Raw opens with Vickie Guerrero. She talks about not always making the most popular decisions as managing supervisor. Paul Heyman talks about the Rock and his behavior last week. Vickie shows us the replay of Rock making fun of Heyman. Heyman shows us the replay of Rock making fun of Vickie. Vickie says she has banned the Rock from entering the arena tonight. Rock is shown trying to come into the building with security stopping him. The Rock says no one will stop him from getting to the ring tonight. Security says they will arrest the Rock if he tries to force his way in. The Rock says they need to arrest Punk and Heyman as he makes fun of them and Vickie. Rock says he will be in the arena tonight. Vickie says he will singing jailhouse rock tonight if he makes it into the arena, if you smell what the “Vick” is cooking.
^The WWE Title match is going to be huge this Sunday, and this was a solid way to start the show. The carryover from the end of last week started this show and now we know the Rock will get into the place one way or another and make an appearance much later in the show. Everything worked smoothly in this one. Anyone else think Paul Heyman could potentially take over Raw in place of Vickie?
Cole and Lawler announce a beat the clock challenge for tonight where the winner can pick their spot of entry in this year’s Royal Rumble match. Randy Orton vs Antonio Cesaro is up next in the first BTC Challenge match.
Cole tells us that John Cena will address the WWE Universe tonight about the Royal Rumble match.
Randy Orton defeats Antonio Cesaro with the RKO at 11:36.
^Just like the last two matches between Cesaro and Orton, delivered a strong performance. Cesaro is on his way to big things and his performances as of late continue to show us that. Orton looks as good as ever in the ring, by the way. I expect Orton’s rumored World Title rivalry with Sheamus to be exceptional and I’m optimistic about the possibilities of each character’s development as we move toward WM(Sheamus becoming more relatable to the audience and Orton tipping back to his old heel ways). .
A Mick Foley video package is aired for his induction into the Hall of Fame(I expected this last week).
A Shield video is shown. They reflect on their attacks on Ryback, Randy Orton, and Sheamus. Reigns says at the very end that they are just getting started.
^I love these videos. I love the concept. I love the talent. I don’t particularly care for the arrogance in Roman Reign’s voice, and that’s probably because he reminds me of Kevin Nash with his look and sound; I’m hoping he has much more talent in the ring, however. I’m honestly excited to see all three of these guys wrestle some more matches.
Michael Cole announces that Big Show will face Alberto Del Rio at the Royal Rumble in another last man standing match.
Big Show squashes Zack Ryder with a KO punch as Brad Maddox joins the announce table with no invitation.
^Show’s KO punch is the big emphasis here, but I don’t necessarily think it means Show is going to dominate and get his title back. As for Zack Ryder, this is seemingly a result of WWE politics and a possible punishment for Ryder complaining so much about his spot in WWE. Mostly this was a pointless squash, but it helps put over Show as a threat to win back the World Title on Sunday.
Brad Maddox interrupts Paul Heyman backstage while he’s on the phone. Heyman admires his determination and poses with him for a photo before going back to his phone call.
^I wonder what sort of plans Heyman has in mind for Maddox; I don’t expect these two to become best friends. I could see Brad Maddox attacking somebody(Zack Ryder maybe?) and stealing their spot into the Royal Rumble match this Sunday. It would be a nice way to set up a feud for Maddox and get him on the main roster.
Ryback defeats Heath Slater with shell shocked. He is able to hold off interference from McIntyre and Mahal during the match and cuts a promo after the match about winning the Royal Rumble.
^I don’t see Ryback winning the Rumble, and I think it will be the Shield who costs him. Like I said last week, seeing this storyline play out and eventually seeing each member of the Shield in one on one matches with Ryback will be worth the wait. This is one storyline that I feel WWE is planning very well.
The Rock is shown trying to get the officers to let him in the building, and one of them still has his ticket into the show. Vickie comes into the segment and tells him that Punk is about to address the audience. She tells Rock she will let him in the arena if he apologizes to her. She storms off when he tells her she looks horrible and that he will get into the arena on his own terms.
^Hmm, I wonder what that officer will do with that ticket? I like the Rock, and I liked the Rock concert as well as his promo work with Team Rhodes Scholars. What I don’t like is how the Rock then uses the same phrases over and over until they quickly become lame.
It’s announced that next Monday’s Raw will be in Las Vegas and will have the Raw Roulette theme.
CM Punk comes out and talks about defeating the Rock at the Royal Rumble. He says being champion is the only thing that matters.
^This was a relatively short promo for Punk, but it’s good that they made sure the WWE Champion says his piece before a major match at a pay per view event. I don’t believe Punk can top the year that he had in 2012 ever again in terms of quality matches, but I would be glad to be proven wrong on this one.
Dolph Ziggler defeats the Miz after a distraction by Big E. Ziggler is able to beat the clock time set earlier in the night by Randy Orton.
^This was some good wrestling between Miz and Ziggler, and it’s nice to see that their chemistry wasn’t just a one hit wonder on that episode of Main Event. Ziggler advancing here doesn’t surprise me, and it would surprise me even less if he’s involved in the final beat the clock challenge match in an attempt to secure a win for the challenge.
Dr. Shelby hosts anger management graduation with Team Hell No in the ring. Kane and Dbry start arguing about who should be valedictorian of the group. Dr. Shelby suggests that they hug it out and suggests EVERYONE hug it out. Kane and Dbry get Lawler and Cole to hug, and then they get everyone to hug before embracing with Dr. Shelby to close the segment.
^This was typical Kane/Dbry fun, but it dragged just a tad too long for my liking. Now that Kane and Dbry have succeeded as a tag team and passed through anger management, I expect the problems to start during the Royal Rumble match and possibly set up a one on one contest between the duo at WrestleMania. Hopefully this is the last we’ve seen of Dr. “over-acting” Shelby.
