11/12 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Jerry Lawler returns, C.M. Punk vs. John Cena in a non-title match, Ryback vs. Brad Maddox, fifth member of Mick Foley's team, final hype for Survivor Series
By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Columbus, Ohio at Nationwide Arena
[Q1] The show opened with a John Cena narrated video for Veteran's Day... A "previously on Raw" segment recapped recent storylines and previewed this show...
Randy Orton's music played and he headed to the ring as Michael Cole introduced the show on commentary along with Jim Ross. They hyped the C.M. Punk vs. John Cena main event...
Powell's POV: I assumed the show would open with the return of Jerry Lawler. It's a wise move to save it for later rather than give it away right off the top, though the announcers should be making a big fuss over Lawler's return.
1. Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler had the bulk of the early offense. Orton came back with a hanging DDT and then struck the Viper's Pose. Alberto Del Rio came out and stood on the ring apron. Orton went after him. Dolph went for his finisher, but Orton avoided it and rolled him up for the win.
Randy Orton defeated Dolph Ziggler in 3:20.
After the match, Ricardo Rodriguez jumped onto Orton's back. Del Rio and Ziggler joined the attack. Kofi Kingston ran out and helped Orton clear the heels from the ring. Teddy Long came out and said Vickie Guerrero was apparently busy with her investigation. He booked a tag match on the spot...
2. Randy Orton and Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez). They went to an early commercial break. [C]
[Q2] After the break, the heels were getting the better of Kingston. He made the hot tag to Orton at 6:30 just as Del Rio tagged in. Orton performed a power slam from an innovative position. Kofi tagged back in and hit Del Rio with a high cross body for a two count. He followed up with an SOS and had the three, but Ziggler broke it up (he was a bit late and the ref stopped counting).
Kingston set up for his finisher, but he was distracted by Ricardo. Del Rio hit his enzuigiri kick in the corner and then pinned Kingston...
Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler defeated Randy Orton and Kofi Kingston in 7:45.
The announcers hyped Jerry Lawler's return... Vickie Guerrero was shown walking backstage. Ross said they'd been told she has more evidence that she will share after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: Well, at least we made it through the match without Orton calling Kingston an idiot or whatever it was he called him when he got pissed off during a past match they had. The finish was built around the heels having momentum heading into Survivor Series, not around Del Rio being in line for an Intercontinental Title shot. I like the in-ring heavy start to the show. It was a nice change from the usual lengthy promo format.
Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero stood in the ring. Dolph boasted about wrestling two matches. He said he's not there to hide behind his former manager Vickie. He said it was about the truth and that can't be denied. They aired the shot of Cena and A.J. having dinner together. Ziggler mocked Cena for wearing his wrestling gear to dinner. They ran through all the usual footage.
Vickie took the mic and drew loud boos. She called for A.J. to join them in the ring. A.J. made her entrance and questioned why Vickie was doing this. She said Vickie cost her her job and has power. Vickie told A.J. to be careful what she says because none of it will matter once she discloses her evidence.
[Q3] Vickie looked at A.J. and said, "Be very careful of what I'm going to say to you." Oops. She told A.J. to admit she had an affair with John Cena. "I admit it," A.J. finally responded. "I admit the truth. John Cena and I are just friends." There was a mix of cheers and boos. A.J. said nothing inappropriate has ever happened between the two of them.
A.J. said Vickie is upset that she was named general manager at Raw 1000. A.J. said she's embarrassed Vickie in the ring twice and could do so again if she wanted to. She said Vickie is throwing her weight around. "And that weight is pretty considerable," A.J. said. Vickie said A.J. has caused a mess for herself.
Vickie said she had voicemails that would silence all of the non-believers. The first voice mail had A.J. saying she's conflicted and what happened the night before is a mistake. A.J. said it was her voice, but she didn't leave that voicemail. Vickie played a second message. A.J. said they have to stop doing it. She said she wants to stop, but when she sees him she loses control.
"How did you do that?" A.J. asked. Vickie cackled and then played another voice mail. "You drive me crazy," A.J. said in the voicemail. "We should be together." A.J. accused Vickie of hacking Cena's phone and editing those messages together. Ziggler said no more lies because the cat was out of the bag. Ziggler asked whether Cena not talking to her or all of the nights in his hotel room were more disappointing.
John Cena's entrance played and he headed to the ring. A.J. had to stop him from going after Ziggler. A.J. turned and struck Ziggler, then Cena followed up with a punch of his own. Cena's entrance music played to end the segment...
