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Bryan Stands Tall
September 10, 2013

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com


I'm normally a fairly cynical jackwagon, but even I had to take a moment and marvel at what a wonderful day I had on Sunday. I always love getting to sleep in on Sunday, but this particular Sunday followed that up with about 12 consecutive hours of awesome things.
Yankees/Red Sox, with a walk-off Yankees win, to start.

Then, my mom decided to do an "Off Season Easter Dinner," and Easter happens to be my favorite holiday meal, so I treated myself to a bellyful of Ham.
Then, I took a bunch of leftovers home, and went back to Sports Mode. Reds/Dodgers on the ESPN Sunday Night Game of the Week, and the Giants on Sunday Night Football. Yes, I know the Giants lost, but honestly, football's a secondary concern for me until about Week 10, at which point I'll decide whether or not I care based on where the Giants are in the standings. Playoff-bound? I jump onthe bandwagon. If not? That's what college basketball if for.
It was just nice to get acquainted with the 2013 Giants, in case I do end up caring. And plus: did you see the end of the Reds game? That was the most incredibly satisfying capper to an amazing week of baseball, ever. Well, by "ever" I mean "in my time as a Reds fan," which goes back to the 1990 World Series team. The afterglow of that win was MORE than enough to keep me shiny and happy through the end of the Giants game.
At which point, I engaged the DVR and watched "Breaking Bad." Like I said: awesomeness, thy name was Sunday. I can't believe how things ramped up this week, with still 3 more episodes to go. I believe I'll just defer to the wisdom of Ron Burgandy, insofar as assessing Sunday's episode: "Well.... that escalated quickly."
But enough talking about how I was almost completely devoid of annoyance, frustration, and misery of any kind for one whole day. Now, Sunday has become Monday, and it's time for RAW. Clearly, my streak is over...
Or is it? Read on to find out:

Cold Open: we're live in Toronto, and Edge is already on his way down to the ring for...
THE CUTTING EDGE (In Which Edge Cuts Orton From the Show)
Before getting down to business, Edge says it's great to be back home, not just in Toronto, but also in WWE. He misses us. Awww.
Then he reveals that he was invited back by Triple H, because it'd be "good for business." So Edge got all excited about what he could do to make the fans happy... only to find out that HHH wanted Edge to host one of his former tag team partners. [Crowd: "YAY!"] But no, not Christian. "Nah, none of you want to see Edge and Christian, right?" [Crowd: "BOO!"]
Instead, HHH told Edge he would have to host Randy Orton on the Cutting Edge. But Edge decided to go rogue, on the grounds that Orton is incapable of saying anything interesting or worthwhile. ["Honestly, it's like listening to paint dry," says Edge.] So Orton is out. [Crowd: "YES! YES! YES!"] And based on their reaction, the crowd is going to like who Edge got to visit, instead.
It's Daniel Bryan. 
Edge puts Bryan over as a kindred soul, who worked his way up from the bottom of the wrestling industry, and made it to the top despite being told along the way that he'd never make it. Then Bryan underscores that narrative with more of his standard underdoggery. Whether it's Orton, HHH, or the Shield, he says just keep knocking me down, because I'll keep getting right back up and coming right at you.
Edge likes what he's hearing, but wants to see Bryan take it all the way to 11, so he starts asking yes/no questions about Bryan's plans for Sunday, in an increasingly intense tone of voice. He's got Bryan (and the fans) whipped in a frenzy of YES!es, when suddenly Orton's music hits.
Orton starts by mocking Edge for being crippled and retired at such a young age. Edge responds by saying, "Hey, Randy, I know they're calling you the Face of WWE, but you sure do act like a different body part." ZING~!
Randall holds up the WWE Title, as if to say "Scoreboard," but Edge continues by saying, "I mean, I know my spine is injured, but hey, at least I've got one." KAPOWZA~! He follows up by calling Orton another in a long line of whiffs by Triple H when it comes to talent evaluation...
And speak of the devil. With Edge about to score a TKO win over the Mantard, Triple H himself swoops in to the rescue, and does the rest of the talking. He says if Edge wants to say something about him (HHH), why not say it to his face.
