The unity between Team RAW of last week instantly and almost completely collapsed this week during the opening segment of the show. Cena came out to maintain momentum following his announcement last week of an opposing team to Nexus, however, after referring to it as ‘his team’ once too often, consumate egoist Chris Jericho hit the ring to put Cena in his place. This promo solidified really well some of the most important themes of this storyline. Most importantly, Cena talked about how the battle was ‘for the business,’ and not about him – quite a relief. Jericho also added an interesting dynamic: saying that Cena is just as destructive to the industry as Nexus, in terms of fighting and pushing others aside for his own prominance (echoing the IWC perhaps?). This sentiment sets the Summerslam match up for the betrayal that many of us want to see.
Then, in some of the most surprising booking this year, Randy Orton took on Jay Uso. Every match on this week’s card was more about promoting Summerslam angles, and this was the same. This was little more than a squash to make Orton look strong, but the booking was refreshing, and the Uso’s will have gotten something of a rub from it. All the while, Sheamus was at ringside, and in the post-match afters he tried to get one up on his #1 contender, instead, hitting his Brogue Kick on Jimmy Uso who was also trying to make a name for himself and eventually eating an RKO. Cue the celebrity stalker, The Miz, again attempting to cash in his MITB contract, well, at least he was going to, until Orton hit another RKO on the (probable) future WWE Champion. I really like the Miz-MITB abgle, in which he’s always on Sheamus’s back, though I hope Miz’s continuous scupperings don’t point to a lack of success in cashing in.
For the first time in years, The Great Khali was meant to look like a big-time player, as he had a verbal and physical confrontation with Edge. This led to a typically (for Khali) in-ring encounter which ended rather strangely. Nexus came towards the ring, apparantly looking to feed of the scraps from Team RAW’s disagreements. Edge fleed and Khali stayed, and after forming the familiar surrounding formation, Nexus let him go. This was out of character for Nexus, and while I would think Khali would be the last person to be given the post of traitor, make a note of that moment.
In what was billed as a taster to the big Summerslam main event, Nexus took on the slightly less impressive RAW team of Evan Bourne, Tyson Kidd, DH Smith, Yoshi Tatsu, Golddust, Mark Henry and Jerry Lawler. Surrounded by splinters in the RAW team, this match was a great metaphor for the contrasting tight-knitted nature of the Nexus. One-by-one, each Nexus member got to put away a RAW superstar, cleaning house. This was followed by a strong set of promos by Wade Barrett, Michael Tarver and Skip Sheffield, really growing in to their roles. On another note, I noticed during the eventual beat-down of Bourne that Justin Gabriel (who I had no interest in during NXT) is growing in to a very striking heel.
We then had an uninspiring divas match between Alicia Fox and Brie Bella. The only up-sides being a nice conceit where Jillian Hall stopped the Bella’s ‘switcheroo’ move, helping Fox claim the win; and A. Fox was made to keep looking strong with her deadly axe-kick.
In another match that was more about the splits in Team RAW, Ted DiBiase took on John Morrison. The match was ok, with a very effective finish. R-Truth was on commentary, and on-hand to first save the match for Morrison and then inadvertantly cost him the match. Despite seeing on the tron that it was all an accident, Morrison seemed pissed at Truth, and even looked on the brink of a welcome heel turn, and one that would set up the rumoured MNM reunion to come.
Our main event was quite a breath of fresh air, with Jericho tagging with Cena, and Sheamus tagging with new main-eventer, The Miz. Throughout the night, Miz had been chipping away at Sheamus’s patience, with Sheamus seeming genuinely distraught at Miz’s actions – making Miz seem credible as a main-eventer. The match was pretty good, with some good and unique storytelling between the four superstars. Finally, Jericho, a’la Invasion, 2001, turned his back on his partner, hitting him with a Codebreaker. Miz also demonstrated his prowess as an opportunist, tagging out Sheamus and getting the cover on Cena, making him look very threatening as a MITB brief-case holder. All this dissention made Team RAW split apart yet further, as Jericho locked the Walls of Jericho on Cena, then Cena using his STF on Jericho, before Khali and the rest of team RAW came out to try to calm the situation down, only worsening the situation, with pushing, shouting, finishers, disagreements and inter-fighting. The egoism of Team RAW contrasted completely with the perfectly unified Nexus, still harbouring their secret agenda.
The momentum is now squarely with Nexus, and a nice bit of storyline progression thoughout the night, rightly placing the invasion central to the RAW climate.