Location: Hartford, Connecticut
Announcers: Michael Cole, Jerry "The King" Lawler
Tonight was a special 3 hour episode of RAW. This gave us a nice preview of what to expect when RAW becomes 3 hours permanently on July 23, 2012. More RAW, more review, same pay.
John Laurinaitis in-ring segment
Before Big Johnny could get his catch phrase out, "No Chance" blared throughout the arena, accompanied by the classic McMahon strut. Pretty hot crowd tonight that was total into Mr.McMahon's return. I'm just happy they did this to lead off RAW and didn't drag it out.
Big "Fire Johnny" chant throughout the arena. You could tell Vince was in a jovial mood tonight, evident by his Zach Gowen reference and burial of the Big Show. If watching your boss tell the entire world that you haven't been good since 1999 does not motivate you, nothing will. Vince is here apparently to give Laurinaitis a "performance review".
Calls Big Johnny the worst GM in WWE history (obviously that distinction belongs to Mike Adamle). Vince and Big Johnny need to be wary of the Sheamus curse, as none of his opponents from Over the Limit are even active right now - Jericho (suspension; from Brazil flag), Orton (suspension; Wellness violation), Del Rio (injury; concussion).
Sooooo we're just going to ignore the fact that HHH "fired" Vince McMahon last year? Roger. Moving on. The hot Hartford crowd saved that segment. Mr. McMahon left in the Big Johnny's Rascal and then proceeded to ghost ride it off the stage.
Somehow that fall looked a lot more dangerous when Zack Ryder took it in the wheelchair.
Sheamus vs Lord Tensai
|This match couldn't get any whiter|
If the WWE wants people to take Tensai seriously, instead of TALKING about how much the former Prince Albert dominated over in Japan, put together a video package. Vince, you shelled out the money to allow CM Punk to use "Cult of Personality" and brought in Brock Lesnar for big money only to have him sit at home. Put together some funds to license a 1 minute video package of Tensai's work in All Japan and New Japan.
In all seriousness, putting together a HOSS match is the most effective way to win Vince McMahon over. Quick but solid match between the two giants. Very physical.
Teddy Long proposed a 4-way elimination match later on with the winner taking on Sheamus at No Way Out for the belt. This is great booking after being backed into a corner by Del Rio's injury. Ziggler, Swagger, Christian, and Khali in an elimination match later on. One of these things is not like the others. One of these things doesn't belong. The winner should be fairly obvious, but lets see if the WWE actually listens to the fans.
Back from commercial
Not sure what purpose Lord Tensai beating up his manager served. It killed any momentum RAW had going for it. The hot crowd fell deathly ill for the segment. I meant, silent...sorry.
Talks to a figment of his imagination, is hit with the Big Show's punch. Big Show vs Kofi Kingston in a steel cage later on. Yawn.
Santino/Layla vs Ricardo/Beth Phoenix
Who thought this was a good idea? Terrible, terrible match up. Santino never even entered the ring. And what is with male wrestlers stripping down other men in the ring? As stupid as it was, I did get a chuckle out Ricardo in the purple Bieber shirt.
Meanwhile, Beth Phoenix got the clean victory over the Woman's Champion in this match up. It doesn't make any sense why they don't put the belt on her.
Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler don't agree on much but they can set aside their differences and agree that Suits is an awesome show.
Daniel Bryan Segment
Bryan calls AJ Lee a 95 lb distraction. Then he called out CM Punk on trying to get with his sloppy seconds. That was followed by the greatest line of the night. "Once you go Bryan, there's no point in trying." Put that on a tee shirt and just take my money now. It's pretty amazing that Daniel Bryan still gets cheers after his heel promos. It's a testament on how good he - and this angle - actually is.
|This fan gets a +1 from me|
CM Punk gets involved
Daniel Bryan "You call yourself the voice of the voiceless, yet you pander to everybody."
Daniel Bryan calls Punk a sell out. Punk counters by pointing out Bryan's (brilliant) Yes! t-shirt.
CM Punk "I'm the same guy I was."
That point is debatable. Right now this isn't the same CM Punk that had epic verbal spats with Kevin Nash and Triple H.
Kane comes out.
Even Kane's mic skills have been enhanced by being around Punk and Bryan. My only question is, why doesn't Kane need his voice box anymore? After a bit of back and forth, AJ Lee comes out....looking more phenomenal than Phenomenal AJ Styles.
John Lauranaitis: "Tonight we're gonna see something we've never seen before....a tag-team match." Brilliant. Another mixed tag match announced later on: AJ Lee and CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan and Kane.
Great segment between the four of them, providing much intrigue for their match Sunday. AJ Lee is no Roddy Piper on the mic, but I'm willing to look past that.
Christian/Khali/Swagger/Ziggler in a 4 way elimination match
Well lets see, this is for a match against the Heavyweight champion Sheamus at No Way Out. Christian is already Intercontinental champion so he has no chance at winning. Khali just injured Del Rio, so he's buried (and besides, The Great Khali's offensive repertoire consists of "over hand chest slap, head butt, repeat."). Swagger shouldn't beat Stan Stanksy. The only logical winner should be Dolph Ziggler.
|Taking a break and still working.|
Khali eliminated first, which makes sense since he had used up all of his offense.
