The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 01/09/12By John CantonFollow me on Twitter at @johnreportLive from Corpus Christi, Texas this is the Raw Deal…They started the show with a video package from last week with Kane trying to drag Zack Ryder "to hell" with John Cena saving him at the end. Kane started the show with a promo. They had the red lights on to make the situation more ominous I guess. Kane cut the same promo he did a few weeks ago where he tells us that we should embrace the hate. He says that when we chant "Cena sucks" we're actually saying that we suck. No, I'm pretty sure it means that Cena sucks. It's not hard to interpret. He continues his boring psychoanalysis by blaming the people for Zack Ryder being popular while I wait for somebody to come out. Kane's fine with me, but he should talk less when he has the mask on. It's not complicated. <!--more-->Suddenly, the lights turned on and John Cena came running out. Apparently John Cena has the ability to turn lights on to counter the mysterious powers of Kane. He really is Super Cena huh? He was so serious he didn't even do his talking to the camera deal or the salute to the crowd. He had a brawl with Kane. They fought around ringside. Then they went backstage where Kane punched some indy workers that are dressed like people that actually work there. They fought backstage. A pipe was involved. Kane got an uppercut on Cena to stagger him back. The camera focused on him and then when it switched back Kane was gone. This was an effective way of keeping viewers intrigued in the Kane/Cena angle without being too hokey about it. It was a sign that there would be more to come later. Sheamus & Santino d. Jinder Mahal & Wade Barrett (1/2*)They got around three minutes. Sheamus cleaned house and Santino got the win on Jinder with the Cobra. Don't understand the logic. They booked Jinder like a jobber for weeks, then they had him team up with Barrett to beat down Sheamus on Smackdown and now he's losing to the Cobra of all moves. They're also supposed to do Sheamus vs. Jinder on Smackdown this week. How does this get people excited for that? Poor Sheamus. He needs a good storyline. This was just filler. Backstage, The Miz complained to John Laurinaitis about R-Truth attacking him. Oh, jobber David Otunga was there too. Laurinaitis said it was his own fault and that he's busy preparing for the Brodus Clay debut. See, that's a good way of not portraying Laurinaitis as a blatant heel even though he really is one. Miz wanted private security, JL said no. Then he delivered this great line: "I'm not your problem. I'm not Little Jimmy. I'm Big Johnny." Laurinaitis is getting better, folks. Mr. Excitement has had some great one liners of late. That was another one. The "Did You Know?" told us that Andre the Giant was the first WWE Hall of Famer in 1993. Did you also know that they completely ignored the Hall of Fame from 1997 to 2003? Now you know. They announced the headline inductee for the Hall of Fame this year the night before WrestleMania. I thought it would be The Rock. It is not him. It is Edge. I'm cool with it although this likely means Toronto isn't getting WrestleMania next year. I saw Edge in the indies, I saw his second ever PPV match (Breakdown 1998 vs. Owen Hart), I saw his last televised match at WrestleMania 27 last year (he did a dark match that was officially his last match) and I was at the Edge Appreciation Night show in Toronto last September. I will likely be there to see him in the Hall of Fame too. I've supported the local Ontario boy from the beginning and it will be an honor to be there for his Hall of Fame moment as well. I fully expect Christian to induct him. There's also an Edge career DVD coming out prior to WrestleMania that will show that awesome 45 minute Edge Appreciation Night that I've alluded to in the past. I have a bit of a Hall of Fame rant, but I'll save that for later when we get to the other inductees for the HOF. They mentioned HOF tickets being on sale on Saturday. Last year I got mine on the day of the show. That's the plan this year. I don't care where I sit. If you are interested in WrestleMania 28 tickets and to even sit near me, contact my buddy Nick Giuliano at email@example.com and he can help you out. I got my tickets from him. So did a lot of my friends. We saw The Miz backstage talking to Mason Ryan, possibly for help. We couldn't hear. It didn't look like Mason was interested. I guess he's content with doing absolutely nothing on the show week after week. What a hard worker he is! Backstage, Zack Ryder was talking to his dad on the phone. Eve showed up. He asked if she wanted to go out later because he was off for the night. If he was working couldn't he still go