Tag Archives: eve

Shield Banned From Rock/Punk Match After Attack On Raw

RAW_1026_Photo_135You don’t need to be a smark to notice that last week’s 20th anniversary show was nothing special. Aside from some montages there was no big hoopla. No big guest appearances. It was average at best. The only things that did come out of it were Eve losing the Divas Championship and quitting (to get married and become a trainer or something) and CM Punk continuing to have the edge on the Rock. Punk has come out and been the aggressor on both confrontations so far. He has come out first to essentially tell everyone that the Rock is going to do the same tired schtick he has done for years, and it doesn’t matter because Punk is just going to beat him in the ring. Then the Rock comes out and does the same old schtick, proving Punk right and not hitting quite as hard as he did with Cena last year. Not only that, but Punk went after Rock last week starting a brawl. What kind of heel does that? Against Ryback, Punk was the coward. He ran away whenever possible and looked week. Classic heel form. But now he’s dropping pipe bombs and fighting back again. This is the kind of Punk that grabbed everyone’s attention over a year ago. If only the rest of the show can reach that same level. With one week before the Royal Rumble (where the Rock is expected the beat Punk and Cena wins the rumble) business needs to pick up.

Oh yeah, happy Martin Luther King Day.

Vickie Guerrero kicks off the show (not the start I was hoping for) by going to the ring while being escorted by Paul Heyman (interesting). They were the main people to be dissed by Rock during his concert last week, and are joining forces against him. Heyman even went on to describe Vickie as the best and sexiest GM in WWE history (funny since she isn’t GM). Vickie decides to ban Rock from entering the arena, and will be arrested if he does show up. Vickie is then alerted to the fact that the Rock is outside the arena, and she cuts to the Rock telling the guards that he will get in the ring no matter what. Rock then tells the police to arrest Punk for impersonating a champion, Paul Heyman for not wearing a bra, and that Guerrero has her head up her ass if she thinks she’s keeping him out of the ring. Rock says it’s a matter of when, not if he gets in the ring tonight. Guerrero finished the segment by asking if we smell what the “Vick” is cooking. Not interested.

The card for tonight features the “Beat The Clock Challenge” in which the superstar who wins his match the fastest can choose where he will enter the Royal Rumble. The first match of the challenge puts the American flag waving Antonio Cesaro against the disgruntled Randy Orton. Both men start the match by trying roll up pins, then switching to trading head locks. Cesaro wants the ref to ask Orton if he quits in the middle of a headlock. This match bites and for the most part, Orton is in charge. Seven minutes in (they are keeping a timer on screen) Cesaro puts up Orton for a superplex. Orton fights him off so Cesaro shoves him off the top rope to the outside of the ring. A gut wrench suplex gets a two count as does a swinging body slam. Orton then sets up for the second rope DDT but Cesaro turns it into a jackknife cutter for a 2 count, then hits Orton with an uppercut for another 2 count. Orton rolls out of the ring after being tossed into the ring post, and when Cesaro throws him back in he glances at the clock and Randy takes advantage of the distraction by hitting an RKO to win the match at 11:36. One of those classic Orton matches where the opponent dominates, only to get hit with an RKO out of nowhere to lose the match. Pretty sure 11:36 isn’t going to do it.

Squash of the night
Squash of the night

Zack Ryder out next to job to Big Show. Show will get a rematch at the Royal Rumble against Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship in another last man standing match. It turns out the only reason Del Rio got the title in the first place was because the Big Show’s contract had expired and it was possible that that would be his last match with the WWE. Show has now agreed to a new contract and while it doesn’t appear that Alberto will lose the title anytime soon, it will be interesting to see where they go with Big Show from here. Brad Maddox hops over the barrier to add commentary (not sure how he gets to without a contract) as Big Show hits Ryder with some punches in the corner, a head butt, a body slam, a chop and finally a KO Punch to end the match. Show then grabs a mic and starts counting to 10 with Ryder still down, showing what will happen to Del Rio. The crowds gives him the “what” chant, setting Show off. He yells back at the crowd and storms off. Maddox takes a picture of himself and Cole before taking off.

Backstage Maddox is still trying to get Paul Heyman help him get a job in the WWE. Instead of berating him like he normally doesn, Heyman says he respects Maddox’s ambition and initiative, and tells Brad he will make his dreams come true. Say what?

In the ring, Ryback is taking on Heath Slater with the rest of 3MB in his corner. Ever see a Ryback match that didn’t involve CM Punk? That’s what this was. After the meathook clothesline, McIntyre jumps in and gets knocked out by Ryback. Ryback then pulls Mahal in and throws him into McIntyre outside the ring. Slater gets hit with Shell Shocked and wins the match. He then grabs the mic and says “Damn, my job is fun.” (WTF!?) He continues to say that he was made for the Royal Rumble and that he will win it and go to WrestleMania. He needs a manager in the worst way.

Backstage, the Rock is still trying to talk his way into the arena. He tells the cops that the people want him in the arena. One cop says that he had tickets for tonight’s show but he had to work instead. Rock was going to try getting the cop’s ticket but Vickie stepped in. Vickie says she’ll lift the ban if he apologizes. Rock says he’ll get in the arena on his own terms and that Vickie still looks horrible. Vickie storms off and the Rock looks like he’s getting the police involved in a plan to get into the arena.

CM Punk in the ring to address the crowd. Yes, there are a couple of cookie puss signs but, based on how they look, the San Jose crowd doesn’t seem to know what that actually means yet. Punk says he holds the WWE Championship more dearly than most people hold their families. He worked half his life to get it and he won’t allow anyone, including the Rock, to take it from him. The Rock is here to entertain and tell jokes while he is here to hurt people and be the champion. Punk says he has made the WWE Championship too important to let the Rock have it, while what is important to the Rock is the people, which is stupid. He says the Rock is almost as proud of being the people’s champion as Punk is of being a real champion. Punk says he chose honest arrogance over hypocritical humility while the Rock foolishly chose the people instead. Punk says you can call the Rock electrifying and entertaining but you can’t call him champion but it takes blood, sweat and tears, and Punk has earned that right. Punk tells the Rock to enjoy the days leading up to the Royal Rumble, spalling hands and winking at fans, because Punk realized that the fans don’t matter. They can’t give the Rock the title and it will stay with CM Punk. Great promo. He was staring daggers through the camera the entire time. Fantastic. Too bad he’s going to lose on Sunday.

Really? This is a figure four? Really?
Really? This is a figure four? Really?

Dolph Ziggler out with AJ and Big E in another beat the clock match against the Miz. Miz starts strong with a dropkick and a roll up but can’t get the 3 count. The pace is very fast with a lot of back and forth pin sequences. The crowd is all Ziggler. No wonder they want to turn him face soon. Miz takes out Ziggler’s knee and starts wearing it down. They are really going through with Miz using the figure four. He goes for it but Ziggler pushes him out of the ring. Dolph distracts the ref while Langston shoves Miz into the ring. Ziggler maintains control but with four minutes left to beat Orton’s time, Miz pulls off a couple of surprise roll ups but can’t keep him down. Miz then hits a double axe handle off the top rope for another 2 count. Miz goes for a Skull Crushing Finale but Ziggler rolls him up. Miz then rolls Dolph over for his own pin attempt, grabbing the tight and showing Dolph’s ass in the process (to which Cole says “any means necessary!”). Ziggler kicks out and hits a jumping DDT for a two count. Miz then applies a horrible version of the figure four. I mean really bad. AJ then distracts the ref so Big E can pull Dolph toward the rope to break the hold. Langston then fakes hitting Miz to distract him long enough for Ziggler to land a Zig Zag  and take the win with 40 seconds to spare. Very good match and I can’t believe Miz gets the use the figure four. The new time to beat is 10:56.

Today, we're all tag team champions
Today, we’re all tag team champions

Back from break, Dr. Shelby is in the ring for an Anger Management graduation ceremony! I know you’re wondering if they are wearing caps and gowns and you’re damn right they are! Bryan even slicked his hair to the side for the occasion. Shelby says Bryan used to freak out if anyone said something about his goat face or how his beard looks like a hotel for rats (burn!), to which Kane calms him down. Shelby says that the top student is named valedictorian, and asks Kane and Bryan who they think it should be. They each say the other should be valedictorian and should share their feelings. They start arguing until Shelby stops them, suggesting that a hug would make them feel better. Shelby continues to say everyone, everywhere should hug, including Cole and Lawler. They then start pointing at random people in the audience making them hug, finally culminating in Kane, Bryan and Dr Shelby having a huge hug session to end the segment. What a way to end anger management. Let’s watch them lose their tag team titles on Sunday due to not getting along.

A much more glammed up Kaitlyn beat Alicia Fox with a spear after a missed high kick from Alicia. Fox actually looked pretty good in the match but she isn’t allowed to win anymore.

Backstage, Heyman sends Punk up to his personal skybox for what he is calling a “Paulbomb” aimed at the Rock. Heyman dedicates his speech at Punk, who is alone in the skybox like he snuck in somehow. He says that when Punk spoke, most of what he said went over the heads of the fans, so he will translate for them by keeping it simple. He says Vince McMahon is so desperate to have someone take the WWE Championship from Punk, that he has turned to the Rock who is just as stupid as the fans are if he thinks he is going to stop Punk’s title run. The Rock then comes out with the police officer’s ticket (which does let him in the arena) and gets in the ring (it does NOT allow him to do that). Heyman starts to make my point, but Rock calls him twinkie tits and makes him leave (I miss twinkies). With Punk still watching, Rock tells Punk this is his last Raw as champion and that despite all the entertaining he will still rip Punk’s face off. Rock promises a dozen times or so that he will beat Punk at the Royal Rumble. At the end of his speech the lights go out and the Shield starts attacking Rock. Triple power bomb and Rock is out. Punk then grabs a mic and says Rock isn’t great enough to beat the best in the world. Rock was spitting blood the entire time. Shiny candy blood. There needs to be a stipulation put in at some point where if there is any outside interference Punk loses the title. Otherwise Punk only loses because the Shield missed their flight or something.

I'd be distracted too
I’d be distracted too

The final beat the clock match puts Sheamus against Wade Barrett. This match is a lot more like the Orton/Cesaro match. I lot of clutching and sizing each other up. If time was a factor why wouldn’t Sheamus at least hint and trying a Brogue Kick right away? With five minutes remaining Barrett is in control but Sheamus hits a couple of running axe handles to take it back. Wade escapes white noise but Sheamus escapes a pump handle slam only for Barrett to duck under the Brogue Kick and hit Sheamus with a side kick to the gut and another one to the face with Sheamus on his knees. With two minutes to go Barrett hits an elbow off the second rope for a two count. Sheamus escapes Wasteland and hits White Noise with just over a minute to go. Sheamus sets Wade up for a Brogue Kick but AJ walks in the ring (with Ziggler and Langston ringside) to distract him. Barrett then hits a swinging side slam on Sheamus and the match continues. Sheamus hits a Brogue Kick with four seconds left but there isn’t enough time to pin him and Dolph Ziggler gets to pick what spots he enters the Royal Rumble at. Why can’t they just say you win the 30th spot in the rumble? Would someone pick anything else? 28? 15? Of course you want to go last. It’s a fine gimmick for the night but now we have to wait for the decision on where Dolph wants to enter? So dumb. Meanwhile I’m kind of annoyed he’ll be going in last. He’s a prime candidate to carry the rumble and be in for over an hour. Now he’ll be last and likely get thrown out last by Cena. Damn shame.

Backstage Dolph and AJ celebrate by making out in front of Vickie (my wife calls this the worst fake kissing ever, and she watches soaps). Ziggler of course goes with 30 but Vickie informs him that he only one the chance to choose between first and second at the rumble (what a twist!). See above for my thoughts on that. Punk and Heyman then run into Vince McMahon backstage and deny their involvement in the Shield incident. Vince then adds the stipulation that I suggested earlier, and if the Shield interferes in the Rock/Punk match CM Punk will be stripped of his title. Rock is soooo winning on Sunday. It would be incredibly epic if Punk retained though (leading to Rock winning at Elimination Chamber of course). Don’t be surprised if Brad Maddox ends up being the referee of the match.

Supermexican and World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio out, again without the car) to take on Tensai (which means buried in Japanese). Del Rio is Kofi Kingston happy right now. Tensai gets all his offense in early but Del Rio gets a boot up as Tensai came running in and it’s all Alberto from there. He gets the crowd chanting as he delivers the enziguri and finishes the match with a moonsalt of all things (that he just barely hits). Del Rio then says that he’ll beat Big Show on Sunday and counts to ten in spanish. Because he is spanish. Hey did you know Alberto Del Rio is from Mexico? Roberto Rodriguez gets another SI chant going and we’re done with wrestling for the night. Best match was Miz/Ziggler (no surprise) but none of them were that great.

It was announced that Bob Backlund will join Mick Foley to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. I’m surprised he wasn’t in there already. He held the title for 6 years for crying out loud!

Because why not?
Because why not?

The show finishes with John Cena addressing the crowd. Yup, that’s all he has to do today. He talks about how Sunday’s are for rest and having fun and makes a Black Ops II reference, admitting that his user name is skidmarks187. This is how the show is ending people! He always explains the Sunday of a girl who went out the night before and works out and hooks up with a fat guy and something about Brett Favre’ing (“and I don’t mean throwing a touchdown”). He then says this Sunday is different because of the Royal Rumble and how great it’s gonna be and blah blah blah. It’s not a promo about him winning. He’s just telling us to watch the event. They don’t do that enough already? Three hours of Raw each week, two hours of Smackdown, Main Event, Saturday Morning Slam. All they do is tell us to buy the next PPV and maybe a couple t-shirts. Anyway Cena wraps it up by saying he’s going to win the Rumble, followed by Sheamus, the Prime Time Players (remember them?), Randy Orton, the Miz, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro and 3MB coming out to do the same. Finally just about everyone on the roster comes out and a brawl starts in the ring. For some reason they go by Rumble rules and try throwing people over the top rope. No reason for this. Sheamus and Cena specifically throw a bunch of guys out. Then a few people are shown trying to get Khali over (again, for no reason) and Ryback completely blends in with the crowd. Very weird ending to a relatively crappy Raw.

The Royal Rumble is this Sunday, and I’ll definitely watch it. Tonight’s show has very little to do with it though.

Rock Brawls With Punk And Eve Quits On 20th Anniversary Raw

RAW_1025_Photo_182The 20th anniversary of Monday Night Raw promises to be a big night, on par with the 1000th episode. Coming off last week’s show where CM Punk returned to pipe bomb mode after beating Ryback, only to have the smack laid down on him by the Rock, the bar is set pretty high. Before we get to that though, there were two pretty significant things that happened last week that need to be mentioned.

