When last we left our heroes, an Ultimate Showdown appeared to loom. After brushing aside Alberto Del Rio, John Cena set his sights on Randy Orton. But why? He's already a champion, and one title isn't better than the other, is it? Meanwhile, what happens in the undercard, with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan taking out the Wyatts, Roman Reigns dominating his match, and Big E Langston and the Miz winning their singles bouts? Has Survivor Series any long-term impact?
The look-in ad informs us that we have special guest host Michael Strahan and will talk about the Show/Orton match, opening with the WWE Champion, whomever it may be.
- The PG Era Rant for Raw, November 25, 2013.
- Live from Long Island.
- Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler.
- This show is dedicated to the memory of Mad Dog Vachon.
- And now, Randy Orton joins us to confirm he won last night. Apparently Big Show lost to the Distraction Finish on Pay Per View. Ha ha! Tonight CM Punk and Daniel Bryan will face off against all three rednecks of the Wyatt Family. Orton starts by asking for an apology from all the doubters because he's still the champ. Orton introduces us to The Authority, just so we know who's important on this show. JBL and Cole are 4 minutes into the show and already JBL is resorting to threats. HHH says the Authority is pleased with what Orton achieved last night. HHH says he hand-picked Orton to be the future 10 years ago, and now they take credit for motivating Orton. And hey, it's nice to prove the McMahons right. Orton says what we're all thinking: why is this about you? Orton says he didn't need their help, but he got it and he doesn't like it. HHH makes sure to emphasize physical in physical interference as the crowd DEMANDS Daniel Bryan. Orton and HHH ignore the crowd (until Orton tells them to stop with the YES chant) and Orton says he can take care of himself. He can handle Big Show “unlike somebody else I know”. Orton, the face of the company, WON. Orton is the greatest superstar in the WWE's 50 years, and nobody can take it away from him. This is the Orton I miss. But before HHH can rebut, The Other Champ Is Here! Cena pretends to introduce himself to Orton. Stephanie stops their discussion before it gets heated. Stephanie doesn't like wastes of time, so what does Cena want? For them to listen to the fans! Cena stands up for Daniel Bryan and says the fans are sick of administrative BS. They hate entitlement, and they hate Orton being a little boy. But enough of that: who's THE Champion? After all, there are TWO champs. Cena uses this time to call for a title unification match. Cena cuts off Orton talking to HHH, and he demands that Orton himself answer. Cena wants the match TONIGHT! The crowd loves the idea, and even Stephanie admits it's a good idea. Orton says the Authority's in league with Cena, but HHH tells him to grow up. Really? HHH eggs Orton before making the match for TLC: the unification match in a TLC match. Orton hates this idea, but he agrees to do the photo op. If they're teasing a Cena/Orton double turn, it's done well, but I don't see them following through because Cena's their cash cow. Although does anyone else find it interesting that John Cena started by pointing out the love for Daniel Bryan and ended by getting himself the title match?
- Tonight, Rey Mysterio and the Rhodeses face the Shield.
- Shield v. Rhodes Brothers and Rey Mysterio. The announcers point out that Roman Reigns tied Diesel's record from 1994 with four eliminations. Shield jump everyone to start, which allows Reigns to attack Goldust to start. Rollins continues with the stomping before bringing in Ambrose, who gets the power drive elbow and big stomp. Enter Rollins, who floors Goldust with a gut punch and dropkick. Ambrose back in, and Goldust gets wishboned. Ambrose rakes Goldust across the middle rope and tries a dropkick only to get catapulted to the apron. Ambrose rolls back in, but is hit with the kneeling uppercut. Rollins in, who cuts off the hot tag but gets dumped over the top. Rollins springboards into an inverted atomic drop, but Reigns with a lariat to stop the hot tag. It gets two as we go to break. We return with Goldust trying to fight out of an Ambrose hold, only to get a knee to the gut. Reigns in, but Goldust DDTs both men and looks for a tag. Rollins knocks Cody off the apron, but Goldust backdrops him and it's hot tag Rey. Rey sticks and moves on Rollins, but his tilt-a-whirl is caught, only for Rey to send him into the ropes. Both men do body presses and go down. Now Cody's in, and he missile dropkicks Ambrose. Brisco rollup on Ambrose gets two. Alabama Slam, Reigns saves. Rey in on Reigns, low-bridging him. Rollins is set up for the 619, but Reigns returns and spears the hell out of Rey and Goldust. Cody dropkicks Reigns out of the ring, following with the Disaster kick on him. Rollins is set up for Cross Rhodes, but Ambrose with the bulldog driver to win at 8:26. WAY too short to have a commercial break. **1/4
- Up next, Michael Strahan. Plus, Dolph Ziggler and Damien Sandow will face off in a WWE App match. Is it hardcore, street fight, or lumberjack? And aren't two of them the exact same match?
