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Raw: Punk-Ryback and Cena-Ziggler feuds spice things up in Cajun country
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


Tonight on Raw: Maybe John Cena's motto should be changed to hustle, loyalty, controversy. Looks like his feud with Dolph Ziggler will continue tonight. More importantly, we're due to hear directly from Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns for the first time. We're live from Lafayette, Louisiana on USA.

Match 1 – Ryback vs. Titus O'Neil

Fans gets the “Feed me more” chant going early tonight. Ryback defeated Darren Young on SmackDown, so he turns his attention to Young's partner here. Darren does the distraction thing from the floor, allowing the Clash of the Titus to connect on Ryback. He barely even stays down for one. A second aid attempt from Young backfires, and you know what's coming next. O'Neil eats a Meat Hook and gets Shell Shocked, and he's not kicking out from that. And it looks like Ryback isn't leaving, as he announces that he'll simply stay in the ring until he gets what he wants.

And what does he want? Glad you asked. Ryback wants CM Punk or the three NXT guys to meet him in the ring. He gets a phalanx of security guards instead, though after seeing one of them sent flying, the others back up a step. Vickie Guerrero comes out to declare that Ryback will not be allowed to put his hands on the guards or hold the show hostage. He responds by saying that he wants to face Punk at TLC, and he's not leaving until he gets it. She makes that match, but he's not finished speaking. The monster wants that to be an actual TLC Match, and if he doesn't get it, he'll tear the ring apart. Now will he leave the ring so she can get on with the show? Looks like he will, but only after giving the guards one last scare.

Earlier today, Rosa Mendes confronts Hownswoggle about the prank he pulled on her last week. Alberto Del Rio offers to help her extract some revenge, but a big deterrent arrives in the form of The Great Khali. Conveniently, they're going to face off in the ring right after a word from our sponsors.

Match 2 – Alberto Del Rio vs. The Great Khali

Khali actually gets in quite a bit of offense here, more than I expected anyway. Ricardo Rodriguez eventually provides a distraction from the apron, and even though Hornswoggle takes care of him, Del Rio uses the chaos to apply the cross armbreaker to Khali. The giant taps out, earning a squeal of joy from Rosa backstage.

Punk and Paul Heyman angrily confront Guerrero about giving in to Ryback's demands. Does she have any idea what danger she's put him in? Maybe she's not thinking with a clear head because of the AJ scandal. She says Ryback deserves a match because of what happened with “his boys” Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns. Punk again denies having anything to do with the NXT crew, but Vickie not only ignores his protests, she announces that Punk will face either Daniel Bryan or Kane tonight. Vote now!

The Michael Cole interview with the NXT guys is up. Ambrose says he can simply ask them questions directly. Are they working directly for Punk? Ambrose says no. Rollins explains that everyone on the main roster has to answer to the WWE Universe, and when they saw things heading in the wrong direction, they stepped in to intervene. They say it's just coincidence that their actions benefited Punk, and that if Ryback was champion and the roles were reversed, they'd have done the same thing. Ambrose calls the group a shield from injustice – they are the shield. Or maybe that should be “The Shield.” Reigns finally chimes in and says the interview is over.

Another video promo airs for Fandango. If they get him on Raw by next week, my wife can transition seamlessly into watching this since the current season of Dancing with the Stars will be over. Er, not that I know or anything.

Match 3 – Alicia Fox vs. Tamina Snuka

Tamina says she can't stand a woman who doesn't know her place, and she alerts AJ that her match will serve as a warning not to mess with Vickie. She pulls off the Superfly Splash a little more gracefully this week, sending Fox to a quick defeat.

Sounds like more cheers than boos for Cena tonight as he hits the ring. He says the world has been asking him if AJ is a good kisser. And while a gentleman doesn't usually kiss and tell, he considers making an exception. Vickie interrupts by joining him with a gift of matching bathrobes. She's obviously pretty disgusted by the whole thing, and she manages to get AJ to come out too by calling her unstable. AJ actually thanks Vickie, because now that she isn't GM any more, she can date whoever she wants and do anything she wants. She's about to prove it by kissing Cena, but Guerrero stops her. And just before the two women come to blows, Ziggler comes to the stage to throw in his two cents. Dolph seems a little confused as to why Cena attacked him on SmackDown, though he suspects it's because AJ was thinking about him while she was kissing John. That gets Cena riled up, but Guerrero announces that they can settle their differences with a match tonight.

RGIII! The Redskins quarterback was presented with a title belt for his performance for my fantasy team on Thanksgiving. Okay, maybe also for leading his NFL team to a victory over the Cowboys.

Match 4 – Tensai vs. Kofi Kingston

Wade Barrett joins Cole and Jerry Lawler, saying that he will get a shot at Kingston's title at TLC. Kofi has to weather an early storm, but he eventually manages to get Tensai off his feet. Trouble in Paradise gets blocked by the big man, and Kingston has to scramble to kick out in the corner. Kofi slides out of the ring and hits a kick from the floor, then springboards back in with a cross body to get the victory. Barrett enters the ring and hands the belt to Kofi, leaving with a smirk on his face.

