8/5 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Daniel Bryan's corporate makeover courtesy of Stephanie McMahon, Brock Lesnar returns as the build for his SummerSlam match with C.M. Punk continues
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Green Bay, Wisconsin at Resch Center
[Q1] Raw's opening video started the show and then there was a pyro display on the stage... Michael Cole (joined by JBL and Jerry Lawler) introduced the show...
Stephanie McMahon stood in the ring and welcomed viewers to Raw. She said it's no secret that Vince McMahon doesn't believe that Daniel Bryan is championship material. The fans booed. Stephanie said a lot of the fans disagree, as does Triple H. She said her idea of a compromise is to make Bryan a little more palatable. Stephanie said Bryan agreed to her corporate makeover and was a good sport.
A video showed Bryan getting a makeover and lifting weights. He also went to Texas Roadhouse and begrudgingly ate steak. He went to a tailer and was measured for a suit. Music played over the footage. Back live, there were boos and no chants. Stephanie introduced Bryan.
Bryan made his entrance dressed in a suit. He had his hair slicked back in a ponytail and the beard survived the makeover. He did the Yes! routine as he headed to the ring. Stephanie told Bryan he looked very sharp. She gave him the mic and said the floor was his. One guy yelled ROH, then a loud Yes! chant broke out.
Bryan asked the crowd if they liked his look and was given a negative response. He thanked Stephanie for the time and effort she put in. Bryan said he doesn't think it's what the company actually wants. He said what the company wants is someone who is jacked up, wears cargo shorts, and a bright yellow t-shirt and can sell fans something they don't actually need.
"It seems to me that they want somebody like John Cena," Bryan said. He said he respects John Cena because he thinks he's the best contender, but Cena doesn't think he can actually beat him. Bryan said Cena is an entertainer who is in movies and on cereal boxes.
"Look at me," Bryan said. "I'm 5'8, I've got this scraggily beard, I'm from the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Northwest. How could somebody as lowly as me beat a superstar like John Cena, who has been king of the mountain for the last ten years?" Bryan said he can beat Cena because Cena is an entertainer, whereas Bryan is a wrestler.
Bryan said that Cena doesn't like to admit that if he were fired tomorrow, he would go back to his mansion, his 20 cars, and his multimillion dollar lifestyle and would never wrestle again. Bryan said that if he were fired tomorrow, he would be in every armory, every gym, and dirt box filled with 30 people and a wrestling ring "because I love wrestling."
Bryan said it seems like the fans love wrestling too. They chanted Yes. Bryan said he would dress up in the suit, slick his hair back, and do what they want for now. He said at SummerSlam he would make John Cena tap out. Bryan led the crowd in another Yes! chant.
Vince McMahon's music played and he headed to the ring. He told Bryan that he gave it the old college try with his new look. He nitpicked Bryan's new look. He admitted that he doesn't want Bryan as champion and he wants Cena as champion even less. Vince said he's kind of warming up to Bryan. Vince said WWE has never had a dwarf for a champion or someone with the face of a gargoyle.
Vince told Bryan that he looks like a mini Mick Foley. He said that if Bryan will listen to him, he has considerable pull in whether he will become champion. Vince mentioned something about Bryan having makeup on his face, then turned his attention to the beard and said it has to be shaved if Bryan wants his influential support. Vince called for the crew members to bring out a barber's chair, which was set up at ringside.
[Q2] Vince told the fans that he knows what they want. He said the fans want Bryan to get in that chair. "If you truly want to be WWE Champion, then you'll do as I say," Vince said. He recalled Bryan mentioning that he was once fired. He told him to be careful what he wishes for. Vince told Bryan that it won't hurt to have his beard shaved off.
Vince asked Bryan if he really wants to be WWE Champion. Bryan nodded his head. Vince told Bryan to take that step. He said the fans say they want Bryan to be champion, but they really don't. "Get in the chair," Vince barked. Bryan left the ring and took a seat in the chair.
