The future of Raw: Curtis Axel – Source: http://www.youtube.com
Let’s make it snappy. I watched an hour of Raw last night before I fell asleep. I caught up with the rest when I woke up this morning. I took notes while I did. Here are my thoughts:
The show opened up with a silly vignette about Memorial Day. It’s that time of year again. The patriotism was a little sickening, but it wasn’t as short as usual, which was good.
After the formalities of the troop worship, we moved on to the opening segment. John Cena gave an excellent promo in the ring. The crowd were hating on him at first, which is commonplace anywhere where educated fans can be found. In Montreal, he isn’t that loved. However, he turned the crowd with a classic cheap pop for Bret Hart. No matter what people say, he knows what he is doing when working with the fans. There was some great improvisation throughout and it set up a match for Payback between him and Ryback: Three Stages of Hell.
The first fall will be a lumberjack match, the second will be a tables match and the third an ambulance match. So Ryback will get his wish, if he can win one of those first two falls. Now that’s an effective promo! It ticks all necessary boxes. Ryback then came out and interrupted for a generic heel response from the top of the ramp. It was short and not very impressive. The next man out was Paul Heyman, to a surprisingly big pop. He put over Curtis Axel as expected and suggested a match between him and Cena at the end of the show. Cena accepted. Axel will now face another thirteen time World Champion for the second straight week since joining the Raw roster. One hell of a push.
Big E. Langston v Alberto Del Rio
A rematch between these two from last week. AJ accidentally costs her henchman the match on this occasion, when trying to screw Del Rio. There seems to be a bit of tension between these two.
Kane tried to reassure Daniel Bryan in the locker room and stop him obsessing over the whole ‘weak link’ thing, but to no avail. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart stepped in and delivered an inspirational speech which was greeted more than warmly by the Canadian crowd. Kane was sad that his reassuring didn’t work, but at least Bryan had calmed down. Of course he will listen to Bret Hart!
Dean Ambrose (c) v Kofi Kingston (for the United States Championship)
Ambrose picked up the clean win over Kofi in this very solid rematch. Kofi’s clause must not have been used up by that DQ finish last time, but his chances are certainly up now.
The Shield (c) v Team Hell No (for the WWE Tag-Team Championships)
In part two of Extreme Repeat, Bryan and Kane also got a shot at retaining their tag titles in probably the best match of the night. Some absolutely incredible wrestling was delivered as expected by these four. Bryan’s typical flurries of outlandish offense were interspersed with surfboards, superplexes and spin kicks. Spectacular athleticism all round. A load of near falls and an abundance of passion made this match very enthralling. Rollins got the pin on Kane after Bryan had given up a perfect opportunity to double team by diving to the outside toward Reigns, only to be speared. Outstanding match!
Roman Reigns towering over Daniel Bryan – Source: pl.wwe.com
Cole and Co gave us an update on Triple H. Neurological tests have come back normal. He was advised not to appear at Raw, but he is expected to be back next week. Good news! Is he gonna be wrestling at every pay-per-view now? I don’t have a problem with that.
Fandango v Wade Barrett
The voters on the WWE app (I miss the app so much) made The Miz the Special Guest Referee for the match. Not surprisingly, since the other options were Announcer and Commentator. Fandango won this short match. It was short, but developed their little triangle some more. Barrett pushed The Miz when he had tried to get between the two of them, so Miz hit him with the Skullcrushing Finale. After counting the win for Fandango, he kicked him in the head and counted his shoulders down as Summer Rae fell on top of him. This was entertaining, and I’m excited to see where all of this will go.
Short Michaels gave John Cena a short pep talk backstage. I guess he was there for the Bret Hart Appreciation Night. It would have been cool to see those two together.
The Great Khali & Tons of Funk v 3MB
This match didn’t make me angry because it was so short, so it didn’t really cost any good wrestlers a spot. This match-up was just so shit that it can’t be bad, it’s just funny. After the Match Khali tried to sing Happy Birthday to Canada’s own Natalya. Wouldn’t this have been a better job for Bret?
Chris Jericho invited Paul Heyman onto his Highlight Reel. Heyman took credit for handing Chris his first big break in the business, cutting him off before he had the chance to try and par him off. Y2J just responded with “You still owe me money” – Nice. Heyman just proceeded to put over Curtis Axel again, before Jericho brought him back to the topic of his other client CM Punk. Paul said there will be an announcement within the next few weeks on Raw involving Punk and himself. Jericho suggested that he and Punk face each other at Payback and Heyman accepted on Punk’s behalf. This was a great promo all round and set up another match for the next show. Heyman’s work was as consistently great as ever. The crowd didn’t seem that into this segment, and I have no idea why. Great work!
Kaitlin & Natalya v The Bella Twins
I skipped this match because even the thought of it bored me, sorry. I did pause half way through just because Kaitlin’s outfit caught my eye, but I quickly continued skipping. Very nice outfit though, very nice.
Bret Hart tried to give another motivational speech, this time to Curtis Axel. He told him not to trust Paul Heyman, just like everyone else does. He jumps to Heyman’s defence and tells Bret not to think he knows him, just because he knew his father Mr. Perfect.
There was a great promo vignette played for the Wyatt Family from NXT. They will soon be joining the Raw roster, which is amazing news. They are a fantastic stable and should make brilliant additions to the show. Now Husky Harris can join Ryback and Curtis Axel on the list of repackaged Nexus stars at the top on Raw.
Celtic Vipers v Rhodes Scholars
I skipped the Divas match, but not this one. Where is the logic in that? This match could have been a classic, but I’d never have known. I barely paid attention, and this wasn’t at 3am, this was at around 3pm today when I caught up on the show. Everything involving Orton and Sheamus just makes me want to turn off immediately. There was an awesome sign in the crowd which caught my attention far more than the action in the ring. It said “You are a heel. Boo!’ Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Sandow for the win, in what was a decent enough match from what I noticed.
Cena hitting one of few moves on Curtis Axel – Source: http://www.wwe.fr
John Cena v Curtis Axel
The guy with the awesome sign from before must have been a bit of a maverick because he broke out an equally awesome one to greet Cena after his entrance. It said “You are a face. Yay!” Curtis Axel came to the ring and dominated most of the offense of this match. I guess we were all waiting for the classic Super-Cena comeback. The crowd were looking away from the ring behind them for half of the match. I have no idea what they were looking at, but that didn’t help things at all. I thought it was The Shield at first, but they just carried on and they were cheering at something – but it wasn’t this match. The cameraman kept switching to close-up angles so we wouldn’t notice – lame.
Axel shone throughout the match, hitting some great moves. He was even rocking the old school Fist Drop, which was crazy. Shades of Jerry Lawler. Cena could learn a thing or two from this rookie. He could certainly learn how to properly execute a fisherman hook suplex from him. I learned that much from this match. The ambulance then came out and Cena approached it, only to be attacked by Ryback from behind, like an idiot. After the little almost-fracas from those two, Curtis Axel celebrated his second straight win against a 13 time World Champion, in the ring.
What a solid edition of Raw. Two great title matches. Two excellent matches booked for Payback. Lots of development, lots of great wrestling and lots of brilliant promos. Even a couple of surprise appearances. What more could you really ask for? It wasn’t the best episode I’ve ever seen, but it was very, very good.