Ric Flair returned, presented Superstar of the Year to John Cena and fought WWE Champion CM Punk
Seriously, who else could it have been? Who else could have awarded the supreme Slammy for a tumultuous 2012 than the limousine-ridin’, jet-flyin’, kiss-stealin’, wheelin’, dealin’ son of a gun himself, Ric Flair? Flair returned to WWE after a lengthy hiatus and looked like he never missed a beat. And like everything he’s ever done, “The Nature Boy’s” return to WWE did not come to pass without a maelstrom of controversy after the two-time WWE Hall of Famer was awarded the Slammy by its voted recipient, John Cena. But before Flair could take the trophy in his perfectly manicured hands, WWE Champion CM Punk hobbled out to the stage to drop a “pipe bomb” on Flair, unleashing a tirade against “Naitch” and insistinghe, not Flair or Cena, was the true Superstar of the Year.
So how does Ric Flair respond to such a thing? Why, he challenged Punk to a fight. The Second City Saint obliged, too, shattering one of his crutches over Flair’s back before The Dirtiest Player in the Game countered by poking Punk in the eye and wrenching Paul Heyman into the Figure-Four Leglock. With Punk and Heyman dispatched, Flair took to the mic to address the Philadelphia crowd … until the crackling static of The Shield’s theme spelled doom for Flair. “Come on down, boys,” he said, clearly ready for more.
WWE Champion CM Punk addressed his knee injury
386 days and counting, and WWE Champion CM Punk is still all about realness.
Specifically, the realness of his knee injury and subsequent surgery, which Punk and his pal Paul Heyman addressed onstage at the Prudential Center. “This injury is 100 percent real,” The Second City Saint insisted, bemused at the idea he would fake an injury to avoid giving Ryback another title opportunity. Punk wasn’t ready to concede anything of the sort to Ryback, instead insisting the injury was the result of the heavy workload that came along with defending the WWE Title for 386 days and, despite the setback, he would be at WWE TLC.
Paul Heyman echoed his champion’s statement, slamming the authenticity of other, lesser champions who would refuse to defend his title as often as Punk did. He also had particularly venomous words for The Rock, who he claimed lost his edge and would instead summon a stunt double (“some poor schmuck” as Heyman so loquaciously put it) to go through the table in his stead. The injury was a testament to Punk’s fortitude and his continued status as the WWE Champion and The Best in the World.
As for the “vocal minority” who insisted Punk should be stripped of the title, The Voice of the Voiceless cried foul on that, too. Rattling off a laundry list of his vanquished foes as evidence, Punk claimed he earned the right to keep his title and would continue to do so, should he end up facing The Rock at the Royal Rumble. “He will fail,” the champion vowed before taking his leave, Heyman in tow and his title safe, at least until day 387.
The Miz challenged WWE Champion CM Punk to take a lie detector test on “Miz TV”
And so we enter day 379 of CM Punk’s WWE Championship reign, and to emphasize his point of the week, The Second City Saint went to the books to highlight the WWE Universe’s egregious disrespect of his accomplishments. Specifically, Punk and Paul Heyman pried open the new WWE Encyclopedia and brought Punk’s latest accomplishment as champion to light: As of midnight, Punk will surpass John Cena as the longest-reigning WWE Champion of the past 25 years.
“Now you’re gonna have to agree with me when I say to you that CM Punk is not only your champion, not only The Best in the World, but there is no argument that CM Punk shouldn’t be front and center on WWE’s version of Mt. Rushmore,” Heyman sneered before Punk took the mic for himself.
Despite surpassing the WWE’s resident Superman on the championship chart, Punk claimed he was still unfairly persecuted and unjustly denied the proper reverence as WWE Champion, including an apparently measly entry in the encyclopedia itself. The latest injustice perpetrated upon him — being forced to defend his title against Ryback in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match — was just a testament to how high the deck has been stacked against him by the likes of the WWE Universe. They were the ones, Punk spewed, who turned their back on him at the drop of a hat and continue to vilify him at every turn, causing WWE management to place Punk in insurmountable situations that endangered his reigns.
“The truth,” Punk said, “is if it wasn’t for me, none of you would be here today … if it wasn’t for me, you people would have nothing to look forward to on these dismal, three-hour Monday Night Raws.”
But just as Punk was daring the assembled crowd to leave the arena if they couldn’t accept his truths, he found his tirade cut off by the most awesome of gatecrashers.
Mic in hand and resplendent in his suit, The Miz emerged from backstage and gave the Greensboro faithful an alternative: “Sit down and enjoy yourselves.” And then, he went on the attack.
“Everyone knows that Brad Maddox was in your back pocket at Hell in a Cell. Everyone knows The Shield bailed you out at Survivor Series. And last week, if The Shield didn’t bail you out again, Ryback would’ve fed himself some Punk.”
