With less than two weeks to go until SummerSlam, WWE has continued to build on the Nexus vs. RAW angle that’s been going on for the past few months. As opposed to some of their past angles that either fizzled or just went no where, this angle has continued to keep my interest and has not been as predictable as most WWE booking is.
Last night’s RAW started with Edge cutting a promo telling everyone that he was going to be the one to take out Nexus by challenging Wade Barrett to a match. Edge says he’s tired of listening to everyone else and is going to start to listen to himself. He says he’ll beat Barrett all by himself and tells the rest of his team to stay away. Of course, someone has to answer that and out comes R-Truth.
Truth calls Edge out and says Edge should listen to Cena and be a team player (good stuff from Truth – actually cutting a promo and not rapping during it). Edge, of course, won’t listen and threatens to spear Truth if he doesn’t leave. The anonymous GM sends an email to Michael Cole saying that Edge will face Barrett and that it will be on his own. Truth leaves and out comes Barrett.
The Edge/Barrett match wasn’t a four-star affair (despite his big push, Barrett is still kind of green in the ring), but it did show the fans getting behind Edge. With Edge gaining the upper hand, Barrett called out the rest of Nexus, and Edge ran like a scalded dog (TM Jim Ross) into the crowd.
When we come back from break, Edge is looking for John Cena. When Edge finds Cena, he asks the supposed leader of Team WWE where he was while Edge was going it alone. This was a great heelish thing for Edge to do – calling out Cena for not interfering in the match after Edge said he could do it by himself. Cena, of course, said he was respecting Edge’s wishes by staying in the back. They go back and forth before Edge decides to quit Team WWE, much to Cena’s consternation.
As Edge leaves, the camera pans over to reveal a smirking Chris Jericho (few wrestlers can convey as much with facial expressions as Y2J). Jericho does his usual “blame Cena” spiel before eventually challenging Cena to a match – loser is no longer on Team WWE. Cena accepts, but you can tell that he’s not happy about it.
Another development happens when John Morrison tries to get through to the Great Khali (on the “not annoying” list for two straight weeks, a new record) saying that Team WWE needs to be like the Magnificent Seven – united as one. Khali responds by saying something about the Seven Dwarves, causing Morrison to walk away. Enter Michael Tarver and David Otunga who plant more seeds with Khali. They claim that Cena will kick him off Team WWE if Khali loses to Ted DiBiase later on. They also offer him a place in Nexus where he’ll always be respected. Khali says nothing, but the wheels are turning.
Up next is a 6 Diva tag match that actually didn’t suck. It was short and relatively action packed. Natalya Neidhart has some skills, and I think she’s being wasted as the Hart Dynasty’s manager. As for Tamina… well, um, y’see… let’s hope she can get over with her in-ring skills because she’s not exactly what I’d call a looker. But maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, after Alicia Fox wins the match for her team, she cuts a promo saying how she’s beaten every Diva on RAW in every kind of match and that she’s the greatest champion of all time (or something to that affect). Cue Melina’s music. Melina’s been on the shelf pretty much all year, so it was good to see her back. Melina hit the ring and took out Alicia with the Sunset Split, yelling “I’m back!” as she did. My only hope is that Melina can actually stay healthy for an extended period of time because she’s clearly the most talented Diva (in and out of the ring) on RAW.
Next up is an old-fashioned squash match between Sheamus and Goldust. It’s a shame that Goldust has become a jobber to the stars, but hey, it pays the bills. After finishing off Goldust with the High Cross (a crucifix powerbomb for those of you keeping score at home), Sheamus cuts a killer promo saying how far he’s come in the past year and how he did it all himself – he didn’t need a briefcase and isn’t a third-generation star. Good stuff here – I’m not the biggest Sheamus fan and was puzzled when he got the push he did, but he’s worked really hard to become a solid wrestler and is improving on the mic. His program with Randy Orton and The Miz has been a welcome co-main event to the ongoing Nexus angle.
