The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 01/23/12
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport

Live from Phoenix, Arizona this is the Raw Deal…

We get the usual intro. Isn’t it time to get a new theme song? I’m so sick of Nickelback. I’m sure a lot of people are, but in Canada it’s even worse since they come from this country. I’ve had people write me about a lack of pyro at WWE shows. I’ve read that they made an internal decision to cut back on the amount of pyro they use. It’s a money thing.

The WWE Champion CM Punk starts the show off. He’s sitting in the ring, so you know he means business. Punk mentioned Ziggler beating him three times, but only because Laurinaitis played a part in every finish. He said Laurinaitis is a failure. He claimed that Laurinaitis was out to screw him and was shocked to hear him say those same things on Raw last week. They showed a clip from last week when Laurinaitis admitted to screwing Punk at the Rumble as well as hitting Mick Foley with a microphone. Punk threatened to break his arms so he couldn’t screw him at the Rumble by counting a pinfall. He called him out to the ring. Instead, we got John Cena.

Cena walked out in full serious, angry mode. No poop jokes this week. Punk said he wanted Laurinaitis, not “boy scout” John aka Cena. Cena demanded that Ryder gets a US Title rematch, that he gets a match with Kane on this show as well as at the Rumble (that is official) and that Laurinaitis resigns as Raw GM. Finally, Laurinaitis showed up after a long wait. He said people have bad days, but last week was not a bad day for him. He doesn’t regret any of it. He said he won’t listen to Punk. Laurinaitis admitted to a mistake with Ryder, so he’s putting him in a Falls Count Anywhere match and if Cena interferes then Ryder will never get a US Title match. He announced a tag title match for right now, which brought out Vickie Guerrero who was with Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger. They talked some trash. The match was on. It’s a good thing everybody is conveniently in their wrestling gear huh?

Jack Swagger & Dolph Ziggler d. John Cena & CM Punk (**3/4)
They worked for about a minute until they had to go to commercial. Why not do the commercial before the match begins? That’s better placement for it. By the way, Laurinaitis is sitting at ringside for the match. He’s texting, not commentating.


As they returned, the wrestlers were going at it as Laurinaitis was texting. Cole defended him saying that he was a busy guy, so he had to get work done. The heels worked over Cena for a while as he played the babyface in despair role. Punk got the hot tag, cleaned house and dropped miss with a straight kick to the head. Punk covered, but Swag broke it up. Cena took him out to the floor where he won a submission hold struggle by putting Swagger in the STF on the floor. In the ring, Punk wanted to go to the top for his elbow, but the ref was in his way so he gently shoved him out of the way. Laurinaitis popped up at that point, yelling at him about shoving the ref. Punk went after him, but Dolph recovered, rolled up him, grabbed the tights and got the pinfall victory at the 11 minute mark.

The match was fine. It was the basic tag team match with four wrestlers that knew what they were doing. Cole put over that Ziggler has beat Punk four times, which pretty much guarantees Punk winning the title match at the Rumble, which is what I thought would happen anyway.

Post match, the camera didn’t even show Ziggler celebrating. The number one contender is an afterthought more than ever. Laurinaitis ran up the ramp. Punk challenged him to a match later, saying JL has never been a WWE superstar, so tonight Punk can make him famous. After thinking about it, Laurinaitis accepted. I never thought that they would actually have a match, but they probably hoped that people would tune in to see the possibility of the match. It’s not a bad idea promotion wise.

Chris Jericho was shown walking backstage. Highlight Reel returns.


Back from break, it was Highlight Reel time as they showed the Jeritron television in the ring as well as the chairs, which weren’t really needed because there were no guests. He did the same light up jacket routine at the top of the ramp with the lights out. He was smiling, pandering to the crowd again. Lawler mentioned Jericho was officially a part of the Royal Rumble. He ran backstage, grabbed the t-shirt gun and the crowd cheered like dummies. Then he grabbed the camera to film the crowd while Cole celebrated being on camera. I actually laughed at something Cole did. Crazy. Jericho put his finger over his mouth, telling the crowd to hush. He pointed to the screen. They aired a video package on his WWE career starting in 1999 and running through all of the great moments. The video was about one minute long. I expected longer. Then Jericho finally spoke: “This Sunday at the Royal Rumble…it’s gonna be the end of the world as you know it.” The crowd popped big when he said “This Sunday at the Royal Rumble” because those were his first words on the microphone since returning.

