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WWE Raw Report
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 2/11: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - The Rock returns for Story Time, final Chamber PPV hype, Jericho vs. Bryan

Feb 11, 2013 - 10:11:14 PM


WWE Raw TV Results
February 11, 2013 - Episode #1,028
Live from Nashville, Tenn.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

This week's three-hour Raw started with a video package documenting Team Cena vs. Team Shield. The voice-over announcer said Shield has promised to appear in the ring tonight to address Cena, Ryback, Sheamus, and the WWE audience. Plus, The Rock is back on Raw. And, C.M. Punk has vowed to give Rock what he deserves six days before the Elimination Chamber PPV.

In the arena, Paul Heyman was already in the ring. After waiting out boos, Heyman asked for cooperation so he can make an announcement. "Tonight is the last time you're ever going to see Paul Heyman," he said, which was followed by big cheers.

Heyman said that might make a lot of people happy, but he will not sit here and play victim. Heyman said he has done everything with passion, which usually end up betraying him. Heyman paused and said that for seven-and-a-half years, he sacrificed everything, including his parents's fortune, to bring everyone the most groundbreaking product in pro wrestling history called ECW. Heyman said he came to WWE and saw the most-physically-gifted rookie in the history of this industry and turned that rookie into the Next Big Thing, Brock Lesnar.

Heyman paused again, then said he met a man who he thought epitomized this business and everything the WWE audience would support. He said he thought this man could even eclipse Bruno Sammartino's reign as WWE champion. Heyman said that man, C.M. Punk, should still be the reigning, defending WWE champion, which drew boos.

Heyman looked down to the mat and said it's easy to see into the future. He said he can tell everyone that something really bad is going to happen here. He looked toward the ceiling and said that it's hanging straight over his head and it's going to come down onto everyone around him, which includes C.M. Punk. But, Punk needs to be focused on returning to WWE champion. He said he has become a distraction and the McMahons loathe him, which has caused Punk to receive the brunt of his sins. That is why tonight he is tendering his resignation.

Heyman surveyed the crowd and said he sees a lot of cold-hearted callousness from the crowd. He said he has as much compassion for their pathetic lives as they do for him. Heyman said the one thing he won't miss on Monday nights is the WWE Universe. Heyman continued that he will not stand in Punk's way anymore as his best friend. Heyman said he regrets to inform the audience that he cannot stand here in the ring to celebrate with Punk when he regains the WWE Title. Heyman sold trying to find the words before saying, "I say good-bye."

As the crowd started up the "Hey, hey, goodbye" chant, Cult of Personality interrupted. C.M. Punk walked out mouthing, "What are you doing?" as Heyman tried to control his emotions in the ring. On commentary, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler commented on Heyman's announcement, with Lawler saying this is the happiest day of his life other than when he survived a heart attack.

In the ring, Punk asked Heyman what he's doing, to which Heyman replied. Heyman said Vince McMahon thinks he paid off Shield and Brad Maddox and had something to do with Brock Lesnar returning to take out McMahon. Punk cut him off and said these people look up to him, just like he does, as the crowd booed. Heyman slowed him down and told Punk that he told him when he first started in WWE that perception is reality. Heyman said he doesn't want to be viewed as a martyr and "you gotta let me go."

Punk said that's not happening. Punk said this bad dream all goes back to normal Sunday at Elimination Chamber. "I will beat The Rock!" Punk said. He said Heyman will be there in his corner to see it. Heyman suddenly gained confidence and said Punk will beat Rock...and he will be there. "I will witness greatness happen before me!" Heyman said. Heyman, now fired up, said Punk will be champion on Sunday.

Punk and Heyman hugged mid-ring to boos. Heyman clutched Punk's head as Punk slapped him on the back and declared, "We are a team!" They continued to hug as Heyman said over and over, "Best in the world." Cole quietly asked, with disdain in his voice, "So, he's not resigning?" Lawler said he thinks Heyman just wanted to up-stage The Pope, who resigned today. Cole said at least Pope went through with his resignation.

[Q2] Still to come: The Rock addresses Punk and Heyman. They cut backstage to show Mark Henry walking down the hallway. He inducts someone into the Hall of Pain next.

