Live from Birmingham, England this is the Raw Deal for episode #1015. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
Before we get started, thank you to all those that sent along birthday wishes. It was on Sunday. I had a good weekend with friends and family. Weekend birthdays are much better than weekday ones. That's for damn sure. My gift to you is a bit of a rant at the end of this week's column.
The show began with a brief video about last week's Raw when the 5 on 5 tag match was made for Survivor Series.
There was a clip from "earlier today" where The Miz told Paul Heyman that he quit from Team Punk.
Analysis: I didn't see that coming because I figured Miz would have a prominent role at Survivor Series. I'm not sure where they're going with this, but I'm intrigued to see it because Miz has been doing a very good job of late.
There was a voiceover guy that told us what would happen on Raw: We'll hear from referee Brad Maddox and the John Cena/AJ Lee "scandal." It was an interesting intro. It's different from the usual. It came off as more professional. I liked it.
The announcers for this week's show are Michael Cole and Jim Ross. Next week Jerry Lawler returns to the commentary table.
A tag match starts the show. No in-ring promos. There were some Tout videos from Antonio Cesaro and R-Truth to hype up their new rivalry.
Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara & R-Truth vs. Antonio Cesaro, Titus O'Neil & Darren Young
There were a lot of quick tags early on to get everybody in the ring for a bit. Young whipped Mysterio into the corner where Rey took the bump chest first. That led to the heel team working over Mysterio in the corner. Mysterio fought out of an O'Neil slam. Truth hit a sliding dropkick on O'Neil for a nearfall. Young and Cesaro went into the ring to argue with Truth, Mysterio & Sin Cara since they were working together and then they went to a commercial break.
Analysis: No in-ring promo to start the show. No vintage floor to commercial spot. They usually say Canada is "Bizarro Land," but maybe it's England instead.
Sin Cara gave Young an arm drag off the ropes. He didn't go off the top ropes, so I'm sure Sin Cara haters will be out in full force to criticize him. Mysterio went for 619 on Young, but Cesaro tagged in and then gave Mysterio a backbreaker. Great spot for a two count. O'Neil gave Mysterio three backbreakers. Cesaro tagged in and connected with the gutwrench suplex on Mysterio. Mysterio with a drop toe hold on Cesaro in the corner and then a beautiful DDT on Cesaro, which led to the hot tag to R-Truth. Flying forearm by Truth on Cesaro. O'Neil missed a clothesline and went flying to the floor. Suplex into a jawbreaker by Truth on Cesaro. They're the legal men even though it's broken down. Sin Cara with a dropkick to Young that sent him outside the ring. Great headscissors by Sin Cara on Cesaro leading to Mysterio hitting the 619 and then Truth hitting the Little Jimmy finisher for the victory. The match went 11 minutes.
Winners: Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara & R-Truth
Post match, Mysterio & Sin Cara did the "millions of dollars" dance. It's funny because of how awkward it looks.
Analysis: ** A standard TV match. I think the babyface team was in the ring without tags for about 45 seconds at the end there. Isn't there supposed to be a rule where they have to leave the ring within five or ten seconds? Oh well. It's no shock that the US Champion Cesaro was the one pinned by Truth because that's typical wrestling booking where the champion loses a non-title match. I would expect to see a Cesaro vs. Truth match in the near future whether it's at Survivor Series or on television in the near future.
We'll hear from suspended WWE referee Brad Maddox later. Also more about this John Cena/AJ Lee "controversy" that I hope ends soon. We'll hear from Vickie Guerrero next.
A video from September 10, 2012 was shown when Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack. Then we were told that Lawler returns to Raw next Monday, which is November 12. It's amazing that he can come back after two months. It will be good to hear his voice again.
A recap aired of last week's story with Vickie Guerrero talking to John Cena about his "scandal" with former Raw GM AJ Lee.
