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WWE Raw Report
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 1/23: Ongoing "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - final Royal Rumble hype, Jericho Week 4, Clay Week 3

Jan 23, 2012 - 10:10:36 PM

WWE Raw Supershow Results
January 23, 2012 - Episode #973
Live in Phoenix, Ariz.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

This week's live WWE Raw leading to the Royal Rumble PPV started with the Raw intro video followed by crowd shots inside the arena. No pyro. After a brief pause, Cult of Personality played to bring out WWE champion C.M. Punk. As Punk made his way to the ring, announcers Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler hyped the Rumble PPV and Punk's title defense against Dolph Ziggler with John Laurinaitis as special referee.

Once in the ring, Punk sat down and set up the Rumble PPV title match. Punk noted he's in one corner and Dolph Ziggler is in the other corner. Punk said Ziggler claims to have beaten him three times in the past month, but each one of those was hand-wrapped and delivered by John Laurinaitis, who Punk said happens to be the ref for the title match on Sunday. Punk said Laurinaitis is a "failure" wrestler, manager, and human being. He said he's said these things to Laurinaitis's face, and then he was shocked last week when Laurinaitis actually told the truth.

Punk intro'ed a clip from the end of Raw last week when Laurinaitis admitted he plans to screw Punk at the Rumble and he's tired of being disrespected. Back in the ring, Punk noted Laurinaitis isn't going to be much of an unbiased referee on Sunday, which means he's pretty well screwed. He does know better, though, because he can take actions to get a desired result by breaking Laurinaitis's arms. He told Laurinaitis the ball is in his court to come down to the ring and tell him all the things he said last week to his face. Punk told Laurinaitis to be a man - for once - and say these things to his face.

Pause. No sign of Laurinaitis. Punk said he gave Laurinaitis a chance, so now he's going to find him. Suddenly, John Cena's music played to bring out Cena to a loud round of boos and cheers. Cena was not in a good mood, according to his facial expression. Cole noted Cena is going one-on-one with Kane this Sunday at the Rumble. Cena entered the ring and looked around the arena as Punk leaned against the top rope. Punk said he gets how Cena could be confused since he was talking about John, but not "boy scout" John.

Cena responded that he's sick of hearing Punk ramble. He said he's out here for business. Cena demanded Laurinaitis give Zack Ryder a U.S. Title re-match tonight. that soon Laurinaitis will appear tonight and give him a one-on-one contest with Kane, who he will also fight again at the Rumble. Most importantly, Laurinaitis will soon appear in front of the world and resign as interim GM of Raw.

Punk waited out a "Cena, Cena" chant, then said that sounds like what the people want. Punk said everyone has spoken, but he doesn't understand why Cena...and Laurinaitis with the interruption. Laurinaitis walked out on-stage for his long-form introduction. He said they've all had their bad days in life and last week was not one of those days. (He flashed his big, fake smile.) Laurinaitis said he's not going to be intimidated by either one of them. Punk told him to come on down to the ring because he can't hear him that well. Laurinaitis shouted back that he won't listen to Punk.

Laurinaitis then told Cena he made a mistake last week with Ryder, and, fortunately, Ryder is here tonight to face Kane in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Laurinaitis told Cena that if he gets involved tonight, then Ryder will never - ever - get a U.S. Title re-match. He then ordered Cena and Punk into a tag match tonight. Laurinaitis brought out a referee, then walked to the back. In the ring, Cena and Punk paced around before Vickie Guerrero's voice was heard. Punk dropped down to his knees in frustration as Vickie welcomed out U.S. champ Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler. Swagger was sporting his "2010 World Title run serious face" as he stood on-stage. Ziggler then slowly told Punk he's going to flat, out-beat Punk tonight. Swagger spoke next. He said for what Cena did to him last week, he's going to make him dead meat.

Cue up Ziggler's music as the heels started walking to the ring. Laurinaitis then re-emerged and followed the heels down to ringside. No commercial break, Laurinaitis joined the announcers, and the bell sounded.


1 -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK & JOHN CENA vs. U.S. champion JACK SWAGGER & DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Vickie Guerrero)

Cena started things off before Punk tagged in for a basic exchange with Swagger. They came to a stalemate and Laurinaitis was shown texting or tweeting as they cut to break 1:30 in.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Cena scored a close two count on Ziggler as Cole hyped Laurinaitis's decision-making. Ziggler and Cena then went back and forth on the ropes before Ziggler simply stopped, "showed off," and walked over to Swagger for a tag. Cena took it to Swagger, then did a Flair/Double J strut, only to take a blindside attack from Swagger. Ziggler and Swagger then worked over Cena as Punk reached out for a tag. Meanwhile, Cole re-referenced Mick Foley wanting a spot in the Royal Rumble, but Laurinaitis won't allow it.

