We get a recap of the main event from last week. Big Show faced John Cena to determine the new #1 Contender to CM Punk’s title. Show threw Cena into the announce position and CM Punk. Punk interfered, which led to a disqualification finish. Afterward, Punk said both men were losers. AJ turned the tables though, and set up a triple threat match for SummerSlam between Cena, Punk, and Big Show.
We get the new Raw intro and pyro in the arena. Cole welcomes us and tells us that we’re two weeks from SummerSlam and we’re live in the AT&T Arena in San Antonio, TX. Justin Roberts wastes no time to bring AJ Lee to the ring as our GM. Her music plays and she skips to the ring in a white pantsuit.
She welcomes us to Raw and says she’s out to announce some blockbuster matches. Big Show will face Randy Orton. Her ex-fiancee, Daniel Bryan, will face John Cena – a ‘first time ever on Raw’ match. She goes for the third match, but here comes CM Punk. She gives a look of disdain up the ramp as Punk gets a rather rousing ovation.
King says it’s an understatement to say he got off on the wrong foot with AJ. Cole says that Punk told us the WWE Champion deserves to be in the spotlight, and hence he does. Punk says he’s a man who lives with zero regrets and is man enough to know he made a mistake. He also knows when to right a wrong and he did something last week he wishes he could take back. He said he lost his temper and he’s there to apologize to AJ. He says the GM should not be respected, just as him in his position of power as champion should not be. He says he’s sorry.
AJ simply says she accepts and Punk thanks her. He wants to continue as friends and says she’s bound to fall on her face like she did by booking the triple threat match. Punk asks for the triple threat to be cancelled. The fans chant “no!” AJ says she will make mistakes and the triple threat was not one of them – her decision stands.
Punk asks if this is for humiliating her when she asked him to marry her. AJ asks that she not become the evil GM, sticking it to the guy everyone likes. He says he isn’t opposed to wrestling either guy in a singles match or even facing a new opponent. He wants to move on but here comes John Cena.
Cena accuses Punk of becoming “one of those guys” and mocks him for demanding respect week after week. Cena tells him respect is earned, not demanded. Dueling Cena chants get started and he holds the mic up to acknowledge them.
Cena reminds Punk that he has 11 championships and has to earn the fans’ respect every night. Cena tells Punk that he was looking good in his match with Big Show until Punk stuck his nose in it. Cena reminds Punk that he was the guy who got involved in the #1 Contender match and created the triple threat. Cena takes a moment to compliment AJ and shake her hand.
Punk tells Cena that his involvement is because Cena laid his hands on him. Punk says it wasn’t him that went over the top rope but instead it was Cena going across the announce position and hitting him. Punk reminds us that he is still the WWE Champion and won’t be disrespected by anyone. Besides, Punk says he did Cena a favor because Cena may have lifted the Big Show but wasn’t going to be able to AA him.
Cena reminds Punk that the champion doesn’t always do very well in triple threat matches. Cena tells Punk he may not be the champion after SummerSlam. The two of them keep bickering until Big Show’s music hits. AJ demands all of this stop.
Big Show stops on the ramp as AJ says she won’t let things get out of control on her show. She tells Cena and Show to save their aggression for their matches. Punk complains that both #1 Contenders have matches, but he doesn’t and he should be in the main event.
AJ smiles and says Punk will have a match tonight. He asks who he will be facing and she says she doesn’t know. Punk smirks. AJ tells him that the fans will decide. The options are The Miz, Kane, and Rey Mysterio. Voting starts right away, as the match will be next.
A decent opening segment that highlights the three men involved in the WWE Championship picture and puts them all in fairly high-profile matches. WWE will not be able to get away with this booking over the long-term though.
They set up a video package of Triple H and Brock Lesnar’s story and hype up their appearance later on in the show before they go to break.
After the break, Jerry Lawler gives us the results of the voting. Rey Mysterio wins the fan vote with 47 percent and he will face CM Punk now.
Given the fan reaction in the arena, this seemed to be the result that was expected. Still not feeling the love on this "interactive" thing yet, like it's that they lead the fans in the way they want it to turn out.
Match #1 – Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk ©, Non-title match
Cole talks about Punk’s title reign and how long he’s held the belt. Punk counters Mysterio’s attempt at a head scissor with a backbreaker. Mysterio hits a split legged dive on Punk outside the ring as the match goes to break.
After commercial, the announcers recap action during the break, which included Punk cutting off Mysterio’s attempt at a 619. Mysterio goes on offense and is able to hit a 619. He tries to go up top for the frog splash, but Punk gets his knees up. That opens up the opportunity for Punk to hit the GTS and get the win.
Afterward, the announcers hype up Show vs. Orton and Cena vs. Bryan both to come up later tonight.
