It’s an exciting time in the wrestling world in what I’m calling the “Social Era.” The top 3 faces in the company all hold championships, and we are only one week away from finding out who the “cryptic videos” are for. Let’s find out what happened in the final Raw of 2011.

WWE Monday Night Raw Results 12/26/11

Raw is live tonight in the hometown of WWE Champion CM Punk. Punk’s music plays to begin the show. But instead of Punk we get General Manager John Laurinaitis in a CM Punk shirt. Laurinaitis mimics Punk’s entrance. Laurinaitis says he did that because he is Mr. Excitement and that you never know what’s going to happen with him in charge. I like how they have turned Laurinaitis into a comedy character with the sarcastic “Mr. Excitement” title. John says that he has brought the new “Golden Era.” Which fails in comparison to my title of the “Social Era.” Everyone following this article needs to push the “Social Era” to the WWE. We can start a social revolution right here from this article and push a name that defines the next wrestling boom. Laurinaitis says he is a Punk believer and that he is honoring him tonight. The crowd bursts out into major “CM Punk” chants as Punk’s music hits again. This time CM Punk makes his way down the ramp to a deafening ovation. Punk says Laurinaitis is antagonizing him and that he should kick him in the face. Laurinaitis says he’s giving Punk a gift and tells him that he has the night off. Then he says he was just kidding and that he’s unpredictable. His bad jokes are actually kinda funny. Laurinaitis tells Punk that he will be in a gauntlet match tonight and that the person that pins him will get a WWE Title match. Punk asks what happens when he wins, and Laurinaitis says he hasn’t thought of that. Punk says that Laurinaitis never thinks and that he wants a match against Laurinaitis if he wins. Laurinaitis says it would be unfair to Punk to wrestle 4 matches. The crowd chants “you can’t wrestle” at Laurinaitis. Punk says that they must have been watching old Japan tapes of Laurinaitis wrestling. Since Laurinaitis apparently listens to the people, Punk asks the people what they want. The crowd loudly expresses that they want to see Punk vs. Laurinaitis. Have I mentioned yet that the crowd is ridiculously loud? Laurinaitis agrees and says that Punk is on.

It’s cryptic video time already! This is the earliest we’ve seen it yet. CM Punk’s face gets staticy and eventually fades out as the video comes into play. The video begins with a different angle of the little girl tossing the little boy’s notebook on the ground. The little boy says “A force shall arrive to claim what is his.” We see a lot of different scenes from videos past including the waves crashing against the sand, the swing set, the ball in the air, and trees. The little boy says “powers that be will be shaken.” Then we see a lot of quick video shots from videos past with the words “The End Begins.” Both voices say “a force shall arrive.” The words “Next Monday” appear. The little girl says “do you understand?” And that’s it. The last cryptic video. Next week we find out who these month long videos have been hyping the return of. Will it be Chris Jericho? Will it be The Undertaker? Will it be Kharma? Will it be Brock Lesnar? Will it be Batista? Will it be Goldberg? Will it be Bobby Lashley? Yes, no, no, no, no, no, no. My money is on Chris Jericho. He has been really going out of his way on Twitter recently to shoot down all the rumors. He’s trying too hard. The line “things will never be the same again” a few weeks ago, and the waves crashing on the sand have given it away for me. Jericho claims he is in Hawaii next Monday. Here’s to hoping I get to write about Jericho one week from now!

Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes vs. Booker T– Pretty rare to see a Booker T match. This is only his second match since coming out of retirement. It’s his first match on Raw in many years. This is a very solid opening match worthy of main event status. Tie up to start the match into a Booker T hammerlock. Elbow to the face, Rhodes off the ropes, shoulder block. Hip toss from Booker and then Rhodes is sent into the corner with chops. “It Begins” and Laurinaitis are officially trending on Twitter. Booker T hits a slam before Rhodes takes over on offense with some punches. Booker is sent off the ropes and hits a back elbow to the nose of Cody. Suplex by Booker followed by a one count. I love one counts early in the match. So smart. Booker misses the Scissors Kick and Cody responds with a swinging neck breaker. Rhodes pulls down his knee pads and knees Booker in the gut multiple times. Remember when Cody used to not wear knee pads at all? He used to look so awkward in the ring without them. Cody tosses Booker to the outside for the predictable commercial spot. Back from break Rhodes has an arm hold on Booker. Booker fights out with a hard chop with plenty of Ric Flair “wooos” from the crowd. Cody is Irish whipped into the corner but uses the elbow to the face of the running Booker T. Cody drops his knee over Booker’s face and gets a near fall. Cody uses a Cobra Clutch to wear Booker down to the mat. Again Booker fights out and tries the Irish whip. This time Cody drops to his back like his brother Goldust and uses an uppercut fist to the face. Could this be setting up the Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust feud? Goldust is pushing for the match on Twitter. It would be cool to see. Cody continues to stomp Booker and fights Booker off every time he tries to counter. Cody wears Booker down for the third time with a front headlock. Booker powers up but Cody hits another knee to the gut. He Irish whips Booker into both corners, but on the second Booker uses the same elbow to the face that Cody used earlier. Booker is adjusting to the style of Cody and is eventually finding successful counters. Very good match psychology. Most matches nowadays don’t tell a story like this one is telling. I like how the old veteran Booker T is progressing throughout the match. Its almost as if he is adjusting to the style of an entirely new generation. Rhodes sends Booker into the corner, but Booker leap frogs him and hits a roll up for a two count. Cody counters for a two count. Booker misses another scissors kick, followed by another Cody roll up for the a two count. Cody hits the springboard Beautiful Disaster kick. Another near fall. Rhodes goes for Cross Rhodes, but Booker counters with a high back kick to the face. Irish whip off the ropes, missed kick, Cody kick to the gut, Booker knee to the gut counter, Scissor Kick, three count. Old man Booker T pulls off a big upset. Very solid match proving that Booker T really still has it. Not that there was much doubt. He’s not very long removed from his wrestling stint in TNA. Booker celebrates with the Spin-a-roonie.

