Monday, September 26, 2011

WWE Raw Report

Date: 09/26/11 from Kansas City, MO.

The Big News: Hell in a Cell is so dead as a pay-per-view attraction.

Show Analysis:

Booker T replaced Jerry Lawler on commentary for this show alongside Michael Cole and Jim Ross, due to Lawler’s injury suffered last week.

HHH came out to the ring and said that he fired Miz and R. Truth for attacking WWE officials and an insincere apology. He said that he knew he was going to fire them but used them for one last match before firing them. He then announced Mark Henry was fined $250,000 for attacking Jerry Lawler. HHH said he will always do what’s right for WWE, even if it means firing a friend like Kevin Nash.

Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler interrupted, with Ziggler complaining about being punched by Hugh Jackman. He claimed to have a hairline fracture of the jaw but he can still compete. HHH mockingly offered Ziggler security when the Muppets are on Raw next week. That brought out Cody Rhodes, who complained about being hit with the ring bell by Randy Orton. HHH told Rhodes to suck it up and get his revenge like he did when he feuded with Orton. Christian was the next to come out and he complained about Sheamus involving himself in Christian’s match Friday. “It was a lumberjack match, idiot,” HHH replied. That was funny.

Christian threatened to file a lawsuit unless HHH gave him one more match. So HHH announced Christian vs. Sheamus at Hell in a Cell, Christian vs. Orton on Smackdown and Christian vs. John Cena on Raw in a non-title match. HHH further announced Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder for the US title on Raw. He then gave Rhodes the night off, but Rhodes kept talking back until HHH ultimately made him defend his IC title in a 10 man battle royal.

Cody Rhodes won a battle royal to retain the Intercontinental title. Drew McIntyre was the first wrestler eliminated. Sin Cara 2 pulled out Sin Cara 1 and went into the match himself, but he was then quickly eliminated so both Sin Caras were out. Sheamus dumped Alex Riley and Justin Gabriel. Ezekiel Jackson took out Daniel Bryan and John Morrison. Sheamus and Jackson then squared off with Sheamus getting the best of it. Rhodes eliminated Ted DiBiase. Jackson threw Rhodes over the top but Rhodes’ feet didn’t hit the floor and he pulled down the top rope to eliminate Jackson when Jackson charged at him.

Sheamus went for the razor’s edge on Rhodes but Rhodes got out. Christian came out to distract Sheamus. Sheamus missed a Brogue kick and then basically climbed over the top rope on his own. Rhodes went to knock Sheamus from the ring apron with his face mask but Sheamus avoided it. Christian then went after Sheamus. Sheamus kicked Christian off but it gave Rhodes the chance to hit Sheamus with the mask for the elimination. Christian posted Sheamus after the match. I’m not a fan of the idea of putting a title on the line in a battle royal but at least there wasn’t a switch under that scenario.

Backstage, David Otunga (without Michael McGillicutty but with a big bowtie) complained to John Laurinaitis about HHH’s decisions. Laurinaitis suggested Otunga take advantage of his Harvard Law degree. Otunga said wrestlers do come to him for his legal advice. Laurinaitis said that maybe he will assert his influence a little bit more and took out his cell phone for some texting.

Natalya and Beth Phoenix beat Eve Torres and Kelly Kelly. Natalya and Beth worked over Eve. Kelly tagged in and hit a top rope Thesz press, whirlybird, handspring elbow and bulldog on Beth. Kelly then sent Natalya out of the ring, but Beth took advantage of the opportunity to hit a double sledge to the face and glam slam for the win.

Mark Henry was supposed to wrestle Great Khali but the match never started. Henry hit Khali with the title belt and gave him the world’s strongest slam.

John Cena cut a relatively brief promo in the ring. He said that a triple threat Hell in a Cell match is necessary to resolve the controversy between himself, Punk and Del Rio. He put over the Cell as a problem solver. He then cut a cheesy, melodramatic promo about the Hell in a Cell concept. Cena said there is no way in hell he is losing the title.

