The only real promotion toward this week’s Raw was the interview Michael Cole did with the NXT trio that keeps attacking Ryback (not good). Now for the second week in a row, Raw leads off with Ryback (really not good). At least this time he didn’t do any talking before his match started. Instead he stuck to his strength, squash matches. He tossed around Titus O’Neil, which is a shame because he and Darren Young were so good last week. Ryback waited until the end of the match to grab the mic, and do the same routine he did last week, refusing to leave the ring until CM Punk came out. I might as well just put a link to last week’s recap at this point.
Instead he is greeted by a security team to get him out of the ring. For some reason, one of the guards steps out to stare Ryback down, and he gets thrown out of the ring. Vickie comes out and just like last week, she demands that Ryback leaves the ring. Ryback demands that she gives him a tables ladders and chairs match at TLC (how convenient). Vickie keeps trying to agree to the match but Ryback keeps cutting him off to yell at her more. It makes absolutely no sense. This segment could have been so much shorter. So it’s Punk and Ryback at TLC. Again. This episode already sucks.
Backstage Rosa is yelling at Hornswaggle for squirting her in the face with water. Eventually Del Rio comes out to defend his main squeeze in the making, as does Khali to defend his little buddy. Consequently, they are having a match next. Even money says Hornswaggle will get one over on Ricardo Rodriguez. They don’t even wait until they return from break to start the match. Khali smacks Del Rio in each corner as Rosa watches on TV in the back. She’s not allowed to watch ringside? Del Rio takes out Khali’s leg and starts working the arm from the mat. Since Khali can’t stand up from the laying down position this is bad news for the Punjobber. Somehow however, Khali comes back and hits the big chop. Ricardo distracts Khali however, and while Hornswaggle bit Rodriguez’s butt to keep him away (pay me) Del Rio applies the cross arm breaker to take the match. Rosa Mendez rejoices.
Backstage again, Punk and Heyman are trying to get Vickie to cancel Punk’s match against Ryback. It all turns into Vickie accusing Punk of being in cahoots with the NXT guys. She then throws Punk into a match against the superstar of the fan’s choosing. The options are Kane and Daniel Bryan. If Bryan doesn’t get voted in I’ll be pissed. Meanwhile, if I didn’t know better I’d say Vickie is turning face. Instead I think she’s just against everybody but Dolph Ziggler. Aren’t we all?
Time for Cole’s interview with Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns. For some reason they are dressed like black ops guys. They flat out deny they are working with Punk, and say they figured out that the WWE is just one big popularity contest (true) and that it is not fair to the biggest talent available. They say that helping Punk is just a coincidence. They respect Punk’s run and would have jumped out no matter who interfered in his celebration last week. They shut people like me up by saying they are not the Nexus, not the NWO (while plugging the DVD). Ambrose, definitely the leader, goes into a rant about bringing in honor where it no longer exists and that they will shield the WWE from injustice. Then, like they just made it up on the spot, he says that they are “The Shield.” Really weird segment, but at least I don’t have to call them the NXT guys. They are totally the new new Nexus. Ambrose is pretty damn good. Reigns seems like the Mason Ryan of the group. I don’t have a feel for Rollins, but if there is going to be a weak link, so far it’s him. After the clip, Cole says he believes they aren’t dealing with Punk, to which Lawler says bullshit under his breath. Really.
Tamina and her ugly new gear beat Alicia as a warning to AJ not to mess with Vickie Guerrero. That was the only thing shown between commercials. Leading up to John Cena coming out. We’re still not completely sure if Cena’s injury is real or a work. Regardless, he limped his way to the ring and hasn’t had a match since Survivor Series. Just a bunch of appearances. He starts to brag about kissing AJ, shown Vickie comes out to brag about being right about Cena and AJ. She says it’s only a matter of time before Cena’s life comes crashing down on him. She cites Kane, Bryan and Punk as examples, which would make sense if they all weren’t doing so well ring now. AJ comes out to says she is trying to be a better person and WHO CARES! AJ says what we already knew, that since she isn’t GM she can date whoever she wants. She starts molesting Cena before Vickie stops her (thank you), and Dolph Ziggler interferes to brag about beating up Cena. He then said Cena jumped him on Smackdown because he knows AJ was really wishing it was Ziggler she was kissing. Vickie books and Cena/Ziggler match, and we’ll see if Cena actually makes it to the ring.
Wade Barrett ringside to scout Kofi Kingston in his match against Tensai. Barrett announced that he will challenge Barrett at TLC for the Intercontinental Championship. I like that Barrett is getting a push. I just hope we don’t have to wait to long before he gets a heavyweight title shot. Kofi beat Tensai because Tensai doesn’t win, and Barrett brings the IC belt to Kofi. That means he’s serious about beating him, or something.
Typically, Daniel Bryan gets screwed by the fans and Kane has been chosen to face Punk. How can anyone not want another Punk/Bryan match? The tag team champs turned it into a presidential vote spoof, showing the national favoring Bryan (as the blues states) only for Kane to win (red rules! get it?). Bryan instead faces Rey Mysterio for the first time. Could be interesting. Bryan pushed Mysterio, who held Bryan’s arms with his legs and took them both over the ropes. Bryan then dodged Mysterio to hit a high knee off the end of the ring. It’s nice seeing Bryan not just be the whipping boy for a change. By the way, Mysterio has a bright red goatee. Bryan teased a Mexican surfboard on the Mexican wrestler, but instead just pulls his nose. Oh what could have been. Rey fights off a superplex attempt and starts hitting his signature moves. He misses the 619 and Bryan applies the NO lock, but Mysterio reaches the ropes. Bryan goes for it again but Rey turns it into a toe drag onto the second turnbuckle. Mysterio then lands a 619 going around the ring post and goers the win. Very good match, specifically considering it wasn’t completely planned. Backstage, Rosa and Del Rio are STILL FLIRTING. When did Raw become The Hills? When did I start talking about The Hills?