The "Managing Supervisor" of Raw, Vickie Guerrero, made her way out to the ring. She said that "hanky panky is not allowed" in WWE. I guess this same logic wasn't in effect during Vickie's various "affairs" when she was in charge. There were videos of everything that's happened from when Cena asked AJ out on a date last month and then two weeks ago when Cena hugged AJ "romantically" as Vickie said. Then the video from when Cena and AJ went into a hotel elevator together. She said that the story didn't end there, but before she could finish the music of John Cena started up.
John Cena walked out to the ring. No more pink because breast cancer awareness month is over. He's in the green shirt and hat once again. Cena said that Vickie being fair is not going to happen just like him learning a new wrestling move. "Is it five?" He asked. That was funny. Cena recapped Vickie's history with Edge and Dolph Ziggler over the years. Cena insulted Vickie's looks using British slang, which the crowd loved. Way to be a star, John. Guerrero said she was sent this hotel security footage.
The security footage showed AJ walking in a hallway in a robe. She knocked on a door. The door opened. She went into the room. We didn't see the person in the room. Vickie showed the footage of the room again and it was Cena opening the door while wearing a towel. He hung a "do not disturb" sign on the door handle. The crowd cheered wildly for this. Cena said there were two different cameras and that didn't explain anything. Vickie wanted AJ to come out there to explain why she walks hotel hallways half naked. The crowd cheered for her, chanting "we want AJ."
AJ Lee appeared on the video screen. She said if she went out there she would attack Vickie and be fired. She said she then she wouldn't be able to do what she wanted to do. Dolph Ziggler showed up to say "we all know what you love to do." He's not insinuating wrestling, my friends. Cena ran to the back. Vickie laughed in the ring. And they went to break there.
Analysis: This angle hurts my brain. If AJ is already out of the GM job, why do they have to keep going with this angle that just drags on and on? Maybe they're using AJ to keep Cena cheered by the fans since AJ is loved by the fans and as we all know Cena does get booed quite a bit. They even had Cena come out to call out Vickie for hooking up with wrestlers while she was running the show and it still continues. At least the crowd cheered when they thought Cena hooked up with AJ in the hotel room, so that's something. I guess they're trying to rope in some viewers that dig the relationship storylines in wresting. I get that. I just don't think they're doing this angle in the right way. We'll see where it ends up. So far, though, I'm not a huge fan of it.
They did a plug for SandyNJReliefFund.org, which was set up by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. If you have any money and you're willing to give, you should think about donating.
Backstage, Paul Heyman asked Wade Barrett to replace The Miz on Team Punk at Survivor Series. Barrett said he refused last week and he is this week. Big pop for Barrett since he's an English wrestler in front of the fans from his home country. Then Barrett reconsidered the offer saying he's on the team, but that Heyman owes him one. He wanted it in writing. Heyman said fine.
Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes
Huge pop for Bryan during his entrance. Kane was with him. Sandow was with Rhodes. Very loud "yes" chants from the beginning of this one. Bryan hit his running clothesline to knock down Rhodes. After a whip into the ropes, Bryan dumped Rhodes over the top rope with a back body drop that sent him to the floor. Sandow attacked Kane on the floor. Bryan hit Sandow with a dive to the floor. Rhodes hit a Disaster Kick while they were on the floor with Rhodes jumping off the apron. They went back into the ring where Rhodes hit the Cross Rhodes for the pinfall victory. The match went three minutes.
Winner: Cody Rhodes
Analysis: * Too short for my liking, but good for what it was. The result furthers the ongoing storyline between these two teams. I liked the Beautiful Disaster spot by Rhodes where he leaped off the side of the apron to deliver the move.
Post match, Rhodes bragged about the victory. He said Sandow could beat Kane just as easily as Rhodes defeated Bryan. Kane grabbed Sandow and brought him into the ring. They went to the break with Cole wondering if we'll have this match.
Analysis: Yes we will have this match.
