WWE Raw Report
By: Todd Martin
Date: 01/23/12 from Phoenix, AZ.
The Big News: WWE is revolutionizing the concept of a go home show.
CM Punk came out to start the show. He said that Dolph Ziggler’s wins over him were giftwrapped by John Laurinaitis. He labeled Laurinaitis a failure and said that he was surprised Laurinaitis told the truth about planning to screw Punk Sunday. Punk told Laurinaitis to come out and say that to his face. Laurinaitis didn’t appear so Punk said he would go find Laurinaitis. John Cena came out instead. Punk said he wanted a different company man named John.
Cena said that he was tired of hearing Punk ramble. Cena added that Punk was out there to talk while Cena was out for business. Cena told Laurinaitis to give Zack Ryder a US title rematch, give Cena a match with Kane on Raw, and resign as interim GM. That finally brought out Laurinaitis, who said he stood by what he said last week and that he won’t be intimidated. Punk invited Laurinaitis to the ring. Laurinaitis declined and announced Kane vs. Ryder in a falls count anywhere match. He added that if Cena got involved, Ryder would never get a US title rematch. He then announced Cena and Punk would be teaming up next.
Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger beat John Cena and CM Punk. The heels worked over Cena. Punk tagged in and hit a springboard clothesline, swinging neck breaker, high knee, bulldog and high kick on Ziggler. Swagger broke up a pin attempt. Swagger went for an ankle lock on Cena on the floor, but Cena reversed into the STF. Punk was going to the top when Laurinaitis got up on the apron. Punk went after Laurinaitis, but Ziggler used the opportunity to roll up Punk with a handful of tights for the win.
There was a time when you could get heat and build matches with this sort of thing, but they have so destroyed the meaning of match results that it means absolutely nothing. They’d be much better off having Ziggler actually beat other people rather than giving him these fake wins over Punk.
After the match, Punk said that Laurinaitis may plan on screwing Punk but Punk plans to beat up Laurinaitis. Punk then challenged Laurinaitis to a match later on Raw. Laurinaitis smiled and accepted.
Chris Jericho came out for the Highlight Reel. They announced he is in the Royal Rumble. He smiled and played to the crowd again. He received some boos this time, but still mostly cheers and Y2J chants. He teased saying something into the microphone but instead went backstage and brought out a t-shirt gun. He had the crowd going crazy screaming for t-shirts. He didn’t shoot a t-shirt out and instead put down the gun. He grabbed the camera in the ring and panned around to the cheering audience. He showed a short video package. Then he finally spoke. He said that this Sunday at the Rumble it will be the end of the world as we know it. And that was it.
Backstage, Zack Ryder told Eve not to worry. Mick Foley asked Ryder if he would be okay. Ryder said yes. Foley reminded Ryder that Kane deep down is just a human being. Eve told Ryder not to do the match. Ryder said he had to. Cena came in and said he would be there if Ryder needed him. Ryder told Cena to stay out of it.
Kane and Zack Ryder’s match had no ending. Kane beat up Ryder forever. Ryder basically just sold. Finally, Kane choke slammed Ryder through a gimmicked section of the stage. They didn’t bother to do a pinfall. Kane went after Eve. Cena came out, so Kane just left. They acted all serious. Ryder was loaded onto a stretcher and then into an ambulance. As Ryder was being loaded into the ambulance, Cena told Ryder he would take care of this. Eve said this was Cena’s fault. Josh Mathews tried to ask a question but Cena knocked the microphone out of his hand and then looked at the camera with this unintentionally hilarious angry face.
If the Kane-Ryder match didn’t have me struggling to stay awake, the conclusion of this angle would have been really funny. The gimmicked stage looked so unbelievably fake, which completely killed any seriousness of the rest of the angle. Why they do these stunt bumps given they always look fake and don’t get over is beyond me. Eve’s terrible acting added to the comedy as did Cena’s absurd angry facials. They later announced Ryder had a broken back for good measure. I predict a miracle recovery.
Sheamus beat Jinder Mahal with the Brogue kick. Wade Barrett did commentary. After the match, Sheamus said he will win the Rumble and jawed with Barrett. Backstage, Miz tried to argue that all his former tag team partners have had their careers disintegrate while he has succeeded. Truth came in for some WWE style comedy and argued with Miz. John Laurinaitis broke them up. Laurinaitis was angry that they were arguing loudly while he was trying to prepare for Punk so he said that whoever lost their match would be the first entrant in the Rumble.
Brodus Clay beat Heath Slater with a head butt, corner avalanche and flying crossbody. William Regal did commentary and was very amusing.
R. Truth beat Miz. Miz did better for most of the match. He used his back breaker/neck breaker combination and a bunch of punches and kicks. Truth hit the leaping downward spiral out of nowhere for the pin. Backstage, David Otunga had a fax for John Laurinaitis that he said Laurinaitis wouldn’t like.
The match between John Laurinaitis and CM Punk didn’t take place. Laurinaitis had Otunga read the fax he received from the WWE board of directors. The board said they were concerned by his judgment and his declaration that he planned to screw Punk. Thus, his status as interim GM is under review and next week HHH will conduct a formal job evaluation. David Otunga was great reading this statement, selling that he was so sad and upset.
Punk was happy and said that if Laurinaitis screws him now, Laurinaitis will be out of a job. Laurinaitis apologized for any wrongdoing and said he was always going to call the match down the middle. He claimed that he just said otherwise because Punk made fun of him. Punk said he hopes HHH fires Laurinaitis next week. Laurinaitis said that won’t happen because he took over talent relations after the dark age under Jim Ross and made it a corporate entity. That was an amusing line.
Laurinaitis said his match with Punk wouldn’t happen but that he had an adequate substitute. Otunga jumped Punk but Punk quickly put him in the anaconda vise and he tapped. Punk went after Laurinaitis but Otunga came in from behind. Punk took him out again with a head kick. Laurinaitis offered a handshake to Punk. Punk shook hands but then gave Laurinaitis the GTS. Ziggler then came in and gave Punk a zig zag from behind to close the show.
This show itself wasn’t that bad from an entertainment standpoint, but the booking was atrocious. I don’t exactly have tremendous confidence in the WWE creative team these days, but I was shocked by the conclusion to this show. The match they have built the most for this show is Punk vs. Ziggler for the title with Laurinaitis as referee. The Rumble is the usual draw, but they haven’t spent much time at all building that up or getting you interested in the various possible winners.
Punk vs. Ziggler has had an actual prolonged build. Granted, that build had little to do with Punk and Ziggler. Ziggler has won by nothing but fluke and they’ve done nothing to make anyone think Ziggler is a real threat to Punk or the title. The whole build was for Laurinaitis screwing Punk and Punk finally beating up Laurinaitis. Then, in the final segment of the go home show for the Rumble, Punk does just that and gives Laurinaitis the GTS. They literally gave away the biggest hook for the PPV in the final segment building the show.
Usually, when I’m critiquing booking this dumb, I’m kind of annoyed. This time, I’m just amused. That’s so stupid it’s hilarious. It’s like the show isn’t even being booked to sell PPVs but rather is some sort of meta parody of incompetent booking. So Bravo, WWE. In an era where your storytelling is so atrocious that we’ve all come to expect the worst, you managed to genuinely surprise. Lay out the heel fans have been waiting six months to get his as the last thing you do before the show fans are supposed to pay to see him laid out? Sure! Why not?