I am the first to admit that the 2012 Royal Rumble did not live up to my expectations, especially since it was the 25th anniversary of the second biggest night in the WWE year.
If WWE felt the same way, then they certainly did an amazing job making up for it with last night's Raw. I can honestly tell you that I enjoyed every minute of Raw.
I say "minute" because the Divas match lasted a minuscule 24 seconds, but led to a great encounter between Kane and Cena. I know it is early in the year but this is the best Raw of 2012, in my opinion.
I was forced to change my title from the usual "Learned, Loved and Hated" to "Learned, Loved and Cheered" because tonight's show featured nothing I hated at all.
While I would have changed the outcome of the Daniel Bryan vs. CM Punk match, I was still thrilled to see the match go for a long time before ending with Jericho attacking both men.
The only hitch in the evening was that my DVR did not record the whole show, even though I set it for an additional ten minutes after the official end time because they always run a little over.
I was forced to watch YouTube to see the full encounter between Triple H and The Undertaker. I assume I am not the only one who missed it all, so I included the video, which contains the final few minutes of the evening.
Every match, except for the Divas match, was high quality, exciting and featured some of WWE's brightest talents shining like they were on the grandest stage of them all.
I truly enjoyed writing this recap as it is always more enjoyable to report on a show I liked. These weekly recaps I do are made up of equal parts humor, observations, recap, reactions, speculations, questions, answers and anything else that I think of during the show.
I try to have fun with these, so I hope you have fun reading this week's 144 things we learned, loved and cheered.
1. The show begins with a smiling Johnny Ace coming to the ring and acting like the crowd likes him
2. Some fans actually do seem to like him, as he got a few high fives from fans
3. As he starts talking, the crowd boos heavily
4. He thinks his review with Triple H will go well since he is doing a good job
5. I hope JL gets to stay as GM because he has been getting better week after week
6. Oops, JL calls the Elimination Chamber the Elimination PPV
7. Not a big mistake but you know Vince is freaking out yelling, "It's Elimination CHAMBER you idiot!"
8. The Chamber match for Raw will be among Punk, Ziggler, Kofi, Miz, Truth and Y2J
9. This will be an awesome chamber match
10. Not sure why he seems to be making some flubs tonight, but he just said Orton is returning to Raw in over a month
11. I think he meant has not been on Raw in over a month, but we all make mitsakes
12. Punk comes out and starts singing "Nana nana hey hey hey goodbye" and the crowd starts joining in
13. Lawler, Justin Roberts and the timekeeper all get a chance to sing as well
14. Am I the only one who thinks that JL might be able to beat the crap out of Punk in a real fight?
15. This is kind of strange because this segment makes Punk look like a bully a little bit
16. I am curious to know how these guys get on backstage, seems like they would have to be kind of amicable to be able to talk this way in kayfabe
17. Laurinaitis is offering a fresh start to Punk and he extends his hand
18. Interesting, here comes Daniel Bryan
19. I crack up every time he comes out screaming "World Heavyweight Champion" at the top of his lungs, I don't know why
20. He is getting some good heat tonight
21. Bryan brags about the match he won last night, which I think had a botched ending
22. He and Punk start having a little back and forth which I really hope leads to a match
23. Bryan should try and take the "World's greatest wrestler" title Punk gave himself since Punk is challenging him
24. Nice, the Rumble winner Sheamus comes out to a nice pop
25. Sheamus kind of teases us as to who he will pick to face at WrestleMania
26. HAHA, line of the night from Sheamus to JL: "May Triple H kick your arse so hard you're throwing up your your lacepcovered undies"
27. Sheamus looks so overjoyed that he is the Rumble winner and WM main-eventer, and he should be
28. Sheamus leaves and we go to commercial, so are we going to see Bryan vs. Punk or not? Nothing was ever decided after Sheamus interrupted
29. They replay Orton's injury from last month as we come back
30. Barrett is watching from a luxury skybox as Orton comes out for his match
31. The crowd seems a little less excited to see Orton that I would have expected, he gets a good pop but nothing like what he got at The Rumble on Sunday when he came out
32. Barrett vows to finish what he started when he faces Orton on Friday
33. Someone has been altering John Morrison's old jackets for Ziggler by the looks of that furry leather monstrosity
34. Ziggler gets the early advantage and does his Flair-like strut to a nice "WOO" from the crowd
35. WOW, Ziggler took a shoulder block from Orton and sold it like he was just hit with a Mack truck
36. When we come back from commercial Orton tries his powerslam move when someone is running at him and Ziggler moves and hits a great dropkick, beautiful exchange
37. I've gotta ask, why do the announcers always stare at those little TVs and not at the action ten feet in front of them? It's weird when the camera pans to them and they are looking down
38. Orton hits a big superplex for a close 2 count, I like that Orton is starting to mix it up a little bit more with his moves the last few months
39. Ziggler breaks out of the rope-hung DDT and applies the sleeper but Orton throws him off
40. Orton kicks out of the famouser after he did a really nice rollup for a two count of his own
41. This match is better than most of the Rumble matches last night, maybe all of them
42. Orton wins with a rope hung DDT and RKO for the pin
43. Awesome match for the first bout of a Raw show, or any show for that matter
44. I guess we will see Daniel Bryan vs. Punk after all, I just marked out a little bit
45. We get a run down of Kane vs. Cena before we go backstage to see JL trying to glad-hand some employees
46. He confuses Regal's twin daughters for a son and says hi to Hawkins, he looks confident he will be keeping his job
47. I smell a conspiracy, and it smells like a frozen pizza
48. Never mind, its just my dinner, I'm sure JL is on the level
49. Fantastic, Clay is on his way out next
50. Naomi and Cameron changed it up and went with a couple of blue leopard print outfits
51. I have to admit that it is more enjoyable when Cole and King both like the same person in the match and aren't fighting
52. Tyler Reks is the next person who gets to job to Clay
53. Has Reks ever had a one on one match on Raw? I thought he was only ever on SmackDown and ECW a few times before being relegated to Superstars
54. I still say he needs to start having longer matches, but if having short matches is the price we pay for the dancers then I am willing to deal with it a bit longer
