WWE Raw: Immediate Reactions and Analysis for Nov. 19, 2012
Welcome to Bleacher Report's immediate analysis of the Nov. 19, 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.
With Survivor Series in the books, there was no shortage of controversy heading into Raw. CM Punk's WWE Championship reign has lasted for an entire year, but he's escaped two straight pay-per-views with the help of some new faces who are supposedly unaffiliated with the champion.
The biggest question tonight was, who were the three men in black who destroyed Ryback to insure CM Punk would retain his WWE Championship?
Did we get our answer?
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!
Ryback Is Starving
Ryback started the show with an angry promo, calling out CM Punk and the three men who helped him win at Survivor Series.
The hungry monster claimed that if they wouldn't come face him, he would tear the arena apart.
Vickie Guerrero stepped out and told Ryback that he wouldn't be tearing the arena apart tonight, otherwise he'd be subject to a fine or suspension. Instead, she offered him a rather large serving of WWE Superstar Tensai.
Ryback vs. Tensai
This match was little more than a showcase for the enraged Ryback.
Tensai got in a bit of offense, but ultimately, he was hit with the Shell Shock and put away with a three-count.
Judging from Ryback's intensity as he went backstage, it didn't seem like we had seen the last of him on Raw.
Wade Barrett vs. Kofi Kingston
Wade Barrett looked strong in a non-title bout with the Intercontinental Champion, Kofi Kingston.
We were told by Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole that Wade Barrett could be in for a title shot if he won tonight, one of the oddities in professional wrestling. If you beat the champion, you might get a chance to try and beat him again for the title.
Why not just make it for the title?
Small booking gripes aside, this was a great stylistic matchup, with speed and agility going up against strength and determination.
Barrett kicked out of Kofi's flying cross-body, as well as the S.O.S. before he hit Kofi with the Bull Hammer Elbow and got the pin.
Good chemistry here, and the match was a pleasure to watch.
It's a Celebration!
Paul Heyman was parading around backstage with a large picture of CM Punk hoisting the WWE Championship over his head. He was beaming over the coming celebration of Punk's yearlong title reign.
After Heyman knocked on Punk's locker room door, Punk stepped out wearing the "I'm a Paul Heyman guy" shirt. Matt Striker approached and asked the two about the three men who helped CM Punk at Survivor Series—Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.
The question was dodged, but Punk wasn't thrilled when Heyman said that anyone, including Ryback, was invited to tonight's celebration.
Kaitlyn vs. Aksana
Remember when all Aksana had to do was subtly flirt with Teddy Long?
Then not so subtly flirt with Antonio Cesaro?
I miss those days.
This was a squash match that favored Kaitlyn, who failed to defeat Eve Torres last night at Survivor Series.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Brodus Clay
R-Truth, who failed to win the United States Championship against Antonio Cesaro last night at Survivor Series, was on commentary for the match.
Cesaro looked impressive against Brodus Clay, lifting the Funkasaurus up and hitting him with the Neutralizer for the finish.
I hope Cesaro's title reign continues on for a few more months, because he's a legitimately talented wrestler.
The John Cena/AJ Lee Scandal Finally Gets Interesting
After Vickie Guerrero wasted plenty of air time getting "witnesses" to discuss what they saw take place between John Cena and AJ Lee, things finally got interesting in this angle.
As Vickie was on the verge of revealing pictures of Cena and AJ in a car, Cena crashed the party.
He boldly said that all Vickie wanted to do was give people something to talk about, and she was doing it wrong. He turned and kissed AJ. After the kiss was broken, AJ greedily kissed him once more, only for Dolph Ziggler to run out and start to fight with Cena.
When Cena chased Ziggler backstage, it looked as though Cena twisted his ankle when exiting the ring, which could prove to be disastrous.
Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio, 2/3 Falls Match
More interesting booking from the WWE tonight was on display when Alberto Del Rio took on Randy Orton in a 2-out-of-3 Falls match.
Orton got the first fall via DQ when Del Rio failed to break an attack on Orton's arm when the referee counted him out. The second went to Del Rio when he locked in the Cross Armbreaker on the injured arm.
The finish came when Orton battled out of another armbar, dodged a kick and hit Del Rio with the RKO.
I didn't have high hopes for the match, but it didn't go nearly as long as one would expect it to, and it was one of the better matches between the two.
The Great Khali vs. Primo and Epico
Hornswoggle came out to prank Rosa Mendes during the match, squirting her with water with a couple of flowers.
