Precap to the Dec. 3, 2012 episode of WWE 'Monday Night Raw', or the more things stay the same

Previewing the Dec. 3, 2012 episode of WWE Monday Night Raw featuring the reigning WWE Champion CM Punk, the repercussions of the Shield's continuing attacks on Ryback, and the ongoing saga of John Cena, AJ Lee, Vickie Guerrero, and Dolph Ziggler.

Punk! Ryback! Ambrose! Rollins! Reigns! The Shield From Injustice! WWE Championship!

Things are getting pretty interesting in WWE right now.

Last week (Nov. 26) featured a few advancements for Monday Night Raw's main event. First, the trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns explained their motives for attacking Ryback. They are defenders of what is right and assailants to what is wrong. They are standing up to misdeeds that are ever present on Raw. They are a shield from injustice.

They are The Shield.

Some people have a problem with the name, and I can see why. It doesn't really "stand out," so to speak. However, I'm personally not too upset with it. You can have the coolest name in the world, but if you don't have the talent to back it up the stable is just going to fall flat. The corollary to that is even the worst gimmick can get over if you give it to the right people. Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns are good enough to get by with such an average name.

I have no doubt about that.

Second, Ryback opened the show last week, cut a solid promo about how he would not be leaving the ring until he was granted a WWE Championship shot, and forced Vickie Guerrero to give into his demands. So we have CM Punk defending his title at TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs against Ryback.

That will be a fun match. And I'm only half sarcastic when I write it.

I'll say this about Ryback; the guy just feels like a pro wrestler. And I'm not talking about those vanilla midgets who are shorter than the top rope. This guy is built like a house and looks like he could seriously wreck someone's stuff up. Even though he talks in cliches and soundbites, it works for him. When John Cena or Sheamus start screaming, they sound like complete goofs. When Ryback starts screaming, you pay attention.

I particularly enjoyed how he pro-noun-ce-d ev-er-y syl-la-ble that left his mouth. Watch for it next time.

Finally, we have CM Punk on day 379 of his reign with the WWE Championship. Only Cena's run of 380 days stands before him, before we get into the old school championship reigns.

I don't care how optimistic Punk is, I don't see him holding the strap for over a thousand days.

This really is huge. The guy who started his WWE career riding with a tommy gun as part of Cena's entrance at WrestleMania 22 -- which, seriously, how bad was that? -- is now a few short hours from matching Cena's greatest feat. For Cena, winning matters. Championships matter. For Punk to match, and surpass, that mark means something.

I just wish we could have something to truly commemorate this.

I know it's smarky and overplayed, but if WWE was ever going to introduce a new belt this would be the time to do it. Punk wanted to get rid of it after Monday Money in the Bank 2011. He should have ditched it at Survivor Series 2011. It would have made sense to have a new one around WrestleMania 28. As the days passed, it made less and less sense why Punk would be carrying around the title that is a direct representation from his greatest nemesis.

This is normally the point where I throw in a metaphor, but I'm not quite sure a more pointed analogy exists.

Will we see a new championship? Probably not. But isn't this the most perfect time to do it?

Cena! AJ! Ziggler! Vickie! Smooches! PDA! Still! Complete Crap!

As I said last week, this is just a bad angle. It is unoriginal, not well thought out, internally inconsistent, and is just painful for everyone to watch. If done right, then this story could have been a lot of fun.

The problem is, as always, WWE very rarely has the subtlety to pull things like this off.

As much as I love AJ, she is not suited for this type of role. AJ, the person, is too young and inexperienced to make the demands necessary to protect AJ, the character. When Vince McMahon tells her to go out there and make out with Cena, she's not going to say, "Umm, NO, Vince".

In fact, she's going to run out there and overplay the whole thing.

Likewise, Cena is a company man through and through. As long as he gets the eventual pinfall, he'll do whatever is needed of him. He just doesn't understand what makes pro wrestling exciting for anyone older than 12. He's a one trick pony who hasn't been in an entertaining storyline since CM Punk forced his hand.

It's telling that his favorite pro wrestler is Hulk Hogan.

Vickie Guerrero is, and always will be, Vickie Guerrero. She attracts nuclear heat whenever she comes through the curtain. At this point, though, it is uncertain whether that is a good or bad thing.

Then there is Dolph Ziggler. He is the only one keeping this whole thing afloat, and even then he is forced to play within the confines of the angle. He has to be the bad guy, so he has to take shots at AJ. He is facing Cena, so he has to lose in the end. The only saving grace is that he is holding the Money in the Bank briefcase, so he has to become the next World Heavyweight Champion.

He has to, guys, he just has to.

The saving grace is that TLC is only a few weeks away (Dec. 16), so hopefully, this has a short shelf life and will then go away forever.

Hopefully, this has prepared you for the night's festivities. Leave a comment below about what you are looking forward to, and please join Nolan, myself, and the entire CSS Monday night gang in the live blog right here.

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