I typically judge the quality of an episode of WWE Raw by a few things – one is whether or not I fall asleep at any point during the show (given the length of the show and how late it ends this sometimes cannot be helped but a great show from beginning to end will keep me awake the entire time), how often I tweet about it (good or bad) during the show itself and how eager I am to post a review about it here the next day. In regards to last night’s episode, I feel asleep multiple times during the show, rarely pulled out my phone and I am only blogging about it today out of a weird sense of obligation to the few people who look forward to reading my reviews each week. That is not to say that the show was bad, but neither was it great; it was one of those shows where if I had to have missed it for one reason or another, I would not have been upset.
The main event of the night was a champion vs. champion featuring featuring WWE Champion John Cena vs. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. Throughout the night, the lineages of the two titles were highlighted through video clips going all the way back to Bruno Sammartino and Harley Race. The two extremely surprising parts of these packages was the acknowledgement that the World Heavyweight Title has its lineage in the NWA and WCW world titles and clips of former WWE and WHC champions such as Hulk Hogan and, even more surprising, Sting. As for the match itself, it was serviceable. In the end, Mark Henry (who earlier cut a promo about his world title match against Cena at MITB) came out to try and distract Cena but Dolph Ziggler also came out to try and distract Del Rio and it was Cena who ultimately picked up thevictory.
The show kicked off with six of the seven participants in the WWE Championship Money – Daniel Bryan, Kane, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Christian and CM Punk – in The Bank ladder match (the so called “MITB All Stars Match”) in the ring each talking about how and why they would win the match and then cash in the briefcase to become the next WWE Champion (the only one missing was Rob Van Dam, who is not scheduled to make his return until the pay-per-view). The segment ended with Orton hitting Kane with an RKO while Kane was defending Bryan, which later led to Kane facing Orton in a match where Bryan was the special guest referee. That match was actually pretty good with the storyline behind it being the feud between Bryan and Kane that is slowly bubbling up to the surface. Initially, Bryan tried to award Kane the victory via disqualification when Orton shoved him, but Kane demanded that the match be restarted. I thought that this would lead to Orton RKO’ing Kane right away for the win, but the match continued for quite some time until Kane eventually hit Orton with a boot to the face and Bryan made an extremely quick three-count to give Kane the win. An irate Kane left the ring and when Bryan turned around, Orton hit him with an RKO.
The first match of the night was The Shield vs. Christian & The Usos, the match being set up because The Usos are the new #1 contenders for the Tag Team Championships and will face Seth Rollisn & Roman Reigns for the titles on the MITB PPV online kickoff show (a match which The Shield will undoubtedly and easily win, making The Usos a complete waste of a #1 contender status) and I assume that after the PPV Christian will challenge Dean Ambrose for the United States Championship. This match was also a rematch from Smackdown last week, but whereas Christian & The Usos won that match, The Shield won last night.
Dolph Ziggler, who will face World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio for the title at MITB, faced Jinder Mahal in a one-on-one match last night for some reason. Obviously, Ziggler won, but beating Mahal is not impressive at all as Mahal, and the rest of his 3MB team, have not won a match in what seems like a year. After the match, Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre tried to take Ziggler out but Ziggler successfully fended them off and escaped.
Fandango (with the extremely beautiful Summer Rae) made his return to WWE television after suffering a concussion back in early June. Unfortunately, his first match back was against Sheamus, but thankfully Sheamus did not earn the pinfall victory and ruin all the momentum that Fandango has built up because Fandango abandoned the match and was counted out instead.
The Miz wrestled Ryback in a match with a surprising ending as I fully expected Ryback to squash The Miz (a waste of a match for both Superstars) but instead The Miz got in enough offense on Ryback and his supposedly injured leg that Ryback asked for the match to be stopped. So Miz gets the victory and Ryback, once billed as an unstoppable monster, calls off the match due to an injury. I can think of only three reasons why this happened – Vince McMahon, like myself, has lost all faith in Ryback and is burying him as quickly as possible to get him off TV, Ryback is about to received a wellness violation and needs to be written off TV, or this is a purposeful new character direction for Ryback. Frankly, I’m guessing it’s one of the first two scenarios but it will be at least be interesting to see what happens when Ryback faces Chris Jericho at MITB.
CM Punk and Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel teamed up to face the Prime Time Players in a match that was heavily focused on the underlying problems between Punk and Paul Heyman ever since Punk was attacked by Brock Lesnar. At first, Axel demanded that he start the match and then refused to tag Punk in, but even when Punk did enter the match and hit the GTS on Darren Young, Axel tagged himself back in and stole the pinfall for his team. After the match, Heyman and Axel celebrated the victory but Punk refused and left the ring.
Jack Swagger returned to WWE television after some time off due to a combination of having to appear in court for a DUI and marijuana possession charge and a broken finger. While he did not wrestle, he was ringside with Zeb Coulter as Antonio Cesaro, having now teamed up with Coulter, took on and defeated Cody Rhodes. I love the tag team of Swagger and Cesarp but hopefully they are treated better in the long run than the tag team of Rhodes and Damien Sandow (the latter being ringside for the match).
Kaitlyn (with Layla at ringside) took on Alicia Fox in a quick match that Kaitlyn easily won. After the match, Divas Champion AJ Lee came out and threatened to show the world the modeling photos that Kaitlyn had done before joining WWE but, having seen those photos myself, I knew there was no way a PG show would allow them to air (by the way, they are DEFINITELY worth a Google search but they are NSFW). Sure enough, AJ showed a doctored photo instead, one with Kaitlyn’s head on an extremely fat woman, and then announced that Kaitlyn’s rematch for the title would take place at MITB. As I said on Twitter last week, the feud between Kaitlyn and AJ is one of the more intriguing storylines taking place in all of WWE right now and I look forward to seeing where it goes.
Two highlights of the show for me were actually set ups for next week’s show, which is taking place in my hometown of Baltimore and which I will be attending live. The first was in regards to the ongoing backstage power struggle between Vince McMahon, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, and it was announced that next week all three will be in the ring to give a job performance review to Vickie Guerrero. The second, and one that I am so excited about that I can barely type it out, is the long awaited and much anticipated debut of Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family.