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Now THAT is How You Start the New Year!
January 8, 2013

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
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on Twitter --/-- View Pyro's Videos on Youtube

Happy 2013 everyone! I’m Jon Michael, better known as PyroFalkon, and you’re reading Online Onslaught! Which I’m sure you already know! Our hiatus is over, and it’s wrestling time.

Normally I spend the precap blathering about some personal story or whatever, but today, I’m in a wrestling mood. Nothing really major happened over the half-assed efforts that WWE churns out over the holidays, but that’s sort of the point: tonight is going to be a stunt-booked spectacle as a precursor to the Road to WrestleMania. Add in the fact that that I’m physically exhausted from building exercise equipment for the whole weekend, and I’m in the mood to relax with one of my favorite hobbies.

I’m so stoked about tonight that I’m actually going to be paying a moderate amount of attention to what’s going on, since we’ve got The Rock in the house! I absolutely cannot wait for a Rock vs. CM Punk promo, because that would thrill this and possibly a couple other universes, especially if WWE’s “Creative” Team stays the hell away and lets Punk and Rock just rip into each other for a half-hour.

I’m in such a mood for tonight that I even made this…

That is how you craft a snack, people! My stomach will hate me in the morning—I need to remember not to buy that brand of jalapeño peppers since I actually enjoy having taste buds—but that’s Future Jon’s problem. Present Jon just wants all of that cheese in his gullet.

But before my fingers get too greasy, let’s get to RAW, where awesomeness will ensue. TLC title match, The Rock, and Triscuits… Can’t better than this. Let’s roll!

Segment 1: It’s John Cena who opens our show tonight, to a surprisingly pro-Cena crowd. Oh wait, there’s the boos. It just took them a minute.

Cena’s pre-entrance words are “It’s a new year! How ‘bout it?” before he heads on down to the ring. Before he talks, we get a video recap of Cena summoning magic poo to coat Dolph Ziggler and AJ during last week’s RAW, because Cena is the paragon of maturity.

Cena runs down the main attractions of tonight in case you haven’t been paying attention the last couple weeks. He surprisingly hypes up The Rock’s appearance, and promises he’ll be in the Royal Rumble this year.

But here comes Dolph Ziggler (sporting one hell of a shiner), AJ, and Big E Langston. Dolph says the fans may have shown up for Rock or the Punk/Ryback title match, but they’re going to remember them tonight. AJ adds with some sour grapes blathering that was written from any ex-girlfriend’s playbook. Cena hilariously lampshades AJ’s “sixth-grade wiener joke,” which somehow leads to him goading the crowd to do the wave… three times.

Dolph isn’t having this shit. He’s not in the mood for humor, and he’s sick of Cena “running from him.” So Dolph will join Cena in the Royal Rumble, but his goal won’t be to win, but to simply force Cena to lose.

Cena cracks another couple of jokes, then randomly says he’s done talking and invites Dolph down to fight. Dolph, who can’t seem to remember his own promo from five seconds ago, declines. But then Big E Langston picks up the mic and basically accepts the challenge for Dolph, which doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense. Dolph continues saying no, but I guess AJ’s and Langston’s fast talking convinces him to try.

After the commercials, of course.

Segment 2 [Singles Match]: John Cena defeats Dolph Ziggler (w/ AJ & Big E Langston) by pin. Solid match. It’s clear that Cena and Dolph play well together.

Cena starts off with all the offense, so it’s AJ and Langston who try to run interference. It’s moderately successful, as it helps Dolph start the heel beatdown sequence. But soon the ref gets annoyed and tosses the both of them from ringside, which also magically gives Cena a recovery.

But, this is no standard Cena match. Cena might be back on offense, but it’s back-and-forth offense. Cena can’t fully contain Dolph, and we see counter after counter, including Dolph landing cleanly on his feet from an FU attempt. Good stuff.

Eventually Dolph has the momentum and tries his standing scissored rear naked choke. Cena eventually fights it off by basically throwing Dolph backwards, which sends him flailing… directly into the ref, who takes an elbow to the temple. Cena loses a shoe as he quickly follows up on the throw with the STF, and Dolph kinda-sorta-maybe taps once, but not really. Not that it matters, since the ref is down and out.

