamus fights back and hits a rolling senton onto the ladder. Sheamus knocks Bryan around and props a ladder between the apron and announce table. Sheamus then looks to slam Daniel into the ladder, but Bryan slips away and shoves Sheamus over the ladder, following up with a flying knee off the apron. Back in the ring, Punk, Orton and Christian are all trying to climb a ladder, as Bryan and Sheamus come in with a second ladder. RVD jumps in two and all six men are on two ladders reaching for the briefcase (it looks like the MITB poster). Punk shoves it away and all parties fall off the ladders. The idea of it was cooler than it really was. Sheamus is the first one up and starts bashing everyone, hitting a couple of axe handles and Irish Curse backbreakers. Christian gets backed into a ladder before being dropped with White Noise, and Sheamus is climbing the ladder to a chorus of boos. RVD tries to stop him but Sheamus drops down and hits him with a Brogue Kick. Bryan then meets him at the top of the ladder and Sheamus beats his chest to more boos. Sheamus had his hands around the case when Punk ran up to pull him down and they start trading shots. Sheamus missed with a ladder in the corner, and Punk followed a running knee by climbing on the ladder in the corner and dropping it down on Sheamus (Punk then bowed for the crowd). Orton and Punk now go at it, and Randy lands a suplex into the ladder. A second rope DDT sends Punk out of the ring, and a bloody nosed Randy gets speared by Christian. Bryan gets the same and Christian is climbing he ladder. RVD stops him by stabbing him in the ass with another ladder. The crowd chant for tables as Christian now pulls RVD off the ladder and starts stomping his face, appearing to hit one a little too full, as you hear RVD yell in pain. He gets to the top of the ladder with Christian though and tilts the ladder over. Christian falls to the mat, while Rob (now with blood from an errant kick) leaps over to another ladder propped up in the corner (oh boy). RVD stands up on the top of the ladder (OH BOY) and hits Christian with a frog splash for the spot of the night. It wasn’t a full on five star frog splash, but anytime you jump off the top of a ladder onto someone you’re going to get high marks. RVD climbs the ladder but Sheamus pushes it over, and Daniel Bryan steps in to clock them both with roundhouse kicks. He then hits Orton with a ladder and dropkicks it into him, then jumping through the ropes at Punk. Daniel then goes to the top rope and missel dropkicks both Sheamus and RVD, popping back up to hit Orton, RVD and Sheamus out of the ring with a ladder. Daniel Bryan is in that place where only Daniel Bryan goes.

He climbs up the ladder and is about to win the match when Curtis Axel runs in and hits him with a ladder. He pulls him out of the ring, taking him down and this is all another chapter in the Punk/Heyman squabble. Punk the hits Axel with a GTS, and Paul Heyman runs out to chew Axel out. Meanwhile, Punk is starting to climb the ladder, very slowly. Just when he is close to the top, Heyman gets in the ring and attacks Punk with a ladder. He throws it into his leg a few times, then with Punk looking him in the eye, Heyman delivers one last blow in the face.

Good to be back on top
Good to be back on top

So now everyone else is getting back into things. RVD is the first one up the ladder, but Orton comes in, knocks him off the ladder and meets him with an RKO on the way down. Orton then climbs up the ladder, and with nobody else standing, Randy Orton wins the WWE Championship contract. This was very main event worthy. Lots of spots, lots of blood (Punk and RVD needed their head stapled afterwards), a big plot point and a well done return for Rob Van Dam. If it wasn’t for Christian having no impact on the match it would be even better. As for Orton, it’s been a long time since he’s gotten a real push, and this is definitely it. He was one of the premere title contenders for a long time and it looks like he’ll be getting some gold again soon.

Overall I have very little to complain about with this PPV. I could have done without Cena/Henry, Ryback/Jericho and Miz/Axel, but there was nothing wrong with any of them. I’m really excited and surprised about Sandow getting into the main event picture, as well as Cody getting a face turn. Also, the Shield/Usos match was absolutely fantastic in the pre show. Crowd was all over it.

Wyatt Family Debuts As Brad Maddox Is New GM On Raw

RAW_1050_Photo_166Money in the Bank is less than a week away and it took until now to notice something I should have picked up on weeks ago. I’ve made a big deal out of an all heel MITB Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship, but I somehow ignored the fact that the WWE Championship MITB match is all faces. How can this be the case? You can’t have everyone take the high road, just like you can’t have everyone be an ass. They just even each other out and you get no payoff. Of course a face or heel can turn in the middle of the match and get that payoff we want, but to go into it this was is just so peculiar.

That matters very little right now however because the Wyatt Family are making their in-ring debut, and based on the video vignettes I’ve got my in-ring adult diapers on. I don’t know what to think of have multiple 3 man stables trying to take things over though. The Shield seem to only lose as a group now and all have titles, so there I guess there is room for another group of guys to just cause trouble. I also don’t even know if I can call the Shield heels anymore, since they fight fair and don’t interrupt other people’s matches (just their own occasionally) and everyone loves them. Sheamus and Jericho are more heel-ey than the Shield.

With a ladder in the ring, Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox start the show to talk about how cool ladder matches are. She talks about the great ladder matches before mentioning how he ladder symbolizes how she climbed up the ranks to where she is today. She then climbs up the ladder (as the crowd chants “fall”) and talks about how nobody helped her along the way or showed her how to run the show. She says that even though the fans haven’t seen eye to eye with her, she has made every decision for them. At this point, Jerry Lawler chimes in to inform her than there will be a fan poll to determine how her job evaluation goes, that will factor into the McMahon’s overall decision. Vickie then goes through the card, that starts with Daniel Bryan taking on Sheamus, RIGHT NOW! The segment fell pretty flat but at least it gave out the entire card so we know what to look for.

The WrestleMania rematch begins slowly, with some grappling and a shoulder tackle giving Sheamus the edge. Bryan comes back with a clothesline and the two start exchanging shots (kicks for Bryan, punches for Sheamus). Great White starts to overpower Bryan again and goes into an arm lock. The crowd is just not feeling it. Bryan again gains steam with a knee lift, but Sheamus escapes and arm bar to hit a neck breaker followed by a tilt a wirl back breaker (vintage Del Rio!). Bryan the uses the ropes as leverage to send Sheamus out of the ring over the top rope. He tries to follow with a running knee off the apron but Sheamus kinda catches him and they both go into the barrier. Back from break, Bryan is in the ring getting out of a chin lock to do his back flip off the turnbuckle, only Sheamus catches him coming back with power slam. Sheamus then takes control with a shoulder to the gut and a knee lift, setting up for the Brogue Kick. Daniel ducks under it however, sending Sheamus out of the ring where Bryan hit a spear through the ropes to the outside. Back in the ring, Bryan connects on a missel dropkick for a two count. Sheamus ducks under a roundhouse kick and bashes Daniel’s chest on the apron before going to the top rope. Bryan knocks him to the turnbuckle and goes for a hurricarana, only for Sheamus to hold on to the ropes and hit a flying battering ram for a two count of his own. Sheamus picks Bryan up for White Noise but has to settle for driving him into the turnbuckle. Bryan then toe drags Sheamus into the turnbuckle and hits a roundhouse kick to the head for another two count. Bryan then misses a flying headbutt and the two are on even footing. The exchange shots until Bryan gains the edge and just barely rolls over Sheamus in a crucifix for a two count. Bryan then immediately tries to apply the NO Lock (which Cole calls a YES Lock. Which is it?) but Sheamus turns it into a Cloverleaf in the middle of the ring. Somehow Bryan rolls out of it into a small package to pick up the win! The crowd didn’t totally get into it until the end, which is a shame because it was pretty good. So Sheamus loses clean (how about that?) and the two shake hands at the end of the match. This is the problem with an all face MITB Ladder match. Are they all going to shake hands at the end like a playoff hockey game? BORRRRRRRINNNNNNNG!

What a sneaky bastard
What a sneaky bastard

Backstage, AJ is telling Big E to keep a look out for Kaitlyn who is still trying to beat the snot out of her. Dolph then steps in and we see the two of them together for the first time since the face turn. He tells Langston to give them some alone time so that he can figure out why AJ hasn’t been out for his matches, instead following Kaitlyn around. AJ assures him that she is focused on Ziggler winning back the WHC so that they can be a title holding power couple, and will do anything to help him as long as he is willing to do anything to help her retain the Divas Championship against Kaitlyn. Dolph begrudgingly agrees after succumbing to the sex card, and the making out happens.

Rollins and Reigns out to the ring next as the tag team champs take on Tensai and Brodus Clay (Tons of Jobbers). Clay starts of tosses Rollins around, giving way to Tensai who does more of the same. Brodus this hits a suplex but misses on a splash before Seth tags in Reigns who claims control for the Shield. Roman and Seth both work Brodus over, keeping him away from his corner. The both splash into Clay in the corner, and I really like how Seth would hold Brodus down until right before Reigns hit him so Clay couldn’t get away. Reigns gets the crowd into it when he gets Brodus up for a Samoan drop, but Brodus drops down and rolls up Reigns for a two count, then reaching Tensai for a hot tag, hitting his rolling senton thing on Rollins. Clay then hits a two handed choke slam on Rollins for a two count. Seth then dodges Tensai in route to leaping through the ropes into Brodus, as Reigns (now the legal man) spears Tensai to pick up the win for the Shield. Another slow starting match that had a nice finish. This is pretty typical for most tag matches nowadays.

If only
If only

Time for John Cena and Mark Henry to have a face to face encounter before their match at MITB. Cena comes out first and calls out the World’s Strongest Man, who obliges pretty quickly. I always like heels that don’t back off from a fight. A villain is supposed to make the hero the underdog, which is not easy when facing John Cena. Cena makes his jokey jokes and Henry threatens to beat him down for it. Mark says he is not the same guy Cena knew for the last ten years, and that winning the WWE Championship will validate his career, and he’d sell out his own mama and family to get it. Cena said he better win it then, as he is acting desperate by putting his family and the fans respect on the line (is he really? are the fans gone if he loses? does his family move out?). Henry says he doesn’t care what the fans think, and Cena immediately asks how he could not care about the fans. Henry tells John the match will start early. Cena replies by saying if he wants to cross a line he will let him, and takes his shirt off (what kind of line is he going to cross?). Henry initially says he isn’t going to fight for free, but then says he’ll give him a preview and takes his shirt off too (uhhhh a preview of what?). After looking like he was going to leave the ring, Henry blind sides Cena with a running elbow and they go at it. Cena starts to put Mark up for an Attitude Adjustment but he is too heavy, and Henry falls down on Cena. Mark then hits a World’s Strongest Slam and holds the strap up. No way Mark Henry wins on Sunday.

Backstage, Josh Matthews is talking to Randy Orton about his match tonight against CM Punk. Orton says he never bought the Best in the World moniker since he beat Punk at WrestleMania a few years ago, says he’ll win MITB and won’t hesitate to cash it in asap.

Now that's a shiner
Now that’s a shiner

The Miz is ringside to add commentary (and most likely a run-in) to Chris Jericho’s match against Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel. Paul Heyman comes out with him wearing dark sunglasses due to being tagged by Alberto Del Rio. Heyman makes a point to say that he is not out to be a martyr for CM Punk, but is instead there to bask in the perfection that is Curtis Axel. Axel then lays out a promo about how Jericho needs a light up jacket to let people know he’s here while Axel only needs the shine of his IC belt, while neither Jericho or the Miz can stand in the way of perfection. He still needs some mic work and does not need to say perfect all the time. We all know who his dad was. Jericho starts the match strong, clotheslining Axel out of the ring and dropkicking him through the ropes. Curtis knees Jericho trying to get back in the ring and hits a second rope neck breaker to take the momentum. During the break, Axel tagged Jericho with a dropkick while Chris was coming down from the top rope and maintained control until Jericho moved away from a top rope elbow. Chris hits a couple of shoulder tackles and a single axe handle from the top rope. Jericho tries to apply the Walls of Jericho but Axel escapes and Chris ends up hitting a german suplex for a bridge pin and a two count. Jericho then avoids getting hit in the corner, landing a cross body splash for a two count. Axel then blocks a lionsault and hits the one handed swinging neck breaker for a two count. Now Jericho hits the lionsault for two and sets up for the Codebreaker. Axel catches him however and drops him onto the top rope, following up with a Perfectplex that Jericho kicks out of on two. A frustrated Curtis goes for a neck breaker but Jericho reverses it into the Walls and Axel quickly gets to the ropes. Curtis stands on the apron until Jericho knocks him off into the announce table. Curtis then gets into a stare down with the Miz and Heyman has to pull him away so that he doesn’t get counted out. Axel is still distracted on the way back in the ring however, and Jericho takes advantage by hitting a Codebreaker to win the match. Decent stuff. Nothing crazy.

Backstage, Josh Matthews is talking to Team Rhodes Scholars about how they are competing against each other in the WHC MITB match. Sandow says if he didn’t win he’d love for his best buddy Cody Rhodes to win instead. Damien then cuts off Rhodes before he can answer the same question and they are both interrupted by Zeb Colter with Cesaro and Swagger. Colter jabbers quickly about how America sucks now until he is interrupted by Wade Barrett. They all start to argue when Fandango pops in and makes everyone shut up so he can say his name. All the other heels agree on is hating ‘Dango, as they each tell him to shut up before Barrett pops him in the mouth to the joy of Rhodes and Sandow. Barrett leaves and we’re left with Swags and Cesaro staring down Rhodes and Sandow. Ambrose wisely was nowhere to be scene, and if anyone is going to turn face at the end of that match it has to be Cody.

It’s luchador time as World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio takes on worst Mexican wrestler in WWE history, Sin Cara. Why he still gets to have the light changing gimmick is still a mystery to me. Cara gets in a couple of arm drags and a hurricarana for a two count, but Del Rio clocks Sin Cara on the top rope with an enziguri to take control. Alberto briefly works the shoulder before stopping Cara from gaining momentum by hitting another enziguri in the corner. Del Rio is in full control when DOLPH ZIGGLER comes out! While the match is still going on, Ziggler says that since he injured Ricardo, he will introduce him instead. Ziggler announces Del Rio as a coward and the loser of the match, as Del Rio runs out to attack him. Del Rio takes the upper hand, but Sin Cara uses the distraction to hit a splash from the top rope onto Del Rio on the outside. No idea why he did that since the match should officially be over due to outside interference, making Del Rio the winner. It would be interesting if Ziggler won the title back, only to immediately lose it to the MITB winner. Then leading into a gimmick where Dolph keeps winning titles, only to lose them on his next appearance. Instead I get the impression that AJ is going to cost Dolph the title, leading to their breakup and a Ziggler feud with Big E and AJ.

Third hour begins with Vickie Guerrero’s job evaluation. Triple H, Vince and Stephanie McMahon all come out together to confront Vickie, who is perched on a stool in the middle of the ring while they sit behind a wood table in front of her. Guerrero gets to make an opening statement, where she says she loves the McMahon family and the fans. This is of course met with boos. Vickie says she took pride in producing high quality entertainment, taking credit for RVD, the Rock and the Undertaker returning. Steph calls bull on it, while brining up how she brought in Brock Lesnar, who took out Vince and Triple H. Steph asks if she thought that was a good idea, which Vickie answers as it being good for business (in a whiny way). Vince agreed with that (despite getting beat up by him) and thinks that she is highly entertaining despite some bonehead decisions. Triple H then cuts in, crediting Vickie with being occasionally entertaining before saying she is terrible at her job. He says that every week she is booed out of the building, and not in a good way. He says the WWE Universe wants and deserves better than Vickie Guerrero, and says her voice is the most annoying one in television. Vince then stands up, calls Triple H short sighted and things Vickie should be permanent GM of Raw. Triple H then gets up again, knowing that no matter what he says, Vince is going to do what he wants anyway. He says this is the whole point, as Vickie would just be a puppet who does whatever Vince wants her to do. With that in mind, Trips suggests that Stephanie, who called this evaluation, decide what happens to Vickie. Vince agrees to let “daddy’s little girl” make the decision, and Triple H has no issue with “his wife, the mother of his children” make the call. Steph decides that she isn’t going to go against either of them, and has the WWE fan vote decide her fate. Well it should come as no surprise that 75% of the fans said she failed. Vickie then goes off, saying he learned from Vince that you can’t trust the fans and blah blah blah. Steph then says the two magic words, telling Guerrero she is fired. She goes more nuts, getting on the table and screaming that they need her running the show. Trips and Steph leave, and Vince yells at the fans for breaking her heart. In her place, Vince names Brad Maddox as general manager of Raw. Vince says the fans deserve it, and Brad looks like a deer caught in headlights as Guerrero is escorted out by Vince. Really weird segment that leaves us with a new GM in what was all just a bigger part of the power struggle between Vince and Triple H. Apparently this will all culminate at WrestleMania with what I’m assuming is a match between the two (or a wrestler with Vince in his corner. No idea though).

So long Vickie
So long Vickie

Backstage, Vince is still consoling Vickie who is in tears. Vince says he is going to make things right somehow. Brad gives condolences to Vickie, and thanks Vince for the opportunity to be the GM. Vince refuses to shake his hand of course and Vickie bitches slaps Maddox and screams at him until he leaves. Vince is pissed because she ruined his jacket.

Kane versus Christian because why not. Christian tries to trade blows with Kane and gets powered down, getting beaten into the corner. Kane goes for a power slam but Christian escapes and hits a flying elbow on the standing Kane. He tries to go for the roll up off the top rope but Kane s too big and avoids it. After a toe drag onto the ropes, Christian lowers the rope to send the oncoming Kane to the outside, following up with a splash off the top rope. Back from break, Kane is looking to chokeslam Christian off to the top rope when Christian hits a tornado DDT instead for a two count. Christian then tries for the Kill Switch but Kane hits him with a big boot. Kane misses with the one handed axe handle and Christian looks to spear Kane. Kane however catches Christian coming at him and lands a chokeslam to end the what was a pretty good match. Before Kane can celebrate however, the lights go out and the final Wyatt family video plays on the screen. It ends with them saying they are here, and their music hits as Bray walks down with an oil light, strolling to the ring. When the lights go on, Kane is being attacked by the other two members of the Wyatts, both of whom are almost as big as Kane. After a short back and forth with Bray watching from a rocking chair at the bottom of the ramp, Kane is overpowered and tossed into the steel steps. Then knock him out for good by tossing the steps into his face. No appearance from Daniel Bryan by the way. While he’s down, Bray walks over to him, kneel down and says “down with the machine” while laughing. The crowd gets a “Husky Harris” chant going (Bray’s previous name in WWE). They got a good pop from the crowd and definitely have the creepy thing down. They just seem a little too 90’s for me at the moment. I’m hoping to be proved wrong through.

