Tonight we're graced with the presence of Teddy Long as the interim general manager. We'll also hear an answer from Brock Lesnar concerning HHH's Summerslam challenge. We open with a replay of the end of last week, with Big Show chokeslamming John Cena and placing him in the Colossal Clutch until he went conscious. Rhetoric from the commentators on how unstoppable Big Show is anchors the video package and we head into the show proper. Tonight is episode 997!
Interim GM Teddy Long has set up CM Punk and Cena against Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho as the main event. Tag matches are kind of Teddy's signature thing, but Bryan and Jericho on a team? I'm fine with that. John Cena's music hits and we will be bookending the show with Cena, it seems. Cena grabs himself a mic and gets a chorus of boos and cheers. Cena thanks Jericho and Big Show for beating him up last week; he needed preparation for his first Money in the Bank match. Cena says he'll be prepared - At Money in the Bank, Big Show goes home empty handed and John Cena will get the briefcase and become WWE Champion. Daniel Bryan YES's his way down to the ring, sans music, and comes face to face with John Cena. Bryan says he didn't even know Cena was in the ring, because Cena is not relevant. He is, however, because Bryan vows to defeat CM Punk and become the next WWE Champion. Bryan says that if Cena cashes Money in the Bank in on him, he will become the first person to fail to capitalize on the contract. Cena says he can think of someone who disagrees, but CM Punk interrupts the interruption. Punk says he disagrees with Bryan and goes into a YES tirade, driving Bryan nuts. Bryan begs for someone to have an original thought and not steal his catchphrase. Punk obliges, telling Bryan that AJ will count his shoulders to the mat at Money in the Bank. Punk turns his attention to Cena and says if he gets the briefcase, it will come down to Punk and Cena once more. Chris Jericho makes his entrance, to tell Punk that he is a wannabe. Jericho jaws at Punk and the WWE Champion calls him Bon Jovi. Jericho suggests Bryan comes up with new catchphrases, and Jericho tells him to "Shut...the helllll...up" and welcomes the crowd to "Raw is Jericho". After tonight, nobody in the ring will ever...eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever be the same again.
Jericho turns his attention to Cena and says that since he invented the match, he'll win it. Jericho dares anyone to tell him otherwise and right on cue, Kane's music hits. Kane comes out and literally tells Jericho "otherwise", then Big Show makes his entrance to round out the crowd. Cena wants Show to bring it on and Bryan attacks from behind, leading to a brawl. Big Show stands tall alone and exits. Odds of Kane and Big Show being inserted into tonight's main event? Pretty good.
Interesting open to the show. A lot of star power right up front to fill the first quarter hour, effectively showcasing most of the major talent on Raw. Jericho rapid firing his old catch phrases is fun and Big Show still remains dominant heading into Money in the Bank.
Match 1: Prime Time Players, David Otunga and Cody Rhodes vs Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (Tag Team Champions), Santino Marella (United States Champion) and Christian (Intercontinental Champion), 8-man tag
Winners: Santino Marella, Christian, Kofi Kingston and R-Truth
Christian and Young open, with Christian taking early control with rights, kicks and a second rope missile dropkick for two. R-Truth tags in and lays right hands in, tagging out to his partner, Kingston, who springboards in with a forearm for two. Kingston hits a standing jumping clothesline and wants the Boomdrop, but Titus pulls Young to safety. Kofi hits a suicide dive on Titus, giving Young the opening to clothesline Kofi on the floor. This reset leads to a commercial break.
Back from break, Rhodes has Kingston in a bow and arrow stretch, then delivers a knee to the midsection and tags in O'Neil. AW is microphoned up, for all to hear. Titus slams Kofi for two. Kofi hits a dropkick and needs a tag. O'Neil tags Otunga and Santino is in on the other side. Santino strikes, hits a saito suplex and a split stunner. The pin is broken up by Young and O'Neil, which the Tag Champs take exception to. AW grabs his team and the head up the ramp. Santino splits under an Otunga attack and hits a hip toss, but whiffs the headbutt. Rhodes waves off Otunga, not accepting a tag, leaving Otunga on his own. To further complicate things, Brodus Clay enters, complete with music. Otunga is avoiding the Cobra, but Clay blocks his escape. Otunga gets rolled back in and takes a Cobra strike for the pin.