[Commercial Break #1]

In-ring: Great Khali, Natalya, and Hornswoggle were mid-ring dancing around. Mark Henry was then introduced to come deliver a Feat of Strength. The man from Silsbee slowly made his way to the ring as Cole offered tons of adjectives to describe Henry. This was followed by video recaps of Henry destroying folks last week on Raw and Smackdown, including Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara. And, Mysterio is now out of the Smackdown Elimination Chamber. It's only Henry, Randy Orton, and Daniel Bryan now. Cole said they hope to fill the slots tonight.

1 -- MARK HENRY vs. GREAT KHALI (w/Hornswoggle and Natalya)

Khali tried to deliver some early chops, but Henry absorbed the blows and delivered a big corner splash. Henry followed with a knock-down clothesline, then stalked Khali. Henry proceeded to deadlift Khali into the air before delivering World's Strongest Slam.

Henry, content with his work tonight, slipped out of the ring as Natalya and Swoggle tried to bring Khali back to life. Henry then decided he wasn't done and returned to the ring. Swoggle didn't realize he was alone in the ring. Henry then smashed Swoggle with World's Strongest Slam center-ring as kids in the audience freaked out. "That's what I do!" Henry shouted over the booing crowd. Some of the vocal males wanted it one more time, but Henry wasn't in a giving mood. Henry then trash-talked on his way out. This Friday on Smackdown, it's Henry vs. Randy Orton in a return match from last Friday's Smackdown.

WINNER: Henry at 1:34. It's what he does.

Tonight: Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus face 3MB in a six-man tag match to "get on the same page" before facing The Shield at the Chamber PPV on Sunday.

[Commercial Break #2]

[Q3] Back live, Cole said they are anticipating The Rock's arrival tonight.

Backstage: Booker T and Teddy Long contemplated Chamber match participants. Chris Jericho then walked up to them and pitched being part of the Chamber match. Teddy bought the pitch, but Booker said you can't just walk into the Chamber. Long offered Booker an idea, but Booker said it sucks. He then told Jericho he needs to beat someone tonight to impress him. "Daniel Bryan," Booker said. Jericho liked that, then vowed to beat "Daniel Beard-an" tonight before imitating Booker's "five-time, five-time WCW champion" line.

GM Office: Vickie Guerrero was on the phone pitching someone on the Elimination Chamber PPV tonight. There was a knock on the door, and Paul Heyman barged in. Heyman wanted a stipulation added to Rock-Punk on Sunday. Vickie said he's crazy, especially without McMahon's approval. The phone rang. It was McMahon. Vickie tried to act nice before Heyman begged for the phone. Vickie put McMahon on speaker, then Heyman said he's so sorry about what happened with Brock Lesnar two weeks ago. He said he knows McMahon is making a Herculian effort to get back on Raw. "Shut up!" McMahon interrupted, nearly breaking the speakerphone.

McMahon, apparently watching Raw from his hospital bed, wanted to know what stipulation Heyman has in mind. Heyman pitched that if Rock gets counted out or DQ'ed, then Punk regains the WWE Title. McMahon quietly asked if Heyman feels good about this, then told him he wants it in writing. Heyman said it will be done, then McMahon agreed and declared the stipulation is official. Heyman tried to suck up to McMahon, but McMahon hung up, popping the crowd. On commentary, Lawler said that's a huge stipulation and he doesn't know why McMahon would grant it to Heyman.

In-ring: Daniel Bryan was introduced for the next match. Bryan, looking like he just dipped his head in water before walking to the ring, shouted, "No!" toward the crowd before Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break #3]

Vignette: Johnny Curtis is a video game character known as with echo. Lawler said he can't wait to see more from Fandango.

In-ring: As Bryan warmed up in the ring, fireworks shot off to bring out Chris Jericho to a loud reaction to face Bryan. Lawler noted the strong reaction as Jericho made his way to the ring playing to the crowd.

2 -- CHRIS JERICHO vs. WWE tag champion DANIEL BRYAN -- if Jericho wins, he enters the Chamber match

One minute in, WWE cut backstage to show Booker and Teddy talking about this match. The announcers stressed Booker ripping Teddy for his idea in the previous segment, continuing to foreshadow authority figure issues. In the ring, Bryan kicked Jericho repeatedly in the chest before Jericho spilled to the outside trying to respond. Bryan then built momentum and came flying through the ropes with an emphatic suicide dive. Jericho clutched his knee to sell an injury as Bryan collected his breath leading to break.

