The last show before SummerSlam, and the last chance to see both Cena and Punk holding the belt at the same time. Will RAW be able to go strong into the PPV or will they stumble at the finish line?
Credits & Solicit Info:
Monday Night RAW for 8/8/2011
Last week HHH announced he would have Punk and Cena fight to unify their two copies of the title at SummerSlam and leave us with one champion. Alberto Del Rio and Kofi continued to escalate their feud. Morrison and Truth battled on multiple shows. Overall it's been a pretty strong month or two for the WWE and they look to keep it going heading into SummerSlam, one of the biggest PPVs of the year outside of Wrestlemania.
The show kicks off with HHH making his way to the ring. I like that they've basically dropped the annonymous GM stuff quietly since HHH has taken over. I can't even remember the last time there was actually a message from the GM. He's putting over the importance of Sunday's title match. Cena's name is met by a mix of cheers and boos while Punk gets mostly cheers, as per usual over the last few weeks. Talks about the big changes over the last few weeks going from Vince in charge to him in charge. Promises one undisputed winner and one undisputed champion. He then announces the only way to make sure that the match is fair and decisive is to have a special referee that he can trust, and then names himself the guest referee for the match. He then tries to put himself over as bigger than Cena or Punk and promises we'll walk away with a champion who no one will have an issue with. I really don't like this development. Cena and Punk don't need him out there stealing heat and distracting from their match. Seems like a mistake that could hurt the match. He then announces we'll have a contract signing later, and that both guys will compete tonight. First up will be Cena who is having a match right now against .................................. someone we'll see after the commercial break. The big graphic leading into the break that promoted the contract signing showed Cena and Punk on each side holding up their belts, but with HHH in a bigger shot right in the middle of the screen where your eye is drawn. Ugh, I have a feeling this is just not going to end well. I can see HHH reffing the match, getting involved in the finish, and then giving himself a title shot and pinning the winner. God I hope something like that doesn't happen. This Cena vs Punk feud has been so damn great that it really doesn't need anything other than the two guys putting on another great match and giving us a clean and definitive winner. A cage match would have worked, but all this HHH stuff just seems unnecessary.
So back from break Cena's opponent is Jack Swagger. Such a waste of talent. He does whatever is asked of him, no matter how lame, and is ridiculously good, but can't get a sustained push. At least I know him and Cena can put on a great match. They work really well together. And now we see Cena and HHH arguing in the ring and Cena accusing HHH of being on an ego trip, trying to break the fourth wall and get some of that heat Punk got for calling it like it is. Ugh. Anyways, the match has started, Swagger gets the upper hand and starts taunting leading to Cena taking him out and gaining the upper hand pretty much right away. Way too much HHH talk during the match. this is starting to drive me crazy. I get talking about the upcoming title match, even if I personally hate ignoing the match in the ring to talk aobut future matches, but way too much of it is focused on whether HHH is doing the right thing or not. Swagger and Cena are putting on a pretty solid match, and as usual a talented wrestler is bringing out the best in Cena and making for an entertaining back and forth match. Nice little bit with Swagger going for the ankle lock, Cena reversing into an STF attempt, and Swagger reversing that and kicking Cena into the ropes, even if it just all leads to the shoulder block, and an FU. Solid match, as usual for these two. And Swagger loses, also unfortunately the usual ending to their matches.
Next up we see Del Rio backstage calling Punk a coward and the voice of the gutless for running after Night of Champions when he ran from Del Rio who was trying to cash in his MitB case. We then get a recap of Truth's epic heel turn and beat down of Morrison a few months back that led to his best run in the entire time he's been in WWE. Now we see Truth backstage talking to Josh Matthews. It quickly turns into Truth interviewing himself and leads to a rant about why spiders are creepy and terrible. This is pretty damn great. Now he's talking about his grandma's spider stew that she used to make and how only Little Jimmy would eat it. He then says tonight he's going to squish a spider named John Morrison. Crazy Truth is fun. And up next will be Miz vs Rey.
