10/1 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Jim Ross Appreciation Night, C.M. Punk and Ryback followup, Sheamus and Big Show debate, Hell in a Cell build continues
By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at Chesapeake Energy Arena
[Q1] The show opened with a recap of last week's segments involving Mick Foley, C.M. Punk, and the final scene of Ryback staring down Punk backstage... Michael Cole checked in on commentary and noted that he was accompanied by Jim Ross...
C.M. Punk's music played. Punk and Paul Heyman headed to the ring with Heyman holding up the WWE Championship. Cole noted that it is Jim Ross Appreciation Night. Ross said he's humbled and appreciates what WWE is doing. Punk noted that Cena attacked him last week while his back was turned.
Punk said that might be a noble act "in a city like this" but it's cowardice in Chicago. Punk said he walked backstage after being attacked and Foley shot him a look and said something under his breath and he deemed it disrespectful. Punk said he listened to a little of what Foley said and said some of his words got to him.
Punk said he spent the last week thinking about his stance of not facing John Cena at Hell in a Cell. He said he's been able to digest what Foley said about his legacy and accepting Cena's challenge. "That's why I'm out here tonight," Punk said. "I'm here to announce that at Hell in a Cell, C.M. Punk - John Cena, is still not going to happen." Punk whispered something to Heyman.
Heyman took the mic and received immediate boos. He said they wanted to move on to a most relevant piece of business. Heyman pointed to the screen, where his proposal to A.J. from last week aired. Heyman recalled the WWE Board of Directors stating that A.J. Lee could never put her hands on a superstar, manager, or anyone else ever again.
Heyman said he and Punk agree that A.J. Lee must be removed from her position of general manager immediately. The fans booed. Heyman said he knew the fans were booing because that would leave a void in the power structure. Heyman said he was the person to take the job and cited his own experience.
Vickie Guerrero interrupted with an "excuse me" and walked to the ring with Dolph Ziggler. She said mentioned her own history and then aired footage of A.J. attacking her. Heyman asked when it became about her. Vickie called Dolph a future World Champion. Heyman told her that when the future catches up with the present to let her know.
[Q2] Dolph interjected to suggest the possibility of Heyman and Vickie serving as co-general managers. A.J. skipped to the ring and announced that the board of directors have put her on probation. She said she's been appointed and executive coach to help her in her development of Raw.
Daniel Bryan's music played and he walked out doing the "No!" bit with the fans. Bryan yelled at the fans to stop it. He said he came out to apologize. "Stop it!" he yelled, just as the back of his t-shirt reads. Bryan said A.J.'s mental issues have been compounded by the fact that he dumped her after WrestleMania. Bryan said he can't blame her. "I mean look at me," Bryan said. "I am one hell of a catch." Funny.
"I am handsome!" Bryan yelled. "I am a former World Champion. I have a great beard." Bryan took off his belt and said now he is the tag team champions. He yelled it a few times and then Kane's music hit and he made his entrance. Kane said everyone has forgotten to mention that she is a phenomenal kisser. A.J. eventually interrupted to announce Kane and Bryan vs. Punk and Ziggler for later in the show...
Powell's POV: I didn't care for Punk and Heyman being caught up in the over the top comedy that Kane and Bryan are doing right now. I'd keep them away from that nonsense. The match itself could be fun. it's worth nothing that Ziggler was wearing a pink ribbon on his jacket, so it won't just be John Cena in pink this month.
Cole hyped the debate between Big Show and Sheamus with Booker T as the moderator... Ross hyped that Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara were coming up. They showed the tag title tournament pairings... [C]
1. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. Primo and Epico (w/Rosa) in a first-round tag tournament match. Cole said the tournament will continue on WWE Main Event with Zack Ryder and Santino Marella vs. Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel. Sin Cara and Mysterio wore matching colors. The masked men got the better of the action. The Prime Time Players music played and they took a seat on the stage. Cole said The Players will face Kofi Kingston and R-Truth on Smackdown and the winners will face the winner of this match in the next round.
[Q3] [C] The Players took a seat on the stage to watch the match. After the break, Sin Cara dove onto Epico at ringside, and then Mysterio performed a top rope splash on Primo for the win. The Players clapped on the stage...
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara defeated Primo and Epico in a first round tag tournament match.
The announcers hyped the debate and said Booker will choose fan questions sent in via Tout and Twitter... [C]
Powell's POV: The tournament is effectively adding some importance to what would otherwise be throwaway tag matches. I like the way they are stretching it out over all the television shows, including the WWE Main Event premiere. By the way, Chris Shore will have live coverage of WWE Main Event as the show airs on ION Network at 7:00 p.m. CT.
