With Hell in a Cell less than a week away, WWE decided to shake things up some.
A.J. was out as Raw General Manager. Vickie was in as Managing Supervisor.
How Vickie Guerrero will do in charge of a show again will be known in the weeks to come. It’s not 2007, Edge isn’t around and neither is La Familia.
Let’s break this show down by each segment:
- #1 Contender’s Tag Team Tournament Finals- The Rhodes Scholars def. Sin Cara/Rey Mysterio: With Hell No in the loom as Tag Champions, The Rhodes Scholars seemed best fit to face off against them at Hell in a Cell. This match was superb with quick-paced action aplenty, highlighted by some slick double-team work by Mysterio/Sin Cara. The brief video highlights of how each team got to the Finals before the match was much necessary. Jim Ross dropped off some knowledge about the competitors and gave this the “big match” feel Creative hoped for. The finish, which saw Sandow block the three count with his own body, followed by the Cross Rhodes, was excellent.
- Team Hell No’s post-match promo was weird and humorous, just like their act.
- Kofi Kingston def. Michael McGillicutty: Decent match, but this was a step back for Kingston’s character, who showed such an edge last week. The victory over The Miz was huge, but Kingston needs more victories against other credible wrestlers. Michael McGillicutty isn’t that, despite JR’s efforts to make him sound so. Miz on commentary added some perspective where it needed to be and it was interesting to see him and Cole bicker with their past taken into account, but this didn’t really push their Intercontinental Championship match at Hell in a Cell.
- Video package which looked at last week’s Contract Signing and announcement of Ryback as Punk’s challenger was more production gold.
- John Cena set off the segment as he put over Ryback and also mentioned Punk’s seek for “change” last year. Once Punk entered the mix, we got another solid exchange. When Cena mentioned he was officially medically cleared, you had to fear he’d be placed in this Sunday’s match, but that wasn’t to be. Punk gained plenty of heat when he stepped off the apron and walked down the ramp with the Belt as he heeded the words of Paul Heyman, who begged him not to fight Cena “for free.”
- Justin Gabriel def. Antonio Cesaro: A nice surprise, but Cesaro is on such a huge push, Gabriel isn’t a threat to his Intercontinental Championship despite the win. It was more like he got the upset because he needed a little credibility. While he got some, this was the equivalent of screaming from inside a well; people can hear you, but you’re still stuck down there, helpless. That’s Justin Gabriel right now.
- We’ve seen Mr. McMahon come out of a limo numerous times. However, this time, he dragged A.J. Lee out. The disappointed look on her face was good foreshadowment of what was to come.
- A.J.’s “farewell” speech included how she grew up 15 minutes from New Jersey and had nothing. Heyman’s interruption was a great tease for him to possibly become the new GM, only for it to go to Guerrero, who garnered massive heat like always. The announcement of yet another “Champion vs Champion” match, lumberjack edition wasn’t innovative.
- You knew A.J. would tackle Vickie Guerrero to the canvas, as she had nothing to lose.
- Ryback def. The Miz: Ryback got the better of Miz, who now has almost no heat headed into Sunday. Ryback gained more momentum though.
- Eve was finally outed by Kaitlyn and a brawl ensued, which included Layla. Potato chips flew around too. Finally.
- When Sheamus lifted his “Brawlin’ Buddy” in Big Show’s face, that personified everything wrong with this feud. If Sheamus was as serious as Show was, this could be decent.
- Dolph Ziggler def. Daniel Bryan: These two lit the ring up with bright technical maneuvers and counters galore. Kane showed up halfway, but didn’t intervene. The bickering between the Tag Champs, a Zig Zag off the second turnbuckle and a three count later put to bed a classic bout.
- What was gained with the Bryan/Ziggler match was lost with the “Newly Tagged Game.” Sandow and Rhodes wouldn’t play along, as expected. The hype for their match was sort of there. Striker’s exit and wish of no good luck upon the champs was strange. When Big Show threw him across the stage, it topped it off. What the hell did we watch?
- The Big Show def. Kane: The usual. Seen it before.
- A.J. revealed it was Cena that was the “affair” with the “business dinner as friends.” Intersting road to go down considering Cena’s divorce troubles recently, but that’s where they went.
- Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) def. Zack Ryder: Another Del Rio squash. Crowd was dead.
- Cena accused Vickie of costing A.J. her job, while Vickie blamed Cena for it when he asked A.J. out. Nice exchange.
- Ziggler’s promo re-emphasized Vickie’s views. Nothing special.
- Punk and Heyman backstage was more of the same “pep talk” from Heyman.
- 30-man Lumberjack Match- WWE Champion CM Punk def. World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus: Somehow, despite all the in-ring action and numerous lumberjacks, it was The Big Show who stood out the most as he loitered around the announce table. He played into the finish as he punched Sheamus out with the WMD. Solid match with a bit too much distractions.
- Post-match, Ryback came down to the ring and hit all of his big moves on Punk, after Punk was thrown back in to the ring by the lumberjacks every time he tried to escape. For good measure, Ryback tossed Punk out of the ring onto a pile of Lumberjacks. Great ending.
Final Thoughts: This show had a whole lot of everything: the good (Tag team finals, Bryan/Ziggler, Main Event), the bad (Del Rio squash) and downright strange (“Newly Tagged Game”). WWE continues to make Ryback hot and one has to wonder if Punk actually will drop the belt on Sunday. Other than Punk/Ryback, there was very little hype for Hell in a Cell that actually meant something. As for where the Cena/A.J. storyline is headed, there’s certainly intrigue there so far. This Raw was a mixed bag that didn’t hype Hell in a Cell too much. Luckily for WWE, there’s still four more hours of television this week to rectify that.