New Orleans Arena – New Orleans, Louisiana – February 17, 2013
PRE-SHOW MATCH: Brodus Clay & Tensai vs. Team Rhodes Scholars
Matt Striker and Tony Dawson are calling the action. Clay and Damien Sandow start the match. That doesn’t go well for Sandow, as Clay uses his size and power to send him scurrying to the floor. Cody Rhodes tags in so Clay tags Tensai in as well. Tensai similarly uses his size and power to keep Rhodes on the defensive. Rhodes catches Tensai with a drop-down punch and makes the tag. Tensai tries hard, but Team Rhodes Scholars use some devious double-teams to take advantage. Team Rhodes Scholars focus on Tensai and keep him isolated from his partner. After a few minutes, Tensai makes the hot tag. Clay is all over Team Rhodes Scholars. All four men wind up in the ring together, and Sandow gets squashed by both men to end it at 4:08. That wasn’t particularly great, but it was fine pre-show fluff to get everyone excited for the PPV.
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler, and JBL are on commentary.
MATCH #1: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show
Del Rio has been the Champion since 1.11.13, and this is his second defense. The Champion is the aggressor early on, but Show is able to cut him off with his power and start wearing him down. Del Rio fights back and goes after the big man’s leg, trying to keep him grounded. He hits the low superkick but it only gets a two-count. Del Rio tries the Cross Armbreaker but Show powers out and hits a Spear for two. Show throws Del Rio around for a bit and hits a Vader Bomb but only gets two. He picks Del Rio up and the crafty Champion locks in the Cross Armbreaker! Show is able to reach the ropes. Del Rio goes to the second rope and leaps right into a bearhug. Show is back in control and he goes for a powerbomb but Del Rio counters with a rana that sends Show to the floor. Del Rio follows him out with a suicide dive. Back to the ring Del Rio goes up top and hits a seated senton for two. Del Rio charges and Show catches him in a a Chokeslam but it only gets two! Del Rio is able to hit Show with a big DDT for a near-fall. He hits the step-up enziguiri in the corner but once again only gets two. Del Rio puts the Cross Armbreaker back on and Show powers his way out of it again. Rodriguez interferes to distract Show long enough for Del Rio to hit an enziguiri to the back of the head. More kicks take Show off his feet and Del Rio puts on the Cross Armbreaker again. Finally, Show taps out at 13:01! I’m sure Show has tapped out at some point, but I don’t remember when so it’s very rare. This was another rock solid match between these two, and did a lot to make Del Rio look like a strong Champion going into WrestleMania. Del Rio had his game plan and stuck to it until he won with his finisher. Easy, classic stuff there.
MATCH #2: United States Championship Match – Antonio Cesaro vs. The Miz
Cesaro has been the Champion since 8.19.12, and this is his eleventh defense. Miz is coming into this match with his shoulder heavily taped. He’s wisely the aggressor early on, as with that injury it’s going to benefit him to try and end it early. Cesaro weathers the initial onslaught and goes to work, focusing on the shoulder. Miz won’t go away quietly, but Cesaro continues to overwhelm him. Eventually Miz is able to catch Cesaro with a boot to the face and he unloads with a flurry of kicks. Miz hits the corner clothesline and goes up top for an axhandle, but Cesaro catches him in a Fujiwara Armbar. There’s a move you don’t see every day in WWE. Miz turns it into a cradle for two, and then backdrops Cesaro to the floor. He jumps off the apron and gets caught, but Miz slips out and throws Cesaro knees-first into the steps. Back in the ring Miz delivers a dragon screw leg whip, and hits a mini-DDT for two. Miz sets up for the Figure-Four, and accidentally hits Cesaro in the groin. When Cesaro points it out to the referee, Miz gets disqualified at 8:20. Just to be a poor sport, Miz kicks Cesaro square in the nuts after the match. What a babyface. The match was a solid TV-type match, and the finish would have been fine if the referee called it but it was just weird that Cesaro had to point it out and the referee just listened to him.
MATCH #3: Elimination Chamber Match – Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Chris Jericho vs. Mark Henry vs. Kane vs. Jack Swagger
Orton is making his fifth Chamber appearance and has an 0-4 record; Bryan is making his second appearance and has a 1-0 record; Jericho is making his record eighth appearance and has a record of 1-7; Henry is in the Chamber for the first time; Kane is making his fifth appearance and is 0-4; and Swagger is also making his debut. In qualifying matches, Orton beat Wade Barrett, Bryan defeated Rey Mysterio, Kane beat Dolph Ziggler, Swagger got by Zack Ryder, Henry beat Orton (after Orton had already qualified), and Jericho beat Bryan (after Bryan had already qualified.
