RAW kicked off this week, as you might expect, with an appearance from our new WWE Champion, Randy Orton, looking cheerier than usual, as you might expect. Before he could say anything though, out came vanquished ex-champion, Sheamus, who made some very valid points, namely: that both times he has lost the WWE Championship it has been in matches with five opponents, and secondly, Randy Orton has never beaten him in a one-on-one match for the title. This all pointed to Sheamus receiving his re-match at Hell in a Cell. I said before that this feud was hardly fresh, but it does make sense and seen as HIAC is (ridiculously) only two weeks ago, it should be quickly dispatched, while providing us with some decent television. To cap off the segment, Sheamus bolshily demanded that Orton give him back his title, which Orton did … before nailing him with an RKO.
Our first match saw new WWE Tag Team Champions, Drew McIntyre & Cody Rhodes take on brief contenders to the title, Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov, with the Hart Dynasty at ringside. This was the first Smackdown flavour of the night with the Smackdown superstars now able to appear on RAW. This match was ok, but more of a comic match putting over the strength of Rhodes and McIntyre. What was really notable was how lame the Harts were on commentary. In between non-threatening comments and bad Scottish imitations, even Cole seemed cool next to the Harts. They mentioned (though they had to crowbar it in) that they will be enforcing their re-match clause next week. I can’t see anything great happening to them after that.
Next up we had John Morrison taking on CHRIS JERICHO! (Forgive my bias). Yes, contrary to reports, even from me, it seems Y2J isn’t out of WWE just yet. As I understand it, he will soon be taking time off from WWE, but there are already tentative plans for him further down the line. So for all you like-minded Jerichoholics, don’t despair at never seeing him again and wish him well if and when he takes some time off from the ring. As for the match, it was naturally very good. Jericho was largely putting Morrison over while selling his own complex situation of inner-doubt/turmoil. Nonetheless, this was no squash match, and there was lots of back-and forth between the two. Morrison stillm isn’t 100% consistent in his performances, but he does seem to raise his game when it counts. I don’t know where he’ll go from here, but it was a good win nonetheless.
Daniel Bryan had a nice backstage segment with Edge where he put over his ‘alternative lifestyle’ gimmick, interrupting Edge and asking him to quiet down a little so he could read. While I think the idea behind the gimmick may be a little crass, I understand that in the World of Wrestling, a Vegan Socialist with no TV, that would rather read than talk trash certainly does represent an alternative, and a fresh one at that. I would be a lot more hard on it if he was being portrayed as such as a heel. Anyway, this led to a good match between the two, though one which surprisingly saw Miz on commentary. My thought was that WWE would be dropping their feud, seeing Night of Champions as a satisfying finish for their feud and allowng Miz to focus on being MITB holder, but apparently, that’s not quite the case. After Bryan expertly got Edge into the LaBelle Lock, Alex Riley (Miz’s newly employed assistant) hit the ring to distract and help Edge hit the Spear for the victory. King put this over as it taking three men to defeat Bryan, whi9ch helped him look good, crucually, against a former World Champion, as well as against a future World Champion in the Miz, implicitly suggesting that he could hang at that level. After the anonymous GM further upset Edge by reversing the decision, what followed wasn’t pretty (in a good way) as Miz and Riley beat Bryan voraciously while berating and humiliating him. It is this sort of action that makes WWE so compelling in my view. Surely Bryan will retaliate next week, and so surely it will be Bryan-Miz at Hell in a Cell, meaning that Miz will get beaten again. I’m not sure how wise that is, but this is still a hot feud, so no doubt it will make for a good match and conclusion.
I’ve wished and hoped and prayed that WWE would show some common fucking sense and keep the Women’s Championship as the new unified Women’s title, but apparently the idea of a butterfly-style Divas title is more appealing to WWE. I don’t want to rant here, so all I will say is that it is an absolutely disgraceful act of disrespect to any female wrestler who has ever held that belt, challenged for it, or even wrestled at all. That belt had a lineage dating back to the 50’s. The Divas belt is two years old I think. I was genuinely sickened by what I saw when LayCool came down the ramp as ‘Unified Divas Champions’. Take nothing away from LayCool though, I love their gimmick, and I like the idea of co-champions too. Layla had a decent enough re-match with Melina which showed she was worthy of being the last ever Women’s champion, finishing it, with a little help from McCool, with a devastating flipping stunner sort of move.
Eve and R-Truth again took on Ted DiBiase and Maryse this week, with DiBiase debuting music of his own (there must have been something in the water this week, as Daniel Bryan, quite aptly but amusingly, came out to his new song, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkries). DiBiase has had good entrance music since he debuted on WWE, but his new song, for what it’s worth is horrible and cheesy. As for the match, it was a good enough outing again. All four obviously have talent (Eve’s new neckbreaker finisher is pretty special), but this feud is going nowhere (just think, it was originally Morrison DiBiase was feuding with, but it was so uninspiring, they had no trouble basically substituting Truth in there!), with them just taking each other on each week. What is interesting is this admirer that Maryse seems to have gotten. This could lead to an interesting feud. It depends who it’s against. It could be anyone from a reborn ‘Sexual Chocolate’, to Goldust, to Khali, or a wrestler of a similar level to DiBiase (someone like Ezekiel Jackson would be cool). If it’s not stupid and is a legitimate feud, it will be very good for all concerned.
Our main event saw John Cena take on long-time nemesis, Wade Barrett, or so we thought. Barrett came out and stood on the announce table (which I thought was really cool) and basically told Cena that either he would have to endure a Nexus gauntlet match to meet him, or he would get beaten down, so Cena took the former. With Barrett standing eagle-eyed on the announce table through all the action, John Cena started off against Heath Slater. The match against Slater was pretty good. It got some good time in itself and Slater looked really strong, eventually succumbing to an Attitude Adjustment. Next up was Otunga, who, like Slater, was all over Cena, hitting him with some pretty devestating power moves which Cena could only escape by rolling Otunga for the pinfall. Tarver came next and rabidly beat on Cena for a while with flying punches and kicks in a way he manages to make his own, though he was quickly dispatched with an STF. Finally, Justin Gabriel made his way to the ring. Gabriel surely hugely impressed everyone two weeks ago against Cena, so it is no surprise that this was the main focus of the match-up. Again, Gabriel seemed to have the better of Cena (one criticis of this match would be that it was a little unbelievable how helpless Cena seemed at times). As for Cene, he was proving all his detractors wrong. He pulled out not only a perfect dropkick (like he did less perfectly at Night of Champions), but an exploder-style throw which can now be added to his arsenal. Good on Cena. It’s getting harder and harder for people to say he can’t wrestle. As he was closng in on victory, however, Nexus stormed to ring to make it a no-contest and ‘save’ Barrett. This would have made for an uninspiring closing shot, but fortunat6ely, Barrett and Cena had a big announcement. At Hell in a Cell it will be Barrett-Cena, one-on-one to dictate the future of Nexus. If Barrett wins, Cena joins Nexus; if Cena wins, ‘Nexus is history’. Now, eventhough i’m 95% sure Cena will be winning that match and ending the storied and, at times, fantastic and innovative, Nexus angle, I wouldn’t take it for granted. It may be so predictable that a swerve and a Cena heel-turn could be the result. I’ll save all that kind of speculation for my Hell in a Cell preview, but whatever happens, and however predictable the result may be, i’m sure it will be a very good match with a ‘big fight feel’.