When last we left our heroes, there could only be one. One champion to rule them all and in HHH's Authority bind them... okay, maybe I'm exaggerating here, but we found out there will be an Undisputed Heavyweight Champion at TLC. With John Cena and Randy Orton on a collision course and everyone else sidetracked, what can we expect as we get ready for the Slammys in one week and a Pay-Per-View in two?
Tonight's prepackaged ad asks how far the champions will go to retain the gold. Our live look-in ad says we will do the contract signing tonight.
- The PG Era Rant for Raw, December 2, 2013.
- Live from Oklahoma City, OK. I miss Jim Ross. On the other hand, they say it's Oklahoma City, so we now have a barometer for how big a place has to be in order to be mentioned.
- Your hosts are the Usual Suspects, with JBL as Hyperverbal Kint.
- CM Punk is first out of the curtain. The announcers talk about fallout from the handicap match with the Wyatts and Shield. Punk talks about how he's been trying to figure this out all week, but he just now had an idea: it's because he criticized HHH on Raw. He didn't even think it was that big of a comment, but who is Punk to question anyone in charge? He needs it to be a coincidence, because if it isn't, he's going to have to go against the Authority, and no one wants that. I love shoot comments that aren't meant to be shoot comments. But if HHH brings Punk into it, he'd be dense. Punk is all about going against Authority, you see. If they are bringing him into this, they're “ignorant, stupid d________s”. Setting off the FCC alarm brings out Stephanie McMahon. She lays on the fake sincerity (which Punk questions), but says she's all about the free speech in the WWE. She's APPALLED that the Shield would attack over just a bad name. “What are we, in kindergarten?” Stephanie and Hunter are more mature than they used to be, but they need to admit Punk doesn't have the same values they do. Stephanie was just as mad as Punk over the Shield attack. Honest. Notwithstanding Punk's ego (Punk laughs at that), they have bigger fish to fry, like the contract signing. Stephanie, though, is a fair boss, so she's willing to hear Punk out... or, rather, she's willing to have Kane hear Punk out. See, Kane's job as Director of Operations is to handle crises. He's made a thorough investigation (somehow) and concluded it wasn't the Authority who ordered the Shield's attack. So there. Kane sounding like a lawyer is heel heat. Any questions? I mean, besides when Kane lost his integrity. Punk doesn't need patronizing, but Kane reminds Punk that the Authority is not the enemy. Punk says that, well, since Kane sold out and all, he can take the beating on Stephanie and HHH's behalf. Kane starts to take Punk up on the offer, but Stephanie holds him back. Yeah, that's going to help Kane's cause. And now, coincidentally, here comes the Shield. Punk quickly grabs a chair to hold off the dogs. Stephanie calls off the Shield before anything happens, because we're not going THERE again. RESPECT CM PUNK! This gets Stephanie a pop. But Kane says that at TLC, CM Punk will face the Shield 1-on-3. The announcers argue about conspiracies as we have our standoff.
- Still to come, contract signings! And there's a note that there will be ONE MAN who is ONE CHAMPION. Lawler: “There's been nothing like this before!” Except for 2001. And the WWE App will allow everyone to decide what moniker is being given to the winner. Meanwhile, Dolph Ziggler and Damien Sandow will face off again, with the winner getting a shot at Big E Langston.
- Next week, we're in Seattle for the SLAMMYS!
- Damien Sandow v. Dolph Ziggler. Sandow's pre-match promo is joined in progress. Langston is on commentary. This is also the rubber match, for those who care. The title match will be at TLC. Ziggler with a quick rollup for one and a dropkick for two. Ziggler with a leaping lariat off a whip sequence, but the Zig Zag is blocked and Sandow bails. Ziggler baseball slides Sandow to the floor, but gets flapjacked (sort of) into the steps. Back in, it gets two. Sandow gets aggressive and grinds Ziggler into the mat as the announcers mention SkipIt ™. Really. Sandow with kneelifts, the legsweep, and Cubito Aequet for two. Sandow with a front slam and he stomps away, but the moonsault misses. Ziggler with the high jump DDT for two. Blind charge by Sandow misses, but Ziggler connects and does ten punches in the corner into a Rude Awakening for two. Ziggler is caught trying the Rocker Dropper, but turns it into a sunset flip for two. Sandow misses something, and Ziggler with the Rocker Dropper for real, getting two. Ziggler goes up top, but Sandow trips him up and gets the full nelson slam to win and be challenger at 3:58. THAT'S IT!? *1/4 Sign of what the WWE doesn't get: garbage brawls get 12 minutes, straight-up wrestling matches get 4. Between two guys who are straight-up wrestlers. Do they just not want them to succeed?
