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Raw: A new era begins
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


Raw is live tonight one night before the special live edition of Smackdown.

Not surprisingly, we start with Triple H. Seriously Hunter, are youdoing this just for me? Because really, it’s not necessary. He quickly declares that Raw and Smackdown superstars will be coming to Monday nights to create a “super show”. In other words, the brand extension death really begins.

Trips then addresses the Nash/Punk situation from last week and asks Big Sexy to join him in the ring. Instead, Punk is the one who comes out. Punk starts his promo before the nWo music starts, which brings Nash to the ring. Huh. I guess if he has music he’s officially signed now.

Nash tells Trips he did lie about the car accident because Trips wouldn’t let Nash get physically involved in Punk’s business. He starts to rip into Trips further and further implies that Steph is the one behind the texting, before asking Trips what kind of man he is. Trips responds that he can’t trust Nash anymore, and asks him to leave for good. Nash responds that Johnny Ace signed him to a WWE contract. Trips responds that he won’t be fired but the lying has to stop.

This gives Punk the dry heaves, which he uses to symbolize the acting the two are doing. Nash suggests he face off with Punk. Punk suggests the bout take place at Night of Champions, which Trips agrees to after some taunting.

Following the exchange, Randy Orton’s music hits and he makes his way to the ring to face Dolph Ziggler.

Match 1 – Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton (non-title match)

The broadcast crew spends most of the start of the match talking about the logic behind Vickie wanting to expand her stable. At one point, Ziggler hits the Zig Zag on the outside which nearly gets the countout W.

Back from the break Ziggler’s still in control as we see Jack Swagger watch the match backstage. As the action continues relatively unexcitedly. Something about these two in the ring just doesn’t click, I can’t put my finger on it. Orton adds an interesting spot to his arsenal, as he uses a gutwrench to a Canadian backbreaker to a neckbreaker. I thought for sure he was going to use Swagger’s Gutwrench Powerbomb to rub it in on Ziggler. Eventually, we get Orton tryingfor the RKO which Ziggler momentarily reverses into the Sleeper. Orton fights that off and soon after hits the RKO. Like I said before, I really didn’t feel this match.

Winner: Randy Orton

Backstage we then go as Josh Mathews attempts to interview Cena, but he chooses instead to head to the ring. Cena then begins talking about Alberto Del Rio and calls him out. Instead, Mark Henry comes out and starts talking his own brand of trash. Christian then comes out to join the fray and rags on Cena heavily. Cena responds in his usual juvenile manner as Cena locks himself into a handicap beatdown until Sheamus comes to his side, completely ignoring their history. Christian then leave the ring, leaving Henry now facing the 2 on 1 battle. Henry, however, slowly leaves himself. Johnny Ace, watching backstage, then makes a match between Christian and Henry vs. Cena and Sheamus. Trips then says that he already made the match, and reminds Ace who is who’s boss.

Match 2 – CM Punk vs. The Miz

Before the match can start, Miz gets on the mic and promos his way down to the ring.

The two start out extremely well together and I can see a fantastic war of words between the two complimenting a very strong in-ring feud. Miz is seriously impressing me in this match and is proving he can hang in the ring with the best of them.

The two go back and forth extremely well, especially after the break, with a few near falls mixed in. Eventually, Punk hits the Savage Elbow and gets set for the GTS before R-Truth comes in to interrupt the proceedings for the DQ.

Winner: CM Punk (DQ)

Post-match, the attack gets hot, except Punk is well up to the task of taking out both men. Eventually, Nash comes down to the ring and carefully gets to the ring (lest he break a quad). This gives Miz and Truth enough time to recover and take out Punk, letting Nash get in and deliver the Jackknife Powerbomb.

Match 3 – Sin Cara II vs. Jack Swagger

I wonder how many there will be. It’s like the Villanos for a new generation. Cara hits a beautiful Asai Moonsault early before Swagger takes over, drawing out Vickie in the process. Later on, Ziggler comes out and even gets up on the apron. This gives Cara the opportunity he needs to hit his Springboard Swanton/Lionsault combination executed much more smoothly than last time I saw it) for the win.

Winner: Sin Cara II

Match 4 – Evan Bourne/Kofi Kingston vs. David Otunga/Michael McGillicuty

Kingston’s pyro doesn’t go off for some reason, but we do learn the team will be named Air Boom.

The match pretty much follows the WWE Tag Team Match Formula® with Kingston coming in for the heat segment and getting the win with Trouble in Paradise as Lawler rips the challengers apart verbally. I wouldn’t disagree.

Winners: Air Boom

Post-match, Otunga and McGillicuty start harassing Lawler. That could get interesting.

Match 5 – Kelly Cena vs. Brie Bella

Oh like you’re surprised by my new name for Kelly.

I don’t know why the Divas of Doom aren’t fighting tonight. I’m getting really, really sick of Los Bellas vs. Kelly, Eve or both of them week after week, and almost the exact same time, Beth and Nattie are shown on screen saying the exact same thing. Must be the Canadian in Nattie and I working on the same wavelength.

Meanwhile in the ring, Kelly hits the most absurd move in WWE, that rotating headscissor that makes her opponent carry her in circles for god knows how long. Sorry Kel, in the words of Mucha Lucha, that was not Buena.

Thankfully, a little switcheroo happens and Kelly gets put down for the count after the X Factor.

Winner: Brie Bella

By the way, in the interest of fairness, I’m going to open up the floor to anyone who wants to take the pro side to my con on Kelly Kelly. Email me here and I’ll include your comments in my analysis of Kelly’s inevitable match next week.

Back from break, we get a video of Alex Riley before going to the trailer for Inside Out. Meh.

Match 6 – Mark Henry/Christian vs. John Cena/Sheamus

Compared to Cena/Punk last week, this bout is really slow and plodding. I’m all for pushing Henry like WWE is, and the bad match is far from being his fault exclusively, but he really feels like the odd man out here. Well, I could say the same really for any one of the combatants.

Cena mixes up his five moves this week adding in a Bulldog Powerslam, which I guess he can do since Batista has been out of WWE long enough. Henry breaks up the STF on Christian at one point, which leads to Sheamus taking him out outside the ring. Christian, meanwhile, tries to take out Cena but a quick double team gets the advantage back to the babyfaces. Cena then hits the AA for the W.

Winners: Sheamus/Cena

Almost immediately, we head backstage where Trips is watching the match on his screen. Punk comes in then, and finds out his match at Night of Champions has been changed to a match between the two. Wow… I’m excited for the match but it feels like they’re rushing it.

Overall, Super Raw didn’t give me nearly as much entertainment as the fantastic episode last week. We’ll see how long this lasts. Unfortunately, it may be here to stay.