Coming back to pro wrestling after missing two weeks used to be frightening - Who debuted, who left, who won, who lost? Now? There's a tag tournament going and nothing much else is critical since I've been gone. Tonight we roll back in and see if I've missed anything!
John Cena opens Raw with his still bandaged arm from recent surgery. Cena takes one week off and says it feels like a year...not for all of us. Cena cracks jokes about Daniel Bryan and Kane being a demon and a goat, as well as Antonio Cesaro's nipple size. He continues that he'd like to take AJ on a date and goes for the In-N-Out innuendo cheap pop. Tonight, Vince McMahon gives a "State of the WWE" address, which actually is pretty big news. Cena gets the crowd to cheer then says that the voice of the WWE has been stolen by CM Punk, which garners a strong CM Punk chant, amidst a chorus of boos from the younger fans. John pressures Punk to choose him as his opponent at Hell in a Cell to make a Wrestlemania-level impact. Next is a "Punk isn't a real man" comment to further push Punk toward choosing Cena as his opponent. As Cena leaves, Ryback comes out and hits the ring. A quick glance at one another, but no aggression between the two big men. A quick recap of Ryback returning Jim Ross to the ring last week after being chased off by Heyman and Punk, followed by his opponents, Primo and Epico.
Match 1: Ryback vs Primo and Epico
Winner: Ryback via pinfall
Both Colons start in the ring, so this one seems to be Tornado rules. Quick knockdowns and Epico avoids having Primo slammed on him. Ryback throws Epico to the corner then takes a missile dropkick/Backstabber combo, followed by a backdrop of Epico onto Ryback. The cousins stay on Ryback and the fans chant "Feed me more", backing him. Epico slaps Ryback and gets tossed down for it, then Ryback hits the backpack chinbreaker and a pair of lariats. Ryback grabs Epico and Primo for Shellshocked and lands it.
Still the same act from Ryback, but at least now he's beating actual roster members...although he was doing that a while back too. Like I've said, if I'm going to see a squash, this is how I want it - Over the top beatdowns of guys. It's hard not to enjoy Ryback.
Match 2: Brodus Clay vs R-Truth
Winner: Not the fans
R-Truth chases Little Jimmy into the ring and grabs a mic, saying he's sorry to Brodus. Apparently LJ is going through puberty and wants to dance. We are watching an imaginary friend dance. Truth takes over and Vinny Mac gets on the Titantron to say that everyone should dance on up the ramp so he can give his "State of the WWE" speech. I don't even.
Mr. McMahon struts on down to the ring like only he can. Vince summarizes the previous segment and says there's also room for leprechauns, goat faced vegans, demons and luchadors. Above all else, they have action. WWE has the best against the best...cue CM Punk interrupting The Boss. Heyman accompanies Punk, toting the WWE Title above his head. Vince calls Punk's new yellow GTS t-shirt ugly (That's your merch, Vince!) and says that he takes offense to Punk disrespecting him. Punk says he's upset that Vince said "best against the best" without mentioning him by name, which was a shot at him not stepping in the Hell in a Cell with John Cena. Punk jaws at the crowd for disrespecting him, then asks Mr. McMahon if he respects his WWE Champion. Vince respects Punk being WWE Champ for 323 days, but doesn't respect him being a "Paul Heyman guy". Vince says he's not a "CM Punk guy". Punk says he should be and throws a tirade in the direction of The Boss. Punk says if he doesn't get the respect he deserves, he'll do what he did a year ago - Leave.
Vince asks Punk if he thinks he's indispensable, and Punk, of course, says yes. Punk says if it's not him, then who? Vince says it's the WWE Universe that keeps the wheels turning. Vince says he's been listening to the Universe, and the consensus is that someone needs to shut CM Punk's mouth. Vince says Punk isn't at the caliber of HBK, Bret Hart, Steve Austin yet. Punk takes exception to Austin and says he took shortcuts, like beating up a "clueless, inept millionaire". Punk keeps pushing buttons and says that now Vince knows how he feels everytime he walks out. Punk says Vince has been slapping him in the face for years, then paintbrushes him right off of his feet. Punk leaves and Vince says he ought to fire Punk, but instead he wants Punk to fight him and learn something about respect. The crowd goes happier and louder than they have in months with a huge "Vince" chant and Heyman says this went "the wrong way". Punk assures him that everything will be fine.
