The Voice of the Voiceless, CM Punk, took to the airwaves as Raw began, throwing accusations of cowardice in the general direction of both John Cena and Mick Foley. Punk condemned them for their actions the previous week (Cena for battering Punk with a lead pipe while the WWE Champion's back was turned and Foley for a perceived act of disrespect in the locker room area as Raw went to black). While The Second City Saint showed little to no remorse for his attack on The Hardcore Legend in the locker room, he did say that Mrs. Foley's Baby Boy managed to reach Punk with his impassioned plea to face John Cena at Hell in a Cell for the WWE Title. That said, he must not have reached the WWE Champion all too well, because despite Foley's "eloquent" speech, the match was still not going to happen.
With that business settled, The Voice of the Voice of the Voiceless, Paul Heyman, was next to step up to the mic. He took Raw General Manager AJ Lee to task for striking him last week following the mad scientist's marriage proposal and called for her termination as GM for violating a previous edict by the WWE Board of Directors preventing AJ from putting her hands on any competitors, managers or the like ever again. And who would fill the power void left by Miss Lee's hypothetical removal from power? Paul Heyman.
Vickie Guerrero, however, was not having it. Flanked by Dolph Ziggler, the "Queen Diva" strode to the ring with great purpose and made her case for assuming the GM position. Jaw-jacking followed, which left The Showoff to assume the unlikely role of peacekeeper: What if, Ziggler posed, Vickie and Heyman were to team up as Co-GMs following AJ's potential ouster.
This left AJ no choice but to make her presence known, revealing to her assembled, would-be usurpers that the Board of Directors had placed her on probation, and she had hired an "Executive Coach" to help her through an evaluation period. Which promptly brought out ...
Yes (yes, yes, yes), Team Hell No's bearded technical maven stormed down to the ring, somehow managing between his apoplectic screams of "NO!" to assert that AJ's issues have been compounded by her dumping at the hands of Bryan following his WrestleMania loss. Bryan nefariously twiddled his beard as he extolled his own physical virtues ("I AM HANDSOME!!!!") and championship acumen ("I'M THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!!!!"). This brought out Kane, who tossed a compliment AJ's way ("she is a phenomenal kisser!") before correcting one of Bryan's points: that Kane, not Bryan, was the Tag Team Champions.
Chaos followed, with Kane, Bryan, Ziggler, Punk, Vickie and Heyman all screaming over each other before AJ regained control of the masses. "This is my show," seethed the boss lady, decreeing that the night's main event would be Punk & Ziggler facing the WWE Tag Team Champions, Team Hell No.
Sporting newly matching ring gear and an abundance of energy even for them, Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara took to the ring like two Tasmanian devils en route to dispatching Primo & Epico and sending the lucha icons one round deeper into the WWE Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contenders' Tournament.
The victory didn't come without its difficulties, nor did it come without its distractions. The Prime Time Players made a grand show of seating themselves at the top of the entrance ramp to scout their potential competition, and Primo & Epico hardly went quietly into the good night against the two masked men from Mexico. Epico in particular seemed to have Sin Cara in a tight spot, nearly neutralizing The Mexican Sensation before Sin Cara rebounded with a tornado DDT and a quick tag to Rey Mysterio.
The Ultimate Underdog was all aces from there, displaying his trademark quickness and eventually hitting both Primo & Epico with a double 619, taking flight from the top rope and Dropping the Dime on Primo to send the duo one round deeper into the tournament.
How do you say "wow!" in five different languages? Because that's precisely what the WWE Universe was left saying when U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro collided with The Funkasaurus Brodus Clay, in a fast and furious match that saw the powerful polyglot deal a rare loss to The Funky One. The difference-maker, as it turned out, was Ceasro's pure power when, after a furious back-and-forth that saw Cesaro take flight with a springboard elbow, the champion wrenched the massive Brodus up for the Neutralizer. Cesaro kept Clay airborne a few seconds for good measure before pummeling The Funkasaurus face-first into the canvas, notching a three count and putting big Brodus down for the week. Sacre bleu!
It's been a rough weekend for The Miz, following his loss to Ryback on Raw and "Miz TV's" descent into chaos last Friday on SmackDown, but The Awesome One managed to get himself a much-needed victory on Raw when he felled a surging Zack Ryder in Oklahoma City.