Powell's POV: A.J. has already lost her job. At this point, what damn difference does it make if those two slept together? They would be two consenting adults. It annoys me that Cena and A.J. don't just say that and move on with their lives.
The announcers spoke at ringside and set up a video for Afghanistan Veterans of America...
Backstage, Cena told A.J. that he's not sure why they are putting her through this. Cena said it's ridiculous because they are making her life miserable over something that didn't happen and never would happen. "But never would happen?" A.J. asked. Cena responded by saying, "Okay, over something that never happened." He awkwardly said he had to go and A.J. smiled like a lovestruck girl...
Powell's POV: The old "it's ridiculous" and then wait for the girl to show interest. It worked well in seventh grade. You've got some serious game, John Cena.
[Q4] 3. Big Show vs. William Regal. Show left some serious welts on Regal's chest with some slaps in the corner. Show put Regal away with a chokeslam. After the match, Show set up for a knockout punch, but Sheamus ran out and tackled him. Sheamus cleared Show from the ring... [C]
Big Show pinned William Regal in 1:40.
Powell's POV: I continue to hope that the Sheamus and Regal friendship is just a setup for Regal to turn on Sheamus and join the Wade Barrett act somewhere down the road.
4. Layla vs. Kaitlyn in a No. 1 contenders match. Eve was on commentary. She questioned why either woman would get another title match since she's beaten them both and proven her dominance. Good question. Kaitlyn caught Layla diving off the ropes and then performed an inverted DDT for the win...
Kaitlyn pinned Layla in 1:10 to earn a title match at Survivor Series.
The announcers set up a video that recapped the night Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack. They showed footage of EMT's treating Lawler at ringside briefly and then rushing him backstage. There were also multiple shots of Lawler on a stretcher and having CPR performed on him mixed in with Michael Cole's comments that were shown on Raw.
Powell's POV: I'm still turned off by WWE even filming that footage let alone airing it. It makes you wonder whether they have similar footage of Owen Hart. There are just some times in life when the cameras don't need to be rolling even in this reality television world.
Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler stood in the ring and spoke about Jerry Lawler collapsing on Raw nine weeks ago. Ross handled the introduction of Lawler, who received a great ovation from the crowd as he entered to his music while carrying his usual crown. Lawler slapped hands with fans at ringside and then joined his broadcast partners in the ring.
[Q5] Lawler entered the ring and gave Ross a big hug. He gave a long look at Cole and then hugged him as well. Ross handed the mic to Lawler and there were loud "Jerry" chants from the live crowd. Lawler said it was overwhelming and he can't express how much it means. He said there was a time when he felt like this might not be happening, so this was beyond words for him.
Lawler said he wasn't trying to get corny, but he recalled the classic movie "It's a Wonderful Life." He said the movie is about a man who didn't know how much his life meant to his family and friends until he had a near death experience. "I, in the past few weeks, have lived that movie," Lawler said. He thanked the fans and said it was great to be back.
C.M. Punk's entrance music played just as Lawler was wrapping up. Punk and Paul Heyman walked onto the stage as Lawler exited the ring. Cole complained about the disrespect that Punk was showing by ruining Lawler's moment. Once in the ring, Punk looked down at Lawler and laughed.
Punk said everyone boos him and cheer Lawler because he cheated death. Punk said Lawler's behavior is disrespectful and in bad taste. Punk said a 62 year-old man putting on his wrestling gear and trying to relive his glory days and thinking he could go toe to toe with the WWE Champion is disrespectful.
Punk said one of the side effects is having a heart attack. Punk scolded the fans for sending him nasty tweets for giving Lawler a heart attack. "Blame falls firmly on your shoulders, King," Punk said. He also boasted that he's been WWE Champion for 358 days. He said he recently tied Diesel for the ninth longest reign in WWE history.
Punk noted that day 365 of his reign will be Monday. He said he's glad The King is back because he'll have a front row seat to watch him beat Ryback and John Cena on Sunday. "Just try not to croak before the pay-per-view, okay?" Punk said. Lawler told him the only thing on life support is Punk's run as WWE Champion.
Punk said that if Lawler feels that strongly about it, he could get in the ring. Punk was distracted by Paul Heyman coughing. Heyman threw the belt down and fell to the mat clutching his chest. Punk held up an X symbol. Punk performed CPR on Heyman and called out, "Somebody help! Get the paramedics!"
