-I’ve discovered that reviewing Raw is like being an MMA fighter. After you review one, it knocks you out for a few weeks and you have to take time out to recover. Three hours of suck is just far too much for one normal-functioning human being to take on a weekly basis. But, since I’m interested about the debut of the New New Nexus last night, I figured I’d check this one out.
-What’s up with the Impact ripoff voiceover guy during the highlight package at the beginning of the show? Does WWE assume wrestling fans are so dumb that they can’t understand highlights without narration?
-So Ryback kicks us off and makes about seven feeding references in about 30 seconds before challenging Punk and all of his gang RIGHT NOW…or else! Leading his own chants makes Ryback look really stupid. Goldberg never needs to lead the crowd in his chant, so Ryback comes off looking like a cheerleader on steroids…allegedly.
Anyways, Vickie comes out and books him against Tensai in a match that no one was waiting for.
Ryback vs. Tensai
They trade clotheslines and Tensai hammers away in the corner but Ryback counters with a Thesz Press and slams Tensai’s head into the mat. Tensai shakes it off and counters with a front chokeslam followed by a senton for a count of zero…yep, you read that right. Might want to pack it up and head back to Japan, Matt. Ryback catches him with a powerslam and hits a spinebuster before clotheslining Tensai to the floor. Nothing much happens out there and and Ryback uses the POWER OF THE CHANTS to hit the Clothesline of Doom and Shellshock finishes things.
-Squash City, population: Tensai, *.
-Meanwhile, Sheamus screams at the referee from the title match last night…what a great babyface.
Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett
At least they are attempting to draw a storyline out of the Survivor Series match last night, so hey, good for them. And FINALLY, someone is actually treating the Intercontinental title as something important.
Kofi starts quick and hits an elbow for two but Barrett hammers away in the corner. Wade whiffs on a blind charge and Kofi hits an uppercut for two. Kingston runs into an elbow and Barrett work a front facelock and also slugs away in the corner. The referee warns Barrett about closed fists in a bit of foreshadowing and Barrett takes Kofi over with a snap mare for two. Neckbreaker gets two and a clothesline sends Kingston to the floor as we take a commercial break.
As usual, we return with Kingston making a babyface comeback but Barrett slugs him down and throws some knees against the ropes. It’s good to see Barrett’s Evil Beard has grown in nicely. Barrett boots Kofi to the floor while Lawler (welcome back) talks about the referee stopping the match. Wade follows Kofi out and introduces him to the ring steps before getting two back inside. King and Lawler are actually doing a good job selling Barrett working over Kingston’s eye (a unique body part to work, that’s for sure) and Barret goes to a rear chinlock.
Kofi fights out and rolls up Barrett for two and nails him with a heel kick. Barrett tries to continue his attack but Kingston flies off the mat and makes his comeback. Boom Drop hits but Kofi sells the eye and he walks into the Black Hole Slam for two. Kingston catches Barrett with a kick and comes off the top with a high cross body for two. SOS from Kofi gets another near fall but Barrett smartly rakes Kofi’s face across the ropes and hits the Bull Hammer elbow for the win.
Winner: Wade Barrett
-I really dug this match as they told a good story, the announcers put it over properly, Kofi sold it the whole time, and Barrett treated the IC title like something he actually wants. I really don’t ask for much **3/4.
-Michael Cole identifies Punk’s New New Nexus as Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns. Good to see WWE getting these guys on television because they have been very impressive on the NXT show. Reigns, by the way, is a member of the legendary Anoa’i wrestling family, so he is required to win about 26 tag titles as a result.
-Recap of the Brad Maddox storyline, without narration this time. Apparently, Triple H is extremely high on Maddox, so we’ve certainly not seen the last of him. Sheamus, anyone?
-Backstage, CM Punk debuts his awesome new “I’m a Paul Heyman Guy” t-shirt and Matt Striker (with a terrible mustache) dares to ask him about Ryback. Heyman shuts him up by inviting everyone to Punk’s celebration ceremony tonight.
Aksana vs. Kaitlyn
Is there a worse woman’s wrestler in the world than Kaitlyn? Aksana tries to walk out on the match (YAAAY!) but Kaitlyn follows to continue it (BOOOO) and Aksana clotheslines her down. Inside, Aksana weakly slams Kaitlyn’s head on the mat as the crowd immediately starts booing and entertaining themselves. Aksana works the arm and sends Kaitlyn into the corner. Kaitlyn makes her comeback as the crowd goes apathetic and she looks like a second-week wrestling school student. A weak-looking gutbuster gets the pin and mercifully ends things.
Brodus Clay vs. Antonio Cesaro
R-Truth is on commentary to set up a program with Cesaro. Brodus slugs away in the corner but whiffs on a charge and Cesaro hits a clothesline and a double stomp. Brodus catches him with a headbutt and a splash in the corner to set up a pump splash attempt but that only hits canvas. A Very European uppercut off the second rope sets up the Neutralizer for the easy win.
Winner: Antonio Cesaro
-Yet another squash as Brodus is clearly Saturday Morning Slam material at this time *1/4.