2. Antonio Cesaro vs. Brodus Clay (w/Cameron, Naomi) in a non-title match. No entrance for Clay, who got some brief offense. Cesaro came back with a springboard uppercut and then finished off Clay with The Neutralizer...
Antonio Cesaro defeated Brodus Clay in 1:05.
Powell's POV: The announcers did a really good job of putting over Cesaro performing the move on someone Clay's size. Cole questioned whether he could do it as he was going up for the move and then he and Ross raved when he was able to pull it off. Clay was an afterthought in the match, which was all about Cesaro.
[Q4] Backstage, A.J. Lee introduced Kaitlyn to her executive coach Christopher J. Stevenson. A.J. built up to asking Kaitlyn to forgive her for their past issues. A.J. laughed maniacally and then said she's not sorry at all...
Cole hyped Jim Ross Appreciation Night and questioned who will show up to say hello. Ross hyped the tag match main event... [C]
Powell's POV: As usual, I have no clue what to think of A.J. She's a babyface in the opening segment and then seemingly heelish here. It would be fine if I felt like it was leading to something, but her back and forth behavior is more confusing than compelling at this point.
An graphic noted that three times more viewers watch Smackdown on Friday than UFC's The Ultimate Fighter... Cole hyped that Larry King was the special social media ambassador...
3. The Miz vs. Zack Ryder in a non-title match. Miz caught Ryder as he was going for his finisher and threw him back first into the corner. In the end, Miz pinned Ryder clean after performing the Skull Crushing Finale...
The Miz defeated Zack Ryder in a non-title match in 2:40.
A shot aired of Booker T walking backstage... [C]
Powell's POV: The Miz won a non-title match on television? It's a miracle! A good television match.
[Q5] Booker T headed to the ring and didn't get much of a reaction from the crowd. He hyped Sheamus vs. Big Show at Hell in a Cell as being "for the very first time." Booker introduced Big Show, who walked out wearing as suit. Footage was shown of Big Show beating Randy Orton on Smackdown. They said Orton suffered a major rib injury (angle).
Sheamus was introduced next and. Sheamus, who was wearing ring gear, joined Booker and Big Show in the ring where two podiums were set up. Big Show started to thank Booker for the debate, but then said it was unnecessary. Yeah, no shit. Show said he's going to knock out Sheamus and win the title.
Sheamus went for the cheap pop by mentioning the name of the town. He said his only concern was whether the match would go 45 seconds. Show said Sheamus wasn't taking the debate or the match seriously and he should be. Show got ticked. His podium started to fall apart so he threw the rest of it down. Show asked if he can have a new podium. He said he's slightly overweight and leaned on it.
Sheamus pointed to the big screen for a Tout message from his cousin Rey MysteriO'Sullivan, which was Sheamus holding up a mask in front of him. He asked how Big Show will feel when he has his head kicked off at HIAC. He concluded by saying, "Ariba." Sheamus was among the only people laughing.
Big Show insisted that Sheamus be serious. Sheamus got serious and asked how did it feel when Daniel Bryan beat him for the World Title in 45 seconds. Show took off his jacket. Sheamus took off his shirt. They stared at one another. Show left the ring and the crowd booed...
A shot aired of Ryback walking backstage...
Powell's POV: Horrible segment. They continue to cast Sheamus as a funny guy, yet his material is every bit as corny as John Cena's material. This should be built up as a huge challenge for Sheamus, yet instead he's telling bad jokes and playing an awful Tout video. That segment was damaging when it comes to my own interest in their match. Creative wanted to be current with the debate on Wednesday, yet they didn't have any ideas beyond that. Everyone involved in that mess should be embarrassed.
[Q6] [C] 4. Ryback vs. Tensai. Sakamoto wasn't with Tensai again this week. Cole noted that Jerry Lawler continues to improve and told Cole earlier that he's resting and getting better by the day. Ryback powerslammed Tensai and then clotheslined him. Ross compared it to Stan Hansen's Lariat. Ryback went for his finisher twice and was unable to pick him up. Ryback clotheslined him instead and scored the pin...
Ryback defeated Tensai in 1:45.
Backstage, Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes spoke about winning the tag tournament and the WWE Tag Titles. They also agreed that Sheamus is a neanderthal... Cole hyped Jim Ross Appreciation Night... [C] An ad aired for Mick Foley's "A Most Mizerable Christmas" children's book...
