-Been having internet connection problems during the heavy rains this late afternoon/evening. Just got internet back around 7 PM EST. What does it say that I’m sad that I got my connection restored, because it means I now have to review Raw? There’s little chance WWE would allow me to be their social media ambassador at this point.
-For what it’s worth, I’m all for Ric Flair being in The Hangover, Part III. Anything that keeps him away from wrestling these days. It’s funny how we lambast the old and decrepit fogies who steal the spotlight from the current crop, but those same people are clamoring for Flair to return to WWE and manage Dolph or something. Flair is Scott Hall with a more work-rate filled past, and is just as trustworthy. Keep him off my TV, please.
-Live from Chicago. BETCHA PUNK GETS BOOED TONIGHT.
Opening Segment: Sheamus
Justin Roberts saying “World Heavyweight Champion”, drawing cheers from morons thinking that it’s Punk, means maybe we have one world title too many. The World’s Worst Babyface rants for all of 20 seconds before Hometown Punk disrupts. Wow, actual crowd energy! Punk rants on Lawler while hitting the Chi-Town buttons, getting the requisite boos for mentioning Cena. Punk asks, “DID I TURN MY BACK ON YOU?” and the crowd informs him that he hasn’t. To disagree with Punk is to disrespect him, and that’s not wise you see. Sheamus disrupts Punk to a smattering of boos, and cuts a rambling babyface promo that the crowd, of course, isn’t buying. Having Sheamus cut pre-written promos to Punk’s organic ones isn’t going to help him any. Sheamus calls out Punk for a fight, Punk turns it down, and pantsuit AJ makes her way out. It’s Del Rio vs. Cena and Punk vs. Sheamus. Mixing and matching main events? That NEVER happens!
Segment Rating: 6/10. Worth it to hear the crowd lose it for Punk, but sad watching Sheamus try to match Punk’s intensity without sounding like a buffoon.
Match 1: Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton
Looks like we’re in for a showcase, as the two engaged in a fast paced exchange early, and Orton busted out a dropkick and a slingshot suplex. Orton continues the assault with some whips into the rail as we hit the first commercial. Gotta say, it seems pretty drab so far, especially considering that the Chicago crowd is known for being appreciative. We come back to Dolph taking his usual daredevil bump on a free fall, and finally the crowd comes around on the ten-count punches. Ziggler manages to regain control by sending Orton into the rail shoulder first, and Cole relays the injury history. I like Cole FAR more without Lawler there to hold him down. Just as I feel good about Cole’s impressive display, Chicago saddens me by chanting for Orton. What would CM Punk think? Orton builds the comeback after Dolph misses an elbow, but Dolph halts it with a jumping hooking clothesline for 2. Ziggler gets crotched and, as expected, gets Daddy’s superplex for 2. Snap slam hits, but Dolph throats him on the hanging DDT. Orton bounces back with the O-Zone for 2. Near falls have got the crowd into it, finally. Ziggler misses the Dolphasser, and Orton finally lands the hanging DDT. Into Viper Mode, but Ziggler evades the RKO. Into a series of roll-up reversals, and Dolph ends up on top with a handful of tights to win!
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler via modified cradle
Rating: 7/10. Started slow, ended up a damn good match. Cole on commentary without Lawler made it better, because there was a serious lack of Twitter/Tout/Social Ambassador/Be a Star crap.
-Miz is here to do commentary. Betcha the IC Title match is built off something he does at ringside!
-More Anger Management. D-Bry’s anger collage is just yes/no scribbled on a sheet of paper over and over. Kane with a binder is hilarious for some reason. Kane’s collage is blank, but he makes up for it by using his telekinesis to shoot flames out of a trash can. Bryan isn’t too happy with Kane’s one-upsmanship.
Match 2: Rey Mysterio/Sin Cara vs. Cody Rhodes/Tensai
Winners get El Dandy/Silver King on Thunder. Cara lands an early handspring as we take an almost immediate commercial. Tensai and Rhodes have control when we come back, as Miz makes me miss having Lawler on commentary. Seriously, I use Ventura as a measuring stick, and if current Lawler is a 3, Miz is treading about a 2. Cara remains in peril as Tensai applies the stereotypical nervehold. Lawler’s revealed to be out due to injury (do commentators have an injury list like the NFL?). Rhodes can’t stop Cara from tagging, and Rey dazzles, dropping a dime off the top for 2. Rey manages to drop Tensai across the rope, and hits the 619. Cara lands a missle dropkick on Tensai, but Rhodes drops Rey with a front layout suplex for 2. Rhodes gets 619ed, and Cara lands a senton bomb to win.