- MizTV is on the air. Miz gets the honors of talking to Michael Strahan. Only not really: it's Titus O'Neil pretending to be Strahan. Lisp and all. Miz asks “Strahan”: what's with the gap in his teeth? O'Neil says it shows life – especially when he smiles. Miz: “That gap's wider than the one between the Giants and the playoffs.” Yes, Miz is a BAD PERSON now. “Strahan” talks about how great O'Neil is. But before the joke an go any further, the real Michael Strahan emerges. Strahan fires up the crowd and thanks Titus and Miz for being entertaining, though their jokes were WEAK. He tells Titus his Gap routine is weak. Strahan says he wants to have fun tonight, and hams it up. He then says that “on very good Authority” there will be a “Double Team Tag Team Main Event”. It will be Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio (“Oh, you don't like them. Okay.”) against Big Show and John Cena. Is Strahan trying to be cool or is he always like this? Miz compliments Strahan on being a host, but Miz is a host AND a wrestler. He asks Strahan if he thinks he can hack it? Strahan: “I think Kelly Ripa's tougher than you.” Now it's O'Neil playing peacemaker between the two as the crowd chants for Kelly Ripa. Seriously. Miz offers to give Strahan a hiptoss, which Strahan agrees to. Did I miss something? Is there a point? Strahan blocks the hiptoss (“He was stiff”), so O'Neil decides to step in. Strahan blocks O'Neil too. At least I assume they're blocking. Miz asks Strahan to pretend Miz is Tony Romo (even O'Neil thinks that's a mistake). O'Neil hypes up the crowd... and Strahan reverses the hiptoss on the Miz. O'Neil and Strahan dance... until Strahan hiptosses O'Neil too. But no hard feelings. Congratulations, you're now on daytime talk TV and all you had to do was expose the business.
- HAVE WE TOLD YOU HOW TO GET THE WWE APP YET?
- Curtis Axel and Ryback v. Big E Langston and Mark Henry. That title already looks cooler around Langston than it ever did around Axel. Langston and Aexl start, with Axel punching away. Langston reverses a whip and rams Axel in the gut, following up with multiple rib busters. Ryback tags himself in and gets a spinebuster and splash for one as the crowd keeps up the Goldberg chant. Military press follows for another one. Axel is back in, and he throws the elbows and goes ground-and-pound. Ryback returns and hooks a vicious... chinlock. Langston fights out and catches Ryback in a Greco-Roman throw. Hot tag Henry, who steamrolls Axel and gets the Junkyard Headbutt. Running powerslam and Langston knocks Ryback away. World's Strongest Slam to Axel ends it at 2:31. Nothing to see here, but welcome back to Henry. 1/2*
- For those of you who loved that Divas match last night, we're doing it again tonight! For the rest of you, sorry.
- Let's look back at the opening segment and talk about tonight's main event and stuff.
