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WWE Raw Report
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 1/7: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - WWE Title match, The Rock returns, Cena vs. Ziggler (updated w/Box Score)

Jan 7, 2013 - 11:15:25 PM
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1/7 WWE Raw Box Score

- Title Implications: WWE champion C.M. Punk beat Ryback in a TLC match to retain the WWE Title. ... Eve Torres retained the Divas Title via count-out loss to Kaitlyn.

- Match Times: 64:14 total wrestling; 7:08 average per match. (Longest - 18:52 for Punk vs. Ryback, 17:03 for Cena vs. Ziggler.)

- TV/PPV Streaks (carried over from 2012): Slater - 8 match losing streak, Sheamus - 7 match winning streak, Jinder Mahal - 7 match losing streak, Cena - 6 match winning streak, Kaitlyn - 6 match winning streak, Orton - 5 match winning streak.

***

WWE Raw TV Results
January 7, 2013 - Episode #1,023
Live in Tampa, Fla.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


The first Raw of 2013 opened with a video packaging previewing The Rock returning tonight to scout his WWE Title opponent at the Royal Rumble, which will be decided when C.M. Punk defends the WWE Title against Ryback in a TLC match tonight on Raw.

Live inside the arena, Michael Cole introduced the show before John Cena's music played to kick things off. Cena entered the ring as WWE replayed the end of 2012 when Cena dumped "poop" on Dolph Ziggler and A.J. Lee to close last week's Raw. After the quick re-visit of last week, Cena previewed tonight's big title match of Punk vs. Ryback. He said things are certainly electric. Like you can feel the boots wanting to be put to asses. Cena said the captain of Team Bring-It is here. "Tonight, we welcome back The Rock!" Cena shouted to cheers.

Cena said this means they are on the Road to WrestleMania, and the first stop is the Royal Rumble. Cena noted he is entering the Rumble. Suddenly, Dolph Ziggler's music interrupted. Ziggler, A.J. Lee, and Big E. Langston paused on-stage before Dolph's music played. Dolph said the audience might have come for Cena or Rock, but they will remember Dolph Ziggler. A.J. then asked if this makes Cena feel better and sleep at night. She asked if lying to her was enough. A.J. said she can't believe she chose to lose her...job...to someone like Cena. A.J. called him a pathetic, small man. "A very small man, John," she added.

Cena comically asked, "I'm a small man?" He said A.J.'s sweet, little, innocent self just made her "first sixth-grade wiener joke." Cena said this deserves a wave. Like a drunk fan in the sixth inning, Cena led the crowd in a wave to celebrate the wiener joke. Cena said the rules of wiener jokes is one good joke begats another. "There once was a man from Nantucket," Cena began before Ziggler interrupted. Ziggler, with new blonde hair, said every time Cena loses to someone, he just laughs it off. Ziggler told Cena that he is also entering the Rumble and he will make sure Cena does not win.

Cena said 2013 is looking up for him, and speaking of that, look up! Cena said they would have to be crazy to think he would dump poop on them twice. Well, actually, A.J. is crazy, so maybe she's rubbing off on A.J. and Big E. Cena opted not to continue with another "wiener joke" after saying "rub off." Cena told them to come fight in the ring. Big E. then took the mic and spoke for the first time. He said Dolph is not Cena's only problem, as it's onnnnn. (After sounding confident with Sentence #1, his tone and inflection was very jarring in Sentence #2.) Dolph and A.J. quizzed Big E. on what he was thinking, then argued about Dolph not thinking he was wrestling tonight. Suddenly, Dolph's music played again as Cena bounced around in the ring. Cole said it appears this is on - Cena vs. Ziggler, next.

[Commercial Break]

1 -- JOHN CENA vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Big E. Langston & A.J. Lee)

Back from break, the bell sounded to make this match official, which Cole said was confirmed by authority figure Vickie Guerrero during the break. Cole also relayed that Dolph was not happy with Big E., since their instructions to Big E. were not to talk.

[Q2] In the ring, Cena controlled the action as the announcers stressed Cena needing to win the Rumble this year. Cena executed a delayed vertical suplex, but Ziggler came back with a knee to the gut. As Ziggler wore down Cena, the announcers plugged Ziggler vs. Sheamus on Wednesday's "Main Event" show. Cena tried to mount a comeback, but Big E. popped him in the face from the ring apron behind the ref's back. Ziggler covered Cena, but Cena escaped a pin leading to break.

