There were some still shots from the ending of Battleground. Raw began with Stephanie McMahon entering the ring for a promo. The announcers are Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Jerry Lawler.
Stephanie quickly called out Big Show to talk about what happened at Battleground. Show apologized for what he did, but he didn't seem like he meant it. She told him to man up and take responsibility for his actions. He said "man up" and asked if he could go now. She shoved him in the chest. Stephanie said they don't just own Big Show's home (they bought his mortgage), but they own him. Stephanie told Show to get down on his knees to beg the people for forgiveness. The fans chanted "no" at that idea.
Show said he knocked out Orton because he couldn't take it anymore. He knocked out Bryan because Stephanie told him to. Stephanie said Maddox was the one in charge, but Show told her that Maddox was their puppet. Show said he worked for her and her "son of a bitch" husband. He said "son of a bitch" there. Stephanie slapped him repeatedly. She fired him. Show left. He didn't seem that upset by it.
Analysis: The "son of a bitch" line really pissed off Stephanie, so that's why she fired him. I think WWE overdoes it with these storyline firing angles because if you do it every month then it loses its appeal. The audience doesn't really believe it. At least the portion of the audience that can think on its own. I liked that Show walked away with his head held high rather than as the crying giant he's been for the last month.
There's a six man tag later on Raw: Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. The Shield. Give them 20 minutes please.
There was a replay of Big Show getting fired. The announcers talked about what happened with JBL wondering what Show is going to do now.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow
It's a rematch from their kickoff match at Battleground. Sandow hit a knee to the ribs of Ziggler to take control of the action. Sandow was very intense early on as she shoved Ziggler through the ropes. Ziggler landed outside the ring for the vintage floor to commercial break.
Back from break, Sandow hit the Elbow of Disdain. Cole informed us that Big Show was escorted out of the building by security. Ziggler charged in, but Sandow threw him over the top to the floor. Sandow drove Ziggler head first into the steel post as Cole again mentioned that Sandow's more aggressive. Back in the ring, Ziggler made a comeback. Sandow bumped to the floor off a punch. Ziggler aggressively attacked him while they were on the floor. Neckbreaker and dropkick by Ziggler earned him a two count. Ziggler was on the top, so Sandow hit the ropes and Ziggler went crashing down. Fameasser by Ziggler got him the two count...no...it won the match. I'm so used to writing that it never gets him a win, but there it is. It went 12 minutes.
Winner via pinfall: Dolph Ziggler
Analysis: ** It was an average match. I was shocked that Ziggler won with the Fameasser because he never wins with it. They're doing the loser gimmick with Sandow in that he's losing all the time with the idea that he's either going to fail in a cash-in attempt or win the World Title via cash-in to make us forget he's been a loser for so long. I don't like that way of booking, but WWE has been doing it for many years now.
Stephanie McMahon approached Brad Maddox in his office. She went over everything that happened at Battleground and how she wasn't very happy about it. Brad tried to mention Triple H, but she cut him off and said Hunter's been out trying to fix this mess. She told Brad to publicly apologize and to tell the WWE Universe how he will make it up to them. He left.
Analysis: Stephanie really must enjoy this bitch character a lot. She's a natural at it.
During the commercial break on the WWE App, Bruno Sammartino was introduced to the crowd in Pittsburgh where he's from. He turned 78 years old yesterday. Why did they only do that on the App instead of during the show? I guess since it's on the show via replay that it's not a valid complaint. It's a three hour show, though. They could have made a bigger deal about it.
Alicia Fox, Aksana & Rosa Mendes vs. Natalya, Jojo & Eva Marie
First time in action for Eva Marie and Jojo. Natalya started for her team, but Eva Marie tagged in to deliver a rollup. Aksana slammed Eva Marie down by her hair. Rosa's now a blonde, for what it's worth. I liked the brunette hair better. I don't know what else to say. This match is going longer than I thought. Alicia tagged in and gave Eva Marie a slam. Alicia missed a corner attack, so Eva Marie tagged in Natalya. Clotheslines by Natalya followed by a body slam. Natalya whipped Alicia into the other girls. Discus clothesline by Natalya and then the Sharpshooter won the match for her team as Alicia tapped out. Match went about four minutes.
