Refresh this page throughout the show for LIVE ongoing coverage and analysis!
Less than 24 hours after an incredible SummerSlam event, tonight’s RAW looks like a loaded show. We expect Triple H to explain his surprise turn, and fallout from “The Best vs. The Beast.” And who knows, maybe Ryback will find somebody else to bully backstage?
Big event feel in Anaheim, CA!
Opening Segment w/John Cena, Daniel Bryan, and Stephanie McMahon
Boos replaced traditional show-opening fireworks as John Cena’s music hit.
He took the mic and said “It’s rowdy on the West Coast!” No, John, they simply don’t like you. He put over Daniel Bryan, and said Bryan earned the championship. He thanked Bryan for bringing out the best in him. Cena showed off his softball of an elbow, and clarified that he is NOT using it as an excuse for his loss. He lost in a clean fight.
John Cena got serious. He said he can’t put off his surgery anymore… he has to leave the WWE. “YES!” chants erupted. Cena said he’d be out for the next 4 to 6 months to get healthy. Before he goes, though, he wants to introduce the WWE Universe to somebody who has earned his respect. Daniel Bryan’s music hit, and he made his way down to the ring. Cena and Bryan shook hands before Cena symbolically handed over the microphone and left the ring.
Bryan pulled up the mic, but before he had a chance to say anything, Stephanie McMahon’s music hit. She apologized to Bryan. She said Bryan didn’t deserve to have his dream snatched away… but, Triple H was just doing what was best for business. Bryan criticized Triple H’s transformation from wrestler into COO. He said, “When you lie down with trash, sooner or later you start to stink.” The crowd loved it. Stephanie said that she knows Bryan is upset, so she’s going to let that remark slide. Bryan asked what she was going to do. Fire him?
Stephanie said that nobody want to fire Daniel Bryan. His anger management issues must be getting the best of him. She told Bryan that he’s the “ultimate underdog,” and that not everybody can be WWE Championship material. She told Bryan that he has a place in WWE… he might not be an A, but he is a “solid B+.” Bryan said that’s funny, because she’s starting to remind HIM of a letter that starts with B… funny, funny stuff.
Bryan said he doesn’t have to settle for middle of the card. He CAN Be WWE Champion. Just as Stephanie was getting ready to say something else, Bryan slapped the microphone out of her hand. She got another mic, and told Bryan that he needs to calm down. She said she wouldn’t stand for his lack of professionalism. Security came down from the back as “Daniel Bryan” chants erupted. Bryan walked up the ramp with them, but just as he got to the top, he started a chorus of “No!” chants. Fade to commercial…
Rating: Good - Classy move by Cena to “pass the mic” to Bryan. Also, I’m glad they kicked things off with Stephanie/Bryan because it lets the audience know exactly where she stands. Save the big stuff for later, this was good enough to grab my attention. Solid opening.
Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow
SummerSlam rematch? Alright… Sandow started off in firm control. However, Rhodes went to the top rope, and took Sandow down. He only got a quick two-count. Rhodes eventually took Sandow to the outside, and suplexed Sandow onto the mat. Sandow sold it like a champ! Ref got to a four-count before Rhodes pushed Sandow back in the ring. Rhodes went for an arm submission, but Sandow used leverage to get back into things. He maintained control of Rhodes as the show went to commercial.
Back from the break, Rhodes found himself in a sleeper hold. He fought out. However, Sandow quickly grabbed him and scored with a side Russian leg-sweep. He followed it up with the “Elbow of Disdain.” Cody Rhodes kicked out after a short two-count. When Sandow went to set up Rhodes on the top rope, Rhodes fought out and knocked Sandow back to the mat. He hit a moonsault from the top rop onto a standing Sandow. Rhodes went for the pin, but Sandow kicked-out. Rhodes maintained control, hitting a series of clotheslines, and eventually attempting a Cross-Rhodes. However, Sandow reversed it, and took Rhodes down with a backwards face-buster. Rhodes got back up. He pushed Sandow in the corner, and rolled him up from the top rope into a pin attempt. The ref counted to three.