[Commercial Break. Coming back from break, a local WWE TV spot advertised The Rock returning to Houston for the first time in 10 years next Monday on Raw. The local ad shifted from "20th Anniversary of Raw" hype to The Rock returning after his late addition to the TV taping.]

Back from break, Ziggler was still in control. Ziggler dropped seven consecutive elbow drops to the chest before choking Cena in the ropes. A.J. then slapped Cena behind the ref's back. Ref Scott Armstrong didn't see it, but he could tell something happened, so he booted Big E. and A.J. from ringside. Ziggler, flustered, turned around and ate the shoulder tackle. Sit-out slam, but Ziggler smashed Cena in the face before he could drop the Shuffle. Ziggler hit the Fameasser, but Cena kicked out.

At 12:00, Ziggler stalked Cena, but Cena ducked a follow-up blow and did the finishing routine. But, Ziggler ducked the Attitude Adjustment and nailed the Zig-Zag for a close two count that popped the crowd when Cena kicked out. The two men regrouped in opposite corners, then Ziggler missed with a superkick. Cena then tried an STF, but Ziggler blocked and followed with an elevated DDT for another two count.

Cena and Ziggler reset again before Ziggler climbed to the top rope. The crowd screamed, trying to warn Cena, who caught Ziggler in mid-air, rolled through, and hoisted ZIggler onto his shoulders for an AA, but Ziggler landed on his feet and nailed a superkick. But, Cena kicked out again. Cole said Cena wants it in 2013, and so does Ziggler here. Ziggler and Cena then traded blows from a standing position. Ziggler ducked a decisive blow and hopped on Cena for a sleeperhold. Cena started to fade, but the crowd rallied behind him. Cena then lifted Ziggler into the air, knocking down the ref.

[Q3] Cena, now without one shoe, slapped on the STF, but there was no ref. Big E. Langston then stormed the ring and attacked Cena before delivering his lift-up slam finisher for the third time. Big E. promptly left the ring after draping Ziggler's arm over Cena's chest, then a second referee stormed the ring. However, Cena kicked out of that pin attempt, too. After the pro-Cena crowd exploded for the fourth close-call of the match, Cena recovered, then grappled Ziggler and nailed the AA. Cena covered Ziggler and it was good for the win.

WINNER: Cena at 17:03. Hot match to start the 2013 in-ring action. Cena's victory will draw some eye-rolling reactions, but it's clear WWE is going strong with John Cena in 2013, especially leading to Mania. (***1/4)

Still to come: Punk vs. Ryback for the WWE Title, plus The Rock is back live.

In-ring: No break in the action, as Eve Torres's music suddenly played to bring out the Divas champion for an unadvertised Divas Title match. WWE is working hard to keep viewers locked into Raw and not flipping over to the BCS Title game.

[Commercial Break]

2 -- Divas champion EVE TORRES vs. KAITLYN -- Divas Title match

Back from break, Kaitlyn's music was playing to signal Eve's title match opponent. As the bell sounded, the announcers discussed Rock returning tonight and C.M. Punk cleared to return to in-ring action defending the WWE Title against Ryback. Kaitlyn was the aggressor early on, drawing the ref's ire when she wouldn't break a corner attack. Eve then tried to run away twice, before finally just grabbing her title belt and hopping the guardrail. Eve took off into the crowd, then headed through the production area. Kaitlyn opted to re-enter and get a count-out victory to salvage the match as the ref reached a ten-count.

WINNER: Kaitlyn via count-out at 4:40; Eve retained the Divas Title. It's gotta be time for a cage match to keep Eve inside the ring.

Up Next: Daniel Bryan & Kane vs. Rhodes Scholars in tag action, but the Tag Titles are not on the line.

[Q4] [Commercial Break]

Next Week: Raw celebrates 20 years.

Back live, Cole reset the show and noted the two big items of The Rock back live and Punk vs. Ryback for the WWE Title.

Locker Room: Santino was shown talking to no one in particular. Santino hyped this person's match at WrestleMania III against Randy Savage, which gave away Ricky Steamboat. Santino and Steamboat exchanged kind words, then new IC champion Wade Barrett interrupted and said Ricky is no longer a fire-breathing dragon, but an old man blowing smoke. Barrett left, then Ricky proposed an idea to Santino: he will be in Santino's corner tonight against Barrett. Ricky said Wade will find out how just how much smoke this old man can blow.

