WWE Raw Report
By: Todd Martin
Date: 11/21/11 from Hershey, PA.
The Big News: Miz and R. Truth’s partnership appears to be over.
CM Punk came out to start the show. He reminisced about sitting in class as a child and saying he wanted to be a pro wrestler. He specifically noted that he said pro wrestler and not sports entertainer. Punk said it was a really big deal for him to win the WWE title at MSG and do it on his own terms. Punk said the game of WWE title hot potato is over. Good luck with that. Punk said the title is where it belongs and will stay there. Punk asserted that he will bring back an air of danger to Raw and be an agent of change. He specifically said he wanted to make John Laurinaitis a former Raw GM.
Laurinaitis conveniently walked out at precisely that second. Laurinaitis claimed they both want to make the WWE Universe happy. Laurinaitis said he would take the high road and doesn’t know what Punk’s problem with him is. Punk responded that Vince McMahon is a soulless bastard but at least he admits it while Laurinaitis is a middle manager who smiles in your face but undermines you behind your back. That’s a very familiar archetype that people can relate to. Punk said Laurinaitis references the WWE Universe but they’re not a universe, they’re fans, and that’s just a buzzword Laurinaitis uses to keep his bosses happy. That’s a very encouraging sign that they’d acknowledge that on camera.
Laurinaitis said he is upper management and Punk has him wrong. Laurinaitis said he can be just as creative and dynamic as Punk and announced the Punk vs. Del Rio title rematch for next week on Raw. Punk mocked this as not exactly being radical and suggested they have the match immediately. Laurinaitis retorted that Punk would be wrestling Dolph Ziggler instead. Punk said the people didn’t want to see that. “We want Ryder” chants started and Punk said they wanted to see Ziggler vs. Ryder. Laurinaitis said Ryder would be wrestling Del Rio. Punk concluded by saying he would beat Ziggler and then Del Rio and someday someone would beat some sense into Laurinaitis. Punk did an excellent job on the microphone here.
Alberto Del Rio beat Zack Ryder. Before the match, they showed video of Rock putting over Ryder after the Survivor Series. Then, Del Rio basically squashed him. Del Rio immediately attacked the arm. Ryder briefly made a comeback but missed the rough rider and Del Rio used an enzuigiri and armbar for the submission.
I disagree with this booking. Just stick someone else in Ryder’s spot. Even if you don’t think Ryder has that much potential, this constant burying of midcard guys at the precise point fans are starting to show a little interest in them completely undermines the ability of WWE to get over anyone except the top guys. That’s a large part of why depth is so weak right now and it’s so hard to make new stars.
Sheamus beat Jack Swagger. Swagger hit a clothesline and Vader bomb but Sheamus kicked out. Sheamus hit punches and a powerslam but Swagger kicked out. Sheamus missed the Brogue kick and Swagger applied the ankle lock. Swagger escaped and hit the Brogue kick for the win. This was fun while it lasted.
Kevin Nash came out and said he was sitting in MSG at Survivor Series and thinking about things. He noted that MSG has been good to him and referenced winning the title from Bob Backlund and the Clique curtain call. He said it should have been HHH and Nash headlining at Survivor Series but that didn’t happen because HHH was taken out by his own sledgehammer. Nash claimed he is the real survivor.
Cody Rhodes beat Santino. Rhodes before the match said the restraints have been removed on a rabid dog. He said he is unmasked, uninhibited and unbeatable. He was interrupted by Santino and they had a very brief match with Rhodes using the roll of the dice for the win. Afterwards, Rhodes badmouthed Booker T and threw water on him. Booker did commentary with Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole, with Lawler not saying much because apparently he lost his voice.
CM Punk beat Dolph Ziggler. Prior to the match, Ziggler claimed to have won twice at the Survivor Series (since his team did win even though he was eliminated immediately). Ziggler said he is the new face of the WWE. They started with some chain wrestling and then Ziggler took over. Punk tried to come back with a high knee but Ziggler sent him over the top rope to the floor and celebrated by doing a handstand and gloating. That was a great spot, just for the sheer obnoxiousness of the gesture.
Ziggler caught Punk in a sleeper. Punk tried to counter into the GTS but Ziggler escaped and tried to pin Punk with his feet on the ropes. The referee caught Ziggler. Punk then tried the same trick but the referee caught him too. Punk missed a high kick but then landed the high knee and bulldog for a two count. Punk set up for the top rope elbow but Ziggler rolled out of the way and hit one of the best dropkicks you’re ever going to see for two.
Moments later, Punk nailed the top rope elbow for two. He went for GTS, but Ziggler countered again. Ziggler hit a bunch of punches and kicks and they teased a DQ spot but it didn’t happen. Punk then avoided the famouser and hit the GTS for the pin. This was a really good match. It’s no secret, but Ziggler is really clicking right now. I’ve been slower to warm up to him than many, but it’s unmistakable at this point.
They aired a brief video in the horror mold featuring Kane’s mask dropping at the end. It would appear Kane is coming back as a heel. Big Show then came out and said he proved he is stronger, tougher and better than Henry. He said Henry took the easy way out and left as champion but was carted out. Show said he heard Henry’s leg may not be broken and when Henry gets back, Show will be waiting for him. They then showed Natalya and Beth Phoenix bullying Kelly and Alicia Fox backstage.
Wade Barrett beat Kofi Kingston. Barrett went for wasteland early but Randy Orton came out to distract him. Orton took a seat at ringside and Kingston escaped wasteland. Barrett went back to work. Kingston came back with a tope, frog crossbody and boom drop. Kingston missed trouble in paradise and Barrett hit the wasteland for the pin. Barrett starred at Orton with great intensity at the close and it was nice to see the clean finish rather than the distraction finish. After the match, Orton teased attacking Barrett and Barrett quickly jumped back in concern.
The show concluded with John Cena. He was in a jolly mood. He put over CM Punk and Zack Ryder and said he coexisted with Rock in the tag team and they won. He noted Rock attacking him after the match but said that this established WrestleMania will be what it needs to be. This was a weird tact. Miz and Truth came out. Miz said Cena’s ego wouldn’t let him acknowledge that the people hated him and loved Rock. Miz brought up the “don’t tag Cena” chant and the crowd chanted that again. Miz said nobody wanted to see Cena and the crowd mostly cheered that. Truth taunted Cena some more.
Cena responded by saying nobody cares about either Truth or Miz. He said that Miz thinks Truth is a wacked out nut job with no talent riding his coattails and Truth thinks Miz is a pompous, arrogant, attention-stealing D-lister whose biggest accomplishment was being on a crappy reality show. Nice to know being on the Real World is a bigger accomplishment than headlining WrestleMania and holding the WWE title.
Cena left, at which point Miz and Truth began bickering over what Cena said. They shoved each other and Miz backed off. Miz said that Cena was turning them against each other. They acted like they were going to make up and left the ring, but Miz attacked Truth from behind on the stage and gave him the skull crushing finale. This was not a good finish to the show, with everybody burying each other in the wrong way.
I liked this show a lot better than most recent editions of Raw. The wrestling was good, the angles straightforward and logical, and they didn’t do a bunch of counterproductive stuff. In particular, it was very nice to see a WWE TV show where literally every match ended cleanly with one man proving to be better. Clean finishes help to get over match results and getting over match results has all sorts of positive dividends.