We quickly recap Kane turning heel because they had no one else and failing to get the crowd to boo Cena.
See, here's what WWE doesn't understand: Fans boo Cena because they feel he is being shoved down their throats. When "the Man" tells them to boo, their natural reaction is going to be to remain silent because THEY DON'T WANT TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO.
Good to see Cena treat Kane as a legitimate threat, though, and not make stupid jokes before launching into his "now, let's get serious" promo style that he's fallen into.
We are LIVE! from Memphis, Tenn. (home of Jerry Lawler and really ugly babies)
Of course, John Cena kicks us off and promises to only wear weird underwear from now on....what? He also announces he's banned John Cena, Sr. from WWE TV because of the "This is Your Life" segment.
Cena even references the Christmas Creature, because apparently, we can't go one week without mentioning a failed Glen Jacobs gimmick. If he shows up next week with a fake Scott Hall, I'm going to quit watching wrestling.
Cena then goes into his cliche and token "you people can boo me if you want" schtick that's getting older by the minute and gets rightfully booed for it. He goes on some tangent about enjoying reactions, but thankfully, Kane interrupts and promises to make Cena embrace the hate tonight...in that very ring.
-Flat promo to open the show, especially with a World title match and the End of the World videos ending tonight.
-Speaking of which, we get another video promising that "The End Begins Tonight."
-Did yo know that being the highest-rated show on SyFy is like being the best downhill skier in Mexico?
Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes
Michael Cole immediately buries Bryan as world champion because it's not like you need him to have credibility or anything, right? Let a non-wrestling announcer get heat off of him instead...booking 101.
Speaking of which, this is world champion versus IC champ, which would have sold out MSG approximately 10,000 times if this was 1986, but since both titles are worthless, it's relegated to an Hour One Raw match instead.
They have a slugfest to start, but Cody attacks the arm and runs Bryan's shoulder into the buckle for two. Cole recaps Dustin's angle with Cody on Smackdown (since no one watches), while Bryan makes a comeback and dumps Cody to the floor.
Bryan hits a running knee from the apron to the floor, and Daniel rolls him back in, but misses whatever from the top rope. Rhodes hits a Disaster Kick for two then adds a front suplex. Cody goes back to the well once too often, though when he tries the move again, Bryan rolls him up with a small package to get the win.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
That was a pretty quick, clean job for a guy they've been building up for the past few months, but I have no idea what they are trying to do anyways, so there's no use figuring it out. Match was way too short to be worth anything. *3/4
We recap R-Truth's return and attack on the Miz last week. Do we REALLY need babyface R-Truth again?
Meanwhile, Johnny Ace meets Miz backstage and books him against Sheamus.
We flash back to the very first Royal Rumble in 1988, with Hacksaw Jim Duggan taking home the win. The event actually wasn't on PPV, as Vince McMahon screwed over Jim Crockett by booking the Rumble on free TV, while Crockett had Bunkhouse Stampede on the pay channel...young Vinnie Mac was a pain in the ass.
Cole and King recap Wade Barrett injuring Randy Orton on Smackdown (because no one watches), and Barrett comes out to brag a little bit. Santino Marella interrupts to remind everyone that he was the runner-up in last year's Rumble.
Wade Barrett vs. Santino Marella
Santino tries his split counter too early and gets kicked in the face before Barrett works him over in the corner. Wade misses a blind charge, though, and Santino preps the Cobra, but Barrett superkicks him. Marella gets introduced to the ring post, and Barrett hits the Winds of Change sideslam (weak-as-hell finishing move) for the win.
Winner: Wade Barrett
As expected, a total squash. 1/2.
Backstage, Miz insults the Bella Sluts and acts all paranoid about R-Truth. Truth lurks in the background like a curtain jerking Sting and gives a *wink wink* to the camera.
They made a Scorpion King III...with Dave Bautista? Why?
Sheamus vs. The Miz
You know, doing absolutely nothing with Sheamus is not exactly a winning formula when he's getting the best audience reaction of his career thus far.
