by Neil Cathan
What if…John Cena’s Worst Year Ever Actually Was?
What if…The Planned Dean Ambrose/Mick Foley Program Had Happened?
The Road To Summerslam (2012)
The Build To Extreme Rules
Following his main event defeat to The Rock at Wrestlemania 28, John Cena comes out to speak at the end of the post-Mania RAW. He picks up the microphone, when he is interrupted by Brock Lesnar’s music. Lesnar returns to a huge pop and wordlessly lays Cena out with an F-5 to an even bigger pop, bringing RAW off the air on the sight of him standing dominant. Cena demands answers the following RAW and gets them when Paul Heyman also returns, representing his client, Brock Lesnar, who has returned to his rightful throne at the top of the WWE, to find a pretender keeping it warm for him. Lesnar’s grateful, but he’s going to throw Cena on his ass at Extreme Rules…
The Wrestlemania title feud between Chris Jericho and CM Punk gets more and more personal, Jericho bringing Punk’s sister’s drug addiction and his father’s alcoholism into the mix, telling Punk that failure is in his blood, as he’ll be happy to show him and the rest of those Chicago Mongrels at Extreme Rules. Punk’s typical snarky and aloof demeanour leaves him through all of this, and he opts to jump Jericho at every chance, breaking into wild brawls. The one time during the build that he tries to pick up a microphone, he is so angry that the words come in explosive blasts, rather than the typical brilliant reason and wit. One thing is clear: him and Jericho will meet in a Chicago Street Fight at Extreme Rules…
John Laurinitis is the new GM of RAW and Smackdown, having won the job title when his proxy team (David Otunga, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz and Drew McIntyre) defeated Teddy Long’s proxy team (Santino Marella, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder, The Great Khali and Booker T) when Miz pinned Zack Ryder after a Skull Crushing Finale. Laurinitis rewards Miz with a title shot against the winner of CM Punk vs Chris Jericho. Dolph objects, pointing out that a) he saved Miz from getting pinned at the hands of Santino Marella; b) he was Team Johnny from the start, while Miz just joined so he’d have something to do at Wrestlemania. The two are placed into a no.1 contendership match at Extreme Rules, the build to which gets increasingly heated by way of escalating trash talk. Wanting to prove Dolph’s claim that Miz “isn’t even a wrestler, just another reality TV abortion” wrong, Miz demands that their Extreme Rules match be the only one without a gimmick.
In the rest of the team news: United States Champion Santino Marella is punished for almost costing Johnny his job by being made to defend the title against Drew McIntyre, “Mr. McMahon’s Chosen One, and mine too.” Oh, Johnny. Booker T returned to the Smackdown desk and Jack Swagger returned to losing on RAW and winning on Smackdown and Superstars. The rest moved into the tag division in the following line-ups:
David Otunga and Mark Henry are…Legally Strong!
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth are…The True Kings!
Zack Ryder and The Great Khali are…Big On The Internet! (In Zack’s own words, he is Big On The Internet, while The Great Khali is big everywhere he goes, which naturally includes The Internet. In Khali’s own words “huurlge brum duhread cohomble”) They win matches when Khali hits his brain chop, before tagging to Zack for a top rope splash. Or, put another way: Hit, Tag, Top (rope), Pin.
Oh, how the fans turned on poor Sheamus after he Brogue Kicked a Daniel Bryan distracted by an AJ Lee kiss for luck to take Bryan’s belt in just eighteen seconds. And oh, how they welcomed poor Daniel Bryan. His signature “Yes” chant hijacks the first RAW after Wrestlemania 28, and starts hijacking other sporting events. On that first RAW, a tearful AJ Lee apologises publicly to Daniel Bryan. Bryan comes out, furious and shouting, but AJ won’t rise to a fight. Bryan blows off his steam, and they embrace. He announces that he’s taking his rematch clause at Extreme Rules. Mr. “People Power” himself, John Laurinitis, jumps on the “Yes” bandwagon and makes the bout a best of three falls match, to prevent any more flukes…
Bryan is not the only one in the couple angled towards gold. After scoring the winning fall in a mixed tag match with Bryan against Jack Swagger and Brie Bella, AJ Lee announces her intention to challenge Beth Phoenix for the Diva’s title. Maryse take exception to this, mocking AJ crying on RAW and asking if that’s title material. She tells AJ that AJ reminds her of all the weak people in the world who ask why good things can’t just happen to nice people. Good things don’t just happen, Maryse says, powerful people make them happen, then get labelled as nasty for doing it. AJ responds that Maryse reminds her of the mean girls at school who bullied her for liking wrestling and being herself. She says that today, she sees jealousy for not being themselves, but that hasn’t stopped the years of revenge fantasies. Fantasies she would be happy to indulge with Maryse at Extreme Rules. Beth comes out at this point to interrupt this “petty bickering” and offers to take on both, with one condition: that it be an elimination match, so Beth can destroy both of these little women and doesn’t have to worry about losing the title to either Diva who could never defeat her…
Also taking his rematch clause is Cody Rhodes, who lost the Intercontinental title to Big Show at Wrestlemania 28, giving Big Show his only Wrestlemania win to date. Cody blames his loss on an act of God, a Wrestlemania miracle being the only explanation for Big Show defeating him. And when he puts Big Show through a table at Extreme Rules, he’ll prove just that. Big Show, for his part, seems too full up on happiness from winning his first Intercontinental Title in his first Wrestlemania victory to be particularly concerned…
Kane and Randy Orton continue their feud from Wrestlemania into an Extreme Rules match, which they will have at Extreme Rules. Hey, you try writing an interesting paragraph dovetailing from their nothing Wrestlemania program.
Elsewhere on TV
Wade Barrett picks up some wins on TV. Lord Tensai debuts and starts squashing jobbers on RAW. Ryback debuts and starts squashing jobbers on Smackdown. Some kid called Seth Rollins debuts on Superstars and all six of the people who actually watch that show are impressed by the quality of the matches he’s winning there.
Mick Foley hosts Hardcore Smackdown, a live special. His in ring promo at the front of the show is interrupted by the Titan Tron. It begins by playing Mick Foley falling off the cell, transferring into a too damn fast montage of dangerous botched spots, of New Jack taking that awful goddamn fall for a lot less people and a lot less fame, to the high spots of Edge’s career, to Edge talking about having to retire early because of all of those high spots. #ThanksMick flashes onto the screen from time to time. We cut backstage to a video truck, the door locked and blocked from the inside, security teams with crowbars yanking it open and dragging a crazed man, foaming at the mouth and screaming incoherently, tears streaming down his face. Mick Foley looks stunned, drops the microphone and walks slowly to the back.
