CM Punk is still looking for some respect. Last week's tag team main event though didn't seem to get him any. He was the one pinned by John Cena, but he had his foot on the ropes. Punk protested, but to no avail. How will he respond to these events tonight?
Also being hyped up is the on-air interview with Jerry Lawler. Just two weeks removed from a major heart attack, we're slated to hear from The King from his home in Memphis, Tenn., tonight live during the broadcast.
We're live in Albany, N.Y., tonight. After standard WWE programming welcomes us, we go right to Paul Heyman and CM Punk already in the ring. Heyman introduces himself and says he's honored to be in the ring with "the best in the world," WWE Champion CM Punk.
Heyman says the show is grinding to a halt though right about now. Raw will not be presented until justice is served and Heyman sets up the events of last week in a video recap of the main event. Heyman tells us that Cena hit the AA but Punk got his foot on the ropes. He replays it in slow motion and asks what does that tell us?
He says that we're all witnesses to the injustice that has fallen on the title reign of CM Punk. Heyman calls for Brad Maddox, last week's official. He says that Maddox will apologize, then tender his resignation. Maddox eventually shows up and comes to the ring. Cole sets the show for us as Maddox comes out to the ring and Cole says he's with JR. JR says he's sure Brad knows he made a bad call.
Maddox addresses both men and says he made a mistake in his first main-event match. He should have checked the ropes before completing his count and feels terrible. Heyman accepts that statement then demands his resignation. Maddox pauses while the fans start a "no" chant.
Maddox says he apologizes but he doesn't feel....and Punk interrupts. He says he should feel ashamed because he embarassed himself and the WWE Champion CM Punk. Punk berates him and asks how he stands up and walks out there and pretends to be a man.
Maddox explains that he was brought to Raw by AJ Lee because they needed more officials. Heyman stops him and says that he's a scab and replacement. He pulls out an eye cover that also has an NFL logo on it, taking a pot shot at the NFL's official strike.
Punk gets upset again and asks about him being hired by AJ. He says if AJ has a brain she will fire Maddox for his mistake. He goes on and AJ's music hits. Here comes AJ skipping to the ring.
Heyman greets her after she dismisses Maddox. He says he assumes she will reverse the decision from last week and correct the injustice. AJ tells Heyman that when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me, and "mostly you." She insists her show will not be held hostage.
She asks who the hell they think they are. Punk fires back and talks about being the WWE Champion. He says he's the reason AJ has a job and he's the reason the fans are in the seats. He sets up the reason there's tension and replays the whole wedding proposal gone awry two months ago.
Punk looks at AJ and laughs. He talks about all the texts he got and the voice mails as well. He mockingly asks if he's embarassing AJ and goes on to talk about how intimate they were behind closed doors. He asks her to tell everyone he's the reason she has the skip in her step and to tell everyone "I'm the best in the world."
Heyman steps in and mentions the politics that were discussed on Punk's DVD. He tells Punk he'll handle it. He offers a marriage proposal of his own to AJ. He says they will top all the power couples like Brad and Angelina and Triple H and Stephanie.
Heyman promises they'd be the most powerful couple in sports entertainment and says he'll come up with the ideas and she could take credit. He says he likes young, dumb and ambitious women. Heyman holds his arms open but gets slapped by AJ. She walks away as JR says "Heyman is a slimeball."
Great heel work from Heyman and Punk. I guess this is how they solidify AJ as a babyface?
As they go to break, they show a shot of Lawler being worked on two weeks ago. They will interview him later.
Could have done without that.
Brad Maddox is talking to one of the officials when AJ walks up. He apologizes to her also. She says that she will make sure he never works in the business again. He made her look like an idiot after putting him in the main event. AJ stares off into space and he reiterates his apology one more time.
At the announce position, Cole introduces JR and says they will talk to King later tonight. JR goes to say that there will be rough waters for AJ tonight, but Vickie interrupts.
Match #1 - Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero) vs. Kofi Kingston (w/R-Truth)
Vickie introduces her man as Cole outlines the Twitter war that has brought this match about. R-Truth is trying to set little Jimmy in his chair, but Vickie comes over and mocks Jimmy. Vickie takes a glass of water to the face and the official sends her and Truth out of the ringside area. The match gets started finally.