Sporting a new T-shirt, The Miz took to the ring with great purpose against The Long Island Iced-Z, withstanding a strong barrage of offense from the social Superstar and displaying the tenacity and skill typically associated with the holder of the Intercontinental Title. Ryder (who had a new shirt of his own as well) looked for a moment like he'd be able to get the W over The Awesome One when he gave Miz a faceful of foot with the Broski Boot, but Miz's counter of the Rough Ryder gave the champion just enough breathing room to mount a comeback. With Ryder stunned, Miz planted The Ultimate Broski with a Skull-Crushing Finale to earn the victory.
It's safe to say there won't be too many debates like this up on Capitol Hill.
Hot on the heels of earning the No. 1 contender's spot for Sheamus' World Heavyweight Title, Big Show was called to dust off his public speaking skills when he squared off against The Celtic Warrior in a World Championship Debate in Oklahoma City.
Big Show was first to take the mic, and his opening statement was nothing if not to the point: he would walk into Hell in a Cell, KO Sheamus, take the World Title, potentially rip Sheamus' leg off should a Brogue Kick attempt ensue, and leave. Sheamus' rebuttal was typically jovial, jokingly asking the giant to refrain from taking his leg off.
Moderated by SmackDown GM Booker T, the debate began in earnest when the two Superstars were asked to reveal what they found to be the most challenging aspect of their opponent, Sheamus extolled the strength and power of The World's Largest Athlete (although he did have some less-than kind words about Show's supposed B.O.). "My biggest concern is that this match lasts longer than 45 seconds," sneered Sheamus, referencing the giant's short-lived World Title reign last December at the WWE TLC pay-per-view. This provoked the ire of the giant, but once Booker T calmed the big man down, the back-and-forth continued.
Asked to reveal which was more devastating, the Brogue Kick or W.M.D., Show began to list the positive attributes of his signature strike, only leading to Sheamus hitting him with another "45-second" jab. As the debate threatened to spiral into physicality, Sheamus attempted to calm things down by cuing up a Tout from his "cousin," Rey Mysterio Sullivan. A mocking, masked visage suspiciously resembling The Great White appeared on the TitanTron, demeaning Big Show with derogatory jokes before ending in a good-spirited "arriba!"
What followed was the proverbial calm before the storm, as Show dropped all pretense of civility and stared The Celtic Warrior down with fury in his eyes.
"Do you have something serious to offer?" Show snarled at Sheamus.
"How does it feel to lose the World Heavyweight Championship to Daniel Bryan in 45 seconds, only to have him lose it to me in 18 seconds?" grinned The Great White.
For a moment, then, it seemed like the gloves were going to come off, and the big fight wouldn't be waiting until Hell in a Cell. But after a long, internal debate of his own, Big Show decided to fight another day. The only question left is: will the big fight will be as lighthearted an affair for Sheamus as Raw was? The answer: Debatable.
Once wasn't enough, as it turned out: the two tians of WWE, Ryback and Tensai, collided again in a rematch of their epic clash last Friday on SmackDown. And while the result was ultimately the same, victory nearly eluded the mighty Ryback after Tensai was able to counter several of the big man's strikes. Tensai, clearly prepared for much of Ryback's arsenal, countered the "human wrecking machine" with vicious elbows to the face, but Ryback found his groove quickly, hoisting Tensai up for a powerslam and decking the monstrous gaijin with an earth-shattering clothesline to keep his undefeated streak alive.
If you can't get it done in the boardroom, it's time to bring the fight to the squared circle: after attempting (and failing) to suspend Beth Phoenix on SmackDown last Friday, Divas Champion Eve took to the ring against The Glamazon to settle their differences the old-fashioned way: a one-on-one contest between the ropes. Happily for Eve, it went much better than her administrative attempt to remove The Glamazon, as she picked up a big win over Beth in the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The contest was evenly matched for the majority of its duration, although Eve proved herself the more wily of the two competitors when she rammed Beth into the ring apron, knocking the wind out of The Glamazon in an attempt to stop the former Divas Champion from gaining momentum. Beth rallied, though, leaving Eve to resort to yet another dubious tactic: seemingly exaggerating an injury to her midsection, Eve retreated to the ropes until Beth let her guard down before planting The Glamazon with a neckbreaker to seal the contest.
