-We are LIVE from Sacramento, CA (home of the Queens)
-As advertised, John Cena (with that goofy athletic tape that does nothing on his arm) kicks us off and immediately launches into goofy jokes about half the roster…this is why I hate this guy. He eventually turns his attention to CM Punk and calls him a wuss because he won’t face Cena at Hell in a Cell. HE ALREADY BEAT YOU THREE TIMES, how does this storyline make sense at all? Cena says goodbye as Ryback’s music hits for the opening match. What a completely pointless segment.
Ryback vs. Epico and Primo
Yep, squash a supposedly “top” tag team…that’ll get them over. The announcers try to get Ryback’s new nickname (The Big Hungry) over but it’s a lame name, so I’m doubting it will catch on. Ryback gets caught with a dropkick, and the heels beat him down, but he pretty much shakes it off and hits a jawbreaker on Primo. Clotheslines for everyone, and Ryback lifts both guys up at the same time for the muscle buster and the pin. At least he didn’t blow the finish this time.
-Squash city. Population: Primo and Epico. I still don’t get the point of doing that, especially with Triple H trying to rebuild the tag division, but whatever *.
Brodus Clay vs. R-Truth
Why do I have a feeling this is going to completely suck? R-Truth tries to back out of the match because Little Jimmy is going through puberty (just like WWE’s target audience). So both guys just decide to dance around with Little Jimmy until Vince McMahon interrupts and kicks them out of the ring for his speech.
-Seriously, they have this crap on, and they wonder why people can’t sit through the whole show?
Vince McMahon’s State of WWE Address
Vince puts over WWE’s current product and says they have the best athletes in the world, but CM Punk and Paul Heyman quickly (and predictably) interrupt. McMahon says Punk is disrespecting him, so that sends the champion off about everyone getting on his case about John Cena’s challenge. After some cheap heat tactics from Punk, Vince says Punk might be a Paul Heyman guy, but he is not a CM Punk guy.
Punk threatens to quit just like last year, but Vince responds by sucking up to the crowd. McMahon actually claims that he “listens” to the fans every day (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and says Punk isn’t even close to legends of the past, making sure to pause on Steve Austin’s name (hmmmmm…). Punk says Austin took a shortcut to the top by beating up a clueless millionaire who is now a clueless senior citizen. He floors McMahon with a slap to the face and gleefully heads up the ramp. McMahon threatens to fire Punk if he doesn’t face Vince in a match TONIGHT…in that very ring. This can’t end well.
Prime Time Players vs. Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio
This is part of the tag team tournament that has been ongoing the past two weeks. Young starts with Sin Cara and takes a snapmare and a flip-flop armdrag. Mysterio low-bridges Young and takes him out with a seated senton on the floor. Sin Cara flies out with a dive between the ropes to take out Titus, and that takes us to our first commercial break.
We return with Titus hitting a backbreaker on Cara for two, and Young comes in with a bearhug (what is this, 1978?). They head up top, and Cara slugs away before hitting a tornado DDT for the double KO spot. Mysterio gets the hot tag and is indeed a house of fire as he kicks Young in the face for two, broken by Titus. Cara takes out O’Neil with a springboard dropkick, but Young puts him down with the Gut Check. Mysterio squirms out of the same move, hits the 619 and drops the dime for the win.
Winners: Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio
-Nothing wrong with a good formula tag match **1/2. The Cal-Mex Connection will take on the winner of the Rhodes Scholars vs. Ryder and Santino.
-Meanwhile, Heyman expresses his displeasure at CM Punk’s actions because Vince McMahon could make their lives a living hell.
Wade Barrett vs. Sheamus
Sheamus has turned into a smiling goof, and it’s making him more and more annoying each week. The guys lock up, and Big Show immediately waddles down to observe the match from ringside. Barrett attacks but gets taken down, and Sheamus works a headlock. Barrett breaks and stomps away, but Sheamus hits a shoulder tackle and goes back to the headlock…that will really get the crowd going. Barrett breaks with elbows but gets reversed on a suplex, and Sheamus gets two. Sheamus fights out of a fireman’s carry but gets caught with a knee lift and tumbles to the floor. Sheamus tries to head out, but Barrett clips his knee, and the champ hits the floor as we go to commercial. Extremely boring match so far.
We return with Sheamus clotheslining Barrett to the floor, and they brawl around the ring. Nice spot as Barrett hops the steps when Sheamus whips him towards them, and then Barrett kicks the steps backwards into Sheamus’ leg. Back in, Sheamus runs into a knee lift, and Barrett ties him in the ropes and hits a running big boot in a stiff-looking spot for two. Second rope elbow misses by a mile and triggers Sheamus’s comeback as he hits a knee lift. Barrett goes low and tries a pump handle slam, but Sheamus sidesteps him and clubs Barrett with his forearms in the ropes. Out of nowhere, Tensai attacks from the back and weakly slugs away on Sheamus until the champ hits a Brogue Kick out of nowhere. Big Show jumps in and catches the Brogue Kick before dumping Sheamus HARD on the floor and heading towards the back.
