By Mike Aires
Are we all dead yet? No? Ok. Let’s get on with the show…
Just to give you some insight on my writing process (if you want to call it that), I usually get an idea of what to write about after watching Raw and the Sunday PPV (if there was one). I usually try and narrow things down to a single topic. This week, after watching the TLC pay-per-view, I already had an idea that a) I would write about the fact that Dolph Ziggler and The Shield were used correctly, and b) nothing significant would happen on the Slammy Awards episode of Monday Night Raw.
Then Raw happened, and besides it being a lackluster show, it had a TON of developments. That carried over a bit to Super Smackdown Live on Tuesday. So here I am, with a ton of stuff to discuss. So why narrow it down when I can hit on all of them?
This is my Hit List.
1. Ric Flair returned to Monday Night Raw for the first time since June 1st 2009. For the past couple years, he was meddling around in TNA’s dumpster, but that contract ended a few months ago, so it was just a matter of time before he returned. However, due to a current situation between the lawyers of TNA and WWE, we might not see Flair on TV in a regular capacity until that is solved. When it is, what can Flair do? Obviously, based on his interaction with Punk, he is still EXTREMELY useful. While I’m ok with using him in just about any capacity…the easiest role would be similar to Mick Foley’s, in that he just makes appearances to push a feud further into the forefront and hammer it home. Either way, it was good to see the old goofball back.
2. At TLC, we finally saw the debuts of Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins. I’ve written things about these three on more than one occasion. But not only did they deliver in their first match, but they helped deliver the match of the night. Seth Rollins was destroyed when he was thrown from a ladder through stacked tables. Roman Reigns continued being the enforcer and being the strong man of the group, and Dean Ambrose might already be pulling up neck and neck with CM Punk with the way he emotes with his mouth and eyes. Ambrose and Rollins came off looking like huge stars, and got the much needed win without making the other team look weak. Ryback continues to lose matches, and is still over. I think it’s safe to say Ryback is not going anywhere. The kids love him, and if he can stay healthy, I look to him having a monster year in 2013.
3. AJ turns heel, and Ziggler gets some of the louder pops from the crowd at both the pay-per-view and Raw. Oh how roles are reversed. Both of these kids are so over it’s ridiculous. Now they both seem to be aligned and it couldn’t be a better fit. Ziggler did not need a handler anymore, but pairing him with the crazy chick just fits his personality. I was slightly shocked that Ziggler won his TLC match. I had just assumed they would use some loophole to let Cena win and let him use that to cash in on the Rock or Punk for a title shot. Ziggler now has 6 more months to hold on to his Money in the Bank briefcase. Will he wait that long? No. With the fact that Sheamus and Big Show’s feud is coming to an end, and no other person has been shown to be a contender (we know Orton will be when he comes back, and Del Rio is there too), I expect to see Ziggler as a champion soon; maybe as soon as the Rumble.
4. After working for a few weeks with a bad knee and some other nagging injuries, Cody Rhodes and Shield were able to write Sin Cara off of television for a few weeks to heal. I’ll freely admit that ever since Rey Rey took Sin Cara under his wing both in and out of the ring, I have liked him quite a bit better. I’m assuming that was the point. The WWE will do their best to keep both him and Rey healthy, as they work towards the big match between the two, perhaps at WrestleMania.
5. If you watched TLC, or Raw, you saw the advertisements that are already being played for Royal Rumble. It is all about one man: The Rock. We all know he has a date with CM Punk at the Rumble, but how does his story play out from there? How many Raw shows does he appear on before that, and after? Will he win the title and have to defend it inside the Elimination Chamber? Who will he face at WrestleMania? Will WrestleMania be it for him? John Cena still seems to be the best bet when it comes to who is facing Rocky, but there are numerous ways they could go with.
6. The end of Raw, and throughout the Live SmackDown had a lot to do with the beast known as Big E. Langston. The mountain of a man is definitely one who you should not judge before knowing his background. A lot of people were thinking he was Ezekiel Jackson. Others just saw him as a huge meathead. But the guy actually has a lot of skill. He was a champion wrestler in high school, went on to be a defensive tackle at the University of Iowa, and then has wrestled in the territories for a few years before being the current NXT Champion. But yes, he is a horse. He holds quite a few powerlifting records as well. How will this new alliance with Dolph and AJ work, and is he just the 4th of many NXT stars to be brought up soon? If not, I’d look to see Kassius Ohno and Paige to be getting the call very soon.
7. Among other surprise returns over the past few days, we saw The Miz and Alberto Del Rio enlist the help of the Innovator of Violence himself, Tommy Dreamer. Philly crowd or not, that crowd loved seeing Dreamer. With the reaction he got, it would not surprise me if the WWE didn’t try to work with him again soon. He has his own promotion, House of Hardcore, which has several former ECW stars working the shows. He’s staying busy, that’s for sure. He also was on the receiving end of a Shield beat down after the match, and had a bolt puncture his forehead, causing a lot of swelling. He’s Tommy Dreamer. He’s probably already back to whipping people with Singapore canes.
8. After Jim Ross, Ricky Steamboat, and Gene Okerlund announced Triple H/Taker 3 as Match of the Year, Triple H came out for the first time in front of a live crowd since cutting all of his hair off. You have to wonder if and when Triple Haitch will make a return to the ring. We know he probably would want another crack at Lesnar, but that seems fairly unlikely. No way in hell is he done for good, so we should be seeing him more pretty soon. He also made a huge announcement concerning if we will ever see the Undertaker again…
9. …in which he confirmed that The Undertaker was not done and be seen once again. A return by Taker never seemed out of the question, but it all had to do with his health, and his new family. The decision was completely left up to him, and it seems he once again will try and continue the legendary WrestleMania streak. With Shawn Michaels and HHH running their course with The Deadman, and calling it “the end of an era”, who from the “new era” will go after Taker? It seems like some of the best picks would be Punk, Ryback, or maybe even someone like Kane or Chris Jericho.
10. Speaking of CM Punk, as we approach his 400th day as the WWE Champ, we can all be in agreement that his reign may be coming to an end soon. Punk has gotten enough attention over the past couple years that he has John Cena-syndrome in that he does not need to have the title belt to be relevant. Let someone else run with it for a while. Will it be The Rock? Lesnar? Cena? Ryback? All legit contenders. The bigger question is after the year or two CM Punk has had, where does he go from here? Who is left for him to feud with? As much fun as I had with Rock and Cena verbally trashing each other last year…Punk could do it in a completely different yet still effective way. Let it happen.
That’s my hits for the week. I may be back with a year-end recap next week depending on my holiday schedule. In a serious note, I hope all of you readers have a great holiday, and I appreciate all the support you have shown me this year.
What are your thoughts about the people discussed? Is this new “hit list” something you’d like to see more of in the future? Let me know in the comment sections, or via my twitter page. I’ve been trying to post more and more over there. So get involved!
Every Tuesday morning, Marc “Fozzie” B. and I have headlines made just for you. Yes. You right there.
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Don’t have too much eggnog over the next few days.
P.S. If the world is currently ending, I love you all. Please save me when you see me running from a zombie/asteroid/tornado/fireball/earthquake/tidal wave/satanic being.