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   July 23, 2014



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Raw: Who's in charge in Manchester?
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


WWE fans are great in many places, but for pure passion, it's hard to beat the crowds when the promotion goes on its European tours. We'll see some of that tonight as Raw originates from Manchester, England, not live on USA.

Tonight's show begins with John Cena narrating a tribute to our military veterans. From there, we pivot to a replay of the quasi-legal drama between Big Show and The Authority. You may remember that ended up with Show on the wrong end of a four-on-one handicap match that got even worse when the newly corporate Kane intervened.

Breaking news: The Authority is on vacation! Michael Cole says that means we don't know who is in charge tonight. Big Show also isn't in England, but Randy Orton is. Oh, he's going to talk now. The WWE champion can hardly hide his disgust at the fact that Show got his job back along with a title shot, but Orton is confident he'll retain his belt. Randy also says he is running the show, but Brad Maddox protests that he should actually be in charge, and Kane also makes his claim as director of operations. There's a short tug of war over who Orton will face in the opening match, but it doesn't get resolved before Vickie Guerrero throws her two cents in as well. Sticking with the "best for business" mantra, she declares an all champions handicap match with Orton facing both Cody Rhodes and Goldust.

Match 1 - Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust

The fans start a "Randy's boring" chant. The announcers all get their own chants too. Meanwhile, Goldust works the first several minutes, getting the worst of it until he can get his brother in on the action. Cody quickly earns a couple of near falls, and the brothers unite to knock The Viper out to the floor. Orton decides to get himself counted out, but he finds there's no escape as Big Show comes down the ramp to greet him with some big right hands. Show clears off the announce table and sends Randy crashing down through it with a choke slam off the top of the steps. Payback is a... well, you know.

A happy Big Show squeezes into a cab and heads out to get a pint.

Match 2 - Los Matadores and Santino Marella vs. The Union Jacks

Who? It's actually 3MB, repackaged for the night to try to appeal to the English crowd. Santino is wrestling with bull horns on his head, I guess as a tribute to El Torito. The little bull does a somersault splash to the floor while Marella uses a Cobra/Bull hybrid to pin Jinder Mahal.

Orton gets medical attention while fielding apologies from Maddox and Guerrero. He can't be quite as dismissive of Kane though.

Match 3 - Damien Sandow vs. Kofi Kingston

Incensed by Kingston's jab at him being unsuccessful at his chance to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase (that happened on the WWE app - download that thing already!), Sandow starts out in extra aggressive fashion. He drops the Elbow of Disdain, but Kingston is able to kick out at two. Kofi finally gets his offense untracked, but it's only for a moment before he gets planted and pinned with the You're Welcome.

Match 4 - Dolph Ziggler (challenger) vs. Curtis Axel (champion) - Intercontinental Championship Match

Can Axel regain his mojo without the aid of Paul Heyman? Guess we're about to find out. His dropkick makes an early impression on Ziggler, who responds with one of his own. The fans count along as Dolph drops 10 straight elbows across Axel's chest. The champ buys a moment by dumping Ziggler out to the floor, and he drives home his own elbows and right hands to take back the momentum. Ziggler hits a DDT, and both men are down. They barely beat the referee's count before Ziggler sends Axel flying into the post. Dolph leaps into the corner for mounted punches, following with a neck breaker and an elbow drop that are good for a two count. Axel recovers to launch Ziggler into the turnbuckle, but Dolph gets another two count with the Famouser. More near falls follow as we head into "What will they have to do to win?" territory. The fans try to rally Ziggler, but Axel hits the Axelizer and finally puts away his very game challenger.

Maddox and Kane have more words backstage. They finally find common ground through their love of handicap matches, booking John Cena against the Real Americans and Daniel Bryan and CM Punk against The Shield. Elsewhere, Zack Ryder pushes some mercy. I guess this is going to be a weekly thing now?

Match 5 - Tamina Snuka vs. Nikki Bella

A "We want tables!" chant breaks out. I'd be very surprised if that happens here. AJ beats on Brie Bella on the outside as Tamina takes out Nikki with a Superfly Splash. Brie comes flying in with dropkicks for both heels after the bell, and there's a tense staredown following that.

Orton is still getting examined backstage. He angrily demands to know why The Shield didn't come to his aid, but the Hounds of Justice let him know they don't work for Maddox, Guerrero, or him.

