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The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 11/21/11 (Punk/Ziggler)

The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 11/21/11 (Punk/Ziggler)
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport

There’s a suspension to a main eventer in WWE. I’ll address it at the end of this column. Live from Hershey, Pennsylvania this is the Raw Deal…

The usual intro starts us off. The announcers are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Booker T. Why is Booker there? Because Jerry Lawler was losing his voice, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Plus, Booker had other reasons as we’ll see later on in the show. To start the show off we were joined by new WWE Champion CM Punk. No personal ring announcer Howard Finkel this time.

There was a huge pop for the new WWE Champion. Punk was on his game here. He was at his absolute best, which is the best in the world as we all know. He mentioned that in first grade some kids said they wanted to be an astronaut or Teen Wolf (look at that banner up above), but he said he wanted to be a professional wrestler. He mentioned starting at the bottom and working his way to the top of WWE. I guess we can forget about his other title reigns because this is more of an official one. He spoke about what a huge deal it was for him to walk out of MSG as the WWE Champion. When Punk spoke, he mentioned this was the end of the “hot potato” era of the WWE Title. As you’ll recall, they’ve changed the title nine times since May, so Punk is saying he’ll have a long title reign. I would assume that this means he’ll have a long title reign until possibly WrestleMania, which would be fine by me. He said he’d make the WWE Title interesting again. I think a lot of people expected him to change the title. Not happening yet, if at all. Vince probably likes this title because the WWE logo is heavily featured on it whereas on the old one it wasn’t as big. Punk wants to know where the WWE ice cream bars are. Yeah! Where are they? Probably a bad idea to launch them in winter, but hopefully WWE can get around to bringing them back. Then he mentioned wanting interim Raw GM John Laurinaitis to be the former Raw GM, which quickly brought out Laurinaitis.

From the stage, Laurinaitis said he didn’t understand why they had to have problems in their relationship. The crowd was telling him that he sucks, so Punk told him he couldn’t hear because of everybody chanting “you suck” at him. I had a Stone Cold flashback right there except back then it was the “asshole” chant that I miss. Punk said McMahon was a greedy bastard, but at least he was up front about it. Then he said JL was a middle manager type that snuck around and threw in an Office Space reference that popped the crowd too. He said JL wouldn’t get it because he lives in his own bubble. Then Punk said that JL says the phrase “universe” because it’s a buzz word, but that people that watch the product are fans. I loved that. Only problem is that every person of the roster is taught to say “universe” and has been for years, but it’s nice for Punk to complain about it at a heel like JL. Works for me. Laurinaitis said that he had a wild side too. I was waiting for him to call himself a “dynamic dude.” Didn’t happen. He announced Punk vs. Del Rio for next week and also Punk vs. Ziggler for later in the show. Punk said the fans wanted Ziggler vs. Ryder, but JL told him that they would be doing Del Rio vs. Ryder later too. They are doing a great job of building up the eventual US Title win for Ryder. Punk ended the promo saying that he will beat Ziggler later, beat Del Rio next week and hopes that one day somebody beats some sense into Laurinaitis too.

That was a very good opener. Punk is at his best speaking from the heart and he’s also built up some good chemistry with Laurinaitis. Don’t get me wrong, JL is still a below average performer. It’s just that when Punk talks to him, JL is easier to hate as a character. I like that Punk showed a mix of comedy as well as seriousness. That was needed here. When he says it was his lifelong dream to be a wrestler you believe it because it’s true. That’s what the appeal of Punk is. He’s the most genuine wrestler in the company. It shows in his work. I’m hoping he can hold the title all the way to WrestleMania as long as they can make it interesting. Once he’s done with Del Rio he can feud with the likes of The Miz and Dolph Ziggler among others.

Before they went to break, they showed footage of Rock’s promo after Survivor Series when the fans were chanting for Ryder and Rock basically said he’s a fan of his. Basically Rock put him over, so WWE wanted use that endorsement to build up Ryder even more. I doubt Rock intended to bring him up, but with the fans chanting for him it was his way to make them happy. That’s why Rock is smart. Ryder came out for his match as they went to break.

