-So my big question from last week’s Raw: why, exactly, is AJ the GM? I mean, from a story standpoint, she’s proven to be insane, easily conflicted, unable to control her amorous emotions, and spiteful. So Vince McMahon and the WWE Board of Directors decided, “Hey, she could be a detriment to the integrity of the Superstars and our brand by making ill-advised decisions and rulings. LET’S PUT HER IN CHARGE!” I mean, yeah, I get that you want AJ on camera because she’s beautiful, enthusiastic, and looks like she wants to be there, but as the GM? The whole story with her and Daniel Bryan is about as logical as a Chili stand in the Sahara, and as rushed as an ambulance ride, and it gets even more convoluted with the GM assignment. Eh well, I suppose if I wanted reasoning, I’d get one of those logic puzzle books.
-WWE Monday Night RAW is live from Cincinnati, where Twitter is outlawed by coaches who fear that anything less than 9-7 may lead them to the gallows.
-Cole and Lawler show footage of the tron fire as fans still file in; Raw 1000 video kills a little time, though they may have intended to show it from the start.
Opening Segment: CM Punk
Still a sizable initial pop for Punk, as I figured there would be. Boos kick in after the song ends. Maybe they just like Living Colour? Punk rants about WrestleMania moments, and last week’s Raw, where he had a moment bigger than many WrestleMania moments. Punk turns his disdain to Lawler, for claiming that he had “turned on the WWE Universe” at the end of Raw 1000. Punk takes the CM Sit on the announce table, facing Lawler, and takes him to task for his poor word choice. “Last time I checked, The Rock is not the WWE Universe.” Lotta claps for that. Punk doesn’t like Rock ignoring him for the most part last week, and Punk chose to lay him out at the end of the night, when he tried making the show all about him. Where were these promos last year when Punk feuded with Triple H? And Rock is now silent, as opposed to his duel with Cena. Punk says the show is supposed to end with the focus on the WWE Champion. The hell you say. Big Show makes his way out, and Punk accuses him of trying to steal his spotlight as well. Show says the focus WAS on him, because he completely screwed Cena over last week, costing him his Money in the Bank privilege. “I knocked out John Cena, and you STILL couldn’t beat him.” Show vows to be the next WWE Champion, and Punk laughs it off, since Show can’t win anything anymore. Cena hits the ring, not effing around, and he beelines toward Show, who bails. This brings AJ out, and she actually gets a last name! AJ Lee, illogical as this choice is, looks great in her business suit. We get Show vs. Cena tonight, winner gets Punk at Summerslam. Punk seems nonplussed.
Segment Rating: 6/10. Punk’s rant on Lawler was glorious. Wish it had gone a bit further.
-Things that are better than Tout: a dog giving birth to six puppies, each with birth defects.
-Daniel Bryan goes to confront AJ, but thinks better of it.
Match 1: Santino Marella vs. Alberto Del Rio (Non Title Match)
WWE loves nostalgia so much; just do Dibiase’s theme in Spanish for Del Rio. “DI-NER-O, DI-NER-O, DI-NER-O, DI-NER-OOOOOO” Del Rio mauls Marella, and hits a snap suplex before hitting his now trademark LEAPING STOMP. He’s added some shades of aggression his image, I’ll say that. Del Rio gets backdropped to the apron and dropkicked off by Marella as we go to commercial. We return with ADR working the arm as Cole whores Tout like dinner’s at stake. Santino lands a modified teardrop suplex to end the peril, but Del Rio kicks him before the split/hip toss. Santino regains the edge, and out comes Cobra, but Del Rio strikes, sends him into the post. After the single-arm knee spike, the Cross Armbreaker is hooked, and submission is inevitable.
WINNER: Alberto Del Rio via Cross Armbreaker
Rating: 6/10. Enjoyable TV match, with Del Rio honing the aggressive side of his character. At least they had a longer match this time.
-ADR: “I destroyed the US Champion like nothing!” So does everyone else; your point? Del Rio vows not to compete, unless it’s a World Title match.
-Bryan tries to work up the courage to speak to AJ, but still nothing.
-Sweet move coming out of commercial to the Funka-Dactyls doing the moon landing. Vickie screeches, and the idiot fans boo, thus keeping her on TV. She tries to outdance them, to alleged comic effect, and this brings out….Damien Sandow! Sandow is aghast at the hooligans known as DX scuffing him up in ruffian warfare half a fortnight hence. Sandow then jumps Clay, just because, and then SNAPS HIS BLING. A befouling of a bejeweled novelty, that is cause for fisticuffs, children.
-Bryan finally confronts AJ, who cuts off his anger tirade. She puts him against Sheamus tonight, non title.
