The Road to WrestleMania rolls along, stopping at Nashville, Tenn., tonight. Elimination Chamber is one week away, and the Chamber match is taking shape. Mark Henry is definitely in, and he'll be joining Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio. That leaves two spots left. Who will secure those top spots?
The Rock returns to Raw this week as well. What will he have to say to CM Punk? What will CM Punk do? Also, will we see Brock Lesnar return to Raw tonight? Or will Paul Heyman be able to keep the destructive force at bay?
It looks like The Shield may have met their match in John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback. Will the three men make another strike? Will they get the advantage heading into the 6-man tag match?
All this and more, starting at 8 p.m. EST! Join us for LIVE coverage, at Ring-Rap.com!
Raw kicks off and Paul Heyman stands in the middle of the ring. "This is not how I envisioned things going down, but it is something that I am compelled to do." He says that tonight is the last night you are ever going to see Paul Heyman. He says he may be a lot of things in life, but he will never play the victim. Everything he's ever done he's done with great passion. "Admittedly, my passions usually end up betraying me."
He says for seven and a half years of his life he gave up everything - for ECW. He says he has vision and passion, and he turned Brock Lesnar into the next big thing.
Then, he met the man that was everything the audience would support, someone he knew could eclipse even Bruno Sammartino's reign as champion: CM Punk.
Heyman says he can see into the future, and he can tell us that something really bad is going to happen here. He says that it's going to come down on everyone, including CM Punk. He says Punk needs to remain focused and that Heyman has become a distraction to Punk. "The sins of the mentor will befall upon the protege." So tonight, he's handing in his resignation.
He says the one thing he won't miss on Monday night is the WWE Universe. "Do you see what you drive me to? Are you proud of yourselves?" He says Punk needs to be focused on becoming the champion again, and he will not stand in his way. He says he loves Punk. He says goodbye.
Before Heyman can leave the ring, CM Punk's music hits. He walks out to the ring, confused. Punk talks to him before getting a mic. He asks Heyman what he's doing. Heyman says he's in Punk's way. "Vince McMahon thinks that I arranged for The Shield to get paid off. I didn't, and you know that, but that's his perception. Vince McMahon thinks that I arranged for Brad Maddox to get paid off. I didn't, and you know that, but that's his perception." Punk says Heyman is way too important to him and to this company. These people love Heyman and admire him (chorus of boos).
Heyman says to Punk, "In the land of the McMahons, perception is reality." He tells him to wait to see what McMahon will do next. He wants to be looked at as his friend, not a martyr.
Punk says he can't go, and he says come Sunday, the bad dream goes back to normal. It will be the 455th day of his historic reign. He says when Punk defeats The Rock, Heyman will be in his corner. Heyman is on board, and says he WILL be there this Sunday, and Punk will be the reigning, defending, WWE Champion. Punk and Heyman hug. "You are the best in the world," says Heyman. King says Heyman tried to upstage The Pope.
Mark Henry comes out next. We go to break!
Brilliant work from Heyman. Just brilliant. I'm interested to see where things go from here.
We come back from break, and The Great Khali is in the ring with Hornswoggle and Natalya. They're dancing.
The dancing ends once Henry's music hits. Destruction approaches.
The Great Khali vs. Mark Henry
The bell rings and Khali hits a slap in the corner early on. He hits a few poorly placed kicks to the legs, and Henry reverses. Henry gets some momentum but eats a boot to the face. More Khali chops. Henry punches back. Running clothesline from Henry. World's Strongest Slam and the win.
Winner: Mark Henry via pinfall
Post-match, Henry goes back into the ring and stalks Hornswoggle. He picks him up and hits the WSS on him, too.
Terrible match, actually, but it was mercifully short. Khali struggles to get through the few moves he does. Henry is certainly looking strong going into the Chamber.
Later tonight, John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus face 3MB!
Backstage, Teddy Long and Booker T are talking about Mark Henry. Booker is impressed that Henry beat Orton. Chris Jericho interrupted and states he's the six-time World Champion and has been in more Elimination Chambers than anyone else in the company. He wants in the Chamber. Teddy Long says he agrees and says he's in. Booker says he needs to be impressed first. Teddy presents an idea to Booker, Booker says the idea sucks. Booker says if he can beat someone that's already in the Chamber, he can get in. He'll face Daniel Bryan! Jericho puts over Bryan and says he's good. He says he's gonna beat "Daniel Bearden" and become the seven-time, seven-time, seven-time World Heavyweight Champion, can you dig that, sucka? Booker looks insulted.