- A look at Cena and Orton's Curricula Vitae.
- AJ Lee, Tamina, and Summer Rae v. Natalya, Brie, and Nikki. Only AJ gets an aired entrance. We note that AJ pinned Natalya, but Brie pinned AJ, in last week's elimination match. The one on Raw, not the one on Survivor Series. You'd think the PPV match would matter. Tamina and Nikki start. AJ is still skipping around the ring. Tamina slaps Nikki around, and she returns in kind. Tamina goes for a lariat, but Nikki with a crucifix for two. Nikki takes out Tamina's leg and brings in Brie. Missile dropkick by Brie and running knee, but Tamina catches her and gets Snake Eyes. Tamina stomps away and forces a cover for two. AJ is still skipping. So of course, AJ gets all the heat. Tamina chokes away on Brie and mauls her with the hair and headbutts. Summer Rae in, and she gets a leg choke with a ballet pose. And a hip check. It gets two. Tamina back in, and she gets a boot choke as AJ is still skipping. Now Summer with a leg choke, but Brie fights out of the corner only for Summer to cut off the hot tag. Summer Rae almost gets a sunset flip for two. Facejam DDT type thing gets two. Elbowdrop misses, hot tag Natlya. Everyone (but the skipping AJ) gets nailed, but a blind charge misses. Summer Rae asks for a tag from AJ, who just keeps right on skipping... over to the corner and gets the tag. Spin kick is caught, though, and Natalya tries the Sharpshooter, but Tamina saves and it's BONZO GONZO. Everyone leaves but the legal participants, and AJ walks into a small package from Natalya for the pin at 4:26. Shockingly good match. *3/4 See how much time budgeting matters in the ring? Heck, they stuck with it and it actually got Brie face heat. AJ just skips off like nothing happened, which annoys Summer Rae.
- So for those who were curious, Daniel Bryan was found in an abandoned parking lot and he is VERY angry. So tonight he'll face Erick Rowan.
- Vote for the Slammys on the WWE App next week!
- Wade “Bad News” Barrett is at ringside! I missed you, Wade. He has good news and bad news. The good news is we're live on Raw. The bad news is we're in Oklahoma, with hillbillies everywhere. They had to name the city after the state just so they could remember it. And, that's the segment.
- Backstage, Randy Orton is with a very nervous Brad Maddox. But Orton apologizes for what happened last week... but he needs a favor. Maddox has to tell the Authority to recognize Orton as the best WWE Superstar ever, the face of the company, and that he has better name recognition than anyone else. Orton says he's bigger than the WWE itself. This is the Orton I know and love.
- WWE actually plugs Steve Austin's podcast because he interviews Daniel Bryan. Speaking of...
