WWE Raw Report CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 12/26: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - final Raw of 2011, Punk returns home
Dec 26, 2011 - 10:05:29 PM
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WWE Raw Supershow Results
December 26, 2011 - Episode #969
Live in Chicago, Ill.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
This week's live WWE Raw started with a live shot inside Allstar Arena. Michael Cole briefly introduced the show, then Cult of Personality played to a big reaction. Instead of C.M. Punk coming out, it was John Laurinaitis sporting Punk's t-shirt over his suit. He did Laurinaitis's mannerisms before entering the ring to introduce himself to boos. Laurinaitis called it a sign of Raw's unpredictability when he's in charge. He then noted he is the future and he brought the new golden era. Tonight, they continue this era in the home of the WWE champion. Laurinaitis said he's honoring Punk tonight.
Suddenly, Cult played again. This time, the real C.M. Punk slowly emerged on-stage with the WWE Title belt around his waist. The crowd went nuts as Punk slowly made his way to the ring soaking up the moment. In the ring, Punk posed before doing circles around Laurinaitis in the ring. Punk held out his hand to receive a mic as the director cut to various pro-Punk crowd signs. Loud "C-M-Punk" chant once his music stopped.
Punk went right to Laurinaitis to ask him if he's paying tribute or poking him with a stick. Punk then posed a rhetorical question about what's stopping him from kicking Ace in the face. Laurinaitis replied that he's Punk's boss and he could fire him. After all, he likes to empower his talent after taking a few management courses. He then told Punk he has the night off. The crowd booed that news. "Ha! Gotcha!" Ace said. Punk just looked at him. This led to a debate over unpredictability.
Laurinaitis then noted Punk has one match, maybe two matches, maybe even a third match. He's going to be in a gauntlet match. Laurinaitis said if one of them beats Punk, that person will receive a WWE Title match next week on Raw. Punk asked Ace what happens if he beat sall three. Laurinaitis said he hasn't thought that far ahead. Punk said that's typical and he has great ideas. Punk proposed a present to Chicago: when he survives the gauntlet, there should be a fourth match. Punk said the fourth match should be Punk vs. Ace. Laurinaitis shot back that Punk doesn't want any of this. And, it would be his fourth match. The crowd responded with a "You Can't Wrestle" chant to Ace. Punk said it sounds like the crowd has been watching All-Japan tapes.
Laurinaitis finished that it wouldn't be good business for Punk to lose to him. Punk decided to poll the audience to find out what they want, since Ace always listens to the audience. The crowd responded with a pro-Punk vs. Ace match, so Laurinaitis told him he's on. Punk stood shocked by this happening while Laurinaitis just smiled. Ace then left the ring and Punk stood tall in the ring while the announcers set the stage for the gauntlet series still to come. Cole claimed Punk isn't thinking clearly and got caught up in the moment. They stayed with Punk celebrating in the ring for a while.
Suddenly, the video feed cut to this week's Mystery Video. The girl shoved the notebook off the desk, then repeat clips played along with new beach/water clips. The girl said the boy will come to claim what is his and the Powers That Be will be shaken. As the dramatic music stopped, they went to a very tight shot of the boy with his face on full-display for about a second. Then, black. Text flashed: "The End Begins. Next Monday."
Backstage: Booker T and Cody Rhodes were shown on a split screen. They're against each other next.
1 -- IC champion CODY RHODES vs. BOOKER T -- non-title match
Before the bell sounded, they replayed footage from Smackdown when Booker sang Christmas tunes for Rhodes, causing Rhodes to lose to Zack Ryder. Back live, Cole complained about everything before the bell sounded. Booker teased the scissors kick early on, but Cody ducked and delivered a swinging neckbreaker. Cody followed with an exposed knee to the mid-section, followed by kicks and stomps. Rhodes then dumped Booker to the outside and they cut to break.
[Commercial Break. A commercial for UFC 141 featuring Brock Lesnar aired during the break.]
