In the aftermath of Hell in a Cell 2012, WWE wasted no time in preparing for the next pay per view, Survivor Series, which is just three weeks away. By the end of the night we had a traditional five on five match for Survivor Series, but what else occurred during RAW? Did Ric Flair make his rumored return to WWE? Did Ryback get revenge of CM Punk or Brad Maddox? What’s the latest between the AJ-Cena affair? So many unanswered questions and only one writer here to answer them so let’s get to it.
Opening Segment: CM Punk and Paul Heyman
Tonight’s Raw opens with CM Punk and Paul Heyman. Punk tells everyone including commentators and various audience members that they are wrong and were proven wrong by Punk. Punk says he has proven everyone wrong for 344 days. Punk says since day one, he has survived. Punk talks about how he has beaten Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton and John Cena. Punk says Ryback is not even in the conversation. Punk would rather talk about his monumental victory from last night. Punk says he had nothing to do with the referee controversy. Punk says Maddox was hired by AJ. He mentions how he cost him a match weeks ago. Punk says there will be no rematch.
Foley mentions how Punk was left on his back on top of the cage. Punk asks Foley if he came out to embarrass him? Foley says no, Punk did a great job embarrassing himself at Hell in a Cell. Foley says Punk blew it in terms of the tradition of Hell in a Cell (Foley references his previous legend vs. statistic line). Punk suggests a traditional survivor series match – Team Foley vs. Team Punk. Foley accepts.
Ryback music hits
Punk and Heyman escape.
Match #1: Ryback vs JTG
A squash match by Ryback. What more can I say? When the match first began. I thought are we going back in time? If they want better ratings they have to do something differently. Ryback wins with shellshocked. End of story.
Josh Matthews interviews Ryback
For whatever reason, Josh Matthews attempts to get an interview before Ryback grabs mic. Ryback then delivers an amazing promo that shows that he really can talk! Ryback says, “Revenge is a confession of pain. I’m not hurt. I’m hungry. And when I feast again, it will be on CM Punk. Feed. Me. PUNK!!!”
Match #2: Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett
The second match of the night featured two previous foes in Randy Orton and Wade Barrett. Barrett received no TV entrance, while we received half of one for Orton. Interesting way for WWE to save time on a three hour show – cut the entrances. Sorry, but the entrances help build up the match. Great match from two of the best in WWE today. The match spilled to the outside after a dropkick by Orton. Orton slams Barrett on the steps and Spanish announce table. When they get back into the ring, Orton has control as the match leads into a commercial. After the break, Barrett has control. Eventually, Orton fights back and hits some clotheslines and a powerslam. He tries for an RKO. Barrett stops him and hits a Black Hole Slam for a two count. Barrett tries for the Souvenir, but Orton turns it into an RKO for the pin and win.
Winner: Randy Orton
This would make a great ongoing rivalry. Both Orton and Barrett deserve to be in the World Heavyweight Championship picture. Quite frankly, the WHC title picture is wide open so anything could happen.
Backstage: AJ and Vickie Guerrero
Vickie says she brought AJ in so AJ can admit to the affair with John Cena, but AJ refuses to admit anything. Vickie says the board of directors has given her the power to hire AJ back as a wrestler. AJ apologizes and says she wants to perform. Vickie asks AJ what her biggest weakness is. AJ says she can become emotionally attached to…her job. Vickie asks AJ if she’s crazy. Vickie says when she comes back she wants AJ to give her one good reason to give her a contract.
This was a great backstage segment. AJ needs to get back to wrestling. She could be a top Diva in the WWE. That certainly is not difficult to be when there are only five or six active divas, but still. Hashtag AJ for Divas Champion.
Match #3: Team Hell No vs Prime Time Players
Darren Young and Daniel Bryan start the match. Bryan hits his signature series of kicks to the chest until Kane tags himself in. Team Hell No continue to tag themselves in quickly. Meanwhile, Titus O’Neill comes in and knocks down Bryan. Oneill uses his strength with a couple slams to Bryan. Titus tags D Young back in and they double team Bryan for a moment. Bryan begins to get control, but Kane tags himself back in. Kane hits the flying clothesline and then knocks Titus off the apron. Kane hits Young with a chokeslam. Titus comes in and Kane pushes him out of the ring. In the end, Daniel Bryan tags himself in and uses no lock on D Young who taps out to give Team Hell No the win. and young taps out
Winners: Team Hell No
It was fairly obvious who was going to win here. In any case, WWE is doing a fantastic job building up the tag team division. Kane and Daniel Bryan continue to be a dysfunctional, yet successful tag team.
