WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Dec. 2, 2013) from the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, featuring all the latest build to the upcoming TLC pay-per-view (PPV) on Dec. 15 in Houston, Texas.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions. Remember, these were written as the show moved along with real time reactions to everything that occurred hour-by-hour.
- How nice is it that instead of some half cocked explanation from Michael Cole during a silly squash match, we got CM Punk coming out and legitimately pushing the storyline further between himself and The Shield, namely why they would attack him. Such a simple thing like connecting the dots between his having made disparaging remarks toward Triple H and later getting attacked by The Shield. These are some of the storyline issues we complain about so often, the kind of thing Vince McMahon tells his writers to just blow off in backstage segments. None of that with The Authority.
- Stephanie McMahon is still one of the best heels in the business and none of you will convince me otherwise. "I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving holiday." That fake ass smile, that incredible delivery. Glorious.
- Corporate Kane is the best. We kind of sort of got a segment that featured Corporate Kane arguing with CM Punk and I actually enjoyed the hell out of it. I just hope this lasts longer than a month and he sticks with the new character, even when he goes back to actually wrestling.
- I'm not sure WWE has ever presented a vote exclusive to the WWE App that ever held enough appeal to force me to consider downloading it to vote. That changed last night with the option to vote on what they should call the new champion coming out of TLC. It's not enough to get me off the idea that a swerve is coming and there won't be only one champion coming out of the show, but the point is the App became useful last night. I legitimately never thought I would say that.
- Props to JBL for actually asking Big E. Langston about his relationship with Dolph Ziggler while the Intercontinental champion was on commentary during Ziggler's match with Damien Sandow. And props to Langston for giving a proper enough explanation that we don't have to feel bad about the lack of resolution. Really, there doesn't always need to be resolution.
- What's this? They jobbed out Sandow forever, had him lose his Money in the Bank contract cash-in match for the world heavyweight title, and are now pushing him into an Intercontinental title match on PPV against Langston? Is there any way in hell this ends well for him?
- I would say "poor Dolph" here but it's hard to feel that way anymore. It's just been beaten out of me. He'll bump like crazy, have good matches, and be generally entertaining while he's in the ring. But he's probably never reaching that point where the creative team will be tasked with going out of its way to make something happen for him. He just won't become that big of a star and while I used to hope he would, he's been held down for so long that it's easier just to accept his position.
- I love Tamina Snuka getting double teamed and dropped kicked out of the ring by the Bella Twins and AJ Lee's reaction is to get pissed about it like Tamina isn't doing enough. I love it even more that she gets rolled up and pinned, starts to get moderately upset about that fact, then quickly remembers she doesn't give a shit and skips around the ring with her belt before asking Tamina if she's cool. I feel like if Triple H did this, we would kill him for burying the wrestlers who got over on him because doing this kind of sort of means they wouldn't have gotten over on him. But it's the Divas, and it's AJ, and no one really seems to care.
- BAD NEWS BARRETT!!!!
- So the Daniel Bryan deal over the past week is pretty funny when you think of it. First, he's kidnapped and apparently left to die somewhere. Then there was creative confusion over how to explain what happened, as an angle was shot with Nikki Bella consoling her sister Brie -- Bryan's wife to be -- saying they knew where he was before CM Punk later remarked on SmackDown, which aired Friday, that he still hadn't been found. On that same show, Bray Wyatt cut a promo that Bryan would be safe with the Family, gone a man but to return a monster. Meanwhile, Triple H's interview with Michael Cole, which ran Wednesday, mentioned something about his being found in a ditch. Then here he is on Raw with next to no explanation on it to work a singles match against Erick Rowan. Not only that, they promoted his appearance on the Steve Austin Show, a recording that took place during the previous week when he was supposed to be left dying somewhere, not seen by anyone. The ultimate explanation from Cole when the match started? "All we know is Bryan was left in a parking lot near the arena LAST WEEK." What a modified clusterfuck this turned out to be.
- Well, at least Bryan still managed to have a relatively fun match against Rowan.
- "How long until they discover that your dirty little feet are soiling their red carpets? ... They can't love you, not like I can, Bryan. Together, we can tear the walls off this place." That Bray Wyatt promo was so fucking good, I wanted to join him myself. I badly wanted Bryan to turn right then and join the Family and do exactly like Bray said: tear the walls down and bring the entire fucking system to its knees. The promo worked so well because Bray had a reason to say everything he was saying. There was real direction, motivated by everything that has transpired over the past few months. So beautiful.
- Brodus Clay's ring gear slays me. He really is a big ass dinosaur who gyrates wildly while shouting out randomly. And he loses a lot. To the Xavier Woods' of the world. I'm just happy there's a real storyline attached to it, one that leaves the door open for Clay to finally turn heel and go all monster hulk smash on everyone.
