You might not know it, but there’s actually a WWE Title match tonight, even with all the hype for the return of The Rock. How much will be the long rumored Rock-Punk match overshadow the the TLC match tonight? Will Rock insert himself into the action somehow? How will Creative book themselves out of yet another hole with Ryback? Will Alberto Del Rio’s face turn continue smoothly? Will any other feuds get their time? What’s the over/under on how much time Punk-Rock and Punk-Ryback takes of the broadcast?

Cena-Ziggler: On paper, putting this as the opening match for RAW in 2013 might seem odd, given that this feud closed 2012. It was quite a good match, despite the fact that it was obvious Cena was going to win, which he did in typical SuperCena fashion. It was back-and-forth with Ziggler getting some good moves and Cena reversing a Superkick attempt into the STF, plus he added a little flair to the AA by releasing Ziggler in mid toss. Not a bad way to kick off 2013 and it highlights their biggest draw as well as perhaps their fastest rising star.

414 and counting: The most entertaining part of the TLC match was hearing Heyman in the background the entire time screeching. Good ring psychology with Punk using a chair and focusing on Ryback’s ankle. Chairs were used a majority of the time, though a ladder did get twisted after Ryback dropped Punk on it. The biggest spot came when Punk tried to follow up the high with a bulldog but instead got tossed out of the ring and through a table. Heyman freaked out, acting like this was Jeff Hardy getting speared by Edge hanging from the top. The inevitable happens when The Shield get involved, giving Punk the opportunity to climb the ladder and take his title. Well it wasn’t going to end any other way, right?

BONUS: Next week, Dr Shelby will return to evaluate Bryan and Kane. With the comedy gold those three stirred up, this deserves a special Bonus Best.

Finally:  As everyone is waiting for The Great One to make his entrance, Punk preempts and comes out to drop a Pipebomb in the vein of the one that put him in the spotlight. It’s masterful and words cannot do it justice. Rocky finally has enough and comes out as the crowd goes predictably berserk. Of course with the seriousness of Punk’s soliloquy, Rock has to come back with some light-hearted banter and the usual catchphrases. Both men brought passion and energy to this exchange, with Punk taking the serious track and Rock opting for crowd-pleasing one liners. If the objective was to sell people on their match at the Rumble, then they succeeded enormously.

Giveaways: Rarely is the time where there’s a WWE Title match on RAW that means anything. These are meant to be monumental matches that are saved for PPVs, and this one tonight is compounded by the fact that it’s a TLC match. I understand the logic of giving Ryback the match he was promised after Punk’s injury, but a TLC match on free TV just seems like it won’t measure up to its PPV counterparts. They don’t want to go all out or give away too much, so they sort of go half way.

Squashes: The squash can be a very useful tool when trying to build up a bigger star. However, tonight is yet another example of how WWE does well with some of them, but misses with others. Randy Orton was returning from a brief absence and Wade Barrett had just won the IC title, so squashes for each could be useful. Orton’s against Heath Slater at least went for a decent amount of time, plus Randall got to RKO every member of 3MB. On the other hand, Barrett’s quick victory over Santino really did nothing for him and wasn’t that big of a win to start off his second IC reign. On the other hand, at least one served its purpose.

Ryback: WWE had booked themselves into a corner with Ryback. Punk obviously retained, but they needed a way for Ryback to lose yet again and still save face. The Shield interfering and costing him the title achieved that, but that has to be a point where that tactic doesn’t work anymore. Now that he’s out of the title picture with Punk focusing on Rock, the first thing he must do is find a feud where he can actually win some matches. That’ll restore a bit of his previous dominance and have him primed for a Mania match.