The next week, RAW is in England, and Mick seems to have found his sense of humour, joking that he should be safe, since whoever that man was, he seems the definition of a no-fly list. He cuts a crowd pleasing promo for the England crowd, gets his cheap pops in, right there in London! and leaves.
Noelle Foley arrives at RAW the week that follows, on the go-home RAW before Extreme Rules. She doesn’t want to interrupt the show, she’s a fan and would rather be watching wrestlers than watching a wrestler’s daughter too. But no-one’s been answering her calls. She’s been calling and calling, because Mick didn’t come back from England. Stephanie comes out and tries to reassure her that they are doing everything in their power to find Mick, but they do have a Pay Per View to focus on this Sunday…
Big Show opens the show by putting Cody through a table in quick order to retain the Intercontinental title.
Santino isn’t so lucky in the following bout, losing his US title to Drew McIntyre’s cheap tactics.
Kane and Orton go on next in a fairly sanitized WWE hardcore match characterised by Kane overpowering Orton and beating him with weapons, while Orton gets hope spots and looks for an RKO opening, he never finds one, eating a chokeslam instead and getting pinned. “The Demon is Back!” declares Lawler in shock.
Dolph Ziggler and The Miz go out next in a heated, fast paced encounter. Miz looks to put Ziggler away with a Skull Crushing Finale, only to be rolled up by Ziggler. Miz counters this roll-up into one of his own, and the two roll out of the ring, throwing hands and knees at each other. Refs and road agents pull the two apart and the crowd eats a non-finish.
The Diva’s title match up next promises to deliver a finish, as it is the three way elimination bout between Beth Phoenix, AJ Lee and Maryse. Maryse is the first to fall, when AJ Lee counters her French Kiss DDT with a Northern Lights suplex for the three. Beth looks and nods her head in surprised approval, then catches AJ with a nasty lariat to the back of the head. Beth stays in control until AJ answers a powerbomb with a hurracarana. A moonsault follows for two and The Glamazon is being lined up for a Shining Wizard when Maryse, who never left ringside, pulls AJ’s leg. AJ stumbles on her charge and eats a Beth Valley Driver for the three.
Daniel Bryan comes out to comfort AJ Lee, who came so close to reaching her dream, only to have it torn away. Sheamus makes his way out to defend his title. Bryan pulls AJ in for a hug near the turnbuckles in a mirror of the Wrestlemania disaster. Also in a mirror of this moment, Sheamus charges in for a Brogue Kick. Bryan ducks, but it catches AJ instead. There is a stunned silence from the crowd, Bryan, Sheamus and the ref. The silence is broken by a groan of pain from AJ Lee, that snaps Bryan out of his shock and into rage. He rushes Sheamus with fast and vicious strikes, pushing him against the ropes, then over them to the outside. Bryan goes running and crashes into Sheamus with a topé suicida to the guardrail, then rage letting him whip the bigger man into the guardrail. Bryan goes for a running leap off the ring steps, sentonning off them, but Sheamus dodges. The count is at seven by now, and Sheamus dodges in, getting the first fall by countout.
AJ Lee, who has come around a little by now, calms Bryan on the outside, trying to make it clear that losing his cool lost him the fall, and reassuring him that she is okay. She asks if she should leave so he can focus, but Bryan shakes his head. A kiss for luck at a nice safe distance on the outside, and a focussed Bryan comes back into the ring and picks Sheamus apart for a fall.
Seeing his title in risk of being taken away, Sheamus comes into the next fall hot. After Bryan falls to the outside from Sheamus’ clubbing blows on the ropes spot, AJ gives Bryan a pep talk that sees him make an impressive comeback, only for it to be cut off with a Brogue Kick for the three count. Both men are bruised to hell, but only Sheamus is the World Heavyweight Champion.
CM Punk and Chris Jericho follow Bryan and Sheamus’ “This is Awesome” inducing battle with one of their own, Punk retaining. (WWE network link: http://network.wwe.com/video/v31277509)
Brock Lesnar and John Cena go on next, in a vicious, bloody battle. Cena fights with fire and courage, but Brock Lesnar fights with being Brock Lesnar, and that wins the day.
The Build To Over The Limit
A video plays on the first RAW to follow Extreme Rules, in which the crazed gentleman from Hardcore Smackdown says that he’s almost got what he wants from Mick, and he’ll give him back to Noelle and the rest of the fans next week on RAW.
Sure enough, next week, he brings a pale and exhausted Mick Foley out, hands zip-locked behind his back, ankles zip-locked together, and marches him to the ring, a box-cutter to his neck, holding him hostage against the security forces that circle, waiting for a chance. He steps into the ring and calls for a microphone. He introduces himself as Dean Ambrose, and decries the evils done by Mick Foley, how the example he set in his WWE career lead to a “lost generation” of wrestlers maiming, crippling, killing themselves and each other with insane stunts and vicious weapons, always getting worse and worse, always trying to top what came before. He talks about seeing blood drip down the walls of his tiny, smokey apartment, of sleeping three hours a night if he’s lucky, of the things he’s had done to him, of the things he did to others, of the friends he lost, some of them forever. And all he wants Mick to talk of is sorry. He wants Mick Foley to publicly apologise for what he’s done. Mick asks to have his hands free to use the microphone. Dean box cutters the zip-lock off and Mick lunges at him, knocking the box cutter from his hands and laying into him with desperate fury. Security pulls Mick off of Dean Ambrose, and pulls Dean Ambrose away, while medics rush to the ring to help Mick to the back so that he can be checked out.
Mick Foley is on the following RAW, where he sort of gives Dean that apology. He says that he recognises the example he set and he worries about that, but that he can’t take all the blame. He never put a hedge-trimmer in anyone’s hands. He never told people where to buy fluorescent light-tubes in bulk, or how loud a sound they made when smashed across someone’s head. They have to take personal responsibility for their own actions, which is exactly what Dean Ambrose will have to take when him and Mick Foley go Over The Limit together…
John Laurinitis assures an arguing Miz and Ziggler that they are both winners to him, and both deserve a chance to take the WWE Title from that anti-authority punk CM … uh, Punk. Punk is back to his old ways, throwing sarcasm in every direction, mocking the predictable triple threat booking, calling Miz a fluke and playing Miz and Ziggler against each other by saying that Ziggler wants Miz’ spot, and is too talented to be hanging out with these clowns. Laurinitis may have hoped to patch up the differences and make the triple threat a handicap match, but Punk works his magic with words to undo that. The main event of Over The Limit promises to be a fight…
Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee did not have a good night at Extreme Rules, and each go after the person to blame for that, building to Maryse vs AJ Lee and Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan for Over The Limit, the latter taking place inside a cage to prevent count outs or AJ gettting a boot in her face again. Sheamus shows a lot of respect for his opponent during the build. The same cannot be said for Bryan, or for either of the competitors in the Maryse vs AJ Lee match, whose heated feud is made for no.1 contendership to the winner of Beth Phoenix vs Layla, who returned from injury to make the challenge…
John Cena didn’t have a great Extreme Rules either, and Kane, who absolutely did, uses this as an opportunity to get inside Cena’s head and try to get him to embrace the hate. Zack Ryder finds himself involved again, as he did in February, and if it weren’t for The Great Khali making the save, he probably would have been hospitalised again when Kane attacked him backstage with a cattle prod. A Kane/Great Khali match on the RAW before Extreme Rules is mercifully interrupted by a Cena run in, and the two brawl leading into their battle at Over The Limit…
Each coming off two straight PPV losses to the same opponent, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton are looking for something new, hopefully with a win this time. But only one of them can win when they go head to head at Over The Limit…
In undercard title news, Wade Barrett is coming for Big Show’s Intercontinental title, Santino Marella is coming to get his US title back and The True Kings plan to demolish the Colons at Over The Limit for the tag titles, then demolish their colons with a celebratory Indian dinner with Big On The Internet.
