Monday, October 25, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 10/25/10 from Green Bay, WI.

The Big News: John Cena wrestled Randy Orton in the main event of Raw.

Show Analysis:

Nexus, including John Cena, came out to start the show. Wade Barrett seemed relatively happy and put over Nexus’ burial of the Undertaker. Barrett didn’t explain why Nexus did that and simply said they have their reasons. Barrett then reprimanded Cena for going after him in the title match. Cena pointed out that Barrett won the match.

The anonymous GM said that since Barrett won the match he is entitled to a rematch, but to maintain order there will be a special referee. The GM further announced the referee would be chosen by Randy Orton or Wade Barrett based on a match between Orton and a member of Nexus. If the goal of the GM was to maintain order, creating a biased referee would seem to be a poor decision.

Barrett picked Cena to wrestle Orton later in the show. I think Cena vs. Orton may be slightly oversaturated by this point. David Otunga then spoke up and was annoyed about Cena’s treatment of him at the PPV. Otunga wanted Cena fired. Barrett instead made a tag title match with Cena and Otunga vs. Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel. Barrett said Nexus doesn’t fight Nexus so someone would have to lie down. He teased Cena but instead ordered Otunga to. Otunga was angry but did it. Slater and Gabriel thus won the tag team titles. Barrett was very happy.

I did not think this was a good opening segment. If you want a title to seem meaningful, a wrestler ought to be in a bad mood after losing a title match. A wrestler ought to be in even worse of a mood after being screwed in a title match. Barrett, in contrast, was in a jovial mood by the end of this segment. If Barrett doesn’t care about not winning the title last night, it becomes harder to make the audience care about if he wins the title at the next pay-per-view.

Another tip for making titles feel important is that they ought to settle who the best wrestler, female wrestler, or tag team is. If the tag team titles change hands via one team lying down and giving the titles to another team, it is hard for the audience to invest in further title matches as being events of significance. WCW did this with Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan, and it turned out not to be a good idea for business. This is the sort of lesson WWE might want to pay attention to.

Further, a wrestling program is better if it makes sense. In this segment, Barrett simply decided to make a match on his own, and he was allowed to do so. It doesn’t make much sense that the general manager would allow wrestlers to make matches for themselves. That ought to theoretically be the job of a general manager. And if wrestlers can make matches whenever they want, one would expect wrestlers throughout the show to be announcing matches for other wrestlers.

Daniel Bryan beat Dolph Ziggler. There was no real explanation for Ziggler, Vickie Guerrero and Kaitlyn being on Raw. Guerrero complained about biased officiating in favor of Raw at the PPV. CM Punk came out and did commentary. He was amazing. He put over Daniel Bryan and the match throughout. He talked about how Shawn Michaels just took Bryan’s money but William Regal was his real trainer. He mocked Jerry Lawler for not knowing the names of moves. And he buried Kaitlyn and NXT.

Bryan used the Rito Romero special and followed with a dropkick, tope and kick to the head. Bryan went for a huracanrana off the top but Ziggler rolled through for two. Ziggler went for the sleeper. Bryan got out but Ziggler then caught him with a superkick. Ziggler’s zig zag attempt was avoided. Bryan executed a victory roll but Ziggler rolled Bryan back for two. Ziggler went for the sleeper again but was countered into the LeBell lock. Guerrero pulled Ziggler under the bottom rope but the referee didn’t see his foot and Ziggler tapped out.

This was a tremendous match. One thing I love about Bryan in WWE is that he uses a wide array of moves rather than settling into doing the same eight moves every match. It sure would be great if they let him wrestle longer matches on a regular basis.

Backstage, Santino did some comedy with guest star Toby Keith when Sheamus came in. Sheamus berated Santino and challenged him to a match. Santino reluctantly accepted. Elsewhere, Barrett told Cena that Barrett is still in charge and Cena is only employed because Barrett allows it. Cena was ready to quit, but Barrett told him to wait because if he beat Orton, Barrett would make him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Lay Cool beat Gail Kim and Melina. This was a very brief and uneventful match. Michelle kicked Melina in the head for the pin. The announcers plugged the election next Tuesday. Michael Cole labeled next Tuesday one of the most important elections in the nation’s history. I’d go one further. I’d say next Tuesday is one of the most important Tuesdays in the history of Tuesdays. Jerry Lawler advised fans not to wear WWE t-shirts to the election. I wonder why they would bring that up in their voting discussion given it only applies to the residents of one small state.

