WWE Monday Night Raw comes waltzing back into our lives tonight (Jan. 30, 2012) from the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, featuring all the fallout from the Royal Rumble pay-per-view event that took place last night in St. Louis.
The big angle headed into tonight's show, other than showcasing the winner of the Rumble last night (Sheamus), is that Triple H will return in his old role as COO of the company to give John Laurinaitis a job evaluation.
The tease, of course, is that Trips never liked Laurinaitis and will be looking for any reason to fire him.
CM Punk retained his WWE championship last night in large thanks to Johnny Ace playing it down the middle, so we'll see where they tie that in to this whole review thing.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Raw tonight will be what route Chris Jericho goes after coming up short in his bid to win the Rumble last night. He promised to "end the world as we know it" and that didn't happen, so what will Jericho do tonight on Raw?
The live blog kicks off at 9 p.m. ET so remember to come back and join the discussion with all your favorite Cagesiders. It's always a fun time in this thread. Raw live blog after the jump.
WWE RAW RESULTS LIVE BLOG JAN. 30:
Broadcast is live.
The promo leading into the show centered around Triple H returning to review John Laurinaitis.
Nickelback kills all enthusiasm to get things started with their terrible music before the pyro explodes all around the stage in Kansas City. Michael Cole opens by saying "We are officially on the road to WrestleMania."
Laurinaitis is out first and he's smiling and shaking hands as he walks to the ring. Holy hell, he's doing the Jericho gag. He's actually walking around and shaking everyone's hand, including Cole and Jerry Lawler.
They announce that Sheamus won the Royal Rumble last night with a still shot. Wow.
Laurinaitis finally in the ring with a mic. Says he's looking forward to his review tonight because hey, he's done a good job. KC is giving him the "WHAT" treatment. Ace says he's made mistakes but everyone makes mistakes and he's never made the same mistake twice. Puts over Triple H as being one of the greatest superstars of all time and a "good friend."
Now he gets to his performance last night. Says he called it right down the middle. He quickly moves on to the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view and they announce, one-by-one, the participants in the match. Laurinaitis botched the announcement of the Chamber show by calling it the Elimination.
Suddenly he quickly moves on to announcing matches. Eve vs. Beth Phoenix for the Divas title. The Miz vs Kofi Kingston. Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler. Daniel Bryan vs. CM Punk. He gets ready to say something else and finally Punk interrupts him.
Ace botched so many lines that Lawler and Cole immediately started trying to cover it up by talking about how nervous he is for his job evaluation. I'm sure Vince McMahon was screaming at them to hurry and explain his botches.
Punk has a mic with him already and he's walking out singing the "Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye" song. He gets in the ring and says "Goodbye, clownshoes."
Laurinaitis says he called it down the middle last night so Punk should apologize to him. Punk immediately starts running him down and saying he's not a man of his word, he's a dork. A ham sandwich. All that good stuff. He just wanted to come out one last time and get a good look at his dim-witted self before Triple H fires him.
Jesus, now Punk is really burying him. He's talking about how Laurinaitis can never get a sentence out without stumbling over his words. "You've even figured out a way to both suck and blow at the same time."
Oh, good one, CM.
Laurinaitis finally cuts in and says he's not going to take anything personally. This is about business and he's doing a good job. He wants to put their differences aside and start anew. Extends his hand to Punk, who looks like he wants to shake it about as much as he wants a blood transfusion with an AIDS patient.
Punk asks if he's sleepy because the only reason to extend his hand would be if he wants to go to sleep. (I see what he did there).
Cue Daniel Bryan's music and he's out to the ring doing his Diego Sanchez "YES" gimmick.
"Hey everyone, it's me. The world heavyweight champion, Daniel Bryan!"
Bryan tells Punk and Laurinaitis that nobody cares about their little soap opera and puts over his win at the Rumble last night. Tells Laurinaitis he knows he's trying to make things exciting but Punk isn't exactly much of a challenge.
Punk's return? "Yeah, I'm just the best wrestler in the world."
Bryan fires back by saying he's not just a wrestler, he's a role model and a vegan who doesn't eat meat.
Punk says this begs the question: "Exactly what do you eat?"
Bryan says if he makes anymore jokes like that he'll take his pipe bomb and stick it where the sun don't shine. Punk says they've known each other for a decade and they're friends. Laurinaitis is just trying to stir up trouble. Punk wants to give the fans a great match, so let's just have the best match in the world.
