And now, the review that’s more Van Helsing than Wolverine, it’s…
The 242 Raw Review!
WELL! That was, uh, certainly a pay-per-view! You can’t take that away from it!
I have to say, I didn’t have huge expectations coming into Night of Champions, so I can’t say I’m all that disappointed. We got a Mark Henry clean victory over Randy Orton (talk about a lifetime achievement award), the WWE title back on one of the only two people who should hold it for the foreseeable future, and a thirteen-man battle royale consisting of thirteen Sin Caras. Ok, that last one was a lie. It was only twelve Sin Caras. And it might’ve been a dream (as in, most awesome dream ever not involving Christina Hendricks).
But really, what I cared about was the furthering of the Punk/HHH/conspiracy saga. And this may surprise you, but I’m sort of saddened that my pre-show prediction, though admittedly a little wishy-washy, was pretty much on the ball (right down to Kevin Nash). First of all, the fact that I sort-of correctly predicted something means that there’s probably a meteor headed toward my house. Second, I like being surprised, and I really wasn’t, at all. Third…it didn’t give me that “OH MY GOD I HAVE TO WATCH THE AFTERMATH ON RAW!!” feeling that I hoped it would. But, since I have a job to do, and since I’m still a little curious as to what kind of shenanigans CM Punk is going to call HHH out on, fuck it all, let’s do a motherfather Raw review!!
CM Punk! (EXPLOSIONS!!!)
Mr. Punk, who lost his clusterfuck of a match against HHH last night, starts the show by limping gingerly down to the ring. He explains to us that The Miz & R-Truth were right, there is a conspiracy going on in the WWE. And I think he’s right…my inside sources tell that the ENTIRE SHOW might be scripted.
HHH!! (GREEN AND BLACK EXPLOSIONS!!!!)
Of course, Lemmy Kilmister interrupts CM Punk mid-sentence, meaning it’s (still reigning) COO time! HHH starts things off by announcing the main event at Hell in a Cell…CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena in a triple-threat HIAC match! Just in case you forgot he was still a face.
Mr. H then publicly acknowledges that a conspiracy is indeed afoot, but re-affirms to CM Punk that he has nothing to do with it. Punk concedes to this point, and claims that someone is playing the both of them by using their “real life” hatred (that’s probably totally false, but fun to pretend). Leading to the arrival of…
Johnny Ace. (tumbleweeds)
…this guy, the only true heel in all of this mess. Punk accuses Ace of being the mastermind behind this whole conspiracy, while Ace turns around and “fires” Punk. HHH cuts him off right there, reminds Ace that he answers to HHHIM, and promises that he’s going to get to the bottom of this.
Oh, and he also promises that someone’s getting fired tonight. In case you were thinking of changing the channel, and all.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the WWE’s awesome show for rockstars lately, and I wouldn’t normally describe myself as cynical, some things within this storyline are starting to bother me. Mostly, what is this conspiracy exactly? At Night of Champions, it looked like Ace was trying to help Punk win…until he texted Kevin Nash, who promptly came in and destroyed everybody. Now we see Ace try to fire Punk? I could sort of understand this if the conspiracy was really a power play by Ace to become COO, but even then, why did Nash decimate both guys? Why did he interfere at SummerSlam, for that matter? Who sends a text to themself? Who leaves their cellphone behind when they’re wearing a suit with pockets?
I still hold out hope that everything will be explained in an “OOOOH!!!” revelation moment, but I have to admit, my hope is waning a little. The cynical side of me says that there’s no clear roadmap to where they’re going (or if there was, it’s changing on the fly, for whatever reason…and Nash’s health is not a reason because if they can plan at all they saw that coming)…it sort of looks like they’re throwing out chaos and chalking it all up to this “conspiracy”, because “conspiracy” has become the buzz word (and Punk’s supposed to be anti-establishment, and all that). But ironically, conspiracies are just the opposite in nature, they are organized, often to a fault. Sure, they don’t want to make anything obvious, but even then, nothing shocking happened at Night of Champions. This entire storyline is becoming less compelling as we go, and is getting a little harder to defend. But like I said initially, I hold out hope…I can’t tell you how often I’ve felt this way, only to have the WWE slap me two weeks later and say “hey look, we’re awesome, you’re an idiot for doubting us”.