Winner: Cody Rhodes
Rating: Good - These guys are fun. There was a little bit of sloppiness in the middle, but everything still came together quite nicely. I just wish WWE would give them more than approximately 30 seconds to work…
Brad Maddox showed up from backstage and said that things were a little bit crazy on RAW. He showed comments from Dolph Ziggler questioning Triple H’s leadership. He said that since Ziggler loves showing off, he’s giving him a chance to show off tonight… in a 3-on-1 match against The Shield.
Paul Heyman Segment
Back from the commercial, Paul Heyman stood in the middle of the ring. He put over CM Punk, saying Punk gave Brock Lesnar all he could handle at SummerSlam. So where do we go from here? Heyman said it’s time to bury the family feud. He told Punk that he forgives him. He even offered to take Punk back. Heyman promised to take Punk to even greater heights than before, and that together “WE would be the best in the world…”
Rating: Good - Heyman is so good at coming across sympathetic, but then completely flipping the script. Love it. This was a good set-up for whatever happens next. I’m definitely disappointed we didn’t get a CM Punk appearance here, but the night is still young.
The Funkadactyls vs. AJ and Layla
AJ and Layla started things off by attacking the Funkadactyls. Even though neither one of the Funkadactlys was ready to start the match, the ref called for the opening bell. Head scratcher. AJ dominated Naomi throughout the early going. However, Naomi got a little revenge with a roundhouse kick. AJ tagged in Layla, and Naomi capitalized with a quick pin. 1, 2, 3.
Winners: The Funkadactyls
Rating: None - I’m not discriminating against women’s wrestling, I just don’t care about ‘Total Divas” yet. Sorry!
Dolph Ziggler vs. The Shield in a Handicapped Match
Ambrose and Ziggler started things off in a collar-and-elbow tie-up. When Ziggler got the early advantage, Ambrose tagged in Seth Rollins. When Seth Rollins failed to get any offense, he tagged in Roman Reigns. Reigns used his strength to toss around Ziggler. He pushed Ziggler back into the corner of his teammates, and The Shield exchanged a series of quick in-and-out tags, pummeling Ziggler in-between. Dean Ambrose got back in the ring. Ziggler finally found a spark, and locked Ambrose in a sleeper hold. Ambrose fought his way out, and tagged Roman Reigns back in. Despite Ziggler’s best effort, The Shield ganged up on him and used the numbers game to their advantage. Reigns hit Ziggler with a wicked mid-air spear, and covered him for the win.
(note: in one of the reversals, Ziggler suplexed Seth Rollins to the outside of the ring, and it looked like he had a bad landing on his knee)
Winners: The Shield
After the match, “the hounds of justice” put Dolph Ziggler down with their signature power bomb.
Rating: Good(ish) - The segment had a specific point, that is to make Ziggler a little more sympathetic, and it definitely achieved that. However, I’m not a huge fan of Dolph Ziggler getting the advantage over The Shield like he did. These guys have taken out every big name in the book, but a guy who’s barely held the World Heavyweight Championship is able to out-smart them? Come on! Also, where were RVD, Big Show, and Mark Henry? Don’t they still want revenge?
Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara
(Man, Del Rio’s face looks ROUGH!). Del Rio and Sin Cara kicked things off with a brief back-and forth. However, Sin Cara botched a move as he flew outside the ring, and immediately called for the referee. The referee held up the dreaded “X.” Del Rio tried to go back for a post-match attack, but the ref pushed him out of the way. Looked like Sin Cara hurt his wrist.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio (by count-out)
Del Rio took the microphone and cut a promo on being the Latino champion. He called himself a hero. Right then, Ricardo Rodriguez made a surprise appearance. He told Del Rio that Del Rio is no hero. In fact, Rodriguez claimed he’s happy that he no longer has to represent somebody like Alberto Del Rio. Rodriguez said he had somebody new to represent… ROB VAN DAM!
