Live from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma this is the Raw Deal for episode #1071. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
Raw began with the great CM Punk entering the ring for a promo. Big ovation like usual. Punk said he thinks that The Shield attacked him last week because he criticized Triple H. He claimed to hope he was wrong and he said he wanted nothing to do with The Authority. He called The Authority sorry, ignorant, stupid, douchebags that he has ever come across. Stephanie McMahon's music started up.
Stephanie did a promo from the top of the ramp and said her family were big advocates for free speech. She cited Triple H as a founding father of DX. She said she was upset like Punk was when The Shield attacked him. Punk didn't believe that. She mentioned the contract signing for Orton vs. Cena later as more important things. She brought out the Director of Operations, Kane.
Kane, rocking the suit, stood by Stephanie on the ramp. His tie is purple rather than the usual red. He said The Authority had nothing to do with The Shield's attack, so the issue is resolved. Punk wondered when Kane became the big red asskisser. Good line. Kane said they weren't the enemy and Punk shouldn't go down this path. Punk challenged Kane to a fight, but Stephanie kept Kane from going to the ring.
The Shield's music started up as they made their entrance through the crowd. Stephanie told The Shield to stop and that Punk is to be respected as well as admired. She left. Kane booked Punk into a 1 on 3 handicap match against The Shield at TLC. That ended the segment.
Analysis: They sure love handicap matches in WWE of late, don't they? I don't get the fascination of it. I realize it's done to get sympathy for the babyface wrestlers, but I think there are other ways to do it rather than doing handicap matches nearly every week. The promos were fine because it allowed for Kane to talk like a management type to get heat. They need to give him more promo time to get this character over, but there are so many management people in WWE that it's hard to find time for him.
The announcers for the show are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield. They mentioned the contract signing. Lawler said there's never been anything done before in terms of unifying the title. I guess Chris Jericho winning the Undisputed Championship 12 years ago doesn't count. There's some WWE App vote to name the new champion that I'm sure they will plug 20 times.
Next Monday are the Slammy Awards. Superstar of the Year is one of the awards. Slammy Awards is usually one of the worst shows of the years. Trust me I write about it every year and I remember.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow
Big E Langston was on commentary because the winner of this match gets an Intercontinental Title match at TLC. Sandow was able to gain control with a Russian legsweep as well as the Elbow of Disdain. Sandow missed a moonsault leading to a Ziggler DDT for two. Ziggler hit a Fameasser for two. Langston said he's friends with Ziggler again. Sandow knocked Ziggler off the top rope and gave him the You're Welcome Full Nelson Slam leading to the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Damien Sandow
Analysis: *1/2 It was much shorter than the two gimmick matches they had in the last two weeks. I'm surprised they didn't get ten minutes. Sandow gets the IC Title shot against Langston at TLC in less than two weeks. I don't think he's going to win. Langston will likely have a long reign as IC Champion.
More hype for Cena/Orton by listing their credentials on the screen.
AJ Lee, Tamina & Summer Rae vs. Natalya, Nikki & Brie Bella
AJ was skipping around the ring as Tamina faced off with Nikki to start. Brie hit a dropkick as well as a running knee, but Tamina came back with a headbutt while AJ continued to skip around the ring. Brie and Summer had a sloppy pinfall exchange that didn't look good. Natalya got the hot tag from Brie. She missed a corner charge on Natalya while AJ finally tagged in. Natalya blocked a kick and Tamina saved AJ. The Bellas took out Tamina with a dropkick. Natalya gave AJ an inside cradle that was enough to win. It went about five minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Natalya, Nikki & Brie Bella
Post match, AJ continued to skip around the ring.
Analysis: * I'm not sure how many times Natalya has pinned or made AJ submit in the past month, but it's been a few times at least. It was odd to see AJ not care about the match or the loss. Perhaps that's their way of showing how confident she is. It would be nice if she cared more about losing because wins and losses are supposed to matter. Some of the Brie/Summer spots in the match were bad, but otherwise it was fine.
Daniel Bryan vs. Erick Rowan coming up later.
Another Slammy Award category is "Extreme Moment of the Year." Hopefully Ariane going to the gynecologist on Total Divas is not a nominee for that.
Wade Barrett was introduced as "Bad News Barrett" as he spoke using a microphone on a podium that was set up by the announce table. He said the good news was they were live on Raw, but the bad news was they were in a city like Oklahoma City, which he insulted. That ended that segment.
Analysis: That's all the creative team can think of? Weak.
Randy Orton spoke to Brad Maddox backstage. He said his name was more respected than anybody else. Orton told Maddox to tell The Authority that he's the greatest and bigger than the WWE itself. Maddox looked confused while saying nothing.
