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WWE Raw Report
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 4/15: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - Lesnar returns, Punk walks away, WM29 fallout, new U.S. champion, more

Apr 15, 2013 - 10:08:28 PM
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WWE Raw TV Results
April 15, 2013 - Episode #1,037
Live from Greenville, S.C.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


This week's WWE Raw episode eight days removed from WrestleMania opened with a video package looking back to last week's events, specifically John Cena beat Mark Henry via count-out in the main event, Henry inflicting a post-match beat down, and then Ryback coming out to take out Henry before Shell-Shocking Cena. Tonight, Ryback reveals the reason for his "unprovoked attack" on Cena. They're playing it up like a heel turn. Plus, C.M. Punk addresses his loss to The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

Live in the arena, Randy Orton's music was the first sound heard. Justin Roberts announced a two-on-one handicap match, then Sheamus was introduced to join Orton on-stage. It felt like they jumped to the top of the second hour to start the show. As Orton and Sheamus hit the ring, Michael Cole recapped last week's drama involving Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show, who cut off the Orton-Sheamus match. Big Show was then introduced for what will apparently be a Smackdown repeat to start the show. No mention from the announcers that this match happened three nights ago on Smackdown. JBL chimed in before the bell, so the commentary team is Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL.

1 -- RANDY ORTON & SHEAMUS vs. BIG SHOW -- handicap match

The announcers continued to tap-dance around this match occurring on Smackdown, instead focusing on Henry attacking Sheamus backstage during Smackdown. In the ring, Sheamus landed 10 Forearms to Show's chest, but Show knocked him to the floor moments later. Orton hopped off the ring apron to cheerlead Sheamus, who eventually made it back into the ring at seven.

Back in the ring, Show lit up Sheamus's chest with consecutive palm strikes to the chest, reddening Sheamus's chest. Show followed with his standing leg sweep move, which Cole named "Final Cut." Orton broke up a pin, then trash-talked Sheamus before resuming the attack. Show wanted to end it with a corner Vader Bomb, but Sheamus reached his feet and put Show in the Electric Chair, slowly backed up, and delivered the Chair to pop the crowd. Lawler said he's not sure how the ring withstood that impact.

At 5:00, Sheamus brought in Orton with a tag. Orton went to work on Show, but couldn't get him off his feet. So, Orton delivered a big dropkick to deck Show. Orton then wanted a top-rope DDT, and he connected. JBL said it's over, then Orton got The Look in his eyes. Orton wanted the RKO, but Show shoved him away. Show teased a chokeslam, but Sheamus hit the ring to deliver a Brogue Kick. Orton followed right up with the RKO on Show for the pin and the win. After the finish, JBL covered for Show by saying this was unfair.

WINNERS: Orton & Sheamus at 6:11. This felt like a "feel-good" start to the show.

Announcers: Cole, Lawler, and JBL were shown on-camera to shift gears on the show. Cole transitioned to 3MB, then went back to Smackdown to review 3MB interrupting Triple H's speech on Friday. They showed The Shield interrupting the proceedings to take out 3MB, then calling out Hunter.

Backstage: Josh Mathews brought in 3MB to respond to The Shield's attack on Smackdown. Slater said they're calling out Shield right now. "Are they serious?" Cole asked on commentary. "They're nuts." Raw cut to break.

[Q2] [Commercial Break]

In-ring: 3MB was in the ring back from break. Heath Slater spoke first that the greatest rock-band in WWE history was going to make an example out of Triple H, but noooooo, that other three-man cover-band The Shield tried to steal their spotlight. Jinder Mahal claimed to be the only three-man band that rocks faces. Drew McIntyre played tough-guy suggesting Shield come out here and hand them a hand-written apology. No sign of The Shield after the call-out, then crowd chanted, "You suck," toward 3MB.

After a pause, Brock Lesnar's music played instead. Lesnar slowly walked out on-stage and paced the stage before bouncing up and down. Big reaction for Lesnar, who marched to the ring as Cole recapped Lesnar getting battered and bruised at WrestleMania. 3MB remained in the ring, then Lesnar approached them and started chucking bodies. Lesnar chucked Slater, suplexed Mahal, then
F5'ed McIntyre.

