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True to his word, John Cena was in the house for Monday Night Raw in Sacramento, Calif., making his first Monday night appearance in two weeks sans sling (but sporting some intricate-looking recovery strips on his injured arm) to address the WWE Universe. And, seemingly re-invigorated by his return to Raw, the Cenation leader gave a rousing speech that was ebullient even for him, including an alternate name for Team Hell No and (to the delight of the California crowd) a proposition to Raw General Manager AJ Lee: a date at In-N-Out Burger. But when it came to the matter of CM Punk, Cena was all business and the trademark smile faded away as he repeated his solemn vow to the WWE Universe: One arm, two arms, injured or not, the Cenation leader would make his way to Hell in a Cell to challenge for the WWE Title. As a final appeal to The Second City Saint, Cena bellowed, "don't be a punk: agree to face me and define your legacy at Hell in a Cell!"
All that would have been enough for the WWE Universe, but the assembled crowd got an extra treat when Ryback made his presence known, thundering down to the ring for his match, though not before sharing a moment of mutual respect with the Cenation leader.
Ryback has always said that two is greater than one, and "Big Hungry" doubled down on perhaps his biggest meal yet when he devoured the former WWE Tag Team Champions Primo & Epico in a Handicap Match that came hot off the heels of John Cena's roof-raising address to the WWE Universe.
Primo & Epico, who teamed up to face Ryback after he decimated both men on SmackDown, attempted to slow down the insatiable "human wrecking machine" with a series of double-teams and sleeper holds that seemed to be doing their job well for the first part of the match. Ryback was left dazed and confused by Primo & Epico's rapid-fire, tandem offense, but all it took was one burst of strength from the massive Superstar to turn the tide of the contest and spell doom for the former champions. In an echo of the victories that made him a household name in WWE, Ryback lifted both Primo and Epico onto his titanic shoulders and left the duo Shell Shocked as the referee counted three. Two more challengers fall, but the hunger remains.
Following his loss to Antonio Cesaro last week, Brodus Clay was all set to get funk back on a roll on Raw with a match against R-Truth, but no sooner had The Funkasaurus finished his entrance than Truth was dragged into the ring by Little Jimmy, who appeared to be moving with great purpose toward Brodus and his Funkadactyl entourage.
The problem, as it turned out, was something more deep-seeded than any kind of rivalry Little Jimmy had spontaneously developed with The Funky One: Truth's buddy was "going through changes" and thus, would be unable to sit still at ringside while Clay and the former WWE Tag Team Champion had their match. "Tonight," Truth said, "Little Jimmy wants to dance." And dance the five did, until Mr. McMahon's signature voice boomed from the TitanTron. Brodus and Co. would have to boogie their way to the locker room because The Chairman would begin his State of WWE Address then and there.
So what is the state of WWE? Following Mr. McMahon's address, state of flux would be appropriate to say the least. What started as a good-natured speech to the WWE Universe about what makes WWE great devolved into animosity and, finally, physicality after WWE Champion CM Punk decided to go a few verbal rounds with his former favorite "pipe bomb" target.
It was The Chairman's implication that WWE was about the best battling the best that brought Punk forth, sporting a new T-shirt and the same furious attitude that led to the "pipe bomb" itself. The champion, furious that Mr. McMahon dared speak of "the best" in the company without mentioning his name, took The Chairman to task for his supposedly underappreciative attitude, for attempting to vilify him while he carried the standard of WWE around his waist. "I'm the best you have!" Punk roared in Mr. McMahon's face, but The Chairman would not be moved. He attempted to take Punk down a notch, comparing him unfavorably to legends like Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
Instead of humbling Punk, however, the opposite occurred. Incensed by Mr. McMahon's comments, Punk vilified The Rattlesnake and finally got to his point: that it was a "slap in the face" when Mr. McMahon failed to mention Punk as one of his best Superstars. "You've been slapping me in the face for years," The Second City Saint seethed, before rearing back and open-palm slapping The Chairman across his face. With The Boss prone on the mat, Punk knelt down and delivered the kicker: "And now that's a slap in your face."
While The Second City Saint preened his way back up the ramp, The Chairman got to his feet and got to business: He should fire Punk, but wouldn't ... provided the WWE Champion met him one-on-one in the ring later that night. And by the time the night is over, The Boss vowed, CM Punk would learn something about respect.
