Last week's show ended with CM Punk and Jerry Lawler in the ring, after an intense promo exchange with John Cena. Punk demanded an apology and to be called "best in the world," but Lawler refused. For his troubles, Lawler got a boot to the head. What happens tonight?
Triple H is slated to be on the show tonight. Is he done, officially, tonight?
They recap the ending of last week's show first.
Lawler makes his way to the ring, and he says he needs to get something off his chest. Lawler said he remembered what he said at Raw 1000, and decided that he should apologize for it out of respect for the WWE Championship. He did that, and he was rewarded with a kick to the head. Lawler wants an apology this week.
Lawler stares up the entrance and the fans chant for Punk. His music hits and here comes the WWE Champion to a decent reaction. Punk wants to know why Lawler wants an apology for Punk doing his job. Punk says he's justified for attacking The Rock for disrespect and Lawler for slandering the beloved champion. This was met with a mixed chorus.
Punk apologizes that all it takes to get in the Hall of Fame is to have the kind of career that Lawler had. Punk mocks all of Lawler's shortcomings and accomplishments, then says he's sorry for the man that Lawler is.
Punk calls Lawler out for looking mad and asks if he wants to fight. Punk says that Lawler is only a commentator and Punk is best in the world, and he would embarrass Lawler. Lawler says he came out here for an apology, not a fight. Punk says he can tell that Lawler actually wants a fight. Punk says he has no problem with that fight.
Punk says that by the end of the night, Lawler would be embarrassed, either because Punk beat the crap out of him or because Lawler put his tail between his legs. Punk exits up the ring, yelling "respect" at the fans. Lawler eventually speaks up, saying that he would think about it.
Punk is doing a good heel program right now - I just think they should have gone with the quick turn rather than a slow burn.
Match #1 - Jack Swagger vs. Ryback
Swagger got no entrance and was in the ring while Cole talks about his losing streak. Ryback's music has been updated a bit.
Ryback drops Swagger with a clothesline and keeps power offense up. Swagger tries to get the Ankle Lock in a hope spot but it doesn't last long. Ryback goes right on offense, hitting another big clothesline then hits his Fisherman's Muscle Buster spot to get the win.
Swagger fumes after the match as fans make comments at him.
Nothing all that important. The announcers kept their focus on Swagger's losing streak. So maybe this signifies a feud for Ryback?
Cole hypes that Triple H will be up later in the show and might hang his boots up. Cole prods Lawler for an answer on facing Punk, but Lawler sticks to his "thinking about it" stance.
Match #2 - Layla vs. Natalya
Before these two ladies get started, Vickie Guerrero comes out and demands they hurry up and get it over with because she has a big announcement.
Layla shoves her backside at Natalya. Natalya goes on offense because that insults her. Natalya tries the sharpshooter but Layla counters. Moments later, Layla hits a kick to the head to get the win.
Nothing special at all here.
Afterward, Vickie boots Layla from the ring. She brags about Dolph's win that retired Chris Jericho last week, but calls Dolph having to put his contract on the line unfair. She called on the Board of Directors to reassess AJ being the GM because she's a "mentally deranged child." Raw should be in the hands of a mature adult.
AJ's music hits and she skips to the ring. She smiles at Vickie, and goes to say something but instead slaps Vickie. They scrum for a few moments until Vickie gets away and runs up the ramp. They close-up on AJ smiling in the ring.
That was a good use of AJ this time. Got a little of her range back that has been buried in the GM role.
Cole feeds it to a video segment featuring Triple H's moments in DX, which features a number of his skits and antics through the years.
Daniel Bryan is in a group therapy session. He claims he has no problem, but a young kid walks in with a goat mask on, and Bryan flips out. The therapist tells Bryan it's his son who is in a kid's play of Noah's Ark. The therapist tells his son that Bryan is a sick man. Bryan goes back to the group and fumes.
Cole brings up a Tweet from Punk, prodding Jerry Lawler for a decision to face him tonight. Lawler gets a mic and stands up on the table. Lawler says that he faced nobodies like Harley Race, Jesse Ventura, and others.
After talking about some of the other things he accomplished, Lawler says that you don't get in the Hall of Fame unless you stand up for what is right. He admits he isn't the best in the world, but says that Punk isn't, either. Lawler says he'll fight Punk tonight.
Lawler does well here - it seems he likes to work the young heels. I hope the plan is to somehow get Punk further over as a heel tonight.
Match #3 - John Cena vs. The Miz
Cena's music hits and he makes a crack about PBR and says it's time to go to work. Miz follows out.
