WWE Raw - June 25th, 2012
Chris Jericho returns tonight - At the very least, we have that to look forward to. They should quickly work to build a program for him leading into Money in the Bank; people are always happy to see Jericho. The show opens with a video, yet again, of the CM Punk/Daniel Bryan/Kane/AJ scenario. This is a bright spot, as it focuses on the WWE Championship.
After the video, AJ is in the back, explaining things, though she is the only one on screen. Tonight, she seems to be in a bit of a Kane-themed outfit again. She needs to drift from Bryan, Kane causes her inhibitions to subside and she sees Punk as a soul mate. She thinks they should all go their separate ways. The camera pans around and she's practicing this chat into a mirror. That's definitely a new way to open Raw. Seems like none of the three has her favor anymore than the others, which disagrees with the end of No Way Out.
Brodus Clay makes his return to Raw and faces Big Show tonight, cementing the idea that John Lauranaitis' decrees are done with. Tonight, John Cena makes a 'big announcement'.
Vickie Guerrero comes out on stage; she is the interim General Manager for Raw and Smackdown this week. The crowd, as per the norm, gives her the business. Vickie expect to become the permanent GM and it seems like the permanent choice will be selected on episode 1000. Our first match will be a three way elimination match.
Match 1: Daniel Bryan vs Kane vs CM Punk (WWE Champion), non-title elimination Triple Threat
Winner: Daniel Bryan via pinfall
Again? The WWE Champ opens Raw. We see these men face off yet again. It's too much. They need some separation to make future title matches special; make them mean something. All three of them need to face others. Apparently, WWE has hash tags for each of the participants in the match for the WWE Universe to vote on who AJ should be with. Silly.
The smaller men go after Kane to open the match, but he takes right over. Bryan chopblocks the knee and lays into him with kicks, coupled with Punk, and now both men lay boots to the devil's favorite demon and Bryan rolls up Punk as soon as he turns his back. The usual formula - With Kane eliminated momentarily, it becomes a temporary one on one. Punk gives Bryan a curb stomp for two and Kane tries to fight back from the floor. Bryan dives at Kane off the apron and gets caught and put into the barrier as we roll into a commercial.
Back, we find Kane has taken control of both Punk and Bryan. Kane heads to the top rope, but Bryan cuts him off. Bryan wants a superplex, but Punk puts a stop to it. Bryan ends up in the electric chair and Kane tries a doomsday device, but Bryan uses a victory roll to dodge and Kane whiffs. Bryan gets two and then he and Punk give Kane a double suplex. With Kane out of the way momentarily, Punk and Bryan are back to fighting with a fervor. Punk low roads Kane as he rushes him and then back drops Bryan onto him on the floor. Punk takes a moment to gather his thoughts then hits both men with a suicide dive. Michael Cole reminds us that Punk's current title run is the fourth longest in fifteen years. Bryan tries the Yes!lock, but Punk fights out and slingshots him into a recovering Kane, then clubs Bryan with a big kick. Punk wants the GTS, but Kane boots Punk, sending Bryan flying and letting Kane get a two count. Big sideslam from Kane on Punk is good for two again. Kane heads to the top again and this time he lands the diving clothesline. AJ's music hits and she skips to ringside. AJ skips around, taking a lap and heads back to the back. Punk counters a Chokeslam and lands the GTS, pinning Kane. Bryan slides in after the pin and pops Punk in the head with a kick and picks up the victory.
Pretty good triple threat; the elimination factor is always a bit fun; that's how Ring of Honor does most of their three way dances. AJ did the same run in as last time, but the distraction seemed significantly less - Kane still tried the Chokeslam, Punk just countered it.
Cut to Vickie Guerrero in the back and Alberto del Rio enters and begins to brown nose Vickie with flowers. ADR says he's the rightful number one contender; enter Ziggler. Ziggler tells him to get in line. Ziggler wants one more shot after coming close on Smackdown. Tonight, a contract on a pole match for a World Heavyweight Title match on Friday night. Ricardo reenters with a vase for the flowers and Ziggler tosses it into the wall. Been a while since we've had an "on a pole" match on Raw. We had a tuxedo match at No Way Out, so why not?
