by Neil Cathan
What if…John Cena’s Worst Year Ever Actually Was?
What if…The Planned Dean Ambrose/Mick Foley Program Had Happened?
The Build To Night of Champions:
The first RAW after Summerslam opens with John Cena, still WWE Champion, heading down to the ring, only to be interrupted by Daniel Bryan charging out from the back. Cena turns to face him and is immediately blasted by a Flying Knee. Cena is sent flying and rolls down the ramp. Bryan makes yes hands and heads backstage.
The main event of the night sees the failed challengers for the WWE Title and the World Heavyweight Championship at Summerslam, Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes, engage in a very good exhibition match that is ruined by John Cena running to the ring and going all out on attacking Bryan, looking to injure him. Out comes the returning Dolph Ziggler, launching a revenge attack on Cena for putting him on the shelf and saving Bryan from the same fate. Ziggler gets Cena on the run and helps Bryan stand, only to deliver a Zig-Zag to Bryan.
The next week, Ziggler explains his actions: he was never granted a rematch at Cena, which he has a right to claim. He had been planning to interrupt Cena’s predicatble opening segment boasting session, but Bryan had beaten him to it and he knew he had to act fast, or Bryan would get the shot that should have gone to him. A Bryan/Ziggler main event to challenge for the title is ruined by Cena running in with belt shots for both potential challengers.
The next week, it is announced that Cena will defend against both in a triple threat at Night of Champions. Cena says he predicted that response and that he wanted to get both challengers out of the way at once, so he could stop playing with children and start working with people of his caliber who had already proven themselves, like he has. He is certainly not interested in giving either man the prolonged exposure that would help mould them into the superstars that would replace him in leading the company. This is the John Cena show, and he will keep it that way by any means at his disposal. Bryan and Ziggler both promise to mark the first day of the future at Night of Champions, though they disagree on who is helming that future…
As new talent begins to rise to the top, old talent prepares to say goodbye. Rob Van Dam stays in the ring after a victory over The Miz and asks for the microphone. He says that he had been planning a career revival when he returned at Money In The Bank, but that he had found himself mostly wrestling in the mid-card, without much hype or fanfare. He talks about wrestlers who carried on longer than they should have, and erase the good memories with sad memories of old men stumbling around the ring looking lost and hurt. He says that’s not who he wants to be, that he lives a cheap lifestyle “mostly cheetos and Zig Zags” and announces his plan to retire while he’s still in wrestling shape.
Enter Dean Ambrose.
The World Heavyweight Champion and “most violent man alive” according to Michael Cole stalks to the ring and, sneering at Van Dam the whole while, motions for a microphone.
“Oh no, Robbie. You don’t get to have it that easy. You don’t. You know what you did in ECW? You know how many people got hurt, got crippled, died, because of your careless, selfish grandstanding? Because of your desperate, sad need for the spotlight? Don’t you get it? You don’t get the quiet, happy, storybook ending. You don’t get to go home with your body and pride intact, biding your time for another return, like we all know you will. You get to limp around the rest of your days, with everyone’s last memory of you the humiliating beating that Dean Ambrose gave you. That’s how your story ends. That’s what you deserve.”
There’s a tense moment of staring and both men drop their microphones and go straight at it. The match is announced next week: At Night of Champions, Rob Van Dam will challenge Dean Ambrose for the World Heavyweight Championship…
Former United States champion Sheamus also returned at Money In The Bank and has also drifted around the midcard since. Seeking new direction, he challenges the man who took his United States title from him at Extreme Rules, Antonio Cesaro, claiming that since Cesaro pinned Wade Barrett, not him for the title, Cesaro’s reign is illegitimate until he can defeat Sheamus. Cesaro is all dignity and grace shaking Sheamus’s hand and accepting, but none of this carries into the following weeks, where backstage attacks and cheap shots on the mic become the order of the day. ‘The Celtic Warrior’ is furious and dangerous going into Night of Champions…
New Diva’s Champion Natalya Neidhart has no shortage of challengers coming out of Summerslam. Former champion Summer Rae is guaranteed a rematch, Natlya has promised AJ Lee the first crack at the belt and Summer’s bodyguard/hired muscle Tamina Snuka has insisted that Summer never would have held the title if it wasn’t for her. Battered and bruised interim GM Triple H does the obvious thing and announces that Natalya Neidhart will defend her title in a four way elimination match at Night of Champions…
The Usos claimed the WWE Tag Titles at Summerslam, recreating the Snuka dive off the cage in stereo against longtime rivals Legally Strong (Mark Henry and David Otunga). The rivalry, however, is not over. Otunga declares The Uso’s win a “Summerslam miracle” and declares that The Usos stand no chance in a rematch. Otunga clears his throat, this part very difficult for such a stickler for the rules of WWE, but he wants the Night of Champions rematch to be No-Disqualification…
Further new champion fallout from Summerslam, as the no.1 contendership match for the Intercontinental Title between Roman Reigns and Alberto Del Rio ended inconclusively when Del Rio, more interested in injuring Reigns than winning, refused to release an armbreaker. New champion Kofi Kingston offers to take them both on. Going into Night of Champions, all three men have different goals in mind. Kofi Kingston wants to make a strong statement in his first title defence. Roman Reigns wants to secure his first title belt in WWE. Alberto Del Rio wants to revenge Roman Reigns costing him the Money In The Bank match by putting him on the injury list if possible, though keeping him from the Intercontinental Title will make a fine substitute.
Elsewhere on TV:
The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Paige) continue to wage their campaign of fear and confusion on the RAW roster.
Citing nagging injuries and exhaustion that are reducing his ability to compete, CM Punk announces his intention to take some time away. The crowd response is mixed; Punk has been playing an insufferable heel character, but on the other hand, he’s CM Punk and his talents never make a wrestling show worse.
Rollins, the man who handed him a defeat at Summerslam, works showcase matches on RAW, the announcers talking about him as an inevitable contender to the WWE Title in the near future, and that “whoever comes out of Night of Champions with the WWE Title, they should be concerned about Seth Rollins”…
Another man worth worrying about in the WWE Title scene is Randy Orton, holder of the Money In The Bank Contract for the WWE Title. He often watches Cena’s matches from the ramp, sat on a chair, patiently awaiting his opportunity…
Visa problems keep former Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett back home in the north of England. Like many travelers from that place returning, he finds the stone, the wet, the mist, the cheapness, the down at heels honesty pleasantly familiar. The mist feels like a blanket, away from the real world, one he wraps himself in, but knows he cannot stay in. He’ll return, but for now, he is lost in the mist.
Night of Champions:
The opening contest of Night of Champions is a super hossy fight over the United States title. Enraged by cheap shots both verbal and physical, Sheamus comes out swinging and has Cesaro on the run until a missed charge in the corner sees him eat ringpost with his shoulder. Cesaro goes all in on the attack from here, focusing on Sheamus’ shoulder until Sheamus is able to hit a back body drop on Cesaro as Cesaro charges in for a knee. Sheamus on the attack now, the shoulder bothering him but rage powering him, until Cesaro meets a Battering Ram with a European uppercut. Sheamus counters a Neutraliser attempt into a Cloverleaf submission, only for Cesaro to reach the ropes. Sheamus stays on the offence until he attempts the Celtic Cross powerbomb, only for his shoulder to give out. Cesaro takes advantage and is able to hit the Neutraliser for the three count. After the bout, Sheamus offers to shake Cesaro’s hand, but Cesaro refuses. Sheamus offers again and Cesaro refuses again. Sheamus shrugs and drops the United States champion with a Brogue Kick.
The Intercontinental Title triple threat follows. Reigns goes for Del Rio right away, but is quickly taken down and hammered with punches. Where former champion Wade Barrett would have let them wear each other out, Kofi Kingston gets right into the fray with a running dropkick first to Del Rio, then to Reigns. Kofi pinballs around the ring, running and jumping and hitting fast and hard on both men, knocking one down to see the other stand, knocking him down to see the first stand. Del Rio is able to cut all this off with a tilt a whirl backbreaker, but soon finds himself on the run from Roman Reigns, who hammers him about before tossing him between the second and third ropes. Roman turns around and immediately takes a tornado DDT. Kofi climbs the turnbuckles, but Del Rio has ascended the apron and shoves Kofi off. Roman spears Del Rio off the apron, both men crashing into the entrance ramp. Kingston takes a run up and dives over the top, slamming into both men on the ramp. All three down, they reach their feet brawling and the melee works its way back inside, but not before Reigns has managed an apron dropkick on Del Rio, to the delight of the crowd. Back in the ring, Kofi Kingston goes on a hot run against Roman Reigns while Del Rio recovers outside, until Roman cuts a Kingston charge off with a belly to belly suplex. Roman roars and punches the mat, signalling for the Superman Punch, only to be pulled out by his legs. Del Rio headbutts Roman, grabs his arm and runs it into the ring-post, balancing one leg on the apron and the other foot pushed into shoulder, pulling Roman’s arm as hard as he can against the post, until Kingston baseball slides him off. Roman gratefully stumbles backwards, but a sunset flip senton from Kofi wipes the gratitude out. Kofi is back in the ring and hitting the ropes for another dive on Roman, but Del Rio slides in and delivers a lariat to the side of Kofi’s head. Cover gets two, Del Rio transitions immediately into a cross-armbreaker. Roman in, and he scoops Del Rio up and Kofi with him, slamming both down into the canvas in an impressive display. Roman tears Del Rio off of Kofi and throws him back into the corner, where a running big boot sends him over the ropes and to the outside. Roman stalks Kofi, then delivers a massive spear as Kofi stands, putting him down for one, two, three! We have a new Intercontinental Champion!
