On this night in Indianapolis, The Undertaker came not to challenge, to mystify or to terrify, but rather to remember the life of the man who shepherded him into WWE 20 years ago: Paul Bearer. With Bearer's famous urn placed atop a ceremonial pedestal, The Demon of Death Valley silently paid homage to his old friend falling to one knee before the urn while Bearer's likeness appeared on the TitanTron.
Of course, no celebration is complete these days without CM Punk interrupting, and The Straight Edge Superstar brought the funerary proceedings to a screeching halt when he appeared onstage. The former WWE Champion wasted no time before launching into his latest tirade against The Phenom. “I would like to offer my sincere apologies for your loss ... at WrestleMania,” Punk said, offering the silver lining that, to Bearer, The Phenom would “always be perfect,” a comfort the WWE Universe would no longer have once WrestleMania concluded. But while Punk basked in his own suspect glory, Kane barreled forth from the shadows and drove Punk into the locker room, rampaging through the backstage area in a lone manhunt for the Superstar who so grossly disrespected his father.
The Shield poked the proverbial bear in mixing it up with Big Show, and The World's Largest Athlete arrived in Indianapolis looking to claim his due with a one-on-one match against The Shield's resident wild man, Seth Rollins. The first singles contest for the men in black, however, would have to wait for another day in favor of another statement from the self-styled enforcers of justice. The match had barely begun before Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns came to the aid of the former NXT Champion, swarming the giant and decimating him with the Triple Powerbomb in yet another display of dubious justice. Surely retribution will follow, if and when The World's Largest Athlete recovers.
With Kane raging through the locker room in pursuit of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan was on his own for his one-on-one bout against Dolph Ziggler. And though the submission specialist acquitted himself formidably in a rare non–Team Hell No contest, he found himself sorely missing Kane's company when AJ Lee and Big E Langston interfered to snatch victory from the “No!” man's clutches and pilfer the bout for The Showoff.
To be fair, however, it would have taken divine intervention to decide the bout, as Ziggler matched Bryan's preparation and efficiency note-for-note, countering each of “The Dazzler’s” Byzantine holds with his own wild offensive style. The two Superstars know each other well at this point, having gone at it in a classic bout or two over the years, and the match remained on an even level until AJ distracted the referee and Langston helped Dolph escape Bryan's “No!” Lock, giving The Showoff a window to seal the bout with a Zig Zag. A mere pinfall wouldn't placate AJ, though, who avenged her embarrassment at Bryan's hands on SmackDown by siccing Big E on the submission technician. The happy couple's heavy gladly obliged, flattening the WWE Tag Team Champion as an exclamation point to Dolph's marquee victory.
They call Tensai “Sweet T” in the funkiest corners of the WWE Universe, but Fandango was left with a sour taste in his mouth when his name was mangled yet again by the uncouth tongues of his fellow WWE Superstars. The offenders were twofold this time around, with Justin Roberts ruining his chance at redemption from last week and Tensai following suit after he snatched the mic from Naomi, whom Fandango personally requested to give the pronunciation a try.
“Congratulations, Tensai. You just cost everyone the chance to witness a match with … FAHN. DAHN. GO.”
Oh, and in case the WWE Universe was wondering: No. Fandango does not enjoy the dance stylings of Brodus and “Sweet T.” Not one bit.
Rumors of The New Age Outlaws’ return, it seems, were somewhat premature. The five-time Tag Team Champions of the Wo(oooooorrrrrr)rld had just taken to the ring to battle the reunited Team Rhodes Scholars when Brock Lesnar struck. The former UFC Heavyweight Champion wasted no time in demolishing the D-Generation X alums with a pair of F-5s and standing tall amid the wreckage before Paul Heyman took the mic to deliver Lesnar's response to Triple H's WrestleMania challenge. The long and short of it was that The Anomaly would happily face The King of Kings once again at The Showcase of the Immortals ... provided The Game accepts the stipulation of Lesnar and Heyman's choosing following the contract signing.