First off, Alberto Del Rio beating Big Show in a last man standing match to win the World Heavyweight Championship. This is a big deal for a number of reasons, first off for a major title changing hands on a taped show. WWE had to spoil it themselves to get ahead of all the bloggers that would post it after taping on Tuesday. This was a smart move and probably drew more people to Smackdown that normal. Hell I almost watched it live myself. Second, this changes the whole outlook of the title scene. It has to be assumed that there will be a rematch at the Royal Rumble, and Ziggler is much more likely to take it from Del Rio than Big Show. This also creates the opportunity for Wade Barrett or (more likely) Randy Orton after a heel turn to challenge for the belt. We’ve run out of logical challenges to Big Show. Third, and most importantly, the match was really good. Show put Del Rio through a table early on. Del Rio applied the cross arm breaker while being dangled outside the ring by Show. Show got drop kicked into a table. Lots of good spots and the crowd was into it. Del Rio got hit with every move Show had and each time he got up the crowd went nuts. Then when Alberto started throwing the steel steps at Show repeatedly the crowd got louder each time (helped by Ricardo cheerleading). Del Rio pushing the announce table on top of Show was the finisher, and with Rey Mysterio out again and Sin Cara unable to get over, Del Rio is firmly established as the number one latino face of the WWE.

The other news from last week is that after 100 episodes, Zack Ryder will no longer be doing the Z! True Long Island Story. It says a lot about how Ryder feels things are going with his character and the WWE. He has not been shy about making his opinions public, and it certainly hasn’t helped him move ahead in the company. The only thing that really kept him relevant was his web show, which is what got him pushed in the first place. After the WWE took control of the show however, it became much more of a drag to produce, and Ryder began to hate doing it. So now that it’s done, how does he get attention again? He’s been the dope from Long Island for a while now. Perhaps it is time for a makeover. Maybe even a heel turn. He certainly has enough to be angry about. It was a pretty epic finale if I do say so myself.

Now that that’s out of the way, on to Raw.

Where is the real Alberto?
What did they do to you?

Things started off with a montage off all the previous show opens (except for the current one oddly enough), and Vince McMahon in the ring. He essentially kisses his own ass for being smart enough to start Monday Night Raw. Then he goes through the lineup for tonight’s show, featuring John Cena versus Dolph Ziggler (again?) in a steel cage match (okay fine) and a rock concert from the Rock. Again, Rock is repeating the same act over and over. Soon after the announcements, Big Show comes out to complain about losing his title last week. McMahon makes Show address him as Mr. McMahon and Big Show essentially is a neutered version of his former self. Vince makes fun of him by saying he looks like he lost weight (referring to the belt) and calling up the footage of him losing. For whatever reason, Big Show just takes it. What happened to his iron clad contract where he can do whatever he wants? Big Show says he was put in a match he wasn’t ready for, and that Booker T is jealous of Show, and wants to push Del Rio to the Latino community (at least that part is true). Show suggests that Del Rio is stripped of his title, which brings out the new champion. He comes out without a car, wearing the colors of the Mexican flag in place of his traditional black and gold. Kinda lame. We know he’s Mexican, we don’t need it shoved in our face. Del Rio challenges Show to a match for the title on Raw, but Big Show refuses because he is not ready for a match. Alberto tells him to show some cojones (that means balls!) for once and accept. Big Show says he is not going to waste his rematch now, and suggests the Royal Rumble instead. Del Rio calls Show a fat jackass (in spanish) and a “SI” chant gets going. Ricardo then pulls a page from the Harlem Globetrotter’s playbook, throwing a bucket of confetti that Big Show thought was water. Show then goes after Ricardo and gets kicked out of the ring by Del Rio (Alberto pulling off a hurricarrana on Show will be forgotten from this). If Show takes the title back in two weeks forget everything I said at the top of this recap.

The first match of the night puts Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett against Randy Orton. Still waiting on that Orton heel turn and now there are rumors that he will be taking time off soon for a personal matter (not wellness related). Orton has been feuding a little with Cesaro too, because it’s impossible to keep the US and IC titles from being connected somehow. It’s all Orton early, with Randy hitting a back body drop outside the ring onto the guard rail padding. Back in the ring for a moment, Barrett is then clotheslined outside again. Wade doesn’t show any offense until they come back from commercial but it’s little more than head locks. Finally he gets some real offense going, hitting the high boot with Orton tangled in the ropes. It doesn’t last long though as Randy turns the match back in his favor, hitting his signature moves including the second rope DDT. However Barrett gets out of the RKO and lands a bull hammer elbow to knock out Orton and take the match. A surprising finish for sure and a sign that Orton’s vacation is definitely coming. He just lost clean to the IC champ. Meanwhile, the Barrett push continues.

Backstage Booker T and Teddy Long informed Eve that after last week’s match, there has been a stipulation to her Divas’ Championship match against Kaitlyn. Now Eve will lose the title if she gets counted out or disqualified. Eve starts flirting with Booker to get out of it but Booker just laughs in her face and walks away. Teddy laughs at her as well and gets slapped in the face. Poor Teddy. Eve is another performer that is supposed to be leaving for a while. In all likelihood she’ll drop the title and leave the Divas division in even worse shape than it already is.

On to the anger management reevaluation with Kane, Bryan and Dr. Shelby! Kane and Bryan agree to lie in order to get it over with. When asked what they like about each other, Bryan says he likes that Kane is tall, can set things on fire somehow, and is a good dancer. Kane says Bryan is agile, has a great beard and is not afraid to admit that he wears women’s clothing (Bryan almost lost it but kept composure). Shelby then brings in the Rhodes Scholars to try to trigger their anger. The idea is to have Kane and Bryan not attack when they are provoked. Sandow and Rhodes keep critiquing Shelby’s methods, finally saying they would be better off with Dr. Phil. Shelby then loses it, telling Kane and Bryan to attack them. The three of them start screaming YES and we have a very fitting (albeit not nearly as funny) conclusion to the anger management sessions.

Back in the ring Kane and Sandow square off in one on one action. Kane rolls early, hitting the sidewalk slam and going to the top rope before Sandow leaves the ring to avoid it. Damien then takes over with his typical rapid offense. I love Sandow’s offense. He isn’t fast but he strikes hard and fast. He fights how a regular person would fight. Just keeps coming at you. Anyway Kane catches him jumping off the top rope and gets chokeslams Sandow for the win. The two teams will meet for the Tag Team Championships at the Royal Rumble and I have to think Team Rhodes Scholars will walk away with the hardware. I’m a little surprised they aren’t saving that match for another time, putting them all in the rumble instead.

Three random guys that don't need to team up for any reason
Three random guys that don’t need to team up for any reason

After the match some news we already knew was going to happen was publicly announced. Mick Foley will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Foley is in the house to address the crowd but is quickly cut off by the Shield. Before they can attack Ryback comes down the ramp and attacks them. He throws out Ambrose and Rollins and meat hook clotheslines Reigns but the numbers are too great. Orton comes out to help and is shortly followed by Sheamus to even the odds. Ryback hits Abrose with Shell Shocked and the Shield retreats. I know it’s not going to happen, but having one of them win the rumble would be a big deal. Josh Matthews interviews Ryback in the ring. HOT DAMN DID HIS EYE GET BAD AGAIN. What does Ryback do to his face? He’s disgusting. Anyway he is sick of the Shield interfering in his matches so now he wants payback. This should have happened after the first two times Ryback was robbed. He gets a “Feed Me Shield” chant going and we can expect Ryback to team with Orton and Sheamus against the Shield in the near future. Hopefully when his eye is healed.

So long, Eve
So long, Eve

Time for Eve and Kaitlyn for the Divas Championship. Is it me or does Kaitlyn kind of look like Seth Rollins? After going back and forth for a bit, Kaitlyn goes into beast mode and starts shoulder blocking her into oblivion. She can’t get a three count however and Eve hits her finisher (Cross Rhodes?) but Kaitlyn kicks out on two and a half. Kaitlyn then hits her finisher but Eve rolls out of the ring. Kaitlyn goes out to get her but gets thrown over the barrier. Eve goes back into the ring so the ref can start the 10 count, but Kaitlyn runs back in while Eve isn’t looking. Eve looks toward the barrier waiting for the ref to count, giving Kaitlyn the opening to spear her and win the Divas Championship. Pretty good match. If I had to guess I’d say Kaitlyn and Tamina start a program next. They are the most physically gifted women on the roster and could have some good matches. They aren’t that hot though so we’ll probably see Layla and AJ instead.

Backstage, Brodus Clay is pissed that CM Punk called him out last week for being forced to shuck and jive for the fans. Clay said he does it because he wants to and that the pipe bomb is going to blow up in Punk’s face or something. Whatever he said, he was all business and it was a nice change. He’s too much of a beast to be smiling all the time. Anyway he’s in the ring to face Punk and is all smiles again. Not expecting a long match. Clay goes on the attack early with big blows, forcing Punk to exit and regroup. Clay manhandles Punk until CM gets a boot up on Clay running into the corner. A springboard clothesline gets Clay down and Punk is in control. He even does the Junkyard Dog dance in the ring to taunt him. Brodus catches Punk with a headbutt but misses again on the splash in corner. Punk then connects on the elbow from the top rope and applies the Anaconda Vice for the submission win. Better and more competitive match than I expected. After some more mock dancing, Punk says he came out to do what he does, and later the Rock will do whatever it is that he does. He says all the fans are all entitled to their opinions, but they can’t deny the fact that he has been the champion for 421 days, and that it is a fact that Rock will not leave the Royal Rumble as WWE Champion and that he is the best in the world. Much shorter than last week but still a very effective promo. There were no “Cookie Puss” chants, incase you were wondering.

Backstage the Rock is talking to Mick Foley, doing some shtick congratulating Foley into the Hall of Fame. Vickie Guerrero butts in to tell them to quiet down during her show, and adds that Foley doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Rock decides not to say anything now, and tells Foley to wait for his concert.

Up next, Sheamus is in some over the top rope challenge thing against 3MB. The object is just to throw the opponent over the top rope, which Sheamus did already last week. The crowd is pretty dead as 3MB teams up on Sheamus. Sheamus can only get momentum for so long before getting beaten down again. It’s like a poor man’s version of Shield against Ryback. Slater and McIntyre hold Sheamus up as Mahal gets on the top rope, but Sheamus pushes them into Jinder and he falls out. Drew then gets thrown out as well and it’s down to Sheamus and Heath Slater. Sheamus goes over the top rope but stays on the edge of the ring. He tries to fight his way back in but McIntyre and Mahal pull him down to eliminate Sheamus and give 3MB the win. McIntyre puts Slater on his shoulders to celebrate, but then Sheamus comes in. He kicks Drew’s leg to bring him to his knees, and then Brogue Kick’s Slater off McIntyre’s shoulders (roughly the same height as Big Show). Drew gets a Brogue Kick as well.

John Cena said some random crap about past Raws, his losing, and Threes Company before saying he’s going to win his match. That wasted roughly 60 seconds of my life.

Speaking of wasting time, here comes a Miz TV segment. His guest is Ric Flair so there is some hope here. Flair talks a little about his retirement celebration on Raw after his retirement match during WrestleMania and how he’s looking forward to Ryback beating Shield. Miz and Flair then get into a WOO off before Miz cues a montage of popular catch phrases from Raw’s history. They have been going through different montages throughout the show, showing all the moments you would normally think of along with some others you haven’t. Miz then gets Flair to go into his full “jet flying, kiss stealing” routine but gets cut off by Cesaro, who says Flair and Miz embody America as a failed reality star and a legend who blew all the money he made trying to maintain the illusion of past greatness. Cesaro has the American flag as tights which is fantastic. He says Flair is worth nothing now and says the Four Horsemen sign is only good for referring to his four ex-wives now. Miz challenges Cesaro to a fight in Flair’s defense, but Cesaro declines and starts to leave. Flair then pulls him back and delivers some chops before Miz hits the skill crushing finale. Flair then has Miz apply the figure four as Flair starts elbow dropping the suit jackets that ended up on the mat. Very strange but also pretty entertaining. Especially for Miz TV.

Uhhhhh, okay.
Uhhhhh, okay.

Daniel Bryan now out to most likely lose to Cody Rhodes since Kane beat Sandow earlier. Before the match starts, Cody looks in a mirror and brushes his mustache. Can we consider that jumping the shark? Rhodes immediately attacks Daniel’s knee that he “hurt” last week, and Bryan sells it like he is being amputated. Cody stands over Bryan to taunt to crowd but Bryan pulls him down by the arm and applies the NO Lock in the middle of the ring, getting Rhodes to submit. Once again, I’m wrong. Don’t be surprised if that knee costs Team Hell No at the Royal Rumble though.

Meanwhile Eve made her departure official, telling Matt Striker that the WWE is against her. From Zack Ryder stalking her, John Cena humiliating her and Kaitlyn accusing her of sabotaging her title shot, she doesn’t need this anymore. She says she wants her own reality show and quits the WWE. So long Eve. I don’t know how long she’ll be gone for, but she’ll be missed.

AJ hosted a segment backstage going through famous weddings in Raw history while Big E looked like he wanted to blow his brains out. The last clip was of AJ’s wedding with Daniel Bryan where she was named Raw GM. This sent her into a fit of rage toward John Cena, who she blames for ruining her career. Dolph Ziggler stepped in the console her and talk about how he is going to prove to the world and specifically Cena how good he really is.

How does this work?
How does this work?

Jim Ross takes Michael Cole’s place to call the main event steel cage match between John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler tries to run out of the cage door almost immediately after the bell rings, then tries climbing out on the other side only to be pulled back by Cena both times. Following an initial charge by Cena, Ziggler hits a dropkick and takes control, throwing John into the cage, hitting a couple of neck breakers and escaping an Attitude Adjustment to hit another one. Cena then sling shots Dolph into the cage, but Ziggler catches himself on the cage and starts climbing up. John pulls him down and tries climbing up himself, leading to both men being taken down. During the break, Cena was about to escape the cage but Langston was outside the ring pushing Cena back up so that Ziggler can pull him back in (kind of ridiculous when Cena could just let go and drop onto him but whatever). With both Cena and Ziggler standing on the top rope, Dolph hits a standing dropkick sending them both back to the mat. Dolph takes his time delivering punches and Cena takes advantage with the five moves of doom. Ziggler escapes the AA to try climbing up the cage, gets pulled down by his tights revealing his bare butt (to the audible joy of the women in attendance), only to escape the move again and hit a superkick for a two count. Ziggler crawls toward the door and gets a hand on the floor but Cena gets over the pull him back in. Langston grabs Ziggler’s arm however to try to pull Ziggler out and we have a human game of tug of war. Cena wins and applies the STF, but Ziggler quickly rolls over and locks a sleeper hold in the middle of the ring. Cena powers his way up and starts climbing up the cage with Dolph on his back. John finally falls off the top rope, taking them both down. Cena then looks like he’s going to escape through the door but Big E slams it in his face. Ziggler then goes for the door (after blatantly hearing Cena tell him to) and Cena tries climbing over the cage right near the door. Cena gets over first and kicks the door in Dolph’s face, but Langston is there again forcing Cena back up with a steel chair. When Cena gets back to the mat Dolph hits him with a Zig Zag but only gets a two count (because it takes 8 finishers to beat Cena apparently). Cena pulls Dolph down from the top of the cage again but with Cena on the top turnbuckle, Ziggler hits a jumping DDT (big pop) but again only gets a 2 count. This sends AJ off the deep end (can you blame her?) and she climbs to the top of the cage. This distracts the ref so that Big E can come in with the MITB briefcase. Cena attacks Langston and the case goes to Ziggler, who tries to hit John with it but Cena ducks under and Big E gets hit instead. Cena hits Ziggler with the AA and wins via pinfall (apparently 1 Attitude Adjustment is better than 10 finishers from anyone else). Both men deliver again in a fantastic match but this SuperCena stuff is just ridiculous. PPVs are one thing but can he at least be human on basic cable?

