5 YRS AGO – WWE Raw Report (5-27-13): Heyman introduces newest “Paul Heyman Guy” Curtis Axel, Axel vs. Cena headlines, Bret Hart Appreciation Night, plus Big E, Jericho, Bellas, Cody

Ryback (photo credit Wade Keller)


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

WWE Raw TV Results
May 27, 2013 – Episode #1,043
Live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

Memorial Day Raw started with a video package dedicating tonight’s show to U.S. troops who served their country. A two-minute video package accompanied the message.

Live from Canada, Michael Cole introduced the show. Standing by was John Cena. But first, Cole fed to a video package on last week’s Raw. The video showcased Curtis Axel being introduced as Paul Heyman’s new client, which led to Triple H slapping Axel. Then, Hunter wrestled against doctor’s orders and “suffered a concussion.” The voice-over man ominously said they will provide “the latest on Triple H’s condition.” Also last week, John Cena was “injured” against Ryback at Extreme Rules, then Ryback proposed an Ambulance Match for Payback in June.

Back live in the arena, Cena’s music played to mainly boos. Cena excitedly emerged on-stage sarcastically calling this his “favorite place in the world.” Cena then stormed the ring as Cole extolled Cena’s virtues as it relates to military support.

Once in the ring, Cena waited out boos, then a few fans were heard chanting his name. Cena opened by saying there seems to be a lot of unrest here tonight. Anxiety. Anger. He said he gets why. Over a week ago, there was a Last Man Standing match for this here WWE Title belt most-remembered for its controversy. In full preacher mode, Cena said both men were down for a count of ten, so both men believe they deserve the WWE Title belt. First, there is him – the WWE champion. Then, there is Ryback (boos). And how did Ryback want to solve this controversy? Ryback challenged him to an Ambulance Match at Payback.

Pause for six people chanting, “We Want Bret.” It increased a bit, then Cena noted they are in Calgary, home of Bret Hart. Cena said his people want to pay homage to that hero. Cena said that time will come, but they have a controversy to solve.

Cena said he thinks Ryback didn’t think things through, then Cena mocked Ryback as a small-minded individual distracted by bright lights. Cena said he’s had a week to think about this, then said Payback should be hell. At WWE Payback, Cena said the match will be a Three Stages of Hell match. He said there have only been three of these matches in WWE history. He said it’s 2/3 Falls where each fall has a different stipulation. So, Stage 1 is a Lumberjack Match. He then thanked the audience for Stage 2, leading them in a “We Want Tables” chant. They cut to a shot of one fan ignoring the cue from Cena. Cena then excitedly said Stage 2 is a Tables match.

As for Stage 3, it involves Ryback’s ambulance. Cena said the third stage is an Ambulance match. Cena said what happens if he wins the first two falls? He said that ambulance driver is going to earn his money because after he wins 2-0, he’s driving Ryback straight to the medical facility.

Suddenly, Ryback’s music interrupted. “Goldberg” chants as Ryback stood on-stage. Ryback said he agrees with Cena that Payback should be hell. He said he drove Cena through this LED board, not caring what was on the other side. Ryback said he tried taking Cena to hell, then called himself lucifer and satan. “John, say hello to Ryback.” In the ring, Cena remained stone-faced, then Ryback turned and sauntered away.

[ JC: So, Cena teased a Hell in a Cell match, then pulled back with a lumberjack, tables, and ambulance match. ]

Suddenly, Paul Heyman interrupted on-stage to address John Cena. Heyman built up Curtis Axel, noting that Axel beat Triple H “so convincingly and decisively” that Hunter will not be seen around here anymore. Axel was then brought out on-stage to stand tall next to Heyman. In the ring, Cena wasn’t too impressed. Heyman then noted his client was just watching Cena and they believe Cena is a fighting champion. Which is why he doesn’t think Cena will back down from a challenge of his own. Heyman put it in bright lights: WWE champion John Cena vs. future WWE champion Curtis Axel.

[Q2] In the ring, Cena rolled around the name Curtis Axel in his head before offering some advice. “Stay as far away from Paul Heyman as you can,” he said. “He is full of more crap than the stables after the (Calgary) Stampede,” which popped the crowd. Axel then took the mic and tried to act serious repeating Heyman’s desire for a fight. In the ring, Cena said Axel got lucky last week, so they’ll see how good Axel is tonight. Cena booked the singles match for tonight, exciting Axel and Heyman.

Announcers: Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL reacted to the two-part opening segment, then plugged Chris Jericho hosting the Highlight Reel with Paul Heyman, only, tonight. Jericho plans to grill Heyman on his entire group of clients, according to Cole.

Backstage: Alberto Del Rio, Ricardo Rodriguez, and their bucket were shown walking down the hallway. Del Rio gets another re-match against Big E. Langston next. Apparently avenging last Monday’s loss on Main Event wasn’t enough.

