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RAW comes to you LIVE from Chicago tonight, and features the return of “The Best in The World,” CM Punk. Not only that, the WWE locker room has shown growing signs of unrest over the past few weeks, so Triple H and Stephanie McMahon have promised to address the situation publicly. Plus, with only two more weeks until WWE Battleground, fans can expect Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton to lock horns as they build towards their WWE Championship match.
Show opened up with a tribute to Angelo Savoldi, who recently passed at 90 years old. Vince McMahon says, “They don’t make ‘em like they used too…”
Live Show Opening Segment, featuring WWE Locker Room
Members of the WWE Locker Room stood on stage with a microphone front and center. Triple H’s classic music hit, and both he and Stephanie walked out to the ring. Michael Cole brought up the gauntlet match from Friday Night Smackdown, and discussed how Triple H was being fair…
Triple H talked about how the superstars lifted Daniel Bryan over their head last week as RAW came to a close. Triple H clarified that he had asked them all to be there, just to say… and Stephanie said “Thank you, for taking matters into your own hands. For finally being MEN.” Triple H got back on the mic and thanked the superstars for stepping up as well.
RVD Interrupted him – “Come on, Dude.” He admitted that they were ALL fighting for Daniel Bryan. Rob Van Dam said that they knew Triple H would do the same thing to them. Triple H countered, and said he was surprised that all the superstars were fighting for one man in Daniel Bryan. He asked if that meant Daniel Bryan deserved another title shot at Battleground. Stephanie McMahon asked R Truth when the last time HE had a championship shot was, or asked if maybe he deserved to be the face of the WWE. Does Daniel Bryan deserve it more than them? Triple H said the reason the superstars were so frustrated was not because of Daniel Bryan, it was because of… The Shield.
Triple H offered to give every person standing at the top of the ramp an opportunity to finally get their revenge on The Shield. He said that they were all going to compete in a handicapped elimination match against The Shield later in the night.. and they are all going to have a partner. A guy who, according to Triple H, thinks he’s “better than you”: Daniel Bryan. The first ever eleven-on-three handicap match.
Stephanie McMahon also wanted to thank the WWE Universe, so she’s giving the fans a chance to pick Randy Orton’s opponent for the night. The fans broke out in a CM Punk chant. Unfortunately, she only offered R Truth, Dolph Ziggler, or Rob Van Dam as possible choices, and the fans booed. Triple H said, “What’s best for you is what’s best for business,” and gestured to the crowd.
Segment Rating: Good - I’m digging the “we’re playing to the crowd, but still actually being heel” personas that Triple H and Stephanie have adopted. Segments like this only make the fans hate them even more. I also like how Triple H is trying to turn EVERYBODY against Daniel Bryan, and I’m curious to see how Bryan responds later in the night…
Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio
Michael Cole said this is an “incredible opportunity” for Kofi Kingston.
Both men tied up to start the match. They fought into the corner, and the ref broke it up. Kingston bounced Del Rio off the ropes, but Del Rio countered. Kingston eventually clothes-lined Del Rio over the top rope. He followed it up with a sweet front-moonsault to the outside. Kingston pushed Del Rio back inside the ring, and maintained a short advantage before Del Rio took back over with a few strong kicks.
Del Rio hit Kingston with a suplex and went for a quick pin, but Kingston kicked out after a one-count. Del Rio continued the abuse by stranging Kingston on the bottom rope. He kicked Kofi Kingston square in the face, and the fans booed. Kingston tried to fight back in with a series of right-handed punches, and eventually sent Del Rio to the outside again with a drop-kick. Alberto Del Rio ran to the timekeepers area as RAW went to commercial…
Back from the break, and Del Rio was in firm control. Inside the ring Del Rio locked Kingston’s arm up behind his head. Kingston tried to fight back in, but Del Rio continued his assault on the left arm. Kingston tried to sneak back in with a quick roll-up, but Del Rio kicked out after two.
Del Rio eventually went to the top rope, but Kingston caught him with a drop-kick on the way back down. He hit Del Rio with a series of his signature chest-slaps. Kingston scored with an SOS, and the ref counted 1… 2… kick-out! Kofi Kingston hit the boom drop. Del Rio got up and countered with a German Suplex, but Kingston still kicked out after a two-count.
Alberto Del Rio called for his arm-breaker. When he went for the tilt-a-whirl, Kingston countered with a ddt. He attempted the pinfall, but Del Rio still kicked out. Back on their feet, Del Rio kneed Kingston’s arms, and then locked in the cross arm-breaker. Kofi Kingston quickly tapped out.
Winner by Submission: Alberto Del Rio
Rating: Good - Things started of slow, slow, sllllllooooowwww. Luckily, both men picked up the pace, and the last few minutes were quite a bit of fun. Good decision here with the Champion winning soundly.
