WWE Raw Report
By: Todd Martin
Date: 08/01/11 from Indianapolis, IN.
The Big News: John Cena and CM Punk will meet at SummerSlam to determine the true WWE champion.
CM Punk came out to start the show. He was announced as WWE champion. To me, they should have billed Cena as the official champion to fit into the story of Punk as the anti-company guy claiming to be the real champion, but it’s not a big deal. Punk said “the champ is here.” He proceeded to explain why he came back. He said he had known for a long time that his contract would expire in July and he struggled to decide whether to stay. Punk said he loves the place he works but hates the people in charge.
Punk said he had a choice to give in to the skull crushing status quo or speak his mind and cause change. Punk noted he did the latter and now Vince McMahon is out. He gave credit to the audience. He said for too long the audience has been fed scraps and he is here to make it fun again. Punk observed that he can’t make the business better sitting on his couch in Chicago so he made the call to come back. Punk said it was none too soon because the skull crushing status quo is back with Cena as champ. The crowd booed. Punk said Cena is the real champ a much as a kid in the audience with a replica belt. The crowd chanted for Punk.
HHH came out. He said that Punk coming back was good for business. So HHH put aside personal feelings and brought him back. Punk was struck by that and wanted to know HHH’s true feelings. HHH called Punk a smug, overrated, attention seeking guy who puts too much stock in his own hype. Punk replied that’s like looking in the mirror for HHH. Punk asserted that Vince McMahon screwed up the talent roster by letting guys like Batista, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar go. Punk said HHH couldn’t afford to let Punk go elsewhere.
HHH told Punk to tell the truth on why he re-signed. Punk said he wants to facilitate change. HHH said it’s that Punk loves the sound of his own voice and needed the platform. Punk said that he is the WWE champion. HHH said he is the champion but Cena is also the champion and HHH would fix that later in the night. Punk said he won’t shut up and toe the company PG line. Punk said he won’t go to promo class or media training and will do things his way.
Punk said that if HHH wanted to talk about ego, they could talk about ego. He did the old Hunter Hearst Helmsley bow from 1995 and 1996. Punk said HHH has been hogging the spotlight for so long over others who deserved it. Punk accused HHH of telling people what to do and pushing them around even when he was carrying Shawn Michaels’ bags. He asked how many times HHH said, “Well, you know he just doesn’t have what it takes” while lying in bed with his wife. Punk said whether HHH is in a suit or a poor man’s Conan attire he is still a bully who likes to throw his weight around. Punk told HHH to be careful who he pushes because Punk likes to push back.
HHH responded that he does have a massive ego and that ego was telling him to slap the tattoos off Punk. However, HHH said he wouldn’t do that because he took the job for the people and it comes with rules. HHH said he will respect the rules and suggested Punk not break them either. Punk asked what HHH would do, fight Punk or ask his wife for permission. He then left. This was a tremendous opening segment outlining the natural conflict between Punk’s character and HHH’s character.
Beth Phoenix won a battle royal over Tamina, the Bellas, Kaitlyn, A.J., Alicia Fox, Melina, Gail Kim, Natalya, Eve Torres and Rosa Mendes to become number one contender to the women’s title. Kelly Kelly did commentary for the match but the focus was mostly on Michael Cole going crazy. Cole was particularly grating on this show in all the wrong ways. He kept picking these ridiculous fights with Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross over absolutely nothing. At one point, he went on a rant about how people apparently don’t own Persian rugs. He is completely out-of-control and totally counterproductive on commentary.
Eve, Beth and the Bellas were the final four. Eve was eliminated by a Bella. Beth then threw out the Bellas together, which looked impressive. Kelly came in and hugged Beth after the match, but Beth grabbed Kelly by the hair and threw her out of the ring. Beth threw Kelly into the barricade and said Kelly’s days as a perky, cute, little blonde bimbo are over.
Miz and R. Truth spoke backstage. Truth said they are the same. Miz disagreed so Truth tried to convince him. Truth basically pointed out they both have been treated badly and are unhappy with the direction of things.
