Tonight, we get a preview of Night of Champions which takes place in six days in Boston. We saw an interesting shot at the end of last week's show: Paul Heyman was driving the car that took CM Punk out of the arena. What is Heyman doing with CM Punk? Is there a dangerous alliance forming?
We get a preview of all of the titles being on the line, plus Dolph Ziggler facing Randy Orton in a specially ordered match from Smackdown. We're six days away from the next pay per view - who gets the advantage?
Join us at the top of the hour for full Raw coverage here on Ring-Rap.com.
After standard WWE programming intro, we go right in the arena. Justin Roberts announces Bret Hart to the ring and he comes out to a rousing ovation. Cole reminds us of his accomplishments and says it's the first time he's been in Montreal in 15 years.
Bret thanks the fans and gets another rousing ovation, an ovation so loud he gets drowned out. He says he's speechless and isn't sure what to say after 15 years. The last time he was there it was one of the darkest days but one of his proudest.
He says the people of Montreal have been in his heart for 15 years. He credits the fans for helping him through those days. It was a uniquely Canadian moment and he's proud of it and the support of the fans.
The mood changes as CM Punk's music hits. Punk makes his way to the ring as King and Cole talk about Punk's quest for respect. A fan wearing a Hart shirt taunts Punk. Cole chronicles King's issues with Punk over the past couple weeks.
Punk talks about Bret's book and says that his book would have been called "What If" and asks what would have happened if Punk would have faced Hart at Survivor Series instead of Shawn Michaels. He says that the WWE as we know it would not exist, and he would have won without the help of Vince McMahon.
Punk says he would have jumped over to WCW after a victory and WWE would have died without the Attiude Era. Hart used his "best there is" catchphrase and Punk grimaces. He says it kills him to hear Bret use that to this day. Punk turns his attention to Lawler and asks how he's feeling.
Bret says Lawler always showed up and never walked out. Bret turns the tables and talks about Punk leaving last week. He says that the best in the world walked out when he was scheduled to face Sheamus. Bret sets up a video recap of what happened at the end of last week's show. Cole narrates what happened when Punk got involved in Cena's match with Del Rio, including Paul Heyman driving the car.
Punk says he was in his hometown and wanted to enjoy his day off. He says he came back to get some things he forgot and found Cena in his way. Punk asks where Cena is now, and if Cena would be Hart's white knight and save him if things got too hot. Bret says did talk with Cena and says he came out to talk to the fans one on one.
Punk gets indignant and says he will beat Cena on Sunday. By doing so he will cement his legacy as the greatest WWE Champion of all time. Punk points out the ovation Hart got and says he is the one that deserves it in every arena he goes into. He says he will put Cena to sleep and Bret quips in that Punk is putting the fans to sleep.
Punk tells Hart he will turn Cena into a broken down shell of a man, just like Hart. He backs away without incident and holds the belt up, yelling "Best in the world!" as he backs up the ramp. He kisses the belt as Cole sets up an interview segment with John Cena later.
A good segment but not great. Hart held his own with the mic work and there's plenty of time for Punk to ramp his act up. Show is starting off well.
They put over a "RawActive" segment for fans to pick Punk's opponent tonight - either King, Brodus Clay, or Randy Orton.
Match #1 - Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (c) vs. Antonio Cesaro (US Champ w/Aksana) and The Miz (Intercontinental Champion)
Kingston and Truth run the early going, hitting dives onto the heels out on the floor. They sell the effects as they go to break.
Out of the break, Cesaro locks a rest hold on as Aksana swoons. Cesaro and Miz work frequent tags and isolate Truth. Kofi gets the hot tag and works through his offense, including the Boom Drop. Miz tries to interfere but Kingston takes him out. Kofi finally finishes off Cesaro with the Trouble in Paradise kick for the win. The champs celebrate.
A decent match, but nothing we'll be talking about in a couple days. They got some shine for the undercard champions going to Night of Champions and that's about it.
