Fifteen years later, Bret "Hit Man" Hart finally came home, returning to the site of his most infamous match as Raw descended upon Montreal's Bell Centre. And for a minute, the WWE Hall of Famer's presence was all the WWE Universe needed, as they showered the humbled "Hit Man" with cheers and praise (and more than a few "Thank you Bret" chants) while he thanked the people of Montreal for their unwavering support in the 15 years since Survivor Series 1997.
And while the people of Montreal cheered their hometown hero, WWE Champion CM Punk took the opportunity to make his presence known.
"With all due respect," Punk began with boos raining down before he slyly began to belittle the "Hit Man." Punk crassly implied that, had he been the one to face Hart at the '97 Survivor Series instead of Shawn Michaels, he would have altered the course of history, negated the Attitude Era and caused WCW to win the Monday Night War when he took Hart's place as the one to "jump the sinking ship."
Hart was unmoved, matching The Second City Saint quip for quip and berating his decision to leave the Allstate Arena in Chicago last week before his planned match with Sheamus. Punk retaliated with fire, getting right into the "Hit Man's" face as he reiterated his demands for due respect and vowing that he would cement his legacy as the best WWE Champion ever by "[putting] John Cena to sleep."
"Just like you're putting all these people to sleep right now," Hart retorted.
It took The Voice of the Voiceless a few seconds to find his words after that, but when he did, they were full of venom.
"At Night of Champions, I'm going to turn John Cena into a beaten, broken down shell of a man, just like you are," Punk said. Boom goes the “pipe bomb.”
It was truly a night of champions in the first match on Raw in Montreal as WWE Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston & R-Truth went head-to-head with Intercontinental Champion The Miz and United States Champion Antonio Cesaro, who brought his usual bilingual swagger to the proceedings as he recited "prestige" in five languages on his way to the ring.
However, it was Kofi & Truth who came out guns blazing in Montreal, sending both Miz and Cesaro over the ropes with their unique, daredevil-style offense and driving their mouthy opponents back before Miz and Cesaro were able to get rolling.
The challengers rallied, though, with Miz sending Truth off the apron and into the announce table before Cesaro tagged in and mauled the Tag Team Champion with a vicious sequence of technical attacks. (Aksana, it should be noted, posed on the apron for the entirety of Cesaro's attack on Truth.) Miz was next in, pounding Truth with an axe handle strike from the top rope before Truth rallied enough to deck Miz with a kick to the head.
With Miz dazed and Truth spent, Kofi and Cesaro were next to tag in, and Kingston wasted no time in attempting to put the contest away. The Boom Squad General felled Cesaro with the Boom Drop and, while Miz was able to cut him off before Trouble in Paradise, Kofi rallied and kicked out of a vicious roll-up from Cesaro. He then executed an acrobatic duck under the ex-rugby hooligan's outstretched arm before connecting with Trouble in Paradise to earn the incumbent champions their latest victory.
It's safe to say that the legal system has never seen quite anything like the deposition that Sheamus was ordered to give to Harvard-educated David Otunga at WWE HQ in Stamford, Conn., concerning his attack of Ricardo Rodriguez and the subsequent ban of the Brogue Kick by SmackDown General Manager Booker T. First, The Celtic Warrior nearly had Otunga convinced that his last name was "Lipschitz" (it nearly worked) and that his St. Paddy's Days were full of raucous partying ("Danny Boy" and "Hava Nagila" included), followed by a period of crushing guilt. Then, he managed to insult Daniel Bryan and Rodriguez within the span of about five minutes, all while belittling the legal system in general.
Otunga, to his credit, would not be dissuaded, attempting to parade the injuries of Rodriguez, referee Chad Patton and other Brogue Kick victims as a tool to lead Sheamus into an admission of guilt. Yet, The Great White would not be fooled.
Then, when Otunga's attacks got personal, implying that the Brogue Kick could only be used by a "vile human being," Sheamus simply got up and, following some threatening words toward Otunga, Brogue Kicked the camera.
Then, of course, he sang "Hava Nagila." Case dismissed.
