10/8 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Vince McMahon delivers the State of WWE Address, John Cena returns and opens the show, Ryback and C.M. Punk followup, WWE Tag Tournament continues, Hell in a Cell hype
By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Sacramento, California at Power Balance Pavilion
[Q1] Michael Cole welcomed viewers to Monday Night Raw as John Cena made his entrance. Cole was joined on commentary by Jim Ross and JBL. Cena asked the fans if they missed him. He said he missed them too. He said one week off felt like a year. Cena made goat sounds while talking about Daniel Bryan and Kane.
Cena continued to joke as he said U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro has big nipples. Cena said he'd like to take A.J. on a date and suggested In & Out Burger. He worked up the crowd and said that as loud as they are they don't have a voice either. He said the Voice of the Voiceless is now the Voice of the Selfish. Most fans booed and some chanted Punk's name.
Cena said the choice of a Hell in a Cell match belongs to Punk. He said it doesn't matter if you're best in the world and people don't want to watch. He spoke about big moments and said he believes Punk vs. Cena at HIAC will be one of those moments. Cena said he doesn't know if Punk can be swayed, but he hopes the fans let them know how they feel. Cena said Punk could cement his legacy by facing him at Hell in a Cell.
As Cena was leaving the ring, Ryback's music played. Cole said Ryback calls himself "The Big Hungry." Ryback headed to the ring for a match. Cole said he felt bad for Ross because of Punk ruining his Appreciation Night. Highlights aired of Ryback coming to Ross's rescue...
Powell's POV: The usual mixed bag from Cena. Please tell me that Cesaro's nipples don't become a topic of conversation with the WWE wrestlers and announcers. Cena's sense of humor rarely meshes with my own, but he was good when he got down to business while talking about Punk.
1. Ryback vs. Primo and Epico (w/Rosa) in a handicap match. Ryback finished off both men with his finisher and pinned them both...
Ryback defeated Primo and Epico in 2:35.
Powell's POV: JBL did a good job of trying to make Primo and Epico sound like quality opponents. I'm sure it had more to do with making Ryback's win seem more impressive than helping the tag team save face, but it was a nice touch either way. I can't say The Big Hungry name jumps out at me, but the live crowd was really into Ryback and chanted "Feed Me More" as loud as any live crowd has thus far.
[Q2] [C] An ad aired for the Big Show vs. Randy Orton match that headlines Wednesday's WWE Main Event television show...
Brodus Clay made his entrance with Cameron and Naomi for a match against R-Truth. However, Truth said they could fight anytime. He said Little Jimmy wanted to dance. Truth asked if the girls would dance with Jimmy. They obliged, Brodus joined in, and Truth joined in.
Vince McMahon interrupted on the big screen. He said he wanted Brodus and the gang to dance on up the ramp because it was time for the State of the WWE Address. Vince called for Clay's music to play. Brodus and company danced their way toward the back... [C]
Powell's POV: I was really hoping that Little Jimmy was sent packing along with Brian Gewirtz.
Justin Roberts introduced Mr. McMahon, who did the BMF walk while "No Chance in Hell" played. Vince said we just saw two grown men and two women dancing with an imaginary child. He said that's the state of WWE. He said there's room for that. He said there's also room for leprechauns, goat faced vegans, big red monsters, masked luchadors, and giants.
Vince said the most important thing they have in WWE is action. Vince said fans want to see the best against the best. C.M. Punk's music interrupted McMahon. Punk, wearing a new yellow t-shirt, headed to the ring with Paul Heyman. Vince said he was disrespecting him by interrupting the State of WWE Address. Punk said Vince disrespected him by not mentioning his name.
[Q3] Punk noted the "ironic" fans who like to chant his name. He said that if he needed any crap out of them he would scrape their tongues. Punk asked Vince if he respects him. Vince said he respects that Punk has been champion for 323 days. However, he said he doesn't respect that Punk says he's "a Paul Heyman kind of guy."
Vince said that in all honesty, he's not a C.M. Punk guy. Punk said Vince should be holding a C.M. Punk Appreciation Night. Punk said he'll quit WWE and blow Vince a kiss like he did last year. "We'll see what that does to your state of WWE," Punk said. Vince asked if Punk was saying that he's indispensable.
Punk questioned who Vince thinks makes the WWE a success. Vince said it's not him, it's not Punk, it's the WWE Universe. He said he listens to the fans on the street and when they tweet and when they tout. He said they are all saying that somebody needs to shut Punk's mouth. Vince said Punk is nowhere near the greats like Andre the Giant, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Bret Hart, or Steve Austin.
