Live inside the arena, Cult of Personality played to bring out the former WWE champion C.M. Punk as Michael Cole introduced the show. Punk was dressed to wrestle and not flanked by Paul Heyman. Punk stomped down to the ring, ripped up a kid's birthday sign, whipped off his hoodie, and forced ring announcer Justin Roberts into the ring. Punk demanded Roberts welcome out the People's Champion C.M. Punk, which drew boos.
Punk then spoke that he might have thrown a temper-tantrum last week, but that's only because he lost something as precious as the WWE Title. Punk heeled on the audience for never doing anything special in their lives, then said he reviewed the tape from the Royal Rumble and still believes he was screwed. Now, someone is holding the physical title who doesn't deserve it and didn't pay the price for it.
Punk turned his attention to McMahon's "supposed video" showing collusion between Punk, Heyman, Shield, and Maddox. Punk said he has questions for everyone. He then left the ring and approached some planted fans on the front row. Punk said none of them saw his face in the video, yet they all point their fingers at him. Punk walked up to Cole and Jerry Lawler to ask them if they saw him in the video. Cole simply stated, "You were not in the video."
Punk re-entered the ring and said if Paul Heyman says he was not in that video on the Titantron, then he believes him. He said as ridiculous as that sounds, then the people have bought hook, line, and sinker for a video put on his TV show by Mr. McMahon. He claimed McMahon hired an actor to play Heyman's voice in the video. Not much reaction at all to this, so Punk called the audience fat, lazy, and stupid when describing them buying McMahon's story. Some "boring" chants in the crowd as Punk continued that McMahon had surgery earlier today and it's exactly what he deserved after Brock Lesnar gave him the F5. Punk went back to the cheap insults to the crowd before telling the crowd to come into his ring and face him because he's the real champion.
Punk continued that "all you losers in life" are worthless and wastes of space. It's like he was waiting for an interruption and stretching this out. Punk said McMahon got what he deserved and he will get the WWE Title belt back in two weeks at Elimination Chamber. Punk claimed to be the real champion standing here right now. Booker T's music interrupted, drawing praise from Cole. Booker came out on-stage, but Punk told him to get lost since this isn't even his show.
Booker stumbled over himself, collected himself, then said Vickie Guerrero gave him the floor to decide on Punk's fate tonight. So, he's going to leave it up to the fans. Punk asked Booker if he's drunk. Booker ignored Punk, then said Punk will face either his WM26 opponent (Rey Mysterio), WM27 opponent (Randy Orton), or his WM28 opponent (Chris Jericho). The crowd chanted, "Y2J" before Booker told the audience to vote on the WWE App. Punk heeled on the audience for not even having smartphones, which Booker ignored before signing off.
[ JC: A very poor opening segment. Punk wasn't a rambling madman in an entertaining way or in an effective way trying to sell Rock-Punk at the Chamber PPV in two weeks, as he lost the crowd and had to resort to cheap-heat put-downs that he's better than. Booker didn't help matters. ]
Announcers: Cole and Lawler reset the show as Punk sold annoyance in the ring. Cole then plugged an "Epic Announcement" on this week's 2013 Hall of Fame class tonight.
[Q2] In-ring: No commercial, as Ryback's music played to signal the opening match. Ryback eats more next.
Announcers: Cole sent the show to a WWE App video of Randy Orton campaigning for a shot against Punk tonight. Orton noted he beat Punk at WM27 right here in Atlanta. As far as Punk running his mouth goes, Orton said he has a perfectly-executed RKO ready for him.
In-ring: Ryback was standing by awaiting his opponent tonight. Introduced to the ring was U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro holding an American flag and looking like an Olympic athlete dressed in a red, white, and blue zip-up jacket. Cole said there are "unresolved issues" between Ryback and Cesaro to set the stage for the segment.
1 -- RYBACK vs. U.S. champion ANTONIO CESARO -- non-title match
More "Goldberg" chants than usual aimed at Ryback, which is likely due to Raw being in Goldberg's hometown of Atlanta. Cesaro tried to run away to the outside, then gained control back in the ring. But, Ryback decked him and slammed the back of Cesaro's head into the mat several times. Cesaro kicked him away, resulting in a stalemate going into break.