What a shocker
What a shocker

The big finish for the night is of course the Rock concert. It’s exactly what you think it would be like. A heartbreak hotel parody where he calls Paul Heyman a fat woman. He then called out Vickie Guerrero to sing a parody of “Wonderful Tonight” where is says “No biotch, you look horrible tonight” and dresses like a cheap hooker. Rock then calls out CM Punk, who shows up with Paul Heyman. Rocks says Heyman has “twinkie tits” (that might actually catch on for a minute), that Punk is not “god” as Punk referred to himself last week, and that Punk will lose at the Royal Rumble. This pushes Punk to run down the ramp and get into a brawl with Rock. A bunch of officials have to come out to separate them and that’s how the show ends. I was worried the concert part would be a lot longer but thankfully it was relatively brief.

The main question I have is what happened to all the surprise guests? No Michaels, no Undertaker, no Austin, no Triple H. Medusa wasn’t even there. It’s not that it was a bad show. It just didn’t have that big event feel aside from the main event. It was a quality episode of Raw. I just expected a little more than that.

Punk Beats Ryback On Raw, To Face Rock At Royal Rumble

RAW_1024_Photo_192After two weeks of previously recorded Raw the WWE wants to start 2013 with a bang, featuring Ryback finally getting his TLC match against CM Punk for the WWE Championship and the Rock scheduled to appear. This is all going into next week’s 20th anniversary show which is set to have a number of high profile guest appearances (Michaels, Austin and Undertaker all rumored), and the Royal Rumble two weeks later. It’s a key time frame as we close in on the road to WrestleMania. The fact that they are going against the college football National Championship game is not in their favor.

The opening montage is all over the Rock versus Punk hype, doing a rundown of the last few weeks of drama surrounding Punk’s knee and who Rock will face at the Royal Rumble. Yet the show opens with John Cena running down the ramp to promote the Punk/Ryback match and the Rock. Basically everything I said in the opening paragraph. Thankfully Dolph Ziggler comes out with AJ and Big E to interject. Lost in all of AJ’s bitching and calling Cena a “small man” is referring to Dolph as “Ziggy.” Cena responds by starting a wave before bringing up how he dumped crap on them and challenges Ziggler to a match right now. Dolph says no but all of a sudden Big E grabs the mic! Langston proves why he hadn’t spoken until now by sounding like a stuttering preacher and accepts the challenge for Dolph (actually he just said “it’s on!”). So now Dolph is pissed and doesn’t want to go to the ring, but his music come on and apparently that means he automatically has to go down the ramp. Good to know that’s all you need to get someone to come down the ramp.

So now Dolph versus Cena is actually happening! The one thing about the rumble event is that it takes up almost the entire roster, so big matches like this can happen without spoiling anything at the pay per view. Highlight of the match early on is Cena holding Dolph up in a standing suplex position for roughly ten seconds before dropping him. Yup, Cena is strong. Dolph does a little more showing off than he normally does (which is saying a lot) and gets burned for it both times. First the sit ups which turns into a pin attempt, then he danced around a downed Cena only to be thrown into the corner. Throughout the match Langston and AJ interfere until they finally get caught by the ref and are ejected from ringside. Ziggler then countered a 5 knuckle shuffle into a fame-asser for a 2 count, then after succumbing to the shuffle, Ziggler escaped an AA and hit a Zig Zag for another two count. Dolph then misses a superkick but escapes the STF, hitting a jumping DDT for another two count. Ziggler is essentially hitting him with every move he’s got. Ziggler goes for a cross body splash off the top rope but Cena catches him and tries for the AA, but Ziggler escapes and again and hits the super kick but still can’t get a three count. This is just ridiculous. Next Dolph applies a sleeper hold and starts to bring Cena down (just like Ricardo did on Christmas Eve) but John throws Ziggler off him and into the referee, knocking him out. Cena applies the STF on Dolph but there is no referee (Dolph doesn’t tap anyway). Langston comes out and hits Cena with the Big End and a second referee comes down the ramp but again Cena kicks out on 2. Out of nowhere Cena then hits Ziggler with an AA and gets the win. Fantastic match but the ending is just ridiculous. Ziggler had almost all of the offense but one big move finishes him. Meanwhile Cena took finishers from Ziggler and Langston but it’s not enough. There is no justice.

Ricardo drops him with a sleeper hold on Christmas Eve but 2 weeks later Ziggler can't with the same move? AW HELL NAH!
Ricardo drops Cena with a sleeper hold two weeks ago but Ziggler can’t? AW HELL NAH!

The next match puts the Divas Title on the line, as Eve defends against Kaitlyn. Eve chose Mae Young to face last week, but she gave birth to Hornswaggle instead (yup) and Kaitlyn started a cat fight instead. So now she gets a title shot. Whatever. It’s more of the same cat fight style wrestling. Back in the attitude era these matches only happened when the ring was replaced by a pool of jello or something. In the ring they actually wrestled. Kaitlyn has enough, hitting a side slam and a shoulder block to get Eve on the ropes. Eve then escapes Kaitlyn’s finisher and escapes the ring entirely, getting herself counted out to keep her championship. They’ll meet again at the Royal Rumble.

Backstage Santino is kissing up to Ricky Steamboat until Wade Barrett steps it, saying that he will make the Intercontinental Championship mean something which neither of them could do. Steamboat decides to stand in Santino’s corner. Cut to Matt Striker interviewing Randy Orton, who says he will win the rumble before being interrupted by 3MB who says that one of them will win the rumble. Orton then decides that he will face Heath Slater tonight. They have nothing for Orton to do right now besides feud with 3MB? That heel turn better happen real soon.

Kane and Daniel Bryan in the ring squaring off against the Rhodes Scholars in a non title match. We’re getting to a point with all of these fueds where everything is established and we’ve seen everyone face everyone already, so there isn’t much new to talk about. All parties are doing fine. It’s exactly as you expect. At least until Cody Rhodes and his mustache yelled “you are a goat face” and Bryan before hitting him with an elbow. After the rumble we can expect a whole new set of programs to get into gear, so this stale rivalry period is expected. Kane gets a hot tag and cleans house, but Sandow (the legal man) left the ring when Kane had him set up for the choke slam. Daniel Bryan comes back in and attempts his back flip off the top turnbuckle but tweaks his knee (in the match) and the Rhodes Scholars take advantage. Kane took Sandow down outside the ring, but Cody Rhodes hit Bryan with the Cross Rhodes to get the victory by pinfall. The stage is set for their championship match, most likely taking place at the Royal Rumble.

Finally the Randy Orton/3MB feud comes to a head as Randy takes on Heath Slater. Orton dominates early but Slater slows things down, taking control briefly and even hitting his jumping neck breaker (reverse RKO) for a two count. Heath then goes to the top rope only to be superplexed by Orton. Randy beats away the other members of 3MB before hitting the 2nd rope DDT and an RKO (that was definitely not “out of nowhere” as Cole said) to win the match. McIntyre and Mahal come in to try ambushing Orton but Randy fights them off again with a couple more RKO’s. Just Orton being Orton.

Wade Barrett set to take on Santino and I’ll be damned if Steamboat didn’t do the Santino walk down the ramp with him. It’s all Barrett until Santino escapes a pump handle slam and hits a super kick before going into his routine. He pulls out the cobra sock but Wade leaves the ring, drawing Santino near the rope where Wade pulls his throat down on the top rope, hitting the Bull Hammer to win the match. Steamboat tends to his fallen friend as Barrett set up to hit Ricky from behind. Ricky turns before he could strike and Steamboat takes off his blazer, ready to fight. Barrett exits and we have not seen the last of this story. Wade Barrett versus Ricky Steamboat next week?

(Pointless segment where Sheamus talks trash to 3MB happens that I can’t think of a single thing to write about it.)

How cool is Cesaro?
How cool is Cesaro?

Miz on commentary as United States Champion Antonio Cesaro comes out waving the American flag for his match against Khali. Khali, with both Hornswaggle and Natalya in his corner, slaps Cesaro a couple of time before Antonio takes his leg out. The Punjobber has a whole crew with him now. Anything to make him interesting. Miz calls Cesaro a weenie and calls him an old man. Face Miz just comes off as so lame. After another outburst of offense from Khali, Cesaro springboards into Khali with an uppercut and then hits the Neutralizer on Khali to get the win! Cesaro is really good. He barks at Miz and they will certainly face each other at some point in the future.

Backstage Brad Maddox is still trying to get Paul Heyman to help him get a WWE contract, suggesting that he can referee the match. Heyman chews him out, telling him not to talk to Vickie Guerrero or CM Punk and to get out of his face. That’s getting interesting.

I guess I found the point of the Sheamus 3MB segment because he is now facing Jinder Mahal. Sheamus smacks him around for a while and the only offense Mahal provides is a weird hold where he is essentially grabbing Sheamus’ arse (that’s what Sheamus said anyway). McIntyre distracts Sheamus long enough for Jinder to hit him with a high knee and get some more legitimate offense. Sheamus fights back of course, dragging Slater into the ring and then clotheslining both Slater and Mahal out of the ring. Sheamus then Brougue Kicks McIntyre and Slate, then hits Mahal with White Noise and another Brogue Kick to win the match decisively. I wonder who Drew McIntyre will lose to tonight. 3MB is getting a lot of air time to start 2013.

CM Punk defends his WWE Championship against Ryback to start the third hour of the show. Before the match, there is a montage similar to what you’d get on a PPV show. They might as well. This match has been in the making for a couple of months now. Punk kinda goes nuts on his way down the ramp, pulling a ladder out to go under and throwing a chair toward the ring. They start with Ryback overpowering Punk and kicking him out of the ring, with Punk incorporating a chair to even things out a little. Eventually Ryback then gets Punk back in the ring and asks the crowd to choose whether he slams Punk onto a chair or a ladder. He does this while holding Punk up for a suplex. Very cool. He ten tries the slam the steel steps on Punk but he rolls away and runs up them for a jumping kick. Punk then starts working on Ryback with a chair. It sucks that this match has to be interrupted by a commercial break. They come back with Ryback hitting Punk with an electric chair to take him down from the ladder. The whole match is spots. Punk puts Ryback’s foot in a chair a jumps off the top tope to try to injure it, but Ryback moves away and Punk tweaks his knee landing (uh oh). Ryback immediately takes advantage and takes him down with a meathook clothesline. Punk wiggles out of Shell Shock though and gets out of the ring. Toward a table Ryback put up earlier. Ryback goes to spear Punk but Punk moves and Ryback goes right through the table, taking him out. Punk gets back in the ring and tries to climb the ladder. Ryback meets him up there and knocks him off, Punk then pushes the ladder over but Ryback jumps off before it hits that mat, then slams Punk into the ladder. He tries to do it again but Punk wiggles out and kicks him in the head. Punk gets Ryback in the corner and tries the running bulldog, but Ryback lifts Punk over the top rope through a table outside the ring. This match has been pretty bad ass.

Now here’s is the big finish. Punk is outside the ring and not moving. Ryback gets a ladder propped up and climbs to the top. He is just about the grab the title when the lights go out. When they come back on Ambrose and Rollins are on the ladder trying to knock him down. He fights them both off but Reigns pulls him down by the legs. Ryback then throws all three members of Shield out of the ring and against goes to the top of the ladder but the Shield attacks Punk again with a ladder. The building is buzzing big time. Shield powerbombs Ryback through a table on top of the steel steps and leaves the arena. With Ryback out of commission, Punk now gets up and crawls up the ladder, grabs his WWE Championship and wins the match. Great match but yet another predictable ending.

That table can be found in Ikea's "As Is" section
That table can be found in Ikea’s “As Is” section

Backstage Striker goes to interview Punk but Punk cuts him off, again saying that he doesn’t have any affiliation with Brad Maddox or the Shield. He then says that before the Rock gets in the ring, he is going to talk to the crowd first and drop a pipe bomb (uh oh). Cut to Daniel Bryan icing his knee, blaming Kane for not having his back or something. They blame each other for losing the team Rhodes Scholars, getting into a good old fashioned “YES” “NO” argument until Vickie Guerrero comes in to inform them that they are due for their four month mental evaluation with none other than Dr. Shelby (WOOO!). They then argue over whether or not Shelby is a monster or a nerd and I can’t wait for next week’s sessions.

The last match of the night puts Kofi Kingston against Big Show in a non title match. Kofi jumps at Show and gets him in the corner trying to get an edge on him, the ref tries to separate them and in the process, Show decks Kofi with a Knock Out Punch, putting down Kingston and winning the match in about 20 seconds. Anyway…

He tastes victory
He tastes victory

Punk gets in the ring to address the crowd. He wipes blood off his hand and removes the WWE flag from the microphone. He says everyone has misunderstood the meaning of the pipe bomb which is honesty. He says the perception of him over the last year is wrong and that everything he said was true except for the part about ice cream because they are fat enough already (burn!). He says he created his rebel anti-hero persona to cash in because it doesn’t matter if you’re the best performer or best talker or anything else because no one it only matter how popular you are in the WWE. That is why John Cena keeps getting title shots and why Daniel Bryan, a fantastic wrestler, has to become a catch phrase saying goofball (now we’re getting somewhere). It’s why Brodus Clay, a leather monster, dances around with children and why Lil’ Jimmy is more well known than Tyson Kidd (really getting somewhere now). The crowd reacts and Punk says they’re playing right into his hands. The WWE is just a circus to entertain the fans and no one has maintained any success without them until CM Punk. He calls himself the greatest champion of all time, not just he modern era (he adds that that’s something they probably want to put on a t-shirt because it’s all about selling t-shirts). He says he would have been champion over Bruno Sammartino in that era because he only had to wrestle once a month at MSG. Hulk Hogan never had to wrestle in TLC matches. Punk says his year has had enough grueling matches on both free TV and PPV to equal 30 of theirs, and that he is successful in spite of the fans. That unlike every other wrestler he doesn’t lie about doing everything for the fans. He calls out Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Edge for doing just that, making them either weak or dishonest. Punk on the other hand is neither because he doesn’t care about the fans. He is just the best in the world. A member of the stage crew tells Punk they do to go to commercial, but Punk says they’ll go to break when he wants to go to break. He then says the Rock is going to come out in a minute but before he does he tells them that they do not matter, and continues talking as they go to break.

