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WWE Raw Report
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 6/11: Ongoing "virtual-time" coverage of live three-hour Raw #993 - McMahon returns, final PPV hype, steel cage

Jun 11, 2012 - 10:13:20 PM
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WWE Raw Supershow Results
June 11, 2012 - Episode #993
Season 20, Episode 24
Live in Hartford, Conn.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
Staff12CaldwellJames_120_38.jpg


This week's live three-hour WWE Raw started with the usual Raw intro video and full pyro inside the XL Center. Michael Cole introduced the show and noted they are six days away from No Way Out with a "special three-hour Raw." Cole introduced Jerry Lawler before Justin Roberts welcomed out the GM of both Raw and Smackdown, John Laurinaitis.

As Laurinaitis motored down to the ring on his scooter, Cole plugged Vince McMahon returning on Raw. Cole and Lawler then debated the extremes on McMahon's job evaluation on Laurinaitis - will McMahon be satisfied or will Laurinaitis be fired? Before Laurinaitis could get two words out, Vince McMahon's music interrupted to bring out McMahon. Cole noted he's back on Raw for the first time since October of last year.

In the ring, McMahon played to a hot crowd before staring down Laurinaitis, who offered a handshake. McMahon ignored him and said he has no idea where that hand has been. McMahon said this is all business tonight. He said he's here to give him a job performance evaluation, so they should get right to it. He asked for one reason why he should not fire him right now. Laurinaitis smiled and said he has two words: People Power. McMahon lowered his neck to sell shock. Laurinaitis noted they're approaching 100...er...1,000 episodes of Raw and he has empowered the people. McMahon asked the audience if they like his performance. Boos. Laurinaitis said these are the same people who used to boo him years ago, but now they show him respect.

Laurinaitis continued that they have several things in common. Laurinaitis spoke over a "Fire Johnny!" chant as McMahon seemed more interested in the chant than Laurinaitis's defense. McMahon then asked Laurinaitis if he's truly a good businessman when he signed Brock Lesnar, resulting in two lawsuits, and signed the wrong one-legged wrestler. Laurinaitis blamed Triple H. McMahon then asked Laurinaitis about re-signing Big Show to a huge contract. He said McMahon hasn't performed effectively since 1999. "What a horrible investment for WWE!" he said. Laurinaitis told McMahon he's a little biased toward Show, noting McMahon once had his head shoved up Big Show's buttocks. Laurinaitis noted Show has caused carnage recently and McMahon will know he made the right decision at No Way Out when Show destroys John Cena. Laurinaitis then claimed to have the respect of the talent roster. "We can't even understand you!" McMahon shouted back to Laurinaitis, who claimed to be friends with everyone on the roster.

Suddenly, Sheamus's music played to bring out the World champion. Cole relayed today's news that Sheamus does not have an opponent for No Way Out, then Sheamus made his way into the ring with a big smile on his face. Sheamus complemented McMahon before noting that listening to the banter back-and-forth, he has to tell McMahon that Johnny is right about being a friend. He's the type of friend who will fine someone $500,000 just because. McMahon interrupted and noted a graphic on the Titantron says "#FireJohnny" is trending right now. The fans cheered, then chanted, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Johnny no-sold, then Sheamus put his arm around Johnny's shoulder and called him the worst GM in WWE history. Sheamus demanded Johnny be kicked out on his arse.

Laurinaitis shot back that Sheamus's opinion does not reflect the entire locker room. He then tried to leave to find an opponent for Sheamus, but McMahon cut him off. He said it better be a really good opponent, and every match better be very impressive. McMahon said if the card does not impress him, then at the end of the night, Johnny will these two words...You're Fired! Laurinaitis bit his lip, then angrily hobbled out of the ring, bypassing his motor scooter. McMahon slipped out of the ring and hopped in the scooter to ride his way up the entrance ramp. Sheamus smiled in the ring, then WWE cut to McMahon rolling the scooter off the stage, trying to smash it to pieces. McMahon triumphantly walked to the back as Sheamus waited in the ring for his opponent.

Moments Ago: McMahon rolled Laurinaitis's scooter off the stage. Cole and Lawler were shown on-camera debating whether McMahon will fire Laurinaitis tonight, then turned their attention to Del Rio suffering a concussion. WWE used Khali's chop as the source of the injury angle. Lawler said Del Rio will be out "for a while." Laurinaitis then walked out on-stage and said he's found him an opponent. Cue up Tensai's music to no reaction. Tensai shoved Sakamoto away before stomping down to the ring.

