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Yes, John Cena is hurt, and last week did him no favors. But as The Champ himself said in the opening moments of Monday Night Raw, anyone who thinks a gimpy Achilles heel will keep him from defending the WWE Title against Ryback at Extreme Rules hasn’t been paying attention for the last 10 years.
Unfortunately for Cena, Ryback seems to be operating on a higher level than the crazed Cro-Magnon Cena takes him for. Because, when Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero invited the “Human Wrecking Ball” out to powwow on a stipulation for the title match at Extreme Rules and Cena deferred, Ryback vowed to exploit both Cena’s literal and metaphoric Achilles heel, his refusal to ever back down. Looking less to defeat Cena than to humble him before his fans, Ryback placed The Champ in a stipulation he promised would make the wounded champion regret he didn’t back out of the bout when he had the chance: a Last Man Standing Match.
Being a learned man, it stands to reason that Damien Sandow is well-versed in the vicious nature of a viper. But why “The Duke of Decency” assumed he could get away unscathed after mocking Randy Orton’s theme song is a question even Sandow’s mighty cranium can’t sort out, because he did in fact perpetrate said parody and did, in fact, pay dearly as a result.
The inaugural Raw bout between the two hardscrabble Superstars did not disappoint, but you don’t need a scholar to deduce how this particular story came to its end. Sandow fought back from an onslaught by The Viper to reclaim the advantage, but Orton powered back and sealed the victory with a mighty RKO (he must not have liked the song). Alas, The Apex Predator didn’t make it out quite so clean, as he suffered another sneak attack courtesy of a KO Punch from Big Show atop the entrance ramp that left him seeing stars moments after his big win.
If anything, we’ve learned that Fandango doesn’t lose his cool too often, except when it comes to mispronunciations of his famous name. But the dancing king found himself more frazzled than usual when the self-proclaimed “judges” for his bout — Chris Jericho and Tons of Funk, Brodus Clay & Tensai — saddled him with less than favorable ratings for his performance against R-Truth, causing him to abdicate the contest altogether in a fit of frustration.
Despite his initial, woeful marks from the panel, Fandango came out strong against the former U.S. Champion — though he suffered a scissor kick early on. The dancer looked ready to rally, but when he saw the “Suntan Superman” awarded two 10s and a 42 (courtesy of Brodus), he ditched the bout in a huff, giving Truth the count-out win in the process but living to dance another day.
It turns out Alberto Del Rio is every bit as flashy as Dolph Ziggler, but as Raw showed, when it comes to old-school brutality, Jack Swagger has them both beat. The onetime aristocrat unleashed an arsenal every bit as thrilling as The Showoff’s in their one-on-one bout, even giving the champ a run for his money before Swagger and Zeb Colter arrived at commentary and threw The Pride of Mexico off his game.
Ziggler took advantage of the distraction to even the odds, but still found himself in the Cross Armbreaker after a grueling, 20-minute battle. Big E Langston intervened to save The Showoff from the hold, but the would-be rescue inadvertently cost him the match. Swagger retaliated with prejudice, storming the ring and attacking both Superstars with a ladder in an ominous potential preview of their three-way bout at Extreme Rules. In other words, it may be a three-way dance for the World Title, but the “Real American” has no intention of being the forgotten man.
It is a fact universally acknowledged that straight-up brawn has not been enough to stop The Shield’s reign of terror, but a freshly formed six-man squad decided to employ a different tactic altogether against the “Hounds of Justice”: freewheeling chaos. Indeed, the never-before-seen trio of Kofi Kingston & The Usos gave the men in black their most unique challenge yet, but ultimately met the same fate as countless teams before them when the “Hounds” rallied to seize the day.
After a strong start by the tag-team stalwart Usos, Kingston seemed to save the contest for his team when he had Ambrose on the ropes. But Rollins stuck to the group’s M.O. and cut the U.S. Champion down before he could complete a potentially match-ending top-rope strike, leaving him easy prey for the waiting Ambrose. The Cincinnati madman capitalized on his teammate by covering Kingston’s prone body to earn the three-count and keep The Shield unbeaten.
You want yodelers? Go check YouTube. Antonio Cesaro has been less Johnny Weissmuller and more Tyler Durden since his grueling U.S. Title rematch against Kofi Kingston on WWE Main Event last week, trading in his folksy arias for a punishing beatdown of the U.S. Champion that culminated in him snatching a dreadlock out of Kingston’s head following a (narrow) loss in his bid to reclaim the title.
The Swiss Superman fared better in the ring on Raw with a win over Zack Ryder, but it was Cesaro’s post-match display that truly put the WWE Universe (and locker room) on notice. Following a Neutralizer to the gutsy Long Island Iced-Z, Cesaro demanded the microphone and delivered his manifesto: "I put the 'W' in WWE ... there is no one who can do what I do in this ring." Whether that's true or not remains to be seen, but the last two weeks have certainly gone a long way to support Cesaro's claim.