Winners via submission: Natalya, Jojo & Eva Marie
Analysis: Short match. Not very good. Jojo didn't even tag in for her team. That was for the best. If somebody isn't ready to do anything for a match why advertise them for it? Just make it a regular tag and put her outside the ring.
Raw GM Brad Maddox showed up on the stage. He apologized for what happened at Battleground and announced Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Title at the HIAC PPV in three weeks. The referee for the match will be one of three Hall of Famers that the WWE Universe can vote on. The first candidate is Booker T.
Booker T stood on the stage. He said he was the 6 time (repeat) World Heavyweight Champion and he'll do the right thing for the people. More importantly than that, he's going to do the right thing for business. He said he needs our vote. Now can you dig that, sucka?
Analysis: It's no surprise that they are doing Bryan vs. Orton again. The special guest referee idea is a good idea.
The announcers plugged the WWE App. Los Matadores are up next.
The jobber team known as 3MB was in the ring. Los Matadores and El Torito (the "little person" dressed like a bull) made their entrance.
Los Matadores (w/El Torito) vs. Jinder Mahal & Drew McIntyre (w/Heath Slater)
Diego and Fernando hit a double back body drop on Jinder. There wasn't much to the match. They worked together to hit McIntyre with their double back suplex finisher on McIntyre. It was two minutes of time I wish I had back.
Winners via pinfall: Los Matadores
Post match, El Torito went after Heath Slater. Los Matadores threw Slater towards El Torinto and he El Torito gave Slater a headscissors out of the ring.
Analysis: The little person dressed like the bull is a bigger star than the actual team. That's all I got out of this.
Backstage, Paul Heyman was shown walking with Ryback and Curtis Axel.
Earlier tonight, Stephanie McMahon fired Big Show.
Paul Heyman was in the ring with Ryback and Curtis Axel. Heyman called himself the best in the world because he's the only man that can make the claim that he beat CM Punk with both hands tied behind his back. He mentioned that Punk can legitimately say that he pinned Ryback at Battleground. He called Punk a cheater as they showed a picture of his low blow on Ryback that earned him the victory.
CM Punk's music started up and he cut a promo from the top of the ramp. Punk said he kicked Ryback in the balls to see if he had any. It should be noted that balls was bleeped while bitch wasn't bleeped earlier in the show. Punk said he would continue to fight them because that's what you get when you're a bully who picks on somebody that is smarter than you. Ryback said if Punk had any balls (also bleeped) he would have hit him there a long time ago. Ryback called Punk a bully and told him to walk to the ring so he can try to bully him right now. R-Truth ran out there to team with Punk. Referee Charles Robinson entered the ring so that it became a tag team match.
Analysis: They should keep Teddy Long on the shows just to come out to announce random tag matches like this. Even if he doesn't have any authority in the storyline it would be great. It's like Ron Simmons showing up to say "Damn" all the time.
CM Punk & R-Truth vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel (w/Paul Heyman)
Punk started with Axel. Truth quickly tagged in as he took it to Axel with a hard right hand. They went to break one minute into the match.
The heels isolated Truth in their corner. Ryback gave Truth a bearhug. Axel tagged in and hit a nice dropkick on Truth. Axel whipped Truth hard into the turnbuckle. Ryback drove Truth into the turnbuckles multiple times. The crowd wasn't into this too much as Ryback gave Truth a hard whip into the turnbuckles. This team loves whipping guys into the turnbuckle. Abdominal stretch by Ryback. First the bearhug and now this. It's heel offense circa 1985. Truth broke free by shoving Ryback into the turnbuckle and hit a jumping side kick. Punk fired up the crowd as they woke up. Big ovation as Punk received the hot tag at the same time as Axel. Clotheslines, neckbreaker, running high knee and clothesline by Punk. Flying elbow off the top rope by Punk. He knocked Ryback off the apron and dropped Axel with the Go to Sleep. Punk kicked Ryback in the head to knock him out of the ring. Punk tagged in Truth, who hit the Axe Kick on Axel to win the match after 13 minutes of action.
