12/10 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: WWE Champion C.M. Punk surgery update, Vince McMahon expected to appear, final hype for the TLC pay-per-view
By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Newark, N.J.
[Q1] A video recapped past events and hyped the new TLC main event... Justin Roberts introduced Dolph Ziggler, who was standing on a ladder that was set up in the middle of the ring with his Money in the Bank briefcase hanging above him. There were tables, ladders, and chairs set up on and around the stage.
Ziggler said he was right where he belonged - on top. Ziggler complained that "the golden boy" John Cena has been handed countless opportunities and failed to win a championship. Ziggler said Santa Claus (Vince McMahon) was forming him to put his MITB contract on the line.
Ziggler said he's going to be the coal in Cena's stocking. "I'm going to shut you up once and for all, I am going to beat John Cena," Ziggler said. Dolph said he's going to give himself the greatest present of all by beating Big Show and then go on to become the greatest champion of all time.
Sheamus made his entrance as Michael Cole (with Jerry Lawler) checked in on commentary. Cole explained that Sheamus and Show have a no-contact rule. Sheamus entered the ring while Ziggler remained on the ladder. Sheamus said he's going to beat Big Show and become the World Champion. He said that in order for Dolph to cash in on him, Ziggler would need to beat Cena. "I don't think that's going to happen, fella."
Sheamus teased the possibility of facing John Cena for the World Hvt. Championship. The crowd didn't pop the way you'd expect them to if they felt it was a dream match. Big Show came out mocking the idea of everyone saying they would beat him. Show said he hasn't decided whether he intends to knockout Show or use a chair to knock off his pale white skin.
Sheamus asked Show where his Christmas spirit was. Show said he had none. Sheamus told a bad nut joke and then said he's tired of the talking, but he can't have contact with Show. However, he said that doesn't mean he can't have contact with someone else. Sheamus pushed the ladder over and Dolph took a bump to the floor...
Backstage, Vince McMahon smiled as he walked through the backstage area... Cole hyped Big Show vs. John Cena in a non-title match for later in the show... An ad aired for the Rolling Stones pay-per-view... [C]
Powell's POV: A decent opening segment. I could have done without Ziggler looking like a moron for staying on the ladder when Sheamus came out, but I suppose his character is cocky enough that it makes sense. Dolph is getting better on the mic. I dig his solo act more than I did the played out pairing with Vickie Guerrero.
[Q2] Wade Barrett was in the ring for a match when Vince McMahon's music played. Vince strutted on the stage and was cheered. Vince put over the Show vs. Cena main event. Cena received a lot of boos when his name was mentioned. Vince called out Vickie Guerrero, saying he wanted to give her props for making that main event. Vickie came out to boos and bowed for the crowd per Vince's request.
Rinse and repeat the routine with Vince goading Vickie into what he wants. Through Vickie, Vince booked Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler as "a second main event." Vince brought up the idea of a third main event. Vickie suggested A.J. in a handicap match. Vince said A.J. in a match and then let the crowd anticipation build before he announced Vickie would be A.J.'s opponent. Vince introduced R-Truth for a match...
1. Wade Barrett vs. R-Truth. Kofi Kingston and Antonio Cesaro sat in on commentary. There are ladders and chairs set up near the announcers' table. Barrett got the better of Truth, who caught him with a roll up move and scored the pin. Truth went to ringside and got in Cesaro's face. Kofi went to the top rope and cross body blocked Barrett in the ring...
R-Truth pinned Wade Barrett in 1:40.
Powell's POV: Way to put heat on the heels going into the pay-per-view, WWE.
Cole hyped a four-way elimination tag match to determine which team will head to TLC "to battle to be the No. 1 contender to the tag team title." The four teams shown were The Uso's, Rhodes Scholars, Primo and Epico, and the Prime Time Players... [C]
Powell's POV: Way to put heat on the heels going into the pay-per-view, WWE. Cole's wording made it seem like the winners of the elimination match will have to win another match at TLC to become No. 1 contenders. They won't be challenging for the tag straps since Kane and Daniel Bryan are working the main event.
A Did You Know graphic boasted that WWE has ten top selling sports DVDs, including the Attitude Era checking in at No. 1...
Backstage, A.J. was giddy as she spoke with Aksana and then Kaitlyn about having a match with Vickie Guerrero. Vickie entered the babyface dressing room and found Cena talking with Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd, and R-Truth. A.J. hugged an uncomfortable Cena, who held up his shirt in front of A.J. while saying it was the men's locker room. He mouthed the words "I'm sorry" to the other wrestlers and then ushered her out...
Powell's POV: Cena held up a t-shirt in front of A.J.'s chest because she was in the men's locker room?
