6/3 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Vince and Stephanie McMahon appear, John Cena vs. Curtis Axel, The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Kane, and Daniel Bryan, WWE Payback build continues
By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Hartford, Connecticut at XL Center
[Q1] A video recapped John Cena setting up his Three Stages of Hell match for WWE Payback, and Triple H experiencing head trauma issues during his last match against Curtis Axel... Michael Cole checked in and hyped Triple H vs. Curtis Axel. Cole was joined on commentary by JBL and Jerry Lawler...
Ring announcer Justin Roberts introduced Stephanie McMahon, who headed to the ring for a promo. Cole said it's been nearly a year since Stephanie last appeared on television. Once in the ring, Stephanie said it feels great to be back on Raw. She said she wished it was under better circumstances.
Stephanie recalled Triple H's steel cage match against Brock Lesnar, and then his match against Axel the next night. "My husband wasn't even able to finish the match," Steph said. "Even though Triple H has been medically cleared to compete tonight, I've made a medical decision to not allow Triple H to compete."
The fans booed. Steph said she made the decision as an executive, a wife, and a mother. She told the fans to try not to be so selfish. Vince McMahon's music played and he came out to a big roar from the live crowd. Vince did the BMF walk to the ring and gave Steph a brief hug once they arrived in the ring.
Powell's POV: Steph made the executive decision to put Hunter's balls in her purse! Anyway, this is the big start that Jim Ross referenced in his blog today. It's a wise move considering that WWE has stiff competition in the form of the NBA Playoffs tonight.
"It seems like you're happy to see me," Vince said. "I'm happy to see you as well." Vince asked the fans not to boo his daughter, which drew more boos. Vince and Stephanie said they care more about Triple H than the fans do. Vince noted that Hunter is the father of his grandchildren. He said Triple H would not compete.
The fans chanted for Triple H. Vince asked if the fans wanted his heart, liver, and soul. "What the hell do you want that man?" Vince asked. "WWE is family entertainment, it's not a blood sport. Let me just state this for the record, Kofi Kingston last week was put through a table. What did you chant? One more time. Put through another table. What did you chant? One more time."
Vince said there's not going to be one more time for Triple H tonight or any other night. Vince echoed Stephanie's comments by saying Curtis Axel is beneath Triple H, just as the fans are. The Shield's music hit and they entered through the crowd. JBL yelled on commentary for Vince and Stephanie to get out of the ring... [C]
Powell's POV: Wow, it's nice to see WWE come out swinging as they go head-to-head with the big NBA game tonight. The Shield coming out was a great hook heading into the commercial break.
After the break, The Shield were standing in the ring. Cole said that if viewers had the WWE app they would have seen that Vince and Stephanie McMahon left the ring without incident...
Powell's POV: Gee, what a ringing endorsement for the app. For that matter, what an anticlimactic return from a commercial break. Weak.
[Q2] 1. The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, and Kane in a six-man tag. App users were able to watch Tons of Funk watch the match on a backstage monitor. They went back to break three minutes into the match while Seth Rollins was getting the better of Kane.
After the break, The Shield continued to work over Kane in their corner of the ring. Orton took a hot tag and had a good flurry of offense that included a double hanging DDT on Dean Ambrose and Rolins. The live crowd was red hot for Orton, who went for a hanging DDT on Roman Reigns, but Rollins caught him from behind with a kick to the back. The Shield spent the next few minutes working over Orton.
[Q3] Bryan fired up the crowd by clapping in his corner and they responded with a Yes chant. Rollins tagged in and went for a top rope move, but Orton caught him with a dropkick on the way down. Orton made the hot tag to Bryan, who went on his big flurry, which included a series of kicks to the chest and head of Ambrose.
Bryan caught Rollins on the ropes and performed a huracanrana that sent Rollins onto Ambrose. Bryan performed a suicide dive onto Reigns at ringside, then performed a missile dropkick on Ambrose for a good two count that the live crowd counted along with. Bryan applied his finisher, but it was broken up.
