The one chief complaint of 2009, at least in regard to the WWE Championship, is this: “We’ve seen it before!” After Bragging Rights was over, we were left with the hope that we would see something different now that the Orton/Cena rivalry is over. After tonight’s episode of Raw, I guess we won’t be.
Tonight on Raw, we saw a loose storyline play itself out that would bring us to the determination of the new #1 contender for John Cena’s WWE Championship.
The hosts, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch, came roaring into the arena in stock cars painted up in the "Smackdown Vs. Raw 2010" theme. You could plainly tell they were nervous in the early going, as one of them botched Kofi Kingston's name. The first match is between Kingston and Chris Jericho.
This is a decent match with a lot of back and forth. They didn't seem to really mesh until the end of the match, but it was well-worked by both I thought. Jericho showed he is a veteran who is confident in his position by allowing the Kofi to pick up a win in a meaningful two segment match. However, as Kofi is leaving the arena, he is attacked by Randy Orton and thrown off the ramp.
The championship storyline starts when Joey Logano and Kyle Busch were talking to Eve in a backstage segment. Jack Swagger makes his way into the room and introduces himself. He goes on to point out how similar they are; they’re young, successful champions and proven winners. Logano cuts to the chase and asks what Swagger wants. Swagger said he wants John Cena tonight for the WWE Title.
Busch reiterated that Cena wrestled for an hour the previous night and he “didn’t know about that.” Logano then speaks up and says that the two drivers will be booking the next championship opponent tonight. Swagger then decides he’s going to flirt with Eve Torres when The Miz barges in.
Miz reminds everyone that he was the only one from Raw to win a match last night and fully expects to be Cena’s #1 contender at Survivor Series. Miz also fully expects to win because after all, he is The Miz, and he is…awful, as the crowd filled in. Miz then takes Eve by the hand and kisses her, and Eve makes a good sell on wanting to throw up.
Moving on, Hornswaggle makes an appearance in the mixed tag match between Melina and Santino Marella against Jillian Hall and Chavo Guerrero. 'Swaggle causes a distraction that in turn causes Melina to miss her finish, but none the less Melina and Santino pick up the win. Hornswaggle, dressed in DX gear, celebrates with them at the end of the match.
While celebrating, a man in a suit appears, delivers an envelope to ‘Swaggle, and leaves. 'Swaggle opens it and goes to Jerry Lawler for interpretation. Lawler says that it's a cease and desist letter that bans Hornswaggle from wearing DX gear. ‘Swaggle walks away, confused.
Later, just as the ring announcer was prepared to bring John Cena to the ring The Legacy interrupts. DiBiase and Rhodes make their case – saying that Randy Orton could not compete for the title, but they could. DiBiase and Rhodes were determined to bring the title back to Legacy. A challenge was issued to Cena to take on one, or both, of them.
Cena hits the ring, and denies their match, telling them they needed to lace up their boots and get in line. He asks “has the Baby Oil Boys Club earned anything?” and got a resounding “NO!” from the crowd. Cena goes on to introduce their opponents, Mark Henry and MVP in a tag match. This match would loosely be a part of determining who would face Cena next, and the team of MVP and Henry picked up the win.
Orton hits the ring after Legacy’s loss, and goes on a rant, saying he doesn't care about what he agreed to and that he has a guaranteed rematch clause. Kofi Kingston – attacked earlier by Orton – interrupts him via the big screen. Kofi tells Orton that "we don't care, you lost...don't you get it?"
Orton challenges him to come out and say it to his face, and Kofi repsonds with "well, I'm doing that right now..." and the camera shows him standing on the custom-painted stock car given to Orton by his Legacy teammates earlier in the evening. Kofi goes on to key the car, bash the hood and windshield in with a crowbar, and spill paint all over Orton's likeness on the hood.
I thought this was a watershed moment for Kingston and showed some character development tonight. The way it all went down gave me a slight vibe of a young Austin and it came off well, even though he nearly fell at the end with the paint all over the car. Kudos to the WWE for giving him the chance to show some character development.
Next up is a match between The Miz and Evan Bourne. This match was lackluster but I think was just background for some verbal jostling. Jack Swagger makes his way out and taunts The Miz on the mic as the match is going on, saying that no one is watching. He says that that they’re all watching Eve, who in turn is watching Swagger.
The Miz goes out to confront Swagger, and Bourne hits both men with a splash. Bourne gets back in the ring before the ten count to win the match. After the match, The Miz and Swagger eye up each other. This has the possibility of a feud in the making, at least in the short term.
At the end of the night, Triple H faced the Big Show in a no disqualification lumberjack match with John Cena as special referee. The match itself was somewhat bland, yet it ended with a big finish as the lumberjacks all start to hit the ring and deliver finishing moves to Show. Evan Bourne got a spot, hitting his shooting-star press, and Kingston hit Trouble In Paradise right before the sequence of the “FU”, Sweet Chin Music, then the Pedigree. Triple H picks up the win.
At the end, Joey Legano and Kyle Busch appear, and thank the crowd for letting them be the guest hosts. They go on to say that they couldn’t agree on who the next opponent for Cena should be, but someone put them on the same page. Cue Hornswaggle’s music, and here comes the leprechaun still in his DX gear. The drivers go on to announce that the title match at Survivor Series will be Triple H vs Shawn Michaels vs John Cena.
Without a question, the highlight of the night for me was Kofi’s destruction of the stock car. This will provide a fresh feud for Randy Orton going forward out of Bragging Rights. That moment also showed that, while not perfect, Kofi is capable to be in a main-event program.
The rest of the show left me wanting. Aside from the opening match with Jericho and Kingston, the matches were not that good tonight in all honesty. Logano and Busch were clearly very nervous and it showed on the mic. They got over the nerves a bit as the night went on but they still weren't great hosts.
The letdown of the night was the announcement of the title match for Survivor Series. I am curious as to how they arrived at Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena as a good decision. Perhaps the latest WWE Magazine I saw in a local store over the weekend tells the story - "The End of DX?"
I really thought that perhaps you would see someone such as MVP or Jack Swagger rise up into a program with Cena. With the rumors circulating that John will miss no TV time as he films his part of a new movie he is involved in, the opportunity was there to have a longer-term program with someone new. They could have had another moment like they did with Kofi and elected not to.
I am not saying that whatever new main-eventer they picked had to immediately win the belt. But the opportunity existed to bring someone else into the picture, allowing us to see new talent and new feuds. At least for one more month, we won’t see that but instead will see several of the same old faces in the title picture.
So it boils down to DX vs. John Cena for the next month. Are you ready?