Night two of Teddy Long as General Manager - We're at three tag matches for the week just from Raw. I can only imagine we see a few more. Tonight, we'll see a battle royal to determine next week's GM. We'll start the show with a backstage party with the Divas in bikinis and some visual jokes with Hornswoggle. Teddy Long comes in in his apron and says that everyone can make a mess, because Eve will be cleaning up. Long introduces Santino Marella, the United States Champion and he kicks off the BBQ, but can't get the grill to light. Kane steps in and all goes silent, then he does his usual pyro motion, igniting the grill. Cute opening - These types of specialty shows sometimes exist "outside" the realm of WWE storyline and whatnot, but Kane has been humanized lately, not to mention less monster-y, since he was made to fight Big Show, a key heel.
Among a breakdown of the battle royal, Michael Cole says he will be getting to the bottom of AJ's table-related shenanigans tonight. Lillian Garcia introduces Ricardo Rodriguez, who introduces Alberto deo Rio, who goes through his full entrance, just to talk.
Del Rio grabs a mic and says that tonight, he's not here to celebrate America, he's here to talk about himself. Del Rio says he'll be sending Sheamus back to Ireland, crying. He continues to say that Sheamus is a peasant and a hooligan, like the WWE Universe which is why they cling to him. ADR says he has worked hard and is successful and came to the US legally, making money here and in Mexico. The people here make him sick and he wants to send Sheamus and all these people back to where they belong. Ricardo and ADR hop to the floor and start asking people for their papers, saying they don't belong. The third man asks says he doesn't have papers in Spanish and ADR calls for security; the man says this isn't Arizona, this is Texas - Topical! Sheamus' music hits and he heads right for Alberto, who shoves Ricardo into him. Sheamus shrugs him off and takes it to del Rio on the ramp. Ricardo jumps on Sheamus from behind but gets cast off and Sheamus continues the assault on ADR. He throws him into the barricades and once again Ricardo attacks from behind, this time enough of a distraction to allow ADR to fight back. Ricardo opens the hood of the car del Rio drove in and encourages ADR to put Sheamus underneath, slamming the hood onto him repeatedly. Little more of a cruel streak than we typically see out of Ricardo, but par for the course for ADR. The "illegals" thing was kind of tasteless, but it was all a set up for a Texas vs Arizona joke, so no real harm done.
Back from commercial break, medics are walking Sheamus away from the car, and he has a decent cut on his forehead, which adds effect to what we just saw. Sheamus isn't the type to need to be walked out with help, so he is actually showing vulnerability here. Next up, The Great Khali in action. Super.
Match 1: The Great Khali and Layla (Diva's Champion) vs Antonio Cesaro and Aksana
Winners: The Great Khali and Layla via pinfall
Cesaro still has his ludicrously generic intro music; they need to go back and just grab the music he used in FCW, as this upbeat, happy tune doesn't fit him whatsoever. One of Cesaro's key advantages is that he's a tall guy in great shape - Putting him next to Khali entirely takes away from this. Cesaro starts with strikes, but Khali puts him in the corner and delivers a frying pan chop. Cesaro dodges a big boot in the corner and clips the leg, going to work on Khali, who fights back, putting him in the corner and delivering another chop. Khali delivers a chop and almost falls all on his own, then Cesaro dodges another and tags in Aksana, drawing Layla in, who easily takes control. Layla delivers a kick to Aksana's midsection then gives her double springboard crossbody. Cesaro breaks up the pin, but Khali disposes of him, letting Layla deliver the Layout to Aksana for the pin. Then Layla and Khali dance.
Cody Rhodes finds Teddy Long in the back and says that the Board of Directors accepted Rhodes' appeal and he will get another Money in the Bank qualifier tonight. Long will select his opponent - It will be against Christian, who Rhodes has been unable to defeat as of late. Rhodes is less than thrilled.
Raw 1000 Moment with Mick Foley: Tony Schiavone announces that Mick Foley will be winning the WWE Title over on Raw. 600,000 people change the channel, in one of WCW's most egregious mistakes during the Monday Night Wars. One of the better Raw 1000 moments thus far.