Edge thinks that's just fine, so he picks up where he left off, and says that HHH has a HHHistory of tunnel-vision and narrow-mindedness... HHH did everything he could to hold Edge down, but now he's an 11-time former world champ and a Hall of Famer. HHH didn't see anything in Chris Jericho. HHH never thought CM Punk would amount to anything. HHH even pegged John Cena as little more than a novelty act. But they all proved him wrong, too.
Now, HHH is doing the same thing to Daniel Bryan, and Edge suspects HHH will be proven wrong again. If only Bryan gets a fair shot, instead of all this 5-on-1 BS that's been happening lately.
HHH says "fine." All Bryan has to do, in order to prove himself to HHH, is face Dean Ambrose tonight. And to make it fair, Bryan can have someone in his corner, since we all know the Shield will be in Ambrose's. Edge is all happy, thinking he'll be the guy. But HHH mocks his "stack of dimes neck" and says he'll be nowhere near the action. Instead, Bryan will be seconded by the Big Show.
HHH addresses the crowd, saying, "See, I'm not such a bad guy. I'm not some dictator." [Crowd: "ASSHOLE! ASSHOLE! ASSHOLE!"] Edge puts his own twist on that by saying, "You may not be a dictator, but sometimes you sure act like a dick." Methinks HHH was a bit late in cutting him off on that line. But late or not, HHH DOES cut him off, and angrily says, "Who do you think you are? Just because you're retired and are so injured no one is allowed to touch you, you think you can talk to me like that?"
Edge says, Yep, that's about the size of it. He's not an employee here, so he doesn't have to live in fear of HHH like everyone else on the roster. He can speak his mind, without fear of repercussions...
Ahhh, but that's where Edge is wrong, says HHH. Because Edge may be off-limits and untouchable... but those near and dear to his heart are not. HHH makes the international sign for "Check Please," and the Shield suddenly appear, dragging an unconscious Christian halfway down the ramp, and then dumping him there.
The heels skeddaddle, leaving Edge to haul ass up the ramp to check on his bestest buddy, and leaving us to ponder the latest in HHH abuseofpowery.
Nothing earth-shattering here, but a very nice use of Stunt Casting to add a bit of sizzle to what amounted to re-inforcing the well established characters of Underdog Bryan and the Corporate Bullies. Plus, some excellent zingers and a red hot crowd.
Backstage: HHH and Stephanie are all giddy about the opening segment when Edge storms in, and declares "If I could get the doctors to clear me, I'd kick your ass right here, right now." But HHH assures him that no doctors in the world will ever clear him to return to the ring, so he'd best just simmer down, and take it like a man. This is HHH's show, HHH's building, and even HHH's city, and there's nothing Edge can do about it. So just leave, already. Or HHH will have the Shield escort him out. Edge begrudgingly leaves of his own volition...
CURTIS AXEL (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. KOFI KINGSTON (Non-Title Match)
The story here is that Kofi pinned Axel on Friday, and now Axel wants to prove that Paul is still in good hands at the PPV (where Axel/Heyman face CM Punk in a handicap match).
So, to that end, Axel basically blows a gasket after Kofi lands a couple of quick moves to start the match. He's got Kofi slumped in a corner, and just keeps on pummelling him with knee strikes well after the ref has already reached a 5 count.
Your Winner: Kofi Kingston, via disqualification, in about 90 seconds flat. Worthless as a match, but very neat as a plot device. In one fell swoop, Axel re-establishes that he's a capable ass-kicker... but as Paul Heyman lectures him after the match, we're reminded that a DQ loss is still a loss, so that loss of temper better not happen again on Sunday, or else Heyman will still be left alone with Punk.
Backstage: cameras are just catching up to Heyman and Axel, and Heyman's hopping along on one leg, claiming he just slipped and fell. Axel, displaying the intellect and gravitas of Orton, just keeps shouting "Who put the water on the floor?"... meantime, some officials show up and help Heyman into the trainer's room. Heyman refuses anything but a bag of ice, on the grounds that he has his personal physician, and doesn't want to be worked on by any quacks.
