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WWE Raw Report
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 4/23: Ongoing "virtual-time" coverage of live three-hour Raw - Cena-Lesnar contract signing, surprise appearance in opening segment

Apr 23, 2012 - 10:15:29 PM
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WWE Raw Supershow Results
April 23, 2012 - Episode #986
Live in Detroit, Mich.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


This week's live three-hour WWE Raw opened with the standard Raw intro package before going inside Joe Louis Arena for full pyro and crowd shots. The ring was already covered with a black carpet for the John Cena-Brock Lesnar contract signing to start the show. In the ring, Justin Roberts introduced ex-Smackdown GM Teddy Long to a decent reaction. Long stood next to the contract table and introduced WWE champion John Cena first, with Michael Cole having to correct Long on his introduction of Cena. Cena came out on-stage and noted he feels a little older today. Cole recapped Cena losing the "match of his life" at WrestleMania on Sunday and losing to Lord Tensai last Monday. Jerry Lawler said he's concerned about Cena losing his confidence.

Long then gave the formal introduction for Brock Lesnar, emphasizing he's a former UFC champion. There were boos in the crowd before Lesnar's music played to bring out the big man. No sign of Lesnar, though. Instead, John Laurinaitis walked out on-stage and told Long that Lesnar is not here yet. Laurinaitis told Long to tell Cena that Brock will get here when he wants to and it will be done on his own terms. He then told Long to tell Cena that he shouldn't be too concerned about signing the contract so quickly because it could be his last night on Raw. Laurinaitis paused for boos before telling Long to tell Cena to leave *his* ring right now. Long dejectedly asked Cena to leave the ring and Cena did the hard sell of concern and despair. Laurinaitis then continued that tonight is about People Power.

Suddenly, Edge's music hit to a huge reaction. The retired 2012 Hall of Famer Edge bounced right past Laurinaitis and walked into the ring to face off with Cena, who applauded Edge's presence. In the ring, Edge waited out applause and noted he's not supposed to be here right now...and he's not even under contract in a few days. Edge said he didn't come here to talk to *this* John Cena because he doesn't even know who this Cena is. Edge said he came here to talk to his greatest rival ever in this industry - the man who beat him in a TLC match in his hometown, the man who threw him into Long Island Sound. He said he doesn't know if losing to The Rock changed him, but he has to find that John Cena. Edge told Cena not to do his thing putting his hands in the air.

Edge said they might be polar opposites, but all they ever wanted to do was "this." He said since they were kids, this has been it. Edge asked Cena if he thinks Lesnar cares about "this" or any of "them." He said Lesnar is about money. He said Lesnar left for eight years while they carried the load. Edge told Cena to wake up because if he does not, then it's a slap in the face to guys like Shawn Michaels (pop), The Undertaker (pop), and me. "Wake up!" Edge screamed in Cena's face. The crowd responded with a "Cena, Cena" chant as Cena stood stone-faced, not moving. Edge got in Cena's space and told him he's not asking him to beat Brock, but he's telling him to. Edge threw down the mic and left the ring, leaving Cena alone in the ring with his thoughts.

Segment Reax: That...was...a...promo. Edge could have been speaking Spanish; the delivery, tone, facials, presence, and intensity was all there to get the message of the promo across, focusing on Lesnar's heel character being the anti-WWE guy and Cena being the face character "defending the cause" of WWE.

[Commercial Break]

[Q2] Back live, Chris Jericho's standard entrance occurred before his music played to bring out Jericho for the opening match of the show. Jericho is too valuable to have an unannounced, unhyped TV match. Once Jericho entered the ring, Kofi Kingston's music played to bring out Kofi for the singles match.

1 -- CHRIS JERICHO vs. KOFI KINGSTON

Once the bell sounded, the announcers noted Lesnar and Cena's contract signing will occur on Lesnar's time. The match started with a back-and-forth before Jericho slipped to the outside for a breather. Back in the ring, Kofi maintained control before the ref got caught up in the action, giving Jericho an opening to take control of the action. Meanwhile, the announcers focused on the Jericho-Punk title match at Extreme Rules in Chicago, noting Punk had one of the most memorable moments of last year winning the WWE Title in his hometown. Kofi avoided a corner splash and knocked Jericho to the outside, then landed a big flip splash on the floor. Kofi in control heading to break.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Jericho was in control with a headlock center-ring. Jericho maintained control with an enziguiri, then went to work on Kofi's upper back with a standing surfboard stretch with a knee to Kofi's back. Jericho followed with a bulldog, but missed with a Lionsault, and Kofi followed with a head scissors into a pinning combination for a two count. Jericho cut off Kofi with a clothesline, though, and resumed control. Of note, Jericho was forming a big knot on his forehead from a Kofi elbow strike at this point.

