We are live from Nashville, Tenn., where there are more people than teeth.
-Hunter and Steph are back from vacation to express their disapproval at Raw last week (you aren’t the only one, Trips). Randy Orton, in particular, is plenty pissed off and gets in Hunter’s face and earns himself a scolding. Brad Maddox and Vickie Guerrero slink out are booked against AJ Lee and Randy Orton, respectively.
Brad Maddox vs. Randy Orton (No DQ match)
Maddox tries to run away and nails Orton with the microphone in a desperation move. He hits a DDT back in the ring for two, but that only wakes Randy up, and he destroys Maddox on the floor.
Wait, is Maddox a babyface now? Does the creative team just throw darts at the roster for booking ideas?
Anyways, Orton hits the draping DDT on the floor and beats the hell out of Maddox with the microphone until the referee stops the match.
Winner: Randy Orton
-It wasn't even a match, so what exactly was the point of this? Maddox isn’t viewed as a wrestler, and he also happens to be a heel, so are we supposed to boo Randy Orton for beating the hell out of a non-wrestling heel or cheer him because he beat up the annoying authority figure? WWE’s booking seriously makes my head hurt and it’s only the first match.
This is going to be a long night.
Curtis Axel vs. Big E Langston (WWE Intercontinental Championship)
I love the in-ring introductions for title matches; I just wish the champion was someone more inspiring than Curtis Axel. I don’t know why it took this long for me to notice it, but Axel definitely looks like Ben Roethlisberger.
Langston puts Axel down with a tackle for two and a backbreaker gets another near-fall. Back suplex hits as well, and Curtis runs away in kind of a disjointed spot. Langston tosses him over his head for two, but Axel rolls to the apron and snaps his neck on the top rope. Axel does absolutely nothing on offense, and we go to commercial to prevent the audience from falling asleep.
We return with Langston powering out of a chinlock, but Axel catches him with a dropkick for two. Axel goes to a front facelock to really amp up the workrate until Langston powers out again and hits the Ultimate Warrior splash for two.
I love how Lawler and JBL are putting over the IC title as so important while Axel as been jobbing to everyone in the territory for months. They exchange finisher attempts before the straps come down as Langston hits the Big Ending for the win and the title.
Winner and new Intercontinental champion: Big E Langston
-Well, I’d say this title win is a big deal, but the IC title has been absolute career death for whoever holds it, so I’ll wish Langston the best of luck. The match was decent but nothing special, as Axel continues to show absolutely nothing resembling charisma in the ring (two stars).
Divas Musical Chairs
Yes, this is actually a thing. That whirring sound you’re hearing is Lou Thesz is turning in his grave. I honestly have no idea who half of these women are, nor do I care. JBL sums up my thoughts well by saying, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Anyways, a brawl erupts, and WWE proves that it can book a non-finish in a musical chairs contest. Who finds this crap entertaining?
Big Show vs. Ryback
Show overpowers him to start and chops away before annoying me by calling spots on camera and sending Ryback to the floor with a shoulderblock. Ryback climbs back in but doesn’t fare much better until he goes low with a chop block. Ryback hammers away and works a headlock to bore the crowd and then hits a DDT for two.
Back to the headlock, but Show powers out and slams Ryback to trigger the comeback. However, Ryback stops him with a spinebuster. Ryback looks for his clothesline, but Show grabs him by the throat. Ryback still manages to hit the clothesline, though, and impressively hits Shell Shocked...for two.
Well, might as well pack it in, Skip. Ryback tries again, but Show hits the KO Punch out of nowhere to get the pin.
Winner: Big Show
-Post-match, Randy Orton tries to attack but gets speared by the Big Show and is sent running. The match was as plodding and slow as you would expect with these two, but at least they kept it relatively short. Pretty impressive that Ryback got Show up for Shell Shocked, but that was about it (one-and-a-half stars).
-Meanwhile, Zack Ryder chats with Florida Georgia Line but gets interrupted by 3MB and hilarity ensues.
-After a break, Randy Orton gets iced for his injuries and complains about The Shield not helping him.
The Real Americans vs. The Miz and Kofi Kingston
This is the definition of “time filler.” Miz starts with Cesaro and hits his clothesline in the corner and adds a double ax from the top for two. Cesaro catches Miz coming off the ropes, though, and dumps him to the outside for Swagger to do some damage.
