WWE RAW rolls into Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (hey wasn't some wrestler guy once billed from here?) tonight a little bit more than a week removed from Summerslam. We still have tons of questions surrounding the controversial finish to the John Cena/CM Punk match at Summerslam as well as the usual questions about where the company is headed creatively heading into the fall quarter, so kick back, watch the show (or don't, I won't tell you how to live your life!) and keep refreshing the page for all the latest updates and analysis from yours truly after each commercial break. Let's get RAW, as they say in the school of bad puns that aren't funny.
WWE RAW 8/22/11
August 22nd, 2011
Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Attendance: Unknown at this time
August 22nd, 2011
Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Attendance: Unknown at this time
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and Michael Cole
We open the show with the WWE champion Alberto Del Rio making his way out to the ring as Michael Cole makes the announcement that Rey Mysterio is out of action indefinitely due to injuries (kayfabe) sustained during his match with Del Rio last week. Before Del Rio can get into his usual destiny shtick though, John Cena's music hits and the former champ makes his way down to the ring quickly for a nice pop. He grabs a mic and tries to reintroduce himself to Del Rio as "the guy who's going to take that WWE championship off your waist". Yes, I'm sure that's just what everyone has been waiting patiently for John, to see you dispatch of generic heel number 9005. Cena says there's only one man in the company that can go toe to toe with him, and that's CM Punk. He says when he faces Del Rio for the WWE title he's going to whip his ass when the opening chords of Living Colour's "Cult of Personality" ring out and our straight edge savior, CM Punk comes out to a nice pop of his own. He makes his way down to the ring and has a mic of his own.
Punk says he feels like he's stepped into a re-run of RAW tonight, seeing John Cena ask for yet another title shot. Punk says if anyone's getting a title shot, it's going to be him. He says he has a problem with Del Rio, Triple H, Kevin Nash, and maybe even former "WWF President" Jack Tunney getting involved in his business and conspiring to take the title from him. Punk points out that Nash probably would have beaten down Cena had he won the title match on Sunday instead of Punk, simply because a certain someone wants Del Rio to be champion. Punk says that he's officially going to cash in his rematch clause for the WWE title, but then Cena steps in and claims that he's going to get his rematch tonight, but Punk tells him he doesn't have a rematch clause. Del Rio takes a shot at the Canadian fans but before he can finish his diatribe, Corporate Triple H's music hits and our noble Chief Operating Officer makes his way down to the ring to take charge of the situation.Triple H has a microphone and says that Del Rio will be wrestling next, but it won't be against Punk or Cena. He says Del Rio will defend the WWE title in four weeks at the Night of Champions PPV against whoever wins tonight's main event, which will pit CM Punk against John Cena in a number one contender's match! Punk/Cena III on RAW? I'm never one to complain about quality matches being given away on free TV, but it seems odd that they would give away a match that brought them so much attention on their last two PPVs for free on RAW.
Alberto Del Rio vs. John Morrison
When we return from commercial break, John Morrison is announced as Del Rio's opponent. Ross puts over the importance of Cena/Punk III, reminding us yet again what a competent play-by-play man sounds like. Del Rio targets Morrison's throat in the early going with a chop and a quick kick before starting to go to work on Morrison's arm, already setting up for his finisher perhaps. JoMo gets a near fall off a dropkick and then grinds Del Rio against the mat with a side headlock. JoMo sends Del Rio out to the floor and then tries for a picture perfect Asai moonsault, but Del Rio moves and JoMo lands on his feet like a cat before being shoved into the guard barrier as we take a commercial break. When we return Del Rio is working over JoMo back in the ring and delivers a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a quick two count. Del Rio shoots into the corner but Morrison backdrops him over the top to the outside floor. Back in the ring Morrison meets him with a flurry of forearms and a Russian leg-sweep for a near fall of his own. Beautiful bridging German suplex from Del Rio, but JoMo kicks out again. JoMo blocks the armbar attempt with a cradle for a near fall and then delivers a sloppy tornado DDT for another one. Morrison snaps off a 'rana for another hot near fall and the pace seems to have picked up a bit. JoMo nails a springboard kick and sets up for Starship Pain, but lands on his feet safely, seeing that Del Rio has moved. Del Rio launches him into the ring post however and then applies the flying armbar for the submission victory at 8:54 (shown). They seemed to not quite be on the same page as the match began, but they got over the opening butterflies pretty quickly and this turned into a damn fine little TV match before it ended. These are just the kind of upper-midcard clean wins that Del Rio needs, so no complaints here even if they probably could have put together something better with a little bit more time. **1/2
Eve vs. Nikki Bella
We get a video package before the match from Natalya and Beth Phoenix talking about how they don't want to be like Kelly and Eve, but they aren't going to tell us what they do want. Typical women as King puts it. Nikki lays in a few weak forearms into Eve but it's not long before she's out on the floor getting beaten up by Brie behind the ref's back. Back in the ring Eve delivers a decent side suplex and for a moment I stare in awe at the TV screen with my ears perked up as I hear the first "We want puppies!" chant from a WWE crowd that I can remember in years. Eve does some of that "booty-poppin" as the kids call it and then delivers a sloppy reverse STO. Nikki trips her up when she tries for the moonsault for a near fall. Eve finishes her off with a strange neckbreaker at 2:34. I'll give credit to Eve, she appears to be actively trying to mix new moves into her repertoire. The only problem is she's delivering them rather sloppily, and someone might get hurt that way. Not much of a match obviously. Kelly drops a leg on one of the Bellas after the match as Natalya and Beth Phoenix look on from the stage. 3/4*
We see a shot of Kevin Nash walking backstage as we cut to commercial.
