Raw: A tale of tables, beards and briefcases
NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling
Tonight on Raw: Daniel Bryan got some good news when John Cena selected him to get a WWE Championship title shot at SummerSlam, but Brad Maddox isn't making it easy for him to get there in one piece. At the urging of Vince McMahon, Bryan will have to face Kane this week. Plus, Cena and Ryback in a Tables Match, so let's get started, shall we?
Trailed by Maddox, Vince steps into the ring to get this week's show underway. He tells the fans that we're going to have ourselves some fun tonight, and Maddox apologizes for his boneheaded decision to allow Cena to pick his own opponent. The two authority figures look like they're going to have some fun at Bryan's expense, but the bearded one is going to make them do it to his face. The crowd chants his name as Bryan accuses McMahon of putting words in Maddox's mouth. They argue about respect while Vince tries in vain to get the fans to quiet down. Bryan says he respects Cena, but McMahon tries to frame the WWE Champion as a manipulative liar. Vince makes it clear that he doesn't want Cena to win, but he also doubts Bryan has the “ruthless aggression” necessary to be champion. The chairman laughs as he lets everyone know he'd like Cena and Bryan to both spontaneously combust at SummerSlam. But it doesn't matter what Vince thinks, it matters what the people think – and Bryan thinks they want a new WWE Champion in three weeks.
Match 1 – The Shield vs. Mark Henry and The Usos
Fresh off the fastest face turn ever, Henry throws his weight around against Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. The Usos try isolating Reigns, but he's able to bull his way into the Shield corner and tip momentum toward his team. Dean Ambrose and Rollins try double teaming Henry, but that just leads to all three heels going flying. Commercials follow. Also there's a good discussion about how to tell the Usos apart (hint: use the tattoos!). Henry gets the hot tag for his team and ends up dishing out some pain to all of the heels, at least until he's speared by Reigns. Jimmy Uso tries a Superfly Splash, but Ambrose gets his knees up and follows with his finisher to get the pin. Henry plays sore loser by beating on The Shield after the bell.
Earlier today, Ryback intimdates some of the random employees back in the food service area. Some poor guy gets put through the food table. I thought the WWE was supposed to be showing why bullying was bad? And WrestleMania is going to be on NBC this Saturday.
Apparently we're back to video clips for the Wyatt Family. Backstage, Kane wants to know where the Wyatts are. Maddox suggests that if he wants to send them a message, he can do it in the ring against Bryan. Sneaky!
Match 2 – Rob Van Dam vs. Fandango
So it appears these guys have been arguing about who has the better feet. Fandango shows off his with a high kick for a near fall, but RVD fights back after rolling away from a top rope manuever. Rolling Thunder and a monkey flip have Fandango in trouble, but the dancer rolls out of the ring to avoid a Five Star Frog Splash. As he is wont to do, Fandango retreats up the ramp and gets counted out. Yet he still pauses long enough to make sure we know how to say his name.
AJ Lee complains to Big E Langston about failing to prevent Kaitlyn from spearing her.
Match 3 – AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn
I feel like we've seen these women wrestle each other like a dozen times already. Oh right, that's because we have. AJ's fear turns out to be well founded as Kaitlyn does in fact hit a spear and get the pinfall. Her ex Dolph Ziggler rubs some verbal salt in the wound, and he also wants a match with Big E right now – and it looks like he's going to get it.
Match 4 – Dolph Ziggler vs. Big E Langston
Langston uses his power to give Ziggler fits, but a dropkick to the face changes that a bit. Dolph dumps his former friend out to the floor, at which point AJ thinks it would be a good idea to jump on Ziggler's back and try to scratch and claw at him. Langston isn't pleased since that means he loses by disqualification. And he'll be even less happy later after he wakes up from that Zig Zag he just received.
Bryan confronts Cena backstage. It gets a little tense when Cena asks if Bryan is calling him a liar and gets a Genesis – no reply at all. #OldReference
Match 5 – Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio
Like Cena, Del Rio is getting a chance to choose his own opponent for SummerSlam, a choice he will announce Friday (wink, wink) on SmackDown. The announcers (minus JBL, who is off climbing mountains for charity) wonder if he'll pick Christian. We'll see. ADR uses the stairs to punich Christian's left arm, and we step out for commercials. Del Rio smiles after we return even though Christian is giving him all he can handle. Christian sells the damage to his arm before running into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, but he manages to kick out at two. He looks for a spear and sees Del Rio roll out of the ring. Christian's arm prevents him from hitting the Killswitch, but he's able to counter a cross armbreaker attempt and hold on to get a victory over the World Heavyweight Champion.
