2/11 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: The Rock and C.M. Punk deliver final hype for Elimination Chamber, Paul Heyman's announcement of a lifetime, Undertaker returning?
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Nashville, Tennessee at Bridgestone Arena
[Q1] The show opened with a narrated video recap and hype for The Rock and C.M. Punk six days before their rematch at Elimination Chamber... Michael Cole checked in on commentary (along with Jerry Lawler) and hyped that 13,607 fans were in attendance.
The crowd was booing and Paul Heyman was already standing in the ring. Heyman introduced himself and said this is not how he envisioned things going down, yet he felt compelled to do it. "Tonight is the last time you're ever going to see Paul Heyman," he said. "See that may make a lot of you happy. I can tell you that I may be a lot of things, but I will never in my life play the victim."
Heyman said he does everything in life with great passion and that passion usually ends up betraying him. "For seven and a half years of my life, I sacrificed everything," he said. "I gave up my personal life. I sacrificed my parents' fortune" to bring viewers the vision he had that was called ECW.
Heyman said he came to WWE and he saw the most physically gifted rookie in the history of the industry. He said he used his passion and his vision to turn that rookie into the man they know today as Brock Lesnar. Heyman said he then met a man he felt was the epitome of the business and the man he knew in his heart could top Bruno Sammartino's reign as WWE Champion.
"I saw a man who would carry WWE into the future, not just the short term future, but the long term future" in C.M. Punk. Heyman said he can see into the future and something really bad is going to happen. Heyman said Punk needs to be focussed and understand that he will once again become the WWE Champion. Heyman said he has become a distraction because the McMahons are so focussed against his sins.
"So that's why tonight, I'm tendering my resignation," Heyman said. He took aim at the live crowd and said you'd think that there wouldn't be a dry eye in the house when someone is pouring their heart out to them. He called the fans callous and said he has as much compassion for their pathetic lives and their problems as they do for him.
"The one thing I won't miss on Monday nights is the WWE Universe," he said. "Do you see what you drive me to? Are you proud of yourselves." Heyman said Punk needs to be focussed on becoming the WWE Champion and he won't stand in his way. Heyman said Punk is the best friend he's ever had in his life, he loves him, and he won't stand in his way. Heyman said he will celebrate Punk's 455th day as WWE Champion when he beats The Rock. Heyman looked up and said he was sorry. "I say goodbye," he concluded.
C.M. Punk's music played and he came to the ring. Without a mic in hand, Punk spoke to Heyman. Punk grabbed a mic and asked Heyman what he was doing. "I'm in your way," Heyman said. "Vince McMahon thinks that I arranged for The Shield to be paid off. I didn't and you know that, but that's his perception. Vince McMahon thinks that I paid for Brad Maddox to be paid off. I didn't and you know that, but that's his perception."
Heyman said Vince thinks he had something to do with Brock's actions. Punk interrupted and said he won't let him do this. He said the people look up to him and admire him just like he does. "There's a lot of Paul Heyman guys out there," Punk said. Heyman said that in McMahon Land, perception is reality. "If you thought what Vince did to you at the Royal Rumble was screwing you, just wait until you see what he does to us next." Heyman told Punk not to remember his as a martyr, but as a friend.
"No," Punk said. He said the bad dream they are living in now all goes back to normal at Elimination Chamber. Punk said he will beat The Rock and Paul Heyman will be in the corner of the reigning and defending WWE Champion for 455 days. Heyman said Punk is right. "And beat The Rock you shall," Heyman said. He added that he will be there on Sunday to witness the greatness happen before him.
Heyman said Punk is a gift from the heavens and will be the reigning and defending WWE Champion. Heyman dropped the mic and hugged Punk. He looked to the sky and said thank you, then repeatedly told Punk that he is the best in the world. Lawler checked in on commentary and said he thinks Heyman just tried to upstage The Pope...
