Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler welcome us to the show, and the WWE Champion CM Punk's music plays and he comes out to a great pop. The crowd chants Punk's name as he takes a seat in the middle of the ring. He says there's a huge WWE Championship match this Sunday at the Royal Rumble, and it will be him, the best wrestler in the world, defending against...Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler gets booed heavily at the mention of his name. Punk says everyone of Ziggler's victories in the past month were gifts from John Laurinaitis, who is the referee of the title match this Sunday. Punk describes Johnny Ace in one word: Failure. He says these are all facts, on Wikipedia actually, and Ace was a failure as a wrestler, in management, and he just sucks. He says for the first time in his life, Johnny Ace told the truth last week. We then go to a video package of Ace admitting he was going to screw Punk last week and hitting Foley upside the head with a microphone.
Punk says it's safe to say that Ace isn't going to be unbiased, and he's pretty well, "screwed." He says unfortunately for Ace he knows better. He says there's a course of action that he could take, and he knows it's hard to ref a match with two broken arms. He says this is a personal invitation to come out here right now to Ace. He says he wants Laurinaitis to say what he said last week to his face. After a little while, no one comes out. Punk says he gave him his chance, now he's going to find Ace. Before Punk can get out of the ring, John Cena's music hits, and he gets booed heavily as he comes out. Cena is still being booed pretty bad as he's in the ring with Punk. Punk says he can see how he could be confused. He was talking about a company man named John, but now Cena. Cena says he was tired of listening to Punk ramble, and he's here for business. Cena says tonight, Laurinaitis will give Zack Ryder a rematch for his United States Championship right now, and he's also going to give Cena a match with Kane tonight. He says Mr. Laurinaitis will also appear right now, and resign as the Interim General Manager of Raw. A "You Can't Wrestle" chant was faintly heard. Punk says the people definitely want that to happen, and before Punk can say anything else, Laurinaitis comes out.
Ace says his resume, and Punk keeps saying, "huh?" He says everyone wishes they could take back something they said, but last week was not one of those days, and he won't be intimidated by either of them. Punk says he can't hear a word Laurinaitis is saying, so he should come down to the ring, so he can hear him better. Ace says he's the boss, and he won't listen to him. Ace says he made a mistake last week with Ryder, and Ryder will face Kane tonight in a Falls Count Anywhere match since he's cleared to compete. If Cena gets involved, Ryder will never get a rematch for the title. He says he's ordering Punk and Cena in a tag team match right now against two opponents that Laurinaitis have found. Vickie says, "Excuse Me," and gets a chorus of boos. She comes out with Dolph Ziggler and the United States Champion, Jack Swagger. Ziggler says Punk shouldn't be worried about John Laurinaitis, he should be worried about him because Laurinaitis doesn't need to screw Punk because this Sunday, Ziggler will flat-out beat Punk. Swagger then says that Cena is dead meat for what he did to him last week. Ziggler's music plays as they make their way down the ramp for this match. John Laurinaitis is in tow behind them.
CM Punk and John Cena vs Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger (with Vickie Guerrero)
Ziggler and Cena start this off, and Cena quickly takes him down. Cena stays in control with a bulldog and gets a two count. Punk gets the tag and he Snapmares Ziggler over and hits a stiff kick for a two count. Punk tries for a Suplex, but Ziggler reverses, only to get caught in a Fireman's Carry, sensing the GTS was near, Ziggler rolled out of the ring. We take our first commercial break.
We're back and Cena gets a two count on Ziggler as Laurinaitis is texting at ringside. Cena and Punk are locked up, and Ziggler takes control with some strikes. Ziggler stops to show off in the middle of a rope-running sequence. He then tags in Swagger, who gets caught with a Fisherman Suplex, then shows off on his own before taking out Ziggler. Swagger catches him with a Clothesline, then starts working over him in the corner, allowing Ziggler to get in a couple of cheap shots. Swagger gets a two count after one of the aforementioned shots. Swagger then locks a hold, stretching out Cena on the ground. Cena fights out, but Swagger switches to a Front Facelock. This hold lasts a few seconds, and Cena inches his way to Pun before flipping Swagger with a Northern Lights Suplex. Ziggler gets the tag first and takes out Cena with a picture perfect Dropkick. Ziggler hits not 7, not 8, not 9...well you get the drift, but he hits a multitude of Elbow Drops, then does some crunches before getting a two count. Ziggler stays in control as Swagger takes a cheap shot from the apron. Swagger then gets the tag and hits the Swagger Bomb in the corner for a two count. Swagger then locks on a bearhug, continuing to wear down Cena, but Cena literally hits the Attitude Adjustment out of nowhere. Both men are down, and Ziggler gets the tag right before Punk, who hits a Springboard Forearm, then a Swinging Neckbreaker, followed by his knee, bulldog combination. Punk goes for the GTS, but Ziggler reverses, only to be caught with a Roundhouse Kick. Swagger breaks up the pin, but Cena attacks out. Outside the ring, Swagger goes for the ankle lock, but Cena reverses it in the STF. Punk climbs up to the top rope, but Laurinaitis gets on the apron and distracts him. Ziggler is able to roll up Punk for the win.