Kofi Kingston was robbed of competition last week when Fandango refused to face him, but the former Intercontinental Champion was left to send out the proverbial S.O.S. when he collided with Mark Henry inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Boom Squad General employed a smart game plan (chip away at Henry and avoid taking to the air until the opportune moment), but his strategy did little to slow the freight-train-like power of The World's Strongest Man, who simply snatched Kingston out of midair when he did take flight, annihilating The Dreadlocked Dynamo with a World's Strongest Slam. And the Hall of Pain grows and grows.
Another week, another sad, sad song for the members of 3MB, this time at the hands of the ravenous Ryback. The human wrecking machine was in fine, furious form for his bout against Heath Slater, powering through The One Man Band's spirited effort and annihilating the red-haired rocker with Shell Shocked while Mark Henry watched from the stage. After the bell tolled and sent Slater to the showers, however, Henry made a statement of his own by stomping down to the ring and pummeling Drew McIntyre with the World's Strongest Slam, which Ryback answered with a Shell Shocked of his own on McIntyre. The two titans seemed perfectly content to compare signature maneuvers on The Chosen One, but the arrival of a squadron of EMTs put the (for now) friendly competition to an end.
What's the old saying? Anything you can do ...
It wasn't so much a match as an international incident when Mexico's Alberto Del Rio went head-to-head with The Swiss Superman, Antonio Cesaro, in a hotly anticipated first-time matchup on Raw. The inaugural bout between the two mat technicians lived up to every inch of the hype as well, with The Essence of Excellence's smooth efficiency matching up perfectly against the raw power of the United States Champion. Cesaro had built up a strong head of steam and nearly had victory in hand with a skull-rattling very European uppercut, but the champion recovered fast and countered with a swift Cross Armbreaker, forcing Cesaro to tap out and ending Del Rio's night on a note of triumph.
Alberto Del Rio: Born in Mexico, made in America and one victory heavier in the win column as WrestleMania approaches.
The WWE Universe may never know if Team Rhodes Scholars would have beaten The New Age Outlaws on Raw, but the scholarly snarks got their clocks cleaned by no less a duo than Sheamus & Randy Orton, who assembled into an impromptu team at the behest of Vickie Guerrero to take on the Scholars. Even having the newly returned Bella Twins on their arms didn't give Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow enough positive mojo to stop the momentum of The Viper and The Celtic Warrior.
Although Team Rhodes Scholars put up a tough fight, easing right back into their patented divide-and-conquer strategy, Orton & Sheamus’ bond seemed to have grown in wake of their common attacks at the hands of The Shield. A resounding Brogue Kick to the bearded chin of Damien Sandow ensured that the Scholars hit the road on a down note.
Unfortunately for Sheamus & Orton, their night didn't end much better when The Shield struck during the commercial break, swarming the victors on the stage during the commercial break, with Seth Rollins striking The Apex Predator with a flying knee that left the former World Champion prone on the arena floor.
Chris Jericho is back, babaaaayyy, and he's bringing “The Highlight Reel” along with him.
Just a few weeks after his all-time classic bout against CM Punk, The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla dusted off the astronomically priced JeriTron 6000 (well, he would have if it hadn't mysteriously vanished) and reconvened his classic talk show for the Indianapolis crowd. His guests were no less luminaries than WWE's current resident movie stars, The Miz and Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. Of course, with three alpha males such as these in the ring together, it wasn't long before tensions escalated and Brad Maddox arrived with a proclamation on behalf of Team Brickie to settle the trio's differences: Miz would take on Jericho, with the winner challenging Barrett for his title on next week's Raw.
Who will challenge The Barrett Barrage? Well, if the Intercontinental Champion has his way, it won't be anyone, as Wade Barrett took the fight to both Chris Jericho and The Miz during their bout to determine who would contend for the Brit's title next week on Raw. The match was in full swing and at an even keel between Y2J and The Awesome One when Jericho made the mistake of tossing Miz into Barrett, who was sitting at commentary. The champion immediately made his presence known, surging forth from the booth and mixing it up with both men.
