The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 01/02/12By John CantonFollow me on Twitter at @johnreportI wrote it live this week. Live from Memphis, Tennessee this is the Raw Deal…The beginning of the show had Michael Cole narrate over a graphic that promoted CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Title later in the show. Then they had a video package for the Kane/Cena segment from last week. It was really well done as usual.<!--more-->Following the Nickelback opening song, John Cena's music hit and he ran to the ring to a mixed reaction. It actually sounded like cheers more than boos at least in the beginning as the announcers immediately brought up the reaction. He said he had some resolutions for 2012 and the first one was that he'd wear less underwear. His second one was that his dad was banned from WWE television because of that "This is your life" segment." Two jokes so far. He said that his third one was that he'd beat The Rock at WrestleMania 28 and prove that his lady parts would be removed. Crowd barely laughed at that.He turned into serious mode a bit more saying he was emotional last week, but not towards the fans. He said he won't judge us because we've earned the right to do whatever it is that we want to do. In other words, he's okay with cheering or booing him. He said his disappointment was with Kane. Instead of a match, Kane wants him to turn his back on the fans and the things he loves the most. He says no, not tonight and not any night. He says there's no better feeling than being in the ring in front of all of us. He will continue to enjoy any emotional response that he gets. I've yet to hear a "Cena Sucks" chant by the way. Cena thanks the fans, but before he can finish Kane's music starts up.Kane doesn't appear on the stage. It's just a video package as the lights in the arena go red. He said Cena can try to fight the hate, but that he would realize what it's all about tonight. It was a vague statement that will keep viewers interested to see what may happen later in the show.The announcers plugged the Punk/Ziggler match.Then a quick video saying "The End Begins Tonight" showed up before they went to a commercial after 12 minutes.I thought Cena's promo was okay, but not great by any means. The crowd wasn't even booing him. Maybe Memphis is full of Cena fans? I'm not sure. They were hoping for the jeers, but they really didn't happen. It was a decent mission statement. This angle does intrigue me. There's no point in rushing it, so I'm fine with how it was handled.(Commercial)The "Did You Know?" info was about Smackdown being #1 on Syfy for the 65th straight week. If it was on a better night of the week it would do better ratings. That would be logical, though.Daniel Bryan entered the arena, preparing for a match. They plugged his match on Smackdown this week, which is a World Title defense against Big Show. His opponent is Cody Rhodes, who defends the IC Title on Smackdown versus Booker T.Daniel Bryan vs. Cody RhodesFirst match of the year is this? I approve. I really liked the Rhodes segment on Smackdown with Booker & his brother Dustin. Great promos by all three. Crowd was hot for DBry early. Rhodes got a great nearfall with his awesome Beautiful Disaster kick. Bryan came back with a quick inside cradle and that was enough for the pinfall after just four minutes.Winner: Daniel BryanPost match, Bryan celebrated with the title while jumping on the announce desk as usual. I like his over the top celebrations.Analysis: *1/4 I thought they'd get 10-12 minutes there. Nope. It only went four minutes. Cody got the one nearfall, DBry recovered and that was it. Here's to hoping we see a real feud between them in the near future.They showed a video of R-Truth returning last week to attack The Miz.Right on cue, The Miz walked into John Laurinaitis' office. He complained about the attack, so JL threw to a video package showing when Miz attacked Truth in November. He said people will keep an eye on R-Truth. Then he booked Miz into a match against Sheamus for later. Miz had some line about not being a sitting duck, so then after Miz walked down a hallway, R-Truth showed up, looked into the camera and went "QUACK QUACK!" Aww shucky ducky? Yes that actually happened. Odd.Miz vs. Sheamus coming up later.