This week’s Raw was hyped with the returns of both John Cena and Mr. McMahon, while continuing to try to build towards Hell in a Cell just three weeks away. We saw Mr. McMahon come to give the State of WWE Address, the semifinals of the tag team tournament, Larry King and more. Let’s break down each segment of the night.
John Cena opens Raw to a big mix of cheers and jeers. Cena says he feels good to be back. He acts as though he hasn’t been on Raw in months by discussing the tag team champions, Antonio Cesaro’s nipples, the divas out of control and tells AJ he wants to take her out on a date. Sorry Cena, but you only missed one week and most of the those things were already happening. Cena claims he doesn’t have a voice and neither does the audience because it was voice stolen by CM Punk. Cena ends by saying he will go to Hell in a Cell and tells Punk to fight him at HIAC.
Ryback vs. Primo and Epico
After a singles match with either Primo or Epico previously (does it really matter which one?), Ryback gets both in a handicap match. Pretty typical squash match for Ryback here. I know they are building him towards an eventual top spot in WWE, but do we really have to see more squash matches? Also, I am pretty sure JBL, who was on commentary with Cole and J.R., called Primo and Epico former Puerto Rican Champions.
Brodus Clay vs R Truth
This match never took place. After Brodus Clay’s entrance, R-Truth explained that Little Jimmy is going through puberty (is that PG?) and he wants to dance. Clay, Funkadactyls, R-Truth and even Little Jimmy dances until Mr. McMahon interrupts. McMahon announces that after the commercial break he will give his State of the WWE Address.
Vince McMahon – State of the WWE Address
Mr. McMahon begins his State of the WWE Address by explaining that we have all kinds of things in WWE. In WWE, we have dancers, imaginary kids, goat faced vegans, leprechauns, big red monsters, luchadors and giants. WWE has comedy, drama, everything in between, but most importantly action. McMahon says WWE has the greatest athletes and the audience wants to see the best against the best. This obviously is a cue for a CM Punk interruption. We get the normal disrespect speech from Punk. Punk says McMahon wants to talk about the best, but doesn’t mention Punk. Punk asks McMahon if he respects Punk, with which McMahon replies, “I am not a CM Punk guy.” Punk tells McMahon he should be a CM Punk guy and everyone should be appreciating him because if they don’t, he will quit and leave. Punk says if the WWE is not about him, then who is it about? McMahon replies that it’s about the WWE Universe and that the WWE Universe is saying somebody needs to shut Punk’s mouth. McMahon tells Punk that he is nowhere near the likes of Andre the Giant, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart or Stone Cold Steve Austin. Punk tells McMahon that Stone Cold achieved success by beating up a clueless millionaire (That being McMahon). Punk tells McMahon that he has been slapping Punk in the face for years and then Punk slaps and knocks down McMahon. As Punk is leaving, McMahon gets up and says he wants to fire Punk, but instead he will fight him tonight on Raw!
Tag Team Tournament Match – Prime Time Players vs Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
Good match between PTPs and Rey Cara. I still don’t like the Prime Time Players without a manager though. In the end, Rey Mysterio hits the 619 and the splash for the win. The finals of the tag team tournament will be next Monday on Raw.
Winners: Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
Backstage – Punk and Heyman talking
We see Punk and Heyman talking. Paul Heyman calls the Punk-McMahon match a lose-lose situation. Heyman says after Punk beats him, McMahon will make their lives miserable.
Sheamus vs Wade Barrett
I was very excited to see this match. Wade Barrett has been discussed as an eventual opponent for Sheamus and the World Heavyweight Championship. Big Show enters after a minute into the match and sits near commentary to watch the match. Great match from both competitors as these are two of the best WWE has today. In the end, Tensai enters and attacks Sheamus, which leads to an assault by both Barrett and Tensai. Sheamus brogue kicks Tensai and throws Barrett out of the ring. Big Show enters the ring, Sheamus misses a brogue kick and Big Show knocks Sheamus out of the ring and exits.
Winner: Sheamus via DQ
I am not sure why Tensai joined Barrett in this assault. Didn’t Tensai face Big Show recently? Maybe because Sheamus interferd and hit Tensai with the brogue kick. That must be it. Still, I am looking forward to Barrett and Sheamus have more matches in the future. For the World Heavyweight Championship. It will probably happen.
Backstage – Punk and AJ
Backstage we see AJ in her locker room with CM Punk joining her. Punk asks AJ if she’s worried about Punk beating up an old man on her show. AJ says Punk is afraid to face Cena and wonders if he’s afraid to fight McMahon too. Punk says he was just trying to help AJ save her job, but now whatever happens will be her fault. Punk exits.
