5 Things to Watch for on the Dec. 10 Edition of WWE Monday Night Raw
With TLC now less than a week away, the WWE has plenty of pressure to put on a quality go-home edition of Raw on Monday. WWE Champion CM Punk won't be competing at the company's December pay-per-view due to a knee injury, so the writers will have to generate interest in other ways.
The main focus figures to be the pending main event that will pit Ryback, Kane and Daniel Bryan against The Shield. Since it was announced last Tuesday, there hasn't been any interaction between the two sides with regards to the match itself. That means the promo work will have to be solid all-around in order to build toward the pay-per-view.
Also, many fans are wondering if Punk will be present despite his injury. Even though he won't be able to wrestle at TLC, Punk's presence on Raw is always a positive. He can possibly get Ryback over as a threat by talking about how Ryback was responsible for his injury, but at the same time, the WWE has to be careful about not overshadowing the main event.
Additionally, there are several other important TLC matches that are likely to receive their final build on Raw. With that in mind, here are the top five things that you should keep an eye on while watching this week's edition of Monday Night Raw.
Will Ryback or The Shield Have Momentum Heading into TLC?
None of The Shield's members have wrestled a televised WWE match to this point, but they will get their first chance to shine on Sunday, as they will face Ryback, Kane and Daniel Bryan in a tables, ladders and chairs match at TLC. While Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have gotten the better of most exchanges thus far, it will be interesting to see how their final encounter with Ryback and Team Hell No is handled.
The Shield burst onto the scene at Survivor Series, as it attacked Ryback and put him through the announce table. The young triumvirate did the same thing the following night and has since targeted the likes of Kane, Bryan, Randy Orton and The Miz. Ryback finally one-upped The Shield last week, as he chased Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns off before putting CM Punk through a table. Now, the WWE must decide whether to continue his momentum or get The Shield back on track.
It's a difficult situation because it's important for The Shield to continue to look strong, but the fact that Ryback has lost at each of the past two pay-per-views has to be taken into account as well. With that in mind, the best way to go about things would probably be to have The Shield get the better of Ryback at first before Team Hell No intervenes and help Ryback clean house.
That way, The Shield can get its licks in on Ryback, but the face team can still stand tall at the end of the night. The best part about the TLC main event is that it can go either way, so hopefully, the WWE helps maintain that mystery by having the teams cancel each other out on Monday.
Will CM Punk Make an Appearance?
WWE fans were taken by surprise last Tuesday when it was announced that WWE Champion CM Punk had to undergo emergency knee surgery. The scope was done by famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews and was a success by all accounts, but the WWE won't risk allowing Punk to compete at TLC. Because of that, it's unclear whether or not Punk will be featured on Raw this week.
There are obviously differing schools of thought with regards to whether Punk should be on Raw, and that makes sense. In one respect, he is the WWE Champion, and he can do plenty on the mic to increase the quality of the show. Also, the WWE is operating under the fallacy that Ryback is the one who injured Punk's knee, so perhaps he can cut a promo about that and help Ryback gain even more crowd support.
Conversely, Punk won't be competing at TLC, so he could possibly detract from the upcoming pay-per-view if he takes up too much television time. It's important for the WWE Champion to remain visible, especially if he isn't going to be out for a lengthy period of time, but perhaps Ryback, Team Hell No and The Shield should be front and center for this particular show.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to Punk's involvement, but I would at least have him appear. He obviously can't get physical or anything like that, but I wouldn't mind seeing him goad Ryback into the ring so The Shield can attack, only for Team Hell No to make the save. The focus would remain on the TLC main event, but Punk would still get his airtime.
Who Will Have the Last Laugh Between John Cena and Dolph Ziggler?
Although much of the TLC talk has shifted toward the main event six-man tag match, there will be plenty at stake when John Cena challenges Dolph Ziggler in a ladder match. It would have been one of the top bouts on the card regardless, but it was made even bigger last week when Vince McMahon forced Vickie Guerrero to put Ziggler's Money in the Bank contract on the line.
