Last night’s Raw was not the most eventful episode in recent months, but it did have it’s fair share of nice moments. The best diva in the company went heel, the SummerSlam card took shape, and Triple H coined the phrase “skinny fat ass.” The water bottle of death returned. A Cobra visited Long Island. But ultimately, the soul-crushing status quo remained intact. A full recap and analysis of last night’s action awaits just beyond the jump.
- CM Punk opened last night’s Raw to address the WWE Universe about his recent return. Up until this point, all of Punk’s actions have remained heel-like, or at least tweenerish. That all changed with this promo, as his words were not only strictly those of a face, but he even resorted to seeking some cheap pops. Punk revealed that he returned to Raw for the people, because he cares about the members of the WWE Universe. He wants to facilitate change within the company and save the audience from the “soul-crushing status quo.” As he read his love letter to the fans, he was interrupted by Triple H’s theme music, which ushered The Game down the aisle. Triple H called Punk smug and overrated, claiming that the real reason the Champ returned to the company was for the sake of his own ego. Punk, conversely, said that Triple H couldn’t afford to let him walk, and proceeded to list talent that the WWE has cut ties with in the past, name-dropping Batista, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, and Brock Lesnar. A defiant Punk made a few snide comments about Triple H’s relationship with Stephanie, which included a fantastic impression of Trips. The Straight Edger refused to back down with from the Cerebral Assassin even at the threat of physicality, as he closed the segment by playfully slapping HHH in the face with his own tie. I’m conflicted as to how I felt about this opening. I love CM Punk – this is an absolute truth. That being said, I feel like his “pipe bomb” gimmick is already losing steam. Making jokes about Triple H holding guys back isn’t groundbreaking stuff, and while I don’t expect Punk to innovate the industry every week, it seems like the WWE’s efforts to keep him “cutting-edge” are forced and we’re just a few weeks into this angle. I fear it’s going to be diluted down to “just another story” in no time. Until then, though, let’s continue to give CM Punk and this storyline the benefit of the doubt. Predator was a great flick even though Jesse the Body bit the dust.
- There was a divas battle royal to determine who would challenge Kelly Kelly at SummerSlam. About three seconds into the match, Melina was eliminated, and I wondered to myself if she had heat on her again for her backstage antics. My ponderings were soon stomped out, though, as divas started flying out of the ring left and right, indicating that this was going to be your typical 2-minute divas match and that Melina’s speedy elimination was just one of many. There was a commercial break during which no one was eliminated, the longest stretch without a body sailing to the floor in the entire match. The commentary was hard to listen to in this one – Michael Cole and Kelly Kelly bickering over airbrushed photos has no place on Monday nights. Kelly Kelly’s defense of her pictures, citing that they get put online immediately and that it “takes an hour to Photoshop,” was probably a dumber call than Triple H’s “skinny fat ass” directive. Jim Ross mercifully pointed out that there was a battle royal going on in an attempt to end the inanity. Beth Phoenix won after dumping both Bella Twins from the ring, earning her shot at the Divas Title at SummerSlam. When Kelly Kelly tried to congratulate the new #1 contender, she was tossed around by Phoenix, who effectively turned heel. Awww yeeeaaaa. Beth Phoenix rocks, and she’ll be awesome as a monster heel. Hopefully she succeeds in taking the strap from Kelly and holds it until Kharma is ready for a return program.
- R-Truth & The Miz were victorious over the team of John Morrison and Rey Mysterio when Truth picked up a rare pinfall over the returning JoMo. In a pre-match promo, Truth referred to Triple H as “Mr. H’s” and spelt conspiracy “c-o-n-spiracy.” Love this dude. It was good to see Morrison back in the ring, showing no signs of rust. After the closing bell, the heels continued their assault on the Prince of Parkour. Miz connected with a Skull Crushing Finale on Morrison, and as if that weren’t enough, R-Truth followed it up by slamming a water bottle into JoMo’s head. This is at least the second time since his heel turn that Truth has leveled somebody with a plastic water bottle, and for my money, that’s pretty awesome. I hope that Truth and Morrison get to have their payoff match at SummerSlam, but a feud between Morrison and Miz following the big event would certainly be welcome.
- Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero, the WWE’s “platonic power couple,” came to the ring to address the members of the locker room. Dolph stated that nobody under contract can measure up to him. My fingers were crossed for Zack Ryder, but instead out came Alex Riley. Riley taunted that Ziggler hides behind Vickie, just like the Miz used to hide behind him. After Riley laid down a challenge, the United States Champion loosened his tie and looked ready to exchange blows, but he instead rolled out of the ring and retreated up the ramp. Riley’s success thus far has come by feuding with The Miz (at the height of his heat) and Michael Cole. Now he’s positioned opposite Vickie Guerrero, who is one of the most hated characters on WWE programming. When the cheap pops that result in opposing super-over heels expire, I’ll be curious to see how the audience reacts to Riley.
- Well, despite not interrupting Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder was on Raw. Granted, he was teaming with Santino Marella in a losing effort against Michael McGillicutty & David Otunga, but he was on. There was nothing to see here. Santino now has a cobra sleeve that he wears, and I’m sure we’ll start seeing them pop up in the crowd in the coming weeks. Team Bland really needs to lose those Tag Team Titles. The fact that there are no other tag teams in the company is a bit problematic, though.
- Alberto Del Rio met Evan Bourne in a match that sounded better on paper than it was in execution. It’s not that their match last night was bad, but I feel like if given some time, these two could really put on a show. Del Rio emerged the victor after forcing Bourne to tap to the Cross Armbreaker. Following the match, Del Rio locked the high flyer in the submission again, applying pressure to Bourne’s arm until Kofi Kingston ran out to make the save. It looks like we’ll be getting Alberto vs Kofi at SummerSlam, which is fine by me. One of these days, Del Rio will get his title match, but I’m in no rush to get there. He’s a great talent, but I don’t think I could buy him as Champion just yet anyway. Also, an aside, I love Ricardo Rodriguez. So glad to have him back.
- A WWE.com poll showed that 54% of voters feel that John Cena is the deserved WWE Champion, while 46% support CM Punk. After hearing all night about the “mixed crowd,” one that clearly preferred CM Punk, I have to wonder how legitimate these results are.
- The “main event” segment was an interview featuring Triple H, John Cena, John Laurinaitis, and CM Punk. Not much was accomplished in the segment, other than the official announcement of the SummerSlam main event as CM Punk vs John Cena for the WWE Championship(s). Outside of that, Cena echoed Punk’s statements on Laurinaitis, calling him a yes-man to Vince, and threw in a spot-on impression for good measure. In an actually kind of sweet reference, Cena mocked Laurinaitis’ old Dynamic Dudes gimmick, mentioning that he used to carry a skate board. CM Punk pointed out that the show was already back to its normal state, with John Cena holding the WWE Championship. The show ended with Punk and Cena both lifting their titles above their heads, one higher than the other, and eventually both standing on turnbuckles with the Championships raised high.
I guess Raw wasn’t that bad. I feel like Punk lost some momentum, and I could really do without Johnny Ace on television. I already hate Triple H as the authority figure, and not in a “hate him because we’re supposed to” kind of way. I just haven’t cared for the guy since 2001, and it’s tough to tolerate his expanded role now. While I’m whining, I think Riley is a wasted opponent for Ziggler, as the latter is capable of stealing the show on any given pay-per-view, and I don’t think A-Ry will be able to hold his own against him. On the plus side, Beth Phoenix rules pretty hard. And Punk’s shirt (currently available for pre-order) is still sweet. And some fan yelled “Push Zack Ryder!” at Laurinaitis as he was walking to the ring. The broski who shouted that is A-OK in my book.