At the top of the ramp, Paul Heyman attempted to dissuade his "guy" from taking The Boss's bait, but The Voice of the Voiceless would have none of it. "We have him right where we want him," said Punk.
The Prime Time Players came to Raw with "millions of dollars" on their minds, but it was Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara who took it to the bank when they defeated Darren Young & Titus O'Neil to bring themselves one step closer to the No. 1 contenders' spot for the Tag Team Titles.
Sin Cara and Young opened things up, and The International Sensation was quick off the starting line with a dizzying array of maneuvers that left "Mr. No Days Off" reeling by the time Mysterio tagged in to continue the opening barrage. O'Neil attempted to involve himself outside the ring against Mysterio, but a wild dive by Sin Cara felled O'Neil before he could menace Mysterio any longer.
O'Neil found retribution, though, when he and Sin Cara found themselves in the ring together, as "The Big Deal" tenderized the masked man to prime him for a second burst of offense by Young. Sin Cara rallied fast, planting Young with a tornado DDT and opening the door for Mysterio to tag in and turn the tide of the match. Utilizing his trademark speed, The Ultimate Underdog left Young prone after a flurry of offense, finally capitalizing off an assist from Sin Cara to put Young on the mat with a 619 and send the dynamic tag team one round closer to challenging for the Tag Team Championships.
The reignited Barrett Barrage went up against its biggest obstacle yet when Wade Barrett collided with the World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus on Monday Night Raw. Unfortunately, a decisive win between the two would have to wait thanks to a pair of interlopers in the form of Big Show and Tensai.
Sheamus and Barrett had just begun to rumble when the giant made his way to ringside, prowling the outskirts of the ring while he scouted his competition for the coveted World Heavyweight Title. But with Show seemingly content to sit at the commentary table and observe, Sheamus quickly went back to work against the bare-knuckle stalwart, engaging in a good old-fashioned brawl with Barrett that veered largely toward punishing strikes over the technical mastery of Sheamus' previous opponent, Alberto Del Rio.
Barrett was game in his donnybrook against The Celtic Warrior, but Sheamus was consistently one step ahead of his barrage, cutting Wade off before the English brawler could mount an offensive sequence to slow The Great White down. A burst of ingenuity seemed to have Sheamus stymied after Barrett took the champion out at the knees, sending The Celtic Warrior crashing down to the apron and giving Barrett an opening to make a final push for the win.
Despite the seemingly debilitating attack, however, Sheamus would not be denied. Champion and opponent engaged in several bone-shattering back-and-forths throughout the match, with Barrett finally finding his groove and slowing Sheamus' rolling offense down with knees and kicks to the face and midsection that left the champion stunned on the mat, though not long enough for Barrett to notch the three-count. A thunderous boot to The Celtic Warrior's face seemed to spell doom for the World Heavyweight Champion, but Barrett's attempt at flair cost him when Sheamus dodged his elbow drop and sent Barrett reeling with his signature axe handle sequence.
After Sheamus pummeled Barrett with his forearm clubs, though, the rails came off when Tensai rumbled into the ring, ending the match with elbows to Sheamus' face. Barrett joined in on the beatdown, but true to form, The Great White countered with a boot to Tensai's face that sent Barrett scurrying. Big Show picked that moment to make his strike, but an attempted Brogue Kick was cut short when Show caught Sheamus by the ankle, hauling the stupefied champion over the ropes and sending him tumbling unceremoniously to the announce area. Consider the gauntlet thrown down.
Following his feat of strength on Raw last week, U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro notched yet another impressive win when he felled the versatile Tyson Kidd in a high-octane match that showcased the best the two Superstars had to offer.
Competing against Kidd carries a different kind of challenge than facing a big man like Clay, but Cesaro was clearly prepared for Kidd's unique blend of mat wrestling and high-flying acrobatics The Swiss Superstar used his strength to ground and pound the dynamo from Calgary, Alberta, en route to securing his second victory in a row. Kidd proved a formidable challenge nonetheless, leaving Cesaro reeling after a dizzying offensive series that took the two Superstars to the apron and beyond, finally sending Cesaro reeling into the turnbuckle.
