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10/15 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: C.M. Punk must choose whether to face Ryback or John Cena at Hell in a Cell, Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett, Miz TV with Kofi Kingston
By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Nashville, Tennessee at Bridgestone Arena
[Q1] Raw opened with the shaking camera footage of a kendo stick wielding Vince McMahon standing over C.M. Punk, who then low-blowed his boss. It also showed John Cena and Ryback showing up, and Vince announcing that Punk had to choose which man to face at Hell in a Cell. Yes, they left out the footage of Punk backhanding the fan...
The opening montage aired... Michael Cole and Jim Ross checked in on commentary and played up Punk's decision...
Big Show headed to the ring for a promo. Show recalled the debate that was held two weeks ago and claimed it was "a clever joke put together by Booker T and Sheamus to make me look foolish." Show said he wasn't the person who looked like a fool. Show aired footage from last week's Raw of him dumping Sheamus over the top rope.
Show said the look on Sheamus's face was the look of someone who was in over his head. Footage aired of Big Show taking part in the punching machine gimmick. Show asked if he had the attention of the fans now. He said he won't be punching a machine, he'll be punching Sheamus. He said he will KO Sheamus and become the new World Hvt. Champion.
Show complained about the 45 seconds bit and angrily called out Daniel Bryan. The fans fired up with "Yes!" chants. They cut backstage where Bryan, Kane, Zack Ryder, Santino Marella, Justin Gabriel, and Aksana were watching a backstage monitor. R-Truth told Little Jimmy to keep an eye on that.
Bryan was afraid of Show and said there was no way he was going out there. A.J. showed up and told him get out there. Bryan asked Kane if he had his back. Kane laughed at him. This led to Bryan yelling no, and the others yelling yes at him. Bryan made his entrance and the crowd was fired up...
Powell's POV: I really wish they would move on from the 45-second talk. Most fans had done so, but for some reason they want to remind viewers that their giant heel monster had a 45-second title reign as he's heads into a pay-per-view title match. Odd choice. I also wish they would never speak of the Show and Sheamus debate again, and they'd quit pretending that the Little Jimmy routine is comical.
1. Big Show vs. Daniel Bryan. Show roughed up Bryan when the bell sounded. Bryan fired back with some kicks. Show threw Bryan over the top rope just as he did Sheamus the week before. The show cut to commercial less than a minute into the match. [C]
[Q2] After the break, Show had control of the match with a bear hug. Bryan had a nice run of offense and went to the top rope, but he jumped into Show's hand. Show chokeslammed Bryan and pinned him clean...
Big Show defeated Daniel Bryan in 6:35.
After the match, Kane's music played and he headed to ringside. Show wound up his fist and acted like he was going to punch Bryan. Kane entered the ring and stood over Bryan. Show left the ring. Kane and Bryan bickered about something and concluded with the usual "Yes" and "No" exchange... Cole hyped Punk's decision... [C]
Powell's POV: It felt like they were trying to accomplish too many things. They wanted Show to look strong and they wanted to show that Kane and Bryan are starting to grow closer to one another even though they are not there yet. Their focus really should be on Show heading into his title match. Don't remind me that he had title reign that lasted less than a minute. Show him destroying people if you want fans to buy into him as a threat to Sheamus. This was just kind of a ho-hum segment. I assume Bryan will return the favor for Kane somehow later in the show.
After the break, Paul Heyman stood in the ring while holding the WWE Championship and had something covered on a stand behind him. Heyman noted that Punk has held the title for 330 consecutive days and introduced him. Punk came to the ring and brushed off the boos before he started his promo.
Punk said he proves people wrong and said he doesn't care whether it's Bret Hart, Jim Ross, or The Rock. He said if he is disrespected, he will put you down. He said last week was Vince McMahon's turn to find out why he's best in the world. Punk said the whole thing was sad. He said Vince wants to make it all about himself.