Kane vs. Damien Sandow
The match was underway after the break with Bryan and Rhodes outside the ring to support their partners. Kane was in control early on with a back body drop. JR said Kane would "probably" be in the WWE Hall of Fame. I'm pretty sure it's a definite. Just don't piss off Vince or Hunter, of course. That's always the exception. Sandow got a back elbow, but then Kane decked him with an uppercut punch followed by a big boot to the face. Bryan attacked Rhodes on the floor, which was more interesting than the match because the crowd chanted "yes" at them. The ref ejected Bryan and Rhodes. Kane hit Sandow with clotheslines in the corner followed by a sidewalk slam. Kane hit a top rope clothesline like he's done in basically every match for 15 years. Kane hit a Chokeslam on Sandow for the cover after about five minutes.
Analysis: * It was basically a squash match. Sandow didn't get much offense in.
Next up we'll hear from suspended WWE referee Brad Maddox.
In the ring, Michael Cole introduced suspended WWE referee Brad Maddox. He walked out wearing regular clothes as opposed to referee gear. There was a clip of Maddox delivering the low blow to Ryback at Hell in a Cell, which cost him the WWE Title. Cole asked if Maddox was working with Punk and Heyman.
Maddox said it was all him. It was his plan. He said all he's ever wanted to do was be a WWE Superstar. The crowd chanted "what" at him during the promo. He said he tried to get his foot in the door and for years he was told no. Maddox claims he's been to tryouts, sent tapes and once paid $2,000 for a tryout. Finally he was given a chance with a developmental contract. He complained that he never got a chance because he's 6'0" 207 pounds. The crowd chanted "you can't wrestle" at him. He said even when officials told him he would never make it to the main roster his dream didn't die. He said his dream became stronger. Maddox claims that he made a vow to himself to do whatever it takes to get to WWE. He said CM Punk had nothing to do with it just like Ryback didn't know. The crowd chanted "feed me more" at him while Maddox said everybody knows him everywhere even in England. Maddox said he wanted a contract plus a match with Ryback. Loud "feed me more" chant. He ended the promo by saying "thank you."
Analysis: I thought he did a good job. It's actually true that he has a developmental contract and wrestled there. He got called up as a referee to the main roster. Whether he sticks around as a full time contracted wrestler is another story, but I thought he did well in terms of giving his motives for why he did what he did. It made sense, which is what we want to see in these storylines. Do they have Maddox go over Ryback thanks to some help? It's a way to further the angle. Or they can just have Ryback destroy him to end the story.
Vince McMahon entered the arena. He stood at the top of the ramp. McMahon said Maddox was lying and that Heyman & Punk were involved. He intended to get to the bottom of it. McMahon said he'd give Maddox a million dollar contract if he can beat Ryback on Raw.
McMahon brought out Vickie Guerrero onto the stage. McMahon asked her if she agreed that Punk was involved with what Maddox did. McMahon wondered why she didn't put Punk in a match at Survivor Series and instead put him into this tag match where he could hide behind other men. McMahon suggested Punk have a WWE Title match at Survivor Series. She suggested Dolph Ziggler. Nope. He coaxed her into saying Ryback. Then he said it would be a triple threat match. Vickie didn't want to say "him" and then McMahon said it's the guy that stepped aside for Ryback at Hell in a Cell and wrestled Punk to a draw at Night of Champions. Then she said "John Cena." McMahon congratulated her on the decision.
That made it official. The main event of Survivor Series is now CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. Ryback for the WWE Title.
Analysis: There's a change in plans from last week. Last week's show spent three hours hyping up a Survivor Series match that got changed. That WWE Title match will be a much better PPV draw than the elimination tag match. It will be interesting to see how they book it, of course.
Sheamus entered the arena for his match. They went to break.
The "Did You Know" was WWE bragging about their Facebook pages. It's better than bragging about how Linda McMahon is breaking records by spending money on political campaigns.
After Miz made his entrance for the match, Big Show also entered the arena. He joined the commentary table.
