Re-Writing The Book: The (Unpublished) Novel, Part IV

3 Submitted by on Fri, 17 April 2015, 21:05

by Neil Cathan

What if…John Cena’s Worst Year Ever Actually Was?

And

What if…The Planned Dean Ambrose/Mick Foley Program Had Happened?

The Road To Summerslam 2013

The Build To Extreme Rules

The first RAW after Wrestlemania opens with the man who did what, for 514 days, no-one else could: new WWE champion Dolph Ziggler. Huge grin on his face, he soaks up the response of the crowd and starts to talk about how much this title means to him, how much of a dream this is. Out comes the former champion, CM Punk, who marches to the ring to accuse Dolph of wearing his title. One lucky night does not erase the fact that the title and CM Punk are one and the same. Besides, Dolph wouldn’t even be wearing that gold if Seth Rollins had done his job. Cue Seth Rollins, out into the ring, Dolph shrugging and rolling his eyes. He just wanted to enjoy this moment, guys. But fine, whatever. Seth gets into Punk’s face about how Punk wasn’t there for his match against Orton, after Rollins had saved Punk’s title twice, three times if you include Punk throwing Seth under the bus at Elimination Chamber after Seth had already saved Punk from getting his ass kicked by The Rock. Punk wouldn’t even have made it to Wrestlemania if it wasn’t for Seth. If it wasn’t for Punk, Seth would probably have been in that title match, so if Punk’s going to try to complain his way into a rematch, Seth has a problem with that. Out comes Orton, who has kind words for no-one. Punk held onto that title by increasingly cheap methods, Seth’s a kid who got his ass handed to him last night by Orton and Dolph Ziggler is a fluke. Dolph gets up in Orton’s face. Things are about to explode in the ring when Also Sprach Zarathusta hits the speakers. Ric Flair struts out, enjoys his pop and explains why he’s here, ignoring Punk’s sarcastic “Crippling debt?” response. Triple H needed someone to run RAW after he fired Laurinitis for being so ineffectual, and as ever, he turned to The Nature Boy. And Flair’s first order of business is to set the main event of Extreme Rules: A Fatal Four Way over the title, between Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk, Seth Rollins and Randy Orton. The second order of business is to set the main event for tonight’s RAW: a tag match (CM Punk: “Playa. Bet its Teddy in a really good costume.”) with Punk and Rollins facing Randy Orton and the new WWE champion, Dolph Ziggler.

The match itself is characterised by fast paced action and by tension between both sides. The ending comes when Punk tags Seth in against Dolph, then blasts Seth with a roundhouse kick to the head from behind. Seth staggers into a Zig Zag and a pin as Punk walks away laughing. Dolph is coming up from the pin when he finds Orton waiting for him with an RKO. No-one trusts or likes each other going into this battle. Will Dolph Ziggler prove to be a fluke? Will Punk reclaim what he says “will always be my property”? Will Seth Rollins shock the world? Will Orton rack up a seventh WWE title run? Answers at Extreme Rules

Another new champion makes her way out on the post-Mania RAW: New Diva’s Champion AJ Lee. After staring for a long time at her life’s dream, the Diva’s title, AJ talks about how happy she is to be back with her one true love. But the night was tainted by Daniel Bryan. “Bryan,” she says “there was never anything between me and Roman beyond friendship. But last night, when I defeated my arch-rival to reclaim my title, last night, which should have been the happiest night of my career, no, my life, last night you made me watch you beat up my friend. I should have said this a long time ago, Bryan. It’s over between us. All I need is my Diva’s title.” Out comes Sara Del Rey

“Waah, waah, relationship, break up, girly crap. Spoken like a true champion, AJ. Enjoy your title while it lasts, I’m cashing in my rematch clause at Extreme Rules.”

“Fine by me. I took everything you had to offer last night and I still beat you one, two, three. Extreme Rules will be no different.”

“Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong. See, the office likes a match to have a little something extra at Extreme Rules. And ours? It’s going to be a Submission match. You can’t win by luckily getting my shoulders to the mat for three seconds. You have to tap me out. But you won’t. Come Extreme Rules, I’m going to make you beg for your life. And then when I’m back in my rightful place, you can run back to your stupid little boyfriend, because a stupid little piece of arm-candy is all you’re good for, AJ.”

The feud becomes increasingly heated over the following weeks and a new stipulation is added: if Sara wins, AJ can never again challenge her for the Diva’s title. If AJ wins, Sara must leave the WWE. The two rivals are set for their final battle at Extreme Rules

Later in the same show, Daniel Bryan comes out heartbroken. Weeping openly in the middle of the ring, he begs AJ to come back, promises to change, pleads for one more chance. Dean Ambrose’s music hits the speakers at this point, and the owner of the Money In The Bank contract for Daniel Bryan’s title makes his way to the ring and hands the briefcase in. Taking advantage of Bryan’s despair, Ambrose picks the champion apart to raise the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time in his career. Interviewed about it later, Ambrose laughs “see, my whole life, my brain has just been one giant scab that I can’t stop picking at. I’ve got nerve damage in my arm, I don’t see right from one of my eyes, I’ve got scars and burns that will never heal, but all of that’s nothing to what’s been done to my brain. But this? This is a nice salve. I think it’s the world’s turn to hurt.” Ric Flair makes the rematch for Extreme Rules, since Ambrose won the right to steal the title like that in a ladder match, he will defend it in a ladder match. Bryan is limp and mentally absent throughout the build, his heart just not in being Daniel Bryan any more. Can he pull himself together in time to take his title back?…

John Cena made a grave mistake in the eyes of The Rock. He showed a new, violent attitude to one of the men iconic of The Attitude Era. So, if John wants to play tough guy, The Rock will oblige. At Extreme Rules, The Rock will fight John Cena in an Extreme Rules match. John Cena responds that he would have thought that the beating he gave Rock at Wrestlemania would have been enough to drive him away, but that if there’s one thing that The Rock’s diminishing returns have proved, its that he doesn’t know when enough is enough. The only option left to him is to injure Rock so badly at Extreme Rules that he is medically incapable of returning. Throughout the build, Cena makes a target of Roman Reigns, forcing Rock to actually be physically present at RAW. The Cena/Rock series is set to end, the final chapter in the trilogy will be written at Extreme Rules

Ric Flair bumps into Sheamus backstage, both the US and Intercontinental titles slung over a shoulder each. Flair is glad he did, he’s been meaning to talk to Sheamus since he got here. Sheamus’s hunt to hold all titles at once has made him, or perhaps given him the opportunity to, neglect title defences. So, at Extreme Rules, Sheamus will defend the US and Intercontinental Titles in a triple threat match, the first fall for the US title, the second fall for the Intercontinental. If Sheamus can hold onto both titles, then he deserves a chance to add another belt to his collection. Two four-man tournaments are held, Cesaro winning the first and Wade Barrett, tag partner of Sheamus’ in Bad Neighbours, wins the second. Barrett and Sheamus’ tense friendship goes into full on bitter rivalry, the bad blood between both nations feeding into it. No blows are thrown, but the two make cracks about Englishmen and Irishmen at every chance they get. Cesaro’s finalist spot was won against Cody Rhodes when Damien Sandow, former partner of Cody Rhodes, attacked Cody. Sandow has been left behind by Cody’s decision to pursue single’s success. The two will wrestle at Extreme Rules, with the winner getting a match of their choosing at Payback

New Tag Team Champions Legally Strong (David Otunga and Mark Henry) won the belts in an elimination tag bout at Wrestlemania. With the last team eliminated, Bad Neighbours, busy with other titles, the penultimate team eliminated, Big On The Internet (The Great Khali and Zack Ryder) will challenge at Extreme Rules. And as Legally Strong were not responsible for that elimination, the stipulation for their bout is that in order to win, a team must pin both members of the other team.

Having failed to defeat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, Chris Jericho sets his sights on the next best thing: Undertaker’s brother, Kane, in an Extreme Rules match…

Elsewhere on TV:

Creepy videos begin playing for a Bayou cult leader and his three followers, two huge and insane looking men and a pale, sinister woman.

The Usos begin to pick up steam in the tag division.

Extreme Rules:

Extreme Rules starts with the ladder match for the World Heavyweight Championship. Ambrose starts on the attack. The first big spot of the match comes when Ambrose has Bryan beaten down in the ring and goes outside to fetch a ladder. Bryan recovers in time to hit a baseball slide on Ambrose, kicking the ladder into him. Bryan hits the opposite ropes and comes back with a senton over the top rope. Ambrose raises the ladder as a shield, but it is only half effective. Bryan’s back is obviously hurt from this, but Ambrose gets his chest crushed under a ladder with the force of one whole Bryan. The next big spot comes shortly after, as both men stagger painfully to their feet, Ambrose begins to rock Bryan up the ramp with punch after punch, then setting up The Human Cost on the ramp. Bryan slips behind however, and delivers a german suplex, cracking both of their heads down on the ramp. Big spot number three comes when Ambrose suplexes Bryan chest first across the ring steps, then dropkicks his head into the steps. The next comes with Bryan staggering around ringside, not himself, just trying to get away from Ambrose’s punches. Ambrose takes a ladder and charges Bryan with it, downing him. He sets the ladder between the apron and the barrier, then takes Bryan and suplexes him chest first onto it. Bryan slides off and Ambrose follows, crotching him on the ladder. He pushes Bryan so that he is trapped between rungs, then stands on the apron and delivers kick after kick after kick to Bryan’s head. Satisfied, he goes to get another ladder and claim his prize. Worn out, worn down, worn through, Bryan cannot stop him.

Chris Jericho and Kane follow in a quick match that plays as an Attitude Era tribute match. A lot of punching, a lot of props, Jericho using top rope moves heavily, Kane using big slams heavily. Jericho wins the bout with a Code Breaker.

Damien Sandow vs Cody Rhodes is up next. The only straight wrestling match on the card, it starts fairly technical, before moving to Sandow using his size and strength to dominate Rhodes. Rhodes is able to mount a comeback with a flurry of kicks leading into an array of suplexes. A cheap shot turns things back Sandow’s way briefly, until Rhodes dodges a charge in the corner to hit Sandow with the Disasterkick and a Cross Rhodes for the three count.

The first fall of the tag titles match comes when Otunga hits Ryder with The Verdict. The second comes when Otunga is hit with The Brain Chop. The match moves to Mark Henry and The Great Khali as its focus now and it is very, very slow. After what feels like forever, Mark Henry puts The Great Khali away for three.

The international two falls triple threat between Sheamus, Cesaro and Wade Barrett follows. The first fall will be for Sheamus’ US title, the second for his Intercontinental title. Sheamus and Barrett start the match rushing each other with strikes, Cesaro happy to stand back and watch them wear themselves out. Sheamus pushes Barrett back into the corner and sets up for a superplex early. Cesaro sees a chance to run in and takes it, moving under Sheamus for a powerbomb, Barrett getting extra height and speed to fall from. Lucky him. Cesaro covers Barrett, but Sheamus breaks it up and throws Cesaro through the ropes to the outside. Barrett comes back up and lays into Sheamus, whipping him to the nearest turnbuckle. Sheamus bounces chest first and turns around, using the momentum for a fierce clothesline. Barrett stumbles up and takes another, sending him over the top rope. Sheamus moves out onto the apron and runs off it for a shoulder block onto Barrett. Cesaro moves over and hurls Sheamus into the guardrail. Cesaro is following up, but Barrett grabs him from behind and the two start brawling near the bottom of the ramp. Sheamus pulls himself back up and into the ring. He climbs up to the top turnbuckle and comes off with a cross body onto both his challengers. Sheamus picks Barrett up and suplexes him chest first onto the apron, heading back inside to deliver the ten clubbing forearms on the apron. While he is doing this, Cesaro has recovered and climbed a nearby turnbuckle, so that when Sheamus is finished, he turns around into a corkscrew european uppercut. Barrett comes back in and hits Cesaro with a running neckbreaker. He hoists Sheamus up and whips him towards the corner, only for Sheamus to counter. Sheamus tries again to get Barrett for a superplex, but Barrett grabs Sheamus by the head and swings out, landing on his feet and snap suplexing Sheamus. Sheamus gets up to his knees and takes a swift side kick to the head. Cesaro back up with a flurry of european uppercuts to Barrett, capped off with a belly to belly suplex across the ring. Barrett rolls under the ropes to catch his breath. Meanwhile, in the ring, Sheamus has returned to his feet and catches a rising Cesaro with three knee lifts to the ribs, then a gutwrench backbreaker. Sheamus hits the ropes opposite and comes charging for a suicide dive between the second and third ropes at Barrett, but Barrett catches him with an elbow. Sheamus staggers back into a german suplex from Cesaro, bridging for two. Cesaro further weakens Sheamus with some european uppercuts, then whips him into a turnbuckle. Barrett has rolled in and come charging with a clothesline, but Cesaro ducks it and sends Barrett into the turnbuckle opposite Sheamus. Cesaro comes charging into Barrett’s corner with a spinning european uppercut, then across to Sheamus’s with another, then back to Barrett’s for a third, then back to Sheamus’s, but Sheamus comes charging out with a Brogue Kick! Cesaro ducks it though, slipping under Sheamus’ boot for a quick roll up, one, two, Barrett breaks it with a sliding clothesline to Cesaro! Barrett lifts Cesaro and lays into him with knees, but Cesaro is able to hit a belly to belly suplex out of nowhere! Gets up to see Sheamus charging with another Brogue Kick, but Cesaro catches the leg and exploder suplexes Sheamus out of the ring! Cesaro up again, Barrett comes rushing in for a spinning elbow, but Cesaro ducks under and hits a back suplex. He hoists Barrett up and scores a Neutraliser, one, two, three! Cesaro wins the United States Championship in dominant fashion!