Slater thought about re-entering the ring, then backed down, only to take a big clothesline from Lesnar. Lesnar smiled, then F5'ed Slater into the barricade. Lesnar wasn't done, though, as he slammed Slater into the barricade. Paul Heyman then surfaced and told Lesnar that's it for now. The crowd chanted, "One more time," which drew a smile from Lesnar. Lesnar got excited about the prospect of one more time, but Heyman told him to leave. Lesnar obliged and the duo entered the ring to boos.

In the ring, Heyman said his client is ready for a fight. And, the fight that his client wants is against Triple H. Heyman said that on Sunday, April 7, Triple H did something no one has ever pulled off - he knocked out Brock Lesnar. Heyman continued that it makes Hunter a great man and warrior worthy of admiration. So, if Hunter were here tonight, he would shake Hunter's hand and say he respects Hunter after witnessing what he did at WrestleMania. Pause for a "Triple H" chant as Heyman did his work building anticipation for Hunter appearing.

Heyman said the problem is Brock Lesnar does not agree with him. He said Hunter's victory at WrestleMania only evened up the score at 1-1. And, there can only be one dominant Alpha Males in WWE. Heyman said there is an event coming up called Extreme Rules. He said at that event, an unconscious man will be compromised because it's time to get barbaric. He said it's time to get primal, uncensored, ruthless, raw, and... extreme. So, Lesnar is proposing Hunter vs. Lesnar in a down-and-dirty, old-school steel cage match. Lesnar smiled at the thought of this happening. Heyman concluded with two words for Hunter: "challenge issued." Lesnar's music played, then Heyman lifted Lesnar's hand in the air.

[ JC: Heyman did yeoman's work trying to get people interested in a match-up that people were probably hoping would go away after two supbar matches at Summerslam and WrestleMania. Plus, they just put Hunter's career on the line at Mania - how do they try to make an Extreme Rules re-match bigger than that? ]

Still to come: Ryback explains his actions against John Cena.

Next: U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro and Kofi Kingston were shown walking down the hallway. The U.S. Title is on the line next.

[Commercial Break]

[Q3] In-ring: Justin Roberts announced the U.S. Title match up next. Kofi Kingston was then introduced to a big kids-and-family reaction as the challenger in this match. Lawler predicted they are looking at the next U.S. champion, then Antonio Cesaro was introduced to defend the title. Cesaro, who emerged with a mic tucked into his title belt, paused on-stage, then began yodeling down to the ring. Cesaro yodeled his way into the ring, then yodeled inside the ring. Cole gave a story about how Cesaro learned how to yodel, then the bell sounded.

2 -- U.S. champion ANTONIO CESARO vs. KOFI KINGSTON -- U.S. Title match

Kingston scored early nearfalls, then clotheslined Cesaro to the mat and went through his routine of warming up for the Boom Drop and connecting. Kingston then wanted Trouble in Paradise, telegraphed it by clapping, and Cesaro ducked. Cesaro then threw Kofi into the air for a European Uppercut, but Kofi escaped a pin attempt. Raw cut to break with Cesaro in control.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Cesaro was in control of the action, trying to gouge out Kofi's eyes with his boot. Cesaro taunted the crowd, then began toying with Kofi. Cesaro got angry and smashed Kofi in the corner with a European Uppercut for a nearfall. Kofi suddenly nailed the SOS, but Cesaro grabbed the bottom rope to escape a pin attempt. Kofi then nailed Trouble in Paradise moments later, but it knocked Cesaro out of the ring. Kofi desperately tried to get Cesaro back into the ring, but it took too long, allowing Cesaro to kick out of a pin.

At 8:00, Kingston slowly rolled to the ring apron before slowly climbing to the top rope. Kofi wanted a flying cross-body, but Cesaro caught Kofi and flipped him over into a backbreaker for a close two count. Kofi and Cesaro then went through a great counter/reversal sequence, but no three count. Suddenly, Kofi nailed Trouble in Paradise. Cesaro slumped down to the mat, and Kofi covered him for the pin and the win.

