Our first match this week saw The Miz get handed a submission match against his Night of Champions challenger, Daniel Bryan. I was glad when this match was stopped early on because it would have been very unoriginal ‘go home’ booking to have had them simply face each other. Miz stepped out due to a bogus ‘hernia’, selling his fear at Bryan’s abilities well, and substituted in his former NXT rookie, Alex Riley. This wasn’t a long match either, but Bryan again looked good, synching in his LaBelle Lock for the victory. Bryan not having had a long match for WWE yet is good build-up for his PPV match which will surely be given a good amount of time (my thinking being that Miz will be losing, but WWE will want to keep him looking strong while showing what Bryan can do). However, his shorter segments haven’t helped him get over properly on RAW. I have, however, no doubt that Bryan will do so when he shows off his considerable skills this Sunday.
Body slam matches are almost always terrible. It is very difficult to get a good match out of that stipulation, whoever is competing, even if it is Edge and Evan Bourne, for instance. I was lifted by seeing Bourne being booked with Edge, but other than one move, he didn’t get to look good. Mark Henry coming out didn’t help. All three guys are above this (even if it does have Henry written all over it!). I don’t like this Edge-Anonymous GM feud either. Without an identity, it doesn’t make for great drama. With that in mind, perhaps this will culminate in the GM being revealed?
RAW ‘specials’ like this season premiere can tend to use, more than usual, gimmicky comic relief. Now i’ve defended ‘comic relief’ in wrestling in the past, but that is with the condition that you only have one comic segment in the show, or face making the whole thing a bit too goofy. RAW Roulette is fine, and can throw up some cool matches, but it also has the ability to churn out crap, and this next ‘match’ was certainly that. It was a Song and Dance ‘match’ between Ted DiBiase & Maryse and R-Truth & Eve Torres. I must admit, Maryse’s dancing to DiBiase’s Sinatra was pretty funny, but other than that it was a meaningless waste of time. Lets hope the post-dance beat-down leads to a feud between the two groups. Let’s also hope that the song Truth sung will be his new theme! Now that’s Wassup!
Following this, John Morrison took on Sheamus in a falls count anywhere match, in an attempt to earn a place in the 6-pack challenge at Night of Champions. This was a very good match (and very welcome after the dancing!) which both used the stipulation very well and was at the same time genuinely unpredictable. After last week, Morrison seemed the obvious pick to replace Jericho at Night of Champions, so fighting Sheamus to get there would have been a tremendous boost to his push. I hate when falls count anywhere matches end in the ring, so I was pleased that this one spilled away from the ring quickly. Morrison used his tremendous agility to perform many innovative attacks on the WWE Champion, and at one point avoided being thrown from the stage with a corkscrew flip of some kind that was really impressive. This side of his move-set is what needs to be pushed to the forefront of his character in my opinion. Sheamus wasn’t just a pin-cushion though, he looked very strong a lot of the time too. Eventually, Sheamus won the match with Chris Jericho’s help after Morrison hit a huge (though slightly botched) cross-body onto him from the tron for a very close and believable near-fall, and Jericho hit Morrison with a chair, allowing Sheamus to gain the pin-fall on the stage. So Morrison isn’t quite main event yet? That sounds about right to me. He still has to work on his persona. But this match made him look strong and viable, and he will clearly be up there sooner rather than later.
As for Jericho, he had a very characteristic hissy-fit/ultimatum for the anonymous GM. This was very entertaining, but also very in-depth, so i’ll cut to the chase. Jericho would earn his spot at Night of Champions (that Morrison failed to fill) if he could beat the Hart Dynasty together in a steel cage. The match itself was relatively short but absolutely packed, and it was good to see the Harts back on Monday nights. The story, given the eventual result, would have been quite predictable: the two Hart’s utilise their advantage, dominating Jericho to the point where one (in this case, DH Smith) could escape the cage. At that point of course, Tyson Kidd is left in the cage with the veteran Jericho who eventually wins. This is what happened, but it was very good in doing so. At points it looked like Kidd might actually be able to beat Jericho. Eventually, Jericho brilliantly and expertly reversed a hurricanrana attampt in to a Walls of Jericho for the win, and his spot at Night of Champions. Maybe this means he signed a new contract? I hope so.
Our next match was another comic segment. However, this was only genuinely funny one of the night. It was a ‘Trading Places’ match between Goldust and William Regal in which each had to depict the character of the other. In some ways it’s a shame guys of the skill of Goldust and Regal had to do this, but the combination did make it funny. I would have liked to have seen them have more of a match, with them acting like the other and hitting more of the other’s signature moves etc, but unfortunately, it was a quick Power of the Punch from Goldust (depicting Regal) which won the match. I wish some of the time from the song and dance segment could have been given to this instead.
Our main even was the tables match between Randy Orton and John Cena. This was a pretty good match (though nothing special) until the intervention of the Nexus (allowed by the table stipulation). At that point, it became a build-up match for the 6-pack challenge, and rightly so. Cena and Orton worked together to eliminate Nexus (in various, dangerous ways which ended with them going through tables – Heath Slater’s spill being the highlight) and eventually Wade Barrett before Edge and Jericho hit the ring. They too were dispatched, with Cena (I think) avoiding a Spear that actually sent both him and Jericho (though a bit uneasily) through a table. The only person left in the equation was Sheamus, who hit the ring and got some offense on Orton before he too was dispatched by Cena with an AA (which I think was meant to also be through a table, but the table was knocked away accidentally by Cena earlier). The table match was till ‘active’ so to speak, and Orton and Cena were again left in the ring. Cena had Orton up and ready for an AA, but in another unique version of the RKO, Orton grabbed Cena’s neck and sold an RKO (though a little messily) through a table for the win. Again, the Viper stood tall over all challengers. No doubt the commentators will all put him forward as the favourite at Night of Champions. Whether that materialises remains to be seen.