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Raw: Rhodes, Big Show get put in no-win situations
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


There's almost no way Raw won't be interesting tonight in Des Moines. The McMahon administration is doing everything in its considerable power to hold down Daniel Bryan, and anyone who dissents is being dealt with harshly. Let's see who faces the wrath tonight as we go live on USA.

HHH comes out to a ring guarded by The Shield. He introduces the WWE Champion, Randy Orton, who says that as the “Face of the WWE,” protecting the image of the company is his number one responsibility. Specifically, he has some issues with Daniel Bryan. He asks the crowd if Bryan should face him for the title at Night of Champions and if he even has the slightest chance in hell of defeating him. Will Bryan ever be anything more than a B+ player? The answer to all those questions is no. Orton does think Bryan should give up his title shot, so that’s at least one “yes.” Trips says he has two jobs, one of which is to ensure the health and welfare of the talent – and he's worried about Bryan's health. He blames the fans for confusing popularity with what's best for business, and uses Doink the Clown as Exhibit A. That brings Bryan out from the back, wondering if there were ever big chants for Doink back in 1992. The only two clowns he sees are standing in the ring right now, and he understands why they want him to give up. He appeals to the fans, who make it clear that they don't want him to submit to the powers that be. Bryan goes on to say that Orton has never been told he couldn't do something, which is why he doesn't understand what makes Bryan tick. Randy may have the genetics of a champion, but he'll never have the heart of a champion. Triple H tells Bryan that his anger is misplaced, and maybe he can work some of it out tonight when he goes one-on-one with the Big Show. Well, at least he won't have to worry about taking it easy tonight!

Cody Rhodes tells Triple H that he thinks tonight's main event will be great as long as nobody gets involved, and with all due respect, he feels like Orton versus Bryan is what's best for business. Trips questions why he wasn't invited to Rhodes' upcoming wedding, but he got him an early present anyway: a match tonight against Orton. Rhodes thanks him for the “massive” opportunity, but he soon learns that if he doesn’t win, he won't be employed for very long. Ah, that's one of those “Be careful what you wish for” deals, isn't it?

Match 1 – Fandango vs. The Miz

The Miz takes control of the dancing superstar before the commercial break. Somehow, Fandango has turned it around when we return, but I suppose only folks watching on the app know how. He is bloody though, courtesy of a nose that may be broken. Eventually, Miz is able to get the Figure Four locked in, making Fandango quickly tap out.

Booker T gives Bryan his two cents, which consist of running down the merits of giving up the title match because the people in charge can ruin his whole life. Bu he also says he's behind Bryan. So which is it Booker? #Hypocrisy

A video package takes us back through hell as CM Punk-Curtis Axel match. Love that meltdown by Pau Heyman as he laid into Punk with the kendo sick. That was some real ECW stuff.

Match 2 – Dolph Ziggler vs. Ryback

Dolph doesn’t know who he's facing tonight, and while he's waiting to find out, Dean Ambrose ambushes him from behind. Only after Ambrose warns Ziggler to “respect the business” does Ryback make his way out. By the way, that may be the loudest “Goldberg” chant I've heard for Ryback yet. The bell finally rings, and a one-sided beatdown of Ziggler ensues. Dolph pulls it together for a brief burst of offense, yet all that does is make Ryback mad. A Shell Shock puts Ziggler away, which JB likes since he feels Dolph needs to learn to be a good employee.

Brad Maddox tells Triple H and Stephanie that Big Show is refusing to face Bryan. Steph says she'll handle it, and that it won’t be a private conversation. After some ads, Stephanie heads for the ring, telling the fans she wants to introduce someone who helped her learn life lessons while she was growing up backstage. Show heads down the ramp, and he offers McMahon a hug. Since they are longtime friends, she simply cuts to the chase: he's broke, and his ironclad contract is in jeopardy if he doesn't perform when asked. Steph rubs salt in the wound by telling him that he can't have much time left in his career and probably can’t find work this lucrative anywhere else. And for the coup de grace, she reminds him that giants don’t live as long as other people. Ouch!

During the break, Show takes out his frustration on some helpless inanimate objects backstage. Out at the announce table, Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole pimp the app.

Match 3 – 3MB (Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal) vs. The Prime Time Players

This actually isn’t a squash, as 3MB works over Darren Young pretty effectively. Titus O'Neil gets the hot tag and flexes his considerable muscle, and even though he's stopped on his first pinfall attempt, he's able to slam and pin Mahal.