- Daniel Bryan v. Erick Rowan. We look back at Bray Wyatt's promo about Daniel Bryan from SmackDown. Rowan misses a big right hand, but he corners Bryan. Bryan escapes and kicks away, but Rowan goes CLUBBERIN and tackles down Bryan. A headbutt hurts Bryan, but Bryan kicks away only to be knocked down again. Bryan smashes hard into Rowan and staggers him, sticking and moving before applying a sleeper. Rowan is staggered, but he throws Bryan off of his shoulders and charges right into Bryan's boot. Bryan attacks the arm and kicks away in the corner. Bryan kicks away on the arm some more, but Rowan blocks the Yes Lock and lifts up Bryan by the beard. A slam follows. No sign of Bray Wyatt at ringside, by the way. Rowan goes to lift Bryan up, but Bryan slips out the back and hits the Yes Kicks. Yes Lock try again, but Rowan makes the ropes. Bryan keeps on Rowan with punches to the gut, but a kneelift stops Bryan cold. Kneedrop by Rowan but no try for a cover. Rowan dumps Bryan out of the ring and follows, but Bryan jumps back in and dropkicks Rowan returning before adding a plancha try... that Rowan catches as he throws Bryan into the barricade and we go to break. We return with Rowan working a neck crank. Bryan fights out only to get slammed and hit with a low forearm. No cover, as Rowan hooks a reverse bearhug. Bryan elbows away to break, but runs into a clothesline. Bryan rolls out of the ring as Harper smiles at him menacingly. Rowan chucks Bryan into the steel steps. Back in, Rowan FINALLY covers, getting two. Rowan headbutts Bryan into the corner, but gets drop toeheld. Bryan begins the comeback with the corner-to-corner dropkick, but a second one runs into a back elbow. Rowan follows with a facewash (I think) as Rowan controls the pace. A second one follows, and a third, getting two. Side camel clutch is hooked by Rowan, covering Bryan's mouth, but Bryan fights out only to get thrown down. Rowan just steps on Bryan's face to wear him down. Bryan tries to fight out and gets more Yes Kicks, but runs into a fallaway slam. Avalanche by Rowan gets two. Rowan fish-hooks Bryan's nose, then switches to a chinlock. Bryan fights to his feet again, but gets nailed with a backbreaker. Big splash misses, however. Bryan low bridges Rowan and knocks Harper off the apron before landing the tope suicida. Crowd livens up, but Rowan just knocks him down. Bryan scrambles back up top, landing the missile dropkick and kip-up. Yes Kicks proper begin, but the last one is caught by Rowan. Bryan leaps behind him and stops a blind charge, but Rowan follows with a big boot as Bryan is sitting on the turnbuckle. Military press by Rowan, but Bryan slides down and cradles him for the shock pin at 13:58. THAT is how you do a big/little match, people! ***1/4 Wyatt appears on the Tron after the match and calls off the minions from attacking. He assures Bryan that they'll only hurt him if Wyatt orders it. Wyatt says that he's done bad things to good people, and he knows when he's wrong. He didn't get Bryan; he thought Bryan was just a little man tilting at a windmill (thanks to Total Divas). But here's the question: how long is he willing to pretend to be A-list? Wyatt knows the truth, even though “they” see Bryan as a puppet for amusement. Wyatt GETS Bryan in a way they don't. Together, they (Wyatt and Bryan) can be an unstoppable force. Wyatt implies that he can beat the Authority if he joins with Wyatt. Well, THAT just got interesting.
(Just a sidenote: this match legitimized Erick Rowan and showed his talent. Everyone was saying Luke Harper was the better of the two, and he probably still is, but Rowan showed he's no pushover in this match. Plus, Wyatt's promo can be interpreted in many different ways: the “they” he said see him as a sideshow could be the Authority, the Bellas, or us. Whoever wrote that promo deserves a raise.)
- Backstage, Daniel Bryan is looking over his shoulder so much he bumps into Kane. Kane congratulates him on his win. He then makes a 1-on-3 match for TLC: Bryan v. Wyatt Family. Kane does some mock YES as Bryan looks on.
- R-Truth and Xavier Woods v. Tons of Funk. JBL doing What's Up just doesn't fit if JBL is going full tilt heel. Speaking of full tilt heel, Brodus Clay is angry about Woods stealing his thunder and is pulling rank on Woods. Both teams are acting like faces, so who knows if this is just a quick misunderstanding or what. Did Michael Cole just compare Clay to a Victoria's Secret model? At least it wasn't with a straight face. Woods kicks away on Clay, landing a dropkick but running into a slam. Clay is still angry as he slams him again, then works him over in the corner and brings in Tensai. Tensai does short-arm tackles, but Woods forearms out and gets a Jeff Hardy jawbreaker. Truth in, and he works over Tensai with punches in the corner. Tensai shoves him off, but Truth with the splits and some stick and move before running into Tensai and losing the confrontation. Guillotine on the middle rope follows, and in comes Clay. He clubbers away on Truth, following with a heart punch and mocking dance. Clay punches low and works down Truth, but runs into a series of kicks and a leg lariat. Hot tag Woods, and he works on Clay's leg before knocking him down with forearms. Clay misses a blind charge, and the Honor Roll knocks down Clay for two. Woods clears off Tensai, but Clay bowls him over. T-Bone suplex follows, as does an avalanche. Clay to the second rope, but the big splash misses, and Woods gets La Majistral for the win at 4:09. Clay is none too happy and shoves Tensai away, leading to an uneasy moment between Funkers. 3/4*
- Hey, have you voted on the name of the hypothetical winner at TLC?
