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WWE Raw Report
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 10/22: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw leading to HIAC - Ryback hype continues, GM removed, lumberjack main event

Oct 22, 2012 - 11:05:52 PM
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WWE Raw Supershow Results
October 22, 2012 - Episode #1,012
Live in E. Rutherford, N.J.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

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This week's three-hour WWE Raw started with Rey Mysterio's music playing live inside the Izod Center. Michael Cole introduced the show, then Mysterio came out to kick off the show with the finals of a #1 contender tag tournament. After Justin Roberts formally introduced the opening match, Michael Cole noted Raw GM A.J. Lee's tweet from earlier today that she has been called to an emergency meeting with the Board of Directors today. Jim Ross chimed in that A.J. will be here "within the hour" to address the meeting. Sin Cara's music then played to bring out Rey's tag partner.

The heel duo of Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes then came out to face Rey and Cara. As they completed their entrance, Cole noted Rey is 100 percent after being sick last week, which caused this match to be pushed back, and Ross noted Rey's long list of tag partners throughout his career, name-dropping Konan, Juvi, Billy Kidman, Rob Van Dam, and Eddie Guerrero.

1 -- RHODES SCHOLARS (CODY RHODES & DAMIEN SANDOW) vs. REY MYSTERIO & SIN CARA -- #1 contender tag tournament finals -- winners face Kane & Bryan for Tag Titles at Hell in a Cell

Rey set up Sandow for an early 619, but Cody yanked Sandow to the outside. So, Sin Cara flew at Sandow with a big splash. Rey then splashed Cody on the floor. As everyone recovered on the outside, WWE cut to a shot of Bryan and Kane watching the match on a monitor. Back in the ring, Rey and Cara took control of the action working on Sandow, including setting up a double-team springboard splash to Sandow's exposed mid-section. Sin Cara airballed a turnaround splash trying to follow up, though, allowing the heels to gain control of the action. Cara fought back with an enziguiri to Sandow, then Raw cut to break at 5:25, nine minutes into the show.

[Commercial Break]

Raw returned from break at 8:25 with Rhodes Scholars still in control of the action working on Cara. Sandow dropped the Elbow of Disdain, but Rey had the audacity to place his hands on Sandow's back to break up the pin attempt. Rhodes entered next and took a Tornado DDT from Cara from the second rope. Rey then took a hot-tag and flew at Rhodes with a seated splash. Rey followed with a head scissors, then delivered a springboard drop-down moonsault for a two count.

Rey wanted the 619 next and set up both heels when Sandow tried to enter. Rey connected on both men, then climbed up top for a flying splash on Rhodes. Rey covered, but Sandow dove right in front of the referee, who stopped his three count because Sandow's body was in the way instead of counting three on top of Sandow's body. In the confusion that followed, Rhodes grappled Rey from behind to deliver Cross Rhodes. Rhodes pinned Rey for the win.

WINNERS: Rhodes & Sandow at 11:14 to become #1 contenders.

[Q2] Post-match: Kane and Bryan appeared on the video screen to "congratulate" Cody and Damien on their victory. After simultaneously agreeing that Sandow & Rhodes have no chance against them at Hell in a Cell, Kane demonstrated some "magic" by making Bryan disappear behind him before shooting off his pyro in the ring. Rhodes and Sandow both freaked out, which took Raw to break.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Cole narrated photos from the Smackdown tour in Cairo, Egypt over the weekend.

Kofi Kingston's music then played to bring out the new Intercontinental Title champion fresh off his title victory on "Main Event" last week. Justin Roberts introduced Kofi for a singles match, then WWE showed The Miz ringside on commentary. Miz was not in a good mood. Cole and Ross then fed to a video replay of Kofi destroying Miz's face with Trouble in Paradise last Monday before losing the IC Title two nights later on Main Event. Back live, Miz complained about what happened before declaring he would regain the IC Title at Hell in a Cell. Suddenly, the bell sounded.

2 -- IC champion KOFI KINGSTON vs. MICHAEL MCGILLICUTTY -- non-title match

After the bell sounded, the announcers identified McGillicutty - riding a 16-match losing streak - as Kofi's opponent tonight. Mike took control early on and Ross equated this to a "trap game" for Kofi ahead of his title defense on Sunday. Cole then plugged Miz facing Ryback tonight, which drew complaints from Miz having to face Ryback when he should be allowed to prepare for Kofi on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Mike continued to dominate, but Kofi ducked a corner attack before blasting Mike with Trouble in Paradise out of nowhere. Kofi then pinned Mike for the pin and the win. Post-match: Miz sternly looked into the ring to watch Kofi's celebration. Kofi then held the title belt up for Miz to get a close look as Miz leaned back in his chair to tell Kofi to keep the belt warm for him.