Miz and Alex Riley came out for what felt like a three hour segment. Miz put over himself and buried the other Raw wrestlers for the loss at Bragging Rights. He challenged Rey Mysterio to a match. Of all people, Eve Torres came out. She called Miz a long series of names. Riley said Miz could have beaten the rest of the Raw team by himself. That brought out R. Truth, who wanted to wrestle Miz. The GM made the match. Putting Eve Torres in a verbal duel with the Miz is like sending Robbie Lawler out for a verbal debate with Chael Sonnen.

Miz beat R. Truth. Riley interfered, so Eve slapped him. Truth hit a baseball slide on Riley and rolled Miz up for two. Truth missed the scissors kick and Miz gave him the skull crushing finale for the pin.

Santino Marella beat Sheamus. Toby Keith introduced the match. Sheamus was beating up Santino for a bit before John Morrison came out and tried to get the match stopped. Sheamus then went for a bicycle kick but Morrison pulled Santino out of the way and Santino covered Sheamus for the pin.

I did not like the booking of this match. It made Morrison look like the bad guy coming out and interfering in a match for no real reason. It wasn’t as if Sheamus had given Santino his finisher three times and refused to cover or something. He really had no justification for costing Sheamus the match, and it was rather patronizing of him to not even allow Santino two minutes to sink or swim for himself. Further, WWE would be better off if they created new stars. Beating Sheamus could potentially help to get over a younger wrestler, like Daniel Bryan a few weeks ago. Santino is established as a comedy jobber, and thus Sheamus lost this match without anyone gaining any tangible benefit.

Backstage, Otunga was infuriated with Barrett. He threatened to tell the world why Nexus really attacked Undertaker. Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty then walked in with Nexus shirts. Barrett said that despite their loss, he inducted them into Nexus anyway. Perhaps it would serve as a better introduction for new characters if they established themselves as a threat entering into a top heel faction rather than losing their first Raw match and being gifted into the group anyway. I would argue the former scenario would increase the likelihood of them getting over. Threatened by the numbers game, Otunga said he is still with Nexus.

John Cena beat Randy Orton via disqualification. Barrett snuck up on Orton on the outside but Orton turned around and punches him. Cena went for the FU but Orton got out and hit a DDT. Cena used shoulder blocks, the Cena slam and the five knuckle but Orton countered the FU. That sounds vaguely familiar. Orton went for clotheslines and a powerslam but had the draping DDT countered. Barrett went after Orton but Cena shoved Barrett out of the way. Cena hit a top rope rocker dropper for two. He went for the FU but Orton got out. Cena got the STF but Barrett pulled the ropes away from Orton so Cena broke the hold to go argue with Barrett. I’m not sure about that strategy.

Coming back into the ring, Orton caught Cena with the draping DDT. Cena countered the RKO and hit the FU for a two count. Orton hit the RKO but Cena rolled to the floor. Orton brought him back in and went for the punt but Barrett pulled Cena out of the ring and gave him a clothesline for the DQ. Cena vs. Orton does not feel fresh and the finish didn’t feel particularly satisfying.

Nexus beat up Orton after the match. Cena made the save and started attacking Nexus members until Barrett told Cena to stop. At some point, Barrett might want to order Cena to stop attacking Nexus members altogether. If I had the power to order Dave Meltzer to do anything and he kept driving down from San Jose to attack my friends week in and week out, I’d like to think at some point along the line I would think to order him to stop attacking my friends. Barrett then announced Cena as the referee for Survivor Series. Barrett said that if he doesn’t win the title Cena will be fired on the spot but that if he wins the title Cena will be relieved of his responsibilities to Nexus.

On the plus side, the stipulations announced here create a clever conundrum for Cena. On the down side, this is the second straight title match built around potential interference by a third party rather than conflict between the match participants. And it would seem to set up either an abrupt and anticlimactic conclusion to the current storyline or another reneged upon stipulation.

Final Thoughts:

I question the booking of this show. I think the writing consistently undermined the goals WWE ought to have as a company, and did a subpar job of creating interest in the Survivor Series. In particular, I think it is very difficult to convince people to pay money to see a match on pay-per-view when it is well established that matches rarely ever prove that one wrestler is better than another and instead mostly end due to interference, distraction, fluke, disqualification or miscellaneous nonsense.

Monday, October 18, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 10/18/10 from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The Big News: There’s a big pay-per-view coming up this weekend. Also, Bragging Rights.

