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OO RAW RECAP
Randy Orton Celebration Night (now 99% Orton-free!)
August 19, 2013

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com

 

Thanks for the email responses regarding my Tech Question last week, everyone. Even if I didn't respond to you personally, rest assured that I registered your advice. It seems the consensus is that the wireless hard drive isn't quite for me, and what I really want is, instead, the personal cloud drive (which some of you spelled "NAS").
 

This knowledge should save me both time (it's the easiest way to deal with the fact that I have Windows, Mac, and Android devices) and money (versus building/buying a whole media server). Which means I can pass the savings on to you!
 
Or something like that. Here's what happened on RAW...

 
Show opens with freeze-frame "recaps" of SummerSlam matches. Personally, I suggest you check out the OO SummerSlam Recap (if you haven't already), and let me paint word pictures for you. You'll be a better fan for it. Then we cut live to the arena (in Anaheim, CA), and John Cena's already on his way down to the ring...
 
PASSING THE TORCH... KIND OF.
 
Cena is met with thunderous boos, and as is his wont, he smiles and says he loves every second of it, which only eggs the fans on even more.
 
Once the crowd has that (mostly) out of its system, they let Cena talk. And for his part, Cena does a great job putting Daniel Bryan over; Cena says Bryan beat him, Bryan brought out the very best in him (Cena), and then beat THAT enhanced version of Cena.
 
The crowd senses Cena sort of patting himself on the back for having an awesome match, and fires up a "You Still Suck" chant. Jerks.
 
Cena says he's especially upset that Randy Orton came out and screwed Daniel Bryan, and that Triple H helped. Because nothing would have made Cena more happy than having a chance to battle Daniel Bryan to regain the WWE Title. Bryan earned the title, and he earned Cena's respect, and Cena wanted to earn it back. But now, the title is in the possession of a low-life cheating  viper. The crowd, at least, agrees with Cena on his poor opinion of Orton.
 
But, you seen, there's a whole other reason why Cena is upset, and it's why he's called uf all together tonight. Even if Bryan was still the champ, Cena wouldn't be able to face him. Cena shows off his grotesquely swollen elbow and says that's the result of fluid build-up after he tore his triceps 3 weeks ago. He makes sure we know he's not using this as an excuse for losing at SummerSlam, but says that now that he's not the Champ, he doesn't feel as much pressure to disobey doctors' orders... so he's going in for surgery, and he'll be out of action for 4-6 months.

The crowd lets out a mighty cheer. Let me amend: GIANT jerks.
 
Cena just kinda smirks, shakes his head, and mutters, "Well, I'll miss you, too." Then he says he promises to work as hard as ever to come back better than ever, and in the meantime, he'll be watching RAW every week, and he'll be rooting for the man he thinks should be the Champ. He'll be rooting for Daniel Bryan.
 
As if on cue, Bryan hits the ring to an enormous ovation. Cena shakes his hand, and passes over the microphone, and then just leaves the ring, to let Bryan have his moment. Then, just as the YES! chants are dying down, and Bryan's about to speak, he is interrupted by Stephanie McMahon...
 
Will she be siding with her husband? Or is she still Daniel Bryan's biggest fan? Based on her subtle stylistic changes, I'm guessing the former: stilleto heels and eye make-up set to "whore" speak to a heelish vibe, moreso than a "Respectable Business Woman" vibe. Sadly, the potentially slutty leather skirt she wore was about 4 inches too long, if you ask me.

I digress. Steph is at her smarmy and condescending best as she congratulates Bryan on a hard fought win over John Cena. He totally deserved that moment as champion. But he also needs to realize that, at the end of the day, he's not "face of the WWE" material. He needs to know his role. He needs to be honest with himself, and realize that the WWE Champion needs to be a "Grade A" performer, and that's what we have now, with Randy Orton. Meantime, Daniel Bryan's a solid B+, which is so totally nothing to sneeze at. But it's why Triple H did what he did: it was the Right Thing For Business.
 
Audience says "NO!" to that.
 
Bryan hits the softball, first ("I'm a B? Well, how fitting. Because you're making me think of a word that starts with B, too."), but then gets serious. He says he half-expected to hear this kind of crap from Steph and her dad. But Triple H used to be one of the boys, and Triple H used to be as anti-establishment as anyone when he formed DX. Bryan had hopes that HHH, more than anyone, would support him. But instead, HHH has let his suit and haircut go to his head, and he's a total corporate sell-out.
 