WINNER: Kofi at 2:27.

After the match, Cole and Ross talked on-camera about last week's contract signing to determine who faces C.M. Punk for the WWE Title at Hell in a Cell. A video replay focused on John Cena making the decision for Vince McMahon by selecting Ryback to face Punk. ... Back to the announcers, who plugged John Cena up next to further elaborate on why he selected Ryback to face Punk.

[Commercial Break]

[Q3] Back live, Justin Roberts formally introduced members of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants ringside. Ross identified the players as the "big eaters" of the Giants, then John Cena's music played to a loud reaction. Cena emerged on-stage to a mix of cheers and boos before smiling to the crowd, shaking out his cap, saluting the crowd, pointing to his elbow and saying it's a-okay, and storming the ring. As Cena played to the crowd in the ring, Cole plugged WWE's cancer awareness initiative.

Once his music stopped, Cena waited out the crowd reaction before shouting out the defending Super Bowl champs on the front row and the home of next year's WrestleMania next door. Before that, WWE presents Hell in a Cell this Sunday on PPV. Cena said it's not just a normal PPV, but a night when WWE fans find out that C.M. Punk - pause to hear the crowd reaction - is a man who tells the truth. He said Punk has been WWE champ for 337 days. But, the most truthful thing that Punk has ever said came right before he became WWE champion. He said that item was change. And, this Sunday at Hell in a Cell, "We see change," Cena declared. He said Change is 6'3", 291 pounds, and when Change steps into the ring, all he can hear is "Feed Me More." Cena led a chant, which picked up a little steam in the crowd.

Cena continued that Ryback is not a complainer or a fake visionary promising ice-cream bars. He said Ryback stands for one thing - destruction. This Sunday, Cena said, the face of WWE will change.

This brought out WWE champion C.M. Punk, who emerged on-stage dressed in a hoodie covering his head. Paul Heyman followed out Punk and held up the WWE Title belt for everyone to get a good look at. Punk and Heyman opted to stay on the stage rather than walk into the ring, then Punk started by saying he's not surprised to hear Cena come out here and shout out to the Giants. He said perhaps he's supposed to come out here and just say the Giants suck. He said he's actually a huge Giants fan - the ones from San Francisco.

Punk continued that he's done everything that he promised he would do - and then some. He claimed to be the Best in the World, which drew boos. He said it's not Cena, nor the Giants, nor Ryback. Punk said Cena can make all the promises about Ryback he wants, but everyone knows that when Punk makes a promise, he means it. An "over-rated" chant picked up steam in the background, but Punk talked over it before declaring that he will still be WWE champion on Sunday.

Punk shifted to mocking Cena for being Ryback's cheerleader here in WWE. He said perhaps he finally realized something that he knew all along - Cena cannot beat him. Back in the ring, Cena said he wanted to let the fans know how excited he is for Sunday's PPV, so allow him to talk about himself. Cena said it's not that he can't beat Punk, but that he wasn't allowed to. He said he is now medically cleared (and flexed his arm to demonstrate his elbow is good to go). Cena said Punk already has a title match on Sunday, and he won't mess that up, but he'd like to mess up Punk's face right now. On-stage, Punk laughed, then Cena told Punk he'll give him a pre-ass-whipping before the real ass-whipping.

Cena removed his cap and shirt to prepare to fight Punk, who then removed his hoodie and marched down to the ring as Heyman shouted at him not to do this. Punk removed his t-shirt and stood on the ring apron opposite Cena as Heyman shouted over and over, "You have Ryback on Sunday!" Punk then took Heyman's advice not to give this away for free by hopping off the ring apron, taking his title belt, and backing away from ringside with his title belt held high in the air. A relieved Heyman told Punk that he did the right thing. "Never fight for free," Heyman told Punk.

Segment Reax: There's something about Cena that is missing right now. He doesn't seem fully engaged and the look in his eyes isn't there right now; perhaps it's part of the story, but it seems more like he doesn't have anything to sink his teeth into right now post-elbow injury, and he's not accustomed to promoting someone else's PPV main event. The tease for a post-HIAC match-up between Punk and Cena continues to be good, though.

