Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 7/16/12

Hot off the heels of Money In The Bank is tonight’s Raw, opening with a quick recap of the events from the PPV. Obviously, John Cena won the main event at MITB, and managed to grab the suitcase and guarantee himself a title match against CM Punk in the foreseeable future. Hopefully this doesn’t mean we’ll get a weird repeat of last years “Summer of Punk-WWE Style”, with the roles reversed and now somehow John Cena is the underdog again.  CM Punk enters at the top of the show and starts a promo declaring himself once again, as the Best In The World, and echoes his famous pipe bomb promo nearly a year ago. Not in the way where he was sick of the hypocrisy and the inability of the WWE to utilize its talent effectively, but in the general “I’m the best” sense, which is a bummer, because last year the people were really clamoring for the heart of Punk’s message. Some said that it was even the dawn of a new age of wrestling, called the “reality era”, but that’s pretty much gone down the drain in the last year. As much as I like Punk, he’s really over promised and under delivered when it comes to being an “Agent of Change”, as he claimed to be. Granted the focus has shifted for the better from the All-Cena-All-The-Time-Fest it used to be,but the fact remains that things haven’t changed dramatically as he claimed they would or should. I can’t blame him though, because he’s not the one in charge of the company, nor is he the biggest WWE monetary draw (Cena still is, unfortunately), who could have enough clout to order some legitimate creative changes. But I digress, after going on a bit about how he’s overcome all the odds he’s faced in his title reign,(echoes of Cena? A smart booker would play up this thematically if they were going to re-ignite the Punk/Cena feud.) Big Show enters the stage, and steps into the ring, mic in hand.

He’s pretty mad about losing MITB, and very politely, and eloquently says that if he had won, he’d cash in the contract, and take the belt immediately from Punk right then and there. Punk counters by pointing out that no matter how much destruction Show leaves in his wake, he loses, and lost again last night. They then argue about the fans, Punk claiming the fans respect him for winning, and Show mentions how fickle and forgetful the WWE fandom can be, and says that they don’t really respect Punk at all. While he does make an excellent point, Punk then tells Show off, and reminds us that Show, despite being very logical and consistent with his character motivation, is also ultimately a bitter man, who chokes when it comes to the literal main event. Show tells Punk that in their forthcoming match tonight, he will knock him out, and Punk could lose the title tonight to John Cena, who could cash in his contract.

I’m pretty sure I’ve made it known I’m not a fan of Kofi Kingston and R-Truth as champions, and I’m dying to see somebody with actual tag team presence and chemistry get the titles and give them actual meaning again. The Primetime Players have a simple gimmick, and their in ring ability is competent, and with time I’m sure they could build up to become a great team. My main problem with them, is that they totally don’t need AW. They made a point recently to tell us that he wears a mic at ringside, although I must have missed the reason why. I don’t know why we need to hear AW shout his Odin-Voice over the sound of everything else, because his comments are useless and inane. He’s loud, obnoxious, and not in an entertaining, good heel heat sort of way. Tag Team matches can be goddamned amazing, and while the presence of the titles being back and cared about is refreshing, they need to follow through and make us care about the division as a whole.

The match itself was a pretty by-the-numbers Kofi Kingston/R-Truth match, that was pretty boring to watch and mostly was there to only establish the Primetime Players as a force, and to develop AW’s douchey character further.

Backstage, we see AJ and Daniel Bryan talking about last nights MITB championship match. AJ says she called it down the middle, (which is more or less true), but then surprisingly, Daniel Bryan expressed seemingly genuine regret for how he’s treated AJ in the past, and admits he used AJ as a scapegoat, because he was so wrapped up in beating CM Punk. He comes close to confessing something to AJ, until Eve interrupts them, says that there will be a tag match between her, a partner of her choice, and Daniel Bryan & AJ. She then insults AJ, and leaves. AJ asks Bryan what he was going to confess, and he says it can wait until after their match.

A part of me wants him to admit he truly does love her, and wants her back, and then they’ll get married and live happily together forever, but then I remind myself this is goddamned wrestling, and hope he’ll just apologize, agree to be friends, and he encourages AJ to go take the Diva’s championship, re-christen it the WOMAN’S Championship, and retire the whole stupid “Diva” division forever. Let’s get some actually talented women in the ring, and have them wrestle for longer than 2 minutes at a time. Let’s keep the skimpy Diva outfits though, let’s not go crazy.

Alberto Del Rio lost his championship match last night, because Sheamus is riding hard on his current push, which still seems divisive between fans, and I’m sure I’ve hated on Sheamus enough in this column so I’ll just stop now and say BOO. Anyhow, ADR makes quick work of Zack Ryder, and submits him with the rolling cross armbreaker. He starts to go into his usual post match attack, until Rey Mysterio’s music comes on, and he runs into the ring. ADR starts stomping on him wildly, which made me giggle gleefully, because the thought of Mysterio returning to that big of a pop from the audience, only to get his ass kicked would have made my week. But my dreams often never come true, and Mysterio lands the 619 on ADR. ADR then quickly gets up from it, because the 619 is stupid, and he and Ricardo leave, walking together backwards up the ramp, shouting rebuttals to Mysterio. In a perfect world, ADR would be the World Heavyweight Champion, and we’d see him and Mysterio feud, with Sin Cara stuck somewhere in the middle. Luchador wrestling is awesome, and there needs to be more of it in the WWE.