Match 2: Cody Rhodes vs Christian (IC), if Rhodes wins, he is in the Smackdown MITB match
Winner: Cody Rhodes via pinfall
Rhodes opens with a headlock and a shoulder block for a quick one count. Rhodes continues with a kick to the gut and another quick pinfall attempt. Christian throws elbows and whips him to the corner, then delivers a flapjack for one. Rhodes stops Christian's corner flip kick through the ropes, then delivers a springboard knee, akin to the Beautiful Disaster. Rhodes with quick pin attempts, then he gazes up at the briefcase above the ring, leading into a commercial. Back, Rhodes has a hammerlock cinched in and Christian tries to fight out, trying an elevated lucha-style snapmare, but Rhodes lets go, leaving Christian to just fall. Rhodes with a front suplex for another two count. Rhodes keeps the assault going in the corner, continuing a focus on the arm. Rhodes elevates Christian to the top rope, but he fights out and lands a missile dropkick. Christian mounts a comeback and lands a low dropkick on Rhodes, leaning on the bottom rope. Christian lands a top rope crossbody for two. Christian begins clapping, calling for the Killswitch, but Rhodes escapes, then lands a Bob Holly-style kick while Christian is across the top rope, then tries the Alabama Slam, but Christian rolls through. Rhodes puts Christian into the ringpost shoulder first, then rolls him up, but Christian is out at two. Christian hits a diving reverse DDT while Rhodes tries to take the turnbuckle pad off in the opposite corner, but he kicks out. Christian wants a spear, but Rhodes boots him then tries the Disaster, which Christian dodges and tries the Killswitch again - Rhodes spins out and lands Crossrhodes for the win.
|The intensity of a future World Heavyweight Champion|
Now that's how you let a guy get his win back and get him away from the title he lost. With Kidd, Christian, Sandow, Tensai, Marella and Rhodes in Money in the Bank, Rhodes is definitely the current favorite.
Back to the BBQ, everyone is enjoying themselves and Zack Ryder comes in and drops boy band names. Heath Slater comes in and says he'll provide entertainment, singing his song; he gets peppered with garbage. Ryder hits play and Brody Clay's music hits, bringing him and the Funkadactyls in. This is not what the Great American Bash was all about back in the day (ok, old fogey mode has now been initialized).
Match 3: Alex Riley vs Dolph Ziggler, Money in the Bank qualifier match
Winner: Dolph Ziggler via pinfall
Vickie gets her chorus of boos as she introduces Ziggler. Riley gets no music on his introduction, so we know who's winning this one, just a question of how fast. Ziggler will serve to offset Rhodes as a 'guaranteed' winner. If one of the two of them aren't the winner of Money in the Bank, it's nothing shy of a mistake. Ziggler jaws at Riley to start, and he opens by dropkicking Ziggler right in the mouth for a quick two count. Ziggler hits a neckbreaker, then lays in with right hands and a jumping elbow drop. Ziggler settles into a chinlock on the mat and does a headstand. Riley begins to rise to his feet and delivers a belly to back suplex to separate. Ziggler runs into a back elbow and Riley hits a big clothesline, followed by another and a big spinebuster for two. Riley tries for his elevated DDT, but Ziggler runs him into the corner, then comes up empty on a stinger splash, letting Riley roll him up for two. Ziggler drops Riley neck first across the top rope and lands the Zigzag for the three.
Ziggler says it's his time. You're right, Dolph. Riley with a strong showing in this one; he seems crisper in the ring, but if he can't keep up for longer matches, this is why he'll be in the position he's in for the rest of his career. He might need a chance to show that he can do just that, as WWE's roster is thin.
