Brock Lesnar lays a brutal beating on CM Punk.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Mr. McMahon Attempted to Give Daniel Bryan His "Corporate Makeover"
While everyone involved played their roles well and there was not necessarily wrong with the segment, I'm simply not for the idea of the McMahons getting involved in the WWE Championship match at SummerSlam. Bryan's promo was strong and was pure proof that he's completely capable of holding his own in a feud against John Cena. Wade Barrett's fatal fall down the WWE ladder continued here, as he had half of his beard shaven off at the hands of Bryan. Couldn't Cody Rhodes interfere instead in order to get his mustache shaven off?
Rob Van Dam def. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio (Non-title)
I expected more from these two, but it certainly better than their initial encounter from two weeks ago. That being said, this was a fun bout while for the few minutes that it lasted. Del Rio losing yet another non-title match doesn't help his credibility as world champion, but his loss made sense here. RVD needed a big win after coming up short in recent weeks on SmackDown, and it facilitated Del Rio's attack on Ricardo Rodriguez. I wasn't high on the idea of Rodriguez rejoining Del Rio upon his return from suspension, so I like the idea of splitting the two up. It put good heat on Del Rio while making Rodriguez as the sympathetic babyface that he should be.
Cody Rhodes Called Out Damien Sandow
Rhodes was simple yet effective and was necessary considering the fact this feud hasn't had much time to shine on Raw. Sandow's promo was also solid and helped further the feud between the two. It's great to see the match confirmed for SummerSlam, as the rivalry thus far has been well done.
Mark Henry def. Ryback by Count-out
I liked the fact that it hyped as a WrestleMania rematch seeing how they haven't crossed paths since WrestleMania, but what was the point of this match? It barely got out of first gear before it ultimately ended in a count-out. It helped Ryback garner heat, but not the kind of heat he should be getting. I was hoping The Shield would show up, but no such luck. WWE has really lost their way with Ryback's heel turn and I hope they don't handle Henry's face turn the same way.
WWE Champion John Cena Addressed the WWE Universe
Cena's promos when he's in serious mode are extremely effective and always engage the audience. Hell, he even turned the crowd's chants ("You Can't Wrestle", for instance) against them during the course of his promo. He put over Bryan in a big way while also enforcing the fact that he's not backing down come SummerSlam. Randy Orton's promo was also great and was a nice way of reintroducing him back on Raw after being absent for three weeks. He made note of the fact that he's still able to cash in his Money in the Bank at any time of his choosing, foreshadowing a potential cash-in at SummerSlam in the process. The Shield's interruption of the promo was a pleasant surprise given the fact they haven't been featured in a top-tier story-line in some time. Daniel Bryan making the save was a logical way of setting up the main event match for later in the night.
Luke Harper and Erik Rowan def. Tons of Funk
This is essentially what we saw on SmackDown two weeks ago, so the match was nothing out of the ordinary. It helped assert The Wyatt Family's destructive dominance and led into another awesome promo from Bryat Wyatt. Kane had some good mic work as well and made his match official with Wyatt for SummerSlam. I'm assuming that a Ring of Fire match is basically an Inferno match, but either way, it's a fresh stipulation that we haven't seen in ages.
Layla def. Kaitlyn
The crowd was dead throughout most of the show, but they were understandably quiet for Layla's entrance. She turned heel a mere three days before Raw, so the audience had no incentive to boo her, especially considering the fact the crowd didn't care for her prior to her heel turn. The match was fine for what it was, but it appears that the AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn feud is far from over. However, I'm interested to see where Layla fits into all of this.
Christian def. Heath Slater
How do you not give your No. 1 contender to the World Heavyweight Championship an entrance? Aside from that, this was a basic squash match that saw both competitors come of it looking good. I didn't expect the commentators to acknowledge this, but it's worth noting that this is the first time these two have gone one-on-one since their days on NXT together. The world title match was hardly hyped at all on this show, which is a true shame since it has a the potential to be much bigger than it's being built up to be.
CM Punk vs. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel Went to a No Contest (Non-title)
While it was a good match, the "This is awesome" chants were far from necessary. Then again, this crowd was all over the place on this show, so I shouldn't be surprised. Anyway, the focus was once again primarily on Punk trying to get his hands on Paul Heyman only to come up short. Punk and Brock Lesnar had another incredibly intense brawl that has me highly anticipating their pending pay-per-view match. Everything about this feud has been brilliantly booked thus far and I look forward to what Heyman has in store for his fight with Punk next week on Raw.
Kofi Kingston def. Fandango
With this crowd being as bad as it was, Kingston's return unfortunately fell flat. I said a number of months ago that I hoped to see Kingston return with an innovative new gimmick, but he failed to change anything about himself except for his attire. He failed to feel fresh, but it's still good to see him back. The only question is now what he'll be doing going forward and if he'll be continued to be wasted as a talent. As for Fandango, he's had a number of well wrestled matches in recent weeks, but he's another guy who WWE Creative doesn't seem to have anything for at the moment, which is disappointing considering how aggressively he was pushed earlier this year.
The Real Americans def. The Usos
This was a well wrestled match, but it didn't have much meaning behind it. I want both teams to succeed (as well as the division as a whole), but seeing The Usos go from feuding with The Shield to losing to Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger is a bit of a letdown. I doubt we'll be seeing The Real Americans chase the tag team titles anytime soon, but I guess only time will tell.
Big E Langston def. Dolph Ziggler
The match was almost as short as their initial encounter from last week, and once again it was nothing out of the ordinary. That being said, I'm actually somewhat glad we're not getting this match at SummerSlam. A mixed tag team match involving AJ Lee and Kaitlyn is the best way to go for SummerSlam and the only thing left to do is to confirm it for the card. Speaking of AJ and Kaitlyn, how did their interference in this match not result in a disqualification? It was a good win for Langston, but despite being a former World Heavyweight Champion, Ziggler hasn't had much credibility as a competitor as of late.
WWE Champion John Cena, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan def. The Shield by Disqualification
This match felt more monumental on paper, as it didn't even get out of first gear before it abruptly ended in disqualification. However, I will say that everyone involved put forth a strong effort and did their best to make the most out of the small amount of time they were allotted. The post-match happenings with The Shield attacking Cena and Bryan were much more memorable than the actual match. Orton attempting to cash-in on a downed Cena was intriguing and may be setting up something for SummerSlam. It was a nice cliff hanger to what was rather a forgettable show.
The built for the top two main event matches at SummerSlam (Cena vs. Bryan and Punk vs. Lesnar) have been very well done, but the rest of the card has left a lot to be desired. The world title match received little to no attention on this show, but it's good to see Sandow vs. Rhodes and Wyatt vs. Kane finally confirmed for the event. It's shaping up to be a must-see pay-per-view on paper, so I'm hoping the build is kicked into high gear next week. As for this week's Raw, it felt like Creative was going through the motions, as nothing in particular stood out about this show. The Superstar just recently got back from the world tour, so I can understand why they might have been burned out and why none of the matches went as long as they usual do. This is in addition to the fact that the crowd on this show was beyond terrible and was dead for most of the matches and segments throughout the night.