The show kicks off with John Cena hitting the ring and demanding that The Animal join him. There were two things that I really disliked about this opening segment that killed off any positive effect it could have had. Number one, Cena admitted that by having him and Batista in the ring together nothing else would be needed to hype their match this week at Summerslam. So did that segment between the two of them raise anymore fan interest in their match? It didn’t for me. Secondly, Cena was screaming and babbling about winning the fans over for years during his matches and going to war with a “nation” behind him, while in the meantime 75% of the live crowd was booing him out of the building. I, and I don’t think I’m alone here, am getting pretty sick and tired of Cena’s inspirational, “I battle for the people with the people” speeches week in and week out. This opening segment was a waste of time in my opinion.
Back from commercial break and it’s time for our opening contest of the evening, Beth Phoenix vs Kelly Kelly. This was a short, decent match that saw Beth pick up the win after hitting the face plant. What happened to the muscle buster type move she used to use? I liked that much better. Following the match, Kofi Kingston and Mickie James hit the ring and Santino challenged Mickie to a match in her hometown of Richmond. She accepted and we were shortly underway with Santino vs Mickie James. This match was ridiculous. How is anyone expected to believe that Santino and Beth are capable of beating Kofi and Mickie at Summerslam if Santino can hardly beat Mickie on his own? He needed help from Beth Phoenix just to score a roll-up victory! If Mickie and Kofi do not win this Sunday, then not only will WWE be making a big mistake by taking the IC title off of Kingston too early, but they will also successfully make him and Mickie look like two of the weakest individuals on the Raw brand. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give this entire opening segment of two matches 5 stars.
Following the match we cut backstage where The Adamle is talking to The Grish, when both men are interrupted by Kane. I am not sure if this was intended to be a joke, but Adamle tells Kane that he needs to know what’s in the bag so that kid’s aren’t walking around in school with burlap bags this fall. What? Really? Huh? Did I miss something about kids taking fashion advice from Kane and substituting their Trapper Keeper’s for burlap bags? Adamle then announced that a Summerslam caliber match would be featured on Raw later in the night when Kane goes one-on-one with Chris Jericho. Looking ahead, theoretically it would have been a PPV caliber match if it went longer than 4 minutes.
Back from break and we head to the lock room where Rhodes and DiBiase discuss their rematch. The material written for them last night was weak, and they did the best they could with it, but in the end it seemed to drag on too long and never really make a concrete point.
We now head back to the ring for our next useless match of the evening, Cryme Tyme vs The Highlanders. Did creative forget this was the “go-home” show heading into Summerslam? What was this match doing here? Does it make any sense to have The Highlanders, a team we haven’t seen on TV in ages, appear on a Raw broadcast the week before a major PPV? The match itself was short and on the whole a bunch of nonsense. 4 Stars.
Next up was the special challenge that JBL had for World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk. I liked this segment. I initially thought it was going to be a beer drinking contest, so I was surprised to see JBL kick it up a notch with the 5th of Jack. He challenged the straight-edged Punk to have a drink with him, and told him that if he couldn’t put his morals to bed and have one drink, then there’s no way he could beat him this Sunday at Summerslam. This bit was well written to me. Punk stood his ground and refused the drink, and instead tossed it in JBL’s face and gave him a hard knee in the corner. This segment did much more to build to their match at Summerslam than the opening segment did for Cena and Batista.
Next up is our “Summerslam Spectacular” match featuring Kane vs Chris Jericho. This match, unfortunately, was nowhere near spectacular and served only to find out what Kane had in his bag. There was hardly any emphasis on the wrestling here, and that irritated me. After a short, mostly uninteresting bout, Jericho hit the “codebreaker” and scored the pinfall. This brought Adamle to the ring who then demanded that Kane hand over the bag. I thought the GM did a really nice job delivering his speech, and as far as I remember made virtually no mistakes. I liked that Adamle knew the “alive or dead person” Kane was referring to was actually himself, because it was then more surprising to find out it was not Kane’s mask in the bag. The revelation that it was Rey Mysterio’s mask was fun, and I anticipate where this will go between both superstars. The one thing I hope WWE does not do, however, is push for Rey to return without a mask. For two reasons. One, I like him better masked, and two, he has about 2,000 of those masks, so it would make no sense for him to have to come back without one on. Just grab a different one. I give the match between Kane and Jericho 5 stars.
Back from commercial break and in singles competition it’s William Regal vs Jamie Noble. I love how creative has handled Regal’s return, as he is more focused and intense in the ring as I have ever seen him. Probably because management is allowing him to be a wrestler instead of a silly British character. The match against Noble, however, was disappointing to say the least. This was a feud that I thought had serious potential, yet was used only to further establish Noble as an apparent jobber on Raw. I hate that Cole put the match over before it began by saying “this should be a very physical battle,” only to see Noble get one piece of offense in before he was squashed. Where do either of these guys go from here? 4.5 Stars.
Back from commercial break and it’s now time for our main event of the evening, Batista and John Cena vs Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase for the tag team titles. This was a solid match, but hardly one that could be called a great main event. The match saw Batista and Cena breakdown towards the end which allowed Rhodes and DiBiase to win their titles back. I’m sure everyone was asking “why take the titles from the rookies in the first place if they’re going to get them back a week later?” I asked the same question, but fear that logic will never give me an answer. The only way Cena and Batista are going to redeem the poor booking leading up to their bout this Sunday night is if they go out there and beat the hell out of each other. They’re both capable of it, but since both guys require an opponent to bring the best out of them, they are going to have to do it themselves. 6 Stars.
Overall, this was a poor edition of Monday Night Raw, especially when you consider it was their final chance to sell Summerslam this Sunday night. There was virtually no wrestling on the show, the storytelling was half-hearted, and creative failed to build any momentum leading into the main event. Out of a possible 9 Stars, I give Monday Night Raw 4 stars.
-What’s with Santino’s uni-brow? The thing looks like a dead anchovy was stapled to his face.
-How is it that Kelly Kelly is already a better wrestler than Maria? Not that Kelly’s that great, but rather Maria is that awful.
-I think in order to save money William Regal asked Chris Harris if he could have his wrestling tights since he’ll no longer be needing them.
-The Adamle did a good job last night. Maybe I was just too preoccupied with the fact that Raw was stinking up my apartment, but I thought he handled all of his segments well.
-The hottest thing on Raw right now is the angle between Jericho and HBK. Why then would WWE neglect it as badly as they did last night?
-Is anyone else surprised that The Highlanders survived the chopping block last Friday afternoon? Actually, does anyone remember who The Highlanders are? If you do, please email me and let me know.
Thanks for reading, and as always please send any and all feedback to VOWNick@gmail.com