Zack Ryder is in the back and thanks John Cena for how he helped him. Cena says he doesn’t owe him anything and that Ryder deserved everything he got. He says Ryder is US Champion because he earned it. Ryder says he will make another Christmas wish come true tonight. He asks Cena what the deal with Kane is? Cena says he will go out to the ring and call Kane out.

Jerry “The King” Lawler picks up the microphone and says that Punk’s three opponents tonight are now known. He says that the winner will face Punk for the WWE Championship next week. The three opponents are Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, and Mark Henry. If Punk wins he gets to face John Laurinaitis.

Kelly Kelly is in the back with The Big Show. She is giving him beauty tips. Seriously. Referee Scott Armstrong comes up and says that Big Show needs to go to Laurinaitis’ office immediately. Since when are referees messengers?

In the back (seriously a third consecutive backstage segment) Laurinaitis is talking on the phone talking to Brodus Clay. He tells him that he will debut next week. Laurinaitis is with David Otunga and they talk about how agitated Brodus Clay is. The Big Show comes in and Laurinaitis shows the clip of Big Show knocking Otunga out on Smackdown. Otunga threatens legal action and teases his shortest title reign in history thing. Big Show says he can beat Otunga with one arm tied behind his back. So of course Laurinaitis makes that exact match for tonight.

In the forth consecutive backstage segment we get Dolph Ziggler talking with Jack Swagger. Swagger tells Ziggler not to put his gear on because he will beat Punk first tonight. Ziggler tells him to get a time machine and to go back to 2009 when he was last relevant. Swagger says Ziggler doesn’t even weigh 200 pounds and just lost his title. Ziggler makes a bad joke about Planet of the Apes. They continue to argue until Vickie Guerrero comes in and breaks it up. Mark Henry walks by and says “Excuse Me.” Get it? That’s Vickie’s line. We all got it, it just wasn’t funny.

United States Champion Zack Ryder and Eve Torres vs. Tyson Kidd and Natalya- Ryder has been trying to hook up with Eve on Twitter for weeks now. He was her secret Santa online. This is what Ryder was talking about earlier with getting his Christmas present. How great is it to see Kidd and Natalya back together again. In real life they are a couple. I really miss their Hart Dynasty stable. Maybe that’s because Bret Hart is my favorite wrestler of all time. Kidd takes early control with hard kicks. Ryder gets his knees up on an Irish whip for the counter. Kidd tags Natalya which means Eve has to be tagged in. Eve hits some kicks of her own followed by that stupid dancing standing moonsault she does. David Otunga, Eve Torres, and Big Show are all trending on Twitter. Natalya takes over with some kicks and goes for the Sharpshooter. Eve kicks out of it and makes the tag. Ryder comes in with some clotheslines on Kidd and a face plant. He hits a Sky High powerbomb to add to his arsenal. Natalya comes in but both her and Kidd and dumped into the corner. Zack and Eve fist pump together and say “woo woo woo” with the crowd. Both hit the Broski Kick in the corner. Ryder hits the Rough Ryder for the win. Eve fist pumps with him again after the match. Ryder lets Eve hold his US Title and puts his arm around her. I love Zack Ryder, and I don’t like Eve Torres. I really hope this storyline doesn’t progress anymore. Ryder doesn’t need a valet. Ryder puts himself over. Valets are used for people who need something more to get them over with the crowd. This is why Jack Swagger needs Vickie Guerrero. Ryder needs nothing but his web show. Turn Eve Torres heel on Ryder. That’s the best way to go about this.