Elsewhere Backstage: Big Show is contemplating his role in tonight's main event when Booker T walks in, and basically tells him to play it cool and be smart. Do what HHH says, and don't help Bryan, and Show will still get paid. And isn't that more important than having your pride. Big Show isn't so sure about that. And once again, this segment is a giant reach in terms of what works as a pro wrestling story, and had me rolling my eyes at what a scripted cheesy lamefest it was.
DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. BRAY WYATT (w/ Harper and Rowan)
Opening 90 seconds had Wyatt gain and maintain control while playing up the unorthodox nature of his ringwork. Then, we cut to...
Back, and Wyatt's in conrtol, but only for about 30 seconds. Then Dolph fires up, dodging a charge and countering with the Stinger Splash. A few moments later, a Fameasser gets a 2 count. Then Harper and Rowan try to interfere; Ziggler avoids their attack, but he IS distracted by them. And that's all Bray needs to hit his finisher, which is now renamed the Sister Abigail.
Your Winner: Bray Wyatt, via pinfall, in 6 minutes. But 3 of those minutes were an ad break, so there was just no flow or reason to care, here. Certainly a big win for Bray, in terms of building up his credibility, but if they're gonna ask Ziggler to be the one to do the job, I definitely wish they'd have let the match itself be something worthwhile on the way to that finish. Oh well...
This Friday: Edge will be on SmackDown, as well. I likey.
Back in the arena, we see Paul Heyman hobbling to the ring on crutches, assisted by Curtis Axel, and flanked by a burly guy in a dress shirt and tie. Presumably, he's Heyman's personal doctor. [Even more presumably, he's an indie wrestler to be sacrificed to CM Punk when he makes his inevitable run-in. In fact, am I imagining things, or might he be one of Edge's old buddies who also wanted to get into wrestling? You know, as seen on Edge's DVD?]
Regardless, once Heyman is in the ring, he masterfully handcrafts the cheapest of heat by making fun of Canada and their horrific health care system, which is why he brings his own physician with him whenever he's forced to travel north of the border.
Said burly physician has given Heyman a thorough examination, and determined that Heyman has suffered a severe injury to either his meniscus or his ACL. The final diagnosis will come after an MRI, which Heyman has already scheduled for tomorrow back in New York City, where they have real doctors.
But no matter the results, his doctor has made it clear that he cannot compete at Night of Champions. The crowd boos this obvious horseshit lustily. Heyman tries to convince them that nobody's more upset than himself, but it doesn't seem like anyone is buying it.
Enter GM Brad Maddox, accompanied by WWE's own Dr. Sampson (their ringside doctor, and guy who is credited with saving Jerry Lawler's life almost exactly one year ago when he had his heart attack)... Maddox says that WWE maintains a full staff of qualified medical professionals for a reason, and if Heyman is to be pulled from Sunday's PPV, he'll have to be evaluated by them.
Heyman is indignant, saying he's already been diagnosed, so what's the point? But Maddox insists, and Heyman's painted into a corner. He finally relents, and says Dr. Sampson can exam him right now.
So Dr. Sampson gets down on his knees, and rolls Heyman's pant leg up to his thigh, and starts gently carassing Heyman's knee region. The crowd: "THIS IS AWK- WARD!" Ha! Sometimes, these wanker-heavy crowds can get on my nerves, but that chant was gold.
The "exam" goes on for maybe a little too long, but it gets across the point that pretty much anything Doc Sampson did, Heyman wincing/cringed/screamed in pain, so obviously, he must really be injured, right?
Wrong. Once done, Dr. Sampson says that there are no tell-tale signs of a significant injury happening within the past 30 minutes, like hematomas or reflexive pathology or many other long words I could make up. In short, Heyman's not really hurt.
Paul gets barely a second and a half to bluster about Dr. Sampson's dubious qualifications when "Cult of Personality" fires up... Heyman hops back on one leg, and watches as Punk storms the ring with a kendo stick. Then, he jumped off the apron and sprinted away at full speed (and with no limp). Axel was right behind.
Punk just smiled and shook his head at Paul's silly ruse... and then he noticed the Burly Doctor was still in the ring. The crowd encouraged Punk to beat him up, but Punk first teased that he was gonna let the guy go.... then, at the last second, Punk went to town on the guy, using the kendo stick.
