The go-home Raw before Hell in a Cell brought several top-notch in-ring battles, #Shawns being thrown out left and right, and new matches for the pay-per-view. Let’s recap shall we?
A Monster with a Monster Truck
Tonight’s Raw “main-event” saw the combatants in Sunday’s Hell in a Cell match for the Vacant WWE Championship make the match official with an old-fashioned contract signing. All the pieces were in place. The Authority, the special guest referee: Shawn Michaels, and the challengers: Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan, and the Big Show in a Big Rig. There was a lot going on here, I mean that in a good way.
I know a LOT of people are going to get on Triple H for his “burying” of Bryan in this segment. Maybe I’m naive but I see it the opposite way. The way his speech was structured, telling Bryan he’s beneath him and he only wrestles stars; referencing Bryan against guys the audience clearly view as A+ performers (Jericho, Edge, & RVD): and then Shawn Michaels telling HHH, Bryan bugs him because he was wrong about him, was beautiful. What I’m hoping is that there will come a day, where Triple H will have to step in the ring with Bryan because nothing he has done could keep the kid down, thus giving him the A+ rub.
After all the talking was done, a semi-horn blared to interrupt the proceedings. Was Big Daddy Cool back? Nope, it was the Big Show entering the arena, in Stone Cold Steve Austin style, to wind up the McMahon-Helmsleys again. The Show had interrupted Triple H and Stephanie’s address earlier in the evening. The distraction allowed Bryan to get a final shot in on the Viper with a flying knee strike before joining the Big Show on the truck to YES! the night away.
I don’t know 100% in which direction I think they’re going with the WWE Championship. Does Show turn on Bryan? Does HBK tow the Authority line? Personally, after the Bryan-Triple H exchange, I feel like the biggest money is in maintaining the Triple H-Bryan conflict with the boss throwing challenger after challenger at the Dazzler. Who does Orton feud with if he’s the champ and Bryan’s not in the title picture? Cena? Cliched Cena hate aside, it’s been done too much.
Indulge my fantasies for a moment but maybe HBK doesn’t do what’s “best for business” and fails to cheat in the Authority’s favor and his friend forces him out of retirement to face his student? Did your pants just disappear too?
“It’s an execution live on WWE pay-per-view!”
Paul Heyman’s “Hot Lava” promo was a masterpiece, a throwback to crazed Paul E. Dangerously promos from the 1980′s & 1990′s. The insanity, the screaming, the visuals spewing from Heyman’s lips were both captivating and hilarious. Then on a dime, Heyman switches to a cold calculating voice. I’m to the point, where I almost don’t care that much about Punk/Ryback/Axel’s beef, but then listening to Paul Heyman on the mic makes me care.
CM Punk on the other hand, I feel, is spinning his wheels in this feud, biding time until the Lesnar rematch. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if we’re not getting that rematch in the near future, I’d love to see Punk interjected into the Show/Bryan side of things against the Authority.
Heyman’s promo was interrupted by the freshly turned, Big E. Langston, setting up Big E vs. Axel, which would in turn, set up Langston & Punk vs. Axel and Ryback. Langston would get the victory pinning the Intercontinental Champion, Axel with the Big Ending. I’m really excited, probably more than I should be, for Big E. Langston’s face turn. He looked good, fending off the pre-match attack by the Heyman Guys, and got the CM Punk rub in the tag team match. If they can tap into his sense of humor and his power style, WWE could have something with him. Should make a fine Intercontinental Champion come Sunday. FIVE.
- Daniel Bryan defeated Dean Ambrose to open the show in yet another 15-minute wrestling clinic, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Ambrose’s double thumbs to the eye might have been my favorite escape from Bryan’s surfboard submission. Please book these two to main event WrestleMania down the line, WWE. Please. PLEASE.
- Speaking of Daniel Bryan, really cool video package showing footage from his rookie year. I have some Shawn Michaels TWA footage at home, if anyone’s interested in that sort of thing we could have ourselves a YouTube feature. Get at me in the comments.
- Santino defeated Heath Slater. Comedy has a place in WWE. See, Los Matadores, El Torito, The JBL and Cole Show, 3MB, etc. I don’t even really hate comedy with Santino. But Comedy with the Great Khali. Not so much.
- Much like 90% of the internet, I can’t believe WWE missed calling it “King Cobra” rather than Elvis Cobra.
- Randy Orton defeated Dolph Ziggler in the second excellent match of the evening. Say what you will about Orton, not only is his character better as a heel, his in-ring work has drastically improved as a heel. I don’t have to tell you Ziggler was excellent as always, bumping his ass off for the Viper and reversing an RKO into a sweet dropkick.
- Concussions stink. They aborted Ziggler’s title reign and screwed up Fandango’s early debut momentum. What could have been…
- The Bella Twins defeat AJ Lee & Tamina in tag team Divas action.
- The Wyatt Family defeated The Miz and Kofi Kingston. Kofi Kingston died for our sins at the hands of a vicious Luke Harper lariat. I’m not sure if Bray Wyatt is the eater of worlds or if it’s that Harper lariat. Good lord.
- Kofi was at his best here, bouncing off of the big guys and eating that lariat like a champ. Kingston is a great hot tag guy and may do his best work in tag teams. Anyone seen Evan Bourne lately? Hell, Awesome Boom could even make face Miz tolerable.
- Why Bray Wyatt isn’t given a live mic for 20 minutes every Raw should be investigated as a crime? I could listen to him talk all day.
- Zeb Colter was on fire as well last night in his old stomping grounds of Memphis. First, he brought back the bullwhip. Second, his theory that El Torito is a prisoner with Stockholm syndrome. Brilliance. Dirty Dutch Mantell is feuding with a lucha mini in a bull costume. God Bless Wrestling. We. The. People.
- The Usos and the Shield #1 Contenders match went to a no-contest in another fine matchup, meaning we get a Triple Threat Match for the Copper Belts at Hell in A Cell. That’s a win-win. One gripe: it’s a little silly that the #1 Contenders the Usos had to fight for the contendership again without receiving their promised title shot.
- It seems the big two promotions are running a lot of similar angles right now. Womens champions with Pacific Islander bodyguards, Evil Authority Figures, and closing go-home shows with a contract signing. Tune in next week when Triple H puts a $50,000 bounty on Daniel Bryan’s head.
- Nice leather shirt, Show. Clearly raided from the closet of Triple H.