(Commercial)They plugged the Royal Rumble by showing a clip of the first Royal Rumble in 1988 won by Hacksaw Jim Duggan. I wrote recaps of every Royal Rumble last year, so check those out if you want to know my thoughts.Wade Barrett walked out, so they showed a video of him throwing Orton down the steps at the end of Smackdown. The announcers mentioned Orton had a herniated disk and would be out for awhile. Apparently he's due back on January 16 based on advertisements. Barrett said he's looking forward to 2012 because there's no more Orton and he was going to win the 30 man Royal Rumble. I'm very happy that the Rumble has 30 people in it again. The 40 man Rumble was too much. As Barrett was talking about how nobody is going to stop him, Santino's music hit. I guess we'll have a match.Santino asked him who lasted longer a year ago in the Rumble, saying it was him. If you'll recall, Santino was second place in the Rumble. I think he said the "Barrett Garage" at one point, which his great.Wade Barrett vs. SantinoShort match obviously. Santino went for the Cobra, Barrett countered with back kick to the jaw. Then he threw him into the turnbuckle and finished him with the Winds of Change, which is like the Bossman Slam. Match went about two minutes.Winner: Wade BarrettAnalysis: No rating because it was just a squash to put over Barrett. I'm fine with these kinds of matches once in a while.Backstage, the Bellas were arguing. Miz asked them if they had seen R-Truth. They said no. Miz walked backstage alone. Moments later, Truth showed up without Miz knowing. He went to the camera, said "ssshhh" and walked off. I guess Truth is the only one allowed to acknowledge the camera backstage. He's breaking a wall!(Commercial)Back from break, it's time for a match.Sheamus vs. The MizSheamus walked out first. Miz followed and he was looking behind him, obviously worried by R-Truth. Miz hit him with a DDT very quickly. Sheamus came back, hitting him in the chest with a number of forearms. Miz ran away into the crowd. Is the match over already? I have no idea.With Miz in the crowd, R-Truth was on the microphone. He said he talked to somebody that didn't like The Miz: Little Jimmy. Then he said that he was going to get got. The crowd was cheering for Truth. Miz ran back to the ring and Sheamus KO'd him with a Brogue Kick.Back at ringside, R-Truth grabbed a bottle of water and hit Miz in the face with it. Then he left through the crowd. "This weekly Miz beatdown was brought to you by Little Jimmy, where you will get got." Then Truth went back into the crowd, put the microphone on some kid and he said Happy New Year to The Miz. That's lovely.The "match" went about 30 seconds. More of an angle to continue the Miz-Truth story. It was effective in terms of getting R-Truth some cheers after he turned back to being a babyface. Short matches so far, though.They plugged Punk vs. Ziggler for later. That one better not be a short match!(Commercial)Back live, they plugged the WWE InterAction page as Lawler mentioned how much people hated Cole. Cole said the internet hates him. That's an accurate statement. They showed a video from last week to build up to CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler which is coming up next.Backstage, Josh Mathews interviewed Dolph Ziggler who was doing a headstand. He got back to his feet to cut an awesome promo about how he's the show off and he believes in himself.Also backstage, Zack Ryder was talking to Eve. My boy Jack Swagger walked up to him, telling him an impostor was holding the US Title. Ryder had an awful line about sending Swagger to the ER because both of their names ended in ER. That was bad. I guess they're making him into more of a dork, which is not a money making kind of gimmick. I understand giving him comedy, but being a dork is not a good thing. Laurinaitis showed up saying he can't reward Swagger with a title shot because he helped Ziggler win last week. He can book him in a match though. He announced a six man tag elimination match: Jack Swagger, Mark Henry & Kane vs. Zack Ryder, Big Show & John Cena. I guess that goes on last, unless the "It Begins" video is on last.They showed CM Punk walking to the ring for his match, which is coming up next at the top of hour two.(Commercial)"It's Clobbering Time" as CM Punk makes his way to the ring. The crowd was really loud for the champ, as they should be. Dolph Ziggler was next to good heat. In the ring, they had Justin Roberts introduce both guys with Punk getting the second introduction in this case.WWE Title: CM Punk vs. Dolph ZigglerIt's 10:04pmET as they start this title match. This should be great. I've noticed that they've toned down Cole's heel act throughout the show, which is a good idea. When Daniel Bryan was out he complained about him, but not as much as usual. They took turns being in control early. Punk hit a series of legdrops consecutively, like five in a row. That was an interesting series of moves. Ziggler countered a Punk charge with a stun gun like move on the ropes. They replayed the stun gun move, showing that Punk's face hit the middle rope. He was probably trying to hit the top rope, but he misjudged how far away he was from it. Punk kicked him out of the ring and he went for his dive to the floor. Ziggler countered it with a forearm to the head followed by a neckbreaker on the apron. Ziggler covered for two as they went to break. Hey, a commercial break when both guys are in the ring. That's just crazy. Match is at the five minute mark at the break.