Alberto Del Rio d. Zack Ryder (*)
As Ricardo was introducing ADR, Ryder grabbed the microphone to say “woo woo woo” much to the dismay of Del Rio. They got less than three minutes. Ryder hit his Broski Boot in the corner, but when he went for the Rough Ryder Del Rio was able to avoid it and put him in the Cross Armbreaker. Ryder tapped out immediately. Smart booking because Del Rio gets his WWE Title match next week, but I wouldn’t have had Ryder as his opponent here. They just built him up with endorsements from Rock & Punk, yet here they are making him look like a loser right after. Weird booking.

They announced that Cena would respond to Rock’s Survivor Series actions later in the night. In case you missed it, you check out my Survivor Series recap here. It was a very good show with a really hot New York City crowd. One of WWE’s top four PPVs of the year. I have my rankings at the bottom.

Sheamus d. Jack Swagger (*1/2)
These are two guys that I really like. They only got about four minutes here. The reason for the match is because Sheamus got DQ’d at Survivor Series because he wouldn’t stop while he was attacking Swagger when he was under the ropes. He got his win back here with the Brogue Kick. Sheamus is locked in as one of the top five babyfaces in WWE currently behind Cena, Punk, Orton and similar to Big Show. Wouldn’t be shocked if he feuds with Mark Henry for the World Title soon. Swagger needs a real feud. It’s been a long time for him.

It’s interesting to note that when WWE posted the Twitter box during Sheamus’ match against Jack Swagger, a link was posted in the box which directs you to a video. This is that video:

The boy in the video says: “Come my people and shut thy doors about thee. For a power should come to punish the meek for their inequity. For on the second day of 2012, a familiar force shall arrive to claim what is his. And it will be the end of the world as you know it.”

I’m not sure who it is for. I’d guess Undertaker or Jericho although talks with Jericho have apparently not gone well of late. That could always be a curveball to make people surprised when it is Jericho. He does like to work the fans. Not that it matters a whole lot, but the top comment on the video says: Y – Year/Youtube, 2 – 2nd, J – January. I hope so although I’m leaning more towards it being Undertaker’s return. I’m sure I’ll be asked about it hundreds of times in the coming month. I really don’t know yet. Let the 1/2/12 theories begin.

Kevin Nash cut a promo. I thought he was going to have a showdown with Triple H? Nope. No sign of Hunter yet. Nash basically said the same thing he always says. He says he should have main evented Survivor Series with Hunter against Rock & Cena because they’re boys. He talked about winning the WWE Title against Bob Backlund there and then the infamous MSG hug with Shawn, Hunter and Scott Hall. He’s mad that Hunter didn’t give him a contract earlier in the year, so that’s why he took him out. He said he was the real survivor of that group. Basically this was the same promo that he did last week. Hunter’s expected back any week now and they will likely have a match at the TLC PPV in December. Kevin Nash in a ladder match? No.

Cody Rhodes d. Santino (SQUASH)
They had Cody cut a promo using the inset saying that he was unmasked and unleashed now. Also with kneepads finally! The match went one minute. Santino wanted the Cobra, Cody avoided it, hit the Cross Rhodes and won rather easily.

Post match, Cody confronted Booker T. at the announce desk. He was yelling at him, saying he’s heard the things that Booker has said about him. He grabbed a bottle of water and threw it in Booker’s face. Booker got up angry, but Cody took off. This was the start of their program that has been rumored for months. I wonder if it will lead to the in-ring return of Cody’s brother Goldust, who currently works as an agent backstage and also happens to be a former tag team partner of Booker. It will be interesting to see where it goes. It will be good to see Booker back in the ring for a bit…dawg.

Backstage, Mathews interviewed Ziggler and Vickie. Dolph said he went 2-0 at the PPV while Josh pointed out he was eliminated quickly in the 5 on 5 match. That doesn’t matter apparently. Dolph ended the promo by saying he was the new face of the WWE. In other words, he’s about to get a push. I sure hope so.