The two men traded nearfalls before Kofi climbed up-top for a big splash to Jericho's back, which he followed up with a Boom Drop. Kofi wanted Trouble in Paradise, but Jericho blocked. Kofi then tried another high-impact move off the top rope, but Jericho intercepted with a Codebreaker. Jericho collected himself, then applied the Walls of Jericho, which Cole called a Lionsault. Kofi had no choice but to tap out as Cole corrected himself.

Post-match: Jericho took the mic and told the crowd that his victory is proof he will become new WWE champion at Extreme Rules. He said Punk knows all about being extreme because he has an extremely alcoholic father, extremely drug-addicted sister, extremely morally-challenged mommy, and an extreme failure as a champion and human being. Jericho said in front of Punk's hometown, family, friends, and wannabe fans, he's going to see an extreme beating from him. But, he wants to present to Punk an extremely generous gift tonight. It will help Punk cope with the failure he's going to feel when he loses the title to him at the PPV. Jericho said he will prove once and for all that he is the best in the world at everything he does.

WINNER: Jericho via submission at 11:57. Strong win & promo for Jericho leading into Extreme Rules, but the problem with a three-hour show combined with a depleted roster reared its head in the opening match - a top star in an unannounced match against an upper-mid-carder on free TV waters down the value of seeing a top star compete in the ring.

[Q3] Video package: Cole fed to a video on when Brock Lesnar first arrived in WWE at Backlash on April 21, 2002 against Jeff Hardy. They showed Lesnar destroying Hardy ten years ago, with the ref forced to stop the match. ... Still to come tonight: Cena-Lesnar contract signing later tonight when Lesnar decides on his time and terms.

[Commercial Break]

Office: Back live, John Laurinaitis was on the phone with an unidentified person, then Eve walked into his office. They thanked each other, then Laurinaitis noted he has an opening in his administration. Laurinaitis said he, along with David Otunga, are looking for an executive administrator, which could lead to some big things. Eve accepted the position, then they shook hands and lingered forever. This feels like JBL forming The Cabinet - where's Amy Weber as Laurinaitis's image consultant?

Lesnar video: Cole fed to a video package on Brock Lesnar that focused on his ass-kicker character. This was the video from last week's Raw focusing on his journey from amateur wrestling to WWE to UFC and back to WWE. Back live, Cole plugged Lesnar-Cena on Sunday, saying things favor Lesnar right now.

Backstage: C.M. Punk was shown sitting somewhere. Josh Mathews then walked in and they revealed Punk was sitting in his locker room staring ahead in deep thought. Mathews wanted to know what the gift Jericho gave him was. Punk pulled out a basket full of alcohol. Punk pulled out one bottle from the basket and vowed to re-gift to Jericho at Extreme Rules. He said he has no use for the rest of the basket, then gave it to Mathews to enjoy. Wasn't the implication in Jericho's promo that he would give the gift to Punk later in the show? They seemingly eliminated one of the hooks for the rest of the show.

[Q4] [Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back live, R-Truth's music played to bring out Truth and Truth's invisible "Little Jimmy" friend. Cole noted Truth has Lord Tensai tonight fresh off Tensai's victory over John Cena in last week's main event. Sakamoto then came out on-stage, followed by Lord Tensai. They cut to an inset promo of Tensai discussing his victory over Cena last week. Tensai spoke Japanese and English in a loud voice, which the announcers did not understand. Lawler said he thought he heard the word tomato mixed in.

2 -- LORD TENSAI vs. R-TRUTH

Once the bell sounded, some of the vocal males tried to taunt Tensai with "Albert, Albert" chants. Tensai shook off some early attacks from Truth, then headbutted Truth in the corner. The vocal males picked up some "Yes! Yes!" chants for a few moments before Tensai called for the end. Tensai landed a big running butt splash before delivering a sit-down powerbomb. Tensai rolled over Truth, who sold helplessness. Tensai then spewed his green mist into the air before slapping on The Claw. Some grunts later, Tensai clawed Truth to the mat and scored a three count for the win as the crowd groaned. Lawler claimed this is what he did for eight years in Japan.

