Phillips Arena – Atlanta, Georgia – October 28, 2012
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jim Ross, and JBL are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez)
Orton starts off hot and beats on Del Rio both in and out of the ring. Del Rio comes back and starts working the shoulder to set up for the Cross Armbreaker. Every time Orton tries to fight up Del Rio is able to swat him back down and work the arm. Finally Del Rio is able to lock on the Cross Armbreaker but it’s too close to the ropes and Orton gets there. Orton hits the Inverted headlock backbreaker for a two-count. He tries to follow up with the Rope-hung DDT but Del Rio escapes it and drops Orton on the top rope. Del Rio goes for an RKO but Orton escapes it and this time hits the Rope-hung DDT. Orton tries to signal for the RKO but his arm is too injured to pound the mat. Del Rio hits a Backstabber for two. Orton counters with the snap scoop powerslam for a two-count. They fight up on the rop rope and Del Rio is able to connect with the Warrior’s Way for a near-fall. Del Rio goes back up top but can’t connect with the flying something, and an awkward little exchange ends with Orton hitting The Dropkick. Orton tries the RKO but more reversals leads to Rodriguez pulling Orton’s shoulder into the ring post behind the referee’s back! Del Rio locks on the Cross Armbreaker and Orton is able to counter his way out of it. When Del Rio goes for the Ste-up enziguiri Orton ducks it and lands the RKO to get the pin at 12:39! They had that one little flub but the finish more than makes up for it. They both had great strategy here, with Del Rio doggedly pursuing the arm and Orton making sure to use his opposite arm to hit the RKO, which JR is helpful enough to point out. Excellent opener here.
MATCH #2: Tag Team Championship Match – Team Hell No vs. Team Rhodes Scholars
Daniel Bryan & Kane have been the Champions since 9.16.12, and this is their second defense. Daniel Bryan and Damien Sandow start the match. The Champions take the early advantage, no matter which member of the challengers are in the ring. Eventually Team Rhodes Scholars are able to isolate Kane, which was the opposite way I thought this match would go. Bryan gets a tag and he is all fired up. He unloads with the Yes Kicks and sends both Rhodes and Sandow to the floor. Bryan follows out with a suicide dive to wipe Sandow out. He throws Sandow back in and gets up on the apron. Rhodes distracts him, allowing Sandow to knock him down. Sandow and Rhodes are back in control. Bryan makes the comeback, Kane gets the hot tag, boom. Rhodes tries to hit Kane with a superplex but that doesn’t go well. Kane shoves Rhodes down and follows with the flying clothesline. He sets up for the Chokeslam but Bryan tags himself in and hits the diving headbutt. Kane breaks up the cover because he felt like it should have been his. Everyone gets dumped to the floor except Bryan, and he goes for the running knee off the apron and accidentally hits Kane! Now Kane is pissed and the Champions argue. Rhodes and Sandow try stereo baseball slides but they blow them so badly. Back in the ring Rhodes hits Bryan with Cross-Rhodes and Kane breaks up the cover. Kane is unleashing on Rhodes and has a beating for Sandow as well. The referee can’t get Kane out of the ring so he calls for the DQ at 13:07. That was good tag team formula stuff with the twist of Bryan and Kane not getting along. It was fun up until the stupid finish that makes the challengers look like huge pussies who don’t deserve a rematch.
Just to reenforce that point, Kane beats up Rhodes and Sandow after the match and then argues with his own partner. Kane lights up the ring posts because he’s angry!
MATCH #3: Intercontinental Championship Match – The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston
Kingston has been the Champion since 10.17.12, and this is his first defense. They go back and forth to start and Kingston almost hits Trouble in Paradise but Miz avoids it and takes a powder. Out on the floor Miz takes the advantage. Back in the ring Miz keeps Kingston on the mat, which is wise to do with a high flyer. Miz charges into the corner and Kingston pops out with a clothesline. Kingston hits the Boom Drop and signals for Trouble in Paradise but Miz alips to the floor. Back in the ring Kingston hits a springboard cross body block off the top rope for two. A series of reversals ends with Kingston hitting the SOS for a near-fall. Miz goes back to work on the legs and keeps Kingston from flying. He locks on a half crab and Kingston eventually counters with an inside cradle for two. Miz hits a baby DDT for two. They counter each other back and forth and Kingston is able to connect with the Trouble in Paradise using his good leg to get the pin at 10:20. These two usually do solid work, and this was no different. Miz working the leg was excellent strategy and Kingston was able to overcome it using his wits and his resilience. Kofi Kingston is such a perfect guy to be Intercontinental Champion but they never seem to capitalize on his potential.
MATCH #4: United States Championship Match – Antonio Cesaro vs. Justin Gabriel
Cesaro has been the champion since 8.19.12, and this is his fourth defense. Gabriel tries using his high flying ability to control the early part of the match, but Cesaro cuts him off by shoving him from the top rope to the floor. Back in the ring Cesaro wears Gabriel down. Gabriel fights back with a leg lariat and a springboard moonsault for a two-count. Momentum shifts back and forth as both guys try to put the other away. Gabriel hits a DDT for a near-fall. He goes up top and misses the 450 Splash but Cesaro rolls out of the way. Gabriel sort of lands on his feet, and is able to hit the AJ Styles fipping inverted DDT. Cesaro rolls to the floor and Gabriel kicks him back to the guardrail. Gabriel goes for a springboard cross body but Cesaro catches him with a European Uppercut. Cesaro throws Gabriel back in the ring and hits him with The Neutralizer to get the pin at 7:20. That was a perfectly fine TV match, but not really suited to pay-per-view. Cesaro and Gabriel are both very talented and with a feud and a match twice as long they could do something great.