Punk laughed and said he's nothing like Steve Austin. Punk said he made it to the top through hard work and never backing down from a challenge. Punk said Austin took shortcuts. He said the thing that got Austin to the top was beating up a clueless, inept millionaire. Punk said it's a good thing he did it back then because that millionaire is more clueless, more inept, and is now a senior citizen.
Punk said it's a slap in the face for Vince to come out and treat him the way he has. "You've been slapping me in the face for years," Punk said. Punk slapped Vince across the face and then left the ring with a concerned Heyman. Vince said he should fire Punk, but that's too good for him.
Vince said he will fire Punk if he doesn't fight him in the ring tonight. Punk reveled in the thought while Heyman asked him not to do it. Vince said that by the time the night is over, Punk will learn something about respect. Heyman said it went the wrong way. Punk said they have Vince right where they want him. "Trust me," a smiling Punk said. "Everything is going to be fine"... [C]
Powell's POV: When ratings are down, bring back Vince McMahon. When panic really kicks in, put Vince back in the ring. This formula can only help. The live crowd loved it and were buzzing about the match heading into the break. Another strong promo with memorable quotes from Punk. Heyman was great in expressing shock over Punk slapping Vince and then begging Punk not to face Punk.
After the break, a recap of the Vince and Punk segment aired... Cole and Ross were tense at ringside, but JBL was all smiles. He said Christmas has come early because of the Punk vs. Vince match. Ross said Vince made an emotional decision and he has a bad feeling about this one. Cole noted that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the social media ambassador...
Powell's POV: By the way, will we ever find out what Vince was going to say or was that all just filler and setup for the angle with Punk?
[Q4] 2. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. The Prime Time Players in a semi-final tournament match. Cole noted that the other semifinal match would take place later in the show. Mysterio and Sin Cara jumped out to a fast start and the show cut to an early commercial break. [C]
After the break, Sin Cara sold for Titus O'Neil. Mysterio took the hot tag and got the better of Darren Young. Mysterio eventually put Young away with a top rope splash. The announcers noted that the finals of the tournament will air on Raw next week...
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara defeated The Prime Time Players in 7:25 to advance to the tournament finals.
Backstage, Heyman said Punk proves every night that he's the best in the world, but this is a must lose situation. Punk said he's going to step on Vince's throat, put him on the mat, and annihilate him. "Then what?" Heyman asked. He said then he and Punk will have an angry lunatic spending every day trying to find ways to make their lives miserable. Punk said he's going to find a way to win and told Heyman he has nothing to worry about...
Ross hyped Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: I can't say enough about what Heyman brings to the Punk act. He's not just a cheerleader manager. He counters Punk at times like these and shows concern whenever he takes things too far. Meanwhile, the tag tournament is playing out as expected with the teams that consist of two singles wrestlers eliminating all of the actual tag teams. I hope they don't do anything to damage Barrett in his match against Sheamus. I'm surprised to see that one thrown out so casually.
[Q5] Recaps aired of John Cena's promo and of C.M. Punk slapping Vince McMahon...
3. Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett in a non-title match. During the ring introductions, the announcers hyped Punk vs. McMahon for viewers who tuned in at the top of the hour. The announcers gave a shout out to Jerry Lawler. Shortly after Sheamus and Barrett locked up, Big Show's music played and he headed to the ring.
Barrett punched Sheamus once Show arrived at ringside. Barrett had control of the offense heading into the commercial break roughly five minutes into the break. [C] After the break, Sheamus mounted a comeback and cleared Barrett from the ring. The wrestlers went back and forth on offense as JBL raved about Barrett's physicality.
Sheamus got the better of Barrett and hit him with the ten forearm shots to the chest while the crowd counted along. Tensai ran in for the apparent DQ. Barrett and Tesai roughed up Sheamus while Show msiled. Tesnai went for a move while Barrett held on, but Sheamus broke free and Brogue Kicked Tensai.
[Q6] Big Show entered the ring after Sheamus cleared Barrett to ringside. Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, but Show caught his leg and then shoved him backwards over the top rope. Sheamus landed hard on the ground and appeared to slam his head on the mat. Sheamus got back to his feet and stood in the ring while Show walked backstage...
Sheamus defeated Wade Barrett by DQ in 12:35.
