We said goodbye to our old friend Paul Bearer last Monday night. In the middle of all of that though, CM Punk said "ain't nobody got time fo' dat!" and interrupted Undertaker's tribute moment. Punk, needless to say, got himself some serious heat for making that interruption.
Later in the night, he would face Kane and take the loss, but get the better of the moment by taking the urn and mocking the Undertaker's pose. What will Punk do now? Will he hold the urn captive 'til Mania? Will Undertaker respond in words this time?
And tonight, Triple H is set to respond to Brock Lesnar's proposal: He'll fight at Mania, but only if Trips enters into a contract with a blind stipulation. Will Trips do it? How does that powder keg erupt tonight?
We get video packages to recap the Triple H/Brock Lesnar feud over the past couple weeks, then they switch gears to highlight CM Punk's attack and interruptions of the tribute to Paul Bearer by the Undertaker and Kane.
John Cena's music hits and he comes out to a strongly mixed reaction. Cole and Lawler check in and Cole tells us there are over 15,000 fans in the building.
The music stops and Cena gets more boos than cheers. He says there are some Rock fans in the building, and he gets a mixed response. Cena says there are folks riding with either him or The Rock.
Cena says the fans have 20 days to pick a side. He talks about people who haven't given up on him. He says he won't call a victory but he is focused and ready for WrestleMania.
The Primetime Players interrupt. Titus is dressed in coveralls and an afro wig, and Darren is in gear to wrestle. O'Neil says he's actually Rufus "Pancake" Patterson, the uncle of Young. He says he's called Pancake because he flattens dudes.
Cena talks about being in Pittsburgh, the home of the vaunted Steelers and Penguins to get an easy pop. He says there's doctors who work with split personalities and he can get Rufus medication. The fans didn't care too much but the Players claimed the fans wanted more.
Rufus says his nephew should be on the cover of Cocoa Pebbles. He says he'd take on Cena, but his gout is flaring up and he's due a Social Security check to go play bingo.
Titus sends Young to face Cena, and Young agrees. Cena tells Young to step in the ring and find out what it is to be ready for the main event of WrestleMania.
Match #1 - John Cena vs. Darren Young (w/"Rufus 'Pancake' Patterson")
This is all Cena from start to finish. He roughs up Young, and Young rolls out to regroup before the break.
After commercial, Cena runs through his trademark offense, with the shoulder blocks, side slam, and "You Can't See Me" before the Five Knuckle. Cena loads and hits the AA to finish him off. Cena celebrates in the ring as Cole and King put over the match between Cena and Rock at WrestleMania.
Nothing much to see here - just basically hyped up the Cena/Rock title match and give Cena an easy win.
At the announce position, King and Cole recap the situation with Undertaker and Punk from last week. They feed it to a highlight package featuring the exchange between Ryback, Mark Henry, and The Shield from Smackdown. They show Ryback walking to the ring to face David Otunga, after the break.
Match #2 - David Otunga vs. Ryback
Otunga is posing in the ring after commercial, and Ryback's music hits to a decent reaction.
This one is all Ryback from start to finish. Otunga gets a small hope spot, but Ryback hits the Meathook Clothesline, then follows with Shellshocked for the win.
Afterward, Ryback talks about the six-man match with Randy Orton and Sheamus. He says the three of them will tear The Shield apart. Ryback addresses Mark Henry and says their paths will cross again and it will be feeding time.
Mark Henry's music hits and he comes out to the stage. He and Ryback exchange glares and he starts to walk toward the ring but Vickie and Teddy Long stop him.
Vickie tells Ryback she took him out of the six-man tag. She says if he wants to be at WrestleMania, it will be against Mark Henry one-on-one. A "feed me more" chant gets going while Ryback and Henry glare at each other. Ryback hits another Shellshocked on Otunga for good measure.
The predictable switch. This was a hard way to get there though which I don't really get. But now, assume Big Show gets inserted into the six-man tag.
Lawler hypes up the contract signing between Triple H and Brock Lesnar, with Triple H being forced to sign without knowing the match stipulation.
They show a Fandango vignette, and he's to debut, next.
