A week out from Summerslam and John Cena is the only man in the WWE Title match who hasn't stood tall to end an episode of Raw. I wonder how tonight will end?
Match 1: CM Punk (WWE Champion) vs Big Show, non-title
Winner: CM Punk via dq (unannounced)
A match to open Raw? Nice change of pace. Of course, the WWE Champion jerks the curtain yet again, but at this point it's more of a storyline ploy than just stupid booking, so it gets a pass. Show opens with power, but Punk aggressively fights back. Kicks to the midsection are stopped with a Big Show headbutt and the onslaught continues. Show chokes Punk in the ropes then delivers a frying pan chop to the chest. Punk runs into a shoulder block and then Big Show stands on his back. Now on the head. Once more to the frying pan chop and the WWE Champion is left helpless on his knees. Show palms Punk's face, but he stomps at the giant's feet and lands a dropkick. Show goes right back on the attack with a big scoop slam. As Punk begins to rise, Big Show attacks his arm, then steps on his back once more. Off the ropes, Punk kicks Show in the face, then the legs. Now the WWE Champion tries a trio of clotheslines and a whip to the corner, but Show reverses. Punk dodges the follow up and lands a knee in the corner, but gets shoved off from the bulldog. Show follows with a spear, leaving both me on the floor.
Daniel Bryan's music hits and he NOs his way toward the ring. Bryan demands to be included in the WWE Title match at Summerslam as Big Show hits a sideslam for two. Big Show heads to the middle rope, but Punk kicks his leg out from under him, then springboards in with a clothesline for two. Bryan hits the ring and attacks Punk, putting him in the No!lock. Big Show drops an elbow on the prone WWE Champion and John Cena hits the ring, clotheslining Show over the top, then back dropping Bryan to the floor. The chaos draws AJ out, and she skips to the ring, which now looks ridiculous, as she's an authority figure.
Later tonight, Bryan will make up for ruining this match by teaming up with Big Show to take on Cena and Punk. AJ Lee just Teddy Long'd the bejeezus out of us.
Nice to see a match to open the show, but since it involved people in the WWE Title match at a PPV, we get a non-finish because nobody in WWE is ever allowed to lose clean before they head into any major match. When this used to happen occasionally, it wasn't so bad, but it's a painful standard at this point.
JTG is in the back with Kaitlyn complaining that even on a 3 hour Raw, he can't get on TV. He says it's crazy as AJ skips by. AJ snaps back in and asks if JTG has a problem with the job she's doing. AJ tells him to head to the ring, as she's about to find him an opponent. AJ asks Kaitlyn if she thinks she's unstable. Kaitlyn says no, but there are many other words she could think of to describe her. AJ puts on her inquisitive puppy face, so I assume some shenanigans are heading Kaitlyn's way.
Match 2: JTG vs Ryback
Winner: Ryback via pinfall
This is why you don't cross the boss. Ryback's music has been remixed to include "Feed me more" on a loop. Ryback once again has a pink-eye situation. JTG ties up with Ryback and gets inverted as he pushes him off. JTG yells "I better not get pinkeye" and kicks at Ryback, then strikes his face, but runs into a huge belly to belly suplex as he yells "My turn!". JTG runs into the pinning boot to the throat and gets slammed into the mat. Ryback takes JTG up for an over the shoulder powerbomb. The crowd is hugely into the "feed me more" chant as Ryback warms up a lariat and connects. Ryback calls for the finish and lands Shellshocked.
Personally not a fan of the remix of the music; it sounds like an awful fan-mix. The vocals in the ring from both men were good for a laugh, and are something that's sorely missing from most wrestlers now a days. The crowd runs the gamut of chanting "Goldberg" at Ryback, but then loves the "Feed me more" bit. Everyone hates everything. Fun squash match.
Via Twitter, fans will vote for Rowdy Roddy Piper's guest - The Miz, Chris Jericho or Dolph Ziggler. This isn't good use of the whole Raw-action thing, but at least it's relatively non-invasive.
Roddy Piper is talking like his typical mad man self and the camera pans over to Shawn Michaels. Piper says he'd be intimidated if he had to fight Brock Lesnar too; HBK says he's not fighting Lesnar. Shawn gets a phone call, apparently from HHH, and says he needs to be there, because it's not his fight. Michaels is visibly distraught.
Heath Slater is in the ring saying that tonight things change. He's going to turn it all around and...out comes R-Truth, with Little Jimmy in tow. Didn't Bryan placekick him clear over the ropes a week or two ago? Kid recovers fast!
