Are you ready? Then stop questioning your heart and join me because it is time for Monday Night RAW!!!
Alberto Del Rio is in the ring and asks if this is how it is going to be, if the crowd is going to be booing him. He says that last week John Cena hit him with the AA and he isn’t going to let that stand. He won’t let people make fun of him. Del Rio says that he is the guy that put Rey Mysterio out of business, retired Edge, and beat CM Punk at Summerslam. His name is Alberto Del Rio and he is the WWE Champion.
Bret Hart’s music hits and he makes his way down to the ring. He says that he isn’t out here to make fun of Alberto Del Rio; instead he is out here because he sees someone wearing the Championship belt, yet doesn’t actually know what it means to be a Champion. Hart says Del Rio is all style and no substance. To prove himself, Del Rio needs to be able to come out each night and successfully defend his Championship.
Del Rio says that Hart is a former Champion that looks like a bum. He mocks The Hitman’s attire. Del Rio says that Hart looks just like those illegal Canadians that he hires to clean his house. Tonight, he is going to make an example out of Hart.
John Cena’s music hits and he makes his way down to the ring. Cena says that when he looks at Hart he sees a WWE Hall of Famer. Cena says that he doesn’t have any proof, but it seems as though Del Rio has grown a pair of jalapeños. Cena tells Rio to go home, because he is only going to be the Champion for 6 more days. Cena vows to beat him on Sunday at the PPV. Rio says maybe they shouldn’t wait, maybe they should fight right now. Cena says that he has been trying to fight him for a month, so let’s go. Del Rio pushes Ricardo Rodriguez forward as Cena’s opponent. Cena laughs and says that he has an idea. He suggests that Del Rio takes on Bret Hart tonight! The crowd roars their approval.
John Laurinaitis walks out onto the ramp. He says that on behalf of HHH he is going to give the fans what they want. It will be Alberto Del Rio & Ricardo Rodriguez versus John Cena & Bret Hart in tonight!
Jack Swagger & Dolph Ziggler v. John Morrison & Alex Riley
Ziggler and Morrison start the match off. They exchange jabs back and forth before tagging in their respective partners. Alex Riley clears the ring and goes for the cover. Swagger gets back to his feet and cinches in the Ankle Lock. Riley escapes and whips Swagger into the ropes which knocks Ziggler off the apron. Riley hits a shoulder release neck breaker which sets up the pin. Ziggler slides into the ring, but doesn’t break up the pinfall. This match is over.
Winners: John Morrison & Alex Riley
Josh Mathews is in the back with The Miz and R-Truth. He asks if they are now on good terms with the company since they have been granted a Tag Team Championship match at the PPV. Miz says that CM Punk is a joke. He makes himself out as the martyr, but in truth the CM should be changed to BS. Truth has the mic and says that he actually thinks HHH made a good decision. Miz asks if he really means that. Truth responds, “Ninja please – hell no”.
They make their way out onto the entrance ramp. Truth points out that HHH is the COO, which if you say it twice in a row, is coo-coo. Miz says that at the PPV on Sunday, the current Tag Team Champions are going to get got.
The Miz w/ R-Truth v. Kofi Kingston w/ Evan Bourne
Miz backs him into the ropes and hits some clubbing blows along the back. Quick cover, but Kofi kicks out. Kofi clotheslines Miz into the ropes, which sends them both crashing to the outside.
Back from the break, Miz hits a DDT and goes for the cover. Kofi kicks out. He gets to his feet and hits a couple of slaps followed by a dropkick. Kingston is pushed into the corner, but bounces out with a springboard crossbody from the second rope. Cover, but Miz kicks out. Kofi looks to set up for the Boom Drop, but Miz counters into the Skull Crushing Finale! This match is over.
Winner via Skull Crushing Finale: The Miz
Teddy Long is in the back with Vickie Guerrero. Long says that at the PPV Dolph Ziggler will defend his title against Alex Riley, Jack Swagger and John Morrison. Vickie complains the number of opponents Dolph must face. Kelly Kelly walks into the shot and tells Vickie that if she was nicer to Teddy, maybe he would listen to her reasoning. Vickie calls her a ditzy Barbie and claims that even she could beat Kelly in the ring. Teddy’s eyes show a momentary gleam as he realizes that that might not be such a bad idea for later tonight. Vickie looks flustered as the show goes to commercial.
