2/25 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: John Cena vs. C.M. Punk for a title shot at WrestleMania 29, Vince McMahon fights Paul Heyman, Donald Trump WWE Hall of Fame announcement
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Dallas, Texas at American Airlines Arena
[Q1] Raw opened with a recap from last week and questioned whether C.M. Punk or John Cena will go on to face The Rock at WrestleMania 29... Ring announcer Justin Roberts introduced Vince McMahon, who hobbled out on crutches while wearing a suit. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler checked in on commentary. The announcers spoke at ringside and Vince's music started up again.
Vince smiled in the ring and said everyone knows he likes to kick things off in a big way, especially since they are getting closer to WrestleMania. Vince said what better way than to kick it off with a fight. He said he's only three weeks removed from total hip replacement surgery. "Give it up for the ultimate fighter, Paul Heyman," Vince said.
Heyman walked onto the stage wearing a jogging suit. Heyman walked out with a mic and hand and said Vince is ever the showman. He assured Vince that he is all man. "You have as much of a chance against me as Tony Romo does in leading the Cowboys to the Super Bowl," Heyman said. "If you think I'm going to take it easy on you, you are out of your mind."
Heyman said Vince ran every promoter, including him, out of business. He said he watched Vince take on the United States government and win. He said tonight Paul Heyman is coming at him. Once in the ring, Heyman said he wanted to say something straight to Vince's face.
Heyman tackled Vince. He picked up one of the crutches and slammed it onto Vince's backside. Heyman waited for Vince to get up and then took another swing. Vince caught the crutch. Vince dished out a crutch shot of his own.
Brock Lesnar's music played. Lesnar walked onto the stage and glared at McMahon, who stopped in his tracks. Lawler reminded viewers that Lesnar was responsible for Vince's hip surgery via the F5. Cole said Vince couldn't get away because he could barely make it around the ring due to his condition. Lesnar entered the ring and struck a fighter's pose.
Triple H's music played. Vince left the ring and Lesnar turned his attention to the stage. "Is it him?" Cole asked. "It is, yes, The Game, Triple H!" Hunter walked onto the stage wearing a leather jacket and stood in the fog/smoke and poured water of his head. Hunter headed to the ring dressed in a t-shirt and jeans and with his shorter hair.
Lesnar left the ring and met Hunter at ringside. Hunter charged at him and they ended up on the ground. They both got back to their feet and Lesnar caught Hunter with a knee. Hunter came back by ramming Lesnar into the ring post. Lesnar hit hard and blood poured out immediately. Hunter picked him up and rammed him into the post again. Hunter clotheslined Lesnar into the timekeeper's area.
Triple H picked up a crutch, but Lesnar recovered and caught him with a knee. Brock picked up Hunter and slammed him onto the announcers' table, but it did not break. Brock rolled Triple H inside the ring and picked up the crutch. Brock threw the crutch aggressively near the timekeeper's area and off-camera.
Brock pulled a chair out from underneath the ring and brought it inside the ring. Triple H recovered and caught Lesnar with a spinebuster. Triple H played to the crowd, grabbed the chair, and slammed it over Brock's back. Lesnar tumbled to ringside. Triple H's music played as he called for Lesnar to "come on." Brock checked the cut on his head as Hunter continued to call for him. Lesnar looked back at Triple H and smiled at him...
The announcers hyped MizTV with Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger. A shot aired of Ryback walking backstage and the announcers said he would face Dolph Ziggler after the break...
Powell's POV: A red hot start to the show. That was great. Heyman's promo was fun and his "fight" with Vince was short and sweet. The crowd was hot for Brock and especially Triple H's entrance. The brawl was intense and the blood certainly added to it. An intense and memorable brawl.
[Q2] [C] The announcers recapped the opening segment as highlights were shown...
1. Ryback vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/AJ, Big E Langston). Cole said 17,131 fans were in attendance. There was a loud Goldberg chant at 2:40 and then the crowd got really quiet for a moment. Ryback dumped Ziggler to ringside heading into the break. [C]
After the break, Ryback had Ziggler up in suplex position and held him there before eventually performing the move. "This has been all Ryback for the majority of this match," Cole said. Langston caught Ryback with a clothesline at ringside, which put Ziggler in the driver's seat.
[Q3] Ryback fired back and was in control when AJ stood on the ring apron and distracted the referee. Langston tried to interfere, but Ryback knocked him off the ring apron. Ryback hit Shellshocked on Ziggler and got the win...