Back from break, Rhodes was wearing down Booker in the ring. Meanwhile, Cole and Lawler debated when a wrestler is too old. Lawler said you can be as old as you want in WWE because it's an individual sport, as opposed to a team sport, where an athlete could drag down a team. Rhodes continued to wear down Booker, who then fought out of a corner with blows, but Rhodes responded with a dropkick that floored Booker again. The crowd tried to rally behind Booker, who continued to take a beating.
Booker finally mounted some offense with a corner attack before landing a flying forearm and a series of clotheslines. Booker followed with a sidewalk slam for a two count. Booker got that look in his eyes, then rolled up Rhodes out of the corner for a two count. Rhodes responded with a quick pin attempt, but Booker escaped. Booker then wanted an axe kick, but Rhodes ducked. He then scored with a Disaster Kick that he almost turned into a missile dropkick. Booker kicked out of a pin attempt in time, though. Rhodes tried Cross Rhodes, but Booker blocked and landed a back kick. Booker, sucking wind, missed with a kick, but hit the axe kick moments later. Booker made the cover and it was good for the win.
Post-match: Lawler popped like Booker won the World Title as they went to crowd shots of a pro-Booker crowd reaction. Post-match: Booker took his time walking around the ring playing to the crowd before posing for the hard camera. To cap off the celebration, Booker dropped down to one knee and did the spin-a-rooni. Booker continued to point to the crowd.
WINNER: Booker at 12:03. Is Booker retiring for good? They acted like this was Booker's retirement match with Rhodes putting him over to have a feel-good send-off. It will be interesting to see what the fall-out is. Overall, good match that effectively built to a clean finish. (**1/4)
[Q3] Backstage: Zack Ryder was talking to someone off-camera about owing his U.S. Title to this person. The camera pulled away to reveal John Cena. Cena said Ryder did it all on his own. He said every decision-maker in WWE told Ryder, "No," for 44 weeks. Cena said Ryder is U.S. champion because he earned it, not because he was handed anything. Ryder and Cena shook hands, then Ryder asked Cena what's up with Kane. Cena said he's going to go out to the ring and call out Kane. Ryder wished him good luck, which caught Cena off-guard.
Announcers: Lawler was handed a note. He said he's been given a list of the three opponents for C.M. Punk tonight. Lawler said if any of them wins, the person gets a WWE Title shot next week. Lawler then stood up at the announce table to reveal the opponents for Punk tonight. (1) Jack Swagger. (2) Dolph Ziggler. And, if Punk beats them, he gets (3) Mark Henry. The crowd wasn't excited for this reveal. Lawler noted if Punk wins, he faces Laurinaitis tonight.
Segment Reax: So, they took away the incentive to tune in later in the show to find out who Punk is facing by revealing an "eh" line-up of heels...and they're banking on people wanting to see Laurinaitis get his comeuppance when no one cares about Laurinaitis's character. There has to be a twist somewhere here since WWE rarely would reveal something like three gauntlet opponents before the gauntlet.
Backstage: Kelly Kelly was talking to Big Show about beauty tips. Referee Scott Armstrong then walked up to Show and told him he's needed by Laurinaitis right now. He brushed it off, but Scott said it's urgent. Kelly playfully told Show he's in trouble. Show laughed, then walked off. That was odd.
Backstage: Laurinaitis was on the phone while David Otunga was standing by. Laurinaitis told Brodus Clay he's debuting on next week's live Raw to start 2012. He said he wouldn't want to be Clay's first opponent next week. Big Show then walked in and Laurinaitis played a replay of Show KO punching Otunga on Smackdown. Otunga claimed he would file a lawsuit. He then tried to get under Show's skin about having the shortest World Title reign. Show said he could beat Otunga with one arm tied behind his back. Laurinaitis had a great idea - Otunga drops his lawsuit proposal in exchange for facing Show with one arm tied behind his back. Show smirked and offered a lawyer joke before feigning a punch for Otunga.
