Welcome to Bleacher Report's immediate analysis of the Nov. 5, 2012, edition of WWE Monday Night Raw, where we break down every angle of the three-hour block of sports entertainment.
We'll be analyzing the action in the ring, the promos on the microphone and the broadcast itself as we recap the show.
Previews for the show teased that suspended referee Brad Maddox would speak out regarding his actions at Hell in a Cell, where he cost Ryback the WWE Championship by hitting him with a low blow en route to a CM Punk title defense. Also scheduled was further "evidence" in Vickie Guerrero's case against John Cena and former General Manager, AJ Lee.
With only a few short weeks away from Survivor Series, the build to one of the biggest pay-per-view events of the year is in full swing. There's strife brewing between the members of Team Punk, and the big question is whether or not Paul Heyman and the reigning WWE Champion can pull things together in the face of a monster like Ryback.
Browse the following slides to see what we thought of the show and sound off in the comment section to share your opinion on Raw with the B/R WWE Community!
R-Truth, Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara def. Antonio Cesaro, Prime Time Players:
The show opened with a six-man tag team match that got things off on the right foot. Not only was the match easy on the eyes, the crowd treated Cesaro and the Prime Time Player like big-time heels.
The match was mostly a plug for the brewing feud between R-Truth and United States Champion Antonio Cesaro, but there's nothing wrong with keeping matches like this relevant to the big picture.
Cody Rhodes def. Daniel Bryan, Kane def. Damien Sandow:
The match was over just as fast as it began, with Cody Rhodes stealing the win over one half of the WWE Tag Team Champions. The real fun began when Rhodes cut a promo after the match, making the bold claim that his partner at ringside, Damien Sandow, could defeat Kane just as easily. Kane proceeded to unleash a beating on Sandow.
Kane's beating of Sandow actually turned into a legitimate match, with Kane living up to the role of the Big Red Monster. After Rhodes and Bryan were ejected from ringside for running through the ring, Kane finished Sandow off with a monstrous choke slam.
It was nothing remarkable, but it wasn't terrible. This is the trend with overseas shows in the WWE, or so it seems. Hell No is money, though, I love how they've developed this year.
Sheamus def. The Miz:
A longer match than the one before it, World Heavyweight Champion The Big Show, joined Jim Ross and Michael Cole on commentary. Miz took the fight to Sheamus, eating up quite a bit of time and putting forth a great deal of offense, but there was no way Miz was going to beat Sheamus while in front of an English crowd.
Sheamus put Miz down for the count with the Brogue Kick. That was a long, far-from-dramatic match.
Layla & Kaitlyn def. Aksana and Eve:
Good win for Kaitlyn, who finished off Eve to secure the win for her team. The crowd has been great but even they couldn't get pumped up for this match.
Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio:
Kofi Kingston is easily one of my favorite wrestlers currently. He is an absolute pleasure to watch, win, lose or draw. That said, Del Rio's methodical, submission-based style didn't allow for too much flash from the Intercontinental Champion.
The finish came when Randy Orton got a little payback by distracting Del Rio with his entrance music. While concerned about the possibility of Orton's arrival, Kofi rolled up Del Rio for the win.
When Del Rio came to terms with his loss, Orton entered the ring from behind Del Rio and hit him with the RKO. Those two meet on the live SmackDown in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
Zack Ryder and Santino def. Primo and Epico:
Team CoBro gets an easy win to please the crowd. Tastes like filler, looks like filler, smells like hair gel...probably Zack Ryder. Just kidding broskis, but really, this was just a match to kill some time. Nothing wrong with that.
Wade Barrett def. Brodus Clay:
A match made to make Barrett look strong at home, and it did just that. He brutalized the Funkasaurus for the most part and got an incredible reaction from the crowd. It was short match, but it takes us right on into the main event.
Heath Slater def. Jay Uso:
Heath comes out with Jinder Mahal in his corner; Jay has Jimmy with him. 3MB is an interesting gimmick, and it's so ridiculous that it's funny. The crowd isn't laughing, though. In fact, they're not making any noise at all for this match. Slater wins, and the world is indifferent to this fact.
Ryback and John Cena def. CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler:
This was a fun match which saw Punk and Ziggler isolate Cena to build anticipation for Ryback getting tagged in. When time finally came for Ryback to come in and massacre Punk and Ziggler, he did so in an impressive fashion. Ultimately, Ryback put Punk down for the count with Shell Shock, and the crowd went wild for it.
