WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Jan. 20

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterJanuary 21, 2014

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Jan. 20

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    The arrow never quite found dead center in the biggest moments of the Jan. 20 edition of WWE Raw. 

    The go-home episode before the Royal Rumble had all the star power one could want, from a returning Batista to John Cena closing out the show, from Brock Lesnar to CM Punk. It never quite felt like those stars were maximized, though.

    The tag team division excelled once again, while whether or not WWE sold the upcoming pay-per-view's marquee matchups is debatable.

    The company did its share of things right in hyping Lesnar vs. Big Show and Cena vs. Randy Orton, but poor pacing and a tepid climax got in the way.

    How well did WWE make use of Batista's return? How exciting were the matches and how well were the stories told?

    The following is a look at the answers to those questions as well as the results, grades and highlights of an episode that began with a short video celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and ended with a champion making his escape.

Opening Segment

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    With Stephanie McMahon at his side, Triple H laid out the stakes of the Royal Rumble match. He then introduced Batista, but it was Randy Orton who stomped out instead.

    McMahon cut off "The Viper" before he could begin to rant. She berated him for attacking John Cena's father last week. She said that the WWE Network brings more eyes to the product, and that if he couldn't control his anger, he would be stripped of his title and fired.

    Triple H told him that he had faith in Orton despite his flaws.

    He gave Orton an opportunity to redeem himself, to make up for his upset loss last week, by facing Kofi Kingston once more. "The Game" ordered him to "make it right" with Cena as well.

    It was then Batista's turn to walk down the ramp. The fans roared as his pyrotechnics shot off and "The Animal" played to the crowd. Orton wore a sour expression in the corner.

    The Authority welcomed him back with a hug as the crowd chanted Batista's name.

    Orton offered his hand. Batista ignored it.

    Pointing at the WWE title, he said, "I'm back for that." He promised to win the Rumble, win the world championship and headline WrestleMania.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Your actions were despicable, they were deplorable and they are unbecoming of the WWE world heavyweight champion," McMahon to Orton.

    "Only God knows what his true ambitions really are," Orton on Triple H.

    "You need to fix what it is broken and you need to do it in short order," Triple H to Orton.






    A buzzing energy filled the screen when Batista returned. After all the hype and all the waiting, seeing him step through those ropes again was a stirring moment.

    His intentions were made clear, simple and realistic. He wants to be on top again, and that's what he will try to do beginning with the Rumble.

    The weakness of the incomplete Evolution reunion was the further loss of balance in Orton's character. Too much emphasis has been placed on his cowardly side rather than his dangerous one. It has made him seem like a lame-duck champ.

    It's also worth noting that when Triple H listed the top contenders for the WWE title he listed Cena, Batista and Lesnar, but not CM Punk or Daniel Bryan.

The Shield vs. Cody Rhodes, Goldust and Big E Langston

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    Big E Langston waited in the ring with Cody Rhodes and Goldust as The Shield sauntered in. Dean Ambrose began the match against Langston, but neither him nor Seth Rollins could get the powerhouse off his feet.

    The tag champs then took turns bashing on Rollins. Rhodes traded blows with Rollins before he springboarded himself out of the ring and onto his black-clad foe.

    Once Roman Reigns entered the fray, the advantage shifted. The Shield punished Rhodes in their corner for a few moments, but he managed to escape with a Beautiful Disaster kick that rocked Reigns.

    The action sped up from here with Langston and Ambrose colliding and Reigns hitting a mid-air Superman punch on Rhodes. After the chaos died down, Rollins hit Black Out on Langston for the win.



    The Shield win via pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Rhodes dives to the outside on Rollins.

    "Roman Reigns wants to know where he's at," Jerry Lawler on Reigns being stunned after Rhodes' kick.

    "Good night, sweet prince," John "Bradshaw" Layfield on Reigns' Superman punch.






    The last third of the bout teemed with excitement. Speed, signature moves and fluid action gave The Shield momentum and gave the fans an excellent first match.

    It offered a lot of great spots to savor in retrospect. Had the battle gone on longer and started off with more tension, it would have earned an even higher grade. 

