In the aftermath of the Royal Rumble, we are officially on the Road to Wrestlemania. This is the time of year where all of the storylines from the past year reach their finale. It’s also the time of the year when at least 14 minutes of every broadcast must involve someone (or multiple someone’s) pointing and staring longingly at the Wrestlemania sign. Sidenote: This year’s Wrestlemania sign doesn’t feature the traditional Roman numeral layout of past signs, which much be confusing to people who are trying to figure out exactly what number “NY/NJ” is.
This RAW took place in Las Vegas so they busted out the good ol’ RAW Roulette. I’ve never been a huge fan of RAW Roulette for a number of reasons. The first reason is that there is nothing random about it. They clearly have the matches picked beforehand and only have the wheel as a way to kill a few minutes of the broadcast. I’m not asking for a lot to make it more believable, all I’m asking that if steel cage match is an option why not at least pretend it might happen by having the steel cage hanging in the arena. I also don’t care for RAW Roulette because they only break it out when they are in Vegas. If I was living in Vegas, I’d be tired of seeing RAW Roulette every time I was there. The audience has to be tired of seeing it at this point.
CM Punk makes his way to the ring and cuts a promo about how he was screwed at the Royal Rumble. He talks about he is still the rightful champion and that he won the match. He then goes on to talk about how the match will go down in history as the “Phoenix Screwjob.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I am so tired of hearing matches referred to as “Such-and-Such City Screwjob.” Montreal was a big deal but it has been almost 15 years since it happened. I officially declared it dead when Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart hugged it out a few years ago. Everything else Punk said was spot on (the match shouldn’t have been restarted, etc), but referring to it as a screwjob seemed super cliché.
The promo was interrupted by Vince McMahon (who is CEO/Chairman again, despite being “I Love You, Pop’d a year and a half ago), who says he has evidence of Paul Heyman being in cahoots with Brad Maddox and The SHIELD. Also, Paul Heyman would be up for a performance review later in the evening.
Overall, not a bad opening segment, it kept the heat from the previous night going and set-up the ending segment. Also, props for getting all of that done in less than 10 minutes and not dilly-daddling for 20+ like some opening segments.
RANDY ORTON VS ANTONIO CESARO W/ SPECIAL GUEST REFEREE THE MIZ
The first match of the night was decided by the wheel to be a special guest referee match between Cesaro and Orton. The Miz walks out and is announced as the special guest referee. As far as special guest referee matches go, this one wasn’t too bad. The previous history of Cesaro and The Miz factored in nicely, while not taking anything away from Orton.
Orton is stuck in storyline purgatory. He is super over with fans but isn’t really involved in any title picture. He’s a main eventer wrestling midcarders because there isn’t anything else for him. Don’t get me wrong, the match was pretty good. I especially liked the trading uppercuts towards the beginning of the match. I also enjoyed how the Miz let a few things slide as ref, just to get back at Cesaro. The ending was fairly predictable with Orton coming out on top and then a post-match Skull Crushing Finale from the Miz.
More than anything, I’m happy to see Cesaro getting to put on consistently good matches on RAW. A lot of people were worried that the WWE were jumping the gun with him by giving him the US title so soon but it seems to have worked out. I always enjoy seeing Indy wrestlers make it to the big stage and do well. The match also helped advance the storyline of Cesaro and Miz, so their inevitable rematch is good to go.
MAKE ME LAUGH SEGMENT: PRIMETIME PLAYERS VS RYBACK
In the tried and true segment of “Let’s Take Intimidating Wrestler and Make Him Do Something Out of His Element,” Ryback was placed in a segment where he was supposed to tell jokes against the Primetime Players. The PTP went first, telling a not hilarious joke but not caring because, heels. However, I don’t know if Titus O’Neil tries to be funny but I find him to be one of the most consistently hilarious wrestlers on RAW. Who would have thought giving someone a whistle would have such an awesome outcome.
The segment essentially turned into a Ryback beatdown of the PTP, with Ryback turning on judge, Matt Striker as well. You would think that Striker would stop volunteering for these things because they never end well for him. I for one was disappointed that Ryback didn’t come out and do 10 minutes of amazing stand-up. Hell, I would have been happy with a wonderful “FEED ME MORE” pun. Oh well, maybe Earth 2 Ryback is hilarious and isn’t as susceptible to pink-eye.
WADE BARRETT VS BO DALLAS
This match was the biggest surprise of the night. After eliminating Barrett from the Rumble, Bo Dallas gets a clean win over him the next night on Raw as well. This is a really fun feud to watch because both guys are young, hungry competitors who will only make each other better. Also, I enjoy seeing new talent on RAW. While many felt Dallas’ brother, Bray Wyatt (Husky Harris) may have been the better fit for the Rumble/RAW, Bo is showing that he is just as talented.