Cena’s back is to the ramp as he applies the hold, so he doesn’t see Langston hauling ass to the ring. Langston completely decimates Cena, even hitting his “finisher” (a falling gutbuster on his shoulder). He drapes Dolph’s arm on Cena’s body, then leaves. Still no ref, so… Oh, here comes another one… who actually makes the count?

Okay, wait, wait, wait, wait. Are you telling me that we’re supposed to buy the fact that the referees watch the matches so they can run down and replace an injured ref, but don’t see the interference that just happened?

Think, Pyro… Okay, so, the referee was told “Go out and replace that one,” but while he was running through the back halls, that’s when Langston did his interference, so by the time the second ref got there and “took control,” he had been running through the halls and magically didn’t know what had happened because TV monitors don’t exist in the exact pathway that the ref took.

…Yes, that satisfies the plot elements. And completely destroys what brain cells were left after those ridiculously hot jalapeño peppers.

Anyway… so the second ref makes the count, but Cena kicks out at two. Two seconds later, he hits a bad-looking FU and makes the pin.

Meh, whatever. The fans loved it, and I’m in too good of a mood to over-think the plothole.

After the match, Cena grabbed his discarded shoe, then flung it at Michael Cole, who managed to think fast and actually caught it! Cena just laughed his ass off as he celebrated on the corners. Cute.

And… we’re going right into the next match? Nah, there’ll be commercials during or after the entrances, right?

Ah, yep. I’m good. Or I watch too much wrestling.

Segment 3 [Singles Match for the Divas Title]: Kaitlyn defeats Eve by intentional countout, but Eve retains. Definitely a non-standard divas match, Eve took a page out of Aksana’s playbook (a phrase I can’t believe I just typed) and went for head-targeted offense. Eve went for submission after submission, transitioning from head to body to leg as Kaitlyn tried to counter out. A sweet counter came during Eve’s attempt at a standing leg lock: Kaitlyn countered by putting herself in the reverse-crabwalk position, shimmied toward Eve, then managed to get herself into a reverse handstand while Eve maintained the leg lock. From there, Kaitlyn gave her locked leg an extra push, which magically made Eve flip over and land on her back. Impractical for reality, but pretty sweet to watch for pro wrestling.

From there, the ref completely loses control as Eve huddles in a corner. Kaitlyn wants to go after her, but the ref holds her back three times, ordering her to tie her boot laces. Kaitlyn finally complies, so Eve kicks her in the face. The ref then gets mad at Eve and says she needs to tie her laces, to which Eve hilariously responds “Not my fault” before resuming kicking Kaitlyn’s ass. Adorable.

Eve goes on with the heel beatdown sequence, including a sick reverse bridging necklock, which made my spine hurt just watching. Kaitlyn countered out eventually and managed a pin, but couldn’t close the deal. She maintained momentum and hit a sick spiking reverse DDT, but still couldn’t get the pin. Kaitlyn continued, then set up her finisher.

Eve managed to elbow Kaitlyn in the face several times, then bailed. Kaitlyn tried to chase her, but Eve was too quick. She took her title from the timekeeper, then bailed out through the crowd. Kaitlyn was not pleased.

Segment 4: Santino Marella is in the back and talking to Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat! Santino puts him over, then says that he sorta wishes the Dragon and the Cobra could have met.

Steamboat wants to reply, but then Wade Barrett arrives and laughs about “the has-been and the never-was” conversing. Steamboat looks barely annoyed, though Santino is pretty upset. Barrett says that now he’s the Intercontinental Title, it finally means something again. And Steamboat isn’t some fire-breathing legend; he’s just an old man blowing smoke.

Barrett walks away, and Steamboat offers to be in Santino’s corner for apparently his match tonight with Barrett. Santino is cool with it, then Steamboat says the unfortunate phrase, “Barrett, I’ll show you tonight how much smoke this old man can blow.” The crowd cheered, but depending on their maturity level, I’m pretty sure they were doing it for the wrong reasons.