Heyman smiled and sat up. "My God, Paul, you almost gave me a heart attack," Punk said. Mick Foley's music played and he came to the ring to confront Punk and Heyman. Foley said it never ceases to amaze him how someone who demands respect like Punk doesn't give it to someone who commands respect like Lawler.
"How about you respect Paul Heyman?" Punk mocked. "This man just had a heart attack and I brought him back to life." Punk questioned what Foley was doing since they are no longer captains of rival teams. Punk told him to worry more about the gaping hole on his team.
Foley said he's not worried about it because the fans will be picking the final member for him. Punk told him he shouldn't care about what the WWE Universe thinks because they can't think. Punk told him to rename his team Team Worthless. Foley eventually told him to shut up.
Foley got fired up while yelling that Jerry Lawler was dead. He said it's a miracle he's still with us. Foley said he was overseas fulfilling a commitment to the troops last week when he found out that Vince McMahon changed the Survivor Series match. He said he wasn't happy. Foley said John Cena and Ryback are going to take the title from him.
[Q6] Punk said none of it involves Foley at all. Foley said it actually does. He said he was informed that he will be the special guest enforcer of Punk's match against Cena later tonight...
A shot aired of Brad Maddox backstage. Cole said he documented every minute of his day as part of his question for fame...
Powell's POV: Goddamn! I didn't see that one coming. I was surprised when Punk's music hit and shocked by some of the things he said. I'm not complaining. Punk garnered mega heat and was on fire on the mic. I could have done without Heyman pretending to have a heart attack. Everything else was money. Punk was fantastic and Foley was great in defending Lawler.
Backstage, Punk was upset as he told Heyman to fix the situation with Foley as special enforcer and the Brad Maddox situation...
As entrances for the next match took place, Cole officially welcomed Lawler back to the broadcast table. Jim Ross was no longer at the table...
5. Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, Tyson Kidd, and Justin Gabriel vs. The Prime Time Players, Primo, and Epico (w/Rosa) in an eight-man tag match. Ricardo Rodriguez walked to ringside and handed a note to Rosa. Rosa's team wasn't pleased. Mysterio hit a move on one of the heels on the floor. All eight wrestlers squared off at ringside heading into the break. [C]
Powell's POV: Cena lets the girl express interest because he's too afraid to do so, and now Del Rio has his friend pass a note to the girl he likes. The only thing missing from my seventh grade "dating" life is a phone call that concludes with five minutes of "you hang up first" and "no, you hang up first."
After the break, the heels worked over Mysterio until he tagged in Kidd, who performed some fast paced offense on Darren Young. They lost the crowd quickly, but Kidd let out a primal scream to get them cheering again. There were a bunch of rapid fire spots that cleared everyone from the ring aside from the two legal men.
[Q7] Kidd got Young in position and then tagged in Mysterio for the 619. Mysterio tagged in Gabriel, who performed the 450 splash on Young and got the win for his team. Cole hyped how action packed the tag division is and spoke about how it's picking up...
Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, Tyson Kidd, and Justin Gabriel defeated The Prime Time Players, Primo, and Epico in 10:00.
Powell's POV: Raw needs more of this fast paced action. Of course, it would help if the majority of the guys involved in these matches were over. Mysterio and Sin Cara are over as a team, The Players are getting there, but the other teams are just kind of lost in the shuffle right now. Nevertheless, a good high energy tag match.
The camera showed military members in the crowd as Justin Roberts issued a thank you on behalf of WWE. The fans chanted USA...
Backstage, Brad Maddox was shown being filmed by his personal cameraman. Paul Heyman approached Maddox and asked the cameraman to turn the camera off. The cameraman obliged. Heyman asked Maddox to walk with him... [C]
Powell's POV: For the record, if I tried to tell my girlfriend "you hang up first" today, I doubt I could get the "You" out before I'd hear the click.
The latest Fandango video aired. It showed Johnny Curtis dancing with a woman and then delivering the "Do you mind if I cut in line"...
Powell's POV: They dropped the extra "O" from last week. Apparently, Johnny Curtis is no longer "opulent."
Backstage, The Miz was on the telephone telling someone that he will find a way to impact Survivor Series. Dolph Ziggler showed up and said he knew it was only a matter of time before Miz would show up begging to be part of his team. Miz mocked Ziggler for losing to Orton and getting slapped by a girl. They bickered.