Sheamus' turn to come out with both champions already in the the ring. How convenient.
"What's the story, fellas?"
I do like the word fella.
He says he wanted to remind everyone that he's the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble match. Big pop from the crowd. Reminds Bryan and Punk that they're both defending their titles at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. Oh and Laurinaitis could be shit-canned tonight. Finally, he earned the right to main event WrestleMania.
No, you didn't. You're about fifth down on the card, buddy.
He teases who he'll choose but doesn't give anything away. Tells a nice little old Irish story to Laurinaitis about Triple H kicking his ass and bails out.
Bryan and Punk shake hands in the center of the ring as Sheamus' music plays.
Up next is Orton vs. Ziggler.
To remind us what happened to Orton, they show replays of when he was taken out by Wade Barrett on Smackdown. This will also likely lead to Barrett interfering in a match here. Actually, Josh Matthews is up in a "luxury skybox" with Barrett.
Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler: Orton comes out to a big pop while Cole puts over the match between he and Barrett Friday on Smackdown. They kick it back up to Mathews so he can get comments from Barrett, who says he's going to finish the job for good.
Ziggler makes his way out after having lost five times last night, four to Punk (three unofficial) and the Rumble match. Barrett is up in the luxury box but they've got him doing commentary up there.
Meanwhile, Orton and Ziggler get going just long enough for the Zigster to do his showoff schtick. Orton's not a fan and and puts him in a headlock before taking him down with a shoulder block. Then it's up to the ropes for an eight count with punches.
Ziggler makes a comeback just in time for a break.
Ziggler working a sleeper as they come back. Cole putting over Laurinaitis for being innovative for putting this match together. Ziggler continues working Orton over, hitting a neckbreaker and doing sit ups to show off. He goes for the top rope and Orton racks him. Vickie Guerrero screams so loud I want to shove a pencil in my ear.
Orton hits a few punches before going with the superplex to a big pop from the crowd. The ensuing two-count actually felt like it could have been a match closer. The fans start chanting for the RKO.
Randall does his version of the five moves of doom. Clothesline, clothesline, scoop slam. Goes for the draping DDT but Ziggler actually counters into a sleeper. They set up a great spot in the corner with Orton rolling him up but it only gets two. Whoa, Ziggler hits the Zig-Zag.
Orton kicks out!
Ziggler gets up to attack and gets sent out for his troubles. Orton throws him into the barricade and Ziggler takes it hard. Once he gets back up, Orton hits the draping DDT and then the RKO. There's your match.
Goddamn these two can work. Hell of a match. Better than any match on last night's pay-per-view. Awesome.
They tease a big announcement for the WWE Hall of Fame. I'm assuming it's Mike Tyson, which was revealed earlier today online but I suppose it could be Yokozuna. We shall see.
They're showing still shots of the Rumble last night while playing Kane's theme song to show what happened. Kane giving Zack Ryder the tombstone and Eve crying while it happened. Then John Cena coming out and getting chokeslammed.
To the back for Laurinaitis shaking hands and asking how everyone is. William Regal shows up and does some great comedy schtick that I wish I could have kept up my typing with. That man needs to be on Raw far more often than he is.
Finally, it's time for some Brodus Clay.
His dancers are wearing blue leopard gear now. Clay comes out in white.
Ha. He struggled with his pants again. Tonight he gets to squash Tyler Reks.
Oh my god, he's added elbows to his ring work. Reks gets some offense in and Clay is actually down to one knee. He's doing his version of the hulk up now.
What the funk?!?!
Pinfall and that's it.
Backstage for Punk and Bryan again. Punk talks about them being friends and Punk tells him he's not a role model and he doesn't think a lot of people know what a vegan is. Bryan puts over how he doesn't like meat. Now it's his turn to put down being straight edge.
Punk really pushing strong the line that he's the best wrestler in the world. They're up in the prime slot next.
They air a promo for the upcoming YouTube channel with nine original shows in the exclusive agreement they came to last year.
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan: Punk actually gets first entrance. I can't believe we're getting this match on a free show. Punk gets solid babyface heat, Bryan doesn't get a great reaction upon his entrance but whatever, this guy is phenomenal.
Here we go.
They shake hands before they start. Headlock to set up the first spot, which is Punk hitting a shoulder block and running the ropes into a dropkick. Submission time, something nasty from Bryan. Hits a few kicks before Punk makes a comeback. Meanwhile Cole tells us that Bryan will defend his title at Elimination Chamber in his own match against five other superstars who will be announced on Smackdown.