    The announcers played up the concept that the Royal Rumble pits brother against brother and that each member of The Shield would be on his own. Both came off as strong hints that we will see one or both of those two teams break up at the pay-per-view.


Daniel Bryan Promo

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    After a slickly produced recap of Daniel Bryan's defection from Bray Wyatt, the bearded pitbull stood in the ring and addressed the fans.

    He explained that he only joined The Wyatt Family so he could bring down Wyatt. He was only waiting for the right moment to strike. Bryan challenged the clan leader once more and led a "Yes!" chant, but the lights soon went off.

    Wyatt called him a traitor, labeling his fans "sheep."

    "The Eater of Worlds" then went on a dark rant about what was in store for Bryan. He advised him to tell his mother he was sorry because terrible things were set to happen to him.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "I became the buzzard and I chewed on the carcass of Bray Wyatt," Bryan.

    "Everything that happens to you from now on is your fault," Wyatt to Bryan.






    High marks go to Wyatt's powerful threats and for the energy that Bryan dredged up with his promo. The segment didn't receive a ton of time, though, and felt like it was missing a beat at the end.

    Another line from Bryan to end it, saying he was ready for what was coming or something similar, would have helped complete the moment.

    It's also hard to follow the stellar scene that Bryan produced last week, and that showed with this one feeling like somewhat of a letdown.

Fandango vs. Xavier Woods

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    R-Truth sat in on commentary as his ally Xavier Woods took on Fandango. Woods' speed gave him the advantage for the briefest of moments, but Fandango showed off his aggressive side to take control.

    After a vicious suplex, Fandango climbed up to the top rope to hit his flying leg drop. Woods couldn't roll away from it or kick out after it.



    Fandango wins via pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Emma made another appearance in the crowd.






    This bout didn't offer much. It was over after a few blinks and allows Fandango to enter the Rumble looking stronger. For Woods, this marks another time he's been easily dispatched by a foe.

    Losing is one thing, but getting steamrolled like this isn't a sign of great confidence from the company.

    The issues between these two Superstars don't seem to be over. Expect them to clash at some point in the Rumble match.

Kane Apologizes to CM Punk

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    Backstage, Brad Maddox bragged to Kane about coming up with the idea of Batista returning. Before the Director of Operations could respond, Stephanie McMahon stormed in. Maddox scurried out.

    McMahon asked Kane what he was thinking when he chokeslammed CM Punk on SmackDown. She told him that he can't attack the talent and that he would have to apologize to Punk.

    He then begrudgingly walked down to the ring to await Punk.

    Punk held his microphone up like a prison shiv as Kane mumbled that he was sorry. Punk made him say it louder before attacking the big man.

    Kane tore off his shirt, ready to fight. Maddox stopped him and booked a match against one of The New Age Outlaws.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You need to get a hold of yourself," McMahon to Kane.

    "It's apology time," Punk on his way to the ring.






    There wasn't the amount of tension one would expect between Kane and Punk. Kane's corporate role has castrated him, and WWE hasn't done a good enough job keeping his monster element intact.

    The result is a man who is not threatening anymore.

    Punk seemed to have fun with the bit and that energy made this more entertaining. It's clear that WWE is pushing Punk toward a Triple H clash. The battles with his henchman are fine, but not as electric as when he gets to face the kingpin himself.

CM Punk vs. Billy Gunn

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    Road Dogg explained why The New Age Outlaws abandoned CM Punk, saying that they were after attention and eventually tag team gold.

    Punk, distracted by Road Dogg's presence, turned away long enough for Billy Gunn to take control. The vet pounded on Punk and brought him into the ring, wearing him down with a reverse chinlock.

    Gunn did a crotch chop. Punk responded with a roundhouse kick. "The Best in the World" then peppered Road Dogg with punches before resuming his attack on Gunn. Punk nailed Road Dogg with a suicide dive and then hit the Go To Sleep on Gunn for a three-count.

    Kane then gleefully announced that Punk would be the first entrant in the Rumble.



    Punk wins via pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "That man doesn't age," John "Bradshaw" Layfield on Gunn.

    Punk mocks the crotch chop.






    The match wasn't the memorable kind. The amount of slow points and rest holds was not surprising because of Gunn's age. Punk tried to make this look more dramatic than it was.