Post-match, Josh Mathews hit the ring to ask Kofi about winning the U.S. Title. Kofi said he just brought the U.S. Title back home, then his music played to very quickly wrap up the post-match interview.

WINNER: Kingston at 9:25 to capture the U.S. Title. Good TV match; interesting decision to switch the title to Kofi and end Cesaro's title reign with little fanfare. It feels like WWE is going to try to re-heat Kofi post-Mania, but it's going to take work since the U.S. Title has dropped so far down the ladder of importance.

Still to come: Ryback explains his attack on John Cena at the end of Raw last Monday.

DVD plug: Mick Foley's new DVD out Tuesday.

[Q4] [Commercial Break]

Back from break, WWE ran a spot for WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans.

Back live, the announcers talked about the "excitement" of a Money in the Bank cash-in. Cole then flashed back to last week's Raw when Dolph Ziggler cashed in on Alberto Del Rio to capture the World Title. They replayed the entire segment in real-time starting with audio of the WrestleMania left-over crowd going nuts for Ziggler's music playing, the title match starting, Ziggler winning the World Title from Del Rio, and Ziggler, A.J. Lee, and Big E. Langston celebrating in the ring.

Backstage: Ziggler, A.J., and Big E. were shown strutting down the hallway. Lawler said they'll hear from the new World Champ on the other side of the break.

[Commercial Break]

Back live two minutes before the top of the hour, Justin Roberts introduced the new World champ. Ziggler's music played to bring out the new champ flanked by A.J. and Big E. As Ziggler hit the ring, Lawler wondered aloud how Ziggler will "show off" now that he's World champ. Definitely not going the Edge & Lita route.

[Q5 -- second hour] In the ring, Ziggler said last week he successfully cashed in his MITB contract to become new World champ, which mainly drew boos. Ziggler said it was the single greatest moment in Raw history, which drew boos. Ziggler said it was all because of him. He wondered aloud how he will top himself. Ziggler said there has never been a World champ as charismatic and flamboyant as him, because he is just too good. He told the crowd to listen up that he doesn't care if they boo him or not. Ziggler told the crowd that showing off is what you do when you are better than everyone else, and he backs it up every single night.

Ziggler said the perks of being who he is come with the job. He said everyone wants his autograph, and he gets this. Ziggler smooched A.J., which is about as close as they'll get to Edge & Lita. Ziggler said no one will ever be as good as he is, then Alberto Del Rio's music interrupted. Del Rio limped out on-stage with Ricardo Rodriguez by his side. Ricardo, on crutches, tried to help Del Rio down to the ring before Del Rio hit the ring.

Del Rio opened by saying he congratulated Ziggler last week, but he will invoke his re-match clause right here, right now in Greenville. "What?" Lawler wondered aloud. Ziggler laughed at this, then told Del Rio he needs to be 100 percent to hang with him. Vickie Guerrero interrupted on-stage and said Del Rio will get his re-match, and it will happen right now. He asked for a ref and it was on. Before the bell sounded, Jack Swagger's music interrupted. Swagger and Zeb Colter walked on-stage. Colter said there would not be a MITB cash-in without Swagger. So, Dolph doesn't deserve to be World champ and Del Rio sure doesn't deserve another shot.

Swagger hit the ring, and Del Rio jumped him. Del Rio knocked Swagger out of the ring, then Big E. Langston stood up to Del Rio. Suddenly, Swagger yanked Del Rio out of the ring and wrapped Del Rio's leg around the ringpost. Swagger destroyed Del Rio's bad leg, then slapped on the Patriot Lock as the assigned ref asked for help. In the ring, Ziggler, A.J., and Big E. just stood by watching Swagger destroy Del Rio. Swagger and Colter eventually headed up the ramp as Del Rio sold the effects of the leg attack, writhing in pain. The announcers then transitioned away from the teased World Title match, which never officially started...

Backstage: WWE tag champions Daniel Bryan and Kane were shown walking down the hallway. Apparently the babyfaces were too busy getting their backstage shine instead of coming down to the ring to make the save for fellow babyface Del Rio. It's little things like this that WWE Creative misses the boat on. Tag champs in action next.

