Raw kicked off not with a bang, but with a sit-in, as the cameras opened up on WWE Champion CM Punk and his associate, Paul Heyman, staging their own miniature protest and occupying the squared circle in an act of civil disobedience. "We will not be leaving until justice is served," Heyman pontificated, referring to Punk's dubious loss to John Cena the previous week, a defeat that occurred despite The Second City Saint having reached the ropes with his foot while the referee counted to three. With his evidence presented, Heyman demanded that the official, Brad Maddox, make his way to the ring, admit his error, and tender his resignation live on Raw.
After a brief pause, Maddox made his presence known, looking for all the world like a sheep on its way to the slaughter. The young referee faced Heyman's fire admirably, offering up an apology for bungling his first main event. Maddox balked, however, at the mad scientist of Extreme's demand that he tender his resignation. This brought The Second City Saint to his feet, venom spewing forth as CM Punk berated the referee for "embarrassing" both himself and the WWE Champion live on Raw. "Who are you?" Punk sneered, which brought forth the explanation: Maddox was a new referee, brought to Raw by General Manager AJ Lee after Raw expanded to three hours. Or, as Heyman put it, "you're a scab!" before presenting Maddox with a gift: a sleep mask with the WWE logo over one eye and the NFL emblem covering the other.
Before the public shaming could continue, however, AJ skipped down to the ring and excused Maddox for the time being, and a brief back-and-forth with Heyman led to Punk re-entering the fray. With tensions mounting, Punk cued up his own piece of footage: AJ's left-field marriage proposal to The Second City Saint from Raw two months earlier. "That's the reason ... you sent an incompetent referee out to screw me last week," Punk continued, laughing in AJ's face. "You forget last week's match ever happened and I'll forget the hundreds of text messages and voicemails you left me that I'm not fit to air on the USA Network."
With AJ getting more than a little red in the face, Heyman stepped in again, offering to help navigate the choppy waters the WWE Champion suddenly found himself in. Heyman's solution: marry him! (they didn't call him the mad scientist for nothing). "Think about all the power couples we're gonna trump!" Heyman shrieked from down on one knee. Heyman's genius took a left-field turn when he insinuated that he would come up with all the ideas and AJ could take the credit. For the grand finale, Heyman lasciviously sneered that "I like 'em dumb, young and ambitious," which brought forth a vicious slap across the face from Miss Lee.
Twitter animosity runneth over on Raw when The Showoff Dolph Ziggler clashed with former WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston Monday night in a contest spewing from a heated exchange the two had over the weekend across social media platforms (tweet responsibly, WWE Universe). Kofi, in particular, had taken Dolph to task over his series of losses against World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus, but it was Ziggler who had the last laugh on Raw when he picked up a thrilling win over the Boom Squad General.
It was a minor miracle that the match even happened at all, though: Before the bout even started, Vickie Guerrero and R-Truth were ejected from ringside after Vickie mocked Little Jimmy, earning her a faceful of soda from either Kofi, Truth or some combination of the two. Cue instant replay!
The match itself turned out to be as high-intensity and thrilling as the WWE Universe might expect from the two dynamos; Ziggler and Kingston have clashed often in the ring and the Superstars' familiarity with each other's movesets kept the match tight. Ziggler did, however, bust out a new maneuver in a reverse powerslam that left Kofi out on his feet, opening the door for Dolph to continue his technical dismantling of the former Tag Champion.
Ziggler himself ironically gave Kofi the opening that nearly tilted the match in the highflier's favor, missing a splash into the corner and giving Kofi the separation needed to fell The Showoff with a Boom Drop. Dolph's attempts to rally were stymied by Kofi, and an S.O.S. nearly sealed the contest before the two began trading top rope strikes. Back and forth went Ziggler and Kofi, each taking to the skies before Kofi finally connected with a punishing crossbody that pancaked Mr. Money in the Bank onto the canvas. It still wasn't enough to kick Dolph to the curb, though, as The Showoff rallied and wrenched Kofi to his back with the Zig Zag for the three-count.
Kane & Daniel Bryan undergoing role play therapy in a diner with Dr. Shelby supervising them.
