Good. Me either. Let’s move on.
John Cena opens this week’s show with a brand new yellow shirt (available on WWEShop.com) to talk about the match that he didn’t care enough about to promote last week. What’s his big message for his first promo in two weeks? The Rock’s time is up, Cena’s time is now. The same damn thing he said the last time he spoke. Not wrestled by the way, just spoke. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but thankfully the Prime Time Players came out, and for some reason Titus O’Neil is wearing a prison suit and an afro wig. Titus says that he is not Titus O’Neil, he is in fact Darren Young’s uncle, Rufus “Pancake” Patterson. Why do they call him Pancake? Because he FLATTENS FOOLS that’s why! Anyway he says that like Cena, they are also ready for WrestleMania. Cena responds by pandering to the crowd by mentioning all of their sports teams (except the Pirates) and then tries to blow off the Prime Time Players because he is occupied with his match with the Rock (who isn’t in the building tonight).
Titus Rufus responds by saying that the crowd doesn’t want to see John Cena, they want to see the Prime Time Players. I’ll be damned if the crowd isn’t starting to dig it. Patterson ads that Darren Young looks like a black John Cena, so since Cena is on Fruity Pebbles boxes that Young should be on Cocoa Pebbles boxes. Now they are starting to get on my side. Since Rufus is too old to take on Cena himself, Darren is going to beat him instead, adding that afterwords Cena will be crying on the ramp just like at the end of last year’s WrestleMania. Cena takes that last comment seriously and accepts the challenge to a match. Cena hits a running bulldog and tries to apply the STF before “Rufus” pulls him out and our first match of the night is underway. After the commercial break, Cena hits the five knuckle shuffle and the Attitude Adjustment to win the match, declaring himself ready for the main event at WrestleMania. If beating Darren Young is all it takes, then a lot of guys are ready for the main event. Very, safe, booking.
On to someone who is seen almost as often as the Rock, David Otunga is in the ring to take on Ryback. It was announced on Smackdown that Ryback would join Sheamus and Randy Orton to take on the Shield, but we all know he is going to be replaced by the Big Show so that he can face Mark Henry instead. WWE.com then made it official by accident went they leaked a photo of the match featuring Big Show in Ryback’s face. Ryback absolutely destroyed Otunga, hitting all of his moves with no offense from David whatsoever. Just like the Cena match before it. So far this is playing out a lot like the old Saturday morning shows they used to have in the 80’s. After the match, Ryback cut a promo about his WrestleMania match against the Shield, mentioning that he will cross Mark Henry’s path sometime before then. Henry decided now was as good of a time as any and started to head down the ramp. Suddenly Teddy Long found his big boy pants and, along with Vicki Guerrero, informed them that Ryback has been pulled from the six man tag match and will face Mark Henry at WreslteMania. Well if it’s already leaked they might as well not waste any more time delaying it. Ryback celebrates by giving Otunga a second Shell Shocked, screaming “THIS IS YOU” at Henry. I’m really looking forward to this match.
Fandango is now actually in a wrestling ring! He’s not wrestling of course, but this is as close as he’s gotten. They are really putting a lot into this gimmick and it is just not working. He’s scheduled to face Khali, who is accompanied by Natala. They were supposed to square off on Smackdown but Khali couldn’t pronounce his name (big surprise). This time around, Fandango hits on Natalya and tries to get her to say his name instead. Natalya doesn’t bite, telling Khali to go get him. Since Khali is about as fast as dial-up internet, Fandango got away and once again we don’t get a match. Once again I don’t care.
R-Truth is net to the ring in some type of weird white overalls thing to take on Damien Sandow. Naturally, Damien is not a big fan of R-Truth, saying that the R stands for repugnant. Truth tells Damien that he’s going to get got and the match is on. This is the first competitive match of the show as they trade blows before Sandow starts to gain control. He hits a snap suplex and applies a chin lock, followed by a flurry of knees to the gut and his fancy pants elbow. Truth starts to come back with a couple of clotheslines and a spinning kick leading into a leaping scissor kick. Sandow gets knocked out of the ring and decides he’s had enough, heading backstage and taking the count out. Truth wins as Cody Rhodes is watching backstage with the Bella Twins. Kaitlyn comes by to tell Cody that he has plans later and can’t hang out or whatever they were going to do (sex) and the Bella’s are all, “whatever.” Kaitlyn’s all “meeeeeh you can have him” and “all of you have mustaches and junk.” Then she left and Cody was all “hmmm the sex would have been fun, but these are twins.” I think that’s what happened. I wasn’t really paying attention. Is Cody gonna turn face? Not sure what I think of that.