Kingston gets off to a good start, hitting a dropkick then a dive on Ziggler who is out of the ring. The match goes to commercial with Kofi in charge. They come back with Dolph in charge. Kofi begins to work a comeback and hits a neat variation of his Boom Drop by spinning in mid air.
They exchange some good near falls. Dolph hits the Fameasser and gets a good near fall, then Kofi returns the favor with the SOS for a good near fall of his own. Kingston goes for a rope move but gets caught by Dolph. Kofi counters and slingshots him to the corner where Dolph tries some offense of his own. Kofi avoids and hits a high cross body for a good near fall.
In the end, Dolph creates his spot to get the Zig Zag and picks up the win.
These guys have worked a million matches it seems, but we haven't seen it in a while so it felt new. Cole and JR sold it well too. Hopefully this is a start of something good for Kofi.
JR sets up the situation with John Cena. He says the operation was worse than expected once they got in there, comparing it to a junkyard. Cole reads a Tweet from Cena about how he will try to get back as soon as possible. They set up an interview segment later.
Cole and JR talk about the anger managment work of Dr. Shelby. They feed it to a video recap of the matches that Kane and Daniel Bryan had on Smackdown this past Friday. They then go to the role play at a local diner. Kane serves as a waiter named "Gerald" who did nasty things to the cook earlier in the day because he was annoying.
Match #2 - The Prime Time Players vs. Zack Ryder and Santino Marella
The PTP are in the ring doing their dance thing and seal barking. Ryder and Young start off. Marella gets the tag and works the offense and teases the Cobra but he missed the tag to O'Neil.
O'Neil hits a spinebuster on Marella to pick up the win.
This felt pretty meaningless to me...
Cole sells the King interview coming up, and they show a shot of a door backstage with a "special guest" sign on it. JR says we'll find out who that person is, next.
In Ring Segment - Special Guest:
Mick Foley's music hits and here comes "Mrs. Foley's baby boy Mick!" to a standing ovation from the Albany faithful. JR puts him over as one of his favorites.
Foley says that he came tonight to Raw not as a legend but as a fan. He sees things on Raw sometimes that move and inspire him and talks about the emergence of CM Punk. The fans boo that.
Foley says the reaction is telling. He says the Punk he knew taught people to stand up for themselves and gave a voice to the voiceless. Punk's music hits and here he comes out to the ring again. He isn't with Heyman this time. Punk bumps Foley intentionally as he comes to the ring.
Punk tells Foley to stop his grandstanding in front of the people. He says if Foley has something to say to him, he should say it to his face. Punk says Foley is just trying to stay relevant and asks if he's there to shill a kid's book again.
Foley recalls sending Punk a text when he won the WWE Championship, asking how it felt to be the biggest star in the world. He says Punk responded two minutes later, saying it meant a lot coming from Foley.
Foley says he's bothered by Punk's actions and association with Heyman. Punk turns to the crowd and says he doesn't need their help and offers them to get on a mic so he can ram it down their throat.
Foley continues, saying he used to be a Heyman guy but Heyman can only get you "a certain way." You have to make the journey yourself. Foley says he stopped listening to Heyman and learned to make decisions on their own.
Punk assumes that Foley is going to tell him Heyman is a slime and liar. Foley tells Punk that Heyman never lied to him but he will do what's best for Heyman, not you. Foley questions Punk, one of the best talkers in the business, needing a mouthpiece. Foley tells Punk he has to decide if he will be an inspiration or Kool-Aid drinker.
Punk yawns then asks if they're done. Foley says that Punk will maybe listen about something he's well informed about: Hell in a Cell. He recalls how the match both made and shortened his career. Foley says that not one day has passed where he's had to ask for respect because he earned it.
Punk asks Foley if he wants the old CM Punk. Foley says he wants Punk to show the world by stepping in Hell in a Cell with John Cena. Punk says he's heard a similar speech from Cena, where Cena told him Punk would earn respect by walking out of Boston with the WWE Championship. Punk says "look at me now!" and tosses the belt.