The Divas took to the ring en masse for a hard-hitting Six-Diva Tag Match in Montreal, with Divas Champion Layla, No. 1 contender Kaitlyn & Eve teaming up against Beth Phoenix, Natalya & Alicia Fox.
For the first part of the match, Kaitlyn took the brunt of the offense, although a quick tag to Layla turned things in the favor of her team when she left Alicia Fox helpless following a kick to the head. Eve took advantage of the situation, executing a controversial tag that put her in the match before quickly felling Miss Fox with a neckbreaker to win the match. Never one to avoid courting controversy, Eve raised both Layla and Kaitlyn's hand in victory as the situation surrounding the Divas Title became more and more nebulous.
The WWE Universe spoke, and it was Randy Orton who slithered forth to challenge WWE Champion CM Punk in a RAWactive Match. As the Montreal crowd showered The Apex Predator with cheers, Punk wasted no time in taking it to his longtime foil, dropping Orton to the mat with consecutive shoulders before The Viper began to rally. Punk responded quickly, driving Orton into the corner and bringing him to his knees with a series of knees and kicks to the gut before dragging him out to the center and hitting a backbreaker, slowing The Apex Predator's momentum for a moment.
Punk relied on his ground game to keep Orton at bay, wrangling The Viper with a sequence of headlocks and technical strikes until Orton got his second win, mounting an offensive flurry that sent Punk rolling outside the ring. The champion contemplated his options for a moment before heading up the ramp, seemingly content to take a loss via count-out.
Orton was not, however, as The Apex Predator streaked up the ramp and hauled Punk unceremoniously back into the ring. Business quickly picked up, as Orton rolled Punk to the announce table and bashed his head against the commentary desk before the two returned to the ring and Punk gained the upper hand, trapping Orton in a contorting abdominal stretch and later pounding The Viper with an elbow from the top rope.
Looking to put the match away, Punk left Orton prone on the mat and ascended the turnbuckle to perform his elbow drop, but Orton had life in him yet, thwarting The Second City Saint's effort and sending him airborne with a superplex for a near-fall.
The Viper took control of the match next, slamming Punk with a series of bone-rattling clotheslines and setting him up for the hanging DDT. The champion rallied, though, springboarding off the ropes and flooring Orton with a flying clothesline. Signaling for the Go to Sleep, Punk prepared to put Orton to bed. But The Apex Predator recovered quickly, elbowing his way off Punk's shoulders and executing the hanging DDT on The Second City Saint before signaling for the RKO ...
Until, that is, a certain Showoff decided to get involved.
Dolph Ziggler sprinted from the backstage area, ganging up on Orton with Punk and seemingly leaving The Viper in ruins ...
Until, that is, a certain "King" decided to get involved.
Jerry "The King" Lawler was the next to enter the fray, rising up from the commentary table and joining in on the beatdown when Raw General Manager AJ Lee appeared, announcing that Orton and Lawler would team against Punk and Ziggler.
The impromptu tag team match pitting Randy Orton & Jerry Lawler against CM Punk & Dolph Ziggler was meant to restore order to a deteriorating situation after Punk and Orton's match descended into chaos.
But the madness only amplified, as Orton and Ziggler traded furious blows to open the contest, with Orton gaining the upper hand over The Showoff by bouncing him off the ropes for a suplex. Lawler quickly tagged in, opening his second match in three weeks by unleashing not one, but two flying fists on a prone Ziggler. The Showoff recovered enough to mount some offense of his own, laying a series of dropkicks on "The King" and tying him up in a sleeper hold before disrespectfully smearing his boot all over the WWE Hall of Famer's face.
Against all odds, though, Lawler reached deep down and found a second wind, recovering from a humiliating beatdown enough to plant Ziggler with a thunderous backdrop that opened the window for him to tag in Randy Orton. The Viper came at The Showoff hard, hauling him over the ropes for the hanging DDT, but Ziggler tossed Orton outside the ring to cut The Apex Predator's attack short.