The WWE App vote is to call the new Champion one of the following: The Unified Champion, The Undisputed WWE Champion or The Undisputed World Champion. I don't care.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance for a match after the break.
Another Slammy category is "Insult of the Year." Can the booking of the WWE Title over the last three months win that? It insulted me.
Daniel Bryan vs. Erick Rowan (w/ Luke Harper)
Usually Harper gets to have the singles matches. Good opportunity for Rowan. The announcers said Bryan was left alone in a parking lot after Raw last week. The announcers were arguing about some Bray Wyatt tweet while Rowan used his power to control the action. Rowan dumped Bryan outside the ring. Rowan threw Bryan into the security wall as they went to break in the vintage floor to commercial spot.
Back from break, Rowan was still in control with a body slam. Big clothesline by Rowan. Bryan made the comeback with a corner dropkick, but Rowan hit an elbow to the jaw. Fallaway slam by Rowan while JBL was saying that Bryan will join the Wyatt Family. Rowan missed the splash, Bryan knocked him out of the ring, knocked Harper off the apron and hit the Flying Goat dive to take out Rowan outside the ring. Bryan hit the missile dropkick, a series of kicks and then Rowan hit a big boot to the face. Rowan went for a press slam, but Bryan slipped out and rolled him up for the win after 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Daniel Bryan
Analysis: **1/2 Bryan's awesome at putting on entertaining matches with bigger wrestlers. Rowan held his own in the sense that his offense looked great the whole way, but he fell victim to that awesome Bryan comeback and the rollup counter by Bryan.
Post match, the lights went out as Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen to talk to Bryan. Wyatt said he understood Bryan, but "they" look at Bryan like a circus clown for their amusement. He sees the monster in Bryan. Together they can bring the machine to its knees. "Open your eyes."
Analysis: Very good promo by Wyatt like usual. Obviously the idea is he wants Bryan to join the Wyatt Family.
Backstage, Bryan bumped into Kane, his former tag partner. Kane booked Bryan in a handicap match at TLC against all three members of the Wyatt Family. Kane sarcastically did the "yes" chants as he left.
Analysis: There's another handicap match at TLC. I don't know that many fans that want to pay $50 to see handicap matches as the 2nd and 3rd biggest matches on a PPV.
Brodus Clay & Tensai aka Tons of Funk (w/Naomi & Cameron) vs. R-Truth & Xavier Woods
Clay's mad that his girls danced with Woods last week. Cole said Clay had charisma while the crowd completely died, which shows that was an inaccurate statement. This crowd went to sleep as Clay was on offense against Truth, who brought in Woods. Woods hit a forearm on Clay, then his Honor Roll clothesline. Headbutt by Clay followed by an overhead suplex. Clay missed a splash, so Woods capitalized with a cradle for the win after four minutes. Clay was really mad about it.
Winners by pinfall: R-Truth & Xavier Woods
Analysis: * The crowd didn't care about this at all. Not much of a reaction for anything they did in there. Looks like Clay is turning heel. I'm not sure if anybody would even care at this point. At least the new team of Truth & Woods got a win.
More WWE App vote blah blah blah and Shield vs. Cody, Goldust & Big Show later.
There's a Double Cross of the Year Slammy category next week. I assume Triple H costing Bryan at SummerSlam will win that one.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara
Sin Cara has a tattoo on his right shoulder, which tells us that it's Hunico in the mask. Apparently the real Sin Cara was in Mexico during Raw. Doing what? I don't know. The stupid Sin Cara lights were on for the match. Moonsault outside the ring by Sin Cara. Del Rio had control briefly, but Sin Cara came back with a headbutt off the ropes and a cross body block. German Suplex by Del Rio for two. He wanted the Cross Armbrearker, but Sin Cara fought it off and hit the Senton off the top for the pinfall win at around five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sin Cara
Analysis: *1/2 Del Rio went from World Title matches to losing to a guy barely on TV in under five minutes. Perhaps the lights distracted him. I think it's funny (or sad) that they had Sin Cara out there with this tattoo and there was no mention of it at all. Then when the real Sin Cara comes back there won't be the tattoo, but they just assume the audience is stupid. Here's a recent pic of Hunico with the tattoo. He didn't have it two years ago when he was portraying Sin Cara.
Clip of Orton putting Cena's dad from six years ago.
PLUG TIME - I am happy to announce that I'm writing exclusive columns for WhatCulture.com and I started on Monday. If you're a fan of my work, please read it, tweet it, share it and support the site. They're a growing wrestling section with a nice stable of writers that I'm proud to be a part of. My first post focused on ten reasons to be a fan of wrestling in general and what I like about it. Writing there won't mean I'll be writing less columns here. I will make time for everything that I usually do. When you're a writer you try to reach as many people as you can and this allows me to do that. I'll have a Daniel Bryan related column on there on Wednesday most likely.