Fall two begins, for the Intercontinental Championship. Cesaro tries to cover again, but Barrett kicks. Sheamus pulls Barrett up, but Barrett spikes him down with a DDT. Sheamus is showing signs of pulling himself back together near the ramp, so Barrett rolls outside to the adjacent side of the ring. He takes a run up, jumps onto the ring steps and launches himself off of them for a clothesline to down Sheamus again. Both men down and out, they pull themselves up punching. Cesaro gets up, hits the opposite ropes and dashes, clearing the top rope with a massive dive onto both. Recognizing the threat posed by the Swiss Superman, Bad Neighbours realize that they will have to work together again, if only briefly, if either of them want to hold the intercontinental title. They double suplex Cesaro onto the ramp, then double DDT him onto it. Looking at each other after spiking Cesaro into the steel, they shrug and immediately start throwing hands, working their way back into the ring. Sheamus takes the lead, hitting Barrett with a series of clotheslines that stagger him into the corner. Sheamus goes charging in, but Barrett lifts a knee up into Sheamus’s face, staggering him backwards. Barrett goes charging at Sheamus, but is caught with the Irish Curse Backbreaker. Cover, but Cesaro has recovered enough to pull Sheamus’ by the leg outside the ring. Sheamus lifts his knee three times into Cesaro’s ribs, then tosses him in. Following him in, Sheamus grabs his arm and pulls him up for a short-arm clothesline. He holds onto the arm and pulls Cesaro up for another, holding on to try it a third time, but Cesaro locks his legs around Sheamus’s arm and yanks him down for a Fujiwara Arm Bar. It’s locked on tight and Sheamus looks like he might tap for the first time in his career, but Barrett has risen to deliver a running knee to Cesaro’s head. Barrett lifts Cesaro up in a double underhook, then pulls him into a double underhook brainbuster! Cover, but Cesaro gets a foot on the ropes. Barrett stands in time to see Sheamus going for a Brogue Kick. Barrett rolls under, coming to his feet behind Sheamus. Sheamus turns and immediately eats a Barrett Barrage. Barrett grabs Sheamus by the foot and pulls him to the middle of the ring, covering him for one, two, three! Wade Barrett has claimed the Intercontinental Championship! Sheamus reaches his knees as Barrett celebrates. He stares at his one time partner, runs a hand through his hair, gets to his feet and pulls Barrett in for a hug. Cesaro is starting to come around from the double underhook brainbuster. He is handed the US title and falls back into the corner with it. Sheamus comes past and offers a hand to him. Cesaro slaps it in a brief sign of respect, then falls back into the corner, staring at his first title here in the WWE.

AJ Lee and Sara Del Rey go on next, in a submissions battle for the Diva’s title, with AJ unable to challenge Del Rey for the belt again if Del Rey wins, and Del Rey retiring if AJ wins. The challenger, Sara Del Rey, is in the ring first and looks determined, looks to be taking AJ seriously for the first time as AJ marches to the ring, the skip long gone from her step. AJ steps under the bottom rope and Sara is immediately on the attack, running forward to drop a knee before AJ can even get into the ring fully. She doesn’t let up, immediately running AJ into the turnbuckle and choking her against the top rope. The ref gets in to lecture her, Sara laughing “Or what? You’ll DQ me in a submissions only match?” Big knees to the ribs follow, doubling AJ over. AJ is whipped to the opposite corner, Sara following. AJ manages to get her hands on the top rope and push herself into the air, dropping back behind Sara Del Rey, landing on her back and slapping a sleeper hold on. Del Rey staggers about a bit, then runs AJ backfirst into the turnbuckles. AJ’s grip loosens a little, but she still holds on, which proves a mistake as Del Rey hoists AJ onto her shoulders and brings her down into a backbreaker. Del Rey works the back from here with a surfboard, a raised bow and arrow and a series of elbow drops to the small of her back. She picks AJ up, but AJ fights back with a flurry of elbows and chops. AJ goes running, but is sent flying when she charges into a backdrop. AJ rolls towards the ropes, using them to pull herself up, but takes a running kick that sends her through them to the outside.

Del Rey goes up to the top rope and waits for AJ to stand, coming off the top with a double axe handle. The move was telegraphed, though, and AJ avoids it easily. An enzuigiri follows, then Sara is whipped into the ring post. A spinning heel kick downs Del Rey for the first time in the match. AJ climbs onto the apron and goes running off it for a knee strike to Del Rey’s head, dropping her again. Del Rey uses the barrier to pull herself back up, but this just opens her up to a dropkick into the barrier. Del Rey crawls into the corner of the barrier, AJ standing over her and unleashing a flurry of punches. Del Rey gets a foot onto AJ’s chest and shoves hard, AJ stumbling back and falling. AJ’s back up just in time to get flipped upside down on a clothesline. AJ is lifted and dropped back first on the barrier, then picked up and rammed back first into the apron. Del Rey gets onto the apron and pulls AJ up to join her, hoisting her up for a suplex, but AJ counters into a DDT on the apron. Both women lay in wreckage near the apron. AJ is up first, running Del Rey into the ring post, shoulder-first. Sara lays hung around the post, and AJ moves to the other side, locking her legs around Sara’s arm and falling back in a modified kimura lock. Del Rey screams in agony and looks ready to give up, but is able to pull herself onto the apron, relieving a lot of the pressure. AJ lets go and climbs up to the second rope. She drops a leg down, intending to hit Del Rey’s dangling arm, but Del Rey moves at the last second and AJ only manages to crash and burn painfully on the outside.

Del Rey spends about as long on her knees, clutching at her tortured arm as AJ does recovering and getting back into the ring. Del Rey has recovered enough, however, to plant AJ with a running big boot as she enters the ring again. From here she lifts AJ into a seated position and locks on a dragon sleeper, but her arm is too weakened and AJ is able to power out of the hold, coming back with a rush of kicks to SDR’s ribs. AJ hits the ropes and comes back for a tornado DDT, but Del Rey snaps her body back in what, after some deliberation, I think could most accurately be called a Northern Lights Exploder Suplex (this stuff is disproportionately important to me.) Del Rey follows it up by lifting AJ in double underhooks, going for the Royal Butterfly. Her arm is too weakened, however, and AJ drops down, flipping Del Rey over near the corner of the ring. AJ goes for a Shining Wizard, but SDR ducks it, AJ crashing into the turnbuckle. Sara gets up and takes a few steps back, lining AJ up for a clothesline. AJ gets her boots up at the last second, sending Del Rey staggering. AJ gets up to the top rope and comes off it for a ‘rana, but Del Rey catches her into a powerbomb position, only for AJ to shift her weight into an Octopus Stretch. Del Rey powers in back into a powerbomb, but AJ shifts her weight again. Del Rey tries to shift it back into a powerbomb but fails. The Octopus Stretch is locked firmly on, Del Rey falling to one knee. She golds on as long as she can, but ultimately taps out. AJ Lee is still the Diva’s champion and Sara Del Rey’s days wrestling in the WWE are over.

Next up is the fatal four way over the WWE Title, Dolph Ziggler’s first defence of the title. Punk and Seth go for each other immediately, leaving Ziggler and Orton to pair off. Punk suplexes Seth, hanging him across the top rope, then kicking him in the head down onto the apron. Ziggler dropkicks Orton from the ring and turns to face Punk. Double-down on a clothesline, both stand to get springboard dropkicked by Seth, a foot in each face. Orton back in with clotheslines for everyone. Punk rolls from the ring on his clothesline and pulls Rollins by the leg, smashing his leg against the apron repeatedly, then running it into the ring post, finally locking on a ring post figure four, trying to hobble the flier. Ziggler, meanwhile, is finding himself the target of repeated shots to the ribs from Orton. Ziggler retreats towards the corner, Orton dragging him out by the head and lifting him for a suplex. Ziggler gets his feet on the top turnbuckle and kicks it around into a tornado DDT. He then goes flying from the ring onto Punk. Seth lies back on the apron, trying to recover. Ziggler comes back in, but eats a massive lariat from Orton. Orton hoists him up and hits a gutbuster, then tossing him back into the turnbuckle. Orton with a series of shoulder rams on Ziggler, then lifting him onto the top rope. Orton climbs up for a superplex, but Ziggler fights back, shoving Orton from the top. Ziggler on his feet on the top, preparing for something big on Orton, but Seth interrupts, running along the apron to dropkick Ziggler off, sending him ribs first into the announce table, seriously hurting the champion.

With Orton down in the ring, Seth down on the apron and Ziggler pulling himself together by the table, Punk sees an opportunity and lunges into the ring to take it, lifting Orton up for the Go To Sleep. Orton drops out the back and Punk turns for an RKO. Punk shoves Orton away, however, knocking Orton into the turnbuckle for a Pepsi One, which connects. Punk walks away from the Pepsi One and into a superkick from Rollins for two. Rollins pulls Punk up and powerbombs him onto Randy Orton in the corner, following it up with a running senton onto both men. Both victims stagger out of the corner in opposite directions, clearing the way for Seth to leap to the top turnbuckle. Orton manages to pull the ropes, however, dropping Seth into a seated position on the top turnbuckle. A top rope hangman’s DDT follows, spiking Seth into the canvas. Punk has had time to recover and Orton finds himself immediately on the receiving end of an array of martial arts kicks that have Orton on the run, trying and failing to get away from Punk’s assault. Seth manages to break it up, running behind Punk for a german suplex, bridging for two. Orton recovers enough to catch Seth with a lariat as he stands again. Orton turns his focus to Punk, dropping knee after knee onto Punk’s head. Too much of Orton’s focus is taken up with getting back at Punk for how much his ribs hurt, and Seth is able to get a run-up and hit a Curb Stomp on Orton. Cover, one, two, Punk breaks it up! Punk lifts Rollins up, clutching his head and bringing a knee to the side of it. He hoists Rollins onto his shoulders and hits a Go To Sleep. Cover, one, two, Ziggler hits a springboard senton to break it up. Everyone down, Ziggler is back in this, having barely held onto his title. Ziggler rolls back into the corner to collect himself, clutching at his ribs. Punk comes running in for a Pepsi One, staying on the second rope and pulling Ziggler back by the hair, to angrily tell Ziggler that “I’m taking my belt back, kid.” That extra moment of taunting was a mistake, as Ziggler collects himself and lifts Punk, coming running out with a sitout powerbomb. One, two, Seth Rollins dropkicks Dolph Ziggler in the back of the head! Orton moves in on Punk now, pulling him up and peppering him with punches. Rollins picks Ziggler up for a gutbuster, then drops both knees onto Ziggler’s ribs, causing the champ agony. Rollins covers, and with the ref counting the pin, Punk is able to throw a kick low on Orton, dropping him to his knees, where another one near enough takes his head off. Ziggler kicks, and Seth is just deciding what to do next when he is caught from behind with a german suplex from Punk. Rollins lands on his feet, however. A leaping enzuigiri follows, then Punk is picked up for a running powerbomb into the turnbuckle. Punk drops out and hits a sudden DDT, covering Rollins for two. Punk stays on Rollins, laying the boots in, Rollins retreating out to the apron. From inside the ring, Punk pulls Rollins up by the hair, but gets shoulders in the rib, Rollins backdropping Punk from the ring to the outside. Punk starts to stand, but Seth springboards from the ropes to moonsault Punk, both men crashing into the barrier.

Ziggler and Orton both back up and on their feet in the ring, trading punches. Ziggler staggers from one of Orton’s, but manages to come back with an enzuigiri, putting Orton out on his feet, stumbling around the ring. Ziggler comes charging in for a Fameasser, but Orton ducks it and catches a turning Ziggler for an RKO. Cover, one, two, Ziggler kicks at the last second! Undeterred, Orton takes a few steps back and comes rushing in with a Punt Kick. Ziggler rolls out of the way, however, and hits his feet, catching Orton from behind with a Zig-Zag! Cover, one, two, three! Dolph Ziggler retains the WWE Championship!

The end to the Cena/Rock trilogy main events Extreme Rules. The rules are ignored from the off in this one, the two just brawling wildly in and around the ring, the advantage slowly swinging in favour of the younger, more vicious man. Rock looks done for and barely kicks out of the first Attitude Adjustment. Cena sets up a table in the corner and pulls Rock onto his shoulders for a running A-A through the table. Rock fights out and starts swinging wildly, but Cena is able to get him back under control with some absolutely vicious punches in the corner, pulling him back onto his shoulders and going running. He is cut off, however, by a Superman Punch! Roman Reigns had run through the crowd and jumped the guardrail to make the save for his cousin! Reigns lines Cena up as Cena pulls to his feet, and hits a spear through the table in the corner. Roman rolls from the ring and starts moving away, up the ramp. Both men slowly recover, Rock up first, stalking Cena for a Rock Bottom. The Rock Bottom connects, as does a People’s Elbow, getting the three count. Rock leaves the ring and poses atop the stage with his cousin as Extreme Rules goes off the air…

The Build To Payback

Dolph Ziggler comes out of his first title defence happy to have proved he isn’t a fluke champion. Chris Jericho quickly ruins his good mood, coming to the ring to call him “another Jeri-clone”. “I’ve never been shy about the biggest influence on my style” Ziggler replies “that the greatest wrestler to ever lace up a pair of boots, informs my look, my style, my attitude. I’m talking of course, about Ric Flair.”
“Sucking up to management won’t save you, Dolph.”
“Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of you. Such a fan in fact, that I read that book you pounded out while doing anything but be between these ropes. And I find it a bit funny that you get on your “Jeri-Clone” platform – cute name, by the way – given that your self admitted goal getting into this was to be as Shawn Michaels like as possible. But hey, lets not pretend you have any idealistic reasons to be out here. You were quick to call Punk a Jeri-Clone when he had the title, and now you’re calling me one. Funny how accusing those who don’t have something you want never really seems like a priority, right? Dolph Ziggler’s an original, Chris. The Show-Off is one of a kind”

“You stole that phrase from Rob Van Dam. Who knows, maybe you’ll wind up with the kind of WWE title reign he had”

“Your first reign was less than the length of an episode of RAW, Chris. Any windows in that glass house you haven’t thrown a stone through?”

