Tonight The Shield reveal their manifesto for justice in WWE, Ryback extorts Vickie for a TLC match against CM Punk, and as John Cena heats things up with both AJ and Dolph Ziggler can his injured leg hold out?
Ryback def. Titus O’Neil:
Tonight’s Raw kicked off with Ryback squashing Titus O’Neil. Why does it almost seem like the Prime Time Players are being punished for excelling in recent weeks? Paul Heyman called O’Neil’s commentary last week a breakthrough moment, so to capitalize the team is jobbed out? If they want the investment to pay off they need to be protected. We hear a lot about this alleged tag-division, but I’m personally still waiting to see it.
Ryback extorts Vickie Guerrero:
For the second time in two weeks, Ryback seized a microphone and made his intentions known. “Whether it’s one CM Punk, three outsiders dressed in black or all four of them together, I’m gonna stand here all damn night until I get what I want. FEED. ME. MORE!”
After clearing out some feeble security, Ryback was met by Raw GM Vickie Guerrero. Big Hungry offered Vickie a deal: a WWE Title TLC Match at the PPV against CM Punk … and severe consequences should Vickie deny him. With her back to the wall, Vickie had no choice but to acquiesce to Ryback’s demands, provided he leave the ring.
So Ryback gets another shot, but having seen the previous matches something tells me he isn’t going to leave as champion. Is this making Ryback a top guy or is it actually burying him? It’s hard to tell. There has to be a payoff at some point. What use is a big angry monster if he never gets to dish out the ultimate punishment all the fans want to see?
(The security for this segment were played by local Indy workers Luke Hawx, Byron Wilcott, Matt Lancie, Blake Wilder and Haniel T. They also have some role at tonight’s SmackDown taping).
Alberto Del Rio def. The Great Khali:
Coming to the aid of his new interest Rosa Mendes who was humiliated by Hornswoggle and The Great Khali, Alberto Del Rio wound up in a match with the giant Jobber to prove himself to the senorita.
Vince McMahon is reportedly the man behind this latest storyline, but right now it’s too early to see what WWE’s honcho ultimately has in mind. Primo & Epico are a few notches below Del Rio on the totem pole, so it can’t be a feud with them, and it’s not like Del Rio needs two managers, as much as he needs any.
During the match Del Rio found his chest and back welted with The Punjabi Nightmare’s handprints, but the two-time WWE Champion withstood the full brunt of Khali’s strikes and retaliated, attempting to weaken Khali’s tree-trunk-like arms. A distraction by Ricardo Rodriguez diverted Khali’s attention just long enough for Del Rio to trap Khali in the Cross Armbreaker, felling the big red-wood for the victory.
It seems Rosa is easily impressed. She wrote on Twitter: “Tonight on #Raw #Butterflies #Goosebumps”
Michael Cole interviewed Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns, aka “The Shield”:
As much as Ambrose and Rollins are the guys with a proven track record in terms of talking and charisma, it was Ambrose and Reigns who seem to fit the rugged “Shield” faction better than Rollins, who came across a little meeker than the other two. However it’s far too early to be picking standouts. Reigns’ strong and silent attitude may ware thin, and Rollins may talk and wrestle his way to the spotlight.
Right now all we know is that these men are “The Shield”, not Nexus, not the NWO, but a faction fighting for justice and equality in the WWE locker room. “We sat down in NXT and we saw things clearly. We saw things headed in the wrong direction,” Rollins said in the trio’s exclusive interview with Cole. “We stepped in and righted those wrongs.”
“It’s about right and wrong,” sneered Ambrose, who balked when Cole implied their actions were for the sole benefit of CM Punk. Punk, Ambrose rationalized, was forced to defend his WWE Title against two foes he’d already beaten, so “The Shield” stepped in.
Are these men sincere or are they simply hired henchmen of Paul Heyman? Only time will tell.
It was a good introduction. As JR mentioned in his blog we don’t need all the answers right now and it’s too early to judge, let the episodic storytelling do what it needs to.
Tamina Snuka def. Alicia Fox:
No one is safe, or so says Michael Cole of Tamina Snuka’s newly initiated reign of terror throughout the Divas division. And the powerhouse daughter of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka certainly made a convincing case for herself as the Diva to beat following her brutal shellacking of Alicia Fox on Raw, a contest she declared was a warning of sorts to AJ Lee. Snuka attacked AJ at Survivor Series for “not knowing her place” and daring to oppose Vickie Guerrero. Tamina made short work of the tenured Miss Fox, manhandling her opponent for the duration of the bout and finally sealing Alicia’s fate with a resounding Superfly Splash that drew gasps of shock from the Cajundome faithful and put Alicia down for the count. Consider the warning sent.
Now that Beth Phoenix and Kharma are out of the picture it looks like Tamina will fill the monster Diva role. It’s possible we may see some kind of mixed tag match between Ziggler & Tamina and John Cena & AJ. That’s if Vickie doesn’t get in the ring herself.