- After the rumors emerged of WWE hoping Sin Cara vs. Rey Mysterio could be a WrestleMania 30 match, complete with an attempt to break the record for the most masks worn in a single arena in one night, I can't help but wonder if that's why Sin Cara went over clean on Alberto Del Rio last night. After all, that was the eighth time the two met in a singles match and the first time Sin Cara emerged victorious. Either way I could hardly concentrate or care thanks to that awful lighting they insist on using.
- Call me crazy, I enjoyed John Cena's promo on possibly becoming the new Unified WWE World Heavyweight Undisputed Champion of Champions.
- Why are The Shield in a dimly lit room, all oiled up, and whispering into a camera? You know what, let's just move on.
- Man, Big Show was such a failure in his brief push that he was written off TV with a concussion for all of one week and brought back to absolutely no fanfare. There was no big promotion for his return, no marketing gimmick, no renewed focus on his situation, one that dominated TV for the past few months. Just a simple one-liner from Michael Cole that he's medically cleared to compete again so he's back.
- I was genuinely excited for another Shield six-man tag but the first 10 minutes was dedicated to Show treating it like a handicap match and taking on the entire trio. Credit to Reigns and Ambrose for the sell jobs on the chops to the chest, though. It got much better once it became more of a standard tag team affair and the streak of great Shield matches has continued.
- Side note: Big Show should never, ever be put in the "hot tag house of fire" role.
- BAD NEWS BARRETT!!!!
- No, really, the Bad News Barrett gimmick is great but I love that it isn't even being adapted for pro wrestling. They literally just put him out there and found something negative for him to say and interrupted the show to let him say it, complete with a podium set up and everything. That's amazing. "Ladies and gentlemen, I've got some bad news. You're all fat and dumb."
- I'm glad we were spared a legitimate entrance for Curtis Axel. I am not, however, happy about having to watch him on Raw when there are far more interesting performers who aren't getting that valuable time. Instead of someone like, say, Antonio Cesaro, we get The Miz teaming with Kofi Kingston against Ryback and Axel? And it's all just a set up so Miz and Kofi can turn on each other again? Just awful.
- Los Matadores was tasked with selling WWE merchandise. Then El Torito got loose and ran wild like a bull in a WWE shop.
- Quite the fall from grace for Fandango. Remember when he went over clean at WrestleMania, on Chris Jericho no less, and Fandangoing became a thing that felt fresh and nice until WWE got its filthy hands on it and killed it dead? Yeah, now he's jobbing to Mark Henry with no storyline direction related to anything other than Total Divas, which was taped months ago. Yeah.
- Speaking of Henry, the stuff with Langston seems to have fallen away rather quickly. He's also working as the big monster babyface, which is a really hard act to pull off. It's what leads to his acting silly and sexually harassing Summer Rae after beating up her boyfriend. Because in WWE, that's what the good guys do.
- Someone thought it was a good idea to run a SmackDown recap from last week on Raw this week. That SmackDown recap? A dramatic rendering of Titus O'Neil eating a shit ton of food, taking the Giant Swing from Antonio Cesaro, then puking in JBL's hat before dumping it on Michael Cole. I just can't with this shit sometimes.
- So we do get Cesaro but it's in an angle where Zeb Colter is still super upset about getting puked on by O'Neil last week. PTP is no longer short for Prime Time Players, it's now Prime Time Pukers, according to Dirty Dutch. Now that's clever. The match was made worse by WWE acting like O'Neil was in some sort of danger of puking again, like he had a sickness that wasn't brought on by eating a ton of food. This was just dumb.
- Well, it's nice that Stephanie McMahon took time out to let us know that they really, truly, honestly mean that TLC will end with ONE titleholder. UNDISPUTED and UNIFIED. Something like "there, we used that word, shut up about the possibility of a swerve, it makes it harder to swerve you." Or something.
- The contract signing was awful. At one point John Cena told Randy Orton, "I'm not an Apex Predator, I'm just John Cena." That pretty much said it all. Orton tried to play the "we all hate you" card to play to the crowd but no one cared. Cena alternated between jokey and serious, goofy and tough. The signing followed the usual formula. Talking, putting pen to paper, then brawling.
- Actually, I was shocked they gave away as much as they did. By the end, it wasn't a brawl so match as a mini-match. I get the idea behind giving fans a preview and hoping they pay for the complete version later with the belts actually on the line, but you run the risk of giving away too much and killing any enthusiasm for what's to come later. The bigger problem, too, is this felt like a go home angle and there's still another episode of Raw left before the PPV: the Slammy Awards or, the biggest waste of time ever. Joy.
Not their strongest effort but the good news is the Saints vs. Seahawks Monday Night Football game on ESPN was a blowout and got out of hand early.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts in the comments section below. How did you feel about last night's show?