John Cena beat Christian via DQ. CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio came out for commentary, with Punk burying Booker T’s commentary. Christian hit a dropkick off the ropes but missed a top rope splash. Cena hit his shoulder blocks but Christian got out of the Cena slam attempt. Cena then caught him with the Cena slam and five knuckle. Christian bailed to the outside as Cena went for the FU.

Cena knocked Christian into the announce table by Punk and Del Rio. Del Rio attacked Punk. Christian attacked Cena. Christian went for the spear back in the ring but Cena lifted him up for the FU. Del Rio then gave Cena an enzuigiri for the DQ. Punk went after Del Rio but Del Rio bailed. Del Rio said his destiny is to become WWE champion again. This was woefully short for a Christian match with a terrible finish.

Dolph Ziggler beat Zack Ryder to retain the US title. Ziggler had the advantage early. Ryder hit a kick to the face but Ziggler escaped the Rough Rider. Swagger then snapped Ryder’s neck on the top rope and Ziggler hit the zig zag for the win. After the match, Ziggler and Swagger shook hands and started to beat up Ryder some more when Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston made the save. Teddy Long then told Ziggler and Swagger to find a partner because a six man tag was coming immediately.

Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne and Zack Ryder beat Mason Ryan, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. This started as a handicap match as Vickie Guerrero searched for a partner. The heels worked over Bourne until Kingston got the tag. At that point, Mason Ryan came out. The faces worked over Swagger a bit but Swagger hit a head over heels clothesline on Ryder and tagged Ryan. However, Ryan came in and attacked Swagger. He tagged Ziggler and then gave Ziggler a press slam into a uranage. Ryder then hit the Rough Rider on Ziggler for the win. So they set up a face title challenger by having him lose a one-on-one match and then get the pin in a four-on-two. And just what we need is another green musclehead face.

Backstage, David Otunga met with Vickie Guerrero, Dolph Ziggler, Christian and Cody Rhodes. Otunga said they had an unsafe working conditions claim against WWE. He said he wasn’t sure if a lawsuit was the way to go, but that if it is, they need to be together. They all agreed to this. I like this usage of Otunga.

CM Punk beat Alberto Del Rio. John Cena did commentary and Punk threw Del Rio into him as a receipt for earlier. Del Rio worked over Punk’s arm and then Punk just hit a high kick for an abrupt pin. The cell then lowered. Ricardo Rodriguez attacked Punk and went to run away but Cena stopped him. Punk gave Rodriguez the GTS and Cena gave Rodriguez the FU. Punk went to give the GTS to Cena but Cena escaped. Cena went for the FU on Punk, but Del Rio came back in to attack both guys repeatedly with a chair.

Final Thoughts:

This was a pretty standard 2011 WWE television show. It wasn’t bad when you compare it on a week by week basis to what they have been doing, but there are just so many big picture problems with what they are trying to do.

Monday, September 19, 2011

WWE Raw Report

Date: 09/19/11 from Cleveland, OH.

The Big News: Miz and R. Truth were “fired.”

Show Analysis:

CM Punk came out to start the show limping badly. He noted that Cleveland has never been kind to him, as he once had to forfeit his title and once Hardcore Holly hit him so hard he still has a dead spot in his eye. He said that he’s beaten up, at which point Jerry Lawler started mocking him. Punk started to say that he might have been wrong about conspiracy when HHH came out to interrupt. Jim Ross had said that HHH was limping backstage but of course he walked out just fine. At least HHH said he was beat up.

HHH opened by announcing John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Punk in a Hell in a Cell triple threat title match for the next PPV in two weeks. He reiterated that he has nothing to do with any conspiracy and offered to fight Punk right there. Punk responded by saying that someone is playing both of them. He said the conspiracy doesn’t involve HHH but someone higher on the ladder. John Laurinaitis came out and told HHH not to believe anything Punk says.

Punk asserted that Laurinaitis wants to be COO and if HHH lost, Laurinaitis would have swooped in. Punk accused Laurinaitis of being behind the Miz, R. Truth and Kevin Nash run-ins. Laurinaitis said that HHH has lost control of the show but he wasn’t involved in any of that. Laurinaitis said Punk works for him. HHH said Laurinaitis works for him. HHH said he’d get to the bottom of this. Laurinaitis fired Punk. HHH said Punk wasn’t fired, but by the end of the night someone would be fired.

