After last week's episode was hijacked by CM Punk's incredible promo, let's see how RAW can follow up.
Last week saw two strong shows from the WWE. Smackdown featured a lot of actual wrestling and many entertaining matches, and RAW featured a fun episode filled with gimmick matches, followed by a phenomenal segment capped off with one of the best promos of CM Punk's exceptional career. So let's see where they go from here and if they can keep the streak going.
Show starts out with Cena in the ring talking about why it's unfair that Punk has been suspended. Mentions how Daniel Bryan was fired temporarily, free speech should be allowed, firing someone for their opinions is crap, and then calls Vince out to the ring to explain his decision and defend it. Wraps it up promising Vince will be here later and that he wants to face Punk at the PPV. Solid promo, but nothing amazing or anything. Also saw the announcement of a new #1 Contender's match with Del Rio, Rey, and Truth. Solid way to start the show, addressed the big event from last week right off the bat, set up a big match, and promised a big conversation with Vince for later on.
Now we get a useless Divas tag match featuring 1 person that can actually wrestle. Not watching this. And a promo video for Tough Enough winner Luke, I like how they are keeping him in the spotlight with these. Now Truth ranting on a phone followed by him ranting about the conspiracy to keep him from the title. And about how he switched to Geico. Good stuff by him. Then Del Rio walks out and Truth calls him Senor Jimmy. That's great. Then Del Rio talks about destiny and how he's going to win and get the title, which keeps his message consistent with what it was leading into Wrestlemania.
Next up we see a joke team facing the tag champs who are never on TV. It's sad that with all the talent they have, this is the state of the tag team division. David Otunga, who has absolutely no talent or charisma, is a multiple time champ and can't do anything of value. Santino, who is immensely talented, can't show any of that in the ring and instead has to just act like a fool. The other two guys, Koslov and Perfect Jr, are talented guys who haven't connected with the fans and could really use managers or a strong tag division to get over. Instead we get an OK match that won't lead to anything of value since the division is something the WWE just doesn't care about at all. Let's move on......... or not, it's a Zach Ryder sighting!!!!!!!!!!! He doesn't get to do anything, but who cares, he's awesome and hopefully it leads to some TV time for him.
Miz being interviewed and is pissed that he isn't given a shot at the #1 Contender match and blames Riley. OK promo, but nothing great by his standards. Now a segment with Bourne and Sgt Slaughter gets interrupted by Swagger who says he should be representing America because Slaughter turned his back on the US during the Gulf War. Go continuity references! Swagger challenges him to a match, and he accepts, and now we have our patriotic comedy match set for the nights. Vince's jet is shown landing, and he's on his way according to Lawler.
After the break we get Slaughter getting squashed by Swagger after hitting a handful of moves to start the match. Swagger than takes things too far locking in the ankle lock after the bell, so Bourne makes the save and the good guys get to celebrate in the ring. This is exactly how you should do a segment like this. Make the young guys look strong, and still let the good guys and the old dude celebrate and be the last two standing. Slaughter then leads the crowd through the Pledge of Allegiance, and everyone is happy.
Time for the triple threat match to see who will fight Cena in place of Punk. Three good wrestlers and it should be a good match if given time. The Sunset Flip by Truth on Del Rio, while Del Rio was holding Rey, which sent Rey flying as Truth tried to pin Del Rio, was a great spot. They were given a nice long time to mput on the match, and did a great job. Lots of false finishes, lots of cool spots, told a good story, and made all three guys look great and like they had a chance to win. Plus, Del Rio won which is great. Should be a fun feud with Cena.
Vickie singing Happy Birthday to Dolph is a great way to build heat for both of them. Good stuff, and very annoying. But, you know, in the good way that heel stuff should be annoying from time to time. Dolph being an ass and talking about how great he is also worked well. And he is great and is in his prime and we are lucky to see it. Hopefully WWE recognizes this and starts pushing him beyond this secondary title level he and Kofi seem to be stuck at. Speaking of which, here comes Kofi. And Vicki ends up covered in cake. All classic heel stuff that makes the crowd happy and builds a feud. Both guys need to move on, but they are really entertaining together.
Now it's time for another staple of wrestling, the mentor vs pupil feud. Miz and Reilly feuding works because it's a simple story that's been done a million times, mostly because it's a good story that makes sense. Guy takes a new guy under his wing, teaches him everything, and then one turns on the other for some simple reason (I've out grown you, you failed me too many times, whatever) and they then use that history as a basis for a feud. It works great and gives a very logical reason why the younger guy can hang with someone that is much higher on the card and much more accomplished (the whole mentorship basically showing the younger guy every move the older guy has so he's ready for everything). This has been a fun and simple feud. Regardless of whether Reilly deserves this push, I'd much rather they try something like this and pair him with all these popular guys like Cena like they have recently rather than have him disappear into limbo after breaking up the pairing with Miz. So far I think Reilly has mostly stepped up and shown he deserves the push, but the real test will be his first post-Miz feud. Meanwhile, it's not a bad place to put Miz while he waits for another big time feud. Using all that good will and status he's built up to build up another guy is what wrestling is all about. Anyways, it was a solid match and Reilly got another good win. Then Miz increased his heat with a great post-match beating of Reilly. Good stuff all the way around, and it's just one of many interesting feuds leading into the actual Money in the Bank match at the upcoming PPV. And now Vince is getting out of a limo and heading to the ring.
Vince says Punk deserved what he got for his actions. Says he crossed a line, and that the reason wasn't about the comments about his family it was about the fans and then tells a story about Punk trying to get too many perks, stuff like DVDs, magazine covers, and other stuff he wasn't worthy of. Classic heel speaking that pisses off the crowd, even as he's discussing a heel that these same fans would be booing if he was in the ring. Vince is great at that sort of stuff and making the fans do whatever he wants. He then wishes the crowd a good night and says he'll see them next week. Then Cena comes out, and they discuss how Punk just spoke his mind and deserves to get another chance. Lots of First Ammendment references, lots of stuff about why Vince used to be brave and take on anyone, and now he's scared of Punk. Tells him that if Vince is afraid to fight and stand up for stuff, that he should retire. Vince responds that the real reason he suspended him is because he doesn't trust Cena to beat Punk. He only takes calculated risks where he feels comfortable with the odds of winning. Cena isn't worth betting on. Cena points out all the reasons this is a great build up to a main event, with Cena in hostile territory, Punk trying to take the belt away, and everything else that made the matchup interesting. Vince tells Cena not to piss him off and act like a jerk like Hogan. Cena says he knows everyone is replaceable, that he works so hard for the company because the belt means something, and that Punk has earned the right to fight for the belt, and by Vince taking that away he's made the belt meaningless. Cena then hands Vince the title and walks away, as Vince calls him a quitter like Hogan. This has been a pretty strong segment, IMO. CM Punk is reinstated, Cena gets his match, but Vince says Cena shouldn't be smiling, because if Punk walks out of Chicago with the belt Cena will be fired.
Good ending to the show, the main event everyone wants to see is back on, And despite the stipulation, I think there's a decent chance that Punk could win. There's been talk that Cena might need time off, and even if Punk is leaving it's MitB so someone could cash in and take the belt before he goes. Hell, that same situation could even be used to make it so Cena doesn't need to be fired based on the wording Vince used. Overall this was another good show, and I'm feeling like I'm probably going to pay money for this next PPV based on the last few shows. Which is exactly what you want from a good wrestling program, people willing to pay for the product.
Written or Contributed by: rdrsfn82