55. Punk and Bryan are backstage talking about knowing each other for a long time
56. Does Punk think we are all idiots, who doesn't know what vegan is these days?
57. This vegan vs. straight edge match may just be the match of the year if WWE doesn't decide to screw it up with a stupid run in or double count out decision
58. Seriously, how could he think we don't know what vegans are? Just pisses me off when people say things like "I don't think a lot of people know..."
59. (Deep breath) OK, I'm over it now
60. After the commercial we get Punk's entrance, I am surprised they put the match in the first hour given we already had a big match in Orton vs Ziggler to start the action
61. Has anyone else noticed that more and more wrestlers are wearing ring jackets these days? Ziggler, Bryan, Barrett and Rhodes always do and Miz does once in a while
62. I might actually have to go buy WWE magazine just to read the piece on how a Bret Hart vs. Daniel Bryan "I Quit" match would go down
63. Punk gets some early offense in before Bryan gets him with a drop kick and a double knee stomp
64. Pretty good back and forth in the early going but I expect the pace to quicken soon
65. Cole is starting to turn into a Daniel Bryan fan, he lists some reasons he likes him
66. Punk almost gets counted out, for a second I was worried WWE would screw this up
67. Did anyone actually think we would ever see Punk vs. Bryan where both men were top champions in WWE? If you had said this would happen even six months ago I would have said it was never going to happen
68. It's great that WWE is giving us this match for free on TV instead of on a PPV
69. Mid air collision takes both men out
70. Bryan almost wins with a submission-pin combo after we come back from commercial
71. Punk screams "Best in the world!" in Bryan's face before he hits a top rope frankensteiner, hilarious
72. Bryan hits a forearm into Punk's head during an attempted suicide dive by Punk
73. Missile dropkick from Bryan leads to another near fall in this great match
74. Lots of reversals and near falls in quick succession before Bryan hits a huge roundhouse kick to Punk's head for a two count
75. Punk almost goes for the flying elbow, then stops to point to the sky in honor of Randy Savage before leaping and hitting the move for another near fall
76. No NO NO! They ruined an awesome match with a run in by Jericho, who takes out both men
77. In the words of every WCW fan who saw a show in the Russo years, "Who booked this crap"
78. I guess Bryan wins because Jericho attacked him first, doesn't matter, still a crap decision by management
79. I suppose it was still a cool match that went for a good amount of time
80. WWE is going to announce Mike Tyson's induction into the Hall of Fame, probably because it leaked early
81. Some people may criticize this decision but he deserves it more than Drew Carey and most of the other celebrity inductees we have seen, he did after all help Stone Cold beat HBK in a classic match
82. You at least have to admit that it's a better decision than that face tattoo Tyson has
83. Truth comes out wearing nicer clothes than usual as we go to commercial
84. He is commentary for the Kofi vs. Miz match
85. WWE plugs their new YouTube shows which may indicate we could be waiting a long time before the WWE network comes out
86. Miz is criticizing the awesome save Kofi had with a handstand during the Rumble match
87. Someone cut up one of Jim Carrey's Riddler costumes for Kofi's attire tonight
88. I would hate to be the two guys who had to follow Punk and Bryan in that ring, maybe that match should have ended the show
89. Truth is being pretty funny as Cole asks him about Little Jimmy
90. Kofi and Miz look like they are really trying to keep up tonight's high quality matches, they are doing better than I expected