- Later tonight: Big Show and the Rhodes Brothers against the Shield. So I guess Show's head injury wasn't as bad as thought.
- Did we mention the Slammys are next week? Just checking.
- Sin Cara v. Alberto Del Rio. Mistico has some new ink. Assuming that's Mistico. As a reminder, this was the match in August in which Sin Cara wrecked his hand. Del Rio speaks about how Sin Cara represents “all the other peasants who are trying to cross the border” and he'll get Immigration to send him back. I didn't think he was Zeb Colter's friend. Del Rio with a headlock and he works Cara into the corner, landing a stiff kick and stomping away. He tries to throw Cara over, but Cara blocks and hits a diving armdrag. He does another ropewalk into a flip armdrag. Cara follows with a quebrada. Back in, Del Rio kicks Cara back to the outside. Cara is sent into the barricade, and back in, Del Rio gets one. Del Rio works the chinlock as I try to figure out if that IS Mistico. Del Rio with a maskpull slam and a big kick. Del Rio stomps Cara's back for one. Back to the chinlock as the crowd chants for I think Cena. Del Rio with a knee to stop a rally, but a blind charge misses and Cara gets a headscissors. Leverage kick by Cara, and he goes up with a crossbody headbutt. Springboard bodypress gets two. Del Rio with a German suplex for two. Del Rio lands a headbutt and throws Cara's head into the mat. Del Rio calls for the armbar, but Cara avoids it, catches Del Rio with an elbow, and goes up, but Del Rio misses the step-up enzuigiri. Senton bomb gets the win (!!) at 4:45. Totally didn't see that coming. If this is Mistico, he looks pretty good, and the doghouse rumors are wrong. But is it? Someone get on this! *1/2
- We look back at Randy Orton kicking John Cena Sr into next week in 2007. This is important because we have a contract signing later.
- Renee Young is with John Cena backstage. They ask if what it'll mean to be “Undisputed Unified champion”. They don't know what the App will vote for. Cena traces the World Title back to Flair and the WWE Championship to Hogan, and about which title meant more. But Cena is about change, and that change is because there's only one company, one fanbase, and there can only be one champ. So what would it mean? “Everything.”
- The Shield join us from an undisclosed location, each claiming they could beat Punk by himself. So against all three... forget it.
(Author's note: after some investigation by my minions, apparently that was Hunico as Sin Cara tonight. Should've known.)
