Tonight, Raw comes to us live from Chicago, which just happens to be the hometown of the newest bad guy on the block, CM Punk. Last week, he beat down Jerry Lawler in a steel cage match. Punk is on a march for respect as he heads to his showdown with John Cena at Night of Champions. How will the hometown fans respond to him?
Triple H left us with more questions than answers about his future. Is it indeed game over, or is it just on pause? And we gear up for Night of Champions, which comes to us very soon in the TD Garden in Boston. All the belts will be on the line. Who will step up to contend for those other straps?
They start off with a recap of last week's dynamics between AJ, CM Punk, and Jerry Lawler. Cole sets up a video package of his entrance. Jerry Lawler is backstage and he got assaulted by Punk in the backstage area.
Justin Roberts introduces Sheamus to the ring. Cole reminds us that Lawler is getting medical treatment backstage. Sheamus tells us the party is going to end for Alberto Del Rio but he's interrupted by CM Punk's music. He gets a big face pop from the hometown fans and a rousing "CM Punk" chant.
Punk tells Sheamus to not to talk to his hometown. He says they can't relate to Sheamus but can relate to Punk because he's from Chicago. He says that what we saw earlier was Punk beating Lawler but the cameras didn't catch Punk getting attacked from behind. He says there's one king in Chicago and if you're going to attack, you best not miss. Lawler got his - Chicago style.
Punk says that Lawler attacked his integrity from the announce position and last week he taught Lawler a lesson in respect in the cage. The class was in session until a "white knight stuck his nose in where it didn't belong." That was John Cena.
Punk says that Lawler got what he deserved for famously saying at Raw 1000 that Punk turned his back on the WWE Universe. He asks the fans if he did and gets a rousing reply. Punk says that Cena helping Lawler means he agrees with Lawler. If he agrees with Lawler, that means he disrespects Punk and you don't disrespect Punk. Punk puts over his title run of 288 days and insists that Cena is the one who turned his back on the fans.
Sheamus interrupts. He pleads his own case of disrespect since he's the World Heavyweight Champion. He says The Rock at least had the guts to walk down to the ring and face Punk rather than Punk standing on the stage and mouthing down Sheamus.
Punk tries to put Sheamus in his place by saying that Sheamus, as the World Heavyweight Champion, is at least second best in the world to Punk. The two jaw a little more and here comes AJ.
AJ says that she means no disrespect to either man, but she has two announcements to make. First, the contenders for the championships will face each other, meaning John Cena will face Alberto Del Rio. Also, there will be a Champion vs. Champion match between CM Punk and Sheamus. She smiles and skips around the ring and back to the stage area.
A good opening segment to set up the big matches later on in the card. Sheamus was in a no-win spot here with Punk being welcomed by the partisan hometown crowd. Punk didn't give anything away that would make people think he was a face here either even with the big reaction.
We get a shot of Randy Orton, and he will face Dolph Ziggler next.
Match #1 - Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guererro)
Vickie comes out with her "excuse me" bit. She says she has issues with AJ but she'll discuss those later. She introduces Dolph Ziggler. As Orton makes his entrance, Cole resets what happened at the beginning of the show.
Orton controls much of the early action. He hits some clotheslines outside of the ring and rolls back in as the show goes to break. Orton continues to control the offense out of commercial, hitting a flapjack and landing some shots in the corner.
Ziggler takes a shot at Orton's leg and hits a swinging neckbreaker. He runs Orton into the barrier outside of the ring. After the exchange outside the ring, Ziggler controls the action with a headlock, complete with a handstand.
Orton rolls out of the way of an elbow and the two men exchange hands. After a charge in the corner, Ziggler hits a running clothesline for a two count. Ziggler goes up top but Orton counters by tripping him. He follows with an uppercut and a headbutt. Orton goes up for a superplex and hits it for a near fall.
Orton begins to fire up and hits the traditional offense, finishing with a scoop slam. He teases the elevated DDT but Ziggler counters. He eats a backbreaker for his troubles though as Orton gets another near fall.
Ziggler hits a big DDT for a good near fall of his own. He tries the Fameasser but Orton ducks out of the way and he hits the elevated DDT. Orton's hearing voices and tries to get the RKO, but Ziggler counters. They exchange moves, and Ziggler rolls Orton up and grabs the tights to get the win.
Dolph and Vickie briefly celebrate, but here comes The Miz. Cole sets up the two huge main events later - Cena vs. Del Rio and Punk vs. Sheamus. Miz has made his way to the commentary position and he declares it Monday Night Miz and commentary is awesome. They go to commercial.
