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Raw: Rematch time for Punk and Del Rio while Cena gets a reality check
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


Tonight on Raw, the time-honored tradition of the championship rematch gets taken for another spin. Alberto Del Rio attempts to regain the WWE Championship he lost to CM Punk at Survivor Series in a bout that John Laurinaitis cruelly denied letting us see last week when I was at the show live. Such is life, though, so let’s get to it.

The broadcast kicks off with... Rowdy Roddy Piper? Despite never winning the championship or being the strongest wrestler, Piper gives credit to the fans for supplying the energy that enabled him to do great or rotten things, depending on his alignment at the time. But Piper says there is a man here tonight who isn't sure if the fans' energy is important, so he calls John Cena to the ring. Cena is happy to be on Piper's Pit but confused by the question. Roddy plays word association by mentioning Stone Cold, Bret Hart and The Rock and contrasting the cheers those men get with the mixed reaction that Cena receives–though to be fair, he gets more cheers here than in many places. Piper says he is trying to help Cena out. John explains that there are some people who like him and others who don't. Piper doesn't accept that, pointing out that the boos are getting louder, but Cena blows him off, saying that he has always had fans who rooted against him. With kids and members of the armed forces behind him, Cena believes in himself and his chances of beating The Rock at WrestleMania. Piper is skeptical that Cena can tap into enough energy that way, and he tries to get John out of his state of denial by slapping him in the face. Looking equal parts surprised and upset, Cena turns and heads up the ramp.

Match 1 – John Morrison vs. The Miz – Falls Count Anywhere

Miz assaults Morrison on the ramp before the introductions are even done, doing a number on his right leg. Doctors and referees help Morrison limp his way down to the ring, and the match begins in earnest. Miz keeps going after the damaged leg. A kendo stick comes into play as they battle up to the stage, where Miz hurls Morrison into part of the set, knocking him unconscious. The ref calls an end to the match, with The Miz the winner. Watch out for The Miz if you are suspended or out of contract, folks! He goes to the ring to gloat about what he's done to R-Truth and John Morrison. Next week? We'll see. Miz claims only he could have made a statement like this, and he can do it because he's awesome.

How can the WWE promote Stone Cold Steve Austin's new DVD collection with the line “for the first time ever?” His career has been pretty thoroughly examined on previous releases, methinks. Ah well, the new discs are available tomorrow anyway.

Match 2 – The Bella Twins vs. Alicia Fox and Kelly Kelly

Beth Phoenix and Natalya are jogging around the ring for some reason. Fox hits one of the Bellas with a somersault leg drop and wins this one pretty quickly.

David Otunga asks John Laurinaitis is he's ever going to let Broadus Clay make his return. The interim GM says it's all part of the plan. Alberto Del Rio comes in to insist that he'll get the WWE Championship back, but CM Punk crashes the meeting with some Google stats that embarrass all of them: like the fact that doing a search for Otunga just returns results for Jennifer Hudson. Laurinaitis tells the men to spread the word that if Punk gets intentionally disqualified during the match tonight, he'll lose the belt.

Wade Barrett joins Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler at the announce table, where Cole claims he has a “plethora” of questions for Wade.

Match 3 – Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler

There's a guy who looks exactly like the late Randy Savage sitting behind the announcers. Well, like Savage would have looked like if he had endorsed Dunkin Donuts instead of Slim Jim maybe. Barrett smirks as he sees Orton knocked off the apron by a big dropkick. Randy rallies himself back in the ring, hitting a superplex before a break for commercials. We return just in time to see Orton hit his DDT and prepare for the RKO. Ziggler escapes to the floor, and Barrett gets up on the apron. Orton dropkicks Barrett but turns right into a Zig Zag and ends up getting pinned. Ziggler shows off with a handstand outside the ring.

Cole is in the ring with “the biggest hypocrite in the WWE,” Daniel Bryan. The fans respond to Bryan's claim that Cole is the worst announcer in WWE history. An angry Cole insists that Bryan is a liar because the superstar said he would cash in his Money in the Bank title shot at WrestleMania. Cole narrates the footage from last week's SmackDown, where Bryan tried to use his title shot only to have Theodore Long reverse the decision because Mark Henry was out cold at the time. Cole says he would have rescinded Bryan's title shot and suspended him. Bryan explains that becoming the champion was more important to him than main eventing WrestleMania, but Henry comes out to scoff at that idea and gripe about Long booking him to defend the strap tomorrow. After Henry says Bryan can't beat him, Daniel kicks him in the leg and says they will find out on SmackDown.

Match 4 – Jack Swagger vs. Zack Ryder

Unsurprisingly, Cole doesn't think much of Ryder's online petition to get a title shot at Ziggler. Will his opinion change after he wins this match? I guess we'll see, because Ryder does indeed pin Swagger. Woo, woo, woo!

The only thing that could possibly excite me about Kane coming back is if he wears the mask again. Hear that WWE? Maybe if I tweet it... #remaskkane

Santa is here! Oh wait, that's Mick Foley dressed like the jolly old man. Foley recites his very own Christmas poem about tomorrow's live show, skillfully working in a dis to Cole and a cheap pop. Backstage, Punk makes it clear Laurinaitis can kiss his ass.

Main Event – Alberto Del Rio (challenger) vs. CM Punk (champion) – WWE Championship Match

The opening sequence sees both men do some arm work until Del Rio ends up out on the floor. Punk dives out to nail him, and we head out for our final commercial break. Del Rio used that time to take control by crotching Punk on the top rope. Del Rio has no such problems, flying off the top with a forearm shot and a near fall. Punk misses a high cross body and has to kick out at two again. The challenger goes back to work on the champ's left arm. Del Rio keeps rolling with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and another top rope forearm, forcing Punk to kick out again. The fans try to rally the champ, who finally revives enough to catch Del Rio with a kick to fend off another high risk move. Punk wins a battle of kicks and earns his own near fall. The high knee in the corner connects, but Del Rio counters a bulldog to score another two count. A series of reversals ends with Del Rio using a bridging suplex for another two. Del Rio pulls off another counter, using a DDT to escape the Go To Sleep, but Punk kicks out again. Frustrated, Del Rio decides to expose the top turnbuckle. Ricardo Rodriguez slides a chair to Del Rio, who tosses it to Punk. Realizing what the heels are up to, Punk throws the chair back to Del Rio and intentionally falls to the canvas, hoping to convince referee Charles Robinson that Alberto used the chair on him. In the ensuing chaos, both men earn quick two counts. With Rodriguez distracting Robinson, Punk drops Del Rio on the exposed turnbuckle and gets the pinfall to retain his belt. After the bell, Punk hits the GTS on Rodriguez and celebrates with the gold.

Nick Tylwalk has been writing for SLAM! Wrestling for more than a decade, but he's considering retiring soon so he can spearhead the "Hashtag Everything" movement. Or should that be #hashtageverything? In any case, you can follow his Twitter feed @Nick_Tylwalk or send him an email at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.