The announcers hyped Punk vs. McMahon and Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio. JBL said it's like watching Babe Ruth take one more at-bat. Ross expressed concern over Vince's age. Ross said he was going to talk to Vince. Ross was shown walking up the ramp... [C]
Powell's POV: I love when WWE panics. This show has been really good so far. JBL is awesome on commentary. He did an excellent job of building up Barrett's physicality and it's just nice to hear a heel color commentator's perspective again. I doubt they are going in this direction, but they could do worse than a heel trio consisting of Show, Barrett, and Tensai.
Cole hyped a special edition of Larry King Now with The Miz as special guest for later in the show...
Backstage, A.J. and Punk spoke insider her office. Punk asked if A.J. has given any thought to him beating up an old man on her show. Punk said he's going to break his arm, his leg, and put him in a wheelchair. Punk said the Board of Directors will probably look for someone to blame and it's probably her.
A.J. said she knows Punk is too afraid to fight Cena, but she questioned whether he was afraid to face Mr. McMahon too. Punk said he's not, but said whatever happens is now on her head...
Cole and JBL spoke briefly at ringside and set up a recap of John Cena's appearance on the "Live with Kelly and Michael" show... [C]
[Q7] Antonio Cesaro made his entrance. Footage aired of Cesaro at a fast food restaurant complaining about America obesity...
4. Antonio Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd in a non-title match. Kidd got a flurry of offense and a two count, but he missed a springboard elbow drop. Cesaro hit the flying uppercut and finished him off with The Neutralizer...
Antonio Cesaro defeated Tyson Kidd in a non-title match in 3:50.
Powell's POV: It was nice to see Kidd get some offense. I wouldn't have thought much of his offense most weeks, but it stood out this time because of how dominant Cesaro was in his squash win over Brodus Clay last week. I'll bet there's never been a pro wrestling match in history that had so many viewers staring so intently at the nipples of a male wrestler.
Ring entrances for the tag match took place and highlights aired from last week of Dolph Ziggler walking out on C.M. Punk...
[Q8] 5. Daniel Bryan and Kane vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero) and Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) in a non-title match. Kane and Bryan got the better of Ziggler during the first few minutes of the match. Cole questioned whether Del Rio and Ziggler could get on the same page heading into the break. [C]
Powell's POV: JBL had some fun at Mil Mascaras's expense. He said Mil is the most egotistical, selfish human being who ever lived. He expressed thanks that Del Rio didn't get any of his uncle's bad traits. Cole tried to defend Mil, but JBL wouldn't have any of it.
An ad for Smackdown focussed on Big Show and Sheamus and didn't advertise any matches in particular. Back in the ring, the heels spent several minutes isolating Bryan while Kane waited for the hot tag. There were several tag teases, but the heels held him back repeatedly.
[Q9] At the top of the hour, Kane took the hot tag from Bryan as Cole reset the show on commentary. Dolph scored a near fall on Kane. A short time later, Kane went for a double chokeslam, but Dolph fought out of it and hit his finisher for a good near fall.
Later, Bryan tagged back in and caught Dolph with a kick to the head and then tagged in Kane, who performed the chokeslam and Ziggler for the win. After the match, Bryan and Kane did the "I'm the tag team champions" bit and bickered about which one of them was responsible for winning the match...
Daniel Bryan and Kane defeated Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio in 16:00.
Cole and JBL spoke about the main event and set up a replay of Punk slapping Vince and the match setup...
Backstage, Vince told Jim Ross that he appreciated his concern, but he wanted to know what he was trying to tell him. Ross recalled that after Raw went off the air, Vince called him an American icon and his friend. Ross said Vince had nothing to gain from facing Punk.
"To be honest with you, Vince, I can't help but remember what happened to The King after he fought C.M. Punk," Ross said. Vince said he recalls Ross calling Steve Austin's match. Vince asked him if he would call his match and replace the "Stone Cold" calls with "McMahon, McMahon, McMahon."
Vince got pissy and demanded that Ross do it now. Ross immediately complied, but then told Vince he still thinks he's making a mistake. Vince said he would quote one of the greatest superstars of all-time. "It doesn't matter what you think," Vince said... [C]
Powell's POV: Playing on the Jerry Lawler heart attack? Are you kidding me? How sleazy, desperate, and disgusting. I thought earlier tonight about the possibility of a heart attack angle, but I dismissed it quickly and never wrote about it because I didn't think they would go there. They may not go with a heart attack angle, but I did misjudge just how low Vince will go.
Cole and JBL spoke about Seven Summits For Kids and JBL's latest conquest. His next climb will be in Argentina in January...
Justin Roberts introduced Larry King, who was seated at a table on the stage with a microphone. He introduced his wife Dawn, who was seated at his side. The Miz's music interrupted King introducing him. Cole said King and Miz had a Twitter war last week. Miz noted that today is his birthday and he thinks it's time for King and his wife to lead the crowd in singing happy birthday to him.
