That alone could have made it one of the coolest episodes of RAW this year and a fitting end to the 2011 run of WWE’s flagship program.
The way it all went down was a bit deflating, as Punk was ultimately cheated by RAW GM John Laurinaitis, but the show itself was still unexpected and fun.
It wasn’t perfect though. Kane’s promo at the end of the show should have came earlier on. Punk is so over right now and with the show in his hometown, he should have sent it home. Regardless, the promo, in spite of its absurd length, sets up a Cena/Kane feud that could rebuild a fantastic character that has been wasted for years.
It comes at the perfect time- Cena is in need of a big time jolt. Although the fans still love him, his presence isn’t as strong as it used to be. The haters have never been this loud, especially with the rise of Punk over the past six months. With plenty of time until his encounter with The Rock at Wrestlemania, he needs a big angle to fill the gap. There’s no doubt he can have a great match with Kane. It’s just a matter of getting Kane some heat and making their encounter believable.
Aside from the Punk angle and the Kane promo, the matches as well were pretty entertaining. Every contest ran a few minutes longer than they normally would. There was far less nonsense and more action. The promos, aside from Alberto Del Rio’s, made way to something important.
And even Del Rio’s promo had its moments. During his tirade, he mentioned he tore his groin. With essentially broken gonads, he now knows how viewers feel during most of his promos.
All jokes aside, this is the type of formula RAW needs to have in order to stay successful. With fast-paced matches, plenty of surprises and little fluff, this wasn’t the best RAW of the year, but it was a damn good way to end the year.
Booker T vs. Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes: A decent opener that lacked a real flow early on. Eventually, after a few minutes of routine offense, Rhodes hit Booker T with his exposed knee is the gut with a lift and threw him out of the ring. That’s when the match really started, as the near-falls and higher impact offense became much more prevalent. Dropkicks, ground submissions and a face comeback were then in order, as Booker T, with the crowd behind him, went through his signature moveset, hitting a flying clothesline and the sideslam. Rhodes answered back with his jumping Disaster Kick, but Booker T continued to fight back and hit his Scissors Kick for the win.
Mixed Tag Match: Eve Torrez and United States Champion Zack Ryder vs. Tyson Kidd and Nattie Niedhart: A surprisingly fun match that featured some routine offense, but a slightly expanded arsenal of moves from Ryder, as he hit a nice sit-out sidewalk slam and a face crusher. The finish was cute, as Ryder and Torrez hit the Broski Boot on Kidd and Niedhart, before Ryder delivered the Rough Rider for the win.
John Cena vs. The Miz: A very nice surprise. Everyone expected Cena to confront Kane, but Miz came out instead and a match was made on the spot. Even though it only lasted a few minutes, as Miz got counted out after he went on a tirade on the microphone on the outside, the return of R-Truth and the beating he delivered on The Miz afterward made for some interesting viewing. Little Jimmy’s were happy worldwide as The Miz definitely got “got.”
Big Show vs. David Otunga: Before the match, Show said he could beat Otunga with his arm tied behind his back. That could have made for an interesting match. But after a few minutes, Mark Henry came in to feast on a handicapped Show. Luckily for Show, Daniel Bryan distracted Henry long enough for Show to free his hand. Eventually, after Henry managed to get out of the ring unharmed, Otunga was the victim of one of the best chokeslams Show has delivered in years, en-route to a DQ victory.
WWE Champion CM Punk vs. Jack Swagger w/Vikki Guerrero: Swagger hit a gutbuster and a few other moves early on, but Punk nailed him with a roundhouse kick for the win.
WWE Champion CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler w/ Vicki Guerrero: Swagger worked on Punk’s ankle before the match, which started right after Swagger’s loss. Punk fought through the injury, as Ziggler hit several moves in rapid-fire succession. The back and forth nature of the contest, combined with Guerrero’s interference and the near-falls, made for a hell of a match. It was all for nothing however, as Laurinaitis’ interference led the way to a Ziggler Zig Zag and win, earning him a title shot and costing Punk a chance to wrestle the RAW GM at the end of the night.