Punk and Lesnar face off on excellent Monday Night Raw


OVERVIEW: I USED THE MARQUEE NAMES IN THE HEADLINE FOR OBVIOUS REASONS, BUT THERE WAS A MATCH ON THIS SHOW THAT COMPLETELY STOLE IT. ROB VAN DAM AND CHRIS JERICHO HAD A SIMPLY INCREDIBLE MATCH, THAT TOTALLY OVERSHADOWED THE LESNAR/PUNK SEGMENT. OVERALL, IT WAS AN EXCELLENT SHOW. READ ON TO FIND OUT MORE

lesnarpunkPunk and Lesnar brawl on the outside – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Thanks for checking out this week’s review of Monday Night Raw on The Real Mid Card. Because of a high workload with Birmingham 2022 heating up, I wasn’t able to stay up and watch Raw last night. I’m watching it right now, my notepad is absent and I’m typing frantically to keep up with proceedings off the bat. Starting next week, I will be back to my usual regiment and ready to provide an in-depth overview of the shows. For now, here goes. Lets try and do this.

The show opened with Brad Maddox in the ring. He offered John Cena the chance to choose his challenger for Summerslam. Randy Orton came out and issued veiled threats about his cashing in. Fandango’s music hit to a fanfare of noise from the very hot Brooklyn crowd. You can tell they are going to be on their game for this one as always. He interrupted Orton, which The Viper didn’t take well. Maddox booked them in a match. In front of this crowd, it was always gonna be another face/heel opposite reaction night.

Randy Orton v Fandango You knew this match would be interesting, for the crowd if nothing else.They once again came through with their eclectic choice of chants: “Randy Savage”, “JBL” and I’m pretty sure I heard “One more match” – None of them were relevant to the in-ring performance. Some may say it’s disrespectful. I think it’s fun and hilarious. Fandango actually dominated the match for large parts, but Orton got back into it with an excellent T-Bone suplex, and an even more perfect top rope superplex. The smart marks in the crowd can boo all they want, Orton is a fantastic wrestler. Just because WWE have booked him as Cena #2 for the last few years doesn’t mean he isn’t great. To his credit, by the end of the match he had the majority of the crowd going absolutely ballistic for him, and so they should. Brilliant match and excellent performance from Orton. He got the win with the RKO.

Dolph finally kicked AJ to the curb in a backstage segment – “We’re done” I dread to think what that crazy bitch is going to do to get back at him, but it should be entertaining.

Then Mark Henry came to the ring and got on the mic. “You tapped out” chants rang through the arena, which was very unexpected. He struck back by saying “He would have tapped each and every one of you out too!” which was epic. He said he wanted to be the choice for Summerslam, but business majorly picked up. The Shield came out. Finally they are back to their beatdowns, back in their element. Henry chose to stay and fight, as they all do. Is he turning face? After a spirited fightback, the jackals beat his ass down!They hit him with the triple powerbomb, to a chorus of “Holy shit!” chants.

Then we caught up with Brad Maddox and Chris Jericho in the office. People hate Maddox cause he botched the one promo they ever put him in, but I think he has a future. He is pretty funny and he is definitely charismatic. He looks better in a suit on the mic, than he does in the ring anyway. He made another brilliant move and booked Chris Jericho v Rob Van Dam for later in the night. The crowd went absolutely crazy, and Y2J sold the match to the heavens. Big time excitement!

Alberto Del Rio v Dolph Ziggler Rematch from the PPV without the title, and they expected me to be hyped for this? I still expected it to be an entertaining match though. Maddox booked it at the very top of the show. Dolph was pretty aggressive in the early going, laying a serious beatdown to Del Rio, until he got the back body drop over the top rope. He flew so high in the air, got some serious hangtime and fell straight on his knee. Then he got the same thing inside the ring, but moments later was hitting a tornado DDT from the top rope. “Great guts” from the tenacious Ziggler, to quote Michael Cole. Dolph looked set to win this gruelling match, when my questions over AJ Lee were answered.

She rang the bell from ringside, which distracted and confused everyone, just as Dolph was going for the cover. The match was called off and Del Rio attacked him from behind. Then she crept into the ring with that deranged predator expression on her face. She began slapping the hell out of Ziggler. He should have hit the bitch with a DDT. Then Big E came down and neutralized the situation with his big power move. This could be the start of a very interesting feud, but I just don’t get why they won’t leave Dolph in the title picture for longer than five minutes. AJ laughed as the two of them left her former boyfriend lying motionless in the ring. As she walked up the ramp, I couldn’t tell if she was laughing or crying. Craaaazy.

