I feel these introductions become more and more redundant each week. It’s the same story every time. It’s another three hour Raw where the stakes are building, and the show needs to step up to deliver.
We all know that ratings are not what they used to be. We all know that the three hour Raws are far too long to be weekly products. We all even know that WWE will do nothing about it.
So I’ll just get right down to the action as usual, and hope some time soon that WWE realizes that they’ll never succeed in making three hours of completely compelling television every week and should be looking to produce two hours instead.
Team Hell No def. The Prime Time Players
Overview: After a match surrounded with outside distractions by the Shield, Daniel Bryan reversed a roll up from Darren Young to get his own three count. Afterward, the Shield assaulted both men, crushing Kane’s arm with steel steps and brutally beating on Bryan.
Analysis: The match itself was nothing spectacular, fairly ordinary, but the action on the outside made things interesting. Keeping up the Shield’s shroud of confusion upon their intentions, it is hard right now to say why they attacked the tag team champions again this week.
The idea of the Shield going for the tag team championships is interesting, but it may be a bit overdone with a division that is already stacked without needing this big group involved in proceedings. That said, it probably won’t go that way.
AJ Lee def. Tamina
Overview: Despite getting outpowered throughout the match, Tamina took a bit too long getting into position for the Superfly Splash, allowing AJ to quickly sneak in the roll up for a three count.
Analysis: I would have preferred the two fight first on PPV, but it is a Divas feud. That said, having them battle like this the first time gives them some heat and should convince Tamina to get more aggressive in making her statement against AJ.
The sample size on this match was small, but I liked what I saw. Tamina works a very aggressive style that AJ can sell well.
Punk Wants to Be on WWE Mount Rushmore and Miz Wants the Truth
Overview: CM Punk and Paul Heyman came out to declare that Punk is about to become the longest reigning WWE Champion of the modern era. The Miz interrupted and slandered Punk’s reign, asking Punk to go on Miz TV and take a lie detector test to prove the validity of his title reign.
Analysis: The beginning promos by Heyman and Punk were ridiculously bland in that they were basically summing everything the two had said for months already. It all was well delivered but completely irrelevant filler.
When the Miz came out though, things got a lot more interesting. I have been advocating for a Miz turn for what seems like years, but I had no idea how fast people would get behind him. It was as if the Rock was the one on stage taunting Punk, getting the crowd to chant whatever he wanted them to.
There was no doubt in this segment who was the star as, despite some minor promo botches by both men, the Miz came out of this looking even better as a top face with his very first crowd pleasing nickname calling Heyman a walrus.
John Cena and Sheamus def. Big Show and Dolph Ziggler
Overview: Despite a good performance from the heels, Cena and Sheamus gained the momentum and ended the match with a simultaneous AA and White Noise to their respective rivals. Cena got the three.
Analysis: This was the first real match of the night as all four of these stars delivered. Both teams had some great chemistry going. The match action was solid though the ending was a bit much.
Having both of the heels get manhandled by their opponents may have been a cool visual, but it does not help make them look great. If Ziggler loses again at TLC to Cena, he’ll have nothing left of the momentum he was building.
Damien Sandow Fails to Find Intelligence Then Defeats Santino
Overview: Damien Sandow walked out to the ring in order to continue his quest for an apprentice that he began on SmackDown. When the man he questioned failed, Sandow yelled him out of the ring before Santino came out and interrupted Sandow. Sandow proceeded to wrestle and defeat Santino with the Terminus.
Analysis: Sandow’s search for an apprentice probably isn’t going anywhere; however, it is so far hilarious. The way he interacted with his subject was great.
Even funnier though was Sandow’s reactions to Santino. From his facial expressions to body language in the match, he and Santino had some comedic chemistry. The match was fine, but the interactions were great. Sandow could use a mini-feud while he waits for Rhodes.
Alberto Del Rio def. Sin Cara
Overview: Even though Sin Cara put up a valiant effort, looking ready to win at many points, Del Rio used his technical prowess to reverse Cara’s offense into a Cross Armbreaker for the submission victory.
Analysis: Sin Cara was allowed to look fairly strong this week. I’m not sure where Rey Mysterio was, but Cara and Del Rio without much direction right now looked to be on equal footing here except near the ending when Del Rio was obviously setting up his finisher.
I still wonder what WWE is doing with Del Rio. He has been teasing still feuding with Orton, yet there is no ground there anymore. Other than Miz or Orton, there aren’t any top faces in need of a heel to feud with.