Justin Gabriel, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne beat David Otunga, Christian, Wade Barrett and Michael McGillicutty. Nobody in the match got an entrance. Jim Ross at one point said WWF accidentally and it was censored. The heels worked over Bourne. Sheamus got the tag and hit a back breaker on Otunga. Kingston used a frog crossbody to take out Barrett. Christian set up for the spear but was caught with a boot to the head by Sheamus. Sheamus then gave Otunga a Brogue kick and razor’s edge for the win.

Backstage, HHH told a referee that he wanted to see Miz and R. Truth. Alberto Del Rio came in and criticized HHH for his title rematch coming in a cell and with Punk also in the match. HHH offered to give Del Rio his rematch on Raw but Del Rio said he needed the rest. Del Rio said he prays Vince McMahon comes back to run things, so they’re already teasing that.

Alberto Del Rio beat John Morrison with an armbar submission in a minute or so. Del Rio just worked over the arm quickly and applied the armbar for the tap. It seemed like this was partially intended as a burial of Morrison, but it’s also possible they just really wanted to put Del Rio over strong following his title loss.

Hugh Jackman came out. He ran the ropes, and yes, he was better than Kelly Kelly. He seemed in a great mood and was enthusiastic. He plugged his new movie. Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler interrupted. Vickie came on to Jackman. Jackman offered to shake hands with Ziggler but Ziggler refused and instead ran down Jackman and put himself over. They told the story that Jackman would find an underdog to beat Ziggler, with the underdog theme tying into his movie. There were “we want Ryder” chants. Jackman immediately recognized that and brought a Ryder sign into the ring. Jackman was great here.

Sin Cara was supposed to wrestle Cody Rhodes, but that never happened. The original Sin Cara came out first, but then Sin Cara Dos came out. They fought and blew a couple spots. The original Sin Cara cleared the ring of the second Sin Cara. They need to go ahead and clearly differentiate these two soon, because with them looking the same the crowd just isn’t reacting to Cara like they were before they started this angle.

Backstage, Miz and Truth apologized to John Laurinaitis. Then they apologized to HHH and were acting all humble and basically groveling. This was so stupid as they came across as enhancement talent cowering before the boss rather than heel main eventers. HHH accepted their apologies but said they would each be fined $250,000. I get that you want the idea they are making a lot of money, but they went overboard with that figure.

Jim Ross announced Randy Orton would wrestle Mark Henry in a title Hell in a Cell match at the next pay-per-view. He then brought Mark Henry down for an interview. Henry said he has never been in a Hell in a Cell match but he gave Orton hell the night before and he will do it again. He read his title belt, saying, “This says ‘World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry.’” In fact, it read “World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Mark Henry.” Evidently we’re supposed to pretend not to see that word. Henry said he will never forgive the people for not supporting him and wanted Jim Ross to apologize.

Henry said that Jim Ross wanted Vince McMahon to fire Mark Henry at one point because he thought Henry was injury prone and an underachiever. Henry demanded an apology and Ross apology. Henry then said he hates ass kissers. He grabbed Ross by the tie and choked him. Jerry Lawler went into the ring and asked Henry to stop. Henry let Ross go but then said Lawler would take his place. Lawler punched Henry in self-defense but Henry gave him a head butt and world’s strongest slam. He then gave Lawler another world’s strongest slam through the announce table. Josh Mathews and Michael Cole commentated the rest of the show. Henry was again really good here.

Kelly Kelly and Eve Torres beat Beth Phoenix and Natalya. The heels worked over Eve a bit and then she just rolled up Natalya for the win. This was a waste of time.

Zack Ryder beat Dolph Ziggler. Jackman recruited Ryder backstage before the match despite openly recognizing Ryder’s kind of a goof. There were let’s go Ryder chants. Ziggler hit a superkick and dropkick. They knocked each other down with a double clothesline. Vickie slapped Ryder so the referee ejected Vickie. Jackman then snuck up and punched Ziggler (which looked quite good) and Ryder hit the rough rider for the win. Jackman was again really good here and this was a fun segment.

