By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Authority Addressed Brad Maddox and Vickie Guerrero
After about a month of being full-fledged heels, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon went back to being babyfaces on this show. Putting Maddox and Vickie in matches (that no one wants to see) was of course going to garner a babyface reaction, so what was the point? I continue to be bored out of my mind when it comes to the continuous power struggle on Raw, and I highly doubt it is bringing in many new viewers, either.
WWE Champion Randy Orton def. Brad Maddox in a No Disqualification Match (Non-title)
It was important to put heat on Orton going into his title defense against Big Show on Sunday, but a win over Maddox doesn't exactly mean much. It was fun to see Maddox battle back for a few seconds yet ultimately get destroyed by Orton. The no disqualification stipulation allowed Orton to be vicious, but the fans didn't have an incentive to care about Maddox getting attacked by Orton due to him being a heel authority figure.
Big E Langston def. Curtis Axel to Win the Intercontinental Championship
It was odd to see this match thrown together at the start of the show, as it would have been smart to advertise it a week out or at least keep the feud running from Hell in a Cell. Even still, it was a good match that the live crowd was surprisingly receptive to. The commentators played up how "prestigious" the Intercontinental title is and how "great" of a champion Axel has been since June, which helped make the title win feel more memorable. It is great to see the belt finally on Langston and even better to see him finally getting over with the live crowds. Here's hoping he can incorporate the five count into his gimmick as he did down in NXT sooner rather than later.
The Divas Played Musical Chairs
What an f'n train wreck. Did anyone expect anything else? This was a complete embarrassment to the Total Divas cast, and that is coming from someone who actually watches the show! Hey, don't judge me. This segment served zero purpose and was a campy way of playing to the country theme. If nothing else, JBL bashing the segment was absolutely hysterical.
Big Show def. Ryback
Part of me was extremely disappointed to see this match happen on Raw, as I initially hoped to see it at WrestleMania 29 this past year or even at WrestleMania 30. The other part of me understands that it might not have been a big draw due to the fact that the Ryback character was killed off months ago. The match was surprisingly solid despite the fact they worked a rather slow pace. Ryback picking up Show for the Shell Shocked was a sight to see, and again, it would have made for a memorable 'Mania moment. Nonetheless, Show going over was logical given the fact he is the current No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship. Oh, and Orton lost any momentum he gained earlier on when Show pummeled him with a quick spear.
The Real Americans def. Kofi Kingston and The Miz
These two teams worked well together and had a fun match while it lasted. The Miz's could be seen coming from a mile away after Micheal Cole stated on commentary that the two didn't want to tag together, but it was still well executed. Miz garnered good heat from the turn and honestly, this probably the best thing for him at this point. I, personally, thoroughly enjoyed Miz as a face, but the face run was so badly botched by Creative that it was only a matter of time before he turned heel again. Does this mean we are in for another thousand matches between Miz and Kingston?
Divas Champion AJ Lee def. Vickie Guerrero (Non-title)
It was fun to see AJ toy with Vickie, but what was this supposed to prove? Has AJ really run through the entire Divas division that they have to have her face the SmackDown General Manager? I liked the fact Cole mentioned the past history between AJ and Vickie, but the bout was thankfully kept quick and relatively painless.
Dolph Ziggler def. Damien Sandow in a Broadway Brawl
The set-up for this match was absolutely atrocious, but I guess they needed to find a way to incorporate the country concept into more matches on the show somehow. Needless to say, these two are so underutilized and deserve much better. Nonetheless, these two have good chemistry together and worked an entertaining contest. They made good use of the weapons/instruments and Ziggler was over huge with the live crowd.
World Heavyweight Champion John Cena Addressed Alberto Del Rio
Both Cena and Del Rio cut standard promos and Cena feigning an arm injury could not have been any more predictable. I appreciate the effort WWE has tried to put in to building the world title match for Survivor Series, but I couldn't care less about this feud. It is obvious Cena will win, and Del Rio desperately needs to get out of the title picture for the foreseeable future.
R-Truth and Xavier Woods def. 3MB
Finally! I have waited years for Woods to be promoted to the main roster, and it was only a matter of time. As stereotypical as their team I may be, I like Woods pairing with Truth, as it might help add to the tag team division. The mach was fine for what it was and helped established Woods and Truth as a tandem.
Florida Georgia Line Performed "Round Here"
I am no fan of country music, but I found this to be rather tolerable. Of course, on a wrestling show I would like to see more... you know, wrestling, but this musical performance wasn't as bad as one would expect. The band got good exposure from it and the Nashville crowd seemed to enjoy it. That is all one can ask for, right?
CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, The Usos, and WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust def. The Shield and The Wyatt Family
I liked the hype this match received throughout the show, which made it feel like a big deal. This was the match everyone was originally hoping to see at Survivor Series, but let's be glad we even got it at all. The bickering between The Shield and The Wyatt Family at various points in the main event was a nice touch, especially if they plan on feuding come WrestleMania 30. The action was extremely entertaining after the last commercial break and the finishing sequence was fantastic. Rey Mysterio making his return was a very cool moment and ended Raw on a high note. It is good to see Mysterio back after all this time and this would obviously mean that he is the mystery man for Sunday's five-on-five elimination tag team match.
I didn't have high expectations for this show going in with it being country-themed, but it actually ended up being a lot more enjoyable than I originally anticipated. Langston's title win, Miz's heel turn, Woods' debut, and the return of Mysterio all made this episode of Raw noteworthy, and the country concept was kept to a minimum for the most part. Hell, the live musical performance wasn't even that bad. Sure, the show failed as being a go-home show, but let's face it: nothing is able to save the terrible build of Survivor Series by this point, so why bother trying? I still couldn't care less about the pending pay-per-view, but this show entertained me enough to know that I won't be missing anything if I don't watch Sunday's event and instead wait until the next night's Raw.
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