A graphic touted that The Rock would appear live on Raw. A shot aired of Mark Henry and Lawler said he was up next... [C]
Powell's POV: Another excellent performance by Heyman. A compelling segment even if it doesn't go anywhere now that Heyman said he won't be leaving after all. They also planted the seed that the McMahons are out for revenge after what Lesnar did to Vince.
Highlights aired of Mark Henry roughing up Rey Mysterio on last week's Raw. Cole announced that Mysterio suffered an injury and was out of the Elimination Chamber. Highlights aired of Henry beating Randy Orton to earn a spot in the Elimination Chamber...
1. Mark Henry vs. The Great Khali (w/Natalya, Hornswoggle). Henry hoisted up Khali and put him away with the World's Strong's Slam. Henry left the ring. He returned and picked up Hornswoggle and put him down with the World's Strongest Slam. "That's what I do!" Henry yelled. A loud "one more time" chant broke out...
Mark Henry beat The Great Khali in 1:35.
A graphic touted Henry vs. Orton in a return match... The announcers hyped John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback vs. 3MB...
Powell's POV: Khali was also up for consideration for the Elimination Chamber match, so this may have been how they write him out of the match. I like the idea of Henry injuring potential opponents going into the match. Not as much as I love Henry destroying Hornswoggle, but I do like it. Henry has to be considered the strong favorite to win the Elimination Chamber match at this point. It's also good to see WWE advertising a match for Friday's Smackdown. It will be a loaded Smackdown with Rock, Punk, and Chris Jericho appearing as well. As always, we are looking for correspondents for Tuesday's taping. If you are going to Smackdown in Little Rock and want to help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Q3] Backstage, Booker T and Teddy Long were talking about Mark Henry when Chris Jericho approached them. He said he knows they are looking for former World Champions for the Elimination Chamber match. He said he is a six-time World Champion and he has been in more Elimination Chamber matches than anyone in history.
Long said he was all for the idea of Jericho entering the match. Booker cut him off and said everyone has to impress him and the WWE Universe. Long said he had an idea and whispered it to Booker, who told him his idea sucked. Booker put him in a match against Daniel Bryan. Jericho impersonated Booker while saying he would be the seven-time champion...
Vickie Guerrero was on the phone in her office when Paul Heyman knocked on the door. She told him she doesn't have time for his B.S. Heyman lobbied for Vickie to add a stipulation to the WWE Championship match at Elimination Chamber. She was reluctant to do it without Vince McMahon's approval.
Vickie took a phone call from Vince. Heyman wanted to talk to him. Vickie said Vince wanted to talk to him. Heyman said Lesnar was out of line. Vince told Heyman to shut up and told him to say what he has in mind for a stipulation. Heyman said Rock's ego is so big that he could try to keep the title by getting counted out or disqualified, so he wanted Rock to lose the title if he's counted out or disqualified.
Heyman told Vince he would do anything to get that stipulation added. Vince said he wanted that in writing. Heyman agreed. Vince said the stipulation would be added. Heyman tried to kiss Vince's ass by saying he's always looked at him as a father figure. Vince hung up...
Daniel Bryan made his entrance... [C]
Powell's POV: A good stipulation to add. Even casual viewers assume it will be Rock vs. Cena in a rematch at WrestleMania 29, so they need to give them some reason to believe Rock's title reign is in jeopardy on Sunday. Of course, it will be interesting to see what Vince forces Heyman to do in exchange for giving him the stipulation.
A Fandango vignette was shown. He danced with a brunette and said his name. The "go" in his name echoed...
2. Daniel Bryan vs. Chris Jericho. Booker and Long were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Jericho tried to springboard off the second rope over the top and onto Bryan on the ring apron, but Bryan moved. Bryan performed a fast suicide dive onto Jericho on the floor. Both men came up holding their knees as the show went to break.
[Q4] [C] Both wrestlers were in the ring after the break. There was a loud "Y2J" chant and Jericho cupped his ear. Later, Jericho avoided the No! Lock and Bryan avoided the Walls of Jericho. Bryan blasted Jericho with a kick and got a two count. Bryan yelled "No!" as he delivered repeated kicks to Jericho, who ducked one and rolled him up for a two count. Moments later, Jericho hit the Codebreaker for the win. Cole said Jericho will enter his record eighth Elimination Chamber match...
