Merry Christmas to you and yours from all of here at Ring-Rap.com! This is a quick rundown of last night's Raw program that was taped in Pittsburgh, Pa. on 12/18/2012. We're into the holidays, so Raw next week I believe is also taped for New Year's Eve.
They give us the video that is out there on YouTube of the WWE roster singing their own special version of "Jingle Bells" that John Cena leads. They include an animation at the end with Cena smashing CM Punk and lighting the Christmas tree.
In the arena, Cole introduces the show, and Justin Roberts introduces our special guest host, Santa. Santa comes out as Cole tries to sing. Santa hands out presents around the side stage area to fans.
Del Rio's music hits and Ricardo does the entrance bit. Del Rio drives out and accidentally hits Santa. Ricardo cries like a schoolgirl and Del Rio sells shock and distress while the fans mock and chant at him. Cole and Lawler talk about it in hushed ones.
Del Rio and Ricardo look on as medics load Santa onto a board. As he's wheeled out, he flashes a thumbs up, which helps the scared kids feel a little better.
Out of commercial, they show the area surrounded with yellow police tape. Cole replays the accident situation before they head backstage.
There's a group of wrestlers along with Teddy Long that are showing their concern. Booker T comes out of the trainer's room and says it doesn't look good. Titus wonders about the kids. Booker says the show will go on and that's when Del Rio comes in.
Cena mocks Del Rio, and he tries to defend himself. Booker demands calm and says he knows Santa's last wish was to book Del Rio in a match. They set up a Miracle on 34th Street Fight between Del Rio and Cena. Booker yells at Cena to do it for Santa. Cena does the 1000 yard stare to draw inspiration and yells "do it for Santa!" himself as Yoshi Tatsu is shown cheering him on.
Kind of campy comedy to get to this match. It's the holidays. If this were in the middle of October I'd be frustrated, but it's Christmas Eve. I'll give it a pass.
Match #1 - Cody Rhodes vs. Kane (Tag champ)
We're trying to move on after the accident with Santa. Cole points out a "special relationship" between Kane and Santa, and this is hard for him.
Rhodes focuses his offense on the shoulder for the most part. Cody pulls a turnbuckle pad and somehow ends up distracting himself. Kane hits a chokeslam to finish him off.
These guys were moving in slow motion here and the match was a bit sloppy.
They plug the Royal Rumble, featuring the return of The Rock to pay per view.
Match #2 - Kaitlyn, Layla, Alicia Fox, and Natalya vs. Eve (c), Rosa Mendes, Tamina and Aksana; "Santa's Little Helper" tag match
Basic diva's action here. They use some back and forth action to get all the ladies involved, but in the end Kaitlyn hits her finisher on Eve to get the win. The faces celebrate.
Cole lets us know we'll get a Santa update after the break.
They show a fire, Christmas Tree and presents, then back out to show Ziggler and AJ snuggled up together. AJ is giddy about watching her favorite Christmas movie, which was her shoving Cena off the ladder at TLC to help Ziggler win. The two giggle and go back to their cuddling stuff.
Was it me, or did the chemistry seem off there?
Cole and King talk about the accident at the top of the show. Lawler makes up a song in the vein of "Grandma got run over by a Reindeer." Cole tells us that's speculation, then says in hushed tone that the North Pole is aware of Santa's condition. They believe he will 'kick out' of this.
They show Matt Striker backstage, and he gives us an update from the trainer's room. You can hear a heart monitor beeping while he says they'll give us more details later.
This puts me in mind of a three-hour parody show. They're utilizing the Santa thing as an overall show theme so at least that part is consistent.
Match #3 - Big Show (c) vs. Sheamus; Non-Title Lumberjack match
Mid-card guys in Santa hats are the lumberjacks. While they're coming out we get find out there's going to be a battle royale on Main Event to determine Antonio Cesaro's new #1 Contender for his US Championship.
Show ducks an early Brogue Kick and bails. Since he's with heel characters, he doesn't have to worry about getting beaten up. He regroups.
