5 YRS AGO – WWE Raw Report (3-25-13): Team Hell No, Punk-Undertaker and Rock-Cena WrestleMania hype, plus Jericho vs. Ziggler, Henry vs. both Usos

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

Mark Henry (art credit Grant Gould (c) PWTorch)


The following was published on PWTorch.com five years ago this week…

WWE Raw TV Results
March 25, 2013 – Episode #1,034
Live from Philadelphia, Pa.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

Raw started with a video package previewing The Rock-John Cena and Undertaker-C.M. Punk developments to come on tonight’s Raw.

Live in the arena, Michael Cole noted they are 13 days away from WrestleMania and sold-out in Philadelphia. Cult of Personality then played to bring out C.M. Punk limping out on-stage. Behind him was Paul Heyman tolding Undertaker’s urn a la Paul Bearer. Since Brock Lesnar isn’t scheduled for Raw tonight, apparently Heyman is associating with Punk tonight after Punk ran alone for several weeks.

Punk entered the ring and Heyman stood on the ring apron pointing to his eye injury at the hands of Triple H last week. Heyman then tossed the urn toward Punk, who caught it. On commentary, Cole said “many people believe” the urn represents Taker’s mythical powers, “at least symbolically.” So, they’re backing off the idea of Paul Bearer’s ashes being in the urn.

In the ring, Punk looked down to the urn and dismissed what “they” think about the urn. The crowd didn’t react since this deal seemed to come out of nowhere. Punk asked if “they” really know what “they” are talking about. Punk said “they” don’t matter because the only opinion that matters is his when it’s spoken. He said “they” are irrelevant and he is the only one who matters. Punk then said he’ll explain what he’s talking about.

Punk said Taker moved to 20-0 at last year’s WrestleMania, where it should have ended with Taker, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels skipping off into the sunset. Punk said Taker made the mistake of coming out here a few weeks ago and “pointing at my sign” to signal he wanted to wrestle at WrestleMania. Punk told the crowd to blame Undertaker for these events. He said he didn’t take the urn to disrespect Bearer, but because it means everything to Taker. He said it doesn’t mean anything to him, though, so he chucked the urn down to the mat.

Punk said Taker has nothing he wants, because he earned The Streak, but he will break it. Punk said Taker doesn’t possess any magical powers, and he made the mistake of facing him at WrestleMania. Punk riled up the crowd saying no one is better than him and he will defeat Taker at WrestleMania. “I am the one in 20 and 1,” Punk said. Punk said he’s waiting for the lights to go out and the chill to enter the arena. Punk vowed to make Taker and his Perfect Record “rest…in…peace…” Gong.

The lights went out and Taker was in the ring ready to fight. Taker unloaded on Punk with right hand blows that drove Punk into the corner as the crowd popped. Taker then kicked Punk out of the ring as Heyman picked up the “fumbled” urn and high-tailed it to the back. Punk then left the ring holding his jaw as Taker circled the ring. Punk stood on-stage and received the urn from Heyman, who freaked out as he looked toward the ring. Punk’s music then played as Taker rolled his eyes in the back of his head to signal Punk’s days are numbered.

[ JC: The idea was to give away a little physicality to show that Taker is in B.A. mode, but not give away the whole meal before WrestleMania. ]

Still to come: Cena and Rock have a Q&A hosted by a panel of WWE Legends. Up next, Fandango. Maybe he makes his in-ring debut.

[Commercial Break]

[Q2] In-ring: Back live, Michael Cole disingenuously hyped the “long-awaited” in-ring debut of Fandango. Fandango’s dancer came out on-stage to set the stage for Johnny Curtis’s entrance as Jerry Lawler noted that he has it on good authority that Fandango is great in the ring. Justin Roberts formally introduced the match as the announcers discussed the budding feud between Fandango and Chris Jericho.

Fandango and his dancer eventually entered the ring before Fandango took the mic to loud boos. Fandango tried to find his posture and breathing before gathering himself to introduce his name, but Jericho’s pyro interrupted. Jericho, dressed to wrestle, ran down to the ring and charged Fandango for a big mid-ring spear. Jericho kicked and smacked around Fandango, who then bailed from the ring to avoid further punishment. Fandango freaked out as he left the ringside area with his dancer.