Otunga gets up and takes a Killswitch for good measure and Brodus hits the ropes and delivers a big time Funkasaurus splash. Clay's music hits and it's a Monday Night Raw dance party in the ring. Eight guys, some of whom are up and comers, and this is what we get. Fair enough, as AW is shown to be a smart manager, keeping his number one contenders out of harm's way and Rhodes continues on the action from Smackdown where Otunga cost him a spot in Money in the Bank. Rhodes has filed an official complaint with the Board of Directors, which I expect some pay off for on Smackdown, live tonight for the Great American Bash.
Teddy Long is in the back and Alberto del Rio enters, asking for his one on one World Heavyweight Title match he earned three months ago. ADR asks for what he deserves and Long says he doesn't deserve anything, but as per the Board of Directors, Alberto is the number one contender and gets his one on one shot at the World Title at Money in the Bank. Tonight, however, Long sends del Rio out to the ring for a surprise opponent.
Raw 1000 Moment with Stephanie McMahon: Shane McMahon trains Vince McMahon for his match with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Match 2: Alberto del Rio vs Sin Cara
Winner: No contest
That's Teddy Long's threat to ADR - somebody half his size. Oh Teddy, if it's not a tag match you can never quite get it right. Del Rio delivers a knee to the head of Sin Cara as he slides into the ring and begins to assault Cara, locking the Cross Armbreaker in on on the floor. Alberto del Rio sends a message to Sheamus: I will gladly beat up guys smaller than me.
AJ is in the back, sporting CM Punk gloves and Bryan approaches her with a rose. He says he has always cared about her and was frustrated with himself throughout all of this. AJ asks if this has something to do with her being named special referee for his title match against Punk. AJ backs him to the wall and says he never cared about her. AJ wants to win her match tonight and run into the arms of the man the WWE Universe sees as her soul mate. Then she bites the rose off the stem and spits it out. Gotta dig those crazy chicks?!
Paul Heyman is being miked up to respond to HHH's Summerslam challenge on behalf of Brock Lesnar. We get a replay from No Way Out of HHH posing said challenge. Heyman is live via satellite and says that Lesnar has made a decision about Summerslam. Lesnar will deliver it live at the 1000th episode of Raw, face to face. Heyman says that the reason for HHH wanting to face Lesnar at Summerslam is HHH's own escape plan - If Lesnar faces HHH, he will have to retire to never take a beating like it again. He can then go down in a blaze of glory; go out courageously. If Lesnar accepts the challenge, it won't be a match; it'll be a mercy killing.
Turns out I was wrong earlier: Kane will face Big Show tonight with no DQ instead of being inserted in the main event tag match. Next, AJ and Sheamus take on Dolph Ziggler and Vickie in a mixed tag.
Match 3: AJ and Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion) vs Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero, mixed tag match
Winners: AJ and Sheamus via pinfall
Vickie gives herself a grandiose entrance speech, dubbing herself "queen diva", then introduces Ziggler, with quite a bit less fanfare. AJ skips on down and waits on her tag partner. AJ is all smiles in the middle of the ring, and Vickie shoves her. AJ goes after Vickie, but Sheamus stops her and sets her on the apron, telling her to calm down. The men start off, with Sheamus trying to take control with the power game, but Ziggler hits a strong dropkick and takes over. Sheamus fights out of an arm lock and elevates Ziggler high, letting him crash to the mat then delivers an axe handle for two. Ziggler kicks the knee out from Sheamus, who lands across the middle rope, allowing Ziggler to dropkick him on the apron. Ziggler follows with a jumping DDT for two and settles into a chinlock. Sheamus fights up again and puts Ziggler down with a forearm to the face. Sheamus continues the assault with White Noise, going to his corner and calling for the Brough Kick. Ziggler quickly pivots and tags Vickie Guerrero, which forces AJ into the match. Sheamus Brough Kicks Ziggler off the apron, leaving Vickie all alone. AJ kicks her in the gut and lands a Shining Wizard (Shining Apprentice, but who's counting?) for the win. AJ quickly rolls out to the floor and grabs a mic, YESing and skipping her way to the back.
|AJ lays a shot into Vickie Guerrero|
AJ finds Punk in the back, on the phone and demands to know who he's talking to. Punk says it was personal (it was his sister). AJ wants to know what Punk thought of her match, but he missed it because of the phone call. AJ is upset that Punk didn't pay attention to her and pouts off. And there's your conflict to avoid an "AJ is obviously on Punk's side" situation at Money in the Bank.
