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For all his championship victories, Alberto Del Rio can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to the post-title win fiesta. One night after his morally iffy reclamation of the Word Heavyweight Championship, Del Rio took the stage in Grand Rapids to the unmitigated disapproval of the WWE Universe. The crowd hadn’t taken too kindly to Del Rio’s winning strategy – kick the recently concussed Dolph Ziggler in the head, repeat – but he didn’t seem to mind the opinion of a WWE Universe who he felt had disrespected him while he competed in their name.
But none took less kindly to the champion’s posturing than CM Punk. The ragamuffin hero of the 312 didn’t much appreciate Del Rio’s claims of superiority (commandment one of the Cult of Personality: Thou shalt not name thyself “The best”), and wasted no time – despite Paul Heyman’s unwelcome attempts to stop him – laying down a (non-title) challenge against Del Rio for later in the evening. And thanks to a quick ruling by Vickie Guerrero, the answer was a resounding Si! Si! Si!
One night after losing the Intercontinental Championship, Wade Barrett was set to get his rematch with Curtis Axel. But another impromptu ruling by Vickie Guerrero instead brought Barrett defeat from the Great White North, because Raw’s Managing Supervisor summoned Christian from the bench for a bout with the Barrett Barrage’s ruthless proprietor.
Captain Charisma did not disappoint in his first match back from injury, decking Barrett with elbows and flattening him outside the ring with a crossbody that nearly carried the former World Champion straight into the lights. Christian’s posturing briefly cost him the advantage, but the Peeps would not be disappointed: After Christian dodged a Barrett charge that took the Englishman into the steel post, the Canadian grappler capitalized with the Killswitch to make it lights out for Barrett.
It took a pair of them to get it done, but brains beat brawn one night after Sheamus’ defeat of Damien Sandow at WWE Payback Kickoff. Riding high (perhaps a bit too high) off his triumph over The Enlightened One, The Celtic Warrior battled both Sandow and Cody Rhodes in a Handicap Match (another Vickie Guerrero ruling) and suffered as a result.
The Scholars didn’t seem like they wanted to beat Sheamus so much as humiliate him, with Cody stomping the Irishman’s chest while Sandow held him down, and then administering a series of demoralizing slaps while “The Duke of Decency” kept The Celtic Warrior incapacitated. The disrespect spurred Sheamus to unleash White Noise a Sandow and a backbreaker to Cody. But Sandow rolled the Irishman up while he wound up the Brogue Kick for the three-count … a maneuver that ended up hurting Rhodes more than anything after Sheamus administered the move for (as it were) kicks despite his defeat.
Randy Orton didn’t mince words when he called Daniel Bryan the weak link on the WWE App, but he very nearly eat them when the submission master left The Viper summarily de-fanged in a match the WWE Universe named as a No Disqualification Match on the WWE App. Despite the uncertain future of Team Hell No, Bryan seemed anything but distracted in his solo bout, employing amateur-style takedowns as well as his signature submission holds in the early goings of the vicious contest.
When Orton reclaimed momentum, The WWE Universe showered him with roars of “NO!” with each of his own strikes to Bryan’s torso. Orton responded about as well as one would expect, raking Bryan’s eyes and going to town on his foe with a Singapore cane. Bryan rallied, but a mistimed suicide dive sent him crashing into the barricade and gave Orton the advantage. The submission expert refused to relent, but the ringside doctors ultimately called the bout due to possible nerve damage in Bryan's arm, giving Orton the victory. The Viper seemed to acknowledge Bryan’s heart in victory, though, embracing his foe following the bell.
The good sportsmanship did nothing to stem Bryan's frustration, however, as he was later spotted reportedly screaming in the face of WWE COO Triple H for ordering the stoppage of his match.
Championship celebrations were in heavy supply the night after WWE Payback, but the new titleholders had no shortage of interlopers who weren’t about to let them off the hook so easily. In AJ Lee’s case, her underhanded Divas Championship victory drew the ire of Stephanie McMahon, who took umbrage at AJ’s insistence that she was a role model for women everywhere.
AJ’s admonishing of The Billion Dollar Princess didn’t sit too well either (“I’m just like you … only younger” earned her a healthy threat of future-endeavoring). But it was Kaitlyn who really made her presence known, interrupting Stephanie (questionable in itself) and swarming the new champion in the ring with the rest of the Divas in tow; it took Big E Langston to keep AJ from a healthy Chickbusting at the hands of her former best friend.
Dean Ambrose retained his U.S. Title via Count-out at WWE Payback, and a similar technicality kept Old Glory in his taped-up hands Monday night … although the consequences may be more severe than the Cincinnati madman and his men-at-arms anticipated.
