Last night’s Raw was a jolly good show. CM Punk proved once again why he is the best in the world, while real-life girlfriend Beth Phoenix breathed new life into the women’s division. The Miz flexed his awesome vocal muscles, while R-Truth and John Morrison gave us a pay-per-view match on free television. There was trouble in paradise for the WWE’s plutonic power couple, Mr. Money in the Bank looked to rectify his plans that went afoul last month, and the newest members of the Future Endeavors Club were even name dropped. Read all about it after the jump!
- Triple H opened last night’s Raw by announcing that he’d be the special guest referee in Sunday’s WWE Title match between John Cena and CM Punk. He also announced that the official contract signing for that match would be later tonight, but before that, both Cena & Punk would be in singles competition. This interview, which was about five minutes longer than it had to be, led directly into Raw’s first match.
- John Cena defeated Jack Swagger after connecting with an Attitude Adjustment. While this would have been a disappointing match if it were a main event, it was about as good an opening bout as you could hope for. There was back and forth action from bell to bell, and both guys hit most of their trademark spots. Prior to the match, Triple H and Cena exchanged some words, and it was kind of cool to see them interacting in the ring without microphones. I feel like it leant the segment a bit of realism. I’m glad they’re finding a way to keep Swagger on television even though he’s currently in limbo in regards to a storyline.
- We learned via a backstage interview that Alberto Del Rio will be CM Punk’s opponent later in the night. Del Rio called Punk a coward for running away from him when he attempted to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase at the pay-per-view of the same name. I know I’ve discussed this with friends before, and can’t recall if I’ve done the same here on this blog, but Alberto Del Rio’s facial expressions are one of the best aspects of his character. It’s really amazing, considering he spent most of his career under a mask.
- R-Truth cut a backstage promo, opening with “I’m a good R-Truth.” Possibly my favorite trademark phrase in wrestling. When asked why he attacked John Morrison months ago, Truth responded by asking why ten hotdogs come in a pack while buns are packaged by the eight. He went on to ask why God created spiders and recall how his mother used to make spider stew when he was a child. Naturally, the only person who enjoyed the stew was Little Jimmy. R-Truth’s delivery is easily one of the best around these days – dude is hilarious. It’s amazing what a heel turn can do.
- The Miz was scheduled to take on Rey Mysterio, but before the match could begin, the most must-see WWE Champion in history brutally attacked Raw’s resident underdog. After pummeling Rey on the ramp and sending him crashing into the WWE logo a number of times, The Miz hit the ring and called for a microphone. Miz vented his frustration over not being booked for SummerSlam yet and demanded to be named the victor in this match as a result of a forfeit. A referee came out and told Miz that, by order of Triple H, Rey would be replaced by another opponent. Out came Kofi Kingston, leading to an impromptu match that turned out pretty decent. The Miz ended up winning after a dramatic exchange climaxed in a Skull Crushing Finale. These two have meshing styles, and it would be great to see an extended program between them somewhere down the line. Meanwhile, The Miz remains one of the best talkers in the game.
- CM Punk went over Alberto Del Rio in a pretty good matchup. Like The Miz and Kofi Kingston, I’d like to see this pairing get the opportunity to work together more in the future. Del Rio worked over Punk’s arm for the duration of the match, but ultimately Punk was able to put Mr. Money in the Bank away with a GTS. Before the match took place, Punk was interviewed backstage about Triple H’s insertion of himself into the SummerSlam main event, a move that Punk attributed to Trips’ massive ego. Punk went so far as to describe Hunter’s ego as bigger than his father-in-law’s and said that it would be good for business if the new CEO would keep his big nose out of the spotlight. Well, I can’t argue with that. Triple H’s involvement in Sunday’s main event is an unwelcome addition in my book.
- Beth Phoenix took on Eve in what was the best divas match that Raw’s hosted in recent memory. It still wasn’t as good as what the Knockouts do on a weekly basis, but it was worlds better than the usual battle royals and 14-diva tag contests. Beth Phoenix was victorious after she reversed Eve’s attempt at a moonsault into the Glam Slam. I’m a sucker for finishing maneuvers that lead directly into a pinning combination, so I’m a huge fan of Beth’s move. After the closing bell, Beth got on the stick and said that there’d be no more booty popping, no more splits, and no more stinkfaces. You tell ’em, sister. Kelly Kelly attacked Beth from behind in the entry way, and it’s kind of hard to believe that Kelly could take Beth down even considering that she got the jump on her. I’d love to believe that the current #1 contender’s word’s are a sign of things to come, but the diva’s division has been so bad for so long it’s hard to imagine a turnaround.
- Dolph Ziggler and Alex Riley participated in an unforgiveably short match that culminated with Vickie Guerrero slapping Riley, causing Ziggler to be disqualified. Post-match, Ziggler screamed at Vickie for her interference, calling her ridiculous, which led to her walking out on him. A few thoughts: 1) I’d love if they split these two up. Vickie was a necessary component for getting Ziggler heat some time ago, but he’s more than capable of keeping his head above water on his own at this juncture. 2) I love that Ziggler uses the sleeper hold. It’s been a while since somebody used it as a semi-finisher, and I’m a big supporter of Dolph bringing it back. 3) Alex Riley stinks. I can’t get into that guy at all.
- R-Truth picked up an unexpected win over John Morrison in what was a really good match. There were a number of high spots, not the least of which saw Morrison land a crazy corkscrew over the top rope to the floor, and it was great to see Truth pick up the win. I never saw anything in Truth during his face runs, but since he’s adopted the Little Jimmy hating persona, he’s been an absolute riot. Guys like this are giving the WWE it’s first credible mid-card in years.
- Raw was headlined by the most entertaining contract signing I’ve ever witnessed. As Triple H introduced the crowd to the segment, CM Punk interrupted and pointed out how unnecessary a public contract signing was, noting that it was just Triple H’s way of getting his face on TV. What followed was a hilarious tirade from CM Punk that should serve to remind the world that he is without peer. Punk said that he had a video of a movie star he’d like to share, which led to some bashing of Triple H’s straight-to-DVD movie career. After showing a clip of The Rock insulting John Cena (the months-old video from Rock’s Facebook), Punk and Cena both spewed some insults about The Rock. Cena referenced his own five moves of doom and the fans’ desire to see him go heel. CM Punk implied that Triple H was gutless, name dropping Harry Smith, Vladimir Kozlov, and Chris Masters and questioning if Triple H or John Laurinitis called them personally when they were released on Friday. Punk still wants ice cream bars. Cena insisted that Punk’s career hinges on the outcome of their match at SummerSlam and wishes him good luck, to which Punk responded by quoting his own tattoo, “luck is for losers.” The segment culminated with a shoving match, one that saw Punk kick Johnny Ace in the head and Cena shove Triple H into Punk. As the show wrapped up, Cena and Hunter stood in the ring together while Punk retreated up the ramp declaring that the fix was in.
I almost didn’t even bother writing about the contract signing. CM Punk’s mic work is too good to recap – every word he says is important, and none of it can be said better than he articulates it. I don’t recall there ever being a wrestler who made every moment of his promos count as much as this guy. There’s no filler at all, just excellence. Also baring mention is the difference Jim Ross makes on the show. His presence makes Raw so much more watchable, as he actually calls matches instead of just bickering. My distaste for the current crop of announcers has been well documented, but I must say, Ross is doing a lot to push things in the right direction.