WWE Raw: The Latest Episode Builds Toward TLC PPV Beautifully
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Still three weeks away from TLC 2012, Monday's WWE Raw constructed a solid foundation for the upcoming pay-per-view.
For shows not named WrestleMania, WWE has made a habit of waiting too long to fill a pay-per-view's card, leaving insufficient time to create proper buildup.
With TLC, it appears WWE has decided to have everyone's hatred escalate and make TLC 2012 the place for it all to climax.
There are still matches yet to be announced, but the major pieces are in their proper places.
CM Punk's latest title match will have three weeks to catch fire. Big Show and Sheamus' feud is headed where many fans believed it would. The Intercontinental Championship match is already set.
Those are just some of the example of how the episode did its job-enticing fans to watch TLC 2012.
Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett
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While on commentary during Kofi's match against Tensai, Barrett announced that his IC title match against Kofi was official.
It's not a surprising move as Barrett and Kofi exchanged words and fists last week on Raw. It is however a refreshing change for an IC title feud to be given ample time to build.
WWE can now spend the next few weeks having the two men's animosity swell, giving them time to deliver a few promos and to face off backstage, ringside or otherwise.
After Kofi pinned Tensai, Barrett handed the champ his title without incident.
It was an interesting moment of inaction when the audience expected some sort of sneak attack. Setting up this match so early allows WWE to explain Barrett's motivations without having to rush.
Ryback vs. CM Punk
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The Ryback and CM Punk feud was clearly not over after Survivor Series or last week's Raw where Big Hungry ended both nights lying atop a broken table.
This Raw opened with Ryback demanding another shot at the WWE champ.
Thanks to Ryback's insistence their next showdown will be a TLC match. Fans have three weeks to get excited about the thought of Ryback and Punk utilizing tables, steel chairs and ladders to demolish each other.
Ryback looked every bit the monster he has been in recent weeks, flinging a security guard over the top rope, bullying Vickie into getting his match and defeating Titus O'Neil with little trouble.
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler
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With how many recaps Raw showed of Ziggler slamming Cena through the bathroom stall, it's clear that WWE views this non-title feud as important.
It hasn't officially been announced yet, but Cena and Ziggler are on a clear path to a grudge match at TLC.
Raw dedicated a ton of time to the Vickie Guerrero, AJ, Cena and Ziggler four-way hate fest.
Their storyline may be drenched in trite, soap-opera drama, but it should result in terrific entertainment. Cena and Ziggler displayed great chemistry in their match on Raw. Their battle mixed power, speed, showboating and technical wrestling.
On a night where Raw featured plenty of quality wrestling, their match was arguably the best.
Whatever kind of match they have at TLC should be a valuable addition to the event.
Big Show vs. Sheamus
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The World Heavyweight Championship match at TLC was officially announced as a chair match between Big Show and Sheamus. Raise your hand if you saw that coming.
As unsurprising as that move is, it's a wise one.
WWE has given itself plenty of time to worsen the two men's feelings towards each other, to add depth to their motivations and to get fans pumped about Big Show and Sheamus' third pay-per-view match in a row.
Big Show watched on as Sheamus battled Antonio Cesaro. The champ then tore a chair apart with his hands. That's an image that's going in every video package for the World Heavyweight Championship match from here on out.
The NXT Invasion
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Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose claimed that they weren't Punk’s "boys." In an interview with Michael Cole, they revealed their motivations which turned out to be something vaguely about doing what's right.
It's not clear what is going to happen with these three black-clad men, but watching the mystery unfold is going to be fun.
The three former NXT stars revealed that they are called The Shield. Apparently they don't read Marvel Comics or they'd know that name is already taken.
Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose figure to play a significant role in the happenings at TLC. The next three weeks should provide answers and intrigue, making the next pay-per-view that much more captivating.