I have hope. I have hope that after last night, the WWE is ready to turn the corner and start producing compelling television. CM Punk is back. Rob Van Dam is coming back. They pulled off the elusive double turn with Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler, which I fully expect them to solidify on tonight’s show. Plus another surprise pops up in the first 30 minutes of this episode, which I’m sure will be exciting for some people. Let’s roll!
I watch 30 minutes of RAW, leave for work, avoid spoilers like (and from) the plague, and then watch the entire show when I get here. That’s how ThinkSoJoE’s RAW reviews work. Also, I play by my own rules. Screw you, SmackDown review!
First 30 quick recap: RAW kicks off with Alberto Del Rio celebrating his World Heavyweight Championship, saying that for five months he did everything for the WWE Universe, and got nothing, but last night he did it for himself and proved he was the best. This brings out CM Punk and Paul Heyman. Punk says he’s out there because he heard Del Rio call himself the best, and that he should prove it by facing Punk in a match tonight. Heyman says Punk doesn’t fight for free. Punk stops him and says he wants a fight, be it Del Rio, or even Ricardo Rodriguez. Del Rio denies the request, but Vickie Guerrero overrides him, so it’s Punk vs. Del Rio later on. But first, it’s Wade Barrett vs. the new Intercontinental Champion, Curtis Axel – or so we think. After a backstage segment where Punk tells Heyman he doesn’t want him at ringside anymore (but he’ll always be a Paul Heyman guy), Vickie Guerrero says Barrett will eventually get his rematch with Axel, but first he has to face her surprise – Christian! Christian defeats Barrett in a short match with the Killswitch.
Later on, Daniel Bryan faces Randy Orton, and you – yes you – can choose whether it will be a No DQ, No Count-Out, or 2 out of 3 Falls match. I hate the fact that you can get counted out in no DQ matches now.
THE WYATT FAMILY ARE COMING! THE WYATT FAMILY ARE COMING! Punk is back, RVD is coming back, and the Wyatt Family are coming! Hope reigns supreme!
Rhodes Scholars are in the ring, and they are facing Sheamus. Yes, both of them. Guess who’s probably winning this one.
Team Rhodes Scholars vs. Sheamus (2-on-1 Handicap Match)
Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes get to be in the ring at the same time for this one. Sheamus is on the defensive for most of the early part of the match until Rhodes slaps him a few times. This fires up the Celtic Warrior, who teaches the kids to count with help from Cody Rhodes. He sets up for a Brogue Kick on Rhodes, but gets rolled up by Sandow, who picks up the three count! Holy fucking shit, Rhodes Scholars beat Sheamus! Then Sheamus, the STAR that he is, Brogue Kicks Cody after the match, much to the disdain of Sandow, who watches from the stage.
Vote for a bunch of crappy stipulations for Daniel Bryan vs. Randall Keith Orton later. Also later, will Mark Henry retire?
Rob Van Dam. The Whole Fucking Show. He’s back at Money In The Bank. And because one of the clips they use in the promo is of RVD dropkicking Jeff Hardy, my wife was hoping he was coming back too. He’s not.
Triple H is with Team Brickie backstage. She’s trying to do things to make Triple H proud. He thinks CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio is a great idea, but what was going to be the main event if CM Punk didn’t come back? He asks what took so long for Christian to come back since he was cleared for a month and a half. Also, RVD. Brickie argue over whose idea it was. Triple H says he made the deal with Rob Van Dam. He wants to talk about the Shield. He needs her to take control over them. She needs to make an example of them if they get involved in the show tonight. He tells her good job, especially putting 3MB on the show tonight. Calls it a stroke of genius. Brad Maddox doesn’t pick up on the sarcasm.
Last night at Payback, Daniel Bryan took out Randall Keith Orton on accident, and Orton let Bryan get speared by Roman Reigns on purpose. So they’re fighting tonight. Kane confronts Bryan backstage, who says he’s busy. He feels that Kane is glad he lost last night. Kane isn’t glad of anything. He thinks Hell No should give it another shot. Bryan says he doesn’t want to be a part of any team other than Team Daniel Bryan, Team DB. Which Kane says makes sense because he’s acting like a DB. Bryan says he needs to win the WWE Championship. Kane was thinking the same thing, he wants to win it too. Neither one of them know if this is it for Team Hell No. Kane wishes Bryan luck, which he misconstrues as a sign that Kane thinks he’s the weak link.
Now go vote for shitty stipulations for an awesome wrestler facing a mediocre, yet insanely popular for some ungodly reason, wrestler.
I found out who the mystery man is that keeps showing up in the SmackDown review. That has nothing to do with this, because this is RAW. So I’m not going to tell you who it is. It’s not MavenFan. MavenFan is far too busy marking out for Randall Keith Orton’s entrance. Daniel Bryan comes out and Jerry Lawler tells us what you voted for. You. Not me. I wasn’t home. I wouldn’t have voted anyway, because these all suck. You all voted for a No DQ match.
Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
The fans are clearly behind Bryan here, except for one girl in a Maven t-shirt. JT is seen in the audience holding up a sign that reads “I’m a figment of your imagination, right now I’m Fandangoing because I won at trivia.” The referee starts to count when they wind up on the outside. I hate that count-outs are a thing in No DQ matches now. G, on the other hand, loves it. It’s his second favorite thing behind non-title matches. Orton grabs a Kendo stick. Sandman is seen in the audience holding up a figment of JT’s imagination who is holding up a sign that reads “It’s a fucking Singapore Cane, dammit!” Orton attacks the ribs of Bryan throughout the match, and the doctor at ringside continuously checks on him, eventually calling for a stop to the match.
Orton helps Bryan up after the match. Bryan seems upset that the match was stopped.
Later on, CM Punk faces Alberto Del Rio.
We get a recap of Punk interrupting Del Rio earlier.
New WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee is seconded by Big E Langston as she makes her way to the ring. She says this is what it’s like to have it all. Ziggy couldn’t be here because he’s not medically cleared, but soon enough, he’ll share the spotlight with the greatest Divas Champion of all time, AJ. She says she’s always been the champion, now she has proof. Last night she made Piglet tap out, but she is the hero of this story. She is a woman who knows how to get exactly what she wants, an example to women everywhere. There’s not a woman in the audience, backstage, or in the world, who is strong, brilliant, and courageous as AJ is. And if there is anyone back there who thinks she can compare to AJ, AJ dares her to come out. Nobody takes her up on it – nobody except for Stephanie McMahon. Steph says there’s a line of Divas waiting to come out, but Steph wanted to come out first and say her piece. She congratulates AJ. Steph wonders why AJ perpetuates the stereotype that women will tear each other down instead of building each other up. Steph says it’s time that AJ starts acting like a Champion. AJ apologizes. She should act more like Stephanie – by marrying a Superstar. AJ says she is Stephanie, only younger and without the fancy pantsuit. Steph says AJ is the Divas Champion, but she can take that all away. If she wanted to, she could make it so AJ doesn’t have a job anymore. Kaitlyn leads a group of Divas to the stage. I recognize three. Stephanie tells Kaitlyn never to interrupt her again. Kaitlyn says AJ played her like a puppet and broke her. But now it’s Kaitlyn’s turn. She gets in the ring and assaults AJ. Big E Langston pulls AJ to safety and prevents her from getting back in the ring. AJ screams for her title, and when she gets it, she says Kaitlyn will never get it again. I’m really feeling these last couple weeks of Divas segments. Seriously.
Up next, it’s Kane vs. Dean Ambrose for the US Title in a rematch from Payback.
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kane – WWE United States Championship
So. Dean Ambrose defeats Kane, cleanly (by count out) at Payback, and Kane gets a rematch? Roman Reins and Seth Rollins get involved in this one and cause the DQ. Kane eats the Triple Powerbomb.
Mark Henry is backstage with the Prime Time Players and Tamina Snuka, he’s up next, apparently.
The Shield are celebrating backstage. Vickie stops them and says they weren’t to get involved. Ambrose asks what the “severe ramifications” are. She manages to utter the word “you’re” to Dean Ambrose before Vince McMahon walks in. He says it was a good match. The Shield remind him of himself, ruthless aggression. They leave, and Vince says he likes The Shield, and he’s never liked that “Halloween, mask wearing freak, Kane” anyway.
CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio happens tonight! And we see another Wyatt Family vignette, right now! And, as Jorge told me it did on USA Network, it cuts out on Sky Sports as well. Boo!
Zeb Colter comes out and tells everybody to open their eyes. The Government is spying on you. People still sneak across our borders, but to show that he and Jack Swagger aren’t prejudice, they’ve chosen to align themselves with Antonio Cesaro, who comes out and says “We the people.” He’s facing William Regal.
Antonio Cesaro (w/ Zeb Colter) vs. William Regal
This shouldn’t last long. Glad to see Cesaro getting some kind of storyline. He picks up the win with the Neutralizer. After the match, Cesaro holds up the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag and buries Regal under it.
John Cena is up next. As soon as they show him, I dose off. Seriously.