- Team Total Divas v. Team True Divas. Eliminations count. Aksana starts against one of the Bellas – I think Brie – and shoves her away before ducking out of the ring. Brie with a Russian legsweep and rollup for one as the crowd asks for Tamina of all people. Brie spanks Aksana and gets the faceplant to eliminate Aksana at 0:55. Rosa is dropkicked and dragged to the Total corner, bringing in Nikki as they get Double Trouble for the pin at 1:17. Tamina and Naomi jump in, and the Funkadactyls get a double suplex on Tamina, followed by a double split legdrop. Naomi does a Rube Goldberg stunner to Tamina, but gets superkicked hard for the pin at 2:19. Cameron dives in, but Tamina rolls through and (eventually) gets a Samoan drop to pin her at 2:45. Natalya's in with a cradle for one, but Tamina clotheslines her. Tamina stomps away in the corner and gets the JACKET THROW OF DOOM. Blind charge misses, and Natalya with a discus lariat and suplex. Slam to Tamina, and JoJo comes in to pin at 3:37. Alicia Fox misses a high kick and gets cradled for one. Rollup for one as JoJo looks for quick pins. Alicia with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and JoJo's out at 4:07. Eva Marie in to big boos as she takes over on Alicia. Fox goes for the Brisco roll, but Eva Marie blocks it for the pin at 4:29. Natalya and Kaitlyn now, and Natalya gets out of a headlock to run into a shoulder tackle for two. Natalya with a kick, discus lariat misses, and Kaitlyn with the gutbuster try. Natalya gets out, and eventually tries the Sharpshooter, hooking it to get the tap at 5:31. AJ enters now as Natalya is HUNGRY for more. She jumps into Natalya's arms as the crowd is on AJ's side. Sunset flip by AJ is blocked. AJ avoids the Sharpshooter and pins Natalya with the tights at 6:09. She taunts Natalya, so Brie enters and gets the facejam to pin AJ at 6:30. It's 3 on 1 now on Summer Rae, who is none too happy with this development (JBL: “She can count!”). Summer Rae tries to dance for no discernible reason, so Nikki dances the Worm. Summer Rae tries it (it's more of a spastic tantrum) and tries to leave, but Eva Marie won't let her leave as the fans ask her to twerk. Brie and Eva Marie won't let Summer walk out, so Nikki gets a torture rack drop for the pin at 8:19. Well, if you HAVE to give the Divas ten minutes on Raw, I can think of worse ways to do it. 1/2* JBL and Lawler ask Cole to do the Worm.
- We look back at the Broadway Brawl from last week, including the Double J homage. This is our way of saying we have a WWE App rematch.
- The Slammys are coming December 9.
- Before we can have the WWE App Match, Damien Sandow says he's above this sort of thing. He calls the match “circus-like”, and it's hard to argue. Where were we?
- Hardcore Match (37%): Damien Sandow v. Dolph Ziggler. All three choices got at least 30%, which goes to show that maybe there's no interest in any of them. Ziggler is in a Tavares Islanders jersey. And yes, the weapons are the upper-crust props because it's called the HAMPTONS Hardcore Match. Really. Well, that and a garbage can. Sandow charges with the nine-iron but gets dropkicked. Dolph goes for a club, but Sandow knocks him down as it sounds like the crowd wants a Ryder run-in. Sandow punches away in the ropes and slides Dolph out of the ring, as we see why – Dolph's wearing Ryder's T-shirt. Sandow rips THAT shirt off too and throws Dolph into the trash can on the outside. Dolph reverses Sandow into the timekeeper area and clotheslines him into the area as JBL and Lawler exchange rich jokes. Sandow uses the house mic on Dolph as Cole references the Mean Street Posse. Sandow dives off onto Dolph, but Dolph climbs out of a pick-up and puts the trash can on Sandow before dropkicking it/him as we go to break. We come back with Sandow choking Dolph with his boot as we see the weapons are gone. Sandow continues stomping away and empties a trash can, but Dolph gives him a Rude Awakening on the refuse. Dolph with the YACHTING OAR OF DOOM, but Sandow cuts him off and throws knees before slamming him down. He puts the jersey over Dolph and lands the Cubito Aequet as the crowd appears to be asking for Ryder again. Dolph crawls halfway under the ring and finds a fire extinguisher, and Sandow gets a face full of CO2. Back in, Dolph leaps onto Sandow in the corner for the ten-punch count-along into a neckbreaker. As this is a hardcore match, no one tries a near-fall. Dolph smashes Sandow with the oar and gets a Rocker Dropper for two. I hate being proven wrong. Sandow crawls out of the ring, with Dolph following but running into a trash can. The crowd is losing patience and begins a Randy Savage chant. Sandow sends Dolph into the steps as security appears to be escorting someone out and the crowd cares about that. Sandow stomps and punches away. He gets a tennis racket, but Dolph catches him with the high jump DDT on a chair for two. Stinger Splash misses, and Sandow breaks an oar over Dolph's back before hitting the full nelson slam on a trashcan for the pin at 11:35. You know, the Hardcore matches of the Attitude Era were quickly descending into self-parody, and this doesn't help matters at all. *3/4
- The Miz is in a made for TV movie on ABC Family. And here's the star of the show in the audience!
