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WWE Raw Report
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 12/16: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw following TLC - Orton vs. Bryan excellent main event, HBK surprise appearance, more

Dec 16, 2013 - 10:05:12 PM
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WWE Raw TV Results
December 16, 2013 - Episode #1,072
Live in Dallas, Tex.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor


WWE Raw opened with a video package on TLC last night, focusing on WWE "unifying" their WWE Title and World Title to determine the WWE World Hvt. champion. John Cena had his hands on the titles, but Randy Orton won after Cena crashed down to the mat from a ladder.

Live in the arena, WWE showed the locker room assembled on-stage. Daniel Bryan was next to a dejected John Cena front-and-center. Already in the ring were Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie welcomed everyone to this historic edition of Raw, then said it's time for everyone in the arena, around the world, and standing on-stage to pay respect to One Man.

Triple H said it was the dawning of a new era. Hunter said WWE's present met its future when they crowned a Champion of Champion, which is why they are all here tonight. Hunter then introduced the new WWE World Hvt. champion, Randy Orton.

Orton walked out on-stage holding both title belts. Orton showed off the belts right in front of Cena and Bryan, who both sold inner frustration before Orton continued walking down to the ring, where The Authority awaited his presence. On commentary, Jerry Lawler said he heard from people backstage that Orton is now "unapproachable" after winning last night.

In the ring, Orton said it's a nice feeling when your faith is rewarded. But, then again, the audience had no faith in him to win to begin with. Orton said the audience bought into the lie that he had been handed everything his entire career. WWE cut to shots of Cena standing by on-stage listening intently as Orton claimed to have accomplished more than any Legends in the ring last week.

Orton then addressed the locker room standing on-stage, growling that he is so much better than all of them. Orton said he is the most-powerful man standing in this ring right now (Triple H continued to smile), then John Cena interrupted from the stage: "You're an idiot." Orton demanded Cena's mic be turned off as Cena started walking down the ramp. Cena then gave the Cliff's Notes version of Orton's speech: greatest ever, Viper, Viper, Viper, handcuffs - that was creative - and greatest ever. Cena thanked himself for saving everyone 20 minutes.

Cena congratulated Orton on his victory last night before referencing "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who said you have to carry yourself as champ every single night. Cena said Orton should put up or shut up tonight, to which Orton shouted back that he's not buying Cena's attempt. Cena interrupted that he's not talking about himself, prompting "Yes!" chants.

Cena went back to last week when he promised a certain someone (Daniel Bryan) a WWE Title shot if he won at TLC. So, he would like to transfer that to Orton facing Bryan tonight. Orton shot back that security needs to get Cena out of here. Cena shouted back that Orton might not care what the audience thinks, but he cares about that title and being the greatest ever. So, it should be Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE World Title.

After "Yes!" chants reigned down, Cena asked Orton if he's scared. Orton said he doesn't have to listen to Cena, Bryan, the idiots in the stands, or anyone else. Stephanie interjected from behind Orton: "Except us." Orton said over his shoulder that he's trying not to lose his temper, then said giving Bryan a title shot here tonight is not best for business. Steph wasn't listening to Orton, as she moved to a conference with Triple H.

Hunter responded that Bryan does not deserve an opportunity - a title match for the WWE World Title. But, Stephanie did remind everyone that WWE fans voted Bryan as Superstar of the Year. Hunter claimed to always listen to the WWE Universe, and if the audience would like to see that match (cheers and Yes!" chants) -- Orton shouted back that he was in a war last night with John Cena. Hunter ignored and said he can't think of a better way to kick off the Champion of Champions Era than with a main event like this tonight. Hunter said Orton can silence the critics who say he cannot beat this man.

"Tonight, in this ring, it will be the WWE World Hvt. champion one-on-one with the Superstar of the Year, Daniel Bryan," Hunter declared. Bryan led the crowd in Yes! chants and the locker room followed suit standing behind Bryan.

The final implication was a non-title match after trying to get the audience excited thinking it's for the title. The other item of note is Cena having a "re-match clause" despite his World Title presumably going away, even though Orton walked out with both belts. So, there will apparently be another Cena vs. Orton title match.