Cole then transitioned to a note about A.J. Lee meeting with the Board of Directors earlier today. She will be here within the hour. Ross then plugged Kane vs. Big Show still to come tonight.

[Commercial Break]

[Q4] Back live, U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro was on the way to the ring for a match. WWE cut to a shot of Justin Gabriel already in the ring for a re-match from last week's Raw.

3 -- U.S. champion ANTONIO CESARO vs. JUSTIN GABRIEL -- non-title match

Gabriel, riding a 12-match losing streak, tried to lock up with Cesaro, but Cesaro left the ring and cut a promo on the crowd. Cesaro turned around to re-enter the ring, but Gabriel splashed him with a slingshot splash. Back in the ring, Cesaro cut off Gabriel and went to work on Gabriel as Cole noted Cesaro's right hand is taped because he's wrestling with torn tendons. Cesaro continued to wear down Gabriel as a light "boring" chant picked up in the background.

Gabriel suddenly came back with a elbow drop to the chest before going to the top rope, but Cesaro sprung to his feet to crotch Gabriel. Cesaro and Gabriel then fought on the top turnbuckle before Cesaro elbowed Gabriel to the ring apron. Suddenly, Gabriel popped Cesaro with a jumping enziguiri. Gabriel then sprung to his feet and delivered a top-rope 450 splash. Gabriel scored the pin, which Cole called a huge upset. Post-match: Gabriel celebrated as Cesaro pounded the mat in frustration. Cole said Gabriel just put himself into title contention.

WINNER: Gabriel at 4:40. Gabriel's 12-match losing streak is over and Cesaro's six-match winning streak is over. It looks like they'll announce Cesaro vs. Gabriel for the PPV, but that remains to be seen.

Parking Garage: A limo was shown pulling up outside. Out came Vince McMahon looking serious. McMahon then reached out his hand to yank A.J. Lee out of the vehicle. Cole wondered aloud what's going on as A.J. dejectedly started walking toward the arena with McMahon.

[Commercial Break]

Raw GM Change

Back live four minutes before the top of the hour, Vince McMahon's music was playing. Already in the ring were McMahon and a sad-looking A.J. Lee. McMahon noted that A.J. met with the Board of Directors for several hours earlier today and the subject of the meeting was A.J.'s tenure as Raw GM. McMahon handed over the mic to A.J. to discuss the conclusion of the meeting. A.J. tried to hold back tears as she noted that she is hereby resigning as GM of Raw because of allegations over a relationship with a Superstar on the roster.

A.J. paused to let the crowd react with a mix of noise. A.J. continued that these allegations are completely false. She said she understands that she could have been fired a long time ago, could have been fired when she attacked Vickie or Paul Heyman, or for the decisions she made that could be deemed unfair. So, when she was asked to resign, she agreed. A.J. said some of her decisions may have been unorthodox and some people may consider her mentally unstable, but she just thinks some people like a crazy chick, which drew cheers. "Yes!" chants followed.

A.J. said she knows this is coming to an end sooner than she would like it to, then noted she grew up 15 minutes from here. A.J. said she grew up with nothing, lived in cars, lived in motels, and went from homeless to being the boss. A.J. said she thought she was always going to be a little poor girl, but the crowd accepted her.

[Q5 -- second hour] A.J. continued by thanking the crowd for supporting her, because she loved every second of this job. A.J. then looked at McMahon and thanked him for giving her a shot that no one else would have. A.J. thanked the crowd, fought back tears, mouthed, "I'm sorry" to McMahon, and they hugged. Paul Heyman suddenly emerged on-stage and mocked A.J.'s "touching life story." Heyman said it's a one in a billion chance of a homeless girl rising up to become GM of Raw. Heyman said A.J. rose above her lack of intelligence, education, class, and the fact that she was born and bred a Jersey girl.

Heyman said it's time to do business. He said there needs to be a new GM here on Raw. Heyman said McMahon knows just as well as he does that the Board has to sign off on a new GM as soon as possible. Heyman said this person should demonstrate class, dignity, and Ruthless Aggression. Heyman said he knows he and McMahon have butted heads and he admits to being wrong in the past and even recently, but he would like to submit his name to step in as the new Raw GM. Some of the vocal males applauded and cheered as McMahon cocked his head to contemplate this and listen to the crowd.

McMahon then walked over to Heyman, leaned in, and sternly stated, "No," which drew a smile from A.J. McMahon said this person is not the GM, not the interim GM, but the Managing Supervisor of Raw. McMahon unenthusiastically said this person is...Vickie Guerrero, which drew groans from Heyman, A.J., and the crowd.