King said he had it on good authority from his sources that nobody in the building cared that it was his birthday. King said he loves WWE. His wife said it's as big as it gets. "Oh, good ad-lib," King said. Ugh. King said he was replacing a boring guest with a good guest and introduced Kofi Kingston, who took a seat across from the Kings.
Kingston said he'd been doing media all day and the good word is that Raw is live in Sacramento, which drew a cheap pop. Miz called him on it and said he couldn't tell who is less relevant, a has-been talk show host or a never was superstar. Miz taunted King about his divorces and said he would divorce his head from his little body.
[Q10] King's wife stood up and threw a glass of water on Miz. Kingston attacked Miz and threw him off the stage. Kofi jumped onto Miz and then roughed him up as they headed backstage. King and his leather pants wearing wife stood up and took a bow for no good reason...
Powell's POV: That sucked, but if it leads to a Miz vs. Kingston singles match that doesn't involve R-Truth or Little Jimmy then it was totally worthwhile. Getting back to the McMahon and Ross segment, what was the point of having Vince bark orders to Ross? Aren't we supposed to see Vince as the babyface going into whatever he's doing with Punk? Maybe not. I guess we'll find out later.
Ross was back on commentary. The announcers spoke as footage from WWE 13 of Vince McMahon facing Mr. Mr. McMahon was shown... [C]
6. Santino Marella and Zack Ryder vs. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow in a tag tournament semifinal match. Late in the match, Santino got the better of Cody and pulled out The Cobra, but Sandow distracted him. Cody hit the CrossRhodes and scored the pin for his team. Yes, Sandow did a cartwheel after the match. Rhodes Scholars will face Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara in the finals next week.
Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow beat Santino Marella in 3:10 in a semifinal tag tournament match.
After Rhodes Scholars left the ring, Drew McIntyre, Heath Slater, and Jinder Mahal hit the ring and put the boots to Santino Marella...
Backstage, Paul Heyman approached Vince McMahon, who was dressed in his tank top. Heyman said he was there to apologize for Punk's actions and to say he didn't know Punk was going to slap him or challenge him to a fight. Heyman said he's the youngest guy in WWE who is old enough to know his father.
Heyman said he's known Vince for 14 years and begged him to allow him to broker the peace between Vince and Punk. Vince asked Heyman whether he knew when he was lying or telling the truth. Vince said he's been poisoning Punk's mind for years. Heyman said he's not there for Punk's sake, he's there for Vince. Heyman told Vince not to make Punk do to him what Brock Lesnar did to his son-in-law Triple H. Heyman left the room...
[Q11] A shot aired of a smiling Eve backstage as Ross hyped that Kaitlyn will be going after the Divas Championship next... [C]
Powell's POV: A good timely mention of Brock Lesnar for the first time in a while. Vince played it nicely by acting like that comment got to him.
7. Eve vs. Kaitlyn for the WWE Divas Championship. Layla was on commentary for the match. Kaitlyn got Eve in a torture rack, but Eve slipped out. Kaitlyn performed a backbreaker and then sold her knee injury. Eve worked over her knee and eventually made her tap out to a leg lock. Eve didn't let go, so Layla entered the ring. Eve acted concerned for Kaitlyn afterwards. Layla pushed her awkwardly. Eve left the ring...
Eve defeated Kaitlyn in 2:50.
Powell's POV: Insincere babyface Eve is a better babyface than Layla is when she's trying to be a real babyface.
Backstage, Josh Mathews popped out of nowhere and said he wanted to show Alberto Del Rio a tweet that involved him. Del Rio, who was with Ricardo Rodriguez, said he was busy. Mathews said the tweet was set by Randy Orton, who said he will be at Smackdown on Friday. Del Rio stormed off... [C]
Powell's POV: Did they make "12 Rounds" in two weeks? Don't get me wrong, that's probably the appropriate amount of time for a sequel to a movie that bombed in theaters, but I am surprised to see Orton back so soon.
[Q12] Justin Roberts asked the breast cancer survivors to stand up for a moment of recognition. Then he had the colon cancer survivor stand up and directed the crowd to throw rotten fruit at them. That last part didn't happen...
Backstage, Daniel Bryan asked Larry King (and his wife) if he remembered when David Letterman said he looked like an owl. He asked them for advice about everyone calling him goat face. Kane showed up and bickered with Bryan. King and his wife split. Bryan told Kane he scared off Larry King. Kane said he thought it was Skeletor...