Brock Lesnar is better versed than most in the ways of wanton destruction, but “The Beast Incarnate” may have one-upped himself earlier today when he paid an unannounced visit to WWE HQ alongside Paul Heyman for some vague, nefarious purposes that kept the desk-dwelling denizens of Titan Tower on their toes for the majority of the day.
Turns out, as Paul Heyman revealed via satellite, Lesnar had come to confront Triple H in his office. But with the COO absent and unable to fight, The Anomaly settled for some impromptu remodeling and laid waste to The Game’s workspace with a sledgehammer, threatening WWE employees in the process. Still, Lesnar’s volcanic case of the Mondays wasn’t the end of the matter, as Triple H himself arrived to respond to the invasion before Heyman could even finish his story. With Heyman untold miles away, another incident between The Game and the mad scientist was unlikely. But The King of Kings did issue an open invite for Heyman and Lesnar to meet him face to face in his “other” office: the ring.
Friends don’t let friends spear each other. Thankfully, Kaitlyn and AJ Lee are no longer friends, so the Divas Champion was free to knock heads and bust chicks when she felled Dolph Ziggler’s gal pal (and the No. 1 contender to her title) in a dynamic, Six-Diva Tag Match on Raw.
AJ had full control of the bout in the early going, (wo)manhandling Cameron with impunity until the Funkadactyl tagged in Kaitlyn. Sensing imminent defeat, AJ moved to summon the Bellas from her corner, but the shrewd sisters wanted no part of the “Hybrid Diva” and promptly amscrayed, leaving AJ to eat the aforementioned spear and suffer the ignominious three-count that followed.
One of the great moments in Sheamus’ young-yet-storied career came almost two when he put his hooligan tendencies to good use and volunteered to battle the rampaging Mark Henry (“I’LL FIGHT ‘IM!”). And now, it looks like he’s gonna fight ‘im again.
The World’s Strongest Man has been suffering the business end of Sheamus’ shenanigans for a few weeks now, and Henry took to the ring on Raw to issue a formal challenge to The Celtic Warrior for Extreme Rules. Needless to say, the former World Heavyweight Champion didn’t exactly need to cajole the Irishman into accepting. A little bit of jaw-jacking later and the match was made, but some pre-emptive physicality between the two would have to wait a few moments as Wade Barrett picked that exact minute to make his entrance. Talk about timing.
There are few things better in WWE than a good old-fashioned scrap, and Sheamus and Wade Barrett can rumble with the best of them. With Mark Henry looming on commentary, the English boxer and Irish brawler resumed their on-and-off rivalry with the type of gusto usually reserved for the back-alley brawls where Barrett made his bones. Of course, Sheamus couldn’t do what he does without humiliating Henry one last time, and he did so with an emphatic Brogue Kick to the strongman’s skull.
The decision would later come back to haunt Sheamus after Barrett suffered a similar fate for the 3-count when Henry decided to do what he does, bulldozing Sheamus into a red-headed pulp after the bout had ended. With The Celtic Warrior at his mercy, Henry rained pain upon Sheamus with a belt, punctuating his attack with a World’s Strongest Slam on the concrete.
Ryback certainly awoke a sleeping demon in Kane when he insulted Daniel Bryan earlier in the evening, but the “Human Wrecking Ball” still stood tall over The Big Red Monster, defeating The Devil’s Favorite Demon in a grandiose clash straight out of an old monster movie. The onetime teammates swung, slammed and smashed each other into pieces for the better part of 20 minutes, but it was Ryback who came out on top, planting The Big Red Machine with Shell Shocked for the 1-2-3.
Although the victory was his, Ryback looked like he’d have extra problems to contend with when The Shield made their presence known. But while Bryan was quick to join the fracas, Ryback vacated the ring and only re-emerged when John Cena appeared to even the odds. With the scales balanced, Bryan, Cena and Ryback were able to drive the NXT alumni away … but Ryback wasn’t above punctuating his point from earlier in the evening. Having exploited Cena’s heroic tendencies and lured him into the open, the big man clobbered The Champ with a chair and left him down, an ominous display that proved Ryback, with his unique combination of brains and brawn, may just rule yet.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Randy Orton defeated Damien Sandow (9:20)
- R-Truth defeated Fandango by Count Out (1:35)
- Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) defeated Dolph Ziggler (w/ AJ Lee & Big E. Langston) by DQ (14:55)
- The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) defeated Kofi Kingston & The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) (6:45)
- Antonio Cesaro defeated Zack Ryder (2:00)
- The Funkadactyls (Cameron & Naomi) & Kaitlyn defeated AJ Lee & The Bella Twins (Brie Bella & Nikki Bella) (2:40)
- Sheamus defeated Wade Barrett (4:35)
- Ryback defeated Kane (8:40)
Other on-screen talent