by Jon Milne
Our story reaches it’s final stages as the Road to Wrestlemania hits fever pitch. CM Punk, the man who created huge shockwaves in the wrestling industry after his iconic moments of June and July of the previous year, is now guaranteed a shot at the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania after his Royal Rumble success. His opponent could very well be Randy Orton, who became the new holder of the belt after his victory over Christian, dooming the latter to a year’s exile from the World Title scene. But with Elimination Chamber on the horizon, a whole host of strong challengers are around to vie for the main event scene…
RAW opens with a backstage segment filmed just after the end of the Royal Rumble, with the winner of the titular match, CM Punk, walking backstage and being congratulated by current and retired wrestlers alike. Soon, he walks into the path of the COO Triple H.
“Listen Punk, I just want to say I’m sorry for all you’ve gone through in the past few months. I’m glad that our mutual nuisance is fired now, so he’s out of our lives. You deserved the win tonight, and I’m positive you’ll steal the show on the grandest stage of them all.”
Hunter holds out his hand, and after regarding it for a few seconds, Punk acquiesces and shakes it. “So how did the family enjoy tonight?”
“Well, the ‘idiotic daughter’ as you call her, also known as my beautiful and intelligent and funny wife, loved seeing her ‘doofus’ husband in action, and she sends her congratulations. And my darling kids Aurora, Murphy, and Vaughn were all happy you won, and they don’t hold the “stupid family” comment against you. I mean granted Vaughn is barely over a year old and probably doesn’t understand what that means but…”
Punk raises an eyebrow “Yeah, this is great and all, Hunter, but I know you didn’t stop me just for a personal chat. What’s the deal?”
“Oh thank god, I thought we were about to have a ‘genuine heartwarming moment’, that was scary,” Hunter quips, “But you’re right. There is a problem, and it’s do with a big glaring issue with the Wrestlemania card, one you’ve very vocally raised concerns about before.”
Punk exhales in something resembling an exasperated relief. “Well it’s about goddamn time it’s getting brought up, I mean after all that’s happened it should be a no-brainer, right?”
Hunter sighs and runs his hand over his head. “It should be, yeah, and I happen to agree with your position, it’s just that every time me and the board of directors discuss this, we’re always split down the middle, with me and the guys I trust being the ones to take what you’d call a ‘progressive’ viewpoint on all this.”
“And I’m guessing Vince’s cronies are leading the dissenting voices?”
“You mean Kevin and Ace? Yeah.” Hunter shakes his head, “Dad still retains a whole lot of influence over certain other members of the Board as well, and they won’t budge.”
Punk scowls, “Well you better find a way to make them budge, because flattered though I am that you agree with me, it means absolutely jack if-“
“Which is why,” Hunter interrupts, “That we managed to come to a simple solution that can solve the problem.” Punk tilts his head in interest, and the COO grins. “Come to my office, Punk, I think you and I can be of good help to one another…”
The programme then cuts to the ring, with Punk officially announced to the ring as the 2012 Royal Rumble winner and No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. Punk soaks in the adoration from the crowd, pausing for a full minute while the crowd serenade him with chants of “You deserve it!”.
“Well, that was a pretty average night in the life of the Best of the World!” Punk quips, “But seriously, I have to thank you guys. Ever since I came back, you’ve made your voices loud and clear. You kept on letting it be known who you wanted to be in the WWE Championship scene. You railed against the people who kept on coming up with the stupid reasons to ignore you. You guys know what is best for business! And it’s thanks to you guys that, last night, I made sure that I will stand on the other side of the ring at Wrestlemania to face the WWE Champion!” The crowd very heavily applaud this statement.
“But you know, even when things go as brilliantly right for me as they did last night, there is always, and CM Punk says always, some new hindrance that basically ruins my celebrations. In case you didn’t get the clue there, I’d like to show you this video that illustrates my point:”
At this point, a recently released video from WWE.com starts airing on the TitanTron. There, standing in front of the camera is none other than the Rock, with his living room behind him.
“Finally, the Rock has come back to Monday Night RAW! John Cena, at Survivor Series, The Rock has to admit, you caught him by surprise. You beat the Rock down, you threw his head through the window of the car he loved, you put the Rock in A&E with severe head laceration injuries as well as broken ribs from that steel pipe you used, you made the Rock spend some time in hospital needing a drip-feed. But now, the Rock has recovered. And when the Great One comes back, he’s going to use his beautiful newly repaired head, he’s going to use his brains, and he’s then going to repeatedly headbutt in your stupid ‘You can’t see me’ face! And then he’s going to take his Size 14 boot, turn it up sideways, and stick it up your candy ass! At Wrestlemania, the Rock will never, and the Rock means never, miss the chance to appear in front of his home town, and layeth the smack down on you and your kiddie t-shirts and baseball caps. In Miami, Florida, Wrestlemania will close out with the Rock standing tall with you savagely beaten at his feet. If you smeeeeeelllllllllllll what the Rock… is cooking!”
The camera feed then cuts back to Punk in the ring. “Well thank you, ‘Dwayne’ for giving us that wonderful news via your mansion. Guess the top brass didn’t pay you enough for you to come to the ring here and say it, but oh well. But it’s that last part that annoys the hell out of me. See, you saw me talking to Triple H right after the Rumble was over, and he told me that even after everything that has happened in the past five months, half of the Board of Directors still hold to the belief that I should not be in the main event of Wrestlemania, even after I told everyone back in June how much that makes me sick, and even after I insisted to Vince how much I deserve that spot, but instead that honour is still going to go to the Rock and John Cena.” The crowd heavily boos this news, and this prompts John Cena’s music to hit, as he makes his way to the ring.
“Aww, is someone jealous?” Cena sneers, “I really don’t see what you’re complaining about here, Punk. All it is, is the WWE learning from past mistakes. I mean, just look at Wrestlemania 18. They had Rock and Hulk Hogan fighting each other, but they gave the main event to two mediocre guys who have never been able to draw in their lives. Or like 1997 when there was that legendary match between Bret Hart and Stone Cold but they seriously thought Taker and Sycho Sid would be the main match people would want to see. And then there’s that 2008-10 period where they inexplicably didn’t put me in the main event…”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, John!” Punk despite his ill mood still laughs, “Let’s get one thing straight here: no matter how much you claim otherwise, I can tell you right now, and the voices of all the fans here and so many people in the back will agree with this, is that on the ‘A’ level of wrestlers, we have guys like Austin, Rock, Hogan, Hart, and we’ll throw in Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker too. Do you know who’s missing from that club, John? You, because the WWE Universe is never, never ever going to consider you at the level of those guys. At most, you’re a B player, maybe a B+.”
“Well, first, you’re acting like I care what the WWE Universe thinks,” Cena retorts, “The fact is I still earned my spot at this year’s Wrestlemania…”
“Oh, do me a favour ‘Mr Thuganomics’,” Punk interrupts again, “Oh sorry, did I get the qualification wrong? Let me compare this Wrestlemania to your previous ones to see how much you ‘earned’ your main event spot this year. 2005, you beat Kurt Angle in a match so that you could face JBL for the title. You were already champ in 2006 and 2007. You won the Rumble in 2008 and got a rematch for the title after your title match the month before ended in a DQ. 2009, you were getting your contractually obliged rematch for a title you had just lost. Same with 2010. And last year you won a Chamber match to get your shot against the Miz.”
“Now let’s compare all that to how you got this year’s main event: you just were like: ‘Hey Dwayne, I want a match next year’, and then he was like, ‘Yeah okay, the Dwayne Johnson says yes”. You call that ‘earning’ the main event slot, John? You really think you’re bigger than the efforts that people like me and whoever my opponent with the WWE Championship ends up being? Let me clue you in: I had to deal with months of having obstacles that Triple H was responsible for putting in my path stopping me from having any real shots at the title. I had to waste my time with an old, out of touch guy who wanted to maintain relevance by being associated with me. And then I had to win the Rumble last night and outlast some of the very best people in the business.”
“And what about the guy I’ll face at Wrestlemania? Well, Hunter says he’s making an announcement about that later, but it doesn’t take a genius to realise that since the next big event is called ‘Elimination Chamber’, that the WWE Champion will come from one of six guys fighting each other in an unpleasant and highly painful steel structure. That is effort there, John, and I don’t think I’m too out of line when I say that every single one of whatever six guys get picked to compete in the Chamber will agree with me.. And don’t even try to justify your spot by making an appeal to the past few years of your time on top. Things have massively changed Johnny Boy. I’ve revolutionised the business. Networks are queuing up to talk to me about what I’m saying and doing. I get louder reactions from crowds than any you’re received in the nearly seven years since you won your first WWE Championship. And I don’t know if you’ve paid any attention to WWEShop.com, but I’m massively out-drawing you on merchandise. Your time has long since gone.”
“Sorry, when has that appeal ever worked?” Cena rolls his eyes, “I’m just supposed to give up my spot because poor widdle Punk thinks he’s worked so awfully hard and because he gets a whole bunch of internet marks to cheer for him that means he should supplant me? Let’s get one thing straight, that WWE Championship is nothing without me holding it. I am the face who runs this place. Without John Cena, there is no WWE. And you really think you’re better? Do I need to remind you that you won only after I stopped Vince from trying to screw you out of the match? And I don’t even get a thank you? You should be on your hands and knees begging me to bestow on you some gifts!”
“Still, I know that you’re never going to shut up about this. So you know what? You get one chance. At Elimination Chamber, I’m going to put my main event spot on the line. If you win, you and your WWE Championship match get the main event spot. But if I win, that main event spot becomes mine, and you have to give up your shot at the title for Wrestlemania! Whadaya say, Punk?”
Punk grins a big shit-eating grin: “Oh hell yes, John. I’ve been waiting for a chance to kick your ass ever since you made your true colours official at Survivor Series. And if beating you is the chance I’m given to get the main event spot that everyone knows I deserve? Well, I can’t think of a better way to get it. You’re on!”
Later in the show, Triple H comes out to the ring, with some announcements for the upcoming PPV.
“Well, Punk kinda ruined the reveal a bit, but yes, he’s right. At Elimination Chamber, the last stop before Wrestlemania, our new WWE Champion, Randy Orton, will defend his belt against five other competitors inside this terrifying structure. Ten tons of steel! Two miles of chain! And only one of these men can emerge as the man holding the WWE Title belt!” Triple H smiles, “Now, in order to determine the contenders who will appear in the Chamber, an independent panel of well-respected former wrestlers – including the likes of Roddy Piper, Sgt Slaughter, Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, and numerous other wrestlers in the Hall of Fame of this company – have been rewatching the Royal Rumble in its entirety, and have been judging the competitors of the Royal Rumble. Now, obviously, Punk won last night, so he wasn’t under consideration. John Cena is busy at Wrestlemania with the Rock, so he’s out. As COO, I have excused myself from being in the running to compete for the championship. Oh, and I almost forgot because he’s that insignificant, Kevin Nash is fired from the WWE, so he’s out too! Not that he would have made it after the way he got eliminated, but still, I do find it funny, and it’s a weight off my shoulders that he’s gone”.
He pauses as the crowd cheer the absence of the hated former Cliq member, “So this leaves 26 guys for the independent panel to judge. These guys were evaluated based on amount of time in the match combined with eliminations. On this basis, the panel not only sent me the names of five accepted contenders, but also two rejected contenders whose claims for a title shot caused some controversy and disagreement within members of the panel about what to do with them, and I will address these two in a moment. But for now, I can officially announce that in the main event at the Bradley Centre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it will be Randy Orton defending against Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio, Dolph Ziggler, Wade Barrett, and Daniel Bryan!”
The crowd, while cheering the last announced name, also appear annoyed at one particular absentee as they boo and chant “Where is Ryder?” “Yeah, I know guys, I don’t like that Zack isn’t in there as much as much as you don’t, but-“
This announcement immediately prompts the entrance of Cody Rhodes, with Del Rio and Barrett flanking him at the top of the ramp, “Are you kidding me? Ryder gets the apology but nothing for me? After everything I did last night, I get passed over again? We eliminated Ziggler and Mysterio from the Rumble last night! And I had Bryan on the verge of tapping! How the hell do they get in and I don’t?!”
“Well, for one thing, Bryan didn’t tap, and he made the final three of the Rumble. And Rey and Dolph still lasted a pretty good amount of time and notched up a load of eliminations. Before I continue though, where’s the other member of your group?”
“Busy,” Barrett spits in contempt, “kinda difficult to focus your mind after you’ve lost your title and being made to not be in World Title contention after losing to a maniac who never should have been in the title match in the first place. Or did you forget that at TLC someone decided to play some entrance music while I was on the verge of winning the No. 1 contender’s spot?”
Del Rio agrees, “Randy needs a strait-jacket, not being rewarded WWE Title runs. He was like a feral animal in my match. He deserved restraining like the pig dog he is!”
Hunter yawns, “Yeah, see, Alberto, when you enter into something called a ‘chairs match’, that generally implies things will be pretty violent, so excuse me while I barely consider your complaints and then dismiss them. Oh and Wade? Yeah, that was Rey who got in the back and played his entrance music. It’s actually the reason he started off with a disadvantage in the Rumble match by being drawn as No. 1. And it’s because Alberto helped you win your match with Rey in the semi-final that I put him at No. 2. Besides, I don’t know what you guys are complaining about. I mean, it always seemed to just be Christian in your group that was getting the title shots. Now that he’s gone, doors have evidently opened up, and now two members of your group have chamber spots. That’s a one-third chance of Charisma taking the WWE Championship to Wrestlemania? I’d have thought you’d have considered that a good thing?”
“Funnily enough, Mr COO,” Rhodes states with irritation, “they’re still allowed to be outraged at the injustices you commit against our group.”
“Except that this issue is all of your own making, Cody!” the COO retorts, holding up a piece of paper that he pulls out of his jacket pocket, “I anticipated this confrontation, and I have right here in my hand the evaluation that the independent panel made of your performance at Royal Rumble, here we go:”
“While it undoubtedly helps when you have a bunch of friends to help you out-number the opposition, Rhodes still performed very well, lasting a very good amount of the time and notching up a big number of eliminations to his name. Taken in isolation, this would make him one of our top picks to be in the Elimination Chamber match. However, whatever goodwill Rhodes may have gained from this panel of ours evaporated in the light of his post-elimination activities, where he attacked Daniel Bryan using a steel chair and the entrance ramp, and cost Bryan in the match with an unethical elimination, despite again having been eliminated beforehand. That said, however-“
Before Triple H can finish, Zack Ryder makes his entrance, and joins the COO in the ring, despite the protests of Rhodes. “I’m not gonna lie, Hunter, this Broski here is massively disappointed to not be in consideration, even when I was the last guy Punk faced before he won the match. So woo, woo, woo, you know that neither I nor anyone else in this audience care about some Cody pity party! And besides, since you mentioned two guys who didn’t make it into the Chamber but were causing this panel of yours to be confused. So the Internet, Intercontinental, and US Champion asks you right here and now, am I one of them?”
