The show kicked off live from Sacramento, CA, with Daniel Bryan’s entrance to the ring. Final hype for SummerSlam should be the story of the night…
Opening Match w/Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett stood in the ring with a new, fresh, clean-shaven look, as Brad Maddox was announced as the special guest referee (and Michael Cole feigned surprise).
The match started off with a headlock, Bryan taking control early on. A series of kicks from Bryan and things spilled outside the ring. Barrett re-established himself with a big boot. He pushed Bryan back inside the ring and pummeled him in the corner. When Bryan rolled out for a break, Barrett smashed his face on the announce table, and Irish-whipped him into the steel steps. Back inside the ring, Barrett maintained his position, until Daniel Bryan reversed an Irish whip and flipped out of the corner. Bryan scored with a missile drop-kick from the top rope. As he went for a roundhouse kick, Barrett caught a roll-up pin, and Maddox gave him a quick 3-count for the win.
Winner: Wade Barrett
Bryan was egged-on by the crowd as he went for revenge on Maddox. Unfortunately, Maddox escaped the ring as Michael Cole claimed that it’s “pretty apparent somebody has a vendetta against Bryan.”
Segment Rating: Good - The match, albeit short, was very entertaining. I often argue he isn’t given enough time on the show to shine, but his in-ring skills are solid. While we all knew the screw-job was coming, this segment set up intrigue for the rest of the night.
Randy Orton vs. Damien Sandow w/Cody Rhodes on commentary
I like the “Money in the Bank” winners fighting each other. It elevates both briefcases. Having the match here on the go-home show makes me think we’re going to see a cash-in this Sunday…
Things kicked off with a tie-up. Sandow grabbed Orton in a headlock, but Orton quickly fought back into it. Cody Rhodes described Sandow’s customized briefcase as looking like “chocolate.” Funny. Sandow attempted a suplex, but Orton reversed and went for a pin, only earning a 2-count. Cody Rhodes continued to kill it on commentary as he put over his rivalry with Sandow and described himself as “more covert.” Orton drop-kicked Sandow off the ring apron as the show went to commercial…
Back from the break and Sandow knocked Orton off the top-rope. Sandow looked solid as he maintained control. He eventually hit the elbow of disdain as Sandow kicked out. At the same time, Jerry Lawler questioned Rhodes and whether or not he (Rhodes) would have done the same and betray Sandow if given the chance, but Rhodes played off the question. Sandow locked Orton around the chin and yelled, “I’m not letting go!” Orton fought out and hit a side-drop. He went for his clothesline-power slam trademark, but Sandow grabbed the rope, and hit a neck-breaker of his own. Orton still got his power-slam when Sandow stupidly ran at him from the corner. He then hit his ‘trademark’ move. Just as Orton was calling for an RKO, Sandow blocked it and slipped out of the ring.
Sandow yelled at Rhodes outside the ring to “Take notes, you little punk!” He pushed Orton back in the ring but only got a two-count. Rhodes then left ringside to grab the briefcase, and as Sandow was distracted, Randy Orton popped up and scored with an RKO. He earned the three-count, and the win.
Winner: Randy Orton
Segment Rating: Good - but not great. These guys put together an entertaining match, and while it might not have been a match-of-the-year contender, both men showed a lot of effort. I’m more discontent with the way things played out at the end – Sandow loses off ANOTHER distraction because Rhodes is at ringside? We’ve seen this before. Mediocre final build for their match on Sunday.
Afterwards, Michael Cole put over a 19-man match happening later on Raw, where the winner gets a shot at the United States Championship at SummerSlam. The Shield then appeared on the TitanTron. Ambrose claimed to be better than everybody else, and Reigns claimed that there was “nobody else” on their level. He issued an open challenge for their Tag-Team Titles on RAW. Ambrose said that he’s the REAL best-in-the-world, and that he wasn’t losing his title at SummerSlam.
Brock Lesnar Video Package
Brock Lesnar came up in a pre-taped video package and cut a very UFC-ish promo. He put over this fight as being very personal, and said he’s doing the match out of respect for Paul. He said “The Beast IS the best.” Lesnar put over his own background in MMA and UFC> He brought up his own NCAA Division I championship, and said that he was the Undisputed WWE Champion when CM Punk was wrestling in high-school gyms. He gave CM Punk props for his historic title run… however, Punk has never faced anybody like Brock Lesnar. He said “Size does matter,” and promised to ‘victimize’ Punk at SummerSlam.
After the video, Josh Matthews interviewed Punk backstage. He asked Punk why he’d take a match this close to SummerSlam. Instead of answering the question, he put over his own match on Sunday, and said “The BEST is the best.”
