5 YRS AGO – Keller’s WWE Raw Report (2-12-13): Heyman and Punk promo opens show, says “In the land of the McMahons, perception is reality,” plus Ryback, Cody, Swagger, Miz

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

C.M. Punk (artist Grant Gould © PWTorch)

This report was originally published five years ago this week…

FEBRUARY 11, 2013

[Q1] -The show opened with a video clip of the show-closing angle last week with John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback presenting a united front against The Shield.

(WK Reax: It’s a small thing, but vital, that WWE did last week when they had other wrestlers step onto the stage. They did nothing but keep The Shield from running away. It was, otherwise, three-on-three, thus a fair fight – especially using “WWE Math.”)

Then the video package hyped the C.M. Punk vs. Rock title rematch.

-They went live to the ring where Paul Heyman stood. Michael Cole introduced the show and said 13,607 WWE fans were there live.

(WK Reax: According to ex-WWE writers I’ve interviewed on the PWTorch Livecast, Vince McMahon doesn’t like the term “fans” any more than he likes the word “wrestling.” That’s why usually people in the crowd are called “members of the WWE Universe.” It jumped out that Cole called them fans. I’ll have to pay attention now to whether that term is used a lot or it was a slip-up by Cole.)

Heyman began, “Ladies and gentleman, my name is Paul Heyman.” After some boos, Heyman pleaded, “Just let me get through this, okay?” He said this isn’t how he envisioned things going down, but it’s something he’s compelled to do. He said, “Tonight is the last time you’re ever going to see Paul Heyman.” The fans erupted in cheers.

He said he never plays the victim card. He said whatever he has done in life he has done with passion, and usually those passions end up betraying him. He said for seven-and-a-half years of his life he sacrificed everything – his personal life, his parents’ fortune – to bring fans the “single most hard-hitting, the single-most entertaining product in the history of professional wrestling and sports entertainment, and that vision that I had was called E-C-W.”

He said he came to WWE and saw the most physically gifted rookie in the history of the industry and he sacrificed and gave of himself with great passion and vision, he turned that rookie into The Next Big Thing, “a man you know today as Brock Lesnar.”

He said years later he saw a man he thought could eclipse even Bruno Sammartino’s reign as WWE Champion, who would headline WrestleManias, who would carry WWE into the future – not just the short-term future, but the long-term future. He said that man should still be the reigning, defending WWE Champion – C.M. Punk.

(WK Reax: Punk claims he still is reigning and defending champion, despite not possessing the physical belt. Heyman’s not on board with that, apparently.)

He said he can see in the future, and something really bad is going to happen here. He said that “Sword of Damocles” is hanging over his head and will land not just on him, but also everyone around him, including Punk. He said Punk needs to be focused and understand that he is going to once again be the WWE Champion, and he has become a distraction because of the obsession backstage that the McMahons have with him. He said the sins of the mentor will befall upon his protege. “And that’s why tonight I am tendering my resignation.”

Heyman complained that the fans didn’t show any compassion for him after he poured his heart and soul out to them. He said all he sees is cold-hearted callousness.

(Quotebook – Paul Heyman: “I have as much compassion for your pathetic lives and your problems as you do for me. The one thing I won’t miss on Monday nights is the WWE Universe. Do you see what you drive me to? Are you proud of yourselves?”)

He said he refuses to stand in the way of Punk getting back what is his. He said he’s the best friend he ever had and he loves him and he will not stand in his way. He said it is with that statement that he tells them that he regrets that he can’t stand out there with Punk and celebrate his 455th day as WWE Champion on Sunday when he defeats Rock, and it is time for him to say “good bye.”

Punk’s music then played. Heyman shook his head and stared ahead, not looking at Punk coming to the ring. When Punk entered the ring, he asked him what he was doing. Heyman said McMahon believes he paid people off to interfere on his behalf and he had something to do with Lesnar, which is not true, but that’s his perception. Punk said he wouldn’t let him do resign. He said the people admire him and look up to him, just like he does. “Listen, there are a lot of Paul Heyman guys out there,” he said.

Heyman said, “In the land of the McMahons, perception is reality.” He said if he thinks what Vince did at the Royal Rumble was screwing with him, imagine what he does next. He told Punk not to remember him as a martyr, but instead as a friend. “I gotta go. You gotta let me go,” he said. Punk said no. “I’m in the way,” Heyman said. Punk said on Sunday, this bad dream they’re living in goes back to normal. He said he will beat The Rock, and he insisted Heyman would be in the corner of the champ.

Heyman absorbed Punk’s resolve and confidence, then said, “You are 100 percent right, and beat The Rock you shall. And I will be there Sunday, and I will witness greatness before me. You are not only a gift from the heavens, but this Sunday you will be the reigning and defending WWE Champion.” Heyman then hugged Punk. They cried in each other’s arms. A teared up Heyman said over and over, “You are the best in the world, the best in the world.”

