By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Stephanie McMahon Called Out Big Show
Stephanie is a much better heel than she is a heel, and her mic work in this segment is pure proof of that. She has been doing a great job portraying a unlikable heel in recent weeks and this promo was no different. It was a refreshing change of pace to see Show actually stand up for himself and not cry, but everything else about this segment including Show's "firing" was a logical follow-up to the conclusion of Battleground.
Dolph Ziggler def. Damien Sandow
Similar to the Kickoff match at Battleground, no one had any incentive to care about this match or its combatants. Sandow and Ziggler once against worked a well wrestled match, but it fell flat with most of the audience. The crowd was into the action at certain points, but not enough to warrant this bout better than their initial encounter. Ziggler picked up a rare victory, but I don't see this signaling the start of any sort of push in the foreseeable future, unfortunately.
Natalya, JoJo and Eva Marie def. Aksana, Alicia Fox and Rosa Mendes
I believe Rosa has changed the color of her hair just as many times as she has turned face/heel. As for the match, it was your typical Divas match solely used to highlight the stars of "Total Divas" and give them some exposure on Raw. Eva Marie was very limited in her role and JoJo never even tagged in, so it was good that Natalya did most of the work for her team. For anyone wondering why the feud between AJ Lee and Brie Bella wasn't furthered on this show, it was because AJ was sent home prior to the show due to having concussion symptoms.
Los Matadores def. 3MB
Wash, rinse and repeat: this was the third time we've seen this match in the last week and it was nothing new for the most part. The only difference was that Drew McIntyre competed as opposed to Heath Slater, which was odd since online reports indicated that McIntyre is being repackaged soon. Since he was the one pinned in this match, I would like to see him break away from 3MB sooner rather than later. As for Los Matadores, I still remain impartial on their act, as I don't love it or despise it.
CM Punk and R-Truth def. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel and Ryback
The pre-match promo from Paul Heyman and his henchmen was well done and a nice follow-up to the controversy at Battleground that allowed the feud between Ryback and Punk to indicate. Punk apparently accepted the challenge to face Ryback again at Hell in a Cell, but I am unsure if it will held inside Satan's structure or not at the event. Nonetheless, this was a fun tag team match and was better than I originally anticipated. Punk and Truth were a nice combo and Punk's entertaining antics before and after the match were a riot. I don't know how smart it was to have Ryback lose yet another match, but I was fine with the finish since it set up the title rematch between Axel and Truth on SmackDown.
Randy Orton def. Kofi Kingston
Although I sound like a broken record by this point, it needs to be said: Kingston hasn't meant much as of late, so a victory over him didn't do anything for Orton. The match was decent, but far less exciting than some of their matches from a few years ago were. It was meant to showcase Orton's aggression and what not, but why not a promo instead talking about why he should be WWE Champion? I think that would have been more effective.
Ricardo Rodriguez def. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio (Non-title)
First off, the match itself was an absolute joke. After picking up a strong, clean win at Battleground, it was a shame to see Del Rio lose to Rodriguez in a matter of moments. I guess this gives closure to their feud and writes Rodriguez off television for the time being, but it was a weak way to go about doing that. Secondly, I am torn on John Cena returning so soon. The announcement from Vickie Guerrero came off as extremely anticlimactic, especially since her laughing made it seem like she was joking as opposed to being serious. I also don't want to see Del Rio and Cena revive their rivalry, nor do I want to see Cena back in October instead of in January. However, there is a positive to this after all: Cena competing for the world title will help give it some prestige, especially if he is to win the strap. While I believe Del Rio has been doing a great job as champion over the last four months, hardly anyone cares about his reign, so I guess I would be fine with him dropping the title to Cena.
Fandango def. Zack Ryder
What is up with WWE's obsession with Fandango? If they are so determined on pushing the guy, why have him win a series of matches only to lose randomly without any story behind it? It has grown to the point of absolute absurdity and I couldn't care less about his character right now. This was a basic squash match that did very little to boost Fandango's momentum.
The Real Americans def. Santino Marella and The Great Khali
This was essentially the same exact match we saw at Battleground, so for those who didn't order the pay-per-view, this was simply to stress that you didn't miss much. Again, the match was total throwaway, but it was cool to see Cesaro pick up Khali and swing him several times. His unadulterated strength never ceases to amaze me.
The Wyatt Family Crashed "Miz TV"
It appears Bray Wyatt's feud with Kofi Kingston was short lived and now he has moved onto The Miz. I am completely fine with that, and I am glad that they started this feud this early as opposed to waiting until the very last minute again as WWE did with Bray's Battleground match. The matches between the two could be good, but Bray picking up a win over a former WWE Champion will do a lot to add to his credibility.
The Shield def. Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and Goldust
This match had all the potential in the world to be great, so I was disappointed by the ending result of it. It was enjoyable while it lasted, but it ran way too short to be considered memorable. I am fine with The Shield winning via help from Triple H, but the first match from the Rhodes brothers on Raw since being rehired should have meant more. Not only was the feud between Bryan and Orton furthered, but Big Show and HHH appear to be heading toward a match against one another as well. It was great to see Show finally knock out HHH and receive a huge ovation from the crowd for it, but I question whether if it was too little too late to be pulling that off.
After the disappointment that was Battleground, this show was definitely an improvement and provided a breath of fresh air. Not everything was perfect and there was still an immense amount of filler (especially in the third hour), but WWE managed to provide a decent episode as a whole. The promos from Booker T and Bob Backlund were awkward, but they were designed to be in order for people to vote for Shawn Michaels. Speaking of such, Michaels refereeing the Hell in a Cell match between Bryan and Orton for the WWE Championship match should be excellent and it is good to see WWE building toward the event this early instead of confirming everything at once like they did with Night of Champions and Battleground.
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