7/1 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: WWE Champion John Cena vs. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio, C.M. Punk and Curtis Axel vs. The Prime Time Players
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Sioux City, Iowa at Tyson Events Center
[Q1] Raw opened with a shot of a smiling Vickie Guerrero standing backstage. She said they would honor the pinnacle of WWE by having WWE Champion John Cena vs. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. Vickie thanked the McMahon Family for allowing her to have the match on Raw... The opening video aired... Michael Cole checked in on commentary, where he was joined by Jerry Lawler and JBL...
Daniel Bryan headed to the ring and led the crowd in "Yes!" chants. The Money in the Bank briefcase was hanging above the ring and a ladder was set up inside the ring. Lawler noted that Bryan looked confident and ready. Bryan wore a "Respect The Beard" t-shirt. Bryan said the answer to the burning question of whether he is the weak link was finally answered.
Bryan said the question was answered when he made Randy Orton tap out last week. He said the new question is whether he can carry the momentum into the Money in the Bank All-Stars match and win the WWE Championship contract. He set the crowd up with a Yes! chant.
Bryan said he wants to be the WWE Champion. "I want to follow in the footsteps of the greats - "Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, Daniel Bryan." Bryan said two years ago he won a MITB match and cashed in to become the World Heavyweight Champion. "And it's been far too long," he said. Bryan said that just because this match is filled with all-stars doesn't mean history can't repeat itself. "I will be WWE Champion!," Bryan concluded.
Sheamus came out and recalled how Bryan's title reign ended when he beat him in 18 seconds. There were more boos than cheers for that line. Sheamus said it's been far too long since he had a championship around his waist and he's not letting Bryan or anyone else stand in his way. Bryan asked if he calls 1-800-FELLA, will Sheamus Brogue Kick himself in the face.
Randy Orton walked out with no music and said it's been nearly two years since he's been champion. "I'm not hungry, I'm starving," Orton said. "And a starving man takes what he needs and I need the WWE Title." Orton joined the others in the ring and said he won't hesitate to cash in the MITB contract like Cena did last year by cashing in on the first unsuspecting champion he sees.
Bryan pointed out that he made Orton tap out. Orton told him that he would let it slide once, but he would drop Bryan if he disrespects him again. Kane came out minus music and said no one is safe, especially Bryan. Kane said no one has been more ruthless than he has, especially when the WWE Championship is involved. Kane said he has no problem committing unspeakable acts against opponents, even his so-called friend.
Bryan said Kane is still upset about what happened at Smackdown. He said it's not his fault that he couldn't beat Orton like he did. Kane said that's why he can't wait for the MITB ladder match. He said it's every man for himself and there are no partners or friends, only victims. Bryan and Kane bickered over which of them would be WWE Champion.
Christian walked out minus music and said he has more experience and has had more success in ladder matches than anyone in WWE. He said he is looking for one more match for the WWE Championship. Christian said he might not be the biggest, strongest, scariest, or the most hairiest guy in the match, but he is the best.
C.M. Punk walked out minus music. He said he promised himself that he wasn't going to do the predictable thing, but then he heard the magic word - best. He said he respects the hell out of Christian and everything he's done in his career, but not only is he best in the world, he's also best in the world in the MITB ladder match. Punk said he's the only man who can say that he's won the match twice and will soon be the only three-time winner.
Punk said no one can touch him in the ring even though he knows how formidable the competition is. He addressed Rob Van Dam by looking into the camera and saying that he knows RVD is fearless. Punk said Sheamus is one of the toughest SOB's he's ever been in the ring with. Punk was about to talk about Orton when Bryan interrupted him and said he had enough. He said that if Punk said one more word, he would make Punk tap out just like Orton did last week.
[Q2] Orton got upset and walked toward Bryan. Kane stood in front of Bryan, who lectured him about trying to fight his battles. Orton performed the RKO on Kane. The other wrestlers stared at one another, but everyone eventually backed down and left the ring without further physicality...
The announcers spoke at ringside and questioned what RVD was thinking while watching that on television. Cole said they would be taking a look back at "all of the great champions in sports entertainment history." A video package focussed on Buddy Rogers and Lou Thesz... [C]
Powell's POV: The live crowd was really hot for Bryan early on and they seemed to like the other wrestlers too, but they were really flat for the end of that segment that had everyone slowly backing away. I didn't care for the first three guys talking about how long it's been since they held the gold because it kind of brought them all down a notch, but I like the overall buildup that the match is getting. I love the throwback video package and the way they are building up the champion vs. champion match. They've become too flippant with the champion vs. champion matches in recent years and hopefully this is a sign that things are changing.