[Q4] [Commercial Break #4]

Back from break, Jericho was okay after shaking off the "knee injury" pre-break. Jericho encouraged a "Y2J" chant before Bryan ran him over with an elbow to the head. Suddenly, the crowd loudly chanted, "Yes!" which threw off Bryan. Jericho wanted a Lionsault, but Bryan got his knees up to block. Bryan then climbed to the top rope, but Jericho crotched him. Chop to the chest. Superplex tease, but Bryan shoved him down. Then, Bryan came off the top rope with a headbutt that connected for a nearfall.

At 9:00, Bryan kneed Jericho in the gut, but Jericho intercepted another knee strike and struggled to apply Walls of Jericho before finally sat down on it. Bryan teased tapping, but rolled underneath Jericho to reverse in the No! Lock. Jericho fought the hold, though, and escaped before Bryan blasted him in the head with a kick. Bryan covered, but Jericho escaped just before three. Great sequence and hot crowd.

At 10:20, Bryan landed kick strikes to the chest. He wounded up for a big roundhouse, but Jericho ducked and rolled him up for a two count. Suddenly, Jericho hit the Codebreaker. Bryan snapped back to the mat, Jericho covered, and it was good for a three count. Jericho is going to the Chamber match, which Cole made a big deal out of it.

WINNER: Jericho at 10:41. Excellent TV match with a hot crowd fully invested. This could have gone ten more minutes and not over-stayed its welcome. And, Jericho continues his streak of strong TV matches, now becoming the poster-boy for what happens when a wrestler gets time off, then comes back to WWE refreshed. (***)

Still to come: The Shield is here to address Cena and Co. But, up next, it's Team Cena vs. 3MB.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back from break, 3MB was in the ring doing their air-guitar routine. Cole noted they were upset they did not win a Grammy last night, then Sheamus's music played to interrupt their performance. Ryback was out second to a decent reaction, but nowhere close to Jericho in the previous match.

[Q5 -- second hour] At the top of the hour, Ryback finished his entrance before John Cena's music played to a huge reaction. Cena came out on-stage and excitedly said he can feel WrestleMania getting close. Lawler noted the hot crowd reaction before Cole reset the show. Cole then plugged the "All-Star Team" of Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus against The Shield on Sunday. Lawler said he thinks Shield will finally get theirs on Sunday.


Ryback started things off with Slater, who did his air-guitar dance in Ryback's face. So, Ryback press-slammed him into the air to a strong reaction. McIntyre then entered, as did Sheamus. Sheamus dumped McIntyre over the top rope to the apron, absorbed a punch to the face, and delivered the Ten Forearm Strikes to the chest.

Cena, bouncing up and down, asked for a tag and Sheamus obliged. Mahal also tagged in to keep this going. Mahal asked Cena if he wants some of this, then slapped Cena across the face. Cena angrily responded with a clothesline, then dropped the Shuffle. Cena measured Mahal for the AA, but 3MB hit the ring. Brawl time. Suddenly, the faces set up for and delivered all of their finishers simultaneously. Cena pinned Mahal and it was good for the win.

WINNERS: Team Cena at 2:50. Basic booking to show that the babyfaces are a cohesive unit and capable of giving Shield their comeuppance on Sunday.

Post-match, Ryback beat his chest and Cena celebrated while Sheamus kicked a 3MB member out of the ring. After Cena's music stopped, Ryback took the mic and said he has waited a long time for this Sunday. He said he will feast on The Shield. Sheamus spoke next, mocking their "Believe in the Shield" slogan. He added that they want some justice tonight.

Cena took the mic last and waited out a loud mix of cheers and boos. Cena said Sheamus is right that Shield will be here...tonight. Why? Why would they come into this ring and leave themselves vulnerable? Cena said it's a bold choice, but it's also a bad one. Cena said the Shield meets the sword tonight. Cena fired up the crowd before telling Shield if they want some, then come get some. Cena is locked in right now. As Cena's music played, Ryback led the crowd in a "Feed Me More" chant.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler were shown on-camera to set up the World Title developments last Friday on Smackdown. "This was so great!" Lawler excitedly said, trying to sell it to the audience.

Smackdown replay: Alberto Del Rio trashed Big Show's tour bus before sliming him. On commentary, Lawler called it hilarious, saying everyone was laughing about it.