Chris Jericho beat Daniel Bryan to qualify for the Elimination Chamber in 10:45.
The announcers hyped The Shield with an in-ring address for later in the show, and said the Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback vs. 3MB match was up next... [C]
Powell's POV: Bryan worked a much more aggressive style than usual. He did the "No!" routine at times but he was much more serious and even had a darker look to him. I'm not sure whether this is strictly for the Elimination Chamber and the silliness returns afterward, but I hope the character is evolving and we get more of this Bryan going forward. The silliness has been a lot of fun at times, but this Bryan is just a blast to watch in the ring.
Highlights aired from last week of the Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback brawl with The Shield... Entrances for the six-man tag took place with all but Cena out before the top of the hour...
[Q5] Cena's entrance took place at the top of the hour...
3. John Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus vs. Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre, and Jinder Mahal. The squash match concluded with a simultaneous Shellshocked, Attitude Adjustment, and White Noise. Cena pinned Mahal.
John Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus beat Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre, and Jinder Mahal in 2:45.
After the match, Ryback said Sunday is the day he's been waiting for because he will feast on The Shield. Sheamus took the mic and said there's no reason why the three of them couldn't get some of their own justice during Raw. Cena took the mic and paused to acknowledge the many boos along with the high-pitched cheers.
Cena questioned why The Shield would enter the ring later in the show and leave themselves vulnerable. Cena said it's a bold choice, but it's a bold one. He said justice meets the law and delivered the "if you want some, come get some" line. Ryback led the crowd in a "Feed Me More" chant...
Cole and Lawler hyped The Shield appearing live and the six-man tag for Elimination Chamber. They set up footage from Smackdown of Big Show finding his tour bus wheels missing and having orange paint poured onto his head by Alberto Del Rio...
Footage aired from earlier in the day of Alex Riley telling Yoshi Tatsu that Big Show looked like the world's largest and fattest traffic cone. Show arrived and punched them both out... [C]
Powell's POV: They make Show look like a badass one day and then make him bad comedy fodder the next. Meanwhile, the anti-Cena sentiment seems to be growing again based on recent live crowd reactions. Of course, it's the usual dynamic with the adult males hating on him while the women and kids cheer him.
Big Show headed to the ring for an interview with Matt Striker. "Big Show, do you feel..." Striker asked. Big Show knocked out Striker before he could finish the question.
[Q6] Show picked up the mic. He looked intense and appeared to be on the verge of saying something a few times, but he always stopped short. Show dropped the mic and left the ring. Lawler assumed Show couldn't say anything that the censors would allow on the air...
At ringside, Cole and Lawler set up another airing of the Bruno Sammartino Hall of Fame video. It was greeted with a very light reaction by this live crowd.. Lawler hyped The Rock's appearance for later in the show... [C]
4. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) vs. Zack Ryder. Swagger took Ryder to ringside early on and performed a belly-to-belly suplex. Back inside the ring, Swagger continued the mauling and finished off Ryder with the Patriot Act
Jack Swagger beat Zack Ryder in 2:35.
[Q7] After the match, Swagger introduced Zeb Colter as a native and real American. Colter took the mic and asked what's wrong with America. He said he and Swagger know what's wrong, but most Americans have forgotten. He said he and Swagger's father were in Vietnam with bullets zinging over their heads.
"We were real Americans," he said. "And now I see a country that I don't even recognize. I see people with faces not like mine. I see people that I don't even know what they're saying. They can't even talk to me." He said he wonders where they came from and how they can get rid of them. He said it's the land of the free and the home of the brave, not to whoever wants to cross the borders...
