Survivor Series comes up later this month, and now it looks like there's a fight for survival brewing. Daniel Bryan was unsuccessful in his bid for the WWE Championship inside Hell in a Cell because of his mentor, Shawn Michaels, hitting him with a superkick. Last week, the Wyatt Family attacked him and said "The Devil made me do it." Who is behind all of this?
CM Punk seems to be transitioning away from Paul Heyman, looking like he might be joining forces with Bryan to face the Wyatts as well. The Family attacked him after he defeated Ryback in a street fight, with Bray again saying the Devil made him do it.
But the big question is where does WWE Champion Randy Orton go from here? Big Show attacked him last Monday, but Triple H later in the week banned Show from WWE. What happens next in the title picture?
Show Open, Live from Greenville, SC at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena
Michael Cole welcomes us in, then CM Punk's music hits to a rousing ovation...it's clobbering time!
Match #1 - CM Punk vs. Luke Harper (w/Erik Rowan and Bray Wyatt)
Cole hypes up CM Punk's title reign of 434 days, then feeds it into a video recap of the attack by Rowan and Harper of the Wyatts. Cole says that there are still no answers to why they did what they did. They run the Wyatt entrance and JBL puts it over as "good for business." As the Wyatts make their entrance, they recap the Wyatt attack on Daniel Bryan.
Wyatt takes his seat at ringside and Harper gets in the ring. Punk tries to get a fast start but takes a couple of big right hands. Punk fires back with some kicks and strikes but takes another big shot from Harper.
Punk flips Harper out of the ring and tries a suicide dive. He eats a forearm for his troubles which results in a two count, then takes a slam and an elbow drop. Harper lets out a yell of some sort then controls Punk with a gator roll.
Punk takes a hard whip to the corner but ducks out of the way of a big boot. Harper rolls to ringside at the announce position. Punk hits him with a suicide dive and Rowan comes around to check things out as we go to break.
Harper controls Punk as Cole fills us in on what happened via the app - namely a big boot by Harper. Harper slingshots Punk in the ropes while the announcers rant about Rowan and Wyatt being distractions to Punk. Another gator roll from Harper, but Punk starts to create some separation with a tornado DDT.
A strike exchange starts, with Punk hitting a leg lariat and a swinging neckbreaker. He hits the high running knee and a clothesline, but instead of the Macho Elbow he hits Rowan with a splash. Punk tries a springboard move but gets a big boot. Harper sets up for a discus clothesline, but Punk counters with a roll-up for the win.
Afterward, Rowan hits the ring and the two monsters pair up on Punk. The fans chant "Yes", hoping for Daniel Bryan to appear. As Wyatt comes to the ring, Bryan charges, shoulder wrapped up. He takes chair shots at the Wyatts, but gets caught by Bray. Punk saves him with the chair, with Harper taking a couple shots. The Wyatts clear, and Punk and Bryan stand tall.
This was a decent opening, and the fans got to see Bryan make the save which seemed to be what they wanted with the "Yes!" chants. I wonder, will we get a standard tag match or a traditional Survivor Series match with these guys?
Cole talks about what happened with Big Show being banned. He feeds it into a video of the interview, with Triple H calling Show's lawsuit "frivolous" and David Otunga's legal opinion "irrelevant." He says Big Show is banned. They show a recap of Big Show knocking out Triple H several weeks ago.
Inconsistencies galore here - as Big Show is not supposed to be Big Show anymore, but instead Paul Wight. And Show is prominently advertised by WWE for the Europe tour.
Cole hypes up voting for Randy Orton's opponent on the app, and King hypes up Cena, Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. Damien Sandow and the Real Americans for later.
Cole feeds it into a recap of the after-match shenanigans between Punk, Bryan, and the Wyatts.
CM Punk is with Renee Young. She asks if he expected a fair fight tonight. He says he has dealt with Heyman and his goons so he knows what it's like to be outnumbered. He says that what no one realized, nor did he realize, is that he isn't the only one with a problem with the Wyatts.
Cole tells us that we've not heard from Heyman since Hell in a Cell. He patches in the phone, and Heyman says he has been traveling Europe with his doctor, looking for alternative treatment. He lists his injuries and says it's a travesty for him as a father and husband. He calls Punk's post-match assault inexcusable and Punk and the fans owe him an apology.
Cole asks if he's crying, and Heyman hangs up.