A Wyatt Family video aired... As The Shield made their entrance, the announcers narrated footage of the trio losing to Christian and The Uso's on Smackdown...
1. The Shield vs. Christian and The Uso Brothers. The babyface team hit dives onto The Shield members at ringside. Cole asked whether they had the The Shield's numbers heading into the break. [C]
[Q3] The Shield assumed control after the break. Dean Ambrose mocked fan clapping, which actually lead to fan clapping. Funny. Christian tagged in. The faces went on a flurry and it came down to Christian and Ambrose. Christian set up for the Killswitch, but Ambrose pushed him off. Christian went to the ropes and Seth Rollins pulled him down over the top rope. Christian then stumbled into Ambrose's finisher...
The Shield defeated Christian and The Uso Brothers in 9:35.
Powell's POV: I'm still not sure what the purpose of The Shield's recent losses have been, but the one on Friday actually helped raised the stock of Christian and The Uso's a bit. Losing the rematch didn't help the babyfaces, but it didn't seem like it really hurt them either. I do question why they didn't have one of the Uso's pin one of the tag team champions on Smackdown since they need the credibility boost more than Christian. By the way, Cole did a good job of raising his level of enthusiasm while calling this match.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan informed Kane that he got him a match against Randy Orton. Kane was pleased. Bryan then informed Kane that he would be special referee... Dolph Ziggler made his entrance for a match... [C] The Did You Know graphic boasted that Smackdown was the most socially active show on Friday night and beat every cable show by over five times...
Footage aired from Smackdown of Dolph Ziggler spoiling Alberto Del Rio's fiesta. Cole said Ricardo Rodriguez was injured and they would elaborate later...
2. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Drew McIntyre, Heath Slater). Ziggler used the Zig Zag for the win.
[Q4] Afterward, McIntyre and Slater entered the ring and went after Ziggler, who fled the ring. They chased him to the floor and Ziggler continued to dodge them until they crashed into one another and then her performed the Zig Zag again to leave them all lying...
Dolph Ziggler defeated Jinder Mahal in 2:20.
Another champion flashback focussed on Bruno Sammartino. Another one focussed on NWA Champion Harley Race... Cole hyped a Mark Henry career retrospective for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: The outcome of the Ziggler match was never in question, but it was quick and effective in terms of giving Dolph a television win without boring viewers.
Backstage, Vickie Guerrero was venting to Brad Maddox about the McMahons always telling her what to do. Triple H showed up and told her to continue because he believed she was just about to make disparaging remarks about her family. She declined. He told her she's doing a great job with the show by giving the fans what they want.
Vickie told her that she's a little stressed because the other family members are telling her what to do. Hunter said he's learned over the years to let them vent and get it all out and then don't do what they say. He told her to do what he says...
Cole set up the Mark Henry video package... Randy Orton made his entrance for his match with Kane. Lawler reminded viewers that Daniel Bryan would be special referee... [C] Daniel Bryan lectured Orton, then Kane made his entrance...
[Q5] 3. Kane vs. Randy Orton with Daniel Bryan as special referee. After nearly five minutes of forgettable action, Bryan disqualified Kane for putting his hands on him. However, Kane refused to accept the DQ win, so Bryan gave in and restarted the match. [C]
Kane was in control of the offense until he jumped off the top rope and into a dropkick from Orton. Randy followed up a short time alter with a hanging DDT off the second rope. Orton played to the crowd as Bryan looked concerned for his partner. Orton struck the Viper's Pose, but Bryan stood in front of him and they bickered. Once Orton got past Bryan, Kane caught him with a boot and went for a cover. Bryan made a fast count to give Kane the win.
Kane defeated Randy Orton in 12:10.
After the match, Kane complained to Bryan about the fast count. Bryan told him that he would not have won without his help. Kane grabbed Bryan by the throat. There was a "do it" chant, but Kane released Bryan and left the ring to some boos. Bryan jawed at Kane, then ate an RKO from Orton...
Powell's POV: I like the storytelling more than the actual match. I'm not a big fan of Bryan continuing to be so quirky and comedic, as I believe there is real money in Bryan shifting away from the comedy and being promoted as a great wrestler. That said, the segment was entertaining
[Q6] Backstage, C.M. Punk told Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel that he would beat both Prime Time Players by himself. Heyman said he didn't understand why Punk had so much animosity for Axel. Punk told Heyman that he trusts him, not Axel. Heyman told Punk to trust his best judgement, which is that Axel is worthy of his trust. Punk sighed and looked like he was coming around when the segment concluded...