Back from a commercial, Heath Slater is in the ring and a recap of Slater's last couple weeks, with Lauper, Piper and Vader is shown. Not to mention Sycho Sid. Slater is none too happy about the recap. Slater says it's not funny. Slater says he's not a clown. Only to be interrupted by Doink. Rumors had abounded for Diamond Dallas Page to be here tonight. What a kick in the fan nuts.
Match 4: Heath Slater vs Doink
Winner: Heath Slater via pinfall
Doink grabs a quick hammerlock and a slap, but Slater kicks Doink to the mat and lays boots to him. Slater with a knee lift off the ropes and Doink fights back with a stomp to the foot and a chop. Slater hits a neckbreaker out of the corner and pins Doink. Only to be followed by "BANG" and DDP entering. The crowd is plenty happy to see him. Slater throws up the DDP symbol and DDP shakes his hand, then pulls him in for a Diamond Cutter. It's just one of those moves that you know is coming and you still smile when it happens. Consider my fan nuts un-kicked. Nobody drops a cutter as smoothly as DDP. Nobody.
|We should get one of these every week - Courtesy of http://numbr87.tumblr.com/|
Match 5: Kane vs Big Show, No DQ
Winner: Big Show via pinfall
Show opens up with strong strikes, but Kane fights back. Off the ropes, Big Show shoulders Kane down to the mat. Kane drops Show across the top rope neck first, but Big Show answers by tackling Kane off the apron into the barricade. Big Show follows to the floor and tries to boot Kane, but he dodges, allowing Kane to begin fighting back. Kane tries to whip Show into the steel stairs, but he reverses, sending Kane leg first into them. Big Show grabs Kane by the neck and demands the commentators move. Kane isn't having it and grabs Show by the neck, but Kane ends up getting tossed head first into the commentator table. Show then boots Kane in the chin and rolls him into the ring. Big Show retrieves a chair from ring side and gets back in the ring, but Kane throws strikes to the throat and lands a running DDT for two. Kane tries the diving lariat, but Show ducks. Kane lands near the chair and picks it up, but Big Show spears the chair into the face of Kane, then delivers a chokeslam onto it, which is good for the win.
Smart call keeping that one short - We'll see plenty of them at Money in the Bank and extending the length here wouldn't have helped anyone involved. Show continues to be a dominant force, which is what he needs to be at the moment.
Teddy Long finds Eve in the back and welcomes her back with a giant name tag, the laughs his way off. Even tears up the nametag and finds AJ, crying in the hallway. Eve draws a comparison between herself and AJ, but insults her, saying that the little girl should go in a corner and cry. AJ comes right back with the psychological warfare, saying that Eve will do anything for attention but has run out of people to brown nose. AJ says she'll show Eve how to get attention and heads off.
Raw 1000 Moment with Alberto del Rio: DX invades WCW. ADR says that this is the time that they started watching WWE in Mexico. I feel like somebody from such a strong wrestling lineage should have something better...
Match 6: Tyson Kidd vs Tensai
Winner: Tyson Kidd via pinfall
Tensai powers Kidd right into the corner and lays in with headbutts. Tensai rushes Kidd in the corner, but he dodges and pins Tensai with a schoolboy. Tensai takes his frustration out on Sakamoto in the middle of the ring, then discards him out to the floor. Tensai gives chase and rips at the face of Sakamoto.
Good way to reinforce Kidd as a threat at Money in the Bank, even though we all know what role he'll ultimately play. It doesn't help that Cole hammers home that Kidd hasn't won a match on Raw in "what, two years?!". This is the usual pre-Money in the Bank "little guy" push, and I sincerely hope the push stays around after the PPV. Kidd would be a good choice moving forward to move the US title to.
Bryan greets Jericho in the back and they fight over who has a stupider entrance jacket. Jericho refocuses the conversation into talking about their opponents and they end up dueling chants, which is fine. Punk and Cena are in the back and Punk says that he feels he's grown as a leader and wants to take control tonight. Cena seems to agree and walks off.
