4/15 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: C.M. Punk's first appearance since WrestleMania 29, followup to Ryback attacking John Cena, title change occurs Apr 15, 2013 - 07:00 PM
By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Greenville, S.C. at the Bi Lo Center
[Q1] Raw opened with a recap video that focussed on Ryback attacking John Cena to close last week's show, and teased C.M. Punk making his return to Raw for the first time since WrestleMania 29... Michael Cole introduced the show and was joined on commentary by Jerry Lawler and JBL...
1. Randy Orton and Sheamus vs. Big Show in a handicap match. It was all cheers for the entrances of Orton and Sheamus. Both men wanted to start the match, but they settled on Sheamus. Show and Sheamus fought back and forth for the first 4:30 of the match.
Orton took a hot tag from Sheamus and traded punches with Show and then put him down with a dropkick. Orton caught Show on the rope and then performed a hanging DDT from there. Orton played to the live crowd and struck the Viper's Pose. He went for the RKO, but Show pushed him off and then grabbed him by the throat. Sheamus caught Show with a Brogue Kick and then Orton hit the RKO and pinned Show...
Randy Orton and Sheamus beat Big Show in a handicap match in 6:00.
Powell's POV: It's really odd to see this handicap match on Smackdown and now Raw when both babyfaces have defeated Big Show in countless singles matches over the years. I'm really not sure where this is heading. It's good to see JBL back again. The King is a lovable character and all, but he doesn't bring much to commentary these days. He's a nice complementary player on a three-man team, but he just doesn't hold up his end of a two-man team these days.
Highlights aired from Friday's WWE Smackdown television show of The Shield surrounding Triple H in the ring, which led to 3MB going after The Shield only to be destroyed... Backstage, the 3MB members said they were going to the ring to call out The Shield...
[Q2] [C] After the break, 3MB was doing their air guitar routine while the fans booed. JBL said they've lost their "ever loving minds" by planning to call out The Shield. Heath Slater said they were going after Triple H last week, but The Shield beat them to it. Drew McIntyre asked for a hand written apology.
Brock Lesnar's music played and he walked onto the stage without Paul Heyman. The fans popped. Lesnar entered the ring and threw Slater over the top rope. Lesnar clotheslined McIntyre, and then performed an overhead belly-to-belly on Jinder Mahal. Lesnar performed the F5 on McIntyre.
Slater teased getting back inside the ring, but he thought better of it. Slater tried to run away, but Lesnar caught him at ringside with a clothesline. Lesnar picked him up and F5'd Slater onto the barricade at ringside. He picked him up again and performed the move again.
Paul Heyman had run out by this point. "No more," Heyman pleaded. The fans chanted "One More Time." Lesnar looked to the crowd and smiled. Heyman talked him out of it and then the two of them entered the ring. "I told you last week my client is ready for a fight," Heyman said. "And the fight that my client wants and has demonstrated a message to everyone tonight is against Triple H."
Heyman said that Triple H did something that no other man has ever pulled off. He apologized to Lesnar for saying in front of him that Triple H knocked out Lesnar. Heyman said that makes Hunter a fighter and a hell of a man. Heyman said that if Triple H was in the building he would shake his hand, look him in the eye, and tell him that he respects him for what he did at WrestleMania.
The live crowd chanted for Triple H. Heyman said that he knows the fans feel the same way he does, but unfortunately Brock Lesnar does not share his opinion. "So now, we have a problem." Heyman said. He noted that Triple H merely evened the score. "There can only be one dominant alpha male in the WWE Universe," he said.
Heyman said they could solve this problem at Extreme Rules. Heyman proposed a match in which a knocked out man will be shown no mercy and will be victimized. Heyman said it was time to get barbaric in a match where skin can be ripped away from bone at any second. "It's time to get extreme," Heyman said.
Heyman said Brock wants to face Triple H in an old school cage match. Heyman said they had two words for Triple H. "Challenge issued," he concluded. Highlights aired of Lesnar destroying the 3MB members...
Cole questioned whether Triple H would accept the match. He also hyped Ryback explaining why he attacked John Cena last week. A split screen shot showed Antonio Cesaro and Kofi Kingston walking backstage. Lawler hyped that they would meet for the U.S. Championship after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: Heath Slater earned his paycheck tonight. Goddamn, those bumps on the barricade were vicious. I like the idea of Brock getting his win back (to even his record), assuming that's where this is going. The first 30 minutes of the show were strong. I like the way they went right to a match to start the show and then the unadvertised appearance of Lesnar. It is odd that there was no acknowledgement at the top of the show regarding the bombings in Boston, but give it time. I can't imagine Boston area native John Cena appearing without addressing it.