[ JC's Reax: Again, mixed signals on The Authority's heel/face alignment. Sure, the set-up looks like The Authority plays nice giving Bryan (and the fans) a big main event before the rug gets pulled out from under Bryan, but there should be some babyface competence from Bryan and Cena not trusting The Authority after Bryan was screwed out of the WWE Title four straight PPVs. ]

- Up Next: Cody Rhodes and Goldust face one of the tag teams from last night's four-team Tag Title match.

[Q2] [Commercial Break at 8:15]

- In-ring: Cody Rhodes and Goldust were standing by in the ring. Rey Mysterio's music then played to bring out Rey as one-half of the tag champs's opposition. Big Show then seconded Rey for Round 2 of the finish to the Tag Title match last night.

1 -- WWE tag champions CODY RHODES & GOLDUST vs. REY MYSTERIO & BIG SHOW -- non-title match

The announcers went back and forth debating events in the opening segment before the match cut to an early break.

[Commercial Break at 8:23]

Back from break, Show bodyslammed Cody Rhodes as the announcers riffed on the South African sign-language translator and President Obama taking "selfie" pictures at Nelson Mandela's memorial. So, WWE cut to a shot of Lawler holding out his phone to take a "selfie" of the three of them at the announce table. That was a long way to go for that joke. They did it again because Lawler messed up the first time. Cole continued commentary on their selfie as a match unfolded in the ring.

[Q3] Big Show lost control of the match, allowing Cody to tag in Goldust. Show responded with a big chokeslam to Goldust, but Cody broke up a pin attempt. Show then chucked Cody to the outside before leaning back and KO Punching Goldust right in the face. Show then tagged in Rey, who Dropped the Dime from Show's shoulders for the pin and the win.

Post-match: Cody entered the ring to check on brother Goldust as Show & Rey stood tall. Goldust then woke up and looked up at Show, selling concern over this defeat. Show then "showed sportsmanship" by helping Dusty Rhodes...er...Goldust to his feet as Rey hobbled around the ring on one good knee.

WINNERS: ReyShow at 12:38. The "selfie" bit came across like a flashback to Cole's heel announcer run when he was produced to take over the show, over-riding the action in the ring.

- Still to come: An App vote on who should team with C.M. Punk against The Shield tonight - The Usos, Los Matadores, or Prime Time Players. Surprisingly, The Mulkeys didn't make the cut.

[Commercial Break at 8:35]

- Next Week: This Christmas edition of Raw. It's "Bad Santa" Damien Sandow vs. "Good Santa" Mark Henry. Not in a match, though, but in pre-taped backstage skits.

- Ringside: "Bad News" Barrett was positioned at the podium. Wade Barrett requested some decorum before declaring over $500 million is at-stake in the lottery this week. But, he has some bad news because no one in this arena will win the money. "Happy Holidays," Barrett declared as WWE continued to try to be topical.

- Announcers: Cole, Lawler, and JBL pitched an auction for signed Slammy awards.

- Backstage: Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Kane were shown talking. Randy Orton then barged into their conversation, still angry and mad 30 minutes after the opening segment. That's a long time to remain angry. Orton continued to freak out, then Stephanie calmed him down and said Daniel Bryan was decimated by The Wyatts last night, so he has the advantage.

Steph gave Orton a speech about being their champion and their friend. But, now he has double the work and double the competition. She told Orton that there is much more to be champion than meets the eye. Hunter chimed in that Orton has to show everyone "why" he is the champion every single night. Hunter told him not to worry because they have his back. Orton stomped out, slammed the door, and Steph sold concern to Hunter.

- In-ring: Fandango's music played to bring out Summer Rae, then Fandango for a re-match from the TLC pre-show last night.

[Commercial Break at 8:43]

[Q4] In-ring: Dolph Ziggler walked out to the ring as Cole said Ziggler was humbled last night when he lost to Fandango. Ziggler said the fans deserve a winner and he will begin his path to redemption tonight.

