Daniel chi / Asst. photo editor
“Feed me more! Feed me more! Feed me more!”
Chants from a raucous crowd boomed throughout Nationwide Arena Monday, encouraging World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Ryback’s performance in Columbus for “WWE Monday Night Raw.”
Ryback, whose real name is Ryan Reeves, got his revenge against the man who cost him the WWE Championship at the event “Hell in a Cell” about two weeks ago in Atlanta. Brad Maddox, the referee who helped CM Punk (Phillip Jack Brooks) retain the WWE Championship, didn’t stand a chance against the 291-pound monster Ryback.
When Maddox (Brent Wellington) walked into the arena before his match, he was met with an ambulance and stretcher, which brought a worried look to his face and cheers from the crowd.
During the match, Ryback went into an all-out assault early, but then took his time marching around the ring with Maddox on his shoulders and slamming him to the ground.
Although the match was over, Ryback wasn’t finished. He continued the assault against Maddox and threw him in the ambulance, drawing more cheers from the crowd.
In the night’s main event, John Cena squared off against Punk, who has held the title of WWE Champion for almost a year.
Toward the end of the match, Punk decided he was done fighting Cena and left the ring, only to be met by Ryback. After more chants of “Feed me more,” Punk got back into the ring and eventually lost to Cena. Punk still holds the title of WWE Champion but is scheduled to square off Sunday against Cena and Ryback in the “Survivor Series” in Indianapolis.
“Raw” also brought back a king from a nine-week absence. Jerry “The King” Lawler, commentator and former WWE wrestler who suffered a heart attack during the Sept. 10 “Raw” episode, had his triumphant return to the commentator’s table.
Chants of “Jerry” resonated throughout the crowd. Lawler said the return was “overwhelming” and expressed his appreciation to the crowd.
Randy Orton, better known by his nicknames “The Viper” or “The Apex Predator,” kicked off the live segment of “WWE Monday Night Raw” by defeating Dolph Ziggler (Cleveland-native Nicholas Nemeth).
Orton, with the help of a wild Columbus crowd, said he heard “voices in his head” and prevailed against early attacks from Ziggler to win his match.
However, neither competitor was done for the night. Alberto Del Rio (Alberto Rodriguez) came out to beat up Orton after the match, but with help from Kofi Kingston (Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah), Orton was able to break free.
All of this led to a tag-team rematch – Orton and Kingston against Ziggler and Del Rio. But in the end, Del Rio’s brutal kick to Kingston was too much.
Throughout the night, WWE’s recognition for United States war veterans garnered applause, standing ovations and “USA” chants from the crowd.
The biggest soap opera moment of the night involved Cena and WWE Diva AJ Lee (April Jeanette Mendez). Vickie Guerrero, Ziggler’s manager and current “Raw” managing supervisor who took over for Lee, revealed evidence of a possible relationship between Cena and Lee.
After playing supposed voicemails Lee left for Cena, and after Ziggler mocked Cena in Lee’s face, Cena came storming out from backstage to pummel Ziggler.
However, Lee stopped Cena before he could do any damage, only to hit Ziggler first. After that, it was Cena’s turn to unload on Ziggler, who eventually left the ring with Guerrero.
Other fights that took place during “Raw” included some “big” and “great” stars.
Paul Wight, better known as “The Big Show,” crushed his opponent William Regal (Darren Kenneth Matthews) in no time at all. In less than two minutes, the 7-foot, 441-pound giant unleashed enormous blows to Regal’s chest and huge slams to the ground to win the match.
Before “Raw” went live, the crowd was treated to another giant, The Great Khali (Dalip Singh Rana). The 7-foot-1, 347-pound wrestler from India was on the attack right away in his match against JTG (Jayson Anthony Paul). The match was over within five minutes.
Some attendees who traveled across the state for the show were pleased with what they saw.
Robert Giermann and Mark Zarefoss, 23-year-olds from Cleveland, said they were excited to see “Raw” in Columbus.
“It’s pretty cool. We were fans when we were younger and we just wanted to make the trek down for the show because they don’t have one in Cleveland,” Giermann said. “But it was cool to see some of the guys that we knew when we were younger and some of the bigger names now.”
Giermann also said Nationwide Arena was a great place for the event.
“What’s cool about this arena is everything’s close together, so pretty much wherever you sit, you’re not far away from the action,” Giermann said.
“Raw” is scheduled to be in Ohio next week as well, traveling to Wright State University’s Nutter Center Monday in Dayton.
Daniel Chi contributed to this story.