Cole talks about the situation with the World Heavyweight Championship. He sets up a recap of the situation from last week where Sheamus hit Ricardo Rodruigez with the Brogue Kick. David Otunga got in the middle of the situation and managed to get the kick banned. They show the highlight of Booker T announcing that ban as Del Rio smiles.
They show a shot backstage of Sheamus talking to Bret Hart, and King tells us that we will get a video of Sheamus' deposition next.
As follow-up to the Brogue Kick ban, they send it to a taped segment at WWE headquarters. Sheamus is being deposed for the record. Otunga tries to make Sheamus take it seriously with no luck. Otunga starts questioning the medical effects of the Brogue Kick and mentions demonstration. So Sheamus hits the camera with the kick, then he sings.
One word for that segment - Brutal.
Match #2 - Eve, Layla, and Kaitlyn vs. Beth Phoenix, Natalya, and Alicia Fox
The heels take the better of Kaitlyn, and the three take turns working her. Layla gets a hot tag and dances her way along. Eve ends up getting a blind tag and takes out Alicia Fox with a neckbreaker. Eve celebrates way over the top with her team.
Throwaway. The story is all about Eve when Kaitlyn faces Layla on Sunday. Making little sense unless we see something develops either on Smackdown or on Sunday.
Punk approaches AJ, who is watching a monitor. He's upset because he has to wrestle but Cena doesn't. Punk mocks her meltdown last week and proposes that it could be because Punk rejected her months ago. AJ says that things could be worse for Punk and says since he walked out on the fans, the fans will pick his opponent. She sarcastically wishes him luck and leaves. Punk turns into Brodus Clay, who says "Sup!" and is all smiles.
Outside of the reaction that Montreal gave Hart, this first hour has been a complete joke.
Revealing Punk's Opponent:
Punk comes out to the ring. Cole feeds it to the Twitter poll results of "RawActive" and Punk will get Randy Orton by a landslide.
Match #3 - CM Punk (c) vs. Randy Orton
Early going the two men trade control. Orton teases an RKO but Punk avoids it. He's already had enough so Punk heads up the ramp. Orton gives chase and runs him down, then beats Punk all the way back to the ring. Orton gets up on the apron and gets a drop kick from Punk as he tries to get in the ring. Orton sells as they go to commercial.
Out of commercial, Punk is controlling the offense. Orton fights back and hits a superplex for a near fall. They trade blows to "yay" "boo" chants and counter back and forth with their offense.
Punk teases the GTS, but Orton counters and tries to hit the RKO. Punk throws him off and Orton comes back with his inverted backbreaker for a near fall. He follows with the elevated DDT then starts hearing voices. Orton cues up the RKO but Dolph Ziggler hits the ring for the interference.
This part of the match ends in no contest.
Orton takes out Ziggler and Punk but the numbers get to be too much. King leaves the announce position to help Orton clear Punk and Ziggler. They keep brawling into the break.
Odd commercial break placement. Orton could have lost here without losing anything so not sure why he didn't just do the job. Guess it's story advancement for Ziggler and Orton.
We come back from the break with an impromptu tag match between Ziggler and Punk vs. Orton and King. Orton is in charge of the match at first, but Ziggler gets control of the offense against King.
Lawler eventually gets the hot tag to Orton and Orton takes charge of the match. The camera pans away and we see Paul Heyman walk down the ramp. He gets Punk's attention and they conference at ringside. Eventually Punk gets his title belt and they have apparently decided there will not be any more participation.
In the ring, Orton hits the RKO on Ziggler to pick up the win.
The match became background noise for the Heyman/Punk situation. That was fine, because it got heat on Punk and Heyman just by ignoring the match in progress.
Cole hypes up Cena's interview with Bret Hart later.
Punk and Heyman are shown walking. Matt Striker shows up and asks about their relationship. Punk simply says that "I'm a Paul Heyman guy," and that's all he has to say.
Cole recaps the "greatest hug in wrestling history" between Daniel Bryan and Kane. They dressed up a really nice video package for this.
