Raw began only 24 hours after the conclusion to Night of Champions, but the controversial coda to the pay-per-view left a fallout so severe it felt like it had been brewing for years. From the second the opening pyro boomed, the WWE Universe was riled up, hungry for answers as to what the implications of the WWE Championship Match — a double pinfall draw that saw CM Punk retain his title against John Cena — would be. Salvation seemingly arrived moments into the show as the opening chords of "Cult of Personality" ripped through the Webster Bank Arena, and who should arrive but ... Paul Heyman.
Far from a glimpse into the future, though, the mad scientist was only on hand to bring vindication to his friend's dubious retention. Heyman wasted no time in summoning WWE referee Chad Patton, who officiated the title contest, to the ring to bring vindication to the double pinfall that left the title in Punk's hands. Heyman produced not only a still photo from the title match, but somehow procured fan-shot footage from a camera phone in the front row of the fateful German suplex that led to the double pinfall. His work seemingly done, Heyman began to extol the virtues of The Second City Saint and took up the champion's cause of demanding respect.
John Cena, however, was having none of it. The Cenation leader, showing no ill effects of the ankle injury he suffered at Night of Champions, stormed down to the ring and shockingly agreed with Patton's decision, but not the "finality" of it. Unable and unwilling to accept that Punk and Cena's roiling rivalry could possibly conclude in a double pinfall (and unwilling to give Punk respect based on same), Cena offered up a solution: a title rematch later that same night.
Heyman, evoking his status as "The Voice of the Voice of the Voiceless," began to respond until the overture of Alberto Del Rio's music cut him and Cena off mid-sentence. The Essence of Excellence, still flanked by the injured Ricardo Rodriguez, wasted no time in condemning SmackDown General Manager Booker T's reinstatement of the Brogue Kick, and the fact that it (according to Del Rio) cost him the World Heavyweight Championship at Night of Champions. As "the man who never lies," Del Rio demanded that he receive a title rematch.
That brought out Raw GM AJ Lee to settle the debate: Eyes wide with the fire of inspiration, AJ declared she'd come up with a "super main event": A tag match pitting WWE Champion CM Punk & Del Rio against World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus & Cena. "And who knows?" she concluded. "Whoever wins will go a long way toward determining if there will be a rematch and who will be in it."
Sure, they had a tense moment or two at Night of Champions, but there was no animosity between Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara when they teamed up against Primo & Epico in an electrifying tag team match that showcased the best of all four performers. Mysterio & Sin Cara, continuing what WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross (helping fill in for Jerry "The King" Lawler on commentary) referred to as a teacher-student relationship, showcased their dazzling lucha libre prowess against the former WWE Tag Team Champions, eventually sealing Primo & Epico's fate with a 619 into both men, followed by a senton bomb from Sin Cara to notch the three-count.
This, however, brought out an unwanted pair of interlopers: The Prime Time Players, who, still steaming from losing their No. 1 contenders' spot to the Tag Titles to Kane & Daniel Bryan, attacked Mysterio & Sin Cara from behind, planting the dynamic victors with a pair of punishing moves before grabbing the microphones and declaring that the No. 1 contenders' spot was "taken" from them. From then on, Titus O'Neil declared, nobody would take anything from them, because they would "take what [they] want"
The conclusion of the CM Punk–John Cena WWE Title Match wasn't the only controversy at Night of Champions: Eve, who won the Divas Title under slightly suspect circumstances after Kaitlyn (who was set to challenge Layla for the butterfly-emblazoned title) was mysteriously incapacitated backstage, opening the door for Eve to take her place and claim the championship as her own. Still, Eve wasted no time in proving her prowess as Divas Champion, besting The Glamazon, Beth Phoenix, in a one-on-one contest between two stalwarts of the Divas division while Layla sat at commentary.
Beth seemed like she would get the best of Eve early on, punishing the champion with her signature power moves, but Eve surprised the former Divas Champion with a rollup after she was slammed into the turnbuckle, sealing the match and, in a reversal of her recent sportsmanship, mugging with the title in front of Layla for good measure
Brodus Clay took to the ring to do battle with The One-Man Band, Heath Slater, just one night after they took part in a Battle Royal to determine the No. 1 contender to the U.S. Title at the live-streamed Pre-Show for Night of Champions. However, unlike their previous encounters, Slater was able to fend off the funky one for a few minutes, mounting some impressive offense against The Funkasaurus while Cesaro, who had some strong words for Clay following the big man's attack of him last week on SmackDown, sat at commentary.