- Meanwhile, Santino and Michael Strahan are having a fun talk we know nothing about, but Santino freaks out because Erick Rowan is in the picture. He offers Strahan a sheep mask. Strahan puts it on, feeling pressured to do so. They both look to the camera and back at each other as Rowan leaves. Strahan is as unsettled as Santino... who attempts to tie this into Thanksgiving with a lamb's mask turkey. Strahan is as confused as the rest of us. Had they done the Wyatt cut-out when they looked to the camera, that would've been perfect.
- It's going to be a special Thanksgiving SmackDown on Friday, and they're all but promising a food fight.
- Renee Young is in the ring and will interview CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Punk starts by feeding the crowd some questions that have YES answers, with Bryan answering. They survived last night, and now the deck is stacked against them because Bray Wyatt's in it. But they'll get their hands on the false prophet Bray Wyatt in Long Island. They're ready for a fight. Also, it's weird that they have their own microphones and Renee's doing nothing. CM Punk than asks what their team name should be, which throws Bryan because the answer isn't YES or NO. Punk says most people would be afraid of the Wyatt Family. Handicap matches are the Authority's way of fixing problems (“Good thinking, HHH. Real creative.”). Punk then starts naming random team names (and all of Colt Cabana's ring names) as opponents. Also, the Ring Crew Express gets a name check. But Punk and Bryan will burn them all to the ground. I think Punk drank WAY too much Pepsi tonight. Bryan says he's stared Wyatt down and knows he's not done and won't stop until Bryan and Punk are done, but that WILL NOT HAPPEN. Bryan asks what time it is, and now Punk answers. And here comes the opposition.
- Wyatt Family v. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Rowan and Punk start. Punk kicks away, but Rowan throws him down. Punk throws forearms, but Rowan mauls him in the corner and pulls him out by the ear for a slam. Punk bails out and kicks the legs away. Bryan in, and he keeps the kicks up. Rowan throws Bryan into the ropes and gets a back elbow. Bryan is caught in the wrong corner, and Harper comes in with headbutts. Bryan does the corner flip and clothesline to Harper, bringing Punk in. Punk tries a snapmare, but Harper blocks and sends Punk into the corner. Blind charge misses, and Punk works Harper over in the corner to bring Bryan in. They kick away on the hamstring, with Bryan getting a dragon screw. Bryan with a European Uppercut series. Harper returns in kind and wins the exchange. Wyatt demands in, and Harper obliges. Wyatt slaps the taste out of Bryan (“YOU ASKED FOR THIS”) before casually kicking away on Bryan. A headbutt follows as Wyatt keeps taunting, then a falling headbutt. Rowan enters with a kick to Bryan's head, then a slam. Rowan picks Bryan up by the beard and headbutts him. Big boot in the corner misses, though, and Punk gets the tag. Diving clothesline to Rowan, but a few more are needed to knock him over as a leg lariat does it. Running knee to Rowan in the ropes sends Rowan to the floor, and Punk follows with a tope suicida before climbing the barricade to celebrate. Back in, it's Punk's floating neckbreaker to set up the Savage Elbow. It connects for two. Punk calls for GTS, but Harper cuts it off. Rowan is able to get up and FLINGS Punk out of the ring face-first and at Harper's feet as we go to break. [For those curious why I interchange names for the flying elbow, remember this: Randy Savage would tuck the elbow to his body when he flew. Shawn Michaels would extend the elbow outward and lead with it. So when Punk overestimates his flying capabilities and has to compensate by extending the arm, it's the Heartbreak Elbow, not