Absolutely brilliant promo. He made points that I had been thinking for a while regarding the other eras and the current schedule. He pointed out the nature of what the current talent has to do to get over and what comes with that. More importantly he attacked the fans in a way that hasn’t been done before. He made an entire case against the people, which is the very entity that the Rock says he fights for. What this also does is set the bar very high for the Rock. This isn’t John Cena just talking about how he will fight and how much he loves the WWE. CM Punk cuts a lot deeper. He can’t just say he’s going to kick his monkey ass. When they come back from break Punk is still talking about how he is the best and that regardless of who is put in front of him he will remain the champion a year from now. He says he beat the system when he won the championship because it was against what the crowd wanted.

Punk starts calling the crowd losers when the Rock finally (no pun intended) makes his entrance. He is absolutely jacked. If he was a regular member of the roster he’d definitely be a part of the wellness program. Rock says that after listening to Punk he sees that he is delusional, and that in 20 days his reign as champion is over. He says Punk didn’t reject the fans, the fans rejected him. After saying Punk failed to get ice cream for the fans Rock gets the fans to chant cookie puss at Punk, telling him that they will follow him for the rest of his career (probably not but I’m sure they’ll try). Punk tells the fans that they are following Rock the same way they followed Punk a year ago. Rock says he is back to entertain the fans, stop Punk and win the WWE Championship. Rock says Punk looks like Popeye on crack (Cole loves that) and that he has become the biggest jerk in the world.  Punk essentially says what I said earlier, in that Rock can joke about Punk’s shirts and shout his old catch phrases all he wants because Punk is just going to beat him in the ring. He says all of Rock’s words are meaningless before saying perhaps the best line of trash talk I’ve ever heard. “Your arms are just too short to box with God.” Oh man is that a great line.

It's on!
It’s on!

Rock of course retorts by telling Punk to get tattoos of candy and a size 15 boot on his butt to remind him of when the Rock kicks his candy ass, and then Rock Bottom’s Punk out of the ring. Hell of a last twenty minutes or so and I’m pumped up for the match. It’s being set up almost perfectly. Rock will always be the People’s Champion, so Punk is attacking the people. Classic stuff. What is interesting is how Punk is completely calling Rock out on being nothing more than catch phrases and schtick, with Rock immediately responding with more catch phrases and schtick. Sure Rock ended the segment with a Rock Bottom, but verbally I think Punk crushed him. It’s kind of like the interrogation scene in The Dark Knight. Rock can’t phase Punk with his words like he did everyone else. Of course it doesn’t matter too much because we all know (or at least we think we know) that Rock is winning the title and Cena is winning the Rumble so they can face off at WrestleMania, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the build up anyway.

Things pick up next week with the 20th anniversary of Raw and I can’t wait.

Barrett Wins IC Title And More From Two Weeks Of Holiday Raw

RAW_1023_Photo_147WWE really got hit with a crap sandwich to end 2012 with the last two Monday Night Raw’s falling on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve respectively. Somehow WWE found some common sense and prerecorded both shows, and with the 20th anniversary show coming up, all signs would point to both episodes carrying little to no real content storywise. Hopefully this means nothing but great matches but I’m not giving my hopes up. Since I don’t pay myself to write these recaps and do in fact have a life of my own, I saved both of them for after the holidays and will just make some notes instead. Here’s hoping to a kick ass 2013!

Christmas Eve Show

The show opens with Mick Foley, portraying Santa Claus, getting run into by Alberto Del Rio. Ricardo is in tears and Del Rio is shocked as “you killed Santa” chants come down from the crowd. Santa gets carried away in a stretcher and Alberto’s run as a face just took a very weird turn. Best open in the history of WWE. The car would be fenced off as a crime scene and perhaps the funniest part of the whole thing is Michael Cole being nearly as serious as he was when Lawler had his heart attack. Now Santa somehow put Del Rio in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight against John Cena. That just means they can use Christmas items around the ring against each other. So now Santa Claus can book matches too.

Cody Rhodes looked really good in his loss to Kane. He continues to impress me in his return. I’m a little puzzled why he tried to remove a second turnbuckle pad though.

The only thing to appreciate out of the 8 woman Diva’s tag match is Tamina Snuka looking pissed because she has to wear a slutty Christmas outfit. I feel your pain sista. Layla gets top billing but Kaitlyn is being booked as the top face Diva, getting the pin over Eve.

Ziggler and AJ snuggling on a white bear skin rug. Adorable.

Sheamus and Big Show had a lumberjack frost match (get it?). The highlight of the whole thing was Show screaming Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer while having Sheamus in an arm lock, ending with Sheamus grabbing Show’s nose. As far as actual wrestling goes, Sheamus hitting Show with an electric chair slam was pretty cool too. Sheamus ducked under a KO Punch to land a Brogue Kick and win a very good match. The lumberjacks were pretty useless.

David Otunga defended Del Rio before almost beating Zack Ryder until he realized that he’s David Otunga. Again, is Alberto Del Rio a face or a heel? (WWE is trying to figure that out themselves)

Oh so many bad holiday puns.

Even though they forgot to trigger his pyro, Kofi Kingston teamed up with Miz to face Wade Barrett and Antonio Cesaro anyway. Kofi kicked Barrett into Miz who delivered a Skull Crushing Finale to win a perfectly acceptable midcard match.

Brad Maddox lost another shot at a WWE contract by jobbing to Khali in an elf costume. The Maddox gimmick is a bit stale. He wrestles too much for a guy without an actual contract. If he’s going to stick around, it’s time to officially have him on the roster.

Punk and Heyman cut another brilliant promo for the upcoming Ryback/Punk title match on the January 7th edition of Raw. Ryback then comes out to inform Punk that it will be a TLC match. Can Ryback get a manager please? He sounds like a washing machine with sneakers in it when he talks.

Damien Sandow versus Daniel Bryan. Two of my personal favorites in the ring at the same time. It starts with Sandow asking for silence and Bryan yelling “NO!” I love it. Quick pace and a lot of nice moves. Bryan swung out of Sandow’s finisher to lock in the NO Lock and get the submission victory.

The heels and faces from the lumberjack match got together again for a 12 man 12 days of Christmas tag match. Usos got some serious play in the match, getting the pin on Heath Slater. It would be nice if they got a push in the tag team division.

Kane gives Daniel Bryan a Slammy for Christmas. Bryan gives Kane a dog. Kane is legitimately excited because he’s hungry and wants to eat it. Bryan says “NO! Animals are friends not food” (of course because Bryan is vegan). Well done guys.

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad

The main event between Del Rio and Cena started with Ricardo being too overcome with emotion to announce Del Rio. Alberto takes the mic during the match and tries to explain that it was just an accident, and Cena just yells “Santa!” in response and hits Del Rio. Classic debate skills by Cena. Ricardo gives Del Rio a gift to use on Cena. It turns out to be a pie, and Del Rio accidentally hits Ricardo with it instead. Yup, it’s that kind of match. Cena meanwhile finds a tv monitor in a box and gets the use that (why are these things wrapped up in boxes on the stage?). Del Rio then pulls out a teddy bear and throws it at Cena. That was actually pretty damn funny. Cole makes fun of Cena for selling being hit with a cardboard box (okay now THAT’S funny). Here’s where it gets weird. John Cena finds a bowling ball in a box and rolls it down the ramp into Dell Rio’s nuts. Alberto almost started corpsing out of sheer ridiculousness. Merry Christmas everyone! With Cena distracted, Ricardo puts him down with a sleeper hold (how about that!). Santa Claus (still Mick Foley) then comes out, decks Ricardo with his sack, uses a stocking like socko, gives Del Rio the mandible claw, throwing him into Cena to hit Alberto with an Attitude Adjustment for the win. An absolutely ridiculous match but what the hell, it’s Christmas and it was fun.

The only thing I didn’t get for Christmas was a Dolph Ziggler match.

New Year’s Eve Show

The New Year’s show started off with much less of a bang than Christmas Eve, with Miz TV leading off the show. Add to that that his guest is John Cena and I’m about done with 2012. I just realized that they have two couches out for this show each time but then the guests sit in director’s chairs. Miz informs us that all titles will be on the line (except for Punk of course) and that the champions will pick their opponents (Big Show versus Santino please!). John Cena says he’s going to Ziggler and AJ’s New Year’s toast in the ring later, and Team Rhodes Scholars come out to trash Miz for bringing up the AJ scandal. All Cena wants to do is reference RG3 (Raw is in DC) and talk about Cody’s stache (can’t blame him for that one).

So now Cena and Miz will team up for the first match of the night against Team Rhodes Scholars. Cody Rhodes growing a mustache is probably the best possible thing he could do for his career. The crowd chants “Cody’ mustache” whenever he’s in the ring. He never got that big of a reaction before. It could be the new “YES” chant. I find myself wondering (if wrestling was real of course) what would have happened if Cena didn’t make the challenge for a tag match. This was not scheduled for the card, so what would the original plan have been after Miz TV. Really long commercial break? Did another imaginary match get bumped? Is that where Ryback’s match was supposed to be? Miz does the jobbing for most of the match until getting Cena in on the hot tag, immediately going into the five moves of doom. Cena hits the five knuckle shuffle on Sandow (legal man) but is then struck with a disaster kick by Rhodes. Rhodes is then met with a Skull Crushing Finale by Miz and Cena hits Sandow with an Attitude Adjustment for the win. Just about as formulaic of a match as you can have.

Backstage Vickie Guerrero is having a New Year’s Eve party, and she’s all being a bitch to Ziggler by putting him in a match with Sheamus. CM Punk has Vickie put Ryback in a handicap match against Shield (I guess Ryback was not scheduled to perform until then), and Heyman gets turned down on a kiss on the cheek.

Antonio Cesaro decides to defend his United States Championship against Sgt Slaughter. So that’s kind of cool. At least until the match starts. Slaughter kind of no sells most of Cesaro’s strikes but after Antonio reaches the rope to get out of the cobra clutch, he hits the Neutralizer for the win, hitting another one after the bell to rub it in. Squash match.

Kane and Bryan and pissed because they wanted to pick Shield to defend their title against (no idea why) and then they are thinking of whom to pick, 3MB is heard on the other side of the room rehearsing. So that’s going to happen. Meanwhile, Big Show may not face Santino, but he did decide to defend against Ricardo Rodriguez instead. Somehow I get the feeling Del Rio will be involved. Eve will defend her title against Mae Young. This show is teetering on blowing.

Bryan and Slater actually had a really good start to the tag title match. Bryan hit a toe drag on Slater as Heath was just landing from a jump, and followed it with a Mexican surfboard (which I always appreciate). Kane hits McIntyre with a chokeslam to win a pretty entertaining match. Bryan plays air guitar on the tag team championship belt. Kane does not. When will these two get along!?

Punk in the ring to say that he’s the best and to have his doctor reveal that his injury is real.  The doctor shows x-rays of a healthy knee and Punk’s, and Punk goes on to say that next week he’ll be back and will beat Ryback. The doctor then informs Punk that he can not clear Punk to compete based on the current condition of his rehab. This match was rumored to be pushed off further to insure Punk’s status for the Royal Rumble so this isn’t completely unexpected. Out comes Vince McMahon though and suggests that WWE officials examine his condition next week instead of his personal physician, the result of which will determine whether or not he competes. If Punk can’t go however, McMahon stipulates that Paul Heyman will take his place and face Ryback. Ryback faces Heyman at Madison Square Garden during the holiday tour so that is definitely a possibility. I would not be surprised with either result right now.

Dolph Ziggler out to face Sheamus and it seems that making out with AJ is now part of his entrance (that’s a pretty good entrance). Big E Langston-bot is ringside too. They put on a really good match, ending with Sheamus hitting White Noise and setting up for the Brogue Kick. Langston gets Sheamus’ attention though and Dolph tries to apply and sleeper, but Sheamus throws Ziggler over the top rope, into Langston’s arms. Big E then starts to enter the ring but the Shield jumps Sheamus from behind and takes him out instead, hitting the triple power bomb. So maybe that will lead to something.

Backstage Wade Barrett is trying to get Kofi to challenge him for his Intercontinental title. Barrett asks if he’s choosing between Hornswaggle and Lil’ Jimmy (as he should) but Kofi takes the bait and agrees to face Barrett. Stupid face. Brad Maddox then went to Punk and Heyman looking for a job, and Heyman chewed him out. Perhaps Maddox will cost Punk the title at Royal Rumble? Hmmmmm. Staying backstage, Mae Young can’t compete because she is pregnant. AGAIN! If she gives birth to another hand I’m going to flip. Maybe it’ll be a foot. Kaitlyn would run out instead and just kind of cat fight in a non match. Waste of time.

Getting ready for his match against Big Show, Ricardo is greeted by Alberto Del Rio. He apologizes to Rodriguez for treating him like crap all this time, and Ricardo says he wants to win the match for him. Del Rio says he’ll be in his corner, gives Ricardo his scarf and the keys to his car, telling him to go out there in style. If there was ever any doubt as to whether or not Del Rio was continuing the face turn, this was it. It’s the sappiest face turn since Ebeneezer Scrooge. Big Show smacks him around early but Ricardo pulls and enziguri out of his ass and for a second Show is in trouble. Show recovers however and lines up for a KO Punch but Del Rio interferes and delivers a sidekick to the face. Big Show wins via DQ, and he will face Del Rio on Smackdown. Why do I get the feeling that these two will square off at the Royal Rumble?

Very well done Ricardo
Very well done Ricardo

Kofi and Barrett facing each other for what, the eighth time in two months? It’s my biggest problem with the current WWE. Of course they put on a good match but that’s not the point. The point is that after a while there isn’t much new that you can do in the ring. So why have all of these matches on regular shows? If they met once on Raw and had a couple of PPV bouts it would make those big matches feel so much bigger. It’s a waste of good efforts from both. Barrett hit Wasteland for what seems like the first time in forever but Kofi kicked out of it. Kingston then misses on a cross body splash from the top rope, leading to Wade Barrett hitting the Bull Hammer elbow and winning the Intercontinental Championship. I imagine they will both compete in the Royal Rumble, then face each other again at Elimination Chamber.

Backstage, Vickie farted and said “excuse me” as Mae Young gave birth to Hornswaggle in a diaper and a Happy New Year sash. Good grief. Jerry Lawler said he wished he was not revived from his heart attack after seeing that bit. I’m not kidding.

Shield out to face Ryback. Something kind of spoils the idea of the Shield for me when they are booked in matches. Then they have their own entrance music. They are supposed to be a rogue group that can’t be controlled. Then they sign into matches and follow the rules. At least they still enter through the crowd and not down the entrance ramp. Ryback gets jumped before he even gets in the ring and is getting beaten down until Sheamus runs in to help him. Shield takes him down as well and dominate until Randy Orton makes his return to action and levels the playing field. He leads the charge as the faces clean house and the Shield exits the arena.

