For the second week in a row, RAW delivered a solid performance last night. Though far from a spectacular show, the event was decently booked, decently paced, and did a good job of getting fans excited for the current product and the future of WWE.
Quick results are as follows:
- John Cena accepted Ryback’s challenge for Payback and expanded upon it, making the WWE Championship Match a Three Stages of Hell bout featuring a Lumberjack Match, a Tables Match, and the previously established Ambulance Match.
- Alberto Del Rio def. Big E Langston after an assist from AJ Lee backfired on Langston. AJ and Langston had words after the match.
- Dean Ambrose def. Kofi Kingston with the Headlock Driver to retain the United States Championship.
- The Shield def. Team Hell No when Rollins pinned Kane after the Sagat-style Flying Knee.
- Fandango def. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett when special guest referee The Miz put Barrett down with the Skull-Crushing Finale. Miz then kicked a celebrating Fandango in the head and fired off a quick three count when Summer Rae fell on top of her dance partner. So apparently Summer holds a win over Fandango?
- The New Age Oddities, Tons of Funk and Khali, def. 3MB.
- Paul Heyman accepted Chris Jericho’s challenge to CM Punk on behalf of his client. Punk/Jericho apparently scheduled for Payback.
- The Bella Twins def. Divas Champion Kaitlyn and Natalya after Kaitlyn accidentally speared Natalya.
- Whitesnake (Randy Orton and Sheamus) def. the Rhodes Scholars after Sheamus put Damien Sandow down with the Brogue Kick.
- Curtis Axel def. John Cena by countout when Ryback arrived to the arena in the ambulance and provided a distraction. Cena and Ryback brawled, with neither gaining a clear advantage, to close RAW.
Now to full results:
WWE Raw opens with a Memorial Day tribute package. WWE dedicates RAW to the men and women of the armed forces, particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the line of duty.
Cut to the ring and Cole sends us to a recap of last week. Triple H’s concussion and John Cena’s return to RAW seem to be the priorities of the evening. Following the video package, Cena’s music hits and the WWE Champion heads to the ring to the usual mixed reaction.
John Cena notes that there is a lot of unrest in Canada, and the hot Calgary crowd begins a sizable “We want Bret!” chant, which Cena does acknowledge. Cena says that there is a controversy brewing in regards to the WWE Championship, and so he proposes to end the controversy by battling Ryback in a Three Stages of Hell match, putting the title on the line in a best two of three falls bout contested in a Lumberjack Match, a Tables Match, and, if necessary, the Ambulance match which Ryback challenged Cena to initially.
After John Cena issues the challenge, Ryback’s music hits and He Who Apparently Rules heads to the ring. Ryback says that he agree with Cena, payback should be hell. In fact, Ryback seems a touch more amicable than usual, as he pretty much just agrees with all of Cena’s points and the match stipulations and leaves without making a fuss.
Just as the opening segment seems to be at its end, Paul Heyman heads to the ring with his new client, Perfect Jr, Curtis Axel. Paul Heyman notes that John Cena is a fighting champion, and Heyman says he knows that Cena would never back down from a challenge. Heyman wants Cena to take on Curtis Axel tonight in a non-title bout. Cena accepts, and it seems our main event for the evening is John Cena v. Curtis Axel.
Following the opening segment, Alberto Del Rio heads to the ring. ADR is in action against Big E Langston, and Cole notes that Del Rio is out to get his win back from RAW last week, in spite of Del Rio already doing that on Main Event. Langston and Del Rio have a decent match that doesn’t quite match up to their previous two efforts which ends when an attempted assist from AJ Lee backfires. AJ uncovers one of the top turnbuckles, but Langston falls victim to it as ADR shoves him into the exposed turnbuckle and pins him with a rollup. AJ and Langston have a bit of a confrontation after the bout, possibly planting the seed for a Big E Langston face turn in the future.
Cut backstage now and Kane is watching his tag team partner, Daniel Bryan, pace nervously back and forth. Bryan is talking to himself, obsessing over being “the weak link.” Kane notes that the only person who believes Bryan is the weak link is Bryan. Kane says that Bryan has to pull himself together. Bret Hart interrupt the argument, and Hart says that those two are one of the best tag combinations he has ever seen. Hart tells Bryan that he is one of the best WWE Superstars he has ever seen. Bryan marks hard for Hart’s compliments, much to Kane’s frustration. Kane asks Bryan why Hart can say the same things Kane has been saying and it sticks, to which Bryan replies “Because that’s Bret Hart! You’re just… Kane.”
Back to the ring and Dean Ambrose puts his United States Championship on the line against Kofi Kingston. Kingston and Ambrose start the match at a furious pace, with a handful of quick pin attempts occurring in just the opening few moments. The crowd is firmly in the corner of Ambrose throughout the match, and Ambrose manages to pick up the win with the Headlock Driver on Kingston. Ambrose is joined by fellow Shield members Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, but the trio’s celebration is short lived as Team Hell No arrives and clears the ring, and the US Championship match gives way directly to the Tag Team Championship match.
Bryan and Kane control the match in the early goings, even managing to nail Rollins with a Hart Attack, a nice nod to Bret Hart Night. After an excellent bout (which has become the norm when these groups are in the ring), Seth Rollins picks up the win with the Tiger Knee on Kane after a bit of miscommunication by Team Hell No.
