What up wrestling fans, I'm the WrestlingNerd bringing you another written review. Today, we take a look at WWE Raw on 12/26/11. With this being the last Raw of 2011, how will the WWE close out the year? Well, let's find out and start the review
We open up the show with CM Punk's entrance music, so it has to be the Cult of Personality, right? Well, it turns out to be Robot of Personality himself, John Laurianitis. I have to admit that I was laughing when I saw Laurinaitis mock Punk's entrance. Slow down there Laurinaitis. I think you just used up all your charisma for the next two years. Anyway, Laurinaitis makes his way to the ring and Mr. Excitement says he's a Punk believer. The fans of Chicago are giving Roboinaitis a ton of heat. Punk interrupts and the fans go nuts. Punk says Laurinaitis is trying to get him angry by provoking him. Laurinaitis says he wants to give the fans what they want, so Punk will have the night off……..just kidding. Well, there goes all of Laurinaitis' charisma for the next three years. Laurinaitis says Punk will run the gauntlet tonight and he will have to go up against three opponents. If either of those guys beat Punk, they will get a WWE title match on next week's show. Punk says great, but what if he wins. Laurinaitis admits his logic circuits haven't thought that far ahead. Punk says that's why Laurinaitis is boring and wants to make it Punk vs Laurinaitis if Punk wins the gauntlet. Laurinaitis says Punk doesn't want any of this…
Laurinaitis is making me laugh tonight. Well, that should add up to about 5 years of Laurianitis' charisma used up in five minutes. Well, he does have "The Touch"? Laurinaitis doesn't want to compete tonight, but Punk plays to the crowd and Laurinaits decides to go with it. Well, that was a series of interesting events. There was more build up between Punk and Laurinaitis. Somebody asked me last week if it will lead to a Punk/Laurinaitis match. Part of me was saying no since Laurinaitis is more of an authority figure, but when you look back on Michael Cole's matches, it's actually possible for Laurinaitis to get involved in a match. We also get one more cryptic video. I will talk more about this later in the week.
Match #1: Booker T vs Cody Rhodes
This was a more complete match than the one that happened at TLC. Cody was in control most of the match while Booker was just trying to survive. For most of the match, the commentators were playing the concept that Booker might be a shell of his former self and maybe isn't as great as he used to be, which is why Cody has dominated most of the match. This was not a bad match to watch. Even though Cody was in control of the match, Booker would fight back. The finish comes when Booker is able to dig down deep and hit the Scissors Kick for the clean victory. I'm a little split with this decision making. While I have always been a Booker fan and wanted to see him win, Cody losing cleaning hurts his stock. I think this was the WWE giving the fans what they wanted. And when I mean the fans, I'm referring to the casual fans. Cody's stock is hurt by this, but it isn't the killing blow. WWE seems like they want to have Cody go far, so maybe they wanted to wrap up this rivalry so Cody gets back to a true rival? In fact, that might have been the biggest flaw in this storyline since they didn't want to make Booker look weak. Being a face really has his advantages in pro wrestling.
Winner via pinfall: Booker T
Backstage where Zack Ryder thanks John Cena for giving him a chance. Cena says he doesn't have to thank him since Ryder was the one who put himself out there and made this happen. They also talk about Kane. Cena says he will call out Kane later tonight. The King made an announcement to reveal Punk's gauntlet match opponents. He will have to go up against Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, and Mark Henry (in that order). WWE really keeps flip flopping between Henry being "active" and "injured". Yeah, it can be a little frustrating. I kinda feel bad for Henry since I don't think it was planned for Henry to lose his championship like this. There was a scene in which Laurinaitis was on the phone with Brodus Clay. Brodus has made more appearance via phone than in the ring. Laurinaitis says Brodus will debut on next week's show. Is anyone really buying this? Big Show arrives in Laurinaitis' office to talk about his actions on last week's SD. David Otunga threatens to file a lawsuit while Show talks about how he can beat Otunga with one arm tied behind his back. Well, Roboinaitis gets the idea to make this match. You can give Otunga five extra arms and a sword, and he would still be screwed.
