WWE Raw Results and Report Card 5/20/2013: Post-Extreme Rules Raw
The Raw immediately after a pay-per-view is almost always worth checking out. In many ways it's like watching Vince McMahon hit the reset button on his cartoon world in order to give us a slew of brand new matches to salivate over.
This edition of Raw was on its way to being yet another incredible show—until Triple H laid an egg in the main event putting a damper on everything that came before it. When the show closed, the WWE universe's attention was focused squarely on Triple H. And not in a good way.
Was his strange behavior an injury angle? Had something truly gone wrong?
The questions stole the focus from a debuting Curtis Axel, another stellar performance from the Shield and Ryback's emergence as a serious player as a heel.
While Triple H will be the talk of the blogs this week, luckily his weren't the only matches on an otherwise stellar edition of Monday Night Raw. I've taken the liberty of assigning a letter grade to every segment, grading segments that go down during key parts of the show a little more harshly than midcard filler.
Disagree with my grades? Let me know in the comments.
Ryback Announced Ambulance Match
Ryback came out to the arena in an ambulance. That tells you all you need to know about Extreme Rules. Ryback was able to make it to the arena to address the fans. Though he walked away with the strap, Cena could or would not.
Now tell me who really won their "draw?"
Ryback announced an Ambulance Match for the next pay-per-view.
"As far as the record books show, there was no real winner....but while John Cena walked away with the WWE championship, he certainly didn't walk away." —Ryback.
"I'm not just standing out here on top of an ambulance to look cool for you people...because I honestly don't care what you think anymore."—Ryback
"Weak, weak, weak people of society...I have nothing in common with any of you."—Ryback
"John Cena's your hero? Absolutely pathetic...you have no idea what it takes." —Ryback
"There's only one fact of life. And that is 'Ryback rules.'"—Ryback.
Ryback has made some tremendous progress since turning heel this year. That was a solid, professional promo. It isn't Dusty Rhodes or Rock, but you've got to walk before you run. Ryback is still learning to crawl. But he is learning.
Fandango/Wade Barrett vs. Chris Jericho/Miz
The Miz is feuding with Wade Barrett. Fandango is feuding with Chris Jericho. Not enough television time to do justice to both stories? One match can do the work of two if you put your hands together.
Miz makes Barrett tap to the Figure Four while Fandango danced.
"I'm glad right now I have a library card. Because I'm checking her out." —Jerry Lawler on Summer Rae.
"I would like to read her book and I'd prefer the braille edition." —Jerry Lawler on Summer's academic side.
"Oh you didn't know? You better app somebooooody." —JBL mimicking Road Dogg.
"Hey guys, there's a match going on in the ring." —Michael Cole on Fandango dancing midmatch.
"Fandango is oblivious to all this." —Cole.
"That was not nice." —JBL on Chris Jericho after he teased Summer Rae with a dance.
I count on this match, the only one in the first hour to span two segments, to be a solid wrestling match. That's traditionally how it's done and the old-school wrestling fan in me demands it.
This? This was not it. This was the worst kind of stupid angle, with Fandango doing a dance right in the middle of the wrestling and completely confusing the issue. Is he going to feud with Barrett now, as he abandoned him? At least that would free Jericho for a better angle.
Sheamus vs. Titus O'Neill
WWE is making good use of their new format for PPV. Borrowing pre- and post-shows from their traditional sports brethren, it didn't take the carnies in Stamford long to figure out it's the perfect venue to book new angles.
That doesn't always mean a world-changing angle or match needs to be made. It can be simple. Titus O'Neill was on after Extreme Rules and he was not impressed with Sheamus's performance.
Just like that, a match for Raw was made, taking what could have been a simple squash and imbuing it with some significance.
Sheamus pins O'Neill with the Brogue kick.
"I talked to Sheamus earlier. He said this was the battle of the Irish. Sheamus versus O'Neill." —JBL.
"Maybe he shouldn't have run his mouth?" —Michael Cole on Titus letting his opinions be known on the post game show after Extreme Rules.
