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WWE Raw Report
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 8/20: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - Punk-Cena, Lesnar opens show, Triple H "speculation," Jericho farewell

Aug 20, 2012 - 10:14:26 PM
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WWE Raw Supershow Results
August 20, 2012 - Episode #1,003
Live in Fresno, Calif.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
Staff12CaldwellJames_120_74.jpg


This week's three-hour WWE Raw started with a wide shot inside the Savemart Center. Brock Lesnar's music then played to a reaction and out came "the beast" followed by Paul Heyman. Lesnar slowly walked out on-stage with a big smile on his face. After bouncing up and down on-stage, Lesnar marched to the ring all-smiles as Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler recapped Lesnar beating Triple H in the Summerslam main event last night. Lawler said there's a great deal of speculation that Hunter may have had his last match.

After WWE rolled a video package with still-shots from Lesnar-Hunter, the live crowd booed before Paul Heyman started speaking. Heyman said he understands why the people are upset because Hunter was destroyed last night. Heyman paused and said he was sitting at the announce table doing a much better job than Cole and Lawler 11 years ago when he saw Hunter tear his quad, yet still finished the "fight." Heyman said Hunter was a warrior then. But now, Lesnar finished off Hunter.

Heyman emphasized that Lesnar made Hunter tap out and forced him to quit on his own his family, his company, his friends, his fans, and "all of you." Heyman said Lesnar made Hunter suffer and he took away his manhood because Lesnar left Hunter a bruised and battered shell of a former man. "And, I don't feel sorry for Triple H and neither should any single one of you," Heyman said. He said Hunter picked this fight. After all, Hunter called the ref into his locker room because Hunter wanted a fight to the finish. And, that's what it was, except not the finish Hunter was looking for.

Heyman then called referee Scott Armstrong down to the ring because Lesnar would like to address him. No sign of Scott. Heyman again requested Armstrong come to the ring at this time. Armstrong eventually slowly made his way out on-stage before slowly walking to the ring. Heyman said this is live television, so come on to the ring. Once Armstrong entered the ring, Heyman confirmed the details of the match instructions, then noted Lesnar has two words for him. Lesnar slowly walked up to Armstrong, pulled him in close, patted him on the shoulder, and said, "Good job." Lesnar smiled and backed away as Armstrong sighed.

Heyman continued that Triple H not only put himself in jeopardy, but all of WWE. Heyman declared Lesnar the new King of Kings and conqueror of WWE. "Here's the best part. Each and every one of you are loyal subjects to the conqueror himself, my client, Brrrrrrrock Lesssssssnar," Heyman said. Lesnar bounced up and down with a big smile on his face, then his music played. Lesnar saluted the crowd, then both men left the ring.

Cole ominously said Lesnar has been declared the new King of Kings, then said speculation has picked up on Triple H potentially having his final match last night. Cole then plugged Shawn Michaels live via satellite tonight for an interview on Hunter and Lesnar. After the plug, Cole suggested the show will be built around speculation on the future of Triple H. They returned to a live shot of Lesnar on top of the stage saluting the crowd before turning to leave with Heyman close behind.

[Commercial Break]

[Q2] Back live, Cole and Lawler were shown on-camera discussing the WWE Title match last night at Summerslam. Cole said it was controversial and Lawler said all that matters to WWE champion C.M. Punk is that he is still champion. They rolled a tout from Punk earlier in the day that Punk wants to pick his next opponent for the WWE Title. Cole said Raw GM A.J. Lee is taking that option under "careful consideration."

In-ring: WWE tag champs Kofi Kingston and R-Truth came to the ring for an opening six-man tag match holding Mattel WWE toys to give out to the kids ringside. After a clip of Truth giving Little Jimmy a "Gatorade bath" after their Summerslam match victory, Sin Cara came out to join them. First out for the heels was Cody Rhodes, who Cole said is obsessed with Cara wearing a mask. Cole and Rhodes mocked Cara, then Prime Time Players came out to join Rhodes. Cole noted the PTP'ers are still upset over their Tag Title loss last night.