Moving on, Vickie Guerrero is on the cell phone when her door knocks. Paul Heyman walks in. He asks Vickie to make time for him. He wants a stipulation added to the title match on Sunday. Without Vince McMahon's approval? Certainly not! So, of course, McMahon calls. Heyman wants to talk to him. Vickie puts him on speakerphone. Heyman says Lesnar was out of line. McMahon interrupts and tells him to shut up. Heyman requests that if The Rock is counted out or disqualified, he loses the title. McMahon agrees, then hangs up.
Daniel Bryan hits the ring, and we go to break. When we get back, Jericho comes out.
Daniel Bryan vs. Chris Jericho
Early pin attempt with a roll-up by Jericho, and a repeat. Arm drags. Bryan reverses the arm lock. He hits a running knee to the gut. Bryan hits some kicks to the chest. Pin attempt and 2.
Bryan starts to wear the arm down, but Jericho reverses and hits a chop. Bryan telegraphs a sunset flip, but manages to toss Jericho outside. Jericho gets back in and goes for a springboard dropkick, and misses. DB dives out of the ring as we go to break.
When we return, Jericho has control. Whip to the corner, but Bryan hits a boot to the face, and a running dropkick. Jericho hits some running shoulder blocks. Running clothesline from DB. The "Yes" chants start getting to him.
Jericho goes for a Walls of Jericho but Bryan gets free. Jericho goes for a Lionsault and eats a pair of knees. DB goes to the top rope, Jericho stops him but fails a superplex attempt. Bryan hits a diving headbutt instead. 2-count.
Bryan hits a few knees, but Jericho grabs his leg and goes for The Walls. He rolls him over in the middle of the ring. Jericho drops down low. Bryan pushes up and starts to roll it into a No Lock! Bryan can't get it. Jericho goes back to the Walls of Jericho, but Bryan reverses and hits a kick to the head. 2-count.
Bryan is frustrated and hits a series of kicks. He misses with the final kick and Jericho rolls him up for 2. Out of nowhere, Jericho hits the Code Breaker and that's a wrap.
Winner: Chris Jericho (to qualify for the Elimination Chamber)
Fantastic match from two guys that are a perfect complement for each other. I would love to see a real program between these two men.
WWE showed updated brackets for Elimination Chamber. Strangely, Rey Mysterio is missing from the picture. He was there earlier today...
Back from break, we get a short recap of the events with The Shield from last week.
In the ring is 3MB. They're rocking out.
Sheamus, Ryback and John Cena come out individually.
3MB (Drew McIntyre & Heath Slater & Jinder Mahal) vs. Sheamus & Ryback & John Cena
Ryback and Slater start things off. Ryback is not amused, and he Ultimate Warrior-drops him on his face before tagging in Sheamus. Slater tags in McIntyre. Sheamus is not amused and beats the hell out of McIntyre. McIntyre gets in some offense. I can't help but think two years ago, when these two came in together, they could be main eventing PPVs together. Ah, well.
Sheamus hits his clubbing blows on the apron, then tags in Cena. McIntyre tags in Mahal. Cena is not amused and slaps the taste out of Mahal's face. Five Knuckle Shuffle. 3MB runs in and it's a brawl. All three faces set up 3MB for their finishers and we have a victory.
Winners: Sheamus & Ryback & John Cena
Ryback takes the mic and says he's being waiting a long time to feast on The Shield. Sheamus takes the mic and says he believes the three men in the ring can get their own justice tonight. Cena gets the mic, and gets booed. He asks why would they come to the middle of the ring and leave themselves vulnerable. He says it's a bad choice. You want some? Come get some!
Cole and Lawler kick it to a video package with The Big Show and Alberto Del Rio, from Smackdown this past Friday. Then, they show Alex Riley and Yoshi Tatsu talking about Big Show backstage. Show sees them and beats them up. We go to break.
We come back and The Big Show heads to the ring. Matt Striker sheepishly approaches him to talk to him. Show punches him in the face and knocks him out instead. He takes the mic and, well, paces back and forth. The fans heckle him. This goes on for a good couple of minutes. He drops the mic and leaves.
We get a recap of the Hall of Fame inductions, including a replay of the Bruno Sammartino package.
Back from break, Zack Ryder is in the ring, awaiting his opponent. Looks like he's facing Jack Swagger. Swagger is accompanied by...I have no idea. Zeb Colter.
Zack Ryder vs. Jack Swagger
Swagger goes on an aggressive offense immediately. Ryder hits a missile dropkick. Face wash in the corner. Swagger kicks out at 1 and rolls out of the ring. Ryder jumps out of the ring, but Swagger catches him and slams him on the ground outside the ring.
