KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT 7/25: Live blog covering WWE Title Tournament Finale, Triple H takeover storyline
By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT
JULY 25, 2011
LIVE ON USA NETWORK
1 -- THE MIZ vs. REY MYSTERIO -- WWE Title Tournament Finales
-They worked hard at the start to get across this being a big deal, pushing harder than I can remember in a while that this Raw was sold out. In fact, Michael Cole went so far as to say "no matter what else is happening in America," nothing is more important than this, an apparent reaction to President Obama addressing the nation live regarding the impasse with Congress over the raising of the debt ceiling. They also showed an assembly of most or all active WWE wrestlers backstage, watching the match on a monitor, which was a nice tough to get across this being a big deal.
-When the match began, a loud "Miz is Awesome!" chant rang out. Jerry Lawler gave Cole a hard time for being biased in favor of his friend, Miz. Cole said he is his friend, but it doesn't cloud his judgment. He made the case that Miz would make a good representative for WWE as he dresses well, among other attributes. He said Rey wears a mask and he wouldn't be good when on talk shows because people couldn't see his face. Lawler said Cole was really reaching tonight.
-Rey went down favoring his knee a minute into the match. Miz took control from there.
-WWE apparently believes their viewers are tempted to watch a political address instead of Raw, as Lawler said: "There's a lot of talk in the world on the country defaulting, but to Rey Mysterio this match and the opportunity to become the WWE Champion is the most important thing in the world right now." Cole agreed.
-When the younger and female fans began chanting "Miz is Awful!", Cole mistakenly said they were again chanting "Miz is Awesome." Lawler correct him. They cut to a break at 5:00. [c]
-Back from the break Rey made a comeback and scored a near fall. Miz came back and also scored a near fall. Miz ducked a Rey 619 and then slingshot powerbombed Rey for a believable near fall at 11:00. Miz showed frustration.
WINNER: Rey in 13:00 to capture the WWE World Hvt. Championship.
STAR RATING: **1/2 -- Good basic match. There's a certain level of competency and uniformity storytelling between wrestlers the level of these two that they're going to reach, and they reached it, but also a sense of routine and the expected that keeps it from being anything remarkable or "must-see," to use Miz's language.
-Afterward a hobbling Miz jumped Rey from behind. Cole said you can't blame Miz for blowing his stack. Alberto Del Rio ran out with the Money in the Bank briefcase. "You've gotta be kidding me," said Lawler. Before the match began, Rey slingshot himself over the top rope onto him. Del Rio grabbed his briefcase and retreated.
-Cole hyped that the new Chief Operating Officer of WWE would address WWE fans with a State of the WWE address later. Somebody on this show needs to address whether Triple H has retired as an active wrestler. Ignoring that has to irk a lot of viewers who last saw him competing against Undertaker at WrestleMania without any indication he was outright retiring. [c]
-Rey was showered with champaign backstage by fellow babyfaces. John Cena approached him and shook his hand. Someone in WWE should address why John Cena was excluded from the tournament considering he was the former champion who never got a rematch. Sure, that was a grudge decision by VInce McMahon, but he never got around to firing him, so shouldn't Triple H address that? I'm sure he will, but shouldn't the announcers be addressing that purple elephant so it doesn't seem like they're oblivious or part of some exclusionary con. Josh Mathews then asked Rey about winning the WWE Title for the first time. Rey said it's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll. He said he made sacrifices, lonely nights on the road without his children and wife, and everyone makes sacrifices to get what they want. He said to his family he's on his way home, but this time with the gold.
-Cole and Lawler threw to a video recap of Triple H becoming WWE COO. Lawler said his ascension came at the expense of his father-in-law. Interesting choice of words. We still don't know if this is just writing the Vince McMahon character off time indefinitely, or chapter one in setting up a struggle for power between Vince and Hunter.
-The video package aired with dramatic piano music in the background that reminds me of the soundtrack of the movie "The Firm" from 1993. For some reason Triple H saying "I love you, pop" was left in the package, even though it seems everyone agrees that was a corniest, weakest part of an otherwise well constructed and executed exchange. Maybe it's a valuable piece of the ongoing plot, or maybe it's in defiance or ignorance of the negative reaction to that line.