CM Punk d. Dolph Ziggler (***3/4)
It should be pointed out that neither title was on the line here. I noticed Ziggler had a new theme song. It was similar to his previous one, but changed a bit. Punk got a thunderous pop. They did this nice sequence early involving leapfrogs, but they must have messed it up somewhere. It’s not a major thing. Some people go crazy about botches. Not me. Too much respect for the performers. When Punk went to the floor, it was time for the vintage floor to commercial spot. Things picked up after the break with Ziggler getting him in the sleeper hold. Punk managed to fight out of that, went for the top rope elbow, but Ziggler avoided it. Eventually Punk went back to it. Love that he’s been using that move since Randy Savage passed away. The “Randy Savage” chant at Survivor Series was my favorite of the night. They had a nice spot where Punk went for the GTS, Ziggler avoided it with an overhead suplex and nearly got the win. Punk ended up with a bloody lip at one point. It was obvious that they botched the ending a bit. It was a tough spot. Ziggler was going for the Fameasser, Punk was supposed to catch him, put him up on his shoulders and then hit the GTS. It didn’t happen. Ziggler went down, Punk picked him up, hit the GTS and covered for the victory at the 16 minute mark.

When it comes to Raw TV matches of the year I think about the great 12 man tag match from October 3 and also the Miz/Morrison WWE Title match from the first Raw of the year. Throw this one into the discussion too. It was fantastic. I want to see more from these two. I have a feeling that we will. Hopefully management gets behind Ziggler sooner rather than later, so we can see him in the main event picture against Punk. If this was a test for him he passed with flying colors. You know what this was, my friends? Great WRESTLING. Thank you for that awesome display of wrestling, fellas. More please.

Back from break, they aired a promo that teased a Kane return with his mask. You can watch it HERE. Isn’t the point of a mask to hide the person’s face and make it a mystery as to what is under the mask? In this case it’s different. It’s more of a throwback to appease fans that want him back in the mask. I’m guessing the voice box will not return haha.

The announcers plugged the WWE ’12 video game that comes out today in the US & Canada. I’m not much of a gamer. I’ll buy it for my nephew and play it when I go there most likely.

Big Show came out to the ring. He talked about how even though Mark Henry left as World Champion, he was the one that got carted out. Henry got carted out because Show attacked him with a chair on his ankle after the match. I’d assume they will be having the Chairs match at the TLC PPV in December. I was expecting Brodus Clay here. Didn’t happen. It was a quick in-ring promo with Show standing tall. It was fine.

Backstage, Kelly and Alicia were playing the video game when Beth & Natalya showed up to talk trash. Then they left and the girls went back to playing the game. Yep, that was it.

Wade Barrett d. Kofi Kingston (**)
This was a solid 11 minute wrestling match. Randy Orton came down to ringside during the early portion of it to keep an eye on Barrett. Orton simply sat down on a chair by the announcers. I don’t think anybody in the building thought that Kingston had a chance of winning. It’s okay Kofi, Evan should be back from suspension from soon. Interesting to note that they’ve yet to mention Bourne since he’s been suspended although he did appear in the “Be A Star” anti-bullying commercial. Anyway, after the commercial Kofi was on fire hitting all of his trademark spots. Barrett was able to counter him before he hit Trouble in Paradise, though. Barrett ended up hitting the Wasteland to win clean at the 11 minute mark. He stared down Orton while he did it. The strong push for Barrett continues.

They showed Cena walking backstage before the main event.

Before we get to the main event angle, they had advertised three things on this show that didn’t happen: Jonah Hill as the guest star, Brodus Clay’s “debut” on Raw and a Kevin Nash/Triple H confrontation. These things were advertised, but they didn’t happen. I’m not sure why none of them happened. I guess Jonah wasn’t there. Obviously the other two things could have happened, but they chose not to for whatever reason. It’s just proof that they change plans very quickly in this company, which is a bad sign for those of us in favor of any kind of long term planning.

John Cena came out for the main event promo. He said Survivor Series was a big show, praised Zack Ryder, told us to follow him on Twitter and said congrats to CM Punk on being the WWE Champion as well. He said that while The Rock got a deafening reaction it was business as usual for him. Some fans cheered while others booed as usual. Cena said he let Rock enjoy the win, then he got called into the ring and Rock ended up giving a Rock Bottom. The crowd chanted “Fruity Pebbles” and “Boots to Asses” at various points. As he spoke about the Rock proving that he lost it and transitioned to WrestleMania, the music of Miz & Truth started up.

