WWE News: Reviews, Analysis and Rumors for Week of Dec. 16 (Spoilers)
The past week has certainly been an eventful one in the WWE. TLC took place this past Sunday, a live edition of SmackDown aired on Tuesday, Tribute to the Troops aired on Wednesday and a number of shows were taped ahead of time in order to compensate for the upcoming holidays.
When you add in the fact that the Royal Rumble is a little over a month away and the road to WrestleMania is essentially in full swing, it's certainly a great time to be a WWE fan. With so much happening, it's difficult to pick out one highlight for the week, but the debut of Big E Langston has the WWE Universe buzzing.
The NXT champion debuted to assist Dolph Ziggler against John Cena on Raw and figures to be a key figure moving forward.
Several announcements were also made regarding the WWE's immediate future. One of them is the anticipated return date of The Rock ahead of his match at the Royal Rumble, while the other is a WWE championship match set for the first Raw of the new year.
If that isn't enough, a WWE legend and Hall of Famer finally returned to the company on Monday, while a popular star is nursing an injury that could keep him out of action.
Read about that and much more as I analyze the biggest news stories and rumors regarding the WWE for the week beginning on Dec. 16.
Big E Langston Makes His WWE Main Roster Debut
Due to Seth Rollins of The Shield getting called up to the WWE's main roster, he recently dropped the NXT championship to Big E Langston. This led many WWE fans to look into the monstrous new titleholder's body of work, but little did they know that they'd be getting an up-close and personal look at Langston so soon.
The big man made his WWE debut on Monday's edition of Raw during a mixed tag match as John Cena and Vickie Guerrero faced Dolph Ziggler and A.J.
Both A.J. and Vickie left during the match, leaving Cena and Ziggler to duke it out themselves. A.J. returned with Langston in tow; however, and the newcomer attacked Cena. The show closed with Langston standing over the face of the company, while A.J. skipped around and Ziggler looked on in shock.
I'm generally not a big fan of musclebound wrestlers, but I'm always willing to give new talent a chance, so Langston's debut is definitely exciting.
It was immediately unclear what his role would be, but his involvement on SmackDown seems to suggest that he'll be a bodyguard for Ziggler and A.J.
The next night, Langston once again did Ziggler's dirty work as he took out The Miz during a Miz TV segment and did the same thing that he had done to Cena the night before.
The possibility remains that Langston is linked to The Shield, since it seems like Ziggler and A.J. may have something to do with that group as well.
All of that remains to be seen, though. For now, Langston should be very good in a supporting role alongside Ziggler.
Dolph doesn't necessarily need a heavy to help him out, but it worked out with Shawn Michaels when he had Diesel, so perhaps lightning can strike twice and Langston can go on to a successful singles career after his run with Ziggler.
The Rock to Appear on SmackDown Jan. 8
With The Rock set to face the WWE champion at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, it's only a matter of time before he returns to WWE programming.
According to WrestlingNewsWorld.com, the wait is nearly over. As previously reported, The Rock will make his official WWE return on the Jan. 7 edition of Raw. However, more surprisingly, he is also being advertised for an upcoming SmackDown.
The Rock will reportedly be present at the Jan. 8 SmackDown tapings as they are taking place in his hometown of Miami, Fla. It obviously makes sense for The Rock to appear on SmackDown, since it will be taking place in his own backyard, but the blue brand generally takes a backseat to Raw.
It will be interesting to see what he brings to the show.
I realize that a lot of fans have an irrational hatred for The Rock, since he has other commitments and can't constantly make appearances for the WWE, but I'm not someone who views him in a negative light.
The Rock paid his dues for several years and has made the past two WrestleManias two of the most profitable ever, so he has every right to come and go as he pleases. With that said, I can't wait to see him back in the picture.
Assuming that CM Punk hangs onto the title leading up to the Royal Rumble and his knee injury heals, Punk and The Rock are likely to begin the war of words as soon as Rocky comes back.
Both Punk and The Rock are incredible on the mic, so I have a feeling that the build toward their match at the Rumble will exceed what Rock and John Cena did prior to WrestleMania.
This match has been in the works for quite some time, and the wheels will finally be set in motion in just a couple of weeks.
The Rock Advertised for Jan. 8 SmackDown in Miami (via WrestlingInc.com)
CM Punk vs. Ryback TLC Match Set for Jan. 7 Raw (Spoilers)
Due to a knee injury that required emergency surgery, CM Punk was unable to defend his WWE title against Ryback at TLC as scheduled.
