In one of the first episodes in a long time not to feature John Cena, Raw hosted a World Heavyweight Championship debate, Jim Ross Appreciation Night and a number of mid card matches. With just under four weeks to go until Hell in a Cell, there is still plenty of time to build up matches for the event. The following are the results and my analysis of each segment from the October 1st edition of Raw.
Raw opened with the WWE Champion CM Punk and Paul Heyman discussing the constant disrespect Punk gets. Punk emphasizes that John Cena and Mick Foley are cowards. After Punk announces that he still won’t face Cena at Hell in a Cell, Heyman brings up his proposal to AJ. Heyman demands that the Board of Directors remove AJ as GM for violating their warning. Heyman suggests he become Raw GM, which brings out Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler with a new shirt. Vickie thinks that she should be GM until Dolph suggests Heyman and Vickie team up to be co-Raw GMs. This brings AJ out who announces that she has been put on probation by the Board of Directors and given an executive coach. Daniel Bryan enters and claims AJ hasn’t been the same since he broke up with her. After a series of “I am the tag team champions!” chants, Kane joins everyone in the ring. Kane calls AJ a “phenomenal kisser” and begins his own chants of “I am the tag team champions!” A brawl of championship and Money in the Bank chants occurs until AJ ends it to announce Punk/Ziggler vs. Team Hell No as the main event of the night.
This segment lasted around twenty minutes and although it covered many different angles, it was done very well. The transitions between angles were smooth and made a lot of sense. With John Cena out it was expected for these superstars to get more focus. Team Hell No was as entertaining as ever with their catchphrases and references to AJ’s past.
Rey Mysterio/Sin Cara vs. Epico and Primo (#1 Contender for Tag Team Championships Tournament – Round One)
[adinserter name=”366 right”]A fast paced match for four superstars who excel at these kinds of matches. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara wear matching outfits and masks. Unsurprisingly, we saw a lot of botches by Sin Cara. Luckily, Rey Mysterio made the team look legit. The Prime Time Players even made an appearance and watched the match from the stage. No surprise here – Mysterio and Sin Cara win to advance in the tag team tournament.
Winners: Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
Brodus Clay vs. Antonio Cesaro
Brodus Clay gets a shortened entrance since we had just returned from commercial. Antonio Cesaro gives a pre-recorded promo in which he says appreciation in five different languages. This match ended after just over a minute when Cesaro impressively hits his difficult finisher on the big man Brodus Clay
Winner: Antonio Cesaro
Backstage: Kaitlyn, AJ, Executive Coach Christopher J. Stephenson
AJ introduces her executive coach Christopher J. Stephenson to Kaitlyn and asks her how she is doing. AJ tells Kaitlyn that she will have a match next week. AJ wants to talk about their past and seems to apologize to Kaitlyn until she bursts out in laughter and admits that she is not really sorry.
I always enjoy when WWE makes references to the past so it was nice to see them discuss Kaitlyn and AJ’s past. This seemed to just be an excuse to advertise Kaitlyn’s return and show AJ’s unstable mind.
Zack Ryder vs. The Miz
Pretty standard slash boring match here. Zack Ryder does his few signature moves until he makes one mistake. Miz turns that mistake into the skull crushing finale for a win in two and a half minutes.
Winner: The Miz
World Championship Debate
Booker T acts as moderator for a debate between Sheamus and Big Show. Questions come from fans via twitter. Prior to questions, Big Show’s opening statement claims that the debate is unnecessary and basically he will win against Sheamus at Hell in a Cell. Sheamus tells Big Show not take his leg off because he going to need it to kick him in the face. Sheamus makes a lot of jokes about Big Show who yells at Sheamus to take him and this situation more seriously. Sheamus brings up Big Show’s forty five second World Heavyweight Championship reign a lot as well as Sheamus’ eighteen second win against the man who beat Big Show, Daniel Bryan. Big Show knocks down his podium and asks for a new one (hilarious!). The final question comes via a TOUT from an obviously masked Sheamus. Big Show gets frustrated and the two men have a stare down until Big Show exits the ring.
