WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Jan. 7, 2013) from Tampa, Florida, featuring the return of The Rock, CM Punk vs. Ryback for the WWE championship, and so much more.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions:
- I'll expand on this in another post but when CM Punk is allowed to speak freely and openly about issues he's passionate about, he's easily the best promo guy on the WWE roster and that's even if you include The Rock on that roster. I thought Punk got the better of the exchanges last night because he made legitimately strong points from a position of power while Rock came across like an over-matched adolescent who uses insults to mask his inability to keep up with intellectual superiors. Yeah, he was always the guy who spouts silly catchphrases and it's fine that he hasn't changed. But I have. I've grown and I've evolved and I've left The Rock behind.
- One thing Rock vs. Punk is doing right now, though, and the feeling has already nearly fully invaded, is completely erasing John Cena from memory. Raw started with a long segment featuring Cena doing his absolute best to get me to change the channel with his ridiculous wiener jokes and over the top cartoon bullshit. Sticking it out paid off in spades by the time the night was over, though.
- Hell, sticking it out for the match between Cena and Dolph Ziggler was worth it. That was a pay-per-view quality match given away for free. My colleague Jesse Holland brought up how it seemed silly to have bought it in the main event of a PPV only to have it given away for free on Raw but I felt like it was a tone setter. This was the first Raw match of the new year and the workrate was phenomenal. Didn't like the finish but can't complain one bit about the work in the match itself. Great stuff.
- Big E Langston on the mic? No, thanks.
- Least favorite finish to a match could very well be a heel simply grabbing their title and walking out like Eve did against Kaitlyn. It completely kills the credibility of a contest. I know, I know, it's WWE and it's pro wrestling and don't worry about it and all that but this is the kind of finish you can't have if you want anyone to ever care about a match between two wrestlers. Because if the champ can just grab their belt, leave, keep the title, and face no repercussions, why wouldn't every champion do that? It's nonsense, and it's lazy booking.
- Perhaps it was just that the two main segments were given plenty of time to flesh out but this show felt light on talent, didn't it? Like the usual number of jobbers and unimportant superstars weren't around to fluff up the show. I guess 3MB still got their time in, even announcing their entry into the Royal Rumble. I don't know about you but I'm going to be thrilled when Heath Slater's theme hits the loudspeakers in Phoenix. He's my new favorite to win.
- Sheamus dubbing the group 3MBiebers? Yeah, that was pretty good. Props where they're due.
- What's the point of teasing a match between Wade Barrett -- who they couldn't even bother to give a proper entrance to, despite the fact that he's the Intercontinental champion -- and Ricky Steamboat, who damn near died the last time he got really physical in WWE? That's the state of the mid-card? It might be time to reassess the situation.
- I will never tire of seeing Antonio Cesaro hit the Neutralizer on Great Khali. It looks impressive every damn time he does it. Every single time. I'm growing to like Cesaro more and more as he works his way through the roster. I would love to see him battling Mark Henry in a 10-minute PPV match.
- Punk vs. Ryback was far more fun than it had any business being. Actually, how lucky were we that Punk got hurt? It gave us that incredible six-man tag with The Shield at TLC and we still got this match anyway. Both were amazing. Punk being willing to sell out his body for a few of those spots, like the sideways drop on the ladder that looked like it damn near broke his back, leaves no doubt that he's one of the best.
- Ryback went from undefeated, unstoppable monster to a guy who hasn't won a match against a quality opponent since Stan Stansky or Benny Camer. Still, WWE accomplished one thing with him that cannot be overlooked: he's a legitimate main eventer now. He may not be as over as he once was but he's established now. That's a plus that shouldn't be discounted.
- Kofi Kingston seems like a good guy. Probably cool to hang out with, super easy going and gets along well. But watching Big Show knock him out with the WMD was satisfying. It just was.
- Daniel Bryan is still really entertaining. So is Kane. So are Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes. There isn't much to say on that front that hasn't been said time and again, so I'll just say they continue to do great work in less than desirable positions.
This was a really good show. Two amazing matches, an awesome feat of strength, entertaining mid-card tag team acts, the return of one of the best ever, and a classic CM Punk promo.
In the three hour era, we're not going to get much better than this.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on the show. Did you dig it like I did? Or were you unhappy with how it all went down? You know where to let us know about it.