Live from Columbus, Ohio this is the Raw Deal for episode #1016. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
There was a brief video package in honor of Veterans Day in the United States. It's also Remembrance day in the United Kingdom and Canada this weekend. John Cena did the voiceover during the video that honored military veterans. "Thank you for your sacrifice and thank you for your service." I agree with that.
The "tonight on Raw" voiceover guy told us what to expect on Raw: The return of Jerry Lawler, the ongoing storyline involving John/AJ/Vickie, the Maddox/Ryback match and CM Punk vs. John Cena one on one.
The music of Randy Orton started the show off. Michael Cole and Jim Ross were at the announce table. I assume Jerry Lawler will come out later. They talked about the Punk vs. Cena main event. Orton's opponent is Dolph Ziggler. I'm a fan of this match. They are both a part of the tag match at Survivor Series.
Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler came out on his own, which is how things have been since Vickie Guerrero was named the Managing Supervisor of Raw. Ziggler ran the ropes and Orton dropped him. Clothesline sent Ziggler to the floor. Slingshot suplex by Orton for two. I've always been a fan of the slingshot suplex. Ziggler came back with a boot to the face followed by a dropkick for two. Neckbreaker by Ziggler followed by a series of elbow drops got another two count. Orton came back with clotheslines and then a spinning powerslam. Orton got his hanging DDT off the ropes. Orton went for the RKO. Alberto Del Rio showed up. He jumped on the apron. Orton prevented an attack. He avoided a Rocker Dropper by Ziggler and Orton rolled up Ziggler for the pinfall victory. Match went about four minutes.
Winner: Randy Orton
Analysis: *1/2 Too short for my liking, but because of what happened immediately it made sense. I think they do that rollup finish far too often. It seems like any time somebody interferes in a match they end with a rollup finish.
Post match, Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler attacked Orton. Ricardo Rodriguez was there too. Kofi Kingston made the save for Orton. The good guys cleared the ring of the bad guys.
Cue Teddy Long even though he's the adviser to Smackdown GM and this is Raw. He said he thinks Vickie was too concerned about the "scandal" between John & AJ, so he's going to do something exciting. Of course he made a tag match playa. Holla holla holla. I think WWE knows we mark out for Teddy Long making tag matches, so thanks to them for appeasing us.
Kofi Kingston & Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler & Alberto Del Rio
Kingston knocked Ziggler to the floor. They went to commercial thirty seconds into the match for the vintage floor to commercial spot.
The heels were working over Kingston. Ziggler wanted a neckbreaker, Kingston turned it into a nearfall and Ziggler hit the best dropkick in the business to the face Kingston for a two count. Ziggler applied a chinlock. Kingston fought out of it. Ziggler missed a charge into the corner, but Kingston moved. Kingston got the hot tag to Orton while Del Rio also tagged in. Orton hit a clothesline followed by a powerslam. Kofi made a blind tag and hit a crossbody block for two. Kingston hit the SOS on Del Rio for two. Ziggler saved Del Rio. Orton clotheslined Ziggler outside the ring. Kingston wanted Trouble in Paradise. Rodriguez distracted him. Del Rio hit his running enziguiri in the corner. That led to the pinfall victory for Del Rio. The match went about 8 minutes.
Winners: Dolph Ziggler & Alberto Del Rio
Analysis: **1/2 That was a very entertaining tag match. If they got about 15 minutes it could have been amazing because they could have told a different story with more action in the ring. Still, it was good for what we got. The chemistry was there. I was fine with the finish because Del Rio's enziguiri looks devastating especially on a guy that doesn't see it coming.
Jerry Lawler returns to Raw later.
Vickie Guerrero was shown walking to the ring.
Back from break, Vickie Guerrero was in the ring with Dolph Ziggler. They reviewed all of the footage between AJ Lee and John Cena. Vickie had a hard time talking because the crowd was booing her so loudly. That is some awesome heel heat. She said he won't be threatened by a "little girl" like AJ. She said she had evidence that AJ can't talk her way out of. Vickie wanted AJ to explain herself. She said it was the last time she would have that chance. I wish it was the "last" of this angle.