MATCH #5: Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara vs. The Prime Time Players
Darren Young starts with Sin Cara, and the masked man is able to take early control. Sin Cara and Mysterio work well together in the early going until Young cuts Mysterio off with a belly-to-belly suplex. The PTP take control now and isolate Mysterio in their half of the ring. Mysterio is able to make a tag as momentum continues to shift back and forth. The PTP spend quite a bit of time working over Sin Cara, who is finally able to make a comeback with an Asai DDT but spikes himself on his head and gets injured. The hot tag is made and Mysterio is all over D Young. Mysterio is able to connect with the 619 and follows with the Diving splash to get the pin at 12:27. That was classic tag team formula stuff, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The high flying team faced the power team and all four men jelled well together. I’m a sucker for good tag team wrestling.
MATCH #6: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Sheamus vs. Big Show
Sheamus has been the Champion since 4.1.12, and this is his eighth defense. This is the first time these two have ever had a one-on-one match with each other. Show uses his incredible power to gain the early advantage. Mr. Money in the Bank Dolph Ziggler is watching on backstage, just in case an opportunity presents itself. Sheamus fights back and knocks Show to the floor. Back in the ring Show returns the favor and knocks Sheamus to the outside. Show absolutley dominates the Champion both in and out of the ring, leaving Sheamus wondering what he can possibly do to subdue the Giant. The mammoth challenger uses a bearhug to continue wearing Sheamus down. Show hits a Vader Bomb but it only gets two. He goes for the Chokeslam but Sheamus cleverly counters with a DDT. Sheamus covers and Show bench presses him to the floor. Back in the ring Show hits the Chokeslam but Sheamus kicks out! A series of reversals finds the match back on the floor, and Sheamus shoulderblocks Show into the ring post. Back in the ring Sheamus goes to the top rope but can’t connect. Sheamus perseveres and takes Show off his feet. He hits an impressive White Noise but he only gets two! Sheamus goes for the Brogue Kick but Show blocks it and hits the KO Punch, but it only gets a two-count! Show goes for another KO Punch but Sheamus ducks and hits the Brogue Kick for a near-fall! Sheamus goes for another Brogue Kick but Show cuts him off with a KO Punch to win his second World Heavyweight Title at 20:13! That match had no right to that good, but Sheamus and Big Show had shocking chemistry here. The power versus more power dynamic worked really well for them, and Show looks like a million bucks while Sheamus lost nothing in that defeat. This may be the biggest pleasant surprise of 2012.
MATCH #7: Triple Threat Match for the Divas Championship – Eve vs. Layla vs. Kaitlyn
Eve has been the Champion since 9.16.12, and this is her third defense. The challengers both attack the Champion from the get-go, since Eve screwed over both Kaitlyn and Layla last month at Night of Champions 2012. It almost seems like they’re working together, but Layla reminds Kaitlyn that it’s every Diva for herself by rolling her up for two. Layla and Kaitlyn do a fish out of water spot and Eve breaks it up. Eve sends Layla to the floor and then focuses on Kaitlyn. She attacks Kaitlyn’s injured ankle and goes to work on it. Layla gets back in the fray and zeroes in on the Champion. She takes her out and then does battle with Kaitlyn. Eve comes back in reasserts herself. Kaitlyn hits Eve with Stratusfaction but Layla doesn’t allow a cover. She hits Layla with a powerslam and covers, but Eve breaks that up with a somersault senton, crushing Layla underneath both Eve and Kaitlyn. Eve is then able to score the pin on Layla to retain the title at 6:27. That was fine for the time they got. Both challengers had reason to be there, making it a triple threat match that makes sense, which is a good place to start. The action never stopped and the finish was solid.
MATCH #8: WWE Championship Hell in a Cell Match – CM Punk (w./ Paul Heyman) vs. Ryback
Punk has been the Champion since 11.20.11, and this is his eighteenth defense. This is the twenty-sixth Hell in a Cell match; Punk is coming in with an 0-3 record, while Ryback is making his debut. Punk immediately stalls and tries to avoid Ryback. When Ryback finally does get his hands on Punk he dominates. The challenger throws he Champion around like a rag doll. Ryback dumps Punk to the floor and uses the cell to wear him down. Punk cralws under the ring and Heyman distracts Ryback long enough for Punk to shoot a fire extinguisher in his face. He tries to use a chair but Ryback thwarts him. Punk comes back and hits the springboard flying clothesline. Momentum continues to shift, as Punk can’t stay on offense for very long before Ryback fights back. Punk is able to land a suicide dive, and he follows that up with a neckbreaker on the floor. A series of reversals ends with Ryback hitting the ring steps with a Spear. Ryback continues to use his brute strength to work over the Champion. Punk hits the running knee in the corner and a short-arm clothesline. He goes up top and hits the flying elbow. Punk goes under the ring and finds a kendo stick and cracks Ryback with it repeatedly. Ryback gets to his feet and shrugs off the assault and resumes throwing Punk all over the ring. He hits the Meat Hook. Ryback goes for the Shell Shock but the referee stands in front of Ryback and then hits Ryback with a low blow! That allows Punk to steal a pin and retain the title at 11:21. That was going along okay as match, but the crowd just was not buying Ryback as a babyface at all. The finish was kind of lame and a bit abrupt. It was probably better to keep this match on the short side, for Ryback’s sake.
After the match Ryback assaults both the referee (Brad Maddox) and the WWE Champion. Punk tries to escape by going up to the roof of the cell but Ryback joins him up there! Ryback hits Punk with the Shell Shock on top of the cage.