out? Anyway, she said yes. She mentioned she had a match with Beth Phoenix, so it would have to be after that. She left, then Zack left and a red light emerged from behind a door, which was opened by Kane. Oh so scary…if you're seven years old. Daniel Bryan d. Kofi Kingston (*)I was hoping for a longer match. Nope. Bryan won in about 90 seconds with a clean tapout win using the LeBell Lock. I don't hate the quick finish because Bryan does need a few of those to establish him as a credible champion. It puts over the "he can beat anybody at any time with a submission move" idea, so I am okay with it. I just wanted a longer match for the sake of seeing two great workers together. Know what I mean?Post match, Bryan did his over the top heelish celebration. The fans aren't totally booing him even though he showed a lot of heel tendencies on Smackdown as well as here. While he was celebrating, Big Show's music hit. Bryan said he hated how their match ended on Smackdown last week (DQ because of Mark Henry hitting Bryan after he taunted him) although he was being a jerk in terms of how he said it. Show said he was glad he felt that way because he talked to SD GM Teddy Long who told him they would have a World Title match on Smackdown this week. The stipulations are no DQ's or countouts. I'm assuming that Bryan escapes with the title again in a cheap manner leading to a triple threat at the Rumble with Bryan defending against Big Show & Mark Henry. Here's to hoping they continue to get behind this heel run of Daniel Bryan. Plug time. TJR Radio returns this Wednesday January 11th at 10pmET/9pmCT for two hours. You can get all the info RIGHT HERE fella. We'll talk about Chris Jericho's return, the Royal Rumble and other happenings on the road to WrestleMania. You can call in via Skype or phone if you want as well. It's always a good time, so be sure to listen in! If you miss we'll post the replay info on thejohnreport.net so you can download, stream or get it off of iTunes if you so choose. Brodus Clay is up next. They showed his locker room door to let us know it was time. They did a Royal Rumble flashback showcasing the 1994 Rumble won by Bret Hart & Lex Luger. Last January I recapped every Rumble in something I called a The Royal Rumblefest so check that out if you're interested. It was a decent match although the roster was very thin in those days. Brodus Clay d. Curt Hawkins (SQUASH)The big return/debut of Brodus sees him come out in this red outfit where he's known as the "Funkasaurus" from "Planet Funk." He had music similar to Ernest "The Cat" Miller even with a "somebody call my mama" lne and it was also reminiscent to that brutal Flash Funk gimmick from the late 1990s. My initial reaction was WHAT DA HAYELL?!?! Instead of returning in the monster role, he was an over the top babyface doing some retro funk dances. Very odd. He beat Hawkins in about a minute with a running cross body block as his finisher. He did the same spots I saw him do when he was squashing guys on Superstars in the fall of last year. The announcers even said that he squashed him. The announcers laughed at it in an over the top manner. It's nice that he's not doing a gimmick that's similar to Mark Henry like a lot of us expected, but this was completely out of left field for me. Still, let's see where it's headed. It could be fun in a campy sort of way. What did I get out of all this? Vince McMahon clearly has a fetish with big guys dancing. Over the years we've seen guys like Akeem, Rikishi and Viscera being fat men that can dance. Now it's time for Brodus to do it. Vince must be laughing really hard backstage. Suplex, baby! There were two women with Brodus as the Funkasaurus dancers I guess. One was Naomi Knight from the women's only season of NXT and the other was Cameron Lynn from Tough Enough. She's the one that said her favorite match ever was Alicia Fox vs. Melina leading to this classic Steve Austin reaction to that statement. She was the first one eliminated from Tough Enough, yet here she is being debuted before the actual winner. It's just another reality show where winning doesn't really matter. Backstage, Zack Ryder was brushing his teeth in the bathroom in anticipation with his date with Eve. Doesn't he prepare for a date like Ted in "There's Something About Mary?" I guess that wouldn't be PG. The reason they showed this is because Kane was lurking in the background even though Zack never saw him. Backstage, The Miz asked Epico, Primo & Rosa for help. Wow they are really booking him to be a loser if he's asking them for help. Rosa yelled at him in Spanish because that's her gimmick now. CM Punk walked up to him, laughed at him and left because his match was next at the top of hour two. Before the next