Segment 5: It’s Captain Neckbeard to talk about some stupid crap! He puts himself over since he’ll so totally win the Royal Rumble, but then 3MB arrives to say that they are now in the Royal Rumble too! And they’ll totally win and main event WrestleMania!

Orton just laughs them off and asks which of them he’s facing tonight, which seems random. Heath Slater suggests that Orton himself picks his poison... which he says as Jinder Mahal does the Angry Girlfriend Head Shake and Drew McIntyre does some sort of hula dance. I love these guys.

Orton chooses their “front man,” Slater, and says that after their match, “You won’t be playing the air guitar anymore… you’ll be playing the harp.” Orton leaves, and Slater appeals to his bandmates to ask just what the hell that meant. Clearly, none of these guys even know what a harp is.

Segment 6 [Tag Match]: Team Rhodes Scholars defeat Team Friendship by pin. Solid match, and it gives TRS an argument to get back in the tag title hunt.

Kane opens the match and dominates both heels. Momentum continues when Kane tags in DB for a double-team move. DB sticks with arm-targeted offense Sandow, then goes for a series of solid technical wrestling when Cody tags in. Once DB starts to try going punchy-kicky however, Cody manages to counter out of the momentum and tags in Sandow after putting DB down.

Sandow says to hell with technical wrestling and stomps the blood out of DB’s aorta. Sandow also screams “C’mon Goatface!,” but his voice cracks on the last syllable while he screams at the top of his lungs. He tries to repeat his line in a deeper voice, but it’s too late: both commentators start snickering, and Lawler echoes him just to mock him. Pretty funny stuff.

The heels cut the ring in half and start their heel beatdown sequence, including Sandow hitting the Russian leg sweep and float followed by the Elbow of Distain (Cole didn’t bother with incorrect Latin for once) and a “You’re welcome!” shouted at the top of his lungs and his own version of the Angry Girlfriend Head Shake.

DB soon gets the hot tag after that, and Kane creates some distance, then proceeds to climb to the top rope… and slips off twice. Okay, it was only one foot that slipped, but that’s still kinda scary. Kane punches a charging Sandow, then sets his feet correctly and hits his flying lariat.

Kane maintains house of fire mode but can’t close the deal. He wants to hit the chokeslam, but Sandow bails. Kane tags out to let DB hit a running flying knee from the apron, then he tosses Sandow back in the ring. DB tries to fling Sandow to the opposite corner, but Sandow reverses it, so DB does his trademark “jump to the top rope and back flip off.”

…Except this time, DB crumbles and immediately holds onto his right knee. As the ref asks if he’s okay, Sandow arrives to stomp DB’s MCL, then goes and tags out. Clearly kayfabe, but I admit my heart jumped for a second.

So from there, the heels just targeted DB’s knee, including a rope-assisted modified Figure Four, which was super-illegal. Kane eventually tried running some interference, but Cody did a baseball slide to put him down. DB had a moment where he might have had a chance, but Cody kept that knee targeted and soon hit the Cross Rhodes. No getting up from that.

The heels quickly bail as Kane checks on DB in the ring. The heels taunt their way up the ramp, just to be jerks. Boo!

Pre-Segment 7: Drew McIntyre decided to play air guitar while bending over backwards on the middle rope and, once he finished his solo, did a laying-down crucifix from the same position and smiled as he apparently offered to hug the entire front row. Drew, you are my new favorite.

Segment 7 [Singles Match]: Randy Orton defeats Heath Slater (w/ 3MB) by pin. Lame, and it went down exactly how you think it does: Orton on offense, 3MB interferes, Orton fights them off, hits the RKO, pins.

After the match, 3MB hits the ring, and everyone eats RKOs. Feh.

Segment 8 [Singles Match]: Wade Barrett squashes Santino Marella (w/ Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat) by pin. The only surprising thing about this match was that nothing surprising happened.