Miz gets trapped in the heel corner, and the Americans work their pump-splash/double-stomp combo. A double elbow gets two. Miz flips out of a Swagger suplex attempt and gets the hot tag to Kofi, who cleans house on Swagger. He gets occupied with Cesaro, though, and Swagger hits a powerslam for two.
Kingston impressively counters a clothesline by hanging on to Swagger’s arm and flipping through with a DDT before crawling for the tag. Kingston dives for his corner and...the Miz jumps off the apron. Swagger quickly attacks and applies the Patriot Lock for the quick submission.
Winners: The Real Americans
-Well, it’s not like the Miz was doing anything as a babyface, so he’s probably better off as a heel. The match was pretty standard tag team affair with a turn at the end, so that means two stars sounds about right.
-Meanwhile, Vickie tries to get out of her match with AJ by faking an injury.
-After a break, Vickie is strapped to a stretcher, but Stephanie doesn’t buy it and orders her wheeled to the ring.
AJ Lee vs. Vickie Guerrero
Vickie faints and pretends she’s dehydrated (is that a rib on AJ for her fainting spell last week?) before attempting to run away. Again, did I miss an AJ babyface turn, or is this booking just completely and totally horrible? Why not book Natalya in this slot?
Anyways, back inside, the Black Widow is applied and Vickie taps out to end this farce.
Winner: AJ Lee
-Total and complete garbage (minus-two stars).
-Meanwhile, Triple H books Damien Sandow and Dolph Ziggler in a Broadway Brawl match...whatever that is.
Damien Sandow vs. Dolph Ziggler (Broadway Brawl match)
So there are various musical instruments in the ring alongside a very fake-looking drum kit. Sandow dumps Ziggler to start but swings and misses with an electric guitar. Ziggler nails him with a dropkick inside the ring but gets caught on the top rope and slammed through an electric keyboard. The announcers totally ignore all of this because they are busy making country music references from the 1970s. Raw heads to break and I head to the garage to slam my head in a car door a couple dozen times.
We return with Sandow firing off headbutts in the corner before he wedges a chair in the corner. Ziggler surprises him with a roll-up, but Damien puts him down with a guitar shot for two. Dolph recovers with a jumping DDT for the double KO, and Ziggler gets to his feet first to nail Sandow with a fiddle and a Rocker Dropper for two.
The announcers are just cracking jokes the entire time and completely ignoring the weapon shots. This is like watching WCW in 2000.
Sandow blocks Ziggler’s offense and runs Dolph into the chair in the corner for two. Damien ups the ante by running Ziggler into a cello (yes, a cello) in the corner and then adds a broken fiddle shot for two. He preps another electric guard shot, but Dolph dodges and Sandow hits post for two. Ziggler smashes a drum over Sandow’s head and traps him in the bass drum. Dolph finishes with an acoustic guitar shot that the Honky Tonk Man would be proud of and gets the pin.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
-You know, as ridiculous as this match sounds, both guys took it seriously and delivered a pretty good TV match considering the circumstances.
The problem was that Cole, Lawler and Bradshaw totally ignored the match and turned it into a joke by making wisecracks and laughing at their own jokes. It’s different if the workers are working it like a comedy match, but Sandow and Ziggler treated this like a brawl, and the announcers should be able to adjust like the professionals they claim to be.
Anyways, the match wasn’t bad at all, but the announcing totally ruined it for me (three stars).
-Meanwhile, Randy Orton bursts into the Hunter/Steph locker room and the authority figures let him know they aren’t sure he’s the face of WWE anymore.
-John Cena hits the ring and is selling the arm injury courtesy of Alberto Del Rio. Cena cuts his usual “I’m gonna fight for all of you even though I’m hurt and the odds are against me, blah blah blah” promo, which the rubes in the crowd cheer wildly. Del Rio interrupts and mocks Cena’s arm injury, but Cena reveals he was just kidding and his arm is fine. That John Cena...what a smart guy.
3MB vs. R-Truth and Xavier Woods
Truth freestyles on 3MB during his entrance and introduces Xavier Woods, who had a better wrestling name when he was Consequences Creed.