the Savage Elbow like it was tonight. I love having commercial breaks for these sidebars.] We return with Rowan beating up Punk and applying a chinlock. Punk elbows out, but gets clubbered. Wyatt tags in and kicks away, adding headbutts. He boxes Punk in the corner and slams him down. It gets one. He puts his weight on Punk to stop him and tags Harper in for the Gator Roll into a side sleeper. Punk punches his way free, only to get his eyes raked and receive an uppercut. Rowan in, and Punk gets whipped into a bearhug by Rowan. Punk elbows out to get free, then tries a sunset flip, but Rowan picks him up only to get roundhouse kicked. Harper and Bryan both in, and Bryan clears out Wyatt before punching away on Harper. A dive to Wyatt and Hotshot to Harper leads to a missile dropkick on Harper and kip-up. YES kicks are next, but the exclamation point is missed, so Bryan hooks a rana and the YES lock. Rowan saves. Bryan avoids a charge and goes coast-to-coast with dropkick on both men. Harper catches Bryan with a Michinoku Driver for two, Punk saves. It's BONZO GONZO now as the ref tries to clear the ring a little before DQ'ing the Wyatts at 13:27. LAME. Punk is disposed of by a Harper discus lariat as Wyatt and Rowan throw Bryan into the barricade. The Family picks Bryan up and carries him off away from Punk, so expect him to be in a suit and the Authority's stooge in three months. Punk sees this and tries to do something, but Roman Reigns and the Shield cut him off with a spear. They throw Punk back into the ring and surround him, hitting the Triplebomb. The crowd is numb. Good match that needed a finish before they did that heel beating, but other than that, TV gold. **3/4
- Meanwhile, Miz and his co-host talk about their TV movie and Miz's match later that night. She wishes him good luck.
- Kofi Kingston v. The Miz. At least there's logic behind the linear booking here. I approve. As a reminder, during the pre-show last night, Miz won by reversing a roll-up, but Kofi refused a handshake. Kofi offers it to start tonight, but BOTH men try to slap the other in a neat spot. A long lockup spot as Miz gets a headlock and Kofi reverses out into a headlock takedown. Miz to the scissors, Kofi slides out, and both men get quick one-counts and reverse hiptosses back and forth. Kofi even calls back to Strahan. Kofi lands on his feet out of another one, but Miz avoids a big jumping kick. Kofi with the back waistlock, but Miz reverses, so Kofi reverses, so Miz with a snapmare but walks into a dropkick and gets dumped. Kofi fakes a dive to the outside. Kofi with a trip into a front facelock. Miz fights out, but Kofi tries a headscissors only for Miz to get a knee to the gut and running kick for one. Miz HITS THE CHINLOCK as the crowd doesn't care much. Neither do the announcers. Miz goes to knees to the gut, but Kofi avoids a back suplex and blind charge and chops away on Miz, landing a dropkick. Leaping lariat follows to set up the Boom Drop. The crowd is dead and won't even do much of the clap to build up Trouble in Paradise. Miz catches it, Kofi avoids the Figure-FOur, and Kofi with the SOS for two. Miz runs into the pendulum kick from Kofi, who springboards in with a bodypress for two. Miz with a crucifix to get the pin at 4:58. Not a bad five-minute match, but the crowd just plain didn't care. **
- Mick Foley does some WWEShop stuff. As all of his personalities. Well, sort of – I guess Cactus Jack has been subsumed into regular Foley.
- Jerry Lawler talks to the winner of a benefit auction – Charles “The Kosher Butcher” Tebele. Even R-Truth is caught off-guard. But he recovers to do his shtick. He and Brodus Clay decided to give a brother a chance. So, the Funkadactyls will join Xavier Woods on their way to the ring to Brodus Clay's music. This is just silly enough to get over.