The outcome of the Cena/Jericho match that followed was never in question, but I was curious to see how it would be carried out. The match itself was top notch – a very good TV match, but I expect that from Cena and Jericho. The pair has wrestled one another so many times now that I think they could have a good match in their sleep. The best part of the match was how Cole and Lawler put over how Cena’s heart wasn’t in the match. It was refreshing to hear announcers actually putting over an angle by analyzing a match. JR used to do this all the time, but Cole rarely (if ever) does. The actual ending was a bit unexpected as Jericho tapped out before Cena could actually lock in the STF, meaning that Jericho had to leave Team WWE.
Jericho left to a chorus of boos. Cena got on the mic and tried to talk Jericho into rejoining the team. Once again, Jericho’s “conflicted” facial expressions sold the bit, but of course, he walked away in the end. Team WWE is down to five members.
In the back, Edge and Jericho have a heart-to-heart and finally make up (awww…). It’s a mutual admiration society as each says he respects the other for leaving Cena in the dust. Then the mystery GM pipes up and announces a match for next week – Cena and Bret Hart (still mysteriously absent) vs. Edge and Jericho in a lumberjack match. The lumberjacks will be the Nexus. That should be interesting - though I expect that the remaining members of Team WWE will also end up as lumberjacks.
Cut to the always-smiling Josh Matthews with Randy Orton. Since Orton went face his promos have still been top notch. He’s much calmer and more matter-of-fact. He knows how good he is. He also knows how over he is. Orton as a heel had been growing very stale, and his face turn has been probably the best executed face turn WWE has pulled off in a long time. I expect him to hold the WWE Title before the year is out.
I pity Ted DiBiase having to job to the Great Khali, but it did further the whole is Khali going to side with Nexus storyline when Khali used the Vise Grip to defeat DiBiase after Barrett and Skip Sheffield distracted the Fortunate Son. The match was short and to the point, but I really hope that DiBiase eventually gets a decent push, even though I’ve soured on him since Legacy split up.
It’s main event time – Randy Orton vs. The Miz. As usual, Miz cuts a killer promo before the match, saying that his time has come and that he will be WWE champion, because he’s the Miz, and well, you know the rest. Have I mentioned how I’ve done a complete 180 on the Miz? I used to loathe him, and now I see him as the future of WWE. His promos are among the best on the roster, and he’s gotten so much better in the ring that I can’t even believe he’s the same guy who was buried on ECW in tag team matches.
The match itself was a good back and forth affair that saw Orton get the win with the RKO after ducking a Miz lariat. Sheamus tried a run-in at the end, but he retreated when Orton dropped into the Viper pose.
All in all, while it wasn’t as good of a show as the past few weeks had been, last night’s RAW still managed to build momentum going into SummerSlam. John Cena’s dream team appears to be down two members, making the main event match a 7-on-5 affair. Of course, I don’t believe for a minute that Team WWE vs. The Nexus will be anything less than 7-on-7. But who those 7 members of Team WWE will be is up for debate.
Part of me thinks this whole “dissention in the ranks” act is all part of one massive swerve by Cena, Edge, Jericho, et al (maybe orchestrated behind the scenes by Vince McMahon?) to lull the Nexus into a false sense of security. Nexus comes into the match overconfident, expecting Cena’s team to be in disarray and down (at least) two members only to end up facing a team that’s not only unified but is also at full strength. That would be an awesome pay off to everything that’s been going on the past few weeks, but I really don’t think it will play out that way. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Vince does return to RAW next week to force Edge and Jericho to be on the team.
Another way I see this possibly playing out is that there could be a surprise or two in store for the Nexus at SummerSlam. Maybe Triple H’s current injury is a work, and he’ll be a surprise member of Team WWE. Or maybe a mid-card heel will step up to the plate and into a main event slot (ala Lex Luger’s surprise face turn and subsequent mega-push many years ago). I could see someone like Zack Ryder put into this spot, as he’s been off TV lately but is in line for a push.
Honestly, I really have no idea what’s going to happen, and that’s a good thing. For years, I’ve been bemoaning how predictable WWE booking is, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how well executed the Nexus angle has been up until now. Let’s just hope the payoff is as good as the build up has been.