Match 6 - Fandango vs. Tyson Kidd

Fandango gets quite the reaction from the crowd. Apparently there was some tension between Kidd and wife Natalya about her training with a shirtless Fandango on Total Divas. Oh, the humanity! Tyson tries for a springboard sunset flip, but Fandango sits down on it and gets the pin.

Match 7 - John Cena vs. The Real Americans

Zeb Colter gets in a few shots on England before the match, naturally. It doesn't take long for Alberto Del Rio to make his way to ringside, nor does it take long before a commercial break. Cena hits a neckbreaker for two, but Antonio Cesaro clocks him with a big uppercut and sets up for the Cesaro Swing. Cena counters with an STF, and all three men start trading shots. Cesaro is caught coming off the top for a cross body, forcing Swagger to save him with a dive at Cena's legs. Swagger ends up eating the Five Knuckle Shuffle yet manages to get Cena in the Patriot Lock. John rallies to hit an Attitude Adjustment, but Cesaro makes the save on the pinning attempt. Cesaro kicks out of a big power bomb, going uppercut for punch with Cena. That's not enough to put Cena away, and he finds a way to get Swagger to tap out to the STF. Del Rio storms in after the bell and uses a chair to aid his cross armbreaker. Big E Langston plays the cavalry role, driving off Alberto as referees attend to Cena.

Del Rio brags to the substitute authority figures about what he did to Cena, but he wants Langston to stay out of his business. Vickie suggests he show Big E how Cena feels instead.

Match 8 - Ryback vs. R-Truth

I can sum up this match in one sentence: Truth steals a win with a roll-up. What's up?

Match 9 - Big E Langston vs. Alberto Del Rio

JBL calls ADR "Mexico's greatest export" and "a true role model." Meanwhile, fans are doing the wave, possibly ironically. Big E hits a belly-to-belly suplex and a splash, but Del Rio fires back with his corner enzuigiri for two. The crowd has a "We are awesome!" chant going. Del Rio wins the match with the cross armbreaker and waves a huge Mexican flag in celebration.

Hey, Heyman is here. He's in a wheelchair, a neck brace, and a leg brace and clutching a crutch. Paul is also upset with Ryback for his failure to handle CM Punk. That relationship went sour fast! Heyman also distributes some of the blame to the fans, saying they egged Punk on. The only reason he's slumming it in Manchester is to announce that he will return with a vengeance, and... Hold that thought, because Punk is on his way out. Axel meets him right outside the ring, but Punk dispatches him and sets his sights on Heyman. Paul gets dumped out of the wheelchair and eats a barrage of kendo stick shots. Bryan makes his way to the ring too as we prepare for the main event.

Main Event - CM Punk and Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield

Punk and Bryan show off some immediate chemistry, suplexing Dean Ambrose as a team. Bryan nails Seth Rollins with kicks and puts him in the inverted surfboard. Rollins gives way to Roman Reigns, who takes alternating kicks from the faces before sending Punk to the floor. Bryan picks up the pace and gets a near fall on the returning Rollins. Time for the last set of commercials. Bryan is in trouble after the break, straining to get out of the grasp of Rollins. Eventually, Bryan manages to low bridge both Rollins and Reigns, crawling over to make the tag to Punk. The crowd comes alive to Punk's offense, punctuated by a flying elbow. Bryan goes airborne to the outside, as does Punk. He calls for the GTS on Ambrose but has to deal with Reigns. The Anaconda Vice is locked in on Ambrose, but the lights go out, and the Wyatt Family is in the ring. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan have words with Ambrose and Reigns, and a brawl ensues. Bray Wyatt punches Reigns on the outside, and there's a standoff between the three-man units. But Wyatt manages to point out their common enemies, and Punk and Bryan soon find themselves surrounded. The Usos and the Rhodes brothers come flying down to join the fray, and it's total chaos in the ring. The faces manage to clear the ring, and Bryan leads the fans in a "Yes!" Chant as Raw comes to a close. See you in seven for... Raw Country? Oh no...

Nick Tylwalk apolgizes in advance for any cracks he makes next week about country music, which is not his favorite. Troll his Twitter feed @nick_tylwalk, his Google+ page +NickTylwalk, or just complain by good old fashioned email at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.