Jericho’s music then played as Cole noted Jericho is scheduled to face Dolph Ziggler later tonight. Apparently that match is happening now, as Ziggler’s music played to bring out Ziggler, A.J. Lee, and Big E. Langston. Cole said he’s being told that the match is happening right now. Quick give-away of a major singles match.

1 — CHRIS JERICHO vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/A.J. Lee and Big E. Langston)

Jericho, sporting a shiner over his eye, quickly delivered offense to Ziggler, selling anger over his issue with Fandango. Jericho landed a big chop to the chest before teasing the Walls of Jericho, but Ziggler kicked him away. Jericho then tried a top-rope move and connected with a cross-body splash for a two count. Jericho asked for crowd noise as Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

During the break, Ziggler took control of the match thanks to Langston. Ziggler missed a corner attack, though, allowing Jericho to bounce the ropes and clothesline Ziggler. Jericho then came off the second rope with a double axehandle smash before nailing a running bulldog. This brought Langston to the ring apron to receive a dropkick from Jericho. Jericho tried to follow with the Walls of Jericho, but Ziggler escaped. Jericho tried a third time and applied it this time. Ziggler didn’t even try to escape, as he opted to tap out, giving Jericho a clean win.

Post-match: Langston smashed Jericho from behind, drawing big boos. Langston then scooped up Jericho and delivered his Crowd-Silencer finisher. (Not the real finisher name, but it’s the effect it has on the crowd because it’s so low-impact from a high-impact wrestler.) Big E. then shouted down at Jericho that his time is done.

WINNER: Jericho via submission at 8:54. They got more heat on Big E. and Ziggler for having Ziggler lose and Big E. deliver a post-match attack, but the finisher needs some work. WWE appears to be higher on Big E. than Ziggler, overall, by protecting Big E. and giving him the spotlight moments.

[Q3] Exit Ziggler and Co., enter Fandango and his dancer. Fandango stood over Jericho, then danced with his dancer around Jericho’s head. Fandango helped his dancer out of the ring, then pounded on Jericho with right hands. “Say my name!” Fandango said. “What’s my name?!” he shouted. The crowd responded by chanting, “You can’t wrestle.” Jericho then tried to fight back with a slap, but Fandango popped him with a kick to the face.

Fandango wasn’t done, as he hopped to the top rope, balanced himself, posed, and came off the top with a high-impact skateboard leg drop. Fandango posed over Jericho, who kind of squeezed Fandango’s leg as if it send him a message. It also sounded like Jericho told Fandango not to say anything, which PWTorch reader Scott confirms was the audio. Fandango then posed and shouted into the mic, “It’s Fandango,” which drew loud boos. Fandango left the ring as WWE replayed his attack on Jericho.

[Commercial Break]

WM29 Video: Mania is 13 days away. Because Raw was so terrible last week, it just doesn’t feel like the biggest show of the year is two weeks away.

Smackdown last Friday: Sheamus and Big Show had some issues that Randy Orton tried to sort out until The Shield complicated matters. But, they decided to come together against the common enemy and scare away Shield.

Backstage: Matt Striker asked Sheamus if he’s been able to sort out things with Show. Shield didn’t want to wait through Sheamus’s latest story and long-winded build-up to getting to the point, so they jumped Sheamus and beat him up. But, Randy Orton entered the scrap. Shield quickly beat him down until Big Show hit the scene to scatter Shield members. The Shield eventually retreated down the hallway before Show stood over Orton and Sheamus. They stood together catching their breath before Raw faded back to the arena.

In-ring: Mark Henry was introduced for a two-on-one handicap match. Henry very slowly walked out on-stage, then very slowly walked down to the ring doing his best to hide any potential leg injury from the weekend house show tour.

[Commercial Break]

[Q4] In-ring: Back from break, the Usos were in the ring to face Henry.

2 — MARK HENRY vs. THE USOS — handicap match

Henry started by tossing Uso across the ring, then Uso tagged in and took a boot to the gut. Henry suddenly ate back-to-back superkicks before Uso came off the top with a Superfly Splash, but Henry kicked out at two. Henry, angered, got to his feet and smashed Uso to the outside before delivering World’s Strongest Slam to the other Uso. Henry with the pin for the win.

