I managed to actually stay awake for the entirety of Raw live last night, which made me feel rather proud. I really need to move to America so I can watch wrestling at a reasonable hour! Nonetheless, I’m glad I stayed up. It was a really great episode. Let’s have a look at why.
Well the show opened with a raucous ovation for hometown Hall of Famer Edge, who clearly loved being back. Tony Chimel even made a special appearance. It would be wrong for anyone else to introduce him. On a very biting episode of the Cutting Edge, he said Hunter wanted him to have a reunion tonight, but not with Christian, with his former Rated RKO teammate Randy Orton. Edge decided against that and introduced Daniel Bryan. This Canadian crowd showed mad love for Bryan. I even saw an awesome “Oui. Oui. Oui” sign in the front row!
Before long, Orton and Triple H were out to spoil the party. Hunter and Edge cut a pretty vicious promo on each other. Then The Shield came out, dropped Christian’s beat up carcass on the ramp, and the posse left. This was a really intense exchange and not what I expected to start the show. After the break, Edge was bounding into the office but was stopped by The Shield. Hunter (while peering over their shoulders like the ultimate coward) ordered him to leave the arena.
Kofi Kingston v Curtis Axel Heyman looked dejected at ringside throughout this match, which was called earlier for a disqualification, after Axel just destroyed Kofi in the corner with knees to the back of the head. Moments later though, Kofi struck him with trouble in paradise, which made Heyman look even more worried.
Then we saw an epic video package to hype Goldust, who would be battling Randy Orton later in the show for Cody’s job. Paul Heyman was in the trainers room after “falling over” on some water in the corridor. Booker T then gave Big Show some advice in the locker room. “Think of your family”
Dolph Ziggler v Bray Wyatt The Eater of Worlds looked very strong in this match, with a dominant display. The brothers played their part outside and whenever Dolph gained some offence he was distracted and put down. Bray got the win with Sister Abigail.
Another Goldust vignette was shown, this time reminding us of all the funny moments he had. Then Heyman came out with his private doctor and withdrew from competition on Sunday. That sounds familiar. Maddox came out with a WWE doctor to take a look, who declared that Heyman was fine after an in-ring injury evaluation. Punk ran into the ring with a kendo stick and brutalised everyone, especially the private doctor, who clearly must have been local enhancement talent. Heyman literally ran and jumped over the barricade, despite being on crutches moments earlier. What a turn-around eight months can make
Brie Bella, Naomi & Natalya v Layla, Aksana & Alicia Fox AJ joined the boys on commentary again, to see what I can only talk up as the hottest heel tag team ever. Natalya was the only one who showed any meaningful offence in this one, and she was the one to tap out Alicia with the sharpshooter. The announcers shamefully buried AJ Lee throughout and after the match. Way to push your Divas champion!
R-Truth v Alberto Del Rio This is just bad booking here. I mean, when Cody gets a chance to have a match with the WWE champ, it’s seen as a huge “opportunity” – if that’s the case, what did Truth do to deserve a match with the World champ? So lame. Truth’s crowd reaction was extremely minimal to say the least. Del Rio hit a tough martial arts kick to the head and tapped him out with the cross armbreaker. Short and sweet.
Then it was announced that the pre-show match for Night of Champions will be Tag Team Turmoil for the #1 contendership for the titles. The winners will go on to face The Shield later on the actual show. Now that, I like!
Antonio Cesaro v Santino Marella Even in Canada, Zeb’s catchphrase is over. There was big native love for the returning “Italian” Santino Marella. This match was surprisingly great. The highlight being an insane giant swing which Cesaro continued for at least thirty seconds. The guy just continues to defy physics. Santino sold it perfectly too, and the crowd were hot for this match. It was total demolition from the big man with slight comebacks from Santino here and there, but eventually he reversed the European uppercut and tucked Cesaro in with the roll-up, for the win. This was a really, really entertaining match. Props to both guys, especially my man Cesaro!
Damien Sandow v The Miz Sandow cut a promo on the app during the ad break while in the ring, calling Toronto the “festering scab on the map” He was interrupted by Miz. Sidenote: I just thought. It would be awesome if Van Dam beats ADR on Sunday, and Sandow cashes it straight in on him. It eliminates Del Rio from the title picture, puts a World Heavyweight Championship on RVD’s resume, and the two of them could have a good match at the next show. Just sayin’ Miz was in control of the match until Fandango came to dance on the stage, allowing Sandow to roll up the distracted Miz. The hot Toronto crowd gave Fandango a huge pop, and were doing the dance long after he left. This was like a repeat of the Raw after Mania crowd.
