RAW starts with Nexus coming out. John Cena has been fired. After a long goodbye last night he’s going to get another one tonight. Barrett is arguing Cena had decided in advance Barrett was going to lose. Since Cena shoved him into an RKO Barrett expects a rematch against Orton. Oddly, the anonymous GM by email actually agrees and we won’t have to wait for the next PPV, that match is tonight! Justin Gabriel is doing a poor job of growing a beard. Lose the facial fuzz, it doesn’t work for you.

Next week is King of the Ring. Which means another three hour RAW. I wish I got paid overtime for these shows. Cole introduces CM Punk, who is joining the RAW commentary team while he recovers from an injury. Tonight we’ll have four qualifier matches for King of the Ring, the other four competitors will come from Smackdown. Sheamus faces R-Truth. Truth has gone back to the old theme music but still has Eve dancing with him. Punk endears me immediately by comparing her dancing to an epileptic fit. This match is too slow for me. Sheamus goes to a lot of really basic submission holds that don’t excite me and he wins with the Celtic Cross, not a submission, so it’s not good match storytelling.

We see long boring clips from Cena’s DVD compilation. Even with him allegedly fired he’s still being shoved down our throats. LaCool can’t get into the building. Natalya refuses to vouch for them. They are still doing a romance angle between Santino and Tamita, who can play the ukulele. Orton says he’ll win. Ezekial Jackson is supposed to face The Miz but he has apparently suffered an anxiety attack and Alex Reilly will compete for him. An anxiety attack does not make someone sound tough. Jackson wins pretty quickly and qualifies for King of the Ring.

Cena says a long, long goodbye. It’s mostly the same tired “Cena is Superman” stuff as usual but there is one brilliant moment where Cena gets all the women and kids in the audience to chant “Let’s go Cena!” then all the men chant “Cena sucks!” Since I don’t buy for a second Cena is really leaving there is no emotion to this. Not like when we thought Flair was retiring or when HBK retired, for now. In fact, Cena talking about missing his brother’s child being born and spending more time with his mom are actually a little disingenuous.

Qualifier #3 is Ted Dibiase versus Daniel Bryan. That’s two matches from last night’s PPV that they are giving away a rematch on free TV the next day. Why should people buy the PPV if they get the match for free the next day? In this case, because it’s a much shorter match with the exact same result, Dibiase taps. And the Bellas are apparently now smitten with Bryan. In better woman’s action, Natalya makes short work of Alicia Fox. Melina now seems to be hitting on John Morrison. Does she still call him Nitro? Morrison takes on Tyson Kidd in the final qualifier of the night. This is the best of the four qualifiers tonight as the pair show off their speed and agility. We get a real finisher in this one as Morrison lands Starship Pain and fills RAW’s last spot in the tournament.

So now we get a title match on free TV. I always complain when the champion comes out first but tonight he needs to as Nexus attacks him on the ramp and damages his right knee before the refs can get them away. Orton is taken out and Barrett expects a forfeit but, no, Orton will defend, hurt leg and all. Though considerably shorter, I actually enjoyed this match more than the main event last night. Orton’s injury is a built in story for the match and it dominates throughout. When Barrett hits Wasteland we wonder why they would change the title tonight but not last night. Then John Cena pulls the ref out of the ring and attacks Barrett. The rest of Nexus chase off Cena but Orton not only recovers, but hits a good old RKO to retain his title. Odd, we’re actually finishing a little early this week-

AWESOME!

I spoke too soon. The Miz is cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase! Orton is still on his feet so he’s better off than most champions who had the briefcase cashed in on them. Once again, the heel goes after the injured knee of Orton. Orton looks like he might hit RKO after all – only to be reversed into a Skull Crushing Finale!

1…

2…

3!

THE MIZ IS THE CHAMP!

So let’s examine this. Rather than let Barrett win the championship and The Miz cash in on him they had Cena get fired then not even have the decency to keep him off camera for a week. Miz wins, not by being the better wrestler, but by cashing in MitB at a smart moment. I doubt Miz will have a long title reign but they have to be careful not to book him too strong.

This was not a bad show. The qualifiers took up most of the time and action with a main event I was interested in watching followed by a big surprise. But, the new announce team is iffy. Punk is a fine addition but with Cole usually playing heel it’s unbalanced. With the only face being Jerry Lawler, who never reads the script in advance and tries to interject too much reason into this mess, it’s even worse.

This is the second last episode of NXT season 3 and yes, the affiliates have been informed there will be a fourth with men again. There’s a trivia challenge, which AJ runs away with. Of course the questions are so easy she may be winning simply because she’s quicker to sound her air horn. Nikki Bella beats Kaitlyn. AJ and Naomi have the best match of the season, an actual good match, which AJ wins. This gives me more faith in AJ if she turns out to be the winner. Then they dress the competitors up in fat suits for a sumo challenge. Because the largely male audience really wants to see beautiful women in fat suits. Kaitlyn wins. There’s no immunity so the only point of these silly competitions is to supposedly impress the pros. The announce team continues to treat the show, and by association the viewers, with disdain. Matt Stryker is at least trying to be professional and you can tell Cole’s antics are bothering even him.

My pick for elimination is Naomi. She’s the least attractive of the group and, while her ring skills are impressive, she doesn’t feel like a complete package. AJ has the geek cred she could win this all but Kaitlyn’s storyline with Vickie Guererro has been a big part of this season. It also wasn’t nearly as annoying as Aksana and Goldust. But no, I’m wrong. AJ goes home and I am sad. She was the one I liked. That probably leaves Kaitlyn to win it all and end this train wreck forever.