They aired a Jack Swagger video package. Then, Swagger and Vickie Guerrero agreed that he would officially join her stable. Punk and Cena spoke backstage. Cena said that they are a lot alike. They each speculated the other might be fired by HHH.

John Cena and CM Punk beat Miz and R. Truth. The heels worked over Cena. Cena tagged Punk. Punk hit the high knee, bulldog and GTS on Miz for the win. After the match, HHH fired Miz and Truth. Truth and Miz attacked HHH backstage but most of the roster was sitting together watching a monitor and they grabbed Miz and Truth and threw them out of the building.

Final Thoughts:

For entertainment value, this was one of the better recent Raws even if the big picture problems with creative remain glaring. In particular, Hugh Jackman was tremendous. He looked like he was having a great time, he was on point with everything he did, and he’s legitimately a big star for them to get on. Mark Henry was another highlight.

Monday, September 12, 2011

WWE Raw Report

Date: 09/12/11 from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

The Big News: CM Punk and HHH “shot” on each other.

Show Analysis:

Alberto Del Rio was in the ring to start the show. He said that he can take boos but he can’t take disrespect. Ricardo Rodriguez started to interject that nobody disrespects Del Rio but Del Rio yanked the microphone away from him. Del Rio said he’s the champion and nobody makes fun of him. He claimed to have taken Rey Mysterio out and forced Edge to retire.

Bret Hart came out to interrupt. Hart was tripping over his lines and words and seemed to get lost. He was really bad here. He basically said Del Rio is a bad champion and should face all challenges and be a true champion like he was. Del Rio responded that Hart looks like a homeless bum with a 1994 jacket and greasy hair, like one of those illegal Canadians he hires to clean his house. That was a funny line. Del Rio said he would make an example of Hart.

John Cena came out to defend Hart. He said Hart is a Hall of Famer and now Del Rio is showing courage with Hart when he is always cowering from Cena. Cena told Del Rio to party it up because he will only be WWE champion another six days. Del Rio suggested Cena vs. Rodriguez for Raw. Cena responded by suggesting Del Rio vs. Hart. Some face, throwing a 54-year-old stroke victim under the bus. John Laurinaitis came out and made Del Rio and Rodriguez vs. Cena and Hart.

John Morrison and Alex Riley beat Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. The heels worked over Morrison. Riley tagged in with a spine buster and STO. He went for an implant DDT which Swagger reversed into an ankle lock. Riley then sent Swagger into Ziggler and gave Swagger a neck breaker for the pin. Ziggler had the chance to make the save but chose not to. Ziggler and Swagger argued after. The crowd was dead for this.

Miz beat Kofi Kingston. Before the match, Miz and R. Truth ran down the HHH/CM Punk feud. At the end they made brief mention of their tag title match Sunday. They also did some terrible comedy. Truth said ninja please. Oh, the humor. Kingston hit dropkicks and a springboard crossbody. Miz hit a back breaker but Kingston countered the neck breaker into a backslide for two. Kingston went to the top but was crotched and Miz gave him a neck breaker off the top. Miz hit the skull crushing finale for the win. This was a good short match.

Backstage, Teddy Long announced Ziggler vs. Swagger vs. Riley vs. Morrison for the US title at Night of Champions. Vickie Guerrero was angry. Kelly Kelly was nearby and suggested Vickie be nicer in her lobbying. Vickie called Kelly a ditzy Barbie doll and said even she could beat Kelly. Teddy Long said they’d have the chance to find out.

Jerry Lawler and Sheamus beat David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. Lawler argued with the heels before the match. They worked over Lawler briefly. Sheamus came in with clotheslines, a top rope shoulder block, and a Brogue kick on each man. He then gave McGillicutty the razor’s edge for the win. Apparently the angle is Lawler picks a different partner each week to beat Otunga and McGillicutty. This is one of those WWE programs where it’s more focused on how the people losing suck than how the people winning are good. Obviously, the opposite is much more productive.

Backstage, Ricardo Rodriguez was warming up and drinking something. He told Del Rio it was an aphrodisiac. I think this was intended as comedy. I don’t know.