Back in the ring, Ryder gets some momentum but Swagger easily changes that. He hits the gutwrench powerbomb, then locks in The Patriot Act for the win.
Winner: Jack Swagger.
Squash match, but Swagger is looking fantastic since his return. Not sure who he's with, but Cole was playing it up like he's been around.
Swagger introduces Zeb Colter after the match. Looks like Swagger has a mouth piece. It's about damn time they gave him a manager. Colter essentially says real Americans no longer exist. He says he doesn't understand what people from other countries say. He wants to get rid of them. I don't like this gimmick. I don't think this will last long.
Backstage, Booker T adds Swagger to the Elimination Chamber. Dolph Ziggler approaches and complains. Booker says he bowed out last week. Now Ziggler wants back in, because Jericho is in. Booker says there's another person that's trying to get into the chamber too, and if Ziggler can beat him, he's in. Ziggler will face Kane, later tonight!
We get a quick video recapping Brock Lesnar beating the tar out of The Miz last week.
The Miz comes out in his gear. He's against Cody Rhodes, next!
The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes
Antonio Cesaro is at ringside. Rhodes locked in a headlock, hits a running shoulder. Cody stole the drop/punch thing from his brother. I approve.
Serious running knee to the face. Miz eventually starts hitting his stride and connects with a few punches. Miz sends Cody head-first off the apron. The two brawl outside. Cesaro attacks but Miz hits a boot to his face.
Miz unloads on Rhodes, but Cesaro recovers and attacks Miz from behind. He picks Miz up by the legs and swings him head-first into the barricade repeatedly. Impressive spot. Cesaro takes his title and leaves.
Winner: The Miz via disqualification
Just a means of advancing the Cesaro/Miz story. Nothing special.
We're back from break, and Primo, Epico, and Rosa Mendes are in the ring. Out comes Brodus Clay and Tensai.
As a side note, looks like Zeb Colter is Dutch Mantell. I didn't even recognize him. Wow.
Brodus Clay & Tensai vs. Primo & Epico
Tensai and Primo start things off. Tensai gets the advantage early. Brodus gets tagged in and almost punches Tensai in the face. This is a comedy squash. Epico's turn to bump around now. Tensai hits the senton for the win.
Winners: Brodus Clay & Tensai
Harmless and dumb.
After the match, they celebrate. Rosa is not pleased, and gets in the ring to yell. Naomi & Cameron take care of business. Let the dancing begin.
Up next, The Shield!
We get back from break, and The Shield makes their way through the crowd, to the ring. They all take microphones. Ambrose speaks first. He says they stand united in the ring to shield WWE from atrocities, like John Cena threatening The Shield.
Seth Rollins says when The Shield delivers a message, they do it through action. Roman Reigns says if they want them, to come get them. No one comes out. Empty threats, says Ambrose. Reigns says 'You can bring the whole world, and we'll still be standing."
Rollins says they failed last week, and he fails every day when he gets up. Ambrose calls Cena a failure. Reigns calls Cena the problem. The Shield is the solution. Rollins says the standard Cena has set has paved the way for Sheamus and Ryback. The entire system believes in him.
The Shield has an opportunity to "rectify a decade of injustice." Ambrose says they will walk in together and they will walk out together, and the three of them might not even walk out at all. Believe in The Shield!
They wait in the ring for someone, anyone to come out to confront them. Nothing. Then, the lights go out. They come back on, and Cena, Ryback and Sheamus are attacking The Shield. One by one, they knock The Shield out of the ring. The three men regroup, but Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus follow them out of the ring. They brawl through the audience.
The Shield manages to get away. Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback stand tall with the audience.
Great promo. Great, great promo. All three men are hitting their stride with the mic. The brawl looked impressive and the faces look strong going into the pay per view, so... that means The Shield will win.
We get a quick recap of Heyman's speech from earlier tonight. Up next, Alberto Del Rio!
Damien Sandow comes out to the ring and takes the mic. He calls the Grammy awards a shame, and runs down Nashville and country music, saying they should be listening to Beethoven instead. You're welcome.
Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez come out next.
Damien Sandow vs. Alberto Del Rio
Sandow immediately attacks Del Rio. He runs in for a clothesline and misses, and Del Rio fires back. Side kick to the jaw and Del Rio gets a near fall. Del Rio signals for the cross arm breaker and hits it. Match is over.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio via submission
Disappointed to see Sandow sacrificed here, but his day will come. Del Rio looked strong and is really coming into his own as a face. And, the fans are getting behind him.