Backstage: Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler were arguing. Swagger told Ziggler he doesn't even need to suit up tonight since he will beat C.M. Punk first in the gauntlet. Ziggler told Swagger to head back to 2009 for the last time he was relevant. Ziggler said that's tough talk for a guy who's less than 200 pounds and lost the U.S. Title to Ryder. Vickie Guerrero interrupted and told them the key is that one of them brings the title to her stable. Mark Henry then interrupted and quieted everyone down.
In-ring: Random new music played to bring out Eve for a mixed tag match. U.S. champion Zack Ryder came out next as Eve's partner. Cole noted Ryder has been trying to get with Eve and now he gets a chance to impress her up next.
2 -- U.S. champion ZACK RYDER & EVE vs. TYSON KIDD & NATALYA -- mixed tag match
Back from commercial, Tyson Kidd and Natalya were in the ring as the opponents. As the action started, Cole told viewers to mark down July 23, 2012. Cole said that will be the 1,000th episode of Raw. He also noted Cena is coming up soon to address Kane again. After the Divas battled, Ryder took a tag, which also brought in Kidd. The action broke down and Team Ryder delivered stereo Broski Boots. Ryder followed with the Rough Ryder on Kidd for the pin and the win. Post-match: Ryder and Eve fist-pumped for the crowd before Ryder handed his title belt to Eve to hold for a second.
WINNERS: Ryder & Eve at 3:03.
Up Next: Ominous graphics indicated Cena is calling out Kane. Lawler asked if Kane is going to respond and actually talk this week.
Smackdown plug: Daniel Bryan became World champion at TLC. Now, as 2011 comes to a close, how long will Bryan's improbable reign last? Find out Friday on Smackdown.
Arena: Back live, the arena went from darkness to John Cena's music, which was greeted by boos. Cena came out on-stage all-smiles as Lawler said it's "really loud in here." Cena stormed the ring before Cole plugged Cena vs. Rock on the cover of the latest WWE Magazine issue. As Cena looked around the arena, Cole and Lawler recapped footage of Kane trying to rip off Cena's face last week. And, this week, Cena is completely recovered and unfazed.
Back live, Cena squinted his eyes to sell seriousness after watching the footage. Once his music stopped, Cena paused for a round of boos from the crowd. Cena looked around the arena with a big smile before beginning his promo that he recognizes he's not Chicago's favorite son. Cena said he had his very first match in this arena, he's been here countless times since, and sometimes Chicago is a little salty toward him. Sometimes...a little more than salty. Pause for boos and a Punk chant.
Cena told the crowd to look around the arena before there's magic in this arena. He noted Chicago has hosted three WrestleManias. And, the city inducted Eddie Guerrero into the Hall of Fame. Pause for "Eddie, Eddie" chant as Cena removed his cap to show respect. Cena said one of the greatest moments in WWE history was Punk beating him right here at the Money in the Bank PPV in July. Cena said it's often said New York City is the home of WWE, but he sees another sold-out crowd in Chicago and he sees another loud crowd.
Cena said this is the last Raw of 2011, so they should let the world remember this night and remember Chicago. Right now, he's probably signing his own death warrant by summoning Kane. "Right now, Chicago will see John Cena versus Kane!" No sign of Kane. Suddenly, The Miz's music interrupted. Miz did his act slowly walking out on-stage with mic in-hand. Miz told Cena he wants to see them have a match right now. Miz said they have some loose ends to tie up because everyone knows 2011 was the Year of The Miz. He noted he beat Cena in the WM27 main event, but that win was tainted. Miz said everyone thinks he beat Cena because of The Rock.
[Q5 -- second hour] The top of the hour started with a "Rocky, Rocky" chant as Miz entered the ring. Miz said Rock stole his shining moment and he's not going to let 2011 end without proving he can beat Cena without Rock as a distraction. Miz said he wants the lasting image to be him standing triumphantly over a fallen Cena. Cena interrupted and said he wants him to shut up and wipe the tan off his body. Cena said he doesn't need to hear Miz's rant, all he needs is a referee so he can beat Miz's ass. The crowd actually cheered Cena's comeback, which led to a referee hitting the ring to set up the top-of-the-second-hour main event.