Winners via pinfall: CM Punk & R-Truth
Analysis: **1/2 It was a basic tag match that really picked up when Punk tagged in. His energy really helped things and led to an exciting finish. It was weird that the heels didn't really get any offense in after Punk's hot tag because usually you'll see a bit of offense at that point. Instead, it was over as soon as Punk got in there. I thought Ryback was going to get the win back on Punk because he lost at Battleground. Instead it was Truth getting the win on Axel because he lost at Battleground. That's how WWE books things. People win one night and lose the next.
Coming up next we'll see the second Hall of Famer that could be the special guest referee. Later it's that six man tag with Bryan, Cody & Goldust vs. The Shield.
The next WWE Hall of Famer that could be the special guest referee at Hell in a Cell is Bob Backlund. He was out there in the suspenders and bowtie. He said he loves us and he doesn't like saying "hell" so he didn't say the name Hell in a Cell. He doesn't care who wins or loses. He's going to do the job that is best for the match. If it gets out of control he's going to put that person in the crossface chickenwing. He told us to stand up straight when he addresses us.
Analysis: Holy shit that was pretty random and crazy. Typical Backlund.
Next match is Orton vs. Kingston. There was a match over three years ago that I will never forget when Orton yelled "stupid" at Kingston after he blew a spot. It was supposed be a punt, but Kingston got back to his feet and Orton dropped him with a RKO instead. Yelling "stupid" at Kingston repeatedly was unprofessional on Orton's part. Here's a video of that.
Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston
Orton was aggressive early on for the first few minutes. Kingston came back with a clothesline that sent Orton over the top rope to the floor. The announcers kept pushing the idea that Orton was more focused than ever because he's back to being more intense and vicious like he used to be. Kingston missed a cross body block attempt off the top rope. He rolled out to the floor for the vintage floor to commercial break. The crowd was dead for this match at this point.
Back from break, Orton gave Kingston his backbreaker variation for a two count followed by the dreaded chinlock of death. Kingston fought back and hit a chop off the middle rope. Orton hit a dropkick for two. Kingston came back with a tornado DDT off the ropes. Kingston hit the two boots in the face near the ropes and then a leaping cross body block off the top for two. Mild pop from the crowd for that. Kingston hit a SOS that looked a bit sloppy. Kingston went for a springboard attack off the top, but Orton countered with a snap powerslam. Very good spot. If it was a RKO right there it would have been even better. Orton wanted the DDT off the ropes, but Kingston gave him a back body drop out of the ring. Orton avoided an attack and capitalized with a clothesline. Orton gave Kingston a DDT on the floor with Kingston's feet hanging off the security wall. Orton rolled him back in the ring, hit the RKO and that was enough for the win after 14 minutes.
Winner via pinfall: Randy Orton
Analysis: **1/2 The match was good, but not great. I don't think anybody believed that Kingston had a chance, so that hurt the match in terms of crowd involvement. It's one of those instances where I think a five minute decisive win would have been better than going 14 minutes. I'm not all about the long matches. I want matches that make sense. Kingston barely got believable nearfalls (there was one), so they didn't need to go as long as they did unless they were going to give him more. Orton winning in quicker fashion would have helped him because he's been unsuccessful in WWE Title matches twice in the last three weeks.
After the match, Daniel Bryan entered the ring. He gave Orton a clothesline over the top rope and the Flying Goat dive outside the ring. They brawled around the announce table. Lots of "yes" chants of course. Several officials, agents and producers (Finlay! Noble!) showed up to break it up. Orton broke free and ran up the ramp to get away. Bryan chased after him, but that ended the scene.
Analysis: After that boring match we saw this was the right time for this kind of brawl because the crowd woke up with the "yes" chants as soon as they saw Bryan.
Six man tag coming up later.
