ST. LOUIS – Whether Interim Raw General Manager and Executive Vice President of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis intended it or not – CM Punk stood tall over Dolph Ziggler in the WWE Championship Match at Royal Rumble, proudly showing off the most coveted prize in WWE.
Rather than risk seeming biased in light of his upcoming performance appraisal by WWE COO Triple H, Mr. Laurinaitis excused himself from officiating duties in the WWE Championship Match. This ultimately allowed Punk and Ziggler to do what they do best in an evenly- officiated contest.
The sold-out WWE Universe inside St. Louis’ Scottrade Center witnessed the two Superstars lay everything on the line, highlighting the importance of the WWE Championship and The Grandest Stage of Them All waiting on the horizon in Miami.
The contest began with each Superstar trying to get a feel for each other’s in-ring abilities. Momentum swings were fairly even, both ring warriors trading blows and trying to make each other tap out. There were unforgettable moments and near-pinfalls that could have crowned a new champion, but ultimately these did not seal the deal for either competitor. At one point, Ziggler lined up Punk for his signature face-crusher, but Punk countered with a sit-down powerbomb. Although CM Punk had Ziggler defeated on a few separate occasions, the referee was knocked out for two of those moments and Mr. Laurinaitis was checking on the officials condition, leaving no one call the match. Finally, The Voice of the Voiceless took control of the match, hoisted the Dolph Ziggler over his shoulders and put him to sleep. As the referee made the count, Mr. Laurinaitis slipped inside the ring and joined in on the three-count.
Leading up to the official start of The Road to WrestleMania, Dolph Ziggler had built a fair share of momentum against the WWE Champion. Although CM Punk managed to have The Show-Off’s cohorts, U.S. Champion Jack Swagger and Vickie Guerrero, banned from ringside, Ziggler had the potential to capture the title with Mr. Laurinaitis as special referee. But when Raw’s Interim General Manager announced he would not be in that role, the news seemed to have served a crucial blow to all of the momentum Ziggler had built heading into Royal Rumble.
However, with the battle underway, The Show-Off proved he did not need the screeching sounds of Vickie Guerrero’s voice, nor the extra muscle in the form of U.S. Champion Jack Swagger. Perhaps the prospect of going into WWE Elimination Chamber, and ultimately, WrestleMania as WWE Champion helped light a fire inside of Ziggler, giving CM Punk one of the greatest challenges of his championship reign.
The Voice of the Voiceless leaves St. Louis with the WWE Championship intact, but has to get through WWE Elimination Chamber to remain on top heading to WrestleMania. Watch all the fallout – and the Interim Raw General Manager on Monday Night Raw.
Winner: CM Punk
Dolph Ziggler makes his entrance #18. Booker T tries to eliminate Hunico but he lands on the apron so Booker pulls him in and hits an axe kick, then Khali knocks Dolph down as Hacksaw Jim Duggan comes out to a huge pop.
Duggan hits Miz and clotheslines Hunico, then he grabs Cody and Miz and smashes their heads together and starts a USA chant as he charges at Cody in the corner. Cody moves out of the way and clotheslines him out of the ring, then Dolph and Cody eliminate both Khali and Booker T. The buzzer goes off and Michael Cole comes out as #20, and he takes off his suit to reveal his wrestling singlet and he puts his headgear on and gets in the ring. Cole mockingly dances around as Cody as Miz attack Kofi and Dolph, then Kharma returns at #21 and Cole nearly craps himself. Kharma hits him with a clothesline then Cole gets up and goes to the apron and tries to beg her off, then Booker T and King get up and pull him off the apron
Kharma grabs Hunico and bodyslams him to the floor, and Dolph grabs her legs and dumps her over the top rope as Sheamus comes out and bodyslams Miz. Sheamus throws Kofi in the corner then avoids Trouble In Paradise and throws Kofi to the floor then clubs Cody near the ropes and does the same to Miz. He avoids a Zig Zag by holding the ropes, then Road Dogg Jesse James runs out and hits Cody with a few snapping punches and does the crotch chop. He drops an elbow then hits Miz with a pump handle slam and throws Cody in the corner as the fans start a ‘you still got it’ chant. Road Dogg whips him across the ring as Jey Uso comes out, he shows Road Dogg up with a pop and lock then hits a running knee smash in the corner.
Jey kicks Miz in the corner while Cody and Sheamus fight on the other side, then Road Dogg gets back in it and tries to eliminate Dolph. The buzzer goes out and Jack Swagger comes out at #25 and clotheslines a few guys before dropping Sheamus with a belly-to-belly suplex. Swagger and Dolph attack Jey and Sheamus in the corner then Cody suplexes Dolph and Wade Barrett comes out and quickly eliminates Road Dogg. Dolph knocks Jey down then David Otunga enters at #27 and takes his time getting in but goes right after Cody Rhodes and kicks him in the corner. Swagger hits Miz near the corner then Sheamus drops him with some punches, and Dolph in turn attacks him while Miz kicks Jey and drops him with a DDT.
Randy Orton runs right out and clotheslines Swagger then unloads on Wade and drops both Wade and Dolph with spinning powerslams. Cody attacks him from behind and tries to eliminate him, but Orton blocks it and throws Dolph to the apron then hits Cody and Dolph with hanging DDT’s. He turns around and hits Wade with an RKO, then throws him over the top rope as Chris Jericho runs out and immediately clotheslines Miz and throws Otunga over the top rope. Jericho kicks Dolph in the corner while Swagger tries to throw Sheamus to the floor, and Orton gets Miz on the apron. The final buzzer goes off and number #30 is Big Show, and he pulls Swagger off the apron then knocks him out when Swagger gets up and argues with him.
Big Show gets in the ring and chokes Cody and Miz, then shoves them over the top rope and grabs Dolph and chops him before throwing him out to the floor.