After the match, Steamboat checked on Santino. Barrett looked like he was going to jump him, but Steamboat saw him, so he stood and took off his suit jacket. Barrett just laughed and left. It can’t be over between those two, can it? [Ed. Note: Junior Steamboat vs. Wade Barrett for the IC Title at WM. Book it!]

Segment 9: Matt Striker interviews Sheamus in the back, who says that he’ll totally win the Rumble and win the main event at WrestleMania even though it might take him slightly longer than 18 seconds. Then 3MB arrives (all still selling their necks after the RKOs), and Sheamus amusingly calls them “Three Em Bieber.” Cute.

3MB isn’t in a laughing mood though. Sheamus continues insulting them, then seems to imply he wants a match with them that will end with a duet, or something. It’s confusing, and 3MB doesn’t know what to make of it. Neither do I, honestly.

Segment 10 [Singles Match]: Antonio Cesaro defeats Khali (w/ Natalya & Hornswoggle) by pin. Subpar match, but that’s not Cesaro’s fault. Although, Cesaro ended the match with his Neutralizer, and once again he just straight dead-lifted Khali’s near-400 pounds of weight to get in position. That’s just… ridiculous. Stop giving yourself back problems, Cesaro!

Segment 11: Paul Heyman is in the back and is on the phone with someone. Brad Maddox arrives by giving a “Psst!” to Heyman’s ear from like two inches away. Heyman tries to dismiss him, but Maddox insists he could so totally be of service to Heyman and Punk. Hell, he brought his ref shirt, so he could be the referee in the TLC title match tonight!

Heyman thinks about it for a nanosecond before politely telling him to screw himself, and concludes with this awesomeness: “I don’t know why you exist, Brad Maddox, but if you ever ‘Psst!’ me again, you won’t.” Even Maddox looks creeped out… that, or he’s checking out his teeth in the reflection off Heyman’s forehead.

Segment 12 [Singles Match]: Sheamus defeats Jinder Mahal (w/ 3MB) by pin. Ah, okay, I see what’s going on. Smart money says that it’ll be Drew’s turn in the third hour. [Ed. Note: Nah, it's just a straight forward "parity" story with Sheamus and Orton matching each other until Orton turns heels. They pretty much set that in motion on the previous SD, and much as it strikes me as boring and bland, I'd say those two are now in line for a one-on-one match at WM, too.]

Similar to the first match, this wasn’t exactly entertaining. I mean, it was okay and watchable, but when we have an entire spot dedicated to an “Ass Grab of Doom,” you know it’s not exactly going to be an epic.

Jinder got one heel hope spot, but it wasn’t much. Everyone wound up eating Brogue Kicks and/or 10s of Clubs despite the fact that it was a singles match. I guess the refs are playing the “no-DQ unless the outsider actually makes contact” rule. It’ll probably change next week.

Anyway… just… meh. Pass.

Segment 13: CM Punk video montage.

Segment 14 [TLC Singles Match for the WWE Title]: Proper recap for this one, baby. I have my root beer and had two batches of my Triscuit Nachos, and I’m ready for this.

Not much feeling-out to start; it’s all Ryback, all the time with punchy-kicky. The fans fired up “Goldberg! Goldberg!,” but that gives way as does Ryback’s momentum. The fight spills outside after like thirty seconds, and Punk pulls a chair out from under the ring. Two chair shots, but it barely slows Ryback.

Still, Punk manages to maintain momentum and delivers several chair shots to start his heel beatdown sequence. After flinging Ryback into the barricade, he pulls out a ladder and puts in the ring. Ryback recovers and takes momentum back at that point, gets in the ring.

With both a chair and a ladder in the ring, Ryback calls for a quick vote. He then puts Punk up for a vertical suplex, holds him there to ask for a second vote, then drops Punk on his back on the ladder. Sick… both the shot, and the fact that Ryback had Punk’s bodyweight up there for a good thirty seconds.

Ryback has no interest in winning at this point. Ryback flings Punk out of the ring, beats the crap out of him, then floors Punk. Ryback picks up the bigger half of the stairs, then proceeds to drop them on Punk. Punk rolls out of the way, then quickly runs forward and uses the stairs as a springboard to hit a running flying enziguri. Plus a billion points for the execution there, since Punk basically only had a split-second to judge how to take off on the stairs to hit the move right.

