"WWE Battleground" is in the books and it left a less than positive impression on those who tuned in. The show ended with a finish that wasn't a finish, as Big Show appeared and knocked out both Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan, meaning there was no winner of the WWE Championship match. So the company is still without a top champion.
Elsewhere on the show, CM Punk was able to get a measure of revenge on Paul Heyman, by cheating himself to a win over Ryback. However, the best match of the night featured Cody Rhodes and Goldust scoring a win over The Shield to get their jobs back in WWE. Of course, seeing as Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are evil, they'll surely make things difficult for the Rhodes family.
"WWE RAW" kicks off at 8 p.m. ET. Follow along with Zap2it's live blog as we see exactly how WWE plans to explain the non-finish fans paid to see. It's already been announced that Stephanie McMahon will kick off the show with a message for Big Show.
8:01 p.m. - Stephanie is introduced as "one of the principal owners of WWE." That's because they haven't assigned her a fake corporate title get, like how Triple H is COO. Stephanie echoes the thoughts of the fans when she says the main event was ruined by Big Show's interference. She's not wasting any time calling the giant to the ring to answer for his sins. What's the over/under on him crying this early in the show?
Of course, she takes him to task for being such a loser in life. The story behind all of this is that Big Show somehow lost all his money and his family is falling apart. The stock market isn't kind to wrestlers. Steph says that WWE owns Big Show and he doesn't get free will unless they give it to him. She then demands he get down on his knees to beg forgiveness. He doesn't.
Finally, Big Show find his dignity somewhere. He says the McMahon's told him to knock out Bryan, but he punched Orton because he wanted to.You see, no one likes Randy Orton. Stephanie retaliates by slapping Big Show and firing him. Working in WE's human resources department must be a nightmare.
8:09 p.m. - The first match of the night is announced as Daniel Bryan will team with Cody Rhodes and Goldust to go against all three members of The Shield. If last night is any indication, this will be the best thing on the show.
8:14 p.m. - Dolph Ziggler and Damien Sandow are the first match out of the gate, in a rematch from their bout on the "WWE Battleground" preshow. Even though it wasn't featured on the pay per view, the two had one of the best matched of the night.
8:23 p.m. - Unlike at "Battleground," this match is almost all Sandow. So much for that injured knee, huh? It makes sense to have Sandow looking strong, because he's got the guaranteed Money in the Bank World Heavyweight Championship contract that he can cash in at any time. He needs to look like a threat, because he's destined to be champion. Luckily, Ziggler is up to the job of making almost anyone look great
8:28 p.m. - Somehow Dolph still sneaks out the victory after a fameasser, that thing Billy Gunn used to do. So much for Sandow looking like a threat. Another great match between the two, though.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Backstage, Stephanie is reading Brad Maddox the riot act. It looks like he's about to cry. Since Big Show has been fired, the role of weeping wrestling personality is open. He should absolutely apply. Stephanie is making him go to the ring and beg for the audience's forgiveness. For some reason, it doesn't seem like the audience will be very understanding.
8:35 p.m. - During commercial they brought out Bruno Sammartino to sing happy birthday to him. They then replayed the entire thing on TV. Bruno's looking great at 78 years old.
Next match is a six-diva tag contest. It's Natalya, Eva Marie and Jo Jo (Team "E! Total Divas") against Aksana, Rosa and Alicia Fox.
Michael Cole sounds like he's reading Eva Marie's Wikipedia page with all the facts he throws out. She's a San Francisco Giants fan and her hair is ready because she "has fire inside her," in case you were wondering. It's the first televised match for Eva Marie and JoJo, so it's a good thing they won after Natalya made Alicia submit to the Sharpshooter.
Winner: Natalya, Jo Jo and Eva Marie
8:42 p.m. - Brad Maddox then comes out to apologize. He says Orton and Bryan will meet one last time at "Hell in a Cell" to finally determine a WWE Champion. There will also be a special guest referee. Maddox has three possibilities, all of whom are Hall of Famers. Viewers will vote on who they want to be the match's referee. It's like "American Idol" inside a steel cage. The first option is Booker T. The others will be reviewed later in the show.