Why they didn’t combine these into one, slightly longer youtube video, I’ll never understand.

Heath Slater’s favorite Raw moments are the last few weeks, which is appropriate, because those are pretty much his ONLY notable Raw moments. His fights with all the past WWE legends have been great moments of nostalgia, and have consistently been a bright spot.  When we return to the actual ring, Slater talks about how he knows someone is going to come out, and sure enough, Rikishi walks out. Which surprised the hell out of me, since, I genuinely thought he was dead. Seriously. I was shocked to see him walk out. Rikishi then superkicks Heath Slater, stink faces him, and then pins him with his ass. After a quick celebration, the lights go out, and when they come back up, the Uso’s, who are Rikishi’s kids, are standing in the ring with Rikishi. They then begin dancing, just like Too Cool and Rikishi did years ago. It was a fun moment, but I’m not sure you’d call Rikishi a WWE Legend just yet, nor was Too Cool such a long time ago that I would  wax nostalgia about it, but regardless it was entertaining.

Eve’s partner turns out to be the The Miz! I was surprised by this because I expected her to choose some typical “strong guy” like Kane or something. I’m so happy to have The Miz back it’s ridiculous you guys. Of course, as much as I love The Miz, he’s small fry compared to the True Best In The World Daniel Bryan. Miz gets the upper hand though, and tags in Eve. Eve puts AJ through a couple strong moves, wearing her down, until she turns things around on Eve, and goes for a pin, that Miz distracts the Ref from. After that, AJ kicks The Miz off the apron, and Eve attempts a roll up on AJ, but once again, the Ref is distracted by Miz, who tries to run into the ring illegally. While the Ref is distracted, Daniel Bryan rolls Eve and AJ over, reversing the roll up pin, and the Ref counts the pin before Miz can interrupt.

I actually really liked this match, despite it’s length, because seeing Daniel Bryan and AJ work together, in a smart, resourceful way, was awesome. After the match, Daniel Bryan grabs a mic, and begins to make his confession to AJ. He builds it up big, and confesses his love for her. AJ looks surprised, and troubled, but Daniel Bryan goes the full nine, and even presents her with a ring, and proposes again. AJ stands there, looking perplexed and worried, and Daniel Bryan slips the ring on her finger. AJ looks tearful, begins to nod, and accepts, saying yes, and they then kiss. The crowd seemed to hate this, which I don’t understand. I guess seeing a couple overcome their obstacles and problems to unite in the name of love is unappealing to them, but I found the whole thing really adorable. I’m kind of big softie when it comes to relationships and happy couples, so seeing both Bryan and AJ YES-ing together, joyfully, was refreshing and cute. Plus it was relatively short, unlike last week’s 20 minute plus Soap-Opera-Fest, so it was a good example of a romantic storyline getting wrapped up in a satisfying way. The part of me that wanted to see this, got exactly what it wanted.

Now, I’m hoping this isn’t the WWE’s way of putting the Bryan/Punk feud to bed, but if it is, let’s please see Bryan/AJ doing lots more together, but in the ring. They made a great intergender tag team, and them working together, to, I don’t know, let’s say: Win the Tag Titles and give women wrestlers something else to aspire to gain other than a purple and pink bedazzled belt with a butterfly on it, would be awesome. All in all, seeing AJ and Daniel Bryan overcome their past differences and working together, and potentially getting (kayfabe) married, was great. Let’s seem them satisfy that other part of me, that wants a legitimate Women’s division. I could make a gross joke about AJ satisfying any other parts of me, but she’s an engaged woman now, and I AM A MAN OF HONOR. I respect their fake love.

Ryback is now finally done working through nameless, faceless jobbers and is taking on more in-house jobbers. So of course why not have him take on the WWE’s resident in-house jobber, Jack Swagger? Swagger at first gets a good lead on Ryback, and nearly puts him in the ankle lock, but Ryback counters and then triple powerbombs him. The entire time however, the bell never rang, so the match never officially happened, so after Jack Swagger got Ryback’d, Ryback just started saying his catchphrase, demanding more succulent man flesh via the cry of “FEED ME MORE.”

In my mind, Ryback says everything this way. He’s like The Hulk:

“RYBACK WANT MORE MATCHES. RYBACK’S BICEPS NOT VASCULAR ENOUGH. RYBACK MUST PUMP FOR MORE TONE. RYBACK NEEDS PROTEIN SHAKE. RYBACK WATCH GLEE NOW.”