Powell's POV: Ross did his best to cover for Ryback by saying Tensai blocked his finisher, but it looked really bad. Cole also did a good job of talking about how the clothesline is another weapon in Ryback's arsenal. The live crowd groaned at the botched attempts, yet many of those fans chanted "Feed Me More" along with him after the match. I have a feeling someone is being yelled at backstage. That's what WWE gets for taking away Sakamoto's weekly ass kicking. This has been a lousy show thus far and we're not even to the usual point when it feels like Raw is dragging due to the third hour.
Justin Roberts plugged the Susan B. Komen charity and asked the breast cancer survivors to stand up...
5. Eve vs. Beth Phoenix in a non-title match. Before the match, footage aired of an overly nice Eve talking about the Divas division and how great the other participants are. Highlights aired of Eve attempting to suspend Beth on Smackdown. Eve got Beth to shake hands before the match.
[Q7] Beth charged at Eve in the corner early on. Eve moved and Beth's shoulder hit the ring post.
Eve attacked Beth aggressively on the floor while Beth sold the shoulder injury. Beth barely made it back inside the ring at the ref's nine count. Eve hit a neckbreaker a short time later and pinnned Phoenix clean...
Eve defeated Beth Phoenix in a non-title match in 2:35.
Backstage, A.J. introduced Christopher J. Stevenson to Wade Barrett for some odd reason. Barrett said she's doing a horrible job. He said he's not booked on the show. He said one minute she's red hot and the next minute she's cold as ice. He told her to stop letting her personal relationships get in the way of her job. After Barrett left, A.J. looked at Stevenson and said, "I think you're intimidated"... [C]
Powell's POV: Wow, nothing on this show is clicking tonight. Eve vs. Beth was fine even if it was predictable and I liked what Barrett had to say, but A.J.'s line to Stevenson was out there. I'm not even sure what purpose this guy serves.
The announcers discussed JBL's latest mountain climbing success and said he will return to Raw next week...
6. Santino Marella vs. Heath Slater (w/Drew McIntyre, Jinder Mahal). The announcers questioned what the connection is between Slater, McIntyre, and Mahal. Slater had a run of good offense. Santino came back with his usual moves and dropped him with The Cobra. McIntyre and Jinder hit the ring for the DQ.
McIntyre performed his Future Shock DDT after the three heels said in unison, "One, two, one, two, three..." Slater took the mic and said they have something everyone needs to hear. McIntyre said he's still the chosen one. Mahal said he's still the maharaja. Slater said he's still the one man band...
Santino Marella defeated Heath Slater by DQ due to outside interference in 2:50.
Powell's POV: Does WWE have a warehouse of Job Squad t-shirts that they are desperate unload?
Cole hyped the appreciation night segment, and Ross hyped Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow for after the break... [C]
[Q8] 7. Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow (w/Cody Rhodes) in a non-title match. Cody joined the announcers on commentary. Cole's first question was how Cody and Sandow came up with the name Rhodes Scholars. Yes, really. Sheamus grabbed Sandow by the beard and went for a clothesline. Sandow took a powder and they cut to commercial. [C]
After the break,Cody distracted Sheamus, which gave Sandow a chance to take control. Sandow got the better of Sheamus for a few minutes.
[Q9] Sandow continued to work over Sheamus as Ross raved that this was his finest performance in WWE. Sheamus came back with a battering ram shoulder block off the top rope and got a two count. Sheamus slammed Sandow on the chest as the crowd chanted along.
Cody Rhodes stood up and tried to attack Sheamus from behind. Sheamus saw him coming. Sheamus performed a double Brogue Kick (two men, one foot) and scored the clean pin...
Sheamus defeated Damien Sandow in a non-title match in 16:00.
The announcers hyped the tag team main event and said Jim Ross Appreciation Night was up next... [C]
Powell's POV: I like the way the announcers put over Sandow down the stretch. Ross mentioned earlier that JBL would be returning to Raw next week. Let's see, Ross's appreciation night segment is televised and his potential replacement is returning next week. That seems like a recipe for hometown humiliation No. 722 for Ross. Here's hoping this is airing on television because they have a big surprise like Steve Austin appearing on the show.
Michael Cole gave Jim Ross a nice introduction. Ross made his entrance and received a good ovation from the home state fans. Cole asked Ross how it felt to have this night in front of the Oklahoma fans. Just as Ross was about to speak, C.M. Punk's music interrupted him.
