Monday Night Raw comes to us live from Omaha, Neb. I actually had to look that up because WWE doesn’t consider the city big enough to mention where the company is holding the event. I really hope the smarks are out in full force for tonight’s episode, because nothing spices up a bland Raw like a crowd completely disinterested in the product being presented.
Randy Orton starts us off by complaining about the Elimination Chamber match and cuts his usual boring promo that no one cares about. The smark fans try to get a “CM Punk” chant going, but there must be lots of kids in the crowd tonight, so it doesn’t really catch on. The Authority (with Stephanie looking more and more like Chyna Jr. every week) comes out and books Orton against Daniel Bryan tonight.
The Shield vs. Kofi Kingston, Big E Langston and Rey Mysterio
Ambrose gets overpowered by Langston, so Kofi is brought in to jump around and hit Rollins with a dropkick for two. Monkey flip puts Rollins down, but Seth slugs him, and Kofi gets caught in the heel corner. Kingston does his best Ricky Morton impression until Rollins misses a kneedrop and Mysterio gets the hot tag. Flying headscissors are dealt out to everyone, and Rollins takes a kick to the face for two. He tries to bring Seth over with a hurricanrana, but Reigns tags himself in and clotheslines Rey down for two. WWE decides to take a break now because that’s what the company does.
We return with Reigns beating on Mysterio before bring in Ambrose for a short-arm clothesline for two. He hangs Rey in the Tree of Woe and charges, but Mysterio lifts himself up and Dean hits the ring post. Langston gets the second hot tag and spears Reigns in the corner. Overhead belly-to-belly suplex leads to the Ultimate Warrior splash for two, broken by Ambrose. Mysterio and Rey clear the ring, but Reigns (busted open) floors Langston with the Superman punch. He looks to finish, but Ambrose tags himself in and hits a headlock driver for the pin. Roman does not look happy with his tag partner.
Winners: The Shield
-The Intercontinental champion does a job on TV? Of course he does. Match was the usual formula stuff punctuated by Reigns beating everyone up (1.5 stars). The Wyatts cut a promo on The Shield…who is supposed the be the babyface team again?
-Bad News Barrett says we shovel so much junk food into our mouths that we probably won’t live to see next year’s Super Bowl. Apparently, this is so offensive that Jerry Lawler has to insult Barrett with the lamest line possible. They even play Lawler’s theme music because this promotion has no idea what it is doing.
Christian vs. Jack Swagger
Christian is definitely the odd man out when it comes to the Elimination Chamber match, so I wouldn’t be surprised if WWE replaced him before the event.
Swagger overpowers him but misses a charge to the corner and gets sent to the floor. Jack yanks Christian off the apron, though, and rams him into the ring steps. Back in, Swagger hits a knee lift in the corner for two and follows with an Oklahoma Slam for two. Swagger, out of offensive moves, stalls a bit before heading to the second rope and hitting Christian with a boot on the way down. I hate moves like that because Swagger came off the rope with absolutely no intention of doing a move that would hit Christian on the mat. It’s the little things, people.
Swagger cuts off Christian’s comeback with another knee lift and tries the gutwrench, but Christian floats over and hits a reverse DDT for two. Christian heads up top for a cross-body, but Swagger catches him and tries for the Patriot Lock. Christian manages to wiggle free but gets yanked to the mat. Jack goes for the Swagger Bomb but hits feet on the way down (it made sense that time). Christian applies a sunset flip from the second rope for the win.
-They weren’t given a whole lot of time, but they squeezed a lot in there. It wasn’t a bad little match (2 stars).
-Betty White is next week’s Raw guest host…and WWE wonders why wrestling fans hate this show?
New Ages Outlaws vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust (Steel Cage Match for the Tag Team Titles)
The Outlaws still get the legend babyface pop despite turning heel because, seriously, who is going to boo the New Age Outlaws at this point in their careers? This is pin- or submission-only match because that’s how a man wins a cage match.
Goldust freaks out Road Dogg, so he tries to escape through the door to establish the rules of the match for the really dumb people in the audience. Road Dogg questions why they are in this cage match and brings in Billy Gunn, who actually takes his shirt off for the first time in about 10 years. Goldust slugs down Gunn and brings in Cody, who rolls up Gunn for two. A small package from Cody gets another near-fall, as they are building a story that the Outlaws are intimidated by being in the cage.