Yeah, In my mind, Ryback is a proud and out Gleek. He agrees that the first season was the best though, and it’s not nearly as good as it used to be. My mind-Ryback is weird. And a little gay.

Vickie Guerrero then announces Dolph Ziggler’s entrance, and he walks in, MITB suitcase in hand. He gets in the ring, and says that he’ll be the next World Heavyweight Champion, and starts saying how he’s better than Bret Hart, Stone Cold, and The Rock. The entire time, Vickie parrots key words from his promo, until he is interrupted by Jericho. Which makes sense, because Jericho HATES it when you start saying you’re better than anyone, because that’s HIS THING DAMMIT. Before Jericho can speak, Ziggler starts breaking down Jericho, saying he hasn’t won anything in a long time. He lays the insults on thick, and challenges Jericho’s assertion that he is the Best In The World At What He Does, saying all Jericho does is lose. All salient points by Ziggler, that really seem to get under Jericho’s skin. He continues taunting Jericho, until Jericho busts out a brutal Codebreaker on the Zig Zag Man. He then leaves without saying a word. He’s probably not returning to the silent, Troll-ey Jericho that he was when he first debuted, but it’s nice to see Jericho as a face again.

I forgot JTG was still employed by the WWE. Not to sound like a total smarky jerk, but how the hell is JTG getting Raw airtime, and Dean Ambrose is still in developmental territory? But whatever, this match is another in the line of Funkasaurus matches where we see a smaller wrestler hit Funkasaurus’ weak spot, which we all know is his knees. JTG spends a minute or two working on the knee, and Funkasaurus’ knee hurts him SO BAD until it suddenly doesn’t. Then he slams him, and lands a cross body splash, wins the match and starts dancing with a bunch of children they invited up into the ring, his knee having miraculously healed in mere seconds.

Earlier, Big Show said that after he defeats CM Punk in this match, John Cena could cash in his MITB contract and take the title from him, and then implied the fans would turn on Punk at this point. Now while I wouldn’t put it past Cena to cash in the contract this way, and try to play it off as him overcoming adversity and Never Giving Up™ somehow, I just think if that happened, people would be pretty pissed. I know I would be.

This was the only match of any significant length, and thusly the only one deserving of an actual description beyond “This guys wins”, because reading about it would take as long as watching it. So the match begins, and Punk approaches the match carefully, clearly picking his moves out thoughtfully, trying to find a way to gain the edge on Big Show. Show uses his size though, and tackles Punk repeatedly, stands on him, and generally makes Punk miserable. Punk fights back valiantly, and gets a breather after shoving Show into the ring post. He throws a series of hard kicks, but they’re ineffective against Show, who once again slams CM Punk to the ground, whips Punk around the ring, and slams him into the mat again and again. Punk, ever resilient, jumps on Show’s back, and slaps on a sleeper hold. Show counters it into a huge sidewalk slam, and attempts a huge splash, that Punk dodges. Punk starts to gain momentum by using the ropes, but Show counters again with another huge slam. He cocks up the WMD, but Punk ducks and throws 3 huge kicks at the back Show’s neck, and then follows it up with 3 more high knees to the head. A huge irish whip is countered by Punk, and Show goes down, Punk then climbs to the top rope, and lands his Macho Man elbow drop. Show kicks out, and then chokeslams him violently. Punk manages to get a foot on the ropes, and Show starts beating Punk in the corner. Show then assaults the Referee, resulting in a disqualification. Punk wins, but Show continues beating Punk. John Cena then runs in, with his MITB suitcase in tow. Show leaves the ring, and Cena grabs a mic.

Cena starts to mention that he’s got an announcement to make regarding his MITB contract. Show interrupts him, and taunts him. He starts talking about how the belt is Cena’s, encouraging him to cash it in now. Cena, being ever-predictable, says he’ll cash in the contract at the 1000th Raw. He goes on to say that his “huge announcement” was actually him hitting Big Show in the face with the suitcase. I mean, he doesn’t say that, he just does it. I don’t know how an announcement can be an impromptu attack, but whatever. It makes no sense, but seeing Cena and Punk hold up their respective trophies (belt and suitcase), was neat. The show ends on them agreeing to have their match next week, and fades into a promo for the 1000th episode of Raw.

So all achievements aside, this 1000th episode of Raw thing is going to be terrible. So far they’ve announced that it will have everything in it BUT wrestling.The only two confirmed matches are some vague IC title defense by Christian, and the WWE title match between Punk and Cena. Amongst that though, will be the return of DX, The Rock, Brock Lesnar’s stupid announcement, The Daniel Bryan/AJ wedding (that was fast), Charlie Sheen for some reason, and probably loads of other stupid, boring video packages and special guests. I predict 10 minutes of wrestling for that show. The rest will be 2 hours and 50 minutes of filler and uselessness. But hey, I could be wrong. At the very least, I’m looking forward to the Daniel Bryan/AJ wedding, because I’m a big baby. Other than that though… Well. I’ll try to remain positive.

I’ll try.

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