WINNER: Tensai at 2:01. The slow burn continues.

Backstage: Kane, sporting the welder's mask, was shown walking down the hallway. Lawler said Kane has a chilling message to send to Randy Orton prior to their Extreme Rules encounter.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Kane's pyro shot off in the arena before the arena turned dark. A big cloud of smoke then emerged on-stage before Kane emerged and walked toward the ring near the top of the standard first hour of Raw. After Cole recapped the Kane-Orton feud at this point, Kane stood in the ring to address Orton. Kane said it's his favorite night of the year on Sunday - the night when WWE gets extreme. He said that means bad things for Randy Orton.

[Q5 -- second hour / standard first hour] Kane said as Orton found at WrestleMania, he can't beat him with rules, much less without them. But, he knows what Randy is going through right now because he has discovered Orton's one true weaknesses. See, when he popped Orton's dad with a lead pipe, he saw fear on Orton's face. And, as he watched Randy lay next to his KO'ed father, a wave of disappointment overcame him because he realized Orton is not a man, not the viperrrrrrr, but nothing more than a scared little boy crying out for his father in the middle of the night, praying that the monster will go away. "But, I am the monster and nightmare that you will never wake up from, Randy," he said.

Suddenly, Orton's voice interrupted. Orton appeared on the Tron and said once you mess with family, there's no turning back. Suddenly, Orton revealed Kane's dad, Paul Bearer, tied up and sitting in a wheelchair. Oh no. You knew this was coming when Bob Orton was introduced in the storyline. Orton then opened up a back door that revealed a room filled with blue fog & smoke before pushing Bearer inside. Orton shut the door and glared back toward the camera. In the ring, Kane laughed to himself and said he doesn't care what Orton does to Paul Bearer. He said he has no intention of saving his "dad" because he's always been the devil to him, anyways. Kane then shot off his pyro in the ring.

Suddenly, Orton met Kane on the entrance ramp and the two men traded blows ringside before Orton ran Kane into the ring steps. Kane ate the ringpost, next. Orton then looked under the ring for a weapon and retrieved a rubber pipe billed as a steel pipe. Orton smacked around Kane, then bashed him over the guardrail into the front row. Kane ran away, then ran up the arena steps before disappearing. Back in the ring, Orton's music played and Orton posed as Cole plugged their Falls Count Anywhere match on Sunday.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler were shown on-camera as Orton's music continued to play in the background. The women in the crowd screamed as Orton apparently did something off-camera. Cole and Lawler reset the show and fed to a video on Edge's surprise appearance telling Cena to wake up and do something about Brock Lesnar. Still to come: Cena-Lesnar contract signing...on Brock's terms when he arrives at the building.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Cole said they're waiting for the Cena-Lesnar contract signing.

Backstage: Chris Jericho was shown walking down the hallway, then Alex Riley stopped him in the hallway and told Jericho he saw C.M. Punk drinking a bottle of alcohol from his gift basket. Jericho didn't buy it, so they walked together toward the locker room for a sneak peek. Jericho slowly opened the door to see Punk taking a swig out of a red Solo cup (cue up the country music) while on the phone and with a bottle of alcohol on the table, which was the key to the "misunderstanding." Jericho then saw Punk take another swig, but they did not show the contents of the cup. Jericho smiled to Riley before WWE cut to the ring.

[Q6] In-ring: Ricardo Rodriguez introduced Alberto Del Rio before Cody Rhodes came out as Del Rio's tag partner. The announcers then announced IC champion Big Show vs. Rhodes for the IC Title at the PPV on Sunday. Cole said the stipulation is TBD. Big Show's music then played to bring out Show and an injured Khali, who limped down to the ring with an eye on Rhodes, who took out Khali on Smackdown.