Match 3: Primetime Players vs Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, Tag Team Tournament Match
Winners: Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara via pinfall
Young and Cara start and Cara escapes an arm wrench with a quick lucha snapmare, then the rope flip arm drag. Cara hits a hurricanrana, but Young hits a knee lift. Cara makes a tag and Young gets lowbridged to the floor, allowing Rey to hit a senton on Young. O'Neil runs interference and catches a dive from Sin Cara for his trouble.
Back from a commercial, O'Neil is in charge of Cara with a backbreaker for two. Young tags in puts the luchador in a bearhug. Young backs him into the corner, then elevates him to the top, but Cara fights off and hits a diving tornado DDT. Rey tags in and hits the diving senton on Young, then knocks Titus off the apron. Mysterio with a headscissors and kick on Young. Titus gets in the ring and takes an enzuigiri, knocking him out. Young hits the Gutcheck on Cara who isn't the legal man, which lets Rey land the 619 and Drop the Dime on Young to reach the finals of the tag title tournament.
Good, fun match. Action came together fine, but (although I understand the "why) having Rey/Cara beat the PTP in this tournament really bumps them down the totem pole. They established as such a strong team over the months and get bumped off by a random pairing. It's a good way to demolish momentum built and earned, despite having their manager fired for a boneheaded move. Wishing good things continue to come for PTP.
Heyman and Punk are in the back discussing tonight's potential fight. Heyman reminds Punk that Vince can be obsessive about making them miserable if Punk wins this and Punk says he'll find a way to make it a win tonight.
Match 4: Wade Barrett vs Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion), non-title
Winner: Wade Barrett via disqualification
Wade Barrett is still in that "welcome back" phase of his return, and it's well deserved. He's quite good at being that "I'll beat your ass just because" heel. A tie up between the two Europeans starts the match and Big Show enters to possibly repay Sheamus for costing him a match on Smackdown (Brough Kicking Tensai). The distraction allows Barrett to take a bit of control, but Sheamus lands a headlock takeover and keeps him pinned on the mat. Wade gets to his feet and puts Sheamus to the ropes, but Sheamus runs him over for a one count. Barrett pushes Sheamus to the corner and strikes his way away from Sheamus. He puts Sheamus on the apron, who responds by jumping over the top rope with a shoulder block and another headlock takeover. Barrett elbows his way out and Sheamus tries a short arm clothesline, but his opponent ducks. Sheamus stumbles and Barrett gives him a boot to the gut to recover, leading to Sheamus delivering a vertical suplex for one.
Barrett kicks Sheamus in the chest and ends up on the apron, trying a shoulder block, which Sheamus ducks, then delivers a knee lift. Barrett dodges a kick on the floor and drags Sheamus to the floor, leaving the World Champion clutching his leg. Back from commercial, Sheamus lands a knee lift and a clothesline over the top, then gives chase. Sheamus with a European uppercut, then whipping Barrett to the steel steps. Barrett jumps up and over the steps and kicks them into Sheamus, then rolls the World Champ in for a two count. Barrett with a chinlock that Sheamus quickly fights up out of, only to run into a knee from the Englishman. Barrett chokes Sheamus in the ropes and wraps him in the ropes, delivering knees, followed by a boot to the head, leaving him on the apron. Wade drags Sheamus back in for a near fall, then hops to the second rope, missing an elbow drop. Sheamus lands a surprise clothesline out of the corner, then Polish hammers, a corner shoulder and a knee lift. Barrett escapes a powerslam attempt and sets Sheamus up for a pumphandle slam which he in turn escapes. Barrett ends up on the apron and takes the ten forearms to the chest, then Tensai hits the ring to avenge himself and he and Barrett beat the World Champion down on the mat.