As the show went to break, we were notified that Cena would make his Summerslam choice later in the show. If it’s anyone other than Bryan, these fans will riot.

R-Truth came down and did his hilarious rap schtick. I find it entertaining when it’s a rarity. He then shouted “Brooklyn, New York” but before he could finish his thing, The Wyatt Family came out. They are doing the vignette/dark lantern entrance every time it seems. I’m very glad because it’s incredible. As I predicted, they are going to be used in the same way as The Shield were, with random attacks on one guy at once. I just hope it isn’t always mid-carders like Kane and R-Truth. As long as it progresses, and Bray ends up in big matches, I won’t complain.

Things took a more positive turn when Bray got in the ring and jumped on the mic. He delivered a very good first Raw promo, building on the ideas they ran so well with in NXT. Big props to all three of them, and their incredible beards and outfits.Then stupid Truth got up on the apron and said he wanted Bray. The other guys left the ring so they could sucker him into an even harder beating, and let Bray hit his awesome finisher on him. On the whole, I was very pleased with this segment.

wyatttruthWyatt Family attack on Truth – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

The Real Americans v The Usos Zeb Colter came out and laid into the “melting pot” of America with his usual epic racism. He then urged Cena to do something good and actually choose a real American for a job opportunity. I thought that was pretty funny. Jerry Lawler botched their name by calling them “We the people” when he announced who their opponents would be, decided on the app: The Usos.

Swagger and Cesaro dominated early on, with power moves and smart quick tags. Whenever the “We the people” chant came out, the crowd were fully joining in. You can tell you’re in an educated town when that kind of shit is going on. Cesaro tried to display his raw strength for a second time with the gutwrench, but got rolled up and defeated. I’m loving this mini-push that The Usos are getting right now.

Damien Sandow v Christian Sandow came out with briefcase in hand, to a silent crowd. Whatever momentum he had has clearly gone, even with a hardcore crowd like this. A select few marks cheered but he seemed dead, and not in the good heel way. Really poor choice of winner. How do they change my mind? Have him job to Christian the night after he wins it. He did save himself a bit with this hilarious announcement after the match though: “And still you’re intellectual saviour of Money in the Bank” Then Cody came out suited up and laid down an aggressive attack. He got a huge pop and a huge “Cody” chant. It’s his time damnit!

Then we were treated to an absolutely amazing 1-800 Fella advert. I’m not at all sure what these are trying to do, other than randomly build Sheamus for no reason, but they are hilarious. They actually make me like Sheamus again. So good!

Naomi v Brie Bella Michael Cole described this match as “very interesting” – I find anything that involves Brie Bella as far from interesting. Nonetheless, there were some pretty sweet moves. Naomi got the win with an epic top rope crossbody. I have to say she was really impressive, especially with that move, the Rear End. I love that big booty. She is an absolute babe, and man she can actually wrestle. It looks like the Stephanie McMahon revolution is having an impact on the whole of the Divas roster.

CM Punk came out to address the whole Paul Heyman issue, with a very clear limp, selling the effects of the All Star match like the ultimate pro that he is. He opened with “I know Paul Heyman is in the building, and I know Brock Lesnar is in the building, and I’m not waiting any more, so come on out boys” – Direct quote. EPIC. Paul came out alone. Boo. He made some very valid points about how much he helped Punk. “Without Paul Heyman, CM Punk, you’re not the best in the world”

punkbadboyPunk with a very unsavoury look for Heyman – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Heyman went on to talk about how he dumped Punk, not the other way around. Then he delivered an amazing sequence about Punk having no parents, no family, and nobody who cares for him. All he has are the fans. With his famous style, he roused the crowd into a frenzy by connecting the two of them so emphatically. The “CM Punk” chants were deafening. Then he laid down “the harshest truth of them” by telling his former best friend straight to his face that he “can’t beat Brock Lesnar!”

Punk warned Heyman that he knows better than anyone that when Punk wants something, Punk gets it. He delivered a first class emotional speech about how he will go through everyone it takes to get his hands on him. Clients (Curtis Axel, Brock Lesnar), friends and family, before calling him a “son of a bitch” on live PG television. The crowd chanted for Punk like crazy! Then Heyman screamed at him: “It’s clobbering time” and Lesnar’s music hit. That was absolutely incredible! Here comes the pain!

The two of them brawled on the outside. Punk kept coming back every time Lesnar delivered a devastating move. He looked great and he made everything that Brock did look even better. I can’t wait to see these guys get it on in a proper match. Lesnar finally kept the feisty Punk down with an F-5 onto the announce table. This was an absolutely excellent segment. Two terrific promos and a really intense brawl involving two of the biggest stars in the history of the business.