(Commercial)Back from break, CM Punk hit a side kick to the head. He hit a spinning powerslam for two. Ziggler recovered with a Fameasser for two. They need to give him a name for that move. Ziggler hit a "look at that move" as the announcers called it for two. It was a reverse bodyslam/suplex by Ziggler. Punk came back with his running knee into a bulldog spot. The turnbuckle pad came off. John Laurinaitis came out, grabbing the exposed turnbuckle pad. He made referee Mike Chioda put it on. Punk put the Anaconda Vice on Ziggler. He was tapping out, but the ref was tied up with the pad. Ziggler went for the Zig Zag, Punk shoved him off and Ziggler hit Laurinaitis by accident. Punk went for the Go to Sleep, Ziggler shoved him and Laurinaitis pulled the rope down "accidentally" which caused Punk to crash to the floor. The timing of the spot was perfectly done. The ref counted Punk out. He made it to a ten count, so Punk was counted out at the 12 minute mark.Winner: Dolph Ziggler via countout - CM Punk is still the WWE ChampionPost match, Ziggler grabbed the WWE Title and celebrated as if he actually won the belt. He did not. They showed the replay as Lawler said Laurinaitis purposely pulled the rope down while Cole said it was an accident. Punk watched it on the screen too. He was mad about it. Punk went after Ziggler, but he was too far away from him to get the belt back.There was another quick "It Begins" video as they went to break.Analysis: **1/2 I had high expectations. We got about nine minutes of action if you don't count the commercial. There wasn't much of a finishing sequence. It was more about building up the Punk/Laurinaitis story, which frankly they did a good job of doing although I would have liked a longer match between these two guys. Now they can say Ziggler pinned Punk last week and beat him via countout here. I'd expect another match between them either on Raw or at the Royal Rumble event.(Commercial)Back from break, they plugged the Royal Rumble again, this time showing clips of the 1995 Royal Rumble when Shawn Michaels won by eliminating the Bulldog after Bulldog thought he had won.Oh crap, the Bellas music. They're against Eve & Kelly. Boo.Kelly Kelly & Eve vs. The BellasWhy must they reprise one of the worst feuds of last year? They had way too many matches on Raw. I don't need to see it again. Kelly hit her stinkface early. The Bellas did one move on Kelly, then she got the hot tag to Eve. Nobody in the crowd cares. I don't blame them. Eve hit a weak kick to the head and tried to finish off one of the Bellas with a Moonsault. The other one broke it up. The twins switched and she gave Eve an inside cradle to win after 2 minutes. Yawn.Winners: Brie & Nikki BellaAnalysis: 1/4* The moonsault by Eve was impressive, but this match was bad. Where are Beth & Natalya? Nobody cares about the Bellas.Backstage, Laurinaitis was talking to David Otunga. Punk walked in, complaining to JL about what he did out there. JL said his problem is with Ziggler, not him. He said at the Royal Rumble it would be Punk vs. Ziggler for the WWE Title with Laurinaitis as the special referee. Punk threatened him saying that if he screwed him out of the title he'd kick his ass..basically. He left as they went to break.I'm fine with more Punk vs. Ziggler. It may not be a classic because with JL there it will likely have some overbooking, but obviously they think they have something good here with JL feuding with Punk so they are going to push that angle.(Commercial)Back from break, they did some "Did you know?" thing that I didn't pay attention to.It was time for another "It Begins" video hyping up a familiar force returning to claim what is his. The boy spoke: "She has spoken. It is time. The end of the world as you know it is here. Now." They went back to the arena and the camera was shaking as an added effect. The lights went out.A figure appeared at the top of the ramp doing the famous pose of Y2J Chris Jericho. Then the music hit: "BREAK THE WALLS DOWN!" Huge pop for Jericho! He soaked in the cheers for about a full minute or two. He was smiling a lot more than normal, so perhaps he will be a babyface. He even walked around the ringside area and slapped hands with the fans. A loud "Y2J" chant erupted as he finally got his hands on a microphone. There was a 3 or 4 minute delay from the time his music hit to when he got in the ring. He was excited. When it looked like he was going to finally talk, he continued to try to milk it and encouraged cheers from the fans.He continued to milk the chants by pointing to each side of the crowd, encouraging their cheers. I would love to see the smug Jericho face right now as he rips on the fans for cheering him. Just as he was about to talk again, he encouraged more cheers. What an odd return this is. Then he ran around the ring one more time, slapping the hands of the fans. He even took one of the cameras