John Cena and Bret Hart beat Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez. Del Rio ordered Rodriguez to start. Cena beat up Rodriguez a little and Rodriguez tagged Del Rio back in. Del Rio ran from Cena but then took over. Cena gained control and went for the FU but Rodriguez tried to stop Cena and tagged himself in. Cena hit shoulder blocks, the Cena slam, the five knuckle and the FU on Rodriguez. Del Rio left. Cena tagged in Hart, who applied the sharpshooter for the win.

Kelly Kelly beat Vickie Guerrero. Kelly spanked Vickie and gave her the stinkface. Ziggler and Swagger then got into an argument on the outside. Vickie was distracted and Kelly rolled her up for the win. So Vickie Guerrero can’t just lose without distraction? Beth Phoenix ran out but Kelly kicked her and left.

Mark Henry did a 30 second promo backstage that may have been the highlight of the show. He said that for 15 years he has been overlooked and given no respect. Henry said that has gotten him to this point where he can be world champion. He promised Orton will enter the hall of pain Sunday.

Cody Rhodes beat Randy Orton. Orton was working over Rhodes when Mark Henry came out on the ramp. That fool Orton just turned his back on Rhodes and left the ring. Rhodes of course gave him a high knee when he turned around. Rhodes took over for a bit. Orton made his comeback with the draping DDT but Henry walked up the steps. The moron Orton decided not to hit the RKO on Rhodes and instead turned his back to look at Henry on the steps. So Rhodes hit that idiot Orton with his face mask and gave him the roll of the dice for the win. After the match, Henry hit Orton with a chair.

It’s a shame this match was booked so terribly, because they’ve done a great job building up Henry. But it’s hard to get behind a brain damaged babyface who can’t concentrate on a match. It’s hard to take matches seriously when you’ve got two of those asinine distraction finishes in a row. And the title means jack shit when the champion gets pinned by a midcard guy the week of the pay-per-view. What makes it all the more infuriating is this is standard WWE PPV “build.” Hey, who am I to argue with success?

The final segment was a long insider argument between CM Punk and HHH. Punk opened by saying he respects HHH, particularly his firing of Kevin Nash. Didn’t you say last week you didn’t believe Nash was fired? Wasn’t the whole thing that you’re not stupid enough to fall for that? Punk said he knows HHH doesn’t like him and says things behind his back. Punk said that when he debuted in WWE HHH called him a pompous, undersized internet darling who couldn’t hang with HHH.

HHH responded that’s changed a little. Punk said that isn’t good enough. Punk said HHH and Vince McMahon share the same opinions and have let the business pass them by with the bodybuilder fetish for main eventers. HHH brought up Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Bret Hart and Rey Mysterio. HHH asked if Punk was using the size thing as an excuse for his own failures. He added that his opinion doesn’t matter, just the opinion of the fans. HHH said you just have to get the fans on your side. Punk retorted that if HHH is listening, where are Punk’s ice cream bars?

Punk said he has heard the brass ring speech plenty of times and heard it before his first WWE PPV in 2006. He said he was on DX’s team but the people in Philadelphia were chanting CM Punk. HHH looked down at his watch. HHH said he has been on pay-per-view, been in main events, held titles, and received lots of opportunities. He said maybe Punk should look in the mirror and recognize he might not be the best in the world.

HHH trumpeted Cena as a guy who came from nothing and built himself into the biggest star in the industry. HHH said sometimes he’s right and sometimes he’s wrong evaluating talent and basically said he didn’t see anything in Cena when he started. Punk implored HHH to listen to the people chanting his name. HHH said now they are chanting his name but last year they weren’t so much. Punk said he has earned everything by busting his ass. HHH said that was good and you don’t get handed anything in the wrestling business. He added that HHH has a warped internet philosophy.

HHH said their issue isn’t business but personal. HHH tried to keep it business but Punk made it personal. HHH said Sunday as a man, he is going to kick Punk’s ass. Punk responded that’s one more thing HHH is wrong about because Punk is the best in the world and will pin HHH. Punk said his quest for change won’t stop until HHH is no longer COO.