[Q3] A graphic noted that WWE hosted 35 Make-A-Wish families from 14 different states and five different countries at WrestleMania 29, which is absolutely awesome...
2. Antonio Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston for the U.S. Title. Cole noted that Kingston beat Cesaro in a non-title match on Smackdown last week. JBL noted that Cesaro has been champion for 240 days. Cesaro yodeled as he walked to the ring. The show went to break with Cesaro in control at 2:45. [C]
Powell's POV: Cesaro is the Mountain Climber from The Price is Right.
After the break, the Ole chant started briefly. Kingston caught Cesaro with the Trouble in Paradise kick, but it knocked Cesaro out of the ring and down to the floor. Kingston pushed Cesaro back inside the ring and covered him for a two count. Kingston went to the ropes and dove at Cesaro, who caught him and slammed him for a good two count of his own.
Kingston came back with a kick and then went for a springboard move off the ropes. Cesaro caught him again, but Kofi rolled him up for a good two count. Kingston caught Cesaro with another Trouble in Paradise kick and pinned him clean. After the match, Josh Mathews interviewed Kingston in the ring. Kofi said he brought the U.S. Championship back home...
Kofi Kingston defeated Antonio Cesaro in 9:25 to win the U.S. Championship.
Powell's POV: Back home to Ghana West Africa? C.M. Punk might be the only WWE performer in recent memory who didn't drop the title shortly after the broadcast team mentioned how many days he'd been champion. The match was very good, but it's hard to get excited about (a) Kingston winning another secondary championship (b) a secondary championship in general after all the abuse those title took during WrestleMania season.
[Q4] A really good ad aired for the new Mick Foley DVD that comes out tomorrow... [C] The WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans commercial aired... The announcers spoke at ringside about the Money in the Bank briefcase and set up footage of Dolph Ziggler using it to capture the U.S. Championship... A shot aired of Ziggler, AJ Lee, and Big E Langston walking backstage... [C]
Ring announcer Justin Roberts introduced Dolph Ziggler as the new World Heavyweight Champion. Ziggler, Lee and Langston headed to the ring. Ziggler boasted about his greatness and said he is just too good. He said some of the fans may boo and that's fine. "I don't care," he stressed, which drew more boos.
[Q5] Ziggler said that when someone scores a TD in an NFL game, they are showing off. He said showing off is what you do when you are better than everybody else. "And I back it up every single night," Ziggler said. He spoke about the perks of being champion and kissed AJ.
Alberto Del Rio's entrance music played. Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez headed to the ring. Del Rio had his leg taped to sell his injury, and Ricardo was still on crutches. Del Rio said he was there to invoke his rematch clause. "I want my rematch right here in Greenville," he said. "And I want it right now." Ziggler mocked him by saying, "Yeah, right." He pointed out Del Rio's injury.
Vickie Guerrero interrupted with the "excuse me" bit and announced the match was starting immediately. A referee entered the ring and the wrestlers prepared themselves, but just as the match was about to start, Jack Swagger's entrance music played. Swagger and Zeb Colter came out and Colter spoke as they headed to ringside.
Colter said Ziggler doesn't deserve to be champion because Swagger was responsible for injuring Del Rio last week. Colter said Del Rio doesn't deserve a rematch. Swagger entered the ring and was quickly cleared by Del Rio. However, Swagger grabbed Del Rio's bad leg and wrapped it around the ring post twice. Swagger applied the Patriot Lock on the floor. A trainer, a referee, and Ricardo checked on Del Rio...
A shot aired of Daniel Bryan and Kane walking backstage. Lawler said they would be in action after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: It looks like they are setting up a Triple Threat match with Ziggler vs. Swagger vs. Del Rio. Then again, last week it looked like WWE was setting up a Triple Threat match with John Cena vs. Ryback vs. Mark Henry. Meanwhile, I hope WWE doesn't play up the bitter Vickie Guerrero routine too much now that Dolph is champion.
Highlights aired from the previous segment... Backstage, a trainer checked on Del Rio, who continued to sell the knee injury...
Introductions for the 4,227,348th Team Hell No vs. The Prime Time Players match. The Players have t-shirts with a hair pick on the front. Cole announced that Undertaker will team with Kane and Daniel Bryan to face The Shield on the London Raw next week...
3. WWE Tag Champions Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. The Prime Time Players in a non-title match. Bryan landed kicks to start the match. Lawler brought up Pancake Patterson again.
[Q6] The crowd was flat as The Players had a run of offense at Bryan's expense. Kane and Bryan came back. Kane chokeslammed Darren Young and then Bryan finished him off with a top rope head butt...