RVD made his way down to the ring, but Del Rio got the early attack. RVD fought back with a few kicks. Just as Van Dam went to the top rope, Del Rio rolled out of the ring and escaped up the ramp.
Rating: Good? Bad? - The match was a total bust. Is Sin Cara injured AGAIN? Best of luck in your future endeavors, dude. On the other hand, I really liked the post-match stuff. Ricardo Rodriguez’s surprise return was fun, and RVD filled out the segment nicely. Their partnership is probably short-lived, but that’s OK.
The Real Americans vs. The Prime-Time Players
Zeb Coulter started things off with a promo in-ring saying that Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger are REAL AMERICANS. He made fun of the “It’s a Small World” ride. He said something about standing in line behind illegal immigrants who took our jobs, and stole our money, and stuff. “WE The PEOPLE!”
The Prime-Time Players came out to a lukewarm reaction. Darren Young and Antonio Cesaro kicked off the match. After a brief brawl, Antonio Cesaro and Titus O’Neil were tagged in. Cesaro attacked O’Neil on the ropes. He pushed him back into Swaggers corner, and used the help from his partner. Swagger was tagged in. Titus O’Neil finally fought his way out of the corner. Swagger grabbed him back, and slammed him down on the mat. He focused on O’Neil’s leg. Swagger went for the Swagger-bomb, and Cesaro tagged himself in.
The middle of this match slowed down to a snail’s pace. Finally, Darren oung was tagged back in, and took complete control of the match. He knocked Swagger off the apron. He finished off Cesaro with the gut-check, and covered him for the win.
Winners: Prime Time Players
Backstage, Renee asked Big Show if he and Mark Henry were going to team up and challenge The Shield for their Tag Team Championship. The Big Show said yes, but he was quickly interrupted by Brad Maddox. Brad Maddox said that since Big Show said disparaging things about Triple H, Big Show was going to have to face The Shield in a handicap match… with the added stipulation that The Shield wouldn’t have to tag in. Big Show asked, “Are you sure you want to do that to The Shield?”
After a commercial break, RAW returned with an awful, awful Foot Locker promotion. Zack Ryder and Justin Gabriel looked like total tools. Fandango was hamming it up, but it still wasn’t enough to save the segment.
Backstage, Ryback walked up on some unsuspecting Jabronis in a locker room. “This is MY locker room!” He tossed some poor, hapless dude’s bag away, and told him to go get it. Then he played the worst game of Simon Says ever. “Pick it up. Go Get it. What are you doing? Pick it up. Go Get it.” Once in the shower… “Turn on the water.” SLAP. “Turn on the water. Stop the water.”
Rating(s): Ugly - Uh, that Footlocker promotion was awful. Probably worse than the Hardees/Vickie Guerrero segments from a few months back. And that segment with Ryback was pretty bad, too. What does this prove? That he’s a giant bully? That he has nothing better to do than hang around backstage and pick on random local wrestlers who just happen to be there? So. Painful.
Big Show vs. The Shield
Back from the commercial break in mid-match, Big Show was in firm control over The Shield. He knocked Ambrose down, and tossed Roman Reigns over the top rope. The Shield took a moment outside the ring to regroup. The tried to attack from different directions, but Big Show still knocked them all down. He finally ran through Ambrose like a train-wreck, and called for the choke-slam. Just as he had Ambrose in his grip, Rollins interfered. Rollins hit Show with a knee from the top rope. Ambrose then went for a pin, but only got a two-count. Unfortunately, the numbers game proved too challenging as Roman Reigns hit Show with a powerful spear. The Shield got back up and hit Big Show with a powerbomb. All three min covered Show for the pin.
Winners: The Shield
Rating: Just Okay - Second time tonight that The Shield has struggled to win. I get that the point of this was putting over Big Show, but why does everything recently seem to be coming at the expense of Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns? Also, Handicap matches are rarely “good,” they’re just there to serve a story-line purpose. Unfortunately, we’ve already had two of them tonight…
CM Punk Segment
Punk came out with a limp. He said he’s not quite sure what to say right now. He targeted a fan in the front row who booed him. “You paid your ticket and you want to boo, that’s fine, but… I will render you a toothless, crying, heap of a man. I am pissed off, and I want to fight. SO if you have the BALLS, I dare you, fatso, to fight CM PUNK.” The crowd went insane. “Be a man, or sit down and be a B*** and shut your mouth.” Intense.
