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Raw: Punk crashes 'Taker and Kane's tribute to Paul Bearer
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


The show kicks off in the most appropriate possible fashion, with a video tribute to the late Paul Bearer, real name William Moody. That's followed by an immediate appearance from The Undertaker, as we kick off Raw, live from Indianapolis on USA.

As the memorial to Bearer continues to show on screen, the Deadman pays his respects by an urn in the ring. Sadly, CM Punk isn't much for respect, and he decides to interrupt. Punk says he's out to extend his heartfelt condolences for 'Takers loss... at WrestleMania. He also quips that while Bearer will always remember The Phenom as 20-0, everyone else will soon know him as 20-1. We'll also be telling everyone we know where we were when Punk beat The Streak (possibly true, actually).

During the commercial, Kane takes exception with Punk's disrespect of his “father,” tearing apart the backstage area looking for him. The rest of the locker room best stay out of his way.

Match 1 – The Big Show vs. Seth Rollins

It's the first solo match on Raw for Rollins. And it doesn't last long, as Show sends him flying out between the ropes, colliding with Dean Ambrose. Show pursues him outside the ring and quickly ends up facing the usual 3-on-1 onslaught from The Shield. The match is thrown out, but the fight continues. It's a struggle, but The Shield eventually gets the giant up for the triple power bomb.

Punk demands some answers from Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox, wondering why Undertaker is having his little brother fight his battles for him. Guerrero tells Punk he can ask Kane himself when they face each other in the ring tonight.

Match 2 – Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler

Bryan shows his mat prowess with an inverted surfboard that he rolls into a pin. Ziggler responds with a sharp dropkick as Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler discuss Bryan's “beard off” with Josh Reddick of the Oakland A's. Commercial time. Big E Langston grimaces as Ziggler gets crotched on the top turnbuckle after the break, but Dolph is able to pivot in mid-air and turn it into a cross body of sorts that is good for a two count. Ziggler hangs Bryan up on the top rope and hits the leg drop bulldog, but that's not enough to put Bryan away. Daniel is able to put Dolph in the No Lock, but AJ distracts the ref so that Big E can put his foot on the ropes. After Bryan almost gets his submission hold locked on again, Ziggler is able to connect with the Zig Zag to get the pinfall. Langston dishes out some extra punishment to poor Bryan after the bell.

Want to see some video? How about if it's a recap of the Triple H-Brock Lesnar feud? You got it.

Match 3 – Tensai vs. Fandango

As you might expect, Fandango takes exception to Tensai's crack at pronouncing his name. He also thinks Tensai and Brodus Clay are an affront to the art of dancing. He says he'll come to the ring if Naomi says his name correctly. But Tensai speaks up, spoiling everyone's chance to see a match with Fandango.

Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes do their own, fairly humorous, grammatically correct rendition of the New Age Outlaws' ring intro. I think the real one is coming up in a second.

Match 4 – Team Rhodes Scholars vs. New Age Outlaws

About a minute into the action, Brock Lesnar's music hits. Lesnar comes down the ramp accompanied by Paul Heyman, and things don't look good for the Outlaws. the bell sounds as Billy tries a pre-emptive strike on Lesnar, but all that gets him is an F-5. Road Dogg gets huge F-5 of his own. Heyman has a message for HHH: Lesnar doesn't play games, he hurts people, including the likes of Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon. Also, Heyman reveals that Lesnar will fight Triple H at WrestleMania, but only if Brock gets to name the stipulations. Lesnar will only reveal the stipulations after The Game signs the contract. Quite the predicament.

Match 5 – Kofi Kingston vs. Mark Henry

Hey, wasn't Kingston winning matches and holding a belt not that long ago? Or did I mention that? It feels like he's getting served up to Henry here, and a big kick knocks Kofi completely out of the ring. Kingston catches a break when he knocks Henry into the post, and he's fired up. He goes to fly off the top rope, but he's caught and dropped with a World's Strongest Slam. Yep, served up.

Rhodes is trying to talk to Kaitlyn backstage, but Sandow has made plans for them with the returning Bella Twins. Vickie has more work for them anyway since their match got cut short, booking them to face Randy Orton and Sheamus.

Match 6 – Ryback vs.Heath Slater

As long as we're talking about peopl getting served up, I present Exhibit B, also known as Slater. A Meat Hook drops Slater, and this isn't going to last long. A Shell Shock ends it, and Drew McIntyre gets one too when he tries a post-match assault. Henry decides to come to the ring, and we've got ourselves a showdown. McIntyre serves as the crash test dummy as the two big men hit him with their finishers. Ryback and Henry exchange words as some refs cautiously check on McIntyre.

We get an extended preview of “The Call.” Still not sure how they got Halle Berry to be in this one. #CompromisingPhotos

Match 7 – Antonio Cesaro vs. Alberto Del Rio

Good action right from the start with Del Rio snapping off a hurricanrana and Cesaro showing his ring smarts. He tries to wear Del Rio down, then rushes into the corner with an uppercut. Del Rio rallies with clotheslines and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He smacks Cesaro with a kick to the head that leads to a near fall. Cesaro isn't finished, but he gets tangled in the ropes and takes a series of shots to the back. Antonio kicks out of a Backstabber and catches Del Rio coming off the top rope with another uppercut. It's close to a three count, but not quite. Cesaro tries for the Neutralizer, but Del Rio counters with a cross armbreaker that earns him the submission win.