The No-DQ tag title bout that follows is a spot-heavy power vs speed brawl, best served by a list of notable moments and visuals: Mark Henry double clotheslines both Usos; Jimmy Uso monkey flips David Otunga into a dropkick from Jey Uso; Mark Henry answers a ten punch in the corner by tossing Jimmy Uso over his shoulders to the outside; David Otunga hits a sit out spinebuster on Jey Uso; Hart Dungeon graduate Mark Henry holds Jey up for a Hart Attack clothesline that would have ended the match early if Jimmy Uso hadn’t delivered a springboard legdrop to the back of Mark Henry’s head; Double Superkick on Mark Henry; Otunga clotheslines both himself and Jimmy Uso outside the ring; Jey Uso does a running plancha out onto Otunga; Henry teases a plancha of his own, but steps very carefully and slowly between the ropes at the last second; Mark Henry tosses Jey Uso roughly into the barrier; Jimmy Uso runs along the apron to deliver a clothesline on David Otunga; Jimmy Uso tries this on Mark Henry, but Henry sidesteps and gives an exaggerated shrug; Mark Henry powerbomb on Jimmy Uso countered with a rana that launches Henry into the ring steps; Otunga irish whips Jey Uso repeatedly between ring apron and barrier, not letting go of the arm, just slamming Jey’s back into the apron, ribs into the barrier, back into the apron, ribs into the barrier, back into…; Jey manages to break it up by jumping onto the barrier and delivering a tornado bulldog; Jey has Otunga back in the ring and hits a flurry of big moves leading up to the Splash, only for Henry to slide in and catch him mid-splash into a World’s Strongest Slam; chair shot to Henry’s back by Jimmy Uso breaks up the pin; David Otunga DDTs Jimmy Uso onto the chair he brought in; Legally Strong Double Team Superplex on Jimmy Uso through a table is broken up by chair shots from Jey Uso, Usos perform Tower of Doom variant on Legally Strong, Jey powerbombing while Jimmy sunset flip powerbombs through table; three count to retain.
The four way elimination bout that sees Natalya Neidhart defend her newly won Diva’s Championship against AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka and former champion Summer Rae comes next. Four way rush at the start sees AJ thrown out by Tamina and Summer thrown out by Nattie, leaving Tamina and Nattie in the ring. They go straight for each other with heavy hitting blows, a battle that ends when Nattie goes for a discus clothesline, only to take a big boot in the chest that bowls her over. Tamina goes up top, but AJ is back in, delivering a Shining Wizard that spills Tamina outside. Summer rolls back in and attacks AJ from behind. Natalya joins back in and a three way in the ring is broken up by Tamina returning with clotheslines for everyone. AJ sees Summer get to her knees and runs for a Shining Wizard, but is cut off by a lariat from Natalya. Summer is whipped to the corner, AJ is whipped to the corner, Tamina is whipped to the corner, Summer takes a corner clothesline from Neidhart, AJ takes a corner clothesline from Neidhart, Tamina gets the boot up on hers. AJ comes out of her corner to lock an Octopus Stretch on Natalya, but Snuka hits a running big boot on AJ, thudding her into the mat. A fast, brutal three way exchange of strikes between Natalya, Tamina and AJ follows, with Summer rolling out of the ring and walking to the commentator’s table. Summer takes JBL’s headset and uses it to inform everyone watching at home that Summer is much, much smarter than the girls in the ring. Summer relinquishes the headset and walks right into AJ Lee, thrown at her by Tamina.
Tamina and Natalya go back to brawling, ending in a double down off a clothesline, Natalya rolling outside to collect herself. Summer gets in the ring and works Tamina over with knees, pushing her into the corner. A choke with her boot sees Tamina pull the leg up and onto her shoulder, delivering a powerbomb to Summer. AJ comes running and Tamina goes to give her the same, but AJ is able to counter into a headscissors. Summer comes running in at Tamina for a big boot, but Tamina moves at the last second. Summer stuck in the corner, Tamina lifts her to the top for a superplex, but Summer is able to counter into a sunset flip powerbomb. Summer rolls out of the ring as AJ goes on the attack against Tamina. Tamina reverses an irish whip to the corner, but AJ springs off the top turnbuckle for a tornado DDT. Cover gets two and Tamina rolls out of the ring. Natalya back in, attacking AJ with slams and suplexes. Outside the ring, Summer is working Tamina over until Tamina powers back and press slams Summer back into the ring, where she takes and kicks out of a Natalya lariat. AJ and Summer both down, Tamina comes back in and starts trading forearms with Natalya, until Natalya ducks one, slips behind Tamina and rolls her up for three. Tamina Snuka is the first eliminated. Furious, she gives everyone in the ring a powerbomb before stomping to the back.
Everyone slow to their feet, AJ crawls into the corner to recover, but winds up being choked in the corner by Summer until Natalya breaks it up with a backbreaker on Summer. Natalya tosses Summer from the ring and drops outside, suplexing Summer back first into the ring apron. Natlya rolls back in, but takes a running dropkick from AJ Lee. Summer pulls AJ’s legs out from under her and delivers a big knee to the face on the outside. Summer back in, unloading kick after kick into Nattie, until AJ rolls in and hits a lung blower on Summer. Cover gets two, Natalya lifts AJ up and over with a German suplex. Nattie stands to see Summer running in for a big boot, but Natalya catches her leg and hits an exploder suplex. Natalya stands, but AJ jumps onto her back for a piggyback sleeper. Natalya runs AJ back into the corner and pins her there, throwing elbows back that catch AJ in the head. Nattie moves to Summer and goes for the Sharpshooter, but Summer is able to shift the weight around into an Indian Deathlock, using her free leg to choke Natalya with her boot. Nattie reaches the ropes and gets up, laying strikes into Summer. Natalya goes for the discus clothesline, but Summer ducks and hits a Summer Crush for the three count. Diva’s Champion Natalya Neidhart has been eliminated, we will see a new champion tonight!
Running bulldog by AJ, followed by going to the top for a moonsault, but Summer gets her knees up, hurting AJ. Summer pulls AJ up and cracks her back down with an S.T.O., following it up with an Indian Deathlock with boot choke. AJ writhes and struggles and makes it to the ropes. Summer holds on until four, then places AJ’s throat against the ropes and stands on her shoulders, choking AJ until four. Summer pulls AJ up and starts punishing her with kicks until AJ fires up for a comeback with kicks of her own, culminating in an enzuigiri that sends Summer outside. AJ gives to time for recovery, immediately hitting a plancha on Summer and tossing her back in. Back inside the ring, AJ lines Summer up for a Shining Wizard which connects! Cover, one, two, three! AJ Lee has reclaimed the Diva’s Championship!
Rob Van Dam and Dean Ambrose for the World Heavyweight Championship is on next. RVD comes out hot with kicks, until Ambrose pulls him down and works him over with submissions, a pattern that repeats: Van Dam is here for a fight, Ambrose is delighting in not giving him or the fans what they want, keeping this one grounded with an impressive array of submissions. Eventually, Van Dam sends Ambrose to the outside with a monkey flip, then leaps off the top rope with a 3/4 senton that sends Ambrose and Van Dam over the barrier. Ref’s count reaches ten, this one is ruled a Double Count Out, meaning that Ambrose retains his title.
The main event triple threat between Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan and John Cena over Cena’s WWE Title is hard hitting fast paced action from the off. Bryan and Ziggler go for Cena right from the ring bell, plastering him with hard shots until he rolls out of the ring, only to take a suicide dive from Bryan, then both men taking a top rope crossbody from Ziggler. Brawling on the outside, Cena in his element, using strength and viciousness to take and maintain control, doing some serious damage to both challengers. With Bryan recovering from a suplex onto the ring steps, Cena tosses Ziggler into the ring and starts smashing him with punches, knees, clotheslines and suplexes, until Bryan cuts him off with a missile dropkick. Bryan on the attack on Cena until Ziggler interrupts a guillotine choke with a side suplex and a big dropkick. Cena rolls out of the ring and lets Bryan and Ziggler go at it, each tearing into the other with fast and strong attacks until they notice Cena resting on the outside and perform a double dive onto him. Learning from last time, they quickly throw him back into the ring.
Both stood on the apron, they prepare for a double team springboard dropkick once Cena stands, but Ziggler betrays Bryan, blasting him with a superkick, before springboarding off the top rope for a tornado DDT. Cover gets two and Bryan charges in with a running dropkick on Ziggler. Bryan lines Cena up for a running knee strike, but Cena switches it to a protobomb, before doing the “You-Can’t -See-Me” taunt and hitting the ropes for a Five Knuckle Shuffle, only to be caught with a superkick from Ziggler. Cover gets two. Ziggler stays on Cena with a barrage of punches, but a charge for a splash in the corner sees Cena overhead belly to belly suplex Ziggler over the top rope. Bryan rushes in for a corner senton, then stays on the offensive, keeping Cena grounded with his array of submissions, until Cena powers out and uses strikes to push Bryan into the corner. Cena places Bryan on top for a superplex, but Ziggler gets in and powerbombs Cena out, still holding onto Bryan.
All three men down, they slowly reach their feet and do a three way trade of strikes that culminates in Ziggler hitting a dropkick, giving each opponent one foot. How nice. Cena rolls outside as Ziggler stays on Bryan. Ziggler manages to keep control long enough to hit a Zig-Zag, but Cena has rolled back in, carrying his belt and blasting Ziggler in the face with it and stealing his cover on Bryan. One, two, Bryan kicks! Cena goes back to Ziggler, delivering a piledriver, cover, one, two, kick out! Bryan in with a flying knee strike, cover, one, two, Ziggler breaks it up! Ziggler suplexes Bryan, then gets caught with a protobomb, Ziggler kicks! Cena whips Bryan to the corner and charges, but Bryan runs the turnbuckles to backflip behind Cena and dropkick him into the corner. Bryan locks a tarantula onto Cena, Ziggler runs in and dropkicks Cena, sending Cena and Bryan tumbling over the top to the outside. Ziggler hits the opposite rope and comes out with a plancha to both men.
Brawling on the outside, Cena throws Bryan into the ring post, hanging him in the corner of the ring, shoulder wrapped around the post. Cena turns into a superkick from Ziggler, who gets back in. Pair of suplexes on Bryan, then a Zig-Zag, cover, one, two, Cena pulls Ziggler from the ring! Cena runs Ziggler head-first into the ring post, then keeps running with him, tossing him across the Spanish announce table, Ziggler sliding the length of it and crashing in a heap on the other side. Cena runs back into the ring and pulls Bryan up for an Attitude Adjustment, but Bryan slips it around into a Guillotine Choke. Cena is fading fast, but Ziggler has a top rope double axe handle to Bryan from behind to break it up. Ziggler whips Bryan to the ropes, but Bryan lands the Flying Knee! Cover, one, two, Cena pulls Bryan off in a waistlock and chucks Bryan over the top rope, Bryan bumping off the apron on his way down. Cena yanks Ziggler up and into the Attitude Adjustment, cover, one, two, three! Cena has retained, defying the odds in the triple threat match to retain, much to the anger of the fans.