UNDERTAKER IS GOING TO SPEAK! Showing up to Raw for the third week in a row, the Undertaker is finally going to do something besides stare at people. After he raises the house lights, ‘Taker lowers them again to talk in his creepy blue lights (because they’re spoooooooky). He says Punk sealed his fate when he made things personal by taking the urn. He’s going to hurt him, and hurt him bad. He says Punk has one chance to save his soul, and that’s by returning the urn right now. Instead, Punk shows up on the titantron doing a Paul Bearer impression while using the urn as a ventriloquist dummy. He then adds that if the Undertaker gets counted out or disqualified that it still counts as a loss. Punk says you could call the Undertaker the best in the world at WrestleMania, but Punk is the best in the world all year. While throwing the urn around to himself, he adds that the Undertaker has special powers and answers to a higher calling. Punk then says that he doesn’t have special powers or answer to a higher power, because he IS a higher power. Punk says that he is the only one willing to bare the physical and emotional burden it takes to beat the streak, doing whatever it takes to win. He then drops the urn on the ground before picking it up again as the Undertaker watches in the ring, seething as the segment ends. Pretty good promo. It’s nice how they never mention the feud they had back in 2009. Clever stuff, WWE creative.
Following up the promo is the Undertaker’s brother Kane, teaming up with Daniel Bryan against Epico and Primo. Needless to say, Kane is pissed. He opens things up by kicking Epico out of the ring. Bryan then tags himself in to try to calm him down and Kane begrudgingly exits. Bryan then takes on Primo, evading a sunset flip attempt and hitting a roundhouse kick to the head before Epico gets tagged in for more of the same. Rosa and Primo then distract Bryan, giving Epico the opening to take the momentum back. I think there would be a bigger reaction if Rosa danced in the ring while Epico and Primo wrestled on the outside instead. Bryan takes a beating for a while before finally tagging Kane back in to steamroll over Primo. After a sidewalk slam and top rope smash, Kane sets up for the chokeslam when AJ comes out of nowhere, skipping around the ring wearing red and black. Primo uses the distraction to try to roll up Kane but Kane kicks out, Bryan kicks Primo out of the ring and Kane chokeslams Epico (now the legal man) to win the match while AJ looks on like a psycho. I missed psycho whore AJ. She skips off and Team Hell No looks confused in victory.
Backstage Chris Jericho is being interviewed by Josh Matthews about his triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship when Fandango pops in. Jericho makes fun of his name and basically his entire gimmick before Fandango storms off saying that Jericho will learn to say his name. He storms off as Jericho says he didn’t even get his movie tickets yet (FINALLY SOMEONE SAID IT). He said he wants two tickets for Dead Man Down (sure he does). Is Fandango going to cost Jericho the IC belt? Is Fandango going to make his ring debut at WrestleMania against Jericho? This seems terrifyingly possible right now.
Cody Rhodes gets the opportunity to job to World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio came out to a brand new rendition of his theme, which is much more festive and even more Mexican than before. I’m betting he comes out to a live mariachi band at WrestleMania. Del Rio takes control early, bringing Rhodes down and working the arm, adding in some sweet mat wrestling in the process before Rhodes starting to take back momentum. Cody hits a suplex and applies a leg chin lock (chin lock with his legs) and dodges Del Rio running into the corner, forcing Alberto into the ring post. Cody tries to keep the pressure on in the corner but the ref makes him back off, giving Del Rio the space to hit a side kick to the gut (and proving that the refs are biased). Alberto hits a sweep kick to the back and then kicks Cody out of the ring. Del Rio went for it again when Cody tried to get back in the ring, but Rhodes moves away as Alberto fell through the ropes, and Cody followed up with a disaster kick off the barricade to regain control. This is easily the best match of the night so far (not saying much based on what it’s followed) as both men are putting on a good show. Back in the ring, Del Rio went for a second rope moonsault but Cody rolled away and Alberto landed on his bad knee (injured on Main Event by Jack Swagger) and Cody took control again and started working the knees. Rhodes then tries to land a suplex from the second rope (what’s with the second rope today?) but Alberto fights back and throws Cody back down face first. Del Rio then gets going, hitting the spinning back breaker and the sidekick to the face for a two count. Alberto then starts a clap going by slapping his arm (is that really a thing now?) and goes in for the cross armbreaker. Cody avoids it however and hits a moonsault for a long two count. USA chants start to get going as Del Rio hits a back stabber for another two count (take that Alberto!). Cody avoids the enziguri but Del Rio applies the cross arm breaker and gets Rhodes to tap out. The victory is short lived however as Jack Swagger runs in to attack Del Rio from behind. Ricardo runs in to help Alberto and Swagger tosses him aside, giving Alberto the chance to fight back, taking the fight outside the ring where Jack is laid out after being thrown into the barricade. Del Rio then switches his attention to Zeb Colter who is nearby. Del Rio gets his hands on Zeb but Swagger attacks Alberto before he can do any damage, throwing him into the steel steps and over the announce table as USA chants come down from the Pittsburgh crowd. So that’s two heels essentially getting cheered over the Mexican World Heavyweight Champion. On the way out, Swagger clotheslines Ricardo and applies the Patriot Act, breaking Rodriguez’s ankle. He’s left screaming in pain as the medical staff tries to work on him. Glad this feud is turning physical instead of all the Tea Party videos. Unfortunately, Cody Rhodes great performance will get lost in all this.
