Punk lost and is still pissed at Heyman, Orton is champ, Bryan is chasing him, Cena is out and Triple H is a heel.
Ready, set, GO!
John Cena runs out to start the show looking pretty chipper considering he just lost his WWE Championship. He has a nice black eye and somehow I think his elbow actually looks worse. He said Bryan earned the WWE Championship when Daniel beat him, even thanking him for bringing out the best that he had. He proceeded to announce that he suffered a torn tricep two weeks ago, which explains the disgusting elbow (apparently it is filled with puss EEEEEEW). He then talked about how he lost fair and square while being disgusted at how Triple H handed Orton the title moments later. Cena then made the announcement we already knew, saying that he will be out for the next four to six months to repair his arm. That puts him on track to return right around the Royal Rumble. Cena then brought out Daniel Bryan as “a man who earned the right to be called, champion.” Cena hands Daniel the microphone as if he was passing a torch and walks out, presumably only to be seen on Total Divas for the next four to six months. Bryan was just about to speak when Stephanie McMahon comes out. She is currently the only unknown in this whole thing, seemingly not a part of Vince and Triple H’s plan. Steph sends her condolences about what happened at Summerslam, but then tries to defends Triple H by saying he only did what he thought was best for business. Bryan said he expected something like that to come from Vince or Stephanie, but not from Trips who was a rebel with DX. However now that he is wearing a suit and cut his hair, he has proven that when you lie down with trash (pointing at Stephanie OOOOH) you start to stink. Complicated burn right there. Steph says she will let that comment slide since he is so emotional over what happened, but Bryan snaps at her, asking if she is going to fire him. He says he isn’t afraid of being fired as he can just go back to wrestling is armories, but before he leaves he is going to give her a reason to fire him, whether it is against Triple H or Orton. Stephanie then says nobody wants to fire him and says he is valued in the company, but some people aren’t meant to be the face of the company. He clearly shows he alignment with Vine and Trips, saying Bryan isn’t an A but definitely a solid B+. Bryan responds by saying Stephanie is reminding him of a specific B-word right now, and says he doesn’t care what anybody thinks and can be WWE Champion. Daniel then smacks the mic out of Steph’s hand (uh oh), so Steph grabs another mic, tells him to calm down and has security remove him from the building. Daniel starts a NO chant and walks out, ending the segment. Plenty of drama but damn did it drag.
The first match of the night is a rematch between Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow. Cody is in control early, hitting a springboard missile dropkick and clotheslining Sandow over the top rope. Sandow started to turn the tide when he shoved Cody out of the ring and brought the match to a crawl. Much different from their fast and entertaining Summerslam bout. The crowd seems to agree with me. Rhodes went to the top rope but Damien arm dragged him back down to the mat, keeping the momentum. Apparently Mr Belding from Saved by the Bell is sitting behind the announcers! Cody got his comeback started with a backflip off the top rope, but Sandow avoided Cross Rhodes. Cody would hit a disaster kick but Sandow rolled to the rope to avoid being pinned. Damien dropped Cody’s throat on the top rope but Rhodes leaped over him in the corner, rolling him up to secure another win over his former partner. Fairly meh match.
Backstage, Brad Maddox revealed Dolph Ziggler reacting to last night’s finish to Summerslam by saying that he hasn’t trusted Triple H since he started working in the WWE. To keep Ziggler in check, Maddox booked him in a three on one handicap match against the Shield. Kinda looking forward to that.
Back from break, Paul Heyman is in the ring to address the crowd. He likens Punk to a rebellious child who left the nest to prove his self-worth. Paul admitted that Punk gave Lesnar all he can handle, but now it is time to end this family feud. After Brock defeated Punk, Paul says he realized this is not a time for retribution but a time for forgiveness. He forgives Punk and says that he will welcome him back into the fold if he apologizes. Heyman declares that if Punk returns to him he can bring him back to the top of the mountain. He walks out with no interruption. Good work by Heyman as always.