Michael Cole and the commentary team give a bit of info next as a video package rolls of Triple H’s incident last week. Cole says that Triple H has not been cleared for action this week, but should be able to make RAW next week. So. There’s something to look forward to?
The Miz heads out to the ring now. Apparently his position in the next match will be decided via the WWE App and a RAW Active poll. Fans will decide if Miz will work as a guest commentator, guest referee, or guest ring announcer. 85% if the vote goes to referee and Miz will ref the bout between Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett and Fandango. The crowd is Fandango-ing throughout the match. The bout ends when Wade shoves Miz, who hits Wade with the Skull-Crushing Finale in retaliation and allows Fandango to pick up the win. As Fandango and Summer Rae dance in celebration after the match, Miz kicks Fandango in the head and Summer Rae falls on to him. Miz then drops a quick three count, so Summer Rae has apparently pinned Fandango. Kind of a fun segment.
Backstage with John Cena, and apparently Cena is taking advantage of a completely random Shawn Michaels appearance. Michaels, sporting an amazing beard, wants to make sure that Cena knows what he is doing in going into this Three Stages of Hell match. Michaels notes that what Cena is doing is brave but stupid, and wants to know why it is that he can warn Cena but Cena just won’t listen. Cena looks at Michaels and says that he knows someone who else who never listened: Michaels himself. Michaels can’t come up with a good response and Cena walks away.
Tons of Funk in the ring now with Khali, Natalya, and Hornswoggle. Khali and ToF are taking on 3MB. Brodus Clay pins Heath Slater with the Big Splash and no one cares. After the match, Clay tells production to cut the music, as tonight is Natalya’s birthday. Clay wants Khali to help them sing happy birthday. It goes much like you would expect.
Paul Heyman and Chris Jericho are up next for the Highlight Reel. Chris Jericho heads out first to a massive pop from the Canadian crowd. Jericho rips Heyman a bit with the usual walrus talk, then calls him out to the ring. Jericho says that Heyman has been called many things in his career, from a genius to a walrus. Jericho says that Heyman has had an uncanny knack for aligning himself with great talent. Heyman says he doesn’t just align with great talent, he discovers and develops it, much like Jericho himself. Heyman asks Jericho is he recalls this, and Jericho says he does recall, and he also recalls that Heyman still owes him money.
Jericho wants to talk about Heyman’s client. Heyman talks about Curtis Axel, Jericho says he doesn’t want to talk about Axel, he wants to talk about his other client. Heyman starts talking about Lesnar, but Jericho narrows it down and tells Heyman that he wants to talk about CM Punk. Loud CM Punk chants. Jericho has production roll a video package of Punk’s last RAW appearance and Jericho wants to know what’s going on with Punk. Jericho says that CM Punk is not allowed to sit at home for six weeks and still be called the Best in the World. Jericho challenges Punk for the next WWE pay-per-view. Heyman says that Jericho does not get to dictate terms, but if Jericho wants a match with Punk in Chicago, then on behalf of his client, Heyman accepts.
Natalya and Kaitlyn in tag action next against The Bellas. “Happy Birthday” chants from the Calgary crowd. Kaitlyn spears Natalya on accident and the birthday girl does the job to the Bellas. Natty cries as the Bellas taunt her and we all get a warm and fuzzy feeling from watching Neidhart’s daughter face humiliation in Calgary on her birthday.
Backstage with Bret Hart and Curtis Axel. Hart says that Axel looks a lot like his dad, which is patently untrue. Hart tells Axel to get Heyman out of his corner. Axel fires back that “just because you knew my dad doesn’t mean you know me.” Axel says that Heyman is the only one who believed in him. Axel tells Hart to enjoy his appreciation night, as he is going to go beat the WWE Champ tonight.
Randy Orton to the ring now to less than the usual warm reception. Randy is teaming with Sheamus against the Rhodes Scholars. The Great White and The Viper (hereafter known as Whitesnake) pick up the win when Sheamus nails Sandow with the Brogue Kick.
Finally it’s time for the evening’s main event, as John Cena goes toe to toe with Curtis Axel. A fight breaks out in the crowd during the match, so most of the fans in attendance pay zero attention to the action in the ring. After a picture-perfect Perfect-plex from Axel which Cena kicks out of, Ryback’s ambulance enters the arena and Cena exits the ring to confront Ryback. Cena takes a countout loss to Curtis Axel and then brawls with Ryback to close RAW. In mid-brawl, Cole notes that “we forgot about Curtis Axel in the ring!” which is probably a good indication of where his push is going.
As stated before, the show was solid and did more than a handful of things right. Putting Orton and Sheamus in a tag together is a great way to satisfy WWE’s need to continually feed these guys wins without having to do so in two separate matches. While it may have been more interesting to continue to build up Cena/Ryback before making the Three Stages of Hell stipulation, it’s good to see these two actually getting some time to develop their feud. Bret Hart’s appearances on the show did a ton to move the product, putting over Bryan and Axel in a big way.
RAW has been moving in a great direction these past few weeks. Let’s hope that this trend continues heading into the Payback pay-per-view on June 16th.