-Clips aired of Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston at Capitol Punishment.
2 -- DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Vickie Guerrero) vs. EVAN BOURNE
-ZIggler came out to a new remix of his entrance song. Again, no acknowledgment by the announcers. It's a small thing, but what is stopping them from seeming like they're in-depth with the thoughts of the fans. It just seems like something obviously worth addressing briefly. Ziggler wore a t-shirt that said "I Am Perfection." Ziggler has people with significant influence behind the scenes in WWE who see a lot in him, including one with great influence with McMahon who says he's "the next Shawn Michaels." They seem to be looking for ways to find that magic presentation that will get him to that next level.
-Lawler said Dolph is "arm candy" for Vickie.
-Cole noted that Evan Bourne was at one point a V.P. for a mailbox company. "Quite frankly. he has the personality of an envelope." Comments like that are completely unnecessary, although it probably is fed to him by Vince McMahon who is frustrated with Bourne's promo skills. Lawler made a political quip that "if Obama gets his way" there will only mail delivery three days a week.
-Ziggler applied a sleeper at 4:00. Bourne faded and the ref called for the bell. He yelled afterward, while holding up the U.S. Title belt, "This stays with me!" He added on the stage, "I dare someone to follow that!" Ziggler is very enthusiastic backstage, especially relative to other wrestlers who sometimes approach waiting for their match like they're in line at the DMV, and it seems he's trying to convey that on TV now.
WINNER: Ziggler via submission at 4:00. Good action, as you'd expect with these two. [c]
-As Eve argued with the Bella Twins backstage, the Keystone Beer goof offered some advice. As he began writng something on Bri's arm, Eve pretended to hold back her sister, the camera panned away. As the camera panned back, it revealed an elaborate tattoo on Bella's arm. Eve said he's so smooth. He said "always." The crowd laughed and applauded. Sponsored slapstick. Ugh. Cole said the Bells were so embarrassed, they decided to leave the building.
3 -- EVE TORRES & KELLY KELLY vs. MELINA & MARYSE
-Lawler on Kelly: "If good looks were a crime, she'd be on death row."
-Cole plugged that the Triple H speech on the State of the WWE was up next. Lawler said that is one political speech that "won't be boring." He's been on Raw live during Obama and John Boehner's speeches, so someone fed him that line to rip on the addresses earlier.
-Kelly rubbed her butt in Eve's face in the corner. Lawler said that's not the worst thing that could happen to him.
-Lawler on Kelly: "She looks like my fourth wife... I've only been married three times."
WINNERS: Kelly & Eve in 2:00.
-A camera caught R-Truth chatting up Triple H backstage in a hallway. Lawler said they've confirmed Triple H will announce "a blockbuster return to WWE tonight." Cole said he hopes it's the guy who walked out of WWE with the title last week. Lawler stopped short of saying his complete name. [c]
-A Smackdown add hyped Mark Henry's "remorseless rampage' and "path of destruction." Very generic. Hardly a hook to tune in.
-Cole announced that Cee Lo Green will perform live at SummerSlam.
-Triple H made his full ring intro with his usual song, but wearing a suit this time. Under the suit, he looks slimmed down quite a bit. Triple H said first he wanted to get something off of his chest and why they are all there tonight and why WWE is the global success that it is and acknowledge why there are millions watching around the world and live in the packed arena. He said it's due to one man's vision, one man's pure genius. "From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Vince," he said. He said now that he's in charge, he's going to do things that have never been done before. He said for the first time ever, there will be a second WWE Title match. He said he's spoken to both men and they agree this has to happen - Rey Mysterio vs. John Cena. He noted that Cena was unfairly kept from his deserved rematch. Cole said "Oh my God" like that decision was anything but obvious.