Cena broke free at 9:40 and made the hot tag to Punk as Ziggler tagged in for the heels. Punk took it to Ziggler with signature offense before calling for the GTS. Ziggler escaped, though, only to eat a roundhouse kick to the head. Punk made a cover, but Swagger broke up the pin. Cena and Swagger then brawled to the outside, where they traded submission holds. Back in the ring, Punk slammed Ziggler and wanted to go up top, but the ref was in the way. Punk told him to move, then Laurinaitis hopped on the ring apron to reprimand Punk for moving the ref away. Punk then grabbed Laurinaitis, causing Laurinaitis to drop to the floor. Ziggler then rolled up Punk from behind and hooked his tights for the pin and the win.

WINNERS: Ziggler & Swagger at 11:09.

Post-match: Laurinaitis quickly walked off and up the entrance ramp. Punk, frustrated, told Laurinaitis this doesn't change a thing because he's still going to whip him at the Rumble. He then told Laurinaitis to be a WWE Superstar for one night. Laurinaitis smiled a bit. "You want to be famous? I'll make you famous," Punk said. He offered Laurinaitis a one-on-one match with him tonight. Laurinaitis smiled, nodded slightly, raised the mic to his mouth, and said, "I...I accept." The crowd popped, then Cult of Personality played. Ringside, Lawler said Laurinaitis has lost his mind because he hasn't competed in over a decade. Cole tried to promote this as "anything can happen in WWE" with Laurinaitis wrestling tonight.

Backstage: Chris Jericho was shown acting fired up as he walked down the hallway. Lawler said he's bringing back the Highlight Reel tonight.

[Q3] [Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back live, Justin Roberts introduced the Highlight Reel. In the ring, the Jeritron 3000 was on full display and two director's chairs were positioned in the ring on top of red carpet. Suddenly, the lights went out and Jericho's light-up jacket was shown in the arena to screams. Jericho then emerged as Cole recapped Jericho's "bizarre" behavior since returning to WWE. As Jericho entered the ring, Lawler said Jericho has officially entered the Royal Rumble on Sunday.

In the ring, Jericho played to the arena before grabbing a mic. Jericho stood center-ring waiting out "Y2J" chants and some boos. Jericho asked for the crowd to quiet down, then he teased talking, but they weren't quiet enough. He wanted to talk, but the crowd wasn't quiet enough. They began to boo a little. Jericho suddenly had an idea. He ran out of the ring, then told the crowd to hold on one second. Jericho re-emerged with a t-shirt gun and t-shirts. Jericho returned to the ring and held up a t-shirt, which drew cheers. Jericho pointed the gun to all sides of the arena as Cole held up his hands like a small child. Jericho continued to tease the arena before asking to see the camera. Jericho grabbed the camera and shot the arena, with Cole acting like a small child again.

Jericho grabbed his mic again, then continued to hush the crowd. He then pointed to the Jeritron. The video started with the Millenium countdown to his Y2J debut in 1999, then went to highlights of his big career moments, viral return, corporate suit heel era, the 1-2-12 mystery videos, and light-up jacket.

Back live in the ring, Jericho looked around the arena, squinted his eyes, and spoke. "This Sunday at the Royal Rumble," he said. Big pop for his first words. "It will be the end of the world as you know it." He smiled, then his music played and the arena turned dark again. The camera focused on his light-up jacket as Lawler wondered aloud if that's it. They faded to commercial.

[Commercial Break]

Still to come tonight: Kane vs. Zack Ryder in a Falls Count Anywhere match, plus The Miz vs. R-Truth in a just-announced grudge match. Cole and Lawler were then shown on-camera to hype the Rumble match on Sunday.

[Q4] Cole fed to the annual "It's All About The Numbers" video package on Rumble stats and moments. Chyna made it into the video for about half-a-second as one of two female competitors in Rumble history. Now, "for the first time ever," every WWE Superstar is eligible to enter the Rumble. Apparently the implication is that even the WWE champion or World Hvt. champion could enter and win.

Backstage: Eve and Zack Ryder were talking. Mick Foley then made a random cameo sporting a ripped flannel jacket over a Cactus Jack t-shirt. Foley told Ryder good luck, then Eve expressed concern over Ryder wrestling tonight. Suddenly, John Cena walked into the show. Cena said he heard what John Laurinaitis said, but Ryder told him just to stay out of it because he wants his U.S. Title re-match. Ryder walked off, then his music played.

