It's day 379. Punk continues his reign as WWE Champion as we head into the TLC pay per view. Ryback gets one more crack at the WWE Champion in a TLC match. Will he finally crack through? Will the Shield intervene again? And is there a looming confrontation between Punk and The Great One, The Rock, yet this month?
Show coverage kicks off in about 15 minutes, at the top of the hour!
After the WWE intro, they give us a video teaser recapping the two major storylines - Sheamus and Big Show and Dolph Ziggler and John Cena. It hypes their big tag match tonight. They swing to a recap of the Shield involvement in the main event last week also. They hype if the Shield will explain themselves from last week's events.
Match #1 - Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane) vs. The Prime Time Players
Kane's pyro goes off and here comes Team Hell No as Cole and Lawler check in on commentary. Cole says the attack by the Shield unified Kane and Daniel Bryan. Shown in a skybox are the members of The Shield.
Kane calls them out, saying they're tough being up in the skybox. Kane invites them to come to the ring and give them something to fight about. They say nothing, nor do they move.
The members of the Shield watch on as the match gets underway. O'Neil gets dumped from the ring at one point as Kane works his offense. As Bryan gets a tag, they show Ambrose left in the skybox but the remaining members are missing. Cole tries to reason through why the Shield attacked Kane and Daniel Bryan last week, but Lawler calls it excuses..
Team Hell No continues to hold their own but are distracted by the Shield making their way to the ring as the show goes to break.
Out of commercial, the Players have gained a bit of control of the match. O'Neil tries to suplex Kane, but he counters. In the end, Bryan counters a roll-up into one of his own to get the win.
Immediately, the Shield hits the ring. Rollins and Ambrose go after Kane, and trap his arm in the stairs and kick the stairs. Reigns hits the ring and attacks Bryan from behind. Bryan tries to fight back, but the three team up on him and they hit their triple powerbomb. They exit through the crowd.
Lawler says that no one can believe a word that comes out of their mouths now. Cole agrees as Kane tends to Bryan in the ring.
Obviously the bigger story here is the advancement of the Shield story. I am fine with the tag match taking a bit of a back seat to them since they need some sense of establishment. This did well to get them over as a threat to open the show. The slow build throughout the match was well done, too.
Sheamus and Cena are talking in the locker room. Something about a "citation for a giraffe." Sheamus thanks Cena for helping him out on Smackdown. Cena says it was a plus for him to show on Smackdown and be able to beat up Dolph Ziggler also.
Sheamus runs through some really fast comments and Cena admits he has no idea what Sheamus said. Cena calms him down and says they need to get serious about their tag match tonight. Sheamus says that what he plans to do to Big Show will translate to any language.
We get a shot of AJ. Cole says she's been involved in a lot of controversy but she's getting back to what she loves and that's wrestle.
Cena kind of just flippantly talked about Ziggler, and Cena isn't taking him seriously - or so it would seem. That's just more of the same and it's not going to draw.
Match #2 - AJ vs. Tamina
Tamina works power to start off and AJ sells. Tamina puts her in a torture rack position, then hits a headbutt. She goes for the ropes for the Superfly Splash, but AJ rolls her up quickly for the win. Tamina sells frustration after the match.
They are going back to the same approach they had with Beth Phoenix as far as the dominant diva role by having her lose frequently. They have an issue between AJ and Tamina, but they treated the match like the entire focus is on AJ. Odd.
CM Punk's music hits and he and Paul Heyman head to the ring. Cole says it'll be interesting to see what Punk has to say about all that's going on.
Nice hook going to the break to see what he's going to say and/or do.
Out of the break, Heyman introduces himself and retorts "as if your opinion matters" when he's booed. He says he saw his children reading the WWE Encyclopedia this morning. He isn't going to shill it because there's not enough material about CM Punk in the book.
Heyman says there's something that he and Punk were too busy to notice. He says it's day 379 of Punk's reign. Heyman says Punk will pass Cena as the longest running champion of the modern era at day 381. Heyman says Punk deserves to be front and center in WWE's version of Mt. Rushmore.
Punk gets on the mic and says he's still being unfairly persecuted. He says he's proven for a year he's the best in the world and that it's not just a shirt slogan. He says people are classless and unintelligent for not giving him the respect he deserves.
Punk asks why he has to defend the title again against Ryback after facing him at the past two pay-per-view events. Punk blames the fans. He calls one guy out "Flair style" and says "hey baldy, you can't hold a job for as long as I've been champion!" He mocks the length of their marriages, too.