WWE Rewind to last month and Big Show taking out Brodus Clay, along with R-Truth and Kofi Kingston. I can only assume the Big Show/Brodus Clay match is next.
Match 2: Brodus Clay vs Big Show
Winner: Big Show via pinfall
Despite the gravity of the match ahead of him, Clay is still happy to dance his way down to the ring. It'd be nice to see someone more concerned with a big fight than his entrance bit once in a blue moon. As Big Show makes his entrance, now Clay is all business. Big Show opens with strikes, but Clay fights out of the corner. Off an irish whip, Clay takes Big Show down with a headbutt to the chest. From the mat, Big Show kicks at the previously injured knee of Clay and begins to drop elbows on it. Big Show keeps the attack up and wraps Clay's leg around the ringpost. Back in the ring, Show readies for a Vader Bomb and lands it. Show grabs Clay by the hair and cocks the WMD, but Brodus fights out. Clay tries a scoop slam, but his knee gives out and Show lands on top of him for the pin.
Not an especially dominant win; more so because Clay made a bad choice and just couldn't get up. If I had to wager a guess? This continues on for another week or two. A doctor is out to check on Clay; if they play up an injury angle, then I may be wrong. I can't see any reason to put Clay on the shelf unless they plan to repackage him in some way and I doubt that with the way the young'uns love the Funksaurus.
A recap video for John Cena and his Make-A-Wish efforts. Cena has granted 300 wishes. It's fun to poke at the character and almost frustrating to talk about how he's booked and portrayed, but never let it be said that the man doesn't care about his company and his fans. You can't watch a a video package like this and nod your head saying "Yeah, I'm sick of the character he portrays, but this is an all-around good man".
Raw 1000 moment with Bob Barker: His own guest spot in 2009. To be fair, he was one of the best guest hosts in that awful guest host time period.
During the commercial, Big Show surprises Clay with a WMD. Like I said, surprise WMD is my favorite new gimmick in WWE.
Rewind to No Way Out and HHH lobbying for a match with Brock Lesnar at Summerslam and Heyman's answer one week ago. Next week, Lesnar will personally answer HHH's challenge.
AJ is in the back, talking to Kane. Kane is not happy that he feels things around AJ. He says he's not boyfriend material. Kane is a monster and his only source of pleasure is eviscerating people and even he finds AJ "mentally unstable". For AJ's own good, Kane says they should stay away from one another. AJ starts to cry, then quickly transitions to laughter. Crazy chicks!
Match 3: Jack Swagger vs Santino Marella (c), United States Championship
Winner: Santino Marella via pinfall
Why would Jack Swagger be getting a US title shot? More of that "just because" booking that makes no sense. Vickie Guerrero in charge or not, this is silliness. Swagger wants a handshake and pops Santino one in the face. As per the commentators, Vickie isn't aligned with Swagger any longer, so her influence doesn't make a whole lot of sense for this title match. Swagger remains in charge with kicks and a powerslam. Swagger applies a surfboard on the US champ, but he quickly fights to his feet and lands a belly to back suplex. Santino hits jabs, a split and a hip toss, followed by the big headbutt and the Cobra comes out. Swagger lifts Santino, but he counters into a big DDT. Santino lands the Cobra and the three.
Well, Jack Swagger looks like crap. Still makes no sense to me; he's so big and strong and such a solid wrestler, but the wheels of his career have been stuck in the mud for quite some time. The US title would be a great way to give a bit of credibility to guys like Tyson Kidd who need to be shown to the mainstream crowd more often. At least the Intercontinental title still means something...
A Divas summertime beach battle royal will take place tonight. John Cena is in the back, heading toward the ring and sees a box labeled for things that need a good home, among them, a People Power shirt. Zack Ryder walks in and tosses the shirt in the trash then gives John Cena a broski fistbump. That's probably all we'll see of Ryder tonight.