Backstage, Vickie Guerrero was talking to some random dude when World Champion Alberto Del Rio showed up. She said Triple H invited her to Raw to make a special announcement. He thinks Vickie is going to name him the new face of WWE. He was hoping to have the night off, but he's happy to wrestle because they (the fans) need to see their champion. He sucked up to her by calling her respected, sexy, beautiful and intelligent. He gave her his scarf and kissed her on the cheek. He walked away while she wasn't impressed. She dropped the scarf.
Analysis: At least they had her say that Triple H invited her to be there since she's the Smackdown GM and shouldn't be on Raw. An explanation is always a good thing. It's a little thing, but it matters.
The third choice for possible referee for the Hell in a Cell match in three weeks? Shawn Michaels. Huge ovation for my favorite wrestler ever. The beard he had a few months ago is gone. Shawn said even though Triple H is his close, personal friend he's here to talk about business. He mentioned that he trained Daniel Bryan. He claimed that it would not let that sway him just like his friendship with Triple H wouldn't say him. When it comes to Orton he doesn't like him and Orton feels the same way. He told us to vote for "HBShizzle" and some fans started to chant it. He wants to be the special guest referee because he will guarantee that he will make sure there is a new WWE Champion. Shawn said he didn't care if it was best for business - he cared that it was best for us (the fans).
Analysis: It was obvious they would have Michaels as the third choice. I don't have a problem with that, of course.
The announcers showed a video demonstration on how to download the App on Android. It's not that hard! You've told us how to do it for many months now. Enough already. If people want the App they would have it by now.
There was another recap of Big Show getting fired.
Alberto Del Rio entered the arena for a match. Cole said RVD needs a break to take time off. He'll likely be back in the new year, I assume. Vickie Guerrero showed up on the ramp to announce that his opponent would be Ricardo Rodriguez. Ricardo was reluctant about it. Maybe he's just sad that he's been there for a couple years, yet he has no theme song after all this time. Poor guy.
The bell rang. Vickie announced that Del Rio will defend the World Heavyweight Championship against...wait for it...John Cena.
Analysis: Wow. I did not expect that. Cena is a freak athlete that is recovering from a torn triceps in two months instead of four months as we originally thought. It could just be an angle to announce his return, have him walk down the aisle and before the match even begins he gets taken out by somebody. I'm not sure if WWE would want to do that, but it's certainly possible. His name brings in viewers. No denying that. With Night of Champions and Breakdown both performing below expectations (the two worst WWE PPVs this year in my opinion), it's obvious that WWE wants to make Hell in a Cell a bigger deal by bring back Cena and having Michaels as a guest ref too.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Ricardo Rodriguez
This is not for Del Rio's World Title. With Del Rio looking at Vickie on the stage, Rodriguez kicked him in the back and then rolled up Del Rio for the win. It went about 10 seconds.
Winner via pinfall: Ricardo Rodriguez
Analysis: They just booked the World Champion to lose a non-title match in ten seconds. Now they should understand why fans don't care about Del Rio.
Post match, Vickie laughed at Alberto. Ricardo celebrated on the announce table, so Alberto tripped him up and Ricardo went down hard. Alberto gave him a kick to the head against the announce table and threw him into the steel steps. Alberto put Ricardo's arm instead of a steel chair, stomped on it and gave him the Cross Armbreaker. That's the same way he beat RVD on Sunday.
Analysis: They're building that chair spot up to be a big deal because Cena's coming back from a torn triceps, so the idea is that Del Rio's arm submission finisher is going to make it difficult for Cena to beat him. If they put the World Title on Cena it would certainly add to the credibility of that championship. Nobody else could make that title seem like a bigger deal.
They reminded us about the fan WWE app vote for Hell in a Cell referee again.
Recap of what happened with Del Rio before the break.
John Cena tweeted that he's back at Hell in a Cell. Even his girlfriend Boobs Bella tweeted about it, so I guess that's official.
Fandango (w/Summer Rae) vs. Zack Ryder
Fandango was in control early and then Ryder hit a missile dropkick followed by a forearm. Fandango slid out of the ring before Ryder could hit the Broski Boot. Fandango hit a boot to the face and then a neckbreaker using the ropes as an assist. Top rope leg drop to the back of the head by Fandango is enough for the win after three minutes.
