By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Vickie Guerrero Overruled Brad Maddox and Kane
First off, it was nice to get a night off from The Authority, who have been overexposed on WWE television for months now. Randy Orton's promo was kept short and sweet while everyone else involved in the segment played their role well. I don't usually enjoy power struggles, but Maddox can be entertaining at times and Kane is refreshing in his new role. It is asinine to think Vickie has more authority than Maddox or Kane given that she is the general manager of SmackDown, but I don't care enough to rant about it.
WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust def. WWE Champion Randy Orton in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match by Count-out
Orton dominated Goldust for most of the match only to get himself counted-out a short while later. Cody scored some offense over Orton, but the match never left first gear, unfortunately. It was also illogical to have the heel go against the odds in a handicap match, but I will make the rare exception with this bout because the Rhodes brothers work well with The Viper. Big Show's post-match attack on Orton was intense, but it still doesn't have me looking forward to the WWE title match at Survivor Series any more than I was last week.
Santino Marella and Los Matadores def. The Union Jacks
Just when you think WWE couldn't find another way to have Los Matadores and 3MB face each other, they did. The match itself was fine, but we have seen it countless times in the past that it was hard to find it enjoyable. If nothing else, the English crowd took a liking to 3MB under their new name and Santino was comical while wearing his bull horns.
Damien Sandow def. Kofi Kingston
It was a nice match for what it was worth, but it was too similar to their match from Hell in a Cell, only shorter. It was well wrestled, but essentially amounted to nothing. Kingston hasn't meant anything in ages, and Sandow should be involved in higher profile matches after his strong showing against John Cena a few weeks ago. I feared he would be booked poorly after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract unsuccessfully, but I wish I had been wrong.
Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel def. Dolph Ziggler
These two worked a much better match than they did last week and the live crowd was into the action. Granted, the electric English audience had been hot all night night, but they got this viewer engaged in the action despite the lack of story behind the bout. The finish was well done and it was a nice, clean win for Axel. Axel didn't receive any reaction upon entering, but he did garner some heat after winning. However, I have zero idea where either guy goes from here.
Tamina Snuka def. Nikki Bella
The match mostly consisted of rest holds, but it was fine by Divas standards. Nikki held her own against Tamina and appears to have improved in the ring similar to Brie. I was afraid WWE would follow up Tamina's loss to Eva Marie from last week with another fluky loss this week, but thankfully that wasn't the case. Brie getting the better of both AJ Lee and Tamina after the match makes me believe that her hunt for the Divas Championship is not yet over, but I hope it is because she has already come up short of winning the gold multiple times in the past.
Fandango def. Tyson Kidd
The Total Divas background might give the match a bit more story, but I don't think the fans will care any more than they did before. I completely forgot how crazy over Fandango is in England, so I think WWE picked the wrong place to have Kidd's first match back. Kidd even had to lead the live crowd in chanting his name, which is pretty pathetic. Fandango winning didn't help matters, either. I am glad Kidd is getting television time on the flagship show, but coming up short to Fandango isn't a good sign for Kidd's future.
World Heavyweight Champion John Cena def. The Real Americans in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
I have always disliked the "super" side of Cena in that he more often than not finds a way to overcome the odds, so it was predictable that he was emerging victorious in this bout given who his opponents were. That being said, this was an entertaining match where Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro looked good in defeat. The English crowd absolutely adored Cesaro, so it is a shame they didn't get to see Cesaro swing Cena. Alberto Del Rio's post-match attack on Cena was well executed and put heat on their upcoming title match, and Big E Langston making the save was a nice lead-in to his matchup with Del Rio.
R-Truth def. Ryback
Remember when R-Truth turned heel in England two years ago? Or how Ryback pinned then-WWE Champion CM Punk in a match last year in England? Oh, how the mighty have fallen. They worked a decent match, but the shocking ending outcome overshadowed it all. I would be fine with Truth winning if it meant he was in line for a push, but I don't think that was the intention. Rather, WWE has buried Ryback to the point where they figured a measly loss to Truth wouldn't do any damage since you can't break what is already broken... or something like that. I would hold out hope that this is all a part of a losing streak storyline for Ryback, but let's face it, there is no hope left.
Alberto Del Rio def. Big E Langston
Langston received a nice reaction upon entering, but the live crowd was dead silent for Del Rio. Perhaps they reacted to him when he first entered earlier in the night, but I think a majority of the fans just don't care about him anymore, and I can't blame them. The match was pretty basic for the most part, but the fans were more fun to watch than the actual action. I question having Langston lose another singles match a week removed from coming up short to Randy Orton, as I don't think the win did much to benefit Del Rio.
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan def. The Shield in a 3-on-2 Handicap Match by Disqualification
Paul Heyman's pre-match promo was solid and it appears Ryback is no longer a "Paul Heyman Guy" (or at least no longer affiliated with him) based off his comments. This is probably for the better, as Ryback flopped in the role anyway. The actual handicap match was enjoyable, but I expected a bit more out of the combatants seeing how this was a dream match of epic proportions in my mind. Not only was this the first time that Punk and Bryan teamed up, but it was also the first time Punk has squared off with The Shield, so this would have felt like a bigger deal had WWE hyped it in advance. The no contest finished protected both teams and the post-match brawl between The Wyatt Family and The Shield was fantastic. I don't think we'll be seeing The Shield turn face anytime soon, but I hope this was simply planting the seeds for The Shield's inevitable feud with The Wyatt Family. The faces making the save also helped hyped a potential traditional Survivor Series tag team elimination match for the pending pay-per-view.
With Survivor Series less than two weeks away, one would think that WWE would have done a better job of building up the card on this show, but they failed to do so. The only two matches currently advertised for the show (the two world title matches) were built nicely on this show, but they don't excite this viewer in the slightest. Everything else on this show came off as filler except for the main event match and the hot ending. Thankfully, the English crowd was the saving grace of this dull edition of Raw, as they always make for an electric environment. I would have liked to see more England natives (Wade Barrett, William Regal and Layla) on this show, but I guess WWE didn't care to cater to the crowd this time around. If WWE wants one of the "big four" events to have any success, then they will do their best to hype the pending pay-per-view on the go-home show next week, but I don't have much confidence in WWE to do so with a stupid country theme being advertised. Seriously, though, how many more people are going to watch Raw knowing it is country themed? Ridiculous.