Last week, we found out that John Cena was experiencing an issue with his foot. Is the Champ really healed, like he bragged on Twitter, or is he still having problems? Ryback excused himself from the main event, only to re-emerge after Cena took the loss in the match with The Shield. Will The Shield continue to intervene in this build and help Ryback, or will they decide to chase Team Hell No instead and leave the WWE Championship feud alone?
Paul Heyman has been teasing on Twitter all day about touring WWE Headquarters with Brock Lesnar as well. He asked why Triple H has a sledgehammer in his office, which does not bode well. What happened on the tour?
Show Open - Live at the Roanoke Civic Center, Roanoke, Va.
They open up with hype for Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman paying a visit to WWE Headquarters. They show various Twitter clips and small segments of Brock and Paul walking through the building. They pose the question as to how Triple H will react.
They segue to Ryback and Cena's story, showing highlights of the end of the main event between Cena and Hell No vs. The Shield.
Live in the arena, we get John Cena's music as Cole says the show is live. Cena brags that he is "better than last week." He charges the ring as Cole and the rest of the announce team all check in. They talk about the Achilles still being an issue. "It's there and it's going to be there when the match takes place." says Lawler.
Cena gets the normal mixed reaction and says you can sense unrest in WWE. Cena talks about his injury and says it won't make him back out of the match with Ryback at Extreme Rules. Cena says that after Ryback walked out last week's main event then stared into his eyes after the match, he's confused by Ryback's intentions.
Cena talks about answering questions he got throughout the week. He says Ryback is DTF - or Do The Fandango and chides the fans for thinking dirty. He talks about being photoshopped into pictures with Betty White and some added a spatula to make it frisky. Cena says he does do it when he's alone, bored, and knows no one is watching. Seriously?
Cena puts himself over as the WWE Champion. "On a serious note, as long as I'm medically cleared as the WWE Champion, it is my job to get in this ring and do my best." Cena says he hasn't been 100 percent since 2002, but that won't stop him from defending the championship. Cena says Ryback will realize the Champ is here.
Vickie interrupts his catchphrase but he kept talking. Vickie is excited he will defend the title. She says the pay-per-view will be extreme and says she would never choose the stipulation for a match without input from champion and challenger. She introduces Ryback.
He comes to the ring and joins Cena and Vickie. Vickie defers to Cena first to pick the stipulation. Cena says to be fair to Ryback, they could give the win to the person who runs from the ring screaming like a girl. He suggested a whine-off, then does some other mockery suggestions in Ryback's voice.
Cena says he doesn't care what the stipulation is and they could even go with a "Vickie's granny panties on a pole match." He stops and says no one should be subject to that. Cena says he just wants to fight and shut up the world's largest complainer.
Vickie tells Ryback that Cena has allowed him to pick the stipulation. Ryback says that since Cena can't take a step without a grimace, letting Ryback pick the stipulation was extremely stupid. Cena takes a step and says it hurts, but if he takes another it will hurt Ryback more. Ryback tells Cena to take it easy as he's not fighting him tonight.
Ryback says that after Extreme Rules, everyone will know Ryback rules. Ryback says the match will be a Last Man Standing match. Cena shows a little bit of concern as Ryback leaves.
Terrible and clumsy opening segment. Cena was ALL the problem here. Cena did nothing to take Ryback seriously for starters. Add to it that Vickie is her normal annoying self, and Ryback being a weak promo and it was a recipe for a disaster. The announcers are the only ones who really did anything to sell Cena's weakened ankle. Sigh.
The announcers talk about Lesnar and Heyman making their appearance at WWE Headquarters earlier in the day. They show some of the pictures as well. Cole says Heyman will join them later via satellite and Triple H will respond as well.
They show Randy Orton backstage heading to the ring for his match with Damien Sandow next.
Match #1 - Randy Orton vs. Damien Sandow
Orton makes his entrance. The announcers send it to a recap of the match between Damien Sandow and Orton on Friday. Big Show ran a distraction after the match that allowed Orton to get hit with the Terminus.
