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All rights reserved.
December 7, 2009
– Adam Russell

Red Headed Stranger

This coming Sunday is the latest WWE pay-per-view, TLC, in which John Cena will defend his WWE championship against newcomer,
Sheamus. For several months, even years, there has been growing voice of dissent against the WWE’s main event scene, with the
criticism being that the same handful of wrestlers compete for the championship time after time at the expense of the creation of new
stars. A fortnight ago on Raw, Sheamus was elevated to the main event scene, only a handful of weeks after his WWE debut. The assent
of Sheamus has been rushed to say the least, and there are still question marks about just how successful it will be. As this was the last
Raw before the pay-per-view, it was the final chance to establish the big Irishman as a credible challenger to Cena. The results were a
mixed bag.

The show started with guest host, Mark Cuban being introduced to the crowd. Cuban announced that tonight there would be a â
€œshowdownâ€� between Cena and Sheamus, in which the two men would get an opportunity to say what they really think of one
another. Cena then made his way out for the opening match of the evening, while Cuban took a seat at ringside with the Bella twins and
several members of the Dallas Mavericks team which Cuban owns.

--- John Cena Vs Carlito

This match was a result of the altercation between the two last week, and started with Carlito as the aggressor, hitting Cena with
punches, kicks and a kneelift. Cena responded by going for a quick FU, but Carlito ducked out of the ring, and when he returned he
caught Cena with a dropkick for a two count. He then sent the champion to the corner, but Cena came out with a shoulderblock, hit the
back suplex slam, and readied himself for the 5 Knuckle Shuffle. At this point, Sheamus made his way out, but Cuban confronted him in
the aisle, and summoned security to block his path to the ring. Sheamus retreated to the back, but the distraction allowed Carlito to
attack Cena from behind. However, Cena managed to counter a Backstabber attempt into an FU, and pick up the glorified squash win at
2’58. I don’t see the point of bringing Carlito back in from the cold, just to have him jobbing again, and already the great promo
he cut last week seems to have been for naught.

Legacy came out next, and Randy Orton said that he applauds the way Mark Cuban has taken charge, but told him that his championship
showdown will end in chaos. He continued that he doesn’t care who wins the Cena/Sheamus match, because Cuban is going to lift
his ban on facing Cena for the championship. Ted Dibiase took the mic next, and cued up the video of what happened the last time Orton
and Cuban were in a ring together- Randy giving Cuban the RKO back in 2003. Cuban responded by saying that there’s no way he
will lift the ban, and made a match between Orton and Kofi Kingston for later in the night, with himself as guest referee. Cody Rhodes
responded to that announcement by challenging Cuban to a match later in the night, with the stipulation being that if Cody won, Cuban
would lift the ban on Orton. Cuban shot that down, saying they can take it up in June after the Mavericks have won the play-offs. He then
told Rhodes and Dibiase that they have a match next, and Evan Bourne and Primo came out as their opponents. I’m sure that
frightened them.

--- Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase Vs Evan Bourne and Primo

We came back from a commercial break with the match already in progress, and with Legacy hitting a double flapjack on Primo. They
followed that up with a double punch to the gut, and then Ted hit a dropkick. Primo came back with a back body drop, but Dibiase tagged
Rhodes, who took Bourne out of the equation and continued the assault on Primo. Primo fired back with some punches, and then the
two smacked heads, leading to a pair of tags being made. Bourne hit a hurricanrana on Dibiase, and a clothesline, and then went up to
the top rope. Ted followed him up, but Bourne countered a superplex attempt with a knee to the head, and then the flying double knees.
He went for a cover, which Cody broke up, and then Primo pulled Cody out of the ring. Bourne missed with a roundhouse kick on
Dibiase, and quick as a flash the Legacy man hit Dream Street to pick up the victory at 3’35. Cuban didn’t like what he saw, so
he threw Rhodes and Dibiase out of the building.

Another quick match, with nothing really gained on either side. This is something that puts Smackdown miles ahead of Raw, even during
a downtime for the Friday show- most of their matches are given time to develop, and the competitors are allowed to look competitive,
which gives them a chance to get over. Raw, on the other hand, is just one three minute match after another, where you’re either
doing a quick job, or getting a quick win that really doesn’t do all that much for you. I’m sure people would like to see a match like
this go around 10 minutes, rather than see another backstage Hornswoggle skit.

The Sheamus hard-sell began next, with a long video, the first of many shown through-out the night, highlighting Sheamus’s
dominance since coming to Raw (which really boils down to a couple of squashes of Jamie Noble, kicking Jerry Lawler in the face, and
then winning the breakthrough battle royal and putting Cena through a table).

