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   October 31, 2014



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COMMENT





Raw: Trouble for Heyman guys amid turns and swerves aplenty
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


Tonight on Raw: Payback comes in many forms. Last night it came as a pay-per-view that included a homecoming for CM Punk and a brutal grudge match between John Cena and Ryback. What lies ahead for the WWE's biggest superstars? We'll find out as Raw goes live on USA from the home of the Griffins, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Did Alberto Del Rio just turn heel on Sunday by taking advantage of Dolph Ziggler's concussion and focusing on attacking his head? It's quite possible, especially since the new World Heavyweight Champion opens tonight by comparing himself to Superman. He also brushes off any controversy by reminding everyone that they cheered for Ziggler for doing the same thing when he was hurt. Turnabout is fair play and all that. The fans give him a “We want Ziggler” chant in response. Despite not getting the respect he feels he deserves, Del Rio is willing to give everyone a second chance. But we never get a chance to see if anyone takes him up on it, as CM Punk and Paul Heyman come out to a big reaction from the crowd. Punk reminds Del Rio that last time they were in the ring together, he won the title and started his lengthy reign. Yet what really is on Punk's mind is the fact that Alberto referred to himself as the best, and there can only be one best. He doesn't care about a title shot, just the chance to take on Del Rio tonight. The champ isn't interested, but Vickie Guerrero is, and her opinion holds more weight. Looks like we've got ourselves a main event.

Uh-oh, could be trouble between Punk and Heyman. Mentioning that Paul almost cost him the match at Payback, CM tells his friend that he isn't welcome ringside during his matches any more. Hmm...

Match 1 – Wade Barrett vs. Christian

After nearly a year on the shelf, Christian is back. He flies off the top rope to the floor early, showing no ill effects from his shoulder injury. And after some near falls both ways, Christian wins his return match with the Killswitch.

Vickie is going to allow the WWE Universe to vote on the stipulation in the Daniel Bryan-Randy Orton match later tonight... but only if you have the app. We also see another creepy video for the Wyatt Family.

Match 2 – Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes vs. Sheamus

JBL doesn't like any of these matches tonight. He thinks it's unfair for Sheamus to be in a handicap match. Somehow I think he'll be alright. Or maybe not, because just as Sheamus has Rhodes in his sights for a Brogue Kick, Sandow is able to sneak in and steal the win with a quick roll-up. Rhodes still gets a Brogue Kick after the bell. That's what we call a Pyrrhic victory.

Triple H agrees that it was clever thinking of Vickie to make tonight's main event, but he wants to know what she was going to do if Punk hadn't wandered out to challenge Del Rio. The Game also lets it be known that Guerrero and Brad Maddox need to be strong and make an example of The Shield if the renegade stable tries to run over the show tonight. In the locker room, Kane wants a word with Bryan. The problem is that Daniel still feels like he needs to prove that Team DB is viable – and Kane thinks he's acting like a DB. As both men express a desire to go for the WWE Championship, it appears this may be the end for Team Hell No.

Match 3 – Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan

Jerry Lawler is in the ring to announce the winning stipulation. And by a wide margin, No Disqualification is the selection. The slow pace at the start plays to Orton's strengths, but he has to crawl to the ropes to escape a half-crab. Orton rakes Bryan's eyes and clotheslines him out on the floor. The bearded superstar begins a rally by flipping out of the corner, but his suicide dive between the ropes is thwarted when Orton steps to the side and ushers him into the retaining wall. Randy finds a handy kendo stick under the ring and goes to town with it. He slides Bryan back into the ring and a commercial break ensues. Orton takes total control when we return, to the point that the ringside doctors have to check on Bryan. And apparently they decide he can't continue, because Orton is named the winner.

New Divas Champion AJ Lee says she's always been the champ, she just has the belt to prove it now. Feeling pretty full of herself, she dares any woman who thinks she could possibly measure up to come out right now. It's not a wrestler but Stephanie McMahon who comes down the ramp. After a brief confrontation, Stephanie suggests that AJ start acting like a champion. Kaitlyn and the rest of the Divas come out to the stage, with McMahon warning them not to ever interrupt her again. Admitting that AJ broke her, Kaitlyn looks for some revenge, but Big E Langston acts quickly to carry the champ off to safety.