Michael Cole is going to get to the bottom of why AJ shoved CM Punk through Daniel Bryan and a table on Monday. Cole in the middle of the ring is a great way for a chorus of boos to ring forth from the WWE Universe. AJ skips down to the ring, all smiles. Cole says he's been fair and balanced with AJ in the past, then says AJ hasn't been balanced. Cole interrupts AJ as she begins to rebut, showing a replay of AJ, Bryan and Punk from Monday. The WWE production team that puts these videos together deserves a Slammy this year - They are the stars of the show on a weekly basis. So AJ, what were you thinking? AJ says she's been asked that a lot lately, only to be interrupted by Cole again. Cole says she wasn't thinking and switches allegiances on a dime. He suggests that the Board of Directors has made a mistake making AJ the referee for the WWE Title match at Money in the Bank. Cole calls her a troubled little girl, and AJ's smile fades. Cole says he doesn't know what AJ sees in Punk or Bryan and asks if AJ has thought about pursuing a real man, with power and influence - Cole is now hitting on AJ. Bryan's music hits as Cole says AJ could have "all of this". Thank you Bryan. Daniel Bryan comes out, holding his ribs, selling his ribs from the table fall. Bryan says Cole isn't anything special; he calls him a sexist, emotionally abusive bully, just like the rest of the media. Cole makes things up if the story doesn't fit. Bryan says this story isn't about Cole. Bryan turns to AJ, who is now laughing and says that he knows AJ better than anyone. He brown noses her and says that she will do a good job at Money in the Bank. Bryan says AJ only meant Punk to go through the table and Bryan forgives AJ for not realizing he was in the line of fire.
Right on cue, Cult of Personality hits and the WWE Champion heads to the ring. Punk wants Cole out of the ring, Cole argues and Punk tells him to hit the bricks, which he does. Punk says two people were affected by AJ's actions on Monday and his body hurts because of it. Punk says this is what he's used to, as a wrestler. He won't sweep it under the rug like Bryan and plans to be blunt and honest with AJ, because he's worried about her. Punk says she's not in a good place, mentally and it could very well be partially his fault, which he apologizes for. He says AJ needs professional help. Punk doesn't plan to lie to AJ or string her along like Bryan just to get what he wants - Bryan interrupts, saying it's a load of garbage. Bryan says Punk doesn't care about AJ; he does, however. Bryan says Punk is "playing" the good guy. Bryan says Punk only cares about AJ being the referee, because Punk needs her to beat him. AJ holds them apart, then steps toward Bryan and kisses him, which the crowd is not happy about. Punk looks a tad distraught and turns to leave the ring, hopping off the apron. AJ follows, spins him around and plants one on him too. Bryan is nothing shy of flabbergasted. AJ skips off, leaving Punk to contemplate just how much he digs crazy chicks. AJ yes's at the top of the ramp, all smiles once again.
AJ is entirely the focus of the storyline, which to a point is fine. The WWE title is a bit secondary here, but if the payoff is worth it after Money in the Bank it can be excused. Not to mention we'll get another Punk vs Bryan match, which is always a treat.
Match 4: Santino Marella (United States Champion), Sgt. Slaughter and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs Camacho, Hunico and Drew McIntyre
Winner: Santino Marella, Sgt Slaughter and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan via pinfall
Santino says, in honor of Independence Day, he wants to introduce his partners tonight. First, Sgt. Slaughter, and next, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. Camacho starts with Slaughter, who rings the arm and elbows it, then tags in Santino, who gets elbowed in the face. Camacho slams Santino in the corner and tags in Hunico, while the crowd joins Duggan in a USA chant. McIntyre tags in and delivers a snap suplex to Santino for two. McIntyre tries an armbar and then clubs Santino's back. Tags on both sides bring in Duggan and Hunico, and Duggan runs wild on him, leading to a three point stance clothesline, but the pin is broken, with all six men in the ring. Hunico and Duggan get the ring back to themselves and Santino tags in with the Cobra for the win.
We pull these guys out for all of the "special" episodes. For the 4th of July, it's ok, but they kind of lose their surprise and shine when we know it's coming. Who doesn't love hearing that big "HOOOOOOOOO" out of Duggan though??
Back to the BBQ one more time and everybody is having some fun. R-Truth and Little Jimmy are enjoying themselves, and Damien Sandow halts the festivities. Ryder gets in his face and Sandow takes offense to being called "bro". Ryder tells Sandow to leave and they start to fight. Ryder grabs a punch bowl and Sandow ducks, leaving Eve to get soaked. Teddy Long is happy about it and Eve stomps off. Derrick Bateman is doing the twist, apparently desperate to get noticed.
