-Cheap plug: with Brock Lesnar now retired from UFC, seems inevitable that Vince McMahon will come knocking. As much as I love Brock as a performer, bringing him back has a negative side, as I indicate here. http://bit.ly/t8qFW2
-Live from Memphis, where a certain former champion named Chris was spotted at an airport earlier today. Chris Champion, your day has come!
Opening Segment: John Cena is Going to Talk
The crowd boos Cena. In related news, it rains in Seattle. Cena gets booed for wishing a happy new year. That’s COLD. Cena promises resolutions for 2012: wearing less underwear (err), banning his dad from WWE events (hey, I liked him!), and to prove to The Rock that he’s ‘lost his ladyparts’. Aside from that, Cena promises to keep his convictions and not change who he is as a person. Somewhere, Vince McMahon is nodding, oblivious to the discomfort of his staffers. Cena won’t judge the fans for their opinions, blah blah blah. Cena then whines about how Kane called him out on his demeanor, and Cena refuses to change because of his accusations. Kane’s music interrupts, and Kane’s voice makes ominous threats before the ringposts explode. Okay then.
Segment Rating: 4/10. Same as last week, except Kane didn’t show up.
I have no problem with Michael Cole in his annoyed Skip Bayless contraire role, as long as he doesn’t yell. Bryan goes nutzo with a kick flurry, but Rhodes responds with an arm whip drop. Rhodes works the arm and gets a short arm scissors, as we get a nice “DANIEL BRYAN” chant. Build them up, and the audience gains faith. Bryan mounts the comeback and launches Rhodes to the floor, and the World Heavyweight Champion follows with a suicide dive. Back inside, Rhodes hits the Beautiful Disaster for 2, much to Cole’s consternation. Bryan outwits Rhodes with an inside cradle to win. Bryan celebrates on the table to Cole’s further consternation. Bryan’s exaggerated celebration on the stage was disturbing, but in a fun way.
WINNER: Daniel Bryan via small package
Rating: 5/10. Too short, but fun while it lasted.
In Ring Segment: Wade Barrett
When Wade Barrett threw Randy Orton down those stairs, dozens of since-fired-and-forgotten WWE Divas no doubt felt a swelling of pride in their hearts. Their bags are safe for six months. Barrett says it was either him or Orton going down those stairs. He also enters himself in the 2012 in the Royal Rumble. Oh, and Santino Marella is out for a match.
Match 2: Wade Barrett vs. Santino Marella
Hey, it’s two of the final four from last year’s Rumble! Continuity is finally in practice in WWE canon. Santino busts out a “pop quiz, hotshot” to honor Dennis Hopper, and points out he lasted longer in the Rumble. Then he compares himself to a train. Yep. Santino splits to avoid a punch and Barrett kicks him in the face. The Barrett Barrrrrr-odge misses a corner charge, but avoids the Cobra. Marella eats post, and then the Winds of Change finishes.
WINNER: Wade Barrett via Winds of Change
Rating: 5/10. Useful squash, as Barrett’s good in the “weekend TV squash” role. I do love these types of matches.
Match 3: Sheamus vs. The Miz
So far, R-Truth has been stalking The Miz in a manner similar to creepy guys at college parties offering fizzy drinks to coeds. This won’t end well. Miz jumps Sheamus before the bell and ties his arm in the ropes, allowing for an unabated beating. Sheamus escapes and does the over-the-rope clubs emphatically, causing Miz to bail into the crowd. Miz gets up the staircase, and R-Truth taunts him over the PA system. R-Truth is finally spotted, and Little Jimmy references abound. Apparently, Little Jimmy doesn’t like The Miz! Miz is chased back over the rail, where he eats a Brogue Kick. Truth punctuates the beatdown with a water bottle shot to the head.
WINNER: No decision rendered
Rating: 4/10. Weird, but at least I’m into a Miz/Truth angle. I’d just rather Truth not be a clown is all.
