A week out from Money in the Bank - Last night, Impact Wrestling crowned Austin Aries the new World Champion on one of the best PPV shows of the year. Tonight, we see how WWE treats the lead in to what was their most important show last year.
As expected, we get a recap of last week and AJ putting the WWE Champion CM Punk and Daniel Bryan through a table to end the show. AJ's apparent psychosis has fully taken charge in this storyline, leaving the WWE Title secondary. This is a key mistake WWE has made for far too long - In this particular case, we may see a good pay off, as Punk and Bryan will put on a great show and guest referees can occasionally be a good mixup to just a straight forward match. They need to deliver on this possibility, though, especially with the showing TNA gave us last night.
After the intro video, AJ is first out to the ring, skipping down the ramp. AJ reminds us that she will be the guest referee at Money in the Bank and she knows that her actions will affect the outcome. The thought of this is overwhelming, making her very emotional. AJ asks the crowd to help her welcome CM Punk to the ring. As his music hits, she grins nice and big. Punk asks what this is all about and AJ recounts him calling her mentally unstable, saying she needs professional help. AJ denies this, saying she is in control; she appreciates the sentiment, however, continuing that nobody has shown compassion and concern for her like Punk. When AJ kissed him, she knew it: Punk's eyes, they send love straight into her heart. Punk fills AJ with "passion and desire"; he turns her on. AJ says she knows what she has to do and drops to one knee - AJ proposes to CM Punk in the opening of Monday Night Raw.
Before Punk can respond, Daniel Bryan dashes down to the ring, yelling "no no no". Bryan says this would be the biggest mistake of AJ's life; Punk doesn't love her. Bryan says Punk is playing her, because she is the referee at Money in the Bank. Bryan continues that he never stopped having feelings for AJ. According to him, Punk only cares about one person: Himself. The WWE Champion responds and says the Bryan doesn't know anything about him or how he feels about AJ. Bryan dares Punk to say "I do" to AJ. Punk is a tad distraught and Bryan says that Punk only sees her as a special referee; Bryan sees her as a special person. When Bryan woke up this morning, he didn't intend to stop a proposal, he wanted to make one. The number one contender drops to his knees and takes AJ's hand, asking if she will marry him. Punk says it's a load of crap and if Bryan woke up today thinking about this, where's the ring? Bryan is exposing himself as a fraud and a phony. Punk says he'll talk to AJ later and Bryan gets in his face - The not-at-all missed Anonymous Raw General Manager chimes in and Michael Cole exposes the infamous laptop, ready to read. The ARGM thinks Punk and AJ make a great couple, putting them in a mixed tag match tonight against Eve and Daniel Bryan. Bryan is livid about this and the laptop chimes again: If Bryan wins, maybe AJ will see him in a different light? AJ says this is all confusing, but she's happy that she and Punk have this match tonight. She thinks everything happens for a reason and that tonight, she'll leave the arena with her future husband. AJ skips off back up the ramp.
Well that's twenty minutes of the go-home show gone. I'm a fan of AJ's antics and this storyline in general, but this went on far longer than it had to. WWE is just working to keep AJ on screen as much as possible before the crowd turns on her.
Tonight, Big Show and Chris Jericho take on John Cena and Kane. Four guys from the PPV in a tag match? What a surprise. Thank you, bog standard WWE booking.
Match 1: Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion) vs Jack Swagger
Winner: Sheamus via pinfall
Swagger with a go behind and take down to open, then throws Sheamus into the turnbuckle. He tries a Swagger Bomb, but gets caught in White Noise as Sheamus hits his feet quickly. Sheamus heads to a corner then levels Swagger with a Brough Kick.
So 30 minutes into the show, that's how they start the action off - Sheamus beats Jack Swagger in thirty seconds. In what world does this get people hyped up or excited for a championship caliber match? Alberto del Rio honks his car's horn in the back and appears on the Titantron, saying Swagger is not at all like himself. Del Rio vows to take the World Heavyweight Championship on Sunday. Sheamus is none too happy and Swagger takes another Brough Kick in his frustration. That's your upstanding champion, folks.
