-If I’m to continue reviewing WWE Monday Night Raw, I certainly hope the product improves itself by, oh, September 13. If I’m going to miss Monday Night Football live as it happens, it better be for reasons describable as “WWE got their act together and started spewing out a quality product for a change.” I won’t hold my breath, but as long as Eric is a gracious employer of mine, I can stick it out no matter how bad things get. I will note that my Eagles play two Monday night games this year, both in November, so those of you with a vested interest in my ramblings, mark down November 5 and November 26 on your calendar as “JUSTIN MAY TYPE 75% LESS WORDS, MANY OF THEM VAGUE, IN HIS RAW RANT DUE TO PAYING ATTENTION TO SOMETHING THAT HAS MERIT TO HIM.” Just a heads up.
-Speaking of football, I wrote my debut column today for Football Nation, discussing how Jared Allen and DeMarcus Ware may be a bit ignorant of NFL history, especially pertaining to a 73 year old Hall of Famer capable of knocking their teeth out today. Have a read on me. http://www.footballnation.com/content/lot-sack-jared-allen-and-demarcus-ware-should-learn-their-history/15174/ (note: anyone who comments on this article, I will find a holy figure and have them bless you, even if your religions don’t jive. It’s the least I can do)
-Live from Laredo, TX
Opening Segment: John Cena
I love the implication that Cena has to win Money in the Bank in order to prevent Big Show from crushing CM Punk. Because, you know, Punk may have been champion for eight months, but he’s still a risk to be easily flattened by a guy who dozens of different wrestlers have beaten. Makes ya glad to have invested your faith in Punk, doesn’t it? Cena discusses his mental preparation for Money in the Bank, and vows to win the title, which brings out a vociferously yesing Daniel Bryan. His elbow vitiligo is seriously bothersome. In about three weeks, he’s going to look like Bob Backlund. Bryan vows to win the championship, and then beat Cena should he try to cash in. So this brings out Punk, who shoots down Bryan’s assertions with mockery of the yeses. Cena, Lawler, and various bystanders are questioned as to whether they disagree with Bryan, and Bryan’s beside himself. Punk twists the knife on Bryan by pointing out that AJ will gladly count Bryan down at the PPV (she’s the referee, you see). As Punk turns his focus to Cena, Jericho and his saggy leather pants make their way out. The ensuing exchange leads to Jericho running through his classic babyface catchphrases to demonstrate his originality. Then Kane comes out, so I’m gonna go put some chili in the crock pot. He gets one word out before Big Show appears. Then a brawl breaks out, and Show’s the only guy left standing. His beanie never even fell off, so you KNOW he’s bad ass.
Segment Rating: 5/10. Not the best promo work, and it dragged without a real conclusion. On the other hand, I’m 16 minutes into the jaunt, so that’s positive.
Match 1: Cody Rhodes/David Otunga/Prime Time Players vs. Kofi Kingston/R-Truth/Christian/Santino Marella
ATTENTION! WE HAVE LOCATED THE MIDCARD! Bill Watts has declared Kofi/Truth/Christian/Santino to be the new WWE Eight Man Tag Team Champs. Also, he’s pushing Kofi. Christian smacks Young and gets a second rope dropkick for 2. This brings in Truth, who offends Young with his dancing, and smacks him anyway. Then Kofi gets his licks on Young. O’Neil drags Young out of the ring, and damn near injures him in the process. Kofi gets splattered outside the ring as we hit commercial. We return with Rhodes wearing down Kingston before tagging O’Neil, and we get our latest annoyance: AW is mic’ed up and shouting encouragement. Like Jimmy Hart’s megaphone, only with the subtlety of an earthquake. Marella and Otunga get hot tags and the faces dominate, prompting AW and the Prime Time Players to leave. Then Rhodes says screw it, and exits also. Otunga’s left alone, and this brings out Brodus Clay to prevent his escape. Cobra finishes. Otunga takes a beating afterward from everyone for good measure.
WINNERS: Christian/Santino/Kofi/Truth via Cobra
Rating: 4/10. Was fine until it degenerated into a comedy segment. At least it gets different people involved.
-Alberto Del Rio appeals to tonight’s GM, Teddy Long, who announces Del Rio will finally face Sheamus at Money in the Bank after a million false starts. And Alberto has a mystery opponent next.
– Katy Perry: “This is the part of me…..that’s so unique and free, and plugs Pepsi as a tool of corporate i-den-tity”
-Stephanie’s Raw moment: Vince training for the 1999 Royal Rumble, Rocky-style. “I HATE AUSTIN” is still funny, 13 years later.
Match 2: Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara
When CMLL stars collide. Del Rio attacks before the bell, and lands a swank leaping stomp off the apron. Cross armbreaker is applied outside the ring, and it’s no match.
Rating: 0/10. Dear CMLL, piss off, love Vince
-Daniel Bryan tries bringing a rose to AJ in order to curry her favor, which doesn’t work. She even chews the head of the rose off, which is oddly erotic. I’m not alone in thinking that, am I?
Via Satellite: Paul Heyman
In typical drag-out fashion, Heyman announces that Lesnar will announce his decision regarding Triple H’s challenge in three weeks at the 1000th Raw. Well, of course. Heyman claims that this is a suicide mission on Hunter’s part, that he wants Brock to end his career. Or maybe Hunter will hit 2 moves, win, announce he’s leaving for a while, then show up on Raw each week anyway.