Match #2 - Ryback vs. Great Khali (w/Hornswoggle and Santino Marella)
As Ryback makes his entrance, he feeds it to a clip from the App to show how the match got set up. Ryback bullied Hornswoggle, and Santino made the match. Oh joy. Ryback waits for Khali in the ring as we go to break.
Khali controls the early going, throwing Ryback down and hitting him with elbows in the corner. Khali slaps him on the chest in another corner. The announcers talk about Khali-flower ear as the clubbing, slow action continues.
Ryback explodes with one move, a meathook clothesline, to get the win. Afterward, he pulls Santino out of the ring. Hornswoggle tries to kick Ryback, but runs. Santino eats the barricade, then Ryback says he rules.
Cole talks about Big Show being banned for life, but has filed a lawsuit. As they run a replay of Show interfering in the tag team championship match, JBL rants that Show should be locked up and what he did was criminal. Later, we'll hear more of his case against Triple H, Stephanie, and the Authority.
Match #3 - Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio
Kofi Kingston gets his entrance to a nice reaction going into the break. Del Rio is waving his Mexican flag as we come out of break as he finishes his entrance. Del Rio assaults Kofi from go.
Kofi hits a back elbow and clotheslines Del Rio out of the ring. He air-mails a plancha dive but Del Rio sells it anyhow. Kofi tries a kick in the corner after avoiding a charge, but Del Rio counters that and hits a stomp then throws some strikes.
A bit later, Del Rio hits a big German suplex for two. Kofi gets a roll-up for two, but Del Rio follows with a backbreaker for two. Del Rio goes back to a chinlock as a rest hold. Del Rio hits a series of headbutts then tries an ensugiri but misses. Kofi hits a cross body for a good near fall.
Kofi counters a charge by getting his feet up, then hits a springboard cross body. He fires up and hits some offense, but Del Rio kicks him in the midsection. Kofi rolls Del Rio up for two, but Del Rio comes back with the Cross Arm Breaker for the submission win. Del Rio celebrates as the announcers recap it.
I'd love to see Kofi doing more, but it was sensible that he lost here. However, Kofi should not have gotten so much offense in. It's hard enough to believe Del Rio will beat Cena and having him work competitively with Kingston doesn't help.
Cole talks about JBL defending the ban of Big Show, then feeds it into a video package that highlights the various claims Big Show has against WWE. JBL scoffs at the evidence but King says it's sound.
They feed it into hype for the App. They show various features regarding Twitter and match action during the show. Cole shills the poll for Randy Orton's opponent in the upcoming match - you can choose between Dolph Ziggler, Big E Langston, and The Miz.
Match #4 - Randy Orton vs. Big E. Langston
Before King can announce the result of the poll, Orton cuts a short promo. He asks if the fans think they're empowered. Orton tells the fans to look to their left or right.
He says it might be a wife, girlfriend or mother, and that the ladies fantasize about waking up to him and that draws some squeals. He goes on to say the men will never measure up to half the man he is, and he is the face of WWE. He says the only thing the fans decided is who the next victim is. He turns it over to Lawler to find out who the opponent is and Langston won in a landslide.
Langston powers Orton around in the early going. He hits a shoulder block that takes him down. Orton regroups outside the ring. A bit later, Orton hits a drop kick on Langston and tries for the elevated DDT, but Langston powers out. He shoulder blocks Orton to ringside going to commercial.
Out of break, Langston fires off punches in the corner. He continues to control the offense even outside of the ring. He sets Orton up for a charge on the apron, but Orton moves and Langston crashes and burns. He gets a two count as things move back in the ring, then hits a couple stomps.
Langston gives Orton a spear in the corner then sets up for a big clothesline. He hits a couple then a big belly to belly suplex and a big splash that gets a near fall. Orton throws Langston into the corner post then hits his elevated DDT. Orton surveys the crowd and plays to them a bit then hits his Viper Pose. He took too long.
Langston hits a big block on Orton then sets up for the Big Ending. Orton slips out and hits the RKO. He poses over Langston then on the ropes as the announcers say that Orton hasn't seen the last of Langston. They run through some highlights.
A good showing for Langston, despite the loss. The live crowd didn't buy in much, which may or may not have helped his cause as he gets built up.
Cole talks about Orton being knocked out by Big Show last Monday. He says this was the last straw for Triple H and feeds it into the video of the sit-down interview on Wednesday. "As of this moment, the Big Show is banned from WWE for life."