Powell's POV: Dutch Mantell is back as Uncle Zebekiah. Well, kind of. The original version of the character was the manager for The Blu Brothers and Justin Hawk Bradshaw (a/k/a JBL). He was a member of the TNA creative team for many years. He's always been a hell of a talker. He joined us a couple times for Dot Net Members' audio and it's great to see him back on the big stage. I don't think anyone saw this coming. They are clearly setting up Swagger for a program with Alberto Del Rio based on that promo.
Backstage, Long told Booker he knows Zeb from way back in the day. Booker said adding Zeb makes Swagger unstoppable and now he's in the Elimination Chamber match. Dolph Ziggler, A.J., and Big E Langston showed up. Dolph wasn't happy that Jericho is in the Elimination Chamber match. Ziggler said he wants in the match to stop Jericho. Booker said there's another man who wants to impress him enough to get the final spot. Ziggler agreed and was then informed that he would be going against Kane...
The announcers said Jack Swagger is in the Elimination Chamber match and the final spot will be determined by Ziggler vs. Kane. They turned their focus to Brock Lesnar attacking The Miz...
The Miz made his entrance... [C] Cole hyped Chris Jericho hosting The Highlight Reel with special guest The Miz for WWE Main Event this week...
5. The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes. Antonio Cesaro sat in on commentary. Miz and Rhodes worked their way to ringside. Miz glared at Cesaro and eventually kicked him once Cesaro worked his way toward him. Cesaro recovered and ran Miz into the ring post. He picked up Miz in slingshot position and flung him into the guardrail repeatedly and left him lying...
The Miz beat Cody Rhodes by an apparent DQ in 3:05.
Powell's POV: A creatively vicious attack by Cesaro. The ring post shot looked and sounded good and then the repeated propelling of Miz into the rail drew gasps from the crowd each time Miz hit the rail.
[Q8] A WrestleMania reading challenge video aired... The announcers hyped upcoming segments for Raw... [C]
6. Tensai and Brodus Clay (w/Cameron, Naomi) vs. Primo and Epico (w/Rosa Mendes). Clay roughed up Epico and then Tensai checked in and performed a running senton splash. Afterward, Clay and his crew danced. Tensai tapped him on the shoulder and started to dance. Rosa stepped in and jawed at him until Cameron and Naomi teamed up to clear her from the ring. Tensai danced...
Tensai and Brodus Clay beat Primo and Epico in 1:10.
Powell's POV: Tensai's dancing wasn't so fun this week. They're trying to get his act over, yet they also picked this to be the week to have Cameron and Naomi show flash while disposing of Rosa.
Cole hyped The Shield's appearance for after the break... [C] The Shield made their way to the ring through the crowd.
[Q9] Once the trio entered the ring, Dean Ambrose too the mic and said they stand united with the purpose of shielding WWE from the type of atrocity that John Cena commits daily. Seth Rollins brought up Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus threatening them. He and said that when The Shield want to deliver a message, they do so through action.
Roman Reigns mocked the idea of the babyface trio threatening them. "Let's make it very simple, if you want us, come get us," he yelled. The camera cut to the stage but no one came out. Amrose said it was empty threats from an empty guy and three morally empty individuals. Reigns said they brought the entire roster last week and they could bring the entire world, but The Shield would still be standing.
Rollins said Cena failed last week and every day when he sits up and exists. He said Sunday at Elimination Chamber will be no different because Cena will fail again. Abrose said Cena fails to set examples and smiles his day away inside his little bubble. "In your world, there are no consequences," he said. Ambrose said that's not the real world.
Reigns said Cena has been the problem for the last decade. "We, The Shield, are the solution," Reigns said. Rollins said that whether it was Cena's intention or not, the example he set paved the way for guys like Sheamus and Ryback to believe in the system and to believe in him. He said they have a chance to rectify a decade of injustice in one fell swoop. Ambrose said they should breathe as much fresh air because The Shield will drown them. Reigns yelled "Believe in The Shield" and dropped his mic.
Ambrose said this was their last chance. "The Shield isn't going anywhere," he said. Lawler said he is surprised that no one has come out to confront them. The lights went out in the building. When the lights came on, Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus were in the ring brawling with The Shield. The babyface trio cleared The Shield from the ring.
Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback chased them to ringside and fought them into the crowd and eventually ran them off and celebrated with the fans...
Powell's POV: The good news is that WWE thinks highly enough of The Shield that they put them at the top of the hour. The bad news is that The Shield's promo didn't really connect. The live crowd was listening, yet they weren't reacting because there wasn't much for them to latch on to. It felt like a promo designed to get the fans who dislike Cena behind The Shield, but even they didn't seem to be reacting.
The announcers set up a recap of the Heyman and Punk segment that opened the show... A graphic touted The Rock for later in the show, and then Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez were shown with the Mexican bucket backstage. Lawler said Del Rio is up next... [C]
A graphic noted that the WWE app has been downloaded over four million times...
Powell's POV: That's great and all, but the free Prowrestling.net app has been downloaded 4,000,001 times. Okay, that's a lie. But it could be the truth if all of you download it tonight! Okay, even that's not true, but you should really download the free Prowrestling.net app. What are you waiting for?!? Oh, I'm sorry I don't have a video tutorial that shows you how to download apps.
[Q10] 6. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Damien Sandow in a non-title match. Sandow cut a great anti-country music promo prior to the match. Del Rio led the fans in chanting "Si" throughout his match, which he won with the Cross Arm Breaker.
Alberto Del Rio beat Damien Sandow by submission in 1:15.
After the match, Del Rio cut a promo saying he agrees with Show that the time for talking his over. He said once his match with Show is over Show could take his cruiser anywhere in the world, including Mexico. Del Rio said there's only one place he's going - WrestleMania...
Wade Barrett was shown walking backstage as the pre-commercial music played. Suddenly, Bo Dallas knocked him down with a shot. Dallas threw Barrett into metal stairs and casing and punched him until security broke them up. Cole said Barrett was supposed to be in action after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: Sandow is such a riot on the mic. He just has to have on-camera interaction with Bob Backlund during WrestleMania weekend. Ricardo is much easier to like than nice guy Del Rio at this point. Is it wrong that I could end up pulling for Team Cracker Power act over the pandering champion with the Mexican flag bucket?
Another Fandango vignette was shown...
7. Wade Barrett vs. Kofi Kingston in a non-title match. Video footage aired of Barrett beating Kingston to win the title. Cole said it was a renewal of a great rivalry. Kingston got plenty of offense early.
[Q11] Barrett dodged the Trouble in Paradise. Barrett pulled the ring apron over Kingston's head and blasted him with the Bull Hammer and pinned him. After the match, Barrett yelled for Bo Dallas...
Wade Barrett defeated Kofi Kingston in 3:05.
The announcers hyped Kane vs. Ziggler for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: We've reached the point in the night when the live crowd is officially burned out. Crowd usually come to life for Kingston regardless of how he's being used, but the fans sat on their hands during that match. By the way, Dot Net reader Ahmed is at the show and noted that they played up the Mark Henry attack by carrying Hornswoggle out of the ring on a stretcher earlier in the show.
The announcers hyped Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry for Smackdown...
8. Kane vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/AJ, Big E Langston) for a spot in the Elimination Chamber match. Booker and Long were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. After a couple minutes of action, Kane pressed Ziggler into the air and then teased the chokeslam. Ziggler rolled out of the ring heading into the break. [C]
Powell's POV: The break couldn't have come soon enough. Cole was just starting to tell viewers AJ told him earlier in the day that Beyonce and Jay-Z have nothing on her and Dolph, and that she thinks she will perform at the Super Bowl. As crazed as her character as been, that doesn't sound consistent with it in any way.
[Q12] After the break, Kane knocked Ziggler to ringside with an uppercut. Langston stood up and glared at Kane. Before they could go at it, Ziggler attacked Kane from behind. Later, Ziggler hit the Fameaser, but Kane kicked out of the pin attempt. Kane came back with a side slam for a two count.
