-I’m not sure how much more of this I’m willing to put up with. I get that WWE is more image-conscious than ever, and they’ll take any opportunity to pat themselves on the back, especially with the election coming up. But after last week, when they took every opportunity to promote Jerry Lawler’s recuperative powers (while filming an awkward handshake with his doctor that Vince McMahon was allegedly insistent on recording)….I don’t know, it just reeks of “we all love each other, everything is okay, we’re number one.” A mention here and there once or twice updating fans on Lawler’s improving health would have been fine, not milking the crowd for cheers by showing him getting off a plane, or heavily promoting an interview with him for the following week.
They exploit him, but do we still love them? Sounds like a song I hear on Raw each week.
-Live from Albany, where “steamed hams” is a popular expression.
[adinserter block=”2″]Opening Segment: Punk and Heyman in the ring
Punk’s turned into the Heath Slater/Tyler Reks of main eventers, not getting an entrance. It’s apparently a sit-in protest over the ending of last week’s Raw. In other news, somebody remembered what happened on Raw last week. They want the referee, some FCW kid named Brad Maddox, to resign. He’s awful photogenic for a referee. He refuses to resign, and Punk wants to know how he got his job. I’m sure Kevin Dunn was involved, Punker. Of course, this is all a satire to mock the NFL for their replacement officials, so it’s good to see that WWE still isn’t above needling more profitable and higher rated enterprises. Punk insults AJ over the hire, so we get the Skipper herself. Heyman asks her to overturn the decision, and she refuses, because it was a heel that got screwed, you see. And hey, WWE got what they wanted: a crowd to boo Punk lustily. Punk plays the footage of AJ’s bizarre proposal over the summer, and then rubs it in by revealing what a sex-crazed freak she was. Then a segment of the audience chants for Punk while AJ recoils. Heyman then tops the douchiness by proposing to AJ himself. “I’ll come with all the ideas, and you can take all the credit for my brilliance!” So she’s Stephanie? AJ slaps him and storms off.
Segment Rating: 6/10. Kinda dragged until Punk and Heyman out-douched one another. Then I chuckled.
-Then I get pissed as they plug the Lawler interview by showing an image of an unconscious Lawler with an oxygen mask. Screw this company.
-AJ threatens to fire Brad Maddox if he screws up again, while she zones out manically.
-Vickie is unable to talk through my mute button. Glad to see it still works.
Match 1: Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston
I need a good 20 minute match out of these two to cleanse my soul after that Lawler garbage. Vickie gets into an argument with Little Jimmy, so Truth douses her with a drink. Yep. Truth and Vickie get tossed, so there’s hope for a good match yet. Ziggler goes to the floor early and Kofi lands a flipping senton as we go to commercial. We return with Ziggler in control, where he hits an exploder suplex for 2. Kofi tries to come back, but Ziggler gets a picture perfect dropkick for 2. Kofi manages to mount the comeback, hitting the Boom Drop. TIP misses, Kofi avoids another exploder, and Dolph pushes off the SOS. Kofi nails a high kick in the corner, and lands a diving fist for 2. An elevated cross body gets another 2 count. Ziggler gets 2 off of something I completely missed while typing. Damn it, guys, call the moves! Kofi lands the SOS for a very close 2 and the fans are totally buying into this. A series of counters leads to Kingston landing the spinning cross body for another near fall. Trouble misses again, and Kofi is sent hard into the corner. Zig Zag finishes right after.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler via Zig Zag
Rating: 8/10. Damn it, I wish that commercial was omitted. ***1/2 TV match that would have been a fine Saturday Night’s Main Event opener.
-Cena will update us on his injury! What, no image of him on a stretcher?
Kane and Bryan continue to assist WWE in beating one of their funnier ideas in a while into the ground. I miss the serious “I’ll kill you with science” D-Bry. Dr. Shelby leads Bryan and Kane through a roleplaying segment in which Kane is a waiter. Kane plays “Gerald”, and he gets angry, describing killing the cook because he was annoying and had a goat beard.