Ryback is stunned, so Punk isn’t screwing around. He finds a fresh chair, then beats the shit out of Ryback several times. Punk preens on the stairs, then…


Stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. Ads in the middle of a title match.

As we come back, both guys are down in the ring, and a medium title is in the center of the ring. Ryback has the momentum, and be dumps Punk out of the ring. Scoop slam to Punk on the mats, then Ryback pulls out a table and leans it against the corner of the barricade. It took him too long: Punk threw a fresh chair into Ryback’s knee for bonus damage, then sets up a different table.

Again, it takes too long, so Ryback has time to recover. Ryback grabs Punk and flings him across the commentators’ table lengthwise, sorta like a dude in a bar fight sliding across the bar in an old spaghetti western. In the process, he manages to spill Lawler’s diet soda all over his white sheet. Heh. Ryback continues by smacking Punk several times with the “hood” of the table (the thing with the RAW logo on it), then tosses Punk back in the ring.

Punk desperately chop blocks Ryback’s weakened knee from the front, then follows up with a stomp to it. Punk exits the ring just long enough to fetch a fresh chair, and he uses the top of it to assault Ryback’s knee and ankle. Punk then sets up the chair to Pillmanize the ankle, then heads to the middle rope. He goes for a double-footed stomp, but Ryback moves, so Punk just stomps the canvas. More importantly, he sells that SURGICALLY REPAIRED~! knee.

Ryback attacks the ladder to get it out of the way, then does a house of fire-like sequence of clotheslines to Punk. Ryback readies his super clothesline, and the fans are going apeshit at this point with “Feed me more!” chants. He delivers the Clothesline From Hell clean, then wants to do Shellshock. Punk slips out and escapes to the outside, where Ryback charges. Punk is near the barricade though and dodges, making Ryback slam himself through the table he had leaned against the barricade.

Ryback is down, so Punk hobbles back in the ring and resets the ladder. He makes his way up, a slow process with that ankle. Ryback recovers, and both get halfway up and start punching each other. Ryback wins the exchange and Punk drops, but Punk shoves the ladder over. Ryback lands on his feet to Punk’s surprise, then picks Punk up and drops him back-first on the fallen ladder, which was leaning against the top rope. The frame bends and twists, and the bracket completely collapses, making the ladder unusable. Also unusable has to be Punk’s back… that couldn’t have felt good.

Ryback has another move in mind of some sort, maybe a Shellshock, but Punk fights out and does a roundhouse. He sets the ladder up anyway, but Ryback starts to recover. Punk does his signature running knee, then again tries to get the ladder in shape to be climbed. Again Ryback starts to recover, so again Punk hits his running knee. Punk wants to follow it up with his bulldog, but Ryback recovers, picks Punk up, and dumps him over the ropes… right through the table Punk himself had set up earlier.

Ryback intentionally collapses the ladder and shoves it away, then finds another one outside the ring. He grabs another one from under the ring and sets it up, then starts to head up. No resistance. He reaches up and touches the belt…

Lights go off! Undertaker?

Nope, lights are on again and it’s Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins on the other side of the ladder. Ryback eventually fights them off, but then Roman Reigns arrives and pulls Ryback off the ladder. Ryback isn’t having it: he roughly throws all three guys over the top rope, then heads up the ladder once again. But now The Shield is alive again. Reigns has a chair, so between that and the three-on-one assault, Ryback has no chance. The fans start chanting “Rocky! Rocky!,” but that’s not going to happen.

The Shield completely dominates. Remember that large set of stairs Punk did a flying enziguri off of earlier? The Shield sets up a table over those steps, then does their triple powerbomb to Ryback through the table, which also means he crashes into the steps. Holy shit, indeed.

Both men are down, but Heyman is on his knees and begging for Punk to recover. Punk eventually does crawl into the ring, then crawls to the ladder. His left arm is dead, but he tries to climb the ladder anyway. He gets near the top, Ryback simply can’t get up, and Punk takes the title with an arm that finally works.