Match 2: Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (Non Title Match/Street Fight)
Bryan demands the fans stopping chanting YES at him, which has the effect you’d think. Bryan takes his anger out with a series of knees and kicks, but Sheamus mauls him, lands a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 2. Bryan drops Sheamus across the middle buckle and kicks him in the face before bowing the arm. Sheamus comes back and drops a series of knees for 2, and D-Bry bails. Sheamus follows and continues the assault, managing to backdrop Bryan on the ramp. The fight makes its way to the stage, where Bryan buckles Sheamus’ leg, and YES kicks off onto the concrete. Sheamus may have hurt his ankle, and Bryan comes off with the knee-butt as we go to break. Back, and Bryan works the arm in the ring. Sheamus turns the tide by catching Bryan off the apron and landing a fallaway slam into the rail. Yeouch. Irish Red lands the Dublin Clubs over the railing, and suplexes Bryan on the floor. Back inside, where Sheamus brings a chair and a kendo stick, but Bryan dumps both weapons, so Sheamus clotheslines him out. Bryan responds with a stick shot to the head, followed by shots to the arms and shoulders. Bryan brings the chair back in and does the Raven corner-wedge. Sheamus prevents a cane shot, and goes to town on Bryan with it. One shot misses and Sheamus is dropkicked head first into the chair for 2. Sheamus takes Bryan to the floor and slams Bryan with the chair before separating the ring steps. In the ensuing scuffle, Sheamus hits the ring post hard, and Bryan slides the bottom stair piece into the ring. Sheamus eats the railing for his troubles, and Bryan tries to cane him inside, but a miss perilizes him, as Sheamus tries for White Noise on the steps. Bryan avoids, but can’t avoid the Brogue Kick, knocking D-Bry onto the stairs for the loss.
WINNER: Sheamus via Brogue Kick
Rating: 8/10. Very enjoyable match, truly PPV quality. But I’m sure they’ll beat the interactive feature into the ground before long.
-We come back, and Bryan lays on the canvas refusing to leave, claiming a neck injury. Cole cares so much about Bryan, that he recaps the Punk/Lawler angle from earlier.
-Cheap Plug: the 100 greatest quarterbacks of the modern NFL era. Took me 10 days to compile. Enjoy http://cynicfootball.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-100-greatest-nfl-quarterbacks-1970.html
-Bryan remains unwilling to leave as Ghana Get Got makes their way out, with R-Truth in a suit. Kofi and Truth tries to convince Bryan to leave, and Bryan rants in a crazed manner about Little Jimmy, and then PUNTS LITTLE JIMMY. Truth freaks out. This is fabulous for the wrong reasons. The white-coats come out, and AJ instructs them to get Bryan, calling him a “little guy.” Having a hot chick mistreat and belittle a smark hero is the best trolling WWE has EVER done.
-Things better than Tout: gargling Khloe Kardashian’s bush shavings with her sweat.
Match 3: Kofi Kingston vs. Titus O’Neil
O’Neil nearly blows a backbreaker as AW makes a Kobe Bryant rape joke. Really. Kofi counters a swinging fallaway into a DDT, and the controlled frenzy begins. Boom Drop lands, and a series of distractions ensue, leading to AW making a Yo Mama joke and throwing a shoe. Really. Titus finishes after the diversion.
WINNER: Titus O’Neil via Clash of the Titus
Rating: 3/10. AW’s gimmick is a man frozen in 2003, and thawed out in 2012. Bring on the Steve Bartman jokes!
-Punk and Cena have a heart to heart, and Punk even points out that he took Rock out when Cena couldn’t. TENSION.
Match 4: Heath Slater vs. Randy Orton
WWE is the only organization on earth that shows reverent crowd reactions for a known drug abuser upon his return from exile. Slater gets the upper hand at the start, but gets cocky and eats a clothesline barrage. Snap slam connects, as does the hanging DDT. The evitable ensues.
WINNER: Randy Orton via RKO
Rating: 2/10. I wonder how many fails Orton will have from here-on out that we never hear about?
-Bryan has to answer questions from a doctor, and the gag is that he goes on a yes binge, which labels him ment-a-lee de-raaaaaaaanged (SAN-A-TARIUM!!!!!!!!)
