WWE Raw Flashback: How did WWE kick off 2012?
The following is a flashback to Jason Powell's live coverage of the January 2, 2012 edition of WWE Raw. Join him tonight for live coverage of the first WWE Raw of 2013. He will also be recording a audio review exclusively for the Prowrestling.net Members. Join us on the ad-free version of the website and listen to several hours of new audio content each week by signing up via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Memphis, Tennessee
[Q1] The cut-in actually occurred at the top of the hour. Michael Cole hyped the WWE Championship match... A video recapped the Kane and John Cena segment from last week. WWE production seemed to amp up the boos for the replay of Cena's entrance and focussed on anti-Cena fans...
The opening video aired...
Powell's POV: A new year and WWE is still playing a dated theme song by a band that is as polarizing as John Cena. Oh, and they definitely played up the "Cena Sucks" and "Let's Go Cena" chants at the end of the Kane video.
John Cena's music played. He walked onto the stage and said they were in Jerry Lawler country. Cole and Lawler introduced the show from ringside. Once in the ring, Cena smiled while taking in the mixture of boos and cheers. It wasn't as intense as usual. Cena said last year may not have ended the way he wants, but it's a new day and a new year.
Cena wished the fans a happy new year. The crowd fired back with a "you suck" chant. Cena said not much has changed. He said the new year is time for celebration and resolution. "John Cena is going to make some changes to himself in 2012," Cena said. Just when it started getting interesting, he said he's going to wear less underwear and said he banned his father from television.
The third big change will come at WrestleMania 28 when he slaps The Rock's head off his neck. He said he remain who he is and his convictions will remain true. "Words like hustle, loyalty, and respect do not fall to pieces because someone throws fire in your face," Cena said.
Cena admitted he got emotional last week. He said the fans have paid their hard earned money to be at the show and they have earned the right to do whatever they want to do. Most of the crowd booed. Cena said his disappointment was with Kane rather than the fans. He said Kane criticized the way he does things and didn't settle business like he should. Cena said he's going to enjoy whatever reaction he gets.
Kane's music played and he laughed over the house mic. Kane said Cena can hold off the inevitable as long as he wants, but he will eventually embrace the hate. He said Cena will see the true power of Kane tonight. Kane's ring post pyro went off and Cena ducked and then flashed a look of surprise...
A graphic touted the WWE Championship. Static filled the screen and clips from the 1/2 videos were shown. "The End Begins Tonight" read a graphic... [C]
Powell's POV: Cena's promo was pretty much what you'd expect him to say. I don't read anything into what he's saying right now because it's not like his character would acknowledge that he's going to turn heel. Nevertheless, hearing him repeat the same old lines wasn't the most exciting way to kick off the new year of Raw. That said, the Kane tease for later was nice, and they are doing a good job of plugging the WWE Championship match, and the 1/2 video was wisely placed early in the show.
[Q2] 1. Daniel Bryan defeated Cody Rhodes in a non-title match in 3:20. The announcers hyped the Bryan vs. Big Show match for Smackdown and a graphic was shown during the intros. Rinse and repeat for the Cody vs. Booker match that will air on Smackdown. Cole did the usual anti-Bryan schtick. A small "Let's Go Bryan" chant broke out.
"How can you take Daniel Bryan seriously as the champion?" Cole asked. Lawler stood up for Bryan by saying you have to take him seriously until someone beats him for the title. Late in the match, Cody went for a suplex, but Bryan countered with an inside cradle and got the win...
Powell's POV: I'm not as down as most people are on the way Daniel Bryan is being pushed. If the idea is to make him seem like a major underdog during his feud with Big Show and build credibility by scoring upset wins then this is the approach to take. Of course, if they have him lose to Show at the Smackdown taping or fail to make him look good during his reign then this was a big waste of everyone's time.