I should mention that they announced AJ Lee vs. Natalya for the Divas Title at TLC. Good. Give them 10 minutes. It could be the best WWE Women's match of the year.
Backstage, the lovely Renee Young interviewed World Champion John Cena. He spoke about the history of both the World Title and the WWE Title. Cena said it's time for change, so there should only be one champion. Cena said it would mean everything to him to be that champion.
The Shield did a promo backstage talking trash about CM Punk. They said Punk had no chance against the three of them at TLC.
Cody Rhodes, Goldust & Big Show made their entrance for the six man tag. No more concussion symptoms for Show anymore. Good for him. My head still hurts from that stupid "Big Show is broke" storyline that made little sense.
There's a "This is Awesome" Moment of the Year Slammy award category. Find out next Monday.
Cody Rhodes, Goldust & Big Show vs. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns
Big Show hit some huge chops on Ambrose early on, so the crowd woke up after that Tons of Funk tag match. There was a big crowd reaction as Reigns faced off with Show, which shows the crowd realizes Reigns is a big deal. Goldust tagged in and CM Punk was watching the match on a monitor backstage because he's facing The Shield at TLC. Cody got a two count on Rollins after a front suplex. Plenty of quick tags to get everybody in the ring. Cody hit a nice moonsault on Ambrose for a two count. Ambrose drove Cody's arm into the post and they went to break there.
Back from break, Rollins had Cody isolated in their corner. Cody wanted a Disaster Kick, but Reigns took him down with a punch. The Shield made quick tags to keep Cody in their corner until Cody was able to create some space with a missile dropkick. Hot tag to Big Show, who gave Reigns clotheslines, a back body drop, a corner splash and then Ambrose pulled down the top rope to send Show outside the ring. Back in the ring, Rollins hit a flying knee to the head of Show. The Shield worked over Show in their corner as Reigns hit a leaping clothesline for two. Back suplex by Show and then a Chokeslam to Reigns led to him making the hot tag to Goldust. Goldust was on fire and even hit a hurricanrana off the middle rope! Wow. That was sweet. He got a nearfall, but Ambrose broke it up. Ambrose ran the ropes, but Show pulled the apron down for some payback. Powerslam by Goldust on Rollins. Outside the ring, Reigns hit a Spear on Show out of nowhere. Cody hit a cross body block off the top onto Reigns outside the ring. Superplex by Goldust on Ambrose as Rollins was underneath, but Rollins rolled out of the way. Rollins rolled up Goldust for the win after 20 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns
Analysis: ***1/4 A 20 minute six man tag involving The Shield? Those are always good. We haven't really seen Big Show against them, so that's a new dynamic. I liked some of the spots he did with them. There were two sequences with the babyfaces in peril leading to the hot tag and strong finish. I'm actually surprised Reigns didn't get the pin since they're pushing him a lot, but he did have the big spot in the match with that Spear on Show outside the ring.
By the way, that was the fourth match during the show that ended on a cradle or rollup. I wonder if the agents go over all the match finishes or maybe it was a theme to have so many similar finishes. Somebody has a rollup fetish. I don't know.
We'll hear from Punk next and then we got a clip of Orton/Cena at Breaking Point 2009.
There's a Total Diva of the Year Slammy Award next week. Apparently they felt the need to add the word "Total" to it to promote the show. I assume John Cena isn't eligible even though he seems like the star of that show.
Backstage, CM Punk was interviewed by Renee Young. Punk said he was overjoyed about the 3 on 1 handicap match. He sang: "I feel pretty, oh so pretty, I feel pretty, witty and gay." He got all serious and said he knew he was going down. The question is, how many of The Shield is he taking with him.
Analysis: The song was definitely unexpected. That line is from West Side Story. Maybe he took a drama class in his life to impress a chick. I've been there, buddy. Good serious tone to end it.
More from Bad News Barrett at ringside with some bad news. He insulted America by saying they were constipated after eating too much at Thanksgiving.
Analysis: I have some bad news. Raw's writing isn't very good if that's the best they can do. Wade should have turned to Lawler and said: "Constipation is bad, but it's not as bad as anal bleeding. Right Jerry?"
Backstage, The Miz and Kofi Kingston shook hands prior to a tag match. More WWE App blah blah blah stuff.