[Q2] [Commercial Break]

1 -- World Hvt. champion SHEAMUS vs. TENSAI -- non-title match

The two big men locked up center-ring as the vocal males chanted, "Albert," toward Tensai. They went back and forth before Sheamus clotheslined Tensai and himself over the top rope. Cole posed a bunch of questions to the audience leading to break.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, the two men were locked up center-ring again. The camera focused on Tensai's belly, which appeared to be covered by BBQ sauce. No wait, some big handprints from Sheamus's attack during the commercial. Tensai landed a big Vader Bomb out of the corner, but Sheamus kicked out in-time. Sheamus then made a comeback with power offense before delivering ten big forearm smashes as Tensai hung on the ring apron.

Sheamus tried to follow with a top-rope move, but Tensai countered with a two-hand bomb for a two count. Tensai followed up with a kneelift, but walked right into a Brogue Kick off the ropes. Sheamus made the cover for the win. Post-match: The camera focused on some blood on the bridge of Sheamus's nose. After a replay of the high points and finish, Sheamus was shown celebrating the win as the announcers said they were impressed by the match.

WINNER: Sheamus at 9:20. Sheamus was solid in victory, and at least Tensai wasn't bad.

[Q3] Backstage: McMahon noted to Laurinaitis that things did not go so well for him. He said that's Strike One. McMahon then wanted to know who Laurinaitis has in-mind to face Sheamus for the World Title at No Way Out. Teddy Long stood by next to Johnny, then Vickie Guerrero interrupted and said she thinks Dolph Ziggler or Jack Swagger would be great candidates to replace Del Rio. McMahon liked the idea, but wanted to know if Johnny has a better idea. Laurinaitis deferred to Long, who noted there are four former World champs here tonight - Ziggler, Swagger, Great Khali, and Christian (who is already booked for an IC Title defense against Cody Rhodes at the PPV). Long suggested a fatal four-way to determine who faces Sheamus. McMahon really liked the idea, then Laurinaitis tried to take credit before throwing Long out of the office to fetch some coffee. Johnny flashed his smile and wanted a fist bump, but McMahon ignored him and said he has small hands.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Tensai was still in the ring. Tensai bullied around Sakamoto before kicking him and punching him in the face. Tensai continued to assault Sakamoto before tossing him over the top rope to the floor. Cole noted Tensai is frustrated after losing to Cena last week and Sheamus tonight. Tensai continued the assault ringside before referees spilled out to pull Tensai away. WWE cut to the announce table, where Cole claimed this is Raw episode #994. It's actually #993 based on WWE's own timeline going back to #900. Cole then fed to a video package on a Raw #1,000 memory.

Raw Flashback: July 13, 2009 when Triple H introduced Seth Green as Raw guest host. They showed footage of Hunter, John Cena, and Green against Legacy in a six-man tag match interspersed with Green talking about his role in a sit-down interview.

Backstage: R-Truth was shown talking to himself, and Matt Striker brought in Truth for an interview about his health following Big Show's attack two weeks ago. Truth said Little Jimmy was traumatized, not him. He then talked to his invisible friend before declaring that Big Show is going to lose to John Cena at No Way Out on Sunday. Suddenly, a big right hand entered the shot and decked Truth. The camera pulled back to show Big Show standing over Truth, who sold the effects on the floor as they cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

[Q4] Returning from break, WWE rolled a hype video starting with memorable moments in Raw history before announcing Raw's move to three hours on July 23. WWE is branding it the July 23 show as a show featuring the "most legendary stars" in WWE history, including DX re-uniting. A lot of the nostalgia stars and The Undertaker were shown in the video.

Moments Ago: Big Show KO'ed R-Truth as his tirade continues.

In-ring: Santino's music played to bring out the U.S. champion for a mixed tag match. WWE replayed Santino taking beating Ricardo Rodriguez on Smackdown a few weeks ago before Divas champion Layla came out to join Santino. Beth Phoenix's music played for the heel side to bring out Beth and Ricardo, who was dressed in a tuxedo and was trying to run away to avoid the match. Cole tried to present this as a first-time-ever match that should allow Laurinaitis to keep his job.

2 -- U.S. champion SANTINO & Divas champion LAYLA vs. BETH PHOENIX & RICARDO RODRIGUEZ

The Divas started the match, and Ricardo got involved for a comedy spot. Ricardo tagged in after Beth decked Layla, then Santino automatically entered, so Ricardo ran away and tagged in Beth again. Santino had to leave, then Beth and Layla engaged in a standard Divas match while Santino played games with Ricardo ringside. Beth then took out Layla at the knee before hitting the Glam Slam for the win.