Tyson Kidd vs. Antonio Cesaro
Earlier today segment – Cesaro is at a fast food restaurant where he makes fun of chili cheese fries and the rise of obesity. A solid match by Kidd and Cesaro. It is nice to see Kidd getting some TV time. It seems like this spot to face the Cesaros, Barretts etc… goes to Kidd, Ryder or Santino. Cesaro hits his big upper cut, followed by the neutralizer for the win.
The only question I have is – who is Cesaro feuding with? Who is next in line for a shot at the U.S. title? This could have been a good opportunity to build towards a Hell in a Cell match.
Winner: Antonio Cesaro
Team Hell No vs Ziggler/Del Rio
Vickie enters first to introduce Dolph Ziggler. The normal back and forth from Team Hell No before the match starts. Bryan even stops Kane from doing his pyro. Another great match from four great workers. In the end, Kane tags himself in and chokeslams Ziggler for the win.
Winner: Team Hell No
I would have preferred to see Del Rio take the pin here. He has less to lose as WWE has been making him look weak for a while. Overall, I like that they are putting Team Hell No in tag matches with interesting pairs as they await their number one contenders. We will find that out next week so hopefully Team Hell No will start building towards their match at Hell in a Cell.
Backstage – Vince McMahon and Jim Ross
In the back, J.R. is talking with Mr. McMahon. Ross brings up how nice McMahon was at the J.R. appreciation night. Ross says as a friend nothing good can come from his matchwith Punk. J.R. reminds McMahon what happened to Lawler when he fought Punk. McMahon tells J.R. that he wants him to call his match tonight. McMahon has Ross do some play-by-play right then and there. J.R. tells McMahon that he is making a mistake.
It’s nice to see these two getting along. I can’t recall the last time they were on the same page on WWE TV.
Larry King interviews the Miz
Larry King and his new wife are out to promote Larry King Now. He is interrupted by his guest – the Miz. Miz says it’s his birthday and the whole crowd should sing happy birthday to him. King says no one cares it’s the Miz’s birthday. King tells Miz he loves WWE because he can do whatever he wants – including change his guest. King introduces Kofi Kingston as his new guest. King asks Kofi about how his day was, chit chat etc…Miz interrupts the conversation with a serious of “REALLY?”s. Miz claims he is surrounded by hasbeens. Great quote by Miz when he says, “I’ve had more championships than you’ve had wives and you’ve had main events!” King’s wife throws water in Miz’s face, but before Miz can attack them, Kofi jumps him. Kofi jumps off the stage onto Miz and they brawl to the back. King and his wife say goodbye to the fans and leave.
For those of you who haven’t seen, WWE.com has an exclusive video with Kofi and R-Truth agreeing to split up and focus on their singles careers. This move makes a lot of sense. I had a feeling that WWE did not want either R-Truth or Kofi to turn heel so this was a good way to have them split up as a tag team without one turning heel. I also love Kofi getting back to singles competition and a championship feud. Perhaps Kofi will be the transitional IC champion in the future to allow a different heel to eventually be Intercontinental Champion.
Tag Team Tournament Match – Santino Marella and Zack Ryder vs Rhodes Scholars
Cole and crew announce that Santino and Zack Ryder are collectively known as CoBro. Glad we got that out of the way. A precorded promo by Rhodes Scholars is shown, in which Sandow says he and Rhodes have a combined IQ approaching infinity. This was a fairly quick match. In the end, Rhodes blocks the Cobra and hits a Disaster Kick for the win. It will be Rhodes Scholars vs. Rey and Sin Cara next week.
Post-match – the Encore comes out and attacks Santino and Ryder.
The match was nothing special as I knew Rhodes Scholars would win. I predict that Rhodes Scholars win or we see a triple threat at Hell in a Cell. In terms of the post-match, I am still not a fan of the Encore because Mahal and McIntyre do not come across as band people. You can’t just have Heath Slater share his gimmick with other guys. It needs to be more natural.
Backstage – Heyman and McMahon
In the back we see Paul Heyman talking with Mr. McMahon. Heyman tries to apologize for Punks’ actions. Heyman asks McMahon to let him broker the peace.
McMahon calls Heyman out on not knowing when he is lying or telling the truth. McMahon says Heyman has been poisoning Punk’s mind for years. Heyman says he’s here for McMahon’s sake, not Punk’s sake. Heyman tells McMahon not let Punk do what Lesnar did to his son in law, Triple H. Heyman leaves.