WINNERS: Los Luchadores via senton bomb
Rating: 6/10. Hey, that was fun! Rey and Cara should team more often. Rey/Cara vs. The Colons (if turned heel) could be the most fun tag matches in WWE in years.
-More Anger Management: a trust circle. Bryan and Kane want no part of it. They’re asked to demonstrate a trust fall. “Kane will catch you.” “I will?” Kane indeed catches him, and they’re asked to catch Harold the X Division Star, who misses the catch. This brings Bryan and Kane closer to together. “I think I understand you, Kane.” Too funny.
Sheamus comes out for the next match, so Punk comes out in street clothes, so it looks like he’s going to do something to try and turn on his hometown fans. Punk explains that Sheamus should not dare exploit his Chicago heritage, nor challenge him to anything less than a main event, so Punk takes the day off. Yup, boos. Just what the rigid, stubborn WWE wants. Sheamus, of course, become the hero of the people and says the fans want to see the match. Indeed, Punk blows off AJ, gets into a limo, and leaves into the night. Yep.
–Cheap Plug: NFC East Week 1 Preview. Cowboys/Giants matchup, Eagles defensive high points, Redskins will struggle with Drew Brees. http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/content/nfc-east-week-1-preview-history-favors-champion-giants/16544/
Match 3: Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger (non title)
Hey, the two worst World Heavyweight Champions ever (not counting Khali)! Main event anywhere in the country. Del Rio joins Cole and Miz on commentary. Sheamus landing the battering ram for 2, but Swagger comes back with a front chop block for 2. Hey, if Ziggler and McIntyre were out here, we’d have an entire Survivor Series 2009 team reunited. Not that anyone remembers, of course. Sheamus avoids the gutwrench, Swagger avoids White Noise, and Swagger gets the Swagger Bomb for 2. Sheamus manages to get the win with the Texas Cloverleaf (Dublin Cloverleaf?). Cole says he’s never used it before, but he did beat Santino with it on one of the first Raws I reviewed for CCB. Maffew of Botchamania, get on this!
WINNER: Sheamus via Dublin Cloverleaf
Rating: 3/10. Hey, Swagger got offense! That counts for something!
-ADR tries to attack, but gets White Noise for his trouble. Ricardo sacrifices himself on the Brogue Kick, however.
Match 4: Eve Torres vs. Kaitlyn
Has Eve been drinking some of Naomi’s Ass Bulge protein beverage? If so, kudos. Layla continues her burgeoning career as a commentator. Just realized the three women here are two Diva Search winners (Layla, Eve) and the Divas NXT winner (Kaitlyn). The gimmick here is that Eve is demonstrating faux sportsmanship in an attempt to manipulate the babyfaces. Well, it’s a gimmick, at least. Layla and Miz’s bantering commentary is better than anything Lawler brings to the table. Kaitlyn hurts herself, and the aggressive Eve lands a neckbreaker to win. Eve’s handshake to a dazed, confused Kaitlyn is pretty damn funny.
WINNER: Eve Torres via neckbreaker
Rating: 2/10. Uhh, it didn’t suck.
-Eve offers Layla a handshake, and she begrudgingly obliges. No swerve yet. A slow build? Holy s—t!
-Swagger walks out, saying he needs time off. He’s HAD time off, hasn’t he? AJ is upset because everyone is leaving Raw. Uh oh, I smell a crazy turn!
-Anger Management Once More: Daniel and Kane graduate, Bryan promises to give Kane a rematch, and Kane promises not to eviscerate him. Tempers flare, and they even yell at poor Harold. They drive Dr. Shelby to an angry outburst with their actions.
-Fans can vote to have Bryan fight Kane, team up, or hug it out like bitches. This is the best use of social media WWE has EVER undertaken.
-Otunga now represents ADR, who’s upset because Ricardo is pretty much dead.
Match 5: Jinder Mahal vs. Ryback
Shouldn’t they save this for WWF Spotlight, or the main event of the C-level house show in Sioux City, IA? Ryback expectedly overpowers Mahal, but Mahal does drop him with a knee for 1. Ryback gets the cunnalingua-powerbomb, followed by the meat hook clothesline. Ryback-Hammer finishes.
WINNER: Ryback via Ryback-Hammer
Rating: 2/10. Zucchini squash.