Having challenged Punk’s credibility but unwilling to scuff his top-dollar kicks, The Miz presented Punk with a unique challenge: to defend his reputation not in the ring, but on “Miz TV” courtesy of a lie detector test (co-signed by the county sheriff’s department) that would determine whether Punk truly had any association with The Shield or rogue referee Maddox. The Voice of the Voiceless balked at the idea at first, but as always, Miz wasn’t about to allow anyone get the last word in over him.
“That is exactly what I want,” Miz roared. “You with a live mic … me with a live mic. Bring your best pipe bomb! I am giving you exactly what you want: a chance to clear your name, to cement your legacy … or maybe you’d rather walk around with an asterisk next to every single one of your accomplishments, including your 379 day title reign.”
Needless to say, that did the trick. Sufficiently goaded, Punk agreed to take the test, with one final catch: after he passes and proves himself to be The Best in the World, Miz, along with the world, would have to admit it.
WWE Champion CM Punk took a lie detector test on “Miz TV”
If the truth will not set you free, perhaps The Shield will.
In any case, that seemed to be the prevailing lesson of CM Punk’s highly hyped lie detector test, conducted under the bright lights of “Miz TV” in a highly controversial Q-and-A that would see Punk’s mentor Paul Heyman placed into a match with Ryback should Punk prove a liar. The Second City Saint looked appropriately surly as The Awesome One strapped Punk to the polygraph and conducted a few “test” questions to establish a base for the test.
The interrogation began innocuously enough: “Is your name CM Punk?” (It is.) “Have you held the WWE Title for 379 days?” (He has.)
“Did Rey Mysterio shave your head bald at Over the Limit 2010?”
Things degenerated quickly from there (though, for the record: Yes, Mysterio shaved Punk bald at Over the Limit 2010), with Miz challenging his inner Lt. Daniel Kaffee and moving from the innocent to the provocative in a matter of minutes. Punk’s responses to the million-dollar question — is he involved with The Shield and/or Brad Maddox? — apparently weren’t up to snuff, as Miz’s administrator decreed The Voice of the Voiceless might be lying.
But before any kind of resolution could unfold, The Shield made their presence known yet again. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns mobbed the ring and dismantled the “Miz TV” set, attacking the host in the process and once again bailing Punk from his predicament. With The Miz at their mercy, The Shield looked to once again close Raw out standing tall over a fallen foe … but then who should come to the rescue but the Tag Team Champions Team Hell No. Kane & Daniel Bryan wasted no time in joining the fracas, but things looked to be going sour all the same … until Ryback’s music hit.
Wasting no time, the beast rushed in and attacked the triumvirate alongside the Tag Team Champions. The threesome managed to turn the tide against The Shield, driving Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns away and leaving Punk to gloat over the beaten and battered Miz.
As it turns out, though, Ryback wasn’t done.
While Punk stood over his smarmy tormentor, the human wrecking machine stormed back into the ring and had his way with the WWE Champion, leaving Punk Shell Shocked and producing a ladder and a chair from beneath the ring. Ryback battered Punk with both before bringing a table into play and pummeling Punk through it, closing a tumultuous Raw.
“Miz TV”: come for the jokes, stay for the unmitigated destruction.
I added some HQ screencaps from Punk’s appearance on The Talking Dead, you can check them out in the gallery.
Ryback def. Titus O’Neil and demanded a rematch with WWE Champion CM Punk
Titus O’Neil probably felt like less than millions of dollars after Raw rolled into Lafayette, La., when the mouthy big dog of The Prime Time Players met the same ignominious fate as his other half Darren Young did last Friday on SmackDown at the hands of Ryback. “The Big Deal” came out swinging in the Cajundome in the pursuit of retribution against the ravenous Superstar, but things went pear-shaped for Titus relatively quickly when Ryback tossed the big man outside the ropes, decking him with a clothesline while Titus called for a timeout.
The tag-team standout found enough strength to pound Ryback with Clash of the Titus sit-down powerbomb, but even O’Neil’s powerful signature move wasn’t enough to finish the job. Ryback kicked out after only a count of one, thwarting Titus’ second attempt at the maneuver before executing the Meathook Clothesline and following up with Shell Shocked to seal the victory.
But having dispatched both Prime Time Players in a four-day span was apparently not enough. For the second time in two weeks, Ryback seized a microphone and made his intentions known. “Whether it’s one CM Punk, three outsiders dressed in black or all four of them together, I’m gonna stand here all damn night until I get what I want. FEED. ME. MORE!”
What Ryback got instead was a hearty helping of Cajundome security, which swarmed the ring and stood toe-to-toe with the monster. One unlucky guard, though, found himself forcibly removed when he had the temerity to mean-mug the monster. Ryback’s opposition withered significantly after that, but while he was spoiling for a fight, Vickie Guerrero wasn’t about to have Raw degenerate into chaos.
The Managing Supervisor took to the stage and, just as last week, attempted to reason with Ryback. “I am a very understanding person,” Vickie said, “and I know that you feel angry and embarrassed … however as Managing Supervisor of Raw, I am telling you that you will not be allowed to put your hands on security.”
