The WWE Championship is in abeyance. For the simple, it's now up for grabs.
We continue the march to Battleground in two weeks tonight. We're live in Chicago, which is CM Punk's hometown. How will Punk respond to the new alliance between Paul Heyman and Ryback that formed last week?
Also, Randy Orton showed us a new mean streak last week when he took out The Miz in his hometown. Orton's new vicious streak was a result of Stephanie McMahon challenging him in an earlier backstage segment. Will Orton continue to assault folks and prove his worth to the power couple?
In the pre-show teaser, Cole says that the men involved in the uprising will be addressed by Triple H and Stephanie, and possibly there could be a walk-out. What is going on?
Show Open, Live From the Allstate Arena in Chicago, IL
Prior to the show opening montage we get an "In Memory" tribute to Angelo Savoldi who recently passed.
They recap Daniel Bryan's win at Night of Champions and subsequent holding-up of the title on last week's Raw. They move to the end of the show when the Shield ganged up on Bryan, who was saved by several members of the locker room. They all celebrated afterward.
The ten men involved are standing on the stage. This includes Justin Gabirel, the Usos, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam, Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder, and the Prime Time Players. Justin Roberts introduces Triple H and Stephanie McMahon and they come to the ring with smiles.
Cole, Lawler and JBL check in on commentary. Cole points out that the ten men on the stage are protesting what happened. Cole says there has been talk of the wrestlers joining forces in a response to the abuse of power.
Triple H welcomes us to the show and Stephanie says it feels good to be in Chicago. Trips points out the ten on the stage "in unity, holding Daniel Bryan up while he chanted 'Yes!'" He talks about the speculation about the ten men getting fired or punished. Stephanie says it is all about thanking them for standing up and grabbing the brass ring.
Rob Van Dam interrupts and says they were fighting for Daniel Bryan. He accuses Trips of screwing Bryan over and says they were standing up for what is right. Hunter thinks that's hard to believe because he has never known a WWE Superstar to fight for the WWE Champion; he's only known superstars to fight for the WWE Championship.
Hunter asks if they were fighting for Bryan to get a title shot when it could be one of them. Stephanie asks R-Truth and Zack Ryder about their chances to be the champion. She says the reason they don't get the chances and it's The Shield. Hunter says he'll give the men on teh stage to get their shot at The Shield in an elimination handicap match (11 on 3). Trips says they'll have partner who thinks he's better than they are - Daniel Bryan.
Stephanie says they also want to thank the fans. She tells them they will have the opportunity to choose who will face Randy Orton later. She lists the options to vote for R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, and Rob Van Dam. She encourages the fans to download the app and vote, which gets a smattering of boos. Triple H closes by saying "what's best for you is what's best for business." His music hits to end the segment.
I wonder if this pair has been watching the end of Mickie James' run in TNA? The disingenuous character portrayal by Trips and Steph seems like what she was doing. They really could put more heat on this by just being true heels instead.
The announcers narrate some still images from Night of Champions when Paul Heyman pinned CM Punk with the help of Ryback. They shill that Punk will "break his silence" and address the situation later tonight.
We get highlights of Triple H telling Rob Van Dam on Smackdown that he gets a rematch against Alberto Del Rio at Battleground, then Del Rio attacking him from behind. The announcers discuss whether it was coincidence that the attack happened seconds after the news Trips relayed.
Match #1 - Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio
Kofi is already in the ring. Jerry Lawler hypes the poll to select Randy Orton's opponent tonight on the app. Cole gives us a tutorial on the app.
Kofi controls the early action. He drop kicks Del Rio off the apron, then tries a suicide dive. Del Rio flees to the timekeeper area. During the break, Del Rio gets the advantage by working on Kofi's arm.
Del Rio keeps working the arm, locking the Cross Arm Breaker over the ropes and broke it at four. The fans amuse themselves with various chants while Del Rio goes up to the second rope. Kingston hits a drop kick that shows a lot of light. Lawler sells it that Kofi just didn't get all of it. Del Rio hits a good kick to the ribs.
Kofi hits the SOS for a good near fall. He follows with the Boom Drop then goes for Trouble in Paradise. Del Rio counters with a German suplex for a near fall of his own. A bit later, Del Rio goes for the Cross Arm Breaker but Kofi counters. Del Rio tries a backbreaker, but Kofi counters to a DDT for another good near fall.
