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Raw: Signing contracts and driving big rigs in Memphis
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


Impossible as it may seem, another WWE pay-per-view is almost upon us. With Hell in a Cell looming as ominously as ever, tonight's episode should serve to get the final pieces into position. Let's find out if that is indeed the case as we tune in live on USA.

Memphis is the scene for tonight's edition of Raw, which begins with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon coming out and sharing a hug on stage. A brief video highlight replays Big Show's one punch KO of Brad Maddox on Smackdown, and we learn that the GM is not here tonight as a result. Steph mentions that this coming Sunday is Hell in a Cell, which is the company's most grueling pay-per-view. She runs down the matches, which will culminate with the Daniel Bryan-Randy Orton rematch for the vacant WWE Championship - and special referee Shawn Michaels has guaranteed there will be a winner. The Game says he respects Michaels, but Big Show appears on screen to launch an angry rant against the COO. As the big man is berated by HHH, Show wants to know why he's so hostile, and he exchanges verbal jabs with Stephanie as well. But it appears the tech guys have found a way to cut Show's satellite feed, and he's silenced for now. Triple h calls for Dean Ambrose to come out, but he gets Daniel Bryan instead.

Match 1 - Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose

The announcers get into their usual banter over whether The Authority (Triple H and Stephanie, not the super hero team) deserved to be interrupted by Bryan. Ambrose is looking pretty good as we break for commercials. Can Bryan battle his way back? Dos Triple H have a big nose? Ambrose is forced to use some thumbs to the eyes to escape an inverted surfboard, and he's able to hit a superplex that earns him a near fall. Bryan responds shortly thereafter with his first big flurry of offense, but he's tossed out of a DDT attempt and has to kick out following a spinebuster. Bryan flies to the outside and follows with a huge missile dropkick back inside the ring. Ambrose tries for a last ditch move that gets countered into the Yes Lock, and Dean is forced to tap out.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome CM Punk (who appears to be rocking a hoodie with no tee on underneath)! He's looking forward to getting his hands on Paul Heyman inside Hell in a Cell, even going so far as to say it will help decide his legacy. His plan is to put Ryback to sleep before watching Heyman writhe like a worm on a fishing hook. Then he's going to smash Paul's face into every inch of the steel. Three men will enter the cell, but Punk says he'll be the only one to walk out under his own power.

Triple H tells Vickie Guerrero not to screw something up as Stephanie frantically calls for more security to help ensure Big Show doesn't crash the show. Michaels arrives and gives his old friend a hug. While they have a brief disagreement over whether Bryan can be the face of the WWE, Michaels mentions to Steph that when DX tweaked the powers that back in the day, it was hilarious. She says this is different and that things have changed in the WWE. HBK has definitely noticed, and he thinks it's a shame. But he hasn't had to grow up, so he heads off to have some fun.

Match 2 - Santino Marella vs. Heath Slater

Santino and Great Khali are both dressed like Elvis, and as we learn a few minutes on, so is the Cobra. And the Elvis Cobra helps Marella get the pin too. Santino says there's only one king from Memphis, and it's Jerry Lawler. Ever the good sport, Lawler shares a dance with Santino, Khali, and Hornswoggle.

Match 3 - Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton

Ziggler takes the worst of a clash on the outside, though he manages to escape being DDTed on the floor. Randy works over Dolph's left arm until the Show Off rallies and beats the Viper all the way into the corner. Orton regains control by slowing the pace, but Ziggler gets a two count with a neck breaker and an elbow drop. He also hits the FameAsser, but that's not quite enough to keep Orton down for three. A big release suplex dumps Ziggler on his shoulder, leaving him helpless against the DDT off the ropes. Randy's decision to mock the Memphis fans almost backfires when he eats a dropkick, though he manages to shrug it off and use an RKO to earn the pinfall.

Aww, John Cena kept a video diary of his rehab from his triceps injury. And now we get to see it.

Match 4 - AJ Lee and Tamina Snuka vs. The Bella Twins

What is up with Tamina's jacket? It's like she raided her brother's old Deuce wardrobe. She beats up on both Bellas as AJ flashes an evil grin from the apron. AJ finally tags in and does some damage to Nikki before missing a corner move, and Brie manages to smash Tamina with a running knee and pin AJ for the second straight match.

We flash back to Smackdown again to see Big E Langston help Punk fend off Ryback and Curtis Axel. Heyman gets to talk about the upcoming match and is pretty funny with his super-caffeinated promo. Dude, you're going to burst a blood vessel! Something about molten lava. But Heyman calms down at the end to claim Punk will never get past Ryback. Langston barges in and gets lectured on his manners again. Looks like we're getting a match between Langston and Axel.

