Hello. Call me Andy PG, my old handle from the Rant Crew. On the Extreme Warfare message board, I was asked to recap a random show in order to help someone’s fantasy booking thread. I decided to imitate Scott Keith in doing it, and found out that it was the most natural voice I had. So if this sounds like him, that’s why. And now it comes full circle, as the man himself has allowed me to try out to recap Raw. Hopefully, I can do him proud. And don’t worry, I won’t be EXCLUSIVELY a Scott Keith clone. I hope. Let’s hope I can keep up, considering I’m doing this live without the help of DVR. – The Rated-PG Rant on Monday Night Raw. – Live from Anaheim, California. – Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler. – WHEN LAST WE LEFT OUR HEROES: HHH turned heel. Yes, there were two WWE title changes, but according to the dot-com, this was the most important story. – TONIGHT’S PREVIEW AD: How did Punk/Lesnar and Cena/Bryan go? Okay, enough buildup, let it begin. – Cold open reveals that Brock/Punk was changed to no-DQ. Punk would have won had Heyman not interfered, and Lesnar wins with an F-5 on a chair. Later that evening, Daniel Bryan defeated John Cena with a knee to the head… but Randy Orton emerged, waited for HHH to hit a Pedigree, and stole the title. – So who do we hear from first? John Cena. And man, his elbow looks BAD. He’s disgusted at the events ofSunday, too. Cena gives a gracious concession speech to Daniel Bryan, talking about his excellence in the ring. Cena has a black eye too? Cena admits he shouldn’t have been in the ring at SummerSlam, and that he has a torn tricep, but that’s not an excuse – Bryan was the better man. This sounds like Cena telling the kids to get behind Bryan during his impending absence. The crowd chants “YES” as he announces his departure. Thanks, fans. You’re a blast. Cena brings Stone Cold Daniel Bryan out and the crowd is 1000% behind him. Beautiful. Is the crowd dampened tonight? They seem to be a little quieter on the YES chants. Cena hands the mic over and leaves, completing a torch-passing for the fall of 2013. Whoops, spoke too soon – the “Daniel Bryan” chant is loud… until Stephanie interrupts before Bryan can talk. Crowd isn’t too thrilled to see her. She apologizes completely, but says that HHH was doing what was best for business. Bryan and the fans seem to disagree. And sure, Stephanie and Vince can ask for clean-cut corporate champions, but HHH has sold out! Oh, and Stephanie is trash and Bryan is begging to be fired. And he’s willing to give Stephanie a reason. It’s Austin/McMahon all over again! Stephanie tries to let Bryan down softly, and it’s clear that since Bryan is small, he’s not good enough. She calls Bryan a B+, and it’s a total backhanded compliment. Bryan: “You’re starting to remind me of a word that starts with the letter B right now.” Bryan calls out Stephanie on spinning and knocks the mic out of Stephanie’s hands. This appears to be enough to get him kicked out of the building. And he leaves without incident – except for a huge “NO” chant – because no one gets heat on the McMahons. They were off to a hot start and then it went nowhere. – Damien Sandow v. Cody Rhodes. No entrances in this rematch. Sandow goes for knee strikes early and has to be pulled off, but Cody with a leg sweep. Back to the corner for Sandow, but Rhodes fights out and drops an elbow off the second rope for one. Front suplex by Cody and he takes over. Sandow dumps Cody, who lands on the apron and sends Sandow into the buckle. Missile dropkick follows. Now Sandow to the outside and follows with a suplex on the floor. Back in, he gets two. Wait, when did Cody shave? “Daniel Bryan” chant as Cody works the arm. Sandow dumps Cody again on a charge – is this match going somewhere – and the fight continues on the outside. Back in, suplex by Sandow leads to a kneedrop for one. Headbutt follows, but Cody fires back and goes up top only to get slammed off. It gets two. And we go to break. Back with Sandow getting two, and he HITS THE CHINLOCK. Sandow cuts off a comeback with a knee to the gut, followed by a Russian Legsweep and Cubito Aequet for two. Learn your Latin, kids. Sandow goes for a superplex, but Cody knocks him off and follows with a moonsault press for a double KO. Crowd is behind Cody Rhodes. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK body drop by Cody leads to clotheslines and the drop punch. Jack-knife pin gets two. Snap mare counters Cross Rhodes, and Sandow gets two. Terminus looks to finish, but Rhodes is out and the Disaster Kick has Sandow reeling. Sandow gives Cody a Hotshot to stop the momentum, but it’s Cody with the Brisco corner rollup to win at 10:32. [b]**1/4[/b] I hope this leads to a match at Night of Champions for the briefcase, because it’s clear they backed the wrong horse. – Brad Maddox alert! He reads off words from Dolph Ziggler that he doesn’t stand HHH. And as a result, Dolph will face the Shield 1-on-3. But it’s not punishment, honest. – And now, Paul Heyman. With a sling. They’re getting all the heavy hits out early, which is weird. He admits that CM Punk proved his worth… but he lost. So there. Next, you ask? It’s to reconcile with Punk, as they bring up his family issues and Heyman crowns himself Punk’s father figure. He forgives Punk’s rebelliousness as his slow speech makes it clear we’re just WAITING for the interruption. “CM Punk, I still love you.” Heyman just sounds like he’s stalling for time right now. He promises the moon and the stars to Punk as I’m trying to follow this when it’s clear THIS NEEDS AN INTERRUPTION. And none comes as Heyman walks off. Yeesh. – More Total Divas shilling as the Funkadactyls get a sarcastic good luck from the Bellas. – Funkadactyls v. Layla and AJ Lee. Announcers mention AJ has a million Twitter followers. Big whoop. Heels attack before the bell, and AJ slams her opponent down to the mat. Naomi, okay. Didn’t catch which one. AJ with a neckbreaker and chinlock. Spinkick follows for two. Another chinlock, slowly turned into a sleeper, as AJ refuses a tag to Layla. She keeps kicking away on Naomi, and back to the sleeper as she whispers a spot to Naomi. Enzuigiri by Naomi as AJ taunts Cameron, which brings us to the hot tag… okay, not quite. Layla cuts off Cameron, but Naomi rolls up Layla for the win at 2:18. It looked like Layla may have kicked out, but the same ref as last week said otherwise, and clearly he knows what he’s talking about, right? [b]DUD[/b] – Dolph Ziggler v. Shield. Ambrose’s hair is slicked back now. Interesting. Cole surmises this match is “vindication” for Ziggler’s remarks. You keep using that word, Michael. I do not think it means what you think it means. Cole and JBL argue about the situation. Some stalling to start, but Ambrose and Dolph in a long lockup as Dolph jumps out of the way of the Shield corner. Dolph with a waistlock takedown, but Ambrose gets Rollins in. Dolph attacks him, too, and a back body drop follows. Ziggler fires away in the corner and has to be separated, allowing Rollins a kick to take over as Reigns comes in with a clothesline. Reigns chokes Dolph on the bottom rope, and a toss into the corner brings Ambrose in. Stomps and elbows get two. Short clothesline by Ambrose and in comes Rollins. Rollins kicks Dolph in the gut and stalls. Back in goes Ambrose for a double-team as Cole and JBL keep arguing over HHH. Cross-face blows by Ambrose as the crowd gets behind Dolph. Ambrose with a camel clutch until Dolph bites the hand and puts on the sleeper. Ambrose reverses, only to get a jawbreaker. Reigns in slowly, but he walks (strolls) into a dropkick. Dolph goes after all three guys and hits a Famouser on Reigns. Ambrose is tossed, and Dolph gets a big kick and leaping DDT for two as Rollins saves. Dolph suplexes Rollins out of the ring, but the Stinger Splash is intercepted with a spear for the pin at 6:07. Started very badly, but picked up at the end. [b]*3/4[/b] Shield add the triple powerbomb for emphasis. Rollins is favoring his left leg, but it looks to be nothing serious. – Alberto Del Rio v. Sin Cara. Man, Alberto’s eye looks worse than Cena’s. Del Rio attacks Cara early and pounds away, but Cara reverses an armdrag into one of his own and dives out. The two collide heads, and Cara gets the worst of it as the match is called off at 0:52. Del Rio keeps up the attack afterward, unhappy with the way it ended. Okay then. – So let’s give Del Rio some mic time instead. He brags about being a great World Champion and about how he is the hero of Latinos – which the crowd seems to agree with. He says Latinos have no hero but him. And this brings Ricardo Rodriguez out. Ricardo disagrees with the hero assessment completely. Ricardo brings out his new ally… Rob Van Dam! Never saw that coming. RVD charges the ring and cleans house on Del Rio, complete with Five Star Frog Splash attempt, but Del Rio bails and gets out of town. Good thing, too – Sandow’s still in the building. For those wondering, I’m certain Sin Cara isn’t injured this time. Timing’s too convenient. RVD putting Alberto over can only be good. – Here comes Zeb Colter’s diatribe of the week. Hey, it gets him and his charges over, so maybe they ought to try it with other people. – Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro v. Prime Time Players. I knew it! A face