Raw results: Punk and Sheamus collide following AJ's resignation, but Ryback has the last word
Team Rhodes Scholars def. Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara to win the Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contenders' Tournament
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey, across the parking lot from the same MetLife Stadium where WrestleMania 29 will be held next year, Raw kicked off with the long-awaited finale of the Tag Team Tournament to determine the No. 1 contenders to Team Hell No's Tag Championships at Hell in a Cell. And when all the dust had settled, it was Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow, Team Rhodes Scholars, who proved tougher than the rest and punched their ticket to face the formidable champions.
Still, Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara certainly made things interesting for the cocky Team Rhodes Scholars, utilizing their high-flying lucha skills to even the playing field against the coordinated beatdowns of Rhodes and Sandow. Team Rhodes Scholars made an early attempt to turn the tide of the match by taking the fight to the outside, but Rey & Sin Cara hit back with a seated senton and suicide dive, respectively, against their brainy opponents.
Rhodes & Sandow would soon find their rhythm, though. They pinned Sin Cara in their corner and proving the old adage correct that two hearts (or in this case, Superstars) are better than one by unleashing a tandem stomping that left The International Sensation dazed and confused until Sin Cara was able to retaliate with an enzuigiri that toppled Cody Rhodes to the ground. Rhodes bounced back nicely, though, tagging back in Sandow and continuing their divide-and-conquer strategy, keeping Sin Cara grounded with a series of attacks that included the Elbow of Disdain from Sandow.
The Mexican Icon found his second wind when Rhodes took him up for a superplex, though, unleashing a tornado DDT that allowed him to tag in Mysterio. The Ultimate Underdog stormed into the match with a week's worth of pent-up fury, unleashing a stupendous sequence of offense against Rhodes before nailing both Scholars with a double 619 and Droppin' the Dime on Cody for the win ... until Sandow literally threw himself under the referee's falling arm to disrupt the three-count. The distraction was sufficient opportunity for Rhodes to wrench Mysterio into Cross Rhodes and slam him down for the win.
The fun and games weren't done, however, as Kane and Daniel Bryan appeared on the TitanTron, congratulating Team Rhodes Scholars on their victory. But as for whether the new No. 1 contenders would capture the twin championships at Hell in a Cell, the bickering champions had one message: "HELL NO!"
Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston def. Michael McGillicutty
Having served The Miz a piping-hot helping of crow last week on WWE Main Event, new Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston stormed into Raw and did his championship proud with a hard-fought win over a very game Michael McGillicutty in IZOD Center.
McGillicutty, the irascible former WWE Tag Team Champion, came out swinging and looked dominant for the majority of the contest, using a series of brutish strikes to keep Kofi at bay, but the champion came up strong at exactly the right time. Using McGillicutty's own headstrong energy against him, Kofi dodged a turnbuckle attack by the son of WWE Hall of Famer Mr. Perfect and transitioned seamlessly into a lightning-fast Trouble in Paradise that put McGillicutty down for the count. With The Miz stewing at commentary and absorbing Kofi's strategy, however, it's safe for the WWE Universe to assume that Kingston will have his work cut out for him when he defends the championship at Hell in a Cell.
John Cena addressed the WWE Universe
It's safe to say that the WWE Universe was surprised to say the least when John Cena stepped aside to allow Ryback to sign the No. 1 contender's contract last week on Raw. And this week, in the shadow of MetLife Stadium, the Cenation leader stepped into the ring not to expound upon his decision, but to give the WWE Universe a preview, in his own words, of what they can expect at Hell in a Cell.
And what, exactly, did the historic main event of Hell in a Cell hold in store? To put it simply: "change."
"Change is 6-foot 3," Cena said. "Change is 291 pounds, and when 'change' sets foot into this ring, all he can hear over and over again is 'FEED ME MORE!' "
Before Cena could continue, though, the riff of "Cult of Personality" rumbled through the loudspeakers and the WWE Champion strutted out, 337 days atop the mountain under his belt and looking thoroughly bemused at what he called Cena's "new role" of being "Ryback's personal cheerleader," not to mention the supposed greatness of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants (it is truly hard to be a Second City Saint in the city).
And regarding change? "I've been WWE Champion for 337 days and counting, which means you haven't been champion for a lot longer than that," Punk said. "And that is change you can count on."
"Everybody knows when CM Punk makes a promise, he keeps it, and I promise I will walk out of Hell in a Cell still the WWE Champion."
Cena, however, had heard enough. Riled up by Punk's insults, Cena turned the subject of conversation to another recent hot topic: his injured elbow. He would not be interfering in Punk's scheduled title match at Hell in a Cell, but as for tonight, "Regarding yours truly, I am 100 percent medically cleared," the Cenation leader said, flexing his elbow for emphasis and inviting Punk into the ring for an impromptu rumble down the Turnpike.