Triple H said "this is fun." He said there is someone everyone agrees should be back on Raw. A loud "C.M. Punk" chant broke out. He said he reached out and resigned him last week. He asked the fans to welcome him back to Raw. Out walked Jim Ross. They showed Cole with his head buried in his face in his hands. Lawler told Cole to welcome him back. Ross reached out for a handshake. Cole refused. Cole stepped onto the announce table and said Triple H likes to talk about the future, but Ross represents the walking dead. Cole said he has done everything asked of him in recent months, including putting Lawler's foot in his mouth. He said he would do anything for WWE except work next to "this fat hayseed" J.R. He called him, "Two-faced, I mean, one-faed Oklahoma Redneck." Cole asked if he needs the money because his restaurant went belly up. He asked if he ate all the profits. He said he spent a career kissing Mr. McMahon's ass and now he's going to do the same to Triple H. Triple H stood in the ring and listened patiently. Cole said Ross's ego couldn't handle sitting at home. He said only his gut is bigger than his ego. He said he will not in that chair. "I can not stand him!" he exclaimed.
Triple H asked, "Are you done? You almost blew out your O-ring there." Triple H said he knew he'd be upset, which is why his first inclination was to fire him and bring J.R. back. He said he looked into his contract and it would cost more to fire him than keep him. He said if he does breach his contract he will squander all future earnings he would have. He said he's going to give him the rest of the night off from commentary. He said he has until Friday to show up for Smackdown. If not, he'll wish him well in his future endeavors. Cole said he will not quit under any circumstances. He said he will sit down and do his job the rest of the night. Triple H said he shouldn't sit back down because he's been relieved from commentary the rest of the night. He said if he sits down, he will probably be late for his match. The crowd laughed. Cole said he's retired and his gear is in the Hall of Fame. Triple H said he gave him the night off from commentary and he prepared him with official ring gear waiting for him in the back. "I mean, that is unless you want to quit." Cole protested to Triple H as he walked to the back."
R-Truth walked out as Cole walked to the back. He said Triple H has been part of the conspiracy since day one, and now he's the top man in WWE. Truth said Little Jimmy cost him his match at Capitol Punishment. He said spiders and heights cost him the Money in the Bank ladder match. He asked what Triple H will do to rectify the conspiracy against The Truth. Hunter asked if he's talking to other guys. Truth said there are no other guys. Triple H pretended to talk to invisible people about Truth needing his meds. Truth said, "Man, you're crazy. You're talking to people who don't exist." The crowd laughed along. Truth said, "You might be The Game, but I'm not playing." As Truth walked to the back, Hunter said, "Stop, all of you." Triple H stole Al Snow's gimmick and began talking to invisible people. He said he re-signed someone who wants to speak with him. Out walked John Morrison. Truth took a swing. Morrison blocked it and knocked him down. Morrison dove onto the steps at ringside and launched himself at a fleeing Truth at ringside. In the ring Morrison hit Starship Pain. Truth rolled to the floor as Morrison's music played.
WK REAX: They sure put J.R. in a rough spot as a lot of fans were expecting and anticipated C.M. Punk. Yet I didn't sense it was exactly a letdown when J.R. walked out. If they let J.R. keep that spot, it addressing a major issue with WWE - which is having a strong voice selling storylines, enhancing matches, and just as importantly, providing that long-missing moral compass to point out when heels are cheating and why those actions make them worth booing, and why playing the rules is honorable because it's the only fair way to determine who the best is. Those who resent how valuable Ross is to WWE's broadcasts can script in all of those insults Cole threw his way, but Ross knows the biggest compliment is that in a time of need, he was asked back.
-Lawler hyped Cole vs. a mystery opponent was up next. Ross hyped Rey Mysterio vs. John Cena.
4 -- MICHAEL COLE vs. ZACH RYDER
-Cole walked to the ring in Triple H's ring trunks. Cole walked out imitating Triple H, with the bottle of water and the stick-up-his-butt bow-legged walk. Cole pretended to have trouble stepping up onto the ring apron. Then he sprayed more water out of his mouth Triple H-style. Well, it more or less dribbled out.
-You knew this was coming. Triple H, playing up to the Social Mediasphere, would include Ryder on his first show. Ross said Ryder's only wrestled on Raw once before, but he's an Internet Sensation.