Bryan and Jericho are the lucky two that get to start the match, in what is actually a rematch of Bryan’s first official match with the company on the first-ever episode of NXT on February 23, 2010. They go back and forth and take it to the mat to exchange finishing hold attempts. The battle spills to the Chamber floor, where Jericho is able to catapult Bryan into the wall. Back in the ring Jericho goes to work. Time winds down and Swagger is the next man in the ring. Swagger goes after Jericho and hits a Swagger Bomb for two. He then turns his attention to Bryan, ramming him into the Chamber wall repeatedly. Jericho fights back a bit an they take it to the Chamber floor. Bryan comes flying back in with a knee from the top rope to take Swagger out. He takes Jericho back to the ring and takes him down, but misses the diving headbutt. Jericho covers for two. The next man in the match is Bryan’s Tag Team Championship partner Kane. The Big Red Monster is a force right away, and he works with Bryan to beat up both Swagger and Jericho. Bryan tries to steal a pin on Kane with a rollup but only gets two. Kane is right pissed off about that. Bryan offers to hug it out but Kane wants nothing to do with that. The two partners go at it and Bryan hits an IED and some Yes Kicks. Kane comes back with a side suplex for two. He goes up top and Jericho actually adds an assist for a Doomsday Device! Swagger tries to steal the pin but Bryan kicks out. The pace continues to be fast as Orton makes his way into the match. Orton is a house afire and is able to hit Kane with the Rope-hung DDT on the Chamber floor. Back in the ring Orton hits Swagger with a superplex and Jericho hits Bryan with a superplex moments later. Everyone is laid out as Mark Henry completes the field of competitors.
Henry is a force, and quickly eliminates Bryan with the World’s Strongest Slam at 16:36. He throws Orton through one of the pods, and then turns his attention to Kane. Henry catches Kane coming off the top rope and hits another World’s Strongest Slam for his second elimination at 18:22. Jericho and Swagger wisely work together to stop Henry’s momentum, and they hit him with a double suplex on the Chamber floor. That leaves Swagger and Jericho free to do battle. Jericho gets Swagger in position for the Lionsault, but when he gets to the ropes, Henry is on his feet and he grabs Jericho by the throat and hurls him into the Chamber wall! That’s as great spot. Henry then press slams Jericho back in the ring on top of Swagger. He sets Swagger and Jericho on top of each other and tries a Vader Bomb but both men move out of the way. Swagger hits a big boot, Jericho delivers the Codebreaker, and then Orton adds the exclamation point with an RKO to eliminate Henry at 23:20. Henry goes to leave, but then turns around and re-enters the Chamber to deliver a World’s Strongest Slam to Swagger, Orton, and then Jericho. Booker T, Teddy Long, and a host of referees come out to try and stop him, but they have no luck. The dust settles and Swagger crawls over to cover Orton but only gets a two-count. Orton and Jericho decide to team up on Swagger, and they hurl him shoulder-first into the ring post. Jericho and Orton then take it to each other, and Orton wins that battle. Swagger makes it back in and Orton takes it to him too. Jericho cuts him off with the springboard dropkick. The action continues coming fast and furious from all three men, each desperate to put someone away. Jericho puts Swagger in the Walls of Jericho, which Orton breaks up with the Inverted headlock backbreaker and covers Jericho for two. Orton then hurls Swagger to the Chamber floor. He puts Jericho there as well, and hits them with a simultaneous Rope-hung DDT. Orton then hits Jericho with the RKO to eliminate him at 31:13. Swagger sneaks behind Orton and gets a schoolboy rollup for the pin at 31:18! It was quite shocking to see Swagger going over, as this push was more or less from out of nowhere. That doesn’t take away from the match though, which was non-stop action and really well booked to accentuate everyone’s stories and play to their strengths.