The champion video focussed on Bob Backlund on the WWE Championship side, and Dusty Rhodes on the World Hvt. Championship side... [C]
Powell's POV: The champion videos continue to be a pleasant surprise. This is how it should be when the champions meet. Actually, it should be pay-per-view main event worthy, but I'll settle for the baby steps.
A video hyped the premiere of the Total Divas reality show that debuts on July 28...
4. Sheamus vs. Fandango (w/Summer Rae). The announcers spoke about the potatoes that we're thrown in the Dublin Street Fight on Smackdown. Cole said they meant it literally and figuratively. They were in dick around mode and cracked one another up as the match started. Sheamus mocked Fandango's dancing for a laugh from the crowd.
At 3:10, Fandango caught Sheamus with a kick from the ring apron. Sheamus fired back with a shot, but Fandango came back with another kick. After goofing off for most of the match, JBL reminded viewers that Fandango beat Chris Jericho at WrestleMania and was known for upsets.
[Q7] Sheamus fired back with a flurry of punches in the corner. Fandango kicked off and slid underneath the ropes. Sheamus caught Fandango with a series of forearms as he stood on the ring apron. Fandango fell to the floor and then walked away with Summer Rae to take the count out loss...
Sheamus defeated Fandango by count out in 6:15.
Powell's POV: I don't care for Fandango walking off for count out losses, but it does seem like the heat goes to him rather than the company when the announcers play it up right. I assume this will lead to a rematch on Smackdown.
The announcers hyped the main event, and Ryback vs. The Miz for after the break... [C]
5. Ryback vs. The Miz. Chris Jericho sat in on commentary and wished viewers a happy Canada Day. Miz targeted Ryback's injured leg throughout the match with repeated kicks, including a running drop kick as it was drapped over the middle rope. Ryback yelled at the referee to stop the match. Afterward, Jericho entered the ring and dropped Ryback with a Codebreaker...
The Miz defeated Ryback in 5:10.
Powell's POV: Jericho mocked "Cryback" during the build to the finish and questioned how he could ask the referee to stop his match. I assumed WWE would have Ryback destroy opponents coming out of his feud with John Cena. Instead, they are making him look like a crybaby. I am liking it more than most people seem to be. His crybaby act isn't main event, but neither is anything else he would be doing now that he lost his program with Cena. It's a surprising and fun new wrinkle for his character.
[Q8] The next title video focussed on Hulk Hogan on the WWE Championship side, and Ric Flair on the World Hvt. Championship side... [C]
Mark Henry walked onto the stage for a promo. He said he's the World's Strongest Man and he didn't just get the name out of a crackerjack box. He spoke about representing the United States in the Olympics twice. He said he earned the respect of every superstar that he worked with, but there's jealousy, politics, and a lot of backstabbing. He said there are a lot of "accidental injuries."
Henry said he's earned it. "They never gave me a legitimate opportunity to be the WWE Champion," Henry said. He spoke about the miles he travelled and the nights he spent away from his family and all the years he "pretended that I liked the boys." He said all the years of doing the right thing for the business got him nowhere. "Dammit, I deserve to be the WWE Champion," he said.
Henry said that after all of it, he's earned the right to be the WWE Champion. He said the fans hang on every word he says and called them puppets. He said now that he finally has his chance, nobody is going to keep him down. "I'm going to do the right thing, alright, I'm going to do the right thing for me." Henry said that after he beats John Cena, no one will be able to deny him.
Henry said the fans will be talking about how he earned the WWE Championship. "Yeah, you're gonna say it," he said. Henry called for the camera to zoom in on his face. "John Cena, at Money in the Bank, I'm going to beat your ass"...
Powell's POV: A good promo from Henry with tired and annoying "What?" chants from the live crowd after every breath he took.
Backstage, Vince McMahon spoke with Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox. Vince brought up Daniel Bryan and recalled telling Vickie that he's small and has issues. He accused them of not listening to him. Vince said the main event tonight is awesome. Vickie took credit for the idea and said the other family members like it too.
Vince said they are throwing money away because the match should be on pay-per-view. He complained that they are giving it away for free. He said Vickie and the other family members don't understand good business. Vince said there's a list a mile long who were excommunicated, fired, or thrown out of the building because they didn't listen to him... [C]
Powell's POV: I still question whether these now way too predictable segments with Triple H, Vince McMahon, and Stephanie McMahon are actually going somewhere or if they are just making appearances to make USA Network happy. I'd like to think they are going somewhere, but so far it looks like they are just repeating themselves every week.