Sheamus vs. The Miz
Sheamus knocked Miz down with a shoulderblock early on. Clothesline by Sheamus got two. Show was yelling Cole at the announce table when Cole mentioned that Sheamus hit Show with the White Noise on Raw next week. Rolling senton by Sheamus. Miz came back with a boot to the face followed by a clothesline. Miz grabbed a headlock while the crowd did dueling chants for both guys because they were disinterested in this match for the first few minutes. Sheamus gave Miz the ten clubbing blows to the chest of Miz while he was on the apron. We need a name for that Sheamus spot. Outside the ring, Sheamus looked at Show and while he did that Miz threw Sheamus into the announce table followed by the ring post. Back in the ring, Miz hit Sheamus with a kick for a two count. Miz had Sheamus in a chinlock as they went to break.
Analysis: Another commercial break without somebody being on the floor? Madness! This company is spiraling out of control. Madness I say!
Back from break, Miz was still in control as he hit his corner clothesline. Double axehandle off the top gets two for Miz. They missed a Miz pinfall attempt because Show was threatening Cole at the announce table, which is always a good time. Sheamus countered a sleeper by falling backwards, so they were down for the double KO spot. Miz hit his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo that Cole called "vintage Miz" because something less than five years old is vintage apparently. Sheamus made the babyface comeback with forearms followed by a shoulderblock and knee lift. Powerslam by Sheamus for two. Battering ram shoulderblock off the top by Sheamus for two. Miz came back with a rollup for two followed by a kick to the knee and then his snap DDT for another two count. Sheamus missed the Brogue Kick. Another kick to the knee by Miz, then he made a charge and Sheamus hit the White Noise on Miz. Crowd was chanting "Brogue" after that. I like this crowd. Brogue Kick finished off Miz after 15 minutes of action.
Analysis: **1/2 For a longer match it was okay, but not great. It didn't reach that level where I would say it was special. Nothing wrong with that. Just saying they're not all going to be great if they get 15 minutes. I don't think anybody believed Miz had a chance to win, which is a bad sign for a former WWE Champion. It's nice when they give more time to these kinds of matches. Obviously Sheamus continues to look strong as they build to the rematch with Big Show at Survivor Series. As for Miz, he's losing quite a bit of late and is stuck in the midcard.
Post match, Show held up the World Title while Sheamus yelled "fella" at him. I was hoping they would add a stipulation to Big Show vs. Miz at Survivor Series. There's still time since there are two episodes of Smackdown and one more Raw before Survivor Series on November 17.
Backstage, Dolph Ziggler was outside Mr. McMahon's office when Vickie Guerrero walked out of the room. She told Ziggler that he's now leading the team that Punk was leading at Survivor Series. So the team picked by CM Punk is now being led by Dolph Ziggler, who wasn't on the original team because as of last week he was probably going to face Cena at Survivor Series. Confused? You're not alone.
CM Punk walked up to Dolph and Vickie. He complained about the cranky old bastard (is that a @CrankyVince shout out?) trying to screw him referencing McMahon. He complained about Ziggler being the captain of his team. Vickie announced the main event of Raw as CM Punk & Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena & Ryback. Punk wondered what was wrong with Vickie. She left with Ziggler.
Analysis: It should be noted that when they announced that match in a backstage segment, the live crowd chanted "Feed Me More" at the announcement.
It took well over an hour, but the announcers went into the hard shill for the main event of Raw as Cena/Ryback vs. Punk/Ziggler. They even had a graphic ready for something just announced. Of course they did.
There was a 30 second commercial for a "new" wrestler named Fandangoo. He said the line: "Do you mind if I…cut in?" It's a dancer gimmick. It belongs to Johnny Curtis. I don't know if this is going to be good or bad, but it's certainly different. I think Curtis is a solid performer who I've watched develop on NXT over the years. But there's definitely a chance this could fail if it's too over the top. It depends how they go with it. (Video)
Backstage, Sheamus bumped into William Regal, who is one of the best British wrestlers ever. Sheamus thanked Regal for his help over the years. Regal asked him if he wanted to go for a pint. Sheamus said sure. Hopefully there's no "video evidence" of them at a bar together.