I really hope this becomes a thing
I really hope this becomes a thing

Backstage, Vickie is making the walk of shame with her stuff, when she walks into Ryback. Ryback puts her stuff down, gives her a hug, tells her she deserved better, then gives her stuff back and walks away. That was creepier than anything.

Cooling the crowd before the main event is Layla and Kaitlyn versus AJ and Alicia Fox. It’s all faces early as Kaitlyn runs after AJ and Layla works over Fox. AJ distracts Layla so that Alicia can get some offense in. AJ then gets in the ring, causing Kaitlyn to lose her mind again. She goes right after AJ and is full cat fight mode. Layla and Alicia separate the two, as they each exit the ring from opposite sides. Layla then runs full steam around the ring to spear AJ into the floor. If there is one thing you can’t deny about AJ’s ring skills, it’s that she can sell a damn spear. No match just ends on that as Big E carries AJ to the back.

Backstage, Josh Matthews is interviewing CM Punk about the MITB match and Orton being confident about winning. Punk says he’s entitled to his opinion, but can’t deny that holding the WWE Championship for 434 days makes him the best in the world. Beating Orton tonight also makes him the best in the world, as will winning the MITB match. I think sporting Wolverine sideburns makes him the best in the world as well.

The main event match between CM Punk and Randy Orton closes things out. They start off with a long grapple that goes all the way around the ring and gets a little awkward as it is broken up in the corner. They exchange moves and are remain in a stalemate, switching chin locks and shoulder tackles. Punk hits a kick to the gut but is responded with a standing dropkick by Orton and some Garvin stomps. Randy isn’t in control for long as Punk dodges a knee drop and lands a snap suplex. The crowd is split as Orton tries to hit the second rope DDT. Punk escapes however and dropkicks Randy off the apron to the floor. Punk follows up with a dive through the ropes, sending Orton into the barrier.During the commercial, Orton hit a back body drop onto the barrier and is in control again with a chin lock in the ring. Punk tries to fight out but Orton hits a t-bone suplex (silly me, I’ve been calling it a fisherman’s suplex). CM again fights out of the chin lock and hits a leaping side kick. Randy bounces back with a couple of clotheslines, but Punk holds on to the rope to avoid getting power slammed, applying a crucifix pin for a two count. Punk starts gaining momentum as he hits the swinging neck breaker for another two count, followed by a running knee into the flying elbow. The crowd is really up for this one. Punk goes for a GTS but Orton escapes and hits a second rope DDT. Now Orton is calling for the RKO. Punk tries to turn it into a backslide pin, but Randy turns it into a power slam and a two count. Orton starts beating Punk down in the corner from the second rope, but Punk pulls his feet down and hits a running knee. Orton again escapes the GTS, but Punk counters the RKO with a roundhouse kick. Punk then hits a dazed Randy with a GTS and wins a really good match. I enjoyed in pretty much from start to finish. After the match, Daniel Bryan runs in and attacks Punk, then pulls out a ladder and runs over Orton with it. Now alone in the ring, Bryan climbs up the ladder and grabs the Money in the Bank briefcase that has been suspended from the ceiling. If anybody is going to turn heel in the all face match, it has to be Bryan right?

Could this be how MITB ends? (probably not)
Could this be how MITB ends? (probably not)

A busy go home show made for a pretty good Raw. Not quite as good as the few weeks when they were rolling, but much better than last week’s stinker. They have made the PPV sound interesting while barely mentioning in the ring that Rob Van Dam is coming back. Looking forward to it.

 

By the way, as next week’s Raw is in my local area, I can tell you that commercials for the show teased Brock Lesnar, Rob Van Dam and Triple H appearances, as well as John Cena defending the WWE Championship against Mark Henry. No spoilers or anything, right?

Bryan Restricted To Guest Ref In Status Quo Raw

RAW_1049_Photo_100Part of being a wrestling fan is complaining about wrestling. It’s just part of the territory. The plots are stupid, the top guys suck, the undercards need a push, everything is the worst. But I hope we can all agree that the last few weeks of Raw have been pretty amazing, right? Punk is back and has a whole new bromance/break up thing going with Paul Heyman, Mark Henry is the greatest actor ever, AJ is making people slap her ass in submission, RVD is coming back and Daniel Bryan is taking over the show. His stinger ended up making him look even better in route to beating Randy Orton last week, during which they were fined for Orton’s chair shot to the head during the match (which are rightly banned since concussions go around like spray tan in the WWE). It’s been a lot of fun watching Bryan, Orton and Kane face the Shield for over a month, and I feel like we still have a couple weeks left before they move on. I haven’t even mentioned Dolph Ziggler’s face turn!

Of course the WWE tries to keep this momentum going by making Vickie Guerrero the first face we see. The resident cougar teased a match putting World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio against WWE Champ John Cena. By the way, did you realize that 13 of the “superstars” shown in the into are not fixtures on Raw right now? Just sayin.

Somebody doesn't belong
Somebody doesn’t belong

The real show begins as you’d hope, with Daniel Bryan (and his new respect the beard t-shirt) coming to the ring to cut a promo on MITB. He’s happy to report that he is clearly not the weak link after beating Orton, and is now focused on winning the MITB match. of course the whole thing is built toward him yelling “YES!” or “NO!” over and over with the crowd and the audience loves every minute of it. Bryan mentions that he won the MITB to claim the World Heavyweight Championship, which brings out Sheamus (with a small smattering of boos) to remind Bryan that he took Daniel’s belt in 18 seconds at WrestleMania. He says it’s been too long since he’s had a belt, which brings out Randy Orton who says he hasn’t had a strap in 2 years (so I guess he wants it more?). Bryan takes the opportunity to brag about making him tap out, which Randy shakes off. He says that no one will be safe, which naturally beings out Kane who says that nobody will be safe because of what he is capable of. He and Bryan get into a whole thing about how there will be no friends in the match while the crowd chants for CM Punk. Christian comes out instead however and he talks about his success in ladder matches (neglecting that it was tag team matches). He brings up how he isn’t the biggest or strongest or anything else, but does say he’s the best. Well guess who takes offense to someone else claiming to be “the best?” Yup, CM Punk comes out to say that he’s the best and that he’s the only one to win multiple MITB matches and that he’s better than everyone. He starts to talk about everybody when Bryan cuts off Punk and tells him he’ll make him tap out like he did to Orton if he says one more word. That pisses Randy off, who starts to go after Bryan. Kane gets in the middle of them, which pisses off Daniel who starts yelling about Kane. Orton then uses the distraction to RKO Kane and slide out of the ring as the rest of the men stare each other down. Decent segment that just took WAY too long to develop. Christian seems entirely out of place here.

The first match of the night features the Shield in a six man tag rematch against Christian and the Usos. The Shield have now been beaten twice at a group in a few weeks. First to Daniel Bryan, Kane and Orton, and last week to Christian and the Usos (both on Smackdown!). Rollins and Reigns will defend their tag titles against the Usos on the MITB pre-show, which means I’ll actually have to watch it this time. The faces start off with all the momentum, controlling the tempo and hitting all three members of the Shield with dives to the outside. Back in the ring the Shield took the momentum when Reigns hit a big boot on an Uso. Ambrose then did his creepy thing, controlling the pace and mocking Christian by getting a clap going with the crowd. Jey (I think) hit a superkick on Ambrose and went for a tag, but Rollins came in and went straight for Jimmy (I think) to take him out and prevent the tag. Jey(?) then took down Rollins and got the hot tag anyway on Christian, who battered Rollins and Reigns but not Ambrose, who backed off the apron to distract Christian, who got an enziguri from Rollins. Now Ambrose gets tagged in to attack Christian and these two are being put together for a future feud. It Christian was starting to gain the edge (get it?) but Rollins was on the apron to catch Christian looking to go off the second rope, dropping his throat onto the top rope to allow Ambrose to roll him up for the victory. Pretty good match. You can see the step down the Usos/Christian are from Kane/Bryan/Orton but the magic couldn’t go on forever.

Backstage, Bryan is apologizing to Kane for causing him to be RKO’s in the open and costing him his match against Randy on Smackdown (essentially doing the same thing). Kane doesn’t want to hear it and wants Bryan to stay out of his way. Daniel then informs him that to make it up to him he got Vickie to book a rematch for Kane against Orton, which pleases the Big Red Monster until he finds out that Bryan is the special guess referee. I imagine this won’t go well.

DOLPH ZIGGLER out to the ring without AJ or Big E for his first match since Payback. Very interesting how they’ll play it with Dolph being a face while is girlfriend is a heel. Ziggler will get broken in easy with a match against Jinder Mahal. They trade dodges before Mahal actually takes control of the match with a knee lift and of course Dolph is selling in what should be a squash match. Ziggler slows Jinder down with a dropkick but Mahal takes it right back with a power slam. Out of nowhere, Ziggler escapes what could have been a Camel Clutch to land a Zig Zag and steal the win. The announcers talk about how Dolph never looked better (huh?) as Slater and McIntyre get on the apron to try attacking Dolph. From here it turns into a Benny Hill sketch, as Dolph runs around the ring dodging 3MB at every turn, resulting in Slater diving into the steps, Drew knocking out Jinder and McIntryre getting hit with a Zig Zag as the all end with Ziggler shaking his ass on the announce table to a pretty good pop.

Classic Ziggler
Classic Ziggler

Backstage, Vickie is bitching about the McMahons when Triple H sneak up behind her to pay her some compliments for a change about the show so far. They are still playing up the power struggle between Trips, Vince and Steph, as he tells Vickie to keep doing what he tells her to do. Like Triple H, it’s getting a little old.

Randy Orton takes on Kane next with Daniel Bryan as the special guest referee. Kane looks specifically annoyed coming to the ring, as Daniel is chewing out Orton before the match even starts. They trade blows early, with Bryan pushing each man away from the other in the corner, each time allowing the other man to take the momentum. Kane hits a falling drop kick, but Orton evades a power slam to hit a Lou Thesz press to take control of the match. Kane fights back and hits a suplex. Orton then toe drags an oncoming Kane into the turnbuckle and starts attacking him in the corner. Bryan tries to separate them (the only thing he has really done in the match) and when Randy shoves Bryan for pulling him away, Bryan DQ’s Orton and names Kane the winner. Kane wants nothing to do with the result, and makes Bryan restart the match. Orton then dropkicks Kane out of the ring, this time listening to Bryan when he keeps him from going out after him. Back from break, Kane has control again with a chin lock. Kane then hits a sidewalk slam and goes to the top rope for the one handed attack. Orton counters it however by hitting a dropkick as Kane came down. Kane initially avoids the second rope DDT but Randy escapes a chokeslam to hit it anyway. He calls for the RKO when Bryan gets in his way. Kane then takes advantage of the distraction by hitting a big boot, and Bryan quick counts to give Kane the victory via pinfall. Kane is pissed as Bryan tells him he only won the match because of him. Kane grabs his throat but decides no to chokeslam him, leaving the ring instead. Orton however has other ideas, hitting Bryan with an RKO. Not the best match, but it sure was fun.

Bryan hasn't gotten got in a while
Bryan hasn’t gotten got in a while

Backstage, Punk is telling Heyman and Axel that he doesn’t need help beating the Prime Time Players, as they are scheduled to team up together. Punk says he trusts Heyman but not Axel, and Paul responds by saying people said the same about CM in 2005 but Heyman trusted him anyway. Heyman asks Punk to trust Axel and we’ll see how long Axel takes to cost Punk the match.

Fandango is back for the first time in a month coming off a concussion to face Sheamus. I think we needed the time away from ‘Dangoas his whole deal was getting tired. The crowd seemed relatively indifferent to him. They spend the early parts of the match dodging each other and dancing around (literally) until they actually got into it. Sheamus hit a suplex and worked Fandango in the corner, hitting a shoulder in the corner and throwing him into the barricade outside the ring. Sheamus tried to pull Fandango back up with he got hit with a swinging kick and take command an arm lock and simultaneous kicks to the head. Sheamus fights back to power him into the corner and batter him. He beats him in the corner, he hits a double axe handle in the middle of the ring and he hits him on the apron until Fandango has enough and exits up the ramp for a count out. I didn’t need to watch any of that.

Chris Jericho ringside to do commentary for Ryback’s match against the Miz. Jericho and Ryback will square off at MITB in a match that was considered for WrestleMania and one I’d have to think Ryback would win. Jericho seems to be specifically there to get people over now, which is why he should be around in the first place. Ryback starts the match by mauling Miz and tossing him around while yelling at Jericho. Miz tries to fight back but Ryback continues overpowering him with overhand fists. Eventually Miz hits a kick to the leg which staggers Ryback, and Miz gets some momentum. He applies kicks to the gut and head to bring him down and works the leg in the corner. Miz wraps Ryback’s leg in the rope and dropkicks the leg. Ryback then screams in pain and tells the ref to stop the match. Miz gets the win and ends up in a stare down with Ryback who continues to claim he is legitimately injured. Jericho then sneaks up behind “Cryback” and hits him with a codebreaker. Ryback is looking pretty weak lately, only furthering the notion that he will beat Jericho at the PPV.

Mark Henry in the house to talk more smack about Cena. He talks about how he is legitimately the “World’s Strongest Man,” earning the respect of everyone in the WWE. He then explains how there is a lot of backstabbing and accidental injuries that kept him from being the WWE Champion while he pretended he was one of the boys and did the right thing for business. That got him nowhere however and so after years of sacrifice he feels he has earned the right to be the champ and will beat Cena now that he finally has a chance, doing the right thing for himself. He wraps it up by saying he’s gonna beat John Cena’s ass and heads out. Short and sweet promo. Did everything he had to do.

Backstage, Vickie is getting yelled at by Vince for putting Daniel Bryan on the show despite being small and mentally unstable. This goes right along with rumors of Vince really thinking Bryan isn’t a big money guy. He’s also pissed that Vickie put Cena/Del Rio on free TV instead of PPV, which is something Trips doesn’t understand (Cena/Del Rio is a big money match?). He then threatens her by mentioning how he has fired and had people thrown out for not listening to him, and leaves Vickie shaking her head. Again, nothing we haven’t seen lately.

Trouble on Bro Island
Trouble on Bro Island

The third hour starts with CM Punk teaming with Curtis Axel to take on the Prime Time Players. Thankfully Axel has not gotten to the point where he is coming down the ramp tossing a towel over his back. After some arguing, Axel agrees to let Punk go first, but then after the bell rings Axel tags himself in and it is Curtis that starts off against Darren Young while Punk urges him to tag out. Axel takes down Young and then dropkicks O’Neil, all while Punk is pleading to get tagged in. Titus then starts to take control, taunting the crowd with “CM Punk” chants. Axel fights out of an abdominal stretch but can’t make it to his corner and O’Neil keeps taunting. Finally Axel gets a boot up on Titus in the corner and reaches Punk for the hot tag. He springboards Young and knees Titus out of the ring, clocking Darren with the high running knee and going up for the flying elbow. Punk connects with the GTS but has to hurl an oncoming Titus out of the ring. This brought him close enough to his corner for Axel to tag himself in and get record the pinfall to get credit for the win. This pisses off Punk, who yells at Heyman that he doesn’t need anyone’s help. That certainly seemed the case here.

Divas time as Alicia Fox makes a rare appearance to face Kaitlyn with Layla in her corner (all the people in the open seem to be showing up tonight). Trying to figure out what Layla is there for as Alicia hits a dropkick and works Kaitlyn in the corner. Fox lands a bridge suplex for a two count, but turns into a spear to give Kaitlyn a quick victory. AJ comes out immediately after the finish to talk some smack about Kaitlyn being trash, revealing a photoshopped modeling pic with Kaitlyn being turned into a fat cow. The whole thing fell pretty flat.

Backstage, Stephanie is now yelling at Vickie for not doing her job while Vickie is complaining about how everyone is pulling her in different directions. I’ll give you one guess how this ends. Steph comes off as a friend and then goes into corporate mode, informing her that next week she will have a job evaluation in the ring, where she can either be promoted to full time GM or be fired completely (or neither). Can’t wait to hate that next week.

Cody Rodes out to the ring with Damien Sandow, who declares that they will remain best friends after their MITB match that they are both in. Looking at the WHC MITB match, I’m now trying to figure out who the faces are. Cesaro, Sandow, Rhodes, Fandango, Ambrose, Barrett and Swagger. Not a face among them right? Although I’m plenty behind Sandow, Ambrose and Cesaro. Dean get enough fan support that he might as well be a face anyway. Rhodes will be facing Cesaro, who had his entrance preempted by Colter and his anti immigrant chatter, and it all leads into the return of Swags. So Colter now has a stable going as Swagger and Cesaro are united. So we now have 4 heels ringside as Cody and Cesaro shove each other in the face and then exchange moves. Cody tries to roll up Cesaro who instead jumps on Rhodes’ chest and sends him out of the ring. On the way back in, Cody drops Antonio’s throat on the top rope and tried to pin Cesaro, who rolled out of it and transitioned into the Neutralizer to win the match clean. How was there no interference with all these heels ringside? Very strange match to watch as no character had any positive qualities (unless you count Damien and Cody’s undying friendship).

After a cheap plug segment for the Total Divas reality show we are on to the main event, putting Alberto Del Rio against John Cena. ADR is back to wearing black, although he still doesn’t have his car gimmick back. Cena leads off with a hip toss and a chin lock which Alberto responds with a hip toss of his own and escapes the ring to regroup. I’m just happy that Cena hasn’t cut a promo tonight, instead just coming out to be in a match. What a concept. Del Rio gets back in and takes control with kicks in the corner, countered with a suplex and bulldog by Cena. Alberto then regains the momentum when he dodges Cena in the corner, leaving John’s shoulder to crash into the ringpost. Del Rio then hits a chop off the top rope onto the shoulder, yet back from break he has Cena in a chin lock. He takes him down and goes to the top rope again, where they repeat the spot Orton and Kane did better as Cena dropkicks Del Rio on the way down. Alberto dodges a shoulder block however and keeps the momentum as Cena is sent outside the ring. Cena then lifts up Del Rio but Alberto flips over him to connect on a back stabber. Cena escapes the arm breaker to hit to the five knuckle shuffle yet can’t hit the AA as Del Rio lands a German Suplex for a two count. Alberto then has his side kick blocked and gets dropped with a belly to belly suplex. There has been a back and forth pace as neither man has sustained offense for very long. Cena went to the top rope where Del Rio hit him with an enziguri for a two count. Del Rio went for it again but Cena ducked under it and went for the STF. Alberto escaped and hit a tilt a wirl back breaker for another two count. It’s looking like one of those matches where Cena wins for no reason other than being Cena. Del Rio sets Cena up in the tree of woe, but John pulls himself up as Alberto misses running into him, instead running into the ring post. Cena follows with a cross body splash and a two count. Del Rio then avoids the AA and goes for an arm breaker, but Cena slips out and applies the STF. At this point Mark Henry comes out and watches from ringside. Del Rio uses the distraction to try rolling up Cena but can’t get the win. Meanwhile Dolph Ziggler runs out and stands on the top rope. He catches Del Rio’s attention, giving Cena the opening to hit an AA to give John the win. Dolph walks off with a “who me?” look on his face and Henry grabs the WWE Championship and punks Cena by making it look like he is going to attack him with it. Instead, Henry tosses it on the floor on leaves, making Cena look scared. Decent match that does its job in pushing the stories along.

