ThunderStruck: RAW Analysis 11/21/11
Best pay per view since Money in the Bank? I’d say so. Enough on that. Let’s get to RAW!
Booker T is calling the show with Michael Cole as Lawler sits next to them with a weak voice from all the yelling at Survivor Series. I wonder if this will turn into anything. Also, why have King at ringside if he can barely speak?
We open the show with our new WWE Champion, CM PunK! Punk talks about wanting to be a pro wrestler when he was a kid and tells the fans the title is going to stay on his shoulder. He also starts to talk about getting rid of John Laurinaitis, and is then interrupted by him. Punk and Laurinaitis exchange words. Punk tells JL he doesn’t know what’s best for the WWE Universe because he won’t book Punk and Del Rio in a rematch right now, and because he won’t book Zack Ryder in a US Title match. Laurinaitis instead books Punk in a match with Dolph Ziggler tonight and Zack Ryder in a match with Alberto Del Rio. This was an entirely great opening to get Punk on the mic as new champion, but wouldn’t it be nice if Punk as champion didn’t feel so much like a watered down version of Stone Cold Steve Austin? Yeah, I’m gonna hear a thousand responses(or more like two or three) about how Punk is a much better wrestler than Austin ever was. Well, you’re right about that; I’m making the comparison based on popularity and defiance of the corporate model. It’s the exact same rebel type situation. I know they’re slowly moving out of the heavily watered down pg product, but believe me when I tell you that it can’t happen fast enough for me. Punk has the small guy weasel factor that Austin never had. He can really be that sneaky guy that puts things over on the man in charge left and right. WWE should let him become that person.
After the commercial we get a short video of The Rock after Survivor Series showing him putting over Zack Ryder to the MSG crowd. Ryder then has his match with Alberto Del Rio. These guys give us a quick match where Del Rio starts off dominant but Ryder gets in a counter and some offense. Del Rio then puts on the armbar like he pulled it out of thin air and Ryder taps out. If I’m WWE, I would have embraced this match for the potential that it had and given it some run time. Del Rio just lost the WWE Title and they could’ve used his anger as a way of his emotions getting the best of him with Ryder picking up an upset school boy or roll up of some sort to win. A squash match though? Really(break out the Miz repeats)? You’re going above and beyond at nearly every show to point out just how popular Zack Ryder is becoming, but you’re going to book the guy to lose a two second match when he’s trying to petition for a US Title shot? I don’t get it. Now, if that had been booked for Ryder to get the pinfall, you could’ve had these guys wrestle a second match where Ryder scores the “upset” again. Hey, it worked for Hall and Waltman. Either way, despite it’s length, it’s nice to see Ryder recognized enough to even be in a match with a guy that just lost the WWE Title.
In a repeat from last week’s show, we have former WWE Champion Sheamus taking on former World Heavyweight Champion, Jack Swagger. Again, really? These guys are capable of being entertaining, but in this match they just weren’t. Back and forth action that led to Sheamus getting the victory with the big kick. I understand the philosophy of not playing “hot potato”(credit CM Punk) with the championships as now being important to the company, but can’t we find some other way to get these guys over without putting them in the exact same matches repeatedly week in and week out? Sheamus is a main event contender. At least have the decency to give him a different opponent from week to week. Swagger, on the other hand, needs to try to generate some heel heat from the crowd a bit more often his matches. I don’t totally hate the guy, which means he could probably win me over for liking him as a heel. He just needs to show some personality(a stretch for him, I know).