Speaking of "video evidence" again we saw that clip from earlier when AJ knocked on a hotel room door while she was in a bathrobe. Then we got more clips. I loved the crowd reaction to these clips. I guess it will lead to WWE defending this angle by saying that the crowd is "emotionally invested" in it.
Eve and Aksana entered for their tag match.
Eve & Aksana vs. Layla & Kaitlyn
Here you have four women that got hired through diva searches and model searches. Layla got a quick roll up on Aksana. Then Layla spanked her and did a butt splash to the face. Layla's from England, so the crowd was behind her. Layla's springboard attempt failed, so the heels took control. Aksana whipped Layla into the corner and then Layla took an over the top, dramatic bump out of the corner. That was a bit silly. Eve tagged in to apply her choke hold as well as an elbow to the back. Crowd is dead, so they are trying to entertain themselves. Eve tried to taunt Layla. That led to Layla kicking her away and Kaitlyn got the hot tag to very little reaction. Kaitlyn hit some clotheslines followed by a shoulderblock. Aksana broke up the pin. Eve hit her neckbreaker finisher on Layla, who wasn’t legal. Kaitlyn hit a reverse DDT (aka Scorpion Death Drop) on Eve. That was enough for a pin.
Winners: Layla & Kaitlyn
Post match, I'm reminded again of how awful Kaitlyn's entrance music is.
Analysis: 1/2* Yawn. The divas division is at an all-time low point. The roster is pretty thin at this point and if you choose to use somebody like Aksana while Natalya sits in the back doing nothing you're not using talent the right way. Listen to the crowd, WWE. Or the lack of a crowd reaction. They were making noise for nearly everything on this show, yet when the girls got out there they didn’t care one bit. That should tell you something. It's not the fault of just the women in this match, but the weak "she used my iPad" story they have going on. It's just not working very well.
Backstage, Alberto Del Rio was talking to Ricardo Rodriguez. Ricardo told him that since he's on the team that it's Team Del Rio. Rosa Mendes was walking and she bumped into ADR. She smiled at her. He was walking to the ring for a match against Kofi Kingston.
Analysis: Interesting to see Rosa bump into him. I think it would be a good move to pair her up with him because having an egotistical rich dude with a hot girl on his arm will freshen up his act a bit.
If you're wondering, Del Rio drove into the arena in an Aston Martin. That's a James Bond salute right there. Ross said Del Rio had a hell of a garage all over the world. Good line in reference to WWE saying he owns all these cars yet here he is with one in England. There were clips from Smackdown when Del Rio cost Orton a victory. Then Del Rio had a food fight with Orton that was quite enjoyable mostly for Rodriguez freaking out when he got coffee thrown on him.
On Tuesday on Super Smackdown Live is Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio in a Falls Count Anywhere match. It's not "live" technically since it's being taped in England a few hours earlier, but it's close enough.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston
This is not for Kingston's IC Title of course. Kingston hit a back elbow for two. Kingston went decked Del Rio with an uppercut. Both guys are in the Survivor Series tag match that's always changing. The announcers were talking about the match and it's so confusing. I watch all the shows and it's not easy to follow along. Kingston got a forearm while on the apron, Rodriguez distracted him and then Del Rio shoved Kingston off the apron. Del Rio whipped Kingston into the security wall. Back in the ring, tilt a whirl backbreaker by Del Rio got two. Suplex gets two for Del Rio. Kingston got a roll up for two, so Del Rio decked him with a kick to the face. Del Rio worked over the left arm by Kingston by draping it across the top rope. Del Rio missed a corner charge and hit the ring post with his own left shoulder. Oh the irony. Kingston a dropkick and a clothesline. Kingston hit the Boom Drop to barely a reaction. Wow this crowd is dying. Del Rio avoided the Trouble in Paradise. Kingston hit the SOS for two. Only believable nearfall of the match so far. Crowd reacted to it a bit, but not that much. Kingston missed a springboard cross body attack. Del Rio was ready for his finisher, but Randy Orton's music started up. Orton didn't show up. Kingston got a roll up for the victory after about eight minutes.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Analysis: ** If you read my work regularly you know I really hate the "play the music of another guy while a match is going on" finish that they do far too often. I understand why they did it since Del Rio cost Orton on Smackdown, but it doesn’t mean I like it. They need to stop repeating finishes to matches like this one and also the "heel walks out to lose by countout" finish because they do more harm than good.
