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   October 22, 2014



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Raw: Atlanta heats up with Punk-Jericho and a Shield showdown
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling




Brock Lesnar made his dramatic return last week to save Paul Heyman from getting “future endeavored” by Vince McMahon. What happens next? We’ll just have to see as Raw rolls into Atlanta, live on USA.

In his new default angry state, CM Punk gets in the ring, forcing Justin Roberts to introduce him as the People's Champion. He's had a week to digest what happened, and he doesn't feel like he overreacted since the WWE title is currently in the hands of someone who doesn't know what it means to be a true champion. Punk's defense to the video that proved Heyman had hired Brad Maddox and The Shield seems to be that he personally wasn't in it. Also, it was CGI! Yes, Vince doctored the video, and all of you mindless fans bought into it. Punk gloats about Lesnar breaking McMahon's hip, saying the Chairman got what he deserved. Booker T interrupts the extended rant to report that he's allowing the WWE Universe to decide Punk's fate. Specifically, he'll get to face one of his previous WrestleMania opponents: Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton or Chris Jericho. Download that WWE app now if you want to vote. Uh, but by the time you read this, it will be too late. Sorry.

Match 1 – Ryback vs. Antonio Cesaro

It's not too often that we start off a match hearing Michael Cole comparing the diets of the two men in the ring. That's probably a good thing. Cesaro is able to hang in with Ryback through the commercial break, though he's forced to keep fighting instead of walking out on the match. Cesaro sends Ryback into the post and the steps on the outside, hoping to win by count out. Ryback returns at nine but runs right into a flurry of offense. That's not nearly enough, and Cesaro eats a Meat Hook before attempting to climb into the crowd. He's forcefully brought back in, where he gets power bombed and takes another Meat Hook. The Shell Shock ends it, but Cesaro looked good in defeat.

A grumpy looking John Cena watches a video package on The Shield. Vickie Guerrero laughs at the idea that Cena is thinking about calling all three members of the group on his own. He thinks The Shield needs to be stopped tonight.

Match 2 – Santino Marella vs. Jack Swagger

Swagger was starting to get into the “I forgot he was on the roster” territory for me. He's got a new atttitude, probably because of his new facial hair. We all know new beard = more aggressive persona. He beats Santino quickly with an Ankle Lock and tells Booker over at the announce table that he's juts getting started.

Match 3 – Alberto Del Rio vs. Cody Rhodes

You've got to love Cody's new shirt that says “Groomed for Greatness.” See? Facial hair is the key! Rhodes' early success has Cole all excited thinking he's going to pull off a big upset. Del Rio has other plans, quickly applying the cross armbreaker that gets Cody to tap, mustache or no mustache. Del Rio gets a big threat on the big screen from the Big Show, who says he wants Alberto to sign a contract for a rematch.

The votes are in, and 57 percent of the fans voted to see Jericho face Punk tonight. Also, The Miz is going to ask Heyman about Lesnar's return, and Cena is going to call out The Shield. Keep watching...

Match 4 – Rey Mysterio vs. Daniel Bryan

The consolation prize for Rey not winning the popular vote is getting to wrestle Bryan. Not bad, that. It's all Bryan early, with Mysterio gaining the upper hand after a mid-match commercial. But Bryan wins out, getting the submission with the No Lock. And then, for some reason, Mark Henry makes his return. Wasn't expecting that, nor was Mysterio. A running powerslam plants Rey, and Sin Cara fares no better when he tries to make the save. Mysterio tries to fight back again, but Henry shrugs him off and delivers his corner splash.

Bryan wants to know why Kane didn't come to his aid, but the Big Red Monster reminds his tag team partner that he said he wanted to go out there alone. Kane also says his feeling were hurt by Bryan's hurtful words, but it appears he might not be serious about that. In case you missed it, we get another look at the McMahon-Heyman-Lesnar segment from last Monday. And last but not least, Big Show berates the server who drops off his room service tray. He's waiting at his hotel for the contract to be sent over, you see.