Winners: Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger
Punk stares a hole in Laurinaitis after the match, and he gets a microphone. He says this doesn't change a thing. He says Sunday, Laurinaitis plans on screwing him, but that's fine because one day, Punk plans on beating the hell out of him. He says he wants Laurinaitis to be something he's never been in his life just for one night. He wants him to be a WWE Superstar for just one night, not the EVP, or GM. He says he'll make him famous because tonight, he thinks it should be CM Punk vs John Laurinaitis tonight, unless Laurinaitis is "afraid." Laurinaitis says he accepts and walks back to the back, leaving both him and Punk smiling. The announcers put this match over very nicely.
Up next, the Highlight Reel makes a return with host, Chris Jericho.
Back from the break, the Raw Rebound shows Jericho trolling us again last week. The ring is all set up for the Highlight Reel, complete with the Jeritron. The lights go out and we see Jericho's jacket, like we have for the past few weeks. I wonder if he ever turns it off. Camera shows a classic "Raw is Jericho" sign. Nicely made. Jericho picks up a mic and stands in the middle of the ring. He tells everyone to be quiet, and puts the microphone to his mouth, but then he tells them to be quiet again. This repeats, but then he gets a looks on his face like he just had an idea. He runs out and up the ramp, telling everyone "one second." He brings out a t-shirt launcher, and gets back into the ring. Jericho teases a lot of the fans with the shirt launcher, Michael Cole included, but then he puts it down and takes the camera from the camera man in the ring. He films the crowd, and Cole looking like an idiot before giving it back to the camera man and picking up a mic. He then tells the crowd to be quiet again, and he then points to the Jeritron, which shows a highlight video of his whole career career, including his debut, winning the Undisputed Championship, among many other things, even the stuff from the past vfew weeks. This lasts just a few seconds though, and Jericho once again tells everyone to be quiet, but his demeanor seems to have changed. He puts the microphone up to his mouth and says that this Sunday at the Royal Rumble, it will be the end of the world as we know it. The second he uttered a word, the crowd went crazy. The lights then go out, and his jacket lights up as we go to commercial.
Back from the break, the WWE Rewind shows the match where Ryder defeated Ziggler last September due to interference from Hugh Jackman. Should be noted that this rewind is brought to you by Real Steel.
Back to the show, they plug the Falls Count Anywhere match, which is next. Also tonight, R-Truth faces The Miz. They also plug the Royal Rumble PPV this weekend, and this leads us into a video package about the Royal Rumble Match. It's one of the "By the Numbers," that they usually do every year. I always liked these. They're still managing to do the bit where they say two Rumble winners have come in the number one spot without mentioning Chris Benoit. Also worth noting that the theme song for the Rumble is "Dark Horses" by Switchfoot, great song, really fits.
Backstage, Zack Ryder is talking with Eve, and Mick Foley walks up and tells Zack that Kane's an animal, but deep down, he's just a human being. Foley says he is serious bro, and he walks away. Eve says he doesn't have to do this, but Zack says he has no choice. Cena then walks up, and says he's got him tonight, but Ryder tells him to stay out of it. Ryder's music hits and he gets a pretty good pop that dies down really quickly though. Ryder's torso is heavily taped from the Chokeslam a few weeks ago by his opponent tonight. Kane's pyro hits, and the lights go out. His music then plays and Kane appears on the stage. He's still wearing that horrendous metal mask for his entrance. It's worth noting that this is Kane's first match since his return.
Falls Count Anywhere: Zack Ryder vs Kane
They match starts with Ryder taking it to Kane, but Kane slams him face first, and quickly starts working over Ryder's ribs. Ryder guillotines him over the top rope, but Kane boots him off the apron, onto the announce table, and then hits him with some more kicks outside the ring. Kane's attack is focusing on the ribs on Ryder. Kane then slams Ryder's back into the ring post twice before slamming him down. Kane launches Ryder into the steel steps now, then just stomps on the helpless Ryder. Eve makes her way out to ringside now, but she keeps her distance. She yells at Kane as he slams Ryder's back into the announce table. We go to commercial.
