This week’s RAW started out with a very effective promo from all five remaining members of Nexus. My impression after last week’s main event was that Nexus looked pretty strong after defeating a weakened team RAW, but no more than that. Fast-forward to this week, and Nexus sold it brilliantly as a complete domination of their opponents. That is simply brilliant storytelling. They showed footage of them decimating WWE stalwarts like the Undertaker, John Cena, Randy Orton and Sheamus, and rightly pointed out that their feat deserved respect. Orton of course came out and pointed out that it wasn’t as simple as all that, rightly pointing out that he RKO’d and eliminated two Nexus members in 30 seconds. The result of all this was that both Nexus and Orton came out of it looking like dominant forces. In the case of Orton, even more so than Cena. If they did want to turn Cena heel, i’m sure Orton could pick up the sizeable slack that he would leave business-wise.
As punishment for leaving the main event last weak (and therefore weakening team RAW), the anonymous GM announced that both Chris Jericho and Edge would be punished by having to fight for their spot at Night of Champions. If they lost, they would no longer be booked for the six-pack-challenge. The first of these matches saw Chris Jericho take on John Morrison. This match was a very good one. Initially, it seemed that Jericho would win relatively easily and keep his spot, but as the match went on, the result became less certain. A crucial point came when Jericho had Morrison in the Walls of Jericho. Having just tweaked his knee, I expected Morrison to tap, but no; he made the ropes and we had a match on our hands! The two exchanged offense and some good near falls, culminating in a good finish where Morrison hit Starship Pain, unusually from the side of the turnbuckle (which was innovative, but looked like a bit of a potato-job unfortunately) for the win. With Jericho saying he would quit WWE if he didn’t win the WWE title at Night of Champions, and im now being out of the title match, there are two options. The first is that Jericho is indeed taking time off (at the least, but hopefully nothing more than that!), or otherwise, he might insert himself in to the match at NOC by debilitating one of the competitors before the match (a’la Edge at No Way Out 2008).
Later on, John Cena took on Nexus member, Justin Gabriel, and boy did Gabriel really stand out here. I remember during season 1 of NXT (feel free to look at my entries on those shows) I was bashing Gabriel every week, calling him boring and the rest. Since joining Nexus, I’ve thought he’s grown an awful lot, and after this match, he’s made a believer out of me! He was fantastically innovateive as a high-flyer, while retaining a despicable heel persona (something perhaps more difficult for high-flyers?). He must have pulled out four or five moves that i’ve never seen him use before, like some sort of spin-out powerbomb, a springboard moonsault from the middle of the top rope, as well as some nice mat-grappling and submission moves. I don’t know where he’s been hiding this fantastic in-ring ability (though I suppose his 450 Splash has overshadowed a lot of it), but I hope we get to see it more. With that, and his increasing confidence on the mic, he could be a top star – and I couldn’t see myself saying that about a year ago. Cena, for his part was pretty good and eventhough he won, it was no squash, with him having to hi his Attitude Adjustment from the top rope for the win.
Next-up, Miz had a promo segment which I think was partly directed to much of the IWC about how he’s paid his dues and made it, finally making the cover of WWE magazine. It is truly amazing that Miz went from being ‘host’ of Smackdown to a future world champion, and for that he deserves major props. It’s clear that a lot of what he was saying came from his actual experiences trying to break out in the business. The guy’s a star. He was interrupted by Daniel Bryan of course, and Bryan went on to challenge Miz in his unique, humble and very likeable way, acknowledging what Miz was saying, but adding that he thinks he could beat him for the US title. Bryan’s promo was about how he, unlike the Miz of today, has to prove he belongs on this big stage (literally, having to repeatedly show his ID, for instance), but that he has also paid his dues, but in a different way. So Miz, challenged by someone he wrongly sees as beneath him, was forced to accept to prove it. After a scuffle, Bryan gets Miz in a cross-face to prove his point, only for Miz’s former ‘rookie,’ Alex Riley to come and make a save. This, however, became a sacrifice, when Bryan got Riley in the crossface, making him tap with ease while looking at the retreating Miz.
Our main event saw Nexus leader, Wade Barrett take on Randy Orton. This was a pretty good match, but nothing really new or fresh was offered. What was pretty cool was the inclusion of all three remaining competitors for NOC being on commentary for the match. It was pretty interesting to see them interact and put each other over, and a good way to build for the PPV (perhaps then, they should have done it next week?). There was a surprising intervention from ex-Nexus member, Darren Young, who approached the ring saying he would prove he was not the weakest link, but the ‘missing link’ (I don’t think he quite meant that …). This allowed Orton to RKO Barrett for the victory. This was a good way to hand Orton he win without Barrett looking weak. After that, Orton RKO’s most of the other superstars at ringside to again get over how unstoppable he’s meant to be. Of course the winner of this match would go on to face John Cena next week, and out last shot was a pretty tense stare-down between the two. Last year, the Orton-Cena feud got pretty tired, but now with Orton as a face, the match is a pretty mouth-watering prospect.