Cena is out, and we find out that Ryback is not cleared to wrestle after what happened at Payback. Cena says we’re all here because we love the WWE. Cena says his favorite WWE Superstar is the fans. He admires our honesty. I stop paying attention for a minute as I look up the Turnbuckle Tees CM Punk/Chicago Cubs t-shirt the dude in the front row is wearing. R.I.P. Turnbuckle Tees. Cena says he’ll take on any challenge anybody puts in front of him. He says after Money In The Bank, he’ll be ready and there will be no opportune time to cash in on him. The next person to hold the title, earns it. Mark Henry’s music hits, and he walks out, boots in hand. He sets them on the stage and walks to the ring. He shakes Cena’s hand when he gets in the ring as the fans chant “Sexual Chocolate.” He asks Cena to stay, because he’s got something to tell everybody. He respects everybody who loves this business. He was a seasoned veteran when John Cena came in, and Cena is doing an awesome job. The chant changes to “Thank You Henry.” He says he’d expect if they can forgive him, they’d remember the coat he’s wearing. ”Sexual Chocolate.” He tells Cena he’s going to be the greatest WWE Champion of all time, at the rate he’s going. Mark feels he’s done pretty well for himself. He’s out here to officially retire from the active roster. He gets the “One More Match” chant from the fans, and Cena hands him the WWE Championship. Mark has gotten to travel the world several times over. He’s a proud, proud man. He thinks his wife will see more of him than she wants to, and to his son and his little girl, who cries when Mark leaves home, “baby I’m comin’ home!” Cena steps in the ring to raise Henry’s hand, and eats the World’s Strongest Slam! Henry screams at Cena “You think it’s that easy? I got a lot left in the tank!” He tosses the title at Cena as the crowd chants “You still got it.” At a guy who just wrestled a few weeks ago. ”THAT’S WHAT I DO!”
You know, I was skeptical for a while, but toward the end, I was actually convinced that Henry was retiring. Kudos, WWE, kudos.
Still to come, CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio.
Before the break, WWE genuinely surprised me.
Mark Henry is walking backstage when Renee Young stops him. He says he had us all fooled, we’re all a bunch of puppets. The only title he’s never held is the WWE title, and he’s challenging John Cena for it right now. He’s got two boots, because he’s going to leave one of them in Cena’s rear end.
3MB are in the ring! Jorge is seen in the ring with them playing air bass before security throws him out. “FIVE IS ENOUGH!” yells the security guard. Chris Jericho comes out, and it’s apparently him vs. Heath Slater.
Heath Slater (w/ Jinder Mahal & Drew McIntyre) vs. Chris Jericho
Mahal distracts the referee, McIntire nails Jericho, but Slater only scores a two count. Jericho picks up the easy victory with the codebreaker. The rest of 3MB attack, but each eat codebreakers as well.
Paul Heyman is with Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel, when Matt Striker asks Paul Heyman about CM Punk. Heyman tells him to ask about Curtis Axel, the man born to be better than perfect.
Miz is on commentary and Curtis Axel is facing Sin Cara. Fun.
Sin Cara vs. Curtis Axel (w/ Paul Heyman)
Shouldn’t last long, but FFW! Axel wins with a sick DDT.
Punk vs. Del Rio to come!
This Friday, it’s Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose, or at least he’s scheduled to. Vince McMahon tells Brickie they’re doing a good job. He asks what they’re doing about Mark Henry. They say he’s getting a title shot at Money In the Bank. Stephanie comes in and contradicts everything Vince says. Triple H comes in and asks about The Shield. He says she needs to start listening to him. Vince says to listen to him and she’s good to go. Stephanie says not to listen to either one of them. She knows who to listen to.
CM Punk is backstage when Paul Heyman catches up to him. Paul thanks CM Punk for everything. Says he loves him, and gives him a hug.
Punk makes his way out to the ring, and we’re set for action.
Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. CM Punk
I’m having a hard time watching this. It’s pretty good but I’m exhausted after the previous 2 3/4 hours. RAW is too long. Meanwhile, the announcers say that Daniel Bryan suffered a stinger in the match earlier, and will be ready for Ambrose on Friday. I’m tired, so FFW! Punk hits the GTS, but Del Rio rolls out of the ring. Ricardo helps him up and the referee counts Del Rio out. On his way out of the arena, Del Rio is assaulted by Dolph Ziggler! Ziggler chases Del Rio out of the arena as Punk is announced as the winner – but instead of Cult of Personality, we get Brock Lesnar’s music, and Lesnar is in Grand Rapids! He gets in the ring and grabs a microphone. He feins going to speak, and nails Punk with an F5, leaving the former WWE Champion lying to end the show.
Thoughts: Too damn long, otherwise a solid show. Things are getting better, my friends. See you Sunday for Cock Talk!
Tags: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Del Rio, Dolph, Entire Show, First 30 Minutes, Free Punk, Intercontinental Champion, Killswitch, No Dq, Paul Heyman, Randy Orton, Raw Reviews, Ricardo Rodriguez, Rob Van Dam, Vickie Guerrero, Wade Barrett, World Heavyweight Championship, Wwe Raw, Ziggler