Kelly Kelly was ring announcing for the next match, for no apparent reason.

--- Maryse Vs Gail Kim

Kim came out a house on fire for this one, taking Maryse down with a spear, a clothesline, and a splash in the corner, before Maryse
caught her with a slap to the face and ran out of the ring. Kim went after her and continued her domination, slamming her head into the
apron, and sending her back into the ring. She then went up to the 2nd rope, which was all the invitation Maryse needed. She kicked her
legs out from under her and picked up the pinfall with her legs on the ropes at 1’32. After the match, Maryse grabbed Kelly’s mic
and told her to announce her as the next divas champion. The two then got into a shoving match, with Maryse coming out on top until the
current divas champion, Melina, made the save, running Maryse off. I realised during this match how much I missed Maryse’s heel
mannerisms. I miss Melina’s heel mannerisms too, for that matter.

We cut to the back next for the first of this year’s, no doubt endless, D-X Christmas shills. This was garbage, which included
Hornswoggle jumping out of a box to advertise the new D-X and Hornswoggle t-shirt, Shawn and Hunter admitting that they were reading
everything off a script, and then Hornswoggle running off with Michaels’ cowboy hat. On the plus side, there was no mention of little
people’s court.

--- Kofi Kingston Vs Randy Orton
Guest referee: Mark Cuban

They got away with giving this match away on free television last week, by having Dibiase and Rhodes interfere before the bell rang. I
was a little surprised then, that they were going again with this, rather than saving it for the pay-per-view. The match began with Kofi
sending Orton to the outside with punches, and then hitting a suicide dive before the action returned to the ring. Kofi missed a charge
into the corner, and Orton hit a big clothesline, stomps to the gut, a powerslam and a kneedrop, then applied a facelock. Kofi fought out
with punches, hit a side Russian legsweep, and the B cubed legdrop, but Orton ducked Trouble in Paradise and connected with his
unique backbreaker. He then went for an RKO, but Kofi countered into a backslide, and Cuban fast-counted Orton’s shoulders down
to give Kofi the win at 5’15. Cuban then told Orton that he waited 6 years for that payback and, now that they each have one screwy
win, the rubber match will be held at TLC. The match was short and didn’t really give anything away, but the more two guys wrestle
each other, even in quick matches with none-finishes, the less special each outing becomes.

--- United States Championship Match- The Miz (champion) Vs Mark Henry

Henry squashed Miz last week to earn this championship match, and looked impressive in the early going here, throwing Miz across the
ring, knocking him down with a shoulderblock, and then lifting him for a gorilla slam. Miz punched his way free though, and dropkicked
Henry to the outside. He then hit a dropkick from the apron, which knocked Henry’s head into the steel ringpost, and sent him back
into the ring. He went up to the top rope but, just as he did last week, Henry caught him coming off. This time, though, Henry couldn’t
execute the World’s Strongest Slam, the Miz instead countering into a DDT to pick up the win at 2’39. It was refreshing to see a
guy win a match with something other than his finishing move or a roll-up of some kind, especially nice to see somebody win a match
with the old “x� move-into-DDT-spot, which is always sold by the announcers as a killer, but never actually puts anyone away.

Chris Masters was seen in the crowd with Mark Cuban next. If you thought it was random, stay tuned!

--- Chavo Guerrero and Jillian Hall Vs Hornswoggle and Eve Torres

Hornswoggle acted like he was going to start the match with Chavo, but instead tagged in Eve, making her in-ring debut on Raw. Jillian
attacked Eve, hitting a backbreaker, and throwing her face-first into the mat, before Eve replied with a clothesline and a pair of dropkicks.
She went for a monkey flip next, but Jillian blocked. Hall then went for a moonsault, but Eve got her knees up, and quickly hit a
somersault senton for the win at 2’14. Then the fun began. Chavo attacked Hornswoggle after the match, throwing him down to the
canvas. Eve blocked him off from following up and, when it looked like Chavo might get physical with Eve (we should all be so lucky),
Chris Masters climbed into the ring, and warned him off. Chavo got in Masters’ face, prompting the Masterpiece to take off his shirt
and flex his pecs threateningly in the face of Guerrero (not something I ever expected to write). Chavo took a swing, but Masters ducked
and locked on the Masterlock, before slamming Chavo to the mat. I wonder if Masters was surprised as I was at the loud Masterlock
chant that broke out during this segment. The face turn was bound to come for Masters, after the positive reaction to his pec dance
several weeks ago, but didn’t this exact same thing happen a couple of months ago, except with Masters attacking the leprechaun,
and Chavo running him off. They obviously dropped that story arc, probably thinking (and probably correctly) that Chavo has more worth
as a comedy heel than as a virtuous babyface. Masters has the potential to be more effective in the role.

