Last night’s episode of WWE Raw really felt like it was three hours long. It had its very high points and, like any episode, some low points, but it definitely felt like it was as long as it was. Maybe it’s because I watched it from a hotel room, on an extremely small standard definition TV while laying in a bed with very uncomfortable pillows, but the show really seemed to drag on at some points and I found myself constantly looking at the clock to see when it would be over so I could go to bed.
Because I am in Ocean City this week for a convention for work, while at the same time under a deadline to launch a new website for my company by the end of the week, this WWE Raw recap is going to be extremely short. Basically, I am going to run through the show more or less chronologically and offer quick insights on each match or segment. Sorry for the rush job, but I have to be back at the convention center in an hour and then work on the website all afternoon after we shut down the booth.
WWE Raw was book-ended by matches between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton. A regular match between the two was supposed to kick off WWE Raw, but Bryan cut a promo before Orton came out about how throughout his career he heard that he was too small to be a WWE Superstar but he proved it wrong time and time again, especially last week when he earned a countout victory over Orton but then demanded a rematch to he could pin Orton or make him tap out. Orton comes out and simply tells Bryan to shut up, to which Bryan responds by kneeing Orton in the face. The two Superstars brawn in and around the ring until the referee calls for a double disqualification and more referees and officials come down to separate them.
After the commercial break, Bryan is in Vickie Guerrero’s office demanding a rematch for late that night. Guerrero at first balks at the idea but eventually agrees to book the match for the main event. This bring on the continued backstage power struggle between Vince McMahon and Triple H, as Vince goes into her office later in the night to suggest that she cancel the match because he is one of the people who thinks Bryan is too small, unstable and entertaining to wrestle two matches in one night. Vince is followed by Triple H, who says that he is a fan of Daniel Bryan and thinks the match should be taken one step further as the fans should decide the stipulation.
The stipulation chosen is a street fight, with the alternatives being a lumberjack match or falls count anywhere match, and that match is the main event of the evening. It’s an incredible match, one of the best on Raw in a long time, and is obviously meant to showcase that Bryan is one of the top performers, and top wrestlers, on the roster today. Each man uses kendo sticks, steel chairs and tables to try and take out the other, but in the end Bryan puts Orton in the No Lock and, surprisingly and shockingly, forces Orton to tap out! After the match, Orton offers Bryan a congratulatory handshake before leaving the ring as the show goes off the air. Personally, I can’t remember the last time Orton tapped out, but even if he has done it in the past, having him do it to Bryan last night is a HUGE step forward in Bryan’s career. Hopefully this catapults him to the main event and even the world title picture for at least the rest of the summer, if not beyond.
Team Rhodes Scholars took on, and lost to, the team of Sheamus and Christian, which was frustrating for a number of reasons. First, if Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow are going to continue to wrestle as a tag team, then make then a permanent tag team that is challenging for the Tag Team Championships. Second, Christian has been gone with an injury for nearly a year, and was ready to come back a month ago, but now that he is back he has been put in throwaway matches that have no purpose or storyline behind them. And third, the match last night was apparently meant to lead up to a street fight between Sandow and Sheamus on Smackdown, and since we all know Sheamus is going to win, I have little interest in that match or this worthless ongoing feud between the two Superstars.
Kaitlyn defeated Aksana in a quick match, but the new coming out of the match was when it was interrupted by Divas Champion AJ Lee dressed up as Kaitlyn (complete with a women’s sumo outfit) and made fun of her size and weight and the fact that she was duped by the secret admirer scandal. The interruption did not cost Kaitlyn the match, as she speared Aksana nearly out of her top and got the win, but she was clearly distraught and upset after the match. Frankly, Kaitlyn is easily my favorite Diva on the roster (although this is not hard when the roster is so thin) but also slowly becoming one of my favorite Divas of all time. Also, her feud with AJ is one of the most compelling feuds in all of WWE today.