John Cena addressed the WWE Universe:
With a bum knee and no shortage of aches and pains after being put through a bathroom wall by Dolph Ziggler, John Cena stood before a WWE Universe hungry for answers following his shocking, scandalous lip-lock with AJ Lee last week on Raw. What did he have in store?
Well for starters, he planned to address the most prevalent question of them all: Is AJ a good kisser?
Unfortunately, the WWE Universe was denied that particular nugget of truth when Vickie Guerrero came a-callin’ again, cutting Cena off mid-address and presenting him with a gift in time for the holiday season: matching his & hers robes for Cena and AJ. While Cena stewed in the ring, Vickie rattled off AJ’s somewhat troubling romantic history throughout 2012, capping off her argument with the chestnut that the satisfaction of exposing a potential affair between the two would be nothing compared to her satisfaction in watching the two unravel like the rest of AJ’s relationships had.
But before Vickie could really get going, AJ made her presence known and did something truly shocking: She agreed with the Managing Supervisor. There was no point denying her flings with Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Kane ended less than favorably, but AJ chose to use those incidents as learning experiences. And besides, Vickie’s allegations were all about proving AJ and Cena hooked up while she was Raw General Manager. Since she was not GM anymore, AJ was free to pursue any relationship she wanted. But just when it looked like the WWE Universe was about to get The Kiss: Round Two, Vickie called a stop to the shenanigans and Dolph Ziggler strutted onto the stage to add his two cents.
Never one to mince words, The Showoff sneered from his perch atop the ramp. What really got Cena riled up enough to “cheap shot” him on SmackDown was because he knew, in his heart of hearts, that when AJ was locking lips with Cena, she had visions of Ziggler dancing through her head. The insult was enough to get Cena to bite, but Vickie wouldn’t allow any more fighting in bathrooms or on stages. What she would allow, though, was a one-on-one contest: Cena vs. Ziggler tonight.
Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston def. Tensai:
JR wrote on Twitter: “England’s @WadeBarrett stood out on commentary tonight on #RAW. Stellar..he gets it. Push comfort zone boys aside & go to the top. #WWE”
Commentary was perhaps the highlight of this quick match as Kofi went through the motions with Tensai. Kofi ultimately turned Tensai’s freight-train-like momentum against him when he bounced his opponent’s head off the ropes, dazing Tensai long enough for Kofi to plant him with a top-rope crossbody for the win.
The most telling moment of the contest came afterward, however, when Barrett laid hands on Kofi’s coveted title, unceremoniously returning it to the champion without so much as a handshake, show of respect or any sign he was the least bit impressed with Kingston’s victory.
It’s nice to see somebody finally carrying themselves like a badass on the WWE roster again. Other than Orton and Ryback the roster is compromised of whiners, jokers or smiley do-gooders. I miss the “get-the-job-doners”.
Rey Mysterio def. WWE Tag Team Champion Daniel Bryan:
There’s a first time for everything, and the WWE Universe was treated to a fantastic first-time contest when Daniel Bryan, who lost the RAWactive poll to determine CM Punk’s opponent later in the evening, was placed into an impromptu contest against a Superstar he never faced one-on-one: Rey Mysterio. These two could have had a couple of show-stealers when Bryan was Champion, but there’s still time for them to impress in the tag division.
Bryan’s temper seemed to get the better of him from the get-go, as he spent the lion’s share of the opening minutes stewing over the fact Kane bested him in the RAWactive voting. But a series of thunderous kicks from Mysterio forced Bryan into his groove relatively quickly. The submission expert went to his extensive playbook of holds to ground The Master of the 619, punctuating the technical assault with some good old-fashioned brutality, raking Mysterio’s nose and unceremoniously thumping him shoulder-first into the ring post. Putting the match away, however, proved to be much easier said than done for the irritable tag champ. Mysterio thwarted Bryan’s attempt at a top-rope superplex and unleashed a storm of offense on his irritable opponent, breaking out of the “No!” Lock before finally tossing Bryan headfirst into the ring post and executing an unorthodox variation on the 619 to put Bryan’s evening to its unceremonious end.
One thing about Bryan is that he’s one of those characters that doesn’t necessarily have to win every match to remain endearing. They can easily fall back on his technical skill if they ever want to re-legitimatize him as a top contender.
John Cena def. Dolph Ziggler:
Despite his weak leg John Cena still managed to get the victory over Dolph Ziggler, at least after some commotion on the outside. First, Cena seemed to aggravate his knee injury while attempting the Five Knuckle Shuffle. While officials attended to Cena, Ziggler attempted to tamper with the ring post and expose the bare steel of the turnbuckle, but AJ Lee quickly sprinted to the ring and cut Dolph’s nefarious scheme short. This brought out Vickie Guerrero, who drew the ire of AJ and the attention of the referee to boot. With everyone distracted, Ziggler made his move and attempted to smash Cena with his Money in the Bank briefcase, but the injured Cena was ready for the cheap shot, dodging Ziggler’s strike and finally executing the AA to silence The Showoff.