The crowd starts getting really bored by all the stalling, so it starts chanting for CM Punk while Cole talks over them. The Outlaws work Cody’s arm in a boring fashion until Cody clotheslines Dogg down and works his arm as retribution.
More arm-based offense leads to more crowd chanting, as the crowd doesn’t have patience for this stuff in a cage match. Goldust slugs away in the corner but misses on a cross-body attempt and goes back first into the steel cage. We take a break as the crowd chants “we want Punk” during the fade to black.
We return with Goldust tasting the steel for two. Dustin manages to spring off the corner and catch Billy with an elbow for a double KO but takes a big boot when he fights to his feet. Dogg tries for his punches but gets caught with a spinebuster, and Cody gets the hot tag to clean house. Dogg breaks up Cross Rhodes but pays the price by getting powerslammed by Goldust. Billy gets rid of Dustin but walks right into the Disaster kick (great sell by Billy) and gets caught in a close near-fall.
And, after practicing at house shows, Cody heads up to the top of the cage and hits a moonsault from the top onto the Road Dogg…just spectacular. Unfortunately, Billy Gunn immediately hits Cody with the Fameasser to get the pin and suck the life out of the spot.
Winners and still champions: The New Age Outlaws
-The opening segment was boring and slow and only really served to build to the huge bump from Cody. It’s a shame Cody and Goldust didn’t have a better end to their reign, as they were the best Tag champion team in years. I don’t know where the Outlaws go from here, but I don’t expect their shelf life to be much longer (2 stars).
Zack Ryder vs. Titus O’Neil
Holy hell, Zack Ryder is still alive! Titus immediately dumps Zack to the outside and slams him against the ring barrier while the Miz makes his way to the commentary position. Miz complains about not being on Raw while Zack gets his ass kicked in the ring. Ryder fights out of a bear hug and hits the Broski Boot. Titus catches him coming off the top, though, and hits a backbreaker before hitting Clash of the Titus for the win.
Winner: Titus O’Neil
-Total squash, but the crowd couldn’t have cared less (0.5 star).
Fandango vs. Santino Marella (Dance-off)
This “match” was booked because Vince McMahon hates me. Santino calls Emma from NXT into the ring to be his partner. Summer Rae dances first and looks hot; Emma dances second and looks like a geek.
-The crowd picks Emma as the winner because...who cares? That was seriously the whole segment. What an awful debut for Emma.
Sheamus vs. Curtis Axel
Slow start as they wrestle around on the mat until Axel ends up on the apron and takes Sheamus’ clubbing forearms. A clothesline puts Axel to the floor before he tastes the announce table. Sheamus gets caught with his head down, though, and Axel sends him into the ring post to work the recently rehabbed shoulder.
The crowd is so into this match that the it starts chanting “Ryback sucks.” Axel gets some heat from the crowd for his offense being so boring but other than that, there’s nothing there. Sheamus makes the comeback to zero reaction and hits White Noise to lukewarm cheers. The Brogue Kick connects, and that thankfully ends this soul-crushingly boring match.
-Seriously, this is exactly why people change the channel during Raw. Axel on offense is the cure for insomnia, and Sheamus is nowhere near the main event-level guy WWE portrays him as. This thing was a major dud.
-Batista hits the ring to a mixed reaction but gets immediately interrupted by Alberto Del Rio, who says that being famous doesn’t make you a champion. When Batista tries to respond, Del Rio punches him in the mouth and beats him down. Batista tries for a Batista Bomb, but Del Rio heads for the hills and leaves the fight for another day.
The Wyatt Family vs. Dolph Ziggler, Xavier Woods and R-Truth
Rowen destroys Woods to start, but he gets a blind tag to Truth; they double-team Rowen for two. Truth gets caught in the wrong corner, though, and gets floored with a big boot from Harper. Bray comes in for some punishment. Harper comes in and does that weird Gator Roll move that accomplishes nothing except for it being a chinlock. Truth fights out and gets the hot tag to Ziggler, who nails a huge DDT for two, saved by Rowen.
Woods gets rid of him, but Bray plants him. Ziggler dropkicks Bray out but gets floored by a turnaround clothesline from Harper. Sister Abigail hits for Bray, and that’s it for Ziggler, because he’s apparently a glorified jobber at this point.
Winners: The Wyatt Family
-The match wasn’t anything special (which is a trend tonight) and just served to put the Wyatts over (2 stars). The Shield cuts a promo afterwards, and Bray welcomes the war.
