After a whirlwind week in WWE, last night’s episode of Raw was highly anticipated. Darren Young is gay. Triple H is heel. Randy Orton is champion. Lots of exciting stuff going on. The show was pretty good. You’re probably surprised it wasn’t spectacular, but I guess it was always going to be hard to follow Summerslam. I’m going to do more of a match-by-match analysis today, like old times. I hope you enjoy the article, and I hope everyone is excited for Night of Champions.
Firstly I would like to give an honorary mention to NXT. I watched the show before Raw and it was very good. One of many high points saw Paul Heyman came out and cut a promo with Curtis Axel about him being the future. Big E came out (to a huge face pop – when will they stop making him play two completely different characters on each brand?) and challenged Axel to a match for his IC title. He accepted. Big E dominated, but Heyman got involved causing a DQ loss for Axel. He retains the belt, but that didn’t save him from The Big Ending and the five count
[As for the real show. Cena opened up with a great promo about how he is leaving for surgery. He was very humble and respectful of Bryan and his win, and vowed to go off into the sunset for a little while. He talked of how disgraceful the whole screw job incident was, introduced the great Daniel Bryan and made his way to the back graciously. Before Bryan had a chance to speak, Stephanie came out and interrupted him. She said her husband just did what was “best for business” – glad to see this epic, timeless idea back in use. The fans were totally behind the defiant former WWE Champion. When the fiery Bryan got too “uncouth”, Steph called for security to escort him out of the building. The chants he got were Stone Cold like. It feels like going back in time, in a really good way.]
Cody Rhodes v Damien Sandow This was a decent opening match, and Cody got the win again. That is all. It’s hard to make a feud a big deal when the guys have matches so regularly for free.
[Brad Maddox was backstage to inform us that Dolph Ziggler had shot his mouth off the night before about the screw job. That earned him the chance to show off, in a three-on-one handicap tag team match against The Shield.]
[Then Paul Heyman came to the ring to cut a promo about how it’s time to end the “family feud” between them. He said he forgave Punk, loved him, and wanted to get the band back together. How did Punk react? Find out later.]
The Funkadactyls v AJ Lee & Layla This was a very short, boring match. Naomi got the win by rolling up Layla.
Dolph Ziggler v The Shield (3 on 1 Handicap Tag Team Match) This was an okay match. Ziggler surprisingly held his own for good spells and came very close to pinning Reigns. Eventually though, he had to succumb to The Shield and face the triple powerbomb.
Alberto Del Rio v Sin Cara Still showing signs of this apparent hotel brawl that he was involved in over the weekend, Del Rio made his way to the ring for what would surely be a quick squash. Sin Cara got hurt early on and the match was stopped. Del Rio celebrated his easy win and cut another promo sucking up to the Latino community. Ricardo came out to the stage and said he was proud and even “contento” to be no longer by his side, having now aligned himself with a new superstar. Rob… Van… Dam! RVD came to the ring looking for a fight, but Del Rio wanted none of it. Looks like that is the new feud for the World Title. I have to say, I love Rob but that belt is being surrounded by far too many old dudes right now. Put it on a guy for the future!
The Real Americans v Prime Time Players Zeb is so consistent when it comes to giving hilarious pre-match promos, but the thing I still can’t understand is how over “We the people” is. I know this was a fairly smart crowd, but they love it everywhere. Do people not realise that these guys are heels or is everyone in the US racist? I love them, but that’s to be expected. It’s just weird. This was a solid tag team match anyway. Darren Young got the win with some awesome gutbuster finisher. Is this the start of a gay push? He may have done this move before, but I just see so little of him winning that I don’t recall it.
[Brad Maddox then interrupted Big Show’s backstage interview to inform him that the evil McMahon machine decided to put him in a handicap match against The Shield, this time with no tags necessary. I’m loving this corporate agenda! Big Show wasn’t concerned]
The Big Show v The Shield (3 on 1 Handicap Match) Excellent performance from Big Show here. This was a truly great match, to my, and apparently JBL’s surprise. One particular highlight was a double vertical suplex from the big man. He dominated for the most part and moved around the ring very well, but in the end, the numbers game was too much for him.