Vince said they needed a barber or someone who keeps his facial hair well groomed. He called out Brutus, er, Wade Barrett. Vince talked to Bryan over the mic as Barrett took the clippers. Bryan asked him to leave a little part of his beard, then headbutted him and threw him onto the chair. Bryan took the clippers and shaved part of Barrett's beard. Bryan punched Barrett a few times and went back to shaving. Bryan tossed Barrett over the barricade.
Bryan went to the stage. "You want me to shave?" he asked. "I say no. I am going to be who I have always been and I am going to be WWE Champion." Bryan removed his dress shirt to reveal a shirt that read, "The Beard Is Here" with an arrow pointing up to his face...
A split screen shot showed Rob Van Dam on one side, and Alberto Del Rio and the returning Ricardo Rodriguez on the other side. Cole said they would be in action after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: Why can't Bryan just be cast as a hell of a wrestler and a huge threat to Cena based on his amazing in-ring ability? Bryan's promo clicked and I like the story that was told there about the differences between him and Cena, but this quirky nonsense with the McMahons feels recycled. Poor Wade Barrett. At least he's not going to be repackaged as the new Brutus The Barber. Or at least I hope he's not.
1. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Rob Van Dam in a non-title match. The MIz joined the announcers on commentary. Ricardo was introduced as returning from a severe injury. Cole recapped the storyline of Ricardo being put through a table by Dolph Ziggler. RVD jumped out to the fast start. Del Rio held his knee at ringside as they went to break early in the match. [C]
[Q3] Late in the match, Del Rio put his knees up when RVD performed a split-legged moonsault. Ricardo placed the bucket in between the ropes. Del Rio tried to whip RVD into the bucket, but RVD reversed it. Del Rio crashed into the bucket, then rolled him up using his legs and scored the pin.
Rob Van Dam defeated Alberto Del Rio in a non-title match in 6:20.
After the match, Rodriguez was apologetic, but Del Rio blasted him with a superkick. Del Rio picked up the bucket and slammed it over Ricardo several times and left it a dented mess. Del Rio picked up Ricardo and threw him through the ropes. Del Rio went to ringside placed his head between the ring steps and the ring post, then kicked them together... [C]
Powell's POV: I was going to complain about Del Rio losing another non-title match, but the surprising attack on Ricardo completely overshadowed that. I liked the heelish attitude that Ricardo was displaying prior to his 30-day wellness policy suspension. Only time will tell whether this sets up Ricardo's departure or his babyface turn. Either way, it put good heat on Del Rio. By the way, has anyone come up with a good explanation for why Miz hosting SummerSlam?
Cody Rhodes stood in the ring wearing a suit. He pointed to a box that was set up in the ring and said he had a gift for Damien Sandow. He set up a video that recapped their recent history. Back live, Rhodes pulled a waterlogged MITB briefcase from the box. He told Sandow that if he wants the briefcase to come and get it. Sandow made his entrance.
[Q4] Sandow stood at ringside and told Rhodes to put the briefcase down and leave. "I'm not falling for this, Cody," Sandow said. Rhodes put the briefcase down in the middle of the ring and then went to ringside. Sandow entered the ring only to have Rhodes race back in to attack him. Cody got the better of the attack, then opened up the briefcase and pulled out the soaked contract...
Cole hyped Mark Henry vs. Ryback in a WrestleMania 29 rematch for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: That was really corny and the live crowd didn't seem all that interested. It's good to see both guys get some mic time on Raw, but the segment left a lot to be desired.
Highlights aired from last week of Ryback slamming an unnamed man through a table in catering...
2. Ryback vs. Mark Henry. The obligatory Goldberg chant opened the match. Ryback clipped Henry's knee and got the better of him early on. Henry tried to connect with an elbow, but Ryback saw it coming and ducked out to ringside to avoid it. The referee counted out Ryback.
Mark Henry defeated Ryback by count out in 1:45.