Punk says people say the reason he's champion is Heyman. Then they say it's Brad Maddox, then they say it's The Shield. That's all a lie, Punk says. He insists that he is the reason the fans bought tickets and he's the reason they're there.
"If it wasn't for me, you people would have nothing to look forward to on these dismal three-hour Raws." Punk encourages fans to leave and viewers to turn the channel if they don't like it.
The Miz's music hits. He comes out in a suit and does his 'really' bit. He says Punk is telling the fans to leave, but Miz encourages them to sit and enjoy. Miz says the people know the truth about Punk's lies. Punk questions who Miz is to cast judgment.
Miz reminds us he's the guy that cheated and took shortcuts as champion but he's man enough to admit it. Miz points out Maddox as Punk's crutch at Hell in a Cell and says Ryback would have fed on Punk had it not been for the Shield. Punk challenges Miz to come to the ring.
Miz says they could have a match, but instead he's challenging Miz to come to MizTV and prove he had nothing to do with Maddox and The Shield by taking a lie-detector test. Miz says he's already talked to the local authorities and they have given him the equipment to do the test.
Heyman takes the mic and questions if Miz really wants to put a mic in Punk's hand given he knows what Punk thinks of Miz behind the scenes. Miz calls Heyman a human walrus and says if he wanted Heyman to talk he'd have thrown a fish. Punk tells him, and the fans, to apologize for calling Heyman a walrus. Miz quips back "we're sorry, he's a really, really big walrus."
Miz challenges Punk to bring his best. He says he's giving Punk a chance to set the record straight with the truth. He asks if Punk wants to keep an asterisk next to his title run, which gets Punk worked up. He says he'll take the test and prove he's best in the world and it would force the fans and Miz to admit it.
Eh, hit and miss from Miz. He needed to tone down his more heelish annoying character and just bring his delivery straight. I do admit the lie detector thing could be interesting, but I'm betting we find Punk to be not involved and really Heyman is the guy behind it.
The announcers hype Cena and Sheamus vs. Ziggler and Show after the break.
Match #3 - John Cena and Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big Show
Sheamus and Ziggler start things off. Cena sells for the heels early on. Show and Ziggler make tags and keep working him over.
Sheamus gets a hot tag at the same time Show does. Sheamus hits an offensive flurry and goes up top. He lunges at Show but he gets hit with a spear. It was a pretty good spot and the crowd gasped over it. They go to commercial.
After the break, the heels keep working on Sheamus. Cena is waiting for the hot tag and eventually gets it. Cena goes on an offensive flurry.
The finish comes when Cena hits the AA on Ziggler while Sheamus hits White Noise on Big Show. Cena and Sheamus celebrate and Cena shakes hands with military members at ringside.
The crowd ate up the finish but it does nothing for Ziggler to gain momentum in this feud with Cena. Will this be a throwaway match at TLC?
The announcers hype up Vince McMahon showing up tonight. They feed it to a replay of the Punk/Heyman/Miz segment.
Damien Sandow comes out and cuts a promo. He is looking for an apprentice. He looks for someone in the crowd. A guy gets excited but Sandow says he wants the guy next to him who has all his teeth. The fan has a Little Jimmy shirt on.
The apprentice gets the first two questions right, but misses the third one, which was about poetry. Sandow berates him and tells him he should be exiled from the country.
Santino comes out and interrupts and tries to do the 'she sells seashells by the seashore' bit. Sandow answers but he's wrong. Santino tries to hit Sandow with the mic, but Sandow blocks it and knocks Marella down. Santino gets riled up and we're going to get an impromptu match.
Match #4 - Damien Sandow vs. Santino Marella
Joined in progress, Lawler is talking about Santino being a power-walking champion. In the ring, Marella pulls out the Cobra and Sandow takes a powder at ringside.
Santino goes out after him and gets stomped on when he goes back in the ring. Sandow pitches the Cobra sock away. A bit later, Sandow hits the Terminoose to get the win.
Live crowd was dead for this. Sandow got heat when he played to the crowd, but Santino is not getting the reactions he once did.
Dolph confronts Vickie and says he shouldn't have been in the tag match. He calls Show a terrible partner but Vickie says she's losing faith in him.
Ziggler asks for a rematch at TLC against Cena and he will steal the show like no one has ever seen. "Go show them, baby." Vickie says. They go for a hug but Vickie backs off due to the fraternizing thing. Dolph points out that someone's in her office.