Foley showed up and Ziggler mocked him for leaving his Survivor Series team in the hands of the fans. Foley challenged him to a preview tag match with Rhodes Scholars vs. Kane and the winner of the fan vote. Ziggler accepted. Miz lobbied Foley to put him on the ballot. Foley said he doesn't like his chances, but he added him anyway...
At ringside, Foley said Twitter followers could vote for Santino Marella, Zack Ryder, or The Miz...
Powell's POV: Or vote #noneoftheabove
Cole announced Antonio Cesaro vs. R-Truth for the U.S. Title at Survivor Series...
[Q8] R-Truth made his entrance for a match. Antonio Cesaro came out and said he can see through Truth's song and dance. He mocked Truth for speaking to a boy who doesn't exist. He said Truth is a once proud superstar who became a joke and compared it to how the United States was a proud country that became a joke... [C]
6. R-Truth vs. Tensai. The match was joined in progress. Cesaro sat in on commentary. The announcers mocked him for having a man purse. He said it's a satchel. Truth hit his finisher for the win. Cesaro started to cut another promo, but Truth cut him off and told a knock, knock joke. "Europe in my face right now," was the punchline. Truth said he's going to become a two-time U.S. Champion on Sunday...
A shot aired of Maddox being followed around by his personal cameraman...
Powell's POV: Satchel jokes? Hey, Vince McMahon finally saw The Hangover. That segment would have been so much better if Sakamoto would have had his ass handed to him afterward. I still miss you, Sakamoto. Meanwhile, Maddox's cameraman should be a regular part of his act. The current guy seems a little bland for the role. I'm thinking Ralphus 2012.
Highlights aired of Brad Maddox's promo from last week...
[Q9] Footage aired from earlier in the show of the Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler tearing into A.J. until John Cena came out. Footage aired of the Lawler, Punk, and Foley segment...
Brad Maddox was introduced. No music. An ambulance siren played and backed into the area where Alberto Del Rio's cars are normally parked. Cole said Maddox had a cameraman following him for a Youtube show that is documenting him... A Maddox popup box promo aired. He said people think he was delivering his final words but he wasn't. He said no one would forget his name after Raw...
7. Ryback vs. Brad Maddox. EMTs wheeled a stretcher to ringside just before the bell sounded. Maddox fled to ringside. Cole quickly noted that Maddox won't get his $1 million contract if he's counted out. He said Maddox was charging fans $10 for an autographed headshot and $20 for an action shot.
Ryback finally got his hands on Maddox about 100 seconds into the match. The fans counted along while Ryback picked up Maddox and dropped him on his back and head. "You're dead," Ryback told Maddox. He picked him up and delivered a power slam. The fans started a "Feed Me More" chant. Ryback clotheslined Maddox to the floor.
Ryback slammed Maddox down with three powerbombs. Ryback performed the Meathook Clothesline and finished off Maddox with Shellshocked. After the match, Maddox was placed on a stretcher. Ryback tipped over the the stretcher and threw Maddox into the guardrail.
Ryback clotheslined Maddox again and then yelled, "I hit hard!" Ryback picked up Maddox and carried him until slamming him into the ambulance. Ryback picked up Maddox and threw him inside the ambulance and closed the door...
Ryback pinned Brad Maddox in 5:30.
Powell's POV: The fans seemed mostly indifferent to Maddox. WWE could have put some heat on Maddox had they shown him doing everything Cole said he did. The good news is that Ryback was over big. I like the new touch of Ryback moving his arm to encourage the "Feed Me More" chants during his matches.
[Q10] [C] 8. Sheamus vs. David Otunga. William Regal, Michael McGillicutty, and Aksana were shown watching the match backstage. Sheamus performed White Noise and followed up with a Brogue Kick for the win.
Afterward, Sheamus said he hopes Big Show was watching because that's what's going to happen to him at Survivor Series when he takes back his World Hvt. Championship. The camera showed Big Show beating up William Regal backstage and dropping him with a knockout punch. Sheamus ran backstage to help... [C]
Sheamus pinned David Otunga in 2:35.
Powell's POV: They haven't done enough to establish the Sheamus and Regal friendship to make the average viewer care when Show beats up Regal. For that matter, they haven't positioned Regal as a likable enough character to make him seem sympathetic. I'm happy to see Regal back on television, but they really have rushed into this.
[Q11] Backstage, Josh Mathews said the early speculation was that Regal suffered a concussion (him and half the NFL quarterbacks on Sunday) and a broken jaw... A Wound Warriors Foundation video aired...