Match 5: Curt Hawkins vs Ryback
Winner: Ryback via pinfall
Tyler Reks with a mic, says that Hawkins won a coinflip to face Ryback. So Ryback has graduated to non-local jobbers. I don't know if that's a step up for him or one more step down for Hawkins. Hawkins clubs Ryback's back then slaps him. Hawkins escapes a gorilla press attempt and slaps on a sleeper, but takes a backpack chinbreaker after being told he's stupid, then gets deadlifted by his neck. Ryback brings him to the corner and gives him a choke suplex and a big time lariat, then readies for his usual finish. Reks is disappointed on the outside. Who's sure that Reks faces Ryback sometime in the next week?
Raw 1000 Moment with Donald Trump: Trump drops cash down on the fans and upstages Vince.
Teddy Long is out to kick off the battle royal, asking the fans for a Holla Holla Holla, which they deliver. Long says the winner of this battle royal will be Smackdown's General Manager next week.
Match 6: Great American Bash 20-Man Battle Royal
Winner: Zack Ryder
Del Rio and Kane are the first two to be introduced, followed by Jack Swagger. The All-American American was otherwise not mentioned on the Great American Bash. Quite the slump he's in. John Cena is next. They head to commercial, so most of the rest of the intros will be taken care of then, aside, most likely, from the WWE Champion. Back to the show, Tensai is mid entrance, followed by CM Punk. Big Show follows the WWE Champ, because belts are secondary now. Justin Gabriel is quickly eliminated by Big Show. Show dumps Brodus Clay out as well. John Cena judo chops Damien Sandow in the corner. Ezekiel Jackson is next to tumble to the floor. Ziggler and Ryder are going at it, continuing their Twitter and YouTube feud. Khali gets dumped out by a half dozen superstars. Ryder eliminates Sandow and Rhodes narrowly avoids elimination, then tosses Santino out. Rhodes goes after Big Show, landing a Disaster kick, then gets driven over the top, along with Kofi, by Big Show. To commercial. Wagering a guess, I say six guys are left when they return.
Way off - They're still at least at twelve. Punk and Bryan are going at it mid ring and Punk dives at Bryan, taking both of them over the top. A less than calculated move by the WWE Champion. Kane and ADR flub a sideslam spot, of all things. Kane gives John Cena a chokeslam and Kane and Show grab each other by the throat. Kane kicks him and then Chokeslams Big Show as well. Tensai and Ziggler, along with ADR, focus on Cena. Cena fights back knocking Ziggler and ADR out, then delivering a spin out powerbomb to Tensai, a back body drop to ADR, another bomb to ADR, then eliminating him, followed by an Attitude Adjustment on Kane. 30 seconds and Cena hits more moves than the rest of the guys in the match combined. Tensai attacks Cena, but Cena manages to dump him over the top. Big Show runs up and tosses Cena out. Ryder gets speared by Show and Show tries a Chokeslam on Christian, but ends up just tossing him out. Ziggler tries a sleeper, and Kane boots Ziggler and Big Show out all at once, leaving just himself and Zack Ryder. The crowd is all sorts of behind Ryder. Kane takes it to Ryder, who escapes a powerslam, but runs into a bit boot. Kane whips Ryder to the corner, but he hits a drop toe hold into the corner and the Broski Boot, setting up for the Rough Ryder, which Kane blocks. Ryder escapes a Chokeslam and low bridges Kane, winning.
Not a bad "special" episode, likely because it was live. Ziggler and Rhodes qualify for Money in the Bank, making it mean something. One of these two men will win - One of them should be World Heavyweight Champion by year's end. Punk and Bryan continue to be the focus of most shows (Ok, it's actually AJ, but at least something involving the WWE Champion is getting some time). Next week, Zack Ryder will be the GM of Smackdown; the GM for Raw is still unknown, and until the 1000th episode of Raw, we won't have a permanent authority figure. Oddly enough, without that, things seem to be a bit more under control. Good action in the singles matches and Long didn't overload us with tag matches; he did give us the Great Khali though, so thumbs in the middle for his evaluation as GM. A bit late, but enjoy that American Pride!
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