Elsewhere On TV:
Antonio Cesaro debuts, working quick matches on Smackdown.
Seth Rollins graduates to exciting the Smackdown crowd by winning matches with his great athletic style. Him and Cesaro work a short match that gets a great buzz backstage and online and is repeated in longer form the next week.
Cody Rhodes moves into the suddenly lively tag division, joining with “The Intellectual Saviour of the Masses” Damien Sandow to form Rhodes Scholars.
Paul Heyman informs us that Brock Lesnar will return when he chooses, for a victim of his choosing…
Over The Limit
Big Show drops the Intercontinental title when he falls to a Barrett Barrage.
The US title rematch that follows sees Drew McIntyre retain thanks to shenanigans.
The finish to AJ Lee vs Maryse sees Maryse go for the French Kiss and block the Northern Lights suplex attempt that follows. AJ sweeps Maryse’s legs and flips over for a surprise three count. AJ celebrates in the ring with Daniel Bryan, who has accompanied her to ringside, while Maryse glares on.
The tag title match is fast paced and high flying when R-Truth isn’t in the ring, and sees The True Kings pick up the tag belts.
Layla (who is criminally under-rated), puts on a brave showing against Beth Phoenix, but fails to topple the Glamazon.
Jericho and Orton go back and forth in the first match to get a good amount of time. The finish comes when Chris Jericho is able to get a sneaky pinfall out of nowhere, hand on the ropes and all.
The cage match between Bryan and Sheamus follows. AJ Lee accompanies Bryan to the ring. The two go back and forth, with Sheamus in control when Maryse jumps AJ from behind, slamming her head into the cage and laying into her with boots. Sheamus stares in shock, and turns around to a leaping knee strike to the jaw. Bryan clambers up the cage at super-speed and drops down to the outside, Maryse scattering. Bryan is awarded his title back, but the moment is over-shadowed by his concern for AJ, who seems to have been seriously hurt by Maryse’s assault.
Kane and Cena sees Cena showing a lot more anger than he has in a long time and Kane looking a lot more dominant than he has in a long time. The ref is bumped in the chaos that follows and Zack Ryder rushes the ring with the cattle prod, but Kane dodges and Cena winds up being shocked unconscious. Ryder eats a chokeslam to the outside of the ring and a beating outside that stops when Khali ambles menacingly towards the ring. Kane returns to the ring as the ref recovers, and covers Cena for a groggy two-count. Kane stalks Cena for a chokeslam, which puts him away for three this time.
A disclaimer from commentary that has been said a number of times in the build to Over The Limit: The following match is not appropriate for children or the faint of heart.
Dean Ambrose comes out first, for his first ever WWE match, to a dark, dirty, bass heavy rock song. He is jumped on the stage by Foley, who grabs him by the neck and slams him into the scaffold for the Titan Tron, before throwing him off the stage and delivering an elbow drop. The younger man is up first, beating and mocking Foley as he takes his time getting him to the ring, dragging it out and enjoying himself, Mick bleeding early from having his head kicked into the side of the ramp. Ambrose brings Mick into the ring and hits an elbow of his own from the top rope, before going outside and setting up a table between the guardrail and the ring apron. He drags Mick up by his hair, but is Cactus Clotheslined over the ropes, sending both men through the table together.
Ambrose, again, is up first, Cole asking how Mick can win this one if everything he does hurts his broken body as much as it does Ambrose’s younger body. Ambrose tries to run Mick’s head into the ring post, but he get shoved into it instead. Foley grabs the ring steps and runs them into Ambrose, before delivering a Double Arm DDT onto the steps, answering Cole’s question. Ambrose is thrown back into the ring, Foley following.
Foley unties the turnbuckle pad and runs a recovering Ambrose head first into them. A series of strikes follows, as does a suplex. Hey look, a wrestling move! Foley gets up and pulls a pair of pliers from his trousers, striking Dean a few times in the head to draw blood, before using the pliers to remove the steel cabling underneath the removed turnbuckle pad. Dean has groggily reached his feet and caught another shot in the head to put him down. Foley returns to the cabling, wrapping it around his hand before walking over to the downed Ambrose and applying the Mandible Claw.
Ambrose fights out with a barrage of punches to the side of Foley’s repeatedly concussed head. Foley topples and Ambrose gets on top of him, laying into him with punches, drawing the blood faster and thicker. Road agents rush the ring to stop the madman, who clears the ring with clotheslines. Foley has pulled himself into the opposite corner and sits, staring at Ambrose. Ambrose stares back, looks at Foley’s blood on his hand, and licks it, swallowing. Ambrose starts to stalk towards Foley again, and the road agents take the chance to jump in again. They manage to pin Ambrose down, and Foley gets back up, staggers towards them and starts throwing punches. Foley and Ambrose work together to clear the ring, then find themselves facing each other from opposite ends.
Dean charges in for a clothesline, but Mick pulls the bottom rope down and ducks, sending Ambrose spilling to the outside. He reaches his feet and staggers backwards, but manages to make it onto the apron and off the apron with a Cactus Elbow. Ambrose stirs to his feet first as Foley lies sprawled half under the ring apron. Ambrose pulls Foley out by the leg, but Foley has a chair, which he delivers to Ambrose’s stomach. Another shot across Ambrose’s back and Ambrose is thrown into the ring. Foley goes to the ring crew to ask for a microphone. He tosses it into the ring and slides in himself. Ambrose is returning to his feet, so that gets cut off with a chair across his back.