Apparently Cee Lo will be performing live at SummerSlam, leading to exactly zero people ordering SummerSlam. And it means if I watch the show, I'll be skipping that part or taking a bathroom break or whatever. Rey is coming out for his match...........and Miz attacks him out of nowhere and absolutely destroys Rey. Smashing his head into the set multiple times, kicking his head off, and then leaving him lying motionless on the ramp after a few refs come out to break it up. Cole then heads to the ring to find out why Miz did it, as the refs help Rey to his feet and to the back. Even Cole is acting a bit shocked by that event. Miz agrees it was shocking, and then talks about how he doesn't have a match at SummerSlam and that's a travesty. Talks about how he's everywhere and doing all this media, but is getting no attention, and he's going to do what it takes to get the attention he deserves. He then demands a ref come out and declare him the winner by forfeit. Really good and really solid and aggressive promo by Miz. A ref comes out, refuses to raise his hand, and then the ref heads over to the announce table where it's announced HHH has ordered Miz to take part in a new match against a new opponent. Miz is apoplectic As he's ranting and waiting for the music it turns out his opponent is ........................... Kofi. It's a good back and forth match, neither guy can get the upper hand for very long heading into a commercial break. Coming back we see Miz has taken charge thanks to a failed dive to the outside where Miz pulled out the apron around the ring and Kofi landed crotch first, followed by Miz hitting a clothesline on the hung up Kofi. The finish saw Kofi go for the Trouble in Paradise, only to see Miz duck it and set up the Skull Crushing Finale, which Kofi reversed, which set in motion a series of further reversals leading to Miz eventually hitting his finisher for the win. Good stuff and a very solid match. I don't know where they go with Miz from here, but I hope they give him something for SummerSlam and I'd be fine with him feuding with the winner of the title match on Sunday, especially if it's Punk. Now Punk is back stage talking about why HHH's ego is killing the match, basically making the same complaints I did. He says it's better for business if HHH just stays out of it and if Punk wins on Sunday. He then says he's going to go out to the ring and beat Del Rio, and show him exactly what would have happened if they had fought at Money in the Bank.
It's time for Del Rio vs Punk. These two could have an epic feud with each other. So far it's a solid match with both guys going all out and Del Rio focusing on Punk's arm to set up his submission hold, while Punk is attacking the head to set up his finisher. Which is what we call logical wrestling. It's nice to see this sort of logic in a match as both guys mostly focus on the body part their finisher is aimed at. Del Rio at one point hits a Backstabber, and reminds me that I kind of miss Carlito, even if he was lazy at times and never got a sustained push. The finish sees Del Rio go for the arm breaker only to be reversed into a big kick by Punk, which he follows by yelling "Destiny!!", mocking Del Rio's constant catchphrase, and then he hits the GTS to end a fairly good if short match. Both guys looked good, and again I think they could have a really good feud with each other if they wanted to go that route. The crowd loves seeing Punk win and he gets a pretty great cheer as he sits in the ring holding his belt over his head and listening to his song. He then taunts Del Rio, telling him to come cash in now if he thinks he can win it. It's good stuff.
Next up is Beth vs Eve. Since these two can actually wrestle (well, Eve is OK) I'll watch this match. The match appears to exist mostly to show how viscious Beth is now, At one point she tosses Eve into the barricade and then drages her all the way back into the ring by her hair. The end sees Eve go for a moonsault only to end up getting knocked off the ropes adn dragged into Beth's finisher. Not a bad match, but nothing great either. Compared to most of the crappy stuff they've been tossing out on Mondays lately, this was pretty awesome, but not by real standards. Beth then grabs a mic and goes on a rant about how the current Divas are making a mockery of the title and wrestling in general. She says the days of the dancing and garbage is over. She then heads out and turns back to say one last thing, only to get laid out by Kelly running in from behind and smacking her in the back of the head. Pretty solid post-match segment, even if there's no chance Kelly can be involved in a decent match on Sunday because she's awful.
Now it's time for Ziggler vs Alex Reilly. Before the match, Reilly insults Vickie's breath. It was pretty lame. However, it leads to Vickie screaming through the whole match, distracting Dolph and at one point when he has the sleeper locked in, she actually climbs up on the apron leading to Reilly getting out of the hold and then she climbs in the ring and gets in REilly's face, slapping him and causing Dolph to be disqualified. This doesn't go over well with Dolph, who is pissed she cost him the match. Reilly then uses the distraction to take out Dolph from behind, causing him to crash into Vickie (though her not selling any kind of injury makes me think it was an accident). Vickie and Dolph then argue in the ring after the match and it seems they might have broken up. Again. They've stopped working together and turned on each other too many times for me to keep track. Decent segment, but no real match to speak of.
Time for the traditional pre-PPV hype segment, where they go over the crad for the show. Shamus vs Merk Henry, Punk vs Cena, Kelly vs Beth, Christian vs Orton in a No Holds Barred match, and we find out that Christian will be here for an interview in a little bit. But first, it's time for Truth vs Morrison. Truth's no music entrance is pretty awesome and stands out really well in this era where everyone has music. By comparison, Morrison has his big entrance with slow motion and fireworks and all kinds of fanfare. The two men go right after each other and the match is moving at a very very fast pace to start out, with both guys acting very very angry. Morrison in particular is showing a lot of fire and is very serious. At one point he does a big corkscrew dive to the outside, but instead of going over the ropes he goes over the turnbuckle, which is pretty cool and not something you see very often. Morrison goes after Truth outside the ring and at one point Morrison is standing on the barricade when Truth takes his feet out from under him, causing him to hit his neck. Pretty cool spot, but fairly dangerous looking. After that Truth gets back in the ring, and Morrison eventually makes his way there only to see Truth take control of the match. Eventually Morrison rallies for a minute, but Truth hits his finisher and wins. Pretty good match, but clearly not the end of their feud. I was hoping they would be fighting at SummerSlam, but I guess you have to make room for a washed up guy to have a performance at the show because he co-hosts a crappy singing competition, you are in LA, and he provided the theme for the PPV.