[Q3] 2. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow vs. The Prime Time Players vs. The Uso Brothers vs. Primo and Epico (w/Rosa) in a four-way elimination match. Cole noted that Cody has been on the injured list for a month and raved about how quickly he recovered. Cody grew a mustache while he was away. Cole said the winner of this match will face Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara at TLC to determine the No. 1 contenders to the tag titles. One of the Uso's pinned Primo to eliminate Primo and Epico at 3:00. [C]
Highlights aired from during the break of one of The Uso's hitting a top rope splash on Darren Young to eliminate the Prime Time Players. Cole and Lawler raved about the performance of the Uso's. The live crowd started a loud "Cody's Mustache" chant. Hilarious. Late in the match, one of the Uso's went to the ropes for a splash on Cody, who lifted his knees. Cody followed up with his finisher for the win.
Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow defeated The Uso's, The Prime Time Players, and Primo and Epico in a four-way elimination match.
The announcers hyped upcoming Raw matches, including Eve vs. Alicia Fox for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: It was good to see Rhodes back even with the cheeseball mustache and it was encouraging to see the Uso's treated like more than scrubs for a change. I can't say I'm all that fired up to see the pay-per-view match with Rhodes Scholars vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, though, as it feels like a repeat. The announcers are doing their best to make these seem like a huge show. It's a wise move since it's the TLC go-home show and because they are going against a huge football game.
[Q4] The announcers hyped the Slammy Awards for next week. All the voting will be done on the WWE app this year...
3. Eve vs. Alicia Fox in a non-title match. Alicia got some offense and performed an impressive fisherman's suplex for a two count. Eve came back and executed a neckbreaker for the win. After the match, Eve invited a cameraman into the ring to take photos of her mugging with the title belt while kneeling in front of the fallen Fox...
Eve defeated Alicia Fox in 2:30.
A shot aired of C.m. Punk walking backstage with the use of crutches. Paul Heyman was walking behind Punk with the WWE Championship...
Powell's POV: The Punk situation should have been a huge talking point. Vince McMahon came out to mess with Vickie and book matches, yet he didn't address the fact that the WWE Champion underwent knee surgery? They've also done nothing to establish the new TLC main event thus far. As for the Divas match, I like Eve's act and her posing routine afterwards was funny. She just needs a good babyface rival whether it's A.J. or someone else.
Justin Roberts introduced C.M. Punk, who entered on crutches and had shorts on to show bandages on his surgically repaired left knee. Punk and Heyman stood on the stage to deliver their promo. Punk said there are some people think he's faking the injury. He assured them that this is what happens when you work a grueling schedule and hold the WWE Championship for 388 days.
"It's a tough sport, ladies and gentlemen," Punk said. Punk set up video footage that he said would show exactly how he was injured. The footage showed Ryback roughing up Punk at the end of last week's Raw and powerbombing him through a table. Cole said that was where Punk was injured.
The crowd chanted "Feed Me More." Heyman said the fans are ticking him off, which led to big boos. Heyman took issue with the fans chanting "Feed Me More" at the WWE Champion just six days after surgery. Heyman said Punk needed emergency surgery. "He didn't have a stunt double like The Rock," Heyman said.
Heyman said Punk is standing before the people, whereas Rock was too busy to show up in "Well, I don't blame him, New Jersey." Heyman said Punk will defend the WWE Championship against The Rock at the Royal Rumble because he isn't going anywhere. Heyman gave the mic back to Punk, who said he wanted to address the vocal minority who want to see him stripped of the title.
[Q5] Punk said most of those people are Ryback. Punk challenged the fans to come strip him of the title if they felt that way. Punk said Cena, Big Show, Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio, The Miz, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Chris Jericho, and others couldn't take it from him. He said Ryback had two chances and failed. Punk said Rock gets one shot and he will also fail.
Punk said most people would be sitting in their beds icing their knee if they were in his position, but he said he will be at the show watch The Sheild do to Ryback what Ryback did to him last week. Punk added that he is not affiliated with The Shield. Punk's music played to close out the segment...
Cole hyped the TLC new main event of The Shield vs. Ryback, Kane, and Daniel Bryan... Cole hyped the triple main event... [C]
Powell's POV: The crowd booed Heyman's key lines, but they weren't as hot as most crowds are for Punk promos. It left me wondering whether the casual fans in attendance were unaware of his injury. It wasn't played up during the first hour of the show by anyone, so those fans may not have known he was hurt until he was shown walking with the aid of crutches. I am surprised that they didn't wait a week to begin the hype for Punk vs. Rock. They may have a hard time selling TLC without the WWE Championship match, and a match as big as Punk vs. Rock may cause some to pass on TLC and save their money for the Royal Rumble.
4. Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler. Dolph had his left hamstring wrapped. Sheamus worked over that area early on. Cole made it seem like the injury occurred when Sheamus pushed over the ladder earlier in the show, so it may just be a case of him selling. Sheamus threw Dolph over the top rope and he didn't favor the leg when he landed.
[Q6] [C] Ziggler controlled the action after the break. He made the mistake of jumping off the ropes toward Sheamus, who caught him and slammed him down. Ziggler caught Sheamus on the ropes and performed a Facebuster off the top for a good two count. Sheamus came back with an Irish Curse backbreaker for a good near fall of his own.
Sheamus went to a corner and set up for the Brogue Kick. Dolph avoided the kick and skipped out to ringside. Dolph picked up a chair and jabbed Sheamus in the gut with it for the DQ. Dolph brought the chair inside the ring and slammed it over Sheamus's back. He went for another shot, but Sheamus Brogue Kicked the chair out of Ziggler's hand. Ziggler fled...
Sheamus defeated Dolph Ziggler by DQ in 15:20.
The announcers spoke about The Muppets serving as social media ambassadors and hyped the main events...
Powell's POV: Really good action. Ziggler continues to shine and it was nice to see him protected via the DQ finish. There was no sign of Ziggler having a groin or hamstring issue. If he was selling the ladder bump then he forgot to continue to sell it once they were a couple minutes into the match. It's not a big deal unless they try to tell a story based around the injury. Either way, that was a hell of a TV match.
[Q7] [C] Backstage, Vickie Guerrero was stretching out for her match when Great Khali and Hornswoggle entered her office. They helped her stretch out when Vince McMahon entered the room and found them in an odd position. "I thought this was supposed to be a family show," Vince said. The crowd laughed.
Cole laughed hardest at ringside and then set up footage of The Shield attacking Daniel Bryan and Kane on Smackdown. Footage aired of the trio speaking into a handheld camera. They said they don't just know injustice, they've lived it. Seth Rollins said they don't work for anyone, they work for each other...
Ricardo Rodriguez introduced Alberto Del Rio. Cole said there were rumors all day that The Shield were in Newark... [C]
5. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Zack Ryder. Ryder's father and the crew from his Youtube videos were in the crowd. A "Let's Go Ryder, Woo Woo Woo" chant broke out with some fans. Ryder got some early offense, but Del Rio worked over his arm at different times in preparation for his finisher.
[Q8] Late in the match, Ryder lifted his knees when Del Rio charged toward him in the corner. Ryder played to the crowd and went for his Broski Boot, but Del Rio avoided it and locked him in the Cross Arm Breaker for the submission win...
Alberto Del Rio beat Zack Ryder by submission in 6:25.
The announcers hyped Del Rio vs. Ryback for Wednesday's Main Event television show... [C]
Powell's POV: Ryder had more support than usual, but it's certainly down from what it would have been in this same arena when the company was pushing him. Hell, he got a better reaction when people were buzzing about his online show and the company hadn't done anything with him. It's a shame that the guy got himself over and the company failed to do right by him. We've reached that part of the show where it feels like things are dragging.
A.J. made her entrance. Vickie Guerrero followed with her entrance. There was no referee. "Where's the ref?" Vickie yelled at the announcers. A.J. looked to the stage and noticed Brad Maddox slowly walking to the ring in WWE referee gear. A loud "You Can't Wrestle" chant started as Maddox entered the ring...
6. A.J. Lee vs. Vickie Guerrero. A.J. wasn't happy about Maddox reffing the match. He called for the bell and Vickie used the distraction to jump A.J. from behind.
[Q9] A.J. fired up and eventually caught Vickie with a punch. A.J. covered Vickie, but Maddox didn't count. A.J. got up and walked toward Maddox. Vickie rolled up A.J. and pinned her while getting a fast count from Maddox.
Vickie Guerrero pinned A.J. Lee in 2:15.
A.J. threw a fit afterward by throwing chairs around and ripping the cover off the announcers' table. She pushed a ladder over, screamed at the top of her lungs, and slapped Justin Roberts across the face... [C]
Powell's POV: New Miss Elizabeth my ass. Maddox played his part well with the smug expressions. Did he get his contract in exchange for helping Vickie or is he back as a heel referee? My guess is the contract. You'd think Vince McMahon would be bothered by this, but they may just ignore that.
A.J.'s annoying tantrum continued backstage. John Cena showed up and tried to calm her down. He hugged her as she sobbed...