John Cena makes his way to the ring. Cena gets booed pretty loudly and they show a sign in the front row that says “Chicago hates Cena.” The last time Cena was in Chicago he had that epic match with CM Punk that was supposed to be Punk’s last match. Cena says he is not Chicago’s favorite son. He said he had his very first match in this arena and that the crowd is always salty to him. Cena says there is magic in the building as Chicago hosted three Wrestlemanias, the city inducted Eddie Guerrero into the Hall of Fame, and that CM Punk won the Championship there. Cena says that New York City is the hometown of the WWE but Chicago has been just as impressive. He puts Chicago over and actually gets them to cheer for him. Cena says its time for him vs. Kane and calls Kane out. Instead we hear “Awwwesome.” The Miz comes out and says he wants to face Cena. He says 2011 was the year of The Miz and that he beat Cena at Wrestlemania. Miz says that The Rock stole his shining moment in that match. The crowd chants “Rocky.” Miz says he wants to beat Cena without The Rock and that his last moment of 2011 will be standing over Cena. Cena tells him to shut up and to wash off his fake tan. Cena asks for a referee. John Cena and Kane are both trending on Twitter.

John Cena vs. The Miz- Tie up to start as Cena powers The Miz down. A second tie up results in the same thing. The Miz gets frustrated early. They tie up a third time as Cena rolls Miz into a side headlock. The crowd is extremely loud with half chanting “let’s go Cena” and the other half chanting “Cena sucks.” The Miz rolls out of the ring and grabs a mic. He says they are chanting the wrong wrestlers name. He says he is the most must see wrestler of all time. He continues to talk about beating Cena at Wrestlmania and says this match doesn’t matter. The bell rings as The Miz is counted out. Miz says he is a winner like the Packers beating the Bears. He says he will walk out with his head held high. R-Truth’s music hits. Truth storms down the ramp and attacks Miz on the outside of the ring. This is the first time we have seen R-Truth in a month. (He was actually suspended.) Truth throws Miz across the announce tables and then into the steel steps. The crowd is cheering for R-Truth and it appears that Truth is now officially a face. Which is an idea I really like. R-Truth gets the mic and says there is no fun in finishing The Miz right now. He says he wants every Monday night to be like Christmas, so he will take his time with Miz. He say’s “little Jimmy” says it’s okay. He sings “but for all acquaintance be forget, Miz gonna get got.” He kicks Miz hard in the face against the steps. Miz is bleeding on his face. R-Truth’s eyes are extremely red. Is it just a matter of time before he is suspended again? I hope not. I like R-Truth and think he will be a great face. I can’t wait for the crowd to chant “little Jimmy” along with him. Truth is by far the funniest guy in the company.

David Otunga vs. The Big Show (with one arm tied behind his back)- Big Show tries to catch Otunga as he moves quickly around the ring. He finally catches him in the corner and hits a big left handed chop. Big Show clubs away at Otunga’s back. Otunga tries to shoulder thrust Big Show, but he’s too big and no damage is done. Big Show clubs him across the back again and tosses him to the outside. Mark Henry’s music hits. Henry climbs into the ring. Big Show tries to get his arm free but can’t. The crowd chants “Sexual Chocolate.” Mark Henry clubs Big Show across the head. World Champion Daniel Bryan’s music hits. Bryan climbs up the turnbuckle to distract Henry. Big Show gets his arm free and grabs Henry around the throat. Otunga climbs back into the ring and frees Henry. Henry flees to the outside as Big Show uses the Chokeslam on Otunga. This is obviously setting up to be a triple threat match with Daniel Bryan, Big Show, and Mark Henry. I love how they are going to put Bryan over on two big giants. Eventually they need to move him out of this storyline and put him in some championship feuds with smaller guys he can have amazing matches with.

Alberto Del Rio comes out being pushed in a wheel chair by Ricardo Rodriguez. Ricardo is wearing a neck brace. Jerry Lawler jokes about his ride tonight and hypes it up the same way that Michael Cole hypes up Del Rio’s cars. Del Rio says that he tore his groin. The crowd cheers. Del Rio calls the crowd peasants. He sits there awkwardly for awhile waiting for the Bella Twins to come out. They must have missed their cue. Or their music didn’t play. They come out and argue over who will throw him a party. Del Rio tells them both to get out of here. Del Rio says that he will be back and will be more viscous than ever before. Ricardo pushes him to the back. Jerry Lawler points out that Ricardo’s bow tie is sticking out through his neck brace. That’s hilarious. Alberto Del Rio is the #1 trend world wide on Twitter.