Earlier Today: Alex Riley and Yoshi Tatsu were shown trying to force a conversation. They mocked Big Show looking like an idiot, then Big Show barged in and smashed both men. Raw abruptly cut to break with the visual of Riley sprawled out on the backstage floor.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back in the arena, Big Show's music played to bring out Show dressed in a suit. Cole and Lawler sold concern as Show angrily marched to the ring with eyes on Alberto Del Rio this Sunday with the World Title on the line. Lawler said he thinks Del Rio will regret some of the things he's done to Big Show come Sunday. In the ring, Matt Striker walked up to Show for an interview. "Big Show, do you feel ---" Show interrupted with a giant punch to the face.

[Q6] Show brushed aside that exertion of energy before looking down to the mat. Show surveyed the crowd and tried to collect himself before grimacing and pacing the ring some more. Show held his head up, blinked, closed his eyes, and went back to pacing. Deep thoughts. Deep thoughts mixed with anger. Show scratched his head, then paced the ring again. Show raised his finger as if to offer a stern lecture, but no words came out. Show breathed deeply without blinking, then just slammed down the mic and left the ring. Show, with a big frown on his face, marched to the ring. Lawler said Show was so angry that he felt like he couldn't say anything that would get past the censors.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler sold concern for Del Rio on Sunday before re-visiting the Hall of Fame class this year. Cole excitedly introduced last week's "historical announcement" on Bruno Sammartino joining the 2013 HOF class. After the video aired, WWE returned live to the crowd standing and applauding. Cole then plugged Bruno and Triple H conducting an interview on WWE's website discussing the induction.

WWE transitioned from Bruno to The Rock, who will be on Raw tonight to address his title defense against Punk on Sunday.

[Commercial Break]

Back in the ring, Zack Ryder was in the ring fist-pumping ahead of his match tonight. Cole noted Ryder's "Hoeski" just cracked the Top 100 on iTunes, then Jack Swagger was introduced. Swagger was followed by a man who looked like Dutch Mantell with a lot of facial hair. Lawler gave Dutch a new WWE stage-name, wondering why he's out here with Swagger.


Swagger quickly went after Ryder before WWE cut to a shot of Booker and Long watching this match, waiting to see if Swagger will impress them into a Chamber slot. Ryder knocked Swagger to the outside, but Swagger smashed Ryder when Ryder tried to follow up on the outside. Back in the ring, Swagger destroyed Ryder with a bucklebumb into the Patriot Act anklelock submission, which Ryder tapped out to.

[Q7] Post-match, Swagger took the mic as Dutch stood next to him. Swagger said he wants to introduce a friend of his, a native and great American. Swagger introduced him as Zeb Coulter. Coulter took the mic and said they both know what's wrong with America, but the people don't know. Coulter said he and Swagger's dad were in a bunker in Vietnam with bullets flying by their heads. Coulter said he sees a country with people who don't look or talk like him, prompting him to ask how they can get rid of them. Heavy xenophobia here. Coulter said he and Swagger know the truth. He said this is not the land of the free and people who want to cross their borders. Coulter said they will re-take this country.

WINNER: Swagger via submission at 2:32. Is this leading to Swagger and Antonio Cesaro forming some sort of group called American Reformation? Doesn't make sense to have two heels heavy on "what America should look like" speeches unless they're forming a duo. Or, perhaps in Vince McMahon's mind, he needs three-to-seven similar heels to get his point across.

Backstage: Booker T and Teddy Long conferenced on Swagger. They agreed that Swagger is on a mission, so he is in the Chamber match. Dolph Ziggler, flanked by A.J. Lee and Big E. Langston, interrupted. Ziggler said he's the man who got Jericho's contract terminated last year and Jericho does not deserve a World Title shot at WrestleMania. He then changed his mind about being in the Chamber match, saying he wants in and he wants to end Jericho. Big E. echoed Ziggler's point about wanting two future World Title shots, which caused Booker to remove his glasses. Booker said he knows another man who wants in the Chamber. Booker said whomever wins the match gets in. Ziggler asked who his opponent is. "The Big Red Machine," Booker said, drawing a glare from Ziggler and Co.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler hyped Ziggler vs. Kane tonight. Cole then provided an update on Brock Lesnar's path of destruction. Suddenly, The Miz's music interrupted Lawler. Miz came out to the ring for the next match as Lawler said he's glad to see Miz healthy after the beating he took from Lesnar last week. Cole said it's Miz vs. Cody Rhodes up next.

[Commercial Break]

Speaking of Antonio Cesaro, Cesaro was ringside for commentary on The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes up next. Cole then plugged Chris Jericho bringing back Highlight Reel on Wednesday's Main Event. His guest will be MizTV host The Miz.