In the closing moments, Kingston tries a cross body from the ropes but misses. Del Rio hits the bad arm with an arm breaker, then runs Kofi to the ring post. He locks on the Cross Arm Breaker for the submission win.
As Del Rio celebrates, the announcers speculate what condition Kofi will be in for the 11-on-3 match later. They again hype the segment featuring CM Punk addressing the match at Night of Champions.
That was a good television match. Del Rio has been getting good television wins lately and that makes him a credible heel champion. I still can't understand why they don't do more with Kofi. The fans react to him and kids enjoy him no matter if they bury him or not.
Renee Young is with The Miz. She rewinds the segment from last week when Randy Orton laid an ass-whipping on Miz in front of his parents. Before Miz can answer Renee's question, Triple H interrupts and asks if he's still sore. He says he's responsible for Miz's well-being and can't let him near Randy Orton, regardless of how bad Miz might want to get his hands on him. Hunter says that he is all about giving the people what they want and hypes a MizTV segment with Big Show. That proposition does get booed by the live crowd.
JBL smiles and says that's awesome. Cole feeds it into a recap of the Rhodes family battles with Randy Orton, with Cody and Goldust losing to Orton and Big Show being forced to knock Dusty out last week by Stephanie. They hype the 11 on 3 main event.
We see the Wyatts arriving for the next match. JBL calls it "good for business" and Lawler asks "What?!" Bray sits down in the rocking chair to observe.
Match #2 - The Prime Time Players vs. Erik Rowan and Luke Harper
Rowan keeps the lamb mask on until he gets the tag. Kind of funny. He hits a headbutt on Young. The lights dim down and Cole says that happens when the Wyatts are in the ring. Young continues to sell for the Wyatts.
He gets a hot tag to Titus finally. Titus gets an offensive run in, and sets up a fallaway slam but turns attention to Rowan. Eventually Titus eats a wicked clothesline from Harper who covers for the pin.
After the match, Bray hits the ring. He hits Darren Young with the Sister Abigail after beating him down a bit. He poses over the Players and yells "follow the buzzards!" Cole reminds us the Players will be in the 11-on-3 match later as well.
This is just a sign of how badly WWE needs a strong face team. Rowan and Harper and Rollins and Reigns could be money with good face opponents, but it looks like the eventual feud will be when one of those two teams turns.
Obviously the theme is to soften up the faces going against the Shield in the main event. This is also making them look weak after they got some positive momentun after looking weak since SummerSlam..
We get a shot of the Big Show walking backstage, and he'll be on MizTV, next.
Miz comes out looking serious and glum. He says normally he would smile and welcome viewers but he's banged up and pissed off. He recounts Orton beating him up in front of his friends, and mother. He says payback will come for Orton and it will be awesome. Miz introduces Big Show as his guest.
As Big Show comes to the ring they recap the segment with Big Show knocking out Dusty Rhodes at the direction of Stephanie McMahon.
Show watches the footage as we come back live. Miz says he has known Show for a decade both as partners and opponents. He respects Show, but has to ask him as a man how he could do what he did to Dusty Rhodes. He puts Dusty over as a mentor and father figure to Show as Show stands quietly. Miz tells Show his personal issues are being taken advantage of by Stephanie and Hunter.
Miz asks Show if he sees what they're doing. He says they're trying to break Show, because he's the biggest guy in the locker room. If they break him, they feel they can break anyone. Miz tells Show it's time for him to step up and tells him to "look that witch demon in the eye." Right on cue, Stephanie McMahon's music hits.
Steph walks to the ring to crickets. She threatens Miz with slander for his remarks, admitting she would let some of it slide because Miz likes to stir the pot. Miz starts to tell him where to stick the legal threats but she cuts him off. She recalls the humiliating beating that Miz took last week.
"You know you're not a major player, Miz and there's nothing worse than a superstar that peaks too early." She calls Miz a utility player and he's the guy that WWE calls on for early morning radio, personal appearances around the world and supermarket openings.
Stephanie says she watched Miz's mother's look go from hope to disappointment because Miz failed. "Randy Orton dismembered you in this ring and once again you couldn't measure up." Stephanie tells Miz she hates to do this to him, and orders Show to knock him out. Show delivers the punch with no hesitation and walks away. Stephanie smirks.
Show didn't dramatize this one. He didn't look happy about it, but didn't hesitate. Stephanie is being more authentic in her heel role than Triple H is at this point.
