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Titus O'Neil probably felt like less than millions of dollars after Raw rolled into Lafayette, La., when the mouthy big dog of The Prime Time Players met the same ignominious fate as his other half Darren Young did last Friday on SmackDown at the hands of Ryback. "The Big Deal" came out swinging in the Cajundome in the pursuit of retribution against the ravenous Superstar, but things went pear-shaped for Titus relatively quickly when Ryback tossed the big man outside the ropes, decking him with a clothesline while Titus called for a timeout.
The tag-team standout found enough strength to pound Ryback with Clash of the Titus sit-down powerbomb, but even O'Neil's powerful signature move wasn't enough to finish the job. Ryback kicked out after only a count of one, thwarting Titus' second attempt at the maneuver before executing the Meathook Clothesline and following up with Shell Shocked to seal the victory.
But having dispatched both Prime Time Players in a four-day span was apparently not enough. For the second time in two weeks, Ryback seized a microphone and made his intentions known. "Whether it's one CM Punk, three outsiders dressed in black or all four of them together, I'm gonna stand here all damn night until I get what I want. FEED. ME. MORE!"
What Ryback got instead was a hearty helping of Cajundome security, which swarmed the ring and stood toe-to-toe with the monster. One unlucky guard, though, found himself forcibly removed when he had the temerity to mean-mug the monster. Ryback's opposition withered significantly after that, but while he was spoiling for a fight, Vickie Guerrero wasn't about to have Raw degenerate into chaos.
The Managing Supervisor took to the stage and, just as last week, attempted to reason with Ryback. "I am a very understanding person," Vickie said, "and I know that you feel angry and embarrassed ... however as Managing Supervisor of Raw, I am telling you that you will not be allowed to put your hands on security."
But this time, Ryback would not be placated. The monster offered Vickie a deal: a WWE Title TLC Match at TLC: Tables Ladders & Chairs against CM Punk ... and severe consequences should Vickie deny him.
Back to the wall, Vickie had no choice but to acquiesce to Ryback's demands, provided he leave the ring. His appetite temporarily satisfied and the match made, Ryback finally departed (though not before scaring security off for good measure) with eyes toward his biggest feast yet.
Whoever says chivalry is dead clearly never met Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio took up the unlikely role of knight in shining armor for Rosa Mendes following her embarrassment at the hands of Hornswoggle and The Great Khali last week on Raw, and later again in the Cajundome locker room area. Looking, no doubt, to impress Primo & Epico's sultry manager, The Essence of Excellence set himself the formidable task of knocking off the former World Heavyweight Champion.
It ... didn't go so great for him for a while.
Del Rio found his chest and back festooned with The Punjabi Titan's handprints after Khali forced him into the corner and pounded The Mexican Aristocrat with his signature body chops. But the two-time WWE Champion withstood the full brunt of Khali's strikes and retaliated in kind, attempting to weaken Khali's tree-trunk-like arms with his time-tested game plan. But a distraction by Ricardo Rodriguez diverted The Punjabi Warrior's attention just long enough for Del Rio to trap Khali in the Cross Armbreaker, felling his titanic foe and, we can only assume, scoring major points with an elated Rosa.
These are the facts, WWE Universe, as dictated to Michael Cole in a sit-down interview: Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns are not working for CM Punk and Paul Heyman. They are not rogue Superstars looking to cause chaos. They are not The nWo reborn. What they are, apparently, is a shield. The Shield, in fact, a group of Superstars whose sole purpose is to protect justice in a WWE where principles have fallen by the wayside.
"We sat down in NXT and we saw things clearly. We saw things headed in the wrong direction," Rollins said in the trio's exclusive interview with Cole. "We stepped in and righted those wrongs."
"It's about right and wrong," sneered Ambrose, who balked when Cole implied their actions were for the sole benefit of CM Punk. Punk, Ambrose rationalized, was forced to defend his WWE Title against two foes he'd already beaten, so "The Shield" stepped in. When Ryback attempted to ruin Punk's 365-day celebration, they intervened as well.
"Three hundred and sixty-five days as champion in this era should mean something," Ambrose said. "We're not renegades, we're not mercenaries. We're not The Nexus ... we're about honor, we're about principles. Where honor no longer exists, we will step in."
Cole, for his part, continued with his attempts to pick through The Shield's nebulous responses, but the threesome remained unbroken throughout each of Cole's volleys. It was finally the intimidating Reigns, who had been silent the whole time, who brought the sit-down to its unceremonious halt. "We've said enough," Reigns rumbled. "This interview is over."
