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