Heyman asks Maddox some very loaded questions about why he's allowing Punk to possibly injure him. As he's in the middle of browbeating poor Brad, Triple H drops in and tells Heyman that he approved the match. The Game has admired the way he's weaseled out of so many things over the years, but he can't figure out how he's going to do it this time. But even if he pulls off the unthinkable, Triple H figures he still wins. And isn't that what's best for business? Elsewhere, Bray Wyatt has something to say about what happened to Kane after the way the Family carried him off a few weeks ago. He uses an Icarus metaphor to tell us... not very much. But it's still cool and very creepy.

Match 4 – Cody Rhodes vs. Randy Orton

As Cole and JBL debate the fairness of his match, Orton is busy taking it to Rhodes. He earns a pair of near falls before delivering repeated blows in the corner, but Rhodes fights back with a suplex and his own mounted corner punches. Orton grabs him off the turnbuckle to deliver a backbreaker, and we step out for a word from our sponsors. It's all Rhodes upon our return, as he gets close to pinning the champ twice in a row. The rest of the locker room is watching anxiously, and the fans are behind him as he launches into a moonsault... that he misses. Orton covers for two, following with his signature DDT. The boos grow louder, but Randy simply mocks the fans. The RKO is countered by Cross Rhodes, but Orton barely manages to kick out at two. A roll up doesn't work, and a missed Disaster Kick sets up the RKO. Orton covers for three, and it's possible we just saw Rhodes wrestle his last match. HHH comes out to tell Rhodes that he went all in and fought from the bottom of his heart, but he can’t let his personal feelings cloud his judgment. It's with deep regret that he has to tell Cody he's fired.

Punk comes out with a kendo sick wondering aloud what he has left to say. After what was done to him last week, he doesn’t want to talk or wrestle, he wants to fight Heyman. And if he has to fight Axel to do it, so be it. He'd do it tonight, but he doesn’t care that they wouldn' t come out right now, because he'll get them both in 13 days, promising a “biblical ass beating.” Punk guarantees he'll get past Axel to get his hands on Heyman, and if you order the PPV, you're going to see a side of CM Punk you've never seen before. It may even make some people uncomfortable. He ends by promising to break Heyman's face. Oh my.

Big Show stops by to tell Byran about his no-win situation. Daniel understands, but he still plans on beating him tonight.

Match 5 – Naomi vs. Brie Bella vs. Natalya

The winner of this three-way dance gets a shot at AJ Lee and her Divas Championship. As luck would have it, AJ joins the announcers and the rest of the Total Divas crew is ringside. The match doesn't get finished before AJ storms the ring. That turns out to be a tactical error since she gets stomped by all three competitors.

Match 6 – Damien Sandow vs. Rob Van Dam

Sandow is apparently not that upset that Rhodes got “future endeavored.” Just as RVD has things going his way, Alberto De Rio decides to come out, flash a smile, and watch the action. Commercial time! Moments later, the fans are trying to will Van Dam out of danger. Sandow hits the Elbow of Disdain for two, and Ricardo Rodriguez looks a little concerned as he watches from ringside. RVD finally seizes the momentum with kicks and Rolling Thunder. Sandow tries rolling him up, but Van Dam escapes and hits the Five Star Frog Splash. That's a victory for Rob, much to Alberto's chagrin.

Since AJ interfered in the three-way match, Steph decides that she'll face all three women at Night of Champions. Elsewhere, Josh Mathews tries getting some parting words from Rhodes. He's not real happy about it, to say the least, but he says the McMahons have always had it in for the Rhodes family. Does Cody have anything to say to his fiancee? Guess not.

Match 7 – Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show

Show pleads with Bryan to stop fighting, repeating over and over that he's being forced to do this. Bryan rushes him repeatedly as the entire WWE roster watches from the stage. Bryan ends several minutes of being tossed around with a low dropkick and a series of kicks to the chest. Show kicks out at two, rising to spear Bryan as he comes off the top rope. He loads up the KO punch but decides to step over the top rope instead. The Game comes out, yelling at the giant to get back in the ring and finish it. Show refuses, so the Shield begins laying into Bryan. As Show goes to Bryan's aid, Triple H warns him not to help. Agony shows on the big man's face as he watches the Shield triple power bomb Bryan right in front of him. The Game orders Show to knock Bryan out, but he won't do it. That brings Stephanie down the ramp, pleading with Show to think about his family. Reluctantly, Show does the deed, and the fans show him no mercy with a “you sold out” chant. Orton poses over an unconscious Bryan as Raw silently fades out. See you in seven!