Backstage: Randy Orton was shown on-camera, popping the live crowd. Orton talked about his Royal Rumble chances, but 3MB interrupted. Heath Slater noted all three of them have entered the Royal Rumble, and one of them is going to main-event WrestleMania. Orton ignored them and asked which one is going to face him tonight. Slater offered Orton any of the three, but Orton selected Slater. He said Slater won't be playing the air-guitar anymore, but the harp. Slater slowly removed his glasses, wondering what he meant.

In-ring: Kane's pyro shot off to bring out one-half of the tag champions. As Kane came out, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler talked on-camera about the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame induction taking place at Madison Square Garden. After Kane entered the ring, Daniel Bryan joined Kane in the ring as Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

3 -- WWE tag champions DANIEL BRYAN & KANE vs. DAMIEN SANDOW & CODY RHODES

Rhodes Scholars made their ring entrance during the break, prompting the bell to sound to begin the match. Plenty of mustache (Rhodes) and goat-face (D-Bryan) jokes from the announcers during the first portion of the match.

[Q5 -- second hour] At the top of the hour, Sandow took control of the action on Bryan. Rhodes then tagged in and shouted down at Bryan about having a goat-face. Bryan tried to fight back against Sandow and finally tagged in Kane, who slingshot Sandow before nearly tripping on the top rope. Kane regrouped after nearly tripping a second time, then splashed Sandow. The action broke down before Kane covered Sandow for a nearfall. Kane then wanted a chokeslam, but Sandow bailed to the floor. Bryan then tagged in and ran off the ring apron with a big knee to Sandow's face. Back in the ring, Bryan No! Kicked Sandow in the face.

Suddenly, Bryan clutched his right knee after landing on his feet attempting a back-flip from the top rope. The heels went to work on Bryan's right knee, targeting the injury. Kane had enough and ran around the ring to attack Sandow. In the confusion, Bryan tried a small-package on Rhodes, but Rhodes kicked out. Rhodes then dropped Bryan with Cross Rhodes for the pin and the win. Afterward, Kane checked on Bryan as Rhodes Scholars celebrated ringside.

WINNERS: Rhodes Scholars at 7:12. Interesting development with Bryan introducing a knee injury into the equation. Will this be the "out" to give Rhodes Scholars an eventual Tag Title win?

Earlier Tonight: John Cena beat Dolph Ziggler despite interference from Big E. and A.J. Lee.

Backstage: Randy Orton was shown walking down the hallway. He faces Heath Slater next.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, 3MB was "mid-concert" in the ring. Randy Orton's music interrupted and Orton marched out to the ring as Cole noted Orton is looking to re-assert himself as the top dog in WWE at the Royal Rumble. As Orton completed his ring entrance, Cole plugged the Rumble Fanfest happening in Phoenix this year. Included will be a tournament to determine a Rumble match entrant.

4 -- RANDY ORTON vs. HEATH SLATER (w/3MB)

Orton went to work on Slater early on. Orton then found himself on the outside, where 3MB used distraction techniques to knock down Orton. Back in the ring, Slater worked on Orton as Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre taunted him from the outside. Slater nailed a neckbreaker in the corner, which drew a close two count. Slater got cocky and tried a top-rope move, but Orton blocked and nailed a superplex.

[Q6] Orton made his full comeback with a powerslam and clotheslines. Mac then tried to run interference, but Orton flung him away. Orton then dropped Slater with a DDT from the second rope. He followed by setting up for and connecting with an RKO. Orton covered Slater for the win. Post-match: Jinder and McIntyre tried to enter the ring for a sneak attack, but they took RKOs, too. Orton posed again for a fired-up crowd as the announcers stressed that Orton is on his way to the Rumble with momentum.

WINNER: Orton at 4:27.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back from break, Santino was on his way to the ring with Ricky Steamboat. Already in the ring was IC champion Wade Barrett, who received the jobber entrance for this match. Cole said Wade believes that now that he has the IC Title, it means something again. But, apparently not enough to get a ring entrance.

5 -- IC champion WADE BARRETT vs. SANTINO (w/Ricky Steamboat) -- non-title match

Santino caught Barrett with a surprise standing kick early on, drawing a close nearfall that popped Cole on commentary. Santino then went into his trunks to retrieve the Cobra sock puppet, and Barrett bailed from the ring, scared of the sock puppet. Barrett then thumbed Santino in the eye from the outside before re-entering the ring to deliver the Bullhammer for the pin and the win. Cole called it a "big win" for Barrett.

WINNER: Barrett at 2:23. Not exactly a strong endorsement of Barrett as new IC champion.