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed The Miz. She showed footage from last week where Randy Orton demolished The Miz in front of his family. Triple H walked on screen and said that he can’t let The Miz anywhere near Randy Orton tonight. But on the other hand, he’s going to let The Miz host Miz TV with guest Big Show. Miz looked on with shifty eyes.
Prime Time Players vs. The Wyatt Family
Luke Harper quickly locked up Darren Young, but Young Escaped. Harper tagged in Rowan (or, Goat Face). Rowan slowly removed his creepy, creepy mask. Rowan hit Young with a quick elbow-drop, then leveraged Young up in the corner. He tagged Harper back in, who refused to let Young get to his own corner. Harper covered Young, but only got a two-count.
Harper and Young exchanged tags while continuing the assault. Out of nowhere the lights dimmed, and Michael Cole said that “while the Wyatts are in the ring, the lights are known to go off.” Uh, I don’t think so….
Finally, Young tagged Titus O’Neil in, and O’Neil errupted. He took out Rowan, but turned around and was nailed with a serious clothesline from Harper. Harper covered him for the pin 1, 2, 3.
Winners: Harper and Rowan, the Wyatt Family
After the match, Young tended to O’Neil. Bray Wyatt jumped in the ring and assaulted both men. He kneeled down before them, and said “Follow the Buzzard!”
Rating: Meh - I really need to work on a more consistent rating system, especially with stuff like this. It really was just a meh moment – if I felt like either team had more direction, it might be different. As it is, teams just pick up wins and losses on a weekly basis with… no real story buy-in. And the ring work was just okay.
Miz TV with Big Show
A clip showed Miz getting beat down by Randy Orton on last week’s RAW. The Miz took a microphone and promised revenge against Randy Orton.
The Big Show came down to the ring. Miz asked Show how he could knock out Dusty Rhodes – somebody who had been a mentor, and a father figure, to him. Miz said that Triple H and Stephanie are trying to break Show. He said that the WWE superstars are starting to step up, and its time for Big Show to step-up as well. He called her a “castrating witch.” Suddenly, Stephanie McMahon’s music hit…
Stephanie said she’s going to let a lot of what Miz said slide. She told The Miz he was using slander. She accused The Miz of living in his own “cul-de-sac of disappointment.” Funny. She further demoralized The Miz, and accused him of being a superstar who “peaked too early.” She called him a utility player, and listed off a number of instances where secondary superstars make appearances – like early morning radio shows, or far off grocery store openings. Stephanie said that by losing to Orton last week, Miz failed his family, and himself.
Stephanie turned to Big Show and said, “Big Show – Knock him out!” Big Show complied without a hesitation. The Miz laid sprawled out in the middle of the ring to close the segment…
Rating: Good - I like it. Stephanie used The Miz’s ongoing secondary-status as further heel fodder. Kudos to The Miz for playing his role perfectly here, and props to both Show and Stephanie for selling the segment so well. Small, ongoing story segments like this make a whole show worth watching.
Back from the commercial, and we’re ready for Randy Orton’s match against his opponent as decided on by the WWE App…
Randy Orton vs…. ROB VAN DAM
Michael Cole said that “this is gonna be fun.” Maybe? Maybe Not…
Van Dam started off the match with his “RVD” chant. Randy Orton was not amused, and started the assault on Orton. Randy Orton rolled outside the ring to take a breather. Both men scrapped around inside the ring, but Orton took control back outside as RAW went to commercial…
Back from the break, Randy Orton had RVD caught in a chin-lock. Van Dam used momentum from the crowd to fight back into things. He knocked Orton down with a series of kicks, and followed it up with a rolling thunder. He only earned a two-count on the subsequent pin attempt. In the corner he attempted a split-leg moonsault, but Orton rolled outside the ring. Randy Orton got back in and hit RVD with his “vintage Orton” move.
Orton smacked his hands on the mat and called for his finisher. Just as he was attempting an RKO, Van Dam blocked it, and countered with a kick of his own. He went to the top rope and knocked a standing Orton down with a front flip. Just as he was crawling to the top rope, Randy Orton kicked him straight onto the turnbuckle. He then kicked RVD over to the outside.
Orton rolled outside, and the ref started his 10-count. Randy Orton tossed Van Dam around like a rag doll. As the ref approached 8, Orton ripped off the guard rail padding, and dropped RVD onto the exposed barricade. The ref counted 10 and called for the bell.
Match ends in count-out
After the match, Orton continued his assault on Van Dam. He punished Van Dam into the steel stairs. Orton hit RVD with a series of punches, then slammed him into another set of steel stairs. Van Dam laid helpless outside the ring. Orton picked him up and tossed him over the announce table, then carried him back inside the ring. Fans booed. Randy Orton put RVD on the top turnbuckle, then DDTed him straight onto the mat. Some fans booed, some fans clapped.