7. Kofi Kingston vs. Antonio Cesaro in a champion vs. champion match. Cesaro cut a promo while making his entrance. He said America has gone rotten, especially in New Jersey. Cole recalled that this match took place on WWE Main Event and broke down before they sent to a tag match instead.
Cesaro dominated the first four minutes of the match. Kingston came back and the live crowd didn't fire up with him. Cesaro cut off Kington's comeback with a big boot in the corner heading into the break.
[Q10] [C] Cesaro showed his strength by picking up Kingston off the mat, but Kingston rolled him up for a good near fall. Lawler told a Swiss Miss joke. Ugh. Cole even mocked it. Some audible boring taunts could be heard as the match continued. Later, Kingston hit the SOS and had Cesaro pinned, but Cesaro reached out and grabbed the bottom rope with his hand to break the count.
Kingston went for a top rope move. Cesaro caught him and turned it into a backbreaker. Cesaro set up Kingston and executed the Neutralizer and got the clean pin. Cole said it was an even match until the end...
Antonio Cesaro pinned Kofi Kingston in 13:50.
Cole hyped Miz TV with Rhodes Scholars as his guests... [C]
Powell's POV: This wasn't a bad match by any means. It was a little slow at first as most Cesaro matches are, but the live crowd was clearly fatigued as most live crowds are at this same point in the three-hour shows.
[Q11] The Miz hosted his talk show with his set located on the stage. Miz wore a white suit that Daryl "Moose" Johnston would love. Miz questioned whether Cody grew the horrible mustache or if it rubbed off from Sandow's beard. Miz tried to stir the pot by saying one of them was the Marty Jannetty of the team and that Cody is always living in someone's shadow. Cody proclaimed the interview over and they walked off. Mizz dubbed them The Pink and The Stink...
John Cena was shown walking backstage like he normally is before his matches when A.J. caught up to him. She wanted to be at ringside for his match. Cena talked to her like she was six by saying the best thing was for her to stay backstage. She reluctantly agreed... [C]
Powell's POV: WWE better not send Cody Rhodes to any Be A Star appearances because someone will see that mustache at an elementary school and immediately call the cops.
Lawler announced that there will be a No. 1 contenders Santa's Helper Divas battle royal held on the free preview show... Cole hyped Cena's appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon for Thursday night... Entrances for the main event took place...
[Q12] 8. Big Show vs. John Cena in a non-title match. Dolph Ziggler sat in on commentary. Cena wore down Show with an early sleeper hold. Cena went for a cover and Show threw him off. Cena went for the Attitude Adjustment, but collapsed under Show's weight. [C] An ad for Smackdown did not hype any particular matches, yet seemed to imply that The Shield will appear.
Show controlled the bulk of the offense after the break. Cena made his comeback late after Show missed a Vader Bomb. Cena performed his signature spots, including the Five Knuckle Shuffle. However, Show stood up and chokeslammed Cena for a two count.
Show played to the crowd and then set up for the knockout punch. Cena avoided the punch and then performed the Attitude Adjustment on Show. Seth Rollins hit the ring and attacked Cena to end the match.
Big Show fought John Cena to an apparent no-contest in 13:55.
Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose joined Rollins in attacking Cena. Lawler asked Ziggler if he had anything to do with it. "I don't even know who these guys are," Ziggler said. The attack on Cena continued until Kane's music played. Kane and Daniel Bryan came out and fought The Shield. Cena recovered, but Ziggler entered the ring and attacked him. Show recovered and attacked Cena.
Sheamus's music played and he ran down. Cole said Sheamus had to be careful to avoid contact with Show. Sheamus fought Ziggler. Cena speared Show into a table that had been set up in the corner of the ring. The Feed Me More chants fired up as The Shield members gained control.
Ryback's music hit and he walked to ringside. The Shield members looked down from the ring at Ryback. He picked up a ladder and threw it at them in a cool moment. Ryback entered the ring and fought Reigns. The brawl with all of the wrestlers fighting continued to close the show... [C]
Powell's POV: A strong finish to a show that really dragged during the third hour. I enjoyed the big brawl, but the lack of hype for the new TLC main event was surprising. Viewers saw Ryback for roughly a minute, Bryan and Kane for little more, and what is quickly becoming a routine attack by The Shield late in the show. I was hoping for some new mic work from The Shield members regarding the match, and Kane and Bryan as well.
There was the usual good amount of in-ring action on the show and the Sheamus and Ziggler match was the best of it. This wasn't a hot go-home show until the last couple minutes and I suspect that was hot enough to seal the deal with pay-per-view buyers who were on the fence. I'll have more to say about Raw in Dot Net Members' audio later tonight. Check back on Tuesday for my WWE Raw Hitlist.
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