Miz attacks before the bell with a short DDT, and he ties Sheamus in the ropes in order to swing away. Sheamus quickly breaks free, though, and beats the living hell out of Miz against the ropes. Miz decides discretion is the better part of valor and runs away through the crowd.
Unfortunately for him, R-Truth is waiting and chases him back to ringside.
Sheamus nails him with a Brogue Kick and leaves him for Truth, who smacks Miz in the head with a water bottle. You must really hate someone if you're willing to waste good bottled water to prove a point.
No match, as this was obviously just an angle, DUD.
Recap of Ziggler beating CM Punk last week...why the hell does Michael Cole insist on calling the Rocker Dropper the Zig Zag? He's seen Ziggler do the move at least 100 times...is he just a moron? Wait, don't answer that.
Meanwhile, Ziggler stands on his head backstage and promises to win the title tonight.
Still meanwhile, Zack Ryder hits on Eve, but meets up with Jack Swagger and makes a lame ER joke. Johnny Ace appears out of nowhere and books them in a six-man tag elimination match for later tonight.
STILL meanwhile, CM Punk can indeed walk down a hallway.
WWE World Title: CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler
Hmmmm, the main event in the 10:00 slot...you don't think that has anything to do with the *gasp* ratings, do you? But I thought Vince McMahon never worries about stupid things like that?
Punk goes to work early with some near falls and grabs a full nelson, but Ziggler matches him on the mat and we've got a stalemate. Backbreaker puts Dolph down for two, but he recovers and drives Punk to the corner for some strikes and gets a near fall. Dolph misses an elbowdrop, so Punk slams him and repeatedly drops legs (five of them, to be exact) and gets two off of that.
They screw up a stungun spot, causing Punk to land awkwardly on the middle rope, and Ziggler hits a neckbreaker for two. The elbowdrop hits this time for two and we go to the chinlock. Punk fights out and kicks him out to the floor before trying a suicide dive, but Ziggler catches him with a right hand. Punk gets hung up in the ropes, and Ziggler again drops him awkwardly, this time dropping the back of Punk's neck on the ring apron...ouch.
We take a commercial break so Punk can count his lucky stars that he's not dead yet.
We return with Ziggler trying a sleeper, but Punk hits a back suplex for a near fall. CM Punk keeps it going with a leg lariat, but gets caught with an elbow on a blind charge. Ziggler charges but gets hooked with a powerslam for two. He quickly recovers and they exchange roll-ups, ending with Ziggler hitting a Rocker Dropper (NOT the Zig Zag) for two.
Ziggler hits a reverse powerslam (a cool-looking move) for two. Punk goes to the corner and rips off the turnbuckle while Ziggler is occupied with the referee, allowing him to hit his running knee/bulldog combo. Punk signals for the GTS while Johnny Ace makes his way to ringside. The Dynamic Dude distracts the referee while Punk gets a submission with the Anaconda Vise.
Punk argues with Ace and Ziggler charges, smacking into Ace and allowing Punk to try the Go To Sleep. Ziggler wriggles free and shoves Punk towards the ropes where Ace low-bridges him and Punk gets counted out for the lame ending.
Winner by Count Out: Dolph Ziggler
A good TV match with a really lame ending, as they just can't resist doing the stupid "No. 1 Face vs. Evil Authority Figure" angle for the 600th time.
Note to creative team: The angel is dead, you morons. Dolph steals the title afterwards because he is a heell; match was good stuff. ***1/4
Flashback to 1995's Royal Rumble with Shawn Michaels winning after being the very first entrant...of course, he would lose to Diesel at WrestleMania.
Bella Twins vs. Eve and Kelly Kelly
To paraphrase Bobby Heenan: Did you know that the first women's match was started over who could make the best sandwich? I actually saw the Bellas at a house show in Pittsburgh this past week, and they really pushed the TV-PG rating when it came to clothing.