But this time, Ryback would not be placated. The monster offered Vickie a deal: a WWE Title TLC Match at TLC: Tables Ladders & Chairs against CM Punk … and severe consequences should Vickie deny him.
Back to the wall, Vickie had no choice but to acquiesce to Ryback’s demands, provided he leave the ring. His appetite temporarily satisfied and the match made, Ryback finally departed (though not before scaring security off for good measure) with eyes toward his biggest feast yet.
Michael Cole interviewed Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns, aka “The Shield”
These are the facts, WWE Universe, as dictated to Michael Cole in a sit-down interview: Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns are not working for CM Punk and Paul Heyman. They are not rogue Superstars looking to cause chaos. They are not The nWo reborn. What they are, apparently, is a shield. The Shield, in fact, a group of Superstars whose sole purpose is to protect justice in a WWE where principles have fallen by the wayside.
“We sat down in NXT and we saw things clearly. We saw things headed in the wrong direction,” Rollins said in the trio’s exclusive interview with Cole. “We stepped in and righted those wrongs.”
“It’s about right and wrong,” sneered Ambrose, who balked when Cole implied their actions were for the sole benefit of CM Punk. Punk, Ambrose rationalized, was forced to defend his WWE Title against two foes he’d already beaten, so “The Shield” stepped in. When Ryback attempted to ruin Punk’s 365-day celebration, they intervened as well.
“Three hundred and sixty-five days as champion in this era should mean something,” Ambrose said. “We’re not renegades, we’re not mercenaries. We’re not The Nexus … we’re about honor, we’re about principles. Where honor no longer exists, we will step in.”
Cole, for his part, continued with his attempts to pick through The Shield’s nebulous responses, but the threesome remained unbroken throughout each of Cole’s volleys. It was finally the intimidating Reigns, who had been silent the whole time, who brought the sit-down to its unceremonious halt. “We’ve said enough,” Reigns rumbled. “This interview is over.”
WWE Champion CM Punk def. WWE Tag Team Champion Kane; The Shield attacked again
The WWE Universe spoke, and so it was that CM Punk, on the 372nd night of his WWE Title reign, found himself in hell once again. Renewing their rivalry from earlier this year, The Second City Saint and The Devil’s Favorite Demon collided in a RAWactive Match when Punk took on WWE Tag Team Champion Kane in a hard-hitting bout that shook the Cajundome to its core.
And while there was no romantic entanglement to motivate either man this time around, Punk and Kane both came out swinging, with The Second City Saint unleashing body shots on The Big Red Machine in an attempt to slow the Tag Team Champion down before he could get the ball rolling. Kane, for his part, adopted an unusually patient game plan, absorbing Punk’s attacks and retaliating with quick bursts while the champion preened for the crowd. Kane hit The Voice of the Voiceless with a barrage of chops in the corner before bouncing Punk off the ropes and booting him from the ring.
Punk switched up his style quickly after that, targeting Kane’s legs and lulling the demon into a false sense of security by playing possum, milking an injured knee to force Kane’s guard down. The strategy paid dividends when Punk executed a dive that left Kane reeling, following the attack by stomping on the monster’s legs and softening him up for a pair of running knees into the corner.
The third knee, however, didn’t go so great for him. Kane surged forward as Punk went for the trifecta, decking the champion with a chop to the face and flattening Punk with a sidewalk slam. Kane then set him up for the flying clothesline that so often precedes the Chokeslam.
But Punk was ready for Kane’s signature move, ducking under the demon’s gloved hand and countering with a swinging neckbreaker. Kane got the last word in, however, when he caught Punk in the middle of his own flying clothesline and finally planted the champion with the Chokeslam. With Punk down, Kane decided to seal the match with a statement and called for the Tombstone, but it wasn’t long before a trio of interlopers made themselves known. The Shield slowly materialized from the crowd, and their presence was enough to distract Kane for Punk to execute the Go to Sleep on The Big Red Monster. The Second City Saint quickly put the Tag Champion down and left him to the mercy of The Shield, who swarmed the ring and rained blows upon the prone Kane. Daniel Bryan suffered a similar fate when he ran to his partner’s aid, and just when it seemed like Punk would get off scot-free, Ryback returned for a piece of the action.
For once, though, his attentions were focused elsewhere than Punk because Ryback made a beeline for The Shield, planting Rollins with a powerbomb and cutting Ambrose and Reigns down with a pair of Meathook Clotheslines before Punk struck from behind. Ryback’s attempt to powerbomb the champ into oblivion proved fruitless when Reigns felled Ryback with a spear. With the beast vulnerable, The Shield ended their onslaught as they had the past two instances: a triple powerbomb that left Ryback limp on the mat, with Punk standing tall yet again over his TLC opponent. Whether he’ll be doing so again in three weeks’ time at Barclays Center remains to be seen.