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Precap to the Dec. 10, 2012 episode of WWE 'Monday Night Raw', or the one before 'TLC'

Previewing the Dec. 10, 2012 episode of WWE Monday Night Raw featuring the injured WWE Champion CM Punk, the repercussions of the Shield's continuing attacks on Ryback and Team Hell No, and the ongoing saga of John Cena, AJ Lee, Vickie Guerrero, and Dolph Ziggler.

Punk! Bum Knee! Pull Out! WWE Championship!

The main event of TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs was all set. CM Punk would face Ryback in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match for the WWE Championship. It would be a predictable match, one where we knew the outcome but would still tune-in to be entertained. There would be some exciting spots, some feats of strength, perhaps even a run-in or two. Punk would eventually retain, and we would all move on to Royal Rumble.

Then, Punk's knee gave out, and things are a bit shadier.

According to, Punk underwent knee surgery immediately following last week's Monday Night Raw (Dec. 3). Apparently, it was serious enough Vince McMahon himself felt the need to pull Punk off the card. The whole thing was kept in kayfabe, with Ryback's assault being pointed to as the reason for Punk's knee injury.

Reports -- and common sense -- are telling us Punk has been injured for awhile now, and he's only just now getting things fixed.

We know right now Punk will miss TLC. We can assume Punk and The Rock will meet at Royal Rumble. Punk will probably be at WrestleMania. And then... who knows?

Punk has never been shy about saying he doesn't want to wrestle his entire life. He has made it clear he will be retiring far earlier than his peers. You get the feeling that he doesn't want to destroy his body before he reaches middle age.

If this knee injury is serious, maybe he'll starts to wind things down sooner than later.

This is all speculation, of course. But people come back from injuries very differently; some people can come out of surgery stronger and more determined, while others face complications and setbacks. Hopefully, Punk is the former, but you always have to consider the latter.

We all wish Punk a speedy recovery and the ability to return at 100%. He is a joy to watch every week, and it would be a shame if the WWE Universe were to be robbed of his talents.

The Shield! Hell No! Ryback! Tables! Ladders! Chairs! Oh My!

In a brilliant bit of booking, The Shield will be taking on Team Hell No and Ryback in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match that will be won by either pinfall or submission. This solidifies all parties involved as main eventers, gives TLC its signature match, and completely sidesteps the obvious hurdle of needing something hanging from the rafters.

When WWE Creative actually tries, they can surprise us with some out-of-the-box thinking.

We still don't know exactly why Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns are running wild on the WWE roster. They attacked Ryback at Survivor Series (Nov. 18) because the group felt it was unfair CM Punk had to put his WWE Championship on the line in a Triple Threat match. However, they left John Cena alone completely. The trio went after Kane, presumably because WWE finagled a RAW Active Poll to make Daniel Bryan lose. But then, the group set their sights on Bryan as well. The Shield would jump Randy Orton after his match with Brad Maddox. One has to wonder why a) they did not interfere before Maddox got squashed and b) why Orton isn't involved in the current match.

These are questions which will hopefully be answered sooner rather than later.

Right now, though, this is a great matchup WWE has put together. We will finally get to see The Shield show their talents in an actual match. Bryan will be his amazing self, Kane will be able to hold his own, and Ryback will be protected by the gimmick. It will be interesting to see how the fans are sold this match on the go home show.

With the WWE Champion sidelined, the promotion needs to work pretty hard to get those buyrates up.

Cena! Ziggler! AJ! Vickie! Smarks Nightmare! Money in the Bank!

Even if you were not watching Monday Night Raw last week, you must have known about this match being made. It probably felt as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Vickie Guerrero and Vince McMahon had a nice chitchat in the middle of the ring, and they came to the conclusion John Cena would face Dolph Ziggler at TLC, in a ladder match, with the Money in the Bank briefcase on the line. When I say "they came to the conclusion," I mean Vince practically forced his words to come out of Vickie's mouth.

If there is a more apt metaphor of Vince's last minute re-writes, I don't know what it is.

So Cena and Ziggler will face off for the blue briefcase, because Vickie said Cena and AJ were sleeping together. I'm sure there were some plot points in between the two, but right now I'm doing my best to repress the whole thing.

All I know, is this is the second time "The Showoff" has put his Money in the Bank contract on the line. The first time he was able to pick up the victory and force Chris Jericho to leave WWE (on the 1,004 episode of Raw, of course).

Now though, he faces a much tougher challenge.

I really want to believe for a second that Ziggler will be able to go over clean. Hell, I wouldn't even mind a somewhat dirty finish. But I can't shake the feeling this will not end well. Here is what I am fearful for, from least to worst:

  1. The Shield comes in and costs Cena the match
  2. AJ comes in and costs Cena the match
  3. AJ comes in and costs Ziggler the match
  4. Cena wins clean

History has taught us that Cena tends to emerge victorious in these types of matches. Even if he does get the L, he'll get his win back, eventually.

It's a shame too, because this could be interesting if WWE played it right. Ziggler cashes in either tonight or at TLC. The main event of a Pay-Per-View (PPV) would be for the World Heavyweight Championship, something that hasn't happened in lord knows how long. A hard fought battle between the two, which keeps the Brooklyn crowd on their feet for every feint up the ladder. We all expect Cena will win, but there is just enough suspension of disbelief that we are sucked into the match. Then, without anyone else in the ring, Ziggler is able to make his way up the ladder and grab the Big Gold Belt.

And a new main eventer is born.

Perhaps, this is me being too much of a smark, though. We'll have to wait for the story to play out.

I just get the feeling that we've seen this movie before, and I didn't like the ending all that much the last time around.

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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