The WWE had a lot to give us with the go home to SummerSlam. I haven't thought that the WWE has done the best job with their PPV this year. Honestly, I think the WWE has really dropped the ball this year with the PPVs, and only really picked things up with MITB. I thought MITB was the best PPV of the year, but now they have something to live up to. Add on that SummerSlam is one of the big four and the WWE has a lot on their plate this week. All that being said, I thought much of the build to SummerSlam was better than much of the Road To WrestleMania. Most of the feuds and storylines going into SummerSlam are leaps and bounds stronger than most of what we've seen this year (and big parts of last year), and because of that I think SummerSlam could be seriously sick!
Today was that day of the month where I travel all over Maine for a variety of appointments (over seven hours driving), so I'm later than I'd like to be, and I'm a bit brain fried, so I offered up Jesse some segments of the RIB. Any segments he wrote will be headed in his name and will be in italics. Make sure you give Jesse the love he deserves for helping me out this week, and don't forget that he is the one who makes sure WNW Predicts is up these days, as well as writing his Smackdown Breakdown, being on top of the Open Thread Parties for RAW and Impact, and writing for the sister sites. The man is crazy busy writing and doing all he can for our sites, and he really has only been around for six months. Huge props!
Bryan vs Barrett > B+
I could complain that we saw this match previously, and very recently, or I could say that Maddox changed it up so much that it was worth watching. I'm not going to say either. I thought this was a seriously solid match and that Bryan brought out what I know Barrett has, but hasn't been able to show us in a very long time. I don't know why Barrett isn't getting over, but he isn't. I wasn't a Barrett fan from the start, I didn't like him winning the first season of NXT, because I thought it should be Bryan, but I have been a Bryan fan for so long. I honestly haven't been a Barrett fan except just before his elbow injury. He just seemed to have something special going on, and I really thought he was going somewhere, then he was injured. For some reason Barrett's elbow injury is one of those that are visually burnt into my head, more than so many, and I think it's because I knew I was seeing the end of something special. Barrett hasn't gotten that something special back, but this match was a huge step in the right direction, and it's because of that, and not Maddox changing things up, that I thought this was a solid match. (There's a new NXT article series coming soon from a bunch of us writers over on WWENews.net, so stay tuned!)
Winner – Barrett (5:25)
Orton vs Sandow > B+
I think this match was strong for both of the men in the ring, not so much for Cody. I don't know what's not working for him, but it's not working. Sandow working with Orton was a great step for him, and he rose to it. I loved watching this next step for Sandow, and how well he and Orton worked the ring together. The ring work was tight, and it didn't feel as though we were watching Orton hit the same moves, even though he really did. Sometimes shaking things up with different wrestlers can make something old look very new again. I enjoyed watching this match, and how they ran the ring for that length of time and kept me captivated. Now they have to figure out how to make the same work for Cody and Sandow!
Winner – Orton (13:47)
Backstage Segment > A
Normally I wouldn't say anything about this because nothing was said in this segment, but I can't not say anything – for a number of reasons. First off, RVD isn't 22 any longer, and that he can still sit in a split between two chairs like it's nothing just shows how flexible RVD still is, and that he's still got it. And event though this is about the WWE, it really showed me how TNA truly dropped the ball with RVD. I know it would get old seeing RVD splitting between two chairs before each match, but I cannot think of the last time I saw RVD doing that, and it sure wasn't in TNA. I'm glad RVD has bounced back into the WWE, it's the right place at the right time.
Backstage Segment > A-
First off, after what seems like forever, we finally got to hear The Shield talk again! And while it wasn't as crisp as some of their other promos in the past, you can tell that they truly felt what they were saying. And while I thought that the transition with Cole talking about Ambrose and then it suddenly cuts to Ambrose talking was poorly done, the fire behind Rollins' words immediately sucked me in and focus my complete attention on him. And I can agree with Rollins that the older guard needs to make way for the rising stars that are quickly coming up the ranks. And The Shield are truly the emergent leaders of this new generation. Then Reigns surprised me, as this was simply one of his best promo segments since he was called up. He reminds me of someone else, but I just can't place my finger on it. And then Ambrose came in with the passion and fire that he exudes in almost everything he does. And that passion burned as he talked about Punk and Cena and declared that he and his US Championship were the real WWE Champions! This is how you bring relevancy and prestige back to a title, by treating it as if it were on the same page as the major titles.
Backstage Segment > D+
With the prior Brock Lesnar video, this little interview segment felt really lackluster and contrived. Yes, we know all about Heyman and Punk's “match” later on in the evening, but in reality this did nothing but to waste some time and energy that could have gone anywhere else in the show. The only saving grace was the fact that it was relatively short. Normally I don't mind a verbose Punk, but the show was already feeling slow by this point and this segment helped grind it to a crawl.