Cena just AA'd his pants
Cena just AA’d his pants

The show ends however with one final promo for the Wyatt family. I haven’t mentioned them as they are pre-edited segments, but they have really gotten a lot of chatter lately. They will make their debut next week, and I don’t have much of an idea what to expect. Today’s Raw didn’t have the awesome factor of the last few, but we’ll see how the go home show plays out next week heading into Money in the Bank.

Punk And Heyman Hug It Out, Bryan Finally Beats Orton On Raw

RAW_1048_Photo_173Why do all the best stories have to come out after I publish these recaps?

Remember the Daniel Bryan/Randy Orton match last week that had Bryan get injured and ended with the ref stopping it for Bryan’s safety while Orton gave him a pat on the head? Well that turned out to be a legit stinger and Triple H made the call the stop the match, causing a legit heated argument between Bryan and Trips. I never thought it was real as I assumed that Orton showing compassion would do more to irate Daniel and further push him to prove he isn’t a “weak link” It made total sense. Apparently the finish was supposed to have Bryan win on his way to a Summerslam push but that obviously didn’t happen. Instead, Bryan ended up getting headlines than he would have gotten had he just won clean, showing his passion by stepping up to his boss, and now will likely get that push from Orton this week in a rematch on Raw.

What better to kick off Raw than that very match? Sure they had a rematch on Smackdown but that ended in Bryan winning via count out but Daniel wanted to beat him clean and failed the have it restarted. So here we are. Bryan came out first and addressed the crowd, talking about how people think he has “little man syndrome,” and clarified that he was not an extra in The Hobbit. He says beating Orton via count out is not good enough, and is set on beating him in the ring. Orton cuts off YES chant with his entrance and tells him to shut up and fight. Bryan does just that, beating Orton out of the ring and the match is on. Randy gets back in and they brawl across the ring, with Orton throwing Daniel out of the ring to immediately follow and toss over the announce table. The ref tries to separate them but is unsuccessful and the match ends quicker than it started with a double DQ. Several other refs need to come out in order to separate the two and we get absolutely no resolution to this feud.

Backstage, Bryan is chewing out Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox about the decision and wants another match tonight. Maddox refuses, saying that the card is booked and they need to move on. It’s about time someone acted under the idea that the show is booked BEFORE they go live instead of just doing it all on the fly. Daniel then goes to Vickie, demanding that he either get a rematch against Orton, or he faces Maddox instead. Guerrero agrees to put him in a match with Randy, and makes fun of Brad for looking terrified. So I guess we will get some resolution. Vince McMahon then pops in, saying that Bryan doesn’t belong in the top tier of the WWE due to his size and mental state (something he probably did say about wrestlers in the 80s and 90s.

Team Rhodes Scholars in the ring next to face the team of Sheamus and Christian. Cody and Christian start off and exchange moves. Christian takes Cody outside but Sandow distracts him long enough for Rhodes to attack him from behind and steal the momentum. Sandow gets tagged in to deliver a flurry of knees and the elbow of disdain before bringing Cody back in to keep Christian from tagging Sheamus. Rhodes then holds Christian up on a long vertical hold before dropping him face first. Christian then escapes an Alabama Slam and falls into a double clothesline with Cody, allowing Sheamus to get a hot tag and punish Damien with some chest bashing. Sandow makes it to the corner to tag Cody, but they trip over each other a bit a Rhodes walks right into a Brogue Kick as Sheamus wins the match. Not much to take from this one.

Backstage, CP Punk is texting when Vickie Guerrero goes up to him. He asks if she’s seen Heyman or Lesnar, which she hasn’t. She tries to tell him that he has been put in a match, but Punk blows her off. So that happened.

Uncanny resemblance
Uncanny resemblance

Kaitlyn now with Layla in her corner against Aksana, because Aksana called her trash and she didn’t like it. In the middle of the match, Kaitlyn’s music hits and AJ comes out dressed like her. Aksana tries to use the distraction to roll up Kaitlyn but only gets a two count and gets speared and loses instead. AJ then does her best Kaitlyn impression, saying she wishes someone liked her and brings up the secret admirer. Big E then comes out with flowers and they reenact the scene from a couple of weeks ago. She (AJ) says she’s thrilled to have a guy with legs as big and a voice as deep as hers while the real Kaitlyn goes berserk and needs Layla to keep her in the ring. Pretty flat segment aside from Big E being hilarious as always.

That gets followed by a real match as Chris Jericho takes on World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. Their match on Smackdown was cut short when Dolph Ziggler attacked Alberto to lose it for Jericho. Ricardo starts his introduction with a hicked up South Carolina accent. They start slow, milking the crowd before Jericho landed a standing dropkick and laid in some chops to take control of the match. Things only turn around when Del Rio ducks under a springboard dropkick, sending Chris out of the ring. Back from break, Alberto is taunting Jericho until he tries a small package which leads to a momentum shift as Jericho lands an enziguri for a two count. Chris then hits a couple of shoulder blocks and goes to the top tope, where Del Rio drops him with an enziguri. The ref counts as Jericho is laid out on the floor but makes it back on 9 and Del Rio immediately goes back on the offensive with a snap suplex. Jericho then fights out of a chin lock and the two exchange chops only for Del Rio to regain control on a leaping stomp and we’re back to the chin lock. Alberto then puts Chris on the turnbuckle, but Jericho pushes him down and hits a flying cross body splash for a two count. Chris goes for a German suplex but Alberto takes a wild swing to face the other way, resulting in Jericho hitting a bridge for a two count. Jericho then goes for the Codebreaker but Del Rio catches him in the air. Jericho then flips over Alberto for a sunset flip but ends up trying to apply the Walls of Jericho. Del Rio fights him off and tries to apply the cross arm breaker but can’t, however he does block the Lion Tamer and applies the arm breaker on the second try. Jericho made it to the topes, but instead of breaking the hold, Jericho uses it to flip over an apply the Walls. At this point Ricardo runs in and attacks Chris with his bucket, ending the match via DQ. The attack continues until Dolph Ziggler runs in to attack Del Rio with a Zig Zag, leaving Jericho to take care of Rodriguez. The heels exit as Jericho and Dolph stare each other down. Jericho tries to blow Dolph off and Jericho lands a Zig Zag to send Chris out of the ring. The match was okay but it mainly pushed forward the feud brewing between Jericho, Ziggler and Del Rio.

Send in the man!
Send in the man!

Backstage, Triple H is making Vickie reverse her previous decision to cancel the Bryan/Orton match (at Vince’s request). He then has Vickie allow the WWE Universe to select the stipulation of the match (which they did last week already).

I guess I'll be getting this
I guess I’ll be getting this

The WWE ’14 cover was revealed next, along with a contest where people can make the inside cover of the game. Naturally, Vickie made a cover of her own that featured the McMahons in a big suck up attempt. Maddox had a cover with himself alongside Cena and Punk, while the real cover had the Rock. Big hairy deal. This gave Cole an opportunity to talk about how big of a movie star Rock is.

Ryback now makes his first appearance since his Payback loss to Cena. The Pun-jobby Khali lives up to his name that I made up, although not before Khali laid some awkward kicks and some chops. All Ryback needed to do is hit Shell Shock once and the match was over. Khali actually had most of the offense in this one, but since he can’t bend his legs it is impossible for him to pin anyone. Is there no other Punjabi that can wrestle?

This shows seems to be moving pretty fast (or I’m just quicker with the DVR) as John Cena is now out to cut a promo on Mark Henry, who made a mark out of all of us when he convinced us that he was retiring only to drop Cena and make his big for a title shot. He talks about the respect that being WWE Champion brings and the shortcuts people have taken to try to get it. This led to describing how Mark Henry “disgraced” his family and the men who had to give the speech Henry gave for real. Cena thinks Mark did that because his time is running out in the business and sees the title as the justification of his career. Cena then yells about how he’s going to kick Henry’s ass and how the champ is here and all the stuff he says regardless of the opponent.

Back in the ring, Brodus Clay and Tensai are joined by an auction winner who paid to be in the ring with them. He got his own jump suit and everything! They are in a triple threat match against the Usos and 3MB to determine the number one contender for the tag team championships. Apparently this works by have two people in the ring and anyone can get tagged I guess. The Usos start off by beating on 3MB (who doesn’t) until Tensai tags out Mahal and takes charge of the match. Brodus Clay then takes cares of 3MB by himself, throwing them out of the ring and then jumping off the apron into them. In the ring, Tensai hits an Uso with a back splash for a two count, but then gets dropped with a super kick and finished off with a top rope splash to win the match and a title shot. Cute little match there. The celebration is short lived as the The Shield steps out to show off their tag titles and head back. It’s good that they didn’t bury them immediately after winning a big match.

Paul Heyman in the ring and he has a lot to explain since he has two of his guys in a feud. He says he has ignored Punk’s texts and emails, choosing to talk to him face to face on Raw instead. He calls Punk out, who reminds us how Heyman believed in him when the rest of the WWE didn’t which is why Punk is standing by him. He then tells Paul to let Brock Lesnar know that he’s coming after him, and that despite being bigger and stronger, Punk is still better than him and will bring him down. Punk then asks Heyman if he sent Lesnar after him, asking Heyman to tell the truth for a change. Paul says he never wanted it to be this way, but since he feels Punk deserves the truth, he swears that he did not know Brock Lesnar would be there last week. He tells Punk that when he told Paul that Lesnar needed his help, he picked a fight with Lesnar. Heyman says that this was bound to happen as there was professional jealously between the two of them, which is why Heyman never put Punk and Lesnar together at any point. Heyman says that he wanted to help his best friend by keeping Lesnar away, and would not screw him and will not be in any man’s corner against Punk, including Lesnar. He says he loves Punk and doesn’t want to throw his friendship away just because he can’t accompany him to the ring anymore. Punk apologizes for doubting him and gives Heyman a big hug. Really dramatic segment that has to end in Heyman siding with Lesnar, doesn’t it?

Coincidentally, Punk is scheduled to wrestle next against Darren Young with Titus O’Neil in his corner. Punk controls things early with a snap suplex, but Young fakes a knee injury which Punk doesn’t fall for but Darren goes on the offensive anyway with knees and a clothesline. He signals to the ref that he is going to try a pin which is something I’ve never seen before. Punk breaks out of a chin lock and steps right into a belly to belly suplex and returns to the chin lock. Punk again tries to fight back but Young avoids a splash in the corner and starts talking trash. CM hits a back body drop to lead into the high running knee in the corner. He goes to the top rope but Darren takes him down. Punk then pushes him away with a shoulder and hits a springboard clothesline for a two count. Punk starts selling his knee injury and can’t pull off the GTS. Darren Young then hits his gut buster drop thing for a two count. Punk hits a sloppy roundhouse kick and applies the Anaconda Vice which Young taps out to immediately and the match is over. Titus jumps in and the Prime Time Players double team Punk, who is saved when Curtis Axel (another Paul Heyman guy) runs in to help. The two take care of the PTPs while Punk continues to be hobbled, and Heyman explains how he didn’t think there was another way with the odds being 2 on 1. Punk tells Axel that he doesn’t need his help, and Curtis walks out with Heyman.

But who's side is he on?
But who’s side is he on?

Moving things along, Stephanie McMahon is out to announce who will be in the MITB Ladder Match for the WWE Championship. Vickie Guerrero was too busy so Steph is doing it instead. The competitors are CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Christian (meh), Kane and Rob Van Dam. I’d pay to see a match that just had Punk, Bryan and RVD. I’d pay less to see the other guys involved.

Backstage Ryback goes up to Brickie to brag about how easily he beat Khali (who doesn’t beat him easily?) and how if it wasn’t for a poorly made ambulance roof he would be champion right now. He wants Vickie to cancel the Henry/Cena match and give him a title shot instead. Jericho then jumps in to say that he deserves better instead, after being ganged up on tonight and that he should be a part of the MITB match. Ryback tells Jericho to “cry me a river” (yeah, he’s quoting Timberlake) and says he can eat him alive. Jericho gets in Ryback’s face and Vickie books them in a match together at MITB just to get them out of her hair. So I guess we’ll have that match now.

Meanwhile, Punk is yelling at Heyman for getting involved in his match. Paul says he was just helping his friend who was in trouble. Punk reiterates that he doesn’t need anyone’s help, but Paul says he fixed things by getting the Prime Time Players in a match against Curtis Axel and CM Punk next week. This makes Punk more pissed, as he says he’s going to beat the PTPs by himself to prove he doesn’t need help, then he’s going to come after Lesnar, and then he is going to win Money in the Bank to become to WWE Champion because that is all he is focused on right now. He storms off and the plot thickens.

Mark Henry now in the ring to brag more about how he fooled us all. I am certainly included in that. Even when he slammed Cena I thought it was just one last move before leaving for good. It was awesome. He says that after his performance, directors are calling him and he’s being nominated for an academy award. That doesn’t matter thought because all he wants is the WWE Championship. He says that at Money in the Bank, a lying, cheating, dirty Mark Henry is going to show up, and he’s going home with the WWE Championship. Brief promo but he has been really good. He said he doesn’t care that he used his family and friends and fellow wrestlers in his speech last week, and is just crushing it right now.

After opening the show 3 hours ago, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan now prepare to finish what they started. The fan vote decides that they will have a Street Fight Match, taking 50% of the vote over Lumberjack Match (22%) and Falls Count Anywhere (28%). They start off just like they started the first time, with a brawl in the ring. They repeat the spot going to the outside from earlier tonight, only Bryan ducks Orton and Bryan ends up back in the ring, where he hits a running dropkick through the ropes into Orton. Bryan then tries to dive through the ropes, but is my by Randy swinging a chair at him. Spot of the night for sure. After a commercial, Orton is still beating Bryan on top of the apron. Randy then pulls out a table and drops Daniel onto the top rope, giving him time to prop the table into the corner. Daniel avoids being thrown into the wood, going into his backflip spot and hitting the clothesline. He follows with a running dropkick, but when he goes for a second one Randy throws a chair at him. Orton then attempts to suplex Bryan over the top rope from the apron onto a table outside, only Bryan blocks it and starts running at Randy to try knocking him into the table with dropkicks. Orton holds onto the rope however, so Bryan slides under his legs to the floor, where he grabs Orton’s legs and slams him through the table. Bryan then brings him back into the ring for a two count. Daniel then pulls out a kendo stick, where he starts hitting alternating kicks and swings on Orton. Randy catches one of the kicks however and hits a fisherman’s suplex into the bottom of the table in the corner. Orton just can’t get that move right. He’s going to break someone’s neck. Bryan only hit the very bottom of the table. The two get up and exchange blows again, with Bryan getting the upper hand until Randy hit a dropkick. Orton then takes Bryan to the top rope for a supleplex, but Bryan knocks him down and attempts a flying hurricarrana. Orton sees it though and powerbombs him from mid-air for a two count. Randy tries a little ground and pound next but Daniel turns him over into the NO Lock in the middle of the ring. Orton can’t reach the ropes, but he does get to the kendo stick and breaks the hold with a barrage of swings. He beats Bryan to the apron and hits the second rope DDT. Orton then calls for the RKO, but Daniel counters with a backslide for a two count. Bryan follows with a round house kick and grabs the kendo stick to continue the beating. Daniel then applies the NO Lock again. Randy reaches the kendo stick again and starts the hit Daniel with it, but Bryan grabs the stick with his hands and uses it to gain leverage on the NO Lock. Finally Orton taps out and we get the finish we were supposed to get last week. Orton shakes Bryan’s hand and exits as the show ends with Bryan celebrating his win.

The old Kendo Krossface
The old Kendo Krossface

Considering how bad he wants to turn heel it’s pretty amazing how Orton may be the only face who actually acts like a face most of the time. Certainly can’t say that about Sheamus or Jericho. He’s had a good face versus face thing going with Bryan, meanwhile Punk and Ziggler are turning face without doing the whole smiling hand slapping thing. It’s reminiscent of the Attitude Era that way. The line between face and heel is blurring. Del Rio knows he’s a heel now right? Curtis Axel is facing Wade Barrett and helping Punk, yet he’s a heel too. Fans are responding to the best performers now regardless of status. Ziggler and Punk get more cheers than Del Rio and Miz so it makes sense to reverse the roles, however being heels gives these characters the extra bite that make them connect. This is how we get to this point, where wrestlers are wrestlers and the crowd decides who is the face and who is the heel.

Except Mark Henry. He is a perfect heel and doesn’t need to change a thing. THAT’S WHAT HE DO!

Lesnar Attacks Punk As Henry Fools Us All On Raw

RAW_1047_Photo_190-1So aside from some light botching and the Cena/Ryback three stages of crap, Payback was really good. Going forward though I’m now wondering what of CM Punk. It is very possible that he could just be back for that one match to please the Chicago crowd (which was awesome as always), then reverting back into the abyss until a later date when he is ready for a full schedule. He did not do any mic work last night, so we’ll have to find out on Raw. We’ll also need to find out if Mark Henry is retiring or not and what will go along with the Ziggler/ADR face/heel swap. Also, is Triple H ever going to face Curtis Axel? You mean he doesn’t want the IC belt? I can’t believe that. It’s only the third most prestigious piece of hardware out there.