Jack Swagger vs. Alex Riley
Vickie Guerrero makes her way out and introduces Swagger as her newest client. Riley gets the jobber non-entrance strangely enough. They lock up and Swagger quickly takes Riley down with a waistlock. Riley responds with a big spinebuster when suddenly Dolph Ziggler makes his way down to ringside to argue with Vickie. Swagger tries for the gut-wrench powerbomb on Riley but settles for a lariat instead. Ziggler accidentally elbows Vickie down and Swagger comes out to check on her. He shoves Ziggler and goes back into the ring, where he's promptly rolled up by Riley and pinned clean at 2:03. Well if it isn't Scott Keith's favorite-ist finish in the whole wide world. Again, not much of a match here, just an angle. 1/4*
Backstage we see Triple H talking quietly on a cell phone as we go to commercial break. Must be the mistress. When we return from break Triple H has made his way out to the ring with a mic. He talks about the controversy over the WWE title match at Summerslam and then calls Kevin Nash out in order to be completely transparent to the WWE universe. Nash makes his way out to the ring sans cheesy Diesel music and shakes Hunter's hand as he gets into the ring. Triple H again denies ever sending a text message to Nash to jump Punk. Nash says that he respects Hunter's word but he doesn't respect Punk. Triple H says that Nash doesn't work here, so he can't have him out here challenging Punk. Nash says the security last week wasn't for his safety, but rather for Punk's safety. Triple H says Nash can fight him at the local Tim Horton's, but he can't fight him in the WWE and then asks Nash to please leave. CM Punk's music hits right here of course though, and our straight edge savior makes his way out to play a game of detective. He ponders whether it was Nash, Hunter, or Steph who sent the text. Punk claims to be an habitual line-crosser and that Nash should know a thing or two about that (subtle TNA reference perhaps?). Punk says he's done talking and that he's going to kick Nash's ass, but Triple H plays the role of buffer. Punk says that Hunter has always had a problem with him holding the WWE title and wants to know who's really pulling the strings here. Hunter says that if Punk crosses the line with him, he'll attack him. He talks about Hunter keeping his balls in Steph's purse and Nash jumps Punk from behind with a forearm. Nash and Hunter angrily storm off as the crowd loudly chants for Punk.
When we return from commercial we see Triple H backstage telling Nash that he can't put his hands on a WWE employee like he just did with Punk. Nash says that Hunter has changed since donning the suit and takes off.
WWE Tag Team Title Match
David Otunga/Michael McGillicutty © vs. Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne
With Beer Money recently dropping the TNA tag titles, that makes Otunga and McGillicutty our current longest-reigning champions in the WWE or TNA. That's a frightening thought. McGillicutty seems to be wearing doo rags now in an attempt to look tough. It's not working. Kofi and McGillicutty start us off with some basic feeling out stuff before Kofi hits a huge cross-body and sets up for the Boom Drop. McGillicutty bails and Kofi stupidly gives chase, getting jumped from behind in the process. Back in the ring Otunga body-slams Kofi for a two count. This crowd could not care less about Otunga and McGillicutty's bland heel shtick here and it's kind of sad to watch. Not even their love for Kofi can drag much of any heat out of them. Kofi snaps off a headscissors and tags out to Bourne and finally the crowd shows some life as Bourne hits a flurry of spinkicks and knee-strikes. Kofi nails Otunga with a kick on the side of the apron and Bourne hits the Air Bourne on Otunga to win the tag straps at 5:05. King tries to claim the fans are giving them a standing ovation, but they seem slightly bemused at best. The action here was solid enough but totally heatless. Atleast the tag straps are off of the heat vacuum that is Otunga and McGillicutty though. *1/2
After a quick commercial break we cut to backstage where Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne are celebrating with Zack Ryder and a bottle of champagne over their tag title win. Elsewhere we see Johnny Ace running up to Triple H to inform him that Kevin Nash has apparently been in a car accident and has been taken to a local hospital. Hunter takes off to make sure his friend is okay while Laurinaitis stands around like a goof. That man is no Funkhouser when it comes to the acting department, I'll tell you what.
