RAW ‘kicked’ off this week with a tag team match between the likely pairing of Miz and Alex Riley against the understandable pairing of Daniel Bryan and John Morrison. It was a good way to start off the show and among the better matches. I felt Bryan went up a gear with his in-ring performance (i’ve always felt he was slightly holding back on TV so far), really buzzing around the ring (utilising that physical structure well) in a frenzy of dropkicks, clotheslines, lariats and the kitchen sink. The ending of the match was entirely to help Miz look strong, despite having to almost certainly lose on Sunday. What better way of losing well than by adding other opponents to the match? and who better than former tag team partner, John Morrison? Miz’s ‘beef’ was with Bryan, so how do you get Morrison in the match? By setting up some heat between him and Bryan. First off, they had to lose, which was also god for Miz, and they did with quite a smooth finish to the match involving Miz using Bryan to shove Morrison off the ring apron and then hitting his Skull-Crushing Finalé on the stunned champion. Then as the post-match scuffles ensue, have Bryan, for some reason, attack both men. This is where it all falls down. After Morrison helping him against the jealous Miz, it seemed strange and unbelievable that Bryan would attack Morrison, but attack he did – thus creating the required tension between the teo to have Morrison added to the match. A good, solid match and a step-up for Bryan. I don’t know if there was a different way to get Morrison in the match, but Bryan attacking Morrison wasn’t done too well.
Battle Royales, as i’ve said before, are never anything great, but are a good way of finding a completely new #1 contender for a title, among other things. All that needs said then about the divas battle royal to determine the #1 contender to that championship is that Natalya won, and it’s about time. Out of everyone there, I was hoping for either her or Gail Kim to take it. I like up-and-comers like Eve, for instance, and think they have a lot to offer, but someone like one of those two would be still more credible and certainly more unexpected.
Later on came a surreal and comic edition of ‘The Cutting Edge’ in which Edge interviewed the anonymous general manager with his pithy, computer-generated voice. It was certainly kinda silly, but definitely pretty funny also. After some grandstanding, the Anonymous GM informed Edge he had a match, against John Cena. Just a note on the GM’s identity: I know this could be easily glossed over, but with Michael Cole seemingly ineffective during the interview (and with the GM’s use of the word ‘yo’), it seems he may be out of the picture for the role. This is a shame as, for me, he was the perfect candidate. I’ve heard that Abraham Washington has been thrown around, but really, will the RAW audience have even heard of him? I can imagine it now, his Letterman style music hits and the crowd realises the GM is still anonymous! There are other potential candidates, but I wont speculate any more. All i’ll say is that if it is Washington, he’ll have to do real well to win me round.
As for the match, they had a pretty good outing. As you would expect with their deep history, these two have very good chemistry, which showed in the first, overturned ending to the match, where Edge avoided Cena’s running elbow and hit a Spear for the 1-2-3, only for the GM to overturn the decision on legitimate grounds (Cena’s foot was under the ropes). Innevitably, Cena went on to win the restarted match, and did so with his STF. Though he eventually lost, I think Edge getting any sort of 1-2-3 on Cena keeps him looking strong while he’s floating around without a physical antagonist. After the match, Edge smashed the GM’s computer. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next week about this. I doubt it will be long before his identity is revealed. Perhaps there will be a segment about it on Sunday, with Edge complaining that he’s no booked for the PPV, before the GM announces he will reveal himself on RAW. Perhaps.
The Nexus pairing of Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater took on the persisting team of Mark Henry and Evan Bourne in a very short match which is barely worth talking about, beating them in typical heel fashion after Slater interfered in Bourne’s pin-attempt. I really only want to talk about Nexus’s post-match promo. They were talking about how dominant they could be (and will be) with Cena on board, and started getting back to what makes them great: being a threat to the WWE institution. They talked of Cena ‘serving a purpose’ to help them ‘demoralise the entire WWE’. This is what Nexus have let go of (which has made them lose their edge) since their fiery inception – their threat to the company and even the business that all the fans love. What is more, the way they spoke and filled the ring (posing with one on each turnbuckle and Barrett in the centre) made me actually think that a Cena win isn’t quite the full-gone-conclusion that I thought … Hopefully whan everyone appears on Smackdown, the build-up will continue to go in this direction, and help give us a match that is less predictable.