Back from break, Show works a key lock and sings. Sheamus interrupts his song though before getting dumped to the outside. A brawl ensues among the lumberjacks. Show hits a headbutt on Sheamus to restore order. Show tries to do the "ten punch" thing in the corner but Sheamus gets him up on his shoulders and hits an Electric Chair.
Show takes back over control, screaming at Santino. Santino gets some consolation from Brodus Clay. Show just can't put Sheamus away though as Sheamus hits White Noise for a good near fall. Sheamus cues up the Brogue Kick but Show ducks and throws Sheamus outside. Another brawl ensues.
Tensai sends Sheamus back in. Show tries the WMD Punch but Sheamus avoids. Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick to get the win. Afterward, all the lumberjacks hit the ring and brawl. The faces clear out the heels and they all celebrate with Sheamus.
Another good, solid match between Sheamus and Show. They work well together.
They give us a video recap of Tribute to the Troops. They give a long recap of the Miz TV segment with Kermit and Miss Piggy. They also hype up Cena vs. Del Rio and their street fight for later.
We get a brief recap of The Shield's attack on Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio from Smackdown this past Friday.
David Otunga introduces himself and says he's there to comment on what happened to Santa. He accuses the fans of pre-judging the facts. He says Del Rio was fulfilling his duties as a WWE Star, but Santa was guilty of a number of offenses. Zack Ryder comes out and says Del Rio ran over Santa. This leads to...
Match #4 - David Otunga vs. Zack Ryder
Cole keeps selling Santa's injuries to keep the overall storyline of the night going. The announcers trade lawyer jokes while Otunga dominates the match.
Ryder begins to mount a comeback, hitting a missile dropkick. He follows with the Broski Boot and the Rough Ryder to get the win.
As is the case with most holiday shows like this, the faces keep winning for a "feel good" experience. Not like Otunga getting a win would matter, but...
Booker T and Teddy are watching on via a monitor and they're excited about Otunga losing. Brad Maddox and his camera guy walk in. Maddox says he heard Booker wants to give him a contract and he won't let Booker down. Booker tells Maddox he sucked last week but he'll give him a shot against one of Santa's elves. Booker says it will make for great TV, just like Maddox wants. Booker tells Teddy "wait til you see this" and laughs.
Match #5 - Kofi Kingston (IC Champ) and The Miz vs. Antonio Cesaro (US Champ) and Wade Barrett
The announcers point out that they never thought they'd see Miz and Kofi team up after their feud. As the match starts they hype Miz's two movies on the 2013 horizon. Kofi drives Barrett out, then the action moves back in. Barrett tags in Cesaro to work with Kofi. Cole says Cesaro put up a game effort against Ryback last Tuesday on Smackdown. Nice enhancement there.
Miz and Barrett tag in, with Miz getting the better of a strike exchange. Kofi kicks Barrett in the head, which gives Miz an opening to hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Barrett for the win. Afterward, Cesaro yells at Barrett for losing.
We are going to get another update on Santa soon.
We see AJ and Dolph having their own Christmas celebration. AJ gives Dolph the MITB briefcase as a present. Dolph asks how he can ever repay her for helping him keep the briefcase. Before they kiss again, AJ pulls her robe off to show she has a cut up version of his t-shirt on. They rub noses.
Cole talks in a quiet voice while King looks dejected. They show the replay of the opening of the show again where Santa got run over by Del Rio. Cole says it was a shocking turn of events but when Santa gave a thumbs up it was a glimmer of hope.
Backstage, Striker tells us there isn't much to report right now on Santa's condition.
Brad Maddox makes his way out to the ring, singing. He wishes the ladies a happy holiday and leans against the ring. His match is next.
After commercial, Hornswoggle's music plays and he comes out to the ramp. Lawler says this is going to be too easy. Hornswoggle stops though, and he calls out Great Khali, dressed as an elf, for the next match.
Match #6 - Great Khali vs. Brad Maddox; if Maddox wins, he will get a contract
Maddox ducks and slaps Khali, yelling at him about not being an elf. Khali chops him then slaps Maddox across the chest a couple times. One of them knocks Maddox to ringside. Hornswoggle splashes Maddox with his butt. That could have caused a DQ, but the referee lets it go on.