Eve vs. Kaitlyn
Prior to the match, Layla joins commentary. Kailtyn starts out aggressive even putting Eve in a torture rack. Eve breaks out of the torture rack and attacks Kaitlyn’s wrapped, still injured ankle. Eve makes Kaitlyn tap out with a version of the ankle lock. Layla gets in the ring in order to make Eve let go of the hold. Eve appears trying to help Kaitlyn until Layla pushes Eve away. Eve exits with her Divas Championship.
I can’t recall the last time we saw a Divas Championship match on Raw. In any case, this is a step in the right direction as the storyline is moving forward. We should see Eve vs. Layla at HIAC and end this storyline. I do like Eve as champ though.
Backstage – Del Rio and Ricardo
In the back Josh Mathews interrupts Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez. He tells them that Orton sent out a tweet that Orton will be at Smackdown. Del Rio doesn’t like the sound of it and walks off.
Backstage – Larry King and Daniel Bryan
In the back, Larry King and his wife are walking and approached by Daniel Bryan. Bryan is looking for advice on how to deal with people calling him a goat face. Bryan asks Larry how he dealt with being called an owl by David Letterman. Bryan hits on King’s wife, but she tells him she doesn’t date trolls who live under bridges. King tells Bryan to just accept the nickname. Kane joins the group as Team Hell No bicker and argue.
Backstage – CM Punk and Paul Heyman
CM Punk is getting ready for his match against Mr. McMahon, while Heyman is still trying to talk him out of the match. Heyman suggests Punk give McMahon such a beating that he can’t make another decision for the rest of his life. Punk says he’s going to victimize McMahon and enjoy every second of it.
CM Punk vs. Mr. McMahon
Mr. McMahon is out first for the match. Punk attacks McMahon during his entrance. Punk beats McMahon down and then throws him into the ring. McMahon spears Punk when they are both in the ring. The match never officially starts. Punk and McMahon go back and forth attacking each other. Punk throws McMahon out of the ring and slams Vince’s head into the announcers table. Punk puts on the headset, yells something at McMahon and slams his face into the table again. Punk puts Vince onto his shoulders, but Vince gets out of it and pushes Punk in the ring post. Vince’s face is all messed up. McMahon throws Punk over the top of the announcers’ table. McMahon gets a mic and tells Punk he is going to teach Punk about respect. McMahon jumps over the table and beats Punk repeatedly with the microphone. McMahon brings Punk back into the ring.
McMahon brings a kendo stick into the ring. Punk crawls out of the ring. McMahon wants Punk back in the ring, but Punk tells Heyman to bring him his belt so they can get out of there. McMahon gets out of the ring to stop Heyman and grabs the belt. McMahon knocks down Heyman and gets back into the ring. McMahon drops the belt, holding a kendo stick and inviting Punk back into the ring. After Punk attempts to get back in the ring without McMahon attacking him, Punk gets his own kendo stick. Punk and McMahon both have kendo sticks, but Punk ends up on his knees begging McMahon. As McMahon comes towards him, Punk delivers a low blow to McMahon.
Punk starts a beat down on McMahon with two kendo sticks. He sets McMahon up for the GTS, but Ryback’s music hits and he comes out. Punk tries to leave, but John Cena comes out and throws Punk back in the ring. Ryback delivers a clothesline as the audience goes crazy. Ryback attempts shellshock to Punk, but Punk slides out and escapes. Punk grabs the WWE title and runs through the crowd with it. McMahon gets on the mic and tells Punk he has a decision to make. McMahon tells Punk at Hell in a Cell, Punk has to face either Ryback or John Cena. Punk has until next Monday to decide or McMahon will decide for him. End of show.
Overall, a great show to follow last week’s disaster. I guess John Cena’s appearance helped, but I think McMahon’s participation in this episode was the key. The match ended with a cliffhanger, which I think is always the best way to end a show. It will be interesting to see the fallout of the Punk-McMahon-Ryback-Cena situation and the Punk attacking a fan situation.
Seth Guttenplan is a teacher by day, writer by night. In addition to being the Monday Night Raw reviewer for CamelClutchBlog.com, Seth is a Bleacher Report writer and host of Smackdown Rundown, ProWrestlingPowerhouse.com’s weekly radio show reviewing Friday Night Smackdown and previewing all upcoming WWE pay-per-view events. To read more from Seth, follow him on twitter (@sethgutt) and visit http://guttwrenchpowerblog.com