Your winner, and still WWE Champion: CM Punk. Freakin’ awesome match. Spot-fest, sure, but hell yes it was good. My respect for Ryback has just jumped by an order of magnitude, and the fans’ magma-hot atmosphere was absolutely fantastic to add to it. Ryback was blowing up quite a bit through the match, but the nature of the stipulation hid it well, making it a total nonfactor unless you were paying too much attention to him. YouTube this bad boy.

I bitched about the commercial break in the middle of it, but really, they timed it well. If they absolutely had to have a commercial break during this match due to timing issues or FCC regulations or whatever, then doing it then was smart. Once we were on the other side of the break, the ladder was introduced, and from there we didn’t have to deal with a single interruption. So, yeah… I’m not happy with commercial breaks in the middle of matches on principle, but WWE got it right here, not interrupting any of the climax. That’s a net positive.

Segment 15: After commercials, Heyman is talking to Punk and congratulating him. Then Matt Striker arrives, and Punk stops him before he even asks a question. Punk assures everyone that he has nothing to do with The Shield or Maddox, and he’s sick of the questions. And he’s not happy about the idea of The Rock coming out tonight to blather… so Punk is going to go back out there and get in the first words. Oh hell yes.

Segment 16: Seems that Team Friendship isn’t so friendly now after their loss. They each blame the other for their loss to Team Rhodes Scholars earlier in the night.

Vickie Guerrero arrives and screams at them to break up their argument. She says she’s up-to-date on their medical issues, so they’re going to have a four-month follow-up examine next week with Dr. Shelby! Team Friendship then argues back and forth whether Shelby is a nerd or a monster.

Of note, “Dr. Shelby” started trending at that point. The mention of the man’s name is enough to get him trending… interesting.

Segment 17: We get a recap of what’s been going on with Alberto Del Rio lately since his face turn. Two things: we’re apparently ignoring what must have been a one-night heel turn when he ran over Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. And second, apparently his whole storyline with My Rosa Mendes has been dropped… which is fine by me, because My Rosa has done more hip popping with the Colons in the past two weeks than she did all of December. Yay, hip popping!

Segment 18 [Singles Match]: Big Show squashes Kofi Kingston by pin. So the story here is that Kofi is so frustrated with these losses that he got sloppy, and he ate the WMD within ten seconds. Also: ADR will face Show this Friday, so this is basically a message to him too.

Seeing Kofi frustrated and lose his mind may be a neat character direction. Let’s hope it amounts to something.

Segment 19: Supposedly we had The Rock “next”… but true to his word, it’s Punk who hits the ring first. Well, he hits the ring slowly, and he’s sporting a bruise on his right cheek. Just to get Rock’s goat, he’s wearing his white “Knees 2 Faces” shirt.

Punk’s first act is to remove the WWE logo box thingy from the microphone, which is one hell of a symbolic gesture. I knew this was going to be good, so my original plan was to go verbatim. However, the main event promo went on way too long (thank goodness I decided to set my DVR forward!), so I watched the whole thing first and will review the highlights. But seriously: YouTube this too. These guys put on a clinic on how to cut promos.

Punk starts off by clarifying his use of the phrase “pipe bomb.” Ultimately, he says, it’s honesty. And he’s going to lay down some honesty on all of us, since we don’t have it.

Punk doesn’t like this “perception” of him being an anti-hero who sat on the stage in Las Vegas and publicly aired his grievances, which then let his ego go too far. He did mean what he said when he said it, but his “anti-hero” persona was simply created by him so we’d cheer for him. It’s all because he knew there was a glass ceiling in WWE, and that success in the company has nothing to do with in-ring talent.

Ascent in WWE has everything to do with popularity, which is why Cena—who admitted that he had the worst year of his career in 2012—got title shots and was voted Superstar of the Year. It’s why Daniel Bryan, a serious and dangerous mat wrestler, has to put a smile on his face and belittles himself with catchphrases. It’s why Brodus Clay, a 400-pound monster, soils his hands with the fans’ kids just to dance like a moron in the ring. It’s why an invisible child has a better position on the card than “a workhorse like Tyson Kidd.” That last one really resonates with the crowd, so Punk has to sort of audible that we’re “playing into his hands” even though he literally says “but that’s the way this company works” within the same sentence.