Sandow comes out and sings a mockery of Orton's entrance music, closed with "you're welcome!" Orton controls the early going, taking the fight outside of the ring. He beats Sandow around and drops him on the barrier, then throws him back in. They go back outside again, and Orton teases the elevated DDT off the apron. Sandow counters by driving Orton to the barrier.
Orton stays in control back in the ring, hitting him with punches in the corner and stomping on him. He hits a drop kick going into commercial.
Sandow gets in some offense after the break. He tries some offense off the ropes but Orton hits him with a drop kick. Orton runs through his offensive moves and follows with a hanging DDT off the ropes. Orton plays up to the fans then hits the RKO on a stumbling Sandow for the win.
The announcers talk at ringside about the match, then Cole points frantically to the stage. Orton is laid out and Big Show is standing over him. They find a camera angle that shows Big Show coming out and hitting him with the WMD punch. Officials come out to check on Orton.
Again, predictable result. The minute the match was announced I knew Orton was going over. The match was fine though. Sandow's singing didn't seem to fit with his character so that could have been left behind.
They show Fandango backstage, warming up with some dance steps with his brunette dancer. He gets R-Truth after the break.
Before the match...
Jericho's music hits and the lights go down. Jericho comes out with his lite-brite jacket and gets a nice reaction. Jericho heads to the ring as they run highlights from two weeks ago when Jericho tossed Fandango off the stage then danced with Summer Rae.
Jericho pauses for the fan reaction then welcomes us to Raw is Jericho. Jericho makes fun of Fandango, calling him Fandumbo, FanDodgeDurango, FanDingleberry, etc.. He says he's going to put a judges' panel together to critique Fandango. He motions to the table at ringside.
Brodus Clay's music hits, and here comes Tensai, Clay, Cameron and Naomi. They join Jericho at ringside. Fandango makes his entrance with the brunette dancer. The judges all offer low scores.
Fandango takes exception, saying "Christopher, who are you to judge me. Just because you competed on Dancing with the Stars and failed, does not make you an expert."
Match #2 - Fandango vs. R-Truth
Jericho and Tons of Funk hold up low scores for Fandango's offense. Truth gets some offense in, and Fandango ducks to ringside. Truth does some dancing in the ring and the judge panel gives tens. Clay gives a 42. Fandango has had enough and takes his dancer and leaves for Truth to get the count-out win.
I suspect this leads to a Jericho/Fandango match for Extreme Rules, but what was the purpose for this? Why was Truth protected? Jericho was not advertised, so that part was a nice surprise.
Triple H is featured in a Susan G. Komen package. He talks about his mother surviving cancer and his wife and daughters. He invites viewers to contribute by visiting Komen.org/WWE. There was a collage of pictures of Triple H with the various women in his life.
The announcers give some extra plug to it after the package airs.
Smart to have the future executive of WWE in this spot. I didn't know about Triple H's mother until now. As said earlier in the day, I lost my mother to breast cancer, so any support for any related cause is worthwhile to me.
They shift their attention to Daniel Bryan's rough night on Smackdown. He lost to Ryback, then he took a beating from The Shield.
Josh Mathews talks to Daniel Bryan and asks how he is. Bryan says he's not good but he's fine. He says The Shield uses the word justice, but he questions how they justify a three-on-one attack as justice. He says no one is buying that. Bryan turns his attention to Ryback and says he wants a rematch.
Ryback walks into the frame and says Bryan is injured. For Bryan's safety, Ryback turns the match down. He taunts Bryan and says that even if he was healthy, Bryan is half the man Ryback is.
Kane enters the frame and challenges Ryback. He asks Ryback if he thinks Kane is half the man Ryback is. Ryback tells Kane he's not the monster he was and Ryback is the only monster left in WWE.
Match #3 - Dolph Ziggler (c, w/ Big E Langston and AJ) vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez); Non-Title Match
Ricardo introduces his man. JBL says that Ricardo will drop an O-Ring one of these days in that intro. Dolph and his entourage make their entrance after the commercial break. While Ziggler comes to the ring, Lawler says Vickie has made Kane vs. Ryback official.