Divas tag action next as the Funkadactyles face Layla and AJ. I have to say one thing about Total Divas, if nothing else it is giving the ladies more ring time. Hopefully for them it translates into a better Divas division. The heels start by ambushing Cameron and Naomi before AJ officially starts the match by working over Naomi. Naomi backflips out of a back body drop but AJ hits her with a roundhouse kick and the crowd is chanting her name. There is a little more noise for a Divas match than there normally is. Layla gets tagged in and attacks Cameron so that she can’t get tagged in, but Naomi rolled her up from behind to steal a win. The good part of this match was AJ and Naomi keeping Cameron completely out of the ring. The bad part was Layla mugging the camera like a dope after losing. It made her look like she was acting in a silent film.
Time for Dolph Ziggler to try beating the Shield all by himself. I fully expect Mark Henry and the Big Show to provide support, possibly RVD too. It’s tag team rule so Ziggler has slightly more of a shot and starts off against Ambrose. The grapple a little as Dean tries to get Dolph into his corner while Dolph does everything he can to avoid it. Rollins comes in and after taking a few bumps, gets the upper hand and gets Ziggler in their corner where all three men take their shots at him. After getting beaten down for a while, Ziggler applies a sleeper on Ambrose. Dean reverses it into a sleeper of his own but Dolph gets out of it with a jawbreaker. Reigns then gets tagged in and is met with a dropkick as Ziggler gets going. He knocks Rollins off the apron and hits a Fame-Asser followed by a leaping DDT for a two count that is broken up by Seth. Ziggler then suplexes Rollins over the top rope and out of the ring, appearing to possibly injure Rollins’ knee on the landing. Dolph then tries a leaping splash on Roman in the corner, but Reigns comes out to spear Ziggler in mid-air to win the match. Really fun match to match to watch. After the bell, the Shield drop Ziggler with a triple power bomb and Reigns asked Rollins about his leg afterward. He said he was fine but I’m curious if anything more comes out of this.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio out next to face Sin Cara. ADR still looks like a mess with a black eye among other bruises on his face. Apparently this was the result of his being involved in a fight alongside Drew McIntyre against some random guys at a bar. Drew and Alberto both got roughed up and that can’t be good for Del Rio’s rep. He’s also now decorating the ring with tiny Mexican flags on the ring posts for his matches going forward, which looks really cheap. Alberto immediately goes on the offensive with a kick to the legs, but Cara bounces off the ropes and arm drags ADR out of the ring. Sin Cara dives out of the ring and immediately waves over to the ref. The ref takes a look at Cara and calls for the doctor on site to look at him, effectively ending the match. Del Rio tries to go forward with the attack but the referee stops him, and somebody (probably Alberto) is bleeped. So Sin Cara is escorted backstage and Del Rio cuts a promo about being a hero that latinos can root for since there are none. All of a sudden Ricardo Rodriguez comes out to the stage, telling ADR that he is no hero to the latin community. Ricardo then announces that he is now representing (no, not Rey Mysterio) Rob Van Dam! So that’s pretty weird. RVD goes to the ring and attacks Del Rio, who escapes the ring just in time to avoid a frog splash. So it looks like Rob Van Dam will challenge Alberto Del Rio at Night of Champions, but the real story here is Sin Cara. The word is that he suffered a dislocated finger, and the roster is pissed at him for being so quick to stop the match after everyone else was already so banged up coming off the PPV. Even further, Sin Cara is rumored to get in a really pissy mood when he is scheduled to lose (which is often), affecting his work in the ring and essentially making everyone else hate him.
The Prime Time Players make their first appearances as faces against the Real Americans. There was really no way to keep them as heels while having the first openly gay wrestler. Easily the biggest reaction PTP have ever gotten, and Darren Young gave his career a huge shot in the arm just by admitting the truth. He starts off against Cesaro, dropping him with a hip toss before doing the same to Swagger and tagging in Titus O’Neil. Cesaro throws up a big boot in the corner to stop Titus, who gets worked for a while by the Real Americans. The leapfrog stomp Cesaro does over Swagger always impresses me. Titus uses a spinebuster to slow Swagger and get Young in on a hot tag. He cleans house but has a bridge suplex broken up by Swagger. O’Neil knocks Jack out of the ring, allowing Darren Young to hit Cesaro with Gut Check to win the match. Perfectly acceptable tag team match but the more important thing was that the announcers did not address Young coming out and nor should they. Like I said yesterday, it shouldn’t matter what he does with his personal life.
