John Cena appears as a guest on Piper's Pit.
Intense segment to kick off the show with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper calling out John Cena in the infamous Piper's Pit. I was a bit skeptical at the beginning that Piper was using his time to get himself over as well as kissing up to Cena much like Mick Foley did a few weeks back, but I these guys really impressed with the drama they incorporated into their promo. It's about damn time they started to acknowledge the massive boos Cena garners, and Piper did an excellent job by nearly pushing the Chain Gang Commander over the limit. One can only hope this whole story-line is being put in place to foreshadow the highly anticipated John Cena heel turn, something that has been long overdue for years on end.
Excellent choice in having The Miz be the one to end John Morrison's career with his contract expiring this week, as having Brodus Clay squash Morrison would not have been as effective. The Shaman of Sexy provided much more offense than I thought he would being "injured" and all, certainly looking impressive in his supposable last appearance for the company. It's also worth noting that this is the same exact match that we witnessed on the premiere episode of Raw in 2011, a true sense of symbolism. The Miz's promo that followed the contest was well done, as a new-found aggression for his character is needed if he expects to be taken seriously going back into the WWE Championship picture.
Throwaway Divas tag team match as always with it's two minute time limit, but not really surprising seeing it's been something on Raw we've been accustomed to for months. Honestly, I have absolutely no idea as to why the Divas of Doom were jogging around the ring, since I expected them to return after the bout and attack the babyfaces. Oddly booked indeed.
Yet another quality match between United States Champion Dolph Ziggler and Randy Orton, but nothing too outstanding since we've seen it all before in recent months. Wade Barrett did well on commentary, serving his purpose in getting his on-going rivalry with Orton across. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ziggler pick up the upset victory here, as this win does wonders for his future as a main event player on Monday nights.
Although Daniel Bryan's promo with Michael Cole and World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry didn't set the world on fire, I'm loving the great hype Raw has been giving SmackDown lately. Daniel Bryan has significantly improved on the mic since his debut, and Cole played his role nicely by being the voice of reason as usual. I don't feel Bryan's cheap shot to Henry going back up the ramp was all that necessary, but at least Mr. Money in the Bank has been given an edge going into his upcoming World Championship match-up against Henry on SmackDown.
CM Punk Googles David Otunga backstage.
Good match from Zack Ryder and Jack Swagger that received a bit more time than their previous encounter last month. The finish came off as somewhat awkward, but they made the best of it with a the quick finish. Some may complain that Swagger doesn't deserve to be treated as an enhancement talent, but he lost his true "swagger" a while ago, and now most hope has been lost for the former World Heavyweight Champion. Ryder, on the other hand, has amazing potential and a bright future if he continues to pick up credible victories such as these if his sights are still set on the United States Championship.
Intriguing promo for the second straight week, this time hyping the "resurrection" of Kane. I'm excited that we might finally see the long-awaited return of his threatening mask, as well as a more intimidating development to his character. This week's "Second 2012" promo that aired on YouTube was just as interesting, with my original speculation that it quite possibly could be Chris Jericho slowly coming to fruition. Fingers crossed this isn't another hoax for the Deadman, much like their failed attempt at surprising fans with Undertaker's return back in February.
Fun promo from Mick Foley. This isn't the greatest mic work of his career, but it was a nice treat to have him make an appearance on the broadcast and successfully hype the live holiday edition of SmackDown. Having him dress up as Santa Claus seemed pointless in my opinion given it's still late in November, but that's probably just the Scrooge in me talking.
Solid title match between WWE Champion CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio that wasn't as exciting as their confrontation at Survivor Series, but a great match by Raw main event standards. The crowd wasn't that much into the match until the later end, when the excitement really started to heat up. The Eddie Guerrero-like disqualification spot was a nice touch, and Punk utilizing the use of dirty tactics further plays up his careless attitude while also leaving the door open for a possible rematch at TLC. On a side note, it was quite annoying to hear Michael Cole continuously state how it was a "rare" occasion to see the title defended on Raw, despite the fact we witnessed one on the flagship show no more than a few months ago.
Overall, another strong edition of Raw that succeeded in all areas including entertaining in-ring action, continuation of various programs, and excellent hype for SmackDown's live holiday special on Tuesday night. One thing I noticed was that there was no mention or appearance by either Kevin Nash or Triple H, which leaves me questioning what they have planned for that specific rivalry. Brodus Clay's debut has been once again delayed until next week, but they've failed to deliver on their promises so much lately that I'm not holding my breath. Additionally, there's only two more shows until next month's TLC pay-per-view, so hopefully they begin to quickly build towards that show if they want it to succeed. Raw as a whole has significantly improved its quality in the past two weeks, so hopefully they keep going strong with the end of the year fast approaching.