This past Monday night, WWE presented its first episode of Monday Night Raw in the new year. Needless to say, the show featured a number of monumental moments and historic happenings that kicked off 2013 on a very high note for the flagship show.
However, this should come as no surprise, as WWE has had the tendency to provide strong shows on the first week of January in recent years. Each show set the tone for the remainder of the year, and this week's electric edition was certainly no exception.
While watching the show, I noticed a handful of highlights that could be seen as interesting or intriguing to any ordinary WWE viewer. For those of you who may follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I have an obsessive knack for fun facts regarding various past WWE events.
Here, I'll attempt to entertain and enlighten you with knowledge as I present my observed monumental, record-breaking, history-making moments from the first Raw of 2013.
Normally, WWE opens Raw with a either a match or promo that involves a few of its biggest stars in order to pop a big rating and set the tone for the rest of the show. Unsurprisingly, John Cena was that guy on the first episodes of Raw in both 2012 and 2013.
In both occasions, Cena called out his biggest rival at the time, with last year being Kane and this year being Dolph Ziggler. While he didn't face Kane in one-on-one action that night, Cena scored a huge victory over Ziggler in the opening match this past Monday night.
If you want to start the year on a high note, I strongly suggest not doing so with John Cena, as he went on to have one of the worst years of his WWE career in 2012.
Going into 2012, Daniel Bryan was the World Heavyweight champion after capturing the title at WWE TLC a few weeks prior. He was set to do battle with then-Intercontinental champion Cody Rhodes in the opening bout of the first Raw of the year, where he emerged victorious following a roll-up.
Following his victory, Bryan screamed, "Yes!" over and over again, which would eventually become a signature catchphrase of the American Dragon.
On the first Raw of 2013, Bryan and Rhodes were once again on opposite sides of the ring as WWE Tag Team champions Team Hell No squared off with Team Rhodes Scholars. The second-generation star sought vengeance over Bryan by pinning him to score the non-title victory for his team.
Moments before Rhodes hit his finisher on Bryan, I found it quite interesting that Bryan attempted to repeat history by catching Rhodes in a roll-up, but Rhodes must have done his homework since he reversed it and battled back for the win.
On the final SmackDown of 2011, Wade Barrett tossed Randy Orton down a flight of stairs, effectively taking out one of the biggest stars in the company. That being said, it was a bit strange that WWE followed up that big angle by having Barrett face Santino Marella on the subsequent edition of Raw on Jan. 2, but the British brawler emerged victorious regardless.
Following his monumental Intercontinental Championship victory last week on Raw, I expected Barrett to be placed in something of a high-profile match on the first Raw of 2013. Once again, I was sadly mistaken, as he was instead placed in a bout with Marella, whom he disposed of just as easily as he did a year prior.
Since arriving on the WWE scene almost exactly five years ago, Kofi Kingston has experienced much success inside the squared circle. Unfortunately, his inconsistent pushes have seen him relegated to being an enhancement talent to stars on the rise.
Aside from 2008, January has never been a favorable month of Kingston's, mostly because that's the traditional period where he's being utilized as a jobber. On the first Raw of 2009, Kingston was unsuccessful in tag team action alongside Rey Mysterio in defeating the dynamic duo of John Morrison and The Miz.
Although he was in the midst of a strong push the following year, he came up short of defeating Randy Orton on the first Raw of 2010. Despite being WWE Tag Team champion, Kingston was even featured on the premiere edition of Raw in 2012.
Worse yet, the Ghanaian Superstar fell victim to Big Show's knockout punch on Monday night in a match that wasn't even a minute long. Here's hoping Kingston can find more success in 2014 rather than let his immense talent go to waste.
Although the commentators usually state that WWE Championship matches on Raw are "rare occurrences," it's actually been quite common in recent years. However, the number of WWE title matches contested on the flagship show has decreased significantly since Punk won the strap in November 2011, which makes title matches on Raw feel much more meaningful when they do occur.
On Monday night, Punk successfully defended his golden prize against Ryback in a TLC match, in what was the first WWE title match held on Raw since the show's 1,000th episode on July 23, 2012. In both occurrences, Punk walked out with his title intact.
Without a doubt, the Tables, Ladders and Chairs match is one of the most sadistic stipulations WWE has to offer, merely due to the vast amount of brutality it ensures. TLC matches rarely ever disappoint, with this past week's vicious TLC match between Ryback and WWE champion CM Punk being a prime example.
