TONIGHT: It’s the final Raw of 2011, and so begins my sixth year of recaps here on the-w.com. Hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have! As for what to expect tonight: Nothing specific announced, but follow-up to Kane-John Cena is inevitable. They’re in Chicago, so should be a hot crowd. The last mystery video before next week’s appearance should shed some more light on who it may be (or not!). One man you probably won’t see: Alberto Del Rio, who is out 4-6 weeks with a groin tear suffered at the end of last week’s main event, according to WWE.com.
- WWE Open.
- They opened live in Chicago – no music or fireworks. Then “Cult of Personality” played and Johhny Ace came out in a CM Punk “Best in the World t-shirt,” then did all of Punk’s mannerisms.” Ace introduced himself and said that’s part of the unpredictability he brings to Raw. HE said he’s been told that he’s brought the Golden Era to WWE. Ace said he was honoring Chicago’s hometown champion by wearing his shirt. He said he’s a Punk believer. Than “Cult” played again and Punk walked out, title around his waist.
Punk had a grand ol’ time in the ring before getting down to business. “CM Punk” chant. Punk said if he didn’t know better, Ace is trying to antagonize him. Punk asked what exactly is stopping him from kicking Ace in the face. Ace said he is Punk’s boss and he may fire him. But he’s not here to argue; he said he’s taken several management classes and he’s learned to empower his workers. Ace gave Punk the night off. He said “gotcha! Who says I can’t be unpredictable!” Punk said even aliens watching in their spaceship don’t think Ace is unpredictable. Ace said he knows the WWE Universe wants to see Punk wrestle tonight, and he’ll do it in a gauntlet match. He’ll pick Punk’s three opponents, and if one of them beats him, they’ll get a WWE Title match next week on Raw. Punk said he’s always up for a challenge, then asked what’ll happen when he beats Ace’s three guys. Ace said he didn’t give it much thought. Punk said therein lies the problem: Ace doesn’t think. But his head is full of great ideas. Punk said when he survives the gauntlet, they should give Chicago a fourth match: Punk vs. Ace. “You don’t want any of this, okay?” Ace said. The unintentional hilarity is off the charts here. “You can’t wrestle” chant from fans.
“It looks like they’ve been watching All Japan tapes!” said Punk of the fans. Ace said it wouldn’t look good if he beats the WWE Champion. Punk polled the crowd on whether or not they want to see this match. They overwhelmingly did. Ace then said, “you’re on.” Punk’s music played and Ace smiled slightly. Punk celebrated in the ring as Ace walked to the back. As Lawler and Cole continued talking, the mystery video for this week aired. “Powers That Be will be shaken” was a quote. “The End Begins” and “Next Monday” were words on the screen.
- Booker T. and Cody Rhodes were shown walking in a split-screen. The TLC rematch between the two will take place next.
(1) Booker T. vs. Cody Rhodes They showed stills of Cody attacking Booker before their match at TLC during Booker’s entrance. During Cody’s entrance, they showed Booker’s distraction, which led to Zack Ryder pinning Cody on Friday. I do not believe the title is on the line here. Shoulder knock-down by Cody, then a hip-toss by Booker. Bodyslam and a cover for one-count. It’s strange how WWE acknowledges the mystery video in their little box that says what’s trending, but none of the announcers have discussed it. Back elbow by Booker to the jaw of Rhodes. Scissors kick missed and Rhodes connected on a neck-breaker. Booker was dumped to ringside, they then took a break at 2:52.
Back to the match at 4:55. Booker worked out of a wrist-lock and landed a chop. He walked into an elbow in the corner, however. Another rest-hold by Rhodes. Crowd got behind Booker, who was able to work out of it. Goldust-like uppercut by Cody, then a clothesline. Cover got two at 7:07. Cole mentioned that Cody’s uppercut “runs in the family.” “Boo/Yay” show-down in the middle of the ring, won by Cody with a dropkick. More work on the arm and wrist from Rhodes as the fans once again chanted for Booker. Cody ran into yet another elbow in the corner, then a kick. Running forearm by Booker, who built some momentum. Side slam for two. Roll-up by Booker for a near-fall. Beautiful Disaster kick found the mark. Cover for two. Jerry Lawler was openly rooting for Booker. Scissors kick out of nowhere for three.