- The Rhodes Brothers and Big Show v. The Shield. Cole says Show has a clean bill of health after last week. THERE HAS BEEN A SIGN GUY SIGHTING! Sadly, he's on the hard camera side. Ambrose and Show will start. Ambrose goes for a waistlock, but Show easily reverses to a headlock takedown. A headbutt and elbowdrop follow. Ambrose goes into the turnbuckle and gets smacked hard in the chest. Ambrose takes the Bret bump on a cross-corner whip, then the CHOP OF DOOM follows. The crowd asks for one more, and Show delivers. Ambrose brings in Rollins as JBL shouts down everyone who doesn't agree with him. Show steamrolls Rollins and slams him down. Another elbowdrop, this to Rollins, gets two. Show demands Reigns, and Rollins obliges. There's a staredown, and Reigns tries to shove Show, which he pays dearly for. A big punch to the gut and Reigns is cornered. Show pulls off the vest and delivers the CHOP OF DOOM to Reigns as the crowd goes wild. Reigns tries to fight out, but Show no-sells and beats him down in the corner. Reigns with an eyerake and Ambrose tries his luck, as Show finally sells 4 minutes in. Not for long, as Ambrose tries to go up top and Show slams him off. Rollins: “Pull on his beard!” Show with the arm wrench, and Goldust is in as the crowd requested. He punches away on Ambrose and sends him into the corner, then a snapmare and he works the arm. CM Punk is watching the match backstage as Cody tags in and the champs work over Ambrose. Running knee by Cody gets one. Ambrose goes to the throat and brings in Rollins, but Cody with a hiptoss and front stalling suplex. It gets two. Faces have basically owned this match so far. Goldust comes in and keeps up the offense, but Rollins shoves off and misses a leapfrog. Dustin knocks him down and gets an axhandle to the back for two. Goldust with armbar/nerve hold, and Cody enters with shots to the head. Cross-corner whip and backdrop gets two for Cody as the Shield have looked helpless. Rollins tries to fight out of an armbar and rushes Cody into the corner, and FINALLY the Shield have a chance as Rollins chops away. Ambrose tags in, but Cody clears all three guys in a flurry and catches Ambrose. Moonsault press gets two. Ambrose escapes Cross Rhodes, but Cody reaches for him only for Ambrose to throw Cody's arm into the post. Ambrose works the arm back in the ring as the Shield are FINALLY in control. It gets two. And with that we go to break. We return with Rollins working over Cody's arm. Cody fights out, but gets dropkicked by Rollins. Ambrose in, and he stomps repeatedly on Cody and adds a shot across the forehead. Reigns adds shots and goes back to the arm with a chickenwing. Cody fights out, but Reigns punches the throat on a Disaster Kick try. Rollins tags in and stomps on Cody's open gut. Rollins throws Cody shoulder-first into the post and follows with a forearm smash. Rollins taunts Cody before stomping him down again and choking him on the bottom rope. Stinger Splash misses, though, but Ambrose cuts off the tag only to get Hotshotted. Cody with a springboard dropkick on Rollins AND Ambrose at the same time, and this time Reigns cuts off the tag... for five seconds. Show is in and plowing down Reigns with clotheslines and a backdrop. Avalanche on Reigns, but Ambrose low bridges Show and the match resets. Show takes a long time to return to the ring, coming in at 8, and Reigns stomps away on him. Rollins in (as Punk looks on again), and the flying knee connects, but Show's on his gut and Rollins can't get him over. Rollins pulls him up and kicks him in the face repeatedly, finally getting two. Ambrose in next, and he cuts off any chance of a tag and stomps away (with Rollins adding a receipt). Ambrose taunts Show, but gets away with and keeps up the pressure with stomps before bringing in Reigns. Reigns with an uppercut and front facelock, but Show shoves off only to get hit with a flying clothesline for two. Ambrose checks in and nails the Power Drive Elbow for two. To the sleeper, but Show suplexes out of it. Reigns gets in and keeps up the pressure only to get caught with a chokeslam. Hot tag Goldust, who destroys Rollins and adds the kneeling uppercut and inverted atomic drop. Running kick follows, leading to the ten punch count-along. Rollins escapes but gets kicked down, and Goldust with a headscissors off the second rope (!!!!) and a spinebuster, Ambrose saves. Ambrose dumps Cody, so Goldust uppercuts Ambrose. Rollins and Ambrose go 2-on-1, but Show dumps Ambrose and Goldust powerslams Rollins. Reigns spears Show on the outside as everyone is down in the ring. Cody dives onto Reigns to neutralize him (but he tweaks the arm in the process). Goldust threatens to follow, but Ambrose meets him up there only to get superplexed ONTO ROLLINS... almost. Rollins avoids it and cradles Goldust for the pin at 20:35. Man, everyone brought their working boots tonight! ****
- But after the break, CM Punk will talk about his match against the Shield in a rebuttal.
- Meanwhile, we look back to the I Quit match at Breaking Point between Cena and Orton. Did we mention they're doing a contract signing?