Tonight’s show starts with a suited up Alberto Del Rio heading to the ring under a chorus of boos. It’s pretty cool that he still thinks he’s a good guy. Could be very interesting if done right. He says that people shouldn’t be talking about Man of Steel, instead they should talk about the man of gold and declares himself the real Superman. Del Rio says that the way he exploited Ziggler’s head injury is no different from Dolph attacking Alberto’s leg injury when he cashed in his briefcase to win the title. Del Rio is pissed that Dolph got cheered but he got booed, saying that he gave the fans everything he had and never got respect from the fans in return. Same goes for fans chanting U-S-A during his feud against Swagger. Del Rio goes full heel now as he says Americans must all be pigs and cowards for backing Ziggler and Swagger over him (makes as much sense for a heel turn as anything else). He says he’s going to be the better man and show them that he is the best, and will provide the crowd with a second chance to appreciate him. Well, you can’t call yourself the best without hearing from CM Punk, and sure enough he comes out with Paul Heyman. So it looks like Punk is a face as he brings up how the last time they met, Punk was beating Del Rio to start his WWE Championship streak. Punk naturally says that he is the best in the world and challenges him to a match, but Heyman cuts in to say that his clients don’t fight for free, and Punk cuts him off and tells him to butt out. Punk says he doesn’t care if the title is on the line because he knows Ziggler gets and deserves the next title shot (Dolph with the rub!). He just wants to prove he is the best in the world, just like he did when he stole the show in beating Jericho. Alberto declines so Punk challenges Ricardo, saying somebody is going to fight him tonight. Vickie Guerrero comes out and tells Del Rio that it isn’t his call to refuse a match, and books Del Rio/Punk as the main event. So if anything else it answers my question about Punk’s status and furthers the tension between Punk and Heyman.

Backstage, Heyman is apologizing for jumping in on the conversation, and Punk tells him that he doesn’t need Heyman to win like Axel and Lesnar need him. Punk then tells Heyman that he doesn’t want him ringside during his matches anymore, but will always be a Paul Heyman guy. So that escalated quickly.

The first match of the show puts new Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel against old Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett with the Intercontinental Championship on the line. At least it was supposed to happen. Instead, Vickie Guerrero calls out Christian, who returns with a big pop. He has apparently be ready for ages now and they have just been waiting for the right time. So this is it? In my head, Christian always came off as the most average wrestler ever, not doing anything specifically great. He starts the match by throwing Wade out of the ring and hitting a cross body splash to the outside off the top rope. Back in the ring, Barrett goes on the offensive and slows things down with a chin lock. Christian calls for the crowd to get loud and breaks out of it and hits an elbow to reclaim the momentum. Christian proceeds to drop the back of Barrett’s neck onto the top rope and finishes him off with the Kill Switch to end a solidly average match. They want me to be so excited for Captain Charisma’s return, and I really didn’t miss him one bit.

Where is there room for him?
Where is there room for him?

Sheamus wasn’t done beating up Damien Sandow after doing it for the last month, so now he’ll face him in a handicap match, with Sandow being joined by Cody Rhodes. Tag rules are not in effect so Sheamus has to beat them both at the same time, and does a pretty good job of it until Cody hits a disaster kick to put the heels in control. They gang up on Sheamus, hitting a double suplex among the array of kicks and punches. Heels in full control as they start taunting Sheamus by slapping him in the face. Sheamus, the brute, tosses Cody over the top rope and has Sandow alone in the ring. He continues to beat him with a shoulder and a high knee, hitting the forward falling Samoan drop on Sandow, beating Cody’s chest on the apron, throwing Sandow out and hitting White Noise on Cody. Sheamus calls for the Brogue Kick on Rhodes, but Damien sneaks up behind him and rolls him up for the surprise win. So Sandow finally gets over on Sheamus, so Sheamus kicks Cody in the head anyway. Again, what kind of face is this? He’s such a sore loser than he knocks out a guy who was a part of a clean victory. Good, quick match though.

Backstage, Vickie and Maddox are trying to get Triple H’s approval, and Trips asks the question I always have. What if CM Punk didn’t show up? What would have been the main event? He then asks why it took Christian so long to come back and takes credit for bringing back RVD. Triple H then tells Vickie to make and example out of the Shield if they try to interfere. He finishes it up by congratulating her with booking 3MB. This is sarcastic of course and can 3MB be any more buried? Nice little meta segment.

Meanwhile, Kane is trying to talk to Daniel Bryan, but Bryan doesn’t want to hear as his losing without Kane means that he is the weak link. Kane replies that since he lost too, they should join forces again. Bryan refuses, saying that he needs to prove himself by being a singles competitor, and has his eyes on the WWE Championship. Kane says he actually wants the same, and it looks like Team Hell No is officially done. Points to Kane for saying Bryan is acting like a “DB” when Bryan says he only wants to be on “team DB.” The stipulation for Bryan’s match against Randy Orton will be decided via the WWE App. BUT THEY NEVER TAUGHT ME HOW TO GET IT! HOW CAN I VOTE!!!

Bros
Bros

That match kicks off hour two and the stipulation is a No DQ match, beating out No count outs (LAME) and 2 out of 3 falls with 54% of the vote. Apparently Orton now believes that Bryan is, in fact, the weak link. He says Daniel cost them the match at Payback and will prove it by beating him. They start with some mat wrestling and then exchanging kicks in the corners before Orton takes control on a sling shot suplex off the top rope. Orton tries to hit the Lou Thesz press but Bryan turns it into a one legged crab. Orton breaks out of it and sends Daniel to the outside, dropping him with a clothesline. A lot of clean wrestling for a no DQ match. The opening was there to do some DQ’ish stuff but instead Orton rolls Bryan back in the ring and applies a chin lock. Randy then whips Bryan to the corner where Daniel starts his comeback. Bryan does the backflip into a jumping clothesline, leading to the running dropkicks in the corner for a two count. Bryan then lowers the rope to send the rushing Orton out of the ring, but Randy moves aside when Bryan tries to dive into him through the ropes, and Daniel crashes into the barrier instead. Finally Orton remembers this is a no DQ match and pulls out a kendo stick (which is under the ring because?) and starts tagging him in the stomach with it. Randy brings Daniel back in the ring to pin him but only gets two. Back from break, Orton attempts a superplex but Bryan fights him off and hits a missal dropkick instead. Bryan gets up first and delivers kicks to the mid section, but Orton ducks under the round house and hits a fisherman’s suplex. Orton goes for a second rope DDT but Bryan slips away and tries to apply the NO Lock, only for Orton to counter by hurling Bryan over the top rope. Bryan holds on to the rope however and tries to skin the cat, but Orton sees it and kick him in the gut to send him to the floor. At this point the ref has a medic look at Bryan who appears to have an injury. The doctor tries to call the match but Bryan refuses and runs back in the ring to attack Orton. Randy is ready for it however and sends the match back outside, where he hits Daniel with a back body drop into the barrier. At this point the ref stops the match and awards it to Orton. This won’t do much for Bryan’s psyche as the weak link.  After the match, Randy helps Bryan up and gives him a pat on the back as they all make their way up the ramp. Good match despite the non-ending.

New Divas Champion AJ with Big E in her corner, and Dolph Ziggler is a no show and for all we know he could be dead after all the head shots coming off his concussion. She says that soon enough Ziggler will be back to share the spotlight with the greatest Divas Champion. Talks about how she manipulated Kaitlyn and knows how to get what she wants. She says there isn’t another woman who is as strong and courageous as her, and sends an open challenge for any Diva to come out and face her. Instead of a wrestler, Stephanie McMahon comes to the ring. She congratulates AJ on being such a great story but calls her out as a bad example to women, being conniving backstabbers. She tells AJ to act like a champion, and AJ responds by saying that instead of just dating WWE superstars she should marry one instead (oooooh). AJ gives her the crazy eyes and Steph tells her that nobody does crazy like a McMahon. AJ then starts to say that Stephanie is jealous because she is a younger version of her, which sets Steph off to threaten to fire her if she keeps acting up. That quickly quiets the champ as Kaitlyn and a bunch of the Divas come out to confront her. After Stephanie tells them never to interrupt her again, Kaitlyn takes the lead to talk about how AJ humiliated and broke her, but now she wants revenge and jumps in the ring to start a cat fight. Langston pulls AJ out and grabs the belt, carrying AJ up the ramp as she screams that Kaitlyn will never take her belt. This whole segment would have been a good time to go to the bathroom.

Coming off their match at Payback, Kane gets another shot at Dean Ambrose’s United States Championship after the last match ended with Kane getting counted out. Kane goes on the offensive from the start, attacking Ambrose in the corner. During the match it is announced that Daniel Bryan might be suffering from nerve damage. At least it isn’t a concussion. Kane maintains control with a boot to the face and scoop slam, followed by a sidewalk slam for a two count. This match doesn’t look like it’ll last long as Kane hits the single axe handle from the top rope. Kane sets up for the chokeslam when Rollins and Reigns come out and attack Kane, triple power bombing him and ending the match via DQ. So now we’ll see what kind of penalty they face from Vickie Guerrero.

Backstage, Guerrero chews out the Shield for their actions, and they taunt her, waiting for her big punishment. It looks like she might fire them when Vince McMahon steps in to congratulate them on a job well done, adding that he reminds him of himself. Vince says he never liked Kane anyway and is glad the Shield ran in. Love heel Vince. It’s like this is his true self.

Time for some racism as Zeb Colter comes out to explain how our government is lying to us as foreigners come her and something about war and whatnot. Colter says that to prove that they are not prejudice, Colter and Swagger have aligned with Antonio Cesaro, who is a foreigner who has done things the right way. Forget all that for a minute though as Cesaro is facing WILLIAM F’N REGAL. All he does is get destroyed by people who need a push, and this match is no different. Regal does get a nice bridge in though and a couple of chops before Cesaro applies a swinging sleeper hold and the Neutralizer to win a squash match. At least Cesaro teaming up with Colter takes away the racist fanbase.

He had us all believing he was retiring
He had us all believing he was retiring

John Cena out to the ring now to recap everything he has done, and little else. He sounds like he’s running a telethon for the WWE, talking about how we all love the WWE and have favorite wrestlers half the world hates him while the other half loves him. He decides to talk only to the Cena fans, thanking them for sticking by him last year when he wasn’t winning and that he’s rewarding them now by winning the title, and is looking toward Money in the Bank (cheap plug) to see who his next challenge will be. This is the time that Mark Henry decides is good for him to come to the ring in a salmon blazer. What a boss. Cena is about to leave when Henry asks him to stay, as he has an announcement for him and all the fans. The crowd chants his name as he says he respects everyone in this business, giving credit to Cena for being so successful and getting emotional as he says he is the best champ ever. He then announces that he is retiring from the active roster of the WWE. The crowd chants “one more match” and Cena hands Henry the WWE Championship belt, the only belt he hasn’t held and his one regret, to pay tribute. He says he is a proud man and thanks his wife and family for staying with him while he toured all this time, wrapping it up by telling his family that he is coming home. Cena holds Henry’s arm up in celebration, and Henry responds by HITTING CENA WITH A WORLD’S STRONGEST SLAM! He yells at John that he has plenty left in the tank, and gets a big pop as he drops the belt on Cena’s chest and storms off. That was a great segment. I, along with everyone else, totally bought that he was retiring. Henry sounded honest, sincere and emotional before ripping our throats out. That was awesome. Henry should be nominated for an Emmy or something.

Backstage, Henry says he fooled everyone and called us puppets. All he wants is the WWE Championship so he challenges Cena to a match for the strap, and takes one boot off because he’s going to put it up Cena’s ass. He’s so money right now.

But THAT'S WHAT HE DOES
But THAT’S WHAT HE DOES

Chris Jericho out next to take on Heath Slater with the rest of 3MB in his corner. Jericho starts off strong but falls to a roundhouse kick and takes control. Jericho bounces back with shoulders and a double axe handle, leading into the running bulldog. 3MB interferes to prevent the lionsault and Slater almost steals a win with a roll up. Jericho bounces back however to hit the bulldog again and the lionsault. He follows up with the Codebreaker and wins in a squash match. The rest of 3MB tries to attack Chris from behind, but instead get beaten down as Mahal gets tossed aside and McIntyre gets hit with a Codebreaker. Good thing they were on the card.

Backstage, Josh Matthews is trying to get Heyman to talk about what happened with Punk, but Heyman side steps the questions and talks up Axel before heading down with Curtis for the next match.

Miz at the announce table as Sin Cara ends up being the man to face Axel instead of Wade Barrett. It’s really annoying that Cara needs his own lighting for his matches. Especially when he gets knocked around like a dope like he does at the start of the match.  Sin bounces back with a couple dropkicks but Axel stops the momentum with a clothesline and a snap back body drop. Miz meanwhile is talking about how great Axel is and how much Heyman is helping him. Cara tries coming back again with a boot in the corner but misses on a 180 flip from the top rope as Axel rolls away and hits a big DDT to win what was essentially another squash match. Axel holds up the IC belt to taunt Miz, and they will in all likelyhood clash at MITB. Meanwhile I’m just trying to figure out how many finishers Axel has. The Perfectplex, the swinging face plant thing, now a DDT? I can’t keep up with him.

Backstage, Vince is telling Bricky that he thought they were doing a good job and that he bought Henry’s speech. They suggest that Cena faces Henry at MITB and Vince accepts. Just then, Stephanie and Triple H step in to chew them out about being idiots. Triple H, Vince and Stephanie all tell Vicky to listen to each of them individually, and there is a nice power struggle going on right now. Before the segment ends we hear the director cue the cut to Punk, leading to an awkward stare from Vickie.

Photobomb
Photobomb

Meanwhile, Heyman is trying to make sure that he and Punk are okay, telling him that he still loves him and gives him with a big hug. So something foul is definitely going to happen as its main event time with CM Punk (WITHOUT Paul Heyman) taking on World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. Punk immediately goes after Del Rio and forces him out of the ring to regroup. Back inside, Punk continues with a barrage of kicks to the shins force Alberto out again. This time Punk goes out after him, beating him into the barrier to lay a chop and send him back in. Alberto goes on the offensive as Punk gets back in the ring now, hitting a kick to the temple for a two count. Del Rio follows with a snap suplex but Punk fights back and they exchange punches and kicks until Alberto again takes charge, working the arm. Punk bounces back and attempts a GTS but Alberto again escapes the ring. This time Punk responds by diving through the ropes into ADR on the outside. With Punk on the apron, Ricardo distracts him long enough for Del Rio to pull his arm down on the top rope and follow it with a running kick to the side to again take the momentum. CM tries to come back but Del Rio hit a tilt a wirl back breaker and continues kicking Punk down. Punk then dodges Del Rio attempting a double axe handle, hitting a leaping heel kick. Alberto slows Punk down again however, ducking under the roundhouse kick for going back to the arm. Del Rio follows that up with a back stabber for a two count. Punk then dodges a kick to the head and rolls up Del Rio for a two count, but then gets tagged with a second kick attempt. Del Rio tries to apply the cross armbreaker but Punk counters with a high knee into a GTS, only it sends Del Rio out of the ring. Alberto decides he’s had enough, taking the count out and heading to the stage. Before he exits however, Dolph Ziggler runs out and attacks him from behind, fighting off refs and Ricardo to get a piece of him.

Only guys I'd trust with with an MMA style match
Only guys I’d trust with with an MMA style match

So Punk wins the match via count out, and right after the decision is announced Brock Lesnar comes out! The original Paul Heyman guy gets into the ring and circles Punk. He then grabs a mic and is about to say something, but instead smirks and nails Punk with an F-5 to close out the show. This is great. The two Paul Heyman guys going at it. There is a lot of good that can come out of this, as it has been on people’s minds for a while now.

This was a very good episode of Raw. Henry and Lesnar’s appearances made the show, which also marked the return of Christian (if you’re into that type of thing). The matches weren’t mind blowing, but for once the storylines saved the matches. Looking forward to next week.

RVD To Return As Punk Wins And Ziggler Loses WHC At Payback

PAY_Photo_188Going into Payback one thought ran through my mind (aside from how amazing it will be to see Dolph Ziggler in action again).

How can CM Punk not close a PPV in Chicago?

It’s his first appearance since WrestleMania and no single person draws a better reaction in their home town than CM Punk in Chicago. However, all signs point to Cena and Ryback’s Three Stages of Hell match closing things out, which is one of Punk’s biggest gripes against the way things are currently run.

Overall I’m not expecting many surprises aside from maybe Paul Heyman turning on Punk. I’m very excited to see where Daniel Bryan goes next after his match with Randy Orton against the Shield. At the same time I’m disappointed that nobody has been allowed to say “Payback is a bitch!” It writes itself people!

The show opens with a triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship as Wade Barrett defends the strap against the Miz and Curtis Axel. Axel is replacing Fandango, who suffered a concussion last week. Tamina Snuka also endured a concussion, forcing the WWE to alter their concussion protocol as that’s now three people with real concussions if you include Ziggler (four if you count Triple H’s fake one), and there is now an automatic extended time off after being cleared. Anyway the match sees Axel almost immediately get tossed out of the ring by Miz and try to roll up Wade. Heyman keeps Curtis from running back in so that the other two can duke it out. Axel got forced in by Miz and got pump handle slammed by Barrett and clotheslined by Miz after Barrett moves away. Axel is the only man to have no offense early on and I’m thinking that he steals the win in the end.The crowd starts Fandango’ing as Barrett takes down Miz but has his big boot avoided by Axel who sends Wade out of the ring and goes after Miz, throwing him into the ropes to deliver a dropkick. So Axel finally does something in this match, hitting a snapmare (another Mr. Perfect move) on Miz, following it up with a knee to the gut. Curtis’ beatdown seems to go on a little too long as he tries to win on a hard back body drop, with Barrett breaking up the pin and working Curtis. Miz then comes out of nowhere to beat on both Barrett and Axel, hitting Wade with the jumping clothesine and getting Axel with a kick to the head. Barrett procedes to escape the figure four and lift up Axel for Wasteland, swinging Curtis’ boot into Miz to take him out momentarily. Axel slipped out and hit the Perfect Plex on Barrett to a nice pop, but Miz broke up the pin on two (to a chorus of boos). Miz then does a backflip to counter another Axel back body drop and hits a Skull Crushing Finale on Curtis. Wade throws Miz out of the ring and goes for the cover himself, only to have Miz pull him down from the outside floor to stop the pin. Miz drives Wade into the apron and goes for the pin but Axel kicks out on two and the crowd is totally on his side. Miz now starts working Axel’s leg, and tries for the figure four but gets pushed into Barrett who tries to hit the Winds of Change, only Miz escapes, hurls and running Axel over the top rope and applies the figure four to Barrett in the center of the ring. Heyman tries to revive Axel as Barrett can’t get to the rope to break up the hold, and finally Axel runs in and instead of breaking up the hold, he just covers Barrett and gets the pin to win the Intercontinental Championship! Very good ending to a pretty entertaining match. Everybody (even Miz) looked good and since Miz had the hold that allowed Axel to win, I assume he’ll get the first title shot over Barrett, avoiding a heel versus heel match. Good way to start the show. Crowd loved the finish too.

