It wasnt really the best show ever obviously, but I had to go with some crazy hyperbole this week to express how much fun I had watching this show. Because I did love this show. A lot. Its crazy how exciting Raw has become in the middle of this year.
Starting with a match! It was only recently that I was trying to play the fun game of trying to remember the last time Raw opened with a match. (Incidentally, I came up with another Miz WWE Title match, vs Morrison in the New Year.) One smells shenanigans. I loved the little touch of showing the ‘Backstage Sellout’ to try and put the Interim Title over as something.
The match was actually pretty great, a bunch of cool stuff and it built well. Totally dug the apron bit where Rey fought off his back into the rana. Loved Miz countering Rey’s roll-through dropkick with his own kick, and shortly thereafter killing him with a cool Boot. Then the slingshot powerbomb! I noticed that last week too, thats a great new move. Turned into a fun match and then REY MYSTERIO MOTHERF*CKERS! WOOOOOOOO! I dont care, I could watch Rey win the world title every single day ever. I just love this guy. Crowd went pretty insane for the finish too, which was nice. But what the hell, whatever comes afterwards, I enjoyed this immensely.
Miz! What a douche. ALBERTO! Well, one would think. OHNOHEDIDNT! It seemed weird to me that he would cash in when Rey had only been hit like once, and wasnt injured or anything. But I’m glad they let Rey have his moment unscathed. Plus, thats the second Alberto attempt/fake out. I liked it when Cole said Rey had learned to avoid the cash in, I like the idea going forward that Alberto is trying to cash in but he cant find the right moment, he keeps getting foiled because the champ is ready for him. Hopefully it leads to the end where the champ has been basically murdered and finally Alberto can seal the deal. In any case I like that they’re smart enough not to try and force Alberto right now, where he’ll get overshadowed by a much bigger angle.
Ahaha, I liked the backstage babyface celebration. Also Rey’s promo. Telling his wife and kids he’s coming home with the gold was a nice touch. You see, this. He didnt say anything, it was like 30 seconds at most, but he came off as a sincere, happy babyface. They need more stuff like that, just get these guys talking naturally.
Dolph’s remix sucks. Dont know what the deal is with Downstrait, but they swung and missed here. Bad decision. On the plus side, Dolph/Bourne was a fun little semi-squash. Bourne’s crazy RANA from the floor to the top rope was insane. I like Angry “Follow that!” Dolph, but it would have come across better had it followed something more impressive than beating Bourne. See, the problem with Raw and nothing matches.
Love, love, LOVE the mini-videos they did to preview Kofi vs Alberto. One of the best things they’ve done this year is the sudden use of video production every show, and this is another good addition. Approved.
I dont get the significance of the beer guy, so the skit went over my head a little, but it was fine. But it was weird to me that they did the thing where one Bella is tagged, and then…they didnt work the match. What was the point of drawing on her if you’re going to wait until she washes it off to work them? Weird.
Anywho, by the end of this I didnt care at all about the Bellas because KELLY AND MARYSE! Maryse has been AWOL for months but she just became relevant again in 2 minutes. Doing the Kelly Kelly Oral Sex of Doom Attack was great, then Kelly lunging for Maryse so she HIDES and gets spanked was great, and Kelly doing the Maryse Hair Flip as a receipt was great AND MARYSE’S FACE. Kelly and Maryse having a homoerotic feud mocking each other’s moves is going to RULE.
Calling Hunter the Chief Operating Officer is a bit of a mouthful, although I suppose they had to come up with something new to distance him from the familiar ‘Chairman’ or ‘General Manager’ or whatever. Ahh, Cena vs Rey. Actually, wait, that sounds incredible. Good decision. “CM Punk” chants are a good sign. And JIM MOTHERF*CKING ROSS BITCHES! I have never, EVER been so happy to hear a marching band in all my life. JIM ROSS. Yeah, f*ck the f*ck off Cole, just go away. Manage. GM. Fish. Hunt. Die. I dont care, just GO AWAY. Bugger, after Cole’s epic rant I thought that was the way they’d get rid of him, but alas. I loved him ranting and raving while JR just stands there stonefaced like “…what a pathetic motherf*cker.” Surly no-selling JR rules. Surely having established such a strong Cole/JR beef they cant end up just sitting there announcing and bickering? Surely? I would kill myself.
OH MY GOD IN HEAVEN, HUNTER AND TRUTH.
BEST. SEGMENT. EVER.
Its probably because I havent heard it for 18 months, but I was totally in the mood for some Hunter Comedy. I LAUGHED FOREVER. All of the banter and all of the lines, from Truth’s “et cetera, et cetera..” to Hunter’s “This guy doesnt like your guy eyeballing him” and then “Look, now you made him mad!”, until Truth came back with that deadpan “Man, you crazy!” and I DIED. LITERALLY DIED. He nailed that sh*t right there. So for 10 minutes today R-Truth re-staked his claim to be the Greatest Man in the Entire World. We certainly have a lot of contenders at the mo’.
And then Morrison! I popped, and I popped huge for the LEAP over the stairs, that was an awesome way to turn a generic comeback brawl into something distinctly Morrisonish. But man, does he ever lack something as an intense revenge seeking babyface. Not enough babyface fire for mine. But still, I’m glad he’s back and their Summerslam match, assuming they go for some real hatred, should be sweet.