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler ran down the card for TLC next, before it was time for our main event of Chris Jericho facing off against D-
X in a handicap match. This match came about after Jericho lost to Triple H last week.

--- D-Generation X Vs Chris Jericho

Jericho got on the mic before match, talking about all the Slammys he will win next week (yes, the Slammys are next week), and calling
himself omnipotent. Shawn Michaels started the match for D-X, and we got an opening period of him and Hunter making quick tags in
order to pound on Jericho. That came to an end when Jericho sent the referee hard into Triple H, and the Big Show made his way out.
With the ref down, Show delivered a headbutt to Michaels, and punches to his ribs, before Triple H hit him in the back with a chair, a
move that had little effect. Show punched the chair into Hunter’s face, while Michaels got a ladder from under the ring. Jericho hit a
baseball slide on the ladder, sending it into Michaels’s ribs, and Show and Jericho posed on the ladder to end the segment. The
match itself probably went about 2 minutes. A bit anti-climactic, considering that the sole purpose of last week’s main event was to
set this match up, but it served a purpose in continuing to make Jeri-Show look dominant with the hardware that will all be legal in their
TLC match on Sunday.

The real main event was the showdown between Cena and Sheamus. A table was set up in the ring, and Mark Cuban explained that he
would be asking three questions to both men, and they would have a chance to answer, in their own words. The two combatants made
their way out, and Cuban asked the first question to Sheamus, which is why he thinks he’ll win the match on Sunday. Sheamus went
on a long rant about Cena taking three years to win his first WWE championship, whereas it will take him only weeks. He also said that
he was undefeated, which is complete bullshit. Nothing he said really answered the question posed and, when it was Cena’s turn,
the champion merely said ‘no comment’ in that serious tone of his that always come across to me as smug. The next question
was whether either man was concerned about the dangers of a tables match. Sheamus again went on a tirade, saying that the best
case scenario for Cena is that he loses the championship, whereas the worst case scenario is that Sheamus breaks his back. He said
that he will take Cena’s belt (of course, he didn’t actually say belt), his health and his state of mind. Again, he didn’t really
answer the question (in fact, his two answers so far were totally interchangeable), and again, Cena went with ‘no comment’,
sounding even more serious and even more smug than before. The final question wasn’t a question at all, rather an invitation for any
last words, and Cena interrupted as Sheamus started answering. A bit rude- Cena had his designated times to talk, and declined. Cena
actually cut a really good promo here, asking Sheamus if he really believes what he says, and talking about how he’s faced everyone
in his seven years in the company. He asserted that he has always believed the words he has spoken; he believes in ‘you can’t
see me’, because he knows he’s on another level (that didn’t really fit the Cena character, in my opinion, who is more of a â
€˜defeat superior athletes with pure will and courage’ kind of guy, but whatever); he believes in hustle, loyalty and respect; he
believes he has earnt the right to say that the champ is here. He then threatened Sheamus that he will make him a footnote in WWE
history unless he backs up what he says at TLC. This upset the Celtic Warrior, and he destroyed his table, followed in kind by Cena.
Cuban tried to get in between the two of them, but Sheamus pushed him to the ground and delivered a pump kick to Cena’s head.
He then got a table from under the ring and set it up in the corner, before delivering another kick to Cena. Cuban decided to man up to
Sheamus now, giving him a shove which resulted in Sheamus embarrassingly falling on his arse. Sheamus got back up, delivered a
knee to Cuban’s midsection, picked him up and rammed him through the table. The Mavericks at ringside stepped over the security
wall, but Sheamus retreated. I hope their reactions are quicker come play-off time.

This was a bit of a strange ending segment. It went on a bit long, featured a really good Cena promo, had the number one contender
being floored by a skinny none-athlete, and then had said none-athlete going through a table. I give a lot of respect to Cuban for agreeing
to going through the table, and his performances were strong all night. I especially like the fact that he was seated ringside with the fans,
which cut out all the silly backstage skits. But how successful was this show in giving Sheamus that final push towards the pay-per-
view? Not terribly, in my opinion. The video packages were fine, but should have been a minimum requirement. Otherwise, he was hurt
by the fact that Cena didn’t really put him over during the showdown, and that he only took Cena out by blindsiding him. Again. If
Sheamus wins the championship on Sunday, he may be the most unknown champion in company history.

MVP of the night- I’ll give it to Cena this week. His promo was passionate, and well-performed, even though it didn’t really put
Sheamus over as a threat.

Host-o-metre- Cuban did a really good job, even though he seemed to be a bit of a camera-hog. Still, kudos for taking that table bump.