Raw HITS AND MISSES, Dec. 2, 2013

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Randy Orton and John Cena: Partially on the strength of some clever footage of the long history between the two, partially on the strength of a great promo by Triple H, partially on the strength of the decision to unify the WWE and World championships and partially on the strength of a great final segment, I’m suddenly very interested in this rivalry. In fact, not only am I interested, I’m very much into this. Unifying the titles is long overdue and even I admit to having forgotten the history between Cena and Orton. They really do represent the proverbial good-guy-versus-bad-guy mantra that pro wrestling was built upon. Few can raise their game the way John Cena does when it is most needed. After several lacklustre pay-per-views, and countless unmemorable Raws, Cena has put the company on his broad shoulders once again. This rivalry has the potential to carry through to WrestleMania if played out methodically and properly. Well done, WWE.

CM Punk. Find me a night when CM Punk isn’t among the hits following Raw. Last night he opened the show with a decent exchange with Stephanie McMahon and Kane, setting up the handicap match for TLC where he will face all three members of the Shield. But it was later in the night, alongside Canadian Renee Young, when Punk delivered yet another home run of a promo, admitting that he will undoubtedly go down versus The Shield at TLC, but vowing to take down a member or two in the process. It was another amazing CM Punk moment. The guy is the best in the business, hands down.

Unification poll: It was nice to see WWE give the fans a say in the renaming of the newly crowned unified champion, should that happen come TLC. While the fans chose the one I least favoured, the Unified champion, it again showed the WWE involves its audience like few other sports/promotions on Earth. Good on them.

JBL’s line of the night: “You’re the reporter, Barbara Walters.” To Michael Cole. A legit laugh out loud moment.

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Bray Wyatt’s seeming invitation (I say seeming because my audio flaked out at that very moment) to Daniel Bryan to join the Wyatt Family. Interesting moment. A nice tease of maybe Bryan going to the dark side.

Brodus Clay. The dark side of the dancing, jolly, jovial Brodus seems to be emerging, which is great news for wrestling fans. Let’s face it, he is a better heel than face. Love the fact he’s gone back to the scales on his ring attire. Bring back evil Brodus, WWE.

Goldust. The man looks better in the ring right now than he ever has. I would really love to see him cutting more promos, but man is he moving well in the ring. Chemistry with brother Cody is excellent, too.

#Bad News Barrett. This has the ability to be great or completely lame. For now, I’m enjoying it. I’ll call it a hit.

Mark Henry. His little dance moves directed at Summer Rae more than made up for the fact that he so obviously missed a spot when Fandango came off the top rope into his arms, and he crashed to the mat. I won’t lie, I love Mark Henry. Such a menacing powerhouse. Age and injuries are the only strikes against him anymore.

Darren Young. He moves so well in the ring for a big guy, very reminiscent of a young Rock. With the proper push, this guy could rocket to the top.

MISSES

For the first time in a while, there were few. Overall, I thought this was a solid episode of Raw.

All things Divas. I’ve been thinking about it a lot of late. Imagine Total Diva, the WWE reality show, with some actual talented divas. Other than AJ, none of the current batch of divas bring much to the table. Natalya is a fantastic wrestler, the others are extremely beautiful women, but they aren’t the total packages like WWE used to boast. Think about Total Diva starring Trish Stratus, Sunny, Lita, Chyna and so on. Now that’s a show I would watch. The current crop of divas just don’t hold up. That’s why I’m continually frustrated by having them pushed down my throat. The best thing to come out the Raw match, in which Natalya pinned champion AJ, was the aforementioned JBL “Barbara Walters” line to Michael Cole.

The burying of Dolph Ziggler. Another loss to Damien Sandow kicks the very talented superstar further out of the title picture. I’ll never understand why WWE doesn’t allow this guy to take the ball and run with it. Yes, his mic skills aren’t at the level of a Randy Orton or CM Punk, but there is no one more entertaining inside the ring. Maybe with a unified title, Ziggler can join the Intercontinental title picture. Ziggler’s mid-card status remains the biggest mystery in wrestling.

All things Miz. Sorry, just don’t care for him. From his strut to the ring, to his mediocre wrestling skills, the guy is being thrust upon us like the divas. Boring.

Handicap match mania. One handicap match at TLC was enough. But now we have Punk vs. The Shield AND Bryan vs. The Wyatts. Combine this with the fact WWE is throwing these matches at us regularly on Raw and it’s overkill. Those matches used to be to help put over someone by putting them in a match against the odds, only to prevail. They’ve lost all that lustre.

Sin Cara lighting. I’ve always hated it. The guy hasn’t done anything to warrant special lighting. Spare us.

As mentioned earlier, overall this was a solid Raw, perhaps signifying a fresh approach to things with TLC, Royal Rumble and, eventually, WrestleMania in the offing. With the Slammys looming next week, things should continue to improve. Many of the misses were minor, save for the divas stuff, and again, I can’t give enough credit to Orton and Cena for topping things off with a great finish.

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