1 -- WWE tag champions KOFI KINGSTON & R-TRUTH & SIN CARA vs. CODY RHODES & PRIME TIME PLAYERS (DARREN YOUNG & TITUS O'NEILL) -- six-man tag match

As Kofi and Young started things off, the announcers continued the Triple H career "speculation," with Cole using words like "legendary" and "legend" to describe Hunter's career if it's the end of the road. The tag champs and Cara cleared the heels from the ring and Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Truth took a tag from Kofi to attack Darren Young as Cole plugged Khloe Kardashian Odom as the social media ambassador tonight. Rhodes then snuck into the ring with a legal tag to drop Truth with a neckbreaker for a two count. As the heels went to work on Truth, Lawler and Cole continued the lowest common denominator discussion on whether Rhodes or Cara is ugly. Titus then took his eye off the ball, allowing Truth to dropkick him to break free from the heel attack.

Rhodes and Sin Cara took duel tags and Cara wowed the crowd with a high-flying arsenal. Cara followed with a springboard cross-body for a two count. The action then broke down with bodies in and out of the ring. Back in the ring, Rhodes smashed Cara in the face, then tried to take off Cara's mask, but Cara once again countered with a jack-knife pin for the win. Afterward, Rhodes slammed the mat in frustration and claimed Cara is lucky.

WINNERS: Cara & Kofi & Truth at 10:15. Basic reinforcement of WWE's only tag division feud and Rhodes's placeholder feud with Cara.

[Q3] Raw tonight: A.J. has booked a strange bedfellows match of Kane & Zack Ryder vs. The Miz & Daniel Bryan to help Bryan and Kane get over their anger management issues.

Backstage: Matt Striker brought in A.J. Lee, who was joined by a returning David Otunga, who noted he was away filming "The Hive" with Halle Berry. Otunga offered A.J. legal services, including protection if anyone calls her crazy. That drew a change of demeanor from A.J., who told him to say that again. Otunga back-pedaled, then A.J. told Otunga to offer his services in the ring tonight against an opponent of her choosing. After Otunga left, Striker asked A.J. about Punk's title request made earlier today. A.J. said she likes it and Punk can choose anyone he wants to defend his title against next...pending her approval. A.J. then skipped away down the backstage hallway.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Cole plugged Khloe Kardashian Odom as the social media ambassador for Raw tonight. Cole and Lawler chuckled as they read some of Khloe's tweets.

In-ring: Ryback's new "Feed Me More" theme music played to bring out Ryback for the next match. After a look at Ryback's messed-up eye, Justin Roberts announced it as a handicap match. No graphic for his jobber opponents identified as Mike and Andy.

2 -- RYBACK vs. MIKE & ANDY -- handicap match

Ryback quickly kicked the jobber in the blue trunks out of the ring. The one in black and red trunks took a beating as a very light "Goldberg" chant picked up. Ryback then powerbombed black & red trunks three times before calling out Jinder Mahal by name. Blue trunks was suplexed back into the ring, then Ryback called for the end. Ryback scooped up both men for a double suplex, but Jinder Mahal attacked Ryback from behind to cause a DQ.

After the bell, Mahal beat down Ryback before slapping on the Camel Clutch. However, Ryback offered a Feat of Strength powering to his feet with Mahal on his back and delivering a jawbreaker. After Mahal rolled out of the ring, Ryback finished off Mike and Andy with a double fallaway slam. From ringside, Mahal claimed that he can match that. Ryback led the crowd in "Feed Me More" chants to close the segment.

WINNER: Ryback via DQ at 1:29.

Backstage: Chris Jericho was shown texting or tweeting. Dolph Ziggler then walked up to Jericho and congratulated him on getting one win. Ziggler wanted a re-match to prove he can beat Jericho. Jericho told Ziggler he's forgotten who he's dealing with. He then asked Dolph if he knows how to win a big one. Suddenly, A.J. skipped into the conversation. A.J. said they both really want a re-match and it's her job to make things interesting, so there will be a re-match. A.J. wanted to raise the stakes, though. She said if Jericho loses, then his contract is terminated. And, if Ziggler loses, his MITB contract goes to Chris Jericho. Jericho smiled, then Ziggler panicked and chased after A.J.

Backstage hallway: Alberto Del Rio was shown marching down the hall. Cole said Del Rio has filed a formal protest of the outcome of last night's World Title match. Cole said he will speak next.