-Video of John Cena receiving an award for granting his 300th wish for Make-A-Wish Foundation which is unspeakably awesome of him.
-Now the ridiculousness starts as Vickie hits the ring to present more evidence of AJ Lee and John Cena apparently hooking up. Does anyone really care about this storyline at all? She has some waitress say she saw John Cena and AJ at a private table at her restaurant and a parking attendant says he saw AJ and Cena “parking” for over an hour. What is this, 1955? AJ and John Cena are two single adults, who really cares if they go on a date?
AJ comes storming out and tells Vickie to shut up but Guerrero has a picture of them together in the car. If it were actually a nude photo of AJ, this would automatically become my favorite episode of Raw of all time. John Cena interrupts though before the photo can be revealed and shuts Vickie up by making out with AJ. Dolph Ziggler attacks from behind and Cena gives chase to end the segment. Not exactly the most exciting thing in the world.
Two Out of Three Falls Match
Alberto Del Rio vs. Randy Orton
Orton hits a clothesline but Del Rio kicks away and a snap mare gets two while Lawler makes PLANET jokes…my God, he needs new material. Dropkick gets two for Orton but Del Rio comes back with a suplex for a near fall. Randy fires off his own but takes his time so Del Rio quickly hits Divorce Court but tries for his cross armbreaker too early and gets dumped outside. Alberto manages to floor Orton from the outside though and repeatedly slams Orton’s arm against the ring post, earning a disqualification. Randy Orton wins the first fall by DQ. We take a commercial break on that note.
We return with Del Rio controlling the arm but Orton suplexes out of it and launches a babyface comeback. Randy looks for the RKO but Del Rio surprises him with a cross armbreaker from the mat and Orton quickly taps out. Alberto Del Rio wins the second fall by submission
Randy sells the arm as we start the third fall but Del Rio misses a charge to the corner and an Orton rollup gets two. Del Rio goes back to the arm with an enzuigiri and that also gets two. Del Rio gets reckless and charges, running right into Orton’s backbreaker. He looks to finish but Ricardo Rodriguez grabs Orton’s foot, earning himself an ejection.
Del Rio takes advantage of the distraction though and hits a back stabber for two. Del Rio mocks Orton’s viper taunt and actually tries an RKO but Orton swings him around into the draping DDT. Orton tries for the RKO again but Del Rio flips around into another cross armbreaker. Orton fights it nicely and pins Del Rio’s shoulders to the mat, forcing Alberto to break his own hold. Del Rio whiffs on an enzuigiri and Orton quickly hits an RKO for the third fall and the win.
Winner: Randy Orton
-Has Alberto Del Rio won a match that matters at all in the last year? Ah well, the world needs jobbers to the stars too. The match was pretty good though as Orton sold the arm the whole time and the crowd was really into it at the end ***.
-So apparently, John Cena tore his meniscus while chasing Dolph Ziggler so AJ offers comfort in the back.
The Great Khali vs. Primo and Epico
This could not get any worse for…oh God, that’s Hornswoggle’s music, I take it all back. I hate you Vince McMahon, I hate you. Khali pushes both guys down while the stupid midget hits on Rosa Mendes but it’s a SWERVE as he sprays her with water. Khali hits Primo with the Punjabi Plunge for the win. Seriously, what the **** was the point of this?
Winner: The Great Khali
-There’s two minutes of my life I’ll never get back again -***. Get this crap off of my television.
-Backstage, Paul Heyman flips out on some moron because he didn’t order BALLOONS for Punk’s celebration. What kind of idiot doesn’t have BALLOONS for a celebration?
The Miz vs. David Otunga
Otunga stomps away and sends Miz shoulder-first into the ring post before hitting a Russian legsweep for two. A pair of elbowdrops get two and a chinlock lets the crowd cheer Miz back to his feet but Otunga floors him with a shoulder tackle. A couple of stiff shots puts Miz down for two as the camera zooms in on Miz’s face just as he’s calling the spots with Otunga…bad mistake, guys. Miz counters an Irish whip with a sloppy rollup for two and Otunga hits his eighth clothesline of the match for two.
Otunga goes back to his chinlock, which he’s only performed five times thus far, but he gets caught with a sunset flip for two. Miz fires away with left hands in the corner and he hits his running clothesline to set up a double axe handle. The Skull Crushing Finale hits and the pin is academic after that.
Winner: The Miz
-Otunga offense basically consists of chinlocks and clotheslines, so the heat segment was boring but the crowd is digging babyface Miz for whatever reason *1/2.
Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow
So Sheamus brings a chair to the ring and cuts a whiny promo about Big Show hiding behind the referee and running away. He blabs on for awhile while the crowd gives him the “what” treatment until Big Show appears on the entrance ramp and they have a shouting match…thrilling.
Oh wait, there’s still a match as Sandow randomly makes his entrance as a sidenote to the screaming. Sandow cowers in the corner and generally stalls but Sheamus catches him with a shoulder tackle and Damien takes a powder.