[Commercial Break]

On-stage: Ricardo Rodriguez introduced Alberto Del Rio to the ring. Cole noted this is the rubber match because Big E. won on Raw, Del Rio won on Main Event, and this is the third match in their mini-series. Big E. Langston was then introduced to the ring flanked by A.J. Lee. As Big E. hit the ring, JBL noted Big E. is starting to think that he should get the next World Title shot. The announcers talked in circles about World champ Dolph Ziggler being off TV recovering from a concussion prior to the bell sounding.


Del Rio clotheslined Big E. to the outside in the opening seconds, then delivered a suicide dive on the floor. However, Big E. recovered and dropped Del Rio across the ring steps before rolling him into the ring for a nearfall. WWE then cut to an insert video from Dolph Ziggler on the App. Except, the video was a smaller picture of the match in the ring. Mid-way through Ziggler’s audio, they cut to video of Ziggler commenting on Raw from his home.

Back to full-screen, Del Rio sidekicked Big E. for a two count. Langston made another comeback, then dropped the straps, drawing Lawler’s attention. Del Rio blocked Del Rio, then A.J. suddenly jumped on the ring apron to remove a top turnbuckle pad. The referee focused on the pad, then Del Rio slapped on a cross arm-breaker center-ring. Big E. broke free, but Langston recoiled into the exposed steel. Del Rio took advantage by pinning Langston.

Post-match, A.J. yelled at Langston, saying she was trying to help him. Langston, frustrated with the loss, walked out of the ring, upsetting A.J. even more. After a replay of the finish, they showed Langston selling frustration on-stage.

WINNER: Del Rio at 4:18. Apparently to keep the Ziggler/A.J./Langston dynamic fresh while Ziggler is off TV, WWE is going to start teasing tension between Langston and A.J. What the end-game is remains to be seen.

Still to come: Shield defends the Tag Titles against Kane & Daniel Bryan in a re-match from Extreme Rules and Kofi Kingston gets another U.S. Title re-match against Dean Ambrose.

[Q3] [Commercial Break]

Locker Room: Kane was standing by. And Daniel Bryan was pacing the locker room. Kane had enough and yelled at Bryan to stop. Kane said the only person who associates Daniel Bryan with the “weak link” is D-Bryan. He said it has nothing to do with his size. Kane told Bryan to focus on them regaining the Tag Titles tonight, which includes Bryan pulling himself together. “Ah ha!” Bryan said, believing that Kane means he’s the weak link.

Suddenly, Bret Hart entered the shot, popping the crowd. Hart, with noticeably grayer hair and sporting a teal shirt, said they are better than this. “Wow, thanks, Bret,” Bryan said before jumping in front of Kane. Bryan asked Hart if anyone thought he was the weak-link in Hart Foundation. Hart said size has nothing to do with toughness, then he slapped Bryan on the back. Bryan, amazed, watched as Hart walked off. Kane then asked Bryan why he believes Hart and not him when he says the same thing. Bryan said it’s because he’s Bret Hart – the Best There is, was, and ever will be. “And you, you’re just Kane,” he said, drawing laughs. Bryan walked off, leaving Kane to seethe.

Announcers: Cole said 30 seconds after Raw goes off the air, they will have Bret Hart Appreciation Night on the WWE App with Jerry Lawler as special host. But, now, time for a title match.

In-ring: Justin Roberts announced a U.S. Title match. The Shield’s music played, bringing out the heel trio through the crowd to a strong reaction. Fans slapped Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose on the shoulder as they walked through the crowd, then U.S. champ Ambrose walked alone down to the ring. As Ambrose made his way into the ring, they recapped events on Smackdown when Ambrose retained the U.S. Title over Kofi Kingston due to Shield’s interference. So, Kofi gets another shot tonight.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, WWE randomly replayed Paul Heyman introducing Curtis Axel last week on Raw. Apparently this was to plug John Cena vs. Curtis Axel in the TV main event later tonight.

Back in the ring, Dean Ambrose was standing by before Kofi Kingston was introduced to challenge Ambrose for the U.S. Title.

2 — U.S. champion DEAN AMBROSE vs. KOFI KINGSTON — U.S. Title match

Rapid-fire sequence of blocks and counters early on. Ambrose barely ducked a Trouble in Paradise, so he rolled to the outside to catch a breather. Kofi teased a suicide dive, but Ambrose ran up the ramp to avoid, so Kofi held his ground in the ring. Ambrose waited for things to cool off on the outside before Raw cut to break.

[Q4] [Commercial Break]

During the break on the App, WWE plugged the Tag Title match to follow this match. Back live, Ambrose was in control. WWE then cut to an insert video of Ambrose taking control of the match during the break. Back live, Kofi made a comeback, then tried to fire up the crowd. Nearfalls and counters followed, then Kofi executed SOS for a close two count. And, back to the App for Randy Orton and Sheamus reacting to The Shield while watching this match backstage. Sheamus said their loss to Shield at WrestleMania has been eating him up for six weeks.

Back in the ring, Kofi scored another close nearfall. This sent Ambrose to the outside for a breather, but on the floor, Ambrose lured an overly-aggressive Kingston into a head-smash into the ring steps. Back in the ring, Ambrose planted a KO’ed Kofi head-first into the mat for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Ambrose at 8:41 to retain the U.S. Title.

