-I’m BAAAAAAAAAAACK. After a brief hiatus from reviewing the show known as Raw, I have returned to once again betroth knowledge to the masses.
-Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @MikeShannon22. I am occasionally funny on there, too.
-Vickie Guerrero kicks us off and announces John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio…SMELL THE RATINGS!
-After the intro, Daniel Bryan hits the ring to remind us he is not the weak link because Randy Orton tapped last week. Bryan drops some names of former World champions and wants to put himself in their class. He promises to be WWE champion but the worst babyface ever, Sheamus, interrupts to remind Bryan about their brief WrestleMania encounter. Randy Orton, starting to look a little gray in his beard (am I really getting that old?) also comes out to express his opinion.
Hey Kane, are you busy? Well, come on out and tell us what you think as well. Kane and Bryan have one their arguments until Christian breaks it up to a relatively subdued reaction. Finally, CM Punk heads out and mentions RVD to make up for his non-appearance here. Surprisingly, a big brawl does not erupt, Orton only lays out Kane when he protects Bryan from an Orton attack.
-For whatever reason, we are celebrating world champions tonight so Buddy Rogers and Lou Thesz get a video package. I guess we are going to pretend the World Heavyweight title somehow inherited the title history of the NWA and WCW title now, huh? Alright then.
-Bray Wyatt gets another creepy vignette. Cool goat mask, bro.
The Shield vs. Christian & The Usos
How long until that Uso entrance is cut? I give it three weeks. One of the Usos starts with Rollins and hits an elbow before tagging out for some double teaming for two. Ambrose comes in to take on Christian, who drop toe holds Dean into the ropes. The heels bail to the outside to regroup but the babyfaces follow with a triple dive to the floor, taking us to break.
We return with (obviously the heels in control of one of the Usos (listen, if the announcers aren’t going to identify them, I’m not going to try either). A Shield double suplex gets two and the heels switch off before Reigns hits a fireman’s carry slam for two. Ambrose gets a little cocky though and gets smacked with a superkick (great sell by Dean too). Rollins briefly saves but the Uso makes the hot tag to Christian, who is indeed a house of fire.
Christian gets distracted by Ambrose on the apron though and Rollins hits an enzuigiri. Ambrose pounces, trying to take advantage, but gets hit with a Killswitch for two, saved by Reigns. A big brawl erupts, leaving Christian and Ambrose alone again but Rollins recovers to snap Christian’s neck on the top rope and Dean rolls him up for the win.
Winners: The Shield
-The Shield continue to be booked strong and the guys delivered a good, energetic match as well ***.
-Meanwhile, Kane and Daniel Bryan have another lover’s quarrel that ends with Kane being booked against Orton tonight with Bryan as the special guest referee.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Jinder Mahal
This might as well be Ziggler against “Iron” Mike Sharpe. Mahal tries an Irish whip and Ziggler counters by strutting. Dolph whiffs on a dropkick though and Mahal hits a high knee for two. Suplex gets another two and Jinder stomps away as the crowd chants for JBL…weird Dolph answers with a dropkick for two but gets caught with a powerslam for two. Why is Jinder Mahal getting this much offense against Dolph Ziggler? Almost on cue, Ziggler squirms away from Mahal and hits the Zig Zag for the win.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
-Post-match, 3MB tries to attack but Ziggler runs away in an athletic fashion and lays out Drew McIntyre with a Zig Zag on the floor. Mahal got a little too much offense for my liking but it got the point across *.
-Bruno Sammartino and Harley Race get the video package treatment.
-Meanwhile, Vickie and Maddox bad mouth the McMahon family but Triple H makes his presence known and reminds Vickie to do what he says.
-The video package guy must have been working overtime this week because now Mark Henry gets a career recap.
Randy Orton vs. Kane
Of course, Daniel Bryan is YOUR special guest referee. Orton slugs away in the corner and Bryan pulls him off, allowing Kane to hit an uppercut and do his own beatdown in the corner. Again, Bryan backs him off while the announcers ignore all of it for a weird reason. Running low dropkick gets two for Kane but Orton comes back with a Thesz Press and the Garvin Stomp (both former world champions…one slightly more successful than the other). Kneedrop gets a one-count and Kane is so annoyed that he suplexes Orton down.
Kane pounds Orton down and dumps him to the outside to call some spots as this match grinds to a halt. Kane misses a blind charge into the corner and Orton slugs away. Bryan backs him up again and Orton shoves him, causing Bryan to call for an immediate disqualification, something Kane is none too pleased with. Kane demands that Bryan restart the match, so he does and we head to break.