Sandow returns and stomps away in the corner but Sheamus hits a kneelift and counters a suplex. For whatever reason, Sheamus starts to work on the arm as this boring match threatens to get even worse. Sheamus tosses Sandow out of the ring by his beard and we take a commercial break…REALLY?! In this match?
Naturally, we return with the heel in control as Sandow sends Sheamus to the floor and hits a neckbreaker on the mat. Back in, Sandow gets two and throws some forearms at Sheamus’s face against the ropes. Sandow works a chinlock for quite a while as the match completely grinds to a halt and the crowd starts getting restless. Seriously, he breaks it and locks it on again three separate times. I’m fine with building heat on a guy and all but come on, grab a different hold.
Russian legsweep sets up the Elbow of Disdain but Sheamus pops up and hits an Irish Curse backbreaker for a double KO. Sheamus throws knees against the ropes and the 10 forearms set up a suplex back into the ring. Sheamus heads up top and hits a shoulder tackle followed by White Noise. Sheamus tried to build a crowd reaction, only being somewhat successful, and hits a Brogue Kick for the win.
-I applaud them for giving Sandow so much offense but oh…my…God this was a boring match. Between Sandow’s endless chinlocks and all the punchy-kicky crap, this was death for a live crowd. Just too long and boring *1/4.
-Backstage, Vickie laughs at AJ while Tamina stands guard. Seriously, this might be the worst storyline of the year and that’s really saying something.
-After a break, AJ storms into the WWE locker room and tries to scream at Ziggler but Dolph punks her out causing AJ to freak out and triggering another brawl between Ziggler and Cena where Cena injures his knee further. See? Women are nothing but trouble.
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. Team Hell No
The Prime Time Players are on commentary because that’s the only idea WWE has to get people involved in storylines. Kane punches away on Sin Cara and floors him with a clothesline so Daniel Bryan tags himself in and the crowd goes NUTS. He misses a knee off the top and Cara gets a springboard armdrag and he brings in Rey for some double teaming.
Mysterio gets caught with a kick and Kane tags himself in but Rey sticks and moves and manages to get Kane on the floor for a seated senton. Bryan takes out Mysterio with a knee from the apron but Cara takes Bryan out with a dive to the floor and takes us to break.
We return with Kane hitting a side slam on Cara while Darren Young gets the line of the night: “If your hair is nappy, no one is happy.” Bryan tags in and hooks a surfboard on Cara and angrily stomps away with the crowd plays right into his hands. Hell No switches off on Cara while the Prime Time Players argue with Lawler and Cole and are pretty funny while doing it.
Bryan charges at Cara and eats foot, allowing Cara to hit a tornado DDT and get the hot tag to Rey. Mysterio attacks Kane with dropkicks and Lawler actually cracks Titus O’Neill up on commentary until Darren Young refocuses them. A big brawl breaks out and Kane catches Mysterio coming off the top with an uppercut for two.
Mysterio hits Kane with the 619 and tries to Drop the Dime but Kane catches him by the throat on the way down, triggering a Prime Time Players beatdown. Mysterio hits a double 619 on the heels and Kane chokeslams O’Neill to end the threat.
-You know, it’s a shame that the commentary was so funny because it actually took away from a good tag match in the ring. Most entertaining segment/match of the night by far *** with an extra 1/2* for commentary.
Main Event Interview
Paul Heyman starts us off and says the same people who cry about wanting the Attitude Era back are the same people whining about them mocking Jerry Lawler’s heart attack last week. Heyman also has an image of the top ten longest WWE title reigns in history with Punk sitting at #8. I really don’t think Bruno Sammartino has anything to be worried about with 2,803 days, absolutely amazing.
So Punk hits the ring and runs down all the legends who haven’t had title reigns as long as him and introduces an over-the-top tribute video. Punk promises to hold the title until 2018 on the 355th episode of WWE Main Event (HA!) when he’ll pass Bruno for first place. That poster, by the way, is probably the closest thing you’ll see to Sammartino on WWE television. Heyman says Bruno wouldn’t have a chance against CM Punk and neither would Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin.
Punk starts proclaiming his greatness once more and Ryback has heard enough but the New Dangerous Alliance attack him during his entrance and powerbomb Ryback through the announce table once again. Punk looks confused but he decides to pose on top of Ryback’s broken body anyways as we fade to black.
I'm going to be honest, there was a lot I liked about this show. A few of the matches were well worked, Ziggler cut a great promo on AJ, and Paul Heyman was gold as always. The problem was the same as every week: The show is just too damn long. A couple times, I was actually looking forward to commercials because it would give me a break from the seemingly unending segments and video recaps.
Specifically, I was disappointed with the celebration ceremony because I expected the debut of a new title belt (please?) or an explanation for the NXT guys. What did we actually get? Nothing. Seriously, the NXT guys just put Ryback through a table again and that was it. I really hope the New Dangerous Alliance actually gets to go somewhere instead of just being squashed by Ryback and sent back to developmental.
So really, the show was fine if you were able to cut it into about three parts and watch it at your own pace.