Going into the show, we know the hyped main event… CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman!
Well, we start off RAW with the Sacramento, California crowd on their feet with the introduction of Daniel Bryan. Wade Barrett, in the opposite corner, looking to avenge the loss on SmackDown, and the loss of his own facial hair just a week ago. Things turn ugly as the highly irritating Brad Maddox is announced as the special guest referee. You know this won’t turn out well. Take a look at the build for Bryan towards SummerSlam. Vince McMahon hates him. Cena tries to intimidate him. Maddox is the lackey who successfully screws over Bryan tonight, helping Barrett earn the cheap win.
Wade Barrett defeats Daniel Bryan by Pinfall
Lucky Barrett, it might just be his first win in six months. Unlucky for Maddox, Bryan nearly kicked his head off. We are getting a very interesting angle here, McMahon also stating he hates Cena, which leads us to believe a big screwjob is imminent for SummerSlam. More on that later.
Randy Orton defeated Damien Sandow by Pinfall
Last week Orton nails both Cena and Bryan with RKOs, then faces off with Rob Van Dam on SmackDown, leading us to think it is finally heel time, but being put in the ring with Sandow is counter-productive to this train of thought. Rhodes on commentary, taunting Sandow ultimately leads to the downfall of the Savior of the Masses as a distraction serves to give Orton the opportunity to drop Sandow with an RKO. Nice new briefcase Sandow has, by the way, very upper-class. Fits his persona. I am expecting big things for Sandow in the coming months. Evidenced by this Sunday, Damien Sandow joins Jim Ross for the WWE 2K14 panel at WWE Fan Axxess this Sunday before SummerSlam.
Shield backstage promo, have not seen one of those in a while. I feel concern for The Shield, as the highly praised arrival of The Wyatt Family seems to have taken away from the covert-op-styled championship trio. As long as they retain gold for some time, longer than SummerSlam, The Shield will still be a feared stable. I would like to see some new members, one or two, no more than that, just to keep them fresh.
What is not fresh, is the sudden arrival of The Great Khali. WHY. WHY? Why is he still here? Does he have an iron-clad contract which means WWE must put him on TV forever? I do not care if he jobs to EVERYONE, including 3MB. We have a mixed tag match, to preview Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn vs. Big E. Langston and AJ Lee at SummerSlam. AJ wants the match, but the more dominant Natalya practically owns this match and never lets up for a moment, locking in the Sharpshooter on AJ for a very convincing victory. Post match, Big E. tries to beat up Khali, who then decks him, sending the former NXT Champ to the floor in a heap. So wait, Langston and AJ are supposed to be built up as the big-time antagonists, constantly a thorn for Ziggles and Kaitlyn-not-Trish, yet they JOB to Khali and Natalya. Way to confuse your fans who actually pay attention WWE.
The Great Khali and Natalya defeat Big E. Langston and AJ Lee via Submission
Makes you wonder, if AJ and Langston jobbed to jobbers, does this decrease Ziggler even further down the mid-card pit?
Vince McMahon graces us with his presence. He replays the footage of Maddox causing Bryan to lose his match. They have some bland conversation, Maddox apologizing for his fast count, and Vince giving him a pass. Maddox then offers to be the guest ref at SummerSlam, between John Cena defending the WWE Championship against Daniel Bryan. After McMahon and Maddox act out an obvious antagonizing conversation meant to piss off everyone as Vince allows Maddox to serve as ref, but is thankfully interrupted by Triple H, and the erupting cheers from the live crowd. He agrees with Vince we need a special guest ref, but disagrees with Maddox as ref, and instead announces himself as the guest ref, planting Maddox with the Pedigree as the exclamation point.
Kane beats Titus O’Neal
Big hype for the modern-day Inferno Match, now called the Ring of Fire. Michael Cole reiterates it is not meant to be used by the combatants, and not intended to set anyone on fire, but serving as a deterrent for anyone to interfere and for Bray Wyatt and Kane to reconsider any attempts to flee. The latter, not going to happen. O’Neal unfortunately got no offense in, and fell easy to the Big Red Monster. That sucks, really wished Titus would get some shots in. Post-match, The Wyatt Family make their creepy entrance, intent on surrounding Kane, yet once the lights go on, Kane is not in the ring, but behind Wyatt! The Family regroups as Kane bellows out a warning for Sunday.
Horrible Backstage Segment involving The Bellas, the new fake-redhead, Natalya and the Funkadactyls. I do not understand what is going on, and I do not care.
Alberto del Rio comes to the ring as a replay shows the World Champion beating the almighty crap out of Ricardo Rodriguez. Kofi Kingston is back and better than before, putting on a true main event quality match with the current champion. Del Rio continues to prove he makes a great heel-champ, the smug look, arrogant in-ring attitude is just perfect. Kingston showing he is more just a typical flying wrestler, using some great mat-based ground attacks during the fight. Back and forth, I really believed Kingston could have won. Coupled with Del Rio recently losing to both Christian and Rob Van Dam, I thought it could happen, but tonight it was Del Rio who emerged victorious after a counter into the cross-armbreaker.
Winner by submission: Alberto del Rio
Christian cuts a backstage promo, reflecting on his career, even showing in the video package his one World Title win in the ladder match where he beat, ironically, Alberto del Rio, who interrupts the segment and taunts the challenger.