No one is safe, or so says Michael Cole of Tamina Snuka's newly initiated reign of terror throughout the Divas division. And the powerhouse daughter of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka certainly made a convincing case for herself as the Diva to beat following her brutal shellacking of Alicia Fox on Raw, a contest she declared was a warning of sorts to AJ Lee. Snuka attacked AJ at Survivor Series for "not knowing her place" and daring to oppose Vickie Guerrero. Tamina made short work of the tenured Miss Fox, manhandling her opponent for the duration of the bout and finally sealing Alicia's fate with a resounding Superfly Splash that drew gasps of shock from the Cajundome faithful and put Alicia down for the count. Consider the warning sent.
With a bum knee and no shortage of aches and pains after being put through a bathroom wall by Dolph Ziggler, John Cena stood before a WWE Universe hungry for answers following his shocking, scandalous lip-lock with AJ Lee last week on Raw. What did he have in store?
Well for starters, he planned to address the most prevalent question of them all: Is AJ a good kisser?
Unfortunately, the WWE Universe was denied that particular nugget of truth when Vickie Guerrero came a-callin' again, cutting Cena off mid-address and presenting him with a gift in time for the holiday season: matching his & hers robes for Cena and AJ. While Cena stewed in the ring, Vickie rattled off AJ's somewhat troubling romantic history throughout 2012, capping off her argument with the chestnut that the satisfaction of exposing a potential affair between the two would be nothing compared to her satisfaction in watching the two unravel like the rest of AJ's relationships had.
But before Vickie could really get going, AJ made her presence known and did something truly shocking: She agreed with the Managing Supervisor. There was no point denying her flings with Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Kane ended less than favorably, but AJ chose to use those incidents as learning experiences. And besides, Vickie's allegations were all about proving AJ and Cena hooked up while she was Raw General Manager. Since she was not GM anymore, AJ was free to pursue any relationship she wanted. But just when it looked like the WWE Universe was about to get The Kiss: Round Two, Vickie called a stop to the shenanigans and Dolph Ziggler strutted onto the stage to add his two cents.
Never one to mince words, The Showoff sneered from his perch atop the ramp. What really got Cena riled up enough to "cheap shot" him on SmackDown was because he knew, in his heart of hearts, that when AJ was locking lips with Cena, she had visions of Ziggler dancing through her head. The insult was enough to get Cena to bite, but Vickie wouldn't allow any more fighting in bathrooms or on stages. What she would allow, though, was a one-on-one contest: Cena vs. Ziggler, in the Cajundome, with the argument settled once and for all.
Can Kofi Kingston topple a big man? The Intercontinental Champion didn't fare so great against newly minted No. 1 contender Wade Barrett last week on Raw, but "The Wildcat" brought the fight to a bigger opponent in Lafayette when he took to the ring against Tensai. Kofi hoped to score a win against Tensai to demonstrate his proficiency against a larger opponent. And with the English brawler himself scouting at the announce booth, Kofi put on a textbook display of endurance when he withstood Tensai's punishing attacks en route to an impressive statement win over the gargantuan gaijin.
Tensai, for his part, certainly did not let Kofi waltz away with the "W," though. The expatriate had a counter ready for nearly every single one of Kofi's signature moves, robbing the champion of Trouble in Paradise after he deflected the kick with a well-placed block. Kofi ultimately turned Tensai's freight-train-like momentum against him when he bounced his opponent's head off the ropes, dazing Tensai long enough for Kofi to plant him with a top-rope crossbody for the win.
The most telling moment of the contest came afterward, however, when Barrett laid hands on Kofi's coveted title, unceremoniously returning it to the champion without so much as a handshake, show of respect or any sign he was the least bit impressed with Kingston's come-from-behind victory.
There's a first time for everything, and the WWE Universe was treated to a fantastic first-time contest when Daniel Bryan, who lost the RAWactive poll to determine CM Punk's opponent later in the evening, was placed into an impromptu contest against a Superstar he never faced one-on-one: Rey Mysterio. Unfortunately for Bryan, he had plenty to cry "NO!" about when the final bell tolled, as The Master of the 619 withstood the irascible Tag Team Champion's surgical offense to notch a victory over the volcanic former World Heavyweight Champion.
Bryan's temper seemed to get the better of him from the get-go, as he spent the lion's share of the opening minutes stewing over the fact Kane bested him in the RAWactive voting. But a series of thunderous kicks from Mysterio forced Bryan into his groove relatively quickly. The submission expert went to his extensive playbook of holds to ground The Master of the 619, punctuating the technical assault with some good old-fashioned brutality, raking Mysterio's nose and unceremoniously thumping him shoulder-first into the ring post. Putting the match away, however, proved to be much easier said than done for the irritable tag champ. Mysterio thwarted Bryan's attempt at a top-rope superplex and unleashed a storm of offense on his irritable opponent, breaking out of the "No!" Lock before finally tossing Bryan headfirst into the ring post and executing an unorthodox variation on the 619 to put Bryan's evening to its unceremonious end.