Winner via pinfall: Fandango
Analysis: Raw is a three hour show that doesn't pay attention to building midcard feuds enough, so we get matches like this that nobody really cares about. Crowd was dead for it. They barely even dance for Fandango at this point.
The voting results for the special guest referee for Hell in a Cell was up next. Booker T, Bob Backlund and Shawn Michaels were standing backstage. The results: Michaels 61%, Backlund 32% and Booker T. 7%. No surprise there.
Analysis: It seems like a good fit to have Michaels as the referee due to his history of training Bryan and also being the best friend of Triple H. He'll certainly help the match feel like a bigger deal because I would expect a big promo next week or the week after as we get closer to Hell in a Cell. Backlund getting 32% of the vote is pretty funny. That speech was nuts.
Six man tag coming up later.
It's official for Hell in a Cell: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy in a Hell in a Cell match for the vacant WWE Title.
Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro (w/Zeb Colter) vs. The Great Khali & Santino (w/Hornswoggle)
Rematch from Battleground. Atomic drop by Santino on Swagger. Swagger overpowered him and brought in Cesaro. They did some tag team moves on Santino to keep him isolated in their corner. Khali got the hot tag and the crowd did not give a damn. I can't say I blame them. Khali hit some chops on Cesaro. Cesaro knocked down Khali by hitting a shoulder block on the knee. Giant Swing on Khali again just like he did at Battleground. It was incredible to watch again. He covered again for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winners via pinfall: Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro
Post match, Swagger brought in Hornswoggle so Cesaro could do the Giant Swing to Hornswoggle. Santino saved Hornswoggle with a Cobra Strike and Khali knocked Swagger out of there too.
Analysis: It was basically a replay of Battleground. Cesaro's one of the best workers in WWE yet all he has to do now is that Cesaro Swing spot. I don't mind it, but the novelty will wear off soon. He might turn babyface because of that spot too.
Titus O'Neil talked about breast cancer awareness by mentioning that his grandma passed away from breast cancer when he was 17 years old. Go to Komen.org/WWE for more info on WWE's involvement with the Susan G. Komen foundation.
The Miz was shown walking backstage.
The Miz was ready to welcome us to Miz TV when suddenly the lights went out and the Wyatt Family showed up. Best Miz TV segment already!
When the lights came back on, Harper & Rowan were in the ring. Miz ran up to Wyatt on the ramp and kicked him. Wyatt stopped the others from going after him. Wyatt just laughed at him as Miz went up the ramp.
Analysis: It looks like Wyatt has an opponent for Hell in a Cell as he sets his sights on The Miz. This segment lasted about three minutes. Pretty random, but at least it sets up a match down the road. Wyatt's targeting the people that the fans like. Good enough for me.
Backstage, Stephanie was talking to Brad in the office. Triple H showed up and said he just landed because he had a lot of work to clean up. Hunter told Maddox to stay there. He said he's going to personally make sure what happens is best for business.
The Shield made their entrance through the crowd.
This week on Smackdown it's Curtis Axel vs. R-Truth for the Intercontinental Title because Truth beat Axel in their tag match on Raw.
The babyface team made their intro. Triple H also entered to sit at ringside to watch the match.
Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins)
Cody showed good fire early on as he took it to Ambrose with a jumping side kick and a front suplex. Rhodes wanted to hit a moonsault, but Reigns distracted him and Ambrose shoved Cody outside the ring for a hard landing. That was the vintage floor to commercial spot of the match.
Back from break, The Shield worked well together to isolate Cody in their corner. Ambrose hit a running knee to the gut of Cody to keep him from making a comeback. They fought on the top rope, Cody gave him an elbow to knock Ambrose off and Cody hit a standing moonsault to take down Ambrose. That big spot allowed Cody to give Ambrose a back body drop and bring in Daniel Bryan while Rollins also was tagged in. The crowd exploded as Bryan unleashed on Rollins with a release German suplex. Corner dropkick by Bryan and then a Frankensteiner off the top for two. Reigns broke up the pin, so Goldust went after him. Goldust threw Ambrose out of the ring, Reigns knocked Goldust out and Cody took out Reigns with a Disaster Kick plus a clothesline over the top. Bryan gave Rollins a roundhouse kick. Ambrose went into the ring with a steel chair. The ref rang the bell as he called for a disqualification. Triple H said they're not going to have another indecisive night. He made it no disqualification.