Backstage, Daniel Bryan was upset that Kane was teaming with another man. He turned his back while being passive aggressive. Kane was gone when he turned around. Bryan yelled "No! No! No!"...
Team Rhodes Scholars made their entrance. Cole noted that Kane and Bryan better get on the same page because they have to defend the tag titles on Main Event this week. Kane came out. The Miz received 60 percent of the fan vote, Ryder got 34 percent, and Santino received only six percent of the vote. Miz made his entrance. Daniel Bryan came out and plastered on a fake smile while shaking Miz's hand... [C]
9. The Miz and Kane (w/Daniel Bryan) vs. Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes. The match was joined in progress. Bryan sat on a chair next to Cole and Lawler and cheered for Kane and Miz in an over the top manner. A "Miz is awesome" chant broke out.
Late in the match, Bryan went after Miz, but Miz whipped him into Rhodes, which knocked Cody into the ring post. Miz threw Rhodes back inside the ring. Kane chokeslammed Rhodes for the win. Bryan entered the ring and raised Kane's arm and jumped up and down.. Miz held up Kane's other arm. Cole spoke over the whole thing by by talking about Tribute to the Troops...
Kane and The Miz defeated Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow.
[Q12] A Tribute to the Troops video aired... The announcers hyped Cena vs. Punk with Foley as the special enforcer... [C]
Powell's POV: Jealous Daniel Bryan is way over the top and yet so much fun. They picked the right state to go with Miz in this role given that he's from Ohio. It will be interesting to see whether they use him at the Smackdown tapings in Cleveland tomorrow night in an attempt to capture some hometown love on the go-home show. WWE hasn't done a good of making Punk vs. Cena feel important. Punk was focussed on Lawler and Foley, while Cena was focussed on Vickie, Dolph, and his junior high crush on A.J.
10. C.M. Punk (w/Paul Heyman) vs. John Cena in a non-title match with Mick Foley as special enforcer. There were loud "Cena Sucks" chants to counter the "Let's Go Cena" chants. They took a commercial break just over a minute into the match. [C] After the break, Punk took control of the offense. Heyman caressed the title belt while holding it in front of his face on the ring apron as he looked over the top of it to watch the match.
[Overrun] Punk cut off a brief Cena flurry and went for a top rope elbow drop. Cena rolled out of the way of the elbow. Foley pounded on the mat in support of Cena, who eventually went for an Attitude Adjustment that was shut down by Punk. Punk locked in an Anaconda Vice at 10:10. Cena backed up and put his foot on the ropes to break the hold.
Punk went for a springboard move. Cena avoided it and applied the STF after Punk crashed to the mat. Heyman entered the ring with the title belt. Cena released the hold. Foley took out Heyman. Punk caught Cena with a kick for a near fall. Punk went for the GTS, but Cena countered into the STF on the way down.
Punk crawled toward a corner and reached the ropes in front of Foley to break the hold. Really good drama with that submission attempt. Punk left the ring and started to walk toward the back, but Ryback walked out and kept him at ringside. Cena rolled Punk back inside the ring. Punk went for the GTS, but Cena avoided it and hit the Attitude Adjustment for the win...
John Cena pinned C.M. Punk in a non-title match in 13:20.
After the match, Ryback entered the ring and glared at Cena as the title belt was between them. Ryback nodded his head as the fans chanted Feed Me More. They both picked up the title belt simultaneously. Punk reached in, but dropped off the apron. Cena and Ryback dropped the belt and picked it up so that it was right side up. Punk stood on the apron so they could go off the air with a shot of Ryback and Cena pulling on opposite sides of the belt with Punk saying, "It's mine" in the background...
Powell's POV: A good television main event. It just didn't feel like the major event that it should whenever Punk and Cena have a singles match. It was pretty comical that Ryback and Cena had the belt upside down. Cena called the order to drop the belt and then said "Go" when it was time for them to pick it up again.
The return of Jerry Lawler felt so important when the night started, yet it felt like we were back to business as usual by the time the show was over. The Punk angle was good for serious heat, yet it also took away from the feel good nature of Lawler's return. One has to wonder whether WWE would have had Heyman fake a heart attack had this show been held prior Election Day. The final segment was clumsy, yet sent a final reminder of the Survivor Series main event. I'll have more to say about the show in audio and in Tuesday's WWE Raw Hitlist.
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