Post-match: Santino checked on Layla while politely applauding his former squeeze, Beth. Ricardo started doing a victory dance, acting as if he won the match. Santino had enough and ripped off his tuxedo to reveal a Justin Bieber t-shirt. Santino had a big laugh, then Ricardo ran out of the ring selling embarrassment.

WINNERS: Beth & Ricardo at 2:55. Comedy mixed with a basic set-up for a probable Divas Title re-match since Beth and Layla seem to be the only women in the division these days.

Backstage: David Otunga complemented McMahon on his suit. Otunga said he understands McMahon is here to evaluate Laurinaitis, and if he does decide to fire him, he knows a good replacement who is a Harvard grad and a physical specimen like McMahon. McMahon did not appreciate the kissing-up or that he is a lawyer before offering a lawyer dig. Suddenly, Kofi Kingston walked into the shot and demanded to face Big Show tonight. Laurinaitis entered the scene and told Kingston that he's got it. He told Kofi they're going to have a preview of No Way Out tonight because it's Kofi vs. Show in a steel cage. Kofi remained fired-up, then walked off. McMahon said that's not too bad.

Backstage: Daniel Bryan was shown walking down the hallway. He'll be in the next segment, Cole said.

[Commercial Break]

[Q5 -- second hour] Back live, Daniel Bryan's music played to bring out D-Bryan ahead of his WWE Title match challenge at No Way Out in six days. Bryan waited out "Yes!" chants before noting he is unlike C.M. Punk and Kane because they have weaknesses, which he does not have. He said their weakness is a distraction from a 95-pound A.J. Bryan then noted he is a superior wrestler to Punk, so now Punk is trying to get with his ex-girlfriend to make him jealous. "It's...pathetic," Bryan said. As for Kane, he thinks getting to second base is when a woman looks him in the eyes and doesn't vomit.

Bryan said the fact is A.J. is still in love with him. "And, how can you blame her?" he asked. Bryan said she had the opportunity for a split-second in her life to be with someone as great as this (pointing to his body). "Yes! Yes! Yes!" chants. He then offered a new catchphrase: "Once you go Bryan, there's no point in trying!" Bryan said he is not interested in A.J. anymore, though, because he wants the WWE Title. Bryan played Q&A on whether he will become new WWE champion on Sunday. "Yes!" he repeated over and over.

Suddenly, C.M. Punk's music interrupted. Cole called it a major buzzkill. On-stage, Punk waited out "C-M-Punk" chants before starting to slowly walk toward the ring. Punk said the funny thing about A.J. is she's actually pretty cool, and they have one thing in common: Bryan. He said A.J. is way out of Bryan's league and in the ring, Bryan is way out of his league. Punk said he digs crazy chicks, and he also digs his WWE Title. Punk noted they've beaten each other and Kane's beaten them, but it doesn't matter on Sunday when it comes down to all three them in the ring together. Punk stumbled over his next quip that he's either going to beat the deranged, out-of-his-mind freak...or he's going to beat Kane. Either way, he's going to be WWE champ. Bryan replied, "No. No. No." He said he used to respect Punk, but he's changed. Bryan said Punk panders to an audience with nothing intelligent to say. He said these people love to yell at Big Show for selling out, but the biggest sell-out in WWE is Punk.

Punk then brought up his promo on Raw one year ago and rambled a bit about the promo before getting to the point that he's the same guy he was before that promo, and never changed when he broke the glass ceiling. He said Bryan changed after shattering the glass ceiling, then called Bryan a bunch of names true to his babyface promo limitations, including goat-faced. Punk continued to call Bryan "goat-faced," which got the word to trend on Twitter, before saying he's going to put Bryan to sleep on Sunday. Punk paused awkwardly before Kane's pyro suddenly shot off in the arena.

Kane entered the ring, walked around the ring, and reminded the two of them who - or what - he is. Kane noted he's set fire to JR, electrocuted Shane McMahon's testicles, and tombstoned a priest. In other words, his pipe bombs are actual pipe bombs. That's why this Sunday, he will leave No Way Out with the WWE Title. Suddenly, A.J.'s voice was heard. A.J. made her way to the ring pleading with the three of them to stop. A.J. addressed Kane, noting she looked into his eyes last week and saw that deep down in his tortured soul, he actually has a heart. Kane kind of rolled his eyes behind his mask. Punk said he loves crazy chicks. A.J. waited out a "crazy chick" chant before addressing Bryan. She said she hasn't gotten over her first true love. A.J. batted eyes at Bryan, then Punk. She got all giddy, calling him the coolest guy she's ever met. Bryan asked what the point is. A.J. said this Sunday, she knows the best man will win.