Match 2: Prime Time Players vs. Italian Iced Z
Ryder throats himself on a cross body attempt, and D-Young pounces with a chinlock. Santino tags in to turn the tide, getting the saluting headbutt for 2. 4 man skirmish leads to Ryder eating the post, but the Cobra comes out. O’Neil becomes the legal man without Santino realizing, and Clash of the Titus finishes.
WINNERS: Prime Time Players via Clash of the Titus
Rating: 2/10. Just a quickie to remind us that, yes, the PTP will still get a push.
Cheap Plug: my look at the NFC East, week 3. Pointing out Andy Reid’s follies will become commonplace, I’m sure. http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/content/nfc-east-giants-and-cowboys-surge-eagles-and-redskins-purged/17488/
In Ring Segment: Mick Foley
Always glad to see Mick, even if he’s not used as anything more than comic fodder these days. Ahh, but wait, Foley’s here to rail on Punk for bullying officials, employing Heyman, etc. This brings Punk out, so here’s hoping for an intelligent repartee. Punk bumps Foley intentionally on the way to get a mic, and then lambasts Foley for not talking to him to his face. Foley points out that he congratulated Punk after his big title win in July 2011, and Punk thanked him, because it meant a lot coming from Mick. Punk brushes it off, and Foley thinks Heyman changed Punk. He goes a step further, and claims that Heyman’s just using Punk. “Why does Punk need a mouthpiece?” Man has a point. Foley gives the moment of truth statement by asking Punk if he wants to be an inspiration or a Kool-Aid drinker. Talk turns to Hell in a Cell, and the dangers of the match. Foley wants Punk to face Cena in HIAC to prove that he’s the best in the world. Punk points out he’s already the best because he walked out of Night of Champions as champion. Punk declares Foley “beneath him.” Punk declares himself great by listing off the days he’s been champion, and Foley points out it doesn’t matter. Does Punk want to be a statistic, or a legend? The choice is Punk’s if he wants to give Cena that shot as Foley finishes with a flurry.
Segment Rating: 8/10. Stronger as it went along, and it builds sympathy for Punk if he accepts, and beats, Cena. I won’t bet on it.
Match 3: The Miz vs. Ryback (non title match)
Ryback takes control after shaking off some Miz strikes, and Miz gets bealed across the ring. Ryback powers out of the back/neckbreaker with an impressive powerslam. Miz rolls to the floor like any good heel, and Miz tricks him into slamming into the rail. Things go back and forth inside with Miz hitting the Stump DDT for 2. Front powerbomb brings Ryback back into it. A dumb fan charges into the ring as Ryback hits the Meat Hook. Shell Shock finishes.
WINNER: Ryback via Shell Shock
Rating: 4/10. Nifty extended squash where Miz got his shots in.
-Bryan and Kane have a heart to heart over dinner. They bond over mauling random people with chairs. Then they practically orgasm in a redux of When Harry Met Sally, with Mae Young playing the old lady. Meh, it was better when Angle and Hemme did it.
-AJ chats with the refs. “WWE doesn’t have instant replay and never will.” WWE: We invite incompetence. She then books a six man: Sheamus, Mysterio, and Sin Cara vs. Del Rio, Ricardo, and Otunga. Wow, half lucha legends, half developmental guys.
Match 4: Wade Barrett vs. Tyson Kidd
So glad they warped Barrett’s theme with a darker bass line. Kidd kicks away and takes Barrett down with a basement dropkick for 2. Barrett comes back with strikes and a big clothesline. A running kick knocks Kidd off the middle rope to the floor. Kidd comes back with a reverse cradle for 2, but Barrett rebounds with a spinning Winds of Change. Souvenir (short-arm into elbow stab) finishes.
WINNER: Wade Barrett via Souvenir
Rating: 4/10. Fun while it lasted. Barrett facing a ton of talented midcarders is a good way to fill time.
-Lawler interview. With all due respect, I’m glad he’s okay, but the constant shilling, bragging, and exploitation have actually made me angry. Glad he’s okay, like I said, and I hope he continues to get better, but you can thank WWE for killing what should be a positive, feel-good moment.
