WWE Champion Randy Orton takes control of Christian.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Daniel Bryan Interrupted Triple H and WWE Champion Triple H
Similar to last week, HHH and Orton once again provided strong mic work as heels. Thankfully, HHH didn't dragged on as long as he did last week and kept his promo short and sweet for the most part. His chemistry with Orton has been great so far and Bryan also continues to flourish in the role he's currently in. This was a very good way of kicking off the show and establishing the main event match gave viewers something to look forward to for the rest of the night.
Cody Rhodes def. Fandango
I was surprised by the fact that Rhodes didn't receive an entrance when Fandango did, especially given the fact that WWE is trying to push Rhodes as a babyface at the moment while Fandango is doing nothing. The match was a mere minute long before being interrupted by outside interference, which subsequently led to a tag team match also involving The Miz and Damien Sandow. Speaking of Sandow, I'm glad his feud with Rhodes is set to continue, as Sandow still needs to get his win over Rhodes at some point.
Cody Rhodes and The Miz def. Damien Sandow and Fandango
After Rhdoes' match with Fandango ran a minute long, I was hoping for this match to receive much more time. Apparently, that didn't end up being the case. It's good to see that all four men have some sort of direction right now, but it's hard to care when their matches aren't given any time to shine. On a side note, Miz's dance shtick with the returning Rosa Mendes was humorous and it's nice to see Mendes back on television after a long absence.
CM Punk def. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel (Non-title)
Despite the fact that he has little to no charisma, there is no denying the fact that Axel can flat out go in the ring, and he definitely proved that here with Punk. They worked a good match. It was nothing phenomenal, but it was fun while it lasted. The post-match beat-down from Axel and Paul Heyman was excellently executed and made for a strong segment. I'm fine with Punk taking on Axel and Heyman in a two-on-one handicap elimination match at Night of Champions, but it would make more sense if Axel's Intercontinental title was also up for grabs.
Brie Bella def. Natalya
This was essentially the same match we saw at SummerSlam that the live crowd didn't at all care for. As for AJ Lee's post-match promo, wow. I know I wasn't the only one left speechless by that pipe bomb of a promo. AJ was spot on with everything she said and even received a nice pop for it, which was cool to hear. I don't know who will be next to challenge for her title, but I do know that was one of the best Divas promos I've heard in long, long time.
Rob Van Dam def. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio (Non-title)
Micheal Cole stated early on that the reason Ricardo Rodriguez joined forces with RVD because he thought they were both "cool dudes". Uhm, okay. The match itself was well wrestled, but they were obviously holding back for their title match at Night of Champions. The pairing of Rodriguez and RVD is still confusing as ever, but I can't help but think that Del Rio vs. RVD is nothing but a filler feud until Del Rio finds someone else to work with.
WWE Champion Randy Orton def. Christian (Non-title)
I always felt that Orton should have been the heel and Christian should have been the face during their feud over the course of the summer of 2011. They work much better in those roles, respectively, which was why this match was so entertaining. They've had better matches in the past, but this was still an excellent match and easily the best of the night. Orton resorting to dirty tactics to pick up the victory was brilliant, as it allows him to further his heel turn while maintaining his strong momentum. Bryan painting on Orton's new car was basically a rehash of what Kofi Kingston did back in 2009, but the crowd still seemed to get a kick out of it.
Titus O'Neil def. Jack Swagger
I've been enjoying the face turn of The Prime Time Players and it seems like they are getting over nicely with live crowds, but it's a shame the audience was practically dead for this match. Swagger hasn't meant much in a long while, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It's another nice win for The Prime Time Players, who have the potential to be a standout tandem in the tag team division as faces.
Daniel Bryan def. The Shield in a Gauntlet Match
I was hoping Bryan's Gauntlet match would receive as much time as his last one did, but no such luck. Thankfully, his match with Seth Rollins received a substantial amount of time and those two tore the house down with their tremendous chemistry. The cameras missed the finish of that particular match, but it was still fun to watch. They were obviously short on time, so it's understandable that Bryan's bouts with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns ended in disqualification and were cut short. Randy Orton's RKO on Bryan was a suspenseful cliffhanger for the show and already has me looking forward to next week.
Not everything about this show was fantastic, but I thoroughly enjoyed everything having to do with Orton, HHH and Bryan, which was obviously the main focus of this edition of Raw anyway. There thankfully wasn't an excessive amount of filler this week and WWE also managed to provide plenty of hype for Night of Champions by confirming two more matches for the card. AJ Lee's promo, Orton vs. Christian and the main event match were definitely the highlights of this show.