Backstage, Big Show confirms that he will team up with Mark Henry to challenge Rollins and Reigns for the tag team titles. Brad Maddox then butts in to bring up how Show had some not so kind remarks about Triple H, and therefore puts him in a three on one handicap match against the Shield (so they are lackeys again?), with addition of all three Shield members to be allowed in the ring at once. So the precedent is set. Say something mean about Triple H or the McMahons, and you take on the Shield by yourself.
Over in the locker room, Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder are in the middle of a footlocker commercial. Fandango also loves sneakers.
Still backstage (are you kidding me?) Ryback is still acting like a high school bully, throwing a guy’s bag around the locker room, slapping him and making him fill the bag with water in the shower. Be a STAR everybody!
Smiling and hand shaking Big Show is back! Remember when he said he wasn’t going to do that anymore? Well neither does he I guess. The Shield come out and Show quickly throws Reigns out of the ring and beats down Ambrose and Rollins in the corner. Dean and Seth get thrown out next as Roman runs in, only to be flattened with a Big Show spear. Show continues working over Ambrose and Rollins and has an extra jump in his step. Rollins takes out Show’s leg as he and Ambrose steal some momentum. Rollins is still selling his knee injury as he drops Show with a flying knee to the head. They try to suplex Show but Show blocks it and suplexes them both at the same time. Reigns comes back in the ring however the flatten Big Show with a spear. The Shield then finishes off the Big Show with a triple power bomb, as they all cover him at once to get the pin. That’s now two quality three on one Shield matches.
CM Punk limps out next to address the crowd coming off his loss to Brock Lesnar. He keys on one man who boos him, and says that if he got into the ring right now he would never boo again because Punk would render him a toothless crying heap of a man. He dares him to come into the ring if he has the balls, calling him fatso before telling him to be a man or be a bitch and sit down. That was awesome and Punk is jacked up right now, after hearing Paul Heyman promise Punk a title and a WrestleMania main event if he apologizes for leaving him. CM then tells Heyman to come out because he might just get what he wants. Paul come out with Curtis Axel and hears Punk explain how wrestling is all he knows and that he is sorry, sorry that he let Heyman distract him to cost Punk the win against Lesnar just for a little revenge, and that revenge wasn’t enough. Punk says he’s sorry he didn’t tear his arm off and break his face, promising that the next time he gets his hands on Heyman he will choke him out, wake him up and spit in his face. This is getting a little weird. Basically, Punk is set on getting his revenge and wants it right now. Heyman of course doesn’t take the bait, instead sending Axel to the ring for a fight. Not a match but a fight. Punk goes after Axel and quickly sends his face into a steel chair he had in the ring. The action goes outside as Axel and Punk trade blows. I’m surprised Punk is doing anything like this after the Lesnar match. CM tosses Axel over the barricade and diving over it before dropping Curtis with a ring bell to the gut. Back in the ring, Axel slips out of a GTS and attacks Punk’s injured leg, drilling it with the steel chair. Punk gets laid out with a turning face buster and Axel looks to break his leg by jumping on it from the top rope with the chair wrapped around it. Punk rolls away however, attacking Axel with the chair and knocking him out by dropping his face onto the steel steps outside. With his leg to injured to run after him, Heyman escapes up the ramp to end the segment. So Punk isn’t done with Heyman but Axel isn’t much of a challenge for him. Not sure how they book Punk for Night of Champions.