It was an effective segment. I know a lot of people wanted him to wait until after the Rumble, especially if he wins, but I’m fine with this. You need to sell the match. His promo will make people wonder exactly what he means. I’m undecided on my Rumble winner as of now, whether it’s him or Orton. I’m leaning towards Jericho. When I did a poll last week, over 60% of you picked Jericho, 20% picked Orton and the rest were divided. I guess you could say Jericho is the prohibitive favorite to win.


Later in the show we had a Ryder/Kane Falls Count Anywhere match plus Miz vs. R-Truth in a grudge match.

They did the annual Royal Rumble stats video package that I always enjoy. You can watch it here if you missed it. They mentioned that everybody is eligible to enter, so a current WWE or World Champion could enter and win the match. I think that’s done to help the star power of the match. I’m writing a Royal Rumble preview for Friday, so I’ll save the extended thoughts for that.

Backstage, Ryder was talking to Eve. Mick Foley showed up, telling Ryder that he’s wrestled Kane a lot in the past as well as with him and that he can be beat. Eve was worried. Zack told her that his back was killing, but he had to do it. John Cena walked up to them saying he’s there if he needs him, but Zack told him to not get involved because he wanted another US Title shot. He walked to the ring for his match.

Kane absolutely destroyed Zack Ryder (*)
The match started with Kane in control. He dominated Ryder in the ring, then they went to the floor and he dominated him out there as well. Eve showed up at ringside as they went to break.


They continued the match into the top of hour two. Kane dominated 98% of the match with Ryder getting a little bit of offense in, but not much at all. They got up to the staging are where Ryder tried to fight back. Kane stopped that attempt with a punch to the throat. Kane grabbed him around the neck, picked him up for a Chokeslam and drove him through a gimmicked part of the stage that collapsed. Ryder went crashing through the stage. I guess that’s the end of the match at the 10 minute mark.

Post match, the doctors came out to help Ryder while Eve was overacting, trying to be all sad about it. Cena showed up too. He was in total shock that his little buddy got beat up so badly. They went to break with Ryder getting looked at by doctors.


Back from break, Ryder was now on the board ready to leave in an ambulance. Why do that to Ryder? I’m not sure if there’s some other reason for why they buried him so badly or if it’s just a way to build up Kane before the match with Cena. Maybe Vince doesn’t believe in the Ryder character because he’s done poorly in terms of the ratings a few times? Maybe Zack has a movie, which is a rumor I’ve heard? I don’t really know.

The real big news after this burial of Zack Ryder? Dean Malenko was trending on Twitter because he was one of the guys helping Ryder. Does WWE acknowledge it? No. Holding the Iceman down! Just like WCW when they busted out the “vanilla midgets” term. I hope he puts somebody in the Texas Cloverleaf.

As they were loading Zack in the ambulance, Cena told him he’d take care of this. This feels like Rocky telling Apollo he’ll take care of Drago except Apollo died. Don’t let him die, John! Okay sorry, I was taken aback by the overacting skills of Eve. She told Cena that it was all his fault. Poor John, gets blamed for his jobber friend getting beat him. I wonder if he’ll embrace the hate? Oh look there’s Josh Mathews trying to get the scoop for his website (I made that up), but Cena wants none of it. He shoved the microphone away. The segment ended with Cena doing an over the top, ridiculous angry face that looked like this:

It’s rare to see somebody look straight into the camera. They obviously told him to for effect. He’s either really mad or he really needs to take a dump. Maybe all those poop comments aren’t a joke after all? You never know.

I was okay with the whole thing. Parts of it were ridiculous, especially Cena’s angry man face at the end, but it was effective in terms of putting over Kane as an absolute wrecking machine. If Cena beats him at the Rumble he will beat a legit monster, so it works in that way. I’m not sure why they are booking Ryder like this, as I said. If it’s punishment for something that would suck. If he’s legit hurt with some other injury that would suck too. If it’s simply an angle then that’s okay. The problem with that is they said he had a broken back, which probably means he’s out for a long time. A broken back is all they could come up with? That sounds pretty serious. Either way, the build for the Cena/Kane match has been really good. No lame tag matches with them. When they have the match it will have a lot of freshness to it. I like that. I’d expect the St. Louis crowd to be really hot for all of it.