Foley drops the chair and props Ambrose in the corner, on his knees, arms tucked behind the ropes. Foley grabs the mic and stares at Ambrose through the blood “Hey Dean, I’m sorry” he spits, dropping the microphone and grabbing the chair. He runs in for a running chair shot to Dean’s head, but Dean has freed his arms, and catches Mick with a spear. Dean grabs the microphone and replies “Hey Mick, I’m not”, before taking the chair and choking Mick with it.
“Good God, he’ll kill him!” exclaims Cole, while Booker T gets up from the commentary desk, gets in the ring and yanks the chair from Ambrose’s hands, tossing it out of the ring. He puts his hands up and backs off, but still gets dropped with a punch. Ambrose lines Booker up for a lariat, then sends him out of the ring. Foley has managed to pull himself to the bottom rope at this point. Ambrose yanks him up by the head and drops him with a Headlock Driver for the three count.
The triple threat for the title follows and for some reason, it features a lot less brawling than your typical WWE main event. The three go back and forth until Punk puts Miz away with a Go To Sleep, with Ziggler still down outside from a failed dive.
The Build To No Way Out
The post Over The Limit RAW sees Dean Ambrose win his first RAW match, against Booker T, with a Headlock Driver, which we learn is called The Human Cost. On the same show, Zack Ryder calls Cena to the ring to apologise for costing him his match against Kane. Ryder extends his hand in friendship. Cena’s fist is clenched and he raises his hand. Ryder flinches and Khali tenses, but Cena drops the hand and opens it up to shake with Ryder. On the RAW following, Cena turns his focus to getting revenge in the name of Mick Foley. Ambrose laughs the threat off, despite coming out on the bad end of a few Attitude Adjustments. Asked why by backstage interviewer Renee Young, Ambrose responds “He’s not real, is he? He’s some cartoon. Honesty always wins. No-one knows the real John Cena, least of all John Cena.” Cena responds with a promo in the ring the next week, promising to put a very real beating on Dean Ambrose at No Way Out…
Christian returns from the injury Punk gave him just before he would have fought for Team Johnny at Wrestlemania 28. Unsurprisingly, he is immediately given a title shot. As one might expect, the mic work is excellent leading up to this one, Christian comparing the main event of Over The Limit to “watching children play” and saying that Punk lacks the experience to be a credible champion, Punk pointing out that the half-year he has held the title so far is a lot better than the absolutely never, not even once that Christian has been WWE Champion and offering to injure Christian again. The battle of generations is set for No Way Out…
Astonishingly, business between Miz and Ziggler remains unfinished, and John Laurinitis just openly gives up on getting those two to get along, booking them in a match at No Way Out, with nothing to gain except the chance to beat the other up and hold the win over their head, which is plenty enough for Miz and Ziggler…
Fresh off two straight PPV wins against Randy Orton and a PPV win over John Cena, Kane is tipped as the clear no.1 contender to the World Heavyweight Title, and would probably have gotten a WWE title shot if John Laurinitis weren’t playing favourites. AJ finds herself once again in peril, from Kane who is chasing her boyfriend’s title and using her to win the psychological battle before they ever step in the ring, from Beth Phoenix whose title she is chasing, and from Maryse, who still holds a grudge. Stressed out from trying to defend his own title and keeping an eye on AJ, Bryan hires a bodyguard: a strapping young Samoan named Roman Reigns. AJ is resistant to the notion of a bodyguard, but Reigns diving into a hairy situation involving Kane seems to warm her a bit, for about as long as it takes Maryse to take advantage of the distraction and plant AJ with a French Kiss. Maryse is officially banned from interfering in AJ Lee vs Beth Phoenix at No Way Out, facing a ninety day suspension if she does interfere. Beth takes the threat that AJ poses a lot more seriously after she nearly lost her title to AJ at Extreme Rules and it looks like two classic big v small title battles are set for No Way Out…
Randy Orton calls Jericho’s victory cheap and gets a rematch, which is won with an RKO out of nowhere. Jericho calls hitting a finisher from a position of losing cheap and a final bout is set, the first ever “Total Victory” match, in which in order to win, a wrestler must get both a pinfall and a submission over the other. Randy Orton tries out various submission holds from legends he beat in his ‘Legend Killer’ years over the following weeks, but still leans on the RKO to win, Jericho mocking from the commentary desk. Can he pull out the submission win when it counts?
The True Kings retain in a RAW rematch with The Colons, and find themselves targeted immediately by The Rhodes Scholars in a story high on comedy that promises good action come No Way Out…
On learning that the first crack at the WHC is going to Kane, rather than his rematch, Sheamus decides he misses having gold too much to wait for “this Kane and Bryan thing, which I think might take a while” to end, so he trades his rematch in for a shot at Drew McIntyre’s US title. Drew asks for a favour from Laurinitis. Johnny can’t get Drew out of the match, but he can add Santino, whom they both know Drew can beat. Big Show opts to cash in his Intercontinental title rematch at No Way Out as well…
Seth Rollins graduates to RAW matches, and is impressing the audience. He gets his first interview backstage, but this is interrupted by Alberto Del Rio, who has been short on TV time lately, and doesn’t appreciate it going to this kid. He reminds Seth that Pay Per View matches are the really important ones, and will do Seth a favour and break him into Pay Per View, then break him at the Pay Per View. Seth offers to do Del Rio a favour in return and not embarrass him too bad in the ring at No Way Out…
No Way Out
An Irishman, a Scotsman and a pretend Italian walk into a ring and fight for the United States title and the Irishman wins when he kicks the Scotsman in the face. Huh. That punchline lacks something.
Alberto Del Rio and Seth Rollins get in the ring next, Del Rio underestimating the young, untested grappler. Seth flies and dives and strikes, until Del Rio is able to bring him to the mat, where Seth surprises Del Rio by proving very capable on that front too. Del Rio remains in control through much of the match and eventually makes Seth tap out, but Seth puts on a very impressive showing here, bringing real fire and fight to what Del Rio thought would be a one-sided trouncing.
Miz and Ziggler are up next, and the bout is heated, but short, as Jack Swagger rushes the ring and jumps Ziggler, the bell ringing the DQ as Miz and Swagger put the boots in.
Beth Phoenix and AJ Lee are on next, wrestling a classic David/Goliath type encounter, AJ using smarts and speed to avoid a lot of the nastier moves, but needing to really get some momentum going to put any real kind of hurt on Beth, while Beth gets the rare shot in, but those ones really, really count. The finish comes when Beth brings AJ up for a Beth Valley Driver, only for AJ Lee to lock in the Octopus Stretch, tapping Beth out to name a new Diva’s Champion. Maryse, having made good on her promise not to attack AJ during the match, spends the match flirting with Roman at ringside, then macing him as soon as the bell rings and jumping AJ immediately afterwards instead.