JBL says he's surprised Triple H didn't do it sooner. He feeds it to a recap of Brad Maddox getting knocked out on Smackdow and Show arriving in a tractor trailer during the contract signing between Bryan and Orton on Raw.
They change gears to talk about WWE2K14 as "the hottest selling game in the land" and hype a poll of what title change simulation was the biggest, and it was Rock vs. John Cena.
Match #5 - Fandango and Summer Rae vs. Tyson Kidd and Natalya
Fandango and Summer Rae dance out before the break, and Kidd and Natalya come out after. They run highlights of Total Divas where Kidd and Natalya got married.
Kidd and Fandango start. They work some basic offense before the ladies tag in. Summer and Natty trash talk, and Summer slaps her. Natty sells for a big before tagging in Kidd again. Kidd runs offense on Fandango, getting the better of him. He hits a big running knee from the apron.
Kidd teases going to the top but Summer distracts him, and Fandango trips him down on the apron. Fandango throws Kidd in and teases the top rope leg drop, but Kidd counters and locks on the Sharpshooter. Natty keeps Summer from interfering for Kidd to get the win.
Decent enough match but felt rather random. Kidd looks healthy after his knee surgeries. Cole is so half-assed at the announce position when he gives hype to something.
Renee Young interviews Damien Sandow. She says he is the second to cash in Money in the Bank and fail. She feeds it first into a recap of him cashing in and failing to win the World Heavyweight Championship last Monday against John Cena. She asks him for his thoughts.
Sandow says that when a man is stripped of everything, he has to look to himself. He says he's not the intellectual savior of the masses, but instead a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
Zeb Colter and The Real Americans enter. Zeb says that this is an opportunity for the three to beat both the World Heavyweight Champion and the Tag Team Champions. He highlights that it's a chance for his team to show their dominance. He leads his men to say "We the People" and Sandow closes with "Me, the uncrowned World Heavyweight Champion."
John Cena's music hits and he gets his mixed reaction. He says that the fans are excited tonight and in a moment his championship partners will join him. He takes a detour to talk about the Komen foundation fundraiser. He talks about how the pink gear will continue to be available for the rest of the year and funds will go to the Komen Foundation. He taes a moment to point out and celebrate cancer survivors in the crowd.
He thanks the fans for supporting the cause and says the best way to say thank you is to get his partners down there and do what they do, and show why "the champs...are...here!" Brothers Rhodes make their entrance.
Match #6 - John Cena, Goldust and Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow and The Real Americans (w/Zeb Colter)
The opposition made their entrance during the break. Sandow and Cena start off, and Cena tags out to Cody. Del Rio has joined the announce position, and he and Zeb Colter bicker at ringside. Goldust gets a blind tag and hits a big drop kick on Swagger. Colter complains about Cena getting a title shot after being out with injury and calls him an "American in name only."
Do they really need BOTH Colter and Del Rio on commentary for this one? Ugh!
After break, Cena takes a hard uppercut from Cesaro, then a Vader Bomb from Swagger. Cena is able to counter Sandow off the tag and hit a neckbreaker, and Swagger tags in. Cena continues to sell for the heels.
Cena tries to power out of a front facelock, but ends up in the Patriot Lock. Cena tumbles out and sends Swagger to the friendly corner. Swagger hits a big clothesline then tags in Cesaro. Cesaro hits another uppercut as Cena continues to sell.
Cena hits a huracanrana (that's admittedly ugly) and tries to get a tag. Sandow tags in and goes for the bad arm then controls Cena with a side headlock. Cena powers Sandow up for the AA but Sandow counters out and hits a version of the Edgecution for two. Sandow continues to control the offense. Cena hits a backbreaker off his shoulder to get the hot tag to Goldust.
Goldust fires up and runs through offense on Cesaro. He hits an atomic drop and runs some other offense on Cesaro. Cody takes Swagger out with the Disaster Kick, then Cena hits him with the AA. The four "illegal" men end up outside the ring.
Cesaro does the big swing on Goldust. Goldust rolls out, and Cesaro gives chase. Cesaro decides to charge at Cena, but Cena moves and Cesaro takes out Colter. In the ring, Sandow takes a moonsault from Cody, and Cena hits Cesaro with a cross body block. Goldust follows up with the Final Cut to get the win.
Swagger and Cesaro tend to Colter, and Del Rio glares at Cena. The faces celebrate in the ring and pose with their titles.
