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Ruse’s WWE Raw Review – 14th December 2009
by David Ruse on 16 December 2009

It was awards night on Raw and the show was not lacking any glitz and glamour. The Slammy trophies glistened due to the cheap imitation gold they were coated in, while the Divas looked pretty as a picture in their elegant frocks. It was just a shame that the wrestling could not keep pace with the snazzy ceremony surrounding it.

A throng of gongs were dished out during the three-hour extravaganza, with in-ring combat deciding the destination of the ultimate prize – Superstar of the Year. Newly-dethroned WWE champion John Cena, world heavyweight title carrier Undertaker, the Straightedge Sermoniser CM Punk and the Viper Randy Orton were the four nominees and battled in a mini-tournament to crown the victor.

Cena, scowling from his crushing defeat to Sheamus at TLC, made light work of Punk – the recipient of the Shocker of the Year crown for retiring the effervescent Jeff Hardy – in the opening semi-final, forcing his fellow grappler to tap out to the STF in around two minutes. The match was far too short but it did portray a serious Cena, a man gunning to get his championship back, unperturbed by anyone who happens to be opposing him, and a convincing triumph over an upper-card performer added merit to that scenario.

Raw’s controversial centrepiece delivered his traditional heartfelt oratory at the denouement of the bout, adamant that he will go unconquered until he reacquires the coveted WWE strap. It was a passionate and well-conveyed speech and seemed to set in stone Cena-Sheamus fracas number two. Later that night, The Legend Killer created Cena-Orton version nine million by beating Undertaker via count out in another ridiculously unprolonged affair. Legacy’s interference was pivotal in the Viper’s success but he did not leave the ring unscathed, feeling Undertaker’s fierce wrath courtesy of a post-match Chokeslam.

It was not all doom and gloom for the Deadman – his Wrestlemania show-stealer with Shawn Michaels was rewarded with the Match of the Year accolade. The Heartbreak Kid collected the keepsake at the lectern and swiftly challenged the Phenom to another joust at Wrestlemania 26. Not many would be frustrated by that but with plenty of bouts and storyline swerves until that eagerly-anticipated late-March twilight, fans should not salivate too much just yet.

Back to the bouts and Cena did end the week on a relative high by pipping Orton in the Superstar of the Year finale. The impassioned sweat-band adorer survived one of the Legend Killer’s vicious DDT-style manoeuvres and an attempted punt to the head, to hit his long-time adversary with an Attitude Adjustment and become the top prize winner of the night, before his new rival Sheamus emerged for a closing-credit staredown.

The ginger-haired philistine earlier picked up best breakthrough star and while his words were not as fervent or fascinating as the previous Monday, the Irishman looked liked he belonged at the WWE’s top table. It is a lot harder to stay at the apex than to reach it but Sheamus started on the right foot. He did not back down from Cena and providing the booking does not fail him, the Celtic Warrior’s title reign has some serious potential.

Trophy-giving took up the majority of the time in Corpus Christi, Texas and as with most awards galas it was hit and miss, though, it was certainly boosted by having a genuine MC in the form of multi-talented showman Dennis Miller. The comedian’s political-wrestling satire did not fire the crowd up like Mark Cuban’s vocality did last week but barring a few slips of the tongue, Miller kept everything in check.

The presenting segments were – as expected -  pretty poor at times, with the combinations of R-Truth and Jillian and MVP and Goldust proving to be particularly uninspiring TV. The Chris Masters-Carlito-Eve-Matt Hardy segment – after the latter had collected the Extreme Moment of the Year on behalf of his brother Jeff – was also fairly humdrum, even though Master’ pec-flexes continue to amuse.

Other honours went to veteran game-show anchor Bob Barker for Guest Host of the Year (where was Jesse Ventura’s nomination?), to Maria, who surprisingly won the WWE.com-decided Diva of the Year despite doing nothing for most of it, and to Michael Cole, the beneficiary of the “Oh My” Moment of the Year for emptying his insides all over Chris Jericho’s shoes at Smackdown’s 10th anniversary shindig.

That was a tumultuous night for Jericho but this one was worse. It began brightly enough with Jeri-Show taking home Tag Team of the Year and invoking their rematch clause against DX for the unified tag titles later on that evening. But after Michaels and HHH – who now have a snuggle blanket among their merchandise – purposely disqualified themselves with schoolboy tomfoolery on an annoyed referee, the loquacious Canadian was given a taste of Sweet Chin Music and hastily evicted from the arena by a bevy of gleeful superstars.

Without the tag belts, Jericho is confined to Smackdown alone and if that remains the case, hopefully he will infuse himself back into the Friday-brand’s main-event scene and with a bit of luck Raw will use his absence to give more TV time to the criminally-underused MVP and Jack Swagger amongst others.

The remaining matches were short and shabby. Mark Henry, Yoshi Tatsu and John Morrison saw off The Miz, Drew McIntyre and Zack Ryder, while in a second six-man contest, former foes Kane and The Great Khali teamed up with worn-out ECW champion Christian to heap more misery on William Regal and his eroding Ruthless Roundtable. Mickie James pinned Rosa Mendes in a dreadful eveningwear-clad seven-on-seven Divas match and Legacy – who have fallen back into lackey mode since their career-making battles with DX – dovetailed neatly to defeat Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne, with Cody Rhodes’ sickening Cross Rhodes on Bourne the decisive moment.

Wrestling was left in the shadows then, but it was a solid enough episode of Raw. We were reminded of the best bits of the past year, current rivalries were not forgotten and potential future battles were hinted at. Oh yeah, and Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart might be seen in WWE territory again. Now that would be something.

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