A pair of quite short title matches follow, Big Show falling to another Barrett Barrage and The Rhodes Scholars using their superior intellect (read: cheating) to claim the tag titles from The True Kings.
Another title match follows, Daniel Bryan defending against Kane. Bryan fights spiritedly against the monster, but Kane seems unstoppable. AJ Lee defies Bryan’s request (verging on command) that she not be at ringside for her own safety and runs out when Kane is choking Bryan. She enters the ring and shoves Kane roughly, her maced bodyguard nowhere to be seen (and not seeing too much himself). Kane turns around to menace AJ Lee. Bryan, once he gets back to his senses, sees what is going on and gets himself DQ’d deliberately against Kane with a low blow, before grabbing AJ and his title and making a dash for it.
Ambrose and Cena follow the World Heavyweight Title match, and engage in an energetic brawl of a match that thankfully doesn’t go the bloodbath route that Ambrose’s match with Foley or Cena’s match with Brock went. Ambrose fights viciously and uses the longer PPV format to show off some wrestling skills as well as his vicious fighting. Cena makes a valiant babyface comeback at the end, which is cut off when Ambrose drops out the back of an Attitude Adjustment and quickly hits a Human Cost for the three count.
Orton and Jericho go up next in the “Total Victory” match, going back and forth in a fairly straightforward and toughly contested battle. Orton claims the first fall quite early with an RKO but struggles to get to the submission fall, Jericho seeming to have an answer for everything that he tries. Roddy Piper’s Sleeper Hold sees Orton pushed back into the turnbuckle and sent toppling first to the apron, then to the floor with a triangle dropkick, a crossbody by Jericho following him. Jericho turns a Figure Four around to reverse the pressure. A Cobra Clutch is countered by a Stunner, Jericho seemingly deciding that if Orton can steal a finish, so can Jericho. Jericho’s Stunner only gets a two. Jericho is able to trip Orton up while Orton tries to figure out the Sharpshooter, and locks on The Walls of Jericho for a submission victory. Orton is now placed in the tough spot where he needs one that’s hard for him, while a Code-Breaker can come, much like the RKO, almost out of nowhere.
Orton wrestles very cautiously, but dropping this killer instinct gives the clear advantage to Jericho. Orton finally mounts a comeback and gets some momentum rolling. He runs in for a clothesline, him and the crowd enjoying his comeback, when Jericho decides to counter with a Code-Breaker. Orton’s instincts kick in and he blocks it at the last second, turning it around into a Walls of Jericho of his own. Middle of the ring, nowhere to go, and Jericho taps to his own finisher. The two shake hands after the bout.
The main event, which sees CM Punk defend against Christian, is a very wrestling oriented main event, telling a simple story of Punk’s youth vs Christian’s veteran grab bag of dirty tricks, with both men’s exceptional skill at wrestling coming into play. Punk goes over clean with a Go To Sleep.
The Build To Money In The Bank
The line up for the WWE title MITB match is Christian, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Sheamus and Wade Barrett. Qualifications of note are that Orton gets his spot by defeating John Cena; Ziggler gets revenge on Jack Swagger to get his spot, Swagger revealing that being left behind by Ziggler’s single run made him jealous and angry and Sheamus wins his spot by beating Drew McIntyre in a match that serves both as the MITB qualifier and a US title rematch.
The line up for the World Heavyweight Title MITB match is Dean Ambrose, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins, Lord Tensai, Ryback and Antonio Cesaro.
On the RAW after No Way Out, AJ Lee gives an almost tearful promo expressing her joy over winning the Diva’s title. Accompanying her backstage are Roman and Bryan. Bryan interrupts AJ’s promo to talk about AJ getting hurt, blaming Roman for it “Idiot! You really thought the pretty blonde French woman was flirting with you because she liked you? She was just using you” “Well, he is very pretty” AJ retorts, recovering from having her moment stepped on “What’s that supposed to mean?” “What, you can call Maryse, who hates me almost as much as I hate her, pretty and I can’t compliment my bodyguard?” And so on. Renee suggests we cut away to the ring as Bryan and AJ argue while Roman looks sheepishly to the side.
In the following weeks, Kane is given a hardcore rematch against Bryan, menacing AJ all through the build. AJ also has to worry about Beth Phoenix, who demands her rematch. AJ gives it to her, also offering to Maryse that “since you’re waiting in the wings to sneak attack me, how about you do it to my face? Make this a triple threat, see if a little gold will cure that nasty coward problem you have.” Maryse accepts, and the situation quickly turns into a brawl. In the chaos, Kane comes out to attack AJ, but is interrupted by Roman on the ramp. Roman eats a chokeslam however, and AJ takes one too, before Bryan runs Kane off with a steel chair. Things are spiralling out of control on all fronts as we head into No Way Out…
Alberto Del Rio and Seth Rollins have another, longer match on RAW, serving to showcase Seth’s fire and Del Rio’s viciousness. Del Rio wins and his viciousness impresses Laurinitis enough for him to line Del Rio up as the next challenger for CM Punk’s title. Punk is growing increasingly frustrated by Laurinitis’ grudge against him. Del Rio points out that he ended Punk’s last title run and promises to end this one too…
Elsewhere on TV:
Out of the Money In The Bank match, Cena turns his attention to Summerslam and begins trash talking Brock Lesnar at every opportunity, making stupid photoshops asking what “The Beast” is doing. Usually, it’s something not traditionally coded as masculine! Oh John, how you make us all laugh.
Money In The Bank
The World Heavyweight Championship MITB match between Dean Ambrose, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins, Lord Tensai, Ryback and Antonio Cesaro opens the show off. Beginning with a brawl, Tensai and Ryback, both recent debuts who are undefeated monsters, quickly clear the ring, and the first of many big pops comes for the two facing off. They battle it out in big moves fairly evenly as the rest slowly feed in. Ambrose plays the match cautiously, watching from outside, waiting for someone to look vulnerable, and then jumping them as soon as they do. Seth puts on an excellent showing tonight, throwing himself around with wild abandon, the early highlight of which comes when the match has broken into a brawl on the outside, Seth diving out on each of the four sides of the ring to hit different wrestlers, hitting one side, rolling back into the ring and hitting the other. His final dive, soundtracked by “This is Awesome!” sees him crash into Cesaro, who has been watching, and has the strength, skill and awareness to catch Seth and powerbomb him in one fluid motion.