Ziggler and AJ dressed to the nines while Langston is still in ring gear for the New Year’s toast. It’s all about how many times Cena lost in 2012 (which was a lot) yet was still voted superstar of the year. Dolph says Cena’s time is over and Ziggler’s time is now, and uninvites Cena to the toast. Langston stands guard outside the ring when Cena shows up on the stage. He says that Ziggler was right about 2012. Cena then shows a photoshop job of Dolph and AJ’s wedding (guess who’s in the dress?) and their first kid and Dolph finally cuts him off because Cena has nothing but jokes. Cena then attacks Dolph for taking 7 years to get to where Cena has been the last ten (got him there), announces that he will be entering the Royal Rumble and promises that he will be WWE Champion in 2013. The stage is now set for WrestleMania. Rock beats Punk at Royal Rumble, Cena wins the Rumble and beats Rock at WrestleMania to win the WWE Championship. Cena wraps things up but dumping a pile of shit on Ziggler and AJ to end the 2012 WWE program schedule. The whole segment took way too long but at least there was a payoff.

Your last image of 2012
Your last image of 2012

The New Year’s show was leaps and bounds above the Christmas show but that wasn’t saying much. At least now we can get back on track with live programming, getting the Rock back into things, Raw’s 20th anniversary and promoting the Royal Rumble.

Here is to a happy and prosperous 2013.

Ric Flair Returns On Raw, Undertaker Not Done

RAW_1021_Photo_065Coming off a surprisingly strong Tables Ladders and Chair, the WWE is going into full Rock promotion mode. There were multiple commercials during the show and he’s being promoted locally for various appearances. Hell, Punk has been talking about the Rock for months already. Yes, there will be other matches at the upcoming Royal Rumble (including the rumble itself) but this is all anyone cares about.

But forget about all that, it’s the Slammys!

The Slammys were already meaningless, but now all of the voting is done online. WWE doesn’t have the best history with accurate fan vote results, so this show could largely be a wash. At least we get to see Lawler in a tuxedo.

The show kicks off with Mysterio in singles action against Damien Sandow with Sin Cara and Cody Rhodes in their respective partner’s corner. They must have taken my advice from last night because During Rey’s intro, Rey waved over for Sin Cara to come join him. That’s how it should be. We don’t need Sin Cara jumping around like an idiot. Rumor is that he further injured his knee at TLC, and this doesn’t prove otherwise. Sandow controls the early going until he brings Mysterio up on the top turnbuckle. Mysterio beats Damien back to the mat and gets going. Hurricarana, dropkick, 619, top rope splash, quick win for Mysterio. I feel like the matches will be on the quick side most of the night to make time for all the Slammys.

Hide your kids, hide your wife
Hide yo kids, hide yo wife

Booker T comes out to announce the most shocking moment of the year. The nominees are Brad Maddox’s low blow on Ryback, Sheamus beating Bryan at WrestleMania, Kofi walking on his hands to avoid elimination at the Royal Rumble, and Punk turning heel on Rock. Before Booker can announce the winner, he’s interrupted by the Boogie Man! He smashes the alarm clock over his head and runs around with worms as they go to break. Booker looks like he just crapped his pants. When they come back Booker says “Tell me I did not see that.” I assume Boogie Man ran around with worms for the length of the break. Back to the award, Brad Maddox walks out expecting his name to be called, but instead Kofi Kingston wins it. Punk got robbed.

Back in the ring Kaitlyn is going against Eve and she is smacking the Divas Champion around literally. Kaitlyn wants revenge for Eve causing her to lose the battle royal last night to get a title shot. Eve gets Kaitlyn in the corner for her choke move but Kaitlyn lifts her up and drops her on her knees (clumsily) to get the quick win. She holds up Eve’s title and in all likelihood they will meet at the Rumble.

The New Age Outlaws are back! Billy Gunn signed with WWE recently and is back with the Road Dogg. Jesse James does the whole schtick before getting into the Comeback of the Year Award. The nominees are Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, DX and Jerry Lawler. Of course Jerry Lawler is going to win. He came back from the dead for crying out loud! They have another commercial break before announcing the winner of course so that everyone can download the WWE app and vote on the awards. This just has to be incredibly awkward for everyone in the arena. Are Gunn and Road Dogg just standing there the whole time? Anyway Lawler wins. Obviously.

“Tell me I did not see that” winner and Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston in the ring now facing Tensai. Tensai dominates Kofi through “Albert” chants from the crowd. He misses on a dive in the turnbuckle though and Kofi hits him with Trouble in Paradise to win yet another quick match. Afterwards however Wade Barrett spoils the celebration by puling Kofi out of the ring, throwing him into the ring post and delivering a Bull Hammer elbow to knock him out. I assume they will meet again. The only question is if it will be at Royal Rumble or not. Normally I’d say definitely but some talent needs to actually be in the rumble.

One closer to #AJALL
One closer to #AJALL

Vickie Guerrero out now to announce the winner of Kiss of the Year. The nominees are all involving AJ. AJ and Daniel Bryan, AJ and Kane, AJ and CM Punk, and AJ and John Cena. #AJALL anyone? Vickie gets on the soapbox to say she would never get involved with anyone at work, while AJ’s kiss with Cena gets the win. AJ comes out for the award and Vickie asks her to explain her actions at TLC. Instead AJ grabs the award and says she cared too much about what everyone thought about her in the past but not anymore. Vickie calls her a piece of trash and they start arguing until Dolph Ziggler comes out to break it up. AJ then tells Vickie that her and Cena might have won kiss of the year, “but it is nothing compared to this” and proceeds to jump into Ziggler’s arms and make out with him. Vickie screams bloody murder and storms off. AJ then skips away and leaves Dolph staggered. We all saw that one coming, right?

Khali up next against David Otunga. Jobber versus jobber. Something has to give. Natalya is in Khali’s corner and he almost immediately hits a few big chops. He misses on a kick though and Otunga beats him down. Khali puts a boot up to tag Otunga running at him in the corner, hits him with the chop to the head and gets the pin. That was longer than the Kofi match. This is a total waste.

Ric Flair in the house! At least his voice anyway. He is heard announcing the nominees for Superstar of the Year. It is between John Cena, CM Punk, Sheamus and Big Show. Should be Punk. More importantly is the sound of Flair’s voice. Very curious if he is in the building or not. Back from break, Ric Flair sure is in the house! It had been rumored for a while but for it to be so sudden is pretty surprising. JBL said it’s like Babe Ruth returning to Yankee Stadium. His best days were not in the WWE, although they own the rights to all the companies his best days were in so I guess it works. Somehow, John Cena wins Superstar of the Year and the Philadelphia crowd does not seem to agree. Cena does that dopey smirk (the same one he did when he lost last night) as the crowd chants “Ziggler’s better” and talks about working harder than anyone else and thanking the fans and all that. Out of respect, he says that the superstar of the year should be the greatest superstar of all time, and gives the award to Flair. He walks about and Flair starts to talk but gets cut off  by CM Punk. He says Cena winning is a joke since he has done nothing but lose all year (true) and that Flair wasn’t even in the organization this year. Punk gets in Flair’s face and says that he’s man. Flair checks his diamond studded watch and tells him it’s time to walk. Punk says that even with one leg he can still kick his ass. Flair brings up his four ex-wives, beating Punk to the punch before challenging him to a fight in the ring. Flair goes down the ramp into the ring waiting for Punk who slowly makes his way into the ring. Punk then hits Flair with his crutch and takes him down. He struts and goes for another shot before Flair gives him an eye gauge. Punk rolls out of the ring and Flair puts the figure four on Heyman. Good spot and cool way to bring back Flair.

WCW reunion!
WCW reunion!

Still in the ring, Flair grabs the mic and says that he and Lawler and never going to die, but if he’s going to go he wants to go as a part of this organization (or with a woman from Philadelphia). He continues to talk until the Shield starts to appear in the crowd. Not to be forgotten is a sign that says “I just Mizzed My Pants.” Well done whoever you are. They go to commercial and when they come back Kane and Bryan are helping Flair against Shield. Ambrose takes out Flair and then the group takes out Team Hell No. Flair gets dragged out of the ring and they prepare to put him through the announce table when Ryback comes out. He takes all of them out, throwing Rollins onto the announce table. It doesn’t break, he just bounces off. Flair, Kane, Bryan and Ryback all get back in the ring and Flair shakes Ryback’s hand and they all hold their arms up. Shouldn’t Ryback want to eat him or something? A little out of character. They then put Flair on their shoulders and give him another ovation. I was with the whole thing until that last part. I dunno, it was just a little too much for me.

Backstage Flair is talking to Kane and Bryan. Kane is celebrating how they finally took down the Shield, yelling YES! This gets Bryan shouting NO! That gets Flair yelling WOO! Finally Ron Simmons shows up to stop things with an emphatic DAMN! A lot of screen time for Flair.

Another weird squash match as Brodus Clay faces JTG. JTG hits move off the top rope after a quick burst from Clay. Brodus then hits a couple of clotheslines and a splash in the corner before hitting the headbutt and What the Funk (that’s what it’s called right?) to win for the first time in what seems like ages.

Now for some reason Santino and Tensai are out to announce LOL moment of the year. Tensai is wearing a bandage and ice on his head after losing to Kofi, he even falls coming out to the stage. Tensai refuses to talk to Santino, while referring to him as Albert, says his lines for him. He says that his name is Tensai, which in Japan means “Fat Albert.” Tensai gets pissed and Santino says he was just reading the teleprompter. Tensai then actually speaks, yelling that there is no teleprompter. This could finally be the character change Albert so desperately needs. Maybe he will go back to being Prince Albert. It makes so much sense. No one sees him as anything else. Anyway the nominees are Rock making fun of Cena, the anger management sessions, Randy Orton pouring coffee and sauce on Ricardo, and Vickie Guerrero dancing. It has to be the anger management sessions right? Well it’s not. It’s the Rock. He isn’t there and Santino takes it in his place. Bryan comes out to grab the award saying that it should be his. He’s damn right. Kane drags him away.

I guess Sin Cara is okay because he’s facing Cody Rhodes. They actually brought the lights down for him. Can’t imagine why they are bringing that back. Sin Cara does some low impact jumpy moves before Cody starts using real wresting moves. Cody continues smacking and kicking Sin Cara around until Sin Cara rolls toward the ropes. When Rhodes goes after him he gets met with a swinging kick to the face and Sin Cara hits a hurricarana. Cody blocks another attempt at a swinging whirly whatever, hits the Cross Rhodes and takes the match. His push continues.

Zack Ryder and Layla out next to announce the Trending Now Hashtag of the Year (oh god). The nominees are #feedmemore, #peoplepower (hey a Laurinaitis mention!), #littlejimmy and #wwwyki. I assume Ryder wins by default but I have only gotten one right so far. Well I’m wrong and it is #feedmemore. I feel like they were expecting Ryder to win as he took the trophy before it was announces and said he would go to the back to hand it to him. Kind of awkward.

Big Show in the ring now with his big chair from TLC to brag about beating Sheamus. As he gets booed he asks what he has to do for everyone to understand that he is the most dominant wrestler in the WWE. The crowd chants “boring” and he starts berating them before Sheamus interrupts to tell Show he has no regrets about their match. He calls it one of the most brutal matches he’s ever been in (just like he did two months ago). Between lines a fan yells “You suck Sheamus!” He says Big Show was the better man and deserves the title. He then shakes hands with Big Show and starts to walk out, when Big Show tells him to get to the back and calls him a potato eating Irishman. Sheamus then loses it and takes him down, hitting him with the giant chair before knocking him out with a Brogue Kick. Didn’t they do this same act last month? Forget all that because Dolph Ziggler just came out with the briefcase and Big Show is out cold! He tries to get the match to start but  Cena come out and attacks Ziggler before anything can get started. He throws him into the barriers walks back up the ramp. We were so close to having Ziggler take the World Heavyweight Championship. Pretty heelish move by Cena. Backstage Ziggler is demanding Vickie Guerrero to do something about Cena, but all Vickie wants to know is what is going on between him and AJ since TLC. Dolph confirms with Vickie that their “relationship” is over, and that her jealousy is getting “tired, old, and just plain ugly” just like her (BURN!). Vickie decides to put Ziggler in a match with AJ against Cena, and Vickie is going to be Cena’s partner. Great. More lady drama.

Enter Sandman
Enter Sandman

On to 3MB in a six man tag match against Alberto Del Rio, Miz, and since they are in Philadelphia where ECW was born, Tommy Dreamer! This is turning into the tag team version of Slater’s legend run. Needless to say, ECW chants are pretty strong tonight. First for Heyman, and now for Dreamer. He looks pretty good out there. Puts some finish on all of his blows. He also got censored for saying “son of a bitch.” Then with all of 3MB outside the ring, Dreamer jumps off the top rope and takes out the whole team. Dreamer never got enough of a shot in WWE. 3MB controls the middle of the match with Miz taking the punishment. It takes a while too. Occasionally Miz gets a chance to tag out but he keeps getting stopped. Finally Del Rio gets the hot tag and he works on Slater. He shoves McIntyre into the announce table but the camera never shows it. Meanwhile Del Rio has Slater set up for the arm breaker but Dreamer begs to be tagged in. Alberto abides and Tommy plants Slater with a DDT to win the match. Match of the night so far but mainly just because it actually went longer than three minutes.

Sheamus out again, this time to announce the winner of the Newcomer of the Year award that he won three years ago. The nominees are Antonio Cesaro, Brodus Clay, Damien Sandow and Ryback. I’d have to guess that it’s Ryback, even though to me it’s Sandow. He’ll be my new guy when Ziggler gets too big and he isn’t as cool to root for anymore. That’s coming soon by the way (don’t worry Dolph, you’ll always be my guy). Finally I get one right. He couldn’t come out for his hashtag award, but he comes out for this. He quotes Owen Hart, saying “enough is enough, and it’s time for a change.” He then declares that he is that change and gets a “Feed me more” chant going. He’s shown more personality tonight than he has in his entire career. That is the first major step in making him more than a one note wonder.

The second step is having him in face better opponents and he gets a shot at that now with a match against Cesaro. He says that the voting is rigged (DUH) because he is stronger and smarter than Ryback, and he’s a champion. Cesaro jumps right in with an uppercut but Ryback answers with a Lou Thesz press. With “Goldberg” chants in full force Ryback holds Cesaro up for a suplex just like Goldberg did with the Jackhammer. Cesaro responds with a spine buster and goes for the Neutralizer but Ryback power out of it and hits a spine buster of his own. Ryback taunts for the meathook clothesline, but Cesaro sees it coming and just rolls out of the ring (everyone should do this). Ryback comes down and throws Cesaro back in with a gorilla press but Antonio just rolls his way out on the other side and leaves the ring with his United States Championship. Ryback wins by countout and is not happy about it.

