The show started with rebel leader Wade Barratt coming out to ‘apologise’ for his group’s actions last week. All, obviously, was not as it seemed though, and the former NXT rookies emerged from the audience once more to show solidarity in their refusal to apologise. At this sight, Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole scarpered, finding the presence of the rookies threatening. This was a nice touch as again we viewed the rebels without commentry and were helped to believe the genuine threat that the WWE employees felt to their safety. In some ways, I was disappointed when Bret Hart ‘fired’ Wade Barratt. The situation where Wade was the only WWE employee among them seemed a fecund point of future tension among the group. Nonetheless, this is a minor thing, and I was glad to see the focus staying, well and truly, on the NXT storyline. It was interesting to see Barratt making a point of referring to the seemingly fired Daniel Bryan. It is rare for the WWE to mention ‘future endeavored’ superstars so soon after firing them, and that, plus Bryan’s inclusion in the highlights package, adds to the confusion as to whether he’s actually been fired! This is both confusing, but even more than that, exciting and interesting. After all this, if Bryan hasn’t been really fired, it will be one of the best works ever in the industry!
Following this, we had the fatal four way match for the US Championship. It was a good match that got viewers ready for the style they will be seeing at the Fatal Four Way PPV. It was also good to see Ryder get considered at that level, and he, along with the other three competitors put on a good and technical match. Kudos to John Morrison’s Sunset flip powerbomb from the ring. He still has charisma issues, but he’s been pulling out some great spots recently, and could easilt, in my mind, match someone like AJ Styles for in-ring performance and style. The way he essentially cost Truth the title also potentially sets up the big feud Morrison needs to practice his mic skills and push up to the main event. What was baffling though was why Miz won the title back. The manner in which he did it was good, again reminiscent of Chris Jericho, but it makes Truth’s reign in to something of a joke, and if someone had to beat him, I wish it would have been Zack Ryder. I thought Miz dropped the title so as to move on towards the main event, but this pulls him back in a repetitious and not very interesting way. Perhaps they wanted him to feud with Bryan and now he’s simply being used as someone to take the title from Truth. We’ll see what happens to him next week, but if that is the case, why not put the title on Ryder!?
Even Bourne’s push continued against Chris Jericho. This is a great move for Bourne, as Jericho always makes people look good against him, and is a name that obviously has endless credibility. The match was very good in both style and storytelling, but too short really. Bourne kicking out of the Codebreaker was the essential viewing here, getting over, no doubt, the ‘heart’ of Evan Bourne. Jericho’s subsequent reaction to his disqualification is suggestive of a feud between the two, which is something I really hope to see. Not only has Jericho not had a feud to engage with for too long, but a proper feud with a main eventer like Jericho will only catalyse his push.
John Cena, undoubted leader of the WWE side, came out with that steely face he loves so much to call out his NXT attackers. One thing he said that I really liked was about how the dismantled the ring, which he referred to as ‘hallowed ground’ and the part of the attack that most offended the RAW roster. This ties in to the strong assertion from many wrestlers that having some sort of ownership of the ring correlates to personal importance and prominance. Indeed, out came thethe rebels to try and pick the bones again, but alas, Cena received support from WWE superstars and even Jerry Lawler, whose inclusion I liked as a feasible representative of non-combatant WWE employees. This was the correct progression of the storyline, seeing loyal battle-lines firmly drawn and not just a continuation of a one-sided attack. Another pernickity point, but surely the final one chasing them out should have been Cena or Orton, not Santino, who was the one that chased them furthest!
There then followed a period of ‘lighter’ wrestling with an non-inspirational divas match, guest host Mark Feuerstein tagging with the Big Show against Ted BiBiase and Virgil, and the match between Santino and William Regal (with Vladimir Kozlov as special referee). I have no real problem with this. In such an intense atmosphere, a bit of light relief is needed, though i’m not sure I like them coming one after the other. The only match that I had a real problem with was the divas match. The divas division had been making real strides recently, and this match was a bit of a let down in that regard. Gail Kim, who i’ve been very high on, didn’t even get in the match. The good news is that she has been booked for the Fatal Four Way PPV. Whether Eve’s reign should be cut short at this point is another matter, but she should help make that match one of high quality.
Later in the evening, we had the main event of John Cena and Randy Orton vs Edge and Sheamus. This would have done as a maon event in it’s own right. Edge and Sheamus worked well together with good chemistry when isolating both John Cena and Randy Orton. Orton seems to have gotton over his shoulder injury well and worked remarkably well on it. Cena’s main attribute is his strength, but you can’t accuse him of not doing special things with it. Picking up Sheamus when he was wrapped aroung his body and carrying him to the corner was really quite impressive. Just when we were reaching the conclusion of the match, the light goes out as we realise the NXT rebels haven’t taken no for an answer. While the entire RAW roster gave an impressive show of solidarity by gathering on the stage (and saluting Cena) to protect the hallowed main event, the NXT rebels brutally attacked General Manager Bret Hart with a series of brutal car crashes before demanding that they award the WWE contracts by the Fatal Four Way PPV. Notably, none of the seven remaining rebels were driving the limo, leading me to suspect, or at least suggest, that the driver may be Daniel Bryan. Given that they had earlier said he wasn’t there because he felt ‘remorse’ for his actions, it may be an interesting double-cross where he avoids detection while continiung the rebellion, before finally being revealed as some sort of mystery helper. It is at least a potential option for if he comes back. With someone as iconic as Bret Hard now directly involved, this storyline has continued to grow and progress rather than stagnate.