Cena takes early control of the match, then they fade to commercial. After the break, Miz gets his patented neck/back breaker combo. He teases the Skull Crushing Finale, but Cena starts to come back.
Cena runs through his trademark offense, with shoulder blocks and the Five Knuckle Shufflle. Cena sets up and loads the AA to get the win.
The match was fine, but we've seen it a lot before. Just tells how stale these two guys are, I guess.
After the match, Cole sets up a vote for the stipulation in the main event between Punk and Lawler. It can be a cage match, a table match, or a no disqualification match.
More Anger Management:
Daniel Bryan is shown in his therapy group. He wasn't interested in Harold's story about a bad boss. Daniel complains about AJ as his boss, and how she's crazy. He segues to talking about having to deal with Kane as well.
The therapist says his last client is there, and it's Kane. Kane comes in and sits down, with the rest of the participants wincing at him and backing away.
Match #4 - Santino Marella vs. Heath Slater
Slater gets his entrance, and they air his tout about beating Sin Cara and he talks about having a winning streak.
Santino works comedy style at the beginning but Slater takes over and works the match in control. Marella battles back, but Aksana's music hits and she comes to the stage. The Cobra gets distracted by this, but Marella turns around and hits the Cobra anyhow to get the win.
Ugh. And this show is dragging tonight.
Josh Matthews gives us a tech demonstration of the new WWE app you can download.
Match #5 - Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes vs. Sin Cara and Brodus Clay (w/Cameron and Naomi):
Clay gets his full entrance, as does Sin Cara. Sandow comes out and says he's finally found someone he can have an intellectual conversation with, and calls out Cody Rhodes. Rhodes insults the Milwaukee faithful and they enter the ring. The show goes to commercial.
After the break, the heels control Sin Cara. Cara gets the hot tag to Brodus and he opens up on Rhodes. He hits Cody with a splash but Sandow interferes. Sin Cara disposes of Sandow after Sandow gets a shot on Brodus' knee.
Clay hits a headbutt to the sternum on Rhodes and splashes him for the win. Sin Cara, Clay, and some kids dance in the ring to celebrate.
In the last segment, the therapist asks Kane to pull the mask. Kane pulls the welder mask off, but has his other mask on. The therapist asks him to talk about his childhood, and Kane recaps the entire story, including the burining of his parents, his father Paul Bearer, Katie Vick, and frying someone's testicles.
After all that, the therapy session is over and the doctor asks for them to work on an "anger collage" for next week. Bryan protests, and Kane makes a friend in Harold as everyone else leaves.
Match #6 - R-Truth (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. Daniel Bryan
Bryan comes out to the ring, calm and working through his anger issue. After some basic offense between the two men, they end up outside of the ring. Truth gets a mic and tells Little Jimmy he knows where they are tonight. He starts a yes chant, and Bryan flakes out. He engages a fan in a "yes/no" exchange and gets counted out.
Bryan gets back in the ring and flips out as Cole encourages him to engage his anger management tools.
Bryan is doing great work in this role. Might not be in the title picture, but that's all right - he's way over.
Triple H Segment:
Justin Roberts announces Triple H to the ring, and he comes out slowly, shirt and tie. The fans chant for him and he pauses before speaking.
After a long pause he says "let's cut to the chase, am I going to retire?" He says he said he learned there is "never say never." He said he had two goals, to create something people wouldn't forget, and to retire before it retires him.
He says everyone comes to a crossroads in their career. You have to ask when you get to that crossroads "is it time?" Time is something you can't fight and it will win. He never wanted to be the guy just hanging out, hanging on too long, or waiting for the nostalgia pop.
He never wanted to be the guy that was just too beat up and crippled inside to hold his own children. He never wanted to be the punch-drunk fighter that couldn't have a life when this was done.
He finds himself at that crossroads for the first time. Brock Lesnar has made him ask the question if he's done. The answer is "I don't know" and he talks about being beat up, tired and broken again (holding up the broken arm). What he wants to do is come out and be the Cerebral Assassin and wants to kick Brock's ass because that's what he does.
It's what he wants to do, but he can't. Truth is it's because he doesn't know if he can. Lesnar has forced him to look inside and ask if he's done. Trips says if he can't say he can come back and beat Lesnar and be better than before, then maybe he's answered his own question. The fans start a "you can do it" chant.
He says he can take a minute and say thank you to all the fans. Whether you love, hate, or respect the superstars that work in WWE, they do it for one reason: they sweat and pay the price to entertain the fans.