The time for sneak attacks and trash talk ended about halfway through Raw in the Cajundome when, following an increasingly heated back-and-forth, John Cena finally got himself a one-on-one match against Dolph Ziggler, courtesy of Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero.
Competing with a slight tear in his meniscus, Cena showed no signs of hesitance when he took it to Mr. Money in the Bank early on, sending Ziggler airborne with a series of hiptosses and headlocks, leaving The Showoff scrambling for separation only moments after the opening bell.
He found it after absorbing a painful-looking opening surge from Cena, planting the Cenation leader long enough for Ziggler to rally and potentially catch his second wind.
And boy, did he ever.
Ziggler surged back fast and furious against Cena, taking the fight outside the ring and hauling the 10-time WWE Champion into the steel steps before decking him with a clothesline and dropping elbows upon elbows on the prone sternum of the Cenation leader. Cena looked to turn the tide when he unleashed his signature shoulder blocks against Ziggler, but The Showoff stopped Cena in his tracks, thwarting the Five Knuckle Shuffle and executing a leaping DDT that left Cena splattered across the mat.
Dolph ultimately went for finesse over flash in his final attempt to put Cena away, leaping atop his opponent's back and locking in a sleeper hold that nearly put Cena to bed. The Cenation Commander-in-Chief countered with an STF, but Ziggler was able to reach the ropes and made Cena pay with a resounding dropkick to the face. Ziggler gave the WWE Universe its highlight-reel moment when he squirmed mid-fall out of the Attitude Adjustment and hit Cena with the Zig Zag. The Cenation leader managed a last-minute escape, though, before the referee could count him down.
But as straightforward and competitive as it was, the match's conclusion was nearly as bizarre as its origins. First, Cena seemed to aggravate his knee injury while attempting the Five Knuckle Shuffle. While officials attended to Cena, Ziggler attempted to tamper with the ring post and expose the bare steel of the turnbuckle, but AJ Lee quickly sprinted to the ring and cut Dolph's nefarious scheme short. This brought out Vickie Guerrero, who drew the ire of AJ and the attention of the referee to boot. With everyone distracted, Ziggler made his move and attempted to smash Cena with his Money in the Bank briefcase, but the injured Cena was ready for the cheap shot, dodging Ziggler's strike and finally executing the AA to silence The Showoff.
And then, of course, he kissed AJ again. Honestly, after a hard-fought win like that, who can blame him?
It's a fight Sheamus wants at WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, so who better to warm up for his match with World Heavyweight Champion Big Show than the powerhouse U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro? It turns out Sheamus probably couldn't have picked a stronger opponent to prepare him for round three against the giant: There wasn't much finesse to the The Celtic Warrior's slugfest against Cesaro in the Cajundome, but it was one hell of a fight.
With Sheamus still bearing the marks of his battles with Show, and Cesaro nursing two injured hands, the battered brawlers went toe-to-toe and shot-for-shot, answering each and every attack against them with a harder, faster one to stop their opponent's momentum. The bout resembled less of a wrestling match than a back-alley rumble, with each Superstar favoring brutal strikes over technical maneuvers to gain advantage. It was Cesaro who first gained the upper hand, tripping The Celtic Warrior up and causing him to face-plant onto the steel steps. The Swiss Superman's attempt to ground the former World Heavyweight Champion with grappling didn't prove particularly fruitful, so he went to a far move rudimentary game plan after his brief foray into technical wrestling: He simply tried to beat Sheamus up, following a gut-wrench suplex with his own twisted variation on Sheamus' forearm clubs, stringing the Irishman up in the ropes and unleashing a wave of uppercuts in an attempt to break Sheamus' resolve.
It didn't quite turn out that way. Sheamus rallied immediately, turning Cesaro around and raining forearms upon the champion's chest and following up with a vicious-looking Irish Curse. With victory within reach, Sheamus attempted to floor The Swiss Superman with the battering ram, but Cesaro countered with a ringing European uppercut that left The Celtic Warrior seeing stars and vulnerable for the Neutralizer. The Celtic Warrior surged forth one last time at the moment of truth, though, backdropping Cesaro and Brogue Kicking him through the ropes, ultimately recording the victory via count-out.
The Celtic Warrior's evening ended on a truly ominous note after the final bell tolled when Big Show made his presence known, steel chair in hand, and responded with Sheamus' furious promise to reclaim the World Championship with a physical statement that needed no words to back it up: He took the chair in his hands and systematically dismantled it piece by piece, leaving the steel in sections on the ramp after KO Punching it into smithereens while Sheamus looked on, concern clouding his battered face for the first time in a long time at the giant's ferocious display.