Match #3 - Great Khali (w/Natalya) vs. Fandango
Fandango comes out with his dancing lady and does his entrance. Khali follows with Natalya. The dancing girl makes her way to ringside. They run through highlights of the (awful) segment of Khali trying to pronounce "Fandango."
Fandango says since Khali can't do it, they should give the "beautiful, sensual, slice of Canadian Heaven, Natalya" to give it a try. She teases it, but tells Khali to get him. Fandango flees.
He says that tonight was the night we almost got to see the debut of Fandango. Pittsburgh showers him with "you can't wrestle" chants.
Rinse and repeat for WWE introducing new characters. They need to turn the page here and move on.
I'm bored in the early going...this show is already dragging.
The announcers hype up Wade Barrett vs. Chris Jericho vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship later.
Cole plugs Brock Lesnar appearing in Muscle and Fitness magazine this month.
Match #4 - R-Truth vs. Damien Sandow
Sandow cuts a promo making reference to Henry David Thoreau. Truth makes up a poem of his own that ends with Truth saying "You gonna get got!" After some back and forth, Sandow hits the Cobiteau A'Quiette. Truth hits the Lie Detector and Sandow has had enough. He walks out for the count-out loss.
Wow. This show is sucking.
The Bella Twins are hanging all over Cody and oohing about his mustache. Kaitlyn walks in and tells him they won't be hanging out later and he can have them.
They show highlights of what went down at the end of Raw between CM Punk and Undertaker. Undertaker's music hits and he makes his entrance to a good reaction.
Taker gets a mic and says Punk sealed his own fate when he decided to make this personal. "There is no escaping what will happen to you at WrestleMania." Taker says he's going to hurt Punk and hurt him bad. Taker says he wants the urn back. A fake Paul Bearer voice can be heard as Taker goes to leave the ring.
Punk appears on the screen and can be seen mouthing the Bearer impersonation. He apologizes for not hitting the high notes. Punk starts juggling the urn around and says that even a count out or DQ will count as a loss for Undertaker.
Punk says he doesn't answer to a higher power because he is the higher power. He is willing to walk through hell and endure whatever pain Taker sees fit to inflict. "I will beat the Streak. I am the one who is going to end your undefeated streak at WrestleMania. I am the one in 20-1." Punk juggles the urn and drops it. He picks it up and says the top nearly popped off. He reiterates no disrespect intended.
Wow. Wonder what the plan was before Paul Bearer's passing? They're already playing the "lose by DQ or count-out" card. Punk isn't looking like a real threat now...it's all about paying to see Taker get his hands on Punk. They may have gone there eventually, but it takes the edge off the match.
Cole talks over a graphic showing the five WWE Hall of Famers. They show a recap of what just happened with Punk dropping the urn.
Match #5 - Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane) vs. Epico and Primo (w/Rosa Mendes)
Kane starts, but Bryan tags himself in. He sells for the opposition early to little fan reaction. We get a pop though when Kane gets the hot tag. He controls the action for a bit.
AJ's music hits and she comes out to skip around the ring. Primo and Epico get a minor advantage but Bryan and Kane come back and Kane hits the chokeslam to win.
I guess the point of that was to establish Dolph and Big E vs. Team Hell No? This is a rumored undercard match for Mania...
Josh Matthews interviews Chris Jericho. Jericho boasts over his Intercontinental title runs. He talks about holding the title going into WrestleMania. Fandango walks in and says his name. Jericho runs through a bunch of mocking names. Fandango gets upset and says "Christopher" will learn to pronounce his name properly. Jericho begs him to not leave because he didn't get his movie tickets yet.
This is another rumored Mania match so it looks like they're bringing these two guys together this way. Jericho was spirited and fun, which this show just simply has NOT been.
They show a recap video of a trip to Rwanda that Alicia Fox and Natalya took to help promote the "Nothing But Nets" charity that provides netting to protect from disease-spreading mosquitoes.
Match #6 - Cody Rhodes vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez)
They show highlights from Main Event where Jack Swagger attacked Del Rio and went after his knee. Cody gets a lot of the offense in the early going. Del Rio hits a low dropkick and knocks him off the apron going into commercial.
In the end, Alberto is able to get the Cross Arm Breaker locked on to get the submission win.