Every single person stands in the back and before their music hits they question themselves whether anyone cares. For H's entire career, he can say that everyone has cared and that has gotten him through everything. He thanks the fans for letting him play the game.
He ends by saying that hopefully he's done something in the ring and that the fans will not forget him. He drops the mic as he gets a good standing ovation and a "thank you Hunter" chant. He leaves, shaking hands with the fans and pausing at the stage before exiting.
Good mic work from Hunter, but lots of unanswered questions. Is the story just going to tread water at this point? Kind of seems that way, to be so honest. I guess that's their hook to keep Trips "available" for a future feud.
Match #7 - Randy Orton and Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodruigez)
Ziggler comes out to Jericho's music and mocks that he retired Jericho last week. He claims the fans will never see Jericho again.
Orton and Ziggler start things off for us. Orton gets the better of him and Sheamus attacks Del Rio on the outside. They go to break about a minute in.
Out of commercial, Ziggler and Del Rio work on Orton. Orton eventually gets the hot tag to Sheamus. He attacks, hitting the Irish Curse. In the end, Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick to pick up the win over Ziggler.
If they're priming Ziggler for a World Title run, why are they having him take the pin here? The match, again, was nothing special.
Lawler is addressing someone off camera, saying this is his fight tonight. He wants to fight it. The camera backs out and it's John Cena. He tells Cena to let him fight his fight and Cena wishes him luck and exits.
Match #8 - Zack Ryder vs. David Otunga
Before the match starts, Kane comes out. Josh Mathews takes off from the announce position and Kane takes his spot.
Otunga dominates the match early. Cole tries to engage Kane in commentary, but no such luck. Ryder eventually fights back, and hits the Rough Ryder to pick up the win.
After the match, Kane gets in the ring and teases chokeslamming Ryder, but hits Otunga with it instead then leaves after his pyro spot.
A throwaway match on a throwaway night. I don't know this undid any of Kane's wit from earlier, but it certainly didn't help.
They give us the voting results for the main-event match stipulation. The fans end up voting for a cage match with 40 percent of the vote.
AJ's music hits. She comes to the stage and says that regardless of what happens in the main event, Punk will defend his title at Night of Champions against her choice: John Cena.
The cage is lowering, and the main event is next.
Match #9 - Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. CM Punk (c); Steel Cage Rules
King comes out first, and Cole reminds us that Punk goaded him into this match. Josh Mathews reminds us that one can only win by pinfall, submission, or escape. Punk comes out next.
Punk goads Lawler and demands Lawler deliver the first shot. Lawler thinks about it, then drops Punk. He sits in the corner and rubs his jaw. Punk begins to work the offense with knees to the gut then delivers shots across the chest with his forearm. Punk continues to work slow offense and mocks Lawler as he does.
Punk teases an escape but instead jumps down and takes another shot at Lawler. He goes up top again but Lawler crotches Punk on the ropes. Jerry goes for the door but Punk stops him and drops an elbow several times in a row.
Punk teases a neckbreaker as he sings about Memphis. King counters and shoves Punk to the cage to buy some distance. Lawler tries to fight back with hands. He goes up for his flying fist and gets a good near fall out of it.
Lawler goes for the door, but Punk stops him. He uses some strikes to take Lawler down, then teases the GTS. Punk waves it off, then hits the Rock Bottom and locks on the Anaconda Vise to get King to submit.
Afterward, Punk goes and gets a mic, and starts looking for something under the ring. He pulls out a chain that he uses to lock the cage shut. He demands that Lawler say he's the best in the world, but Lawler refuses. So Punk beats him down some more and demands Lawler say it again
Cena comes to the ring, but the cage is locked. Cena demands the cage be raised but it's going nowhere. Cena can be heard screaming that Punk is out of line. Finally the cage goes up and Punk rolls out. Punk says he's the best in the world and rolls out before Cena can get to him. Medics tend to Lawler as the show ends.
Well, we finally got to full-heel Punk. He got booed pretty heartily as he exited, so I'd say his face run is officially over. From a story perspective, the match served its purpose. If you were looking for a wrestling clinic, well, not so much.
This show had some bright spots, but it was very hard to watch tonight. Lots of stuff that felt like filler material going on. If they cut that out, they'd not have even gotten to the two hour mark. This is exactly the stuff I worried about seeing in a 3-hour Raw program on a regular basis.
I will have more to say about tonight's program in "Raw Afterthoughts" tomorrow evening. Join us for that, and more on Raw next Monday night here on Ring-Rap.com. Thanks for following along tonight.