[Commercial Break...] [...Q4]

In-ring: Ricardo Rodriguez angrily introduced Alberto Del Rio, who marched to the ring as Cole accused Sheamus of cheating to retain the World Title last night. In the ring, Del Rio said he should be standing here as new World Hvt. champion right now. But, last night, he got robbed by the referee and by the peasant Sheamus. Del Rio then introduced a still-shot backing his case as Cole presented misleading information about the circumstances, further compromising his play-by-play character. Del Rio then demanded a World Title re-match right now.

Cue up A.J.'s music to bring out the Raw GM to handle a Smackdown brand issue. A.J. stood on-stage and greeted Del Rio. She said she has no authority over the World Title scene, but since Del Rio is dressed to wrestle, she can put Del Rio in a match right now to give Smackdown GM Booker T something to think about. A.J. told Del Rio to say hello to his little friend. After a pause, Randy Orton's music played to a big reaction as Del Rio flipped out in the ring. Orton paused on-stage to acknowledge A.J. before slowly making his way to the ring. Cole noted Booker will make a decision on the World Title this Friday on Smackdown. Orton posed in the ring leading to break.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back live, Orton was posing in the ring. Before the bell sounded, Sheamus's music played to bring out the World champ, angering Del Rio again. Sheamus saluted the crowd and rubbed it in Del Rio's face that he's still champ before the bell sounded.

3 -- ALBERTO DEL RIO vs. RANDY ORTON

Sheamus joined Cole and Lawler on commentary and said the Luck of the Irish reigned true last night to make sure he remained champ. In the ring, Orton knocked Del Rio to the outside as Lawler defended Sheamus's use of Ricardo's shoe in the Summerslam World Title match. Back in the ring, Orton continued the attack on Del Rio with a suplex before stomping away on Del Rio's limbs. Del Rio and Orton went back and forth as Sheamus cracked jokes about being a "simple fella" while trying to ignore Cole. Del Rio, in control, began punching the mat like Orton before he delivered a stomp to the chest.

[Q5 -- second hour] Del Rio climbed to the top turnbuckle, but Orton cut him off. Suddenly, a graphic flashed on the screen promoting the WrestleMania 28 special on John Cena vs. The Rock this Saturday on NBC. As Orton and Del Rio exchanged control, Cole reset the show and promoted tonight's story of whether Triple H has wrestled his last match. Del Rio lost control of the match at 6:40 and Orton dropped him with a neckbreaker for a two count. They battled in the corner, where Orton set up Del Rio for a new twist on his second-rope spike DDT.

Orton teased the RKO, but Ricardo hopped on the ring apron for a distraction. Sheamus got up from the announce table and chased him away, then Orton eyed Sheamus. Suddenly, Del Rio nailed Orton from behind with a backstabber. Del Rio covered Orton, but Orton got his foot on the bottom rope. Sheamus stopped the ref's count, noting Orton's foot was on the ropes. Cole called Sheamus a tattle-tale as Sheamus argued with Del Rio. Orton then pulled in a distracted Del Rio for an emphatic RKO and it was good for the win. Post-match, Cole screamed at Sheamus, wondering why he didn't help out the ref last night.

WINNER: Orton at 8:35. It looks like they're setting up a three-way World Title match to keep Del Rio in the title picture and give Orton purpose without having to put him in a singles feud with two strikes.

Last night: C.M. Punk talked to WWE's website about a "controversy" having to fight "four people" at Summerslam. Punk claimed A.J. is out to get him and said the only controversy here is he had to beat two people twice in the same match.

After the Punk interview aired, Lawler noted Shawn Michaels will appear live tonight via satellite to discuss Triple H and Brock Lesnar.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Cole and Lawler reset the show and discussed Antonio Cesaro capturing the U.S. Title from Santino on the Summerslam pre-show after addressing the crowd in five different languages. On-camera, Cole congratulated Cesaro on his title victory. Cole then fed to a video package on Summerslam Weekend in Los Angeles.