Gauntlet Match #1 CM Punk vs. Jack Swagger- Chain wrestling off the top. Punk takes control of Swagger’s arm, but Swagger powers him down into a bridge. Swagger hits a knee to the gut, followed by a side headlock. Irish whip and a body press by Swagger. Punk counters an Irish whip with a drop kick. He hits hard kicks on Swagger, but is then caught in a gut wrench knee drop. Grounded bear hug by Swagger in an attempt to wear Punk down. Punk counters with elbows. He springboards off the rope but Swagger botches the spot and drops Punk. Remember how I always talk about Swagger botching a move every week? I constantly say that every week because it always happens. Swagger picks him back up and drives Punk’s torso across his knees. He misses a Swagger bomb. He charges Punk, but Punk leapfrogs and goes for the Go To Sleep. Swagger gets out of it, but Punk hits a brutal kick to the skull. Punk pins Swagger.

Gauntlet Match #2- CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler- Before the match begins Jack Swagger comes from behind and takes out Punk’s knee. A commercial break cuts off the beginning of the match. Ziggler has Punk in a knee hold but Punk kicks out of it. Punk goes for a slam, but his knee gives out and Ziggler comes crashing down on top of him. Ziggler punches away at Punk’s knee. He attempts a suplex, but Punk rolls him up with an inside cradle. Near fall. Ziggler stays on Punk’s knee. He allows Punk to get up but drop kicks him in the face. Another knee impacted submission from Ziggler. Punk gets out of this one with headbutts. Punk counters a second drop kick and sends Ziggler into the turnbuckle with a catapult. Punk goes for a neck breaker, but Ziggler sends him into the turnbuckle. Ziggler immediately goes back to the knee and does a half crab. Punk crawls to the bottom rope for the rope break. Punk counters multiple punches by Ziggler with punches of his own and a spinning heel kick. Body slam by Punk followed by stiff kicks to the back. A kick to the face gets a near fall. Ziggler counters another kick and goes for a Fame Asser, but misses. Punk tosses him into the corner and hits the running knee. He goes for the GTS, but Vickie grabs his leg. Ziggler falls on top of him for the near fall. John Laurinaitis makes his way down to the ring and grabs the mic. Punk hits a kick to the face and covers Ziggler. The referee is distracted by Laurinaitis as John says that Vickie Guerrero is ejected from ring side. Laurinaitis gets up on the ring apron to talk to Punk as Ziggler hits the Zig Zag from behind. Ziggler pins the WWE Champion and earns a title shot next week. Dolph picks up the championship and runs laps around the ring. So the main event next week will be a solid CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler championship match. I like it.

Bang. Red smoke. Kane in a metal mask. He climbs into the ring and creates another explosion. Typical Kane entrance. He grabs the mic as we will finally hear from him. Kane says he is in his true form. He says all the people in the arena are living a lie. Just then John Cena’s music hits interrupting Kane. Cena stands at the top of the ramp and Kane makes an explosion happen right where Cena is standing. Cena has the funniest/scared-est look on his face. He almost got blown up! Kane rambles on and really doesn’t make sense. He talks about hating humans. He says hate should be embraced and that Cena rises above it. Kane talks about people hating their bosses, neighbors, spouses, and their miserable existence. Kane has a problem with Cena’s “Rise Above” catch phrase. This is an extremely weak tie in to their feud. That’s the best they could come up with? Kane attacks Cena because he doesn’t like his catch phrase? I no longer care about this feud or storyline. Kane seriously rambles on for like 5 more minutes and just repeats the same things over and over again. The crowd obviously gets bored because they start chanting “let’s go Cena” and “Cena sucks.” They are so loud that Kane has to stop talking. Then he starts talking again about Cena’s path to enlightenment, or something like that. Kane wants the crowd to chant “Cena sucks” and he repeats it over and over. This is apparently supposed to make Cena hate. I’m guessing that if Cena does turn heel that this storyline will aid to his turn and make him begin to “hate.” Or at least I guess so. I don’t really care to be honest. So the crowd half chants “let’s go Cena” and “Cena sucks” as the show goes off the air. What a terrible finish. That was the worst finish I’ve seen since…..I dunno…maybe ever. Seriously. Nothing really happened.

Pretty good show overall. Punk was used a whole lot, which is always great.  Cody Rhodes vs. Booker T stole the show. Daniel Bryan wasn’t featured enough. He should be wrestling on both Raw and Smackdown every single week…and winning. That’s the best way to really put him over. They don’t always have to be main event matches either. He could wrestle a random match against someone like Primo and I’d be happy. Because he would make it amazing. I’m sad to say that I don’t care about Kane anymore. He was cool for two weeks. Now they made it boring. I’m really looking forward to Punk vs. Ziggler next week. More so I’m looking forward to finding out who the cryptic videos have been for. Next week is finally the second day of 2012. It will begin!

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