Suddenly, John Laurinaitis appeared on the Titantron. He booked a match never seen before in the world - Bryan and Kane teaming against Punk and A.J. In the ring, A.J. and Punk sold confusion over this while Bryan had a good laugh. Punk tried to calm down A.J. as WWE stayed with a shot of A.J. and Punk awkwardly standing in the ring together for a while. Cole then fed to a video from earlier tonight.

Earlier Tonight: McMahon vowed to fire Laurinaitis if he doesn't impress him by the end of the night.

Up Next: A different match featuring four individuals - Swagger vs. Ziggler vs. Khali vs. Christian in a fatal four-way #1 contender match.

[Commercial Break] [Q6]

Back live, Michael Cole plugged Domino's Pizza Tracker. Jerry Lawler was shown ordering a pizza on his iPad. How is he going to get it delivered to the show?

In-ring: 24 hours removed from appearing at TNA's Slammiversary PPV, IC champion Christian came out dressed to wrestle in the #1 contender match. There was no mention of TNA, of course. Cole did note that if Christian wins this match to face Sheamus for the World Title at No Way Out, he will face Cody Rhodes for the IC Title at a "later date." After Great Khali came out, Vickie Guerrero interrupted to introduce Dolph Ziggler, who holds a 25-minute World Title reign. Cole noted his controversial title reign, then Vickie introduced Jack Swagger as Lawler recapped Ziggler's faux title reign. Cole slipped in some WWE Math that Vickie has a 50 percent chance of representing the #1 contender. Cole then suddenly said it's an elimination match.

3 -- IC champion CHRISTIAN vs. GREAT KHALI vs. JACK SWAGGER vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER -- #1 contender four-way elimination match to World Title

Khali teed off on Vickie's clients early on as Cole and Lawler debated whether this match was Laurinaitis's or Teddy Long's idea. After Khali awkwardly landed more offense, the other three wrestlers ganged up on Khali to score a simultaneous pinfall. Khali rolled out of the ring as Christian sold an ankle injury before they cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Cole was swift to falsely complement Laurinaitis on booking the match, prompting more debate over which non-wrestler booked this match while the remaining wrestlers competed in the ring. Vickie got involved from the outside by slapping Christian, drawing a reprimand from referee Mike Chioda. Christian then back-dropped Dolph over the top rope to the floor before landing a flying European Uppercut on Swagger. Suddenly, Ziggler snuck up behind Christian for a close two count on a roll-up. After Christian knocked Ziggler to the outside, Christian and Swagger engaged in a rapid-fire exchange with counters and reversals. Christian managed to avoid the anklelock before hitting the Killswitch. Ziggler then snuck back into the ring and pinned Swagger, which drew a mixed reaction from Vickie.

[Q7] So, it's Ziggler vs. Christian. Ziggler tried to celebrate with Vickie, which allowed Christian to sneak in for a quick pin attempt, but only for a two count. Ziggler then went to work on Christian's injured ankle before Christian flung him away and landed a back-elbow smash. Ziggler suddenly came back with a sleeper, but Christian escaped and backed away to the corner looking for a Spear. But, Christian's ankle wouldn't allow him to run. Christian then slingshot Ziggler into the turnbuckle and nailed the Spear before making a cover for a close two count only that popped the crowd.

Christian called for the end, but Ziggler blocked and hit the Fameasser for a close two count. Lawler said it's a great match Long has come up with tonight. Ziggler wanted the Zig-Zag, but Christian slipped out and hit a reverse DDT for another nearfall. Christian then hobbled over to the corner, bantered with Vickie, and missed with a top-rope move. Christian sold his ankle going out, allowing Ziggler to drop Christian with the Zig-Zag for the pin and the win.

Post-match: Ziggler and Vickie celebrated, then headed up the entrance ramp where World Hvt. champion Sheamus was waiting. Ziggler turned around and didn't back down from Sheamus, who held up his title belt in the air to give Ziggler a good look at what's on the line Sunday.