A good win for Ziggler here over Orton, even with the antics. I enjoyed the match, and I enjoyed Cole calling it straight and not being overbearing with every action call. It gave the match a very "old school" feel.
After the break, Cole resets the top of the show and tells us that King is undergoing medical treatment. Miz says he's an upgrade from King. Cole sends it to our first segment of Anger Management for the night.
The therapist welcomes us and asks for the "anger collages" that the class was to form. Daniel Bryan has one that is the "yes" and "no" words, and he talks about the dueling chants. He gets disgusted and rips up the paper. Kane does his pyro bit with his collage. The therapist wants to talk families as we go back to the announce position.
They show Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio greeting each other. They feed it to a recap of Smackdown, when Cody Rhodes tried to de-mask Rey Mysterio. Sin Cara came out for the save and they ended up masking Cody Rhodes. They team up, next.
Match #2 - Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. Tensai (w/Sakamoto) and Cody Rhodes
Faces to the ring first, then heels. Miz cracks a joke saying "cool entrances don't win championships, I do." But he doesn't win afterward.
Cara and Rhodes start off and Cara hits a back handspring elbow. Rhodes backs to the corner and they face off as the show goes to commercial.
Out of the break, Tensai is controlling Cara, and Rhodes gets a cover but the referee is tied up with Rey. Cole resets why Miz is on commentary as Rhodes locks on a surfboard submission hold. Miz puts over Rhodes as the future and tells us that Rhodes needs to focus on winning at all costs rather than be obsessed with the mask.
Tensai locks on a nerve hold, but Sin Cara begins to pick up the pace. Rhodes holds Cara back from getting the hot tag at first, but Rey gets the tag and goes to work. He hits a seated senton to get two. Rey gets another near fall, but Tensai breaks it up. Tensai tries to load a powerbomb but Mysterio counters and hits the 619.
Cara hits a missile dropkick to take Tensai out of the picture, but Rhodes hits a front suplex on Mysterio. Rey sets up Rhodes for the 619 again and hits it, then tags in Cara for the Swanton bomb finisher to get the win. The faces celebrate in the ring.
Anger Management #2:
They set up a "circle of trust" exercise. They want Kane and Daniel Bryan to demonstrate. At first they refuse but as the rest of the group encourages them. The doc wants Bryan to fall backward into Kane's arms. They balk, but eventually they agree to do it. Bryan falls backward and Kane catches him.
The doc is impressed and wants them to work together to catch Harold. Harold balks but agrees. Harold goes crashing to the floor as Bryan and Kane discuss whether they knew the other wasn't going to catch him. Bryan admits that he finally understands Kane.
Match #3 - Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion) vs. CM Punk (WWE Champion)
Sheamus comes out first, and Punk gets the second intro. Punk isn't dressed to fight though and he gets a big pop from the hometown fans. Cole resets the verbal exchange between these two guys from the start of the show.
Punk says Sheamus doesn't know a lot about Chicago. They respect Punk's decisions and know that a Champion vs. Champion match is a Wrestlemania match and Punk is nothing less than a main event wrestler. They get the fact that you don't trot Punk out in the 8PM hour because he's from Chicago. Punk says it's Labor Day and they took the day off, and he will do the same thing. Punk exits with the belt held high.
Sheamus asks Punk if he wants to talk disrespect, that's exactly what he did to the fans by walking out. The fans want to see the match. Backstage, AJ confronts Punk and asks what he's doing. Punk tells her to check the contract and he has personal days, tonight being one of them. He gets in a car and exits.
Matt Stryker asks AJ what she's going to do about the match. She asks who he is, then tells him to go tell Sheamus to stay in the ring and she will find him an opponent. Commercial.
Out of break, Del Rio is coming to the ring. Miz can't believe that Punk walked out and says he was the hardest working man in the WWE. Sheamus' new opponent is Jack Swagger as Del Rio comes to the ringside area.
Good play. They got Punk some boos from his hometown fans by doing this. Punk made some minor changes in delivery and appearance and it gives him a fresh feel.
Match #3a - Sheamus (c) vs. Jack Swagger
They tie up and Sheamus shoulder blocks Swagger down. Swagger delivers some shoulders in the corner. Sheamus hits his shoulder block off the ropes but telegraphs a move off the ropes. Swagger targets the knee and gets one.
Swagger pounds Sheamus down in the corner and whips Sheamus across to the other. He eats a boot on the charge, though. Swagger tries to get the gut wrench powerbomb but Sheamus counters and picks Swagger up in a fireman's carry. Swagger counters then hits the Vader bomb.
Sheamus locks on a Texas Cloverleaf style submission to get the win. Del Rio is not happy at ringside. Cole and Miz say that Sheamus is evolving and bringing new offense to the game.