turn from nowhere! Oh, don’t act shocked. By the way, did anyone else hear how over “WE THE PEOPLE” as a phrase is? Cesaro attacks Young in the corner and delivers European uppercuts, but Young reverses with a hiptoss. Swagger in, but he gets hiptossed too. O’Neal in, and it’s a double shoulderblock. He works over Swagger in the corner, but a blind charge hits boot and in comes Cesaro. Boots and Karelin suplex gets two. Another uppercut and Swagger comes in. O’Neal plays more face in peril as Cesaro chokes O’Neal on the outside. O’Neal fights back, but he takes out Cesaro and is jumped from behind. Leglock from Swagger. Here’s the problem: the WWE will probably push the Players out of political correctness, but they’re not really impressive in the ring. Swagger with a slam and Vaderbomb, then Cesaro over the top with a Mushroom stomp. It gets two. Back to Swagger, who works O’Neal over in the corner, but runs into a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. Hot tag Young, and he unloads on Cesaro, although one of his kicks visibly misses. Belly-to-belly suplex by Young, and a Northern Lights with bridge gets two before Swagger saves. It’s BONZO GONZO as everyone is tossed out, and Cesaro walks into a Gut Check (fireman’s carry into a pair of knees to the gut) for the pin for Young at 4:49. Hey, it’s a face turn, why not? Nothing wrong with this match. [b]*1/2[/b] – Big Show promo as he addresses a possible tag team with Mark Henry. Show/Henry is an official team, but Maddox interrupts and shooes off Renee. Maddox is clearly HHH’s shill. And Show will also be fed to the Shield, with all three men allowed in at once. Hey, I get to face someone who’s already been in a match? Bring it! – Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder shill Foot Locker. And then Fandango interrupts. Okay, Johnny Curtis is absolutely killing it in his character. – Repeat the video package! Yay! Time to relax! I did notice someone brought a sign reading “Smarten up Dixie”. That person gets a cookie. And I work on Sundays, so no, I didn’t see SummerSlam. – Ryback bullies some jobbers. For those who complain about Ryback running away from a fair fight, HE’S A BULLY. IT’S WHAT HE DOES. It’s actually great characterization. – Big Show v. Shield. I get a feeling the Shield won’t look as impressive in this match. For the record, I really don’t like watching Big Show wrestle. So I probably won’t be unbiased in this match. In fact, as long as we have a commercial break between entrances – both Pauls (Show and HHH) drive me up the wall. I’ll let you debate whether that’s a personal failing on my part or there’s some connection. Show dumps Reigns right away and everyone else pinballs for him. He knocks over Ambrose and slams Rollins. Back to Ambrose, who gets dumped as well, leaving Rollins alone. Headbutts follows, and out goes Rollins too – then a spear to Reigns. Rollins’s leg isn’t the best again. Ambrose tries a sleeper, but Show shrugs him off to the mat. Rollins fires in, only to get another headbutt. Two minutes in and Show hasn’t sold yet. Show steps on Rollins and leaves him winded on the outside. Clotheslines to Ambrose follow, then an avalanche and shoulderblock. Chokeslam looks to finish, but Rollins clips Show and Ambrose and Rollins double-team. Flying knee by Rollins gets two for Ambrose. Double suplex try by Ambrose/Rollins gets reversed (of course it does), and Reigns returns to spear Show after being out of most of the match. The politics of this match is so thick. Shield tries the triplebomb, and amazingly, it works for the pin at 4:32. Meh. [b]1/4*[/b] I’m allowed to read too much into at least one match, right? – CM Punk is out at the top of the hour. Punk talks about how personal Heyman’s talk is, and then he gets mad at a fan at ringside because he’s in a REALLY bad mood. Yeah, after the Orton thing, does this strike ANYONE as smart? Punk knows Heyman needs an apology, and given everything Heyman is promising him, Punk calls Heyman out. Heyman arrives with Curtis Axel to listen. Punk says wrestling is all he knows, and he’s still standing against doctor’s orders. Punk is sorry… that he went after Heyman instead of beating Brock. He’s sorry Heyman’s arm isn’t a trophy. Punk wants to murder Heyman, but says so in many more words. This feud IS NOT OVER, and he wants Heyman RIGHT DAMN NOW. Right about now I hope that guy at ringside is a plant. Heyman apologizes instead… for what’s about to happen. Punk/Axel appears to be next as Heyman says “I’m not that fat guy sitting in the front row”. C’mon, he’s GOTTA be a plant! If Punk’s still there after the break, there will be a fight. And Heyman keeps