Alberto Del Rio arrives in a black Ferarri. He backs the car into his own personal space. Ricardo addresses him in Spanish, but Del Rio shoves him and says “let’s go…”
After commercial they give us a video package featuring Wade Barrett. They use an “fight-club” like setting and he says “I am Wade Barrett, and my barrage has just begun…”
I am excited for a Barrett return, but without the "barrage" stuff. Feels cheap to me.
Alberto Del Rio greets AJ, and tells her they both know he shouldn’t have to compete on Raw until SummerSlam. She tells him she doesn’t have him scheduled for anything tonight and goes to exit. “And you thought she would do something crazy…” Del Rio tells Ricardo, which makes AJ re-enter the frame. She gets hot and says ‘what did you say?’ to Del Rio. She books him in the next match but doesn’t tell him who the opponent is. Del Rio shoves Ricardo and demands he go find Del Rio’s gear.
Cole and Lawler hype up an appearance by Shawn Michaels later in the show.
Match #2 – Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodruigez) vs. Christian (Intercontinental Champion)
Christian is already in the ring after the break, and Del Rio gets his intro, sans car. Del Rio goes after the arm early on to set up for his cross arm breaker. Lawler points out Booker T being named GM of Smackdown. Christian gets some offense in, but Del Rio goes back to working on the arm. Cole points out that Christian had a shoulder injury.
Christian sets up for the spear, but Del Rio counters that with a kick. Christian gets back in control again, but Ricardo runs a distraction. The referee turns attention to Ricardo, which allows Del Rio to use his boot as a weapon. He cracks Christian across the head with it then applies the cross arm breaker for the win.
After the match, Sheamus appears on the Tron. He says that he took Del Rio’s advice to heart and is going to class up his act, starting by what he drives. He’s standing with Del Rio’s car. He tells Ricky Ricardo to not leave the keys in it the next time he goes to get Del Rio’s gear. Sheamus jumps in and starts it, saying he feels classier already. He says he’s going for a tour around San Antonio and drives off.
Match #3 – Randy Orton vs. Big Show
Orton makes his entrance first and the cameras point out some of the attractive women in specific cheering for him. Show makes his entrance next while Lawler hypes the 8PM EST start time.
Show controls the match early on. He mocks Orton, yelling “you’re in over your head!” and saying “too easy!” as Orton struggles to his feet. Orton works some offense and gets Show down. He hits the Viper pose and teases the RKO but Show is able to counter and hit a chokeslam for a near fall.
Show keeps working over Orton and teases a second chokeslam. Orton kicks Show a couple times but ends up getting tossed to ringside. Show goes out after Orton and slaps him in the chest at the announce position. Show tries to pick Orton up, but he slips away and throws Show into the post.
Show comes back from that and hits a spear. The official, though, was counting the whole time and the match ends with a double count out. Afterward, Show tries to get the WMD punch, but instead ends up eating the RKO from Orton.
This protects a returning Orton and I know they were trying to make Show look strong here with him getting in so much offense. I am not a fan of Orton standing over one of the challengers for the WWE Championship in two weeks though.
After the match the announcers hype up Brock Lesnar and Triple H being in the building with some video from their exchange on Raw 1000. They also hype up Shawn Michaels’ appearance.
Match #4 – Ryback vs. Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins; Handicap match
Reks and Hawkins are already in the ring. Ryback comes out and they give a good closeup on his eyes, with one being red from an apparent injury. They air a picture in picture interview where Ryback says his hunger consumes him and he is never satisfied. He welcomes Reks and Hawkins to the food chain.
The Hawkins and Reks team gets in a little offense, but Ryback eventually bounces back and destroys them both. He hits his finisher on Hawkins for the clean win. He gets a modest “feed me more” chant going afterward.
King and Cole hype up Cena vs. Bryan for later.
Match #5 – The Prime Time Players (w/AW) vs. Primo and Epico
AW gives a modest intro of the PTP with his headset. The action is back and forth in the early going, with AW complimenting Young at one point by saying “he’s like Mother Teresa, he can do no wrong” to which King says “that’s better.”
Epico and Primo start to get the better of the PTP and AW goes to for a count-out win. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth appear, and Epico and Primo take advantage. They throw Titus to the ring post, then Epico hits the Backstabber on Young for the win.
They air highlights of DX attacking Damien Sandow on Raw 1000, then Sandow attacking Brodus Clay last week. Josh Matthews interviews Sandow after that package. Sandow ridicules the dancing routine of Brodus Clay and says he will dispose of Clay “for the betterment of everyone.” He says “you’re welcome” as the interview concludes.