“Watch yourself, or one of them’ll catch you in the head, Dolph. Can you really stand to take another concussion? Or does the plagarism run so deep that you want to steal the end to Bret Hart’s career?”

“Grabbing desperately at younger talent for one last time in the spotlight isn’t exactly original, Chris, but I’m a giving, decent man. I’ll give you a career best match, Jericho. People’ll think you’re still your old nineteen ninety eight self, particularly when they see you laid out for the three count. Just like old, old times, right?”

Jericho answers with a Codebreaker that drops the champion. “See you at Payback, champ. Have your fun while you can…”

The following weeks see Jericho target Ziggler’s concussion prone head and promise to put the champ on the shelf permanently, if that’s what it takes to take the title from him.

Another champ without much time to enjoy recent success is AJ Lee. Interviewed backstage about who she thinks should be the next one to step up to the plate and challenge, the interview is interrupted when she is tackled into the wall and smashed with a flurry of punches. Her tall, blonde attacker grabs her Dvia’s title and runs off with it.

The next week, with AJ in the ring, demanding answers, the Titan Tron shows her attacker posing with the Diva’s title backstage. She introduces herself as Summer Rae, an NXT talent who got bored waiting for the call-up, she knew she was ready. See, Summer Rae has many virtues, but patience has never been one of them. She wants something and she takes it. If AJ has a problem with that, she can come take it up with Summer Rae backstage. “Summer Rae needs to stop referring to herself in the third person and worry about the ass-kicking she’s about to get” threatens AJ, running up the ramp. Cutting backstage, AJ leaps Summer, but the beating quickly becomes a two-on-one when Tamina Snuka steps in, assaulting AJ on Summer’s behalf.

The next week, still illicitly holding the Diva’s title and flanked by Tamina Snuka, Summer Rae laughs that unlike poor, lonely AJ, people actually like Summer. AJ rushes the ring to attack Summer, but the numbers game gets the better of her once again. Summer Rae vs AJ Lee is set for Payback, with the title on the line…

Cody Rhodes won the right to pick his match for Payback and it comes as no surprise that he picks a shot at Dean Ambrose’s World Heavyweight Championship. As the only one to ever defeat Dean Ambrose, Ambrose takes the challenge very seriously, targeting Rhodes with attacks whenever he can, drawing Goldust out to try and make sure his brother makes it to Payback in one piece. This marks him as a target of Ambrose as well, and the two spend a lot of the build to Payback watching each other’s backs. But it’ll by Cody in there alone with Ambrose come Payback

Roman Reigns is finishing up a match with Damien Sandow on the first RAW after Extreme Rules. After the Superman Punch and the Spear connect and he puts Sandow away for three, a video begins playing on the Titan Tron. It’s John Cena, backstage “Oh Roman” he coos “Dwayne’s off making a movie and you’re all alone. Oh and Roman? This video is pre-recorded” with this, Cena jumps the rail and makes a vicious assault on Roman, who barely manages to get from the ring. Cena sits in the ring laughing. He knows he’ll get his chance, and sure enough, at Payback he will…

Rollins officially splits from Punk and Heyman with plenty of bad blood on both sides, Rollins claiming that the only reason Punk held the title as long as he did was because of Rollins’ help, while Punk claims that Rollins wouldn’t have a career or a spotlight if it wasn’t for Punk. The first ever one on one match between the two is set to take place at Payback

The Wyatt family, their arrival built up by creepy videos, make their debut. Bray Wyatt, the leader of the cult, backed up by Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Paige, immediately makes a target of Kane, aiming to prove that he is the monster of WWE. “The fire and bombast means nothing, the flames of hell cannot compare to the dark corners of the human mind, the devil is amazed at our cruelty, he envies it, he fears me. I am forever, for heaven shall not take me and the devil fears me. It is nothing to torment and maim his favourite demon…”

Daniel Bryan is trying to pull himself together after the beating he’s taken, physically and emotionally lately. Insecure and vulnerable, not his old self, he finds himself the target of The Miz’s bullying. Videos and photoshops, shots on the microphone, coming to ringside to mock Bryan, Miz seizes every opportunity to rub salt into the wounds of a man he instantly disliked. Ric Flair makes Bryan vs Miz for Payback, which Bryan quietly and tiredly accepts…

The Usos emerge as the number one contenders to Legally Strong (Mark Henry and David Otunga).

Randy Orton feels he deserves another crack at Ziggler’s belt, but Ric Flair will not give him it. When Orton becomes threatening, Flair introduces his own private security: Lord Tensai. A fight breaks out backstage. The two engage in games of one-up manship in the run up to Payback

Elsewhere on TV:

New Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett and new United States Champion Antonio Cesaro move to TV defences of their titles, typically on Smackdown, where the matches are afforded more time.

Former owner of both those titles, Sheamus, decides that the time is right for him to take a bit of time off from the ring, regroup and refocus.

The True Kings decide to focus on singles careers. Kofi sees immediate success, R-Truth not so much.

Payback

The match between Lord Tensai and Randy Orton kicks off Payback. Tensai takes control early with strikes and slams, Orton turning it around by reversing a front suplex into a neckbreaker. Tensai takes control back when, while being struck in the corner, he manages to hit a palm strike followed by a powerbomb. Tensai stays in charge, using his power to dominate Orton, but Orton is able to hit an RKO, putting Tensai down for three. Orton rolls from the ring, Tensai already starting to recover.

Daniel Bryan and The Miz follow up. The Miz starts on the attack. Bryan uses technical expertise to get a counter in here, a reversal in there, but he lacks the energy or confidence to follow up on any of them in a meaningful way, and momentum falls back with The Miz. Miz is enjoying this new Bryan, taking the opportunity to slap him around the face, to mock the ‘Yes!’ hands, to generally just enjoy Bryan’s pain. The ending to the match comes out of nowhere, Miz pulling Bryan up by the head, only for Bryan to roll him up for three. Enraged, Miz lays the boots to Bryan, then pulls him outside. Bryan is whipped into the ring post and Miz goes to the ring steps. He hoists them up, goes running at Bryan and connects. He places the ring steps on the floor, pulls Bryan up by the head and delivers a Skull Crushing Finale onto the steps, leaving Bryan to the care of the medics and laughing his way up the ramp.

Bray Wyatt and Kane engage in a battle of monsters to follow in a match that is every bit the spectacle one would expect. Wyatt takes the win after a good deal of interference from his family.

The Usos and Legally Strong have a clash of styles bout, a back and forth rush of power spots from Legally Strong and speed spots from The Usos. The ref is bumped on an Otunga clotheline midway through, allowing Legally Strong to cheat to get the upperhand. The Usos are able to mount an impressive volley to come back and get the win with a top rope splash on David Otunga, winning the WWE Tag Titles. Otunga’s foot is on the ropes, however,a fact that the bumped ref, who has awoken but is still obviously dazed, has missed.

John Cena vs Roman Reigns is up next and it is a difficult to watch beating. Cena plays with his food here, pulling Roman’s shoulder up on the first Attitude Adjustment. Satisfied that he has proven his point against Roman, Cena lets him lose once he’s unable to stand under his own power.

AJ Lee is out to reclaim the Diva’s title that Summer Rae stole from her with the help of Tamina Snuka next. Summer comes with backup, but that’s no help when she steps into the ring alone, AJ starting off with fierce offence. Summer is able to catch her with a spinning kick, letting Summer catch her breath. Summer drops a knee on AJ, then hits a 360° leg drop, popping the crowd a little. Summer stays on the offence, working AJ into the corner with kicks, then choking her in the corner with her boot, following it up with clubbing blows to AJ’s back. Summer goes for a charging big boot in the corner, but AJ rolls away and Summer gets her leg hung up on the top rope. AJ hits a running dropkick and Summer is slumped back into the corner. AJ takes her out of the corner with a tornado DDT for two. AJ stays on offence until Summer is able to move out of the way of an elbow. Summer rolls outside to catch her breath, but is instead caught with a plancha from AJ. Tamina moves menacingly towards AJ, but AJ stands up to her “Do something then, you big goon. I retired Sara Del Rey! Do you really think you scare me? Keep it up, Snuka, I’ve a coconut with your name on it somewhere.” Tamina backs off, hands up, having bought Summer the time to recover.

Summer runs up behind AJ and, grabbing her by the hair, tosses her into the barrier. Summer breaks the count, then is back out for a running knee to AJ against the barrier. Summer pulls AJ up and tosses her roughly into the ring steps, following up with another knee. AJ is thrown back into the ring, Summer following for elbows to AJ’s knee, leading into an Indian Deathlock, Summer removing one leg from the hold to choke AJ with it, the ref reaching four before Summer stops. AJ is able to reach the ropes on the hold. Summer stays close to AJ, wearing her out on the ropes with kicks to the midsection, then whipping her off them. AJ is able to hit a tilt-a-whirl headscissors to turn things back in her favour. A quick succession of arm drags follows, then a running neckbreaker. AJ goes up to the top rope for a moonsault, but Tamina Snuka climbs onto the apron. The ref and AJ are both distracted by Snuka’s interference, allowing Summer to hit a low blow on AJ, following it up with a sit-out powerbomb from the corner, earning a three count! Summer Rae has won the Diva’s title! Summer and Snuka celebrate on their way up the ramp, the belt held high as AJ kneels on the ground, head in hands, unable to believe that she worked so hard for that title, and that it is already gone.

A video plays, announcing that at Money In The Bank in Philadelphia next month, Rob Van Dam will return.

Dean Ambrose and Cody Rhodes go on next, Ambrose defending his title against the only man to ever defeat him in the WWE. The announce team put over the rise of Ambrose, pointing out that this time last year, Ambrose was wrestling his first match for the company. The match begins with a furious exchange of strikes, Ambrose using dirty tricks to get the advantage. Ambrose stays in control until Cody is able to get the boots up on a corner charge. Cody follows up with a running bulldog, then bringing Ambrose to the ropes, whipping him off them. Ambrose reverses the whip and goes for a lariat to the back of Cody’s head, but Cody ducks it and slaps a sleeper on. Ambrose is fading, but manages to fight out with elbows, then hoist Cody into a Death Valley Driver for two. Ambrose pulls Cody up and takes an enzuigiri that staggers him back, near the ropes. Cody charges in, but takes a backdrop over the top rope to the outside. Ambrose goes onto the apron, makes the ‘Bang! Bang!’ fingers, but Cody leaps up to the apron with a sick DDT to the floor. Both men barely back in for the count and its a trade of strikes again, until an STO drops Cody. Cover for two, then Ambrose locks on the figure four. Cody is able to turn the hold over and reverse the pressure, however. Ambrose claws his way to the ropes. Cody pulls him up for a brainbuster, earning a two count. Ambrose returning to his feet, Cody locks him in place for the Cross Rhodes, but Ambrose throws a mule kick, hitting Cody low and hitting Cody hard, obscured from sight of the ref. Ambrose locks in a headlock and hits The Human Cost for the three count. Dean Ambrose retains.

The Seth Rollins/CM Punk battle to follow is a hard fought match full of bad blood and great wrestling. The story of the battle is the tired veteran using every dirty trick at his disposal against the fast and strong, but inexperienced youngster. Punk prefers to fight this one on the ground, but Seth is skilled there as well, and always manages to eventually wrestle his way out of the submission exchanges and back onto his feet. When on his feet, Seth tends to move fast and hit hard, but also to over-estimate himself, leaving openings that the veteran Punk can exploit into slams, suplexes, strikes and submissions. Back and forth they go in this manner, climaxing when Punk lifts Rollins for a Go To Sleep, only for Rollins to counter into a crucifix, getting a quick three count. The two keep fighting even after the bell, kicks and punches being thrown like wild, until Heyman sneaks in and hits a low blow on Rollins. Heyman and Punk put the boots to Rollins, calling him a “kid” and a “nobody”, before leaving angry.

And it is now time for the main event for the WWE title. Jericho and Ziggler circle each other before tying up. A trade of holds on their feet culminates in a Dolph Ziggler snap suplex. Ziggler runs straight to the corner, leaping up. He hits a crossbody from the top, but Jericho rolls through, covering for one. Both on their feet, they trade chops, moving to a chain wrestling sequence of takedowns, arm drags and headscissors, ending when Ziggler gets Jericho by the legs on the ground and slingshots him into the corner, rolling Jericho up for one. Ziggler grabs Jericho in a wrist-lock as they stand, turning it around into a hammerlock. Jericho reverses for one of his own, Ziggler does the same, Jericho repeats the trick, freeing up an arm to club Ziggler around the head with, before hitting a hammerlock suplex, bridging for two. Ziggler is up on his feet and ducks a clothesline from Jericho. Jericho comes off the ropes with a back elbow, but Ziggler ducks that one too. Ziggler turns around and takes a dropkick. Jericho puts Ziggler in a rear-chinlock, bringing elbows across Ziggler’s concussion-prone head. Ziggler powers to his feet, but the comeback is stopped with a face-rake. Jericho whips Ziggler to the ropes, but Ziggler comes back with a DDT, both men down. Jericho uses the ropes to get to his feet, Ziggler comes in for a clothesline, but Jericho backdrops him over the ropes. Ziggler pulls himself up onto the apron and Jericho goes for a triangle dropkick, but Ziggler ducks, Jericho’s turn to go to the outside. Ziggler gets up and walks along the apron, running back towards Jericho for a tornado DDT.