Show Analysis:

Teddy Long came out to start the show and was booed. A reference to Smackdown also got booed. The anonymous GM sent in a message and was booed. The GM told Long to leave. Long ignored the anonymous GM and had the Bragging Rights trophy brought out. He pointed out Smackdown won last year. The anonymous GM told Long to get out of the ring or else, which proved to be quite the idle threat. Long took away the laptop and that was it for the anonymous GM on this show.

The Smackdown team came out one-by-one to the ring. Then Miz brought out the Raw team one-by-one. Ezekiel Jackson is the final member of the team, said to be picked by Miz. Raw and Smackdown got into a big brawl. The crowd was shockingly dead for this brawl. No one cares about Raw vs. Smackdown of course, but the big brawl with two clearly defined sides almost always gets a big pop. The crowd started chanting “We want Bret” in the middle of this.

Smackdown fought off Raw and Big Show challenged Miz to a singles match. Miz accepted. This was a really weak opening. The GM fighting was irritating, the prolonged team introductions were boring, and the brawl didn’t get over at all.

Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre beat Hart Dynasty. Hart Dynasty did the obligatory hometown job. The crowd chanted for Bret Hart some more. The heels worked over Tyson Kidd. David Hart Smith came in with a clothesline, leg drop and powerslam. They set up for the springboard Hart Attack but Smith dropped McIntyre into the sharpshooter instead. Smith and Kidd then got into an argument and McIntyre hit the future shock on Smith for the pin.

This time after the match they teased that Kidd is the one going heel. If they simply decided they are better off with Kidd as the heel and Smith as the face, that’s fine. But I sure hope the new idea isn’t to tease back and forth which wrestler is going heel so it’s a surprise in the end. That defeats the whole purpose of setting up a turn, which is to get fans gradually behind the new face or gradually against the new heel.

Backstage, Randy Orton and John Cena met. Orton told Cena that if Cena gets in Orton’s way, Orton has no trouble punting him. Cena said that if Orton tries, Cena will break off the leg.

Goldust beat Zack Ryder. This was one of those matches where they just get it out of the way as quick as possible to get to the next angle. Goldust won pretty much immediately with the final cut. Ted DiBiase attacked Goldust after the match. Aksana had the Million Dollar Title and Maryse chased after her. Goldust gave DiBiase the final cut.

Backstage, Wade Barrett told Cena he wanted him to test Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris. He ordered Cena to give them everything he has. Cena thought there was some catch. Barrett then told Cena to go get him a glass of water. Cena brought him the water and Barrett threw it back in Cena’s face. The Nexus guys all laughed at Cena.

John Cena and Randy Orton beat Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty. Cena went to town on McGillicutty early but the heels took over on Cena. Cena eventually got the tag and Orton came in with clotheslines, a powerslam and draping DDT on McGillicutty. Cena gave Harris the FU and Orton hit the RKO on McGillicutty for the pin. This was a good match but I don’t get the booking at all. If Harris and McGillicutty are joining Nexus, it’s pretty stupid to weaken them in advance. I mean, I guess that’s standard WWE protocol these days, but it’s not an effective booking formula.

After the match Cena was going to shake hands with Orton but Barrett told Cena not to shake hands and leave the ring. Nexus then surrounded and beat up Orton while Cena watched. Eventually Barrett told Cena to give Orton the FU but then with Orton on Cena’s shoulders Barrett said he didn’t want Cena to have the spotlight and had Cena put Orton back down.

Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero came out. Daniel Bryan interrupted. His gimmick continues to be that he’s a nerd. He said that he’s not a ladies man but even he could do better than Vickie. He continued with “If I could be serious for a minute,” which got a cheer from the crowd. Bryan said he can tap out Ziggler and proposed a match at Bragging Rights. Ziggler accepted. Ziggler then slapped Bryan and hid behind Vickie. Bryan chased after Ziggler and put him in the LeBell lock. A bunch of the women then came out to throw glitter on Vickie for no apparent reason. This led to Bryan dancing with the women so he could do a bunch of geek dance moves.

They continue to do a bunch of segments about WWE charity work in advance of Vince’s trial. Excuse me, Linda’s election. They also debuted a new “Stand Up for WWE” campaign trying to rally WWE fans against media bullies or something.