Ryback defeated Dolph Ziggler in 11:10.
Powell's POV: Ziggler went above and beyond with his selling to make Ryback look better than ever. The outcome of the match was never in doubt since we've seen Ziggler lose so often, but it was still entertaining. I wonder if Ziggler losing now plays into a future storyline since as AJ becoming a ball buster and telling him he needs to start winning or else.
Cole set up a preview of the movie "The Call" starring David Otunga and Halle Berry. Yes, he said their names in that order...
C.M. Punk made his entrance. Cole questioned whether Punk will go on to challenge The Rock at WrestleMania and then said viewers would hear from Punk after the break... [C] Highlights aired from the Punk and Cena angle from last week...
In the ring, Punk told viewers that tonight is a night that people will talk to their grandchildren about. Punk said viewers will witness the end as well as the beginning. He said people would have you believe that this is about an epic match between he and Cena. He said it is an epic night, but it's not about Cena or The Rock.
Punk said he could point to the WrestleMania sign (as he did) because the winner goes on to WrestleMania, but the night isn't about WrestleMania. Punk said the night obviously isn't about the people. Punk said it isn't even about the WWE Championship. He said the night is about something more important than all of that - it's about the future. "Tonight is about me," Punk said.
Punk said the night is about him taking his place at the showcase of the immortals in the main event of WrestleMania. Punk said he's held the WWE Championship longer than anyone in decades. He said he is the best in the world and he has earned the right to go on to WrestleMania and main event. "I am an icon among superstars," he said. Punk said he is immortal and is the greatest of all time. "The legend, the greatest, the best, the greatest and in this world that you all inhabit, I am God." Punk left the ring...
Powell's POV: All the greatest of all time and icon talk builds up his match with Cena nicely and could certainly set up a match with Undertaker.
[Q4] Cole and Lawler set up a video that introduced Donald Trump as the newest member of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013... Separate shots aired of The Great Khali and Mark Henry. Cole said they would meet in the ring after the break...
Powell's POV: Congrats to Trump on being the next guy inserted into the "I can't believe (fill in the blank) is in the WWE Hall of Fame before Randy Savage" emails that are sure to fill my inbox. Meanwhile, many viewers are breathing a sigh of relief over the Henry vs. Khali match taking place on Raw rather than at WrestleMania 29.
2. The Great Khali vs. Mark Henry. Henry ran into Khali's boot to start the match. Slaps, headbutts, and chops followed. Henry rolled to ringside and Khali followed. Henry got the advantage and took it back inside the ring, where Henry performed the World's Strongest Slam for the win...
Mark Henry beat The Great Khali in 1:25.
Cole set up footage for "The Marine 3: Homefront" featuring The Miz. It comes out on DVD next week... The Miz made his entrance for the MizTV segment... [C]
Powell's POV: The match and the movie pitch were both quick. Cole and Lawler spoke over highlights from a fighting scene in the movie rather than subject viewers to a second trailer in the same show.
[Q5] The latest vignette aired for Fandango and announced that he will debut on Friday's Smackdown television show...
The Miz stood in the ring with Alberto Del Rio, Ricardo Rodriguez, Jack Swagger, and Zeb Colter. Miz seemed to be having mic issues because there was a long pause. He eventually introduced all four men, who were standing in front of the couches and chairs that make up the Miz TV set and rarely get used. Miz invited Colter to speak his mind to Del Rio.
Colter said he wanted to speak to Glenn Beck, but he would be happy to speak with Mr. Del Rio instead. There were like four people booing at the mention of Beck. Colter said there are over 11 million undocumented and illegal workers in the United States. He said there's a push to give those workers a pass and put them on the path to citizenship. "You and your people drain us," Colter said to Del Rio.
Miz turned things over to Del Rio and asked him how hard it is to gain citizenship in Mexico. Colter tried to interrupt. Miz told him it was Del Rio's turn. Del Rio said to go ahead and let him talk. Colter asked Del Rio what he's afraid of. "What is wrong with you, what is wrong with your people?" Colter said.
"Don't disrespect my people," Del Rio said. Colter said that when he talks, Del Rio listens. Colter said it's not personal. "What it is is what you represent," he said. Colter said Del Rio represents success and the American Dream and encourage millions of illegals to sneak across the borders in search of the dream. Colter said there's only one Del Rio success story for all the millions who fail. Colter said people who stay in the country illegally are criminals.