"You think he's f*cking tough?" Titus O'Neill on Sheamus. Can he say that on TV?
Really, really good stuff here. This match could have been simply a way to kill 10 minutes. Instead it was an excellent back and forth. I hope O'Neill's verbal slip and some not-so-PG language don't derail the progress he made with this bout. He's got real potential.
The Newest Paul Heyman Guy
What will Paul E. do with CM Punk on hiatus and Brock Lesnar a part timer at best? He needed a project, something to keep one of the WWE's best talkers on TV—and now he's got one.
Heyman introduced Joe Hennig, son of the late Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig, as Curtis Axel. Axel has promise, but he's greeted with crickets showing Heyman's got his work cut out for him.
One thing about Axel—if he makes it big, he will truly have started from the very bottom. And he'll have Paul Heyman to thank for his success.
Paul Heyman introduced Curtis Axel as the latest Paul Heyman guy.
"I get it. I understand. When it's a Paul Heyman guy who exposes one of your heroes, I'm the one exposed to your boos....Boo me all you want." —Paul Heyman.
"Boo." —Jerry Lawler.
"History won't record "boo, cheer, we hate you Paul Heyman.'...history will record that Triple H went down to my client a loser." —Heyman.
"Triple H had to tuck his sledgehammer between his legs and go back home to mommy." —Heyman.
"It's time for your Sports Center moment...you're all here tonight to witness history. Ladies and gentlemen, now is the time to hit record." —Heyman.
"I give to you the newest Paul Heyman guy." —Heyman.
"In the Alice and Wonderland mentality of WWE why isn't this man a superstar already? It's all because legacy isn't something that gives you nepotistic opportunities anymore. It's an albatross." —Heyman.
"Ladies and gentlemen Curtis Axel."
"I guess you weren't paying attention. Ladies and gentlemen Curtis Axel."
"This kid can go." —JBL on Axel.
"Wow, you can really whip up a batch of Kool Aid can't you?" —Triple H.
"I'm not embarrassed about a damn thing from last night. I went to war with Brock Lesnar. And you're damn right. He beat me, just like I beat him at WrestleMania." —Triple H.
"He limped away from that battle, Paul." —Triple H.
"You know what would make me happy? Solely because I can? To come out here and beat the ever-loving crap out of you." —Triple H to Heyman.
"I don't think you understand. The game around here has changed. You want to talk to him? How about you talk to me first?" —Axel.
"This is baptism by fire." JBL on Axel vs. Triple H.
While I understand that Curtis Axel pays tribute to both pa and grandpa Henning (Larry was known as the Axe), I don't really care for it. Maybe it will grow on me?
I'm excited to see how Axel does. He's set up for success. How long will it take WWE to blow it?
Alberto Del Rio vs. "Big E" Langston
Dolph Ziggler can't travel to Raw thanks to a concussion, so it's up to "Big E" Langston to fill in against Alberto Del Rio.
It should have been.
But Langston actually worked really well with the former Dos Caras Jr. I'm a sucker for a good "Big man versus technician" match.
Langston and Lee also have super chemistry. How long before they turn on Ziggler? I'm counting the days.
Big E pinned Del Rio with the Big Ending. The finish followed a blatant poke to the eye.
"Ahhhh. Ahhh. Ahhhh." —Big E. Articulate fellow.
"Shades of Bob Backlund picking up Hulk Hogan." —JBL with the old-school reference.
Solid match here. Del Rio is getting pretty good at applying that armbar. This win begins the slow roll towards the break up of Team Ziggler. No way Dolph isn't a little jealous of how easy Langston just made it look and how well he worked with AJ Lee.
AJ Lee vs. Layla
AJ Lee and Kaitlyn have been bullying each other for weeks.
Lee thinks Kaitlyn is fat.
Kaitlyn thinks Lee is crazy.
Is anyone wrong? Is everyone wrong? Time to settle the score in the ring—the way wrestling scores are meant to be settled.
But that will have to wait for pay-per-view I guess. In the mean time we get Lee against Layla. Better than nothing I guess.
