As WrestleMania 29 nears, it is apparent that CM Punk will not honor the classic adage and give the devil his due. The Straight Edge Superstar strolled into The City of Brotherly Love with Paul Bearer's urn still in his possession and wasted no time in foretelling the downfall of The Undertaker.
Punk's pre-emptive requiem for The Phenom might have been a bit too soon, because the arena lights cut out and The Lord of Darkness himself appeared in the ring, dropping Punk with minimal fanfare and no small amount of relish. The Undertaker's attack knocked the urn loose, but his efforts to reclaim the talisman fell short when Paul Heyman snatched up the urn and fled to the locker room area with Punk on his heels. Still, in what may be the most personal contest in The Undertaker's WrestleMania career, consider the first punch thrown.
It appears the WWE Universe will never know who would attempt to pronounce Fandango's name in Philadelphia, because no sooner had the finicky Superstar made his entrance than Chris Jericho cut the newcomer off to administer some payback for Fandango's cheap shot against Y2J on SmackDown.
Watch: Y2J decks the dancer | Jericho schools The Showoff
Jericho's attack sent Fandango two-stepping back to the locker room, but Y2J's respite was short-lived because Dolph Ziggler chose that moment to make his entrance for their contest in Fandango's absence (Photos: Jericho vs. Ziggler). The longtime rivals clashed mightily, but Jericho gained the upper hand over The Showoff when he locked in the Walls of Jericho. Although Ziggler was forced to tap to the former Undisputed Champion, Big E Langston stormed the ring and flattened Jericho in retribution. The attack came too late to earn Jericho a disqualification win, but left him worse for wear anyway ... and all the more vulnerable when Fandango returned to pick the bones with a vicious top-rope leg drop that is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.
They say Ryback has the strength of multiple men, so Mark Henry did the only logical thing to prepare for “The Human Wrecking Ball’s” challenge at WrestleMania: He took on a tag team all by himself (Watch: Double trouble for Henry | Photos) In this case, the brave souls were none other than The Usos, and although the dynamic Samoans used their synchronized strikes to keep Henry on his heels, it wasn't enough to keep The World's Strongest Man down. A crisscross of superkicks took the big man off his feet for a moment, but Henry rallied fast to reopen the Hall of Pain's doors. One World's Strongest Slam later, and Henry's two-for-one victory was complete.
Like a walking Timex, Ricardo Rodriguez takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio's beloved friend may have been hobbled by Jack Swagger last week on Raw, but Rodriguez was there in all his glory to accompany The Pride of Mexico for his non-title Champion vs. Champion bout against Antonio Cesaro in the Wells Fargo Center. Unfortunately, Rodriguez's fortitude would come at Del Rio's expense when Swagger interfered in the match and targeted Rodriguez once more.
Del Rio had been in the midst of a rousing comeback against the brawling U.S. Champion Cesaro, who dominated early on, but once Swagger targeted Rodriguez, the World Champion willingly abdicated the bout and suffered a count-out loss as he drove the “Real American” back. Frustration ultimately got the better of The Essence of Excellence, and Del Rio put a post-match hurting on Cesaro with the Cross Armbreaker despite losing the match.
The Prime Time Players could have used Pancake Patterson on their side in Philadelphia, because it was they who found themselves flattened by Team Hell No in a major victory en route to their WWE Tag Title bout at WrestleMania 29. The audacious loudmouths came out swinging against the champs, looking to bully Daniel Bryan into an early defeat. But with Dolph Ziggler, Big E Langston and AJ Lee watching from the entrance ramp, the submission technician countered and summoned Kane from his corner. It was all she wrote from there, as The Devil's Favorite Demon spelled the Players’ doom with a Chokeslam to Darren Young for the victory.
With Triple H's days potentially numbered as a WWE Superstar, The Game took the opportunity to address the Philadelphia faithful in what may be his final trip to the Wells Fargo Center before he faces Brock Lesnar with his career at stake. The King of Kings was heartfelt in his sentiments but also defiant in the face of The Anomaly, vowing to persevere and overcome the odds that had been stacked against him ...
And then Wade Barrett interrupted.
The Intercontinental Champion's arrival went about as well as the WWE Universe might expect: No sooner had Barrett beckoned Triple H to hasten his exit than he found himself the recipient of a boot to the nether region that brought the champion down like a ton of bricks. That, as Barrett has just found out, is not how one plays The Game.
Wade Barrett's interruption of Triple H may have cost him more than just a bit of pride: The low blow that left the Intercontinental Champion wounded also left him vulnerable to the attacks of The Miz, who picked up a win over the weakened champion in The City of Brotherly Love.