Del Rio tried to speak, but Colter said he wasn't finished. Del Rio stood his ground and said the United States is the greatest country on earth because everyone is equal. Del Rio said that if you work hard in America then everything is possible. Del Rio said he is living proof of that. Del Rio said he didn't anything about Colter a couple weeks ago. He said he had heard about people like him but didn't know any. He said now he has and he wishes he had not.
Del Rio said he doesn't like bullies. Del Rio challenged him to make him and Del Rio leave "right now." Swagger took the mic and said, "We will see you at WrestleMania. We the people." Swagger threw the mic down and then he and Colter left the ring... [C] An ad aired for next week's Raw being and Old School edition...
Powell's POV: Swing and a miss. Colter is very one dimensional even though he's very good in his role. The problem isn't his one dimensional character, it's that Del Rio bombed in his response. He should be delivering spirited and charismatic rebuttals, but instead he's spitting out cliche lines that no one is connecting with. I know they want Del Rio to get over with everyone, but I would have avoided having him label the United States as the greatest country in the world if his initial target audience is the Hispanic crowd.
Highlights aired from during the break of Colter confronting The Miz on the stage and complaining that he was biased during the debate. Swagger attacked Miz from behind and then yelled, "We the people"...
Powell's POV: Miz had zero control over the debate, making him a logical moderator candidate for the next round of U.S. Presidential debates.
[Q6] 3. Antonio Cesaro vs. Randy Orton in a non-title match. Cole and Lawler spoke about the social media whatever edition of Smackdown and noted they would both be there. "You've been watching it, right?" Cole asked. Lawler lied through his teeth by saying, "Of course." Cesaro went for a move off the second rope, but Orton caught him with the RKO for the win...
Randy Orton defeated Antonio Cesaro in a non-title match in 3:00.
Powell's POV: Another week of Randy Orton beating a secondary title holder in a non-title match and showing zero interest in going after the title. Same old, same old.
Backstage, Kane and Daniel Bryan bickered about being able to beat their opponents without help from the other. Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox showed up. Vickie started talking, but Maddox talked over her. Vickie eventually said they will face The Prime Time Players and Bryan will be blindfolded and Kane will have one arm tied behind his back, which was based on what they said while boasting...
Cole set up the old WWE Oscar movie parody from WrestleMania 21 with John Cena and JBL doing their version of "A Few Good Men"... The announcers hyped Sheamus commenting on an Oscar snub... [C]
Powell's POV: Is this one of those great things that WWE is able to do because of the three-hour format? Ugh. Actually, watching old WWE parody movie trailers beats watching the trailers of actual WWE Studios movies.
The announcers hyped Miz vs. Swagger for later in the show... They recapped the opening segment briefly and then asked viewers to tweet about it...
[Q7] Sheamus walked to the ring dressed in a suit. Cole said Sheamus is very upset about what happened at the Oscars. Lawler said he thinks he would have been a better host than Seth MacFarlane. Um, sure. Sheamus stood behind a podium that was set up inside the ring and said the academy overlooked Wade Barrett. He set up a clip of the movie "Dead Man Down" that Barrett has a part in.
Sheamus showed another clip from the movie and had them focus on Barrett appearing in the background behind star Colin Farrell. He did get a few laughs for saying Barrett looked out of focus.
Wade Barrett's music interrupted Sheamus. Barrett said the Irish love the color green. He said Sheamus could make jokes and the idiots would laugh it up, but it doesn't hide the fact that Sheamus is jealous of him. Barrett said he's going to become a global movie star and he wouldn't need a fake red carpet like they had in the ring. He said he would have the real thing when he attends the world premiere of the move tomorrow.
Sheamus told Barrett to make sure the paparazzi gets his good side. On second thought, he said that based on Barrett's nose he doesn't think he has a good side. Barrett charged, Sheamus missed a Brogue Kick, the misery ended... [C]
Powell's POV: Why in the hell does Sheamus even care about Barrett's movie role. Why isn't Sheamus going after David Otunga for his apparent lack of importance in "The Call" based on the trailer? Wait, why is this even happening? Why are there all these goddamn movie trailers tonight? Why, oh why is Raw three hours long?