After the match, Randy Orton snuck up behind Del Rio and hit the RKO. That drew a huge reaction. It woke the crowd up.
There was a replay of Brad Maddox's speech from earlier with him saying he wants a WWE contract. Then we saw Vince McMahon say he gets a million dollar contract if he can beat Ryback next.
Zack Ryder and Santino entered the ring for their match. I guess they're officially called "Team CoBro" since WWE trademarked that name recently.
A quick plug for The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Go to NYC.gov/fund for more info.
There's some new music for Primo & Epico as they enter the arena along with Rosa.
Team CoBro (Santino & Zack Ryder) vs. Primo & Epico
Santino started with Primo. Funny spot as Primo whipped Santino into the ropes, which led to Santino doing his race walking into the ropes. Arm drag by Santino followed by a tag to Ryder, much to the delight of the fans. Flapjack by Ryder got two. Ryder missed a cross body block, so the heels worked him over in the corner. They took turns working on Ryder while the crowd went quiet again. Ryder got an inside cradle, but Santino was inadvertently distracting the referee. Nice dropkick by Epico for two. Epico prevented a Ryder tag by driving him back into his own corner. Primo did a suplex, but Ryder landed on his feet and hit a neckbreaker for a nice counter. Hot tag to Santino, who hit his arm drag followed by the chop. Ryder came in to hit the Rough Ryder on Primo, who wasn't legal. Santino hit the Cobra Chop on Epico, which was enough for the victory. The match went about five minutes.
Winners: Santino & Zack Ryder
Analysis: *1/2 If Raw was two hours this wouldn't have made the telecast. It was a Superstars-like match, not like there's anything wrong with that. I just don't see the average viewer watching this show and being interested in this match a whole lot. Neither team wins a whole lot. Other teams are well ahead of them on the depth chart. What I'm trying to say is that this was not the definition of "compelling television."
Another reminder of the main event tag match coming up later.
The "did you know" told us that WWE superstars have already competed in Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Japan, Spain, Ecuador, Austria, Russia and the United Kingdom.
My initial thought when I heard Brodus Clay's music: "Oh crap a Brodus Clay match. Isn't it time for the main event yet?" His opponent was Wade Barrett, who got a big ovation from the fans in his home country of England.
Brodus Clay vs. Wade Barrett
Clay got a high knee and then an overhead suplex early followed by a legdrop for two. Barrett came back with a very impressive Bossman Slam to take down Clay. The "bare knuckle fighter" line got used within the first minute. Knees to the face by Barrett. Crowd was strongly behind Barrett. Clay hit Barrett with some clotheslines followed by a headbutt to the chest. Corner splash by Clay. He missed a second corner splash. Kick to the gut by Barrett. Barrett finished off Clay with the Souvenir forearm smash for the victory after about three minutes.
Winner: Wade Barrett
Analysis: * I applaud the decision to not have Brodus Clay work a match longer than five minutes. Three minutes is just about right. I had no problem with this. It was great to hear the crowd react to their countryman like that. It was weird seeing Barrett getting cheered, but it was cool to see as well. Bonus! Here's a video of Wade Barrett addressing the crowd after Raw ended. Thanks to TJR reader Elliott Cantor for providing the video.
One more time there was a reminder that Ryback & Cena vs. Punk & Ziggler is the main event.