AJ Lee entered the ring to a big pop. She was mad that Vickie cost AJ her job. But she's a diva now, so who cares if she's not the GM anymore? She recently said her dream was to be a diva, so that's what she is now. Vickie told AJ to talk because she's her boss. Vickie told AJ to be careful about what she said to her. Vickie said if AJ admits that she had an affair with John Cena then all of this would be taken care of. AJ said: "Okay. I admit it." She continued. "John Cena and I are…just friends. Nothing inappropriate has ever happened between the two of us." AJ said this isn't about her and Cena. It's about how Vince McMahon chose AJ to be GM of Raw on the 1000th episode of Raw. AJ said Vickie can't stand that AJ embarrassed her and if she wanted to she could do it again. AJ made a fat joke: "You're throwing your weight around and that weight is pretty considerable." Be a star, WWE.
Vickie introduced us to some interesting voicemails. It was AJ leaving a message to Cena saying "what happened last night was a mistake. I'm sorry John." AJ denied leaving that voicemail. They played another message: "We have to stop doing this. When I see you I lose control." It was AJ's voice both times. Vickie played one more voicemail that was AJ's voice: "I want to be very clear about this. You drive me crazy. We should be together." AJ threatened Vickie again. AJ said they were not real. Ziggler cut her off. He said we all know something happened and now "you can't see him." She asked what was more satisfying - the fact that John won't talk to her or all of the nights in his hotel room.
John Cena's music started up. AJ slapped Ziggler in the face. Cena knocked Ziggler down with one punch. Guerrero and Ziggler left. Cena and AJ talked about it in the ring.
Analysis: So much for the "end" of this angle. I wish it was the end. The story goes that AJ claims that she didn't leave any of those messages. If you believe her then you think Vickie is a liar. If you don't believe her then you think AJ hooked up with John Cena, which we're supposed to think is a bad thing. She already got fired as GM. She said her dream was to be a WWE diva. She is that. So why should we care about AJ no longer being GM? That's my issue with this angle. The point of it is lost. If AJ was still GM then I would understand, but since she's not then why should anybody be emotionally invested in what happens?
Coming up later is CM Punk vs. John Cena in a non-title match. Big Show will be in action after the break.
In honor of Veterans Day they aired a video saluting the troops.
Backstage, AJ Lee questioned what happened. John Cena was there to console her. He said he didn't like that they were making his life miserable. Cena said a line about how it was something that never would happen. She replied: "Would happen?" Then he clarified it didn't happen.
Analysis: So she likes him. Maybe they are lying. But I don't know why we're supposed to care either way. That's the problem with this storyline. That's a problem and the other problem is that this damn storyline is not over yet.
There was a replay of the bar room fight that they showed on Smackdown last week when Big Show beat up William Regal and Sheamus.
Big Show vs. William Regal
Show used his power early on by hitting Regal with punches in the ribs as well as a couple of hard chops to the chest of Regal. When Regal hit Show with a forearm, Show no sold it and then gave Regal a body slam. Show missed an elbow drop. Regal fired back with fists and an uppercut. Show caught him with one hand and hit the Chokeslam for the win. The match went about two minutes.
Winner: Big Show
Analysis: Just a squash match to put over the World Heavyweight Champion. Regal didn't get much offense in. It's how I would have booked that segment too.
Post match, Show wanted to hit Regal with the KO Punch. Sheamus ran in for the save. Show missed a punch on Sheamus. Sheamus took down Show with a double leg takedown and he threw punches to the head of Show.
Analysis: That's typical of the build we usually see on a Raw before a PPV. I'm sure there will be more between them on Smackdown as well.
Eve was on commentary for the divas match.
Layla vs. Kaitlyn
The winner of this gets a title shot against Eve at Survivor Series. Again? Ugh. Layla hit a facebuster for two. As usual the crowd is dead for this divas match. Layla hit a kick to the chest. Layla went for a springboard attack of the ropes. Kaitlyn caught her in her arms. Kaitlyn hit her reverse DDT finisher for the win. The match got less than one minute.
