Professional wrestling and I have an interesting relationship. As a middle schooler, I could not get enough of the Stone Cold-Kurt Angle rivalry, and smelling what The Rock was cookin’ was not an option, but a lifestyle. Once the People’s Champion left the WWE to pursue a full-time movie career, my interest waned. But it was never permanent. Every so often, I would see a commercial for a pay-per-view and wonder, “who are these guys?”, and I would be hooked for a few months. Today, I am by no means a wrestling fanatic, but I watch a few minutes of Raw every week and purchase WrestleMania with my college buddies every year; just enough to keep Mr. McMahon in business.
When I saw that Raw was coming to Baltimore, it was a no-brainer; I had to go. Prior to last night, I had never been to a WWE production, and from what I gather, I was spoiled rotten last night. Not only was it a great show, but that fact that it was the last episode of Raw prior to this Sunday’s “Money in the Bank” pay-per-view made it even more intriguing. While we all love to hate former Raw general manger Vicki Guerrero, there were some great matches that captivated the crowd and kept me in my seat.
Daniel Bryan def. Sheamus
This match featured two of the All-Stars in this Sunday’s pay-per-view. The opening match did not disappoint, and it was neat to hear the split crowd cheer for their favorite superstar. Any time you can get to hear thousands of drunk people yelling “Yes!” at the top of their lungs, it is a good night. In fact, I think I saw Glenn Clark raising his personal WWE title belt to the raucous chants…
Chris Jericho def. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel (non-title match)
With The Miz providing commentary at ringside, Jericho and Axel delivered a well executed match that could have gone either way. When Jericho knocked Axel out of the ring, Miz got up from his seat and taunted the intercontinental champion. After Axel’s manager Paul Heyman prevent him from retaliating, Jericho hit Axel with the Code Breaker to end his night. I have fond memories of watching Chris Jericho from my middle school days, so seeing him all these years later was a long time coming. Hearing Axel’s theme music, a jazzed up version of his father’s, was also neat. While Jericho is not what he used to be, I still found him to be wildly entertaining, and his constant attempts to pump up the crowd during the match was well-received.
CM Punk def. Randy Orton (Main Event)
It is no secret that Punk and Orton are two of the best wrestlers in the company, and all that was missing was a title. The crowd was once again split, which made the the match even more compelling. Punk was able to hit the GTS on Orton and win the match, but Daniel Bryan came in post-match to prove his dominance. After tangling with Punk, Bryan then grabbed a ladder from under the ring, and hit Orton with it before grabbing the briefcase hanging above the ring. With Bryan hoisting the briefcase on Monday, you have to wonder if that will be the case on Sunday. For what it’s worth, my money is on Rob Van Dam. His return to the WWE has been highly advertised, and any time that a ladder is involved, RVD is a safe bet.
John Cena def. Ryback (Tables Match, Retains WWE Championship)
Those who stayed in their seats after Raw went off of the USA network were rewarded the real main event of the night. While I am not going to complain about a match that featured one of the greatest of all time, I was upset that they made this a title match. With Cena set to face Mark Henry for the championship on Sunday, the WWE Universe knew that it was only a matter of time before Cena put Ryback through a table. I was impressed with Ryback’s mobility, and if he can develop his skills on the microphone, I believe that he could be a championship contender for years to come.