[Q9] Ring entrances took place for the C.M. Punk and Curtis Axel vs. The Prime Time Players match. The Players were already in the ring when Punk came out. He jumped off the top rope and then patted his knee before making the OK sign with his hand. Axel and Heyman were out next...
6. C.M. Punk and Curtis Axel (w/Paul Heyman) vs. The Prime Time Players. Punk directed Axel to take his spot in the corner and Axel eventually complied, only to tag himself into the match. Punk wasn't happy, but he agreed to let Axel start. A brief "Mr. Perfect" chant started as Axel and Darren Young started things off. Punk wanted to be tagged in, but Axel ignored him.
Titus O'Neil tagged in the match and Axel still declined to tag Punk into the match. A "We Want Punk" chant started. Axel caught Titus with a nice dropkick. After bickering with Punk, Axel walked into an O'Neil clothesline. Titus mocked the fans by chanting C.M. Punk, then tagged Young back into the match.
Axel made the tag to Punk at 5:00. Punk springboard clotheslined his way into the match. He caught Young with a running knee in the corner and followed up with a short-arm clothesline. Punk went to the top rope, yelled best in the world, and dropped an elbow onto Young. Punk caught Young with the GTS, then threw a charing O'Neil over the top rope. Axel tagged himself in and pinned Young while Punk watched. Heyman tried unsuccessfully to get Punk to celebrate the win with Axel...
C.M. Punk and Curtis Axel defeated The Prime Time Players in 6:10.
Powell's POV: That was laid out in a way that kept things entertaining. I still don't want to see Axel lose a non-title match to Punk, but I like the tension between them. Heyman was great in acting like nothing was wrong while trying to get Punk to celebrate the win.
The championship videos focussed on Steve Austin and Sting...
Powell's POV: Yes, I did see Undertaker in the background of the classic Sting footage, meaning they are clearly setting up Taker vs. Sting for WrestleMania 87, so there's no need to email me about it.
An ad for Smackdown focussed on Sheamus...
[Q10] 7. Kaitlyn (w/Layla) vs. Alicia Fox. Alicia caught Kaitlyn with a dropkick early, but Kaitlyn came back with a spear for the win...
Kaitlyn defeated Alicia Fox in 1:50.
After the match, A.J. Lee and Big E Langston came out. A.J. called Kaitlyn trash. She asked Kaitlyn if she remembered the unsavory photos she took before her WWE career. A photoshopped image of a super obese Kaitlyn appeared on the screen. Kaitlyn asked if she was serious, while Layla put her arm around to keep her cool. A.J. said she wanted to remind Kaitlyn of where she came from and where she will end up again after she loses at Money in the Bank...
Powell's POV: Wow, these A.J. and Kaitlyn segments just keep getting worse. At least Kaitlyn didn't freak out or cry over A.J.'s silliest stunt yet.
Backstage, Vickie Guerrero was giving Brad Maddox instructions when Stephanie McMahon interrupted them. Stephanie complained that Vickie wasn't even watching her own show and therefore didn't manage the situation with A.J. as she asked her to. Steph also complained that she had to read the Money in the Bank participants.
Vickie said she's going nuts with Hunter and Vince pulling her in different directions. Steph said one of the fantastic things about Raw is how unpredictable it is. Steph said she can relate because it's hard when you get conflicting orders from the top. Vickie tried to play on being fellow business women and said Vince and Hunter are acting crazy.
Stephanie took offense and announced that they would have an official job evaluation for Vickie publicly in the middle of the ring. Steph said Vickie could be promoted and become the official general manager of Raw or lose her job. "It's one of the beautiful things about Raw, you just never know what's going to happen next," Steph concluded... [C]
Powell's POV: I'm not sure how viewers are supposed to feel about this. Vickie is a heel, but the McMahons pulling her in different directions makes her looks somewhat sympathetic. No matter what happens, I hope this leads to a payoff for the McMahon family involvement or they disappear afterward. I enjoy the McMahons when they are well written and have a real purpose, but that hasn't been the case this time around.
A Rob Van Dam video hyped his return for two weeks at Money in the Bank...
Cody Rhodes Zeb Colter and Antonio Cesaro made their entrance. Colter vented about losing freedom in America. He said he and Cesaro were not alone in their fight because a real American, Jack Swagger, was back...
[Q11] 8. Antonio Cesaro (w/Jack Swagger, Zeb Colter) vs. Cody Rhodes (w/Damien Sandow). Cody went for a backslide, but Cesaro powered into The Neutralizer and scored the pin...