Post match, Kaitlyn stared at Eve. That's all.
Analysis: Three hours of Raw and they don't even let the women get more than one minute of in-ring time. The divas division is at an all-time low point right now. No wonder nobody cares about these women. It's like management is admitting they don't have faith in them, so they refuse to give them more time to actually get their characters over.
There was a video package showing what happened to Jerry Lawler nine weeks ago when he suffered a heart attack during Raw in Montreal. He's up at the top of hour two.
The "did you know" bragged about WWE '13 video game being the #1 sports video game out there right now. That's good to brag about.
Michael Cole and Jim Ross were standing in the ring. Ross introduced Jerry Lawler, who got a standing ovation. That's amazing considering what happened nine weeks ago. It's one of those things where you learn to appreciate who we get to watch on this show every week. Lawler's been a part of Raw for nearly all of its 20 years and seeing him walk out there one more time was amazing to see. Ross handed Lawler the microphone as Jerry stood in the ring by himself to soak in the cheers of the fans.
Jerry Lawler spoke. His voice sounded normal. He looked normal. He thanked the fans. He said there was a time when he thought he would never step in a ring again, so for this to happen is beyond words for him. He referenced the Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life" and said that his near death experience made him realize how much is family, friends and fans cared about him. He thanked the fans. He said it's great to be back.
The music of CM Punk started up. The WWE Champion walked to the ring along with Paul Heyman, who was holding the WWE Title. Lawler left the ring when Punk's music started. Cole was complaining about Punk ruining Lawler's moment.
Analysis: Good spot to have Punk come out right after Lawler's speech. That was a great moment with Lawler in the ring. I thought it was well done.
Punk looked at Lawler, who was standing by the announce table. Punk said he's glad Lawler left the ring because he would have beaten him to death…again. Wow. They're pushing that envelope right away. The crowd hated Punk for that a lot. Punk said Lawler's behavior was disrespectful because a 62 year old man like Lawler shouldn't think he can go toe to toe with the WWE Champion. Punk blamed the fans for saying that he did that to Lawler when the fault should go only go to Lawler himself. He said shame on Lawler for trying to steal the spotlight with his heart attack stunt. He didn't care about the number of minutes that Jerry Lawler was dead for. He only cared about the number 358 - the number of days he's been the WWE Champion. He said in one week's time it will be 365 days - one week strong. He said he'll beat Cena and Ryback like he has before. He said from the bottom of his heart he's glad Lawler is back, but try not to croak before the PPV. Lawler said the only thing on life support is Punk's run as WWE Champion.
At that moment, Heyman faked a heart attack. Punk made the "X" hand signal and he ended up saving Heyman's life. Of course it was fake. Then Heyman pointed at Lawler and laughed. The music of Mick Foley started up.
Analysis: I'm guessing that segment is going to piss a lot of people off. Of course WWE can say it saying they were just heels acting that way for storyline purposes, but they really pushed that angle by poking fun at Lawler's heart attack. Lawler's a veteran of the wrestling business for 40 years and he's been a part of WWE for 20 years, so I'm sure he was aware of the angle. At least I would hope so. A few years ago they had Cole insult his dead mother as part of an angle too. I can see why some people would be upset by it. I thought it was a smart way to get heel heat. I wouldn't have done it that way, especially with the fake heart attack, but I can see why they did. It drew a lot of heat. In that sense it worked.
The problem with mocking something as serious as a heart attack is that if something as tragic as that happens again on a wrestling show (and let's hope it never does) then maybe some fans won't believe it to be real. That's why there are concerns when you make a mockery out of incidents as serious as a guy having a heart attack on live television.
Did the segment bother me personally? No. I get it. They likely got Lawler's okay to do it. I wouldn't have done it if I was booking it, but pushing the envelope is always something Vince McMahon has thrived on. Or at least he used to do it a lot more. The most important thing is that Jerry's back and we should celebrate that. Don't let a heel getting heat get you worked up too much. It's a wrestling angle.
Now back to the show!