WINNER: Ziggler at 12:20 to become #1 contender. Two excellent sequences involving Christian & Swagger, then Christian & Ziggler at the end. Ziggler looks ready for the big-time, and it was interesting not to see Cody Rhodes involved before his IC Title challenge against Christian on Sunday. (**1/2)

Backstage: Natalya was talking to Vince McMahon about the match he had with Bret Hart at WrestleMania. Natalya listed the entire Hart Family members while trying to get McMahon to agree to bring the family back. McMahon tried to pull himself away before continuing down the hallway. He was stopped by Brodus Clay's dancers, who said they need to talk to him. They wanted McMahon to over-ride Laurinaitis's decision to ban Brodus Clay from Raw. He said he can't do that, then they continued to plead with him before he declared, "Somebody call my momma." Cue up Brodus's music for McMahon to "get funky" with Naomi and Cameron. WWE cut to a crowd shot of people watching the video before going full-screen to show McMahon doing Clay's gimmick. McMahon then spun around to find Zack Ryder staring at him with his mouth wide open. Ryder did Ryder's catchphrase, then walked off, leaving Ryder with his mouth still wide open for his first Raw appearance in seven weeks.

Still to come: Big Show vs. Kingston in a steel cage and Punk & A.J. vs. Bryan & Kane.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Ryback came to the ring for his next meal before two men interrupted on the mic. They were identified as Willard Fillmore and Rutherford Hayes. Apparently someone played with the Royals on Ken Griffey, Jr. baseball over the weekend.

4 -- RYBACK vs. WILLARD FILLMORE & RUTHERFORD HAYES

The vocal males chanted, "Goldberg," as Ryback dismantled the presidentially-inspired enhancement talent. Cole inserted a presidential pun, then noted P.S. Hayes won't be doing too much moon-walking. The "Goldberg" chants picked up a bit as Ryback set up for a double Samoan Drop on the jobbers for a pin and the win. WWE went to a replay nearly as long as the match before returning live to show Ryback on-stage demanding to be fed more.

WINNER: Ryback at 1:32.

[Q8] In-ring: WWE played the dramatic steel cage music and flashed dramatic lights focusing on the cage hanging above the ring. Cole wondered if Kofi Kingston has put himself in a bad situation having to face Big Show...next.

[Commercial Break]

Backstage: Hornswoggle and McMahon were shown watching Swoggle's Jim Ross impersonation on Raw. McMahon laughed and shut it off before offering to give Swoggle some tips. McMahon put on JR's cowboy hat before making a face mocking Ross in a pretty offensive manner. "Stone Cold! Stone Cold!" McMahon shouted. McMahon handed the hat back to Swoggle before telling him to Sauce It. John Cena then walked into the shot to confront McMahon. He said Laurinaitis should be fired, then McMahon noted Cena didn't exactly fare well at WrestleMania when he lost to The Rock. Cena said if they're judging things based on Wins & Losses at WrestleMania, then McMahon lost to Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Donald Trump, and his own son, Shane McMahon.

McMahon cut him off and told Cena to focus on Big Show at No Way Out. He then told Cena not to run down to the ring to save Kofi tonight. Cena said Kofi is handling his business tonight, and McMahon needs to handle his business tonight using his catchphrase on Laurinaitis. Cena walked off, then Otunga re-entered the shot. Otunga tried to defend himself as an attorney again before McMahon noted no one respects a man who would pucker up and kiss another man's behind. Suddenly, William Regal was in the room selling embarrassment over having joined the Kiss My Ass Club in the past.

In-ring: Kofi Kingston came to the ring for the steel cage match. Big Show was shown walking down the hallway before WWE cut to break.

[Commercial Break. Caldwell's Note: Almost two hours in and no mention of Triple H returning at No Way Out. Also, no additional undercard matches or YouTube pre-show match announced. It looks like those plugs will come during the third hour since this is the McMahon Show tonight.]

Back live, and right on time, Michael Cole announced the YouTube pre-show match before No Way Out will be David Otunga vs. Brodus Clay.

In-ring: Kofi Kingston was shown waiting for Big Show inside the cage. Show's music then played to bring out Show, who very slowly made his way to the ring taking a good look at the fans before stopping to stare at a Big Sell-Out sign. Show eventually entered the cage, where Kofi blasted away at him. The ref waited for Show to get on even-footing with Kofi before calling for the bell.

[Q9 -- third hour]

5 -- BIG SHOW vs. WWE tag champion KOFI KINGSTON -- steel cage match

Big Show dismantled Kofi after Kofi's initial burst, then began toying with him. Show screamed at the fans through the cage, asking if he should entertain him. Show landed a move, then stared at the fans some more as they chanted, "You Suck." Show went back to staring at the fans as Kofi continued to sell in the corner. Show whipped Kofi across the ring to the corner before screaming at the audience that they can't stop him.