Michael McGillicutty & David Otunga are in the ring, and they have mics. Michael asks Lawler if he knows who his father is, because he claims to have been born with personality. Otunga puts himself over as a Harvard graduate lawyer. Lawler responds by saying that Michael isn’t his father (Mr. Perfect), and Otunga obviously failed his charisma class. Lawler introduces his mystery partner for tonight…
Michael McGillicutty & David Otunga v. Jerry Lawler & SHEAMUS
Lawler and Michael start things off. Michael tries to isolate him in the corner, but Lawler gets in a punch and tags in his partner. Sheamus sets Michael up in between the ropes and hits him repeatedly across the chest. Otunga tries to help from the apron, but Sheamus knocks him off and then hits a running knee lift. Sheamus scales the top turnbuckle and leaps for a flying shoulder block! Otunga runs into the ring and face first into the Brogue kick. He rolls out of the ring as Michael is hit with a Brogue kick of his very own. Sheamus lifts him up for the Celtic Cross, and this match is over.
Winners via Celtic Cross: Jerry Lawler & Sheamus
In the back, Ricardo Rodriguez is warming up. Alberto Del Rio looks at him and asks what he is doing. Ricardo takes a drink from his glass and mumbles something in Spanish, part of which includes mentioning that his drink is an aphrodisiac. Alberto shakes his head and walks out of the room.
John Cena & Bret Hart v. Alberto Del Rio & Ricardo Rodriguez
Cena and Ricardo start things off. Cena uses his shirt as a red flag and antagonizes Ricardo like a bullfighter. Cena finally throws it out of the ring, and Ricardo hits him from behind. Rodriguez begs for mercy but gets sent up into the air with a back body drop. Del Rio gets the tag, but doesn’t look much like he wants to enter the ring. Cena chases him outside the ring and then they both slide into the ring. Cena is kicked in the head and is backed into the corner. Cena gets back to his feet and whips ADR into the corner and connects with a splash. He lifts Del Rio into the air for the AA, but Ricardo grabs his arms to block the move, which counts as a tag. Cena lays him out in the middle of the ring and hits the 5 Knuckle Shuffle. Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment as ADR heads up the ramp to the back. Hart stares on for the apron and gets the tag. He locks on the Sharpshooter, and this match is over!
Winners via Alberto Del Rio being a coward: John Cena & Bret Hart
After the match, Cena grabs the mic and says that after Night of Champions, “The Champ is Here”. Cena and Hart celebrate in the middle of the ring.
Video Package: 9/11 Tribute
Kelly Kelly v. Vickie Guerrero w/ Dolph Ziggler
Kelly hits a Thesz Press and then gets back to her feet. She licks her hand and slaps Vickie’s romp. Kelly sets her in the corner and connects with the stinkface after a bulldog. Swagger walks down and begins to argue with Dolph Ziggler. Kelly takes advantage of the distraction and rolls Vickie up for the win.
Winner via Roll Up: Kelly Kelly
After the match, Vickie argues on the outside with Dolph & Swagger. As Kelly is celebrating in the ring, Beth Phoenix runs down the ramp. She tries to attack the Divas Champion, but Kelly keeps her out of the ring, and then exits up the ramp.
Mark Henry is being interviewed in the back about his actions as of late. He says that 15 years of no respect and not being a #1 Contender has led him to this point. Henry promises that on Sunday Randy Orton will enter his Hall of Pain.
Randy Orton v. Cody Rhodes
Orton is backed into the corner, but quickly reverses. He hits Rhodes with a back body drop, but turns around to see Mark Henry on the ramp. Orton slides out of the ring and grabs a chair. He walks up the ramp and Henry heads to the back. Rhodes tries to hit Orton from behind, but instead his face is introduced to Orton’s fist.
Back in the ring, Orton kicks Rhodes in the corner. He stomps repeatedly on his gut until the referee pulls him off. Cover attempt, but Cody kicks out. Orton stares up at the entrance ramp once again, and Henry walks back out with a chair. He sets it up and takes a seat. Orton walks back to where his chair is, and doesn’t notice Cody from behind. Henry begins to stand up and Orton turns around to face Cody and gets kicked in the face.
