March 5, 2013
Raw: Four men enter, one man leaves as Undertaker's WrestleMania opponent
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling

The Undertaker makes at an appearance at the end of Monday Night Raw in Buffalo. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

Now this is the proper way to kick off an Old School episode of Raw. The Undertaker is in Buffalo, and the fans are pumped. We're going to get a healthy dose of nostalgia, so let the retro introduction play as we go live on USA.

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are even dressed the part for tonight at the First Niagara Center. But if anyone can rain on this parade as soon as it gets going, it's CM Punk and Paul Heyman. Punk says he should be main eventing this year's WrestleMania, and it's because of the fans that he's not. He maintains that the WWE Universe screwed him out of what was rightfully his, and that if he's not defending “his” title, he sees no reason to be at WrestleMania. But he figured out a purpose, which is to take something precious from the fans: he's going to beat the Undertaker and end The Streak. The gauntlet is officially thrown down, but Randy Orton wants to throw in his two cents. Orton doesn't think that Punk should be so confident, and he wants the fans to decide who they'd rather see face 'Taker in New Jersey. And that's not all! Big Show chides both men, saying that even though he's lost to the Deadman at WrestleMania in the past, he didn't have his KO punch back then. You need to be a giant to end The Streak, or so says Show. Oh, and Sheamus wants in on this too, given that he's never faced the Undertaker before. Vickie Guerrero actually has a good idea on how to settle this, booking a four-way match between the wrestlers with the winner going on to face the Phenom at WrestleMania. Now there's a match with some serious stakes.

Match 1 – Antonio Cesaro vs. Ryback

Ryback shows off his power right from the opening bell, causing Cesaro to take a powder on the floor to catch his breath. A lengthy hanging vertical suplex leads to a two count for Ryback. Cesaro fights back with punches and kicks in the corner, but he's caught and pressed overhead while trying to come off the top turnbuckle. Ryback chases Cesaro and ends up eating a big boot to the face that knocks him off the apron and into the retro fence. Cesaro is feeling pretty good about himself as we head out to commercials. And... it doesn't take long for that to change after the break. Ryback manages to counter the Neutralizer with the Shell Shock, and it's good night Antonio. But not so fast Ryback. Mark Henry meets him up near the stage for a bit of a staredown.

Match 2 – Mark Henry vs. Zack Ryder

I've been reading rumors about Ryder campaigning for a more serious gimmick. Sadly, it won't be in time to save him from this. Henry takes about 90 seconds to put Zack away with a World's Strongest Slam.


Match 3 – Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz

Hey, Miz's mic doesn't work right away, just like in the old days! Miz has someone special in his corner: it's the Nature Boy himself, Ric Flair. He's happy in the opening sequence as Miz gets a chance to strut his stuff (literally, of course). Ziggler fights back with a jumping DDT for a near fall as Big E Langston looks on, arms folded. Dolph gets the sleeper applied, forcing Miz down to one knee. He eventually works his way out, hitting his jumping corner clothesline. Miz connects with a double ax handle off the top rope, causing Ziggler's girl and bodyguard to get involved. Flair tries to chop down Langston to no avail. Miz ends up saving Ric before returning to the ring and maneuvering Ziggler into the Figure Four. The fans eat it up as Ziggler taps out, leaving Flair and Ziggler to celebrate by dropping elbows on imaginary foes.


John Cena tells The Rock what will happen this year at WrestleMania.
The crowd in Buffalo is hot as The Rock makes his way out. Dwayne tells the fans a story about not needing a jacket as he flew from Panama to Buffalo because of the electricity running through his body. Then he got here and saw icicles forming on the People's Nipples. Anyway, The Rock is happy to be back in Buffalo after 10 years. He's about to go on, but John Cena interrupts by joining him in the ring. He talks extensively about his defeat last year and his long road back to a rematch. Cena explains that he gets a chance to rewrite history and earn some redemption. The Rock is happy to hear him speaking with so much will and desire, but he still feels like he has even more of those qualities. They go back and forth about whose time it is now while throwing in quotes from famous athletes. Why so serious guys? We'll see who's right in 34 days.

You know, except for the graphics and Flair, this episode hasn't been very Old School so far. Ah, but here comes Hacksaw Jim Duggan with some friends. #NeverMind

Match 4 – Jack Swagger vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Swagger has Zeb Colter with him, while Duggan comes out with Sgt. Slaughter and Dusty Rhodes. Unfortunately for the legends, Duggan's trademark 2x4 ends up getting used on all of them. Duggan suffers in the clutches of the Patriot Lock, and I guess the match is thrown out or something.

Run for your lives! It's The Marine 3! #Really?