Orton put Rollins down with an RKO. He went for the same move on Reigns, but Reigns pushed him off and Orton collided with Bryan. Ambrose performed his finisher on Bryan and got the three count. The announcers played up the "unfortunate circumstances" that led to Bryan losing, and Bryan shook his head in frustration after ward...
The Shield defeated Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, and Kane in 17:15.
The announcers hyped Alberto Del Rio vs. Big E Langston in the fifth match of their series, plus the contract signing for C.M. Punk and Chris Jericho's Payback match will be held. Lawler questioned whether Punk will be ready for the match and said we would find out tonight... [C]
Powell's POV: Very good action from the midpoint on. Orton got a massive pop when he tagged in. Bryan didn't get the immediate pop when he took the hot tag, but he worked the crowd up with his offensive flurry. Bryan has been getting the mega reactions lately, but they went absolutely nuts for Orton here. Oh, and Kane wrestled too. I dig Kane, but his partners in this match are more over than he is these days.
A graphic boasted that Smackdown was the most socially active show on cable and broadcast television...
Backstage, Bryan was upset because Orton collided with him. Orton said he was sorry and told him anything can happen in the ring. He told Bryan to drop it. Bryan said he knew Kane felt he was the weak link, and now it's clear that Orton feels the same. Bryan said Orton can't apologize to him because it's his fault they lost.
Kane told Bryan that they do respect Bryan, but he's lost touch with reality. Bryan said the reality is that he is the weak link. Bryan started yelling about one match to solidify that he's the weak link and said that didn't happen. Bryan said he's going to have another match and beat the respect out of someone else so that Kane and Orton respect him...
A shot aired of Triple H arriving at the building. He entered a room where Vince and Stephanie were located and asked them what was going on. Hunter said he is wrestling Curtis Axel. Stephanie said he is not. She said it was two weeks ago that she was on the phone with his mother and said their children were crying.
Triple H said he was cleared to wrestle and he would wrestle later in the show. Vince stepped up and asked what happened to the Cerebral Assassin. He told him to keep his ego out of it. Triple H said he was going to the ring to wrestle Axel. "No, you're not," Vince said. Triple H asked who would stop him. Vince told Hunter not to do something he would regret and slapped some rolled up papers on his shoulder. Hunter took the rolled up papers and Vince left the room...
[Q4] The Uso's made their entrance complete with the war dance on the stage. Cole noted that they were wearing makeup as well. He said they would explain it all after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: Who knew that all three H's in Triple H actually stand for Henpecked? Is it just me or did the Uso's pre-match chanting sound a little like a Beastie Boys' song for a second there?
2. The Uso's vs. The Prime Time Players. The match was joined in progress on television. Cole said that a win for either team would "perhaps" put them in line for a tag title shot. The Uso's each had one side of their face pained. Cole said the Uso's explained on the app that the face paint gives them an edge and is sort of a rebirth.
The crowd was quiet as Titus locked in an awkward chin lock on one of the Uso's. One of the Uso's took a hot tag and worked over Darren Young. In the end, one of the Uso's performed a top rope splash on Young for the win...
The Uso Brothers defeated The Prime Time Players.
Split screen shots aired of Big E Langston and A.J. Lee on one side, and Alberto Del Rio, Ricardo Rodriguez, and the stupid bucket on the other... [C]
Powell's POV: Wait, the Uso's did how many jobs before decided to give themselves a rebirth by painting half their faces?
A video noted that WWE is proud to be founding partners for the Special Olympic Games in 2014. The event will be held in New Jersey... Cole said there were special guests in attendance. The camera showed a group of special athletes at ringside... Ricardo came out with the stupid bucket and introduced Del Rio. JBL said he needs one of those guys. Cole asked where you buy them. Yes, really...
[Q5] 3. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez, the stupid bucket) vs. Big E Langston (w/A.J. Lee). Cole once again said this was the rubber match between the two men, just as he did when they worked the third match of their never ending series.