    Gunn still looks good in bursts, but he's better off in tag team action at this stage.

    The element that bumps up the grade here is the announcement that Punk has to enter the Rumble first. It creates an increased uphill nature to Punk's battle at the Rumble and feeds the Triple H vs. Punk storyline with more ammo.


Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio

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    The two longtime foes locked up in the ring before Rey Mysterio took charge with a number of speedy kicks. Alberto Del Rio tried to use his aggressiveness to gain the edge, but found himself suffering a number of Mysterio's high-flying moves.

    Mysterio hit a moonsault on the outside of the ring and later dropkicked Del Rio uncomfortably close to his most precious cargo.

    Del Rio battled back. He cracked Mysterio in the ribs with kicks and hurled him out of the ring. After sending the beloved underdog into the steel steeps, Del Rio tried to peel his mask off and bent him around the ring post.

    Each man crashed his shoulder into the post and spent the rest of the bout drained and wincing. Del Rio caught Mysterio in mid-619, and even a superkick wasn't enough to keep the masked man down.

    The next 619 attempt worked, but Del Rio grabbed the rope to save himself. The cross armbreaker soon followed and Mysterio had to submit.

    Batista then came out to meet the man who had been trash talking him for weeks. Del Rio's attempt at a sucker punch was quickly turned into a spinebuster followed by a Batista bomb.



    Del Rio wins via submission.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Del Rio emphatically stomps Mysterio, who was caught up in the ropes, into the mat.

    "He should be in GQ," John "Bradshaw" Layfield on Del Rio.

    "Rey is a baby. As soon as he put that hold on him, he started tapping out," JBL on Mysterio.






    Del Rio and Mysterio's latest battle had some dramatic moments and was well-paced and well-worked. There wasn't a great spark to the action, though.

    Some of that might be because Mysterio hurt himself with the moonsault to the outside. He looked like he was in legitimate pain, but carried on. These two have also fought each other so many times that there is little luster left in the matchup.

    Still, the two wrestlers composed a very good match, and Del Rio getting his penance was an enjoyable moment. 

    The question fans will be waiting for is whether this spat between Del Rio and Batista is over, or if these two will collide again in the Rumble.

Big Show and Brock Lesnar Square off

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    Smiling after seeing a recap of himself flinging Brock Lesnar around, Big Show mocked Paul Heyman in a cartoon bird voice. He said that Lesnar was dangerous, that he doesn't like him and challenged "The Beast" to get in his face.

    Paul Heyman stood on the ramp, looking as if he were going to respond. Instead, Lesnar walked out glaring at Big Show.

    Lesnar scoffed at the idea of facing Big Show. The giant called him out again. Lesnar came out again and stood face to face with the big man.

    He tried to take Big Show down, but "The World's Largest Athlete" flipped Lesnar out of the ring. That angered the former UFC champ, who took out his aggression on the announcers' table.

    Red-faced and fearful, Lesnar slunk away.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You can be big, but you better be big and bad if you're calling out that man right there," John "Bradshaw" Layfield on Lesnar.

    Lesnar throws a TV monitor at Big Show.






    WWE did a good job of selling Big Show as a dominant force that Lesnar will seemingly struggle to overcome. That likely means that we'll see Lesnar get a big win at the Rumble, but for now there are questions floating around in the audience's head about how this will play out.

    Only the timing held this back. Big Show's Heyman impression didn't help, either.

    There was far too much dead space and the segment took far too long. Lesnar didn't need to go all the way to the back; he could have just taken a few steps away. That kind of inefficiency held this back some, but the intensity adds to the anticipation of their upcoming match.

AJ Lee and Tamina Snuka vs. The Funkadactyls

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    AJ Lee wanted to celebrate becoming the longest-reigning Divas champ with a party. No one came. Wade Barrett explained to her that no one liked her, and as one might expect, AJ reacted by freaking out.

    She accidentally threw her cake into Tamina Snuka's face. 

    They then had to work together as a tag team against Naomi and Cameron. Tamina overpowered Cameron with knees to the gut, but Naomi used her speed to keep Tamina off balance.

    AJ came in after Tamina kicked Naomi to the ground. The Funkadactyl rolled the Divas champ up for the win.