Punk recalled slapping Vince McMahon. He said he put up a fight, but he also said the fans can be comfortable in knowing that they will never see Vince in the ring again. Punk said he wanted to show everyone what Vince McMahon and people think of him by showing them the Hell in a Cell poster, which has him looking like the devil.
[Q3] Punk turned his attention to the decision of whether to face the one-armed man or the next big thing, as he noted Heyman would say. He turned to the covered stand and said he would unveil his opponent. Punk teased removing the cover, but he stopped and said the fans weren't patient enough.
Vince McMahon's music played and he walked onto the stage. Vince said he hoped Punk would have learned something last week. He said Punk blew it and now he will make the decision for him. Vince said there will be a contract signing later in the show and he will reveal Punk's opponent then...
Cole hyped a rematch between Sheamus and Wade Barrett for later in the show... A breast cancer video aired. It showed WWE Diva Layla talking about how she lost her mother to breast cancer... [C]
Powell's POV: I assumed Punk would choose Cena due to injury. Now I'm wondering if they are going in another direction because Cena isn't ready. Granted, they could just be milking out that same announcement, but it would be an odd choice for Vince to go with the injured wrestler. Meanwhile, the Layla video was very moving and you have to respect the way she shared her story to help raise awareness.
Alberto Del Rio made his entrance. Ross announced that it is official that Del Rio will face Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell...
2. Alberto Del Rio (Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Brodus Clay (w/Naomi, Cameron). Clay didn't get a televised entrance this week. Del Rio worked over Clay's shoulder consistently through the match. Clay had a hope spot, but he missed a splash in the corner. Del Rio applied the Cross Arm Breaker shortly thereafter and the the win...
Alberto Del Rio defeated Brodus Clay via submission in 2:10.
Powell's POV: The announcers did a good job of telling the story that Del Rio was targeting Clay's shoulder from the start of the match, and noting Del Rio's improved intensity.
[Q4] Backstage, Punk was upset because Vince was making the decision. Heyman said he tried to warn him about this last week. Punk told Heyman to tell McMahon that he will fight him again tonight...
Santino Marella and Zack Ryder made their entrance. Cole said Team CoBro would be in action after the break... [C]
3. Santino Marella and Zack Ryder vs. The Prime Time Players. The match was joined in progress. There was a good finishing sequence with Young hitting his finisher on Santino, Ryder performing the Rough Ryder Young, and O'Neil finishing off Ryder with his version of the powerbomb.
The Prime Time Players defeated Santino Marella and Zack Ryder in 1:15 of television time.
After the match, Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, and Drew McIntyre ran out and threw Ryder and Santino out of the ring. They said it was time to put music back into Music City. Slater said they were there to introduce Nashville to the 3MB. They danced to Slater's song... [C]
Powell's POV: Slater's act was fun. I have no idea what inspired creative to add two guys who don't fit the gimmick to the act. It's three Guitar Hero guitars away from being every bit as bad as the old Rock-n-Rave Infection gimmick from TNA. On a positive note, Young and O'Neil looked good in their limited television time.
An ad for Smackdown focussed on Sheamus and Big Show... The Punk and McMahon segment was recapped...
[Q5] Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero came out for a promo. Dolph scoffed at the notion that Ryback was under consideration for a title shot. He said he wants a match against Punk so that he can beat him and cash in his MITB contract and win the World Hvt. Championship on the same night.
David Otunga came out and said he deserves a title shot more than Ryback or Ziggler. Good lord. A.J. came out and booked them both in a handicap match against Ryback...
4. Ryback vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero) and David Otunga in a handicap match. The crowd chanted "Feed Me More" when the opening bell sounded. Ziggler caught Ryback with a dropkick, but then ate a clothesline and tagged out. Ryback performed an, um, atomic chinbreaker on Otunga. Ziggler thought about entering the ring, but he dropped off the apron and headed backstage with Vickie. Ryback hit Otunga with Shellshocked for the win...
Ryback defeated Dolph Ziggler and David Otunga in 1:50.
