Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: C.M. Punk, Ryback, and Jim Ross, Antonio Cesaro's decisive win over Brodus Clay, Sheamus and Big Show debate, A.J. gets an executive coach, Dolph Ziggler stands out for the wrong reasons
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
C.M. Punk, Jim Ross, and Ryback: This was one of my favorite segments of the year. Sure, we've seen Ross receive similar treatment in his hometown, yet this still felt fresh. Punk is delivering truly memorable mic work at least once a week, and Ross's inspired response to his verbal assault made for great television. WWE also took another big step forward in creating a star in Ryback by having him come out to save the day. The stare down between Punk and Ryback was intense, and it was a fitting end to see Punk take the walk of shame by being the first to blink and leave the ring.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Brodus Clay: I was shocked to see a one-sided victory for Cesaro. I couldn't have ben the only person who went to the WWE website this morning wondering whether Clay would be taking a 30-day vacation. Instead, it appears this is just a case of WWE giving Cesaro a dominant win and perhaps the beginning of a big push. Good move. Michael Cole and Jim Ross did a great job of putting over the way Cesaro was able to execute his finisher on a super heavyweight (unlike Ryback).
Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow: A solid time killing match. I hope Sandow's stay in the tag division doesn't last long because he has breakout potential as a singles wrestler. It was a bit deflating to see him hold his own with Sheamus throughout the match only to be on the receiving end of a Brogue Kick that took out both he and Rhodes. I didn't have a problem with Sandow losing, yet while the Brogue Kick was crowd pleasing, it also made Sandow and Rhodes look bush league.
Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. C.M. Punk and Dolph Ziggler: The ring work was very good whenever Punk and Bryan were in the ring together, which shouldn't surprise anyone. However, the focus of the match was on the personalities involved more so than the actual match. I didn't know how I was supposed to feel as a viewer watching this. I guess Kane and Bryan are babyfaces just because they've been in some comical skits, and I'm never sure what they want me to feel about A.J. It felt like this main event was more about killing time than forwarding storylines.
The Miz vs. Zack Ryder: Mark it down, The Miz actually scored a clean pinfall in a televised non-title match. The finishing sequence was strong with Miz throwing Ryder into the corner and then hitting his finisher. We need to see a lot more of this from Miz going forward in order to take his character seriously again.
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. Primo and Epico: The outcome was predictable, yet it was a solid higher energy opening match. I still wish creative had more in mind for Primo and Epico. That said, it was nice to see Mysterio and Sin Cara dress like a tag team, and I like the way WWE is spreading out the tag tournament over all of their television shows.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston: A good clean win for Del Rio coming off his injury angle with Randy Orton. Ricardo Rodriguez was great on commentary. I cracked up when he put over Michael Cole in a big way and then said, "Oh, hey, J.R." Ricardo is has such a fun personality that he even made me chuckle at a Little Jimmy joke for the first time ever.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: It might seem odd to give a show a Miss when there are so many Hits listed above. The majority of the Hits are in the very minor category. Granted, this isn't a major Miss of a show either. It just felt like another filler episode while they kill time before kicking in the real hype for the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. The first two hours were mostly lifeless. The third hour was much better this week thanks in large part to the excellent Punk and Ross segment. I just don't know if the first two hours were lively enough to keep viewers watching that long, though WWE may have caught a break with the NFL game becoming so lopsided. I'm very curious to see how Raw held up against the game that featured two major market teams in the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys. Oh, and my condolences to anyone who started Tony Romo last night.
Sheamus and Big Show debate: This was one of the worst segments of 2012. It seemed like creative felt like it would be topical if they spoofed the U.S. Presidential debate two nights before it takes place, yet they didn't take the time to come up with anything beyond that. Did Sheamus really go for the cheap pop by mentioning the host city? I enjoy Sheamus in the ring and I want to like his character, but his comedy felt like material that John Cena rejected.
Opening segment: Punk and Heyman were great, but I didn't care for the serious Punk character being thrown into the mix with the more comedic Kane and Daniel Bryan duo and Vickie Guerrero. As high as I am on Dolph Ziggler, someone really needs to have a long talk with him about his choice of clothing. The '80s style loud t-shirt, jacket, and now the Chuck Taylor shoes made him stand out in a really bad way when everyone was in the ring together.
Ryback vs. Tensai: It looked bad when the power guy failed twice to pick up Tensai for his finisher. On the bright side, Ross did their best to save it by saying crediting Tensai with blocking the move and then Cole spun it by saying that Ryback's clothesline is another weapon in his arsenal.
Christopher J. Stevenson and A.J.: Did they have a drawing at WWE Headquarters that allowed one lucky employee to be cast in a role on Raw? Stevenson added nothing to the broadcast and it seems like creative is really reaching to find ways to put A.J. on the show for multiple segments.
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