Anarchy in the U.K. may be an exaggeration, but with Triple H & Stephanie McMahon on vacation, Raw's foray across the pond ended with bickering between a trio of authority figures, with the WWE Champion left to deal with the fallout. WWE Champion Randy Orton, Raw General Manager Brad Maddox and newly christened WWE Director of Operations Kane each claimed stewardship of the show, giving input as to which WWE Tag Team Champion Orton should face in the night's opening contest, with the put-upon GM favoring Cody Rhodes, while Kane clamored for Goldust. With frustrations mounting, it was SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero who made the proverbial lemonade, though the results left an appropriately sour expression on the “Face of WWE”: Orton would face not one Rhodes brother, but both in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match.
Even a Viper knows when retreat is the wisest maneuver, though it's unlikely Randy Orton was prepared for the consequences when he decided he'd had enough of his Handicap contest against Cody Rhodes & Goldust. The Apex Predator was, to be fair, a victim of matchmaking-by-committee thanks to the power vacuum left in The Authority's absence, and took a while to get his momentum in a situation he had not prepared for.
The red-hot Rhodes brethren seized early control, with Goldust taking the lion's share of the time against The Authority's chosen champion. The Viper slowly turned the tables against The Bizarre One until Cody's re-entry swung the contest so far in the brothers’ favor that The Viper ditched the match altogether for a Count-out loss. Orton had only made it halfway up the ramp when Big Show – rumored to be too injured to appear – sauntered out and rewarded The Viper's strategic exit with The World's Largest Payback, knocking The Apex Predator around before chokeslamming him through the announcer's table.
As it turns out, an English makeover did nothing to stem 3MB's poor fortune of late. Despite their shameless adopted identity of “The Union Jacks,” the three-headed rock monster was powerless against the international superpower of Santino Marella and Los Matadores. Granted, the group's “Austin Powers”-inspired pants did briefly give them some good mojo against their opponents, but a combination of El Torito's hijinks and Santino – who donned a pair of bull horns for the occasion – doomed the Jacks to defeat when The Italian Stallion struck down Jinder Mahal with a bull-horned Cobra for the win.
The onetime “Uncrowned World Heavyweight Champion” has taken his first step at the road to redemption, much to the chagrin of Kofi Kingston. The Boom Squad General made the mistake of mocking Mr. Sandow in the locker-room area, and was repaid with a well-and-thorough thrashing from The Intellectual Savior of the Masses. So aggressive was Sandow's offense that, apart from a brief burst at the midway point, the former Intercontinental Champion never even got a chance to make an impact. Sandow traded pompous speechifying for in-ring punishment by beating Kofi into the defensive, tripping him up in the ropes when Kofi revved up for a springboard, and quickly following with a match-ending “You’re Welcome.”
As far as quick turnarounds go, Curtis Axel can lay claim to a solid one. Seven days after a humiliating loss to Dolph Ziggler, the Intercontinental Champion rebounded with a resoundingly successful title defense in Manchester. Despite the fact that Paul Heyman was still nowhere to be seen, Axel held his own against the former World Heavyweight Champion and, despite long stretches of dominance by The Showoff, came through in the clutch when it mattered most.
Photos: Axel shows up Ziggler | Watch the title defense
The contest got heated almost immediately, with Ziggler daring Axel to get a piece of him and the champion responding with some truly enthusiastic brawling. The Showoff fought like a man possessed to reverse his fortunes and claim his second Intercontinental Title, and nearly accomplished the feat by knocking Axel loopy with a top-rope facebuster. Axel weathered the storm, though, and stole The Showoff's thunder by driving him into the mat for a last-ditch victory.
Curtis Axel wasn't the only second-generation Superstar who got their groove back on Raw this week, as Tamina Snuka avenged her own humiliation from the previous Raw – suffering a pinfall from Newbie Diva Eva Marie – by defeating one of Eva's “Total Divas” costars, Nikki Bella. It was a touch-and-go affair for Tamina initially, as Nikki kicked off the match by battering her across the ring. Tamina found her momentum by outright mauling the former Divas Champion, stringing Nikki up in the ropes and driving her to the mat with power maneuvers. An assist from AJ Lee helped Tamina seal the deal with a Superfly Splash, though a bit of post-match retribution from Brie suggests this rivalry may not be done yet.
Leave it to Fandango to crash the party, as he cut Tyson Kidd down to size just one week after submitting to the returning veteran in a Mixed Tag Team Match on Raw. It's clear by now that Kidd's hybrid style hadn't suffered despite his long injury layoff, but Fandango was clearly prepared this time around, and kept pace with the former Tag Team Champion for the entire duration of the match. Kidd's early acrobatics fell short when Fandango hurled him over the ropes and slowed Kidd's momentum by grappling him to the mat, though the Hart Dungeon graduate picked up some steam with a hurricanrana off the ring apron. Kidd's enthusiasm got the better of him, though, when Fandango reversed a springboard rollup into a pinfall.
