Raw: Bryan and Orton face off one last time before Battleground
NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling
Battleground doesn't sound like a pay-per-view name that's built to last. And maybe it won't, but it's still only six days away as Raw rolls into Biloxi, Mississippi. Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton are slated to face off, though not wrestle, so let's see how that plays out as we go live on USA.
If "Cult of Personality" is playing, that must mean CM Punk is going to be the first person out on Raw tonight. You may recall that Ryback and Curtis Axel smacked him around last week at the behest of Paul Heyman. Punk says that even though the show thrives on predictability, sometimes it's okay. For example, he's alright with what went down last Monday, because he knows the story will end with him getting his hands on Heyman and his thugs. It could be next Sunday, next week on Raw, or live tonight on USA! Punk says he feels like staying in the ring until he gets a fight, but Brad Maddox arrives to tell him to take it easy. An ultimate showdown right now isn't what's best for business, bit before the GM can suggest something that is, Big E Langston decides to join them in the ring. Big E tells Punk that if he wants an outlet for his aggression, he's found his guy. A scrap quickly ensues as Maddox looks for an official.
Match 1 - CM Punk vs. Big E Langston
Langston takes control once the actual match is underway, earning multiple near falls. That doesn't win you anything though, and Punk is able to weather the storm. A flurry of kicks and a swinging neck breaker have Big E in trouble, and Punk lands the big elbow off the top turnbuckle. Langston is hoisted up for the Go To Sleep, and that's the end of this one. The announcers suggest that it's proof that Punk will be able to get Ryback up for the same move on Sunday. That's called logic, but it doesn't always apply to wrestling.
Match 2 - Fandango vs. Kofi Kingston
JBL says Fandango is like Usher crossed with Randy Couture. Um, okay. Summer Rae looks somewhat concerned following a counter DDT by Kofi, and that ends up justified when Trouble in Paradise puts Fandango away. After the bell, the lights go low and the Wyatt Family makes an appearance. Bray Wyatt rants about a nightmare he can't wake from, saying that one by one, they will all fall down. Follow the buzzards.
Randy Orton wants to know when Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan are getting married. If the big day is after this Sunday, The Viper says Bryan may not make it down the aisle... because he won't be able to walk. Elsewhere, Heyman tells Renee Young that Punk will never get his hands on him again. Asked about another trap for Punk, Heyman says his whole existence is a trap for Punk. #Meta
Match 3 - Los Matadores vs. 3MB (Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal)
Wow, this ring entrance. They have a short dude in a bull costume and everything. They also have a cool double team finisher that puts Slater away. And the bull is in there celebrating the win with them. I don't make this stuff up. Ole!
Stephanie McMahon and Triple H come out hand in hand and make their way to the ring. The Game invites the Rhodes family to join them, saying he guarantees their safety just as he would for any WWE Superstar. Dusty, Cody and Dustin all accept the invitation, though with wary looks on their faces. HHH asks why they look so hostile since collectively they've been given so many chances and always failed. But on to the proposition: they want to give Cody and Goldust their jobs back of they can beat Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns at Battleground this Sunday. Ah, but if they lose, they are out of the company for good - and so is Dusty. The Rhodes patriarch says they accept if he can be in their corner. Sounds like it's on. As the Rhodes family turns to leave, The Shield attacks. Goldust takes a spear and Cody receives the triple power bomb before The Shield members pose over an unconscious American Dream.
Match 4 - R-Truth vs. Curtis Axel
Hey, Truth still raps his own entrance. That's good to know. He gets off to a fast start against the Intercontinental Champ, scoring a two count with a jawbreaker. Axel holds onto the ropes to catch his breath just as Punk's music hits. Oh that's just a distraction, and Truth takes advantage by nailing an unsuspecting Axel with his finisher and pinning him. Heyman knows they've been had, flashing a sarcastic smirk.
A short video montage gives us a peek into the relationship between newly engaged Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan.
Match 5 - Alicia Fox vs. Brie Bella
Fox boots Brie out to the floor as JBL gives Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler crap about not calling the match. Pot, meet kettle. Bella is still in trouble back in the ring, needing the fans to inspire her to rally. A slap and a facebuster end up being enough to pin Fox.