The men trade early offense. After a couple minutes, Jack Swagger's music hits. He and Zeb Colter make their way to the ring to be stopped by Big E. They walk past him to the announce position for commentary.
After the break, they show highlights of AJ distracting Del Rio so that Ziggler can hit a face buster off the ropes. Ziggler continues to control the offense live. Colter puts over Swagger and says he'll win the match even though Del Rio has ladder match experience. He says he will go no further with those remarks.
JBL asks if Zeb celebrates Cinco De Mayo. Zeb says he's not sure why they celebrate something like that. ZIggler bumps for Del Rio, and they work up to Del Rio hitting the superkick to a kneeling Dolph for two.
Del Rio locks on the Cross Arm Breaker. AJ gets on the apron to run a distraction. Big E pulls Del Rio from the ring and throws him into Swagger's lap at ringside. The official calls for the bell at that point.
Afterward, Swagger attacks Langston and throws him into the ring post. He grabs a ladder from under the ring. Ricardo tries to stop him but Swagger takes care of him by using the ladder to run him into the safety railing. Swagger swings the ladder at Ziggler in the ring, then throws it at Del Rio. Colter applauds and the pair leaves together with the rest laying.
The match was good, and Colter was good on commentary. First match of the night that had any real meaning. Swagger looked like a monster. Got some real nice advancement of their story for Extreme Rules.
We get highlights of the opening segment where Ryback picked the Last Man Standing stipulation for the title match with John Cena. They swing to talking about the Lesnar /Heyman angle and hype up Kane and Ryback for later.
Cole sets up footage from the Yahoo event where WWE through Stephanie McMahon announced their new content agreement, including the future 30-minute Raw pre-show that starts this summer.
Cameron and Naomi talk with Kaitlyn about an upcoming match. Kaitlyn's phone goes off and the subject of the mystery man shows up. She says she has no idea who he is. She reads a text that says not every woman can squat 300 pounds, look hot in a black dress and quote The Simpsons.
Natalya walks in as does Great Khali. She proposes that Khali do some secret agent work to find out who the mystery man is. Kaitlyn questions sending a giant to do this work. Natalya says that Khali used to be a police officer in India.
The discussion breaks up and the Bellas emerge from behind a curtain, all smiles. Cole says that Cody Rhodes told WWE.com that he is not the mystery man.
My bet is now that The Bellas have something to do with this. I was originally thinking about Hornswoggle being the guy.
Match #4 - The Shield vs. Kofi Kingston and The Uso Brothers
Early, The Shield isolates one of the Uso brothers. They work on him for a while and he sells. Later, he hits a Samoan drop on Rollins and makes the tag to Kofi.
Kingston gets the better of Ambrose, and dropkicks Reigns from the apron. After his standard flurry, Kingston cues up Trouble in Paradise. Ambrose backs to the corner so Kofi tries a splash instead. Kofi fights off Reigns and hits a cross-body block on Ambrose and has the cover, but Reigns breaks things up.
Later, Ambrose catches Kofi on the ropes. Kingston knocks him down. The official gets distracted with Reigns. Rollins shoves Kofi off the ropes. That opens the door for Ambrose to hit his DDT finisher to get the win.
A good television match. Kingston added to the match, and I won't get as upset as I normally do as a mid-card champion gets pinned. He took the loss, but he looked strong and fell to the numbers of The Shield.
We get more stills and security type footage of Lesnar and Heyman at WWE headquarters. We get some more hype for Kane vs. Ryback.
We get some hype for Main Event, where Randy Orton and Antonio Cesaro will face off.
Match #5 - Antonio Cesaro vs. Zack Ryder
No yodeling from Cesaro this week. He wears a beret and sunglasses to the ring. Pretty much a standard squash match. Cesaro picks up the win with the Neutralizer.