Post-match, Shield members Rollins and Reigns joined Ambrose in the ring to celebrate the victory. Suddenly, Daniel Bryan and Kane stormed the ring to clear Shield from the ring. Cole said the Tag Title match is next.

Paul Heyman Promo

In-ring: Justin Roberts formally introduced Paul Heyman, who marched to the ring to boos. Heyman, showing no ill-effects from being attacked by Triple H during the steel cage last night, marched to the ring and told the crowd to go ahead and get the boos out of their system.

Heyman got down to business, asking the crowd how it feels to be powerless because their boos will never change the result from last night when Brock Lesnar defeated Triple H in a steel cage match at Extreme Rules. Heyman said Triple H will go down in history as a lllllloser. Heyman added that Hunter had to tuck his sledgehammer between his legs and go home to mommy.

But, now that Lesnar has fulfilled his obligations to WWE, the question remains what he’s going to talk about now. And, in his opinion, he thinks it’s time for something different. Heyman said he’s going to create a moment that will be replayed for years on YouTube. He said everyone is here to witness history because now is the time to introduce… the newest Paul Heyman Guy.

The lights went dark, then Michael McGillicutty’s face flashed on the Titantron. A remixed Mr. Perfect theme played and out came McGillicutty re-named as Curtis Axel. Curtis hit the ring and embraced Heyman, who acknowledged boos from the crowd. Heyman said it’s the same reaction the crowd gave when he introduced Brock Lesnar over ten years ago. Heyman said it’s the same reaction the crowd gave him when he presented C.M. Punk on the ECW brand.

Heyman continued that this man has a great pedigree before asking why this man is not a main-event Superstar already. He said it’s because here in WWE, a legacy doesn’t give you nepotistic opportunities, but an albatross that sinks people to the bottom of the talent roster. Heyman said this man wants to carve out his own niche and make his own legend in WWE. Which is why they have taken his father, Mr. Perfect’s name, and his grandfather’s nickname to create a new brand: Curtis Axel.

Heyman said the audience must not have been paying attention. “Ladies and gentleman, Curtis…Axel!” More boos. Suddenly, Triple H’s music played at the top of the hour.

[Q5 — Second Hour] Triple H walked out on-stage dressed in street clothes. JBL said he can’t believe Hunter is standing after the cage match last night. Hunter, smirking on his way to the ring, eventually entered the ring as the announcers talked up Curtis Axel’s background. Once in the ring, Hunter said Heyman can really whip up a batch of Kool-aid. Moments after WWE “re-branded” McGillicutty, Hunter cut him down to size by telling “junior” that the adults are talking.

Hunter then got in Heyman’s face and said he’s not embarrassed by what happened last night because he went to war with Brock Lesnar. Hunter said Lesnar beat him, just like he beat Lesnar at WrestleMania. Hunter continued that Lesnar limped away from Extreme Rules last night, then said what would make him really happy is to come out here and – solely because he can – beat the crap out of Heyman. Wasn’t this the storyline last year when Heyman threatened to sue Hunter and WWE for crossing the line?

Axel then stepped up to Hunter and got in his face to tell Hunter that the game around here has changed. Axel told Hunter to talk to him first, drawing excited laughter from Heyman. Hunter then reached back and slapped Axel, stunning Heyman. Hunter said he changed his mind. First, he’s going to have a match tonight…with Axel. Then, he’s going to kick Heyman’s ass, which popped the crowd. Hunter dropped the mic and left the ring as Axel recovered in the ring. JBL said he’s seen this kid “go” in the ring, but Cole said it’s a whole different thing to “go” against Triple H.

(Pause for Scott Hall checking in on Twitter: “Congrats to Joe Hennig on getting your break.welcome to the Shizzow…counting on Triple H to to lead him to the mountaintop tonight…”)

Also still to come: Alberto Del Rio vs. Big E. Langston as Dolph Ziggler remains sidelined. It’s next.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Ricardo Rodriguez was introduced on-stage to introduce Alberto Del Rio as WWE tried to find fans in the crowd participating in the intro. The #1 contender to the World Title then emerged on-stage playing to the crowd as Lawler said Dolph Ziggler has to be uncomfortable about Del Rio being #1 contender. Cole narrated still-shots of WWE using Instant Replay to reverse the initial decision in favor of Jack Swagger last night, which JBL called a miscarriage of justice. Big E. Langston, along with A.J. Lee, was then introduced as Del Rio’s opponent.


As the bell sounded, Cole noted Heyman’s new client is trending on Twitter right now. JBL then referenced Heyman managing a very young Steve Austin and very young The Undertaker back in the day. In the ring, Del Rio teased a cross arm-breaker within the first minute, but Big E. powered out of the hold. Del Rio wanted it again on the ring apron, but Big E. pulled Del Rio out of the ring and emphatically swung him into the ringpost.