Winner: Booker, at 12:01. Booker looks so awkward in the ring, more so than usual. Still, it wasn’t bad and the shine hasn’t worn off Booker’s in-ring return yet, at least as far as crowd reactions.
-Zack Ryder thanked someone off-camera, and it was John Cena. Cena said Ryder doesn’t owe him a thing, as everything positive is happening because of Ryder himself. Cena said everyone in WWE was afraid to take a chance on Ryder, but he didn’t listen. He said he admires Ryder because he earned everything he got. Ryder thanked Cena again. He changed subjects and asked what the deal was with Kane. Cena said he’s going to go to the ring and if Kane is in the building, he’s gonna make sure the last Raw goes out with a bang. The two men wished each other luck.
- Lawler and Michael Cole were at ringside. Cole was reading from a piece of paper (not Twitter? Or WWE’s social network?) the guys Punk has to face tonight. Opponent #1: Jack Swagger. Opponent #2: Dolph Ziggler. Opponent #3: Mark Henry.
- Kelly Kelly was making small talk with Big Show backstage. Scott Armstrong walked up and told Show that Ace needs to see him in his office. Show blew Armstrong off but Armstrong said it’s important. Show then headed off to see the boss.
- Downtown Chicago’s skyline was shown.
- Johnny Ace was on the phone as David Otunga stood by him. Ace was talking to Brodus Clay, saying he wanted him to debut on the first show of 2012. Ace finished and said Clay sounded irritated and that he’d hate to be his opponent. Show walked in and Ace asked him to explain the knockout punch to Otunga from Smackdown on Friday. Otunga asked what kind of a man punches another man when he’s not looking him. Show said he can beat Otunga with one arm tied behind his back. Ace said that gave him an idea, and made that match, Show vs. Otunga with one arm tied behind Show’s back. Show said a giant with one arm is still tougher than a lawyer with no testicles. He feigned a punch and Otunga hid behind Ace.
- Swagger and Ziggler were arguing over the gauntlet match tonight. Ziggler accused Swagger of no longer being relevant. Swagger said Ziggler doesn’t even weigh 200 pounds and just lost his title to Zack Ryder. Vickie Guerrero walked up and said it doesn’t matter who wins as long as one of them does. She wanted the WWE Championship in her stable. Mark Henry then gruffly walked by them. Ziggler and Swagger continued arguing.
- Eve Torres, then Zack Ryder made separate entrances for a mixed tag match. It’s next.
(2) Eve Torres & Zack Ryder vs. Natalya & Tyson Kidd I feel like the commercial breaks are shorter this week. Kidd and Ryder began the match. Middle rope dropkick by Ryder. Cole said July 23rd will be the 1,000th episode of Raw. I’ll have to calibrate my thread numbers with that one, because I think I’m off a week or two. The women came in and Eve landed her standing moonsault for two. Natalya grabbed Eve and sent her throat-first into the middle rope. Ryder made the hot tag and took the fight to Kidd, who has hair now! Kick to the gut by Kidd, but Ryder landed the Sky High for two. Natalya broke it up and Eve knocked her silly. Eve booted Nattie out of the ring while Ryder did the Broski Boot. Rough Ryder ended the match.
Winners: Ryder and Eve, at 3:01. Served its purpose, giving Ryder another win and counting as the Divas segment for the night.
The faces shared a fist pump after the match. Ryder even let Eve hold the US Title.
- John Cena calls out Kane next.
- John Cena came out. Strong reaction, lots of boos. They showed clips of Kane’s attack on Cena last week. In the ring, Cena said he can’t say he’s Chicago’s favorite son. He said he had his very first match in this arena. He said there’s magic in this building and the fans and Chicago have seen three Wrestlemanias in the city, and inducted Eddie Guerrero into the WWE Hall-of-Fame. “Eddie” chant from the fans. Cena talked about the latest chapter in the city’s storied wrestling history, that being CM Punk beating him for the WWE Title in July. He said it’s been said that New York is the home of WWE, but he made a case for Chicago. “Let the world remember Chicago,” he said. What is the point of this promo?