Cole claimed Dolph Ziggler was not in attendance. Rather, he said they knew Dolph was watching at home due to the exclusive interview he gave to the WWE app.Langston showed off his strength early with a trio of backbreakers on Del Rio for a two count. Footage aired of Zeb Colter cutting a promo for the app.
Powell's POV: I don't know if you guys know this, but WWE has an app.
Del Rio applied the Cross Arm Breaker. Langston picked him up and placed him over the top rope. Del Rio kept the hold applied, but had to break when the referee's count reached four. Del Rio was able to reapply the hold again, then shifted it into a pin for the win...
Alberto Del Rio beat Big E Langston in 4:55.
A shot aired of a smiling Sheamus walking backstage. Lawler said Sheamus would face Cody Rhodes after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: I liked the finish with Del Rio releasing his submission hold to catch Langston in a pin. The announcers played it up like they weren't sure that Langston's shoulder was down even though there was nothing about the way he was pinned that left that in question. Cole even said he appeared to be pinned at least from the camera angle they used for the replay. Are they protecting Langston or setting up yet another match between the two? I would have enjoyed this more had they told us that this was a best of seven series from the start. It worked tonight, though, as those are words they don't want to use considering the big NBA game tonight.
Highlights aired from Smackdown of Sheamus beating up Damien Sandow... Ring entrances for the next match took place...
[Q6] 4. Sheamus vs. Cody Rhodes. Damien Sandow sat in on commentary and showed off that he was reading "Fate Of The States", which was written by JBL's wife. Cody got some offense around 2:00 when he caught Sheamus with a knee to the head at ringside. Cole questioned what was up with Rhodes Scholars and facial hair. Just imagine if Cole worked for TNA.
Sheamus started his comeback around 3:15. He performed a running senton and then went to the top rope and came off with a shoulder block. Sheamus went for White Noise, but Cody rolled him up and held the tights for two. Sheamus missed a Brogue Kick and missed, which led to a two count for Cody that the crowd didn't take seriously.
Cody went for his finisher, but Sheamus rolled out of it. Moments later, Cody missed a moonsault and then Sheamus performed White Noise. Sheamus waited for Cody to get up and put him away with the Brogue Kick. Cole said it was shades of Friday night (and every other night this matchup takes place).
After the match, Sheamus headed over to Sandow, who told him that no one wants to see him and he should go. Sheamus offered Sandow a handshake, but Sandow slapped it away twice. Sheamus came back with a slap to Sandow's head that knocked him down like he was Curtis Axel taking a Triple H slap...
Sheamus defeated Cody Rhodes in 5:20.
The announcers hyped the Jericho vs. Punk contract signing for later in the show... [C] An ad aired during the break for the Total Divas show that debuts on E! in July...
Powell's POV: That's a great message for the Special Olympics athletes that are in attendance. If your fellow competitors won't shake hands, feel free to give them a big ol' bitch slap just like Uncle Sheamus. By the way, Paul Heyman was shown in the graphic for the contract signing rather than Punk.
A graphic noted that the WWE app has been downloaded six million times. It did not mention the Prowrestling.net App, which is free wherever you get your apps. I promise I won't mention it again tonight...
Backstage, Triple Henpecked threw his bags in the trunk of his car and told Stephanie that he was leaving for her and so that he didn't have to kick their kids' grandfather. Hunter told her to tell "that crazy old man" that he would be wrestling Curtis Axel on Raw next week...
Powell's POV: Phil from Modern Family would have put up a better fight than Hunter just did.
The announcers recapped Ryback beating the hell out of Kofi Kingston on Smackdown. Cole said Kingston underwent elbow surgery on Thursday and is expected to miss a couple months...
Backstage, Daniel Bryan kicked over a cart. Ryback showed up and told him to watch what he's doing. Bryan asked if he was going to put him through three tables like Kingston. Ryback said Kofi had surgery because of him. Ryback said he had the flu last year and his "throw up" is bigger than Bryan. Ryback challenged Bryan to get in the ring with him. Bryan told him to underestimate him and see what happens. Ryback said Bryan is the weak link and will become the missing link after their match...