Much to the dismay of everyone, the announcers hype an appearance by Los Matadores next. That means El Torito will be back again. Don't remember El Torito? The little person WWE dresses up like a bull?
There he is. You're not allowed to forget.
8:50 p.m. - Los Matadores are facing off against 3MB once again, because what else is there for 3MB to do? Los Matadores gets the quick win, then El Torito dishes out a little offense on Heath Slater.
Winners: Los Matadores
Next up, Paul Heyman has something to say and he's bringing Curtis Axel and Ryback to do it.
8:59 p.m. - Heyman still calls himself the best in the world, because he beat CM Punk with bow hands tied behind his back. He's painting Punk as a bully and cheater, after he got the win over Ryback with a strategic low blow.
Of course, Punk doesn't want to hear that noise. So he makes his way onto the stage with a microphone. As things tend to go, this is probably where the quality of the show will jump. Punk and a microphone is always gold. "I admit to no wrong-doing. The only thing I did last night was win," he says. He's right. He also says he wants a rematch, so expect that to be officially announced for "Hell in a Cell."
Ryback wants to dish out some pain now, though. So R-Truth joins Punk for a tag team match against Axel and RyBack.
9:11 p.m. - Back from commercial and Ryback is really punishing R-Truth. "You picked the wrong fight," Heyman screams on the outside. Once Truth is good and beaten down, then Axel gets the tag. He smartly tags Ryback in again before too much time has passed. R-Truth just can't catch a break.
9:17 p.m. - Finally Truth is able to get away from Ryback and tag in Punk. He cleans house, lays out Axel with a Go To Sleep and tags Truth back in to hit that corkscrew ax kick of his and get the pin.
Winners: CM Punk and R-Truth
9:26 p.m. - The second special guest referee candidate is Hall of Famers Bob Backlund, who precisely 3% of the audience may have heard of. Backlund still looks exactly the same and spends his time screaming into the microphone, little of it making sense. Who knows what all this means, but he wants your vote. Fun fact: At one time in his career, Bob would only sign autographs for those who could name all of the U.S. Presidents in chronological order.
Bob says he will put the winner of the match in the crossface chickenwing. That could be fun. Out money is on Mick Foley being the final contender for the referee job, and the eventual winner. Nobody knows the cell more than Mick.
Next match is Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton. Randy's probably not in a good mood.
9:30 p.m. - The interesting part of the match is the in-fighting between the announcers. Randy is controlling the offense. Kofi looks like he's going to do something now and then, but Orton keeps him at bay.
9:37 p.m. - Kofi still can't catch a break, after coming back from commercial. The viewers can't catch one either, as the announcers continue to bicker with each other. It's good they have disagreements, but muttering back and forth at each other is uncomfortable to listen to. Finally, Kofi starts to mount a little offense and even nails a cross body from the top rope for a two count.
9:41 p.m. - Outside the ring, Orton takes control again, throwing Kofi around and then DDTing him on the floor. He gets Kofi back in the ring before the ten count and picks him up just long enough to hit him with an RKO for the victory.
Winner: Randy Orton
While Orton celebrates, Daniel Bryan attacks from behind and it's a genuine pull-apart brawl. It's entirely one-sided though, as referees try to pull Bryan off of Orton. In the end, Randy literally runs away in fear. That was exciting and establishes Bryan as a threat.
9:50 p.m. - Vickie Guerrero is around for some kind of announcement, and Alberto Del Rio tries to convince her to give him an easy match. Doesn't sound like it worked.
Then the last referee contender is named and Mick Foley it is not. It's the "Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels, who is no stranger to Hell in a Cell himself. Michaels even ditched the crazy mountain man beard he's been wearing in recent months. Shawn says that even though he and Triple H are best friends, he's here for business. HBK also lets the crowd knows he trained Daniel Bryan, but even that won't taint the job he does as referee, if chosen.
Why is there even a vote? Have the fans ever not chosen Michaels? Shawn refers to him as HBShizzle, which the crowd immediately starts chanting. If this leads to a heel turn by HBK, babies are going to cry. For the second time tonight, announcers teach the audience how to install an app on their phones. Spoilers: "Click install."