[Q6] Back in the ring, Langston covered Del Rio for a one count. Del Rio then dazed Big E. by dropping him head-first onto the mat. Del Rio got to his feet and fired off a round of clotheslines before landing a sidekick. Meanwhile, Cole brought up C.M. Punk disappearing after WrestleMania and they haven’t heard from him since. Back in the ring, Langston managed to fling Del Rio to the outside to grab a breather.

Del Rio returned to the ring and quickly smashed Langston with a kick to the head. Suddenly, Ricardo’s bucket rolled into the ring, distracting Del Rio. Apparently A.J. was the culprit of the bucket-roll. With the ref distracted, Big E. attempted an eye-rake on Del Rio, who sold blindness before Langston hit the Big Ending. It was good for the win.

WINNER: Langston at 4:36. Fine use of Langston to keep the World Title picture fresh before WWE has to make a decision on Ziggler’s World Title if Ziggler’s health does not improve.

Earlier Tonight: An ambulance sped into the arena and produced Ryback, who vowed to send John Cena in an ambulance to the morgue at Payback.

Still to come tonight: A six-man tag match of The Shield vs. Kane & Bryan & Kofi Kingston. Also, Triple H’s first match on Raw in three years against Curtis Axel.

[Commercial Break]

4 — A.J. LEE vs. LAYLA

Back from break, A.J. was still in the ring following Big E.’s victory. Layla was also in the ring. After WWE recapped A.J. and Divas champ Kaitlyn brawling during Extreme Rules last night, the bell sounded. Less than a minute in, WWE cut to an App Insert Video of the Bellas watching the match backstage. A.J. dominated early, Layla made a comeback, and A.J. responded with the Black Widow, causing Layla to tap out.

WINNER: A.J. Lee via submission at 1:55. Good reinforcement of A.J.’s in-ring abilities ahead of her eventual Divas Title shot against Kaitlyn.

Still to come: Jack Swagger faces either Randy Orton, R-Truth, or Great Khali. Also, Triple H vs. Curtis Axel.

[Q7] [Commercial Break]


Suddenly, this match was happening immediately back from break. No bell, so it was joined in-progress. Ryder, who is going for a mid-2000s A.J. Styles look, exchanged offense with Cody Rhodes. WWE cut to an App Insert of Ryback watching this match backstage for an unspecified reason. Actually, it turned into a reason for the announcers to talk about Ryback, Cena, the WWE Title picture, and everything except for the match a la WCW Nitro. In the ring, Ryder wanted Rough Ryder, but Cody blocked, then hit the Disaster Kick for the win.

WINNER: Rhodes at 2:32.

Post-match, Ryback’s music played to bring out Ryback looking for a mid-show snack. Rhodes bailed from the ring, leaving Ryder alone in the ring. Ryback circled Ryder, who remained flat on the mat. Ryder started to wake up, so Ryback measured him for a big clothesline. Makes you wonder what Ryder is thinking right about now. Ryback then scooped up Ryder to deliver a big powerbomb. JBL said it’s a statement to John Cena. Ryder, who tweeted an encouraging note to Cena earlier in the day, then took Shell-Shock from Ryback.

Ryback’s music played, but Ryback wasn’t done. Ryback scooped up Ryder and dragged Ryder down the entrance ramp toward the ambulance. On commentary, Lawler said this could be a glimpse into Cena’s future. Ryback then shoved Ryder into the ambulance, the siren sounded, and the ambulance backed away from the arena, ending Ryder’s night. As the ambulance backed away, WWE replayed Ryback destroying Ryder in the post-match. JBL said history won’t write about Zack Ryder, but it will write about Ryback if he becomes WWE champion.

Up Next: Kofi & Kane & Bryan vs. The Shield in six-man tag action.

[Commercial Break]

[Q8] Arena: The Shield’s music played to introduce the new champions. The line-up was re-arranged with Dean Ambrose coming out by himself in one section of the arena and Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns coming from another section. The trio met in the ring to display their new gold to the crowd. After their music stopped, they each took a mic. Rollins and Reigns introduced themselves as new tag champs. Ambrose then introduced himself as new U.S. champion.

Ambrose continued that The Shield brought power back to these titles last night. He said Kofi and Kane & Bryan did not believe last night. Who else didn’t believe? The Rock. Ambrose claimed they forced Rock to get surgery. Also, Undertaker will never be seen again. How about Ryback? They made Ryback feel so betrayed, so alone that they made him snap. And Cena? Shield forced him to get carted away last night. Ambrose said they’re all non-believers and they all went down to the swift arm of justice.

Rollins talked next. He said he’s heard it said that justice is blind, but after what they did last night, it’s clear that justice can see just fine because they are a cohesive unit. Rollins called them the future, then addressed his teammates that this is just the beginning. Reigns said the ending stays the same because they run this yard. Big emphasis on the line, drawing boos from the crowd. Reigns said they carry the collars to back it up.

Ambrose closed by saying they are the flames, then told the crowd to believe in The Shield, which drew boos after the terrific promo. Just terrific. Suddenly, Kane’s pyro shot off to bring out Kane and Daniel Bryan. Kane shot off his pyro in the ring, then Raw cut to break before the six-man tag match.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back from break, Kofi Kingston was in the ring after his entrance occurred during the break.

