WWE RAW REVIEW - 28/11/11
The Big News: CM Punk defeated Alberto Del Rio to defend the WWE title, Roddy Piper tried to slap some emotion out of John Cena on a special edition of The Piper’s Pit and Daniel Bryan shut up Mark Henry with a kick to show his mettle for their upcoming World Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage match tonight on Smackdown.
In a Nutshell: A good night for pure wrestling fans with nearly 40 minutes of in ring action.
Piper’s Pit with John Cena opened the show. Piper talked about how his career was defined by crowd energy whether they cheered him and made him do good things or booed him and made him do bad things. With that in mind he called out John Cena and showed him the difference between the positive reception that greeted the names he dropped in Austin, Bret and The Rock compared to the usual mixed reception that occurred when he announced the name John Cena. Piper then went further talking about how everyone cheered for The Rock when he Cena with a rock bottom at Survivor Series and that if Cena didn’t address the increasingly hostile crowds then he wouldn’t have a chance at Wrestlemania.
Cena responded by respecting the point that Piper was trying to make but insisted that he had faced much worse crowd adversary in stadiums such as the Hammerstein Ballroom at ECW One Night Stand and that it didn’t bother him because he just cares about making his own loyal fanbase happy and rising above the hate that comes from others. He said that no matter what people might think or believe, he is comfortable in his own skin and knows that he can beat The Rock in Miami. Piper argued again however that unless Cena got rid of the denial then he wouldn’t be able to win at Wrestlemania. He said that he respected Cena for all his hard work and make a wish foundation and everything else but he then proceeded to hand him his hall of fame ring and said that from one hall of famer to a future hall of famer he wanted Cena to know that as long as he kept his true feelings restrained he wouldn’t be able to triumph.
Cena told Piper that he was in a good place but an enraged Piper slapped him across the face and asked him to feel the energy clearly wanting Cena to let off some steam by offering up a physical response. Cena however simply held out Piper’s hand to return the hall of fame ring and walked away with a hint of doubt spread across his face.
1) Falls Count Anywhere Match: The Miz defeated John Morrison via match stoppage
Miz attacked Morrison during his entrance with a lead pipe. Morrison was tended to by officials but insisted on starting the match and hobbled down to the ring to take vengeance on his former tag partner. Miz dove for the leg as soon as Morrison entered the ropes but JoMo was able to get in a brief flurry of offence before Miz kicked his right knee from the ground and went to town on inflicting more pain. After slamming the leg against the post from the outside Miz went underneath the ropes and unearthed a kendo stick which he cracked against the damaged area. Miz then launched the weapon at Morrison’s head but Morrison ducked a clothesline and retaliated with some brutal kendo shots all over the body of the Miz. Ouch!
Miz kicked out of a pinfall attempt at two and crawled up the ramp whilst Morrison used the kendo stick as a walking device to help him up the ramp. At the top though Miz tripped him, smashed his head into base of the WWE sign and then left his opponent unconscious with a skull crushing finale. The ref saw that the lights were out and called off the match with Morrison being taken off stage on a stretcher.
Post-match an ice cold Miz cut a short, quiet promo about how he had taken out Truth last week, Morrison this week and said “next week, we’ll see.” He then said that he is the only superstar who could make this kind of impact because he is awesome.
2) Kelly Kelly and Alicia Fox defeated The Bella Twins via pinfall Sloppy, short match with Alicia getting the pinfall on one of the Bellas with a rotating leg drop. ½ *
Backstage John Laurinaitis explained to David Otunga that the longer he held out on the debut of the repackaged Brodus Clay on Raw the more angry and determined he would be to prove himself when he eventually arrived. Del Rio interrupted and tried to convince Laurenitis that he was up for the task in tonight’s WWE title rematch against CM punk. Punk then arrived with some google hits comedy throwing in a particularly funny line about how when he typed in Otunga’s name in the search engine all that came back on the results page was information related to someone named Jennifer Hudson. Punk then let them all know that the title wasn’t going anywhere before leaving. Otunga said those words could constitute a threat about getting himself intentionally disqualified so Laurenitis decided that if that happened then Punk would lose the belt.
Wade Barrett came down to the announcers booth as Justin Roberts asked everyone to acknowledge his presence.
3) Dolph Ziggler defeated Randy Orton via pinfall Meet Dolph Ziggler’s new music, same as the old music. Randy prevailed after an initial test of strength by grabbing a headlock and then taking Ziggler down with a shoulderblock off the ropes. Ziggler got in some brief offence following a sneaky pinfall attempt but Orton ducked his charge to the corner and planted him with a clothesline causing a frustrated Ziggler to escape under the ropes.