Match 5 - The Miz and Kofi Kingston vs. The Wyatt Family (Erick Rowan and Luke Harper)

Miz is very nearly pinned by Harper, but his desperation pays off with a diving hot tag to Kingston. Kofi flies multiple times until a high cross body that forces a save from Rowan. Trouble in Paradise knocks Rowan off the apron, but Kofi turns right around into a huge spinning clothesline, and he's not getting up from that. Miz tries rescuing Kofi from some post-match punishment, except that ends with him tangled in the ropes and forced to listen to one of Bray Wyatt's rants. #FollowTheBuzzards

Match 6 - Cutis Axel vs. Big E Langston

I missed the part where Big E became a face. Must not have received the memo. Big E tries rushing Axel before the bell, but that gets Ryback involved as well. Not good. Heyman tries getting in on this with a kendo stick, but Punk is out to lend a hand to Langston. Vickie comes out and screeches that we're restarting this as a tag team match. Let's try this again...

Match 6 - Curtis Axel and Ryback vs. CM Punk and Big E Langston

Punk is going all out for Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the pink trunks. They don't prevent him from getting stomped on by Ryback before he passes the baton to Axel to do more of the same. CM manages a roll-up on Ryback but still really needs to tag out. Big E eventually receives that tag and shows off his explosiveness, pinning Axel with the Big Ending. Punk chases Heyman after the bell, but the Paulrus escapes into the crowd.

R-Truth pushes some WWE merchandise. What's up... with this segment?

Match 7 - Tons of Funk vs. The Real Americans

They interviewed El Torito earlier today! Michael Cole gives Zeb Colter crap about getting gored by the little bull last week, which he richly deserved. Colter sticks to his story about Los Matadores kidnapping El Torito and says he has Stockholm syndrome. Meanwhile, there's a Cesaro Swing and an ankle lock, and Colter reveals he's going to emulate Indiana Jones by carrying around a whip. Oh, I get it. It's a bullwhip.

Match 8 - The Shield (Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins) vs. The Usos - Tag Team Number One Contenders Match

Cody Rhodes and Goldust join the commentators, where they're immediately ridiculed by JBL. It's a bit much tonight. There's time enough for a commercial break, but it doesn't keep the announcers on task. the Usos finally get some serious momentum going, but Reigns ends that by running over one of the brothers and foreign a save from the other. Both legal men are down, but Reigns runs into the post and eats a superkick. Roman gets his knees up, the Rhodes brothers get sucked into the fray, and the ref calls for the bell. It's chaos at ringside, and the mayhem spills back into the ring. The champs and the Usos stand united as The Shield limps back off into the stands.

The Authority is in the ring, awaiting Bryan, Orton, and even Michaels as they arrive for the contract signing. Orton gives Bryan a backhanded compliment, admiring the way he's continually gotten back up from the beatings he's received - but not this Sunday. Randy goes on to say he's survived The a Undertaker and beaten Sheamus and Cena inside the cell, whereas Bryan's first trip inside will also be his last. Bryan laughs as Orton signs on the dotted line, saying he expects threats like that from Randy. After all, if it wasn't for The Shield and The Authority, Bryan figures he'd already be champ. He also thanks Orton for exposing himself as a corporate patsy and Trips and Steph as spoiled brats. The Game retorts that he's seen talented, popular guys come and go all the time, popular guys who just weren't "The One." And if they had been installed as the face of the WWE back in the day, they'd all be working for Ted Turner right now. Bryan challenges Triple H to trade his suit for wrestling trunks so he can prove how good he really is, yet the COO just scoffs and says he wouldn't waste his time fighting Bryan. Hunter overreaches by saying Michaels wasted his time training Bryan, which gets Shawn to shut him down. Michaels wants to know what happened to the guy who drove the tank into WCW and played strip poker on live TV. HBK says he only wants to do what's right by the fans, despite Orton's protest that he has an agenda.While more words are being exchanged, cameras catch a big rig on its way into the FedEx Forum. And yes, it's Big Show at the wheel! Enjoy the pay-per-view everyone, and we'll see you back here in seven.

Nick Tylwalk is excited for the release of WWE 2K14 since he hasn't owned any new wrestling video games for a minute now. Tell him which past WWE game was your favorite (he'll even accept answers other than WrestleMania 2000 and No Mercy) by following his Twitter feed @nick_tylwalk, or dropping him a line at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com, or givng him a shout on Google+.