Post-match: Henry inflicted more punishment to the Usos by scattering them across the ring with World’s Strongest Slams. “All day!” Henry shouted. The crowd picked up a “Feed Me More” chant before Henry slowly approached one of the Usos to deliver a big splash. “Nobody splashes me!” Henry shouted before his music played.

WINNER: Henry at 1:38. Kind of a wash. Henry looked strong and effective by the end, but there was still the visual of Henry coming off his feet two weeks before facing Ryback at Mania. Monster heels shouldn’t be leaving their feet before a huge match, even if it was to set up the “Nobody splashes me!” closing line.

Up Next: Another Champion vs. Champion give-away, this time World champ Alberto Del Rio vs. U.S. champ Antonio Cesaro.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro was introduced for the top-of-the-second-hour match. Cesaro showed off his U.S. Title belt to the crowd as Cole announced Ryback vs. 3MB in a three-on-one match for later night, with Ryback wanting to one-up Henry. Ricardo Rodriguez then limped out on-stage to introduce World champ Del Rio. Ricardo said he may be hurting, but his voice is strong. Ricardo hobbled on-stage before struggling to get out Del Rio’s official intro. Cole noted Ricardo had his ankle broken by Jack Swagger last week, then Del Rio came out on-stage and cheered up Ricardo. Del Rio helped Ricardo down the stage to the ring before hitting the ring to face Cesaro.

[Q5 — second hour]

3 — World Hvt. champion ALBERTO DEL RIO vs. U.S. champion ANTONIO CESARO — Champion vs. Champion match

Del Rio and Cesaro felt each other out early on as the announcers discussed the Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger & Zeb Colter feud. Speaking of Zeb, Swagger’s manager came out on-stage and twirled his mustache, distracting Del Rio. Cesaro took advantage by kneeing Del Rio in the gut to control the action. Cesaro tried a top-rope move, but Del Rio crotched him. Del Rio then wanted a superplex and he connected.

As both men sold in the ring, Jack Swagger hit the ringside area to attack Ricardo. He tried to re-snap Ricardo’s ankle, but Del Rio hit the ringside area. Del Rio and Swagger brawled near the announcers as the ref reached a ten-count, giving Cesaro the win via count-out.

WINNER: Cesaro via count-out at 3:25.

Post-match: Del Rio decided to take out his anger on Cesaro by slapping on the cross arm-breaker. Del Rio then left the ring to check on Ricardo, who sold immense pain.

Earlier Tonight: C.M. Punk cut a promo on Undertaker, who responded by blasting Punk with right hand strikes and sending Punk and Heyman reeling out of the ring.

Still to come: Rock-Cena Q&A panel facing questions from five WWE Hall of Famers.

Backstage: WWE tag champions Daniel Bryan & Kane were shown walking down the hallway. They’re in tag action next.

[Commercial Break]

Rock Plug: The Rock won “Best Male Buttkicker” at the Nick Kids’ Choice Awards over the weekend.

In-ring: Prime Time Players were awaiting the tag champs in the ring. No Pancake Patterson bit from Titus O’Neil this week. Kane’s pyro then shot off to bring out the tag champs for non-title action.

4 — WWE tag champions KANE & DANIEL BRYAN vs. PRIME TIME PLAYERS (TITUS O’NEIL & DARREN YOUNG) — non-title match

As the bell sounded, Lawler noted Titus’s “uncle” Pancake Patterson was here last week. Cole said they want to forget about that. In the ring, Kane ran over Titus with a clothesline for a two count. Dolph, Big E., and A.J. then came out on-stage for a closer look at the action as Bryan and D-Young battled mid-ring.

[Q6] The distraction allowed the Players to take control of Bryan, who took a beating as Dolph and A.J. gloated on-stage. Bryan then landed knee strikes to the chin, ducked a clothesline, and delivered a knock-down clothesline to tag in Kane. Kane smashed D-Young with offense before big-booting Young to the mat for a nearfall.

Titus entered the ring to run at Kane, but Kane kicked him out of the ring to the floor. Bryan followed with a running knee to Titus’s face. Back in the ring, Kane grabbed D-Young and delivered a chokeslam for the pin and the win. Post-match, Kane & Bryan mouthed fighting words toward Ziggler, who mouthed back.

