WWE Raw Report
The Big News: The shroud of the WWE Universe’s dark side has fallen. Begun, the merchandise slogan war has.
Cult of Personality hit to start the show and John Laurinaitis came out in a CM Punk t-shirt. Laurinaitis said his entrance was exciting and unpredictable. Laurinaitis claimed to be a believer in Punk. Punk then came out and suggested Laurinaitis was trying to antagonize him. Laurinaitis said he has been taking management classes and wants to empower the talent. He said he had a holiday gift for Punk and that Punk would be off Raw. Punk didn’t like this and so Laurinaitis just said he would listen to the fans and let Punk wrestle.
Laurinaitis announced Punk in a gauntlet match against three opponents of Laurinaitis’ choosing. If one of the opponents won, they would receive a title shot against Punk next week. Punk asked what would happen if he won all three matches. Laurinaitis wasn’t sure so Punk suggested a fourth match: Punk v. Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis said this would be unfair to Punk and it wouldn’t be good if he beat Punk. Punk antagonized Laurinaitis until Laurinaitis agreed.
They aired a final mysterious Raw vignette. This one said that a force will arrive to reclaim what is his. It added that the powers that be will shaken. It concluded that “the end begins” next Monday. I’ve liked these vignettes. They’re ambiguous and allow the audience to speculate and think for itself.
Booker T beat Cody Rhodes. Booker had the advantage for a little while. Then Rhodes took over for a bit. They exchanged rollups. Booker hit some knees but missed an ax kick and Rhodes rolled him up with the tights for two. Rhodes hit a springboard kick for two but Booker then nailed the ax kick for the pin. This program should be about getting over Rhodes, but it is fine if Booker has his successes before the end. The match itself was given time but was rather dull.
Zack Ryder thanked John Cena backstage. Cena said that Ryder doesn’t owe him anything. Cena said Ryder wasn’t given anything but instead earned the US title. Ryder said he had a chance to make another Christmas dream happen on Raw. Apparently that’s a reference to some internet angle. Ryder then asked what the deal is with Kane. Cena said that if he ran into Kane, the last Raw of the year would go out with a bang. I find Cena much more likeable when he’s interacting with Ryder. They announced Punk’s gauntlet opponents would be Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler and Mark Henry.
Big Show was hanging out with Kelly Kelly backstage when he was told to see John Laurinaitis. Before he arrived, Laurinaitis told Brodus Clay that he will debut on the first live Raw of 2012. I’ve got the odds on that happening at 7.5:1. Show came in. Laurinaitis and David Otunga were angry that he attacked Otunga. Otunga claimed it was a sneak attack and Otunga would have got the best of it otherwise. Show responded he could beat Otunga with one arm tied behind his back. So, Laurinaitis made that match with Show’s hand tied behind his back.
Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger bickered backstage. Ziggler mocked Swagger’s title reign while Swagger made fun of Ziggler’s weight and his loss to Zack Ryder. Vickie Guerrero tried to play peacemaker, saying it doesn’t matter who wins because she’ll end up with the champion either way. Mark Henry popped in to say “excuse me” and left.
Zack Ryder and Eve Torres beat Tyson Kidd and Natalya. It was interesting to see Kidd and Natalya paired up together for the first time in a while. Ryder and Torres hit dueling kicks to the head and Ryder followed with the Rough Ryder on Kidd for the pin. After the match, Ryder acted awkward and geeky around Torres.
John Cena came out and noted that he isn’t Chicago’s favorite son. He said that there is magic in Chicago, which has hosted three WrestleManias and inducted Eddie Guerrero into the Hall of Fame. He added that he likes the people saying how they feel. This was a really annoying, pandering promo. Cena called out Kane but Miz came out instead.
Miz said that 2011 was his year as he beat John Cena at WrestleMania. Miz noted Rock was involved and said he wanted to prove he can beat Cena on his own. Cena told him to shut up and agreed. As the match was about to start, Miz left the ring and got counted out. Miz changed his tune and said he already beat Cena at Mania.