Punk said he had one more thing to say, and not as CM Punk to HHH but as Phil Brooks to Paul Levesque. At that point, Punk’s microphone went out. HHH’s microphone worked and he gave it to Punk, but that microphone went out as well when Punk started to speak. HHH then asked for a third microphone. He checked that it worked and gave it to Punk. Punk took the microphone but just hit HHH with it and did a crotch chop to close the show.

I didn’t care for this segment. It was way too inside, and brought up a bunch of things that are better left not said in front of the camera. Punk was framed as a whiner and a failure rather than a star, and his words ring hollow when things aren’t changing at all in spite of his words. Most of all, the segment just seemed aimed at a really narrow audience. When they started this Punk angle, I liked it because there were a lot broad stroke issues that people could relate to and understand. But as it has gone on, they’ve become narrower rather than becoming broader.

Final Thoughts:

This was one of the worst Raws of the past few months. The writing of the show was just terrible. Up and down the show, the banter and comedy was god awful. The booking of the matches was bad. The pay-per-view build was counterproductive. And few of the performers were able to transcend the limitations of the material.

Monday, September 05, 2011

WWE Raw Report

Date: 09/06/11 from Columbus, OH.

The Big News: HHH fired Kevin Nash.

Show Analysis:

CM Punk came out to a decidedly mixed reaction. He said he’s different in that he doesn’t have a filter and that makes him a target. Punk said he wants Nash, who is the status quo with the same music since 1996 and the same beard and hair dye since the first Gulf War. He added that HHH and Nash are trying to trick him into believing they are enemies when really they are still friends and Nash will have HHH’s back at Night of Champions. He told Nash to face him as a man. They delayed a bit before Nash came out, which I think it something they should always do to make it feel real rather than contrived when there is an impromptu challenge.

Kevin Nash came out and said he does what he wants and fights when he wants. Punk ran through Nash’s gimmicks. Nash told Punk to look at each man and noted every time he comes down he leaves Punk lying. He said that HHH pulling him from the match just protected Punk from getting killed. Punk responded by referencing the Longest Yard and saying that when Nash won the WWF title for the first time it was the year Justin Bieber was born, Arsenio Hall still had a show and Punk couldn’t legally drive. That seemed mean enough that people booed.

Nash was walking to the ring when HHH’s music hit. Nash told HHH that Punk is a cancer and HHH needs to get rid of him. HHH said normally he’d be inclined to do that but this week he discovered the truth. HHH said he got security footage from Staples Center and that it was Kevin Nash who went into HHH’s office and sent himself a text from HHH’s cell phone. So, apparently Nash snuck into HHH’s office hoping HHH wouldn’t be there but that HHH would leave his cell phone lying around rather than just keeping it in his pocket. And then he would send a text to himself from HHH rather than just claiming HHH sent it, when HHH would know he was lying either way. Okay.

Nash admitted to doing this and said that he made WWE cool again. Wait, what? He said WWE isn’t big enough for both him and Punk. HHH said that he doesn’t like Punk but Punk hasn’t lied to him and all Nash does is lie. Nash was incredulous HHH would pick Punk over him and started poking HHH and challenging him. HHH responded by punching Nash. He then said Nash is fired. Punk laughed at Nash and wished him best of luck in his future endeavors. So wait, why does Punk believe Nash and HHH aren’t still in cahoots? And why would Nash be upset when he made it clear last week he was happy to get fired and collect his guaranteed paycheck at home? They showed Kevin Nash and John Laurinaitis leaving together.

Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne beat Great Khali and Jinder Mahal. The heels worked over Bourne. Kingston tagged in and hit some clotheslines. He went for the boom drop on Mahal but Khali pulled down the top rope. Mahal held Kingston for a Khali chop but Khali accidentally hit Mahal. Kingston then tagged Bourne and Bourne hit the shooting star press for the win.

Beth Phoenix beat Eve Torres. Kelly and Natalya did commentary and I found them more irritating than Michael Cole at any point on this show. They were bickering back and forth in such an annoying manner and Natalya just kept saying WWE Universe over and over again. I swear she said it 12 times in 2 minutes. Beth won with the glam slam. After the match, Natalya jumped Kelly from behind. Natalya and Beth are no longer the Divas of Doom but rather the Divas of Salvation. Well, I guess it’s better than Diego going from Nightmare to Dream.