Post-match: Ricky Steamboat entered the ring to check on Santino, then Barrett teased doing something, but Ricky removed his suit jacket. Barrett smiled and bailed from the ring, allowing Ricky to continue checking on Santino.

Backstage: Matt Striker brought in Sheamus. Striker asked Sheamus if he can win the Rumble and World Title again at WrestleMania. Sheamus said probably not, at least not in 18 seconds. 3MB then walked in and Sheamus ran them down. Slater took offense to Sheamus's claim that Orton beat his ass, then Sheamus said he has the Luck of the Irish with him tonight. That doesn't count for much so far tonight. Sheamus suggested they the ring and song a little before he delivers a Brogue Kick to someone. 3MB wasn't exactly excited about this prospect.

Still to come: Punk vs. Ryback for the WWE Title.

This is point in the show where WWE has lost all momentum from the first 30 minutes due to this three-hour format. They don't have enough interesting stories to tell to keep this show going for 180+ minutes.

[Q7] [Commercial Break]

And now for something different...a Swiss man was on his way to the ring waving a U.S. flag. Inside the ring were a 26-year-old leprechaun who was birthed by an 89-year-old woman last week, a giant from India, and Natalya. And, a former reality TV star was on commentary. Alphabet Soup specialist Charles Cress tweet: "Khali inner monologue - An elf and a fair-hair maiden have taken to following me. The lady sparkles. Perhaps I can barter her for a way home."

6 -- U.S. champion ANTONIO CESARO vs. GREAT KHALI (w/Hornswoggle and Natalya) -- non-title match

Khali chopped Cesaro early on before Cesaro took control. On commentary, The Miz did an annoying voice re-enactment of his father telling him he didn't have Internet back in the day, then followed Cena's lead doing a "weeny" joke. Miz continued to say he's unimpressed by Cesaro, then Cesaro slowly dead-lifted Khali into the air to deliver the Neutralizer. Cesaro pinned Khali for the win. Afterward, Miz said he was very impressed by how Cesaro won as Cesaro stared him down from inside the ring.

WINNER: Cesaro at 3:23. A repeat from "Main Event" last week. Or, as Greg Parks tweeted: "Figured the only reason this re-match happened was to give a wider audience a glimpse of Cesaro giving Khali his finisher."

Backstage: Paul Heyman was on the phone with someone, but Brad Maddox interrupted. Heyman repeated from last week that he does not want Maddox in his life. Maddox told Heyman that he can actually be of service to Paul and to C.M. Punk because he has his referee shirt tonight and he could tell Vickie to put him in the title match tonight. Heyman told Maddox that he doesn't want him to talk to Vickie Guerrero, he doesn't want him to referee the match, and he doesn't want him in his life. Heyman stomped off, leaving Maddox to figure out his next step.

In-ring: Sheamus made his way out to the ring for the next match.

[Commercial Break]

7 -- SHEAMUS vs. JINDER MAHAL (w/3MB)

Weren't they just going to have a sing-off and Brogue Kick? In any event, the bell sounded back from break and Jinder landed early offense. Sheamus then smacked Jinder on the back-side, drawing 3MB's ire. Jinder replied by punishing Sheamus's arse to return the favor.

[Q8] Sheamus, upset, slapped Jinder across the face a few times before delivering ten forearm strikes to the chest. Drew McIntyre then got himself ten forearms to the chest. Sheamus's fun and games were over when he found himself attacked by 3MB on the outside while the ref was distracted. Back in the ring, Jinder covered Sheamus for a two count.

Sheamus had enough of this and got serious by taking out Mac, then Slater with Brogue Kicks on the outside. Back in the ring, Sheamus grappled Mahal and dropped him with an emphatic White Noise slam. Sheamus then warmed up Brogue Kick #3 and connected center-ring. Pin and the win for Sheamus, giving the Irish something to cheer about tonight. After the match, Cole said Sheamus has to be one of the Rumble match favorites.

WINNER: Sheamus at 5:50.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler reset the show, then noted it's TLC for the WWE Title up next. As a result, Cole said The Rock will find out his Royal Rumble PPV title match opponent in the next match. Cole then fed to a video package documenting C.M. Punk's year-long journey for respect.

In-ring: After the video aired, WWE cut to a shot of the WWE Title belt hanging above the ring. WWE then showed all of the weapons lining the ringside area. Lawler stressed that the winner faces Rock at the Rumble. It's next.