In the office, Brad Maddox and his cameraman are waiting. Maddox says he's there to ensure no one will forget his name.
After commercial, Vickie asks why Maddox should be given a contract after what he put her through at Hell in a Cell. Maddox reminds her Punk had nothing in that and it was all him. He sucks up and says that Vickie is powerful because she has an eye for talent.
Vickie gives in and says that he will have a match tonight to earn his contract. If he wins, he's in. Maddox asks who his opponent is, and Vickie says it will be great TV. Maddox says "I know, I'm on it."
Obviously a good way to muddy the waters and keep a connection between Maddox and The Shield.
Match #5 - Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Sin Cara
Lawler makes some joke about regifting something for Cole but Cole misses it. Del Rio gets tied up in the ropes and takes a kick from Sin Cara. He follows up with a huracanrana and Del Rio goes crashing into the safety barrier. They go to commercial.
Del Rio gets control after the break. Sin Cara eats the barrier this time. Del Rio tries to take the mask off. Cole sells it that it would be a big embarassment if he lost his mask.
The finish comes when Sin Cara misses a swanton bomb off the ropes and Del Rio locks on the Cross Arm Breaker to get the submission win.
The fans weren't clicking with this early, but they did react to Sin Cara's offense down the line in the finish. Del Rio wasn't clicking but Sin Cara's offense was over.
Vince is backstage, and he tells a staff member to go get Vickie and he wants a conversation with her in the ring.
Vickie is introduced to the ring, and she in turn introduces Vince McMahon. She sucks up to him by complimenting his looks, but he insults her and says she looks almost comely. Vince talks about the scandal situation she's involved with. Vince leads her down the path of booking a match for TLC between Cena and Ziggler.
They go on and Vickie eventually agrees to a ladder match, but something needs to be on the line. Vince gets her to put Dolph's MITB briefcase on the line. Vince also goes on about the lie detector test upcoming and about how Vickie continues to "perpetuate this crap" about AJ and Cena. Vickie says that if Punk is found to be lying, Ryback gets Heyman next week.
Hate the idea, but it does explain the losing streak. Perhaps Ziggler ends up keeping it, but I still hate the idea.
The announcers talk about what just happened, then go to a shot backstage of Brad Maddox with his cameraman.
Match #6 - Randy Orton vs. Brad Maddox
Maddox comes out to crickets. Orton gets a big ovation. The match is all Orton. He hits the elevated DDT then the RKO for the win.
Afterward, the Shield hits the ring and attacks Orton. They beat him down and hit the powerbomb to leave him laying. Cole says there's no real explanation for their attacks.
The Shield vs. Kane, Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton could draw some buys - especially for the first match with the Shield.
The announcers hype up the lie detector segment. Miz says it won't be your mother's lie detector test since he will get the truth out of Punk.
Vickie yells at Charles Robinson about not keeping control of the situation in the ring moments ago. Dolph walks in and he expresses his anger about his MITB contract being put on the line. Ziggler talks about when AJ put his contract on the line against Chris Jericho.
Vickie asks what Dolph expected when Vince was right there in her face. Dolph says AJ was an ungrateful, power hungry amateur and Vickie is getting to be like her. He leaves.
Paul Heyman walks in and the two just stare at each other. Vickie tells him he better hope that Punk is telling the truth. Heyman smiles and walks off.
Cena enters and says he was told that Vickie wants to see him. Cena commends her for making the match at TLC and reminds us of the history of him being the first to lose a cash in. Cena says this time, he will successfully cash in and win the championship.
Cena goes to leave, but Vickie presents him with two ribbons that she found in AJ's locker last week. They are the wrong color but they have Cena's picture in green ring gear on it. She tells Cena that AJ gets obsessed when she gets involved with a guy. Cena tells her the ribbons are the wrong color and she needs to leave it alone. Vickie says if Cena doesn't learn from the past, it will repeat itself.
Painting AJ as obsessive and such is a good step in the storyline. Makes her crazy and unstable and all that.
We're about to get a tag match with Kofi Kingston and R-Truth against Wade Barrett and Antonio Cesaro. Teddy Long's music hits and he comes out. He sets the match up as a Fatal Fourway for one of the mid-card titles, voted by the fans. They vote that Cesaro must defend.
Match #7 - Antonio Cesaro (c) vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett vs. R-Truth; WWE US Championship
The fans allegedly voted 83% for this title to be defended. Kofi and Truth go one on one at one point. They work an evenly matched style routine that ends with them both going for dropkicks at the same time.