Powell's POV: Another live crowd responds very favorably to Ryback. I was worried they were going to have Ziggler on the receiving end of a double Shellshocked finisher, so I was happy to see him take a powder. I wonder if the next chapter is Ryback beating Ziggler in a singles match?
Backstage, Vince got off the phone when Paul Heyman entered the room. Vince insulted Heyman, who responded by calling Vince's performance Herculean. Heyman proposed a match between Vince and Punk for later in the show. If Punk wins then he gets to choose his HIAC opponent. Vince agreed, but then said the match would be with Heyman rather than Punk. "God, I love being me," Vince said after Heyman ran off...
Backstage, Matt Striker complained to A.J. about Daniel Bryan putting him in the No! Lock and Kane chokeslamming him. He said he was just looking for an apology. He started to say their actions were crazy, which of course led to A.J. taking offense. She said Striker deserves an apology and he should ask for one right after his match against Kane...
Powell's POV: Heyman and Striker in the ring? Is this screw the well spoken New York guys night? It was fun to see Vince back in the ring last week, but I can't say I'm anxious to see him back in the ring tonight. Granted, his past (and present?) relationship with Heyman makes it interesting. It's just that it feels like they are going back to Vince wrestling way too soon. Meanwhile, A.J. seems even less important in her GM role now that Vince is around. The bit with her overreacting to the word crazy wasn't funny in the first place.
Cole spoke as photos of John Cena appearing at Met Life Stadium as the honorary captain of the New York Jets on Sunday. The Monday Night Football theme song played and the photos included a shot of Cena with Tim Tebow...
Powell's POV: Who thought it was a good idea to play the Monday
Night Football theme song? Seriously, how many people used that as their cue to check the score and perhaps even stay with ESPN if they liked what they were seeing? I'm not naive enough to think that Raw viewers don't know Monday Night Football is on, but I wouldn't give them that reminder.
5. Antonio Cesaro vs. Justin Gabriel in a non-title match. Gabriel didn't get a televised entrance.
[Q6] Gabriel hit a 450 splash. Cesaro didn't take it well. He rolled on his side and Gabriel landed hard on Cesaro's side. Gabriel covered Cesaro, who put his foot on the bottom rope to break the count. Cesaro caught Gabriel springboarding and tagged him with the uppercut. Cesaro finished him off with the Neutralizer for the pin...
Antonio Cesaro defeated Justin Gabriel in 3:55.
The announcers hyped a contract signing between Punk and his HIAC opponent for later in the show... [C]
Powell's POV: Gabriel was holding his ribs after landing on Cesaro's side, but keep in mind that he always sells the effect of the 450 splash similar to the way Rob Van Dam sells his Five Star Frogsplash. In other words, I'm not sure whether he was really hurting or not. I'd like to see more from Cesaro and Gabriel. They could have a nice program together if creative gave them a chance.
Cole thanked Fozzy for supplying the official HIAC theme as the song "Sandpaper" played. There was no mention of the fact that Chris Jericho fronts the band...
Highlights aired from Smackdown and Kane and Bryan roughing up Striker...
6. Kane vs. Matt Striker. The bell rang, but Striker had a mic told Kane that they don't need to do this and he'd be fine with an apology. He told Kane to think of his therapy and questioned what Dr. Shelby would say. Striker said the fans want legitimate competition, not mindless carnage.
Kane called Striker over and hugged him. Kane wouldn't let him go. Kane chokeslammed Striker and pinned him. After the match, Kane took a mic and laid down next to Striker. He said he was wondering if he could get a word with him. He said it was a highly competitive match but a tough loss in the end. He asked how he was feeling. Striker was out. "I couldn't have said it better myself," Kane said...
Kane defeated Matt Striker in 1:55.
Powell's POV: The bit with Kane asking the questions that Striker usually does was good for a minor chuckle. Kane mocking Striker and Vince wrestling Heyman tells me Vince and/or the writers are having fun, but the problem is that they are laughing much harder than the viewers are.