Segment Rating: Good - Brock looks so much more legitimate in these pre-taped segments. We finally have a reason to care about Brock Lesnar’s involvement in this match from a personal perspective. Good stuff all the way around.
Great Khali and Natalya vs. Big E Langston and AJ Lee
The Great Khali looked like a total dope as the referee had to explain to him that Natalya had to start the match against AJ. Khali finally tagged in Natalya, but she quickly lost ground to AJ. AJ scored with a series of kicks. Hornswaggle beat the mat from ringside, which sent AJ in to her crazy mode, but gave Natalya the chance to capitalize. Natalya locked in the sharpshooter, and AJ tapped out. Apparently, however, the referee didn’t notice it. So as Natalya walked over to the referee for her hand to be raised, the ref just stared at her stupidly. Natalya finally figured it out, and made AJ tap out one more time (even though AJ was within reach of the ropes).
Winner: Natalya by submission
Segment Rating: Ugly - Gah, bad enough that Hornswaggle AND The Great Khali were involved in this match, but the botch was terrible. Also, what’s the point of booking a mixed tag match if only the females are going to fight? Also, why have the team actually involved in a storyline LOSE here? Terrible booking, terrible segment… punch me in the face.
Segment w/ Vince McMahon, Brad Maddox
Smart to place this at the beginning of hour two. Vince swaggered down to the ring, showed the opening match from RAW, and demanded an explanation from Brad Maddox. Maddox came out and said he made himself the referee because “Daniel Bryan matches tend to get a little out of hand.” He was what-ed by the crowd.
Vince bought his explanation. He told Maddox that he has no reason to apologize if he did the best he could, and that “everybody makes mistakes.” He asked for a second chance. Maddox requested to be the OFFICIAL referee for Daniel Bryan’s match at SummerSlam, and the crowd chanted “No!” Maddox promised to be impartial. After a few more questions, Vince decided to tell Maddox he could be the referee.
“The Game” hit, and Triple H made his way down to the ring. Vince chimed in that he’s “never been the same since he cut his hair.” Triple H said he didn’t come out to air dirty laundry. He agreed that, due to the importance of Cena vs. Bryan on Sunday, there needed to be an impartial referee on Sunday. He just didn’t think Maddox fit that description. Instead, Triple H said it seemed like he’s referring to… “me,” and gestured to himself. He then hit Maddox with a pedigree as Vince McMahon stormed out.
Segment Rating: Bad - I’m not buying any of this. Vince McMahon looked ridiculous (and uncomfortable) out in the ring with Brad Maddox. He REALLY thinks Maddox should be the referee? Wasn’t he completely lambasting Maddox around ‘Hell in the Cell’ last year? Also, Triple H just decided to make himself referee, because that would totally be MORE fair? This seriously just cut down on my excitement for the match on Sunday.
Kane vs. Titus O‘ Neil
Good video recapping the Kane – Bray Wyatt feud. The announce team put over the
Johnny Cash Ring of Fire stipulation, and clarified the fire is NOT there to catch anybody on fire, but simply to keep the Wyatt Family away.
Kane started things off in a dominant fashion – however, O’Neil looked like serious competition just from his size. Unfortunately for O’Neil, Kane locked in the choke-slam, and scored the pinfall.
After the match, The Wyatt Family came down to the ring as Jerry Lawler described their entrance as “eerie.” When the lights came back on, The Wyatt Family was in the ring, but Kane was at the top of the ramp. The announce team questioned whether or not Kane’s mind-games would lead him to victory on Sunday.
Segment Rating: Indifferent - It was nice to see Kane get the upper-hand for once. I also appreciate the “Ring of Fire” explanation. However, the match was short and useless, and I felt completely un-invested in this segment.
Backstage ‘Total Divas’ Segment
Ah, this explains why Natalya scored the victory earlier in the night. Basically, Bre and Nikki were interviewed by Josh Matthews, but Natalya intervened and challenged them to a three-on-three match at SummerSlam. Yada yada yada. Guess WWE feels like they need to merge the ‘Total Divas’ and weekly television storylines? Sorry guys, but I could care less.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston came out looking very game, as the announce team questioned Del Rio’s distractions. Del Rio captured an early advantage by putting Kingston in a tree of woe. He hit Kingston in a reverse DDT from the top rope. Del Rio attempted a pin, but only got the two-count. Kingston finally fought his way back in with his patented slaps. He scored with the boom-drop, and called for the trouble in paradise. However, he missed, and Del Rio caught him with a tilt-a-whirl back-slam. Kofi got up and hit Del Rio with an S.O.S. This only earned him a two-count. When Kofi went for a springboard cross-body from over the top-rope, Del Rio countered with a codebreaker-like move. This let Del Rio sink in the cross arm-breaker for the win.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Segment Rating: Bad - I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to care about here. The match was a bit sloppy. Also, Kingston finally returned, and one week later he’s getting buried. Also, where was Christian to further his feud with Del Rio? Seems like WWE Creative took the night off.