Punk talks about being punched by Bret Hart. He says it would be more embarassing to attack Foley because Foley is below him. Punk says that he knows he doesn't need to do anything for the people because they're below him too and they turned their back on him. Punk goads Foley, saying that Foley would set himself on fire for the people, but Punk just wants to bring them to their knees.
Punk says he's raised the bar by the length of his title reign. Foley answers with 29, the length of his three reigns. He says the people just don't care and asks Punk if he wants to be a statistic or a legend. Foley sarts to show some fire and says that AJ gave him the authority to come out and talk about the Hell in a Cell match.
Foley tells Punk he knows Cena had elbow surgery, but he should be ready for Hell in a Cell. He tells Punk he has to make a decision and tell Cena to his face. He tells Punk to think good and hard about it and make the decision for himself, Foley, and the fans. Punk looks down at the belt as Foley leaves.
This was a great segment. The crowd didn't react as hot to it live but it televised very well. Punk is a great talker when given a chance to do so and if Foley has something to grab on to, he is great.
Match #3 - The Miz (Intercontinental Champion) vs. Ryback; Non-Title match.
Miz makes his entrance while they recap Ryback throwing a couch at him last week.
Ryback gets the better of Miz early. Miz flees, then kicks Ryback in the chest as Ryback tries to follow Miz back in. Miz gets a count after a few kicks to the head. Ryback comes back with a powerbomb.
A fan gets in the ring during the match but security is right there to pounce. Ryback hits his finsiher to get the win.
Cole and JR tried to put this over as a surprise, but it wasn't effective since Miz hasn't won a non-title match in some time.
They show a video package of Daniel Bryan and Kane eating in the diner. They bonded through talking about beating up eight men on Smackdown. Kane bashes the table as Daniel Bryan yells "yes!" over and over. They pull back and show Mae Young, asking to have what they're having.
A bit of a dated reference to the 1989 movie "When Harry met Sally."
AJ is talking to a group of officials. She tells them they are the backbone of the company. She looks specifically at Brad Maddox and says everyone makes mistakes. She tells them to go out and have a great rest of the show. Alberto Del Rio, Ricardo and David Otunga enter the room.
She says all three have been victim of the Brogue Kick, so she booked them in a six-man tag match agaisnt Sheamus, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara. The heels protest, saying Ricardo's not a wrestler. Ricardo rips off the neck brace and says he wants to compete. "Arriba!" he yells and runs off.
Match #4 - Wade Barret vs. Tyson Kidd
Barrett gets a televised entrance. Kidd gets a fast start, but it doesn't hold up. Kidd gets a hope spot a little later on, but Barrett hits a swinging side slam. He finishes it off with an elbow shot that the announcers say is called ""the Souvenir."
The announcers set up the Jerry Lawler interview, next.
Jerry Lawler Interview:
Cole is in the ring and he says that they would try to go live to Memphis momentarily for an interview. Cole recaps the events of that week and says that Dr. Michael Sampson told him earlier in the day, Lawler is so far along in his recovery considering what the trauma his body went through. Cole welcomes Lawler via the Tron.
Lawler appears on the Tron and gets a great ovation from the fans. Cole says Lawler looks great but Lawler points out his raspy voice from the tubes down his throat. The fans applaud again.
Lawler says he doesn't recall much of his match from Raw the week he had the heart attack. He recalls waking up in the hospital and thinking he and his girlfriend were still in Aruba from "two weeks" prior. He talks about how overwhelming the fan reaction has been and thanks the fans for their well wishes from the bottom of his heart.
Cole asks when King will return to Raw. King says it was a matter of time, once Raw went from two hours to three, he defied anyone to sit next to Cole and not have a heart attack. He notes he's just kidding. He says he's ultimately leaving his return up to the doctors and will be back once they give him the green light. The fans give another big ovation and a "Jerry" chant breaks out.
Simply amazing. Lawler's voice is still very rough, but he looks good. Hope the recovery continues well.
Match #5 - David Otunga, Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodruigez vs. Sheamus, Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio
Heel introductions take place first, then there's a commercial break. They introduce the faces next, and then there's another commercial break. The match is joined in progress.
Ricardo's wrestling in his tux. Sin Cara roughs him up before Del Rio attacks from behind, giving Ricardo an advantage. He tags out after a one count.