Hunter nods, “Well noticed, Zack, and yeah you’re right, and funnily enough the other guy was in fact Cody Rhodes. Unfortunate thing is, Zack, is that the panel were conscious that the Intercontinental and United States titles would need to be defended at the event, and they thought that your chances of winning any Chamber match if you were entered would be greatly impeded by the prior need you have to defend the belts at the same event. They were still very impressed by your performance though, as well as the fact that you successfully defended both your belts earlier in the night.”
“Well boo-hoo for Zack,” Rhodes say scornfully, “but what about me?”
“Well, if people had let me finish reading your evaluation from the panel, I would have read the part that despite what you did in the Rumble, the panel were nonetheless incredibly impressed with your performance in the Fight Without Honor against a former WWE Champion. So this is why, at Elimination Chamber, we’re going to see a match where Zack Ryder puts both of his belts on the line against Cody Rhodes! But that’s not all, because as an extra incentive, on the very next night on RAW, the WWE Champion coming out of the Chamber will defend their belt against the winner of this match between the two of you! So you’d better prepare yourself, because this is your last chance for Wrestlemania to get the title bout you both feel you deserve!”
Both Ryder and Rhodes appear happy with this news, and proceed to stare each other down. But suddenly, the arena goes black, and an all too familiar gong sounds throughout the arena, creating a huge pop from the fans. When the lights come back on, Ryder and the members of Charisma have disappeared, leaving the Game alone in the ring. Another gong leads to more darkness, before the arena is illuminated by a sinister image on the screen, saying quite simply: “20-0?”. The lights then come back, and Triple H, while stunned at the message, can only smile and shake his head. But while he is distracted by this message from an icon of the company, he doesn’t see Christian emerge from the crowd and lay him out from behind with a sledgehammer. He then proceeds to pick the stunned COO up and then plant him with a Killswitch on the sledgehammer, before proceeding to retreat up the ramp, but not before being heard to say: “the only ‘dead man’ here is going to be you!’
The following week, the spotlight is on Christian to explain why he did what he did in a sit-down interview with Michael Cole. When Cole asks him why he did what he did, Christian scoffs:
“Do I really need to spell it out, Michael? Over the past few months, Triple H has done everything he can to discriminate against me and the group looking to make a real, positive change in this company, rather than the poisonous status quo that currently engulfs it. Night of Champions? My stable mates only lose the right to a shot at the championship because someone uses Orton’s music as a distraction. Hell in a Cell? Alberto doesn’t get his rematch, and none of the three other guys get a No. 1 contendership match. Vengeance? Cody clearly gets a victory over Daniel Bryan, but the suits deny it; Alberto and Wade have a No. 1 contender’s match but have to share it with two people who didn’t deserve to be there. Same thing happened to those guys at TLC as well, in addition to the whole interrupting entrance theme again. I had my championship stolen for me after our corrupt COO’s best friend superkicked me and let his cherished student unfairly have a match against me! Survivor Series? None of us got a title shot. Also at TLC, Cody had that injustice of a match where he was robbed of glory. And then there’s the Rumble. Again, Cody had Bryan beat. Wade was robbed against Ryder. And Randy got an undeserved win which means I get the complete injustice of not being able to fight for MY world title until next year happens.”
“Well, enough is enough. Our biased and terrible excuse for a guy running this company has screwed us over for the last time. And now, I want to pay him back in kind. This is war. And now-“
But before Christian can finish, he is ambushed from the side by a very angry Triple H, as the two brawl on the floor and have to be separated by a horde of security.
The next week, Hunter has his say.
“You want war? Well, I’m relieved to hear it, Christian. To be honest, I was sick and tired of the build-up. Ever since I took over from my dad, you’ve been a constant pain in my ass. Always, rather than just approaching me and talking things over calmly, you instead took the wrong action. I was sympathetic about the World Title grievance you had back in July, believe me I was, but you never just came to my office where the issue could have been sorted out. No, instead you just came out unannounced to disrupt a title match. Then you formed your little group and attempted to politick title shots for your members. And then it turns out you were behind getting one of my friends to cause us a whole load of headache-inducing hassle when he kept on taking out the hottest name in wrestling today! Well, I’ve had enough too. And a regular match isn’t going to satiate my desire for revenge. So here’s what we’re going to do. The first fall, I’ll make you tap out, cause it’s going to be a submission match! Second fall? We go No Holds Barred. And if we have a need for a third fall? Well, the PPV is called Elimination Chamber. If we’re tied, that Chamber gets lowered and I end you inside Satan’s favourite structure!”
“Oh, you’d better believe I accept, Mr Levesque!” Christian’s voice emanates from the TitanTron, as the video feed shows Christian backstage, and as the camera pans out, it turns out he’s found a way into the COO’s office. “Everything you’ve blamed Charisma for is really just you passing the buck. And accusing me of politicking? This from the guy who’s been in the Cliq, and D-Generation X, and the McMahon-Helmsley Faction, and Evolution. At least I actually want to compete against my friends for the top prizes in the land, what were your ‘friends’ to you, apart from disposable lackeys who you’d get rid of the moment they’d build up enough momentum for title shots?” Christian shakes his head and puts his feet on the desk, knocking over several official looking documents as he does so. “But whatever, all that matters is that your tyranny over this company has to end. Someone needs to put you in your place, and-“
But before Christian can finish, just like last week, the entire arena as well as the TitanTron is plunged into darkness as the gong of the Phenom sounds again. This time, when the lights come back up, the footage displayed on the TitanTron is that of the end of a certain match from Wrestlemania 27 where the COO tapped to the Hell’s Gate. Another gong sounds and again the arena is plunged into darkness. This time when the lights come back up, the scene on the TitanTron has changed again, this time back to the scene in Hunter’s office, where Christian is laid out cold on the desk. The TitanTron then flashes up the message “20-0?” again, along with an additional “Rest In Peace”. Triple H appears more irritated, and again indicates that he won’t give what the message-sender wants.
For Ryder and Rhodes, this match is by far the most important one of their careers:
Cody is first to appear in a backstage segment facing the camera: “No matter what, I have been screwed at every turn. Everyone, no matter how much they deny it, knows damn well that by rights I should be WWE Champion right now. But the top brass always want to play favourites, and no matter when I’m clearly defeating a guy while he holds a Money In The Bank briefcase or when he’s still considered a major guy in the title race, I still get shafted. Well now, this is my chance. Ryder may have earned some credos with how he’s gotten to hold and successfully defend two championships, but this time there’s not going to be a third guy, or any ladders, stopping me from getting back what is rightfully mine. No matter what I have to do, Cody Rhodes will hold the WWE Championship before Wrestlemania, and then he’ll beat that snot-nosed Punk and usher in an era of truly Dashing Charisma!”
And then there’s Ryder: “To be honest, I wasn’t surprised when Hunter said I wasn’t in the Chamber match. I constantly live with the danger that the moment I lose my titles, the influential guys in the back will forget all about me and ignore everyone that’s rooted for me. They’ll forget to book me on shows, and even when I do they’ll hardly ever promote me. They’ll suddenly decide that people aren’t interested in buying my merchandise even when I think it’s currently only Punk and Cena in this company that sell more merch than the Broski does. It doesn’t matter to them, because they’re still convinced I’m this Internet Fad. Well sorry guys, but it’s pronounced ‘Internet Champion‘, and ever since someone actually decided to give me a shot, I’ve been doing nothing but prove all along that I deserve the additional success I’ve gained. At Elimination Chamber, I’ll keep all my three titles, and on the Monday after night, I’ll make it four! Woo, woo, woo, you know it!”
The Elimination Chamber match also mostly sees backstage solo vignettes for each of the competitors, aside from the Charisma members who share the segment:
“Are we happy that at long last Charisma has some degree of respect given? But of course,” Del Rio grins, “we have advocated for months and months against the status quo, and that it is purely Charisma who deserve the contest these WWE Championship matches. And when either of us win, we will have the excellent spectacle of a Charisma vs Charisma one-on-one main event on RAW. But understand something, we still mourn for how our compadres have suffered at the hands of the idiotas that run this place.”
Barrett nods: “Christian and Cody have been subject to the greatest injustices, and so it is in dedication to them and their positive efforts to reform this poison-filled WWE that one of us will take the WWE Championship and restore proper order to this company, and remove it of filth like the pretenders we’ll face inside the Chamber when we compete in the moronic city of Milwaukee, and especially Randy Orton, who is nothing but a disease-ridden stain on the championship he holds and is a danger to the working conditions of those who give their lives for this company.”
Dolph Ziggler is next. “Why did I come back? Because I’m the Show-Off of course! And whether it be for two titles at once, the Rumble, or the biggest prize imaginable, I love to compete and steal the show! I also came back because there is abuse of power in this company, but it comes from those guys who have Zero Charisma! I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that no-one wants to see THOSE guys in the main event, right? But I am obsessed from winning titles, and my time has come to headline Wrestlemania. When I get to Milwaukee, I’m taking the gold, and I’ll get that dream match where I can finally beat Ryder, and then I’ll secure my name in the top levels of the history books when I am victorious at Wrestlemania!”
Then there is Rey Mysterio: “These past few months have been really disappointing for me. I’ve been one of the people who have battled hardest against the menace Charisma was imposing on us. I have been desperate to win back the title I had taken away from me in shady ways at Summerslam, but always I got impeded. But now, I need this more than ever. I’m not getting any younger, and my career has been full to the brim of really nagging injuries. I don’t know how long I’ve got left. So I need to make the best of what amount of time I have and I must win the WWE Championship before it’s too late. If I don’t win this, I don’t know when I’ll ever get another championship shot, or if I get anymore at all. I will do what I did in July, and against the odds and despite everyone doubting me and saying I’m too small, I will become the champion again.”
Next in the chair is Daniel Bryan: “It hurts, losing the title, and never getting a real shot at getting it back. And at the Royal Rumble, I came so close, only to get screwed out of winning by a Charisma member. But no more. In the Chamber, that championship I lost at TLC? I’m taking it right back. I have been disparaged for far too long as just being an “indie” guy who isn’t cut out for the big leagues, but I was the one who bucked tradition and kept on putting my MITB briefcase on the line when those before me didn’t. I was the guy who took on the corporate favourite at Survivor Series and won, all by myself. I got to the final three of the Royal Rumble, and because of that, I have more than earned my spot in this Chamber. But I’m more than the guy who just ‘earns his spot’, I’m the guy who then takes that shot and shows exactly why I am the real best wrestler in this company, exactly what I’ve been saying since my very first day in WWE when I was put in NXT. That dream match between Daniel Bryan and CM Punk will happen, in the main event, of Wrestlemania, and I will be the guy who again exceeds expectations and closes out the show with the belt on my shoulder!”
Randy Orton is last up. “It took me a while, and there were a lot of moments where I got ‘upset’, so to speak, but at Royal Rumble I finally buried a ghost that’s been haunting me since Money In The Bank last year. At last, I’m the WWE Champion again, and man it feels good! But I’m not gonna lie, I’m still angry. Because even with Christian no longer in the World Title, Charisma is still interfering with my life. I got two of them in the Chamber with me. I guess I’m gonna have to ruin them just like I ruined Christian. The only thing I want and am interested in is keeping this. I don’t know how I’ll cope if I somehow lose this. I need this belt to keep my mind in check. I am not losing this ever again. Plus, I have a point to prove against CM Punk. I beat him at Wrestlemania last year, and when the title up on the line, I know that I’ll beat him again!”
Elimination Chamber 2012 (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
The show’s first headlining match is the deeply personal Three Stages of Hell match. The bout less resembles a “wrestling” match and more like an outright brawl. Punches, kicks, knees, and slaps form the majority of the story for the first fall, before Christian, in a seeming tribute to his former tag partner, hits Triple H with a surprise Spear. However, as Christian looks to apply a Crossface, Triple H dodges and then applies an Indian deathlock. With nowhere to go and seemingly looking to retain his energy for the rest of the match, the Charisma member taps, putting him a fall behind.
The next fall is the No Holds Barred one, and upon Christian tapping, Triple H immediately exits the ring and brings out his trusty sledgehammer. But before Triple H has the chance to finish Christian off, he is hit with the Taser that as ever Christian had hit in his trunks. However, this only scores Christian a 2 count. But with his opponent stunned by the shot with the Taser, the rest of the fall resembles an utter dissection of the Game by the Instant Classic. Christian is able to hit the Frog Splash, as well as hitting the KillSwitch and using Triple H’s sledgehammer against him. But throughout this, Triple H still won’t go down, and indeed he ends up scoring a very near fall when against the run of play he hits a spinebuster and a Pedigree. But Christian is able to escape a second Pedigree, and hits Triple H with a low blow. Christian then fishes out a barbed wire baseball bat, and then after pounding his opponent in the back with it a couple times, then applies a Crossface submission using the barbed wire from the bat. With an almost inhuman scream against the pain, Triple H taps, levelling things.
This means the involvement of the Elimination Chamber in the match, but despite the hellacious beating he has received, Triple H is able to get on equal ground when he responds with his own low blow. After Christian kicks out, the Game then takes to throwing Christian all around the Chamber, into the steel wiring, into the glass walls, and hits a German suplex onto the steel floor. But despite this, Christian still kicks out, and he almost catches Triple H with a roll up after Triple H tries the Pedigree again. The match turns into an exhausted punch vs punch contest, before Christian is able to bounce off the ropes and put Triple H down with a clothesline. When he goes for a KillSwitch however, Triple H reverses it into another Pedigree.
But as Triple H moves to make the final pin, the arena is suddenly plunged into darkness again, and when the light comes back on, the Undertaker is stood behind the Game. As soon as the latter turns around, he is instantly hit with a chokeslam. Christian looks at Taker with a stunned expression, before quickly crawling to get the pinfall, and with the 3 count Christian manages an almost shocking victory, making sure to scarper out of the Chamber as soon as he can. Meanwhile, the Undertaker simply stares at Triple H, before rolling back his eyes and running his arm across his face, with clearly sinister intentions in mind for the future…
The next match is Zack Ryder’s defence of his Intercontinental and United States belts against Cody Rhodes. Ryder almost wins mere seconds into the match after Rhodes rushes at him and Ryder gets him in a roll-up. Rhodes rolls to the outside to collect his thoughts, only for Ryder to jump off the top rope and hit an elbow drop to the outside. The remainder of the match consists of Ryder chasing Rhodes, as Rhodes becomes considerably more cautious in the wake of the mistake he made earlier. There, Rhodes is able to slowly weaken Ryder, targeting him with numerous armbars and choke holds. But Ryder is every bit as fired up for the match as Rhodes, and a missile dropkick followed by an enziguri very nearly puts Rhodes out.