So, for now, I’m just chalking up the conspiracy to “we don’t really know what the purpose is, just that it’s there”. A little weak (it’s much more fun to try and guess who’s behind a conspiracy, rather than trying to figure out the conspiracy itself), but it’ll do.
I also have a semi-gripe about the “firing” thing…but I’ll touch on that later.
Air Boom, Justin Gabriel & Sheamus vs. McGillotunga, Wade Barrett & Christian
And we go from a bunch of dudes talking, to more than twice as many dudes fighting! Yay!
This match starts off with the face team performing some nice high-flying moves, integrated into quick tags (for everyone except Sheamus, as you may guess). Deciding that this is far too entertaining, McGillotunga take control of the match, showing us all how boring offense can be. The heel team continues to beat on Evan Bourne, until Sheamus gets the hot tag, and goes bananas (Irish bananas, if you will, which I believe is a hard-to-find flavor of Bailey’s). Chaos breaks out, causing all men to vault outside of the ring, Sheamus goes berserk again and finishes Otunga with the Pale Justice…I mean High Cross…I mean Celtic Cross…I mean Razor’s Edge. All the while, he maintains eye contact with his new foe Christian, as if to send a message. I think that message goes something like “see this guy here, Otunga? He totally sucks compared to you. Let’s get a drink after this fella”.
WINNER: Sheamus over Otunga via finisher that changes name every 2 weeks
Alberto Del Rio vs. John Morrison
So, the point of this match was two-fold. One was to show you that ADR’s pissed off, he means business, and he’s actually pretty good. The other is to show you that John Morrison has officially been de-pushed for now. I’m starting to think that the only way Morrison holds a major title is to get drafted to Smackdown, then wait another 10 years for his “sympathy run” (see: Christian and Mark Henry).
The Third Reason Was So That Del Rio Could Vicious Hump Morrison For Some Reason.
WINNER: Alberto Del Rio via squashy cross armbreaker
Hugh Jackman (who seems too big a star to be on Raw) comes out, and the fans actually seem pretty happy to see him, which is nice of them. He plugs his ridiculous looking movie (and you can tell he’s a great actor for doing that with a straight face), until we get the “EXCUSE ME!” interruption, which of course means Vickie Guerrero. And where there’s Vickie, there’s Dolph.
Vickie flirts with Hugh (wait, wasn’t she just angry?), to the objection of Dolph, who talks down Jackman and proves once again that he’s pretty damn good on the stick. Wolverine says that he’s going to do what he did in his movie…find an underdog to fight Dolph, and win (wait, didn’t that spoil the movie?)! The fans immediately recognize that this means Zack Ryder (no quarrel here), and Jackman confirms this by grabbing a “RYDER > WOLVERINE” sign (um, he knows that he’s Wolverine, right?). And I can’t get over how awkward it would’ve been had they decided to go with Hornswoggle instead of Ryder.
I’m not normally high on guest spots on Raw. I always feel that they’re cheap advertising ploys, I never truly buy the celebrity as a WWE fan, and I dislike that they usually degrade into cringe-worthy comedy segments. But even though the first two points were true in this case…Hugh Jackman was actually pretty good! He got what the show was about, knew exactly what to do, played the crowd like a champ, and it was entertaining. Nothing to complain about at all.
And, holy fuck, he will never stop looking like Wolverine. Much like I will never stop looking like John Morrison mixed with Brad Pitt.
Sin Cara vs. Cody Rhodes…kinda
So, I’m all psyched for this match (while trying to figure out which Sin Cara is in the ring), when ANOTHER Sin Cara comes out! WHO IS THE TRUE SIN CARA!?!? Both masked men start doing some wrestling moves, which is a wise plan, because the true Sin Cara will be the more botchy of the two. Having resolved nothing after a few spectacular flips and such, one semi-defeated Sin Cara leaves, and apparently the Rhodes/Sin Cara match is over and forgotten about. I will just assume Cody Rhodes won.
