Entertaining Miz TV segment to kick off the show featuring John Cena and Team Rhodes Scholars. I'm glad they acknowledged the history between Miz and Cena rather than forgetting all about it as they usually do with past rivals. The two had a fun verbal exchange with Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow that set up their subsequent tag team match nicely.
Solid tag team match with John Cen and The Miz defeating Team Rhodes Scholars. All four guys worked well together and produced an entertaining bout where everyone came out looking good. Most of the action was formulaic, but the finish with everyone hitting their signature spots was well done. Teaming Miz with Cena was a brilliant move if they hope to have the Awesome One get over with the audience as a face.
Brief match with Antonio Cesaro defeating Sgt. Slaughter to successfully retain his United States Championship. It was fitting given that Cesaro despises Americans and the location of this week's Raw was Washington D.C., so I was fine with it. I'm pleasantly surprised Slaughter can still somewhat go for a man of his age, while Cesaro garnered some nice heat from this segment.
Fine match with Team Hell No defeating 3MB to successfully retain their WWE Tag Team Championships. The crowd couldn't care less about 3MB, and I don't blame them whatsoever. The action was pretty basic, but it was strange to see Bryan and Kane bickering again after they had been getting along so well in recent weeks when feuding with The Shield.
Good promo featuring WWE Champion CM Punk, Paul Heyman and Mr. McMahon. Punk wasn't as strong on the mic as he usually is, but that's mostly due to the fact that he wasn't really given any new material to work with. Their verbal exchange with McMahon was solid and the WWE Chairman's announcement regarding next week's potential matches helped hype the first Raw of 2013.
Great match between Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler. We've seen this match countless times over the last year, so it was nothing out of the ordinary, but the action was still exciting at points. The disqualification finish protected both guys, although I would have rather preferred to see Ziggler go over here. The Shield's attack on the Celtic Warrior felt unpredictable and foreshadowed a future feud between them.
Decent brawl between Divas Champion Eve and Kaitlyn. It gave Kaitlyn a more aggressive edge to her character while also furthering the feud between the two. As far as Mae Young's pregnancy goes, it was simple silliness. Sure, I strongly disliked that the ending result, but I guess Hornswoggle is the go-to guy these days for stupid story-lines.
Fun match between World Heavyweight Champion Big Show and Ricardo Rodriguez. It was mostly harmless and the crowd came alive for Ricardo's brief flurry of offense over Show. Del Rio's post-match attack on Show seemed to signal a rivalry between the two, which I'd be content with. I'm enjoying Del Rio's apparent face turn, but it's up to Creative to keep it consistent.
Excellent match with Wade Barrett defeating Kofi Kingston to win his second Intercontinental Championship. These two have amazing chemistry together and I enjoyed the final moment of this contest. Of course, most viewers already watching at home already knew the outcome of the bout due to WWE spoiling it on their website over the weekend, but that didn't take away from the match in my opinion. Although he should be World Champion, putting the Intercontinental title on Barrett gives him something to do for now, progresses this feud and helps restore some prestige in the belt as well.
Smart booking by having The Shield brawl with Sheamus, Ryback and the returning Randy Orton. The Shield's first match on Raw shouldn't be given away on a taped show, so I'm glad they worked around that and saved it for a later date. The inclusion of Sheamus and Orton help make this a fair fight and gives them a feud for the meantime as we progress towards the Royal Rumble. Speaking of Orton, his return didn't feel special at all, as he hasn't been gone long enough for it to have much of an impact.
Strong promo involving John Cena, Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee to close the show. Originally, I didn't want this feud to continue, but now I'm having second thoughts after watching this. Ziggler made some perfect points in saying that Cena had the worst year of his career in 2012, so he had no right in winning the Superstar of the Year award. Cena was also great on the mic when breaking the fourth wall and making references to how Ziggler has yet to break through WWE's proverbial glass ceiling. Some may not have found it funny, but I got a chuckle out of the fake pictures Cena showed of Ziggler and AJ's wedding. The raining of the manure was a bit unnecessary (especially on a PG show), but everything else was excellent to the point where I didn't mind it.
Overall, a fun show that served as nice filler on New Year's Eve, where the rating is expected to be low. Most of the matches were meaningless, but the action was still pretty good and there were some enjoyable moments that didn't make this Raw horrendous. There was also some successful hype for next week's first Raw of 2013 as well as some minor build for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in just a mere month away.
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