Tonight, Raw comes to us from across the pond in Birmingham, England. Will AJ and John Cena continue to defend their relationship, or does Vickie have more incriminating evidence to prove guilt? Also, the teams are set for this month's Survivor Series between CM Punk and Ryback. Will these two teams square off?
They open with a video package. Part of the focus is the story between John Cena and AJ, the rest is the build up of Team Punk vs. Team Ryback. They show various video clips with voice-overs, ending with Vickie's laugh.
Backstage, Miz is with Paul Heyman. Miz asks what kind of leader abandons his team. Heyman tells him it's the art of war and that the rest of Team Punk needs to get on the same page with him. Miz tells Heyman that he doesn't need Punk, nor Heyman, and as far as Survivor Series is concerned, he quits. Heyman looks shocked.
Match #1: Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, and R-Truth vs. Prime Time Players and Antonio Cesaro
Mysterio is the only face who gets a televised entrance. The heel team all get entrances as JR and Cole point out the verbal battle back and forth between Cesaro and Truth. The babyface team controls the action in this one headed into commercial.
After commercial, the heels gain control. They work Mysterio over and make frequent tags. He tries to get a hot tag, but O'Neil keeps him from doing that. He gets his barking seal dog thing on.
Mysterio gets the better of the heels and hits a DDT on Cesaro. Rey gets the hot tag to Truth, who runs through his normal offense. He picks up Cesaro in a suplex then drops him on his shoulder. Neat move.
Sin Cara spins Cesaro around with a leg scissor and sets him up for the 619, Truth hits the Little Jimmy to pick up the win. Sin Cara and Mysterio taunt the Prime Time Players' "Millions of Dollars" dance afterward.
After the match the announcers talk about the Twitter war between John Cena and Vickie Guerrero.
Crowd seemed kind of flat, but they may just not have been mic'd up well. Nice opening match and refreshing to see Truth pull out some new offense.
Coming out of commercial they hype up the return of Jerry the King Lawler next Monday on Raw. They show shots around town in Birmingham and set up the reveal of more "evidence" of John Cena and AJ's affair. They recap last week's segment and Cole says Vickie and Dolph Ziggler have been pouring it on.
Justin Roberts introduces our "managing supervisor" to the ring to a hearty round of boos. She says she is proud of her accomplishments and she's thrilled AJ has resigned. She puts over all the evidence she revealed last week on Raw and says that she runs a "clean show." The fans taunt her until John Cena's music interrupts.
Cena comes to the ring and questions Vickie's desire to run a clean show. He recounts her being married to Edge and abusing her power to get him to be the World Heavyweight Championship. He says it's like him learning a new wrestling move - it's not going to happen.
Vickie gets upset and decides to present hotel security camera footage of AJ leaving her room and heading to another room. Cena mocks Vickie and calls her Encyclopedia Brown and says the video proves nothing.
Vickie goes on and says she has more footage from a different camera. It shows Cena in a bath towel putting the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. Cena points out the different camera angles and calls the footage bogus. He says Vickie is manipulating the truth. Vickie says Cena's lies are exhausting her and calls out AJ. The live crowd cheers and chants "We want AJ."
AJ appears on the tron, with a scowl. She says Vickie doesn't want her out there because she would beat Vickie and get fired and wouldn't be able to do what she loves to do. Dolph Ziggler walks into the frame and says "we all know what you love to do." Cena heads to the back while Vickie cackles.
Took the live crowd to make that watchable. The video footage doesn't put AJ and Cena in the same shot and the angle as a whole is just weak.
Cole hypes up a Hurricane Sandy relief fund "SandyNJReliefFund.org" coming out of commercial.
Paul Heyman is talking to someone off camera, saying that Miz is conniving and cowardly. The camera backs out a little and shows it's Wade Barrett. Heyman says that's why he needs someone like Barrett. Barrett says he refused last week and he's refusing again because he doesn't trust Heyman. Barrett starts to walk away but turns back, saying he's reconsidered and will join. He says it's on one condition that Heyman owes him, and Barrett wants that in writing.