Prominent "Let's go Ziggler" chants in the crowd. I expect more of the same this Sunday when he faces Sheamus. In an exchange of former wrestler's finishers, Ziggler kicked out of the spear and Christian kicked out of the fameasser. The quality of the match really picked up once Khali and Swagger were eliminated. Ziggler went over with the Zig-Zag. Great exchanges between Christian and Ziggler. These two can work.
The WWE needs to do elimination matches more often. I'm assuming they hesitated in the past because of time constraints, but with RAW switching to 3 hours, we better be seeing more of these in the future. I know this isn't a championship match, but I hate the concept of the champion being able to lose the belt in triple threat or fatal four way matches without being pinned. This was one of many things that the original ECW had right.
The fatal 4 way was impressive...once it turned into a triple threat! No offense to anybody.
Ryback vs Willard Fillmore and Rutherford "PS" Hayes
|Pete Gas, Rodney, Joey Abs|
Willard Fillmore and Ruthmore Hayes, while entertaining, made me miss Stan Stansky and Arthur Rosenberg. I find it amusing Michael Cole can tell us when the crowd is chanting "Fire Johnny" yet mums the word on the very audible Goldberg chants. Squash match, over in two minutes. Give Ryback something else to do.
When Ryback finally faces a roster member like Yoshi Tatsu it's gonna feel like a main event.
Kofi Kingston vs The Big Show
Sin Cara vs Curt Hawkins
Mad props to the one fan who yelled out "We want Mysterio back" loud enough to make it on camera. I couldn't agree more. I defer to Mr. Tito and WWE Creative's assessment on Sin Cara.
Sin Cara is boring. Nothing but a spot machine with no rhyme or reason. Completely dependent on opponent selling his crap offense.
Sin Cara, which we believe is Spanish for "not knowing when to cut our losses"
Backstage Vince McMahon and Daniel Bryan
Vince reminds Daniel Bryan about his 18 second loss and Wrestlemania, which also mirrors as the darkest day in WWE history. He then proceeds to tell Bryan that there's nothing he does that finishes in 18 seconds.
Heath Slater vs Vader
You read that correctly. As much as I hate seeing retired wrestlers put over current superstars, I marked out huge seeing Vader. Last time I saw Vader, Corey Matthews was trying to get back and forth between Topanga's sweet 16 party and WWF Raw at the Spectrum without getting caught. Not gonna lie, that match was 100x better than any of the mixed tag matches tonight. Plus we were treated to a VADER BOMB!
CM Punk/AJ Lee vs Daniel Bryan and Kane
|AJ Lee smilin' and profilin'|
I'm wasn't quite sure how this bout is going to work. In WWE 12 I always get disqualified if I attack the female wrestler in a mixed tag. Extremely weird match, highlighted by AJ Lee placing a lip lock on Kane. Daniel Bryan might want to consider adding that to his arsenal of 100 submission moves. You can't even call this a real match. It was pretty much 3 minutes of Punk/Bryan and 1 minute of AJ kissing Kane.
Kane is leaving after that kiss from AJ Lee cause he has business to take care of on his own
Main Event Mr. McMahon and John Lauranitis in ring segment
Prediction: Linda comes out, reminds Vince that he's powerless, and says the old folks home has been looking for him all day.
|This seems more important than the title|
The only way the Big Show should lose to John Cena this Sunday at No Way Out is if Duane Ford and C.J. Ross are named special guest referees.
Grade: C - I graded this RAW on a curve. Vader pretty much enhanced it a whole letter grade.
Final Thoughts: So an extra hour of RAW means more in ring interviews, backstage segments, wrestler video packages, RAW history video packages, and many, many more commercials. Through the first 40 minutes, we had one match. Any thoughts of RAW having more matches with an extra hour of content need to be dismissed immediately. Honestly, it felt like the same amount of content with twice the amount of commercials. Tonight was basically a 3 hour advertisement for the 1000th episode of RAW on July 23rd. Vader's surprise return was amazing, the Ziggler win was well deserved, the AJ stuff was....weird, and the rest was filler. If this is how 3 hour RAW's are going to be in the future, count me out.
(Editor's note: You're obviously going to be watching. Don't get crazy on us)
5. Vince McMahon - Brought some much needed new energy to RAW. Still it was annoying that there was no explanation of HHH firing Mr. McMahon a year ago.
4. AJ Lee - Adding to an already great Punk/Bryan/Kane feud
3. Big Show - Dominant in his victory against Kofi Kingston in the steel cage. Faces John Cena this Sunday. It's the first time he's been interesting in quite some time.
2. Dolph Ziggler - Won the 4 way elimination chamber match. Faces the world champion at No Way Out on Sunday for a shot at the belt in a match that he could win.
1. Vader - It's time! It's time! It's Vader time!
That does it for this week's RAW review. Below average episode that left us all with the same question: Did Jerry Lawler ever get his pizza delivered from Dominos?
Thoughts/Comments? Leave it down below.
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