WINNER: Cody Rhodes, cuz he’s rad and he likes Zelda, and is probably another Sin Cara
The Miz & R-Truth confront HHH
“Doop Doop Doop, Getting Some Coffee, Doop Doop Doop It Sure Is Good.”
In case you have not heard, Truth & Miz were busy at the PPV, beating down referees and interfering in the main event (which, funny enough, was the only non-title match…what does that tell you?). Knowing they were in a heap of trouble, the duo apologize to HHH personally, hoping to avoid a pink slip. HHH chooses not to fire them, but instead hands out a comically hefty fine, and books them in a match against Punk and Cena later in the show.
CRISIS AVERTED!! Or is it?
JR talks to Mark Henry
…yeah, nothing can go wrong here.
Mark Henry (who actually looks great with the belt) goes on his tirade of how no one believed in him, including JR, and asks JR to apologize on everyone’s behalf. JR apologizes, stating that Mark Henry proved him wrong…then for some reason Mark gets pissed off and chokes JR with his tie (damn, if history predicts, I guess Mark Henry’s the one being fired tonight). Lawler (who can actually take the bumps) comes in for the save, but is decimated by Henry, ending with a World’s Strongest Slam through the announce table.
While Henry’s always going to be a little slow, he’s never been bad on the mic, and it’s sort of cool how he’s finally become that destructive monster that we all knew he could be. The victory over Orton, although surprising, couldn’t have been better for him…not only because of the title reign, but for the first time in awhile he actually feels like a legitimate threat. He feels borderline unstoppable. We need mosters exactly like this, so I for one am happy.
Kelly Kelly & Eve vs. Natalya & Beth Phoenix
There’s something about the Divas entrances that has been unintentionally entertaining as of late. Kelly comes out in a Cleveland Indians jersey (which would make sense, except she’s from FLORIDA), seemingly for no reason except to get some sort of crowd reaction (didn’t work). The Divas of Doom then come out with one of the most awkwardly hilarious entrances ever…they walk down to the ring, get on the ring apron, STARE AT THE CROWD (as if they have no idea what to do), then enter the ring. Seriously…that’s not even the default create-an-entrance in the video game.
“Psst, What Do We Do Now?”
When Beth and Natalya turned heel, I sort of expected them to legitimately dominate the Divas division and expose what a joke it was. There would be multiple purposes for this…one, it’s always a good idea to admit when you’re doing something wrong (like with the Divas booking), two, it would fit into this whole “reality” paradigm going on, and three, it would give the division a seemingly unstoppable threat that would keep people interested, and eventually create a “dragonslayer” type hero (which could’ve been anyone they wanted). Instead…the Divas of Doom have been booked to lose at every opportunity (and this match was no exception). I can’t fault them completely, because it’s interesting in the sense that no one expected it, and it’s helping to make Kelly look a little more legit (even though her wins are all flukey, she’s showing some ring prowess in her last couple matches). But at the same time, it still doesn’t add a ton of depth to the division…instead of Kelly looking strong, the Divas of Doom are just starting to look weak, and I’m sure that wasn’t the intention. I’m also not sure where they go from here, beyond a predictable Eve heel turn.
Par for the course in Diva land.
WINNER: Eve over Natalya via roll-up
Zack Ryder vs. Dolph Ziggler
Let me start off by saying that Ryder had HUGE support for this match, and this was probably the match that gained the most attention from the crowd all night. That spells good things for both participants, and credit to Hugh Jackman for performing his role like a boss.
The match was brief but entertaining, with Dolph (who may be the most exciting wrestler in the company) carrying Ryder (who’s fun, but has overrated in-ring prowess) throughout. Vickie and Jackman were both active, with Vickie getting thrown out after a slap to Ryder, and Jackman giving Dolph a stiff-looking punch leading to Ryder’s victory. Holy fuck…did I say Ryder’s victory!?
WINNER: Zack Ryder via Wolverine assist (just like in Marvel vs. Capcom!)
I have to admit, I kind of thought Ryder sucking was part of his charm, but I also can’t fault the WWE for giving the hot guy a bit of a push (he’s more suited to a high-profile midcard feud that Riley right now, for example).