-Ryder rejected Cole's handshake offer and then beat him with his Rough Rider (which was Rey Mysterio's name for the X-Pac Bronco Buster).
WINNER: Ryder in 1:00.
-Lawler plugged Cena vs. Rey was up later. [c]
5 -- KOFI KINGSTON vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO
-At 2:00 they cut to a break as Del RIo retreated to regroup at ringside. [c]
-Del Rio was in control after the break.
-They exchanged near falls on a roll-up by Del Rio and a roll-through by Kofi. Del RIo saved himself by grabbing the bottom rope before three. Seconds later he applied the cross armbreaker for the win. Ross called the cross armbreaker a "difference maker."
WINNER: Del Rio in 7:00. [c]
-A commercial for Smackdown hyped that Triple H will return to Smackdown this week. Now that's more of a hook and actual news, rather than the promo earlier declaring Mark Henry would be present as always. Interesting that the anonymous G.M. hasn't been addressed at all. Why not just fire him?
-Ross plugged that Smackdown has been the no. 1 show on SyFy since it moved there.
-Mathews interviewed The Miz backstage as he Miz finished putting on his street clothes. Miz said Cena is the person who got them into this mess in the first place by losing to "the man whose name we shall not mention." Miz said things have gone from bad to worse now that Triple H is in charge. He said Mr. McMahon was going to fire Cena for all the right reasons, but now Triple H has brought back a loser like Jim Ross. He then complained that the face of their company is now someone with no face. "How is that going to work when he does his magazine covers and talk show interviews?" he said. He pushed that he is the most must-see WWE Champion of all time, not Rey or Cena. He said what's happening next is a huge mistake.
6 -- REY MYSTERIO vs. JOHN CENA -- WWE Championship Match
-As Rey made his full ring entrance, a clip aired of Rey beating Miz earlier in the night.
-Cena's full ring entrance then took place. Mixed reaction from the crowd. Lawler said he's the most controversial athlete in the history of WWE. Really? Maybe the most polarizing, but he's hardly controversial compared to many others over the years including Steve Austin himself.
-Ross said he wanted to but wasn't allowed to mention the individual's name who won the WWE Title and then walked out. Punk is the Cenk Ungur of WWE!
-Cena took a charging Rey down with a clothesline at ringside at 4:00. "Now that was a slobber-knocker!" said Ross.
-Lawler said he likes this match because Cena hadn't thrown one punch yet.
-Cena blocked a 619 and then cement-bag slammed Rey for a near fall.
-At 9:00 Rey applied an STF on Cena after a reversal on the mat. Cena showed signs of fading, but then he stood up with Rey on his back. Cena tried to convert Rey into position for an Attitude Adjustment, but his leg gave out and he collapsed. Rey then hit Cena with a 619. When Rey went for the dive off the top rope, Cena lifted his knees. Cena grasped his knee as Rey tried to catch his breath.
-Cena shoved Rey to the mat when he blocked a huracanrana and attempted to turn it into a powerbomb. It was awkward enough that ref Charles Robinson moved in quickly to confirm Rey was okay.
-Cena leaped off the top rope and hit Rey with a legdrop for a near fall. Cena lifted Rey for a 619, but Rey escaped and kicked Cena into position for a 619. Cena got up, though, and surprised Rey with a 619 for the win.
WINNER: Cena in 13:00.
STAR RATING: **3/4 - Well, Christian no longer owns the bragging rights for having the shortest title reign of the year. Rey won't be bringing the gold back to his family after all. Is all that sacrifice really worth it, after all, if he's forced to wrestle twice in one night on short notice to defend his newly won title?
-Cena helped Rey to his feet after the match. Rey collapsed. Then "Cult of Personlity" music played. Cena looked around confused for nearly a minute. Then Punk walked onto the stage wearing the WWE Title belt. He got a mixed reaction, although tough to tell with the volume of the music. He walked to the ring with is arms out.
-Cena held his title belt in the air to get a crowd reaction. Then Punk did so as the music played and the show ended without any additional commentary from the announcers.
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