Mick Foley said Lawler commands respect. Punk said he deserves respect because he saved Heyman's life. Punk wondered why Foley is there as they went over the Survivor Series that they are no longer involved in together. Foley said he's not picking the final member of Team Foley. The WWE Universe is picking the fifth team member. Punk said Foley shouldn't care what the fans think. He also said Foley should change his team name to Team Worthless. Foley yelled: "Jerry Lawler was dead!" Then he yelled in Punk's face. It was angry Foley as he complained about how the Survivor Series team changed. Foley said he realized all Punk really cares about is his WWE Championship. Foley thinks Cena and Ryback are going to take away Punk's WWE Title. Punk said he can't learn anything from Foley because he has no desire to jump off a roof (like Foley did). Punk said none of this involves Foley at all. Foley announced that during Punk's match against Cena later on Raw, Foley would be the special enforcer.
Analysis: This was done to summarize all the changes they did last week on Raw as it relates to Survivor Series on Sunday. Then they added the bit at the end with Foley saying he would be the special enforcer during the main event.
Later tonight we'll know the choices for the final member of Team Foley at Survivor Series.
Backstage, Brad Maddox was shown warming up for his match against Ryback later.
Eight man tag match is up next.
(This is around the time when my computer issues occurred. Took about eight hours for internet to work again, so the rest of this column is going to be condensed as a result of that.)
Backstage, CM Punk talked to Paul Heyman. Punk was complaining about the situation. He told Heyman to fix it. "Just fix it."
Analysis: This has been a weekly segment where Punk complains to Heyman about something.
Before the tag match, Lawler said that he's only been back for a few minutes and he's already sick of Cole. It was a joke. I still laughed. Welcome back, King!
Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel vs. Titus O'Neil, Darren Young, Primo & Epico w/Rosa
I'm a big fan of the babyface team. I like the heels too. There was some action before the break, but then all eight guys faced off and that led to a commercial.
This was a fast paced match that saw the heels work over Mysterio, he got the hot tag and then the babyface team took turns hitting high risk offense, which is what all of them are about. The finish saw Mysterio take out O'Neil with a dive, Sin Cara take out Epico with a dive and then eventually Gabriel pinned Young (Nexus revenge?) after his 450 splash. The match got about 11 minutes.
Winners: Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel
Analysis: *** The babyface team has a ridiculous amount of athleticism and I'm glad they were able to show it off in this entertaining tag match. I loved everything about it from the time given to the finishing sequence that led to the babyface victory. Most of all, I liked that it happened on Raw because every episode of Raw needs an entertaining tag match like this every week. The announcers did a good job of putting over the tag division as well. You can see how much the tag division has improved over the past six months or so. We just need to get back to seeing Kidd & Gabriel teaming together on a regular basis on Raw and Smackdown. They have so much potential.
There was a video highlighting WWE's partnership with the National Guard. Then they showed some members of the Ohio National Guard in the crowd.
Backstage, Brad Maddox was getting ready for his match. Paul Heyman walked up to him, which is supposed to make people think something fishy was going to happen.
There was a video of Fandago (Johnny Curtis) dancing with a woman. The video clearly showed it was Curtis in case you're wondering. He said: "Mind if I cut in?" Then it said: "Fandago." Last week it was Fandagoo, which was silly. I think it will stay as Fandago.
Backstage, Dolph Ziggler was talking trash to The Miz. They were bragging about their accomplishments. Mick Foley showed up. This led to a tag match that would see Team Rhodes Scholars team up against a team of Mick's choosing, which was Kane and the fifth member of his team as determined by the fans. Foley threw in an Amy Schumer reference. She dated Ziggler and is a comedian friend of Foley. Miz asked Foley to put him as one of the choices for the team at Survivor Series. Miz said it would be awesome to beat Team Ziggler, so Foley put him on the ballot.
Analysis: It's nice to see them try to build up a rivalry between Foley and Ziggler. They didn't play it off like Miz is a babyface or anything like that. But that's where this is headed.
Vote for the last guy in Team Foley on Twitter. You can pick Santino, Zack Ryder or The Miz.