[Commercial Break]

Ringside: ESPN MNF announcer Jon Gruden, who talked up tag wrestling during his New Year's Day college football game broadcast, was shown sitting ringside. Jerry Lawler said he hopes to convince him to coach the Cleveland Browns. Of note, NBC Sports picked up on Gruden attending Raw over watching ESPN's BCS Title game tonight. [ Story here ]

In-ring: WWE champion C.M. Punk was introduced first for the WWE Title match, which is right on-time with the BCS Title game hitting half-time. On the way to the ring, Punk kicked around tables, ladders, and chairs, showing that he's not a happy camper about this match.

[Q9 -- third hour] After a long pause, Ryback's music played to bring out the title match challenger. Ryback stomped out to the ring, surveyed the weapons available to him, checked out the title belt hanging above the ring, and continued pacing the ring. Before the bell sounded, the crowd picked up a brief "Feed Me More" chant.

8 -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK (w/Paul Heyman) vs. RYBACK -- WWE Title match -- TLC match

The match quickly moved to the outside, where Punk avoided a chair shot to his surgically-repaired knee. Punk then smashed Ryback into the guardrail, but Ryback chased Punk back into the ring. In the ring, Ryback held Punk in the air for a long, delayed vertical suplex as Heyman screamed and cried from ringside. Ryback then emphatically dropped Punk back-first onto a ladder, nearly popping the buttons on Heyman's three-piece suit ringside.

The match continued on the outside with Ryback re-arranging furniture. Ryback nearly dropped the ring steps onto Punk, but Punk dodged the steps and then ran off the steps into a thrust kick to Ryback's face. Punk maintained control with multiple chair shots to Ryback's body, then Punk stood tall as Raw cut to break at 5:10.

[Commercial Break. If this Jackson Hewitt commercial plays on every Raw until Tax Day in April, it's going to ruin Montell Jordan forever. In other commercial news, a local ad for Monster Jam at Reliant Stadium on Saturday aired, advertising the Iron Man and Madusa trucks.]

Back from break at 8:10, Cole declared that Ryback declared an electric chair to Punk inside the ring. Not a literal chair hooked up to electricity, but the wrestling move causing mass punishment to the upper shoulders and neck. Context was needed coming back from break. The match then moved to the outside, where Ryback tossed Punk across the announce table. Ryback then chucked the announce table lid onto Punk.

Back in the ring, Ryback sold a right knee injury, similar to Daniel Bryan a few matches earlier. Punk then targeted Ryback's knee to keep Ryback grounded on the mat. Punk missed with a second-rope attack, though, and he started selling a knee injury. Ryback then fired up, ignoring the effects from his knee injury. Ryback measured Punk for the Meathook Clothesline and connected. Ryback called for the end and wanted Shell Shock, but Punk escaped and scampered to the floor. On the outside, Ryback went for a desperation splash, but Punk moved and Ryback crashed into a wooden table.

[Q10] Back in the ring, Punk tried to climb a ladder to retrieve the WWE Title belt, but Ryback met him on the ladder. The two men traded blows before Ryback knocked down Punk. But, before Ryback could reach the title belt, Punk grabbed the ladder from the mat and tipped it over. Ryback landed on his feet, though, and press-slammed Punk into the ladder, bending one leg in-half.

At 14:30, Punk came back with a corner knee to the face that put Ryback on his seat. And, a second knee to the face. But, Ryback blocked the follow-up bulldog by chucking Punk clear over the top rope through a table on the floor. Cole nearly cursed on-air to sell the move. Ryback then went under the ring to grab a new ladder.

Ryback climbed, put his hand on the title belt, and the lights suddenly went out. When the lights came back on, The Shield was on the ladder. Ryback fought off Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, but Roman Reigns pulled him down. Ryback then cleared all three members and tried climbing the ladder again, but Shield grabbed him again. Cole said there's no way he's going to be convinced Punk and Shield have nothing to do with each other.

Ambrose and Rollins then dragged Ryback to the outside, where they placed Ryback on Reigns's shoulders to deliver a triple powerbomb through a wood table that was resting on ring steps. Ryback was KO'ed, but Punk was also KO'ed on the other side of the ring. Heyman implored Punk to get up and re-enter the ring as the crowd tried to help Ryback wake up. In the ring, Punk could barely stand up as he sold the effects of numerous injuries. With one arm, Punk slowly pulled himself up the ladder steps as Ryback writhed in pain on the outside. Punk then cockily reached the top rung of the ladder, smiled, clutched the title belt, looked down at Ryback, and unhooked the title belt. Punk retains.