That'll learn him to hand out fake diagnoses! As far as cheap heat goes, it doesn't get much simpler than this: heel fakes an injury, gets exposed. Pure 1980s material. In a good way. Straightforward, but satisfying, while also goosing a few more buys for Sunday's PPV...
Ugh. It's bad enough that WWE decided to cross the streams between wrestling and their "reality" show... now, they can't even be bothered trying to present that mess in a coherent fashion. Babyfaces consorting with heel, and is there any surprise that this flopped badly?
AJ was on guest commentary, basically trashing all the women. She also got the line of the night in... when Lawler creepily asked her about her tattoos, she said, "Aww, Jerry, that's cute, but I'm 26 years old. And I know you like 'em younger."
Then Nattie got the Sharpshooter on one of the other ones.
Your Winners: Nattie/Brie/Naomi, via submission, in under 2 minutes. Whatever.
So yeah. This happened. And it was so thrilling that the crowd just completely gave up on paying attention, and decided to do the Yankee Stadium-style Roll Call, chanting for each announcer (even Justin Roberts) until they acknowledged the chant.
This took about 3 minutes, by which point, del Rio had established firm control, and did some taunting, which briefly caused the audience to chant "ARE VEE DEE" just to upset ADR.
But then Truth made a comeback, and they did a little back and forthy, forcing the crowd to reconsider... they decided to randomly chant "UN DER TAKE HER" for a bit. Then Alberto cinched in the cross armbreaker, and it was over.
Your Winner: Alberto del Rio, via submission, in 5-6 minutes. I won't say the match was bad, because it wasn't. But I also won't say the crowd was bad for how they reacted to it, because they weren't. This was purely pointless filler, with no reason to exist, and the crowd called WWE on it. Fair play to them.
Special Announcement: the PPV Preshow on Sunday will feature a #1 Contenders Match, with the winners getting a shot at the tag titles on the PPV itself. The five teams in the match are the Real Americans, the PTPs, the Usos, the Dancing Fat Men, and 3MB.
Colter prefaces the match with some anti-Canada rhetoric, but for some reason, a vocal minority still sing along with "We the People!" Then Santino's music hits, and he makes his surprise return to a HUGE pop.
The heat died away, however, when Cesaro snuffed out Santino's early offense, and it seemed like this was just gonna be a squash. But then, an odd thing happened: Cesaro did a Giant Swing on Santino. The crowd was not impressed at first. But after 20 seconds they started ooh'ing an daahhhh'ing. After 30 seconds, they started clapping. After 45 seconds they were going apeshit, as Cesaro just kept going.
When Cesaro finally let go, there was a "HO LEE SHIT" chant, and well deserved, it was.
From here on out, Cesaro was in command, but Santino kept kicking out of everything, further drawing the crowd in. Cesaro even preemptively blocked and de-socked the Cobra, making his victory seem assured.
But nope: Cesaro got cocky, and wasted too much time celebrating after a stiff throw. When he sauntered back over to Santino, he got schoolboyed, and couldn't escape.
Your Winner: Santino Marella, via pinfall, in 4-5 minutes. No, Santino is not a workrate wizard. But yes, this was a hell of a lot of fun. I'm sure Santino will be back to not winning very often on RAW, but for tonight, it was sure entertaining to see a full on Air Trombone Celebration.
Before the match, Damien assured us that his day of coronation was coming soon enough, but until then, we are welcome to consider him OUR uncrowned World Heavyweight Champion. Thank you, Mr. Sandow, I shall do just that!
Then Miz's music interrupts, and we've got ourselves a wrestling match. Crowd is decidedly pro-Sandow, which is, at least, better than them being pro-Undertaker. Ahem. Still, Sandow's mid-match heel beatdown isn't exactly setting things on fire, either.
Miz begins his hulk up to boos. Then Fandango's music starts up, and he and Summer Rae hit the stage to boogie down. Miz is transfixed by this (and given Summer's dress, I guess you can't blame him), allowing Sandow all the time he needed to recover, hit the Terminus, and make the cover.