Chris Jericho took on World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio in a rematch from last week when Del Rio won the match via disqualification when Dolph Ziggler interfered. This week, the two put on an awesome match that Jericho seemed to nearly have won when Ricardo Rodriguez jumped in the ring and hit Jericho over the head with a bucket, causing Del Rio to get disqualified. After the match, Ziggler ran down to the ring and attacked Del Rio while Jericho took out Rodriguez, but when both of those men were thrown out of the ring, Ziggler hit the Zig Zag on Jericho. It was also announced during the match that Ziggler will face Del Rio for the title at the Money In The Bank pay-per-view.
The cover for the next WWE video game, WWE 2K14, was revealed. Unfortunately, The Rock is on the cover. That’s right, a part-time performer who barely shows up on TV even when he is the WWE Champion is on the cover of the next video game over any of the WWE Superstars who show up and wrestle day in and day out. The announcers even explained after the reveal how great The Rock does at the box office, and therein lies the problem – his success in movies has nothing to do with his WWE career and he should not be on the cover of the video game.
The next match was a complete waste of time as Ryback defeated The Great Khali. Later, Ryback demanded that Vickie cancel the championship match between John Cena and Mark Henry at MITB and put him in the match himself, followed by Jericho coming in and demanding to be a part of the MITB Ladder Match so he could become WWE Champion again Vickie refused to do either one and instead booked a match for the PPV between Ryback and Jericho. This match, of course, will put the theory that Jericho can pull a good match out of anyone to the rest more so than ever before.
John Cena and Mark Henry each cut separate promos after the events that took place last week. To my surprise, Cena actually cut a serious promo and didn’t tell a single joke, talking about how Henry’s fake retirement speech disrespected the real retirement speeches that other Superstars have had to give in the past and how at MITB Henry will have the chance to try and earn the WWE Title, but how Henry will have to go through him first. Henry responded by refusing to apologize for what he did, calling the fans and the Superstars in the back puppets for believing him, and that at MITB he would win the title.
The good news from last night is that there was a triple threat tag team match to determine the #1 contenders for the Tag Team Championships. The bad news is that the three teams involved were The Usos, Tons of Funk and 3MB. Of course, The Usos won, but the match was a waste of time and The Shield is obviously going to defeat The Usos whenever that match takes place.
The highlight of the night for me was the interaction between CM Punk and Paul Heyman. After being attacked by Brock Lesnar last week, Punk demanded to know if Heyman was involved. Heyman denied any culpability, saying that Punk was his best friend and that he loved him and there was no way he would jeopardize their relationship by sending Lesnar to attack him just because Punk decided to walk to the ring alone for now. Heyman did note, however, that a fight between Lesnar and Punk was bound to happen one day because of the professional jealousy between the two men. Punk cut an amazing promo, one of the best of his WWE career, talking about his past, his interactions with the McMahons, his time in the “minors” and his rise to the top. Frankly, writing about the promo does not do it justice, so I encourage everyone who missed it to find a video of the entire thing. In the end, Punk and Heyman hugged, but Punk noted that he was going to find Lesnar and kick his ass.
Right after this segment, Punk had to face Darren Young in a match that was confusing for two reasons – if the Prime Time Players were in the building, why were they not in the aforementioned triple threat tag team match, and why was Punk facing a mid-card Superstar like Darren Young in the first place. Anyone, the match was actually very good, but after Punk picked up the win, Titus O’Neil hit the ring and he and Young attacked Punk together. Suddenly, Curtis Axel ran to the ring to make the save and while he was successful in helping Punk, Punk was clearly not happy to have the help in the first place. Backstage, Heyman said that he did send Axel to help, but out of friendship and not business, but that he did convince Vickie to book a tag team match next week with Punk and Axel facing Prime Time Players.
The participants for the WWE Championship MITB Ladder match were announced and they are Kane, Randy Orton, Rob Van Dam, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and Christian. While this is certainly a star-studded match, I miss the days when the MITB Ladder Matches were full of mid-card Superstars fighting to earn the right for a place in the main event and the chance to become a world champion. Hopefully the World Heavyweight Championship MITB match does exactly that. This match was announced by Stephanie McMahon, who did so because she felt that Vickie Guerrero was not up to the task.