However, befitting his hooligan background, Cesaro didn't seem content sitting at ringside, as he nearly stormed the ring in an attempt to put hands on the massive "disgrace" (yes, he said it in five languages) who he felt disrespected him the previous Friday. It wasn't enough to distract big Brodus from the task at hand, though, because one headbutt and splash later and The One-Man Band's set came to a crashing halt.
Admit it, you knew in your heart of hearts it was only a matter of time. The Miz's mouth could never be contained by a simple microphone. Mere speeches would never satiate the mouthy Intercontinental Champion and he would never be satisfied with anything less than "The Most Must-See Talk Show in WWE History." And so it was that "Miz TV" was born, amid a flurry of self-aggrandizing pontification from The Awesome One, who wasted no time in extolling his own controversy, charisma and AAAAAWESOOOMMEEEE-ness when stacked against previous WWE talk show hosts like "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Chris Jericho and Edge. And unwilling to settle for anything less than a public shaming of some kind, The Miz also wasted no time in bringing SmackDown General Manager Booker T to the cushy-looking “Miz TV” set for the inaugural interview.
The Master of the Spinaroonie obliged, despite Miz's clear-cut desire to slam the SmackDown GM for setting him up in a Fatal 4-Way Match at Night of Champions, but Miz refused to let Booker get a word in edgewise. "Why are you against me?" The Awesome One sneered. "Why did you put me up against three different competitors last night?" Miz also took Booker to task for banning and reinstating the Brogue Kick before attempting to answer for him. "You miss the spotlight, don't you? You so miss being the center of attention that it drives you insane."
"Your time is over," Miz continued while Booker stared daggers at The Awesome One before taking the mic from his hands.
"That was interesting," Booker said. "You like to talk a lot, but I think it's time you got a new guest for your show, Miz. A Superstar who's used to defeating multiple competitors at one time." And if Miz didn't pick up what Booker was putting down right away, the booming "FEED ME" through the loudspeakers certainly got the point across: The guest of the guest was Ryback.
The human wrecking machine thundered down to the set and, while Miz and Booker both made themselves scarce, Ryback commenced to dismantling the “Miz TV” set bit by bit. He tossed furniture left and right before sending Miz scurrying with a couch as his projectile weapon of choice (yes, a couch). It would appear the food chain has itself a new link.
Both Santino Marella and Dolph Ziggler didn't have the most fortuitous Night of Champions. Santino came up short in the Pre-Show Battle Royal and, despite taking Randy Orton to the absolute limit, The Showoff fell victim to The Apex Predator in a show-stopping contest. Both Superstars came to Raw looking to reverse their fortunes, but it was ultimately Ziggler who came out with the win, countering The Italian Stallion's unorthodox offense to notch an impressive victory in the win column.
Ziggler admittedly didn't know what to make of Santino for the first half of the contest, but he ultimately got a leg up on The Milan Miracle when he separated the former U.S. Champion from The Cobra. Ziggler attempted to demoralize Santino by screaming that he was a "joke" before discarding The Cobra near the ropes. Santino was quick to rally, though, felling Ziggler with a hiptoss, but he found himself unable to finish the job after Vickie Guerrero snatched the fallen Cobra from the apron, leaving Santino's back exposed for Ziggler to strike with the Zig Zag. Not satisfied with a simple pin, The Showoff administered his signature maneuver a second time, with Vickie shoving The Cobra into Santino's maw for good measure after the referee counted to three.
The brutal reinvention of Wade Barrett continued on Raw when the brawling Brit took to the ring against Justin Gabriel, where he proceeded to make a furious example of the "Cape Town Werewolf" before the Bridgeport, Conn., crowd.
Despite Barrett's history with Gabriel as members of The Nexus, there was no old-time easiness to the way Barrett manhandled his former comrade, dropping Gabriel with brutal strikes to the body.Barrett paused only occasionally to resort to a technical ground game. Gabriel countered handsomely with his signature high-flying dynamism, but the brawler from across the pond would not be denied: A skull-rattling elbow to Gabriel's cranium put any hopes of an upset (not to mention a Nexus reunion) to rest.
What's a WWE Tag Team Title Match to get in the way of Little Jimmy's birthday? R-Truth & Kofi Kingston were only minutes away from their Tag Team Championship rematch against Kane & Daniel Bryan, but it didn't stop Truth from throwing his buddy a shindig with Jared from Subway catering the proceedings. No sooner did Kofi & Truth take their leave, though, than a series of WWE Superstars made their way to Jared, offering their ideas for new Subway sandwiches.