That was when the champion found his second wind, though, hoisting Kidd into the air for his signature uppercut before sealing the hard-won match with the Neutralizer.
Team Hell No continues to be a holy terror for their opponents as, despite their trademark bickering, Kane & Daniel Bryan racked up yet another win, this time against the duo of Alberto Del Rio & Dolph Ziggler on Monday Night Raw.
The infighting among the champions started before the match even began, when Bryan interrupted Kane's entrance to proclaim himself the Tag Team Champions. But even with the occasional spat, Kane & Bryan's odd-couple efficiency as a team was on display against Del Rio & Ziggler, who were unable to find their groove for much of the contest. It was Bryan who started things off, grounding Ziggler and then Del Rio with his trademark technical proficiency before Kane tagged himself in to pummel The Showoff with a sequence of power moves that saw Dolph thrown airborne multiple times in the span of a few moments.
Ziggler & Del Rio rallied, though, eventually forcing Kane to tag Bryan back in and allowing the "No!" man a window to attack The Showoff. Bryan's flashiness nearly cost the champions, though, when Ziggler rolled up a risky top rope maneuver for a near-fall and reached Del Rio for a tag against the former World Heavyweight Champion. Del Rio and Ziggler traded strikes on Bryan for the next few minutes, keeping the submission technician at bay while blocking any opportunity to tag in Team Hell No's monstrous other half.
The plan seemed well on its way to working, too, as Del Rio & Ziggler left Bryan dazed and confused after a long-form beatdown that seemed to spell the end for Team Hell No's chances in the match. But after withstanding a beating at the hands of Del Rio & Ziggler, Bryan eventually found his opportunity, hauling Del Rio into the turnbuckle and finally summoning The Devil's Favorite Demon into the match. Del Rio & Ziggler again seemed to have the match in hand, though, when they foiled a double-Chokeslam from Kane.
But the oddly contentious teamwork by Kane and Bryan came in handy when all was said and done. Each time one the twosome tagged themselves into the match, it left Del Rio & Ziggler unable to rally and counter. A missile dropkick from Bryan, followed by a Chokeslam from The Big Red Monster, finally spelled the end for Team Hell No's latest challengers.
Raw met award-winning journalism when Peabody winner Larry King brought his new show, "Larry King Now," to Raw in Sacramento, Calif. Suffice it to say, his special guest, The Miz, wasn't about to let the journalistic legend steal his spotlight.
Things went downhill rather quickly when the Intercontinental Champion cut King off before he could even get the first words out of his mouth, insisting that King, his wife Shawn, and the assembled WWE Universe honor The Awesome One by singing "Happy Birthday" to him en masse. King wasn't about to let Miz get the last laugh, though, and abruptly brought out Kofi Kingston as a replacement guest for Miz, who he said wasn't exactly up to snuff. This, needless to say, left The Awesome One fuming, as Miz began to verbally unload on King, Shawn and Kofi, threatening to "divorce [King's] big head from [his] little body."
Well, Mrs. King did not take kindly to that quip at all, tossing a mug full of water in The Awesome One's face. Kofi quickly got in on the fray, throwing Miz off the stage and executing a flying chop before dragging the Intercontinental Champion back to the locker room.
So it will be Team Rhodes Scholars vs. Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara for the right to battle Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships. The dignified and energized duo of Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow punched their ticket to the tournament final on Raw with a win over "Team Co-Bro," Santino Marella & Zack Ryder.
Ryder was the first in the ring against Team Rhodes Scholars, and The Ultimate Broski had his work cut out for him against Rhodes & Sandow. The Scholars unleashed an early barrage of offense against Long Island Iced-Z, although Ryder was able to reach Santino for a tag after withstanding an offensive sequence from Rhodes. The Italian Stallion wasn't able to capitalize, though, as Rhodes executed the Disaster Kick on Santino when he reached for the Cobra, defeating "Team Co-Bro" to earn their way into the final of the tournament.
But it was a three-man team who had the last word of the evening, as Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal, "The Band," made their way to the ring and unleashed a perfectly synchronized stomping on the fallen Santino, pausing only to rock their air guitars before the assembled Sacramento crowd.