Apparently WWE's new term for a non-title match is "title-free," which Cole said for the second time. Odd word choice. Cesaro tried to run away, but Ryback chased him down and dragged him back to ringside. But, Cesaro reversed momentum and whipped Ryback into the ring steps. Cesaro tried to draw a count-out victory after returning to the ring, but Ryback returned to the ring just before ten.
At 8:00, Cesaro grabbed Ryback around the neck and drove one knee into his face from the second rope. Ryback then came back with a big back-body drop before delivering the Meathook Clothesline. Ryback called for the end, but Cesaro slipped out of the ring. Ryback chased him down, but Cesaro booted Ryback in the face upon re-entering the ring. Ryback shook that off, then delivered another big clothesline.
[Q3] Ryback said it's over, then scooped up Cesaro for Shell-Shock, marched around the ring, and delivered center-ring. Ryback pinned for the win. Afterward, the announcers covered for Cesaro by noting it was a hard-fought match and Cesaro gave Ryback everything he could handle tonight. Cole called Ryback "one of the most unique Superstars in WWE history," which came across like WWE was trying to market a mid-carder, not a top star.
WINNER: Ryback at 9:50.
Announcers: Cole and Lawler shifted gears to discussing John Cena's Royal Rumble victory proclamation last week on Raw. A replay showed Cena vowing to win the WWE Title at WrestleMania before The Shield attacked him, then took out Sheamus and Ryback.
Up Next: An "in-depth look" at The Shield.
Announcers: Cole and Lawler reset the show from Atlanta before noting Chilli from TLC is ringside tonight.
WWE App Interview: Rey Mysterio said he took down C.M. Punk at WM26, took his hair, and now he needs to shut him up.
Back to the announcers. Cole said The Shield arrived on the scene in WWE at Survivor Series and have made a major impact ever since. This led to a video package documenting Shield's first three months in the company taking out numerous stars on the roster.
GM's Office: John Cena was shown in Vickie Guerrero's office. Vickie said he heard a rumor that Cena wants to call out Shield by himself, which sounds like a death wish. Cena said he heard there's a show on TV right now called Monday Night Raw and there's a guy on the show called John Cena who thinks The Shield needs to be stopped...and tonight.
Back to the announcers, where Cole proceeded to kill Shield's heat by reading a line fed through his headset that Shield is trending on Twitter right now. The foundation of Shield's on-air TV role is they're anti-authority, not "endorsed" by WWE through their social-media marketing means.
HOF Video: Trish Stratus highlight package from last week. Back to Cole, who plugged Mick Foley, Bob Backlund, and Trish headlining this year's HOF class. Later tonight, they announce the headline inductee with the "greatest of all-time" coming home.
Later: Who will face C.M. Punk tonight?
[ JC: Did the lights go out on the Creative meeting for this first hour? Nothing...has...happened. Usually the middle of the third hour confirms Raw should not be three hours, but WWE hit that point early tonight. ]
[Q4] [Commercial Break]
Back live, Cole fed to another WWE App interview, this time from Chris Jericho saying why he should face C.M. Punk tonight. The presentation made Orton, Rey, and Jericho look smaller-than-life putting their promo in an "inset promo" style window on the screen surrounded by "App" graphics.
In-ring: Santino was introduced to the ring as Booker T randomly joined commentary. Jack Swagger was then introduced to the ring, making his Raw in-ring return. Swagger marched to the ring with eyes locked on Santino.
2 -- JACK SWAGGER vs. SANTINO
As Swagger dominated Santino early on, Cole quizzed Booker on the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match. Booker said Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio are definitely in. Booker said Rey has a "whole country behind him, which means buyrates and ratings." Swagger then made Santino tap out to the anklelock. Cole said Swagger has re-named his finisher the...Patriot Act. Afterward, Swagger jumped to ringside to yell in Booker's face that he better be impressed with him. Cole thanked Booker for showing up.
WINNER: Swagger via submission at 1:25. Well, at least they kept this short. A Twitter shout-out to "USA Guy" Derrick Bateman, who should challenge Swagger for the Patriot Act.
Up Next: Raw Active Poll result on who faces Punk.