The Great American Bash live Smackdown will feature a twenty man battle royal, and the winner will be next week's interim GM. That makes things a bit more interesting.
In the back, Tyson Kidd is interviewed by Josh Matthews, but Tensai hits the scene and brutalizes Kidd. Tensai is to be viewed as a threat in the ladder match as well.
Match 7: Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan vs CM Punk (WWE Champion) and John Cena
Winners: No contest
So even in a tag match, Cena gets top billing over the WWE Title, as he makes his entrance last. Punk and his challenger at Money in the Bank open the match. Bryan with a quick arm drag and a YES. Bryan now with a headlock, but he ends up off the ropes and takes a pair of arm drags and a chop from the WWE Champion. Punk continues with a snap suplex for two and a tag to Cena. Cena whips Bryan to the corner and hits a facebuster for two. Bryan tags Jericho and they tie up. Off the ropes, Jericho shoulders Cena down, surprisingly. Jericho jaws at Cena and they go back to the tie up and Cena goes off the ropes, this time shoulder blocking Jericho down. Cena wants the Attitude Adjustment early and Jericho slides to the apron, where Cena shoulder blocks him again, now to the floor. This leads to the last commercial of the night.
Returning to finish the show, Jericho has Cena pinned in the enemy corner, where Cena tries to fight out but runs into a clothesline. Jericho with a low dropkick and a classic nonchalant, flexing cover. Now with a chinlock, Jericho keeps control Cena fights out but runs into a back elbow, leading to Jericho trying the Lionsault, but Cena dodges. Punk wants the tag from Cena, but Jericho makes it to his corner first, allowing Bryan to come in and lay kicks into Cena in the corner. Bryan makes some room and delivers a running dropkick for two. Bryan delivers a headbutt and then tags Jericho back in. Cena blocks a right hand and tries a fisherman suplex, but the spot goes to hell, so Cena tries to power Jericho down with a spinebuster, but Jericho settles into a front facelock to allow a moment to collect and reset.
Cena tries an Attitude Adjustment out of the front headlock, but Jericho counters into a DDT for a close two. Jericho pressures Cena in the corner and delivers chops. Cena counters an attempt from Jericho as a facebuster and throws him into the corner, leaving both men on the mat. Tags on both sides allows Punk to springboard in on Bryan and hit a leg lariat and swinging neckbreaker, followed by a running kneed in the corner and a snap powerslam, then Punk floats over into the Anaconda Vice. Jericho slides in to break it up and Cena disposes of him to the outside, leading to the two of them fighting toward the back. Bryan backflips over Punk then delivers a hurricanrana pin which Punk reverses. Bryan throws a standing kick to the head of Punk, then one more as Punk is on his knees, for a very close two. Bryan heads to the top rope, but Punk gets to his feet and intercepts, leading to a superplex from the top rope, with Punk floating over for another near fall. AJ's music hits and she skips down to the ring, but neither man pays her any attention, which visibly frustrates her. She hops up on the apron as Bryan delivers kicks to Punk, then she gets down. Both men try a crossbody, leading to both men being down on the mat. AJ begins to search under the ring, then pulls out a table and sets it up on the floor. She climbs the steel steps and eyes the table, then begins to climb to the top rope. Bryan rolls out and tells her not to jump, then Punk grabs her by the arm and meets her at the top. AJ plants a kiss on Punk, then shoves him down, leading to him and Bryan both falling through the table, while she stays on the top rope. AJ begins YESing as the show ends.
|Courtesy of http://ilovewrestlinggifs.tumblr.com/|
A very AJ-centric episode. Now in most cases, such a focus on a Diva would be a detriment. Tonight, it has furthered the WWE Title situation and made the impending Title match all the more interesting to look forward to. Tyson Kidd is further cemented as a "threat" in Money in the Bank; again, I sincerely hope that this once-a-year "small guy" push sticks around for him. We got to see Diamond Dallas Page deliver a Diamond Cutter, which is always a delight. Slater continues his short-term gimmick, which is still entertaining. In true Teddy Long fashion, we got a cavalcade of tag matches, but no complaints there. They helped storylines and made sense. All in all, a good Raw. Be glad to see more like it moving forward.