4. R-Truth vs. Cody Rhodes. Damien Sandow sat in on commentary. He acted disgusted by Truth's dancing. Cole labeled Sandow and Cody's friendship as a bromance. Sandow said he had no idea what that meant. Late in the match, Cody ran into R-Truth's finisher and was pinned. Sandow hit the ring and Truth cleared him quickly...
R-Truth pinned Cody Rhodes in 2:20.
[Q8] The announcers set up footage of the Colter and Swagger videos from Youtube...
Powell's POV: Colter and Swagger still don't like illegal immigrants. In related news, WWE issued a press release about their inability to get Glenn Beck to comment despite sending a camera crew to his studio. You can read the press release on the main page.
5. Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. The Prime Time Players. Kane had one arm tied behind his back and Bryan wore a black hood rather than a blindfold. He tried to apply a move on the referee because he couldn't see. Titus O'Neil and Darren Young blew whistles because they are apparently dumb. Bryan eventually stumbled toward his corner and Kane tagged himself in. Kane beat up both Players with one arm and chokeslammed Young for the win... [C]
Kane and Daniel Bryan beat The Prime Time Players in 3:35.
Powell's POV: Remember that renewed emphasis on the tag team division? Um, sure. Bryan had a couple of comical moments while blinded. Kane made the Players look comical by squashing them with one arm tied behind his back. Two muscular men with whistles and a smaller blindfolded guy? There's a really bad gym class joke in there somewhere.
[Q9] Highlights aired of the opening segment involving Heyman, Vince, Lesnar, and Triple H...
The Shield came to the ring and cut a promo. Someone was nice enough to put giant monitors in the ring for the invading faction. Dean Ambrose said things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. Roman Reigns said they could stack the odds against them and they would still win every time.
Seth Rollins spoke about their victories and said they even managed to solve the John Cena problem by beating the team of superheroes at Royal Rumble. Sheamus came out and challenged the trio to come fight him. Ambrose and Reigns started to make their way out of the ring. Randy Orton snuck inside the ring and tapped Rollins on the shoulder and then dropped him with the RKO...
The announcers hyped the main event and said Miz vs. Swagger was up next... [C]
Powell's POV: Did Sheamus change into his ring gear just for that? Anyway, a solid promo from The Shield. Is it just me or is Rollins starting to sound like Ambrose? Normally, that wouldn't be a bad thing, but it's not so good when they are part of the same act.
Another teaser for next week's Old School Raw aired..
6. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) vs. The Miz. Miz dumped Swagger to the floor, but Swagger came right back and yelled "we the people" again. Del Rio and Ricardo were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Colter twisted his mustache while watching Swagger control the offense.
[Q10] Swagger used a Swagger Bomb for a two count at 3:10. Miz came back with a Reality Check. Swagger went right back on the offensive with an impressive slam for another two count. Miz came back again, but Swagger pushed him into the ropes and Miz got tied up. He sold a knee injury. Swagger clipped the leg and applied the Patriot Lock for the win...
Jack Swagger defeated The Miz via submission in 7:15.
Powell's POV: Swagger may not have been suspended following his arrest last week, but he did have to appear on MizTV and work a fairly competitive match against The Miz all in one night. We can all sleep better tonight knowing that justice was served.
Cole spoke about being hungry during the broadcast. It was a setup for a Sonic product placement spot. Lawler nibbled on the food and Cole acted like Lawler wouldn't give him one...
Powell's POV: The odds of Lawler suffering another heart attack during the show just shot way up.
Highlights aired from last week's Raw of Punk attacking Cena from behind and saying, "I want that one" regarding the new title belt. Cole said the Punk vs. Cena match was up next... [C]
The announcers set up Triple H's Tout video in which he asked Brock if he's going to stand around and bleed or do something about it...
Footage aired of a few lonely virgins touting about how great the opening segment was. Well, unless they are Dot Net website and app readers, then I am quite confident they have healthy sex lives. If they are Dot Net Members, then clearly they get more action than three porn stars combined...
[Q11] Backstage, Josh Mathews interviewed John Cena, who said it's time for C.M. Punk to step up or step aside. He said he asked for this match to prove to the world that he is back. He said he hopes his critics are hungry because he is serving humble pie. He addressed his fans and said their time is up and our time is now...
The announcers set up a clip of Robot Combat League, the show hosted by Chris Jericho that debuts on Syfy tomorrow night...