Kane and Daniel Bryan defeated The Prime Time Players in a non-title match in 3:30.
The announcers hyped Ryback's explanation for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: WWE should just air reruns of previous Kane and Bryan vs. The Prime Time Players matches with new commentary. As for Taker, I am surprised they didn't make a bigger fuss over him working a Raw match. The night is young, but that should be treated like a major event. JBL hyped it after the match, but they just didn't go far enough with it. I'm surprised they didn't do an angle with The Shield and Team Hell No that concluded with Kane making the big announcement regarding Taker returning to the ring on Raw.
Slow motion highlights aired of Ryback attacking Mark Henry and then John Cena at the end of last week's Raw...
Ryback stood in a dark area backstage and said WrestleMania 29 was the best night of John Cena's career and the worst night of his own career. He said Cena found redemption and was on top of the world while he was on the bottom. Ryback said there was only one place for them to go - Ryback up, Cena down.
Ryback said there must be so many questions running through Cena's head. He said maybe Cena saw it in his eyes before he took his head off last week. Ryback questioned what choice he had. He said he was staring up from the bottom of the ladder after WrestleMania and that wasn't going to happen.
Ryback said Cena helped him out by endorsing him and giving him his title shot last year. He said Cena made him feel like he belonged. He said Cena promised him he would always have his back.
"Well, it's obvious to me now that a friendship with John Cena is nothing more than a promise of living in the shadow of John Cena," Ryback said. He told John Cena to say hello to his Kryptonite. He questioned how many times Cena left him hanging. He looked back on his TLC match as highlights aired of the lights going out and The Shield performing a Triple Powerbomb on him.
"You said I could trust you and you said you had my back," said Ryback. "Six times, John. Six times I was attacked by The Shield. Where were you, designing your latest t-shirt? Where were you?" Ryback said the thee times that Cena was attacked, he was there every time.
Ryback said Cena was focussed on winning the WWE Championship. He said Cena got lucky at the Royal Rumble as footage was shown of Cena eliminating him to win the match. He said Cena left him alone at Elimination Chamber to fend off The Shield again. Footage aired of Cena failing to break up the pinfall that ended that six-man tag match.
Ryback said he sat in the back watching Cena making his jokes like no one else deserved to be there. "I sat in the back and waited for you to say something, to admit that you were only there because I wasn't." Ryback said he is stepping out of Cena's shadows and is the biggest threat to Cena's title reign ever. "Ryback rules," he closed...
Powell's POV: A wise call to have Ryback deliver the pre-taped backstage promo rather than attempting to do it in front of a live crowd. The logic was believable from Ryback's perspective yet not strong enough that Cena fans will side with him. Ryback didn't play to the fans in any way during that promo, but he didn't badmouth them either. The attack would have been more effective if we had seen more of Ryback and Cena together as friends before the split, but I still enjoyed it.
[Q7] [C] Highlights aired of Brock Lesnar attacking 3MB earlier in the show, and of Paul Heyman challenging Triple H on Lesnar's behalf...
4. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett vs. R-Truth in a non-title match. Cole hyped that there will be a ten-man battle royal on WWE Main Event with the winner challenging Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Title. Late in the match, Truth avoided a slam and then came back with a DDT and for a three count...
R-Truth defeated Wade Barrett in a non-title match in 3:10.
Powell's POV: I guess the idea is to make Barrett look vulnerable heading into his title defense on WWE Main Event. After all those WrestleMania season losses, the only way Barrett could look more vulnerable is if he was chained up in Deputy Zack Shelby's basement.
Backstage, Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox were talking when Teddy Long entered the room. He said he set up Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger for later in the show. Vickie asked if Booker T was aware of it. "I don't know," Teddy said. Vickie said she liked it and then told Maddox to go tell people about it...
The announcers hyped Fandango... [C]
[Q8] 5. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow vs. Santino Marella and The Great Khali (w/Natalya, Hornswoggle). Sandow cut a promo on the way to the ring in which he quoted a philosopher. Cody's mustache chimed in about something. Sandow called South Carolina a den of ignorance.
Late in the match, Santino set up for The Cobra and connected on Sandow. Rhodes tried to interfere and then left the ring. Hornswoggle hit him with a mini-Cobra, but Cody no-sold it. Khali punched Cody. Inside the ring, Sandow rolled up Santino and won the match for his team...
Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow defeated Santino Marella and The Great Khali in 3:20.
A graphic hyped that Fandango would be up next. The announcers questioned whether the fans of South Carolina would be Fandangoing... [C]
Powell's POV: So is Justin Roberts or someone else giving the crowd a pep talk about the Fandango theme or will they just let it happen (or not) organically?