-Boring match with no finish, so that gets *1/4 and likes it. Tensai is so useless, I don’t see the point in involving him in this angle.
-Jim Ross heads to the back to talk some sense into Vince McMahon.
-After a break, CM Punk meets with AJ and says that the Board of Directors is going to be very upset once he destroys the CEO of the company. Of course, AJ responds by saying that he’s afraid of John Cena.
-Recap of John Cena on Live! with Kelly and Michael…I’ll give credit where credit is due, when WWE gets behind a charity, they really go full strength and do some really awesome work.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd
This show is turning into All-American Wrestling with all these squash matches. We are supposed to hate Cesaro because he hates CHILI FRIES…that fiend! Cesaro elbows Kidd down and works the arm, but Kidd does a handspring to get out and rolls Cesaro up for two. Cesaro boots him in the face to end that rally and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Painful double stomp on the apron hurts Kidd and a gutwrench suplex puts him down. Cesaro clotheslines Kidd on the top rope, putting him to the floor where Cesaro whiffs on a clothesline, and Kidd rolls him up inside the ring for two. Legdrop on the apron sets up a springboard elbow, but that only hits the mat. Cesaro hits the always awesome Very European Uppercut, and the Neutralizer makes the pinfall academic.
Winner: Antonio Cesaro
-Kidd actually got a lot more offense than I expected, and it turned into a pretty good little TV match. No complaints here **1/2. I actually wish they gave them a little more time.
Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio vs. Team Hell No
Ziggler controls Bryan to start but gets cocky and runs into a knee lift. Both guys tag out, and Kane hammers away on Del Rio in the corner, but he refuses to tag Bryan, and Del Rio catches him with a kick. Ziggler tags in and gets slugged down, setting up a low dropkick. Ziggler basically no-sells it in a weird spot and hammers away but gets dumped to the floor. Bryan tags himself in and hits a running knee off the apron as we take yet another mid-match commercial break.
We return with Kane dodging a Rocker Dropper and hitting a big boot to get the tag to Bryan. He brings Ziggler off the top with a hurricanrana, but Dolph rolls through for two. Del Rio gets a cheap shot to turn the tide, and a Ziggler dropkick allows Alberto to come in and stomp away. Bryan gets a desperation sunset flip for two, but Del Rio immediately hits a superkick. Ziggler checks in with a Rick Rude-inspired neckbreaker and an elbow for two. Del Rio continues the heat segment with a suplex for two, and the heels continue to switch off on Bryan. Daniel finally dodges a Ziggler splash in the corner, but Dolph cuts off the tag, and Alberto stomps away.
Back suplex gets two for Del Rio, and he adds a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker as Bradshaw drops a Pittsburgh Steelers reference to earn a cheap pop from me. The heels continue their impressive beatdown on Bryan until he finally gets out of the way of a Del Rio corner charge and gets the hot tag to Kane. Kane takes on both guys and tries a double chokeslam but gets caught with a Rocker Dropper by Ziggler…for two. Nice near fall there.
Dolph tries for the sleeper, but Kane catches him with a sidewalk slam. Kane heads up top for the clothesline, but Bryan tags himself in and hits a missile dropkick for two, saved by Del Rio. Kane gets rid of Del Rio, but Bryan KOs Dolph with a kick. Kane tags himself in and hits a chokeslam for the clean pin as the push of Team Hell No continues.
Winners: Team Hell No
-A really good, long tag match that featured Bryan getting absolutely destroyed during the heat segment and a really hot ending…count me as a fan ***1/2.
-Meanwhile, JR tries to talk some sense into Vince McMahon, but Vinnie Mac forces Ross to give him some inspiring fake commentary…weird segment.
Larry King Now
So yeah, Larry King is at Raw and looking like a walking corpse. His wife is also there, and she resembles a skeleton with a tight, white sheet pulled over it. The Miz quickly makes his entrance and demands everyone sing Happy Birthday to him. Larry exercises creative control and replaces Miz with Kofi Kingston, who goes for a cheap pop instantly. Miz gets a pretty good insult as he says he’s won more titles than Larry King’s had wives. King’s wife tosses water in Miz’s face, and Kofi attacks, kicking off a feud that I’m sure will sell out Madison Square Garden for years to come. Miz should have popped the old lady and became the biggest babyface in my house. I’m sure the WWE’s target demographic can really relate to 107-year-old Larry King and his plastic wife.