Back from the break, Cody is stomping on Orton’s gut in the middle of the ring. Rhodes connects with a knee to the shoulder and begins to focus his attack on that region. His arm bar is countered into a simple slam that gives Orton a moment of reprieve. Henry moves his chair up to about 10 feet from ringside. Orton sets up for the suspended DDT, but Cody scampers free. Orton gets him back into position and this time the move connects. The Viper falls to the mat and begins to pound his fists repeatedly. Henry walks up the first step to get into the ring, and Cody uses the moment to take off his mask and smash it across Orton’s face. Cover, and this match is over.
Winner via Mark Henry’s Distraction: Cody Rhodes
After the match, Henry finally enters the ring with his steel chair. He bashes it across Orton’s back and then calls for the Title to be handed to him. Henry raises it into the air as a sign of victory and then lays the Title on top of Orton after taunting him.
HHH makes his way down to the ring, and is quickly joined by CM Punk. Punk says that he respects HHH for his actions last week in firing Kevin Nash. That being said, Punk knows all of the things that HHH says behind his back. He knows that the COO simply doesn’t like him. When Punk was first brought in HHH referred to him as an undersized internet darling. HHH says that his opinion has changed a little bit. Punk says that’s the problem. The problem is that the perception of Punk hasn’t really changed, and that despite firing Vince, the company is still the same. The only difference is that it is now HHH in the suit.
Punk says that the philosophy is still that a guy that looks like himself doesn’t deserve to be in the ring with the greats. HHH has always had an infatuation with the body builder physique. HHH retorts by pointing out guys like Mick Foley, Rey Mysterio, Shawn Michaels and others. HHH asks if Punk is using that as an excuse for his failures. HHH says that his own opinion doesn’t matter, because it is the fans that matter. For the first 6 years Punk wasn’t getting this kind of reaction from the crowd, yet Punk claimed the reason was because he was being held back. HHH says that if the fans are truly behind Punk, then 7/11 will call the WWE and demand he be on a cup.
Punk asks if he is actually listening to the crowd, where is his ice cream bar? Punk talks about his first imaginary brass ring speech. He was on a team with DX in Philly, and yet the crowd was chanting for CM Punk above all others. The story doesn’t have a happy ending because he grabbed the imaginary brass ring, but it went nowhere. Punk says that he doesn’t play games, what you see is what you get. HHH says that Punk has certainly been given a lot of opportunities over the years, and should stop blaming other people for it taking so long to reach success. Maybe Punk just isn’t as good as he thinks he is.
HHH brings up Cena telling Punk that he almost gave up on him. HHH says that Cena is a guy that came from nothing and made himself the biggest star in this industry. Love him or hate him, the fact is that he sells out arenas around the world. He did it on his own, by winning over the crowd. HHH tells Punk to not worry about any opinion other than the fans’. HHH admits that he is wrong at times, but it is the fans who ultimately determine a wrestler’s success. Punk says that the crowd is clearly chanting his name, so how is it that he has to win them over more?
HHH says Punk wasn’t getting this reaction a year ago. Punk says he was handed nothing, and made his name in this business through hard work. HHH says this is going around in a circle, because this isn’t about business, it’s personal. Punk verbally insulted his family, so it’s personal. It’s a No DQ match that pits Punk against a man he insulted, a man that’s going to kick his ass. Punk claims that at the end of the night he is going to pin Hunter in the middle of the ring because his quest for change in the WWE isn’t going to stop until HHH is no longer the COO. Right now it isn’t CM Punk talking to HHH it is Phil Brooks talking to Paul Levesque. The mic cuts out. Punk is furious and they start to argue. HHH hands him his own mic to use, but it also cuts out. HHH slides out of the ring and gets a new mic. He tells Punk to use the pipe bomb if he wants. Punk takes it and smashes the mic over the head of HHH! He mimics the DX Suck it motion, and heads up the ramp smiling as we go off the air.
RAW started off with a decent enough segment, and it was actually nice to not see HHH in the opening this week. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of his current character, but the COO has been forced down our throats a bit too much as of late. I think part of my grievance is the fact that despite his real world role behind the scenes, watching HHH make the transition from sledgehammer wielding maniac to suit wearing executive is still a bizarre on screen progression.
Like many first time Champions, Del Rio is being presented as the underdog in his WWE Championship feud against Cena. Though, given Cena’s superhuman ability to win any match against any odds, I suppose even Bob Backlund in his prime would seem like the underdog when matched against this current version of the WWE’s public face.