In-ring: Ryder walked out to the ring sporting taped ribs over his injured mid-section. Justin Roberts announced the Falls Count Anywhere match before Kane's pyro shot off and the announcers went silent. Kane's music played, screams and shrieks were heard, then Kane emerged on-stage sporting his welder's mask before walking toward the ring. And, just to ruin his mystique, buy his theme song on iTunes! As Kane slowly made his way to the ring, Cole plugged Cena vs. Kane at the Rumble on Sunday. In the ring, Kane shot off his pyro before turning his attention toward Ryder.

2 -- KANE vs. ZACK RYDER -- Falls Count Anywhere match

Ryder tried a pre-emptive attack, but Kane brushed it aside and knocked Ryder to the outside. Kane stalked Ryder and delivered knees to the gut, followed by strikes to the back. Kane continued the assault as Eve emerged ringside in the background. Eve called out to Zack, who ate the announce table. They cut to break with Ryder in trouble.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Kane was toying with Ryder as Lawler implored Eve to get away from the action. Kane then applied his mandible claw-like maneuver to choke Ryder before letting go. Cole surmised Kane wants to continue torturing Ryder. Kane then flung Ryder over the guardrail into the front row area.

[Q5 -- second hour] Cole noted Kane is sending a message to Cena ahead of the Rumble. The action moved to the intersection of the floor and bleacher seats next to the production area. Kane continued to focus on Ryder's injured mid-section before Ryder finally fought back, only to take an uppercut. Kane ripped off the tape around Ryder's mid-section, then dragged him toward the entrance stage. On the stage, Kane blasted Ryder into the base of the giant WWE logo. Kane followed with more knees to the gut, then made a cover, but Ryder kicked out. Cole wondered aloud if this is the smart move by Ryder.

The crowd tried to rally with a "Let's Go Ryder...woo woo woo-woo-woo" chant as Ryder sold near unconsciousness on the stage. Ryder suddenly fought back with strikes, but Kane decked him on the stage with an uppercut. Kane then gripped Ryder around the throat and delivered a chokeslam through a gimmicked portion of the stage. Eve immediately ran up the entrance ramp to the stage and tried looking down at Ryder before Kane stalked her down the ramp toward the ring. Kane looked over his shoulder as the ringside medic tried running around Kane to check on Ryder.

Kane suddenly turned around when he spotted John Cena on the entrance stage. Kane disappeared through the crowd as Cena and Eve looked through the hole in the stage to check on Ryder. Cena went back and forth between checking on Ryder and looking around for Kane before covering his mouth with his hand. The camera finally got a shot of the hole below the stage, where Ryder was selling unconsciousness. Ryder was placed on a backboard as Eve sold tears. Cena had a blank stare partly concerned for Ryder and partly selling fear over his possible Sunday night against Kane. They suddenly cut to break.

WINNER: No Contest at 13:35 when they cut to break. There was a lot of raw emotion in the crowd that Cena could turn into a babyface promo passionately vowing revenge on Kane at the PPV.

[Commercial Break]

Smackdown plug: Randy Orton is back. Orton returns to Smackdown on Friday and his eyes are locked on Wade Barrett. Before they went back live to Raw, a video package aired on underdog World Hvt. champion Daniel Bryan keeping his title by any means necessary. This Sunday, it's Bryan vs. Mark Henry vs. Big Show in a steel cage match for the World Title.

Back live, Ryder was shown being taken out of the hole as Cole quietly set the scene. Dean Malenko had joined the medics and referees, who helped Ryder out of the hole onto a stretcher. Ryder blinked a few times to sell consciousness as he was wheeled down the entrance stage to the backstage area. Cena and Eve followed closely as Cole and Lawler continued to talk in hushed tones. The camera followed the stretcher to an ambulance positioned backstage. Eve and Cena continued to stand next to Ryder as he was placed in the ambulance. "Hang in there, buddy," Cena told him. "I'm going to take care of this."

Before the ambulance drove away, Eve, beside herself, told Cena it's all his fault. Eve then hopped in the ambulance to ride with Ryder. The camera stayed with Cena, who clenched his jaw in frustration before lowering his head, as the ambulance drove off. Suddenly, Josh Mathews entered the camera shot to tell Cena he must feel awful about this. Cena didn't say anything before slowly turning around and smacking the mic out of Josh's hand. Cena then lowered his head, looked into the camera, clenched his jaw tight, and started shaking out of anger. They cut to break.