Backstage, Triple H confronts Axel and Heyman as they are celebrating. He looks like he’s going to start trouble when Vince McMahon steps in to congratulate the duo (he even shakes Heyman’s hand). He sends them off and tries to sell Triple H on facing Curtis Axel. Triple H still isn’t feeling it and I’m still confused as to why. Is it just because he doesn’t want Vince to get what he wants? He obviously doesn’t care too much for Curtis.

Next up is Kaitlyn defending her Divas Championship against AJ. AJ turned full on evil on Raw, setting up Big E to be the secret admirer only to toss her aside at the last minute and get in Kaitlyn’s head. AJ comes to the ring with Big E at her side, skipping around to about as big of a reaction as you’ll get from a Diva these days. AJ blows a kiss and Kaityn loses her head, taking down AJ and punching her out of the ring, tossing her over the Spanish announce table, throwing her back in to continue to beat down. AJ leads Kaitlyn out of the ring to tag her with a missel dropkick off the apron for the best wrestling move AJ has shown in a year that is not the black widow. Kaitlyn breaks a chin lock but gets beat back down with a running elbow and AJ is in control. A pair of neckbreakers get a two count and AJ is pretty impressive here. This is the first time in ages she actually asked to wrestle and nut act like a freak. She applies a Ziggler-inspired sleeper that Kaitlyn breaks out of by driving AJ into the corner, only AJ uses the corner as leverage to kick Kaitlyn down again. Kaityln turns the tide with a dropkick to counter AJ running at her, hitting a shoulder block for a two count. AJ then tries a pretty sloppy crucifix pin, with Kaitlyn lifting her up to hit a gut buster. AJ tries to escape the ring to regroup but Kaityn holds her by her belt, eventually ripping it off (big pop). AJ then holds the apron to try escaping and eventually kicks Kaitlyn away. While the ref is occupied with fixing the apron (OCD?) AJ grabs the belt and tags Kaitlyn with a punch, but the champ kicks out on two. AJ loses her mind and screams, going to the top rope to try to finish Kaitlyn off with cross body, only Kaitlyn catches her in the air. She tries to swing her around but AJ applies the Black Widow out of nowhere (she’s really good at that) and we might get an ass grab! Sadly Kaitlyn wiggles out of it somehow and hits a back breaker, leading into a big spear. Kaitlyn was about to pin AJ but she stops to taunt her by blowing her a kiss. AJ then makes her pay by kicking out and hoping up on the top turnbuckle to make a now emotionally whacked out Kaitlyn hit her head on the ring post. AJ then rolls down on her to apply the Black Widow. Kaitlyn looks like she is going to escape again but AJ synchs it in and make Kaitlyn tap! Kaitlyn pisses off the world however by tapping AJ’s leg instead of her ass (although there was a good shot of it). This was easily the best Divas match in a long time, as it was very entertaining and could have gone either way, while adding emotional drama and a story to the whole thing. Kaitlyn then dropped to her knees and started crying on the stage, needing Layla to come out and talk her back up, leading to a big groan from the crowd. A sappy, Triple H like ending (he likes milking his exits) to a damn good match.

Diva's match of the last five years?
Diva’s match of the last five years?

Backstage all of the face Divas are trying to console Kaitlyn but it’s no use, as she storms off again in tears. Good grief. Get over it girl.

Big Show, R-Truth and Cody Rhodes joining Josh Matthews for analysis. I have no comments on it aside from checking in on where some people rank right now. Show is recovering from injury at least.

Unites States Championship on the line next as Dean Ambrose defends against Kane. Kane got left out as Orton and Bryan got a tag team title shot, so somehow that means he gets a singles title shot. Sure. Why not. The bigger news is the Shield loses for the first time as a group on Smackdown, when Daniel Bryan got Rollins to tap out. I don’t think it will amount to much but it does take a little wind out of their sails. The crowd is pro Ambrose as Kane controls things early and essentially dominates, hitting a back breaker and whipping him into the corner. Ambrose then turns on his inner Rocky and yells at Kane to hit him. Kane obliges but Dean comes back with a kick to the legs to bring down Kane and steal the momentum. Sometimes Ambrose moves around the ring like he just learned how to walk. So awkward but so twisted and awesome at the same time. Kane counters Ambrose his a back breaker and boot to the face, favoring his leg as he climes to the top rope. Ambrose meets him up there but gets beaten back down. Dean ducks under Kane’s  single axe handle and responds with a leaping elbow off the second rope. Ambrose the applies an inverted headlock and follows up with the most deliberately applied sleeper I’ve ever seen. Kane escapes and hits Ambrose with a jab to counter Dean attacking off the ropes. Ambrose avoids a chokeslam gets hit with a series of kicks. Dean attempts a sunset flip but avoids a chokeslam again to hit a dropkick into the ropes for a two count. Dean then climbs to the top rope to attempt Old School, only for Kane to pull him down and hit a sidewalk slam for a two count of his own. Kane hits the top rope single ace handle but Dean heads to the apron to avoid a chokeslam. Ambrose drops Kane’s throat onto top rope but Kane boots Ambrose off the apron to the outside floor. Outside the ring, Ambrose slaps Kane and laughs at him, waiting to get hit. Kane complies again and gets pissed, setting up the Spanish announce table to chokeslam Ambrose through it. Ambrose comes back to DDT Kane into the outside floor, getting back in the ring and winning via count out. Solid booking as Ambrose looked strong, smart and psychotic while Kane was solid in losing without getting pinned. That’s three straight good matches on this card.

A Rob Van Dam video! One of my all time favorite wrestlers is coming back to the WWE and will be making his return at Money in the Bank! I don’t even care what else in on the card now. Just take my money! Have you noticed how I am kind of into Dolph Ziggler? Well that was how I was about RVD from his early ECW days. He hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire lately, but this is still good news. He’ll be going into a hot crowd too as the PPV is in Philly, the home of ECW. Heyman has to be in his corner right?

In case you were wondering, Damien Sandow was solid but ultimately lost to Sheamus in what was had to be the most predictable match on the card.

The Salesman is back!
The Salesman is back!

Looks like we’ll have four straight good matches as YOUR World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler defends his title against Alberto Del Rio. Dolph missed over a month with a concussion and gets a huge pop from the crowd. Hot damn am I pumped. I have to think Ziggler is aching to come back with a flourish as he goes to the ring with Big E Langston and the new Divas champ, AJ. Lillian Garcia announced Ricardo Rodriguez in spanish, with Ricardo announcing Del Rio in english. What the hell is going on here? It’s like bizzarro world. Ziggler’s tights say “over,” and the crowd agrees  big time. Ziggler’s first move has him bounce off the ropes and slide out, brushing Alberto off with his hand to play the crowd, saying he’ll go when he’s ready. Dolph gets back in and gets hit with a back breaker, sending him rolling out of the ring again. Ziggler gets back in again and continues getting worked over by Alberto as the crowd is still buzzing about the return of RVD. Del Rio continues the attack with a back body drop and he is dominating right now. Ziggler looks like he’s out of it when he hits a standing dropkick out of nowhere for his first offensive move of the night. Ziggler runs at Del Rio in the corner and gets tossed over the top rope for his effort, selling the head injury like a boss. Del Rio starts bashing Dolph’s head into the announce table when Big E gets in between the two. He and Del Rio exchange shoves, leading to Langston getting throw out ringside. Ziggler takes advantage of the delay and attacks Del Rio, beating him back into the ring. Del Rio hits Dolph in the head with a side kick on Ziggler’s way back in and starts smashing his head into the mat. The story of the match is getting laid on pretty thick huh? Ziggler starts fighting back again but Del Rio keeps control, acting like a heel to Dolph’s underdog as he exploits the head injury. Dolph reverses a suplex to apply a sleeper but it gets broken up when Alberto sends Ziggler’s head into the turnbuckle, following up with a kick to the temple while he’s down. A backstabber only get a two count on Ziggler and this match is playing out a lot like the Triple H/Brock Lesnar cage match at Extreme Rules, where face Trips took advantage of heel Lesnar’s broken leg, making the heel the underdog. After all the blows to the head, Del Rio calls for the arm breaker of all things. Dolph slips out of it however and hits a neck breaker to get a Dolph chant going. Selling a head injury, Ziggler goes for a cross body that Alberto tries to counter into a tilt-a-wirl back breaker only for Dolph to back flip onto his feet and hit a very sloppy fame-asser for two. Dolph is left holding onto the refs leg, refusing the let the ref call the match. Ziggler then goes to the top rope where Del Rio meets him with another kick to the head, planting Dolph with an inverted suplerplex but Dolph still kicks out on two! Dolph rolls outside and while the ref is checking on him Del Rio kicks him in the head from the apron and now the emergency staff is taking a look at him. The ref is yelling at Alberto who is shaking off boos. Ziggler pushes away the medic in time to get a baseball slide to the head while AJ yells for him to stop. Ricardo yells back that he’s fine and we have a full on face/heel flip flop going. Del Rio hits an enziguri to the back of the head but again only gets a two count. A pissed off Del Rio keeps attacking the head and Dolph is left crawling up Alberto’s leg just to stand up. Del Rio gets a false sense of security and gives Dolph the opening to hit a Zig Zag to knock him out. Del Rio can’t make it over to cover however and Alberto hits a final kick to the head to win the World Heavyweight Championship. I’m surprised by every aspect of this match, and it ended up being really good. The crowd was into it the whole way and got more behind Ziggler with each shot. Now I’m just curious if AJ and Langston will follow him to facehood. AJ looked legit sad and worried for her man, which is odd considering what a psycho she is supposed to be. Del Rio milks the crowd in celebration as Dolph can’t even make it up the ramp on his own. This was appropriately immediately followed with a “don’t try this at home” message.

He even sells like a boss AFTER the match!
He even sells like a boss AFTER the match!

After the match, Del Rio got on the mic and asked the fans to cheer for him like he was still a face. As the crowd boos him, Del Rio says he has done everything for the fans and asks for their support. Plenty of heat for Del Rio as he keeps the celebration going. Dolph was great by the way, selling like a boss as always.

How else do you follow Dolph Ziggler than with CM Punk making his grand return against Chris Jericho. Jericho comes out first and milks the crowd as they chant for Punk. The pop isn’t crazy when the music (still Cult of Personality) hits but not good enough. Sporting Chicago Blackhawk themed gear, Punk comes out with Paul Heyman and is fired up. The match starts with shoving contest before Punk and Jericho do some solid mat wrestling. Jericho hits a shoulder block to a chorus a boos, followed by Punk hitting a dropkick for a big pop to start taking control. Punk starts working the arm as the crowd chants “Let’s go Blackhawks.” Punk goes for a jumping DDT in the corner but Jericho pushes him away and clotheslines him over the top rope, following up with a kick through the ropes. Chris then goes for a springboard kick but Punk counters by dropping Jericho onto the top rope. Punk then hits a line drive of a double axe handle off the top rope and keeps working the arm.  The pace is slow and the crowd is on their hands right now. They want to explode but just don’t have a reason to right now. Jericho tries to fight back but Punk gets a boot up in the corner and the announcers are saying he looks tired due to not being in the ring for so long. Punk then misses on a springboard clothesline and Jericho takes advantage with his signature moveset. He hits the running bulldog but misses the lionsault, leading to Punk hitting his patented neckbreaker for two. He follows with a high knee in the corner, taking the time to yell out “Vintage Punk!” at Cole before attempted a bulldog that Jericho escapes. Chris hits the lionsault this time but only gets two. He starts trash talking Punk and kicking him in the head, avoiding the GTS and applying the Boston Crab Walls of Jericho. Punk manages to roll back over however and pulls himself up to apply the Anaconda Vice. He brings Jericho to the ground with a leg sweep and secures the hold as Jericho flaps around seemingly helpless until he finally reaches the ropes with his feet. Punk calls for the GTS and yells “Blackhawks in 7,” before Jericho counters and tries to apply the Walls again. Heyman gets up on the apron, distracting Jericho long enough for Punk to get Jericho up for the GTS again. Punk then sees Heyman and gets distracted, allowed Jericho to slip away and roll up Punk to nearly win the match. Punk then levels the field with a roundhouse kick. Punk tries to get Jericho up but Chris hits a Codbreaker instead, but only gets a two count. Jericho keeps talking trash and beating down Punk, and it looks like we have another face/heel switcheroo. Punk hits a heel kick leading into a hight knee and hits the flying elbow. He hits a semi sloppy GTS (what’s up with that today?) and Jericho kicks out on two. Punk starts looking confused as the crowd chants for one more GTS. He agrees and attempts it, but Jericho fights him off and tries a Codebreaker which Punk pushes away. Punk then clotheslines Jericho over the top rope and follows up with a dive through the ropes. Back in the ring, Punk goes for a springboard clothesline but Jericho connects on a Codebreaker but still can only get two! This match started slow but is turning out as good as we all hoped. The crowd chants “this is awesome” as a frustrated Jericho pummels Punk as he gets heat from the crowd. Chris again goes for the Walls but Punk slips him into a small package for a two count and the are trading blows again. Punk attempts a hurricarrana but Jericho catches him in perfect position for the Walls. He walks him to the middle of the ring and locks it in. Punk fights the hold off with a flurry and hits, connecting on one GTS that send Jericho into the corner, then hitting a second one as Jericho stumbled back out to win yet another great match. These guys were both great as the seeds were planted for a Jericho heel turn and trouble between Punk and Heyman. The crowd goes nuts as Heyman runs in to congratulate Punk. That’s now three clean wins that Punk has over Jericho.

Move of the night
Move of the night

The greatness of this card continues as Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton challenge Rollins and Reigns for the tag team titles. The Shield come out immediately after Punk exits the stage but forget that. Daniel Bryan may have gotten a bigger ovation than CM Punk tonight.  Daniel starts against Roman by immediately going into his backflip routine only for Reigns to drop him with a clothesline. Bryan takes the beating through the early portion of the match until he hits a running clothesline on Reigns, leading to a hot tag to Orton who immediately hits his clothesline powerslam combo on Rollins, yet hits Reigns with the second rope DDT. He does eventually tag Seth with it as well however Rollins escapes the ring when Orton taunts the RKO. Randy leans over the ropes to get him when Roman tags him with a Superman Punch to take him down. The Shield regain control with Orton in, but the crowd is still buzzing over RVD. Meanwhile Randy is getting toe dragged into the second turnbuckle by Rollins. In the corner, Orton gets a boot up on Rollins who was irish whipped at him, then dodges Reigns to cause his shoulder to hit the lost. Randy then tries to fisherman’s suplex Seth into Roman, but falls a foot short which was probably a lot more dangerous. This allows Bryan to get the hot tag and oh man is it hot. He hits them both at the same time with a missal dropkick and jumps back up to hit each one twice in the corner with running dropkicks. He focuses on Reigns, the legal man, with a flurry of kicks. He misses on the first roundhouse but throws out a second for a two count. Bryan then pulls down the rope to send Roman out of the ring and hurls Seth over the top rope with him. Bryan then tries to leap through the ropes at them but hits Orton instead. The Shield take advantage of the distraction to take down Bryan and try to regain control. Instead, Bryan escapes Reigns to send him into the corner and out of the ring with another running dropkick, then a hammerlock superplex! Bryan tries to apply the NO Lock on Rollins but has to get up to beat Reigns back off the apron. Rollins then tries to roll up Bryan but ends up getting put into the NO Lock. Reigns breaks it up and avoids getting an RKO from Orton by pushing him into Daniel. Randy then moves to he side leaving Bryan to be blindsided with a spear by Reigns. Orton then RKO’s Roman but gets beat out of the ring by Rollins. Seth then hits a leaping stomp ontp Bryan’s head to win the match and retain the tag titles. Guess what? Another amazing match from this group of guys, especially Bryan. I have to think one either Orton or Bryan are going heel soon.

After all those great matches, it’s now time for the main event Three Stages of Hell match (AKA 2 out of 3 falls with stips) between John Cena and Ryback for the WWE Championship. The guys are going to be trusted with roughly a third of the show and this could go really wrong, really fast. The first fall is under Lumberjack rules, and despite doing it for the last month, Ryback did not come out in the ambulance. Rip off. The match starts off with Ryback beating back Cena in the corner, then countering a Cena bulldog attempt with a power slam. The match is playing out like a lightweight versus a bruiser match would go, as Cena delivers a flurry of moves to stagger Ryback only to be beaten back with one big power move by Ryback. Cena tries an AA but Ryback reverses it into a jaw breaker. So far the lumberjacks have come into play three time, as Cena has been thrown to the heel side each time for a little extra beating. Cena then throws Ryback to the same side but the Lumberjacks all back off. He gets back in and Cena goes for the five moves of doom to absolutely no crowd reaction. Ryback gets up on the five knuckle shuffle attempt and throws Cena on top of all the faces. Cena then gets in and throws Ryback over the top rope, and after the heels initialy back off, Ryback pushes one and all hell breaks loose. All the lumberjacks fight Ryback and eachother and Cena splashes on all of them from the top rope. Back in the ring, Cena applie the STF on Ryback but  Ryback powers out of it to hit Shell Shock and win the first fall (no shock there). Aside from the splash onto the entire WWE roster there wasn’t much to fuss over in that one.

This stage dive was one of two hight points of the main event
This stage dive was one of two hight points of the main event

So now all the lumberjacks take off and we’re on to the tables match. As soon as the bell rings, Ryback spears Cena into the corner and brings out a table. He goes for a powerbomb but Cena reverses and attempts an AA, only for Ryback to escapes and drop John with a shoulder tackle. Ryback looks to gorilla press Cena into the table but Cena reverses and again goes for the AA but Ryback tosses the table over so that Cena can’t put him through it. Ryback rolls out of the ring and Cena goes after him, getting whipped into the steps for his troubles. Ryback throws the steps in the ring and Cena after it, proceeding to clock Cena with steps to the face. Cena dodges the second attempt as Ryback throws the steps through the table. Cena hits a belly to belly suplex uses the steps as a weapon himself, knocking out Ryback. John brings another table in the ring and props it up, but Ryback sneaks up behind him and knocks him onto the table with the steps. Cena then dodges the steps again as Ryback destroys another table with them. Ryback then misses John again as he throws the steps out of the ring, and Cena hits the five knuckle shuffle but falls to a spinebuster. Ryback hits the meathook clothesline and brings another table into the ring. He sets it up and attempts to Shell Shock Cena though it, but Cena escapes and hits an AA out of desperation through the table to win the fall. Better than the first fall, but it still doesn’t have the crowd going nuts or anything.