Mr. McMahon Leads Vickie to Make Two Big Statements on WWE’s Future
Overview: Thanks to consistent leading by Mr. McMahon as he did weeks before to change the Survivor Series main event, Vickie booked Dolph/Cena in a ladder match for the MitB briefcase and Ryback vs. Paul Heyman if Punk was lying in the main event of the night.
Analysis: I really felt like it would be a tables match, but WWE has decided to try and be more unpredictable. I do commend WWE for making a match that has implications and an air of unpredictability; however, personally, I hate the idea that Cena could win Money in the Bank.
He already cashed in one briefcase this year, and he failed yet now he can get another one? I hope that this is all just a tease, and WWE doesn’t plan for Cena to be World Heavyweight Champion going into ‘Mania as he doesn’t need the title.
One idea would be that Ziggler would cash in before facing Cena which would lead to the ladder match being for the title. That would made for an even more suspenseful match though it would again be teasing the same thing: that Cena becomes WHC. That said, a win in either match would be huge for Ziggler.
Randy Orton def. Brad Maddox
Overview: Randy Orton made quick work of Maddox before being ambushed from behind by the Shield who hit him with their signature assisted powerbomb.
Analysis: He’s back… and he’s gone. Not really though. WWE is playing up Brad Maddox as a less serious character, and it’s entertaining so far. He acts the role of the star, yet he can’t defeat anyone or even put up a fight.
I’m not sure if I like the overexposure of the Shield though. They’re attacking everyone right now without rhyme or reason which is fine, but it is a bit too much to have them attacking Kane, Bryan, and Orton all in the same night with Ryback seeming to still be their main target.
Antonio Cesaro def. R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, and Wade Barrett to Retain the United States Championship
Overview: Thanks to a RawActive poll that was instituted by Teddy Long breaking up a tag team match, Antonio Cesaro’s US Title was put on the line in a fatal four way match. Cesaro won by pinning Kofi with the Neutralizer after Truth was hit the Bullhammer and Barrett was hit with Trouble in Paradise.
Analysis: This match was a lot of fun to watch. Four great midcard in ring talents all fought over a single prize with a lot of fast paced action. While it was a bit predictable as it seemed unlikely they’d take the title off either man right now, it was still great wrestling.
Antonio Cesaro was put over big because he had to be to retain his title, but the situation was tailor made to make Cesaro look great as no one was going to vote against the heel and for the face here.
The Lies Continue and Chaos Reigns
Overview: The Miz had Punk go through the lie detector only for the Shield to break things up before Punk could say whether he had anything to do with the group. The Shield destroyed Miz but were matched by Team Hell No and Ryback together, causing them to retreat. Meanwhile, Punk gloated over Miz only to get destroyed by Ryback who bashed Punk with a ladder, a chair, and threw him through a table.
Analysis: This segment was a lot of shouting and nonsense for most of it. The lie detector was a decoy to convince the audience that answers would be revealed while it was all just a way to establish the dynamic of this Punk/Ryback/Shield battle going on.
First Ryback was finally able to bring down the Shield a bit by being able to isolate Dean Ambrose while Kane and Bryan dealt with Rollins and Reigns. Then Ryback was able to show what destruction he can bring when he gets Punk one on one.
Overall, it was not as important of a segment as it pretended to be, but it did a good job making Ryback look strong again while showing that one on one the Shield can be matched though they still looked strong especially after destroying Team Hell No and Orton earlier.
Final notes: There were a variety of segments backstage most of which involved Vickie Guerrero. She seems to be getting on a lot of people’s nerves lately, alienating even Ziggler due to her inability to make decision on her own.
The commentators especially Cole were uncharacteristically mistake-prone this week. In fact, much of the mic work this week was loaded with botches. Very strange night in that regard.
Conclusion: WWE continues to a solid job building TLC and storylines while putting out good wrestling each week. The main issue is that stories really don’t stand out especially dealing with three hours of Raw every week where it is hard to stay excited for the programming for so much time.
Credit goes to the writers and the talent for the product they are generally succeeding in delivering, and they have me excited for a minor PPV.
With Punk/Ryback, Ziggler/Cena, Show/Sheamus, and a variety of solid midcard feuds all leading into TLC, Raw is succeeding in keeping things moving even if it is a bit unaffecting at times.