from a camera guy to focus it on the fans. He slapped hands with the fans up the aisle as well. Then he went to the top of the ramp to soak in even more cheers. Then he walked backstage. That's it?What an odd return that was. Jericho said no words. He walked out, slapped hands with the fans, had a smile on his face and then he left. The announcers didn't know how to react. I kept waiting for him to get on the microphone, cut a heel promo and tell the fans to stick it. Instead, we got a celebratory return that featured no words aside from him asking the fans for applause. I hope that's not the last we see of Jericho on this show.The main event six man tag is next.This Friday night during Smackdown I'll be participating in a live chat with my buddy Brandon Stroud of With Leather to talk about the show as well as answer any questions you have. Brandon writes a great "Best & Worst of Raw" column every week, so be sure to check the site out every day for that plus daily sports takes.(Commercial)It's main event time. Six man elimination tag match. Big Show was the first one out for his team followed by Zack Ryder and then John Cena. I wouldn't be shocked if Big Show turned heel soon based off Daniel Bryan cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase on him a few weeks back. Out first for the heel team is Mark Henry, who has apparently recovered from his groin injury. Jack Swagger is next out for his team. What are the odds that Swagger wins? Not very good. Kne was the last one out for his team, or so we thought. His music played. He never walked out. Leave him alone. He has to get his wig in place. Out walked the legal advisor David Otunga to talk to referee Scott Armstrong & Justin Roberts. Roberts announces that Kane won't be participating, so it's now a handicap match.John Cena, Zack Ryder & Big Show vs. Jack Swagger & Mark HenryThere are the dueling Cena chants that they were begging for at the start of the show. I guess the crowd didn't get the cue early on. They picked it up here. Swagger booted Cena to the mat as they went to break. Another commercial break that happened without a guy going to the floor? Crazy.(Commercial)Back from the break, Big Show was in the ring. Henry got the tag. Henry went for a steel chair. Big Show punched it into Henry's face and then hit him in the back with a steel chair. Show got eliminated presumably for a DQ while Henry also got eliminated. Cole said for a countout, but if you get hit by a chair you shouldn't get eliminated. It was time for Swagger vs. Ryder. Ryder hit the Broski Boot in the corner and he went for the Rough Ryder, but Swagger caught his foot and put him in the ankle lock. Ryder got the hot tag to Cena. Cena came in hitting his five moves of doom including a Five Knuckle Shuffle and then the Attitude Adjustment. Swagger loses convincingly like the jobber he has become of late.Winners: John Cena & Zack RyderAnalysis: *1/4 There was no flow to the match. The commercial killed it.Post match, Cena went up the ramp. Kane emerged from under the ring. He attacked Ryder. Then Cena came after him, but Kane smothered him with his gloved right hand. Cena was out. Did I mention that the arena was all red now? Kane has the power to control the lights.With Super Cena out on the floor, Kane focused on Ryder in the ring. Kane pulled Ryder into the floor with him. Cena saved him from the "abyss" as Cole called it. Yes, apparently under the ring there is a different world all of a sudden. With Cena & Ryder in the corner, the hole that Kane came out of ignited in flames as his music played once more. The show ended with Cena looking on with a serious look on his face.That was an odd ending. I figured they would have had Kane beat up Ryder while Cena was out so that Cena would feel bad that his friend was taking a beating for him. Instead we got that odd finish with the hole being on fire.Three Stars of the Show1. Chris Jericho. Welcome back.2. Dolph Ziggler. Wish they had more time.3. CM Punk. Same as above.5 out of 10Last week: 5Last 5 Weeks: 5, 6.5, 6, 6.5, 7.5The first Raw of 2012 earns the very average rating of five from me. Three main things happened. The rest was pretty much filler.First up, the Jericho return was different than what I was expecting. He got a massive pop the moment the fans realized it was him, chanting "Y2J" and cheering for him while he encouraged them to do so. He never said a word over the microphone, though. Weird right? There are a couple of ways to interpret it. To me, the most obvious thing I took out of it was this was his way of pissing us off. Instead of hearing him speak, he left. That has angered a lot of people. I've seen it on my Facebook & Twitter already. People are pissed off about it. Isn't that the reaction he wants? I think it is. To those that are angry I say step back a little. Cool off. Look at it from his perspective. He's a master of working