Back from break, Cole apologized on behalf of WWE because their App voting apparently crashed because of a "record number of votes." Lawler said the Super Bowl had their power-outage last night and they had their App-failure tonight. Cole said they will allow people to vote on WWE.com and try to grab App votes during the next match.
In-ring: World Hvt. champion Alberto Del Rio made his way to the ring for the top-of-the-second-hour match. WWE replayed Del Rio's run-in with Big Show on Friday's Smackdown episode that left Ricardo Rodriguez KO'ed to end the show.
[Q5 -- second hour] Cody Rhodes was introduced at the top of the hour to set up Del Rio's match tonight. Before the bell sounded, the announcers noted Rhodes and Damien Sandow split up last Friday on Smackdown.
3 -- World Hvt. champion ALBERTO DEL RIO vs. CODY RHODES -- non-title match
Del Rio tried to finish off Rhodes early on, but Rhodes avoided. Rhodes then nailed the Disaster Kick, but Del Rio escaped a pin attempt. Del Rio followed up with a cross arm-breaker for a quick submission win.
WINNER: Del Rio via submission at 2:45. So, Cody splits off from Sandow to begin a new singles run and...he loses in three minutes in his first match. Why not select someone else to enhance Del Rio?
Post-match: Del Rio took the mic and tried to tell the crowd that he is a changed man and used to look down on people. The crowd responded with "What?" chants. He said he appreciates the audience's support, which drew light applause. Del Rio said they all made him open his eyes and now he's the World Hvt. champion, not just for himself, but for the people. Del Rio said he's fighting for the people who fight and struggle to put food on the table. He said he fights for people being bullied by monsters like Big Show, and Show will pay for picking on Ricardo.
Suddenly, Big Show interrupted on the video-screen. Show told Del Rio not to get upset, then noted he's sitting at a secure location inside his hotel room. Del Rio told Show he's a coward with no cajones. Show said he's in this hotel, not because he's a coward, but because he's afraid of what he could do to Del Rio. "I did you a favor," Show said. Show said this whole issue is about Del Rio stealing his World Title. So, for him to get angry and finish off Del Rio in a parking lot doesn't get him what he wants, which is a re-match for the World Title. Show requested a World Title match at the Elimination Chamber. He said Booker knows where's staying, so Del Rio can sign a title contract, have a flunky run it over to him, and he'll sign it. Show smiled to himself, then told Del Rio to not even try to find him in this hotel because he'll rip him apart.
Announcers: Cole and Lawler talked about the WWE App voting, then Lawler took the house mic. Lawler looked to the video board to show who won the voting to face Punk tonight. Drumroll...57 percent for Jericho, 30 for Orton, and 13 for Mysterio. Cole said it will be Punk vs. Jericho tonight in a re-match from last year's Mania.
Tonight: The Miz tries to get to the bottom of Brock Lesnar's attack on Mr. McMahon through Paul Heyman. Also tonight, John Cena will call out The Shield.
[Q6] Backstage: Daniel Bryan and Kane argued about who's fault it was that they lost to Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio last Friday on Smackdown. Bryan said Kane is supposed to be his partner; Kane said he thought Bryan was supposed to take care of himself. Bryan responded that he wants Kane to stay back here during his match tonight because he doesn't want Kane to ruin his Elimination Chamber chances.
In-ring: Rey Mysterio's music played back in the arena. As Rey came out to a tepid reaction, Cole recapped the Smackdown Elimination Chamber story of Booker scouting former World champions for possible entry in the match. Cole confirmed that Orton and Rey are set for the Chamber, while Daniel Bryan is looking to improve his chances of inclusion. Bryan was then introduced for singles action against Rey.
4 -- REY MYSTERIO vs. WWE tag champion DANIEL BRYAN
Early on, Bryan popped Cole on commentary with an impressive-looking Tombstone into a gutbuster. WWE replayed the move after showing Booker T and Teddy Long watching this match on a backstage monitor. Bryan delivered No! Kicks in the corner, but Rey knocked him to the outside leading to break.
Back from break, Bryan was in control of the match back in the ring. Bryan worked on Rey's left arm before delivering No! Kicks to the gut. Bryan then whipped Rey to the floor, but Rey landed on his feet, so Bryan kicked him through the ropes. Bryan tried to build momentum for a suicide dive, but Rey blocked with a forearm smash. Rey then built momentum back in the ring before covering Bryan for a nearfall.