[Commercial Break]

Moments Ago: Del Rio was ambushed before he could challenge Ziggler for the World Title.

Backstage: Del Rio was writhing in pain on the trainer's table. The announcers concluded that Del Rio will be in no condition to challenge for the World Title tonight.

In-ring: Back in the arena, the Prime Time Players were in the ring. WWE tag champs Daniel Bryan and Kane were then introduced for non-title action. Before the match started, WWE replayed The Shield targeting The Undertaker before Bryan and Kane made the save for Taker. See, Bryan & Kane are capable of making a save. Before the bell sounded, Cole announced the big six-man tag match of Bryan & Kane & Taker vs. Shield they set up last week on Raw will happen...next week on Raw.

[Q6]

3 -- WWE tag champions DANIEL BRYAN & KANE vs. PRIME TIME PLAYERS (TITUS O'NEIL & DARREN YOUNG) -- non-title match

The Players took control early on before Bryan fought back on Titus with a big forearm strike. But, Titus overhead-slammed Bryan to the mat to maintain control. The announcers entered goofball mode early on, then got serious when Kane hot-tagged into the match to clean house. Kane dumped Titus to the outside, then Bryan kneed Titus in the face. Back in the ring, Kane chokeslammed D-Young. Bryan then tagged in and hit a diving headbutt on Young for the pin and the win. Afterward, Bryan and Kane led the crowd in "Yes!" chants.

WINNERS: Bryan & Kane at 3:33. Basic set up for Bryan & Kane teaming with Taker against The Shield next week on Raw.

Up next: Ryback explains why he attacked John Cena. Of note, there has not been a mention of C.M. Punk's TV return tonight since the opening video package.

[Commercial Break]

Ryback Explanation

Video: Ryback was shown standing in front of a black backdrop with a red splotch of paint on the backdrop that was illuminated behind him. Ryback breathed heavily, then began his explanation that April 7, 2013 was the worst night of his life, but it was the best night of John Cena's career beating The Rock. Ryback said there's only one place for them to go - Ryback up and Cena down to meet in the middle. Ryback said he wasn't going to stand at the bottom of the ladder again and look up at Cena.

Ryback said Cena is probably thinking about how he helped Ryback. He said Cena even gave him his title shot when he was injured in October. Ryback said people want Cena injured more often, then Ryback claimed a friendship with Cena is nothing more than living in Cena's shadow. (See Evan Bourne, etc.) Ryback said he doesn't stand in anyone's shadow and Cena left him to fend for himself. The video flashed back to November 2012 and January when Shield prevented Ryback from winning the WWE Title on two separate actions, and Cena wasn't there to help.

Ryback said six times he was attacked by Shield - where were you? "Designing your latest t-shirt?" Ryback asked. Then, last month, Mark Henry took out Ryback. The three times Cena was attacked, Ryback said he was there. But, he gets it that Cena has priorities, which was winning back the WWE Title. He said Cena was lucky at the Rumble - they flashed back to Cena eliminating Ryback to win the Rumble - and then at Elimination Chamber, Cena left Ryback alone in the ring to fend off Shield again.

Ryback continued that Cena was on his way to WrestleMania. Good for you. Ryback said when Cena was in the ring making his little jokes, Cena acted like no one else exists. Ryback said he waited for Cena to admit that he was in the spot only because he wasn't. But, Cena didn't. So, Cena has to admit that Ryback is the biggest threat to Cena's title. Ever. "Ryback rules," he concluded as the crowd was heard sitting quietly, unsure what to make of this. Raw faded to commercial.

[ JC: Apparently Ryback is turning heel and not just being an in-between guy who wants to get a WWE Title shot out of good competition. It was a decent explanation from Ryback, and made Ryback even more heelish by being so over-confident in himself and blaming others for never actually winning a big match. But, you would have liked to have seen Ryback actually continue going after Shield to get his revenge and gain some credibility as a threat to the WWE Title, and then save Ryback turning heel down the road, but apparently WWE is short on options. ]

[Q7] [Commercial Break]

Back from break, the announcers flashed back to earlier tonight when Brock Lesnar destroyed 3MB, then Paul Heyman called out Triple H to face Lesnar at Extreme Rules. No reaction to Ryback's promo in the previous segment.

