Mark Henry Returns As Cena Leads Troops Against The Shield On Raw

RAW_1028_Photo_171-1While last week was highlighted by Brock Lesnar giving Vince McMahon an F-5 (so that he could have hip surgery), the week left us with several questions:

What happens to Paul Heyman? After the reveal that he was behind the Shield he was certainly about to get fired but what now? For whatever reason you can only be fired by McMahon in person so does he stick around like nothing happened?

What happens to the Shield? So we now know Heyman was paying them off. So now what do they do? All signs point to a 3 on 3 match against Cena, Sheamus and Ryback. Will the group be taken apart or will they thrive together? Most importantly will they be booked in more matches?

Why the hell are Khali and Swagger being considered for the Elimination Chamber? This year’s Elimination Chamber PPV only has one actual chamber match and it’s for the #1 contender to the World Heavyweight Championship. So with only six spots available, how do Khali and Jack Swagger even get mentioned? I like Swags but his return was as unhyped as I’ve ever seen and he looks like the same mid-carder he was when he left. Khali on the other hand proved how useless he was in last year’s chamber. And in the rumble. And every match he’s had since 2008. Yet when Booker T made the announcement, Khali and Swagger joined Ziggler, Orton, Sheamus, Kane and Daniel Bryan in the ring. I get the past champions thing but where are Barrett, Kofi, Miz and Cesaro? Sheamus will be involved in the Shield match and Ziggler doesn’t want in because he has the MITB case so that takes two big names out of it. Mark Henry or Christian should be considered too since they should be coming back soon. For that matter how about either Rhodes or Sandow now that they split?

Speaking of which, where do Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes go now that they have dissolved (but will remain best friends)? Both have plenty of potential in singles action but something needs to give. Momentum is moving toward Cody taking on his brother Goldust possibly as soon as WrestleMania. Sandow however doesn’t have an immediate direction at the moment. I was sure they would have claimed the tag team titles by now, but it looks like that won’t be happening after all.

Finally? What the F@%& is up with Tensai? Monster to jobber to joke to face? I’m done.

Just like last week, this week opens with CM Punk storming down the ramp and grabbing a mic. He demands to now be announced as “The People’s Champion, CM Punk.” He just keeps finding new ways to get heat. He’s still pissed because he feels he was screwed by someone who doesn’t deserve to be the WWE Champion. He then talks about how he has no involvement with the Shield despite Paul Heyman suggesting the contrary in the video. Punk proceeds to ask people in the audience if they saw Punk in the video, and that if Heyman says it wasn’t him in the video then he believes him. He then says Vince McMahon is crazy and wealthy enough to doctor a video making it seem like Heyman was involved and that the fans were stupid enough to believe it. He adds that Vince got what he deserved by needing hip surgery. After continuing to bully the crowd and talk about how he’s the real champion, Booker T comes out (Vickie not present I guess). After taking 3 years to say that he’s the Smackdown General Manager, Booker says that he is in charge of determining Punk’s fate tonight. He decides to let the fans choose between Punk’s past opponents (on the WWE App of course!). The options are Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton and Chris Jericho. Punk calls Booker T drunk at that the fans don’t even have smartphones to download the app. Since the demos during the Slammys were so horrible, the WWE decided to prerecord how to download and use the app. What a mess.

Cesaro's face is great
Cesaro’s face is great

The opening match of the show has none other than Ryback. He’ll go against United States Champion Antonio Cesaro. Rumors spread recently that there will not be a MITB match at WrestleMania 29, but Ryback would have likely won if there was. Not sure why he would need to sneak up and steal the belt that way but it doesn’t matter now because it isn’t happening. The match is a lot of Cesaro trying to get the jump on Ryback only to be overpowered every team. Antonio then get put up in the tree of woe where he got stomped out of the ring (that’s new from Ryback). Cesaro eventually got some offense going with some uppercuts and a hard clothesline from behind. Eventually Ryback has enough and throws Cesaro around like a ragdoll. Cesaro tries to leave the arena (like he has the last couple matches) but Ryback follows and brings him back. Cesaro takes advantage as Ryback tries to get back in the ring, pulling his neck down on the top rope and putting his head in the post. Ryback almost gets counted out but makes it in just before ten and Cesaro goes on the attack again, but Ryback gets a knee up as Cesaro charged him in the corner and hit him with a meathook clothesline. Cesaro tried to leave again but Ryback pulled him back and hit a second meathook clothesline. Ryback finally hits Shell Shocked and takes the match. It was interesting in that when Cesaro wasn’t trying to escape he was doing pretty well against him. Ryback on the other hand looked fairly vulnerable by his standards.

