WWE Monday Night RAW from Charleston, SC || TV Review
Daniel Bryan v. Randy Orton
Bryan starts the show with a promo, saying that everybody has been calling him a "little man" or the weak link for years, but that just isn't the case. He beat Orton by countout on SmackDown, but that's not enough for him. He will pin Orton or make him submit tonight. Orton comes out and tells him to "Shut up and fight", and it's on! Bryan tosses him out of the ring and then kicks him in the corner upon Orton's return. Orton returns the favor and tosses him out and then throws him over the announce table. They brawl, but Bryan knocks down Charles Robinson, so the match gets thrown out. A few refs come down and separate them as we go to break.
Daniel Bryan interrupts Brickie backstage, upset that his match was ruled a double DQ. He DEMANDS that they retart the match tonight, but Maddox turns him down. Bryan wants either a match with Orton or Maddox, so Vickie gives him the match with Orton. Vince comes out of nowhere and calls Bryan an embarrassment, but he's noncommital as to whether or not he believes it. Okay then.
Team Rhodes Scholars v. Sheamus & Christian
Cody grabs a headlock on Christian and knocks him down with a shoulder. Christian retaliates with a pair of his own and springboards off the middle rope with a sunset flip for 2. They go outside and Sandow distracts Christian, allowing Rhodes to take control. Sandow tags in and stomps away and goes after Christian's shoulder. He gets two off that and a Russian legsweep leads to the ELBOW OF DISDAIN~! for another two. Rhodes in with a short-arm clothesline for 2 and a stalling front suplex (nice!) gets another nearfall. He stops to argue with the ref and almost gets hit with the Killswitch. Christian counters the Alabama Slam an it's a double knockdown. Hot tag Sheamus and Sandow is in too! He destroys Sandow in the ropes with the forearms, and moments later Cody tags in and takes the Brogue Kick. There was some heel miscommunication with the tag that led to the finish. I wonder if this time the breakup will stick. Fine match. Sheamus/Christian def. Rhodes/Sandow, Brogue Kick - 5 min, *1/2
Vickie Guerrero approaches CM Punk while he's texting, and he asks for Heyman and Lesnar, but Vickie has no answers. Instead, she puts him in a match, but he finishes his text, ignores her and tells her to let him know when they show up. Seems upset.
Kaitlyn v. Aksana
This comes from a catfight they had on SmackDown. Before much can happen, Kaitlyn's own music plays and AJ walks out dresses as Kaitlyn. Aksana goes for the rollup to steal the pin, but it doesn't work and Kaitlyn pins her with the Spear. Huh. Look at that, not booking someone to be a complete moron. "I never dreamed I'd find a man with a voice as deep as mine." AHAHAHAH that was awesome. AJ makes fun of her and calls her manish, and the impression is hilarious. Nothing match, but that wasn't important. Awesome, awesome segment. There's still some hope! Kaitlyn def. Aksana, spear - 2 min, NR
Video package of Mark Henry's amazing ruse from last week. Just awesome stuff there.
Non-title: Alberto Del Rio v. Chris Jericho
Ziggler gets his rematch in Philly at MITB. This match here is a rematch from SmackDown, where Ziggler interfered and got Jericho DQed. Del Rio knocks him down with a shoulderblock so Jericho comes back with a dropkick and chops away in the corner. Kick to the back and a vertical suplex get 2. Del Rio reverses Jericho in the corner and pounds away, then follows with the jumping enzugiri to the arm. Jericho blocks a charge, though, and gets a near fall from a missile dropkick. ADR gets dumped over the top but ducks the springboard dropkick and Jericho splats on the outside. He gets tossed into the barricade as we go to break. ADR is still in control as we return, but Jericho gets a small package for 2. He buries a knee to the gut and then follows with a step-up enzugiri for 2 on the champion. He gets some shoulderblocks and goes up top, but Del Rio catches him with a big kick and knocks Jericho outside. ADR tries to get the countout win, but Jericho is back in at 9. Snap suplex gets two inside for ADR. They trade chops and Jericho gets the better of it, but Del Rio comes back quickly and gets a double stomp and then just stomps on Y2J's head for 2. Kick to the back gets us a chinlock but Jericho still can't make the big comeback. Del Rio stops that with some vicious looking headbutts and a hard Irish whip into the corner. ADR sets Y2J up top for the reverse superplex, but Jericho fights him off and follows down with a crossbody for a close near fall. Jericho finally makes his comeback and a northern lights suplex gets 2. ADR misses a charge and posts himself in the corner, but Jericho can't get the Codebreaker. He goes for the Walls instead, but Del Rio powers out and quickly nails him with the low superkick, but it only gets 2! Awesome sequence. Jericho blocks the cross armbreaker and gets the bulldog, but the Lionsault meets knees. Cross armbreaker and Jericho gets to the ropes and uses them to reverse it into the Walls! That was awesome! Ricardo has seen enough and stops that with a shot to the back with the spitbucket. Shitty finish (Jericho should have tapped) but otherwise awesome match. Ziggler and Jericho clear the ring after the match much to the crowd's delight, but they don't quite know how to react to him taking Jericho out with the Zig Zag as a receipt for SmackDown. Fantastic to see Ziggler standing tall for once. Jericho def. Del Rio, DQ - 14 min, ***1/2
Triple H disagrees with Vince that Daniel Bryan is an embarrassment. He wants the fans to vote ON THE APP for the stipulation for Bryan/Orton.
