9/2 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show, Cody Rhodes must beat Randy Orton or lose his job
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Des Moines, Iowa at Wells Fargo Arena
[Q1] Justin Roberts introduced Triple H, who was already standing in the ring. Hunter introduced Randy Orton as "the face of the company." Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler checked in on commentary as Orton made his entrance and The Shield stood guard at ringside. Cole said an anonymous wrestler referred to the current regime having a "reign of terror."
Orton said that protecting the company is his top responsibility. He said that if you disrespect him then you are disrespecting the entire WWE and you need to be dealt with. The fans responded with "No!" chants. After pausing to let the fans chant, Orton mentioned Daniel Bryan, which led to "Yes!" chants.
Orton said Bryan defaced his personal property when he spray painted the Cadillac Escalade that Hunter gave him. Orton said he had no choice but to respond by defacing Bryan. Footage aired from Smackdown of Orton beating Bryan while The Shield held him.
Orton asked the fans whether Bryan should face him for the WWE Championship at NIght of Champions. They cheered and Orton responded with a No! He asked whether Orton has a chance in hell of beating him. They cheered, he said no. He asked whether Bryan will amount to anything in WWE or be a B-plus player. Then he asked whether Bryan should give up his opportunity to challenge him for the title. "Yes!" Orton yelled.
Triple H said that as COO, he has a few different responsibilities, including ensuring that WWE puts out the best product every week. Hunter said the WWE Universe has the most passionate and intense fans in the world. He said his other job is to ensure the health and well being of the talent. He said he is starting to worry for Bryan because his ego puts him in bad situations.
Hunter recalled the fans chanting "Yes!" and said that's a problem. He said the fans are causing Bryan to confuse popularity with what's best for business. Triple H recalled Doink the Clown. Hunter said Doink was insanely popular. He pointed to a fan dressed up like a clown in the front row and asked if the fan loved him. The fan nodded.
Triple H said people loved Doink, but there's a reason he was never champion. "It would be bad for business," Hunter said. Triple H said he could bring back the cruiserweight or European titles and those would be "good little titles" for Bryan because he will never be WWE Champion.
Bryan's music played. "Here comes the next cruiserweight champion," JBL quipped. Bryan sarcastically said he appreciates being compared to Doink, but he didn't recall anyone chanting for Doink in his day. He said the only clowns he sees are in the ring. He accused Hunter of cutting his hair, putting on a suit, and becoming a corporate sellout.
Bryan accused Orton of giving up on being in the WWE Title picture until someone decided to hand it to him. Bryan asked the fans whether he should give up his title shot at Night of Champions. "I think the answer to that question is the same to the answer of the question of whether Randy Orton his more masculine than Stephanie McMahon," said Bryan before a round of "No!"
Orton told Bryan there's not a chance in hell of him winning the fight. Bryan said he's been told what he can't do his entire career. He recalled being told he would never make it higher than working in high schools and flea markets, never being able to make it to WWE, never being a top guy in WWE, and never being WWE Champion.
Bryan said all those things made him who he is today and he loved everything he had to do to make it to WWE. Bryan told Orton that he will never understand it because he was given everything. Bryan said he knows he can beat Orton for the WWE Championship. "And, Randy, deep down you know it too, and so do you, Hunter," said Bryan. He explained that Hunter is booking him in lopsided matches because he knows it. Bryan said Orton may have the genetics of a champion, but he lacks the heart of a champion.
[Q2] Triple H questioned why Bryan is so angry and called him a grumpy old troll. Hunter said Bryan's anger should be with Big Show because he stands by and watches while Bryan gets beaten down. Triple H said he would let Bryan get his anger out by having him face Big Show in the main event. Bryan nodded confidently...
Cole hyped C.M. Punk speaking live during Raw after being attacked by Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel last week... [C]
Powell's POV: The opening segment was more of the same from Hunter and Orton, which is okay as they continue to establish their new personas. It was encouraging to hear the live crowd was receptive to their roles as heels, while also being very supportive of Bryan. I like the main event. I wanted to see Bryan play David to Show's Goliath at some point. It's a bit odd now because they are both babyfaces, but it's a unique matchup.
Backstage, Triple H and Orton were chuckling over the reactions of Bryan and Show to having to wrestle one another. Cody Rhodes walked into the picture. He said the main event should be great as long as no one gets involved. Rhodes asked Orton why he wouldn't want to just defend the title against Bryan. He said their match is what's best for business.