The Build To Battleground
John Cena has successfully prevented two promising wrestlers from claiming the WWE title and he is feeling very pleased with himself, until Triple H interrupts his self-love to congratulate him and, in the same breath, announce Cena’s next challenger: Seth Rollins. Cena complains that while Rollins may have done enough to warrant a WWE Title match, he has not done enough to warrant a match with John Cena. Cena doesn’t want to give the kid that kind of exposure before he’s earned it. Rollins comes out onto the stage and asks why Cena doesn’t say that to his face. Cena asks why Seth has Triple H doing the talking for him. Seth responds that he didn’t know Triple H was going to announce the match, but he’ll happily come down to the ring so that Cena can tell it to his face. And down he comes. Cena stands over him and asks him again. Seth drops his microphone. Cena drops his. Cena swings for Seth, who ducks the punch and Curb Stomps Cena, before picking up the microphone and insisting that “My actions do the talking for me, John.” Things between the pair heat up over the following weeks and it isn’t long before, since Cena’s deliberate DQ against Daniel Bryan at Summerslam and his stealing of Bryan’s pin on Ziggler at Night of Champions, Triple H makes himself the special guest referee for the Battlegrounds, um, battle, between John Cena and Seth Rollins, in order to make sure that there is a clean finish and a definite champion.
Speaking of Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler, what are they up to? Well, Dolph Ziggler finds himself wrapped up in a dispute with Randy Orton following an appearance by Orton on Miz TV. Miz asks the Money In The Bank Contract holder about potential targets for his cash in, talking about Cena and Rollins at Battleground and who he’d rather face. Orton replies that whoever wins had better be cautious. Miz talks about the triple threat at Night of Champions and Orton pus Bryan over strong, saying that he actually lost money, because he had bet on Bryan to take the belt. Miz, never a fan of Ziggler, takes the opportunity to take some pot shots at Ziggler and Orton joins in, saying that while Ziggler is certainly popular with “a certain portion of our audience”, he “will never have what it takes to make it” calling Ziggler’s three month title reign earlier this year “nothing but luck, and its more a testament to Punk’s resiliency that he lasted that long, Ziggler could have been anybody, Punk was just too damn beat up to keep that title.” Ziggler has heard enough and runs down to the ring, kicking off a brawl that sees Miz shove Ziggler into an RKO. Ziggler demands respect from Orton, and says that he will get it come Battleground.
Bryan, meanwhile, has better luck coming out of Battleground, finding himself part of a four-way to name the next contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. His fellow would-be challengers are Ambrose nemesis and the only man to hold a pinfall over the champ, Cody Rhodes; insane cult leader Bray Wyatt and returning giant The Big Show. During the build to this match, Bray makes several pointed jabs at the nature of true family and what truly consititues family, calling family “a bond deeper than blood, some blood families are hardly families at all, just a collection of common chromosomes.” Cody Rhodes takes this as personally as you might expect someone with the surname Rhodes to take this. Big Show and Daniel Bryan’s bad blood from around this time last year is revisited, Show reminding Bryan of all the tables he put him through, while Bryan seems unintimidated, reminding Show of how their actual Tables match went.
Whoever wins that match will face the winner of Dean Ambrose vs Rob Van Dam. Van Dam, ready to retire before Ambrose picked a fight with him, thanks Ambrose for bringing the fire back in him and in the same breath, calls Ambrose a liar and a hypocrite for retaining the title in such a cowardly fashion and for promising to end Van Dam’s career, only to revitalise it. Ambrose speaks little, preferring to attack Van Dam at every opportunity, zeroing in on Van Dam’s knee. Given how the last match ended, the rematch is made a Falls Count Anywhere bout.
Moving onto the Diva’s Division, new champion AJ Lee finds herself making her first title defence against Summer Rae, the woman who took the title from her the last time she held it. Summer without Tamina is a more determined and desperate, less cocky and confident opponent, who seems determined to hurt AJ in the process of finally proving herself to be everything she has always said she was. Whoever wins their battle (ugh) at Battleground, the winner will face the winner of Tamina Snuka vs Natalya Neidhart, a match built off of the two powerhouses of the division’s clashes during Night of Champions fatal four way. While Natalya got the pin on Tamina, it was by roll-up and Tamina had taken a lot of big moves from other competitors. When the two meet at Battlegrounds, they will finally determine who is the dominant woman in the Diva’s division. AJ Lee and Summer Rae both do their best to remind the pair of them that the dominant woman is the Diva’s champion, Summer reminding Tamina of her place as a subordinate, always from a safe distance.
Roman Reigns is the other new champion coming out of Night of Champions, having picked up his first WWE title, the Intercontinental Championship, in a three way with Kofi Kingston and Alberto Del Rio, the man determined to put him on the injury list. After winning a no.1 contendership match against Kofi Kingston, Alberto Del Rio promises to take the title and the future career prospects from Roman Reigns. Reigns lobbies for and gets a No-Disqualification stipulation for his fight with Del Rio at Battleground, preventing the kind of screwy finish the two had at Summerslam, while also removing anything that might prevent Alberto Del Rio from crippling Roman Reigns as he promises to. Anything, that is, except for Roman Reigns.
In other title news, former United States champion Sheamus gets another shot at Cesaro on RAW. On his way to the ring, Sheamus passes Lord Tensai, warming up for a match with Kofi Kingston later that night. Sheamus rubs Tensai’s head and jokes “you and Cesaro look like a pair of boiled eggs, mate.” Tensai objects to this and Sheamus never makes it to the ring, as Tensai turns him around and starts a wild brawl with him backstage. A tag match next week pitting Sheamus and Kofi against Tensai and Cesaro “The boiled eggs”, as Sheamus dubs them, quickly turns into a Cesaro/Kofi match as Sheamus and Tensai wind up brawling up the ramp. A match is made for Battleground, pitting Sheamus against Tensai, with high stakes: if Sheamus wins, Tensai must retire. If Tensai wins, Sheamus must submit to having his head shaved…
Elsewhere on TV:
United States Champion Antonio Cesaro is introduced as the latest Paul Heyman guy, as Punk is injured, Brock is an event and Seth is a traitor who is absolutely next on the list. In the midst of an impressive reign, Cesaro is absolutely a get for Heyman.
Unable to secure another rematch with The Usos, Legally Strong turn to “the proud tradition of civil protest” refusing to cut their hair until they receive another shot at the WWE Tag Titles.
Goldust picks up some momentum with a series of wins on RAW and Smackdown.
Tamina Snuka and Natalya Neidhart start Battleground off with a hard-hitting hoss fest full of forearms, clotheslines and suplexes, won when Neidhart hits three discus clotheslines in a row to drop Snuka for a sharpshooter.
Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler go on next. Orton starts off underestimating Ziggler, showboating and refusing to take him seriously. After a while of the old Randy Orton festival of headlocks, Ziggler manages to come out with a strong flurry that has Orton regrouping on the outside. The two have a very cautious back and forth, Ziggler tempering his offence by always trying to avoid giving an opening for the RKO, while Orton has to avoid leaving himself open for a Zig-Zag, either move able to come by surprise to finish a match. After a good back and forth, Ziggler winds up in charge, building up a lot of momentum, all of which builds into an RKO as a counter to a top rope crossbody, and this one is over. Orton sticks around after the match and shakes Ziggler’s hand, respecting him after their match.
The next bout sees Sheamus put his hair on the line against Lord Tensai’s career. This is another big strikes and big slams battle, the kind that hurts to watch in the good way. Tensai gets this one when he catches a Brogue Kick into an exploder suplex over the top rope. Sheamus is visibly out of it, not moving at all for the ten count, nor moving while he is shaved. He is then helped to the back.
Roman Reigns and Alberto Del Rio do no-disqualification battle over the Intercontinental Title next. The match starts with Reigns going to a collar and elbow tie up and Del Rio going straight for the arm, only for Reigns to pull the arm away, Del Rio moving straight into a knee to the chest that knocks the air right out of him. Reigns stays on the attack, smashing Del Rio with big moves, until he goes for the spear too early and it is caught into a DDT. Del Rio stays on the attack, grounding Reigns with superior wrestling and targeting his arm. Reigns worn down, the attack gets more serious, Del Rio dragging him to the corner and placing his arm on the ring steps, then taking a chair from under the ring and blasting Reign’s arm with it. Reigns spasms back to the centre of the ring and Del Rio climbs the top rope with the chair, holding it to his chest and splashing, only for Reigns to get his knees up, driving the chair into Del Rio’s chest. Reigns moves Del Rio to the ropes, hanging his head over the second one and delivering a running dropkick to it from outside. A Superman Punch follows, causing Roman great pain as well. He shakes his arm out and wills himself through the pain to deliver a spear for the three count. Roman Reigns retains the Intercontinental Title.
Sheamus recovers backstage and is handed a mirror. He runs his hand over his head and gives a puzzled look
The Fatal Four Way for no.1 contendership to the World Heavyweight Championship follows. Problems between Bryan and Big Show and between Bray Wyatt and Cody Rhodes mean that this one pairs off pretty immediately. The ending rush comes when, with Cody and Bray in the ring, Big Show chokeslams Bryan onto the ramp. Show comes in and starts tossing Cody and Bray around, until Cody Rhodes hits a Disasterkick, spinning Show around into a Sister Abigail. Rhodes and Wyatt fight over who will pin the giant and Bryan feeds in, the match turning quickly into a slew of big moves and pinfall break-ups. Cody has Bryan beaten with a Crossrhodes during all of this, but Wyatt, knocked outside earlier by a Bryan kick rush, pulls Cody out by the legs. Wyatt tosses Cody into the barrier and the two brawl heatedly outside. Back in the ring, Bryan ducks a Knockout Punch and hits a flurry of kicks followed by a running neckbreaker. Bryan climbs the top turnbuckle and delivers a top rope flying knee to Big Show as he stands, dropping the giant for the three count as Wyatt and Rhodes remain oblivious in their brawl.
Daniel Bryan is the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship and the match that follows will dictate who he challenges for the title at Hell In A Cell. Rob Van Dam vs Dean Ambrose starts with Ambrose trying what worked last time, wearing Van Dam down with submissions, but the fire that Ambrose reignited in Van Dam proves too strong to be suffocated, the action quickly spilling outside. Both men having made their names in hardcore promotions, they make good use of the Falls Count Anywhere stipulation, brawling all over the place, Van Dam using the environment for inventive dives and springboards, while Ambrose sees a wide and beautiful variety of things he can bash Van Dam’s head against. While Van Dam puts forth a noble effort, showing a fire lacking for years, it isn’t enough to keep him from falling to a Human Cost delivered on the top of the entrance ramp, putting him away for three.