After the match, the announce team put over Mark Henry’s involvement in the 20 man battle-royal later in the night.
The announce team brought us back from commercial break and discussed Christian’s chances of winning the World Heavyweight Championship on Sunday. Cole asked if Christian’s victory this past Friday on Smackdown would hurt Del Rio, but JBL argued that Alberto Del Rio would learn from his mistakes. They aired a great video package putting over Christian’s career.
Backstage, Christian was interviewed about his match on Sunday. Then Del Rio came out and said “No More Match” in Spanish.
The Real Americans vs. The Usos
Antonio Cesaro came out in a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag cape. Funny. Zeb Coulter complained about hybrid cars and illegal immigrants, yada yada yada, as the show went to commercial.
The Usos came out to a decent ovation. Michael Cole put this over as a rubber match between these two teams, and argued that the winning team might find itself in line for a tag team title shot. Cesaro started things off, and kept control in his own corner before tagging in Jack Swagger. The announce team was very careful not to call him “Jimmy” or “Jey” for fear of getting it wrong. Finally, Jimmy and Swagger found themselves squaring off. Jimmy hit a Samoan drop, and pumped up the crowed with an “US-OS” chant. Both men looked incredible as they flew over the top rope in-tandem on top of The Real Americans. Back in the ring, Jimmy scored the three-count.
Winner: The Usos
Segment Rating: Good - Nothing about this necessarily stood out as fantastic. However, the match was solid, and the story between these two teams has played out in an interesting way over the last few weeks. Plus, I’m glad the Usos got the win here. Do they get a re-match against the Shield now?
Miz TV Segment w/Daniel Bryan and John Cena
The Miz came out and announced his guests as Daniel Bryan and John Cena. He brought up the “big news” that Triple H will be the special guest referee on Sunday. Bryan said he’s just happy somebody finally stood up to Vince McMahon. Cena just got booed. He said this is the most exciting Miz TV yet, and normally it’s just a “train wreck” of a segment. Funny. The Miz tried to put over the Cena vs. Bryan match as personal, but Cena argued it’s just about the WWE Championship.
Bryan got serious, and complained about being relegated to only “putting up one helluva fight.” He said that Cena was only it for the fame and glory. He said that his “The Beard is Here” shirt is a parody of John Cena, because John Cena is a parody of wrestling. Bryan said he wants to be champion so it proves that “there is nobody better than Daniel Bryan.” Cena got serious, and took off his shirt. He put over the WWE Universe as being the real reason they do what they do. John Cena promised to always be loyal to his fans, no matter how few there may be. The crowd was surprisingly hot for Cena. Cena said there will always be critics, including for Bryan, but that he’s still proud of what he does. Cena said he’s worked his rear-end off, and beaten the best in the business time and time again. “Respect the Beard? Respect isn’t given here. It’s earned.” He told Bryan that if Bryan wins on Sunday, he earns Cena’s respect.
Bryan said that’s the point, Cena doesn’t respect him yet. He doesn’t treat this match the same as the other guys, such as HBK, who he actually had respect for. Bryan said Cena can’t understand his hunger. For Cena, this is just another SummerSlam, but to Bryan, this is the biggest match of his life. Bryan put over a custom he’s familiar with, where wrestlers slap each other in the face to pump themselves up for big matches. He said he couldn’t slap Cena because Cena isn’t a wrestler. Cena acted offended, tossed over the Miz TV set, and slapped Bryan. Before Bryan had a chance to respond, Triple H’s music hit.
Triple H got in the ring to break up the confrontation between both men. ”Voices” sounded from the top of the ramp, and Randy Orton came out. He sent a simple message by holding his Money in the Bank briefcase high above his head.
Segment Rating: Good - A lot of fantastic stuff in play here. Both Bryan and Cena cut solid promos (although I think Cena was a bit long-winded, which weakened his message). I’m also a fan of the Orton surprise. However, Triple H just made things feel a little crowded, and that’s just because his involvement feels completely superfluous.