We get some hype for CM Punk appearing later, and Lawler throws in some "last minute" hype for the poll to choose Randy Orton's opponent.
Match #3 - Randy Orton vs. Rob Van Dam (w/Ricardo Rodriguez)
Randy Orton makes his entrance. King gets up and reveals the result of the poll, which is Rob Van Dam. R-Truth got 17 percent of the vote, so apparently 17 percent of voters are shit-faced drunk. RVD and Ricardo come to the ring to a good reaction.
After some basic back and forth action, Orton controls things as we head into commercial. The announcers talk about the action during the break. RVD hits Rolling Thunder after making a brief comeback. He tries a split-leg moonsault but Orton moves. He follows with the elevated DDT and poses.
Orton cues up the RKO, but RVD counters with a kick then a scissors roll-up for two. Van Dam keeps up the offense, hitting a thrust kick then going up top. Orton gets up, so RVD hits him with a somersault off the ropes instead. RVD goes up again for the Five Star, but Orton shoves him and crotches him, then delivers a big boot to knock RVD to ringside.
The official count starts while Orton beats RVD down. He throws him face first to the announce table, then into the barricade. The match ends in a double count-out. He drops RVD across the barricade then throws him into the steps and continues to hammer away as Ricardo has scampered off. He throws him into the steps again.
The beatdown continues, throwing RVD across the announce position then dragging him back into the ring. He sets RVD up on the corner and hits the elevated DDT off the top rope. Trainers and officials try to break things up as the announcers send it to a replay of the beating.
We get it, okay? The faces look stupid and weak in these matches. I admit the attack made Orton look mean and sadistic, which he needs. But there's a World Heavyweight Championship match coming up in 13 days. Shouldn't they be telling that story instead of making RVD look pathetic going into an 11 on 3 match later?
We get a vignette for Los Matadores. We'll see them on Raw next Monday.
Cole gives us breaking news from during the break. Alberto Del Rio laid in a cheap shot attack as trainers were helping RVD from the ring. He locks on the cross arm breaker twice.
That's more sell for the WHC match than we've had all night and it happened on the app.
The announcers sell the 2K14 video game, featuring 30 Years of Wrestlemania. That game is available on October 29.
The Bellas are chatting when Randy Orton shows up. He asks Brie if she saw what he did out there. He says that it is only a fraction of what he will do to Daniel Bryan at Battleground. He offers himself as a real man. She tells Orton that she has a real man in Daniel Bryan.
We get footage from the Triple H: Thy Kingdom Come DVD that releases tomorrow. Stephanie is watching when AJ walks in. Stephanie hands her a copy and says she can watch it to see a real wedding.
AJ complains about the ridiculous tag match she has against the members of the Total Divas cast. She asks if they can just go away and complains that it's no way to treat a champion. Stephanie gets in AJ's face and looks at her. AJ tells Stephanie that she's in her personal space. Stephanie says the company is her personal space and AJ will compete in the match or she might not be champion much longer.
There's your reminder as to who the lead female heel is in the company. And it's not AJ.
Match #4 - Santino Marella vs. Fandango (w/Summer Rae)
Before the break, Fandango dances his way to the ring with Summer. They're still dancing in the ring as we come back. Santino gets a decent reaction when he comes out.
Fandango misses wildly with a clothesline to open but takes control of the offense. After some back and forth, Marella gets an abdominal stretch in while he mocks Fandango's dance. In the end, Summer Rae runs a distraction and it allows Fandango to get Marella down for the leg drop from the top rope. Fandango dances out with the win.
Filler match for the night. Not sure why, or what, or anything else about it other than to get Marella on TV.
This hasn't been a fun show tonight - especially if you're a fan of faces.
The announcers hype up that CM Punk will respond to the Night of Champions match, up next.
They show a shot of Wrigley Field, with their sign lit up with "Go Blackhawks." Cole cracks that the Cubs' season has been over since April.
CM Punk's music hits and he comes out wearing a Blackhawks jersey. The Allstate Arena goes NUTS as Punk heads to the ring. At Battleground, CM Punk will face Ryback as Cole gives us the "breaking news" during Punk's entrance. He gets a rousing ovation that he waits out.
Punk tells the fans they've "ruined a completely good bad mood" with their ovation and he can't help but smile for the first time in eight days. He says he tried to get the Stanley Cup there but it's in Montreal getting engraved because Chicago is champion. He says he let them down and he's done that a lot lately.
