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   October 22, 2014



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Raw: Jim Ross is appreciated in OKC, but not by CM Punk
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


As we flash back through last week's show through the wonders of video technology, a question arises. Was Ryback's insertion into the CM Punk-John Cena angle a backup plan in case Cena is on the shelf longer than expected? Or was his save of Mick Foley simply the launching pad for his inevitable Goldberg-esque run higher up the card? Some things to ponder for sure, as Raw gets set to hit the home of the Thunder, Oklahoma City, live on USA.

With Paul Heyman close behind, carrying his WWE Championship, Punk heads for the ring. Michael Cole is joined once again by Jim Ross, who is getting his own appreciation night tonight in his home state. Punk calls Cena's attack with the lead pipe cowardly and accuses Foley of disrespecting him backstage at the end of the night. Do you think Mick would have done something similar to Cena, The Rock or Steve Austin? Those are rhetorical questions, bro. The champ goes on to say that even though Foley is a borderline lunatic, some of Mick's words did get to him. So Punk did consider facing Cena at Hell in a Cell... but it's still not going to happen. Heyman tells everyone that they would like to move on to another piece of business, which in this case means his marriage proposal to AJ Lee, or rather her reaction to it. Paul reminds us that AJ was given an edict not to put her hands on any superstar or WWE employee or she'd be removed from her General Manager position. Naturally, he thinks he'd be the logical replacement. For a dissenting view, Vickie Guerrero comes out with Dolph Ziggler. She also has beef with AJ after getting jumped two months ago. Ziggler tries to play peacemaker between the two managers, suggesting that Heyman and Guerrero share power as co-GMs. The current GM still has her power, though, and she skips down to join the festivities. She says she's been placed on probation because of her attack on Heyman, and the Board of Directors has appointed her an Executive Coach. Could it be Daniel Bryan, who's next to hit the ring? He says he is only out to apologize, knowing that AJ's mental issues have been compounded by the way he dumped her after WrestleMania. Bryan doesn't blame her since he “is one hell of a catch.” Because the ring isn't crowded enough, Kane throws in his two cents, calling AJ a phenomenal kisser and arguing with Bryan over who is the tag team champions. Things start to get a little out of hand until Lee screams everyone down. It's still her show, and what she says goes. What she says now is that Punk and Ziggler will team up to face Team Hell No, because why not? The four men yell at each other for a bit to end the segment.

Match 1 – Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio vs. Primo and Epico – Number One Contenders Tournament Match

It's almost too easy to make a joke about how it's surprising that the WWE has enough tag teams to have a tournament, but it's certainly applicable. Sin Cara and Rey have cool masks tonight that are half their own and half their partner's design. The opening minutes of action aren't the smoothest, and the Prime Time Players come out to watch from the stage as we head out to commercials. Epico apparently got some momentum going during the break, but it's halted by a counter from Sin Cara. Mysterio follows up, and pretty soon both of their foes are in position to get hit with a double 619. Sin Cara flies to the outside and Rey drops the dime to get the pinfall, inspiring some concerned hair picking by Darren Young. Mysterio and Sin Cara advance to the tournament semifinals with the win.

Match 2 – Brodus Clay vs. Antonio Cesaro

J.R. wonders how Cesaro will handle a much larger opponent. Probably by taunting him in five different languages. Cesaro puts Clay away extremely quickly with the Neutralizer. That was short, in any language.

AJ introduces Kaitlyn to her Executive Coach, and she also apologizes to her former best friend. Turns out she's not really sorry at all, leaving her coach and Kaitlyn pretty much speechless as AJ skips away laughing.

Match 3 – Zack Ryder vs. The Miz

Not much to say about this one. Ryder gets in the early offense, but you didn't really think he was going to win, right? Miz finishes him off with the Skull Crushing Finale so Cole can get back to promoting the hashtag for tonight's debate between Sheamus and Big Show. #SheamusShow

Speaking of the debate, Booker T comes to the ring to introduce the participants. Show gets to make the first opening statement, and he rightfully points out how silly the debate is. He's going to be the next World Heavyweight Champion, end of story. Sheamus goes for a bit of a Foley style cheap pop and asks for Show not to rip off his leg, as he'll need it to kick out the big man's teeth. They start debating in earnest, Show tells us he smells fantastic, and things get a bit heated. Show also leans on his podium and breaks it. Because we need to work in a Tout, we hear from Sheamus' cousin Rey Mysterio O'Sullivan. The big man is losing patience with the jokes, so the champ finally gets serious. Jackets and shirts are removed for the ensuing staredown, though the challenger decides to save it for the match.