Kane went to the top rope, but A.J. distracted him long enough for Dolph to avoid Kane's move. Ziggler bounced off the ropes and accidentally knocked A.J. off, but Langston caught her. Ziggler was distracted by AJ falling and then he walked into a chokeslam by Kane, who got the win...
Kane defeated Dolph Ziggler in 10:20 to earn a spot in the Elimination Chamber match.
The six entrants in the Elimination Chamber match are Kane, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, and Chris Jericho... [C]
Powell's POV: The crowd was slow to get into this match as well, but they did fire up a bit for some of the bigger spots late in the match. There were plenty of gasps whenever Ziggler would sell a big move. The Chamber match has the potential to be excellent. In fact, this is a really loaded Elimination Chamber pay-per-view lineup.
An Elimination Chamber video was shown...
The Rock made his entrance and said it's a special night because they are sold out and because he's been waiting to say "Finally, the Rock has come back to Nashville." Rock told a story about moving to Nashville when he was 15. He said he was already 6-4, 220 pounds and "kicked puberty's candy ass."
Rock said it didn't matter how big he was, he still didn't get any play from the girls at school. He said all the girls thought he was an undercover cop. He said he hung out in a bar up the road listening to country music with his friend Downtown Bruno. He said someone magical walked in one night.
"Not Jeff Jarrett," Rock said in response to a fan. Funny. He said not Willie Nelson, who he hoped. Rather, a crackhead walked into the bar and asked if anyone wanted to buy a car. He said everyone in the bar wisely ignored the crackhead but the 15 year-old Rock. He said it was a true story. Rock recalled paying $40 for the car.
Rock said he left the bar in his new car and heard something in the backseat. He discovered another crackhead. Rock said he then wondered whether the car was stolen, so he did the most mature thing he could have done at age 15. "I ditched that bitch in a Burger King parking lot and walked my ass right back to Tootsie's Lounge." Rock recalled taking control of his life at 25 years of age and working his first matches at the Nashville Fairgrounds, at flea markets, and car dealerships for forty bucks.
C.M. Punk's music interrupted. Punk and Heyman walked onto the stage. Rock said the last time he saw them they were reenacting a love scene from Twilight. Rock brought up the new stipulation and told him to "bring it." Rock noticed Punk smiling. Rock said he was going to beat his punk ass at Elimination Chamber, and threatened that if he walked down the ramp he would beat his ass all over Nashville.
Rock removed his shirt. Punk and Heyman headed down the ramp, but stopped just before the ringside mats. Heyman asked Punk what he thinks, then told he has his back. Punk turned toward the entrance, but then turned back and darted toward the ring. Punk caught Rock with several punches and shots to the ribs.
Rock came back and went for the People's Elbow, but Heyman tripped him. Punk performed the GTS on Rock and left him lying in the middle of the ring. Punk picked up the title belt and left the ring. Heyman yelled that the belt belongs to Punk. At the top of the ramp, Punk said story time was over. He said every time Rock wants to bring it because it belongs to him, he's just going to take it. Punk held the title belt above his head as Heyman heaped praise on him to close the show...
Powell's POV: I enjoy a comedic Rock promo as much as the next person, but why in the world couldn't we get another Rock and Punk verbal exchange? We've had a grand total of one true in-ring verbal exchange, which is the same number of Rock concerts we've seen during the build for their two matches. They put some heat on Punk, but I thought they might find a way to play up Rock being counted out as a reminder that he could drop the title that way.
Overall, this was another straight forward show with plenty of hype for the Elimination Chamber. It really dragged during the 30 minutes that led up to Rock appearing. The live crowd was noticeably drained even though the in-ring action was solid. Still, I like the serious tone we've seen lately. No Undertaker tonight. Maybe he's just a huge Nashville Predators fan. Okay, probably not. I'm sure there's more to the story of him appearing in the Raw host city last night than just watching a hockey game. It would have been odd for him to show up on the go-home show for Elimination Chamber. I'll have more to say in audio later tonight. Thanks for watching along with me.
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