[Q7] Cole hyped Eve vs. Layla for the Divas Championship for later in the show... Highlights aired of the segment with Larry King, his wife, The Miz, and Kofi Kingston last week... [C]
The Miz hosted Miz TV in the ring. "In case you've been living in a barn and I imagine you have because we are in Nashville," Miz said before noting that Kofi Kingston challenged him to a title match last week. Footage aired of Kingston roughing up Miz last week.
Miz said he'll carry Kingston like everyone else has during Kington's career. Kingston said it looked like Miz was the one who needed to be carried in the footage they showed. Miz said Kofi has been with WWE for five years and fans remember him best for saying Boom Boom Boom and being in a bunch of forgettable tag teams.
Miz asked Kingston if he has ever headlined WrestleMania or anything else. Miz said Kingston will always be a B player. Miz said Kingston will always put smiles on people's faces while he will be the guy they never forget. Miz asked Kingston for a comment. Kingston was speechless and wasn't all smiles for once.
"You're right," Kingston said. Kofi said he might have to add more memorable moments in his career starting with Wednesday when he takes the Intercontinental Title on the Main Event show. He said that will be must see. He said Miz has him so fired up that he wants to have a match with Miz during Raw.
Miz said they will have a match tonight and a title match on Wednesday. Miz said Kingston will do what he always does - choke. Miz said he's the superstar and Kingston is the novelty act. He said no one cares about Kingston and he'll only be the guy who says Boom, Boom, Boom. Kingston attacked Miz and cleared him from the ring. Cole said A.J. had confirmed that the non-title match will occur later in the show... [C]
Powell's POV: Miz was excellent in this segment and his comments hit home. Kofi flashed a good look while showing that Miz's comments got to him, but I was hoping his verbal response would have packed more of a punch. That's the promo that should change things for Kingston and hopefully we'll see a different Kofi in the weeks ahead. Winning the IC Title on Wednesday won't do the trick. He needs to drop the smiley faced routine and give the fans something they can actually connect with.
[Q8] A graphic boasted that WWE has more Twitter followers than TMZ, Nike, Coca-Cola, HBO, Under Armour, Disney, and McDonalds...
Powell's POV: Notice they did not list @prowrestlingnet on that list! Oh, um, never mind. By the way, why the hell would the masses follow Coke, Pepsi, or McDonalds? I'm sure we're all pretty sure we're all quite familiar with their products. Am I supposed to follow Under Armour for updates on the newest colors? In other words, what's so impressive about that?
Cole and Ross spoke about WWE's effort to help raise breast cancer awareness this month...
7. Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett in a non-title match. Sheamus took control of the offense at ringside at 3:40. Big Show's music played and he walked out with a chair in hand. "My God, with a chair," Ross exclaimed. The show cut to commercial. [C] After the break, Show was seated on the chair and watching the match from the stage.
[Q9] Both men traded offense and the live crowd was responsive whenever Sheamus had a run. Sheamus missed a Brogue Kick at 13:35 and then ran the ropes into a sidewalk slam that got Barrett a two count. Sheamus regained control of the match and Big Show came to ringside.
Sheamus set up for White Noise, but Barrett fought out of it with elbows. Barrett shoved Sheamus toward the ropes. Show pulled the ropes down and the referee called for the bell. Sheamus caught Barrett with a Brogue Kick after the match. Show entered the ring and was clotheslined back to ringside by Sheamus...
Sheamus defeated Wade Barrett by DQ in 15:15.
Powell's POV: I am leery about Sheamus facing Barrett on Raw two weeks in a row because it feels like they should be saving that matchup for when it's a featured program and not just setup for Show. However, it's possible there's a storyline reason such as creative attempting to subtly establish a Show and Barrett alliance. Even if that's not the case, Barrett is gaining in-ring credibility by having these back and forth battles with Sheamus.