Hunter said Cody's judgement is probably clouded because he's getting married. He and Orton said they didn't get their invitations to Cody's wedding. Triple H told Cody that he got him a present anyway. He booked him in a match against Orton. Cody thanked him. Triple H told Cody that if he doesn't win the match then he won't be with the company very long...
1. Fandango (w/Summer Rae) vs. The Miz. They cut to break at 2:30 with Miz in control of the offense. [C]
[Q3] Footage aired from during the break of Miz kicking Fandango in the face. The announcers played up Fandango suffering a broken nose and said the doctor worked on him throughout most of the break. There was no blood coming from Fandango's nose, though he did grab it a few times.
Miz targeted the knee of Fandango after the break. He jumped at Fandango in the corner late in the match and missed. Fandango got the better of Miz for a bit, yet continued to sell the knee injury. Miz tripped up Fandango and applied the Figure Four. Fandango tapped out...
The Miz defeated Fandango in 7:25.
Lawler teased footage of the Punk beatdown from last week... [C]
Powell's POV: I'm not sure what happened with Fandango. He was seated and Miz threw a running kick at his face, but it's not like there was any sign of blood after the commercial break. The clean finish to the match surprised me. I just see much more in Johnny Curtis than I do in one dimensional Miz right now. Then again, it's simply one match and I suspect we haven't seen the last of them working against one another.
Backstage, Booker T told Daniel Bryan that fighting the McMahon family is one that he can't win. He told him he can make a ton of money in WWE. Booker said Bryan should consider giving up the title match. "Tell me you did not just say that," Bryan responded. He said this is his life. Booker said he's dealing with people who can ruin his life. He said "these people's power extends way beyond this arena" and told him to tread lightly...
Walt White's POV: If you don't know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly.
Footage aired of the beatdown that Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel gave C.M. Punk last week... Dolph Ziggler made his ring entrance and played to the live crowd. Cole said Raw general manager Brad Maddox informed Ziggler that he had a match, but he did not tell him who he would face...
Powell's POV: Dot Net reader Breaden Orr wrote to say that he was watching the app during the Miz vs. Fandango match and there was a lot of blood on the ringside doctor's towel. It looks like the doctor deserves a lot of credit for cleaning up Fandango quickly.
[Q4] [C] After the break, Ziggler was facing the stage while waiting for his opponent when Dean Ambrose attacked him from behind. Ambrose beat down Ziggler and threw him between the ropes. "You'll learn to respect the business," Ambrose told Ziggler. "You'll learn respect." Ryback's music played and he headed to the ring and was introduced as Dolph's opponent...
2. Dolph Ziggler vs. Ryback. The referee waited until Ziggler got back to his feet and then started the match. Ryback went right after Ziggler and suplexed him before throwing a round of punches to the side of his head. Ryback fish hooked Ziggler, who responded by screaming loudly. The fans chanted "you can't wrestle."
At 2:00, Ryback remained on the offensive and threw Ziggler into the corner. Ryback backed into the corner and went for his clothesline, but Ziggler caught him with a dropkick. Ziggler threw punches at Ryback in the corner and the crowd popped. Ryback came right back with the clothesline to shut Ziggler down. He followed up with Shellshocked for the win...
Ryback pinned Dolph Ziggler in 3:05.
Powell's POV: Ryback looks like a bully, Ziggler looks sympathetic, and Ambrose looks like one of Hunter's minions. I'm still not sure what to make of the last one, but the first two are perfect for what they are trying to accomplish with both men.
Backstage, Maddox informed Triple H and Stephanie McMahon that Big Show was refusing to fight Daniel Bryan. Stephanie stepped up and said she would take care of it. Maddox gave her directions to Show's locker room, but Steph said it would not be a private conversation...
The latest Los Matadores vignette aired... [C]
Stephanie McMahon made her entrance.
[Q5] Stephanie gave Show an overly kind introduction by referring to him as her friend and her giant. As Show made his entrance, Cole brought up Show's ironclad contract and said Triple H could take it away if he refused to face Bryan. Show entered the ring and hugged Stephanie.
Steph said Show is broke due to lending money to family, bad investments, and Wall Street issues. She said it's a matter of public record. She also said Show could lose his ironclad contract and questioned whether he would be the world's largest gas station attendant. She brought up Show's family and his biggest fear - giants don't live long.
Show was teary-eyed. Steph said the only person hurting more than Show is her. She hugged Show, who fought back tears as she headed backstage. There was a Y2J chant for some reason and Show held his tearful pose heading into the break... [C]
An ad for next week's Raw hyped that Edge would be back for one night only...