Antonio Cesaro defeated Cody Rhodes in 2:20.
Powell's POV: This seemed like an odd pairing, but the announcers played up the fact that all four wrestlers in the ring will be in the Money in the Bank match. Okay, it was still an odd pairing.
The title videos focussed on Triple H and Booker T... [C]
Powell's POV: As much as I like the buildup via the video packages, it would be nice to hear from John Cena and Alberto Del Rio about what the match means to them. If WWE is worried about hurting the live crowd's reaction, then fill time in the arena with something else while only showing the promos to television viewers.
Backstage, The Bella Twins met the two rookie Divas who will be featured on Total Divas. The Bellas said they are the stars of the show. One of the newcomers said they are all the stars. The Bella Twins said some stars shine brighter than others and took a jab at Cameron, Naomi, and Natalya, who were all standing in the background. They all bickered and the Bellas got even more catty...
Powell's POV: I didn't think it was possible, but one backstage segment killed whatever interest I had in watching Total Divas.
The announcers hyped that the Wyatt Family will appear live on Raw next week... A Wyatt Family video aired... Alberto Del Rio made his entrance. The announcers recapped Dolph Ziggler crashing the fiesta on Smackdown and said Ricardo Rodriguez got hurt when he was put through the table. Alberto Del Rio stood in the ring for the champion vs. champion match...
Powell's POV: The ugly guitar shot looked worse than the table spot. By the way, Ricardo worked the weekend live events, so it's not like he's been sidelined ever since the Smackdown taping.
[Q12] [C] An ad for Smackdown advertised nothing... After the break, Cole hyped that C.M. Punk would make a special appearance on Friday's Smackdown television show... John Cena made his entrance for the main event. He stood near the camera on the stage and noted that it was champ vs. champ and then said the champ is here...
9. WWE Champion John Cena vs. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. Justin Roberts stood in the ring and delivered pre-match introductions for both men. The first notable moment of the match was when Del Rio avoided a charging Cena, causing him to run shoulder-first through the ropes and into the ring post.
Del Rio followed up by slamming Cena into the barricade and then rolling him back inside the ring. Later, Cena rolled away from the second rope, causing a running Del Rio to go feet-first through the ropes to the floor. [C]
[Overrun] Cena went through his signature spots, including the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena went for the Attitude Adjustment, but Del Rio countered into a bridging German suplex for a two count. Later, Cent went to the top rope, but Del Rio caught him with a kick and got another two count.
Del Rio also caught Cena with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a two count. He caught Cena in the Tree of Woe and then charged, but Cena sat up, causing Del Rio to go through the ropes and into the ring post. Cena hit a cross body block for a good near fall.
Cean went for an Attitude Adjustment, but Del Rio slipped out and into a Cross Arm Breaker, but Cena countered with an STF. Mark Henry walked to ringside and Cena released the hold. Del Rio rolled up Cena and got a two count. Del Rio caught a kneeling Cena with as superkick.
Dolph Ziggler came out, stood on the ropes, and distracted Del Rio, which allowed Cena to hit the Attitude Adjustment for the win.
John Cena defeated Alberto Del Rio in a champion vs. champion match in 15:50.
After the match, Mark Henry walked over to the timekeeper and took the WWE Championship from him. Henry entered the ring with the title. Cena flinched, then Henry threw the WWE Championship at his feet. Cena went to pick it up, and Henry motioned like he was going toward Cena, who flinched again. Henry smiled at Cena and then pointed at his wrist before leaving the ring...
Cena celebrated his win while the announcers spoke at ringside. JBL said he thought he saw fear in Cena's eyes. Cole questioned whether it was respect. The announcers hyped the debut of The Wyatt Family for next week's Raw. "They're coming!" JBL said. A Wyatt Family video aired to close the show...
Powell's POV: As much as I enjoyed the touch of adding the title videos to hype the main event, it still felt like just another non-title champion vs. champion match when the bell rang. However, Cena and Del Rio worked really hard to make it feel like more than that and they succeeded with me. That was a good main event. The copout finish was logical in this case as there's no reason to put over either champion as being more better or more important than the other.
The post match angle with Henry was really good. I like the way Cena showed some fear of the bad ass Henry. Finally, WWE must have something special in mind for the Wyatt Family debut. That's as much hype as I can remember them giving a debut act from developmental. How can you not be excited to see what the Wyatt Family does next week? Thanks for watching along with me tonight. I will be back with the member exclusive audio review of Raw later tonight, and with the WWE Raw Hit List on Tuesday.
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