    The Funkadactyls win by pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You are universally reviled, detested and loathed by every single Superstar and Diva on the roster," Barrett to AJ.

    Tamina delivers a nasty big boot to Naomi.






    AJ didn't get much action in the ring. She's been asked to wrestle much less as of late. 

    Tamina did well to kick butt when asked to do so. It's clear that WWE is heading toward an eventual Tamina vs. AJ feud, which would be fantastic. Unfortunately, the slow journey there has been underwhelming.

    AJ's character is not engaging as it once was. A cake-throwing segment wasn't going to improve that.

The Usos vs. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper

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    Striking quickly, Luke Harper tagged Jimmy Uso with right hands. Erick Rowan took his turn, delivering similarly stinging blows.

    The Usos then showed that they could hang with a brawl against The Wyatt Family. Kicks to the gut and bruise-making slaps accompanied their usual high-flying moves. However, the brothers couldn't last in that type of fight.

    Rowan ground his fists into Jimmy's temples and Harper sent him crashing to the outside.

    In the middle of the beatdown, Bray Wyatt stood up and told the fans that this was the type of punishment he would deliver to Daniel Bryan. Jimmy would eventually fly at Harper, keeping him down long enough to tag in Jey.

    The Usos then sped around the ring, their boots flying at Harper and Rowan. Bryan charged at Wyatt from behind, pounding on him with rapid-fire fists. The Usos used the confusion to steal a win via the schoolboy.



    The Usos win by pinfall.


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Harper flings Jimmy off the turnbuckle onto the security barricade.

    "Every blow they hit them with is a clubbing blow," John "Bradshaw" Layfield on The Wyatt Family.

    Harper wears a crazed look as he puts Jimmy into a headlock.

    "He walks into the Royal Rumble entering a meat grinder," Wyatt on Bryan.






    Even with its sagging, slow middle, this was another excellent tag match between these two teams. The Usos showed toughness and versatility in hanging with The Wyatt Family in a brawl.

    The blend of their two styles merged to create a thrill ride once more. Just after the energy began to dissipate from the action, Bryan came in and took another swing at the monster that is Wyatt.

    Match of the night honors go to this clash, the most stirring, heart-quickening bout of the episode.


Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton

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    Kofi Kingston attacked a distracted Randy Orton. Orton was waiting for John Cena to enter the building and kept glancing at the big screen.

    Orton's mind was always on his Royal Rumble foe, even when Kingston clocked him with punches and stunned him with kicks. "The Viper" mocked Cena's "You can't see" gesture and asked out loud, "Where are you?"

    Kingston nearly won with a backslide and later with the SOS.

    When Cena stormed into the arena, Orton turned his back on Kingston, who grabbed hold of the WWE champ's leg to allow Cena some free shots.

    An enraged Cena sent Orton into the ring post, over the security barricade and into the crowd. The fight slipped into a luxury suite and the out of the arena, where Orton drove off in someone's car.



    Orton wins by disqualification. 


    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Orton's not doing much fighting, he's just doing all the running," John "Bradshaw" Layfield on Orton.






    The good news for Kingston is that he wasn't immediately trampled in this rematch. He was a threat to Orton at times, although a looming Cena was clearly Orton's priority.

    The match was solid, but all the talk after Raw will be about that ending.

    Cena's fury was dramatic and Orton's cowardice was frustrating. The Viper escaping by CR-V didn't offer the kind of bang one would expect from a go-home show.

    It's an underwhelming lasting image on which to try to sell a pay-per-view.


Off-Air Notes

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    John Cena returned to the arena after chasing Randy Orton and soon met with a familiar face—Damien Sandow.

    As reported by WrestlingInc.com, Sandow griped about Cena being overrated and how he was tired of his "oh so popular merchandise." Cena responded by hoisting him onto his shoulders and delivering an Attitude Adjustment.

    Sandow's inclusion in this clash is a sign that WWE still considers him a rival to Cena and not just a memory in the former champ's mind. The placement of it after the cameras went off speaks more loudly, though. 

    Sandow is a long ways removed from being the "uncrowned world champion" that he once claimed to be. The Royal Rumble presents an opportunity for him to build up momentum and eventually move from dark segments like this to the limelight.