Big Show watches from ring side as the two men stomp on the head of Sheamus. Barrett holds Sheamus up, who powers out and hits a Brough Kick, then tosses Barrett out. Big Show gets in, wanting WMD and Sheamus throws a Brough Kick which Show catches. Show flips Sheamus over the top to the floor and it looks like he cracks his head right on the floor, as the camera angle showed his eyes wide open in surprise on the mat. Big Show leaves and Sheamus gets in the ring "ready to fight" but looking woozy.
JR heads to the back after Sheamus, saying he's going to have a word with Mr. McMahon about his pending fight with Punk.
AJ is in the back and Punk shows up. Punk asks AJ how she feels about the WWE Champion beating up an "old man" on her show. AJ says if Punk is really the best in the world, he shouldn't be too scared to fight Vince, let alone John Cena. Punk says that anything that happens tonight is on AJ's head.
Match 5: Tyson Kidd vs Antonio Cesaro (United States Champion), non-title
Winner: Antonio Cesaro via pinfall
Cesaro vs Kidd should be a 15 minute spectacle, but in the WWE environment, it'll be about a two minute squash. A tie up and hammerlock from Cesaro leads to Kidd stepping to the apron and back under to reverse it - Exactly why this should be a focus and not just a sideshow on a Raw. Cesaro keeps the power game going and wrenches the arm of Kidd, who kips up and flips off the top rope to escape, then lands a victory roll for two. Kidd runs into a boot face first in the corner and Cesaro lights him up in the corner, then stands on his chest. Cesaro lands a double stomp on Kidd on the apron then deadlifts him for a gutwrench. Cesaro locks in a cravat on the mat and Kidd swings to his feet to elbow out, kicking Cesaro and landing on the apron, but he ends up getting dropped across the top rope by the US Champion. Kidd ducks a clotheslines and quickly hops on the apron for a kick and a baseball slide, then a roll up over the top rope for two. Kidd hits a low dropkick draping Cesaro across the bottom rope and lands a big leg drop to the floor. Kidd tries a springboard elbow drop, but Cesaro dodges, then hits Swiss Death and the Neutralizer.
Ok, more like 4 and a half minutes instead of only 2, and exceptional action in that short time. I don't know how talent guys in WWE watch this match and don't have a thought train of "PUT KIDD ON TV MORE". Seriously baffling. Both guys deserve more time to shine. The match of the night shouldn't be 4 minutes long.
Match 6: Dolph Ziggler and Alberto del Rio vs Team Hell No (Tag Team Champions), non-title
Winners: Team Hell No via pinfall
Bryan and Ziggler start and the show off gives an arm drag and a strut. Ziggler with a headlock and a shoulder block, but runs into a knee from Bryan. Bryan offers a tag to Kane and immediately reneges on the offer, which ends up letting Ziggler make a tag to ADR, then Kane tags himself in. Kane with a top wrist lock on ADR and an arm wrench, then teasing Bryan with a tag offer, but staying in the ring. Ziggler tags back in and runs into an uppercut from Kane, who continues with a snapmare and low dropkick. Ziggler kicks the leg of Kane, then attacks him in the corner. Kane blocks an Irish whip and puts Ziggler over the top to the floor and Bryan tags himself back in, delivering a knee to Ziggler on the floor.