Barrett didn't go easily in the bout, rallying from his pain to put Miz through his paces, but his longtime foil was simply fresher than the brawling Englishman. Miz powered his way through Barrett's barrage, going to work on the champion's knee and taking advantage of Barrett inadvertently aggravating his injury against the ropes, finally plying the Figure-Four Leglock for the hard-fought win.
As of yet, The Shield do not have a third opponent in their Six-Man Tag Team Match at WrestleMania 29. But they picked up an impressive victory on Raw nonetheless when Zack Ryder, Justin Gabriel & The Great Khali (Oddities, eat your heart out) teamed up to face the NXT veterans in a Six-Man Tag Match of their own. Despite the multifaceted nature of their opponents, The Shield triumphed yet again with a vicious-looking double-team on Gabriel, followed up with a Triple Powerbomb on The Great Khali.
But despite the formidable feat of planting The Punjabi Titan, they weren't out of the woods yet. Sheamus, Randy Orton & Big Show made their entrances once the match had ended, sending the “Hounds of Justice” into retreat mode and cementing their uneasy, yet formidable, alliance.
You won't see them dancing anytime soon, but that doesn't mean Team Rhodes Scholars’ win over Brodus Clay & Tensai was as sweet as the ginseng Tensai has come to be named for. It might seem unlikely that the scruffy ham-and-eggers of the Scholars could triumph over the boogieing bruisers, but it always helps to have a little twin magic on your side in an impossible situation.
Team Rhodes Scholars were bringing the pain to The Funkasaurus and his tattooed tag partner when The Funkadactyls tussled with the Bellas on the outside. The ensuing fracas gave Rhodes the opportunity to capitalize with a Disaster Kick to Clay, felling the big man for the three-count.
Mark Henry demolished two opponents in The City of Brotherly Love, so it was only fitting that Ryback demanded the chance to one-up The World’ Strongest Man by taking on the entirety of 3MB by his lonesome. Despite his deep disadvantage in the numbers game, “The Human Wrecking Ball” ran roughshod over the rockers, dismantling the beleaguered guitar zeroes despite a brief spurt of dominance from the bandmates.
Give Heath Slater & Co. credit for their fearlessness, but even the kings of rock amounted to no more than an appetizer for Ryback when the beast unleashed an old-school double Shell Shocked on Slater and Jinder Mahal for the win
There was a time when AJ Lee and Kaitlyn were best of friends. That time is no longer. The Divas Champion had her hands full with her former BFF when the former “Chickbusters” had it out in the Wells Fargo Center as a result of a backstage scuffle earlier in the evening. Needless to say, the sisterly love was nonexistent between the two but, for all the knocks on AJ's mental stability, she proved herself the wilier of the two when she dodged Kaitlyn's spear outside the ring. Kaitlyn's momentum sent the champion crashing headlong into the barricade, giving AJ a count-out victory when Kaitlyn was knocked too loopy to make it back to the apron.
Quid pro quo, WWE Universe: With less than two weeks until their epic WrestleMania rematch, WWE Champion The Rock and John Cena got together for an informal Q-and-A from a foursome of WWE Legends: Mick Foley, Dusty Rhodes, Booker T and Bret “Hit Man” Hart. The back and forth — moderated by Jerry “The King” Lawler — started respectfully enough, but that was before Rhodes made the suggestion that the WrestleMania opponents “take them gloves off” and stop with softball questions.
That proved to be the final push the opponents needed, and escalating tensions led to a challenge from The Rock: “You wanna prove me wrong at WrestleMania, prove me wrong. Better yet: How ’bout you prove me wrong right now?”
With the journalistic integrity of the Q-and-A compromised, chaos ensued as Cena got in Rock's face and The Great One threw hands against his challenger, countering an Attitude Adjustment into a Rock Bottom that rattled the lecterns and left the Hall of Famers speechless. Clearly, The Rock is ready for WrestleMania. Whether Cena can rise to the challenge is the only question (and answer) that matters.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Chris Jericho defeated Dolph Ziggler (w/ AJ Lee & Big E. Langston) (7:30)
- Mark Henry defeated The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) in a Two On One Handicap Match (1:35)
- Antonio Cesaro defeated Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) by Count Out (3:25)
- Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan & Kane) defeated The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O'Neil) (4:25)
- The Miz defeated Wade Barrett (13:30)
- The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) defeated Justin Gabriel, The Great Khali & Zack Ryder (2:35)
- Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow) (w/ Brie Bella & Nikki Bella) defeated Brodus Clay & Tensai (w/ Cameron & Naomi) (2:30)
- Ryback defeated 3MB (Drew McIntyre, Heath Slater & Jinder Mahal) in a Three On One Handicap Match (4:05)
- AJ Lee defeated Kaitlyn by Count Out (2:00)
Other on-screen talent