Match 3: Heath Slater vs R-Truth (One half of WWE Tag Team Champions)
Winner: R-Truth via pinfall
Slater backs Truth into a corner, but Truth slips out and kicks away at the one man band. Truth delivers a huge hip toss off the ropes and wants his dancing leg drop, but Slater rolls away. Slater fights out of the corner and hits a neckbreaker for one. Slater stays on the attack with kicks to the midsection and now the first chinlock of Raw. Truth fights to his feet immediately and then dodges out of the corner, landing a clothesline. Now another, and right into the Little Jimmy for the finish.
I still can't fathom them calling his finisher The Little Jimmy. The Primetime Players, sans the now-released AW hit the ring to attack half of their opponents for Summerslam. Young and O'Neil strike away at Truth, who gets thrown into the Clash of the Titus. Good to see that they're sticking with the same gimmick, motions, bravado - No need to ruin a good tag team because the manager they were associated with got 86'd. Michael Cole runs most of the verbiage that AW would have anyway. Nothing much lost, but it wouldn't hurt getting them a mouth piece moving forward, especially if they capture the tag titles on Sunday.
Pauly D is the Social Media Ambassador for Raw tonight. This means absolutely nothing and is an utter waste of everyone's time.
Match 4: Sin Cara vs Tensai
Winner: Sin Cara via pinfall
As usual, Tensai shoves Sakamoto out of the way on his way to the ring. Tensai opens strong and goes right for a powerbomb. Sin Cara tries a hurricanrana, but Tensai pulls him back up. Cara goes over for a sunset flip, but Tensai powers through. Tensai tries a Vader Bomb but misses. Sin Cara lands a swanton bomb then delivers an enzuigiri to Sakamoto on the apron, then La Mistica to Tensai, who runs into Sakamoto, then gets hit with a tornado DDT from Cara for the win. Tensai takes it out on Sakamoto with a choke bomb and senton.
Piper goes on a nutty tirade about Ziggler, Jericho and Miz's current goings-on. And the WWE Universe has selected...Chris Jericho.
Piper and Jericho have a back and forth about the last time they saw one another, which Piper claims to not remember. Jericho says he's excited to be in Piper's Pit. Piper says they have something in common; the fans cheer them for no reason. Piper puts over Jericho and Vickie Guerrero comes out shrieking. Piper asks what the sound is and Ziggler is introduced. Ziggler runs down Piper and all three men talk all over each other. Ziggler says Jericho is on his way to being a failed old man like Piper. Ziggler continues the verbiage that Jericho can't get the job done anymore, and after Sunday, Jericho should hang the lite-brite jacket with Piper's kilt. Jericho mocks Ziggler's spaghetti hair and Vickie stands up for him, then is promptly told to "Shut...the hell...UP". Y2J continues and tells all the Jerichoholics that he will beat Ziggler, drawing The Miz out. Piper is awkwardly chanting "Y2J" during Miz's entrance. Miz runs the "really?" bit and says that he and Ziggler can win the big ones. Ziggler won MITB and Miz is the Intercontinental Champion. Miz says he's taking over the show and would like Ziggler to be his guest; he tells Piper and Jericho to get the hell out of the ring.
Piper yells "no" at Miz a few times and Jericho attacks. He tosses Miz out and clotheslines Ziggler to the floor. I think Piper forgot that "No no no" is someone else's catchphrase, aside from the fact that he was all over everyone else on the mic. He's just not as sharp as he used to be and it's really starting to show everytime they cart Piper out in front of everyone. Once again, the social media Raw-Action poll meant nothing - All three choices came out, just like they planned from the beginning. People must be picking up on this already.
Match 5: Chris Jericho vs The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler
Winner: Dolph Ziggler via pinfall
AJ set this match up during the commercial. Miz and Ziggler set their sights on Jericho, who quickly gets overwhelmed. Jericho fights back and delivers a belly to back suplex to Miz and a dropkick to Ziggler. AJ has stated that Miz will defend the IC title against Rey Mysterio on Sunday. Jericho lands a big vertical suplex on Miz but only gets a one. Miz takes a chop to the chest that levels him. Jericho hits the ropes and Ziggler sweeps his leg from the floor. Back into the ring, Ziggler stomps away at Jericho and Miz joins in. Miz holds Jericho up and Ziggler lands a punch to the gut. Now Miz's turn to deliver a kick. Miz chokes Jericho in the ropes and Ziggler distracts the ref, but triple threats are no-dq so it doesn't matter much. Miz and Ziggler deliver a double suplex to Jericho. Ziggler lands his jumping elbow twice on Jericho and pins him, but Miz breaks it up. Jericho fights back in the interim and sends Miz over the top, then backdrops Ziggler right after him. Jericho lands a plancha on both men then celebrates on top of the commentary table. Jericho pulls the top of the table off and throws it on both opponents.