[Q6] In-ring: Brodus Clay's music played to bring out Clay as Cole claimed Clay wanted some advice after watching him dance at Summerslam last night. Clay completed his full ring intro with Cameron and Naomi before Cole narrated footage of Damien Sandow taking out Clay on Raw two weeks ago. Back live, Clay locked eyes on the entrance ramp awaiting Sandow before they cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Cole and Lawler plugged the Jericho vs. Ziggler contract vs. MITB contract re-match still to come tonight. Damien Sandow then came out on-stage before slowly making his way to the ring to face Clay. They cut to an inset promo from earlier today, where Sandow noted he cannot allow Clay to continue ruining the WWE Universe's minds.

4 -- BRODUS CLAY vs. DAMIEN SANDOW

Clay quickly ran over Sandow with high-impact offense as Cole rattled off Sandow's big-syllable descriptions of his WWE objective. Clay continued the attack with an elbow drop before noting to Sandow that he never should have messed with him. Sandow then kicked the bad knee, but it only fired up Clay, who punched Sandow into the corner before splashing him in the other corner. Clay followed with a rump-shake splash before nailing a big headbutt to the chest. Clay tried again in the other corner, but Sandow side-stepped Clay, then rolled him up from behind for a quick three count.

Post-match, Sandow stood up celebrating his victory and told Clay's dancers that they're welcome. Sandow followed with a "refined" cartwheel. Sandow took too much time celebrating, though, allowing Clay to grapple him from behind for a t-bone suplex. Cole called it bad sportsmanship. Clay then squashed Sandow with the Big Splash. Cue up Clay's music for a post-match loss dance celebration with kids from the audience.

WINNER: Sandow at 2:41. Clay dominated, Sandow scored a quick win, and Clay delivered a post-match attack to enhance Sandow's martyr mantra. That was a quick even-steven.

Announcers: Cole read off some tweets from WWE stars speculating on whether Triple H's career is over after his loss to Brock Lesnar last night. Lawler said he has not spoken to Hunter, but the way Hunter walked off seemed like he was saying good-bye. WWE then cut to the first live shot of Michaels in his Texas home preparing for an interview up next. Michaels's arm was in a sling selling the kimura lock from Lesnar last week on Raw.

[Q7] [Commercial Break]

Announcers: Cole was shown on-camera to bring in Shawn Michaels live via satellite. Cole said many people believe Hunter's career is over after last night, but what do you think. Michaels said he's feeling like he knows what's going through Hunter's head right now. He paused, then said you can tell yourself that the end is near and can prepare yourself for it, but there's really nothing that prepares you for that day when - wham! - it hits you right in the face. Michaels said everyone would like for it to happen privately and on your own when in reality, it happens in front of thousands of people and millions on PPV, and that's the humbling part. Michaels said you can't prepare yourself for that to face your own professional mortality.

Michaels said it may have been the end of an amazing career last night. He said Hunter is an amazing warrior and a man of integrity, which is something Lesnar and Heyman would know nothing about. Michaels said Hunter gave it all he had and last night was no exception. Michaels said that's who The Game is. Michaels said he came around to Raw the last couple of weeks to support his friend, but that was stupid. He claimed to have been a distraction and another burden on Hunter's shoulders. Michaels said maybe things would have been different if he were there last night, but maybe it would have made no difference at all.

Michaels said he told Hunter last week that Hunter knows where his heart is, but the truth is he didn't say what he really thought. Michaels said he didn't think Hunter could beat Brock Lesnar. He said it's not easy to look your best friend in the eye and tell him that he thinks it's over for him. Michaels choked back tears and told Hunter that he has nothing to be ashamed of. "You are one of the greatest," Michaels said to light applause from the live crowd. Michaels said he will always respect Hunter, always be proud of him, and always love him. Michaels said they all love him, which drew a smattering of applause. Michaels thanked Triple H for a job well-done to conclude his speech. WWE faded to a dramatic still-shot of Hunter selling injuries after his loss to Lesnar last night, then faded to commercial.

Segment Reax: The latest lovefest for Triple H is going to get a lot of people gagging on this story, but the key is where they're going with this after investing the majority of this show in building up speculation on Hunter's career status. Does it lead to redemption match, a retirement match, a re-match with Brock down the line, or something else to make money?