3 -- JOHN CENA vs. THE MIZ
Cena and Miz started this impromptu match-up with some basic back-and-forth feeling each other out. Lawler equated Miz to Cousin Eddie showing up at Christmas uninvited. Great "Christmas Vacation" reference. The crowd picked up a dueling chant for and against Cena, which led to Miz leaving the ring. Miz took the mic and said he's done with this match. the ref was applying a ten count as Miz continued to rant and rave. Miz noted he beat Cena at WrestleMania because all that matters is he beat Cena on the grandest stage of them all. The bell then sounded, indicating a count-out.
WINNER: Cena via count-out at 2:23.
Post-match: Miz continued to talk to the ringside fans that he is a winner, unlike the Bears, who lost to the Packers last night. Miz vowed to "leave this crappy city" with his head held high. Because he's The Miz, and he's...Suddenly, R-Truth's music played to bring out Truth returning from suspension. Truth tackled Miz ringside and the fight was on. Cena ducked out of the ring in the background as Truth and Miz brawled ringside, including using the announce table as a weapon. Truth blasted Miz into the table, then the guardrail, then the table again. Lawler noted Truth has snapped. Truth stalked Miz, who tried to crawl away, but Truth threw him into the ring steps. Truth talked to himself throughout this.
Truth retrieved a mic and stood over Miz before telling him he could finish this right now, but there's no fun in that. Truth landed more right hands before shoving Miz's head into the ring steps. He said the problem with Christmas is you open all your presents and it's over. Truth then blasted away on Miz some more. He said he wants every Monday night to be like Christmas, so he's going to take his time getting to Miz. Truth said Little Jimmy told him it's okay. He sang the New Year's song before noting Miz and the Jimmys are going to get got. Truth stood up and the crowd was initially unsure how to react before cheering. Truth wasn't done, though. Truth grabbed a water bottle and blasted it over Miz's head to finish off the attack. Cole declared that man is insane as Truth's music played. Lawler said Miz can look forward to that treatment every single week in 2012.
Still to come: Punk runs the gauntlet.
[Commercial Break. A UFC 141 spot for Lesnar vs. Overeem aired.]
Moments Ago: Cole recapped Truth's return to attack and dismantle Miz. On-camera, Cole and Lawler addressed Kane's presence. Cole announced that Kane is in the building and will make his presence felt in response to Kane later tonight.
In-ring: Big Show's music played to bring out Show to face David Otunga, who is riding a 10-match losing streak on TV & PPV. In the ring, Show had his right arm tied behind his back to take away his right-hand KO punch. Next, David Otunga came out acting cocky as Show was tied up.
4 -- BIG SHOW vs. DAVID OTUNGA
Otunga tried to run around Show, who trapped Otunga's foot in-between his legs before landing some left arm chops. Otunga continued to run around Show before taking a headbutt. Show then one-handed Otunga over the top rope to the floor. Suddenly, Mark Henry's music played. Henry came out to the ring as Show appeared to escape the knot tied around his arm. Meanwhile, the ref called for the bell, apparently ending the match.
Post-match: Henry kicked Show in the face since Show apparently did not escape (or just loosened the knot). Daniel Bryan's music suddenly played to bring out the new World champ, who distracted Henry. Show, now free from the knot, teased an attack on Henry when Henry turned around, but Henry escaped when Otunga attacked Show from behind. Show then dropped Otunga with a chokeslam to send him away. Henry walked off as Show stared him down to conclude the segment.
WINNER: Show via DQ at 2:01. There are a lot of moving parts on this show this week.
Still to come tonight: Kane answers John Cena. Cole said Kane will explain his actions, but on his terms.
Network ad: The same psychedelic WWE Network spot aired leading to break.
