After the dissention of last week, Edge came out to take control of the Nexus situation by challenging de facto leader, Wade Barrett to a match, hoping to topple the group from the top. I liked this idea, as it gave Edge a prominance that would challenge the focus on John Cena, no matter how they might try to distract from his centrality. R-Truth came out before the match to challenge Edge’s approach, giving a heartened speech about how they would be stronger together in trying to beat Nexus and save the industry they and the fans love so much. Just as Edge was being persuaded, the anonymous GM intervened and made the match. This was a very pleasing and fresh match-up, with Edge helping Barrett look very good and credible at the highest level. Again the egoism of Team RAW in comparison to Nexus was shown as Nexus came out to back up their leader, while Edge, unsupported, took to his heels.
Divas matches recently have been inconsistant in quality, but this week, RAW’s divas produced a very good showing. Alicia, Gail Kim and Natalya especially looked great in this match, which, although it didn’t last for that long, showed a lot of aggression and quality. My conclusion was that i’d love to see Alicia Fox tested against Natalya at some point for the Divas Championship. Given time, that could be a very good match. It seems, however, that Melina will be the next challenger, as she made a big and timely return this week after Fox declared that she had bested the entire RAW divas roster. Melina herself looked great, pulling off some new, well executed moves on Fox. Although I think Natalya should be higher up the queue, this match-up could make a very good match at Summerslam nonetheless. One thing that is now clear is that there is an imbalance in the number of divas on RAW and Smackdown. I think now is the time to find a way to ‘draft’ a RAW diva over to the blue brand to deepen their diva roster – I would recommend Gail Kim, and give her a title run.
Following this, WWE Champion Sheamus took on veteran Goldust. This was basically a squash match, and I don’t really understand why it was needed. I know that Goldust wont be a top star in the future, and any opportunity to get over the strength of Sheamus is a good one, but in this instance, I would have preferred more of a fuller match. For one thing, Sheamus has hardly been looking weak recently; after all, he is the WWE Champion, while Goldust deserves better than getting squashed. A longer match that saw Sheamus go over would have been a lot more agreeable to me. I liked the story of how far Sheamus has gone in a year, having fought Goldust around this time last year on ECW, but I would have liked Sheamus to have been no less devestating in a match where he was clearly against a game opponent, especially when his opponent is such a respected veteran as Goldust.
Earlier in the night, an exasperated Edge quit Team RAW before Chris Jericho saw fit to try and relieve the team of John Cena, in his view, for the good of the company. What followed Sheamus-Goldust was the match they arranged, with the loser having to leave Team RAW. This was a very good match, carried in the most, as you might expect, by Chris Jericho. That’s not to play down John Cena’s role though. While he might not be the technician Jericho is, he can tell a good in-ring story with a big fight feel, as he did this week. Last week, Team RAW seemed to be disintegrating; this week, they all just seemed downhearted, and that story was best told in this match. For most of the match, Jericho was putting on a clinic while Cena didn’t look to have much fight left in his. No better was this shown than at the end of the match, when Jericho submitted to Cena. What was fascinating about this was something i’ve wanted to see for a long time – someone tapping out while not actually in a submission hold. This is what Jericho did before Cena could lock in his STF. I saw some people saying this made Jericho look weak, but the effect is much more simple. Realising that he wasn’t going to win the match, it seemed Jericho lost faith in the whole anti-Nexus endevour, essentially voluntarily quitting the team by tapping out in the match. Cena tried some trademark rousing words to desuade Jericho from leaving, providing the opportunity for a shift in momentum, and so powerful was the moment, that even a face-turn for Jericho was possible. Instead, Jericho, deflated, turned his back on the team, apparantly giving up on the prospect of defeating Jericho. I have a feeling this may simply be a bluff, and Jericho and Edge will show up at Summerslam for Team RAW. Whatever happens, this was one of the best matches i’ve seen in a long time, if not for drama or technical accumen, for the subtle psychological story that was told. If it is the case that Edge and Jericho are gone from the team, it provides an opportunity for certain other deserving competitors to take their spots and get a rub: i’m thinking of Evan Bourne specifically and Ted DiBiase.
Speaking of DiBiase, the next match saw him take on The Great Khali as part of a tangent angle to the Nexus storyline in which Nexus are courting the betrayal of Khali for their side. The storytelling wasn’t as subtle here, and with Khali in the ring, the match was nothing particularly special, but nonetheless, I am enjoying this twist. Not only does it add to the uncertainty on the WWE side (something I think is crucial for the atmosphere of this storyline, with the future of the industry being in doubt), but with more potential traitors being unveiled, it is bound to make an eventual betrayal (which i’m sure will take place) less predictable. The way Nexus have been giving Khali a pass, and even helping him, as they did in this match, also gives them another, more manipulative side to their character, something which sets them further apart from their oft compared stable, the nWo.
The main event was another fresh bit of booking, with established main-event stalwart, Randy Orton taking on the up-and-comer, The Miz. I’ve always thought Miz, with his aggressive and posing style, is entertaining in the ring. This was the first time though, that Miz looked especially like he can hang at the top. Like with Barrett earlier, his established opponent helped him in this regard. The match had a lot of good back-and-forth, and any man that can stay with Randy Orton automatically looks credible at the main event. Both superstars are very aggressive, and this made for good chemistry between the two, with some really good near-falls and some really good quality technicality from both guys. In the end, Orton went over, but it reflected in no way poorly on Miz, who looks more and more like a future champion. Sheamus came down to the ring to try and send a message to his Summerslam opponent, but the Viper was equal to it, coiling up and making the Celtic Warrior think twice. The MITB concept has really enhanced this main-event feud, making it a three-way feud, and with all three having the potential to walk away from Summerslam as champion, it is almost a triple-threat feud. With the champion facing two very real but contrasting challenges, the build up to this title match has certainly been unique, and is certainly very watchable, while the inclusion of Miz adds even more freshness to the main event.