Natalya beat Alicia Fox in another of those nothing matches with the sharpshooter. Lay Cool came out afterwards and ran down Calgary and the Harts. Michelle put Natalya in the sharpshooter and Layla went to take a picture but Natalya countered and Lay Cool escaped.

Big Show came out for his match with the Miz accompanied by much of the Smackdown roster. Then much of the Raw roster came out with Miz. Teddy Long then changed their singles match to a battle royal for some reason.

Edge and Big Show won the battle royal for Smackdown. Hornswoggle attacked Michael Cole and took a headset. He then made random irritating noises throughout the match. He made this segment so much worse all on his own. Edge accidentally eliminated Jack Swagger and an angry Swagger pulled Edge under the ropes and applied the ankle lock.

The final eight were Ezekiel Jackson, Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio, Drew McIntyre, Cody Rhodes, Miz, Big Show and Sheamus. Ezekiel dumped Rey and then he eliminated McIntyre and Rhodes together. Show squared off against Bryan, Sheamus and Jackson together. Show threw out Bryan. Sheamus threw Jackson in for a corner avalanche on Show and I was having flashbacks to Akeem, Ted DiBiase and Big John Studd in the first PPV Royal Rumble.

Jackson then threw Sheamus into the corner but Sheamus ran into a Big Show elbow. Show dumped Jackson but Miz came back in and threw Show over the top with help from Sheamus. Show landed on the apron and as Sheamus and Miz went to knock him off Edge came back in with a spear on Sheamus. Show threw out Miz and Edge threw out Sheamus for the conclusion. Then, backstage Wade Barrett had John Cena raise his hand.

Final Thoughts:

This was a bad show on a number of levels. Most disappointingly, I thought the Orton/Cena/Barrett issue was working very well and this show they went home much more heavily on the Raw vs. Smackdown match which nobody could possibly care about given how often the wrestlers go back and forth.

Monday, October 11, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 10/11/10 from Seattle, WA.

The Big News: Raw’s team for Bragging Rights was put together.

Show Analysis:

John Cena came out to start the show smiling and happy before he began his serious promo. He received many more cheers than boos and the announcers disingenuously tried to explain that the scattered boos are because some fans are angry at Cena for joining Nexus. You could actually see a number of pro-Nexus signs, presumably to support Cena. That’s an interesting development. Cena brought up the never give up chant last week and said he would in fact never give up.

Cena said that he lost to Wade Barrett and he has to join Nexus. He added that if he is fired he will not be able to go to Smackdown. He didn’t explain why. He put over how he loves to perform in the WWE and doesn’t know what he would do without it. He said that he may have to do some things people don’t want to see him do.

Miz and Alex Riley came out. Riley has stopped wearing the letterman jacket, which is a smart move. They pointed out it was Miz’s birthday. Miz said he will captain Team Raw at Bragging Rights and offered Cena a spot on the team. Cena told some jokes and said he would like to be on the team but that he should be captain instead of Miz.

Wade Barrett came out and said he doesn’t care about Raw vs. Smackdown. He cares about Nexus and the title. Barrett told Cena his attention needs to be on getting Barrett the title. Cena said that he can do both things. They teased that Miz might cash in MITB at Bragging Rights.

The anonymous GM announced that he or she wants the best Raw team so there would be a series of qualifying matches to create Team Raw. All the matches on Raw except Randy Orton vs. Justin Gabriel would be qualifying matches. The GM further announced Cena vs. Miz to determine the team captain. A brawl broke out with Miz and Riley jumping Barrett. Cena stood by for a while until Barrett signaled for help. Cena then made the save and fought off Miz and Riley. Barrett got in Cena’s face after this, presumably over the delay in help.

I thought overall this was a solid start to the show. The one thing that drives me nuts is how every week they need to write in comedy for Cena no matter the situation. It undermines the seriousness of all his angles. If you want to make money with a serious main event angle, the main event face has to act like it’s a big deal to him. The jokes do such damage to that. There was only one Rock and he’s long gone.

R. Truth beat Ted DiBiase to become a member of Team Raw. Eve Torres was out with Truth again. DiBiase hit a clothesline and punches. Truth used a powerslam. DiBiase retaliated with a spine buster. DiBiase was going for dream street when, can you guess what happened? Why of course you can. Goldust showed up on the stage. DiBiase turned his back on his opponent to stare at Goldust. Truth then rolled him up for two and hit the lie detector for three.