Jerry Lawler is in the ring with Vickie and Brad. The new WWE game cover will be designed by the fans. Yay. It's only going to be the back cover or something, though. They show a bunch of fake covers and then it's revealed that The Rock is the real coverboy. That's relevant. Crowd cheers, probably because they hope he's going to come out. Silly South Carolina. Cole says that Rock deserves the cover of the game because his movies are making money. Oh, I feel better then.
Ryback v. The Great Khali
Khali beats him up in the corner for a minute and then stops 2 different comeback attempts. Ryback runs into an unbelievably awesome clothesline and then unleashes some big elbows in the corner, actually showing some fire. What got into him? Moments later it's over, though, as Ryback ends it with Shellshocked. I'm giving it a star for Khali! Ryback def. Khali, Shellshocked - 2 min, *
John Cena joins us and puts over the belt for a while. He says that Mark Henry made a mockery of everybody who has ever held the belt, even after saying that people have tried to buy and steal it. Why is lying worse than those things? Cena introduces himself, and they cut to a sign in the crowd that says "CENA HAS CLAP". They quickly realize the error and the camera juts off to the side before cutting away. Ha! Good promo, but it was a straight up RAH RAH face promo that didn't really work with the crowd 65% against him.
Triple Threat Tag, #1 Contendership: Tons o' Funk v. 3MB v. The Usos
Some dude who won a contest is out with ToF, and they almost cut off the Funkadactyls' ass-to-ass entrance to show his stupid ass getting into the ring. I was getting ready to call Stamford and demand a refund. So we've got jobbers fighting for a shot at the titles! It would probably be way smarter to build them up amongst each other for a few months first before doing this, since it's just going to trap them in the same cycle they always end up in. One new team gets over for a little while and nothing good comes in the long run. Uso and Jinder start, and the Usos dominate him. Tensai comes in and runs over the Uso and lays him out with the Baldo Bomb, but the other brother breaks up the pin. It breaks down and Brodus tosses both of 3MB and follows out with an awkward splash on all 3 off the apron. Tensai almost gets the pin inside with the back senton, but moments later the Usos get some superkicks and a splash to become #1 contenders. Crowd politely applauds their win and The Shield show up in the crowd to say hello. Usos def. ToF & 3MB, top rope splash - 4 min, *
Paul Heyman has answers for CM Punk, but he wants to do it in the ring, so he ignored Punk's calls, texts and e-mails all week. Punk is here and this show is really dragging, so hopefully this will perk it up a bit. Punk relates the story of Heyman refusing to fire him when he was down in OVW and nobody in charge of WWE wanted Punk there. We all know the story. Punk tells Heyman that he needs to tell Brock Lesnar that Punk is coming for him. He's not afraid of him. He's bigger and stronger, but he's not better than Punk. Punk wants the truth from Heyman... did he send Brock after Punk or not? Heyman beats around the bush and rambles on about not putting Punk and Brock together as a team because there was professional jealousy between them. He literally spends 5 minutes not answering Punk's question and says that he loves Punk, then questions why Punk would even ask him such a question, and says that now all of the fans are doing to Punk what Vince did to Heyman. They're pressuring Punk to get rid of Paul E. What a slimy asshole. Punk... apologizes for doubting Heyman. Huh. I know they're stretching this out to SummerSlam, but why not just have Punk go on a rampage starting now and build it to a fever pitch? Still a really, really good segment, with Heyman at his doubletalking best.