Rather than tag in, however, Punk remained on the apron until Paul Heyman himself came sauntering down the ramp. Oblivious to the match unfolding behind him, Punk hopped down from the apron and conferred with Heyman for a few moments. Punk, none the wiser (and not concerned in the slightest) when Orton foiled Ziggler with an RKO to win the contest and send The Showoff packing ... did not make the most ignominious of exits, however: He simply retrieved his title and, still in conversation with the mad scientist, walked away.
Later, Matt Striker approached the twosome and demanded clairification on the nature of their relationship. Punk simply echoed his first "pipe bomb" and replied, with no small amount of venom in his voice: "I'm a Paul Heyman guy."
Following his loss to Zack Ryder last week, Heath Slater was a man incensed. The One-Man Band took to the ring and, with minimal fanfare, demanded he be granted an immediate rematch ("NOOOWWW, BABAAAYYY!!"). Instead, however, The Ultimate Broski appeared on the TitanTron, sneering at Slater that his opponent wasn't named Ry-der, but was something close enough.
The next thing the WWE Universe heard was the familiar strains of "FEED ME ... MORE," as Ryback thundered out to the ring and feeding time commenced.
Slater, though, did not go quietly into the food chain, mounting a string of offense against the monstrous Ryback, but his efforts were, like so many before him, to no avail. Ryback rebounded quickly from The One-Man Band's attack, pummeling him to the mat with Shell Shocked and adding yet another course to his ever-expanding meal.
Nothing like a little immersion therapy to get the results you want. Dr. Shelby appeared in Montreal, asked by AJ Lee to organize a final, radical attempt at a breakthrough for Kane and Daniel Bryan. It turned out, the two rivals were slated to team up together against The Prime Time Players, with the No. 1 contenders' spot for the WWE Tag Team Titles on the line (AJ Lee justified it to the Players by explaining that Kane & Bryan were the only team they hadn't beaten yet).
The tactic seemed doomed at first, with Kane and Bryan in each other's faces before the match even began. Then, Bryan found himself at the Players' mercy after Titus O'Neil and Darren Young ganged up on the submission technician, roughing him up with a series of powerful team moves and forcing him into a corner where he couldn't reach Kane for the tag. "The Real Deal" stayed on the offense against Bryan, forcing him into the turnbuckle before Bryan rallied with a series of kicks to the big man's midsection.
The rebound was short-lived, though, as Titus continued to hammer away at Bryan with kicks of his own, locking the "No!" man up in a torturous headlock before tagging in Young. Bryan had better luck here, building his strength back up enough to leave Young prone on the mat. Bryan refused to tag in The Devil's Favorite Demon, instead opting to continue the punishment on his own until Kane tagged himself in and planted Young with a Chokeslam, tossing O'Neil over the ropes for good measure.
Before The Big Red Machine could seal the match, though, Bryan tagged himself in, sneering at Kane's frustration and looking to steal the win for himself. Kane, in what can mildly be described as a lapse in his therapeutic recovery, grabbed Bryan, the legal man, by the throat and Chokeslammed him onto the prone Young. With Bryan having tagged in, the referee got down to the mat and counted to three. Progress? Debatable. New No. 1 contenders? Absolutely.
Six nights before his Night of Champions clash with World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio was determined to make an example out of Canada's own Tyson Kidd in the Hart Dungeon graduate's home country. From the onset, it was clear that The Mexican Aristocrat would given a clear size advantage in this international encounter, but that didn't stop Kidd from at one point locking Del Rio in the Sharpshooter — much to the delight of Kidd's incredibly vocal countrymen.
In the end, however, those same WWE Universe members were silenced when Del Rio overpowered the ring technician with a vicious application of the Cross Armbreaker. Not content with merely defeating his foe, The Mexican Aristocrat took the opportunity to boast that not only has Sheamus been stripped of the use of the Brogue Kick thanks to SmackDown General Manager Booker T's ongoing investigation, but come Sunday, he'll be stripped of the World Heavyweight Title as well.
After being forced to participate in David Otunga's deposition at WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Conn., World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus was all too excited to take out his frustrations on the Harvard-educated attorney, who used his legal expertise to convince SmackDown General Manager Booker T to ban The Great White's signature Brogue Kick.