We come back to Kane slamming Ryder into the ringside barrier. I think it woke up a few of the fans. Kane is just killing Ryder here. During the break, a Throat Thrust sent Ryder off the turnbuckle and onto the floor. Kane then slams Ryder face first into the steps, which according to Cole is targeting the injured ribs. Kane gets a two count. Eve is looking on in fear, but she makes sure to keep her distance. Kane then starts smothering Ryder, but releases before he gets knocked out. Kane now throws Ryder over the barricade and into the crowd to fans that are sitting down, not on their feet. The crowd stirs and gets into it as Kane slams Ryder into some equipment by what looks like a production table between sets of the crowd. They continue making their way through the crowd, but Ryder fights back by blasting Kane with what looked like a briefcase. Kane takes him back down, and removes the tap on Ryder's ribs. Kane then throws Ryder onto the entrance ramp, and they're now at the stage. Kane hits a brutal kick to Ryder's ribs, then slams him into the WWE thing up on the stage, breaking parts of the bottomg of it. Kane continues working on the ribs of Ryder, but once again only gets a two count. Cole's commentary is even getting serious here. They're treating this like a really serious situation, pretty good commentary actually. The crowd starts chanting for Ryder, but he seems completely out of it. Kane now goes for a Chokeslam on the stage, and Ryder goes right through the stage! Eve runs to check on him, but it's no use. Kane then turns his attention to Eve, and stalks her down the ramp. John Cena then appears at the top of the ramp, and this diverts Kane from Eve. Kane goes through the crowd and Cena and Eve both check on Ryder, who is at the bottom of the stage. Greatness. They probably shouldn't have had a shot of Ryder because we really see it was a two foot drop now. Nonetheless, Eve is crying, and John looks close to tears. Ryder gets loaded up on a stretcher. Commercial time.
Winner: No Contest
We come back to a video package of Daniel Bryan winning the World Title and then defying the odds week after week. I still get goosebumps when he yells that he's the World Heavyweight Champion the day after TLC. It ends after it says Daniel Bryan will defend his title in a Steel Cage match against Mark Henry and Big Show at the Royal Rumble.
Back to Raw, Ryder is finally out of the stage and is loaded on a stretcher. Announcers are in a very somber mood. We follow the stretcher backstage for some reason. I think I'd rather watch paint dry. The ambulance is in view, but yet so far. Okay, finally to the ambulance (it was like 10 seconds), Ryder is loaded up, and Cena says he'll take care of it. Eve is freaking out, and says it's all Cena's fault. She says she's going with him, and gets in the ambulance. It drives off, and Cena looks on, frustrated and sad. Josh Matthews comes in and says Cena has to feel just awful about this. Cena makes his unhappy face and hits Josh's microphone out of his hand, then gives the camera the stank-eye, complete with violent head-shaking. We go back to commercial after a very awkward few seconds.
Jinder Mahal vs Sheamus
They lock up, and Sheamus quickly backs him in the corner, but Mahal turns the tables and hits some knees. Sheamus fights back with some clubs, and hits a Scoop Slam, but Wade Barrett, comes down to the ring in street clothes, catching the eye of Sheamus. Sheamus hits his trademark repeated Forearm Clubs to Mahal on the apron. Sheamus then goes up top, but Mahal catches him and throws him off. Mahal gets a two count after a running high knee. Mahal stays in control with a Quarter Nelson with a Facelock. Wade Barrett joined commentary a little while ago, and he's real good at it. Sheamus fights back to his feet, and out of the hold. Sheamus with some running Forearm Strikes, then a High-Impact Rolling Fireman's Carry Slam. Nice move. Sheamus goes for the Celtic Cross, but Mahal fights out, only for Sheamus to catch him with the Brogue Kick for the win.
Sheamus goads Wade Barrett to getting in the ring, and Wade teases Sheamus and the crowd before walking back up the ramp. Sheamus gets a mic and says he wants him to take a good look at this picture because he will be the last one standing this Sunday at the Rumble.
We go backstage to the interview area with Josh Matthews and his guest, The Miz. The Miz says that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Everyone that has teamed with Miz has seen their careers disintegrate after they turned on him. R-Truth then shows up wearing a doctor's coat and glasses. He says according to his studies, Miz is number one, and goes on to name some unflattering things Miz is, then finishes by saying Miz is WWE's number one jackass. They then start yelling at each other, and John Laurinaitis interrupts them. He says he can't concentrate for his match tonight because of them. He says whoever loses in Miz/Truth's match tonight is the number one entrant in the Rumble match. Truth quacks as the announcers plug CM Punk vs John Laurinaitis (no typo) tonight later tonight.
Up next, the Funkasaurus is "in da house."