talking. Slowly. Enunciating every syllable. As we go to break. – Quick thought as we wait for the fight: if the guy HAD jumped the railing to go after Punk, security would have stopped him short and Punk would have continued as if nothing happened. Punk was looking like a tough guy while KNOWING he’d never have to back it up. Just assume he was booing Heyman next time, Punk. – Yup, Punk’s still there. Fight time. – Non-sanctioned: CM Punk v. Curtis Axel. And I use “versus” loosely. Punk jumps Axel and drives in the knees before bouncing him off the chair Punk was sitting on. Chair shot follows and Axel is dumped. Axel goes to the gut to slow Punk down, then takes over with CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY. I should note they’re staying away from the fat guy. Axel sends Punk into the timekeeper’s barricade. Heyman is giddy. Until Punk dumps Axel into Justin Roberts’ lap and goes for Heyman. Punk dives into Axel and uses a briefcase to hurt him more rather than attack Heyman. Ring bell to Axel’s gut follows. Back in, and Punk glares at Heyman before lifting Axel, but Axel clips Punk and works the leg. Chair to the back of the knee follows. It’s Pillman time. Neckbreaker cutter finishes Punk off. Now THAT’S how you make Axel a top-flight heel. Wait, no, NOW it’s Pillman time. Axel from the second rope, but he misses. Punk fires back and with one leg goes to work with the chair. Now they’re in front of the side the rogue fan was, so that was just improv. Punk with GTS on Axel on the stairs. So much for making him top-flight. Opportunity wasted. HUGE staredown as Punk’s music plays. – R-Truth v. Bray Wyatt. Why would you light a lantern just to blow it out? And did anyone think the Greek philosopher Diogenes would be that ugly? And while I’m thinking about it: you realize Wyatt is only 25? Wyatt throws Truth into the corner, but Truth fires back. Wyatt reverses, Truth reverses, and Truth fires away with a spin kick. Harper gets sent flying, but Wyatt tackles down Truth and spends time preaching rather than wrestling. An upside-down wait in the corner leads to an avalanche. Sister Abigail finishes at 1:37. Just a squash. – Oh, dear god, they ARE turning Primo and Epico into matadors! With masks, but still. I don’t see this getting over. – 3MB v. The Usos. Interesting note that only I care about: depending on the day of the week, the Usos’ combined weight fluctuates by as much as 25 pounds, but it’s always an odd number for identical twins. It’s Slater and Mahal for 3MB. Slater shows off to start, and he and the Uso exchange waistlocks. Jey brings Jimmy in, and the double-teaming begins. It gets one. Big chop on Slater. Jimmy follows with a spinning elbow and Slater bails. McIntyre kicks Jimmy to give 3MB control. Mahal beats on Jimmy as he gets in. Swinging neckbreaker follows. More pounding gets two, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK. Slater with a jumping leg kick for two. Slater stomps away as this heat segment goes on. Slater slugs Jimmy down for two as they mention his Golden Gloves experience. Back to the CHINLOCK, BABEE! Dueling chants from the crowd, to the point the announcers have to mention it. Jimmy knocks Slater down and brings in Jey. Jey knocks over Mahal, and gets a kneeling thrust and diving shoulder. Corner hip charge follows, getting two. Slater gets kicked into McIntyre, and Mahal gets nailed with a superkick. Fantastic spot as Jey tags Jimmy IN THE PROCESS OF DIVING onto Slater and McIntyre! Jimmy finishes Mahal with a Superfly splash at 5:24. Nothing wrong with this match – but the crowd wasn’t too thrilled. [b]*3/4[/b] – The Miz v. Wade Barrett. So last night Miz beat up Fandango. We need you to know this. Lawler mocks Barrett’s ears because why not. Barrett with a headlock to start, then a shoulder tackle, but Miz gets a flapjack. His corner clothesline follows. Miz leaps over Barrett, allowing a big boot for two. Barrett chokes Miz on the second rope and brings the knees to the face and another big boot. Barrett with a Cactus elbow, getting two. We HIT THE CHINLOCK (again?) as I wonder if Orton trains people now. Barrett tosses Miz to the apron, where he slides in and rolls Barrett up for two. Big elbow from Barrett, who works in the corner and gets a snapmare for one. Back to the chinlock. Crowd is on Barrett’s side right now. Makes sense – Barrett doesn’t exactly act evil. Miz with a jawbreaker. He ducks a clothesline and does a flying forearm and kneelift. Miz to the clothesline, catching a kick attempt, then works the leg of Barrett. Figure-four is blocked. Barrett puts Miz on top, allowing Miz a sunset flip attempt into a figure-four, but