Rey set up Bryan for a 619, but Bryan grabbed Rey's legs, then flowed into the No! Lock, which got the fans out of their seats. Rey escaped, though, so Bryan went for a powerbomb, but Rey countered with a head-scissors into the 619. This one connected. Rey then climbed to the top rope and tried to Drop the Dime, but Bryan avoided. Bryan then slapped on the No! Lock and Rey was forced to tap out.
WINNER: Bryan via submission at 8:35. Solid TV victory for Bryan that should get him in the Chamber match. And, it turned into a set-up for...
Post-match: Suddenly, Mark Henry's music played. Cole was stunned as Henry emerged on-stage, returning to WWE television for the first time in several months. Henry ran over Daniel Bryan ringside, then entered the ring with eyes on Rey Mysterio. Henry lifted up Rey and delivered a monstrous powerslam. Henry then dragged Rey to the corner to finish him off, but Sin Cara hit the ring. He tried to fly at Henry, but Henry intercepted him in mid-air and delivered a huge World's Strongest Slam. Henry then turned his attention back to Rey to finish his work.
Rey tried to fight back, but Henry shoved him off to the ropes, Rey rebounded in Henry, and Henry delivered another huge World's Strongest Slam. Henry said that's not enough. He dragged Rey to the corner for a giant splash, and he connected. "That's what I do!" Henry shouted. Henry removed his t-shirt, then stared into the crowd to continue making a statement. Cole said Henry chose this moment for some reason to make a statement. Henry's music played before he slipped out of the ring, now satisfied with his work. Cole said Henry is perhaps the scariest man in the WWE locker room. And, the Danger Factor in WWE's stories just jumped off the charts.
[Q7] Still to come: Punk vs. Jericho in the WWE App match.
No "Moments Ago" recap of Mark Henry's destruction. Instead, WWE cut backstage to Daniel Bryan approaching Kane, demanding to know where he was during Henry's destruction. Kane said Bryan told him to sit back here. Bryan responded by yelling that Kane never listens to him. Kane took exception to Bryan's tone and said words hurt. Bryan asked if he really means it, to which Kane laughed and said, "Hell No."
Announcers: Cole and Lawler solemnly said they hope to have updates on Rey and Cara later tonight after Henry destroyed them. Cole then transitioned to a recap of Brock Lesnar's return last week on Raw. This led to a video recap of Heyman and Punk denying association with Shield and Maddox for months before McMahon appeared to catch them in a "web of lies" last week on Raw. Of course, before McMahon could fire Heyman, Lesnar returned and dropped McMahon with the F5.
Back on-camera, Cole and Lawler talked solemnly about McMahon's storyline injury situation. Lawler said McMahon's hip was "shattered" and underwent surgery earlier today.
Live Via Satellite: Big Show was shown on the phone with Booker T. Show told Booker that he's not waiting all-night for the contract. There was a knock on the door. Show walked to the door to answer it, but first peeped in the hole. It was room-service instead of a contract. Show signed for his meal, then hotel staff member signalled for a tip. Kaitlyn captured it perfectly on Twitter: "Totally expected Big Show to 'tip' gum. Home Alone style." Instead, Show smiled and told the staff-member, "Next time, get a better job." Show kicked him out of the room, then wheeled the meal toward his hotel room couch.
In-ring: Sheamus was introduced for the next match of the show. Cole said the next match is going to be a collision between Sheamus and Kane. Cole said it's next.
[Q8] Still to come: Cena calls out The Shield. Lawler said he thinks Cena has lost all his marbles. Kane's pyro then shot off to bring out one-half of the tag champs to face Sheamus. Just before the bell, Cole teased breaking news on the Chamber PPV. Cole said Rey and Orton are locked in. Now, Bryan is locked, filling three of the six spots.
5 -- SHEAMUS vs. WWE tag champion KANE
Brawling and punches and blows and scrapping early on. Kane delivered a sidewalk slam for a two count as the crowd tried to figure out whether to cheer for both or Sheamus only. The fight then moved to the floor, where more blows were exchanged. Back in the ring, Kane ran over Sheamus with a clothesline before the two big men exchanged standing blows. Sheamus delivered the Irish Curse backbreaker, then drove Kane into the corner. Sheamus followed with a high knee-lift before knocking Kane to the outside.