We return to Orton fighting out of a resthold but he takes a pair of clotheslines in the corner and a side slam. Kane heads up top for his flying clothesline but Orton counters with a mid-air dropkick to wake the crowd up for the first time this match. A powerslam puts Kane down but he counters the draping DDT and Orton has to go to the neckbreaker instead. DDT hits this time and Orton looks to finish but Bryan runs interference so Kane can nail a big boot and Bryan fast counts Orton to give the win to Kane.
-So the crowd treats Daniel Bryan as a heel and then boos Kane when he won’t chokeslam Bryan? Isn’t Bryan a babyface? And why is Kane upset that he won the match? Is Kane, the guy who used to put people in coffins and light them on fire suddenly a squeaky clean sportsman? These things make my head hurt sometimes. The match was as boring as watching paint dry *.
-Meanwhile, CM Punk tells Curtis Axel to stand and watch while he beats up both Prime Time Players. Paul Heyman tells Punk to trust them. I don’t think I’d trust Paul Heyman to lead me into the front door of my own house.
-Video package time again, this one is for Bob Backlund (can you believe people used to job for an atomic drop?) and Dusty Rhodes.
Fandango vs. Sheamus
I’d say the Fandango “craze” is over…guess he won’t be headlining WrestleMania after all. Fandango stalls and dances so Sheamus does the same but then kicks his ass. Clothesline and suplex puts Fandango down for two but Sheamus gets caught with his head down and gets floored with an elbow. Sheamus comes back with a clothesline and a kneelift, sending Fandango to the floor while JBL makes a Superclash joke with Lawler about Verne Gagne.
Fandango catches him with a kick coming back in and adds another inside the ring for two. Fandango goes to a sleeper but Sheamus fights out and slugs away in the corner. Fandango escapes to the apron but Sheamus hits his clubbering forearms to send Fandango to the showers for an intentional count out. Lame.
Winner by Count Out: Sheamus
-Can’t say the finish did this match any favors *1/2.
Ryback vs. The Miz
Chris Jericho is on commentary to try to build any heat on his match with Ryback at the PPV. Ryback overpowers the heatless Miz while Jericho makes the case that Ryback is a crybaby. More punch-kick stuff bores the crowd as the Ryback character is DEAD in the water and WWE only has itself to blame. Punching you say? Have some more. Miz fires back to zero reaction and goes low with a dropkick before hitting a big boot. Note to Miz: You don’t throw a big boot on a guy who outweighs you by a 100 lbs., it looks ridiculous.
Miz hits his clothesline in the corner and attacks Ryback’s injured knee, setting up for the Figure Four. Miz wraps Ryback’s leg around the ropes and dropkicks it in a nice spot and Ryback immediately tells the referee to stop the match. What the hell kind of character is this? Jericho hits a Codebreaker on Ryback afterwards just because.
Winner: The Miz
-This Ryback character should be the focus of a college lecture entitled “How to Kill the Momentum of a Hot Babyface”. The match was an absolute DUD though.
-Surprisingly, Hulk Hogan actually gets a video package along with Ric Flair.
-Mark Henry heads out on the stage to cut a promo with the crowd giving him the annoying “what” treatment. Henry talks about how he put one over on the boys and the fans because he’s always in control.
-Meanwhile, Vince McMahon admonishes Vickie for using Daniel Bryan when he told her not to. Smartly, McMahon tells Vickie you don’t give away a champion vs. champion match for free on Raw.
CM Punk and Curtis Axel vs. The Prime Time Players
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Curtis Axel’s theme. Punk tries to start but Axel tags himself in, earning a glare from Punk. Axel hammers away on Darren Young in the corner and hits a clothesline, causing Young to scurry away and tag in Titus. Punk tells him to tag but Axel goes it himself and hits a dropkick while ignoring Punk.
Titus hits a clothesline and a pump handle slam, turning Axel into the heel in peril. Titus slams Young on top of Axel for two and Curtis gets trapped in the heel corner. Titus applies an abdominal stretch and Axel fights out but Titus slams him down. Punk’s sideburns are so out of control, I bet TNA would sign them to a big money contract.
Titus only hits boot on a blind charge and Punk finally gets the hot tag, cleaning house on both heels and hitting a spinning neckbreaker on Young. High knee in the corner finds the target and the Macho Man Elbow does the same. Punk hits the GTS on Young and dumps Titus but Axel tags himself in and gets the pin for himself.
Winners: Curtis Axel and CM Punk
-I actually really like the Prime Time Players and it’s a shame they have to be cannon fodder in the Punk storyline but at least they played their roles well. The look on Punk’s face at the end of the match was awesome too. Heyman tries to get Punk to celebrate, but that doesn’t go well either **1/2.
-Steve Austin and Sting (another surprise) get their turn on the video package parade. Do you think they’ll do Vince McMahon and David Arquette as a rib?