Many, myself included, figured Ziggler's briefcase might come into play, so the match suddenly means a ton to both men. Cena has gotten the better of Ziggler at essentially every turn thus far, so all signs point to Ziggler winning at TLC and retaining his contract. After consecutive losses to Cena on Raw, though, it will be interesting to see if Ziggler can seize some momentum on Monday.
Ziggler did manage to spear Cena through a bathroom stall a few weeks ago, but that was the extent of his triumph over Cena. The general fan population probably thinks Cena is going to win at TLC, while most of the hardcore fans are fairly certain that Ziggler will come out on top. The WWE tends to cater more toward the general fans, though, so Ziggler is likely to get the last laugh, as he's being billed as the underdog.
Also, Ziggler is almost certain to get help at TLC in one way or another. The Shield is in the main event, but I can see them interfering on his behalf due to the injustice of having to defend the Money in the Bank contract. Failing that, perhaps A.J. Lee will turn on Cena in favor of Ziggler. I honestly can't see the Cena and A.J. storyline going anywhere that doesn't end with A.J. leaving Cena, so perhaps we'll see that at TLC.
What Will the WWE Do with Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio and Others?
Generally speaking, the WWE usually has a lot of spots to fill on pay-per-view cards during the last week of build, but that doesn't appear to be the case with TLC. Most of the matches are set, and some, such as Sheamus vs. Big Show, have been built for a few weeks already. Even if the card appears to be nearly complete, though, there are several deserving superstars who aren't currently booked for a match.
Four that come to mind immediately are Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, The Miz and Damien Sandow. Orton and Del Rio just finished feuding with each other, and they are guys who are barely outside the main event scene, so they ought to be competing at TLC. Also, The Miz just completed his face turn and needs a pay-per-view win to pick up some momentum. Sandow, on the other hand, is back on his own due to Cody Rhodes' injury and could use a push in his own right.
The obvious move would be to have Orton vs. Sandow and Miz vs. Del Rio, but it doesn't appear as though the WWE is leaning in that direction. Miz interrupted Sandow on SmackDown, so they may very well face each other at TLC. That leaves Orton and Del Rio, however, and I highly doubt that they'll have yet another singles match, especially when their rivalry is all but dead.
On top of that, there are tons of other mid-carders who could use a spot on the card, and there hasn't been anything announced regarding the divas either. I generally don't like when the WWE waits until the last minute to announce a match, even when it features surprise matches on a pay-per-view, but there's no sense in leaving capable wrestlers on the bench.
The Muppets to Serve as Social Media Ambassadors
With TLC looming, it may not seem like Raw's social media ambassadors should be at the forefront of my mind, but logic goes out the window when The Muppets are involved. According to WWE.com, The Muppets will serve in the same role as luminaries such as Charlie Sheen and DJ Pauly D have in the past. The only difference, of course, is that The Muppets have their affairs in order.
This news is probably the worst nightmare for fans who yearn for the Attitude Era and despise PG programming, but I say that those fans need to lighten up. The last time The Muppets were involved with an episode of Raw, it was great. I consider The Muppets to be the greatest guest hosts of all-time, as we got to witness gems such as Sheamus speaking with his "cousin" Beaker and Kermit calling Vickie Guerrero Jack Swagger's mom.
The interactions won't be quite so hands-on this week since The Muppets will likely only be tweeting, but I'm hopeful that we might get some touts and other video-related content. While The Muppets are predominantly meant for kids, people of all ages are entertained by their antics, and I have no issue with them having some type of role in WWE programming on occasion.
They won't be overbearing by any means, and the main focus will obviously be on TLC, so there's no reason to get bent out of shape about it. Despite that fact, some fans will find a reason to complain about anything and will maintain that TNA is better because it doesn't cater to a young audience. Give me The Muppets as celebrity involvement over King Mo every day of the week.