The SmarK RAW Rant – 02.04.13 Live from Atlanta, GA Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler CM Punk and his sign-ripping reign of terror continue on to start, as he drags Justin Roberts into the ring to introduce him as the People’s Champion. I have to say, surly asshole Punk is much easier to boo than hilarious smartass Punk. So he goes around ringside interrogating fans about whether he was actually seen in the video last week, which he was not. And it wasn’t Paul Heyman, it was Paul GIAMATTI. Which is funny because I just watched Rock of Ages last week and Giamatti’s character seemed to be pretty much Heyman except for the mustache. For some reason this brings out Booker T, stumbling over his lines, but the gist is that Punk will face either Rey, Orton or Jericho tonight depending on the results of an app vote. And then they actually show a VIDEO of installing the app in case we’re total morons. Ryback v. Antonio Cesaro Haven’t they wrestled a billion times now already? Ryback pounds away in the corner, but gets caught with a headbutt, so he throws Cesaro around for two. Cesaro comes back with forearms and a clothesline to the back as we take a break. Back with Cesaro trying to run away and then dropkicking Ryback off the apron and into the stairs. Luckily, Ryback beats the countout, but Cesaro slugs away in the corner and rides a knee down for two. Ryback makes the comeback and Cesaro runs away again, but Ryback blocks a high kick with a powerbomb and finishes with the usual at 8:37. Why are they constantly using the US champion in this role? He jobs to Orton and Ryback constantly and no one ever wants a title shot except for total losers like Miz. **1/2 Video package a go-go with a look the Shield’s attack last week, then an interview with Cena where he promises to call them out, then another video about the Shield, then Trish’s HOF announcement video again, plus WWE app plugs featuring promos from the potential Punk opponents. SO MUCH FILLER. Santino Marella v. Jack Swagger Brilliance on their part, as they took Swagger off TV for six months to freshen him up, then bring him back with exactly the same character and another terrible haircut. Swagger angrily lays Santino out and beats on him, then hits the pump splash and anklelock at 1:30. OK, so he’s ANGRY Jack Swagger now. ½* Alberto Del Rio v. Cody Rhodes Apparently the Rhodes Scholars are done, which makes Cody’s mustache sad. So how about that tag division, am I right? Del Rio gets the step up enzugiri, but Cody beats on him in the corner until ADR hits the low kick for two. Cody counters the armbar with the disaster kick, but only gets two. Another try finishes for the champ at 2:44, however. Hell of a way to kick off Cody’s singles push. * But with that yucky wrestling stuff out of the way, it’s time for the REAL point of the segment: Big Show challenging Del Rio to a rematch at the PPV, live from Show’s hotel room. Maybe it’ll be a third last man standing match! That’d be awesome! Daniel Bryan v. Rey Mysterio Wait, if they didn’t know who would win the vote, why is this match even booked? Logically you’d think that they’d wait until further along in the show to at least pretend like the results of the “vote” aren’t predetermined. Rey takes Bryan down for the seated dropkick, but Bryan blocks a headscissors with a gutbuster for two. Rey comes back and goes up, but Bryan hangs him in the tree of woe and then misses a charge and hits the post as we take a break. Back with Bryan working the arm and tossing Rey for yet another bump he shouldn’t be taking. Rey blocks a tope suicida and comes back with the senton and flying headscissors, and a low kick gets two. Bryan blocks the 619 and counters into the No Lock, but Rey rolls him over for two. Rey gets another shot at it and hits it, and drops the dime, but misses and allows Bryan to hook the No Lock at 7:39. **3/4 And then MARK HENRY returns and kills Bryan and Rey at the same time. Sin Cara tries to save and he gets his ass kicked, too. I never thought I’d see the day when I was happy to see Mark Henry coming back from injury and laying out midcarders like ragdolls, but here we are. Put this man in the Chamber and give him the Wrestlemania shot! Meanwhile, Kane lets Daniel know that words hurt. Actually, not. Meanwhile, at Big Show’s hotel room, he