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: David Otunga's music played back from break. Otunga, looking smaller than during his previous TV run, waited until he entered the ring to remove his Chris Masters robe as Cole plugged Otunga's role in "The Hive" with Halle Berry. Big Show's music then played to bring out a very angry giant after losing in the WWE Title match last night.

[Q8]

5 -- BIG SHOW vs. DAVID OTUNGA

Big Show quickly went after a frightened Otunga with big right hands and punches and slaps and stomps as Cole said Big Show dominated the majority of the title match last night. Big Show continued to dominate before delivering a KO Punch to Otunga for the pin and the win. Afterward, Cole introduced video of Show screaming and yelling last night at Summerslam after losing the title match. In the video, Show demanded a one-on-one title match.

WINNER: Show at 2:08. Basic reinforcement of Show as a destructive force after tapping out and getting pinned in the title match last night.

Up next: Kane & Ryder vs. Miz & Bryan in a strange bedfellows match to get over their anger management issues.

Before Raw went to break, WWE plugged the WrestleMania 28 special focusing on Rock vs. Cena airing this Saturday on NBC. WWE plugged a never-before-seen look at the build-up to the match and the match itself.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back from break, Kane's pyro shot off before his music played. Out came another angry big-man following his loss to Daniel Bryan last night at Summerslam. Once Kane entered the ring, WWE rolled footage of Kane assaulting Josh Mathews, who Cole said will be back to work sometime next week. Zack Ryder then came out to join Kane, but not before pausing on the entrance tamp to stare at Kane, contemplating the fact that he has to team with him tonight. Cole recapped all of their history this year, then Daniel Bryan's music played. After a long stretch of inactivity, the crowd woke up with "Yes!" chants thrown in Bryan's face. Bryan stopped to grab a fan's sign, which he ripped up before shouting, "No!" at the crowd.

The Miz was out last to join Bryan, which led to Cole recapping Bryan and Miz's history going back to the first NXT season when Miz was Bryan's coach. Meanwhile, Bryan engaged a ringside fan in a very long "Yes! / No!" exchange. Miz then told Bryan to get in the ring.

6 -- IC champion THE MIZ & DANIEL BRYAN vs. KANE & ZACK RYDER

Bryan was in the ring to start, but quickly slap-tagged Miz once the bell sounded. The fans chanted for Ryder and Kane obliged with a tag to Ryder, who dropkicked Miz across the ring. Miz quickly cut off Ryder's offense, though, and Lawler referenced former Raw GM John Laurinaitis. Bryan tagged in and the crowd went wild with "Yes!" chants to anger Bryan, who delivered "No!" stomps to Ryder's back. Bryan then taunted Kane, telling him to tag in for Ryder. Bryan followed with rapid-fire, repeated "No!" kicks to Ryder's chest.

[Q9 -- third hour] Bryan continued to taunt Kane as Cole reset the show. Miz then tagged back into the match and mocked Ryder's Woo Woo Woo fist pump. Bryan re-entered as Lawler reminded viewers that they are three hours every week now. Bryan re-engaged the crowd with multiple No! kicks in the corner, then Bryan accidentally smashed Miz off the ring apron. Suddenly, Ryder broke free and tagged in Kane to a big reaction. Bryan then tried to tag in Miz, but Miz bailed to the floor. So, Bryan slapped Kane, bailed from the ring, and ran away through the crowd to boos. The only people left were Kane and Ryder. Kane then chokeslammed Ryder and bailed from the ring, flipping over ring steps and tossing the announce table cover away. A faint bell sounded, apparently ending this match.

Post-match: Kane grabbed the TV producer and chucked him over the barricade into the front row. Back in the ring, Kane grabbed Ryder and gave him a Tombstone Piledriver center-ring. Kane then slipped out of the ring and ran off, leaving Ryder KO'ed in the ring. Cole noted WWE fans have driven Bryan crazy and now Bryan has driven Kane crazy.

WINNER: No Decision at 5:08. Ryder makes it back on TV...and he plays the tackling dummy role as WWE continues the Bryan-Kane feud. This was consistent with WWE's post-PPV reset essentially being a continuation of all of the ongoing feuds.

(After the match, A.J. tweeted off TV that starting next week on Raw, she will "send Daniel Bryan to anger management classes" to help with his "anger issues.)