Match 5 – Sheamus vs. Kane

Big men fans, this one's for you. Kane shows some impressive resilience by popping up quickly from some of the Great White's trademark moves. He even escapes the clubbing shots on the apron and blocks a Brogue Kick. A series of reversals ends with Kane hitting a DDT, but Bryan picks that moment to run down. He tells his partner to mind his own business, but the distraction is enough to allow Sheamus to recover, and Kane turns right into a Brogue Kick. Sheamus gets the pin and looks a little amused about the whole thing.

MizTV is underway, but it looks like the guest of honor wants to crash his own introduction. Paul offers his best wishes to McMahon on his hip surgery, and a battle of interruptions ensues. Heyman seems hurt by the allegation that he arranged for Lesnar to attack Vince. He denies everything, of course. When the testosterone level gets too high, Vickie comes out to say that she asked Lesnar to come back, negotiating in secret for Brock to re-sign in the hopes that she'd be named the permanent general manager of Raw. That seems to have backfired a bit. Miz reminds Guerrero that the two of them aren't exactly trustworthy and calls them bottom feeders. He also can't wait until both of them are fired, but he may have talked his way into a big problem as Lesnar comes out. Brock tears into both Miz and the MizTV set, ending his rampage with an F-5.

Match 6 – Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett

A bad week for Barrett continues in the opening minutes as Orton smacks him around in and out of the ring. The Intercontinental Champion gathers himself by clotheslining Orton to the floor before rolling him back in for a two count. Orton's rally includes several clotheslines, a powerslam and the rope-aided DDT. Barrett rolls out of the ring to get a breather, which works as he earns the next near fall. The two wrestlers jockey for position until Orton can execute the RKO, and that's the match.

Oh crap, guess the WWE didn't forget about Fandango after all.

Match 7 – Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk

Dueling “Y2J” and “CM Punk” chants are going through the crowd in Atlanta. Punk is able to channel his anger into his mat holds, yelling at the ref to ask Jericho if he submits. Punk ends up getting dumped outside, where Jericho nails him with a baseball slide. That only slows Punk down for a second, as he hits a move that takes us out to commercial. It's much more of an even affair after that, with the wrestlers going back and forth exchanging pinning attempts and holds. Punk connects with a running knee and a clothesline before going up top. He lands awkwardly when Jericho rolls away from the flying elbow and has to kick out following a Jericho Lionsault. Punk's head kick gets him another near fall, so he locks in the Anaconda Vice. Jericho strains and finally makes it to the ropes. The fans launch into the “This is awesome” chant. Punk hoists Jericho for the GTS, but it's countered into the Walls of Jericho. Punk makes a heroic effort to drag himself to the ropes. He twists himself out of another Walls attempt, sends Jericho into the post and hits the GTS. It wasn't easy, but Punk ends up the winner.

Matt Striker wants to know where Punk's head is at. He claims he's not upset, but his tone suggests something else. Punk promises to prove that he's the best in the world again at Elimination Chamber. Cena is with Josh Mathews, still sounding like he intends on calling out The Shield. After the commercial, Del Rio tries to ambush Big Show in his hotel room. The big man temporarily turns the tables, but Del Rio eventually uses some of the objects on hand in the hallway to get the last laugh. Also, some random hotel guests look a little surprised. #NotReallyGuests

Brad Maddox is out in the ring to talk about his betrayal at the hands of Heyman. Now he'd like to rewrite the story with himself as the hero, not Cena. He's going to teach The Shield about justice? This I've got to see. He gets what he asks for, as The Shield heads for the ring. Dean Ambrose makes a semi-admission that they took money from Heyman, but no one ever said justice was free. It looks bad for Maddox as he's cornered by all three guys. He quickly goes for a triple power bomb ride before Cena's music hits. He steals some of The Shield's thunder by coming through the crowd, joined by Ryback and Sheamus. The Shield tries the ramp, but a host of other superstars blocks that path as well. And here... we... go! A short confrontation ends with Ambrose and company licking their wounds and retreating up the steps. That was… not as explosive as it could have been. Oh well, see you in seven!

Nick Tylwalk is glad Lesnar isn't getting paid by the word, because he hasn't said anything in two appearances in 2013. Come to think of it though, maybe that's not so bad. Follow Nick on Twitter or Google+ or email him with questions, comments or complaints.