- Xavier Woods v. Heath Slater. Slater with a waistlock. They trade arm holds as the crowd chants... something... and Woods gets the advantage. Slater fights out and corners Woods, but Woods gets out with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and BIG chop. Slater catches Woods trying to jump over him and delivers Snake Eyes. Slater stomps away on Woods and hits the chinlock on the ground. Slater nails a leg lariat for two after Woods fights out. Slater keeps in control in the corner, but a blind charge misses. Woods uses the left hand repeatedly, followed by a headbutt and discus punch. Comeback is on as Slater goes into the corner and gets hit with the Honor Roll. Lost in the Woods finishes at 3:18. Woods goes to celebrate with the auction winner from earlier. Everybody looked like they had fun, so I'll be generous. *1/2
- A look into the History of WWE's chapter on Saturday Night's Main Event, which had better ratings than SNL! Of course, those were SNL's dark days, but honestly, it's still nothing to sneeze at.
- The Bella Twins are fangirling over Michael Strahan. Strahan signs footballs for them, even IF they like the Eagles. Then the Funkadactyls get their footballs signed and do some flirting. And then it's Eva Marie's turn... but she thinks SHE'S the celebrity. And then Goldust is the next Diva. He snarls at Strahan. Goldust just saved Michael Strahan's appearance.
- We look at WWE 2K14 and at the Rock/Cena series, the Rock/Austin series, and Rock/Hogan. The WWE dot-com crowd said Austin was Rock's greatest rival. Of course.
- Backstage, Strahan meets John Cena, and the two laugh about his appearance on Kelly & Mike earlier. This is to let us know the tag match is next.
- We get a videogame ad disguised as a package on Randy Orton's kayfabe greatness.
- Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio v. Big Show and John Cena. Wait, was Fandango on Superstars? His silhouette was clearly visible above the ring on Orton's entrance. And by the way, why is JBL yelling “VIVA LA MEXICO”? First off, it's Viva Mexico, no article. Secondly, JBL was Zeb Colter before Colter was Colter. It was his whole thing during his feuds with Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. Are we supposed to forget that? Show races (if you can call it that) to the ring and chases the heels away. Show and Del Rio start as JBL finally says what I'm thinking: why was Big Show distracted? Show backs Del Rio into the corner and slugs away, including a CHOP OF DOOM. Show throws Del Rio into the corner and hushes the crowd before adding another megaCHOP. Del Rio tries to fight out to the gut, but Show runs him over. Back in the corner again, but the crowd ignores Show's calls for quiet. Not that it matters, as Del Rio avoids the CHOP only to get headbutted down. Show throws Del Rio to tag in Orton, and Show boxes him down too. Big shots to the gut and another CHOP OF DOOM as Show hasn't sold a thing. Crowd asks for One More Time, and Show obliges. Show with a headbutt to Orton to floor him, then a slam and elbowdrop for two. Show chokes Orton away on the ropes like the Hogan disciple he is as we go to break. [For those who are new to the PG Era rant: I hate Big Show and think he needs to retire.] We return with Cena as face-in-peril as Del Rio kicks Cena in the legs and DDTs his foot. Del Rio with punches to the side of the head. He hangs Cena in the Tree of Woe and grinds his forearm into Cena, but a diving charge misses. Cena goes up top, but Del Rio catches him with a step-up enzuigiri for two. Orton in with European uppercuts, and Del Rio adds a cheap shot. Orton gets two off of it. Kneedrop gets two. Orton goes straight to the chinlock now, but Cena back suplexes out of it. Del Rio charges into an AA, but escapes and gets a DDT for two. Del Rio mocks Cena, but does his out-of-the-ring miss (I like that spot). Del Rio is VERY slow to recover, and that allows the hot tag to Show. Show beals Del Rio in and clotheslines him over repeatedly. Backdrop follows, but a blind charge misses and Del Rio gets a basement dropkick as Show finally sells something. Superkick follows, and Del Rio wants the armbar. Show is dazed as the official looks at him, but Del Rio does a boot rake to keep on the pressure. Orton enters and stomps away on Show's head, getting two. Del Rio in with another thrust kick, getting two. Show tries to tag Orton in, not sure