Your Winner: Damien Sandow, via pinfall, in 4 minutes. A big fat "meh," but I like any time babyface Miz is booed, and OO's Avatar of Intellectual Superiority gets to win. So there's that. On the other hand, now Miz/Fandango is still A Thing, to the delight of none.
Backstage: Renee Young is standing by, and gets a huge pop from her countrymen. Then Goldust strolls in to be interviewed, and gets an even bigger pop. The question is basically "pressure much?" And Goldust admits that yes, this is the biggest match of his life, and he needs to win, not just for Cody, but to redeem himself after he's been the Rhodes Family Disappointment for so many years.
That's when HHH walks by, and decides to ladle it on even thicker, talking about how terrible it would be if "Dustin" embarassed himself one more time, and cost his brother his only chance at redemption in the process, and yadda yadda yadda, Don't Screw Up or Else...
If Goldust wins, Cody gets his job back. If not, well, you figure it out... and out of the gate, the combination of Nostalgic Fondness for Goldust and the more Temporally-Relevant Issue of Cody's Wrongful Termination add up to a fired up crowd.
And Goldust doesn't disappoint, with a huge run of offense to start the match, causing Orton to keep bailing out. And also, causing the fans to give a "YOU STILL GOT IT" chant to Dustin.
The pattern repeats a few times, until Goldust sets up for the Shattered Dreams Sac Punt... but Orton once again bails out of the ring to kill time. So we break for...
Back, and the patterns has just repeated again: Goldust on a roll, Orton plays the chickenshit and powders out. But this time, they do the cat-and-mouse roll reversal spot, so when Goldust chases Orton back into the ring, Orton stomps him down and gains control. And immediately knocks the pace down, to boot. A partial Garvin Stomp into a chinlcok, and even the announcers blatantly state that Orton's trying to take the air out of the building by slowing things down to his own pace.
Luckily, his lethargic beatdown didn't exactly last forever. A few minutes later, and BAM, Goldust ducks a clothesline and comes bouncing back off the ropes with a bulldog for a two count. From there, we just went full speed ahead into End Game.
Turnbuckle mount-and-punch by Goldust, but he wastes time doing the Nipple Taunt, so Orton's able to set up his Hangman DDT, but Orton wastes time mocking Bryan's "YES" pose, so Goldust is able to bust out a big surprise: he hits Orton with the CrossRhodes (Cody's finisher) for an ultra-convincing 2-count. Nice.
Another couple of exchanges and reversals, however, and Orton was able to hit the RKO out of nowhere for the win.
Your Winner: Randy Orton, via pinfall, in 15 mintues. Very good match, probably Orton's second best since reverting to a heel. Giving Goldust such an extended and convincing fast start not only established that "He's still got it" (and should be taken seriously), but it put Orton's heel beatdown segment into a tiny little 3-minute box, where it was much less offensive than when his lethargy takes up half a match and he only heats it up for the final few mintues. The result was a very entertaining, very compelling match where even I thought the CrossRhodes might be the real finish. Love it when that happens.
Coming Soon: Los Matadores. And by "soon," we apparently mean "eventually."
ROB VAN DAM (w/ Ricardo) vs. RYBACK
Ricardo is no longer a "personal ring announcer." Instead, when he's announced, he's "RVD's Numero Uno Amigo." In other news, Ryback's got a new nickname: "The Big Guy." [True Story: freshman year of college, one of the orientation/bonding sessions on our dorm floor was to get to know each other well enough to give each other nicknames. I was dubbed "The Big Guy." But not for the reason you might suspect. But because the guy across the hall caught me watching WKRP reruns on two consecutive days, and decided I wasn't much of a Venus Flytrap. So maybe I'll use this as an excuse to like Ryback. Or maybe not.]
Anyway, match is mostly RVD, to the point where he gets Rolling Thunder and the Molly-go-Round back-to-back, and sets up for the Five Star. But when Ryback rolls out of the way, RVD turns and tries to hit him on a top-rope-to-the-floor dive, and instead crashes into the barricade.
Ryback, apparently frustrated that RVD had gotten the better of him, just hoists RVD up in the Atomic Drop position, and crotches him onthe steel ring post. THAT'S NOT LEGAL!