WINNER: Punk at 18:52 to retain the WWE Title. Thrilling ladder match with a hot crowd that continued the Ryback vs. Shield feud and officially sets up Punk vs. Rock at the Rumble. It will be interesting to see whether the Ryback vs. Shield feud carries to WrestleMania in some sort of big blow-off match. (***)

Post-match: Paul Heyman sold with tears as he watched Punk celebrate on the ladder. After a replay of the events, Cole said he hopes Mr. McMahon ramps up the investigation of Punk and Shield's relationship. More tears from Heyman as Punk continued to celebrate. Cole then plugged The Rock commenting on matters later tonight when he returns to TV.

[Commercial Break]

Locker Room: Paul Heyman was shown excitedly talking to C.M. Punk as Punk recovered from his title victory. Matt Striker then walked in to interview Punk, but Punk cut him off and dismissed any notions of collusion with The Shield and Brad Maddox. Punk also had something for The Rock, saying he might just drop another pipebomb before Rock returns tonight.

Locker Room: Daniel Bryan was shown icing his knee. Kane asked Bryan how his knee feels, then Bryan complained about Kane not being there for him when he was hurt. They blamed each other for the loss, screaming at each other. Vickie Guerrero screamed and interrupted, then said she will have Dr. Shelby's four-month follow-up evaluation of their issues next week. After Vickie left, Kane said Dr. Shelby is a monster; Bryan said he's a nerd. "Monster!" "Nerd!" they shouted back and forth. So, Kane said Shelby is a nerd. Bryan, angered, said he's a monster. "Nerd!" "Monster!" they shouted back and forth before agreeing that he's a monster nerd.

[Q11] Announcers: Cole and Lawler plugged the 20th Anniversary of Raw next week, then went back to last week's show. Cole noted Big Show picked Ricardo Rodriguez as his World Title opponent last week, then Alberto Del Rio saved Ricardo from a WMD to end the match. This Friday on Smackdown, it's a smiling Del Rio vs. Show in a non-title match.

In-ring: Kofi Kingston's music played to bring out the former Intercontinental champion. Cole said Kofi faces Big Show next.

[Commercial Break]

9 -- World Hvt. champion BIG SHOW vs. KOFI KINGSTON -- non-title match

The bell sounded immediately back from break. Kofi then tried to corner Big Show, but the ref pulled Kofi away. As Kofi was being pulled away, Big Show KO Punched Kofi right in the face. As Kofi sold unconsciousness on the mat, Show rolled him over and pinned him for the win. Not quite 18 seconds, going 24 seconds. Show then promptly left the ring as the announcers noted Del Rio might not be looking forward to Friday's Smackdown.

WINNER: Show at 0:24. Clean, decisive, dominating. Not exactly a good start to 2013 for Kofi, though, especially after dropping the IC Title to close 2012. Time for a change to Kofi's character?

Raw 1,000 Flashback: The announcers went back to July when Big Show attacked John Cena, costing Cena his WWE Title match against C.M. Punk. The Rock then returned, cleaned house, and Punk turned heel by blind-siding Rock.

Backstage: WWE focused on a dressing room with "The Rock" on the door. Lawler said Rock is out next.

[Commercial Break]

Raw Hype Video: 20th Anniversary Show next week on Raw.

Rock Return Segment

In-ring: Cult of Personality played to bring out WWE champion C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman instead of The Rock. WWE then replayed Ryback having his hands on the WWE Title just moments ago until The Shield cost Ryback the title match.

In the ring, Punk thought over his words as Heyman held up the WWE Title belt. Punk removed the WWE logo on the mic and tossed it aside. He said the time has come for him to talk about something very personal. Punk said he hears everything that everyone says. He said the word "pipebomb" has been misunderstood for months. Punk said it's the truth and honesty. He said the perception in Las Vegas last year was a disgruntled wrestler whose ego then became a runaway train. Punk said the next part of it is people think he turned his back on them. "That's a lie," he said.

[Q12] Punk said he meant everything he said in Vegas, except for the part about ice cream because the people don't need to eat anymore ice cream. Punk said he made a conscious decision at the time to sell out to the fans. "I cashed in," he said. "I created this persona of this rebel and anti-hero because I know you all love to cheer for your superheroes." Punk said the truth about Vegas and WWE is it doesn't matter if you're the best in the ring, on the mic, or at the commentary table because there is a glass ceiling and you're not allowed to break it. Punk said the more popular you are, the more opportunities you get.