Kevin Nash comes out and cuts a jumbled promo. He talks about Hall, Michaels, and Triple H and their friendship. He also talks about how he is the sole survivor of the group before walking off. During his blah-fest, he brought up defeating Bob Backlund for WWE Title at MSG. First of all Nash, the match was a joke and a ripoff for anyone bought tickets to show seventeen years ago. Second of all, as I just stated, that was 17 years ago! You’re boring and your mic work sucks! The fact that you held the WWE Title before Shawn Michaels and the fact that you were the first guy to win all three titles in the same year is just ridiculous! It goes to show that Vince McMahon has always loved the bigger guys and will always make a terrible decision when it comes to the bigger guys winning titles(Khali battle royal winner for the WHC if you want one of my better examples). Nash also said he and Triple h should have been in the main event against The Rock and John Cena. Really Nash? If you want my best example of how slow Nash is the ring, watch his match with Hulk Hogan from Road Wild ’99. Nash is overrated. It’s going to be sad to have to watch Triple H carry him through a match eventually.
In other news, Cody Rhodes is now wearing knee pads. It was good to see him and Wade Barrett as the sole survivors in the elimination match at SS. Rhodes cut a promo on Orton before taking on Santino Marella. Rhodes squashed Marella quickly, looking like a dominant champion for once. Michael Cole talked about Booker T having a problem with Rhodes during this quick match and Booker continued to talk bad about Rhodes even after he got the victory. Rhodes went over to the announce table when Booker was saying he wanted to see more from Rhodes. Booker said he no problem with Rhodes but Rhodes took a bottle of water and splashed it in Booker’s face. Booker looks pissed as Cody walks away. Booker takes off his jacket as Cole says how embarrassing this is for Booker. Cody Rhodes is a good IC champion and a few matches with Booker T should really help to elevate him to that next level. If Rhodes doesn’t work himself into the World Title picture on his own, then I see him winning a MITB briefcase next year and moving up quickly from there. It should be interesting to see what Booker has left in the tank also.
Dolph cuts a promo with Josh Mathews talking about how he was the only competitor to win two matches last night. Josh pointed out that Dolph was the first person eliminated from Team Barrett, but Vickie countered with the fact that Team Barrett still got the victory. I still think Dolph will turn face pretty quickly, but even if he doesn’t he’s still on my top five list of people to most likely win the Royal Rumble in January.
CM Punk took on Dolph Ziggler in a champion versus champion match. Booker T said something during this match about Dolph’s stock rising whether he won or lost. I’d have to agree with Booker on that comment as these guys gave us one helluva match. Punk led the pace of the match for the most part but Ziggler was in the fight right up until the very end. No exaggeration whatsoever, this match was good enough to be the main event of a pay per view. Punk will easily prove his worth as a fighting champion if he is continued to be booked in matches like this every week. Like I said about Dolph prior to the match, the guy is going places. It’s probably a bit early to make comparisons, but Dolph’s character is a perfect Luger/Hennig/Michaels combination. With a bit more work on his microphone skills, I see this guy being at the top of the company.
Big Show cuts a promo and says Survivor Series was an epic night. Show says he proved he was stronger, tougher, and better than Mark Henry. He references his elbow drop and says he proved giants can fly. He says Henry took the easy way out by getting himself disqualified. He reminds us that Henry got carted out even though he retained his WHC. Show says when Mark Henry comes back, he’s got something waiting for him. Show holds his fist up and tells Henry to bring the WHC with him. I’m expecting these two to have their rematch at TLC in what will most likely be a chairs match. It’s too bad though for all the other guys on the Smackdown roster that have been getting more and more attention recently to see Henry and Show do battle yet again while they wait in line for their respective title pushes. Another championship to keep guys relevant please?
Finally, just a backstage segment for the divas and no horrendous match to sit through! Now we’re talking! The ladies plug the WWE 12 video game and go back and forth with words. Great way for this show to not waste too much time on the divas.