And for a minute, it looked like Punk would acquiesce to Cena's request. But eventually, the warning shrieks of Paul Heyman won out and the champion strode back to the locker room, a smile on his face and title held high.
Justin Gabriel def. U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro
After weeks of dominant victories over a slew of competitors, United States Champion Antonio Cesaro was left stewing following an upset loss to the dynamic Justin Gabriel on Raw.
Cesaro has made it quite clear to the WWE Universe that he believes all competitors born in the U.S.A. to be beneath him, and even made it a point to proclaim his own greatness in Italian before his match began. Gabriel, however, is a South African and apparently unfazed by Cesaro's foreign elitism, because no sooner had the insults left the "Swiss Superman's" mouth than "The Cape Town Werewolf" flew into action, clearing the ropes with a dive and stunning Cesaro in the match's opening moments.
The strategy worked, and Cesaro failed to find his rhythm for the remainder of the contest. Gabriel, who fell to Cesaro in a recent contest, used the experience of facing the champion to his advantage, withstanding a brutal barrage from the U.S. Champion before knocking Cesaro off the top rope and connecting with the 450 Splash to earn himself une grande victoire over the elitist foreigner.
Raw General Manager AJ Lee announced her resignation; Mr. McMahon named Vickie Guerrero as "Managing Supervisor" in her place
In just as surprising a fashion as it began, the AJ Lee Era of Monday Night Raw came crashing to an abrupt halt when, with Mr. McMahon at her side, AJ announced her resignation as General Manager.
Following a mysterious meeting with the WWE Board of Directors at WWE Headquarters, AJ took center stage in her home state of New Jersey to announce that she had decided it was best to resign her post following accusations she'd been "fraternizing" with an unnamed Superstar on the roster (AJ denied the accusations). In her final moments as GM, AJ took the opportunity to give the WWE Universe a tear-jerking thank you for supporting her through her meteoric rise through the ranks and, especially, her tenure as General Manager. It was a humble, heartfelt moment and both The Chairman and the WWE Universe seemed to appreciate AJ's candor.
And then, of course, Paul Heyman showed up.
With much fanfare, the mad scientist of ECW made an elaborate, eloquent plea to The Boss to name him the new General Manager of the red brand, as Mr. McMahon is required to immediately name a replacement. The Chairman had a similarly eloquent response for Heyman.
Instead, he introduced the "Managing Supervisor" of Raw, none other than Vickie Guerrero. No sooner had The Queen Diva taken the stage than Heyman attempted to curry favor with the new boss lady, asking Vickie to revoke CM Punk's WWE Title Match against Ryback at Hell in a Cell. Heyman was, again, denied his request, as Vickie kicked her second administration (clearly, her show-running glory days have yet to pass her by) off with a bang by announcing two main events for her first Raw back in charge: a Champion vs. Champion Match that would also be the largest Lumberjack Match in WWE history. That was enough to send Heyman fuming back to the locker room, but Vickie wasn't done yet.
"Tsk tsk," Vickie began as she set her sights on AJ, elaborating that the allegations against her were not just "fraternization," but that AJ had an affair with a Superstar. Vickie brusquely dismissed the former GM, commanding her to pack up her things and leave the arena. With nothing left to lose, however, AJ wasn't about to leave without getting one last shot in at Vickie. And so she did, pouncing on the Managing Supervisor and unleashing one final attack on Vickie before skipping off to the locker room.
Ryback def. The Miz
The Miz's fortunes have not improved since losing the Intercontinental Title to Kofi Kingston on WWE Main Event, as The Awesome One found himself back in the ravenous Ryback's path on the final Raw before Hell in a Cell, in a rematch from a recent contest between the two. The result, sadly for Miz, remained the same.
Not only that, but The Awesome One didn't even have a chance to get rolling in the match. Miz looked skittish to be in the "human wrecking ball's" sights again, and the powerhouse rising star made him pay in kind. Ryback unceremoniously dismantled Miz, bringing new meaning to the phrase "playing with your food" before pummeling Miz to the mat with Shell Shocked to earn himself a high-profile victory before heading into Hell in a Cell. Next on the menu: CM Punk.
Dolph Ziggler def. WWE Tag Team Champion Daniel Bryan
Dolph Ziggler was in the money on Raw Monday night when he squared off against Tag Team Champion (or Tag Team Champions, depending whom you ask) Daniel Bryan and, thanks to an inadvertent distraction from Kane, picked up a hard-fought win in IZOD Center.