3 -- IC champion BIG SHOW & GREAT KHALI vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO & CODY RHODES

Khali started the match and demanded Rhodes start the match with him. Rhodes tried to dance around Khali, then intercepted his leg before chopping Rhodes's leg/knee area. Rhodes then slipped out of the ring and tried to shake it off by limping around ringside as Ricardo Rodriguez tried to talk strategy. Rhodes eventually re-entered and tagged in Del Rio, who tried kicking away at Khali, but Khali shoved him off and landed a kick strike. Khali then chopped Del Rio hard across the chest, sending Del Rio to the outside. Ricardo waved the heat off Del Rio's chest before they cut to break two minutes in.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, they went to a wide-shot of the arena before slowly fading to the ring, where Khali tagged in Big Show, who cleaned house. Rhodes then pulled down the top rope and Show went spilling to the outside. Rhodes quickly targeted Show's knee, trying to take apart the big man. The ref then started a ten count as Show sold on the floor. Show made it back in the ring right at nine, then Del Rio resumed the attack. "Let's Go Big Show" chant as Del Rio continued to attack Show before the heels started exchanging tags to wear down Show.

Rhodes then slapped on the figure-four center-ring as the crowd whoo'ed. Show sold the effects, then reached back and slapped Rhodes across the face to break the hold. Show then fought off Del Rio, who decided he had enough of the match and bailed on Rhodes. Back in the ring, Show built momentum and began dismantling Rhodes as Lawler made border jokes about Del Rio. Show then finished off Rhodes with a chokeslam for the pin and the win. On-stage, Del Rio and Rodriguez sold they didn't care about the outcome. Back in the ring, Show and Khali embraced as Show sold the effects of the heels's attack.

WINNERS: Khali & Show at 10:28. So, booking would indicate Rhodes gets back his IC Title on Sunday, but it sure doesn't feel like it unless Rhodes gets a cheap win using the TBD stipulation.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler were shown on-camera for a pre-PPV announcement. U.S. champion Santino will defend the U.S. Title against The Miz on YouTube during the Extreme Rules pre-show.

[Q7] [Commercial Break]

GM office: Jericho was shown talking to Laurinaitis and Eve. He said that he caught Punk drinking in his locker room, so Punk should be stripped of the WWE Title. Laurinaitis wasn't so sure about this. Eve rattled off a Wellness Policy item that Punk is in violation of WWE policy by drinking within 12 hours of a show. Laurinaitis said he wants to avoid legal action, so he needs hard proof. Jericho suggested they get cops in the ring to give Punk a field sobriety test. Laurinaitis agreed, then Jericho walked off. Laurinaitis then told Teddy Long that he will be the one to strip Punk of the title if he fails the test. He said it's just like J.R. taught him - make someone else distribute bad news.

Backstage: Brock Lesnar was shown arriving at the building. Josh Mathews walked up to him for a word, but Lesnar had nothing to say. Mathews asked a follow-up question, then Lesnar bullied Mathews by slamming him into the side of an 18-wheeler WWE truck. Lesnar let up, cooled down, playfully slapped Mathews on the cheek, and started to walk off. But, Mathews muttered under his breath that he was just trying to do his job, so Lesnar snatched him and tossed him across the backstage area into a makeshift fence. Mathews fell to the ground in a heap, then Lesnar glared down at him before walking off.

[Commercial Break]

Moments Ago: Lesnar bullied Mathews, then physically harmed him after Mathews suggested Lesnar could lose to Cena at Extreme Rules. It's worth noting Lesnar and Cena have yet to speak on the show tonight. Back live, Cole said that's ridiculous and action should be taken against Lesnar, noting Sheamus was fined $500,000 for attacking a referee.

Backstage: Mathews was shown being strapped to a gurney while evaluated by medical personnel. He was able to wiggle his fingers and open his eyes, selling the effects of Lesnar's attack. Cole called this absolutely ridiculous.

[Q8]

4 -- Divas champion BETH PHOENIX vs. NIKKI BELLA (w/Brie Bella) -- Divas Title match -- Lumberjill match

The Bellas were shown warming up in the ring post-Mathews injury angle. Justin Roberts then announced Nikki Bella challenging for the Divas Title, and Beth Phoenix came out to defend the title for the first time on TV or PPV since February. Before the bell sounded, Cole noted Phoenix is closing in on the record for longest Divas Title reign. Also before the bell sounded, Eve walked out on-stage and said there are too many Divas sitting around here doing nothing, so this will now be a Lumberjills match. So, all of the Divas from backstage poured out to the ringside area. The match turned into a back-and-forth before the action spilled to the outside. Phoenix then sold a major ankle injury when she reached the floor, prompting the Divas to start brawling ringside to distract. Phoenix could barely make it back into the ring, then they went to a finish with Bella pinning Phoenix to capture the title. Post-match, a doctor checked on Phoenix as the Bellas celebrated.