In-ring: R-Truth was in the ring, then new IC champion Wade Barrett was introduced to face Truth. Before the match started, Cole plugged a 10-man #1 contender's battle royal on Wednesday's Main Event show. The winner will receive an IC Title shot.

4 -- IC champion WADE BARRETT vs. R-TRUTH -- non-title match

As the match started, Cole discussed Ryback's promo. Cole said he finds it odd that Ryback is blaming Cena for all of his bad luck, Lawler said Ryback put his own spin on the events, and JBL flipped out about Lawler's response. JBL and Lawler had a good argument about Ryback's claims. Back in the ring, Barrett ducked the Lie Detector, then back-kicked Truth in the gut. Barrett followed with a pumphandle slam attempt, but Truth escaped and hit an STO for a nearf...no, three count. The crowd and Truth acted shocked over this. Truth then celebrated the win as the announcers sold it as a big victory for Truth.

WINNER: Truth at 3:13. Barrett gets a big title win in front of a hot crowd last week on Raw, then WWE has him lose clean in three minutes in his first Raw match since the title victory. Does any booking decision better capture WWE's hot/cold, start/stop, up/down, going-nowhere pattern?

GM's Office: Backstage, Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox pretended to have a conversation about Del Rio's health, then Teddy Long barged in. Long offered a solution: Swagger vs. Ziggler. Long said he already set it up, then told Brickie to calm down. Vickie asked Long if Booker T knows about this, to which Long said he doesn't know. Long and Vickie told Brad to go tell someone about it. The camera then lingered on Vickie selling concern over these developments.

Still to come: Fandango. Lawler wondered aloud if the crowd will go crazy for Fandango this week.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Great Khali's music played to bring out Khali and Natalya for what was announced as a tag team match. Hornswoggle was already in the ring. Since Swoggle was wearing a green jacket, JBL made a mini-golf joke. Santino was then introduced as Khali's tag partner.

[Q8] Damien Sandow's music played to bring out Sandow and Cody Rhodes as the opposition. Sandow requested silence before heeling on South Carolina. Sandow said they're welcome, then Rhodes and Sandow hit the ring.

5 -- GREAT KHALI & SANTINO (w/Natalya and Hornswoggle) vs. RHODES SCHOLARS (DAMIEN SANDOW & CODY RHODES)

Sandow has dropped the pink tights in favor of silver tights. Khali chopped Sandow across the chest, then tagged in Rhodes to get a piece of Khali. But, Santino wanted a tag, so it was Santino against Rhodes. Meanwhile, some of the tweets crawling across the bottom of the screen were scary bad. In the ring, Sandow dropped the Elbow of Disdain on Santino for a nearfall. Santino came back with a sailor's salute drop, then pulled out The Cobra.

Santino struck Sandow with the reptile sock puppet, but couldn't make a cover because Rhodes hit the ring. Santino scared Rhodes out of the ring, then on the outside, Swoggle tried a mini-Cobra to Rhodes, but Rhodes no-sold. "You're not doing it right," he dryly replied to Swoggle. He threatened Swoggle, but Khali blasted him from behind. Back in the ring, Sandow rolled up a distracted Santino from behind for a quick three count.

WINNERS: Rhodes Scholars at 3:17.

Up Next: Fandango.

[Commercial Break]

Fandango Follow-up

In-ring: Jerry Lawler was standing by in the ring. Lawler said there has only been one instance where a wrestler has debuted and won at WrestleMania. Lawler said just this past week, there have been over 100,000 instances of "Fandango'ing" on social media. This led to a video from last Monday when the crowd sang Fandando's theme song. Next were social media and TV clips of people outside of WWE Fandango'ing. And, WWE very quickly made this seem uncool.