Mixed Tag Match > F
Wow, where to even begin with this god awful train wreck! I know us fans in the IWC expect a match involving Khali to be horrendous, but for once it wasn't his fault. First, we got Big E. in the Goldman Box. While that wasn't too bad in of itself, as Big E. did decent considering how green he is on the mic, it helped set the tone for what was to come. From the time Natalya came in the ring and started her offense on AJ Lee, something looked off in every single move. And while I would love to attribute it to ring rust on Natalya's part, if you watch Total Divas you know that she is constantly working out and training new people. When she charged AJ into the corner, she dropped her too early. Her kicks looked weak and barely touched AJ. And while she looked good taking bumps from AJ's moves, it wasn't enough to save this atrocity from what was to come. And that was the finish to this match. Natalya locked in an excellent Sharpshooter on AJ and all seemed to be going well when she just released it. Mind you, Richard broke it here on Premium what was supposed to happen there, but I can't fault AJ on this one at first. Natalya released the hold too early. And even though AJ tapped, albeit too late, the ref of the match Marc Harris felt it necessary to keep the match going for “realism's sake”! Come on, I know he is a relatively new ref, having only been on the main roster a year, but “realism” isn't a requirement when something that horrid happens in the ring! And Natalya only made things worse by going over to have her hand raised! We finally got her to lock in the Sharpshooter again and this time I can say that AJ waited around to tap out. Nut in the process of this, Natalya nearly released it too early again! But I want to know whose bright idea it was to have her go over the current Divas Champion here in the first place. First, this was a mixed tag match, the same match type that AJ and Big E. will be competing in at SummerSlam. It only makes sense to have the team that will be competing at a PPV in the same match type to go over. Second, why didn't the men get any ring time? I am most certainly not a fan of Khali's ring work, as I'd rather watch someone go through the stages of the Ebola virus before watching him in the ring, but for the men to not get any time in there seems wrong on so many different levels. Third, why have Khali give Big E. a Brain Chop after the match was over? You just buried someone who is going to be on your PPV! Gah! It's illogical booking like this that makes me want to scream in Creative's faces!
Winners – Natalya & Khali (3:41)
In Ring Segment > C+
The only thing that saved this segment for me was Trip. Normally I loves me some McMahon pulling puppet strings, and Maddox wasn't terrible here, but the whole thing ran too long and felt really flat for me. I was so thrilled when Trip came out, got the fans riled up. I spent this segment cutting and pasting Maddox saying basically the same crap over and over to McMahon, and it almost put me to sleep as I was writing it word for word. Not a good thing for anyone involved.
Kane vs O'Neil > B-
I adore Kane, I don't think anyone doesn't know that at this point. I think Kane is right up there with Nash and Foley when it comes to the sexiest men in the industry – with, or without the mask (though not as Dr. Yankem) – and because of that I fully admit that I'm absolutely biased when it comes to Kane, his ring work, character and storylines. All that being said, I thought this match was quite rough, and not what I wanted to see Kane doing on the go home to SummerSlam. O'Neil has come leaps and bounds since he was in NXT, but that doesn't mean he's looking solid in the ring yet. O'Neil looked sloppy in the ring, and that's not good for Kane in this go home show.
Winner – Kane (1:50)
In Ring Segment > A-
I didn't split this off during the RAW Results, but it deserves it here, because it was sick! This is the go home that Kane needed! That segment was so artfully constructed to make everyone involved – okay, maybe just Kane and Bray – look stellar, and they both hit it perfectly without even coming within 30 feet of each other. I cannot wait for their match at SummerSlam, though I wish they hadn't gone as PG as they have with this.
Backstage Segment > D
I really am not impressed with the Divas lately. I know people are liking Total Divas and what's going on with them, but I'm not one of those people. Okay, I'm liking Total Divas more and more, but the segments with the Bellas and Natalya feuding on RAW are blowing! I will say that I like that Brie is stepping up as the leader of the twins, it feels stronger with one of them really showing her attitude over the other, but the other Divas around them are really coming off as crap around them. Brie and Natalya weren't terrible here, but Eva and the Dactyls were just lame! Hopefully things pick up in a big way. And I've been holding back saying this, but it sucks seeing the best wrestler on the roster with one of the Divas with the least wrestling skills. I know relationships are nothing like what we see in the ring, but I find it very odd that the best and one of the worst are together – though that has nothing to do with who they are as people, and if they're happy, I'm thrilled.
ADR vs Kofi > B
This might shock some of you, but I didn't hate this match. Like Orton's match earlier with Sandow, it's amazing how different things can look when you put someone with a routine in the ring with someone different. These two have worked the ring together a lot, yet something different came out of ADR here. He didn't spend the entire time going after Kofi's left arm, therefore the match was automatically so much more interesting. On the other hand, something about Kofi is really boring right now. Since his return from his elbow surgery, he just hasn't had that thing that made Kofi so much fun to watch. He was someone I have always been behind, but right now I'm not feeling a good reason to cheer for Kofi Kingston.