Vickie walked to the ring, accepted the mic from McMahon, and tried to speak, but was drowned out by the crowd booing her. Vickie "humbly" thanked the Board for recognizing her as the choice. Heyman then excused himself to cheers and noted that since she is in a position of power, he would like to offer his vote of confidence. Heyman continued to butter up Vickie before telling Vickie to correct McMahon's wrong by forcing Punk into a Hell in a Cell match against Ryback. Heyman said Ryback is not just a challenger, but a punk-eating carnivore. Vickie interrupted and said that since she is in charge, Heyman's client, Punk, will face Ryback at Hell in a Cell. "That's a horrible decision!" Heyman blurted out. Vickie laughed and said she has more decisions to make. She said she will make this show better than what A.J. did and what Booker T is doing on Smackdown. She booked a now-played-out Champion vs. Champion match of Sheamus vs. Punk tonight. Vickie then changed it to the largest lumberjack match in the history of Raw tonight. Heyman had enough and bailed from the ring. Heyman ranted and raved about the match as he left the ring.

Back in the ring, Vickie turned her attention to A.J., who was still standing in the ring. Vickie said she knew all along that A.J. wasn't right for this role. Vickie said she is mature, wise, and has experience to run Raw, unlike A.J. She said that is why the Board believed in her to be the soon-to-be-General Manager. She then introduced the allegations against A.J. Vickie accused A.J. of having an affair, and said she disgusts her. Vickie told A.J. to go backstage, pack her Barbies and little dolls, and get out of her ring. "You need to leave," Vickie told her.

A.J. started to leave, but stopped in her tracks. A.J. turned around and tackled Vickie, as Cole noted A.J. has nothing to lose now. A.J. and Vickie scrapped in the ring, then Vickie made it out of the ring as refs hit the scene a little too late. Vickie screamed from ringside that she's going to get A.J., who suddenly turned crazy in the ring. A.J. then left the ring and crazily looked around the arena before skipping down the rampway to the top of the ramp.

Up Next: Ryback vs. Miz.

[Commercial Break]

[Q6] Back live, Ryback's music played to bring out the #1 contender to the WWE Title. After Ryback fired up the crowd, The Miz's music played to bring out Ryback's dinner tonight. Miz slowly walked out on-stage and looked around before slowly walking half-way down the ramp. Miz paused and put his hands on his hips before reluctantly continuing his walk to the ring. Miz finally hit the ring apron and demanded referee Scott Armstrong hold back Ryback. But, Ryback yanked Miz into the ring, not wanting to wait any longer. Ref Armstrong then held back Ryback and - since this is not TNA - allowed Miz a chance for a fair start before calling for the bell.

4 -- RYBACK vs. THE MIZ

Loud "Goldberg" chants early on. Ryback quickly knocked Miz to the outside, where Miz tried to play cat and mouse. It was unsuccessful, and the match returned to the ring, where Ryback kicked Miz in the gut to deck him. Ryback then ran over Miz with a brick-wall-like splash. Miz tried another method by climbing to the top rope, but Ryback intercepted with a bodyslam.

Ryback then measured Miz for a giant clothesline and connected. Ryback shook the ropes, then scooped up Miz for Shell Shock. Ryback marched around the ring, then delivered his finisher for the pin and the win. Cole noted Miz is rolling heading into Hell in a Cell. Ross said this was total destruction, then wondered aloud how Punk will survive at Hell in a Cell.

WINNER: Ryback at 2:32. Does Punk survive against Ryback by having Brock Lesnar return to pick a fight with Ryback and cause a non-finish? Just a thought.

Video package: Eve, David Otunga, Brodus Clay, Santino, and Stephanie McMahon at a recent B.A. Star Rally.

Still to come tonight: Punk vs. Sheamus in the advertised "largest lumberjack match in WWE history."

[Commercial Break]

Backstage: Eve was on the phone talking to someone about who A.J. Lee might be having an affair with. Eve speculated on Zack Ryder or Primo as Kaitlyn approached her from behind. Kaitlyn waited out Eve's phone call, then brought up who attacked her at Night of Champions. Eve tried to brush it off, but Kaitlyn pulled up the evidence from Eve's iPad on her phone and showed it to Eve, who tried to snatch Kaitlyn's phone away. Eve complained about Kaitlyn going through her iPad, then tried to walk off to complain to Booker T, but Kaitlyn told Eve to drop the nice-girl act. Eve removed her glasses, turned around, and smacked Kaitlyn, who fought back by smashing Eve into a catering table. Layla tried to jump in to help, but Eve shoved her, so Layla attacked Eve, letting out months of frustration. Refs finally hit the scene to break up the second catfight of the evening.