CM Punk v. Darren Young
"Darren" is such a non-intimidating name. Punk grabs a chinlock and throws a bunch of forearms. He gets a vertical suplex for one and then grounds him in the corner with kicks. There is no reason Punk is out here wrestling right now if something with Heyman or Lesnar isn't about to happen. Crowd is napping. They commentators talk about JBL having a shitty personality instead of calling the match. This is compelling TV, as Darren Young, for some reason, has been in control of Punk for over 2 minutes. Punk comes back but misses a charge in the corner. Seems that the idea is that Punk is out of sorts due to recent events, and that's just stupid. Punk gets a back suplex and finally comes back, getting the high knee in the corner. Short-arm clothesline gets 2. Young cuts him off on the top rope, but Punk comes back with the springboard clothesline for 2. This is death. Young blocks the GTS and hits the huge gutbuster and actually almost pins Punk. Punk kicks him in the head and Young immediately taps to the Vise. Titus and Young beat up Punk after the match, so Curtis Axel comes down to make the save. This crowd response is the complete antithesis of their response to Jericho and Ziggler clearing house on Del Rio and Ricardo earlier. The idea is there, but the execution is shitty. Punk def. Young, Anaconda Vise - 7 min, 1/2*
Stephanie McMahon tells Vickie Guerrero that she was supposed to announce the particpants of the WWE Title MITB ladder match. Vickie apologizes, but Steph's just going to do it herself. We go to commercial and she comes out to make the announcement. Punk, Bryan, Sheamus, Orton, Christian, Kane and RVD. It's a fine lineup, but why the heck is Punk in there? Ryback is backstage now with Brickie, and he wants a rematch with Cena at MITB. Jericho interrupts and wants into MITB, so neither man get what they want. They'll go one-on-one at Money in the Bank. I see no reason why that one won't be awesome.
Punk and Heyman are backstage now as this show JUST DRAAAAAAGGGGSSSS. Heyman offers Punk & Axel v. Young and O'Neil, but Punk turns him down.
Mark Henry is here and he's all smiles and we continue to not have wrestling. Jericho v. Del Rio was about 4 hours ago. Mark gloats about how awesome he was last week. Crowd gives him the full-on "WHAT?" treatment, and they really should have just well enough alone with the lukewarm Cena promo and just given Orton and Bryan ten more minutes.
Street Fight: Daniel Bryan v. Randy Orton
They rush each other at the bell and trade shots. Bryan kicks Orton down in the corner, Orton does the same and they spill outside. Orton controls and tosses Bryan back in, but he gets met with a baseball slide before he can get back inside. Bryan tries to follow back out with a suicide dive, but Orton's waiting with a chair and Bryan dives right into it! Ouch. That sends us to commercial. Back live with Orton going for plunder underneath the ring. During the break, Bryan took a big back body drop onto the ramp. Orton brings a table into the ring but can't use it, as Bryan meets him with kicks. Orton cuts that off and hangs Bryan stomach-first over the top rope and sets the table up in the corner. He can't put Bryan through, and DB comes back with the backflip out of the corner and the running dropkick. He boots Orton down and goes for the second dropkick, but Orton tosses a chair in his face. That gets a 2 count. Orton tries to suplex Bryan out of the ring and through a table that was set up on the outside, but Bryan blocks. He tries to dropkick Orton off the apron, but two attempts don't knock him down, so he feigns a third attempt and slides through the legs, opting to powerbomb Orton off the apron through the table instead. Sweet. Orton kicks out at 2 back inside, though. Bryan means business now, and he grabs the Kendo stick and absolutely wears Orton out, alternating between stick shots and kicks. Orton catches him going for the headkick though, and t-bones him through the table in the corner (kinda)! That gets 2, and this match is almost saving this show. They trade punches from their knees and then trade headbutts. Back-and-forth we go, but just as Bryan gets the advantage, Orton takes him down with a standing dropkick. Nice! Orton sets Bryan up on top, but DB fights him off and follows down, but Orton catches him and powerbombs him out of mid air! That gets a near fall and Orton mounts Bryan and rains down punches, so Bryan counters into the NO Lock! Orton reaches the Kendo stick, though, and uses it to get out. He adds a few extra shots for good measure. He gets up and nonchalantly hits him a bunch more times, which is awesome and hilarious in a good way. Hangman's DDT looks to set up the RKO, but Bryan counters with a backslide! That gets 2 and now he has the Kendo stick! He uses it and then drags Orton into the NO Lock! Orton gets to the stick again, but he doesn't have the strength to fight Bryan off this time! Bryan grabs the stick and uses it to crossface Orton! Randy taps! Bryan wins! Orton mans up and shakes Bryan's hand afterward, letting Bryan celebrate in the ring. Bryan def. Orton, NO Lock - 15 min, ***3/4