Maddox gets in some offense then does a Hogan pose. He tries something from the second rope but Khali slaps him in mid-air. Khali wins with the Punjabi Plunge. Afterward, Khali offers Christmas greetings then dances.
I guess Maddox will get another shot on Smackdown?
They show Punk and Heyman walking down the hallway, and Punk is still on crutches. He's up next.
In Ring Segment:
Punk's music hits and he and Heyman come out to the ring. Cole plugs the Ryback vs. Punk match on January 7 in a TLC match. Punk hobbles down on his crutches, and he yells at Heyman to do something about it.
Punk makes a couple jokes, and waits out a "Here we go Steelers" chant. Punk mocks the Steelers and says Christmas has been ruined. It's not his fault and he says that it's the serious situation that developed around his injury. Punk tells the fans to boo Ryback and that Ryback is the one that screwed his knee up that he can't walk without crutches.
Punk asks what happens to someone who ruins Christmas and Hanukkah. Should he be fired? Suspended? No, they instead rewarded Ryback with a title match. Punk says he could understand if it were proven Punk was working with Maddox or The Shield, but that hasn't been proven. Punk says Ryback is living a lie and believing his own crap. Punk heels on the fans and calls them drunk bar hoppers.
Heyman takes the mic and tells the crowd to not boo Punk. He says Punk has been WWE Champion for 400 days. Throughout his reign, Punk has been victimized by a conspiracy to take away the WWE Championship. Heyman says if you don't believe it, look at Ryback who has been given two chances to take the championship away but has failed.
Punk takes the mic again. He tells Ryback to listen up and puts himself over. He says he's better than Ryback on one leg, one arm, two legs, or any other circumstance. Ryback's music hits and Big Hungry makes his way to the ring to confront Punk.
Heyman tells Ryback that Punk is still not cleared and he will sue Ryback for assault if he touches Punk. Ryback says he doesn't need to lay his hands on Punk. If Punk is able in two weeks, which he should be, they will wrestle for the WWE Championship in the match they were supposed to have - a TLC match. Ryback turns the TLC thing into a crowd chant while Punk and Heyman slip out of the ring.
A good advancement to the first Raw of January 2013 with solid mic work from Punk and Heyman. Ryback wasn't bad here, either.
Match #7 - Damien Sandow vs. Daniel Bryan (tag champ)
Sandow demands silence but Bryan shouts No at him. They exchange a bit before Sandow bails. He eats a baseball slide kick.
Sandow dominates for a while as Cole and Lawler discuss Christmas presents. Sandow hits his Elbow of Disdain. He teases the neckbreaker finisher, but Bryan counters to the No Lock for the submission win.
Basic, good TV match.
Match #8 - Brodus Clay, Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd, Santino Marella, and The Usos vs. The Prime Time Players, Three Man Band (Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, and Drew McIntyre) and Tensai
The first 11 men are in the ring, and Clay gets his entrance on TV. The heels control the early going working on one of the Usos. Tensai mocks the Uso chant. The heels keep working frequent tags. The Uso in the ring tags his brother, who drops Slater. Uso hits a butt bomb and that brings partners of both teams in for a brawl.
We get another brawl, then Tensai eats the Cobra from Santino. Slater hits a DDT on Santino, but eats a superkick from Uso. Gabriel hits a springboard moonsault, and Kidd hits a springboard elbow. Uso comes off the ropes with a splash for the win. The faces celebrate.
The announcers hype up Cena vs. Del Rio for the main event and give us a show reset.
Daniel Bryan and Kane talk, and Bryan says it was great they won their matches tonight. Bryan says that Christmas is his favorite day, but Kane says he hates Christmas. Kane got Bryan a present though, and gives him a box. In the box is Bryan's own Slammy award that Bryan thinks is awesome. Bryan disappears for a moment to bring back Kane's present, a small dog. Kane wasn't sure what to think then says he's starving. Bryan shouts "NO!" and says animals are friends, not food.