Match #2: Zack Ryder and Eve vs Tyson Kidd and Natalya; Mixed Tag match
This was a short match. There isn't much to say about this one. I wouldn't be surprised if Tyson Kidd had to buy a ticket in order to compete tonight. The finish comes when Zack hits the Rough Ryder for the clean victory. This was just a match put together to get Ryder out there. At some point, WWE needs to set up some rivalries for Ryder, or else his US title run can get old very fast.
Winner via pinfall
Back in the ring where Cena talks about the city of Chicago. The crowd doesn't really seem interested in Cena, but what else is new? He calls out Kane, but Miz shows up instead. Miz talks about how he wants to prove to Cena that his victory over him at WM wasn't a fluke. So, we have a match between Cena and Miz. Kane in the meantime is at a meeting with the devil.
Match #3: John Cena vs Miz
Saying this was a match is almost a joke. They grapple for a while. The crowd didn't seem to care about either person. After a few minutes of grapple fest, Miz gets on the mic and says he has nothing to prove and gloats about his WM victory over Cena. So, Miz wants to prove himself, but now changes his mind? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I understand he's the heel, but that was some silly writing. You almost wonder why did they write this into the show? Well, there was actually an explanation for this. R-Truth would arrive and attack Miz. Truth is still talking to himself and is still acting crazy, so they will at least keep that part of his character in tact. Thank God, since that was one of the highlights of Truth in 2011. Truth gets on the mic and says he can end this now, but what would be the fun in that? He says more crazy stuff like opening up Christmas presents and such. What it all boiled down to is Truth will be doing this to Miz for weeks so he can have revenge. I've been denied everything, even my revenge!!! If you get that reference, you're awesome. Truth ends this segment by…..oh no. Oh please, God no!!! Use a chair, a knife. Hell, I even let you grab the Master Sword. Anything but that? NOOOO!!! NOT THE WATER BOTTLE *smash*!!! There should be a ban on those water bottles. Remember, they are the ultimate weapon in pro wrestling. Okay, time to get back to reality. They are definitely setting up a rivalry between Miz and Truth, but it's kinda weird. Truth still comes off as a bad guy while Miz has always been a jerk. At the moment, it seems like it's heel vs heel. It's possible Truth will still play his crazy character, but make a face turn. That could work, but I think it would work better if Truth remained a heel. At the same time, would Miz even work as a face? Yeah, that will be an interesting couple of weeks as we see more progress with this storyline.
Winner via countout: John Cena
Match #4: Big Show vs David Otunga
Not a whole lot to say about this match. Show has one arm tied behind his back, but Otunga still can't do anything to take down the giant. Just as it seems Show has everything under control, Mark Henry arrives to disrupt the match. Show is trying to get his other hand loose, but crappy tied up knots are his weakness. Seriously, it looked like a kindergarten tying up his shoes. Just as Henry is about to attack, Daniel Bryan arrives from behind. Seemed like a random appearance by Bryan, but I understand what they were trying to go for here. As Henry change his focus on Bryan (Who's so intimidating….), Show is able to get loose and is about to attack Henry. Otunga would get back in the ring to attack Show, thus leading to a Choke slam by Show to Otunga. You figure that being a lawyer would make him smarter, right? What kind of person gets in the middle of two giants? Anyway, they seem to be keeping this deal where Henry and Show are making claims in being the guy who takes the title off of Bryan. I wasn't a really big fan of Bryan's appearances. Mainly because Bryan is supposed to be that guy who doesn't back down from a fight and loves a challenge. Well, how does that type of person show up, only to run away? This is just a minor nit pick since Bryan's appearance felt so random. It's almost like Bryan went out there and said "Look at me!!! I'm the champ".