The match turns the tide when Rhodes misses a clothesline on Ryder and accidentally takes out the referee. With this opportunity, the other members of Charisma (sans Christian, said to still be recovering from the earlier match come down to beat on Ryder, and the three in the ring hit him with a Triple Powerbomb. But reinforcements are at hand, as the other four participants in the Chamber match as well as CM Punk run down to fend them off. Rhodes is still nonetheless able to cover Ryder, but with no referee it makes no difference. A second official is brought out, but Ryder kicks out at 2. Rhodes attempts a CrossRhodes, only for Ryder to hit a neckbreaker for the 2 count. Ryder lays into Rhodes with kicks, and Rhodes catches the last one of these and puts Ryder in an ankle lock. After a very tense 1 and a half minutes, Ryder reaches the ropes. Rhodes then tries the same LaBell Lock he used to nearly put away Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble, but Ryder reverses it into another roll-up, and this time nothing stops the 3 count. As Rhodes retreats to the outside and leans on the wall with shock on his face, Ryder is in tears as he holds up his two belts in celebration. He has retained the belts, and now he has a WWE Championship shot on the next night’s RAW!
Big match introductions are made for the match that will determine the main event of Wrestlemania. But before any of that happens, a massive curveball is thrown with the entrance music, and shock appearance, of the Rock, who makes his way down to the ramp while carrying a bag, ignoring outraged shouting from John Cena, and making his way to the commentary desk.
“Hey Rock! Please, sit down!” Jerry Lawler jubilantly greets him, “What brings you here?!”
“What the hell do you mean: ‘What is the Rock doing here?’, what kind of stupid question is that?” The Rock incredulously chides, “Let me ask you a better question Jerry: shouldn’t you be away perving on girls way too young for you? The Rock is here because it’s what the People want. And the Rock is also here because in Miami, Florida in nearly 2 months time, the Rock will return to the ring to face that fruity-pebbles piece of monkey-trash in that ring. So the Rock, he wants the best seat in the house to watch and take mental notes.”
Michael Cole is inquisitive, “Are we going to see you get involved in this match? I mean, do you want revenge on Cena for attacking you at Survivor Series? Or you maybe you want to preserve your main event spot?”
“Listen here Cole, firstly, know your role and shut your mouth! No-one wants you here. And second, the Rock’s actually not going to get involved. The Rock is saving his revenge for Wrestlemania, the Rock doesn’t give a crap whether he faces John Cena in the main event, or the semi-main, the first match of the night, or even the pre-show match! Well… actually, the Rock does care about not getting put in that last one. All I care about is kicking his ass, and I don’t want that roody-poo jean-shorts-wearing bitch to have a single excuse when I whoop his candy-ass all over the Sun Life Stadium!”
The referee and ring announcer stare at the conversation outside, and Rock waves his hand, “Hey, don’t let the Rock stop you. The Rock’s just gonna sit here and eat his popcorn.”
This perks Booker T’s interest, “What flavour are we talking?”
“Sweet, just like the Rock’s soulful eyes and winning smile. And no, you’re not having any.”
The ring announcer carries on with his job, and then the referee starts the match. Initially, things are pretty even, with the two exchanging shoulder-blocks, headlocks, and Irish whips, before Cena is able to nail a hip-toss and then a leg drop from the second rope.
But the continuous presence of the Rock, who continues to make quips at Cena’s (and occasionally Punk’s) expense while on commentary, makes Cena paranoid, as he keeps on looking over at the Rock in case he does something. This mistake allows Punk to take control of the match, and in contrast to the even contest many were expecting, Punk is able to dominate Cena with numerous DDTs and suplexes of the German and Belly-to-Belly kind, as well as one-upping Cena with Frog Splashes and Leg Drops from the top rope. Cena is able to very briefly get back into things, hitting Punk with a 5 Knuckle Shuffle and locking in the STF, which after nearly a minute Punk escapes from, Cena prepares for an Attitude Adjustment, but gets distracted when Lawler (accidentally) spills the Rock’s popcorn all over the floor, causing the Rock to very loudly chastise Lawler and slap him in the face. This makes Cena come out to the outside to talk trash to the Rock, with the latter protesting his innocence, but Cena doesn’t see Punk jump from the top rope and hit him from behind with a cross-body.
Punk glares at the Rock as well, and Rock briefly reciprocates before returning to his bag and pulling out a diet soda, exactly the same kind as what Punk normally drinks. This makes Punk laugh and ask Rocky if he can save him some. The Great One replies that he will only if Punk carries on beating up Cena. Punk gives a mock salute and then picks up Cena to ram him into the steel stairs. After throwing him in the ring, he then proceeds to produce his own version of the Five Knuckle Shuffle, with Rock quipping that his version actually looks better. He then nails the Savage Elbow Drop from the top rope, and then is able to nail a GTS. Unfortunately, after all that, Cena kicks out.
An attempt at a second GTS sees Cena counter however, and nail an Attitude Adjustment, but Punk kicks out at 2. Rock channels his inner Vince McMahon with a “What a Maneouvre!” cheer. Livid at this disrespect, Cena throws Punk over the top rope, and then proceeds to ram him over the announce table into the Rock. But a far graver injustice has been committed as a result:
“You spilled the Rock’s diet soda!”
“You spilled his diet soda!” Punk agrees with feeling.
Cena is even more pissed off at this, and attempts to ram Punk into the ring post, only for Punk to reverse this and do exactly the same to Cena. Punk then rolls Cena into the ring, and hits a GTS. Rather than make the cover, however, Punk instead locks in the Anaconda Vice. Cena gets close to touching the ropes, but Punk pulls him right back into the centre of the ring, and with tears of unbelievable agony, Cena taps out. The crowd reaches epic noise proportions as the ring announcer makes it official: CM Punk will face the WWE Champion in the main event of Wrestlemania!
Before Punk leaves, the Rock leaves the commentator’s booth and enters the ring while Punk is still celebrating. After a tense stare-down, the Rock then hands out one of two diet sodas in his hands to Punk. Punk, raising an eyebrow, contemplates this for a second, and then takes it, before the two toast one another and then drink from their cans. The Rock then raises Punk’s arm to the joy of the crowd, before leaving Punk to enjoy even more of the adoration from his audience.
The main event match inside the Chamber closes out the show, and with Punk’s victory, the stakes in the match are even higher. Rey Mysterio is the first to enter a pod. Randy Orton is the next to walk down the ramp, but as he does so, all 4 members of Charisma emerge from the crowd to beat Orton down. Then, with Orton significantly weakened, Christian gives the order, and the other 3 Charisma members pick Orton up and hit him with a Triple Powerbomb into the outside Chamber wall. Del Rio, Barrett, and Rhodes then take the remaining 3 pods for themselves. Despite efforts from Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler to get Rhodes out of his pod, they can’t do it, and all members of Charisma are eventually locked in. This means there is no choice but for Bryan and Ziggler to start the match. Outside, Orton is wheeled away on a stretcher.
The first five minutes see the two engage in some very nice mat wrestling, with Ziggler clearly conscious of Bryan’s particular skills at submissions, just managing to escape an attempt at a LaBell lock. The two then proceed to trade kicks and slaps to the chest with one another, before Ziggler is able to nail a dropkick before the clock counts down for the third entrant, and it’s the intruding Cody Rhodes.
Ziggler immediately rains punches and slaps on Rhodes, and tosses him over the top rope into the ring. He and Bryan combine to give Rhodes a double-team suplex. But as Ziggler prepares for the Zig-Zag, Rhodes gives him a low blow, and then evades a Kobayashi Knee before clotheslining Bryan onto the steel. He then proceeds to hit Ziggler with a Cross-Rhodes and then, after considering for a moment, then hits a second Cross-Rhodes for the successful pinfall. Ziggler is eliminated.
The countdown finishes for the next entrant, and it’s Alberto Del Rio. Immediately, Bryan finds himself on the back foot, eating a double powerbomb and double DDT from the Charisma members. He is mercilessly tossed around the chamber, picking up wounds from being thrown into the chamber walls and glass panels. The commentators speculate that with whoever the next entrant is and if Bryan ends up gone, nothing would stop a guaranteed Charisma victory.
But an attempt by Del Rio to put the ankle lock on Bryan is countered when Bryan is able to roll forward and catapult Del Rio into Rhodes, sending the latter to the outside. Bryan is then able to roll Del Rio up with a small package, scoring the 3 count and eliminating Del Rio.
The fears of the commentators end up justified, as fifth to enter the chamber is Wade Barrett. For the next 5 minutes, Bryan is dissected more than ever, falling victim to vicious powerslams and clotheslines onto the steel floor. When he is rammed into one of the empty pods, the glass breaks. He falls victim to a double-team suplex into the ring, and is then hit with a Wasteland, as it seems like Charisma are ready to put a stamp on their dominance of the match.
But finally it is the time for the last entrant, and Rey Mysterio performs a springboard dropkick on Barrett to break the cover. He then is able to hit a Cross-Body on Rhodes, before picking up Bryan so that the two can then nail the Charisma members with vicious kicks to the body, before finishing things up with a kick to the head. Rey then sets Barrett up, and then hits, a 619, followed swiftly up by a Kobayashi Knee from Bryan, leading to Barrett’s elimination. But when Rey picks up the other Charisma member to do the same, Rhodes counters with a low blow, and then throws Bryan to the outside. He then hits Rey with a Cross Rhodes, and one 3-count later, Rey is eliminated.
The final two are Bryan and Rhodes, with the knowledge that with no more time limits, at last a victor can be crowned out of the two. Bryan yet again faces punishment against the steel of the Chamber, and he kicks out 2.99 after a Cross Rhodes. Rhodes puts Bryan in an Indian Deathlock, but Bryan is able to escape. An attempt of another Cross Rhodes is reversed into a LaBell lock, which after 1 and a half minutes, Rhodes is able to get his foot on the ropes. Leg drops, frog splashes, diving headbutts, moonsaults – after 10 minutes alone with one another, the two still can’t put each other down.
The end comes when Rhodes attempts an ankle lock, but Bryan is able to stand, escape, and then nail Rhodes with a Pele kick. He is then able to hit the Kobayashi Knee, and at last a 3 count is made. Daniel Bryan has gotten his WWE Championship back.
As Bryan celebrates, his music is interrupted by that of first his challenger for the next night, Zack Ryder, and then that of the No. 1 contender for the championship at Wrestlemania, CM Punk. The three engage in a group hug and then raise their arms to close out the show, with the knowledge burning in the awe-inspired crowd’s minds that two out of these three men will main event Wrestlemania…
The Road To Wrestlemania
The first RAW opens with Triple H in the ring. Fans chant “Undertaker” at him.
“Oh believe me, we’re gonna get to that, but there’s more important things than that right now. I’d ideally like to be the kind of authority figure who doesn’t prioritise himself over everyone else. Right now, we need to focus on the WWE Championship scene. Now, as you know, with their respective victories in their matches last night, we were scheduled to headline this RAW with the final WWE Title match before Wrestlemania, with Daniel Bryan defending his newly won belt against Zack Ryder. However, after the unbelievably irritating sabotage committed by Charisma, it’s quite clear that the former WWE Champion, Randy Orton deserves his shot at the belt he never got the chance to defend inside the Chamber.”
“Now, because of that, I regret to inform you that we will not see a WWE Championship match tonight,” The crowd boos this news, before Hunter holds up a hand to halt them, “hang on, let me finish: we won’t see a match for the WWE Title tonight, instead, we’ll see two!” And just like that, the crowd is delighted.
“Now, I’ve discussed things with the relevant parties, and we’ve agreed on an arrangement I think everyone is going to like! So tonight, after I’m done talking, we will still see champion Daniel Bryan defend his championship, but it will be against former champion Randy Orton, and in keeping with Bryan’s previous title defences, it will be fought under Code of Honor rules. Then, as the main event for the show, whoever is WWE Champion at the end of that match will then defend against Zack Ryder, again under Code of Honor rules! To those who are wondering, we did actually offer Randy the chance to wait until the second WWE Title match of the night, but he was quite impatient about getting his shot. Now, because this means that someone is going to have to work two matches tonight, both matches will be restricted to time limits of 15 minutes. I cannot stress enough that our respective challengers must achieve a pinfall or submission in the allocated time, or the champion will retain his belt. At the end of the night, we will officially know the name of the WWE Champion who will face off against the Royal Rumble winner, CM Punk, in the main event of Wrestlemania!”
“Now Undertaker, it was nice to see you last night. Sure, it coincided with you costing me my match last night, but it’s always a great sight for everyone to see you back in a WWE ring. That’s truly encouraging after what happened to you last year. And that’s exactly why I’m still going to refuse your request.” The crowd boos this, and more Undertaker chants emerge. “You may have beaten me when we faced off at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, but I broke you. You can use all the darkness and smoke and theatrics you want, but last year I proved you are still just a man, and only one of us was able to actually to the back of their own volition, and it wasn’t you. I’m not going to face you again at Wrestlemania, Taker, because as long as you have the Streak, you have value. It is best for business to keep that value intact, and if you were to face me again, I would take that value from you, and no-one would care about you. Sorry buddy, but I’m not about to do that to you, so-“
He’s interrupted by Christian’s music, bringing out the man himself, who is also by himself as well. “That’s some real nice apologetics, Hunter, and a great way of dodging the real biggest issue from last night, which was the fact that I took you to three falls and I beat you in the centre of the ring! And you’re really going to just brush that off?”
“Actually, no, Christian, I’m not,” Hunter smirks, “Regardless of what Taker did, you did still beat me. You gave me a hell of a hard fight, one of the hardest in my career, and you emerged triumphant, and there’s only a select class of people who’ve done that. So I’m actually quite sincere when I congratulate you for beating me. It’s just that after what your group did-“
Christian yawns, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m about done listening to your laughable attempts to kiss my ass and pass the buck, so I’ll get to the point. You’re making all these excuses as to why you don’t want to face Taker, but you know what the real reason is? You can’t get it done in the ring anymore! Seriously, when’s the last time you even won a match? Certainly not last year! And you want to crow about how you were able to walk out of the ring? Big whoop, Hunter! You still couldn’t beat him in a match then, and you know damn well that you wouldn’t be able to do it now! Whereas someone like me, who deserves a headline-worthy match at Wrestlemania…”
“Oh don’t even think of going down that road!” Triple H is exasperated, “Like I said, you did really well last night, but it seems to always be the way with you Charisma guys that when you take one step forwards in trying to influence the higher-ups into giving you the big opportunities you say it want, you then proceed to take two massive steps back! Like you and Rhodes were utterly brilliant in your respective matches last night, but then you pulled that stunt on Randy, and you weren’t even successful in getting one of your guys to end up in the title scene tonight. So no, Christian, I’m not compelled to grant you or any of your team members any favours, especially not just handing you a match with the Undertaker! If you want to earn it-“
“I carried the World Title scene for the entire second half of last year!” Christian angrily retorts, “I took control of the situation when your daddy screwed things up and let our oh-so-virtuous CM Punk go AWOL with the WWE Title. I fixed the mess created by that phony tournament. I proved I was more than worthy to represent this company as the signature face of this company carrying it’s more important belt. And that’s not earning it, Hunter? You’re out of touch, and you should-“
But next to interrupt is John Cena. “I don’t know what you have to complain about. At least your match last night was on a mostly level footing, but me? My match was biased against me from the start! How can you, as the COO, not see the screwjob I suffered?”