Overall RAW Thoughts
Good lord did this show ever last forever. It felt like 2 years went by between the opening with Orton v. Bryan and the closing between the two men. Thankfully the show ended incredibly strong with an absolutely awesome match and the right outcome, even as far as having Bryan close the show celebrating. That was pretty sweet. Outside of the really good Jericho/Del Rio match, though, this show was full of a bunch of filler. Yeah, they set up a bunch of stuff for the PPV, which is good, but golly did it ever just go on and on. The first hour was good and the show completely fell apart until the main event. Heyman's rambling promo was good stuff, but overall the Punk/Heyman stuff fell flat and was more confusing than interesting. I hope they follow up next week with a strong show, because this wasn't one. The streak of good shows ends at 3, and we're back to 3 hours with a couple of strong matches and then a bunch of bland whatever stuff. It really felt like they booked the Orton v. Bryan stuff and were so proud of it that they forgot they had another 2 and a half hours to fill.
- Shawn Michaels commented on the state of tag team wrestling last week, essentially nailing it by saying that the business is individual-oriented, and it's not just the "office" who wants that, but it seems that the wrestlers themselves are preoccupied and predisposed to want to get over as singles stars that it may not even be feasible for them to get over as a tag team because their hearts aren't into it. Granted I'm taking liberties and adding my take on the matter to what Shawn said, but that certainly seems to be the case. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to be a singles star, but it is possible that some guys who have that mindset may fear being typecast (for lack of a better word) as tag guys for their entire careers, so they could be reluctant to do everything they can to make a tag team work. I love that this comment from Shawn came out just as we're seeing reports that WWE is again looking to start pushing the tag division, only to see their apparent "refocused" team, the Uso brothers, left off RAW two weeks in a row. So what do you think... does the WWE tag division have a shot at any sort of resurgence in 2013?
- Sting made an interesting comment in an interview last week, saying "There are things I'd like to see happen in pro wrestling and I may try to make it materialize." That's a loaded fuckin' comment, dude. LOADED. He stated that he has no interest in sitting in on creative meetings and "babysitting" personalities, and I commend that, but he has an idea about what he wants to happen in wrestling and is considering making it happen? I doubt he would start his own promotion, but he does, certainly, have enough pull with Dixie Carter that if there's something specific that he wants to see, he can make it happen in TNA. What the heck could it be, though?
- WWE is concerned over Fandango's concussion, as this is not his first one. He had at least one prior to his main roster debut, which worries them, I guess, that he could be prone to them. Not quite sure what the worry is, honestly, as to whether it's concern for his health or his ability to work for a prolonged period of time without getting hurt. It's a shame, really, because I was really looking forward to seeing where they were going with him. I do wonder what the plan was for Curtis Axel if he didn't get hurt, though.
- Colt Cabana apparently got a pair of tryouts earlier this year for a spot as a color commentator, which he did for a time when he was signed to a deal and working for FCW. Why not as a wrestler? I wonder if Colt would be more open to the freedom that a commentary job would have over a wrestling job, as the contracts are different, and may leave him with the ability to continue doing a lot of his comedy stuff and possibly even wrestle on the side. Interesting development.