Bryan and Ziggler built off their strong history of competition, stringing together a technically crisp contest that brought out the best in both Superstars and provided strong support for Bryan's skill as a current champion and Ziggler's as a potential future one. The match was dead even almost the entire way through; Bryan's intricate mastery proved to be the perfect foil for The Showoff's flashy dynamism. Each time Ziggler got a head of steam going, Bryan reversed Mr. Money in the Bank's dizzying attacks into intricate holds like a surfboard and a Figure-Four Leglock. Ziggler seemingly gained the upper hand by suplexing Bryan off the apron and onto the outside area, but the flash, boom and burn of Kane's entrance seemed to spell doom for The Showoff.
Kane's presence seemed to galvanize Bryan into a late game run, as the "No!" man bounced between the ropes like a ping-pong ball before decking Ziggler with a clothesline. Bryan traded near-falls with The Showoff before Ziggler found his footing ... and lost it just as quickly, missing a turnbuckle attack when Bryan dodged The Showoff's leap, leaving Dolph to tumble painfully to the outside. Bryan countered with a high-risk attack of his own, and the two found themselves back into the ring. Ziggler struck fast, hitting a top-rope facebuster on the "No!" man, but Bryan rallied with a textbook kick to The Showoff's head.
With victory in hand, Bryan seemed to set up for his final strike ... until Kane decided to get the crowd riled up by instigating a "YES! YES! YES!" chant among the New Jersey faithful. This, of course, did not sit well with Bryan, and as the submission technician devolved into an irascible mess, Ziggler capitalized to hit Bryan with a top-rope Zig Zag for the victory.
The antics did not end there, however, as Team Hell No seemed ready to descend into physicality before Matt Striker made his presence known, announcing that Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero decreed Team Hell No would compete in a contest she referred to as "The NewlyTag Game" against Team Rhodes Scholars.
Team Rhodes Scholars refused to compete in "The NewlyTag Game"
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty, and meet Kane & Daniel Bryan tonight in the IZOD Center for "The NewlyTag Game," where tag team partners can display how well they know each other, moderated by none other than Matt Striker. What could go wrong?
Well, funny you should ask.
Tag Team Champions Team Hell No began the game, with Daniel Bryan and Kane each taking a turn on the mic to tell the WWE Universe about themselves.
Bryan was up first. "My name is Daniel. I am a former World Heavyweight Champion. I do not have a goat face. I am 'The World's Toughest Vegan.' And more important than anything, I'M THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS."
Kane responded with a surprising revelation or three: "My name is Kane. I'm a Scorpio. I enjoy long walks on the beach, rainbows and puppies."
Well, actually, not quite. But Bryan's contestation of that argument ("YOU DO LOVE RAINBOWS!") led to a signature bickering session between the champions until Team Rhodes Scholars decided to intervene. But they had no plans to participate in the game, however, as Damien Sandow deemed the contest no less than "the putrefaction of society," before the No. 1 contenders stormed off stage, leaving Team Hell No to claim victory by forfeit.
No sooner had Bryan celebrated their triumph, however, than Kane set his sights yet again on Matt Striker. Striker, however, high-tailed it out of the ring with minimal fanfare, pausing at the top of the ramp to toss some snide comments Team Hell No's way before running face-first into Big Show. The World's Largest Athlete wasn't one for games, either, tossing Striker unceremoniously aside before stomping down to the ring for his match against Kane.
Big Show def. WWE Tag Team Champion Kane
When big collides with big, what unfolds is typically something along the lines of a Hollywood monster movie. Big Show and Kane's clashes are similarly the stuff of WWE legend, and their battle Monday night lived up to the legacy of their previous ones. And after a thunderous fight, it was The World's Largest Athlete who stood tall when the bell rang.
Show looked dominant heading into his World Heavyweight Championship Match with Sheamus at WWE Hell in a Cell, using his might to overpower Kane and prevent The Big Red Monster from getting into a groove against him. Show manhandled The Devil's Favorite Demon and seemingly put Kane down for a quick defeat. But the Tag Team Champion rallied quickly, mounting an offensive strike against the giant and preparing to deliver the Chokeslam ... until Team Rhodes Scholars materialized atop the stage, distracting the Tag Champions and giving Big Show the opportunity to fell Kane with a KO Punch for the 1-2-3, and allowing Team Rhodes Scholars to get the last word with an attack on Bryan. Safe to say the Tag Team Title Match at Hell in a Cell will be a must-see.