-An agitated AJ makes Cena/ADR falls count anywhere.
Match 6: Kane vs. Daniel Bryan
Hugging it out wins. This would have been a GREAT time for Jeremy Piven to return! Or he’ll show up in two weeks at Show of Champions or Hell in a Cage. After much stalling and crowd prodding, Bryan hugs Kane with tentativeness, and then he gets mad because Kane didn’t hug back. Kane finally obliges, but Bryan didn’t hug back that time. Miz explains that you have to hug each other at the same time, and Cole demands to know how he knows these rules. This is the kind of absurd that is actually hilarious if done right. Finally, the two hug to a huge ovation. NEW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS. And a handshake to boot. Then it leads to shoulder slapping, and Bryan tags Kane to hard. Things escalate, and a shoving match ensues. Then Bryan pie-faces Kane, and a fight breaks out. Ah, man, I had such hope. A chair gets involved, and Kane goes to Pillmanize his neck, but the refs intervene. This gives Bryan a chance to bash Kane with the chair, and then he runs off.
Segment Rating: 10/10. Just because I love absurdity, and that was absurdity at its finest.
Match 7: Antonio Cesario vs. Santino Marella (WWE United States Title)
An unannounced US Title match? At this rate, the fans might think the belt means nothing at all! Santino goes into the finishing sequence with Cobra at the bell, but Aksana distracts him, and he can’t hit the move. Of course not. Cesaro even STOMPS THE COBRA. Oh, it’s on now. Santino gets the Cobra back after a struggle, but the Neutralizer finishes.
WINNER: Antonio Cesaro via Neutralizer (Still WWE United States Champion)
Rating: 2/10. Better competition for Cesaro, please?
Match 8: Zack Ryder vs. Heath Slater
Neither man gets an entrance, which says it all. This started over a Twitter war, which is as macho as it gets. Miz is starting to grow on me on commentary, I admit. Ryder plays face in peril, but comes back with a knee counter and a missile dropkick. Broski Boot hits, but Slater avoids the Rough Ryder. Ryder lands a face plant, and Roughs his way to the win anyway.
WINNER: Zack Ryder via Rough Ryder
Rating: 3/10. Fun little squash. Does Ryder have a winning streak going?
-Vickie’s out to b*tch a bit about AJ. She yells at the chair to mock the whole Eastwood thing, and AJ comes out, not skipping for a change. AJ reveals the Board of Directors is unhappy with her, and she can’t put her hands on anyone anymore. She apologizes to Vickie, but Vickie pushes her luck and slaps AJ after repeated apologies. AJ is none too pleased. I’m assuming that’s what happened, since I was following standard Vickie procedure and had the TV on mute the whole time.
Main Event: John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio (Falls Count Anywhere)
Joined in progress after the break, oddly enough. Cole foreshadows that you can pin your opponent out in the parking lot, so you can guess who’ll be returning to the arena. Cena dropkicks a diving Del Rio, which looked pretty nifty. Del Rio avoids the AA and the fight spills outside, with Cena going into the stairs. Cena gets 2 off a shoulderblock off the stairs. The table comes into play, but as Cena clears it, Del Rio lands the step up enzuigiri for 2. Cena comes back with another AA attempt, but Del Rio shoves him into the post. Del Rio misses with a chair, and Cena throws him into the crowd. I’ll bet we’re headed to the parking lot! Ooops, not yet, as Cena goes to AA Del Rio off the stairs through the table, but ADR counters with a back suplex through for 2. Del Rio badmouths him over the mic, and Cena gets the STF. ADR escapes with a mic shot to the head. Del Rio ends up tumbling to the floor and wounds the knee, but the two begin their brawl to the back, with Cena getting suplexed on the ramp for 2. Del Rio prevents Cena from using a speaker as a weapon, and the fight finally leaves the arena. Cena gets the AA on the production case, but Punk comes back (SURPRISE) with a roundhouse to the head. Punk puts Del Rio on top for the win.
WINNER: Alberto Del Rio via CM Punk’s kick
Rating: 7/10. Good Attitude Era-style brawl, and a worthy main event for a change.
-Punk GTS’s Cena onto the hood of his car, and emphasizes respect. And the driver of the car? PAUL HEYMAN. Uhh….woah!
Overall: A much better show for a change, with a good main event, good opening match, and a tremendous closing angle with Paul Heyman and CM Punk somehow in cahoots.
Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be booing Punk. Sorry, Vince.
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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