Wade Barrett takes on Kofi Kingston. Before the match we get one of those little pre-taped videos of Barrett talking about his quest for the World Heavyweight Championship. I’d be shocked if the World Title picture didn’t contain Barrett and Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania. The surprising thing about this match is the fact that Kofi is so far from the WWE Title picture after having a major push just a short while ago. Orton’s music interrupted the match(music should never play during a match) and Orton distracted Barrett as he was attempting to hit his finisher on Kofi. Barrett rolls out of the ring to take a breather. After Orton sat in a chair, it becomes Barrett dominating Kofi with Orton looking on. I’m seeing these two guys give us a match at TLC for the number one contender’s spot. Kofi bounces back and mounts an offense until he gets hit in the gut and hit with wasteland. This was another good victory for Barrett. I think it would’ve been helpful for me to see Barrett do this from the start and work his way up. The whole Nexus angle was good, but Barrett essentially went from no. 1 contender a year ago to being a low mid card guy and has now worked his way back. I would’ve rather he just always worked his way up from the very beginning. Barrett and Orton had a staredown after the match that tells you these guys will give us a good fight soon enough.
John Cena comes out for the final segment of the show. The crowd doesn’t seem to care for him. Strange. Cena said history was made last night at Survivor Series. He plugs Zack Ryder for his popularit and Punk for being the new WWE Champion. He says he and The Rock were able to coexist as a tag team. Cena says the WWE Universe has always been honestly vocal with how they feel about him. True story. Cena says he loves it. He talks about how The Rock called him back into the ring after they won the back and how he probably wasn’t asking him back in to share a bowl of fruity pebbles. Crowd chants. Cena says he loves them for chanting about breakfast cereals on Monday Night RAW. He talks about getting rock bottomed. He starts to talk about WrestleMania and gets interrupted by Miz and R-Truth. Miz says last night no one wanted to see him and goes on about how last night wasn’t magic for Cena with how much the crowd hates him. R-Truth says he is going to enlighten Cena on what WM is going to be. He goes on a rant about The Rock destroying Cena at WM. This is hilarious. Cena tells him to shut up and says he is the only person they need to worry about right now. This is money mic work. Cena says the world found out two things last night. He said the world found out The Rock never lost it and nobody cares about either one of them. Cena says they tried to convince everybody they were a legitimate threat. He says to Truth that Miz thinks Truth was just riding his coat tails. He tells Miz that Truth thinks he’s pompous and a guy who’s biggest accomplishment was being a star on a crappy reality show. Cena says they should be booing themselves and walks away. Truth and Miz look at each other after Cena is gone. Truth asks Miz if he thinks he’s crazy? Miz calls him stupid and asks him if he realizes that Cena is just trying to pin them against each other. They bicker back and forth and Miz tells Truth that everyone is out there for him. Truth tells him he is about to cross the line and to not do something he will regret. They shove each other and Truth punches Miz. Miz gets up and tells him to calm down and that Cena is playing them. Miz says let’s get John Cena. They head up the ramp and Miz grabs Truth and hits the skull crushing finale on him! Miz stares down at Truth and walks to the back. Cole says Miz doing that to Truth makes Miz a legitimate threat. RAW goes off the air. You had to know that Truth and Miz wouldn’t be a tandem forever, but you have to wonder if this will turn into a double cross angle to screw over Cena. Maybe Cena and Miz will make a good heel stable down the line. Either way, I feel like this will make Truth’s character that much more fun to watch as he walks around solo talking to himself once again. Who didn’t love that?
While the booking wasn’t exactly how I would do it, the show was definitely set up pretty well. Ziggler and Punk gave us the match of the night and showed the crowd a glimpse into the pay per view future with their match. The divas didn’t take up too much time on tv. Miz and R-Truth now have a new direction to take things and the ability to give us good matches down the road. Wade Barrett continues his dominance after knocking off Kofi with Orton watching. These were all positives for me. While I love the recognition for Zack Ryder, they need to book him smarter. I suppose it’s cool if he loses to Del Rio, but that match needed to be much longer and showcase more of in ring ability. Mark Henry wasn’t on the show; this was most likely done to sell the injury from SS. It’s not a horrible thing to not have your World Champion on a show, but I would’ve been curious to see what he had to say for his actions at SS. That’s all for this edition. WW3 column will be out in the next week and Smackdown column will be up Saturday. Until next time, you’ve been ThunderStruck!
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