The Usos defeat The Real Americans (Swagger & Cesaro w/Zeb Colter)
Last week our patriots convincingly beat The Usos. Gives the devious duo a bit of a push up the ranks of the tag team division. This week, we got an abbreviate version of their past few encounters, with Jimmy and Jey just taking control and getting the quick win thanks to some dizzying maneuvers and fast tags. Real Americans drop back down while Usos continue to ride the push towards the Tag Team Titles. I am glad Swagger and Cesaro earned a win last week over the top contenders, hopefully my favorite patriots will not stay down for long.
Miz TV – Because there is NOTHING else for him to do, except try to be a modern-day Roddy Piper, but winds up looking more ridiculous than Adrian Adonis and his Flower Shop. Champion and challenger are introduced. Bryan wearing his “Beard is Here” shirt, while Cena sports his “Champ is Here” shirt. Bryan says it is great Triple H is the guest ref so the WWE Universe gets a fair match. Cena starts by acknowledging his segments are usually train wrecks. Odd. Cena cuts his promo, just looking forward to a great match, while Miz starts instigating Bryan, claiming Cena does not respect Bryan and he was picked as an easy win. Bryan threatens to clock Miz, and then shuts down Cena before he can interrupt. Bryan just cuts a promo which might have been the greatest rip on Cena I have ever heard. “You’re in it for the fame… NOT in it for the WRESTLING!” Bryan rips a new one, bringing honor to the word “wrestling” to WWE. Bryan talks about his shirt is a parody of Cena, because Cena is a parody of wrestling, and Bryan wants to be WWE Champion in order to prove there is nobody better than Daniel Bryan when it comes to wrestling. Cena plays into it, agreeing with Bryan, saying the WWE Universe is fully behind Bryan, and how they can choose who they like and who they hate. I will give credit, Cena is really cutting a good promo too. Miz stands there like a dolt. Cena makes fun of himself with the “Five Moves of Doom” and reminds everyone he has been with WWE for 12 years and loves every day of it. He talks about his Make-A-Wish experience. Wow, this might have been the greatest Miz TV… Ever.
I will say Cena can really cut it. He spoke the truth. He is cheered, booed, loved, or hated. He might act like a cartoon, but when it comes down to basics, Cena is here to wrestle and entertain. It might have made Bryan look a bit heelish.
Cena ends his promo saying he has beaten HBK and HHH, and Bryan interrupts saying he should be treated the same, but Cena fires back saying Bryan is not there yet. Bryan cuts another great line, saying how he is hungry, the biggest match ever, because while Cena has held the belt 11 times, Bryan is looking for his first. Bryan talks about a Japanese tradition to slap your opponent to fire them up before the match, but Bryan will not do it, because he feels Cena is not a wrestler. Triple H interrupts before anything gets out-of-hand. Before anything happens, Randy Orton shows up! He does nothing except stands on the ramp, holding up his Money in the Bank briefcase.
R-Truth vs. Fandango goes nowhere. I hit the jump-ahead button once, and the segment was over. Did not care enough to go back.
The Cena/Bryan segment was incredible. Very impressed.
Backstage, Paul Heyman has second thoughts about tonight’s main event… facing CM Punk!
20-Man Battle Royal, winner challenges Dean Ambrose for the United States Championship
We have Rob Van Dam, Brodus Clay, Tensai, 3MB, Ryback, Justin Gabriel, R-Truth, Fandango, Prime Time Players, The Patriots, The Great Khali, The Usos, Kofi Kingston, Wade Barrett, and Mark Henry. Major focus on Henry, while noticing most of the participants have already had matches tonight. Final six are Patriots, RVD, Ryback, Henry, and Barrett. Fast eliminations follow, and Ryback is eliminated by both final wrestlers, Mark Henry and Rob Van Dam. Henry and Van Dam have a short exchange, but RVD is caught on the top turnbuckle. Henry moves in for the win, but The Whole Dam Show slides down, pulling the top rope with him, sending a charging Henry up, over and out. As Henry congratulates the ECW star, The Shield make their way down. Henry and RVD ready themselves for a fight but we then hear the music of… THE BIG SHOW! Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns back off very quickly.
Winner of the Battle Royal and #1 Contender to the U.S. Championship: Rob Van Dam
Ambrose vs. RVD? AWESOME.
CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman turns into total mayhem. Heyman cut a great promo hyping “The Best vs. The Beast” and taunts the fans for cheering Punk as their hero. Heyman brings Lesnar down to the ring as backup. Punk’s music hits, but he sneaks in from behind, steals a camera and beats Brock senseless with it. Enter a steel chair, and Punk starts swinging for the fences. Heyman poops himself as Lesnar is knocked out. Heyman makes a run for it, and Curtis Axel rushes out to save his manager. Punk floors Axel with the Go To sleep, sending a clear message to the fallen Lesnar.
Well, this RAW was certainly much better than last week, giving a lot for us to digest before SmackDown. RVD vs. Ambrose just became the must-watch undercard match, possibly taking the spot I reserved for Sandow vs. Rhodes. Henry once again denied a title opportunity is very interesting, perhaps a union with the Big Show might put him in line for the tag titles. Kane vs. Bray Wyatt took a unique turn, while Bryan and Cena certainly turned up the heat for their SummerSlam encounter.