Santino Marella is in the back, congratulating Zack Ryder for winning the Great American Bash Battle Royal. Ryder says he'll be more entertaining than the anonymous Raw GM when his turn comes on Smackdown. Santino vows to find out who is behind the laptop, donning his Sherlock Holmes hat, a pipe and a magnifying glass. Again, not the type of thing that makes someone go "I need to pay $50 to watch three more hours of this on Sunday."
Back from a commercial, Michael Cole reminds us that Rock vowed to win the WWE Championship after Wrestlemania. Apparently we will learn more about this in two weeks at the 1000th episode of Raw. Didn't Rock also say he wasn't leaving again? Months ago?!
Match 2: Tyson Kidd and Christian vs Dolph Ziggler and Tensai
Winners: Tensai and Dolph Ziggler via pinfall
Ziggler starts out with offense on Kidd, who quickly answers back with Code Blue. Christian tags in and forearms Ziggler, followed by a flapjack and a diving European uppercut. Ziggler quickly tags in Tensai, who tosses Kidd off the apron. Christian wants the Killswitch but Tensai elbows out. Christian dodges him in the corner and hits a missile dropkick, but with Sakamoto's distraction and Ziggler's interference, Tensai is able to attack Christian in the corner, then drop a senton on him for the win.
Tensai continues the attack on Kidd from last week, powerbombing Kidd onto the apron, Kevin Steen-style. For good measure, Tensai drops a senton on Kidd on the floor. You would think they would want the high flying star to shine a bit before the Money in the Bank pay per view. And again, we see a ludicrously short tag match between four guys involved in Money in the Bank, this time on the Smackdown side. Sell us the show, WWE. How do you ignore Destination X one night ago and give us this to make us shell out money to you?
Cole and Lawler argue about who should be the permanent GM and Cole throws a drink on Lawler. The Anonymous GM chimes in as he does so and Cole says he will not read what has appeared on the screen. Lawler steps up and informs us that tonight, we will see a Wrestlemania rematch, pitting Jerry "The King" Lawler against Michael Cole. One more chime: The WWE Universe will decide if this match takes place, since Cole is protesting. The crowd, of course, begs for Lawler to smack around Cole. People can vote on www.wwe.com. Terrible.
Match 3: Brodus Clay vs Drew McIntyre
Winner: Brodus Clay via pinfall
Drew complains about Brodus' dancing and comes out swinging, but gets backed into the corner by the Funksaurus. McIntyre jumps off the top, trying a double axe handle, but dives into a headbutt, which Clay follows with a splash for another thirty second win tonight.
Cole says this is why Raw is entertaining, this is why we tune in. This is why people should tune into TNA. Hell, order a Dragon Gate USA show.
Santino is in the back and finds Chris Jericho, accusing him of being the Anonymous GM. Jericho says he hates the laptop and says maybe Santino is the Anonymous GM and covering his own tracks. Santino almost suspects himself, calls Jericho a sonamagun and heads off. Big Show walks in and Jericho tries to remind of him of the Jerishow days, when they were a strong tag team. Big Show says Jericho should just stay out of his way and he won't knock him out tonight. Big Show is not a team player.
Raw 1000 Moment with Stephanie McMahon: Stephanie tricks HHH into thinking she's pregnant, they almost renew their vows and HHH pedigrees Vince. Three hours of this soon. Good God.
Match 4: John Cena and Kane vs Chris Jericho and Big Show
Winners: No contest?
Cena grabs a mic before the rest of the entrants arrive and says he is excited for Money in the Bank. John Cena talks about the risk of the multi man ladder match and that people will become ruthless with opportunity hanging overhead. Every time someone has cashed in, they have become champion; Money in the Bank changes the landscape of WWE. For John Cena, the briefcase represents two things: John Cena stopping Big Show and becoming Mr. Money in the Bank. Cena vows to capture the briefcase on Sunday. I'm sure that will make your partner want to cooperate tonight, John. Also, he's the only man in this tag match to never be in a Money in the Bank; who is he to talk about the risks?