Jerry Lawler stood in the ring and set up a video package that showed all of the attention the Fandango theme song has received. They included the Houston Texans cheerleaders, PETA, showed fan videos, etc. Back in the ring, Lawler played up Fandango as the first man to debut at WrestleMania and win.
Fandango and his female dancer made their entrance. They did their dance routine and the big Fandango logo appeared behind them. The live crowd was not playing along. There were some singing the song, but most people stood there silently once the music stopped.
[Q9] Lawler tried to interview Fandango, who cut him off and asked him how his hips are feeling. Fandango asked him if he could move his hips. The Fandango theme song singing picked up a little momentum in the crowd. Fandango asked the crowd who wanted to go Fandangoing with him. "Do you people want to go Fandangoing, do you?" he asked. He looked to different sides of the building and asked, "How about you people right here?"
Fandango said before they could do that, he needed the fans to pronounce his name correctly. He walked through saying his name. He corrected them a couple times and then led them through saying it. There were some cheers. He paused as the singing of his song picked up a little more momentum.
It stopped when Fandango told them that it was quite obvious they couldn't pronounce his name correctly. "So you can all go Fandango yourself," he said. The theme song played again and the cameras focussed on fans who were singing the song and doing the dance...
Powell's POV: A flat followup. Roberts didn't give the crowd a pep talk, but that's pretty much what Jerry Lawler did. Something tells me the live crowd will be a lot more into it next week in London.
Backstage, Matt Striker interviewed John Cena, who was back to wearing his black t-shirt (because the white one his hideous). Cena cut off Striker and said he's not so hard to find and that he will be ready to handle his business face to face and man to man...
Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter headed to the ring for the match against Dolph Ziggler... [C] Highlights aired of the Alberto Del Rio injury angle from earlier in the show...
6. World Hvt. Champion Dolph Ziggler (w/AJ Lee, Big E Langston) vs. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) in a non-title match. Ziggler slapped Swagger and then ran away from him. Swagger followed and then Ziggler attacked him when he reentered the ring. Swagger came back with a big boot to the face of Ziggler. Swagger was in control heading into the break. [C]
[Q10] After the break, the crowd kicked back as the wrestlers fought. In the end, Swagger had Ziggler up in powerbomb position when Ziggler threw repeated punches at his head. Swagger dropped him backwards onto the top rope and then pinned him clean. Afterward, Del Rio hobbled onto the stage and attacked Swagger. Del Rio applied the Cross Arm Breaker on Swagger while sitting on the stage...
Jack Swagger defeated Dolph Ziggler in a non-title match in 9:50.
Powell's POV: Wow, the World Hvt. Championship is a secondary title too now that Ziggler has it. Don't worry, folks, Del Rio's injured leg isn't serious enough to prevent him from smiling like a politician.
The announcers spoke at ringside about The Rock's injury. It included Rock's updates via Twitter... The announcers hyped that Cena called out Ryback for a face to face confrontation... A shot aired of C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman walking backstage together... [C]
[Q11] Backstage, Matt Striker tried to interview Sheamus. Mark Henry attacked Sheamus and left him lying because that's what he does...
Powell's POV: I guess Henry's character just took himself out of the WWE Title picture for a pointless feud with Sheamus.
C.M. Punk's entrance music played and he walked to the ring with Paul Heyman. The announcers noted the injury Punk suffered when his leg hit the side of the table during his match with Undertaker. Punk paused before saying that for 434 days as WWE Champion he couldn't enjoy the ride because he was always looking around the corner to what was next.
Punk said the WWE Championship meant the world to him, but he wanted the next challenge and that was The Rock. He said that as he battled someone who will arguably go down as one of the greatest superstars of all-time, he looked ahead and wanted to know what the next hurdle was.
"I looked to the one thing that could possibly be bigger than the championship I love so much and the one thing that could be bigger than The Rock and that was taking down The Streak at WrestleMania," Punk said. "And I took The Undertaker to the limit..." Punk put his head down for a moment.
Dueling Undertaker and C.M. Punk chants started as Punk stood silently. Punk looked over at Heyman and then hugged him before leaving the ring. Punk headed up the ramp while Heyman stood in the ring with a surprised look on his face. Punk stopped short of the stage and instead exited on the floor through a side area... [C]
An ad for Smackdown focussed on Dolph Ziggler winning the World Hvt. Championship...
Powell's POV: An interesting segment with Punk that will leave viewers asking questions about what's next for him. So, um, all those fans who chalked up the lack of Fandangoing tonight to the crowd being dead, now what's the excuse after hearing the loud Punk and Taker chants?