AJ Lee defends her Diva’s title against the woman who ended her first reign in the next bout. This one starts out slow and technical, trading holds and slowly building to a crescendo of kicks and knees, of signature spots and counters. AJ Lee takes the win in decisive fashion with a Shining Wizard and a Moonsault, retaining her Diva’s title.
The main event sees John Cena defend his WWE Title against Seth Rollins, with Triple H as the special referee. Cena is dismissive of Rollins, taking him lightly and dominating him with power moves and grounding him with basic holds and a weight advantage at the start. Rollins mounts a comeback and gets Cena on the run with a mixture of kicks, slams and suplexes. Cena leaves the ring to regroup, but Rollins stays on him, hitting a suicide senton that pops the crowd. Cena thrown back in and Seth goes up to the top for a top rope hurracarana that is countered with a powerbomb. Cena goes on the attack now, vicious, pissed, feeling like his role on top is threatened. The offense, again, is fairly basic, vicious strikes and direct, simple holds, with a lot of choking in the corner and with the ring ropes. Triple H loses his temper with Cena’s cheating, causing the two of them to argue. As they argue, Seth jumps in with a tornado DDT to Cena that drops him for two. Seth hits the ropes and comes off them for a Curb Stomp, but Cena is able to recover in time to hit Rollins with a vicious lariat that flips him upside down. Cena yanks Rollins up for a Proto-Bomb, then a Five-Knuckle-Shuffle, then an Attitude Adjustment, all hitting. Cena covers Rollins, but Rollins kicks. Cena shoots Trips a dirty look and immediately dives him, laying in with punches and knees, the element of surprise and Cena’s rage and power prove too much for Triple H to really respond to. Trips spills from the ring and Cena follows, running him headfirst into the the ring post, then hoisting him on his shoulder for a running Attitude Adjustment on the ring steps. Cena comes back into the ring and immediately takes a superkick from a recovered Seth Rollins. Rollins follows up with a running powerbomb into the turnbuckle, another superkick and then a curb stomp. Rollins covers, but there’s no ref. Rollins pulls Cena up to continue the attack, but Cena hits a low blow that drops Rollins. Cena stays on the attack as another ref runs to the ring. Cena delivers a second Attitude Adjustment and this one gets the three count. John Cena has successfully seen off another challenger.
The Build To Hell In A Cell
Triple H and John Cena both come out of Battleground pissed. Cena is convinced that Triple H was going to screw him out of the belt that night, since Trips has been the one pushing younger guys in to try and take Cena’s spot from him. Triple H makes no bones about him preparing for the future of this company, to which Cena responds that there is no future without John Cena. Triple H calls Cena a paranoid coward, while Cena calls Triple H a hypocrite, since he spent a good long time doing whatever it took to hold onto a position at the top, even as far as marrying Stephanie McMahon. The war of words quickly escalates from this point and the two are pulled apart from a brawl. Triple H starts getting back into ring shape, the master of Hell In A Cell matches lacing up the boots once more to force Cena to relinquish his title. Cena again, calls hypocrisy as Triple H is doing exactly what he claims to have such a problem with Cena doing, keeping the title and the spotlight on himself, but if Trips really has a deathwish, Cena will happily indulge that deathwish. The centre of the universe meets the king of Hell In A Cell at Hell In A Cell, for the WWE Title…
Seth Rollins came out of Battleground having come so close in his first challenge for the WWE Title. He is in the ring, talking about his next move, when Paul Heyman interrupts. Heyman is furious at Rollins, that Rollins drove Punk away and broke up the power stable. He says that it was going to be Rollins’ time to reach the top, eventually, that Heyman and Punk were both grooming him for success. He could have been the dominant force of wrestling’s future. Now, he’s just another martyr in its present. Rollins looks confused at the martyr comment, but the music of Brock Lesnar quickly clears that up. Not one to run away, Rollins heads up the ramp to meet The Beast, and is dropped by an F5. Will things go different when the two meet at Hell In A Cell?
Daniel Bryan considers his upcoming match with Dean Ambrose at Hell In A Cell the most important moment of his career so far. He talks about the worst day he ever had, where his girlfriend left him and Dean Ambrose swooped in and took his title. He has been trying to recover his sense of self, his sense of worth, his sense of confidence, ever since that moment. He finally takes his life back, his pride back, his title back at Hell In A Cell, in what is being billed as the final encounter between these rivals. Dean Ambrose is unimpressed with the list of things Bryan has lost. Ambrose has lost friends, Ambrose has lost the feeling in parts of his body, Ambrose has lost the ability to feel emotionally, Ambrose has lost his sense of right and wrong, Ambrose has lost years from his life. And Ambrose knows that there is no-one he can fight to get them back, he knows they are lost forever, and he knows that he lost them. When they meet one last time inside Hell In A Cell at Hell In A Cell, Ambrose promises to teach Bryan the meaning of loss…
Cody Rhodes feels he would have had another chance to settle things once and for all with Dean Ambrose at Hell In A Cell, if it weren’t for Bray Wyatt. He demands and soon gets a one-on-one match with Bray Wyatt at Hell In A Cell and that’s where things begin to go very bad for young Cody, as he finds himself the target of all four members of the Wyatt family. His brother, Goldust helps as he can, but he has been granted a crack at Cesaro’s United States Championship and this just draws Cesaro in as a brief ally to the Wyatts. Dolph Ziggler offers his help to the Rhodes brothers, having been a big fan of their dad growing up. Coming out of this, another match is made for Hell In A Cell, pitting Dolph Ziggler against Luke Harper…
The two Divas who won matches at Battleground; AJ Lee and Natalya Neidhart, the current and most recent champions, are set to do battle at Hell In A Cell over the Diva’s title. The build to this starts respectful, a story of two great wrestlers fighting to decide who the better woman is. This story gets a bit more heated when, both being interviewed on Miz TV, Natalya brings up her training in the Hart Dungeon as a reason for her success. AJ laughs this off, she worked to get here, she worked for everything. Natalya would have no idea what that means. Neidhart makes crying faces at this comment and AJ cuts her off angrily “I’m not complaining, I had to work and when I fight you this Sunday, that’ll be work too. You, you had it easy coming here, so you have no idea how to act when things get hard. Trust me, Nattie, dear, things will be very difficult for you come Sunday…”
In other title news, Roman Reigns lays out an open challenge for Hell In A Cell, a challenge answered by Jack Swagger.
Elsewhere on TV:
Lord Tensai celebrates keeping his career in the hair vs career match with Sheamus by destroying R-Truth. After the match, Sheamus’ music hits the speakers and out comes the newly bald Celtic Warrior. Standing face to face with Lord Tensai, he demands a microphone and gets it. “Fella, I got one thing to say to you” Sheamus declares. Tensai braces himself for a fight “Thank ya, fella! I’ve never looked or felt so good!” Sheamus declares, hugging a confused but happy Tensai. The two begin making waves in the tag division, tagging under the name Bald Is Beautiful and destroying their opponents with quick power offence.
Hell In A Cell:
Hell In A Cell opens with Roman Reigns defending his Intercontinental Title against Jack Swagger in a quick, one-sided squash.
Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper are up next. Harper immediately knocks Ziggler from the ring and dives out onto him. Harper chucks Ziggler into the barrier, then picks him up to do it again. Ziggler reverses and runs back at Harper and right into a spinning sidewalk slam. Harper throws Ziggler back into the ring and lines him up for a superkick, followed immediately by a sitout powerbomb for two. Harper stays on him with a seated sleeper, but Ziggler is able to fight to his feet and create distance with elbows, followed up by a dropkick. Ziggler dives at the corner but Harper is able to dodge the charge and deliver an overhead pumphandle suplex, which Ziggler kicks out of. Bodyslam driver gets a two, Harper shakes his head sadly at Ziggler. Powerbomb gets countered into a sunset flip, Harper kicks out then kicks in Ziggler’s face with a running big boot. Harper lines Ziggler up for a spinning lariat, Ziggler counters with a superkick, staggering Harper who spins again to deliver the lariat regardless for a two. Ziggler tries to punch his way back into the match, but to no avail, Harper a stronger striker. Ziggler ducks a big haymaker and comes back in with a superkick, Harper staggers, another, he still doesn’t fall, Zig-Zag, but Harper kicks out!
Ziggler comes running at Harper, but Harper backdrops him into the turnbuckle, where he gets hammered with shot after shot. Ziggler slumps to the bottom of the turnbuckles and Harper stands on his throat for a count of four. Ziggler is dragged out and smashed around with European uppercuts and short arm clotheslines. Harper again goes to a seated sleeper, but Ziggler is able to break out with a jawbreaker this time around, Harper stumbles away and Ziggler charges for a jumping DDT that only gets a two. Ziggler stays on the attack, scoring a top rope crossbody for two. Punches and kicks on Harper, who is already starting to stand then a neckbreaker, preventing him from standing. Trio of jumping clotheslines, then another neckbreaker. Ziggler comes charging, but gets caught with another spinning sidewalk slam, Ziggler kicks. Harper lines Ziggler up for a running big boot, connects, then straight up for a powerbomb, gets a two. Ziggler rolls outside the ring and gets caught with a plancha from Luke Harper. Ref’s count reaches seven before Harper is in, Ziggler in at nine. Harper hoists Ziggler up for another powerbomb, Ziggler drops out the front, goes for a superkick, Harper ducks, spinning lariat, this one puts Ziggler away for the three count.
Antonio Cesaro and Goldust are up next, Goldust challenging for Cesaro’s United States title. This one is a good technical display that starts off even handed, but Cesaro’s superior strength slowly wins through and he finishes Goldust with the Neutraliser.