They did short backstage interviews with HHH, John Cena and CM Punk at different points in the show. Cena said there’s something admirable about someone speaking their mind but if you live by the sword you die by the sword. He said he would be out there for HHH’s decision on the WWE title at the end of the show. HHH said it would be fine if Cena and Punk came out for the decision but that Cena should keep things strictly business. Punk said he hoped HHH would do the right thing given he wrestled Cena at Money in the Bank and won.
R. Truth and Miz beat Rey Mysterio and John Morrison. The heels worked over Mysterio. Morrison got the tag and came in with kicks. He went for starship pain on Truth but Miz pulled Truth out of the way. Mysterio then hit Miz with a pescado. Morrison set up Truth for a 619 with a kick but Miz stopped Mysterio and threw him over the barricade. In the ring, Morrison hit a springboard kick on Miz but Truth then gave Morrison the leaping downward spiral for the win. After the match, Miz hit the skull crushing finale on Morrison and Truth hit Morrison with a water bottle.
Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero came out. Ziggler said nobody in the locker room has his skills or his charisma. That reads like a comedy line but I don’t think it was intended as one. Alex Riley interrupted and basically told Ziggler to stop hiding behind Vickie. Vickie said Ziggler is US champ thanks to her. Riley wanted to know the last time Ziggler accomplished something without her and said Ziggler reminds him of Miz, hiding behind someone else. He suggested Ziggler drop Vickie or be exposed as a bleached blonde arrogant fraud.
Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga beat Zack Ryder and Santino Marella. Otunga and McGillicutty are showing increased confidence as a tag team act. They double teamed Santino and we got “we want Ryder” chants. Ryder got the tag and hit elbows and kicks. He went for the rough rider but McGillicutty escaped. Otunga and McGillicutty then hit what was basically the old Demolition finisher on Ryder for the win. There’s no justification for Ryder getting pinned here rather than Santino when Ryder is building a little momentum.
Alberto Del Rio beat Evan Bourne. Del Rio dominated the match. Bourne went to the top but was caught with an enzuigiri and Del Rio applied the armbar. Bourne did the stupid spot where he just lies there in a fully extended armbar screaming but refusing to tap. Finally he tapped. Del Rio put him in the armbar again after the match until Kofi Kingston made the save. They showed a WWE.com survey where 54 percent of voters said Cena should be champ and 46 percent said Punk should be champ.
HHH came out for the final segment. He said there are two guys with legitimate claims to the WWE title. He was interrupted by John Laurinaitis, who introduced himself as the VP of talent relations. Laurinaitis said HHH has been part of the corporate structure for only a short time while he has been part of that structure over 10 years. He said he knows how Vince would want HHH to handle the situation: strip Cena of the title. That dynamic of the corporate people against Cena rather than Punk is all wrong, although I suspect they’re going to fight that natural extension of this story to the end.
John Cena came out and said Laurinaitis is the yes man Punk was talking about. He said Laurinaitis wants him stripped because he clotheslined Laurinaitis at the pay-per-view. Cena said he is fine with losing the title but he won’t have it stripped of him. He bagged on Laurinaitis and got in a Dynamic Dudes reference. Laurinaitis replied that he made the decision because Punk beat Cena. Cena threatened to attack Laurinaitis and HHH didn’t care so Laurinaitis bailed.
HHH said he wouldn’t strip Cena of the title because Cena’s claim to the title is legitimate. CM Punk came out and thought HHH was going to strip him and go back to the status quo. Cena called HHH Hunter and HHH told him not to because he is the boss. HHH then announced they will settle it at SummerSlam, Punk vs. Cena to crown one champion. Cena and Punk then alternated holding up their titles and they would keep switching the music, which was kind of a goofy finish.
This show was fine. It wasn’t as entertaining as some recent weeks, but not every week can be equally eventful. CM Punk was again the highlight and the opening segment was the highlight of the show. It was kind of boring to focus an entire show building towards such an obvious finish, though. That’s not to suggest they should have done something other than Punk vs. Cena to crown the real champ at SummerSlam, just that it was such a foregone conclusion before the show even started that they didn’t need to spend so much time getting to that simple point. It’s like they went from fast forward to slow motion.