Being fired has done nothing to diminish the resolve of Big Show, who has made life far worse for Triple H & Stephanie McMahon than he ever did while he was employed at WWE. Having already cost The Shield their Tag Titles, KO’ed Brad Maddox on SmackDown and filed a lawsuit against The Authority, the giant continued his rebellion when he interrupted Triple H & Stephanie's address via satellite.
The World's Largest Athlete's plus-sized rundown of the head honchos was unfortunately cut short along with his feed. But for all of Triple H's gloating after the fact, spirit of Show's civil disobedience carried on when Daniel Bryan pre-emptively stormed the ring and led the WWE Universe in a “YES!” chant that left The King of Kings and his queen stewing in the ring.
With only one Hound of Justice standing between him and the contract signing that would send him to Hell in a Cell, Daniel Bryan showed no signs of slowing down as the biggest night of his career approaches. Even though Dean Ambrose's U.S. Title wasn't up for grabs, Bryan battled the black-clad brawler like a man possessed, chopping away at the champion in the early goings.
Ambrose, it must be said, did not shrink from Bryan's challenge in the slightest. The Shield's lone remaining titleholder gave the “Yes!” man hell, fighting through the grappler's grueling holds and keeping the tilt on an even keel. True to form, though, Bryan battled through the adversity, pulverizing Ambrose with kicks to the face and reversing the champion's attempt at a roll-up into the “Yes!” Lock for the tapout.
The WWE Universe knows CM Punk has a way with words, but it's when he keeps his missives short and sweet you know he means business. Such was the case on Monday when he arrived in Memphis with very little fanfare and a whole lot of attitude on his mind. With a quiet rage that vibrated through the entire FedEx Forum, Punk made his cruel intentions known in his own cruelly succinct way:
“My plan isn’t to pin Paul Heyman, shoulders to the mat. I’m not even considering locking him in a wrestling hold and making him submit. The plan is to put Ryback to sleep,” said Punk. “And then I’m gonna enjoy watching Paul Heyman wiggle around like a little worm on a big hook. And then I’m gonna corner him like the dog he is, and I’m gonna smash his face into every single inch of steel that structure has to offer, because that’s what he deserves.”
Who knew Santino was an Elvis fan? Battling Heath Slater, the former Intercontinental Champion left The One Man Band all shook up, and all while rocking The King’s signature rhinestones and pompadour. Slater’s moxie didn’t save them from a royal walloping at the hands of The Italian Stallion, as Santino wore Slater down with Elvis-style kara-tay and finally withdrew a Cobra that was also gussied up in Presley gear – call it a King Cobra – to strike Slater down.
Ever the benevolent King, though, Santino celebrated his victory by honoring Raw’s own resident Memphis monarch, Jerry Lawler, even sharing a little shake, rattle & roll with the Hall of Famer atop the commentary table. That'll light the morning skies right there.
With Daniel Bryan rolling strong into Hell in a Cell thanks to his earlier victory, Randy Orton was hard-pressed to find momentum of his own against Dolph Ziggler. When all was said and done, that’s exactly what he did. The Viper was more than ready for Ziggler’s challenge, methodically dissecting the former World Heavyweight Champion and earning himself a strong victory to carry him into “Hell.”
Despite a smothering opening attack from The Showoff, Orton was relentless when he got his groove going, working Ziggler's arm on the mat and, later, battering Dolph's body off the barricade. Ziggler dropped his normal theatrics for some old-fashioned fisticuffs and perfectly-timed strikes to cut Orton's momentum short, yet all the heart in the world didn't stop The Apex Predator from picking Dolph's defense apart, punctuating his feast with a match-ending RKO.
AJ Lee made Brie Bella her personal plaything last week on Raw, but the “Black Widow” got the proverbial boot when the odds were evened in a Tag Team Match in Memphis. With Nikki Bella no longer banned from ringside and The Bella Twins at full strength, the polarizing champion had her hands full even while teaming with her muscle, Tamina Snuka.
Tamina did the majority of the dirty work, strong-arming Nikki into a stupor before tagging AJ in. The polarizing champion clearly thought dispatching Nikki would be a cakewalk, skipping around her stunned opponent. Nikki fought back, though, and as soon as Brie tagged in AJ was good as done, powerless against a furious onslaught from her No. 1 contender. One facebuster later and AJ was down for the count, but will it happen again at Hell in a Cell?
They say there is strength in numbers, but not even the combined efforts of Bray Wyatt's past and rivals were enough to defeat The Eater of Worlds’ prized disciples, Erick Rowan & Luke Harper. The two former Intercontinental Champions never even had a chance to get going, as Harper & Rowan all but tore The Miz to shreds (Harper in particular mauled Miz with a lengthy gator roll) and followed suit when The Awesome One did manage to tag Kofi into the match.