(Quotebook – Michael Cole: “Does that mean he’s not resigning.”)

(Quotebook – Jerry Lawler: “I honestly think that Paul Heyman just tried to upstage The Pope.”)

(Quotebook – Michael Cole: “This is the most ridiculous love-fest I’ve ever been a part of. At least The Pope went through with his retirement.”)

-Cole hyped that The Rock would address that segment and more later on Raw.

-They showed Mark Henry marching toward the entrance tunnel. Lawler said he was coming out next. [c]

[Q2] -WWE Fact: Raw was the most socially active show last week, beating NBA and NHL.

(1) Mark Henry (w/Natalya, Hornswoggle) beat The Great Khali. Khali’s ring entrance was joined at the very end of his dancing. They showed clips of Henry’s dominance lately.

(WK Reax: “That’s what I do!” is going to sell t-shirts. It’s a great catch-phrase. I’m not even sure WWE and Henry fully realize it yet. His delivery is money. There is not a more believable act in pro wrestling right now than Henry. Bully Ray as a heel in TNA last year was the last person to come this close, and of course Punk is right there, too, in the mix, as a believable confident heel. Henry really scares me, though, in a way that takes me back to watching wrestling as a kid and being scared of Sheik Adnon El Kaissey when he came to the AWA hell-bent on taking the World Title back to Iraq.)

Khali opened the match on offense, bashing Henry with his forearms and driving him into the corner. Henry quickly turned the momentum around and splashed Khali in the corner, clotheslined him, and powerslammed him for a sudden decisive win.

(WK Reax: I know WWE doesn’t see this as an “even match-up” and doesn’t believe fans see it as a big deal, but to make the Henry win over Khali in two minutes mean more, I wish they acted like “promoters” instead of “presenters” and hyped the hell out of this at the start of the show, tell the story to viewers that Henry’s been on a tear and Khali is a giant who just might be big enough to stop him. Then when Henry won, it would have meant more, or at least as much as it possibly could.)

-Afterward Hornswoggle entered the ring to check on Khali. Henry was leaving ringside when he saw Hornswoggle. He returned to the ring and powerslammed him. “What does that prove?” asked Lawler. Henry then shouted, “That’s what I do!” Lawler said after seeing that, his money is on Henry at the Chamber.

(WK Reax: So is mine.)

-Cole hyped Cena & Sheamus & Ryback vs. 3MB later on Raw.

-A commercial aired hyping Elimination Chamber focused on Rock-Punk. [c]

[Q3] -They showed the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville as Cole hyped Rock arriving later tonight.

-Booker T and Teddy Long discussed Henry’s win over a former nine-time World Champion in Randy Orton, saying that impressed them. Chris Jericho walked up to them and said he is a six-time former champion who has been in more Chamber matches than anyone else in the company. He said it makes sense for “business and prestige” to put him in the match. Long said he agreed with Jericho. Booker said everyone who got into the match had to impress him and the WWE Universe. Long whispered an idea to Booker. Booker said, “That idea sucks.” Booker then told Jericho that if he can beat someone who is already in the Chamber, he’s in. He said Daniel Bryan is his opponent. Jericho said he’s good, “with good whiskers, too.” He called him Daniel Beard. He then imitated Booker’s “five-time, five-time” spiel saying he’ll become a “seven-time, seven-time” champion. Jericho hopped away staring at his hand. Long smiled. Booker wasn’t amused.

-Vickie Guerrero told someone on her cell phone that Sunday’s PPV will be the best ever. In walked Heyman. Vickie said she didn’t have time for him. Heyman told her to make time for him. He asked for a special stip to be added to the Punk vs. Rock match. Vickie said she wouldn’t do that without Vince’s approval. He said she’s the boss with McMahon gone. McMahon called her on her phone. Heyman asked to talk to him.

She put Vince on speaker. Heyman told Vince he is sorry for what Brock did and what a Herculean effort that he’s surely making at rehab. Vince told him to shut up. He asked Heyman to tell him what he had in mind for the stipulation. Heyman suggested Rock is likely to try to win by DQ or count out, so if that happens, the title should go back to Punk. Heyman said he’d do anything to get that stipulation. Vince said if he puts it in writing, he has his special stipulation. Heyman thanked him and said, “I’ve always thought of you like a father-figure.” Vince hung up on Heyman.

(WK Reax: And like all cell phones, as soon as Vince hung up, immediately a dial tone could be heard. Wait, that’s only on TV.)

-Daniel Bryan made his ring entrance. [c]

-A Fandango vignette aired.

(WK Reax: This one did not linger on a close-up of the bulge in his crotch area. They started at his abdomen and panned up from there.)