Overall, the segment was entertaining and I enjoyed how much of a joke Big Show called Sheamus out to be. Sheamus does make too many corny jokes similar to John Cena at times. It was nice to see Big Show yell at Sheamus and tell him to take things more seriously. It was also hilarious when Big Show knocked down the podium. I don’t think this was supposed to happen, but he played it off real well.
Ryback vs. Tensai
Next we saw a rematch from Smackdown between Ryback and Tensai. Typical Ryback match until he attempts his finisher. Ryback failed a number of times to lift Tensai over onto his shoulder. Therefore, Ryback wins with a weak clothesline from hell instead.
Too bad Ryback failed to complete his finisher because it made the end look a little sloppy. Even so, I am not sure why we saw a rematch from Smackdown when there are other superstars Ryback could have faced.
Backstage: Rhodes Scholars
Next, we see Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow, aka Rhodes Scholars in the locker room. Rhodes Scholars discuss the World Heavyweight Championship debate. Sandow brings up Sheamus lack of pants. Rhodes Scholars claim they will win the tournament to determine the #1 contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championships.
Great segment by the Rhodes Scholars. As a huge fan of theirs, I think they need more time to talk. They have to be the favorites to win the tag team tournament by far.
Eve vs. Beth Phoenix
An expected quick divas match begins with Eve and Beth shaking hands until Beth attacks her. Both divas get control during the match, but it is Eve who hits her neck breaker for the win.
This match seems to continue this feud between Eve and Beth that unfortunately may result in Beth Phoenix’s ability to leave the WWE as rumors have suggested.
Backstage: AJ, Barrett, Executive Coach
AJ introduces Wade Barrett to her coach, Christopher J. Stephenson. Wade tells AJ that she is doing a terrible job and he should be in action. After Barrett walks away AJ tells Stephenson that he must be feeling intimidated.
Just like AJ’s last segment, this one seemed to just be an opportunity to plug another superstar in Wade Barrett, while showing off AJ and her executive coach.
Santino Marella vs. Heath Slater (with Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre)
The battle of jobbers sees Santino and Slater start the match by show boating.
Michael Cole mentions that he has no idea why Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre have in common. Quite frankly, neither do I. Santino Marella delivers the cobra but is then attacked by Slater’s Encore buddies. Each Encore member delivers his catchphrase and they celebrate.
After being introduced to this new stable known as Encore, they disappeared for a week. If WWE wants us to take this group more seriously, they need to appear every week. However, that is a very big if.
Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow
Cody Rhodes accompanies his tag team partner Damien Sandow to the ring and then joins J.R. and Michael Cole at commentary. This was arguably the match of the night. Jim Ross gave Damien Sandow a lot of praise. We see a distraction from Cody Rhodes a couple of times. The second and final time, Sheamus throws Cody into the ring and delivers a brogue kick to both Sandow and Rhodes at the same time. Sheamus covers Sandow for the pin and the win.
This match came about due to the backstage segment where Rhodes Scholars talked trash about Sheamus. As stated earlier, this was probably the match of the night. Despite Sandow losing at times, he always puts on a good match and I expect big things from him in the future.
JR Appreciation Night
Michael Cole welcomes everyone to Jim Ross appreciation night. JR enters from the back despite being at the commentary table prior to the commercial. Punk enters with Paul Heyman and interrupts pretty quickly. Punk says he respects JR and wants JR to tell everyone that he’s the best in the world. Jim Ross refuses to call Punk best in the world. Punk tells JR that neither Stone Cold Steve Austin nor Jerry Lawler are there to help him. Punk mentions 316 in reference to Austin and the number of days Punk has been champion. Punk urges JR again to tell everyone that he is the best in the world. JR continues to refuse and tells Punk that the best superstars never asked to be called best in the world because they earned it. JR urges Punk to prove he is the best by accepting John Cena’s challenge for a match at Hel in a Cell. Punk steps on and kicks JR’s hat before telling him that he would be smart to run away. Punk demands that JR leave and take the rest of the night off from commentary. As JR is leaving, Ryback’s music hits. Ryback and Punk have a stare down until Punk deserts and exits.