The show ended early for Santino Marella on Raw when Santino Marella, seemingly ready to pick up a win over Heath Slater, faced the curtain at the hands of what Jim Ross called "The Band:" Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal.
The Italian Stallion was well on his way to sending Slater to the showers, countering The One-Man Band's top-rope strike with a boot to the face, followed up by his signature hiptoss. But when The Cobra came out, the performance was cut tragically short when "The Maharajah" Mahal and McIntyre, who had been lurking ringside, made their presence known with a vicious beatdown of the former U.S. Champion. Having displayed their strength in numbers, "The Band" took their final bows. We think it's safe to say, however, that the show is just getting started.
In the battle of brains and brawn, brawn does not necessarily always win. But it sure did on Monday night, after World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus made a resounding example of Damien Sandow after The Enlightened One deigned to demean the World Titleholder following Sheamus' World Championship Debate against Big Show.
The Intellectual Savior of the Masses attempted to make use of his swift athleticism in the battle against the punishing Sheamus, but time and again The Celtic Warrior was able to stop Sandow before he could get his rhythm going. A Sandow headlock would typically lead to a power move from Sheamus that rattled every point of Sandow's IQ, although the "Rhodes Scholar" was able to escape a potential disaster when Sheamus grabbed a fistful of Sandow's immaculately kempt beard.
Teamwork from Sandow's partner Cody Rhodes, who joined the announce team, helped keep The Enlightened One in the hunt for a victory, though, after Rhodes distracted Sheamus long enough for Sandow to level The Great White with a big clothesline outside the ring. Sandow followed up that reprieve with a strong surge of offense, grounding Sheamus with a series of technical holds, culminating with the Elbow of Disdain to the ribs of the World Heavyweight Champion.
An attempted comeback from The Great white was slow getting off the ground as well, after Sandow turned Sheamus' own momentum against him and trapped him in yet another series of intricate holds that seemed to spell doom for the brawling champion. But for all of Sandow's athleticism, proficiency, and somewhat surprising rage on the mat, he was unable to keep Sheamus down for the three count.
And that, as it turned out, was his undoing. Down but not out, Sheamus managed to create some separation from The Enlightened One, and despite Sandow expertly dodging a last-gasp Brogue Kick, the punishment continued when Sheamus strung Sandow up in the ropes for hsi signature forearm clubs, pausing only briefly to dole out an extra shot to Cody Rhodes when he tried to interfere. Having caught a monstrous second win, Sheamus threw both Rhodes and Sandow into the ring and knocked both Rhodes Scholars to the mat with a double Brogue Kick, catching both their craniums with one boot. Class dismissed.
It was supposed to be J.R.'s night in Oklahoma City, as the WWE Hall of Famer was set to receive an "appreciation night" in his home state. But before Good Ol' J.R. could get his words of thanks in to the Chesapeake Energy Center crowd, "Cult of Personality" ripped through the loudspeakers and WWE Champion CM Punk made his presence known for the second time in the evening.
After dismissing Michael Cole and offering J.R. some strong words praise ("you're the best announcer we have and I respect the hell out of you"), Punk promptly snatched the thunder from the Okie native's hands and proceeded to demean and insult the assemled Oklahoma crowd, who he claimed "[didn't] know the first thing about respect." However, since J.R. does know about respect, The Second City Saint attempted to rope the Hall of Famer into teaching the WWE Universe about respect "by telling them that I'm the Best in the World."
J.R. didn't bite, turning Punk's intrusion on its head by saying The Second City Saint had been doing a fantastic job of making a "jackass" out of himself over previous weeks. Sincerely floored by J.R.'s insult, Punk turned bilious in a matter of moments, mocking J.R.'s accent and his famous cry of "STONE COLD! STONE COLD! STONE COLD!" and threatening Good Ol' J.R. with bodily harm if he refused to bend to Punk's will and declare him the Best in the World.
Again, J.R. didn't bite. And he threw Punk's anger right back in his face, asserting that, if the champion truly wanted to be the Best in the World, he would face John Cena at Hell in a Cell and prove himself in the place where rivalries are settled. Should he manage that, J.R. said, he would be the first one to offer Punk his proper congratulations.
By way of a reply, The Second City Saint knocked J.R.'s hat off his head and offered him an ultimatum: "you fight me or you leave."