Next week on Raw Jerry Lawler returns to the announce table in Columbus, Ohio.
Last week I mentioned Heath Slater needs a new theme song. And we got to hear that song here. He walked out with Jinder Mahal. If you're wondering why Drew McIntyre wasn't at Raw this is from his Twitter account. His mother is ill and he's with her at the moment. All the best to Drew and his mom in this difficult time.
Jey Uso vs. Heath Slater
Jimmy was with Jey of course. Uso started off on offense, but Slater got a boot up and then kicked him in the head. At least the crowd reacts a bit when Slater does his air guitar routine. Slater whipped down Uso by his hair. Hard whip into the corner by Slater. Side kick to the head by Slater for two. This once hot crowd is quiet once again. Uso came back with a sidekick to the head of Slater. To the top, Slater got his knees up to prevent the top rope splash. Slater hit his Smash Hit DDT for the win, which is similar to the Edgecution that Edge used to do. The match went about four minutes.
Winner: Heath Slater
Analysis: * Another match where I was thinking "when is the main event?" It's nice that these guys get time on Raw, but I don't think the audience at home is that invested in them. That's why you're seeing the viewership numbers drop in the third hour every week.
There was an advertisement for the WWE '13 video game. I'm not a gamer anymore, but people are telling me they love it.
Cena & Ryback vs. Punk & Ziggler is finally up next.
The WWE Champion CM Punk made his entrance along with Paul Heyman, who was carrying the WWE Championship. Cole said that next week Punk will have held the WWE Title for 358 days, which ties Diesel for the 9th longest championship reign in the history of that title. What if he loses at a house show? Silly me. That doesn't happen.
Punk grabbed the microphone. He said that two weeks ago he defeated the previously undefeated monster Ryback. Since then people have tried to taint his victory because of what Brad Maddox did. He reminded us that Maddox said he acted alone. He said Team Punk has been demoted to Team Ziggler. As a result of that, Vince McMahon is following a Survivor Series tradition by screwing his most talented performer (that's a 1997 reference). He said at Survivor Series he is getting screwed. He bragged about being champion for 351 days, as he should. He said during those 351 days he's proven that he's better than anybody in the crowd, in the back and worldwide. Bring out Samoa Joe! Okay sorry, I got excited there for a second. He said that at Survivor Series he would celebrate 364 days as WWE Champion. He would continue to prove that he's still the best in the world.
Analsysis: As usual, an excellent promo by the WWE Champion. I'm surprised we didn't see more of him on this show.
Dolph Ziggler entered next by himself. No more Vickie Guerrero with him, which is fine with me. John Cena was next. Ryback got the coveted final entrance. Big ovation for him. Ross said he's never heard Ryback have a conversation with another superstar. So he just eats all day? Don't answer that. Rhetorical question.
They went to commercial before the start of the match.
Back from break, the bell rang to start the match.
Dolph Ziggler & CM Punk vs. John Cena & Ryback
Can I call Ziggler & Punk Team Outstanding? I just did. The fans were chanting for Punk early on as he started with Cena. Ziggler tagged him, Cena gave him an arm drag and Punk quickly tagged back in. Cena missed a charge in the corner, which caused him to hit rib first into the turnbuckle. Ziggler hit Cena with a series of elbows. He followed that up with some sit-ups because he's a show off. Cena got a pin for a two count. Punk tagged with the running knee in the corner that Cole called "vintage" of course. They exchanged holds and then Punk hit a roundhouse kick to the head of Cena. The dueling "Let's Go Cena / Cena Sucks" chant started up. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on Punk, but Punk landed by his corner and Cena was too hurt to cover. Look at Cena selling the offense of his opponents! That's refreshing. Ziggler tagged in and prevented the tag to Ryback. Back elbow by Cena on Ziggler. Rocker Dropper by Ziggler for two. Crowd was chanting "Feed Me More" because they want Ryback, who has yet to be in the match. Punk applied a leglock on Cena's head, which Cena powered out of. Cena couldn't make the tag. Ziggler hit a dropkick for two. Ziggler went to the top for a missile dropkick. Cena moved out of the way, so Ziggler went crashing into the mat.