Winner – ADR (6:11)
Video > A-
I loved that video for Christian, and while I know a lot of his career was with Edge, I would love for Christian to be respected for who he is as a singles competitor, the way Edge has, because they were great together, as well as apart. I worry that them showing this video might mean it's the beginning of the end for Christian.
Backstage Segment > B+
Christian has grown and developed into someone I love watching. I wasn't a Christian fan back in the E&C days, but I am now, and I hope this isn't his last hurrah.
The Real Americans vs Usos > B
Love him or hate him, Zeb gets the fans riled up, and does a great job of talking for Swagger and Cesaro. Zeb is doing what neither Swagger or Cesaro could do for themselves on mic, exactly as a manager should. But after that, I have to agree with Ziggler, the Usos have to get out of the ring with Swagger. I'm more and more impressed with the Usos each week, and it's nice watching Jon on Total Divas with Trinity. I have to say the Uso boys don't yet have that sexy that their father exudes – he looked right into me when I met him, and that deep voice, I was a puddle! The boys don't have that yet, but I think that's more my age talking than anything. It's kind of wrong to melt over the father then look at his boys in that way. But what the Uso boys do have is the ring work, and it's sweet to see them throwing in move that remind us of Rikishi. I hope that at some point soon we see Rikishi make an appearance with them. I think it would be a great storyline for Rikishi to come back and talk smack with Zeb. That could really tie things together.
Miz TV > A
The chemistry on Miz TV was sick! That's what I expect from the WWE Champion and #1 Contender going into a big four PPV. Those two men left it all out there, and Miz made facial expressions through it all. While Cena said a lot of the same things, he also brought some of himself into it talking about Dakota, the Make-A-Wish kid he met earlier that day. I have said numerous times how much I respect John Cena, and what he does for kids, so I won't go there, but I will say that Cena had me in tears because it was so obvious how much he really does care about kids. I've also talked about Bryan and how much he's grown, and how I didn't think that he had this much personality and charisma back in the day, but he sure has shown me. This was just a great segment, and I think the time that Cena and Bryan spend together because of the Bellas has helped make their work together that much better.
Fandango vs R-Truth > B
I think Fandango and R-Truth could do a lot for each other. I didn't even think of them feuding, but now that I've had a tiny taste of them – and in the Battle Royal – I want so much more! Jesse commented about how R-Truth hair is thinning and that he's going to look like Ron Simmons. I need to look into this a bit more and get back to you on that one.
Battle Royal > B
Ah, a battle royal! It's been a good while since we had one on Raw other than for the Divas! In fact, the last one was on the 2-20-2012 edition of Raw to determine the Number One Contender for the WWE Title. Honestly, this is one of the most illogical matches to be conducted in WWE, as the big men should be the ones who win due to their size. But for all of the problems that are inherent with the match type, there are always excellent things that occur during these matches. We saw the further beginnings of a possible feud between R-Truth and Fandango (So much for the Kofi feud teases from last week!), Kofi pulled out yet another amazing spot that I thought for sure he was going to end up eliminated on, and we saw RVD seize the opportunity to challenge for his first title since coming back to WWE. And that would have been just fine in of its own self, but then the Hounds of Justice further fueled the fires they lit earlier on in the evening by doing what they do best: stalking their prey. And right when it seemed like they were going to strike, we got the return of the Big Show! So we got two matches set up for SummerSlam in one shot. While I hate that this is yet again WWE's tendencies with last minute booking, I know that the Shield will turn it into a 5 star pair of matches. Plus, we got the smiling lug that is Show back! Yay!
Winner – RVD
Heyman vs Punk >
I really didn't think they were going to pull this off. I didn't think there was any way they could handle this in a way that worked so close to SummerSlam, but they did it. Not only did they push the feud between Heyman and Punk forward, but they also made Punk look strong and viable going against Brock, something they hadn't done yet. I still think they've booked themselves into a corner and have a lot to dig out of Sunday night.
I just saw a SummerSlam commercial that I had to stop the DVR, wait for everyone in the room to stop talking about genetics and being left handed before I could start the commercial again. There was no way I was going to miss this. The first thing that caught my eye was Prime Time Players eating corn on the cob, and thought it was something else before I saw SummerSlam pop up. I went back to watch the whole commercial and almost fell on the floor laughing at Daniel Bryan Danielson in short pants with 'scouts' around a fire yelling "YES!" "YES!" "YES!" for Kane who got the fire going. The Bellas didn't do much for me, but then I realized tat Ziggler and AJ were together at a carnival in the last segment. To me this is the WWE dropping the ball. Ziggler and AJ broke up quite a bit ago, so I have issue with them being together on a PPV commercial. The same could be said for Bryan and Kane, yet they didn't feud after Team Hell No broke up, so it doesn't bother me as much. I think the WWE really dropped the ball on this commercial as anyone watching who knows what's going on in the E will know just how off the Ziggler and AJ relationship is there.
Queen of WNW and The Bastion of Logic and Reason
KB & Jesse