Back in the ring, Sheamus teased the Brogue Kick, Kane teased the chokeslam, Sheamus teased White Noise, Kane teased a Tombstone, and then Kane finally won the exchange with a DDT. Kane called for the chokeslam, but Daniel Bryan stormed ringside. Bryan yelled at Kane from the ring apron, then Kane told him to get lost. Kane turned around and ate the Brogue Kick for the pin and the win. After the match, Bryan smiled to himself, selling that he was pleased with costing Kane the match.
WINNER: Sheamus at 3:48. Kane-Bryan tension is on the verge of boiling over on the Road to WrestleMania, but not a fan of Sheamus winning in this manner.
Tonight: Cena calls out The Shield. Cole said this borders on insanity. Also still to come: Miz TV with Paul Heyman as special guest. Lawler said it's actually next.
Video Replay: Brock Lesnar saved Paul Heyman from being fired last week by interrupting McMahon and delivering the F5.
The Miz was already in the ring back from break three minutes before the top of the hour. Miz said his guest tonight shocked the world by re-introducing Brock Lesnar. Suddenly, Heyman interrupted Miz. "Stop, stop, stop!" Heyman shouted over Miz before walking out to the ring. Miz dryly said he hasn't introduced him yet. Heyman told "Mr. Mizanin" that he will introduce himself right now because he wants to clear his name and he won't let someone like Miz soil his good name and reputation.
Heyman said he would like to offer his best wishes to the Chairman of WWE. He told Miz to change the look on his face because they all know McMahon had hip surgery earlier today. Miz interrupted Heyman, saying they don't buy for one second that Heyman cares what happened to McMahon. Heyman then claimed to not know that Brock Lesnar was in Las Vegas, he did not order Lesnar to attack McMahon, and he did not know what Lesnar was going to do. He then claimed he tried to back down Lesnar, not encourage him to take out McMahon.
[Q9 -- third hour] Miz responded that Heyman might be the most committed liar he has met his entire life. "How dare you!" Heyman said. He accused Miz of trying to make himself look good at his expense. Heyman said he has questions for Miz, too. He asked Miz if he agrees that C.M. Punk should be the WWE champion, not The Rock. And, in 13 days, Punk is going to mop the floor with Rock? Heyman got the crowd as much as engaged as they're going to be engaged tonight, then Miz asked Heyman why he keeps changing the subject. Heyman got in Miz's face and Miz told him to take a step back.
Suddenly, Vickie Guerrero interrupted. Vickie marched to the ring and said this bickering has to stop. Vickie tried to get the crowd engaged by doing the "Excuse Me!" shout in-between each sentence. Vickie said Heyman is telling the truth. She claimed that Heyman had nothing to do with Brock returning last week because it was her. Heyman took a step back to look at Vickie, who said that she had been secretly negotiating with Lesnar. Vickie said she recognized that Lesnar is an elite free-agent and that by seizing this opportunity to re-sign him was a chance for her to impress Mr. McMahon. She hoped it would lead to her being promoted to permanent Raw GM. Vickie said she finalized the deal last Monday in Vegas. She said she and Heyman had no knowledge of what Lesnar would do to McMahon.
Vickie started tearing up over what Lesnar did to McMahon, sobbing in Heyman's shoulder. Heyman said he believes her. Heyman asked the crowd to take a moment of silence for McMahon. Vickie then said she will one-up Heyman by praying. Heyman and Vickie bowed their heads, drawing boos from the crowd and "Really?" chants from Miz. Miz said Heyman has hated McMahon ever since he "crushed your little company" and Vickie has loathed McMahon for dangling the Raw GM carrot in front of her for years.
Heyman had enough of Miz, who responded that Heyman and Vickie are bottom-feeders who live off the misery of others. Vickie reminded Miz that she is his boss. Miz ignored her, then said McMahon is going to fire both of them when he recuperates. Miz said he can't wait to see that happen.