[Q7] Backstage: Josh Mathews created an instant "Are You Serious?" moment by playing with a Sheamus brawling buddy before bringing in Sheamus to demonstrate the toy. Mathews and Sheamus then tried to discuss his lumberjack match against Punk tonight, but Big Show interrupted and punched out Sheamus's doll. Show told Sheamus to get real serious real quick before Hell in a Cell. Show told him that he will knock Sheamus out and take that World Title belt. Show left and Sheamus maintained a stern look.

In-ring: Daniel Bryan came out to the ring and ripped up a fan's sign. He also refused to be entertained by a goatface Halloween mask ringside. Bryan eventually entered the ring and screamed at the fans before Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back live, Dolph Ziggler was entering the ring as his music played. Cole noted that Vickie Guerrero is not with Dolph tonight, leading to Ross wondering if it would be a conflict of interest for Dolph and Vickie to associate now.

5 -- WWE tag champion DANIEL BRYAN vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER

Bryan started with offense and maintained control as Ziggler sold that he was not engaged in the match. Ziggler then landed a punch to the gut as Cole plugged Ryback vs. Ziggler this Wednesday on "Main Event." Ziggler followed with a neckbreaker, then tried a leapfrog, but Bryan caught Ziggler's foot and proceeded to place him in a surfboard stretch. Bryan then went to work on Ziggler's knee before applying a figure-four leglock to Whoos! from the crowd. This prompted Ross and Cole to talk in circles about Ric Flair, but they did not mention him by name.

Ziggler suddenly dropped Bryan clear over the top rope to the floor and Bryan sold a left knee injury. Kane's pyro then shot off as a ref checked on Bryan, who clutched his knee. Kane marched down to ringside for a closer look at his tag partner's match as Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

[Q8] Back live, Ziggler was in control of the action mid-ring. Cole pointed out Kane ringside watching the action before plugging WWE's history of running events in this building. Bryan then broke free from Ziggler and destroyed Ziggler in the corner with a running dropkick. As Bryan followed with No! kicks, Cole shouted out to Jerry Lawler still recovering at home from last month's heart attack. Ziggler and Bryan engaged in a rapid-fire counter/reversal exchange before Ziggler caught Bryan with a DDT to counter a spear for a two count.

At 10:50, Cole reset by reading off a tweet from Vickie Guerrero that she has a surprise for Kane and Bryan. Cole then read a tweet from Booker T that he was surprised by A.J.'s resignation tonight. Suddenly, Ziggler went flying into the corner ringpost attempting a corner splash. Ziggler ended up flying to the outside and clutched his left knee. Bryan then re-grouped in the ring and delivered a flying suicide dive to Ziggler, causing both men to crash into the guardrail.

At 12:00, Bryan slowly rolled Ziggler back into the ring. Bryan then tried a top-rope move, but Ziggler sprung to his feet and delivered a top-rope facebuster. Ziggler was slow to cover, allowing Bryan to kick out of a pin attempt. Both men then slowly reached their feet and Bryan delivered a big No! kick to Ziggler's head. Kane led cheers for Kane, but Bryan shouted him down that he didn't want his help. Suddenly, Ziggler grappled Bryan from behind for a Zig-Zag. Ziggler covered Bryan for the win.

WINNER: Ziggler at 14:01. Excellent TV match. One of those matches where it felt like it could have kept going another 10-15 minutes and not over-stayed its welcome. The only problem is Bryan's character continues to be ambiguous on whether fans should cheer him, boo him, laugh at him, or ignore him, which makes for a tough situation when he's opposite a heel like Ziggler. The crowd was quiet early, but two pros got the crowd involved, overcoming the ambiguity.

Post-match: Kane, with hands on hips, circled the ring selling frustration before stepping onto the top ring step. Meanwhile, Ziggler celebrated his victory in the ring while selling the effects of the match. The announcers speculated on whether Ziggler will cash in his MITB briefcase on Sunday as Kane slowly entered the ring to try talking to Bryan, who wanted nothing to do with Kane. The fans chanted, "Hug it out," before Bryan stood up and shoved Kane. Suddenly, Matt Striker emerged on-stage and tried to interrupt, but they ignored him. Striker finally shouted at them before noting Vickie sent him out here to surprise them. He said Vickie has booked them in a Therapeutic Game Show. Striker said this is called the Newly-Tagged Game and he has to be the host. Striker slowly entered the ring and said their opponents for said game show are Rhodes Scholars. And, it's next.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Cole fed to a video replay from earlier tonight when A.J. Lee resigned from her GM position over allegations of fraternizing with a WWE Superstar. WWE then cut to Vince McMahon introducing Vickie Guerrero as "supervising manager" of Raw. This eventually led to A.J. tackling Vickie and a "huge fight" ensuing, according to Cole.