2 -- FANDANGO (w/Summer Rae) vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER

Ziggler was over-aggressive early on, missing on a baseball slide kick to the outside and eating the mat. Fandango danced, then rolled Ziggler back into the ring for a nearfall. Meanwhile, the announcers actually treated this match seriously by discussing why Ziggler fell short last night and hopes to correct it tonight. Back in the ring, Fandango continued to work on Ziggler, but Ziggler pulled out a quick three count after Fandango mistakenly let up.

WINNER: Ziggler at 3:25. Not an impressive victory for Ziggler (in kayfabe terms since he "snuck out a victory"), but like a mediocre NFL team navigating a grueling 16-game schedule, his character just needed a win.

- Tonight: WWE World Hvt. champion Randy Orton vs. Superstar of the Year Daniel Bryan. Cole said Orton will look to beat Bryan "fair and square" for the first time since their rivalry began.

- Backstage: IC champion Big E. Langston and Mark Henry were shown walking down the hallway. They're in tag action next.

[Commercial Break at 8:52]

- In-ring: Real Americans's music played to bring out Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger, and Zeb Colter for the top-of-the-second-hour tag match. Big E. Langston's music then brought out the IC champion for one-half of the face duo. Mark Henry was out next. The announcers tried to remain topical by referencing the Dallas Cowboys blowing their game last night.

3 -- IC champion BIG E. LANGSTON & MARK HENRY vs. REAL AMERICANS (JACK SWAGGER & ANTONIO CESARO w/Zeb Colter)

The two big-man teams exchanged control early on. The crowd then picked up an "OU Sucks" chant as Henry (representing the Texas Longhorns) entered the ring to lock up with Swagger (representing the Oklahoma Sooners) a few months removed from the Cotton Bowl clash in Dallas. Cole kept it topical by saying perhaps Zeb Colter could replace Mack Brown at Texas.

[Q5 -- second hour] Langston re-entered and teed off on Swagger with Ten Punches in the corner before working on Swagger's left shoulder. Swagger slipped out, then ran over to Cesaro for a tag, but Cesaro took more power offense from Langston. Langston cleared the heels to the outside, then Colter tried to get his troops back on-track with a ringside huddle.

Back in the ring, more clubbing blows from Langston. Langston fought off both Americans when they tried to come at him from both sides, then Swagger finally just dragged Langston out of the ring to the floor. Swagger jammed Langston into the announce table, shouted toward the ceiling, and stomped away on Langston as Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break at 9:05]

Back from break, Cesaro was working on Langston. Cesaro powered Langston onto his back for a nearfall, then tagged in Swagger for a belly-to-belly throw for another nearfall. Langston fought back moments later, then made his way to a fired-up Henry for a hot tag. Henry ran over Cesaro, then JYD-headbutted him. A big powerslam resulted in a two count, but Cesaro came back with a standing dropkick out of nowhere.

Cesaro wanted the Big Swing, but Langston blind-tagged in for Henry, entered the ring, bounced the ropes, and ran over Cesaro. Langston dropped the straps, then followed with the Big Ending to Cesaro. A pin was good for the win. On commentary, Cole hyped the tag division after this match.

WINNERS: World's Strongest Men at 15:33. Solid second-half to the match after some rudimentary action in the first-half.

- Still to come: Punk gets the Usos, Matadores, or Players as his tag partners against The Shield. JBL sent the show to break by noting Punk is in trouble no matter who his partners are. The comment could be interpreted as "subtraction by addition" based on the lack of quality options for Punk, or Punk not standing a chance because he's facing the formidable Shield. Of course, Punk beat Shield by himself last night at TLC, so there's that.

[Q6] [Commercial Break at 9:15]

- Raw Vignette: "Bad Santa" Damien Sandow was greeted by an elementary school girl. Bad helpers A.J. Lee and Tamina Snuka joined in, then the child commented on Sandow's breath. Sound effects were played as Sandow heeled on the girl, then vowed to cancel Christmas. The video transitioned to a plug for Sandow and Mark Henry dueling next week.