(This just in on local advertising: they're promising a Cena/Orton champion vs champion match in advertising for SmackDown in DC in what I think will be the January 3, 2014 show. Of course, card always subject to change, so take that for what it's worth.)
- They're calling the Slammy category Total Diva of the Year. Please do me a favor and vote for AJ or Kaitlyn just to annoy Vince.
- Renee Young is with CM Punk. Punk's reaction to the match is that he's giddy. I think he's being sarcastic. And then he starts singing “I Feel Pretty”. Who gave him the extra strength Pepsi? No, seriously, his thoughts are that he's in trouble. He knows he's going down, but he promises to take the Shield with him.
- Meanwhile, Bad News Barrett is at ringside again. He has bad news for everyone: Thanksgiving was on Thursday, and we stuffed our faces. That's not the bad news. The bad news is that we'll all get heart attacks and die. And we're constipated. Not sure what to make of this.
- Kofi and Miz will try again tonight as a team after their disagreement. They will face Ryback and Curtis Axel next. But first, vote on the WWE App please!
- Your Main Event main event is Goldust against Ryback.
- Ryback and Curtis Axel v. Kofi Kingston and Miz. We're supposed to believe that Kofi and Miz got over their issues over Thanksgiving weekend. Miz and Axel start. Axel gets the early edge, but Miz reverses the waistlock only for Axel to elbow out. Axel with a big chop in the corner and some taunting. Miz reverses a corner whip and gets a clothesline before bringing in Kofi. Kofi with a running kick on Axel for one. Miz in, and he drops an axhandle on Axel's arm. Axel misses a dropkick, and Miz tries for a figure-four but Axel gets to the ropes before connecting with a Northern Lariat. Miz is caught in the corner as the ending is basically telegraphed now. Team Heyman works over Miz, with Ryback getting a slam and splash for two. Ryback pounds away, Miz tries to fight back, but Ryback cuts it off with CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY! Ryback with a suplex (holding him up for a very long time) for two. Kofi doesn't seem to want to throw the match. Miz elbows out of a waistlock, but Ryback pulls the hair to stop momentum. Axel in as Miz is thrown into the corner. Axel with a Perfect Dropkick for two. Ryback with a big kick to the gut and a mule kick for two. Ryback taunts Miz before cutting off a comeback with a bearhug. Miz elbows out of the bearhug, and after some dodging, in comes Kofi to clean house. Ryback catches him into the corner, though, and a swing misses Kofi and hits Miz. Kofi with a big bodypress for two. Kofi goes up top on Ryback before cutting off Axel, but Ryback flattens Kofi. Shell Shock ends it 5:55. Match had no heat. 1/2* Miz crawls over to check on Kofi and help him up as the crowd anticipates a heel turn. And there it is, as Miz slaps Kofi and walks off.
- Los Matadores draw WWE Shop duty. Yes, with El Torito.
- Last week, Orton smashed Cena with the WWE belt. We bring this up because CONTRACT SIGNING!
- Fandango v. Mark Henry. Henry throws Fandango down and then staggers him by hollering. Fandango tries to dance his way out of it, but his kick is caught and he's slammed. A big clothesline follows, and Henry steps on Fandango. Henry hits on Summer Rae because why not, but he catches Fandango trying to jump him. A hammer throw follows, then dancing, then another throw. Blind charge misses, and Fandango works over the head of Henry. Henry shoves off Fandango, who dropkicks him in the leg and gets a DDT for two. Fandango with some roundhouse kicks that floor Henry, and he goes up only to get caught... almost. The bodypress completes for two. Fandango slugs away before running into a series of clotheslines. World's Strongest Slam ends it at 3:22. Nothing to see here. 1/4* Henry goes all Sexual Chocolate on Summer Rae to celebrate as the announcers argue about twerking for some reason.
- For some reason (not even Cole understands why), we look back at the Thanksgiving SmackDown. Specifically, Titus O'Neil throwing up. Yes, this was recapped. I don't get it.
- Our SmackDown main event will be CM Punk against one of the Shield members. We don't know which one. Place your bets with Tommy Hall.