Match #6 – Brodus Clay (w/Cameron and Naomi) vs. Damien Sandow
Brodus starts his dancing entrance, but Sandow attacks with a chop block from behind. Clay fights back, but Sandow comes back and attacks Clay’s bad knee. Sandow keeps up the offense on that knee until officials break it up. Sandow taunts and says “you brought it on yourself, Brodus” as officials tend to Clay. The match never got started.
AJ is shown sitting with Daniel Bryan. She tells him that the doctor may have ruled him sane, but it doesn’t change the fact that Bryan has anger management issues. Bryan says it might have something to do with her leaving him at the altar. He says he’s calm now and he agrees with her choice to have him face John Cena tonight. He says that after he wins, she’ll have to change the triple threat match to a fatal four way. She tells him he already has a match at Summerslam – against Kane. They volley back and forth with “yes” and “no”.
The announcers talk about Sheamus driving around San Antonio with Alberto Del Rio’s car. Cole claims Sheamus stole it, but King says he’s just borrowing it.
Match #7 – Kelly Kelly vs. Eve Torres
The announcers hype up Kelly’s return, but the reaction is very lukewarm. The two women battle to the ringside area where Kelly runs Eve into the security barrier. The announcers say Kelly has a chip on her shoulder.
Kelly hits a cross-body block to get a near fall, then tries a head scissor in the corner. Eve slams her face first to the mat though. The finish comes when Kelly uses a head scissor and turns it into a roll-up to get the clean win.
Kelly got only a modest reaction and her return doesn't feel like an event.
The announcers recap Sheamus driving off with Del Rio’s car.
Justin Roberts introduces Shawn Michaels as “WWE Hall of Famer and San Antonio’s own”. Michaels comes out to a strong reaction. He gets the normal pyro treatment and he dances his way around the ring. Cole and Lawler are even standing and applauding.
The fans chant “HBK” for him once the music starts. He jokes he’s not in shape for this and thanks the fans. He quotes the history made at Raw 1000 and the reuniting of DX.
Michaels says he’s normally content to watch the world go by from his ranch, but he didn’t want to miss Raw from San Antonio. He says there are familiar faces and some he doesn’t know. They’re all talking about the confrontation between Brock Lesnar and Triple H at Summer Slam. Everyone is asking for his opinion. He’s interrupted by Brock Lesnar’s intro music.
Lesnar and Paul Heyman make their way to the ring as the show starts its third hour. Heyman tells Shawn they should be asking HBK’s opinion because he is the greatest entertainer in the history of WWE. Heyman says that he and Lesnar would seek out his opinion also, but not on this match.
Heyman tells Shawn that Lesnar is not going to SummerSlam to entertain. He says that Lesnar is going to SummerSlam to fight Triple H and prove he is the baddest dude on the planet. Lesnar glares at Michaels but says nothing. He looks at the fans briefly when the “HBK” chants start.
Michaels says he isn’t disputing Lesnar’s attributes. Heyman jumps in and says “Exactly, he said it…”. Michaels tells Heyman to not put words in his mouth. HBK says that at any other time, Lesnar is the man. However, they went somewhere they shouldn’t have gone with Triple H, having made it personal by bringing in the wife and kids to this situation. He doesn’t even recognize Trips anymore.
Michaels says he will give his opinion even though it wasn’t asked for. “On this day, I am going with Triple H.” Michaels says he believes it to his core and so much so that he wants to see it personally. He announces that he will be in Triple H’s corner at SummerSlam to watch Triple H beat Brock Lesnar.
Heyman tells Lesnar that was the big announcement, and that’s the moment that they will play over and over when they look back at Triple H’s career. Heyman says Michaels got to leave on his own terms, but Lesnar won’t give Triple H that option.
Lesnar takes the mic and says the only reason HBK thinks Trips can win is because HBK has never been in the ring with Lesnar, until now. He approaches Michaels, but Triple H’s music hits. Trips comes to the ring and joins HBK in the ring. Lesnar laughs and teases leaving the ring. He gets back in the ring and says “I’ll see you at SummerSlam” then tells HBK he will see him before then. Lesnar and Heyman leave together.
A strong segment that adds a little to the SummerSlam match and a hook for the rest of the show to see if Lesnar does indeed get his hooks into HBK.
The announcers go back to the story of the night – Sheamus being out and about with Del Rio’s car. They show a tout from Sheamus at the Alamo, and he sings a bar from “Deep in the Heart of Texas” for Del Rio.
Match #8 – Alex Riley vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guererro)
Riley is in the ring without an entrance. The announce team is joined by Chris Jericho, who is wearing one of Dolph Ziggler’s T-shirts. He claims he found it in the garbage and didn’t know it was Dolph’s shirt. Vickie does her “excuse me” bit and announces Dolph.