WINNER: Bella at 4:02 to capture the Divas Title. Anti-climatic end to Phoenix's title reign, whether a legit injury or injury angle.

Locker Room: Teddy Long tried to give Punk the bad news about his sobriety test. Punk said this is ridiculous. Long told him it's next. Punk said what's next is him flipping out. Punk then threw a temper-tantrum before falling down in his locker room chair. Punk caught his breath before they went to break. The top-of-the-hour main event will be Punk's sobriety test angle.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Teddy Long was in the ring with two "police officers." Jericho then interrupted his music and demanded Long administer this test appropriately since he's an incompetent authority figure. Long then requested Punk please come to the ring. Cue up Cult of Personality to bring out the WWE champion, who strutted out to the ring as if he were selling an injury. Or, faux drunkenness.

Once in the ring, Punk pretended to drop his title belt before saluting the crowd as if he were drunk. Punk then called this whole thing ridiculous. He said everyone knows this is ridiculous. Cop #1 asked Punk to recite his alphabet backwards. Punk collected himself, then told the cop to tell Jericho to be quiet before noting no one has ever recited the alphabet backwards. Punk messed up intentionally before noting this is stupid. After a long pause, Long noted there are more tests.

[Q9 -- third hour / standard second hour] Cop #1 told Punk to walk the red line. Jericho screamed at Punk to stop stalling and do it. Punk approached the red line in the middle of the ring, did some monologue action, stumbled twice, told Jericho to shut up, and tried again. Punk failed again, then Jericho demanded Punk be declared drunk...and be stripped of the WWE Title. Long then asked Cop #2 for his opinion. Cop #2 said he is obviously drunk. Jericho gave a shout-out to Detroit's finest, which got the biggest heel reaction of the night.

Long noted he has no control over this matter and asked Punk to hand over the WWE Title. Jericho shouted at "C.M. Drunk" to hand it over. Punk looked at the belt, then at Long several times. Punk slowly handed it over to Long, then released his grip of the belt. Long accepted the title, then Jericho demanded the title. Before Long could do it, Punk asked for one more chance, which drew cheers. Jericho told Punk he's embarrassing himself.

Punk, now serious and no longer selling drunkenness, recited the alphabet backwards very slowly. "Yes!" chants for each letter. Punk then began walking the red line while reciting the alphabet. He mixed in a Moonwalk, then Ric Flair strut on the red line before stopping at "b." The crowd played along, encouraging Punk to say, "a." Punk then said, "a," and popped Jericho in the head with his mic. Lawler noted Punk set up Jericho, who took the bait.

Punk and Jericho spilled to the outside, with Punk destroying Jericho ringside before Jericho ran up the ramp to try to avoid Punk. But, Punk caught up with him and continued to beat Jericho off the ramp to the stage below. Jericho then ran away before Punk stood tall on-stage. Long re-emerged and handed over the title belt to Punk, who raised it high in the air, still WWE champion. Back in the GM's office, Laurinaitis surveyed the scene as Eve sold the joke was on her.

Up Next: World Hvt. champion Sheamus vs. Mark Henry. Also, still to come, Lesnar and Cena's contract signing. Ringside, Cole and Lawler were shown on-camera before Cole fed to another Brock video package. This one was from Aug. 8, 2002 when Lesnar matched up with Hulk Hogan.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back live, Sheamus's music played to bring out the Smackdown champion. Cole noted Sheamus puts the World Title on the line against Daniel Bryan in a 2/3 Falls match at Extreme Rules. Lawler called it a throwback, saying he remembers when these matches were commonplace, and grueling. Mark Henry then emerged on-stage as Cole noted Henry was very close to becoming WWE champion last week on Raw. Henry entered the ring and the announcers noted they're missing a referee. Justin Roberts was still in the ring, though. Roberts then announced the special guest referee...cue up Daniel Bryan's music. Out came Bryan in a referee t-shirt and black track pants. Very sharp look. The vocal males went nuts, chanting, "Yes!" along with Bryan. Sheamus tried to keep control of his emotions as Bryan celebrated his role tonight before calling for the bell.