Still can't get over the hair
Still can’t get over the hair

Jim Ross along with Mean Gene Oklerlund and Ricky The Dragon Steamboat to announce the Match of the Year award. The nominees are Triple H versus the Undertaker at WrestleMania, Brock Lesnar versus John Cena at Extreme Rules, Sheamus versus Big Show at Hell in a Cell, and Rock versus Cena at WrestleMania. I’d personally vote for Sheamus/Big Show, but I think Rock/Cena will win. Of course I’m wrong again because it’s Undertaker versus Triple H. Triple H is actually in the house to accept the award, haircut and all! He looks like a totally different person with that hair. After a heavy “We want ‘Taker” chant, he says that match gave him the opportunity to be part of something truly special along with Michaels and Undertaker. Triple H then confirms that we have not heard the last of the Undertaker. BOMBSHELL! This of course doesn’t necessarily mean that he will be at this year’s WrestleMania, but that has to be the assumption right? There has been a lot of talk over whether or not he can go and who he could face. The front runner seems to be CM Punk, which would make for an epic moment for him. Lesnar, Ryback and dare I say, Sting have all been rumored as possible opponents. Punk seems to be the most realistic. It would be the ultimate showcase for his talents and can further catapult him into legendary status. The same could be said for Ryback but it just wouldn’t be the same type of exhibition. Lesnar makes sense dating back to their beef when Lesnar was in UFC, and of course Sting has always wanted to face him. There is a lot to speculate on but it’s good to know that the Undertaker has at least one more match in him.

Backstage the Shield is beating up Tommy Dreamer, tossing him around the garage. Somehow Ricardo Rodriguez is the first to defend him and he gets beat up for his troubles. I guess Del Rio will be joining the fight against Shield next.

Time for the main event mixed gender tag match. AJ comes out first (no she’s not in Ziggler gear) and demands that a ladder be set up in the middle of the ring. She climbs to the top of the ladder and says that people have been asking her why she screwed Cena (no, not that way) at TLC. Before she can actually say why however, Vickie interrupts to talk trash, followed by Ziggler and Cena making their entrances. “Ziggler’s better” fills the crowd and Cena once again can’t help but smirk while Ziggler shakes it off. They start the match off, Ziggler gets an armlock on Cena but John powers out of it and Dolph tags in AJ. Vickie comes in and it turns into a stupid cat fight until AJ gets up and leaves the ring. Dolph goes after Cena, Vickie gives Dolph a dirty look and leaves the ring as well. So now the ladies are gone and it’s just Cena versus Ziggler, which is how it outta be. No one wants to see AJ fight Vickie. Ziggler escapes an Attitude Adjustment and hits a jumping DDT and delivers a flurry of elbows. Ziggler then goes for a superkick but misses and Cena applies the STF. Meanwhile AJ comes back to ringside with Big E Langston (whoever that is) from NXT (oh okay). Langston walks into the ring like a robot and drops Cena like a bad habit. Cena wins via DQ and Ziggler just looks confused while AJ stands outside laughing. The show ends with AJ skipping around Langston with Cena still laid out.

The Nation of Domination called. They want their look back
The Nation of Domination called. They want their look back

A very strange and unsuspenseful ending to a very underwhelming Raw. If it wasn’t for Flair, Dreamer and the Undertaker announcement there would have been no reason to watch it at all. Lets hope better things are around the corner. Since Royal Rumble is next through there doesn’t have to be a normal progression of feuds going into a PPV. Most of the roster will be in the rumble aside from a few other matches so they might not bother too much. It is all about Rock/Punk anyway. There is the 20th anniversary of Raw coming up on January 14th, so some big things can be expected to happen then, but otherwise a lot of place holders could be left until the PPV after rumble.

AJ Turns On Cena As Heels Dominate TLC

TLC12_Photo_181Tables, Ladders and Chairs is here, and the talent not on the card is almost as big as the talent that will actually be performing. We all know about CM Punk’s leg surgery, but over the last week Randy Orton separated his shoulder. So now two of the company’s top stars are out due to injury. The Miz and Alberto Del Rio are left off the card entirely. It’s possible that if Orton were healthy it would be him and Miz joining Ryback against the Shield. That’s all irrelevant at this point. Let’s get to the people who can actually wrestle now.

Before the show starts of course there is a tribute to the victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut. It is always an incredibly awkward and difficult situation for any live programming to acknowledge something like this while still going on with the show. Saturday Night Live had to deal with the same thing last night.

 

Mmmmmustache
Mmmmmustache

The first match of the show is the tag team table match between the Rhodes Scholars and Mysterio and Sin Cara to determine the number one contender for the tag team championship. Sin Cara had the pyrotechnics removed from his entrance. He might as well just walk behind Mysterio during his entrance. Sandow and Rhodes made fun of Brooklyn for being full of hipsters with ridiculous facial hair. Well done. Mysterio and Sin Cara start it off by doing all their flipping moves for a minute before breaking out the tables from under the ring. Instead of driving their opponents into a table, instead they each hold an end of the table and run into Sandow. Rhodes throws Mysterio out of the ring like a bowling ball and the Rhodes Scholars start double teaming Sin Cara. Everything is as it should be. Eventually Sandow ends up on the outside and Rhodes hits a disaster kick on Sin Cara. Remember when that was essentially a finisher? Sandow throws Mysterio around while Rhodes wedges Sin Cara’s leg between the ring post and the steel steps. They then run into the steps with a table. All Rhodes Scholars at the moment. They set up a pair of tables next to each other and lay Mysterio and Sin Cara on them. Rey jumps up before anything could happen though and starts taken out Sandow and Rhodes by himself. Rey hits a 619 on Rhodes to get him on a table but Sandow stops Mysterio from jumping off the top rope. It’s then Sin Cara hitting his kick from the ropes on both Rhodes and Sandow. Wit Sin Cara now on the outside of the ropes, he went for a springboard move but Cody jumped in to push him down onto the tables outside the ring and win the match for Team Rhodes Scholars. They now get a title shot against Kane and Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble. They are really trying to reestablish Rhodes. He’s now gotten the win in each of their last couple of matches. Okay match. I was hoping for more from everyone involved. Only a couple of actual attempts to put someone through a table. Everything just seemed very safe (aside from the finish of course).

Cut to a handheld video of the Shield. They are mad at Ryback for injuring Punk so that he can’t defend his WWE Championship. They say he is reckless and they are going to “feed him more than he can handle.” (Get it?) They are also mad at Kane and Daniel Bryan because they don’t get along, when a team should work together. Really. That’s the reason they don’t like them. They are a disgrace to the tag team division because they fight each other. That’s pretty damn weak. Once again Ambrose takes the lead while Rollins and Reigns are relegated to one liners.

United States Championship now on the line as Antonio Cesaro defends against R-Truth. The best part about this match so far is that Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett aren’t ringside. It would have been very easy to put Cesaro and Barrett together as foreigners. Considering how linked this match has been to the Intercontinental title match, I’m actually very surprised that they didn’t create a foreign power staple. Truth yells “USA” early and no one reacts. This has been the whole back story of the match. They want it to be USA versus the World. The problem is it’s 2012 and that stuff just doesn’t work as much anymore. WWE is a global product and they should act as such. I’m proud to say that JBL isn’t for it either. When he isn’t pandering to the crowd, Truth turns to a handful of sneaky rollups early to try to steal the win. Cesaro then starts powering down Truth and that finally gets the coveted “USA” chants going. I wonder what viewers outside the 50 states think when they go all pro USA. I imagine they do t care for the propaganda very much either. Truth levels the field with a series of kicks as a “Lil Jimmy” chant starts. That is immediately followed by Cesaro throwing Truth into the ref causing Truth to slow down and giving Antonio the opening to hit the Neutralizer for the win. Short match. Truth looks to just be a placeholder until a more worthy challenger arises. Why he got two US title shots though is anyone’s guess. Both men looked good while they were out there at least. Hopefully a better opponent takes on Cesaro next time. He’ll get moved up the card sooner rather than later.

Dolph Ziggler continues to get mic time as he does an interview with Josh Matthews. He’s bitching about how Cena already had his MITB shot and Ziggler has nothing to win and everything to lose. If it was up to him, Cena would have to put his job on the line like Jericho did earlier in the year. Dolph promises that everything changes tonight. Pretty good promo. Let’s hope he’s right.

 

About FACE (get it?)
About FACE (get it?)

Meanwhile it looks like they found something for the Miz to do. Sadly that something is hosting Miz TV. Not only that, but his guests are 3MB. Jerry Lawler said he “used to be in a band called T-mobile, but they kept breaking up.” JBL responded by saying “Billy Gibbons is rolling over in his grave and he’s not even dead (look it up!).” Easily the line of the night so far. Drew McIntyer says they are better than Jay-Z. That’s the quickest way to get on Brooklyn’s bad side. They promise to perform live at the Slammys during Raw tomorrow. They then pick a fight with the Spanish announcers because they can’t understand what they are saying. For whatever reason Jinder Mahal is in on that as well. They start attacking the announcers when Ricardo Rodriguez comes out to defend them. Here comes that Del Rio face turn we’ve been hearing about. Alberto comes to help Ricardo and takes out 3MB and got a decent pop in the process. The numbers catch up to Del Rio until Miz finally steps in to assist. So now Miz and Del Rio are faces and they are working together? Remember when they got into a real fight backstage? Anyway Heath Slater is too happy about how things turned out, so they challenged Miz and Alberto to find a partner and challenge them tonight. Looks like they made it on the card after all. The crowd gets a “We want Ryder” chant going. If fan opinion means anything, and the shown being in Brooklyn, Ryder seems like the obvious choice.

After a Rock Royal Rumble commercial (I’m surprised we didn’t start seeing those sooner) Kane and Bryan are in the locker room talking about their match. Bryan is annoyed that Ryback keeps saying the same thing over and over. Kane tries to mention the irony in that but Bryan doesn’t see it. They then cut a promo about how they’ll beat the Shield. They are totally on the same page. Does that mean the Shield is okay with them now?

Kofi Kingston defends his Intercontinental Championship next against Wade Barrett. Barrett cut a short promo backstage before coming out and the crowd digs him. He’s already beaten Kofi twice recently so he has all the reasons in the world to be confident. Kofi doesn’t get much of a reaction from the crowd, but at the same time the crowd has seemed a little soft the entire night. Just as I write that sentence Cole proclaims that it is a very vocal crowd. They are chanting things, but it’s not exactly a raucous crowd. Barrett establishes his power game early outside the ring. Wade tries thawing Kofi into the side of the ring but Kingston jumps up over the bottom rope and then dives back through the ropes outside the ring into Barrett. Back in the ring Barrett slows down the match once again. Barrett delivers a second rope elbow for a two count and a “Let’s go Barrett” chant gets going. Kofi almost immediately gets going with his signature moves, hits the Boom Drop but Barrett ducks under Trouble in Paradise and kicks out of the SOS after a two count. After a swinging side slam, Barrett sets Kofi up for a Bull Hammer elbow but Kingston pulls a Trouble in Paradise kick out of nowhere to retain his title. Very good match. Barrett looked better in defeat than Kofi in victory, and Wade is nicely established to continue his push.

CM Punk now makes his appearance of the night from a luxury box in the arena. He has a pretty sweet “Knees 2 Faces” shirt taken after the Rock’s “Boots 2 Asses” shirt last year. He says the status of his knee is none of the fans business, and that he’d rather be in Chicago than in the slums of Staten Island (burn!). He then says Ryback is lucky he hurt Punk because otherwise he’d beat Ryback again. He says the Shield (who he likes but is not affiliated with) with do the same. He winds things up by saying that he will start and end 2013 as WWE Champion and that he’s just getting started.

Okay I'll give Ryback credit for this one
Okay I’ll give Ryback credit for this one

Now that Punk has promoted it, on to the Shield versus Team Hell No and Ryback match. They are making a big deal out of this being a TLC match where you don’t have to climb a ladder to win. Doesn’t that just make it an extreme rules match? Bryan easily got the biggest reaction out of all the faces. Shield makes their entrance through the crowd to a pretty good pop (still wearing their combat gear). They get attacked the moment then step over the ramp. First in the ring is Ryback and Ambrose. They exchange chops, which obviously doesn’t go well for Ambrose. Rollins and Reigns gang up on him however and they take control and move on to Bryan, attacking him with a ladder. Ryback then grabs the ladder and swings it like a chair at Shield. He’s only slowed down when Reigns goes at him with a chair. Kane and Bryan then get involved again, double teaming Reigns featured by a throwing him into a chair in the corner and then having Kane throw Bryan into him. The match has a very good pace and the crowd is into it. They definitely woke up. Ambrose hit Kane with a wicked DDT on a chair. He’s the least imposing looking person in the ring but he also might be the best wrestler not named Daniel Bryan in the match. Ryback got back in the ring and suplexed Ambrose and Rollins onto a ladder. That brought the house down. Meanwhile the crowd has been asking for tables the whole time. Shield gangs up on Ryback again and land the triple power bomb through the announce table. Kane and Bryan then get involved again but get beaten back down. Ambrose body slams Bryan while holding a chair against his back. With a table now in the ring, Rollins and Ambrose prop it up on the top turnbuckle in the corner of the ring, stand on it with Bryan and hit a double superplex. Second huge move of the match. Kane broke up the pin count and now he’s the one getting beat down. Crowd is loving it. They try the same trick on Kane but he fights back and jumps off the table onto Ambrose and chokeslams him through a standing chair. With Kane outside the ring Reigns speared him through the outside wall (that’s three now). Kane would not get up again. In the ring Bryan had Ambrose in the NO lock, broke it to apply it to Rollins, then again to put it on Reigns. Bryan then gets his head stomped into a chair as Ryback gets back up and cleans house. They try to gang up on him but Ryback spears, meathook clotheslines, and hits Shellshock on Ambrose. The pin is broken up by the rest of Shield however and the fight goes up the ramp. Ryback is again teamed up on and beaten down. They put him on a chair and Seth Rollins climbs a very tall ladder. Ryback gets up however, chases him to the top of the ladder and throws him down into a table (four). Back in the ring, Reigns power bombs Daniel Bryan off the top rope into a table and got the victory before Ryback could make it back there. Absolutely fantastic match. Ambrose was the star for me, but everyone was outstanding. They took a bad situation and made quite possibly an instant classic. Great in ring debut for the Shield, Ryback still looks unbeatable as he wasn’t near the finish, and team Hell No looked strong as well. Excellent job.

Am I getting too much of a kick out of this?
Am I getting too much of a kick out of this gimmick?

Killing the crowd for the next big match is Eve defending her championship against Naomi. Who’s Naomi? She’s one of Brodus Clay’s dancers. She won the Divas battle royal in the YouTube pre show after Eve interfered with Kaitlyn. She’s now won more than he has lately. Naomi actually looks pretty good. A hell of a lot better than she did in the pre show anyway. Lots of acrobatic moves and flips and a big leg drop as well. She makes one misstep however and Eve wins anyway on the swinging neck breaker. Once again Even poses with her fallen opponent for the ringside photographer. One of the more entertaining Divas matches I’ve seen in a while. Very surprising.

 

Where does a big man sit?
Where does a big man sit?