AJ Lee makes Layla tap with the Black Widow.
"At least I don't use Rogaine." —Michael Cole, responding to a JBL insult.
"It does work. Not really." —JBL
"Black widows devour their mate. The name of that move says a lot about AJ Lee." —Cole.
When you talk about the all-time great Divas squash matches, this one won't be on the list. That's because there is no list and that conversation is entirely fictional. But this was perfectly fine wrestling.
Zach Ryder vs. Cody Rhodes.
Ryder and Rhodes! One on one!
Wait—can I take back those exclamation points? Let's just move on.
Rhodes pins Ryder with a Disaster kick. Ryback then destroys Ryder even further as Rhodes beats a hasty retreat.
"That'll knock his mustache off." —JBL after a Broski Boot by Ryder.
"Are you implying that's an imitation mustache?"—Jerry Lawler. I love this trio in the booth.
"I don't think Ryback came out here to help this young man up." —JBL.
"This may be a glimpse into John Cena's future."—Lawler as Ryback puts Ryder into the ambulance.
Anyone surprised this match was little more than a setup for Ryback putting somebody into an ambulance? Because Ryback totally put somebody into an ambulance. Watch out, Cena!
The Shield vs. Team Hell No/Kofi Kingston
Do I believe in the Shield? Better question—how can you not believe in the Shield?
The only question in my mind is which guy I like best. Ambrose has that snake oil charm. Rollins takes bumps like a complete psychopath. And Reigns has the muscle mass to make it big in the industry. I love them all and refuse to choose.
Reigns pinned Kane after a spear.
"I feel naked without the title." —Daniel Bryan
"Well, you aren't wearing a shirt. Or pants."—Kane. Touche.
"Last night at Extreme Rules, the Shield brought power back to both these titles." —Dean Ambrose.
"The Undertaker didn't believe. Now the Deadman's resting in peace. You'll never see him again." —Ambrose, taking credit for the demise of many of the promotion's top stars.
"I've heard it said justice is blind. But after what we did last night? Justice can see just fine." —Seth Rollins.
"You know what the scary part is boys? This is just the beginning." —Rollins.
"The hounds of justice run this yard. And we carry the collars to back that up." —Roman Reigns.
"Do you believe in the Shield now?" —JBL
What a tremendous match. When you combine great wrestlers with great chemistry, magic can happen.
Jack Swagger vs. Randy Orton
Over 150,000 votes were cast on the WWE app, with fans overwhelmingly choosing Randy Orton to face Jack Swagger. Since the other choices were Great Khali and R. Truth, it wasn't exactly a nail-biter—but it's still a cool bit of fan interaction.
Orton pins Swagger with the RKO.
"The most humiliating thing a man can do is say I quit."—JBL. In the age of the tapout and the UFC, I don't think this really resonates.
"I think Swagger read Orton's book on that move." —Jerry Lawler as Swagger reversed the Apex Predator.
There was nothing wrong with this match. On a normal Monday, this would have been the match of the night. But the Shield is a hard act to follow. Orton tried to drag Swagger there, but couldn't quite reach the summit.
Curtis Axel vs. Triple H
Triple H, against doctor's orders, hit the ring on Raw for the first time in three years. Amazingly, it's not for the WWE title or against an icon like the Undertaker. Rather, it's in honor of Curtis Axel's debut as a Paul Heyman guy.
Announcers are putting Heyman over big as a star maker. That's true to a point—but it doesn't guarantee Axel's success. After all, many of us remember Jon Heidenreich.
Triple H couldn't continue after collapsing outside the ring for seemingly no reason.
"Think about the pressure Heyman has put on this young man." —Michael Cole.
"Close, Paul. Close. Coming for you." —Triple H. If Hunter wins he gets to beat up Heyman. I guess.
"Heyman says this kid is the future? I believe this kid is the future." —JBL.
"Something's wrong with Triple H." —Cole.
Lame injury angle stepped all over the debut of Curtis Axel. I hope they have other plans for Axel going forward, because Raw doesn't have antilock brakes and Triple H just stomped on them big time.