Powell's POV: Great, now Ryback and Fandango are doing the same walkout gimmick. Weak. That said, this finish gave me the strange desire to watch Ryback perform Fandango's dancing gimmick. No, I'm not drinking...yet.
Cole hyped John Cena for after the break... [C] A shot aired of the Vince Lombardi statue that stands outside Lambeau Field...
Backstage, the Bella Twins bickered about which one of them was hotter and responsible for the ratings. They ended up agreeing it was due to both of them. Eva Marie showed up and congratulated Brie on her win over Natalya, who then walked onto the set. The Bellas said it's a slap in the face that she's allowed on their show. Natalya responded with a real slap to the face...
Powell's POV: I'm now slapping myself in the face to stay awake.
[Q5] John Cena made his entrance and held the WWE Championship over his head int he ring while Cole hyped the Cena vs. Daniel Bryan match for SummerSlam. Cena said there are times when he has to stand in the ring and face a true fan favorite. Cena said he's been listening to the fans and a lot of them have chosen Bryan. Cena said he heard the fans and he chose Bryan to face him.
Cena said there was a lot of truth in what Bryan said earlier, but there was also a lot of ignorance. He said Bryan judged how he looked and how he lives his life. He said that doesn't make Bryan new, it makes him exactly like Rock and C.M. Punk and dozens of others. Cena said he won't change for Bryan or anyone else. "Always have been me, always will be me," Cena said.
"Daniel Bryan wants to talk about hard times," Cena said. He recalled coming back to work 24 hours after breaking his neck. He said his elbow looks like a football and he is still there. He said Bryan wants to glorify wrestling in an auditorium or a gymnasium because that's where he's most comfortable and where he would much rather be.
Cena said he gave Bryan a chance to talk and now it's his turn. Cena said Bryan was right when he said he would never wrestle again if he were fired tomorrow. He said it's because he loves WWE and it would never want to tarnish the championship. He said Bryan saying he would wrestle elsewhere is like being an all-star in the Arena Football League.
Cena said WWE is the NFL and it stands for Not For Long if you keep glorifying your past and you don't look at what's in front of you. Cena recalled Bryan saying he can't wrestle. "Once again, Daniel, very original," he said. He said millions of people have said and encouraged the crowd to chant it (not much luck). Cena said the fans were chanting you can't wrestle, yet he has worn the WWE Championship eleven times.
"You don't get lucky 11 times," Cena said. He begged Bryan to underestimate him like so many other wrestlers have before him. A loud "boring" chant broke out. Cena stopped and listened to the jeers. Cena said it sounded like the fans were ready to see him fight Bryan. The fans chanted Yes!
Cena said Bryan doesn't realize the opportunity he has in front of him. He said Bryan has a chance to win the title or he has to wake up the next day and admit that he's not that good. He told the fans they can root for whoever they want at SummerSlam, but he reminded them that he's been saying for six months that "our time is now and the champ is here." Cena dropped the mic.
Randy Orton's music played and he headed to the ring with the Money in the Bank briefcase in hand. The announcers questioned whether Orton was going to cash in. Orton said Cena never ceases to amaze him. He said Cena is aware of the target on his back, but not the one staring him in the face.
Orton held up the MITB briefcase and said the contract inside guarantees that he will become the WWE Champion. Orton said it could happen at SummerSlam, the night after, or at WrestleMania. "The point I'm trying to make is that The Champ is here," Orton said.
The Shield's entrance music played and they headed to the ring through the crowd and eventually surrounded the ring. Daniel Bryan came out and joined Cena and Orton in the ring, which held The Shield at ringside. Brad Maddox came out and told everyone to take a deep breath. Maddox booked Cena, Orton, and Bryan in a six-man tag main event. The crowd popped for the announcement of the match... [C]
Powell's POV: Very good mic work from Cena and it was anything but boring despite the chants to the contrary. No clowning around, just a very straight forward and passionate promo from Cena. I also like the way they reminded viewers about the threat of Orton, as well as the main event match they set up. A very good segment all around.