Back in the ring Orton continued his momentum with some stomps and a supplex but Dolph avoided a knee drop and temporarily took control of the match with a mat based beatdown resulting in a couple of near falls. Ziggler then sent Orton to the outside and dropkicked him to the level of the steps when the viper attempted to return to the ring. Ziggler took to the outside to slam Orton’s head against the steps and then brought him back inside for another near fall.
Orton halted Dolph’s run by avoiding a body splash into the corner and taking Ziggler to the mat with a superplex following a back and forth exchange. Orton and Ziggler then went toe to toe with a display of fists and kicks with Orton getting the advantage and extending the offence to build into his signature build up moves with the clotheslines, scoop slam and a successful attempt of the rope assisted ddt. Orton then called for the RKO but Ziggler rolled out of the ring and told Vickie that it was time to leave. Meanwhile Barrett took his chance to approach the ropes but was taken out with a dropkick by Orton before he could make his presence felt. The distraction was enough however for an alert Ziggler to return to the ring and finish off Orton with a zig zag.
Post-match he then performed that glorious handstand on the outside.
Michael Cole interviewed Daniel Bryan and told him that he had been given the opportunity to take on Mark Henry for the world heavyweight championship. Bryan corrected Cole by saying that he had earned the shot. He then buried Cole as an announcer and said that whilst he didn’t expect him to be accurate or good at his job he had at least hoped that by now that he would have earnt some semblance of respect from the man. Cole argued that Bryan deserved no respect because he had shown himself to be a hypocrite by trying to cash in his money in the bank against a defenceless champion when he had promised to cash it in honourably at Wrestlemania. Cole then got all excited about how great it was to see Daniel Bryan’s dreams crushed when he realised that he wasn’t really the world champion following his three seconds of glory on Smackdown.
Bryan admitted that he was a hypocrite but said that sometimes plans change and when he sees someone like Henry try to end his career it makes him realise that his briefcase doesn’t guarantee him anything and thus he took his opportunity on Smackdown and will now have another opportunity to win the title on this week’s smackdown inside a steel cage.
Mark Henry interrupted with a mic in hand. He said that Bryan should be ashamed for trying to take advantage of a defenceless man and that Teddy Long should be ashamed for booking the steel cage match given his current condition but he said it didn’t matter because he is the worlds strongest man and would defend his title tomorrow night on Smackdown. Henry continued to fire trash talk at his rival as Bryan walked up the ramp and gave Henry’s legs a good pelting with one of his stiff kicks.
4) Zack Ryder defeated Jack Swagger via pinfall Swagger got on top early taking Ryder to the mat with a belly to belly supplex and pounding him to the ground until Ryder worked his way out of Swagger’s hold and landed a neckbreaker for a two count. Ryder then got out of a powerbomb attempt but was caught following a top rope dive and brought crashing down to the mat with a backbreaker. Swagger then attempted a swagger bomb but Ryder grabbed his foot. Swagger stomped his hands away and tried for the move again but Ryder kicked away at his jaw and managed to land the Rough Ryder for the win. **
Mick Foley came out dressed as Santa Claus to promote the live Smackdown show which he said would not feature Michael Cole and backstage CM Punk told John Laurinaitis that he could kiss his ass.
5) CM Punk defeated Alberto Del Rio via pinfall to defend the WWE title
Both men traded working over each others arm to start before Del Rio grounded Punk with an aggressive headlock. Punk fought back and sent Del Rio into the ropes where Del Rio proceeded to balance before Punk clotheslined him over the top and followed it up with a suicide dive.
Del Rio then worked the arm extensively in the mid portion of the match with Punk missing a sunset flip and a top rope dive when trying to form some comebacks and then being kicked square in the face after he had managed to fend off Del Rio with an armdrag. Punk finally got back in the match however after kicking Del Rio in the face as the Mexican attempted a top rope manoeuvre and earnt himself a near fall in the process. Punk slapped his arm to get some feeling back as both men rose to their feet and exchanged offence with Punk getting on top with some speedy kicks and hitting Del Rio with a neckbreaker and his high knee. Del Rio then countered a bulldog attempt into arm breaker and then countered a GTS into DDT for a two count.
Finish saw Del Rio remove the turnbuckle pad to distract the referee so that Ricardo Rodriguez could hand him the chair from the outside. Del Rio threw the chair towards Punk trying to get his opponent disqualified but Punk threw it back and the ref tried to disqualify Del Rio. Whilst Del Rio was protesting Punk nearly won with a roll up and then got the victory after planting Del Rio with the GTS on top of the turnbuckle. *** 1/2
Post-match Rodriguez argued with the referee about the outcome of the match and Punk took him down with a GTS and celebrated with his title to end the show. Analysis:
Did my eyes deceive me or have we actually just witnessed the start of some character development for the one dimensional superhero John Cena? Although I wasn’t a fan of his segment with legend Roddy Piper (see the bad) it was still music to my hears to hear Piper address the big elephant in the room concerning Cena’s humiliating ordeal at Survivor Series and what the Canadian sees as an unwillingness to confront his true emotions about the crowd. Although Cena stayed true to his convictions about being happy to please his loyal portion of a kids dominated fanbase it was still fun to see Piper try and literally slap some sense into him and to then witness the solemn poster boy merely leave the ring looking somewhat broken. It was a perfect finale to the promo which didn’t give away too much and left many wondering about the cracks that might be starting to appear underneath Cena’s tough façade.