- In-ring: Ryback and Curtis Axel were in the ring, Xavier Woods and R-Truth were on commentary, and Cole and JBL were full of bad topical references. Tons of Funk's music then played to bring out the still-aligned Tensai, Brodus Clay, Cameron, and Naomi. Everyone danced together in the ring, then Clay talked smack to Xavier and Truth before the bell sounded.

4 -- TENSAI & BRODUS CLAY (w/Cameron and Naomi) vs. RYBACK & CURTIS AXEL

Tensai and Ryback battled early on as some light "Goldberg" chants fizzled out. Tensai then wanted a tag to Clay, but Clay backed off the ropes, telling Tensai to do it himself. So, Tensai turned around and took a blow from Ryback. Ryback then nailed Shell Shock for the pin and the win as Clay watched his tag partner lose.

Post-match: Clay entered the ring, presumably to help Tensai, but Clay instead bounced the ropes and delivered a big splash. And another. This brought Woods and Truth into the ring to help Tensai leave the ring before double-dropkicking Clay out of the ring. "Stay out of my business!" Clay shouted from ringside. "Y'all a bunch of haters. I'm the Main Event Playa."

Truth then took a mic and addressed Cameron and Naomi. Truth said they haven't had much to dance about lately, then invited them into the ring to dance with them. Clay told them to ignore Truth and Woods, but they opted to enter the ring and "have fun" dancing with the guest commentators.

WINNERS: Ryback & Axel at 2:22. Obviously, WWE wanted to stress the dance battle, but Ryback and Axel finally got a win, then the focus shifted completely away from them.

- Announcers: Cole was shown overly-dancing before transitioning to focus on C.M. Punk beating The Shield last night. Punk was then shown walking backstage ahead of the six-man tag match tonight. But, first, Lawler said Punk has a verbal message for The Authority.

[Commercial Break at 9:28]

[Q7] In-ring: Cult of Personality played to bring out C.M. Punk for the next match. As Punk made his way to the ring, Cole flashed back to the end of last week's Raw. That was when Punk and Randy Orton had a shoving match, then Triple H tossed Punk aside, so Punk punched Hunter in the face, so Shawn Michaels superkicked Punk.

After Punk's music finished, Punk circled the ring before addressing his match against The Shield last night. Punk said he's not much of a Christmas guy or believes in miracles, but not only did he not get taken down, but he beat The Shield. Punk said they'll come out here and make excuses, and he knows this is far from over, but this isn't about The Shield.

Punk said as much as The Authority doesn't want to admit they sent Shield after him, he can't shake that feeling that a "certain somebody" is trying to sweep him under the rug and make him go away. Punk said he doesn't do well with authority, which he demonstrated last week when he slugged Hunter "in his stupid mouth." Punk said Hunter can come out here and brush it off, then put him in a 16-on-1 handicap match. But, since they're adults, he believes Hunter should come down here and sort out their issues man-to-man and face-to-face. Unless Hunter is afraid of what he can do to him on the mic. JBL said Punk's ego has overtaken him.

No sign of Hunter, so the crowd picked up a "C-M-Punk" chant. Punk then asked Dallas if he should give Hunter a few more seconds. Punk checked his imaginary watch, then said that's fine because he didn't think Hunter would show up.

Suddenly, Shawn Michaels's music played to bring out Michaels making a surprise appearance on Raw. HBK, dressed in hunting gear, marched to the ring as Punk sat on a corner turnbuckle watching Michaels enter the ring.

Punk spoke before Michaels could speak, ignoring HBK and addressing Hunter - or Stephanie - that he's waiting for him. Punk then asked Michaels if he has something to say. Michaels said he gets Punk's obsession with The Authority, then was interrupted by a "You Sold Out" chant. The chant died out, then Michaels joked that they couldn't keep it up and got blown up.

Michaels said Punk needs to get over his obsession with The Authority, then noted Punk should be upset with him for superkicking him. Michaels then lost his place and lines, pausing to try to remember what he was supposed to say. Punk tried to get the segment back on track that the 15-year-old in him kind of liked getting superkicked, but if Michaels kicks him in the face again, he'll kick him in the face. The crowd "oohed," then Michaels said Punk needs to be more concerned about his opponents tonight. Pause before The Shield's music played to bring out Punk's opponents. Cole said Punk's partners will be announced next.

