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Raw: Cena finishes off his year with a surprise for Ziggler and AJ
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


Tonight on Raw: It's a New Year's Eve celebration, WWE style. That means a toast hosted by Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee with John Cena as the guest of honor. Sounds like trouble, but we'll only find out as we dive into Raw, not quite live on USA.

We're kicking things off with Miz TV, where the Awesome One announces that Vickie Guerrero has decided that it's a championships on the line kind of night. Apparently all champs can choose their own opponents though. Miz's guest is Cena, who immediately gets grilled about his betrayal at the hands of AJ. What does he really think of AJ Lee? Cena says it's over, but Miz asks if he has RSVPed for the toast. He has, but whil he speculates about what else they might do tonight, he's interrupted by Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes. Sandow comes out quoting T.S. Eliot, to which Cena retorts with a quote from Robert Griffin III. Sandow has never heard of him, leading to him getting shouted down by an “RGIII” chant from the fans. As the witty repartee continues, Cena challenges “Gandalf and Magnum P.I.” to a little tag team match... right now.

Match 1 – John Cena and The Miz vs. Team Rhodes Scholars

JBL takes it back even further with a Clark Gable reference to Rhodes' mustache. He works over Miz after a commercial break, but the fans rally behind the Awesome One. Sandow is tagged in to drop the Elbow of Disdain, and we're all welcome. Miz gets a near fall on Sandow with a small package but otherwise takes some extended punishment. Naturally, Cena eventually gets the hot tag, and amid some confusion is able to nail Sandow with the Attitude Adjustment to get the win.

The New Year's celebration is already in full swing backstage, where David Otunga claims 2013 is going to be his year. Ziggler was not invited to Vickie's soiree, but he wants bygones to be bygones. She books her former boy toy in a match with Sheamus. Happy New Year!

CM Punk is also on hand, whining about the members of the WWE Universe who don't believe that his injury is real. Vickie wants to put Ryback in action since Punk hypothetically would have defended his title against the monster tonight. Punk and Paul Heyman manage to persuade Guerrero to have Ryback take on all three members of The Shield.

Antonio Cesaro says he did a little sightseeing around D.C., where he ran into someone who represents patriotism like no one else. He's going to defend the U.S. title against that man too.

Match 2 – Antonio Cesaro (champion) vs. Sgt. Slaughter (challenger) – United States Championship Match

Sarge manages to get the Cobra Clutch applied early on, but that's about his only moment of glory. A Neutralizer puts the veteran away in short order. That's not enough for Cesaro, who connects with another Neutralizer after the bell and mocks kicking dirt on Slaughter.

Daniel Bryan and Kane have a brief run-in with 3MB in the locker room. Back at the party, Big Show tries out his Spanish on Ricardo Rodriguez. Looks like everyone's favorite ring announcer is getting a title shot. And oh my goodness, it's Mae Young. She's getting a title shot too!

Match 3 – Team Hell No (champions) vs. 3MB (champions) – WWE Tag Team Championship Match

Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre draw the wrestling duty for the challengers. Hard to believe that McIntyre was once getting the same kind of push as Sheamus. Didn't work out so well for him. Jinder Mahal gets involved on the outside, smashing a jumping knee into Bryan's face. Daniel manages to kick out of several pinning attempts, and once Kane gets tagged in, it spells doom for 3MB. Kane choke slams McIntyre and Bryan comes off the top rope to put him away. Bryan can't resist playing a little air guitar on his title belt to tease 3MB, but Kane wants no part of that.

Punk limps his way to the ring on crutches to speak about his big year. He leads off by listing all of the men he beat while continuing his long title reign, and he boasts about his ability to overcome adversity. That includes his current injury, and to address rumors that he's faking it, he brought a doctor with him. Unfortunately, the doctor feels the champ is too injured to compete. Let's see what someone more important has to say about that: Mr. Vincent Kennedy McMahon. The Chairman thinks Punk may be attempting to weasel his way out of facing Ryback again, and he proposes that WWE officials are going to evaluate his injury for themselves next week. If they deem him healthy enough to compete, he'll have to defend his strap against Ryback in a TLC Match. McMahon goes on to say that there are still lingering questions about his association with Brad Maddox and The Shield. Heyman objects to McMahon casting doubt on an “injured hero” like Punk, and his indignant act is pretty good. Vince says if Punk is found to be unable to wrestle, Ryback is going to need another opponent – and it's going to be Heyman. He has a feeling Punk is going to wrestle.

Match 4 – Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus

Ziggler fires out of the gate, taking the fight to Sheamus. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler discuss how much AJ has “circulated” around the locker room during 2012. Sheamus gets Ziggler caugt in the ropes, but Big E Langston saves Dolph from taking too many shots to the chest. Commercial break. Ziggler jumps into a big DDT that forces Sheamus to kick out at two. Elbow drops get another near fall as Langston glares from ringside. Dolph's low drop kick gets him yet another two count. Sheamus recovers to battle Ziggler up onto the second rope, where he launches Dolph into a fallaway slam. The Great White also connects with a jumping shoulder block off the top turnbuckle, but it's not enough to get the pinfall. Ziggler tries for another DDT but finds himself caught and dropped with White Noise. The fans want the Brogue Kick, but Langston grabs Sheamus by the foot. Big E climbs on the apron, but there's no confrontation coming with Sheamus because The Shield hits the ring and gets the match thrown out. Sheamus holds his own for a moment, but a spear from Roman Reigns turns momentum against him. The group power bomb comes next, and Sheamus is left looking up at the lights.

