-Thanks a lot, NFL. Because of you and your exciting week of free agent moves and trades, I totally forgot I was supposed to be pledging allegiance to CM Punk, like every other fan that pollutes the internet with the same anti-Cena rhetoric that’s diffused since 2005. Eh well.
-Live from Indianapolis, home of Peyton Manning’s freshly spackled neck.
OPENING SEGMENT: CM PUNK AND TRIPLE H
For 22 minutes, CM Punk and Triple H and had the audience hanging on every word they were saying, with Punk continuing his trend of partially breaking the fourth wall, while Triple H stood pat as the executive half-tempted to revert to his aggressive tendencies. Punk revealed he came back to continue being the ‘voice of the voiceless’, but Trips came out to insinuate that Punk can’t handle not having an audience to pontificate at. HHH admitted he brought Punk back as a business move, and Punk coaxed out of him that Hunter doesn’t really think a whole lot of him. The repartee continues, as Punk plays a hand that’s pretty damning: HHH is a bully that used to carry Shawn Michaels‘ bags, and lobbies to his own wife to hold others down. HHH warned Punk that he had to stay within certain boundaries, but Punk paid little heed.
SEGMENT RATING: 10/10. 22 minutes, never boring, and with some great riffs from Punk. What better way to start the show?
Final five comes down to Bellas, Beth Phoenix, Alicia Fox, and Eve, and there’s even a commercial. What if the battle royal ends during a Burn Notice ad? At least the smark-pervs will be happy screen-capping the butt shot of AJ rolling on the floor. In the end, Beth demonstrates the Venus-like strength and dumps out both Bellas at the same time. Then she beats up Kelly Kelly afterward to make me happy.
WINNER: Beth Phoenix
MATCH RATING: 4/10. Meh, not the worst divas battle royal ever. Plus Beth won, so yeah. I missed that Double Dragon/I’m Your Venus mash-up theme anyway.
MATCH 2: REY MYSTERIO/JOHN MORRISON VS. R-TRUTH/THE MIZ
Things that drive smarks insane: all four of these men have lost in World Title matches to John Cena this year. Like a typical tag team match on WWE Raw, a killer pace is cut early, especially with Rey and Morrison being unconventional with creative spotwork. Michael Cole, as much as I enjoy the heeldom, was a smidge over the top with his promoting Miz’s public appearances. After a frenetic home stretch, R-Truth downs Morrison with the Moment of Truth with Miz’s assistance.
WINNERS: The Miz and R-Truth via Moment of Truth
MATCH RATING: 8/10. If you like wrestling, this is the kind of match for ya. Come to think of it, Raw’s been giving us a lot of good “wrestling” lately. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.
IN RING SEGMENT: DOLPH ZIGGLER AND ALEX RILEY
Jerry Lawler praises Vickie Guerrero‘s looks, which is a nice turnaround. I did laugh when Ziggler said that nobody has his “charisma”, all with a monotone. Riley interrupts and gives some basic talk about Ziggler hiding behind Vickie Guerrero, and then channels the spirit of Randy Savage to tell him “Be a Man”. Ziggler, of course, runs off. Well, at least we got to hear two Downstait songs in one segment.
SEGMENT RATING: 6/10. Basic, and I hope it leads to a Summerslam match.
MATCH 3: NON TITLE MATCH: MICHAEL MCGILLICUTTY/DAVID OTUNGA VS. SANTINO MARELLA/ZACK RYDER
If I was 8, I’d totally buy that Santino “Cobra” arm extension. Crowd totally bought the Ryder hot tag after a very, VERY short heat segment, and the “WOO WOO WOO” was cheered en masse. Ryder gets jobbed out quick to a modified Demolition Decapitation. Hey, at least Ryder’s on Raw, right?
WINNERS: The Former Nexus via Devoid-of-heat Decaptiation
MATCH RATING: 3/10. Barely a match.
MATCH 4: ALBERTO DEL RIO VS. EVAN BOURNE
I’m always delighted to see Ricardo Rodriguez, and I have no idea why. Del Rio landed a running short kick early to Bourne’s temple that’ll surely get Chris Nowinski’s ire. Del Rio then adds some short headbutts, reaffirming my previous point. Del Rio hooks the cross armbreaker and Bourne actually gets to hang on before tapping.
WINNER: Alberto Del Rio via Cross Armbar
MATCH RATING: 5/10. Pretty damn good for as short as it was.
After the match, ADR reapplies the hold, and Bourne, as the resident “midcard seller” grins and bears it. Kofi Kingston arrives to run Del Rio off, however. Hopefully, that’s another Summerslam match.
Ahh, but Johnny Laryngitis is here to tell Hunter to strip Cena of the gold. Hey, Johnny’s first good decision in ten years. Cena comes out to denounce Ace, and does a damn fine impression of him kissing ass . Cena even busts out the “skateboard” remark, which the audience doesn’t get, but screw em, I do! Cena threatens violence on Ace, which nearly turns him completely face. Hunter, however, will not strip Cena of the belt. This prompts Punk to make his way to the ring, and before he and Cena can really get into it, Hunter makes the Undisputed Title match for Summerslam. And that’s that for Hunter. Punk and Cena have a staredown and silent acknowledgements to end the show, complete with alternating themes.
SEGMENT RATING: 6/10. Kinda weak for a closing segment, but effective for what it had to do.
OVERALL: Kind of a step down from previous shows, despite the hot opening segment, and the tremendous tag team match in the middle. Other than that, it was mostly build for Summerslam 2011, which is fine. At least there was nothing perversely offensive or maudlin on the show, so we’ll count that as a positive.
Unless you’re a Zack Ryder fan, in which case, rough night, huh?
Full WWE RAW July 25, 2011 results…
Alberto Del Rio defeated Evan Bourne
Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga defeated Zack Ryder and Santino in a non-title match
The Miz and R-Truth defeated Rey Mysterio and John Morrison
Beth Phoenix won a WWE Divas Battle Royal to meet Kelly Kelly at SummerSlam 2011
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 WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.