[ JC's Reax: Ignoring the part where Michaels appeared to forget his lines, the takeaway was apparently supposed to be Hunter ducking Punk and sending Michaels out to the ring to create some distance from Punk. Overall, the tone of the overly-scripted exchange seemed to douse water on a potentially heated Punk-Hunter match. It just seemed like unnecessary use of Michaels, whose appearances should be special and treated as such. ]

[Commercial Break at 9:43]

- In-ring: C.M. Punk was standing by in the ring staring down The Shield. Jerry Lawler then stood up at the announce table to reveal the vote on who should team with Punk - the winner was Usos with 57 percent. Usos hit ringside, talked strategy with Punk, and entered the ring as WWE focused on Reigns having a big shiner following TLC last night.

5 -- C.M. PUNK & THE USOS vs. THE SHIELD (U.S. champion DEAN AMBROSE & ROMAN REIGNS & SETH ROLLINS) -- six-man tag match

Basic action as the two teams felt each other out. They were clearly conserving and stretching for two segments.

[Commercial Break at 9:52]

Back from break, Rollins cut off an Uso comeback. Meanwhile, Cole and Lawler brought up Shield having dissension issues, but JBL shot down any notion of that. The audacity. The crowd tried to rally behind the Usos with a "C-M-Punk" chant, but Shield retained control. Jimmy Uso eventually caught Rollins with a cross-body splash, but Reigns cut off Uso. "You gotta fight!" Punk told Jimmy as Raw hit the top of the hour.

[Q9 -- third hour] Uso broke free of Reigns and finally got a tag to Punk, popping the crowd. Punk delivered high knees to Shield members, then the action broke down. Uso threw Reigns to the outside, then delivered a big splash.

Back in the ring, Punk and Ambrose were legal. Punk climbed to the top for a Macho Man elbow drop, and he connected for a two count. Punk wanted a GTS, but Rollins ran into the ring to break it up. Meanwhile, Reigns blind-tagged, Punk dropped Ambrose with a GTS, and Reigns smashed Punk with the Spear. Reigns pinned Punk for the win, then sold his injured eye.

WINNERS: Shield at 16:20. Indeed, subtraction by addition with Punk losing a match with two partners after winning by himself last night. And, Even Steven booking with Shield getting their win back on TV. So...what was the point of the PPV last night?

- Earlier Tonight: Randy Orton was honored. Then, John Cena interrupted and tried to book Orton in a title match against Daniel Bryan, but The Authority turned it into a non-title encounter.

- Still to come: Orton vs. Bryan.

[Commercial Break at 10:07]

- Announcers: Cole read a poll on which Superstar should get coal in his or her stocking this Christmas. Stephanie McMahon edged out A.J. Lee for the victory. Cole and Co. then hyped the "WWE 2K14" video game.

Suddenly, the Wyatts's video interruption played. In a dark room, Bray Wyatt paced and talked about the effort to take down The Machine being a long and daunting process. Wyatt said Daniel Bryan is a mere pissant and he offered to take away the pain. Then, he looked down toward the ground and said he finally understands what Sister Abigail wanted from him all along. Bray vowed to make Bryan burn, then the camera spun around to show what Bray, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan were watching as Bray spoke: the rocking chair moving, apparently representing Abigail's spirit. Or, that Bray has been sitting on Abigail all this time.

[Q10] [Commercial Break at 10:15]

Back from break, WWE ran a Royal Rumble plug sponsored by a tax service. Already in the ring for the next match were Natalya and the Bella Twins. A.J. Lee's music then played to bring out the Divas champion, Tamina, and Alicia Fox.

6 -- Divas champion A.J. LEE & TAMINA SNUKA & ALICIA FOX vs. NATALYA & BRIE BELLA & NIKKI BELLA -- six-Divas tag match

As the match started, Cole recapped the Season Finale of "Total Divas" last night, stressing the Bella Twins's relationship statuses with Daniel Bryan and John Cena. Or, you could read Michael Cupach's recap on the Main Listing of PWTorch.com.