Match 5: Rey Mysterio/Sin Cara/Worst Babyface Ever vs. Alberto Del Rio/David Otunga/Ricardo Rodriguez
After two commercials, WBE nails Otunga with a shoulderblock off the apron, and the luchas get high (but not Evan Bourne high). Rodriguez, in tux, tags in and takes a beating from Sin Cara. Kudos to JR for referencing all the “Mexican wrestling history” in the ring. Ricardo goes for Cara’s mask, but eats a headscissors for his efforts. Mysterio and ADR are in, and Rey is enzuigiried off the top for 2. Otunga in, and he slams Mysterio before tagging Ricardo, who covers the downed Rey for 2. Del Rio gets another enzuigiri on Rey, as I could watch these 2 all day. Mysterio ends a Del Rio run with a basement dropkick to the face. Tags are made to Otunga and WBE, and Otunga is predictably mauled. Ricardo in, and he takes the comedy beating, with Sin Cara finishing with the senton. Otunga is Brogued after, just because.
WINNERS: WBE, Rey Mysterio, and Sin Cara via Senton
Rating: 6/10. Anything with Rey and Del Rio was good stuff. Give Del Rio a better partner (i.e. Dolph or Cody) against Rey/Cara, and I’m in.
-Kane and Bryan try each other’s meals to see how the other lives life. Kane eats lettuce, and Bryan has a meatball, against his vegan beliefs. Kane belches, and Bryan loses his lunch on the doctor. I think the wheels are coming off these segments.
-Kane and D-Bry’s new team name: Team Hell No. Good. Then the Rhodes Scholars (Rhodes and Sandow) jump them, because it’s awesome.
Match 5: Layla/Alicia Fox vs. Eve Torres/Beth Phoenix
Layla lands her springing cross body on Beth, and Alicia gets all dropkicky. Eve finishes things in short order with a neckbreaker on Alicia.
WINNERS: Eve Torres/Beth Phoenix via Neckbreaker
Rating: 1/10. It’s a match.
-Kaitlyn’s out on a crutch, but the crowd has no clue who she is. Apparently, her attacker at Night of Champions was a blonde. Eve in a wig, got it. Eve beats up the TNA-bound Beth as a ‘solid’ for Kaitlyn.
[adinserter block=”1″]Match 6: Brodus Clay vs. Tensai
Whoever’s idea it was to show pictures of Lawler near death tonight, I hope Cameron’s driving them home. No Sakamoto, it should be noted. Clay wins the headbutt battle and gets the modified exploder, but Funk It misss. Tensai misses the running senton. Then Big Show’s music hits. Be still Vince’s throbbing jackhammer. Tensai gets WMDed, as is Clay. And that’s that.
WINNER: Tensai, hypothetically, via DQ
Rating: 2/10. Kinda fun while it lasted, actually.
Talk Segment: John Cena
Cena tries to play it like his elbow injury could be career ending, just to scare the rubes. He thanks the fans for supporting the Susan G Komen Foundation, and a lot of fans boo him anyway. That’s kinda funny, actually. Cena then goes on an inane, substitute-worded “tirade” on Punk, and guarantees nothing more than he’ll be at Hell in a Cell, but won’t guarantee victory, given his elbow. This brings Punk out, with Heyman in tow. Punk subtly calls Albany a dump while correctly pointing out Cena’s incorrect rants against him. His reign won’t be ending at Cena’s hands, he sayeth. Punk won’t accept Cena’s challenge, and the fans actually chant his name, albeit lightly. Punk advises Cena to run while he still can, because if he doesn’t leave on the count of five, Punk’s gonna hurt em. Punk turns and counts, and Cena’s armed with a lead pipe. He hits Punk in the ribs, because he’s a coward.
Segment Rating: 4/10. I’m still cheering Punk. I don’t care.
-Punk staggers away, encountering Foley backstage. After a beat, he attacks Mick, leaving him laying with one shot. Then, for some reason, Ryback scares Punk off. And yeah.
OVERALL: A few good matches (Dolph-Kofi, six man tag) and the Foley segment made it worthwhile, but a fairly middling episode of Raw otherwise.
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for Wrestlechat.net and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.
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