Rating: Good - Just not “great.” I enjoyed what little bit of the match there was (that is, what wasn’t on the WWE App during the commercial break). I’m also okay with the DQ finish, as it protects RVD while giving Randy Orton a way to look tough. My question is, how many more beat downs is Rob Van Dam going to suffer? I wish they’d let him earn a victory here or there…
Los Matadores LIVE next Monday on Raw! Yeah…
During the commercial break, Alberto Del Rio apparently attacked RVD even more. Poor guy.
Backstage, Randy Orton confronted Brie Bella about his beat down of RVD, and promised to do the same to Daniel Bryan. Brie seemed unfazed.
Fandango vs. Santino Marella
The match started off with a terrible Santino dance-move. Fandango was having none of that nonsense, and immediately started his beat-down on Marella. Marella tried to jump back up, but failed in a spectacular fashion. Fandango tossed Santino into the turnbuckle solidly. A Summer Rae chant broke out, and unsurprisingly, Jerry Lawler offered to join in…
Fandango hit Santino with a clothesline, then continued his assault on the ropes. He locked in an abdominal stretch on Santino. Fandango fought his way back out and nailed his flying headbutt. He pulled out the cobra. Unfortunately, the distraction by Summer Rae proved too much, and Fandango took the advantage. He scored with his finisher from the top rope. Pinfall, 3-count, and the win.
Rating: (none) - Uh, yeah, whatever.
CM Punk Segment
Crowd went CRAZY for CM Punk’s music. He entered wearing a Chicago Blackhawks jersey. Michael Cole announced that CM Punk vs Ryback had been made official for Battleground.
CM Punk came out and said that the fans in Chicago know how to ruin a bad mood. He said this is the first time he’s smiled in a week. He also said that he tried to get the Stanley Cup there in Chicago tonight, but it was away being engraved. He then apologized for letting everybody down at Night of Champions. He said he isn’t sure if he can do this anymore.
Then, Punk told the story of the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions how the Blackhawks took it to a seven-game series. He said he’s proud of this city, proud of these people, and even though he let everybody down, he’s going to GO INTO OVERTIME AND WIN. He said he wants to fight. He doesn’t care if it’s Curtis Axel, or Ryback, or Paul Heyman…
Paul Heyman came out to rain on CM Punk’s parade. He sang a song about being the best in the world. Punk said that Heyman is about to catch a bigger beating than he did at Night of Champions. Punk said that they’re in Chicago, and he has about 18,000 people willing to bail him out of jail when he gets his hands on Heyman.
Heyman said he’s been confined to a scooter because of CM Punk’s actions. But, he said he takes solace in the fact that he can walk through life claiming a victory over CM Punk. He said it’s not Punk’s fault – it’s geography. Punk is from Chicago, the second city. Second place teams, second place citizens, second place parents… and the second best in the world. He then showed a picture of his pinfall victory over Punk at Night of Champions.
Punk threatened to rip Paul Heyman’s face off. Heyman said that not only did he beat CM Punk, he did so with both hands tied behind his back. “And with that, I bid you all a fare aideu…”
Paul Heyman tried to leave, but found the battery on his scooter dead. Punk seized the opportunity. He ran up the ramp to assault Paul Heyman, but just as he reached Heyman, Curtis Axel and Ryback attacked from the shadows. Punk tried to fight back, but to no avail. Axel took Punk to the top of the ramp, but Punk reversed an Irish Whip, and sent Axel flying into the RAW tron screen. Ryback and Axel eventually got the best of CM Punk. Ryback picked CM Punk up, then stood up on a crate, and sent Punk flying through a table.
Ryback took a microphone. He said, “This is what happens to bullies.” Funny.
Rating: Good - Great way to re-introduce Punk with a red hot crowd. Chicago fans couldn’t get enough. I’m also glad that Ryback got physical with Punk again, as it ups the ante for their match at Battleground. Hopefully these two can put together something fun.
After the commercial break, doctors tended to CM Punk. Total Divas entered the ring for a ten-diva tag match.
Ten Divas Tag-Match
Alicia Fox and Natalya kicked things off. Natalya tagged Brie in, and Alicia tagged AJ Lee in. Brie hit AJ with an X-Factor, then covered AJ for the pin. 1, 2… 3!
Winners: The Total Divas
I’m not rating that last…segment? Whatever it is.
Daniel Bryan came out ready for the handicap match.