In and out tags early on before Tamina settled things down working on Brie. A.J. and Nikki then tagged in for their teams. Tamina asserted herself with a superkick to Nikki's mouth, then A.J. smashed Nikki with another kick to the face for a three count. Post-match, Nikki sold intense facial pain as the heels celebrated on the outside.

WINNERS: Team A.J. at 5:14.

- Still to come: Orton vs. Bryan tonight. The announcers continued to avoid saying "non-title" to continue playing up the idea of the match still being important.

- Tribute to the Troops preview: Saturday, December 28 on NBC.

[Commercial Break at 10:25]

- Vignette: Mark Henry is Good Santa and Hornswoggle and the Bella Twins are good helpers. An elementary school kid sat on Henry's lap and said he's scared about Christmas being cancelled. Henry said he's the Good Santa and will make sure it's the merriest Christmas of them all. Because that's what Santa does. Next week, it's Good Santa vs. Bad Santa.

[Q11] Backstage: Renee Young was standing by to welcome in a now calmed-down WWE World Hvt. champion Randy Orton. Renee tried to congratulate Orton on being champion, but Orton flipped out again about having to beat Daniel Bryan again. Orton asked when The Authority listens to the audience, calling it Bizzaroworld around here. Orton frantically told everyone in the arena, locker room, and WWE Universe to bend over and kiss his ass. Orton, sounding like he was channeling Clark W. Griswold with the delivery, let his statement linger as he stopped in his tracks, ending the promo. Orton left, then Renee Young sold being taken aback by Orton's thoughts.

- In-ring: Daniel Bryan was introduced to the ring for the main event.

- Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels just tweeted: "Nothing like a last minute phone call...however, it's always nice to see everybody!" That would explain the segment with C.M. Punk.

[Commercial Break at 10:32]

- Back from break, Cole announced Cody Rhodes & Goldust against The Wyatts in tag action for Friday's Smackdown.

- In-ring: Randy Orton walked out to the ring holding both the WWE Title and World Title belts. Is the implication that the Unified WWE World Hvt. Title is so huge that it requires two belts? As Orton slowly entered the ring, Cole recapped how Bryan was screwed on four PPVs. Lawler said Bryan's "road to the title" has been bumpy, then adjusted his wording that Bryan's attempt to be WWE champion has been bumpy.

7 -- Unified WWE World Hvt. champion RANDY ORTON vs. DANIEL BRYAN -- non-title match

The match started 20 minutes before the top of the hour, suggesting a PPV-length main event or a post-match angle to close Raw. Bryan started off in control, catching Orton off-guard. Cole talked up Orton having double the workload as top champion, then Bryan lit up Orton with rapid-fire kicks to an injured left knee. Bryan continued to work on Orton's knee before landing a series of European Uppercuts. Meanwhile, Cole and Lawler tried to break down JBL on commentary, the culmination of nearly three hours of work.

[Q12] Orton bit his way out of a submission hold, drawing a reprimand from referee Charles Robinson. Orton tried a Thesz Press, missed, seemed to knee Bryan in the face on the way down, but Bryan flowed into a half-crab. Orton fought the hold, then reached the bottom rope for a break. Orton then came back with a knock-down clothesline that put both men on the mat.

Orton, now bleeding from the forehead, delivered a stomp to the elbow and Bryan unleashed a blood-curdling shout of pain. Bryan recovered to the corner and sold a left-elbow injury, then Orton began working on Bryan. Orton targeted the left elbow again and let out another shout, which Cole called a "wild scream." As Bryan recovered, Orton did his signature pose.

Orton tried to follow up, but Bryan bit him in the forehead and used his good arm to set up Orton for a dropkick to the outside. Bryan then measured Orton for a suicide dive to the outside, but Orton moved and Bryan crashed elbow-first into the mat. The ref checked on Bryan as Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break at 10:50]

Back from break, Orton was working on Bryan mid-ring. Also, Cole relayed news that Orton's cut was tended to during the break. The match moved to the floor, where Orton posted Bryan elbow-first. Back in the ring, Orton made a cover for a nearfall. He then took Bryan up-top for a superplex, but Bryan escaped a pin attempt.

