Stephanie McMahon and Triple confront Big Show.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Triple H Forced Daniel Bryan to Face Big Show
Once again, Bryan had yet another enjoyable exchange with both HHH and Randy Orton. It was more of the same from the latter two, but they managed to garner strong heel heat in this segment and cut convincing promos. The mentions of the Cruiserweight and European Championships were a nice touch and it was cool to see HHH refer to Doink the Clown as well. Of course, this segment also helped hype the main event match between Bryan and Big Show.
The Miz def. Fandango
After delivering some of his best mic and in-ring work in recent memory on last week's edition of SmackDown, it was strange to see Miz back to feuding with Fandango this week on Raw. Nonetheless, it was a nice match while it lasted that was mostly taken up by the commercial break. Miz apparently broke Fandango's nose at some point in the bout (presumably during the break), which caused some confusion later on when the commentators made mention of it.
Ryback def. Dolph Ziggler
Ryback's character has been floundering for quite some time now, but I thought his bully persona worked to perfection here. Dean Ambrose's attack on Ziggler prior to the bout was logical given Ziggler's past history with The Shield, and it allowed Ryback to take advantage of the opportunity and pick up the much needed victory. Ziggler sold well for Ryback's offense and lost nothing by coming up short. Sure, it's no world title, but Ziggler feuding with Ambrose for the United States Championship at Night of Champions would be a cool consolation prize. Plus, think how amazing the matches between the two of them will be.
Stephanie McMahon Confronted Big Show
Big Show has always been an excellent actor in the sense that he can get the water works going at any point he wants. He played his role extremely well here, as did Stephanie. This was easily her best promo to date and he portrays a heel much better than she does a face. She came off as condescending and conniving and received a substantial amount of heat in return.
The Prime Time Players def. 3MB
I've been loving the push The Prime Time Players have been receiving lately and this was no exception. It was another nice win for the tandem, despite the fact it came against 3MB. The crowd was understandably flat for certain points of the bout, and who can blame them? No one takes 3MB seriously, so The Prime Time Players win didn't mean much. Regardless, it is encouraging to see that the live crowds are slowly getting behind Titus O'Neil and Darren Young.
WWE Champion Randy Orton def. Cody Rhodes (Non-title)
It was rather odd that WWE wanted until just now to announce that Rhodes was on the verge of getting married, but I guess it was better late than never. He and Orton had a great match as expected and had terrific chemistry together. Kudos to JBL for making note of their history together in Legacy, as added more meaning to the bout. The crowd was heavily behind Rhodes and most of the hot near-falls towards the end. It's hard to take Rhodes' firing seriously when you know he'll be back before long, but it was a smart way of writing him off television for now as he legitimately gets married. Furthermore, I would love to see Rhodes and Orton cross paths again in a singles feud down the road.
CM Punk Addressed Paul Heyman and Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel
One would think that Punk's feud with Heyman had been done to death by this point, but they constantly find ways to keep it interesting. Keeping the two apart this week was good booking and Punk's promo was extremely effective in selling pay-per-view buys. The fans are dying to see him get his hands on Heyman and Punk's mic work in this segment did a superb job of promoting the pay-per-view and added even more intensity and emotion to the match.
Natalya vs. Brie Bella vs. Naomi in a No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat Match for the Divas Championship Went to a No Contest
Of all the women wrestlers involved in "Total Divas", these three are the best workers, so it only made sense for them to collide for a shot at the title. It wasn't long before Divas Champion AJ Lee interfered and had her ass handed to her by all three Divas, which should have been seen coming. It was a rather weak follow-up to AJ's controversial promo from last week, but at least it is now confirmed that AJ will be defending the Divas title in a Fatal 4-Way at Night of Champions.
Rob Van Dam def. Damien Sandow
Since this was basically a rehash from what we saw on SmackDown last week, I was expecting this match to be just as short as their initial encounter. However, I was proved wrong, as they ended up getting a decent amount of time and had a good match together. Granted, some of it consisted of a commercial break, but it was still better than their previous contest together. I still don't understand the pairing of RVD and Ricardo Rodriguez, but at least this match built towards the world title match at Night of Champions. In other news, Damien Sandow lost yet again. Ugh.
Daniel Bryan def. Big Show by Disqualification
It would have helped if the "friendship" between Bryan and Show was established before this show, but at least Show's constant crying helped make up for that logic gap to an extent. The match was fine for what it was, but it didn't last long before the McMahons and The Shield got involved. It was another strong segment to close the show with, but it felt like a retread of last week (and the week before). I don't think it makes the babyfaces look bad, but WWE needs to allow Bryan to get in some offense against Orton and the McMahons if the plan is for him to lose anyway at the pending pay-per-view.
Since this was the Labor Day edition of Raw, I didn't expect WWE to go all out this week, especially since most of the regular viewers probably weren't going to be tuning in anyway. The controversy surrounding Daniel Bryan, Big Show, Randy Orton and the McMahons was once again well done, but I surely hope they're trying to make a star out of Show before Bryan. Even still, nothing noteworthy occurred on this episode outside of Rhodes' firing (which won't last long, regardless). Edge is being advertised to return next week in Canada, so that should help bring in viewers on the go-home show for Night of Champions.