Vickie Guerrero’s Evidence
Vickie Guerrero enters and reiterates that she has evidence that proves the relationship between John Cena and AJ Lee. Vickie calls out John Cena to the ring. After Cena enters the ring, Vickie shows a video from Raw three weeks ago when Cena said he wanted to take AJ out on a date. Cena says it was a joke. Vickie then shows a video from last week of Cena hugging AJ. Cena says he was being a good friend because she had just gotten fired. Vickie then shows a picture of Cena and AJ at a romantic dinner. Cena claims it to be the dinner he told everyone about. His business dinner to discuss when he would be back from injury. Vickie says if Cena has an answer for everything then what about this next video? Vickie shows a video of Cena and AJ talking and then going into an elevator. Cena says he know how that looks, but AJ had just lost her job and he was trying to help her and they were just got into an elevator. Cena says AJ is stronger. more resilient and better looking than Vickie. Ziggler’s music hits Ziggler comes out and says everyone has seen enough to draw their own conclusion. Cena grabs Ziggler by his collar and gets in his face. Cena tells Ziggler to never mention his and AJ’s name in the same sentence again. Cena shoves Ziggler to the mat and walks off to the back.
If the only thing that comes out of this storyline is a John Cena-Dolph Ziggler match, many people will be disappointed. I don’t expect AJ to go back to being general manager ever again, however I don’t see Vickie as the permanent authority figure either. Sorry, but no Flair tonight. It would have been the perfect set up.
Match #4: Champion vs. Champion – Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston vs. United States Champion Antonio Cesaro
The Miz joins commentary for this match. Prior to the match, Cesaro says America has the fattest children in the world. He also discusses how Halloween is coming up and calls it a silly American holiday. He says now more than ever America needs Cesaro as the U.S. Champion.
The match begins with a lot of back and forth action until the match lands outside the ring. Kofi throws Cesaro into The Miz who gets up and attacks Kofi causing a disqualification. Cesaro and the Miz double team on Kofi until R-Truth returns and helps his former partner clear the ring.
Winner by DQ: Kofi Kingston
Although the Miz and Kofi Kingston feud should not last much longer, the inclusion of Truth was spectacular here. We knew that Kofi and Truth ended their tag team on a good note and don’t be surprised if this tag team match happens next week. Perhaps this will lead to R-Truth feuding with Cesaro. Honestly, Cesaro needs a real feud. He has shown so much potential, but is constantly thrown into matches against jobbers. Enough is enough!
Backstage: AJ and Vickie
When we come back from commercial, we are backstage with AJ and Vickie again. Vickie teases AJ about caring for Cena. AJ says there is nothing going on between her and Cena and Vickie knows it. Vickie tells AJ she will put AJ on the roster if she admits that she cares about Cena. Obviously, AJ refuses. AJ talks about how WWE means everything to her, but Vickie is not worth lying for or hurting John Cena. AJ is about to leave, but Vickie stops her. Vickie hires AJ. Vickie tells AJ if she ever puts her hands on her, she’s done. Vickie tells AJ her first match will be tonight against Beth Phoenix. AJ smiles, thanks Vickie and walks off.
Interview with 3MB
We see a video of 3MB in the style of Behind the Music. The only entertaining part of this segment was when Jinder Mahal says he is the class clown with a serious face. Some people like this group, this writer does not.
Match #5: Zack Ryder and Santino Marella vs. 3MB (Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater)
These two teams have been feuding recently, so it was nice to see it culminate in a tag team match. A decent match from both face and heel jobbers. In the end, Santino pulls out the Cobra, but McIntyre distracts him. Santino hits McIntyre with the Cobra. Slater comes from behind and hits his finisher on Santino for the win.
Winners: Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal
It’s hard to say what the WWE is trying to do with either of these teams. If they were separately jobbing to Team Hell No and Team Rhodes Scholars it would be totally understandable. 3MB is gaining a lot of momentum, but I am not sure how far this group can realistically go. Only time will tell.
Michael Cole announces Jerry Lawler returns to Raw in 2 weeks!
Match #6: AJ Lee vs. Beth Phoenix
Prior to the match, Beth tries to intimidate AJ by yelling at her. Beth pushes AJ down and continues to talk trash. AJ snaps and attacks Beth. Phoenix slams AJ. The action spills outside the ring for just a moment. Phoenix brings AJ back into the ring and pins her for a two count. Then out of nowhere, AJ rolls Phoenix up for the win.
Winner: AJ Lee
However, after the match, Vickie comes out and says she expected more from AJ. Vickie tells the ref to restart the match. Shortly after the rematch starts, Phoenix hits AJ with a Glam Slam for the win.
Winner: Beth Phoenix
It is starting to seem like this storyline has a lot of focus on Vickie and AJ. This is fine as long as we eventually get to see a match between the two. No matter who wins, neither one gets to be the authority figure of Raw.
Sheamus and Big Show Segment
Sheamus enters the ring and talks about how he still has a smile on his face after losing the World Heavyweight Championship. Sheamus admits that Big Show was the better man at Hell in a Cell. Sheamus mentions how it took two knockout punches to defeat him. For whatever reason, Sheamus says he didn’t come to WWE to win, he came to fight. Sheamus says Big Show may have won the battle, but the war is far from over. Sheamus wants another match with Big Show. Sheamus says it won’t just be fight, it will be an all out war and he will regain the WHC.