[Commercial Break] [Q6]

Back live, they showed Cole and Lawler talking quietly about Ryder's condition and said they hope to get an update on Ryder's condition tonight. And, based on Cole's presentation, the next downer was Jinder Mahal already in the ring. Sheamus's music then hit to loud screams for a change of tone. Lawler said they need someone to lift their spirits, and Sheamus is the guy for the task.


Sheamus quickly dismantled Mahal before Wade Barrett confidently strutted down to ringside sporting his big overcoat and dress clothes. Sheamus tried to ignore Barrett before blasting away at Mahal's chest with multiple strikes. Sheamus locked eyes with Barrett, then Mahal took the distraction as an opportunity to throw Sheamus off the top turnbuckle. Barrett hyped his Rumble chances as Mahal scored with offense on Sheamus. Barrett then turned his attention to Randy Orton, vowing to cripple Orton like Kane did to Ryder. In the ring, Sheamus made a comeback, then hit the Brogue Kick. Sheamus with the cover for the win.

Post-match: Barrett grabbed his jacket and confidently walked away from the ringside area. Sheamus called him back into the ring, though, and Barrett teased entering the ring, but dropped off the ring apron when Sheamus approached him. Barrett said he wasn't going to be cheap-shotted by Sheamus. Sheamus then took a mic and told Barrett to take a good look at this image of him alone in the the 2012 Royal Rumble winner. On the stage, Barrett smirked and said that's not happening.

WINNER: Sheamus at 3:12.

Backstage: Mathews, apparently with a new mic, interviewed The Miz. Miz said every person who has teamed with him and crossed him has seen his career fall apart. He said R-Truth will be no different than John Morrison, Big Show, and Alex Riley. Suddenly, R-Truth entered the shot sporting nerdy glasses and a white jacket. Truth said according to his research, Miz is definitely #1...annoying, whining, nincompoop, and WEIO. Which means "What Else Is On?" Truth said Miz is without question WWE's #1 jackass. Truth and Miz then began screaming in each other's faces before John Laurinaitis and David Otunga barged in. Laurinaitis said all he hears is a bunch of complaining while he's trying to prepare for his match with Punk tonight. He decided that whichever one of them loses tonight will be #1 in the Rumble. Miz tried to beg for a different option, but Laurinaitis walked off. "Quack quack," Truth told Miz.

Still to come: Punk vs. Laurinaitis. Up Next: "Funkasauras In Da House."

[Commercial Break]

[Q7] This Friday: Orton is back to confront Barrett on Smackdown. ... Did You Know: Smackdown topped both NBA games last Friday on Smackdown. Since UFC does not exist to WWE, they did not note Smackdown topped UFC.

Ringside: William Regal joined Cole and Lawler on commentary. They cut to a video package on William Regal dancing last Friday on Smackdown before Brodus Clay squashed him. Cue up Funkasauras's intro leading to Brodus Clay and the Funkettes dancing out to the ring. Clay was sporting a white track suit and black hat this week. Clay "raised the roof" in the ring before completing his dance intro. Regal was stunned. Ringside, Heath Slater, with a 22-match losing streak, was shown laughing and pointing before entering the ring to face Clay.


The bell sounded and Slater ran into a shoulder tackle. Clay danced and jiggled as Regal brought his NXT style commentary to the match. Clay got upset when Slater tried offense, so Clay delivered a suplex and big corner splash. Clay followed with his "What the funk?" finisher before noting someone needs to call Slater's momma as he made the pin. Cue up the post-match dance celebration.

WINNER: Clay at 0:52. The crowd wasn't into Clay - booing or cheering - as much as past crowds. The audience seems to be waiting for Clay's re-introduction to go somewhere.

Still to come: Laurinaitis climbs back into the ring to face Punk.

[Commercial Break]

Royal Rumble flashback - Rumble '07 in San Antonio. The video focused on The Undertaker's entry and subsequent epic clash with Shawn Michaels before winning.

In-ring: Justin Roberts introduced The Miz vs. R-Truth match and noted the loser will be #1 in the Rumble. What if it goes to yet another No Contest finish? Laurinaitis didn't think of that! Miz was the first man out before they went to a replay from two months ago when Miz and Truth split so Truth could serve a Wellness Policy suspension. Truth then came out to face Miz. Before the bell sounded, Cole noted two men have won the Rumble from the #1 position. Cole stopped short of mentioning Chris Benoit as one of the two men.

5 -- THE MIZ vs. R-TRUTH -- Loser gets #1 spot in Rumble

Miz dominated early on before knocking Truth to the outside. They cut to break two minutes in with Miz posing in the ring.