I forgot to mention that the announcers used their SERIOUS VOICES~! during the Ryder ordeal. Obviously. When they returned from break, they were still using them. In the ring, Jinder Mahal was ready for a match.

Sheamus d. Jinder Mahal (1/2*)
Wade Barrett was on commentary for this squashing. Why are they booking so many Sheamus vs. Mahal matches with the same outcome every time? I guess they have nobody else for Sheamus to beat in such a dominant manner. He won with a Brogue Kick in about three minutes.

Post match, Sheamus wanted Barrett to fight him. Wade backed off. Sheamus said to take a good look at this image because you’re looking at the 2012 Royal Rumble winner. I’d say he’s my third pick although the first two are way ahead of him for me, those being Jericho and Orton. Sorry fella.

Backstage, Mathews interviewed Miz. He did his usual spiel. R-Truth showed up with the comedy gimmick, calling Miz a jackass. Laurinaitis showed up, said all he could hear was their arguing. He said the loser of their match would be the #1 entrant in the Royal Rumble. They like to put a top guy in the beginning of the Rumble, so that’s no surprise.


Randy Orton is back this week on Smackdown to confront Wade Barrett. I’d expect a huge pop for his return after being away for a month.

Prior to the next match, William Regal joined the announcers on commentary. This needs to be a permanent thing. Regal is great at commentary on NXT. They need him on Raw. He should be the one being the heel announcer, not Cole. He also knows the names of moves, unlike the other two. He was there because they showed clips of the great dance-off on Smackdown involving Brodus. It was hilarious.

Brodus Clay d. Heath Slater (SQUASH)
Brodus did the usual routine. The crowd was into it, but not as loud as you’d think. He beat Slater with the headbutt as well as the running crossbody now known as “What the Funk?” which changed from last week. I’d assume Brodus gets the big spot in the Rumble where he eliminates multiple people so that they can do the dance routine during the match similar to Rikishi in the 2000 Rumble when he danced with Too Cool.


The Royal Rumble moment was 2007 when Undertaker eliminated Shawn Michaels to win. I love how they make it a point to mention that Undertaker was going to WrestleMania. Yeah, so was Shawn. He got a major title match too and Shawn’s match was on last (a loss to Cena), unlike that of Undertaker (win over Batista).

They replayed the Miz/Truth history before their match with Miz turning on him in November since Truth failed the Wellness Policy test.

R-Truth d. The Miz (**)
Miz sent Truth to the floor. They went to break.


Miz was in control for much of it although Truth fought out of the Skull Crushing Finale. Miz got his DDT for a two count. It seems like ref Scott Armstrong told them to go home a bit earlier than expected because you could see him going up to each guy right before the finish. Truth won clean with the Little Jimmy. It was a very average match from two guys I expected better from. The crowd wasn’t into it very much. The loss means Miz is the #1 entrant in the Royal Rumble. He’ll probably have a decent run, but he won’t win it.

Backstage, John Laurinaitis was warming up for his match. David Otunga walked in with a fax. Yes, they used a fax machine on this show. I guess it’s a better visual than an email, but I’d have done something more current like reading off an iPad or something like that. It’s not a big deal, really. He told Laurinaitis he should read the email. JL read it, then had a concerned look on his face as they went to break.


They plugged their work with Make-A-Wish foundation because its home is in Phoenix. They really do great work with Make-A-Wish and should be commended for it.

The announcers went over the Rumble lineup. They haven’t released a lot of names as far as being in the Rumble match, so expect the top guys, a few surprises (your guess is as good as mine) and then some lower card talent to fill out the card. Anybody else miss those old Royal Rumble promo videos where the wrestlers would talk about how they were going to win? This video from 1992 is a classic.

For the main event, CM Punk walked out. Then John Laurinaitis walked out with David Otunga. He needs entrance music, I think. Unless this is the end of his character, which I doubt. Otunga read the fax that said due to some of his recent actions, the status of JL as interim Raw GM is in question and he’ll be evaluated next week on Raw. Either he sticks around as GM or he’s relieved of his duties. The person doing the evaluating will be the COO, Triple H. There we go remembering that Triple H is the storyline Chief Operating Officer.