Punk questions if he can do it anymore after losing to Heyman. He says he might not deserve to wear the Blackhawks jersey or perform in front of the world's greatest fans. He says he thinks he let everyone down so much that he doesn't deserve to say he's from Chicago.
Punk says then he came out to one hell of an ovation and he wore the Blackhawks jersey with pride. He recalls the Hawks being down 3-1 to Detroit in the playoffs and says they didn't feel sorry for themselves. He says they shut their mouths, put their heads down, kept their eyes forward and came back. He says that is the Chicago way. "Yeah, maybe we lose and the other city gets the better of us and we get beat up, but we pick ourselves up by our boot straps and we go to work the next day."
"Goddamit, I'm proud of you people." Punk says he might be down 3-1 but he'll come back and tie the son of a bitch up, go to overtime, and win. "That is the Chicago way, we fight." Punk says he doesn't care if it's Curtis Axel or Ryback or Paul Heyman but he wants a fight.
Paul Heyman interrupts, rolling out on a scooter, singing Sinatra's "New York New York." He introduces himself and the fans rain boos down on him. Punk tells him that he has 18,000 fans that will bail him out when he gets his hands on Heyman.
Heyman says he doesn't need a reminder of the beating he took and he's been in therapy since Night of Champions. He's confined to the scooter because of Punk. He takes solace knowing he can walk through life saying he beat CM Punk. He doesn't want Punk to feel sorry because he shouldn't. He blames geography and says Punk is from Chicago - the "second city", second place teams, second rate parents, and the second best in the world.
Heyman feeds it to video of Heyman pinning Punk, with Ryback standing watch, at Night of Champions. Chicago starts a "Walrus" chant and Heyman acknowledges it, saying he pinned the biggest shark in the city of Chicago.
Punk says he knows how this ends and Heyman needs to ask himself a question. He says when he jumps out of the ring and makes his move, can his two goons get to him faster than he can get to Heyman. Punk says that even if he gets there two seconds faster, he will rip his face off. Heyman rubs it in, saying not only did he beat Punk but he did it with his hands tied behind his back.
Heyman goes to leave but his cart won't start. Punk smiles and drops the mic and makes a beeline up the ramp. From the sides, Ryback and Axel attack before Punk can do much with Heyman. The scrum is on. Punk battles back, with Axel getting the better of him. He tries to throw Punk into the set, but Punk reverses it and Axel eats the lightwall. Punk hits a suicide dive on Ryback and rams him into the wing-side of the set.
Ryback fights back then runs Punk into the set then rips off the jersey. Ryback slams Punk into a crate then press-slams him into a table Heyman gets off the scooter and jumps off the edge of the stage. He hands the mic to Ryback who simply says "that's what happens to bullies."
A good heat-generating moment for Ryback by delivering the beating he did on Punk in his hometown. I liked the connection between Punk and the fans sharing in the Stanley Cup championship. The city-to-city taunts feel cheap usually, but this worked.
The announcers give us a recap of the previous segment. Punk is still getting helped up as the ladies are making their entrance for this next match.
Match #5 - The Bella Twins, Cameron and Naomi, and Natalya (w/Eva Marie) vs. AJ (c), Layla, Aksana, Tamina Snuka, and Alicia Fox
The announcers talk about how AJ was reluctant to work this match. After some basic action, Brie hits a facebuster for the Total Divas team to get the win.
This was weird. I guess Eva turns face at some point?
The Shield cuts a promo. Ambrose asks if Triple H and Stephanie threw them to the wolves or if they are the hounds that will chase the wolves down and eat them alive. Ambrose says their beef isn't important. He says their backs are against the wall. Rollins says that when that happens, they revolutionize the industry and they win. Reigns simply adds "believe that."
Daniel Bryan makes his entrance to a big reaction. Cole plugs the match for the WWE Championship at Battleground with the title being "in abeyance" Bryan tells the fans they're awesome. He recalls being stripped of the WWE Championship last week. He was accused of conspiring with official Scott Armstrong. He says that Orton was knocked out and didn't need a fast count. Bryan mocks the idea that he would approach Armstrong to make a fast count.
Bryan calls it odd that Armstrong got fired, but Triple H gave him a lot of money. He says he doesn't know what happened at Night of Champions and he doesn't care because what's done is done. He says it doesn't matter what version of Randy Orton shows up at Battleground, he will take back what belongs to him and that's the WWE Championship.