In-ring: Alberto Del Rio's music played back from break. Lawler said he's been waiting for this arrival tonight. On-stage, Ricardo Rodriguez wheeled Alberto Del Rio onto the stage in a wheelchair. Ricardo, in a neckbrace from his fall at the TLC PPV, introduced Del Rio as Lawler plugged Del Rio's fancy wheelchair. Del Rio said it's a tragedy that the man who won everything in 2011 suffered the most painful injury a man can suffer when he completely tore his groin. Del Rio asked the crowd if they're happy about that, which drew cheers. "How dare you," he said with his eyes squinted to sell disgust.
Suddenly, the Bella Twins walked out on-stage to stand next to Del Rio and Ricardo. They asked the crowd to show respect to Del Rio. They vowed to throw Del Rio a party in his honor when he's healthy. Brie accused Nikki of copying her, prompting an argument. Del Rio told them he's had enough, then sent them off to the back. The crowd booed as Del Rio sold intense pain with labored breathing. Del Rio offered his New Year's Resolution: he will be back in 2012 and he will be more vicious and aggressive than ever before. He vowed to be WWE champion again. Del Rio told Ricardo to wheel him away.
WWE '12 plug: Cole and Lawler played video game footage of a Punk vs. Henry hypothetical match.
Backstage: Punk was shown walking down the hallway. He runs the gauntlet next.
5 -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK RUNS THE GAUNTLET
In-ring: Justin Roberts introduced a "special" gauntlet match. Roberts set the ground rules for the match before Jack Swagger came out along with Vickie Guerrero. The crowd booed Swagger before Cult of Personality played for the third time tonight. Punk came out to a strong reaction, but not like the opening segment with the law of diminishing returns in-play. Before the bell sounded, Cole advertised Kane in the building later tonight.
5a -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK vs. JACK SWAGGER (w/Vickie Guerrero) -- non-title match
As Punk and Swagger started the action, Cole went back to July when Punk won the WWE Title, walked out of WWE, and began his revolution to change WWE "for good or for bad." Punk scored with a hard kick to the face as Cole went through the timeline of Punk's last five months in WWE. A pro-Punk chant started up as Swagger tried to wear down Punk. Swagger targeted Punk's mid-section before trying a Swagger Bomb, but Punk caught him in mid-air. After teased moves on both sides, Punk delivered a big roundhouse kick to the head that KO'ed Swagger for a three count.
WINNER: Punk at 3:26.
As Dolph Ziggler made his way to the ring to face Punk next, Swagger attacked Punk from behind, targeting Punk's left leg. Ziggler wanted to start the match right away, but ref Scott Armstrong checked on Punk to make sure he could still compete before ringing the bell. Punk nodded his head up and down before they suddenly cut to break.
5b -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Vickie Guerrero and Jack Swagger) -- non-title match
Back from break, the match was already in progress with Ziggler working on Punk's injured left leg. The crowd to rally behind Punk, who suddenly tried a small package, but Ziggler kicked out. Ziggler then resumed the attack.
[Q8] Ziggler sat down on a half-Boston Crab as Punk resisted tapping out. Punk crawled and crawled toward the bottom rope before reaching out to break the hold. Ziggler nearly got himself DQ'ed by not breaking until four. Punk, now on his feet, landed right hand blows and chops, followed by a standing back kick and punt to the gut. Punk followed with punishing right leg kicks to the back before delivering another KO kick to the head. This time, Ziggler kicked out. Vickie and Swagger then ran interference, which allowed Ziggler to hit the Zig-Zag for a close nearfall.
Suddenly, Laurinaitis came down to ringside and marched over to the timekeeper's table. Laurinaitis grabbed the mic and said there has been an injustice here tonight. Suddenly, Punk had a cover as Laurinaitis occupied the referee on the mic. Laurinaitis tossed Vickie and Swagger from ringside, which disallowed the ref from counting a three for Punk. Laurinaitis then got on the ring apron to talk to Punk. Suddenly, Ziggler dropped Punk from behind with the Zig-Zag and Laurinaitis stopped talking. Ziggler made the cover for the win.