The sneak attack turned sour quickly, though, when Miz and Jericho united to plaster Barrett with a Skull-Crushing Finale and a Codebreaker in quick order. The verdict from Vickie and Maddox swiftly followed: Without a clear victor, both Miz and Jericho would rumble with the Englishman for the Intercontinental Championship in a Triple Threat Match next week on Raw.
Jack Swagger's dubious version of patriotism stood tall in a battle with Sin Cara when the No. 1 contender to the World Title unleashed his unabated fury on The International Sensation. Sin Cara had come out swinging (and soaring, and kicking, as is his wont) against Swagger, but the “Real American” stood firm against the lauded luchador, grounding the highflier and wrenching him into the Patriot Lock for a vicious submission victory.
Unwilling to stop at mere victory, Swagger opted for punishment instead when he refused to relinquish the hold, but Alberto Del Rio came to his countryman's aid by rescuing Sin Cara and trapping Swagger in a ruthless Cross Armbreaker. Colter moved swiftly to pry his disciple from Del Rio's clutches, but it's unlikely the self-styled defenders of the homeland will underestimate the World Champion in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania.
Hell hath no fury like The Devil's Favorite Demon, as CM Punk learned to his great detriment following The Straight Edge Superstar's insult to the memory of Kane's father, Paul Bearer. Cradling Bearer's precious urn in his hands, Kane seemed more solemn than usual at the bout's beginning, but mourning gave way to unbridled rage when Punk hit the WWE Tag Team Champion with a cheap shot to start their No Disqualification Match.
The two Superstars took advantage of the bout's stipulation, with Kane slamming Punk against the barricades and The Straight Edge Superstar retaliating by clobbering the demon with the ring bell. The ferocity only escalated when the action moved to the ring, and Kane's aggression (helped by a steel chair) seemed to gain him the upper hand before Punk commandeered the chair and swung the momentum back his way. A little brotherly love goes a long way, though, and the thundering of The Undertaker's gong distracted Punk long enough for Kane to strike with the Chokeslam, sending the former WWE Champion to hell in his father's name.
The Phenom himself materialized after the pinfall had been counted, but as The Brothers of Destruction knelt in unison for one final tribute to The Father of Destruction, The Straight Edge Superstar seized Paul Bearer's precious urn and struck Kane from behind. Punk battered The Big Red Monster into submission with the urn, fleeing from the ring when The Phenom made his way to retaliate. Once Punk was at a safe distance, the former WWE Champion placed the ill-gotten talisman to his lips and knelt atop the stage in a mockery of The Undertaker's signature salute. While Punk preened atop the ramp, The Phenom stewed with rage between the ropes, his omnipotence and rage matched only by his powerlessness against the maiming of his brother and the desecration of the urn — as well as the man — he once held most precious.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Seth Rollins (w/ Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns) vs. The Big Show ended in a No Contest (0:40)
- Dolph Ziggler (w/ AJ Lee & Big E. Langston) defeated Daniel Bryan (11:35)
- Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow) vs. The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg) ended in a No Contest (1:51)
- Mark Henry defeated Kofi Kingston (2:25)
- Ryback defeated Heath Slater (w/ Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal) (1:05)
- Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) defeated Antonio Cesaro (4:35)
- Randy Orton & Sheamus defeated Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow) (8:00)
- Chris Jericho vs. The Miz ended in a No Contest in a Intercontinental Title #1 Contendership Match
- Jack Swagger (w/ Zeb Colter) defeated Sin Cara (1:50)
- Kane defeated CM Punk in a No Disqualification Match (12:00)
- Dark match: John Cena & Ryback defeated The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) by DQ in a Two Handicap Match
Other on-screen talent