So we’re onto the third fall, the dreaded ambulance match. These matches drive me nuts because they end up out of the ring for the entire time just throwing people into things. Ryback gets up almost immediately after getting put through the table, pissed that he just lost fall. He attacks Cena and bring him to the outside, power bombing him through the announce table. Ryback then told Cena that “it only gets worse” and brings him back into the ring so that the final match can officially start. The bell rings and Ryback immediately carries him to the ambulance, but Cena wiggles off again and pushes Ryback into the back of the ambulance. Cena then pulls a Mr. Miyagi, moving to the side as Ryback punches through the window of the ambulance. Ryback fights Cena off and tries whipping him through the door, only Cena reverses it and puts Ryack through it instead. This is exactly what I hate about these gimmick matches. Each moves is essentially “throw the other guy into the car.” Cena then reverses the formula by hitting Ryback WITH the car door instead of the other way around. Ryback then rips a piece of the fender off the ambulance and beats Cena with it. Crowd sound dead as Ryback looks to power bomb Cena onto the hood, but Cena lifts Ryback onto it instead. Looks more like a roll though. John then decides to try climbing to the top of the ambulance and the crowd is Fandango’ing to try to entertain themselves. Ryback chases him with a crutch, but Cena gets the crutch and beats him with it, and then hits an Attitude Adjustment to send Ryback through the top of the Ambulance to get him into it and win the match. Okay that part was cool. The rest of the Ambulance match was completely boring though.

Finale aside, I thought this PPV was fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed every match except for the last one, and that includes the Divas match. This main event was just very predictable to me and things can only get so good when you have to rely on gimmicks to sell a match. These guys needed three gimmicks so what does that tell you?

I prefer to look back on this show as a night when a bunch of guys seemed to change from heel to face or vice versa, with none of the changes revolving around Daniel Bryan or Randy Orton.

Oh yeah, and ROB-VAN-DAM !

Vince Screws Triple H, Ziggler Speaks And Kaitlyn Cries On Raw

RAW_1046_Photo_010Payback is one week away and still no sign of CM Punk or Dolph Ziggler. John Cena and Ryback are spinning wheels trying to promote a Three Stages of Hell match (which means two more matches between Cena and Ryback that I don’t want to see), and Daniel Bryan has no match despite turning into the greatest wrestler of all time last week.

Meanwhile, the majority of the last two weeks have been devoted to Triple H, who was not allowed to wrestle last week by Vince and Stephanie McMahon, stemming concussion symptoms that he had a couple of weeks earlier. He tried to show he wore the pants in the family (even though he doesn’t wear pants in the ring and his wife wear pants suits) by demanding that he wrestle this week against Curtis Axel. I should also note that right now neither man has a match at Payback, sooooo there’s that.

Triple H and Axel are set to kick off the show, with Curtis sporting new ring gear that is a little more inspired by his dad Mr Perfect. It’s not a singlet, but it’s a nice nod. Axel has been booked horribly since his debut, being made to look like a fool by Hunter and getting his finishers kicked out of by Cena, but he has still looked pretty good in the ring. Triple H starts the match aggressively by beating Axel into the corner, needing the ref to move him away twice before HHH hit a suplex. All of a sudden Vince McMahon’s music hits and Vince strolls down the ramp. He has the bell rung in the middle of the match and has the match ended as a result of a DQ, giving the win to Axel. McMahon then walks back up with a big fat grin while Triple H yells at him from the ring and Heyman and Axel laugh it up. Triple H then uses his power in the company to restart the match and away we go again. This is getting good. Triple H again gets Axel in a chin lock as Vince comes out for a second time. Triple H continues controlling the match as Vince again has the match rewarded to Axel via forfeit. So now Triple H again has the match restarted as a 60 minute iron man match and rings the bell himself. Vince now goes back to the ring, ordering Axel and Heyman to leave, taking the ring bell and the mic with him so Triple H can’t restart the match again. Trips is seething and as far as a non match goes, that was pretty good stuff.

Backstage Triple H is bitching about what just happened to Stephanie, saying that this was crossing the line and he was all embarrassed and whatnot. Stephanie is just trying to stop Trips from hurting him, bringing up how Vince is the grandfather to their kids and how he plays with them in a pool (AWWWWW). Triple H agrees not to hurt him, but tells Steph to go talk to him. This will likely be the story for the entire show.

Kane ringside without Daniel Bryan to take on Dean Ambrose. Kane and Bryan had an argument on Smackdown about Bryan being the weak link and not thinking Kane has his back. Kane meanwhile is tired of his crap and walked out on him. Ambrose came out with the rest of the Shield and stopped at the top of the entrance in the stands, right next to a kid who was screaming with tears while being held up by his mommy. Rollins and Reigns left Ambrose on his own for the match though (which started with no bell), with the two men trading blow early before Kane gained control on a big boot and a back breaker. Kane keeps the momentum with big irish whips in the corner and back breakers, as “Let’s go Ambrose” chants come from the crowd (and a ref brings the bell back). Somehow Dean gained control during the break, tying Kane into the ropes to deliver a running dropkick as Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton watch backstage (THANKS WWE APP!). Ambrose goes to the top rope when Kane grabs his neck, tossing him off the top after Dean initially avoided a choke slam. Kane’s comeback continues with a tilt-a-wirl backbreaker (stealing moves from Del Rio) for a two count. Kane then blocks a sunset flip and tosses Kane into the corners before hitting a sidewalk slam. Kane now goes to the top but Ambrose meets him up there to try a superplex. Kane pushes him down and hits the one handed axe handle. He sets up for a chokeslam when Rollins and Reigns come out to attack Kane, ending the match on a DQ. Bryan and Orton come out to help Kane (good thing they were watching), cleaning house. The Shield retreats as the faces stare at each other like long lost loves.

What's with the ref's face?
What’s with the ref’s face?

Meanwhile, it has been announced that Damien Sandow will face Sheamus on the Payback preshow. Big step down for Sheamus right? No way Sandow wins right?

As for tonight’s card, Daniel Bryan will have a match against Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns. YOU get to decide who (THANKS WWE APP!)!

We don’t have to wait long to find out who won the vote as Lawler announces after the following break that 66% of the WWE Universe wanted Seth Rollins. That means that Randy Orton will face Roman Reigns. These six guys have basically been facing each other for months. Backstage Daniel and Randy are still arguing about how Orton RKO’d Bryan because he thought Daniel dropkicked him on purpose (looked like Ambrose just got out of the way), and Kane gets to play the sensible one, trying to stop the fighting. Bryan says Orton has a dumb haircut and stupid tattoos when Vickie Guerrero steps in (remember her?) to announce that Bryan and Orton have match together at Payback against Rollins and Reigns for the Tag Team Championships (so that’s interesting). They continue to argue as they storm off, leaving Kane alone to try figuring out what happened. Guerrero then adds than Kane with have a Unites States title shot against Dean Ambrose, causing the sweating red menace to give Vickie a big gross hug. Lovely.

Back in the ring, the Miz is squaring off against Cody Rhodes. Miz was supposed to be involved in a triple threat match with Fandango for Wade Barrett’s Intercontinental Championship, but apparently Dango suffered a concussion last week, meaning that now Miz will challenge Barrett one-on-one. I hadn’t heard anything about this injury until just now, so I’m curious what the deal is here. Also, what’s up with the head injuries lately? Real ones, fake ones. Do they need to wear helmets in the ring? Miz starts off fast with knee lift and a running clothesline in the corner. Miz then tweaks his knee missing on a double axe handle off the top rope, with Cody taking advantage by working the knee. Miz then spins out of an attempted atomic knee drop to apply the figure four while staring down Barrett, winning the match by submission. Wade heads into the ring to attack Miz when suddenly Paul Heyman takes the stage in order to inform them that Curtis Axel will be replacing Fandango in what will still be a triple threat match. Heyman flaunts Curtis’ wins over Jericho, Cena and Triple H as Axel says that “the perfect ending” to the match will be with him winning the IC belt. So now he’s even talking like his dad. It would be interesting if Axel won the belt that his dad was so famous for, but it would effectively take him out of the main event picture (ironically spending a lot of time on Main Event). Barrett, on the other hand, is overdue to get back into the main event picture. Maybe it would be best for Miz to win this one.

Backstage, Vince McMahon is turning his back to Stephanie, who is trying to tell him how messed up Vince was to embarrass Triple H. Vince turns it into a whole business first thing. Saying you always make the decisions that are best for business. Wait, wouldn’t Triple H in the ring be best for business? While keeping him out of the ring is best for family? I’m confused now. Anyway Vince says it’s best if Stephanie keeps Triple H away from him, and walks off. Very weird.

Chris Jericho to the ring to cut a promo leading into his match against CM Punk. He says that no one takes him to the limit like Punk (including Cena, Austin, Rock and Triple H), and that is because he truly believes he in the best in the world, which is exactly what Jericho thinks of himself. Jericho goes through the similarities between the two of them, saying that Punk will get Jerichos best at Payback because he has to win after losing the first to times. Jericho is just about to wrap it up when DOLPH ZIGGLER SHOWS UP! Ziggy says that talking about the best in the world is a perfect time to make his return. He then cuts a promo about how much better he is than Alberto Del Rio in every way. In the ring, on the mic and so on. Jericho then cuts him off by yelling “BLAH BLAH BLAH” at him, saying that he is looking ahead to Sunday without mentioning Monday (which is what Jericho was doing just now). Chris says Dolph should get rid of his ring rust in a match right now. Instead, Dolph has Big E Langston face him instead. So obviously, Ziggler is being saved for Payback, assuring that he is as healthy as possible for his return. As long as he has a match booked at some point I’m good.

Good to see the band back together
Good to see the band back together

Langston has control of the match early, battering Chris outside the ring as Jericho sells a leg injury. Big E then applies a shoulder lock for some reason, and exits the ring as Jericho dodges him by the ropes. Jericho then hits a dropkick through the ropes to continue the offense on the outside. Langston regains momentum by throwing Jericho into the steel steps. Jericho dodges Langston in the corner, causing Big E’s shoulder to hit the post and get rolled up for a two count. Langston takes control again immediately with a big shoulder. Chris then fights back with some chops and an enziguri that finally takes him down. Langston then catches Jericho on a cross body attempt, hitting repeated back breakers for a two count. Jericho then gets a boot up on Big E running into the corner and hits a cross body splash for two. At this point Ziggler gets on the apron, distracting Jericho long enough to get taken out by Big E. Langston taunts the Big Ending when Del Rio runs out and attacks Dolph. Langston now gets distracted, giving Jericho the opening to hit the Code Breaker and take the match. Alberto runs off and Ziggler officially has opposite momentum status in his favor.

A pretty decent match is followed by a Sin Cara match, which negates the chance to have consecutive good matches, even if it is against Antonio Cesaro. Zeb Colter is ringside for the match, complaining about Sin Cara for being Mexican. We finally get a reason to why Colter has no issue with Cesaro. Cesaro apparently entered the US legally, following all appropriate protocol, while the likes of Sin Cara wears a mask while sneaking into the country so no one can see his face. Okay, point taken. Glad we got that settled. He even states that Antonio is a great wrestler as he controls the middle of the match. Jack Swagger is out with an injury, but Colter says he will not be silenced by Jack not being in the ring. Great, will still get Colter jabber. Out of nowhere Cesaro pulls some luchador moves that I can’t describe and suddenly he has some momentum. Cara then tries a splash off the top rope, but Cesaro catches him and hits a back breaker and follows it up with the Neutralizer. The match ends with Michael Cole not understanding that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States. It was about as watchable of a Sin Cara match as you’re going to get as Cesaro was his usual excellent self.

Hey do you like Hardee’s? Vickie and Brad Maddox do! Vickie is pigging out and not letting Maddox eat any, while Vince McMahon comes up from behind her. Guerrero chokes on her burger. Vince reprimands Vickie for licking her fingers (“but it’s so good”) and for having a face-to-face between Cena and Ryback, worrying that they could hurt each other if they “got into it.” Guerrero says she’ll cancel the match (what match?). Vince says the match has been promised so it can’t be cancelled (again, what match and why can’t she cancel it?), saying that if she thought instead of ate she could figure it out. Brad then suggests that the lumberjacks for the Payback match come out to keep them from tearing each other apart and put focus on the Three Stages of Hell match. Vince likes the idea and tells Vickie she should share her burger. Good god was that a chore to watch.

Randy Orton out to the ring for his match against Roman Reigns. Daniel Bryan comes out to be in Randy’s corner while Seth is in Roman’s. Reigns and Orton exchange blows in the corner until Orton hits a standing dropkick and goes into the Garvin stomp and a jumping knee drop. Randy continues the beating outside with a back body drop onto the barrier. More stomping in the ring but Reigns moves away from the jumping knee to turn the tide. Roman methodically lands some punches but falls to a Lou Thesz press and gets 10 punches in the corner from Orton. Randy then gets shoved off the opposite top turnbuckle, sending him to the outside. Roman keeps the momentum back in the ring, holding Orton down with a chin lock, proceeding to drop Randy onto the top rope and hitting him with a jumping forearm for a two count. Orton starts his comeback with a back body drop out of a chin lock, ducking away from Reigns running into the corner and going into his signature movies. Clotheslines, power slam, inverted back breaker, second rope DDT and Orton is ready for the RKO. Rollins runs over to Bryan to take him out however, then running into the ring to take out Orton. Randy hurls Seth over the second rope and tries to hit him with the DDT but Roman pulls him down to the floor. Bryan then runs in the ring and, with Randy’s support, jumps through the ropes into the Shield. Bryan gets the crowd pumped up but the ref ends the match on a no contest. Really? Technically it should have ended after Seth went after Orton in the ring. Anyway a pretty good match ends with a non finish and immediately goes into Bryan versus Rollins.

This match really had everything
This match really had everything

And I mean immediately. No commercial or anything. They announce the result, Orton and Reigns go outside to their respective corners and the bell rings for Bryan and Rollins. I’m gonna call this the match of the night before it even starts. Rollins starts off beating Bryan into the corner, immediately going into Daniel doing his backflip off the turnbuckle into a clothesline and hitting a hight knee. Bryan then went into a flurry of kicks and elbows. Bryan attempts the mexican surfboard but Seth reaches the rope to avoid it. Bryan responds by drop kicking Rollins out of the ring and hitting a running knee off the apron. The match is all Bryan until Rollins hits a leg sweep putting Daniel into the turnbuckle. Now it’s Rollins attempting a surfboard on Bryan, stands up out of it and locks the move in himself. Bryan then modifies the hold by grabbing Seth’s head and pulling him down into a headlock while maintaining the hold on the legs. That’s ROH Bryan. Back from break, Rollins is in control, taking Bryan own with a jumping forearm. Bryan then fights out of a chin lock, and ducks an enziguri to apply a leg lock that is broken when Seth reaches the ropes. Bryan follows with a pair of running dropkicks in the corner. Bryan then misses a roundhouse kick, this time getting tagged with an enziguri by Rollins. Seth again starts taunting Bryan, delivering the kicks to the mid section. Rollins then goes for a German suplex but Bryan does a back flip and looks like he’s going for a Rough Ryder but Rollins catches him, throwing Daniel into the corner for a two count. Leaning on the ropes, Bryan ducks under Rollins and sends him over the top rope to the outside floor. Bryan went to jump through the ropes by Seth counters with a jumping forearm to send him back. Rollins goes to the top rope but Bryan moves under it, rollins Seth over and tagging him with a roundhouse kick for a two count. Bryan, now with a bloody mouth, goes to the top rope but Rollins knocks him down. Seth looks to be attempting a suplerplex but Bryan slides under him and goes for a super side suplex, but Rollins rolls onto Bryan to give Daniel the brunt of the fall. Fantastic match. With both men in opposite corners, Reigns jumps on the apron toward Bryan but Orton sneaks up behind him and takes his legs out from under him (what a supportive partner). Bryan then dodges a diving Rollins in the corner and applies a small package to win the match. Outstanding stuff. The crowd is going nuts as Rollins tries to attack Bryan from behind. Daniel hits a roundhouse kick however, leading Seth directly into an RKO from Orton. So the Shield loses clean as Bryan and Orton are on the same page. The Shield is definitely winning this Sunday and Orton will probably be facing Bryan at the next PPV.

Soo many great photos
Soo many great photos

Once again the match of the night is followed up with a fantastic segment, as we find out who Kaitlyn’s secret admirer is! Is the sarcasm laid on thick enough? Well if you follow him on twitter then you won’t be surprised to find out that it’s Big E Langston. He comes out dressed up with flowers for Kaitlyn, who seems totally creeped out. Langston grabs the mic, sounding completely out of character to say that while people only think he likes beating people up, he cares about her. Kaitlyn is still apprehensive as Big E tells Kaitlyn that she is it for him and grabs her. Kaitlyn starts to get into it when he dips her like he was gonna plant a big ol’ kiss, but instead Langston drops her like a bad habit (there goes that face turn). Out comes AJ to talk about how she punked her so Kaitlyn would feel abandoned like AJ felt went Kaitlyn abandoned her. Need further explanation? Good, because AJ was happy to talk about how men have been hurting and using her for the last year while her “best friend” was busy chasing the Divas title, so now she’s hurting her back. Kaitlyn calls AJ crazy, but AJ says that she is smart. AJ says Kaitlyn can beat her in the ring, but AJ can beat her in her mind. She essentially calls her lonely pathetic trash and makes her cry, saying the only think Kaitlyn has is her title, and AJ is going to take it from her on Sunday. AJ tells Kaitlyn she’s going to go back to the trailer park she came from and use her man arms (yeah, she said that) to eat her emotions like a useless cow, and the cow comment sets Kaitlyn off, as she slaps AJ they roll on the floor for a bit before AJ escapes the ring and blows a kiss at the emotionally distraught Divas champ. Say what you want about the angle and how cheesy it was, but AJ was really good during that segment. She took a dead segment and got the crowd into it. She did it without an ass grab black window.

STINK FACE!
STINK FACE!