The show went off the air with Cena staring down Ryback, and Ryback leading the crowd in a "Feed Me More" chant.
Vickie Guerrero Presents her Evidence:
Vickie Guerrero continued her witch hunt against AJ and John Cena, eager to present her video footage of the former General Manager in a "state of undress."
Vickie got monster heat, drawing "Who are Ya" chants from the UK crowd. John Cena was quick to cut her off before she showed the footage, and the two traded verbal jabs at each other. Cena even got in a bit of self deprecating humor when he mentioned the unlikelihood of him learning another move, referencing his Five Moves of Doom.
The evidence presented was security camera footage of AJ going from one hotel room to another in a bathrobe, then a separate clip of Cena hanging a "Do Not Disturb" sign on his door.
The scene wrapped with AJ telling Vickie she wouldn't come out from backstage because she'd end up giving Vickie the beating of her life and subsequently get fired. AJ would no longer get to do what she loved, she said.
Dolph Ziggler stole the show when he walked on camera and placed an arm around AJ, claiming that we all know what it is she loved to do, hinting at something far from PG.
Brad Maddox Speaks Out:
A rather dapper Brad Maddox was interviewed by Michael Cole at the top of the second hour. Immediately, Maddox took full responsibility for his actions, saying he wasn't in cahoots with CM Punk or Paul Heyman. He claimed that all he ever wanted to be was a WWE Superstar.
Brad painted himself out to be an angry developmental wrestler who struggled to get his foot in the door at the WWE. When he was brought in as a referee by AJ, he knew all he needed was one shot to make an impact. To close, Brad said he wanted a WWE contract, and he wanted to face Ryback.
It wasn't a bad promo on Brad's part, in fact, the hot crowd and emotion on the mic made for a solid first outing for Brad on Raw, but that would be eclipsed by what followed...
Vince McMahon Shakes Things Up:
Vince came out and told Brad that he's got a $1 million contract if he can beat Ryback next week on Raw and also made it clear that he didn't buy Brad's story. To Vince, it's obvious that Brad Maddox is working with CM Punk and Paul Heyman.
That wasn't the biggest announcement Vince made though. He pulled out Vickie Guerrero and had her change up the Survivor Series match with Team Punk taking on Team Foley. Rather than let Punk hide behind a team, he wanted Punk to defend his title in a triple-threat match against Ryback and John Cena.
Where that left the Survivor Series match remained to be seen.
Team Punk Becomes Team Ziggler:
Dolph Ziggler was backstage pacing outside of Vince McMahon's office before Vickie Guerrero emerged with some good news and some bad news. Ziggler would be leading Team Ziggler against Team Foley at Survivor Series.
CM Punk arrived and was none to pleased that he now had to defend his WWE Championship at Survivor Series against Ryback and John Cena. That's when Vickie revealed the bad news.
Ziggler and Punk would be taking on Ryback and Cena in a tag team match for the main event of Raw.
Punk showed a little bit of a comedic flare in his heel antics during the segment.
William Regal Makes Plans with Sheamus:
A Brit and an Irishman make plans to go out for a pint. More on this breaking story later.
CM Punk Addresses the WWE Universe:
CM Punk recapped recent happenings prior to the main-event tag team match. He's not exactly happy about his Survivor Series team being "demoted" to Team Ziggler. Paul Heyman was at Punk's side, as always, and it's interesting seeing Heyman in a role where he doesn't have to do the talking. He pulls it off.
Punk assures the world that he'll be WWE Champion after Survivor Series. There was nothing too remarkable about this promo, which was the last of the evening.
This Raw had more than one could really expect from a WWE pre-taped show which took place in England.
The significant plot developments regarding Survivor Series were shocking. There had been quite a bit of backlash from fans questioning how WWE intended to sell a pay-per-view with so many titles tied up in the Survivor Series match, but that problem is being dealt with swiftly.
A Vince McMahon appearance to announce the real main event of Survivor Series was a big deal, and it followed a great promo from Brad Maddox that showed the WWE Creative Team isn't as clueless as we thought.
The matches were what they were, nothing groundbreaking, but there was a lot of home-crowd love shown to the European Superstars, and it paid off with a hot crowd.
Tonight, the WWE didn't do anything wrong. Nothing came off poorly on television, but nothing jumped out to make this episode of Raw anything more than average.
Raw's Grade: B-