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Raw: Build for Hell in a Cell gets off to a good start

WWE followed up a rather ordinary Night of Champions pay-per-view Sunday night with a hot episode of Raw on Monday.

I thought everything clicked on this show, from the opening verbal exchange between Randy Orton and Sheamus to the closing gauntlet match that pitted John Cena versus The Nexus. In between, there was a strong segment with The Miz and Daniel Bryan, another good John Morrison-Chris Jericho match and more.

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Because the next pay-per-view – Hell in a Cell on Oct. 3 – is less than two weeks away, there was a refreshing sense of urgency in the pacing of the show, and the enthusiastic crowd in Indianapolis also helped to make the program entertaining.

As expected, the pay-per-view will feature new WWE champion Orton against Sheamus in a Hell in a Cell match, and Cena versus Wade Barrett. The stipulations for the latter are that if Barrett wins, Cena has to join Nexus, and if Cena wins, Nexus has to disband.

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Other thoughts on Monday's show:

It turned out that the reports on various wrestling websites that said Jericho had wrestled his last match in WWE at Night of Champions were incorrect. Based on Jericho's cryptic comments on Twitter after NOC, I really wasn't surprised to see him on Raw. However, I don't think you'll see Jericho in WWE – at least for a little while – after his appearance on next week's Raw, when he faces Orton in a non-title match. Orton pretty much guaranteed that he was going to put Jericho out of action, and it's no secret that Jericho's band, Fozzy, is embarking on an overseas tour in October. …

Morrison put on another strong in-ring performance in his victory over Jericho. Before the match, Morrison was shown backstage doing one-armed pushups off a wall. Playing up Morrison's impressive conditioning and even something as subtle as Morrison growing a beard have helped to get him over as a more intense character. If he can ever find his voice on the mic, he has a chance to be a superstar. …

I know some fans and critics are going to complain that The Nexus was buried in their gauntlet match against Cena, but I thought it was well-booked. First, Cena pinned Heath Slater; then he beat David Otunga with a small package after Otunga spent too much time showboating when he had the advantage; and then he made Michael Tarver – who was noticeably limping and had his upper leg wrapped – tap out to the STF. Before a decision could be rendered between Cena and Justin Gabriel, the other Nexus members interfered, so Cena won by DQ. It all seemed perfectly logical to me. Let's not forget that Cena is a nine-time world champion and one of the biggest stars in the industry, while The Nexus guys were all "rookies" on NXT not that long ago. Slater certainly shouldn't beat Cena in a fair fight; Otunga's inexperience and cockiness cost him; and Tarver could barely walk, so of course he was easily taken out. As for Gabriel, he held his own with the weakened Cena before the outside interference. And the DQ was necessary since the point was to hold off Cena versus Barrett until the pay-per-view. …

Cena and Barrett both handled themselves well on the mic at the end of the show. …

Cena used a dropkick for the second night in a row. Take that, haters. …

Orton did a nice job in the opening segment of playing to the crowd while still maintaining his edge. The subtle smile was a nice touch. …

The Miz showed great intensity during the beat-down he and Alex Riley administered to Bryan after Bryan's match against Edge. Miz got a ton of heat from the crowd and the segment got Bryan over as an underdog babyface. …

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I like that Bryan is portrayed as a geeky guy outside the ring but someone to be reckoned with inside it, but WWE has to be careful not to go overboard with Bryan's geekiness. I think having him use "Ride of the Valkyries" as his entrance music is taking it a step too far. Bring back the generic metal music. …

When The Miz was discussing whether poor officiating had anything to do with him losing the U.S. title to Bryan at NOC, he said, "I don't like to complain about referees. I'm not Ray Lewis." Normally, I would rush to the defense of a Baltimore Ravens player (especially when the person taking a shot at him is from Cleveland), but I won't do it this time. For one thing, I thought Lewis came off like a sore loser by complaining about the officials after Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals when he should have been pointing the finger at his team's lackluster offense. And secondly, The Miz can say whatever he wants because he's The Miz, and he's … awesome! …

The anonymous Raw general manager overturning Edge's win over Bryan and awarding the decision to Bryan by disqualification would seem to indicate that noted Bryan-basher Michael Cole is not the mystery man. …

Speaking of Cole, he was pretty funny when he was ragging on The Hart Dynasty's brutally bad commentary during the match that saw new WWE tag team champions Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes defeat Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov. Honestly, who thought it was a good idea to put microphones in front of David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd? Kidd actually said, "That was so funny I forgot to laugh," which I don't think I've heard since the second grade. The one positive is that Smith did a pretty good impression of McIntyre. …

I was surprised that Kozlov – not Marella – did the job in the tag match. …

The backstage segment with Edge, Bryan and Zack Ryder was funny. Edge's facial expressions were especially hilarious. …

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My fear that WWE unified the women's titles just so Michelle McCool and Layla can each carry around a title belt was realized. I can't wait for this to run its course and there to be just one champion. …

It was nice to see the underrated Layla get a clean win over Melina. She did it in impressive fashion, hitting a blockbuster/stunner type move (Masato Tanaka's Diamond Dust) off the second rope. …

I have no idea what "get crunk" means, but I do enjoy watching Eve Torres dance to R-Truth's new entrance music. Any chance we could keep Eve's dancing but dump the crunk and bring back "What's Up?" …

So either Ted DiBiase Jr. or Maryse has a secret admirer. If this was still the Attitude Era, the mystery person would be Orlando Jordan and he'd have a crush on both of them.


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