With the crowd now cooled it’s time for the World Heavyweight Championship chairs match between Big Show and Sheamus. It was announced before the match that chairs are legal. I guess everything else really is off limits. Since this means Ziggler/Cena closes, it’s highly unlikely Dolph cashes in here. Although, that could make the ladder match for the title, adding some last minute juice to the match. They start fast with Sheamus gaining the edge by taking out Show’s leg. About a minute in we get the first appearance of a chair. Sheamus runs at Show with a chair outside the ring and Show sidekicks Sheamus’ face into the chair for his trouble. It’s a flat out brawl. It’s a lot like their previous matches only kicked up a notch. Great flow. Show runs away from Sheamus with a chair in the ring but Sheamus catches him and delivers some chair shots before body slamming him for a two count. Sheamus then hits the flying shoulder with a chair in his hands. He goes for it again but this time Show spears him through the chair in mid air. Say what you want about his other moves, but Big Show’s spear is outrageous. Show grabs a chair and takes control, slowing the pace and adding the occasional chair shot. While Show went over the rope to leave the ring Sheamus jumped on the rope and somehow that caused damage. Worst move of the night. A flurry from Sheamus is countered with a chokeslam for a two count. Show then goes outside and throws four chairs into the ring. He puts one on Sheamus’ chest and lands a second rope splash for a two count. Show then takes another two chairs and goes for the chokeslam, but Sheamus counters with White Noise through the chairs for a near fall. Sheamus then misses the Brougue Kick, and gets hit with the KO punch bit kicks out of it. Remember the ladder match at MITB when they had the special ladder for Show? Well here they happened to have a giant chair for him to use. One shot in the back from that chair and Sheamus was knocked out. Big Show gets the win, and once again to cashing in from Dolph Ziggler. Let’s see if he still has to ability to do so after the main event. Good match, horrible ending. Sheamus got hit with much worse in the middle of the match and a shot from a giant chairs does him in? Weak sauce.

Backstage, AJ (in full Cena garb) apologizes to Cena for all the trouble she caused him and thanks him for the help. John says to thank him after he wins the match. AJ says she can’t wait and hops away. It’s awkward. It’s bad. It’s not necessary.

Yup, the Brawler
Yup, the Brawler

Before we get to the main event we must get through the 3MB versus team former heels match. No, Zack Ryder is not the third man. Instead they went really local and got the Brooklyn Brawler. He’s still wearing the same ratty jeans but switched his Yankees shirt out for a Nets jersey. He gets into the match and looks about as good as you can expect the Brooklyn Brawler to look in 2012. A “Brooklyn” chant starts but Cole thinks they are saying “Brawler” instead. Miz hits the skull crushing finale on Mahal and tags in the Brawler who applies one of the worst looking Boston Crabs (they called it a Brooklyn crab but I refuse) to get the win by submission. Del Rio had very little to do aside from a dive to the outside. Very curious how this face turn goes for Del Rio.

On to John Cena versus Dolph Ziggler for the Money in the Bank briefcase. I’m happy to report that my boy Dolph got a pretty nice pop. This could be his coming out party. A clean win over Cena to main event a PPV is not something that happens often. Of course he could also just get put back down a peg if he loses. After a short sequence running the ropes Ziggler grabs the ropes, jumps up, struts and the roof almost came off the building. The are pumped up for this. “Lets go Ziggler” chants started and both Cena and Dolph did not totally expect it. They are VERY anti Cena. Cena butchered a monkey flip where Dolph looked like he was supposed to do a full flip. Instead he just kind of landed on the side of his leg. Cena grabs a ladder but Ziggler baseball slides it into Cena and again the crowd goes nuts. Forget everything bad I said about this crowd. They were just holding back for the main events. Cena now has a cut over his eye as he grabs the steel steps and rams it into Dolph’s face. Big impact. With a table and a ladder set up in the ring, Ziggler locks a sleeper hold on Cena. Cena however starts climbing up the ladder with Ziggler on his back, and when John passes out they both go through the table. Ziggler gets up first and tries to climb the ladder, but Cena collapses the ladder and lifts it over his head with Dolph still on the ladder! I have to give it to him, that’s pretty awesome. Cena looks to throw Ziggler and the ladder out of the ring but Dolph rolls out (would have been crazy if he didn’t) and Cena goes into the five moves of doom. Ziggler kicks Cena when he leans in to inform Dolph that he is unable to view him and lands a fameasser. Ziggler brings a ladder and Cena rolls up Dolph and then applies the STF. Ziggler reaches the ropes and taps out but you can’t win by submission so it doesn’t matter. Cena then tries to throw the ladder at Dolph but he ducks, attempts to leap over the top rope for a cross body but Cena catches him and sets him up for an Attitude Adjustment. Ziggler wiggled out of it through and hits the Zig Zag, causing the crowd to go nuts. Ziggler leans a table in the corner but Cena hits him with the five knuckle shuffle. Ziggler again gets out of the AA and this time lands a jumping DDT. Dolph then grabs the bigger ladder from the ramp (that Rollins fell off) and brings it to the ring. Dolph climbs the ladder and has a hand on the case, and although it looked like he got there a little late Cena does meet him up there and they exchange blows. Ziggler gets knocked off but Cena can’t seem to reach the case in time and Ziggler gets back up to pull Cena down. Out of nowhere Cena pulls a hurricarana out of his ass and hurls Ziggler through the table in the corner. Didn’t know he had that in him. Ziggler then dropkicks Cena to take the ladder out of the ring. After two more attempts Cena finally lands the AA and Ziggler rolls out of the ring. Vickie Guerrero comes out however and looks to hit him with a chair. AJ then comes out to stop her and does her rendition of the five moves of doom. Vickie rolls out of the ring, Cena brings in a ladder and climbs up. All of a sudden AJ pushes the ladder down and takes Cena down to be met by a Ziggler super kick. Cray-J is back in full force! Crowd is going nuts for AJ as she smiles and skips away. Dolph Ziggler climbs up and grabs the briefcase. Ziggler wins! Ziggler wins! Great match, solid ending. In the biggest match of his career Dolph Ziggler also has the best match of his career. He was damn near perfect. He was okay when he faced Punk for the WWE Championship a while back but it never looked like he really had a chance to win. He just held his own against the face of the company. Cena was very good too, pulling put a couple of new wrinkles as he tends to do from time to time. The show closes with Cena making that Cena losing face where he half smiles like he knows he’s doing people a favor by losing.

Every PPV should end this way
Every PPV should end this way

It was a very interesting and entertaining pay per view to be sure. You had two absolutely fantastic matches, another good one, and the rest of the card one okay. About all you can ask for from a PPV these days. Even more interesting is that the heels won only every match. Rhodes Scholars, Cesarp. Eve, Shield, Ziggler. Miz and Del Rio were faces but they’re both reformed heels so that’s almost as good. This type of thing doesn’t happen very often so I suggest you appreciate it. For at least one night, Dolph Ziggler is on top of the world.

Main Event Brawl Ends Last Raw Before TLC

RAW_1020_Photo_184Somebody needs to turn on the hype machine.

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.

Welcome back Cody!
Welcome back Cody!

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.

Face!
Face!

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.

RAW_1020_Photo_098
Foot meets chair meets face

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.

Move of the night
Move of the night

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.

Rinse, repat
Rinse, repat

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.

Ryback Fights Shield, TLC Stipulations Announced On Raw

RAW_1019_Photo_182I think everyone needs to realize that Ryback was not intended to be in the top tier of the WWE. Not yet anyway. He was getting set up to possibly take the Intercontinental Championship from the Miz and be brought through the ranks slowly, allowing WWE to see what they have. However since John Cena couldn’t perform and the roster is so paper thin (mainly because the young stars don’t get pushed enough), Ryback was pushed into the title scene. So now he’s here. But let’s be clear, he’s not getting the WWE Championship anytime soon.

This is wear the Shield comes in.

They are coming in at the perfect time. If they can distract Ryback from Punk, they can effectively put Ryback back into midcard status where he belongs (for now). Punk faces Rock at Royal Rumble, and everyone is happy (until the next day’s Raw anyway). The trick is getting these things to actually happen. I’m holding a small glimmer of hope that WWE creative makes another last minute main event change like last month, finding new opponents for both CM Punk and Ryback. With two weeks to a TLC PPV, there’s no time like the present.

You got Shielded!
You got Shielded!

This week’s Raw starts off with Team Hell No (I still can’t stand writing that) against the Prime Time Players. Right away Kane and Bryan notice Shield in a luxury box (how did they afford those prices?), and Kane tries to talk them into entering the ring. They don’t budge however and we’re on to the match. Minutes later they cut back to the group and only Ambrose is alone in the box. Michael Cole just informed us that WWE.com informed him that Kane has competed in the most matches in WWE history. I feel like that says more about the ridiculous schedule the current superstars have than anything else. The match itself is boring as hell. Eventually they cut to Reigns and Ambrose scattered around the lower level of the arena, slowly making their way toward the ring. They can say they aren’t the NWO, but they sure do act like them. Michael Cole continues sliding toward being a heel again, defending Shield but still playing it mostly even. Lawler on the other hand reacts like Cole is promoting burning down orphanages. With Kane and Bryan focused on Shield, Darren Young tries to roll up Bryan, but Bryan reverses and gets the pin. That’s when Shield comes out and attacks. Kane gets his hand smashed against the side of the steel steps, and Seth Rollins runs into the ring to attack Bryan, finishing with the three man power bomb they applied to Ryback. They leave the ring and get a ton of heat. Average match turns into another Shield promo.

Backstage Cena and Sheamus act like dopes before getting serious about their tag match against Big Show and Ziggler. I’d be a little concerned about Shield if I were them (and if wrestling was real). Keeping the stories together, this is followed by AJ skipping down the ramp to face Tamina. I thought this was going to be saved for a PPV. Oh well. Tamina applies an old school torture rack and AJ tries to cat fight but Tamina isn’t having it. Snuka goes toward the corner for a splash but AJ rolls up the slow moving Tamina for the win. Tamina’s pissed, this won’t be the last we see of these two. Let’s here it for a full AJ match that had nothing to do with Cena, Ziggler or Vickie.

AJ and Tamina barely get out of the ring before CM Punk and Paul Heyman make their entrance for a promo (they get plenty of time to exit as a commercial break starts as soon as he gets in the ring). Before they get to anything else, Heyman plugs the WWE Encyclopedia, saying that while it doesn’t have enough CM Punk in it, it does show Punk passing John Cena on the longest title reign list and therefore the is best in the world. Punk is complaining about being forced to face Ryback for a third straight month, and that he is the reason everyone  watches “these dismal three-hour Monday Night Raw’s” (yeah, he said it), and again denies having anything to do with Brad Maddox or Shield. After telling everyone to go home if they don’t like him, Miz comes out and says Punk is lying on all fronts, and says he at least admits that he cheated to keep his title during his run. Miz challenges Punk to come onto Miz TV (ughhhhhhhhh) for a lie detector test. They are really going full face mode with Miz. Heyman and Punk constantly refer to Miz by his real name. Punk calls him Mike, Heyman calls him Mizanin. I always get a kick out of that stuff. Miz calls Heyman a walrus, causing the crowd to chant at him and I’m sure it’s trending right now. Punk eventually accepts, and it looks like that story is actually going to go somewhere. Perhaps Miz will fill in for Ryback at TLC? Even though that happened last year in the triple threat match with Punk and Del Rio, I’d still prefer that swap.

Cena/Sheamus versus Ziggler/Big Show next. Jerry Lawler just discovered what Dolph’s shirt said. Sadly, Ziggler has to play the role of jobber in this match and gets smacked around to make Cena and Sheamus look good, and Big Show look even better when he starts dominating. Also, no mention at all about that Cena ankle injury. Sheamus and Big Show both came in off hot tags and Sheamus really took it to Show, driving his shoulder into Show in the corner. Sheamus then tried for the flying shoulder off the top rope but got speared by Show instead. Everyone is getting their moment to sell moves. Cena flew off Show trying to hit his diving shoulder, Show sold to Sheamus, Sheamus sold to Show, Ziggler just sells for everyone. Fun match. Sheamus got busted open in the same spot between his eyes that he always bleeds. I know most wrestlers use spray tan, but I think Sheamus uses spray white, and it looks like it rubbed off on Ziggler’s arm. Anyway Cena gets a hot tag now and pulls up Ziggler for the Attitude Adjustment, but Show breaks it up with a kick. Sheamus then tries to hit Show with the Brogue Kick but Show catches it and tries for a chokeslam. Sheamus escapes that however and lifts Show up for White Noise, at the same time Cena hits the AA on Ziggler and pin Dolph for the win. Nice finish. The only problem is that there is absolutely no need to have Cena face Ziggler at TLC. Cena has beaten him clean in one on one and tag team action. Why would I want to see it again?

Double your pleasure
Double your pleasure

Damien Sandow out in the ring looking at the crowd for an apprentice. He picks a guy in a Lil’ Jimmy shirt and gets him in the ring to answer questions. The guy seems like a total plant. He correctly answers what H2O makes and who the first president was, but he couldn’t identify John Keats as the author of the line Sandow quotes, and Damien recites this to him, “Ignorance is curable, but stupid is forever. Now forever leave my presence.” Fantastic. I’ve been watching a lot of the Genius lately, and I know appreciate Poffo and Sandow more because of it. What they do in the ring and on the mic is so brilliant. The crowd eats it up. Santino (without the mohawk and mullet) comes out to defend the banished man, and asks Sandow a question based on the seashells tongue twister that he turns into a conch shell joke, which for some reason ends in Santino trying to “conch” Sandow in the head with the mic, so Damien pops him one. Seems reasonable. He was invading his personal space. This is all just build up for their match.  Sandow wins by hitting his finisher after Santino missed a head butt off the top rope. He also threw the cobra sock into the crowd. You’re welcome.

Backstage, Vickie is starting to doubt Ziggler’s ability to beat Cena (can’t imagine why) but Ziggler talks her into booking a rematch at TLC, where he promises to steal the show. Guerrero agrees, calling Dolph “baby” in the process and almost kissing him (dun dun DUN!). Vickie goes back in her office, where Brad Maddox (yes, THAT Brad Maddox) is waiting with his camera crew. He sure did recover quickly from getting destroyed by Ryback. Maddox is trying to talk Vickie into signing him to a contract. She grants Brad a match, and if he wins he gets a contract. She won’t reveal who it is yet. Ryback again? Maybe Tensai will job to him.

Before we get to any of that though, here come the mexicans! Sin Cara versus Alberto Del Rio. Brad Maddox is now trending apparently. What does it take to get something trending? Is three people enough? I really don’t think Brad Maddox is grabbing many headlines right now. Although he is a Triple H guy. Sin Cara administers a flurry of moves on Del Rio before Alberto finally starts over powering Sin Cara. Del Rio misses on a dive through the ropes and loses the momentum. Sin Cara is constantly adjusting his mask. I don’t think he likes it. Sure enough, Del Rio applies a face hold in the ring and tries to remove the mask. We saw his jaw! Del Rio turns it into a pin but only gets a two count. Now I think Sin Cara split his pants. This guy is a mess. Despite all that he hits Del Rio with a jumping DDT off the top rope. Sin Cara was i full control but he missed on a dive off the top rope, giving Del Rio the opening to apply the cross arm breaker and secure the win via submission. About as good of a match from Sin Cara as you could ask for. Del Rio was his normal consistent self.