match, the stipulation was added that if Punk won the match then Vickie Guerrero & Jack Swagger were banned from ringside during the Punk/Ziggler match at the Rumble. He also announced Cena vs. Ziggler later. CM Punk d. Jack Swagger (**1/2)They worked hard for 13 minutes with a commercial thrown in. The problem is Swagger has lost so much in the last couple of years that he has almost no heat when he's on offense. The fans don't believe he can beat people, much less somebody like CM Punk. The finish was weird. Instead of Punk winning with the GTS or the Anaconda Vice, he won with the top rope elbow. I thought this was a work to build up to JL as ref at the Rumble, but it looks like ref Jack Doan messed up here. Immediately after Swagger got his shoulder up, Punk went for the Anaconda Vice because that was likely the next spot. Instead, the match ended on a signature Punk spot that has not been a finishing move for him. Look at Punk's reaction at the 4:34 mark in this video. He was going for the Anaconda Vice, which could have been the planned finish or maybe the GTS a few moments later. After the bell rings, Punk looks legit pissed off...and he won the match. So it lends me to believe it was messed up by the ref, which is crazy at the WWE level. They know what the finishes are and Jack Doan has been working for WWE for 20 years, so that really confused me. My first reaction was it was a total work as a way for Laurinaitis to say he's the best ref for the job in a Punk match. The way it turned out, though, didn't suggest that to be true. It looked like a total mistake. His face told that story too. He was embarrassed, Punk reacted to it unfavorably despite winning the match and the others around ringside didn't appear ready for that to be the finish too. What would suggest that it's a work is that when they watched the replay, Lawler & Cole brought up the storyline aspect of Laurinaitis being the ref at the Rumble. They likely got that cue in their headset. It was definitely a case where Swagger got his shoulder up before the three, so not sure what Jack Doan was looking at here. Maybe they can turn this into an angle. I guess we'll find out next week. After showing a clip of the Cena/Kane brawl, they showed Cena talking to Ryder. Zack was thanking him for helping him get the US title shot, for saving him and basically telling him how great he is. We get it. John Cena is the greatest man in the history of the world. We've seen it for almost seven years at a main event level. We understand. Cena congratulated Ryder on passing Miz in terms of having more Twitter followers. Yes, because that's such a significant thing. Maybe they should have a Twitter Title too. Enough with the damn Twitter. Cena told him to calm down about Kane. Ryder was worried.They plugged the WWE Network again. I've read and been told that the projected launch date of April 1, 2012 is unlikely. It's probably going to be later in the year although we don't have an exact date on that yet. I would guess September is a possibility. It's better to get it right from the beginning than to rush it. If they are doing it later in the year they need to stop with the commercial every week. It's become annoying rather quickly.The Bella Twins had one of their unnatural conversations about being A-Listers, even mentioning Stacy Keibler. Let me get this right. Keibler was not even close to an A-Lister before, but now that George Clooney is "dating" her she is? Congrats to her for being more famous because of WHO you do, not WHAT you do. Good thing she didn't marry David Flair, I guess. Ricardo Rodriguez walked in. Apparently they asked him to come to the show "from Mexico" even though Del Rio was injured. He wondered why they couldn't just call. Before they could get into it, Miz interrupted. He threatened Rodriguez, telling him to go to the ring to say some bad things about R-Truth or else Miz would beat him up. Rodriguez was scared, so they found one person to be afraid of The Miz, who is supposed to be a main event level. Miz as a badass heel is not working, guys.Michael Cole set us up for another video package about the next Hall of Famers. It was the Four Horsemen group of Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham and manager JJ Dillon. They were together in the NWA, not WWE, but they definitely deserve it. There have been a few incarnations of the group, but I'm glad they are inducting the best foursome of the group. It's not like they're going to include the one that included Paul Roma or the final one that included Chris Benoit. I always thought Arn deserved it on his own, but it's fine that he's going to be in with the group. I guess this means Flair will be there. Does he get another ring? Not sure. It should be