Kane and Bryan are backstage arguing over who asked whom to show up to talk. Kane turns his attention to a doorway and calls the person there a monster like he's never seen. It's Dr. Shelby. AJ enters and says that she asked him to come because Kane and Bryan are close to a breakthrough. Shelby has an idea that will either make them come together or drive them to an abyss.
They recap Zack Ryder's win over Heath Slater. Slater calls out Ryder, but Ryder appears on the tron. He says he wishes it were him, but it's going to be someone else. It's not going to be Ry-der...but instead this guy.
Match #4 - Heath Slater vs. Ryback
Ryback pretty much controls this start to finish. Heath gets a few kicks in and hits a DDT, but Ryback comes back with a clothesline, a powerbomb, then hits his fallaway slam finisher.
He leads the fans in a "feed me more" chant as King and Cole talk about the WWE App.
The Primetime Players join AJ in her office. They think she has "bonus money" for them but she tells them they aren't the #1 Contenders for the tag team championship. They protest, saying they beat everyone and won on Smackdown. She says there's one team they haven't beaten - Kane and Daniel Bryan. They're flabbergasted and say she's lost her mind but that match is up next.
The crowd has been dead since Hart's segment. Can't say I blame them with this show tonight. It's been a chore to work through.
Match #5 - Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. Primetime Players; #1 Contender Match
Kane starts off with O'Neil. Kane tags in Bryan and they put the boots to Young but the heels eventually do get in control of the match. Kane gets the hot tag and take out the PTP then hits Young with a choke slam.
In the end, Kane goozles Bryan and choke slams him onto Darren Young. Bryan lays there and gets the pin, unbeknownst to Kane. Daniel Bryan and Kane become the #1 Contender to Kofi and Truth and will face the champions at Night of Champions.
That was an all-right match. I like the strange bedfellows arrangement with Kane and Bryan. In the short term, it could be fun.
We get a brief recap of what happened last week when Ricardo ate the Brogue Kick from Sheamus.
Match #6 - Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodruigez) vs. Tyson Kidd
Kidd gets a decent amount of offense in, but in the end Del Rio locks on the cross armbreaker to get the win.
Afterward, Del Rio asks if Sheamus saw it and promises to win on Sunday.
They cut to ringside. Cole gets serious for a few minutes and says that Lawler has passed out and is being tended to medically backstage. He makes it clear that this is not part of the show.
Match #7 - David Otunga vs. Sheamus
Sheamus comes out to a decent pop, Otunga gets no heat. No talk from the announce position.
Otunga gives Sheamus a shot and slaps him and that wakes up the champion. He delivers a series of knees and his clubbing forearm shots. He follows it up with the Irish Curse Backbreaker and hits the Cloverleaf for the quick submission win. He poses for the fans and walks up the ramp. He pauses then heads back to the ring.
The fans chant for the Brogue Kick and he calls for it. He delivers the big shot to David Otunga one more time, and here comes AJ.
AJ says she's left with no options for Sheamus defiance of authority, but here comes Booker T. Booker tells her this is World Heavyweight Championship business. Booker says that Sheamus knows that he should not be using the kick. Booker sets it up that if he uses the kick anywhere against anyone, Sheamus will be stripped of the title, and that's final.
We get a shot backstage of Bret Hart talking to Rey Mysterio.
Out of break they show shots of the Bell Centre outside. They send it to a recap of the tag match between the Prime Time Players and Kane and Daniel Bryan, with the ending where Kane choke slams Bryan onto Darren Young. They show a Tout from the champions, saying that if Kane and Bryan solve their issues, they could be a "bigger molehill" and they need to get to work.
Daniel Bryan complains about his neck. They bicker a little then Bryan realizes he was the guy who got the pin. They argue over the name of the team before the doctor suggests "Team Friendship," Kane and Bryan yell "NO!" at the doctor then leave the room.
Cole gives us an update on King, saying he's been taken to a local medical facility but is breathing on his own now. He says out of respect there will be no more commentary tonight.