Announcers: Cole and Lawler reset things, focusing on the WWE Title situation. Cole then fed to a video interview with John Cena last night after his title match loss. Cena, with a squeaky voice, said it's just one of those nights where it didn't work out for him. Asked if Punk is the best in the world, Cena said he'll talk to everyone tomorrow (Monday).

Backstage: Striker brought in WWE champion C.M. Punk. Punk noted he's still WWE champion and the next question is who his next opponent is. He said he would like to choose his next opponent for the WWE Title...John Cena. Punk said it's under one condition. He said he will call out Cena to the ring later tonight and see what Cena has to say. Punk said it's all about respect and he's going to demand respect from Cena tonight.

Up next: #1 contender's Divas Battle Royal featuring Kaitlyn, Eve, Aksana, Rosa Mendes, Kelly Kelly, Natalya, Alicia Fox, Beth Phoenix, and Tamina.

[Commercial Break]

7 -- DIVAS BATTLE ROYAL -- #1 contender match to Layla's Divas Title

Back live, the participating Divas were in the ring and Layla was ringside to watch the match. It came down to Tamina, Natalya, Fox, and Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn thought she won, but Eve snuck back into the match and tried to eliminate Kaitlyn, but Kaitlyn cut her off and eliminated Eve to win. Afterward, Layla acted stunned ringside as Kaitlyn celebrated the win.

WINNER: Kaitlyn at 4:08.

[Q10] Announcers: Cole and Lawler transitioned to Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar discussion from Summerslam last night. Cole then fed to a video from earlier tonight when Heyman declared Lesnar the new King of Kings and conqueror of WWE. Next, Cole introduced a tout from Lesnar saying he came to WWE, conquered everything, and now is leaving and never coming back, which drew some cheers from the live Raw crowd. On-camera, Lawler sold shock. Lawler said Lesnar claimed he is the King of WWE, so he doesn't understand why he would leave and not come back. Cole said Lesnar thinks he has no competition left.

Leading to break, the announcers plugged Jericho vs. Ziggler in the Contract vs. Contract match up next.

[Commercial Break]

Vignette: Wade Barrett is returning. His barrage cannot be stopped.

Back live, Cole and Lawler were shown on-camera recapping A.J. Lee's eventful night as GM. Cole read A.J.'s tweet from a few segments ago that she is giving Daniel Bryan some anger management classes starting next week. Cole then plugged WWE's new App.

Backstage locker room: Vickie Guerrero was shown pacing around. She said A.J. is a witch, then told Dolph Ziggler that he must win his match tonight...for her. Ziggler, sitting in a chair selling concern over his situation tonight, said it's about him and this is the biggest match of his career because he may never have another World Title opportunity. "We have to win!" Vickie shouted over and over. Ziggler calmed her down and said, "Tonight, we will win."

Up next, it's Jericho vs. Ziggler.

[Commercial Break]

[Q11] Back live, Vickie Guerrero excused herself onto the show and introduced the man who is going to - excuse me! - send Chris Jericho packing, Mr. MITB Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler walked out on-stage selling that he's focused on the task at-hand tonight. As Ziggler made his entrance, Lawler plugged Night of Champions in September. The lights then went out and Chris Jericho, with taped ribs, made his entrance for his send-off match one way or another. Jericho took a long look at the arena on the way to the ring as Lawler plugged the high-stakes match-up made very abruptly.

8 -- CHRIS JERICHO vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Vickie Guerrero) -- Jericho's contract vs. Ziggler's MITB World Title contract

As the bell sounded, Lawler suggested both men wanted a return match, which goes against the earlier segment when Ziggler was the only person who requested a return match. Jericho took control early, sending Ziggler scurrying to the outside to regroup and re-assess his strategy. Cole suggested Ziggler is timid with so much on the line tonight. Back in the ring, Ziggler scored some offense, but Jericho back-dropped Ziggler over the top rope before dropkicking him to the floor. Raw went to break with Jericho in control and Vickie freaking out ringside.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Ziggler was in control and Cole reminded viewers of the high-stakes to this Summerslam re-match. Cole also noted the only other time the MITB contract was not successfully cashed in was when John Cena gave C.M. Punk one week's notice, which is apparently how they will frame it going forward. Jericho came back on Ziggler with big Ric Flair chops, then landed ten punches in the corner. He tried a huracanrana, but Ziggler appeared to block, but it was a case of Ziggler hooking onto Jericho's legs as Jericho flipped him over. It was almost like a wheelbarrow toss.