Highlight Reel Segment

Fireworks shot off and the arena went dark to signal Chris Jericho’s entrance back home in Canada. Jericho, dressed in street clothes, strutted to the ring before standing in front of the Jeritron video screen. The announcers noted Jericho believes he’s still owed some money from Paul Heyman, then Jericho’s music stopped, leading to a “Y2J” chant.

After soaking up the crowd response, Jericho shouted out to Calgary before introducing a jerk of a guest, Paul Heyman. Heyman emerged to no music as Jericho removed his rocker jacket to greet Heyman with muscles.

Once in the ring, Heyman surveyed a quiet arena before Jericho spoke. Jericho said Heyman has been called everything from a genius to a walrus during his career – pause for “walrus” chant – but Heyman has always had an uncanny knack for aligning himself with tremendous talent. Heyman butted in that he doesn’t just align himself with talent, but discovers and develops great talent. Like, for example, Jericho. Heyman said he discovered him and gave Jericho his very first big break.

Jericho responded that Heyman did give him his first break…and he owes him money. Heyman hilariously responded that because of that, he has waived his personal appearance fee to appear on the Highlight Reel tonight. Heyman then talked up Curtis Axel, prompting Jericho to respond that he’s been a big fan of Axel for a long time, but he wants to talk about Heyman’s other client. “Brrrrock Lessssnar!” Heyman responded. Heyman began talking up Lesnar, then Jericho told him to shut the hell up.

[Q9 — third hour] Jericho said he doesn’t want to talk about Axel or what Lesnar is doing on his spring beak; rather, his other client. Loud “C-M-Punk” chant, then Jericho wanted to know what’s up with Punk. Jericho asked for footage of what happened last month on Raw when Punk walked away from WWE after giving Heyman a big hug.

Back live, Heyman hung his head in sorrow, then Jericho said one thing he noticed in that clip from six weeks ago is Heyman wore the same suit. Also, Punk shocked and surprised Heyman, who seemed to not know that Punk was doing that. Jericho replied that he would like Jericho to know that … this is his favorite suit and he wanted to wear it on the Highlight Reel tonight. The crowd responded with a “walrus” chant. “And?!” Jericho said. Heyman, agitated, said Punk had The Streak and didn’t need to tell people that he’s the best there is, was, and ever will be (boos). Jericho cut off Heyman and mocked Heyman with “blah blah blah” before getting right in Heyman’s face to ask, “Where is C.M. Punk?”

Heyman collected himself and boldly declared that an announcement will come in the next few weeks on the return of C.M. Punk. “No, no, no,” Jericho said. Jericho said Punk can’t just sit at home and refer to himself as the Best in the World by sitting at home. Heyman said his client sitting at home in Chicago would vehemently disagree. Jericho then sarcastically waved hi to Punk sitting at home. He said the next PPV is in Chicago, so if Punk wants to be known as the Best in the World, then he needs to get off his couch and show up.

Jericho said he thinks this crowd would say he is actually the Best — Heyman interrupted and told Jericho not to say that. “Don’t say what? Don’t say that Chris Jericho is the best…?” Jericho said. Heyman said it’s not Jericho’s right to say that. Jericho told Heyman to send Punk a message to face him at Payback to see who the Best in the World is. Heyman laughed and asked Jericho if he’s really going to negotiate with him. Heyman said Jericho doesn’t get to dictate terms to Heyman and Punk.

“Fair enough,” Jericho said. Jericho said Punk can sit at home, while he will declare himself the Best in the World at what he does. Heyman, annoyed, forced a smile before frowning. Heyman sold deep thoughts, then said that must be Jericho pulling his punk card. So, Jericho wants a match with C.M. Punk in Chicago, Punk’s hometown. “Well, Chris Jericho, on behalf of my client, C.M. Punk…I accept.” Jericho accepted Heyman’s handshake, then pulled Heyman in close to intimidate him. “And tell Punk after Payback, he will never, ever be the same again.” Jericho’s music played and Heyman dejectedly marched out of the ring upset with being played by Jericho.

[ JC: Good segment (a) setting up Punk’s unofficial return vs. Jericho at Payback and (b) setting up potential tension between Punk-Heyman that will be interesting to see play out. ]

Meanwhile, in the middle of the segment, C.M. Punk tweeted a photo attending the Angels-Dodgers MLB game in Los Angeles.

[Commercial Break. Another spot for the Thursday night Smackdown taping in Houston on July 25.]

Back live, Cole plugged the box-office success of The Rock’s Fast 6″ movie, setting records for Universal.

In-ring: Kaitlyn was standing by in the ring with Natalya. Birthday Business over and time for a Divas tag match.


7 — BELLA TWINS vs. Divas champion KAITLYN & NATALYA

The Bellas isolated Kaitlyn early on, then Natalya tagged in. Natalya had a few pin opportunities, but the Bellas used their craftiness to pin Natalya after Kaitlyn was disallowed from entering the ring. After the match, the Bellas tried to make Natalya cry by mocking her birthday on the mic.

