Raw opens with Dolph Ziggler on a ladder. He talks about beating John Cena at TLC and cashing in his briefcase on Big Show. Sheamus interrupts and tells Dolph he’ll have to cash in on him instead. They argue and Sheamus ends up shoving the ladder and Ziggler crashes to the top rope and then the outside.

^With the Punk/Ryback match out of the picture, WWE is heavily pushing Dolph Ziggler as the briefcase holder as well as the Sheamus/Big Show match, and I love it. I’m not saying I want to see any less of CM Punk, but it’s about time WWE makes it feel like they care about the World Title as much as the WWE Championship. I love the opening segment on the ladder; these skits before pay per views(I last recall Edge doing one) are always entertaining and effective.

Kofi Kingston and Antonio Cesaro are at the announce table and Wade Barrett is in the ring when Vince McMahon comes out. He brings out Vickie Guerrero and announces Big Show and John Cena in a match tonight. He also books Ziggler against Sheamus and Vickie against AJ. He introduces Truth. Truth defeats Barrett in a very short match. Kofi jumps Barrett after the match.

^I don’t understand the promo interrupting the start of the match, but I guess it’s Vince’s way of asserting his power at whatever point in the show he chooses. The match was insanely short and came off as sloppy. I don’t understand why things went this way after all the hype that’s been put into these midcard title rivalries.

AJ is shown backstage celebrating the booked match with Vickie. After running into Kaitlyn and Aksana, she goes into the men’s locker room where John Cena tries to get rid of her.

^I don’t like when Cena is scripted to act this way. He’s bad enough as an overkill babyface, but these segments just take his character to a sickening level.

The PTP, Epico and Primo, the Usos and Team Rhodes Scholars have a fatal four way to determine who will face Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara at TLC to become the no. 1 contenders for the Tag Team Championship. The Usos eliminate Primo and Epico first. The Usos eliminate the Prime Time Players. Cody pins one of the Usos to get the win.

^This match was a lot of fun, but the outcome was too predictable. How sad is it that the Usos have been around longer than all the other tag teams and still haven’t held the gold? I just think hard work should pay off and the brothers have paid their dues when it comes to deserving a run with the titles. It’s good to see Cody back and healthy, but now I wonder if the PTP are every going to get a run with the gold either because of this Rhodes/Sandow push.

Eve defeats Alicia Fox in a short match. Eve has a photographer come in the ring to take her photo with a fallen Alicia after the match.

^The match was pretty good for the divas. I don’t know what the long term plan is, but I’m tired of Eve just doing this stint with no major competition. I’d like to see a legitimate revamp in the near future that involves female wrestlers that we can care about.

CM Punk comes out to the stage on crutches with Paul Heyman. Punk confirms that his injury is legit and shows the video of Ryback’s assault on him last week. Paul Heyman runs his mouth next. Punk continues and says no one, not even the Rock, can take the WWE Championship from him.

^With a huge match looming with the Rock next month and Vince McMahon’s brilliant promise that Punk would face Ryback one more time before the Rumble, WWE has put themselves in what I consider to be a ridiculous position. How do you hype the Punk/Rock match with the “possibility” that Punk could lose the title? If it were up to me, Ryback would be out of the picture and the hype for the match would already be advertised full force rather than just being hinted at here and there. Your WWE Champion needs to be treated as more important than this and needs to be on TV for more than five minutes.

Sheamus defeats Dolph Ziggler by DQ when Ziggler hits Sheamus with a chair. Sheamus brogue kicks a chair in Ziggler’s face after the match.

^Every time these two have a match, it’s something special. The chemistry here is undeniable and these two deserve a shot at a legitimate ongoing rivalry. The finish here wasn’t my favorite, but it’s a TLC preview and I understand the involvement of weapons.

Vince catches Vickie in a compromising position when Hornswoggle and Khali try to help her stretch. Vince says this is supposed to be a family show and then walks off.

^Talk about a blast from the past involving Triple H, Trish Stratus, and Stephanie McMahon. The only difference here is that this was much funnier. That aside, I’m glad the skit was kept short because it leaves more room on the show for actual wrestling. I’m appreciative of the fact that Khali was used in nothing more than a skit and kept far away from the ring.

A video is shown of the Shield talking about their justification for their attacks. Ambrose says they don’t work for anyone.

^I don’t buy it. I’m sure the master plan controlled by Paul Heyman will be revealed before the Royal Rumble.

Alberto Del Rio defeats Zack Ryder using the cross armbreaker.

^We’ve seen these two go at it a few times now, and this was probably their best match together. I liked the competitiveness of the match, but I’m annoyed with where both of these guys stand. Last year at this time, Zack Ryder was challenging Dolph Ziggler for the US Title at TLC and Del Rio was involved in a triple threat with Punk and Miz for the WWE Championship. Do you see either guy on the card this Sunday? I’m hopeful that Del Rio will work an impromptu match against Randy Orton(anyone seen Randy?) but I think Ryder can count on riding the pine some more. Despite it all, this was a well worked match.

Vickie defeats AJ with the help of referee, Brad Maddox. AJ freaks out after the match and tears apart ringside before slapping Justin Roberts in the face and storming away. She’s thrown freaking out after the commercial backstage until John Cena tries to calm her down by holding her.

^So Brad Maddox “found a way” to get on the main roster. I hope he can actually develop some talent and become an entertaining character(otherwise Triple H is just pushing someone for their look when they don’t possess an ounce of talent). For the record, Brad Maddox needed a lot of work when FCW folded and I was never impressed with him. As for the AJ psycho storyline and the revert back to her freaking out skits, it’s grown stale and tiring. Can we see some actual female wrestling next time instead of this garbage?

Antonio Cesaro defeats Kofi Kingston using the neutralizer.

^Now why couldn’t Truth and Barrett have this kind of match earlier? Both guys put in a lot of effort and both showed some of their best stuff. I could easily see these guys in the main event scene challenging for either World Title. Great match, and Cesaro is clearly the bigger push right now for WWE with this insanely dominant run with the US Title.

Rhodes and Sandow are on MizTV. Sandow introduces the new and improved Cody Rhodes but Miz makes fun of his new mustache. They storm away angrily.

^This was fun to watch, and the ongoing words between Miz and Sandow are intriguing, but what can the Miz do for TLC now that Sandow’s been booked in a tag team match? Regardless, Miz is still one of the most entertaining mic guys in WWE at the moment, and the consistency of MizTV will continue to drive his popularity.

John Cena defeats Big Show by DQ when the Shield attacks him. Kane and Dbry come down and Dolph Ziggler jumps into the mix as well. Sheamus comes out and so does Ryback. The show ends in a complete brawl.

^I don’t know what possessed Vince to think that Cena/Show was an exciting main event, but I’m hoping the chorus of boos when he announced it tonight was an eye opener for him. The match wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t a very exciting contest to end the night with. I enjoyed the brawling, but I still would’ve liked it better if Ziggler had cashed in during all the chaos to become new World Champion. What better way to draw ratings than to have a World Title change hands on TV?

The show wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t awful either. Storyline advancements were minimal and not well played out, but the hype for TLC was pushed as best as possible for the booked card. The four way tag match and the Sheamus/Ziggler match were the standouts, and the Del Rio/Ryder match was also pretty good. I’m just going to say the show was right down the middle and that I’m looking forward to TLC.

Our Final Battle and TLC predictions will be up this weekend, as will the Rundown and our next inductee into Thunder and Lightning’s Pure Pro-Wrestling Hall Of Fame. Watch out for all the columns coming this weekend! Until next time, you’ve been ThunderStruck!

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