Both men slowly back in before the count and Ziggler is on the offence, culminating in rolling suplexes, Jericho dropping out the back on the third one and hitting a german suplex, bridging for two. Jericho with a running knee drop, then pulling Ziggler by the hair to a seated position to land a nasty kick into his back. Jericho locks on a body scissors and paintbrushes the back of Ziggler’s head with slaps. Jericho pulls Ziggler’s head back into a dragon sleeper, but Ziggler is able to shift momentum, pinning Jericho to the mat. Ziggler is much slower to his feet than Jericho, who comes running in for a one-handed bulldog, only for Ziggler to shove him into the turnbuckle. Jericho staggers back into a lungblower, cover for two, then Ziggler locks on a figure-four leglock. Jericho manages to pull himself to the ropes for the break. Ziggler releases and comes running in for a headscissors, but Jericho is able to counter into a bridging powerbomb for two. Jericho follows up with a lionsault, again for two. Jericho pulls Ziggler to all fours by the hair and lands two big knee strikes into Ziggler’s ribs, then a third to the head. Jericho pulls Ziggler up by the head, but Ziggler is able to stagger the veteran with a jawbreaker. Ziggler follows up with punches that push Jericho into the corner, where Jericho takes a clothesline. Ziggler dashes to the opposite corner and dashes back for a leaping avalanche, but Jericho has used the time to remove the turnbuckle padding and he dodges away, Ziggler smashing head first into the uncovered turnbuckle. Ziggler is on all fours again by the ropes. Jericho hits the opposite ropes and comes back with a dropkick to Ziggler’s head, pushing him through the ropes. Jericho goes outside, continuing on Ziggler’s head, running him into the ring-post, then DDTing him on the ring apron. He pulls Ziggler back in, but Ziggler somehow kicks at the last second. Jericho waits for Ziggler to stand and hits a Codebreaker. Cover, one, two, kick out! “The shelf it is, Dolph” laughs Jericho, pulling Ziggler up by the hair again. Ziggler slips behind and hits a Zig-Zag from nowhere. Ziggler is pretty much out on the canvas and Jericho is able to roll himself from the ring before Ziggler can go for a cover.

Both slowly up, Ziggler hits the ropes for a baseball slide, but Jericho grabs the legs and yanks him out and into the Walls of Jericho. Jericho breaks the count, then comes back out to run Ziggler head first into the ring-post again. Jericho sends Ziggler back into the ring and pulls him up, lifting him into a piledriver, but Ziggler blocks it and hits an Alabama Slam. Ziggler keeps hold of the legs and locks in a figure four, but Jericho is able to turn the pressure around. Ziggler makes it to the ropes and Jericho waits out the full count before releasing. Both men up and there’s a furious exchange of chops, ending when Ziggler pulls a super-kick out of the arsenal, dropping Jericho again. Ziggler goes up top, but Jericho kicks the ref into the ropes, crotching Dolph. Jericho goes up for a superplex, but there’s a fight for supremacy and Ziggler is able to face-first suplex Jericho from the top, staying up top himself. Ziggler stands and turns, hitting a picture perfect moonsault for two.

Ziggler lifts Jericho up and whips him to the corner, but Jericho reverses. Jericho in for a clothesline, but Ziggler pulls up and over for a piggyback sleeper. Jericho reaches the ropes and Ziggler breaks the hold, dropping out the back to hit a Zig-Zag. Ziggler rolls himself over for the cover, but Jericho gets his foot on the ropes. Jericho rolls out onto the apron and Ziggler goes for a suplex back into the ring, only for Jericho to bounce his feet off the top rope for a tornado DDT. Dolph spasms with pain, but again kicks out. Jericho lifts Dolph and whips him off the ropes, dropping his head for a backdrop. Dolph gets a kick into Jericho’s face and jumps up for a rana, but Jericho counters it into the Walls of Jericho. Dolph struggles towards the ropes, almost reaching them, but Jericho pulls him back towards the middle. While Jericho is moving and the hold is a little looser, Ziggler pushes up with his arms and back with his legs, flipping Jericho over into a pin, one, two, kick out! Ziggler remains seated from the sunset flip variant, looking dazed and not fully present. Jericho is up with a dropkick to the head. Jericho climbs to the top and waits for Dolph to gradually reach his feet, pushing the concerned ref away as he does. Off Jericho comes with a spinning back elbow to the head. Ziggler kicks and Jericho goes to the legs for the walls again. Ziggler is able to push Jericho away, then reach his feet, dropkicking Jericho over the top rope. Ziggler hits the opposite ropes and comes back with a baseball slide. Jericho grabs at the legs again, but Ziggler has faked him out, springboarding onto the apron at the last moment. From the apron he hits a running clothesline on Jericho, then pulls him up and runs him into the ring post in revenge. Jericho is tossed roughly, back-first into the Spanish announce table and Ziggler climbs up to the top. Jericho recovers, however, and leaps to the apron and then up, dropkicking Ziggler off the top rope and to the ground, bouncing painfully off the apron first. Realising that he can’t win the title by countout, Jericho rolls Ziggler back into the ring, covering for two. He starts to pull Ziggler up, but Ziggler grabs at the legs and pulls off an amateur wrestling style takedown, hammering desperately and furiously away with punches once he has Jericho down. Jericho shifts the momentum to get on top, but Ziggler shoves up and back with all his force, sending Jericho flying into the turnbuckle he had earlier exposed. Jericho staggers back into a Zig-Zag and Ziggler flops his body across Jericho’s for one, two, three! Dolph Ziggler retains and is immediately seen to by medical staff.

The Build To Money In The Bank

Having gotten his revenge on Roman Reigns at Payback, John Cena immediately comes out on RAW with a grievance to air. He calls General Manager Ric Flair to the ring and Flair comes out, strutting and posing, Cena looking impatient “It has been twenty-one months since I was last in a match for the WWE title. All due respect, Ric, and I know you’re new to this General Manager gig, but that’s not the way that things work around here. This is the John Cena show. You call it RAW as a cute little nod to history and tradition and all that noise, but I am the absolute centre of the WWE Universe. All of this revolves around me. I need you to fix what’s wrong.”

“The centre of all things is the WWE title. It’s all about the gold, John. To be the man, you”

“Gotta beat the man, yeah, Ric. I know. We all heard before. Here’s the truth of the modern world, grandpa:” Flair bristles visibly, but Cena puts a hand up“You cannot think you scare me, Ric. Back to my point. To be the man, you gotta be John Cena. Dolph’s a boy. Dolph’s champion right now because I was busy. Hell, Dolph’s not here tonight because of how injured his poor little head was by Chris Jericho.”

“You haven’t got a shot because you have been on the losing end more than the winning end lately, John. In the last year, you beat Brock Lesnar and The Rock. Big wins, big matches, made us a lot of money and we’re grateful. But all you did was tie the score with Lesnar, and you and Rock are 2-1, and not in your favour.”

“I’m just telling you the way it works, Ric. I get my title shot or you lose this cushy job you need to pay off those debts of yours. Oh yeah, I know the real reason you’re here, Triple H is looking out for his hero. You think after carrying this company on my back for the last ten years that I don’t have powerful friends? You could be gone by next week. All it takes is for me to have the right conversations with the right people.”

“Do your worst, John” Flair answers, dropping his microphone and shoving Cena, getting up in Cena’s face. Cena drops his microphone, then Flair, savaging him, the entire babyface locker room running out to save The Nature Boy. Arn Anderson kneels over Flair, scared for his best friend’s well being.

The next week, we learn that with Flair in the hospital a medical facility, Dusty Rhodes has stepped in as interim general manager of RAW. His first order of business is to announce the suspension and absence of John Cena, pending official decision on how to punish his attack on Ric Flair, and to name Goldust as challenger to Dean Ambrose’s World Heavyweight Title. “Nice, unbiased decision” laughs JBL while Lawler and Cole make half-truth, half-excuses about what a great run Goldust has been on since his return. “I’m not denying that” JBL says “but you two aren’t so naïve as to think that’s why he got the shot, are you?” Dean Ambrose is similarly cynical about the shot, but seems unconcerned, wondering if the strained relationship between Dusty and Goldust is so hard that Dusty would punish Goldust by putting him in the ring with Dean Ambrose. Goldust doesn’t like the way he got the shot, and makes an offer for anyone to challenge him for the shot. Many do, but none succeed.

Dolph Ziggler’s first order of business is to come to the ring looking furious. “Cena, you self-absorbed, selfish son of a *****! I don’t care” he says to a member of ringside staff who has come up to him to advise on language “that’s exactly what he is. You haven’t had a title shot, boo hoo. But in those twenty-one months since you lost the title, those twenty-one months when men like myself, CM Punk, hate to give him credit though I do, Alberto Del Rio and fellow selfish son of a – don’t-worry, I got the message, those are words that only Rock and Cena get to use, because they matter – in the twenty-one months we were stealing the show over the top prize in the business, we headlined five pay per views. You don’t need to tell anyone its the John Cena show. You could’ve addressed the challenge to me and I would’ve taken you on. It wouldn’t have mattered to me that you don’t deserve the chance, that you didn’t earn it, which you don’t and you didn’t. I would’ve taken you on and out just to say I did it, just to cement that I am at the top, that this is a new era, that the rest of us who fight for chances rather than just being handed them belong at the top. Hell, I would’ve taken you on and out because it would have guaranteed me a main event. I won the rumble to challenge for what was, at the time I ended it, the longest title reign in over a quarter of a century, but a rematch between you and The Rock mattered more, apparently. Twice in a lifetime, John! Glad you finally got that Wrestlemania Main Event! To put it in another perspective, the title changed hands exactly one hundred times between the last reign of that length, and my win over Punk. So yeah, you would have gotten your match, I need to beat you to prove that we can see you, your time is gone. You didn’t have to attack my hero and put him in hospital. But you did. Which earns you a little treat, John. You get to see a Dolph Ziggler that no-one has ever seen before. You don’t get the man out there to please the fans and steal the show. You get the man walking into a death match, as far as he’s concerned. You get a man ready to end you, and who will have to be killed to be beaten. You have no idea what did last week.”

The next week, it is Cena’s turn to have a message for Dolph Ziggler, recorded from home, in his civilian clothes. “I’m waiting for word from the disciplinary committee, to hear what my punishment for wanting to restore the natural order of the world is. I watched your little speech last week, Dolph, and all I can say is pray. Pray that they don’t let me out to play, Dolph. You want to know why I’m at the top? Because I’m built to last. I can get over a dozen stitches and then go out the next night at full steam. You? You build some steam and momentum, but hanging in the big leagues costs you. Every time you’ve been near the top, you’ve gotten hurt and fallen back down. You’re fragile Dolph, pray you don’t get what you asked for, before I show everyone two familiar sights: John Cena on top, celebrating with his title and Dolph Ziggler injured.”

Dusty Rhodes comes out later in the same show to make the match official, adding a no-disqualification stipulation, since he’s been in and around enough blood feuds to know when two people are not going to be able to play by the rules…

Qualifying for the WWE Title Money In The Bank Match are Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Big Show, Lord Tensai , a returning Sheamus and his former partner and current Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. Both Punk and Rollins have qualifying matches for the match, but Rollins costs Punk his match with Randy Orton after Punk costs Rollins his against Chris Jericho. Punk/Rollins II is set for the event as well, Punk calling Rollins’ win a fluke, Rollins promising to repeat the trick and prove that it wasn’t…

Qualifying for the World Heavyweight Championship Money In The Bank Match are Alberto Del Rio, Cody Rhodes, United States Champion Cesaro, Kofi Kingston, Roman Reigns and a returning Rob Van Dam…

AJ Lee wants her title back, cashing in her rematch clause for Money In The Bank at the first opportunity. Summer shrugs that it’ll end the same way, this is the Summer of Summer, while AJ claims to have underestimated Summer Rae, and is going to bring fall to her…

Legally Strong exercise their rematch clause on RAW, Otunga having found a clause in the WWE rules. Stating that as the referee had been unfortunately hurt in an in-ring accident caused by him carelessly allowing himself to get in the way of Otunga, then had missed Otunga’s foot being on the ropes, there was a sincere case for the official to have acted out of bias and deliberately missed the foot on the ropes, to shift the blame for the clothesline to Otunga and punish him and his friend and partner, Mark Henry. As such, under Article 17, sub-clause 3, Legally Strong are permitted their choice of official in their rematch bout. They have chosen…John Laurinitis! The match that follows is super-crooked, Laurinitis punishing the Usos for closed fists, while letting Legally Strong get away with blatant chokes, counting the Usos pins at a glacial pace, while counting Legally Strong’s as though he is fried on acid and would really rather go backstage to discuss the imaginary nature of reality. It’s all too much for the Usos, who lose the titles back to Legally Strong. They exercise their right to a rematch at Money In The Bank, with just four wrestlers and a regular ref, thank you very much…

Kane laughs at Bray Wyatt’s claims that he is now the monster of WWE, claiming that a Monster stands alone, does not need help. He challenges Bray Wyatt to step into the flames of hell with him in a “Ring of Fire” match at Money In The Bank. The match is a standard match, only the ring ropes are set ablaze in order to prevent interference. Wyatt laughingly accepts and claims this as part of his “grand design”…

Miz laughs up his beating of Bryan and shrugs off the news that the absent Bryan will return for a rematch at Money In The Bank

Money In The Bank:

The World Heavyweight Championship Money In The Bank Contract Match between Alberto Del Rio, Cody Rhodes, Cesaro, Kofi Kingston, Roman Reigns and Rob Van Dam opens off the show. Cody, Kofi and Van Dam supply the absurdist high spots, including a running dive off of a ladder propped against the ropes (Kofi on everyone), a ladder to ladder dropkick (Cody Rhodes to Alberto Del Rio) and a ladder to ground frog splash (Van Dam to Cesaro). Del Rio comes very close near the end, everyone down on the outside, but Reigns is able to interrupt him with a Superman Punch that sends him off the ladder and over the ropes. Cracking his head on the apron, he is seen to by medical staff despite his protests. Cody rushes in and manages a Cross Rhodes on Reigns, which he follows up by successfully climbing the ladder and claiming the briefcase. Cody Rhodes has a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship any time in the following year. Del Rio shoves his medics aside and grabs a chair from ringside, blasting Reigns repeatedly in the arm and locking on the Cross Armbreaker, having to be pulled off by Rob Van Dam and Kofi Kingston.

