The champ of champs is here … and he’s not out of the woods just yet. Randy Orton, having fought tooth and nail to make history as the inaugural WWE World Heavyweight Champion at WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, hadn’t been speaking five minutes before the man he beat went about spoiling his night. John Cena, who fell short of Orton thanks to a pair of handcuffs and a grisly spill through a table, not only brazenly crashed The Authority’s coronation ceremony but floated the idea of giving the newly elected Superstar of the Year Daniel Bryan the challenge Cena had promised him if he’d won the match at WWE TLC. Orton, of course, wasn’t all that thrilled at the prospect of facing his old rival again, but, as is often the case, competition was deemed best for business and (with the caveat that Orton's title wasn't on the line) the match was soon made. Heavy lies the crown, and such.
Sportsmanship won the day after Big Show & Rey Mysterio accepted their loss to The Rhodes Brothers at WWE TLC with a good-natured handshake. The next night, however, “The Brotherhood’s” bid at doubling up on their victory fell woefully short when the giant got involved in the match. Cody & Mysterio started things off, resuming their tussle that ended the epic bout at TLC, and The Ultimate Underdog quickly found himself at the young Rhodes’ mercy once again.
The Rhodes Brothers traded offense on Mysterio until Show entered and shut Cody down, slamming and striking the former Intercontinental Champion with impunity. The Rhodes clan battled back to reclaim the advantage thanks to the late-game heroics of a fresh Goldust. However, The World's Largest Athlete delivered in the clutch, demolishing Goldust with a KO Punch after The Bizarre One's top-rope cross body swung wide right. Mysterio clambered atop the giant’s shoulders to follow up with a frog splash, and thus ended the Tag Champs’ night. Show & Mysterio showed no hard feelings by helping The Bizarre One to his feet, but even an honorable loss still stings
Dolph Ziggler kicked back hard against Fandango in this rematch of the WWE TLC Kickoff Match, taking the dancing king out and evening the score in the burgeoning rivalry between two of WWE’s most physically gifted workhorses. The Showoff – looking to gain some steam back – came out swinging and Fandango made him pay immediately with a ruthless clothesline outside the ring. Fandango played a tune on the loopy Ziggler, though the former World Heavyweight Champion hung tough and that proved the difference-maker in the end: Dolph used his much-touted athleticism to defeat Fandango with a running, mid-air reversal of a knee to the gut, rolling his opponent up for three. Safe to say, he backed it up.
Big Show ended The Real Americans’ bid for the Tag Titles at WWE TLC, and the self-proclaimed patriots met a similar fate at the hands of Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston & Mark Henry on Raw. Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger’s attempts to control the match with their speed ended poorly when Langston unleashed some shocking agility of his own, and the arrival of Henry sent the Americans further into a tailspin.
Things got rough for Jack Swagger when the OU graduate – already in enemy territory, as the Texas crowd gleefully informed him – was isolated by the two titans, yet the Americans battled tough with a gritty rally down the stretch. Cesaro did pull off a mind-blowing gut wrench suplex on Langston – THAT’S WHAT HE DOES – during a particularly strong run that nearly won the day. But the big men would not be beaten at their own game, and the Americans were sent back to the trenches courtesy of Langston, who saved Henry from a Cesaro Swing and pounced with the Big Ending.
It was tons of fun for “RybAxel” when they knocked off WWE’s boogieing brutes one night after a failed play for the Tag Titles at WWE TLC … though Tensai was hardly in a dancing mood when all was said and done. The shaky ground between Tons of Funk seemed to have settled when Tensai beat Curtis Axel into the defensive, yet Brodus abandoned his buddy when Ryback came in and went to work, leaving his partner to suffer the indignity of a Shell Shocked to end the match.