Ryback looks to have the match won at one point, but is locked into a powerbomb position by Tensai, who starts running with Ryback to throw him out of the ring. Ryback uses pure power to not be thrown, but to drag Tensai over and out with him. The two fight each other viciously outside, until a Ryback spear breaks the barrier before the timekeeper’s area. Jericho and Ambrose pair off on one end of the ring, with Seth and Cesaro at the other. Jericho manages a triangle dropkick on Ambrose, sending him to the outside, and Jericho starts climbing. Cesaro, being worked over in the corner by Rollins, spots this and grabs Seth, using him as a javelin to knock Jericho off the ladder. Cesaro’s ascent is interrupted by Dean Ambrose, who climbs up behind him and hits a low blow, then a russian leg sweep, sending both crashing to the mat.
Everyone down and this one stumbles back into motion. Ryback starts moving towards the ring, but Tensai grabs his leg and pulls him back into a fistfight. Jericho takes a ladder and knocks Seth out of the ring, then Cesaro. Ambrose has rolled himself from the ring, and waits for Jericho to feel secure in climbing, before pulling his feet out, splatting him face first into the canvas. He pulls further, bringing Jericho outside, where he double foot stomps his head. Ambrose comes back in and claims the briefcase. Dean Ambrose can challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship any time in the next calendar year.
The Rhodes Scholars retain against The True Kings in a cool down match to follow that picks up some impressive steam towards the end.
The triple threat for the Divas title is a story of AJ and Maryse being focussed on each other, much to the advantage of Beth Phoenix, who really demands an opponent’s full attention. With AJ down and out outside the ring, Beth looks to have the match won with a Beth Valley Driver on Maryse, only for AJ to springboard off the apron with a bulldog to Beth, causing both her opponents to crash painfully to the ground, Maryse taking the worst of it as she takes a modified Beth Valley Driver. Beth is starting to get to her knees, which is a mistake, as it allows AJ to finally hit that Shining Wizard for the three.
AJ stays at ringside celebrating with Roman, also at ringside, when Kane’s music hits. Roman stands protectively in front of AJ and braces himself as Kane makes a threatening lunge. Roman flinches and Kane laughs. Bryan comes out and the war is on. Kane starts off strong, but Bryan makes a fiery comeback. A diving dropkick to the outside in the midst of the fury sees Kane throw Roman in the way and take control back. Kane is choking Bryan with malicious intent when AJ runs up behind and throws her leg between his, dropping him to his knees, where he eats a Shining Wizard. Menaced by Kane for two months, AJ stands over him and screams cathartically in his face. Byran and Kane each get back up at the same time and go back and forth with big moves, until Bryan is able to counter a chokeslam attempt into the No Lock for the win.
Punk and Del Rio each look like they want to put the other on the shelf, trading hard kicks and cruel submissions from the word go in a long and vicious battle. Punk has it won with a Go To Sleep, but John Laurinitis, who has accompanied Del Rio to ringside, pulls the ref from the ring before he can count the three. Staring at Laurinitis, Punk reaches his feet and Laurinitis flees around the ring to the ramp, where he’s caught with a plancha and lifted for a Go To Sleep. Punk comes back in to the ring and immediately catches a superkick, but the downed ref takes too long to make the count and Punk is able to kick out. Punk and Del Rio resume their battle, the finish coming when Del Rio counters a Go To Sleep into a Cross Armbreaker, which Punk is able to roll into an Anaconda Vice to tap Del Rio out and retain.
The WWE Title MITB match between Christian, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Sheamus and Wade Barrett is next. Ziggler and The Miz spend the fight focussed entirely on each other, neither making many attempts at scaling the ladder, but using ladders on each other frequently. Orton and Christian are the announce team’s favourites to win this one, Orton because he is by far the biggest name in the match and Christian because of his ladder match experience. Ultimately, however, neither takes the briefcase, as it is Sheamus who claims the right to challenge for the WWE Title any time in the next calendar year.
The Build To Summerslam
The second RAW of this build period is the RAW 1000 super-show. As such, builds are broken down into RAW 999, RAW 1000, RAW 1001 and Beyond. Of note is Randy Orton’s absence, which is not mentioned on the show, but which talk on the internet puts down to a drug suspension.
RAW opens with the announcement that RAW 1000 will be headlined by CM Punk and Daniel Bryan in a champion vs champion exhibition match, and that both will be given the opportunity to pick a warm-up partner for tonight. Daniel Bryan comes out immediately and brings up his and Punk’s rivalry to be the best wherever they went from pre-WWE days. He says he’s excited to answer the question in a WWE ring, before the biggest audience possible. For his opponent tonight, he chooses Seth Rollins, who impressed the hell out of him at last night’s Money In The Bank Pay Per View.
Heyman appears as representative to Brock Lesnar to announce that Brock Lesnar will be at RAW 1000 to pick a victim for Summerslam, and declare his intention to watch tonight in person to help advise Lesnar on his choice of victim.
Money In The Bank winner Dean Ambrose makes his way to the ring and is talking up the danger that he poses, when he is interrupted by Chris Jericho, who comes down to the ring to claim that Ambrose stole that briefcase from him. Dean retorts that maybe if Jericho had his killer instinct, he would’ve had the kind of success his talent deserves, rather than being an also-ran who got lucky a few times. Jericho responds by immediately dropping Ambrose with a Code-Breaker, then taking the microphone and asking if that’s killer instinct enough for Ambrose.
CM Punk is out next. He likewise promotes his match, but with the ego shining through, saying that Bryan, with all respect, is wearing the number two belt, which makes him almost as good as Punk, which was always the case, really. Almost as good, he points out, is a hell of a lot closer than anyone else on this roster can say and he respects Bryan and looks forward to having to fight harder than usual to win. He offers anyone backstage the opportunity of a lifetime: who thinks they can hang with the Best in the World on a huge stage? Cesaro answers, and the match is on. The two work tight and fast, all counters and chains, strikes and submissions, drawing a “This is Awesome” chant before Punk is able to get the win with an Anaconda Vice.
Ryback works a squash match. He is heading up the ramp when Tensai appears, sprays him with green mist and hits a choke-bomb.
The return of Rey Mysterio is announced for RAW 1000, with Alberto Del Rio handpicked as his opponent.
Dolph Ziggler hits the ring, mic in hand, to challenge Miz to a match at Summerslam. He is interrupted by Jack Swagger and Vickie Guerrero, angry to have been left behind by Ziggler’s desire to go it alone. Swagger and Ziggler wrestle a good match, Ziggler giving a lot on Swagger’s offence in aid of a big comeback, which is interrupted by a Miz run in, drawing the DQ.
The next announcement for RAW 1000 is that Lita will return and will wrestle a non-title match against AJ Lee. We cut backstage to AJ in full on mark out mode, jumping up and down with glee and practically hyper-ventilating.