Backstage, Vince McMahon was on the telephone and said he hadn't made up his mind. "Heads I win, tails I win, it doesn't matter to me," he said. John Cena entered the room and Vince asked him for his prognosis. Cena said it doesn't matter because he's not a doctor.
Cena said Vince probably ignored a doctor when he got in the ring with Punk last week. Cena said he's felt worse and he belongs out there. He said that if Vince needs him he will be there and he will do what he does...
Eve made her entrance for the Divas Championship match... [C]
Powell's POV: I'll do what I do? Shouldn't Cena be talking about how he wants and needs to get his hands on Punk and, more importantly, wants to regain the WWE Championship?
[Q10] 8. Eve vs. Layla for the WWE Divas Championship. A "This is awesome" chant broke out while Layla had a hold applied to a sprawled out Layla. Funny. Late in the match, Layla went to the second rope. Eve kicked her leg out from under her. Eve covered Layla, who got her foot on the rope. The referee counted the pin, and Eve kicked Layla's foot off the bottom rope. Layla sat on the floor and looked upset by her loss...
Eve defeated Layla to retain the WWE Divas Championship in 3:40.
Powell's POV: It was fine for what it was, but the Diva matches just don't get reactions from the live crowd these days.
A video aired with Stephanie McMahon and others discussing the Social Good Summit... The announcers hyped the contract signing...
Powell's POV: They're not talking about the Vince vs. Heyman match and they haven't shown Vince getting ready backstage, so I'm assume it was a threat that Vince used to scare off Heyman.
Cole said they will have more info on WrestleMania 29 tickets going on sale next week on Raw...
Backstage, Kane asked Daniel Bryan if he saw what he did to Matt Striker. Bryan was upset because Kane laughed at him earlier. They argued about whether it was funny and it broke down into the usual "yes" and "no" shouting match. Bryan stopped the yelling and said he had a grand idea. He said Kane should face Show next week. Bryan yelled he's the tag team champions and walked away...
Backstage, Vince McMahon thanked Ryback for helping him out next week. Ryback stood and stared intently away from Vince, while McMahon spoke about how people are saying Ryback is cold, ruthless, and coldhearted. He asked Ryback what he thinks. Ryback looked at Vince and said, "Feed me Punk," and then left the room. Vince said he would take that under consideration...
Powell's POV: The crowd started a Feed Me More than stepped on Ryback's only line.
Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow made their entrance. Cole said the tag tournament finals were supposed to take place this week, but Rey Mysterio has "a touch of the flu" so they pushed the finals back to next week...
Powell's POV: It must be more than a touch of the flu since Brodus Clay filled in for Mysterio on the house shows over the weekend. Remember this moment the next time a heel insists a match must go on despite the babyface being injured.
[Q11] [C] 3MB were shown taking the stage at a Nashville bar. They were about to perform with a bouncer showed up and threatened to handcuff them...
Powell's POV: Make it stop!
9. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow vs. Primo and Epico (w/Rosa). Ross put over Rhodes and Sandow by saying they've come together as the most cohesive throughout the tournament. Sandow hit his finisher on Epico for the win...
Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow beat Epico and Primo in 6:50.
Powell's POV: Television filler. Viewers had no incentive to root for Primo and Epico aside from the fact that they were in the ring with a heel team. The live crowd didn't play along by not cheering or booing either team. I can only imagine what the television ratings will be. This has been a dull and uneventful show. By the way, to all the readers pointing out that they played Nickelback song that was used for Raw, please note that it's a mainstream song that's played on the radio every day. I appreciate everyone taking the time to pass along things like that, but please note that it is not a Raw specific song.
[Q12] 10. The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston in a non-title match. Ross and Cole spent time discussing what Miz had to say about Kingston during Miz TV. Ross said Miz has been to the dance and Kofi needs to steal his success. Kingston caught Miz with a Trouble in Paradise kick and scored the clean pin...
Kofi Kingston defeated The Miz in a non-title match in 5:20.
