One story has completely dominated the aftermath of this week’s RAW, and rightly so – the shock retirement of Edge from WWE. I’ve already posted on this, but I will add to it in this post. A LOT happened on this week’s episode, and I think some of the less inspiring moments can be attributed to the time taken up by Edge’s shocking, upsetting announcement, so a bit of slack has to be allowed to management this week.
The opening seg was a bit of cookie-cutter booking, but what better way to get three young guys out there claiming stake to the title, than having a free for all in which people claim a right to the #1 contendership? How R-Truth can justify a claim at the title is beyond me though, given that he’s barely been on TV recently to the best of my knowledge! I liked the idea for determining the new #1 contender; a singles version of ‘Tag Team Turmoil’. Easy excitement, and a good way of highlighting the importance of the WWE Championship by making people literally jostle for the spot.
I like the Bellas. They’re better wrestlers than people give them credit for (though not to give them too much credit!), but I don’t understand why Eve should drop the title to Brie. It just seems like the division is a bit directionless at the moment. It was a decent match, but characteristically brief. Saying that, there was a couple of interesting developments that might bring more interest to the division. Firstly was the vignette of Awesome Kong. Whatever happens, she will be great for the division, and I can’t wait to see how she is booked. Obviously people are already dreaming up fantasy matches for her with the likes of Beth Phoenix and Natalya, but my idea, given her destruction of a doll in her vignette, is to have her form some sort of alliance (Gail Kim? Natalya? Beth Phoenix?) against the models in the division, though the ones that can wrestle, to help drag up the standing of the whole division. She could target people like Layla, Eve, Maryse, the ones hired for their looks who have really taken to the craft, for being there as models and not athletes, and this could lead to some great matches, and especially when the group eventually splits. The second interesting development was the backstage segment following the match with Eve decrying the backstabbing in the divas lockerroom – a storyline of sorts coming from that seems a lock, and a storyline is halfway to great wrestling.
When I saw Primo in the ring to face Sin Cara, I admit to instantly thinking ‘squash’, but it was certainly more than that. It was an odd one though. The early exchanges were suitably quick and high octane, which really showed the potential excitement that Sin Cara (and Primo, for that matter) can bring, and Cara really got the crowd on his side. Primo did, however, get a surprising amount of offense in, but this may not have been the best time for it, as it robbed Sin Cara of some of his momentum. Nonetheless, some awesome stuff from Cara, such as his many ranas, his remarkably fluid sunset flip powerbomb, some nice strong kicks, and his backflip downward spiral finisher. He did fall from the turnbuckle before he could deliver his finisher, which was obviously a botch, but he recovered quicly – though maybe he should have sold more. I was amazed we didn’t see his La Mistica finisher (tilt-a-whirl into a single-arm DDT and a Fujiwara armbar). As far as I know, that’s his primary finisher, and we probably should have seen that, but I suppose it might have been intentionally saved to make it seem like he keeps on offering more in the ring when he does use it. It was a good match, though maybe not the best vehicle for introducing this important star. Apparently Vince hasn’t been too happy with his impact yet. Yes, he nearly botched his first trampoline entrance, but that’s a hard thing to just take away – it will be very noticeable if they do. Maybe we’ll see him feuding with Primo – I certainly hope Primo benefits from the association, though apparently management are down on both guys after the match, which seems a little unfair. I hope there’s little truth to that.
Next we had ‘Apple’, take on The Corre. This was comic stuff here, and i’m sure it wont last, and it was good to see Corre going over again – something they really needed. My only problem with this is that Bryan deserves better. Switch places between him and Truth in booking, and everything’s perfect. Fun match which did it’s job. Before and after, Corre were squabbling though. It’s definitely too early to split them up, so I hope that isn’t the plan.
Not much to say about Lawler-Swagger. Nice enough match, again showing that Lawler is simply class in the ring. This match was punctuated by the shouts of Cole and J.R. at ringside in respective corners, a highlight of that being J.R’s line: “Your guy had you in an ankle lock and now has a wrist lock. Show’s how stupid he is!” Eventually, following the distractions from ringside, Swagger was rolled up by The King, allowing him to choose the stipulation for his match with Cole at Extreme Rules. I was hoping for a one-on-one strap match, but we were instead offered a tag team match (does that count!?) between Lawler & J.R. against Cole & Swagger, who Cole had just slapped and alienated, perhaps signaling a face-turn down the line? I’ll save more for the eventual preview for the PPV, but i’d rather have J.R. announcing than wrestling! Still, he and Lawler have fought together before, so it has that desirable nostalgia/emotional aspect to it.
Next up came Edge’s retirement speech. I’ve already discussed this somewhat here: https://rtvwrestling.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/thank-you-edge/ but i’d like to reiterate my thanks to him for everything he’s done. Maybe traditionally, he should have put Del Rio over at WrestleMania, but I really believe this news is sudden, and they weren’t sure then that he would be retiring. On the plus side, for one of the most popular superstars of his generation (both with the fans and contemporaries, as can be seen in the remarkable outpouring for him), it was great that his last match was a successful World Title defense at WrestleMania with Christian by his side. It was truly moving to see, pretty much, the whole roster, babyface and heel alike, backstage applauding him following the speech. He has truly earned their love and respect. Again, thank you Edge.
The main event was fun, but as with chaotic matches like this, there’s not much to critique, as it’s all storyline progression. Miz gets needed TV time on commentary, watching his prospective challengers, and the first match-up is Orton vs Ziggler. Nice stuff here, and it shows that these two could work an awesome programme. Eventually, the New Nexus show up, coming back surprisingly quickly from the punts, and cost Orton the match. Nice way for Ziggler to go over a tog guy while continuing Orton’s feud with Punk and the New Nexus (though Punk apparently had the night off …). I thought the Nexus was dead, but i’m happy to see them back, with the strict caveat that they can recapture some of the most shocking impacts they’ve gained in the past. I was surprised to see Truth go over Ziggler – surely WWE doesn’t rate him higher? Now I don’t like Morrison that much, but he’s definitely a better fit for the main event than Truth, so imagine my surprise when Truth went over Morrison too! (Avoid heat with the management people!) Nice interaction between Miz and Morrison here, as Miz talks about Morrison’s showmanship costing him, right before Morrison’s showmanship costs him the pinfall after not covering Truth following his Flash Kick and instead crashing and burning with the Starship Pain. Miz-Morrison is a definite future PPV main event, but Morrison simply still isn’t at Miz’s level. Finally, we have Cena vs the beaten-up R-Truth. Truth would take even more of a beating from Cena, who delivered the most powerful moves in his moveset short of the AA, all of which, Truth inexplicably kicked out of (it wasn’t bad storytelling necessarily, just why Truth all of a sudden!) Eventually, Miz seemed intimidated by the tough display in the ring, and brought Alex Riley to the ring to attack both guys at once to cause the double-DQ. Having bragged about there now not being a #1 contended, the anonymous GM, in a rare moment of anti-Miz fairness, announced that both Cena and Truth, in fact, would challenge Miz for the WWE title at Extreme Rules in a triple threat match (again, not an ‘extreme’ match!). It’s certainly fresher than just Miz vs Cena, but Truth? Really? Not only would Bryan be much better in the role, but it would make more sense, given his history with Miz and his current transitional state after dropping the US title. Luckily, I think its just a means of helping Cena look strong after losing another title match to Miz at Extreme Rules, but it does mean more prominence for Truth when it isn’t really deserved.