Backstage Vince McMahon is in the house! He asks some lackey to tell Vickie Guerrero that he wants to speak with her in the ring now. So not only does Vickie have to go out to the ring, but she has to announce Vince into the ring. After what happened with Survivor Series, I have hope for some more changes. Vickie sells him on Cena versus Ziggler, but Vince talks her into having them face off in a ladder match for the Money in the Bank briefcase. I like the idea, but the thought of Cena getting a second Money in the Bank shot makes me sick. Vickie says it isn’t fair to Ziggler, but Vince says she isn’t being fair to AJ and Cena for pushing their “scandal” so Vickie makes the match official (because she can do that I guess). Vince then talks Vickie into creating a stipulation to the lie detector test, where if Punk is found to be lying, Paul Heyman will face Ryback. Ugh. So Punk versus Ryback is definitely on, Ziggler can potentially lose his MITB briefcase to Cena of all people, and Paul Heyman could find himself in the ring against Ryback next week. Not a lot of good coming out of this.

RAW_1019_Photo_132
Goodbye again

Brad Maddox (without music) out to the ring to try to secure a WWE contract. Who is his opponent? Randy Orton! He just has nothing to do right now. Orton goes right into the second rope DDT and hits the RKO for the quick pin. So no contract for Maddox, but Shield comes in and bum rushes Orton. Powerbomb and out. So now that’s Kane and Bryan twice, Ryback twice, and Randy Orton. The CM Punk connection is slowly getting debunked. Of course the lie detector could nullify all of that. Damn you WWE, you sure know how to keep my attention just enough to prevent me from turning away. I just want to see these guys get into matches already. At least 3MB has matches.

Backstage, Vickie is getting chewed out by Ziggler. He says that she is becoming a lot like AJ, an ungrateful power hungry amateur. That cut her deep. Heyman then comes in and stares her down. Vickie then says for his sake, Punk better be telling the truth. Heyman looks like he’s doing an impression of Bluto in Animal House. Cena then comes in to gloat about getting the MITB shot, and how when he wins the case he will cash in successfully. The one thing this does do is create a new option for Rock, Punk and Cena. If Punk and Rock meet at the Royal Rumble, Cena can cash in the case on whoever wins. That could mean Rock could face Cena again with Cena as WWE Champion. That way Rock can beat Punk and not have to worry about making appearances between then and WrestleMania. I’d hate to see Dolph lose his MITB case, but it certainly does add some flavor to the situation.

In any language, champion
In any language, champion

Kofi and Truth back together in the ring for a tag match against Cesaro and Wade Barrett. Before they get started however, Teddy Long comes out. Wait a minute. It’s already a tag match, playa. What else can he do? He decides to turn it into a fatal four way match for either Kofi’s Intercontinental Championship, or Cesaro’s United States Championship. Which belt gets put on the line is left to the WWE Universe. Let’s see if they mess with the numbers like they did with Miz going to team Foley and Kane being picked over Bryan. With 83% of thew vote, the United States Championship is put on the line. It plays out just like the triple threat matches lately. All but two men get thrown out of the ring, creating one on one action for most of the match. The most interesting spot was when it was just Kofi and Truth in the ring. The allies shook hands and had a nice sequence of holds culminating in simultaneous dropkicks ending in a draw. They then turned their attention to Barrett and Cesaro. Outside the ring, Kofi tried a leaping attack from the steel steps but Cesaro met him in the air with an uppercut. It’s a pretty great crowd pleasing move. Everyone basically hits their second primary move for a two count broken up by one of the other competitors. Barrett went for a superplex on Truth, but Kofi grabbed Barrett for a powerbomb at the same time, taking them all out. Truth then hits Cesaro with a kick to the head, Truth gets knocked out with a Bull Hammer elbow from Barrett who then gets knocked out by Kofi’s Trouble in Paradise. Kingston goes for the cover, but Cesaro lifts him up in position for the Neutralizer, and hits it with all the other men knocked out to pin Kofi and retain the United States Championship. I had very low expectations giving the match type but they pulled it together at the end for a pretty entertaining match.

The CM Punk lie detector test closes things out tonight. That means Miz TV is your main event. Fascinating. Punk comes in the ring and hassels the crowd and the Miz while he gets strapped in. Punk asks if he’s lying when he says the Miz sucks. Miz replies that he doesn’t suck but Punk’s mom does. Buuuuuuuuuuuurn!!!!!!! The crowd loves it and that is a late entry for line of the year. The graph of the test is shown on the big screen. Miz starts by asking basic questions. First his name, and the length of his title reign. Then he starts asking Punk to confirm his failures. “In 2010 at the Over the Limit PPV did Rey Mysterio shave your head bald?” “(At WrestleMania) did you lose to Randy Orton?” Miz then asks Punk if he thinks he can beat Ryback on his own. Punk says yes and the line jumps. Miz finally gets to the big question about whether or not Punk was working with Maddox and the Shield. Before he could answer Shield ambushes Miz. They power bomb him and Kane and Daniel Bryan come out. Shield wares them down but Ryback comes out to assist. Singles out Ambrose and evens the odds. The fighting heads into the stands and Punk kicks Miz out of the ring. Ryback runs back in however and hits Punk with Shell Shock. Ryback then hits Punk with a ladder, then a chair, and finally a powerbomb through a table. After weeks of Punk standing over Ryback, Ryback just took all the momentum back.

By the laws of reverse momentum in wrestling, things are right where they should be heading into Tables Ladders and Chairs.

NXT Group Called “The Shield,” TLC Matches Announced On Raw

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?

Shield?

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.

OMG! XOXOXO! LOLZ!

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.

So good

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.

You’re welcome!

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.

Cena And AJ Make Out, NXT Attacks Ryback Again On Raw

Coming off a Survivor Series (one of the four major pay per view shows) where NXT attacked Ryback so that CM Punk can continue his title reign, and with four weeks to promote Table Ladders and Chairs (definitely NOT one of the major four pay per view shows), the first Raw is the best opportunity to get people excited for a mostly meaningless $60 event. So how do they start the show? With Ryback talking! Ugh! He wants Punk and the NXT guys to come out and face him because he is still hungry after last night, and other innuendos between eating and beating people up. Until they show up, Ryback threatens to tear the building apart. The best thing about his promo was my noticing that Ryback indeed has clear braces. Looks like he fed on too much candy as a kid. Vickie Guerrero comes out instead, and tells Ryback that he is not allowed to cause havoc backstage or he will be fined or suspended. She then tries to punish Ryback by sending out Tensai. Really? Prince Albert? That Tensai? Way to teach him a lesson. Tensai does a little damage before Ryback takes over, saying “Punk” under his breath as he does it. This time he actually pulls off shell-shocked, as opposed to last time they met, and takes the match. Are they trying to add some character to Ryback? He’s talking, he’s taking a little damage, he’s listening to people. These are all things he’ll need to do if he is going to go anywhere beyond a short lived monster.

Overdue

The first match of the night has Wade Barrett (and his overcoat) taking on the Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston, who Barrett eliminated last night. Wade now thinks he should have a shot at the IC belt. These are two guys that should both be higher on the ladder than they currently are. I’m really missing JBL right now. Cole and Lawler are alone together for the first time in a couple of months and I’m not feeling it. They are spending the whole time spewing random scripted lines that could be recited in any order. Wade Barrett was only mentioned when Lawler made fun of his nose. Barrett has kept Kofi down for most of the match. Kofi starts selling an eye injury and Wade works it with thumbs and elbows and steel steps. Kingston finally lands a spinning heel kick to take the momentum. The eye creeps up again though and he walks into a tilt a whirl sidewalk slam. Kofi fights back but Barrett drags Kingston’s eye against the rope and hits the bull hammer elbow to take the match. These two will probably see each other again at TLC.

Backstage Heyman and Punk (wearing a sweet “I’m a Paul Heyman guy” t-shirt) are talking up their upcoming celebration. They then find time to berate Striker when he asks them to comment on Survivor Series. At least he had a cool mustache. Heyman ended the segment by saying everyone was invited to the celebration, including Ryback. Punk wasn’t exactly thrilled about that last part. Kaitlyn then beat Aksana for jumping her last night at Survivor Series.

R-Truth joins the broadcast table (without Lil’ Jimmy since they are fighting) to scout Antonio Cesaro against Brodus Clay. I’m not sure why. Truth lost to the United States Champion at Survivor Series. Is he going to get a rematch? He won’t learn much here. A big head butt is the only offense Clay provides as Cesaro lands a flying uppercut off the second rope, followed by a neutralizer for the win. The funkadactyls have got to go. You can’t have a big introduction and dancers following you around if you never win. Brodus desperately needs a makeover.

Vickie Guerrero is back in the ring now because they just kept help but keep this damn AJ/Cena scandal going. Now Vickie has a pair of eye witnesses, consisting of a waitress who said they were all flirty during their business dinner, and a parking attendant who said they were in a parked vehicle for about an hour (because of the sex!). AJ comes out to call them out on their lies. Vickie responds by threatening to show a photo of AJ and Cena in the car doing their business. Instead, John Cena comes out and awkwardly makes out with AJ in the middle of the ring. It kind of looks like a bear giving CPR to a mouse. Dolph Ziggler breaks the whole thing up by attacking Cena, and when Cena runs up the ramp after Dolph it definitely looks like John got a cramp in his leg or something. So I guess AJ and Cena are a thing now, Vickie is pissed, and Ziggler will face Cena at TLC as long as Cena’s leg isn’t as injured as it just looked. This damn storyline might finally be nearing an actual end.

Hope you weren’t completely sick of seeing Randy Orton fight Alberto Del Rio, because they are squaring off in a two out of three falls match. Lawler found time to use the same Jose and Jos-B line from last night, and Cole found it equally as funny. Lawler couldn’t get some new material while he was away? Del Rio attacks the left arm of Orton, driving it into the ring post until the referee disqualifies Alberto. So Randy is ahead by one fall but he now has an arm injury in return. It’s just like the Daniel Bryan/Sheamus two out of three falls match from this past Extreme Rules. After Orton no sells for a bit, Del Rio applies the arm breaker and Randy quickly taps out to even things up. Orton can now barely use his left arm and the ref keeps asking him if he wants to continue. Ricardo grabs Orton’s leg causing the ref to throw Rodriguez out from ringside (although normally that would be a DQ). Del Rio then attacks the distracted Orton, and Alberto sets up for the RKO but Randy reverses into the second rope DDT. Orton’s RKO attempt is turned into an arm breaker by Del Rio, which is only released when Randy rolls over Alberto in a pin attempt. Del Rio then misses an enziguri and Orton finally lands the RKO to win what ended up being a pretty entertaining match.

I want to be a heel so bad! WHAAAAAA!

Cole and Lawler are now talking about Cena’s left leg injury, and they cut back to the training room to show Cena getting taped up while AJ watches. Okay, so that is part of the night’s entertainment after all. There is now reason to promote a Ziggler/Cena match where Dolph has a chance (albeit imaginary) to win.

Hornswaggle is back! He’s in Khali’s corner for his match against Epico and Primo. Hornswaggle presents the flowers to Rosa, but when Rosa leans in for them water squirts out from the flowers and hits her in the face. Rosa yells, distracting Epico and Primo so that Khali can pick up the easy win.

Backstage, Heyman flipped out on a guy planning Punk’s celebration because he didn’t have balloons. BALLOONS!

Back in the ring, David Otunga jobbed out to the Miz. Lawler reused his line about Otunga’s clients as a lawyer being innocent until proven broke. It’s recycled joke night I guess. To be fair, Otunga did put together a lot of offense before Miz finally came back and won. Crowd is digging Miz as a face.

Up next is a chair wielding Sheamus against Damien Sandow.  Before Sandow even comes out, Sheamus called out Big Show for making things personal by attacking his friend William Regal and reaching a new low by pulling a referee in front of the Brogue Kick. Big Show limps out and tells Sheamus he’s too barbaric to be World Heavyweight Champion, making Sheamus furious. This is when Damien Sandow decides to comes to the ring.  Sheamus dominates the first half of the match until Sandow chokes out Sheamus a bit to slow him down and take control. When Sandow is on the attack he is really aggressive. No down time. He also yells “QUIT” at his opponents whenever he has them in a submission. Unfortunately Sheamus recovers again, hitting all of his signature moves, finishing off Sandow with a Brogue Kick for the pin.

Backstage AJ runs into the locker room to yell at Ziggler, but Dolph turns the table. He calls AJ a dime a dozen and weak and all that crap. He calls AJ trash which sets her off into attacking him. Cena then pulls her away and Dolph attacks John, driving him into a bathroom stall and further injuring his leg.

Time for some tag team action as Mysterio and Sin Cara face team Hell No while the Prime Time Players watch from the announce table. They feature another one of those spots where everyone leaps out of the ring at someone else in succession. Poor Kane isn’t a high flyer so he only takes a the bump from Mysterio and doesn’t dish anything out.  He gets his work in with Sin Cara in the ring. Bryan then ironically applies a mexican surfboard to the Mexican superhero. Somehow Bryan got a cut on his elbow in the middle of all this and Sin Cara gets the hot tag. During the entire match Titus is dogging Lawler and Cole, while Darren gets made fun of for not saying anything. It was getting pretty funny. Titus O’Neil has all of the talent in that group. Mysterio hits Kane with a 619 but Kane catches Rey off the top rope and prepares for a chokeslam when PPT jumps in to interfere. Eventually everyone teams up on PPT and they turn tail.

Deja vu anyone?

The dark main event match for the night has CM Punk defending his WWE Championship against John Cena. On TV we have the show ending with the celebration of CM Punk holding the title for 365 days. Paul Heyman hosts, and when the crowd boos him he brings up the reaction to their mocking of Jerry Lawler’s heart attack last week. He says that all of the people who complained are the same people who scream for the Attitude Era and chant ECW at him. He’s got a point and it’s part of why I had no problem with it. It goes with the territory and most importantly Lawler knows it. Anyway Punk comes out and promotes himself as Heyman wipes tears away from his face. He says he aims toward 2018 when he passes Bruno Sammartino’s 2,803 day run for the longest championship streak in WWE history. Heyman and Punk basically say Punk will beat every great wrestler from Hogan to Austin and eventually call out meeting the Rock at Royal Rumble. Ryback’s music hits in the middle of it all and as he heads toward the ring he gets jumped by the NXT crew again. Again they take Ryback down and again, they drive him through the announce table. Punk and Heyman act like they have no idea what is going on, and while the NXT crew stand in the middle of the ring, Punk puts a foot on Ryback and holds his WWE Championship over him to end the show.

A very underwhelming Raw coming off Survivor Series. Pretty much everything from the spots to the jokes were reused, and the only thing I can say for sure is that John Cena will face Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus will challenge Big Show again. There could also be a triple threat tag team match with PPT, Team Hell No and Mysterio/Sin Cara, Barrett versus Kingston, and a Divas match putting AJ against Tamina. Punk could still face Ryback again, or he could challenge Mick Foley (as rumors have suggested) while Ryback takes on all three NXT guys. Hopefully next week we’ll see which of those potential matchups actually come to fruition.