[Q10]

5 -- World Hvt. champion SHEAMUS vs. MARK HENRY -- non-title match -- Daniel Bryan special referee

Bryan tried to instigate Sheamus early on, then Sheamus told Bryan to hit him, which would draw all sorts of punishments since Bryan is a ref tonight. Bryan tried again, but Sheamus refused to take the bait. Meanwhile, Henry prepared to run over Sheamus with a big clothesline once Sheamus turned around. Henry then made a cover and Bryan did a super fast count.

Post-match: Bryan threw off his ref t-shirt and tossed it in Sheamus's face, so Sheamus attacked Bryan ringside and chased him back into the ring. But, in the ring, Henry provided a distraction - taking a Brogue Kick from Sheamus - before Bryan kick-striked Sheamus, then he slapped on the "Yes! Lock" center-ring. The vocal males cheered along before the general audience booed Bryan for his actions. Bryan then left the ring doing his chant before declaring the title is coming back to him.

WINNER: Henry at 1:35. Finally, finally, finally, a biased, heel referee did a fast count in the first pin attempt of the match. That's driven me crazy for years - why would a biased, heel referee ever try to make an objective, dramatic nearfall count when trying to screw over the face? Throw in Bryan getting the advantage here to set up Sheamus for revenge at the PPV and this may have been the best-booked segment of the show.

Still to come tonight: Those Doritos/Taco Bell shells advertised during every Raw commercial break are presenting Brodus Clay & Hornswoggle vs. Ziggler & Swagger. I'm not making this up. Still to come tonight: Cena vs. Lesnar.

[Commercial Break. Meanwhile, Dominos is apparently desperate for workers, so they're looking to hire people who make a cool pizza design on their iPhone App. I'm not making this up.]

Backstage: A dejected, angry, frustrated Sheamus was shown walking down the hallway. Matt Striker, who apparently didn't see the Lesnar-Mathews segment earlier, decided to get a word with Sheamus. Sheamus cut a babyface promo on Bryan, vowing to cut off Bryan like a snake at Extreme Rules. And, a babyface revenge promo to top of the great Bryan-Henry-Sheamus segment.

In-ring: Already in the ring were the tag champions, with Rosa Mendes. Zack Ryder came out first, then U.S. champion Santino for the face duo. Apparently this is non-title.

6 -- WWE tag champions PRIMO & EPICO (w/Rosa Mendes) vs. U.S. champion SANTINO & ZACK RYDER -- non-title match

The crowd was into Ryder early on as he picked apart Epico. Ryder with the Broski Boot, then he measured Epico for the Rough Ryder, but Rosa provided a distraction. Ryder then found himself on the outside, where Ryder ate the ringpost via sneak attack. Back in the ring, Epico covered Ryder for a one count. The crowd rallied with a "Let's Go Ryder / Woo Woo Woo" chant as Cole wondered aloud why the crowd is into Ryder.

Santino then hot-tagged into the match at 2:30 and set up for the Cobra. Chaos ensued, though, then Primo tried a dropkick on Santino, but Santino popped up to his feet, no-sold, and dropped Primo with the Cobra for the pin and the win. Santino and Ryder then celebrated as Rosa sold anger ringside. Post-match, the faces celebrated as Cole called Santino a lucky charm.

WINNERS: Ryder & Santino at 3:15.

[Q11] Ringside: Lawler did the trombone celebration before Cole tried to get serious recapping Lesnar's attack on Josh Mathews earlier in the night. Cole then introduced video of Lesnar taking out Mathews earlier. Back live, Lawler wondered aloud what's going to happen when Lesnar faces Cena in the contract signing still to come tonight.

[Commercial Break]

Backstage: Kane, from about two hours ago, was shown limping down the hallway clutching his ribs. Kane then approached the door where Orton stuffed Paul Bearer. Meanwhile, in the background, the crowd was heard faintly cheering for Ryder. Kane then found Paul Bearer shaking and shivering. Bearer asked Kane if he came to save him. Kane then wheeled Bearer back inside the random freezer and shut the door.

Backstage: Primo and Epico argued over their latest tag team loss. Abraham Washington then walked in and asked them why their entrance was during the commercial, why their Mania match was on the pre-show, and why they're being treated like jokes. AW handed them his business card and the trio thought it over. Rosa did not act upset that she may have to share managerial duties.

