Well, that episode of WWE Raw was quite the debacle. From the beginning to a very strange ending, it was just one big cluster of poor match placement, bad in-ring segments and (for the most part) questionable booking that did very little to promote this Sunday’s SummerSlam pay-per-view. Whereas last week I would have given Raw a solid “A” grade, this week the show is lucky to walk away with a “C.”
I would like to say that the highlights of the show was the WWE Champion, the WWE Championship and the match for said title this Sunday. Unfortunately, that was not the case as CM Punk went on at 8:00 (the start of the show) and 10:00 (the start of the third hour) and in his second match (a tag match where he was teamed up with John Cena) he didn’t get have the privilege of being introduced last (that honor went to Cena). Remember the promo that Punk cut a few weeks ago about being sick and tired of the WWE Champion not being the highlight or focus of the show? The man made some valid points then that were only further validated tonight.
Instead, the highlight of the show was the Triple H/Brock Lesnar match at SummerSlam. I get that Triple H is the COO and the CEO’s son-in-law and that Lesnar is being paid a TON of money for his WWE return, but did it really require two highlight videos, a handful of backstage segments all featuring Shawn Michaels afraid of running into Lesnar and the final segment of the night? Now granted, I will give credit where credit is due and say that the final segment was a good one, but it was extremely weird the way the show seemingly ended at 10:45pm and then kept going.
It all started with Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) and Shawn Michaels in the ring for the SummerSlam contract signing because Triple H running late. But before Lesnar could attack Michaels, Triple H came out, he and Lesnar signed the contract and Lesnar left after throwing the clipboard at HHH. The show then went to commercial break and it was only 10:45pm. When the show came back on the air, we got some fan-made Tout videos, a quick backstage segment with Michaels warning HHH about Lesnar and what was supposed to be an interview with Big Show. But during the interview, we heard a loud crash and the cameras ran to find that Michaels had run his car into Heyman’s. While Michaels yelled at Heyman to move, Lesnar came and pulled Michaels through the window and proceeded to attack him. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any of it because the cameras went black before going to another commercial. When the show came back on, Lesnar was carrying Michaels to the ring where he hit him with an F5. Triple H came out to make the save but Heyman warned him that if he stepped foot in the ring, Lesnar would break Michaels’ arm. Triple H stayed away but Lesnar broke it anyway, then ran off as HHH tended to his friend, thus officially ending the show. So you see, the ending with Lesnar attacking Michaels and breaking his arm was cool and a good way to hype the SummerSlam match between HHH and himself, but those last 20 minutes of the show just seemed like the show had been timed very poorly until it all finally came together in the end.
Here are my thoughts on the rest of the show, more or less in chronological order:
The show kicked off with the match that had been announced earlier in the week, CM Punk vs Big Show. The match was interrupted when Daniel Bryan came down screaming that he should be in the WWE Championship match at SummerSlam and then got in the ring and attacks Punk, locking him in the No Lock. Big Show then hits Punk with a huge elbow drop before John Cena makes his way to the ring and clears it out, leaving just himself and Punk, who does not look happy to see Cena there. AJ Lee then makes her way to the ring and announces that the “main event” will be Punk & Cena vs. Big Show & Bryan.
As I mentioned before, that match took place at the top of the third hour (with Cena being introduced after the WWE Champion) and was actually a decent match. Of course, it was a questionable decision to have Bryan in the match when he has nothing to do with the other three men and their match at SummerSlam and, in fact, has a match of his own against Kane (who did not appear on the show at all), but “questionable decision” seemed to be the theme of the evening. Anyway, Bryan tagged himself into the match at one point and told Big Show that he could do it on his own, which prompted Big Show to take a seat at ringside. Unfortunately, Bryan could not get it done as Punk and Cena each tried to one-up each other (with each man stealing the other’s moves) before Punk left the ring and let Cena hit Bryan with the AA for the pin and the win. After the match, Punk tried to shake Cena’s hand but Cena refused and Punk left the ring in disgust.
JTG had to face Ryback in a match that he obviously lost and I assume it was punishment for his negative tweets last week about the company. The other possibility is that the tweets were part of a new storyline, but I think it’s more likely that JTG is going to be wished the best in his future endeavors sooner rather than later.