Steph takes a deep breath, and calmly says, "OK, so I'm gonna let that slide, just this once...." only to be cut off by Bryan. "Oh, you're gonna let it slide? Look, everybody, she's giving me a pass, just this once. Isn't that grand? Three cheers for Stephanie." Bryan then replaces the oozing sarcasm with genuine pissed-off-edness: "You might as well get ready to let it slide again. And again. Cuz what are you gonna do to me? Fire me? Fine, fire me. I'll be back wrestling in armories and high school gyms the next weekend. Contrary to what you think, you can't stop me from doing what I love to do, and that's wrestling. So go ahead and fire me. Just know that if you do, I'm gonna make it worth my while on my way out, and I don't care if it's at Randy Orton's or your husband's expense."
 
Steph is a bit taken aback, but gathers herself, and makes a reference to the return of Bryan's "anger management issues." She tells Bryan to calm down, because nobody's getting fired. Returning to a super-condescending tone, she reminds him that she's a HUGE Daniel Bryan fan, and he's such an entertaining chap, and there's always a place for him on the card. No firing, just love. Sweet, sweet midcard love.
 
But this only makes Bryan angrier, as he says he's more than a midcard wrestler. He's a WWE Champion, and he proved it last night. And no matter what Stephanie or her sell-out husband think, he'll be WWE Champion again. Steph gets about 3 words into another trite retort, and Bryan just slaps the mic out of her hands so that everybody can hear the YES! chants loud and clear.
 
But Steph's still the boss, so she goes over, gets another mic, and declares this interview to be OVER~! Because nobody treats her like that. She summons security to the ring, and tells them to escort Bryan out of the building.
 
The NO! chants rain down, as Bryan begrudgingly lets himself be corralled up the ramp by a dozen Men in Black, all while Steph looks rather pleased with herself.
 
Long, but good, opening segment... well, except for the crowd still shitting on Cena even after it was clear that he's really hurt and going away for a while. But other than that, you got a symbolic torch passing moment, which can only help Bryan, and then you got Stephanie siding with HHH. Which is good because she inherited the Being Way Better As A Heel gene from her dad, and also good because it pretty much insures all the McMahons are on the same page, which means less drama and silliness on that front. I'll take it.
 
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CODY RHODES vs. DAMIEN SANDOW
 
Both men are already in the ring, so yeah, like I said: the opening segment probably went long.

Bell rings, and Cody gets out of the gate pretty fast, following up on his win last night. But when the match spills outside, the tide turns, and Sandow takes control with a suplex on the floor. The slight hiccup in the action gives us a chance to watch some...
 
[ads]
 
Back, and Sandow's still in command. Cody keeps fighting the good fight, but Sandow keeps him grounded. Even lands the Fancy Lad Elbow for a 2 count. Crowd rubs salt in the wounds by chanting "Where's Your Mustache?" at Cody. D'oh.
 
But when Sandow sits Rhodes on the top rope, and joins him for a backdrop superplex, Cody is able to fight out of it, and sends Damien crashing to the mat. He follows up with a very nice moonsault, and the End Game is upon us.
 
Back and forth we go with near falls off of signatures (Sandow kicks out of a Disaster Kick, Rhodes out of the Terminus), then some counter wrestling, as Sandow escapes a CrossRhodes and shoves Cody into the turnbuckle... but when Sandow charges, Cody jumps up, gets behind Sandow, and turns it into a tilt-a-whilry sunset flippy combo. And gets the three count.
 
Your Winner: Cody Rhodes, via pinfall, in about 10 minutes. Certainly a bit slow-ish to start, but they picked it up in the end. Cody continues to work in new flashly offense (his moonsault is pretty sweet, plus springboard dropkicks and muscle busters can't hurt), which should endear him to fans, too. And is it me, or is there definitely a trend lately of matches ending without a finisher? It's tended to be these midcard matches, but last night, they even did it with Cena/Bryan... I think I like it; adds a bit more edgeofyourseatitude, if you ask me.
 
Backstage: Brad Maddox is standing by with an official proclamation... he says that some superstars took to the social mediaz after SummerSlam to blast HHH for what he did to Daniel Bryan. He even reads an except from Dolph Ziggler. Maddox assures us that WWE is a big fan of Freedom of Expression, so tonight, he's set up a match so Ziggler can express himself... in a 1-on-3 Handicap Match against the Shield.
 
Later Tonight: So, thoughout the show, they hyped a "Coronation" of Randy Orton as the Main Event Segment. But instead of focusing on Orton (or even on HHH), the graphic featured the Eye of Sauron, front and center. The hell?
 