Post-match: Ziggler yanked the WWE Title belt away from the timekeeper and paraded around with the belt. Cole shouted that Ziggler gets a title shot next week as Ziggler ran circles around the ring with the title belt. Ziggler continued to parade around with Punk's title belt as Punk sat up in the ring. Ziggler kissed the belt and told Punk to kiss it good-bye. In the ring, Punk sat up and shook his head that it's not happening.
WINNER: Ziggler at 7:32; Ziggler gets a WWE Title shot next week. A sample of the 15-25-minute match they could have next week to start 2011. It will be interesting to see if Ziggler wins next week, then if WWE uses Ziggler as a transitional champion to get the belt to Cena ahead of WM28 (if Cena vs. Rock will actually be for the WWE Title) so that Cena doesn't take the belt from Punk.
Up next: Kane addresses Cena.
Smackdown plug: Wade Barrett is in Randy Orton's head, but Orton is ready to strike. This Friday, after pushing Orton over the edge, Barrett must face Orton one-on-one in a Falls Count Anywhere match. It's the final Smackdown of 2011.
Back live, Kane's pyro shot off and his music played. Too standard of an entrance for Kane upon his return. Kane made his way to the ring sporting the welder's mask and shot off pyro in the ring. Kane then removed the top layer to reveal his new red mask. Once his music stopped, Kane raised a mic to speak. Kane said he may wear a mask, but the fans are spending every waking second living a lie. Suddenly, Cena's music interrupted.
Cena slowly walked out on-stage and stared into the ring. Cena then turned to walk toward the ring, but pyro shot off on-stage, scaring Cena half-to-death. Kane said he didn't come out here to pick a fight with Cena. Kane said he chose Cena as his victim because he has led all of these people astray. Kane said he asks the fans to rise above hate, but that's a fallacy because this world is a dark, dark place. Cena gulped on-stage. Kane said it's okay to hate. He said humans are hateful by nature. Cena was skeptical. Kane said deep down, everybody hates. Why rise above it when the natural impulse is to embrace it? Kane said the best thing is to let it consume you. Kane said people hate; they hate their bosses, they hate their neighbors, they hate their spouses, they hate their miserable existence.
[Q9 -- over-run] Kane questioned the slogan on Cena's t-shirt, which he called a myth. He said "hate" is the seed from which we are all born. They cut to a crowd shot of people standing bored and skeptical. Kane said hate fuels everyone. He said he knows it eats away at Cena. But, once you embrace the hate, you become honest with yourself. "Cena, Cena" chant as Kane paused. Kane said when you embrace it, you become free. Kane paused before telling Cena that with his denial, he grows weaker by the moment. And, until Cena embraces that which he denies, he can never be truly free. Pause for "Let's Go Cena / Cena Sucks" chant. Kane waited for it to die down before re-taking control.
Kane vowed to help Cena on his path toward enlightenment. Kane said the last image of 2011 and the last thing he will hear is these fans chanting the words that tears Cena apart. Kane slowly said, "Cena...Sucks." Then, again, and again. The crowd made noise, but no discernible chants could be heard. The noise eventually organized into dueling chants again. Cena stood on the stage listening to the chants before lowering his head. In the ring, Kane smiled. The trademarks came on the screen and they signed off five minutes past the top of the hour.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It could be something or could be coincidental timing, but positing Punk's gauntlet in the semi-main event slot and positioning Cena's segment in the final segment (along with plugging a Cena-Kane confrontation throughout the show), could indicate a shift back to Cena as the central figure after WWE seemed to be shifting toward Punk (especially on last week's Raw). If there's nothing to read into, it's because WWE will begin focusing on Cena vs. Rock at WM28 once the calendar flips. If it's something, then perhaps it's more than just Cena-Rock hype and more about returning to focus on Cena - now with a heavy "internal conflict" storyline in-play over the next four months leading to Mania - in light of sagging TV ratings and younger viewers dropping off.
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