We normally see TLC matches contested at the pay-per-view of the same name each December, but we were fortunate enough to witness one this past week on Raw. Since the match's inception in 2000, we've witnessed a total of four TLC matches on the flagship show over the years, with the latest one (aside from this past week) being on the Nov. 22, 2010 edition on Raw.
In that match, The Miz successfully defended his WWE Championship against Jerry Lawler, who was also celebrating his 61st birthday that same night. I hope you enjoyed the clash between Punk and Ryback on this week's Raw, as it might be the final TLC match you see on free television for quite some time.
In addition to the shocking returns, it's not unlike WWE to feature a WWE Championship match on its first Raw of the New Year as well in order to add to the electricity and excitement of the event. It's become a common trend since 2011, with the champion maintaining possession of his gold each and every time.
After earning the right to challenge for the WWE Championship, John Morrison faced off against familiar friend and foe The Miz in a Falls Count Anywhere match on the first Raw of 2011. Due to interference from Alex Riley, Miz ultimately defeated his former tag team partner to successfully retain his title.
On the first Raw of 2012, Dolph Ziggler challenged CM Punk for the WWE title after pinning Punk the week prior. Although Ziggler won via count-out following interference from John Laurinaitis, he was unable to capture the strap.
On Monday night, we finally received the match we were supposed to see last month, with Ryback taking on Punk for the WWE Championship in a TLC match. Ryback came close to claiming the gold, but he came up short after being put through a table at the hands of The Shield.
From an Elimination Chamber to Hell in a Cell, CM Punk has survived some of the most brutal kinds of matches over the course of his career. He competed in his third TLC match on Monday night, where he emerged victorious to successfully defend his WWE Championship.
With this victory, Punk is now 3-0 in televised Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches in WWE, which is an impressive feat to say the least. Past victories in TLC matches include a win over Jeff Hardy at SummerSlam 2009 and a win over Alberto Del Rio and The Miz at WWE TLC 2011.
I'm not sure if Punk will ever surpass Edge as the master of TLC matches, but he's coming pretty darn close.
Upon his WWE arrival in April 2012, Ryback was positioned as an absolute monster who could not be stopped. Over time, his undefeated streak became a major component of his character, regardless of the numerous Goldberg comparisons he received.
While he suffered his first official singles loss at WWE Hell in a Cell in October, he had yet to be defeated on Raw. That is, until this past Monday night, where he was unsuccessful in defeating WWE champion CM Punk in a TLC match following interference from The Shield.
This would mark his first loss received on Raw since re-debuting last year as Ryback, but it's not at all bad. He still has yet to be defeated via pinfall or submission on the flagship show, so not all hope is lost for Big Hungry just yet.
As previously stated, history has shown that WWE almost always goes all out for its premiere episode of Monday Night Raw each year. To make the shows even more monumental, a return from a legendary talent has been featured on the first Raw of 2010, 2012 and 2013 as well.
After being teased for weeks, Bret Hart was finally announced to return to Raw for the first time in nearly 12 years on the Jan. 4 edition of Raw in 2010. Although he buried the hatchet with Shawn Michaels in the opening segment, Vince McMahon double-crossed Hart later in the evening.
For weeks, we were shown various vignettes hinting at an apparent arrival on the Jan. 2 edition of Raw last year. Sure enough, it was Chris Jericho, who made an immediate impact by gracing the WWE Universe with his presence for the first time in over a year.
For the first time since Raw 1000, The Rock returned to WWE on Monday night to confront WWE champion CM Punk. He engaged in an intense war of the words with the Voice of the Voiceless before laying him out with a Rock Bottom.
Of course, all three of these historic returns popped big ratings for the flagship show.
In conclusion, I thank you for reading through my latest piece.
I usually do "fun fact" pieces after every pay-per-view, but I found there was many notable moments worth writing about regarding the first Raw of 2013. Even still, drop your thoughts below as to whether these should continue based upon how much you enjoyed reading it.
Also, be sure to follow my official @WWEFunFacts page on Twitter for more my useless wrestling knowledge.
Visit my website at Next Era Wrestling, like me on Facebook and listen to my SAVE US GSM radio show every Wednesday night at 10/9c for more of my thoughts and writings, along with WWE/TNA news, reviews, recaps and more.