Match 5: Vitamin C vs. Show-Offsome
Ziggler begins with a flashy takedown on Christian, so Christian with a smack and a flapjack for 2. Miz gets the tag, and he and Jericho have an exchange, leading to some quick pin attempts from Y2J. Miz drops Jericho in the corner on a charge, and Dolph gets the tag, but Jericho wins the exchange by avoiding getting tossed to the floor, hitting a flying axe handle. Jericho tosses both foes, and Christian dives onto them as we hit commercial. Miz has Jericho in a chinlock as we come back, but Jericho back suplexes to escape, and Christian gets the warm tag. Slingshot punch floors Dolph, as does the diving back elbow, and Christian lands a twisting sunset for 2. Miz soon comes in and gets a low running kick for 2. Miz works a chinlock on Christian as the crowd comes to life. Christian soon escapes and shoots Miz to the floor, but Miz runs around and knocks Jericho off the apron to prevent a tag. Tag made to Dolph, who gets the Show Off Elbow for 2. Headstand chinlock from Ziggler, and Dolph takes time to taunt Jericho. Ziggler whiffs on a low fameasser, and tries a higher one, only to get powerbombed. Double tags are made, and Jericho spring dropkicks Dolph off the apron. Bulldog on Miz leads to the Lionsault, which Dolph breaks up on 2. Christian spears Dolph, Miz sends Christian into the buckle, and Jericho tries the Walls, only to be flung off. Miz goes for the Finale, but Christian thumbs Miz and Jericho lands the Codebreaker to win.
WINNERS: Vitamin C via Codebreaker
Rating: 7/10. Fun, long match that only suffered from a quiet crowd early on. The longer start-of-the-hour matches are making up for the social media bore that Raw is becoming.
-Ziggler hits Jericho with the briefcase afterward to get his heat back.
-Bryan takes a Rorschach test, and fails when he sees a goatface. Yeah.
-Things better than Tout: adding a laughtrack to the movie “My Life”
Match 6: Tensai vs. Tyson Kidd
Kidd works quick, but Tensai takes him down with power. Those chanting Albert: THAT’S THE POINT OF THE GIMMICK. Slingshot into the ropes and a series of elbows connect. Tensai applies a nervehold, as Kidd is busted open. Kidd escapes, gets a high roundhouse, and rolls him up like the last time for 2. Overcast neckbreaker gets 2. Tensai comes back with a flat-bump Baldo Bomb, and a running senton to win. Tensai kills him afterward, even landing the old Train Wreck backbreaker, before getting the decision reversed. Then Tensai kills Sakamoto.
WINNER: Tyson Kidd via reverse decision
Rating: 4/10. Fun short match. Would like to see a 10-15 minute war on Smackdown between them.
Main Event: John Cena vs. Big Show (#1 Contender’s Match)
CM Punk is here to provide unbiased commentary, and to keep the snore crew in check. Cena slugs away, but Show drops him with a gut shot. Show lands a headbutt and follows with a corner avalanche. Methodically, Show wears him down with strikes, probably because the overrun is eons away. Cole brings up Punk’s lengthy reign to date, reinforcing Punk’s point. Lawler makes a dumb point about people might wanna know why Punk’s even out there, and it’s to scout his opponent! Duh! Cena works a neck crank after Show misses the shhh chop, but Shows rams Cena into the post to escape. Show catches a Cena leap, but Cena twists around back into the crank. Cena works it while Lawler claims Punk can’t electrify a crowd using a lame crack, and Punk berates him for it. Cena wears Show to the mat, and covers for 2, but Show presses him to the floor as we go to commercial. Show has control when we come back, but Cena tries the comeback, including a shoulder block which bounces off Show. Show lands another avalanche, and then stops to shout taunts at Punk. Cena blocks a corner charge, and gets a face plant bulldog off the second rope. Cena mounts the comeback with right hands, but flies into a bear hug. Cena breaks free and tries a slam, but Show falls on top for 2. Lawler: “Cena almost did the impossible!” Yeah, he almost slammed Show for the 400th time in his career. Show tries for the chokeslam, but Cena DDTs him to counter. Show comes back by catching Cena with a side suplex, but misses the pump splash. Cena drops him with a shoulder block and back suplex. Knuckles are shuffled, but Show lands the chokeslam for 2. Show knocks a groggy Cena around, but Cena sends him into the post. Show responds by throwing Cena over the table into Punk. Cena barely beats the count back in. Show calls for the WMD, but misses and Cena lifts him for the AA, but Punk runs in and hits Show, knocking both men down. Buzzsaw kick knocks Show out, and Punk fetches the pipe bomb. Punk declares nobody the winner, and walks out with two bodies in his wake. AJ walks past him, and cheerfully declares both men winners. Of course.
WINNER: No contest (Cena and Show both get the shot)
Rating: 5/10. Slow, but serviceable. Amazing that for a three hour show, they had to drag it out the way they did.
OVERALL: Sheamus/Bryan and the tag team match were both really good, as was Punk’s opening promo. The rest was either average or unnecessary, as these three hour shows are just getting tedious. Good as those first few items were, are they worth sitting through three hours for? I don’t know.
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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