Cena said he’s signing his own death warrant, then summoned the devil’s favorite demon. But The Miz’s music hit in an ironic twist. Miz said he wants to see himelf vs. Cena. He said 2011 was the Year of The Miz. He reminded Cena that he beat him in the main event of Wrestlemania. He admitted the win was a little tainted, thanks to The Rock. Miz said he wanted to prove to everyone that he doesn’t need Rock to beat Cena. He said he wanted the lasting image for people to be him standing triumphantly over a beaten John Cena. Cena interrupted and told Miz to shut up and to wash his God-awful tan off his body. Cena said all they need is a ref and he’ll beat the hell out of him now. Cole said he had it on good authority that Miz spend Christmas in Hawaii and it’s a real tan.
(3) John Cena vs. The Miz “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks” within the first minute and it was thunderous. Miz worked out of a top wrist-lock, but was sent into the ropes. Miz held the ropes and pulled himself out of the ring. He grabbed the mic and said the fans were chanting the wrong Superstar’s name. He said he’s the most must-see WWE Champion of all-time. Miz said he beat Cena, and it doesn’t matter how he did it. While he was talking, referee John Cone counted him out.
Winner: Cena, via count-out, at 2:21. That was unique. Not in a good or bad way, just…unique.
Miz continued, saying like the Packers beating the Bears, he’s a winner. Major heat for that. As Miz tried to finish his spiel, R-Truth’s theme interrupted and he charged at Miz. The two men began to brawl at ringside. Ah, so they had Miz do some extra mic work for heel heat to ensure Truth got a babyface reaction. They fought around and on the announce table, then Truth sent Miz into the steel steps. He still looked crazy. Truth picked up the mic and got in Miz’s face. He told Miz he could finish him right now, but what’s the fun in that? He said the problem with Christmas is, you open presents, then it’s over. He wanted every Monday night to be like Christmas, so he’s going to take his time getting to Miz. Crowd was doing the “what” chants, but he didn’t react. He said Little Jimmy said it’s okay. Truth called Miz “Jimmy” and gave him a few more right hands for good measure. Truth took a bottle of water and decked Miz with it.
- A graphic plugged tonight’s gauntlet match.
- They replayed Truth’s attack on Miz.
- Cole announced breaking news, saying Kane is here and would address the John Cena situation later tonight.
(4) The Big Show vs. David Otunga – Show must wrestle with one arm tied behind his back Another replay, from several angles, of Show punching Otunga on Smackdown. They announced Otunga “from Harvard Law School.” Do they always do that, or did they just want to avoid saying he was from Chicago? It was Show’s right hand that was tied behind his back. Back kick by Otunga, then shoulders to the gut. Otunga kept running away from Show (his arm was actually tied to his side). With one hand, Otunga was sent over the top rope. Mark Henry’s music then played. Show’s hand was still tied to his side. The ref called for the bell as soon as Henry stepped into the ring.
Winner: No Contest, at 1:59. Even though Henry didn’t touch anyone, actually a good judgment call to throw the match out here, given Show with his arm tied at his side.
Henry got close to Show, then knocked Show off his feet. Dnaiel Bryan’s music hit and he ran down. He distracted Henry long enough for Show to get to his feet and grab Henry by the throat. Otunga attacked Show, but got a chokeslam for his trouble while Henry fled. Lot of moving parts there.
- Kane answers Cena tonight.
- Another exterior shot of Chicago.
- Alberto Del Rio’s music hit back in the arena. He was wheeled out in a wheel chair by Ricardo Rodriguez, who himself was sporting a neck-brace. Rodriguez introduced his charge, and Del Rio talked about the year he had and how he was injured last week. He said he suffered the most terrible injury any man can suffer – he tore his groin. The fans seemed to cheer and Del Rio asked what was wrong with them. The Bellas then walked out and told the fans to treat Del Rio with respect. Lots of heat for that one. Nikki offered to throw Del Rio a party when he recovered, but Brie said that was her idea. They started arguing until Del Rio told them to shut up. He told them to get out. Del Rio vowed to become champion again then directed Ricardo to wheel him back.
- Via WWE ’12, they showed Punk vs. Henry.
- CM Punk was shown walking backstage. His gauntlet challenge is next.