Show then tried a corner splash, but Kofi blocked, only to fly into a choke-throw into the cage. Kofi tried to run away climbing the cage, then suddenly jumped over Show to land Trouble in Paradise. Show chest-pressed out of a pin attempt at two, though, then Kofi tried to run out of the cage, but Show grabbed him by the legs to drag him back into the cage. Show then landed a big knockout blow and stood over Kofi.

Show stared into the crowd, which booed him loudly. Kofi continued to sell unconsciousness in the ring as Show just walked around the cage telling the audience that no one can stop him. Ref Armstrong waved his arms while checking on Kofi, indicating Kofi is out cold. Show then walked out of the cage and stood on the ring steps before doing a balancing act to taunt the fans. Show placed both feet on the floor to win, then casually kept on walking toward the back. Cole wondered if anyone can stop Big Show. He then stopped on-stage and did Cena's hand-wave before leaving. Backstage: Laurinaitis was all-smiles watching Big Show's domination as Kingston was tended to by medics.

WINNER: Show via escape at 7:22. More domination for Show, but it still feels like they haven't connected the Cena and Show stories together to offer that compelling reason to order the PPV on Sunday. When the announcers offer up so many empty phrases and hyperbole and noise throughout each show, Cole's words come across empty and hollow trying to sell a PPV main event.

Still to come tonight: Punk & A.J. vs. Bryan & Kane in tag action.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Sin Cara's music played to bring out Sin Cara as Curt Hawkins watched ringside. Hawkins then entered the ring for the come-down match against Cara.

6 -- SIN CARA vs. CURT HAWKINS

The mood lighting turned on, which made this match look like a Skittles commercial with blue lights, Cara's red tights, and Hawkins wearing new bright, neon green tights. Cara knocked Hawkins to the outside, then landed a flying plancha press. Hawkins returned the favor yanking Cara to the outside before mocking Cara. Back in the ring, Cara cut off Hawkins and landed successive high-flying moves before landing a flying armdrag. Both men appeared blown-up before Cara landed a head scissors single-arm DDT for the pin and the win. Cole said he can't wait to see more from Cara in the weeks to come.

WINNER: Sin Cara at 2:29. Until WWE comes up with an actual program for Cara, his role is pretty clear as an in-between-match guy to provide athleticism on the show, but not much more than that.

[Q10] Announcers: Cole transitioned to a plug for WWE's "Backstage Fallout" YouTube show. They paused for clips of Curt Hawkins untying his boots, David Otunga sipping coffee, Maxine yelling at the interviewer, Damien Sandow mocking the interviewer, and Eve resurfacing vowing to ban reporters.

Countdown Clock: 37:27, 37:26, 37:25 until McMahon's decision on Laurinaitis.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Cole reset the show in Hartford before the announcers ran through the No Way Out line-up - John Cena vs. Big Show in a steel cage, World champ Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler, Triple H returning to publicly address WWE for the first time since being served a lawsuit by Brock Lesnar, and WWE champion Punk vs. Bryan vs. Kane.

Backstage: Bryan was shown stretching out ahead of the tag match tonight. Vince McMahon suddenly walked into the shot and declared "Daniel Bryan!" before wishing Bryan good luck in his match. Bryan was taken a-back before noting he didn't think McMahon liked him. McMahon said you can't judge a book by its cover, and Bryan is an example of that. McMahon said Bryan doesn't turn heads in public, but - Bryan cut him off and said he was fired from this company once before, and proved McMahon wrong. He continued that they are both self-made men. McMahon retorted that unlike Bryan, he's never finished anything in 18 seconds. Bryan shot him a look, then McMahon walked off, giving Bryan something to think about.

Locker Room: The camera focused on a Raw #1,000 sign on a mystery door. Cole said Laurinaitis has invited a former main-eventer to Raw to compete tonight. Lawler wondered aloud who it is before they cut to break.

[Commercial Break. Hulk Hogan suddenly appeared on the screen promoting TNA Impact coming to Houston this weekend. Hogan noted viewers should not miss Impact on Spike.]

Raw #1,000 Flashback: January 11, 1993 for the first episode. Dolph Ziggler talked on-camera about the debut before WWE showed clips of Koko B. Ware, Doink, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, and Bobby Heenan doing his bit trying to get into the arena. Randy Savage's voice was heard calling Raw "uncensored" in his trademark voice.

