The TLC pay per view is in six days, and without WWE Champion CM Punk, interest has taken a serious hit. Going on stub hub, tickets have dropped to nearly half of what they were just a week ago. WWE needs to give us reason to believe Ziggler can hold on to his MITB briefcase, and find something for all of the other talent to do. As far as PPV sales go, this is a pretty important edition of Monday Night Raw.
The show opens trying to do just that, with Dolph Ziggler in the ring, on a ladder, with the briefcase right above his head. He goes into all of Cena’s failed attempts at winning a championship since MITB, and how he keeps getting handed opportunities because he’s the golden boy. He says Cena won’t have a merry Christmas, and that after he beats Cena he will cash in his briefcase on Big Show and win the World Heavyweight Championship. It was a pretty good promo. Sheamus comes out to declare that Ziggler would have to beat him instead, because he is going to beat Show at TLC. He also says Ziggler has to beat Cena first which he doesn’t think will happen. He then predicts a Cena/Sheamus match for the World Heavyweight Championship. That brings out Big Show who says he’ll take them both out. Sheamus and Show then spend more time recalling the last week of their feud than the open did, with Sheamus deciding that since he can’t attack Show now (due to a contract keeping them from fighting before TLC) he’ll push down the ladder Ziggler is on instead. That is no way to treat a future champion. Dolph falls off the ladder and onto the rope crotch first, and a Cena/Show match is scheduled as the main event.
Kofi Kingston and Antonio Cesaro are at the announce table for the first match of the night, putting Wade Barrett against R-Truth, who are their opponents at TLC. Before they get started however, Vince McMahon prances out (really, he does) to call out Vickie Guerrero out for more of their back and forth banter. Vince wants more main events, so he makes Vickie book Sheamus in a match against Dolph Ziggler. When asked to come up with a third match, Vickie suggests AJ, and Vince decides to have Vickie be her opponent. The whole match turns into a reason for Cesaro and Kofi to argue. Cesaro says Kofi has no class and Kofi makes fun of Cesaro’s man purse. So he’s taking cues from Jerry Lawler now. The match only goes a few minutes as Truth spins out of a pump handle slam to roll up Barrett for the win. Truth gets in Cesaro’s face and Kofi hits Barrett with a frog splash off the top rope. For some reason all of these guys are being thrown together into one big feud. None of them can do anything without the others getting involved. With three hours of show you’d think they wouldn’t have to cross stories.
Backstage AJ (in her home state of New Jersey) is running around grabbing everyone to brag about getting her match. She then runs into the men’s locker room to find Cena, and this time everyone is in towels and Cena freaks out because a girl is there. For some reason she covers AJ’s body with a towel, even though she is the most dressed person on screen. Cena is freaked out, and he takes her out of the locker room so they can talk. If he dumps her, she will screw him at TLC and side with Ziggler. I can almost guarantee it.
Cody Rhodes (and his sweet new mustache) makes his return to the ring in a four team elimination tag match, as the Rhodes Sholars go against Epico and Primo, the Prime Time Players, and the Usos. The winner will meet Mysterio and Sin Cara in a tables match to determine who the number one contenders are for the tag team championship. Sandow did a lot of good on his own, and the Rhodes Sholars come out to his music. Good sign for Sandow. Lawler says he bought Rosa a wooden leg for Christmas. Why? It makes a great stocking stuffer(oof)! The Usos and Epico and Primo spend way to long starting the match, Despite neither one of them being referred to by name, the Usos eliminate Epico and Primo. Then during the commercial break the Prime Time Players get eliminated. That’s how fast their star has fallen. They didn’t even get to perform on TV. Meanwhile the Usos have control over the Rhodes Scholars and they still haven’t been referred to individually. A “Cody’s mustache” chant starts as he gets in the ring for the first time and shifts the momentum. I know I don’t know which Uso is who, but it doesn’t seem like Cole and Lawler do either. Every time it sounds like they are going to say a name, they start talking about something else. Rhodes puts his knees up to block a splash from the top rope, hits the Cross Rhodes and the Rhodes Scholars win the match. Looks like someone is on the Rhode to recovery (EH!? EH!? eh). Match was fine, just didn’t see enough of it. Usos could be in line for a push by the looks of things. Whoever they are.
Looks like we’ll have two Divas matches tonight, as before AJ meets Vickie, Eve is now in the ring to face Alicia Fox. Fox actually holds her own and looks good doing it, but Eve wins anyway. After the match she calls the ringside photographer into the ring and poses next to Fox while she’s still on the floor. Okay, that was a pretty good spot.