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PAUL HEYMAN IS A FORGIVING MAN
 
Paul Heyman is out, and only spends the first 90 seconds or so gloating about how Brock Lesnar beat CM Punk last night at SummerSlam. Because Brrrrrrrrooooocccccckkkkkk Lesnar isn't why Paul is here tonight. Nope, not at all. Brock Lesnar. Paul is here, because he just wants to end all this fussin' and a-feudin'. (Brock Lesnar.)
 
Specifically, he wants to make peace with CM Punk. Heyman says he's been like a father to Punk, certainly moreso than the man who actually sired him. And all families fight, so the issues they've had this summer can be resolved. Heyman declares he still loves CM Punk. Like a son. And Paul just wants his Prodigal Son to come home.
 
Then, Paul goes all Darth Vader on us, explaining that together, Punk and Heyman can rule WWE together. Heyman knows how to get CM Punk to the WWE Title, Heyman knows how to get CM Punk to the main event of WrestleMania. All Punk has to do come back to Heyman, and together, they will be the Best in the World.
 
Heyman then just sets the mic down, and leaves to a chorus of boos. Seems the audience has latched onto the notion that Heyman doesn't say or do anything that isn't for his own personal gain... but what does CM Punk think? We're told that he's scheduled for a rebuttal later tonight...
 
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FUNKADACTYLS vs. AJ LEE and LAYLA
 
A crossover match between that one E! "Network" "reality" show I don't acknowledge the existence of and the actual in-ring wrestling universe. The "reality" show won. Kill me now.
 
Your Winners: the Funkadactyls, via sort of pinfall, in 90 seconds. They had another screw up at the end, just like last week, but this time the ref rolled with it and just rang the bell anyway.
 
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DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. THE SHIELD (Handicap Match)
 
Rules are that the Shield has to tag in and out. So Ziggler does get in a bit of offense in the one-on-one scenarios until Reigns tags in, and takes over. It's just a straight forward cut-the-ring-in-half affair, painting Ziggler as massively over-matched. It's one dimensionsal enough that the announcers stop paying attention, and get involved in heavy philosophical discussions about the morality of HHH screwing Daniel Bryan, and then punishing anyone who spoke out about said screwing. Cole and Lawler are all up in arms, while JBL figures out some way to rationalize HHH's behavior.
 
Meantime, the Shield must have started getting bored, too. Because with Ziggler down, Reigns tagged in, and amused himself by posing and preening while sauntering in Dolph's general direction. Bad idea. Ziggler mustered up his final reserves and planted Reigns in the face wit a dropkick, then lunged to the corner to knock Rollins and Ambrose to the floor before they could interfere, then hit Reigns with the Fameasser.
 
But it only got a 2, thank to Ambrose breaking it up. So Ziggler chucks him out again. Rollins also tried to put his two cents worth in, and was also sent flying out of the ring. Ziggler located Reigns, who was slumped in a corner.... and Ziggler went for the Stinger Splash.
 
But Reigns jumped up and hit the biggest damn Spear I've seen in a while, cutting Ziggler down in mid-air. Done and done.
 
Your Winners: the Shield, via pinfall, in 6 minutes or so. Outcome was kind of a foregone conclusion, but damned if they didn't craft a pretty convincing late match rally for Ziggler.
 
After the Match: the Shield piled on, hitting the Triple Powerbomb on Ziggler. Also, Rollins seemed to be genuinely hurt (his knee buckled when he got tossed out of the ring), to the point that Reigns actually asked what was up. Rollins gave him an audible "I'm fine, I'm fine." Ten out of ten for working your own partner, Seth, but minus several million for letting the TV audience in on your ruse!
 
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SIN CARA vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO (Non-Title)
 
The announcers note that del Rio's looking a little worse for wear, and try to sell us on the idea that it's the result of the beating he took from Christian at SummerSlam. Which is nice and all, except he pretty much looked the same before said match. [In truth, del Rio was enjoying himself at an LA Drinking Establishment a day or two prior to SummerSlam, and a half-dozen or so drunken patrons decided to antagonize Alberto. Drew McIntyre was also there, and had del Rio's back, but 2-on-6 ain't gonna get it done. Thus, Alberto's black eye.]
 
Anyway, the announcers barely have time to point out the Mexican flags in each corner, something that Alberto's demanded be done for all his matches, because he, and he alone, is a hero to the Latino crowd... and then Sin Cara hurts himself on a plancha, and the ref has to stop the match.
 
Your Winner: Alberto del Rio, via injury stoppage, in 45 seconds. Luckily, Sin Cara's injury is supposedly only a broken finger, which ranks pretty low on his list of self-inflicted botch injuries. But still... the dude is cursed, or something.
 