WINNERS: Bellas at 3:41. You knew the fun wouldn’t last for Natalya in her hometown and on her birthday. Birthday + Hometown is a double combination for a character to have a ruinous night in McMahon’s book.

Locker Room: Curtis Axel was getting ready for the main event, then Bret Hart walked in to say he looks like his dad. Hart reminisced about facing Mr. Perfect (without mentioning Perfect by name), then Hart told Axel to get rid of Paul Heyman. Axel replied that just because Hart knew his dad doesn’t mean he knows him. Axel said no one would give him the time of day before Heyman came along and believed in him. He told Hart to enjoy his Appreciation Night while he beats the WWE champion.

In-ring: Randy Orton’s music played back in the arena. Orton came to the ring as the announcers plugged Orton and Sheamus against Rhodes Scholars up next.

[Commercial Break]

Vignette: Bray Wyatt is coming to WWE. And he’s bringing the Wyatt Family – Brodie Lee and Erick Rowan. They are the new faces of fear. Overall, the video looked like a great Criminal Minds video introducing the crime or criminal.

In-ring: Rhodes Scholars were ringside back from break. After a look at Damien Sandow and Sheamus having a run-in on Smackdown, Sheamus was introduced as Orton’s partner for tag action. JBL talked up Sheamus being happy about a rugby victory over the weekend, then Cole flippantly said some German team won a soccer tournament in Europe. JBL filled in the details on Bayern Munich’s victory, then the bell sounded.


Orton and Sheamus worked on Rhodes early on. During the opening exchange, Cole had the tone of a baseball announcer trying to navigate the 6th Inning of an uneventful baseball game when he’s run out of news and anecdotes.

[Q11] As the action continued to slowly play out, Cole brought up Mark Henry “going home” after Extreme Rules last Sunday. Meanwhile, the audience had the feel of a crowd watching the 6th inning of an uneventful baseball game. JBL cracked a joke about Lawler suffering a heart attack the last time he was in Canada, to which Lawler responded that he’s okay so far. Lawler then drew attention to Rhodes looking overly-tanned as Rhodes Scholars took control leading to break.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Sandow was in control of the match working on Sheamus. Meanwhile, one fan on the front row had a sign that contained about 20 words about Bret Hart in Size 10 font, violating one of the first Sign Rules that for anyone to read a sign’s message, it needs to be short and in a large font.

Orton woke up the crowd tagging in at 10:00, then he dropped Sandow with a snap DDT. Orton wanted the RKO, but Rhodes pulled Sandow out of the ring. So, Orton slid to the floor and smashed his former Legacy tag partner with a clothesline. But, Orton walked into a hard smash from Sandow.

Back in the ring, Sandow covered Orton, but Orton kicked out in-time. Cole then fed to an App Insert Video of Paul Heyman giving Curtis Axel a pre-main event pep talk about having the opportunity to take out John Cena tonight. Back in the ring, Sandow slowed down the pace working on Orton as Sheamus bounced up and down on the ring apron. Sandow’s knees and punches showed a lot of light, then Cody demanded a tag to deliver offense to Orton.

Orton broke free and tagged in Sheamus, who pounded Rhodes with signature offense. Sheamus then tagged Sandow with Ten Forearms to the Chest. He wanted more on Sandow, but Rhodes popped him with the Disaster Kick. Sandow, apparently now legal, tried to pin Sheamus, but Sheamus kicked out.

On the floor, Orton chucked Rhodes over the guardrail into the front row. Back in the ring, Sheamus dropped Sandow with White Noise. Sheamus wanted the Brogue Kick, then popped Sandow with the Brogue. Sheamus covered him for the win, leading to Sheamus and Orton celebrating in the ring. There were no signs of issues between Sheamus and Orton on this night.

WINNERS: Orton & Sheamus at 15:42. The match needed some time to warm up, concluding with a basic feel-good tag victory for the face duo.

[Q12] Up Next: Cena vs. Axel in the TV main event.

But, first a trailer for “12 Rounds 2” starring Randy Orton.

[Commercial Break]

Video Package: WWE’s National Guard partnership. Kofi Kingston narrated the first portion of the video, which spotlighted John Cena’s military work.

Smackdown plug: Randy Orton vs. Dean Ambrose in a non-title match this Friday on Smackdown.

Announcers: Cole, Lawler, and JBL plugged the Bret Hart Appreciation Night following Raw on WWE’s App. Cole then plugged the Cena-Ryback PPV main event at Payback before offering a factoid that Triple H was in all three previous Three Stages of Hell match in WWE history.

In-ring: John Cena’s music played to bring out Cena for the main event. Cena tried to get a worn-out crowd fired up before doing his routine in the ring. Dramatic music lacking the Mr. Perfect remix feel then brought out Curtis Axel. Axel, flanked by Paul Heyman, confidently strolled to the ring as the signature Mr. Perfect tune kicked in about 30 seconds in. Once Axel entered the ring, the bell sounded eight minutes before the top of the hour.