[Q11] In-ring: Heath Slater was in the ring as Justin Roberts gave a formal intro for this surprise opponent booked by Laurinaitis. Slater took the mic from Roberts before wondering why they are celebrating a past WWE Superstar when he's standing. He then said, "It's time. It's Slater Time." Suddenly, the real "It's Time" played. Out came Vader smiling and doing his trademark hand gestures. Lawler and Cole rattled off his top WWE opponents and moments as Lawler claimed Vader looks just like he did in the 1990s.

7 -- VADER vs. HEATH SLATER

The crowd, which popped for the nostalgia return during ring intros, chanted "Let's Go Vader" as Vader frustrated Slater early on. Cole relayed a story about the first rib ever played on him in WWE when McMahon told him to put on Vader's mask. Vader beat down Slater before using his gut to cut off Slater's comeback. The fans chanted for a Vader Bomb before Vader scoop-slammed Slater in the corner. Vader then climbed to the second rope and delivered a big Vader Bomb. Pin and the win for Vader Time.

WINNER: Vader at 3:16.

Post-match: Vader played to an appreciative crowd before Cole fed to a video on WWE's anti-bullying campaign. A trimmed-down Stephanie McMahon was shown appearing at an event with David Otunga today in Hartford. So, that dastardly, vile, attorney-guy is leading WWE's anti-bullying campaign? That doesn't match-up with this show.

Backstage: A.J. was shown freaking out before C.M. Punk walked in for a pre-match chat. Punk assured her it will essentially be a handicap match because he'll take care of everything. Punk said they can trust each other. A.J. chimed in, "And we like each other." A.J. continued to freak out before Punk told her not to do anything crazy tonight. A.J. assured him she'll be good, then planted a kiss on his cheek. A.J. walked off, and Punk took a deep breath to sell concern over this match.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Lawler plugged the Domino's Tracker again. Kane's pyro shot off as Cole claimed Laurinaitis has over-performed tonight on Raw. Kane made his way to the ring before the announcers recapped Kane-Sheamus last Friday on Smackdown when a seemingly-healthy Del Rio interrupted, then A.J. interrupted, then Kane took a Brogue Kick from Sheamus. Daniel Bryan was out next to team with Kane as the announcers plugged McMahon's least-favorite USA Network show, "Suits." Cult of Personality then played to bring out Punk and a frightened A.J. for the main event.

[Q12]

8 -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK & A.J. vs. DANIEL BRYAN & KANE

Kane and Bryan took turns working over Punk early on as A.J. stood tentatively on the ring apron. Bryan landed Yes! Kicks before taunting A.J. as she stood on the ring apron. Punk came back with a powerslam before climbing up top, where he missed with a Macho Man elbow drop. Bryan then tagged in Kane as Punk teased tagging in A.J. before stopping short. Punk returned to face Kane, who slammed him into the corner, where Punk accidentally tagged A.J. The ref said it was a legal tag, then A.J. slowly walked into the ring and flashed a smile toward Kane. A.J. backed away, then skipped around Kane. "I'm very confused right now," Lawler said. Kane turned around, then A.J. suddenly hopped into Kane's arm and planted a big kiss on him. Kane maintained the embrace as the ref stood stunned in the corner. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" chant from the vocal males.

WWE went to a wide-shot to reveal Punk slowly reaching the corner ring steps selling disbelief over this. Kane eventually just walked over to Bryan and tagged him into the match before leaving the match. Bryan smirked and tried to go after A.J., but A.J. ran toward Punk, who tagged into the match and smashed Bryan. Punk then hit a top-rope Macho Man elbow drop for the pin and the win.

Post-match: The males stood still trying to figure out what just happened as A.J. sat down in the ring cross-legged a la Punk rocking back and forth. Kane stood on the ramp with hands-on-hips, Punk tried to do the math on what happened, and Bryan acted stunned ringside recovering from the finish.

WINNERS: Punk & A.J. at 4:58. This did not feel come across like the final hype for a WWE Title match on PPV, but WWE is treating the PPV like filler, so it was fitting WWE focused on the TV story centered on A.J. It's also partly a product of the WWE Title being complete de-valued.

Countdown Clock: 3:20 until McMahon's decision on Laurinaitis.

[Commercial Break]

Smackdown plug: WWE announced Punk & Sheamus vs. Ziggler & Bryan in a tag match on Smackdown promoting No Way Out.