They aired three vignettes backstage throughout the show with Alberto Del Rio trying to convince people that they needed to take out John Cena. Drew McIntyre did a cameo in the first saying he sees Christian as a victim of injustice before Del Rio basically told McIntyre to beat it. Christian recognized Del Rio was trying to get him to do Del Rio’s dirty work. Later, Wade Barrett said he doesn’t need any convincing to go after Cena. And still later, Del Rio tried to convince Dolph Ziggler that Vickie Guerrero was going to dump him because of Cena. The Bellas made a brief cameo flirting with Del Rio, so they may be linked going forward.

CM Punk beat R. Truth. Before the match, Truth said he has been speaking his mind long before Punk. They did some comedy based on the idea that Truth is really, really stupid. I suppose it’s better than being portrayed as a criminal. Miz said that they will be wrestling Bourne and Kingston at Night of Champions. Miz made fun of the Air Boom name. Truth worked over Punk’s leg for a while. Punk came back with a superplex, high knee, bulldog and springboard clothesline. Miz tripped him as he was bouncing off the ropes so the referee ejected Miz from ringside. Punk then hit the GTS for the pin.

After the match, HHH came out. Punk told HHH he didn’t buy HHH punching Nash. So wait, why did you laugh at Nash and wave goodbye to him? HHH said he changed their match at Night of Champions to no DQ and said he might fire him afterwards. Punk liked this suggestion, despite it being such an obvious opening for interference from Nash or other HHH cronies. I guess that’s okay if Punk shows up with help of his own, but if he doesn’t he’s a complete moron. Punk suggested a stipulation that if HHH loses, he resigns as COO. HHH just accepted this no questions asked.

Jerry Lawler and Zack Ryder beat David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. They showed footage of Ryder’s youtube stuff before the match, which was a nice way to make him feel more important. They got heat on Ryder very briefly. Lawler tagged in and hit punches and kicks. He hit the fist drop off the second rope on Otunga but Ryder begged to be tagged in. Lawler eventually relented and Ryder hit the Rough Rider for the win.

Randy Orton beat Heath Slater. Slater hit an enzuigiri and spine buster. Orton came back with a power slam, draping DDT and RKO for the win. I’m all for more matches like this one where you just put over one guy strong. But the two guys on the roster who need this the least are Orton and Cena. Backstage, Cena teased being annoyed at Ryder but instead congratulated Ryder and walked off.

John Cena came out and said that Alberto Del Rio keeps ducking him. He predicted Del Rio would come out and explain why he couldn’t fight Cena on Raw. Del Rio came out and said he’s trying to give Cena a fighting chance at Night of Champions by not injuring him prior to the match. Del Rio then said he couldn’t say the same for his buddies, los rudos of Raw. That was amusing. Christian, Wade Barrett, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler attacked Cena. John Morrison, Sheamus and Alex Riley made the save. Teddy Long came out and said he has been given the authority to intervene on Raw when necessary and made an 8 man tag elimination match.

John Cena, John Morrison, Sheamus and Alex Riley beat Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Christian and Wade Barrett. Morrison hit a one man Spanish fly and one man double dropkick, but was distracted by Christian and Ziggler applied the sleeper. Swagger tagged himself in and applied the ankle lock on Morrison. Ziggler left the ring and Morrison tapped. Swagger hit a Vader bomb on Riley and applied the ankle lock for another submission.

Sheamus hit punches, a knee lift, a shoulder block off the top rope and Brogue kick on Barrett for the pin. Christian slapped Sheamus so Sheamus chased Christian through the crowd and up the stage until both were counted out. Swagger hit a Vader bomb on Cena but Ziggler tagged himself in. Ziggler and Swagger argued until Ziggler walked into an FU for a pin. Swagger put the ankle lock on Cena but Cena reversed it into the STF for a tap. Del Rio ran in after the match but was caught with another FU.

Final Thoughts:

I didn’t care for this show. The Punk/HHH/Nash storyline in particular is a complete mess and building up Cena for another title match just isn’t something I’m excited to see in 2011.