Afterward, Del Rio celebrates but Jack Swagger attacks from behind and beats Del Rio down in the corner. Ricardo hits the ring and tries to save him, but Swagger disposes of him quickly. That gives Del Rio a chance to recover and he exchanges hands with Swagger.
The two end up brawling to ringside, where Swagger eats the timekeeper's barrier. Zeb is standing nearby yelling encouragement, which draws Del Rio's attention. Del Rio gets him by the vest and Swagger hits Del Rio from behind. "Get him, Jack, he laid his hands on me." Colter says.
Swagger throws Del Rio into the ring post then over the announce position. He leaves with Colter, then spies Ricardo. Colter points at him and Jack goes back and locks on the Patriot Lock. Colter encourages him to break Ricardo's ankle, and Swagger wrenches in hard to do just that. Ricardo screams in pain.
Ricardo was actually the star of that otherwise lame segment.
The announcers recap what just happened, with footage from Raw Active from during the break.
They set up a video introducing Booker T as another Hall of Fame class inductee for 2013. The video highlights all of his work in WCW as well as WWE.
A good highlight video and a worthy induction. They nearly included the infamous Hogan promo "slip-up" in WCW. Glad to see this induction, if not a bit surprised they added him to a loaded class.
Randy Orton makes his entrance for the tag match coming up.
Match #7 - Randy Orton and Sheamus vs. Heath Slater and Drew McIntryre (w/Jinder Mahal)
Sheamus sells a bit early, but it doesn't last. He gets the hot tag to Orton and he runs through his trademark offense. In the end, Sheamus takes out Mahal and McIntryre with Brogue Kicks and Slater eats the RKO for the win.
Afterward, The Shield's music hits and they come through the crowd. They surround the ring and Big Show's music hits. He jogs to the ring and joins the face pair in the ring. The Shield teases getting in the ring but eventually backs off through the crowd. Show points at the WrestleMania sign and leaves.
Simple, yet effective, setup to get the three of them together to face The Shield. It's a nice touch that the Shield backed off too - builds a bit of hype into the match and makes it feel more important.
The announcers set up a trailer for GI Joe: Retaliation. They also tease the Brock Lesnar/Triple H contract signing for later.
They air a hype video for WrestleMania, which is 20 days out.
Match #8 - Kofi Kingston vs Dolph Ziggler (w/AJ and Big E Langston)
Cole reminds us that Dolph has until Money in the Bank in July to cash in the briefcase he is carrying around with him.
Late in this one, Kingston goes on an offensive run. He goes for a spring move off the apron, but while AJ has the official distracted, Big E hits Kingston in mid-air. Ziggler's able to hit the Zig Zag to get the win with the assist.
Afterward, Kane's music hits and he and Daniel Bryan come to the stage. Bryan congratulates Ziggler for being the only person who could get Kane and Bryan on the same page. Kane says everyone has seen what Langston can do outside the ring, but he wants to see what he can do in the ring.
Kane challenges Ziggler and Langston to a match. AJ says they accept only if the tag titles are on the line at WrestleMania. "Let me think about that," Bryan says. Then he and Kane do a "yes!" chant.
This has been a hard show to watch, but we're finally getting the build of the undercard for Mania.
The announcers hype up a video package for the main event of WrestleMania featuring The Rock and John Cena for after the break.
The announcers talk about the emotional ride of this show tonight, then feed it into a replay of the segment between Undertaker and CM Punk.
They air a video package that hypes up the match between The Rock and John Cena for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. It's essentially the same video package we got last week.
Match #9 - Wade Barrett (c) vs. Chris Jericho vs. The Miz; WWE Intercontinental Championship fought under Triple Threat Rules
The Miz gets his entrance before the break. They recap the angle that set this match up coming out of commercial. Barrett got his intro during the break, then Jericho comes out last.
About three minutes in, Barrett sets up a superplex. Jericho sneaks in and they set up the tower of doom spot as they head into the break.
We get some good near falls after the break. Jericho is frustrated when he can't put Miz away. Miz hits a DDT and tries a cover. Cole gives away the finish though when he says Miz is going to win.