Powell's POV: Show always does a good job of getting emotional. Steph delivered a strong cold-hearted performance. It took them a while to address the ironclad contract issue. This doesn't really explain why he couldn't save Bryan over the last two weeks, but at least some effort was made.
Footage aired from during the break of an emotional Show trashing things backstage and sending a bunch of young employees scrambling... The broadcast team hyped the WWE app and a video tutorial aired...
3. The Prime Time Players vs. Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal (w/Drew McIntyre). Titus O'Neil got the better of Slater early. He backed Slater into his corner, got a whistle, and blew it while he put the boots to Slater. Well, okay then. Later, Slater and Mahal got their moment of glory when Slater tripped Darren Young on the ropes.
[Q6] Lawler spoke about being in Canada again near the one-year anniversary "of something bad that happened to me." Cole jokingly asked if King was going to make the trip. Young ended up making a hot tag to Titus, who got the better of Jinder. He put him in fallaway slam position, but instead just tossed him over his head and onto the mat without leaving his feet. In the end, Titus hit his finisher on Jinder for the win...
The Prime Time Players defeated Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal in 5:30.
The announcers hyped Cody Rhodes vs. Randy Orton for later in the show... [C]
Powell's POV: The crowd lost interest in the match when the 3MB members were on the offensive, but the Players seem to be gaining a little momentum via their recent winning streak.
Backstage, Paul Heyman interrupted a Brad Maddox phone conversation and lectured him for putting his fate in the hands of the WWE Universe last week. Heyman said Maddox put him in a position at Night of Champions where Punk is guaranteed to get his hands on him.
Triple H approached Heyman from behind and dismissed Maddox. Triple H said he approved of the match for Night of Champions. Heyman's tone turned to kiss ass. Hunter said he watched Heyman weasel his way out over the years, but he doesn't see an out for him this time. He said he will be watching with a smile on his face if Heyman finds a way out, but he wins either way since the alternative is Punk giving Heyman the beating he deserves...
The announcers set up a Wyatt Family video... Wyatt sat in his chair with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan behind him. He spoke about Icarus getting to close to the fire. He closed out by saying Kane made his bed and now he's burning in it... Back live, Lawler called Wyatt "the minister of sinister"...
Powell's POV: Pro wrestling already has a Sinister Minister. Anyway, you have to be able to really, really suspend your disbelief about the whole Kane storyline. No one seems to care that he had been missing ever since he Wyatt Family took him away.
Cody Rhodes made his entrance. He squatted in the corner and went into deep thought mode to put over the severity of the situation heading into the break...
[Q7] [C] The announcers reiterated that Cody will be fired if he doesn't beat Randy Orton. Orton made his entrance. Cole said there were several wrestlers tweeting support from the locker room. JBL sang the praises of Orton...
4. Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes (with Cody's career on the line). Orton was in charge after dumping Orton to ringside heading into the break. [C] After the break, Orton continued on the offensive as the crowd amused themselves with a Randy Savage chant.
[Q8] Cody made his comeback and caught Orton with the flat-back uppercut followed by a springboard dropkick for a good near fall. Cody caught Orton with a Beautiful Disaster kick for a two count that popped the crowd. They followed up with a strong Cody Rhodes chant. Cody went to the top rope and missed a moonsault when Orton stepped aside. Orton covered Rhodes, who kicked out.
Orton performed the hanging DDT, then mocked the crowd by calling for their cheers before striking the Viper's Pose. Orton went for the RKO, but Cody countered into a DDT for the best near fall yet. Another loud Cody chant fired up. Orton kicked Cody and clotheslined him on the top rope. Cody rolled up Orton for a two count. Cody went for a Beautiful Disaster kick, but Orton dodged it. Cody clutched his knee as he stood up. Orton kicked the knee and hit him with the RKO for the win...
Randy Orton defeated Cody Rhodes in 13:50.
After the match, Orton gloated on the stage with the title belt and was joined by Triple H. Orton headed to the back, leaving Hunter to cut the promo. Hunter mockingly asked to hear it for Rhodes. He said Cody fought with heart. He said Rhodes has no idea how much he personally respects him. Hunter said it's a business and he has to do what's right.
"Cody, it's with deep regret that I have to tell you, you're fired," Triple H said. The crowd booed. Hunter headed backstage while Cody sold the firing in the ring. A small "thank you, Cody" chant started. Cody limped as he left the ring. One of the announcers asked what Cody's fiancee is thinking. A loud Cody Rhodes chant started and faded as he walked toward the stage... [C]
Powell's POV: The match was really good after the commercial break and the live crowd was hot for the late near falls. Triple H is playing his part very well and I love seeing them put so much heat on the heels. I just wish they would work this hard to put heat on heels who are not named Triple H, Vince McMahon, or Stephanie McMahon. As for Cody, at last check he was engaged to former WWE Diva Brandi Reed (a/k/a Eden Stiles).