After the Match: Alberto grabs a mic, and reiterates his post-match promo from SummerSlam. In short, the Latino audience needs a hero, and he (and he alone) is that man. I again get the distinct impression that this is a rather ham-fisted set up for Rey Mysterio's retrun within the month. But that's down the line... in the here and now, Alberto is interrupted by a different Latino.
 
Ricardo Rodriguez. He's in Upscale Casual Mode: top button unbuttoned and hair a bit less kempt than it used to be. He looks for all the world like Hispanic Jack White, if you ask me. No longer a be-tux'd lackey for Alberto, he's able to speak his mind, and he says his loyalty to del Rio is over. Alberto finally went too far. And further more, Alberto will never be a hero to Ricardo. Ricardo doubts Alberto could ever be a hero for anyone.
 
But Ricardo met a guy who does seem to be quite popular. Ricardo wants Alberto to meet him. He's a guy to look up to, and Ricardo's new friend.... RRRRRRROOOOOOBBBBB VAN DAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMM!
 
RVD hits the stage and pauses for a moment to pose with Ricardo. I am suddenly struck by how random this pairing is, and yet, somehow in my mind's eye, I can very easily picture Rob and Ricardo enjoying recreational smokeables together, so there's that...
 
Alberto is clearly irate at Ricardo's choice of new friend, and as Van Dam hits the ring, del Rio takes the fight to him. Then RVD fights back, and is about to hit the Five Star when del Rio decides to bail out and run away. RVD and Ricardo pose some more, as the crowd approves of the new partnership.
 
Back in the day, RVD needed Bill Alfonso to help him set up his more complex chair-related spots, but that's not something that he needs in the PG WWE environment... so I'm assuming this is just a short term partnership to set up a one-off ADR/RVD match. But we'll see...
 
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PRIME TIME PLAYERS vs. THE REAL AMERICANS (w/ Zeb Colter)
 
Before the match, Zeb cut a promo on the very same Latino audience that ADR was trying to pander to 5 minutes ago. Nothing particularly new in the Tea Party ravings, except Zeb tailors it to include a reference to DisneyLand.
 
Then the PTPs enter with no particular fanfare, and the crowd's not quite sure what to make of this. It's a heel vs. heel match. Unless something, you know?, pretty newsworthy happened, and you had new reasons to be supportive of Darren Young. But apparently, this didn't happen. Or at least, WWE would rather not bring it up. Which is pretty awkward, since everybody else is talking about it.
 
Anyway, crowd is dead quiet as Young starts the match. Then they stay dead when Titus tags in and becomes the Face in Peril. But even if the crowd isn't sure who they're supposed to be cheering for or why, Darren manages to coax them along by jumping around all over the apron, cheerleading. The end result: when Titus makes the tag, it's definitely lukewarm.
 
Young is the proverbial house o' fire, and things break down into the standard Pier 4 Brawl before long. Titus powders out with Swagger, and Young hits the Gut Check on Cesaro for the win.
 
Your Winners: the Prime Time Players, via pinfall, in 4-5 minutes. The crowd's silence is, in my opinion, on WWE, not on the PTPs. Everybody knows Darren Young came out as gay last week... and while in the ideal world, it wouldn't be a big deal and nobody would care, we do not live in an ideal world: Young is only the second dude in a major American "sport" to come out. And the only guy before him is currently unemployed, illustrating just how tolerant the NBA is. Mainstream media has latched onto Young's story, and I felt WWE needed to acknowledge it... not to oversell it, or make Young over as a stereotype, or anything. But just acknowledge it, and in so doing, give the fans permission to acknowledge it, too...
 
Just throwing the PTPs -- who have always been heels -- out there against another heel team is a definite passive-aggressive way for WWE to handle it. It's like, "Here, cheer for them if you want, not that there's any reason that you would want to. At least, not that we're comfortable discussing." Nothing about the core of Young's character or the PTPs should change -- he didn't just catch The Gay, that's not how it works; he's the same exact guy when it comes to how he does his job -- but if you're going to go ahead and try to change the fans' perceptions, then you can't pull these half measures.
 
I suppose this could be Young's own preference to handle it this way, and if so, that's cool. But if it's WWE's call, then boo on them. Confused, silent crowds do the PTPs no favors, and also runs the risk that the less tolerant members of the audience (let's not pretend wrestling fans are the most progressive lot) a chance to voice their idiotic opinions towards Young. WWE is in a position to be proactive and make it clear that Young deserves nothing but support and acceptance, and anyone believing otherwise should keep it to themselves. And like I said: this is still an imperfect world we live in, so if you can't completely get rid of biggots, homophobes, and other all-around assholes, you can at least create an atmosphere in which they are shamed into shutting the hell up in public.
 