Cena and Jericho start off and Jericho takes a hard shoulder block and a turnbuckle to the face. Cena whips Jericho to the opposite corner and lands a one handed bulldog. Jericho tags in Big Show and bails to the floor for a moment. John Cena and Big Show go hand to hand and Cena tags in Kane. Show overpowers Kane, but Kane slips under and lays into Show in the corner. Big Show reverses an Irish whip attempt and clotheslines Kane in the corner. Show delivers a headbutt, knocking Kane to the floor. Jericho takes advantage with a kick to Kane. Kane rolls himself back in and Big Show keeps the assault going. Kane tries to fight back, but gets shouldered to the mat. Big Show jaws at Cena on the apron, then goes back to striking Kane. Show tags Jericho back in, who walks right into a throat thrust. Cena is tagged back in and awkwardly whips Jericho to a near corner, followed by a clothesline and a fisherman's suplex for two. Show lands a cheap shot on Cena, letting them take control into a commercial break.
Big Show is still in control as Raw returns and Cena takes a frying pan chop to the chest. Cena dodges the next one and tries a scoop slam, but Show falls on Cena, leading to a two count. Cena fights back to his feet and jumps at Big Show, but gets caught in a bearhug. Cena fights his way down and delivers a belly to back suplex to the Big Show, leaving both men down. Cena makes an unnecessary diving tag to Kane, who strikes Big Show into the corner and lands a running DDT for a two count. Kane mounts the top rope and misses the diving lariat, which Big Show answers with a spear. Kane kicks out in two and Show keeps the attack up, tagging in Jericho, who climbs up top for a double axe handle. Jericho boots Kane in the corner repeatedly, then chokes him on the middle rope. Jericho keeps the ref's back to his corner, allowing Big Show to attack Kane while he's down, leading to another commercial.
Returning, Jericho still has Kane on the mat, but he is stirring, lifting Jericho up and driving him into the corner. Jericho boots his way out, but runs into a huge sideslam from Kane. Cena tags in and lands jumping shoulders and the spin out bomb on Jericho, warming up and landing the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Jericho tries for the Walls of Jericho, but ends up taking an Attitude Adjustment. Big Show drags Cena out before the three count and launches Cena into the barricade and mows over Kane with a clothesline. In the midst of all this, the bell rings, for no apparent reason. Show grabs a pair of ladders and puts them in the ring. Show whacks Jericho with the ladder, then Kane. Big Show puts Jericho in the ladder and slams it shut on him, then presses down on the rung of the ladder, putting pressure on Jericho's back. Cena slides in and grabs a ladder, knocking Show out of the ring with it. Cena's music hits. Unannounced no contest or DQ to hype us up for Money in the Bank? No dice. All that match for no real payoff.
A replay of the open of the show, ending about an hour ago, with AJ proposing to CM Punk and Bryan counter-proposing to her. When Raw expands to three hours, we are going to see a lot more of these reminders of what we already watched, so don't worry about paying attention.
CM Punk is warming up in the back and Eve wishes him luck, then Punk cracks a spray tan joke. Eve is wishing him luck with AJ, not the match. Eve mentions Punk being WWE Champion, but over shadowed by HHH, The Rock and Brock Lesnar. But being over shadowed by AJ? That must be emasculating. Punk is mad. Which he should be. So it seems like WWE knows that it doesn't value the Title, but just flat out doesn't care...until Cena gets it back, of course.
Santino finds an iPhone, declaring it the phone of the Anonymous GM. The Great Khali says he is, then is not, then who is the Anonymous GM. Santino calls him a sonamagun and heads off. Yick.
Match 5: Sin Cara vs Heath Slater, Money in the Bank qualifier match
Winner: Sin Cara via pinfall
Sin Cara tries a springboard elbow, but Slater gets most of a neckbreaker, then pounds him on the mat. Slater gives him a scoop slam and delivers elbows for a one count. Slater then settles into a chinlock and moves to an arm wrench. Sin Cara grabs a knuckle lock and hits his springboard spiral arm drag, then an enzuigiri from the apron and a high crossbody. Sin Cara follows up with La Mistica for the pin.
Slater grabs a mic and says that this is not fair; Slater is a future champion and will prove it. Slater demands any former champion, be it John Cena, Kane, Jericho, anybody - Slater will beat them. Bob Backlund heads to the ring.