Time for an interview with Christian. He feels that all the talk about the title match between Cena and Punk is crap, because it disrespects his title. He then announces he's going to make a big announcement on Friday and HHH should be there. And that's it. What a fucking waste of time. That was just pointless. Anyways, now HHH is in the ring and calls out Punk and Cena to sign the contract. Punk feels this match is already set to go and that this is all just for show. He then asks when the last time there was a signing that didn't end in physical calamity and offers to just flip the table now and start the fighting if that would help. He then talks about how this feels like being on Conan or whatever and how he felt he should have a clip, then takes a shot at The Chaperon, which HHH responds to with "how did your movie do?" and Punk says "it went straight to DVD just like yours.". Punk then says, "take it away Dwayne!" and we get a facebook video of the Rock insulting Cena for a bit and his look and style. Rock is pretty entertaining, and then he's making fun of his music and his entrance. It's good stuff, but made to look like a viral video done online instead of a slick deal, which makes it feel more personal and less like part of the show. He then mocks the dueling chants Cena usually elicits and says that real men can smell a phony like Cena from miles away. Punk then says that he doesn't think they are chanting "Cena sucks" and are instead saying "CM Punk" which is pretty awesome. He then agrees that while Cena is a phony and Rock is right, he doesn't recognize the irony that Rock is also a phony. Punk then says he doesn't want Rock making fun of him with silly voices, so he's ready to stop this and just sign his contract. Cena then responds, talking about how Rock is great and shouldn't be mad about anything, but that Rock is so obsessed with him because of superficial stuff. Punk says he doesn't want to have Cena go off on a rant, but Cena interrupts and says that Punk's issues are just as silly, even if he's above insulting his clothes and such. He then points out all the stuff that's been said about him being the new Hogan and whatnot and that he can never win over the Rock's fans or the internet fans of Punk (complete with references to the 5 moves of doom, the need to be a heel, and other things which he says in a typical nerd stereotype voice). Cena then says he's no longer mad about the Yankee comparison from a few weeks back and says he now sees it as a compliment and that he cares about his fans that have stuck with him, getting loud cheers from those people in the crowd. He then calls Punk on being a phony for claiming to be the voice of the voiceless and then wanting more money and more perks, making him just like any other guy he's accusing of being a phony. HHH then finally opens his mouth (his long silence in no way hurting this segment, further proving there's no need for him out here) and agrees that Punk is full of crap and didn't even negotiate his new contract in person. Punk then asks if HHH fired Koslov in person and asks if he flew to Florida to fire Harry Smith or Chris Masters who "worked his ass off to get better" (which I agree with), and then says this isn't about HHH or Laurinitus (who's also been out here this whole time without saying a word) and it's about the title and Cena and Punk and that's it. He then brings up winning the ECW title and how Cena patted him on the back after that and told him "Good job, I almost gave up on you." and how that caused Punk to always have a bad taste in his mouth because of it. He then points out that Cena gave up on his dream of being a bodybuilder and fell back on wrestling, and that Cena has taken opportunities that anyone would take, but that he's had to fight for. "Your damn right I want my face on an ice cream bar." This Sunday Cena will be walking out with nothing. Yeah, he'll be a big star the next day and have his big fight with Dwayne, but he won't have the title because the WWE Champion will be Punk. This gets a huge chant by the crowd. Really good segment, and like I said it further illustrates why HHH doesn't need to be involved. Punk then signs the contract and so does Cena. Cena then says all the pressure will be on Punk on Sunday, and that he just won one match in Chicago. And then he asks if Punk has thought about what happens if he doesn't win. And if he doesn't win on Sunday he's just a loud mouth one hit wonder like Buster Douglas or Yahoo Serious. Then he wishes Punk good luck, and Punk then says luck is for losers and he'd rather be a one hit wonder than a phony. . Cena then says they've been talking for a while, and maybe it's time to entertain the fans by fighting. Punk says talking is what he does, but he'd be happy to kick Cena's teeth down his throat. the table gets overturned, the two guys get to fighting, Laurinitus gets kicked in the head, and Cena and HHH end up standing tall in the ring after Punk gets knocked out by Cena. Punk then questions if HHH is going to be on Cena's side on Sunday. A good final segment, but seriously, there's no need for HHH to be involved in the match on Sunday.
Overall a pretty good show. Some good matches, some good talking segments, but not a ton of setup for the various undercard matches.
Review by: rdrsfn82