WINNERS: Kane & Bryan at 4:38.

Still to come: All three members of The Shield will be in action as part of a six-man tag match. Up Next: Preview of Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar going No Holds Barred with Hunter’s career on the line.

[Commercial Break]

Video Package: WWE documented how they arrived at Hunter vs. Lesnar at WM29 with Hunter’s career on the line.

In-ring: Triple H’s music played in the arena to bring out Hunter dressed in a black leather jacket, t-shirt, and jeans. Hunter’s shoulders were hunched up to his neck as he marched to the ring ready for battle. Meanwhile, the announcers tried to sell the idea of Hunter’s career potentially winding down if he doesn’t beat Lesnar at WrestleMania. They noted Hunter’s COO position and “love of family” has driven him to accept this match with Lesnar.

In the ring, Hunter looked for a standing ovation, looked around the arena, and said that for the first time ever, he enters a situation at WrestleMania where if he loses, he’s never allowed to compete in the ring again. “My career is over,” Hunter quietly said. Hunter said the thing is that Lesnar can end your career whether or not your career is on the line because Lesnar is a destroyer. Hunter said the thing for him is that he goes into the ring every night competing as if his career is on the line. He said that if Heyman thinks he’s made some big accomplishment by putting his back against the wall, then he is mistaken.

[Q7] Hunter shared some advice to Lesnar that he needs to come Mania as if his career and life are on the line. “Because, Brock, it very well might,” Hunter said. He said he is not coming to Mania to wrestle or fight, but to kick Lesnar’s ass. Hunter slammed down the mic to cheers before leaving the ring.

Suddenly, IC champion Wade Barrett’s music played. Barrett was ready to wrestle and he told Hunter to get out of the way. Hunter smirked at Barrett, then kicked him in the groin. Hunter stood over Barrett, then looked toward the WM29 sign in the arena. Hunter kept walking, nearly tripped, and made his way to the stage to look around the arena, soak it in, and then disappear to the back as Barrett remained in pain on the entrance ramp.

[Commercial Break]

WM29 plug: WWE quickly plugged Mania available on Xbox Live and Mobile tablets this year.

In-ring: Wade Barrett was still recovering from Hunter’s crotchal attack before The Miz was introduced for a singles match against the IC champ.

5 — IC champion WADE BARRETT vs. THE MIZ — non-title match

Miz quickly tried to set up for the figure-four leglock, but Barrett escaped to the floor. Meanwhile, Cole provided an update that Ricardo Rodriguez has suffered a setback in his recovery from his ankle injury thanks to Swagger. Back to the match, where Barrett tried to re-enter the ring, but he was still feeling the effects of the crotchal injury. Barrett shook it off and delivered successful offense before punting Miz in the gut for a two count.

At 2:00, Barrett continued with a barrage of right hands to Miz’s face. Meanwhile, Cole completely missed a bad Lincoln + Theater = bad joke from Lawler. Cole cackled to himself as Barrett and Miz continued to trade control in the ring. Mercifully, Raw cut to break after the commentary mishap.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Barrett was in control. It sounded like the only three guys in the crowd who chanted “ECW” during the opening segment were chanting, “Boring,” as Barrett retained control. Meanwhile, Lawler offered the following comment: “Miz has always been good about forcing himself into things.” Lawler tried to find a way out of that comment, and was saved by Miz making his comeback. Miz tried to get high from the top rope and connected. He then pounded the mat trying to get the crowd behind him for Skullcrushing Finale, but Barrett countered with Winds of Change for a nearfall.

[Q8] At 10:00, Barrett tried to finish off Miz, but Miz escaped. Miz then kind of leg-swept Barrett face-first into the mat. Miz started working on Barrett’s left leg, but Barrett posted him. Barrett then trapped Miz’s shoulders to the mat for a pin, but Miz escaped. Barrett followed with a kick to the side of the head for another nearfall.

Barrett then teased the Bullhammer to minimal reaction, measured Miz, and Miz ducked. Miz then crotched Barrett on the top rope, legswept the knee, and slapped on the figure-four leglock. Miz applied it center-ring and Barrett tapped out. Cole said Miz might have worked his way into the IC Title picture.

