CM Punk lays out The Rock at Raw 1000. (Courtesy of WWE.com)
Tonight, WWE will air its final episode of Monday Night Raw in 2012. As the countdown to midnight continues, tonight's Raw will feature several title matches to conclude the year with a bang.
Despite a few disappointing shows here and there, it's been an overall strong year for WWE, specifically for Monday Night Raw.
Some of the year's biggest shockers and monumental moments occurred on the company's flagship show, which surely made for a number of entertaining episodes over the course of the past 12 months.
Here, I'll power rank the best five Monday Night Raw editions in 2012 in terms of quality, entertainment value, amount of wrestling, pay-per-view hype and more. Of course, I did not include tonight's episode due to the fact it has yet to air.
With only a mere three weeks until WrestleMania 28, Raw provided strong, successful build for the spring spectacle over the course of the night.
Kicking off the show was John Cena, who entered to "Basic Thuganomics" for the first time in nearly eight years and sported a classic jersey. Sure, his rap towards The Rock wasn't as good as many expected, but it was still a fun throwback promo that allowed Rocky to fire back later in the night.
Although they've fought countless times this year, their matches never get old. Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler were in the opening match that night, which saw the Celtic Warrior emerge victorious following a brutal battle with Ziggler.
Undertaker and Shawn Michaels provided strong hype for the Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania 28. Their promo had me highly anticipating the Triple H vs. Taker match on the grandest stage of them all and brought back memories of the their classic feud from 2009 and 2010.
The night's guest host was none other than Psych star James Roday, who introduced both WWE Champion CM Punk and The Miz for their matchup. This match would foreshadow Miz's eventual face turn, as this specific show occurred in the Awesome One's hometown of Cleveland.
In response to Cena's scathing promo earlier in the evening, The Rock held his very own "Rock Concert" for the first time in nearly a decade. It was highly enjoyable and provided the live crowd with some quality entertainment to conclude an excellent edition of Raw.
After going to three hours on a permanent basis, many members of the IWC weren't (and still aren't) enjoying the direction of Monday Night Raw. The one edition of Raw in late September provided some awesome action in addition to some spectacular segments as well.
During AJ Lee's reign as Raw General Manager, she had many run-ins with ex-boyfriend and WWE Champion, CM Punk. This night was no different, as Punk and Heyman heckled AJ in the opening segment to the point where Heyman even jokingly proposed to her.
Following the loss of his WWE Tag Team Championship, Kofi Kingston journeyed into singles competition, where he met Dolph Ziggler in one-on-one action. As usual, the two had an amazing contest that saw Ziggler score the victory.
In his second appearance of the night, Punk interrupted Mick Foley during his hometown return. This was easily the best we've Foley perform and utilized since returning to WWE late last year, as his emotion and intensity only further enhanced the segment.
To close the show, John Cena confronted Punk and Heyman, which made for a solid segment. Cena was determined, focus and in serious mode, which is where he's most effective. Similar to his previous two appearances earlier in the night, Punk once again shined with his mic work and was extremely effective in making the crowd despise him.
As the show went off the air, Ryback was shown aiding Foley backstage after he was ambushed by Punk. This moment would mark the start of a massive push for Big Hungry and a feud with the Voice of the Voiceless that still exists today.
Following a lackluster Royal Rumble pay-per-view, the road to WrestleMania 28 wasn't off to a hot start. However, the subsequent edition of Monday Night Raw was enough to make up for it with its memorable moments and exciting action.
Despite coming up short at the Royal Rumble, Dolph Ziggler still had an impressive showing on Monday night against Randy Orton. Sure, he lost that match as well, but it was still a great match that proved that the bleached-blond Superstar was capable of hanging with the main-event players in WWE.
For the first time ever, WWE Champion CM Punk took on then-World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan in a Champion vs. Champion non-title match on Raw. The two former indy stars battled for nearly 15 minutes before their fantastic bout was interrupted by Chris Jericho, thus awarding Bryan with the disqualification victory.
Kofi Kingston's breakout moment during the Royal Rumble match didn't go unnoticed, as his push continued into the next night on Raw when he defeated The Miz. It was seen as a special moment given the fact Miz is a former WWE Champion and Kingston hadn't picked up a significant singles win in quite some time.
In the final segment of the show, John Laurinaitis was on the verge of being fired at the hands of Triple H when a gong sounded throughout the arena. Of course, it signaled the return of The Undertaker, who made his first televised appearance since WrestleMania 27.
One night removed from the spring spectacle that was WrestleMania 28, Monday Night Raw featured all the aftermath from the show of shows in addition to quite a few monumental moments that would not soon be forgotten.
Following his valiant victory over John Cena on the grandest stage of them all, The Rock opened Raw with a promise that he hoped to one day recapture the WWE Championship. Nine months later, we find ourselves highly anticipating his upcoming WWE title match with CM Punk at the Royal Rumble.
We also witnessed the returns of Alberto Del Rio and Lord Tensai to WWE on this historic show. Although the latter ultimately ended up a failure, Del Rio's interaction with Sheamus that night led to a near-five month feud over the World Heavyweight Championship.
Since Mark Henry was on the winning team of a multi-man tag match at WrestleMania 28, he was granted a WWE Championship match against CM Punk the next night on Raw. Although he won the match via count-out, it was still an entertaining contest with all due thanks to the extremely hot Miami crowd.
As the show came to a close, Cena called out Rock one last time to offer him congratulations for his victory at Mania. Instead, the Cenation was met with a returning Brock Lesnar, who proceeded to decimate Cena with a fatal F-5 that was heard around the world.
Overall, this was an extremely entertaining aftermath show following WrestleMania 28 that set an extraordinary tone that kicked off the new wrestling year. The action was decent as a whole, but it was the promos over the course of the night that really made this a memorable show.
After nearly 20 years of fantastic programming, Monday Night Raw celebrated its historic 1,000th episode on July 23, 2012. With months and months of build going into the extraordinary event, it's safe to say the show surely lived up to the massive hype it was given.
A hilarious D-Generation X reunion kicked off the broadcast that featured the likes of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, X-Pac, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. Their entertaining exchange would soon be interrupted by Damien Sandow, who was on the receiving end of both a Superkick and Pedigree from the seasoned veterans.
As voted by the fans, The Miz contended for the Intercontinental Championship against Christian. Following a great match and cool clash of styles, Miz scored the three-count and his first Intercontinental title.
For the first time in over two years, Stephanie McMahon returned at Raw 1000 to confront a blabbering Paul Heyman. This would lead to a brawl between Triple H and Brock Lesnar that would carry over into SummerSlam a few weeks later.
Since June, Heath Slater had called out numerous legends from Raw's past, hoping to make a name for himself. This time around, Lita accepted Slater's challenge, where the Acolytes aided her in victory over the One Man Rock Band.
Kane was set to do battle with Jinder Mahal, but was instead met with an apparent ambush from various lower mid-carders. Despite their storied past, Undertaker came to the aid of his blood brother and hit his signature spots before engaging in a silent reunion with the Big Red Monster.
In the main event, John Cena cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship. The match itself was mostly forgettable, but Punk's shocking heel turn to close the show is what put the cherry on top of what was the greatest episode of Raw in 2012.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on my list and any other awesome episode of Raw from 2012 that I failed to mention. Any feedback on my latest piece is greatly appreciated and be sure to have a happy New Year!
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