This segment could have gone a lot of different ways. Most people figured that JR would get humiliated in some fashion. Most people were probably hoping Stone Cold Steve Austin would make an appearance. It would have made a lot of sense considering his friendship with Ross and the fact that CM Punk has been WWE Champion for 316 days. However, I still liked the decision to include Ryback. There had to be a follow up to Ryback stepping in for Foley last week. Unfortunately, we still haven’t heard much from Ryback. I think the one thing that is keeping Ryback from getting to the next level is his lack of promos and speaking.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston (w/R-Truth)
Ricardo Rodriguez joins J.R. and Michael Cole at commentary for this match so you know it’s going to be entertaining. Kingston shows off his athleticism to start until the first commercial break. When we come back from commercial Del Rio has control. Ricardo begins speaking Spanish at commentary until going back to English. Kofi sets up trouble in paradise and misses it which leads to a little back and forth until Del Rio locks in arm cross breaker until Kofi taps out.
This was another solid singles match for Kofi Kingston. The only reason I was glad Alberto Del Rio was his opponent was Ricardo Rodriguez. It’s a shame that a superstar’s manager is so much more over than the superstar himself. With that said, I hope to see slash hear Ricardo on commentary more often. Also, I hope all these singles matches for Kofi leads to a break up for the tag team after the tournament.
Backstage – AJ and Executive Coach
Stephenson tries to give AJ some tips on how to improve being a general manager. AJ says she needs to do something special tonight like add a special guest referee for the main event. AJ names Stephenson the special guest referee. AJ then says she doesn’t need a coach and tells Stephenson to leave her arena.
Team Hell No vs. CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler
It turns out that AJ will serve as the special guest referee as her music hits after the superstars’ introductions. Kane and Ziggler start the match. Team Hell No begins the match showing great teamwork. Bryan puts Punk in the No Lock but Punk is able to get his foot on the rope. Heyman starts screaming at AJ and gets onto the apron, which results in AJ sending him backstage. Vickie gets angry and gets onto the apron and shouts at AJ as well until she signals for her to go backstage too. Ziggler walks off chasing Vickie. The match becomes Team Hell No against CM Punk. Kane tags himself in and choke slams Punk for the pin and the win. The show ends with I AM TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS chants from Team Hell No.
This match had four of the best workers in WWE today. Without John Cena, I loved the choice of having these four in a tag match. It made Punk look weak as he was the one who got pinned, but nonetheless, Kane and Daniel Bryan rightfully end another show on top.
[adinserter name=”366 left”]Overall, I think WWE made a lot of good choices despite not having John Cena on the show. I was expecting to hear him speak in a promo via satellite, but Cena was barely even mentioned during the show. After Cena, it seems as though WWE feels most comfortable giving Team Hell No the focus. Since, in my opinion, they are the most entertaining thing going on in WWE right now, I was certainly not opposed to this. Although Dolph Ziggler’s part in the main event didn’t seem to make a lot of sense, he is clearly another superstar that WWE has faith in and would like to focus on in the future. Although WWE is worried about their ratings right now, they gave us solid matches, interesting backstage segments and opportunities for many superstars to get TV time.
Whether or not John Cena returns next Monday, hopefully we will see some more build up to Hell in a Cell. In addition, I wish WWE would announce some more matches for Hell in a Cell in order to give storylines enough time so we don’t see a lot of unannounced or rushed matches.
Seth Guttenplan is a teacher by day, writer by night. In addition to being the Monday Night Raw reviewer for CamelClutchBlog.com, Seth is a Bleacher Report writer and host of Smackdown Rundown, ProWrestlingPowerhouse.com’s weekly radio show reviewing Friday Night Smackdown and previewing all upcoming WWE pay-per-view events. To read more from Seth, follow him on twitter (@sethgutt) and visit http://guttwrenchpowerblog.com
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