Backstage, John Laurinaitis and The Miz watched footage of Miz's attack on R-Truth. Laurinaitis booked Miz in a match against Sheamus. Miz said he'll be a sitting duck for Truth. "Better than a lame duck," Laurinaitis replied. Miz stormed out of the room. R-Truth showed up, looked into the camera, and quacked... [C]
A Royal Rumble flashback was shown. They aired footage from the 1988 battle royal, which Jim Duggan won... The announcers hyped the WWE Championship match...
Powell's POV: Okay, I'm already excited about the Rumble match. It doesn't take much. Meanwhile, WWE is also doing a good job of consistently hyping the WWE Championship match.
[Q3] Wade Barrett made his entrance. Meanwhile, they showed footage of Barrett throwing Randy Orton down the stairs on Smackdown and then running away. Inside the ring, Barrett smiled after watching the footage on the big screen. Lawler questioned how he could smile.
Barrett said it's already a good new year because 2012 is completely devoid of Randy Orton. Barrett said he didn't plan to throw Orton down the stairs, but it was either him or Orton. He said Orton is just another victim of the Barrett barrage. Give it up! Anyway, Barrett turned his attention to the Royal Rumble match.
Barrett was eventually interrupted by Santino Marella's entrance music. Santino, who received a big ovation from the live crowd, made a few laps around the ring before joining Barrett for a verbal exchange. Santino boasted that he lasted longer than Barrett in the Rumble last year...
2. Wade Barrett defeated Santino Marella in 1:15. Santino went for The Cobra, but ate a kick instead. Barrett finished off Santino with the Winds of Change side slam. Cole said he believes Barrett will be a champion this year...
Backstage, the Bella Twins bickered while a paranoid Miz kept an eye out for R-Truth. Miz asked if they'd seen Truth. They said they've seen Little Jimmy. Miz started walking around the backstage area again. Truth emerged after Miz walked away. He looked into the camera and shushed the viewers... [C]
Powell's POV: It was disappointing to see WWE follow up Barrett's big injury angle with Randy Orton with a squash win over a comedy wrestler. It's even more important that they're still having him talk about the Barrett barrage.
3. Sheamus fought The Miz to an apparent no-contest in 0:45. Miz was paranoid while making his entrance, but he went after Sheamus to start the match and hit an early DDT. Sheamus came back and threw repeated punches at The Miz's chest. Miz fell off the ring apron and onto the floor. Miz got to his feet and ran away when Sheamus came after him.
"Yo, Miz," R-Truth said over the mic. "Surprise, surprise, surprise." Truth said he was watching Miz's match from the crowd and he ran into Little Jimmy. He listened to an imaginary person say that Miz needs to get got.
[Q4] The Miz headed back to ringside, where he was greeted with a Brogue Kick from Sheamus. Truth followed to ringside and grabbed a plastic water bottle, which he slammed over Miz's head. No, not that!... [C]
Powell's POV: The Sheamus shots to Miz's chest looked really vicious until Miz jumped up and ran into the crowd. Sure, he held his chest a bit, but those shots should seem devastating. If Vince McMahon was in one of his moods, then the ref would have DQ'd Sheamus for the repeated shots. Instead, Vince was in that mood where they don't need to announce match finishes.
At ringside, Cole and Lawler talked about Cole being hated by the users of WWE's latest likely failure of a social media site... Highlights aired of Dolph Ziggler pinning C.M. Punk with a distraction from John Laurinaitis last week...
Backstage, Josh Mathews, who clearly asked for and received more hair product from Santa Claus, interviewed Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero. Dolph talked about the country being dragged down in test scores by states like Tennessee. He said Mathews will remember where he was when Dolph became WWE Champion...
Backstage, Zack Ryder talked with Eve. Jack Swagger said an impostor was walking around with the U.S. Championship. Zack questioned where the person was even though Swagger was talking about him. Ryder told a lame joke about both of their names ending with "er" and sending Swagger to the "ER."
John Laurinaitis stepped between Ryder and Swagger. He announced that Swagger would team with Mark Henry and Kane to face Ryder, Big Show, and John Cena. Laurinaitis flashed an intentionally cheesy smile...