Del Rio gets the better of Sin Cara and Ricardo wants the tag. Del Rio gives him the tag, but Sin Cara hits a huracanrana after a kick. Sin Cara tries to get a tag to Sheamus, but ends up getting the tag to Rey instead.
In a random shot, we see the PTP watching from backstage. Sheamus gets a hot tag eventually and gets the better of the heel team. Rey ends up at ringside while Sheamus is clubbing on Ricardo in the ropes.
Rey comes back and hits the 619 at Sheamus' prompting. Sheamus tags out to Sin Cara, who hits a springboard swanton to get the win. Afterward, Sheamus takes down David Otunga with a Brogue Kick.
Afterward, the announcers hype that Cena will give an update on the operation he had on his elbow.
Dr. Shelby tells Kane and Daniel Bryan that they've made great progress. He says they need one more piece of therapy and has the waitress bring food. She gives them the opposite meals: pasta and meatballs for Bryan, and salad for Kane. Dr. Shelby tells them to take one bite in order to walk in the other man's shoes.
Kane stares at a lettuce leaf as Bryan stares at a meatball. They both take small bites. Shelby asks Kane how he feels, and Kane lets out a loud burp. Bryan says it wasn't as bad as he thought, but eventually loses his lunch in Dr. Shelby's lap. Kane says "check, please..."
Okay, that was a bit much.
In the arena, Cole says it's time for naming the Kane and Daniel Bryan team. The options are Team Teamwork, Team Hell No, and Team Friendship. He tells fans to go to Twitter and vote.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance. Kane made his entrance. Ross asked how long they could hold the tag titles. "As long as they want," Cole said. He must have been corrected because after a slight pause, he said it probably wouldn't be long because they don't get along. The team name voting was revealed. Team Hell No won. Boo!!! Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow hit the ring and attacked Kane and Bryan from behind. Cody and Sandow went to the stage. Rhodes said it was time to talk real tag team names. He introduced himself and Sandow as "Team Rhodes Scholars." Sandow said Kane and Bryan finally have a reason to be angry... Powell's POV: A weak attack that didn't carry any weight. Quick shots that startled the tag champs. Rhodes and Sandow came off like pests more than two guys going for real heat. Team Hell No? People suck. Highlights aired of Paul Heyman asking A.J. to marry him and eating a slap in the face for his trouble... Highlights aired of Mick Foley and C.M. Punk from earlier in the show... The announcers hyped John Cena's appearance for later...
In Ring Segment:
Daniel Bryan comes out, then Kane. JR poses a question about how long these two guys can hold the tag straps. Cole says "as long as they want," but after a pause he says it wouldn't be long because they don't get along.
They reveal the team name vote, which goes to "Team Hell No." Rhodes and Sandow sneak in and attack Kane and Bryan from behind. Cody and Sandow head to the ramp and get a mic. Rhodes says it's time to talk real tag team names. He introduces himself and Sandow as "Team Rhodes Scholars." Sandow says Kane and Bryan have a reason to be angry now. You're welcome.
That was pretty weak. Rhodes and Sandow come off as pests rather than garnering heat.
They show highlights of the opening of the show, with Heyman asking AJ to marry him only to get slapped in the face. They then show a highlight from the Foley and Punk exchange from earlier as well. The announcers hype up Cena's appearance later.
Match #6 - Eve and Beth Phoenix vs. Alicia Fox and Layla
The finishing sequence of this match comes when Beth hits a slingshot suplex. Eve tags herself in and hits a neckbreaker on Alicia to get the win for the team.
Afterward, Kaitlyn walks out with a crutch. She says she couldn't see her attacker but she could see the hair. She got the security footage from TD Garden to do this. She says the attacker was a blonde. Eve points at Beth, but Beth denies it. Eve kicks Beth and hits her with a neckbreaker.
The fans were flat on this one. This storyline is confusing anyhow. It's obviously Eve who did this.
Match #7 - Brodus Clay (w/Cameron and Naomi) vs. Tensai
No Sakamoto tonight. After some typical big-man offense and missed splashes, Big Show's music hits. He comes out and hits Tensai with the WMD punch and the official throws the match out. Clay gets fired up, but he gets the same treatment and Big Show walks out.