On commentary, Cesaro quickly heeled on Miz for representing everything that is wrong with America. In the ring, Rhodes stomped away on Miz as some vocal males chanted, "Goldust" toward Rhodes. Suddenly, the match moved to the floor, where Cesaro got involved. Miz big-booted Cesaro when Cesaro approached him, then Cesaro recovered and smashed Miz into the ringpost. This drew a DQ from the ref.

Post-match, Cesaro unbuttoned his jacket before grabbing Miz and airplane-spinning him repeatedly into the barricade, causing Miz's back and shoulders to smash into the guardrail six or seven times. Lawler said he doesn't think he's seen anything like that before. Cesaro then grabbed his U.S. Title belt and trash-talked the crowd on the way out.

WINNER: Miz via DQ at 3:04. When do Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff return to WWE TV to join Swagger, Zed, and Cesaro doing the same routine?

[Q8] Video Package: Road to WrestleMania Reading Challenge. Natalya and Brodus Clay were shown talking to kids at a local school. Alicia Fox was also spotlighted.

Live tonight: WWE champion The Rock will be here. Plus, The Shield addresses Cena and Co.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Primo and Epico's music was playing. Cole relayed a message that Primo and Epico have decided they need to return to greatness they once had. When was this? Brodus Clay then came out with Cameron and Naomi in cheerleader outfits. Clarification: Cameron and Naomi were in the cheerleader outfits, not Clay, who was the joined by Tensai, who also should be noted was not in a cheerleader outfit this week. Maybe next week.

6 -- PRIMO & EPICO (w/Rosa Mendes) vs. BRODUS CLAY & TENSAI

Tensai started things off against Primo, who tried to bodyslam Tensai, but Tensai blocked, did a dance move, and headbutted Primo. Clay then tagged in and suplexed Primo across the ring. Epico tried to get some of Clay, but Clay slammed him in the corner before delivering a big splash. Tensai then tagged in and big-butt-splashed Epico for the pin and the win.

Post-match, Clay, Cameron, and Naomi danced in the ring before Tensai reluctantly joined in. Suddenly, Rosa Mendes entered the ring to get in Naomi's face. Naomi dumped her to the outside, then Cameron hit a baseball slide kick through the ropes. Clay, Tensai, Cameron, and Naomi then resumed their dancing in the ring.

WINNERS: Clay & Tensai at 1:10.

From dancing big-men to The Shield, who Cole said are up next to address consequences for the WWE locker room.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Lawler plugged the official theme song of Elimination Chamber.

The Shield Speaks

Two minutes before the top of the hour, a Shield sympathizer in the production truck played The Shield's music. Roman Reigns emerged through the crowd, followed by Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Lawler said he would like to see Cena, Sheamus, Ryback, and the rest of the locker room confront "these three jerks." In the ring, Ambrose angrily declared they are The Shield. He then noted their sole purpose to shield WWE from atrocities, like the ones Cena commits every day. Ambrose said Cena had the audacity to threaten The Shield, then handed the mic to Rollins.

[Q9 -- third hour] Rollins said when The Shield wants to deliver a message, they do it through action. Roman Reigns spoke third. He said it's very simple: "If you want us, come and get us!" Ambrose turned his body and casually waved toward the stage asking them to come on down. Ambrose said it's typical for them: an empty threat from three empty individuals. Reigns said they can bring the whole world, but they will still be standing. Rollins said John failed. "You failed last week, you fail every day when you get up and exist, and this Sunday at Elimination Chamber, it will be no different," Rollins said. "You will fail again, John Cena."

Ambrose said Cena is a failure. He said Cena smiles the day away in his little bubble without any consequences. It's the "John Cena Problem," Ambrose said. Reigns said Cena has been the problem for the past decade. "We, The Shield, are the solution," Reigns said to boos. Rollins said whether it was Cena's intention or not, the standard he set paved the way for Sheamus and Ryback - an entire generation to believe in The System. Rollins said this Sunday they have an opportunity to rectify a decade of injustice in one fell swoop.

Ambrose said they walk in together, they walk out together, and Cena & Co. might not walk out alive. Ambrose, who is unbelievably convincing on the mic, vowed to make them drown on Sunday. "Believe in The Shield!" Reigns shouted. Ambrose said it's their last chance. Lawler said he's surprised that no one has come out here to confront them. The crowd chanted for Cena as Rollins taunted the crowd, asking where their hero is.