Inside a locker room, Punk shadowboxed while Heyman fretted over what Vince was going to do to them. The lightbulb went on for Heyman, who said, "Unless, of course, you deliver to Vince McMahon such a beating that you render him helpless and hopeless, a senile old bastard that can never make another decision for the rest of his miserable life." Punk said he's going to victimize McMahon and enjoy every single second... [C]
Powell's POV: This would have been such a hot show if this were a two-hour show. They could have left most of the first hour as it was and simply inserted Punk vs. McMahon at the end of the show and I guarantee you those of us who watched the full show would have felt it was a stronger show than we will after sitting through the full three hours. This hasn't been a bad three-hour show, but it's just too much of a marathon to put the average viewer through. Yes, I know some of you can't get enough wrestling, but the ratings are proof that the move has been damaging.
A recap aired of the Punk and Vince segment from earlier in the show... Mr. McMahon made his entrance wearing his usual attire and MMA gloves. C.M. Punk ran out and attacked Vince from behind. Punk beat up Vince at ringside and threw a series of punches and knees. JBL said that's what you have to do to a man like Vince. JBL said it's a fight, not a match at this point.
Punk threw Vince inside the ring. Vince recovered and speared Punk. Vince threw a couple of punches at Punk, who quickly rolled him over and fired back. Vince rolled Punk over and fired a couple more shots. They got to their feet and Punk caught Vince with a kick to the head. Punk walked over Vince and then acted as if he was kicking dirt on him.
[Overrun] Punk threw McMahon to ringside and then slammed his head on the announcers' table. Punk grabbed Cole's head sets and put them on. "What a maneuver," Punk yelled before taking another shot at Vince. Punk put Vince in GTS position and then jawed at the announcers. Vince slipped out and shoved Punk into the ring post.
Vince threw Punk onto the announcers table. Punk slid across the table and fell to the floor. Vince grabbed a mic and said, "Now, I'm going to teach you something about respect." Vince slid over the announcers desk and slammed the mic onto Punk's head a few times. Vince then pushed one of the announcers' chairs into Punk before throwing him back inside the ring.
Vince, who had a cut below his left eye, pulled a kendo stick out from underneath the ring. Vince took a swing, but Punk bailed to ringside. Cole noted that Heyman appeared to be in disbelief at ringside. Punk looked to the crowd and held up his arms. Punk yelled to Heyman to bring him his championship. Vince left the ring and cut off Heyman. Vince slammed an awkward slap into Heyman's face.
Vince brought the WWE Championship in the ring and set it down in front of him. He motioned for Punk to enter the ring while a small "This is awesome" chant broke out. Punk tried to enter the ring, but ducked out when Vince took swings with the kendo stick.
Punk got a kendo stick of his own and entered the ring. Vince struck Punk with the stick repeatedly. Punk dropped his stick and then begged off in the corner. The crowd popped big and the camera shook (legit or a helpful cameraman?). Vince charged at Punk, who caught him with a low blow.
Punk picked up both sticks and hit Vince with them. Punk picked up Vince for the GTS. Before he could hit the move, Ryback's music played. Ryback headed to the ring and Punk squared off as if he was ready for him. Once Ryback entered the ring, Punk slipped out to ringside.
John Cena came out and threw Punk back inside the ring with his good arm. Ryback speared Punk and the crowd popped huge and the camera shook again. Ryback set up Punk for the Shell Shock finisher, but Punk slipped away and ran into the crowd.
Vince took the mic and said he hopes Punk learned a little something about respect. Vince said it was decision time for Punk. He could either face Ryback or face John Cena in Hell in a Cell. He said that if Punk doesn't make up his mind, he'll make it up for him. Punk looked anguished while clutching his title belt to his chest to close the show...
Powell's POV: A wild main event that was highly entertaining. I'm sure there will be plenty of bitching about the WWE Champion selling for a 65 year-old man. It worked for me in this case because Punk isn't cast as a monster heel who destroys his opponents, he's been more of a weasel. He can hang with the top wrestlers, but he cheats to win or keeps it in fluky ways (NOC main event). He's not a monster like Brock Lesnar, and one beatdown from Vince McMahon isn't going to change the way the fans look at him.
I also like the option that Vince gave Punk. I assume Punk will pick Cena because of his wounded elbow. That's a good way to make it seem like Punk is dodging Ryback without making it seem like Cena is inferior to Ryback. Overall, the show is still an hour too long, but they came out swinging after taking a pounding in the ratings last week and this turned out to be an entertaining broadcast.
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