First came Damien Sandow, whose eponymous sandwich promised to satiate any and all appetites. Jared, however, satisfied “The Intellectual Savior of the Masses” with a meatball parm offering of his own. Zack Ryder was up next, and his "Woo Woo Woo You Know It" sub was the next idea to pass by Jared. The Ultimate Broski got an Italian BMT instead. Seemingly satisfied, Jared took the scene until he became uncomfortably aware of an unseen visitor. He slowly turned around to reveal Ryback, who demanded the sandwich spokesman "FEED. [HIM.] MORE." Jared cautiously handed the rampaging Superstar a sub, but Ryback grabbed a second one before taking his leave. At least the couches remained blessedly un-thrown.
They're (still) the Tag Team Champions! Following their unlikely victory over Kofi Kingston & R-Truth at Night of Champions, the perpetually dysfunctional Kane & Daniel Bryan took to the ring to defend their titles in a rematch on Monday Night Raw and, despite some continued bickering (including arguing over just which of them, exactly, is the Tag Team Champions), the anger management buddies stood tall when the final bell tolled.
It didn't look like it would be so easy, though: Following an extended argument over who would start the match, Bryan found himself being worked over by Kofi & Truth, whose own chemistry wasn't in doubt for a moment of the contest. Bryan eventually relented, tagging in Kane and allowing The Devil's Favorite Demon to try his hand against the former champions. The decision proved wise, as Kane managed to withstand a barrage of Kingston's kicks but ultimately found himself tossed over the ropes. Bryan's attempt to equalize the contest backfired when Kofi tossed him over the ropes and onto his masked partner, sowing seeds of dissent between the fragile twosome.
Still, the two eventually settled into a rhythm, systematically dismantling R-Truth during the commercial break in action that streamed exclusively on the WWE App. Truth tilted the match toward his team's favor after a tag to a fresh Kofi, whose high-octane offense seemed to stymie The Big Red Monster. But the Boom Squad General took too long to set up Trouble in Paradise, allowing Kane to recover and deck the Ghanaian Superstar with an uppercut. Bryan cut Kane off before he could set up for the Chokeslam, though, wanting to hog the victory for himself. Truth nearly denied the "No!" man the pleasure, mounting a flurry that left Bryan reeling and tagging in Kofi again in an attempt to finish the job.
Bryan eventually managed a tag to Kane, however. The Devil's Favorite Demon seemed to have the match finished when he set Truth up for a Chokeslam, and then a series of strange things happened. Bryan attempted to steal the pin again, but before he could get the tag to Kane, The Big Red Monster grabbed his irritable partner by the throat. Bryan countered, bouncing Kane's head off the ropes, causing him to stumble directly into a Lie Detector from Truth. Bryan managed to break up the pin, opening the door for Kane to finally hit the Chokeslam. Bryan then finally got his tag in, twisting Truth into the "No!" Lock and retaining the championships.
The two didn't let five minutes pass before the bickering resumed, with each grabbing hold of the titles and screaming that he was the Tag Team Champions. And then, heeding the cries of the WWE Universe, they hugged it out. Of course, Bryan snatched one of the titles off Kane's shoulder, and the back and forth began anew. The saga continues.
Randy Orton had one of the harder-won victories of his life against Dolph Ziggler at Night of Champions, but there was no rest for the weary as The Viper clashed with the towering Tensai just 24 hours later. And make no mistake: Tensai did not make it easy for The Viper. The big man made a point to target Orton's lower back, mauling The Viper with vicious power maneuvers and attempting to keep The Apex Predator grounded with a series of punishing elbows and strikes. The contest was every bit as brutal as their match on SmackDown, and ultimately, the result was the same.
Orton's comeback came following a crushing nerve hold from Tensai that brought The Viper to his knees. The Apex Predator then withstood a series of kidney shots before taking Tensai down with a powerslam and hauling him over the ropes for a hanging DDT. Hobbled by Tensai's strikes, The Viper still found it in him to fell Tensai with an RKO, securing his second win in as many nights.
It was a classic matchup of summer fun vs. academic tenacity and, in a result sure to disappoint schoolchildren everywhere, Damien Sandow (representing the highfalutin intellectualism of back-to-school season) managed to overcome Zack Ryder (representing the bros of summer) in an impromptu matchup made by Raw GM AJ Lee.