Then Maddox and Steph had a chat in the office. Triple H joined. This actually reminded me that there wasn’t any real development on the McMahon angle in this show at all. This was a little bit of that though. Triple H was hilarious again, putting Maddox on edge, and Stephanie was awesome too. They both wondered how Vince might feel about the whole Cena’s choice thing. They said that if Cena picks who they think he will, that it would be brilliant, but Vince wouldn’t like (Daniel Bryan hint) I loved Triple H in this segment.

Rob Van Dam v Chris Jericho I’ve seen a few of these amazing matches over the years, and it was absolutely brilliant to see another. If Cole tries to play me like a puppet with this Lawler coining Mr. Monday Night bullshit again though, I’m going to have to tune out. I guess his Mr. PPV moniker in ECW was just a coincidence. Nonetheless, Van Dam got a huge, huge pop when he came through. Jericho was well received as always. The crowd were amped and ready for a great main event match.

Great opening sequences made this match seem like a really big deal. The “Rob… Van… Dam” thing was so loud, then a huge “ECW” chant rang around the arena. Jericho took clear control of the match early on, after several of RVD’s signature athletic moves. He still has it. That’s what the crowd thought anyway, and I can’t help but agree with them. Amazing suplex on the rope inside/outside spot, which you rarely see these days. Classic stuff. Jericho suplexed him back into the ring off the apron, but Van Dam landed on his feet, and caught him right in the kisser with one of those picture perfect martial arts kicks.

Jericho struck back shortly after with an amazing powerbomb. “This is awesome” started to kick in. Van Dam got back on top. Jericho ducked out of the ring to evade his rolling thunder. It backfired as Van Dam hit him with an excellent moonsault from the apron to the outside. How can people criticise this guy?! He is in his forties and is having better matches than most of the roster. Some of the stuff he can still do is frightening! Jericho deserves a lot of credit too. He was ever reliable both physically and psychologically. He morphed into the heel like the great utility man he has become. A good hand can do that. He put Van Dam over as the clear underdog face with his actions and reactions.

rvdy2jAn incredible match between two legends – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

The great moves continued into what must have been at least double figures as far as minutes goes. Van Dam was busted open. There has been a lot of accidental blood in the last few days, probably enough to out-do the last five years. Rob Van Dam misfired with a top rope split leg moonsault. Jericho capitalized with the lionsault, but STILL couldn’t get the three. The crowd tried to will RVD to win with their chants. He got up to the top and hit a senton bomb onto a standing Jericho, and STILL didn’t get the win.

Then Jericho locked in the Lion Tamer style walls. With blood streaming down his forehead, Van Dam refused to tap out on his first appearance on Raw in half a decade. Shortly after that, the human highlight reel hit a spectacular Five Star Frog Splash, with intense hangtime for the win. Not bad for a middle aged man. This was easily the match of the night, and probably the best match on Raw in months. I’m probably just being a fickle mark with no immediate memory, but that was an absolutely flawless contest. Big props to two of the business’ best of all time! A pleasure to watch!

John Cena made his way to the ring to make his choice of opponents. Judging by the briefcase winners, I’m going to guess it’s Santino. The entire roster made a human wall on the stage to await his choice. Cena said he needed the people’s help to make the decision. They chanted “Yes” as loud as they could and the arena erupted in hand gestures. He then went through reading superstar’s names and seeing what they think. Birthday boy Heath Slater got emphatic boos. Randy Orton got a mixed reception. Khali got an indifferent reception. Del Rio was booed. Why was he even there? Does he want to be Undisputed Champion? Jericho got a warm cheer, and Rob Van Dam got a huge ovation. Fandango got some love. He would have got more if the crowd weren’t just waiting for Daniel Bryan’s name. Sheamus got more boos than cheers, not even mixed. Ryback got intense boos.

Finally, Cena said “Is there anybody I’m forgetting?” I couldn’t see him. He must have been hiding behind the other guys. The “Daniel Bryan” chants become ridiculously obvious. Cena eventually selected Bryan and the crowd went nuts! I haven’t seen anything like this, since Stone Cold Steve Austin. He “Yes!” chanted in front of Cena’s face, and was joined by almost every single soul in the building. Bryan looked genuinely ecstatic. A simply beautiful moment that made up for him not getting the briefcase at Money in the Bank. I can’t wait to see that match at Summerslam.

cenabryanCena chooses Bryan – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Thoughts: I’m already past 2,700 words and I don’t think there is anything more to say. That was one of the best episodes of Raw I’ve seen in the last few years. I’m sure I’ll go online later and check out every other site and see a lot of ‘meh’ responses, but for me, absolutely amazing! Top draw show!

9/10

Craig

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