AJ Lee and Natalya Neidhart do battle over the Diva’s championship in the next bout. Collar and elbow tie-up, Natalya pushes AJ into the corner where she lays in knees, elbows and chops. Neidhart pulls Lee out and hits a big vertical suplex, transitioning into a rear chinlock. AJ slowly powers out and comes back with kicks, goes running, is dropped with a clothesline. Natalya pulls AJ up for another suplex, but Lee drops out the back and hits a sitting neckbreaker. Cover gets two and Lee transitions into a guillotine choke. Neidhart tries to move out, but Lee rolls through with her to keep it on. Neidhart reaches the ropes and the count is broken. Lee comes charging, but is backdropped over the top rope. Lee lands on her feet on the apron and springboards off with a tornado DDT for two. Lee up top for a moonsault, but Neidhart moves in behind her and powerbombs her off the top rope for two. Lee ducks a discus clothesline and hits a wheelbarrow bulldog for a two. Octopus Stretch locked on, but Neidhart uses her strength to break it by charging at the ropes, bulldozing both of them through the ropes to the outside. Trade of strikes, Natalya whips AJ to the barrier, AJ springboards off the barrier with a back elbow, then back into the ring. Plancha to Nattie is caught into a fallaway slam. Natalya throws AJ back into the ring, gets her in the centre of the ring, goes for the sharpshooter but has her hair grabbed, AJ pulling her forward for a roll-up. Knee drop follows, then AJ hits the ropes for a Shining Wizard. Nattie grabs the legs, however, pulling AJ back down for a Sharpshooter. Lee is in agony and tries crawling to the ropes, only for Natalya to pull her back. Lee goes for it again, but again Neidhart pulls her back. This time, however, Lee uses the loosening of the hold to flip Neidhart into a pinning situation for two. Natalya is up first, pulling AJ up by the head, only to take a jawbreaker, then a neckbreaker. Lee goes up top for another attempt at the moonsault, but her back is too sore from the Sharpshooter and she takes too long getting to the top. Nattie is up there with her, going for a superplex, but Lee is able to score a sunset flip powerbomb for a two. Natalya using her knees to get up, she takes the Shining Wizard full on this time, earning AJ Lee the three count. The two shake hands and hug after the battle, Natalya raising AJ’s arm as champion.
Bray Wyatt comes to the ring accompanied by Paige for a match with Cody Rhodes that is a back and forth battle of speed vs power that quickly falls apart into brawling, during which the ref gets dropped by an errant Wyatt clothesline. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper see this as their opportunity to come down to the ring and wail on Cody Rhodes. Goldust and Ziggler run out from the back to even the odds, but a Ziggler suicide dive onto Bray outside is caught into a Sister Abigail into the barrier, taking him out. It’s four on two in the ring, but suddenly “American Dream” hits the speakers and Dusty Rhodes comes marching out, accompanied by a blonde woman in purple. Dusty starts throwing bionic elbows to the Wyatts, the blonde in purple going straight for Paige. Cody Rhodes and Goldust manage to recover and help their father and this strange woman drive the Wyatts from the ring.
The next bout is the first Hell In A Cell bout of the night, pitting Daniel Bryan against Dean Ambrose in his quest for revenge and to regain his title. The two circle each other, each feeling the energy in the air. Bryan lunges at Ambrose, but Ambrose pulls him forward into a front facelock and brings some knees to his face. Bryan sweeps the leg out from under Ambrose, dropping him. Bryan keeps hold of the arm and puts a boot into Ambrose’s head as he starts to stand, then drops a knee on his head. Transitions to an arm-bar, Ambrose finds his feet and pushes out. Bryan slaps him across the face, staring hate back into Ambrose’s eyes. The two stand, trading hard open handed slaps across the other’s face, yelling at each other. Bryan grabs the wrist on one of Ambrose’s, yanking him down and putting him in a hammerlock, then standing on elbow and shoulder. Keeping one leg on Ambrose’s hand to pin it down, Bryan pulls the other arm back and jams his foot on the elbow joint, causing massive pain and pinning Ambrose’s shoulders to the mat for two. Ambrose rakes the eyes and kicks and punches and bites Bryan back into the corner. Keeping Bryan there, he drives his knee repeatedly to the side of Bryan’s head until Bryan falls between the ropes. Ambrose follows and holds Bryan’s head against the cell, kicking away at it repeatedly.
Ambrose stands over Bryan, laying in with huge overhead punches, until Bryan is able to pull Ambrose forwards by the leg, driving him face first into the cell. Bryan staggers away to regroup, but Ambrose comes at him from behind with a clothesline to the back of his head. “Never turn your back on me, Bryan! Never turn your back on me!” yells Ambrose, before climbing onto the apron. Bryan pulls Ambrose by the knee, dropping his knee into the apron, then climbs up there with him to deliver a suplex from the apron to the cell wall. Bryan pulls Ambrose by the head towards the ring steps. Standing on them, he plans to suplex Ambrose off them and into the cell. Ambrose blocks the suplex, however, dropping Bryan ribs first onto the ring steps. Ambrose climbs the apron and jumps off with a double stomp to Bryan’s head. Ambrose grabs Bryan and throws him back into the ring, grabbing a chair from under the ring before following him. Ambrose lines Bryan up for a chair shot, but Bryan ducks behind to hit a German suplex. Bryan tries to transition it to the Cattle Mutilation, but Ambrose rolls out of the ring, only to catch a baseball slide. Bryan then chucks Ambrose back into the ring and follows. Ambrose is stumbling to his feet and takes a roundhouse kick to the side of the head. He drops back down to his knees and gets another, falling flat on his face. Bryan grabs the chair and places it on the canvas. He pulls Ambrose up by the head, but Ambrose pulls Bryan’s legs out and slaps on the Figure Four. “It’s called wrestling, Bryan, not just playing with toys! That’s garbage!” yells Ambrose. Bryan starts to escape, so Ambrose stands, transitioning it to a Texas Cloverleaf. Screaming in agony, Bryan crawls under the bottom rope to escape. Ambrose hit the opposite ropes and comes out with a suicide dive. Not content, he re-enters the ring, climbs the turnnbuckles and missile dropkicks Bryan into the cell.
Ambrose yanks Bryan up and runs him headfirst into each ring post in turn, ending finally with the cell wall. Ambrose grabs Bryan and shoves him back into the ring. Lifting Bryan by the arm in the ring, Ambrose his a short-arm DDT, followed by a short-arm neckbreaker. Cover gets two. Ambrose repositions the unused chair from earlier and hoists Bryan up to deliver a sickening brainbuster onto the chair. Cover gets two, Ambrose stays on the attack, going for a bow and arrow lock. Bryan is able to counter it into a heel hook grapevine and it is Ambrose’s turn to scream and thrash with pain, until he is able to reach the chair and throw it back into Bryan’s head. Both men down, they slowly rise, trading punches. Bryan starts off on a kick flurry that knocks Ambrose into the ropes, where he is able to rebound back for a clothesline that puts both men down again. Ambrose up first, a little hobbled from the heel hook, but fighting through the pain. He lines Bryan up for another clothesline but Bryan ducks. Ambrose hits the ropes and comes back, only to take a jumping clothesline from Bryan. Ambrose hits the canvas hard but is immediately getting back up, which lines him up perfectly for a spinning elbow. Bryan moves to the corner and lines Ambrose up for the flying knee strike, which connects! Cover, one, two, Ambrose kicks! Staring at his hated enemy with disbelief, Bryan grabs Ambrose’s arm and pulls him up halfway between seated and prone, from which position he kicks Ambrose repeatedly in the face. Bryan yells “Your way, then” and goes outside for a table. He brings it back into the ring and, seeing Ambrose show signs of life, returns to kick them right back out of him. Bryan sets up the table, then sets Ambrose up for a superplex, only for Ambrose to float over behind him and deliver a super back suplex through the table, eliciting a “Holy Shit!” chant from the audience. Ambrose crawls across to Bryan and covers, but Bryan kicks out. Ambrose holds his head in disbelief and begins muttering to himself furiously.
The furious muttering is quickly replaced by a sick, lopsided grin as Ambrose moves over to Bryan to lock on the Yes-Lock, one of Bryan’s signature submissions. Bryan is able to roll through the hold however, countering it into one of his own. Just as Bryan escaped submitting earlier by escaping the ring, so does Ambrose here. Just as Ambrose answered that with a suicide dive earlier, so does Bryan here. Bryan then scales the apron and runs off it with a knee to the side of Ambrose’s head. Ambrose is reeling, trying to escape Bryan. Bryan grabs the ring steps and rushes Ambrose from behind with them, but Ambrose heard the clatter of the steps being lifted and rolls into the ring at the last second, leaving Bryan to charge the ring steps into the cell, where they rebound into his own face and chest. Bryan is down and out and Ambrose uses the chance to grab the ring steps, set them up and deliver a bridging powerbomb onto them, Bryan somehow kicking again. Ambrose walks away, running a hand through his hair, then climbs the apron, running across it and leaping off it with a Cactus Elbow, only for Bryan to roll away at the last second, Ambrose leaping ribs first into the steps. Bryan recovers slowly, but quicker than Ambrose and uses this advantage to roll Ambrose back into the ring and follow up. Bryan hits a snap suplex and follows it by rolling into position for a German suplex, then rolling into position for a sleeper suplex, bridging for two. Bryan goes to the corner and lifts himself to the top rope, lining Ambrose up for a missile dropkick. Ambrose staggers out of the way at the last second and Bryan hits the mat hard. Ambrose recovers in the corner, watching Bryan recover. Bryan starts to get up and takes a big knee to the side of the head. Ambrose follows up by pulling Bryan into position for The Human Cost, but Bryan is able to yank Ambrose down to the mat. Ambrose sits up and takes a flurry of elbows to the join of his neck and shoulder. Bryan then double underhooks the arms and bridges over, locking in the Cattle Mutilation. Ambrose fights, Ambrose kicks his legs, Ambrose flails desperately, but he has no way out and finally taps. Daniel Bryan has got his revenge.
Seth Rollins’ match against Brock Lesnar follows. Starting off by diving on Lesnar before Lesnar has a chance to get into the ring, Rollins never stops coming at Lesnar, finding a way to get up from the nasty strikes and huge suplexes and take the fight to The Beast in a way that few, perhaps none, ever have before. Lesnar manages to catch one of Rollins’ charges into an F-5, but Rollins gets a foot on the rope. Enraged by this annoying man who keeps charging headlong at him and hurting him and lacking the decency or common sense to just stay the fuck down, Lesnar climbs atop Rollins and ground and pounds the life out of him before grabbing him by the neck and trunks and tossing him through the middle ropes and headlong into the barrier. The ref’s count reaches ten without Rollins moving or showing any signs of life, and it is finally medics who get him to the back on a stretcher.