But perhaps that's getting into more of a Big Picture Issue, when what matters here is how a wrestling company should handle a gay wrestler here in the year 2013. Certainly, WWE's off-screen/corporate response has been infinitely better than it would have been even just a few years ago... but I think the onscreen response was lacking and wishy-washy.
 
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Backstage: Renee Young is about to interview Big Show, but only gets one question in (Show confirms that yes, he and Mark Henry will be going after the tag titles). But that's when Brad Maddox shows up, takes the mic, and excuses her. You see, Big Show is another guy who spoke out against HHH after SummerSlam. So once again, he'd like to give Show a chance to express himself. In a handicap match against the Shield. Big Show menacingly asks "Are you sure you want to do that to them?" Maddox does a Vince-style Gulp of Fear, and reaffirms his decision. Big Show seems fine with that.
 
Elsewhere Backstage: Zack Ryder and Justin Gabriel are checking out a display of awesome new sneakers, provided by our sponsors, Foot Locker. A helpful Foot Locker Guy (in referee's stripes) starts running down all the features of the sneakers, and all the other products offered by Foot Locker. Who are our sponsor. Foot Locker. Then Fandango shows up, and says there's this other pair that look quite fabulous... but can you dance in them? The Foot Locker guy (from Foot Locker) says, sure you can. Then Fandango insists that they all dance. Play his music! Summer Rae shimmies off frame, and the Foot Locker guy follows in kind (because The View), and Fandango quickly grabs the sneakers and hides them uder his vest as he leaves, too. For some reason, the whole blatant adverskitment struck me as way funnier than it should have. PS: Foot Locker.
 
Elsewhere Elsewhere Backstage: Ryback storms into a lockerroom, and gets upset at some ham and egger who has set up too close to Ryback's own locker. Or something. So he makes said no-name pack up his bag and take it into the shower. Then the water goes on, and the guy and his stuff are soaked, which Ryback finds very funny. So the bullying continues, with Ryback honing in on perfect hybrid of Goldberg and Biff from Back to the Future.
 
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BIG SHOW vs. THE SHIELD (Handicap Match, Tornado Style)
 
This time, Maddox has ruled that all 3 members of the Shield can work together at the same time. No tags. Show takes the fight to the Shield, causing Ambrose to call for a retreat. After a quick strategy session, they split up, and surround Show, making sure he can only focus on one of them at a time. This is how the Shield eventually take control.
 
For his part, Rollins alternates between still selling that knee injury in fairly attentive fashion, and then not selling it at all when he's required to do something flashy or high-fly-y. Oooops, again. [But it's really not a big deal. I wouldn't even have noticed or cared if not for the funny exchange with Reigns earlier.]
 
Tide turns when Show reverses an attempted two-man suplex, and ends up suplexes Rollins and Ambrose in one fell swoop. A few clubbering blows, and Show might be in position to get a pin on one of those two... but he's lost sight of Reigns, who takes Show down with a Spear. Only gets a two.
 
So Reigns rouses Ambrose and Rollins, and calls for the Triple Powerbomb. They hit it. And it's enough to keep Show down for three.
 
Your Winners: the Shield, via pinfall, in 4-5 minutes. Pretty much the same vibe as the earlier match. The Tornado Rules allowed the Shield to dominate, even against a much bigger opponent. The announcers also made sure we haven't lost sight of how big a doodoohead HHH is for screwing Daniel Bryan, and then screwing anyone who called him on it.
 
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CM PUNK IS NOT AMUSED
 
As promised, CM Punk is here to respond to Paul Heyman's earlier "Prodigal Son" plea... he's also taped up, as if ready to fight. But then again, he's also limping and clutching his ribs, and generally looking like a man who got his ass kicked last night. Which is understandable, because he did.
 
Punk starts off by saying, well, that he doesn't really know what to say. He lost the night before, and he's hurting something awful today, and he has no excuses. But Punk says he guesses he does know one thing, and that's that Paul Heyman was out here earlier in the night flapping his gums, so maybe he better address that right here and right now.
 