This was a nothing match with a stupid, redundant, contrived and unbelievably predictable finish. These distraction finishes are among the dumbest things WWE does on a weekly basis. They don’t build interest in feuds. They don’t help the winner. They just make the loser look like a buffoon and matches look like phony contrivances. And they do it every single fucking week.

John Morrison beat Tyson Kidd to earn a spot on Team Raw. Morrison went for a tope but was countered with a kick. Morrison hit a dropkick and punches. He went for a springboard but Kidd countered with a side Russian leg sweep off the ropes. Kidd applied the sharpshooter but Morrison countered out. They went for a series of pinning attempts. Morrison then hit his impressive reverse flipping STO thing for the pin. This was a fun match.

Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris met with David Otunga, Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel backstage. The current Nexus guys wanted to know the deal from the future Nexus guys. Barrett walked in and said if they want to know they can ask him. He told McGillicutty and Harris to leave and confronted Otunga about his comments to Cena last week. Barrett suggested they take out Randy Orton. Otunga said he would but that Gabriel might be the better choice. So Barrett said Gabriel would face Orton with Slater and Otunga in Gabriel’s corner.

Santino Marella beat Zack Ryder to qualify for Team Raw. Ryder hit some knees. Santino countered the Rough Ryder and hit the cobra for the pin. The crowd was really into Santino. Tamina came in afterwards to celebrate with Santino.

Randy Orton beat Justin Gabriel. David Otunga swung at Orton and missed so the referee ejected Otunga and Slater from ringside. Poor Slater. Talk about guilt by association. Orton hit a dropkick and stomps. Gabriel used some sloppy kicks and a somersault senton off the apron for two. Orton hit punches and a European uppercut where the timing was off. Gabriel came back with a jaw breaker and low dropkick. However, Orton then fought back with a back breaker, clotheslines and a belly to belly throw.

Gabriel went for the 450 and was supposed to have missed but he caught Orton solidly as Orton was rolling out of the way. Orton just went ahead and hit the RKO anyway for the pin. These two didn’t seem to be on the same page at all and the match was a huge disappointment despite getting a lot of time.

Sheamus beat Daniel Bryan in a qualifying match for Team Raw. Bryan got a nice reaction in his hometown area. There were Daniel Bryan chants early. He went for the LeBell lock but Sheamus escaped. Bryan went for a pescado but was caught by Sheamus. Bryan escaped the situation and clotheslined Sheamus into the post. Sheamus hit a back breaker and throw to gain control. Bryan used a series of kicks but Sheamus kicked out of the pinning attempt. Bryan hit a dropkick off the top for two.

Sheamus hit a cool looking ax handle to the head and Bryan took a flip bump. Sheamus followed with some knees but Bryan used a rollup for two. Sheamus then caught him with a bicycle kick for the pin. This was a very good match. I wouldn’t book a champion to lose to a guy who isn’t going to be wrestling for the title, but the match was laid out to make Bryan look as good as possible under the circumstances. Backstage, R. Truth told John Cena that he knows Cena is in a tough spot. He suggested Cena quit. Some friend.

CM Punk beat Evan Bourne to join Team Raw. They announced Punk was acquired from Smackdown. He got a face pop coming in. It kind of undermines the brand vs. brand gimmick when you have a guy on one team that just arrived on his show. Bourne hit kicks and a high knee. He went for a huracanrana on the outside but was thrown into the barricade. Punk missed a knee and Bourne used a spinning heel kick and reverse thrust kick. He went for the shooting star press but Punk crotched him and hit GTS for the pin.

This was a good short match. After the match Punk attacked Bourne some more. He threw him into the barricades and the post and applied the anaconda vice on the outside. So that’s the injury angle to take out Bourne. Punk looked good here in his Raw debut. I really hope they involve him in top of the card programs.

Natalya did a brief promo in the ring saying she will win the women’s title from Lay Cool. Lay Cool came out and made fun of Natalya’s appearance. They did one of those Photoshop deals with Natalya having her father’s beard. Natalya called them annoying, dumb and too thin. Lay Cool was happy about the weight comment. They said all the other women respect them. That brought out other women who sent Layla back into the ring. Natalya put her in the sharpshooter but Michelle pulled Layla out and they escaped into the crowd.

Miz beat John Cena in a no-DQ match to retain the Raw captaincy for Bragging Rights. Alex Riley attacked Cena a couple of times early. Miz went for the skull crushing finale on the announce table but Cena avoided it. Cena beat up Riley and hit the shoulder blocks, Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle. He went for the FU but Miz escaped and hit a kick to the head. Cena went for the STF but Miz escaped and hit a back breaker/neck breaker combination.