Fandango breaks it up from the top for the DQ at4:52. This is how you start a new feud. And Fandangoing is back. [b]*1/4[/b] There’s a lot of resetting here. Nothing wrong with that. – Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan snuck back in. – Main event blah blah blah: The McMahons have the entire roster on the stage. However, someone remembers that Bryan hid in the roster last time, so Shield stand between the roster and the ring. Vince is proud of his family and proud of Orton. HHH did the right thing. And now, HHH gets to talk. Guys, it’s 10:56, he can barely clear his throat. Time for the big villain explanation: it’s about the big picture. He did it for the future of the WWE, and for the McMahon family, and… LONG story short, Orton had to win the title or WWE would go belly-up. Hey, he even likes Bryan – wow, HHH is putting Bryan over. I’m impressed. But it doesn’t change the fact that Bryan shouldn’t be champion. Apparently, we fans deserve better – even if the fans clearly don’t WANT better. This is bizarre – I’m surprised Stephanie buries Bryan and HHH doesn’t. It’s kind of backwards from how they usually do it. I will say that HHH is doing a good job as bad boss. He’s learned from the Summer of Punk misfire. BUT, he didn’t WANT to hurt Bryan. He’s not a bad person, of course. Geez, even now he can’t be pure evil. He even admits he doesn’t like Orton. I like shoot comments that aren’t meant to be shoot comments. HHH says it’s not about him… as this segment that’s supposed to be about Orton has had him talking for six minutes. Now the crowd’s getting sick and chanting for Daniel Bryan. Orton is FINALLY brought out at 11:03… and in a bit of a misfire, he has to walk through the roster. But nothing happens. Honestly, that would’ve been a hell of a twist. Commentary finally points out: nothing wrong with Orton being champ. Lawler: “HHH was more responsible for it than Randy Orton!” Me: “AND THAT’S WHERE THINGS WENT WRONG!” Anyway, Orton gets to talk now. Orton says no one saw it coming, just like he said, even though I’m sure we all predicted it would happen at SummerSlam. Orton to HHH: “I owe all of this to you.” Gag me. Sorry, I’m trying to be objective here, I really am. Now to discuss Daniel Bryan wherever he is – he has a chance to come to the ring and talk it out. You know, while going through all the McMahons, Orton, and Shield. Oh, HHH moves Shield out of the way. But still no Bryan. They even co-opt the Yes chant to bring Bryan out. But still no Bryan. Wait, here he is, from the side. And he’s FURIOUS. And Shield jumps him from the side… only the third main eventer is too many, and Bryan fights through them. Barely. Ambrose and Rollins are down in the aisleway, but not Reigns as I predict a spear. Yup, there it is. Of course. Shield beating continues. HHH stops them before they can do the triplebomb, though, and NOW he’s allowed in the ring. HHH patronizingly encourages Bryan into the ring, and into an RKO. The Corporation stands tall, end of show. FINAL THOUGHTS: I just feel like there were a few missed opportunities here. Part of it may be the heel dominance of the end segment, but it’s not just that – Axel could have been something bigger and wasn’t. Rhodes is a future star, and I wonder if WWE regrets Sandow as briefcase holder. Night of Champions is up next, so the titles ought to be a bigger focus. But there’s one big issue with that. The WWE title is your biggest title. Right now, it’s held by a lapdog. I hated this idea as a teenager in the Attitude Era; I hated it when Russo’s boys held the belts in WCW 2000; and I hate it now. It’s why I don’t like the Orton coronation: it was about the McMahons. They’re trying to recapture lightning in a bottle with Bryan as Austin, but they’re different people and they work in different ways. Look, this story would involve the same people if the McMahons never showed up. Orton would still have cashed in, the hearts of millions still would’ve been ripped out, and the villain/underdog dynamic would still exist. But the heat would be on Orton, who is in the ring and is a wrestler, and not on the McMahons, who are old, retired, and female (in some order). And given what happened in 2011, even if Bryan gets his hands on HHH, do you think the right thing will happen? They had a chance to make the show about the wrestlers. They failed. And that annoys me. STATS: MATCH TIME: 41:03 over 9 matches.
WORST: Divas tag
NIGHT MVP (kayfabe): Roman Reigns FINAL SCORE: 5.5 – The main events for the next PPV were set up, which is always good. However, authority figures getting all the heat is bad. Call it a wash. Hope to see you next week!