After the break, the announcers spoke at ringside about the Cody Rhodes firing. Cole asked JBL whether Triple H is guilty of a gross misuse of fire. JBL once again defended Hunter...
Powell's POV: Cole has openly questioned Hunter enough that it has me waiting for his character to take a beating.
C.M. Punk made his entrance and carried a kendo stick.
[Q9] Punk brought the stick inside the ring with him. "I promise," Punk started. He said they are two words that don't mean a lot to some people but they still carry a lot of weight with him. He promised there would be no more empty threats or posturing or even talking because he was having a hard time coming up with what he's supposed to say next.
"What's left to say?" Punk asked. He said the fans have heard everything he has to say and that while he was dressed to compete, wrestling was the furthest thing from his mind. "After what was done to me last week, I want a fan," he yelled. Punk said he wants to fight Heyman and if he has to go through Curtis Axel to get it then he will do it. He said he would invite both men out but he knows they wouldn't come out.
Punk guaranteed the fans that he will get past Axel and guaranteed that he will get his hands on Heyman. "You order Night of Champions on pay-per-view and you will see a side of C.M. Punk that you've never seen before and I can't promise you that it's going to be a side that you're going to like." Punk said he knows Heyman won't like that side of him. Punk recalled Heyman claiming that he broke his heart. "At Night of Champions, I'm going to break his face," Punk said. "I promise".
Footage aired of the cane beating that Heyman gave Punk last week. They went back to the ring. Cole said Punk is on the verge of breaking bad...
Powell's POV: A strong and creative promo that surely sold some pay-per-views.
Cole hyped Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show as the main event...
Backstage, Daniel Bryan was backstage looking intense when Big Show entered the room and told him he didn't want to have their match, but he can't let their friendship dictate what would happen to his family. Bryan said he would beat Show just like he did for his first World Hvt. Championship...
Powell's POV: This would be so much more effective if they had actually taken the time to show an on-air friendship between Bryan and Show before tonight.
[Q10] 5. Naomi (w/Cameron) vs. Natalya vs. Brie Bella (w/Nikki Bella, Eva Marie) for a WWE Divas Title shot. A.J. Lee came out before the bell and sat in on commentary. At 1:15, Natalya went for the Sharpshooter on Naomi, who countered with a small package for a two count. Later, Naomi was going for another cover when Lee entered the ring for the no-contest finish. The Total Divas cast put the boots to her and left her lying...
Naomi, Natalya, and Brie Bella fought to an apparent no-contest in 1:45.
Powell's POV: I guess this was the logical move for the Total Divas cast. I just think it would have been funny if Lee had yapped throughout the beatdown as a payback to the Bellas and Eva Marie for babbling on endlessly during her promo last week. I guess this means we have to sit through a rematch next week to determine which Diva will challenge for the title.
Another Los Matadores video aired...
6. Rob Van Dam (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Damien Sandow. Ricardo delivered the unnecessary personalized introduction for RVD beforehand. At 2:20, Alberto Del Rio's music played and he walked onto the stage. Sandow hit a distracted Van Dam from behind and knocked him to ringside heading into the break. [C]
[Q11] After the break, Van Dam eventually made his comeback and set up for the split-legged moonsault when Sandow surprisingly rolled him up from behind for a two count. Van Dam came right back by clotheslining Sandow on the top rope and then hit the Five Star Frogsplash for the win...
Rob Van Dam defeated Damien Sandow in 10:05.
Powell's POV: I continue to hope that Ricardo will turn on RVD at the pay-per-view to put things back the way they were meant to be. I just don't see any chemistry between RVD and Ricardo. That said, the match served as effective hype for the NOC title match.
The announcers hyped Bryan vs. Show as the main event... [C] An ad for Smackdown focussed on Daniel Bryan and advertised nothing in particular for Friday's television show...
Footage aired of Stephanie McMahon informing Natalya, Naomi, and Brie Bella that A.J. Lee will face all three of them at Night of Champions in a Fatal Four Way match...
Backstage, Cody Rhodes was being led away by security when Josh "The Stalker" Mathews appeared out of nowhere and asked him if he had any parting words. An intense Cody said Orton was the better man, but it was "that damn stipulation." Cody said that for two decades, the McMahons have hated his family.