Ricardo runs a distraction for Del Rio to attack Sheamus from behind. They scrum, but Sheamus gets the better of it. He hits White Noise and cues up the Brogue Kick. Ricardo shoves Del Rio out of the way and takes the kick instead. Del Rio and Sheamus jaw as Miz and Cole recap it.
The announcers recap the situation after the break with Ricardo Rodruigez.
Match #4 - Kaitlyn vs. Eve
They talk about how Eve is the administrative assistant on Smackdown and she's got the show running well. As Kaitlyn comes to the ring they recap the battle royale that made Kaitlyn the #1 Contender for the Divas Championship.
Layla joins the announce position as the women tie up. Miz asks what happened to the Divas division. The two jaw at the announce position. Eve takes down Kaitlyn and the two women exchange blows. The official separates them and Eve now offers her hand to Kaitlyn.
Eve hits a drop toe hold while Miz and Layla jaw back and forth. Kaitlyn misses a leapfrog and holds her leg. Eve hits a neckbreaker to get the win.
Eve tends to Kaitlyn afterward, then confronts Layla. They shake hands after some prodding from Miz.
There was a match? The announce position was a mess, and being honest, Kaitlyn was a mess in this one.
Swagger is walking for the door. AJ asks where he's going and Swagger says he needs some extended time off because he's better than this. AJ pleads with him to stay because everyone has left her. Swagger simply says "sorry" and keeps walking.
Anger Management Segment #3:
The professor is proud of Bryan and Kane for their success. Bryan says he's glad he recognizes his anger problem and is willing to give Kane a rematch from their Summer Slam match. Kane accepts for that future match and talks about evicerating Bryan. Bryan and Kane argue amongst themselves as the rest of the class leaves. The therapist flips out now and says they learned nothing.
Cole says that AJ says the future of Kane and Bryan is in the hands of the fans. He sells several twitter options for Kane and Bryan to solve their issues - a match against each other, a tag match teaming them up, or for them to hug it out.
Stryker wants to know an update on Ricardo from Del Rio and he's outside the trainer room. Otunga emerges and says that on behalf of "his client" there's no comment. Del Rio sells disgust as the show goes to commercial.
Match #5 - Jinder Mahal vs Ryback
Ryback has a shirt now. Mahal is in the ring waiting for him with no intro. Miz calls Ryback intense and a brutal monster. The two men tie up to Goldberg chants. Miz puts himself over in the same class as Shawn Michaels. Not quite, Miz.
In the end, Ryback hits his fallaway slam finisher to get the win. Ryback leads a "feed me more" chant in the ring.
They've teased a couple programs for Ryback. I'd like to see them come to fruition somehow.
The announcers hype up the new WWE app before commercial. Out of break, they hype up the theme song for Night of Champions.
Matt Stryker asks AJ what she plans to do since the show is falling apart around her tonight. She simply tells him to go tell John Cena and Alberto Del Rio that their match is "falls count anywhere" rules.
Match #6 - Daniel Bryan and Kane
Bryan comes to the ring and refuses to acknowledge the chants of the fans. The announcers talk about whether or not the anger management will work and say that the fans will eventually get to him. Kane comes out next. They recap what happened between Kane and Josh Matthews on Smackdown. Kane has been fined an undisclosed sum as a result.
Cole gives the result of the Twitter poll. The result of the poll is that they are to hug it out. Bryan shakes his head as the fans chant. Bryan protests as the Chicago faithful chant "hug it out."
After much teasing back and forth the two men hug. They shake hands afterward and Bryan smiles. Kane slaps him on the shoulder and Bryan returns it. The feeling changes a little in the ring. They shove each other and Miz says he's second guessing nominating the doctor for a Nobel Prize.
The exchange gets physical with Bryan hitting a shot that sends Kane outside. Kane in turn begins to beat Bryan down outside the ring. Back in the ring, Kane hits a chokeslam then eyes up the chair. Kane wraps the chair on Bryan's head then goes up top. Officials distract Kane long enough for Bryan to hit him with the chair and exit.
Cole hypes the Cena vs. Del Rio match with the "falls count anywhere" stipulation. Backstage, Santino Marella gets ready for his rematch for the US Championship.
Match #7 - Santino Marella vs. Antonio Cesaro (w/Aksana, c); WWE US Championship
They do a picture-in-picture promo where Cesaro talks about success in several languages. Santino hits some fast offense with a hip toss and headbutt. He teases the Cobra but Aksana teases from the apron. Cesaro controls the offense now and hits a fallaway slam.
After some play for the Cobra, Cesaro hits the Neutralizer to retain his title.