where he is, then crawls into a dropkick by Del Rio. Orton drops a knee on Show's head for two. The doctor runs in at this point to check on Show and make sure he's okay, and we can hear Show say he doesn't know where he is. Show insists on continuing, so Orton jumps him to continue the match. Show shoves Orton aside and wants the chokeslam, but Orton gets a DDT. Del Rio wants the Punt, and Orton is ready to give it. But Show is able to catch him with a spear for a Double KO. Hot tag Cena, and he runs over Del Rio with his comeback. Five Knuckle Shuffle is set up, but Del Rio kicks Cena and gets a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Big Show is still dazed. Del Rio with the armbreaker, but Cena gets the STF as a counter for the tapout at 15:33. This match was a Hogan match. **1/4 Del Rio nails Cena from behind and stomps away, kicking Cena. He goes for the armbreaker, but Cena avoids it and gives Del Rio the AA, only for Orton to nail him with the belt. Orton then grabs Cena's title and poses over Cena with BOTH belts to end the show.
Okay, I need to be more optimistic than normal, but I can't find anything that stood out on this show. Even the big announcements could have been handled better. The Authority is played at this point; Orton doesn't seem like a strong champ, and they're teasing a switch from Orton to Cena pretty hard in a way that doesn't make sense from a meta-standpoint. The Strahan segment seemed like they just wanted material for The Soup rather than Raw, and it didn't seem like it helped anyone involved. Which showed, because Miz had no heat against Kofi. Even the handicap match, a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, went nowhere because of a bad DQ finish. I have nothing against ending that match with a DQ, mind you, but for excessive attacking? It just doesn't work.
The Hardcore stuff between Ziggler and Sandow really don't benefit either man because they're so goofy and against the strengths of either man. Reigns has been given the big look in the past few shows, but as long as the Shield are together, the fans are going to believe Ambrose is the best of the three by virtue of being champ. And don't get me started on Big Show basically not selling anything short of a catastrophic injury in this match. It annoyed me a ton, and it doesn't do anyone any good.
Back to Orton for a second: the Authority's existence seems to be hurting his character development. Is he a cowardly heel hiding behind the men in the suits, as HHH segments would have you believe, or is he a vicious champion who can destroy anyone, as his actions in the ring dictate? It's the kind of schizophrenia that guarantees he won't be taken as seriously as a threat as he should be. How can you look at him as a vicious threat to the safety of everyone if he cowers behind a retired man in a suit? Randy Orton – and I felt this before I got this job, before SummerSlam, when he held the briefcase – could've easily rebuilt himself by cashing in in the right way. Instead, he's nothing more than HHH's avatar. How do you take that seriously?
And now, with Orton questioning HHH's loyalties, I'm worried the Cena/Orton match will be about the Authority's loyalties rather than about, say, the title unification. And what's the fun in that? Why would you make your main event, whatever the stakes, as a backdrop to the run-in? This is what WCW would do all the time, and it led to their demise. Of course, it got the Kliq over in WCW, and look who's in charge in WWE now.
I know, shows like this made people hate my recaps because I was cynical and sarcastic. But really, what am I supposed to like about the main event scene? About the midcard? About anything?
(I'm serious, by the way: if you think I'm too negative today, please post in your reply what the bright spots of this show are. And I'm someone who tries to get the bright spots.)
MATCH TIME: 68:07 over eight matches
BEST MATCH: The handicap match
WORST MATCH: Langston/Henry v Ryback/Axel
NIGHT MVP (kayfabe): Roman Reigns
FINAL SCORE: 2. I hated this show, though maybe I'm just in a bad mood. Still, I can't find much of a bright spot out there, especially with the main event for TLC having Orton's mixed loyalties hanging over it.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'll see you in December. Tommy, hold the fort down until I get back. Mad Dog Vachon, you deserved better than this show.