Afterward, Cesaro gets a mic and says that he doesn't always ask for a mic, but when he does he has something to say. He points to Ryder and asks if that's all the competition they have. He says he puts the W in WWE. He says there's no one on any show that can hold a candle to what he can do in the ring.
A boastful promo, a solid squash win, and no yodeling. I like this much better. Small steps to advance him to a more serious character which I like.
They show more still shots and security cam footage from WWE Headquarters. Heyman is getting mic'd up for the "via satellite" segment, next.
Heyman Via Satellite:
Heyman appears and introduces himself. He says that he and Brock Lesnar took a self-guided tour of the WWE Headquarters building. He introduces video footage that he and Lesnar shot in the building earlier.
They look at the building and smile. They enter and question why Sheamus is on the Extreme Rules poster. They also make fun of a tribute to Andre the Giant when "he's been dead for 150 years."
After an elevator ride to the fourth floor, they critique the appearance of employees that don't look happy. Heyman calls it poor working conditions. They head down a hallway and eye up a poster from Royal Rumble featuring The Rock. Heyman says there's no posters with Lesnar on them.
They peek in the board room then continue their walk to Paul Levesque's office. Heyman says to the secretary that she "is not Stephanie. You're much prettier than she is." A male assistant tells Lesnar he can't go in there but Lesnar face palms him then they enter.
Inside the (clearly make believe) office, Lesnar holds a replica belt and sits down at the desk. Lesnar broke a laptop first, then punched the monitor off of the desk.
Lesnar walks over and takes down a sledgehammer. Brock beat the replica belt with it, then destroyed the desk. Lesnar tossed a chair, a TV and a couple other things against the WWE logo on the wall. Heyman says the office is trash and it's appropriate since Hunter married into trash. He leaves his business card.
Back on the Tron, Heyman says he knows a little bit about extreme. He says it's ironic that he is the voice of reason for Lesnar. He says he has to plead with Lesnar to stop on his path of destruction and discourage him.
Heyman says Triple H made the mistake of giving him a Pedigree. Heyman says he will no longer discourage Lesnar, but will encourage him. He puts the damaged belt on his shoulder and says he will encourage Lesnar to hurt Triple H in the cage. Heyman says Brock will "take Triple H to the extreme then go further and further and further..."
Triple H's music hits and he gets a good reaction. Heyman's face stays on the Tron while H makes his entrance. H tells Heyman to bring back the stagehand that put his mic on to fix his hair. He then asks if Heyman can open his mouth without a bunch of crap falling out of it. He says that Heyman talks extreme, "but do you know who the hell you're talking to?"
H talks about starting DX, tearing through the Attitude Era with an iron fist, and knocking out Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania. H isn't buying that Heyman and Lesnar went to WWE Headquarters to find him when everyone knows he is at Raw on Mondays.
Trips says he has two offices, the one they tore up and the one he's standing in. "Paul, this office has one hell of a view." and he plays to the fans. Triple H says this office is more like home because it's where he became a man, something Brock never did. "If Lesnar has something to say to me, then tell him to be a man and say it to my face." H says he's not real hard to find.
H pauses for a mild Triple H chant and says if Lesnar thinks he can walk into this office and do what he did to the other office, the bad news for Brock is "we fight back." Hunter's music hits and he plays to the fans a little.
Hard to believe that was Trips' office - most likely was just a set-up and it made it hard to suspend disbelief. Heyman had some good lines and Brock played his badass part well.
We get a recap of the set-up to Kane vs. Ryback. They also run a preview of the Total Divas show for E! Network.
Match #6 - The Bellas and AJ vs. Kaitlyn, Cameron and Naomi
Cameron does some selling early on for AJ. Kaitlyn gets the tag and gets a little bit of a reaction. AJ goes for a tag but the Bellas bail on her. Kaitlyn spears her for the win.
Yeah, well, whatever. They're trying to build a story but it's not working.
We see Mark Henry heading to the ring. He's up next.