“Screwjob? Really, John? Careful with that Bret Hart Complex!” Triple H quips, which elicits mixed reactions of laughter and booing from the crowd, “All Rocky did was commentate. We have him on tape explicitly saying that he was not going not going to interfere in the match, and that’s exactly what he didn’t do. All he did was throw out one-liners mocking you while he was on commentary, and if that really affected your mind-set during the match, then I’m half tempted to bring Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura out of retirement, cause the stuff Rock said is nothing compared to the kind of roasting they would have given you! Hell, Daniel Bryan had to put up with Michael Cole’s stupidity ever since he joined WWE, a punishment no man should ever have to endure, and he’s now the WWE Champion!”
Cena paces the ring in anger, “So you’re really going to deny that the Rock did anything to distract me?”
Triple H rolls his eyes “Oh gods, are you seriously talking about the popcorn thing? We’ve got the replays, it was Lawler who knocked Rock’s popcorn off the commentator’s desk, and rest assured Lawler is getting a great punishment, he’s not attending any Divas parties for the next year!” Lawler groans in disappointment as Triple H continues, “Maybe the reality of it, John, is that you can’t handle big match pressure anymore! I mean, ever since you lost to Punk in July of last year, you didn’t win any of the title matches you were placed in, you flunked in the Royal Rumble, and Punk embarrassed you last night!”
“Oh don’t you worry, ‘Game’,” Cena replies, “Come Mania time, I’m gonna show Dwayne exactly what a real WWE superstar looks like and make him wish he’d never come back. But in the meantime, I want to do exactly what I did a few Wrestlemanias ago and kick your ass, tonight!”
The two stare each other down, before Christian interjects, “Sorry, when did we divert to the two losers from last night stroking their egos? Truth is, Cena, you’re actually even worse than Hunter. You have the nerve to come here saying I don’t have anything to complain about? You’re the guy who’s facing the Rock at Wrestlemania! That’s an opportunity many guys in the back would kill for! But because the fans aren’t getting put through the monotony of seeing another boring match of yours main event a show, you act like a total prima donna! I’m not gonna lie, I got an extra special kick out of watching you burn last night! Not that the other unworthy main eventer you faced last night is any better but-“
And at last, we have CM Punk making his entrance: “Oh, wow. The guy who set up a group that is named after one of his nicknames, used an utterly unlikeable fossil in Kevin Nash to protect his championship run, and has spent the last month whining about a stipulation that he agreed to beforehand being enforced, is calling me a prima donna!” CM Punk grins and shakes his head. “And you want to brag about beating Triple H? I did it back at Survivor Series and I didn’t need anyone to help me, least of all some spiritual guy in a dark jacket and hat! And John, I don’t have that much more to say to you, except to tell you that that diet soda I had after our match last night might have been the best tasting diet soda I ever had!”
Cena starts shouting off-mic in the ring again, while Punk again laughs. “Honestly, I feel great. I’m in the main event of Wrestlemania, and I’m gonna enjoy scouting whoever my opponent ends up being with the WWE Championship matches tonight. But y’know, I just got reminded of some unfinished business I want to settle before the big stage, and that’s getting some retribution against the one responsible for screwing me out of a WWE Championship that I shouldn’t have needed a Royal Rumble victory to attempt to fix, and that involves kicking your ass, Christian! And I don’t mind throwing some more punches in John’s direction either!”
Christian and Cena prepares themselves for a fight, but Triple H holds up his hand: “Now hold on a minute, Punk. I’m the guy who makes the matches around here! And I have just the match in mind to entertain us all on this very episode of Monday Night RAW! Tonight, we will see Charisma’s Christian… teaming up with John Cena!” Christian and Cena look confused and not at all pleased about the news, and soon they are scowling heavily with the next announcement: “And their opponents? The Royal Rumble winner, and No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania… CM Punk, and me!”
The first of the WWE Championship matches is up next. And right away it becomes clear that despite his eagerness to get his rematch as soon as possible, this is not the usual level of quality that is normally seen of Randy Orton. He is extremely paranoid, arguably more-so than Cena than the night before, constantly looking towards the entrance ramp as though he expects any member of Charisma to appear. The knowledge of the reduced time frame also seems to deeply mess with Orton’s mind, knowing he has very little time to take back the title he was practically robbed of. This leads him to make some very bad mistakes as he attempts to kill the match early, leaving himself badly open for the technical wrestling of Daniel Bryan to exploit. An attempted RKO is met only with Bryan dodging and nearly taking Orton’s head off with a kick, averted only by him rolling out of the ring in frustration. Another attempted RKO sees Bryan reverse and hit him with a belly-to-belly suplex. And when Orton nails an elevated DDT off the middle rope, he then attempts a punt kick.
But Bryan is ready for this, and he rolls out of the way and trips Orton up, before putting him in the LaBell Lock. With the submission hold trapping Orton in the centre of the ring, Orton’s manic struggles to escape prove fruitless, and he ends up passing out in the lock, to the shock of the crowd as the ring announcer lets it be known that Daniel Bryan will move on to the main event of the night after beating Randy Orton in just 5 minutes and 47 seconds.
Later on in the night, the scene cuts backstage as Orton, now conscious, sits on a chair backstage with medics checking him over to see that he’s physically okay. But it is obvious from his facial expression that the scars he bears are those of his mind, with the realisation written on him that his main event aspirations at a Wrestlemania are gone for another year…
Before the big tag match, CM Punk and Triple H meet up, and one thing take precedence above all others: what team name they should use. Please take your pick between: Clobbering Time To Play The Game; Drug Free Pedigree; The Motorhead Appreciation Guild; The Choice Of A New D-Generation; The Tats & Lats Connection; or the Dynamic Dudes With Attitude!
Daniel Bryan is interviewed backstage in between his matches, asked for his thoughts on his prior match.
“Honestly? I’m more than surprised Byron. I know Randy was obviously affected by what happened last night, but I never thought that the match I just had would have been anything like what it ended up being. I guess I’m thankful though. I’ve got another match against Zack tonight, and it could have been a hell of a lot worse if I’d had the 15 minute really bruising encounter I expected Randy to give me. But tonight’s about really proving that I am legitimate, and that I am the very best at what I do. I really hope Zack is prepared. I know I am, and I know that there is only one guy who is going to be WWE Champion before and after Wrestlemania, and that guy is Daniel Bryan!”
When the match comes, Punk and Hunter, despite all their differences of opinion in the past month, work together as though they are Super Best Friends, while Cena and Christian show to next to no interest in working with one another, only resorting to tagging the other in when things appear to be getting a little much for them. In the end, a ref bump happens, and Cena and Christian cheat with low blows and chairs to turn the match around.
But just as Cena is about to hit Triple H with an Attitude Adjustment and Christian about to hit a KillSwitch on CM Punk, they are rescued when the music of a certain Brahma Bull hits and the man himself rushes down to the ring to take out both men, taking out Christian with a clothesline and hitting Cena with a spinebuster. He then gives Christian a Rock Bottom onto Cena, and then proceeds to give a People’s Elbow to the both of them. He then pulls off his shirt to reveal another shirt, this time a referee’s one, underneath, and Punk and Triple H waste no time in pinning their opponents, with Rock giving a perfectly good 3-count to seal the match in their favour.
The second WWE Championship match, and the one deciding the equivalent match at Wrestlemania, closes out the episode of RAW. The commentators speculate about what would happen with Ryder’s existing titles if he ended up in the main event of Wrestlemania, and Punk also sits at the commentary desk, watching intently as his future opponent is decided. Ryder looks to avoid the mistakes of his previous match with Bryan at Night of Champions, being sure to evade Bryan’s ground game and instead keep him at bay with clotheslines, legdrops, suplexes, and a facebuster. But none of these put Bryan down, and Bryan is able to respond with some particularly sharp kicks to the chest and Ryder’s legs that seem to take the wind out of his sails, and Bryan also hits him with a diving headbutt, but Ryder does not go down either.
With 2 minutes to go in the match, Ryder attempts a Zack Attack, which Bryan evades, and he attempts to put Ryder in the LaBell Lock, only for Ryder to escape and then manage to score a very near-fall with the Broski Boot. With 30 seconds remaining. Ryder tries a top rope elbow drop, only to miss, and Bryan is able to finish the match with a Kobayashi Knee, scoring a successful pinfall in a nail-biting 14 minutes and 58 seconds. The two shake hands and then hug at the match’s conclusion, and Punk leaves the commentary table to join in the group hug in an echo of the ending scenes of the previous night.
But unlike the previous night, a very rude interruption is in order. All four members of Charisma run down and start fighting, and then overwhelming, the beaten down and tired inhabitants in the ring. But reinforcements are at hand as Triple H, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, and Dolph Ziggler all run down to join in on the brawl.
But suddenly, the arena goes dark, and yet again a gong sounds. When the lights come back on, Orton, Mysterio, and Ziggler are all laid out unconscious. The members of Charisma grin as they circle in on the other persons in the ring, but once again the lights go out, and another gong happens. When the lights return, all of the members of Charisma have lost consciousness too, and standing in the middle of this sea of bodies is none other than the Undertaker, with just Punk, Bryan, and Triple H still awake and shocked by his appearance.
He raises the mic he has in hand, addressing the Wrestlemania main-eventers first: “Go, now, before I change my mind.” The two wisely decide to leave him to his business, though Punk pauses very briefly to stare Taker down before exiting. Finally, Taker turns his attention to Hunter, who stares back up at Taker while sat in the corner of the ring.
“Triple H, I grow tired of waiting. Do not push me any further. You cannot avoid this. I expect you to accept this destiny, and you will give me an answer when we meet again, on RAW, next week!”
The following segments are relevant to specific matches featuring on the Wrestlemania card. They have been divided accordingly.
Charisma’s Last Stand?
The next episode of RAW opens up with all members of Charisma in the ring.
“After what he did to us last week, we only have one thing to say to Undertaker when it comes to Wrestlemania;” Christian pauses for a moment, draws a deep breath, smirks, and then draws some confusion from the crowd when he follows it up with: “Enjoy pursuing our incompetent COO! I mean, hey man, I did really want to challenge your streak, but I can see you’re too obsessively occupied with getting Hunter at ‘Mania for another year, and I’m not going to change your mind. And while Hunter will undoubtedly come up with some other awful excuse as to why he won’t face you, I know very well that his mind can be very easily changed with the right provocation.”
“Don’t get us wrong,” Rhodes interjects, “Taker is absolutely going to face retribution from Charisma, one day, but we will do it on our terms. Right now though, we don’t really have time for dealing with a lazy part-timer who’s mad because in the one time of the year that he even bothers to show up anymore, he needed medics to help him out after a match where he still preserved his Streak. Yeah, shockingly, when you’re in your mid-40s and you wrestle a 30 minute No Holds Barred match, these kind of things can happen! How nice it must be to have the kinds of concerns these kinds of bone-idle guys have, am I right?”
“Oh yeah, like Rocky turning up every so often!” Christian laughs, drawing some boos, “And he’s mad because he’s no longer the main guy WWE Corporate kisses the ass of anymore, and hell, he couldn’t even get the concept of ‘acting as a host for Wrestlemania and not massively boring people’ right last year! Hey Rock, y’know back in the Attitude Era? While the top brass were giving you preferential treatment because your family lineage, guys like me and Edge were creating far more lasting memories without any previous reputation when we destroyed people with Tables, Ladders, and Chairs!”
Despite the further boos, there is applause mixed in the crowd for that last statement. “But y’know what? I’ve got bigger fish to fry, and even in spite of the opportunities that we have been screwed out of getting, Wrestlemania is still going to make a huge mark of success for Charisma, the culmination of our deserved dominance of this company, and it starts with me making history against one man, and that is none other… than Zack Ryder!”
But rather than Ryder’s music, it is instead that of the previous WWE Champion, Randy Orton, who comes rushing out in an attempt to attack the people in the ring. He is very quickly subdued however, as Rhodes, Barrett, and Del Rio are able to restrain him and force him down to his knees as Christian laughs again.
“Wow, Zack! I didn’t know it was your life-long ambition to get plastic surgery to look like an even bigger loser! I gotta say, the resemblance is uncanny! Do we have a spare mic? I’d love to hear his justification for this unjust attempted assault!”
Del Rio puts a mic to Orton’s mouth, and Orton gives Christian a death-glare: “So you’re just going to ignore what you did to me? How you want to talk about getting screwed out of opportunities, but your boys were responsible for how I don’t have my deserved main event spot at Wrestlemania?”
All the Charisma members snigger at this, and Christian rolls his eyes. “Well yeah, Randy, I think I can just ignore what happened at Elimination Chamber, because you’re really that insignificant! But I’m curious, what was stopping you from beating Daniel last week? You’re the guy who last held the belt, but you barely went over 5 minutes with the guy before you were made to look like the pathetic fraud that you are! None of us were there when you got completely embarrassed, and for that matter, none of us forced you to take the first title match of the night, when you could have taken the second match and increased your chances of getting the top billing! But it’s all gotta be about Randy and how tough he is, right?”
“Damn right, Christian,” Wade Barrett says, “and we have a pretty good idea of why you’re here, Randy. You want Christian at Wrestlemania, right? Well I’m sorry to disappoint you sunshine, but that isn’t happening. Christian has proved everything he needs to prove against you. You may have taken away his ability to fight for any World Title until next year, but he’s flat-out annihilated your spirit and any sense of rationality you have. I mean, you got squashed last week by Bryan, and now you come out here with no reinforcements whatsoever and try to attack us all? You’ve lost your goddamn mind!”
“Too right,” Cody Rhodes smirks, “and besides which, while Christian has made his point against you, us other guys still have issues with you we definitely want to settle, and since you’re so damn eager for a fight and to get some definitive victory over us, we’re going to offer you the perfect opportunity!”
“Indeed,” Del Rio agrees, “You see, campesino, we’ve had a big discussion, and we’re willing to put the future of our group on the line in order to crush you once and for all! That’s right, Orton, we’re giving you the chance to make Charisma disband, and all you need to do is win a match against the three of us at Wrestlemania!”
Orton stops struggling, and stares the members of Charisma down, “You’re actually offering me this? Why would you even do that? And I know exactly what kind of scum you are? There’s no way you’d actually offer me this if there wasn’t a catch.”
“You’re absolutely right, Randy, I’m kind of shocked you’ve showed intelligence for once!” Christian quips, “So here’s the deal: If you, and whatever partners you’re able to bring with you, can beat my friends in a tag match, then Charisma is finished, we all go our separate ways. But if my boys win? Well, you remember that long road I have to travel down until I ever get a World Title shot again? You, and whatever guys are stupid enough to be persuaded to be on your team, will have to join me on that journey of being ineligible for World Title opportunities until the Royal Rumble next year! So, Randy, does your burning desire to destroy us still rage so much, or are you smart enough to have second thoughts? Let him go, guys, he’s not a threat.”
Orton is released, and then gets back to his feet, a look of sheer malice on his face. “At Wrestlemania, I’ll officially end you for good. You three will all need a drip feed after what I do to you!” And at that moment he storms his way to the back.
