With just a few weeks to go before the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, tonight's live edition of Monday Night Raw is shaping up to be an exciting one.
Below is a quick preview of what is set to happen on WWE Monday Night Raw:
- WWE Champion CM Punk will square off against Ryback for the title in a tables, ladders, and chairs match.
- The Rock is set to make an appearance on Monday Night Raw, as the legendary wrestler is set to challenge whoever will be the WWE Champion will be at the Royal Rumble.
- With John Cena, Sheamus and Randy Orton already in the Royal Rumble contest, will any other wrestlers be announced as participants on Monday Night Raw?
My quick take on what to expect on WWE Monday Night Raw:
Tonight on Monday Night Raw, look for the WWE to begin heavily hyping its Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
The CM Punk and Ryback tables, ladders, and chairs match for the WWE Championship should be a entertaining and intense one to watch. However, don't expect the company to made such a sudden title change. With The Rock making a return on WWE television for the first time since the 1,000 edition of Monday Night Raw last year, WWE must have Punk remain the champion. Switching the title over to Ryback would be a poor decision on the part of the WWE.
If Punk indeeds retain the belt on Raw tonight, WWE has an opportunity to build up one of the best storylines in wrestling to kick start with its product in the new year. The Rock and Punk feud is a perfect way to get people excited about where the WWE will go next with its WrestleMania season approaching. Tonight's Monday Night Raw is crucial to the storyline's success by getting off to a fast start.
Another aspect of the show people should expect is WWE adding participants to its Royal Rumble match. With past champions already set to compete including Cena, Sheamus and Orton, WWE may want to take a chance on having wrestlers make unpredictable entries on tonight's show. This kind of battle royal should include surprises and the first Monday Night Raw of 2013 would be a good place to start.
Dolph Ziggler, who was embarrassed by Cena last week during his New Years Eve segment with A.J. Lee, may takes matters into his own hands on tonight's Monday Night Raw by returning the former WWE Champion. It should be interesting to see what potential plans the WWE has for creating a feud between Cena and Ziggler. Perhaps more is to come on Monday Night Raw.
WWE Monday Night Raw live show coverage and thoughts:
WWE Monday Night Raw, live from Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, begins with a video package recap of the latest events.
Cena comes out first to the ring to open Monday Night Raw. Cena welcomes everyone in attendance to the show and begins to hype The Rock's return to the WWE. As Cena was speaking, Ziggler arrives with Lee and Big E Langston. Ziggler announces that he will officially enter as a participant in the Royal Rumble and his goal is not to let Cena win. Cena demands Ziggler to come to the ring to fight in a match.
However, Langston takes control of the microphone and tells Cena there will indeed be a match. WWE announcer Michael Cole hypes Cena against Ziggler to kick off the show as Raw goes to a commercial break.
Match No. 1: John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler.
Your winner via pin fall: John Cena. This was an extremely impressive match that grew more intense as it went along. Very good start to Raw in 2013.
Match Rating: 4/5.
Match No. 2: Eve vs. Kaitlyn for the Divas Championship.
Your winner via count out: Kaitlyn. Despite the count out victory, Eve retained the Divas championship. Good to see the WWE giving the Divas division more television time on Raw. Although the match certainly did not have the energy as the previous one, WWE needs to give the Divas division a strong start and accomplished that on this edition of Raw.
Match Rating: 3/5.
In a backstage segment, Randy Orton selected to square off against Heath Slater in a match on Raw tonight. Kane and Daniel Bryan came out to the ring for their tag team match before Raw went on a commercial break.
Match No. 3: Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes.
Your winner via pin fall: Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes. During the match, Kane had a noticeable botch after failing twice to get on the top turnbuckle. Other than that, this match was pretty solid. So far, WWE is off to a strong 2013 start.
Match Rating: 3.5/5.
Match No. 4: Randy Orton vs. Heath Slater.
Your winner via pin fall: Randy Orton. A pretty decent match that saw Orton get off to a good start on his quest to the Royal Rumble. After the match, Orton would then proceed to give a RKO to Jinder Mihal and Drew McIntyre.
Match Rating: 3/5.
Match No. 5: Wade Barrett vs. Santino Marella.
Your winner via pin fall: Wade Barrett. Basic filler match viewers have seen since Raw switched to three hours.
Match Rating: 2/5.
Match No. 6: The Great Khali vs. Antonio Cesaro.
Your winner via pin fall: Antonio Cesaro. Another filler match to move time along but this time, it was a bit more impressive with Cesaro's ability in the ring.
Match Rating: 2.5/5.
Match No. 7: Sheamus vs. Jinder Mihal.
Your winner via pin fall: Sheamus. Sheamus was completely dominate for majority of this match. It was not a basic filler match but the members of 3MB just looked extremely weak against Sheamus.
Match No. 8: CM Punk vs. Ryback in a tables, ladders and chairs match for the WWE Championship.
Your winner: CM Punk. During the match, members of The Shield came out to the ring and attacked Ryback, allowing Punk to climb the ladder to recapture the WWE Championship. A fantastic, main event match with plenty of action both inside and outside the ring. Very enjoyable match to watch.
Match Rating: 5/5.
Match No. 9: Kofi Kingston vs. the Big Show.
Your winner via pin fall: the Big Show. That match lasted a few seconds, as the Big Show knocked out Kingston with one punch.
Match Rating: 0.5/5.
After a commercial break, Punk comes out to the ring rather than The Rock. Punk said it was the right moment to express something personal. Punk says he created his own personality and began to express why popular wrestlers such as Cena get the title shots over talented people like himself. The WWE Champion begins to talk about himself, pointing out his success he has experienced. Punk tells the live audience they do not matter as Raw cuts to a commercial break.
Once Raw returns, Punk continues to talk about how he is simply a winner and everyone else is a loser. However, The Rock interrupts Punk to a massive ovation and walks to the ring. In the ring, The Rock tells Punk that in 20 days, he will capture the WWE Championship. He continues to inform Punk by telling the WWE Champion that the wrestling fans rejected him.
Punk fired back, telling The Rock that the wrestling fans get no chance to win. However, The Rock quickly takes backs control of the microphone, telling Punk why he is back in the WWE. The Rock states he is back in the WWE to take away the belt from Punk. He tells Punk to never discard the people and that the WWE Champion does not matter.
Punk lays down the championship belt in front of The Rock and tells the WWE legend he will have no chance to defeat him for the title. After, The Rock delivers a Rock Bottom on Punk to close out Raw.