24 hours later and the sting of Triple H's betrayal of Daniel Bryan still pains the entire state of California, but none more so, it would seem, than John Cena. In what will likely be his last address to the WWE Universe before he undergoes surgery and a 4-6 month recovery to repair a torn triceps (hence the elbow), the battle-torn Cenation leader proclaimed Bryan – who beat him fair and square at SummerSlam – as the true WWE Champion and condemned Triple H for the Pedigree that allowed Randy Orton to cash in his Money in the Bank contract on the unconscious submission expert.
Accepting the mic (and spotlight) from Cena, though, Bryan didn't get to speak before he was once again robbed of his moment by a McMahon – in this case, Stephanie. But despite her justification that Triple H was doing what was “best for business,” Bryan wasn't buyin’ what The Billion Dollar Princess was selling and swatted the mic from her manicured hands. Refusing to be “intimidated,” Stephanie called arena security into the ring and had Bryan escorted from the building.
That's two for Cody Rhodes, who followed up his win over Damien Sandow by shellacking the scholar once again in a match on Raw. The Enlightened One was apparently furious over his defeat at the summer classic, yet despite a strong showing on Raw, he was unable to channel his frustration into a score-evening win over his former partner.
All this, of course, is not to say Sandow let Cody run roughshod in the contest. The “Duke of Decency” came out a-clubberin’ against the son of a son of a plumber, putting the boots to Rhodes before plastering his estranged comrade with the Elbow of Disdain. Cody created separation with a moonsault and never really lost the momentum from there; even a last-minute reversal of the Cross Rhodes into a snapmare by Sandow wasn't enough to deter the formerly mustachioed marvel, who sealed the deal with a roll-up to Sandow that may well put him firmly in hunt for a World Title Match. Smoke and mirrors? Not likely.
Say what you will about him, but Paul Heyman is nothing if not gracious in victory. Having proven CM Punk wrong (however narrowly) thanks to Brock Lesnar's triumph at SummerSlam, the mad scientist proclaimed it “a time for forgiveness” and offered the proverbial olive branch to his former best friend. “When you apologize to me, I will take you back,” promised Heyman, “because you know better than anyone else you are far better with me than without me.”
Offering to take The Straight Edge Superstar to the promised land, the ECW founder swore to bring his prodigal son to the main event of WrestleMania and beyond, and to help Punk reclaim his chosen title of “Best in the World.” A tantalizing offer. But will it be enough?
Is this professional jealousy we see? Or is the Divas division just heating up? Either way, AJ Lee & Layla fought like ladies with something to prove against “Total Divas” stars The Funkadactyls on Raw, taking the funky femmes to the woodshed thanks to a sneak attack before the bell even rang. The “Black Widow” and her flawless friend took control throughout by isolating Naomi from Cameron, though Layla inadvertently left herself open to attack when she kicked a waiting Cameron off the apron. With the former Divas Champion's defenses down, Naomi rallied for a quick burst and rolled Layla up for a tantrum-inducing three count. Somebody call our mommas, that was a thing of beauty.
He can show off, but looks like Dolph Ziggler might be mouthing off a little less following a three-on-one railroading by The Shield that, according to Raw GM Brad Maddox, was not-at-all-but-maybe-sort-of set into motion by The Showoff's snarky remarks towards Triple H after SummerSlam.
Set to face The Shield in a 3-on-1 Handicap Match, Dolph did choose an uncommonly conservative strategy by trying to keep it a 1-on-1 fight against Dean Ambrose, but the wheels came off his plan quickly when Seth Rollins and then Roman Reigns eventually tagged their way into the match. The former World Heavyweight Champion eventually reclaimed the advantage with a leaping DDT to Reigns that had the WWE Universe smelling an upset, yet his one attempt at flashiness led to disaster when Reigns cut Ziggler down with a spear for the 1-2-3 that was quickly followed by a Triple Powerbomb.
For a rich guy, Alberto Del Rio certainly showed he wasn't afraid of a fight at SummerSlam. And he seemed well on his way to proving it again in a match against Sin Cara, if not for an untimely injury to The International Icon's hand that cut the match short in its tracks. A post-match paean to the Latino community had just begun to gain steam for The Essence of Excellence, until it was interrupted by none other than Ricardo Rodriguez. All healed up and happily emancipated from Del Rio, Ricardo was more than happy to introduce his old boss to his new ... Rob Van Dam.
Señor Lunes Noche was more than happy to give Del Rio a formal introduction of his own, swarming the champion in the ring and nearly flattening him with a Five Star Frog Splash before Del Rio wisely ran for cover. How do you say “one of a kind” in Spanish?
Darren Young made headlines this past week by coming out, but anyone who thought the announcement would cast a shadow over his in-ring action was proven woefully incorrect on Raw when Young & Titus O’Neil battled their way to a win over The Real Americans on Raw. “Mr. No Days Off” started the bout against Antonio Cesaro, yet Zeb Colter's prodigies nearly won the day by separating O’Neil from his teammate and muscling him into a defensive position.
A big spinebuster to Jack Swagger allowed “The Big Deal” to reach Young and the rest was history. Young stormed the ring and showed no quarter to a freshly-tagged Cesaro, shaking off interference from Jack Swagger before he administered a Gut Check to the mighty Swiss native that put the so-called “Real Americans” to rest.
Big Show can pack a punch, but he'll probably be picking his words a bit more carefully after falling to The Shield in a 3-on-1 Handicap Match that, according to Raw GM Brad Maddox, was not-at-all-but-really-maybe-sort-of set into motion by the giant's disparaging remarks towards Triple H after SummerSlam. Sound familiar?