[Q8] [Commercial Break]

Back from break, Miz was still in control of the match. Truth fought back with knock-down clotheslines before rolling up Miz for a close two count. Truth followed with a pancake suplex for a nearfall, then Miz visibly called the next sequence of moves. Miz eventually teased the Skullcrushing Finale, but Truth blocked. Miz came back with a kneeling DDT for a two count. Miz nearly got himself DQ'ed, then walked into Truth's Little Jimmy finisher for the pin and the win. Miz gets the undesired #1 slot in the Rumble. Afterward, Truth left and Miz sold shock as he realized what just happened.

WINNER: Truth at 8:13.

Still to come: Punk vs. Laurinaitis. Before that, Lawler said he just received an update on Zack Ryder. Lawler read a medical note that Ryder has a broken back. They went back to a replay from Earlier Tonight of Kane sending Ryder through the stage with a chokeslam. Also earlier tonight, Eve blamed Cena for Ryder's situation. Back live, Cole said they will keep everyone updated on Ryder's condition throughout the week. Lawler shook his head and said he can't think of any worse news. That lingered in the air before...

They cut to the GM's office to show Laurinaitis, in a wild robe, warming up for his match with Punk. Otunga then walked in with a fax. (A fax?) Otunga said he's not going to like it. Laurinaitis read the fax, furrowed his brow, and moved his mouth around to hold in his emotions. They cut backstage to show Punk walking down the hallway ahead of their match next.

[Commercial Break]

Raw returned one minute before the top of the hour with a Make-a-Wish plug before Cole noted they are in Phoenix. Cole and Lawler then ran down the Rumble PPV line-up. Lawler said Big Show will be on Smackdown this Friday to address A.J.'s "horrific injury" during the Bryan-Show title match two Smackdowns ago.

[Q9 -- over-run] At the top of the hour, Cult of Personality played to bring out WWE champion C.M. Punk. Punk paraded around in the ring before handing over his title belt to the timekeeper. Justin Roberts then introduced Laurinaitis to boos. No sign of the interim Raw GM, though. Roberts re-announced Laurinaitis and Cole called this a brilliant strategy. Laurinaitis then emerged in a cut-off "Future Endeavored" t-shirt, flanked by David Otunga.

In the ring, Laurinaitis said he has some unfortunate news to share with the WWE Universe and WWE talent. Laurinaitis said he received a fax from the Board of Directors that everyone needs to hear. Otunga read the fax that the Board has become concerned with Laurinaitis's decision-making on Raw. Otunga took a deep breath. "Therefore, the Board has decided that your status as interim Raw GM will be officially under review." Pause. Otunga said that next week on Raw, Laurinaitis will receive a formal job evaluation to determine if he will remain as Raw GM or be terminated. Laurinaitis's job evaluation will be performed by...Triple H.

Laurinaitis told Punk that what this means is...Punk slapped the mic out of Laurinaitis's hand and told him that what this means is if Laurinaitis intentionally screws him at the Rumble, then he's out of a job. Punk said that also means there's nothing standing between him and knocking Laurinaitis's teeth out of his mouth. Laurinaitis then tried to extend an apology to the fans and Punk for any wrongdoing he's done. Punk said it's all one big misunderstanding, right? Laurinaitis tried to make it up to Punk with Mick Foley now in the Rumble. Punk told him it's too little, too late.

Laurinaitis then said he always planned to call the title match right down at the Rumble. He was just mad because Punk made fun of him. Punk stared a hole through Laurinaitis before telling Laurinaitis that if Triple H has inherited any of his father-in-law's traits, he hopes it's this one. "You're fiiiiiired," Punk said. Laurinaitis said he's not going to be fired because he took over Talent Relations when it was in the dark ages under JR and he turned it into a corporate entity. He then noted their match is not going to happen tonight. Laurinaitis said he has a substitute - David Otunga.

Otunga blasted Punk as ref Charles Robinson reprimanded Otunga. Suddenly, Punk speared Otunga and unloaded on Otunga before making him tap out. Punk hopped up to his feet and stared down Laurinaitis, who slowly backed away. Punk then back-kicked Otunga and returned to face off with Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis suddenly extended his hand for a shake as the crowd chanted Punk's name. Punk breathed heavily before shaking his hand and lifting up Laurinaitis for a big GTS center-ring. Cult of Personality played.

Suddenly, a previously MIA Dolph Ziggler snuck in the back door and dropped Punk with the Zig-Zag. Ziggler stood over Punk as Laurinaitis remained motionless. The credits came on as Lawler wondered aloud if Ziggler will be the new champ at the Rumble. They signed off ten minutes past the top of the hour.

We welcome your 0-10 score and comments on this show for a "Raw Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of To contribute your thoughts on Raw, email to using our Feedback form.

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