Nobody said enlightenment came easily, and Damien Sandow's quest to better the WWE Universe met a stiff roadblock in Lafayette when The Enlightened One went one-on-one with his longtime rival, Long Island Iced-Z, Zack Ryder.
Ryder, who drew "The Bastion of Bravery's" ire earlier this year, picked right up where he left off in his own efforts to knock the conceited Sandow down a peg or two. The Ultimate Broski was all over Sandow from the second the match began, swarming Sandow with hard-hitting offense and showing no mercy to the overwhelmed "Duke of Decency." Each time Sandow seemed to pick up momentum, Ryder was there to cut him down, and it looked for a while like the "Internet Champion" would net himself a win over Sandow.
The Enlightened One snatched victory from Ryder's clutches, however, in a very Sandow-esque way: He took advantage of another man's distraction. In this case, it was the referee's, who lost track of the combatants just long enough for Sandow to trip Ryder up on the ropes and send him plummeting onto the turnbuckle. While Ryder reeled from his unsportsmanlike maneuver, Sandow capitalized with Terminus and sent Ryder stumbling to the showers. Next up? John Cena on WWE Main Event.
The WWE Universe spoke, and so it was that CM Punk, on the 372nd night of his WWE Title reign, found himself in hell once again. Renewing their rivalry from earlier this year, The Second City Saint and The Devil's Favorite Demon collided in a RAWactive Match when Punk took on WWE Tag Team Champion Kane in a hard-hitting bout that shook the Cajundome to its core.
And while there was no romantic entanglement to motivate either man this time around, Punk and Kane both came out swinging, with The Second City Saint unleashing body shots on The Big Red Machine in an attempt to slow the Tag Team Champion down before he could get the ball rolling. Kane, for his part, adopted an unusually patient game plan, absorbing Punk's attacks and retaliating with quick bursts while the champion preened for the crowd. Kane hit The Voice of the Voiceless with a barrage of chops in the corner before bouncing Punk off the ropes and booting him from the ring.
Punk switched up his style quickly after that, targeting Kane's legs and lulling the demon into a false sense of security by playing possum, milking an injured knee to force Kane's guard down. The strategy paid dividends when Punk executed a dive that left Kane reeling, following the attack by stomping on the monster's legs and softening him up for a pair of running knees into the corner.
The third knee, however, didn't go so great for him. Kane surged forward as Punk went for the trifecta, decking the champion with a chop to the face and flattening Punk with a sidewalk slam. Kane then set him up for the flying clothesline that so often precedes the Chokeslam.
But Punk was ready for Kane's signature move, ducking under the demon's gloved hand and countering with a swinging neckbreaker. Kane got the last word in, however, when he caught Punk in the middle of his own flying clothesline and finally planted the champion with the Chokeslam. With Punk down, Kane decided to seal the match with a statement and called for the Tombstone, but it wasn't long before a trio of interlopers made themselves known. The Shield slowly materialized from the crowd, and their presence was enough to distract Kane for Punk to execute the Go to Sleep on The Big Red Monster. The Second City Saint quickly put the Tag Champion down and left him to the mercy of The Shield, who swarmed the ring and rained blows upon the prone Kane. Daniel Bryan suffered a similar fate when he ran to his partner's aid, and just when it seemed like Punk would get off scot-free, Ryback returned for a piece of the action.
For once, though, his attentions were focused elsewhere than Punk because Ryback made a beeline for The Shield, planting Rollins with a powerbomb and cutting Ambrose and Reigns down with a pair of Meathook Clotheslines before Punk struck from behind. Ryback's attempt to powerbomb the champ into oblivion proved fruitless when Reigns felled Ryback with a spear. With the beast vulnerable, The Shield ended their onslaught as they had the past two instances: a triple powerbomb that left Ryback limp on the mat, with Punk standing tall yet again over his TLC opponent. Whether he'll be doing so again in three weeks' time at Barclays Center remains to be seen.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Ryback defeated Titus O'Neil (w/ Darren Young) (3:15)
- Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) defeated The Great Khali (w/ Hornswoggle) (3:30)
- Tamina defeated Alicia Fox (2:05)
- Kofi Kingston defeated Tensai (3:30)
- Rey Mysterio defeated Daniel Bryan (12:20)
- John Cena defeated Dolph Ziggler (11:45)
- Sheamus defeated Antonio Cesaro by Count Out (12:50)
- Damien Sandow defeated Zack Ryder (4:55)
- CM Punk (w/ Paul Heyman) defeated Kane (10:20)
Other on-screen talent