Your Winner: RVD, via DQ, in under 3 minutes. So RVD is good enough to get the best of Ryback, but Ryback still gets the last laugh, making RVD back into a crippled underdog going into Sunday's PPV title match? Works for me, I guess. But again, more about telling that story than about being an actual wrestling match...
Backstage: Big Show is WALKING~! And Stephanie McMahon catches up to him, once again acting all understanding and sympathetic, but in a way you can tell is phony. She just can't have total choas, so she hopes Show understands that he can't lay his hands on anybody in tonight's main event. She leaves, and Show is seething. Then we pan over and see an incongrously placed TV set. And not just is it out of place, it's out of time, baby. It's a giant CRT/tube TV that hasn't been technologically relevent in a good 10 years or so. So Big Show does what any one would do, if faced with a worthless piece of electronics: he smashes it into a billion pieces.
DANIEL BRYAN (w/ Big Show) vs. DEAN AMBROSE (w/ Shield) (Non-Title)
Shield enters first. Then Big Show comes down, and is seated at ringside. And then Bryan enters, and we're off.
Feeling out process to start, leaving me to actually have enough surplus attention span that I paid attention to commentary. Specifically, JBL was taking the pro-HHH stance while Lawler was pretty critical of the boss. JBL then joked that maybe Lawler was wearing the nice WWE Golf Shirt to score points with the administration, andmake up for his insubordinate views. But nope: Lawler said the airlines just lost his luggage, so he'll be back to wearing ludicrous bedazzlered t-shirt next week. Looking like a halfway respectable professional was just a one-week deal. Too bad.
Anyway, the match picks up a bit, as Bryan starts getting traction, only to have the Shield run interference. Ambrose chucks Bryan out of the ring, to the floor, right in front of Big Show. As Ambrose sports a shit-eating grin, Bryan tries to get it together, and Show is anguished that he can't go help his li'l buddy.
Back, and we join the heel beatdown sequence in progress. Ambrose controls Bryan with chinlocks and strikes (and antagonizes the crowd, just to make sure they stay with it). Bryan, inspired by Big Show as his Personal Cheerleader (Show led the crowd in rhythmic clapping and "YES!" chants), tried firing up a few times, to no avail. Until the time it worked.
Specifically, Ambrose went up top, but Bryan was able to knock his leg out, and crotch him on the top rope. Then, as is his wont, Bryan pulled Ambrose back, leaving him wide open for the Dropkick of Woe. Bryan then followed up by going for the YES! Lock, but Ambrose got a rope break. Then Bryan took it up top, and delivered a Backdrop Superplex for a convincing 2 (even Big Show sold it like he thought it should be over, proving once again that Broad Gesturing is the finest form of gesturing).
Bryan kept on firing, with a ton of YES! kicks... but when he went for the big Wind-Up YES! Kick, Ambrose ducked and grabbed Bryan's leg. After a quick exchange, he tossed Bryan out of the ring again, and again, it was right in front of Big Show.
But this time, the Shield decided to press their luck. Keeping an eye on Show, Rollins approached Bryan, to see if Show was gonna do anything. Show stayed seated, so Rollins eventually decided it was OK to attack (while Ambrose kept the ref distracted). But nope: Rollins took too much time, and when he chargged, Bryan blocked it, and threw Rollins into the announce table.
Meantime, Reigns was watching, and lined Bryan up for a Spear. But Show shouted a word of warning, and Bryan side stepped the Spear, and Reigns went crashing into the steel ring steps. And I mean crashing FORCEFULLY. The steps wound up moving 8 feet or so. Ouch.
Unfortunately, Bryan spent too much time admiring his handiwork, and missed Ambrose breaking off the confab with the ref to take matters into his own hands. Ambrose clobbered Bryan from behind, and took the match back into the ring, where Bryan kicked out of a few covers. Ambrose kept imploring him to quit being such a fool, and just stay down, but that's not Bryan's way.
Instead, Bryan just played possum, and when Ambrose decided to quit talking and start wrestling again, Bryan rolled him up, and kept him down for 3.