Suddenly, Brock Lesnar's music played. Miz stood up-right in the ring as Lesnar walked out on-stage and flexed for the crowd. Heyman encouraged Miz to get out of the ring as Lesnar marched to the ring. Lesnar locked eyes with Miz, who stood his ground in the ring. Lesnar just looked at him like, "Why are you still in the ring?" but Miz stood his ground. Miz then shoved Lesnar in the chest, which drew a huge clothesline from Lesnar. Lesnar tossed Miz to the outside, then started clearing furniture out of the ring.
Lesnar tried to get the second couch out of the ring, but Miz re-entered the ring. Lesnar shook off Miz's attempted attack, then dropped Miz with an F5 center-ring. Heyman re-entered the ring and told Lesnar no more while shouting, "He's sorry!" toward Miz. Lesnar looked into the hard-camera a la Matt Morgan sending a message to Hulk Hogan, then Lesnar circled the ring before leaving. Lesnar's music played as Cole called him a merciless assassin. As opposed the Cerebral Assassin. WWE replayed Lesnar's destruction, then Heyman walked Lesnar up the ramp to the back. Raw faded to commercial.
[ JC: It's about that time of the year when WWE starts trying to answer questions that viewers have, but this was presented in a way that it led to more mini-questions than solid answers that viewers will forget about or not care about by next week. WWE is over-complicating things with undefined powers of authority figures and too many inconsistencies. ]
[Q10] Moments Ago: Brock Lesnar destroyed The Miz. Cole tried to simplify things that Lesnar is back under contract with WWE and that is scary for the rest of the locker room.
In-ring: Randy Orton's music suddenly played to a big initial reaction. Orton marched to the ring with another opportunity to impress Booker T despite already being booked in the Smackdown Chamber match. IC champion Wade Barrett was introduced next, setting up yet another Orton vs. Barrett singles match. As Barrett came to the ring, WWE aired an inset promo from Bo Dallas quietly talking about his recent one-ups on Barrett. Since Bo's promo wasn't good enough, WWE replayed Dallas upsetting Barrett last week on Raw. Then, last Friday on Smackdown, Barrett beat down Bo Dallas backstage.
6 -- IC champion WADE BARRETT vs. RANDY ORTON -- non-title match
The match quickly moved to the floor, where Orton bounced Barrett's face off the ring apron. Orton then whipped Barrett into the barricade as Lawler picked on the condition of Barrett's nose. Lawler added that if Barrett loses, it will be hard for him to keep a straight face. Back in the ring, Barrett cut off Orton with a hard clothesline. On the floor, Barrett beat up Orton before rolling him back into the ring for a nearfall.
Barrett slowed things down with a reverse chinlock, then Orton battled back with right hands to the face. Orton delivered a clothesline, then delivered a powerslam. Orton wanted a second-rope DDT, and he connected. Orotn then tried to wake up the crowd for an RKO, but Barrett rolled out of the ring. Orton followed him to the outside, rolled him back into the ring, and ran into Winds of Change. Barrett covered Orton, but Orton kicked out.
At 4:30, Barrett slowly lifted Orton to his feet, then missed with a corner boot. This gave Orton an opening to drop him with the RKO. Orton quickly covered Barrett for the win as Lawler noted Orton just pinned the Intercontinental champion.
WINNER: Orton at 4:54. Fine win for Orton, but because there was no set-up or sense of this being important, it was like eating a fast-food snack. Tasted good for a few minutes, but not satisfying, and once it's gone, you're moving on to the next snack. It's what the majority of matches on Raw have become.
Up Next: Jericho vs. Punk. It appears that Cena calling out The Shield will be the main event segment.
Vignette: Johnny Curtis was re-introduced as Fandango in his dancing outfit. Curtis, with hair hanging over his right eye a la Justin Gabriel, looked into the camera and pronounced with an accent, "Fan-dang-oh." The screen flashed "Fandango" before Lawler and Cole commented on Curtis's new character back live.
In-ring: Chris Jericho's music played to bring out Jericho for the default main event. Cult of Personality then brought out Punk, who posed on-stage without the WWE Title belt and without Paul Heyman. Cole noted Punk is going to be upset with Justin Roberts for not introducing him as the "People's WWE champion." Punk hit the ring and posed to the crowd while Jericho watched intently.