[Q9 -- third hour] Back live in the ring at the top of the hour, Matt Striker forced enthusiasm to introduce the game show. This is unfortunately the product of a three-hour Raw. Striker introduced the first contestants, Bryan and Kane, before asking them to tell the fans about themselves. Bryan started by noting he is a former World champ, is the world's toughest vegans, and is the tag team champions. Kane spoke next that he's a Scorpio, he enjoys long walks on the beach, rainbows, and puppies. "Seriously?" Striker asked. "Hell no!" Kane shouted at Striker. Kane and Bryan then shouted over each other before Cody Rhodes's music interrupted.

On-stage, Damien Sandow said they will not be participating in this foolishness. Cody Rhodes echoed Damien, dryly saying, "What he said." Cody continued that Bryan and Kane will get to know them when they beat them for the Tag Titles on Sunday. Sandow concluded, "You're welcome," as Bryan shot them a look of disdain in the ring. Sandow and Rhodes left, then Kane noted to Striker that his game show is a total bust. Striker tried to drum up crowd interest by noting the winners as a result of a forfeit are Bryan and Kane. Bryan flipped out, shouting, "Yes!" over and over before declaring himself the winner. Kane then stood up and grabbed a chair, scaring Striker out of the ring.

Half-way up the ramp, Striker smiled and turned around to look back into the ring. Striker said he doesn't wish them good luck on Sunday. Nope, not at all. Suddenly, Big Show appeared on-stage and stood behind Striker. Show chucked Striker across the stage, then slowly marched toward the ring to face Kane. In the ring, Bryan smiled and laughed at Kane having to face Big Show up next.

[Commercial Break]

6 -- WWE tag champion KANE (w/Daniel Bryan) vs. BIG SHOW

Back live, the match was joined in-progress with Big Show in control. Show had Kane in the corner and proceeded to taunt some ringside fans to sit down and shut up. "You want some, too?" Show asked a fan before Kane ducked a big corner blow. Kane then bounced the ropes, but ran right into a spear from Big Show. Show continued the assault before Bryan tried to start a slow clap to encourage Kane. But, Show was having nothing to do with that and delivered a punch to Kane's gut into an elbow drop for a two count.

Show followed with a big bearhug to slow things down, then Bryan tried to start another slow clap to encourage Kane. Kane suddenly tried to lift Show into the air for a bodyslam, but Show easily fell on top of a weakened Kane for a nearfall. The NFL game hit Halftime at this point. Cole reset the show moments after the game went to half, then Kane teased a comeback. Kane came off the top with a clothesline, but Show escaped a pin attempt. Suddenly, Rhodes Scholars came out on-stage for a closer look at the action. This drew Kane over to the ropes for a closer look. Kane then turned around and Big Show blasted him with a KO Punch for the win.

WINNER: Show at 5:35.

Post-match: Rhodes Scholars hit ringside and attacked Bryan. They beat Bryan into the ring and KO'ed Bryan to join Kane in a rough state. Cole wondered aloud if there will be new tag champions on Sunday.

[Q10] Backstage: A.J. Lee was standing next to Santino, who said he thought A.J. did a "very good jobs" as GM. John Cena then walked up to A.J. and offered his services to her as a friend with a shoulder to cry on. A.J. thanked him, then said there are probably reasons why she should have been fired before, but allegations of an affair is not one of those reasons. Cena told A.J. that they can go in the locker room and find the guy, make it right, and get A.J. her job back. A.J. cut him off and said they think it was Cena. Cena, shocked, said they just had a business dinner together and nothing more. A.J. said that's why she didn't want to fight the Board because she didn't want to drag Cena's name into this. A.J. speculated that Vickie had something to do with this, then Cena hugged A.J. and said he will take care of this.