Ziggler works some offense then stops to taunt Jericho. Jericho says Dolph is easily distracted and is taking his eye off the ball. He says that Riley was in the corner of The Miz at Wrestlemania. Jericho admits Ziggler is the future, but Jericho says we are the here and now.
Ziggler works some more offense and taunts Jericho again. Jericho decides to climb up on the announce table and films a Tout video. Dolph keeps talking, and Riley rolls him up for the surprise win.
Jericho did a nice job of using his commentary role to set up the surprise finish. Even got a good social media plug in without being overbearing with it.
The announcers talk about a tweet that AJ just put out, saying that Kane and Miz may have lost the voting to face Punk, but they would compete on Raw tonight, against each other.
King and Cole talk about Sheamus taking off with Del Rio’s car again. Lawler says he only borrowed it for the night. They show another Tout by Sheamus, who was spilling food on the floor.
Match #9 – The Miz (Intercontinental Champion) vs. Kane
Kane controls the early going. Miz teases going for his finisher about 3 minutes in, but Kane counters. Kane hits a chokeslam to finish Miz off.
The announcers give us some hype for Cena vs. Bryan as the main event.
They show Sheamus returning with Del Rio’s car. It’s all covered in garbage and smoking. Sheamus apologized for the smell in the car, but he says that Mexican food goes right through him. He walks away.
Daniel Bryan makes his entrance for the main event. He gets “yes” chants from the fans but he plays up freaking out and screaming “no” at the fans and tearing up a sign.
They cut backstage, where Del Rio finds his car. He grabs Ricardo by the collar and blames him for what happened, then orders him to clean the car up. Del Rio stomps off and Ricardo starts to pick at the debris on the car.
We get an ad for Smackdown hyping the return of the Highlight Reel this week, where Jericho will host Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guererro.
Bryan is holding his ears in the ring as the fans chant “yes” at him. The announcers talk about Tom Arnold being on Twitter and tweeting about tonight’s Raw show and give him a quick movie plug.
Match #10 – John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan
Cena makes his entrance, saying something that can’t be made out into the camera. The announcers recap footage from last week with AJ setting up the triple threat title match at SummerSlam.
We get a different form of dueling chants for Cena tonight – between “Let’s go Cena” and “CM Punk”. Bryan yelled it’s all about him and screams “no, no, no” at the fans. Cole tells us Bryan changed the name of his finisher to the “No Lock” . Cena gets some offense in early. Bryan hits a flying knee off the apron to Cena. Bryan engages in a “yes” “no” exchange with some fans in referee shirts as the show goes to break.
After commercial, Bryan remains in control. He hits a nice running dropkick in the corner.
Cena makes a brief comeback, then Bryan shuts him down and keeps control of the match.
Bryan is able to hit a top rope headbutt as we cross the 11PM hour. Cole gives us a show reset. Cena locks on the STF and Bryan teases tapping out but he’s able to counter. He tries to get the No Lock on but Cena is able to counter and hit the Attitude Adjustment for the win. The announcers rave about the match and thank AJ for giving us a great main event.
CM Punk’s music hits and he comes straight to the ring. He stands face to face with Cena and holds the belt up high and they exchange words. Cena shoves Punk to the side, and the camera shows Big Show running to the ring. Cena and Show exchange hands, with Cena getting the better of him. Cena tries the AA, but Punk hits Cena from behind again.
Punk stomps to ringside and puts on a headset. He admits it might be his fault he’s in a triple threat match and that he’s disrespected. He’s been shaking hands and kissing babies, letting people walk all over him and disrespect him.
Punk points to the two men in the ring and says from here on out, he will do what he does best. He says Raw ends the same way two weeks in a row, with him standing tall with the WWE Championship, which proves he is the best wrestler in the world. Anyone who gets in the way will be laying on the mat just like Show and Cena are.
Punk goes back to the ring and attempts to hit a roundhouse kick on Show, but Show catches his leg. Show hits the WMD punch on Punk and knocks him out, then hits the punch again on Cena who had just gotten to his feet.
Show holds the title belt up high then puts it over his shoulder as he looks at Punk and Cena laid out. That’s how it ends.
Punk is clearly setting himself apart as a heel now after this. He could go for the promo that tries to alienate fans from cheering for him, but some of those might cheer him all the same. Interesting challenge for a guy who works the mic as well as Punk does.
All in all, this was a good three hour program, but they had to give three matches that were essentially pay per view matches to do it. This isn't a formula that I think will be good long term for WWE if they do it every single week.
I expected more from the HBK/Lesnar interaction but perhaps they're saving that one for next week.
I will have more to say on tonight's show in Raw Afterthoughts sometime later tomorrow afternoon. Join us again next week for more Raw coverage at 8PM EST.