Below is a brief recap and play-by-play of the matches, results and important moments of this week's Monday Night Raw.
For those of you who are waiting to watch it, it does contain spoilers. For those of you who want to know what happened and quickly, please read on. You can also catch up on last week's RAW here.
Monday Night Raw kicked off with a video recap of The Big Show and John Cena situation.
Big Show Promo
We started out with Big Show in the ring. He smiled and looked like a wounded dog—His smile isn’t his best attribute. He truly played the heel card tonight, which lead to a “Cena” chant.
He talked about how nobody cared about him when he was fired and shows footage of what happened after he was fired, including Brodus Clay and Co. dancing after a victory. He then said he is going to take Cena out at No Way Out.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Santino Marella
Not even a minute in, Santino hit a hip toss, a diving headbutt but then missed the Cobra. Del Rio used the miss to lock in the arm bar.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio via Submission
Match Rating: 2/10 - The match was too short to offer much quality.
Del Rio ripped the Cobra off Marella’s arm and stuffed it in his face as Ricardo dropped to all fours and screamed Del Rio’s name repeatedly. Looks like a Ricardo Rodriguez and Santino Marella feud is in the works. I hear the collective sigh of relief from the WWE Universe: finally a feud that matters….oh.
Eve tells Big Show backstage that he can pick his opponent tonight. He then smashes Alex Riley into a wall. He is not the opponent, but Show was sending a message.
R-Truth & Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger & Dolph Ziggler for the Tag Team Championship
We haven’t seen this match up before. Some nice actual tag team moves from the champs early in the match. After some general back and forth, Truth pulled out a nice series of moves on Swagger and hit his DDT like finisher for the win.
Winners: R-Truth & Kofi Kingston via pin fall.
Match Rating 6.5/10 - Was nice to see some actual tag team moves from the champs and there were some great spots with each superstar involved. R-Truth was great in this match for me and looked strong in gaining the win.
American Perfection Break-up?
Following the loss to Truth and Kofi, Dolph Ziggler looked to be finished with Swagger and more importantly with Vickie Guerrero. He stormed off after repeating, “I’m better than this!” and left Swagger and Vickie in the ring. I can’t wait to see where this leads for Ziggler.
Cameras cut to Big Show grabbing Santino backstage and threatening to chose him as his opponent. He was interrupted by Brodus Clay who called him on talking behind his back and told Show to pick him as his opponent. Big Show accepted and promised Clay there would be no walking, let alone dancing after tonight.
We learned CM Punk and Daniel Bryan would face off tonight. Surely they can’t be giving this match away before No Way Out. Someone would surely get involved.
John Laurinaitis and CM Punk Promo
Accompanied by Eve and David Otunga, JL officially announced Big Show vs. Brodus Clay for RAW, that Big Show vs. John Cena at No Way Out will be in a steel cage and that John Laurinaitis will allegedly by the man on the cover of WWE’s next video game, WWE '13.
CM Punk, who received the biggest pop of the night, then interrupted. A better promo than the last couple between these two as Punk pulled out some decent lines.
Then there was an explosion above the ring—a large banner fell to reveal Punk as the real cover star of WWE 13. Awesome image.
Some quality sexual innuendo by Punk was quickly followed by a demand for JL to get out of "his" ring. Punk against Bryan was next.
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan
Seemed Bryan was wrestling for a chance to face CM Punk at No Way Out. I thought this was a forgone conclusion.
Excellent back and forth shoot wrestling and submission exchanges dominated the match early. The action made its way outside the ring and AJ appeared wearing CM Punk merchandise and clapping Punk’s dominance of the match.
After the break, Bryan had the upper hand and worked over Punk’s left arm. This would be the focus of Bryan's offense.
AJ, in trying to help Punk, ended up distracting the referee as Bryan removed the padding from the top turnbuckle.
While Punk then got the upper hand, in attempting the running knee, he was lifted by Bryan and dropped head first onto the turnbuckle which was enough for a 3-count. It would seem that AJ trying to help Punk actually cost him the match. Here we go again.
Winner: Daniel Bryan via pin fall.
Match Rating: 8.5/10 - Great match. I could watch these guys every week. Excellent shoot style start with both men getting in submissions and solid offense. Not as good as the Over the Limit bout, but we should be in for a treat with the No Way Out match.
As Bryan celebrated, Kane ambushed him from behind with a steel chair and ended up Choke-slamming him onto the chair. Kane then looked to Punk. As he picked up the chair to attack Punk, AJ slid another chair to Punk who then beat down The Big Red Machine much like Bryan did last week.
Punk looked a little unsure about AJ as she looked on adoringly. He seemed to realize he now owed her one. Interesting.
Christian vs. The Miz
Cody Rhodes was in commentary for this match and spent much of the match talking trash about Christian. Rhodes left commentary and almost cost Christian the win with a slight distraction. After a couple of reversals, Christian hit the Kill Switch and the Splash for the 3-count.
Winner: Christian via pin fall.
Match Rating: 6/10 - Not a bad singles match by any stretch. Nothing overly special though as it just seemed to contribute to a rematch story line between Rhodes and Christian for the Intercontinental Championship.
JL whined that Otunga didn’t put up a challenge against Cena last week and that Eve didn’t get Sheamus to apologize. Otunga asked to face Sheamus to make up for his loss to Cena. It was agreed. Otunga vs. Sheamus would be the next match.
The Miz and Randy Orton Promo
The Miz was still in the ring at this point, whining about not getting title shot despite winning for Team Johnny at WrestleMania, "bla-bla-bla, usual nonsense". He was interrupted by Randy Orton’s music. I guess Miz is the fill for Jericho. Talk about trading your Lexus for a 1985 Pinto.
Poor Orton. He just can’t get a decent feud going. He hit Miz with an RKO and then posed. Not a word.
Ziggler was chatting to Vickie backstage as they watched on. He said he wants out of American Perfection and wants to be like Orton was just now—a big deal singles competitor. I hope this leads to better things for Ziggler. He is too good for his current position on the roster.
David Otunga vs. Sheamus
Surprisingly, Otunga looked strong briefly but soon enough ate White Noise and then a thumping Brogue Kick.
Winner: Sheamus via pin fall.
Match Rating: 5/10 - Not a particularly long match and not a whole lot on offer but some hard hits. Essentially a Sheamus squash match that managed to allow Otunga to look strong, albeit brief. The Brogue Kick was fairly intense though and well sold.
Big Show vs. Brodus Clay
Before the match could kick off, Big Show hit Clay with a Spear and started to beat down on him. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth attempted the save, but ended up getting destroyed as well. Big Show ended up breaking the announcers' table and using part of it to hammer Clay before hitting him with a punch to the face to end it.
Match result: No contest.
I guess Funkasaurus is still undefeated. Show looked strong, but Clay never got out of the blocks.
Big Show walked to the top of the ramp looking angry, where he met John Laurinaitis with a handshake as RAW faded to black.
Overall, this was a better RAW than the last couple of episodes and there was no John Cena. I didn’t notice until Michael Cole plugged his return for next week.
I’d give this episode a 7.5/10. I enjoyed it! We got to witness some great ring work, particularly in the form of Punk vs. Bryan and a few different story lines were furthered.
Happy to see Ziggler might be getting out of the funk he has recently been in. Will be interesting to see the ratings on a show that closed with Big Show and Brodus Clay also.
Until next week...