Now that we have your attention, allow us to explain the good doctor's latest tactic in bringing together the tumultuous Tag Team Champions, which involved Kane & Bryan breaking bread together at a local diner. Hoping to illustrate that Bryan and Kane could coexist outside of a competitive environment, Shelby orchestrated an elaborate role play where Kane, assuming the role of Gerald the friendly waiter, attempted to serve the "No!" man his meal. Suffice it to say, it did not go well, and vivid imagery of a man being dunked into the deep-fryer by his goat beard filled the heads of every patron in the establishment.
Things improved slightly, however, when the two bonded over their dismantling of the tag team division the previous Friday on SmackDown. Even Mae Young was feeling the love as the two ecstatically re-enacted their opponents' cries of pain as Kane & Bryan battered them about with chairs.
For the final "coup de grace," however, Shelby endeavored to employ "identity therapy" by having Kane eat a bite of salad, while Bryan tried a meatball in an effort to "walk a mile in the other's shoes." Predictably, this ended poorly as well: Kane's bite of lettuce provoked him to unleash a violent belch in Shelby's face. Bryan got the worst of the exchange, however, as the meatball provided such a shock to his system that the "No!" man violently upheaved into a speechless Shelby's lap. And for the second time in as many weeks, Kane smiled.
The Prime Time Players' vow to "take what [they] want" last week got off to a smashing start as they racked up their first win since losing the No. 1 contenders' spot for the Tag Titles: a defeat of the odd-couple tag team of Santino Marella & Zack Ryder.
Ryder was the first to start the contest, battling back and forth with Darren Young, roughing up "Mr. No Days Off" before The Ultimate Broski tagged in Santino Marella. The Italian Stallion seemed poised to finish the match early, but a sneaky tag-in by Titus O'Neil abruptly turned the tide. While Santino prepared to unleash the Cobra, "The Big Deal" grabbed The Milan Miracle and planted him to the mat, earning the three-count and beginning The Players' march back to the prime time.
Cue the car crash music and guitar riffs: Mick Foley is in the house.
The Hardcore Legend and three-time WWE Champion made an unannounced foray onto Monday Night Raw with one thing on his mind: enlightenment. Not in the philosophical sense, necessarily, but Foley arrived looking for an explanation as to where, exactly, WWE Champion CM Punk lost his way and turned from The Voice of the Voiceless into Paul Heyman's acolyte. Punk, however, did not appreciate Mick's "grandstanding" in the slightest, sulking to the ring and demanding that, if Foley had something to say, "say it to my face."
Foley did something very curious then: He made Punk smile, regaled the WWE Champion with a story of their text message interaction on the night that Punk first won the WWE Title. The nostalgia (and the brief lowering of Punk's shield) was short-lived after Foley warned him of the dangers of being a "Paul Heyman guy." Repeating an old adage he'd heard that "Paul Heyman would rather climb a tree and tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell a truth," Foley assured The Second City Saint that Heyman would, ultimately, only do what was best for him and not the champion.
When those efforts proved fruitless, the subject turned to a far more grisly subject: Hell in a Cell. Foley extolled the virtues of competing in the place where rivalries are settled once and for all, pitching it as the true and final test of Punk's greatness. The Hardcore Legend's challenge was simple: defeat Cena in the Cell and cement his legacy. Punk, however, was unmoved, smearing Foley's historic absorptions of pain as cheap pandering to the WWE Universe while painting his own 309-day reign as undisputable proof of his dominance.
And then, the old Foley returned. "No one cares about dates," Foley bellowed, shades of Cactus Jack shining through as The Second City Saint was stunned into silence. "They care about the moments that define us, and in my estimation ... you need one more." AJ Lee, Foley said, would allow Punk to pick his own opponent for WWE Hell in a Cell. The confrontation closed with a strange sight: Foley begged CM Punk to pick Cena, for AJ, Foley, Punk himself, but most importantly, "for them."
"Have a nice day," The Hardcore Legend concluded, and as he left the ring, the WWE Universe was left with the strangest of images: The Voice of the Voiceless, speechless in his own ring.
The destruction of "Miz TV" will have to go unavenged for the time being: Intercontinental Champion The Miz found himself a link on the food chain when he ran up against Ryback in a one-on-one contest on Raw. Needless to say, despite The Awesome One's proficiency in the ring, the behemoth Ryback simply overpowered the Intercontinental Champion. Showing his veteran intelligence, Miz looked like he might have found an opening briefly after two kicks to the face and a kneeling DDT that briefly left Ryback stunned, but the undefeated Superstar would not be denied. One earth-shattering clothesline later, The Miz found himself Shell Shocked and looking up at the lights as the referee counted to three.