(2) Chris Jericho pinned Daniel Bryan in 11:00. Cole noted Jericho’s last World Title win was in 2010 in the Elimination Chamber match. They showed Long and Booker watching on a monitor backstage. Bryan ducked a Jericho dive over the ropes. Bryan then dove onto Jericho at ringside. Both were slow to get up as they cut to a break. [c…]

[Q4] […c] At 7:00 Jericho caught Bryan diving at him and went for the Walls of Jericho. Bryan escaped, but Jericho dropped Bryan and landed a Lionsault. Jericho was slow to get up, though. Jericho knocked Bryan off balance as he climbed to the top rope. He then tried to superplex Bryan, but Bryan punched himself free and shoved Jericho to the floor. Bryan then hit a top rope headbutt.

(WK Reax: For many reasons, it’s disappointing to see that still allowed by WWE.)

At 9:00 Jericho applied the Walls of jericho. Bryan escaped by leveraging Jericho into the No Lock. Jericho escaped and went for the Walls, but Bryan flipped out of it and then round kicked Jericho in the head. That led to a believable near fall at 10:00. Bryan went into a series of kicks, but Jericho surprised Bryan with a Codebreaker for a sudden win.

(WK Reax: Very good 11-minute match. Crisp action, good timing nice nearfalls and big move reversals, with a strong clean win with ramifications.)

-Cole updated the Elimination Chamber entrants: Henry, Orton, Jericho, Bryan. [c]

(3) John Cena & Sheamus & Ryback beat 3MB in 3:00. As 3MB danced in the ring, Cole said they were disappointed they didn’t receive an award at the Grammys last night. Sheamus’s ring entrance was first. No surprise. Then Ryback, then Cena.

[Q5] (Quotebook – Jerry Lawler: “Heath Slater is so full of himself, he’s been making fun of all kinds of Superstars. I saw him earlier today and he was making fun of Elvis Presley. He said he sings better than Elvis Presley. He said he dances better than Elvis Presley. I told him I wish he went to the bathroom like Elvis Presley.”)

(WK Reax: That was a long way to travel for that punchline. Cole, rightfully, groaned a bit.)

Slater acted obnoxious in front of Ryback, playing air guitar. Ryback press him and dropped him behind his back. Sheamus tagged in, as did McIntyre. McIntyre acted obnoxious and Sheamus beat him up. Cena and Mahal tagged in. Mahal acted obnoxious and slapped Cena. Cena took him down and set up the You Can’t See Me routine, beginning with the fist drop. Slater and McIntyre interfered. A six-way brawl brook out in the ring. The babyfaces delivered they finishers to the heels all at once, and Cena scored the official pin on Mahal.

Afterward, Ryback said this Sunday is a day he waited a long time for. He said it’s the day he will feast on the Shield. Sheamus said even though they’re facing The Shield on Sunday, he suggested the three of them get their own justice tonight. Cena took the mic and got a mixed reaction. He acknowledged the boos with his body language and facial expressions. Then he said The Shield would be there tonight, and he wondered why they’d leave themselves vulnerable. He said it’s a bold choice, but also a bad one. He said The Shield meets the sword and justice meets the law. “You want some, come get some!” he shouted.

-They went to Cole and Lawler at ringside. They threw to the Big Show-Alberto Del Rio angle with Show’s bus on Friday. After the clip, they showed Big Show beating up Yoshi Tatsu and Alex Riley because they were laughing about what happened to Show on Smackdown. Riley said, “After that was over, he looked like the world’s largest fattest traffic cone.” Tatsu laughed. Show beat them both up with KO punches.

[Q6] -Big Show made his ring entrance. Matt Striker sheepishly approached him and asked, “Big Show, do you feel…” At that moment, Show KO punched him.

Show held the mic and said nothing for at least a minute. The crowd grew restless and some shouted “boring.” Show looked like he was having trouble finding the right words to speak. He kept coming close to saying something, but then stopped and just became more silently enraged. He finally dropped the mic and stormed to the back.

-After the match, Lawler said that shows no one is safe in the path of The Big Show. He said it as if he was talking about Show tipping over someone’s soda, not Show delivering a devastating KO punch to one of their colleagues who was just going about his job.

(WK Reax: Does that count as a babyface turn? It’s more of a babyface turn than Miz and Del Rio went through. On a serious note, shouldn’t the announcers – Cole and Lawler – of all people act slightly outraged that Show punched their colleague? Striker isn’t a wrestler and he did nothing wrong. Cole and Lawler acting like it was no big deal at all undercuts Show’s ability to get any heel heat for that move.)

-Cole and Lawler threw to the Bruno Sammartino video package that also aired last week. Cole then plugged a WWE.com interview with Triple H and Bruno Samartino. He called it “emotional” and “a must-read.” [c]

(4) Jack Swagger pinned Zack Ryder in 2:00. Zebakiah Coulter (Dutch Mantel) accompanied Swagger. Lawler said he is crazy and told Cole he is before his time. Lawler has a ton of history with Mantel in Memphis, Tenn. in his old wrestling territory.