9 — WWE champion JOHN CENA vs. CURTIS AXEL (w/Paul Heyman) — non-title match

As the match started, the announcers listed some of Heyman’s previous big-name clients, including Big Show, Rob Van Dam (interesting name-drop), Bam Bam Bigelow, and Steve Austin. Cena got the upper-hand, so Axel dipped to the outside to regroup with Heyman.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Axel threw Cena hard into the ring steps on the outside. Axel then re-entered the ring, prompting Heyman to tell Axel to back up and take the count-out win. But, Cena made it back into the ring at eight. Axel followed up with hard kicks to the gut as Cole told Axel’s story of feeling like he was “held down” for a while until Heyman believed in him.

[Q13 — over-run] Meanwhile, something was happening in the stands, drawing the crowd’s attention. The fans on the front-row looked behind them, with the majority of the audience ignoring the match in the ring. So, Axel grabbed a mathold to try to wear down Cena. The crowd continued to focus on whatever was happening in the crowd as Axel worked on the nervehold. Axel then released the hold and screamed at the crowd to pay attention to him.

The crowd tried to re-focus with a pro and against Cena Chant, then Cena made his trademark comeback. Cena wanted the Five Knuckle Shuffle, and he connected. He wanted the AA, but Axel blocked and delivered a dropkick for a two count. Axel followed with a double sledgehammer from the second rope before missing with a second attempt. Cena then bodyslammed Axel for a nearfall.

At 10:00, Cena ate a boot to the injured shoulder for a two count. Axel wanted to follow with a sidesweep, but Cena blocked. Axel blocked an AA, then executed a Perfectplex, popping the crowd. But, Cena kicked out of the pin attempt. “You got a two count on The Champ!” Heyman shouted at Axel, who then missed with a corner attack.

Suddenly, an ambulance siren was heard in the arena. The ambulance sped to ringside, drawing John Cena’s attention to the stage area. Cena, unconcerned about getting a victory tonight, walked up to the ambulance and opened the door, but no one was inside. Meanwhile, the bell sounded in the background to signal a count-out.

Cena went to the back-door of the ambulance and carefully opened the doors, but no one was there. Suddenly, Ryback ambushed Cena from behind. Ryback smashed Cena with right hands before chucking him onto the stage. As the crowd chanted, “Goldberg,” Ryback wanted to finish Cena with a spear through the LED lights, but Cena avoided. Ryback then shoved Cena off the stage to the floor below. As Ryback walked off, Justin Roberts announced Curtis Axel as the winner of the match via count-out.

In the ring, Axel was shown celebrating with Heyman. On the floor, Cena was shown standing up with hands on hips, selling annoyance. Cena continued to sell annoyance, then he sarcastically applauded Axel in the ring. Raw anti-climatically went off the air seven minutes past the top of the hour with Axel standing in the ring with his arm raised.

WINNER: Axel via count-out at 11:56. Axel has worked with Triple H and John Cena in TV main events in his first two weeks since being re-packaged, but it’s just not clicking and working yet.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Flat show. It wasn’t like the crowd was just sitting there waiting three hours for Bret Hart Night; it just seemed like they were only into a few things. Not even John Cena felt over tonight. Very different from last week’s show, which had the vibe of a hot product.

After Raw went off the air, the “Bret Hart Appreciation Night” post-game show started on WWE’s App. Jerry Lawler was shown in the ring welcoming everyone to the post-show festivities. Lawler said today was declared Bret Hart Day in Calgary, then Lawler fed to a video package documenting Hart’s wrestling and family story.

Back live in the arena, the crowd was shown applauding. Lawler said that’s how you get a day named in your honor, then Lawler welcomed out Bret Hart to a loud hometown ovation. Hart entered the ring and played to the crowd before shaking hands with Lawler, who then read a long proclamation from the City of Calgary. Lawler concluded by announcing May 27, 2013 as Bret Hart Day.

Hart received the proclamation before speaking that this is a huge honor. He said he feels his father, Owen (huge pop), and the Bulldog. Bret paused for the loud Owen pop, which was followed by a loud “Owen, Owen” chant. Bret said this is about as proud of a day as you could have. He said this is a huge honor that goes beyond winning titles; more genuine, because it comes from the people of Calgary. Hart said he can feel the presence of Stu, Owen, and Bulldog right now.

Hart then thanked his kids for putting up with his wrestling schedule over 23 years. Hart got emotional and cleared his throat as WWE showed family members in the crowd. Hart said he was always proud of representing Stampede Wrestling, including Dynamite Kid and Ed Whalen. Hart transitioned to his WWE career. He said when he first started, most Americans didn’t know where Calgary is, but ten years later, they knew Calgary.

Hart started talking about the top wrestlers he worked with: Mr. Perfect and Bulldog, then thanked his wife and “Stephanie” for what she’s meant to him the last few years. Hart thanked Jerry Lawler, then brought up some of Lawler’s joke-book quips about Stu and Helen back in the ’90s. Hart said Owen was upset, but Helen was so happy about it. “My mom actually became a wrestling fan,” Hart said. Hart said that was a long-shot that she would ever be a fan, then thanked Lawler for being one of the greatest villains he worked with.