After putting away the litigious Superstar with his newly honed submission hold, the Cloverleaf, Sheamus further punished Otunga with a Brogue Kick regardless of Booker T's ongoing internal investigation about the maneuver. The Great White's use of the prohibited boot to the face prompted a response from Raw General Manager AJ Lee who, in turn, was pre-empted by SmackDown General Manager Booker T. Since the World Heavyweight Title falls under Booker's jurisdiction, the blue brand authority decreed that if Sheamus uses his pump kick again, he will be stripped of the World Heavyweight Championship.
Consumed with an obsessive mission to unmask and humiliate Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes was aggressive in his attempt to ground the highflier on Raw, targeting Rey with the tenacity of a wild dog with a series of swift knees to the midsection.
However, Rhodes’ bizarre and twisted mission seemed to be a fruitless one in Montreal, when Mysterio had Rhodes draped across the middle rope and vulnerable to the 619. As Mysterio dialed up the dazzling maneuver, Intercontinental Champion The Miz charged the ring and jumped on the apron ... and was swiftly kicked off by The Ultimate Underdog.
Taking advantage of the confusion, Rhodes ensnared Mysterio in the Cross Rhodes and got the 1-2-3. Since his initial attempt at interfering in the match was thwarted, The Awesome One saw fit to target Mysterio after the bout and was met with a Cross Rhodes of his own.
They say that misery loves company, but as far as “Miz-ery” goes, it's every man for himself.
Bret Hart's interview with John Cena started out a good deal more positively than his conversation with CM Punk. The two former WWE Champions traded compliments while Hart mentioned that Cena's rivalry with Punk reminded him of his former animosity with another WWE Hall of Famer, Shawn Michaels. Hart told Cena that he saw a lot of himself in Cena, and a lot of the old HBK in Punk.
While Cena paid due homage to The Excellence of Execution, Hart then asked Cena to reveal what he was going to do to “shut this phony punk up.”
That brought Punk out, blood boiling, to stir the pot once again. Punk echoed Hart's sentiment that the “Hit Man” and Cena were alike ... in the sense that they were “unceremoniously surpassed” by someone better than them — in Hart's case, it was Michaels, and in Cena's case, it was Punk himself.
Punk continued to preach to the WWE Universe, extolling his nearly yearlong reign as champion, his humiliation of The Rock and his defeat of Cena in an attempt to throw his weight around before the Cenation leader.
Cena, however, retaliated in kind, throwing Punk's history as champion back in his face, claiming that Punk retained his mantle “by any means necessary,” which does not truly define a champion in Cena's eyes. He claimed that Punk, formerly an agent of change, was currently defining himself simply by possessing the WWE Title, which was a far cry from the revolutionary The Voice of the Voiceless claimed to be. Cena then played to the home crowd by talking some smack in French, though Punk was quick to chastise Cena for “lowering himself” to speak “the language of the locals.” This woke the dragon even further in Cena, who erupted in a tirade against The Second City Saint and dubbed him “ignorant” before playing the role of Rosetta Stone and translating hisfrancaisfrom a few moments earlier:
“You say you’re gonna win, but I’m gonna kick your ass,” Cena repeated in English.
After some fuming, Punk lashed out not against Cena but against Hart, who blocked The Second City Saint's attack and struck him in the head. Punk tumbled from the ring, backed up the ramp, and held onto his WWE Championship like his life depended on it.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Kofi Kingston & R-Truth defeated Antonio Cesaro & The Miz (w/ Aksana) (8:02)
- Eve Torres, Kaitlyn & Layla defeated Alicia Fox, Beth Phoenix & Natalya (2:23)
- Randy Orton defeated CM Punk by Disqualification (13:43)
- Jerry Lawler & Randy Orton defeated CM Punk & Dolph Ziggler (w/ Vickie Guerrero) (6:45)
- Ryback defeated Heath Slater (2:07)
- Daniel Bryan & Kane defeated The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O'Neil) in a WWE Tag Team Title #1 Contendership Match (8:24)
- Alberto Del Rio defeated Tyson Kidd (2:54)
- Sheamus defeated David Otunga (1:23)
- Cody Rhodes defeated Rey Mysterio (4:18)
Other on-screen talent