Del Rio takes the mic and tells Big Show he just gave the best promo of his life by not saying a word. He says the time for parking lots and tour buses is over. He says Show can go anywhere he wants when the match is over, but there's only one place Del Rio is going - WrestleMania.
Wade Barrett vs. Kofi Kingston was next, but then Bo Dallas attacked Barrett and beat the crap out of him. So... I don't know if we still have a match. Commercial break.
Back, and the match is on.
Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett
Barrett is hurting, but ready to go. He keeps holding his face. Barrett unloads on Kofi with knees. Early pin attempt and a 2-count.
Kofi gets some offense and hits a nice dropkick. Kofi hits a crazy splash onto Barrett's back.
Back and forth, Barrett hits a nasty side slam and gets a near two count. He sets Kofi up for the elbow, and Kofi ducks. Kofi goes for his finisher, and misses. Barrett drags the apron over Kofi's face and hits the elbow while Kofi is covered up. He rolls back in and gets the pin for the win.
Winner: Wade Barrett
Clever finish, totally a page out of Finlay's book. I'm ok with it.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kane is up next!
After the break, Kane hits the ring. Dolph Ziggler comes out, flanked by AJ Lee and Big E Langston.
Kane vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler eats an elbow early on, and Kane works him over in the corner. Ziggler gets the advantage and hits some punches and kicks in the corner. Kane comes out and hits a pair of uppercuts. Kane tosses Ziggler up into the air and sets him up for a chokeslam, but Ziggler ducks out and we go to commercial.
Back from break, and Dolph gets tossed from a sleeper hold attempt. Right hand knocks Ziggler over the top rope and outside the ring. Big E watches over Ziggler, and Ziggler was able to launch Kane into the barricade. Ziggler hits a neckbreaker as Kane comes into the ring. Ziggler with a series of elbows.
Kane whips Ziggler into the ropes and catches him midair. Ziggler hits a DDT. 2-count.
Ziggler goes for the sleeper again and locks it in. Kane is on his feet. He tosses Ziggler over. Ziggler hits a leg drop for a 2-count. Kane hits a side slam for a 2-count. Kane misses a clothesline from the top rope, but hits a chokeslam after a distraction by AJ backfired. Kane gets the pin and the win.
Great match and I really thought Ziggler was going over here. A pleasant surprise, and it will be interesting to see how Ziggler figures in on Sunday.
Up next, The Rock!
We're back from break, get a brief video package on the Elimination Chamber match, and then... here comes The Rock!
Rock comes out to the ring and soaks up the cheers. He says it's a very special night. Finally he's come back to Nashville! The Rock wants to have fun, so it's story time! In 1987, he and his family moved to Nashville, Tenn. He signed up for high school. He says he was 6'4" and got no play from the girls because they thought he was an undercover cop.
He was hanging out in a bar when someone magical walked in: Not Jeff Jarrett, and not Willie Nelson. In walked a crackhead. He tried to sell everyone a car. Everyone ignored the guy except The Rock. He bought the car for $40. He started driving down the road, and he heard something in the back. Sleeping in the backseat was another crackhead.
He got the crackhead out, then realized maybe the car was stolen. So, Rock ditched the car at 2 a.m. and walked back to the bar.
The Rock says at 25, he took control of his life and had his first match at the Nashville Fairgrounds, all with a dream that he would be champion.
CM Punk interrupts and heads out with Paul Heyman in tow. Rock says the two had a love story earlier. Rock says he's gonna beat CM Punk's "punk ass" on Sunday, and he's gonna beat his punk ass tonight if he wants it.
Punk heads down to the ring. Rock is ready to go. Punk stops before getting closer. He shakes his head, then looks around. Punk looks like he's gonna split, then he breaks it into the ring. The two exchange blows, but Punk gets the better of Rock, until the spine buster. Rock goes for the People's Elbow, but Heyman grabs the leg and Rock trips. Punk hits GTS on Rocky, to a chorus of boos. The Rock is laid out.
Punk picks up the title belt and takes it with him as he heads out of the ring. Heyman cheers him on and says the title belongs to Punk. Punk takes a mic and says story time is over. "Every time you wanna bring it, because it belongs to me, I'm just gonna take it." He holds the WWE Title high as we come to a close for the night.
Elimination Chamber looks like a pretty solid pay-per-view on paper and should deliver. The build was average tonight, but they advanced some stories nicely.
Overall, not a terrible show, but we have seen better, and we have seen much worse.
That just about does it for me tonight, folks. Thanks for following along, and we'll see you next week!