Backstage, Booker T told Teddy Long he has to consult with him before he books matches. Teddy told him that Jack Swagger is now the No. 1 contender. Booker said that Del Rio may be injured and can't compete, but that only means he can't compete tonight. Booker said Swagger and Del Rio would get a championship match in a Triple Threat at Extreme Rules...
Powell's POV: The only way Raw and Smackdown could possibly be better is if there were six authority figures instead of four!
7. WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn vs. Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) in a non-title match. The live crowd did their best to stay awake as two women they've been given little reason to care about did battle.
[Q12] The Bellas actually did Twin Magic and Brie got the win for her sister...
Nikki Bella beat Kaitlyn in a non-title match in 5:10.
A shot aired of Ryback walking backstage... [C]
Powell's POV: So, um, all of you who were saying the live crowd wasn't so bad after those Punk and Taker chants, now what? Wait, never mind. Anyway, there's apparently no reason for women to tell the referee, "My eyes are up here." The ref also missed the fact that Nikki's fishnets were torn while Brie's looked like they were straight out of the egg or wherever fishnets come from.
Cole hyped Randy Orton and Sheamus vs. Mark Henry and Big Show for Friday's Smackdown television show...
John Cena made his entrance. The women and kids love him. Well, except the one kid with poor enough fashion sense to purchase that wretched white shirt that Cena wore last week. "The Champ is here," Cena started. "And the Ryback is there (pointing at stage), and The Champ has a little business with the Ryback, so the Ryback get right here, right now."
Ryback's entrance music played and he made his entrance to a non-reaction. Ryback entered the ring and went face-to-face with Cena. Once Ryback was in the ring, there was a small "Feed Me More" chant. Cena said the WWE Universe knows that when they hear Feed Me More, someone is about to get hurt.
Cena said he should be shaking in his boots and wetting his khakis, but he's not. For some reason, the camera cut away momentarily and showed The Shield stretching out. Oops.
Cena mocked Ryback for blaming him for everything in his earlier promo. "You want this," Cena said of the championship. He said Ryback knocked him down once and claimed he is the biggest threat to the WWE Championship. "Do you know who you are dealing with, jack?" Cena asked.
[Overrun] Cena said he's been to war with Randy Orton, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels and those are just his friends. He said even though they are friends they beat the hell out of each other because the WWE Championship is everything. "I understand exactly what you did last week, I just don't like how you did it."
Cena said Ryback lacks the two most important things to be a champion - the space between his ears and a piece between his legs. The crowd cheered that line. Lawler quietly asked the other announcers if they saw what he saw earlier. "I know what I saw," he said.
Ryback continued standing in the ring while Cena told him they could do things a little different this week. Cena removed his t-shirt and got in Ryback's face before sayingthis week Ryback should make a move and see if he has what it takes to earn a championship. They glared at one another. Ryback turned around and left the ring and received some boos from the fans.
The Shield's music played. "I knew that was what I saw," Lawler said. JBL said it was two on three and both Cena and Ryback were in trouble. The Shield made their way to ringside and climbed the barrier. Ryback remained in the entrance way while Cena stood in the ring.
The Shield members kept an eye on Ryback. The trio eventually entered the ring and attacked Cena. He fought back, but The Shield outnumbered him. Ryback remained motionless at ringside as The Shield members put the boots to Cena. The boos for Ryback grew.
Once The Shield stopped beating on the fallen Cena, Ryback turned and headed up the ramp. Ryback stopped on top the stage and looked back to the ring. The Shield set up Cena and put him down with the Triple Powerbomb. Ryback stood expressionless on the stage as The Shield members put their hands together to celebrate their attack on the WWE Champion.
A "one more time" chant broke out in the crowd. Funny. Ryback headed backstage while The Shield members stood over Cena to close the show...
Powell's POV: Ryback is a heel. He probably won't be a heel to the adult males since he's feuding with Cena. Ryback's obvious explanation is that Cena didn't help him out, so now he returned the favor. The big negative is that Cena continued to turn his back on Ryback. It just sends the wrong message when he's not afraid to turn his back on the unpredictable monster heel. I am also very surprised that WWE didn't have Cena address the bombings in Boston.
Overall, this was an odd show as WWE tried too hard to get Fandango's theme song over (or maybe it's reverse psychology?), had Dolph Ziggler lose one week after winning the World Hvt. Championship, and had Wade Barrett lose one week after he regained the Intercontinental Title. They can't get to London quickly enough, as that live crowd will be rowdy enough to make just about anything they do feel important, unlike so much of this show.
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