All six guys started brawling as Bryan and Rollins continued in the ring. Bryan hit his Flying Goat dive outside the ring on Ambrose and Reigns. Bryan celebrated outside the ring when all of a sudden Randy Orton entered the ringside area through the crowd. Orton gave Bryan a RKO on the floor. He rolled Bryan into the ring and Rollins covered to win the match for his team after 13 minutes.
Winners via pinfall: Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins
Analysis: **3/4 Not as good as most Shield six man tag matches, but that's because the finish wasn't as clean as we usually get. It's all part of the story though, so I don't mind it too much. The crowd was on fire for everything Bryan did although the match could have used more of his energy. There were not as many usual exciting nearfall sequences that we typically get during Shield matches. I get why they didn't go that route. It just felt like a different kind of match.
Post match, The Shield attacked their opponents. Big Show's music started up. Even though he was fired earlier in the show his music started to play and he got his full entrance. That was odd.
Show went into the ring as Triple H stood behind Ambrose, Rollins & Reigns. The Shield attacked Show as Hunter took off his suit jacket and told them to finish Show right now. Show exploded with a lot of energy so that the Shield guys were knocked out of the ring. He stood face to face with Triple H and knocked him out with the KO Punch. Big ovation for that. Apparently not wrestling means that Triple H has forgotten how to block a punch. He did sell it well as a surprising move.
Show left the ring. Bryan stood over Triple H and chanted "yes" along with the crowd. Raw ended with Bryan leading the fans in "yes" chants.
Analysis: That was a great ending. The build up to Show knocking out Triple H has been there for over a month now. The crowd reacted to it like it was a big deal because that's the way it was built up. My concern is that the show was pretty boring leading up to it that fans may have tuned out before they got to see it.
My big concern with the ending is that Big Show was fired. Why is he getting an entrance? Perhaps they could say Vince McMahon re-hired him without Triple H knowing. I'm not sure what they're going to say to explain it or if they will try to explain it at all. Maybe they can't fire him after all because of the ironclad contract. I just hope there is some explanation about it.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Big Show
2. Randy Orton
3. CM Punk
5 out of 10
Last week: 4.5
2013 Average: 5.81
2013 High: 8.5 (August 27)
2013 Low: 3.5 (January 28)
Last 5 Weeks: 4.5, 6, 7.5, 6, 5.5
It was a below average show. The ending was pretty good because of how many weeks it took to get to that point, but other than that there wasn't anything too memorable about this show.
The announcement of John Cena returning at Hell in a Cell is a big deal. They treated it that way, as they should. I would keep him off TV until then. Not sure if WWE will do that, but it's a good incentive to get Cena fans to order HIAC.
I like the addition of Shawn Michaels (winner of obvious poll) as special guest ref for the HIAC main event match too. He has history with both guys, he's the best friend of Triple H and he took part in the first HIAC match with Undertaker in 1997 (one of my favorite matches ever).
I wish CM Punk was doing more. He's arguably the best performer on the show and to see him stuck in this midcard feud that isn't really going anywhere is a bit of a waste to me. It's a shame that Brock Lesnar isn't around to have more matches with him.
The Pittsburgh crowd wasn't very loud. Was it their fault or was it the result of the show being below average? I think it was a below average show, so that's why the fans didn't have much interest in what was going on. They did react favorably to guys like Bryan, Punk and Show, but most of the other babyfaces had a hard time getting anything from them.
That's all I have for this week. I'm not writing my Canton's Corner on weekends anymore due to a lack of time and it really wasn't getting the kind of reaction I was hoping for. Not sure when my next post will be. I will definitely be back with the Raw Deal next week, but I'm still going to aim for 2-3 posts per week too. It's a time issue at this point.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org