The main event is up next, seeing Triple H step back inside the Cell to challenge John Cena for the WWE Title. The match starts off with old-school WWE brawling, plenty of punches, kicks, clotheslines and headlocks, moving outside when Triple H backdrops Cena over the rope on a corner clothesline. Triple H goes on the attack outside until Cena reverses an irish whip into the cage, sending Trips into it instead. Cena starts bashing Triple H around on the outside, culminating in a suplex across the ring steps. Cena pulls the ring steps out and goes for a piledriver onto them, only for Trips to backdrop out of it. Triple H climbs onto the apron and comes off with a running knee to the back of Cena’s head as he stands. Cena is thrown back in and Trips locks a Ring Post Figure Four on. Plenty of punches to Cena’s head, then Trips gets a chair from under the ring and slides under the ropes with it. Cena gets a low blow to turn things around and then starts wailing on Trips with the chair. Cena brings the ring steps in and charges Triple H into the corner with them. Chucking them down onto the ground, Cena hits a proto-bomb onto the steps. Triple H rolls off and is covered for two. Cena kicks the steps away and does the You-Can’t-See-Me taunt, leading into a Five Knuckle Shuffle. Triple H grabs the chair and gets up enough to bring the chair sideways across Cena’s chest, dropping him. Knee drops and punches and another figure four, then an attempt at a Pedigree onto the steps, Cena’s turn to backdrop out. Table set up and Triple H superplexed through it, cover gets two.
Attitude Adjustment is fought out of and Triple H scores a swinging neckbreaker. Triple H rolls out of the ring and crotches Cena against the ring post before applying another figure four. He grabs a chair and sits it in a cell corner, pulling Cena out and sitting him on it. Triple H takes a run up and hits a running knee that smashes Cena’s head into the cell wall. Cena brought back in for a Pedigree attempt, but Cena pulls the legs out and goes for the STF. Triple H crawls out of the ring and Cena stands over him, delivering punch after punch, then raking his face against the cell wall. He grabs Trips onto his shoulders and runs him into each wall of the cell, ending in the corner with the chair, which he drops Trips head-first onto, the chair closing around his face. In Trips is thrown, and he’s lined up for a lariat which is followed by an Attitude Adjustment for two. Cena goes outside and brings a table back in with him. Cena sets it up and lifts Triple H, but takes a low blow, then a pedigree for two. Triple H picks Cena up and double-underhook suplexes him through the table, again, for two. Cena rolls out of the ring and Trips follows. They brawl around the outside for a bit, then get back into the ring and brawl there, ending in a Triple H high knee. Pedigree attempt sees Triple H backdropped. Cena grabs a chair and chokes Trips with it. The ref tries to pull Cena off and save his boss’s life. Cena punches the ref out, but Triple H has rolled outside in that time. Cena follows, battering Triple H on the outside, before throwing him back into the ring for another Attitude Adjustment. Another ref runs down to make the cover, but Triple H is able to kick out by the time he’s in. Cena pulls Triple H up for another proto-bomb, but Triple H drops out the back and scores a German suplex. Both men down, they slowly rise and trade punches, each showing the cost of this war. Cena ducks a Triple H punch and runs him across the ring and head-first into the turnbuckles, pulling him out for an Attitude Adjustment, this time earning the three.
Cena, exhausted, kneels in the ring and watches the cell rise, waiting to be handed his title.
“I hear voices in my head,they counsel me, they understand they talk to me!”
Out comes the Money In The Bank Contract Holder, Randy Orton, accompanied by his briefcase. Orton runs to the ring as Cena stands to face him. Cena ducks a running shot with the briefcase, but turns to get it in the face. Orton tosses it to the referee and motions for him to hurry up. Cena stands, the bell rings, Orton RKOs, Orton pins, one, two, three! Randy Orton grabs the belt, pulls Triple H out of the ring and helps him up the ramp as fast as he can.
The Build To Survivor Series
New WWE Champion Randy Orton confirms what many suspected: that the plan going into Hell In A Cell was for Triple H to wear Cena down in order that Orton might cash in. Orton talks about the difference between those like Triple H and Randy Orton, who are invested in the business and in the WWE, and those like John Cena, who are only invested in themselves. Randy Orton and Triple H want this company to have a future, John Cena wants to injure and prematurely retire those who would lead the company into the future, wants to hold onto his spot at any cost. Cena is furious, violent and dangerous in his response, hounding Orton over the weeks leading up to their match at Survivor Series…
Orton’s partner in crime Triple H has a dangerous renegade all his own to worry about when he rejects Dean Ambrose’s demand for a rematch with Daniel Bryan. The match was billed and promoted as the final encounter between Ambrose and Bryan and he will not damage the reputation of the company by going back on that. Ambrose laughs at that, bringing up Katie Vick and D-X as damaging the reputation of the company. Triple H has grown up, those days are behind him. One day, he promises Ambrose, if he lives long enough, he’ll look back on today from an older, wiser perspective. Ambrose is furious, with all the loss he’s endured, with all the things he has seen and done, he is far older than Triple H already. He reminds Triple H that the attitude era he claims to have ruled with an iron fist is the attitude era responsible for the loss of his friends to an increasingly violent world in wrestling. He suggests that Triple H distract him from this fact quickly with a title shot, or Triple H will have to suffer the vengeance of Dean Ambrose. Triple H tells Ambrose to bring it on and is immediately gravely assaulted.
The following week, Stephanie McMahon informs Triple H that she has talked to the board of directors and they will not allow the match to go ahead. Trips asks if by board of directors, she means she won’t allow the match. Steph relents: of course she was the one to talk them into this attitude. Triple H can talk of a future, but that future includes them running the company together, involves him being around to see his daughters grow up, in no way involves stepping into a ring with a man as unhinged as Dean Ambrose in a grudge match just off the back of Hell In A Cell with John Cena. Triple H raises his voice, but Steph shuts him down, suggesting they do the rest of this at home. Triple H comments that he won’t be home for a while. Maybe drop in on Shawn, maybe Ric, anywhere he’s respected.
Ambrose mocks Triple H mercilessly for this the following week on RAW, absolutely ripping into Triple H with a side order of promising to absolutely rip into Triple H if Steph will let him. David Otunga delivers a piece of good news to Triple H – Triple H’s position in the company will allow him to book an ‘Unsanctioned’ match without the approval of the board of directors, absolving the company of any harm that comes to any participant. Triple H asks what Otunga wants in return. Otunga runs a hand forlornly through his unkempt hair. “I really want a title shot for me and Mark Henry. I don’t want to protest with my hair any more.” Triple H issues that Bald Is Beautiful are next in line for a shot, but he can make it a triple threat. Otunga gives the good news to Mark Henry, who, through full homeless beard, insists that they wear their protest hair with pride to the ring at Survivor Series, to show what non-violent protest can achieve. “But it was my knowledge of WWE law that got us the rematch” Otunga protests “Exactly. Non-violent protest and intricate knowledge of legal loopholes can change the world” comes the rejoinder.
The other primary story coming out of Hell In A Cell is the war between The Wyatts and The Rhodes. The strange blonde woman in purple is introduced to those who do not know her as Emma, an Australian submissions expert with a love of fun who is a massive, massive mark. She was being trained down in NXT by Dusty Rhodes and came up to help on seeing the Wyatt family try to destroy the Rhodes family. It’s family vs family, the old school values of the Rhodes vs the anger at old world corruption in the Wyatts. Dusty Rhodes will team up with his two sons for a ‘Bunkhouse Brawl’ match with Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Meanwhile, Paige and Emma have been frequently pairing off in the family brawls and attackiong each other after matches. With AJ Lee having seen off all challengers, Lee will referee a number one contendership bout between Paige and Emma at Survivor Series…
CM Punk returns from absence. Casting a cynical, smirking eye over the main event scene, he remarks that the CM Punk Championship scene, the WWE title scene, to use its outdated name, is a mess. Between Cena being finally honest about his intentions and Triple H finding any way possible to make everything about Triple H as usual, CM Punk has no interest in the CM Punk Championship scene. The Ric Flair Championship (“Ric Flair – good wrestler, good solid hand. No CM Punk, but Flair was good”) on the other hand – that intrigues him. That, he could see himself redefining just as he did the WWE Title. Daniel Bryan has no objections, he has finally got his title and his sense of self back. He’s Daniel Bryan again and that’s a hell of a thing to be. At least, he says that a lot. There still seems to be something missing. Either way, he reminds us that Punk’s lackeys ruined the dream match last year and it’ll be his pleasure to prove who the best in the world is come Survivor Series…
Dolph Ziggler is in a career slump. Coming out of Wrestlemania, he was WWE Champion, having ended the longest title reign in over a quarter of a century. Now it is six months since he got a PPV win under his belt. Rob Van Dam takes him aside backstage and offers him some advice on how to deal with life after your only WWE title reign. Ziggler does not take this kindly, nor does he take Van Dam’s advice to “just lay back, take it easy, you’ve made a name and a permanent spot for yourself, you’ve reached your peak” kindly. Dolph Ziggler vs Rob Van Dam for the first time ever is set for Survivor Series…
In secondary title news, the card for Survivor Series is rounded out with Kofi Kingston challenging Cesaro for the United States title, while Mark Henry aims to take the Intercontinental title from Roman Reigns.
Roman Reigns vs Mark Henry kicks the show off. It’s a fairly typical face vs heel encounter, with Henry getting a lot of heat on Roman at the start, building to a big comeback featuring all of Roman’s spots, ending in Roman getting the three count.
A fast paced David vs Goliath battle seeing Kofi Kingston challenge Cesaro for the United States title follows. The two go back and forth with speed moves and power moves, the finish coming when Cesaro is lifting Kofi up for his spectacular superplex from the apron to the inside, only for Kofi to shift his weight, placing both knees in Cesaro’s chest, the two of them falling back, the wind driven from Cesaro. Kofi lines Cesaro up for Trouble In Paradise, which connects for the three count. Kofi Kingston is the new United States champion!