Suddenly, the lights went out. When the lights came back on, Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback were in the ring, "turning the tables" on Shield's lights-out gimmick, but not very honorably. After some mid-ring brawling, Cena and Co. knocked Shield out of the ring and into the crowd. Cena battled Rollins up the arena steps into the crowd before Rollins ran away. The camera focused on Cena standing tall as his music played. WWE then showed Ryback and Sheamus chasing Shield away into the crowd, too. Cole said this is just a taste of what's happening on Sunday. Ryback then led the crowd in another "Feed Me More" chant.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler shifted the focus away from Shield vs. Team Cena to Punk and Heyman, which seemed like it happened two episodes ago on a three-hour show. WWE replayed Heyman teasing a resignation in the opening segment until Punk convinced him to stay and see him take the WWE Title from Rock at the Chamber PPV.

Later tonight: The Rock addresses Punk.

Backstage: Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez were shown walking down the hallway. Ricardo had his Mexican flag bucket and Del Rio, smiling, re-arranged his towel as Cole plugged Del Rio in action next.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Damien Sandow was introduced for the next match. On-stage, Sandow asked for his music to be silenced so he could speak. Sandow marched to the ring while noting the "shameful" Grammys are behind them, but WWE is in the heart of country music tonight. "That is not a good thing," Sandow said in response to cheers. Sandow said this city represents songs about dead dogs, pick-up trucks, and overly-sensitive ignoramuses who get their hearts broken. He said he is here to save the people from their self-imposed ignorance.

And, to save country music...Alberto Del Rio. Ricardo Rodriguez came out on-stage to introduce Del Rio, who marched to the ring confidently staring down Sandow. Del Rio handed off his towel to a ringside fan, then hit the ring.


7 -- World Hvt. champion ALBERTO DEL RIO vs. DAMIEN SANDOW -- non-title match

Sandow started the match with a neckbreaker, then Elbow of Disdain. Sandow did too much posing, though, allowing Del Rio to make a comeback. Del Rio nailed a standing sidekick to the jaw, but Sandow kicked out. Del Rio then led the crowd in a "Si, Si, Si!" chant that led to him slapping on the cross arm-breaker. Sandow quickly tapped out, giving Del Rio a decisive win.

WINNER: Del Rio via submission at 1:18. Sandow is stuck in that role of being an "impressive opponent" for a top face to beat decisively.

Post-match, Del Rio said he saw Big Show give the best promo of his life earlier. "You didn't say anything!" he mockingly said. Del Rio said the time for talking, hotel rooms, and parking lots is over. He said once he finishes Show this Sunday, he can go anywhere he wants in his tour bus. Del Rio said he, on the other hand, only has one place to go. Del Rio and Ricardo turned and looked toward the WrestleMania sign in the arena before shouting, "WrestleMania!"

Still to come: The Rock addresses his WWE Title match on Sunday. Lawler said he still doesn't understand why McMahon agreed to Heyman's stipulation for the title match.

Backstage: IC champion Wade Barrett was shown walking down the hallway ahead of facing Kofi Kingston yet again. Suddenly, Bo Dallas jumped Barrett and blasted him into arena props. Refs had to pull Bo away from Barrett, who sold the effects leading to break.

[Commercial Break]

Vignette: More of Johnny Curtis as Fandango. "Fahn...dang...oh," he said with an echo. Lawler said he got his wish to see more of Fandango.

In-ring: Kofi Kingston was introduced for the next match as Cole welcomed Lawler home to Tennessee tonight. Cole branded the latest installment of Kofi vs. Barrett as a "renewal of a great rivalry," which led to a video package from the final Raw of 2012 when Barrett captured the IC Title from Kingston. Back live, Kofi sold determination, wanting revenge on Barrett for that night. Barrett was then introduced, and Wade came out selling injuries from Bo's attack.

8 -- IC champion WADE BARRETT vs. KOFI KINGSTON -- non-title match

Kofi quickly kicked Barrett in the mid-section to take advantage of Barrett's weakened state. Barrett, angered, kicked Kofi down to a seated position in the corner before delivering a knock-down clothesline. Barrett followed with a submission as Cole brought up British Bulldog, saying Barrett idolized him growing up. Kofi suddenly dropped Barrett to the mat with a flying splash to Barrett's back for a nearfall. Kofi then came off the top with a cross-body splash for a two count. Kofi missed with a third flying attack, but Barrett avoided and nailed Winds of Change for a nearfall. Lawler continued to focus on Barrett's jaw, asking if he's injured.