R-Truth is the lucky man to face Bray Wyatt in his first match on Raw. His debut against Kane at Summerslam was a complete dud so this has to at least be a step up. Truth holds his own at first, hitting a spinning kick on Bray before being dropped with some type of sideways spear. Bray knocks out Truth with the HO Train before finishing him off with Sister Abigail for the win. It was short but it was a hell of a lot better at selling the Wyatt’s as being dangerous than the ring of fire match did.
It appears that Epico and Primo are being retooled as Los Matadores. Yup. Two matadors who wrestle. It looks a lot like Tito Santana’s horrible El Matador gimmick.
Speaking of tag teams, 3MB is set to face the Usos. McIntyre is the odd man out this time it what is either a coincidence or directly because of the fight he allegedly got into over the weekend with Del Rio. The Usos quickly take control over Slater, but the tide changes when Drew interferes with a kick to Jimmy’s head on the outside. An enziguri to Slater allows Jay to get the hot tag, laying out Mahal with a running stink face in the corner. Jay then leaps over the top rope to take out Slater and McIntyre outside the ring, while simultaneously tagging Jimmy in mid-air, allowing Jimmy to hit a splash off the top rope to win the match. Poor 3MB.
One last midcard match as the Miz faces Wade Barrett because why not. Miz quickly hits his leaping clothesline but Barrett responds with a big boot. Remember these guys facing off at Summerslam? I care just as much about them now as I did then. Wade hits a second big boot with Miz tangled on the rope and is in full control. Miz fights through “let’s go Barrett” chants to tie Wade’s leg into the ropes and attack it. Barrett initially avoids the figure four but Miz secures it coming out of a sunset flip. It’s locked in until Fandango hits Miz with the top rope leg drop, ending the match via DQ. I imagine that’s another bout that will take place on the upcoming PPV.
A coronation ceremony for new WWE Champion Randy Orton closes out the show, as the entire roster is on the stage to watch, with the Shield acting as security at the bottom of the ramp, as Brad Maddox informed Steph that Daniel Bryan has returned to the arena. Vince, Steph and Triple H stand in the ring as Vince congratulates Trips for seeing the light. Triple H says he did what he did to preserve the future of the company (he did it in a very long winded way but that was the gist). He says that he considers him a friend and is a fan of his, even deserving to win the match against Cena. But he does not see him as the WWE Champion and face of the company, saying that the fans deserve better than that. He even says that he hated to do that do Bryan, who worked so hard for 15 years, in order to give the title to a man he has so much bad blood with in Orton. He says he buried all of his personal feelings to do what was right for the fans, and that Bryan is selfish for having problem with it. It’s interesting how his delivered and themes stayed the same as a face as it is now as a heel. Triple H then introduces the new face of the WWE, Randy Orton. Randy shakes hands with Vince and Trips and gets big hug from Stephanie (not weird at all). He thanks Triple H and tells the crowd to stand up and show him respect. It’s odd how little attention the WWE Champion is getting on his first appearance as champion. It’s all about Triple H right now, and he asks Daniel Bryan to come out and say whatever he needs to say in order to move on with his “little” career. He even has the Shield move away as they probably look too intimidating to him. He even starts a YES chant and has his music play to make him feel welcome. Daniel finally walk out from the side of the stage toward the ring when the Shield ambush him. Bryan fights back however and takes out the Shield by himself. Daniel again moves toward the ring when Reigns lays him out with a spear. They were about to powerbomb him when Triple H stops them, again inviting him into the ring to talk. The moment he gets in the ring Randy Orton hits his with an RKO and Orton holds his hands up with the McMahons over Bryan to end the show.
There hasn’t been a show in while that was all about the heels being in control, and this show definitely had that. The Shield certainly found a new angle so that the Wyatt’s can take over as the group that randomly takes people out. Meanwhile Miz/Fandango, RVD/ADR, Henry and Big Show versus The Shield and Orton/Bryan make for a more unique potential PPV card than we’ve seen in a while, which was bound to happen with Cena, Lesnar, Sheamus and Kane suddenly gone. I’m still curious what Punk will do at Night of Champions, but the rest of the card looks to be set.