A video package shows Cody Rhodes chucking Damien Sandow's briefcase into the water last week on SmackDown. Funny stuff, that, and a tribute to some old school WWE hijinks.
Match 6 – Wade Barrett vs. Cody Rhodes
Barrett starts quickly here, using his power to earn several near falls. Rhodes finaly rallies to hit a moonsault that also hurts him a bit. A running knee gets Cody a two count, but he runs into a kick to the gut. Rhodes is in trouble, but he counters a pumphandle slam with the Cross Rhodes and gets the victory. Sandow comes out after the bell and curses his former partner for throwing his case into the Gulf of Mexico. But it's not Rhodes' fault he came from a family of clowns, says Sandow. Ouch!
Match 7 – Daniel Bryan vs. Kane
Michael Cole says that a Kane victory will make him the number one contender to the Cena-Bryan winner after SummerSlam. He's wrestling like he's motivated in the early going. Bryan turns things around by sending Kane to the outside, which is a perfect excuse for some more commercials. Bryan looks for the Yes Lock, but that's easier said than done on the Big Red Monster. He goes to kicks to the chest instead, and when Kane tries getting him up for a choke slam, he manages to counter it with a DDT/roll-up and get the pin. A frustrated Kane nails a choke slam after the bell, but Kane's post-match posing is interrupted by the arrival of the Wyatt Family. Kane holds his own for a minute against the ensuing assault, but Bray Wyatt watches his kinfolk slowly wear Kane down.
Match 8- Natalya vs. Brie Bella
At least I think it's Brie. This match ends up as a fairly long commercial for “Total Divas,” but at least it's nice to see Nattie wrestling again. Just as Natalya gets the upper hand, Nikki appears on stage to reinforce the recent “ugly duckling” taunt the sisters have been making, and the distraction allows Brie to get the pinfall.
Paul Heyman gives Curtis Axel a pep talk backstage. Not sure if he's the “greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time” just yet, but Paul has never been known for his subtlety or restraint.
Match 9 – R-Truth vs. Curtis Axel
Of course Heyman is going to talk for a bit first. He gets in a plug for Brock Lesnar and Axel cuts a short promo as well. Oh, and there's going to be a wrestling match here too. Not that it gets very far before CM Punk invades and ends it by attacking Axel... much to the fans' delight.
Triple H confronts Vince about his treatment of Bryan, and the chairman makes it very clear that he doesn't think Daniel can beat John Cena. Stephanie McMahon drops in with an idea that she'd like to personally supervise: a corporate makeover. Her dad sarcastically wishes her good luck, and her hubbie doesn't seem too much more thrilled.
Main Event – John Cena vs. Ryback – Tables Match
Ryback goes for a table early on the outside, but he ends up smashing it on the post. We go to commercial, though it seems the announcers weren't ready for it. Wow, there are all kinds of tables stacked up along the aisle. Ryback throws Cena shoulder first into the steps before stopping to admire his handiwork. A table gets set up between the steps and the ring, but Cena's attempt at a suplex is thwarted. Because there weren't enough tables involved, Ryback gets more from beneath the ring. some of which end up used as thrown objects. Ryback sneaks under the ring and attacks from the other side, then cracks Cena with the steps. Ryback goes for the win, but Cena battles back until both men are throwing bombs. Cena is hoisted up high yet manages to land on the other side of one of the tables. They both grab part of the steps and end up in a stand-off, eventually returning to the ring. Cena drops Ryback on yet another set of steps and hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Ryback recovers to hit a jawbreaker of sorts, and he sets up another table in the corner. A Meat Hook puts Cena on the canvas, but he rises just in time to send Ryback through the corner table with an Attitude Adjustment and claim a hard-fought win. Bryan runs down and does some cheering on the outside. He grabs Cena's belt and enters the ring, looking like he's going to offer it to the champ before mouthing “This is mine.” Cena snatches it back and the show ends with a staredown. See you in seven!
After seeing the widespread abuse of tables that took place in tonight's main event, Nick Tylwalk feels like someone needs to stand up for tables' rights. If you feel the mistreatment of tables has gone too far, stand beside Nick on Twitter, on Google+ or lend your support by email.