Swagger's backstage interview is cut short by an enraged Alberto Del Rio. A classic pull apart ensues amid some yelling and such.

Match 5 – Team Hell No vs. The Primetime Players

Apparently the PTPers want Ted DiBiase to manage them, but he's only going to do it if they can beat Team Hell No. I don't like their chances. And it turns out as you'd expect, with Kane getting the pin via choke slam. The Million Dollar Man stuffs a benjy in Darren Young's mouth as he heads for the back, but Daniel Bryan decides he's going to go back and claim it for himself.

Match 6 – Brodus Clay and Tensai vs. 3MB

The Honky Tonk Man comes out with the big guys, but that meanie Heath Slater won't let him talk. The match only lasts about 30 seconds, and Slater ends up eating a guitar shot from Honky Tonk Man when he crashes the post-match dance party.

Match 7 – Kofi Kingston vs. Fandango

Evne though it's his Raw debut, Fandango has a problem with the way Justin Roberts pronounces his name. Roberts gives it a few more shots, but Fandango refuses to compete. Well, shoot.

After a video package replays the latest confrontation between Brock Lesnar and Triple H, The Game storms down the aisle. Trips reveals that after he had his arm broken by Brock, he was back in the gym training every day but with no real purpose. Then he sat beside Vince McMahon's bed after his hip surgery and saw his wife and kids crying, and he smiled inside. Because once McMahon came back and ended up facing Heyman and Lesnar again, Triple H was ready. Now it's only five weeks until the big dance, and The Game is calling Lesnar out. Reminding Brock that he got split open last week, HHH proposes they finish what they started at WrestleMania.

The Shield has a little video to react to some of the guys competing in tonight's main event. One gets the feeling that the losers of the four-way will be matched against The Shield at WrestleMania, no?

Match 8 – Wade Barrett vs. Alberto Del Rio

Swagger and Colter come out to the stage to get a good look at this one. Del Rio draws some energy from the fans as he fights back from Barrett's early assault. He manages to get an armlock applied over the top rope, but Barrett retaliates by knocking him down to the floor. Barrett unloads with knees and kicks to the head before rolling Del Rio back in for a two count. The World Heavyweight Champion slowly gains the upper hand, though he misses a corner charge and eats a back kick. Del Rio wins an exchange of reversals and locks in the cross armbreaker, and Barrett taps out.

We're not quite done with Swagger and Colter yet. They've got another video lecturing all of us on the perils of political correctness. Then it's time for more Old School goodness as the New Age Outlaws hit the ring. Man, Billy's hairline... Anyway, if you're not down with them, they've got two words for you.

Match 9 – New Age Outlaws vs. Primo and Epico

These guys aren't so old that they can't wrestle, and most of their moves weren't dependant on high levels of athleticism anyway. Billy finishes things off with a Fame-Ass-Er, and the Outlaws ride again, if only for one night.

Mean Gene Okerlund and the majority of the locker room have assembled on stage. There's a birthday cake out there, and it's for Mae Young's 90th birthday. Naturally, Punk decides to make his ring entrance for the main event, robbing Young of anything more than a momentary spotlight.

Match 10 – CM Punk vs. Big Show vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus

Punk decides that discretion is the better art of valor, hiding on the outside and only entering the fray when he thinks me may be able to steal a pinfall. Orton and Sheamus finally catch up to him and send him flying to the floor. Wait, that's the old Brer Rabbit trick guys! Time for a commercial break. Punk is in some trouble as we rejoin the action, scrambling to escape pinfall attempts from Orton and Sheamus. He also has to hurry to stop Show from pinning Sheamus, but he ends up eating a KO punch in return. Sheamus and Big Show do battle, but the Great White can't get the even bigger man up off the mat. He does manage to roll away when Show tries coming off the middle rope, and his second attempt at White Noise succeeds. Big Show kicks out at two. Orton sneaks back in to hit a power slam that gets a near fall on Sheamus. Show dishes out choke slams and tries pinning Sheamus, but he beats the count. Another KO punch is loaded, but Sheamus dodges and strikes with a Brogue Kick. Orton hurries to hit an RKO on Sheamus, but Punk returns and kicks Randy in the head. The GTS is on target, and Punk makes the pin to go on to face Undertaker at WrestleMania. Speaking of the Phenom, he makes a typically dramatic entrance so he and Punk can stare each other down. See you in seven!

RELATED LINKS

  • WWE Monday Night Raw in Buffalo Photo Gallery

    In terms of the SLAM! Wrestling staff, Nick Tylwalk is Old School, getting his start way back in the late '90s. Yes, there were internet sites back then. Trade stories with him about the old days on Twitter, on Google+ or by email.

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