Sandow was the one who inadvertently got the matchup made in the first place when he attempted to expand the WWE Universe's vocabulary at the end of the "season of sloth," or summer vacation. As The Intellectual Savior of the Masses ran through his lesson plan, The Ultimate Broski made his presence known and declared that he had a few vocab words of his own: "Shut" and "Up." He also had a surprise for Sandow: AJ had made a matchup between the two of them for right then. The Long Island Iced-Z wasted no time in taking it to Sandow, unleashing a series of offensive strikes to leave the "soverign of civility" stunned outside the ropes.
Sandow rallied after Ryder tossed him back into the ring though, stomping The Ultimate Broski's ribcage and dropping an un-padded knee on Ryder's neck before pummeling him with the Elbow of Disdain. Ryder was the next to rally though, trapping Sandow in a small package before decking the enlightened one with a series of clotheslienes. Sandow narrowly avoided the Broski Boot, but Ryder rolled him back into the ring and connected with the move quickly thereafter. Even then, though, it wasn't enough to defeat Sandow, who recovered from the broski's strike and felled Ryder for the 1-2-3. Cue the "Hallelujahs."
"Super main event" was, as it turns out, an understatement. Raw General Manager AJ Lee's big idea for Raw's main event — a tag match pitting Sheamus & John Cena against CM Punk & Alberto Del Rio — was a battle for the age. With four of WWE's most dynamic competitors clashing between the ropes, rematch implications were on the line for the victors. And, when all was said and done, it was Cena who got the monkey off his back, finally getting a hard-earned pin over The Second City Saint to seal the contest for his team.
Surprisingly, The Voice of the Voiceless seemed to want no part of Cena following his narrow retention of the WWE Title at Night of Champions. Punk went out of his way to avoid a one-on-one matchup with the Cenation leader and either sent Del Rio in to do the dirty work or waited until Cena was outnumbered to get his licks in. The strategy didn't last long, though. After ending up on the wrong exchange of a Cena offense, Sheamus tagged in and promptly pounded The Second City Saint into the corner before Punk managed to tag in Del Rio. The longtime rivals from opposite ends of the social spectrum clashed yet again, with victory seemingly in hand as Sheamus called for the Brogue Kick.
Punk's instincts kicked in and a cheap shot on The Celtic Warrior saved the match for his team, leaving him an opportunity to tag in again. The WWE Champion got the better of Sheamus this time, trapping The Great White in a torturous-looking submission hold and slowing him down enough for Del Rio to re-enter the match. A strong surge from Del Rio met a brick wall, though, after The Celtic Warrior felled The Essence of Excellence with the Irish Curse.
Two tags later and Cena and Punk re-entered the fray, with Cena unleashing his signature sequence of moves, countering Punk's counter into an STF before Del Rio broke up the hold ... only to suffer a Brogue Kick that sent him into next week. Punk was next to strike, but his sneak attack on Sheamus left Cena just enough of an opportunity to send Punk flying with an AA and notch that long-elusive pin over the WWE Champion
The victory, hard-earned as it was, did not come without controversy. As Cena finally secured that three-count, Punk placed his foot on the bottom rope, negating the pin. But the official didn't see Punk's foot on the ropes, and counted the pin anyway. And so, 24 hours after controversy favored CM Punk, the scales tilted back in Cena's favor. As Raw drew to a close, the final images were of Punk screaming at the official all the way up the ramp, with respect, peace of mind and a decisive victory over John Cena still eluding him.
- 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 (w/ Rosa Mendes) (6:45)
- Eve Torres defeated Beth Phoenix (1:40)
- Brodus Clay (w/ Cameron & Naomi) defeated Heath Slater (2:00)
- Dolph Ziggler (w/ Vickie Guerrero) defeated Santino Marella (4:05)
- Wade Barrett defeated Justin Gabriel (4:05)
- Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan & Kane) (c) defeated Kofi Kingston & R-Truth to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship
- Randy Orton defeated Tensai (w/ Sakamoto) (6:10)
- Damien Sandow defeated Zack Ryder (5:30)
- John Cena & Sheamus defeated Alberto Del Rio & CM Punk (w/ Paul Heyman & Ricardo Rodriguez) (10:25)
- Dark Match: CM Punk (c) defeated John Cena in a Steel Cage match to retain the WWE Championship
Other on-screen talent