Jericho rolls Ziggler back in and kicks Miz on the floor; Ziggler capitalizes and shoulder blocks Jericho off the apron into the commentary table. With all this action on the floor, it's of course time for a commercial...Back to action, Miz has Jericho in a chinlock and Ziggler is on the floor. Jericho fights up to his feet and elbows out, but runs into a knee to the midsection. Miz chokes Jericho with his boot. Miz stomps Ziggler back out of the ring and goes for a cover on Jericho, but only gets a two count. Miz jumps on Jericho's back and tells him to get up, then does it again. Miz settles into a camel clutch and Jericho fights to his feet again; Miz whips him to the corner and misses on his corner clothesline. Jericho with a pair of shoulder blocks and a triangle dropkick to Ziggler on the apron. Jericho hits a bulldog on Miz and then lands the Lionsault. Ziggler is in to interrupt the pin attempt. Jericho back drops Miz over the top and Miz gets crotched. Now from the apron, Jericho pulls Miz to the top and Ziggler rushes in for a tower of doom superplex/powerbomb. Miz rolls to the floor and Ziggler slowly covers Jericho, who counters into a crucifix for two. Ziggler lands a Fameasser but Jericho kicks out at two. Ziggler stalks Jericho, but Miz sneaks in and hits the Skull Crushing Finale. Jericho breaks up the pin and then counters Miz's attack, wanting the Walls of Jericho, but Miz twists out. Ziggler attacks Miz and Jericho hits a Codebreaker, but all three men are down. Jericho crawls over for a cover and Vickie reaches in and puts Ziggler's foot on the ropes. The ref stops counting and Michael Cole reminds us that there are no DQs, so why does it matter. Jericho counters a pin from Miz and ends up with the Walls of Jericho. Vickie interferes so that the ref doesn't see Miz tapping and Ziggler hits the Zigzag for the win.
That was a fun triple threat. Heel shenanigans, the face set up for revenge at the PPV and altogether good action. Ziggler should hit the ZigZag like this everytime; grabbing the neck first then jumping. That way it looks like an elevated russian leg sweep each time.
CM Punk is stretching in the back and Eve approaches him, congratulating him on his new attitude.. Punk says he's not wearing a black hat or twirling a mustache. Eve says nobody believes that, especially Cena. Punk says he'll go talk to him now. Eve just randomly gets inserted where convenient, it seems.
Shawn Michaels is tentatively walking around the backstage area. Cena taps him on the shoulder and he jumps. Michaels says he's distracted and walks off. CM Punk approaches John Cena and jaws at him for calling him "that guy" last week. Being the champion means everything to Punk; he won't stab anyone in the back. He'll leave Summerslam the WWE Champion and make sure that at the end of the night it's all about him.
A vignette for the return of Wade Barrett plays; Barrett plays up leaving the streets for an easier life. The Barrett Barrage returns soon.
Match 6: Layla (Diva's Champion) and Kaitlyn vs Eve and Beth Phoenix
Winners: Layla and Kaitlyn via pinfall
Beth and Layla start off and Beth gorilla presses the Diva's champ. Layla tries a sunset flip to counter and almost falls, leading to an awkward pin. Eve tags in and lays into Layla who tries her new pinning combo, but misses that one too. Layla hits the double spring cross body, then tries a headlock, which she manages to pull off. Layla dances and hits Eve in the face with her ass. Eve gets distracted by Kaitlyn and turns around into a clothesline. Kaitlyn tags in and hits a backbreaker on Eve. Kaitlyn hops to the middle rope, but eve pulls her leg out from under her then pounds her on the mat. Phoenix tags in and keeps the pressure on Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn is whipped into the enemy corner and Phoenix knocks Layla off the apron, which lets the heels double team Kaitlyn. Phoenix rushes Kaitlyn, who gets a boot up. Kaitlyn fights out of a Glamslam attempt and rolls up the Glamzaon for the win. Layla's music plays.