The announcers hype up Cena's appearance, next.
In Ring Segment:
Cena's music hits and he comes out to a mixed reaction. Arm in a sling and a solemn look, no words toward the camera. He stays straight-faced as he hits the ring. He soaks up the mixed reaction and says there's always a mixed reaction about him.
He says he wasn't supposed to be there but with his future in question he wanted to come and thank the fans. He says he knows "those guys" (looking toward the back) won't like it but he thanks the fans for their help with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Cena tells us that people behind the charity are overwhelmed by the support from WWE fans and it goes to show that people should never doubt the WWE Universe. Cena acknowledges the mixed reaction again and says he actually welcomes it after the week he's had.
Cena apologizes to referees Chad Patton and Brad Maddox. He says Punk is a man who claims to speak truth but yet misquoted Cena. He says he told Punk that walking out of Night of Champions would define who he is. He says Punk has, since then, turned into a different guy. He calls Punk a "monkey fricken son of a bee sting" and hopes that's PG enough.
Cena says they have fun on Mondays and it's because of the fans. He says it's going to suck that he has to sit on the bench for a while. He wants to make one guarantee though. He guarantees that he will be at Hell in a Cell and not as a manager or a timekeeper but to fight.
Cena starts to get a bit fired up but CM Punk's music hits. Punk walks out, this time with Heyman in tow. Heyman holds the belt up behind Punk as they walk to the ring. Punk teases a red-haired kid with a handslap, but draws his hand back. JR calls that "a pathetic display."
Punk tells Cena he gave a beautiful speech. He says he's heard a lot of politicians speak, and Cena missed his calling. He says Cena even has the character assassination part down. Punk doesn't buy Cena's crap though and Punk says that there is only one of him. Cena knows him well because he's beaten him repeatedly.
Punk talks about his WWE Championship run and says he won't lose to a one-armed man. Cena tells Punk he should just shut his mouth and face him at Hell in a Cell and see what happens. Punk calls it unfair that Cena demand yet another title shot and says there are others in the back who deserve that shot before Cena, as he has had his chance.
Punk pauses and acknowledged the fans booing at him. He tells them he won't be a "passive/aggressive weenie" like Cena. He says he'll tell them to shut up and deal with them after he deals with Cena.
Punk tells Cena he has one word of advice for him - run. Punk tells him he knows Cena's legs work, so he needs to run while he can. Punk says he's going to turn around and count to five and if Cena is still there, he will beat Cena like he's never beaten anyone before. Punk says he won't have his integrity questioned. "I am the WWE Champion and I command respect!" Punk tells Cena he has a five count.
Punk turns his back, as does Heyman, who hoists up the belt again. Punk starts the countdown, but Cena has planned ahead. He has a pipe in his sling that he pulls out. Punk turns around and takes a step but pauses because of the pipe. Cena charges and hits Punk in the gut with the pipe, and Punk rolls from the ring.
Cena yells at Punk that real men wear pink and he hopes to see him at Hell in a Cell. Cena says that's what he calls a pipe bomb. Cena celebrates with the fans as Punk holds his stomach and heads backstage.
The camera follows Punk, who comes across Mick Foley. They exchange looks, and Punk walks by but stops. He walks back and says "you know what, Mick" and kicks him in the gut. Punk walks away and pauses again, but when he turns around this time his jaw drops. Ryback is standing over Mick, staring Punk down and breathing heavy as the show ends.
A decent final segment that points to the apparent Cena / Punk match at Hell in a Cell without actually saying it's going to happen. I could nit-pick the overselling of Cena where he says "his future is in question..." because we know it really isn't.
My hope is they're not pushing Ryback into a position to face Punk at the pay per view. Far too soon for him. My guess is this was just to set up something for next week, seeing as Cena can't wrestle for several weeks.
This show started off full of promise and we got some great mic work out of Heyman, Foley, and Punk tonight. I wish they would save Foley a bit more to make his appearances feel more special than tonight's did though. The third hour, however, was a drag...filler, after filler, after filler. The format isn't doing it for this viewer.
Join me tomorrow evening for the Raw Afterthoughts piece where we break this down some more. Thanks for watching along tonight.