- Prime Time Players v. We the People. Zeb Colter gets mic time to turn on Oklahoma and asks why Titus O'Neil enjoyed vomiting. He considers what O'Neil did deviant behavior. Do they know Swagger's FROM Oklahoma? O'Neil and Swagger start. Swagger works over O'Neil in the corner, but O'Neil leaps over on a whip and kicks away. Cesaro is dumped, but O'Neil boots Swagger down. O'Neil with a fallaway slam, but a blind charge eats boots. Cesaro in, and they work the back before Cesaro adds kicks to the gut and dumps O'Neil. Swagger tags in and heads outside, getting a big running lariat on O'Neil. Zeb says touchdown. Inside, Swagger gets two. Colter demands punishment as it appears the crowd is anti-Titus. Swagger with a headlock, and he rushes O'Neil into the corner. O'Neil tries to fight both off, but can't do it. Cesaro adds a Hotshot. Vaderbomb and leapfrog stomp follow (Lawler: “Not on the stomach!”), but Young saves. Cesaro is distracted by Young, and he and O'Neil go into an uppercut battle which Cesaro wins with a Karelin suplex. Swagger enters, and a double elbowsmash gets two. Swagger with an armbar on O'Neil, then Cesaro enters with a suplex for two and he goes to the chinlock. O'Neil flings Cesaro out of it, but Cesaro teases the Swing. Swagger and Colter insist that, no, really, not this time, but the crowd wants otherwise. Nine rotations later, Zeb stops him, fearing a replay of Friday. Titus indeed seems a little queasy, and everyone stands aside to give him space. It works, as he gets a hot tag to Young. Young takes on Cesaro with a belly-to-belly and erases Swagger from the apron. Corner clothesline on Cesaro and Northern Lights gets two. Swagger is caught with a powerslam and Cesaro with an elbow, but he leaps into the European Uppercut for the pin at 6:43. WE THE PEOPLE! *1/2 Would've been much better if O'Neil didn't play the stomach flu gag, but I'm sure Vince and/or Kevin Dunn finds it funny and that's all that matters.
- HHH and Stephanie are ready for a Contract Signing!
- Main Event Talkathon. We're going to see who will become the... hang on, lemme check the App... UNIFIED champion! (38%) Although the other two choices got 31% each. This is assuming there IS a winner. HHH and Stephanie are out first because champs enter last. HHH promises one man will be THE champion, and Stephanie makes sure it's crystal clear: ONE WINNER. ONE. You hear me? Stephanie brings in Randy Orton first. Crowd is divided on both him and Cena. Stephanie isn't too thrilled with Orton's “bigger than the business” claim, but HHH still builds him up as being one of the best and the belt as being the most important. HHH traces the World Title back to the NWA championship of the early 20th Century. Stephanie makes sure to mention HHH held both belts. I like it. HHH makes it clear that this wasn't Cena's suggestion or any whim. But before they could make it happen, they needed to know both champions were the best and could be the face of the WWE. And this is that time. HHH says this is their chance to cement their legacy forever. The crowd is quiet, but it's a good quiet. They're listening in. Orton will sign first. He signs the contract without comment. So does Cena, for that matter. And NOW they get to talk. Orton agrees that the big names have held the big belts, but he's bigger than all of them. Yes, including HHH. But that's why HHH made Orton the face of the WWE, right? Also, HHH and Orton have something in common: we don't like John Cena. (Neither does the crowd, apparently.) And Orton's the only one who can beat John Cena. And that's what will happen at TLC. Cena clears his throat and makes it clear they've met before. Cena pretends to introduce himself, which aggravates Orton. Orton mentions their history (Cena Sr getting kicked in the head, for example), and since then Orton has ruined people's dreams. He's the Apex Predator for a reason. It doesn't matter what Cena's done, because the reason he's here is... Cena cuts him off. He mocks Orton's voice and mannerisms, and he says the only dream he's ruined is HHH's. Why? Because HHH picked Orton for Evolution and Orton has never lived up to his potential. (Huh?) It's not HHH's fault. Orton is incredibly gifted, don't get us wrong. He makes it look so easy... but it makes Orton arrogant and lazy. Orton was the youngest world champ ever, he had Ric Flair to learn from, and he cruised until Cena ruined HHH's dream. Cena has never been asked to be the face of