“Well then,” Christian yawns, “after that boring interruption, let’s try this again: Zack! Get out here!”
This time, it is indeed the music of the Champion of the Internet and other titles who answers the call. Unlike Orton, Ryder stays at the top of the ramp.
“Well, I’m not gonna lie, Christian, I can speak on behalf of my fellow Broskis that the temptation to beat a former WWE Champion to keep my belts would be a hell of a Wrestlemania Moment, Trademark! But I do wonder though, ‘Captain’, after seeing how badly that tag match worked out for you last week, why I should give you the shot and not go for someone better like the Undertaker? He’s never held both belts at the same time! The Internet, Intercontinental, and United States Championships vs. The Streak! Now that’s a money match!”
“Simple, Zack, because like I just finished saying, you know and I know that Taker is never going to contemplate facing anyone other than Triple H this year. Maybe next year one of us will get that opportunity. And secondly,” and suddenly Christian is emotional, “because I’m 38 now and I know that I may not have much time left in my wrestling career. My buddy Edge was 37 when health issues forced him to retire. And people may make jokes about it, but the fact that I can’t currently get any shots at the top title for what could be more months than I have left has left me incredibly jaded. Maybe you already get what I’m saying, Zack, but I lace up my boots every day with the incredibly strong aspiration to be the biggest success in this company! So this is why I’m presenting you with something that could solve all the problems guys like you and Orton have with me, that is the opportunity for you to force my retirement from the WWE.”
Zack raises his own mic to respond quizzically, but Christian holds up his hand: “No, I’m not kidding, Zack. At Wrestlemania, I want you to put up your titles. And if you win, what I just said will ring absolutely true: I won’t just go down to FCW, I won’t be working backstage as a road agent – I will be gone from the WWE permanently. You need to understand: if I’m not getting the chances to truly showcase myself as the very best this company has to offer, then I might as well not even be here!”
Zack Ryder pauses, and then slowly raises his mic. “It’s a hell of a way to raise the stakes, and I know you will give me the hardest fight of my and your lives to protect your career, but you’re on! No matter what happens, at Wrestlemania, I’m going to demonstrate that I am everything the agents and directors backstage tried to deny, a truly amazing dude who absolutely belongs on the biggest stage of them all. Woo, woo, woo, you know it!”
Almost instantly after Randy Orton has finished accepting Charisma’s challenge for Wrestlemania, does Rey Mysterio come up to him backstage, letting him know that like always he has Randy’s back.
But this is the first and last bit of success that Orton has in finding a tag partner. Everyone else approached by Randy and Rey either walks away without a word, or flat out says that regardless of any issues they have with Charisma, they’re not willing to risk a potential near-year’s exile from the World Title scene, and there are very strong hints given from very hostile glares, that teaming with one of the more ‘less balanced’ superstars is also a strong de-motivator for anyone who would have otherwise happily gone after Charisma.
This suspicion is confirmed with Rey’s visit to Dolph Ziggler backstage, where the latter initially tries to brush the former off, until Rey grabs Ziggler’s shoulder.
“What the hell, Dolph? You were there last week with me and Randy when we made moves to fight Charisma off when they targeted Daniel and Zack! Why are you acting like this?”
“I’ll tell you exactly why, Rey,” Ziggler retorts coldly, “and it’s not because I don’t have every bit of dislike for what Charisma do as you guys feel, and it’s not because of the potential exile from the WWE Title scene, I mean hey what else is new, right? No, I’m avoiding tagging with you guys because you can’t win as long as Randy’s part of the charge.”
Rey protests, “You’re not being fair-“
“Oh, am I not, Rey? So did I just imagine the events of Survivor Series, where you guys had a pretty good shot at Charisma, but then Randy completely lost his cool and it caused Zack to be all on his own? Or what about Summerslam, when he was completely reckless and it led to what happened after the match? And then there’s what happened last week as well! If it was you and any other partner, then I’d trust our ability to work as part of an actual team. But Randy? I’m sorry, Rey, but I just can’t do it. And you shouldn’t either, Rey, you’re just going to get hurt. There’s going to be plenty other opportunities to bring Charisma down, just leave Randy to it.”
Rey looks away. “I… I can’t, Dolph. I can’t stand by and watch him getting beaten down. He needs help, and I can give it to him. I can keep him level headed. I’m sure we can take Charisma down, even if it is only me and him with the task of doing it.”
Ziggler sighs, “I hope you’re right, Rey. I really do. But I also hope you’re prepared for what else could happen…
Cody Rhodes speaks on behalf of Team Charisma: “It will be almost eight months since a group of individuals who only wanted to revolutionise a stale title scene formed – a group of individuals who also shared a deep and personal grievance with a true cancer of this company, a man who, along with John Cena, has represented the very worst aspects of the WWE in the past few years. A man who got preferential treatment because he has ‘the look’; a man who is favoured because his mediocre father plays politics and so bizarrely gets more influence in this company than my superior father; a man who made his group Legacy be all about him and preserving his reign at the top. Well, at last we are one step closer to truly causing the so-called enigma of Randy Orton to shatter once and for all. At Wrestlemania, he and his pathetically naïve friend, Rey Mysterio, will fall to Charisma, and at long last the natural order of things can resume, and Charisma will be free to take its place at the top!”
Next is Rey Mysterio: “I know what people think. I know people think I’m crazy to be in a team with… look, I know, all right? But this is bigger than any issue like that. I can’t just sit down and watch a team as immoral as Charisma continue to terrorise this company, regardless of who my partner is. I don’t care what anyone says. I believe in my partner. I believe on the grandest stage of them all, we can both raise our game. When it really matters, we can keep it together, and achieve what really matters. And I believe that at Wrestlemania, we can finally put an end to this force that has caused so much misery.”
Randy Orton’s words are downright chilling: “They’ve taken everything from me. I won’t let them. I don’t care what I have to do to do it. Each and every one of them, I’m taking out. They won’t just regret what they did, they will fall to their knees and beg for me to forgive them. But I will tell you when I will forgive them: it will be when every one of them needs to be carried out on a hospital bed after I have knocked them all out and they need MRI scans. Then I will forgive them. Charisma will die at Wrestlemania, and then, Christian, I’m coming for you!”
“If you had told me so many months back I’d be in this position, I’d have called you crazy, dudes.” Zack Ryder begins, “And yet here I am, despite everything the doubters believed, despite all the attempts to deny exactly how appealing the Internet Champion was and is. I twice pushed Daniel Bryan to the limit when people told me I was out of my league. I took the United States Title when people thought I was just coasting on being an internet trend. I very nearly overcame some serious odds at Survivor Series when people dismissed me as cannon fodder. I became the first person to hold both Intercontinental and United States gold when people thought that I surely couldn’t ever beat someone on the level of John Cena. I survived multiple challenges from Charisma and Cena to my belts. And now, I’m here. This Ultimate Broski is guaranteed to have his Wrestlemania Moment! And now I have the leader of Charisma to defend my titles against. I’ll admit homies, the scale of the task I have is daunting. By keeping my titles, I can end up retiring a guy who, despite everything he’s done, I actually respect a lot. A former WWE Champion deserves that, as well as his constant desire to be on top. I understand that completely. But Christian has still done really bad things to attempt to keep his position, and I will fight with my life to try and stop him from taking the belts that I love with all my heart. At Wrestlemania, no-one, even the top brass backstage, will ever deny what the WWE Universe wants, and that is for the Internet Sensation, Mr Long Island Iced Z, to keep on being amazing and being at the top of the pile! Woo, woo, woo, you know it!”
Christian’s solo video is more sombre: “It’s amazing. This could actually be the end of my career. I’ve been spending time thinking back to guys like Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels when they entered matches like this at their final Wrestlemanias, and I think: ‘Is this how they felt?’ That feeling where it can feel like you know the show deserves to keep on going, but someone is about to pull the curtain on you? I sometimes think I wouldn’t mind retirement, I could relax with my brother Edge again and we could relax into simpler times where we watch the WWE as fans of what it produces for us week after week. But then I remember everything that has happened in the past year. Every principle I have fought for. My hard work in bringing together some highly disaffected people who deserved to be acknowledged by upper management for the sheer talent they possess, only for them to be ignored. The gut-wrenching feeling of being banned from WWE Championship contention and how I responded by kicking Triple H’s ass. And now I have Zack Ryder as my obstacle, and you know what? He’s one of the very few people in this company I actually do respect. He’s gone toe-to-toe with my allies, and come out on top, and he’s actually beaten the fraud that will face the so-called “Great One”, so he possesses a hell of a lot of skill and heart. But I am still in a different class of wrestling to him, and with so much at stake, I will not hesitate to reach the very limits of my abilities to keep my career and get back to the top of the totem pole, and become your new champion of the Intercontinental and United States belts!”
The End of an Era
On the RAW following the direct challenge issued to him in the post-match activities of the WWE Championship match, Triple H is out, to a mixed reception, to deliver the latest news.
“So, putting aside what happened at the end of the show last week for a second, we officially learned the identities of the two men who will contest for the WWE Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania. They are the WWE Champion, Daniel Bryan; and the winner of the Royal Rumble; CM Punk. Now, as you know, Bryan’s title defences have been fought under Code of Honor rules with 30 minute time limits. But at Wrestlemania in Miami, while those stipulations will still be in place, we’re going to go one step further. For only the second time in Wrestlemania’s history, the main event, the WWE Championship match, will be contested under Iron Man rules!”
The crowd goes absolutely ballistic with jubilation for this news. But soon their mood turns sour with the next bit of news:
“Listen, Undertaker, I’m glad you took out Charisma last week, that averted one kind of headache I’d have rather not had, and after Wrestlemania hopefully more headaches are averted with the matches that were made official earlier. But no matter how many other members of the roster you go through, I am not going to accept your challenge. I’m sorry, I’m just not. Maybe what Christian said last week had a ring of truth to it. I’ve been on a losing run of late. Maybe I don’t have the spark that I used to have. But then, maybe you don’t either. Maybe getting put on a hospital bed as your means of exiting the arena last year was a sign that you’re losing your spark too. But I’m a businessman, and you keeping that spark is important to me. And I will not bear the burden of having ended your Streak, because even with my lost spark, it’s still what would hap-“
But suddenly the music of his best friend, Shawn Michaels, rings out through the arena, and the two former D-Generation X members stand face to face in the ring. “That’s not it, Hunter. I’m sorry, my friend, my best friend in the whole world, but that is not it. There is a reason why you refuse to face Undertaker at Wrestlemania, and it’s because you know that you could never do what Shawn Michaels failed to do. I tried twice. It cost me my career. You’ve tried twice, once when you were way younger, and another time last year. You’re avoiding him a third time because you know that if I still had my career, the difference between us is that I would be able to beat him, but you would never able to do it.”
A vein bulges in Triple H’s forehead. “Is that some sort of joke attempt to bait me, Shawn? You honestly want to play that game? You had to beg Undertaker for a rematch after he beat you the previous time. Undertaker is begging me for a rematch even though he won last year. Who’s the better one there, Shawn? I don’t owe you, or Undertaker, anything, except to make decisions that are best for business!”
But the arena goes black and a dong, as before, emits, and with the return of the light, Undertaker is now in the ring. “Triple H, you will give me my rematch. I do not want the lasting memory of me to be what the viewing public saw of me last year. You believe that if you took the opportunity, you could break my Streak. Let me give you another chance for Immortality. Do not let false concern blind you to what you really, truly, know that you want.”
“What I want, Undertaker, is for you to learn what ‘no’ means, because I’m saying it again: No. You’ll have to find someone else to offer your ‘Immortality’ to, I will not be the one to end your Streak. Now, I’ve got a whole Wrestlemania to organise, so if you’ll excuse me…”
At this point, Triple H leaves the ring, with Shawn Michaels pursuing him begging him to come back, before Undertaker is able to turn the tide of the conversation: “You know, Triple H, I ended the career of your very best friend, Shawn Michaels. And I see now that he has more heart and passion for wrestling than you ever had. I know that if Shawn was given a third chance to try and take me down, he would not be such a coward.”
A furious Triple H turns around and slides right back into the ring. “You want to call me a coward? You want to go down that road? Well, that road leads to Hell, and I accept your offer to journey down that road, on the condition that in this match we have, one that will truly signal an end of an era, we go against each other inside Hell in a Cell!”
In the coming weeks, it is announced that Shawn Michaels will be the special guest referee for the bout, and contact between the opponents is few and far between, beyond psychological mind-games the two play on one another.
Once In A Lifetime
After his humiliation in the previous week’s tag match, Cena is all fire and brimstone in his promo against his Wrestlemania opponent.
“Yet again I get another injustice against me, and you people cheer!” The crowd roar their agreement with this sentiment. “You guys make me sick! You guys really want to cheer for someone who, lest I remind you, screwed me out of winning the WWE Title at last year’s Wrestlemania, and let the Miz win. The Miz! Anyone who practically got worshipped by Michael Cole is surely a terrible person, but yet this did nothing to turn any of you guys on the Rock. Whereas when I rightfully stopped Rock from inflating his ego at Survivor Series, I got treated like a pariah! Well screw you! You go right ahead and cheer for a coward. A man who completely disappeared after we agreed to our upcoming match last year. A man who lied when he said he would never abandon the WWE again. A man living off past glories. A coward. He’s not here out of any real love for the WWE, he’s just here to further fill his wallet. There is something I can smell cooking, Rocky, and it’s the enormous amount of crap that comes out of your mouth!”
He is answered, of course, by the arrival of his Wrestlemania opponent.
“Finally, the Rock has come back to Portland! Now, John, in a way, you are right. The Rock did leave the WWE behind for a long time. And the Rock will admit, he did suffer from cowardice. You see, John, the Rock was around the night before Wrestlemania 19, when his opponent for the following night, Stone Cold Steve Austin, was rushed to hospital with serious heart problems, and he was told he risked paralysis if we went back in the ring. The Rock is not ashamed to say that he begged Austin to put his health first and not compete, but Austin was absolutely determined to have his last ever match, and we absolutely tore it up. After the match was over, the Rock started thinking about his own mortality: how long did he have left? And when the Rock really thought about it, he also realised that he had achieved everything he wanted to do in wrestling. The Rock is a multiple time WWE Champion, Intercontinental Champion, and Tag Champion. The Rock is a Royal Rumble winner. He has headlined Wrestlemania against the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, and Triple H, and wrestled classics against Mick Foley and the Undertaker.”
“So yes, the Rock left the WWE, and yes the Rock now spends a lot of time making movies, and does not appear as much as he used to in this company, and do you know why, John? Because the Rock loves acting, The Rock loves the movies he’s been given him the opportunity to be in. The Rock loves that, in contrast to the constant days on the road that being a full-time member of the WWE entails, the Rock gets to go home much more and spend time with his beautiful daughter Simone Alexandra. So yeah John, the Rock has been out of the WWE for a while. But you should never, and the Rock means never, claim that the Great One does not still love the WWE. If he didn’t, he would never have come back. And he would definitely have never urged his cousin, Roman Leakee, who is currently tearing it up in FCW, to make it his mission to get into WWE. The Rock guaran-damn-tees that one day Roman is going to be an absolute star in this company, and the Rock would not be so committed to seeing Roman succeed if the Rock did not love wrestling.”
