The main event of Raw may have featured three men competing for the #1 contendership to the WWE Championship, but there were really six key players at work. In addition to The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, and Rey Mysterio who were in the match, the presence of R-Truth, John Cena, and Alex Riley loomed over it. The show opened with an in-ring confrontation between Truth, Miz, Del Rio, and Mysterio, all of whom claimed they should face John Cena at Over the Limit. Luckily, the Raw General Manager was a little more prudent than Teddy Long, establishing a triple threat match to determine the number one contender rather than letting the crowd decide via applause.
The main event was the best match that Raw has hosted in a while. The usual triple threat formula of having two guys wrestle while the third man rests on the outside was cast aside and all three competitors were active for most of the contest. The bout was action packed from bell to bell, and in the end, it was The Miz who had his hand raised in victory after he received some help from Alex Riley. Earlier in the night, The Miz had berated Riley for costing him the WWE Title last week, but A-Ry’s assistance this week was surely enough to put him back in the Miz’s good graces. After the match ended, John Cena let it be known that his match with The Miz at Over the Limit would be of the “I Quit” variety. I commend the WWE for using a match type that wasn’t included at Extreme Rules. After the announcement, R-Truth hit the ring and leveled Rey Mysterio, seemingly cementing a spot on the Over the Limit card for the two of them to do battle.
I’ll be curious to see what becomes of Alberto Del Rio heading into the pay-per-view. I have no doubt that the original plan was for Miz to meet Cena, Truth to face Morrison, and Del Rio headline a match with Rey Mysterio, but with Morrison’s injury, it appears as though Del Rio is the odd man out. More on the main event drama, Michael Cole’s squished face, and Dolph Ziggler’s blandness after the jump.
- The opening promo was really solid. The Miz is one of the absolute best talkers in the game, and Alberto Del Rio is no slouch either. Ricardo Rodriguez had a rare opportunity to shine as well and even landed a drop kick on Alex Riley. R-Truth still needs some work. His insults (liverlips?) were pretty terrible, he mistakenly identified the Miz as being from LA (he’s from Cleveland), and later in the show, he cut an absolutely ridiculous backstage promo about not caring about his fans. I’m certainly enjoying him more as a heel than I was as a face, and I can see his seething bad-man character going places, but he’s not a finished product just yet.
- John Cena DESTROYED Alex Riley in a one-on-one match around the mid-point of the show. He nailed the Miz’s star employee with two Attitude Adjustments before making him submit to an STF. No surprises here. The whole time I was watching this, I was plagued with the question of what Alex Riley is doing on Raw. Weeks ago, a match stipulated that he be fired from the Miz’s employ. Since then, he was drafted to Smackdown. Both events have proved meaningless. If they’re going to keep him on Raw as Miz’s little helper, why go through the trouble of pretending they’re not?
- Michael Cole announced his retirement from in-ring competition, but Jerry Lawler had other ideas. Lawler challenged Cole to a match that if Cole won, Lawler would personally induct him into the WWE’s Hall of Fame and present him with his ring. Cole declined, but the match was later accepted by Jack Swagger on Michael Cole’s behalf. Hopefully this will wrap this feud up once and for all. Lawler attacked Cole via pulling his tie through a hole in the Cole Mine, as pictured above, but not before Cole spouted some obnoxiously poorly written material. Last week, Cole used the pathetic tactic of wearing an opposing sports team’s jersey to generate heat, and this week he stooped even lower. He voiced his support of George W. Bush to encourage the crowd’s jeers (that is so 2004) and bashed Elvis Presley before bringing up the death of Lawler’s mother. Everyone hates Cole’s character as is, this is just overkill, and it’s uncomfortable to watch. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he executed a puppy draped in the American flag on live TV next week. It’s getting that ridiculous.
- Kofi Kingston successfully retained the United States Title in a decent match with Jack Swagger. Kofi skinned the cat and had his re-entrance to the ring countered with the Ankle Lock in a pretty cool spot, but he was able to eventually steal a victory with a distraction from Jerry the King. Michael Cole actually referred to the Ankle Lock as the move Jack Swagger made famous, which has violation written all over it.
- This is the last bullet that will reference Cole and Lawler, I swear. Did anybody else notice Little Guido as one of the referees who pulled Lawler away from the Cole Mine? Has he been appearing as a referee for a while and I’m just noticing now, or was this his debut in the striped shirt? I was hoping he’d nail Josh Matthews with the Sicilian Slice, but it was not to be.
- Mason Ryan and Kane wrestled to a no contest when the Nexus interfered. Ryan came to the ring accompanied only by Punk and it wasn’t until later that Otunga and McGillicutty appeared, so I’m wondering if they’re going to be distancing Punk and Ryan from the other two. Big Show floored Punk with a knockout punch and Ryan fell victim to a double chokeslam from the tag team champions. If this turns into a tag team title match at Over the Limit pitting Kane & Show against Punk & Ryan, I’m all for it. I’ve always had a soft spot for the big man/little man tag teams, and I’ll throw my support behind Punk & Ryan as legit tag title contenders in a heartbeat.
- Kelly Kelly & Eve defeated the Bella Twins. In the ultra-predictable aftermath, Kharma approached the ring and took out Eve. She chased Kelly Kelly off for the second consecutive week, so I’m beginning to fear that Kelly may be Kharma’s first actual feud. Why this would be the case instead of Beth Phoenix or Natalya is a mystery to me, but whatever. I’m sure they’ll get there.
- Dolph Ziggler squashed Santino Marella, and the crowd cared more about booing Vickie than anything else. The bleach blonde look Ziggler had been sporting did have to go, but he is awfully generic looking now. He needs to do something to distance himself from the pack – make his ring gear more interesting, add something to his entrance, anything. Cole mentioned that he sees Ziggler as a future World Champion, which is funny, since, you know, he’s already been World Champion. Now that’s award-winning journalism, Cole. Keep up the good work.
- ZACK RIDER! Rider appeared backstage with John Cena for about ten seconds, fistpumping like a champ. About time his face gets on TV.
Well, this week’s Raw was definitely better than last week’s, although that isn’t saying much. This might be the first time ever that I’ve enjoyed an episode of Impact more than either Raw that sandwiched it. Over the Limit is taking shape though, and the Cole/King match withstanding, it should be a pretty decent show so long as Smackdown can get their act together.