Hey! William Regal joins Cole and King on commentary! We then go to a replay of Regal dancing last Friday, and then being squashed by Brodus Clay. Regal's commentary is great, and so is Brodus's acting on Smackdown. Brodus Clay then makes his way to the ring. The crowd really loves him, no sarcasm there, this dude is over. Brodus does his Michael Jackson impersonation before he gets into the ring. Heath Slater is his opponent tonight
Brodus Clay (with The Funkettes (Cameron and Naomi)) vs Heath Slater
Brodus jiggles, then takes down Slater with a Shoulder Block. Clay gets caught with a Dropkick, but Slater gets caught celebrating, and Clay hits an Exploder Suplex, followed by a Corner Splash, then a Running Crossbody for the three count.
Winner: Brodus Clay
We go to commercial after a plug for Punk vs Ace.
We come back and Justin Roberts runs by the stipulation that the loser becomes entrant number one in the Rumble this Sunday. Miz is out first, and we replay how he took out Truth a couple of months ago, ruining my favorite tag team in a few years. R-Truth comes out, and man this crowd is dead. Truth is wearing a Little Jimmy shirt.
The Miz vs R-Truth
They lock up, and it's a stalemate, but Miz is finally able to take control with some strikes. Truth takes control back though, only for Miz to roll out of the ring. Truth follows and Clotheslines him before rolling him back into the ring. Miz catches him coming in and takes back control. Miz with a double leg takedown to regain control once more, but Miz quickly takes it back and drapes Miz onto the apron. He hits a Spear, forcing Truth to take a brutal looking bump. We go to commercial.
Back from the break, Miz is in control with an Abdominal Stretch. Truth starts fighting out, and is able to get out of the hol.d Miz runs at Truth in the corner, but Truth hits what looked to be a low blow, but Miz doesn't sell it. Truth then hits a really nice roll up for a two count. Truth with a Sit-out Suplex Slam for a two count. Truth goes for the Axe Kick, but Miz reverses and hits the Reality Check for a two count. Truth goes for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Truth reverses and goes for the Lil' Jimmy, but Miz reverses and hits a DDT for a two count. Truth fights back and hits the Lil Jimmy for the win.
The win seemed almost premature because of how quiet the crowd was, but that was very good match and finish.
Jerry Lawler says he has news on Ryder's condition, and it's the worst that they feared. Zack Ryder has suffered a broken back. We replay the footage, and it's a very somber mood at the commentary table.
Backstage, we see Laurinaitis wearing something ridiculous, and Otunga gives him something that he says is extremely important. Laurinaitis looks mad as he was ready to go against Punk. We don't find out what the paper said before the break.
We are back to Raw, and they put over the Royal Rumble card for this weekend. CM Punk then comes out for the main event of the night, though something tells me this won't end up happening. At least that's what a little birdie said to me. John Laurinaitis doesn't come out after his name is repeated a few times. Johnny finall comes out wearing a sleveless Future Endeavored shirt. Cole keeps saying the Laurinaitis won a World Title for AJPW, which is completely false. He was a three time tag champ there. Cole also mistakenly says "Stan Henson," instead of Hansen. Laurinaitis says he has some unfortunate news from the board of directors. Otunga reads the paper, which says that the board is concerned about the way Laurinaitis has ran Raw, and that he said he would intentionally abuse his authority at the Royal Rumble. Therefore, the board has decided that his GM status will be under review. Next week on Raw, he will receive a formal job evaluation to see if he will continue as GM, or terminated. His job evaluation will be conducted by Triple H, the COO. Laurinaitis starts to talk, but CM Punk takes his shirt off and says what this means is that if he intentionally screws him at the Rumble, he's out of a job, and clearly now there's nothing stopping Punk from knocking his teeth out his face before Triple H shows him the door.
Laurinaitis says that the Board is right, and he would like to apologize to the fans and Punk for any wrong-doing he's done. Laurinaitis also says Mick Foley is now in the Royal Rumble match, and that he was always going to call his title match right down the middle, and he only said that last week because he was mad. CM Punk says Ace is like the spoiled little girl who gets worried at Christmas time. He says if Triple H has ever inherited one thing from his father in law, it's the ability to say, "YOU'RE FIRED!" Ace says he took over TR when it was in the dark ages because of JR, and turned it into an entity. Ace says this match cannot happen now, but Otunga will be his substitute, and Otunga takes out Punk, but this match has never officially started. Otunga strikes Punk in the corner, but Punk takes him down with a tackle, and locks on the Anaconda Vice. Otunga quickly taps out, but this was never a match. Punk then turns his attention to Laurinaitis, Mule kicks Otunga, then hits a head kick. Laurinaitis stepped toward Punk, but then back again. They exchange words, and Laurinaitis offers his hand to Punk. Punk is fuming and shakes his hand, but Punk then picks him up and hits the GTS on Laurinaitis and starts going crazy. This crowd is finally woken up, and they're going nuts. Ziggler then comes out of nowhere from behind and hits the Zig Zag! Raw ends with Ziggler standing tall over the WWE Champion.
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