Kaitlyn vs. Alicia Fox
Kaitlyn hits a clothesline and uses a jackknife cover for some reason to get two. Fox comes back with a dropkick for two and drives Kaitlyn to the corner for some weak elbow shots. Northern Lights suplex gets two as Kaitlyn’s selling could be described as looking “mildly annoyed”. Kaitlyn hits a really stiff spear out of nowhere to get the win. That was ugly.
-You know, Kaitlyn, the point of a spear isn’t to break as many ribs as possible in the process. Call this one 1/2* for a stiff finisher. AJ shows up to produce Vince’s favorite joke, the Photoshopped picture jokes. This time, AJ has pictures of “fat” Kaitlyn…ha ha?
-Meanwhile, Stephanie complains to Vickie about various things, causing Vickie to lose it a little bit. Steph sympathizes with Vickie until she calls Triple H and Vince crazy, earning the wrath of Chyna-in-training. Steph announces a public job evaluation for Vickie next week…yep that’s what this show has been missing: Corporate job performance reviews.
Cody Rhodes vs. Antonio Cesaro
This is an odd choice for a match. Both guys show some disrespect until Cesaro shows off his strength with a gut-wrench slam. Cody channels his brother Goldust with a drop down uppercut and tries a rollup but Cesaro goes to the eyes to break. A Cesaro uppercut sends Cody to the floor but he manages to neck snap Cesaro and try a backslide. Cesaro quickly turns it into the Neutralyzer for the easy win.
Winner: Antonio Cesaro
-The match had zero heat because both guys are heels and mid-card ones at that. Just weird to watch *1/2.
-Oh, you KNEW that Triple H was going to get a video package and, ironically, Booker T is his opposite.
-Backstage, the Bellas meet Jojo and Eva Marie (who are these people) for some sort of cast meeting for their BS reality show. This is porn-level acting here, folks.
-Unfortunately, Pittsburgh is being hit by a thunderstorm during the show, so my satellite loses it’s feed temporarily…thanks, Direct TV. Pretty sure it was just another Wyatt family promo though, who are going to debut next week.
John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio
Neither title is on the line here or anything interesting like that. Cena gets his usual mixed reaction which might actually mean something if his character ever changed. Never underestimate the power of merchandise money. Cena starts with a hip toss and follows with a shoulderblock. Del Rio comes back with a hip toss of his own and they go back and forth while my satellite dish has a battle with good reception. Cena hits a bulldog but whiffs on a charge into the corner and runs his own shoulder into the ring post before hitting the floor. Del Rio introduces him to the ringside barrier and we head back inside. Del Rio stomps away and tries the Charge Against the Ropes That Never Hits but ends up on the floor and we take a break.
We return with Cena fighting out of a chinlock but Del Rio slams him down and heads to the top rope. He gets caught with a mid-air dropkick, which comes off looking ridiculous because Del Rio didn’t even look like he was trying to hit a move, he just jumped off to land on his feet.
Del Rio dodges Cena’s shoulder tackle and hits a baseball slide to send Cena to the floor but John necksnaps him on the top rope and now he makes his comeback. Del Rio manages to squirm out of a suplex though and hits a back stabber for two. Del Rio stops to brag a little but that gives Cena the chance to hit a suplex and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena looks to finish but Del Rio counters with a german suplex for two.
Del Rio looks for a superkick but Cena counters to a belly to belly slam for two. Cena heads up top but Del Rio pops up with an enzuigiri for two. Del Rio tries for an enzuigiri again but misses this time and has to settle for a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for another near fall. Del Rio hangs Cena in the Tree of Woe but Cena muscles himself up when Alberto charges and Del Rio hits the post with his shoulder. This crowd sucks, by the way.
Cena comes off the top with a high cross body for two. Cena looks for the AA and Del Rio tries to counter to the cross armbreaker but Cena rolls though and applies the STF. Mark Henry makes his way to ringside, causing Cena to break the hold and glare. Del Rio tries to steal one with a rollup but it only gets two. Now Dolph Ziggler runs down and perches himself on the top, distracting Del Rio long enough for Cena to hit the Attitude Adjustment for the win.
Winner: John Cena
-Mark Henry and John Cena have a staredown after the match but nothing of note occurs, Henry just leaves. Anyone still think the world heavyweight title isn’t a B-level title now? The match was well-worked but no one in the crowd or at home gave Del Rio a snowball’s chance in hell of winning this match. I still don’t see why Cena had to go over clean but whatever, does it matter anymore? ***
-We actually close with a Wyatt family promo, hopefully they keep giving them this kind of attention.
There were a couple good matches but it was just a weird show to watch. There was a lot of heel-heel interactions and the fact that the crowd was deader than Alex Riley’s career didn’t help either. I’m actually excited to watch the Wyatt family debut next week but I don’t think anyone is going to be buying the Money in the Bank PPV unless Rob Van Dam has about 400,000 close, personal friends.