Bryan and Rollins headline in a match that starts out quick and builds steam, releasing in a high spot, to build back up again until another release is called for. Back and forth they trade the momentum, countering moves and finding their counters countered, drawing Paul Heyman out onto the ramp to watch in person. On and on the two go, evenly matched, building now to a blistering pace, until the finish sees them fighting on the top rope, each barely balanced on it, until Seth brings Bryan crashing down with a swinging neckbreaker. Both men are hit hard from the crash, and are unable to answer a ten count.
Brock Lesnar makes his way out first with Paul Heyman, who declares that the winner of the Champion vs Champion bout will win the honour of defending that title against Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. Cena interrupts, and manages to goad Lesnar into fighting him at Summerslam instead.
Maryse cuts a promo mocking AJ’s reaction to the Lita news.
Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio have another excellent clash, with the returning Mysterio coming out strongly on top.
Renee interviews AJ Lee about her match tonight with Lita, and her excited reaction to it. AJ says that Lita was her hero growing up, made her realise she could be a wrestler and that wrestling Lita is the second biggest dream of her life, after winning the Diva’s title. She gestures to her shoulder and sighs. Life is good.
Chris Jericho has Ric Flair on The Highlight Reel. The two start talking career highlights when Dean Ambrose hits the ring and starts taking heads with his MITB briefcase, before bringing the set crashing down around the two legends, Jericho’s head taking a nasty beating.
Backstage, Miz says that jumping Ziggler was his way of accepting Ziggler’s challenge, and is so confident that he will beat Ziggler that he will let Ziggler pick the stipulation for their Summerslam match.
Lita vs AJ Lee begins with a handshake, then a quick exchange of arm drags and arm bars, ending in an AJ Lee dropkick. AJ hits the ropes for a knee drop, but Lita hits a monkey flip to send AJ crashing to the other end of the ring. AJ starts to get up, but takes a dropkick to the outside, which is followed by a cross body from the top rope to the outside, drawing a “You’ve Still Got It” from the crowd. Lita rolls AJ back in and follows, but AJ recovers enough to hit a swinging neckbreaker, followed by a suplex. Cover gets two. AJ locks on a front face lock, but Lita reaches her feet and flips her over and bridges for two. A quick arm drag follows, then a dropkick, sending AJ into the corner. Lita delivers a running dropkick into the corner, then props AJ onto the top rope for a superplex, which AJ counters into a cross-body at the last moment. Cover gets two, and AJ hits the ropes for a Shining Wizard. Lita is close enough to the ropes to get a foot on the bottom one, however. AJ pulls Lita further away, then climbs the turnbuckle to give Lita a moonsault. Lita gets the knees up, refusing to be hit with her own move. AJ staggers back towards the turnbuckle, where Lita hits a tornado DDT. This time, it’s AJ who gets a foot on the ropes. Lita pulls her towards the middle, then up to her feet in a front facelock. She signals that she’s going for the Twist of Fate, but AJ grabs the opportunity for a northern lights suplex, putting Lita away for three. Handshake after the match, Lita and AJ each holding the other’s arm up. Roman Reigns is notably absent from ringside.
An in-ring D-X reunion is interrupted by the tag team champions, Rhodes Scholars, who mock the age of the various personalities assembled in the ring, culminating in a skit where Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg are living together and Dogg throws his hip out, again. “Oh you didn’t know? Well your ass better call somebody….to take me to the hospital”. Road Dogg, pissed, takes the mic and challenges the tag champions to a match at Summerslam, which they accept.
Cut to backstage, where Renee breaks in with a scoop that Roman Reigns has been found attacked, hanging upside down from a chain. She leads us to see medics and road agents struggling to pull Roman down and administer aid.
Beth Phoenix comes down to the ring to announce her retirement. Suddenly, a brand new theme tune, staccato buzzing guitar with an ominous bassline below, plays, and out comes a woman WWE audiences have never seen before: Sara Del Rey. Beth and Sara have a stare down mid-ring, Beth raising the mic to ask what SDR is doing here, only to be trucked with a massive forearm. Beth stumbles backwards and eats a spinning forearm that sends her over the top rope. Beth looks to get back in there with Sara, but Sara is holding the high ground and Beth thinks better of it.
Maryse bumps into Lita backstage and mocks her loss.
The Clash of Champions in the main event is a great back and forth battle, soured by the ending, which sees Seth Rollins rush the ring to hit a Curb Stomp on Daniel Bryan. The bell is rung and Seth and Punk laugh and hug, before continuing to put the boots to Bryan. Reigns, bandaged up, rushes the ring to protect Bryan and uses his explosive power to clear the ring, before Lesnar comes down. Reigns braces himself to fight Lesnar, but Punk and Seth take the distraction to jump Reigns. Out comes Cena to even the odds, but he finds himself laid out with an F-5. The three men raise each other’s arms in celebration of their dominance.
RAW 1001 And Beyond
Heyman, Lesnar, Punk and Rollins are laughing. Punk reminds the WWE Universe that he proudly declared himself “A Paul Heyman Guy” over a year ago, but that they’ve been trained to have short memories. He says that him and Lesnar are proof of Heyman’s eye for talent. With Rollins on their side, the Heyman dynasty is secure for years to come.
AJ Lee has had enough of Maryse and challenges her to a match at Summerslam. Maryse accepts, reminding AJ that she has always got everything she wants, and AJ’s title will be no exception. Women like Maryse win, its that simple.
Tensai works a squash match and is immediately jumped by Ryback following it. A clash of undefeated monsters is on the cards for Summerslam.
A furious Roman Reigns declares that Kane had attacked him backstage, and challenges Kane to a match at Summerslam, Roman’s in-ring debut.
Chris Jericho, with a bandaged head, challenges Dean Ambrose to a bout at Summerslam. Dean happily accepts.
Miz defeats often-time Ziggler opponent Kofi Kingston, and asks what stipulation Ziggler has picked. Ziggler chooses a cage match for Summerslam, since it will keep interference away and give Ziggler a lot of fun new ways to hurt Miz. Miz grins widely, clearly also finding the idea fun.
Interviews with the indy guys, who talk about Sara Del Rey, and the Divas play up just how much wrestling Beth hurts. We’re clearly in for a battle come Summerslam…
The New Age Outlaws return to action, defeating Legally Strong and The Colons in RAW bouts that force The Rhodes Scholars to take them seriously.
Rey Mysterio brings up his Wrestlemania win against CM Punk as proof that he can beat Punk when it really counts, and is named Punk’s opponent for Summerslam. Seth Rollins is named the top contender to Daniel Bryan’s World Heavyweight Title, and the RAW prior to Summerslam is headlined by an excellent Punk/Rollins vs Bryan/Mysterio tag match that unfortunately breaks down when Lesnar comes out to pre-injure Bryan and Mysterio. This brings out Cena and the last RAW before Summerslam ends in a wild brawl…
Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho open Summerslam off hot in a spirited bout. Jericho’s head clearly isn’t a hundred percent, however, and every time Jericho gets on the offence, Ambrose is inevitably able to get some nasty shot in on it. Focussing on Jericho’s head, Ambrose punishes Jericho brutally before putting him down with The Human Cost. After the bout, Ambrose blasts Jericho’s head with the MITB briefcase, laying him out.
