Heading into last night’s edition of Monday Night Raw, I was looking forward to seeing what havoc the Season One NXT Rookies would wreak next. After last week’s vicious attack on WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon, the group had a week’s reprieve as the new, anonymous, General Manager of Raw said that they would be dealt with next week. The Nexus (as they are now known) leader Wade Barrett was absent from the show as he was waiting to meet with WWE officials at the company’s Stamford, Connecticut headquarters.
I was pretty amped up for the night’s first appearance of Nexus…quite honestly, the rest of the show had become secondary to me. However, there was also some business at hand as the WWE has its upcoming “Money in the Bank” pay-per-view to promote. Ultimately, I enjoyed the two hours, and the tone of the show was set early.
The new GM was still communicating via e-mails which were being read by announcer Michael Cole. Amusingly, there was a podium set up next to the broadcaster’s table at ringside with a sign that said “Raw General Manager” and contained the laptop that Cole read from.
I am more convinced than ever after last night that Cole is the new GM. He had a bit of an edge to him as he read each e-mail in a commanding tone…it was similar to the heel announcer persona he took on during the first season of NXT.
In the opening segment, John Cena challenged WWE Champion Sheamus to team up for one night so that they could take down The Nexus together. Just when it looked as though Sheamus might do it, a lengthy e-mail (and the GM is one damn fast typist, by the way) was read by Cole. It prohibited any attacks by Nexus members on anyone on the WWE roster and vice versa. Nexus members would be fired while those on the WWE roster would face suspensions.
That didn’t stop the Nexus from going on the offensive though, as they quickly exploited a loophole (seems WWE didn’t extend the protection to ALL of its employees). First to get attacked was a technician backstage as the group was being interviewed by Josh Mathews (who came perilously close to also being made an example of). However, their most vicious moment was yet-to-come.
WWE Hall of Famer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat was called out to the ring by Jerry “The King” Lawler to celebrate the release of his new career-retrospective DVD set. A couple of other legends in Dean Malenko, Arn Anderson, Mike Rotundo, and Michael “PS” Hayes joined Steamboat in the ring to offer congratulations.
The festivities were short-lived though as The Nexus soon surrounded the ring and took the men out one-by-one until Steamboat was left alone in the ring. He ultimately suffered the same fate as John Cena and Mr. Mc Mahon. It was another vicious beatdown culminating in Justin Gabriel’s 450 splash off the top rope. Steamboat was removed from the ring by stretcher.
The two most interesting things about the attack were that Michael Cole once again disappeared from ringside (and the fact that there’s no commentary during these attacks lends a more dangerous air to things); and that no member of the WWE roster risked being suspended to save the legends. Surely, someone could’ve done the right thing. As usual the Nexus drew tremendous heat from the Philadelphia crowd.
This angle is still mega-hot. I am really interested to see what action, if any is taken against the group next week by the new GM. The beatdowns of John Cena, Bret Hart, Vince McMahon, and now a group of wrestling legends have served to make the Nexus look vicious and calculating. But someone needs to step up and retaliate somehow.
There are so many questions still left to be answered. Who is the anonymous General Manager? Has Daniel Bryan really been fired? Are all of the Nexus members really still in this together? Some members screamed at Justin Gabriel to hit the 450 splash on Ricky Steamboat as Gabriel paused on the top rope for what seemed like an eternity. He also continued to glance back at the ring as the group walked off together, post-attack.
I am still in awe of how WWE took a mediocre group of wrestlers from a mediocre show and created monsters. I am buying it with the proverbial “hook, line, and sinker.” I can’t wait to see what the Nexus will do next. Perhaps an unintended consequence is that I have yet to care about any of the Season Two NXT rookies. It was a good idea to separate the first season crew from the new crop by giving the heel group an official name.
While the Nexus angle did overshadow last night’s show a little bit, there were still some storylines advanced in an entertaining show. For one, Sheamus will face John Cena in a steel cage match at MITB.
Also, each brand will have its own Money in the Bank Ladder match at the PPV. Last night, the eight Raw participants (Miz, Morrison, Orton, Di Biase, R-Truth, Jericho, Edge, and Evan Bourne) competed in a fun eight-man tag team match which culminated in Orton getting the win for his team and then ending the show atop the ladder while posing with the briefcase.
WWE reminded us last night that it’s now been just under a year since the guest hosts started (woo-hoo!). Check out the list if you have a chance and see just how (un) memorable some of them were (I already forgot about Flavor Flav, and that was just a few weeks ago). Rob Zombie’s involvement last night was thankfully kept to a minimum.
Last night’s Raw followed up nicely on several levels, and even got me interested in the next PPV a little earlier than usual.
Later this week…Mid-Season report cards for the WWE (think “The Slammys” minus the bad comedy).
Sirius XM listeners can catch me on the “Busted Open” radio show which has a new home…Sirius 125/XM 241. We’re live on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2-4PM, Eastern with various replays throughout the week. Listener participation is always encouraged…join us at 866-522-2846.
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Written by Pete Copeland