Josh Mathews tries to get a word from Kane, but the Big Red Machine just stares at the urn he's holding and walks off. After a commercial break, we see a preview of the WrestleMania main event. You know, just in case you weren't sure what it was.

Match 8 – Randy Orton and Sheamus vs. Team Rhodes Scholars

Oton jumps on Sandow with an elbow and a vertical suplex. The Viper and The Great White both get quick two counts, and Rhodes also finds himself kicking out after some punishment from Sheamus. the heels eventually get some momentum going out on the floor, and all of a sudden, Sheamus is in some trouble. He finally clotheslines Rhodes and makes a tag, and Orton uses a power slam and a t-bone suplex to get another two count. Sandow rescues Rhodes from the rope-aided DDT and manages to sucker Orton into a bit of an ambush by the announce table. Sandow returns the action to the ring, proudly hitting the Elbow of Disdain for two. Rhodes gets tagged in, but Orton nails him with a superplex. Sheamus receives the hot tag and runs wild on Sandow. With Orton running interference to hit an RKO on Rhodes, Sheamus finds the mark with the Brogue Kick, and that's it for Sandow.

Should I be recapping the stuff happening during the breaks on the WWE app? I kind of feel like that's above and beyond the call of duty. Anyway, The Shield attacked Orton and Sheamus on their way up the ramp, leaving both of them down. Who can stop them (at WrestleMania, probably)?

Back from the road with Fozzy, Chris Jericho comes out to host the Highlight Reel. He brings out the star of “The Marine 3,” The Miz. Jericho also calls the flick a surprise hit, which is why he's such a good soldier for the WWE. Wade Barrett objects to that as much as I do, bragging about his role in an actual money-making film, “Dead Man Down.” After Miz razzes him a bit, Barrett claims he's been turning down all kinds of offers from Hollywood because he's too busy being the Intercontinental Champion. Really? Jericho seems like he wants in on the IC title hunt too. Maddox comes out to sort all of this out. Barrett will defend the belt next week against the winner of a match between Miz and Jericho that will start as soon as the JeriTron 6000 is removed. Oh, wait. #AlreadyGone

Match 9 – Chris Jericho vs. The Miz

Barrett joins the announcers for guest commentary. Miz ends up having to escape the Walls of Jericho after a few minutes of action, which he does by going to the outside. Jericho hurls him into Wade Barrett, and the champ gets involved, officially ending the match. Jericho's baseball slide sends Barrett hard into the table, and Miz nails him with a Skull-Crushing Finale. Wade eats a Codebreaker too, and that's a rough ending to some interference if there ever was one.

Ricardo Rodriguez and Alberto Del Rio have their own parody version of the Zeb Colter/Jack Swagger videos. Not as funny as it could have been, but it does show that Rodriguez has some acting range.

Match 10 – Sin Cara vs. Jack Swagger

Colter isn't in a real good mood after that parody bit. He unleashes his verbal venom on Sin Cara, criticizing him for not learning English and insinuating that he and his amigos are just like the people trying to sneak across the border every day. Swagger vows to win the title from Del Rio at WrestleMania, but first he's got to deal with Sin Cara, who flies off the top rope to take Jack down on the floor. Back in the ring, Swagger continues to have trouble with the masked man's speed, but a boot to the gut helps with that when it catches Sin Cara coming off the top turnbuckle. Swagger gets the No Lock on and gets the tapout, but Del Rio is in after the bell. Colter ends up having to drag Swagger to safety when he's caught in the cross armbreaker.

They actually got Halle Berry to be in a promo spot for “The Call” with David Otunga and Kane. And you know what? It's probably better than the movie itself.

Match 11 – CM Punk vs. Kane – No Disqualification Match

Punk isn't waiting until Kane gets in the ring, attacking him before the bell even sounds. Kane fights back by hurling Punk into the retaining wall several times. Punk comes off the table with a double ax handle and eyes up the urn. Kane comes right back with a monitor shot, then uses the top of the table as a weapon. He rains down shots to Punk's head and neck before stalking him back between the ropes. They both go up top, where Punk uses a serious eye gouge to free himself. He drops the big elbow for a two count. Kane eats a high running knee, followed by a second one. But he shrugs those off and sends Punk to the floor, and they're going to try squeezing in one more set of commercials. Punk looks good after reversing a choke slam into a DDT off a steel chair. He uses the chair to do more damage and mocks the Undertaker by making the throat slash gesture. Punk calls for the GTS, but the famous bell tolls. Punk turns right into a choke slam, and Kane gets a measure of revenge with the victory. The fans react as the Deadman come out on stage with one final tribute to Paul Bearer that is joined in by Kane as well. The now recovered Punk nails Kane with multiple shots from the urn, then bugs out before 'Taker can come to the rescue. The brothers are none too happy as we fade out on this extra-sized episode. See you in seven!

Nick Tylwalk almost missed the fact that the WWE made it through this entire show without an appearance from John Cena or The Rock. Almost. Chide Nick for his poor powers of observation by following him on Twitter or on Google+, or by shooting him an email.