Sorry, Zeb-itarians, John Cena still won't be joining The Real Americans’ movement anytime soon. Despite Zeb Colter's attempts to conscript The Champ into his ranks alongside Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro, the Cenation leader held strong in both principle and practice by defeating Colter's boys in a Handicap Match in Manchester. Swagger & Cesaro were welcomed about as well as one might expect from the international crowd, though the reception did nothing to slow the Americans’ momentum in the opening moments.
Despite a counter of the Cesaro swing into an attempted STF, the Americans kept Cena on his heels with a slew of strategic tags and well-honed team maneuvers. (The unwelcome arrival of Alberto Del Rio on commentary also did The Champ's focus no favors.) It was quick timing that saved the day when Cena sprung a quick-strike STF on Swagger for the tapout win ... though Del Rio made The Champ pay by locking in the Cross Armbreaker in the crux of a steel chair, punishing Cena's surgically repaired arm until Big E Langston stormed to the rescue.
Give Ryback a big man and he will muscle his way into victory, but seven days after knocking off The Great Khali, The Human Wrecking Ball found himself laid low by the incomparable quickness of former U.S. Champion R-Truth. “The Big Guy” didn't exactly appreciate the dissing rap Truth made his entrance to, and did everything he could to pulverize Truth into defeat. Ryback's demonstration carried on a little too far, though, and Truth's quick dodge of a corner splash by left Ryback stumbling into a roll-up pin before he even knew what was up.
As it turns out, “Mexico’s Greatest Export” doesn't take lightly to having his fun spoiled. Big E Langston's intrusion of Alberto Del Rio's attack on John Cena did not go unnoticed by Kane, Brad Maddox & Vickie Guerrero, who gave Del Rio the opportunity to face Langston one-on-one just a few minutes after the encounter. The Essence of Excellence rose grandly to the challenge, renewing his old rivalry with Langston and notching a win in the process. Langston's power seemed certain to give him the win after he plastered Del Rio with a running splash. The former World Champion prevailed, however, escaping the Big Ending and trapping the powerlifting champion in the Cross Armbreaker for the tapout victory.
Paul Heyman – or at least what's left of him – is back. Flanked by the victorious Curtis Axel, the mad scientist made his return to Raw as a wheelchair-bound wretch, donning a neck brace, arm sling, back brace and leg cast. And he is not happy. Not only did Heyman more or less dismiss Ryback as a potential Paul Heyman Guy, but he blamed the WWE Universe itself for the beating CM Punk administered at Hell in a Cell. Heyman's promise of vengeance against his prodigal son was quickly interrupted by the man himself, who quickly dispatched Axel and hacked Heyman to pieces with a Kendo stick he produced from beneath the ring.
Who says old rivals don't make good tag team partners? Bolstered by CM Punk's humiliation of Paul Heyman, The Second City Saint & Daniel Bryan came out cocky and confident against The Shield in Kane's first Raw main event as Director of Operations. The pair initially targeted Seth Rollins until he was forced to summon Roman Reigns, who initiated the “numbers game” attack that left Bryan at their mercy. The “Yes!” man saved the day with a last-gasp tag of Punk, yet before The Second City Saint could put the opposition to sleep the lights cut out and The Wyatt Family swarmed the ring.
Punk & Bryan caught a lucky break when tensions boiled over into a brawl between The Shield and The Wyatts. Their luck was short-lived when Bray marshaled the warring factions into targeting their “common enemy.” All seemed lost until The Usos & Rhodes brothers stormed the ring, saving Punk & Bryan from certain doom and ensuring they would survive to see another fight.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Cody Rhodes & Goldust defeated Randy Orton by Count Out in a Two On One Handicap Match (10:43)
- Santino Marella and Los Matadores (Diego & Fernando) (w/ El Torito) defeated The Union Jacks (Drew McIntyre, Heath Slater & Jinder Mahal) (2:55)
- Damien Sandow defeated Kofi Kingston (3:53)
- Curtis Axel (c) defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship (9:05)
- Tamina Snuka (w/ AJ Lee) defeated Nikki Bella (w/ Brie Bella) (4:24)
- Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) defeated Tyson Kid (w/ Natalya) (2:57)
- John Cena defeated The Real Americans (Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro) (w/ Zeb Colter) in a Two On One Handicap Match (12:52)
- R-Truth defeated Ryback (4:02)
- Alberto Del Rio defeated Big E. Langston (4:05)
- CM Punk & Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield (Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose) in a Two on Three Handicap match ended in a no contest (16:00)
Other on-screen talent
Kane, Brad Maddox and Vickie Guerrero argued over control of Raw
Cody Rhodes & Goldust v Randy Orton
Los Matadores & Santino Marella v "The Union Jacks"
Damien Sandow v Kofi Kingston
Curtis Axel v Dolph Ziggler
Tamina Snuka v Nikki Bella
Fandango v Tyson Kidd
John Cena v The Real Americans
R-Truth v Ryback
Alberto Del Rio v Big E. Langston
Paul Heyman addressed the WWE Universe
CM Punk & Daniel Bryan v The Shield
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