And then, of course, he kissed AJ again.
It seems like they’re setting Ziggler up for an important victory, but it’s a shame that it’ll probably be sold like Cena had a disadvantage due to his knee. The company wants new stars, but not at the expense of the company man. Catch 22.
Sheamus def. U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro via Count-Out:
In the match of the night Antonio Cesaro proved that he can hang with the main eventers and has likely secured himself a bright future.
It was Cesaro who first gained the upper hand, tripping The Celtic Warrior up and causing him to face-plant onto the steel steps. The Swiss Superman’s attempt to ground the former World Heavyweight Champion with grappling didn’t prove particularly fruitful, so he went to a far move rudimentary game plan after his brief foray into technical wrestling: He simply tried to beat Sheamus up, following a gut-wrench suplex with his own twisted variation on Sheamus’ forearm clubs, stringing the Irishman up in the ropes and unleashing a wave of uppercuts in an attempt to break Sheamus’ resolve.
It didn’t quite turn out that way. Sheamus rallied immediately, turning Cesaro around and raining forearms upon the champion’s chest and following up with a vicious-looking Irish Curse. With victory within reach, Sheamus attempted to floor The Swiss Superman with the battering ram, but Cesaro countered with a ringing European uppercut that left The Celtic Warrior seeing stars and vulnerable for the Neutralizer. The Celtic Warrior surged forth one last time at the moment of truth, though, backdropping Cesaro and Brogue Kicking him through the ropes, ultimately recording the victory via count-out.
The Celtic Warrior’s evening ended on a truly ominous note after the final bell tolled when Big Show made his presence known, steel chair in hand, and responded with Sheamus’ furious promise to reclaim the World Championship with a physical statement that needed no words to back it up: He took the chair in his hands and systematically dismantled it piece by piece, leaving the steel in sections on the ramp after KO Punching it into smithereens while Sheamus looked on, concern clouding his battered face for the first time in a long time at the giant’s ferocious display.
Damien Sandow def. Zack Ryder:
Ryder, who drew “The Bastion of Bravery’s” ire earlier this year, picked right up where he left off in his own efforts to knock the conceited Sandow down a peg or two. The Ultimate Broski was all over Sandow from the second the match began, swarming Sandow with hard-hitting offense and showing no mercy to the overwhelmed “Duke of Decency.” Each time Sandow seemed to pick up momentum, Ryder was there to cut him down, and it looked for a while like the “Internet Champion” would net himself a win over Sandow.
The Enlightened One snatched victory from Ryder’s clutches, however, in a very Sandow-esque way: He took advantage of another man’s distraction. In this case, it was the referee’s, who lost track of the combatants just long enough for Sandow to trip Ryder up on the ropes and send him plummeting onto the turnbuckle. While Ryder reeled from his unsportsmanlike maneuver, Sandow capitalized with Terminus and sent Ryder stumbling to the showers. Next up? John Cena on WWE Main Event.
CM Punk def. Kane:
Was everything the Shield said earlier in the night a ruse? What perceived injustice could they have been correcting during a one on one match between CM Punk and Kane?
Punk was ready for Kane’s signature move, ducking under the demon’s gloved hand and countering with a swinging neckbreaker. Kane got the last word in, however, when he caught Punk in the middle of his own flying clothesline and finally planted the champion with the Chokeslam. With Punk down, Kane decided to seal the match with a statement and called for the Tombstone, but it wasn’t long before a trio of interlopers made themselves known. The Shield slowly materialized from the crowd, and their presence was enough to distract Kane for Punk to execute the Go to Sleep on The Big Red Monster. The Second City Saint quickly put the Tag Champion down and left him to the mercy of The Shield, who swarmed the ring and rained blows upon the prone Kane. Daniel Bryan suffered a similar fate when he ran to his partner’s aid, and just when it seemed like Punk would get off scot-free, Ryback returned for a piece of the action.
For once, though, his attentions were focused elsewhere than Punk because Ryback made a beeline for The Shield, planting Rollins with a powerbomb and cutting Ambrose and Reigns down with a pair of Meathook Clotheslines before Punk struck from behind. Ryback’s attempt to powerbomb the champ into oblivion proved fruitless when Reigns felled Ryback with a spear. With the beast vulnerable, The Shield ended their onslaught as they had the past two instances: a triple powerbomb that left Ryback limp on the mat, with Punk standing tall yet again over his TLC opponent.
Some solid matches from Mysterio/Bryan and Sheamus/Cesaro, and intrigue surrounding The Shield, made tonight’s Raws one of the better in recent weeks, however a lot of the good is washed away in ridiculous length of the show. Maybe the Internet has fired my brain but I just cannot concentrate on a 3 hour show when only some of it is worth watching.