Each week, Mary “Queen of the Busted Open Nation” Grater reviews WWE Monday Night Raw. This week, it’s all about the return of the tag team.

BIG SHOW, ORTON AND THE OPEN

Following a week full of rumors, Raw kicked off from jolly ole England on Veteran’s Day with a beautiful video package thanking troops worldwide. (If you didn’t get to thank a veteran Monday, it’s never too late. We should thank them everyday.)

After the video package, the WWE universe was informed by Randy Orton that The Authority (vacation) and the Big Show (injured) wouldn’t be in attendance. Orton proceeded to cut a promo on Show about how he blackmailed his way back into a title match at Survivor Series – but it doesn’t matter because he’ll retain the belt and remain the face of the company. Orton then said he would be in charge of Raw with The Authority away.

Brad Maddox entered, cutting off Orton to remind everyone he is the GM of Raw. That followed with Kane making his ways to the ring, who also argued he was in charge as the company’s new Director of Operations. Maddox booked Orton to face Cody Rhodes; Kane overruled him and booked Orton against Goldust; then Vickie Guerrero interrupted everyone – How does the Smackdown GM have anything to do with this? – and booked Orton in a handicapped match against the Rhodes Brothers.

In what would be the first of many handicapped matches for the night, the tag team champions dominated most of match until Orton, fed up, intentionally counted himself out. He wouldn’t make it back to the locker room, though.

Big Show’s music hit, and he ran out to attack Orton. Show hit Orton with a massive choke slam through the announcers’ table, leaving Orton to get checked out by doctors. (While the choke slam spot was awesome, it’s really turning me off how the “Yes!” chants are now associated with Big Show. It’s just not cool.)

THE UNDERCARDS

  • Los Matadores teamed with Santino Marella and faced off with The Union Jacks – AKA 3MB dressed in British colors. The change didn’t help 3MB as they still lost.
  • Kofi Kingston lost to Damien Sandow.
  • Dolph Ziggler was booked in a match against Curtis Axel for the Intercontinental Championship. Any hopes that Ziggler was out of the doghouse were dashed, as Axel won.
  • Kane and Maddox bickered backstage for control. Maddox booked John Cena in a handicapped match against The Real Americans and Kane booked The Shield vs. Daniel Bryan and CM Punk in a handicapped match for the main event.
  • Tamina Snuka, accompanied by AJ Lee, defeated Nikki Bella. Brie Bella attacked the two after the match to protect her sister.
  • Tyson Kidd lost in his return to singles action on Raw against Fandango. The match was, of course, tied into Total Divas.
  • In a great match, John Cena defeated – no surprise – The Real Americans, despite a distraction from Alberto Del Rio and a healing elbow.
  • ADR attacked Cena after the match, but Big E. Langston ran out to make the save. (Random.) This resulted in Vickie booking Del Rio vs. Big E later on in the night.
  • R-TRUTH defeated Ryback. (Wow.)
  • Alberto Del Rio made Big E Langston tap to the cross-arm breaker.

ORTON AND THE AUTHORITY

Before I get into the highlight of the night – because we all know what that is – the only other parts of Raw that stood out were backstage segments with Randy Orton.

The first one involved Kane, Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox trying to apologize for what happened to Orton during the opening match. Randy wanted nothing of it, and told all of them they would be in serious trouble when Stephanie McMahon and Triple H return from vacation. Kane replied by warning Orton to watch his mouth. (Interesting.)

The second featured The Shield visiting the injured Orton backstage. Orton started to yell at them, questioning where they were when Big Show attacked him. Dean Ambrose told Orton it was none of his business, and Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns continued to tell Orton they don’t work for Vickie, Kane, Brad Maddox or Orton.

This was super important because it reiterated Randy is nothing but a pawn for The Authority. No one is giving him the respect or power he thinks he deserves as the so-called “face” of the company. And I think Randy is starting to realize this. It seems like it won’t be long until The Authority screws Orton over in some way, shape or form.

PAUL, MEET PUNK, AND PANDEMONIUM

Our highlight of the show comes from the usual contributors: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and a returning Paul Heyman.

We pick up with Heyman in the ring, sitting in a wheelchair, flanked by Curtis Axel, discussing his injuries, of course inflicted by our hero Punk. Heyman proceeds to blame Ryback, burying his now-former client. (It speaks volumes that they split up Heyman and Ryback, and NOT Heyman and Axel.)

Heyman then says he’ll be back with a vengeance – Brock Lesnar foreshadowing, maybe? – when Punk’s music hits. Punk proceeds to take out Axel, then breaks out the kendo stick to inflict more pain on Heyman. Daniel Bryan’s music then starts, and we’re set up for the main event. (I find the rumors hilarious that they are pushing “big” guys again when week in and week out, the two guys delivering the best stuff on WWE TV are the “small” indy darlings)

We’re treated to an incredible match between Punk, Bryan and The Shield. But just when it looks like Ambrose is going to tap to the Anaconda Vise, The Wyatts’ “sound” hits and the arena goes black. When the lights come on we see Harper and Rowan on one side of the ring, Punk and Bryan on the other, with Rollins and Ambrose in between them.

Punk brilliantly pushes Rollins into Harper and gets out of the way, eventually leading to a confrontation between the two factions. After a tussle, Bray gains control and reminds the two teams they have common enemies: Punk and Bryan. They then turn their attention to our heroes on the outside.

Just as The Wyatts and The Shield start to attack Punk and Bryan, though, The Rhodes Brothers (random) and The Usos (even more random) come out for the save. The baby faces clear the ring and stand tall to close the show.

WWE clearly is putting a lot of stock into their tag-team division heading into Survivor Series. And they better hope it sells, because the WWE championship story line is falling flat in comparison.

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