Wade Barrett is the clear future of the WWE but they have got to get him a less goofy finisher. Wasteland was ok but he couldn’t do it to everyone. This Bullhammer/Souvenir/Crappy Elbow just isn’t cutting it. If he is supposed to be some bare-knuckle brawler (who still wears a cape because I guess he fights bare-knuckle at classy dinner parties), why not just give him some sort of punch as a finisher? Also, pulling his elbow pad down only to show another elbow pad (BUT THIS ONE IS RED, EVERY WRESTLERS WEAKNESS. IT’S LIKE GREEN LANTERN’S WEAKNESS TO YELLOW!) is just silly. I look forward to see where this storyline goes though, as I don’t think they will give Bo the IC title, but in this crazy day and age, you never know.
JOHN CENA VS CODY RHODES
This match was terrible. John Cena, fresh off his terrible Royal Rumble victory, gets fed Cody Rhodes, who the announcers just put over as having a great Rumble. I hate seeing Cena just go through people like it’s nothing. Cody Rhodes didn’t get any offense in at all. There is a difference between cowardly heel getting beat down and amazing mid-carder getting buried by Super Cena. This didn’t do anything for Cena. My favorite part of the match was Rhodes going to the outside, grabbing a mic and saying “This is a waste of Cody Rhodes. I’m leaving.” You have no idea how right you are Cody, you have no idea.
Five Moves of Doom later, Cody is pinned and then we get the “I FAILED TO BEAT THE ROCK AT WRESTLEMANIA” promo. Why even have a match if its only purpose was to lead to a promo? Just have Cena come out and talk. That way, guys like Cody don’t have to be fodder in the Cena machine.
Also, don’t drag this out Cena. I felt like even though he announced what title he was going for last night, he still drug it out. In a perfect world, Cena comes out for a promo, says “I WANT THE ROCK! ONCE IN A LIFETIME PART 2: EVEN MORE ONCE LIFETIME ELECTRIC BOOGALOO!” and leaves.
Or The SHIELD could come out then and beat him down. I always get nervous when watching the SHIELD do run-ins. I never know which SHIELD we are going to get. Will they be super-dominant SHIELD or the SHIELD that can get single-handedly beaten down by Ryback/Cena/Sheamus. Luckily, last night we got the former.
As fun as Shield run-ins are, can they actually get some one on one matches? I would love to see Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, or Roman Reigns have a match with someone. Have them go through guys like Rey Mysterio or Santino. They have been established as a group but it is time to establish them as individual badasses as well.
TENSAI VS BRODUS CLAY LINGERIE PILLOW FIGHT/DANCE-OFF
Let’s spend as little time talking about this segment as possible. In the second instance of Let’s Take Intimidating Wrestler and Make Him Do Something Out of His Element,” Tensai was placed in a Lingerie Pillow Fight match that was later changed to a Dance Off but guess what, BRODUS DIDN’T TELL TENSAI LOL HILARITY WILL ENSUE!
No. No it did not. Instead, we get Tensai disrobing to show off his lingerie top and look fat/awkward for the crowd. Him and Brodus then have a terrible dance off because dancing is funny and fat people. This segment killed about 10 minutes though, so aren’t we all glad Raw went to 3 hours so we can fit segments like this in?
I just feel bad for Tensai. Originally brought in to be a monster, he never really found his place among the roster. Whether it was because the fans didn’t care or because they couldn’t stop chanting “ALBERT” long enough to care, Tensai has had a terrible year. He went from a mist spitting monster, to a Asian-worshipper beating monster, then to overly large comedy jobber, and now, I don’t even know what he is. I think the best case scenario at this point would be to release him or try to repackage him as Albert or A-Train. However, if they release him, I worry he’ll go to TNA and be the Aces and 8’s Secretary or something.
ALBERTO DEL RIO VS BIG SHOW
This match wasn’t so much of a match as it was a Big Show destruction of ADR. Big Show was still mad that he lost via Batista duct-tape at the Royal Rumble and took all of his frustrations out on Ricardo and Alberto. This should keep the feud going through at least Elimination Chamber and then Del Rio can go on to face someone else at Wrestlemania. Hopefully, that person is Dolph Ziggler who still has his Money in The Bank briefcase.
KAITLYN VS TAMINA
The stipulation for this match was a Vegas Showgirl match or whatever which meant all the Divas dressed up like showgirls and surrounded the ring. It wasn’t really a Lumberjill match though. They just kind of stood around the ring.
Kaitlyn has improved in the ring significantly since her time on NXT and even in the past 6 months. Her match with Tamina was not horrible. The finish was stupid though with all the Divas getting in the ring to wrestle in their Showgirl outfits or whatever.
THE ROCK SEGMENT
This is what the show had been promoting for the past 2 hours: The Rock comes out and gives his championship speech. He talks about he is going to usher in change and that a new era is beginning. First off, wouldn’t the Rock being champion usher in the past-era? This is a typical Rock promo where he does his catch-phrases to huge pops and gets the crowd fired up. He really doesn’t do or say anything new. It’s the same old song and dance, only with a belt this time.