Match 3: Sheamus/AJ vs. Dolph Ziggler/Vickie Guerrero
The “Excuse me” on the tights is so META that it dilutes the phrase. But AJ is here, so I can’t even be unhappy. Sheamus overpowers Ziggler to start, but Dolph gets a dropkick for a 1 count. Ziggler charges, and gets upended with a free fall, followed by an elbow smash for 2. Ziggler lands a spiffy leaping DDT for 2. Crowd’s quite subdued, even in their rallying chant. Ziggler tries a corner leap and he eats a forearm to the face. White Noise connects, but Ziggler tags Vickie before the Brogue Kick can connect. Sheamus Brogue Kicks Dolph off the apron anyway, and AJ knocks Vickie out with the shining wizard to win. AJ yeses it up in victory.
WINNERS: Sheamus/AJ via shining wizard
Rating: 5/10. Until this AJ buzz wears off, I’ll try to write a more positive review.
-AJ runs into Punk backstage, but Punk’s on the phone, and AJ gets demanding to know who he’s talking to. As Punk was talking to his sister, he missed AJ’s match, and AJ is upset. Uh oh, TENSIONVILLE.
Match 4: Heath Slater vs. Doink the Clown
Cole says he likes the “mean Doink” better, and for once I agree with the moron. Slater manages to land the leaping neckbreaker to win.
WINNER: Heath Slater via leaping neckbreaker
Rating: 2/10. Pointless, heatless squash. Then it leads to….
-Diamond Dallas Page makes his way out, and suckers Slater into a Diamond Cutter. Why not just give DDP a squash victory and cut out the middle-clown?
-No Holds Barred DVD promo, where they emphasize just how bad Hogan’s acting is. You know, TNA’s ratings are a third of Raw; why be petty and bitter? Oh right, Vince.
-Cheap plug: my pre-training camp NFL power rankings preview. Take some time and read, you’re not missing anything. http://camelclutchblog.com/nfl-2012-13-pre-training-camp-power-rankings/
Match 5: Big Show vs. Kane (no disqualification)
This is the first time these two men have faced off in the last six hours, a new futility record. Show dominates from the get-go, but crotches himself on the railing on a missed kick. Show bounces back by sending Kane into the steps. Exchange of goozles outside ends with Show smashing Kane into the table. That’s followed by Sweet Show Music. Hey, a sort-of high spot! Show brings a chair in, but Kane turns the tide with a DDT for 2. Kane misses the top rope clothesline, but picks up the chair, only to have Show spear the weapon into him. Chokeslam on the chair finishes.
WINNER: Big Show via chokeslam onto chair
Rating: 4/10. That wasn’t in the twenty worst Show/Kane battles ever. That’s a positive, right?
-Teddy Long makes his second appearance of the night as he bumps into a returning Eve Torres. He gives her an oversized nametag as redemption. Eve ends up bumping into a crying AJ, insults her, and AJ gives an unhinged speech on how to get attention.
-Raw moment: DX invades Norfolk, which was picked by Alberto Del Rio for some reason.
Match 6: Tensai vs. Tyson Kidd
Corner headbutt barrage opens for Tensai, but he misses a charge and Kidd wins with a rollup. Tensai beats up Sakamoto afterward.
WINNER: Tyson Kidd via roll-up
Rating: 1/10. Would have preferred a match, but Kidd won, so hey: let’s hear it for rarities.
-Jericho and Bryan get catty about each other’s attire, and Jericho accidentally gets Bryan on a yes fit. Then Jericho gets heavy on “a-GAIN”. Okay then.
-Punk asks Cena to follow his lead out there, and Cena is too quick to agree. Punk emotes suspicion.
-Josh Mathews interviews Tyson Kidd, who gets killed by Tensai. A series of matches between the two could actually be worthwhile.
Of course Punk enters before Cena, not that I expected any different. Bryan lands an arm drag on Punk to start, but Punk comes back with an arm drag flurry, some chops, and a snap suplex for 2. Cena tags in and bulldogs Bryan for 2. Jericho gets the tag and snares a headlock on Cena, but Cena ends up with the edge and tries the AA, but Jericho goes to the apron. Cena knocks Jericho off to the outside and we hit the final commercial. We return with Cena in the wrong corner, and he valiantly fights back, only to be clotheslined by Jericho for 2. Jericho even busts out the Cocky Pin for 2, before going to a chinlock. Jericho hurts his knee on a missed Lionsault, and Punk rallies Cena. Bryan gets the tag and prevents the opposite tag with an elbow drop on Cena. Bryan kicks away at Cena, and lands a corner dropkick for 2. Jericho makes his way back in and slaps away at Cena, who fires back, and the two blow a suplex spot. Eh, it happens from time to time. Jericho works a chinlock while they improvise, and Cena tries for the AA, countered into a DDT. That gets 2. Jericho tries the charging bulldog, but Cena launches him into the opposite corner. Leaping tag brings Punk in, who’s fired up on Bryan. Corner knee hits, but Bryan counters the bulldog, only to eat a snap powerslam. Punk applies the Vice, but Jericho breaks it up. Cena and Jericho brawl up the aisle and backstage. Bryan manages to take Punk out with a high kick, followed by another buzzsaw kick, but that gets 2. Punk crotches Bryan up top, and lands a top shelf superplex, for 2. Then AJ prances her way out, adding the surreal visual of Punk and Bryan fighting to her j-pop music. Both men take each other out and AJ searches under the ring, pulling out a table. See, she IS hardcore. Slowly, she walks the ring steps and climbs the post while blankly staring at the table. Bryan tries to talk her down, as does Punk. She kisses Punk, and then shoves him off the post, onto Bryan, through the table. Then she begins yesing up on the top rope as we go off the air.
Rating: 8/10. The wrestling was solid, and AJ…..well, she’s AJ. She could make Anderson Cooper change his mind.
OVERALL: Slow, mostly pedestrian show, but the AJ stuff was good. It’s about all that intrigues me, though. Better show than it has been in a while, I admit.
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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