With Nexus vs Team RAW on the card, this year’s Summerslam was always going to be interesting, but this week’s RAW did a good job of building up not only that match, but the rest of the RAW contingent of the card very well.
The opening segment of the show saw Bret Hart trying to rally his disintigrating Summerslam team, trying to convince the wayward Edge and Chris Jericho to return to the fold for the good of the business. While Edge teased a reconciliation, it ended with Jericho and Edge standing by their anti-Cena, pro-selves convictions, attacking ‘The Hitman’ before leaving the ring. Then Natalya would hit the ring in very believeable tears to tell Bret that Nexus had gotten to the Hart Dynasty. As the smug Wade Barrett said to Hart, “today just isn’t your day is it.” I had never thought that the Hart Dynasty would be potential replacements in Team RAW (though it was probably an obvious conclusion). It was then that it became clear that the savvy Nexus were attempting to maintain their advantage (gained when Edge and Jericho left Team RAW) by assaulting everyone who attempted to take their spot, and sending a message out to anybody who wanted to try to. This is so great because it makes sense in such a clear way, beyond a lot of things you see in a wrestling storyline – it makes it all the more gritty and realistic.
The next match was not given a huge amount of time but was pretty good with some fantastic moments. It was MITB winner, US Champion and WWE Champion in-waiting, The Miz against gently pushed Evan Bourne. As I mentioned, this was a relatively short match, and was really another exercise in making Miz a credible main eventer, but Evan Bourne did get to show off too, most notable with a fantastic hurricanrana which he executed by springboarding from the turnbuckle backwards, over Miz’s head, into the hurricanrana position. Wonderful. I will speculate more on this later in the post, but I think Bourne would be an excellent choice as a seventh member of Team RAW.
Melina had her first match since returning last week, against Divas Champion, Alicia Fox. After last week, I was really looking forward to the innevitable title match between these two at Summerslam (which this match was booked to legitimise), but I’ve got to say, this teaser wasn’t all that impressive in parts. It was bitty and awkward in parts, and there didn’t seem to be great chemistry between the two. There were some good aspects. There was some decent back and forth, Alicia wasn’t made to look that weak, and the end progression was pretty good, with Alicia holding Melina in a torturous Gory special type move before Melina (in a really smooth way) countered in to her last call finisher (though that itself looked quite awkward) for the victory. I am looking forward to this match, but there will need to be some improvement.
Mark Henry was the next to put himself forward for Team RAW, only to be taken out by Nexus on his way to a match against Ted DiBiase to further get over that Nexus would maintain their advantage at all costs. They did so with a nice piece of wrestle-logic, i.e. all seven of them pushing Henry into the ring steps (suggesting that it was done with 7x the force). Ted continues to be between storylines now, which is a shame, but he is an outside candidate to make Team RAW on Sunday.
One effect of the Nexus angle has been that, in recent weeks, the WWE Championship match at Summerslam has seemed on the back-burner, which to be fair, it clearly is. However, more so than any previous week of this feud (and indeed, more so than in a long time) the WWE Championship match was hyped up in a very interesting, intense and psychological way. Sheamus cut himself a good promo, only for Orton to come out and match him, with neither initially coming out on top, but neither looking weak. Eventually, after a very tense five minutes or so, something had to give, and after being goaded, Sheamus tried to show that he could hurt Orton by trying to startle him with a fake cheap-shot, only for Orton to respond with the real thing. Orton didn’t just hit an RKO and pose though, Sheamus had the upper hand for a while, before Orton managed to set Sheamus up for his punt, stopping just short to show Sheamus of his own potential to damage, while wanting to keep him healthy to compete and lose the champiosnhip. Great acting from Sheamus, who looked genuinely terrified after the near-punt. Orton went up the ramp looking incredibally confident and focused on what looks like it could be a fantastic match.
A still fuming Sheamus seethed at ringside as the remaining six NXT rookies battled it out in a six-man tag match. All six got a showing in this match, with Kaval probably shining brightest, so it was good hype for NXT given it’s limited time. Husky won for his heel/tweener team with his senton dive (though he barely hit it), before Sheamus cleaned house on the NXT rookies to make sure he still looked like a credible force going in to his match at Summerslam.
A glimmer of hope for Team RAW as Truth & Morrison put out a nice showing against the highly respected and underrated William Regal and Zack Ryder, defeating them in what was not too much more than a squash (I wonder what hapenned to the rise of Zack Ryder?). Morrison especially wa simpressive, hitting an amazing back-flip into a Rock Bottom style side slam as well as actually connecting on his Starship Pain for the victory. Morrison can be inconsistant, but this week, he was definately impressive, and started what would become a table-turn back towards team RAW.
There then followed the comic relief (and much needed amidst an otherwise high-tension show!) in the divas tag team triple-threat ‘Summertime Spectacular.’ I plan on talking about this more in a seperate post, but while this wasn’t great or even decent wrestling, it was an essential segment in some ways (i.e. the comic relief element), though it is a shame in other ways that talented wrestlers such as Gail Kim, Eve Torres and Maryse had to be involved.
The main event saw rebels Edge and Jericho take on John Cena and Bret Hart. This started out as you would expect, with Edge and Jericho acting as heels with some sort of support for Nexus, repeatedly tossing Cena out to their rabid attacks, while Jericho was given a free pass in the same situation. There wasn’t much of a match before this turned around when Jericho, attempting to clotheline Cena missed and hit Barrett on the ring apron. The next time Jericho was on the outside, Nexus were less willing to let him go, beating him like they did Cena. This may have been an ill-thought-out action though. Nexus went on to corner Cena and Hart before they were joined by the card-carrying RAW members Truth and Morrison. In an example of some more great psychological acting, Jericho and Edge looked on from the ramp, struck by the scene. Initially, they considered abandoning their fellow RAW superstars before realising that Nexus had proved they were a threat to them, and going to rejoin team RAW. Roughly equal numbers again, Nexus took flight and the momentum shifted again.
I was glad to see this because it makes a Nexus victory (what I want to see to prolong the feud) seem more likely at Summerslam. The only question is, who will be the seventh member of team RAW, if anybody? Now that Khali was injured by Nexus, he seems unlikely. The next candidate would be The Miz, who teased joining the team on Sunday. This would make sense, giving Miz some main-event exposure, though it might damage his heel fascade is he isn’t a betrayor or anything of the sort. He seems most likey at the minute. The other options are Evan Bourne, as part of a genuine push, Ted DiBiase because there’s been hype around him being in the team and should probably be booked for PPVs, or a surprise: Vinnie O Mac, for instance. We’ll have to wait and see …