AJ Lee revealed the Superstar she was allegedly fraternizing with to be John Cena
John Cena wasted no time in finding former Raw GM AJ Lee in the locker room area, offering his support following her unceremonious resignation and asking her why she didn't fight the accusations leveled against her by Vickie Guerrero. As it turns out, the answer was the last thing Cena (or anybody else in the WWE Universe) would expect: The Superstar in question was none other than Cena himself. The allegations arose after the two shared a "business dinner," and AJ decided not to fight the accusations to avoid dragging Cena's name through the mud. A gobsmacked Cena assured AJ he'd do what he could to help, but a conversation with Mr. McMahon bore no fruit: "If it wasn't this, it'd be something else," The Chairman said. As for Vickie? Mr. McMahon remained undecided, and it appeared that what would be would be.
In a last attempt to right the situation, Cena went to Vickie and tried to undo the damage, but he was met with similar resistance. "Perception is reality: You asked AJ on a date on Raw, and ended up taking her to dinner." Therefore, according to The Queen Diva, the reality of the situation was this: Cena cost AJ her job.
Alberto Del Rio def. Zack Ryder
With Hell in a Cell only days away, the time was ripe for Alberto Del Rio to deliver a statement. And that's exactly what he did, taking it to Zack Ryder in a brutal matchup in IZOD Center that saw a game Long Island Iced-Z fall victim to Del Rio's Cross Armbreaker.
Ryder put up a tough fight against The Essence of Excellence, stringing together spurts of offense and nearly connecting with the Broski Boot. But it was Del Rio who had the final word in the contest, trapping Ryder's arm in the ropes and finally forcing The Ultimate Broski to tap to the Cross Armbreaker. Del Rio added insult to injury by keeping the hold locked in past the bell as a vicious statement to Randy Orton before they collide at Hell in a Cell. Is there a new Apex Predator in WWE? Only time will tell.
WWE Champion CM Punk def. World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus
The highway was jammed with broken heroes and a small army of WWE Superstars on Monday in IZOD Center as three dozen lumberjacks roamed ringside for the Champion vs. Champion Match between CM Punk and Sheamus, the largest such match in the history of Raw and the first main event of Vickie Guerrero's tenure as Managing Supervisor. The contest was appropriately pulse-pounding, but in the end, it was a Superstar who wasn't even involved that proved to be the most impactful man in the ring.
Punk took an unconventional route against The Great White, attempting to use his technical acumen as a way to slow down the brawling World Champion and prevent him from building to the devastating Brogue Kick. The strategy found early success (although Punk was the first competitor to get tossed back into the ring by the lumberjacks), but Sheamus, as always, would not be kept down. The Celtic Warrior rallied quickly, but Punk took advantage of the unique stipulation by shucking Sheamus over the ropes, leaving him to the mercy of the lumberjacks before attempting a pinfall.
The Second City Saint would repeat his strategy throughout the match, and after a few trips over the ropes for Sheamus, the lumberjacks began to target each other, with one group attempting to assist The Great White while another worked to keep him down. The Voice of the Voiceless moved to capitalize with a trio of top-rope strikes, but after connecting with the first two, Sheamus countered with a thunderous punch to the WWE Champion’s. An attempt at a headlock by Punk seemed to have Sheamus down for the count, but The Great White powered up, and that's when Sheamus began to roll.
The Celtic Warrior moved fast, clobbering Punk with ax handles, forearm clubs and shoulder tackles, powering out of Punk's attempted pinfalls before planting The Voice of the Voiceless with a rafter-shaking superplex. Punk decided to use Sheamus' own power against him, reversing The Celtic Warrior's turnbuckle charge into a small package, but that proved fruitless as well. Sheamus would continue to withstand Punk's assault, dodging The Second City Saint's flying elbow and planting him with a furious Irish Curse. The Voice of the Voiceless used his last wind to throw Sheamus to the lumberjacks again, but The Great White was ready, rumbling with the enforcers before making his way back to the ring.
Attempted attacks on Sheamus by Antonio Cesaro and Jinder Mahal ended unceremoniously, but before the World Champion could execute the Brogue Kick on Punk, Big Show made his way up to the ring and planted The Great White with a chokeslam while the referee's back was turned. Punk picked up the pieces and covered Sheamus for the pin, but instead of his theme music, "FEED ME" roared through IZOD Center speakers and Ryback, the one Superstar conspicuous by his absence, made his way to the ring.
With Ryback hot on his heels, Punk made a move to leave the ring, but the lumberjacks were right there to throw him back. Each time Punk tried to escape, his fellow Superstars tossed him back into Ryback's waiting maw, where The Second City Saint felt the wrath of the No. 1 contender's earthshaking attacks before fortune finally afforded him an escape. It was a luxury the champion may not have on Sunday when he finds himself enclosed in the place where rivalries are settled, with the hungriest beast in the stable staring him down bold and stark in the ring.