Back to wrestling as Damien Sandow takes on R-Truth. Truth starts off by dancing and Sandow counters by attacking Truth and chucking him out of the ring. Sandow runs Truth into the apron and covers his face with it to continue his assault. Damien hits the elbow of disdain for two but Truth comes back with a spinning kick and reverse suplex for two of his own. Looks like Sandow has a new finisher, as he uses the Silencer (a modified Rock Bottom) to win the match. Sheamus comes out to spoil the celebration and cut a promo about how he’s going to kick off Payback by kicking off his head. Classic brute.

Backstage, Stephanie McMahon is sending different people to find Triple H and Vince, telling them to meet Steph in her office and that it is urgent. This is the old sitcom plan of having two friends that are in a fight go to a location expecting to see one person (or have the other friend apologize) but instead are put into a room with each other to face their differences. So they start to argue when Stephanie yells at both of them, saying she is tired of it all and orders them to work it out. Basically she is the alpha dog in this scenario. Vince starts telling Triple H that regardless of how good Axel definitely is that he is bigger than that or any other match. He says Triple H is a legend and has accomplished everything in the ring, but Vince wants him to be more than that. He wants Triple H to be the man that can make the right decision every time, making decisions that are bigger than a match with Curtis Axel. Triple H says he understands why he did what he did (good, because I still don’t), and to show that he’s the bigger man, Vince agrees to grant him a match next week against Axel. Triple H then declines, saying that he doesn’t need it. So now Vince is saying he’d like to see that match but Trips keeps refusing. It’s like a Bugs and Daffy routine (it’s RABBIT SEASON!). So now they are arguing about that when Stephanie comes back in to have them hug it out. They refuse to hug each other (Vince says he won’t hug another man) so Steph has Vince hug her, making Triple H annoyed because he’s not good enough to be hugged (now it’s a Kane/Bryan routine). The whole thing ends with an awkward group hug and I have no idea what’s going on. Is there a match next week or not?

Time for John Cena and Ryback to talk to each other while a bunch of wrestlers watch from outside the ring. Ryback has incorporated the ambulance as a full part of the entrance, bursting out of the back with his music playing and all that. Ryback gets to the middle of the ramps when he decides to back up and talk from the stage instead. Cena says he wants Ryback to face him in the ring. Cena then takes the opportunity to explain what a lumberjack match is. Cena starts to talk about how Ryback can definitely hurt people, but he doesn’t deserve to be WWE Champion. Then Ryback is all, “I do deserve to be WWE Champion.” He says he should have been the champ three times over (true), getting robbed by the Shield repeatedly. Cena mentions that he gave Ryback his title shot at Hell in a Cell, which Ryback says is when the problem started. He says he got too good too fast and started taking Cena’s fans, so Cena went into damage control by leaving him to get beaten around by the Shield. Cena gets pissed about Ryback making excuses and that nobody wins the belt needing a guardian angel watching out for him. He just yells everything he says. It must suck being a lumberjack right now. They are just standing around during all this. Ryback counters by saying that he is going to win by winning the lumberjack match, then putting him through a table and putting him in an ambulance (technically if he wins the first two falls he wouldn’t have to put him in an ambulance). Cena does what he and all faces tend to do, and tries to fight now instead of at the scheduled time. The lumberjacks do their job and keep Cena from getting to Ryback. Ryback then runs into the ring and immediately exits as Cena lowers the rope on him. The face lumberjacks then throw Ryback back into the ring (proving once again than heels are better at following rules) and the show ends with the lumberjacks trying to separate the two main eventers.

Regal is trying way to hard to restrain empathetic Cena
Regal is trying way to hard to restrain empathetic Cena

The crowd just wasn’t that into it and it’s hard to blame them. It sounds like this match is going to be 40 minutes long. I can’t take it. Maybe during the lumberjack match, Cena can throw Ryback through a table into an ambulance and pin him to win all three matches at once. I’ll watch because of Punk and Ziggler coming back (they better anyway). I just wish so much attention wasn’t given to Cena, Ryback and the saga of Triple H really needing to retire for the good of everyone.

Ziggler Still Out As Daniel Bryan Steals the Show On Raw

RAW_1045_Photo_141So Mark Henry is getting grief backstage about taking time off for an injury, Big E replacing Henry as giant black man turning face, Kofi is out for a couple of months with surgery, the Wyatt family are making waves and Bret Hart is apologizing for gay remarks. Blah blah blah blah blah. DOLPH ZIGGLER IS CLOSE TO RETURNING AND THE REST OF THE WORLD SPINS AROUND HIM.

No he isn’t ready to get back in the ring yet but just having him appear at house shows is a good sign. Coming off a concussion, you never know what to expect an thankfully he appears ready to get back to rasslin’ in time for Payback. The only thing I will miss were his Raw live tweeting, which put every blogger (especially me) to shame and was most likely shut down by the WWE after that one show.

Enough kissing Dolph’s ass (for now). Tonight’s show kicks off with Stephanie McMahon of all people. She announces that even though Triple H was medically cleared to compete, she is making the executive decision to pull him from his match tonight against Curtis Axel. She asks the crowd to not be so selfish as she is doing it for her family, and thinks Axel is beneath him anyway. The boos turn to a big ol’ pop as Vince McMahon struts into the ring. His hair is starting to look the way it did before he shaved his head. The pop doesn’t last long as he asks the crowd not to boo Stephanie, agreeing that for the sake of the family, Triple H will not compete. The crowd keeps chanting for Trips and Vince gets annoyed, saying that the crowd wants too much. He brings up how when Ryback put Kofi through a table on Smackdown the crowd chanted “one more time,” and continued after getting put through two more tables. Vince says that there won’t be “one more time” for Triple H. This is as close as we’ve gotten to heel Vince in a while and I love it. To add to the drama, the Shield makes their way to the ring!

McMahon and McWoMahon
McMahon and McWoMahon

Sadly this would be a fake out as they were just coming out for their match against Kane, Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton. This is a payoff from the end of Smackdown where Bryan went nuts on the Shield, essentially taking them out by himself. It was pretty awesome and I recommend checking it out (right now). Bryan starts against Ambrose and continues dominating. He tags Kane in who starts to take lumps but then Bryan gets back in and restores order for the faces. Back in again, Kane hits a sidewalk slam and goes to the top rope, but Reigns distracts him long enough for Rollins to dropkick him down. Kane is currently being booked as the weak link! Kane then botched an attempted to suplex Ambrose and Rollins, but got it the second time and tagged in Orton who hit a pair of power slams and hit a second rope DDT on Ambrose and Rollins at the same time. He went for it on Reigns as well but Seth hit him from behind and gave control back to the Sheild. Ambrose started yelling “you like that?” as he stomped Randy. Real molesty. The Shield continues to work over Orton for an extended period of time until he hit a side suplex on Roman and tagged Rollins with a dropkick as Seth was jumping off the top rope, getting Bryan in with the hot tag. Bryan back flipped over Ambrose and dropped him with a flurry of kicks, then flinging Rollins onto him with a hurricarrana from the top rope. Bryan then jumped through the top ropes to take out Reigns and went back to the top rope to hit a missel dropkick on Ambrose, but Dean kicked out on two and the crowd is going nuts. Bryan applies the NO Lock on Ambrose but Rollins breaks it up. Kane then tries to choke slam Rollins and Reigns but Seth hits him with an enziguri and Reigns spears Kane out of the ring. Orton sneaks up behind Rollins and gives him an RKO, but when he tries the same on Reigns, Roman pushes Randy into Bryan, giving Ambrose the opening to hit his reverse DDT and win the match for the Shield. Fantastic match. Once again everyone looked great and once again Daniel Bryan stole the show. Extra to the Shield too (especially Ambrose) for selling like a boss for Bryan. Daniel looks mental after the loss.

Bryan is back in a big way
Bryan is back in a big way

Backstage Bryan is still calling himself the weak link while Orton and Kane have to convince him otherwise. Daniel says he doesn’t have either man’s respect and that he needs to have another match to beat the respect out of somebody. Meanwhile Triple H is walking around with his bag in search of Vince’s office. He’s annoyed at Stephanie and Vince for removing him from the match, and Triple H demands to be allowed to wrestle. After earlier saying Axel was beneath him, now Vince is saying this kid is “good.” Vince says Triple H’s ego is getting in the way of his brain. Triple H says he is going to wrestle. Vince again says he’s not, and Trips says “who is going to stop me.” Vince gets pissed and Stephanie gets in the middle of them. Vince tells Trips not to do something he’ll regret and walks out (of his own office?). Drama picking up in the Helmsley/McMahon family.

The Usos in the house! They are taking on the Prime Time Players in an all mid card tag match with two real tag teams. Can’t think of the last time I saw that. Titus and Darren control things from the start of the match, until Titus misses while running into the corner, allowing an Uso to hot tag the other Uso, who hit a Rakishi splash on Young in the corner, only to have the pin broken up by O’Neil. Young and O’Neil each get hit with superkicks, and the Uso’s get the win on a Superfly Splash. Quick but solid match that builds up the Uso’s. Something that has not been done in a while.

Alberto Del Rio and Big E Langston out to the ring next for what seems like the 80th straight time. They are booking it as the rubber match and the fifth time they are facing each other, with Del Rio winning last week on Raw due to interference from AJ backfiring, and Langston winning on Smackdown due to AJ interference not backfiring. This match starts with Del Rio dropkicking Big E and clotheslining him out of the ring, but missing on the leap through the ropes and getting battered with a shoulder to give Big E the momentum. At this point Cole announces that Ziggler is watching at home due to the concussion and I am crushed. Meanwhile Big E catches Alberto in the air going for a top rope cross body splash, and drops a couple of back breakers as a “we want Ziggler” chant pours in from the crowd. Couldn’t agree more. Del Rio goes for an arm breaker but Langston pushes him away, only to get tagged with a side kick to the head. Del Rio then applies the cross arm breaker that Big E rolls out of, but Alberto hits a German suplex and applies the hold again. Langston looks like he is going to roll out of it again but Del Rio hooks the leg and wins the match via pinfall. A fairly dull match but I really like the pin (aside from Langston showing WAY too much cheek). Del Rio leaves the ring and we get no Ziggler. What the hell is going on?

Sheamus up next against Cody Rhodes who has Damien Sandow in his corner. Sandow has been hosting mind games on Smackdown, with Sheamus coming out and not winning, but Brogue Kicking Sandow because he can’t outsmart Damien. Sheamus starts off strong but Cody avoids getting battered outside the ring, getting Sheamus caught around the turnbuckle and hitting him with multiple kicks and knees to the head. Sheamus powers out of a chin lock by hurling Rhodes across the ring and hits a flying shoulder off the top rope. Cody escapes White Noise and then dodges a Brogue Kick to lead into a neck breaker. Cody then attempts Cross Rhodes but Sheamus tosses him over his shoulder. Rhodes then goes to the top rope for a moonsault but Sheamus rolls away, causing Cody to land on his face. Sheamus hits White Noise and the Brogue Kick to take the win in an entertaining match. Sandow’s commentary during the match didn’t hurt it either. After the match, Sheamus goes to Sandow offering to shake his hand, Sandow pushes it away twice (maybe because he keeps kicking him the head) so Sheamus punches him in the face. What a guy.

Sandow; "Kindly leave." Sheamus; "FELLAAAAA" PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH
Sandow; “Kindly leave.” Sheamus; “FELLAAAAA” PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH

Backstage, Daniel Bryan is storming around kicking over stuff (has he been doing this the whole time? It’s been like half an hour) when he runs into Ryback. Ryback tells him to watch what he’s doing, and Bryan is all “or what? you’ll put me through three tables like Kofi?” Ryback tells Bryan that he had a stomach virus last year and his throw up is bigger than Bryan (why did he have to mention the virus? he’s so gross). Daniel says he isn’t afraid of Ryback, and they agree to have a match. Ryback calls Bryan the weak link, saying that after the match he’ll be the missing link (oooooh).

Somewhere else backstage, Vince finds Heyman and Axel to inform them that Triple H won’t be competing this week or next week (after telling Curtis how great he is of course). Paul is fine with that and starts to walk off when Vince tells him that Axel will be facing Cena tonight. Heyman is fine with that too since he beat Cena via count out last week. McMahon adds one last stipulation, stating that it will be a no DQ match. So this will be the first Axel match on Raw to have a real finish.

The Great(?) Khali along with Natalya and Hornswaggle (the only trio worse than 3MB) out next for a match against Fandango with Summer Rae, and Fandango had his entrance skipped. What? That’s the only good thing about him! It’s all Khali early with chops and elbows and, well that’s all Khali can do really. He even imitates Fandango dancing before Fandango starts to retreat to the back. The Miz comes out to makes ‘Dango go back in the ring but Wade Barrett comes up from behind Miz and hits him with a Bull Hammer elbow. The IC champ is out to intimidate both Miz and Fandango, who are both gunning for his gold. So even though the bell never rang, Khali wins via count out. Dare I say the booking for perfect for Khali? Naver had to bend down for a pin attempt.

The is followed by the Barrett taking on the Miz who is competing despite getting hit in the face once with an elbow. “Let’s go Barrett” chants from the crowd as Wade starts off in control, only giving ground when Miz drops the rope on Barrett running at him to send Wade out of the ring. Back in the ring, Barrett stops Miz from climbing the top rope but misses on a knee in the turnbuckle. Miz tries to capitalize with a figure four but Barrett hits the Winds of Change. All of a sudden Fandango comes out and dancing with Summer Rae (so we get his entrance after all), gesturing for Barrett to come to him even though it looks like he is grabbing Summer’s boob. Miz takes advantage of the distracted Barrett to apply the figure four and win the match. So now Barrett is pissed at Fandango, Miz is pissed at Barrett, and nobody cares about Miz.

Backstage, Triple H has decided to leave the arena so that he doesn’t punch Vince in the face. He also tells Stephanie to tell him that he is definitely facing Axel next week on Raw. So we’ll see how that goes.

Legal briefs (get it?)
Legal briefs (get it?)

Back in the ring, Jerry Lawler introduces Chris Jericho to sign the contract for his match against CM Punk. Punk is of course represented by Paul Heyman. Heyman mentions that they could have signed the contract in the back but we just had to feed Jericho’s ego, then goes into trash talking about how Punk will win when Jericho cuts him off and says all he cares about is Heyman delivering Punk at Payback. Heyman signs and gives the contract to Chris, but before he signs he asks Jericho if he is ready to face CM Punk in his home town where he is beloved. Jericho asks Heyman if the match can be at Summerslam or Madison Sqaure Garden or even Hartford, to which Heyman declines. Jericho signs the contract and says that when you act like a jackass like Punk, you get treated like a jackass. No idea what that is supposed to mean. Punk then asks where the contract should be filed, finally deciding to shove it in Heyman’s pants. What an odd ending to the segment.

Six Diva tag match putting AJ and the Bellas against and the Kaitlyn and the Funkadactyles. AJ starts by slapping Kaitlyn in the head but tagging out after her hair is pulled. Naomi and Cameron then flipp around over a Bella before Naomi misses on a cross body and the Bella works the arm. The next minute or so was just the other Bella locking in an arm drag until Kaitlyn got tagged in. She throws one Bella into the other, and when the legal Bella tried to tag AJ, AJ jumped off the apron and walked away. Kaitlyn used the distraction to hit a spear to win the match, ending my misery.

Backstage, Kane is trying to talk Bryan out of facing Ryback but Daniel still thinks he has something to prove. He tells Kane he doesn’t want him anywhere near the ring during the match, and Kane does him one better by leaving the arena, saying he’ll come back when he gets his head on straight. That match is next.

Bryan runs into the ring chanting YES! He hasn’t done that in ages. It still gets the crowd going. Ryback comes in through the back of an ambulance, since he has an ambulance match as part of his three stages of hell thingie at Payback. It’s too bad he wasn’t in an ice cream truck match. Bryan starts off on the offensive, coming at Ryback with knees and kicks, using speed to dodge Ryback and toe drag him into the corner. Ryback drops Bryan with a clothesline but Daniel gets his knee up to block a splash. Ryback then powers out of an attempted NO Lock (or should it be YES Lock now?) and he starts to control the match. Bryan then counters a Lou Thesz press and applies and Indian Death Lock while pummeling Ryback and getting a two count. Bryan goes for the backflip into the flying kick off the ropes but Ryback runs at him, clotheslining him out of the ring. Back inside it is all Ryback, beating Bryan down in the corner and calling him the weak link while tossing him around the ring. Daniel then dodges Ryback running into the corner, causing his shoulder to go into the post. Bryan then hits three missel dropkicks in a row, pushing Ryback into the corner and finally taking him down for a two count. Bryan then hits another one from the top rope, then goes back up again to hit a flying headbutt leaping completely across the ring for a two count. Big pop for Bryan (so what else is new?). A frustrated Bryan smacks himself in the face a few times before laying kicks into Ryback. Ryback catches Bryan on the last kick however and hits a big power bomb to regain control. Ryback gets lazy picking up Bryan for another power bomb and Daniel converts it into a NO Lock in the middle of the ring. Ryback crawls to the ropes and breaks the hold, rolling out of the ring. Daniel tries to jump through the ropes at him but Ryback slides away and throws him into the announce table. Ryback takes over for good, driving Bryan into the steel post and bringing out a table. Ryback puts Daniel through the table and the match ends in a DQ. Bryan’s music hits as Ryback brings out a second table, standing it up outside the ring when John Cena runs out to stop him. They are about to go at it when Curtis Axel comes out for his match with Cena. Ryback leaves and the next match is on.

Bryan's night ends with a bang
Bryan’s night ends with a bang

Early on Heyman pulls Cena’s feet out from under him by the ropes (legal in a no DQ match) and Axel takes control on a leaping clothesline off the apron. Cena tries to come back but is countered with a back breaker. Paul Heyman gives Curtis a chair, but Cena takes it and hits him in the back. John then throws Axel over the announce table and the ref is doing a ten count. You can be counted out of a no DQ match? Cena rolls Axel back in the ring and Curtis grabs the chair and attacks Cena with it. Now Cena is keeping his distance, trying to avoid getting clocked with the chair. Cena dodges two swings and dropkicks the chair into Axel’s face for a two count. Curtis then takes down Cena with a blow to the back of the head and gets a two count of his own. Cena then blocks Axel from driving him into the turnbuckle and hits the five moves of doom (missing horribly on the five knuckle shuffle). Axel then escapes the AA and dodges Cena running at him, with his shoulder going into a chair he had wedged into the corner. Axel brings the chair back into the ring and gives him a shot in the back for a two count. He keeps trying to pin him after  single chair shot and Cena keeps getting on two. Finally Axel starts laying into him with the chair, hitting a number of shots. Curtis then hits his one handed swinging neck breaker into the chair, but Cena kicks out on two. So now Axel has just had his finishing move applied onto a chair, but it doesn’t end a match. I don’t care how much he is talked up during the shows, he is being horribly booked. Axel then goes for a Perfectplex but Cena counters and applies the STF. Axel is making his way toward the rope when Heyman hands him a laptop from the announce table and Curtis hits Cena in the head to break the hold (again, legal). Outside the ring, Cena picks up Axel for an AA into the propped up table but Heyman stops him. Cena goes after Paul and then beats back Axel when Ryback runs back out and drives Cena into the table. Ryback stands over Cena as the ref counts to ten, and Axel wins again via count out. Pretty good match and Axel was strong, but he can’t have his best moves be kicked out of so early in his run.