(WK Reax: At first I thought it was Mick Foley from a distance with the beard and hunched over stride.)

Swagger gave Zack Ryder a nasty belly-to-belly on the floor at ringside. Swagger lifted Ryder for a power bomb but threw him into the corner turnbuckle, then he power bombed him, then got a tap out with the Patriot Act ankelock.

[Q7] -Swagger introduced Zeb to the fans afterward. Zeb then asked what is wrong with America. He said years ago Americans like him were in Vietnam with bullets being whizzed past their heads, but now he sees a country he doesn’t even recognize. “I see people with faces not like mine, people who I don’t even know what they’re saying, they can’t talk to me. I wonder, where did all of these people come from. Most important, I think, how do we get rid of them. We The People.” He said Real Americans like him and Swagger know the truth because this is the land of the free and the home of the brave, not the land of the greed and the home to whomever want to cross our borders. He said, “It’s our country and our land to protect and defend because we are real patriots, Real Americans, and remember We The People.”

(WK Reax: Wow, that was walking a dangerous line. Dangerous for poor Dutch Mantel, who’s got a paycheck coming, but is going to potentially get a real intense kind of backlash heat. He also will be one of those heels who some fans nod along with and cheer because they agree with his viewers, although hopefully the tone and nastiness of his expression of those views turns off even those fans. It sure seems like they’re setting up Swagger as a challenger to Alberto Del Rio. Will they elevate Swagger with a Chamber win so he faces Del Rio at WrestleMania, or will they prime him for a post-WM feud with him? Will he go through Sin Cara, Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, etc. first?)

-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.

-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.

(5) Miz beat Cody Rhodes via DQ in 3:00. Antonio Cesaro did heel commentary during the match. 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. When Miz and Cody fought at ringside, Cesaro went after Miz. Miz gave him a boot, then threw Cody back into the ring. Cesaro then shoved Miz into the ring post. The ref called for the bell. Cesaro swung Miz into the barricade afterward over and over, to his left and then to his right. Lawler said he had never seen that before. It was pretty cool looking, actually.

[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. [c]
-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 that exactly?

(6) Tensai & Brodus Clay beat Primo & Epico in 1:00. Clay and Tensai almost collided mid-match. They’re selling the idea they aren’t fully trusting of each other yet. Lawler said what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas “and on Facebook.” He said Tensai in lingerie has been all over Facebook and Twitter.

Afterward Tensai and Rosa Mendes argued, so Clay’s dancers knocked her to the floor. [c]

-Two minutes before the top of the hour, an apparent 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.

-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.

(WK Reax: The Shield lost something being live without the video cuts and special effects. It wasn’t bad, but it felt unpolished and a bit clunky and orchestrated as opposed to chaotic and natural. They will get better, but they weren’t in a groove on this occasion.)

-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.

-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. [c]

-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.

[Q10] (7) Alberto Del Rio beat Damien Sandow in 1:18. Sandow walked to the ring discussing the “shame of last night’s Grammy Awards.” He said being in the headquarters of country music “is not a good thing.” He said that town glorifies songs about dead dogs, broken down pick-up trucks, and overly-sensitive ignoramuses getting their hearts broken. He recommended instead fans listen to Beethoven and Mozart.

Sandow gave Del Rio an early neck breaker and elbow drop. Del Rio avoided a charge in the corner, though, and then took Sandow down with two clotheslines and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Lawler called Sandow an obnoxious snob. Del Rio super kicked Sandow for a near fall. He followed up with the cross armbreaker for the tap out win. Lawler said Sandow lived to fight another day.

-After the 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!”

-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. [c]

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) Wade Barrett beat Kofi Kingston in 3:00. 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.

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. [c]

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

(WK Reax: It astonishes me that WWE doesn’t do more to create anticipation for Smackdown each week during Raw. It’s like there’s a WWE team of writers who don’t want Smackdown to succeed so they do the bare minimum each week to draw attention to the show.)

(9) Kane pinned Dolph Ziggler (w/A.J. Lee, Big E. Langston) to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match in 10:00. 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. [c]

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. [c]

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.

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.”

(WK Reax: It’s amazing how much better Rock’s act plays when he’s not being undercut and mocked by a fellow babyface each week.)

[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.

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.

Note: James Caldwell contributed greatly to details on the second half of this report since my DVR was victim to the new USA Network policy of breaking Raw into three separate recordable segments. So I saw the first 90 minutes on cable, but only WWE.com’s edited clips of the rest of the segments in the second half of the show.

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS FIVE YEARS AGO FLASHBACK: 5 YRS AGO – WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT (2-8-13): Orton, Henry, Booker T, Kofi, Cody, Titus, Drew, Khali, Kane, Big Show, JBL

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