Cody recalled his father being put in polka dots and dancing, and his brother being put in gold paint and never being the same. Cody said he has a wife to provide for. Cody was about to walk away when Mathews called him back and asked if there was anything he wanted to say to his fiancee if she was watching. Cody gave him an intense glare and then stormed out the door...
The roster of wrestlers took their now weekly spot on the stage as the announcers said they were ordered to stand there and watch the main event...
Powell's POV: Cody was really good here. It's just too bad that he waited until he had a foot out the door to deliver a high quality promo.
[Q12] [C] An ad aired for Edge appearing on Raw next week "for one night only"... Daniel Bryan made his entrance and received a strong reaction. Big Show was still somber as he walked to the ring to a a flat reaction. Highlights from Smackdown were shown of Show being forced to watch as Randy Orton and The Shield put the boots to Daniel Bryan...
7. Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show. Show tried to talk to Bryan, who motioned for him to bring it on. Bryan charged at Show, who pushed him down. Show told him his back was against the wall. Bryan charged at Show again. Show grabbed him and said, "Don't make me do this." Show tossed Bryan to ringside and then told him to lie down and don't be prideful. "I'm trying to help you, Daniel," Show aid.
Bryan headed back to the ring and caught Show with a round of kicks. Bryan caught Show with a pair of dropkicks in the corner. He went for a third dropkick, but Show was waiting with a kick of his own. Show continued to ask Bryan not to make him hurt him. "I'm being forced to do this," he said. "I'm asking you, please." Bryan continued to fight.
Bryan caught a kneeling Show with a dropkick to the knee. Bryan caught Show with a series of kicks to the chest. He went for the big finale kick, but Show caught his leg. Bryan managed to DDT the kneeling Show for a two count. Bryan went to the top rope and dove into a spear from Show. Show set up for the WMD punch, but then put his fist down and climbed over the top rope.
Daniel Bryan fought Big Show to an apparent no-contest.
Triple H's music played. The Shield headed to ringside, then Triple H walked out behind them with a mic in his hand. Hunter told Show to get back in the ring and finish it. Show told him no. Hunter repeated himself, as did Show. Big Show started to leave the ringside area.
The Shield attacked Daniel Bryan and the referee called for the bell. Show headed back inside the ring and The Shield ran off. Triple H entered the ring and got in front of Show. "Paul, you know I don't want to do this," Hunter said. He told him to think about his family. He made Show stand in the corner and watch as The Shield performed the Triple Powerbomb on Bryan. Show acted anguished.
Triple H told Big Show to turn around. He told him to ball up his fist and knock out Daniel Bryan. Show cried as he complied by making a fist while Roman Reigns held Bryan in place for him. Show looked at Hunter and told him no. Off mic, Hunter asked him if he wanted him to do it. Big Show begged Hunter to just leave him alone.
[Overrun] Stephanie McMahon's music played and she headed to ringside where a blubbering Show was standing. She encouraged him to think about his family and said they are relying on him. Show listened to Steph and headed back to the ring. Reigns once again held up Bryan.
Triple H once again ordered Show to ball up his fist and knock out Daniel Bryan. Show made the fist. He took a step toward Triple H, but Stephanie stood in front of him and backed him down. Triple H smirked and then Show complied by punching Bryan in the face. A "you sold out" chant started. Triple H and Stephanie left the ring with the blubbering Show. Hunter told him he did the right thing. Show stopped and looked back at the fallen Bryan.
Randy Orton's music played and he walked past the wrestlers on the stage and then past Triple H, Stephanie, and still blubbering Big Show. Orton entered the ring and eventually put a boot on the fallen Bryan and posed with the WWE Championship to close the show...
Powell's POV: The NFL starts next week and fans who like football and wrestling have the choice of watching two football games or a roster of bad ass wrestlers who are afraid to stand up to the heel authority figures. I really like the way they have put so much heat on the heels, but they continue to make the babyfaces look like pushovers. At least Show displayed anguish over his situation, whereas the wrestlers on the stage mostly just stood there.
It's a damn shame they didn't book this far enough out to establish an on-air friendship between Show and Bryan. Show is always a great crier, but it was hard as a viewer to get invested in a friendship that basically started tonight regardless of how many tears he shed. Show delivered a strong performance, though, and Hunter and Steph are also doing a great job playing their characters. I will have a lot more to say about Raw in the member exclusive audio review. Thanks for watching along with me (or checking in late after the holiday weekend).
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