Punk focused back on Heyman. He said if an apology would give him all the things Heyman promised, then Heyman should come out to the ring and meet him face-to-face. Heyman came through the entryway with Curtis Axel. Punk said, “I’m sorry I didn’t break your arm off and take it home with me… I’m sorry I didn’t break your face.” Punk said he would not stop, no matter who Heyman put in front of him. Punk promised revenge.
Heyman took the microphone and said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what is about to happen to you.” He told Axel to go in the back and tape up his hands for a fight. Heyman said that after the commercial, Punk better be ready for a beat down.
Unsanctioned Match: CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel
Back from the break, Punk sat in the middle of the ring on a steel chair. Axel returned from the back, as JBL reminded viewers that this isn’t a sanctioned match. Just as Axel entered the ring, CM Punk attacked him. He threw Axel’s face into a steel chair, and then slammed the chair over Axel’s back. Both men fought to the outside. Axel beat down Punk, but CM Punk fought back. Punk finally tossed Axel over the barricade, and beat him down with the ringside equipment. He took the ring-bell and centered it straight on Axel’s abdomen.
Back in the ring, Punk stared down Paul Heyman as he set Axel up for a GTS. Axel slipped off, however, and went for Punk’s weak leg. He viciously attacked Punk’s knee with the edge of the chair. Finally, Axel finished Punk off with his signature swinging neck-breaker. When Punk had no more fight left in him, Axel wedged Punk’s knee in the chair, and went to the top rope. Punk barely slipped away before Axel landed. Punk took the chair and fought off Axel. Heyman looked worried on the outside. Punk tossed Axel into the steel stairs again and again, and finished Axel off with a GTS on the steel stairs. The crowd chanted “C-M-Punk.” Heyman and Punk stared at each other to close the segment.
Rating: Good - Really liked this segment here. Punk almost took a beating, but ended up coming out on top. Axel also looked strong. This was the perfect set-up for the next chapter of “Heyman vs. Punk” (I’m assuming Heyman will recruit some new blood).
Bray Wyatt vs. R Truth
R Truth tried to start off on the offensive, but the power of Wyatt proved too much. He hit Truth with a nasty cross-body off the ropes. While R Truth tried to regain his composure, Wyatt preached to the crowd. He went in the corner and went into his “exorcist” pose. Wyatt finished Truth off with a kiss, and scored the pinfall.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
A promo aired, advertising a re-packaged Epico and Primo as “Los Matadores.” The had silly-looking pink masks on.
3MB vs. The Usos
Jey Uso and Heath Slater kicked things off. Jey finally tagged in Jimmy, and Slater managed to get in Jinder Mahal. Jinder kept control of Jimmy with a series of holds, kicks, and punches. He tagged back in Slater. Slater jawed off to Jey, and then refocused his attack on Jimmy. He punched Jimmy square in the face a few times. Jimmy finally fed off the crowd, and got up to tag in Jey. Jinder Mahal was also tagged in. Jey attacked Mahal in the corner and went for a pin, but Slater broke it up. Jey went flying over the top rope onto Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater outside the ring, and Jimmy tagged him as he went by. Jimmy hit an awesome-looking splash for the win.
Winners: The Usos
Rating: Bad - This match never went anywhere. The action was slow, Heath Slater looked like a doofus the entire time, and I was summarily bored. Thanks for wasting my life, WWE!
The Miz vs. Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett looked SO much better with his beard. Sorry, dude.