Back from commercial, Ziggler has a headlock that Kane is fighting out of. Kane avoids the Namedropper and hits Dolph with a big boot. Kane tags Bryan in to hit a running forearm and the corner dropkick. Bryan puts Ziggler up top and trying a frankensteiner, but Ziggler rolls through for a two count then a dropkick after ADR hits a cheap shot from the apron. Alberto tags in and hits a jumping stomp then slaps on a chinlock. Bryan explodes with a sunset flip, but ADR hits a huge kick to the face then tags in Ziggler who hits a neckbreaker and a jumping elbow for two. ADR tags back in and hits a snap suplex for two on Bryan. Del Rio with kicks in the corner which Bryan answers with his own. Bryan whiffs another try at the corner dropkick, then Ziggler tags in to make a quick cover for two. Ziggler with a chinlock and Bryan with a chin breaker, then dodging Ziggler flying at him in the corner, leaving both men on the mat. Ziggler grabs the leg of Bryan and drags him away from Kane, tagging ADR back in to lay boots to him. ADR hits a belly to back suplex and another chinlock. Bryan elbows out but runs into a tilt a whirl backbreaker, but Kane breaks up the pinfall. Ziggler tags back in punches Bryan, who returns the favor. An exchange of rights, but Ziggler kicks the leg low to keep the control. ADR tags in and kicks Bryan in the head for two, followed by another chinlock (That's three of this sequence so far). Bryan up with elbows and ADR answers with a headbutt then comes up empty on a rush into the corner, wrapping himself around the ring post.
Bryan makes the tag to Kane to land rights on ADR, then clotheslines in two corners and ADR escapes a slam to tag in Ziggler, which Kane isn't aware of. Ziggler avoids a Chokeslam and hits the Namedropper for a very close two, wanting to follow with the Zigzag, but runs into a side slam. Kane heads up top and Bryan tags himself in, landing a missile dropkick, only for ADR to break up the pin then be tossed away by Kane. Ziggler tries a schoolboy and Bryan kicks out then kicks him in the head, stumbling toward his own corner. Kane tags himself in, lands a Chokeslam and wins it for Team Hell No.
Fun action and Bryan and Kane continue to argue over who is the Tag Team Champions. ADR seems to do really well in these "random pairing" tag team matches and Ziggler shines every time he's in the ring.
JR and Vince are in the back discussing tonight's coming events. JR is trying to talk Vince out of this fight and Vince has JR "call a match" for him, wanting to hear him call "McMahon! McMahon! McMahon!" before the actual fight. That was entirely awkward.
Larry King NOW
So Larry King and his wife are on the stage to introduce a guest and The Miz comes out. King poorly acts that he's not interested and the wife laughs. Great. Miz announces it's his birthday and wants King and his wife to sing "Happy Birthday" to him. King says he has it on good authority that nobody cares. King says he's replacing Miz with Kofi Kingston as his guest. Kofi goes for a cheap "mention the town" pop. Miz insults Kofi and King repeatedly and the wife throws water at Miz's face. King tries to rally applause for this and the crowd doesn't care, then Kofi punches Miz and throws him off the stage. Kofi is going absolutely ballistic on the stage and hits a huge jumping right fist off the stage. Miz and Kofi fight to the back and Larry King signs off.
Ludicrous in the worst possible way.
Match 7: Santino Marella and Zack Ryder vs Rhodes Scholars, Tag Team Tournament Match
Winners: Rhodes Scholars via pinfall
Rhodes and Ryder to start and Rhodes with the early attempt at a suplex which Ryder flips out of with a couple of pinning attempts, then knees in the corner and a discus lariat. Sandow tags in and lands a clotheslines and jumping knee for two on Ryder. Sandow with a chinlock but Ryder immediately to his feet, but Rhodes is back in to keep pressure on Ryder, then a tag back to Sandow for his swinging elbow drop. Rhodes tags in again and locks in a front facelock. Santino distracts Rhodes who runs into a Ryder flapjack, allowing the tag. Santino with jabs to Rhodes who throws in a quick jab of his own, but takes a hip toss from Santino followed by the headbutt. Santino wants the Cobra and Sandow distracts, allowing Cody to hit a Beautiful Disaster for the win.
Ryder got eliminated by a cheap shot on the apron and basically disappeared, which was kind of weird. Quick match confirming Team Co-Bro as a joke.
The Band hits the ring and counts of a beat down on Santino. Slater keeps the beatdown on Marella then he air guitars while McIntyre headbangs and Mahal dances. What a weird faction.