It would seem that, with his eclectic, unpredictable moveset and pre-disposition for upset victories, that Tyson Kidd might be the one to derail the resurgent Barrett Barrage. But Wade Barrett's streak of dominance since his return from injury continued, as the Calgary, Alberta, highflier felt the wrath of the Manchester, England, brawler's newfound brutality.
To his credit, Kidd did not go quietly into the three-count, unleashing a series of eye-popping maneuvers that nearly stymied the Barrett Barrage and threatened to stop it before it could even begin. But Barrett was able to turn the tide back with just a few well-placed strikes, using his bare-knuckle fundamentals to stun the Hart Dungeon graduate before felling him with his "Winds of Change" sidewalk slam and finally sealing the contest with his signature charging elbow, the Souvenir. It's safe to say the WWE Universe won't be forgetting Barrett's power anytime soon.
In his first appearance on Raw since his heart attack earlier this month, Jerry "The King" Lawler gave an exclusive interview via satellite to Michael Cole. Patching in from his home in Memphis, Tenn., "The King" looked good on his throne, and despite the hoarseness of his voice (a side effect of the ventilator he'd had in the hospital), Lawler seemed healthy and happy, grateful both to be alive and for the outpouring of support from his friends and family. Cole didn't wait too long to ask the million-dollar question: When is "The King" coming home to Raw? Lawler insisted he'd leave his return up to the doctors, but thanked the WWE Universe one more time and sent Raw on its way with one final smile.
They couldn't get it done in the courtroom, but Raw General Manager AJ Lee gave the Brogue Kick victims, Alberto Del Rio, David Otunga and Ricardo Rodriguez, a chance to vent their frustrations in the ring with a Six-Man Tag Team Match against Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara & the architect of their recent misery, World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus.
Despite the seeming mismatched against the formidable trio, Del Rio, Otunga & Ricardo proved themselves a highly crafty team, keeping their opponents at bay while trying to phase Sheamus out of the competition. Ricardo, in particular, proved himself to be a surprisingly efficient brawler, throwing his body into each attack he leveled against Mysterio & Sin Cara and even earning enough admiration from his boss to convince Del Rio to tag him in at one point. He announces, he competes, he does it all: Ricardo Rodriguez.
It was Mysterio who found himself in the biggest trouble when Del Rio, Otunga & Ricardo pinned him in their corner and took turns teeing off on The Ultimate Underdog. The trio kept him at bay until Mysterio managed to get Del Rio to the middle of the ring, kicking The Essence of Excellence in the face and opening the door for a tag to the World Heavyweight Champion. Del Rio managed a tag of his own to Otunga, but the Harvard-educated muscleman quickly tagged in Rodriguez. Despite his heart, poor Ricardo found himself the recipient of Sheamus' forearm clubs, a 619 and Sin Cara's moonsault in quick succession, as the masked Mexican marvel's final, leaping attack spelled defeat for Del Rio's personal ring announcer.
Of course, Otunga had the biggest mistake of the night when he failed to clear the ring immediately following the match, because he found himself on the business end of a Brogue Kick.
Once again, the WWE Universe has spoken. Left to decide the official team name of Kane & Daniel Bryan via a RAWactive vote, the Universe spoke en masse and christened the bickering bros "Team Hell No" (in second place? "Team Friendship," and oh, what might have been). No sooner had the moniker been unveiled, though, that Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow stormed the ring, stunning the Tag Team Champions and debuting a name of their own: "Team Rhodes Scholars." The Rhodes Scholars didn't stop there, however, seemingly laying down a challenge for Hell No's Tag Team Titles. It would appear that chair attack from SmackDown has not been forgotten.
The Divas Champion continued her winning ways in a tag team match on Raw, but it was the former No. 1 contender who made the biggest waves on Monday night.
Eve took to the ring alongside Beth Phoenix for a tag match against Layla & Alicia Fox, and the champion made quick work of her challengers alongside the powerhouse Glamazon, with Eve eventually scoring the deciding pinfall over Alicia Fox. But the two were only left a few moments to celebrate their victory before Kaitlyn made her way to the top of the stage. Her foot encased in a walking boot, the former No. 1 contender to the Divas Title revealed that she'd gotten her hands on the Night of Champions security footage, hoping to catch a glimpse of her attacker. Alas, the tape didn't capture a look at her assailant's face, but Kaitlyn did see enough to tell the mysterious attacker was a blonde.
