Dolph Zigggler hijacks the WWE Championship.
Fun segment to kick off the show with John Lauriniatis mimicking CM Punk's entrance that got a chuckle out of this viewer. The main event contest was successfully hyped for later in the night, as well as furthering the feud between Punk and Lauriniatis with a small teaser of a match between the two.
Good match between Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes and Booker T, but it didn't quite maintain the crowd's interest for a majority of the bout. However, it's always a blast to see Booker compete, which should have been advertised in advance to hype his in-ring return on Raw. Having the five-time WCW Champion pick up the victory here was a smart move in order to continue the feud as well as secure Booker a title rematch down the line.
Quick, painless mixed tag team match that saw United States Champion Zack Ryder and Eve finally teaming up to defeat the uniting tandem of Tyson Kidd and Natalya. It's sad to realize that Raw really has no credible heel mid-carders that Ryder is able to work with, but what we got was decent action. I like the idea of Kidd and Natalya back together again, as it good possibly help Kidd get the heat he needs to become a strong heel. Ryder's on-going relationship with Eve also seems like a good idea for the time being. On a side note, where the hell was Divas Champion Beth Phoenix on the show?
I'm glad the match between John Cena and The Miz never really came to fruition since we've seen it more than enough times over the course of 2011. R-Truth's return was well-done and was a pleasant surprise since I managed to forget all about it going into the show. It remains unclear as to whether Truth remains a heel or becoming a full-fledged babyface due to his ambush on The Miz, but it's a relief that Creative didn't revert him back to the go-happy rapper he was prior to this awesome psychotic gimmick.
Throwaway segment featuring Big Show, David Otunga and company. The match stipulation of having one arm tied behind Show's back didn't really do anything for me, in addition to the fact that the referee called for the bell to signal a disqualification on Otunga's behalf was premature seeing that Mark Henry didn't even make contact with Show yet. World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan's appearance seemed a bit off and random, but I'm glad Henry did not end up getting attacked to once again lose momentum.
R-Truth returns and viciously ambushes The Miz.
Boring promo from Alberto Del Rio that was nothing out of the ordinary. Most viewers could care less about Del Rio's injury and the fact that it will sideline him for the next month at the very least, as his character needs a break so he feels fresh upon his eventual return. As far as his claims to become WWE Champion again, I don't buy it, but developing a more ruthless side to his character is certainly something I could see happening.
Solid Gauntlet Match that was resulted in a pleasant surprise with Dolph Ziggler picking up the upset victory over WWE Champion CM Punk. I'm afraid this was done to garner more heat for John Laurinaitis and to further his feud with Punk, but hopefully Ziggler isn't an afterthought going into next week's title match. I enjoyed the change of pace of having a fresh face in the title picture, as well as the fact that the Gauntlet did not even reach Mark Henry.
Yet another intriguing featuring John Cena and Kane at the conclusion of Raw. However, I thought it was a mistake in having Kane talk again, as it really takes away from the mystique of his character. Sadly, The Big Red Monster's promo skills didn't come across as good as they once did, but the main focal point is him acknowledging the Cena's continuous boos as well as leading a chant of his own. Ending the show (and the year at that) on the visual of Cena standing astounded on the crowd turning against him was interesting without a doubt.
Overall, another enjoyable episode that managed to go by quickly and successfully hype next week's highly anticipated edition of Raw. The show had its noteworthy moments including R-Truth's return and Ziggler's victory, and despite minimal action, no campy comedy was featured and mostly everything served somewhat of a purpose. I'm really excited going into the first Raw of 2012, as the advertised WWE Championship match, Brodus Clay's pending debut, and the reveal of the individual behind the "itbegins" vignettes will make the program worth watching.