Miz was doing his catchphrase when Truth came out, attacked him, and laid him out. Truth said he could finish it right then but that wouldn’t be fun. Truth said the problem with Christmas is you open your presents and then it is over. He wants every Monday to be Christmas so he will take his time with Miz. Truth hit Miz with a bottle of water and left. This is like a redo of that highly effective Survivor Series build. The heel has absolutely no heat but you have to tune in next week to see him get beat up again.
Big Show beat David Otunga via DQ with one hand tied behind his back. Show beat up Otunga with one hand and Otunga basically just ran away. Show threw Otunga out of the ring, at which point Mark Henry came out for the DQ. Henry is still noticeably having trouble getting around. Henry attacked Show but Daniel Bryan came out for the save. He didn’t actually try to fight Henry but instead just distracted him until Show could get up. That made Bryan look so bad as a babyface champion. Show grabbed Henry by the neck, at which point Otunga attacked Show. Henry escaped and Show choke slammed Otunga instead.
Ricardo Rodriguez in a neck brace wheeled out Alberto Del Rio in a wheelchair. Del Rio said he tore his groin at TLC but that he will be back. The Bellas came out to tell the people to treat Del Rio with more respect but got into an argument about who would throw a party for Del Rio when he is healthy. Del Rio told them to shut up and leave. Del Rio then said he will be more aggressive than ever before when he returns and will be champion again. This segment did Del Rio no favors.
CM Punk beat Jack Swagger. Swagger was in control for most of the match. Punk went for GTS but Swagger escaped. Punk then hit a kick to the head for the win. Swagger attacked Punk’s knee from behind after the match.
Dolph Ziggler beat CM Punk. Ziggler worked over the knee. Punk came back with a body slam and kicks with his good leg. He hit a high knee and set up for GTS but Swagger distracted the referee and Vickie grabbed Punk’s leg. Ziggler hit a famouser for two.
At that point, Laurinaitis came out and ejected Swagger and Vickie from ringside. Punk had Ziggler pinned while Laurinaitis was doing this. Laurinaitis got on the apron and continued talking to distract Punk. That allowed Ziggler to hit the zig zag from behind for the pin. Ziggler paraded around with the title after the match. Ziggler winning here was the right finish but the way it was done won’t do a heck of a lot for the guy.
Kane came out for the final segment of the show. Kane said what you see now is his true self and essence. Kane accused the people of living a lie, at which point Cena came out. He was cut off by fire going off on the stage. Kane told Cena he wasn’t there to pick a fight. Kane said he doesn’t want people to rise above hate. He said that the world is a dark place and it is okay to hate. Humans are hateful by nature. Kane said that you shouldn’t rise above it but instead let it consume you.
Kane said that until Cena embraces hate, he can never be free. Kane said that people chanting Cena sucks tears Cena’s heart apart. He encouraged people to chant Cena sucks. It didn’t really take as the crowd seemed confused. Eventually dueling chants popped up and the show closed.
This was a mediocre show. There wasn’t a lot wrong with it but there wasn’t much of interest either. Turning the rejection of an insufferable character that has been shoved down our throats year after year into a melodramatic referendum on human nature is really goofy.
With the big Alistair Overeem/Brock Lesnar fight Friday night as well as the Dream New Year’s Eve show, I wanted to make mention of a few things coming up this week. Wednesday I’ll be on Press Row with Jordan Breen at Sherdog.com discussing everything going on. Thursday I’ll be on Bloody Elbow Radio with Matt Bishop, Forrest Lynn, Brian Hemminger and Bellator bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky at Bloodyelbow.com previewing all the weekend’s action. And Friday I’ll be live blogging UFC 141 at LATimes.com. It should be a fun week so check it out!
Hope everyone is having a great holiday season.