Powell's POV: Has Raw ever felt like such an informercial for something other than their pay-per-view event before? I actually do intend to give the Robot show a chance. Good promo by Cena. It's nice to see that he can still turn it on when things are going his way. Finally, that poor dog.
Cole and Lawler spoke at ringside. They set up footage of Undertaker returning at the live event in Waco, Texas on Saturday night. Lawler said rumors and speculation start running rampant at this time of year with people questioning whether Undertaker will return at WrestleMania...
Powell's POV: Clearly, Taker is returning for Mania or they wouldn't be doing anything to raise the hopes of viewers. The question now is whether he returns tonight or another week.
C.M. Punk made his entrance minus Paul Heyman. He knelt in the ring and waited as John Cena's music hit and he made his entrance. Justin Roberts handled in-ring introductions, which gave it a big match feel...
7. John Cena vs. C.M. Punk for a shot at the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 29. Cena had the early advantage. Punk was at ringside when the show cut to break at 2:30.
[Q12] [C] Punk caught Cena with a hold after the break. Cena stood up with Punk on his shoulders. Punk hit him with elbows, but Cena fell backwards and slammed Punk down in a good spot. They traded headlocks. Later, Cena hit a shoulder block, but then missed a second attempt and tumbled to ringside. Punk followed up with a suicide dive at 10:30. [C] An ad aired for Social Media Smackdown...
After the break, Punk applied the Anaconda Vice. Cena rolled it into a pin, so Punk broke the hold. Punk came back with a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Punk signaled for the GTS, but Cena avoided it. Moments later, Punk went for a springboard and Cena applied the STF. Punk countered into the Anaconda Vice. Cena rolled back into the STF. Punk rolled on top of Cena, who kicked out to break the hold. Really good sequence.
[Overrun] Cena signaled for "You Can't See Me." Punk saw it and went for the GTS. Cena tried to roll him up, but Punk ended up on top of Cena for a two count. Later, Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He went for the Attitude Adjustment, but Punk countered for the GTS, which Cena avoided and then performed a sit-out powerbomb on Punk for a really good near fall.
Cena went to the top rope, but Punk caught him. Cena eventually hit the top rope leg drop to the back of Punk's neck for another excellent near fall. The rans who could be seen on camera were standing. Punk caught Cena with a high knee in the corner. Cena then hoisted him up and hit the Attitude Adjustment for another near fall.
Punk rolled to ringside. Cena went after him and Punk ran him into the ring post. Punk headed back to the ring. Cena was still down and motionless at eight, but he got back to his feet and inside the ring at the last moment. He stood up and Punk caught him with the GTS for another excellent near fall. Punk went for the GTS again, but Cena countered into the STF. Punk teased tapping out, but he eventually crawled and reached the ropes.
Punk performed a piledriver on Cena, which drew a huge gasp from the live crowd. Punk motioned that it was over. He covered Cena, who kicked out at two. Punk covered Cena a couple more times for two counts. Punk held his left knee as he made his way to the ropes. Punk went for the top rope elbow drop and missed. Cena performed a huracanrana on Punk and then finished him off with the Attitude Adjustment for the 1-2-3...
John Cena pinned C.M. Punk to retain the WWE Championship title shot at WrestleMania 29 in 26:35.
The announcers recapped the match and said it is absolutely official that The Rock will defend the WWE Championship against The Rock. They said Rock tweeted Cena a congratulatory tweet. Cena stood on the stage, raised his arms, and said, "Cena is back" to close the show...
Powell's POV: Wow! That was a hell of a match, especially following the last commercial break. It was similar to an Undertaker match at WrestleMania in that I had no doubt that Cena was going over, yet I still found getting caught up in the near falls. I was worried going in that Punk losing clean to Cena could do some damage for a possible post WrestleMania feud, but that certainly wasn't the case. Punk looked very strong and it's cool that the television crowd got a real taste of how good their matches can be.
As for Undertaker, this would not have been the place to reintroduce him. The spotlight should have been on Cena and the WrestleMania 29 main event coming out of that match. They still have five weeks of television to go. They officially set up Rock vs. Cena, and also got the ball rolling on Lesnar vs. Triple H. I know most fans want everything right away, but it's logical of WWE to spread things out, give the matches a chance to stand out, and keep the build to WrestleMania interesting along the way. Thanks for watching along with me tonight. I'll be back with a Dot Net Member exclusive audio review later tonight.
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