C.M. Punk was shown walking backstage. The announcers said the WWE Championship is up next... [C] Back-to-back Smackdown ads were shown...
Powell's POV: Has Eve ever enhanced any act they've attached her to? Cryme Tyme? Nope. R-Truth? Nope. Zack Ryder? Seeing is believing.
[Q5] C.M. Punk made his entrance for the WWE Championship and received a strong reaction from the live crowd. Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero were out next to a weak heel reaction. Justin Roberts handled the in-ring introductions for the title match...
4. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero) defeated C.M. Punk via countout in a WWE Championship match in 13:00. Dolph tried to drop Punk on the top rope, but Punk came up short and had a rough face first landing on the second rope. Ziggler was in control of the match when they went to commercial. [C]
After the break, the wrestlers were trading punches for the "yay" and "boo" reaction. Dolph went for the sleeper, but Punk countered with a nice suplex. Punk also hit a good, quick slam for a near fall. Dolph came back with a rollup, which Punk rolled through. Ziggler came right back with the Fameasser for a near fall.
Dolph hit a splash in the corner and the followed up with a big suplex of his own for another near fall. Dolph went for his finisher, but Punk held the turnbuckle and pulled the pad off in the process. Punk bulldogged Ziggler for a near fall and then motioned for the GTS.
[Q6] John Laurinaitis walked to ringside and pointed out the fallen turnbuckle pad to the referee. Punk went for the GTS, but Ziggler avoided it. After an exchange by the two, Punk locked in the Anaconda Vice. Ziggler tapped out and Punk stood up to celebrate, but the referee was still distracted by Laurinaitis.
Ziggler ran toward Punk, who ducked out of the way and ran him into Laurinaitis. Punk went for GTS, but Ziggler hit him with a series of elbows and flung him toward Lauraitis, who pulled the top rope down, causing Punk to tumble to the floor. The referee counted out Punk. Ziggler took the title belt (again) and went into the crowd with it while celebrating...
A graphic hyped the six-man tag match, and then the teaser video aired again. This time the graphic read, "He is Here"... [C]
Powell's POV: Punk vs. Ziggler was very entertaining after the commercial break. Unfortunately, the crowd didn't seem to take Ziggler as a real threat to the championship, and winning the match via countout after he tapped out isn't going to change that. I still can't tell whether they are setting up Punk vs. Ziggler or Punk vs. Laurinaitis for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. It could go either way, but I lean toward the latter occurring. Have they mentioned Brodus Clay yet?
Another Royal Rumble ad aired. The flashback focussed on Shawn Michaels winning the 1995 Royal Rumble match...
Powell's POV: Congrats to HBK for being one of the few people in the world who doesn't look like a complete tool when you see '90s shots of their mullets.
5. The Bella Twins beat Kelly Kelly and Eve in 2:00. Late in the match, Eve hit a nice moonsault on one of the twins, but the other twin broke up the pin attempt. Eve was pinned following the tired twin magic...
Powell's POV: It takes special talent to mess up a rollup, but I'll be damned if they didn't just pull it off at the end of the match.
Backstage, Punk stormed into Laurinaitis's office, where David Otunga was with the interim Raw GM. Punk said he could almost let last week slide, but now he did it twice. Laurinaitis announced that since Dolph beat Punk twice, he is giving him a title match at the Royal Rumble. Laurinaitis started to introduce himself as the special referee, but Punk cut him off and said he was going to jail for animal cruelty because he's going to beat him like a bitch if he screws him out of the title...
Powell's POV: So much for Punk vs. Laurinaitis at the Rumble. Obviously, Punk vs. Dolph will be a much better match, and Laurinaitis serving as special referee should help with the credibility issue that Dolph has with the casual viewers in terms of not coming across like a threat to the title.
[Q7] A 1/2/12 mystery video aired. The girl holds the key. "She has spoken," said the boy after the girl whispered into his ear. "It is time. The end of the world as you know it is here...now"...