Punk said John Cena had the worst year of his career, yet he still gets title after title shot. He said Daniel Bryan puts on a smile and fakes his way through dumb catchphrases, Brodus Clay is forced to touch dirty children, and Tyson Kidd is over-looked. Some vocal males applauded, who Punk called out. Punk said you're playing right into my hands. He said the audience can't handle anything serious or complicated because it's a circus and they're here to entertain. Punk said WWE wants you to think that no one can succeed in WWE unless you're popular, but he proved them all wrong by doing it his own way.

Punk then said he could have been WWE champ in Bruno Sammartino's era because Bruno wrestled once a month at MSG. He said Hulk Hogan couldn't have survived weekly TLC matches. Punk said one year for him is like 30 years in their time. Punk said he did this in spite of the fans.

Punk continued that the rest of the roster puts on their happy faces and goes for cheap reactions playing to the crowd, shouting out to Tampa, Florida. Punk said they'll say they did it for all of the fans, but he's a bad, bad man. Punk said Ric Flair will cry his 180-years-old eyes out, Shawn Michaels will talk about wanting the acceptance of the fans, and Edge will say he put his body through hell for the fans, which means these people are either weak or dishonest. He said he is neither, but the Best in the World.

Punk said there are two types of people in this world. One is people in the spotlight and the other is people who pay to see people in the spotlight. Punk said people pay to see him, but he has never done this for them. He said he is a Superstar and the crowd are nobodies. Punk said the real Superstars should give the fans their Millions...and Millions of Dollars they earn if they're genuine about "doing it for the fans," continuing to take digs at Rock.

Punk then paused as a stagehand told him they need to take a commercial break. Punk said they don't go to break when they want to go to break, but when The Champ wants to. Punk said The Rock is going to come out here and talk a whole lot, but here's the most important thing they will hear. Lawler talked over Punk, who told the crowd that the most important thing is they don't matter and what they want doesn't matter. Raw cut to break mid-sentence.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Punk was still talking. Punk said he will stand before you still as WWE champion on the first Raw of 2014. Punk said what disappoints him is these so-called Superheroes trying to take the title from him, which is not going to happen. Punk said when he regained the WWE Title from Alberto Del Rio at Survivor Series 2011, he not only beat Del Rio, but the system. Punk continued that when he beat every Superstar during his title reign, he didn't just beat those opponents, but the fans. "I have beaten you; I have stomped you out under my oppressive boot," he said. Punk said he will do the same to Rock and the fans will not get to win because they are losers.

One minute before the top of the hour, The Rock's music played to put an end to Punk's promo. Rock came out on-stage and cocked one eye toward the ring as the crowd exploded. Rock then went side-to-side across the stage looking into the crowd as Cole declared that he has goosebumps. WWE cut into the ring to show Punk selling annoyance as Rock bounced up and down on-stage.

[Q13 -- over-run] A clean-shaven Rock stomped down to the ring flexing his muscles in a cut-off-sleeves t-shirt before hitting the ring and posing on the top turnbuckle. Rock then entered the ring, walked right past Punk, and posed in the opposite turnbuckle. Rock hopped down from the turnbuckle and grabbed a mic before pacing around Punk, who sold not being intimidated.

Rock said he wanted to hear it all from Punk and waited to hear everything that Punk has to say. He said it's become crystal-clear to him that Punk is completely delusional. Rock said Punk has been WWE champ for 414 days, but the real number that haunts Punk's dreams is 20. He said there are 20 excuses running around Punk's head and 20 hairs standing up on his Straight-Edge scrotum. He said in 20 days, Punk will have to defend the WWE Title against him. "Time's up," he said.

Rock paused for a "Rocky, Rocky" chant as the two remained face-to-face. Rock said Punk wanted change and a revolution, but the people rejected Punk. Rock said Punk couldn't do change or do a revolution, promising ice cream bars for everyone. He said Punk couldn't deliver ice cream bars if the DQ truck drove straight up Punk's ass. Rock paused to glare at Punk, then noted the voices in the crowd. Rock said Punk claims to be the voice of the voiceless, but that's hot garbage. He said there's no such thing as the voiceless in WWE. He said they have voices and they love to use their voices. As a matter of fact, they know something special is about to happen right now.

Rock said they're going to use their voices to chant the loudest chant that will follow Punk for the rest of his life. Not respect, not BITW, but what Punk is. "Cookie puss," he repeated. The crowd followed with a "Cookie puss" chant. Punk egged them on, telling the crowd to keep it coming. Punk told them to be the puppets they are. "Congratulations," he declared. Punk looked toward Rock and said they don't get to win and Rock doesn't get to win.