That was altogether bad. Layla was way off; she's usually much better than what we saw tonight. Kaitlyn is at least as good and consistent as any of the "main roster" Divas, if not better; she should be showcased moving forward.
Match 7: Big Show and Daniel Bryan vs John Cena and CM Punk (WWE Champion)
Winners: CM Punk and John Cena via pinfall
Punk gets two matches in one show and still doesn't main event; he should definitely have something to say about that. Bryan's entrance is entirely different with the new NO gimmick, just in time to make WWE 13 look out of date. Forget not main eventing; Punk doesn't even get to make his entrance last. Big mixed reaction for Cena tonight. Punk sarcastically claps with one hand while he holds the WWE Title in the other.
Cena and Bryan open up and Cena grabs a headlock, then runs Bryan over. Punk tags himself in and Show wants in, but Bryan says he'll stay in, wanting to earn a spot in the WWE Title match on Sunday. Punk's turn for a headlock and a takeover, but Bryan is quickly to his feet; he takes another shoulder block, then a hip toss. Cena tags himself back in as Punk nears his own corner. Show demands a tag, prompting a Yes/No argument between himself and Bryan. Cena hits a hip toss and a dropkick on Bryan. Punk tries to tag himself in, but can't reach; Show tags in on the other side and attacks Cena. Show sends Cena into the corner and Cena has his hands up for the front bump before he hits the turnbuckle. Cena tries to fight back with a jumping shoulder, but Show deflects him. That's enough for a commercial for now...
Back in, Big Show is still in charge. Show hits a running ass to the corner on Cena, who ends up running into a bearhug. Bryan tags himself in and says this is about him. Bryan readies for the corner dropkick and misses, bouncing clear off the turnbuckle. Punk tags himself in as Cena rolls to his corner and lands a springboard clothesline and swinging neckbreaker, but Show breaks up the pin. Bryan drags Punk to his corner and Show tags in, then picks up the WWE Champ, just to slam him back down. Show with a big body shot, leaving Punk a crumpled mess on the mat. Show shushes the crowd then slaps Punk's chest. Punk fights back and hits the ropes, but runs into a bearhug. Punk elbows out, but runs into a back body drop. Show plants a boot in the back of Punk and steps on him. Punk fights back up but gets scoop slammed. Show cocks the WMD, but Bryan tags himself in. Show is done; he hops off the apron and takes a seat. Bryan kicks away at Punk, but misses the headkick; Punk throws a roundhouse and knocks Bryan to the mat. Punk sees Cena wanting a tag, after being off the apron earlier. Punk hits two shoulders and a spin out bomb on Bryan, then calls for the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Off the ropes, Cena tags himself in and hits a running corner knee and bulldog. Punk grabs the WWE Title and hits the road. Bryan rolls up Cena, who kicks out, hits an Attitude Adjustment out of nowhere and wins.
If that were ANY other face on the planet in the wrestling business, he would have been pinned by the heel Daniel Bryan. But no, John Cena cannot possibly suffer a loss, even via a cheap rollup. Sickening. WWE absolutely must let go of this "everyone is protected" garbage they pull. Show goes after Cena and Punk clobbers him with the WWE Title. Punk offers a handshake to Cena, who is tentative - Punk says "Maybe you're that guy" and storms out. The heat between the three men is still there, but Cena wouldn't have lost anything at all suffering a roll up loss to Daniel Bryan.
Punk is interviewed in the back and explains: John Cena went into business for himself. Punk says the lack of a handshake is the ultimate sign of disrespect where he comes from. He plans to teach everyone about respect come Summerslam.
Brock Lesnar is shown in the back with Paul Heyman.
Match 8: Damien Sandow vs Christian
Winner: Damien Sandow via pinfall
Sandow opens aggressively in the corner, then lands a russian leg sweep. Sandow with his elbow drop for a two count. Into the corner again, but Christian fights out this time and lands slaps and a forearm. Christian leapfrogs to the floor for another slap then hits a second rope European uppercut. Christian calls for the Killswitch early and Sandow bails to the floor, then throws Christian into the steel steps multiple times. Back into the ring and Brodus Clay's music hits. Clay halfheartedly dances with his injured leg. Christian cradles Sandow for two and Sandow hits his Crossarm Neckbreaker out of nowhere for the win.
Winning with his finisher after a distraction meant for him? That a huge thumbs up for Sandow from the guys in the back. Gotta say, there are a lot of guys that get away with going toward the ring mid-match with their music playing. Shouldn't the GMs be upset about this? And why do the production truck guys play anyone's music who asks?