Powell's POV: Bryan is going to shave off most of his hair and paint his face green?!? Oh, not that Missing Link? Anyway, Ryback's delivery was really annoying here. He's trying to sound tough and instead it sounds like he's a robot.
Backstage, Vince McMahon shook Curtis Axel's hand and told him he has a hell of a future ahead of him. He said it was too bad they wouldn't be having that match with Triple H tonight or next week.
[Q7] Heyman tried to walk off with Axel, but Vince told him that Axel would be in action against John Cena later in the show. Vince said the match would be a No DQ match this time around... Fandango and Summer Rae were shown walking backstage... [C]
Powell's POV: Shouldn't it be a no count out match since that's how Cena lost last week? I guess this opens the door for Ryback to attack Cena to help give Axel the win.
Cole hyped MizTV with Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, and Kane as his special guests for Friday's Smackdown. Cole said Curtis Axel would also appear on Smackdown...
5. Fandango (w/Summer Rae) vs. The Great Khali (w/Natalya, Hornswoggle). Khali chopped Fandango and then mocked the way he dances. Khali remained in control, but Fandango left the ring once Khali went for his finisher. Fandango headed toward the back, but The Miz came out and blocked his path. Wade Barrett came out and hit Miz with the Bull Hammer Elbow. Fandango and Summer were heading backstage when the show went to break... [C]
The Great Khali beat Fandango by an apparent count out.
An ad for Smackdown focussed on Daniel Bryan...
5. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett vs. The Miz in a non-title match. The announcers recapped footage of Barrett hitting Miz with his finisher on the stage.
[Q8] Barrett avoided the Figure Four and then hit the Winds of Change for a two count. Fandango's music played and he danced on the stage with Summer Rae, which distracted Barrett. Miz put Barrett in the Figure Four and got the submission win..
The Miz defeated Wade Barrett in a non-title match in 3:20.
The announcers hyped the Punk vs. Jericho contract signing for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: So Barrett attacked Miz, who was blocking Fandango from heading backstage, only to have Fandango come out and distract Barrett so that Miz could win? This makes about as much sense as WWE having all this go down while the NBA game is at halftime.
A recap was shown of Stephanie McMahon's promo at the beginning of the show. They also recapped Triple H and Vince bickering backstage., then showed footage of Triple H leaving the building...
Powell's POV: Major props to the fan holding up the "We Want Two Hours" sign in the crowd.
Jerry Lawler stood in the ring where a table and chairs were set up for the contract signing. Chris Jericho was introduced first. Paul Heyman was introduced next and walked quickly to the ring with no music. Both men took their seats at the table. Heyman said they could have signed the contracts backstage.
Heyman said that since he was there to feed Jericho's massive ego, he would just say something to his face. He started to run through C.M. Punk's highlights, but Jericho cut him off and read through them and added some over the top lines at the end. "I don't give a damn about any of those things, Mr. Walrus," Jericho said. "I only care about you delivering C.M. Punk to Chicago on June 16."
Heyman signed the contract and said it was signed, sealed, and delivered. "Your turn, Mr. Jericho," Heyman said. Jericho was about to sign the contract when Heyman stopped him and asked if Jericho is truly ready to face Punk in Chicago. He noted that the building Hartford was filled with Jericholics, that won't be the case in Chicago. Heyman said Jericho is going to be facing a partisan, biased crowd in a town where Punk can do no wrong.
[Q9] Heyman said Punk makes liars out of people who think they can lay claim to the title of being best in the world. Jericho looked like he was thinking about what Heyman said. "You know, Paul, you might be right, C.M. Punk is from Chicago and C.M. Punk is in Chicago, so maybe we should have this match at SummerSlam in Los Angeles," said Jericho.
Heyman declined. Jericho suggested Madison Square Garden. Heyman declined. Jericho said how about right here in Hartford and the crowd cheered. Heyman again declined and the crowd went from cheers to boos just like that. "Well, I guess we'll have to have it in Chicago then," Jericho said before signing the contract. Jericho said that when you act like a jackass you get treated like a jackass no matter where you are from.