Mark Henry comes to the ring and says Sheamus will be out in a couple minutes. He says Sheamus will act tough, beat his chest and pose. Henry says the problem is that Sheamus is acting, but he doesn't have to act because he is tough.
The crowd gives Henry the "what?" treatment. He calls the fans puppets. He feeds it into footage of his attacks on Sheamus. Henry smiles afterward and asks the cameraman to zoom up close. "Sheamus, if you have any pride in that pasty body of yours, you'll face me at Extreme Rules." Henry says it's been a long time since he got extreme. Henry promises people will remember this match for the rest of existence.
Sheamus comes out and they show footage of him getting the better of Henry lately. Henry says Sheamus isn't serious about anything but he better be when they meet at Extreme Rules. Sheamus says he's all about business when the bell rings. He says his business is Henry at Extreme Rules. Henry says they don't have to wait.
The two circle and prepare to go at it but Wade Barrett's music hits. Henry escapes to ringside as the scheduled Barrett vs. Sheamus match is next.
Match #7 - Wade Barrett vs. Sheamus
Joined in progress, Henry is on commentary. Sheamus knocks Barrett to ringside and teases throwing him at Henry. Henry flinches enough to fall out of the chair. He ends up eating a Brogue Kick.
Sheamus returns to the ring and he has the advantage over Barrett. Barrett hits a sidewalk slam. They make note of trainers tending to Henry at ringside. Barrett sets up the Bull Hammer elbow, but Sheamus counters into White Noise. He hits a Brogue Kick to finish off Barrett.
Afterward, Henry gets in the ring and whips Sheamus with a belt that he stole off of one of the trainers. He beats Sheamus down outside the ring then hits the World's Strongest Slam on the floor.
Consistency is awesome. They made Henry look a fool at first then buried Wade Barrett and the IC title. Great.
They show a tale of the tape for Kane and Ryback, and they're up next.
They recap the destruction of Triple H's office by Brock Lesnar.
Match #8 - Kane vs. Ryback
Ryback controls the early going of this one, throwing Kane into the security barrier right before the commercial break.
Cole tells us the match got very physical during the break. Ryback is in control but eats a big boot from Kane. Kane tries the chokeslam afterward, but Ryback powers out of it. Kane hits a DDT to get two.
Ryback yells "Finish Him!" but Kane has other things in mind. Kane hits a suplex for two, then goes up top. Ryback cuts him off. Kane throws some strikes to knock Ryback down, but in the process Ryback falls into the ropes to crotch Kane on the top. Ryback loads up Shell Shocked from there and hits it to get the win.
Afterward, The Shield's music hits and they make their way through the crowd. Daniel Bryan runs out to make it three on two. Ryback bails initially, which cues John Cena's music. He charges the ring and stands with Bryan. The Shield contemplate an attack.
Ryback hits the ring with a chair. Bryan hits a suicide dive on Rollins and Ambrose at ringside. Only Reigns is left in the ring, and he takes some abuse from Cena. He picks Reigns up for the AA, but Ryback gores Cena in the midsection with the chair. He hits him one more time for good measure then stands over Cena and says "Ryback rules! Done!" as the show ends.
WWE cannot find the right thing to make this Cena/Ryback feud work. The night after WrestleMania, they had something that worked and it looked promising. Ever since then, it's been step back after step back.
One thing is that WWE fell into their normal pattern of making Ryback a cowardly heel rather than a badass face. I thought going to this match was too soon, but the best hope for it would have been Cena coming off the win over Rock to face badass Ryback. They've undone all that and it's just not working at all.
This has been another long, slow, plodding episode. As of this moment right now, I am not excited about Extreme Rules, and I really don't have much excitement about the product as a whole. I'm numb, is the only way I can say it.
I brought this point up last week - WWE needs to find a way to leave viewers wanting more, and be excited. It's not that any one thing was so completely off the tracks - save the opening segment. They took how they wrote a two-hour show and made that into a three-hour format, and they're not shaking up anything.
I'll have more to say tomorrow in Raw Afterthoughts. Thanks for watching along tonight.