Match 4 – Dean Ambrose (champion) vs. Kane (challenger) – United States Championship Match

Didn't Kane say he wanted to go for the WWE title? Guess this is a stepping stone. Kane gets the early advantage, so Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins decide to intervene. That ends the match, and Kane goes for the triple power bomb ride.

Vickie confronts The Shield backstage, and the three members scoff at the idea that she will punish them for their actions. Vince McMahon drops by to say that he likes those guys and that he never liked “that mask-wearing freak.” Talk about getting undercut by your boss. Oh, and there's enough time for another Wyatt Family video.

Aw crap it's Zeb Colter. Because war forces some strange alliances, Colter announces that he and Jack Swagger have decided to work alongside someone with their same sense of honor: Antonio Cesaro. Wait, what?

Match 5 – Antonio Cesaro vs. William Regal

Regal still wrestles? Cool. JBL is busy comparing Cesaro to Elon Musk. I doubt Musk could pull off some of these power moves though. Colter's new pal wins with the Neutralizer before unfurling the “Don't Tread on Me” flag. Somewhat nonsensical but funny nonetheless.

John Cena comes out and addresses the typical mixed reaction from the fans. He acknowledges the ones that don't like him, but he wants to talk specifically to his supporters tonight, thanking them for sticking with him through a “lousy” 2012. Cena sounds confident as he says he's feeling as strong as he's ever felt and ready to take on any challenge put in front of him. Just as he finishes that speech, Mark Henry comes to the ring and surprisingly offers a handshake. Rumors earlier in the show were that he was retiring, and he asks Cena to stay. Henry announces his official retirement, talking about how fortunate he was to get to perform in front of fans all over the world. He tells his family he's coming home and gets a nice reaction from the fans before suddenly turning and nailing Cena with a World's Strongest Slam. He yells, “You think it's that easy? I got a lot left in the tank!” Why that dirty... he swerved us all!

Henry brags to the backstage interviewer that he had everyone fooled. The WWE title is the only thing he hasn't held, and he's challenging Cena for it right now. The reason he's carrying two boots is that he's going to leave one of them in Cena's rear end.

Match 6 – Chris Jericho vs. Heath Slater

This doesn't last long. Jericho pins Slater with a Codebreaker, and the rest of 3MB fails miserably at a post-match assault.

Matt Striker barges in on Heyman as he counsels Curtis Axel. Paul doesn't want to talk about Punk, he wants some love for the new Intercontinental Champion.

Match 7 – Curtis Axel vs. Sin Cara

An unhappy Miz is at the announce table to watch this one. He's looking for weaknesses in the IC champ, but not many are on display as he disposes of his masked opponent with a DDT. Miz gives him a mock golf/tennis clap for his win.

Vince, Stephanie and Triple H all have Vickie in a bad spot with their public disagreements over how the show is going. Who should she listen to? Elsewhere, Heyman approaches Punk saying he understands what happened between them earlier tonight. He wishes CM luck, but something seems off.

Main Event – Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk

Del Rio goes right at Punk in a pretty even opening sequence. Alberto gets some boos as he heads out to the floor to escape a Go To Sleep, but Punk keeps the pressure on him. A timely distraction by Ricardo Rodriguez turns the tide, and wouldn't you know it, there are more ads to squeeze in. Alberto has things well in hand, er, foot after the break, scoring several near falls. But Punk scores with a running knee and a GTS, only to see Del Rio roll out to the floor before he has a chance for a cover. Rodriguez helps Del Rio to his feet, and the bell rings while they retreat up the ramp. There's no safety to be found, though, because Ziggler assaults Del Rio from behind. As they embark on a merry chase to the back, Punk is confronted by the other “Heyman guy,” Brock Lesnar. Doing his usual silent bit, Lesnar plants Punk with an F-5, stands there and laughs while the show fades out. See you in seven!

Nick Tylwalk thinks this show had the best Mark Henry segment of all time. Granted, the bar's not very hard to clear for that honor. Reminisce with him about the World's Strongest Man or anything else WWE-related on Twitter, on Google+ or by email.