Next we had the Hart Dynasty take on Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes again. I say it that way because this seems to be the way all Hart Dynasty feuds go – just constant booking of the same match. Now I understand that they don’t book the matches, but this doesn’t really happen to other people. There does seem to be something about them that makes it hard to write an interesting storyline for. The match, again, was pretty good, and again, Tyson Kidd looked superb (his tarantula type move in to a cradle was fantastic!). I’ll tell you what, get some or all of Kidd, Gabriel, Bourne, Bryan and Morrison in the ring at the same time and you have $$$. It may be time that WWE continued their new-found investment of interest in smaller guys and facilitate some more X-Division style matches for them to shine. Anyway! The champs retained to surely completely remove the Harts from the tag title picture, but that wasn’t the end of the story. DH Smith took exception to how they lost, with Kidd being pushed into him to stop the double team, and eventually cost them the victory, and snubbed the rest of the Dynasty. This obviously smacks of a split, and while that’s not set in stone yet, it has been very controversial – mainly because the Harts are far and away the best tag team in the WWE and it does smack of a further nail in WWE’s tag team coffin. For me, I realised last week especially how difficult it was to relate to the Harts in their current state. They’re awesome in the ring, and easy to get behind in that respect, but that’s short term, and every other way that counts, they are, as Cole says, boring. Without the belts they have even less of a purpose, and while I understand why people want them to stay together, I would also like to see how they would do in a storyline that is actually emotionally engaging. So would have I suggested splitting them up? No. Do I support it? Kinda. We;ll see how it pans out.
Our main event was the mouth-watering prospect of Randy Orton against Chris Jericho. Jericho started out (no doubt mindful that this would be his last match in some time) with a great promo literally listing the impressive names he has beaten over his career (often comically listing the various gimmicks of a single man). It almost goes without saying that this was a very good match. Orton’s sheer skill and physicality, and Jericho’s veteran nouse and experience made for a match-story well told. These are two of the top performers of their generation, and it showed as they effortlessly put on a flowing, highly realistic and dramatic match. Despite not having wrestled much one-on-one, they showed great understanding of each other – one very good sequence seeing Jericho attempt a Lionsault in which he landed on his feet, but right into the arms of Orton and his unique back-breaker. This was closely followed by a reversed RKO in to a Lionsault that hit for a brilliant near-fall. It really is the believable execution of that sort of stuff that makes matches great. All the while, Sheamus was at ringside(let us not forget HIAC!), watching Orton intently and after Orton hits his Hangman’s DDT and set up for the RKO, he had seen enough, charging the ring, causing a DQ for Orton, and costing Jericho his title shot. For Jericho’s last match for the near future, I perhaps would have liked to have seen a clean finish, but for obvious reasons, Jericho couldn’t win, and a DQ loss is better than a clean loss I suppose. After neutralising the Celtic Warrior, Orton set up for his Punt, with Sheamus only saved by a perfectly timed Codebreaker from Jericho. Obviously this infuriated The Viper, who nailed Jericho with an RKO, and then wheeled his way back for the Punt. Obviously, this is a way of writing Jericho out of TV for while, but also a good potential raison d’etre for Jericho when he returns (which I believe he will). The obvious but flawed story would be Jericho comes back to face Orton, the man that put him on the sidelines. The problem being that Orton has only just turned face and will probably remain so for some time, while Jericho returning will almost certainly be face, and that isn’t likely to work with that sort of storyline. Nonetheless, any sort of return from ‘injury’ is to be well anticipated, and that is especially the case with Jericho (consider the ‘Millenium Countdown’ and the ‘Jericode’!). I doubt anything has been fully planned yet, but I wish him well with his other endevours in the mean time and already can’t wait for his return!