If you thought the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony was fully booked, think again. Booker T is now joining the rest of 2013’s class. I have no problem with Booker, but really? Did he need to be put into the hall of fame now? I know this isn’t Cooperstown but what’s the deal here? The best part of the reel they used was that it included an edited version of his infamous promo about Hulk Hogan (we comin’ for you ‘bleep’). I wonder if he’d be going if he wasn’t currently involved with WWE and provided them with tons of talent out of his wrestling school.
Randy Orton and Sheamus out next to take on Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre of 3MB. We’ll see how long it takes for Sheamus and Orton to add Big Show to their team. The faces use a lot of quick tags in getting all of their moves in. It’s not until Jinder Mahal provides a distraction that McIntyre finally establishes some offense against Sheamus. Sheamus fights back with a double axe handle on Drew coming down from the top rope, leading to a hot tag on Orton who takes care of Slater with a second rope DDT. Sheamus hits Drew and Jinder with Brogue Kicks so that Orton can hit Slater with an RKO to win the match. After the match the Shield comes down the steps to attack Orton and Sheamus. Before they can step in however, the Big Show runs down the ramp and into the ring to join the faces. Suddenly the Shield can’t get into the ring and they retreat back into the crowd. Show looks at Sheamus and Orton while pointing at the WrestleMania sign, leaving them to think about adding him to their team.
Time for match of the night consideration as Dolph Ziggler (and his crew) takes on Kofi Kingston. Cole brings up the fact that Ziggler has, with the help of Langston, beaten both tag team champions in singles action in the last two weeks. This adds to the rumor that Ziggler and Big E will team up to challenge Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships (AJ’s interference earlier helps as well). It makes sense and it gives us Bryan and Ziggler with a title on the line, making me almost kinda right. It’s also a match that wouldn’t take too much out of Dolph so that he can cash in his MITB briefcase later on. Maybe he wins two titles that night? I’m getting way ahead of myself. Kingston and Ziggler get a quick pace going early, both getting moves in before Kofi is slowed down when he misses on a splash in the corner. Dolph follows with a standing dropkick and headstand chinlock but misses on his splash in the corner give Kofi the opening to hit a standing dropkick of his own (not as pretty though). Kingston wiggles out of a sleeperhold to hit a springboard splash for a two count. Kofi connects on the boom drop but Ziggler ducks under Trouble in Paradise. Kofi then backflips out of another sleeper attempt and hits a swinging kick in the corner to Ziggler’s head. Kofi goes to the top rope but AJ gets on the ramp to cause a distraction. With Ziggler now outside the ring, Kofi goes to leap into him but Langston comes out from behind Dolph and slam Kingston down to the mat. Ziggler gets Kofi back in the ring and hits him with the Zig Zag to take the match. Dolph now has some momentum going after not winning for what seemed like forever. After the match Team Hell No came out to congratulate Dolph on being the only one to get Bryan and Kane on the same page. Kane says that he’s seen enough of Big E Langston outside the ring, and wants him inside. They challenge Dolph and Big E to a tag match, which AJ accepts under the condition that they put their titles on the line and have the match at WrestleMania. Dolph doesn’t seem too thrilled about the whole thing, but Bryan agrees and the match is on. See? We don’t need a GM to book matches. The wrestlers can just do it themselves.
