The first WWE Raw of 2013 opened with John Cena. He went over what to expect for the show and began to get into the Royal Rumble before he was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler, A.J. Lee and Big E. Langston.
They went back and forth on the mic with various jokes, and it resulted in Ziggler eventually announcing that he was entering the Rumble match. Cena then challenged Ziggler, and the match was accepted by Langston.
So who’s facing Cena, Ziggler or Langston? I suppose we’ll figure that out after the commercial break.
This was an entertaining way to open the show. Cena was his usual self and delivered a promo full of emotion, both in the form of seriousness and humor.
Ziggler came across a bit whiny, while A.J. was strong on the mic. This was the first time I’ve heard Langston say anything on the mic, and I was impressed. He didn’t say much, but his tone of voice got over what he was saying.
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler
John Cena would pick up the victory here with the Attitude Adjustment in what was a great match. With a good chunk of time, Cena and Ziggler delivered constant action with a lot of near falls.
These two superstars started off the first Raw of the New Year on a very high note. Cena and Ziggler showed great chemistry in the ring, and I want to see more from them. Their Ladder match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs was very good as well, but I felt this was better because it was a straight up wrestling match.
This is what I want to see from WWE this year, wrestling matches like this. If this show consistently has good matches like this, then Raw will reign supreme in 2013.
As for this feud, it has been a good one so far, and it’s only getting better with matches like this and overall storyline development. I hope this is the start of a great show!
Eve Torres vs. Kaitlyn: WWE Divas Championship
Kaitlyn would pick up the victory by count out, and due to that, Eve Torres remained the Divas champion. The match was going pretty well until Eve grabbed her title and ran away from Kaitlyn.
I have never been much of a fan of Eve, but I do admit that she has developed into a solid performer in the ring. Kaitlyn is also progressing very well in the ring too. She deserves the spotlight that she’s getting now, and I hope it leads to her actually winning the Divas Championship.
I hope that title win occurs soon, though. This feud has been dragged out for five months or so, and it’s just time for it to end. I wonder if people even remember why this feud even started. I myself forgot, but thanks to the commentary, I was reminded what happened.
Backstage, Santino Marella was honored to be talking with Ricky Steamboat. They were interrupted by Wade Barrett, who insulted both of them. With Barrett mostly targeting Steamboat, I wonder if the Dragon will be getting back into the ring soon.
His last matches a few years ago against Chris Jericho were very good, and despite his age, he hadn’t lost a step. I think a short feud between Barrett and Steamboat would really elevate the Barrett Barrage as champion.
Remaining backstage, Matt Striker was with Randy Orton. They would soon be interrupted by 3MB, who all announced they were entering the Rumble. Orton then chose Heath Slater for a match later.
3MB is starting to grow on me. Slater is very entertaining on the mic, while the actions of Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal are often hilarious while he speaks. While the gimmick is pure comedy, all three are solid in-ring competitors. Slater proved that on SmackDown against the Miz, so I hope he gets the chance to shine against Orton later on.
Team Hell No vs. Team Rhodes Scholars
Team Rhodes Scholars picked up a win here after Cody Rhodes hit Cross Rhodes on Daniel Bryan. This was some good tag team action here. With consistent and solid back-and-forth action, these two teams delivered a good match.
For the first time in years, the tag team division is actually worth watching. While the spotlight is mostly on the champions and long-time challengers Rhodes Scholars, the feud has been an entertaining one. Both teams have consistently put on good tag team and singles matches, which makes any match they're involved in must-see.
I love how Kane and Bryan are finally working together and not constantly fighting like they once were. Their great teamwork is making their reign as Tag Team champions one of the best in years.
I can’t wait for Rhodes and Sandow to win the titles, though. They can both cut a great promo, and their teamwork is also quite solid. I also can’t wait to see the title match, whenever it occurs.
Backstage, Randy Orton was walking. Very exciting stuff right there. Well, it will be as long as it doesn't lead to Heath Slater getting squashed by the Viper.
Randy Orton vs. Heath Slater
Randy Orton would pick up the victory after hitting the RKO in what was a decent match. While Slater held his own in the ring with the former World champion, this just seemed like a warm-up match for the Viper.
I was disappointed that Slater didn’t get the chance to perform here, but I guess I can’t expect too much, since he was facing Orton. I feel that Orton is being built up for a return to the top. I don’t know if it’ll lead to winning the Royal Rumble, but I think he’ll definitely be the World Heavyweight champion at WrestleMania.
Santino Marella vs. Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett defeated Santino here with the Bull Hammer. This was a bit of a one-sided match. Santino hit the typical babyface Five Moves of Doom, but this was pretty much all the Intercontinental champion here.
Post-match, Barrett tried to attack Ricky Steamboat, but the Dragon caught him and was ready to fight. I now feel stronger that a Barrett/Steamboat feud is coming. Perhaps Steamboat will be a surprise entrant in the Rumble and eliminate Barrett, thus officially kicking their feud into gear.
Like I said, I think feuding with a legend and former Intercontinental champion will elevate him in a big way.
Backstage, Matt Striker was with Sheamus. Sheamus felt that he would win the Royal Rumble and the World title, but he couldn’t do it in 18 seconds again. 3MB then walked in and said Orton got lucky. Sheamus then challenged 3MB.