In a Divas matchup that was long coming, Kaitlyn made her return from injury to compete in the match she wanted all along: an opportunity at the Divas Championship. And, although the opponent was different than the one she initially planned to face at Night of Champions, the result was ultimately the same, as Kaitlyn ended the night without the Divas Title around her waist.
Kaitlyn did put her power on display against Eve, hoisting the champion up for a Torture Rack and executing a textbook backbreaker that left Eve reeling in the corner. But Eve was ultimately the wilier of the two, targeting Kaitlyn's injured ankle to hobble her challenger before she could ever really mount an offensive sequence. Eve trapped Kaitlyn in a vise-like heel hook and forced her to submit in the middle of the ring. It fell to Layla, who had been sitting on commentary, to run into the ring and break the hold after Eve refused to release Kaitlyn following the final bell. The final tableau of the night was an odd one, with a seemingly concerned Eve fawning over the fallen Kaitlyn and Layla, clearly not convinced, giving Eve a statement of her own via a two-handed shove to send the champion backing out of the ring.
As it turned out, CM Punk vs. Mr. McMahon wasn't much of a match, as the bell never rang to signal the beginning of the contest. That said, it was one undeniably epic fight.
The brutality began early, when Punk attacked The Chairman from behind before he could even take to the ring. The Second City Saint showed no mercy in the man he once considered his chief tormentor, battering The Boss about the ring before Mr. McMahon began to show signs of life. The Chairman gave as good as he got, pummeling Punk on the outside and even catching some air as he leaped over the announce table to pounce on The Second City Saint while he lied prone amid the announce chairs. Mr. McMahon's acquisition of a kendo stick from beneath the ring sent Punk scurrying. But when The Chairman laid hands on Punk's beloved WWE Title (decking Heyman to get it in the process) and dared him to come and get it, The Voice of the Voiceless was left with no choice but to retaliate.
And retaliate he did. Once Punk got his hands on a kendo stick of his own, he went mano-a-mano with The Chairman, and an expert possum play led to a low blow that left Mr. McMahon sprawled across the ring. After dishing another battering with the two kendo sticks, Punk finally hauled The Chairman up for the Go to Sleep, and it seemed there were very few words from anyone that could have stopped the onslaught at that point.
And then, right on cue, two of them erupted through the loudspeakers:
For the third time, Ryback made a beeline for the WWE Champion and, with an assist from John Cena, this time "Big Hungry" hit paydirt, cutting The Second City Saint down with a clothesline before lifting Punk into the air for Shell Shocked ... until Punk squirmed off Ryback's grip and, in a strange repeat from his infamous exit at Money in the Bank, exited through the crowd.
McMahon, down but not out, got to his feet, grabbed the mic and presented Punk with an ultimatum: At Hell in a Cell, he would either face John Cena or Ryback. And if the champion hadn't made up his mind in seven days ... well, The Chairman would make it for him.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Ryback defeated Primo and Epico (w/ Rosa Mendes) in a Two On One Handicap Match (2:33)
- Brodus Clay fought R-Truth to a no contest
- Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara defeated The Prime Time Players (Titus O'Neil & Darren Young) in a WWE Tag Team Title #1 Contendership Tournament Semi Final Match (7:14)
- Sheamus defeated Wade Barrett by Disqualification (12:36)
- Antonio Cesaro defeated Tyson Kidd (3:54)
- Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan & Kane) defeated Alberto Del Rio & Dolph Ziggler (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez & Vickie Guerrero) (16:00)
- Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow) defeated Team Co-Bro (Santino Marella & Zack Ryder) in a WWE Tag Team Title #1 Contendership Tournament Semi Final Match
- Eve (c) defeated Kaitlyn to retain the WWE Divas Championship (2:52)
- Vince McMahon fought CM Punk to a no contest
Tag Team Tournament Brackets
|9/28||The Uso Brothers||1:56|
|10/12||Ryder & Marella||TBA|
|Main Event||Ryder & Marella||Pin|
|10/3||Kidd & Gabriel||4:04|
|10/15||Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara|
|Smackdown||Kofi Kingston & R-Truth||Pin|
|10/5||The Prime Time Players||4:17|
|RAW||The Prime Time Players||Pin|
|10/8||Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara||7:14|
|RAW||Epico & Primo||Pin|
|10/1||Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara||9:22|
Other on-screen talent