A fun crowd pleaser with some high spots at the end. Del Rio clowned on commentary then tried to get mean and that just didn't sell with me. It's clear WWE has no idea where to go with Sandow coming out of last Monday's effort.
Cole mentions JBL speaking in terms of "propaganda" all night long. Cole feeds it back into the earlier video package of Big Show's claims against WWE.
We get a shot of Big Show walking down a hall, greeting various superstars. JBL is shocked. Elsewhere, Vickie enters Triple H's office and tells him that she saw Big Show. Triple H flakes out, and is about to chew Vickie out when Stephanie walks in and says she let Big Show in.
She tells Triple H that she invited him to Raw because the board demanded that he be there. She says that the board doesn't want to take risks with Show's lawsuit. Triple H gets upset and says he doesn't care what they said, it's what he said. Stephanie says this isn't about them, but is about WWE.
She says "we can't afford to take any risks, specifically as it relates to personal business." Hunter mocks and says the McMahon personal business comes into play again. She says that Triple H had no problem taking McMahon Family Money.
She tells Triple H that the boad is demanding they settle the suit with Big Show without lawyers being involved. She says she was forced by the board to invite Big Show to Raw and apologizes for not having the chance to call him. Triple H sends Vickie to find Show and have him come to his office.
A new ironclad contract coming? Ugh.
Match #7 - Dolph Ziggler vs. Curtis Axel
Cole says this will be an interesting test for Axel tonight. He recounts the interview with Paul Heyman from earlier and lists all of his injuries as the match gets underway. Ziggler controls Axel with a hammerlock but Axel fires back with strikes and a shoulder tackle.
Axel dodges a corner charge, then pulls Ziggler down from the second rope. Ziggler takes a good back bump. Late, Ziggler hits the Fameasser for two, then comes back a little bit later with the Zig Zag to get the win.
The announcers spent more time talking about Paul Heyman's injuries than they did the match. The match was alright. I feel for how far Ziggler has fallen, whether of his own actions or not.
They recap Punk and Bryan's encounter with the Wyatt Family earlier in the show.
Renee Young plays Stalker and pops up on Daniel Bryan. She asks him about the Wyatt Family situation. He says he saw an opportunity for payback for last week's attack and he took it. "And it looks like there's someone else who has an issue with the Wyatt Family."
Triple H tells Stephanie that if they write a big enough check, the lawsuit will go away. Vickie appears, and she says Big Show is willing to meet them. Triple H and Stephanie smile, but Stephanie says for her to go tell Big Show to be a man and come to the office. Vickie says that Show is willing to meet them in the ring. The Power Couple rolls their eyes, then Hunter says that he wants witnesses.
So, millions of television viewers isn't good enough, but the fine folks of Greenville, SC are?
Match #8 - The Usos vs. 3MB (Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre w/Jinder Mahal)
Not much to this one. I honestly got a bit distracted. Slater ends up leaping into a superkick, then taking a top rope splash for the Usos to get the win. They dance in the ring afterward.
Match #9 - The Bella Twins and Eva Marie vs. AJ, Tamina, and Aksana
AJ is skipping around the ring as we come out of break. Bellas came out before the break. The heels control Nikki in the early going, with AJ getting a nice pop from the fans as she tags in.
Brie gets the tag for the faces, and she goes on a run, taking out AJ and taking the fight to Tamina. Tamina crashes into Aksana to knock her off the apron. Brie hits a drop kick from the second rope. Tamina hits her with a big boot and tries the superfly splash but Brie moves.
In the end, Eva Marie tags herself in and gets a roll-up to get the win for the faces. They celebrate on the ramp while AJ coddles her title belt.
So bad girl Eva Marie turned face because the Bellas turned? OK. Confusing enough. And she pinned Tamina. Maybe this is a setup for Tamina to get hers on Eva.
We get a shot of Triple H and Stephanie heading to the ring. They will meet with Big Show, next.
They hype Daniel Bryan to face Luke Harper on Smackdown.
Triple H's "King of Kings" theme hits and the couple comes to the ring. Cole says that the Board has ordered this to be settled tonight, without attorneys involved. JBL says the Board is wrong and Triple H will do what is best for business.
Triple H says that since Big Show wants to make this all about him and he can come on out. A short pause that Stephanie fills by repeating the request and Show comes out smiling, dressed in a suit and tie. Triple H is not happy by the look on his face. King says Show has the upper hand.