Punk blames the fans for the condition of WWE because we’re too content and complacent to deal with complexity and intelligent developments. It’s always been like that, and no one has ever achieved a modicum of success without that popularity and selling out… except him.

But Punk is the best of all time, not just of the “modern era.” Hell, he would have been champ for 20 years if he was in Bruno Sammartino’s time, since it’s easy to defend your title when you only wrestle once a month in Madison Square Garden. Punk wrestles tough matches week in and week out, and he is successful not because of the fans, but in spite of the fans.

Punk assures us that he’s the most honest man here since everyone else just sucks up to the crowd. (To prove his point, Punk mocks cheap pops, and he gets those cheap pops.) Punk doesn’t care about the fans; he knows he’s a bad guy, but Flair comes out to say he did everything for the fans. Or Shawn Michaels will come out to his Hall of Fame acceptance speech and say that he did his career just to get the fans acceptance. Or Edge will be forced to retire and say that he misses performing for the fans most of all. That makes them all weak or dishonest, but Punk is strong and honest: he’s the best in the world.

Punk is signaled by the stagehands that they need to go to commercial. Punk calls out the Truck Monkeys and says that they don’t go to break until the champ says they’re going to break. And right now, he needs to explain something to all the fans… “You don’t matter! You don’t matter! Nothing any of you want matters!”

But we’re going to break anyway.

Segment 20: Punk is still talking. He points out that he didn’t just beat Alberto Del Rio for his title, he beat the system. He’s beat everyone who has come up against him, and he wasn’t just beating them: he was beating all of us who wanted to see him lose. He’s going to do the same thing to The Rock. We’re all losers, and we do not get to win.


The commentators just shut the hell up as Rocky makes his full entrance, including snubbing Punk while he does his corner-to-corner arm raises. Rock gets a mic—one with the WWE logo on it—and he says that he waited so he could hear everything Punk needed to say. So now that he has, Rock knows exactly the kind of man he’s dealing with: someone who’s very, very delusional.

Rock gives massive props to Punk for 414 straight days of being champion. But the real number that haunts Punk has to be 20. As in, 20 excuses running around in Punk’s head, 20 hairs standing straight up on Punk’s “straight edge scrotum,” and in 20 days Punk’s time is up.

According to Rock, Punk is seriously mistaken about one big thing. See, Punk has claimed that he rejected the people when he became WWE Champion, but that’s not true: it’s us fans who rejected Punk. And we rejected Punk because he promised change, he promised a revolution, hell: he promised us ice cream, and he couldn’t do any of it! And Rock follows that up with a line that only Rock can deliver in his own way: “You couldn’t deliver ice cream if the Dairy Queen, Carvel, and Cookie Puss drove an ice cream truck straight up your ass!” How Punk can hear a line like that and not laugh is awesome.

Rock wants Punk to open his ears: he’s hearing the voices of the fans. “You claim to be voice of the voiceless, but in WWE, there is no such thing.” And to prove it, Rock leads the voices to chant “Cookie Puss! Cookie Puss!” at CM Punk. Ha! But Punk isn’t impressed: he calls us puppets for chanting about ice cream just like he got us to do 18 months ago. And we can chant anything we want: we still don’t get to win, and Rock still doesn’t get to win.

Rock doesn’t buy that: the fans have already won! We won the moment Rock got up and drove to the arena just to scream “FINALLY The Rock has come back to Tampa!” And The Rock is back for three reasons: to entertain us, to stop Punk, and after a full decade to win the WWE Championship.

Rock has watched every episode of RAW, and he’s seen Punk be a deceiving, back-pedaling jerk. Rock fires off another insult that’s a swing and a miss so we’ll skip it, but then Rock gets serious: Rock says that Punk has one of the most innovative and creative minds professional wrestling has ever seen, but that Punk fails to use it. He became WWE Champion… and the biggest jerk WWE has ever seen. So don’t ever say the people don’t matter. The people have always mattered. It’s Punk who hasn’t mattered.