Back in the ring, the crowd was virtually silent. Lawler then tried to pronounce "Fandango," which brought out Fandango's dancer on-stage, followed by Fandango. Cole claimed Fandango is taking over the entire world. Cole talked about Fandango's reach, mainly for the purpose of hyping WWE's brand for the company to "own" the crowd reaction last week. Cole eventually swung it back to Fandango as a heel upsetting Chris Jericho at WrestleMania.

[Q9 -- third hour] The theme song eventually finished and Fandango eventually entered the ring. Silence from the crowd. Fandango asked Lawler how his hips are doing, then he asked Jerry if he can move his hips. Fandango demonstrated as some fans in the crowd started humming. Lawler left the ring, then Fandango asked the crowd if they want to go Fandango'ing with him. They cheered. Fandango went section to section, getting cheers. And, a loud vuvuzela-sounding horn noise.

Fandango said before they can go Fandango'ing, he needs the people to do one thing. He asked them to pronounce his name correctly. The first try wasn't good enough. He then stretched out the syllables before asking the crowd to "breathe in the a's." Fandango taught the crowd how to pronounce his name before putting it all together to a smattering of applause. Five or six people started humming, then it caught on a little bit more.

Fandango said it's quite obvious they cannot pronounce his name correctly, so they can all go "Fandango yourselves." Cue up the music. Fandango swiveled his hips as a few people in the crowd were shown humming and dancing, then WWE found a few more sections where people were playing along. Fandango and his dancer then danced up the aisle to the stage.

Backstage: Matt Striker brought in new WWE champion John Cena. No crowd noise, so either WWE didn't show this live or the crowd wasn't paying attention to Cena appearing on-camera. Cena said apparently Ryback has a problem with him, so he's going to hit the ring later and make it real easy for Ryback to face him man-to-man. Cena stomped off.

Announcers: Back to Cole, Lawler, and JBL, who reacted to a potential Cena-Ryback explosion tonight.

In-ring: Jack Swagger's music played to bring out Swagger and Zeb Colter for singles action up next.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, WWE flashed back to earlier in the show when Swagger took out Del Rio to prevent Del Rio from challenging Ziggler for the World Title. Ziggler was then introduced to face Swagger in a heel vs. heel match. The crowd reaction should be fascinating...

6 -- World Hvt. champion DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Big E. Langston and A.J. Lee) vs. JACK SWAGGER (w/Zeb Colter) -- non-title match

Ziggler and Swagger circled each other before Ziggler "showed off" in Swagger's face. Ziggler followed with a slap to Swagger's face. Ziggler bailed from the ring when Swagger charged him, then Swagger blasted him back in the ring. Swagger then went to work on Ziggler as the announcers talked up both wrestlers's amateur wrestling backgrounds. Ziggler made a comeback, but Swagger hung up Ziggler on the top rope. Swagger then clotheslined Ziggler down to the floor, and Raw cut to break with Swagger in control.

[Q10] [Commercial Break]

Back from break, Swagger was still in control as the crowd tried to figure out how to react to this match-up. Swagger went for a running Vader Bomb, but Ziggler got his feet up to block. Ziggler then delivered a standing dropkick as A.J. excitedly cheered on Ziggler. Dolph followed with a DDT for a two count. But, Dolph couldn't capitalize, and Swagger surprised Dolph with a quick roll-up for a three count.

WINNER: Swagger at 9:52. See the analysis on Truth over Barrett above. WWE put titles on heels with momentum, then took it away this week in favor of "making the champ look vulnerable." Ziggler really could have used a solid victory this week to keep momentum going before making him look vulnerable ahead of the title re-match with Del Rio and making Swagger a #1 contender. Worse was Ziggler should never have been positioned in a default face role getting a light reaction since that big moment when Ziggler is actually full-fledged face could really mean something down the road. Bizarre booking tonight.

Post-match, Swagger celebrated on the way up the ramp, but Del Rio attacked him from behind on one good leg. Del Rio kicked Swagger off the stage, then slapped on the cross arm-breaker. Del Rio released the hold, then winked toward Ziggler, who was recovering in the ring.

Announcers: Cole read tweets from The Rock about his injury recovery. He said Rock is "trying to get better" after WrestleMania. Rock isn't being completely ignored this week.