In any case, it certainly seemed as though Maddox was set on releasing the “Hounds” against anyone who questioned the corporate regime. Yet even with all three opponents in the ring at once, The World's Largest Athlete looked at first as though he'd easily turn the troika of champions into flack-jacketed mincemeat, especially after he beat Roman Reigns at his own game and leveled him with a plus-sized spear. With their big man incapacitated, Rollins & Ambrose kept the giant occupied long enough for the Tag Team Champion to recover. With The Shield's ranks restored, that was all she wrote for the former World Champion, who suffered a spear and Triple Powerbomb in short order.
CM Punk is not an unreasonable man (though as the gentleman in the front row can attest, it's clearly not advisable to boo him while he's talking): Paul Heyman asked for an apology, and to the shock of the WWE Universe, he took him up on that offer.
Well, kind of.
As it turns out, the only thing Punk was sorry about was that he didn't get to dismember Paul Heyman like he had promised when he got his hands on him at SummerSlam. Punk's proposed solution – they settle their score then and there – was met with an ultimatum from Heyman: Leave the ring while he could, or Heyman would send Curtis Axel down to finish what Brock Lesnar started.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, CM Punk did not choose to back down from the fight Paul Heyman promised him. Quite the contrary, the former WWE Champion gladly rumbled with the current Intercontinental Champion in Anaheim, throwing hands in an unsanctioned fight that spilled all along the outside of the ring. Though Punk incapacitated Axel enough to get a clear path at Heyman, The Second City Saint chose to learn from his previous mistake and keep his eye on his opponent instead. The decision paid dividends, ultimately; despite nearly being crippled by a steel chair attack, the "prodigal son" showed his father figure what's what when he unloaded on Heyman's latest disciple with the chair, punctuating the attack with a Go to Sleep on the steel steps. To be continued ...
A few weeks ago, R-Truth told Bray Wyatt he wanted a piece of him. Well, ask and you shall receive. The “Man of a Thousand Truths” left the former U.S. Champion a silent heap in his Raw debut, turning his fiery triumph at SummerSlam into the start of what has officially become a winning streak. Proclaiming himself the “new face of fear,” Wyatt made short work of Truth, steamrolling him with a crossbody and finally crushing him against the ring post. With Truth out on his feet, the “Eater of Worlds” danced with his unconscious body like a marionette before driving him down into the mat, earning him the victory.
The Usos’ dominance continues with a big win over two-thirds of 3MB on Raw. Riding a wave of both in-ring success and national exposure on “Total Divas,” the Samoan dynamos did what they do best in Anaheim and knocked off the would-be rockers in a hotly contested tag tilt that brought the stiffest challenge out of 3MB in a while. Sporting a new set of tattoos, Heath Slater took the lion's share of the action against Jimmy Uso and very nearly earned the band its first win in months. But thanks to a superkick-Superfly Splash combo to Jinder Mahal, the band was instead left singin’ the blues.
A little shave never hurt anyone, and if anything an unrequited razing seems to have made Wade Barrett even madder than he was before. Facing an opponent he knows very well, the former Intercontinental Champion looked to snap his losing streak against The Miz and, if not for an unfortunate interference, might have pulled the feat off. Barrett and Miz picked up right where they left off in their previous (some might say classic) series, with the Englishman even reprising his Cactus Elbow homage off the apron against a wobbly-looking Miz.
Showing he can host and wrestle in equal measure, though, Miz shook off his rust and stayed in the game, stringing Barrett up in the ropes and softening his leg up in advance of a Figure-Four Leglock. But Miz had only plied his hold for a few moments before Fandango delivered a devastating blow from above, repaying The Awesome One's disrespect at SummerSlam with a leg-drop to the tune of a DQ victory for Miz and, presumably, a decidedly un-awesome headache.
After a day and night of wondering why The King of Kings stabbed Daniel Bryan in the back, speculation was put to rest when Triple H finally took the microphone during Randy Orton's WWE Championship Coronation. With The Shield guarding the ring and Orton and the McMahons at his side, the COO justified his actions as necessary to preserve the future of the WWE the McMahons had built, and despite his personal feelings toward Daniel Bryan (he likes him) and hesitance to rob him of the WWE Title, The King of Kings felt the WWE Universe deserved “better than that” and buried said feelings in the name of good business.
Knowing that Bryan had made his way back to the building, Triple H beckoned Bryan to the ring for a parlay. The “Yes!” man obliged, though the invite turned out to be a trap for The Shield to beat the submission master into a pulp at the apparent behest of the McMahon-Helmsley family. The Game stopped them short of a Triple Powerbomb, however, and asked Bryan once more to air his grievances face-to-face. Showing his famous spirit, Bryan slowly made his way back into the ring towards the COO ... and right into the arms of a waiting Orton, who struck with RKO that left Bryan prone. This time, for once, Daniel Bryan did not get up.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Cody Rhodes defeated Damien Sandow (10:35)
- The Funkadactyls (Cameron & Naomi) defeated AJ Lee & Layla (2:15)
- The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) defeated Dolph Ziggler in a Three On One Handicap Match (6:15)
- Alberto Del Rio defeated Sin Cara by Referee Stop (1:00)
- The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O'Neil) defeated The Real Americans (Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger) (w/ Zeb Colter) (4:50)
- The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) defeated The Big Show in a Three On One Handicap Match (4:30)
- Bray Wyatt (w/ Erick Rowan & Luke Harper) defeated R-Truth (1:35)
- The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) defeated 3MB (Heath Slater & Jinder Mahal) (w/ Drew McIntyre) (5:25)
- The Miz defeated Wade Barrett by Disqualification (4:50)
Other on-screen talent