The Miz comes out very cocky, very self-assured for his match with Daniel Bryan. He waits in the ring for Bryan, and The Final Countdown hits the speakers. Daniel Bryan comes down to the ring in red ring robe and fight shorts, his hair and face clean shaven, a smirk on his face. The bell rings and both men come out the corner fast at each other, and Miz is the lucky recipient of a flurry of kicks that are harder than Jerry Lawler in a high school gym. He’s then snapped down onto his head and put in the Muta Lock. Miz manages to make the ropes, Bryan holding on until four, shouting at the ref that he has “until five!” Miz rolls under the ropes to catch his breath, but only catches a suicide dive. Back in goes Miz, Bryan following. Miz starts to reach his feet, but a roundhouse to the side of his head drops him down again. A running knee drop follows, then Bryan pulls Miz up to a seated position and hammers down with elbow after elbow to the side of Miz’s neck. Bryan underhooks Miz’s arms, clutching his hands together at the back of Miz’s neck, then flips over, bridging. Miz screams and taps furiously. Bryan celebrates in the corner, then heads back, slapping hands along the way.

Bray Wyatt faces Kane within the fires of hell. Wyatt and Kane exchange some big man power moves, Wyatt gaining the upper hand. A Sister Abigail ends the match. Wyatt drags Kane by the head towards the flames, shouting at Kane to “remember! Remember, Kane!” as Kane screams in horrified recognition and memory. Officials spray the fire from the ropes, and the Wyatt Family come to ringside. “You know what must be done. You know the only way that you can find peace” instructs Wyatt. Kane nods his head slowly and the Wyatts pull Kane backstage along with them.

Legally Strong defend their tag titles against The Usos next. Again, a clash of styles encounter, with the ref again bumping, off a Jey Uso superkick this time. During the time that the ref is out, The Usos are able to score a pinfall, but Legally Strong get one when it counts, once the ref is awake again. Legally Strong retain the tag titles.

In another rematch from Payback, CM Punk takes on Seth Rollins. This one is heated from the off, the two smashing into each other with every strike, suplex and submission at their disposal. A high powered flurry by Rollins near the fifteen minute mark looks like it may well win, Rollins hoisting Punk up and going running at the corner for a powerbomb, only for Punk to flip into a huracarana, flipping Rollins at high velocity, neck and back first into the corner. Punk yanks Seth quickly out of the corner and smacks him down with a Go To Sleep for the three count.

Summer Rae’s prediction that a second round with AJ Lee would go much the same way as the first proves correct. AJ is phenomenal in the ring, but Summer isn’t far behind and Summer has help. Every time AJ has Summer on the run, Tamina is able to distract, grab a foot or otherwise interfere in the match, turning things back in Summer’s direction. Summer hits her Summer Time finisher (bending a standing opponent back by the head, then hitting a legdrop) for the three count to retain the Diva’s title.

The World Heavyweight Championship is up for grabs next, as Goldust challenges Dean Ambrose. Ambrose starts out hammering at Goldust with punches, getting him on the run until Goldust is able to pull out a bionic elbow. A suplex and a backbreaker follow, then Goldust goes to the mat with Ambrose. Ambrose is under-rated on the mat and gets to show it, quickly turning things back to his favour, raking and punching at Goldust’s face from within a submission whenever he gets a chance. Goldust gets to his feet and starts to mount a comeback, but an Ambrose clothesline after bouncing back from the second rope cuts that off. Ambrose stays on offence until Goldust is able to counter a superplex into a sunset flip powerbomb for two. He lifts a sitting Ambrose into a fisherman’s suplex for two, then stays on the arm with a fujiwara armbar. Ambrose shifts the weight for a two count, Goldust releasing the hold as he kicks. Ambrose hits a DDT and goes in with stomps. Ambrose is just laying a beating on Goldust at this point, dragging him outside to use the entire ringside area on him, breaking the count when needed. He throws Goldust back in and hits The Human Cost, covers, and lifts Goldust’s shoulder at two so that he can continue to hurt Goldust. This brings Cody Rhodes from backstage, charging the ring. He drops Ambrose with a shot from his new MITB briefcase, drawing the bell for the DQ. Cody waits for Ambrose to stand and blasts him again with the briefcase. He calls for a microphone and stands over Ambrose.

I’m cashing in my briefcase, Dean. Don’t worry, not now. I’m not you, I’m not a dirty coward, I’m not an overgrown rat. I’m letting you know that at Summerslam, you and me are going to have a Last Man Standing match and this is going to be over, once and for all.”

He hands his briefcase to a ringside official and helps his brother to the back.

The WWE Title Money In The Bank Contract Match between Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Big Show, Lord Tensai , Sheamus and Wade Barrett is up next. Sheamus and Barrett, former partners under the Bad Neighbours banner, show flashes of teamwork when needed in this one, tending to brawl with each other whenever they manage to clear the ring. Sheamus has a bit of a target on his head, as he won last year’s match. Tensai and Orton renew their rivalry, brawling and battling through the match. Big Show spends much of the match tossing bodies and this is generally a more low-key match than the opener, lacking anyone known for big bumps and crazy spots. The end comes when Jericho codebreakers Sheamus off the ladder with Big Show and Tensai having a power brawl outside and Barrett down from an RKO through a table. Orton sees that all others are incapacitated and scales the ladder, earning a shot at the WWE Title any time during the next calendar year.

And now, in the main event, Dolph Ziggler in a no disqualification match for the WWE title against challenger John Cena. Boxing style announcing for both competitors. The two circle each other, the crowd into the big fight feel of the event and clearly on Ziggler’s side. Tie up and Cena with shots to Ziggler’s ribs, then a very early A-A attempt, Ziggler twisting out into a tornado DDT, punishing Cena’s arrogance. Ziggler takes a moment to cheer and is clotheslined over the top rope for it. Cena follows out and drops Ziggler with a second clothesline. Cena then grabs the ring steps and charges them into Ziggler’s head. Ziggler thrown back in and Cena hits a running shoulderblock, then hits the ropes for a clothesline. Ziggler ducks and charges at Cena, but is caught with a backbreaker. Ziggler rolls away and uses the ropes to pull himself back up, but takes a running kick that pushes his head through the ropes. Cena goes outside and grabs a steel chair, raising it up and bringing it crashing across the back of Ziggler’s head! The announcers and fans are shocked, this kind of thing has been expressly banned for the better part of a decade. Ziggler flops to the outside. Cena tosses the chair back into the ring and press slams Ziggler back in. Cena comes in and pulls Ziggler up, but Ziggler hooks Cena’s head and drops back in a DDT. Ziggler places the chair across Cena’s chest and hits the ropes for a running elbow drop onto it. Ziggler goes for another, but Cena dodges, Ziggler driving his own elbow into the chair. Cena stands over Ziggler and overposes for and exaggerates a Five-Knuckle Shuffle, which connects.

The announcers are already writing Ziggler off. Cena lifts Ziggler up for an A-A, writing Ziggler off too, but Ziggler wriggles out and locks on a front-facelock. The two trade holds on their feet, before Ziggler is able to get a double-leg takedown on Cena. Cena shifts weight on the ground and gets in control, wearing Ziggler down. Ziggler starts to fight out, getting to his feet and hitting elbows to the ribs, then hitting the ropes, only to come back into a one-handed bulldog onto the chair. Cena measures Ziggler and flips him over with a massive lariat. Cover, one, two, kick out. Cena locks a side-headlock onto Ziggler, but Ziggler is able to work his way out with a back suplex. Both men reach their feet at the same time and Cena whips Ziggler to the corner. Ziggler comes staggering out into a fisherman’s suplex for two. Cena tries to whip Ziggler into another corner, but Ziggler reverses it. Running clothesline into the corner by Ziggler, who then dashes to the other side and back, going for a splash. Cena dodges, and Ziggler staggers back into a release german suplex, throwing Ziggler across the ring. Cena with his trademark shoulderblocks, then a protobomb attempt, but Ziggler rolls him up for two. Cena up and on his feet by the ropes, is dropkicked over them. Ziggler springboards to the rope and off it with an absolutely massive clothesline to the outside. Ziggler is back in this one, running along the apron for a bulldog to the joy of the crowd. He pulls Cena up by the head and tosses him shoulder first into the ring post, then yanking him out and back into the ring. Ziggler follows and lifts Cena by the head, only for Cena to hit a low blow, doubling Ziggler over. Cena lifts Ziggler for an A-A, but Ziggler is able to land on his feet, dodging it again. Cena grabs the leg, however, and pulls Ziggler down into an STF. Ziggler takes a page from Cena and fights dirty, raking at the eyes of Cena to force the break. Ziggler up with an enzuigiri, then up to the top rope for a crossbody, Cena takes it, rolls through and stands, lifting Ziggler for an A-A. Ziggler grabs onto the ropes in desperation and breaks Cena’s grip with knees to the face. Ziggler is dropped out onto the apron as Cena staggers away. Ziggler leaps to the top rope and goes for a flying headscissors, but Cena counters into a Protobomb for two. Cena pulls Ziggler up by the head, but Ziggler comes back with a flurry of punches, opening up a cut over Cena’s eye. Cena pushed back to the ropes, Ziggler goes charging for a clothesline, but Cena backdrops him out and over, Ziggler crashing to the floor. Cena follows him out and chucks him across the Spanish Announce Table, Ziggler skidding face-first acorss it and into the barrier. Cena goes around the table and pulls Ziggler up by the hair, leading him back to the ring. Cena climbs on to the apron and stops to pose. Ziggler takes the chance and leaps up, snapping Cena neck-first across the ropes, creating some separation.

It doesn’t take long for Cena to get back in, locking a headlock onto Ziggler. Ziggler gets back to the ropes, but Cena cuts him off with a shoulderblock. Again, the headlock, again, Ziggler starts to fight out, again a shoulder block drops him, Cena taking a moment to mock how easy it is for him to overpower Ziggler. Headlock, Ziggler manages to flip into a headscissors takedown, holds on the headscissors, but Cena powers out, only to take a standing rana that sends him across the ring. Cena comes out with another massive lariat that flips Ziggler over and lifts him, going again for the A-A, but Cena just cannot hit it on Ziggler, who drops out and scores a desperation superkick. Cover for two, Ziggler lines Cena up for another, Cena ducks his head under and lifts Ziggler up for an improvised powerbomb, running to the ropes and tossing Ziggler over them. Cena stops and poses some more, going outside the ring to talk shit to the fans before coming back around to Ziggler. Ziggler has gotten a chair from under the ring and delivers a shot to the ribs, staggering Cena back. Ziggler repays Cena his chair shot to the head from earlier. Ziggler tosses the chair aside and tips his head back, yelling in exhilarated rage. Ziggler rolls into the ring to catch his breath. Cena gets up slowly and braces himself for a suicide dive. It doesn’t come, however, Ziggler motioning Cena to “get back in my ring.”

Cena obliges and the two go right at it with punches, cheers for Ziggler’s and boos for Cena’s. Ziggler ducks a big haymaker from Cena that may well have taken his head off had it hit, and scores a Zig-Zag, cover, one, two, kick out! Ziggler goes up top for a moonsault, but Cena lifts the chair from the start of the match up into Ziggler’s ribs. Cena lays the chair back onto the mat and pulls Ziggler up, hitting a DDT onto it for two. Cena goes to the apron to climb the ropes, but Ziggler is back up in time to dropkick him from the apron to the outside, then hit the ropes for a suicide dive, landing on Cena and immediately punching furiously away. Ziggler hurls Cena back into the ropes and springboards off the ropes for a clothesline, only for Cena to catch him into an A-A position. Ziggler drops out the back and goes for another Zig-Zag, but Cena holds Ziggler onto his back and charges back into the corner. Trapping Ziggler in the corner with his back, Cena throws elbows behind him into Ziggler’s temples. Cena pulls a dazed Ziggler out of the corner and hits the A-A this time, modifying the move by sticking his knee out, dropping the back of Ziggler’s head onto it. Ziggler spasms in pain. Cena tells the crowd this one is over and heads to pin Ziggler, but Ziggler is somehow able to kick!

Cena motions for Ziggler to stand, laughing off Ziggler’s incredible display of willpower. Ziggler is up, groggily throwing punches, Cena responding with some dancing jabs, finding the whole thing very funny until one of Ziggler’s punches catches the cut above his eye, opening it up again, the blood coming fast. Cena grabs Ziggler by the wrist and yanks him in for a short-arm clothesline, dropping him. Cena stands, a foot on Ziggler’s throat, as he wipes at his forehead, using a sweatband to soak up some of the blood and keep it out of his eye. Cena goes outside to get a table and slides it into the ring. He goes to get another, but Ziggler recovers enough to baseball slide him back into the barrier. Ziggler follows out with punches and a clothesline. He pulls Cena onto the apron, his head hanging over the edge and climbs up top, hitting an elbow drop across Cena’s head. Both men down and slow to their feet, but Ziggler up first. He rolls Cena into the ring and climbs the top, hitting a top rope bulldog on Cena as Cena stands. Ziggler sets up the table near a corner and places Cena on it, going to the top for a moonsault. Ziggler is slow to climb, however, and Cena is able to recover and throw Ziggler off with a one-armed powerbomb through the table. Cover, one, two, Ziggler kicks out! Cena whips Ziggler to the ropes, but Ziggler catches his arms onto them and lifts himself up on them, dropping to his feet. Ziggler takes a moment to strut, luring Cena into trying a clothesline that gets a superkick for an answer. Cover unfortunately only good for a two, but that cut above Cena’s eye is really going at this point. Ziggler goes outside and slides a table into the ring, setting up another outside the ring. Cena uses this time to come outside and run Ziggler headfirst into a ring-post, then slam his head against the table he has just set up. Cena pulls Ziggler onto the apron for an A-A, but Ziggler repeats the trick of countering, hitting a Tornado DDT off the apron and through the table. Both men down in the wreckage.