The Divas Champion took matters into her own hands by felling the only blonde within reach: Beth Phoenix. Time will tell whether Eve had gotten her hands on the right Diva, but the matter remains seemingly settled. For now.
The WWE Universe got a taste of a Brodus Clay–Tensai confrontation during the Night of Champions Pre-Show Battle Royal ... and a taste is all they'll have for the time being, as the anticipated first battle between the two big men found itself interrupted by a returning giant.
The Funkasaurus and the monstrous expatriate were in the middle of a furious back-and-forth, shaking the ring with their power attacks when Big Show's music hit. His presence as awesome as ever, The World's Largest Athlete stalked down to the ring, but he wasn't much for words in his first Raw in weeks. He did, however, raise eyebrows when he clobbered both Tensai and Brodus with the WMD, leaving the titanic Superstars prone on the mat before taking his leave. Clearly, one does not necessarily need words to make a statement.
Arm sling and all, John Cena kept his word and made his way to the Times Union Center for Monday Night Raw. The Cenation leader was as stoic as ever (if not quite as jovial) when he solenly apologized to Chad Patton and Brad Maddox for their treatment at the hands of WWE Champion CM Punk, who, Cena said, had devolved in record time into a "monkey frakkin' son of a bee sting" who needed a (preferably physical) lesson from Cena. And while Cena could not guarantee a full recovery, he did issue one promise to the WWE Universe: he would walk into Hell in a Cell, and he would do so to fight.
Cena's overture was interrupted, however, by the one-man cult of personality himself. Sauntering to the ring in his blue hoodie with Heyman holding the WWE Title aloft behind him, The Second City Saint cut right to the chase regarding Cena's comments and Mick Foley's earlier plea to name the Cenation leader his No. 1 contender at Hell in a Cell.
"You shouldn't be a WWE Superstar, you should be a politician," sneered Punk, labeling the Cenation leader's comments as "character assassination." "There's one CM Punk, there always has been," sneered The Second City Saint. "It's the same one who beat you over a year ago." Punk threw out the statistics of his title reign again, which he promised would not end "at the hand of a one-armed man."
"Why don't you shut up and face me at Hell in a Cell?" Cena responded simply.
It took Punk all of five seconds to decline the challenge. And it wasn't because of Cena's surgery, or because of previous losses to The Second City Saint, but because of the beating that Punk planned to lay on Cena. Punk, he explained, was going to turn his back for five seconds, and if Cena was still there when he turned around, "I'm gonna hurt you so bad it's gonna make the last eight days look like a picnic at the beach."
Punk did indeed turn around, but what he didn't expect was the trick that Cena had in his back pocket: a lead pipe that he used to clobber the champion in the gut. "Real men wear pink," boomed Cena, before adding a final quip: "Now that's what I call a pipe bomb!"
The drama didn't end there, though. As the wounded champion hobbled back to the locker room area, he stumbled upon the last person he surely wanted to see: Mick Foley. As The Hardcore Legend affixed Punk with a disappointed glare, Punk's furstration got the better of him and he hit the three-time WWE Champion with a kick to the gut that sent Foley to his knees. Punk began to walk away but soon stopped in his tracks, seemingly ready to deliver one final quip to the fallen Foley.
"You know ..." Punk began, before stopping dead in his tracks. A look of fear overcame The Second City Saint as the camera turned to reveal a Superstar had come to the aid of the downed legend: Ryback. And he looked hungry.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dolph Ziggler (w/ Vickie Guerrero) defeated Kofi Kingston (w/ R-Truth) (10:30)
- The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O'Neil) defeated Santino Marella & Zack Ryder (2:00)
- Ryback defeated The Miz (3:00)
- Wade Barrett defeated Tyson Kidd (2:20)
- Sheamus, Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara defeated Alberto Del Rio, David Otunga & Ricardo Rodriguez (7:25)
- Eve & Beth Phoenix defeated Layla & Alicia Fox (2:00)
- Brodus Clay (w/ Cameron & Naomi) vs. Tensai ended in a no contest
- Dark match: Sheamus defeated CM Punk by DQ
Other on-screen talent