I really enjoy the Ricardo Rodriguez character. He adds a special dimension to the show that takes away from the exposure of Del Rio while still accentuating his Title run. Something about seeing the Spanish speaking announcer in a sleeveless muscle shirt backstage pumping out the workout really amused me.
Del Rio & Ricardo’s matchup against Cena/Hart was pretty much what I would have expected. Del Rio has walked away from Ricardo in peril in the past, so tonight’s happenings won’t really damage their relationship. Hart is pretty limited in the ring, but the audience already knows that and he was sprinkled into the match for some Canadian flavoring. Over analyzing his role would be fruitless as it was just a special addition given the location of RAW. Hart didn’t detract from the show, so I have no complaints.
Swagger/Ziggler v. Morrison/Alex Riley was nothing special. The feud between Swagger and Ziggler continues to grow, and remains one that I wish they would hold off on for another 6 months or so. Why have them feud with each other now, when they could grow together under Vickie’s command? Have them succeed and move up to the main event tier, and then break out into a feud over the #1 Contendership for the WWE Championship. The emotional investment for the fan would be greater, and Vickie would be forced to choose which horse to back for the Title.
The Miz/R-Truth segment was once again pretty hilarious. These guys were most likely matched together because their characters risked becoming stale without a meaningful feud. They’ve played on that fact within this angle, which adds just enough realism to their fantastical pandering. Oh, and I’m still laughing about the “Ninja please” line.
Air Boom remains a horrendous tag team name, topped only in awfulness with their college-DJ-wannabe theme mix. Seriously, no effort was put into that one. I’m not demanding that the WWE hire Kaskade to mix the themes together, but at least a small attempt could have been made towards quality. (You’re welcome for the Kaskade reference, EDM fans)
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not invested in the slightest with the latest Otunga & McGillicutty / Lawler feud. I actually do enjoy Otunga’s work, though admittedly I usually exaggerated my fandom. Yet, there is just nothing special about this feud. Let’s recognize it for what it is – the WWE senses that the fans don’t care about this tag team, so they are playing that up in the angle in an attempt to get them some heat with the fans by going after Lawler. It’s a careful line to walk because the “boring” chant gimmick for Lance Storm did little to help his career, so blatantly exposing the team’s lack of personality seems counterproductive.
On a side note, if David Otunga is going to be under the WWE’s employee – then when the heck is Jennifer Hudson going to sing the national anthem for WrestleMania? Also, I’d like to think that Otunga’s WWE character is how he will one day act in a courtroom. He’ll call his law firm the legal Nexus and attack judges and prosecutors alike in an attempt to cleanse the American legal system. AND, I bet Jennifer Hudson would sing his firm’s theme song. Do law firms have theme songs? His will.
Kelly Kelly v. Vickie Guerrero… happened. I already discussed Swagger/Ziggler so let’s move on.
Orton/Rhodes was easily the best match of the night. These guys have had chemistry in the ring together since the Legacy days. Let’s not underestimate the value of Cody’s win over Orton, even if it was thanks to a distraction and illegal weapon. Speaking of which, how is it that the Anonymous GM/HHH/Teddy Long doesn’t watch the show enough to realize Rhodes doesn’t need the mask anymore? It isn’t a Mr. America level nuisance, but the continuity drives me crazy.
I’ve been a fan of Mark Henry dating back to his ECW days, before then I didn’t really care for his character one way or another. He has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years, and it shows.
So… did anybody else come to the realization that Mark Henry would crush you to death if Mark Henry gave you a lap dance? Because that’s what I got out of the segment with him sitting backwards on the steel chair. Don’t judge me.
For what it was, the final segment of the show was lackluster. The material was solid, but the fans in attendance were nearly dead in the water. I actually think that HHH was a bit stronger than CM Punk in the overrun, which was surprising. I’ve been cautioning that all of the shooty-shoot breaking kayfabe jargon would hurt Punk’s character – and each week he seems to progressively lose a little fraction of his edge over the rest of the locker room. The summer was the summer, risks were taken and some really paid off, but creative needs to ever so slightly tone back those elements. The Professional Wrestling world loves to remind the IWC that they make up only 10% of the viewing audience. If that’s true, then they need to expand Punk past that target base else he fades back to cult hero instead of crowd favorite.
It wasn’t a stellar RAW by any means, just a show intended to sell Sunday’s PPV. The build isn’t as strong as the past couple of PPVs, but that was an uphill climb anyway.