Ryback received the hot tag from Cena while Punk also tagged in. The crowd was going nuts for Ryback. He hit two clotheslines on Punk followed by a back body drop. Clothesline for Ziggler. Spinebuster for Punk. He whipped Ziggler into the turnbuckle and then gave him a Gorilla Press slam onto Punk. Clothesline sends Ziggler over the top to the floor. Meat Hook Clothesline by Ryback on Punk as the crowd chanted "feed me more" for it. Shellshocked by Ryback finished off CM Punk for the pinfall victory. The match went about 11 minutes.
Winners: John Cena & Ryback
Analysis: **1/2 Good booking for the match with Cena receiving the beatdown for about eight minutes before bringing in Ryback. You knew what team was going over as soon as the match was announced. Even though Punk's been the WWE Champion for nearly a year he's being booked as if he's the underdog in the WWE Title match. Ryback was booked like an absolute monster and the crowd clearly is behind him. He drew one of the biggest reactions on the show.
The announcers made a big deal out of Ryback scoring a pinfall victory on CM Punk. That's what they should be doing.
Post match, Cena stared at Ryback face to face. Ryback led the crowd in a "feed me more" chant. That's how the show ended.
Analysis: What can be said about the new Survivor Series main event? This is what you'd call on the fly booking. They spent last week's show hyping up the Survivor Series elimination tag match that we thought would main event that show, but instead they changed it. Now it's CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. Ryback for the WWE Title. I'm not surprised because I think headlining a PPV with a tag match would have been a mistake like last year. However, what does it tell the audience? It tells us that what you watch one week can change drastically the next week because the lack of the organization in the booking is the main reason why the product is stagnant right now.
The CM Punk vs. Ryback vs. Cena match at Survivor Series makes sense. Punk wrestled Cena to a draw at Night of Champions and he beat Ryback controversially at Hell in a Cell. Both of them deserved another title shot. My question is why couldn't WWE's "creative team" figure this out last Monday instead of that elimination tag match that left a lot of us underwhelmed?
What about that Team Foley vs. Team Punk idea? That happened because of Foley's issues with the way Punk conducts business. Now all of a sudden it's Team Foley vs. Team Ziggler and Foley wasn't even at this show. That means next week on Raw they'll have to create some kind of issue between Foley and Ziggler, which will probably seem forced. They also need a fifth member of Foley's team because Ryback isn't there. And why was Miz replaced on his team? There wasn't much of a reason given other than he didn't like what happened last week on Raw.
The lack of long term planning is very scary right now and it's reflective of the current product. My issues are not with the talent. The roster is good. My concern is with the booking. It's not very consistent. Hopefully once the new year gets here things will get better because that usually happens. I sure hope so.
At least Fandangoo is coming. I'm sure that will fix things.
Three Stars of the Show
2. Ryback - At least he woke the crowd up. I don't blame them for falling asleep.
3. CM Punk
4.5 out of 10
Last week: 4
2012 Average: 5.84
2012 High: 9 (January 30)
2012 Low: 3 (July 9)
Last 5 Weeks: 4, 7.5, 6, 8, 6
It was a below average edition of Raw once again. None of the matches were the kind of contests that you should go out of your way to see if you missed it.
Three hour shows are too damn long. The crowd was hot for hour one. They died during hour two. Things picked up when Orton showed up and when the main event took place. The point is that even hot crowds are dying because these shows are too long.
The crowd wanted Daniel Bryan. He drew one of the biggest reactions of the night. He had a three minute match. I assume he'll get more on Smackdown, but you could tell they were upset that he had such a short match.
That's all for this week. I'm not going to promote a future article. Sometimes I don't have time and I don't want to promote something and then not write it. I have stuff I'm working on, though. I always do.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org
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