A shot aired of Vince McMahon walking backstage as the announcers hyped that he would reveal Punk's opponent for Hell in a Cell after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: Kingston blasted Miz with that kick. This was the night to make it look especially good, but not at the risk of injuring another wrestler, especially one that has already suffered at least one concussion. The kick opened a small cut on Miz's head and trainers were tending to him afterward. Miz looked out of it and may have been, though I can't rule out the possibility that he was selling for Kingston. WWE had to call off the tag tournament finals. If Miz is concussed, they may have to come up with a new main event for Wednesday's ION Network show.
Cole hyped that WWE is distributing the Rolling Stones "One More Shot" pay-per-view in December...
Mr. McMahon made his entrance. Ross slipped up by asking who will be John Cena's opponent, but he quickly corrected himself.
Powell's POV: Fortunately for Ross, the guy who would have yelled at him through the headsets was walking to the ring at the time he made his mistake.
[Overrun] Vince entered the ring where a table was set up for the contract signing. Vince said he had the HIAC contract in his hand. He called out C.M. Punk, who was accompanied by Paul Heyman. Once inside the ring, Punk glared at Vince. McMahon introduced Ryback, who didn't get a big reaction this time around. Ryback and Punk stared at one another.
Vince introduced John Cena, who got the big pop while making his first appearance of the night in front of the live crowd. Cena shook his arm and indicated it was feeling a little better. He didn't have the black tape he wore last week and he saluted with the surgically repaired arm before running to the ring. "It's all about the WWE Title, as it should be," Ross said. Amen to that line.
Vince said Punk didn't have the grapefruits to make up his own mind so he was making it up for him. Punk cut off Vince and referred to him as an egomaniac. He said he knocked a couple of screws last week and Vince went off the deep end. Punk signed the contract and said Vince was going to do whatever he wants to do, so he will face either one of the possible opponents and do to that person what he did to Vince last week.
Punk said he's not surprised that Vince has Cena's back because they are both insecure egomaniacs. "Enough!" Cena yelled. Cena said he respects that Punk has been champion for 330 days, but he needs to shut the hell up. "We all need to shut up and get this over with," Vince said.
Cena interrupted Vince and said he would love to go to Hell in a Cell and face Punk for the WWE Championship. He said he looks at Ryback and questioned whether he cares about the WWE Championship because all he seems to care about is kicking ass and Punk needs to get his ass kicked.
Cena said Punk won't get much sleep because his brain will be filled with three simple words. "Feed me more," Cena said repeatedly while encouraging the fans to chant along with him. Cena left the ring. Ryback walked up to the table and signed the contract. Vince said it's official, Punk will defend the WWE Championship inside Hell in a Cell against Ryback.
Vince left the ring, leaving Ryback and Punk to stare at one another while Heyman stood in the corner and the fans chanted Feed Me More. Punk and Ryback took a step forward and stood on opposite sides of the table. Punk mouthed off. Ryback grabbed Punk's head and slammed it onto the table. Ryback fired up the Feed Me More chant and then Shellshocked Punk as Ross and Cole sold match to close the show...
Powell's POV: Cena's elbow looked much better this week, but that doesn't mean he's physically able to wrestle yet. I'm not sure how much that played into the decision to go with Ryback, but I liked the way Cena endorsed Ryback, which should get his fans onboard with the move. The final segment was solid, though Vince McMahon didn't bring his A-game tonight and seemed to be going through the motions.
The final segment was one of the few highlights of the show and that's coming from someone who isn't sold on the idea of Ryback challenging Punk so soon. I would have dragged it out longer to build interest, and it's bizarre that their first televised match will be held inside Hell in a Cell. There wasn't much else memorable about this show unless you count Kofi's kick knocking Miz into next week and a competitive match involving Sheamus and Barrett. I really hope USA Network or WWE officials come to their senses and realize that three hours is just too much television time for WWE to fill every Monday night. Thanks for watching along with me. I'll be back on Tuesday with the WWE Raw Hitlist.
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