WINNER: Miz via submission at 12:07. Good action at times, but Miz continues to struggle in the face role unless he’s doing someone else’s signature moves. That someone else being Ric Flair.

Backstage: Kane and Bryan were shown talking in the locker room. Kane said he knows what he’s doing. Bryan said he sure does…against the Players. But, Big E. and Ziggler are a different animal because A.J. Lee is ringside. They argued about neither one of them getting over A.J., then Divas champion Kaitlyn shouted to interrupt. Kaitlyn told them to just get over A.J. and move on, like she did. Bryan said that’s easy to say when she hasn’t come after a title she is holding. In the background, A.J. snuck in to listen to the conversation. Kaitlyn then started describing A.J. as a crazyperson, which made A.J. snap. A.J. attacked Kaitlyn from behind and vowed to show her crazy as folks tried to restrain A.J. If WWE is going with Kaitlyn vs. A.J. at Mania, they waited way, way too long to re-visit their long history to set up a singles match.

Still to come: Lawler moderates a Q&A with Rock-Cena. Up Next: The Shield gets the top-of-the-hour slot in six-man tag action.

[Commercial Break]

Announcers: Cole and Lawler talked about the various auctions available to help WWE’s Sandy Relief efforts.

In-ring: Great Khali was dancing, Justin Gabriel was bouncing the ropes, and Zack Ryder was forcing a smile enjoying Khali’s dancing. Well, there’s Ryder. Suddenly, the mood changed when The Shield’s music played. After a replay of Shield jumping Sheamus earlier in the show, Shield entered the ring to face the mis-matched face trio.

[Q9 — third hour]


The “Raw rarity,” according to Cole, started with the face trio isolating Rollins in their corner. Ryder kneed Rollins in the face, but Rollins avoided a corner attack and put the boots to Ryder. Ambrose tagged in and dismantled Ryder before Reigns tagged in and bounced Ryder around the ring. Gabriel then tagged in and Shield took him apart before landing a double-team combo for the pin and the win.

WINNERS: Shield at 2:33.

Post-match, Great Khali wandered into the ring apparently to inquire about acquiring their services or to order a post-match snack, but Shield beat down Khali. Reigns then got a thought for a triple powerbomb. The others helped Khali into the air and onto Reigns’s shoulders to deliver the signature triple bomb. Khali then rolled out of the ring and Sheamus’s music played.

Sheamus came out on-stage, followed by Randy Orton. Sheamus and Orton shared a glance, then slowly made their way to the ring. But, Reigns spotted Big Show coming through the back. Show then slowly hit the ring apron and the three faces hit the ring to brawl with Shield. Orton cleared Reigns from the ring, then Show back-body-dropped Rollins across the ring.

Shield quickly left the ring, then slipped into the crowd to escape the faces. Cole asked if this is the proof they needed to make the face trio official. Lawler said he doesn’t think there is any doubt about it that they are together and ready for Mania. Cole said perhaps this trio can finally stop The Shield, something no one else has been able to accomplish.

Still to come: Rock-Cena Q&A moderated by Lawler. On-camera, Cole and Lawler reset the show by going back to the Jericho-Fandango business from earlier in the show.

VIckie Guerrero’s Locker Room: Chris Jericho was shown leaving Vickie’s office, then Josh Mathews asked Jericho for a word. Jericho said when you have been in WWE for as long as he has, you become a target. He said Fandango has kicked his ass twice in a row, but he has proven nothing. But, Fandango will get his chance at WrestleMania because it will be Jericho vs. Fandango. Jericho told Fandango to be careful what you wish for because he will never, eeeeever be the same again.

In-ring: Damien Sandow was introduced to the ring. He was accompanied by Cody Rhodes apparently for tag actions. Sandow said they’re here in Philadelphia – a city known for greasy sandwiches and a stadium with a prison inside of it. Despite that, Sandow said he has a gift for all of them, the Bella Twins. The Bellas joined Rhodes Scholars on the way to the ring as Cole noted their opponents will be Tensai and Brodus Clay.

[Commercial Break]

Video Package: C.M. Punk was highlighted as he tests fate against Undertaker at WM29. Great graphics package that for some reason was saved until this week.