Heyman tells Axel to stop fretting. Ryback has a different idea, which is just to give Punk what he wants. Paul sends his new protector for a snack and tells Axel he's going to go out to the ring and propose to Ryback. Wait, what?
Big Show gets his backstage interview, which unfortunately includes him having to relive his humiliation at Triple H's hands last week on SmackDown. He says his financial situation is being held over his head, and he is feeling the pressure of having to do wrong to support his family. Show says there's only so much he can take. He's not going to take it any more, vowing to show Triple H exactly how he feels by knocking him out.
Truth makes his case to Maddox for a title shot, but he gets put of dodge when Show storms in looking for The Game. Oh man, the big guy is angry now.
Match 6 - Zack Ryder vs. Alberto Del Rio
I feel bad for Ryder. He had a gimmick that got him over, and now he's just a guy. He actually connects on a Broski Boot, but Del Rio kicks out at two. The cross armbreaker makes an appearance shortly thereafter, and Ryder taps out. Poor Zack.
Heyman and Ryback stand in the ring to watch the footage (again!) from their tussle with Punk last week. The Paulrus gives Ryback props for standing up to Punk's bullying, and we all know Ryback can't stand a bully. Calling Heyman a genius, he says there's nothing he wouldn't do for Paul. This is going somewhere weird. He wants to commit to Ryback permanently, getting down on one knee and asking Ryback if he will become a Paul Heyman guy. That tender moment is interrupted by Punk's music, and CM tries coming through the crowd. Did he hurt himself on his way in? Punk makes it seem like his right knee is injured, but he's just playing possum. He has a kendo stick at the ready, using it on the arriving Axel as Heyman and Ryback flee. Axel eats a GTS, and all Heyman can do is lick his wounds on the stage.
Match 7 - Dolph Ziggler and The Usos vs. The Shield
Anyone wan to wager on a mid-match commercial break? The Usos fly out to the floor and send us to a break as expected. Jimmy Uso is the one in distress when we return, but he's able to make the hot tag to Ziggler. Dolph's success is cut short by a smart counter by Seth Rollins, and all heck breaks loose shortly after that. Ziggler hits a Zig Zag on Rollins, but Roman Reigns is the legal man, and his big spear is enough to pin Dolph.
The police show up to speak to Show, who has been waiting in Triple H's office. Stephanie shows up to vouch for him, revealing that she spoke to his wife earlier and she said he hadn't been measuring up to her expectations. Get it? Show looks like he's going to cry, but he takes his frustration out on a Triple H poster - and the wall behind it.
Renee Young is backstage with Rob Van Dam, who shows a YouTube clip of his top 10 moments in matches with hardcore rules. Pretty impressive, huh? Del Rio has no clue what hardcore rules means, but he'll find out Sunday.
Match 8 - Antonio Cesaro vs. Santino Marella
Cesaro stomps on Marella for a quick two, but Santino avoids getting taken for a Giant Swing. The Cobra comes out, and Marella ends up taking the swing after all. Surprisingly, Santino is able to counter and pin Cesaro, much to Zeb Colter's chagrin.
Lawler calls Bryan and Orton to the ring, where Randy says that while he was initially upset that Triple H held the title in abeyance, he ended up being motivated to get back to being the Apex Predator. Orton boasts that he'll win because he's genetically superior to a weak, pathetic, goat-faced troll. Bryan retorts that he has never needed anyone motivating him to reach his full potential. Orton wonders why Brie would settle for Bryan, for a barnyard animal over a virile champion. That's as much as Bryan will take, and he assaults Orton. The brawl goes to the floor, where Bryan gets bounced off the ring post multiple times. Orton drops Bryan on the barricade and smashes him with right hands to the face. He's about to DDT Daniel off the apron when Brie runs down, though that only gets her a closer look. Orton chases Bella away before clearing off the announce table. Brie pleads with him to stop, but her man still takes an RKO through the table. Nothing but carnage is left in Orton's wake as Raw comes to a close. Enjoy the pay-per-view, and see you in seven!
Nick Tylwalk thinks the WWE should put out a DVD of all of the pay-per-views that only lasted for a year or two. Invasion! December to Dismember! Bad Blood! Okay, maybe not Bad blood. Tell him how much you'd pay for such an epic collection by reaching out to him on Twitter at @nick_tylwalk, on Google+ or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.