This weeks show opened, happily, with CM Punk being typically forthright about his shame at being – seemingly – mistaken about HHH being in on a fix against him. He then told HHH (when Hunter arrived) that the fact that they didn’t like each other was being used against them by an interested ‘higher-up’. Though the only person (at least in character terms) above HHH is Vince McMahon, Punk, interrupted by Executive Vice-President of Talent Relations, John Laurinaitis, was not able to make any specific accusation. Mr. Future Endeavors, acting more and more like a conspirator, then tried to fire Punk, but this was quickly blocked by HHH, who said he’d be conducting an investigation, and he would be firing someone by the end of the night. It’s interesting how the relationship between HHH and Punk has evolved. They still don’t like each other, but they do respect each other, and now Punk seems interested in a conspiracy in the WWE. As long as he remains the Voice of the Voiceless agitator all the while, then that’s fine, because as long as that continues, this new central story may be a more easy-to-follow and focused, and therefore more successful. As for Johnny Ace, he is behaving in such a way as to almost declare he is a conspirator. Maybe he is, but it seems too obvious as of this writing, in an era where red herrings are becoming more prominent. The question then becomes, who is behind this conspiracy for status quo, and who is the main beneficiary? As long as it sticks to that, with Punk the central and most outspoken victim, speaking out against the system that is being blindly enforced, all will be good.
A lot of eyes rolled when Alberto Del Rio squashed John Morrison. I understand why that is, but this was one of my favourite parts of the show. Maybe it’s because i’ve never really liked JoMo, but I have no problem seeing him buried, especially when it allowed Del Rio to show such sheer rabid aggression. Del Rio is one of the best actors on the roster, at least in terms of facial expressions, and the way he applied that arm-breaker was full of furious aggression. This was especially important as it gave the recently dethroned WWE Champion some credibility as a top talent, and a top wrestler.
I was excited to see Sin Cara vs Cody Rhodes, but that didn’t happen. Fortunately, it was replaced with an interesting confrontation between the two Sin Caras, and indeed, it was pretty incredible to see these two identically clad luchas battle off in their high-flying, spectacular way, and it was certainly great to see. With one of them not speaking English though, and being restricted to pointing all over the place, it may be difficult to tell this story satisfactorily. Hopefully not.
Mark Henry simply ruled again in his interview segment with JR. His furious demenour is genuinely terrifying, and the way he was directing it at the audience was so intense and unique it was actually chilling, but that was nothing. compared to what was to follow. Henry forged ahead with some great Reality Era material about how the fans had never supported or believed in him, and about how JR himself, when he was head of talent relations, held him back too, and indeed, JR was to act as the martyr for all those that detracted from him, and what we saw then was shocking, and nothing but awesome. Ross’s voice quivering in apology, Henry’s scary, brutalist way of talking ‘This is the part where you beg for your life,’ Ross squealing that he was going to pass out, Lawler accepting that he’d have to take Ross’s place, and the World’s Strongest Slams to Lawler, including Heney’s trademark slam through the table. Henry said he would be an unstoppable champion, taking on all-comers, and as far as ‘statements to the locker-room’ go, it was one of the best i’ve ever seen.
In some ways I wasn’t surprised to see Nattie pinned by Eve Torres. I think the storyline is calling for these two to be frustrated by the model divas, despite them being stronger, and possibly leading to the old double-turn between the two factions. The problem is, I think by this point, that theme has been driven home, and these losses are starting to make the monicker of the ‘Divas of Doom’ seem less and less credible. Presumably we’ll be seeing another title match for Beth or possibly Nattie, but as of now, it seems difficult to justify it.
When Hugh Jackman first appeared on camera, I was fed up pretty soon (see my first tweets about him). However, as it turned out, he was used in the best way for a celebrity guest star; he put over a wrestling story and not himself. Jackman tasked himself with getting the biggest underdog on the roster to beat the US Champion Dolph Ziggler. The good thing about this was that it made Ziggler, and beating Ziggler, seem like a big deal; the problem, however, was that the obvious choice for his opponent, Zack Ryder, and he hardly seems like that big an underdog to Ziggler. Nonetheless, come the match, Jackman was very honourable in putting Ryder over so extensively, and partly with his help, Ziggler beat the US Champion. To me, it seems Ryder will be the next challenger for the title, and given his momentum, and Ziggler’s current story with Jack Swagger, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryder is in line to be the next US Champ. Jackman’s involvement was just a good and unique way to set all this up.
I wont talk too much about the main event match. It was a good but ultimately identikit tag team main event brightened by Punk’s involvement especially as he gained an impressive pinfall to keep some momentum as a top guy. The real story came once the match was over though as HHH announced that, despite earlier reassuring Miz and Truth that they would not be fired, Miz and Truth were indeed fired, thus implicating them in the current ‘conspiracy’ theory, so it seems something must have happened between his initial reassurance of the two. Backstage, the style of shooting became much more realistic and, if you will, ‘edgy’ as Triple H was walking, furious, only for The Awesome Truth to jump him from behind before the whole roster, seemingly supportive of Trips across borders of face and heel, helped him and violently threw the duo out. This in itself was excellent as it seemed to genuinely show a sense of paranoid chaos backstage, again pointing to the growth of the burgeoning Reality Era. The problem is that, obviously, Miz and Truth aren’t fired, and they are top talents that you can’t imagine being off TV for long, Cena-style. Nonetheless, this focused the whole conspiracy storyline in a way that was a little more satisfying than at Night of Champions because it actually provided a discernible cliff-hanger with interesting questions (other than ‘what just happened?’) Why were they the two that were fired and not Laurinaitis? Who is behind Miz and Truth acting in this way? What do/did they hope to achieve?
Whatever happens, if it links to Cena’s title win, has Punk central as the Voice of the Voiceless, and makes sense, it will continue to be fascinating. A very good RAW which was a good start to building for Hell in a Cell and for pulling storylines together.