Jericho grabbed the contract and said now they have to figure out where to file it. Jericho stood in front of Heyman and said he has a good idea where the contract belongs. He told Heyman to stand up. Jericho told Heyman to unbutton his jacket and threatened to rip it off. Jericho rolled up the contract and shoved it down the front of Heyman's pants. "See you in Chicago," Jericho said...
Powell's POV: Um, okay. The whole thing was rather forgettable and the ending was flat. They did establish that the match will be held in Punk's hometown of Chicago, and it should ease fan concerns that Punk would be replaced by Curtis Axel in the match. A "Heyman produced" Punk highlight video would have been a better teaser for Punk's return than this was.
The featured match for WWE Main Event is listed as Sheamus vs. Antonio Cesaro...
Powell's POV: Keep in mind that they changed the featured match on the day of the show two weeks in a row.
6. A.J. Lee and The Bella Twins vs. Kaitlyn, Cameron, and Naomi. Cole said the secret admirer thing has created some friction between Kaitlyn and her tag partners in this match. Naomi performed a nice dropkick on one of the Bella twins. Later, one of the twins was knocked off the apron. The other tried to tag Lee, who abandoned her. Kaitlyn speared the remaining Bella and pinned her. No one cared...
Kaitlyn, Cameron, and Naomi beat A.J. Lee and The Bella Twins in 4:30.
[Q10] The announcers hyped Daniel Bryan vs. Ryback... [C]
Backstage, Kane told Daniel Bryan that facing Ryback was crazy. He said he's never seen someone's heart, desire, or will to fight. He said Bryan doesn't have anything to prove to him or anyone else. Bryan shook his head and said Kane is wrong. Bryan said beating Ryback would prove it and he would prove it without Kane. Bryan yelled as he told Kane he doesn't want him anywhere near him tonight. Kane said he was leaving. He told Bryan to call him when he finds his mind since it was obvious that he lost it...
Powell's POV: Wow, that was some poorly written material.
The announcers set up the latest Wyatt Family video package. Wyatt had a couple more followers and a female sprawled out on a tree branch... Daniel Bryan made his entrance... [C]
Powell's POV: I couldn't make out who the new additions were. They may have been extras rather than wrestlers. I'm sure we'll find out of if anyone noticeable was in there given the way some of our more passionate readers go over these types of videos as if they were the Zapruder film. Get on it!
Ryback was backed into the building in an ambulance for his pre-match entrance. The announcers discussed the Three Stages of Hell match...
[Q11] 7. Ryback vs. Daniel Bryan. Ryback dominated early. Bryan caught him in a half crab, which got a rise out of the crowd. Bryan continued to work over Ryback's legs with a standing leg lock. He dropped down and fired punches at Ryback. Moments later, Ryback caught Bryan with a clothesline that knocked him to ringside. [C]
After the break, Ryback remained in control with slow paced offense. He talked smack in Bryan's face before throwing him across the ring. Ryback charged at Bryan in the corner. Bryan moved and Ryback crashed into the post. The crowd fired up as Bryan caught Ryback with three dropkicks and got a two count.
Bryan followed up with a missile dropkick. Bryan went back to the top rope and performed a long distance top rope headbutt for a really good near fall that the live crowd counted along with. Bryan slapped himself across the face and then fired kicks at Ryback.
Ryback caught Bryan's leg on one kick and then slammed him down with a powerbomb. Ryback acted dazed, but then got cocky as he recovered. He walked over to Bryan only to be caught in the Crossface. Bryan wrenched on the hold and the crowd popped huge, but Ryback reached the ropes to break it up.
At 13:30, Bryan went for a suicide dive, but Ryback stepped aside and helped propel Bryan into the announcers' table. Ryback picked up Bryan and drove him back first into the ring post. Ryback rolled Bryan back inside the ring and looked into the camera. Ryback went to ringside and slid a table inside the ring.
