First out was The Miz to cut on Stone Cold and Alex Riley in what was a convincing and engaging promo, demanding an apology (with some justification) from Austin for his assault on him last week when he was an official, saying that he was indeed calling the Rattlesnake out. Austin didn’t have to be asked twice. Now I don’t know whether i’ve said this publicly before, but i’ve always thought Austin was always an overrated talker, but this time, I was very entertained by his words and delivery, telling Miz in his own foul-mouthed way that though he respected Miz’s achievements, it was his time to talk, and if Miz knew what was good for him, he would let him and leave the ring – which Miz (a great coward heel, remember) did. Austin wasn’t given peace though, as Alberto Del Rio came out next to interrupt Stone Cold, where he too managed to flourish, but it was a move which only landed him a match with the tag team partner of the man he injured (accidentally or not) with his car, Kane.
That match was next and was ok, but it was really meant as an angle to further his feud with Big Show and,o a lesser extent, Kane. Del Rio managed eventually to contain the rage of the Big Red Machine, getting him in to his cross arm-breaker. Kane reached the ropes, but Del Rio showed no mercy, not relinquishing the hold after 5 and earning himself a DQ but a statement to him and Show of his power. This was a message Show apparently heard as he ran as fast as i’ve ever seen him to the ring – surely he should have been selling his knee injury more! Nonetheless, the intensity of their coming together was believable and compelling, especially when Show turned his attentions to Ricardo Rodriguez, repeatedly pounding him in the head until he was completely unconscious. This therefore had multiple levels of build for the PPV match which was made immediately afterward, with Del Rio showing some brutally evil traits with his armbar attack on Kane, while the emotion of Big Show came across well to set up the classic money-maker of wanting to see the bastard heel punished by the unstoppable face of justice.
Following this was another nice match featuring Sin Cara and Daniel Bryan against Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, but this time with Ezekiel Jackson and Wade Barrett joining each team respectively. It wasn’t as long a match as their other outings and the inclusion of Big Zeke in a match with such otherwise refined talents didn’t help all that much. Nonetheless another eminently watchable match with these players, this time ending with a Sin Cara springboard-crossbody. One of the many things i’ve liked about Sin Cara has been that he’s won matches with many movessaving his match finishes from ever being predictable. What he needs now is to continue the current programme he’s in with AmDrag, Rhodes and DiBiase, but with some more of a personal issue injected therein. As for Zeke and Barrett, this was just more of them in the ring together (though not one-on-one) Not great build, but I guess it keeps them associated in memory.
Sheamus-Santino was ok for what it was. The real interest here came from the pushing of Sheamus’s power in the ring. Though Santino looked good at points, Sheamus was booked to overshadow him, even kicking out of the Cobra (the first ever person to – yes, kicking out of the Cobra is impressive given how it’s been booked!) before making Santino submit with the addition of a Cloverleaf – a welcome addition to Sheamus’s arsenal going forward as it adds a new dimension to his move-set, maturing it somewhat and equipping him to only become more impressive as he already is.
Out next was Randy Orton returning to RAW where he called out Christian under the guise of just wanting to talk. Christian didn’t bite and appeared on the tron, which Randy admitted was wise. Christian followed up with his best promo for a long time, saying he would only do something if he wanted to from now on, and asking the WWE Universe to poll whether he should come out, before refusing to do what they requested – a nice play on how he lost the World Title to begin with. Orton however managed to coax Christian out by taunting him with the charge of being carried by Edge. Before Orton could get his hands on Christian though, the RAW GM chimed in, claiming that Orton had a concussion and that he would be stripped of his title if he got physical with Christian. This was great build because it really amped up the tension while holding back the actual fighting for the PPV. These two really are great together. Christian didn’t escape action though, as he was made to take on Rey Mysterio immediately. This was fine, but apparently another angle-based match as after not too long Christian was DQ’d for not breaking a foot choke by 5 (though it looked very close – a mistake?) This was followed by the approach of the New Nexus with Mason Ryan eventually managing to get to Rey, despite some admirable fighting, and thrust him in to the ring-post before a predatory Christian would hit the Killswitch for added insult.