An earthquake-like sound effect was used and shaky camera shots focussed on the live crowd. The lights in the building went out and it stayed dark. The crowd eventually started chanting "Y2J" and popped big when Chris Jericho was on the stage in a jacket that lit up as he did his familiar pose with his back facing the crowd.
Jericho headed to the ring to his "Break the Walls Down" theme song and yelled. "Come on, baby!" as he made it to ringside. Lawler said the Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rolla was back in WWE. Jericho was in smiling babyface mode as he played to the fans and slapped hands at ringside. He even did the old back into the crowd pose.
Jericho climbed inside the ring and the music stopped. The fans chanted "Y2J" and Jericho nodded along with the chants. "Come on, baby!" Jericho yelled a couple times. Jericho continued to play to the fans while flashing a big grin the entire time. He went back to ringside and took another celebratory lap around the ring.
Back inside the ring, Jericho pointed to various pockets of fans. Just as he was about to speak, Jericho dropped the mic and went back to his over the top celebration of himself. Another "Y2J" chant broke out. Jericho headed back to ringside and slapped the hands of the fans at ringside while taking yet another lap around the ring.
"Oh yeah!" Jericho yelled into the camera. Jericho grabbed a camera from one of the camera men at ringside and took a shot of the crowd. He went back to high fiving the fans along the entrance area and then headed to the top of the stage, where he continued to play it up for big cheers.
Jericho stood on the stage, smiled, and headed to the back without addressing the fans, which earned him some boos. "I'm not sure what we've just seen," Lawler said...
Powell's POV: I love it, but obviously anyone who was looking for instant gratification is going to hate it. Jericho was clearly being over the top with his babyface antics, and one can only assume that it's leading to big heel swerve. After all, there has to be a reason that the 1/2 videos were so dark. Jericho gave the fans a big return and left them wanting, well, something, anything more. David Lee Roth should ask Jericho if he can borrow that jacket for the big Van Halen press conference this week.
[Q8] [C] Ring introductions for the main event took place. Kane's music played, but he didn't come out. Rather, David Otunga walked out and said something to Justin Roberts, who announced that Kane wasn't participating. Roberts said they would proceed with a handicap match...
6. John Cena, Big Show, and Zack Ryder defeated Mark Henry and Jack Swagger in a handicap match in 8:25. Cena and Swagger started the match. Cena jumped out to the early advantage, but Swagger got a moment of offense and the show cut to commercial. [C]
Swagger was in control after the break, but it didn't last long. Cena made a hot tag to Big Show, who roughed up Swagger.
[Overrun] Swagger tagged in Henry. They fought to ringside, where Show slammed a chair over Henry's back. They pretty much disappeared after that, leaving Cena, Swagger, and Ryder. Later, Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on Swaggerand scored the clean pin.
Kane's music played and Cena went to ringside to meet him. Kane tore his way through the ring and attacked Ryder, who was selling an ankle injury. Kane put a smothering claw over Cena's face. Cena gasped for breath and was motionless once Kane released the hold.
Kane tried to pull Ryder through the hole in the ring, but Cena recovered just in time to save his little buddy. Pyro shot up through the hole in the ring as Kane's music played. Cena and Ryder sat in the corner and flashed looks of concern as the show went off the air...
Powell's POV: Another week without Brodus Clay. Unreal. Anyways, the outcome of the main event was predictable from the start given that jobber to the stars Jack Swagger was involved. The end of the show was quirky. The pyro shooting up through the ring was cool, but Kane's attempt to kidnap Ryder was odd. WWE tends to go a little too over the top with the Kane silliness. I can live with this angle, but I hope it doesn't get any campier than this.
The Jericho angle is definitely going to leave people talking. It's very similar to the return he made last time. There is plenty of instant negative reaction to it, but I have a feeling that the vast majority of those people will be watching next week to see where things go. I found it to be well done in that it gave the fans a big return, yet gave away nothing about the character's intentions. Again, those looking for instant gratification are going to hate the angle, but the only thing that matters is that they continue to watch and eventually get hooked on whatever his character is doing.
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