In-ring: Justin Roberts announced the following match is "proudly presented by Taco Bell." Cue up Brodus Clay's music to bring out Brodus Clay. Cole said Clay likes to eat Doritos tacos. Clay, then Hornswoggle came out on-stage to dance before making it to the ring with the Funkettes. Cole and Lawler offered some sexual jokes before Cole noted this is surreal. Once their dance was completed, Swoggle dropped his track pants to reveal trunks like Clay's, which revealed his legs.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, the dancers were still dancing in the ring. Vickie Guerrero then interrupted on-stage and shouted at the crowd to listen to her. Vickie introduced Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler, who emerged out on-stage sporting his pink t-shirt. Meanwhile, Swoggle was ready to attack the heels and had to be held back. Back ringside, Lawler was shown holding a Taco Bell item, eliciting memories of KFC sponsoring the commercial-free Raw a few years ago.

7 -- BRODUS CLAY & HORNSWOGGLE vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & JACK SWAGGER -- Doritos Taco Bell match

Once the bell sounded, Swoggle demanded he enter the match. Clay obliged, going after Ziggler. Off the ropes, Ziggler went for a back-kick that missed Swoggle by about a foot, taking the crowd out of the match because it looked so fake. Ziggler followed up with an attack, but Clay tagged into the match and headbutted Ziggler across the ring before suplexing Swagger. Vickie had enough and entered the ring before slapping Clay, causing a DQ.

[Q12] Post-match: The Funkettes entered the ring to confront Vickie. Vickie then tried to make peace, even dusting off Clay's dust and putting it on his head. Clay seemed happy with this, then Vickie tried doing the Thriller dance, but Swoggle bit Vickie on the back-side to run her out of the ring. Cole said he can't believe they just sat through that. Cue up the dance music for everyone to dance in the ring.

WINNERS: Clay & Swoggle via DQ at 1:55. They give Vickie the worst stuff to do, but she handles it like a pro. And, yes, this was the main event match of the show, following Raw's recent pattern of buffer/comedy/mid-card stuff as the actual main event match before a non-match segment closes the show in the TV main event slot.

Lesnar video: March 30, 2003 at WrestleMania 19. The TNA trifecta is complete focusing on Lesnar beating Jeff Hardy, then Hulk Hogan, and now Kurt Angle.

Up Next: Cena-Lesnar contract signing for the match Lawler described as potentially determining the face of WWE.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, the camera focused on the contract table and set-up back in the ring. On-camera, Cole plugged a match for Smackdown on Friday: Sheamus vs. Mark Henry in a re-match. Lawler said he hopes D-Bryan will not be the referee for that match. Also, Cole will conduct an interview with Randy Orton to get his mindset before Extreme Rules. Cole then fed to a replay of the Brock Lesnar sit-down video interview.

In-ring: John Laurinaitis came out to the ring to oversee the contract signing. Under his breath, Lawler called him a phony. Laurinaitis said before they do the contract signing, he wants to introduce the "new face of WWE," Brock Lesnar. After a pause, Lesnar came out on-stage to a mixed reaction of tiredness from a three-hour Raw, some boos, and a few scattered cheers. Just an overall quiet reaction for Brock. Lesnar entered the ring and surveyed his paperwork before Laurinaitis introduced John Cena to a much louder reaction of mixed cheers and boos. No sign of Cena, though. In the ring, Laurinaitis acted annoyed. Cena's music then stopped.

[Q13 -- over-run] Laurinaitis and Lesnar waited for Cena as they entered the over-run. The crowd woke up with a "Let's Go Cena / Cena Sucks" chant with no sign of Cena. Lesnar then grabbed a mic from the contract table and told "Little Johnny" to come on out. Lesnar then asked Laurinaitis if he flew him all the way to Detroit and this guy is too scared to show up. He asked Laurinaitis if he's obviously too scared to face him. Lesnar then noted to Laurinaitis they have some business of their own to discuss since Cena doesn't have the (bleep) to show up.