Ziggler is up first, barely, crawling under the ropes and back into the ring. Cena is close behind, close enough to lock on an STF before Ziggler can stand. Both men are inside the ropes, and these ropes protect Cena from Ziggler’s face-raking. These ropes also cause the ref to insist on a break, actually trying to force Cena off of Dolph. Cena gets pissed at this and lets go, standing up to drop the ref with a big punch. Ziggler is recovering on the apron, barely reaching his feet, as Cena runs in for a chair shot. Ziggler ducks under and rams his shoulders into Cena’s ribs, then tries to springboard over into a DDT, but is caught by Cena in an A-A position, but again, Ziggler is able to evade it and hit a Zig-Zag! Ziggler covers, but the ref is slow to recover, buying Cena the time needed to kick out. Ziggler, disbelieving, debates the ref on the call, letting Cena turn him around into an Attitude Adjustment that catches him by surprise and hits! Cena covers, but Ziggler kicks! Cena sets up the table Ziggler had brought into the ring, setting it up a bit away from the corner. He then pulls Ziggler up to the corner, looking for a top rope Attitude Adjustment through the table. Ziggler fights back desperately, elbows and knees, and is able to slip out, hitting a top rope rana through the table. Both men down and it seems to take Ziggler an age and every last ounce of strength to get over for the cover. One, two, kick out, Dolph took too damn long!

Both men slowly get back up to their feet and Cena goes on the attack with an absolutely brutal barrage of punches that smash Ziggler back into the corner. Cena sets Ziggler up on top for a superplex, but Ziggler is again able to fight back, knocking Cena off the top with punches and a headbutt. Ziggler waits for Cena to stand and goes for a top rope dropkick, but Cena sidesteps it. Cena goes up to the top, looking presumably for his top rope legdrop, the West-Newbury Jam. Ziggler is able to recover quickly enough to leap up and hit a top rope headscissors, however, sending both men down on the mat. Ziggler hits the ropes and scores a running dropkick that staggers Cena into the turnbuckles. Ziggler takes the battered chair and places it in front of Cena, going running and leaping off it for a leg lariat. The Philadelphia fans appreciate the tribute, breaking out an E-C-Dub chant. Cena staggers out of the corner and Ziggler whips him off the ropes. Cena reverses the whip and Ziggler runs into a kick to the gut. Doubled-over, Cena hits a piledriver! Another banned move from Cena! Cena covers, one, two, three. John Cena, one side of his face bloodied, is the new WWE Champion and Dolph Ziggler is lying on his back, a medic shining a pen light into his eyes to test responsiveness.

The Build To Summerslam

Enough big matches are made for Summerslam that is is bumped to four hours in length, and given the double main event treatment of Wrestlemania VIII, promoting Dean Ambrose and Cody Rhodes’ Last Man Standing encounter as one main event. Cody immediately tells Goldust to stay away, as having to watch his brother’s back will only distract Cody from what needs to be done. Taking umbrage at being cast off as a distraction, Goldust challenges Cody to a match in the main event of RAW, where Goldust will leave if beaten and stay if not. This match begins slickly wrestled, before Cody shows a new, harder hitting side of himself that overpowers the larger man quickly. Ambrose attacks immediately after the match and the two Rhodes brothers fight him off, before the older one rides into the sunset…for now. The build to the match sees Ambrose try his usual terror tactics and sneak attacks, but Cody will not be frightened, nor can he be surprised. Dean Ambrose may just be in for the fight of his life, come Summerslam

The other main event comes to pass by way of Triple H stepping in full-time as General Manager of RAW, with Flair’s condition not improving and Dusty Rhodes quickly proving himself biased towards his sons. Paul Heyman comes out as representative of The Beast, Brock Lesnar, to congratulate Triple H and demand a crack at the WWE title for Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. Triple H refuses, stating that he first took temporary charge in the run up to Wrestlemania to prevent Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman from running rampant over the WWE. Triple H tried to fight Brock Lesnar with power at Wrestlemania and failed. What he learned was that he had to fight Brock with brains. He had to bring The Game back. Paul laughs, surely this is just Triple H’s ego speaking, nothing else. Triple H says that Paul Heyman can call it what he likes: Brock Lesnar will not get a shot at the WWE title unless he can defeat Triple H one more time. A contract signing is set, with the clause that with a win over Triple H, Brock Lesnar’s will be able to name his date for a WWE title match. Triple H agrees, with the condition that a No Disqualification clause be added to the match. Paul and Brock agree, saying that Triple H can use weapons, since he feels he needs them. Brock Lesnar, after all, is a weapon, so this only makes things fair. The ink isn’t even dry on the contract before Brock Lesnar flips the heavy oak desk it is signed on over with ease, just to show that he can. Brock Lesnar and Triple H are set to main event the first half of Summerslam

New WWE Champion John Cena celebrates being proven right at Money In The Bank on the first RAW afterwards. Not only was he right about beating Ziggler and about the company revolving around him, but he was right about the fragility of Dolph Ziggler, laughing in the news that Ziggler has not been medically cleared to return to the ring. He calls himself “the greatest superstar of all time” and says that all he has to do is watch out for that snake Randy Orton and he’s fine. There’s no challenge to be found on this roster. Cue ‘Final Countdown’ and the emergence of Daniel Bryan. Bryan declares that Cena may be the greatest superstar of all time, but Bryan is the greatest wrestler of all time, and invites Cena to find out whether that superstar status will keep him from tapping out in the middle of the ring. Cena laughs that his job just got even easier. It’s going to be a long run, he might as well start it off easy. Bryan says that he’s been underestimated all his life and that he’s always made those who underestimate him regret it, and heads back to the back.

Cena’s dismissive tone changes to one of fury when he learns that of the double main event, he will be neither of them. He blames his lack of a main event on doing Bryan a favour and says that this is the last time he agrees to work with the “little people”. Just to make sure, Cena promises to put Bryan on the shelf with Ziggler. Bryan stays largely comment-less, focussing on training and watching John Cena tapes, taking his first shot at the WWE title deadly serious…

Whoever comes out of the WWE title match between John Cena and Daniel Bryan will have to watch out for Randy Orton. Or will they? Lord Tensai takes umbrage at the cheap pinfall Orton earned over him at Payback, saying that a surprise attack is not how true warriors win battles. To regain his honour, Orton must agree to put his Money In The Bank Briefcase on the line against Tensai. Orton seems sceptical that honour and not desire for a WWE title match at any point in the next calendar year is the motivating factor for Tensai’s challenge, but agrees to face him anyway. The two main event RAW together. Tensai is able to avoid Orton’s every attempt at the RKO, while Orton is able to kick out of whatever Tensai throws at him. Both men’s frustration at being unable to put the other away builds and builds until this one gets out of hand and goes to a double disqualification inducing brawl. A Street Fight to settle the matter is arranged for Summerslam

Alberto Del Rio is focussed on revenge against Roman Reigns, who hit him with the punch that had the doctors checking on him, costing him the Money In The Bank Briefcase, in his mind, a price that can only be repaid by breaking Roman’s arm. Roman’s match with Bryan at Wrestlemania shows that he has immense difficulty dealing with submission artists. To compensate Del Rio, to give him a motivation beyond injuring Reigns and to generally raise the stakes, the match is made for no. 1 contendership to the Intercontinental title. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett is not pleased to have not been featured on PPV since he won the title and demands a challenge. An eight man tournament is held to name a challenger to the title at Summerslam, won by Kofi Kingston. The Intercontinental Title scene gets a shot in the arm leading into Summerslam

The Diva’s Title will also be on the line at Summerslam. AJ Lee demands a match with Tamina Snuka at the event itself, to keep Tamina from being able to interfere in whoever challenges for the title, who, in AJ’s words, owes AJ the first shot. Natalya Neidhart wins the right to challenge Summer Rae for the Diva’s title at Summerslam, promising to give AJ the first shot when she wins, because a win over AJ Lee will really legitimise her reign. Summer grows furious, feeling that the champion should not be overlooked like this, showing a new, more vicious side of her in the build-up to Summerslam

Things heat up between The Usos and Legally Strong over the WWE Tag Team Titles, the two teams turning in ring matches into quickly thrown out brawls, brawls that have a tendency to kick off backstage if they get the excuse. All that fury will be contained when, at Summerslam, the two teams are locked inside a Steel Cage to settle their differences…

Summerslam:

The cage match for the Tag Titles opens up the four hour supershow. This one starts off a brawl that is even handed until Mark Henry is able to grab a charging Jey Uso and splat his entire body into the cage, shaking the side of it with the impact. The champions double team Jimmy for a while, culminating in Otunga holding Jimmy up between the ropes and the cage for Henry to hit a running palm thrust that bumps Jimmy roughly into the cage wall. Jey has recovered in this time and hits a missile dropkick to Henry as he turns. Otunga starts back in the ring but is swarmed with punches, Jey grabbing him by the head and running him towards the ring post. He takes the post in the chest and somersaults over it with the impact. Jey slingshots himself across the ropes to downward dropkick Otunga into the cage. Henry is back up and counters a springboard headscissors into a released powerbomb. Jimmy recovers in this time, however, and manages a top rope bulldog to bring the big man down. Otunga reaching his feet, Jimmy catches him with a superkick that bounces him into the cage and back to needing some recovery time. Jey is on his feet and Henry is starting to rise too. The Usos wait and hit a double superkick that somehow doesn’t topple Henry. The Usos hit the opposite ropes together and come back to both take a clothesline, Henry falling to his knees with the effort. Otunga back in and the pace slows a bit as the champs work the challengers over. Things are turned around when Henry tries to splat Jey in the same manner as earlier, but Jey is able to grab onto the cage and spring off it for an incredible back elbow that staggers Henry. Jimmy catches a superkick that spins Henry around into a jumping DDT from Jey. Jimmy ducks an Otunga clothesline and hits a neckbreaker, while Jey hits a running dropkick on an on all fours Henry, smashing his head into the cage. Otunga eats a double superkick and Henry is pulled back in by both Usos for a double DDT. The Usos scale the cage on opposite ends, raise their hands in the trademark pose of Jimmy Snuka, and deliver double splashes from the top, eliciting both “Holy Shit!” and “Jimmy Snuka!” chants. The Usos make their escape and reclaim the tag titles.

Roman Reigns and Alberto Del Rio are up next in a number one contendership bout for the Intercontinental Title. Del Rio circles Roman in a predatory manner, Roman tensed and slightly crouched, ready to spring, Del Rio looking for an opening. Del Rio feints an overhead punch which Roman ducks, only to duck right into a front facelock take down, Del Rio scoring a couple of knees to Roman’s head before transitioning to an arm bar. Roman powers out and pushes Del Rio to the corner, wearing him out with some strikes before running out and coming back with a clothesline. Del Rio gets the feet up into the shoulder of Roman Reigns, spinning him around. Del Rio lifts himself to the second rope and jumps off, both knees lined up for the shoulder blade. Del Rio kneels on Roman’s shoulder blade and yanks his arm back, punishing Roman. Del Rio switches the hold to a one armed loop bending Roman’s arm the wrong way while his other hand rakes at Roman’s face. Roman is able to shift weight and roll Del Rio onto his back for a quick one. Del Rio is up quickly with a kick to Roman’s arm, but Roman is able to grab his leg and fall while twisting, swinging Del Rio down with a legwhip. Roman rolls his shoulder with obvious pain, Del Rio obviously having got a good start on his stated goal of crippling Reign’s arm. Reigns with a running big boot that sends Del Rio outside, Reigns following and running Del Rio headfirst into the ringpost. He keeps hold of Del Rio’s head and runs him tot he next ringpost, but Del Rio gets a foot on the steps, blocking the move. Reigns whiplashes from the sudden stop he wasn’t expecting and Del Rio uses the cover of the ring apron to mule kick Roman. Roman doubles over in pain and Del Rio grabs his arm, runs to the steps and jumps across them, bringing Roman shoulder first into the ringpost as he goes stomach first into the steps. Del Rio climbs the apron and double stomps Roman’s arm onto it. He then runs the apron, dropkicking Roman’s shoulder back into the post. Del Rio breaks the count, then brings Roman in. Roman on his knees, taking vicious kicks to the head and arm. Del Rio hits the ropes for a running kick, but Roman manages to power up and bring Del Rio down with a massive spear, practically taking Del Rio out of his boots. Hitting the spear means charging your shoulder full on into someone’s ribs, however, and Roman begins thrashing with pain, grabbing at his shoulder. Del Rio shakes enough of the stars and lights out of his head to roll across and lock on the Cross-armbreaker. Roman gets a foot up onto the ropes and the ref calls for the break, but Del Rio will not oblige. The count goes to five, the ref argues and gives Del Rio final warnings, then calls for the bell when it is obvious that Del Rio will not comply. Security and road agents rush the ring and manage to pull Del Rio off of Roman and help the injured youngster to the back.

