While there was nothing particularly wrong with tonight’s WWE Raw, the show seemed lacking in a few areas. I really enjoyed the focus on in-ring action. However, the show suffered from too many non-finishes, and didn’t offer any “must-see” segments. Here’s the rundown:
Opening Segment w/ Vince McMahon and Brad Maddox: Vince McMahon came out and said that “we’re going to have some fun tonight.” He handed the mic to Maddox, who apologized for his bone-headed decision to let Cena pick his own opponent for SummerSlam. After bringing up what he said last week, McMahon asked Maddox how he really feels about Daniel Bryan… cue Ride of the Valkyries.
Brian came down and confronted McMahon, who immediately sent Brad Maddox away. Daniel Bryan said respect is a two-way street. The crowd chanted “Yes!” and McMahon asked them to behave themselves. Funny. McMahon asked Bryan if he respected Cena, and when Bryan said he did, McMahon told him that Cena didn’t mean any of the nice things he said. “Are you a fool, Daniel Bryan?” McMahon told Bryan he can’t beat Cena, and he can’t even beat Kane tonight. Why? Because he lacks ‘Ruthless Aggression.’
McMahon said he didn’t want Cena winning the title either, because he walks around like he owns the place. In fact, McMahon said the only way anybody wins is if both men burst into spontaneous combustion at SummerSlam. Bryan countered by saying the only thing that matters is what the crowd thinks. They all chanted “Yes!” to the idea of a new champion at SS.
-Solid opening segment. With the idea that McMahon is actually the one who doesn’t want Bryan to win, it seemed odd to hear him badmouth Cena in the same breath. However, it sets up a fair amount of intrigue moving forward, and hints at the idea of an Orton-McMahon alliance.
The Shield def. Mark Henry and The Usos: Isn’t this match a bit premature? Henry started things off, and after dominating Rollins, Roman Reigns was tagged in the match. A little bit of confusion early on as both Henry and (Jey? Jimmy?) attempted to interfere at the same time. Mark Henry was eventually tagged in, and he cleared the ring as the show went to a commercial.
When Raw returned, Roman Reigns was in firm control of Jey Uso. He tagged in Ambrose, who continued to dominate. The match broke down and gave Ambrose the opportunity to hit his finisher, and score the pin. The Shield’s celebration was short-lived, however, when Henry cleaned house and sent the trio running.
-For the record, both Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler confused Jimmy and Jey during the match as well. The match started off slow, but found a groove after the first commercial break. Henry continues to look dominant. On the other hand, The Shield looks less impressive than ever.
Backstage Segment w/ Kane and Brad Maddox: Kane came in looking for The Wyatts, but Maddox said they weren’t there. He suggested that Kane use his match with Daniel Bryan to send a message.
Dolph Ziggler def. Big E Langston via DQ: Big E took a commanding lead, using strength and brute force to dominate Ziggler in the early going. He repeatedly shouted, “Your time is up!” Big E hit a spalsh. Jerry Lawler stupidly asked, “you think Big E thinks Zigglers time is over?” about halfway through the match. After a missed shoulder tackle in the corner, Ziggler started to fight his way back into the match. But just as he tossed Big E over the top rope, AJ entered the ring and attacked Dolph Ziggler, giving him the win via DQ.
BIg E came back in and asked AJ what she was doing. While he had his back turned, Ziggler snuck in the ring and hit the Zig-Zag for a final ounce of satisfaction.
– Mehhhh. I’m not a huge fan of this match ending in DQ immediately after RVD vs. Fandango ended in count out. However, I like the idea that BIg E is too strong for Dolph Ziggler, and like the fact that he had to resort to sneaky tactics to stay in the match.
John Cena and Daniel Bryan backstage segment: Bryan confronted Cena on what McMahon said at the start of the show. Cena acted offended, but Bryan said that McMahon had never lied to him before. Good ongoing tension between these two.
Christian def. Alberto Del Rio: These guys matched up with a lot of energy. Everything that Christian attempted, Del Rio had a response for. Their brawl spilled outside the ring. Del Rio set up Christian against the ring stairs, and drop-kicked his elbow into the steel as Raw went to commercial. After the break, Del Rio stayed in control with his focus still on Christian’s left arm. After putting Christian in the tree-of-woe, Del Rio was on the wrong end of a tornado DDT. Del Rio eventually found his footing, and put Christian down with the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, giving him a two-count. Del Rio called for the enziguri, but missed. When he attempted the cross-armbreaker, Christian rolled it through into a cradle pin for the win.
-Good ring psychology here with Del Rio focusing on Christian’s arm/shoulder, and Christian selling the injury like a champ. I really hate seeing the World Heavyweight Champion lose on such a consistent basis… on the other hand, I love seeing Christian in this mid-card winning streak. Plus, these two put together one heck of a fun match.
Cody Rhodes def. Wade Barrett: Rhodes looked solid in this outing. He hit a spectacular moonsault off the top-rope onto Wade Barrett, and fought with Barrett through a series of kicks. Just as Barrett attempted a pump-handle slam, Rhodes reversed it into a Cross-Rhodes for the win.
After the match, Sandow came out and said that he had registered a complaint about Rhodes tossing his briefcase in the gulf. He told Rhodes that he comes from a “family of clowns,” and said he doesn’t lower himself to carny standards. “You’re welcome.”