John Cena snorts, “That’s real heartwarming, Rocky, but you know what I can’t see? Respect. You have shown me enormous disrespect. And why? Because there are people who dared to actually like me. And yeah, those people have reduced since I decided to start telling some hard truths about their pathetic and unethical heroes. The fact of the matter is, you came back, and acted as though you still have the right, in the wrestling world, to call yourself the ‘Great One’ and the ‘Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment”. Firstly, it’s called wrestling, Dwayne, great job on helping to spread that toxic term; and secondly, you’re saying that stuff while I’m around, and I’m sorry to disappoint you, Rock, but the only one who those labels apply to? It’s me!”
“And it’s funny you mention movies and how proud you are of your work. I can’t believe you can stand here with a straight face and say that you are proud of stinkers like the Tooth Fairy and the Scorpion King. And let’s not pretend that Journey 2 The Mysterious Island is going to do anything other than fail. At the end of the day though, when it comes to Wrestlemania, for you it’s going to be just like what happened to your character in The Other Guys: you’ll start off high, only to do nothing else but fail and fall flat on your face!”
The Rock actually laughs at this, “That’s a good one, John Cena, but the Rock can do better. You see John, the Rock does work a lot on movies. And you know what the Rock realised when he looks at you? You are what a spoof of the Rock looks like. And not the good kind of spoof, like Airplane or Austin Powers or Shaun of the Dead or anything by Mel Brooks, but more a Meet The Spartans, Disaster Movie, Jack and Jill piece of monkey trash! You are the Adam Sandler of the WWE, John – a great big no-talent loser who may have tasted success in this company, but you will never compare to the Rock, the People’s Champion, the most Electrifying Man in Wrestling! At Wrestlemania, in the Rock’s home town of Miami, he’s gonna lay the Smacketh Down on your candy ass! If you sme-“
But Rock is cut off as Cena starts laying punches into him. Their brawl ends when Cena is able to hit the Attitude Adjustment, and then puts Rock in the STF before getting pulled off by referees. Their match promises to truly be a war come Wrestlemania…
The True Best In The World
A contract signing for the Code of Honor Iron Man Match for the WWE Championship is the ‘main event’ of the second RAW after Elimination Chamber, with the proceedings overseen by Triple H. Punk cannot resist a quip while he sits with his feet on the table.
“Yeah, let’s get on with things Mr COO. I mean, everyone here knows this match is pretty much already offical, right? CM Punk and Daniel Bryan in the main event of Wrestlemania? So why are we out here? This is all just for show, right? We’re supposed to be out here and be entertaining? When’s the last time we had one of these contract signings that didn’t end in some sort of horrible physical calamity? So if you wanna cut to the chase we can flip this table over and start beating each other up or we can at least make this entertaining!”
Triple H raises an eyebrow, and then says, “Well that sounds like a plan, Punk. I mean, normally in these kinds of occasions we get each of the guys telling each other why they hate each other. So maybe you can start? I mean, you came back before Survivor Series because you wanted to face Daniel for the WWE Championship, before I called you out on it of course. What exactly is it about the notion of facing Daniel Bryan is it that was such a big deal about making you come back?”
Punk laughs, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! I never at any point said that it was the sole reason for me coming back, but hey, thanks for reminding people here about your sheer inability to know what’s best for business. I came back for many reasons. I’d had a long enough break to recover from the burnout and nagging injuries I felt when I left the company. The WWE were giving me solid guarantees that if I get stuff like sponsors wanting to be attached to me or invites to fan conventions, which I have been getting and doing, they aren’t going to just screw me around and give it to someone else. I was given far more of an impression that because of the things I said and did back in summer of last year, the mind-set in the Board of Directors was evolving beyond “What’s next for Cena?” since that’s all Vince cared about. I came back because there was still mismanagement on your part that I had to do more than sit on my couch in Chicago to fix. And hey, WWE Films are talking to me as well, so maybe I can end up becoming a real movie star, and no, Hunter, not like you in ‘The Chaperone’!”
Hunter smirks, “How do you think your movie will do?”
“Oh, it will go straight to DVD, just like yours. But to answer your main question, the reason I wanted to face Daniel Bryan is-“
“Let me cut you off, right, there.” Bryan interrupts, “Because I’ve heard it all before. You want to share the biggest stage of them all with one of your greatest rivals from Ring of Honor. Anyone with an internet connection can see those past matches we had and be all awe-inspired by them. That’s great and all, Punk, except where it’s so incredibly condescending. You come back, you have a 5 star match with the American Dragon, and then you cap-off your glorious return with a victory and you stand tall. Spare me.” Bryan leans over on the contract table. “I’m not here to just have Match of the Year contenders. If I wanted to do that, I’d have plenty guys in the back who I could rely on to steal the show with, no matter the place on the card. I did not get this championship just by being the MOTY guy. I got it because I am the true best in the world. You can wear that t-shirt all you want, Punk, it doesn’t make it true!”
Punk raises his mic, but Bryan is scowling and holds him off, “No, don’t interrupt me! Not this time, Punk! You are not going to make things all about yourself and act like the revolutionary saying things no-one else dares to say! Punk, I was calling this company out on their toxic backstage politics way before you did, about how they weren’t listening to their fans, about their baffling financial decisions, even about how woefully so bad certain commentators are!” Bryan turns to Michael Cole briefly while he’s sat commentating, “Seriously, why are you still employed? When is JR coming back? Point is, Punk, I was saying all those things about this company from almost the moment I set in foot in NXT, a full year before you said what you did in Sin City, Nevada! And you were right there as one of the ‘Pros’ sitting at the top of the ramp when I said those things! But despite the fact that you obviously apparently agreed with everything I was saying, you didn’t have the guts, as someone who is all too keen to sing my praises about great I’ve been in Ring of Honor, to stand up and publicly stand with me in that NXT ring while I castigated this company! No, instead you waited a year, said exactly the same things I did while name-dropping a few guys like Hulk Hogan and Rock, and now you act like this revolutionary ‘Voice of the Voiceless’? Really?”
Triple H raises his eyebrows at this and turns to Punk seemingly to press him on this, but Bryan interrupts again, “No, Hunter! For once in your life let the people who fans actually care about talk!” The fans cheer this, even in spite of Bryan’s earlier harsh words to Punk. “And hey, since we just mentioned of Ring of Honor, why don’t we tell a little story about something that happened near the end of your time there? People may not know this, but Punk was the ROH World Champion, and with his contract about to end, he threatened, just like he would six years later, to walk out of the company with its World Title. Thankfully, he lost the title back then and he wasn’t able to further abuse it. And Punk, I understand fully the crap you were getting put through. But what you went and did with the WWE Title after leaving here is exactly the kind of thing people feared you’d do if you had left Ring of Honor with their championship. You paraded it around and mocked it. You used it as a mere prop. You even went and ran the risk of losing it when you defended it in other promotions like EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA. You didn’t need to take the WWE Title when you left, Punk. It would have been enough to vacate it and retire undefeated. But instead you abused it. This is the championship of guys like Buddy Rogers and Andre the Giant and Ric Flair and Bret Hart! And you abused their legacies. So when you say you are the head of the ‘Cult of Personality’? It makes you sound like a phony!”
Triple H pauses to wait if Bryan’s finished, who dismissively waves his hand as if to give the go ahead, “Now, not to throw gas on the fire, but he does have some good points. I mean, let’s face it, for all your holier-than-thou stuff, at the end of the day you are the guy who held out for more money and a couple of perks right? And you are the guy who took probably the most prestigious World Title in wrestling and held it hostage. And we know you didn’t ever go back to Ring of Honor with our belt, because regardless of whatever fond memories they have of your time there, they wouldn’t have been too pleased to see you holding another company’s title. And when you came back, you only let us know by telephone, you didn’t have the guts to stand face-to-face and-“
“Oh, don’t start the ‘gutless’ thing again!” Punk angrily retorts. “Again, I’m not the one who fires people around here. I’m not the one responsible for making really talented people leave, people like John Morrison, and Gail Kim, and Harry Smith, who were all terribly treated by the suits in this company. And this isn’t about you. Daniel, this is about you and me, and the WWE Championship, at Wrestlemania. And believe me, my desire to defeat you goes beyond just winning this belt back and having a Match of the Year contender with you. Because you’re right, you did say a lot of that stuff about the company before I did, and yes, I am guilty of what you mentioned with Ring of Honor and trying to permanently leave the company with their belt in my hands. But the difference is, I knew in my heart I would come back to the WWE someday. Because even in spite of all the crap I’ve been through, I’m still a big fan of watching the product, and I knew that sometime soon, the spark of excitement would come back and I’d be ready to prove once again everything about just how good I am!”
“And Bryan? You want to act whiter than white? Sorry, but even with you getting fired and then coming back about a month later for Summerslam back in 2010, people haven’t forgotten that you were in the original Nexus, and that you and all seven of your buddies at the time ganged up on me and Cena and beat us down. I haven’t forgotten, even with you ending up being on Team WWE on Summerslam and acting like you never did what you did. I haven’t forgotten one of your buddies on the Nexus trying to gouge his fingers into my recently surgically repaired eyeball. To take me down, you had to rely on a big group of people to support you, when I would have expected that if you had a problem with me you could have just come down to that ring and square off against me one-on-one. But you couldn’t do it.”
“Yeah, I held up this company for some perks. I’m glad there are actually plans for ice cream bars with my face on them. I held this company up and took their championship hostage because I’m the kind who needs to fight for what he wants, and what I wanted was change. And the only way to get that done was with what I did, and hey, considering the opportunities you were allowed to have after I left, I’d say you benefited! Not many people could get away with invoking the Code of Honor rules for their defences of briefcases and titles. There’s guys like Zack Ryder, who has worked his ass off and succeeded despite him looking nothing like the traditional image the guys in suits backstage have of ‘sports entertainers’. Hell, while I may not like most of the stuff they do, Charisma helped jolt life into a World Title scene that badly needed it after I left. But you tasted enormous success after I left, because of opinions backstage actually evolving and recognising what fans want, and just two years after you debuted in NXT, you’re getting to main-event Wrestlemania! Congratulations! Here’s the thing, Daniel. You may have earned a whole load of kudos and adoration from fans and wrestlers here, and you still deservedly have it after Wrestlemania. But do you know what you won’t have? The WWE Championship, because at Wrestlemania, the WWE Champion, will be me!”
With that, Punk signs his contract, and then drops his microphone. Daniel picks up a pen, pauses, and then raises his mic.
“That’s a great speech there, Phil, I can call you Phil right?” Punk rolls his eyes, and Bryan continues, “And you know, I’ll return the congratulations. In January, you entered at the late end of the Rumble, and you won the match, and you got this championship opportunity, and you have every right to being the No. 1 contender at Wrestlemania. Have you considered just how much pressure is on you now? Just what will happen if you lose? All of the momentum you’ve built up in the past few months from beating Hunter and Nash and Cena and winning the Rumble? It will be all for nothing. It will be gone. Because this persona you have built up relies more on style than substance. You are in it for the fame, in it for the glory, and not, no matter what you say, in it for a true love of wrestling! I am fuelled by the fact that I am the WWE Champion, and I want to always be WWE Champion, for one reason, and one reason only: not for the fame, not for the glory, but because it proves that when I step into this ring, there is nobody better than Daniel Bryan!”
With that, Bryan signs the contract, making the match official, and Triple H gathers up the papers and leaves the ring, leaving just the Wrestlemania main eventers in the ring. Bryan then continues.
“You know, Punk, I’m sure you’re familiar with this, but there’s a custom in Japan, that they did before big matches. And it’s to fire someone up, it’s to light that spark, from one wrestler to another, so that they would bring everything that they had to that fight: They’d take their hand, and as hard as they’d possibly can, they’d slap him in the face!”
Punk smiles and nods, and then slowly gets up off his chair and moves around the desk, and Bryan reciprocates, before continuing: “You know, I wish so bad that I could do that to you right now, but I can’t. Because you, CM Punk, are a ‘sports entertainer’, not a ‘wrestler’, and you, don’t, deserve it!”
This definitely riles Punk up, who flips the table to its side and then offers up his cheek to Bryan, who only shakes his head. In the face of Bryan’s refusal, he responds by slapping Bryan across the face, causing Bryan to grin even harder. Punk loudly urges Bryan to hit him, only to be met with mocking questions of “Do you want it?” from Bryan followed by him flat out telling Punk that he isn’t worthy of it. At Wrestlemania, there can only be one Iron Man…
Wrestlemania 28 (Miami, Florida)
NOTE: Because the build to the following match is similar enough to how it played out in reality, and because the match as it played out in reality was also excellent, the following match description for the events of The Undertaker vs. Triple H inside Hell in a Cell (with Shawn Michaels as the Special Guest Referee), is credited to PWMania: www.pwmania.com/wwe-wrestlemania-28-results-live-coverage-april-1-2012
We go to the ring and out first comes the special referee Shawn Michaels to a big pop. Triple H is out next and we get another technical glitch during his entrance. The Undertaker’s entrance begins next. We see the Cell light up in the sky and out comes The Undertaker on the stage. Taker stops for a minute before heading on to the ring as Triple H and Shawn Michaels look on. Flames rise as he makes his way down. The entire stage lights up with fire as Taker makes the long walk to the Cell.
Taker enters the ring and takes his hood down to reveal the short hair. He stares Triple H down and the crowd chants his name. They come face to face in the middle of the ring. Taker looks up and the Cell is lowered down as Metallica plays over the speakers.
Shawn rings the bell and they go at it trading right hands. Taker knocks Triple H back first and unloads in the corner. Taker drops HHH with a big right hand. HHH comes right back and takes Taker to the corner. Taker turns it around and beats HHH back down. Taker tosses HHH out of the ring and follows with more offense.
HHH turns it around and throws Taker into the Cell. Taker takes back control and back drops HHH onto the floor. Taker hits a series of headbutts on HHH. Taker continues the assault on HHH outside of the ring and chokes him now. Shawn tries to get involved and Taker brushes him off. This doesn’t sit well with Shawn. Taker takes HHH back to the Cell wall and slams him back into the steel steps. Taker whips HHH much harder into the steps this time. Taker brings it back in the ring. HHH barely connects with a right hand but connects with a facebuster. Triple H turns around to a big clothesline and goes down.
Taker works HHH over some more and hits Old School from the ropes. They go back to the floor and Taker takes the steps apart. He grabs the bottom piece and decks HHH in the face with it. Taker grabs the top part of the steps and slides it in the ring with HHH. Taker pulls HHH to the apron and drops the big leg drop. HHH comes back with a DDT out of nowhere. HHH goes for a Pedigree on top of the steps but Taker backdrops him to the mat.