[Q6] 3. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper (w/Bray Wyatt) vs. Brodus Clay and Sweet T (w/Cameron, Naomi). Wyatt watched the match from his rocking chair in the aisle. Harper had an awkward moment as he slapped at the fallen T and got in position for a suplex from Clay. In the end, Harper clotheslined T and then Rowan followed up with a splash on T for the win.
Erick Rowan and Luke Harper beat Tons of Fun in 1:20.
After the match, Wyatt entered the ring and performed his finishing move on Clay. Wyatt took the mic and said the devil's favorite demon is an illusion and a fairy tale. Wyatt said he is the truth and the eater of worlds. "And I am forever," Wyatt said. He told Kane to follow the buzzards.
The lights went out and then Kane's pyro went off. Kane appeared on the big screen. Kane said that when you pull the wings off buzzards for fun, they are impossible to follow. Kane said he likes that Wyatt is there to plow through everyone in his path. Kane said he doesn't do it to spread his message, he does it for his own amusement.
Kane said Wyatt will find out at SummerSlam why he's the devil's favorite demon. Kane said Wyatt's family won't be able to save him inside a ring of fire. Kane pumped his arms and the pyro on the ring posts went off. Wyatt laughed...
Powell's POV: Oh, dear lord, I just had a flashback to the inferno match.
Footage aired of the Brock Lesnar and C.M. Punk brawl, and of Punk nearly getting his hands on Paul Heyman last week...
Backstage, Josh Mathews interviewed C.M. Punk about his match against Curtis Axel. Punk said he admired Curt Hennig and Bobby Heenan. He said Mr. Perfect had a mind of his own even when he was with Heenan. He said Axel has blind loyalty for Heyman and it will get him a beating in their match. Punk said he would take care of Axel, then take care of Heyman.
Mathews asked Punk about his match against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Punk said SummerSlam will always be known as the night that The Beast got neutered. He said Lesnar will lose a match at SummerSlam and Heyman will lose everything...
Footage aired from Smackdown of Layla turning on Kailtyn, which helped A.J. Lee retain the Divas Championship on Smackdown. Footage aired of Layla saying what she did to Kaitlyn was nothing personal. She said she did it because she wants attention and all eyes will be on her now...
4. Kaitlyn vs. Layla. Late in the match, Katilyn caught Layla going for a move and put her down with a backbreaker.
[Q7] Kailtyn performed an ugly slam onto her knee and was about to win when A.J. Lee's music played. Lee distracted Kaitlyn, and Layla caught her with a kick for the win...
Layla pinned Kailtlyn in 3:00.
Powell's POV: All these people keep turning on Kaitlyn. Has she ever thought that maybe she's the problem? Anyway, she was the problem with this clunker of a match. As for Layla, even the announcers were baffled when she scooted across the middle rope on her back at one point.
The announcers spoke about the success of Total Divas, then announced Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow for SummerSlam...
5. Christian vs. Heath Slater (w/Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre). Christian caught Slater with a missile dropkick off the second rope for a two count at 2:10. Slater came back momentarily, but Christian eventually speared him for the win...
Christian defeated Heath Slater in 3:10.
Powell's POV: A brief enhancement match never hurt anybody.
A shot aired of C.M. Punk walking backstage...
[Q8] [C] An ad for Smackdown focussed on how Christian will respond to the attack by Alberto Del Rio...
6. Curtis Axel (w/Paul Heyman) vs. C.M. Punk in a non-title match. Punk went after Heyman on the stage, but Axel cut him off and they brawled there. They eventually fought their way inside the ring and the bell rang to start the match. Punk caught Axel in a leg lock and wrenched back on it a couple times for strong reactions from the crowd. Punk tossed Axel to ringside and performed a suicide dive on him heading into the break. [C]
Powell's POV: Minnesota vs. Chicago in Green Bay. Odd. I would say that the only thing missing is a guy from Motown, but they're usually missing from the NFC North discussion anyway. Snap!