The US title scene is actually interesting at the moment. Not only is the guy holding it in a perfect position (secretly bringing credibility to the belt), but there’s a ton of directions they can go. Who’s the next feud? The recently officially-Vickie-ized Swagger (and what does that look like)? Zack Ryder? Alex Riley? Someone else completely? It’s really starting to feel fun, as the mid-card title should.
For the record, I’m predicting that Ziggler loses it to a face (like Ryder), Swagger gets the rematch instead of Ziggler, and wins the title back for Team Vickie, adding to the tension and eventually blowing up into the inevitable feud.
Cena & Punk have some words backstage
I was waiting for this confrontation tonight, and as awesome as it sounds…it just didn’t come off as awesome. Cena went in a Cena-esque ramble about respect and teaming up but then having a battle at the PPV, while Punk just sort of stood there notably muted. I would’ve liked at least one smarky comment directed at Cena, and I was sort of hoping for one to screw this other in the upcoming match, but alas…faces have to be friends sometimes.
The Miz & R-Truth vs. CM Punk & John Cena
Miz & Truth rock out with the Weird Al version of “What’s Up?” entitled “You Suck!”…which is cool except Miz can’t keep rhythm at all. But whatever…apparently I Suck. Cena & Punk come out separately to pretty good reactions (including some shots of two very young kids in Cena gear who don’t seem to have any idea what’s going on or that they’re Cena fans), and things get underway.
Most of this match was Cena getting beaten up, and Punk almost ironically begging for a tag. Cena finally overcomes adversity (imagine that!), and gets the tag to Punk, who (despite being barely able to walk earlier in the night) goes nuts (he’s kind of a fun hot tag, actually) and finishes the match with the GTS. Although a formulaic match, Miz & Truth looks pretty good and continue to have great chemistry as a team (including a pretty funny running gag throughout the match where they obnoxiously refused to cheat, in fear of repercussion).
WINNER: CM Punk over The Miz via GTS
But wait! Someone’s gotta get fired right? Well, immediately after the match, Motorhead hits, and the COO comes out to wish Miz & Truth the best in their future endeavors. This causes the duo to rush HHH backstage, and they eventually get thrown out by the rest of the WWE locker room.
This Dramatic Recreation Brought To You By DJ Jazzy Jeff.
To be quite blunt, “firing” people has been run into the ground, and while it’s still mildly interesting in terms of storyline, it’s lost much of its edge. No one expects Miz & Truth to be away for long (if at all)…which is fine because they’re entertaining, but not fine because it further cheapens the “firing” thing. But then again…I’d ask my cynical self, does firing need that much of an impact? We already know it’s merely a plot device…and that really hasn’t changed since the Attitude Era. And hey, it even still works in fooling us sometimes (many people bought that Kevin Nash was really gone…although to be fair, the plausibility of that case was about as high as you can get). Regardless, although the firing of these two seems to be out of the blue, it’s going to add yet another wrinkle to the “conspiracy”, and I have a feeling that it’s all going to get connected somehow. More or less connected, anyway.
And I have to say, if that’s true, I love the inclusion of Miz & Truth, rather than this being the Punk/HHH/Laurinaitis show. Just think, Truth is absolutely insane…but it’s looking more and more that he was right all along!! I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to make end up making him a face in all of this!
Anyway, all in all, a solid show, and it should be considering that there’s only two weeks until Hell in a Cell. That’s not much time to build, so strap on tight and enjoy the fast ride.
Announce Team Comments
Oddly enough, when Cole lost his voice at Night of Champions, it made me realize how naked King and Booker sounded without him. I don’t think we’d have that same problem with just King and JR (obviously), but it did actually make me appreciate him a little more. Matthews made a good save when JR & King had to leave, and worked with Cole to end the show seamlessly.
Promo of the Night
Hugh Jackman segment w/ Dolph & Vickie
Match of the Night
Sign of the Night
“Kelly Kelly is champ”. I’m going to bring a sign to the next show saying “The sky is blue”, or “Mice are rodents”.
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