The Funkasaurus didn’t take kindly to Sweet T’s sour performance and retaliated in furious fashion, splashing his partner repeatedly to the horror of called mommas everywhere. The heinous display of treachery continued until R-Truth & Xavier Woods – who had been at commentary – stormed to the big man’s defense, driving Brodus from the ring and apparently recruiting The Funkadactyls to their side for good measure
Good news for The Hounds of Justice: Their brief lapse in synchronicity that led to their loss at TLC has been rectified. The Shield looked as united as they ever had in their bout against CM Punk & his WWE App-chosen partners, The Usos, on Raw. Despite their reaffirmed resolve, though, The Shield looked shaky at the start. The Usos’ freewheeling attitude rubbed off on Punk, who fought loose and delightedly vamped with the Texas crowd; Seth Rollins in particular caught a bit of his team’s own medicine when he was isolated from his comrades.
The men in black stayed alive by sheer force of will, but not even a fresh Roman Reigns could save them from an uphill struggle. Thankfully for them, their team instincts kicked in at the opportune moment when Dean Ambrose tagged Reigns and occupied an oblivious Punk, who was quickly blindsided by a freight-train spear from Reigns that gave The Shield a much-needed rebound.
The Total Divas’ run of luck against AJ Lee met its end at WWE TLC when the Divas Champion beat Natalya to keep her crown, and the bad fortune continued into the next night when AJ and two of her fellow “True Divas” prevailed over the reality stars yet again. Natalya & The Bella Twins fought the good fight against the champion and her makeshift army, but Tamina strong-armed her team into the advantage when she pummeled Brie Bella into the corner. Brie’s sudden tag to her sister right as AJ entered the match swung things back in favor of the E! stars; Tamina quickly saved the match by superkicking Nikki as she hoisted AJ for the Torture Rack. AJ struck quickly, by laying into Nikki’s already-targeted face with a Shining Wizard, and the former Divas Champion could not recover from the one-two punch.
Being Champion of Champions doesn’t exactly spare you from the rage of a mad goat, as it turns out. Daniel Bryan, spoiling for a fight after losing to The Wyatts at WWE TLC, immediately took it to Randy Orton in their Authority-mandated match by mounting an intricate, technical game against the blunt-force offense of the Champion of Champions. Bryan employed a Byzantine submission hold that turned Orton’s legs to linguini in the opening minutes alone. Orton, in a foul mood already over having to wrestle a match he didn’t want, quite literally bit Bryan’s knee to create separation, following up with a clothesline that nearly separated Bryan’s beard from head and a ruthless stomp to Bryan’s elbow.
The “Yes!” man rallied with, of all things, a bite of his own to Orton’s forehead, but Orton countered Bryan’s suicide dive by throwing him shoulder-first onto the ground. The former WWE Champion roared back into the advantage by tenderizing The Face of WWE with dropkicks and a clothesline that seemed to relieve The Viper of a tooth or two. A backbreaker and hanging DDT briefly opened things up for The Apex Predator, yet Bryan’s resilience forced Orton to cut the match short with an uppercut to Bryan’s crotch that got him disqualified. The questionable maneuver didn’t sit well with John Cena, who sprinted to Bryan’s defense and ate an RKO in response. So, despite slithering his way out of his first main event, Randy Orton still ends Raw standing tall over his two most persistent enemies. Win or lose, that’s not a bad way to kick off history.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Show & Mysterio (Rey Mysterio & The Big Show) defeated the Rhodes Brothers (Cody Rhodes & Goldust) (12:38)
- Dolph Ziggler defeated Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) (3:27)
- Henry & Langston (Big E. Langston & Mark Henry) defeated The Real Americans (Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger) (w/ Zeb Colter) (15:33)
- RybAxel (Curtis Axel & Ryback) defeated Tons Of Funk (Brodus Clay & Tensai) (w/ The Funkadactyls (Cameron & Naomi)) (2:23)
- The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) defeated CM Punk & The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) (16:20)
- AJ Lee, Alicia Fox & Tamina Snuka defeated Natalya & The Bella Twins (Brie Bella & Nikki Bella) (5:22)
- Daniel Bryan defeated Randy Orton by Disqualification (24:57)
Other on-screen talent