(5) Jack Swagger vs. CM Punk – Gauntlet Match, Leg One Test of strength, but Punk bridged up and Swagger kneed him in the gut. Punk with some kicks, but Swagger hit Punk with a gut-buster. Elbowdrops and leg-drops followed that for a one-count at 1:53. Swagger picked Punk out of the air and caught the champ with another gut-buster. Swagger avoided a GTS, but Punk kicked him in the head for the win.
Winner: Punk, at 3:25. Swagger got a lot of offense, but then again, Punk won relatively quickly.
Ziggler came out for the next leg of the gauntlet match, but Swagger took out Punk’s leg from behind. Referee Armstrong checked with Punk to make sure he could continue. How come this wasn’t done when Daniel Bryan won the title? Anyway, match will happen on the other side of the break.
(6) CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler – Gauntlet Match, Leg Two This match was joined in progress. Ziggler was working on the leg out of break. Punk picked Ziggler up for a slam but his leg gave out. Crowd chanted for Punk. Inside cradle for two. Swagger was still at ringside. Lots of near-falls and pin attempts form Ziggler. Punk tried a neck-breaker, but Ziggler shoved him off and kicked at the bad leg again. Half-crab locked in. Ziggler held onto the move to the four-count after Punk grabbed the ropes. Punk fought back with right hands and chops. Bodyslam by Punk as he used the good leg to kick Ziggler’s back. Running knee in the corner by Punk, then he put Ziggler up for the GTS. Swagger distracted the ref while Vickie grabbed Punk’s leg. Fameasser (and an ugly one) by Ziggler for a very near-fall. Johnny Ace walked out to some nice heel heat. He got a mic and said there’s been an injustice. He yelled to the ref after Punk gave Ziggler the GTS and tried to pin him. Ace said the ref can’t see everything that goes on, but Vickie interfered. He kicked them out. Ace got onto the apron and carried on a conversation with Punk. This allowed Ziggler to hit the Zig Zag for the win. Ace left the apron and headed to the back.
Winner: Ziggler, 7:31 shown.
Ziggler now has a title opportunity against Punk next week. He took a victory lap with the WWE Title after the match.
- Kane is up next.
- Back from break, fireworks went off, then there was a long pause before Kane’s music hit. He walked to the ring, still with the welder-type mask. He took it off, revealing the other mask. He said what we see is his true self, his essence. He said he wears a mask but it’s the fans who spend every waking second living a lie. Before he could finish (or even really got started), Cena’s music hit. He stood on the stage and looked at Kane. Then the fireworks went off. It didn’t burn Cena, but he was shocked. Kane told him to stop and said he wasn’t looking for a fight. He explained that he made Cena his victim because Cena has led the people astray, asking them to “rise above hate,” but that’s a fallacy. He said the world is a dark, dark place. Kane said it’s okay to hate, that humans are hateful by nature. He said the natural impulse is to embrace the hate. He said people hate their bosses, their neighbors, their miserable existence. Kane said “rise above hate” is a fraudulent myth perpetuated by Cena. He said hate is the seed from which we are all born. He’s getting a little philosophical here.
Kane said the hate is getting under Cena’s skin, eating away at him like a thousand insects. He said if Cena embraces the hate, he’ll become honest with himself. “Cena” chant started up. Kane said with Cena’s denial, he grows weaker by the moment, and until he embraces that which he denies, he can never truly be free. “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks.” Kane said he’d help Cena, and so will the people. He said the last image Cena will hear is each and every person chanting the words which tear Cena’s soul apart: “Cena sucks.” Crowd didn’t really take Kane’s cue…ah there it is, but it’s the dueling chants again. The camera panned the crowd – they were hot for one side or another. The show went off the air with the fans chanting and Cena looking conflicted.
(edited by geemoney on 26.12.11 2306) @gregmparks - live Tweeting of Raw and Impact, wrestling thoughts and other slices of life.
I like how they mentioned John Cena and Kane were trending, but chose not to mention that Tyson Kidd was trending at the same time.
doubt it helped toughen up the Miz's image to take that beating from Truth.
I welcome Kane trying to turn Cena to the dark side.
In an all-time nerd fanboy fantasy booking idea, if Punk is going to work Johnny Ace, he needs to bring in one of his former tag team partner as a foil. I mean, how insane would it be to see Kobashi on WWE TV? And if All Japan could use the money, Vince should buy the rights to some Johnny Ace in Japan matches for the build up.