Bryan and Kane argue backstage over who is going to win the voting to take on Punk. Channeling his inner Nate Silver, Bryan reveals his polling data that allegedly shows he is leading all over the world. But when the results are shown, Kane takes it with 59 percent. Kane: “Looks like your data was skewed. Red rules!” As a consolation prize, Bryan will wrestle Rey Mysterio for the first time ever (Note: claim not verified by the SLAM! Wrestling research intern).

Match 5 – Daniel Bryan vs. Rey Mysterio

I hate doing stuff like this, but all I can think about is what a prime Mysterio versus the Bryan from the indies would have been like. Anyway, this is still entertaining, with the two men evenly matched until we step away for commercials. Only 28 shopping days left until Christmas! Maybe you should look here. Bryan tries slowing things down when we return, taking Mysterio down to the mat. Rey rallies with several consecutive moves and a kick to the head for two. Bryan evades the 619 and maneuvers Mysterio into the No Lock. He gets his foot to the ropes, then hits a 619 around the post and Drops the Dime to get the pinfall.

Del Rio and Rodriguez converse in Spanish as they walk backstage, where Rosa delivers a bilingual thank you for his help. Elsewhere, Josh Mathews asks Ziggler is he's given Cena extra incentive for their match tonight. Dolph thinks John is preoccupied with his obsessive nutcase girlfriend.

Match 6 – Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena

It's fun to see Cena playing to and off of the dueling chants he gets. He has the early control, but Ziggler uses a shoulder jawbreaker to catch a breather. Commercial break. Ziggler connects with a jumping DDT to put Cena down, but he manages to kick out at two. Dolph gets the sleeper hold locked in tight. Cena wriggles free and uses a drop toehold to set up the STF. The ref orders the hold broken as Ziggler stretched to reach the bottom rope. He follows to hit a big dropkick, and both men are down for a few seconds. Ziggler comes off the top with a cross body, but Cena rolls through and lifts his foe up for an Attitude Adjustment. That's countered with a Zig Zag, and Cena barely manages to kick out a two. He tries to get the Five Knuckle Shuffle going, but his bad knee acts up and forces him to regorup on the floor. Ziggler works on the top turnbuckle, and both AJ and Vickie get involved. That leaves an opening for Ziggler to grab his Money in the Bank briefcase, but he misses his cheap shot. Cena's Attitude Adjustment doesn't miss, and he gets the win plus a victory kiss from AJ.

Match 7 – Sheamus vs. Antonio Cesaro

Hard hitting? But of course. Cesaro slowly begins to impose his will, battering the Great White on the outside before the almost inevitable commercial break.The U.S. champ is still having his way a few minutes later, tossing Sheamus around for a series of near falls. Sheamus has his arms locked in the ropes, where he eats about five uppercuts in a row. He returns the favor with clubbing shots to Cesaro's chest. An Irish Curse forces Cesaro to kick out at two. They go back and forth with near falls, including a huge crucifix slam by Cesaro. Sheamus gets caught with an uppercut coming off the top rope, but he manages to back body drop his way out of a Neutralizer attempt. A Brogue Kick only catches part of Cesaro, knocking him out of the ring. Big Show comes partway down the ramp with a chair as Cesaro is counted out. Sheamus talks some trash on the microphone while Show takes his frustrations out on the poor chair. Hey, that chair didn't do anything to you Show!

Silence, for Damien Sandow is about to speak. He wants to reiterate that his sole purpose in the WWE is to rescue all of us from the doldrums of our own ignorance. You're welcome!

Match 8 – Damien Sandow vs. Zack Ryder

Cole and Lawler discuss Sandow's many self-given nicknames. They stumble over the Latin pronunciation of his Elbow of Disdain, which I'm not going to try to spell here (though I did have four years of Latin, many years ago). Ryder gets himself into the match after taking an initial beating, but Sandow is able to right the ship and win the match with the Terminus.

Mathews is everywhere tonight, now asking Heyman about the WWE Champion's state of mind. Paul answers with a series of rhetorical questions asked in non-question form.

Match 9 – Kane vs. CM Punk

Kane flexes his muscles right off the bat, but it's not long before Punk is launching himself into a suicide dive that gets him the momentum. Did I mention there were commercials in there (#goeswithoutsaying)? Punk stands on Kane's chest in the corner and mugs for the crowd. That gives Kane enough time to get his mojo back, and he earns a near fall with a side slam. Kane delivers his top rope clothesline and looks for a choke slam. Punk counters for a swinging neckbreaker and a two count. The members of The Shield look on from the crowd as Punk wins the match with the Go To Sleep. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns appear to stare down Punk, but they turn and attack Kane instead. Lawler insists that he was right about The Shield working for Punk as Bryan unsuccessfully tries to help his tag team partner. Ryback is out too, and Punk leaps into the crowd to escape. He gets some payback on Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns, and Punk tries to return to get in a cheap shot. Ryback sees him coming and hoists him for a power bomb, but a spear from Reigns puts a halt to that. A three-man power bomb leaves Ryback prone for Punk to stand over as The Shield exits into the stands. See you in seven!

Nick Tylwalk believes it may now be mandated for every match on Raw to feature a commercial break. Send your ideas for sponsors to fill up all these extra ad spots to Nick on Twitter, on Google+ or by email.