Back live, Vince McMahon's music played to bring out McMahon and six independent wrestlers dressed as security guards. McMahon opened his promo talking up Connecticut. He said he lives here, his daughter was born here, and it's poetic justice that one person's profession ends here tonight. (He did not mention his wife currently running for Senate in the state.) McMahon asked for Laurinaitis to come on down, then his music played to bring out Laurinaitis on a crutch. Cole dejectedly talked about the end of the road for Laurinaitis tonight before feeding to a replay McMahon rolling Laurinaitis's scooter of the stage two hours ago.

[Q13 -- over-run] Once in the ring, Johnny said he does not appreciate what McMahon did to his scooter earlier. Johnny said he doesn't need security because he would never think of laying a hand on McMahon. McMahon laughed, then McMahon noted they are going to walk a certain someone right out of his ring and his business. Laurinaitis said he thinks his actions speak for themselves. He said Raw and Smackdown have become destination TV, then claimed McMahon will need him when Raw goes to three hours. He told McMahon to do the right thing for him, WWE, and the fans. McMahon absorbed the last-second plea before setting up the You're Fired line.

Suddenly, Big Show's music played before McMahon could fire Laurinaitis. Big Show stood next to Johnny and said he understands McMahon is giving Johnny a job review, then Show tried to defend Laurinaitis, noting Laurinaitis gave him an iron-clad contract, which gives him absolute power. Show said he knows the almighty-Vince could fire him, which would mean McMahon would have to pay him millions of dollars for many years to do absolutely nothing. He said that's not going to happen. Show told McMahon not to get mad at Laurinaitis, then said they both know whose fault this is. He said every stupid costume he's had to wear and all the crazy things he's been forced to do all have one thing in common: McMahon. Show said he did everything McMahon asked him to do, but McMahon wouldn't let him be him: a big giant. Show, now inches away from McMahon's nose, said he no longer has to be part of McMahon's dog and pony show. Show noted he finally gets to be a giant.

Show pulled back, then returned to Johnny's shoulder and said McMahon shouldn't be worried about firing Johnny because he should be more worried about the other John. Show said McMahon should be worried about the big cash cow and franchise player. Show said McMahon's golden goose is going to get his feathers plucked. Show told McMahon that at No Way Out ... suddenly, John Cena's music interrupted.

Cena emerged on-stage to a loud ovation and played to the crowd on-stage before jogging to the ring. Once in the ring, Cena shook hands with McMahon before playing to the crowd and having a big, fun time. Cena smiled and said they're in Hartford, home of the whale. He said he could stay out here all night, but he is out here on official business with Big Show. Cena noted Show first blamed him, then the fans, then McMahon. He asked Show if he's going to blame McDonald's next for putting nuggets on-sale. Cena said the only person he hasn't blamed is Laurinaitis, who dumped a bunch of money on Show. Cena mocked Show complaining about things before taking off his cap and sizing up Show.

Cena noted he's always been a giant. For 14 years, he's been seven-foot, 400-pounds, and the world's largest athlete. Cena said he figured it out - for the first time, everything revolves around Show. Cena said the deck is finally stacked in Show's favor - he has the contract, management behind him, the match he wants, and the opponent he wants. Cena said no one sees him (Cena) as the favorite at No Way Out (classic Cena stack-the-deck formula), and Show will give him a beat down not even he can come back. But, what happens if Show doesn't finish the job? Cena said if Show doesn't beat him at No Way Out, then Show has no more excuses. He said there will be no one left to blame except himself. Cena noted if Show loses, he's still going to have show up every week and listen to the people call him a sell-out.

McMahon interrupted and said what happens is he will be ringside at No Way Out to sit ringside next to Laurinaitis. He said if Show loses this match, then he'll say the famous two words to Laurinaitis. Suddenly, bodies started flying as the crowd sat on their hands taken out of the moment by the long promo. Show and Cena cleared security, then teased a brawl, which woke up the crowd. McMahon suddenly got caught in the middle and took a KO Punch from Big Show. Everything stopped, then Laurinaitis told Show to bail, and both men left the ring. Cena acted stunned as McMahon remained KO'ed in the ring. A trainer slipped into the ring and made the "X" signal as Cena stood stunned in the ring. Raw signed off 13 minutes past the top of the hour.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The final segment was similar to the WWE Title match hype promo earlier - all over the place at times and unable to squarely hit the bulls-eye. McMahon's desperation heave toward the endzone saying he'll be at No Way Out didn't really connect with the audience, which was worn out by the end of the third hour. Overall on this show, there's just no way Raw will survive going to three hours every week unless they use one of the hours for a program with a completely different look, feel, and presentation. WWE not having enough stars is one issue, but the show just drags too much for the home and live audience to sit through three hours every Monday.

***

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