Punk and Paul Heyman came to the ring. Punk told Cole he could return to ringside. The crowd booed Punk for the interruption. He led them in a "J.R." chant. Punk said Ross is the best announcer they have and he respects the hell out of him. He said the fans want to shower Ross with respect, but they don't know the first ting about it.
[Q10] Punk said the fans turned their backs on him. Punk said he respects Ross, which is why he's going to help him teach the fans about respect by telling them that he's the best in the world. Ross said he's happy Punk didn't come out to embarrass him. "Just being honest, man to man here, you've done a hell of a job out of making a jackass and embarrassing yourself the last several weeks on television."
Heyman looked at Ross and held up the belt and said, "He's the best in the world." The fans chanted J.R. Punk said he wished he could say he's not totally disappointed in him, but he can't. Punk said he came out and told Ross they both the best when everyone else (pointing to the back) treating him like crap.
Punk questioned what would happen to Ross if he treated him with the same disrespect and the same way he treated Foley last week. Punk asked who would come to his rescue. "Stone Cold!" Punk yelled. He said Stone Cold couldn't help him, nor could Jerry Lawler. Punk said 316 used to mean that Austin whopped your ass, but now it's the number of days that he has held the WWE Championship.
"316 now belongs to me," Punk said. "316 and counting, just like you, right now, body and soul, belong to me." Punk asked Ross when he became such a tough guy with his John Wayne hat and his phony Stone Cold goatee. Punk said Ross could say it however he wants, but he's going to say that Punk is the best in the world.
"I'm not going to say it," Ross responded. "You talk about being the best in the world and you want everybody to call you the best in the world, well let me tell you something, sir, I have been blessed to call some of the greatest matches in WWE history with the best in the world." Ross said he's called matches with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, and Triple H and Undertaker.
Ross said those men never asked to be called the best in the world, but he would have had they asked him to because they earned that distinction. Ross told Punk that if he accepts John Cena's challenge and kicks his ass in Hell in a Cell, then he will be the first in line to tell him he's the best in the world. "Until then, we've got nothing to talk about," Ross concluded. Damn! The fans chanted J.R. again.
Punk unzipped his hooded sweatshirt and threw it down. He removed Ross's hat and stomped on it in the middle of the ring. Punk said he doesn't run away from fights. He said he's beaten Cena time and time again. He said the Oklahoma City Thunder couldn't get it done in the NBA Finals last season and they don't get another shot on Tuesday, they have to earn their way up again.
Punk said he's never run from anything, but if Ross is smart he will. He said Ross was standing in the ring with a dangerous man. Punk told him he would hurt Ross and see to it that he never calls another match again. He told him to put his hands up and fight him or leave. Ross started to walk away, but Punk spun him around.
"Jim, where do you think you're going?" Punk asked. He questioned whether Ross thought he was going to go back to commentary and spew his rhetoric. Punk told Ross to talk the walk of shame. He said he wanted all the people see Ross walk up the ramp. He told him to do it "or I will put you in the dirt." Ross slowly exited the ring. "Keep walking, Jim," Punk said. "You're not a Hall of Famer, you're a joke. You're an embarrassment."
Ross made it to the bottom of the entrance ramp and then Ryback's music hit. Ryback came out and motioned for Ross to come with him. Ryback entered the ring and motioned for Ross to join him. Ryback and Punk glared at one another in the middle of the ring while Ross stood near the ropes. The fans were on their feet chanting, "Feed Me More."
Punk slowly backed away and left the ring where Heyman was waiting at ringside. Punk backed up the ramp while Heyman told him that he's the best in the world. Punk took the title belt and held it over his head. Heyman told Punk he could take Ryback and said, "You don't fight for free"... Cole hyped the tag team main event...
Powell's POV: A spectacular segment. I enjoyed this even more than the Punk and Foley exchange last week. Punk continues to deliver amazing mic work week in and week out. Meanwhile, this is the best verbal exchange that I recall Ross having during his career. He was sympathetic, yet easy to respect because of the way he stood his ground and refused to call Punk the best in the world. I love the fact that Punk was one step ahead of everyone by pointing out that Austin and Lawler weren't there to save Ross. Ryback coming out was a great followup to last week. This is excellent use of Ryback, whose popularity is bound to grow because he stood up for the likable Ross and against the hatable Punk. I don't know when they'll have their first match, but I'm really enjoying the build to it.
[Q11] [C] Cole noted that they are just two months away from the WWE Tribute to the Troops event as a Kid Rock theme played in the background. Cole said the song "Let It Ride" is Kid Rock's own tribute to the troops...