stiffs the room service guy. Good thing the camera was there to film that. Sheamus v. Kane Apparently some of these matches are to impress Booker T and enter the Chamber match. I’m confused because I thought the lineup was set as of Smackdown. Kane gets a sideslam for two, but Sheamus slugs back and hits the backbreaker and a kneelift. Sheamus with the forearms, but Kane counters with a necksnap and blocks the brogue kick. Sheamus escapes the chokeslam and they reverse finishers a few times before Kane gets a DDT. Daniel Bryan runs in to argue with Kane and it’s KICK WHAM…uh…KICK at 3:43. Holy cow this crowd is catatonic tonight. * MizTV with Paul Heyman, who is very apologetic for the actions of Brock last week and he wishes nothing but the best for the recovering Vince. Miz calls him a liar, but Vickie comes out and backs Heyman up and announces that she signed Brock herself. This leads to a spectacular display of acting on Vickie’s part as she breaks into tears on Paul’s comforting shoulder before they launch into a moment of silence for Vince. Miz calls them both liars, and if there’s one thing that Brock Lesnar can’t stand, it’s UNFOUNDED ALLEGATIONS, and he comes out to do something about it. Things go badly for Miz and his furniture, and if Miz was wearing a hat I bet that Brock would kick it. Lesnar as the terrifying force of nature = MONEY. Wade Barrett v. Randy Orton I don’t suppose it would be asking too much to take a break from this match for a while? They fight to the floor and Orton suplexes him onto the railing, and back in that gets two. Barrett comes back with a clothesline to put Orton on the floor, and back in for two. Barrett hits the chinlock to kill the crowd even more and Orton comes back with the powerslam and draping DDT. He walks into the Bossman slam, however, and Barrett gets two. Wasteland is countered into the RKO at 4:52. And again, no one cares that the champion lost because the title means nothing. ** Meanwhile, months after the initial promos, Fandango is once again on the way. Is this gimmick REALLY such a winner that they couldn’t have just killed it after the first time? CM Punk v. Chris Jericho They trade some nasty chops to start and the crowd has an IMPASSIONED chant-off for the two guys. Like both sides are determined to cheer for their guy. Punk takes him down for a top wristlock, but runs into a boot in the corner and Jericho dumps him with a clothesline and follows with a baseball slide. Springboard dropkick is countered with a necksnap and we take a break. Back with Punk missing a springboard clothesline as Jericho comes back and tries the Walls, but Punk escapes. Jericho gets the Lionsault for two, but walks into a GTS attempt. He reverses into the Walls, but Punk cradles for two, which Jericho reverses for two. Punk with a neckbreaker for two. Punk goes up with the flying elbow, but crashes and burns on that and a Lionsault gets two. Punk MURDERS him with the high kick out of nowhere for two, and the Anaconda Vice looks to finish, but Jericho makes the ropes. Punk notes “Sit down, marks!” for those in the front row, then tries the GTS, but Jericho counters to the Walls, but now Punk makes the ropes. These two have managed the miracle of waking up this terrible crowd. Jericho tries it again, but Punk reverses to the GTS to finish at 15:47. So yeah, this was pretty awesome. ***3/4 Speaking of awesome, the latest inductee into the Hall of Fame: BRUNO. For pulling that one off, HHH gets a lifetime karma pass. Meanwhile, back at Show’s hotel room, a guy drops off the contract, but Del Rio is waiting and things go badly for him. Luckily he manages to find a fire extinguisher and knocks Show out with a devastating shot to the shoulder. Brad Maddox is in the ring to cut a promo THREE HOURS into the show. He’s here to call out the Shield in place of John Cena, and that goes about as well for him as you’d expect. This brings Cena, Sheamus and Ryback out of the crowd and they do the big brawl to end the show, as the Shield runs away. The Pulse Not a BAD show but this PPV is so obviously a lame duck placeholder show before Wrestlemania and this didn’t feel like a show with any reason to exist, either. Still, a great match with Punk & Jericho and a Mark Henry return and Brock murdering Miz makes this a better one than last week’s ridiculousness.