Kelly attacks with a stink face immediately, but Brie yanks the hair and gets the tag for twin-teaming for two. Kelly quickly hits a jawbreaker and makes the lukewarm tag to Eve so she can throw her awful kicks and get her ass-shaking moonsault. Brie distracts her, though, so Eve has to settle for another terrible kick to set up the top-rope moonsault for two, broken by Brie. She switches places with Nikki behind the referee's back and gets a roll-up for the win.
Winners: The Bellas
Wow, haven't seen that finish 482 times since the Bellas debuted. I really hate women's wrestling. -** for the awful Eve offense and the stupid finish.
Meanwhile, CM Punk storms into Johnny Ace's office and finds out Ace will be the special guest referee in Ziggler's next title match. Punk promises to beat him like a bitch if he screws him over.
So, I haven't been mentioning all "The End" videos that have been playing all night because nothing has been going on with them. This next one plays and mentions something about a "familiar force" and seems to deal with a girl of some sort. Oh, and the end of the world is here...NOW.
-After much anticipation (and a shaking screen which gives me a headache)...Chris Jericho (wearing a very ...ahem..."sparkly" jacket) makes his return to WWE. Oh please, please, please save us, Y2J.
Note from your author: It's still OK to mark out every once in awhile.
-So Jericho milks his return for like five minutes without saying a word, and all the while wearing this ****-eating grin on his face and being overly cheesy. I mean, he really acts like he's the happiest he's ever been in his entire life to be on WWE TV.
He even actually makes a point to go around the ring and shake the hand of every single fan who is sitting there, then he goes up to the ramp and points to everyone out there. The crowd starts to catch on and starts booing, so Jericho just gives them a look and heads to the back.
Well, that was...odd. You knew Jericho couldn't come back as a babyface after all the crap he's been spewing on Twitter towards pretty much every single active competitor. Hey, I marked out; Jericho's a favorite of mine and I like slow-burn angles, so I'm in favor of this.
-You know, a lot of people are going to hate that Jericho segment and say how stupid it was, but just think about it: He's been heeling on people and the WWE in general ever since he left, so there was no way he was coming back as a babyface. Plus, this leaves people wanting more and wanting an explanation, so now they have to tune in next week instead of getting instant gratification because of a video package ending.
Bottom line: Jericho as a heel is money in the bank, so I trust him with angles more than any other active guy.
Six-Man Elimination Tag Match
Big Show, Zack Ryder and John Cena vs. Mark Henry, Jack Swagger and Kane
Kane does not show, so David Otunga comes out and lets the referee know this is now a handicap match.
Cena starts with Swagger and beats him down like the mid-card joke he is, even hitting a crappy dropkick for two. The crowd starts their dueling chant stuff that WWE now suddenly loves, and that takes us to commercial break.
We return with Swagger hitting his pump splash on Cena for two, but he quickly shakes it off and gets the hot tag to Big Show, who remains to be fat, and beats down Swagger. Jack tags out to Mizark, and he has a slugfest with Show, ending when Big Slow hits a shoulderblock off the ropes.
We head to the outside where Big Show blocks a chair shot with his fist. What kind of stupid idea is that? Block a weapon with your fist? Idiot.
Mark Henry and Big Show have been disqualified.
Ryder jumps in and hits the Woo Woo Woo Kick, but tries for the Ruff Ryder too early and gets caught in the ankle lock. Ryder sucks it up and fights to make the tag to Cena, who is the latest in line to kick Jack Swagger's ass. He should just have a giant target on his big, dumb body. Cena quickly hits the Attitude Adjustment and...gets the pin? What a BS main event.
Winners: Zack Ryder and John Cena
-OK, that was a curtain-jerking match, not a freaking main event slot. This booking continues to drive me insane. *3/4
-Post-match, Kane cuts through the ring and gets rid of Ryder. He smothers Cena with his hand (what is he, 1991 Undertaker?), then drags Ryder under the ring. To his credit, Zack sells it like Kane is legitimately dragging him into Hell. Cena saves his broski at the last second, and fire explodes from the hole in the ring as we fade to black.
-Well, when they really want to get Kane over as a monster, they certainly don't skimp in the special effects budget, do they?