Kingston runs at ringside and tries a jump off the steps but eats an uppercut from Cesaro. Cesaro throws Kofi back in the ring as the show goes to commercial. After the break, the back and forth goes on. Two guys sell outside while two men work in the ring.
Later in the match, all four men are in the ring and hit a series of offense. Cesaro breaks a good near fall by Kingston on Barrett after a superplex. Barrett and Kingston end up going one on one and Kofi gets a good series of offense in.
Cesaro gets back into the fray and goes for his finisher on Barrett. Truth hits a lariat kick to break it up. Barrett hits the Bull Hammer on Truth, then Kofi hits the Trouble in Paradise. He goes for a cover but Cesaro picks up Kofi out of the cover and hits the Neutralizer to win.
Predictable but good action especially down the stretch as it finished. Cesaro showing off his strength was nice, too. This was a good final match since we're getting a talk segment to finish the show off.
The announcers recap the Survivor Series finish with the Shield intervening and Brad Maddox's interference at Hell in a Cell. They hype the Miz TV segment coming up next.
No sign of Ryback yet. I guess we'll get him in the closing segment.
We get an ad for Smackdown, featuring Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett. They then recap the Vince and Vickie segment and hype up the Cena vs. Ziggler ladder match at TLC.
Miz is in the ring and welcomes us to Miz TV. He introduces Fredrick Abramson and says he's from the local county sherriff's office. Miz gets the crowd to celebrate the local sherriff's office. He then introduces CM Punk. He comes out with Heyman in tow, holding the belt.
Abramson offers a handshake that Punk refuses. Abramson starts to hook Punk up to the machine while Miz explains how it works. Punk gets indignant and says he knows how it works. He mocks Miz for his predictable jokes and turning the WWE logo upside down on his mic.
Punk rips Miz and the fans as he's being hooked up. Miz follows Punk's rant with "I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention...". Punk shoots back with "just like when you were in wrestling school." Punk mocks Miz and Greensboro, saying they suck and asking "Am I lying now?" Miz starts running through questions.
He asks about the length of Punk's title run, whether Punk got his head shaved in 2010 by Rey Mysterio, and whether or not Punk lost to Randy Orton at WrestleMania. Punk begrudgingly answered that he did, but points out that Miz won because The Rock stuck his nose in the match. Punk puts himself over, saying everyone remembers his match but Miz doesn't even remember his because of a concussion.
Miz goads Heyman a bit with the walrus line, only to get glared at. The graph for the lie detector is being shown on the Tron. Punk is asked if he can beat Ryback alone, and the graph spikes. Abramson says Punk could be lying. Miz gets to the heart of it - asking if Punk worked with Maddox and The Shield.
Before Punk can answer, here comes The Shield. They attack Miz and destroy the Miz TV setup. They hit the powerbomb on Miz. Kane and Daniel Bryan come out and brawl with the three men. Ryback's music hits and here comes Big Hungry.
Ryback gets the better of Ambrose and tosses him into the crowd. He follows him out and keeps roughing him up. Kane and Bryan continue to brawl with Reigns and Rollins, getting the better of them. The six men brawl their way out of the arena.
Punk is left in the ring with Miz. He kicks him and yells "Am I lying?" and boots Miz to ringside. Punk's music hits and he poses on the ropes and acts cocky. All the while, Ryback has returned.
Ryback hits Shellshock on Punk and gets a big reaction. Ryback goes to ringside and pulls a ladder and a chair out from under the ring. He jabs Punk in the gut with the ladder, then hits him with the chair. Ryback goes back out and gets a table and sets it up. Ryback hits a big powerbomb through the table on Punk and leads "feed me more" chants as the show ends.
That was the right use of Ryback tonight. Saving him to the end of the show got him a big reaction and really made him look like he was over. The appearance was special.
I hate the idea of the MITB contract being put on the line at TLC, though it does add to the match. Ryback and The Shield had good nights tonight. The Shield's attacks made them look like a serious threat. We got a good four-way match in the midcard.
The show did drag in the normal spots though tonight. WWE still hasn't gotten the pacing of this three-hour format down. And for some reason, at least to this viewer, seeing Vince on TV was just so-so. It didn't feel big to me at all.
I'll have more to say on this show tomorrow night in Raw Afterthoughts. Until then, thanks for watching along tonight.