December 27, 2011
Raw: CM Punk returns home, runs the gauntlet
By MATT BISHOP - SLAM! Wrestling

Tonight on Monday Night Raw: In July, CM Punk turned the wrestling world on its ear by walking out with the WWE Championship in his hometown of Chicago. Monday, he returned home to continue his war with "Mr. Excitement" John Laurinaitis, who makes him run the gauntlet. Should be a good one!

We are LIVE! from Chicago, Ill. Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler are our hosts and this show is presented in WWEHD (TV-PG, V)

The show opens with CM Punk's music. Except it's not Punk coming out, it's Interim Raw General Manager "Mr. Excitement" John Laurinaitis, doing Punk's entrance and wearing his shirt. He says he's here to honor Punk. Before he can go on too long, the WWE Champion makes his way to the ring.

Punk asks what is stopping him from kicking Laurinaitis in his face? Laurinaitis says he's the boss and he could fire him. He says he's taken several management classes and wants to empower his talent. He says he wants to give Punk a gift: He has Punk has the night off. Then it's a big a-ha and he says just kidding. He says Punk will be in a gauntlet match tonight and if he is beat, the person who beats him will get a WWE Championship match next week.

Punk asks him what he gets if he beats all three guys. Laurinaitis says he really hasn't thought of that. Punk suggest if he does that, he gets a fourth match: CM Punk vs. John Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis says Punk doesn't want to do that, he doesn't want any of this. The crowd chants "You can't wrestle" at him. Punk says they must've All Japan tapes.

Punk polls the crowd if they want to see the match. They cheer loud. Laurinaitis says Punk has left him no alternative: He's on.

(Ads)

Match #1 - Booker T (Houston, Texas) vs. Cody Rhodes (Marietta, Ga.)

Back-and-forth match in the early going. Booker gets going and tries for the scissors kick but Rhodes moves and hits a neckbreaker. He puts the boots to Booker in the corner after hitting a knee to the body. He tosses Booker to the outside.

(Ads)

Rhodes connects with the Beautiful Disaster but Booker kicks out at two. Rhodes loads Booker up for Cross Rhodes but Booker spins out and delivers a kick. He misses another but is able to hit Rhodes with a knee to the body that incapacitates Rhodes enough for Booker to hit the scissors kick for the fall.

Winner via pinfall: Booker T

Zack Ryder and John Cena are backstage. Cena is giving him a go lucky speech. Ryder thanks him and asks him what the deal with Kane is. He says he's going to the ring and is going to call Kane out.

Ringside, Jerry Lawler announces CM Punk's gauntlet opponents as Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler and Mark Henry.

(Ads)

Big Show walks into Laurinaitis' office and is called out for knocking out David Otunga on Smackdown. Otunga also is there. Otunga talks about a lawsuit and Show says he could beat Otunga with one arm tied behind his back. Laurinaitis thinks this is a great idea. Show says a giant with one arm is still better than a smug lawyer with no testicles.

Swagger and Ziggler are chatting backstage. They are going back-and-forth until Vickie Guerrero plays peacemaker between the two. Mark Henry comes up and says "Excuse me!" and takes off.

Match #2 - Eve Torres (Denver, Colo.) & Zack Ryder (Long Island, NY) vs. Tyson Kidd (Calgary, Alberta) & Natalya (Calgary, Alberta)

Ryder gets the best of Kidd, so he brings in Natalya. It doesn't go much better for her, as Eve hits a standing moonsault. But Natalya uses some underhanded tactics to briefly get the heat until Eve tags Ryder. Ryder is on fire. He face plants Kidd and then hits a sitout power bomb. Natalya breaks up the pin but is drop kicked by Eve. Then she and Ryder hit stereo Broski Boots and Ryder follows that with the Rough Ryder and that is all she wrote.

Winners via pinfall: Zack Ryder & Eve Torres

(Ads)

John Cena is here. He talks about his history with Chicago. He talks some more about Chicago. I don't know how anybody who isn't from Chicago could possibly care about the first few minutes of this promo. Finally he gets down to business and calls Kane to the ring.