Miz tried to make the title match feel important. Not much fan response, though.
Cole hypes up the "Falls count anywhere" main event yet to come.
Match #8 - Heath Slater vs. Zack Ryder
Neither man gets an entrance as the announcers talk about Ryder's use of social media and the Twitter war these two have had.
Slater controls the early going of this one. Ryder counters a charge with a knee to the face then hits a missile drop kick. He follows with the Broski Boot. He teases the Rough Ryder but Slater counters and hits a right hand. Ryder comes back with the Rough Ryder to win.
Ryder gets very little time to celebrate, though.
Vickie comes out screeching. She says she wants to address issues with AJ and she's not leaving 'til AJ comes out and talks to her. She demands a chair be brought to her and she sits down with arms folded and legs crossed, waiting. The show goes to commercial.
Out of the break, Vickie says that she is still upset about the contract vs. contract match, then feeds it to a video package that recaps their scrum from last week. Vickie talks to the empty chair and says that AJ should leave. Finally, AJ's music hits and she walks out, all business.
AJ says she heard from the Board of Directors and has been told her actions are inappropriate. She's also not to lay her hands on anyone ever again. Vickie gloats and says that she demands AJ apologize right now. The Chicago fans demand AJ slap her.
AJ says she's sorry but Vickie calls it pathetic. Vickie demands another apology and AJ gives it to her. Vickie slaps her and laughs as she goes away. AJ freaks out in the ring, throwing the chair and screaming.
Wow, that was hard to watch...
Prior to our main event, Cole resets the show for us with the attack on Lawler and Punk walking out on Sheamus, negating the Champion vs. Champion match.
Match #9 - John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio; Falls Count Anywhere
After some sell for Night of Champions, John Cena comes out to the ring first to a cascading series of boos from the Chicago faithful. The announcers talk about how much of an advantage it is to have home field advantage when Cena faces Punk in Boston. Alberto comes out without Ricardo after Ricardo took a boot from Sheamus.
While Del Rio makes his entrance they show a Tout from David Otunga, who says they will pursue legal action against Sheamus after the earlier events with Ricardo. Commercial.
Match is in progress, and Cena takes a Tilt-a-Whirl back breaker from Del Rio. Dueling chants get started as both men hit clotheslines on each other. Del Rio hits some offense and gets a two count. Del Rio goes up top, and Cena meets him with a drop kick.
Cena fires up with his trademark offense, complete with a Five Knuckle. Cena loads the AA but Del Rio gets to the ropes and drapes Cena over the top rope. He throws Cena into the stairs then stomps on Cena. Cena counters and takes down Del Rio then starts to dismantle the announce position. Del Rio hits an enzuigiri for a near fall.
Del Rio tries a suplex that Cena blocks. Cena tries to load the AA but Del Rio throws him into the post. Del Rio gets a chair and takes a swing but Cena moves then throws him over the barrier. Cena drags the steps over to the announce position as Del Rio climbs back into the barrier.
Cena takes Del Rio over to the stairs for the AA onto the table but Del Rio counters to a back suplex through the announce position. Del Rio gets a near fall out of it.
Del Rio gets a mic and insults Cena saying he is beneath Del Rio, as is Chicago. Del Rio tries to get the Cross Arm Breaker, but Cena rolls it through into the STF. Del Rio uses the mic to escape the hold.
Del Rio tries some offense but Del Rio goes crashing through the ropes, tweaking his leg. Cena goes out after him and they battle up the ramp. Cena gets suplexed on the ramp which nets Del Rio a near fall. Del Rio keeps up the assault.
Cena counters though and eyes up the car at first. He picks up a speaker though and goes after him. They battle to backstage and a camera hurries to follow. Cena counters out of the Cross Arm Breaker and hits the AA on Del Rio but takes a kick from a returning CM Punk.
Punk goes and retrieves Del Rio and puts him over Cena. Del Rio picks up the win. Afterward, Punk hits him with a version of the GTS on the hood of a waiting car. Punk leans in and says "respect" and gets in the car. The car goes to drive off and it pauses to show the driver - Paul Heyman. That's the show.
The match was fine for what it was intended to be. It put Del Rio in a fairly strong position without being fed to the Cena machine for an automatic win. It was physical and hard fought with the right guy picking up the win. Cena loses nothing since Punk was the one who cost him the match.
At first blush, I am not excited about a Punk/Heyman pairing. Punk doesn't need it at all - he can talk, and he can get heat. I know the history there, and perhaps they're using it as something for Heyman to do 'til the next appearance of Brock. But it seems like too many moving parts now.
I will have much more to say on this show tomorrow night in "Raw Afterthoughts." Thanks for watching along tonight.