In-ring: Back from break, Brodus Clay and Tensai were dancing in the ring with Cameron and Naomi. The tag match then started.



Tensai airballed a running splash on Sandow, who then tagged in Rhodes. The heels worked on Tensai as Cole and Lawler cracked jokes about Cody’s mustache. Tensai broke free from Cody and tagged in Brodus, who headbutted Rhodes, then Sandow. Clay followed with a t-bone suplex to Rhodes before squishing him in the corner. Rhodes rolled to the floor to be checked on by the Bellas, which brought Cameron and Naomi over to start a brawl. Meanwhile, back in the ring, Rhodes popped Clay with the Disaster Kick for the pin and the win.

WINNERS: Rhodes Scholars at 2:31.

Announcers: Cole tried to talk about The Rock, but Lawler was too busy watching The Bellas. Cole then fed to a video package promoting G.I. Joe 2 starring Rock, out in theaters this weekend.

Backstage: Ryback was shown walking down the hallway. Cole excitedly said Ryback will try to one-up Mark Henry by facing 3MB next.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back from break, 3MB members were in the ring strumming their air-guitars before Ryback’s music played to a tepid reaction. Ryback marched down to the ring before staring down his meal tonight.


Ryback used his shoulder to lead the crowd in a “Feed Me More” chant before locking up with Slater. Ryback delivered a Thesz Press before repeatedly bouncing the back of Slater’s head off the mat. McIntyre decided he wanted some action, so Ryback chopped him a few times. Ryback then turned around and ate a running kick from Mac, taking Ryback off his feet.

The heels isolated Ryback and worked him over for a a few minutes, but Ryback eventually made a comeback at the urging of the crowd. Ryback blocked Slater across the ring, then delivered a huge lift-up slam. Mahal took a spinebuster, then Ryback called for the end. Ryback scooped up both Mahal and Slater, marched in a circle, and delivered a double Shell-Shock, popping Cole and the crowd.

WINNER: Ryback at 4:04.

This Friday on Smackdown: Henry and Ryback go one-on-one…in a Weightlifting Competition. Cole excitedly said he will be ringside for that on Smackdown.

[Q11] Earlier Tonight: Ricardo Rodriguez’s night took a detour when Jack Swagger further damaged Ricardo’s ankle. On-camera, Cole said Ricardo suffered more bruising and swelling.

Backstage: A.J. was shown skipping around the ring. Cole said A.J. faces Kaitlyn up next. So, they’re not saving it for Mania, apparently. Unless, A.J. pulls a Fandango or unless they set up a re-match.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: A.J. Lee was introduced for the next match. Cole called her a “crazy bird,” then Divas champion Kaitlyn was introduced. Before the match, Cole fed to a replay of A.J. “Eve…sdropping” on Kaitlyn’s conversation with Bryan & Kane. Cue the bell.

9 — Divas champion KAITLYN vs. A.J. LEE — non-title match

As the match started, Cole recapped Kaitlyn and A.J. starting their careers together on the same path before their friendship “came to this.” The match moved to the floor, where Kaitlyn ate the barricade, prompting A.J. to have a good laugh. A.J. re-entered the ring and laughed as Kaitlyn was counted out.

WINNER: A.J. via count-out at 2:02. Yes, a two-minute count-out ending is this week’s TV main event. Basic buffer segment before the verbal main event.

The announcers quickly transitioned to a plug for WWE ’13 now available again from 2KSports. WWE showed Cena-Rock in the video-game setting before plugging the Q&A with Rock and Cena up next.

[Commercial Break]

[Q12] Smackdown plug: The Rock returns to Smackdown this Friday.

Announcers: Cole was shown on-camera to announce breaking news. Cole said it’s official – The Shield vs. Sheamus & Orton & Big Show in a six-man tag match. Cole then sent the show into the ring.

Jerry Lawler was in the ring next to a podium. Lawler said at WrestleMania, the WWE Title match between Rock and Cena will be historic, but not before they make some history tonight. Lawler said they will answer questions from a panel of WWE Hall of Famers and Superstars.