Still to come: Cena responds to Ryback's claims earlier tonight.

Backstage: C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman were shown walking backstage. The first mention of Punk's TV return promo in two hours and 24 minutes sent Raw to break.

[Commercial Break]

Backstage: Matt Striker was standing by to welcome in Sheamus. Suddenly, Mark Henry ambushed Sheamus and drove him through the interview set. "That's what I do!" Henry shouted. Refs checked on Sheamus and tried to get Henry away from Sheamus, who sold a back injury as Henry stomped off.

Announcers: Cole, Lawler, and JBL reacted to Henry assaulting Sheamus, then Cult of Personality interrupted.

[Q11]

C.M. Punk Promo

Dressed in street clothes, C.M. Punk slowly walked out on-stage flanked by Paul Heyman. Punk stood still on-stage, looked back to Heyman, and then continued to the ring. Cole said Punk is obviously hurting and trying to put on a brave face. The announcers almost treated Punk - the character who bathed in the ashes of a dead person before Mania - like a babyface who was valiant in defeat, pushed Taker to the limit, and is brave for even walking right now.

In the ring, Punk wore a sad face as the crowd lightly chanted, "C-M-Punk." Punk consulted with Heyman as Lawler asked if he's going to say something. JBL asked if he's at a loss for words. Punk continued to look around the arena before reluctantly holding the mic to his mouth. Punk said that for 434 days as WWE champion, he couldn't enjoy the ride because he was always looking around the corner for what was next.

Punk said the WWE Title meant everything to him. And, he wanted the next challenge, which was The Rock. Punk said as he battled someone who will arguably go down as one of the greatest stars, he was still looking for what's next. Punk said after being champ for 434 days, the only logical place to go was taking on The Streak at WrestleMania. He said he pushed Taker to the limit (pause to find the words). During the pause, the crowd chanted, "Under-Taker." Vocal males responded, "C-M-Punk," as Punk looked around the arena as the dueling chant continued.

Punk then embraced Paul Heyman and handed him the mic. Punk left the ring and waved off the cameraman following him up the ramp. Heyman, stunned, wasn't sure what to make of this as Punk stopped halfway up the ramp. Punk then hopped off the ramp and started walking to the side exit. Punk bent underneath the staging area and disappeared as Raw faded to commercial.

Smackdown plug: This Friday, it's Dolph Ziggler's time.

[Commercial Break]

Backstage: Booker T told Teddy Long that he's over-stepping his bounds. Long tried to come up with an explanation, which Booker wasn't buying. Long then named Swagger #1 contender to Ziggler. Booker told Long that Swagger will get his title shot, as will Del Rio. He said it will happen when Ziggler defends the World Title in a triple threat match. No word on when the match will take place. Booker told Long to handle his business. The camera lingered on Long, who sold annoyance.

In-ring: Random music was playing and Divas champion Kaitlyn was standing by in the ring. Nikki Bella was then introduced to face the Divas champ.

7 -- Divas champion KAITLYN vs. NIKKI BELLA (w/Brie Bella) -- non-title match

As the bell sounded, JBL introduced WWE Math on Ziggler having a "small percentage" chance of retaining the World Title when he faces Del Rio and Swagger.

[Q12] Nikki controlled the match from the get-go as the crowd waited for Kaitlyn to make her comeback. It took a while, making the crowd more restless. Kaitlyn eventually made her comeback, but Nikki cut her off. The Bellas then pulled Twin Magic and Brie rolled up an unsuspecting Kaitlyn for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Bellas at 5:08. The finish is the theme of the night. Minus the switcheroo.

Backstage: Ryback was shown walking in the hallway with a scowl on his face.

Main Event plug: The voice-over man said there is only way to determine who should face Wade Barrett for the IC Title. And, it's a battle royal.

[ JC: Or, they could apply the World Title contendership logic and name R-Truth #1 contender since he pinned Barrett tonight. Or, they could have a tournament, Main Event Active poll, draw straws, look at win/loss records, or anything else. Sigh. ]

[Commercial Break]

Next Week: Taker & Kane & Bryan vs. The Shield in a six-man tag match. Lawler said it will be "live" from London and Cole called it potentially one of the biggest Raw main events in history.