Match #2 - Daniel Bryan (w/Kane) vs. Cody Rhodes (w/Damien Sandow)
The fans pop big for Bryan as they chant "yes, yes, yes!" for him. No heel entrances here.
Sandow sticks his nose in this match and attacks Kane. Daniel Bryan hits a dive to the outside on Sandow to take him out. Rhodes is able to hit Beautiful Disaster on Bryan from the apron then rolls Bryan in. He hits Cross Rhodes to get the win.
Afterward, Rhodes grabs a mic and says it was an impressive win. Rhodes says that Sandow could beat Kane just as easily. Kane walks over and grabs Sandow by the hair and drags him into the ring. Cole asks if this is a match as they go to break.
Match #3 - Kane (w/Daniel Bryan) vs. Damien Sandow (w/Cody Rhodes)
They join this one in progress. Sandow gets some spots but Kane keeps him in check. After Rhodes sticks his nose in, Bryan tries to help his teammate out. The official decides to send both Rhodes and Bryan to the back.
Sandow realizes he's alone now and begs off. Kane throws some hands and finishes him off with a chokeslam.
The fans were more into Bryan than Kane. They were flat for this, but it served its purpose fine enough.
Michael Cole introduces Brad Maddox as the man in the middle of a controversy. JR says he's anxious to hear this explanation of why he cost Ryback the WWE Championship.
Cole sets up a question to Brad Maddox about what happened at Hell in a Cell. He asks what Maddox told the board, and if he's working for Heyman and Punk. Maddox says it was all him and his plan.
Maddox says that all he ever wanted to be is a WWE superstar. The fans chant "feed me more" while he's talking. Maddox says he has tried to get his foot in the door to only have it closed in his face. He says he's sent in tapes to the front office, had tryout matches, and even paid for a tryout.
Maddox says that after all of that, he got a developmental contract. Maddox says he apparently isn't good enough. He asks if it's his height, size, or inability to flip three times and land on his feet. A "you can't wrestle" chant gets going, which was funny. Maddox says his dream didn't die when WWE officials said he wouldn't make it to the roster.
Maddox says he wants to be someone regardless how many people tell him he's nobody. He recalls vowing he would do what it takes to get to WWE and that's why he became an official. He recalls AJ offering him a job when Raw expanded to three hours. He needed one chance to make an impact and did so at Hell in a Cell. He admits what he did wasn't right, but it was all him.
Maddox says Punk was surprised as Ryback and the fans were. He says his actions were driven by his need to be someone and he's famous now. People know his name, even in England. He says his dream is to be a WWE superstar. Maddox says he wants a contract and a match with Ryback. No one will forget who Brad Maddox is.
Vince's music hits and the place goes crazy. He asks Maddox about his want of a contract and to face Ryback. He says it's one thing to want to be famous and another to have a death wish. Vince adds that he isn't buying it that Maddox acted alone and he is in with Punk and Heyman.
Vince says he'll give Maddox a million dollar contract if he beats Ryback on Raw next week. "Now get out of my ring." Vince tells him. Vince asks for the fans to bear with him and he goes back to get Vickie Guerrero. He asks her if it's okay to give Maddox a contract, and Vickie agrees. He leads her to say that she thinks Maddox is in with Punk and Heyman.
Vince asks Vickie why she wouldn't have Punk defend the WWE Championship at Survivor Series against...and she answers Dolph Ziggler. Vince gives her another attempt and leads her to the "man who got screwed over at Hell in a Cell.." and she answers Ryback. Vince says he knows Vickie doesn't think that's good enough. He says she thinks it would be a Triple Threat match and if she names Dolph to be the third man she'd be fired on the spot.
Vickie says "the man in question" is in a scandal right now and isn't the right person to be in the match. Vince points out that Cena stepped aside to give Ryback the title match at Hell in a Cell and fought Punk to a draw previously. Vickie gives in and says Cena will be the third man. Vince says Vickie doesn't always make popular decisions but at times, she does make the right ones.