First out was Smackdown GM Booker T. Next out was Mick Foley dressed in a suit. A video package on Foley’s career accompanied his ring introduction. After the two 2013 Hall of Famers were introduced, Dusty Rhodes was introduced next to polite applause. A video package also accompanied Dusty’s introduction.

Bret Hart’s music then played to a big reaction. Hart limped down to the ring as WWE rolled video on Hart’s career. Overall, it felt like they underplayed Hart’s return to TV, but they want the focus on Cena-Rock. All four panelists stood in the ring before Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

Rock-Cena Q&A Panel

Back from break, the panelists were seated at a table before Lawler introduced WWE champion The Rock. Rock emerged on-stage holding the WWE Title belt before going side-to-side saluting the crowd. Rock then hit the ring and shook hands, embraced, and shared a word with each of the panelists. Rock placed the title belt at his podium, which was positioned at the left side of the ring, before Lawler introduced John Cena.

Cena emerged on-stage dressed in his yellow Never Give Up t-shirt. Cena soaked in the crowd reaction, saluted the hard-camera, shook hands with some Cena fans on the front row, and hit the ring. WWE focused on the WM29 sign in the arena before Cena went down the table shaking hands with each panelist. Cena then posed for the hard-camera and took his position at his podium at the right-side of the ring.

With everyone assembled, Lawler said each Legend will ask either Rock or Cena a question. He said the other will have a chance to respond as well.

Question 1 from Mick Foley: Foley talked about himself first, of course, then went back to WM20 when he teamed with Rock. Foley noted he lost that match, which he regretted. Foley said he’s a John Cena fan, but he felt a sense of relief when Rock beat Cena at last year’s Mania. Foley asked Cena if he’s ready to live with the type of regret that could accompany another loss at this year’s Mania.

[Q13 — over-run] Cena waited out boos, then started a press conference-type speech about April 7 being historic for WWE. Cena said whether he wins or loses, it will change the face of WWE. He said the story is easy if he wins because he gets redemption, he gets the title, and he gets respect. Cena said he knows losing is a very real option, though, after last year.

Cena then brought up Donovan McNabb (former Philadelphia Eagles QB), which drew a lot of boos. Cena repeated McNabb’s name to more boos. Cena said McNabb is statistically the greatest QB to ever wear an Eagles uniform, but listen to how he’s remembered. Why? Because McNabb could not win the Big One. Cena said Philly cares about its teams and they deserve someone who can win the Big One. Much like the WWE fans, they want to look to a man who can win The Big One. Cena said if he loses on April 7, he will carry the legacy of Donovan McNabb.

Cena turned to Rock and said he can handle failure, but this man knows nothing of failure. “Well, not yet,” Cena said. Rock wasn’t impressed and approached his podium, but paused for a “Rocky, Rocky” chant. Rock questioned Cena claiming he doesn’t know about failure. Rock said when he was 23-years-old, he was so broke that he had to get a mattress out of a dumpster. Then, he got his big break from WWE, flopped, and tore his knee up. Rock said WWE told him to go home, and he could have quit, but he didn’t.

Rock said he worked his ass off, got back to WWE, and came back just asking for a mic. Rock said he headlined Mania two years later in this very city. Rock said that reminds him of something. “Finally, The Rock has come back to…Philadelphia,” which popped the crowd. Rock then noted he went out that night (at WM15) and got his ass kicked by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, which made him experience loss and failure. Rock said he vowed to overcome that loss, which he did.

Question 2: Bret Hart said he was disappointed by how they handled last year, almost making it into a Hart vs. Shawn Michaels kind of a thing. Hart said everyone wants to know what changed.

Rock responded first that two guys went at it last year, there were no cheap-shots, and no screwjobs. Rock said he beat Cena one, two, three, and Cena did not bitch, moan, or complain after the loss. Rock said he respects that. Cena responded by saying he wanted Rock to prove that he loves WWE, and he did.

Cena said it was billed as Once In A Lifetime last year because he thought Rock would have the match, then walk away for good. But, Rock came out the next night and vowed to become WWE champion again. “Which he is right now,” Cena said. Cena said Rock has proven his loyalty to this business, and he respects the heck out of Rock. But, now, Cena said in 13 days, they’re going to see how Rock handles his loss. This buzzed the crowd.