Curtis Axel & Ryback vs. Kofi Kingston & The Miz
The heels isolated Miz in their corner with Ryback hitting a body slam as well as a splash. That time Ryback hit a splash with his legs extended. That's how you have to do it. He did it landing on his knees too much and it didn't look as good. Miz made the hot tag. Ryback went to punch Kingston, but he moved and Ryback decked Miz. Clothesline by Ryback on Kingston while he was on the apron. Shellshock by Ryback. Kingston barely got any offense after the hot tag. It went six minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Curtis Axel & Ryback
Post match, Miz helped up Kingston and slapped him. He left the ring.
Analysis: *1/2 The Kofi/Miz feud that nobody cares about looks like it is continuing. Maybe they can have a Kickoff Match since that's all that Miz seems to do. I hope it leads to Miz fully becoming a heel. The announcers talked about how Ryback and Axel did great as a team, so we might see them team up more. They're definitely pushing the tag division more.
Los Matadores and El Torito did the WWE Shop shilling backstage.
Video showed us that last Monday's Raw ended with Orton knocking out Cena with the WWE Championship. Contract signing up later.
The "LOL Moment of the Year" is a Slammy category as well. Cole bragged about winning that one before.
Mark Henry vs. Fandango (w/Summer Rae)
Two segments for Summer Rae. Good for her. Henry hit a body slam that Fandango sold like Shawn Michaels after bumping around for 30 minutes. It was a bit excessive. Henry danced in front of Summer, who was insulted. Fandango got some offense with a dropkick to the knee. Cross body block by Fandango earned a two count. Henry hit a couple of clotheslines and the World's Strongest Slam to win the match after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Mark Henry
Analysis: * It was an obvious squash win for the bigger guy as expected. I think Henry was supposed to catch Fandango on the cross body block and hit his finisher, but I don't know. It's not a big deal.
There was a video package of Titus O'Neil puking on Smackdown last week after he ate too much for Thanksgiving and he fell victim to the Cesaro Swing. Oh WWE and your crazy sports entertaining.
This Friday on Smackdown it's CM Punk vs. one of the members of The Shield, but we don't know who yet. I vote for Rollins. What do you mean I can't vote on it? Jerks.
Prime Time Players (Titus O'Neil & Darren Young) vs. The Real Americans (Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger) w/Zeb Colter
Colter called them the Prime Time Pukers. Fallaway slam by O'Neil on Swagger. The heels managed to isolate O'Neil in their corner with Swagger hitting a clothesline outside the ring. Cesaro hit a gutwrench suplex as O'Neil looked sick again. Swagger tagged in and Cesaro was brought in again, so he gave O'Neil the Cesaro Swing again. He did about ten revolutions until Colter stopped it. O'Neil looked like he was going to puke and Young tagged in for his team. Bridging Northern Lights suplex by Young for two. He hit a powerslam on Swagger. Young went to the middle rope for an attack, but Cesaro decked him with an uppercut. That was enough for the win after seven minutes. Titus didn't end up puking.
Winners by pinfall: Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger
Analysis: *1/2 More momentum for the Real Americans. I'd love to see them win the tag titles soon. They're gaining a lot of momentum as a team. No puke for O'Neil, so that's good.
More plugging for the WWE App. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were shown watching backstage. I'm surprised we didn't get five backstage segments with them on the show.
The Slammy for Match of the Year is one of the categories next week as well. Hopefully Cena vs. Rock doesn't win. I've been re-watching a bunch of them for my Johnny Awards column on December 19 (I like to wait until after TLC) and I can say it's definitely a tough choice this year.
It's time for some WWE App poll results. The Unified Champion won with 38%, the Undisputed WWE Champion received 31% and the Undisputed World Champion also received 31%. That means they're rolling with Unified Champion. Stop calling it the "greatest match in history" Lawler. Please stop.
Contract Signing with John Cena and Randy Orton
There were tables, ladders and chairs all around the arena. Way to block the view of the fans during a show where they are paying good money to watch a 15 minute promo in the main event. Hunter said the winner of their match will be the champion. Stephanie said they guaranteed that there will be ONE winner. The WWE Champion Randy Orton was introduced first and then World Champion John Cena.
Orton sat at one end of the table while Cena sat on the other side. Hunter listed the names of many greats that have held the WWE Championship. Biggest reaction when he said Austin and Rock. Stephanie said Triple H to little reaction. Hunter talked about the World Title going back to the NWA Title days. That's some questionable lineage, but I get why they do it. He mentioned more names as Stephanie mentioned Hunter again. Hunter talked about how they have wanted to do this for a while, but now they have found the right guys for it. Hunter told them they have a moment in time to cement their legacy forever. Orton signed the contract. Then lefty Cena signed the contract.