the company; he's just the hardest working, and that's the difference. Orton thinks he should be handed opportunities, but the heck with that. Orton was GIVEN the WWE title and Cena EARNED the World Title. If Orton wins, he will have to earn it. Cena isn't some fancy nickname; he's just himself, and he's annoyed. So will Orton leave or start a fight? Cena warns Orton: if he makes a move to start a fight, Cena will end it. And we'll remember what makes TLC what it is. Stephanie takes the hint and leaves. Cena promises to use chairs, ladders, and tables on Orton if he starts a fight. HHH walks off too just to be safe. “So, Randall... you gonna step up or you gonna step aside?” Orton clearly flips the table and steps up, and HERE WE GO. The brawl rolls outside the ring and Cena gets the better of it. He takes the ladder and rams Orton with it. But Orton with headbutts to take over, and he sends Cena into the post. Orton clears the announce table as Cena takes a ladder, and Orton gets the worst of it. Cena takes a chair now and has Orton groggy, sending the chair into the gut and back. More chair work on Orton, and he takes the microphone and smashes Orton with it. Orton now gets dragged to the steel steps and bounces off of them. He hands off his T-shirt to a kid at ringside, but that allows Orton to recover and throw a ladder at Cena. Orton with a chair now, and he smashes Cena in the back. He then jams the chair into Cena's throat and chest. Orton clears some room in the ring before setting tables up in the corner (as the fans want). He takes a table down and puts it in the middle of the ring as the announcers go nuts with the hype. Cena fires back and throws Orton into a table in the corner instead. He then sees the other table as the crowd goes nuts. Cena gives the thumbs down and picks Orton up, and it's the AA through the table. Now Cena poses over Orton with both belts as HHH and Stephanie look on in interest.
Well, better than last week. The big matches at the tops of the hours were able to carry the show and keep things entertaining. Bray Wyatt's promo has my attention, and the six-man shows the power of numbers, which was really needed after both handicap matches were made. I'm not sure I like corporate Kane yet, but he did what he had to do. The big thing was that everyone who had a match was dialed in tonight, and that ups the enjoyment level greatly.
That said, all the emphasis on Cena and Orton doesn't do it for me. We've seen both of them before, and after teasing Punk and Bryan the last two summers only to have them derailed by Rock and HHH, it seems like WWE is afraid to try something new. It makes for a main event that sounds very familiar and very stale. To be fair, the crowd still cheers for it, but at some point you have to pull the trigger. You had that chance when Cena was out and you chose not to.
Now the returns of Cena, Henry, and Big Show have clogged up the upper card unnecessarily. At some point, people need to be let go. Del Rio is taking his place going down the card, but what of the others? Is Mark Henry doing anything right now? What does Big Show have for a next program?
Actually, there's a lot of that. Cody and Dustin are treading water, which is bad when they're champions. Speaking of champs, Dean Ambrose has had the US Title and done nothing with it. A lot of emphasis on one storyline hasn't elevated much else, but shunted it away. Why does the US Title exist if it's never defended and Dean Ambrose does nothing on his own? How much time was wasted with the Intercontinental Title while Curtis Axel was being beaten repeatedly by CM Punk? All the emphasis has been on the two big belts to the detriment of the midcard, and it makes it hard to get interested in anything other than Cena and Orton... and if you don't like seeing them up top, what's left?
MATCH TIME: 67:51 over nine matches
BEST MATCH: The six-man
WORST MATCH: Fandango/Henry
KAYFABE MVP: Lots of choices, but I'll go Damien Sandow
FINAL SCORE: 7. A lot of important stuff happened on this show and there were two great matches, which really is all I ask to give a thumbs up. That said, man – we need to liven up the third hour in a hurry.
That's all for me. Scott will be back to grouse about the WWE with Raw Lite and NXT, and Tommy will wonder why the end of the week is abandoned with Impact and SmackDown. In the meantime, get ready for the SLAMMYS next week!
...c'mon, guys, can't you at least pretend to be excited?