Ambrose had been scrapping with Kane in their rematch for the title on Raw, and although Kane had claimed the advantage the pair had barely even gotten out of the gate when Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns swarmed the ring, laying The Big Red Monster out with the Triple Powerbomb. The statement was delivered, but given Triple H’s earlier edict, a strong reaction from Vickie Guerrero may yet be in order … at least, that’s what Mr. McMahon seems to be expecting.
Looks like Zeb Colter has himself a new disciple after all: Sporting pristine white tights and a newly U.S.-friendly attitude, the European Superman put his new attitude to the test with a vicious defeat of William Regal on Raw. The Blackpool-bred veteran clobbered Cesaro with old-school abandon, but Colter’s latest catch would not be denied. Wrapping Regal up in a sleeper hold, Cesaro swung his opponent around and let loose with the Neutralizer to earn the three-count, draping Regal in a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag (much to the chagrin of an apoplectic Michael Cole) and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with Colter at his side.
Another championship celebration, another interruption. Only this time, Mark Henry’s intrusion of John Cena’s WWE Championship victory speech was something of a solemn affair at first. Sporting a cool pink suit and carrying his boots in his hand, The World’s Strongest Man seemed ready to prove the rumors right and end his career in WWE. With tears brimming in his eyes, the former World Champion voiced his love for The Champ, the WWE Universe, and his family (Mae Young, alas, went without props), formally retiring with a final address: “I’m coming home!”
Well, eventually, anyway. Henry then hit Cena with the World’s Strongest Slam, finishing what he started the night after WrestleMania and staking a claim for the WWE Title. Standing over the vanquished Champ, Henry snatched his boots and made his exit while the anti-Cena portion of the WWE Universe showered him with a somewhat appropriate chant: “You still got it!”
Let there be rock on Monday Night Raw, as hard-rockin’ Chris Jericho squared off against would-be guitar god Heath Slater in Grand Rapids in a battle of the axe-men. With 3MB at his side and a big win under his belt, Slater’s confidence seemed at a high when he battled Y2J, unleashing a kick to the head that left the former Undisputed Champion seeing stars. Jericho kicked out of Slater’s cover, however, and despite the interference of Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal, Y2J let loose with the Codebreaker and put Slater down for the three, dishing out a similar punishment to the band when they attempted post-match retribution.
It’s only fitting that an Intercontinental Champion should make his mark against an international sensation, and Curtis Axel kicked his reign off on a strong foot when he defeated Sin Cara in his first match with the coveted title. Bathed in the orange glow of Sin Cara’s signature lighting and with The Miz watching on commentary, Axel used his old-school grit to tough out the acrobatics of The Mexican Superstar, thwarting Sin Cara’s senton with knees to the back of the head and executing a picture-perfect DDT to claim the victory. It was a solid win if there ever was one, but given Miz’s presence, Axel’s most awesome challenge may yet be on the horizon.
It was shades of Survivor Series 2011 when CM Punk faced off against World Champion Alberto Del Rio on Raw, and while the ending of their bout was technically the same – Punk claimed the win – the circumstances and aftermath could not have been more different.
The two Superstars came out swinging against each other, though Del Rio’s frustration boiled over as the WWE Universe cheered for Punk, leading him to unleash a similar barrage of kicks he had against Dolph Ziggler the previous night. Del Rio targeted Punk’s left arm rather than his head, but the strategy paid dividends until Punk rallied with a last-ditch Go to Sleep that sent Del Rio rolling outside the ring. This, as they say, is where it got interesting.
Ricardo hauled his hermano to his feet at the count of ten (suffering a loss in the process) and carried him to the locker room, but the pair was besieged by a furious Dolph Ziggler, defying doctor’s orders by showing up of his own accord and laying a rabid beatdown on the unsuspecting champion. Punk was left to celebrate his win, but imagine his surprise when Brock Lesnar’s music hit instead of his own. And imagine his surprise when The Anomaly appeared in the flesh, stalking Punk outside the ring before he clipped The Second City Saint's wings with a ruthless F-5. What's that old adage again? Here comes the pain.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Christian defeated Wade Barrett (3:15)
- Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow) defeated Sheamus in a Two On One Handicap Tornado Match (3:25)
- Randy Orton defeated Daniel Bryan via referee stop in a No Disqualification Match (14:40)
- Kane defeated Dean Ambrose (c) by DQ in a WWE United States Championship Match (1:30)
- Antonio Cesaro (w/ Zeb Colter) defeated William Regal (2:45)
- Chris Jericho defeated Heath Slater (w/ Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal) (1:40)
- Curtis Axel (w/ Paul Heyman) defeated Sin Cara (2:45)
- CM Punk defeated Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) by Count Out (11:30)
- Dark Match: John Cena defeated Ryback in a tables match to retain the WWE Championship
Other on-screen talent