Orton said he was better than all the former champions including Triple H. Orton mentioned they don't like Cena just like the majority of the audience. He claimed that he would walk out with both titles. Cena said Orton was talking like he didn't know who he was. Orton mentioned he knows very well who Cena is. Orton talked about shattering dreams, so Cena told Orton to shut up.
Cena mentioned that Hunter chose Orton to be a success in WWE. Cena told Orton that he didn't live up to his potential ever. A guy with 11 combined World Titles that is 33 years old didn't live up to potential? Weak point. Cena said Orton was the most gifted superstar ever and made everything look easy. He told Orton he got cocky as well as lazy. Cena said he's never been asked to be the face of anything - he's the first to show up and last to leave. Cena said Orton was given that while Cena earned it. If Orton beats him then he will earn it. "I'm not an Apex Predator - I'm just John Cena." He gave Orton two options: leave or make a move. He warned Orton that if he makes a move then the audience will be reminded what a TLC match really is. He mentioned using a chair, ladder and table while Hunter and Stephanie left the ring.
The brawl was on as Orton flipped the table. Cena knocked Orton down with a ladder shot. Orton whipped Cena into the steel post. Orton cleared off the announce table while Cena hit him with a ladder again. Steel chair to the back by Cena followed by a microphone shot. They went back into the ring, which led to Orton hitting Cena with a ladder as well as two chair shots to the back. Orton cleared the ring and set up a table in the middle of the ring while another table was set up in a corner. Cena made the comeback by throwing Orton into the table set up against the turnbuckle. Thumbs down by Cena, which is a sign of the Evolution days. Cena gave Orton the Attitude Adjustment through the table. Cena held up both the WWE and World Titles over his head just like Orton did last week. That's where Raw ended.
Analysis: The promo by Orton was pretty silly and boring, but Cena's speech was really good. I say it all the time. When Cena gets fired up in promos and he really brings it then he's as good as anybody. The problem is he doesn't do it often enough. He does promos like that maybe once per month. I wish it was more of a regular thing for him.
I liked the brawl a lot. It was well done. The crowd was really into it. That's probably because it was not a strong third hour and they were ready for something exciting to happen. While I don't really believe that Orton vs. Cena is the greatest match ever, I don't blame WWE for saying it. I think they can have an awesome match in the TLC setting too. Both guys are very capable of that and have shown in the past they can deliver on the big stage.
Do I really think there will be one champion after TLC? No. I don't. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that as long as they hang up two titles during the match that a situation is likely where one guy leaves with one title and the other leaves with the other. Perhaps it's a way to put the WWE Title on Cena while Orton takes the World Title. It doesn't feel like the right time and the right show to unify the titles like that. Whether they can hold it off until WrestleMania or not, I have no idea at this point. I just have my doubts that they will really have a "Unified Champion" after TLC.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Daniel Bryan
2. John Cena - Congrats to Cena for making it in. He won't have to make awkward faces like he does on Total Divas, which was the inspiration for the banner at the top of the column.
3. The Shield - I cheated.
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 4.5
2013 Average: 5.79
2013 High: 8.5 (August 27)
2013 Low: 3.5 (January 28)
Last 5 Weeks: 4.5, 4.5, 6.5, 5, 6.5
It was a better show than the last two weeks. It gets a score right below the yearly average.
I like how they actually built to some matches to create some scenarios for TLC. With the way the midcard has been booked of late, it's an encouraging sign to see them seem to care about them a little more. There are still so many boring parts during the three hours that are tough to watch and the crowd doesn't care (see Tons of Funk tag as well as Miz/Kofi story), but at least they added four matches to TLC on this show alone. Better now than next week.
What was with the rollup/cradle finishes? Four of them on the show. Somebody has a rollup fetish backstage. I don't want to know.
Next week are the Slammy Awards. Please don't suck.
On Saturday I'll post my regular 10 questions and answers about TLC. Thankfully they've announced five matches for TLC at this point, which is better than the three matches they had announced for other recent PPVs by this stage.
As mentioned earlier, I am happy to announce that I'm writing exclusive columns for WhatCulture.com and I started on Monday. If you're a fan of my work, please read it, tweet it, share it and support the site. They're a growing wrestling section with a nice stable of writers that I'm proud to be a part of. My first post focused on ten reasons to be a fan of wrestling in general and what I like about it. Writing there won't mean I'll be writing less columns here. I will make time for everything that I usually do. When you're a writer you try to reach as many people as you can and this allows me to do that. I'll have a Daniel Bryan related column on there on Wednesday most likely.
I cut down my word count by about 700. Might try to go even less in the future. I don't want to leave out key points, but I have cut down play by play a bit.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org