Big Show enters. Big Show is smiling as he enters the ring with his new title. Big Show brags about how the belt looks good on him. Big Show says he did what he said he was going to do. Big Show says he has no limits and no one can stop him. Big Show tells Sheamus whatever he bring will not be good enough. Big Show tells Sheamus that he can’t beat him and will never win back the title. Sheamus tells Big Show that was a magnificent speech and goes on to deliver White Noise to Big Show. Sheamus leaves smiling.
Although this could have been a good opportunity to change things up with the World Heavyweight Championship title picture, Sheamus does deserve another shot. It is also possible that Big Show may just have a short reign. It could be similar to how Big Show split up two Intercontinental Championship reigns of Cody Rhodes starting at WrestleMania. Regardless, Big Show should be looked at as a transitional champion.
Backstage: AJ, John Cena, Vickie Guerrero, Beth Phoenix
Backstage we see Cena and AJ talking. They walk off as we see Vickie was hiding, listening to their conversation. Beth Phoenix walks over to Vickie and thanks her for restarting the match. Vickie tells Beth she shouldn’t have had to restart the match. Vickie then tells Beth that she’s fired!
Many people heard the rumors about Beth Phoenix taking time off, but this has to be one of the worst incidents of writing someone off WWE TV. It just makes the writers seem lazy.
Match #7: Rey Mysterio/Sin Cara vs. Team Rhodes Scholars
Yet another tag team match on Raw tonight and one that we saw last Monday as the finals of the tag team tournament. A good match here from two teams WWE certainly thinks very highly of. In the end, Sin Cara put Cody in position for the 619. Rey comes in, but Cody escapes. Both superstars are outside the ring as Cody throws Rey into the steps. Sin Cara hits a corkscrew onto Rhodes and then kicks Sandow in the head. Sin Cara climbs to the top. Rhodes pulls Sandow and Sin Cara lands flat on the mat. Sandow hits his finisher for the win.
Winners: Team Rhodes Scholars
As stated before, WWE thinks very highly of these two teams. I expect Team Rhodes Scholars to pick up the championships come TLC. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara should be a fairly successful tag team, but until Hell No is out of the picture, Don’t expect them to win the gold.
Backstage: Mick Foley and Paul Heyman
After a plug for WWE ’13 by Foley and Kaitlyn, Heyman enters and asks Foley about his team. Foley tells Heyman he didn’t have to search much because superstars were lining up to be on his team. Foley tells Heyman his team is already set. Heyman tells Foley that Punk is determined to personally victimize Foley at Survivor Series. The teams will be revealed later in the show.
Susan G. Komen Donation
Vince McMahon is on the stage with the entire WWE roster. He introduces some people from the Susan G. Komen foundation and John Cena is in the ring with them. After Cena discusses WWE’s work to help raise money, Cena presents the foundation with a check for $1,000,000 from WWE.
Match #8: Alberto Del Rio vs. Justin Gabriel
A match between two losers from Hell in a Cell is next as Alberto Del Rio faces Justin Gabriel. Del Rio has control early on until Gabriel fights back and we see some back and forth action. Del Rio focuses on Gabriel’s arm, which means you probably see where this is going. In the end, Del Rio wins with the cross armbreaker.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
This really was like watching two losers in a match. Gabriel is not going anywhere due to poor mic skills and Del Rio’s character is as boring as Gabriel.
Team Foley and Team Punk Members Are Announced
Heyman and Punk are out first to announce their team. They have a huge WWE ’13 banner hanging with Punk’s picture. Heyman talks about how he picked the best partners for punk. The first member of Team Punk announced is the Miz. Next, Heyman introduces Team Rhodes Scholars. Finally, Heyman calls the last member of the team an almost co captin and it is Alberto Del Rio. After announcing the team, Punk takes the mic and tells the crowd to shut up. He tells everyone that Survivor Series will be a celebration for Punk will have held the championship for one year.
The announced traditional Survivor Series match seems to have just taken matches from Hell in a Cell and made it into one tag team match. Other superstars who could have been announced in this match were Brock Lesnar, Big Show and Sheamus. This leads to a number of questions going forward. Will we have a WHC match, but not a WWE title match? Where will John Cena and Dolph Ziggler fit into Survivor Series?
Overall, it was a decent show of Raw, but certainly not the best. Nothing too spectacular occurred except for the first and main Survivor Series match being announced. Hopefully, there will be more than one traditional Survivor Series match this year. Even if that match only consists of mid card superstars. There was no Flair, no storylines completed. All of the feuds from Hell in a Cell will likely continue until Survivor Series and possibly to TLC.
Many questions remain unanswered. Where was Brad Maddox? WWE better not just drop this angle. Who will be the long term authority figure on Raw? What happens next between AJ and John Cena?
One can only hope that next Monday’s Raw will continue to build toward Survivor Series and give us more interesting and entertaining storylines.
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
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