Miz went to hit Cena with the briefcase but Cena ducked and applied the STF. Riley ran in but Cena put him in the STF. He went for the FU on Miz again but Harris and McGillicutty ran in. McGillicutty hit the McGillicutter (they need to change that name now that he’s in a real program on a real show) and Harris hit the senton. Miz covered for the win.

Cena went after McGillicutty and Harris following the match. Barrett went to pull off Cena and Cena almost hit Barrett. The GM then announced McGillicutty and Harris vs. Cena and Orton next week. Barrett said if Cena loses Harris and McGillicutty will be in Nexus. He told Cena to do the right thing. Barrett mocked Cena about not being able to hit him. He said Cena is scared. He called Cena a coward and pathetic. Cena was seething but didn’t do anything and eventually left. Barrett said “you can’t see me” and laughed at Cena to end the show. Barrett was great here as the overbearing heel.

Final Thoughts:

This was the best in-ring episode of Raw in a while, with a series of matches that were generally given time and were quite good on balance overall. The Cena/Nexus angle also seems to be working well.

Monday, October 04, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 10/04/10 from Wichita, KS.

The Big News: John Cena helped Wade Barrett earn a title shot against Randy Orton at Bragging Rights.

Show Analysis:

The show started with Nexus. They received a really strong negative reaction. Wade Barrett pointed out that he won and Nexus is still around. He noted that the people who hit the ring last night were Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty (it pains me to type out that stupid name) but that they aren’t members of Nexus. Barrett then criticized David Otunga for encouraging the rest of Nexus to involve themselves in his match. Throughout the show they teased dissension between Barrett and Otunga.

Nexus brought out John Cena without music as the new member of the group. Michael Tarver presented Cena with a Nexus armband to wear. Cena teased this forever before finally replacing his purple armband with the Nexus armband. This struck me as silly but the crowd absolutely ate it up and was reacting huge. They showed a bunch of children in the audience looking depressed.

Heath Slater gave Cena a statement to read. The statement said that Cena is officially a member of Nexus and that any enemy of Nexus is an enemy of his. It concluded that Cena hopes his fans stand by him because you’re Nexus or against us. Barrett said Cena could pick his Nexus partner for a match and Cena chose Tarver. This whole thing came across cheesy and melodramatic to me, but it seemed to be getting over really well with the audience so props to them. Cena himself did a great job selling here.

Evan Bourne and Mark Henry beat John Cena and Michael Tarver. Cena shook hands with Bourne before the match and Tarver got mad at Cena for it. The faces worked over Tarver. Cena pulled back from the tag when Tarver tried to get it and eventually left the apron to sign autographs for fans. Henry hit the world’s strongest slam for the pin on Tarver.

Cena after the match said he would destroy Nexus from within. He hit Tarver with the microphone and slammed him on the ring steps twice. Michael Cole labeled Cena the ultimate nonconformist. Yeah, and I’m the ultimate astronaut. Cena went after Tarver’s knee and applied the STF.

I had two problems with this segment, but WWE ended up addressing both of them very quickly. First, it seemed silly to have Cena basically ignoring the stipulation of the PPV match right from the beginning. However, the GM sent an e-mail after this saying that if Cena didn’t start taking directions from Wade Barrett he would be fired. So this will be the hope spot at the beginning before Cena is forced to follow Barrett’s instructions for a while. The second problem was that it didn’t seem to make much sense that Nexus wouldn’t try to save Tarver, but that would be addressed later in the show as well. So good for them.

Natalya beat Alicia Fox in a very brief match. Natalya hit a clothesline and applied the sharpshooter for the submission. Backstage, Johnny Knoxville played a prank on Zack Ryder.

Elsewhere, Cena said he doesn’t know what to do. He saw Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty and gave chase, but they ran back into the dressing room with Nexus. Barrett told Cena they had something to talk about. WWE announced “Rocktober” on WWE Classics on Demand. I wonder if they’re aware of the “Brocktober” UFC slogan.

Daniel Bryan beat Sheamus via DQ. This was just a squash. Sheamus beat up Bryan really badly. Bryan got in no offense. Sheamus kept kneeing Bryan in the head until he was disqualified. Sheamus then hit a razor’s edge after the match. I wouldn’t make my US champion look quite so worthless, but WWE writers clearly have a philosophical difference on the subject.