[Q11] Barrett measured Kofi for the Bullhammer, but Kofi avoided. Barrett then ducked out of the ring and trapped Kofi inside the ring apron. Barrett followed with an awkwardly-executed elbow to the head as Kofi was trapped inside the apron. The audience and announcers barely reacted since they couldn't see the elbow connect with Kofi since Kofi's head was underneath the apron. Barret then re-entered the ring and pinned Kofi.

WINNER: Barrett at 3:06. The finish sounded good on paper, but not so much in execution. As for Kofi, he's stuck in the Damien Sandow role on the face side.

Up Next: High-stakes match between Kane and Dolph Ziggler - winner gets the final Chamber slot.

DVD vignette: Hogan, Flair, Sting, Nash, Hall, Mysterio, Hart, Savage, Jericho, Booker T, and Goldberg. It's the Best of WCW Nitro Volume 2. No mention of DDP, who was included in the cover-art that followed the voice-over man reading off the list of top stars.

[Commercial Break]

Video Package: Randy Orton. What makes him crazy? IED, of course. This was a generic plug for Smackdown on Friday nights.

Back live, Cole plugged Orton vs. Mark Henry this Friday on Smackdown. No mention of The Rock being on Smackdown this week.

In-ring: Kane was introduced for the default main event. Dolph Ziggler then came out with A.J. Lee and Big E. Langston to face Kane. WWE cut to a shot of Kane staring down A.J., his former love-interest last year. No mention from the announcers, though, since it's ancient history in WWE's universe.

9 -- WWE tag champion KANE vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/A.J. Lee and Big E. Langston) -- Winner receives final Chamber match slot

Kane and Ziggler locked up as Lawler noted it's Valentine's Day this week. They discussed what Kane does for V-Day before WWE cut backstage to show Booker and Long talking while watching the match. Cole re-stressed Booker snapping at Long earlier in the show as Ziggler controlled the action in the ring. Cole and Lawler then tried to figure out who A.J. was with last year at Valentine's Day. This finally brought the announcers to discuss Kane and A.J.'s past relationship. Kane then scared Ziggler out of the ring, and Raw cut to break at 2:00.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Kane and Ziggler resumed their battle mid-ring. Ziggler big-booted Kane, but Kane responded with a big right hand that sent Ziggler bouncing to the floor. On the outside, Kane and Big E. shared a moment, but no blows. Ziggler then smashed Kane into the barricade after Big E.'s presence distracted Kane.

[Q12] Ziggler waited for Kane to try to re-enter the ring and promptly delivered a neckbreaker. Ziggler followed with nine elbow drops as some of the vocal males chanted along. The general crowd then tried to rally Kane, who walked into a leaping DDT from Ziggler. Kane came back with a big boot to the face for a nearfall, but Ziggler responded with a sleeperhold attempt. Kane flung him off, though, but then Ziggler sprung on him with the Fameasser for a two count.

At 10:00, A.J. hopped on the ring apron to distract Kane, then confusion ensued that cost Ziggler, who turned around and ate a chokeslam from Kane. Kane covered Ziggler for the win as A.J. held her head in frustration. On the outside, A.J. helped Ziggler out of the ring as Big E. angrily stared down Kane. WWE replayed the finish, then returned to a live shot of Kane celebrating in the ring.

WINNER: Kane at 10:19 to qualify for the Chamber match. It's Bryan, Orton, Swagger, Kane, Henry, and Jericho.

Up Next: The Rock addresses C.M. Punk and the WWE Title match on Sunday.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Cole noted they are in Nashville tonight awaiting The Rock's arrival. Cole then fed to a video package on the Elimination Chamber match. The video included animation showing the structure being formed, as well as clips of wrestlers in past Chamber matches.

The Rock Closes Raw

Back live, The Rock's music played to a big reaction before Rock walked out on-stage to an even bigger reaction. Rock, holding the WWE Title belt, went from side-to-side on-stage acknowledging the crowd before bouncing up and down at center-stage. Rock then marched to the ring as Cole called it an explosion in Nashville. Rock hit the ring, posed, looked toward the Mania sign, entered the ring, and posed in the opposite corner. Huge "Rocky, Rocky" chant once his music stopped one minute before the top of the hour. Rock opened by saying tonight is a very special night. He said they're sold out and he's waited a very long time to say this. "Finally...The Rock has come back to Nash-ville."

