I was in attendance at last night’s Raw Supershow in Tampa, Florida. Although it seems as if it didn’t translate well to TV, the crowd was hot all night. The uppermost sections were mostly tarped off, but the camera side of the arena was nearly full and the side opposite hard camera was about 80% full. There were two dark matches, a 41-man battle royal, which was for a WWE Championship opportunity against CM Punk immediately afterwards.
The talent for the battle royal came out in a line, with Justin Roberts calling out their names as they hit the ramp. Along with the WWE midcarders, several FCW wrestlers were a part of the match, among them Richie Steamboat, Damien Sandow, Eli Cottonwood, and Abraham Washington. Current NXT talent Titus O’Neil, Darren Young, and Derrick Bateman were competing as well. On a funny note, Roberts seemed to forget Bateman’s name when he walked out. Bateman laughed it off and Roberts announced his name a few seconds later. Nothing of note happened until about ten wrestlers remained. Dolph Ziggler was holding his own, but was tossed through the second rope. Heath Slater, of all people, lasted until the final 5. The final wrestlers were Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, Ted DiBiase & Zack Ryder. Ted was eliminated by Cody, who was eliminated by Swagger. Swagger tried to throw over Ryder, but Ryder reversed it and tossed Swagger over. Huge pop from the crowd as Ryder celebrated in the middle of the ring, but Ziggler hadn’t been officially eliminated, since he didn’t get tossed over the top rope. Ziggler got back into the ring behind Ryder and eliminated him, which got big heat. Ziggler was announced the winner and showboated a bit before CM Punk’s music hit.
Punk came out to another great pop and Justin Roberts reminded the crowd that the bout was for the WWE Championship. Vickie Guerrero was ringside supporting Ziggler as usual. Punk took control early on with kicks to the gut before Ziggler Irish whipped Punk. Ziggler leap-frogged over Punk and Punk took him down with a few clotheslines. The sequence was then repeated in reverse, with Punk jumping over Ziggler. Punk remained in control with a vertical suplex, then clotheslined Ziggler out of the ring. Ziggler reeled on the outside while Punk waited in the ring. Punk taunted Ziggler by doing jumping jacks, which the fans liked. Ziggler eventually got back in and countered Punk’s offense immediately. Ziggler threw Punk shoulder-first into the ring post and hit a famouser for a close two-count. Ziggler picked up Punk, looking to hit the Zig Zag, but Punk countered and got Ziggler on his shoulders for the Go To Sleep. Ziggler wriggled out and kicked Punk in the knee before hitting another big famouser. This time, the count was so close that there was a very audible gasp from the crowd before the kickout. Punk got to his feet and Ziggler tried to whip him into the corner, but Punk reversed it. Punk hit his running knee/bulldog signature and called for the Go To Sleep. He got Ziggler up and hit it for the three count.
Punk celebrated with the title and began greeting the fans in the front row. When he got to the announce table, he picked up Jerry Lawler‘s crown and put it on, posing for pictures. He high-fived all the fans around the ring and up the entrance ramp, even going to the far sides next to the TitanTron setup. He went back to the ring afterwards to pose once more and wave to the crowd before exiting. Roberts thanked the crowd for coming to end the show.
John Cena got overwhelming boos to start the show, but as it progressed, he got more support. By the end of the show, the cheers outweighed the boos.