Paige and Emma go up next, with AJ Lee refereeing the bout for no.1 contendership to AJ’s title. Paige is out in her usual black gear, Emma in Dusty Rhodes polka dots. The encounter begins with even handed chain wrestling, until Paige uses a rake at the eyes to take control. Paige stays on Emma with cheap shots, until AJ pulls her off and tells her to fight this one clean. Emma uses the distraction to lariat Paige down and take control with submissions. Paige switches weight and moves herself to her feet, where the two trade blows, ending when Paige kicks Emma pretty damn low, then headbutts her and DDTs her onto her knee for two. Paige crouches down over Emma and paintbrushes the back of her head with slaps, pulling her head back by the hair and whispering something in her ear, before raking at her face. AJ again steps in, leading to an argument between Paige and AJ, Paige shoving AJ, AJ shoving back, the two staring each other down. Meanwhile, Emma is recovering in the corner, climbing the turnbuckles. AJ points Emma out to Paige and steps back, Paige turning around to take a crossbody from the top rope. Cover gets two, Emma waits for Paige to stand and delivers a spinning elbow blow, again for two. Emma hoists Paige up for a suplex, but Paige drops out the back and scores a hangman’s neckbreaker. One hand pushing Emma’s face into the mat, the other on her back, Paige performs a handstand, dropping a knee from up there into Emma’s neck and back. Emma is whipped into the corner and subjected to a multitude of forearms. Paige gets some distance for a cartwheel back elbow, but the elbow itself gets Paige caught into a Tarantula that we are told is called the Dil-Emma. Springboard bulldog follows up for two. Emma goes for a Muta-Lock but Paige is able to power to the ropes. Paige getting to her feet on the apron, gets forearmed off it, then hit with a plancha by Emma. Paige thrown back in and Emma climbs the ropes. Paige rushes Emma and is able to get a superplex to turn things around. Frustrated, Paige stomps viciously at Emma, showing no signs of letting up. AJ tries to pull Paige off and fails. AJ threatens to call for the DQ, but Paige grabs her by the collar of her ref shirt, pulls her face to face and screams “NO!” loud and commanding, AJ moving back and clutching her ears. Paige yanks Emma up viciously for a Cradle DDT, the Rampaige. One, two, three! Paige is the number one contender to AJ Lee’s Diva’s Championship and wastes no time in attacking AJ, kicking off a brawl that requires security to break it up.
Dolph Ziggler and Rob Van Dam square off next for the first time ever in a mid-level dream match. The two circle each other and Ziggler goes for a collar and elbow tie up, but gets caught with a kick to the chest. Van Dam stays on the kicks, knocking Ziggler around the ring until Ziggler ducks one of them and rolls Van Dam up for two. Exchange of roll-ups follows, ending in Ziggler managing to score a Fameasser on Van Dam as he starts to stand after kicking out of a crucifix for a two-count and the early advantage. Ziggler follows up with a bodylock sleeper, but Van Dam is able to use his superior weight to roll over onto Ziggler for a two, the kick-out giving Van Dam room to escape. Ziggler follows up, not giving him room, grounding him and wearing him out with amateur wrestling, ending when Van Dam is able to monkey flip Ziggler, who lands on his feet on the apron. Van Dam to his own feet, countering a Ziggler springboard with a dropkick that bumps Ziggler to the outside. Van Dam goes running, hitting the opposite ropes and coming back with a dropkick through the second and third ropes, knocking Ziggler back into the barrier. Van Dam whips Ziggler towards the barrier, but Ziggler reverses. Ziggler rolls Van Dam back into the ring and climbs the top turnbuckle for a top rope bulldog, getting two. Ziggler once again goes to work on Van Dam on the mat, but Van Dam reaches his feet and jams elbow after elbow to Ziggler’s ribs, creating enough separation for kicks to the ribs to follow. Ziggler staggers back into the ropes and bounces off into a release belly to belly suplex for two. Van Dam pulls Ziggler up and whips him to the corner, charging after for a dropkick, but Ziggler dodges, giving him a chance to breathe. Van Dam to his feet in the corner, where he is pelted with elbows, forearms and knees, before he is whipped towards the opposite corner, Ziggler running after, Van Dam springboarding onto the top rope for a back elbow, planting Ziggler yet again. Van Dam pulls Ziggler to the corner by his head and lifts him up to the top rope, going for a super back suplex, but Ziggler is able to turn it around into a crossbody for two. Kicks and elbows push Van Dam to the corner, Ziggler charges, but gets a boot to his face and is then whipped to the opposite corner. Van Dam runs in and monkey flips Ziggler, but Ziggler lands on his feet and hits an enzuigiri, dropping Van Dam hard. Ziggler follows up by lifting Van Dam for a powerbomb, but Van Dam is able to counter with an Alabama Slam for two. Van Dam follows up by going to the apron and springboarding off the top rope for a huge legdrop. Van Dam goes to the corner to catch his breath, not quite his old self in terms of conditioning. Ziggler slowly reaches his feet as Van Dam runs in for a leg-lariat. Ziggler ducks, Van Dam lands on his feet, Ziggler hits a release German suplex.
Van Dam uses the corner to reach his feet, Ziggler comes in for a splash, RVD pushes him up, crotching him on the top rope, then springboarding off the top rope for a side-kick. Van Dam stays on Ziggler, pulling him up by the hair, only to take a jawbreaker. Ziggler back into this with some roundhouse kicks of his own and a spinning forearm. Van Dam staggers back into the ropes and is pulled into a DDT for two. Ziggler is leaning on the ropes, pulling himself back together, having taken the brunt of the big moves thus far. He sees Van Dam starting to stand and charges in for a clothesline, but Van Dam is able to score a sick roundhouse kick to the side of Ziggler’s head, dropping him on his back once again. Ziggler lets out a frustrated yell and rolls onto his front, rising to his knees. Van Dam goes for another kick, but Ziggler ducks it and rolls Van Dam up for a near-fall. The two move into a trade of roll-ups, then into trading arm-wringers and headlocks on their feet, often flipping over the other to switch who is in control. Van Dam is losing this battle and tries to switch to striking, but Ziggler ducks his kick and hits a flurry of forearms that knock Van Dam back into the ropes. Ziggler whips Van Dam off the ropes and charges for a clothesline, but Van Dam leapfrogs him. Van Dam hits the ropes for a clothesline of his own, but Ziggler has a leapfrog of his own to answer it. The two pace each other to appreciative applause. Collar and elbow tie-up, Ziggler scores a neckbreaker for two, then dropkicks Van Dam into the corner. Ziggler goes running for a tornado DDT, but Van Dam is able to block it, using his weight advantage to plant Ziggler’s feet back on the mat and deliver a northern lights suplex for two, Ziggler planted back in the middle of the ring. Van Dam straightens Ziggler up and goes for Rolling Thunder, only for Ziggler to get his knees up at the last second. Van Dam staggers away, clutching his back, standing with his back to Ziggler, a mistake, as it allows Ziggler to hit the Zig-Zag for the three count. The two get a big ovation and hug in the middle of the ring.
The Usos defend their tag titles in the next bout, in an elimination match against two much bigger, much stronger teams: Legally Strong, the messy haired duo of Mark Henry and David Otunga, Otunga non too-pleased about the state of his hair, and the gleamingly bald duo of Tensai and Sheamus, Bald Is Beautiful. The bout is big moves at a fast pace, much like the one before it. Legally Strong fall first when Mark Henry takes stereo superkicks from The Usos. Tensai costs Bald Is Beautiful the match when an attempt to powerbomb Jey Uso sees Jimmy Uso chop block his legs out from under him as Jey ranas him, driving him powerfully forwards for a three count. The Usos win via superior teamwork.
The CM Punk – Daniel Bryan match for the World Heavyweight Championship is up next. The two start off by testing each other with leg kicks, then engaging in a slick chain wrestling sequence, ending in a dragon screw legwhip, a spinning elbow and a head kick by Bryan, followed by Bryan going up top to hit a missile dropkick on Punk. Bryan keeps the attack up with a Muta Lock, Punk slipping out, only to be caught in a dragon sleeper. Punk makes it to the ropes, where he is worn out with kicks. Bryan runs in and gets backdropped over the top rope, then plancha’d. Punk whips Bryan to the ring steps, then delivers a running dropkick, smacking Bryan’s head against the steps. Bryan is thrown back into the ring and Punk goes to the apron for a springboard forearm, which Bryan answers with a dropkick. Double-down gets to five, then they are both back up. Chain wrestling sequence again, this one ending with a flurry of knees and elbows by Punk. Bryan whipped off the ropes, reverses, each run at the other and hit a cross body, double downing again. They reach their feet and immediately trade big kicks, smacking each other and staggering around, ending when Punk ducks a kick and hits a bridging German suplex for two. Punk goes up to the top rope and delivers his tribute to Savage elbow for two.
Punk puts Bryan in the figure-four, but Bryan reverses it. Punk reaches the ropes and Bryan holds on until four, reminding the ref that he has until five. Bryan comes running in at Punk for a knee drop, but Punk rolls away and Bryan drives his knee really hard into the canvas. That’ll show it. Punk groggily reaches his feet and pulls Bryan up for a Welcome To Chicago, Motherfucker double underhook backbreaker. Cover for two as the commentary team wonder what it will take to put Bryan away. Punk pulls Bryan up for a pair of short-arm clotheslines, then a short-arm neckbreaker. Bryan kicks out of a pin, then rolls out of the ring. Punk hits the opposite ropes and comes back with a dive between the second and third ropes, but Bryan jumps to the apron, then up off it with a knee to Punk’s head. Punk collapses in a heap in the ring. Bryan covers, but Punk barely gets a shoulder up as the commentary team wonder what it will take to put Punk away. Bryan goes for a crucifix pin for two, which is countered with a La Magistral pin for two, which is countered by a sunset flip, which is countered by another sunset flip, which is…you get the picture. Roll-up sequence ends in a Bryan head-kick. The knee drop hits this time and is the start of Bryan just going to work on Punk’s skull. Daniel Bryan’s endeavors to concuss CM Punk end when he is crotched on the top rope going for a super-something-that-was-probably-going-to-hurt-Punk’s-head. You know the one. Punk slips down to the apron, but manages a springboard clothesline and both are a heap in the ring. Slowly, they both rise and Punk is unable to hold onto the advantage, getting hammered into the corner with European uppercuts. Bryan brings Punk up top for a superplex, but Punk counters with a sunset flip powerbomb for two. Punk with an Indian Deathlock, but Bryan shifts weight to get on top and attempt to smash Punk’s face in with forearms. Bryan puts Punk in a seated abdominal stretch and starts slamming elbows into his head and neck. Bryan shoves Punk to the mat and covers for two. He pulls Punk into a front facelock and brings a big knee into his head, covering for two. Punk escapes into the corner, but Bryan comes in with a corner dropkick. Luckily for Punk, he is able to dodge. Bryan recovering in the corner, Punk comes in for a Pepsi One, but the bulldog that follows it up is countered into the Yes-Lock! Punk is dragged down to the mat, screaming in pain, but he is able to shift the weight into the Anaconda Vice. Bryan makes it quite quickly to the ropes and is actually on his feet before Punk. He is lining Punk up for the flying knee strike that he has been winning matches with lately when Cesaro comes running down the ramp. Bryan charges to dive onto Cesaro, but Cesaro catches him and tosses him into the ring-post, drawing the disqualification. Cesaro reaches into the ring and pulls Punk out by the head, carrying him to the back.