[Commercial Break]

Backstage: John Cena caught up with Vince McMahon prior to leaving for the night. Cena said Vickie came up with some bogus story about him and A.J. from Vickie, and let the Board go through with this? McMahon said this is not the time, then said there was some incriminating evidence. Cena said a business dinner is incriminating evidence? McMahon said if it wasn't this, then it would have been something else with A.J. McMahon quietly continued that he doesn't even know what Vickie's position is, really, but it is what it is. McMahon hopped into his limo and it drove off, leaving Cena in a state of boiling frustration.

Back in the arena, Alberto Del Rio was on his way to the ring for singles action. Already in the ring was Zack Ryder to take a beating near his home market.

7 -- ALBERTO DEL RIO vs. ZACK RYDER

Ross and Cole focused on the Del Rio vs. Orton feud ahead of Hell in a Cell as the crowd tried to get a Ryder chant going, but it quickly lost steam. Ross then complained about wrestlers complaining about their "spot" before the announcers mocked Ryder's Internet Champion gimmick. Del Rio continued to assault Ryder, who then moved out of the way of a corner attack. Ryder delivered double-knees to the face, then measured Del Rio for a Broski Boot, but Del Rio moved and caught his leg in the ropes.

Del Rio immediately capitalized with kicks to the arm before slapping on the Cross Arm-breaker. Ryder tapped quickly, but Del Rio kept the hold applied a few extra seconds to send a message to Orton on Sunday. Ross noted Del Rio didn't tout, tweet, or call WWE.com, but sent a message in the ring. Del Rio then vowed to cut off the snake's head on Sunday before slapping on the cross arm-breaker on Ryder once again. Del Rio maintained the hold for a while as Ricardo Rodriguez proclaimed Del Rio's name over and over. Del Rio eventually dropped the hold and Ross called that uncalled for. Del Rio ended his night by mockingly posing like Orton.

WINNER: Del Rio via submission at 2:46.

Backstage: John Cena barged into Vickie Guerrero's temporary office, which drew Vickie's ire. Vickie cut off Cena before he could speak and reminded him of her position. Vickie told Cena not to give her attitude over his little girlfriend, A.J., who couldn't separate business from pleasure. Cena said it was a business dinner, nothing more, and Vickie cost A.J. her job. Vickie said Cena asked A.J. out for dinner, they had dinner, and he cost A.J. her job. Cena, tired of dealing with this, simply walked off. Vickie smiled as Cena left.

[Q11] Up next: Sheamus vs. Punk in a super-lumberjack match.

[Commercial Break]

Backstage: Josh Mathews brought in Dolph Ziggler for comments on his victory over Daniel Bryan earlier tonight. Ziggler changed the subject to A.J., noting you can't put your hands on people like Vickie Guerrero. Ziggler said there must be consequences, but at the end of the day, there's really just one person to blame for all this... John Cena. Ziggler said he hopes Cena is happy with himself, then said you would think A.J. had better taste.

On-camera, Ross said this Cena conspiracy theory doesn't hold much water to him. Cole changed the subject to Hell in a Cell and fed to a video package on Ryback's path of destruction leading to his WWE Title shot against Punk on Sunday. Hey look, there's Tyler Reks. And, C.M. Punk last week on Raw.

Backstage: Punk and Heyman were shown watching the video package. Punk said this is the type of disrespect he's been talking about for months. He said they're six days away from HIAC, but he's been thrown in a lumberjack match. Punk noted he's already missing A.J. Lee. Heyman told Punk not to think about A.J., but think about next Monday on Raw when he is still the reigning and defending WWE champion. He said Punk will also be the Best in the World. Heyman patted Punk on the shoulder as Punk nodded along, still seething about tonight's main event.

In-ring: Back live, the Raw theme music played to bring out most of the roster to serve as lumberjacks. Big Show brought up the rear with his head covered by a hoodie, just like on Smackdown during the lumberjack main event.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, C.M. Punk was on-stage playing to the crowd as Paul Heyman stood behind him providing the time for Punk to check. Punk and Heyman then slowly marched to the ring as Justin Roberts introduced this as a claimed "largest lumberjack match in Raw history." Punk slowly made his way to the ring as Ross noted Punk will be surrounded by the Hell in a Cell rather than lumberjacks this Sunday at the PPV. Sheamus's music then played to a tepid reaction to bring out the World champ. As Sheamus hit the ring, Cole plugged an endorsement from Stone Cold Steve Austin to Sheamus via Twitter over the weekend, then Ross talked about it being a big weekend for the Irish (Sheamus vs. Show at Hell in a Cell on Sunday and Notre Dame at Ross's Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday).