Naomi vs. Aksana
AJ Lee is on commentary, so I guess CM Punk is busy playing video games with Colt Cabana tonight. Naomi throws awful forearms in the corner while AJ calls her a “sexy baked potato” (I don’t even know what that means). Naomi hits a sit-out full nelson bomb but gets slammed down. Aksana chokes her out.
More bland offense from Aksana leads to Noami fighting out of a headscissors and making a comeback. She throws some more of her awful dropkicks and gyrates like an idiot until Aksana knee drops her directly in the eye socket…ouch. Aksana buys her some time until Naomi recovers and hits a split-legged moonsault for the win.
-See, when you train supermodels how to wrestle, you get accidents like Naomi’s eye socket almost being cracked by a Lithuanian’s knee. This was typical Diva fare (1 star).
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
So the stakes for this match are, if Bryan wins, The Authority might reconsider who the face of WWE should be. Wow, what a risk!
Orton stalls and pulls Bryan by the beard to break an armbar. Suplex hits for Orton and a shoulder tackle leads to more posing. Bryan pops up with a knee lift, though, and fires off a dragon screw leg whip. Bryan wraps Orton’s leg around the ring post and dropkicks it, establishing our psychology and giving Bryan a target.
Bryan goes to work on the leg, but Orton bites him to break a leglock. Bryan catches him with a backslide for two, then goes back to the dragon screw to stay on the leg. Orton tries to buy time, but Bryan gives chase and tosses Randy into Michael Cole. That kills two birds with one stone. Back inside, Bryan dropkicks Orton’s leg in the corner as he continues to surgically destroy the injured limb. It’s not a good sign that he’s getting all the offense though, that’s for sure.
Bryan brings Orton off the top with a hurricanrana and applies the surfboard. More kicks from Bryan, as Orton is really taking a beating tonight. Bryan locks on a single-leg crab. Orton escapes to the outside and catches Bryan with a back suplex on top of the ring barrier. The match grinds to a halt as Orton goes on the offensive and hammers away in the corner. Bryan flips out of an Irish whip to the corner but gets caught with a powerslam as we head to commercial break.
We return with Bryan firing off kicks, but Orton catches the final one and hits him with an overhead suplex, injuring Bryan’s shoulder. Outside of the ring, Orton slams Bryan into the ring post and the steps, destroying the shoulder a little more. Orton briefly works a Fujiwara armbar and nicely attacks the arm with good selling from Bryan. They battle to the top rope. Orton tries for a superplex, but Bryan slugs him down and comes off with a missile dropkick.
They have a slugfest, but Orton stops it by wrenching Bryan’s arm to the mat. Randy looks to finish, but Bryan surprises him with the Yes! Lock, forcing Orton to scramble to the ropes. Bryan hits a pair of dropkicks in the corner, but Orton explodes out on the third attempt and catches Daniel with his own dropkick. Draping DDT plants Bryan, and Orton looks to finish, but Bryan catches him with a kick and scrambles to the top for a flying headbutt, which gets two.
Bryan kicks the hell out of Orton as Kane makes his way out and takes a dropkick from Bryan. Daniel dumps Orton to the floor and takes out both heels with a dive. He runs Kane into the ring steps to get rid of him but is distracted long enough for Orton to recover. Randy tries an RKO, but Bryan runs him into the corner and hits the running high knee for the clean pin.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
-An absolutely great TV main event, as both guys worked their tails off and took a beating in the name of putting on a good match. I swear, if they would have done that finish at the Royal Rumble in Pittsburgh, they would have had the loudest reaction in years. Of course, Bryan immediately gets beaten down by Orton and Kane because it's the WWE.
Still, the match was excellent in my mind for great psychology and some hard-hitting offense for both guys (3. 75 stars).
You mean you can actually have a Raw without John Cena? I’m stunned. The whole show was a total and complete borefest until the main event, which was one of the best TV matches you’ll see this year. Unfortunately, WWE flushed all that goodwill down the crapper by having Kane (completely useless in his current role) and Orton destroy Bryan immediately after the match. He just beat the world champion clean as a sheet in the middle of the ring; don’t you think that deserves a send-off on the show?
Still, that match seemed like it was booked at the last second to placate the smark fanbase, and Bryan will be shuffled into a feud with Kane as soon as Cena’s hangnail heals or whatever.
As for the show as a whole, you can completely skip the first two hours and 45 minutes and just catch the main event.
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