Winner via DQ: Big Show
Alberto Del Rio is in a wheelchair. He talks about having a torn groin and he will be out of action for a while. The Bellas arrive and tell the audience they need to respect Del Rio. They also complain about throwing him a party for when he gets better. Del Rio tells them to leave and vows he will come back better than ever. I'm not sure about this Del Rio injury. Meaning I'm not sure if it's real or just kayfabe. I have heard reports that Del Rio did get injured in his groin in last week's main event, but it was supposed to be one of those day to day injuries. So, not sure if the injury got worse or if WWE wrote this into the show to maybe give a re-amp of Del Rio's character. Neither scenario wouldn't surprise me. I'm kinda pulling for the second possibility since Del Rio needs a character change or something different, but you already knew that.
Match #5: CM Punk Gauntlet Match
CM Punk vs Jack Swagger
The first match was Punk and Swagger. The match didn't last long, but that's the type of booking Swagger has been given lately. I think Swagger should be beneficial that he gets to appear on Raw every week. After a roundhouse kick by Punk, he pins Swagger and moves on to Dolph.
CM Punk vs Dolph Ziggler
Before this match started, Swagger would attack Punk's leg from behind. Punk would sell a leg injury for the rest of this match. This matchup wasn't too bad. Both Punk and Dolph had a chance to show what they can do in the ring. The finish comes when Swagger and Vickie Guerrero would play shenanigans on the outside of the ring. Laurinaitis would arrive at ringside and grab a mic. He informs the referee (just as Punk has put away Dolph, thus interrupting the pinfall attempt) that Vickie and Swagger got involved in the match, so he has banned them from the rest of this match. Punk gets in Laurinaitis' face as the man is explaining to Punk he's only doing the right thing. He also explains to Punk that he won't be getting involved in a wrestling match tonight, so the earlier idea by Punk has been shot down. With Punk distracted, this allows Dolph to hit the Zig Zag and he wins this match. This means Dolph will get a title match on next week's Raw. That was an interesting series of events. It adds more heat towards Laurinaitis while giving Dolph a title match. At the same time, I think Dolph is just in a filler role as he goes into a world title match as opposed to a match he can actually win. I think the WWE is setting Dolph for something big, but I don't think this is it. Mainly because the main rivalry is Punk/Laurinaitis, while Dolph is just the third guy. It's possible Dolph can take the title, but I think they want to roll with Punk for the time being. Then again, Punk and Dolph put on some of the best matches, so I think it's a win. It should be fun to watch, but this match might have a dramatic effect involving the "It beings" promos. By the way, all of Laurinaitis' charisma has been used up. Maybe Laurinaitis can steal some from his future endeavors?
Winner via pinfall: Dolph Ziggler
Time for the final segment of the night. Kane comes out and is once again wearing the double mask. Why? Seems kinda silly to wear two mask to the ring every week. Imagine if a baseball wore two gloves on the field, but is only allowed to use one of them. Yeah, seems kinda stupid. Kane talks about how he's the REAL Kane now that he's wearing the mask yet again. Cena arrives on the entrance ramp to address Kane, but Kane ignites the pyro flames, thus keeping Cena on the entrance ramp for the rest of the segment. Getting off topic for a minutes, but imagine if Cena was in the wrong place? We would've had Kentucky Fried Cena tonight. Anyway, Kane says he attacked Cena because his concept of "rise above hate" is ridiculous. Kane says this world is naturally a dark place and that Cena should learn to embrace his hate/anger. I would play a Star Wars clip, but I've been doing that a lot lately. Kane says it's natural for humans to hate and it's better to embrace the hate as opposed to suppressing it. Kane says Cena needs to embrace the hate or else it will make him weaker, thus he'll lose to the Rock. Kane says he wants to help Cena. Kane leads the crowd into a "Cena sucks" chant (the crowd didn't warm up to this as well as they would've liked. Maybe they were tired?). The show ends with the fans continuing the Cena sucks chant while Cena just looks down and thinks to himself.