Ryback set up the table in the ring and then powerbombed Bryan through it for the DQ. Cole said Ryback didn't care about the outcome of the match because he was more concerned with sending a message to Cena.
Daniel Bryan beat Ryback by DQ in 15:00.
[Q12] After the match, Ryback went to ringside and grabbed another table. John Cena's music played and he ran out. Cena stood in the ring with his WWE Championship and hovered over Bryan to protect him. Ryback got back on the ring apron and put one foot inside the ring.
Curtis Axel's music played and he headed to the ring with Paul Heyman. Ryback backed down to ringside as Cena glared at him intensely. The trainers tended to Bryan as Axel and Heyman waited at ringside heading into the break... [C]
Powell's POV: A very entertaining match. Bryan's character showed great heart, and Ryback looked like a monster while on the offense and even while holding on during some of the submission holds. It may seem odd for the monster heel to have such a competitive match heading into his pay-per-view title match, but both men came out of that looking good. Cena also looked good by making the save and it was good to see him show intensity while standing above Ryback and staring at him the entire time.
8. John Cena vs. Curtis Axel in a No DQ non-title match. Heyman tripped Cena as he was running the ropes within the opening minute. The announcers noted that it was legal given the stipulations. Axel grabbed the early advantage and called for Heyman to grab him a chair. Heyman complied and Axel swung the chair, but Cena blocked it.
Cena ended up with the chair and slammed it over Axel's back and then dumped him to ringside. Cena followed and threw Axel over the announcers' table. Cena stripped the table down, but then threw Axel back inside the ring once the referee's count reached eight. Axel was waiting with a chair to Cena's gut.
Both men stood in the ring and Axel had the chair in his hand. We found out why Axel didn't play Major League Baseball, as he swung and missed a couple times and then had the chair dropkicked into his face. Cena set up the chair in between the ropes in the corner.
Powell's POV: Well, that didn't take long. Dot Net reader Michael and Dot Net staffer Zim noted that the footage from the Wyatt Family video was the same NXT promo video they have used in the past. Michael noted that a few were Full Sail University students. Zim noted that one is Garrett Dylan, but he's doing his own thing in developmental and is unlikely to be part of the faction.
[Overrun] Later, Axel was in control of the offense when he went to ringside and grabbed the chair, which he slammed over Cena's back several times and then jabbed it into Cena's gut. JBL raved about the statement that Axel was making in this match. Axel followed up with a fast neckbreaker onto the chair, which drew gasps from the crowd, yet only got Axel a two count.
Cena came back with the STF. Axel cried out to Heyman as he struggled to get to the ropes. Heyman handed him a notebook computer, which Axel slammed over Cena's head to make him break the hold. They went to ringside where Cena got Axel up for the Attitude Adjustment, but Heyman stood in front of the table that Cena wanted to put him through.
Cena released the hold and went after Heyman. Cena saw Axel coming from behind and got the better of him. Ryback came out, roughed up Cena, and drove him through the table that was leaning on the ringside barricade. Ryback stood over the fallen Cena while the referee made the ten count. After the match, Ryback told Cena to get up. "At Payback, Ryback Rules," Ryback said to close the show...
Curtis Axel defeated John Cena by count out in 13:00.
Powell's POV: A strong last 35 minutes of the show with the Daniel Bryan vs. Ryback match followed by the main event. This was the best showing yet for Axel, who impressed the live crowd a few times with his offensive moves. Ryback interfering at the end was predictable, yet also the right move, though I was actually hopeful that Axel might get a cheap pin on Cena rather than the count out. Ryback took a step back with his mic work, but he and Bryan had a hell of a match. Combine the match with the footage of the destruction of Kofi Kingston and he looks like a major league badass.
Overall, this was one of those good bookend nights. The show got off to a good start with the unexpected McMahon family presence followed by the latest entertaining Shield match and closed with those strong 35 minutes. The bad news is that most of the stuff in between was forgettable. I'll have more to say about this show tonight in Dot Net Members' audio and on Tuesday in the WWE Raw Hit List. Thanks for watching along with me. For membership information, check out the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
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