Dolph Ziggler versus John Cena next. If they fight now how will they book them at TLC? Suddenly Cena’s limp is completely gone. They are still talking like he’s on one leg though. Before the match, Ziggler said Cena would be distracted by all this AJ crap. It’s all Cena early and yeah, he’s fine. Dolph hits a front facing neck breaker to get back into it. He has one of the more interesting move sets out there. Ziggler controls the middle of the match so that Super Cena can show up at the end. Ziggler kicks Cena in the middle of the five knuckle shuffle and lands a jumping DDT for a two count. Cena then gets out of a sleeper hold to apply the STF but Ziggler reached the rope and hits a standing dropkick. I know I gush too much about Ziggler but he’s really got the best dropkick in the business. He then reverses out of the Attitude Adjustment to connect on a Zig Zag but Cena kicked out. This is when things got weird. Cena again goes for the five knuckle shuffle, but horribly pretends to tweak his ankle and goes outside the ring. Meanwhile, Dolph starts removing a turnbuckle pad when AJ comes out to stop him. Vickie comes out to stop her and the ref then goes to stop them (follow?). With the ref distracted, Dolph tries to hit Cena with the MITB briefcase, but misses and gets an AA for his effort. Cena wins, sells the ankle injury and makes out with AJ. Great match, crap ending.
Keeping momentum going for a change, that match is followed with Sheamus versus Antonio Cesaro. Sheamus’ match against Big Show for TLC will officially be a chairs match. Just chairs? If someone uses a kendo stick he gets DQ’d? They trade moves and work pretty well with each other. Sheamus drives Cesaro into the outside wall, Cesaro pulls Sheamus’ face down into the steel steps. Attack, counter attack. That’s pretty much the match. Michael Cole is siding with Cesaro, and throughout the night he’s been siding more with the heels. Now that Lawler is in good health, are they having him revert back to being the heel announcer? It would be a shame. He’s much more tolerable this way and JBL is the best heel announcer going right now, and he just happens to have a great repartee with Cole. Cesaro escapes the Irish Cloverleaf and hits a huge fireman’s carry power move but only gets a two count. He then counters Sheamus’ flying shoulder with an uppercut, but Sheamus escapes the neutralizer to land a Brogue kick, knocking Antonio out of the ring. Cesaro is making the same statement with Sheamus that Ziggler made against Cena. They can go toe to toe with the faces of this company. They are ready. As Cesaro gets counted out, Big Show appears at the ramp with a chair and Sheamus cuts a promo saying he’ll use as many chair shots as it takes to take the title from Show. He promises the match will be as barbaric as anyone has ever seen, and Big Show destroys the chair he was holding in retort. In my mind, when I think of a chair match I can’t avoid thinking of musical chairs. Now THAT’S a chair match! Two great matches in a row on Raw. Can we go for three?
Damien Sandow comes out to the ramp. We’re off to a good start. He grabs the mic and says he’ll dismantle his mouth breathing miscreant of an opponent, who just happens to be Zack Ryder. Sandow is so good at drawing heat from the crowd. Again, Cole sides with Sandow. Ryder is going with the Brobusters logo all over his gear, and that’s the best thing about him. Sandow dominates Ryder for most of the match, until Zack counters with a high knee. Sandow ducks outside to avoid the Broski Boot, but then gets caught with it outside the ring. Back in the ring, Sandow knocks Ryder off the top rope, hits his finisher and wins. CARTWHEELS! Not a third great match, but it was a good one for sure.
After a replay of the Cole/Shield interview (they actually showed the entire thing), we go to the Punk/Kane main event. I’m still bitter that it’s not Bryan, but I can’t be that surprised when the WWE Universe let’s me down. Cole made sure to mention Punk’s appearances at the Chicago Thanksgiving Day parade and the Walking Dead which Punk was so vocal about criticizing the WWE for not promoting more beforehand. Good to see Punk in a real match on Raw again. Punk spends most of the match trying to chop down Kane (with chops) while Kane hits an occasional high impact move. Punk then suddenly starts selling a tweak to his left knee, which Cole quickly mentions the bandage wrapped around. The injury doesn’t affect him two much as he follows it with a couple of running high knees. Kane dodges the third however and takes control. Kane sets up for the chokeslam but Punk turns it into a swinging neck breaker. Kane catches Punk jumping off the top rope however and lands the chokeslam, but Heyman pulls Punk closer to the rope so he can negate a pin. Kane then goes for a tombstone until he sees the Shield standing in the crowd. Punk takes advantage and hits a GTS for the win. Another solid match on a good overall card. Shield then comes into the ring to attack Kane. Bryan comes out to help Kane and gets beaten up as well. Punk stays away and Ryback finally comes out. He takes out Shield but Punk jumps him from behind. Ryback lifts Punk for a power bomb but gets speared by Reigns. Shield again gangs up on Ryback, hitting him with a three man power bomb for the third time. Shield poses for the crowd and leaves, again leaving Punk alone to stand over Ryback to end the show. All of a sudden Punk has a lot of positive momentum. Due to the reverse trend theory, does this mean Ryback might actually win the WWE Championship at TLC? I doubt it but it was still a pretty damn good episode of Raw.