Ziggler and Jericho engaged in a finisher tease sequence at 9:45, then Ziggler scored a close two count on a small package. More teases, then Jericho nailed a bulldog into a Lionsault attempt, but Ziggler got his knees up. Ziggler followed with the Zig-Zag center-ring and he scored a three count for the win.

Post-match: Vickie freaked out in excitement and gave Ziggler his MITB contract as they celebrated. Lawler enhanced Ziggler, saying that was a hard-fought win with no controversy at all. After a replay of the finish, which Cole noted was a pin in the center of the ring, they showed Ziggler still celebrating and proclaiming that it's his time. On the other side of the ring, Jericho was shown selling emotion as Lawler tried to process that Jericho is gone. Ziggler continued to show off in the ring as Cole said Jericho is done.

[Q8] They stayed with this for a while until Jericho yanked the MITB briefcase away from Vickie, who screamed at Dolph to do something. Ziggler walked up to Jericho and told him it's his time, then Jericho smashed the briefcase over Ziggler's back. The crowd booed. Jericho smirked as Cole called him a sore loser. Jericho followed with a codebreaker center-ring. Jericho's music played one more time as Cole noted he has been terminated. Cole wondered aloud if that's how he wants to be remembered. Jericho mouthed something to the crowd, waved to the crowd, and gave a kiss to the crowd. WWE replayed the post-match parting shot from Jericho before returning to a live shot of Jericho slowly leaving the ring with hands on hips. Jericho took a victory lap up the entrance ramp as Cole plugged Summerslam Weekend events. Cole then suggested Jericho can't win the big one as they faded to a trailer for "The Day" with Jericho standing atop the stage.

WINNER: Ziggler at 10:28 to retain his MITB contract. Jericho put over Ziggler clean, then, even with Jericho on his way out of WWE, they booked it even-steven in the post-match with Jericho playing Brodus Clay and Ziggler playing Damien Sandow. Granted, it gives Jericho something to come back for down the road when he makes his next return to WWE, but WWE could have done something different to have Jericho - even subtly - endorse Ziggler on the way out while still playing up Ziggler's cocky heel character.

Backstage: After "The Day" trailer aired, WWE cut to a shot of WWE champion C.M. Punk walking backstage. Punk addresses his condition for Cena up next.

[Commercial Break]

Smackdown plug: Booker T will address the standing of the World Title this Friday on Smackdown.

In-ring: Cult of Personality played back from commercial to bring out WWE champion C.M. Punk dressed in pink boots, black basketball shorts, and a Punk t-shirt to signal he's not wrestling tonight. Once in the ring, Punk listened to the crowd, then slipped out of the ring to approach the announce table and address Lawler. Punk said that after he successfully defended the WWE Title last night, he was just going to come out here and talk about his next title challenge, but then he remembered Lawler's words on him turning his back on the WWE audience a few weeks ago. Punk said he wants Lawler to admit he's wrong. Lawler said he meant no malice, but at that time, he felt that Punk did just that. Punk asked for an apology from Lawler, who thought things over before John Cena's music interrupted. Punk, annoyed, kept his focus on Lawler and back to Cena, who came out on-stage, saluted the crowd, and ran to the ring. By the time Cena hit the ring, Punk had turned to face the ring. Punk then entered the ring as Cena waited for him.

In the ring, Cena listened to the mixed reception for his arrival as Punk stood annoyed in the corner. "You couldn't have waited?" Punk quietly asked Cena. Punk said he was conducting business with Lawler, but Cena still had to come out here and interrupt. He said it's a great segue, though, to what he's talking about. Punk said he's tired of taking a backseat to Cena, Triple H, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. He said he took a backseat out of respect, but it's never been reciprocated to him. Punk said he's WWE champion and he has been for nine months.

