- Taped on February 26th, from Oklahoma City, OK. Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling the action this week, with JBL out climbing mountains and the Miz being set for a big match early in the taping of Smackdown. Will tonight's episode feature something better than Big Show squashing scrubs?
We come back with Rhodes connecting with a DDT for a two count. He stomps Sheamus down in the corner and takes him over with a front facelock. Sheamus fights free, but Rhodes takes him down with a Russian leg sweep and locks on a step over wristlock. Sheamus counters with a roll up for two, and Rhodes quickly meets Sheamus on his feet with a dropkick. The slug it out until Sheamus hits the Irish Curse. He follows up with charging axehandles, but misses a running knee lift. Rhodes skins the cat back in the ring, but a clothesline sends him to the apron and Sheamus finally works in the clubbing forearms across the chest spot. Sheamus brings him back in with a suplex, then comes off the top with a shoulder tackle for a two count. Sheamus with a clothesline to the corner, but another charge meets only the post. Rhodes to the top with a standing moonsault for two. Sheamus blocks a running boot and rolls him up for two. He goes for the Cloverleaf, but Rhodes struggles free, kicks the knee from under Sheamus, and comes off the ropes with a running knee to the face for another two count. Cross Rhodes is countered, as is White Noise. Rhodes side-steps the Brogue Kick, but misses the Disaster Kick. Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick on Attempt #2, and that's enough for the three count at 12:55 (including one commercial break). The result was never in doubt thanks to Rhodes' Job Tour '13, but very satisfying match with balanced offense from both sides.
- Tonight we get to see the instant classic from Monday Night Raw between CM Punk and John Cena, but right now, Mark Henry is WALKING, and he's NEXT!
- Ryback Hype Video! Usually I wouldn't complain about these, because they always serve a purpose, but we're running out of broadcast time and were promised the ENTIRE match between Cena and Punk from Raw. Still, it's an effective way to make someone look good without having them actually wrestle.
- Cody Rhodes and Kaitlyn have another poor acted encounter backstage. Is Cody Rhodes turning face? Will he feud with Damian Sandow? I hope so, because his constant jobbing is getting out of hand.
- The Raw Rewind: Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon fight, Brock Lesnar shows up to attack Vince McMahon, but then Triple H returns to fend off that attempted attack. Brock gets cut open hardway somewhere around the ear/back of the head, so we get a black and white video most of the time. It was still pretty awesome, but I don't want a rematch. I didn't cheer Hunter the first time, so why would I the second?
We come back from break with Punk landing a roundhouse kick to the back of the head. He runs into the corner with a knee to the face, but a short-arm clothesline misses and Cena takes him down with the AA for a two count. Punk rolls to the floor, with Cena following, only to get to taste the ring post. Punk rolls back in to try and get a cheap count-out, but Cena comes back to life in time to roll back in at the count of 9. BULL! Punk quickly connects with the GTS, but it only gets a two count. He goes for it again, but Cena blocks and counters with the STF! Punk with the slow crawl to the ropes to force a break. He kicks the knee from under Cena and plants him with a vicious looking piledriver, but it only gets two! He covers again for two, then again, still for two. Punk to the top rope, missing the Macho Man elbow! Cena busts out the Cena-Canrana, and finishes with the AA for the three count at around the 15-minute mark (including a break, clipped from the neighborhood of 27-28). It's official: Cena will challenge the Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXIX. I could go on another rant about nitpicky bullshit, but honestly, there's nothing to complain about. Both men busted their asses, and the finish more than made enough sense in preperation for Cena challenging the Rock. Even in short form, it's a great match, but the full version (well, as full as two commercial breaks is) is a definite must-see.
Final Thoughts: Sheamus vs. Cody Rhodes opened the broadcast with a solid performance, and we closed it out with a rebroadcast of one of the best matches featured on free television in a long time. The Henry squash was pretty hard to watch, and the backstage stuff with Rhodes/Kaitlyn was c-level acting bad, but come on... even if one of the two matches worth watching is a repeat, WATCH IT. They wouldn't repeat a match like that without good reason (unless it's on an international show, like Superstars).