John Cena makes his entrance at the top of the hour. Once he reaches the ring, the vocal males let him know what they think (spoiler: They booed). Cena has an historical announcement tonight. Cena makes a goofy Star Wars story about the cage match at No Way Out. Then he laughs at his own joke...someone Send for the Man. The lights go dim and Chris Jericho makes his return to interrupt the inanity. The crowd is plenty happy to see him. Jericho tells Cena to make his announcement and hit the bricks. Cena says he'll be in Money in the Bank, just to stop Big Show. Cena wants to win. Jericho takes offense to Cena assuming he'll win just because he's John Cena. Cena reminds Jericho that he's 0-3 in Money in the Bank ladder matches, so what's his point? Jericho tells Cena that he needs to take Money in the Bank seriously. Cena has more to contend with in the match than just Big Show, because Jericho is entering himself. Vickie comes out to preside over the goings on. Vickie confirms there will be two Money in the Bank matches - one per title. Jericho interrupts and Vickie yells at him - He smugly asks what she'll do, suspend him? (Jericho is just off a 30-day suspension from a flag-related incident in Brazil). According to the Board of Directory, only former WWE champions will take part in Money in the Bank this year. Kane, Big Show, Jericho, John Cena are eligible. Cena sasses Vickie and she will make the main event of Raw: John Cena vs Chris Jericho.
So if this is to be taken at face value, only four men will be in the WWE Title Money in the Bank ladder match. And those four men are Kane, Show, Cena and Jericho. This is not the spirit of Money in the Bank. I'm going to reserve judgment for now, because that was awkwardly explained and I can't imagine a Money in the Bank with only four men. Traditionally, Money in the Bank has been a showcase of young talent and affording them an opportunity to work with some higher level talent.
Lillian Garcia is attempting to introduce a former Raw main eventer for a match, but Heath Slater interrupts. Interesting gimmick for the one man rock band. Slater says he doesn't care what Roddy Piper and Cyndi Lauper think of him; he's one of the top stars on Raw and he rules the world...a precursor for his opponent.
Match 4: Heath Slater vs Sycho Sid
Winner: Sycho Sid via pinfall
I could get behind this gimmick; Slater uses someone's catch phrase and they come down and smack him around. Sid lays into Slater's midsection then seats him on the top rope by his neck, only to slap him down. Slater goes after Sid's leg, which made me cringe (If you've never seen Sid's leg snap search around for it), but Sid fights back. Sid calls for the Powerbomb and delivers. Sid pins Slater.
Fun return; it's interesting to see how they integrate someone's catchphrase into a promo to deliver on it. I have a feeling after Raw 1000, these guest spots will end, but for now it's a nice diversion.
Match 5: Alberto del Rio vs Dolph Ziggler, contract on a pole match for number one contendership to the World Heavyweight Title
Winner: No Contest
Audible Ziggler chants from the crowd. Ziggler shoves del Rio and makes a mad rush for the contract, but gets stopped. Del Rio tries a quick grab as well, but Ziggler isn't having any of it. Ziggler runs into a tilt a whirl backbreaker after an elbow from the corner. ADR wants the contract again, but Ziggler drags him down. Del Rio whiffs an enzuigiri and Ziggler drops him with a russian leg sweep. The crowd continues to be behind Ziggler, as he flips out of another try at a titl a whirl backbreaker and lands a beautiful dropkick. Ziggler uses his agility to rush the pole again, but del Rio puts a stop to him once again. Ziggler climbs over del Rio up top, but del Rio gives him a samoan drop from the top, leaving both men down. Del Rio is the first to stir, but both men go up top again. Ziggler rips the contract down, but neither man holds on to it, and now they fight over it on the mat. Strikes back and forth, but until someone has control of the clipboard, the match continues. Ricardo tries to grab it for ADR, but Ziggler kicks it out of his hands and it ends up on the floor. A scramble to reach the floor ensues and both men tumble out of the opposite side of the ring and hit the floor hard. Sheamus' music hits and he walks out with a microphone. Friday night is going to be a triple threat for the World Heavyweight Championship. The match won't be about showing off or destiny; it's about Sheamus kicking both of their arses.
This was somewhere between great booking and an odd non-ending. I hate to see any match go without a real ending, but a triple threat could provide a different opportunity for the men involved. This could just as easily have been accomplished with the match ending with both men holding a page of the contract or something. Curious if that was an audible called in the back or planned all along. Regardless, Ziggler gets another shot and Albero del Rio gets the shot he should have gotten before the concussion.