It is at this point that Punk loses his mind, and verbally destroys some jackwad in the second row who is about the only person in the arena booing Punk. It was such an extended and decisive evisceration that my first instinct is that it HAD to be a plant, meant to show how Punk was pissed off like never before at falling short of his goals at SummerSlam. But as soon as Punk challenged the "fatso" to get up in the ring and boo Punk to his face, three security guys sprinted over and knealt down in front of the barricade to make sure no such thing happened. So, even as Punk continued railing the guy (much to the delight of the crowd, and NOT to the delight of the censors, who had to bleep portions of Punk's rant), I had no choice but to accept this at face value: CM Punk dun flipped his lid.
 
But he eventually gets back on track, and says that he's thought about what Heyman had to say, and he does want to respoond. But maybe the best way to do this is face-to-face, man-to-man (you know, sort of like how Heyman insisted on doing it 2 months ago)... and if Heyman's looking for an apology, Punk's gonna give him one. Just come on down, Paul. Come on down.
 
Heyman eventually does come out, flanked by Curtis Axel, but gets no closer to the ring than the top of the stage. He gestures (Broadly) that he's listening, and will have his apology now. Punk figures "close enough" and launches into his apology.
 
(1) He's sorry he took his eyes off Brock Lesnar for a split second last night, and let himself be distracted by Heyman.
 
(2) He's sorry that when he did briefly get his hands on Heyman, he only injured his arm, instead of ripping it off and keeping it as a trophy.
 
(3) He's sorry for what he will do to Heyman in the future, because this isn't over, and Punk will have his revenge.
 
(4) Also: that whole ripping your arm off thing? Sorry, but Punk really meant it. Literally. For real. You will be a one-armed man, Paul Heyman.
 
Intense stuff, and Heyman's not entirely surprised his offer of love was spurned. He says he wishes they could do this the easy way, but if not, Heyman will finish it the ugly way. CM Punk's geared up, but he's also half a man after getting beat by BRRRRRRRRRROOOOOCCCCKKKK Lesnar (Brock Lesnar!) the night before. He'll be easy pickin's for Curtis Axel.
 
Heyman sends Axel to the back to get taped up to wrestle, and dares Punk to stay in the ring and take his medicine... and while Axel's getting ready, we'll break for some....

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Back, and Punk's still in the ring. And here comes Axel. But there's no ref, and no bell. This is just a fight.
 
A long fight, all around ringside. And for the most part, Punk wins the fight, compensating for his physical injuries with the Raging Anger of 10,000 Suns. He's about to use the ring bell to finish Axel off (how very Macho Man of him!), but once again, Heyman provides a distraction, and it costs Punk.
 
Axel immediately escapes and chop blocks Punk's pre-injured knee, and then follows up with his spinning neckbreaker. Then Axel grabs a steel chair, and wails on Punk's back, ribs and then some more on the leg/knee. Heyman starts shouting variations on "I love you, but you broke my heart. Now your leg gets broken." They start as emotional pleas to Punk, then morph into angry instructions to Axel. Heyman wants Axel to Pillmanize Punk's knee with the chair.
 
So Axel sets it up... but Punk rolls out of the way at the last second. He removes the chair from his leg, and uses it to blast Axel a few times. Paul pulls Axel out of the ring, but Punk follows, and Paul scoots up the ramp and leaves Axel to eat a ring step assisted TGS. Pretty slick.
 
Paul lingers at the top of the stage, staring back nervously at the havoc Punk has wrought. Punk shoots eye-daggars back at Heyman. Clearly, this is not over. Well, it's over for tonight, but you know what I mean.
 
A rare non-wrestling match that spans two segments. And it made the most of every second. Great verbal stuff to start, then the brawl between Punk and Axel was intense and awesome. Thanks to the circumstances (Punk's beating at the hands of Lesnar the night before), you really believed Punk was vulnerable. So when he managed to win the fight, you were that much more satisfied as a result. Good times.
 
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R-TRUTH vs. BRAY WYATT (w/ Luke Harper and Erick Rowan)
 
We're all adults here. Let's not pretend this was something it wasn't.
 
Your Winner: Bray Wyatt, via pinfall, in a minute flat. Little more than an excuse to talk about the Wyatts actions the night before (Bray won the match, then they basically kidnapped Kane, and are keeping him in Parts Unknown), for the benefit of those who didn't see it.
 
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Coming Soon: a vignette for "Los Matadors," a new incoming tag team. Except, not really; it's just Primo and Epico doing a new gimmick that is 50% Los Conquistadors (masked twin-ish guys) and 50% Three Amigos (complete with pelvic-thrust-augmented salute). In other words, I'm thinking it could be 100% hilariously awesome.
 