people, just as he did on Twitter for weeks saying he was never going to appear in WWE again. Some people are gullible. It worked. I doubt Jericho is back as the smiling babyface he appeared to be when he stood in the ring with that goofy grin on his face. I was waiting for him to get on the microphone to cut a heel promo calling all the fans sheep and how he doesn't want any of their support because he knows he is…cue slow talking…"the best in the world at what I do."By the way, I told you it was Jericho over a month ago. I never wavered. I'm glad it was him. I'm also glad that I don't have to read theories about Shane & Stephanie McMahon, Kharma, Undertaker & Michelle or others being the mystery person. There were so many Jericho related clues. Most knew, but a lot didn't and for that I applaud him for a return well done. That's why Jericho is one of my favorite people in wrestling history. He always keeps people guessing. That's what the business should be about.Welcome back home Chris Jericho. Sometimes words are overrated. Your presence is enough for me. Getting them riled up and wanting more is the exact response he was likely looking for. My name is John and I'm a Jerichoholic.The Ziggler/Punk feud was furthered although not in a great way. It's just okay. The issue is between Punk & Laurinatis although in this case JL isn't the antagonist the way we're used to seeing. He is more of an accidental heel, claiming he doesn't do things on purpose even though clearly he is intentionally trying to cause problems for the WWE Champion.I was fine with the Kane-Cena the last few weeks. This week was too over the top and silly with him coming out from under the ring. Cole trying to tell us that he was trying to take Ryder to the abyss was really lame too. It felt like it was 1987 or something, not 2012. I know they've done that sort of thing with Undertaker as well as Kane in the past, but I don't think it worked very well here. Then again maybe it will scare my 10 year old niece when she watches the show, so it could get the kind of reaction they want for their target demographic.Lastly, there was no Brodus Clay return/debut again after being adamant about it last week. I can't say I care too much either way. I just want him to return so people can stop asking me about it.How would you rate 01/02 Raw on the 1-10 scale?I asked you for questions and you responded to me @johnreport.@semicorrect Here's my question: why do we fans care so much about figuring out secrets instead of enjoying them when they're resolved?I'm not sure. People like to know. I can enjoy something whether I know a surprise or not. I don't think everybody can say that.@thesamhale By end of 2012, Drew McIntyre will be...?I think he'll be in the IC or US Title hunt. He's a good talent. Management just has to believe in him. I think they will.@Vito_Selvaggi What's your favorite Royal Rumble PPV? Particularly what RR match, but overall as well.My favorites are 1992 and 2001. I reviewed them all last year. Link here: http://bit.ly/efbrhy@tonyisbad Is it just me or is new Kane really cheesy?So far I agree to an extent, but let's let it play out a bit. Patience, my friend!@Spirezilla When's your bet for ziggler to win the title? Fingers crossed no wellness violations or injuries.Gut feeling is the second half of 2012. If he doesn't win the title this year I'd be disappointed.@TommyButler14 Which WWE Divas, past or present, would make your top five for "SUCKY DUCKY QUACK QUACK" reactions?Love this one! I'd go with Trish Stratus, Mickie James, Sunny, Dawn Marie & throwing in a WCW name, Kim Page.@the_ignorant_1 What are the chances of former midcard talent returning to WWE? Examples Carlito, Shelton Benjamin, or MVP.I think Shelton is very possible, perhaps later this year. MVP maybe in a year or two. Probably not for Carlito.@OppressedWorld Which superstar will make the biggest main event level impact in 2012?I assume you mean a new main eventer. I pick Cody Rhodes for that. I can see him feuding with Punk & Cena later in the year.@bradimusprime56 Do you see a move to smackdown for either @RonKillings or @mikethemiz in the near future?I don't see Miz moving there. Maybe Killings though. Do the brands really matter anymore? Doesn't feel like it.@NYnick87 What was your favorite feud that Chris Jericho was involved in?My fave Jericho feud is the one against Shawn Michaels in 2008. Also liked Benoit feud in 2000-01 and Rock feud.That's all for this week. I'll be back with a TJR staff column later in the week and then on the weekend with Canton's Corner where I'll likely write more about Jericho's return.Keep checking out thejohnreport.net every day for 3-4 new columns/reviews daily. We're growing. Join us.Thanks for reading.John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter @johnreportFacebook Facebook.com/thejohnreportnetVisit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.