CM Punk is on the entrance stage and on crutches with Paul Heyman. I’m kid of surprised he isn’t in a wheelchair. He says he knows some people think the injury is phony and that he’s just ducking Ryback. Does someone actually think that? He says this injury is what happens when you’re the hardest working champion in history and goes into the streak and the Jersey crowd loves him. They show the incident that “injured Punk” and Heyman berated the crowd for chanting “Feed me more” during the footage. He even slams the Devils because that’s the only team Jersey has, and says Punk doesn’t have a stunt double like the Rock does. Why not start the hype on Punk/Rock a week early. They announce that Punk will defend his title against the Rock at Royal Rumble and essentially says a lot of the things Cena said about the Rock before ‘Mania, including Rock only showing up for his matches while Punk is there everyday. Punk says he’s beaten everyone who has tried to take his belt has failed, and Rock will do the same thing. He then says he’s going to sit and watch the Shield, who he “has nothing to do with,” beat Ryback. This is pretty much all you can do with Punk until he can compete.
Time for the first main event of the night, and it’s Dolph Ziggler against Sheamus. Early on it’s hard not to notice Ziggler’s thigh wrapped. It wasn’t wrapped at the start of the show. Hopefully it’s minor. Sheamus immediately goes after the leg so it’s all a work and I just got got. Selling a leg injury before a ladder match? Does he need any more obstacles going against Cena? The crowd is chanting “let’s go Ziggler.” I’m so proud. With few exceptions Sheamus provides all the offense while Ziggler gets tossed around. Essentially is both men doing what they do best. Outside the ring Ziggler hit a jumping fameasser off the steel stairs to gain control. Sheamus hulks up and starts coming back but Dolph ducks away as Sheamus spears himself into the ring post. Ziggler goes for a cross body splash off the second rope but Sheamus catches him and throws him down. Sheamus then goes to the top rope but Dolph takes him down with an X-Factor off the rope. Ziggler then escapes half of Sheamus’ signature moves before finally succumbing to an Irish curse backbreaker. Dolph ducks out of the ring to avoid the Brogue Kick and ends the match by attacking Sheamus with a chair. He gets a few shots in until Sheamus hits Ziggler with a Brouge Kick through the steel chair. Great match. Good work all around.
Backstage Vickie is a little tight as Khali and Hornswaggle try to help her stretch. Vince McMahon walks in on the display and it looks all sorts of not good, leading McMahon to say, “I thought this was supposed to be a family show.” Wakka wakka wakka! This is followed by a Shield home video promo that looks like the Joker tapes to Batman in Dark Knight. It was actually pretty good. They mention their attacks on Miz and Randy Orton, explaining their reasons for each, then saying Ryback was thrown onto a pedestal without deserving it and they just knocked him back down. Hell yeah!
In the ring, Alberto Del Rio faces off against Zack Ryder. Being in the tri-state area you know the Long Island boy would have to make an appearance. Ryder controls early but gives way to Del Rio when Alberto predicts Ryder’s knee to the face move in the corner. Alberto taunts the fist pump before hitting the enziguri on Ryder’s arm, followed by a very awkward axe handle smash off the top rope. Ryder finally hits the double knee in the corner but misses with the Broski Boot, giving Del Rio the opening the apply the arm breaker and win the match. The perfectly acceptable and average match.
During breaks they are all about the Slammy Award coming up next week. So I guess that’s happening.
Up next is the second “main event” of the night, with AJ and Vickie Guerrero. Vickie has no music, and that’s the coolest thing about this. The only thing missing is the referee. They both start yelling for one when suddenly, Brad Maddox comes down the ramp in referee attire. I guess Vince has no issue with this. Bell rings and Vickie jumps AJ, turning it into a slapfest. It’s horrible. Pretty much impossible to watch. Just a lot of sprawling around. AJ knocks out Vickie with a slap (yup) bit Maddox won’t make the pin count. AJ gets up to argue with Maddox and Vickie rolls up AJ as Brad has a not that fast three count, and the match is mercifully over. AJ then has the temper tantrum of all temper tantrums, throwing chairs and props all over the place, highlighted by an awesome bitch slap on the ring announcer before stomping back up the ramp. I get the feeling we’ll be returning to this later. By later I guess I mean immediately because after the break Cena was trying to calm her down. What better way to do that than with a big hug. Cena has that look on his face that guys get when they see how many cats their new girlfriend has the first time they go to her apartment. Bad news.