Question 3: Booker T asked Cena why he thinks he’s going to beat The Rock at WrestleMania. “Because I have to,” Cena said after a long pause. “That’s it, because I have to.” Cena frowned and looked away, then Rock asked Cena what kind of “shallow, weak answer” that is. Rock told Cena to “wipe a monkey’s ass with ‘I have to.'” Rock told Cena to tell the truth about why he has to beat Rock. “Because you didn’t beat me!” Cena shouted. Cena said because he beat himself.

Cena said he made one bad decision. He said he got caught up in one personal moment. Cena said he comes out here every week and some people like him, others don’t. This drew boos. Cena said for every week for “ten damn years” he’s just gone along for the ride, but Rock is the only person who clouded his judgment. Cena said he’s watched the match 100 times and he knows he beat Rock. But, one time, he made a mistake trying to beat Rock with his own move in his hometown. “That is never happening again!” Cena shouted. “I know that I am better than The Rock!” Rock kind of smiled, waiting to hear some honesty from Cena. “And, much more, The Rock knows I am better than The Rock,” Cena said, drawing a look from Rock.

Rock said what he does know is that if Cena had him beat, then he would have beaten him. Rock said Cena threw everything at him, but he still kicked out. Rock said there is one more Legend to quote. “To be the man (whoos! from the crowd)…you gotta beat the man,” Rock said. Rock said Cena can’t beat The Man because he is not The Man. Rock said between the two of them, Cena will never…and The Rock means ever…be The Man.

Question 4: Dusty Rhodes told them to take the gloves off. He said Mania isn’t about respect or redemption, but about winning or losing. Rhodes said there are no guarantees in this business. Sometimes you don’t always get what you want. Sometimes what you want is not always what you get. Dusty asked what they really want on April 7.

Cena said he wants to win The Big One. Not only win, but dominate The Rock. Cena said at the end of Mania, what he wants is The Rock to be looking up in the air at MetLife Stadium and finally realize that this ball-cap-wearing punk belongs. Cena said Rock will also realize that “I am better than The Rock.” Cena what he wants is to give Rock a loss so devastating that it haunts Rock for the rest of his life.

Rock responded by asking Cena who he thinks he’s talking to. “John, I ain’t wired that way,” Rock said. Rock said he’s going to wake up the morning after Mania still WWE champion, while Cena is stuffing his face with Fruity Pebbles asking why he lost again. Rock said Cena brings it like no one else in the locker room, but Cena can’t bring it to him at Mania. Rock told Cena to prove him wrong at Mania. Or, better yet, right now.

Rock stepped to the middle of the ring and bounced up and down before Cena slowly removed his t-shirt as Lawler pleaded with them to calm down. Cena slowly walked to the center of the ring to stare down Rock before waving You Can’t See Me in his face. Cena then tried an Attitude Adjustment, but Rock escaped and nailed Rock Bottom, popping the crowd.

Cena writhed in pain on the mat before Rock grabbed his WWE Title belt and left the ring as his music played. Cena continued to sell center-ring as Rock stood on-stage looking toward the ring. Cena was shown grimacing as he sat up to look at the stage, where Rock stood tall. Cena continued to collect himself before Rock pounded the title belt and trash-talked from a distance. Rock told Cena to bring it as Cena appeared to be on the verge of tears or feeling constipated. Raw signed off 20 minutes past the top of the hour.

[ JC: After three hours, WWE finally delivered a segment that actually felt like it was “WrestleMania Season.” It will be interesting to see how Cena handles his Rock Bottom humbling on next week’s final Raw before Mania, especially after throwing some overly-confident one-liners toward Rock. It was also good to see them finally address Cena’s cockiness costing him the match last year, which helped plant seeds of doubt that it’s a foregone conclusion Cena will win at Mania. Overall, a strong final segment, especially involving the Legends, but the overall show was just too long at nearly three-and-a-half-hours, especially when WWE needs to hit doubles, triples, and home-runs in every segment leading to Mania. ]

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS 5 YRS AGO FLASHBACK: 5 YRS AGO – Impact Wrestling: First live on-the-road episode in Chicago featuring Sting vs. Aries, Dudleys, Mickie James, Kurt Angle, Styles, Roode

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