The Miz & R-Truth showed up on the ramp. They made their way down the ring. Miz said Cena had a big ego because he didn’t even mention how the fans at MSG were chanting “don’t tag Cena” because they were only there for The Rock. Truth says Mania is going to be about Rock putting “Boots to Asses” to Cena and that CeNation will turn into “see ya later nation.” Oh wow what a play on words there. Cena fired back by saying nobody likes them or sees them as a legit threat. He says Miz didn’t really like Truth and that Truth really didn’t like Miz, basically to drive a wedge between them. Then Cena left.

After Cena left, Miz & Truth argued. Miz told him that Cena was trying to drive a wedge between them while Truth felt as if Miz was calling him stupid. I guess he was, but don’t tell Truth that. After a minute of arguing back and forth (in front of the camera since they dropped their microphones), Miz convinced him that they should go after Cena. When they reached the top of the ramp, Miz attacked him from behind and gave him the Skull Crushing Finale on the ramp. Truth was out cold as refs & trainers checked on him to end the show. My first reaction was that it would be silly to turn Truth face because he’s doing such a good job as a heel after getting stale as a face. Then I woke up this morning to some news about R-Truth.

The explanation to that ending came today. On Tuesday morning, there was a post on WWE.com stating the following: “In accordance with the Talent Wellness Program, WWE has suspended Ron Killings (R-Truth) for 30 days effective immediately for his first violation of the company’s policy.”

When Evan Bourne was suspended a few weeks back, the word was that a Survivor Series main eventer also failed a drug test. Now that SS is over, obviously we’ve found out that it was R-Truth. The rumor is that the drug they used was called Spice, which is the name of a particular type of synthetic marijuana. If you get caught with regular marijuana it’s a fine of $2,500 and no suspension. For Spice, though, it’s a suspension. Bad timing for R-Truth, who was on a roll and part of the biggest storyline of his career. Now you could say that R-Truth “got got” by the Wellness Program. I don’t think he’ll be fired or de-pushed necessarily. It’s not like he was going to win the WWE Title anyway. The question is if you fail a drug test should you get suspended immediately or when it is convenient? Obviously there’s no correct answer to that and WWE can do it the way they want, but I it’s an interesting way to hand out suspensions. By the way, R-Truth was trending on Twitter for much of Tuesday morning. I don’t think you’ll see WWE mentioning that anytime soon, huh?

Three Stars of the Show
1. CM Punk – Excellent match and promo. This was Punk at his finest.
2. Dolph Ziggler – Another match of the night for the “Zig Zag Man.”
3. Alberto Del Rio

7 out of 10
Last week: 5
2011 High Score: 9.1 (March 28)
2011 Low Score: 3.5 (October 10)
2011 Average: 5.70
Last 5 Weeks: 5, 6, 5.5, 4.5, 6

That’s the first time I’ve given Raw a rating of 7 or above since the 7.5 on August 22. We had three months of 6.5 and under. It’s a good sign when I can give a show that kind of rating.

I thought CM Punk was outstanding. His promo to start the show was funny, to the point and serious at the right times too. When he gets to play off of a heel like Laurinaitis it makes him that much more enjoyable. Then he showed his talents in the ring by putting on one of the best Raw matches of the year with Dolph Ziggler. That’s a main event feud that I hope we get to see in 2012 over the course of a few months. They can really put on a show. When Punk is heavily featured on a show the way he was this week, it’s going to be a good one. That can be pretty much a guarantee. When he says “best in the world” it isn’t just a catchphrase. It’s the truth.

The solid wins by guys like Del Rio, Sheamus & Barrett were good too. Of course we all knew they were going to win, but it’s nice to see clean finishes for a change considering what we usually get. That’s how you continue to build people up.

I’m interested in seeing who Cena’s next feud will be with. Do they go with The Miz again or somebody different? Could they possibly add both of those guys to the Punk/Del Rio feud and make it a four way TLC match at the PPV in December? I’m not really sure at this point. I think we’ll know more next week.

That’s all for this week. No Survivor Series retrospective. Sorry, but I didn’t have the time. I am working on a column on the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin that should be ready in the middle of next week to coincide with the DVD about him that comes out next week. Back on the weekend with Canton’s Corner, next Tuesday with the Raw Deal and coming in December are the always fun Johnny Awards as we look back on the 2011 year in WWE. OH MY GOODNESS~!

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – john@thejohnreport.net
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Visit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.

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