Ross was back on commentary with Cole. He said he wasn't trying to be disrespectful. He said writing best of the world isn't something you write on a t-shirt, it's something you earn. He said he feels Punk could earn that by beating Cena inside Hell in a Cell... The announcers narrated highlights of the Randy Orton injury angle from Smackdown (and after the show)...
Powell's POV: By the way, I assume they will hold the full length Jim Ross Appreciation Night ceremony after the show tonight.
8. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Kofi Kingston (w/R-Truth). Ricardo sat in on commentary. He said he's been a huge fan of Cole for a long time. "Oh, hey, J.R.," Ricardo said. Hilarious. Kingston jumped out to a fast start and they cut to commercial less than a minute into the match. [C]
After the break, Ricardo said Del Rio was at a disadvantage because it was three-on-one due to Little Jimmy. Ricardo cheered on Del Rio throughout the match in a comical way. Del Rio avoided Trouble in Paradise and applied the Cross Arm Breaker and got the submission win...
Alberto Del Rio defeated Kofi Kingston in 6:10.
Backstage, Stevenson told A.J. that part of being a leader is admitting when you're wrong and putting aside your personal differences. She said they should do something special.
[Q12] She threatened to make Stevenson the special referee of the main event and told him to get out of her arena. She said she doesn't think a coach is worth a damn unless they've been a player and he's never been a player. She said she doesn't need a coach, much less an executive coach...
Daniel Bryan made his entrance. Kane made his entrance... [C] An ad aired for the Punk vs. Sheamus match that headlines WWE Main Event...
Powell's POV: Yawn. Ross apologized for talking while A.J. and Stevenson were yapping. It sounded like he said, "Why don't you do the reveal..." and then realized his mic was on. Oops. Meanwhile, Ricardo is such a likable character that I actually liked a joke involving Little Jimmy. That's really saying something.
Punk and Ziggler were in the ring after the break. Justin Roberts introduced A.J. Lee as the special referee...
9. Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. C.M. Punk (w/Paul Heyman) and Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero) with A.J. Lee as special referee in a non-title match. Cole ran through A.J.'s history with everyone involved in the match (other than Ziggler). "My God, it sounds like Days of our WWE Lives," Ross said. Kane clotheslined Ziggler to ringside and Bryan tagged himself into the match heading into the commercial break. [C]
Cole noted that Lee is on probation from WWE and noted that she told her executive coach to get lost. Cole also said Kane made his first WWE appearance 15 years ago this week. Ross said he remembered vividly, as it was during the Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and Undertaker.
[Overrun] Ross noted that Heyman and Vickie had not communicated during the match. In the ring, Punk hit a high knee on Kane, but Kane shoved him off when he went for a bulldog and performed a side slam. Kane went to the top rope and clotheslined Punk. Bryan tagged in and leapt toward Punk off the ropes, only to have Punk catch him with a shot on the way down.
Bryan took Punk down with a clothesline and then fired up before catching him with several kicks. Bryan knocked Ziggler off the apron, but walked into a kick from Punk. Later, Bryan performed an awesome angel's wings suplex off the top rope and then applied the No! Lock. Punk reached the bottom rope with an assist from Heyman, who pushed the rope in, to break the hold.
A.J. called Heyman up to the ring apron. He insisted he didn't put Punk's foot on the rope. She ejected Heyman from ringside. Vickie stood up and yelled until she got the same treatment. Ziggler grabbed his briefcase and left with Vickie as Punk seethed. Bryan caught Punk with a running dropkick. Kane chokeslammed Punk and pinned him. A.J. made the three count. Bryan and Kane did the "I'm the tag team champions" routine after the match...
Kane and Daniel Bryan defeated C.M. Punk and Dolph Ziggler in a non-title match in 12:45.
Powell's POV: I guess this means Bryan and Kane are babyfaces at least for this week. I'm still not sure what we're supposed to think of A.J. There was some really good work from Bryan and Punk, but the match felt more about the personas than the in-ring action.
Overall, the first couple hours made for mostly painful viewing. To use a Ross term, business picked up during the Ross Appreciation Night segment. That was easily the highlight of the night, and the third hour of the show was much better as a whole than it has been lately. The question now is how many viewers suffered through the first two hours and stuck around to see the third hour. Things should get better next week, assuming they really kick into pay-per-view hype mode.
Thanks for watching along with me tonight. I'll be back on Tuesday with the WWE Raw Hitlist.
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