- Speaking of commentators, Matt Striker got the boot last week, as his contract expired and WWE decided against renewing it. Striker's time in WWE was an up-and-down (literally up and then down) ride as far as the vocal majority on the internet was concerned. When he first got the shot to do commentary, he was almost universally loved for his ability to talk about the wrestling in the ring while adding in quips and comments that referenced independent wrestling and old school stuff as well. He was a very refreshing shot in the arm, as he was enthusiastic and, get this... A WRESTLING FAN, and it showed through in his work. At some point, however, it seems like he got disenfranchised (or maybe just decided to get himself over, which failed) and started slipping into reliance on silly catchphrases and monikers he would use when referring to different wrestlers, and he went way overboard on insider terms and comments that, when used sparingly and cleverly earlier in his time as a commentator were praised and appreciated, became loathesome and irritating. I really don't know what happened and hopefully (certainly) he will make the rounds doing interviews that will shed some light on what happened to what started off looking like a very promising career for a very enthusiastic and talented guy.
- Mike Bennett hasn't yet been given a start date for his developmental career, nor, it seems, has be undergone any of the mandated WWE medical testing. He was told that he can continue working independent dates, including ROH TV and iPPV, for the known future. Dude improves in the ring every time out there and has an undeniable presence and charisma about him. He has always looked like he was destined to hit a WWE ring sooner rather than later. The question is, at this time, does WWE agree? What's the hold up? That new developmental facility is opening in just a couple of weeks, and everybody scheduled to be there has already been told to relocate to the area and be down in Florida in the first week of July. What about Bennett?
- Chris Jericho's current run with WWE may be ending shortly, followed by a return next year for the Royal Rumble leading up to an angle going toward WrestleMania 30. Looks like he's probably going to make it through SummerSlam before hanging the boots up and touring with Fozzy for the rest of the year.
- Rey Mysterio underwent another surgical procedure last week. At this point do we honestly expect him to come back? If so, for how long? Maybe for one more feud before (finally) hanging it up and protecting himself so he can continue to use his legs for the rest of his life? I wouldn't mind a surprise return at the Royal Rumble followed up by a feud and a match with some young guy (SAMI ZAYN?) at WrestleMania before being done for good. For his own wellbeing, Rey needs to be done. Common sense puts him out immediately, never returning. Smart money puts him back in the ring for at least one more run.
- The back injury suffered by Richie Steamboat is now said to not be career threatening, which was originally a possible prognosis. He should be able to make a full recovery and get back to wrestling. There is no reported timetable.
- Vince apparently was really, really, really, really hoping that the AJ v. Kaitlyn match at Payback would be better than the Gail Kim v. Taryn Terrell match at Slammiversary. I wonder if Vince even saw the TNA match. Hell, I wonder if he even saw the match at Payback.
WWE Payback 2013 Thoughts
I actually had a much longer and more ambitious review of the show started, but life intervened in a number of different ways last week that curtailed my ability to find any time to complete it, so I'm going to edit it this week and finish it. Basically, while writing up some thoughts on the PPV I got to thinking about the near future of what we're going to see on WWE TV and whether or not the momentum they've started to build up can actually be sustained for very long. I'll have another week of TV to check out in order to further form some opinions on the matter, so expect that next week. Until then, though, I do still have some brief thoughts on the PPV itself.
Sheamus def. Damien Sandow (Payback Kickoff) This was definitely a very good match, and it helped (as would be the running theme for the night) that the Chicago crowd was electric from the start. They were, for the most part, on Sandow's side, and I wouldn't have minded seeing them switch the winner mid-match and give Sandow the win because of it. There was no way you were going to deflate this crowd by having the heel win the opener. It would also be a good starting point for a Sheamus heel turn, because I think he needs it. I know there have been a bunch of turns, but he would be freshened up like crazy by going back to being a ruthless heel, and he does that role a million times better than Ryback. Turn Cody face to offset it a bit, because why not?
Curtis Axel def. The Miz & Wade Barrett (IC Title) The second match of the night and the first of the PPV proper was another darn good one. Crowd was great (LOVED Miz, too, which I didn't expect from Chicago) and all three men worked their asses off. It fell into the conventions of a triple threat a few times with two guys in and the third lost at ringside somewhere, but that didn't hurt the match too much. The three-way interactions were great and the finish was really good, I'd say. I wonder what the plan was (for both Axel and the title) if Fandango didn't get hurt.
