Ol’ HBK is at it again, but local boy Randy Orton wasn't about to let this particular show be stopped quite so fast. Addressing the WWE Universe in anticipation of his special guest referee appointment at Hell in a Cell, Shawn Michaels promised to officiate the contest fair and square despite the involvement of both his protégé Daniel Bryan and his best friend's chosen champion, Orton. The Viper, however, wasn't buying what HBK was selling and quickly made himself known, vowing to take “Mr. WrestleMania” out for good if he should “screw” the former WWE Champion at Hell in a Cell.
Orton's fighting words didn't lead to an actual fight, as The Apex Predator barely missed a Superkick from a resistant HBK. And, to top it off, his potential retaliation was cut off by an awesome sneak attack from The Miz, whose long-awaited shot at payback against Orton had finally given way to a bona fide match.
The Miz waited for a long time to repay Randy Orton for his hometown beatdown in Cleveland last month, and thanks to Bray Wyatt, he'll have to wait until the next pass through St. Louis to do it. Hoping to humiliate the native son in his stomping ground, The Awesome One attacked Orton with reckless abandon and left himself vulnerable to sloppiness as a result. The Viper took advantage of Miz's rage to goad him into mistakes that swung the momentum, although it wasn't enough to dispatch Miz for good.
A timely counter of Orton's hanging DDT led to an "awesome" resurgence, yet right at the moment of truth, the arena lights cut out and The Wyatt Family materialized atop the entrance ramp. Orton capitalized by striking with the RKO, yet The Viper dispensed with his celebrations and made himself scarce when Wyatt addressed Miz for the second time.
“I do not wish to see you suffer,” said Wyatt, “I’m just gonna put you down.”
A dancer is only as good as his partner, and it seems that Fandango's found his step again thanks to a timely move by Summer Rae with a match on the line. The dancing Superstar's opponent in question was Santino, who had an extra pep in his step on the holiday honoring his countryman, Christopher Columbus.
Alas, national pride wasn't enough to carry The Italian Stallion, and the dancing devil promptly took Santino for a different kind of swing than he's been used to lately. The former Intercontinental Champion briefly bounced back and unleashed The Cobra, yet Summer's timely interference averted Santino's strike, and Fandango took advantage with a roll-up pin.
Make it tré! Los Matadores brought their hot streak to a hat trick on Raw when they took on the third combination of 3MB – Heath Slater & Drew McIntyre – and notched a victory that was just as impressive as their previous two. The Matadores’ athleticism gave them the early advantage, and some help on the outside from El Torito seemed to seal the deal with time to spare.
The rockers were able to reclaim the momentum, and Drew McIntyre very nearly handed the toreadors their first loss single-handedly. But Diego swung the match back the Matadores’ way when Fernando tagged his partner in, and the rest was history: One double-team later and Slater was down for the count, and El Torito provided the proverbial cherry on top by assisting the two in a post-match pounding of Jinder Mahal.
Mr. McMahon once famously warned Superstars not to “cross the Boss,” and it would appear that The Chairman's mentality has been passed down in full to his daughter and son-in-law. Following Big Show's firing by Stephanie and subsequent knockout of COO Triple H, “The Authority” not only pressed charges but vowed to reclaim anything of value the giant calls his own. Triple H in particular promised to make his detractors "grovel" at his feet, to say nothing of anyone who chanted the word "YES!" after Big Show had KO'ed him.
As if on cue, Daniel Bryan arrived to fan the flames of his celebration over the flattened COO the previous week by leading a massive "YES!" chant, but he was quickly attacked from behind by Alberto Del Rio. Sensing a business opportunity of sorts, Stephanie capitalized by scheduling Bryan to face “Mexico’s Greatest Export” later in the evenin while Triple H chanted "YES!" Call it a seal of approval.
There are no two ways about it: A lot was riding on Ryback and CM Punk's dueling Beat the Clock Challenges. With the chance to pick the stipulation of the Punk-Ryback rematch at Hell in a Cell at stake, the margin for error was small for Paul Heyman's humungous minion, and “The Big Guy” certainly came through in the clutch with a brutish defeat of a wily R-Truth.
The former U.S. Champion's battle plan was, as it turned out, to not even battle. Truth buzzed around Ryback like a fly, picking at “The Big Guy” before ducking under the ropes and high-fiving the WWE Universe to milk the clock and give his buddy Punk an easy time to beat. Heyman's timely interference all but handed Truth to Ryback on a platter but Truth refused to give in till the very end, fighting Ryback tooth and nail until he finally fell to Shell Shocked at 5:44.
Zeb Colter's comments about Los Matadores and their “little pet” currently running rampant in WWE were certainly ominous, but not so much as what his soldiers Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro did moments after The Founding Father had finished his lecture. Battling through the funky fury of Tons of Funk, The Real Americans deployed a coordinated power strike that saw them slowly dismantle their monstrous opponents punch by punch.