Morrison’s superb extended sell job of his leg during his falls count anywhere match with The Miz left us all with a solid reminder of the talented performer that the WWE is saying goodbye to. Morrison is not a first rate technician but his unique, show stealing offensive style and his authentic displays of pain when receiving a beatdown are sublime and he has been one of the best workers in the company since his debut as Johnny Nitro. Whilst it’s sad to see him depart, it has to be said that Morrison is currently going nowhere in the WWE and I for one am very much looking forward to see him take on tons of fresh opponents when he inevitably signs with TNA. At this stage in his career, the change should do him a lot of good. I also didn’t think this was too bad of a send-off for Morrison as he came off as brave for going ahead with a match despite being savagely attacked and gave The Miz some good heat on his farewell. It was a much more valuable use of a departing wrestler than executing a childish squash.
With Punk’s refreshing mocking of the term sports entertainer on last weeks edition of Raw and two successive weeks of extensive in ring action it appears that we might be starting to see a revert back to the days of old where entertainment supported the wrestling as opposed to the other way round. Although the WWE network project would suggest that this is not the case at the moment Raw and Smackdown are both delivering a more concise, straightforward wrestling-centered programme with a reduction of silly backstage skits and mainstream pandering and I guess we should all enjoy it while it lasts. On this edition of Raw we were treated to three engaging matches in Ziggler vs Orton, Morrison vs Miz and Punk’s title defence against Del Rio and whilst neither match captured the magic of last week’s bout between Ziggler and Punk it was still great to see these performers being given ample time to show off their craft.
Mark Henry cutting one of his usual bad ass promos before being viciously kicked by an unintimidated Daniel Bryan was a nice little preview of some of the weapons that’ll be at his disposal when he takes on the worlds strongest man in a cage match for the world title on tonights live edition of Smackdown. Seeing as he still has the briefcase I guess the idea is for Bryan to be manhandled in the cage and then embark on a winning streak that puts him in a better frame of mind to challenge Henry again at Wrestlemania? That’s the road I’d go down anyway as Henry is still doing a great job as monster champ and Bryan needs a lot more momentum before he can be taken seriously in a world championship role.
I don’t know it it was some sort of obscure inside prank or just Vince losing his mind but watching Natalya and Beth Phoenix randomly jogging down to ringside during the Divas match and then jogging back up the ramp again put a smile on my face through its sheer oddness.
They eventually built to a satisfying dramatic conclusion but the majority of the piper’s pit promo bwith John Cena and Roddy Piper dragged unmercifully. The material was repetitive, there was no chemistry between the two men and their verbal delivery and physical mannerisms were very awkward and didn’t do an effective job of helping to tell the story that they were trying to tell. Piper, one of the greatest mic men in wrestling history appears to have completely lost his touch on the stick and up until being slapped Cena was doing a horrible job of absorbing Piper’s verbal blows. The idea of legends trying to stir up an emotional response from John Cena is a very good direction though especially as his character is supposed to have a love for the history of the business and its performers and it’d be great to see similar segments in the near future involving the likes of recently retired but still heavily admired stars and effective promo men such as Edge and Shawn Michaels.
Although it helped to develop the Barrett/Orton feud, Dolph getting a pinfall victory over a distracted Orton was actually counterproductive for both men. It is silly for Orton to keep losing matches in this manner because he is supposed to be a top face who rising midcard heels can work with to try and get to his level and it is much more effective for a guy like Ziggler to lose competitive matches to main eventers and gain respect in the process rather than be handed victory in such a flukey manner and lose the respect that the latter scenario affords him.
Michael Cole’s interview with Daniel Bryan was far too wordy especially for a limited mic worker like Bryan. The submission expert needs to be a guy who lets his wrestling do the talking because the longer he speaks the more his dangerous aura diminishes. With short, snappy promos he would earn more respect as a tough, no nonsense performer.
Jerry Lawler’s completely phoney appraisal of the WWE 12 game that he has clearly never played is just embarrassing to watch.
As was Mick Foley dressed as Santa delivering an atrocious rhyme to hype up this week’s Smackdown.
Some impressive booking and solid wrestling on a very strong edition of Raw.