Punk starts to run down his resume, but Rock counters “It doesn’t matter if you matter!” The only thing that matters is that Punk knows for sure that there is no way he can stop The Rock from becoming WWE Champion.

Punk lays the title on the mat, then gets in Rock’s face as it lays between their feet. Punk drops to his serious voice as he says that unlike a lot of people, Punk is glad Rock is back. Punk doesn’t care if Rock works at WWE is here every day or a single day out of the year: Punk will kick his ass…

“This isn’t Candy Land… I’m like nobody you ever faced before. You can make fun of the color of my T-shirt, and you can talk about pie, and you can sing songs, and you can make your rhymes, and you can do your tired, lame-ass shtick. You need to know that come Royal Rumble, and you have about three weeks to realize this, I’m going to kick your ass because I’m the best in the world.

“I’m the best thing going today, I’m the best guy you’ve ever stepped foot in the ring with. And you need to understand: Congratulations Rock, you just graduated from the kiddie table, but you just bit off more than you can chew. You’re playing little league with your little insults, and your rhymes, and your ‘millions and millions’ and your ‘finally’s’; and I’m in the big leagues, and I’m swinging for the fence! You need to understand that your little jabs, and your insults, it’s all kiddie games. You can’t leave a mark on the champ’s face. Come Royal Rumble, understand… when you step in the ring, your arms are just too short to box with God!”

Holy shit, what a line! Most of the fans applaud and cheer that line, to hell with character alignments. But Rock isn’t falling for it…

“You may think The Rock is boxing with God… but The Rock knows for a fact that you are going one-on-one with the Great One. Don’t you think for one second that The Rock doesn’t know bad you are, how dangerous you are, how tough you are. The Rock knows that: 414 days! The Rock knows the last time we’re in the middle of this ring, you hit The Rock with a GTS and you knocked him out cold. Cold, as a block of ice.

“The Rock didn’t forget it. You hurt The Rock, you embarrassed The Rock. He said it before, he’ll say it again: in 20 days, time’s up.”

Rock adds an extremely complicated insult that asks for Punk to ink up his left butt cheek with candy, and ink up his right butt cheek with Rock’s size 15 boot as a reminder that Rock will kick his candy ass at Royal Rumble! Throw in a Rock Bottom out of nowhere, and the fans completely lose their shit.

Punk hits the canvas and rolls out of the ring, selling the back and neck. He crawls away to the ramp side of the ring. Rock holds up Punk’s belt and poses with it, then talks some trash (off-microphone) as he tosses the belt into Punk’s carcass.

Final Thoughts: Rock’s time isn’t done for the week, as he’ll be on SmackDown this Friday. I’m already stoked. I could read the spoilers, but I do my ever-loving best to avoid them.

I do my damnedest not to be biased when I write reviews or recaps, but I’m not so stringent about my biases with pro wrestling. And it’s no secret that Punk and Rock are in my top-5 wrestlers of all time, so this… this was awesome. It didn’t have the “punch” that Punk’s famous Las Vegas monologue did, but it was pretty hot. If I have to play devil’s advocate, I’ll say that I wish Rock was around more so this feud could have had a slow burn instead of a three-week torching, but whatever; they did a fantastic job with this push, and I’m interested in seeing where they’re going forward.

I really don’t have much more to say that I haven’t already, and it’s 3:15am as I finish up this section, so my brain is completely fried. I think I covered my opinions on the undercard well enough in the body of the recap that… uh… I… don’t need to type more. Yeah, words are failing me.

So, I think I can sum it up this way: this was a great episode, but it’s mostly from stunt-booking, so there’s no way they can keep it up. But as a signal to the start of Road to WrestleMania, and for the Road to Royal Rumble, it was fantastic; 2013 is off to a good start. Check it out, enjoy it, and I’ll see you this weekend for the SmackDown recap.

Episode Grade: A



SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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