Announcers: Cole, Lawler, and JBL recapped the recent Sheamus/Orton-Big Show issues and Sheamus-Henry issues. So, this Friday, it's Big Show & Henry vs. Orton & Sheamus in tag action.

John Cena Promo

In-ring: Six minutes before the top of the hour, John Cena's music played to bring out the WWE champion. Cena stormed the ring as Cole plugged Cena's big eight-day stretch. Cena played to the crowd, then waited out loud cheers and a smattering of boos. The boos picked up steam as Cena held up the mic to the crowd to hear them loud and clear. "The champ is hereeeeeee!" Cena declared to a mixed reaction.

Cena said, "And The Ryback is there" (pointing to the backstage area). Cena told The Ryback to get out here right here, right now. Pause. Ryback's music then played to a mixed reaction. Ryback hit the stage and posed before marching down to the ring as Cena adjusted his cap. Cole said it sounded like Ryback was making excuses earlier tonight, but JBL defended Ryback's claims.

In the ring, Cena and Ryback went face-to-face as some of the crowd chanted, "Feed me more." Cena said the audience sees what he sees - 290 pounds destroying everyone and they know someone will get hurt when they stand in Ryback's path. So, someone like him should be ready to wet his khakis, but he's not. Cena said he issued an open challenge to any WWE star who thought he was ready to get a piece of the title, but what did Ryback do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Cena said Ryback waited until his back was turned to knock him down. And what did Ryback do tonight? Cena said Ryback made the audience sit through a highlight-reel of excuses. "And it was boring," Cena said.

[Q13 -- over-run] Cena said Ryback thinks he's the biggest threat to the title. "Do you know who you're dealing with, jack?" Cena sternly asked. Cena said he's been to war with Orton, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels - his friends. He said as friends, they beat the hell out of each other to get the coveted WWE Title. Cena told "The Ryback" that he gets what he did last week, but he doesn't like how Ryback did it. Cena turned his back and paced the ring. He turned around and said the message Ryback has sent is he lacks the two most important things it takes to be champ - the space between his ears and his legs. Ryback snarled at this insult. Lawler kind of muttered something on commentary during a pause.

Cena continued that last week after Ryback attacked him, Ryback held onto the title belt and he's sure it felt good. Cena started to undress himself, then told Ryback to make a move and see if he has what it takes to earn a championship. Cena dropped the mic and they went face-to-face. Ryback breathed heavily as he continued to mad-face Cena. Ryback then turned and walked out of the ring. He started up the entrance ramp to boos, then Shield's music suddenly played.

Ryback stopped in his tracks as WWE inadvertently showed stagehands rearranging items in the ring to expose the bit. Shield slowly made their way down the arena steps toward the ringside area as Cena bounced the ropes in the ring. Meanwhile, Ryback surveyed the scene. Roman Reigns surveyed the scene, then Seth Rollins slowly slipped over the guardrail. Dean Ambrose joined Rollins slowly reaching ringside as Reigns looked over toward Ryback. No movement from Ryback, who maintained his position.

Shield slowly hit the ring apron, feeling out Ryback's presence outside the ring. Shield then hit the ring and attacked Cena while Ryback stood on the outside. Shield put the boots to Cena as Ryback stayed in the same position watching events in the ring. "Cena, Cena" chant from the crowd as Shield continued to work on Cena. Shield silenced Cena, then Ryback was shown turning his back to the ring and making his way up the ramp to the top of the stage.

Back in the ring, Shield scooped up Cena and set him up for a trademark triple powerbomb center-ring. On top of the stage, Ryback liked what he saw. In the ring, Shield stood tall over Cena, then joined their fists together to signal their unity. Back to Ryback, who continued glaring into the ring. Vocal males picked up a "One more time" chant, but Shield opted to continue standing over Cena as Ryback disappeared to the back, with all of the fans booing Ryback for walking away. Raw signed off eight minutes past the top of the hour with Shield standing over Cena.

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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