MATCH #4: Six Man Tag Team Match – John Cena, Ryback & Sheamus vs. The Shield
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns enter through the crowd and the math starts on the floor. They make it into the ring with all six men brawling. The Supermen each hit a vertical suplex, and the referee finally gets control and rings the bell. Sheamus and Ambrose start the match proper. The crowd continues to lose their collective mind as Sheamus dominates Ambrose. The Shield has not been able to get out of the blocks yet. Reigns distracts Sheamus long enough for Ambrose to kick him in the head, and now the Shield takes control. They take turns working Sheamus over for a bit, until Sheamus is able to pop out of the corner with a huge boot to Ambrose’s face. Cena gets the hot tag and he starts throwing out Moves of Doom. He hits Reigns with the Protoplex and the Five Knuckle Shuffle, and then locks on the STF. Ambrose breaks it up. Rollins takes Cena out with a flying knee. The Shield is such a good TEAM. They isolate Cena now and keep him in their half of the ring. After several minutes of abuse, Cena is able to backdrop a charging Ambrose to the floor, and Ryback gets the hot tag. Ryback cleans house, and the crowd is loving it. Reigns cuts him off so Sheamus comes in to the rescue and it’s a pier-six brawl. Sheamus takes Ambrose to the floor, and Reigns follows to deliver a huge Spear through the barricade! Sheamus is done. Back in the ring the Shield triple-teams Ryback, but Cena comes to his aid. Cena hits Ambrose with the Attitude Adjustment, and Ryback goes for the Shellshocked on Rollins. Reigns hits Ryback with a Spear, and Rollins gets the pin at 14:50. I love this match. WWE has severely lacked great teams for so long, and the Shield is the perfect combination that compliments each other so well, and every move they do is designed for the good of the unit. This was great non-stop action, and the Shield was put over huge here.
Dolph Ziggler makes his way out, flanked by AJ Lee and Big E Langston. Ziggler is irritated that he doesn’t have a match on this show. He touts his Money in the Bank briefcase as a guaranteed World Title win, and generally puts himself over. SmackDown General Manager Booker T comes out and makes a match for Ziggler against Kofi Kingston. Oh good, that’s fresh.
MATCH #5: Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler
Kingston strikes first with a dropkick and a monkey flip that flips Ziggler all the way over onto his face. He charges into the corner but Ziggler moves and Kingston’s shoulder hits the ring post. Ziggler works him over, and cuts off a comeback attempt with the Sleeper hold. Kingston is able to break it by sending Ziggler to the floor, and then he tries a dive but Ziggler moves and Langston takes the brunt of it instead. An angry Langston gets up on the apron to distract the referee, allowing AJ to slap Kingston in the face. Ziggler charges and almost knocks AJ off the apron, and Kingston hits him with Trouble in Paradise for a two-count. Once again Ziggler goes to the floor and Kingston follows with a dive that actually takes out Langston instead of Ziggler. Back in the ring Kingston hits a springboard cross body block for a near-fall. Kingston goes up top and Ziggler knocks him down on his crotch. Ziggler drops Kingston’s midsection on the top turnbuckle, and follows with the Zig Zag for the pin at 3:56. That was a pretty typical RAW or SmackDown match, but at least it was energetic.
Langston beats up Kingston after the bell, which Kingston really has coming if you think about it. He hits the Big Ending and leaves Kingston in a heap.
MATCH #6: Divas Championship Match – Kaitlyn vs. Tamina Snuka
Kaitlyn has been the Champion since 1.14.13, and this is her first defense. Snuka tries to use her power to start, but Kaitlyn takes her down with a front facelock. Kaitlyn hits a suplex and scores a rollup for a one-count. She knocks Snuka to the floor, and a gaggle of Divas are watching this match on the backstage monitor. Kaitlyn put sSnuka back in the ring first, but pays for it when Snuka runs her into the ring post. Back in the ring Snuka hits a Yakuza Kick for two. Snuka hits a Samoan Drop and goes to the top rope. She misses the Superfly Splash and Kaitlyn drills her with a Spear to get the pin at 3:16. That was fine filler I guess. It was too short to develop into anything memorably good or memorably bad.