Barrett started things off with a side-headlock. Miz pushed Barrett off into the ropes, and tried to take the advantage in the corner. However, Barrett hit Miz with the big boot. Barrett tied Miz up in the ropes, and kicked him right in the skull. The ref started a 10 count. Barrett rolled outside the ring, and pushed Miz back into the ring. He only got a two-count from a pin attempt. Barrett immediately went into a sleeper hold, but Miz managed to work his way back up. Miz went for a sit-down pin, but only got a two-count. The Miz scored with a flying clothesline from off the ropes, then he attacked Barret’s thigh in the corner. Just as he was going for the figure-four leg lock, Barrett fought back with a series of punches. Finally, Miz locked in an awkward-looking figure-four, but Fandango rushed down to the ring and hit him with a top rope leg-drop.
Winner: (none) DQ
Rating: Meh - Match was pretty sloppy, and I felt little-to-no investment in the outcome. I guess I’m supposed to care about Miz vs Fandango, but I don’t. And Barrett deserves better than this. Giant miss all the way around.
Backstage, Brad Maddox informed Stephanie McMahon that building security caught a glimpse of Daniel Bryan.
Closing Segment with The McMahon Family
When RAW returned, Vince and Stephanie were in the ring, and the entire roster was up on the ramp. Triple H made his way down to the ring.
Vince McMahon said he is proud. He’s most proud of his son-in-law who “saw the light.” Triple H took the mic as the audience chanted “You Sold Out!” He told the audience that they’re all short-sighted. He claimed that his SummerSlam actions were about ensuring the future of the company. He said he did it for everybody. The fans, the roster, Vince McMahon, McMahon’s father, his wife, children, everybody. Triple H said he considered Daniel Bryan to be a friend – “Daniel Bryan is a very good little technician.” He even said Bryan deserved to win. But WWE Champion? Face of the WWE? Triple H said that we deserve better than that. We deserve A+.
Triple H referenced Daniel Bryan’s personal problems with himself. He said he didn’t want to throw away Daniel Bryan’s years of blood, sweat, and tears, and he didn’t like it. Still, he buried his personal feelings. Triple H said that he doesn’t care about Daniel Bryan’s personal problems, and that Bryan is simply being selfish. Triple H said he’s going to put aside his personal feelings one more time, and he’s now going to bring out “the face of the WWE,” the new WWE Champion… The Viper Randy Orton!
Orton came out with the WWE Championship over his shoulder. He took the microphone, but basked in the glory before starting to talk. “I told you so.” He sent out a thank-you to Triple H, and said that he owes all of this to Triple H. He asked everyone in the arena to stand and show Triple H the respect he deserves. People booed. Triple H asked Daniel Bryan to come on out and face the music.
Bryan’s music hit, and he walked down to the ring in jeans and a “Fear the Beard” t-shirt Just as he got to the ring apron, The Shield attacked. Roman Reings finalized Daniel Bryan with a vicious-looking spear. The Shield was about to power-bomb Daniel Bryan straight on the mats outisde the ring, but Triple H told them to stop. He encouraged Bryan to get in the ring. As Bryan was entering the ring, Randy Orton hit Bryan with an RKO. The show closed with the McMahons standing over Bryan, looking triumphant.
Rating: Good - Intriguing way to close the show. I’m not convinced by Triple H’s motivation here (#ProWrestlingLogic), but having him explain things a little at least made him seem vindictive. It’s also captivating to see Randy Orton as the bad guy hand-in-hand with the McMahon family. This segment did a lot to put both Triple H and Randy Orton over as heels, and it made Bryan’s quest for the title even more sympathetic. Question, though: since when did The Shield become the McMahon family lackeys?
Final Thoughts: No way this show could match the amazing highs of SummerSlam. Unfortunately, it didn’t even try. There were a few solid segments throughout the night (I’m looking at you, Punk and Heyman). The in-ring action ranged from lackluster to okay. Most disappointing, though, was the lack of energy from the show. SummerSlam should have been the beginning of a fresh, new chapter, but this episode had me falling asleep by the end of hour three.
Thanks for watching along with me! What did you think of tonight’s episode? Sound off in the comments below. Also, be sure to check back with Between the Ropes throughout tomorrow and the rest of the week for more RAW and WWE coverage!