91. Cole wants to talk to Little Jimmy, Truth asks if Cole needs glasses because Little Jimmy is right there
92. Kofi wins with Trouble in Paradise
93. Otunga comes in and tells JL he trying to influence the decision tonight and JL accuses him of wanting his job
94. I came up with a new nickname for Otunga today: The Argyle Assassin, what do you think?
95. The Rock uses a netbook? I would have thought he would have bought something better
96. I am only 28 and I grew up with a fair amount of hip-hop/urban music and I just don't get Flo Rida's appeal, but my favorite musician is John Fogerty, so I guess my opinion is meaningless in this situation
97. Oh by the way, they used a song by Flo Rida in the Rock's video package for anyone who may have thought I just totally went off topic with that last one
98. Eve is getting a Divas title match next
99. Please God, let Kharma come out and just demolish them both before we have a Divas match ruin the streak of good matches tonight
100. I was so happy when she came out during the Royal Rumble and became the third woman to ever compete in the Rumble match
101. We get a preview of WWE Inbox on the YouTube channel
102. You've got mail? Seriously Bryan? If you want Meg Ryan, then AJ is not your kind of girl
103. Beth wins in 24 seconds, what a joke of a title match
104. Kane's music hits and we see him taunting Eve on the titantron
105. He says Cena needs to embrace the hate if he wants to have a chance to beat The Rock
106. Zack Ryder will be punished until Cena gets that message and he is going to use Eve as a conduit
107. Eve thinks he is coming down the ramp but she turns around and he is behind her
108. Cena runs in and starts brawling with Kane to save Eve
109. Cena ends up using the steps to hit Kane and he is smiling as he hits him a second time
110. Awesome intensity from Cena as he hits a third time with the stairs
111. He is clearing off the announcers table
112. He hits Kane with a mic and then yells "We gonna have a party up in here!"
113. Cena drags Kane over to the table but Kane breaks away before Cena can hit the AA
114. Cena was good in this segment and he really made it work when he was smiling and laughing as he was beating down Kane
115. He is getting a better reaction tonight than he did at The Rumble
116. I guess if we had to suffer through 24 seconds of Divas wrestling to get this segment then it was worth it
117. John Laurinaitis is announced by Justin Roberts and he comes out to the ring for his official review from Trips
118. He talks about how he is not nervous about possibly losing his job
119. I think he just outright lied when he said Raw ratings have improved since last year
120. Triple H's music cuts him off and the crowd pops as he comes out in a suit with a smile on his face
121. It's good to see Trips again, I think he could add a lot as a weekly character who was not the main attraction all the time and did not necessarily wrestle often
122. Triple H runs down all the reasons he thinks Laurinaitis is not doing a good job
123. Funkman says he will do anything to keep his job
124. Triple H seems interested and gives him a chance to apologize to the crowd to possibly keep his job
125. The crowd is deafening as he tries to say he is sorry, this is Vickie Guerrero circa 2010 level heat
126. Hunter asks the crowd if they think it was a good apology and they say no
127. Triple H suggests putting JL in a gauntlet match to keep his job but decides against it
128. What if he had to regrow his mullet and moustache to keep his job?
129. Triple H brings up Vince McMahon's Kiss-my-ass club as a possibility and the crowd loves it
130. Amazing, an "On your knees" chant breaks out and you can hear Cole and Lawler laughing their asses off in the background
131. JL actually gets on his knees and Triple H says he wouldn't let his lips anywhere near him
132. Triple H is being pretty funny tonight
133. Triple H is about to fire Laurinaitis when The gong hits and the crowd goes nuts as The Undertaker's music hits
134. He comes out to a huge ovation and looks at Triple H in the ring
135. It looks like Taker used conditioner for the first time in 20 years while he was out of action
136. He comes down to the ring as Triple H is firmly standing in the center of the ring staring him down
137. Wait, where did Funkman run off to
138. Does this mean we get Taker vs Triple H III at Mania?
139. Oh Come on, I set my DVR to record an extra 10 minutes just in case and it still cuts off the end of the show because it runs over. Now I have to go to YouTube to finish this
140. OK, go it
141. Taker looks up to the WrestleMania 28 sign and then does the cut throat sign to Triple H signalling a challenge
142. Hunter just sort of pats Taker on the back and walks out of the ring, pausing only for a second on the ramp before going to the back
143. The show ends with Taker standing in the ring with the crowd chanting his name
144. If WWE felt they dropped the ball at the Rumble, I think they made up for it tonight with this amazing show
Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts and additions to the list below.
On a personal note I want to say something to the readers of my weekly recaps. Every week I write these long, ridiculous lists for Raw, PPV events, and more recently SmackDown, and every week you guys give me extremely positive responses.
I wish I had time to respond to every comment to let you know how much your support means, but with writing these late Monday and getting right into new things on Tuesday I don't always have the time, but trust me when I say that I read them all. The Bleacher Report Team Stream app makes it easy to see them when they are posted through the day.
I never would have made this a weekly edition had the community here not given me such positive feedback as motivation. The fact that some people have told me they liked my recaps better than the actual shows is so shocking to me and means more than I can say.
It was because of the responses I get on these articles specifically that I asked the site if I could post something on their Blog section. The people at Bleacher Report have always been very supportive of these lists, me and my work in general which is why I was glad they allowed me to do it.
I wanted to write out a longer response than I would be able to give each individual person which showed you guys how much the support of the community here has meant to me.
It was my way of saying thank you to everyone who has pushed me to become better. Please take a few minutes and read my post on the blog because I want to convey my appreciation to everyone, even those who don't comment, and the people who don't like the lists who make me want to do them better so you will.
I promise that as long as you guys are entertained by these articles I will continue to write them. Thanks again.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Doctor