CM Punk will take on Daniel Bryan for the WWE title at Money in the Bank. Cut to Punk in the back on the phone, with his eyes quickly covered by AJ from behind. Punk guesses it's King Kong Bundy; just a bit off. AJ is dedicating her participation in the Divas summertime battle royal to CM Punk. Punk wants a serious talk after the match and AJ leaves him a bit confused. AJ is in a robe; they usually only put the girls in robes when they have something special to show off to the crowd.
Raw 1000 moment with Mick Foley: "This is your life" birthday party for The Rock in 1999.
Match 6: Divas Summertime Beach Battle Royal
Vickie comes out and says People Power is dead...Long live Vickie power. Vickie is out in a robe, meaning one thing only. Vickie is in a one piece. The girls all go right after her. Maxine and Asksana are quickly eliminated. Alicia Fox rolls out and basically eliminates herself. Rosa is out next, then Tamina. Natalya holds Layla for Beth, but Beth hits Nattie by mistake, then gets dumped out by Layla. AJ goes after Layla and thanks to a distraction, eliminates her. This leaves Vickie and AJ. Vickie dumps AJ, but she hangs on and climbs back in. AJ puts on the sweet smile for Vickie and after a push, pounces on her. AJ gets rid of Vickie and wins the battle royal. AJ celebrates with Daniel Bryan YES's. Didn't she dedicate this one to CM Punk? Oh you crafty minx you...
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Next Tuesday is a live Smackdown, The Great American Bash.
Match 7: Chris Jericho vs John Cena
Winner: John Cena via disqualification
Strong Y2J chants as John Cena's music kicks in. The two open with a couple quick mat exchanges and the crowd opens with a Lets Go Cena/Cena Sucks duel. Jericho slaps Cena and bails from the ring, trying for the psychological advantage (and setting up the commercial break). Jericho is in control back from the commercial, but Cena is fighting out of a headlock. Cena runs into a boot and Jericho lands a second rope missile dropkick for two. Jericho continues with a belly to back suplex and boots to the ribs. A low dropkick puts Cena on the floor. Back in, Cena counters a suplex from Jericho with one of his own. Jericho takes back over with a kick to the chest of Cena, who wanted a back body drop. Cena finds himself in a chinlock, but fights back to his feet again. Cena lays into Jericho, but runs into an elbow, followed by a Lionsault attempt that Cena dodges, allowing him to go into his comeback routine. Jericho grabs the legs as Cena tries the Five Knuckle Shuffle but Cena fights out of a Walls of Jericho attempt. Jericho swings wildly, and Cena hits his spinout powerbomb and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Big Show's music hits and the distraction allows Jericho to apply the Walls. Big Show gets in and drops a leg on the back of the prone Cena, causing Jericho to be disqualified.
Jericho is mad about the unnecessary loss, but leaves Cena to Big Show, not wanting to provoke the giant. Big Show delivers a Chokeslam to Cena and then stands over him and applies the Colossal Clutch. Cena is out cold as the show fades. Big Show stands tall, a threat to Cena, the WWE Title and the WWE as a whole.
This was an odd Raw. Opening with the WWE Champion has become almost standard, which is a shame; no other company does this on such a regular basis. The triple threat was good, but we've been seeing this for a month, which means all three men need to wrestle other people so that when they do fight for the title, it's something special, instead of "oh hey, the same match but now for the title". It's hard to complain about Bryan/Punk at Money in the Bank, because it's bound to be a great match. The rest of the wrestling action was just kind of there on this episode. The pole match was pretty good, but the odd ending is hard to call - An audible because it ran long or an ending that didn't need to be there? The divas battle royal existed solely to showcase AJ; there seems to be a lot of steam behind her, which is good. She isn't the "typical" diva and is capable in the ring, so a continued focus on her is healthy. The episode as a whole was very AJ-centric, which is odd - WWE must see something in her. Not that the fans haven't said so for a while now, but it's great to see WWE and the fans agree on something for once. Raw's Money in the Bank being Kane/Jericho/Cena/Big Show is a baffling choice, but it will likely help in leading to Cena/Rock for the WWE title at Wrestlemania; maybe Rock wins the Royal Rumble and the title soon after, Cena cashes in at 'Mania? We'll see moving forward.
If you missed Ring of Honor's Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis, be sure to check my twitter feed @sbfantom for a first hand reaction from the Hammerstein Ballroom.