AJ Lee def. Kaitlyn (Divas Title) Not quite the match Vince may have been hoping for, but it was very enjoyable. AJ is great and Kaitlyn seems to have the ability, for the most part, to work up toward the standards of a better opponent, which she had here. Sorry, but otherwise she's pretty much dreadful. I understand the idea of wanting to have her pass out instead of tap out, but AJ is the one who needs to lead the division into the future (if it really has one), not Kaitlyn.
Dean Ambrose def. Kane (US Title) Eh. It was there. Not much to say, really. Kane did his normal stuff and Ambrose did what is becoming his normal stuff, and then won via countout. Don't really know that I can say that finish was the right way to go, but I wouldn't say it was the wrong way, so it's a wash. I'd like to see Ambrose wrestle somebody else now, please.
Alberto Del Rio def. Dolph Ziggler (World Title) Great, great stuff here. It was so much different from the fantastic match they pulled out a while back on Main Event, and it worked well just the same. The double turn was clear, and both guys played their roles amazingly. AJ was great as well, but I wonder where she goes now. I assume she'll end up turning on him sooner rather than later just to solidify her new role as the champion and his new role as a face. I'm fine with that, as the DZ/AJ/BE trio wasn't much to write home about anyway. All of them are great and they were good together, but they didn't really do much and adding those two to Dolph's posse isn't what put him over the top. Very much looking forward to seeing how they move on Ziggler's face turn.
CM Punk def. Chris Jericho Very good match, but a bit confusing. Was Punk intentionally sloppy in part here or was he just off? I've read a number of people say that he was playing up ring rust, but that doesn't really make sense to me. He probably just had a bit of legitimate ring rust, and it showed. Not that he won't be able to get right back into ring shape in a short amount of time, but he certainly appeared to be a bit winded at points and his timing was off. The crowd, of course, was outstanding, which helped a lot, and as this match went on it went from good to great. The first GTS would have made sense as a finish, but it didn't end the match and they kept going for another 5+ minutes, which really put this one over the top. I think I ended up liking this one better than their 'Mania match, which I remember being disappointed with. I'm going to have to watch that one again.
The Shield def. Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton (Tag Titles) Like the previous Shield-branded match, this one was just there. Good stuff by all involved and again the crowd was great, but this was more angle advancement than actual match. Not that such is necessarily a bad thing, because there was plenty of other good stuff on this show that allowed for such matches to take place.
John Cena def. Ryback (3 Stages of Hell, WWE Title) This went exactly as I expected. Ryback pinned Cena in the first match to look like a threat and protect the heel from looking weak by being pinned, then went through a table in fall #2 to lose without having to lose, essentially. Stage 1 was nothing special until the awesome dive from Cena, which was a fucking fantastic visual that I watched a few times over because it was so cool. Stage 2 was actually a surprisingly good match and they used the table stipulation well. Ryback destroying tables accidentally with stairs was awesome. Stage 3 was just some simple pluderin', but it was inoffensive and okay. I don't think I'd have cared for this match very much if I wasn't watching with my soon-to-be-seven-year-old son, who is, obviously, a huge John Cena fan. He lived and died by every twist and turn and his reactions to all of the moments that were meant to illicit "oohs" and "aahs" were exactly that, and it was a joy to watch. A fine way to end the show, and hopefully they come up with something decent to do with Ryback, because he is good. He's just not ready to be a main event heel. He was ready last October to be a main event superface for a couple of months with Cena on the shelf for a moment (because really it's not a very tough role) but nobody is really buying him in the slot he's been in, so if they intend to keep him as a heel, they really need to build him up for a while before trying again.
Overall Payback Thoughts I found this to be a highly enjoyable show. Obviously the amazing Chicago crowd helped a ton, but that's always a big part of the whole experience. This isn't going to be the kind of PPV I look back on and think "wow, that was something special", but the booking was strong, the wrestling was good, and nothing was bad at all. The most important part, I'd say, is that as a whole this show hopefully set up for a strong summer's worth of interesting storylines. Time will tell.
From TJ Hawke:"I really enjoyed this match. If you have only seen them work the fast ROH style, then this match may surprise you. They worked it slow, but very smart and very crowd engaging. Steen spent most of 2009 selling his knee seemingly, so he pretty much had it down pat in this match. I really miss Claudio on the independents; he is an incredible talent. Both of these men should be making millions in wrestling."