[Q13 -- over-run] Pause for another "Rocky, Rocky" chant at the top of the hour. Rock said Nashville is a very special city to him. Why? Rock said they're going to have some fun because it's Story Time with The Rock. He said this is a true story. In 1987, a 15-year-old Rock and his family moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Rock said he signed up for high school, but he wasn't any ordinary 15-year-old because he was already a big dude. Rock said he kicked puberty's candyass, but got no play from the girls because they thought he was an undercover cop.

So, at 15-years-old, he hung out in a bar listening to country music. In walked someone magical - not Jeff Jarrett and not Willie Nelson, but a crackhead. Rock said this crackhead asked if anyone wanted to buy a car. He said this crackhead sold him a car for a few bucks, it turned out there was a crackhead in the back of the car, and then he determined this car might be stolen. Rock said he did the most responsible thing he could do at 15-years-old - ditched "that b----" in a Burger King parking lot at 2:00 a.m. and walked to Tootsie's Lounge. During this story, Cole and Lawler cackled to themselves to sell this story.

Rock said there are two lessons learned: don't ever buy a car from a crackhead and don't be like Rock at 15. He said be like Rock at 25 when he had his first match at the Nashville Fairgrounds, all with the dream of becoming WWE champion. Rock said that's what he is today and that's what he will be after Elimination Chamber on Sunday.

Suddenly, Cult of Personality interrupted to bring out Punk and Paul Heyman on-stage. Rock cracked a joke about them re-creating a love scene from "Twilight" as Cole and Lawler cackled some more. Rock then told Heyman that he and McMahon can stack the deck against him, but he welcomes it. Rock told Punk that he's going to beat his punk-ass this Sunday at Elimination Chamber and if he walks down the ramp, he'll do it all after Nashville.

On-stage, Punk consulted with Heyman on their move as Rock removed his t-shirt in the ring. Rock bounced up and down like Lesnar before Punk stopped in the entranceramp. Heyman told Punk that he has his back, then Punk pivoted and hit the ring. Rock landed big right hand blows before Punk turned it around and landed punches to the mid-section. Rock then intercepted Punk off the ropes and delivered a spinebuster. Rock wanted the People's Elbow, but Heyman tripped Rock from the outside. Rock then stumbled back into Punk, who delivered Go 2 Sleep center-ring. Heyman sold shock and excitement as he soaked in that turn of events. Cole said Heyman should have resigned and gone away. Punk then scooped up the WWE Title belt and held it over Rock as the crowd chanted, "Rocky, Rocky." Punk surveyed Rock's condition, then grabbed the title belt and left the ring with Heyman. Back in the ring, Rock sold gasping for air to sell the effects of the GTS.

On-stage, Punk took the mic and said Story Time is over. Punk said he wants Rock to understand that every time Rock wants to bring it, he's just going to take it. Punk slammed down the mic, then celebrated on-stage with possession of the title belt. A graphic flashed on the screen plugging the Chamber PPV this Sunday before WWE cut to a shot of Rock struggling to get back to his feet. Raw went off the air 11 minutes past the top of the hour.

OF NOTE: No Undertaker and no stipulation added to Shield vs. Team Cena at the PPV. Apparently Shield will be expected to tag in and out within five seconds, adhere to standard tag team rules, and do other non-Shield things.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This would have been a very, very good two-hour Raw building to the Chamber PPV on Sunday, but when Raw is stretched out over three hours, it's impossible for WWE to deliver a great show that hits the high points without being watered down by filler. They just don't have the roster or a disciplined approach to knock out three hours. The lack of discipline applies to authority figures, especially Vince McMahon since WWE never took the time to explain why McMahon agreed to stack the deck against Rock. And, Rock only mentioned it in passing. Was McMahon trying to over-compensate for re-starting Rock-Punk at the Rumble? Was he loopy on pain meds after Lesnar took him out two weeks ago on Raw? Did they just need a reason to stack the deck against Rock and couldn't think of a logical reason? And, on another note, did Lesnar give McMahon amnesia since he was going to fire Heyman on Raw two weeks ago, and this week he allowed Heyman to make a stipulation for a huge WWE Title match before WrestleMania? Just way too many inconsistencies with authority figures.

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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.

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He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)


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