Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: The Rock and C.M. Punk, The Shield cost Ryback the TLC match for the WWE Championship, John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler opens 2013, Rhodes Scholars beat the tag champs
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
The Rock and C.M. Punk: An excellent exchange. The Rock delivered his fan friendly schtick and had a few laugh out loud moments, while Punk took it all with a straight face and returned fire with the key line of the night. "I'm going to kick your ass." That's what this was all about. Peel away the comedic lines, Rock playing to the crowd, Punk insulting the crowd, and it came down to The Rock telling Punk his time is up and he's taking the WWE Championship, and Punk standing his ground and saying that he's going to kick Rock's ass. That's good business. It's so much better than the gamesmanship that was used during Rock and John Cena's exchanges last year. It should not be about who can deliver the best insults or who can get the boys backstage to say "you really got him with that one." It should be about selling the wrestling match. We all got caught up in which guy got the better of the exchanges last year, but I'm very happy to see Rock and Punk take the more productive approach.
C.M. Punk's Pipe Bomb 2: I was concerned when this was set up as a Pipe Bomb on The Rock. The last thing WWE needed was another round of two main event wrestlers tearing each other down to the point that both men lose more than they gain. As compelling as a Punk tirade on Rock could be, it would not be the best thing for business. Rather, Punk tore into the fans of WWE with the continued goal of being the ultimate heel. The endorsement of Tyson Kidd and the complaints about the way Daniel Bryan and Brodus Clay will make the online fans feel all warm and fuzzy, but the bulk of the promo was Punk telling the fans he's in this for themselves and they don't matter. Cue The People's Champion. Well done.
C.M. Punk vs. Ryback in a TLC match: I was hoping for something a little less predictable than The Shield interfering, but so be it. This was a very good TLC match that would have worked in the main event slot of the show it was supposed to headline. Ryback looked strong and I believe this sets up a moment with him eliminating all three men from the Royal Rumble match, perhaps even at the very end of the match. Punk and Ryback made good use of the tables, ladders, and chairs. The match was laid out nicely and executed well.
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler: The setup was bizarre with poop dropping replays, wiener jokes, and some awkward first words from Big E Langston. Nevertheless, it was very good once the bell rang. Were the officials backstage watching the BCS National Championship? Shouldn't the second referee have immediately disqualified Ziggler for Langston's interference, especially since he'd already been banned from ringside? Again, though, a good match. If Cena kicking out of everything and going on to win this match annoys you then I have a feeling you're really going to hate WWE in 2013. If 2012 is being openly acknowledged as a down year for Cena, then 2013 will be the year of his redemption. Therefore, until I hear otherwise, I'm sticking with my belief that it will be Rock vs. Cena at WrestleMania 29, just as I've been saying since WrestleMania 28.
Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow vs. Kane and Cody Rhodes: There are only many No. 1 contenders matches that Rhodes Scholars can win. If WWE wanted to go back to a title match between these teams, then Rhodes Scholars had to beat the champs in a non-title match. I'm ready for a title change. My guess is that the esteemed Dr. Shelby will side with his fellow intellectuals and help Rhodes Scholars win the tag titles.
Eve vs. Kaitlyn: A cheap and effective finish. It's taken an ungodly number of matches, but it feels like they are starting to generate a minor level of interest in this program. You can tell because there are 20 fewer guys chanting "boring" at each show. Those 20 guys aren't cheering, but they aren't chanting boring. All joking aside, Eve continues to work hard, Kaitlyn has improved, and the finish put heat on Eve and gave viewers a reason to want to see a rematch.
Overall show: The loaded third hour saved the night. It felt like most of what occurred between the opening match and the TLC match was filler and at times it was downright dull. The final hour of the show was more than enough to make up for the mostly forgettable two hours that led up to it. It's as if WWE had the script to the BCS National Championship game and knew that the game would be a blowout, meaning there's a good chance they picked up bored football fans as the show went on.
WWE Raw Misses
Royal Rumble announcements: I would like to announce that I am in the Royal Rumble match. Apparently, that's all one has to do to get into the match that will determine one of the World Title challengers at WrestleMania 29. There haven't been any qualifiers. The general managers aren't announcing the entrants. Rather, the entrants are just announcing themselves. So why not me, dammit?!? Sure, I've never won a WWE match, but I have far fewer losses than 3MB.
20th Anniversary Raw hype: The video was nicely done and all, but the only thing advertised for next week's show is the return of Dr. Shelby. Yes, really, Dr. Shelby. I didn't expect them to give away the entire list of names from the past, but they could have done a better of teasing that there will be some blasts from the past.
Randy Orton: Did Orton really say Heath Slater won't be playing the air guitar, he'll be playing the harp? Come on, Orton is usually above these awful lines. Did he come up with that clunker himself? Has he lost his veto power?
Sheamus: Playful Sheamus in the ring is engaging and entertaining, as his match with Jinder Mahal showed. Funny guy Sheamus on the mic just isn't funny. I really dig the Sheamus character when he's fired up and plays it straight. The comedic Sheamus showed up again last night in the backstage skit with 3MB. I suppose it's hard to play it straight while playing off of that act, but the singing and the soprano talk just wasn't funny. By the way, why is Sheamus so happy? His character came up short in his attempt to take the World Hvt. Championship back from Big Show.
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