Hart continued that over the 14 years he was in WWE, he never had enough matches in Calgary. Hart got emotional again, then Lawler said it goes without saying that Calgary loves Bret Hart.

– Lawler then started the Parade of Guests by introducing Pat Patterson, who walked to the ring waving to the crowd. Pat hit the ring and said he’s been in the business for 55 years, he’s a Canadian, and he wants to say it: “Bret, you will always be the best wrestling Canadian of all-time.” Pat got on his knees to salute Bret, prompting Bret to say he always get scared when Pat gets on his knees. Lawler cleaned up the line by saying Pat didn’t take too many bumps.

– Lawler then brought out Chris Jericho to salute Bret. Jericho shook hands with Bret and hugged him before taking the mic. Jericho said it’s really cool for him to be out here standing in the ring with Bret. “Finally, for the first time ever,” he said. Jericho said he never wrestled Bret, but he played the match in his head for years. Jericho said he always wanted to come to Calgary to be like his two heroes, Owen Hart (big pop) and Bret Hart.

Jericho told a story about a Stu Hart birthday show in the ’90s. He said he wasn’t booked on the show – because he wasn’t good enough yet – and Bret was going to work with Bulldog a few days later. Jericho recalled sheepishly suggesting Bret a finish for the match, then he referenced Sean Waltman being there to demonstrate the move. Then, two days later, Bret used the move. Jericho said he thought it was so classy to see Bret use his suggestion, drawing applause. Jericho said it inspired him to continue going on in the wrestling business. He said he hopes to be half of what Bret Hart was in wrestling.

– Lawler then carefully moved along to Survivor Series ’97. He said he hopes Hart has buried the hatchet with these next two men. The first principal, Shawn Michaels, was introduced to a solid babyface reaction. Hart smiled in the ring as Michaels made his way into the ring to dance before shaking hands with Bret. Once HBK’s music stopped, Michaels felt out the moment before speaking.

Michaels said he was expecting a lot worse, so thank you for the response. Michaels said every great hero needs an arch-enemy. “I was honored to be your Lex Luthor,” HBK said. He shook Hart’s hand and congratulated him on a fantastic career. Michaels said it was an honor, then he hugged Hart.

– Next, Lawler set up Vince McMahon’s introduction. McMahon was introduced to a mix of boos and cheers. McMahon strutted out on-stage doing his trademark walk as Hart kind of watched the crowd to see how they were going to react.

McMahon, looking aged with light make-up, hit the ring and shook hands with Hart before noting this is where Hart started and this is where he’s being honored. McMahon said Stampede was one of the greatest regional promotions ever, then Hart established his own era in WWE. He said Hart brought legitimacy to WWE that was never there before. McMahon said “the promotion” over-looked mat skills, which Hart brought to WWE. “You became WWE champion the old-fashioned way: you earned it,” McMahon said to applause.

McMahon said everyone appreciated Hart’s technical skills in the ring. Tonight, Hart should be honored as indeed the Best There Is, Was, and Ever Will Be. McMahon said Hart has done so much for Calgary, then asked when he’s going to leave this smelly town? “Just ribbing you guys,” McMahon said. But, he will be leaving on his private plane in about 30 minutes.

McMahon said this is not just about Calgary because there are fans all over the world watching Hart on the WWE App right now. He said they all want to say Thank You. Hart responded that he wants everyone to know how special this is for him. Hart said he has so many great memories in WWE and worked with so many great wrestlers. He said no one would know who Bret Hart is if it were not for WWE. Hart said he is extremely grateful and he enjoyed being a Calgarian hero.

Hart said he owes everything to Vince and has nothing but the best to say about him. He said it means a lot to him for HBK to come out here, too. Hart thanked Jerry, Chris, and Pat, too. Hart said this job is tough, but these are the great moments that you take with you. Hart thanked everyone for being here for him, then he will continue trying to be the best Old Hero in Calgary. Hart offered some sort of inside-joke, then said he is very proud to be from Calgary and Canada.

Hart’s music played, then Lawler asked the crowd to give it up for Bret Hart one more time. As Hart’s music played, the locker room came out on-stage to salute Bret Hart. Natalya and a full-headed Tyson Kidd then entered the ring to hug Bret. WWE showed John Cena leading the locker-room applauding Hart from the stage, then WWE showed Hart, Kidd, and Natalya in the ring again.

After another shot of the locker room on-stage, WWE showed Hart standing next to Patterson soaking up the crowd response. WWE then slow-motion-re-played Hart greeting Jericho, HBK, and McMahon. A slow-motion shot of Hart waving to the crowd ended the post-show at 11:39 EST, about 30 minutes after Raw went off the air.

And so concludes Bret Hart, HBK, and Vince McMahon’s Redemption Stories, as told by WWE.

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS 2013 FLASHBACK: 5 YRS AGO – WWE in Salt Lake City, Utah (5-24-13): Ryback vs. Jericho, Shawn Michaels Appreciation Night, The Shield vs. Bryan & Kane & Sheamus, Cody & Sandow, Bray, Cody, Cesaro, Outlaws

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