[Q12]

8 -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK (w/Paul Heyman) vs. World Hvt. champion SHEAMUS -- non-title Champion vs. Champion lumberjack match

Punk and Sheamus felt each other out early on as the lumberjacks watched from ringside. Punk then dumped Sheamus at the feet of the heel jacks, who slowly backed up. Sheamus re-entered the ring, then dumped Punk to the same side of the ring. Punk stuck out his chest, daring the heel jacks to go after him, so they did just that by chucking him back into the ring. Ross said Punk was not shown much respect there.

Moments later, Sheamus dumped Punk over the top rope on the other side of the ring in front of the announcers. The jacks on that side chucked Punk back into the ring, where Sheamus continued the assault. Punk made a comeback, though, and dumped Sheamus to the outside at the feet of the heel jacks. This time, the heel jacks assaulted Sheamus before rolling him back into the ring, where Punk scored a two count leading to break.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, the main event was still in-progress seven minutes before the top of the hour with Punk in control. Ringside, Big Show was in a jolly mood watching Sheamus take a beating prior to their World Title match on Sunday. Suddenly, Show interjected himself into the broadcast by slapping the announce table when he overhead Cole mentioning Show's 45-second title run last year. Sheamus was then assaulted by the heels jacks again, which brought the face jacks over to help Sheamus make his way back into the ring.

Back in the ring at 10:00, Punk delivered a double axehandle smash to Sheamus. Punk followed with a forearm shot to the face, then landed kicks to the gut to keep wearing down Sheamus. Punk again climbed to the top turnbuckle looking for a big move, played to the crowd, stepped down off the top, and delivered an elbow to the chest, which drew a smile from Show. Punk mockingly applauded himself, then re-applied a mathold to continue wearing down Sheamus.

Sheamus suddenly made a comeback at 13:00 with sledgehammer smashes, followed by Ten Punches against the ropes. Cole reset the show two minutes before the top of the hour as Punk and Punk went into a counter/reversal exchange. Punk delivered a knee in the corner, which gave a returning Mason Ryan some quality TV time in the background. Punk then climbed up-top for another move, but Sheamus cut him off. Sheamus then executed a superplex that rocked both men.

[Q13 -- over-run] Sheamus covered Punk, but the WWE Champ kicked out just in-time. Sheamus tried to follow with the Irish Curse, but Punk blocked. More counters/reversals before Punk hooked the tights on a roll-up for a two count. Punk then climbed up-top again and wanted the Macho Man elbow drop, but Sheamus moved out of the way. Sheamus followed right up with the Irish Curse backbreaker for a two count only. Sheamus tried to follow with the Texas Cloverleaf, but Punk blocked and pulled down the top rope to send Sheamus to the feet of the heel jacks. Sheamus fought them off, then re-entered the ring and went right into White Noise.

Sheamus came to his feet at 17:45 as the crowd chanted for the Brogue Kick. Suddenly, Antonio Cesaro hit the ring, so Sheamus gave him the Brogue Kick. Jinder Mahal also took the Brogue Kick. He tried to hit Punk with the Brogue Kick, but Punk ducked. Sheamus then found himself staring at Big Show, who hopped on the ring apron during the chaos. Show proceeded to one-hand chokeslam Sheamus, then dropped off the ring apron and smiled to himself. Punk then covered Sheamus for the win.

WINNER: Punk at 18:12.

Post-match: Ryback's music played instead of Punk's, causing Punk to freak out. Ryback marched to the ring and Punk tried to run away, but the face jacks threw Punk back into the ring, where Ryback offered a feat of strength. Punk tried to leave again, but the face jacks rolled him back into the ring, where Ryback delivered a monster powerbomb. Punk left again, but they threw him back into the ring. Ryback then lifted up Punk and chucked him over the top rope into the arms of the heel jacks.

After taking punishment from Ryback, Punk rolled away down the entrance ramp and tried to collect himself as Heyman checked on his client. In the ring, Ryback shook and shook, wanting to be fed more Punk. Cole and Ross gave a final hard sell for Hell in a Cell on Sunday, with Cole having the last word five minutes past the top of the hour. So, no YouTube pre-show?

FINAL THOUGHTS: WWE did the best they could to make people believe there will be a title change or at least a long night at the office for Punk on Sunday. I'm intrigued to see how the all-out hype machine effort behind Ryback translates to PPV business on Sunday.

Alerts: Follow PWTorch staffer's live, real-time tweets during Raw at Twitter.com/PWTorch/torch-staff .

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 .


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