Bryan back in control inside the ring. The crowd chants for Punk but Bryan is working his fingers while kneeing his head into the mat. Some really innovative offense from Bryan here. After long, Bryan works a headlock and Punk powers out to get a flying clothesline off the ropes.
Ensuing pin gets two. Backbreaker and another two count. Punk working some knife edge chops. Bryan misses a dropkick in the corner and the pinfall attempt from Punk after only gets two. They set up a spot with a double crossbody and lay each other out to set up a break.
They come back and Bryan is working Punk's arm with some shit that looks like it might legitimately rip Punk's arm out of socket. Punk gets him back with some hard slaps. They're both up on the top rope and Punk screams "Best in the world" in his face before hitting a hurricanrana.
It's obvious they're setting up for Jericho now, right?
They pick up the pace and Punk hits the swinging neckbreaker. High knee in the corner. Bulldog time. He's calling for the GTS while shaking his arm out. It's the little things.
Naturally, Bryan gets out of the GTS and runs out of the ring. Punk baseball slides and goes for a follow up suicide dive before Bryan hits a forearm. He climbs back in the ring and goes off the top rope with a missile dropkick.
1! 2! Kick out!
Another really good match on Raw.
Punk sitting up on his knees and Bryan kicking him in his midsection. Rollup doesn't get it, another roll up but a counter then another gets two, finally Bryan lands a big kick to the head that only gets two again.
Whew. Take a breather, fellas.
After all this, a few grateful fans chant for Daniel Bryan but they're quickly drown out by Punk chants. Bryan takes Punk to the top rope and looks for the superplex but Punk powers out and sends him back.
Macho Man Randy Savage, I hope you're somewhere better, brother. Flying elbow connects but not before Punk nearly falls off the ropes. Two count.
GTS attempt from Punk but Bryan counters with a crucifix roll up pin that gets two. They battle some more and a kick from Punk results in a both guys down.
CHRIS JERICHO IS HERE. CHRIS JERICHO IS HERE.
Y2J throws Bryan out of the ring and hits Punk with the codebreaker! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Bryan smiles after being announced the winner and goes into his Diego Sanchez schtick. Jericho finally climbs out of the ring after staring daggers into Punk.
Oh hell yes.
They introduce Mike Tyson as the next member of the 2012 WWE Hall of Fame. And really, he deserves it as a celebrity more than maybe anyone else thanks to his contribution during his short stint in 1998. His problems outside the ring notwithstanding, he's a good celebrity to put in.
R-Truth's music hits and he's coming out in a suit jacket and jeans.
Truth is on commentary for the next match-up.
Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz: Miz comes out with a microphone. He talks about Kingston getting a great deal of buzz for doing his handstand at the Rumble. It's bullshit, you see, because Miz went for 45 minutes after being the number one entrant.
They get going in the ring and Cole talks about Truth entering his third Elimination Chamber match. Truth bags on him for actually having correct match and Lawler jumps in. Truth is putting over that Miz already got got, so he's just going to move on to the Chamber match.
Then why are you out here?
Anyway, Miz is smashing Kingston on the inside of the ring. He's working him over with a sleeper now after a failed pin attempt.
My browser just crashed, so I can't give complete blow-by-blow here but Kofi made his comeback and has since been in control with his usual high octane offense. Oh shit, he hits the Trouble in Paradise and gets the clean win.
They show still shots of Kofi doing the handstand last night.
Backstage Laurinaitis is on his phone and David Otunga comes into the picture. Ace is nervous and asks if Otunga has seen Triple H. He has not. Otunga says he's done everything he can to make sure Laurinaitis keeps his job and Ace gets suspicious, thinking Otunga is out for his position. Otunga says he's content where he is as legal counsel and not to worry before walking off.
The same promo they ran during Royal Rumble last night for The Rock airs now.
That was like eight minutes or so. Man. Divas up next.
Eve vs. Beth Phoenix: I'm assuming Kharma comes out to terrorize both these ladies. That or Kane messes with Eve some more. Hey, where's John Cena?
Eve comes out going crazy on Beth with the idea that she's tore up because of Zack Ryder's injuries. It doesn't matter, though, because Beth hits the Glam Slam and wins.
God, I'm so tired of these little wastes of everyone's time.