Bryan says that when Orton wakes up after the pay per view, he will hear a word that will haunt him for the rest of his life - Yes!
The Shield's music hits and they make their entrance through the crowd. Out of nowhere, two men in hoodies attack the Shield. Security mobs them and it's discovered it's Goldust and Cody Rhodes. They scrum for a bit before security is able to escort the Rhodes' away to backstage. The Shield licks their wounds going to break.
That is actually a pretty cool angle. I guess they're moving toward bringing Cody back?
We get a recap of the attack by the Rhodes' out of commercial. The Shield is regrouping as the rest of the men in the match have come out for this match.
Match #6 - Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam, The Prime Time Players, The Uso Brothers, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Justin Gabriel and Kofi Kingston vs. The Shield; 11 on 3 Elimination Match
Kofi's arm is wrapped up and RVD has a band-aid on his forehead. Ziggler starts off and gets isolated. RVD gets the tag after a couple minutes of selling by Ziggler. RVD gets run through the ropes and takes the ring post. Ambrose hits him with his finisher to eliminate RVD first.
After commercial, Ambrose is working Kofi's bad arm. He gets eliminated at about 8 minutes in. Titus checks in and Ambrose tags out to Reigns. Power showdown here. The two battle back and forth briefly, then Reigns hits a spear to eliminate Titus. Reigns then takes out Justin Gabriel with a spear quickly. Zack Ryder checks in and gets a little offense, but takes a spear when he sets up for the Broski Boot. It's down to six on three.
Daniel Bryan checks in for the first time. He gets a flurry with a drop kick that sends Rollins and Ambrose tumbling to the floor. The Usos hit a superkick on Reigns, then hit a splash to send Reigns to the showers. The announcers hype that this was the first time Reigns got pinned in WWE.
We're down to six on two after the break. Young gets the better of Ambrose for a bit. Young rolls Ambrose up after a blind tag, which allows Rollins to hit his knee off the ropes to eliminate Young. Ziggler checks in next and works with Ambrose. He hits him with the ZigZag after a couple minutes to eliminate Ambrose. It's down to five on one.
Rollins attacks Ziggler. Ziggler tags out to Truth. Truth gets some offense in, but takes a nice looking curb stomp from Rollins and is eliminated. It's down to four on one, and the remaining four surround Rollins from the apron.
They all jump Rollins and beat him down. Ambrose runs back out for the save but takes a clothesline from Ziggler. Reigns comes out and takes a double super kick from the Usos, then the Usos hit simultaneous dives on Ambrose and Reigns to take them out of play.
Rollins attacks Bryan from behind as it's down to one on one in the ring. He gets the better of Bryan and perches him on the ropes. They battle, and Bryan shoves Rollins down.
He hits the flying headbutt on Rollins, then backs to the corner. He shakes his head as Rollins gets up and hits the running knee that turns Rollins inside out. Bryan covers for the win.
After the match, Bryan celebrates as Cole asks what Randy Orton must be thinking in the locker room. The announcers talk about Bryan becoming a locker room leader and what will happen if Bryan hits that running knee at Battleground. The show goes off the air with Bryan leading "YES!" chants in the middle of the ring.
This was fun to watch. The guys you would expect would get eliminated quickly (Ryder, Gabriel, Truth, etc.) were. They used it as an opportunity to establish Ziggler vs. Ambrose on Smackdown this Friday with Ziggler pinning Ambrose.
They missed a chance with a monumental moment by not playing up that Reigns had been pinned before in WWE. That moment fell flat for me no matter how they tried to spin it.
The match was fast paced and didn't drag, which also made it fun and the live crowd was hot for it. I don't know if anything really got accomplished by this match but it entertained.
But yet again, what I end up looking forward to at the pay per view in just two weeks is something outside the title picture. CM Punk and Ryback did a nice job of hyping their match with their brief yet physical exchange. So I'm sold on that. But that's all as far as Battleground is concerned.
Bryan cut a solid promo and focused on the title, but everything else is centered around Triple H and Stephanie's power trip. That does nothing for me to order a pay per view event. Randy Orton has his mean streak back from a couple years ago. That's fine, but he hasn't outright said he wants the title. So that ends up feeling like a bit of a miss to me.
I'll have more to say on this show tomorrow evening in Raw Afterthoughts. Thanks for watching along tonight.