Rock smiled and said they've already won. He said they won when Rock woke up at 4:00 a.m., ate his pancakes, hit the gym, got in his pick-up truck, drove through alligator alley, and is standing right here in the middle of the ring and can say, "Finally, The Rock has come back to Tampa." Big applause from the crowd. Rock then circled Punk before pausing for a "Rocky, Rocky" chant.

Rock told Punk that he's back for three reasons. (1) Entertain the fans. (2) Stop Punk. (3) And, after ten long years, he's here to win that (WWE Title). Rock said he has watched every Raw, watching Punk backpedal, deceive, and lie. He said he wanted someone just to tell Punk they respect him so he would shut up, and he looks like Popeye, the crackhead. Rock said Punk needs a little thing in his mouth so he can say, "Toot-toot." Punk was not amused.

Rock got serious and said Punk has one of the greatest minds in WWE, but he turned into one of the biggest jerks he's ever seen. Rock said when he is here, don't ever say the people matter. He said they always matter, but Punk is the one who doesn't matter. Punk smirked and said he matters because he's the most successful -- Rock interrupted, "It doesn't matter if you matter." He continued that Punk has no way of stopping him from becoming WWE champion. They circled each other in the ring, then Punk said unlike a lot of people, he's glad Rock is here. Punk said Rock can be Santa Claus and work one day per year because he'll still kick his ass. Punk said whenever Rock decides to grace them with his presence, he'll still kick his ass. Punk said Rock has never faced someone like him. He said Rock can do his tired, lameass shtick, but come the Royal Rumble, he's going to kick his ass. Punk said he's the best guy Rock has ever faced in the ring, and he's playing little-league with his rhymes, but he's in the big-leagues swinging for the fences. Punk said it's all kiddy-games because Rock can't leave a mark on the champ's face. Punk said Rock's arms are just too short to box with God in the ring. Punk stared straight into Rock, who returned with a quizzical look on his face, sizing up Punk.

Rock said Punk may think The Rock is boxing with God, but he knows for a fact that Punk is going one-on-one with The Great One. Rock said he knows Punk is a bad, bad man and he knocked him out with a GTS the last time they were in the ring. Rock said he was embarrassed and he didn't forget, but in 20 days, time is up. Rock told Punk that from now until then, he wants Punk to go home and think about the next 20 days. In fact, look in the mirror and strip naked. Rock told Punk not to look at his cookie puss, but find a small space on his body that isn't covered by ugly tattoos.

Rock told Punk to get a tattoo of a big, fat M&M, Snickers, or another candy bar on his left butt cheek. But, not Almonds Joy because Punk doesn't have nuts. And, on the right cheek, get a tattoo of his big, size 15 boot kicking his candyass. Rock then grappled Punk and dropped him with Rock Bottom center-ring. Punk rolled out of the ring and Punk trash-talked down to the ring as Punk retrieved his title belt and slowly clutched it.

In the ring, Rock did the belt-around-his-waist motion and flashed 2-0 to Punk as his music played. On the floor, Punk finally reached his feet as Rock flashed 2-0 some more. The announcers quickly plugged the 20th Anniversary of Raw next week on Raw as the show signed off 15 minutes past the top of the hour.

Before Raw went off the air, USA Network ran an ad for Friday's Smackdown, and The Rock's history on Smackdown was focused on. This Friday, The Rock returns home to Miami. And for the first time in ten years, Rock returns to Smackdown.

Show Results: (1) John Cena beat Dolph Ziggler (w/A.J. Lee and Big E. Langston). ... (2) Kaitlyn beat Divas champion Eve Torres via count-out; Eve retained the Divas Title. ... (3) Rhodes Scholars (Damien Sandow & Cody Rhodes) beat WWE tag champions Daniel Bryan & Kane in a non-title match. ... (4) Randy Orton beat Heath Slater. ... (5) IC champion Wade Barrett beat Santino (w/Ricky Steamboat) in a non-title match. ... (6) U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro beat Great Khali (w/Hornwoggle and Natalya) in a non-title match. ... (7) Sheamus beat Jinder Mahal. ... (8) WWE champion C.M. Punk (w/Paul Heyman) beat Ryback in a TLC match to retain the WWE Title. ... (9) World Hvt. champion Big Show beat Kofi Kingston in a non-title match.

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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