Time for Wade Barrett to put his Intercontinental Championship on the line in a triple threat match against Chris Jericho and the Miz. Barrett strarts off by attacking Jericho and Miz, with Chris singling out Wade and throwing him out of the ring to make way for Miz and Jericho to square off. Miz leaves the ring to attack Barrett, so Jericho leaps over the top rope onto both of them. Back in the ring, It’s much like the majority of triple threat matches as one competitor ends up outside the ring most of the time so that only two men are in the ring for most of the match. This one takes a much faster pace though as only one or two moves get used before the guy on the outside jumps back in and kicks another man out. The highlight early on is a “super-superplex,” with Barrett hitting a superplex while Jericho slams down Wade from the floor. Somehow Jericho sells this as well despite not being hit. The pace evens out a little as Miz gets taken out by getting thrown into the ring post. This gets Jericho going against Wade as he gets a two count on a cross body splash from the top rope. Jericho hits the running bulldog but Miz pulls the rope down as Jericho was going for the lionsault. Barrett then hit Miz with a swinging side slam, but Miz came back to apply the figure four on Barrett. The hold was only broken up by Jericho coming in with a lionsault on Miz for a two count. With Miz out of the ring, Jericho locks the Walls of Jericho in on Barrett, which is broken up by the Miz going for the Skull Crushing Finale. Chris wiggles out of it but Miz ducks under a punch and sets it up again, tosses Barrett over the top rope while still holding onto Jericho. Chris rolls it into a schoolboy however for a close two count and hits a codebreaker to take out Miz. Barret then throws out Jericho and tries for the cover, but Jericho pulls Wade out of he ring and throws him into the barricade. Chris then gets back in the ring to pin but Miz kicks out on two. Great stretch of moves. Miz comes back with a DDT for another two count but misses on the leaping clothesline in the corner. Jericho then hits a springboard dropkick on Barrett, knocking him out of the ring again as Miz lands a big boot for another two count on Jericho. Jericho then misses on an enziguri, avoids the figure four and rolls up Miz for a two count. Chris then goes for a double axe handle off the second rope (the most dangerous rope) but Miz catches him and hits the SCF to lay out Jericho. Wade Barrett then runs in at the last moment to roll up Miz and steal the win via pinfall to retain his IC Title. Great match. Well done from beginning to end.
The show closes with Triple H coming out to decide if he is going to sign the contract for a match against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania (spoiler alert: he is). The catch is that Brock will add a stipulation to the match that Triple H won’t know until after he signs the contract. I like Triple H doing his full entrance with water spitting and screaming while a desk and office chairs are in the ring. I wonder if that’s how he walks into his office in Stanford. After all the spitting, Paul Heyman heads into the ring with the match contract and a team of security guards. Heyman recaps last week’s segment (that I summed up at the start of this paragraph) and explains that he brought the security because Triple H is frustrated and doesn’t want him to let those frustrations out on Heyman. Triple H then makes fun of the security guards for not being huge. Heyman then gets to the point, explaining the situation again. Triple H just wants to sign the contract and get on with it but Heyman wants to delay things, showing the fight Triple H and Lesnar had three weeks ago where Brock got busted open. Heyman then reveals that Brock told Heyman that he can pick the stipulation, and says that he decided that the winner of the match gets Stephanie McMahon. Trying to get Triple H to snap, Paul says that it would make more sense if the loser got Stephanie. That does the trick and Triple H starts to attack Heyman. The guards step in but they get knocked around and thrown out of the ring (the last one just runs away). Triple H lays Paul out on the desk and chops him. Heyman calls for Brock, but Triple H says that since he knows Brock won’t come out until the contract is signed, he’s going to enjoy this moment. He smacks Paul around and tears his shirt open, finally putting the contract on Heyman’s chest, signing it and throwing him out of the ring. Lesnar finally comes out swinging a chair and screaming like a maniac heading down the ring. Triple H then pulls out a sledgehammer and Heyman keeps Brock from getting in the ring. The paid head up the ramp, where Heyman says that the beating was worth it to get Heyman to sign the contract. Heyman then announces that it will be a No Holds Barred match, with Triple H’s career put on the line. Wasn’t Triple H pretty much retired anyway? This isn’t exactly a huge deal to me. I thought Heyman taking over as COO would have been better. The No Holds Barred stipulation feels a little tame to me too. I guess I was just expecting more. It could still be good, just not as god as it could have been.
At the end of the show the picture for WrestleMania looks a hell of a lot clearer. Here is how the card looks at the moment:
John Cena vs. The Rock for the WWE Championship
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Championship
CM Punk vs. The Undertaker
Big Show, Randy Orton and Sheamus vs. The Shield
Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston vs. Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships
Ryback vs. Mark Henry
Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H
Looking like a pretty good lineup. There are still a number of names to add, and I really hope Jericho isn’t wasted on Fandango, but there is still two more weeks to figure things out. The Rock comes back next week, so we at least now that half the show will be about him talking. Maybe Cena will speak too!