Match #8 - Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes
Rey makes his entrance as they go to break. Rhodes comes out after the break.
Late in the match, Rey sets up the 619 but here comes Miz. Rey turns his attention to him, and dropkicks him off the apron. Rhodes uses the distraction to hit the Cross Rhodes on Rey to get the win.
Miz gets in the ring and taunts Rey then goes to do something but Rhodes hits him with the Cross Rhodes too. He holds up the belt and poses, then throws it on Miz and leaves. Miz wonders what just hit him.
We get a shot backstage of John Cena, who sees a guy working on something. They nod at each other and Cena heads toward the ring.
Cole gives us another update and says that King is responsive to light and still receiving oxygen. Cole stresses it's an encouraging sign and hopes he pulls through.
I think I speak for all of us at Ring-Rap that we wish nothing but the best for Jerry Lawler and hope that he has a speedy and full recovery from whatever happened at ringside. This is hanging over the show like a dark cloud now.
In Ring Segment:
Bret Hart comes back out, and he introduces John Cena, who gets a hearty round of boos. Bret compares the Punk/Cena feud to himself and Shawn Michaels back in the day. He says he sees himself in Cena and he sees the old Shawn Michaels in Punk.
Cena puts Hart over in the face of "you can't wrestle" chants, saying he couldn't lace Hart's boots. Hart asks what Cena's going do to shut up the "phony little Punk." Cue CM Punk, who takes exception to being called a phony and comes to the ring.
Punk puts himself over. He says he's better than Shawn Michaels, and better than "that little hillbilly you made tap out at Wrestlemania 13" in reference to Stone Cold Steve Austin. He says he's even better than the Rock and says that Punk did in one night what Cena couldn't do in a calendar year.
Cena calls Punk a liar and conceited scumbag. He says he learned tonight that Montreal is an honest city and he's going to hit Punk with truth. Cena says that for 300 days, Punk has been champion and for 300 days that title has been irrelevant.
Cena says there's no conspiracy, Punk is just a nobody. Cena says the night he made the most noise (the pipebomb promo), his mic was silenced.
Cena recalls Punk telling him that Cena became what he hated. Cena admits he went from underdog to odds-on favorite, but he did it as himself. Cena says that Punk has changed multiple times, stolen colors from Hall of Famers and even stole Randy Savage's elbow. That drew a reaction.
Cena says it's because Punk hasn't found himself. Punk has retained the title by any means necessary but that doesn't make him a champion. Cena says that at Night of Champions, Punk is at the greatest risk of losing the WWE Championship.
Cena apologizes for being rusty then says a bunch of stuff in French. The crowd eats it up and Punk inuslts him for lowering himself to speak the language of the locals. Cena gets fired up and stops Punk from mocking him and says he didn't lower himself to the fans because they're the reason they're all there.
Punk goes to say something and Cena cuts him off, calling him an ignorant son of a bitch. Cena translates what he said and says that Sunday he not only going to win Sunday, he is gonna kick Punk's ass. They stand toe to toe for a minute. Punk fakes a shot but Cena blocks it. They back off of each other, then Punk tries to take a shot at Bret.
Bret's up to the task and blocks it and delivers a shot of his own. Punk rolls out of the ring, clutching his head and the title belt. He backs up the ramp and teases charging the ring but doesn't. Cena and Hart pose for the fans to wrap up the night.
Cole gives one more update that King is breathing on his own and is being prepared for medical tests and wishes him well to close the show.
That was an inspired promo from Cena, although I do admit my coverage is a bit disjointed at the moment. I will come back and edit it to clean it up shortly. The Lawler news has everything a bit out of whack.
This show was plodding along tonight as it was. We got a little advancement of the main stories for Night of Champions along the way but all in all this show was a chore to watch. It did little for the overall sell of the pay-per-view.
Being honest, after the Lawler news broke it was hard to focus on the show anyhow. I will do my best to come back and review and reanalyze the show in tomorrow's Raw Afterthoughts after I've had some time to reflect. Thanks for watching along tonight.