Santino and Zack Ryder vs. Rhodes Scholars
The winner here gets to meet Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio in the finals of the tag tournament. Rhodes slugs away on Ryder, but he reverses to a backslide and a rollup, both for two. Cody changes things with a boot to the face, and Sandow tags in to stomp away. Ryder gets trapped in the heel corner, and Sandow hits the Elbow of Disdain for two. Rhodes gets distracted with Santino though, which allows Ryder to flapjack Cody and get the hot tag. Marella goes through his goofy offense and goes for the Cobra, but Cody catches him with the Disaster Kick for the easy win.
Winners: Rhodes Scholars
-Total squash as Ryder and Marella have no chance of winning any match not aired on Superstars or Saturday Morning Slam *. Heath Slater and his band of misfits attack after the match and dance like idiots…whenever JR can’t explain what’s going on, you need to reconsider your storylines.
-Meanwhile, Paul Heyman begs Vince to let him broker a peace deal so Punk doesn’t do to him what Brock Lesnar did to Triple H.
Eve vs. Kaitlyn
So what exactly does Kaitlyn bring to the table aside from her boobs? I’m still not clear on that. Kaitlyn hiptosses her and hits a suplex for two. Back body drop puts Eve down again, and Kaitlyn locks her in a Torture Rack, forcing Eve to go to the eyes to break it. Kaitlyn hits a backbreaker but re-injures her ankle on the move, basically putting a giant target on it. Eve goes to work on the ankle and applies a heel hook, forcing Kaitlyn to tap out.
Winner and still champion: Eve
-Well, at least they kept the story simple and short **. Eve doesn’t let go of the submission, so Layla shoves her for the EPIC STAREDOWN.
-Meanwhile, Josh Matthews reveals to Alberto Del Rio that Randy Orton sent a MENACING TWEET! The horror!
-After a break, Daniel Bryan meets Larry King and Ghost Sheet Wife backstage, and hilarity does not ensue until Bryan says Kane’s face looks like someone slapped him with a Fruit Roll-Up. (Kane: “That was Larry King? I thought it was Skeletor.”)
-Meanwhile, Paul Heyman has a change of heart and tells Punk to brutalize McMahon so much that he’s incapable of making another decision.
Vince McMahon vs. CM Punk
Even I have to admit, Vince is still in pretty damn good shape. Punk attacks during McMahon’s entrance and beats the hell out of him on the floor. Inside the ring, Punk gloats a little too much and gets taken down, but Punk kicks Vince off. Kick to the back of the head puts McMahon down as Cole and JR flip out (JBL: “Mr. McMahon won the Royal Rumble only 13 years ago!”). We head out to the floor where Vince gets introduced to the announce table, and Punk steals Cole’s headset to provide his own commentary.
Punk looks for the Go To Sleep, but McMahon squirms out and runs Punk into the ring post. McMahon sends Punk across the announce table and grabs the mic to talk some trash before pummeling Punk on the floor. Vince hits Punk in the nuts with Cole’s chair and grabs a kendo stick from under the ring, and Punk runs away. Vince is busted open hardaway.
Punk calls for the World title, but Vince cuts off Heyman and knocks him out. Vince holds the World title hostage, forcing Punk to grab his own kendo stick and enter the ring. They trade shots with Vince getting the upper hand, and Punk begs off as the crowd pops big. Vince goes for the knockout shot, but Punk goes low and lays in a whooping with both kendo sticks. Punk looks to finish, but Ryback’s music hits, and CM Punk heads for the hills, right into the arms of John Cena. Cena gingerly tosses Punk back in for the CLOTHESLINE OF DEATH, and Punk barely escapes the Muscle Buster, forcing him to escape through the crowd.
Vince grabs a mic and demands Punk makes a decision: At HIAC, Punk has to face either Ryback or John Cena, and he has until next week to make his choice.
-More of an angle than a match, but isn’t it weird that Vince gets booked stronger and better than anyone else on the roster not named Cena?
OK, first the main event: Sure, the crowd was really hot, and it got VINCE MCMAHON over as a badass, but is that who really needs the help right now? I liked that they built to the Ryback clothesline the past few weeks and, judging by the crowd’s reaction, they want to see Ryback in the main event, not Cena. I actually would have preferred if they just used Ryback in the main event because then Punk running away all match would have made more sense. You can still do the non-finish, then book the HIAC match at the PPV, giving Punk nowhere to run. Give Vinnie Mac credit though, there aren’t many senior citizens who are willing to get beaten up by a 30-year-old athlete. I’ll be interested to see if they actually pull the trigger on Ryback now because they kind of glossed over the fact that he destroyed the Intercontinental Champion a few weeks ago.
As for the rest of the show, it was typical three-hour Raw stuff: Some good, some really boring and a good bit of time wasting. I love Team Hell No, and their tag match was good stuff, but the Divas and the squash matches are just way too boring for a three-hour show. It reminds me of those old TV tapings in the late 1980s when the WWF would tape all their syndicated shows in a five-hour live event, and people would actually stick around just to get a glimpse of Hulk Hogan. Those people couldn’t change the channel. People in 2012 can.