WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Jan. 21, 2013) from San Jose, California featuring the go home show to the Royal Rumble pay-per-view (PPV) this coming Sunday night in Phoenix.
We're supposed to be really excited about that, right?
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions:
- We hoped to get something great between CM Punk and The Rock headed into their match but both guys cut promos that fell a little flat with me. Rock seemed a tad toned down -- or maybe I'm just getting used to him more -- and Punk, while serious and on subject, simply didn't connect with me. He repeated a few points and failed to deliver on anything truly memorable. Perhaps that's simply a product of increased expectations but that comes with the territory.
- I did like The Shield attacking Rock, if only because it made them feel at least a little fresh again. He's the biggest target they could possibly put in their crosshairs and this firmly establishes that they're in Punk's corner and have been doing his bidding all along. To think otherwise would be simply working a swerve where one shouldn't exist. They're in cahoots and that's all there is to it.
- The attack by the group got me thinking of a way to fantasy book this thing to get to the Elimination Chamber. Here's what went through my head: Vince McMahon established that The Shield cannot help Punk retain his WWE championship at Royal Rumble or he would be stripped of the title. So instead of those three making the assist, bring in Brad Maddox, who pledged his allegiance to Paul Heyman on Raw last night. He makes the assist and Punk retains. The Rock fails to make good on his promise and to add insult to injury, The Shield appears to lay waste to Rock completely to close the PPV. This leads to Raw the next night where Rock apologizes for failing to live up to his promise for now, but vows that he will win the belt no matter how many men he has to go through. At this point, Vickie Guerrero can make her presence felt, so she can point and laugh at The Rock just weeks after he was pointing and laughing at her with that ridiculous song. Vickie, feeling vindictive, books him in an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE championship against CM Punk, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Brad Maddox. Rock would, of course, overcome the immense odds with every fan behind him just waiting for him to get his revenge and win the title like he promised. Maybe I should have saved all this for a "Crazy Thought of the Day" post. Whatever, there it is, and it's not going to happen but it was fun to fantasy book.
- I guess I'll be that guy: How the fuck did one of those cops holding The Rock out of the show end up with a ticket that got him an entrance complete with theme and everything? Where were the cop's wife and kid during this? This was one of those silly little plot holes that Vince McMahon cares so little about.
- I did like Paul Heyman's interactions with Vickie. And Vince, for that matter.
- I'm trying to confirm if John Cena had a stroke during his promo last night. What was that? He just started randomly saying things and talking about Sunday and I think he even brought up Call of Duty and did he give his gamer tag out? What in the fuck does any of that have to do with the Rumble? Well, the Rumble is on Sunday and he's going to win. This man literally wasted like five minutes to say something he could have said within 10 seconds.
- "Beat the Clock" is always a fun gimmick and while it's difficult to justify its use, it made sense enough here. Three matches between six guys in the Rumble match with the winner getting to choose the number he enters. Except they went with the swerve after Dolph Ziggler won and revealed he would only get to choose between numbers one and two. This sets up nicely for Dolph to be the Iron Man in the match but felt cheap and made the "Beat the Clock" gimmick pointless. It's not okay to make your viewers feel like they've wasted time watching your program because you wanted to swerve them.
- Remember when we all said Ric Flair coming back would be cool if he did so to give a young guy a rub to help get him over? Did anyone who thought that believe he would do just that but it would be for The Miz of all people? It's physically painful to watch him use the figure four leglock.
- Daniel Bryan and Kane were overshadowed by Dr. Shelby again last night. That guy is over more than half the mid-card, and maybe more. I thought the segment ran a bit long and was a tad uncomfortable in its awkwardness but I still find these two generally entertaining.
- If I did power rankings like ESPN, Big Show would be number two and maybe even number one. The guy is an amazing performer who blows away almost the entire roster. I'm not even sure how this happened but I consistently enjoy when he's on my television. Also want to give props to Zack Ryder for absolutely dying after getting hit with the WMD.
- Tensai is a full blown jobber now. He beat John Cena in a Raw main event at one point, folks. That really happened. It was almost clean, too.
- You know what was refreshing? Seeing Alberto Del Rio win a match and then act like a straight, cut-and-dry babyface. His interaction with the crowd was harmless fun that should be a staple of babyfaces like John Cena. I'm actually starting to get behind Del Rio. Ricardo Rodriguez, by the way, is having way too much out there.
As a stand alone show, this may not have been so bad but as a lead in to a major PPV event, the show left me wanting. Punk and Rock were good but not great and the show closing Rumble preview came after Cena's bizarre rant and three hours of TV.
This could have been a lot better. What do you think, Cagesiders?