Truth starts with Mahal and slugs him down before bringing in Woods for a dropkick. Flying headscissors puts Jinder down, but he makes the blind tag to McIntyre, who floors Woods with a big boot. The heels double-team Woods with a suplex and use nefarious heel tactics, but Woods flips out of a bodyslam attempt and gets the hot tag to Truth.
Truth is indeed a house of fire, as Woods gets rid of Heath Slater and Truth hits a vertical suplex Stunner. He brings in Woods to hit the Honor Roll clothesline and finish with Lost in the Woods (otherwise known as Gail Kim’s Eat Defeat).
Winners: R-Truth and Xavier Woods
-I’d ditch that clothesline if I were Woods, but his debut was fine for what it was. At least he’ll have something to do for a few weeks with Truth as his partner. Seriously, though, are there any bigger jobbers than 3MB? Call the thing (one-and-a-half stars).
-A live performance from Florida Georgia Line means I fast forward.
Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, the Usos, Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Shield and the Wyatt Family (12-Man Tag Match)
The crowd is pretty jacked for Daniel Bryan. Jimmy Uso starts with Dean Ambrose and clotheslines him down before adding a slam and bringing in Jey. He runs into an elbow, though, allowing Reigns to tag in and overpower Jey. Reigns makes the mistake of hitting a Samoan in the head, though, and gets driven into the babyface corner. Cody and Goldust double-team for two, and Goldust backdrops Rollins when he tags in for two. Jey tags in once again and, once again, runs into an elbow in the corner. The heels argue over who gets to beat him up first, taking us to break.
We return with Goldust hammering away on Rollins in the corner. Cody comes in to hook a sunset flip for two. Rollins turns the tide and sends Rhodes into the corner, allowing Cody to play the face in peril as Ambrose lays in some stomps.
The Shield switch off on Cody for a fairly boring heat segment as they continue to ignore the Wyatt Family. An Ambrose suplex gets two, but Cody blocks Seth’s attempt, finally forcing Rollins to tag in Harper. Cody hits him with a Disaster Kick fairly quickly, though, for the double KO, and Bryan gets the tag to a big reaction.
Bryan delivers the kicks to Harper and adds a dropkick in the corner. He hits Rollins with a sick overhead German suplex but gets caught by Harper and hit with a big sitout powerbomb. Bray Wyatt makes his first appearance and hammers away on Bryan as the crowd gets wise and starts chanting for Punk.
Bray tags in Reigns as a peace offering and all the heels take turns beating down Bryan. Rowan floors him with an elbow, but Daniel counters Ambrose with a knee lift (totally missed by the announcers). As he goes for the tag, though, every heel attacks the faces on the apron and sends them flying. Well, that’s effective. We go to break as the babyfaces regroup on the outside.
We return with Bryan still getting beat down in the heel corner until he spikes Reigns with a DDT and makes the hot tag to CM Punk. Punk destroys everyone and even hits Rollins and Ambrose with a combination neckbreaker-DDT (Nova is going to be upset). Macho Elbow hits on Ambrose, but he gets distracted by Bray Wyatt.
He still manages to lock the Anaconda Vise on Ambrose, and now everything breaks lose as the Usos take out Rowan and Harper. Ambrose uses the distraction to hit his finisher on Punk, but Goldust makes the save. Reigns ends his night with a spear, but Cross Rhodes eliminates him. Rollins gets rid of Cody, but Punk and Bryan take him out with the Hart Attack, and Punk finally finishes Ambrose with the GTS for the win.
Winners: Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, the Usos, Cody Rhodes and Goldust
-Post-match, the Real Americans run in for a beatdown and our heroes are in trouble until Rey Mysterio makes his return (noticeably limping). The babyfaces stand tall as we have our mystery partner for Survivor Series.
-I expected this match to deliver with the talent involved, and they certainly didn’t let me down. A hot finish that really brought the crowd to their feet helped and the guys involved worked their tails off. Top that all off with a Rey Mysterio return, and you have a three-and-a-half-star match.
Well, that main event almost made up for the rest of the show. I’m sorry, but sitting through two hours and 40 minutes of terrible television isn’t going to be erased by a good main event. This show could easily have been an hour long and not one important thing would have been missed. I know I sound like a broken record with the whole “this show is too long and boring,” but it’s long and boring every single week.
Fast forward through everything until you get to the main event and you’ll be OK.
Follow me on Twitter (@MikeShannon22) for the R-rated version of my Raw thoughts and various other things.