7 -- CHRIS JERICHO vs. C.M. PUNK
Punk landed an early chop, then mocked Jericho, so Jericho responded with two chops of his own. The crowd picked up a dueling chant of "Y2J / C-M-Punk," which was arguably the loudest the crowd had been for non-entrances tonight. Punk then took control of the action and slowed down the pace to wear down Jericho. Punk mockingly asked the ref to "Ask him!" if he wants to give up, but Jericho fought back to his feet and delivered another chop.
Jericho then clotheslined Punk over the top rope and Punk bounced off the announce table. Jericho followed with a baseball slide kick that sent Punk into the table again. Jericho waited for Punk to re-enter the ring, but Punk suddenly yanked Jericho throat-first across the top rope. Punk, now in-control, caught his breath on the outside leading to break.
So, is Big Show done with his meal in the hotel room?
Back from break, Punk was in control of the action as Lawler recapped top events on the show thus far. Punk missed with a springboard clothesline, then Jericho climbed to the top rope and delivered a double axehandle smash to Punk's head. Jericho tried a Lionsault, but Punk got his knees up to block. Punk missed with a corner knee smash, though, allowing Jericho to snap off a top-rope huracanrana. Jericho was slow to cover, allowing Punk to escape a pin attempt.
At 10:00, Punk trapped Jericho in the ropes and transitioned to a GTS attempt, but Jericho slipped out and teased the Walls of Jericho. Punk countered into a small package, but Jericho flowed into a small package of his own for a two count. Rapid-fire pace that led to both men selling the effects and catching their breath. Punk then climbed to the top turnbuckle and wanted a Macho Man elbow, but he took too long taunting the crowd, allowing Jericho to avoid. Jericho followed with a Lionsault, but Punk kicked out of a pin.
Punk suddenly popped Jericho in the face with a kick, but Jericho escaped a pin attempt just in-time. Punk then angrily slapped on the Vice center-ring. Jericho fought the hold, then wiggled their bodies close to the ropes, where he grabbed the bottom rope for a break. Punk refused to break the hold, but eventually released just before being DQ'ed. Punk yelled at the fans for chanting, "This is awesome," then he trapped Jericho in the corner. Punk flowed into a GTS, but Jericho grabbed Punk's leg and dropped him to the mat with Walls of Jericho. The crowd popped as Punk appeared to be nowhere near the ropes, but Punk managed to lunge for the bottom rope for a break.
[Q12] At 14:30, Jericho stalked Punk for follow-up, but Punk blocked. Another Walls attempt, but Punk whipped Jericho into the middle turnbuckle. Punk then threw Jericho shoulder-first into the ringpost. Then, he dropped a stunned Jericho with the GTS center-ring. Punk pinned Jericho for a clean win. Afterward, Cole thanked the audience for voting on this match.
WINNER: Punk at 15:00 even. Excellent match. This was an ideal TV match with good set-up, two big stars battling, good athleticism, drama building to a conclusion, and a clean finish. Plus, it was a nice credibility-boost for Punk heading into his re-match against Rock at the PPV, especially after a poorly-executed opening promo setting up Punk-Rock. As for Jericho, he isn't being positioned as a Mania headliner this year, so he's not going to be hurt by the loss. (***)
Announcers: Cole and Lawler set up the biggest WWE Hall of Fame announcement ever: Bruno Sammartino. A video included file footage of Vince McMahon, Sr. talking, then soundbytes from Mike Tyson and George "The Animal" Steele. The video then focused on Sammartino earning the "World's Strongest Man" nickname. Rocky Johnson spoke next. The video transitioned to Sammartino vs. Larry Zbyszko at Shea Stadium. The video returned to 1963 when Sammartino won the WWWF Title from Buddy Rogers, setting up his historic title run of nearly eight years. Next was a look at Sammartino headlining nearly 200 MSG sell-outs. Mean Gene said Sammartino became more than just a name. J.J. Dillon talked next. The video showcased Sammartino as a hero to kids and families. John Cena, then William Regal talked up Sammartino. The voice-over man says no name resonates more in the world of sports or entertainment than Sammartino.
Back live, the crowd was shown applauding the announcement as Cole noted he is the greatest of all-time. Lawler said there has never, ever been a more deserving Superstar to be in the Hall of Fame. Cole said he's the man who built MSG and will be inducted there on April 6.
Tonight: John Cena calls out The Shield.