The Wyatt Family and The Rhodes Family meet in a Bunkhouse Brawl to follow. This one’s a wild brawl, very little of it in the ring, much of it in the ringside area and some even in the stands. Age comes with a price and while Cody can hang, neither Goldust nor Dusty are able to, both getting taken out of the action fairly early, each going through an announce table. All alone, Cody Rhodes falls victim to a three on one beating, before being put down with a Sister Abigail.
After this comes Randy Orton defending the WWE title against John Cena in a match that has probably happened before, once or twice, maybe. This one is a marked difference in that Cena has turned vicious lately, Orton spending much of the match on defense until he is able to hit an RKO as a counter to the Attitude Adjustment, getting a frankly lucky pin and leaving pretty quickly after.
Triple H and Dean Ambrose’s unsanctioned match closes out the show. This one is a vicious fist-fight choc-full of shots to the head and ribs, of eye-rakes and kicks to the face, of clotheslines and close range elbows. It spills outside into a medley of things that the human head can be bashed against, then back into the ring for weapons, chair shots to the back and ribs, a Triple H spinebuster onto the ring-steps, a Dean Ambrose drop-toe-hold onto a steel chair, leading into the finish, where Ambrose handcuffs Triple H to the ring ropes and goes outside. Pulling the apron of the ring down, he reveals that he has taped a box-cutter there before the show began. He rips the tape off and slides the box cutter open, running his tongue along the blade. He slides into the ring but security jump him, pinning him to the mat and not letting him move under the weight of a half-dozen heavy men*. And on this note, Survivor Series goes off the air.
The Build To TLC
The first order of business on RAW is to address the unconventional ending to Survivor Series. Stephanie McMahon takes up the role, explaining that out of a desire to see her daughters have a father, she gave the order via the ear-pieces on security to stop the match. She expresses rage at Triple H, who expresses rage back at her, then walks out. Dean Ambrose is not present on the first RAW either, with Stephanie’s promise that he won’t be back, ever.
Triple H and Dean Ambrose are gone, but Vince McMahon is back as of the next RAW. He says he understands what Stephanie did and why, but I watched in the early 2000s, Vince. You’re all about your family getting hurt. On which note, he throws his weight around and reveals that he has already cleared both Triple H and Dean Ambrose to return together in a chairs match at TLC…
The Triple H/Dean Ambrose match was not the only one at Survivor Series to end in outside interference. The CM Punk/Daniel Bryan match ended via Cesaro. Punk is out on RAW demanding an explanation and the one given is, as above, the simplest one: he was sent by Heyman. Punk demands an explanation of Heyman and really doesn’t like the one given:
“I know you well, Punk, perhaps too well. It was your first match back and you were in there with Daniel Bryan, a respected rival over the world championship. You were not going to let yourself lose, no matter what. And the ‘what’ in question was looking more and more like Daniel Bryan cracking your head open like an egg.”
“I can take him. I could be champion right now if it wasn’t for your meddling.”
“Yes, you can take him, no you couldn’t be champion right now if it wasn’t for my meddling. If it wasn’t for my meddling, you would be in hospital right now if you were lucky, maybe even a grave. Dean Ambrose changed Daniel Bryan and I doubt he’ll ever go back. You weren’t willing to have a match that ended with you being pinned or submitted, even once it became clear that the only other way it ended for you was catastrophe. And Daniel Bryan, this new Daniel Bryan, he was willing to give you your catastrophe. And you were always going to lose that night, Punk. You don’t come back from a hiatus and try to work out your ring-rust against Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship and win. You used to be smarter than that, Punk.”
“I’m smart enough to know that you and me are done, Paul. And you should be smart enough to know it ends in catastrophe for you if you interfere in my business again.”
“You know what, Punk? I find it funny that you take such offense at me organizing interference in your match with Daniel Bryan, given that the one other time you and him faced off in WWE, it was over your title, not his, and you had me send Seth Rollins out to keep hold of your title for you. Maybe you’re just not as good as you say you are. Cesaro” he turns to the smirking muscleman “this man threatened me. You know what to do.”
Cesaro does indeed know what to do, heading down the ramp as Punk heads up it. They meet in the middle, brawling wildly. There is still a number one contender to Bryan’s World Heavyweight Championship to name, which is decided in the main event of the same RAW. Bryan won his contendership in a Fatal Four Way, and the same method is used to name his challenger at TLC. The men competing are CM Punk, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt and Cody Rhodes. After a fast-paced competitive match, Cody Rhodes takes the honour with a Cross Rhodes to Bray Wyatt. The following week, Cesaro gets his rematch against Kofi Kingston, only for Punk to ruin it for Cesaro, leading to a Cesaro/Punk bout at TLC.
The build to Bryan vs Rhodes winds up centered around The Wyatt Family, strangely enough, with The Wyatts out for revenge on Rhodes for pinning Bray to win the spot. Not wanting his first two title defenses to both be tainted by outside interference, Bryan joins forces with Rhodes. With Paige coming after AJ Lee’s Diva’s title, Bryan and Lee find themselves fighting side by side in this war. Bryan tries to apologize to Lee for his actions earlier in the year, but finds no sympathetic ear. The anti-Wyatt side of the conflict is outnumbered, numbers that are evened out by Roman Reigns making good on his promise to back AJ up if ever she needed it. Bryan tries to make good with Reigns as well, but also finds no sympathy. Three title matches at TLC are involved in this conflict, with Bryan fighting Rhodes over the World Heavyweight Championship, AJ fighting Paige over the Diva’s Championship and Luke Harper coming after Roman Reign’s Intercontinental Championship. Erick Rowan is the only one in this all-out war not to have a title match, but that’s okay because he’s largely immobile and his signature move is owning and wearing a sheep mask.
Know what other match had an indecisive finish at Survivor Series? The WWE Title match between Randy Orton and John Cena. Getting flash RKO’d did very little to convince Cena that he shouldn’t continue hunting the man who took his title from him and Randy Orton’s fight to survive Cena’s onslaught will come to its climax at TLC in a TLC match…
Poor David Otunga. He reallly doesn’t like how messy his hair is, but his partner, Mark Henry has insisted that they not cut or trim their hair until the tag titles are around their waists once more, to show the power of civil disobedience. Bald Is Beautiful take up the cause of freeing both of them from the terrible bondage of messy hair. Otunga is also not fond of the idea of letting two moronic goons like Sheamus and Tensai shave him, shockingly, while Mark Henry is not super-fond of two white dudes, one of whom likes appropriating Japanese culture, ruin his ode to civil disobedience. And so is a ladder match with electric razors above the ring made for TLC…
(Given that me and Jed booked a really good card for what are famously the worst three hours of the wrestling calendar, I have chosen to pay tribute to the terrible legacy of TLC by writing each match up very quickly. That and the fact that this thing is already longer than a novel and anyone still reading has the patience of a duck.)
(I dunno, ducks seem like a patient animal to me.)
CM Punk and Cesaro open off TLC with a fast-paced match that sees Cesaro put in a good showing before falling to the Go To Sleep.
Paige and AJ Lee’s Diva’s Championship match follows and sees AJ Lee dominated for the first time since Sara Del Rey. Punished with brutal strikes and vicious submissions, she falls shockingly quickly.
Luke Harper’s challenge for Roman Reigns’ Intercontinental title is a similarly quick battle, the two throwing bombs at each other, big strikes, big slams, fast pace, Luke Harper pins Roman Reigns with a discuss clothesline counter to the Superman Punch. The Wyatt Family has picked up two titles tonight.
The ladder match between Legally Strong and Bald Is Beautiful follows. A mix of spotty mayhem (which I’m bad at writing) and physical comedy (which doesn’t translate well to text), it is good fun that you’ll probably have to picture in your head. Hehe, wasn’t that a funny bit and Holy Shit wasn’t that a cool spot? Bald Is Beautiful get the win and shave Mark Henry and David Otunga, the latter of whom probably has deeply mixed emotions on this subject.
Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan have a cleanly fought technical bout that, given the brevity of the first three matches and the fact that only two matches are left after this, goes a good long time. Lots of submission counters, lots of chops, forearms and kicks, lots of suplexes. A real old school, real respectful, real battle full of false finishes. The real finish comes in a manner that isn’t really a real finish, as the ref bumps off a missed dropkick by Bryan, the lights go out, ominous chanting plays over the P.A. and Bray Wyatt appears as the lights come back on, obliterating both Rhodes and Bryan with massive lariats, then spiking both into the mat with Sister Abigails, before dragging Cody’s body over Bryan’s. Bray walks up the ramp laughing as the ref comes to and counts Cody’s pin to name him the new World Heavyweight Champion.
Dean Ambrose and Triple H go to absolute war with each other in the next bout, another lengthy one that flirts with what is and isn’t acceptable in the PG-era, before coming to a conclusion when Dean Ambrose hits The Human Cost on Triple H onto a steel chair. Medics see to Trips after the battle.
The main event sees John Cena and Randy Orton bump through tables a lot. The biggest one is an RKO off the ladder, through a table, allowing Randy Orton to retain his WWE Championship.
*I bet you there’s other, dirtier, fan work out there involving Dean Ambrose not able to move under the weight of heavy men. Probably The Wyatt Family. Hang on a sec…I bet this one: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10157257/1/Sister-Abigail-s-Chamber-a-Perversions-of-Joyride-collaboration
I didn’t read it all, because my self-hatred is expressed through abusing my own body far more than through reading about other people’s bodies being abused, but it isn’t even five lines before Bray Wyatt uses the word “craves” about Dean Ambrose, so yeah. Probably that one.
End of Part Five.