Continuing the theme of questionable decisions, Heath Slater faced R-Truth, one half of the WWE Tag Team Champions, in a one-on-one match. This was an odd choice because Slater has nothing to do with any of the feuds currently taking place in the tag team division, is not part of a tag team and is not involved in the match on Sunday for the tag team titles, which pits R-Truth & Kofi Kingston against the Prime Time Players. Now granted, after R-Truth easily won, Darren Young & Titus O’Neil came down to attack R-Truth, but it would have made more sense to have R-Truth face one of them in the one-on-one match and then have them both gang up on him after the match. Kingston, meanwhile, was one of several competitors with matches on Sunday that were not on the show. I get that most of the Superstars just got back from China, but if that means some of them won’t be on Raw, don’t book the international trip for the weekend before a major PPV.
Sin Cara defeated Tensai and after the match Tensai defeated his worshiper, Sakimoto. So Tensai is pretty much being buried now, having lost two weeks in a row to Tyson Kidd and then Sin Cara. Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes, who lost to Sin Cara on Smackdown because he was more focused with removing Sin Cara’s mask instead of winning the match, was not on the show. So good job to WWE for dropping the ball on that storyline so quickly.
Rowdy Roddy Piper was on Raw tonight to host an edition of Piper’s Pit and unfortunately it was probably the worst Piper’s Pit in history and easily the worst in-ring segment on Raw in months. The fans got to choose via Twitter who the guest would be and between The Miz, Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho, the fans who actually vote (i.e. kids) obviously chose the only face in the mix. While ten years ago, Piper and Jericho in the same segment would have been a dream, tonight it was a nightmare. Piper made no sense at all when trying to talk about Jericho and his match against Ziggler until, thankfully, Ziggler interrupted. He came to the ring and hyped his match with Jericho at SummerSlam until The Miz also interrupted, saying that he was more adept at winning big matches (Wrestlemania 27, winning the Intercontinental Championship at Raw 1,000) that Jericho was anymore. Miz then tries to take the show over but Jericho attacks him and Ziggler, clears them both from the ring and celebrates with Piper. As a side note, when Miz was making his way down, Piper said he was nothing more than a movie star, so good job to WWE for allowing Piper to bury the fact that Miz is the IC Champ. Also, it was announced online earlier in the day that Miz will defend his title against Rey Mysterio on Sunday, but Mysterio was not on the show (not that he’s really done anything recently to warrant the title shot anyway).
During the commercial break, AJ tweeted that Ziggler, Miz and Jericho would all wrestle in a triple threat match, so the nightmarish debacle of a segment actually led to the best match of the night. Just like you would expect with three of the best workers and characters in the WWE today, these three Superstars saved the show from being a complete and utter disaster and put on a phenomenal 20-minute match. To make things even better, The Miz was not the one who got pinned, as it was Ziggler who pinned Jericho for the win. So not only did we get a great match, but we actually got good booking when it came down to who would pin whom for the win.
The other match that saved the show, believe it or not, featured the WWE Divas. For the first time in over a month, the WWE Divas Champion, Layla, was not only featured on TV but in an actual match, as she teamed up with Kaitlyn (I love that she finally getting a big push) against Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres. As far as Divas matches go, these four women were given a pretty significant amount of time and put on a fairly decent match. In the end, Kaitlyn pinned Beth for the win. Hopefully all of this somehow leads to a storyline that includes and involves Layla and the Divas Championship and not just the match between Kaitlyn and Eve on Smackdown for the right to be Booker T’s assistant.
The last match that has yet to be mentioned was also a good one with the right ending, and it was this match and the two I just mentioned, plus the very end of the Lesnar/HHH/Michaels segmment, that saved the show from getting a “D” grade. This match featured Damien Sandow vs. Christian, and despite Brodus Clay coming down to try and distract Sandow as payback for attacking him last week, Sandow still got the clean victory. Hopefully when Sandow and Clay eventually meet one-on-one, Sandow isn’t quickly buried like all of Clay’s other opponents because Sandow has more potential than any other rookie on the WWE roster.
Check back Friday/Saturday for my thoughts on WWE Smackdown, where Booker T will address the fact that there is now no longer a contender for the World Heavyweight Championship match on Sunday, followed by my preview for SummerSlam (where I will discuss how the return of Brock Lesnar will have been a complete waste and no match of his in the future will be worth our time or money if he loses to Triple H).