Match ?: Heath Slater vs Bob Backlund
Winner: Bob Backlund via submission
Backlund gets a "you still got it" chant for walking around the ring and Slater is begging for a fight. Backlund offers a handshake, but Slater delivers a kick to the gut and a punch to the head. Backlund ducks the next attack and locks in the Crossface Chickenwing, leading to Slater tapping.
|Not even Mr Backlund could save this show.|
Ok, technically not a match, but just as fun as anything else in the ring thus far. More fun, actually. Crazy Mr. Backlund is always appreciated.
Cole stands up and shows the poll results for Lawler vs Cole: 75% "yes". Damnit. Cole calls the crowd hypocrites: People don't want him wrestling, but then vote to put him in a match. When Cole is the one making sense, I don't know what to think.
Match 6: Michael Cole vs Jerry Lawler
Winner: Michael Cole via laptop garbage
Cole tries to run out early, but Booker T rolls him in, as Book and Josh Matthews are at the booth. Cole offers a handshake, but Lawler scoops him up for an airplane spin. Then he pins him. I was kind of hoping for a botched piledriver, but whatever.
ARGM chimes in and says "due to blatant interference from Booker T, the decision is reversed". Michael Cole wins via DQ, I guess. Santino's music hits, and he walks out, still in Sherlock gear. Santino says if the Anonymous Raw GM is here tonight, they must be under the ring, as he has searched high and low. The Anonymous GM chimes and says "no I'm not" and then continues saying nobody is underneath the ring and to leave. Santino is tripped from under the ring and dragged underneath. Lawler drags him back out and Hornswoggle is in tow with what appears to be a toy laptop. Lawler says he ought to spank him. Hornswoggle kicks Lawler in the shin and bites Santino's ass, then kicks Cole in the shin and leaves.
That's it. There's your Anonymous Raw GM storyline ending. You know what? No. I'm not even gonna.
Match 7: Eve Torres and Daniel Bryan vs AJ and CM Punk (WWE Champion)
Winners: CM Punk and AJ via pinfall
It's 10:57 and the "main event" hasn't started yet. And surprise surprise, it has the combatants of a title match at the impending PPV. The men open up the match, laying into one another back and forth. Punk delivers a back body drop, but finds himself taking kicks from Bryan in the corner. Punk counters a whip with a leg lariat and AJ tags in, which means Eve enters the match as well. Eve kicks the midsection of AJ and sends her off the ropes. AJ tackles her and strikes away, but Eve takes control again in the corner. AJ fights back with forearms, but runs into another kick, followed by another from Eve, who then tackles her and punches her. Eve stands AJ up just to fling her back to the mat by her head. Eve tries a handspring attack but lands on AJ's knees. AJ fights back once again and lands a dropkick to the top of Eve's head, then a clothesline in the corner and a spin kick to the jaw. Eve kicks out in two and crawls for a tag, but AJ tries to stop her. Eve kicks her off and Daniel Bryan drops off the apron, refusing to tag. AJ rolls up Eve and gets the quick win.
Punk enters the ring to celebrate and gets a hug from AJ. Bryan grabs a mic and says he just proved that AJ means more than any match. Bryan says they should leave and go get married right now. Punk picks up the mic and says he won't use AJ or lie to her to keep the WWE Title. Bryan, on the other hand, will. Punk says he doesn't care if what he says costs him a match or a title: He's not going to marry AJ. Punk apologizes if that hurts her feelings, but says he cares enough to tell her the truth. AJ approaches Punk and slaps him across the face. Bryan tells AJ to "come home" and she gives him a slap as well. AJ laughs and then YES's her way up the ramp. The crowd is audibly behind her in all of this.
So that's it. That's the Raw that's supposed to sell you Money in the Bank. It really puts us in a pickle though: CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are vying for the WWE Title on Pay Per View. This is something we as fans should support. Unfortunately it's surrounded by, well, what we saw tonight, which is garbage that we shouldn't support at all. After last year's Money in the Bank, I was sure they would work to get people to watch the show again this year, as it really did make a huge change in the WWE landscape. With the setup this year? I'd suggest you order a replay of Destination X instead. Unless they do something incredibly special with Smackdown, I'm not sold at all.