[Q13 -- over-run] Punk said Cena can go on last because he respects him and it's out of respect that he lets Cena go on last. Cena smiled along with Punk's reasoning. Punk said taking a backseat no longer makes any sense, especially since Cena is the guy he beat at MITB last year, Summerslam last year, and Summerslam last night. Cena sternly nodded along. Punk said he had to hold this company up last year to get respect and now he has to get respect by beating Cena again. Punk said even though he's beaten Cena so many times, he still sees a sea of green and the CeNation in Fresno, California. And, then it dawns on him. Pause for "Cena, Cena" chant.

Punk said all of these people are going to follow him off a cliff and do what he says. The condition, though, is Cena saying on live television that he is the best in the world. Cena blinked and continued to stare at Punk before resetting his gaze and pacing the ring. Punk told Cena to tell the truth.

"C-M-Punk," Cena said. He said Punk is always one to speak his mind. Cena noted Punk has been WWE champion for nine months, which means he hasn't been champ in nine months. And, yet, you look into the crowd and see all of the Cena fans in the crowd. Cena said through all of the wins and losses, their relationship is not built on championship, but respect. Cena said he has an example. Cena emphatically said Raw tonight is broadcast live from Fresno, California. He said he sees some Bulldogs here tonight with Fresno St. right around the corner. Yet, for some reason, if Fresno St. doesn't win the National Title this year, their fans don't just give up on their team. Cena said they are still proud of their team and city because it represents who they are. Cena said it's just like the green represents all of them.

Cena said Punk makes valid points, but he is not going to call Punk the Best in the World, even if it makes him throw away a title shot. Cena said that for him to succeed every night, he has to believe he is the best. Cena said it's not arrogance or cockiness, but because he believes in them and he wants them to believe in him. Cena said he spent an entire calendar year that he would beat The Rock and there was not one second during that match that he wouldn't win. He said he would love another match and he would do it all over again. Cena said if you don't believe you're the best, then there's the door.

Cena congratulated Punk on his nine months as champ and said he once held the title for over one year. He said he never demanded anything from anyone during that reign. He confirmed that Punk has been riding in the backseat and the only thing anyone remembers from him is the night he blew a kiss to Vince McMahon and left town. And, now, Punk wants him to stroke Punk's ego and sacrifice ten years of building his career. Cena said what he can offer is vindication for Punk. He will not call Punk the Best in the World, so Punk can pick someone else. He said he is confident he can get another shot at the WWE Title.

Cena said Punk can choose someone else, but Punk can define his legacy and earn respect at Night of Champions in his hometown. Cena said if Punk can walk in to Cena's backyard as champ and leave as champ, then Punk can define his existence. Punk inched closer to Cena as Cena told him to think about it. Cena told Punk not to demand respect from these people because if he doesn't pick him to defend the title against at Night of Champions in the main event, then he has no respect for the WWE Title and no respect for himself. Cena stormed out of the ring and took it to the back as Punk squatted down in the ring.

Punk then turned his attention back to Jerry Lawler. He said he wants an apology from Lawler right now. Punk said they have unfinished business and he wants Lawler in the ring right now. Lawler slowly re-entered the ring and faced Punk face-to-face. Punk again requested an apology from Lawler, who said this is all a misunderstanding, but if that's what he wants, then he apologizes. Lawler turned to leave, but Punk said he's not finished.

Punk said if Cena doesn't want to say it, then Lawler is the minister of propaganda. Punk told Lawler to tell the audience that he is the best in the world. The crowd booed. Lawler shifted his weight, then said he has spent a lot of years at the announce table and he has built a rapport with the WWE Universe. Punk said that's good, so tell the audience the truth. Lawler looked down at the mat, then shook his head and said he can't say that. They locked eyes and Lawler requested he go do his job. Lawler brushed by Punk on the way to the ropes, then Punk roundhouse kicked Lawler in the head.

Punk leaned down and grabbed the WWE Title belt, then placed it over his shoulder and stared into the hard camera. Punk returned to Lawler and stooped down next to him. The crowd booed as Punk looked over Lawler into the crowd. A plug for the NBC WM28 special on Cena vs. Rock appropriately flashed over Punk's face to indirectly enhance Punk's story, then credits appeared on the screen as Raw closed 14 minutes past the top of the hour.

***

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