I have heard a lot of complaints about this segment. Mainly from the IWC, but I actually enjoyed this segment. I kinda thought this whole deal between Cena/Kane would have some sort of connection of the Cena/Piper's Pit segment from a few weeks back. I know people are bitching that they need to just follow through with it/make the heel turn, but it would be kinda idiotic to do it now. I feel pro wrestling is better when you slowly build up these things up as opposed to rushing through these things. It just makes things easier to follow when you take your time with the build up of a storyline. They are going to take their time with this Cena psychology since this all should add up to Cena and his match with the Rock at WM. The other complaint I heard was this segment completely ruined Kane's revival. I don't really see it like that. I think Kane cut a decent promo. Not his best, but it wasn't bad either. Kane is pretty underrated when it comes to the mic. Anyway, I don't think this hurts Kane's character since I see him as a cross between his old school form and his current form. I know people wanted to see the old monster Kane and nothing more. You know? The old Kane that goes around, beats people up and says nothing. The deal is Kane as a person has risen above that for years now. Him going completely back to normal would be a downgrade. Not to mention it would look kinda silly to see Kane go completely mute when we know he can talk. I wanted to see Kane return with his mask, but that doesn't mean you make him completely mute. Having Kane be completely silent and take people out would get old very fast. Look at Sin Cara? He barely talks and we don't know anything about him, but we know a lot about Kane. Mainly due to the fact Kane can actually talk, while Sin Cara is still trying to learn the English language. Then again, that was probably a bad example since Kane has been well know in WWE for years while Sin Cara is still new to the company, but I think you get the basic idea on what I'm trying to say. Besides, who says that monsters can't have brains or think intellectually? I think Dr. Frankenstein would say otherwise. Kane can still be that destructive force from back in the day, but he can also go out there and add something with his words. Think of it like this? Kane has referred to himself as the Devil's favorite demon (Undertaker does it as well). Well, with Kane talking like this, it's like he's the devil's advocate? I know people want to see the old school Kane and nothing more, but things have changed/evolved from that point in time and Kane adds more to the table. Either way, we get more hints that Cena could be on his way to a heel turn. I still don't think it will happen, but it's very interesting storytelling. This was a great ending to Raw. It leaves you with more questions than answers and this is the most interested I have been in the Cena character for a really long time. IWC complains that Cena always does the same thing and nothing changes. Well, they are trying something different and they're still complaining about it? Yeah…..think about it?
I was actually surprised by what I saw tonight. I expected this to be an episode that would cater more to comedy and reserve a lot of the major stuff for next week's show. We are still on a holiday week, so I figured we would get filler as well. Well, that was far from what we got. There was a lot of interesting stuff that happened tonight. There was more build up with Punk and Laurinaitis. If a Punk/Laurinaitis happens, I probably won't be too excited about it, but it will probably go by really quickly that you barely remember it. We saw the return of R-Truth, which cancels out the possibility that the cryptic videos are related to Truth. Then again, that was a very low possibility to being with. We also saw the development of Cena's character. A Cena heel turn is possible, but I still don't think it will happen. Then again, if that's the case, they are definitely planting the seeds. Some of the matches tonight were okay, but nothing overly amazing outside of the Punk/Dolph match. Still, I think the emphasis tonight was the development of storylines. They definitely made things interesting for the next couple of weeks. How will Cena continue his development? Will Kane help Cena embrace the hate, or will Cena try to wave it off? We also have the reveal of the "It beings" promos set for next week. I think next week's show was set up well enough with these videos, but they added something more tonight to make you come back for more. Like I mentioned in the beginning of the review, I will talk more about the "It begins" videos later in the week. I will have more on this when the time comes. That's going to do it for the review and I hope you enjoyed it. Tell me what you thought of my review or tonight's show. I have made a slight change in the 2nd Annual WrestlingNerd awards. I have created an online survey, which makes it easier to cast your votes and record statistics. I think this change makes it easier for everyone. For the people who already voted, I have already recorded you votes in the polls, so no need to re-vote. Be sure to vote as you have one more week to take part in the 2nd Annual WrestlingNerd awards. I will see you guys and girls on the next WrestlingNerd show, see you next time.
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