Vince got a little cute with the Vickie angle. The fans didn't pop for the triple threat though even though they do seem hot for Ryback. Maddox's promo was really nothing special and he seemed uncomfortable on the mic.
Sheamus makes his entrance, glad handing with Vince first. Cole and JR say that Survivor Series is now in all sorts of disarray with what just happened. They go to break.
Match #4 - Sheamus vs. The Miz
Sheamus gets his entrance prior to the break, and Miz comes out after commercial. Cole and JR recap that Miz quit Team Punk. Here comes Big Show to watch the proceedings after Miz's entrance. Cole says Sheamus will get his rematch at Survivor Series.
Sheamus controls the early going in this one. Sheamus hits Miz across the chest with clubbing forearms, but gets distracted by Big Show. Show's distraction is enough to put Miz in control of the match heading into commercial.
After commercial, Miz is still in control. Show says he humbled and changed Sheamus by knocking him out. Sheamus starts to rally while Cole and Show bicker back and forth. JR is trying to call the match. Sheamus hits a battering ram for a near fall, but Miz counters back with a DDT for his own two count.
Sheamus avoids the Skull Crushing Finale and drops Miz with White Noise. The fans chant for the Brogue Kick and Sheamus beats his chest with them. Sheamus drops Miz with the Brogue Kick to win. Show stands up and holds the belt high to taunt Sheamus afterward.
I could buy Sheamus being bothered by losing the title if he actually acted the part. The match was good, but the fans don't buy into Miz being a threat when he faces a top guy like Sheamus. Not his fault, since he is positioned to lose so often.
Dolph is shown standing outside Vince's office. Vickie comes out and says that Dolph is now the leader of Punk's Survivor Series team. Dolph says 'it's about time' and Punk arrives. Punk says the only reason is that the "cranky old bastard is trying to screw me." Vickie then books the main event - CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler vs. Cena and Ryback. Neither Punk or Ziggler is happy.
Ross hypes this up, saying "we'll have it in it's entirety tonight..."
We get a teaser video for "Fandangoo". It features the words Fabulous, Angelic, Noble, Dapper, Astonishing, Naughty, Graceful, Opulent and Outstanding. A voiceover asks "do you mind if I cut in?"
Sheamus is with William Regal and they shake hands. Sheamus thanks Regal for his help from day one and he vows to get the World Heavyweight Championship back. They talk about sharing a pint later.
Cole resets the earlier events of the show with Vickie's reveal of more hard evidence of Cena's affair with AJ.
Match #5 - Eve (c) and Aksana vs. Kaitlyn and Layla
Eve and Aksana get their entrances before the break. Layla gets her entrance after the break as Cole and JR tell us she was born in England. Layla does her comedy "butt bump" into Aksana's face but the live crowd didn't care much.
Late, Kaitlyn hits a clothesline and a shoulder block on Eve. Each tag partner gets in but they clear the ring with their scrum. Kaitlyn hits a reverse DDT to get the win.
Polite applause, but the crowd was pretty dead for this.
Alberto Del Rio is chatting with Ricardo and is disgusted that the Survivor Series team is not called Team Del Rio. They bump into Rosa Mendes and have a brief moment there.
Match #6 - Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez)
They recap Del Rio and Orton brawling, or should I say food-fighting, on Smackdown. Del Rio throws Kingston into the security railing then tosses him back in.
Del Rio teases the Cross Arm Breaker but Kofi counters to the SOS for a good near fall. Kofi tries a cross body block but misses. Del Rio calls for the Cross Arm Breaker again but Orton's music hits. Del Rio's distracted by that, which allows Kofi to roll Del Rio up for the win.
Afterward, Orton hits the ring while Del Rio is glaring up the ramp at Kofi. Del Rio turns around into the RKO.
A decent match that puts heat on the Orton/Del Rio match tomorrow night and gives Kofi a win.
They recap the promo by Brad Maddox and Vince's response by offering a million-dollar contract if he beats Ryback next week.