Backstage: Matt Striker tried to catch up with C.M. Punk to ask him where his head is at right now. Punk said everyone can speculate that he's mad, but he's not mad about Rock walking around with his title belt while shooting commercials and movies. Punk said he will prove that he's right in two weeks at the Elimination Chamber.
Announcers: Cole and Lawler talked about The Rock's WWE Title win making headlines, then Cole introduced a video package on Rock's title victory at the Royal Rumble eight days ago. Portions of Rock's promo from last Monday's Raw were also shown, followed by mainstream stories on Rock's win.
Raw is pushing it near the top of the hour with Cena-Shield and follow-up on Big Show at the hotel room still in-play.
Backstage: John Cena was shown looking mad standing at the interview set. Josh Mathews asked Cena why he's calling out Shield tonight. Cena responded by talking about "impossible things" that he plans to prove "possible," such as calling out Shield. Cena said the time for joking is over, and The Shield pushed him last week, so he pushes back tonight.
[Q13 -- over-run] Raw started the over-run with 30 seconds of the final break of the show. Back to the hotel room, where Big Show was on the phone still eating his meal. Very slow eater. Show heard a knock on the door, then went to answer it. It was a messenger with a manila envelope. Show looked over the document as the courier tried to interrupt him with an important message. But, Show kept talking over him. Show said he doesn't do pictures, tweets, or autographs. He tried to get him to leave, but the door opened to reveal Alberto Del Rio standing in the hallway.
Show beat down Del Rio in the hallway, telling him he shouldn't have showed up. Del Rio made a farting noise to sell the effects of Show's beat down, then Show smashed him into a hotel hallway prop. Show then beat Del Rio down the hallway toward the elevators. Show beat him with the leg of a table, then Del Rio needed a fire extinguisher to blind Show and knock him down. Del Rio beat him up, then the elevator door opened up. Del Rio told two people who got off the elevator not to worry, because his friend had some bad Mexican food. They pretended to run away from the scene before Del Rio entered the elevator and told Show good-bye.
Back live, Brad Maddox was in the ring. "Why?" Lawler asked. Maddox took the mic and said the footage showed last week that Paul Heyman used him to manipulate C.M. Punk's career. Maddox said Heyman preyed on him because he is an honest, hard-working, up-and-coming star. Maddox said he is an innocent victim. He screamed that he gave Mr. McMahon the footage that showed Heyman and Punk are lying about The Shield. Maddox changed tone before claiming to be the hero. He said he is the hero of this story, so it will be him, not John Cena calling out The Shield.
Maddox told Reigns, Ambrose, and Rollins that justice awaits them. The crowd was quiet during this. Suddenly, Shield's music played. Ambrose and Rollins appeared in the stands, with Ambrose speaking. He said Maddox is just a rat scurrying under boards looking for scraps. Rollins echoed Ambrose's comments before asking him if he even understands the concept of justice. He said justice was putting a weasel like Maddox in his place. They vowed to give Maddox the beating he deserves.
Roman Reigns then appeared on the other side of the ring and said they're going to enjoy delivering this beating. The trio circled the ring as Lawler noted Maddox brought this upon himself. Cole dejectedly said this is going to be a massacre. Shield beat down Maddox in the ring before Reigns delivered the big triple powerbomb.
Suddenly, John Cena's music played. No sign of Cena on-stage, though. Cena then appeared in the crowd and marched down to the ring a la Shield. Then, Ryback's music played. Ryback also emerged from the crowd. Sheamus was next to emerge in the crowd. Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus stood in the crowd, then Shield bailed from the ring, but they found Orton leading the locker room out from the entrance area. Shield retreated into the ring as the babyfaces circled the ring ready to fight Shield.
Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus hopped on the ring apron to stare down Shield, then a fight broke out mid-ring. Lawler said they've been waiting a long time for this. After some light one-on-one brawling, Reigns eventually left the ring, then Rollins. Ambrose joined them bailing from the ring before hopping the guardrail and retreating into the crowd. Cena and Co. held their ground in the ring, Shield recovered in the crowd, Lawler said he figures Shield will find a way to regroup, and Raw signed off 13 minutes past the top of the hour. It looks like these six men will be in a Chamber match at the PPV in two weeks.
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