Throughout the early portion of the show Orton, Mysterio and Jericho all went on WWE Active to state their case for facing Punk. They are all just horrible and not needed. Again, if we need this much filler to get through three hours then why not just go with two. I guess Vickie Guerrero is in the ring because she is talking to Cena backstage about how he plans on calling out the Shield by himself in the middle of the ring. Cena says the Shield needs to be stopped now. This was the only thing that happened between commercials following the first match. Unless you count spotting Chilli from TLC, showing a Shield highlight video or previewing what had already been previewed for the rest of the show.

After all that waiting what is the next match? Santino versus Jack Swagger. You can cut the tension with a knife. With Booker T hyping him up, Swagger dominates Santino. Swaggerbomb, ankle lock and done. This should have been his first match back instead of last week against Kofi. He looks like a grizzly bear now. Also, the ankle lock is now called the Patriot Act. Let’s see how long it takes for that one to catch on. Hey more commercials!

Cole has to apologize because the app crashed. They say it’s because so many people are voting but it’s possible it just crashed outright. Alberto Del Rio finally makes his way to the ring without Ricardo Rodriguez. Ricardo was attacked by Big Show on Smackdown so who knows how long he’ll be gone. Del Rio goes against Cody Rhodes and almost immediately gets taken down with a reverse hurricarana off the top rope. Rhodes then slapped Alberto and got hit with an enziguri in return. Cody turned things around for a minute but Del Rio hit a spinning back breaker and a side kick to regain control. Del Rio went for the cross arm breaker but Rhodes escaped and hit Cross Rhodes for a two count. Cody moved in again but Del Rio moved away, applied the arm breaker and got the win via submission. I was worried Cody would get squashed for the second week in a row but it turned into a pretty good match. Alberto grabbed the mic afterwords and talking about how the crowd opened his eye toward respected the hard working people he used to look down on, and he doesn’t want people to be bullied like Big Show bullied Ricardo. He’s almost embarrassingly happy. Big Show shows up on the big screen via satellite to say that he wants a rematch at Elimination Chamber. So I guess that’s confirmed now. Show tell Del Rio not to try and find him because he’ll beat him worse than he beat Ricardo (burn!).

Chris Jericho won the right to face CM Punk with 57% of the fan vote. We all know the WWE loves messing with social media numbers to get what they want but I have to think this is what the people wanted. It’s the best possible match.

World's Strongest Comeback
World’s Strongest Comeback

Backstage Daniel Bryan is blaming Kane for their loss to the Masked Mexicans on Smackdown. Bryan tells him to stay backstage during his singles match against Rey Mysterio so that Kane doesn’t ruin anything. That match is next and Mysterio has control early until Bryan catches him going for a hurricarana and slams Rey back on Daniel’s knees. Great move. With Rey in the tree of woe (again tonight?) Bryan runs in to spear him but Mysterio moves at the last minute, causing Bryan to run into the ring post and level things off. Daniel starts working Rey’s arm and throws him out of the ring, then dropkicks Mysterio as he tries to get back in. He tries the trick again but Mysterio hits him with a forearm to turn the tide. Bryan catches the 619 attempt and applies the NO Lock but Mysterio breaks out by turning it into a pin attempt. Rey then hits the 619 but Bryan moves away from the headbutt off the top rope, applies the NO Lock and gets the win via submission. Pretty good match from both me..MARK HENRY IS BACK! He heads right for Bryan and takes him out. He then grabs Mysterio and lands a running powerslam. Sin Cara comes out to help but Henry gives him the World’s Strongest Slam. Rey tries to fight back but gets laid out with a WSS as well. Henry then splashes on Rey from the second rope and yells “THAT’S WHAT I DO!” Straight gangsta homey. So he better be in the Elimination Chamber match. Right now it looks like Orton, Henry, Swagger, Bryan, Kane, Mysterio. Backstage Bryan was yelling at Kane for listening to him and not coming out to help. Kane says that words hurt and nothing is more powerful than their friendship. Bryan asks “really?” To which Kane responds “Hell no.” I see what they did there.