Michael Cole in the ring said that the GM would be communicating via e-mail through Cole and no more computer voice. Cole was reading from a sheet of paper even more overtly than usual. The GM demanded an apology from Edge. Edge came out and called Cole the personification of stupid. He said he would rather listen to a recording of JR than live Cole.

The GM then sent an e-mail. He said that the winner of a 20 man battle royal later in the show would receive a title shot against Randy Orton at Bragging Rights. He further announced that Edge would not be in the battle royal because he has been traded to Smackdown. I wonder if they’ll ever announce who Edge was traded for. Edge was happy about not having to deal any more with the GM and Cole.

Michael Cole was agitated at this and said he should be treated with respect. Edge threatened Cole, which brought out Miz and Alex Riley to the rescue. Miz called Cole a visionary. Edge and Miz traded insults. Edge speared Riley but Miz gave Edge the skull crushing finale. Miz and Riley are a really good pairing. I’m ready for the end of the anonymous GM gimmick like South Korea is ready for the fall of the North Korean regime.

Backstage, Wade Barrett said that he had been looking to get rid of Michael Tarver anyway so Cena did him a favor. He said that Cena had to help him win the battle royal. Otunga suggested that if Barrett was eliminated, Cena should help one of the other Nexus members win but everyone blew that off. It’s good to see they’re streamlining Nexus like I’d hoped they would.

The Bella Twins beat Lay Cool. Lay Cool did commentary during their own match. I’ve seen this done a bunch of times and it’s never been this uninteresting. Michelle was covered for the pin. I don’t understand the finish at all either given Natalya is still apparently the top contender for the title and the Bellas bring very little to the table.

Maryse and Ted DiBiase thought that Johnny Knoxville was sending them the letters. DiBiase and Maryse were then hurt accidentally by Knoxville’s earlier prank. DiBiase pursued Knoxville to the ring, slapped him, and applied the million dollar dream. A graphic on the screen then said “you are mine.” Who should appear of all people but Goldust.

Goldust laid out DiBiase. He said that he didn’t want DiBiase and then that he didn’t want Maryse either. He wants the million dollar title. What a great payoff. Although I must admit I was hoping for Savio Vega or Rockabilly. I guess they want to feature Goldust more prominently given he has a book coming out at the end of the year. And he has gotten in better shape and improved his work. Backstage, David Otunga said that Wade Barrett can be demanding but assured Cena that he is there for Cena.

Wade Barrett won a battle royal over Zack Ryder, Primo Colon, David Hart Smith, Tyson Kidd, Justin Gabriel, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Santino Marella, Darren Young, R. Truth, Vladimir Kozlov, Ted DiBiase, William Regal, Mark Henry, Evan Bourne, John Morrison, Miz, Sheamus and John Cena. That lineup was really sad because it speaks volumes about what they have done to the midcard when there are only four semi-legitimate contenders to win. The match was really monotonous too.

Cena was together with Nexus. Sheamus dumped Bourne and Smith immediately. Cena got rid of Regal. Miz eliminated Santino. Henry threw out Ryder and Primo. Cena saved Barrett from Henry and Nexus eliminated Henry together. Cena threw out Otunga since he only had to help Barrett and not the others. Barrett got rid of Kozlov. Nexus removed Young. Morrison eliminated Slater. Cena saved Barrett from a bunch of people.

Morrison eliminated Kidd. Miz threw Morrison over the top but Morrison landed on the apron and pulled out Miz with his legs. Towards the end of the match Barrett would just stand in the corner with Cena protecting him. Truth got rid of Gabriel. DiBiase threw out Truth. Barrett eliminated DiBiase. That left Sheamus, Morrison, Cena and Barrett. Morrison eliminated himself by kicking Barrett on the apron and looked like an absolute buffoon in the process.

Cena hit shoulder blocks and the five knuckle on Sheamus. He went for the FU but was caught by a Sheamus back breaker. Sheamus missed the bicycle kick and landed on the apron. Cena then sent him off. Barrett told Cena to leave. Cena got in Barrett’s face but then climbed over the top rope and left. I guess he realized he can’t wrestle Orton for the title again. Orton then came out and got in Barrett’s face.

Final Thoughts:

This was probably the most eventful edition of Raw in a while. They shook things up and went in some different directions. There isn’t anything that gets me terribly excited but I think on balance it’s more interesting than what they had going.