Punk cut JL off before he could speak, telling him that this means if he screws him at the Rumble he would be fired. Punk said nothing is stopping him from kicking JL’s teeth down his throat. JL tried to apologize. He said Mick Foley would be in the Royal Rumble. Punk told him all of this is too little, too late. Laurinaitis said he was always going to call the title match down the middle. He only said what he said because Punk made him angry. This was a nice cowardly attempt to get out of trouble by Laurinaitis. Punk said he hopes HHH inherited the ability to say “You’re Firrrrrrrrrrred!” the way his father in law Vince did. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t come with his marriage to Stephanie. The money comes with it, though. JL said he’s not going to be fired because he took over Talent Relations ten years ago when it was in the dark ages with Jim Ross in charge. I had some people get mad about the comment. I’ve always thought JR was the best real life GM in WWE history. The roster they assembled in the late 90s and early 2000s proves that. It was just a heel comment here. It’s nothing to get worked up about although they sure love to bury JR at every opportunity. He said he turned the company into a corporate entity. Then he had a substitute to face Punk: David Otunga.

It wasn’t a match. Otunga charged at Punk, who quickly fought out of it and made him tap to the Anaconda Vice. He’s done. Laurinaitis backed away. Otunga went after Punk again, but he kicked him away. So much for that New Nexus reunion huh? Laurinaits was stuck so he extended a hand for a shake. Punk didn’t want any of it. He gave him the GTS in what should have been a huge moment. It wasn’t as big as I thought. More on that in a bit. Immediately after Punk hit it, Dolph Ziggler slid into the ring and gave Punk the Zig Zag without the champ seeing it. The show ended with Ziggler standing over Punk, victorious again. Lawler wondered if that’s what it would be like at the Rumble. There was no hard sell or plugging of the Rumble here. It was very mild. If Jim Ross was there, it would have been pushed heavily. That’s where Cole needs to do a better job, or the director needs him to be aggressive about plugging the PPV at least. The show went off the air 10 minutes past the hour.

I liked the ending segment. The only thing I question is Punk hitting the GTS on Laurinaitis. I would have saved that moment for the Royal Rumble PPV itself. Isn’t Punk hitting his finisher on his nemesis something people should have to pay for? It also lost its importance because Ziggler hit the Zig Zag immediately after. Like I said I liked it, but I would have had Punk lay out JL with a kick or something else rather than his finisher at that moment. Speaking of that move, look at the face of Laurinaitis as he’s about to receive the GTS.

He was a wrestler. Laurinaitis should know that if you’re selling a move you should also sell it with your facial expressions. A blank facial expression is not the right thing to do. I had a few people text and tweet me about it as it was happening. I’m not sure if everybody noticed, so I had to share that pic. It’s not a big deal either way. It’s just that his facial expressions are nothing compared to Vince McMahon, who had some of the best expressions in the history of the business.

Three Stars of the Show
1. CM Punk
2. Dolph Ziggler
3. Chris Jericho

7 out of 10
Last week: 7
2012 Average: 5.75
2012 High: 7 (January 16 & 23)
2012 Low: 4 (January 9)
Last 5 Weeks: 7, 4, 5, 5, 6.5

That’s two straight good episodes of Raw in a row. The first hour was excellent, things slowed down a bit in the second hour and I liked the ending as a way to get people excited for the Rumble PPV.

There was no Daniel Bryan on the show, which upsets me because he’s on fire right now. I’m sure he’ll be heavily involved on Smackdown again. That’s fine with me. Ratings for Smackdown have been really good for the last two weeks, so his heel work is getting over well. Also no Divas segment on the show aside from Eve’s bad acting. Hey, at least it’s better than her wrestling!

Regarding the promotion of the Royal Rumble, it could be better. I’ll address it more in the preview on Friday I’m sure.

I’m in a bit of a rush, so hopefully you got your fill this week. I forgot the Twitter Ten this week. I’ll try to bring it back for next week.

That’s all for this week. I’m back on Friday with the Royal Rumble preview. No Canton’s Corner this week due to the preview. After that I’ll return live on Sunday with the Royal Rumble recap, Monday with a live Raw Deal and then on Wednesday February 1 the WrestleMania recaps will start with my review of the inaugural WrestleMania event. I’ve already written a few of them. They are turning out nicely. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you next week.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week.

John Canton –
Twitter @johnreport

Visit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.