Tensai vs. R-Truth
The US Champion Antonio Cesaro was on commentary. It was a short match. Truth won with the Little Jimmy after about two minutes of what some would call "action" when in fact it was pretty boring.
Analysis: * It was essentially a squash match to put over R-Truth heading into the US Title match on Sunday. Truth won't win the match on Sunday, but they're trying to tell you that he has a shot. As for Tensai, he's fallen a long way from when he was pinning guys like CM Punk and John Cena earlier this year.
Brad Maddox was walking backstage for his big opportunity.
Recap of stuff from earlier in the show.
Brad Maddox entered the arena. He had no music. An ambulance showed up, which we assumed was for Maddox after the match was over. That's kind of them.
Ryback vs. Brad Maddox
They brought out EMT's before the match to take Maddox away after it was over. That's so sweet. It was a physical assault by the man that likes to eat and Maddox barely got any offense in. The three powerbombs by Ryback looked very stiff. Ryback finished him off with the clothesline and then the Shellshocked for the win. It was a five minute squash.
Analysis: Not a match. More like a beating. Some of those bumps that Maddox took looked pretty painful. I guess the message here is that you should never cross Ryback or else he's going to destroy you. At times it almost felt like Ryback was the heel bully giving the beatdown rather than the babyface that was angry. The crowd bought into it, though, so that's a good sign.
After the match was over, Ryback carried Maddox towards the ambulance. He slammed him into the ambulance door. Then he put Maddox into the ambulance.
Analysis: The crowd enjoyed all of this. It was fun. You can't deny the popularity of Ryback. It's legit.
More plugs for stuff coming up later.
More recaps of stuff that just happened.
Sheamus vs. David Otunga
It feels like we've seen this many times and the result was the same. Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick for the win after about three minutes.
Analysis: Another squash win on a show full of them.
Post match, Big Show attacked William Regal backstage. After taunting Sheamus, Show gave Regal the big KO Punch. That led to Sheamus running backstage to save his damsel (or dude) in distress.
Analysis: They've used Regal to add heat to this story. I'm not sure if it was needed, but I'm okay with it. Regal's a good performer and can fill a role as a veteran performer that younger guys look up to.
Back at the trainer's room, Josh Mathews told us that William Regal may have a concussion and his jaw might be broken too. I'm sure his jaw will be fine for the NXT tapings on Thursday. Regal's commentary on that show is excellent.
There was a video plugging WoundedWarriorProject.org. Good cause.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan caught up to Kane who was walking away from a room that had a red light on it. Bryan was upset that Kane had a new partner. Kane said they had a new teammate. Bryan said he would have refused teaming with somebody else. Bryan was all sad that Kane was teaming with Miz. Then Bryan rambled on, so Kane left much to the dismay of Bryan.
Analysis: A comedy segment that was only mildly amusing. Not as funny as the writers probably thought.
Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow) vs. Kane & The Miz w/Daniel Bryan
Bryan was sitting in a chair beside the commentary table. I enjoy Bryan much more when he's in the ring. The crowd was chanting "Miz is awesome" which is either a sign that his babyface turn is working or they are rooting for a guy from their home state of Ohio. Miz gave Rhodes a back drop over the top rope to the floor. Bryan wasn't happy that Miz was in this match. Nice Disaster Kick by Rhodes, which led to Team Rhodes Scholars taking control. Kane received the hot tag. He dropped Rhodes with a sidewalk slam for two. That led to the top rope clothesline by Kane. Bryan was celebrating the move at ringside. Kane knocked Sandow out of the ring with a clothesline. Miz threw Rhodes into Bryan for some reason. Then Rhodes received a Chokeslam from Kane, which led to the finish of the match. It went six minutes.
Winners: Kane & The Miz
Analysis: ** They've spent all these months building up Rhodes and Sandow as a legitimate tag team that is probably going to win the tag titles only to have them lose to a team that was put together at random. That's the problem with WWE booking. Nobody gets over in the midcard when a team you want to push loses to two guys who aren't really a team.