Your Winner: Daniel Bryan, via pinfall, in 15 minutes or so. Another really, really good match. It's a coin flip as to which was better, if you ask me. Maybe a slight edge to Goldust/Orton, just because it was more unique/special/stunt-casty, as opposed to another iteration of Bryan vs. Shield (which we've seen a lot of). But still, no complaints here, at all.
After the Match: Bryan got to celebrate for a moment or two in the ring (Show seemed happy to stay outside, and let the kid have his moment), but then Orton's music hit. He strolled confidently to the ring, but Bryan just got a running start and hit the Flying Goat Dive on Orton at the very foot of the ramp. It looked like Bryan was gonna get the better of his PPV opponent a mere 6 days before their match, but nope...
The Shield have regrouped, and they join the fray. Bryan falls to the 4-on-1 beatdown. Bryan eats an RKO, and Big Show has no choice but to look on and let it happen. Orton starts taunting Show, and Show decides to just walk away.
Until, that is, HHH comes out and stands on top of the stage. "Not so fast, Big Show." HHH is happy Show played ball so far tonight, but now, he wants Show to do a repeat of last week: get in that ring, and unleash the WMD on Daniel Bryan. Or else.

Show is conflicted, but heads back to the ring. But he procrastinates, causing Orton to launch into another cheesy/scripted/no-mic-but-you-hear-the-dialogue-anyway moments that turned last week's main event into an embarassed-to-be-a-werestling-fan moment. This needs to end. Now. Before WWE thinks it's a valid form of pro wrestling.
Anyway, Show doesn't want to punch Bryan, and Orton does want Show to punch Bryan, so Orton keeps berating him. With his back turned to Bryan. Uh oh. Orton turns around, and sure enough, he wasted just enough time that he walks into Bryan's running Knee to the Skull.
Show bails out, happy to have provided the distraction, and the show fades to black with Bryan grabbing Orton's belt and YES!'ing along with an enthusiastic crowd.
And so ends the show... and I'll be happy to declare it a good one. Even with some obvious lazy filler stuff, and a crowd that shat all over a couple segments, I'll tend to credit that to the fact that -- for the most part -- 3 hours is just a really long time to go full speed ahead, than blame it on any insidious awfulness.
Two really good wrestling matches are always welcome. The opening promo/angle with Edge lending some stunt casting sizzle was strong. The story arc with Heyman was also fun. And hey, I loved seeing Santino back; I'm a mark like that.
I will underscore something I mentioned above, about the "talky, but with no mic" thing. It's something that's been used sporadically in the past to drive home an especially important/unique angle, but this is two weeks in a row where WWE's used the tactic in a blatantly ham-handed/script-y way as part of the main event post-match angle. And I hate it.
To be clear, I don't hate it because it's difference and/or new. I hate it because it is bad. I'm sure WWE's thinking is that anything that's fair game for other scripted TV is fair game for them, and if you disagree, you're a closed-minded meaniehead. Well, I disagree. Sometimes, you need to quit stubbornly trying to be what everybody else is, and stay true to what makes your genre unique.
To me, that means a sort of shared reality in which fans at home and fans in the arena get the same experience. When you deviate from that is when wrestling seems especially phony and lame, and causes the "Embarassed to be a Wrestling Fan" Syndrome that I mentioned last week. Sure, it's already pretty phony, but it's phony in a consistent and realiable way... it's OUR kind of phony.
But when you do shit like Randy Orton reading off a script while he's chatting with Big Show in the corner, without a mic, without it being an actual public address, that's a different thing entirely, and it feels wrong to me. Go ahead and grab a mic and cut a promo. Otherwise, use body language and (Broad) gestures to convey the message, with any talking being spontaneous blurts, and not scripted dialogue. You don't have any special privileges to tell one story to the TV viewer that isn't the same as the story told to the guy in the cheap seats.
I could probably explain this even more clearly or forcefully, but hey, you've already sat through 10,000 words today. I can stash it for another time, if WWE insists on doing it.
In the meantime, I'll consult my Inner Pyro, and declare that tonight's RAW scores a Daniel-Bryan-esque B+.

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
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
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
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
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
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?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



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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