Taker pounds HHH with rights now and slams him into the steps again. Taker charges but HHH grabs him and hits a spinebuster on top of the steel steps for a thick thud. Taker grabs HHH and applies Hell’s Gate out of nowhere. Shawn checks on HHH. HHH overpowers and lifts Taker up for a powerbomb. HHH covers for a 2 count. HHH goes under the ring and brings two chairs in. He hits Taker in the gut and over the back with a chair shot. HHH grabs the steel steps and props it up in the corner. HHH slams Taker head first into the steps and he goes down. HHH with another chair shot to the back, and another. HHH unloads with a series of big chair shots until Shawn pulls him back. HHH with another chair shot. HHH continues hitting Taker with the edge of the chair and another shot to the back. Michaels comes over again.
HHH throws the chair away and tells Shawn to do it then. Shawn tells HHH to just cover him. Shawn checks on Taker now. HHH pulls Shawn away and he falls to the mat. HHH with more chairshots to Taker. HHH tells Shawn to end it or he will. Shawn checks on Taker but he won’t quit. Taker tells Shawn do not stop the match.
Triple H yells for Taker to stay down but he gets up. HHH drops him with the chair again and covers for a 2 count. HHH with more chair shots. Shawn backs him into the corner. HHH tells Shawn to end it or he will. HHH brings a sledgehammer in the ring now and argues with Shawn. Taker slowly gets up. Shawn wants t ring the bell but Taker tells him no. HHH drops Taker with the sledgehammer but Taker kicks out at 2. HHH hits Taker while he’s down now. HHH goes to crack Taker’s skull with the sledgehammer but Shawn grabs it and stops him. Shawn tosses the sledgehammer out of the ring. HHH tells Shawn to end it, ring the bell. Shawn checks on Taker again.
Shawn looks like he’s going to call it when Taker locks in Hell’s Gate on Shawn. HHH breaks it up with the sledgehammer on Taker. Taker blocks another sledgehammer shot and locks on Hell’s Gate on HHH this time. Shawn is still out of it and doesn’t see the submission but HHH hasn’t tapped. HHH tries to power out but can’t. He grabs the sledgehammer but looks to pass out in the hold. Taker tightens the hold and HHH starts to go out. Shawn is still down and doesn’t see anything. Taker breaks the hold but HHH is out. Referee Charles Robinson runs down to boos but can’t get in the locked Cell right away. He gets in and enters the ring as Taker chokeslams HHH. Taker covers for a 2 count.
Taker chokeslams Charles Robinson now and the crowd chants this is awesome. Shawn gets up and drops Taker with Sweet Chin Music. HHH hits a Pedigree but somehow Taker kicks out. The crowd goes nuts and Shawn is shocked.
Triple H throws Shawn out of the ring. He turns around with sledgehammer in hand and Taker gets up. Taker drops HHH with a series of right hands. Taker beats HHH into the corner and clotheslines him in the opposite corner. Taker hits Snake Eyes and he’s on a roll. Taker with a big boot now. Taker next hits the big leg drop. Taker scoops HHH and hits the Tombstone piledriver. Taker crosses the arms and Shawn counts but HHH kicks out at 2.
HBK is shocked again and sits back in the corner. HHH with headbutts on the mat now. They get to their knees and trade right hands. The crowd is way into the match now. They fight to their feet and are still trading shots. HHH blocks a shot and unloads on Taker. Taker goes for Tombstone but it’s countered. HHH nails a Pedigree but Taker kicks out at 2. Shawn looks on as both men try to recover. Taker sits up but has trouble getting to his feet. HHH grabs the sledgehammer as he tries to get up. Taker grabs the chair. Taker gets up first and stands on the sledgehammer. Taker nails HHH in the head with the chair edge and cracks him in the back. Taker continues and hits another body shot and shot to the back. Taker continues with chair shots and trades a stare with Shawn.
HHH gets up but Taker knocks him back down with chair shots. Shawn throws the chair away as Taker covers for a 2 count. HHH is in bad shape as he tries to get up with the sledgehammer. Taker tells him to stay down. Taker blocks a shot and shakes his head no. HHH shoves Taker as Taker takes the sledgehammer from him. HHH throws a crotch chop and Taker lays him out again. HHH pulls himself up on Taker’s tights. Taker cuts his own throat and nails the Tombstone. Taker crosses the arms and covers for the win.
After the match, Triple H is laid out as The Undertaker recovers. Taker has bad welts on his back. Shawn Michaels extends his hand and helps Taker up. Shawn embraces Taker before checking on Triple H. Pyro goes off as Taker’s music hits and Shawn kneels over HHH. The music stops. Taker and Shawn help Triple H up and carry him out of the ring as the crowd applauds and we go to replays.
After replays, all three Superstars stop on the stage and hug as the crowd pops. A 20-0 flashes as they head backstage.
A montage of Christian’s career in the WWE – from the Brood, to TLC matches with Edge and the Hardys, to being ECW Champion, to being World Heavyweight Champion – is played for the Career vs. Intercontinental and United States Titles Match. When Christian makes his entrance, he is accompanied, not by any members of Charisma, but by none other than his very best friend and newly inducted Hall of Famer Adam “Edge” Copeland. Zack Ryder meanwhile has lots of child fans dressed up with him to line the ramp as he enters the ring. Edge goes onto commentary, but insists that “I’m here just to watch what happens. He’s my best friend. I just want to be here for him for whatever ending this has.” The tension is amped up however when the music of Randy Orton hits, as he joins the commentary team. When quizzed, Orton says that he wants peace of mind and to see justice done, and trash talks Christian and Edge while confidently predicting that Ryder will get the job done.
The match starts out with a lock up that culminates in Ryder being able to put Christian in a chin lock, before Christian elbows his way out of it and then is able to hit a clothesline. When Christian picks Ryder up, Ryder is able to reverse Christian’s intended offence and gets him in an arm lock. Christian escapes again, this time via getting to the ropes, and then with another elbow and a kick to the face, he then hits a powerslam for a 2 count. An early attempt at a Killswitch sees Ryder roll Christian up for a 2 count, making Christian roll out of the ring to gather his thoughts. Edge encourages Christian to get back into the ring, telling him “You can do this!”
When the two lock up again, Christian flat out headbutts Ryder, stunning him. From there, Christian then hits an elbow drop from the ring apron on him, only to score a 2. He then proceeds to drag Ryder to the corner of the ring, stomping on him repeatedly up until the referee’s 4 count. He then proceeds to attempt to choke Ryder on the ropes, and again is stopped and admonished by the referee. Ryder is dragged out of the ring, but Christian’s next offensive manoeuvre is countered when Ryder throws Christian into the steel stairs. Ryder very briefly stares down Edge (who has stood up in concern), and smiles and mouths the words, “I’m not like John, hope you’re feeling good bro.” to him. Ryder then rams Christian’s head on the table, before hitting a powerslam of his own onto the outside floor. When Ryder throws Christian into the ring, he then prepares for the Broski Boot. But Christian counters by using Ryder’s momentum against him to send his face crashing into the middle corner turnbuckle. From there, Christian goes to the outside, and rams Ryder’s left leg into the steel of the ring post, before then performing a leg submission using the ring post before stopping on the referee’s orders.
This is a turning point in the match, as Christian proceeds to use a lot of offence based on further crippling Ryder’s left leg, utilising stomps, punches, kicks, leg drops, elbows and a figure four to attempt to take Ryder down. Despite the pain, Ryder refuses to give up, and Christian very almost sees his career end when Ryder is able to score another roll-up after avoiding an ankle lock attempt. Christian is aghast and seems to wonder how he can put Ryder away. An attempt at a KillSwitch is countered with a facebuster for 2. Ryder throws Christian out of the ring and then hits a Plancha, though it’s clear that this has caused further strain on his already injured leg. A Rough Ryder is countered when Christian is able to sling shot Ryder into the corner, accidentally hitting the referee and knocking him out.
Orton stands up at this point, and makes to enter the ring. Edge stands up as well, however, and urges Orton to let the match end fairly. Orton derisively laughs and allege that Edge is just out here to help his buddy, before shoving him backwards. Christian notices this and exits the ring to get Orton to stop, before Orton proceeds to slap Christian across the face. Before Christian can respond, both he and Orton are taken out by a diving cross-body from Ryder. Christian is thrown back into the ring and Ryder makes the cover, but there is no conscious referee. Christian is able to hit a KillSwitch, but before he can do anything further, he is hit with an RKO by Orton. He then proceeds to pick Ryder up and attempt to do exactly the same to him, but Edge hits the ring and takes Orton out with a chair to the back. Ryder then clotheslines Orton over the top rope. Orton retreats to the back screaming his outrage while Edge shouts instructions for another referee to come out. After the two wrestlers in the match get back to their feet, Ryder is able to hit a Rough Ryder, and a referee comes down to make the count, only to very narrowly miss out on a 3 count. The two then trade elbows and punches with one another, before Christian is able to hit a DDT, which Ryder kicks out of. Another KillSwitch is countered when Ryder puts Christian in a choke hold.
But suddenly, the other three members of Charisma come out from the audience and Barrett knocks the referee out, before the three knock Ryder down and Rhodes hits Ryder in his injured leg with a chair, before the three finish off with a triple powerbomb. But soon, Rey Mysterio and Dolph Ziggler both come out to even the odds and help Edge with beating Charisma down and throwing them out of the ring. Rey Mysterio then puts Ryder on top of Christian before he and Ziggler leave. With no referee, Edge goes under the ring and grabs a referee shirt and puts it on. He counts Christian’s shoulders down to the mat 1…2…thre- no! Christian is just able to get his hand up. An exhausted Ryder goes for an Elbro Drop, but Christian dodges, sending Ryder crashing to the mat. Christian then puts Ryder in the Sharpshooter, and with the strain already too much on his injured leg, despite desperately struggling in the hold for a good 45 seconds, Ryder taps out and Edge signals for the bell.
Christian bursts into tears as he is awarded the Intercontinental and United States belts, his career intact. He is then hugged by Edge, before the two notice Ryder looking dejected at his loss. Edge and Christian pull Ryder up, and after a very tense staredown, Christian then extends his hand and is seen to mouth the words: “You did really great kid, I’m sorry.” Ryder ignores the hand and instead pulls Christian in for a hug as both Edge and the crowd applaud. The three then link hands and raise them high as the crowd roars their approval. They then all do the “for the benefit of flash photography” pose as the show goes to a promotional break.
Backstage after the match, as Ryder is seen in his dressing room, he is approached by his opponent. Ryder sighs.
“Listen, bro, that was an awesome match we just had, and well done for getting those titles. But just so you know, despite what just happened at the end out there? We ain’t friends, and you should know I’ll be coming for what you have on your shoulders after this show is done.”
Christian sags his shoulders. “I know, I know. I’m not here to gloat, or to persuade you to be friends with me. I’m here, because you need to be out for the next match, to even the odds.”
Ryder smiles, “That’s a hell of a bizarre strategy, man. It’s your side that has the 3-on-2 advantage, and you want to cancel it out? Besides, after that hell of a match we just had, I don’t think I’m in the shape to fight all your boys, and after what Randy did-“
“That,” Christian interjects, “is exactly my point. You saw for yourself what Randy is like. I’ll admit, my group of guys? We’ve done some really bad, deplorable things that we’re ashamed of to get what we wanted. But one principle we do really hold to? It’s that someone needs to realise just how dangerous Randy is. Even if he succeeds in breaking our group apart tonight, do you honestly think it will be enough for him? He’s psychotic, and I’m genuinely scared about who he could hurt. So no, I’m not asking you to be on their team. Just… be around to watch over the guy who is most in danger from the crossfire.”
With that, Christian leaves, leaving Ryder to sit and ponder his words.
Sure enough, the handicap match comes up, and while Christian does not appear with his team (seemingly not feeling they need his help), Ryder does come out to the announce table before the match begins, albeit not putting on a head-set and just intently watching the match. Orton shoots Ryder a death glare before the match begins, as he starts out against Alberto Del Rio.
Right away a pattern emerges as the Charisma team use every trick in the book in an attempt to rile Orton up. Whether it’s the team members sarcastically applauding Orton’s every move, tagging out for other partners after giving or taking minimal offence in the match, or retreating to the outside and smirking at him, the tactics work as Randy gets more angry during the match. This allows the Charisma members to exploit his mistakes, and Orton falls victim to numerous double team suplexes, top rope manoeuvres, and DDTs, and is only saved from receiving a Wasteland from Barrett when Rey Mysterio attempts to enter into the ring, causing sufficient enough distraction for Orton to hit Barrett with a low blow and attempt a cover, only to get a 2 count. With Mysterio admonishing him and insisting to be let in to the match, Orton tags out, but doesn’t at all look happy about it.
Mysterio is able to briefly gain control of the match, hitting a springboard dropkick on Barrett as well as being able to play Alberto Del Rio at his own game and put him in a Kimura Lock. Del Rio escapes and tags in Rhodes, and while Rhodes is able to hit a belly-to-belly suplex and puts Rey in an ankle lock, but Orton is able to push past the referee and clothesline Rhodes before knocking the other members of Charisma off the ring apron. But when Rey tries to hit Rhodes with a 619, Rhodes dodges and then hits a sharp kick to Rey’s face while he’s on the edge of the ring, sending him to the floor, where the other Charisma members start beating on him while Orton tries to fight Rhodes.
Orton dodges an attempted Cross Rhodes and is able to throw Cody to the outside where he lands on his fellow stable mates. Orton pulls Rey up and gets him back in the ring and throws him over Rhodes, but only gets a 2 count. Del Rio and Barrett attack Orton from behind, and throw him out of the ring while Rhodes proceeds to hit a Cross Rhodes on Rey. Rather than make the cover, however, Rhodes instead elects to be cocky and lines Rey up for a 619 of his own. But he is met at the ring apron with Randy Orton’s fist in his face, and Rey is able to crawl to his corner to give the hot tag to Orton, who proceeds to clothesline all three members of Charisma. He then is able to hit RKOs on Del Rio and Barrett, and is about to do the same to Cody Rhodes when Christian appears at the top of the ramp. A livid Orton screams at Christian, abandons Rhodes and then makes a beeline for his most hated nemesis, only to be forcibly restrained by Ryder and Rey who tell him to go and win the match. But Orton is beyond reason, and this allows Cody Rhodes the distraction necessary to hit a diving crossbody to the outside that takes out all 3 men. Orton is thrown back in the ring by Christian, and Cody Rhodes proceeds to hit a Cross-Rhodes on Orton for a successful 3 count. Not only has Christian saved his career, but he has also contributed to keeping Charisma united. The villainous group quickly high-tale it away from the ring, celebrating the continued danger they will pose to the WWE.
Rey and Ryder try and get Orton to his feet, but Orton responds with some very angry sounding words, and then to the shock of the audience in the arena, hits Rey with an RKO. After tossing Ryder out of the ring, he then proceeds to take Rey out with a punt kick. Dolph Ziggler runs down to the ring and lays into Orton with punches, and Ryder joins him and hits Orton with a Zack Attack. Ryder and Ziggler then stand in the ring with sombre expressions on their faces as medics tend to the unconscious Rey, as both they and the audience struggle with the uncomfortable notion of Charisma being right about Randy Orton all along…
The semi-main-event is next, and John Cena is introduced to the ring with music from Machine Gun Kelly, and booed for doing so. All is right with the world. The Rock is introduced by Flo Rida, who isn’t quite as terrible a rapper, but still very much awful. The audience are subject to this for 10 minutes. Those poor souls.