Post match, Kane & Miz were happy about their win. Daniel Bryan celebrated with them although he was arguing with Miz. So the idea is that he's mad that Miz got to team with Kane instead of him. In other words, more people acting childish on WWE television.
There was a commercial for Tribute to the Troops in Norfolk, Virginia. It's on in December. Flo Rida and Kid Rock are performing.
Analysis: Are we sure the Flo Rida song "Whistle" is PG considering what he's really talking about? Maybe Vince doesn't know. He's old.
The main eventers made their entrances. We'll go play by play for this one.
CM Punk w/Paul Heyman vs. John Cena with Mick Foley as Special Enforcer
This is non-title of course. Not a lot happened in the first minute. They went to break with Punk outside the ring.
Back from break, Punk hit Cena with a double axehandle to the head while they were on the floor. Back in the ring, Cena got a backslide for two. Punk hit a clothesline. Punk worked over the neck of Cena with a sleeper. Cole got excited about it because it's like 1987 in today's WWE and we're supposed to take the sleeper as a move that could end a match. They did a dueling punch exchange that the crowd was invested in. Cena charged back with running shoulderblocks followed by the spinning suplex. Punk countered the Five Knuckle Shuffle with a rollup for two. Then Punk got a neckbreaker for two. Punk hit his running knee in the corner on Cena. Top rope elbow missed for Punk because Cena moved out of the way. Cena missed the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena went back to the suplex and then he hit the FKS. Punk countered out of the Attitude Adjustment and dropped Cena with kicks to the stomach. Cena got to the ropes to break the Anaconda Vice submission that Punk applied.
Punk went for the springboard clothesline. Cena moved out of the way and applied the STF. Paul Heyman went into the ring. Cena got out of the hold and Mick Foley pulled Heyman out of the ring. Punk hit Cena with a roundhouse kick to the head. Punk went for the GTS, but Cena countered it into the STF. Punk made it to the ropes. Punk crawled up the aisle. The fans were booing. Ryback made his way down the aisle. His music didn't play. See? You don't need to play the music. Cena rolled Punk back in. Punk went for GTS, Cena powered out and hit the Attitude Adjustment to win the match. The match went 14 minutes.
Winner: John Cena
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good match as usual with these two. A lot of their other singles matches, most recently at Night of Champions, got much more time than this so they had to rush things a bit at the end. What I love about their matches is the chemistry they have. When they counter moves they look flawless doing it. They've wrestled so many times that they know each other's moves so well.
Post match, Ryback went into the ring. Punk was out of the ring. Cena and Ryback stared at the WWE Title that was on the mat. They each picked it up at the same time. Punk reached for it. They stared at Punk as the show came to a close.
Analysis: From a booking standpoint, it was predictable of course. Lose on TV. Win on PPV. That's what I always say on the "go home" show before a PPV. Punk lost to Ryback last week and to Cena this week. The idea is that they have his number and it will be difficult for him to retain his WWE Title. Of course if you know anything about wrestling booking you know he's likely going to escape as the champion due in large part to the big match that's looming at the Royal Rumble against some guy named The Rock.
If you're looking at it from the perspective of who is a threat to win then Punk is the underdog against Cena and Ryback. It fits his storyline of feeling like others are disrespecting him, so he has a legitimate gripe in this case.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Jerry Lawler - Welcome back.
2. CM Punk
3. John Cena - For the match. Not the angle.
6 out of 10
Last week: 4.5
2012 Average: 5.84
2012 High: 9 (January 30)
2012 Low: 3 (July 9)
Last 5 Weeks: 4.5, 4, 7.5, 6, 8
I gave it a solid rating of 6 out of 10. I liked the main event and the eight man tag a lot. I'm not a fan of all the squash matches they do.
As for the Punk/Lawler/Heyman angle, I'm sure it pissed some people off. I'm of the opinion that they are just characters on a television show and you shouldn't take it seriously. But I know not everybody feels that way, so I can understand why some fans might have concerns with what they did here.
It was great hearing Lawler again. I missed him.
That's all for this week. I'll be back on Saturday for the Survivor Series PPV preview. I might have something for Thursday too.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org
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