Heyman, who had been backstage since Punk chased him off, made his way to ringside and taunted Punk. Axel had an offensive run, but Punk came back with his signature offense, including a high knee in the corner. Punk went to the top rope, but Axel cut him off.
[Q9] Punk ended up reaching through the ropes and dragging Heyman inside the ring. Brock Lesnar's music played and he walked onto the stage. Punk released Heyman and struck a fighter's pose while waiting for Lesnar. Once Brock made it to the ring apron, Axel reached through the ropes and pulled Punk to the floor. Punk caught Axel with the GTS.
Lesnar went after Punk on the floor. Punk got the better of it and ran Lesnar into the ring post. Punk went to the top of the announcers table and caught Lesnar with a shot on the way down that knocked Lesnar to the floor. Lesnar recovered and caught Punk with a nasty suplex. Lesnar slid Punk inside the ring. Heyman watched from the corner of the ring as Lesnar went for his finisher.
Punk slipped out of the F5 attempt and struck Lesnar with a chair that was inside the ring. Punk looked at Heyman in the corner. Heyman begged off as Punk walked toward him with the chair. Lesnar recovered, stopped Punk, and put him down with the F5. The crowd booed Lesnar.
"Brock, hurt him," Heyman yelled. Lesnar slammed the chair over Punk's back three times. Heyman walked over and raised Lesnar's arm while Heyman yelled at Punk. Cole said Punk's blind rage for Heyman got him hurt. Lesnar spat toward Punk before leaving the ring with Heyman...
Powell's POV: Punk suffered a cut on his chin somewhere during the brawl with Lesnar. It was another high intensity brawl from Punk and Lesnar. The buildup for their match has been so much stronger than the Cena vs. Bryan build. The straight forward approach and the lack of unnecessary McMahon drama are the keys along with that amazing intensity.
The announcers recapped the Punk and Lesnar brawl... Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, and Curtis Axel. Lesnar said he's the beast and the best in the world. Lesnar told Heyman to say something stupid. Heyman told Young to take the mic and deliver the message to Punk that he may not make it to SummerSlam.
Heyman said he will walk to the ring on Raw next week. He said that after the beating Punk took, he is not going as an advocate, he will be looking for a one on one match with Punk. Oh, and Axel just kind of stood there...
Fandango and Summer Rae danced their way onto the stage. Cole said something smells fishy. Get your mind out of the gutter, he was talking about Heyman's challenge...
[Q10] 7. Fandango (w/Summer Rae) vs. Kofi Kingston. Cole noted that Kingston has been out for a couple months. He attributed it to Kingston being put through three tables by Ryback. Kingston wore long tights. He ended up hitting Trouble in Paradise for the win...
Kofi Kingston beat Fandango in 3:45.
Powell's POV: This was Kingston's first match back from elbow surgery
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon cried as she told Triple H that her father bit her head off because he was embarrassed by what happened with Daniel Bryan. Hunter told her that Vince has lost it. "The once great creative genius Vince McMahon is finally gone," Hunter said.
Triple H said enough. He said Vince won't help Cena, but he will do something to mess with Bryan. Hunter said he's not going to stand by while Vince takes the ship down. He vowed to stop Vince from doing whatever he plans to do at SummerSlam. Stephanie looked surprised...
Powell's POV: As bad as some of the McMahon segments have been, at least they have been limited to Raw. Unfortunately, it appears that's going to change at SummerSlam. Here's hoping that whatever they are doing is quick and painless and doesn't overshadow or even ruin the Cena vs. Bryan match.
Footage aired from inside the the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Hey, why hasn't Brett Favre's number been retired?...
Zeb Colter cut a promo while Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro stood behind him. The only thing I heard what that the Green Packers are an overrated football team. WE THE PEOPLE!!!!! Did they turn him babyface or something?...
8. The Uso Brothers vs. Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro (w/Zeb Colter). The live crowd got together for the only thing they are capable of chanting - one syllable words (go, Pack, go). The Uso Brothers picked up on this and only had the Green Bay fans yell part of their last names rather than having them butcher the name Uso.