Raw was fine this week. Bryan really made the whole thing watchable as not much else happened. No stories really progressed outside of Team Hell No growing apart, and at the end of it all I’m just stuck wondering when the hell I’m going to see Dolph Ziggler!

Cena Adds Stipulations As CM Punk Is Confirmed For Payback On Raw

I'll let you figure out what's odd about this picture
I’ll let you figure out what’s odd about this picture

Roughly three weeks from Payback and the signature word around the WWE is concussion. First for Triple H who, in his story, suffered from post concussion symptoms during his match against Curtis Axel (McGillicutty) to last weeks raw, and also regarding to Dolph Ziggler, who is actually going through post concussion syndrome and has been out of action for the last few weeks. I’d like to think that they had the idea for Trips before Dolph got hurt and just decided to stick with the plan but don’t you think it’s possible that after seeing the reaction to Doph getting hurt that they decided to take the angle for all its worth? If so, isn’t that really messed up? So no I am left wondering which concussed man will show up to Raw first. The fakey dizzy Triple H, or the actually dizzy but still stealing the show through twitting Dolph Ziggler.

Oh yeah, and what’s up with Raw being in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for Memorial Day? Bret Hart is being honored after the show but you can only watch it on the WWE App. Did you get it yet? Me either.

Tonight’s show kicks off with John Cena, who was absent last week due to injuries suffered at Extreme Rules in his Last Man Standing match against Ryback that ended in a no contest when they both ended up knocked out (even though Ryback definitely got up and walked away while Cena was carried off in a stretcher). The crowd chants for Bret as Cena makes fun of Ryback and gets into Ryback’s challenge of an ambulance match. After thinking about it, Cena says that that is not enough. He wants “Payback” to be “hell” and challenges Ryback to a three stages of hell match. What kind of match is that? Well Cena is going to explain it. It is a two out of three falls match where each match has a different stipulation. The first fall is a lumberjack match, the second fall is a tables match (which Cena uses to get the crowd to chant “we want tables”), and the final fall will be the ambulance match Ryback originally asked for. Ryback comes out shortly after the challenge, saying that he tried to tae Cena to hell when he put him through the LED board at Extreme Rules. He then tells Cena to say hello to Beelzebub, Lucifer and Satan (like this?) before finally asking him to say hello to Ryback. So I guess that is a yes? I like the idea of the other two matches to precede the dreaded ambulance match. My hopes are still not very high and I’m now worried that they are going to go way longer than their limited abilities and stamina will let them, but at least it is different.

Ryback walks off and it looks like the segment is about to end when all of a sudden Paul Heyman steps out! He asks Cena to say hello to Curtis Axel, who by Heyman’s account beat Triple H so badly that you won’t be seeing him for some time. He credits Cena with being a fighting champion after challenging Ryback, then suggests that Cena face off against Axel tonight. John tells Curtis to stay away from Heyman, to which Axel steps in to say that they didn’t ask for John’s opinion, just if he was looking for a fight. Cena accepts the match and Curtis Axel will take on John Cena one week after facing Triple H (while beating Sin Cara on Smackdown in between). He’s getting rubs from some pretty big personalities (and Sin Cara).

Trouble in the friend zone?
Trouble in the friend zone?

The first match of the night puts Alberto Del Rio against Big E Langston (who AJ stay as far away from as possible during his entrance to avoid getting punched in the boob again). Dolph is still nowhere in sight as Langston starts off overpowering Alberto, fighting off Del Rio’s offensive attempts until Del RIo finally chops him down with series of clotheslines and a back stabber, followed by a side kick to the face. We hear a message from Ziggler (at least we know he’s alive) saying that the only cure for his illness is more Big E beat downs. The announcers try to create reason for tension among the faction, saying that it’s only a matter of time before Langston thinks that he can take the World Heavyweight Championship from Ziggler. Big E hits a belly to belly suplex and after Del Rio hits an arm stabber(?), AJ removes the top turnbuckle pad. With the ref distracted with AJ, Alberto applies the cross arm breaker. Langston powers up and lifts Alberto, but Del Rio pushes Big E into the exposed turnbuckle, rolls him up and gets the win. AJ runs in defend her actions, and Big E wants no part of it, and the heels argue going up the ramp. Looks like there is tension after all. Decent match.

Backstage, Daniel Bryan is still pissy, believing that Kane thinks he is the weak link. Kane tries to get his spirits up, talking about size not factoring into toughness, but Daniel isn’t buying it and they start arguing. All of a sudden Bret Hart pops in (to a big pop) and tells Bryan the exact same thing, word for word, and Bryan eats it up. Kane asks why it doesn’t mean anything coming from him, to which Bryan says is because Bret is the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be, while Kane is just…Kane. Consider three minutes filled.

Dean Ambrose in the ring to defend his United States Championship against Kofi Kingston.  They already had a rematch on Smackdown when the Shield interfered when it looking like Kingston might win. I’ll bet the same happens here. The start fast under “let’s go Ambrose” chants, trading moves until Dean ducks under two Trouble in Paradise attempts and rolls out of the ring. Ambrose gets back in the ring and takes control of the match by dropping Kofi onto the top rope. Kingston fights back with a sling shot into the top turnbuckle, and stopping Ambrose from bouncing back with a 180 cross body splash. They then alternate pins in an impressive sequence culminating in an SOS for a two count. Kingston then hits a slingshot axe handle for another two count. Kofi then chases Dean to the outside and Ambrose yanks Kofi off the apron onto the steel steps. Back in the ring, Ambrose hits his reverse DDT and takes the match via pinfall. Very good match showing off both men’s skillsets. Ambrose’s finisher still has not been named but it sure looks good.

HART ATTACK!
HART ATTACK!

The rest of the Shield comes out to celebrate but Kane’s music hits and Team Hell No comes out to take them out. Coincidentally, their tag team title match against Rollins and Reigns is next. Bryan starts off against Roman, with Roman taking control against the weak link and taking in Rollins. Bryan hits a running knee on Seth and hits a series of kicks before Kane tagged himself in to stop Bryan from getting DQ’d when he wouldn’t ease off. Kane tags Daniel back in as they give a nod to Bret by converting the Hart Attack on Seth. With Kane back in, Rollins escapes a choke slam and hits a big enziguri before tagging in Reigns to work over Kane. Kane hits a suspended vertical suplex on Rollins but can’t get to his corner as Roman gets tagged in, keeping the momentum with a power slam. Kane finally takes out Seth with a clothesline and Bryan comes in on the hot tag. Daniel is fired up as he hits a running dropkick to knock Reigns off the apron before hitting a german suplex and a bigger running dropkick on Rollins for a two count. Bryan hits his barrage of kicks capped off with the kick to the head for another two count. Seth knocks Bryan down from the top rope, but Bryan slips away from the superplex attempt, putting Seth in the tree of woe to land more kicks including a baseball slide into Seth’s face. Bryan then connects on a side superplex from the top rope, but appears to injure himself in the process. So Daniel can’t make the cover but he keeps control of the match until Reigns finally takes down Bryan and the Shield is controlling things again. “This is awesome” chants come from the crowd as Rollins puts Bryan in the mexican surfboard, giving Daniel a taste of his own medicine. Bryan sits up from the move in a great counter, attacking Seth until Rollins dragged him to the Shield’s corner to that Reigns can get tagged in. Rollins starts telling Bryan that he is the weak link as he hits him with a Russian leg sweep into the second turnbuckle. Bryan comes back with a running kick on Reigns to get to Kane for the hot tag. Kane hits Seth with the sidewalk slam but the pin is broken up by Roman. Bryan then hits Reigns with a missile dropkick from the top rope, following it up by leaping through the ropes to hit Reigns against the outside barrier. Back in the ring, Kane takes down Seth with a big boot and climbs the top rope and connects with the one hand smash. Kane then tries to get Bryan to go back to his corner but he is still attacking Reigns. After a short argument, Bryan gets caught attempting to hit a flying knee off the apron but Reigns slams him into the outside floor instead. Rollins meanwhile recovers, hitting a springboard flying knee to take out Kane and pin him for the win. Fantastic match. Entertaining the whole way. Once again Daniel Bryan was the star here in defeat. Ambrose comes out and the Shield celebrate in the middle of the ring.

You are the weakest link. Goodbye.
You are the weakest link. Goodbye.

After the match, Michael Cole gives an update on Triple H, saying that no further damage has occurred as a result of last week’s incident and he will be able to go on Raw next week. So right now it looks like Curtis Axel will face Triple H at Payback. I guess he will be looking for payback (right? RIGHT?).

Wade Barrett scheduled to face Fandango next, but the Miz is in the ring first. It is up to the WWE Universe to decide (via the WWE App of course) whether Miz will be the ring announcer, commentator or guest referee for the match. It would be great if he only acted as ring announcer but we know he’ll be the ref. 85% called for guest referee (10% wanted him to commentate) and he has his ref shirt on before Barrett even got to the ramp. The Canadien crowd is still into Fandango’ing as Lawler makes passes at top heavy women (if you know what I mean) while making fun of Canadiens. Anyway a match kind of happens, as Barrett gets on Miz for not making Fandango get off him while on the ropes. Fandango goes on the offensive as the crowd continues to Fandango. Barrett bounces back and keeps riding Miz. With ‘Dango tied up in the ropes, Miz gets in between him and Wade, so Barrett finally has enough and tosses Miz to the other side of the ring so he can deliver a big boot. Miz then hits a skull crushing finale on Barrett, allowing Fandango to cover and get the victory. Non match meant to push a feud between Barrett and Miz. Meanwhile Fanango continues to avoid wrestling in his wrestling matches (and dancing in his dance competitions). Fandango dips Summer in the ring and Miz kicks ‘Dango in the face, sending him down and Summer on top of him. Miz counts to three for a pin and walks off. Literally no logical reason for Miz to attack Fandango. He must be going to the Sheamus school of babyfacing.

Backstage a heavy bearded Shawn Michaels is talking to Cena about his match against Axel. Michaels says that Cena, like Triple H, is coming back too soon from injury and isn’t listening to him. Cena says that Michaels never listened to anyone either and walks off, as the crowd chants “you still got it.” Looks like Canada is over the screwjob.

Brodus and Tensai in the ring next, teaming up with Khali to take on 3MB. Okay let’s get this over with. Apparently they are facing each other because Slater wanted a piece of Natalya’s birthday cake and the faces said no, so Slater shoved the cake in Hornswaggle’s face. Again, wouldn’t sharing be the face thing to do? Anyway Khali starts off with chops on McIntyre, tagging in Tensai who tumbles into him in the corner. Tensai is then distracted by Slater, giving Drew the chance to attack him and put 3MB in control. Slater gets taken down after a few moves, giving Brodus a chance to come in, and hit a splash in the corner. The pin is broken up the Drew and all six men get in the ring. Mahal and Drew get removed from the ring, Khali hits a chop on Slater, giving Clay the opening to hit the running splash and win the match. After the match, Brodus has Khali sing “Happy Birthday” to Natalya. At least that’s what he was supposed to sing. Not sure what words he was saying. Tensai seemed annoyed that he wasn’t asked to sing. Shouldn’t Bret have been out there to celebrate? Maybe you can watch him watch Raw backstage on the WWE App.

Highlight Reel time as Chris Jericho talks to Paul Heyman. Jericho credits Heyman for aligning himself to great talent, while Heyman corrects him to say that he discovers and develops big talent. Paul even adds that he gave Jericho his big break, to which Jericho responds by saying he is still owed money by Heyman. Heyman says that that is why he has waived his appearance fee for Jericho, and starts talking up Axel. Jericho says he would rather talk about his other client. Heyman immediately goes into promoting Brock Lesnar, causing Jericho to snap at him and say that he wants to talk about CM Punk. The crowd chants just at the mention of Punk and Jericho plays the footage of CM walking out on Raw six weeks ago. Jericho suggests that Heyman had no idea that Punk was going to leave, and Heyman responds by stalling until Jericho bluntly asks where CM Punk is. Heyman states that he will have an announcement on Raw in the next few weeks regarding the return of CM Punk. Jericho doesn’t buy it, saying that Punk can’t sit at home and keep calling himself the best in the world. Chris brings up how Payback is in Chicago, and that there are plenty of people who would say Jericho is the best in world. At least he would have said that if Heyman let him. Paul is extremely defensive over anyone else saying they are the best in the world, and Jericho says that Punk can’t claim it either unless he comes back at Payback and faces him. Heyman says he won’t be pushed into negotiating with him over CM Punk, so Jericho calls himself the best in the world at what he does. Heyman then accepts Jericho’s challenge and the two shake hands. Jericho has the final word, telling Paul to let Punk know he will never be the same again. Who gives a damn because we are three weeks from seeing CM Punk again! Punk and Jericho were great together last year and I expect no different this time around.

"I smell CM Punk on your neck"
“I smell CM Punk on your neck”

Divas tag action next as the Bellas face the Kaitlyn and Natalya. Why does every big announcement on Raw have to be followed by a Divas match? Happy birthday chants come from the crowd as a Bella pulls Kaitlyn down off the ramp. Kaitlyn gets worked over and looks like she’s corpsing before tagging in the birthday girl who hits a tornado punch. She then applies the sharpshooter, which is broken up by the other Bella. Kaitlyn then tries to spear a Bella, who dodges her causing Natalya to get hit instead. Natalya gets pinned in her home town, and the Bellas sing “happy birthday, loser” on the way out.

Backstage, Bret is talking to Curtis Axel about how he should ditch Heyman. Curtis says that just because Hart knew his dad, doesn’t mean he knows him. Axel says that Heyman believed in him when nobody else did. Every single face seems to have nothing bad to say about him except for how he associates with Heyman. Heyman has nothing but good things to say either. There is a weird marketing strategy with him that nobody else has gotten. Instead of announcers and promos building him up, Curtis is being mentioned throughout the show, with everyone talking about how talented he is like he was an indie wrestler that just got called up. This is the kind of effort Cesaro needed, if he couldn’t do the talking himself. They really want Axel to be a big deal.

Team Rhodes Scholars back again to take on Sheamus and Orton. Orton came out first, then Sandow and Cody came out during the commercial so that Sheamus can come out on TV. What kind of team comes out in between the other team? Orton leads off in control of Cody, throwing him into a slingshot battering ram from Sheamus. Rhodes then gets Sheamus in the corner for Sandow to work on him until Sheamus hits a power slam and the faces are in charge again. Orton comes back in and hits a standing dropkick, then keeps the offense going against Rhodes. This is an extremely one sided match. You’d think they were facing 3MB. Lawler starts making fun of Cody’s orange tan, ignoring that Orton is the most orange man in the company. Team Rhodes Scholars finally steal some momentum when Damien pulls Sheamus off the top rope following a Cody distraction. Sadly all of their offense is during the commercial break, as Sheamus hits an Irish Curse back breaker on Cody, giving him the chance to bring Orton in on a hot tag. Sandow gets tagged with the second rope DDT but Cody pulls Damien out to avoid the RKO. Randy runs out and clotheslines Cody but Sandow pulls his face into the post. Orton gets worked over now as Rhodes hits a reverse clothesline and Damien hits the elbow of disdain for a two count. Orton fights back with a fishermans suplex to get Sheamus in on a hot tag. Cody gets knocked around and Sandow gets battered on the apron. Rhodes hits Sheamus with a Disaster Kick while Sheamus had Sandow up for White Noise. Orton goes after Cody and they brawl outside, as Sheamus escapes Terminus to hit White Noise, following it up with a Brogue Kick to win the match. What looked like a simple squash match turned into a solid midcard bout.

Main event time as John Cena squares off against Curtis Axel. Man, Axel really has a big head. Curtis starts off with a chin lock but Cena lands a hip toss and Axel exits the ring for a strategy session with Heyman. Back from break, Curtis throws Cena into the steps and gets back in to see if Cena can get counted out. John makes it on 8 and Axe keeps the pressure on. Meanwhile the crowd is completely distracted by what looks to be a fight breaking out in the stands toward the stage. Axel keeps Cena down with an arm bar that seems to go on forever until John tries to muscle free. Axel beats Cena back down and yells at the crowd to pay attention to him. Cena then goes into the five moves of doom but Curtis escapes the Attitude Adjustment and hits a standing dropkick on Cena coming off the ropes for a two count. That seems to be one of his main signature moves. Curtis hits a Bret Hart styled elbow from the second rope, but when he tries a second time Cena counters with a body slam for a two count. Axel comes back with a snapmare (like his dad) and a boot to the face for another two count. Curtis looked like he was going to go for the Perfectplex but Cena escaped and went for an STF. Curtis got out of that and also avoided the AA again to HIT THE PERFECTPLEX! The move gets a big pop and the crowd chants “Mr. Perfect,” yet Cena kicks out on two and the match goes on. Cena brings down Axel with a clothesline when an ambulance suddenly enters the arena. Cena leaves the ring to investigate, losing the match via count out. Cena opens the doors but doesn’t find anyone inside. Ryback then attacks Cena from behind, brining him onto the stage to hit a meathook clothesline. Cena dodges it and goes for an AA but Ryback slides out and pushes Cena off the stage. Ryback walks backstage as Cena hears the announcement that Curtis Axel wins the match via count out. Cena looks annoyed as Heyman and Axel celebrate a second win via count out, first over Triple H and now over John Cena. Finish aside, Axel did look very good. He has to be careful about using his dad’s moves but right now it is working for him. If he saves the Perfectplex for special occasions it can do really well. He just seems too bulky for Perfect’s full repertoire.

The push continues for Curtis Axel
The push continues for Curtis Axel

Overall a very strong episode of Raw. The matches were good and feuds had a pretty natural progression. Add the inclusion of CM Punk being billed to face Jericho at Payback and Curtis Axel looking good against Cena and things are pretty positive. Now if we can just get Dolph Ziggler back in the ring!