THE USOS vs. 3MB (Slater and Mahal, w/ McIntyre)
 
Although this isn't exactly the most thrilling of match-ups, the announcers are able to weave a nice little narrative for why it's of more import than you might think: the tag division is suddenly heating up. We already had a highly competitive PTP/Real Americans match. We already know Big Show and Mark Henry are planning to team up. Let's not forget the mysterious Los Matadors, either. A win here is big, if you want to avoid getting lost in the shuffle!
 
OK, so I didn't really buy it, either, but I do like the token effort at pretending like WWE cares about tag teams.
 
Meantime, the match was pure stock. No frills. Ricky Uso got his ass kicked. Robert Uso tagged in and cleaned house. Brief Pier Five brawl. OK, one frill: awesome closing sequence where Robert Uso concluded his rally by simultaneously hitting a 7-10 Split Plancha onto McIntyre and Mahal AND making a blind fly-by tag to Ricky Uso while he did it. Ricky took care of Slater's remains with a Superfly Splash.
 
Your Winners: the Usos, via pinfall, in 5 minutes, or so. Hard to get TOO into it, since 3MB aren't the most credible opponents, but if the story is "positioning for tag title shots," then this serves the purpose of being a showcase for the Usos. The closing sequence was definitely a nice touch after an otherwise forumulaic affair, too.
 
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MIZ vs. WADE BARRETT
 
Wade had Miz's number for about 3 minutes, the Miz fired up, and started going after Wade's knee. The crowd caught on, and half began "WHOOOOOO'ing" and the other half seemed to be grumbling at the thought of Miz being in Ric Flair's league.
 
Luckily, Fandango interrupted at just the perfect moment: Miz DID lock on the Figure Four (to the delight of teh WHOOOO'ers), but almost instantly, Fandango showed up and crushed Miz's face with a top rope leg drop (to the delight of everybody else). Barrett powdered out, leaving Fandango and Summer Rae to dance over Miz's carcass.
 
Your Winner: Miz, via disqualification, in 4-5 minutes. Miz continues to flounder as a fan favorite. I mean, the match was serviceable enough, and I'm a pretty big fan of Barrett, but it's clear the audience has a hard time feeling much sympathy/empathy for Miz. There's a huge difference from being sporadically entertained by a loud-mouthed jackass (which is why Miz was sporadically cheered as a heel), and actually rooting for him.
 
Backstage: a production assistant rushes up to Stephanie McMahon and tells her that he just got word that Daniel Bryan had managed to get past security, and is back in the building. Steph's unexpected response: "Excellent." [/montyburns]
 
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RANDY ORTON'S WWE TITLE VICTORY CELEBRATION (now 99% Orton-Free!)
 
Vince McMahon and Stephanie are already in the ring, with the entire lockerroom assembled on top of the stage. And just to complete the episode-long innuendo, the Shield are at ringside as Special Security, so they're now in the McMahons' back pocket.
 
Vince also clarifies another point: he's proud that Triple H saw the light, and did the right thing at SummerSlam. The McMahons are, indeed, now united. Vince then introduces HHH.
 
HHH hits the ring to a boisterous "You Sold Out" chant.
 
When it subsides, Hunter tells the audience that they don't see the big picture, they don't understand The Business. He (Hunter) knows what's best for them, even if they don't. What's best for them is that the WWE is always here, and so everything he does, he does for the future of WWE. The best interests of WWE are also the best interests of himself, his wife, his children, his dad, sure, he admits that... but they're also the best interests of the fans, and THEIR children, and their children's children.
 
And they're also in the interests of every superstar up on that stage. HHH says, despite Bryan's claims, he hasn't forgotten what it's like to be one of the boys. He says there's nothing wrong with dreaming about becoming WWE Champion, but that dream only exists as long as there is a WWE. Which is why it's also important to manage your expectations.
 
HHH recycles Steph's riff from earlier on, saying WWE and its fans deserve an "A plus" champ. And granted, Daniel Bryan is "a good little technician," but he's B grade material. Which HHH thinks is a compliment. A B is still well above average, and makes Bryan an important part of the roster. He's just not, you know?, championship material.

Which put HHH in a tough spot at SummerSlam. It was a tough decision for him, it really was. He didn't like screwing Daniel Bryan, and he certainly did like being in cahoots with Randy Orton after everything Orton put him through (like sexually assaulting his unconscious wife?). But despite his personal feelings, he did what was right for business, and that's what makes him the COO, and makes us the fans. He's willing to be all unselfish like that.
 
So, without any further ado, HHH thinks it's time to meet a man who may be a family rival, but who is also an A+ talent. A man who was once a lump of coal, but who has finally reached his full potential as a diamond. Please welcome Randy Orton.
 