[Q11] In the end, Swagger cheap shotted one of the Uso brothers from the floor and then Cesaro hit the Neutralizer for the win...
Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro beat The Uso Brothers.
Powell's POV: I miss football.
The announcers hyped the six-man main event, and Dolph Ziggler vs. Big E Langston... [C] Cole said Ziggler would feel comfortable doing the Lambeau Leap because it's showing off. "Like Clay Matthews," JBL said...
9. Dolph Ziggler vs. Big E Langston (w/AJ Lee). At 3:20, Kaitlyn headed to ringside and fought with Lee. They ended up fighting inside the ring. Langston used the distraction to his advantage by performing a clothesline. Langston followed up with The Big Ending for the win...
Big E Langston pinned Dolph Ziggler in 4:20.
Powell's POV: The announcers nailed this one. First, JBL said maybe there's a reason all of Kaitlyn's friends turned on her. Then Cole mockingly pointed out that the match continued despite two women rolling around inside the ring. The live crowd is suddenly flatter than the Packers ground game. Oh, and before you point out that Eddie Lacy had a great game in the team scrimmage, please allow me to remind you Packer fans that he was doing it against your own atrocious run defense. Okay, back to wrestling.
[Q12] [C] The announcers hyped that Miz TV will feature AJ Lee and Big E Langston on Friday's Smackdown television show... The announcers set up a spot for the USA show "Summer Camp" television show... Josh Mathews interviewed two female cast members. One of the women looked like the love child of Pink and Barney The Dinosaur...
The babyface trio made their entrances for the main event. The announcers said the corporate makeover didn't go so well for Daniel Bryan. However, Bryan still had his hair slicked back into the ponytail. Cena looked into the camera and welcomed viewers to his battleground. He was so proud of the line he actually said it twice... [C]
Highlights aired of the Punk and Lesnar angle from earlier in the show... C.M. Punk vs. Paul Heyman was officially advertised for Raw... The Shield entered through the crowd...
10. Daniel Bryan, John Cena, and Randy Orton vs. The Shield in a six-man tag match. Bryan performed a missile dropkick when he was tagged in to the match.
[Overrun] Bryan's offensive flurry continued and he performed a missile dropkick onto Dean Ambrose on the floor. Later, Bryan made a hot tag to Cena, but the referee didn't see it and wouldn't allow it. Bryan ended up applying the Yes Lock on Rollins, but Ambrose and Reigns punched him and were immediately disqualified.
Daniel Bryan, John Cena, and Randy Orton by The Shield by DQ in 5:30.
After the match, Bryan was leading Yes! chants in the ring when Orton snuck up on him and put him down with the RKO. The Shield returned to the ring and were cleared out quickly by Cena and Orton. Cena then walked into an RKO from Orton. The crowd roared in anticipation of the cash-in.
Orton went to ringside and grabbed the MITB briefcase. As he was entering the ring, The Shield returned to the ring and scared him off. The fans booed. Cena stood up and Reigns spared him back down. Ambrose put the boots to Bryan. Orton walked off without saving his partners. The Shield put the boots to Bryan, then put him down with a Triple Powerbomb. Orton watched from the stage as The Shield stood tall to close the show...
Powell's POV: The main event felt bigger when it was announced earlier in the show than it did when it actually played out for some reason. The match was forgettable, but the post match angle was very good. Orton came out of it looking really good, and The Shield looked like ass kickers again for the first time in weeks. I didn't like was the match ending on the quick DQ, especially after the silliness of no DQ in the Ziggler vs. Langston match, but once again the angle overshadowed the sketchy finish.
Overall, this show really dragged at times. The crew was understandably weary following the overseas tour, but it just didn't feel like the show had the energy creatively until the end. I will have more to say about Raw in the Dot Net Member exclusive audio review later tonight, and in the WWE Raw Hit List on Tuesday. Thanks for watching along with me.
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