Cut to Big Show via satellite. He is on the phone checking if Del Rio signed the contract yet. The door knocks and it’s room service. When the server asks for a tip, Show tells him to get a better job and shows him out the door. I get the idea of checking into his status, but what was the point of that?

Sheamus versus Kane next. Starts off with a fast pace and Kane gaining the edge, countering a kick to the head with a sideslam. Sheamus’ matches are usually rough and this is no different. He gets back into it with an Irish Curse back breaker and clotheslines him out of the ring. Kane lands on his feet though which he hasn’t done in a while. Kane then catches the Brogue Kick but Sheamus escapes a chokeslam. Kane then escapes White Noise only for Sheamus to wiggle out of a Tombstone. Kane finally lands a running DDT when Daniel Bryan runs out and starts arguing with Kane about not coming out earlier. Sheamus then hits the distracted Kane with a Brogue Kick and takes the match. Bryan says he’s sorry but looks like he’s smiling and Cole makes a big deal out of that. This had the makings of a great match but they didn’t let it materialize. Team Hell No needs to lose the tag titles somehow so they can go back to singles matches. I have dreams Bryan winning the chamber match to meet Ziggler (who cashes in the briefcase) for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. I think it’s more likely Kane and Daniel Bryan face each other to end their rivalry/friendship once and for all. I can dream though can’t I?

Enough of wrestling, here’s Miz TV! Paul Heyman cuts Miz off during his monologue to introduce and defend himself. Heyman offers his best wishes to Vince McMahon, and Miz cuts him off to throw his role in Brock Lesnar attacking Vince. Heyman claims that he did not know Lesnar was going to show up and that he’s sorry it happened. Paul says he tried to stop Lesnar and Miz switches to the tape with Heyman and the Shield. Heyman then says that Punk was screwed and should still be the champion and will reclaim his belt. Miz accuses him of changing the topic and Heyman says he’ll answer all of Miz’s questions after Miz answers his. Vickie Guerrero then cuts them both off and says that Paul Heyman had nothing to do with Brock Lesnar because Vickie resigned him herself. She did it to impress Vince in order to be promoted to permanent GM, and had no idea he would come out and do what he did. Now Heyman is consoling her. The heat is raining in from the crowd. This is pretty good stuff. Heyman proposes a moment of silence for McMahon, while Vickie suggests group prayer. Miz does his “really” thing before calling them both liars. He says that as soon as Vince comes back he’ll fire Heyman and Guerrero, throwing in some fat jokes until Brock Lesnar comes out! Despite Heyman yelling “Miz not now,” Miz shoves Lesnar, leading to Brock clotheslining Miz and throwing him out of the ring. Lesnar then takes a page from Ryback, throwing the set furniture out of the ring. Miz attacks Lesnar from behind but Brock quickly gains control, hitting Miz with an F-5 (Cole had the quote of the night “watch the couch!”). Heyman then jumps in to stop Lesnar from continuing, saying Miz is sorry and apologizes. Once again Heyman seems to have little to no control over Brock. A good job not having Lesnar talk. They leave together with Paul telling Brock he understands how protective he is but needs to tone it down. Their relationship is turning into Geroge and Lennie from Of Mice and Men. I wonder when Heyman will shoot Lesnar in the back of the head. And you get to tend the rabbits Brock.

Every Lesnar segment ends with a broadway show styled scene like this
Every Lesnar segment ends with a broadway show styled scene like this

Randy Orton now in a match against Wade Barrett. We get to hear from Bo Dallas during Wade’s entrance and he is just way too cheery. Anyway here’s Barrett and Orton for the millionth time. I feel like Barrett only goes against Orton or Sheamus. In that respect Bo Dallas is a nice change of pace. Outside the ring Orton hits a back body drop onto the barricade. That’s becoming a regular move for him lately. After Randy goes to the ropes Wade jumps up and tries to clothesline him over the top rope but he didn’t have enough momentum and Barrett repeats the spot on the other side of the ring. The crowd is not feeling it at all. Slow pace and not entertaining. Orton gets going and its so weird to me when Randy starts waving directions at his opponent and they actually follow them. Barrett dodges an RKO attempt but misses on a big boot himself, giving Orton the opening to hit the RKO and win a crappy match.