Kaitlyn defeats Alicia Fox using the spear.
^This was quick, and I’m a bit surprised at how quick when you consider Alicia’s obvious envy of the Divas Title on Smackdown. Now I’m curious with whom Kaitlyn’s next legit rivalry will be with.
Paul Heyman and CM Punk are shown walking backstage. Heyman says he got Punk a skybox and has a “Paul-bomb” of his own that he would like to deliver just for Punk.
^Keeping Rock and Punk separated before their Rumble match is smart, and the skybox is a good way to make sure that will happen. Heyman is great on the mic and always has been, but I’m skeptical as to whether or not he can deliver a pipebomb of the same caliber that CM Punk has done in the past.
Heyman starts to deliver his promo, but is interrupted by the Rock(who just happens to have the ticket shown to him by the police officer earlier). Rock sends Heyman out of the ring and cuts a promo on Punk about having a dream that the WWE Universe will be free of Punk as their champion.The lights go out and Rock is attacked by the Shield. Punk cuts a promo saying that the great one won’t be great enough on Sunday.
^This was good, and the intensity is definitely present. I may not love the Rock being back for the reasons that I’ve repeatedly shared(taking away time for the “regular” talent), but the buildup for this match has been solid and these two will most likely give us a terrific match on Sunday.
Sheamus and Wade Barrett fail to beat the clock and wrestle to a no-finish after AJ Lee jumps in the ring to stop Sheamus from landing a brogue kick on Barrett. Dolph Ziggler celebrates with AJ and Big E at the top of the ramp while Sheamus furiously looks on.
^Anytime Barrett and Sheamus are in the ring together, good things happen. I can honestly say that I expect these two to have a good rivalry over the World Title down the road, but right now the pool of talent vying for that gold is growing and growing. Ziggler costing Sheamus here will likely result in some more matches in the coming weeks, and possibly even result in Sheamus entering the Rumble just one spot after Ziggler to cost him the match.
AJ and Dolph celebrate as they come into Vickie’s office with Big E. Ziggler talks about which number he will choose to enter the Rumble at, and Vickie informs him that the only choice he gets is between choosing the number one or number two spot. AJ and Dolph are furious as Vickie walks away laughing.
^I loved this! As much as Vickie maintains her role as the heel “managing supervisor,” she also maintains her anger towards Dolph for ditching her. I think Ziggler will benefit tremendously from entering the Rumble in the first spot and lasting a long period of time; I can’t wait to see it happen!
Heyman and Punk are shown happily walking backstage until they run into Vince McMahon. Punk and Heyman deny having anything to do with the Shield attacking the Rock. Vince tells Punk that severe consequences will occur if the Shield gets involved in the WWE Title match at the Royal Rumble(he elaborates that he will strip Punk of the WWE Championship after they argue the lack of evidence that the Shield is working for Punk). As Vince walks away, Heyman tells Punk that he warned him about Vince.
^Well, Vince botched his words there for a minute. Good segment with the boss throwing down the law(since apparently the “managing supervisor” isn’t capable of doing the same thing). I like Heyman’s character being afraid of Vince because of what’s happened in their past together; it’s a nice comic relief to Punk’s “anger” towards the “injustice.”
Alberto Del Rio defeats Tensai in a short match with a nearly botched moonsault from the middle rope. Del Rio talks about the last man standing match against Big Show and does a ten count in spanish for the audience.
^Del Rio sort of landed a bit far back on the moonsault and barely connected, but this overall was a nice dominant victory for the World Champion. I’ll reveal right now that I expect ADR to retain the gold on Sunday and I also expect this face gimmick to launch his career to new heights that you never thought you’d see.
Bob Backlund is announced as the second inductee for the WWE HOF Class of 2013.
^Backlund was the best wrestler after Bruno just before the Hogan era, and I hope people will realize what he did for the business BEFORE he came back with that ridiculous “good boy turned lunatic” gimmick from ‘93-’96. This is an induction that feels long overdue, and I’m very happy for a guy who did so much for the business when it was all about wrestling.
John Cena comes to the ring and cuts a cheesy promo with some lame jokes while talking about winning the Royal Rumble. Sheamus interrupts him to stake his own claim on winning the Rumble. The Prime Time Players, Randy Orton, Team Hell No, and the rest of the locker room all come down and pile up in the ring to brawl as the show ends.
^Cena’s jokes are awful and over the top. It hasn’t been any different for quite some time. The format for this was to end the show with everyone hyped for the Rumble. I’m expecting Smackdown to end in similar fashion. I wanted to see Cena in a match tonight, but instead we got this. I don’t think every person that came to the ring will be in the Rumble match, and that’s because there would be no room for any surprise entrants otherwise.
Let’s sum this thing up now: Three solid beat the clock matches and four squash matches(ADR,Kaitlyn, Big Show, and Ryback). The WWE Title match was hyped nicely. Team Hell No was hyped further(attempted, anyway) and Team Rhodes Scholars appeared just at the end of the show for the brawl. The primary focus here was the two World Titles and the Rumble match, and I don’t think it was all that bad. Del Rio and Show will deliver nicely with another last man standing match, and we know Rock/Punk will be something special. The Rumble match itself feels a bit predictable, but it’s going to be interesting to see all the entrants and what rivalries will form from the match itself. I’m genuinely excited for the Royal Rumble, and that means WWE, at least in my eyes, has been doing something right as of late.
I’ll be back with the Smackdown Analysis on Friday, and I’ll have the NEW writing team revealed for our Rumble predictions column on Saturday night! Until next time, you’ve been ThunderStruck!
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