Roman Reigns and Kane battle next. The match serves mostly to get Roman’s signature spots over, the spear, the apron dropkick, countering a running Kane with a belly-to-belly suplex, hitting the Superman Punch for the three.
The New Age Outlaws get nostalgia spots in en route to losing to The Rhodes Scholars, who retain their tag titles.
Tensai vs Ryback follows, going back and forth with big moves. Ryback looks to have it won at the end, lining Tensai up for a meat hook clothesline, only to have it countered into a bicycle kick. Ryback returns to his feet, anger on his face, then green mist on his face. Tensai hits a double handed choke bomb to get the three.
Maryse gets into the ring with a pissed off AJ Lee, and oh, it does not end well for her. This one is just a one-sided destruction. Kicks, forearms, suplexes, DDTs, a Shining Wizard and finally a three count. AJ Lee retains her Diva’s Title.
Sara Del Rey and Beth Phoenix are on next. The match begins with a furious exchange of forearms that slowly pushes Beth against the ropes, which she is whipped off of, a lariat to the back of the head following. Sara hits a double stomp to the ribs, then a knee drop to the head, then a dropkick to the outside. Sara follows outside and tries to whip Beth into the ring-post, but it is reversed. Beth grabs Sara by the head and brings her face first into the ring-post again, before tossing her into the guardrail. Beth breaks the count, then climbs onto the apron to hit a double-axe handle on SDR. Beth whips Sara ribs first into the ring-apron, then shoves her back in, where she takes a snap suplex.
Beth waits for Sara to stand, then backs her into the corner with forearms, lifting her up top for a superplex. Cover gets two. Sara pulled up by the head for a Beth Valley Driver, but she blocks it and chucks huge knees into Beth’s ribs and face until she falls to sitting, where she takes a brutal dropkick to the face. Fisherman’s suplex follows, the hold kept on for a fisherman’s neckbreaker. Sara Del Rey yanks Beth Phoenix up from behind and scores a straight-jacket suplex for two. SDR stands a distance away and waits for Beth to stand, at which point she takes a charging forearm that stumbles Beth Phoenix back into the ropes. SDR drops her head for a backdrop, but takes a powerbomb instead for two. Beth pulls Sara up, but is rolled up for two. Sara pulls Beth back up, but Beth pulls her legs out and uses the genetic memory all Canadians possess to lock a Sharpshooter on.
Sara is in agony, but powers to the ropes. She begins to stand, but eats kicks to the ribs that stagger her back into the corner. Whip to the opposite corner, but Sara reverses it. Beth hits the turnbuckles hard and stumbles backwards into a release German suplex. Beth starts getting up, but is put in the Royal Butterfly (a butterfly lock transitioned into a butterfly suplex, for those uninitiated into the greatness of Sara Del Rey), that scores a three count. Sara leaves first, allowing the retiring Beth Phoenix to enjoy an ovation in the ring for a great performance.
Seth Rollins challenges Daniel Bryan for his World Heavyweight title in the following bout. Bryan starts out on the attack, fast and furious, until Seth dodges a charge. Getting the crowd on his case early, Seth opts to wear Bryan down rather than keep the pace fast. Bryan’s hardly a slouch at ring-work, however, and the two hold a chain-wrestling clinic concluding in both kipping up to their feet and facing off, hands up. Somewhere backstage, Dean Malenko smiles wide.
A trade of strikes follows, ending in Seth raking at Bryan’s face, bringing an elbow down atop Bryan’s head, locking an arm wringer on and delivering kick after kick to Bryan’s head. Seth takes control from here, until he goes for a powerbomb into the corner, only for Bryan to spin it into a DDT. Bryan’s on the offence, Seth’s on the run, and finally ends up outside by sheer force of strikes. Bryan goes for a suicide dive, but Seth springboards off the apron to hit Bryan with an enzuigiri just as he leaves the ropes, sprawling Bryan with his back on the apron. Seth pulls Bryan up by the head and scores an apron DDT.
From here, its all Seth again, hitting a variety of suplexes, then going up to the top. Seth waits for Bryan to stand and leaps off with a knee, but Bryan does a forward somersault to avoid it. Bryan pulls himself to the top rope and comes off with a top rope headscissors for two. A No-Lock attempt follows, but Seth rolls through to his feet. Both men consider a dropkick the best option at this point, and both fall without hitting each other. The two cautiously circle each other and the next patch of the match comes at a careful pace, each knowing how dangerous the other is.
An announcement over the PA system that the match has hit the half hour mark and there are five minutes remaining before it is declared a time limit draw changes all of this, and the next five minutes are an intense sprint of big moves that are countered, whose counters are countered. The blistering pace remains, but neither is able to put the other away, and this one is called a time-limit draw.
The cage hanging above the ring lowers for the next bout. Miz and Ziggler work a very-old school kind of cage match, using the cage as a weapon as much as possible. The finish comes when Ziggler gets up on the top rope, only to be shoved off into the cage. Miz hits the ropes and runs back to kick Ziggler’s head into the cage. Ziggler falls and lies under the ropes and Miz starts to climb. Ziggler is able to pull himself back up at the last second, and leaps to the top rope, then to be besides Miz on the cage, where he hits a huge Zig-Zag that snaps Miz viciously into the mat. Ziggler is slow in getting up, but Miz plain isn’t getting up. Ziggler climbs up, over and out.
CM Punk’s title defence against Rey Mysterio follows. Mysterio shows fire, but Punk has a willingness to target Rey’s injured knee, perhaps even a joy in targetting Rey’s injured knee. This one doesn’t last too long and Punk never looks in real danger of dropping his title. The question remains, who can put him at that risk?
Cena and Brock close out Summerslam. Cena shows a new, more vicious edge that has Brock in a lot more trouble than he was the last time around. It isn’t enough to stop Brock getting Cena up for an F-5, but Cena’s legs catch the ref in the head as he’s spun for the F-5, downing the ref. Brock yanks Cena back up, but Cena throws a low-blow that doubles Brock over, then DDTs Brock onto his knee. Cena rolls outside, shoves Heyman over and gets a chair from under the ring. Back inside, Cena slams the chair repeatedly into Brock’s ribs, until he sees the ref start to stir. He tosses the chair from the ring and pulls Brock up for an Attitude Adjustment that manages to get a three.
End Of Part One.