CM Punk interrupting was good. He made some valid points about the Rock being handed the title, although I would have liked a few more pipebombs thrown in. Maybe talk about the Rock getting the title because he’s in movies or what not. Also, as a huge GI Joe fan, I really want to hear CM Punk rip on the Rock for ruining his childhood and not being good enough to play Roadblock or whatever. That’s the promo I want to hear. I liked that Punk called himself a “punk ass bitch” because “it’s cool to swear.” That was a nice dig. I also liked how Punk offered to grant the Rock a rematch at a number of different places before deciding on Elimination Chamber.
DAMIEN SANDOW VS SHEAMUS TABLES MATCH
I am always a fan of table matches. I really don’t have any reason to be, they usually end the same way because there is only so many ways you can put someone through a table. I guess my ECW love still lives strong when it comes to violent stipulation matches. The only downside to any tables match is the amount of time spent setting up tables. However, it’s always fun to try to guess how the match will end.
This was the part of the evening where the other half of Rhodes Scholars needed to be Cena-fied by John Sheamus. I don’t dislike Sheamus as much as Cena, but Sheamus needs to reinvent himself and be something more than “IRISH GUY WHO ABSORBS FINISHING MOVES LIKE KIRBY.”
The match itself was normal table affair with a bunch of false-finish teases. Using White Noise to put Sandow through the table was pretty cool. Overall, this match really didn’t do much for either guy as Sheamus is kind of floating around the Randy Orton-sphere with nothing to really do and Damien Sandow is currently locked in a Groundhog Day of unlimited tag team title shots.
Why won’t the Great Khali go away? It’s not hilarious to watch a large Indian man poorly sing Shawn Michaels’ entrance song. Seeing 3MB come out and interrupt them for not being real rockers was entertaining, but ultimately lead to sloppy brain-chops from Khali and Hornswoggle Frog Splashes. If you have this segment go one-on-one with the Tensai/Brodus Clay segment, the sheer awfulness may tear a hole in the very fabric of reality.
JERICHO/ZIGGLER VS TEAM HELL NO
Jericho’s promo was entertaining. I’m glad he’s not trolling the audience anymore and just having fun. I also commend the WWE for not “6 Month Ruling” Ziggler being responsible for Y2J’s departure. The Strange Bedfellows match was what it was. Jericho and Ziggler being dysfunctional as a tag team while facing another dysfunctional tag team. Jericho leaving Ziggler to be choke-slammed by Kane was nice, albeit, predictable.
The main problem I had with this match was the same problem I’ve had with Ziggler facing Cena for the past month: he’s not progressing as a character. It’s not his fault. They have him keep doing cocky things like entering the Rumble number 1 and calling himself the Show-Off, but he hasn’t won in a while. Also, how long is he going to keep that briefcase before they have him cash it in? I’m beginning to think the only way they are going to have him cash in is when the briefcase gets so beat up, it literally can’t be carried to the ring anymore. I’m all for surprise cash ins but this is being dragged out quite a bit. If you aren’t going to let Ziggler win like a MITB holder, free him of the burden.
PAUL HEYMAN PERFORMANCE REVIEW
Vince McMahon comes out and begins the performance review of Paul Heyman. Most everyone knew where this segment was going. Vince shakes Paul’s hand and then immediately uses hand-sanitizer. The most enjoyable part of the promo was Paul Heyman defending being a liar. You could tell that it was from the heart and he believed every word he was saying. The video evidence presented was typical “Turn that camera off but don’t really turn it off so we can use it for blackmail.” Yes, Paul Heyman was behind the SHIELD, and yes, he had them take out Brad Maddox. The awesome part though, was he kept denying it was him. If they could have cued up Shaggy’s hit song “Wasn’t Me,” it would have been gold. Heyman was clearly screwed and as Vince took a deep breath and began the “YOUUUUU’RREEEEE….” Brock Lesnar’s music hit.
We all knew Lesnar was coming back soon so this wasn’t that big of a surprise. Many thought he’d be in the Rumble the previous night but he wasn’t. The only issue I have is that Vince really was so taken aback by Lesnar’s music he couldn’t finish his “YOU’RE FIRED?” Lesnar did jumping jack warm-ups for like a minute and half before coming to the ring. I doubt Lesnar’s music neutralizes Vince’s ability to speak. Why not be “Oh, it’s Lesnar, well, you’re still fired. I have a microphone that is just as loud as your music.” Granted, that’s not good television, but it is logical.
Brock makes his way to the ring, does some more warm-ups and then F-5’s Vince. This will set-up the HHH vs Lesnar rematch for Wrestlemania. I am excited for the CM Punk/Lesnar/Heyman Stable though.
Overall, not a bad after PPV show. This Wrestlemania season has been incredibly predictable as compared to some of the previous ones so that takes some of the enjoyment away. Overall, it’s still Wrestlemania season so there should be a few surprises here and there.
What do you think? Think the show was good? Bad? Too predictable. Let me know in the comments!
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This article was first posted on January 29, 2013