Instead, he gets The Miz. Miz says he wants to see Cena vs. Miz again. He notes how 2011 was his year and how he beat Cena in the main event of WrestleMania. He keeps talking on and on about that before Cena tells him to shut up. He says if Miz wants a piece of him, let's get a referee and get it on.

Match #3 - John Cena (West Newbury, Mass.) vs. The Miz (Cleveland, Ohio)

They go through things before Miz rolls out and grabs a mic. He says he is the most must-see WWE Champion of all time. All the while the referee is counting. Miz yaps until he is counted out.

Winner via count out: John Cena

Miz keeps going on. He notes he is a winner and he is going to walk out of this crappy city with his head held high. He keeps rambling until R-Truth music hits. He power walks down the ramp and the two start brawling. They go over the announce table and this is all Truth. He is beating this guy from pillar to post. He throws Miz into the steel steps. He grabs the mic and tells Miz he can finish it right now, but what's the fun in that? He says that's the problem with Christmas, you open your presents and then it's over. He says he wants every Monday to be like Christmas, so he's going to take his time.

(Ads)

Match #4 - The Big Show (Tampa, Fla.) vs. David Otunga (Chicago, Ill.)

Big Show's right arm is tied behind his back.

Otunga tries to stay out of Show's grasp. Show gets ahold of him and sends him to the outside when Mark Henry's music hits. He makes his way to the ring as Show tries to untie himself. As Henry enters the ring, the referee calls for the bell.

Winner via disqualification: The Big Show

Henry decks Show but Daniel Bryan comes down to distract Henry. Show comes up and tries to choke slam Henry but Otunga hits him from behind. Henry escapes but Otunga doesn't. He takes a choke slam.

(Ads)

Alberto Del Rio is here. He is in a wheelchair and Ricardo Rodriguez is in a neck brace. Del Rio says he completely tore his groin. He says he'll be back. Then the Bellas come out. They tell the crowd to treat him with respect. They argue over who is going to throw him a party when he recovers. He finally yells enough. He tells them he doesn't want to see them. He tells the crowd he will be more vicious and more aggressive than ever before when he returns.

(Ads)

Match #5 - Gauntlet Match - CM Punk (Chicago, Ill.) vs. Jack Swagger (Perry, Okla.)

Swagger controls. Punk tries to rally with some knees but Swagger goes back to work with some amateur techniques to slow down the champ. Swagger in complete control until he goes for the Vader Bomb. Punk hops up and catches him and tries for the GTS but can't get it. Swagger misses a charge and Punk catches him with a high kick and pins him.

CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler

Swagger attacks Punk from behind before Ziggler gets in the ring.

(Ads)

Ziggler works over the leg Swagger attacked. Ziggler stretches Punk but Punk escapes with headbutts and then slingshots Ziggler into the corner. That momentum doesn't last long, though, as Ziggler gets right back on Punk and locks in a half crab. Punk gets to the ropes, but not before Ziggler holds the move for a while.

Punk attempts to get moving. He kicks Ziggler in the back multiple times following a body slam. Punk hits the corner knee. He goes for the GTS but Vickie Guerrero hangs onto his leg as Swagger takes the referee. Ziggler slips out and hits the Zig Zag for two. Then Laurinaitis comes to the ring. He asks for the mic and says there has been an injustice here tonight. Punk hits Ziggler with the high kick, but Laurinaitis takes the referee's attention away and kicks Guerrero and Swagger out from the ringside area. He talks to Punk and distracts him, allowing Ziggler to come from behind and hit the Zig Zag and get the pin.

Winner via pinfall: Dolph Ziggler

Ziggler will meet Punk for the WWE Championship next week on Raw.

(Ads)

Well, through Hell, Fire & Brimstone, here's Kane. He gets out about 10 words before Cena's music hits. As Cena stands on the ramp and looks to approach, some fire on the ramp keeps him back. Kane tells him to stop. He tells Cena that he made him his victim because he's lead the people astray. He says it's OK to hate. He says why rise above hate when the natural response is to embrace it?

He tells Cena to embrace what he denies to set himself free. He says the last thing Cena will see this year is the fans chanting "Cena sucks."

The show goes off the air with Cena looks perplexed.

Matt Bishop can be reached at bishop20@msu.edu. Please include your name and hometown. Click here to follow Matt on Twitter. Should be a good one!.


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