Did they break up the Divas of Doom off screen? I don't think Beth and Natalya have been on TV together since Kelly slapped Beth for taking her Slammy. Now, the 2/3rds of The Hart Dynasty are reunited, and back to their losing ways. Natalya can't catch a break.
Alberto Del Rio dismissed the Bellas not because they were arguing but because they made his injured groin hurt even more.
All that was missing from Kane's pro-hate speech to John Cena was for him to tell the tale of Darth Plagueis conquering death.
(edited by John Orquiola on 26.12.11 2217) @BackoftheHead
I mean, how insane would it be to see Kobashi on WWE TV?
Pretty crazy but it would be pretty sad too when he gets absolutely no reaction from not one person in the crowd. I'm of the opinion that Johnny Ace's boring ass is one of the reasons the ratings are down. as he drew a 2.9 and a 2.7 in the two segments he was in last week. Pretty sure a Punk-Ace feud won't set the business on fire. I also agree with Lance Storm in his opinion that the wrestlers need to stop tearing each other down and point out their flaws especially when they are legit ones.
I thought Kane picking up the thematic ball from Roddy Piper worked very well and fits his character... Cena never gets bogged down in those Monologues About The Nature Of Evil Storylines that Kane and Taker bring with them, but this might actually work.
If Miz is wrapped up with Face-but-still-Crazy R-Truth, maybe Punk mini-feuds with Ziggler to give him a shot in the Main Event at the Rumble, which often gives a tryout title match to someone since the Rumble itself is the headliner. I'm fine with that. Ziggles' over-the-top victory lap celebration was awesome too.
(Maybe someone mentioned it earlier, but I've just noticed that Punk is now in "the signature at the start of the show".)
Originally posted by geemoneyLot of moving parts there.
I really liked the 'Crash TV' feel to the show they put together tonight, lots of twists and turns, lots of people getting into the mix, and pretty much every character was put in spots that fit their character. It felt like they were at least trying to break some of the tendencies.
Take the gauntlet match. Punk makes a big deal out of wangling a chance to get his hands on Ace, which in retrospect plants a seed for that down the line, while the payoff is a most unexpected result of Punk not even getting to the third match in the gauntlet.
(Which makes sense in that Henry as a SmackDown guy wouldn't be a logical contender for the WWE title anyway - even if he was healthy. Suddenly we get heat on Ace for costing Punk the match, *and Ziggler gets a Raw main event as he moves up the ladder. I certainly won't complain about the end result. But the misdirection of the 'fourth match' was a neat way to pull an upset no one was expecting.)
Even Kelly Kelly showed some actual personality in her 30 seconds tonight. The Bellas, Daniel Bryan and Ricardo Rodriguez's bow tie all made the most of cameos as well, as the show went on I really admired the booking.
For the closing angle, I think it points to trouble if the idea is to have Cena get heel reactions without him actually turning. Because if you can't get Chicago to chant "Cena sucks", it's not happening elsewhere. At least not when they try and co-opt the organic reaction.
(And thanks to geemoney for the continuing effort - happy anniversary!)
The Punk/Ace thing doesn't work for me in the slightest. Ace really hasn't done anything to justify Punk's constant attention, so I really don't get the point to any of it. Shouldn't the best in the world have better things to do, at least in theory? The first 2/3 of Punk's foes were far too obvious.
Booker T was never a great worker even at his peak and his match last night was brutal. He's not at Nash-like levels of slow motion, but he's not far off. No way should Cody Rhodes be laying down for him.
I don't think there's any chance of Brodus seeing action next week. With one big, secret return already happening, I can't see them re-debuting him as well. I'd assume he's there before the Rumble, though so they can put him in it.
I guess it's better for Ryder to now tread water with a title than without it, but what is there for him to do now? They need to create some strong midcard heels with Ziggler moving up to Miz/Del Rio level now.
I cannot understand why they'd have Cena come out and brown nose the crowd like that if they were later counting on that same crowd to be totally against him. They really dicked that crowd around last night between that and Punk's segments.
Chicago was really not ready to accept Truth as a face, but my god is the "what?" routine beyond old. I wish he'd keep the "You Suck" rap and not go full-on face. At least it looks like they're keeping him crazy, which is a plus.