Wade Barrett wants to know if Kofi Kingston is going to man up and pick him as his challanger or if he's stuck deciding between Hornswoggle and Little Jimmy. Kingston reminds Barrett that he's already beaten him, but he's up for a rematch. Elsewhere, Maddox enters Punk's locker room looking for a job. Heyman tells him to beat it. And finally, Mae Young is having stomach cramps and has to be placed on a table in the party room. A doctor says she can't compete because she's pregnant. Duh, duh, DUH!

Eve blasts Mae for her flimsy excuse for not competing, especially since she was looking forward to taking on a Hall of Famer. She wants the ref to declare her the winner by forfeit, but Kaitlyn has other ideas. The two Divas brawl in and out of the ring while the ref tries in vain to separate them. Torres eventually pulls her title belt away and heads up the ramp.

Alberto Del Rio comes to check on Rodriguez as he warms up for his match with Big Show. Alberto admits that he hasn't always treated his ring announcer as anything better than dirt, and he vows to be there for him tonight. He even loans his scarf and one of his cars so Rodriguez can go to the ring in style.

Match 5 – The Big Show (champion) vs. Ricardo Rodriguez (challenger) – World Heavyweight Championship Match

With Del Rio urging him on, Rodriguez gets the fans fired up by hitting a running enzuigiri and several other surprisingly agile moves. He tries for one too many when he get caught by a punch coming off the top rope, and Show is about to turn his lights out. Del Rio comes to the rescue, getting the match thrown out but also scoring with a number of kicks on Show. The champ fumes as Del Rio helps Rodriguez to the back.

Match 6 – Kofi Kingston (champion) vs. Wade Barrett (challenger) – Intercontinental Championship Match

Kingston keeps Barrett off balance in the early going, earning himself a quick near fall. Barrett backs away from Trouble in Paradise, knowing that's how he got into trouble last time. Cole runs down the backgrounds of both men: Barrett paid for his marine biology degree by competing in bare knuckle fights, while Kingston worked multiple jobs to be able to attend Boston College. Barrett is still in peril after a commercial break, but he manages to power bomb Kingston out of the corner to come oh so close to the win. Kingston gets nailed with the Wasteland, and it's still not enough to keep him down for three. Barrett is warned repeatedly as he batters Kofi in the corner, and he escapes a Kingston move off the top rope. Wade finds the target with the Bull Hammer, and the three count means we'll have at least one new champ tonight.

A video package helps us all relive Kris Kringle's participation in last week's show. This isn't well known, but his finisher is called the Chimney Drop. Back in the present, it's time for Mae Young's baby. The Great Khali helps deliver... Hornswoggle? #whatever

Match 7 – The Shield vs. Ryback

All three Shield members meet Ryback on his way to the ring, but he eventually gets Dean Ambrose isolated for a moment in the ring. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns quickly come to his aid, but Sheamus runs down to try to even the odds. Now they're actually even because Randy Orton joins the fray. It's still not an official match as the bell hasn't rung. Ambrose eats an RKO as Ryback tosses Rollins out to the floor to hit Reigns.

The ring is all done up in black and white for Ziggler and Lee's New Year's toast. Langston apparently does not get to dress up. Dolph says the toast should first go out to the members of the WWE Universe who voted John Cena Superstar of the Year. To that end, he reminds everyone that Cena could not lose to The Rock... but he did. The very next night, Ziggler reminds us, Cena got taken out by a returning Brock Lesnar. Oh, and he also lost a PPV match to John Laurinaitis (with some help from Big Show). But wait, there's more! Cena cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot against CM Punk, becoming the first person to lose while doing so. He finished off his year by getting stabbed in the back by AJ and losing again. Ziggler calls this year the most disgusting, embarrassing, futile year of his life. Dolph declares that his time is now, and John just isn't on his level any more. He tells Langston that Cena is not invited any longer, and that his job is to make sure John doesn't show up. AJ makes a mushy toast to Dolph and some champagne is poured. Oh, and there's an extended kiss. Cena's music hits, but Big E is standing in his way. John says Dolph is right, and he's here to own up to it. Cena has some fun at the couple's expense, showing off “exclusive” photos that suggest AJ has had kids with most of the guys in the locker room. Cena turns serious by reminding Ziggler that it is his seventh year in WWE, and he's still waiting for his turn to be WWE Champion. They trade barbs about each other's outfits before Cena toasts Ziggler and Lee and has what appears to be manure dropped on them from above. Happy New Year everybody!