At 18:00, Orton stood up, waited for Bryan to get up, and tried a right hand, but Bryan dramatically blocked and landed a blow of his own. Bryan then ran over Orton with a mid-ring collision, sending both men to the mat. Bryan got up first and smashed Orton with a corner dropkick, then another. Bryan returned the top-rope favor with a huracanrana, then covered the champ for a close two count.

The two men sat back-to-back in the middle of the ring, both selling immense pain and unable to follow up. Bryan then got up and headbutted Orton, but Orton responded with a backbreaker. Both men sold on the mat again. At 20:00, Orton slowly tried to follow up, but Bryan went for the Yes! Lock. Orton blocked, though, and tried to slingshot Bryan over the top rope to the floor, but Bryan skinned the cat. Orton caught Bryan, though, and dropped him with a second-rope DDT.

[Q13 -- over-run] At 21:00, Orton went to That Place preparing for an RKO, but Bryan blocked and scored a close nearfall of his own. Loud "Yes!" chants from the crowd before Bryan climbed to the top turnbuckle. Orton cut him off, though, and the crowd was taken out momentarily. Orton paused to contemplate his next move, conference with Bryan under their breath, and attempt another superplex, but Bryan blocked this attempt. "Yes!" chants with each jab blocking the superplex. Bryan then stood on the top turnbuckle and delivered a flying headbutt. One, two, kick-out.

At 23:00, Bryan stood up and kicked Orton in the gut over and over. Bryan missed a corner dropkick, though, and crashed down to the mat. Orton tried to follow with a small package, but Bryan grabbed Orton's hand and flowed into a Yes! Lock. Orton hit the bottom rope to break, though, before rolling to the outside. Bryan nailed a suicide dive, surprising Orton, then smashed him into the barricade.

Back in the ring, Bryan climbed to the top turnbuckle for a missile dropkick. Bryan connected, then got himself and the crowd fired up. Yes! kicks over and over to Orton's chest. But, he missed with the roundhouse kick. Orton then low-blowed Bryan from behind, getting himself DQ'ed. "Pathetic!" Cole said on commentary.

WINNER: Bryan via DQ at 24:58. And, Bryan finally gets his win over Orton..... In any event, excellent TV main event. Both Bryan and Orton looked great, Bryan looked like a fearless babyface who can fight despite an "injured" limb, and Orton came across like a crazed man who still plays by his own rules and doesn't care what the consequences are. Removing The Authority from the picture and just letting the wrestlers do their thing was a breath of fresh air here; smart decision putting the focus on the wrestlers who sell tickets and PPVs. (****)

Post-match: John Cena's music played and Cena stormed the ring to attack Orton. Cena beat up Orton, then threw him over the top rope to the outside. Cena checked on Bryan and asked for medical help, taking his eyes off Orton, who snuck back into the ring to drop Cena with an RKO.

As the dust settled, Orton received his title belts and stood tall as JBL agreed with the indignation from Cole and Lawler that they should have seen an ending to the main event. Orton's music played as Cena and Bryan recovered in the ring. Cole said whether you like his antics or not, they all have to live with it. Raw signed off five minutes past the top of the hour with Cole reluctantly labeling Orton the Face of WWE.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Orton vs. Cena vs. Bryan at the Royal Rumble? It's the match Torch readers voted they would have wanted to see at TLC last night (over the Cena vs. Orton one-on-one match and other combinations), and it will be interesting to see if WWE goes that route at the Rumble, especially after Bryan beat Orton on Raw tonight to go with Cena having a re-match clause.

Overall, Raw continues to hit speedbumps of too much filler content and corporate-friendly zaniness that weighs down a three-hour TV program. The main event more than made up for it this week, but it's rare to see a main event that good on Raw.

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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CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 3/24: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - Taker & Lesnar face-to-face, Cena gets spooked, no Bryan, WM30 developments, more
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