– Serviceable match, but I like the story with Rhodes here. This win gives him credibility moving forward. Plus, Sandow saying that he registered a complaint with WWE management perfect sets-up a potential Money in the Bank Briefcase match at SummerSlam.
Daniel Bryan def. Kane: Bryan kicked things off with a flying knee. Michael Cole announced early that a victory here would make Kane the number one contender following SummerSlam (does this mean that if Kane wins, we can preemptively consider Bryan as a non-winner?). After a couple of chin-locks, Bryan turned the momentum his way, giving Kane a hurricanrana to the outside of the ring.
After the commercial, Bryan nailed Kane with a missile-dropkick from the top rope. He delivered a total of three drop-kicks to Kane. Kane fought his way back in, hitting Bryan with a side-slam. As Kane went for the chokeslam, Bryan reversed it into a “Yes-Lock” attempt, which Kane powered out of. As Kane went for another chokeslam, Bryan caught Kane around the head, and wrapped him up into a small package for the pinfall.
-Fun match between these two. The added stipulation that Kane would be number one contender if he won here really kept my interest perked. I’d love to see a whole series of matches between Kane and Bryan.
After the match, The Wyatt Family came out to confront Kane. Kane attempted to run outside the ring and immediately attack Bray Wyatt, but the numbers game got to him early. Bray Wyatt demanded his henchmen pick Kane back up so he could lay him out with his finisher. Wyatt said that Kane is “no demon.” He got into his prayer stance, and yelled out “Follow the buzzard!”
Curtis Axel vs. R Truth ends in count-out: Heyman cut a promo before the match on Brock Lesnar, and promised that Lesnar would end the career of Punk at SummerSlam. Axel claimed to be “more perfect that perfect.”
Axel struggled in the early going, as R Truth hit a spinning elbow and a high leg kick. Axel took back over as CM Punk chants erupted through the area. As if on cue, Punk dragged Axel out of the ring and threw him into the barricade. Just as Punk got his hands on Heyman, Axel came in to save the day. This provided enough of a distraction for Heyman to escape.
McMahon Family Backstage Segment: Triple H called Vince out for pulling Brad Maddox’s strings. Vince said he just wanted somebody, anybody, who could beat Cena, and he didn’t think Bryan is capable of doing it. After a brief chide over age, Stephanie suggested that Bryan might possibly need a corporate makeover. Really?
Cena def. Ryback in a tables match: Cena and Ryback took their fight outside the ring early on. Ryback attempted to hit Cena with a table, but instead hit the ringpost, and smashed his woodchip filler in half (impressive? not really). After the awkwardly-placed commercial, Ryback led Cena to the assembly of tables surrounding the entrance ramp. He threw Cena into the steel stairs. Cena eventually countered, and pulled out another table from beneath the ring as Michael Cole pondered aloud, “is there any strategy to this match?”
Cena stupidly decided that it made the most sense to take Ryback back into the ring and put him into an STF. Ryback escaped, went under the ring, and popped out to hit Cena with a Goldberg-looking sphere. Just as Cena was getting ready to hit Ryback with an AA through a precariously hedged table, Ryback fought out with a series of elbows to Cena’s face. Ryback and Cena both grabbed a set of steel-stairs, and engaged in a standoff.
In the ring, Ryback set up a table in the corner before hitting Cena with a meat-hook clothesline. When he attempted another, Cena scooped him up for an AA, and threw him through the table for the win.
After the match, Bryan came down to the ring to a series of “Yes!” chants. He took the WWE title and taunted John Cena, before Cena snatched it from his hands. The show ended with both men staring at each other in the ring.
-Good, fun brawl to close the show. I’m glad that WWE brought down Daniel Bryan for one more face-to-face confrontation. I also like the role Bryan plays here as the smirky contender. Ryback got buried again, but does anybody really care at this point?
Rob Van Dam def. Fandango via count-out: RVD took control early. He tossed Fandango outside the ring, and hit a sweet reverse moonsault from the apron. Fandango got a quick kick from the outside, which gave him the opening to take over. It was short-lived, however, as RVD used a series of kicks, and the rolling thunder, to keep things in hand. Fandango decided he’d had enough, and left the ring to suffer a count-out loss.
-RVD looked impressive here, but not much else seemed noteworthy. Also, these count-outs are great for cheap heat, but they do serious damage to Fandango’s credibility. This segment was stuck in first gear.
Kaitlyn def. AJ: Slow start here. Both of these ladies struggled to find a rhythm, and what little bit of back-and-forth there was just looked sloppy. Punches, kicks, arm-bars, and near-falls, but none of it ever sold. Also, AJ was wayyyy too obvious in whispering to Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn hit a surprise sphere to get the victory.
After the match, Dolph Ziggler came out and said that AJ and Big E could cry on each other’s shoulders. He challenged “E” to an improteau match.
Natalya vs. Bri Bella: This feud was sparked by some comment about Natalya being ugly or something, I’m not really sure because I wasn’t terribly invested. Natalya looked dominant here early on, but Bri took back over about halfway through. Unfortunately, the match slowed down to a snail’s pace. Also, every submission move Bri applied looked awkward, and the crowd was completely dead. Natalya finally hit a tilt-a-whirl slam to get back in. Nikki Bella came out with a duck call to provide the distraction, and give Bri the win. Still, I could care less.