Daniel Bryan Segment
Daniel Bryan complained about being stripped of the WWE Championship. He joked about having been in cahoots with the referee at Night of Champions. He said that it wouldn’t make sense for him to tell the ref to count fast whenever Randy Orton was obviously already knocked out. He then said he doesn’t know what happened at Night of Champions, and he doesn’t really care. It doesn’t matter what Randy Orton shows up at Battleground. Because, in two weeks, Daniel Bryan promised to take back his WWE Championship! He said that in Buffalo, there will be no more hiding. Whenever all “their” plans fail, Orton will hear one word over, and over, and over… “Yes!”
The Shield’s music hit, and they made their way to the ring for the handicap match…
Suddenly, out of no where, two men jumped the barricade to attack The Shield – Cody Rhodes and Goldust! Security dragged them out, but The Shield looked distraught. RAW went to it’s
WWE App break commercial break.
11 on 3 Handicap Match
Jimmy Uso and Seth Rollins kicked things off. Eventually, Jimmy tagged in Dolph Ziggler, and Dean Ambrose was tagged in. They isolated Dolph Ziggler in their own corner. Finally Ziggler broke free and hit RVD for the tag.
Rob Van Dam laid the smackdown on Dean Ambrose with a series of kicks and punches. He was taped up from the beat-down earlier in the night, and Ambrose was able to hit RVD with his finisher. The ref counted the pinfall, 1, 2, 3.
Eliminated: Rob Van Dam
After a commercial break, Kofi Kingston was in firm control. Rollins tagged in Dean Ambrose, who started the beat down on Kofi Kingston. Kingston was able to fly off the top rope and hit Ambrose with a cross-body. Ambrose focused on Kingston’s injured arm. He was able to hit Kingston with his finisher, and score the three-count.
Eliminated: Kofi Kingston
Titus O’Neil quickly entered the ring, but Ambrose tagged in Seth Rollins. Rollins was shortly dominated before Rollins tagged in Roman Reigns. After a brief brawl, Reigns scored with a spear against Titus O’Neil.
Eliminated: Titus O’Neil
Justin Gabriel entered the match for about 30 seconds, before being hit with a spear and taking the pinfall.
Eliminated: Justin Gabriel
Zack Ryder scored a little bit of offense. He beat Reigns into the corner and set him up for the broski boot, but just as he was calling for it, Reigns popped out of the corner and hit Ryder with a spear. He covered Zack Ryder to score the elimination.
Eliminated: Zack Ryder
Daniel Bryan ran in the match and scored with a series of kicks. The crowd worked itself into a frenzy. When Roman Reigns was knocked out, Bryan tagged in Jimmy Uso, who went to the top rope and scored with a splash. Reigns was unable to answer the three-count.
Eliminated: Roman Reigns
After another commercial break, Rollins and Darren Young were engaged in a lockup. Rollins found his way back to his own corner, and Dean Ambrose was tagged in. Ambrose tried to take the upper-hand over Darren Young. However, Darren Young stayed in control, and hit Ambrose with a suplex. When Youn tried to score with a pinfall, Ambrose got a sneak tag into Rollins, who went to the top rope and hit Young with his finisher.
Eliminated: Darren Young
Next in was Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler got a little momentum his was, but Ambrose was quickly tagged in. Ambrose delivered with a series of punches and kicks. Still, it wasn’t enough to keep Dolph Ziggler down, who hit the Zig-Zag and scored a pin.
Eliminated: Dean Ambrose
Rollins came in and tried to isolate Dolph Ziggler in the corner. However, Ziggler fought back, and was abel to hit Rollins with a huge DDT. After that, Ziggler made his way back to the team and tagged R Truth in.
Truth got some solid offense against Rollins. He hit Rollins with a front suplex, but Rollins got up and delivered a boot to the head of Truth. He covered R Truth, who was unable to kick out before the referee counted three.
Eliminated: R Truth
The four men on Daniel Bryan’s team conferred with one another, before deciding to attack Seth Rollins simultaneously. With all four men in the ring at one time, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns rushed down to help out Seth Rollins. After a brief distraction, Bryan was able to get the upper hand against Seth Rollins. He scored with his running-knee finisher, and the crowd went crazy. Bryan covered Rollins 1… 2… 3!
Winner: Daniel Bryan’s Team
Rating: Good - I liked it. It might not have been the greatest segment of all time, but I like the balance between giving The Shield a little bit of offense while still protecting your major players in this feud (mostly Bryan, The Usos, and Ziggler). I think this still gives creative places to go without completely ignoring any forward momentum. The rapid-fire eliminations from Reigns was probably my favorite part. Overall, good stuff.
Final Thoughts - Nothing revolutionary about tonight’s WWE Raw. There were a few fun surprises (the Cody Rhodes/Goldust assault comes to mind), and the in-ring action was good enough. Was it a Chicago worthy show? Unfortunately not. Was it at least a good episode of RAW? Yeah, I think so.