Match 4: CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE Championship)
Please be at least twenty minutes. If you complain about WWE and you didn’t watch this match, kindly eat glass. Wrestling sequence begins things, and Punk goes to a full nelson grip into a waistlock. Ziggler gets a three quarter nelson, but there’s no count. Punk gets a backbreaker for 2. Ziggler gains control and takes Punk down with a right hand for 2. Ziggler misses a leaping elbow drop, and Punk responds with a scoop slam and leg drop sequence for 2. Punk goes to a chinlock, but Ziggler whips him off and hits an odd hotshot. Ziggler strikes away and gets 2. Ziggler finally lands the leaping elbow drop for 2. Dolph goes to a chinlock as the replay shows Punk landed awkwardly on that hotshot. Punk manages to kick Ziggler off through the ropes. Punk tries a suicide dive, but Dolph leaps up and strikes him. Dolph gets a rope snap to punctuate the blow. Ziggler takes over as we hit a commercial. Upon return, Punk and Ziggler are slugging it out, but Dolph gets the sleeper, countered by Punk with a back suplex for 2. Punk gets a leg lariat, but ZIggler catches the running knee with a forearm. Then Dolph runs into a Punk powerslam for 2. Punk and Ziggler exchange cradles, and Dolph gets a rocker dropper for 2. Ziggler gets a stinger suplex as well as a flipover back suplex for 2. Crowd’s buzzing and chanting Punk’s name as we build. Dolph tries the Zig Zag, but Punk forces him off, the turnbuckle pad coming off as well. Punk gets the high knee/bulldog for 2, and Punk calls for the GTS. John Laurinaitis comes out and calls attention to the turnbuckle pad. With the ref distracted, Punk gets the Anaconda Vice, and Dolph taps. Of course, the ref doesn’t see it. Ziggler charges but runs into Ace. Punk gets Dolph up for the GTS, but Dolph shoves Punk away and Ace low bridges Punk to the floor. Punk gets counted out, just missing the ten count. Ziggler celebrates with the belt, despite not winning it.
WINNER: Dolph ZIggler via count out
RATING: 9/10. Was building beautifully until the criminal ending. Let’s hope for a Rumble rematch. Call it ***3/4 on the outmoded smark scale.
Match 5: The Bella Twins vs. Kelly Kelly/Alicia Fox
From that last match to….this. Kelly stinkfaces Brie, which I guess is supposed to be painful. I can’t really be bothered, but the Bellas pull Twin Magic after an Evesault, and the other Bella pins Eve.
WINNERS: The Bella Twins
RATING: 0/10. Workplace equality and WWE clearly go hand in hand.
Editor’s Note: CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler was announced for the Royal Rumble 2012 with John Laurinaitis as referee.
End of the World: And it is…..
Chris Jericho, of course. And quite the snazzy light-up jacket as well. And apparently, he’s a babyface again. What will the smarks do without their smarmy heel Jericho now? Jericho milks the crowd for a bit, and then goes to high five the fans. I’m curious how this ties into the dark overtones of the vignettes. Indeed, a thunderous Y2J chant welcomes him. Jericho goes into screaming rockstar mode as he pumps the fans up. More crowd milkery ensues, as he’s really stretching this. Some boos actually seep in as they just want him to talk. Then Jericho plays “who’s the loudest side of the arena?” while dancing like a grinning fool. Then Jericho drops the mic…..only to pump his arms and scream again. Then Jericho goes through another hand-tagging session with the fans, as we’ve reached surreal territory. Then he takes the camera for a moment and messes around. More hand tagging! Now onto the stage for further pandering! Then……Jericho leaves?
Segment Rating: N/A. Errrrrr……
Crowd is still dead from Jericho’s bizarre performance. Kane no-shows, thus bringing Otunga out. Kane is apparently a self-scratch, so it’s now a handicap match in favor of the faces. Cena takes control early on Swagger, and Swagger escapes a facelock as we hit the break. We return with Swagger hitting the pump splash on Cena for 2. Cena manages to tag Show, and Swagger tags Henry. We get the staredown, and a slugfest develops. Show drops Henry with a diving shoulderblock. Show bashes Henry with a chair on the floor, getting himself DQed. Henry was counted out as well. Ryder gets the Broski Boot on Swagger. Rough Ryder aborted, and Swagger gets the ankle lock. Ryder manages to tag Cena, who goes into Cena Babyface Sequence. AA lands on Swagger, giving he and Ryder the win. Then Kane’s music hits, and Cena goes into the aisle to head him off. Instead, Kane comes through the mat and attacks Ryder. Cena runs back into Kane’s asphyxiator grip, and Kane chokes Cena out again. Kane returns to the ring to get Ryder, where he drags him back into the black hole. Cena manages to pull him out, but the hole catches fire, disturbing Cena and Ryder.
Winners: Team Cena
Rating: 4/10. Eh. It was eh.
OVERALL: Punk and Ziggler was awesome. As for 1/2/12, the internet is currently burning up that Jericho didn’t come out and cut some killer heel promo on Punk. Instead, he did an elaborate troll-job on the fans that will likely be explained soon. Beyond that, some decent filler action, and a rather cartoonish finish.
In all, this may be the most surreal Raw I’ve watched in some time.
And surreal is better than boring.
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.