MATCH #7: WWE Championship Match – The Rock vs. CM Punk
Rock has been the Champion since 1.27.13, and this is his first defense. If Rock gets counted out or disqualified, he loses the Title. Both men start slowly, as a lot is at stake in this matchup. They also know each other a little better after facing off at last month’s Royal Rumble. Punk scores the first couple of knockdowns, but Rock weathers the storm and fires back on Punk, sending the challenger scurrying to the floor. Back in the ring Punk tries to encourage Rock to get disqualified so he can win the title. But Rock stops just short of doing that. Punk straight up spits in the Rock’s face, but Rock maintains his cool enough to not get disqualified. Rock beats on Punk on the floor for a little bit, but when they get back in the ring it’s Punk taking the advantage. Every time Rock tries to fight up Punk has answer for him. Punk hits the springboard clothesline for a near-fall. He drills Rock with the running knee in the corner, and then goes up to hit Hail to the King. Rock kicks out at two. They go back to the floor, and Rock is able to slam Punk’s head on the announce table repeatedly. Back in the ring Rock goes for the Rock Bottom but Punk avoids it and hits a knockout kick for a two-count. Punk throws Rock back to the floor and hits a Rock Bottom on the Spanish Announce Table, which does not break. The People’s Champ barely makes it back to the ring before the count of 10. Punk is getting frustrated. He charges and Rock picks him up for a nice Samoan Drop. Both men make it back to their feet and they trade right hands. Rock wins that battle and hits a DDT. He goes for the Rock Bottom but once again Punk fights it off. Finally on the third attempt Rock is able to hit the Rock Bottom but it only gets two! Punk rolls to the floor and Rock throws him right back in. The referee gets bumped off the apron and Punk hits Go 2 Sleep! But there’s no referee to count! The crowd is counting Rock down, and he is out. Punk goes for another one but Rock slips out and hits a spinebuster. Rock hits the People’s Elbow and a new referee is in the ring to count, but Punk kicks out! The new referee takes a slight bump and twists his ankle, and Punk hits another Go 2 Sleep! Heyman gives Punk the title belt and tries to hold Rock for Punk to hit him, but just guess how that goes. Rock hits the Rock Bottom, and the original official is recovered enough to count the pin at 20:55. That was about on par with the match at Royal Rumble with the added neatness of Punk trying to get Rock disqualified or counted out. The crowd was red hot, especially down the stretch. People can dog on Rock all they want, but he did everything he could to make Punk look like a threat throughout their feud.
BONUS MATCH: John Cena, Ryback & Sheamus vs. 3MB, Monday Night RAW #1029, 2.11.13
Ryback and Heath Slater start the match. Slater plays some air guitar so Ryback press slams him with ease. Sheamus tags in, as does Drew McIntyre. The two brutes from the United Kingdom square off and McIntyre puts up a decent fight but Sheamus gets the better of him. Cena and Jinder Mahal tag in, and Cena wastes no time in hitting Moves of Doom. He hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle and signals for the Attitude Adjustment. Slater and Mahal come to the rescue, but that goes poorly for the 3MB. Cena hits Mahal with the Attitude Adjustment, Sheamus hits McIntyre with White Noise, and Ryback hits Slater with Shellshocked. That’s enough for Cena to get the pin at 2:52. That was a fun little squash for the Supermen team.
BONUS MATCH: Non Title Match – Alberto Del Rio vs. Damien Sandow, Monday Night RAW #1029, 2.11.13
Sandow strikes first with a flurry of knees and a Side Russian Legsweep. He hits the Cubito Aequet and tries an Avalanche but misses. Del Rio lands a couple of clotheslines and hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. The Champ lands a hard superkick to the jaw for a near-fall. Del Rio locks on the Cross Armbreaker and Sandow taps out at 1:18. Well that must have been exhausting for them. That made Del Rio look good but did nothing at all for Sandow.
BONUS MATCH: Chris Jericho vs. Big Show, Friday Night SmackDown #704, 2.15.13
Show attacks right away and uses his size and power to take Jericho off his feet and send him to the floor. He puts Jericho back in the ring and it backfires when Jericho hits the springboard dropkick. A baseball slide sends Show back even further. Jericho goes outside to follow up, but Show grabs him and heaves up over the announce table. Back in the ring Show is dominant. Jericho fights back and goes for the big man’s legs. Show puts a stop to that with a huge Spear for two. Jericho avoids a charge in the corner and goes up top, but Show catches him on the way down and flattens him with a huge Chokeslam that sends Jericho all the way to the floor. Show puts Jericho back in the ring and goes to the second rope. He misses an elbow drop. Jericho hits the Lionsault but it only gets two. He tries the Codebreaker but Show blocks it and picks Jericho up, and Jericho counters again with a DDT for two. Jericho tries the Walls of Jericho but Show powers out of it. Show catches Jericho with the Knockout Punch to get the pin at 6:43. These two were great partners, so I suppose it’s no huge shock that they do well as opponents as well. It wasn’t very long but both guys worked a smart match and it all made sense.