Kofi Kingston now set to face Antonio Cesaro, who does a classic job dissing New Jersey. I’m most surprised that Barrett and Truth are not at the announce table for the match. They start off slow with Cesaro applying various holds. Kofi tries to pick up the tempo but is countered each time. Antonio misses one move however and Kofi gets into his signature routine. Cesaro gets out of the ring before Kofi can attempt the Boom Drop and they are on even ground. A really nice sequence follows with Cesaro powering out of a roll up attempt, with Kofi leaping over Cesaro to try rolling up Antonio again, ending with a modified suplex. Very well done. Kofi went for an SOS but Cesaro countered with an uppercut to the back of the head for a two count. Kofi then does pull off the SOS but Cesaro grabbed the bottom rope to hold off defeat. Kingston then went for a splash off the top rop but Cesaro caught him in mid air and hit him with a back breaker in one motion. Neutralizer, pin, Cesaro wins. As good as Ziggler/Sheamus was, this was match of the night. Cesaro is really good.
What better way to follow up a great match than with Miz TV. At the very least he has the Rhodes Scholars as guests. Sandow reintroduces us to his tag team partner (and best friend) Cody Rhodes. Crowd is still all about Cody’s mustache. After all the solid mic work, Miz responds by saying he “mustache” him a question (get it?). He makes fun of the mustache and tells them Mysterio and Sin Cara will make them go down “harder than Manny Pacquiao in the sixth.” They demand Miz asks better questions, and Miz starts trying to cause a rift between the two, saying Sandow claims he carries the team and didn’t visit Cody when he was hurt. Rhodes doesn’t go for it though, says Miz looks like Colonel Sanders and storms off. The segment ends with Miz deciding that the Rhodes Scholars should change there name to “The Pink and the Stink.” Not exactly thrilled with Miz TV. Backstage AJ tells Cena she wants to be ringside for his match against Show, but Cena talks her out of it. We may be seeing the triumphant return of Cray-J.
Staying with the Divas, the YouTube pre show for TLC will feature a Divas battle royal to determine the number one contender. They do that a lot don’t they?
Dolph Ziggler is at the announce table for the main main event, John Cena versus the Big Show. They showed a girl flat out crying in joy at the mere sight of Cena. Do I really need to describe a Cena/Show match at this point? Show dominates, Cena rallies, blah blah blah. Bigger spots include Cena turning a chokeslam into a DDT (which always look awkward on Big Show) and a Big Show spear. Cole asks Ziggler about why he hasn’t cashed in his briefcase yet and Dolph turns it into a credit to Show never being vulnerable enough to create an opportunity. Also, they are both heels. So there’s that. They also bring up the idea of Ziggler cashing it in at the end of this match, which would make the PPV match worthless. That would be fantastic. I feel like they would then turn it into a World Heavyweight Championship match though and we don’t need Cena winning that. When asked about his leg injury Ziggler kind of side stepped the question. Not sure how I feel about that. Big Show takes Cena outside the ring and with John down, Show stares down the ref during the 10 count, waiting until the 7 count to get back in the ring and pull up Cena by his head (kind of). A missed second rope splash from Show gets the five moves of doom started. Big Show gets up right after the Five Knuckle Shuffle however and hits Cena with a chokeslam and a two count. Cena then ducks under the KO punch and hits an Attitude Adjustment leaving both men down.
At this point Shield comes out to attack John Cena. They get ready to put him through a table when Kane and Daniel Bryan come out. As they fight the Shield, Ziggler steps in to attack Cena and Big Show helps. Sheamus then runs out to attack Ziggler since he can’t touch Show. Show meanwhile tries to chokeslam Cena through a table leaning in the corner, but Cena reverses and spears Show into it instead. Sheamus tosses Ziggler around the outside as Shield handles Kane and Bryan in the ring, while the whole time the crowd chants “Feed Me More.” Finally Ryback comes out, gets a big pop, throws a ladder into the ring at Shield, and starts attacking them. Eventually Kane, Bryan and Ryback each go against one member of Shield, while Cena and Show are still fighting. The show ends with Cole yelling “LOOK OUT” over and over. Fine match, but after all that I’m wondering why Ryback isn’t in a handicap match against Shield, since he seems to be the only think that matters when deciding who is winning. Somehow AJ listened and did not appear ringside. Crap.
So now with TLC coming up next, there isn’t really one match that I’m very into. Orton, Del Rio and Miz still have nothing to do. Triple threat match to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship after TLC? Kofi and Barrett should be good. Curious about Cena/Ziggler. Not really feeling Shield versus Ryback and friends. The more I think about it, right now I’m most looking forward to seeing the Rhodes Scholars most likely beat Mysterio and Sin Cara. That sums up my thoughts on TLC in a nutshell.
In a PPV card, I’m most looking forward to a match involving Sin Cara. That can’t be good.