Barrett sells out on the floor. Miz and Jericho trade chops. Miz gets caught in a schoolboy rollup for two. Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale and goes for a cover. Barrett slides back in the ring and rolls Miz up for the win. He gloats from the ramp about not having to use his finisher.
Good match, but the whole thing with the IC title being devalued really hurts. They've spent so much time feeding the mid-card champions to the top guys that I can't get too fired up about a title change.
We get a trailer for The Call, along with clips from the red-carpet premiere.
They show Touts from fans about the stipulation for Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar if Trips signs the contract. Three Stages of Hell, First Blood, Ambulance, are all thrown out by various fans.
We also get a Smackdown hype segment featuring a rematch between Jack Swagger and Chris Jericho.
Triple H comes out to the ring first and gets his full entrance. Paul Heyman comes out without Brock Lesnar but flanked by security guards. H tells Heyman he assumed that Brock would want to face him since H split his head open last time they crossed paths.
Heyman shows H that the contract is already signed by Lesnar. Heyman reminds him that the stipulation will be revealed after H signs. Hunter tells Heyman he forgot to mention the part about how he doesn't care and he plans to kick Brock's ass at WrestleMania.
Heyman says that he and Lesnar have spent countless hours watching the footage from what happened on Raw three weeks ago. They feed it to the segment where H ran Brock into the ring post. They go black and white with the last of the footage where Brock is bleeding. Heyman smiles as we come back live and asks how that can be topped.
Heyman says he knows and teases a blindfold match then says no because Lesnar wants to see Triple H in the eyes when he wins. He teases a handcuff match but says he doesn't want H to have excuses.
Heyman says Lesnar let him pick and the winner will get Stephanie. He leans in and questions if that really should be for the loser. H snaps and grabs Heyman, then disposes of the security guards when they try to pull him off of Heyman.
H grabs Heyman and throws him on the table. He opens up his shirt and slaps him across the chest a few times. Heyman has a small cut on his forehead. H gets the mic and says he's going to take his time and enjoy this. Heyman screams for Brock to help him but H roughs him up on the table a bit.
Trips rips the T-shirt open and slaps Heyman across the chest. Heyman yells at Trips that he hates him, and H grabs the contract folder. He puts it on his chest, stabs the pen into it then signs. He turns over the table and throws Heyman from the ring. He tells him to go call his monster and throws one of the chairs at ringside.
Brock's music hits and Lesnar comes to the stage with a chair in hand. He slams it around a few times and screams then heads for the ring. Trips pulls out a sledge from under the table. Lesnar stops at ringside seeing that, then smiles. Trips calls for Lesnar to bring it, but he's happy to stop at ringside with a smirk.
Lesnar starts to back away but heads to the ring. Heyman begs him off, "we won this round, he signed his own destiny." Lesnar walks around the ring, then up the ramp while Cole and Lawler ask what the stipulation is.
At the stage, Heyman has a mic. He says he's not the tough guy but Lesnar is. He says it was worth taking the beating to announce that the match would be no count out, no disqualification, no stopping the match for any reason because it will be no holds barred.
Heyman says that he almost forgot and maybe because of the beating he took. Heyman says the other stipulation is that Triple H's career is on the line. Lesnar pats the contract and Heyman says "game over" as the show ends. Trips looks concerned.
It took a bit to get there, and that segment nearly lost its energy until Lesnar appeared. Heyman was great with the shirt ripped and hair down and all that.
Some I am sure will groan that this means Triple H is going over. Some might even ask if this is it for Trips so he can focus on being on the business side of WWE instead of the in-ring side.
Personally, I am leaning toward Trips going over. I don't think they gave too much away here though but I'm sure a number of you may disagree with me. That's fine.
This show was the pits tonight, though. We got the undercard established for WrestleMania, which made it newsworthy to some degree. However, this show really plodded along in places, and became a bit predictable in others.
I haven't a clue what happened at the beginning still with the Prime Time Players. The first hour felt like a big waste of time to me too. I looked at the clock at one point thinking it was much later - and it was only 8:50 p.m. EST. This was not a good show.
Here's hoping business picks up next week. The Rock will be back, and we'll be only two shows out from the grandest stage of them all.
I'll have more to say on this show in Raw Afterthoughts tomorrow night. Thanks for watching along.