While that opportunity may have passed, the Punk vs. Ryback feud isn't over. Ryback told Punk on SmackDown that he would be exercising his right to a rematch on the Jan. 7 episode of Raw. Furthermore, according to WrestlingNewsWorld.com, a stipulation will be attached.
During a Raw taping that will air on Christmas Eve, it was announced that Punk would have to put his title on the line in a TLC match.
That was supposed to be the stipulation for their match at the Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view, but it obviously didn't come to fruition.
It's somewhat surprising that Punk would be put in such a physical match upon returning, but it certainly makes things easier in terms of outside interference helping Punk retain.
Although I'm not overly excited for another Punk vs. Ryback match, considering Punk retaining is beyond obvious, I understand why it has to be done.
Vince McMahon said several weeks ago that Ryback deserved a rematch due to the shady circumstances surrounding his losses at both Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series. The WWE can't really go back on that statement, so it has to give Ryback one last shot before the Royal Rumble.
The fact that it's a TLC match does pique my interest to some degree, as Ryback acquitted himself quite well in the six-man match alongside Team Hell No against The Shield. Also, there are several possibilities with regards to how it could end.
Maybe The Shield will get involved? Perhaps Brad Maddox will stick his nose in Ryback's business again?
The Rock will be present, so it's possible that even he could get involved. It's clear that Punk is going to win, but how he wins will be the bigger story.
Stipulation Set for CM Punk vs. Ryback Title Match (via WrestlingInc.com)
Ric Flair Makes Long-Awaited WWE Return at Slammy Awards
Ever since Ric Flair and TNA parted ways, rumors have persisted that he would come back to the WWE.
He was part of last year's Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as he and the rest of the Four Horsemen were enshrined, and it just seemed like Flair belonged in the WWE.
A lot of time has passed since then, but Flair returned to the fold on Raw.
Flair was a guest Slammy Award presenter for Superstar of the Year. John Cena won the award, but gave it to Flair. This prompted CM Punk to show up and challenge Flair to a fight. The Nature Boy didn't back down, and after taking a couple of shots with a crutch, Flair battled back and put Paul Heyman in the figure-four leglock.
He also fought alongside Ryback and Team Hell No to squelch an attempted attack by The Shield.
Flair may not be able to wrestle anymore, but I desperately want him back in the WWE on a full-time basis.
He proved that he can still cut a promo with the best of them and his segment on Raw was the best of the night by a long shot.
The pending lawsuit that TNA has filed against the WWE has prevented the WWE from doing much with former TNA talent, but perhaps bringing in Flair proves that the WWE is ready to move forward with business as usual.
As for Flair himself, there are plenty of roles that he could potentially fill in the WWE. I would love to see him as an authority figure, such as a general manager on Raw or SmackDown, or perhaps even as a manager.
The obvious superstar for him to manage would be Dolph Ziggler, as the two have been linked for quite some time. No matter what Flair's niche is, hopefully the WWE continues to utilize him moving forward.
Sin Cara Nursing Knee Injury
The WWE ran an injury angle with Sin Cara on the most recent edition of SmackDown, as he was attacked by The Shield following his match with Damien Sandow.
The masked superstar favored his knee afterward and it appears as though the attack was done in order to compensate for a real ailment.
According to WWE.com, Sin Cara requires surgery for a "serious" right knee injury.
Prior to taking out Sin Cara, The Shield descended through the crowd and it was in possession of Rey Mysterio's mask.
With Sin Cara out of action for an unknown period of time, it appears as though the WWE has decided to write Mysterio off as well. The same WWE.com article is reporting that Mysterio has a neck injury. It is almost certainly an angle to explain his absence while Sin Cara heals.
While I have no doubt that Sin Cara is injured, my best guess is that it isn't significant. The injury was clearly an issue prior to The Shield attack, as the storyline was done in order to allow him to have surgery.
Sin Cara has had knee issues before as he once ruptured his patellar tendon, but I can't imagine that his current injury is anything close to that. It's impossible to say for sure, but it's probably a pretty good bet that Sin Cara has an injury similar to CM Punk that requires a knee scope and a month or so of recovery.
If that is the case, the WWE won't be without Sin Cara and Mysterio for too long. Since Sin Cara was allowed to compete at TLC and on both Raw and SmackDown, the knee injury couldn't have been too serious.
Writing off a seemingly healthy Mysterio wouldn't happen if Sin Cara was going to be on the shelf for much longer than a month. When he does return, perhaps we'll see a mini-feud with The Shield that could help put the young trio over even more than they already are.