Match 4 – Tensai vs. Ryback

It's a head-on collision again. Tensai doesn't last long, getting chopped down by two running clotheslines and a power slam. Feed him more, I guess.

Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow take offense with the debate. It offended their intellectual sensibilities, don't you know.

Match 5 – Eve vs. Beth Phoenix

After causing problems for Phoenix and trying to drive a wedge between Booker T and Teddy Long, Eve pleads for a pre-match handshake. She gets it, but Beth also tears into her right away. Eve rallies by taking the fight to the floor and unsuccessfully tries to win by count out. She manages to win anyway with a neckbreaker, and the Divas Champion looks pretty pleased with herself.

Wade Barrett is glad that someone is here to help AJ do a better job. He lectures her about letting emotions get in the way of her duties, and AJ tells her coach that she thinks he's intimidated. #youthinkso

Match 6 – Santino Marella vs. Heath Slater

Slater is joined by Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre, a.k.a. “Guys for Whom Creative Has No Plans.” J.R. puts over Heath's athleticism but questions his focus. Yes. The Cobra strikes, but Mahal and McIntyre hit the ring to prevent a pin. The match is thrown out, but that's small consolation to Santino as he gets a 3-on-1 beatdown.

Match 7 – Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow

Cody Rhodes joins the announcers to watch his partner go up against the WWE Champion. A commercial break gives Sandow a chance to stop cowering and gain the upper hand. Sheamus has to fight his way out of trouble on the mat with blood showing on the bridge of his nose. Sandow gets a near fall and continues his assault. Sheamus remains in trouble both in and out of the ring, but he finally rallies to trade near falls. Sandow escapes a Brogue Kick attempt and is caught trying to escape the ring. The champ rains down blows to the chest before Rhodes tries to sneak in a cheap shot. Sandow and Rhodes both end up in the ring to eat a Brogue Kick, and Sheamus covers Sandow for the pin. Good stuff from these guys.

Wonder what Jim Ross Appreciation Night was going to entail? We're about to find out, as Cole summons J.R. to the ring. Or perhaps not, because Punk and Heyman quickly interrupt. Somewhat surprisingly, the champ says he respects Ross, though he also adds that J.R. doesn't know anything about respect. But he's going to learn, because Punk wants him to tell the fans that CM is the best in the world. Undaunted, J.R. tells Punk that he's done a fine job embarrassing himself and acting like a jackass the past few weeks. Well, how about if Punk decides to treat Ross the same way he treated Foley last week? CM mocks Ross' old friend Austin and says the number 316 now belongs to him since it's the number of days he's held the belt. Despite all that, Ross sticks to his guns, refusing to call Punk the best in the world. If CM wants to be called the best, Jim suggests that he accept the match with Cena at Hell in a Cell. Punk responds by stomping on J.R.'s cowboy hat and takes a verbal jab at the hometown Thunder. He also threatens to ensure J.R. never gets to call another match if he doesn't run from the ring right now. Punk doesn't want him to just leave, though, as he demands that Ross go back up the ramp with his head down. Before he does, Ryback comes down to get involved. An incredible verbal battle follows. Just kidding. Punk decides not to take on the silent destroyer and leaves.

Match 8 – Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston

For some reason, Ricardo Rodriguez joins Cole and J.R. at the announce table. He complains that his boss is fighting 3-on-1 odds since R-Truth and Little Jimmy are out to support Kingston. It matters little, as Del Rio is able to get the submission with the cross armbreaker.

AJ gets some advice from her coach, and since she doesn't appreciate it too much, she considers making him a special guest referee for the main event. Then she changes course and simply tells him to leave.

Main Event – Team Hell No vs. CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler w/ Special Guest Referee AJ Lee

In the great football tradition of score, commercial, kickoff, commercial, we have to sit through ads between the ring intros and again after the first minute or so of action. Team Hell No is doing the majority of the damage, working well as a team for the time being. Punk turns thing around for his side, and he and Ziggler take turns smacking Bryan around in and out of the ring. Dolph sends Daniel hard into the steps, then returns to the ring so Punk can tag in. The WWE Champion ends up crotched on the top turnbuckle and trapped in the No Lock following a superplex. He doesn't tap, but AJ ends up ejecting both Heyman and Guerrero. Punk is left to his own devices, meaning he eats a big choke slam and is pinned by Kane. Even in victory, Bryan and Kane squabble right to the end of the show. And that's all she wrote – see you in seven!

Nick Tylwalk certainly appreciated seeing Jim Ross back at the announce table again. Follow Nick on Twitter, on Google+ or shoot him your thoughts via email.