Unsurprisingly, the arena audience is pretty much entirely behind the Rock for this occasion. A stare-off occurs, with both men basking in the crowd reaction. The two start things off with a couple of tie-ups, with numerous displays of power as the two take turns in being able to shove the other guy onto the mat. Rock is able to use arm bars and drags, as well as being able to catch Cena in a cradle for a 2 count, forcing Cena to retreat to the outside floor, albeit still with a smug grin on his face. But any pretence of this match remaining “clean” goes right out of the window when, after luring the Rock in close, Cena suddenly hits the Rock full in the face with a fist with brass knucks on them, drawing an instant disqualification decision in favour of the Rock. An angry Triple H comes out at the top of the ramp.
“Yeah, I know what’s best for business, and having a headlining match we’ve promoted for a whole year to happen on the biggest stage of them all, end in 5 minutes because of a DQ, is definitely not best for business. Restart the match! You want to play that game, John? Fine! This match will now be fought under No Disqualifications!”
Cena looks positively delighted with this news, and punctuates it by throwing the Rock into the steel steps. He then digs out a Kendo stick from underneath to the ring, and moves to strike. However, Rock retaliates with a kick to the mid-section, following up with a DDT to the floor. Rock then picks up the Kendo stick and repeatedly levels Cena with it until it breaks. The Rock then goes to the ring timekeeper’s table, and grabs the bell and hammer. In an echo of a certain match 13 years ago, the Rock twice rings the bell on Cena’s head, using a nearby microphone to sing “Bells will be ringing!” in between his strikes. Afterwards, the Rock then proceeds to ram Cena into the steel steps, before throwing him back into the ring and scoring a 2 count.
The Rock picks Cena up and then moves to throw Cena over the top rope, only for Cena to reverse and do the same to him. Cena then throws the Rock back into the ring, before then proceeding to throw him out again, causing concern from the commentators that with the Rock having not wrestled in 8 years, this kind of attack could be even more unkind to his legs than it would be to a full-time wrestler. Cena then rains more punches on the Rock’s head, before proceeding to go under the ring and produce a baseball bat, which he attacks the Rock’s back with. He then picks the Rock up and moves to give the Rock a powerbomb on the steel ramp, only for the Rock to reverse and backdrop Cena onto the ramp. The Rock then proceeds to march Cena up the ramp, and then proceeds to ram Cena straight into the LED board, causing it to glitch. Rock then brings Cena back into the ring, but only succeeds in scoring an even closer 2 count.
The Rock then moves to hit the Rock Bottom, but Cena reverses this into the STF. After 1 and a half minutes, Rock is able to reach the ropes, but Cena drags Rock back into the centre of the ring and applies a figure four leglock. After another 1 and a half minutes, Rock escapes this too, and then proceeds to put Cena in the Sharpshooter. Cena is eventually able to escape, and when the Rock Irish whips Cena into the ropes with the intent of hitting a spinebuster, Cena instead is able to hit an Attitude Adjustment. The Rock kicks out at 2.5. Frustrated, Cena goes under the ring and brings out a barbed wire baseball bat. Cena then gives Rock another Attitude Adjustment, this time onto the bat, only to very narrowly miss out on a winning pinfall again.
As Cena screams at the referee and backs him into the corner, Rock is able to capitalise and roll Cena up, sadly only scoring a 2 count. Further outraged, Cena picks up the barbed wire baseball bat and attempts to hit Rock with it, only for Rock to dodge and then spear Cena’s legs out from underneath him. Rock then goes to town with the barbed wire baseball bat on Cena, before setting it down and nailing the Rock Bottom on Cena onto the bat, but only succeeding at getting all too close to a winning count. The Rock then throws Cena out of the ring and deconstructs the Spanish announce table, but an attempted Rock Bottom onto the table is reversed by Cena, who then hits his own version of a Rock Bottom through the table to Rock. After Cena have recovered from the impact, he rolls the Rock back into the ring, but again he can’t score a winning fall.
The two exhausted competitors trade slaps and elbow strikes with one another, before Cena is able to put Rock down. Cena then slips on some brass knucks again, and attempts to use the same move that got him disqualified the first time round. But Rock reverses this into a spinebuster, and then moves to hit the People’s Elbow. But before he is due to drop the elbow, the Rock stops, considers it for a moment, and then goes under the ring to get a steel chair. He then places the steel chair on top of Cena, and then proceeds to hit the People’s Elbow on the chair, before finally scoring a winning pinfall.
The crowd are absolutely jubilant as the Rock stands tall. The Rock stares down at Cena and then kneels down by Cena’s unconscious form, and the audible picks up him saying, “Now, we’re even.” The Rock basks in the adoration of his home crowd as the screen fades to promotion of the upcoming Extreme Rules.
The Hall of Fame 2012 inductees are brought out before the main event. Mil Mascaras, Ron Simmons, Yokozuna, the Four Horsemen, Mike Tyson, and Edge soak in the applause of the crowd. All things considered, one of the better Hall of Fame years in the WWE’s history.
A video montage of CM Punk’s and Daniel Bryan’s time in Ring of Honor, and their rise to the WWE, plays before the big main event. CM Punk is played to the ring by Living Colour singing his entrance theme of “Cult of Personality”. Daniel Bryan is awesome enough that “Flight of the Valkyries” is all he needs for his entrance.
In-ring introductions are made, and as per Code of Honor rules, the two are asked to shake hands before the match. They do, but only after a very tense stare-down. The two go to their corners, and the match soon begins.
What happens next is a shock to everyone in the arena. After circling one another, Bryan makes an immediate attempt at the Kobayashi Knee, only for Punk to reverse it into a Go To Sleep, and just like that, after 18 seconds, Punk scores a pinfall to put him 1-0 up. The commentators have mixed reactions.
Jerry Lawler is jubilant: “Wow, that must be the fastest time in a World Title match in the WWE that we’ve seen a winning pinfall!”
Michael Cole is less so: “Yeah, sorry Jerry, but three things: One, Kane beat Chavo Guerrero for the ECW Title in 11 seconds at Wrestlemania 24. Two, there’s still 29 minutes left, so the match isn’t close to over, and besides which fans generally prefer to see longer matches. And third, Jerry, please shut up.”
With the match psychology radically altered, Bryan is much more cautious, while Punk has an added spring in his step. The two lock up and Bryan attempts to wear Punk down with arm and chin locks, only for Punk to Irish whip Bryan into the ropes and get him with a shoulder block. Punk picks Bryan and attempts a vertical suplex, but Bryan is able to land on his feet and kicks Punk in his back, following it up with elbows to his spine. A LaBell Lock is attempted but Punk escapes before it can be locked in and almost scores his second-fall by catching Bryan in a small package. A rattled Bryan retreats to the outside of the ring, getting his head together and using the referee’s count to his advantage. When he gets back into the ring, Punk makes a move towards him and Bryan escapes to the outside again. Punk elects to follow him and chases him around the ring, only for Bryan to get back into the ring and then hit Punk with a wicked head kick when he gets back into the ring. This only scores Bryan a 2 count however.
Another LaBell Lock is attempted, but Punk manages to escape again, and tries an ankle lock on Bryan. But Bryan is too determined, and escapes by rolling on his back and using his legs to catapult Punk into the ropes, and Bryan uses that momentum to judo throw CM Punk to the mat. Bryan then locks Punk in the LaBell Lock, and with Punk unable to escape and needing to save his energy in the match, he taps out, levelling the score at 1-1 after 8 minutes.
The commentators remind the viewers that with the Code of Honor rules, the Iron Man match is set at 30 minutes, with no plans for overtime. In other words, if the score is tied, then Bryan would retain his championship. It’s quite clear however that Bryan’s nerves have not settled, since he is still one fall away from being on the back foot again.
Punk is able to get back to his feet, albeit groggily. But this is an advantage Bryan looks to seize on as he attempts another choke hold, only for Punk to retreat and escape to the outside of the ring by the ramp. But this does not help Punk, as Bryan proceeds to nail Punk with a running headbutt to the outside. Bryan then gets Punk back into the ring, and then sets Punk up for a Kobayashi Knee, but Punk dodges, sending Bryan crashing into the corner, and Punk then proceeds to climb up to the top rope to attempt a knee drop. But Bryan knocks the rope, causing to Punk to fall and be hit in between the legs, and Bryan then goes to the outside ring apron and is about to hit a neckbreaker on Punk onto the steel part of the top turnbuckle, only for Punk to reverse and do exactly that to Daniel Bryan, making Bryan crash onto the floor outside. The commentators bring up how especially bad this is for Bryan, considering his history of neck-related issues in his career. In any case, Punk gets back into the ring, and Bryan is not able to get to his feet and back into the ring to beat the 10 count, allowing Punk another fall by count-out and making the score 2-1 in Punk’s favour at 12 minutes.
Bryan is able to get back into the ring before he can lose another fall, but Punk proceeds to direct punches specifically at Bryan’s injured neck, and the commentators worry about how badly this could affect the future of Bryan’s career. Punk then applies a choke hold of his own, but Bryan refuses to tap, and it looks like he may pass out. But after a minute and a half in the choke hold, Bryan is able to power out, and he delivers a kick to Punk’s mid-section before hitting him with a DDT that only gets a 2 count. Bryan then lays into Punk with kicks to the torso while he’s kneeling on the floor, but Punk dodges a big kick to the head and then gets behind Bryan with another attempt at a choke-hold. Bryan is able to escape and then counter with an enziguri, but again this only results in a 2 count. Bryan lines up the Kobayashi Knee again, and this time he hits it, allowing him to pin CM Punk and even the score at 2-2 after 17 minutes.
However, a big twist is afoot. To the shock of the commentators, the fired Kevin Nash invades the ring with a steel chair, and proceeds to level Punk with it in his back, causing a DQ loss for Bryan and putting the score back up to 3-2 in Punk’s favour at the 18 minute mark. Nash then levels Punk with the chair again, only to be attacked by Bryan with punches to the face, only for Nash to shove Bryan down and then Irish Whip Bryan into the ropes and hit him with a big boot. Nash then picks Punk up and elbows him in the face, before then attempting a Jack-knife powerbomb on him, only to fall victim to a Kobayashi Knee from Bryan, and Punk follows it up by levelling Nash with the Go To Sleep. Bryan and Punk then team up to throw Nash out of the ring, as police officers turn up to handcuff Nash and take him out of the arena.
After that interlude, Punk and Bryan go back to realising that there is still a match to fight, and an attempted clothesline from Bryan sees Punk reverse and knock Bryan to the floor so he can lock him in the Anaconda Vice. Bryan struggles in the hold for a while, but is able to get his foot on the ropes. However, Punk proceeds to drag Bryan right back into the centre of the ring and applies it again. After 30 seconds, Bryan is able to power Punk onto his back, albeit while still locked in the hold. As the referee counts Punk’s shoulders down for a 3 count, Bryan proceeds to tap as the referee hits 3. With the match at the 21 minute mark, the referee calls for an instant replay, and the referee judges that the successful pinfall on Punk and Bryan tapping out happened at exactly the same time, making the ruling of the score being 4-3 in Punk’s favour.
The pace of the match gets more frantic. Punk Irish Whips Bryan into the ropes and nails a dropkick. Punk then goes for the top rope Randy Savage style elbow and hits it, but only scores a 2 count. Another attempt at a Go To Sleep sees Bryan reverse it into a very hard kick to the head, sending Punk down, but Bryan can only score a 2 count there. Bryan then tosses Punk out of the ring, before getting back up to the ring and dragging Punk to the position where Punk’s feet are on the middle rope and Bryan is in the ring with Punk’s head tucked under his arm, and he hits a DDT on Punk, but again can only score a 2 count. But when Bryan attempts to be particularly ambitious and uses Punk’s own Go To Sleep manoeuvre on him, Punk counters by escaping and then using Bryan’s own LaBell Lock on him, putting even more strain on Bryan’s injured back and neck. At 25 minutes, Bryan, screaming in absolute pain, taps out, putting the score at 5-3 to Punk.
Despite his relatively more comfortable lead, Punk does not relax, knowing that Bryan could still retain the championship if he were to score two winning falls on him. With Bryan lying prone in the ring, Punk hits a diving seated senton on him, but only scores a 2 count. Punk hits a leg drop from the top rope, but again can only score a 2 count. With time running out. Punk also tries a Shining Wizard, but that still doesn’t put Bryan away. Punk looks to put Bryan away for good with a Go To Sleep, but Bryan counters and gets Punk in a guillotine choke hold. As before, Punk can’t escape, and as he starts to fade and drops to one knee, Punk taps out to avoid losing consciousness, and at 27 and a half minutes Bryan has pulled the score back to 5-4 in Punk’s favour.
The two exchange exhausted punches and kicks with one another, and the two dodge attempts at each others’ finishers. Punk is able to hit a belly-to-back suplex. Bryan is able to recover though and hits Punk with a vertical suplex. Bryan misses a kick to Punk’s head, and Punk attempts to lock in the Anaconda Vice with one minute and fifteen seconds left. Bryan avoids this however, and is able to take Punk down with an even harder kick to the head. But this only scores a 2 count. Bryan nails a backflip from the top rope, but this only scores a 2 count. As Bryan picks Punk up with just 15 seconds left, Punk attempts a Go To Sleep, but Bryan escapes and successfully hits a Kobayashi Knee. Bryan crawls over to Punk and the referee makes the count: One…Two… Thre-
But just as the referee’s hand is in the process of hitting the mat for the third time, the timekeeper’s bell rings, interrupting the referee’s count. It is announced by Lilian Garcia that the match is over, and with a score of 5-4, the new WWE Champion is CM Punk!
CM Punk is able to get to his feet, and cries as he is finally awarded the WWE Championship belt that evaded him ever since his return. Daniel Bryan, equally gutted, gets to his feet as he contemplates how close he came. The fans are jubilant and chant “This Was Awesome!” “Thank you Punk! Thank You Bryan” in appreciation of the main event. In the post-match activities, Punk and Bryan emotionally regard each other for a few seconds before doing the post-match handshake, which then turns into a very big hug as the crowd very loudly cheer.
The two men stand with their hands joined together and raised in the air, Punk holding his newly won WWE Championship in his other hand. Fireworks explode in the arena and streamers fall down into the ring, as the crowd celebrates the remarkable rise of the two darlings of the indie scene. The two men hug again, knowing that there is still plenty more to resolve between the two of them in the future.
And while plenty other threats may still exist to their dominance in the company – from Zack Ryder to Randy Orton to John Cena to the members of Charisma – at this very moment in time at this conclusion to Wrestlemania, they can confidently say that in the WWE, there is nobody better than Daniel Bryan and CM Punk…