The sea of wrestlers parts as Orton makes his way to the ring to lusty boos. Orton takes the mic and says, "I told you you'd never see it coming when I cashed in. Well, you didn't see it coming, did you? And it's all thanks to Triple H. Seriously, thanks for making this all possible, man."
 
Then he puts themic down.
 
Then he shakes HHH's hand.
 
Then he approaches Stephanie. There is tension. But then Steph just breaks out into a big friendly smile and hugs Randy, just to spite the crowd. What's a little sexual assault between business associates?
 
Then Randall just fades into the background and does nothing else. Because at Randy Orton's Victory Celebration, it's best if you only trust him with about 45 seconds of screen time. Talk about knowing your personnel and deploying them in the most productive manner! Even Orton can speak three sentences, do a cheap heat hug, and then disappear on a high note; George Costanze would be proud.
 
Hunter took control again, saying that, what the hell?, they just found out that Daniel Bryan was in the building, so maybe he should come out to the ring. Would the fans like that? "YES!" is the resounding answer. HHH, Steph, and Vince start wheedling, saying they so totally want their adorable little midget wrestler to come on down and grab his piece of the spotlight. The cycle of lightly patting Bryan on the back and then chopping him off at the knees with an insult continues for a bit. Vince even does some mocking "YES!" points.
 
Finally, Bryan does come out, and walks halfway down the ramp. Then he stops. HHH says "What, afwaid of the wittle Shield, there, big boy? OK, guys, step aside, and let him into the ring. No touching!" The Shield do step aside. Bryan does approach the ring. The Shield swarm and beat the crap out of him.
 
The McMahons chuckle, and HHH finally calls off the beating, "OK, OK, that's enough. Seriously, let him into the ring. We just want to talk. Come on there, champ, pull yourself up and get in here. You can do it." If Steph was pitch-perfect condescending earlier, then let me tell you: Hunter broke the goddamned patronizing-o-meter here.
 
Bryan finally did muster the power to get to his feet and step over the middle rope... at which point, Orton remembered this was ostensibly his segment. As soon as Bryan's second foot hit the mat, Randy swooped in for an RKO out of nowhere. Play Randy's music, cuz he's the champ, and was so totally the star of this segment!
 
HHH raises Orton's hand in victory. Then they are flanked by Vince and Steph as the celebration continues and we fade to black.
 
So ends the show. Pretty weak, if your lone criteria is The Wrestling. But in terms of entertainment and plot development, this was a strong effort.
 
Losing Cena for the rest of the year is huge, and no doubt many long term plans were reshuffled as a result... but so far, the Orton title win and McMahon Conspiracy is hitting the right notes, as far as I'm concerned. Based on their mini-arc prior to MitB, Orton and Bryan should be gold as a PPV main event storyline, and I also approve of keeping the McMahon's united (it minimizes the risk of genuinely stupid melodrama).
 
The Shield is also folded into the issue, which granted, is kind of opposite of their anti-establishment gimmick. But it's a way to maximize their value as one of WWE's top heel acts. And once you start having "group feuds" like this, it's easy to keep rotating new parts in and out to keep things fresh. So for now, it seems like Bryan might get some help from Big Show, Mark Henry, and even Dolph Ziggler against Orton/Shield. And that's alright with me.
 
Everything other than Orton/Bryan/McMahons took a backseat, but let's not forget that we've got ADR/RVD to look forward to, as well. That should be really solid.
 
And man alive, I have no idea what the end game is (because Punk vs. Curtis Axel isn't exactly a PPV Match in my mind, and Lesnar probably doesn't come back again till Survivor Series or the Rumble), but the Punk/Heyman stuff just continues to be outstanding. Their segment(s) definitely stand out as the most youtube-iest of the night, if you're interested.
 
Maybe the End Game is Punk vs. Heyman? Don't call me crazy! The WWF did great business with Bobby Heenan in Weasel Suit Matches in the 80s! It took 12 freaking years, but it seems Heyman is now fully re-invented as a guy who we'd kind of love to see suffer horrible humiliation, rather than the genius behind ECW.
 
Anyway, fun show. I'd consult my Inner Pyro for a grade, but on a night where Randy Orton gets and A+ and Daniel Bryan gets a B, we're apparently grading on some kind of crazily shaped curve, where these lettres have no meaning.


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
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RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
 
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
 
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
 
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RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
 
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Backfired!
 
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
 
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
 
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
 
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: You're Welcome
 
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
 
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RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Lady Power
 
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
 
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
 
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
 
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
 
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
 
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
 
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.


 

 


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