Slater, McIntyre and Mahal are getting some major exposure on this show. They may be getting made fun of and beat up, but the fact that they’re getting a lot of television time has to mean something.
Antonio Cesaro vs. The Great Khali
Antonio Cesaro got the win here by hitting the Neutralizer, which is an impressive feat against someone the size of Khali. This was the typical Khali match, as the big man hit his usual chops before his knees were attacked.
Cesaro was impressive, though. Then again, he’s always impressive. He’s definitely one of the best new faces in the company, and the future is bright for the former ROH World Tag Team champion.
If the WWE keeps booking him as strongly as it has been, I feel like a World title will be around his waist by the end of the year.
Backstage, Paul Heyman was talking to someone on a phone when Bard Maddox interrupted him. Heyman didn't want him around, but Maddox felt like he could be of service. However, Heyman just told him to go away.
I am interested to find out where this whole thing with Brad Maddox is going. He kind of annoys me, but I suppose he’s doing his job as a heel then.
Heyman was, of course, great here. That man could talk about water, and it would be entertaining. It’s all about the facial expressions, and no one is better than the former head of ECW at selling what he’s saying with facial expressions.
Sheamus vs. Jinder Mahal
After Sheamus hit all three members of 3MB with a Brogue Kick, he became the second superstar to take out the stable on this show. Much like Slater with Orton, Mahal held his own in the ring with the Celtic Warrior.
He deserves major props for that, especially since the last time he had a match on Raw in recent memory, he was getting squashed by Ryback.
Like Orton’s match with a member of 3MB, this match was like a warm-up match for the Great White Sheamus.
With my feeling of Orton being World Heavyweight champion at WrestleMania comes the feeling that Sheamus will win the Royal Rumble for the second time. Time will tell if any of that happens, but I have a strong feeling at the moment.
CM Punk vs. Ryback: TLC Match for the WWE Championship
After a good and intense match, CM Punk climbed the ladder and grabbed the WWE Championship to keep his 400-plus day reign as champion intact. His victory came with help, though, as The Shield once again took out Ryback.
With this match, there is no denying now that Punk and Paul Heyman are working with The Shield, so it’ll be interesting to see where the storyline goes from here.
The match itself, like I said, was quite intense. The tables, ladder, chairs and even the ring steps got some great use. My favorites were Ryback dropping Punk onto the edge of the ladder, Ryback tossing him out of the ring through a table and The Shield powerbombing Ryback through a table and onto the ring steps. The match was done very well and was entertaining in a big way.
I have to wonder, though, what’s next for Ryback. I guess he’ll target The Shield, but will anyone back him up?
Backstage, Matt Striker approached CM Punk and Paul Heyman. Punk had nothing to do with Brad Maddox or The Shield, but he would be out there later to drop a pipe bomb on the Rock. The Rock and CM Punk going at it on the mic? As far as I’m concerned, that is the perfect way to end the show.
Remaining backstage, Daniel Bryan blamed Kane for their loss earlier, and Kane blamed Bryan. They went back and forth with “yes” and “no” until Vickie Guerrero interrupted them. She told them they have to meet Dr. Shelby next week, which got the champions to argue once again.
So much for them getting along. Well, at least they act as a team in the ring; they just have their problems backstage. I actually can’t wait to see another anger management segment, since the others were very entertaining. I just hope the WWE can continue the segment without repeating too much.
Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston
After Kingston kicked Big Show a few times, the World Heavyweight champion knocked him out in a match that lasted about 30 seconds. Kingston lost the Intercontinental Championship, and he immediately started a downward spiral.
It’s disappointing to see Kingston already getting squashed by Big Show. I suppose some time is needed to find him a new storyline, but why have him get destroyed by Big Show in 30 seconds? It would have been nice to at least see Kingston put up a bit of a fight.
CM Punk then made his way to the ring to deliver a pipe bomb, and a pipe bomb he did indeed drop. While John Cena is at the top due to popularity, whereas guys like Daniel Bryan and Brodus Clay are stuck with gimmicks, and someone like Tyson Kidd is overlooked for Little Jimmy, Punk gave the WWE Universe another worked shoot.
He also put himself over while putting down Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Edge. The WWE champion was then cut off for a commercial break.
This is the best CM Punk promo I’ve seen in months. Since his heel turn, he always ranted about the same thing, which was respect. For me, it got boring after a while. This promo had impact like his first worked shoot in 2011 did, and it went over in a big way. This reminded me just how good Punk really is!
When the Rock finally came out, he got in his catchphrases and his jokes, including getting the crowd to chant “Cookiepuss” and calling Punk “Punkeye the Crackhead.” There was an equal amount of serious moments in the Rock’s promo as well, though, and it really added to the segment.
The parts when they went back-and-forth were great, as both the Rock and Punk are two of the best talkers in the WWE.
It all ended with a Rock Bottom, and it started the feud with a major bang. The Rock and CM Punk electrified in this segment. I could think of no better way to end the first Raw of 2013 then this!
Overall, I thought this episode of WWE Raw was a good one. The show started out strong with the Cena/Ziggler match, and the matches and segments after it kept the pace going very well. WWE stepped it up with the TLC match between Punk and Ryback, and it ended the show with a bang.
This is the first Raw is a couple of months that had me entertained from beginning to end, which gives me great hope as the Road to WrestleMania gets underway.
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