Just 24 hours after the controversial WWE Survivor Series on pay-per-view, WWE continued the momentum with another enjoyable show on Monday night.
Here, I will analyze each significant segment presented on the show. I will also provide a combination of aftermath and wishful thinking about what we hope to see in coming weeks.
Interim Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis Confronts WWE Champion CM Punk
This was a great opening to the show and made the WWE Championship no longer feel like an afterthought. I enjoyed CM Punk's promo on how much his title win at MSG meant to him, giving me hope we might actually see him retain the belt, at least until WrestleMania.
I'm not sure whether it's go-away heat or legitimate heat, but John Laurinaitis makes for a perfect heel and authority figure to hate and rebel against. Expect the feud between these two to continue for quite some time.
Alberto Del Rio def. Zack Ryder
This was a decent match from Alberto Del Rio and Zack Ryder, but I imagine they could have gone an extra five minutes to add more credibility to Ryder's obvious loss.
Of course, this victory was needed for Del Rio as he goes into his championship rematch. Long Island Iced Z was the last guy to take the loss after his stellar crowd reaction at Survivor Series.
Sheamus def. Jack Swagger (with Vickie Guerrero)
A meaningless match between Sheamus and Jack Swagger, despite their potential to produce something much, much better.
This bout was a bit better than their previous encounter on last week's Raw. It's still not worth watching if we can all easily predict that Sheamus will emerge victorious—especially if his opponent happens to be a credible heel (treated like enhancement talent) like Jack Swagger.
Kevin Nash Speaks
This was another good promo from Kevin Nash. It once again furthers his pending feud with the sidelined Triple H. Sure, it wasn't much different than his previous promos, but I like the fact that he was able to tie in an MSG reference, as well as the Kliq, to keep this rivalry relevant.
It's only a matter of time before the Game reappears on Monday nights. Look for that to occur in the coming weeks.
Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes def. Santino Marella
This was a quick, painless match; Intercontinental champion Cody Rhodes defeated Santino Marella within minutes. However, more credible talent is required as opposition if Rhodes is going to be a top heel on SmackDown.
As for his exchange with Booker after the match, I think this upcoming rivalry could do wonders for both men.
First of all, it will get Booker T off of commentary and back in the ring where he belongs.
Second, it will help reestablish the Intercontinental title as a prestigious belt—if successfully defended by a former world champion such as Booker T.
Additionally, I'd be psyched to see Goldust involved in this program down the line, seeing as how he has history with both men.
WWE Champion CM Punk def. United States Champion Dolph Ziggler (with Vickie Guerrero), Non-title
Without a doubt, the bout between WWE champion CM Punk and United States champion Dolph Ziggler rightfully earned the title of Match of Night.
Punk had frowned on the idea of this bout earlier in the night—and failed to get fans excited about it—but both Punk and Ziggler provided an extremely strong and exciting matchup. The bout had many (myself included) questioning whether the bleached blonde Superstar would pick up the victory.
It never ceases to amaze me that Ziggler has yet to appear in the main event scene. It's matches like these that are sure to impress officials backstage and earn him a chance to shine.
Although the picture-perfect finish was botched a little, expect this to be a top contender for one of the best bouts in Dolph Ziggler's career.
Big Show Gives an Update on World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry
Big Show's promo didn't do much for this viewer, but it at least provided some aftermath to his match against world heavyweight champion Mark Henry.
Raw audience members could care less about this rivalry, but it was a smart move in terms of providing some hype for this week's edition of SmackDown.
Wade Barrett def. WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston (with Randy Orton)
This was a solid match between former foes Wade Barrett and WWE tag team champion Kofi Kingston. It received great time and succeeded in furthering the feud between Barrett and Orton.
While it was painfully obvious that Barrett was going over from the start, it more importantly continued Barrett's momentum.
I'm looking forward to his program with Orton—just as long the Englishman isn't booked as a cowardly heel as he was here.
John Cena Speaks on The Rock and The Miz Ambushes R-Truth
This was a disappointing segment to conclude the show and featured John Cena, The Miz and R-Truth. Given how much Cena's thoughts on Survivor Series had been hyped, they failed to deliver when Awesome Truth emerged.
Originally, I felt as if they were foreshadowing a Cena heel turn (with Miz and Truth stating how much the crowd dislikes him), only for Cena to fire back, saying no one cares about them.
Now that may be true, but much like CM Punk, that certainly takes away from their heat as top heels.
I'm not intrigued with the idea of R-Truth turning face—he plays a much better psychotic heel—but it makes sense given his recent suspension. This turn will take him off television for the time being.
I'm not sure where this leaves Cena, though, as he's used up every possible Monday night rivalry.
Overall, it was a good show and a nice breather after the Survivor Series. The show also furthered a handful of potential rivalries. The action wasn't at its best, but Punk vs. Ziggler saved it by being the highlight of the night.
Additionally, I found the various vignettes extremely interesting. They build suspense going into 2012.
That WWE didn't follow through with Brodus Clay or advertised guest host Jonah Hill doesn't surprise me. There has been a lack of consistency in recent weeks. That needs to change immediately if we are supposed to take anything they hype weeks prior seriously.
This was the first enjoyable Monday night show in a good while. I have my hopes that Creative keeps up the good booking for the remainder of the year.