Lesnar told Laurinaitis to sit down at the table to talk business. Lesnar noted he has some changes to request. Laurinaitis said he thought they had an agreement. Lesnar then told Laurinaitis he will have to sign off on his some of his changes, no, demands. He said he wants them changed right now before their match on Sunday. Lesnar said he's not the same little naïve farmboy who was here eight years ago. He noted he's an enterprise, and he is this company. "This company needs Brock Lesnar," he said. The crowd chanted for Cena before Lesnar told Laurinaitis if he's going to be the face of the company, he needs some changes.

(1) Any thought that goes through Laurinaitis's mind goes through him. (2) When he comes to Raw, he gets Vince McMahon's private jet to and from the venue. Lesnar noted what makes him happy is beating people up, so he was glad when he got a chance to beat somebody up already tonight. (3) Lesnar said he does what he wants when he wants, and isn't a little puppet on Laurinaitis's string. (4) Laurinaitis walks around WWE fining people. He said Laurinaitis won't be fining him like he did to Sheamus. In fact, he'll be paying him more money.

Until these demands are made, this match on Sunday... pause for "you suck" chant. Lesnar said he doesn't get annoyed by that, then told Laurinaitis there is no match at Extreme Rules until his demands are met. Lesnar propped up his feet on the table before telling Laurinaitis that if he is the face of Raw, he thinks the show has to be re-named. It's no longer just Monday Night Raw, but now Monday Night Raw Starring Brock Lesnar. The crowd booed, with Lesnar finally getting a reaction as this dragged on uncomfortably. Laurinaitis tried selling emotion before Lesnar told him to make him happy. Laurinaitis then extended his hand and Lesnar shook. Lesnar pulled in Laurinaitis, who agreed to those terms. Lesnar thanked him. Now, since he got what he wants, he'll give Laurinaitis what he wants. Lesnar flipped through the pages, then signed the document. He handed it over to Laurinaitis, then John Cena's music played again.

Out came Cena on-stage sporting a big chain around his neck. Lesnar welcomed Cena into the ring as Cena sternly stood on-stage before slowly making his way into the ring. In the ring, Lesnar leaned back against the ropes, acting like Cena doesn't intimidate him. Cena removed his chain, stared at Lesnar across the ring, stared at Laurinaitis, looked into the crowd, waited out a dueling chant, glared back at stone-faced Lesnar, approached the contract table, pulled his chair away, and approached the table. Cena looked over the document as Lesnar readjusted himself in his chair. Lesnar then stood up as Cena clenched his fist with the chain wrapped around it. Cena then flipped through the pages of the document with his left hand, placed the pen down, and backed away from the table. "Cena, Cena" chant.

Brock had enough and picked up a mic. He asked John what's the matter. "Sign...the...con...tract," Brock said. Cena then grabbed the contract before Lesnar addressed him again. He likes this vibe coming from Cena. He said he senses this is a real feeling. "You are scared," Brock told him. Brock told Cena he's the reason he lost last week and the reason he's feeling the way he is right now. Lesnar said he's been racing through Cena's mind. Cena had enough, so he signed the contract hurriedly, then threw it at Lesnar. Lesnar huffed and puffed as Cena clenched his chain-enhanced fist. Lesnar teased an attack, so Cena flipped over the table. Lesnar then circled around the table and smiled at Cena before slipping out of the ring. Lesnar continued to back away from the ring as Cena remained stone-faced in the ring. The camera stayed with a cocky Lesnar to close the show 15 minutes past the top of the hour.

Segment Reax: A flat ending to the segment. Even "saving the physicality" for the PPV didn't come across well trying to create a money-making feeling of "I can't wait to see them beat each other up at the PPV" or "I can't wait for Cena to get his revenge on Lesnar." I didn't feel they got there; they just didn't hit the big emotional highs very well before the PPV, especially with Brock out of his element and out there without a net having to do a lot of talking and not having a good partner, Laurinaitis, to work with. The excessive demands fit Lesnar's character, and were presented as over-the-top, but not in a completely believable fashion to get heat. Throw in a tired crowd entering the fourth hour of a three-hour show and it wasn't the best ending WWE could get before the PPV.

Rob McNichol (@RobMcNichol) of the U.K. Sun's tweet sums up perfectly WWE's inability to get those high emotions with Lesnar playing an over-the-top heel: "It feels to me like fans don't know how to react. They have missed Brock and instinctively want to celebrate his return. #Raw."

***

We welcome your 0-10 score and comments on this show for a "Raw Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on Raw, email to pwtorch@gmail.com using our Feedback form.


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