Early match of the year
Early match of the year

Main event time as Chris Jericho takes on People’s Champion CM Punk. After both men milk the crowd Jericho takes charge early with a flurry of chops going into a suplex. Punk recovers, working on Chris’ shoulders and back. Punk taunts for a tornado DDT but Jericho turns him away, clotheslining him out of the ring, then driving him into the announce table with a baseball slide. Jericho then grows for a springboard dropkick off the second rope but Punk catches him and drives his throat into the top rope. From there, Punk works on the back of Jericho’s neck with leg drops and holds. Jericho then ducks under the springboard clothesline and gains momentum with some shoulder blocks leading into and one handed smash off the top rope. Punk puts his knees up to block the lionsault, but Chris hangs on and tries for the Walls of Jericho. Punk then misses the high knee in the corner, leading to Jericho landing a superplex. Great match but I have to say, Punk lost more steam than I thought he would without the belt. This is specifically the case since the champ isn’t even there to feud with. Anyway, after a two count Jericho goes for the lionsault again only for Punk to catch him on his shoulders. Punk attempts the GTS but Jericho rolls out and tries the Walls again. Punk however turns that into a small package but Jericho rolls it over and Punk kicks out on two and hits the neck breaker. Fantastic sequence of moves. Punk hits the high knee this time and goes for the flying elbow but Jericho moves away to finally connect on the lionsault (third time’s a charm right?) and a two count. Chris pulls Punk up only to be hit with a kick to the head. Punk then applies the anaconda vice in the middle of the ring but Jericho squirms his way to the rope, breaking the hold. The crowd chants “this is awesome,” to which Punk responds by saying “oh first it was overrated, sit down marks.” Yeah, CM Punk called out marks mid match. Forget what I said earlier, this is why he is so amazing. Punk brings Jericho down off the top rope and goes for the GTS again, however Chris blocks it and applies the Walls of Jericho in the middle of the ring. Not the lion tamer. Now it’s Punk desperately making it to the rope, staying alive. Jericho again tries to apply the Walls but Punk spins him away, driving his head into the second turnbuckle. Punk then drives Jericho into the ring post and hits the GTS, winning perhaps the best match of 2013 so far. Excellent from beginning to end and you can’t be surprised considering the PPV matches they had last year.

So good it gets two pictures
So good it gets two pictures

Following the match was the announcement we all knew about already. Bruno Sammartino has finally reached an agreement with the WWE and will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The man holds the championship streak CM Punk targeted and berated, and will surely never be matched. He is a man who needs to be included in the Hall and it’s a very good thing for wrestling.

Backstage Josh Matthews is asking John Cena why he is calling out the Shield. To sum up, the Shield pushed, and he is pushing back. Again, we didn’t need that to exist.

Backstage Big Show is in the middle of his meal when the door knocks. It’s a guy delivering the signed contract for the Championship match. After he signs it, he opens the door again and Del Rio is there. He starts attacking Show in the hallway but Show brings him down with some big kicks. From there he throws him into a table and starts kicking him around the area. Del Rio sprays him with a fire extinguisher and then hits him with it, knocking him out. The elevator opens and Alberto tells the people that his friend had some bad mexican food. Pretty good segment as far as out of arena fights go. Wasn’t too long, which is very important.

Back in the ring Brad Maddox is explaining that he gave Vince the footage revealing that Heyman was behind his and the Shield’s involvement in Punk’s matches. Maddox declares himself the hero and not John Cena, who will teach the Shield about justice. Brad then calls out the Shield, who show up with WWE mics already in hand. Ambrose’s response is “nobody ever said justice is free.” Maddox tells the Shield to bring it and they do, attacking Brad and hitting the triple power bomb. John Cena’s music hits and Cena comes through the crowd. Ryback and Sheamus do the same and the Shield are surrounded. They start heading up the ramp but the rest of the locker room comes out to stop them. The Shield heads back in the ring as the three top faces come in and attack. After some one on one fighting the Shield retreat through the crowd as Cena’s music plays to end the show. Pretty anticlimactic ending but one thing is clear, the Shield is going to start performing in matches again.

By the way, with no Rock appearance, this is the first Raw in a while where the WWE Championship did not appear. Punk even showed up after his surgery. That seemed important to me. Thanks Rocky.

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