Stephanie says they've agreed to settle, just the three of them with no lawyers. She asks what he wants. Show ponders and says that he wants a broom so Stephanie can hop on and fly back to Connecticut. That draws an "ooh" from the fans. Triple H steps up and says he can trade sophomoric barbs with the best of them and asks Big Show how many zeros he as to write to make this go away.
Show says it's not about money and he doesn't have money problems since he doesn't have money. He simply says he wants his job back. Triple H mocks it and rants, saying that he can take his job and...Stephanie stops him from finishing.
Stephanie asks if he wants his job back, and agrees to give him his job back. He starts a "yes!" chant. Show says that there is just one little thing - he wants the World's Biggest Bonus. Triple H gets a bit irritated again and Show says it's not about the money.
Show says that it's not about the money, and he wants something that he hasn't had. He says he has been with the company 18 years, and he has never been the face of the company. Stephanie goes on a rant and asks him if he has looked in the mirror lately. She gets worked up and Triple H pulls her away.
The Shield's music hits. Show asks if this is a set-up all along and if Triple H knows what's at stake here. Commercial.
As the show comes back, The Shield is standing at ringside. Triple H is leaning back against the ropes and asks if Show was saying something. Show says that he wants a title shot at Survivor Series. Triple H says that he got his job back and he's lucky for it. He tells Show to get out of the ring before he leaves him in a puddle of his own blood. Show asks if that is his final answer, and Triple H says "absolutely."
Show goes to leave, and says that it was a pleasure doing business with them. His attorney will be contacting the board of directors in the morning and he'll get to the business of owning everyone. Triple H tells Show to wait, after pacing.
Triple H tells Show he has his match. Show turns around and smiles, and asks what Triple H said. He makes his way back to the ring and asks Triple H to repeat that statement. H mumbles again. Show asks the fans if they heard it and talks about Stephanie slapping him affecting his hearing. Show asks him to try one more time in a clear, coherent voice. Triple H repeats it, saying "you've got your job back, you have a WWE Championship match against Randy Orton at Survivor Series."
Big Show asks to shake hands on it, but Triple H instead books a handicap match between Big Show and Randy Orton and The Shield. That starts right now, and Show takes off the jacket and tie.
Match #10 - Big Show vs. Randy Orton and The Shield
Show gets an early flurry but the numbers are too much. Reigns hits a spear to get Show down. They set up the triple powerbomb, but Show powers out of that. He hits a choke slam on Reigns to gain some space, but again the numbers are too much. Eventually, Show gets it down to him and Orton, and sets up the chokeslam, but Ambrose clips him.
Kane's music hits and he walks to ringside in a suit and tie to join Triple H and Stephanie. Orton tries for the RKO but gets shoved away. The Shield rejoins the fray again, and this time the numbers are too much. Orton hits the RKO to take Show down. Orton calls for chairs after hitting the RKO, and Kane obliges, throwing in chairs. The match ends as a no-contest, but the beating continues.
The Shield and Orton beat on Show with chairs, then drag him outside. Reigns hits Show with the stair base, then the Shield teams up to hit the triple powerbomb through the announce position. Orton screams for his title belt, then taunts Show and says he should have stayed gone. The cameras focus on Triple H as the show ends.
Just...wow. If you were expecting a more immediate response, I apologize but I needed a minute to think about this show.
If the goal was to make me not care about the product, and not care about Survivor Series, then WWE accomplished that goal. I have to admit, Kane coming out in a suit and tie was interesting as to where that might lead. But this show was just dull, and bad.
Survivor Series is in a few short weeks and we saw no hype whatsoever for that. It's a "Big 4" event and we got next to nothing. Perhaps that will change next week. But this title match...man...it's 2013, I just don't care to see Big Show vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship.
I was wondering if this show would ever end. It just could NOT end fast enough for me tonight. This closing segment was absolutely stupid, then the beatdown that came on its heels was idiotic. What about getting things in writing before the gang attack? I gotta say it - this story is so bad that I am actually embarrassed at the moment for WWE.
Maybe they'll pull a rabbit out of the hat. But they had something that showed so much promise back in August, and it disintegrated to what we just saw tonight. Just...wow.
Believe me, much, MUCH more to come in Raw Afterthoughts tomorrow night. Thanks for following along. Join in the conversation on Twitter as well!