[Then Punk hobbled out to give an in-ring promo. He furiously called out a fat guy in the front row who was booing him. He went in hard on this guy! Real hard! I can’t quite tell if the guy was a plant or not, because Punk’s delivery was so passionately well done. This was the first moment of the show that truly took my breath away. Really captivating stuff . I thought Punk was actually going to climb out of the ring, and get over the barrier. He called out Paul Heyman who came to the staging area, with Curtis Axel. Punk said he still wanted to destroy him and offered no apology. The Punk chants were deafening. He and Bryan are the Austin and Rock of our era, or fast becoming that at least. Paul sent Axel down to fight Punk. It seems that they will now have a feud, in place of the absent Lesnar. Really good idea in my opinion, and a great chance to give Axel an extra push.
CM Punk v Curtis Axel (Unsanctioned Brawl) This was a really brutal fight between these two. Very, very cool. Hopefully there will be plenty more of this to come!
Bray Wyatt v R-Truth Bray competed in his first match on Raw. All it took was a vicious clothesline and a huge corner bump to dampen any initial momentum Truth had after the bell rang. He was finished off and pinned in a flash.
The Usos v 3MB Slater and Mahal represented the world’s most forgotten band in this short and painfully unimportant match which The Usos won comfortably.
Wade Barrett v The Miz The “Lets go Barrett” chants made it clear, beyond any shadow of a doubt, how smart this crowd was. It was like the night after Wrestlemania. This was a decent match but hardly main event quality. Just when Miz had him wrapped up in the figure four, Fandango appeared from nowhere on the top rope and delivered the leg drop to Miz’s face, affording him the victory by disqualification. The fans went crazy with the dancing. Bryan and Punk are the only non-heels they seem to support, which is awesome and a good change of pace to the usual boring, child plenty masses. Looks like another meaningless feud ahead for Miz though.
[Then it was apparently time for Randy Orton’s championship coronation. The staging area was packed with all the guys and girls from the back, who had been presumably told to be there by the McMahons. The Shield were at ringside, closely resembling corporate security. Vince and Steph were in the ring, and Trips came out to complete the party. Vince told us how proud he was of his son-in-law for finally “seeing the light” and handed the mic over to The Game]
[He gave Bryan credit for being a “good little technician” but questioned whether he could really be a WWE champ and the face of the company, to which the fans responded angrily with “Yes!” chants. Hunter is really coming into his own as a corporate legend at this point. He said he put his personal feelings aside and did what was “best for business” – there’s that phrase again! He introduced the new face of the company to the ring. Randy made his way through a bunch of angry looking superstars, and past the intimidating Shield into the ring to embrace the McMahons warmly. He thanked The Game for everything and said he owed it all to him. He then ordered that the fans stand up and show Triple H the respect he deserves]
[Triple H then continuously patronised Bryan, poking him to come to the ring and air his grievances. The man himself finally came down to the ring, to a raucous ovation, but was ambushed by The Shield. Despite an encouraging fightback, he was eventually downed by the jackals. Triple H then patronised him again, telling him to show some guts and get into the ring, as he clawed for the apron and squirmed under the ropes. The second he did get inside, he was given the RKO and left to lay wasted on the canvass. The McMahon/Orton era seems to here. A new corporate champion has been born!]
Now the match quality on this show was severely lacking. I can’t think of one truly memorable one, with Big Show and The Shield offering the best effort. That’s the reason for my relatively low scoring. After the quality of Summerslam, I wasn’t surprised by this and it doesn’t anger me. Raw was about Bryan, Orton and the McMahon power machine. It was a little bit about CM Punk. The rest of the roster didn’t matter for this show, and I’m not complaining about that. They could have put on a few better matches, but obviously the show wasn’t really about that. What can you do?
Anyway, enough about my thoughts. What did you think of Raw? or Summerslam? How do you see the future of Orton, Triple H, Bryan, Punk, Axel, The Shield? Leave a comment and please get involved in some wrestling conversation. I dare you.