Fandango vs. R Truth
Things started as a “dance-off.” However, when R-Truth got in his groove, Fandango and Summer Rae acted offended, causing Fandango to attack R-Truth. R-Truth tossed Fandango outside the ring. Fandango took the microphone and repeated his own name.
Segment Rating: Bad - First, if you know me, you know I hate dance-off segments. Secondly, isn’t there enough other stuff going on tonight without useless stuff like this? What was the point? This is the GO HOME SHOW for SUMMERSLAM, not WWE Superstars.
20-Man Battle Royal for United States Championship Number One Contender
RVD, Tons of Fun, 3MB, and Ryback entered as the show cut to commercial. After the break, Mark Henry made his way down to the ring.
Things started off wild and crazy. A “free for all” as Michael Cole described. Ryback picked up Justin Gabriel and tossed him over the top rope to eliminate him. Then Ryback clotheslined Darren Young for an elimination, and did the same to Tensai. 3MB eliminated “one of the Usos.” R-Truth earned a little revenge from earlier in the night by eliminating Fandango, but Fandango jumped back in the ring and repaid the favor to R-Truth. RAW cut to commercial.
Brodus Clay and “a tandem of superstars” were eliminated during the break. The Real Americans eliminated the other Uso. Rob Van Dam eliminated Titus O’Neil. Jack Swagger tried to eliminate Kofi Kingston, but Kingston held on to Cesaro to avoid elimination. Finally, together, Swagger and Cesaro eliminated Kofi Kingston. Mark Henry eliminated both Cesaro and Swagger, then moved on to Wade Barrett.
Three men remained – Henry, Ryback, and RVD. Van Dam and Henry worked in-tandem to eliminate Ryback. Henry charged Rob Van Dam on the ring apron, but RVD pulled down the top rope to see Henry tumble outside the ring.
Winner and Number One Contender: Rob Van Dam
After the match, Henry got back in the ring and gave RVD a fist bump. The, the Shield’s music hit. Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns entered from the crowd, as Van Dam and Henry stood back-to-back inside the ring. As thing looked dire, the Big Show’s music hit. Some man who looked kind of like The Big Show, but was much leaner (and was also apparently a good guy) entered the ring. The Shield ran off, scared.
Segment Rating: Good - First, I love a good Battle Royal. They’re like the dumb action movies of wrestling match types. I really like how this battle royal at least took the time to focus on various feuds between the participants (like The Usos vs The Real Americans, and Kingston vs. Fandango). Also, the finish felt like a surprise, and the Big Show’s return was a great way to end things.
CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman entered first to complete lack of music. Jerry Lawler thought he need a “funeral march or something.” Heyman entered the ring and took the microphone. He said he doesn’t blame CM Punk for everything that’s happened, but he does blame the WWE Universe. He said that obviously this is all a set-up, with intention to take CM Punk away from the fans. Heyman claimed he didn’t do it alone, and he introduced his co-conspirator: Brock Lesnar.
Heyman said he doesn’t need to sell “The Best vs. The Beast” Instead, he put together a video package of Brock Lesnar beating the crap out of CM Punk. Hey man said the set-up is that Punk can fight Heyman… but only if he agrees to fight Lesnar as well. Heyman said that Punk could play the hero and sacrifice himself by coming out to a no-win situation, or not accept the challenge and dissapoint the fans.
Punk’s music hit, but instead of entering from the ramp, he came from the crowd behind. Punk grabbed a camera and smacked Brock Lesnar with it. Then he went after Paul Heyman with a chair, before Heyman escaped. Curtis Axel met Punk on the ramp, but Punk hit him with a chair. He delivered a GTS to Axel from the top of the ramp as RAW went of the air.
Segment Rating: Good – I’m not saying this was “great.” It wasn’t even good as go-home build for their match. But, after everything else tonight, I’m taking whatever victories I can find. It seemed like creative ran out of ideas for this feud about a week or two early, unfortunately. I didn’t like the false advertising of Punk vs Heyman. I’m also not a big fan of giving Punk his payback the week before his SummerSlam match up. On the other hand, they all put this segment over like champs, so I’ll give ‘em an A for effort.
Final Thoughts: Nothing about tonight’s show stood out as great, or even particularly good. It was just all average. Furthermore, the final build for SummerSlam fell completely flat. How am I supposed to care about the year’s second-biggest show, when the creative effort put forth tonight was so subpar? I’m not blaming the in-ring talent here, but the show felt a little bit desperate.
Thanks for watching along with me tonight! Have any final thoughts? Post them in the comments below, or let me know on Twitter @therealwiseman. Also, be sure to check out Between The Ropes tomorrow for more ongoing coverage of WWE RAW.