Earlier on, GM-Austin had punished R-Truth for an attack on Hornswoggle by booking him against someone his own size, John Morrison, something which surprised me given Morrison has just undergone surgery and would have recovered almost instantly. When Morrison was introduced, no one came out, and when R Truth, who got over as incredibly threatening, went to find Morrison, he eventually found him in a heap, seemingly beat up by Truth, and he added extra pain to Morrison’s experience, by absolutely crushing him with a storage crate. This was great because it makes Truth seem crazy and legitimately dangerous, keeps Morrison on-screen during his recovery, and provides us with a readymade feud when Morrison returns.
There was some nice play from Austin backstage as he made Ziggler admit he would drop Vickie Guerrero for a US title shot. On the plus side for Ziggler, he doesn’t have to drop Guerrero, but on the other hand, Vickie now knows she is a low priority for Ziggler. He and Jack Swagger then tagged against Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne. Another short one, but one I was glad to see Bourne shine in as he hit a shooting-star press for the victory.
Piper’s Pit with Miz and Alex Riley followed. Riley needs to stop wearing suits – HE LOOKS LIKE A HEEL … AND THE MIZ (just a niggling point there). Piper was another highlight for the show, really showing why he is considered arguably the best talker ever, giving A-Ry a rub and bamboozling Miz with his classic line “Just when you think you know all the answers, I change the questions.” This led to Miz berating Piper in retaliation, challenging him to a match with $5000 on the line from each man, which he would wrestle in his suit. Of course, that sort of stipulation meant that the resulting match would only go one way, especially once Austin made A-Ry the special guest ref. It was limited due to Piper’s age, but he can definitely still go and after Riley became a very physical referee, Miz retaliated, which allowed Riley to attack Miz who was knocked backwards, rolled up by Piper and pinned quickly for the loss. Cool segment, and did an ok job of building Miz-Riley, even if Riley wasovershadowed by the other two.
Before the main event there was a fantastic backstage segment between Stone Cold and CM Punk, a meeting which was highly anticpated by many wrestling fans following their twitter (kayfabe one must think) war of words. Indeed, Punk and Austin were excellent together, playing off each other’s completely opposite lifestyles. Punk using Austin’s ‘What?’ chant against him while Austin offered Punk a beer comically before calling him Punk in a more serious, Eastwood-esque ‘Punk’ and leaving.
The main event was the only match of the night given decent time, and it certainly delivered in terms of quality and PPV build. The crowd were seriously wild for this match, which always helps; the main chant being ‘Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks’. Punk and Cena always have decent chemistry, and that was the case again this week, but Punk was given an awful lot of offense, and performed it as sinisterly as he could – one point standing out where he had Cena in an abdominal stretch while twisting Cena’s ears and headbutting him. Punk followed this up with some nice dive attacks from the apron to the floor and then to top rope to the floor. Just as Cena started to recover towards the end of the match, however, R-Truth reappeared on the scene, approaching a ‘little Jimmy’ and offering him a trade of a Cena hat for a trade of water. This was brilliantly sinister, not only because the child seemed in danger generally, but also because of the violent associations Truth has with water (it’s both hilarious and brilliant that that works without being stupid!). This distracted Cena, and rightfully so, and so he tried to warn the kid off Truth, but this only let Punk recover to the point where he could hit a GTS to Cena for the win, a good sign for Punk. Following this, Truth entered the ring, telling Cena how he’d take his title on Sunday before using his water against him, hitting his Cool Shot finisher, and holding the WWE title above him.
Now, while I liked RAW, there were two omissions I didn’t like. The first one is Drew McIntyre. How is that he can’t get on a 3 hour RAW? Well it’s because 3 hours isn’t enough for showing the mid-lower card of both brands. Indeed, I will be writing on the subject of 3 hour specials for the Bleacher Report soon. Keep an eye on my twitter @RTVWOW for that. Hopefully his absence can be explained by him simply working on his new ‘American Nightmare’ character before returning to TV, but its a shame that he didn’t get a spot.
Even worse though was the baffling choice not to book Zack Ryder on the show, not even backstage! RAW came from Long Island, and so it would seem that featuring him, after he’s gotten himself over and after he was featured last week, not in Long Island. A lot of WWE talents and even more fans have spoken out against this mistake (that’s what it is unless they plan to make a weird storyline out of it). I don’t really have much more to say about this: Ryder is over, and got a huge pop for his Superstars match as he’s in his home town and has been seen on TV recently; and yet he was forgotten about. It’s easier to get it right than wrong and WWE somehow got it wrong.