Kane's music suddenly hits as Beth leaves and Eve is still laid out in the ring. Kane asks Eve how it feels to know that her boyfriend could have been saved if Cena would have just embraced the hate. Says he'll continue to inflict as much pain as possible on Ryder until Cena embraces the hate. Says he's going to use Eve as a conduit tonight to pass his message on.
Kane shows up behind her and she's crying for help.
SAVE HER, JOHN CENA!
Sure enough, there's his music and he comes running out to brawl. They wildly attack each other all around the arena. Cena throws Kane into the steel steps on the outside and just starts beating the shit out of him. He picks up the steps and dominates Kane.
Didn't Kane just say Cena can't beat him until he embraces the hate? Does this mean that's what Cena is doing?
Every time Kane stands up, Cena hits him with the steps and knocks him down again. He goes over to the announce table and rips it apart. Lawler says he doesn't know if this is Cena embracing the hate but it's pretty damn close. He grabs a mic and pops Kane over the head with it before saying, "We're going to have a party up in here."
He takes him over to the announce table and tries the Attitude Adjustment but Kane gets out and literally runs away. Cena yells in his general direction that if he "wants some" then he can "come get some."
Laurinaitis shown walking in the back and he's up next to close the show with Triple H.
Laurinaitis again comes out with no music. If he's sticking around, he really needs something to come out to. He says he's been looking forward to this all week. "Most people may be nervous and dread this situation but I'm not because I know I've done a great job." Starts touting Raw ratings being up from the same time last year. He's wrong, but whatever.
He puts himself over by saying in his self-evaluation when he got hired he gave himself a bunch of 5s because that was the highest score he could give himself.
Triple H's music cuts him off and here he comes with a shit-eating grin, eating up the crowd popping for him and having inserted himself into this here storyline and taking the focus off CM Punk.
Laurinaitis shakes his hand as he gets in the ring and Trips continues to smile at the crowd.
"Gave yourself a lot of 5s, huh? You do realize that's a bigger number than four or three, right?"
Swing and a miss.
Trips says forget the performance assessment and all that because he's been watching him ever since Ace took his job from him. Now it's Triple H's turn to bury Laurinaitis, calling him gutless and spineless and not swift and all that.
"The Game" says Laurinaitis tried to use the role to do what he never could do when he was a competitor, which is make himself a star. Trips says he put himself into situations to the detriment of others for his personal agenda, which was to make himself a star.
Kind of like you did late last year with Punk and Nash, Trips?
He admits that he let personal decisions cloud his judgement and he had to be replaced, just like Vince McMahon. Laurinaitis has done the same and we can see where this is headed. Ace starts begging to keep his job. "I'll do anything."
Triple H starts going off on that statement. Says he wants Laurinaitis is apologize to the fans and if they accept it, he'll reconsider his position.
So Ace starts talking to the crowd and his voice is getting drown out with boos.
Trips keeps up with the comedy, saying he couldn't hear him apologize because the crowd was so loud but his lips were moving so he's pretty sure Ace was lying.
This is really starting to drag along.
Triple H says he has something that he thinks made Vince McMahon a certifiable genius. When Vince needed to see where an employee's loyalty lies he would have that person become a member of a certain club.
Oh dear god.
Laurinaitis actually gets out some chap stick and gets his lips ready. He gets down on his knees and puckers up. Triple H laughs at him and says, "You were really going to do it, weren't you, freak? You honestly think I would let you put those lips anywhere near me? I don't know where those lips have been."
Finally, Triple H says he's just out here to do what needs to be done. The Board has seen now that Trips has put his personal issues behind him and when he wants to come back and run Raw he can do so if he feels like it.
"So Johnny, at this time, it warms my heart to let you know that I wish you well in all....
Holy fuck, it's Undertaker.
Lights out, smoke all around and here he comes.
He looks up from under his hat and that hair looks fake. Is that a wig? He slowly walks down and gets to the ring. They're running over here soon.
Bring the damn lights on, I need to see his hair.
That's a wig. And a terrible one at that. He's not taking the hat off. He circles Triple H without speaking.
The music goes off and the crowd marks out. That's a terrible wig. Might be the same one Kane wears.
They stare each other down. 'Taker looks up at the WrestleMania 28 banner. Looks back at Triple H and does the throat cut.
Triple H puts his hand on Taker's shoulder in a consoling manner and just walks out of the ring. Well that was ... surprising.
They keep showing Undertaker up close and god, that's an awful wig.
He looks at his shoulder after Trips walked off and they close with a shot of Taker next to the 'Mania banner.
Fade to black.