Khali destroyed Primo and Epico.
This was painfully pointless, but such is life when it comes to three-hour Raws.
Incompetency has plagued the WWE time and time again, and it reared its ugly head backstage when Paul Heyman was informed that there were no balloons for CM Punk's celebration.
Heyman smacked the checklist of party materials out of the hands of the party planner and ordered him to go get balloons.
Paul Heyman was really on a roll tonight.
The Miz vs. David Otunga
The match dragged, and not a soul in the arena seemed honestly invested in the match.
Miz wins, crowd cheers. I could only assume that it was because the match was over.
Sheamus Wants Another Piece of Big Show
Before Sheamus clashed with Damien Sandow, he called out Big Show with the steel chair he battered the giant's leg with last night at Survivor Series.
Big Show limped out and told Sheamus he was barbaric and didn't deserve to be the World Heavyweight Champion, which is why he retained the title at Survivor Series.
Damien Sandow made his way out after Big Show drove home the point that Sheamus was just like his Irish ancestors—he's a barbarian.
Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow
What a pointlessly long match this was. How Sheamus went from nearly winning back the World Heavyweight Championship to struggling to put away Damien Sandow, I'll never know.
Don't tell me it's because he was drained from his match at Survivor Series; he wasn't selling any damage from the match.
Sheamus put Sandow away with the Brogue Kick in the end.
I'll take another dose of Khali and Hornswoggle if it means the pacing of matches like this can be even a little better.
AJ Lee Confronts Vickie Guerrero and Tamina Snuka
Backstage, AJ approached Vickie Guerrero, who was standing next to Tamina. AJ mentioned that she'd be getting acquainted with Tamina soon enough, but she wanted something done about John Cena's hurt knee he suffered while chasing after Dolph Ziggler.
Vickie simply said she didn't intend to do anything. AJ replied that she would be the one to handle it herself.
What that meant was anyone's guess.
Dolph Ziggler Gives AJ a Piece of His Mind
AJ burst into the locker room and tracked down Dolph Ziggler and attempted to chew him out over what he did to John Cena, but she was brutally torn apart (verbally) by Ziggler.
Ziggler said that AJ was the type of woman who gave away piece after piece of her pride by clinging to every single man who gave her the time of day. He ended the vicious promo by calling her nothing but a piece of trash.
That prompted AJ to attack Ziggler, but John Cena quickly ran in and pulled her off, only to be attacked by Ziggler in the shuffle. Ziggler tackled Cena through a bathroom stall and had to be pulled off of Cena to end the segment.
Hell No vs. Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio
The highlight of this match, which was honestly pretty good, had to be the Prime Time Players on commentary. Particularly, the interaction between Jerry Lawler and Titus O'Neil.
Those two were literally on the verge of losing it with laughter as they took jabs at one another. I'm not sure how safe that is for a guy who just had a heart attack, but it was fun to listen to. It wasn't particularly good, just ridiculous.
A title shot was on the line for Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio, which was another odd instance of "you've got to beat the man if you want a chance to beat the man again" booking.
Team Hell No won via DQ when the Prime Time Players ran in, but Rey Mysterio got to clean house with a 619 on the Prime Time Players.
CM Punk's Year-Long Title Reign Celebration
The celebration of CM Punk's year-long title reign didn't feature too much pomp, but between the video package the WWE put together recapping the past year of Punk's reign and the Punk/Heyman promo, it was a quality segment.
The promo with Punk and Heyman beforehand capitalized on the length of Punk's reign, and the two counted numerous WWE legends who couldn't hold the WWE Championship for a year. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Undertaker and The Rock were among the names.
Oh, not to mention the celebration ended with Ryback marching out and getting crushed by Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.
After the three of them put Ryback through the announce table, CM Punk stepped out of the ring and lifted the WWE Championship into the air, planted a foot on the felled Ryback and proclaimed that he was the best in the world. There was no interaction between punk and the trio.
Tonight's Raw was light on meaningful matches and heavy on the filler. That said, a few strong matches like Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett, Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio and Hell No vs. Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio helped things along.
Also, there wasn't one promo or backstage segment that fell flat. Multiple appearances by Paul Heyman and a meaningful development in the AJ/Cena scandal really helped on that front.
In the end, I'm as sure as ever that Raw isn't ready for three-hour shows, but there are worse things to sit through for three hours. Just ask all the poor souls who were taken out to watch the final Twilight movie with their significant other.
Raw's Grade: B-