Photo via WWE
There are times when I feel like there aren't enough words in the English language to adequately describe my feelings or thoughts on something. This is most definitely one of those instances.
Raw tonight (Aug. 22) emanated from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and delivered a show that lived up to every expectation ... and even more. Let's get into the bullet point reactions, in order of what occurred throughout the show.
- The opening segment was a bit of a train wreck. Alberto Del Rio comes out to snatch up the heel heat, John Cena follows shortly after and gets a big babyface pop, and somewhat surprisingly, CM Punk quickly follows, adding an unwanted third-wheel dynamic. What followed was even worse, as Cena and Punk engaged in a veritable shouting match over who was going to "cash in" their rematch clause to challenge Del Rio for the title. This didn't come to an end until Triple H, who, by the way, got the biggest pop of all, hit the ring to exert his dominance as the guy who is in charge and put the bickering kiddies in their place, as noted by myself and Major in the Raw live blog comments section. And you wonder why we can be jaded fans worried that Punk will get buried? It's because of decisions like this. He accomplished his goal, though, of setting up Punk vs. Cena for later in the night to determine who would get the next shot at Del Rio at the "Night of Champions" pay-per-view event. Shaky start and questionable decision making on the initial portrayal of Punk and Cena but it was saved at the end.
- Del Rio was immediately inserted into a match against John Morrison, which seemed odd at first, until taking into account the fact that Morrison, much like Daniel Bryan before him, is capable of giving "ADR" an incredible match and making him look like a million bucks in the process. What makes Del Rio so special is that he returns the favor and everyone comes out looking solid while the status quo remains -- Del Rio is the strong champion and Morrison is the mid-card jobber.
- Women wrestled. In related news, I took a piss.
- While I'm not necessarily a big fan of the Vickie Guerrero/Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger dynamic, I at least appreciate the fact that efforts are being made to put together a legitimate story on the undercard. It does, however, remind me of the 2003 feud between Scott Steiner and Test over the services of Stacy Keibler. And then I get sad because we don't have Stacy Keibler on our television sets anymore. Then I get even more sad that her role has been occupied by Vickie Guerrero. Moving along.
- Kevin Nash made his way out to the ring to greet Triple H so we could get a few answers at around the one hour mark of the show and he looked noticeably more refined. He wasn't lumbering as much while he was walking, he didn't look like he was drugged and he didn't slur his speech. What we found out was that Triple H revealed that Nash doesn't work for WWE so he needs to back off CM Punk. Nash went the way of a shoot style promo again by saying he's not tied to any contract and he "doesn't need to get him over," but he kept it in bounds and made it believable. Really, he struck the perfect balance to keep it interesting to casuals. His delivery was phenomenal and on point in the way it used to be. Which leads into ...
- ... CM Punk making his way out for another segment, his second of the night, to confront both Triple H and Kevin Nash. At this point, Triple H had said he didn't send Nash the SummerSlam text and he wanted to be completely transparent on the entire deal. Nash went along with it and that seemed to be that. Which is, of course, a load of bullshit that we, as even moderately intelligent fans, will refuse to buy. Which is why it was brilliant of the WWE to have Punk come out, he who is the "Voice of the Voiceless," and throw dirt on that story. In fact, he even came right out and said what everyone is already thinking anyway: that Stephanie was obviously the one who sent the text and she's the one calling all the shots. He even slipped in a nice one-liner that Steph has Triple H's cell phone in her purse along with his balls. Seriously, there is no one in the professional wrestling industry better on the mic right now than CM Punk. His bringing up all these potential storyline arcs works wonders to keep him as the leader of the resistance because he's giving a clear voice to all the issues the fans are having with the gaping holes in the plot line. The best part of the entire thing, was how free the entire segment flowed, with incredible performances by all. Punk took shots at Stephanie, leading to Triple H making veiled threats but maintaining his role as a suit instead of an active wrestler. Once Punk called Stephanie "bean-headed," it was Nash that finally clobbered him, leading to Triple H to grab him up and send him to the back before telling him he needed to leave altogether because he "couldn't strike people when you don't work here." Nash tells Triple H, "you've changed" before leaving the arena. Awesome delivery on all sides.
There's a whole lot more to get to, so take the jump for reactions to the rest of the evening's events.
- The tag team division may or may not be headed for a revival but it sure got a nice shot in the arm tonight. Lame duck champions David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty lost clean to Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston in a short but exciting match, made even more so by the rowdy and enthusiastic Edmonton crowd. Canada fucking rocks for professional wrestling events, by the way. I'm not terribly keen on the Kingston/Bourne pairing but they weren't going anywhere as singles wrestlers, so why not give them a push in the tag division.
- Adding further thought that a tag team revival is taking place, The Miz and R-Truth came out and declared an allegiance thanks to a common enemy -- the conspiracy in the WWE. Both guys were super intense and the crowd responded accordingly. Both guys played off the crowd as masterfully as has been seen in years, keeping them in the palm of their hand throughout their entire time on TV. Potentially great heel tag team here and exactly the kind of life the tag division needs.
- A backstage segment showing Johnny Laurinaitis telling Triple H that Nash had been in a car accident after he left the arena and was at the hospital set up the night's ending. "The Game," of course, went out to go check on his friend, leaving Laurinaitis in charge. Dun, dun, duuuuhhhhh.
- Raw was already one hell of a show before Punk and Cena hit the ring to have their match. But it was an over the top A++ by the time they were done. Words cannot convey just how much chemistry these two have together. I was one of few that panned the "Money in the Bank" match for its overabundance of botches but they've really smoothed out the edges with how much they've been working together. This was a pay-per-view quality match that was given away on free TV.
- It wasn't a surprise when Kevin Nash came out to cost Punk the match and therefore award Cena the title shot against Alberto Del Rio at "Night of Champions." The finish to the match was a bit anticlimactic but necessary to advance the storyline and that's exactly what it did. As noted previously, WWE needed to sprinkle some crumbs and give us a few bites without giving away the whole cookie. They told us as little as possible while pushing along the program at a solid pace while leaving plenty of questions and possibilities as to where the story is headed. And really, as long as everyone keeps turning in performances like they did tonight, the end of the story won't matter. It's just flat out fun to see it all unfold. The fact that they've done well to keep us guessing, even a little bit, is a testament to the success of the angle so far. Enough with the "Nash sucks, I don't want him back in WWE messing with Punk" talk. This is an incredibly entertaining angle ... if you let it be.
Again, an awesome show with the perfect blend of backstage segments, promos and in-ring action. I'm left wanting a whole lot more and wondering what's in store for next week. Can't ask for anything more than that.
Stay tuned to CagesideSeats.com for all the videos from Raw when they become available. In the meantime, sound off with your thoughts on the show in the comments section below.