Swagger and Punk had a pretty rubbish match. I can't be too hard on Swagger now, though, since it must be difficult to perform when he is constantly trying to get the image of his wife asking another man for a cream pie of out his head. Meanwhile, the crowd knew this was a forgone conclusion and reacted as such. The same could be said for the Ziggler match, but for different reasons. Announcing the Kane segment for later in the night mean there'd be no time for Punk/Henry (not that Mizark could wrestle anyway) let alone Ace. Besides, Punk already got the kind of hometown triumph that happens only once in a WWE career, if at all.
I liked Kane's explanation, but the writers made some big mistakes that hurt the impact of the segment. They had Cena kissing ass earlier and then Kane went on to call everyone's lives miserable, yet they still expected Cena to get jeered when Kane more or less tells them too. The anti-Cena chants only kick in after the pro-Cena chants, so much so that it almost seems aimed at Cena's supporters than Cena himself. The WWE is so desperate to capitalise on and control the Cena backlash, but they have no idea how to, as was previously displayed in the Piper's Pit segment. I think they need someone on the writing team who understands basic psychology.
Either fans have to get over Eddie which I hope they won't or they have to start booing when someone uses him to get sympathy which also terrible. I am just sick of Cena using the sympathy card along with the terrorist card and the God card to get the fans on his side. It just speaks to the volume of desperation they are willing to go to keep Cena face even though they are stupidly trying to run a storyline where they are hinting he will go heel.
While I like the Crash TV vibe, you also saw the problems with crash TV where one minute something makes sense and the next it doesn't. I really wish Punk would have at least put his hands on Johnny Ace to give the Chicago fans something other than to see Punk lose to a mid carder while having to fight back against another mid carder. At least JL didn't get a win over Punk.
R-Truth and Miz was intense and made for some good TV, but a chair shot not a water bottle was the way to end that. The rest of the show seemed to be one moving part with another. I also wish they would explain why Ryder and Eve was important other than watch youtube. Also if you want to turn Cena heel destroying Ryder has to be into the equation if not the starting point.
The Wee Baby Sheamus.
Twitter: @realjoecarfley its a bit more toned down there. A bit.
I really liked this show. I'm a big sucker for the mysterious, supernatural Kane (and Undertaker) so the promo at the end really has me interested (man, I could really dig a Kane, Abyss, James Mitchell group) and I *really* have no problems with a Punk/Ziggler feud.
At this point, if the "It Begins" stuff is anything other than Jericho, I'll be sad.
I really wish all this shake up with moving to a focus on the Punks and the Zigglers would carry over to the Divas. Get some working relationships with Shimmer or something.
Keep Truth insane - he is far more interesting now then when he's doing the goofy kid friendly rap with Eve. Loved the stuff with him and Miz - agree that it should have ended with a chair shot or something.
I'd love for them to build up more midcard talents for Ryder. They desperately need something with all their current crop being promoted to the main event.
No complaints on this Raw - I was entertained the whole evening.
As a side note, I've found that the level of enjoyment towards a show greatly increases when the amount of time spent watching the analysis and news sites decreases.
This show mirrored April 13, 1998 (slashwrestling.com) in a few key ways, what with the teasing of Punk (Austin) vs. Ace (Vince) and Big Show wrestling with one arm tied behind his back (the PUNCHING arm!). The show from '98 was the beginning of the last Golden Era (to use Ace's term) for WWE. And this one...?
Despite it not working completely (Lord of the Manor explained it well), I dug the Kane/Cena stuff. Last week, we got the standard and boring beatdown, but this week they changed it up and gave us context. The rest of the show was pretty standard fare, other than the perplexing result of Booker T beating Cody. I can only assume they knew that they needed some babyface winners early as the show, before it turned into Punk being beaten in the main event match and Kane talking.
"Put on your helmets, we'll be reaching speeds of 3!" "It was nice of you to give that dead woman another chance." "All right, look alive everybody...oh sorry Susan."- MST3K: Space Mutiny Click Here (myspace.com)
Unusual to see a three-man gauntlet match in which the second man in the gauntlet gets the win. At least, I think it is. That's always what happens to me whenever I try to play a gauntlet match in a video game, though.
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