Match #7 - Zack Ryder and Santino Marella vs. Epico and Primo (w/Rosa Mendes)
Cole puts over Jerry Lawler's return and says that he would understand everything Rosa says.
Late in this one, Ryder takes out Primo as Santino sets up the Cobra. He hits the Cobra on Epico to pick up the win. The comedy pair celebrate in the ring.
Rosa got more love in one night than she has since the TMZ incident earlier this year. Standard tag match, nothing to write home about.
Match #8 - Brodus Clay (w/Cameron and Naomi) vs. Wade Barrett
Clay gets his full dancing entrance. Barrett gets a nice reaction from the local fans and that positive reaction seems to stick throughout. Cameron and Naomi actually cover their ears so they don't hear the boos.
Barrett hits a nice swinging side slam on Clay, then finishes him off with the Souvenir Elbow.
Barrett got a nice "hometown" reaction. He seems to have gotten beyond the post-Nexus losing streak now. He's over but he needs to develop his character some more.
The announcers hype up Jerry Lawler's return to TV next week.
Match #9 - Heath Slater (w/Jinder Mahal) vs. Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso)
Cole points out that Drew McIntryre is not along for this match. The Usos come out to virtually no reaction.
Late in this one, Jey tries a Superfly Splash but Heath gets his knees up. Slater comes back after that with the Smash Hit DDT to get the win.
The crowd was dead quiet for this one. 3MB is definitely more over than the Usos but it's not like the Usos get much love on Raw at all.
The announcers hype up WWE 13 for us.
Match #10 - CM Punk (c, w/Paul Heyman) and Dolph Ziggler vs. Ryback and John Cena
Punk and Heyman come out first. Cole points out that Punk is going to tie Diesel's reign next Monday for 9th longest reign in history. JR says that it could be the last Raw that Punk will hold on to the title because of the triple threat set up for Survivor Series.
Punk gets on the mic and says that he was falsely accused of having Brad Maddox help him at Hell in a Cell. Punk calls Maddox a "rogue referee". Punk talks about how he's set the bar at an unattainable level during his 351-day reign. He promises that he will celebrate being champion 364 days at Survivor Series. Dolph comes out next without Vickie.
The announcers hype up the current pay per view lineup and asks who will replace Ryback on Team Foley. Cena comes out next to a strong negative reaction. Ryback comes out last to a good face reaction. Cole talks about how Ryback has been a loner to this point but tonight's his first tag match. JR asks if he and Cena can coexist.
JR points out that this is Cena's first (televised) match in seven weeks. Cena and Punk start the match off. The heel team isolates Cena in the early going. Cena hits an AA on Punk and tries to crawl to his corner, but Punk was able to get the tag first and Ziggler keeps Cena from getting to Ryback.
Ziggler hits the Fameasser for two. He complains to the referee about that then tags in Punk. You can hear a brief "Feed me more" chant.
Cena hits an electric chair move that enables him to get the hot tag to Ryback. Ryback goes on offense from go, dropping Punk then taking out Ziggler. He press slams Ziggler onto Punk, then clears Ziggler out of the ring after a vicious whip to the corner. The 'feed me more' chant grows.
Ryback hits his Meathook clothesline on Punk the delivers ShellShocked to get the clean win. Cena, who sold at ringside during Ryback's offense, peeks up over the apron with a surprised look. Cena makes his way back into the ring as Ryback leads the "feed me more" chant with the fans. Cena and Ryback stare at each other as the show ends.
A good main event. JR did a good job of putting over Cena's return to the ring from injury, which made it seem right for Cena to be the one selling most of the heel offense throughout the match. It built right up to a good hot-tag moment to unleash Ryback and kept him from being too exposed.
The hot Birmingham crowd (when they were given something to really care about) really helped keep this show moving for me. Don't get me wrong - three hours is still a lot of show to watch and recap, but when the crowd is into it, that helps move things along.
I like the changes they made to Survivor Series and I think this looks a little better than the initial setup last week. Let's see how it all plays out.
I'll have much more to say on this show tomorrow night in Raw Afterthoughts. Thanks for watching along with me tonight.