10:02 p.m. - As Del Rio comes to the ring for his match, the announcers say that RVD is taking some time off. Then Vickie introduces Alberto's opponent for his match, Ricardo Rodriguez. Del Rio is ecstatic, Ricardo looks terrified.
Vickie then distracts Del Rio with the announcement that he would defend his title at "Hell in a Cell" against John Cena, who is currently out injured. Alberto is flabbergasted and somehow loses the match to Ricardo. Then Del Rio goes to work on Rodriguez outside of the ring, trying to break his arm with a steel chair.
Winner: Ricardo Rodriguez
Who knows if the Cena announcement is real, probably not. Why would he go after what is, essentially, a secondary title? The announcers are acting as if the match is actually going to happen, so this may be the plan.
10:08 p.m. - Cena has confirmed the news himself on Twitter. Looks like he's definitely back for "Hell in a Cell" after missing the last two pay per views due to injury.
WWE has announced on their website that A.J. Lee suffered a concussion during her match at "Battleground" and was being kept out of in-ring competition until she's healed.
10:13 p.m. - Next up it's Fandango vs. Zack Ryder. The match is very important, that's why Jerry Lawler spends most of it talking about how short Summer's dress is. Not that there's a lot of match to talk about. Fandango puts Ryder out of his misery with a leg drop.
The winner of the vote is also revealed. It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that Shawn Michaels will be the special referee. What's surprising is he only got a little over 60% of the vote. There was a contingent of fans that wanted Backlund to be referee. That would have been the most entertaining option.
10:24 p.m. - Next comes The Real Americans vs. Santino Marella and The Greal Khali, again. The match was a last minute addition to "Battleground" and easily the weak spot of the night, so presenting it again on free TV is a curious decision.
The highlight of the match is, once again, Antonio Cesaro putting out Khali with a giant swing for the win. After the match Hornswoggle gets swung around too, before Santino saves the day.
Winners: The Real Americans
Up next The Miz interviews himself, which should be weird. Hopefully he'll ask what happened to his own career. After all, he main evented "Wrestlemania" a couple years ago, now he's going to talk to himself on live TV.
10:36 p.m. - Before Miz can even get to interviewing himself, enter the Wyatt Family. This can't be good for Miz. He evades a beating from the family, but it looks like this may continue. Maybe this will give Miz something meaningful to do.
Backstage, Triple H finally arrives. It's good of him to show up for the last 20 minutes of the show. He says he'll be at ringside for the main event.
10:44 p.m. - Time for the main event, ans tonight Goldust gets his own entrance, as does Cody Rhodes. Naturally, Bryan makes his way to the ring to the normal chorus of "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
Triple H makes his way to the ring to his "Bow Down to the King" theme. He really should have a crown.
Seth Rollins' idea of trash talking Goldust is calling him a freak. Someone needs to get Seth a tape of Attitude Era Goldust. Freak doesn't even begin to cover it. The Shield is obviously the better team as they shout words of advice and encouragement at whichever member is in the ring. It's a small touch, but makes it clear they act as a singular unit.
10:55 p.m. - Triple H is watching the match intently as The Shield continues to wear down Cody. Finally h gets a tag to Bryan who brings the fight to everyone in his way, even hitting a top rope frankensteiner on Rollins.
Bryan slaps the Yes lock on Rollins but Ambrose brings a chair into the mix. The ref calls for a disqualification, but Triple H demands the match goes on with no DQs. Al seems to be going well until Orton appears from the crowd and RKOs Bryan, allowing Rollins to get the pin.
Winners: The Shield
After the match, Triple H sicks The Shield on the Rhodes brothers and Daniel. That brings out a fired Big Show. How did he even get in the building? He can't afford a ticket. Triple H hides behind The Shield as Show comes to the ring. Smells like a setup.
Big Show has Triple H where he wants him, but The Shield pounces as Hunter screams "Finish him!" Show still fights them off and hits Triple H with the knock out punch. "RAW" ends with Daniel Bryan standing over a knocked out Triple H, leading the crowd in a "Yes!" chant.
Photo/Video credit: WWE