Third match in a row to feature an Anoa’i, we follow this up with Tamina Snuka vs AJ Lee. Lee starts with a flurry of strikes, but is shoved back roughly and caught with a big clothesline, then tossed into the turnbuckles for another. Snuka pulls Lee out of the corner and press slams her. Lee uses the ropes to recover her footing, and Snuka runs in for another clothesline. Lee pulls the ropes down and Snuka tumbles outside, where she takes a suicide dive from Lee. Lee runs along the barrier for a bulldog, then rolls Snuka back in. Lee onto the apron, she springboards off the top for a cross body, only to be caught with a powerslam. Snuka wears Lee down with some basic holds on the ground, but Lee rolls her up for two. Snuka up to her knees, she takes a kick to the head, takes another, but grabs Lee’s leg on the third. Snuka powers to her feet and runs Lee back first into the turnbuckles. Shoulder rams and punches in the corner, then Snuka lifts Lee to the top rope for a superplex. Lee floats over into a piggy back sleeper, but Snuka shifts AJ onto her shoulders and falls back for a super Samoan drop. Lee gets a shoulder up somehow and is pulled up and into a DDT, Lee getting a foot on the ropes during the cover. Snuka pulls Lee up for a powerbomb, but takes a huracarana instead. Running dropkick staggers Snuka, monkey flip puts her on her back. Lee moves to the corner and climbs slowly, looking for a moonsault, but taking a german suplex from the second rope instead. Cover gets two. Snuka pulls Lee up for a short-arm clothesline, keeping hold for a second, going for a third, but Lee ducks and swinging neckbreakers Snuka. Snuka is already reaching her feet, so Lee jumps over her and puts on an Octopus Stretch from behind. Snuka is able to power to her feet and run back towards the turnbuckles. Lee is able to get her feet on the top turnbuckle and push off, swinging around into a tornado DDT. Cover gets two. Lee pulls Snuka up and goes for a Northern Lights suplex, but has overestimated her strength, not being able to lift Snuka. Snuka is very capable of lifting Lee, and does so with a gutwrench powerbomb that gets another two count. Snuka to the top and off with a Superfly Splash, but Lee rolls away and Snuka gets nothing but canvas. Snuka continues to rise, getting up to a knee, which is just a terrible idea against someone known to end matches with a Shining Wizard. Case in point, this match right now, where she takes a Shining Wizard for the three count.

Wade Barrett defends his Intercontinental Title against Kofi Kingston in the next bout. This one is all out from the word go, Barrett battering Kofi with clotheslines, punches and elbows and going for the Barrett Barrage early, too early in fact, as Kofi ducks under it and delivers a jumping kick to Barrett as Barrett turns around. Kofi builds up steam with a series of quick moves that have Barrett on the run until he is able to counter a leaping clothesline with a spinebuster. Barrett keeps Kofi grounded from here, Kofi slowly managing to reach his feet only to get kneed into the corner. Barrett whips Kofi out, but keeps hold of his arm and whips him back, a hand on the back of his head, directing it into the turnbuckle. Kofi stumbles out into a backbreaker for two. Kofi floats over on a suplex attempt to hit a neckbreaker for the double down. Both up and trading punches, which favours Barrett, until Kofi ducks a punch and hits a rana, sending Barrett into the corner, where he takes a leaping avalanche. Kofi climbs the ropes as Barrett staggers out, but Barrett pulls on the top rope, crotching Kofi. Barrett climbs up for a superplex, but Kofi switches his weight and crossbodies Barrett for two. Kofi waits for Barrett to stand and hits a Trouble In Paradise for the three count and his fourth Intercontinental Title.

And now for the main event of the first half of the Summerslam Supercard: a no-disqualification match between Triple H and Brock Lesnar. Lesnar immediately powers Triple H into the corner and unloads with punches, until Trips is able to kick him low, dropping The Beast to his knees. Trips grabs Lesnar by the head and brings some big knees into his face that drop Lesnar. The Game then drops outside and takes Lesnar’s legs, crotching him against the ring post before locking on a figure four. Heyman runs to the timekeeper’s area and yanks the ring bell from the timekeeper, running at Trips with it. Heyman gets kicked in the gut, dropping the ring bell. Triple H positions Heyman so he is doubled up over it, then locks on the double underhooks, looking for a Pedigree. A big kick to the head from Lesnar prevents this, sending Triple H staggering and Lesnar following, chucking him violently into the ring steps. From now on, lets just assume that Lesnar does everything violently. Like when he grabs Triple H by the neck and trunks and tosses him into the barrier. That too, was violent. Triple H is stomped out at the bottom of the barrier, then hoisted up and dropped chest first into the barrier. Lesnar throws Triple H back into the ring and follows, but Triple H is able to drop Lesnar throat first onto the second rope as he climbs back in, holding on to choke Lesnar. Triple H then hits the ropes for another knee to Lesnar’s head, bumping Lesnar into a sitting position on the apron, facing away from the ring. Trips running dropkicks Lesnar in the back, sending him to the barrier. Triple H follows him outside and hits some punches to Lesnar’s head, followed by a headfirst run into the ring post. Knees to the gut, followed by a suplex, back-first into the ring apron. Triple H goes under the ring for a chair and runs at Lesnar for a chair shot, but Lesnar swats the chair away and delivers a belly to belly suplex that sends Triple H crashing into and over the ring steps. Lesnar grabs aforementioned steps and measures Triple H for a running shot with them, but Trips is able to drop toe hold Lesnar, causing him to fall face first onto the steps he was carrying. Triple H sets up Lesnar for a Pedigree onto the steps, but Lesnar powers out, Alabama Slamming Trips onto the steps and holding onto the legs to swing The Game into the announce table, putting a crater in the side of it, sawdust in The Game’s hair and on his face as he is swung back out of the table. Lesnar grabs Triple H and places him in the running powerslam stance, running him back first into the ring-post, then into the next one across, then finally delivering a running powerslam on the ramp. Lesnar pulls Trips back to the ring by the head, coming through more carefully after the last time, sliding under the bottom rope. The Game has an answer for this as well, putting some strong kicks into Lesnar’s head that push him back outside to protect his head. Triple H rolls away to create further distance, and starts to crawl to the other end of the ring, but Lesnar jumps in behind him and lifts him from the mat into a release German suplex in one fluid movement. A running knee to Triple H’s head sends him between the ropes and this time, Lesnar has learned his lesson, scooping Triple H up and walking up the surviving ring steps with Triple H draped across his shoulder, dumping him over the top rope. Lesnar follows and just stays on Triple H with German suplex after German suplex. Triple H is able to slip out of an F-5 to lock on a choke hold that draws some strength out of The Beast, only for Lesnar to shake him off and move into full mount, pounding away at The Game and scooping him up for an F-5 for the definitive win. Brock Lesnar can name his date for a shot at the WWE Championship.

An intermission of sorts follows, with a product placement skit for Dorito’s Bold in which Titus O’Neill is enthusiastically telling Christian about his never before mentioned giant crush on AJ Lee. Christian makes “no, really, I care” faces while chomping away at a prominently displayed bag of Dorito’s Bold. Mostly to get rid of Titus, Christian points with a cheesy finger and informs Titus that “she’s just over there, dude, go talk to her”, camera pan to AJ leaned against a wall with a not prominently displayed DS, tongue between teeth in concentration. Back to the conversation. Titus proclaims his lack of nerves. Christian tilts the bag of Dorito’s Bold at him and informs him that the bold flavour will give him the boldness needed. Titus eats a handful and marches off, full of fire and boldness. He taps AJ on the shoulder and gets a frustrated attention shift. He raises a finger, about to make a point, then remembers his mouth full of Doritos that are full of bold flavour, chews, swallows, and brightly, loudly and enthusiastically describes his bright, loud, enthusiastic feelings for AJ Lee. AJ informs him that while she “will always share a bond with my fellow Early NXT survivors” she tried this whole dating at work thing and it was a lot more stress and frustration than it was worth. She pats him on the shoulder and skips off. Titus turns back to a laughing Christian, who informs him that while the bold flavour of Dorito’s Bold will endow him with boldness, they will do little for his “kryptonite to women” personality. Dejected, heartbroken, no longer full of the superhuman and too short lived boldness, Titus slinks away where he literally bumps into The Great Khali. Khali responds by dancing Gangam Style, because it is 2013 and he is Big On The Internet. The resulting dance is jerky, dangerous and full of the sort of impossible, horrifying, undescribable movements typically reserved for the eldritch horrors of Lovecraft.

Bold.

The Diva’s Title Match follows, Natalya Neidhart challenging Summer Rae for the Diva’s Title. This one starts off slow, with a good exchange of chain wrestling that sees Nattie pull Summer to the mat and out power her, while Summer uses longer limbs and, when they aren’t enough, an array of cheap shots and shortcuts to turn things back around. Back and forth they go, Nattie tagetting the legs while Summer targets the arms. Natalya is able to reach the ropes on a kneeling armbar and pull herself up in the corner, where Summer uses her boot to choke Nattie. Nattie gets her hands on Summer’s ankle and shoves Summer away, coming out of the corner with a spinning clothesline for a two. Summer is lifted up into a suplex, a bodyslam, then another suplex, but Summer drops out the back on the second one and delivers a lung-blower, transitioning into a guillotine choke. Neidhart is able to turn over onto her knees and stand, powerbombing Summer down into the canvas for two. Summer is pulled up and caught with knees and chops, leaving Summer reeling on the ropes. Natalya goes running and comes back, looking to clothesline Summer over, but Summer counters by lifting herself up on the ropes and locking her legs around Nattie’s neck, moving back with the impact, both wrestlers spilling outside. There’s a brawl outside which Natalya gets the better of, tossing Summer back in. Fisherman’s Suplex by Natalya is countered into a backslide, Summer getting her hand on the ropes for extra leverage for a surprise three. At the moment that the ref’s hand hits the mat for the three, he notices Summer’s hand, and he dashes to the ropes to signal to the timekeeper to restart the match, cutting Summer off mid-celebration. Natalya wastes no time going on offence, pushing Summer back into the corner with chops. Nattie goes running for a clothesline, but eats an enzuigiri this time that drops her. Summer locks on an Indian Deathlock, using her free leg to choke Natalya. Neidhart rolls onto her stomach, reversing the pressure, then pushes up to crouchign and turns the hold around into a sharpshooter. Summer taps out and Natalya is the new Diva’s Champion!

Lord Tensai vs Randy Orton in a Falls Count Anywhere Match for the WWE Title Money In The Bank Briefcase follows. This one is attitude era brawling from the off, slams, clotheslines and punches in the ring with Tensai’s superior power putting him in charge until Orton mounts a comeback with an incredible powerslam. Orton clotheslines Tensai over the top rope, spilling out with him. Orton stays on offence until Tensai ducks a briefcase shot and hits a very quick powerbomb. Tensai lines Orton up for a briefcase shot that is morally grey, so far as Tensai’s rules of honour are concerned. Questions of honour aside, the shot connects, but only gets two. Tensai hammers Orton up the ramp until Orton manages to block a punch and come back with a flurry of his own, staggering Tensai. A dropkick turns Tensai around, stumbling hurt down the ramp. Orton impressively jumps over him to hit an RKO on the ramp, earning Orton the three count.

‘The Final Countdown’ signals that the next bout is for the WWE Championship. Daniel Bryan comes down to the ring looking certain in the knowledge that this may be the biggest night of his career, focused, ready. ‘My Time Is Now’ hits the speakers and out comes John Cena, the champion, the dominant force in WWE for the past decade, fresh off putting Dolph Ziggler out of action. Boxing style ring announcing and the bell rings, the crowd already loud and close behind Bryan, with a decent “Let’s Go Cena” answering them. Bryan goes to the arm early, trying to reduce the strength advantage, but Cena is able to counter the arm wringers and wristlocks into headlock takedowns, using size and strength to keep Bryan down, Bryan spending a lot of energy to get out. The early going is very wrestling focused, Bryan working Cena’s superior strength, Cena working Bryan’s superior conditioning, each man trying to wear the other out and gauge weaknesses and openings. Things step up as Cena, trapped in a top wrist lock, goes for the legs, only to take a kick to the head, marking the first in a flurry of kicks that sends Cena outside to recuperate.

Cena back in, collar and elbow tie up, Cena with a suplex, Cena with knees and punches to Bryan, putting him on the run. Bryan shoots in for a takedown, Cena powers up quickly and tosses Bryan to the corner, where a clothesline sends Bryan out to the floor. Cena follows, whipping Bryan to the steps, but its reversed. Bryan follows up, bringing Cena on top of the ring steps for a suplex off them to the floor, but Cena overpowers Bryan to hit one of his one. Cena back in to break the count, then back out to break the Bryan. Whip into the barrier, gutbuster on the barrier, whip into the ring post, DDT on the floor. Cena back in, trying to get the count out, but Bryan is back inside at six, sliding under the ropes. Cena is straight on the attack, stomping away at Bryan, who crawls into the corner for shelter and finds none. Boot raked across Bryan’s face, then a running kick, Bryan pulled up into a fisherman’s suplex for two, then a sit out powerbomb for two.

Bryan mounts a big comeback off a ducked clothesline, exploding with a series of knees and elbows that have Cena looking like he doesn’t know where he is. Bryan scores a jumping clothesline of his own, then whips Cena to the corner. Cena reverses and charges after him, but Bryan flips off the top turnbuckle and catches Cena with an enzuigiri. Bryan on offence now, taking the fight to Cena until Cena is able to score a backdrop, then a pair of shoulderblocks, followed by a protobomb. Cena makes Bryan aware of his inability to see Cena and hits the ropes for the five-knuckle-shuffle. Bryan kips up, however and scores a quick superkick that gets two. Up top for Bryan, Cena recovering his feet just in time to take a missile dropkick for two. Bryan tries for the Cattle Mutilation, but Cena has enough strength to push him off. Cena bulls forward now, using that strength to overpower Bryan with strikes and slams. Fisherman’s Suplex gets a near-fall, another powerbomb gets a near-fall, a piledriver gets a near fall, an Attitude Adjustment gets a near fall. Cena looks surprised at Bryan’s toughness, but not bothered, following Bryan as he crawls away trying to regroup and kicking at Bryan, laughing at him to “come on, get up”.