noted too that Flair was at last year's HOF for HBK's speech. He asked TNA for permission and they granted it to him. I'd imagine they have already agreed to it this year too. You can't have the Horsemen without Ric Flair. Woo.Now it's time for a bit of a rant about WWE's Hall of Fame. I think the pageantry of the event itself is great. Doing it the night before WrestleMania is smart, having all the wrestlers dress up & smile during the speeches is the right move and seeing the HOFers deliver their speeches is cool. I went to the Hall of Fame last year. I marked out for HBK. I loved being there. I might go this year too because I've followed Edge's career so closely. However, there's no legitimacy to it or exact qualifications for it. The fact that guys like Bruno Sammartino and Randy Savage aren't in is a joke. They're not in for political reasons. They had a falling out with Vince for whatever reason. Frankly, I'm glad they aren't putting in Savage this year. He should have been in seven years ago. He should have been in while he was alive so he could give the speech. Then there's a guy like Koko B Ware in the Hall of Fame, who is the equivalent to a current guy like Heath Slater, a marginal talent who is a borderline jobber. Not a Hall of Famer. I think putting Drew Carey in last year because he appeared on one WWE event a decade ago was silly. He was on to promote some comedy special that was on a week later. Lame. Most of the people in the Hall of Fame deserve it, or you can make a good case for. It's not without its flaws though. There are no set guidelines for somebody waiting five years like in pro sports. It's totally random. As long as they can pick five or six different people to induct so they can justify a nearly three hour show they are going to do it. I'm not saying I hate the Hall of Fame or what it is about. I'm saying I wish it was run better than it is. With all of that said, I'll likely be one of the 12,000 plus people in attendance on March 31 in Miami for the Hall of Fame this year because I support Edge. Last year we paid about $45 on the day of the show and sat in the upper deck. Good tickets for that don't matter to me. It's just a bunch of speeches. In the ring, Ricardo Rodriguez was ripping on R-Truth as he was told. He ripped on his mother while also saying that his breath stinks. R-Truth came out. Truth said he didn't know why Rodriguez wanted to pick a fight with him because he's a goooooooooooood R-Truth. Then he called out to the crowd, calling them Little Jimmy repeatedly. They didn't react as favorably as management probably wanted. Truth's act worked better as a heel. The best part of this segment was R-Truth forcing RR to sing "La Cucaracha" to which RR did a tremendous job. Not only did he sing the main part of it, but he threw in a remix as well. Truth wanted him to sing again, but RR slapped the microphone out of Truth's hand. Truth hit his finisher. Miz came out of nowhere to attack R-Truth. They went out to the floor a bit, but Truth won the battle again with Miz running away through the crowd. Basically the story is that Truth owns Miz. The crowd didn't seem to care about any of this too much. This feud really isn't working. It's a shame they turned Truth back into a face because his heel act was a lot better. What are they doing with Miz? He comes off as the worst kind of coward. It's not money drawing heel gimmick. It's time for Chris Jericho again. He got the big intro from Justin Roberts. His titantron video is a video of him from last week smiling and saying nothing. That's a nice touch. He walked out wearing the same jacket as last week with the lights on it. He had a microphone in hand. The smile was there again. Instead of smiling the entire time, though, he broke down into tears. Or very fake tears. Then he left. Some in the crowd booed, but not enough of them. I guess the idea of the gimmick is to show different emotions week after week until the real Jericho comes out of his shell so to speak. Some people are calling it trolling, which is a fine term to use. It would be cool if he was in the Rumble, won it and then finally spoke to say he's going after Punk's WWE Title. While I think the Punk match is likely, I don't know if that's the planned direction. Either way, I'm sure this probably pissed some people off. I'm fine with it. I want to see what's next. Like I said last week it's Chris Jericho. Give him the benefit of the doubt. He's a proven success, so I have faith that it will all make sense in due time. There's no need to rush it. Be patient, my friends! The next Royal Rumble flashback was 1998 when Steve Austin last eliminated The Rock. I think that's the same PPV where Mike Tyson called him "Cold Stone." Good times, Mike. Eve