Hunter Cole! OK, it was worth going through Cole today to see him do his Hunter. I laughed. But more importantly ZACK! It wasnt a huge pop but the immediate “Lets Go Ryder” chant was great. In a similar vein to Punk, there might be just enough smart adult males in the crowds these days to get him through. Loved the “I WON! I WON ON RAW!” reaction. Good decision, this. Plus, Cole got squashed in seconds flat. The best Cole match ever. I cannot hate.
Kofi vs Alberto! Man, I’m looking forward to this as a match, but at the same time this depresses the hell out of me, because I know this is Raw, and Alberto is going to get his win back in about 4 minutes and nobody will get over from the whole exercise. The story of a Raw midcarder’s life. I hope I’m wrong.
But I aint. The match itself was a pretty super 3-minute match, they jammed a whole lot into this, with some good arm work all the way through. Loved Kofi going for a tope so Alberto RUNS FAR, FAR AWAY so Kofi does his rope feint, that was cool as hell. I also especially loved the rollup where the ref’s actions made the crowd think he’d actually won the match and they went NUTS. And then the clean finish playing into the arm work. Good match, but again…Kofi man. It just makes me sad. If I had my way this guy would be HUGE by now. Nevermind.
Oh, one thing I forgot to mention, Lawler saying that it was Ricardo who normally comes out with a card telling the announcers the make and price of Alberto’s Car of the Day was some incredible detail work. I marked for that.
Miz crying. Meh.
So glad this is getting some time. The more I think about it, the more excited I’m getting. I dont remember these guys ever working together, at least since Cena was on Smackdown certainly, and these two guys at the height of their babyface workrate-ness is pretty much an epic dream match for me.
OK, Cena vs Rey was freaking AWESOME. Loved the SH*T out of this. Awesome, awesome fun. Loved the early feeling-out, working a headlock, the “this is a babyface title match, its serious business”. Then Rey quickly busts out that somersault plancha, and soon afterwards he balances on the stairs but Cena KILLS HIM with that lariat. Havent seen Rey do the split-legged moonsault in ages either. See, one thing I really loved in general was the mixing up of spots and busting new stuff out, like a proper epic title match. The first 619 attempt into Cena’s weird powerslam. Cena going into his Shoulder Block routine-DROPKICK MOTHERF*CKER! Second Five Moves counter in nine days (Cena always does the same moves rargh!).
And similarly, in the second Interrupt My Train Of Thought To Praise WWE Commentary in nine days, somewhere here Lawler mentions that Cena “hasnt thrown one punch in this match”, which I thought was an excellent point to make to put over the fact that Cena and Rey were having an honourable babyface wrestling match for the title. (As well as, I admit, a certain satisfaction at ‘Argh Cena!’ too.)
Anyway, this match ruled. The counters, the counters I tell ye! Like the spinny slam countered into the wheelbarrow but no the spinny slam after all! You dont counter Rey’s wheelbarrow every day either. Then Rey counters Cena Catching him with a rana. Then Cena counters Rey’s senton into the STF but then Rey STFs Cena! I marked like a little girl for that. See, this is the thing, and I hate to turn this into a huge bitchfest, but like, Kurt Angle has matches and his opponents perform his finishers all the time, so I see it, I’m like “eh”. I dont think anyone has EVER hit Cena with his own finishers, so suddenly Rey sweeps the leg and does the STF and I’m out of my chair marking out. THAT is doing sh*t right.
Anyway, what was just as great as that was Cena using his Strength to stand up, and as soon as he started I thought “Yep, there it is, thats the finish”, so he Strength’d Up and got the FU but OHNOHECOLLAPSED! Incredible sell job of it too, in all honesty. I LOVED that bit. And just to pile on the awesome, Cena was selling his knee so he crawled to the ropes for support and BAM619MOTHERF*CKER! Incredibly fluid 619 because I legit didnt even realise he was in position until he hit it. Rey DIED again from being thrown from the powerbomb, Cena hit his leg drop to the front for another cool variation, and finally bam, 619 run into the FU.
I feel ridiculous using so much ink describing every little spot in this match, again, but, again, every little spot was so awesome I had to list them all. I had so, so much fun watching this. These guys ever get a rematch on PPV I’ll sell my soul and pay for it.
And then-THE CULT OF PERSONALITY.
I marked, there are so many layers to this: just having new music, the lyrics of the song, the callback to the Summer of Punk I, even the fact that it was Austin’s HOF music. What an inspired move, even though changing music meant that they crowd couldnt react to it. I did like how Cena was like “that aint Alberto”, which is another little piece of detail work I marked for.
Punk looked like a star here. He often doesnt, just because he’s so small and indy looking, but he looked like a legit star coming out here. With his new entrance, new shirt and holding the real title belt, he made Cena look so lame in comparison. And I like that they did it that way too, with Cena at first trying to say “Screw you, I just won the new title” but Punk holds up the real title and it all sinks in that a) he didnt really win the WWE Title, b) he lost the real title to Punk, and c) everyone in the crowd realises it too. Cena was visibly defeated by the reality of the situation, all stemming from the simple fact that he lost the title to Punk.
So now you have to watch next week to find out if/why Punk is resigned, if Punk vs Cena II is on for Summerslam, what happens to Rey potentially left out in the cold for California, and so on. Raw is good.