Goldust cut a very strong, serious backstage interview with Renee Young, but was cut off by dick Triple H, who just wanted to pile on the pressure. You know that an angle is working as far as getting the desired heat, when you’re a 23 year old man and you would actually spit in the guy’s face if you saw him in the street.
Goldust v Randy Orton This was the last of three awesome returns on the night. Goldust got a really big, warm pop from this smart, enthusiastic crowd. I missed his absolutely epic entrance. He moved well and looked in great shape for his age. The “You still got it” chants were ringing clear during the very solid early exchanges. There was an even share of the offence, lots of intensity and some good storytelling. Goldust laid the chops on thick and went for the Shattered Dreams, only for Orton to duck out of the ring. The two guys were both aggressive on the outside of the ring, using the steps and ringpost to their advantage.
Orton laid on a sleeper hold for quite a long time, until Goldust fought out of it and scored with the bulldog. His hot streak was unfortunately killed though, by Orton’s signature DDT. I thought that was the end, but as Orton went for the RKO, it was reversed into Cody’s move the Crossroads. Long, long two. He came so close, but eventually The Viper scored with the RKO and the match was done. This was probably the match of the night. Really, really enthralling contest.
Steph stopped Dustin the back to remind him how much he has let everyone down, and how much of a loser he is, like the vicious bitch she has become. She left on “Tell your Dad I said Hi” I thoroughly expect to see one of my idols “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes on Raw next week!
Rob Van Dam v Ryback The battle of the awesomely designed singlets. Big pop for Van Dam as expected, before scarfy Del Rio came to the stage to cut another predictable and barely decipherable promo on him before the match. This match started very aggressively before Ryback decided to wear the high flyer down with abdominal stretch. The “Goldberg” chants rang around this arena, which was clearly filled with long time wrestling fans. RVD missed off the top rope with a dive to the outside, and Ryback decided to just get DQ’d by slamming him into the ringpost. Two things: This shows how unimportant winning matches is to the superstars, not good. It also shows a clear hypocrisy in terms of decision making. Goldust and Orton weren’t DQ’d earlier, but now the post is illegal. Hmmmm.
Steph then stopped Big Show on his way to the curtain to remind him that if he touched The Shield, he would be fired.
Daniel Bryan v Dean Ambrose Bryan had Big Show “in his corner” so the threat of a three man ambush had surely been extinguished. This was a top draw main event, a great mix of technique, brawling and fast paced attacks. The highlight for me was a big back drop off the top rope from Bryan. The best actor in the company, Dean Ambrose, screamed at Bryan to just “Stay down!”, but he was rolled up and beaten by Bryan. Then Orton came out. Before he had a chance to do anything, he was caught off guard by a suicide dive from the bearded one.
Sadly though, the familiar scene began to take shape as The Shield ambushed and beat Bryan down. Big Show did his usual stand off, then back away routine. Orton hit the RKO and posed over his carcass once again. At this point, 6/10 if going down, until things changed for the better. Triple H and Stephanie came out to tell Show to go and knock him out again. When he hesitates in the corner, Orton gets right in his face and orders him to do it. They dragged this out for a while, before The Viper turned around, and in not very viperous fashion, was destroyed the Busaiku Kick by Bryan. The “Yes” Man paraded with the championship belt, to a chorus of cheers. For me, they were sighs of relief. They finally ended a show with their top guy looking strong.
My thoughts: There were some issues with this show, but when you take into account the couple of excellent matches, and the three returns, it was on par with last week. One thing got it the extra point, and that was the ending. On the whole, the episode had good development, quality matches for the most part, and a general entertainment value that is sometimes missing. I stayed up for the entire thing and wasn’t drifting off. It was enthralling, but also a little unpredictable. I didn’t really know who or what was going to turn up next. The only thing that could have made it a 10/10 for a Monday Night Raw would have been more of Edge. It was very disappointing that he only did the opening segment, and actually did leave the arena when ordered. I don’t know if maybe he is planning on making another appearance or something, but he looked weak. As far as I’m concerned though, big thumbs up for Raw!