Heyman approaches Vince in the back and says that while Punk should not have done what he did earlier tonight, he can broker peace. Vince asks Heyman if he knows when he lies or tells the truth. Heyman says he doesn't want Punk to do to Vince what Lesnar did to HHH.
Match 8: Eve Torres (c) vs Kaitlyn, Divas Championship
Winner: Eve Torres via pinfall
Eve is still all smiles as she hits the ring and Layla still looks like the jealous bitch. Major role reversal here. Kaitlyn with an early hip toss and a diving shoulder block, then a snap suplex for two. Eve with a forearm and kick, but Kaitlyn answers with a back body drop. Kaitlyn with an off-kilter torture rack and Eve rakes the eyes to escape, then sweeps the hurt ankle. Kaitlyn lands a backbreaker but continues to favor the leg. Eve kicks the leg out of the corner then kicks it on the ropes and stands on the ankle mid ring, followed by a knee drop. Eve DDTs Kaitlyn's foot then locks in a grapevine which Kaitlyn eventually taps to.
Eve won't release the lock and Layla gets in the ring to put a stop to it. Eve asks if Kaitlyn is ok, but the eye rake and the extended grapevine show that she's still the heel in disguise. At least they're getting back to having Eve show that deceptive side. Hard to tell what they're doing with Kaitlyn here, as she seemed to have quite a bit of steam behind her before this ankle thing.
ADR is trying to figure out what to have for dinner and is read a Tweet by Josh Matthews that Randy Orton will be at Smackdown. ADR storms off. Terrible segment.
Larry King and his wife are walking in the back, approached by Daniel Bryan who says that people used to say King looked like an owl, so maybe he can help with the whole "Goat Face" thing. Bryan says King does indeed look like an owl. Kane appears and says that he has carried Bryan's goat face since they became Tag Team Champions. Bryan is mad that Kane scared off Larry King; Kane thought it was Skeletor. That last bit saved that segment, but King seems completely out of his element.
Heyman is brooding about what Vince will do to them...unless Punk can render him unable to ever make another decision. So I guess the gameplan is "kill Vince".
Match 9: CM Punk (WWE Champion) vs Vince McMahon
Winner: No contest
Vince begins to make his entrance for the fight and Punk attacks from behind before he can make it to the ring, then delivers knees to the midsection on the floor. Punk lays elbows into the collarbone of Mr. McMahon, then rolls him into the ring. Vince hits a double leg takedown on Punk but Punk rolls him over and they throw punches back and forth. After breaking apart, Punk lays him out with a kick to the head then mocks him. Punk picks Vince up and tosses him to the floor. Punk throws Vince face first into the announcers table then grabs the mic off of Cole's head and yells "what a maneuver!". Punk lifts Vince to his shoulders and Vince elbows out, then shoves Punk into the ringpost.
Vince tosses Punk across the announce table and grabs a mic, saying he'll teach Punk about respect, then beats Punk over the head with the mic. Vince drives a chair into the beltline of Punk, then tosses him into the ring. Vince looks under the ring and grabs a kendo stick. Punk retreats to the floor and asks Heyman to retrieve the WWE Title so they can leave. Vince intercepts and decks Heyman, then takes the belt into the ring. Mr. McMahon challenges Punk to come in and get his Title. Punk finds a kendo stick of his own under the ring and gets in the ring for a kendo duel which Vince wins, leaving Punk cowering on his knees, but he's playing possum to land a low blow. Punk grabs both kendo sticks and lays into Vince with them. Punk tosses the weapons out and calls for the GTS, but before he can land it, Ryback heads toward the ring, chasing the WWE Champion off again. Cena hits the entrance ramp to toss Punk to the Big Hungry who takes Punk up for Shellshocked, but Punk escapes, grabbing the WWE Title and hopping the rail to run away.
Vince says it's decision time for Punk - At Hell in a Cell, he faces Ryback or John Cena. Punk answers Vince McMahon's demand next week on Raw.
Now that was a hell of an end to Raw. Ryback just rocketed up the totem pole, we got Vince in action and Punk is running scared. Great ending.