Elsewhere, AJ reads a story to Dolph Ziggler. She rips Cena, Vickie, Punk, Bryan and Kane. AJ rhymes about Ziggler, saying he's the man who "stuffs her stocking." Ziggler leans in for a kiss but AJ pushes him away. They make out, knocking over the tree.
They go back out to the stage, showing where Santa was run over. Cole talks about how it's a disturbing scene. He asks if Santa will be able to deliver presents and if he'll make it.
They show the heart monitor again. Striker says that Santa has taken a turn for the worse and will be taken to a medical facility. The monitor's beeping turns into a Christmas carol and Santa's feet click together.
Match #9 - John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez); Miracle on 34th Street Fight
Cena gets his intro first as Cole gets excited that there's hope for Santa. Lawler hypes up that Cena hopes to save Christmas. They cut to break before Del Rio gets his entrance.
Ricardo introduces Del Rio. He walks out onto the stage and surveys the scene where his car is sitting. Del Rio walks to the ring while Cole recaps the opening segment.
The bell sounds and Cena yells at Del Rio for running over Santa. Del Rio pleads that it was an accident. A shoving match ensues and Cena knocks Del Rio outside. They brawl outside and Del Rio takes control. Del Rio calls for a mic and says he didn't try to hurt Santa. He pops Cena with the mic, then says he likes Christmas and goes to pop Cena again. Cena blocks the shot and shouts Santa in the mic before he kicks Del Rio down.
Outside, Cena finds a present that has a chair. Cena pops Del Rio with the chair, then Ricardo interjects. Ricardo leads Cena on a chase around the ring that nets Cena a right hand. Ricardo retrieves a present for Del Rio, which is a pie. Del Rio tries to splat Cena with the pie, but Ricardo gets it instead.
Cena follows up with his signature offense. Del Rio gets thrown through the ropes to the floor. The two fight their way up to the stage. Cena opens one of the boxes under the tree and finds a TV monitor. He knocks Del Rio down with it as they go to break.
After commercial, Del Rio is in control. Cena sells. Del Rio opens a box to discover a teddy bear. He holds it up, looking all angry and then throws it at Cena. Kinda funny. Cena no-sells it and dumps a box over Ricardo's head. Del Rio blasts Cena down the ramp. They head toward the ring and Del Rio goes for a whip to the guardrail that Cena reverses. Cena goes back to the stage and gets one of the trees and drops it on Del Rio's head.
Lawler quotes "Christmas Vacation" as Cena goes back to the stage. He opens another present, and in that package is a bowling ball. Cena measures and throws the ball at Del Rio's...uh...five pin. Strike. Cena opens another gift at ringside, which is a fire extinguisher.
We've gotten back to the ring. Del Rio begs off, but Cena sprays him with the fire extinguisher anyhow. Ricardo gets involved again, locking a sleeper on Cena. Santa's music plays.
Here comes Santa, and Ricardo rushes to ringside to meet him. Santa hits him with the toy sack. He pulls out Socko, and locks on the Mandible Claw hold on Del Rio, turning him around to Cena to deliver the AA. Cena covers for the win.
A fun, cartoony style street fight to sell the overall theme of the show for the night and send the fans home happy. The "bad" Del Rio got his for hitting Santa.
Afterward, Santa flashes the Mandible Claw hand gesture. Cena poses for the fans and Santa gets in the ring with him to toss presents out to the crowd. Cole wishes everyone a Merry Christmas while Cena and Santa hug to close out the show.
For a Christmas Eve special, it was an alright show. If you were expecting major storyline and feud advancements, this was not your night and you were let down. But if you just wanted some fun, wrestling-based Christmas programming, you got what you were expecting.
They did give us some small hook for Jan. 7, with Ryback and Punk facing off in one of the few serious moments of the night to set up their title fight. I suspect we know the winner already with Rock returning for the Rumble.
With next week's show falling on New Years' Eve, we won't be doing live coverage. We will bring you a follow-up report like this sometime on New Years' Day. Enjoy the holiday with your families and be sure to catch up with our Raw coverage after a safe and happy New Year Celebration!