Santino Marella's music hits and he begins walking down to the ring when suddenly The Miz and R-Truth jump him from behind and put the beat down on him inside the ring to a chorus of boos. Truth grabs a mic and starts ranting about Little Jimmy again before getting into a "WHAT!"-off with the fans. Truth goes all Alex Jones on us, talking about the big conspiracy to keep he and Miz down again. This crowd is giving off great heat to Truth, regardless of the absurdity of his new found "gimmick". The Miz agrees with Truth and then flips out on the crowd for shouting "What" again. Can you imagine if Austin walked into the building right now? The what's would be deafening. Miz and Truth are playing this crowd perfectly and this has actually been one of the better non-CM Punk promo segments I've seen on RAW in quite some time, as this crowd is giving both men nuclear heat. Miz and Truth say that they're no longer waiting for an opportunity; they're just going to take it. Good segment.
WWE Title #1 Contender's Match
John Cena vs. CM Punk
Alberto Del Rio and Johnny Ace both are at ringside for this match, so I expect we'll get some sort of shenanigans. Cena does his usual pre-match attempt to throw his t-shirt into the crowd, but tonight the crowd decides to throw it back at him like they were the Hammerstein Ballroom. They go right into trading headlocks and legscissors in the early going and while obviously not as electric as Chicago last month, the crowd tonight is still extremely hot. They do a nice leapfrog/shoulder-block trading sequence and Cena looks for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Punk rolls him for a two count. Punk knees him in the corner and follows with the running bulldog, but gets knocked off the ring apron after being briefly distracted by Del Rio and we take a quick commercial break. When we return Punk is fighting out of a side headlock. Cena tries for the Attitude Adjustment out of the corner, but Punk blocks it and nails a springboard forearm for a two count. Punk tries for the GTS and Cena counters into the STF, but Punk wriggles out of it only to miss a spinkick and get taken down in a nasty crossface by Cena. Say, didn't some guy from Edmonton used to use that move? Punk nails Cena with the GTS, but Cena kicks out at two! Kind of early for kicking out of finishers guys, isn't it? Punk misses a top rope elbow drop, so Cena goes to the top and hits his top rope legdrop for another near fall. Punk blocks another AA attempt with brutal elbow strikes to Cena's face before blasting him with a stiff knee to the face, but again Cena kicks out. These guys know each other quite well by now, and you can tell how comfrotable they've become together. Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment, but now it's Punk's turn to play the finisher kick out game. Punk hits a cross-body off the top rope, but Cena rolls right through and lifts Punk up, only to be cradled himself for another near fall before Punk wipes him out with a stiff boot to the face. Punk calls for the GTS when suddenly Kevin Nash comes out to the stage with a mic and calls out Punk's name. He makes his way down to the ring and that distracts Punk long enough to turn around and walk right into the Attitude Adjustment from Cena, giving John the win at 10:56 (shown)! Obviously this wasn't on par with their last two PPV matches, but they managed to fit a lot of really good stuff into the short time they did have and as a result the brisk pace made for another excellent encounter between these two. The finish hurts it slightly since it was rather predictable, but otherwise this was another damn fine match from these two men. ***1/4
After the match Del Rio hits the ring and jumps Cena for a bit until Johnny Ace comes into the ring to pull him off. We go off the air with a deranged Del Rio grinning like a madman as Cena lays in the ring injured.
Bottom Line: Well, it certainly wasn't a bad show tonight, I'll give them that. The main event was another great match in a series of them between Cena and Punk and the opening match was another solid win for Del Rio, but everything in between didn't exactly thrill me. The Punk/Kliq angle seems to be starting to forge a pathway for the next PPV, but in the mean time we saw Cena win yet another title shot. I'm not a detractor of Cena's, in fact I'd consider myself a fan of the man's, but to say his babyface shtick has grown stale at this point in time would be a gross understatement. I'm not sure if I agree with where they're heading booking-wise here, but that's really all up to your personal preference here. As a show though, this certainly wasn't bad and the main event was good enough to push this into "good" territory in my book and is enough for me to go ahead and give tonight's show the Thumbs Up.