Eventually, Cena deadlifts Bryan to his feet and throws him into the turnbuckle, following up with a shoulder ram, then up to the top for a superplex. Bryan shifts the weight to a crossbody, but Cena rolls through, getting Bryan on his shoulders for the Attitude Adjustment. Bryan drops out and comes back with a mad rush of kicks, capped off with a jumping DDT and both men are down. Slowly back up to their feet, Cena trading punches for Bryan’s kicks. Bryan shoots under a huge haymaker and takes Cena down, transitioning to a Cattle Mutilation, but Cena is able to power out for an STF, only for Bryan to roll out into an STF of his own. Cena screams and struggles, but makes it to the ropes and to his feet. Bryan with kicks to Cena’s ribs and head as Cena leans against the ropes, but Cena is able to grab Bryan’s leg and, wrapping the other arm around his neck, turn him around for an exploder suplex to the outside. Cena gestures to the ref to start counting, but Bryan is in at nine.

Cena comes swinging in with a clothesline, but Bryan ducks and goes behind for a German suplex, then another, Cena blocks the third and Bryan pulls him down into the Yes Lock. Cena manages to slip out and get to his feet, but Bryan locks on a guillotine choke, the strength beginning to sap from Cena, but he manages to snap back with a modified Northern Lights suplex for two. Both men down again, Cena rolls out to collect himself, Bryan follows for a suicide dive, but Cena jumps up and catches him with an uppercut, knocking him back into the ring, bouncing from the impact. Cena pulls Bryan up for a second Attitude Adjustment, but Bryan drives elbow after elbow into the side of Cena’s neck, bringing him down to all fours, arms hooked back. Bryan floats over for the Cattle Mutilation and has it locked on this time, but Cena gets a foot on the bottom rope to break it at four. Cena crawls back into the corner to recover and pulls himself to his feet, only to take a running dropkick from the other end, then a second, before managing to pull out a massive lariat on the third, Bryan flipping with the impact and Cena collapsing with the effort.

Again, both men are down. Trade of strikes as they reach their feet, each reeling when hit and staggering when doing the hitting. Bryan manages to end the sequence with a dropkick that bumps Cena down and away, but he’s taking a moment on the canvas himself and cannot capitalise. Bryan goes charging in at Cena, but Cena shoves him away, the force lifting him through the air to a rough looking landing. Cena limps towards Bryan, grabbing him by the ear with his left hand and slapping him repeatedly across the face with his right, before pulling him up for another Attitude Adjustment attempt, but Bryan switches position to hit a DDT. Bryan goes up to the top for a cross body, but Cena catches it into an Attitude Adjustment, but Bryan scores a roll-up off this one, only for two, kicks Cena in the head as he tries to get up, moves to the corner, measures Cena up and comes running for a Flying Knee, but Cena ducks, throwing his forearm up as fast as he can. Blatant low blow, full sight of the ref, Cena retains by deliberate disqualification. Cena rolls from the ring, grabs his title and gets the hell out of there as quickly as his battered body will let him. Bryan receives a standing ovation from the crowd, which softens the hurt a bit, but he still stomps to the back angry.

CM Punk and Seth Rollins are up next. Collar and elbow tie-up in the middle, Punk gets the advantage, transitioning to a top wristlock, to a hammerlock, to a front facelock, to a hammerlock. “I’m wrestling circles around him, Paul!” Punk yells to Paul Heyman. This distraction to brag allows Rollins to flip Punk over his shoulder in a judo like move, working Punk over on the ground before pinning him face down, one arm hammerlocked. Rollins handstands to drop both knees into Punk’s back, repeating the trick a few times before yelling “I’m wrestling holes in him, Paul!” and smiling insincerely to Heyman. Rollins pulls Punk up and hits some powerful suplexes and slams, then whipping him into the corner for a leg lariat. Punk staggers out of the corner, but is kicked back into it. Rollins runs out and cartwheels back in, but his flashiness costs him, as Punk works out the rhythm of the cartwheels and walks out, kicking downward. Jury still out on whether Punk hit a walking big boot or whether Rollins hit a really fast and hard headbutt to the sole of Punk’s boot. “Moron” smirks Punk, dropping a knee into the back of Rollins’ neck and keeping it there as he grabs Rollins legs, grapevines them together with his arm and pulls them up and back, almost over Rollins’ head. Luckily for Rollins, he gets a hand on the bottom rope. Punk reluctantly releases and pulls Rollins up from the waist for a German suplex, but Rollins flips over and lands on his feet, scoring a jumping enzuigiri on Punk as he turns. Rollins runs a knee into the side of Punk’s head, then pulls him up for a brainbuster. Cover, one, two, kick out. Rollins picks Punk up for a powerbomb, but Heyman jumps onto the apron. Rollins pushes Punk aside and superkicks Heyman back off the apron, only to turn around into a kick to the side of his head. Punk stays on strikes, putting Rollins in a Muay Thai clinch and delivering knees and elbows to the head and ribs. Rollins fights out with a kneeling jawbreaker which creates distance, but he is too groggy to capitalise, taking another kick to the ribs instead, then a irish whip to the corner, Punk running after, but Rollins is able to jump onto the apron at the last second and springboard off the top rope with a forearm.

Rollins stay on offence from here, hitting a sling blade, a swinging neckbreaker, three vertical suplexes and a running powerbomb to the turnbuckle, followed by a superkick. With Punk down by the turnbuckles, Seth climbs up for a Phoenix Splash. As Seth is leaping, Punk pulls the ref in the way and the two collide awkwardly, putting both Seth and Ref out of it. Punk rolls towards Rollins and starts choking at him, just viciously choking away, then stomping at his head, calling for Heyman to get him a chair. Heyman obliges and Punk immediately goes to work on Seth’s legs, bringing the chair down across Seth’s knee edge first, from both sides, repeatedly, then placing Seth’s ankle inside the chair and jumping from the second rope onto it. Seth writhes and thrashes in pain, Punk tossing the evidence and yanking Seth up for a double-underhook backbreaker, a hangman’s neckbreaker, then three knee breakers in a row. The ref is beginning to recover, which Punk takes as a cue to climb the turnbuckles and deliver a top rope elbow drop, getting a two as an exhausted Rollins somehow gets the shoulder up. Rollins is whipped into the corner and Punk comes charging in for a Pepsi One, but Seth is able to drop back, snapping Punk’s head into the second turnbuckle with an S.T.O. Punk falls back and Rollins uses the ropes to gingerly reach his feet. Punk is beginning to stand, so Rollins comes in for a curb stomp, but his leg is too hurt and he can’t pull it off, stopping in pain towards the end of the run up. Punk takes advantage, hoisting Seth quickly onto his shoulders for a Go To Sleep, but Rollins is able to counter with a roll-up. Rather than cover, Rollins keeps rolling through, lifting Punk for a Go To Sleep of his own, which connects. Cover, one, two, three! Seth Rollins defeats CM Punk! And…medics immediately come down to help him walk to the back after his victory.

Cody Rhodes and Dean Ambrose come out for the main event – a Last Man Standing bout for the World Heavyweight Championship. Ambrose looks twisted and dismissive, Cody angry. Boxing style announcing of the competitors, Ambrose leaning back in his corner, Cody chomping at the bit. The bell rings. Ambrose walks forwards, putting the arms out for a collar and elbow tie-up, but he’s caught by Rhodes, who has dashed out of his corner throwing punches. Ambrose is pushed back into the corner and the assault continues, punches and kicks, then a running clothesline. Cody begins choking Dean in the corner, but Ambrose rakes the eyes and clotheslines Cody down. A running big boot follows, then an elbow drop, then Ambrose kneels beside Cody, lifts his head and begins biting it. Cody flails desperately, rolling away to the apron. Ambrose follows for punches, but Cody fights back and hits a big kick that sends Ambrose reeling for a springboard bulldog. Ambrose is up and Cody is running for a dropkick, but Ambrose dodges, rolling out of the ring. Cody baseball slides Ambrose, but Ambrose sidesteps, pulling Cody out by the legs, then grabbing his head and running it into the ring post. He tosses Cody back into the ring and follows, staying in control with stomps. He pulls Cody up for a suplex, but Cody is able to turn it into a neckbreaker. Cody punches away at Ambrose as he stands, back on the brawling offence. Bionic Elbow would have dropped Ambrose, but instead he bounces off the second rope for a rebound clothesline. Ambrose stays on offence with a DDT, then pulls him up straight into another, then pulls him up straight into another. With Rhodes dropped directly on his head three times in a row, Dean leans back into the corner and lets the ref count. Count reaches four and Cody is up just long enough to take a running big boot. Ambrose drops outside and pulls a table from under the ring, setting it up between the barrier and the apron. He gets up onto the apron and pulls Rhodes up by the head, setting up a suplex. Rhodes punches out and hits a big kick that sways Ambrose, but Ambrose does not fall through the table. Rhodes jumps up onto the top rope and springs off it with a tornado DDT, driving him and Ambrose through the table together.

Ambrose crawls out of the wreckage first, moving away from Rhodes. Rhodes follows close behind and leans over his back, laying in punches and knees. He slams Ambrose into the steps, propping his head against them and hitting a dropkick. Rhodes rolls Ambrose back in and throws a chair over the top rope into the ring. Rhodes follows and delivers a chair shot to Ambrose’s back, then rolls him over onto his back and places the chair across his chest, going up to the top rope and delivering a moonsault onto the chair. Ref counting for both men, up to three before Cody is standing. Rhodes goes up again, but Ambrose crawls behind him to low blow him, draping him across the top rope. Ambrose grabs the chair and swings it again, dropping Rhodes to the mat. Rhodes takes another shot across the back, then is whipped into the opposite corner. Ambrose charges in and hits a clothesline, then stomps Rhodes in the corner. Ambrose picks Rhodes up and places him on the top rope, joining him for a superplex. Cody struggles, however, with punches to the ribs. Both men perched dangerously on the top rope, Cody superplexes Ambrose outside, both men falling in a heap on the floor.

It takes a seven count before either man finds his way up, and even then it is only to their knees, where they stay, throwing punches at each other. An Ambrose headbutt drops Rhodes back and Ambrose is able to stumble to his feet, swaying, grabbing at the apron to steady himself. Ambrose pulls Rhodes up by the head and drives the back of his head into the barrier with a sick S.T.O. Not waiting for the count, Ambrose throws Rhodes back into the ring and follows him in, pulling him up by the head and delivering The Human Cost. Ambrose moves into the corner and waits while the ref counts. It’s five before Cody shows any sign of movement. It’s eight before he reaches his feet. Clothesline drops him. Up at four. Clothesline drops him. Up at five. Clothesline ducked and Rhodes comes back with a Disaster Kick. Not waiting for the count, Rhodes pulls Ambrose up from behind and hits a Cross Rhodes, holding onto the head, flipping his legs over and bridging for an inverted STF. The hold is locked on tight, Ambrose first struggling, but to no avail. He begins screaming and tapping, but that’s no use in a Last Man Standing match. Finally, he goes limp. Rhodes releases and Ambrose reveals he still had some energy left in him and that it is precisely enough to roll to the apron. Rhodes stares at Ambrose, then shakes his head and follows. Ambrose is using the ropes to get up, and Rhodes steps between them behind him, pulling Ambrose’s head back and delivering a Cross Rhodes from the apron to the floor, landing near the announce tables. Rhodes is up at four and rolls into the ring. The ref is at seven when Ambrose starts to show signs of life and nine when Ambrose reaches his feet. Cody hits the opposite ropes and comes back with a suicide dive, both men crashing between the two tables. The two scrap in the gap between the tables, punching and kicking wildly. Ambrose comes out on top and yanks JBL’s headset from him, standing over Rhodes and wrapping the cable around his neck to choke him. Ambrose lets go and begins clearing the Spanish announce table, then dragging Rhodes onto it. Ambrose climbs the apron and runs along it, delivering a Cactus Elbow through the table, collapsing the table and both men, from the looks of it.

They manage to crawl back up at nine and brawl around the ring until Ambrose tosses Rhodes back in. Ambrose goes to the timekeeper’s table and takes his title from it, rolling back into the ring. Ambrose measures Rhodes for a shot with the belt, but Rhodes ducks at the last second. Ambrose turns and has the belt knocked from his hands, then gets kicked in the gut and DDT’d onto the belt. Cody sits, breathing hard and staring wildly at Ambrose as the ref’s count reaches seven before Ambrose gets up and backs off, wildly swinging. Cody goes for another Disaster Kick, but Ambrose is able to duck this one and grab Rhodes by the head, leading him to the title belt and delivering The Human Cost onto it. Ambrose rolls away and kneels, staring at Rhodes. The ref’s count reaches ten and this one is over. Summerslam ends with Dean Ambrose retaining.

End of Part Four.

Written by

Guilty of creating Rewriting The Book and The Greatest Night In The History Of Our Sport, and publishing them somewhat infrequently. Father of three, husband, avid gamer, lover of 90's MTV animation. Available for podcasts and children's birthdays at jed316@msn.com.
3 Responses to "Re-Writing The Book: The (Unpublished) Novel, Part IV"
  1. Autrach Sejnanoz says:

    “…harder than Jerry Lawler in a high school gym.” LOL!

    That Doritos Bold nonsense…YIKES.

    Looking forward to part five!

  2. Hulk6785 says:

    If this what WWE had been putting on for the last two years, I’d still be watching.

  3. Mister Forth says:

    This was better to read than RAW has been the last year and a half.

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