The Boom Squad General got a brief head of steam going, but he was cut brutally short by Harper's discus clothesline for the 1-2-3. Miz's attempt to save his teammate from further punishment ended in disaster as well, as The Wyatts wrangled The Awesome One into the ropes and Bray delivered yet another speech to his enemy, promising to lead him to the gates of Hell itself.
Big E Langston's moment of respect with CM Punk seems to have ballooned into something more: Far from just sharing a head nod with The Straight Edge Superstar, the big man is now taking issue with Punk's enemies. Pushed by a backstage argument to face Curtis Axel in the ring, the former NXT Champion didn't even get a chance to fight Axel proper before the champ's partners in crime struck the powerhouse with a group attack. Even Heyman got a shot in on Langston with a Kendo stick, but the gang-up brought out Punk himself to even the odds. With the fight spiraling out of control, SmackDown GM Vickie Guerrero (filling in for the, well, indisposed Brad Maddox) made some proverbial lemonade out of a sour situation by turning the melee into a tag team match.
The mantra “no new friends” clearly doesn't apply to CM Punk & Big E Langston, who cemented their out-of-nowhere solidarity with a tag-team win over Punk's Paul Heyman-coached enemies, Curtis Axel & Ryback. The out-of-nowhere friendship proved as effective on Raw as it did on SmackDown, although Punk briefly found himself isolated by Axel and Ryback.
Punk fought back slowly and incapacitated Ryback with a kick to the head, ultimtately leaving Langston himself to do the honors. The super-sized Superstar bulldozed all over his opposition, pulverizing the Intercontinental Champion with the Big Ending to bring his team the win and allowing Punk to chase Heyman through the crowd after the final bell.
Los Matadores may have fired the opening salvo against The Real Americans, but Zeb Colter's self-styled patriots sent a strong message to the mysterious migrants with a victory on Raw that was big in every sense of the word. Facing Tons of Funk once again, Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro came up strong in the clutch, powering through Tensai's opening offense and sealing the deal against Brodus Clay, felling The Funkasaurus with the 1-2 combo of the Cesaro Swing and Patriot Lock. The real warning to Los Matadores, though, came after the match when Zeb Colter revealed his newest “little friend”: A bullwhip. Dios mio.
The Shield may have lost their Tag Team Championships last week to Cody Rhodes & Goldust, yet The Hounds of Justice clearly aren’t alone in their race to reclaim the twin titles from their new bearers. The Usos, who have been the technical No. 1 contenders for weeks, yet they had to fight for that designation all over again against Rollins & Reigns on Raw.
Cody & Goldust saw the demonstration firsthand at the commentary table, and it's hard to imagine they weren't impressed with the display the teams put forth (Roman Reigns’ tremendous clothesline was a particular highlight). The Shield matched their opponents shot for shot, yet a victor went uncrowned when the match dissolved into an all-out brawl between the three teams at ringside. So who are the new No. 1 contenders, exactly? Vickie Guerrero had a solution for that as well.
With Hell in a Cell just six days away, all Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton had to do was put pen to paper and walk away as gentlemen. That did not happen. What happened instead was a bout of A+ trash talk between the two competitors while The Authority and Shawn Michaels circled the waters. Insults were thrown, names were called, and yes, names were signed, but things only really got out of hand when Triple H seized the mic and ran Bryan down yet again ... and HBK took exception.
While The Showstopper questioned Triple H's dismissal of Bryan's talent, Orton in turn challenged HBK's impartiality. The talk ground to a halt, though, when a semi truck plowed its way through the locker room and emerged next to the ramp, with Big Show revealed as the driver. While the giant preoccupied The Authority, Bryan revved up and blasted Orton with a Busaiku Knee. Whether it happens again on Sunday is yet to be determined, but as far as omens go for The Authority, this has to be a bad one, yes?
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Daniel Bryan defeated Dean Ambrose (16:22)
- Santino Marella (w/ Hornswoggle & The Great Khali) defeated Heath Slater (w/ Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal) (3:27)
- Randy Orton defeated Dolph Ziggler (7:47)
- The Bella Twins (Brie Bella & Nikki Bella) defeated AJ Lee & Tamina Snuka (5:06)
- The Wyatt Family (Erick Rowan & Luke Harper) (w/ Bray Wyatt) defeated Kofi Kingston & The Miz (4:52)
- Big E. Langston vs. Curtis Axel ended in a no contest (0:00)
- Big E. Langston & CM Punk defeated Curtis Axel & Ryback (w/ Paul Heyman) (6:22)
- The Real Americans (Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger) (w/ Zeb Colter) defeated Tons Of Funk (Brodus Clay & Tensai) (w/ Cameron & Naomi) (3:34)
- The Shield (Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) (w/ Dean Ambrose) vs. The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) ended in a no contest in a WWE Tag Team Title #1 Contendership match (14:15)
Other on-screen talent