walked out for her match. As she got to ringside, the lights went red and Kane's music hit. Zack Ryder showed up, grabbed her arm and they ran to the back. Lots of filming in the back on this show. The announcers stalled while they got to Zack's car in the parking lot. The back tire was slashed, so Eve sat in the front seat telling him to hurry up while Zack slowly tried to put on the spare tire. The camera guy watched all of this without helping because I guess he's a jerk. Those damn camera guys. Next week it's Zack Ryder vs. Jack Swagger for the US Title. After a break, Zack was still struggling to put the new tire on. If you wanted to know what the complete opposite of entertaining television is, it's Zack Ryder trying to put on a spare tire.John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler ended in a "We Don't Know How to Book the Finish" (1/2*)This was probably the worst match Ziggler's going to have because it was obvious the match didn't matter. Hence my match result at the top. Yes I used the word hence. I'm growing in 2012, folks. During the thrilling five minute "match" that meant nothing, they cut to the video wall to show Kane arriving in the parking lot. He beat up Ryder. Ziggler stalled Cena by putting him in a sleeper, but Super Cena fought him off and threw him into the steel steps. Way to put over the number one contender. I'm not sure if Ziggler got back in the ring to win by countout. It didn't matter. While in the parking lot, Kane took Ryder over to the edge of the parking lot where there were some conveniently placed wooden pallets. He gave Ryder a chokeslam onto it, which was about a two foot drop, maybe three feet. Ryder kind of bounced off from it. I guess that's where Sin Cara's trampoline was! The big ending happened when Super Cena found his way to the parking lot, Kane attacked him from behind with some big right hands and then smothered him with his glove. Meanwhile, the camera showed Ryder laid out on the pallets as well. The show ended with Kane standing over a knocked out Cena and Ryder, dominant once again. Where was Eve? I don't know. Nobody cares about Eve. Listen to the marginal pops she gets. I guess she got the hell out of there. I thought the ending to last week's show was bad. This one was probably worse. These over the top Kane storylines are okay with me as long as they're not the main event angles. They are too cheesy for me. Too 1980s. This is not me hating Kane. It's just the placement of the angles. They’re using Kane as an opponent for Cena so that Super Cena can go over him strong. Kane's a legit top guy, so it makes Cena look great prior to his big WrestleMania match with Rock. Plus, it's a good way to keep Cena out of the title picture. I just don't think all of these 1987 horror movie plot points are the way to go about building up to it. Three Stars of the Show1. Brodus Clay - Planet Funk looks like a fun place. Somebody call my momma! 2. Zack Ryder for his incredibly slow job of changing a tire.3. Ricardo Rodriguez - His singing of La Cucaracha was fantastic! Remix!None of the three stars are that serious. Please don't argue about them. Smile. 4 out of 10Last week: 52012 Average: 4.5Last 5 Weeks: 5, 5, 6.5, 6, 6.5I didn't like this show too much. I'm not sure if I want to cry, call my momma or sing a remixed version of La Cucaracha. The Royal Rumble is on January 29th. They didn't do a very good job of promoting it. Did Ziggler beat Cena? They didn't even announce him as the winner of that match. Punk's win over Swagger was botched, so in terms of hyping up the Punk/Ziggler match all they did was add the stip that Guerrero & Swagger are banned from ringside. Nothing else was really done to promote the Rumble. Shouldn't wrestlers be cutting promos about how much they want to win such a historically prestigious match? That would be nice. Have you noticed Michael Cole's act has been toned down a lot? I've read that it was an internal decision a few weeks ago. He's not putting over the heels as much and he's not ripping into the faces much either. I guess management finally realized that a play by play guy ripping on some of the performers is a bad idea when you're trying to convince people to spend $50 to buy PPVs. How would you rate 01/09 Raw on the 1-10 scale?I'll bring the Twitter Ten back on the weekend with Canton's Corner. I've been too busy today to do it. I wanted to get this column up at a reasonable time. That's all for this week. Make sure you're listening to TJR Radio this Wednesday at 10pmET/9pmCT and I'll be back with another edition of Canton's Corner on Saturday. The 2012 Rumbling to Mania column is coming soon, definitely prior to the Royal Rumble. 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.