Defeated, J.R. chose the path of peace and attempted to resume his place at the announce table, but Punk wasn't having it: he demanded that Ross leave the arena through the ramp, prohibited by order of the Best in the World from doing what he loved the most. Overpowered, J.R. made his walk back up the ramp, when the familiar cry of "FEED ME" boomed out and the Hall of Famer found himself a monstrous escort. With Ryback at his side, J.R. made his way back to the ring and Punk, once again at a loss for words, backed away from the titan's imposing stare for the second time in as many weeks.
Alberto Del Rio was a man on a mission Monday night when he clashed with the Ghanaian dynamo, Kofi Kingston, in a hotly contested battle that saw The Essence of Excellence make yet another statement by brutalizing an opponent past the bell's final toll.
Kofi, perhaps riding the wave of his thrilling battle with Dolph Ziggler last week, was unfazed by The Mexican Aristocrat's aggression, executing a highlight-reel worthy crossbody off the turnbuckle that left Del Rio sprawled about the entrance ramp. Del Rio rallied against The Boom Squad General's high-octane offense, though, locking Kofi up in a torturous abdominal stretch. Del Rio dodged Trouble in Paradise before decimating Kofi's midsection with a series of vicious kicks, finally locking in the Cross Armbreaker and refusing to break the hold after Kofi tapped. It was only after R-Truth ran in to make the save that The Essence of Excellence finally let up — his point made and his mean streak continuing.
Looks like Team Hell No is finally getting their groove: the infighting was minimal, the chemistry was strong and the end result was undeniable when the odd-couple champions picked up a win over WWE Champion CM Punk & Mr. Money in the Bank Dolph Ziggler, with Punk himself suffering the deciding pinfall of the evening.
There was one wrinkle that did threaten to derail the whole enterprise: Following a tense job evaluation at the hands of her "Executive Coach," AJ Lee decided to prove her mettle as a leader by suiting up in the zebra stripes and taking the referee's job for the evening's main event. But despite her romantic history with the majority of the in-ring competitors, the Raw General Manager called the match fair and down the middle.
Punk & Ziggler worked surprisingly well together given their status as an odd couple. Ziggler mounted a strong offense against The Devil's Favorite Demon when he locked the monstrous Tag Champion in a sleeper hold while Punk and Bryan briefly resumed their epic, technical rivalry when the two found themselves in the ring together. The mounting synergy of Team Hell No won out in the end, however, with Kane & Bryan executing a series of tandem moves and, despite a few unwanted tags, displaying a newfound proficiency and protectiveness toward each other. Kane, in particular, seemed incensed when Ziggler attempted to batter Bryan outside the apron.
Ultimately, the team that demanded the most validation found itself short when AJ ejected Paul Heyman and Vickie Guerrero. Vickie promptly commanded Ziggler to leave as well and The Showoff, though conflicted, obliged. With Punk left alone in the lion's den, it fell to Kane to spell The Second City Saint's doom with a bone-rattling Chokeslam that left The Voice of the Voiceless staring up at the lights.
True to form, Team Hell No couldn't celebrate the victory without a little bit of infighting, as Kane and Bryan resumed their "I'm the Tag Team Champions" back and forth in Raw's closing minutes. It would appear that true harmony (and CM Punk's quest for validation) will have to wait at least one more week.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara defeated Epico & Primo in a WWE Tag Team Title #1 Contendership Tournament First Round Match (9:22)
- Antonio Cesaro defeated Brodus Clay (w/ Naomi & Cameron) (1:07)
- The Miz defeated Zack Ryder (2:38)
- Ryback defeated Tensai (1:49)
- Eve defeated Beth Phoenix (2:35)
- Santino Marella defeated Heath Slater (due to interference of Band members Jinder Mahal & Drew McIntyre) by Disqualification (2:49)
- Sheamus defeated Damien Sandow (w/ Cody Rhodes) (15:43)
- Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) defeated Kofi Kingston (6:08)
- Team Hell No (Kane & Daniel Bryan) defeated CM Punk & Dolph Ziggler (with AJ as Special Guest Referee) (12:44)
WWE Tag Team Tournament
- Tournament so far
- For finished brackets
|The Uso Brothers||1:56|
|Ryder & Marella|
|Kidd & Gabriel|
|Kofi Kingston & R-Truth|
|The Prime Time Players|
|Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara|
|Epico & Primo||Pin|
|Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara||9:22|
Other on-screen talent