Shawn Michaels is still in the back and comes face to face with Brock Lesnar. HBK immediately backs off, which puts a smile on Lesnar's face.
Back from a commercial and a recap of last week's Raw, Brock Lesnar's music hits, bringing he and Paul Heyman out for the contract signing for the Summerslam match. Heyman reminds the crowd that he is the advocate for Lesnar. At Summerslam, WWE's dignity is on the line and in the hands of HHH. Heyman calls Lesnar a "fighter with ultimate credentials" to skirt around mentioning UFC directly. HHH has flight delays, keeping him from the contract signing. Heyman has the contract in hand to indemnify Lesnar from what happens to HHH on Sunday. Heyman says on Sunday it will be a beating, not a wrestling match. HHH will suffer.
Last week, Heyman continues, Shawn Michaels disagreed about Lesnar winning at Summerslam. Heyman calls HBK out to tell Lesnar to his face that he doesn't think he'll win. Heyman says there's no shame in being frightened of Lesnar, then continues that everyone from Texas has a yellow streak up their spine...This is enough to draw the Heartbreak Kid out. Heyman insists that Michaels signs the contract on HHH's behalf. Michaels stares Lesnar down just long enough for HHH's music to hit and The Game makes his entrance, shedding his tie and suit jacket before he even makes it to the ring. HHH keeps an eye on Lesnar as he signs the contract. Heyman screams at Lesnar that this is just a contract signing. Lesnar signs and throws the clipboard at HHH, then immediately bails to the floor. Lesnar taunts HHH, but heads toward the back.
HBK and HHH are in the back and Michaels tells HHH that Lesnar is unlike anyone they've faced before. Michaels says that HHH needs to beat Lesnar on his own, even with him in the corner. Seems like Michaels is outright saying he won't get physically involved at Summerslam.
Big Show is tracked down by Matt Striker - Show says that a cheap shot won't change anything for Summerslam. Car horns honk and Striker switches his attention in that direction. Heyman has put his car in the way of HBK's. Lesnar rushes HBK and pulls him out of the window, knocking the camera man (and the camera) out in the process. With a black screen, we hear Heyman yell "Tell HHH! Tell HHH!" and thuds that sound like a pipe or other blunt weapon landing blows to HBK. Without the picture restoring, we cut to presumably the final commercial of the night. Back to the show, Michaels is missing and his car's windshield is shattered. Heyman's car is still against Michaels' and HHH yells for everyone in the area to tell him what happened. AJ says that Lesnar dragged him away. Lesnar appears back in the arena and has HBK in a fireman's carry. He dumps him in the ring and follows. HBK is selling his back and wobbly legs. Lesnar lifts him and delivers an F5. Lesnar stalks around him as the crowd calls for HHH. Michaels tries to fight to his feet, using Lesnar to pick himself up. Lesnar locks in the Kimura and HHH heads toward the ring. Heyman says if HHH gets any closer, Lesnar will break the arm. HHH is obviously distraught; Lesnar breaks the arm anyway. Heyman sells disbelief that Lesnar did this; even he seems upset with the actions of his client. The show ends with Lesnar and HHH jawing at a distance.
This would be FAR more dramatic if Lesnar hadn't done the exact same thing to HHH recently and HHH returned weeks later all better. We all thought it was ridiculous at the time; now it seems even more so as they ruined their own potential drama. I guess the excuse is Michaels is "retired" which automatically makes him weak...or something.
On the whole, a good episode of Raw. They saved the vast majority of the "non-wrestling" stuff for the end of the show, which allowed a rapid fire series of matches that were for the most part entertaining. Once again the WWE Champion doesn't headline; twice in one night. Punk's attitude is slowly getting worse and worse, which is entirely sensible in terms of the current storyline. Cena and Show are both gunning for him, as well as each other, which might let Punk beat the odds and retain through the triple threat at Summerslam. Ziggler/Jericho has all the potential to be a show stealer just by virtue of the combatants. The Divas match was less than stellar; we're trained to not expect a five star match from them, but Layla was definitely having an off night. Normally, the "go home" Raw is hit or miss; for Summerslam, it's far and away a hit. The last half hour was dedicated to creating a USA network drama to get the ire up against Brock Lesnar, but all things considered it could have been worse. I just wish they hadn't done the exact same bit with HHH's arm so recently.
Smackdown this Friday and Summerslam on Sunday - What are your predictions?