Brodus Clay provided Tensai assistance at the 11thhour, yet it wasn't enough to slow down the patriots’ momentum: With a helping hand from Swagger, Cesaro executed the Neutralizer on The Funkasaurus. Even after the pinfall was counted, though, the former U.S. Champion couldn't resist one last demonstration – perhaps to Los Matadores– by hauling Tensai up for the Cesaro Swing.
Brie Bella may have briefly sidelined AJ Lee from action, but the devious Divas Champion got some measure of payback against the future Mrs. Bryan by dispatching Tamina Snuka to discipline the latest, most persistent challenger to AJ's Divas Title. Brie put up a tough fight against Tamina, dazzling the Superfly Diva with quick kicks and leaps to the outside, but a big boot to the face put Brie down for the three-count.
With Brie prone on the mat, Tamina & AJ decided to make a demonstration of their own. First, Tamina plastered the former Divas Champion with the Superfly Splash, and AJ followed up by locking in the Black Widow, refusing to break the hold until Nikki Bella, who had been banned from ringside by Stephanie McMahon, finally came to her sister's aid.
Advantage: CM Punk. Not only did Curtis Axel fail to win second Beat the Clock Challenge against Punk, but as a result Paul Heyman will now find himself trapped in the most ungodly of situations against his estranged prodigal son.
Axel's task was relatively simple: Survive five minutes against the former WWE Champion and give Ryback the home field advantage at Hell in a Cell. But Punk came into the match like a man possessed, immediately peppering Axel's sternum with strikes and chops against the turnbuckle. The titleholder gave as good as he got, bringing Punk to the precipice of the time limit with the Perfect Plex, but The Second City Saint countered with the Go to Sleep with seconds to spare.
Punk's stipulation? Not only would he meet Ryback inside Hell in a Cell, but Heyman would join Ryback inside the Cell against him.
There's almost nothing that can make Daniel Bryan stop competing and willingly abandon a match. Almost. Despite coming within a beard hair's breadth of victory, the “Yes!” man willingly abdicated his bout with Alberto Del Rio when Randy Orton made his most brazen move yet and lured his fellow No. 1 contender away from combat.
That this even happened would have taken a truly atrocious act, since Bryan was hell bent from the get-go on making Del Rio pay for his earlier sneak attack. The ensuing contest wasn't so much a wrestling match at first than a fistfight, and a perfectly-scouted one at that: Del Rio was well-prepared for all of Bryan's moves and refused to yield the advantage. And yet, Bryan eventually did just that, pummeling Del Rio with a missile dropkick ... until, that is, Randy Orton appeared on the TitanTron entering the trainer's room, evidently attempting to threaten Brie Bella.
Bryan quickly abandoned the match and ran to his fiancée's aide, only to be attacked from behind and thrown headfirst into the trainer's tub by Orton. The chivalry not only cost him his health, but the bout, via Count-out, to Del Rio.
Looks like The Shield will be stuck at No. 5 for a while: Their Tag Team Championships are no more, property of Cody Rhodes & Goldust thanks to the No Disqualification stipulation that Triple H thought would ensure The Shield's victory, but instead helped the Rhodes brothers – and a surprise sympathizer – to relieve the corporate Hounds of their gilded collars.
With Dean Ambrose prowling at ringside, the threat of a 3-on-2 beatdown loomed large for the duration of the bout, yet the brothers kept the match even until Goldust found himself separated from his brother. The Bizarre One didn't fall quite so easily to the numbers game, though, fighting his way back to Cody and letting baby brother run rampant. The prodigy did not disappoint, but chaos erupted when The Shield swarmed Cody and the match degenerated into an all-out brawl.
With Superstars strewn everywhere, Ambrose rolled Roman Reigns in position to score the pinfall, but salvation arrived in the form of Big Show, who stormed the barricade and knocked the Hounds out, one by one, and left Cody to cover a pulverized Reigns for the pin. While the brothers celebrated and Triple H arrived to stew in his fury, the giant retreated into the WWE Universe and led a “YES!” chant in his first instance of post-firing disobedience. Whether it's his last is the biggest question of all.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Randy Orton defeated The Miz (5:15)
- Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) defeated Santino Marella (2:30)
- Los Matadores (Diego & Fernando) (w/ El Torito) defeat 3MB (Drew McIntyre & Heath Slater) (w/ Jinder Mahal) (4:05)
- Ryback (w/ Paul Heyman) defeated R-Truth in a Beat The Clock Challange Match (5:44)
- The Real Americans (Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger) defeated Tons of Funk (Brodus Clay & Tensai) (w/ Cameron & Naomi) (5:45)
- Tamina Snuka (w/ AJ Lee) defeated Brie Bella (4:30)
- CM Punk defeated Curtis Axel (w/ Paul Heyman) in a Beat The Clock Challange Match (5:33)
- Alberto Del Rio defeated Daniel Bryan by Count Out (16:25)
- Cody Rhodes & Goldust defeated The Shield (Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) (c) (w/ Dean Ambrose) in a No Disqualification match to win the WWE Tag Team Championship (19:20)
Other on-screen talent