The final WWE Raw before the Royal Rumble opened with Vickie Guerrero and Paul Heyman. Vickie declared that the Rock was banned from the arena during the show, and that turned into the Rock backstage talking with three cops.
After taking shots at both Vickie and Heyman, the Rock promised that he would make it into the building. I thought this was an overall good opening segment. Both Vickie and Heyman were strong on the mic while the Rock was quite entertaining backstage with the police.
A Vickie/Heyman partnership is frightening, and they look quite menacing together. I doubt this will go anywhere past their hatred for the Rock, but imagine what WWE could do if they were to become a permanent pairing. They would certainly make a great managing duo, that’s for sure.
In terms of the Rock, he was great backstage. This would be the beginning of a night full of the Rock, or at least the first two hours.
Randy Orton vs. Antonio Cesaro: Best the Clock Challenge
Randy Orton would defeat Antonio Cesaro here in 11 minutes and 36 seconds, thus setting the time to beat. The wrestler that ultimately beat the clock would choose their entry number into the Royal Rumble match.
Orton and Cesaro had another good match here. It featured back-and-forth action throughout as both Superstars showed how well they work with one another. This would be the third match they’ve had in less than two weeks, and each contest was better than the last.
I wasn’t surprised to see Orton get the victory here. To me, it makes sense for a face to set the time. That way, if a heel breaks it, that wrestler will get some major heat from the audience. In turn, fans will be rooting for another face to break the heel’s time.
Orton was a great choice, too. I feel a heel turn is just around the corner for him, and losing the Beat the Clock Challenge is another step towards it happening.
As for Cesaro, the United States champion continues to impress week in and week out. The man is truly a future world champion in the WWE, and with guys like him and many others, the future is bright for WWE.
Big Show vs. Zack Ryder
With Brad Maddox on commentary, the Big Show defeated Zack Ryder with the Knockout Punch. Big Show made quick work of Ryder here. The match was no more than a minute long as the Big Show just destroyed the Long Island Iced Z.
Post-match, Big Show put his foot on Ryder and counted to 10 until the crowd started chanting “What?,” which angered him enough to leave.
Poor Zack Ryder. What happened to him? He went from the top of the world, for a midcarder, to just appearing on Raw to get quickly beaten by someone like the Big Show.
After WrestleMania, I don’t think Ryder will be with WWE anymore. Whether he asks for his release or is handed a pink slip, Ryder will most likely be gone soon.
Big Show’s anger is going to get the best of him at the Royal Rumble. I feel that it’s going to cost him the Last Man Standing match at the event. He’ll do something out of anger, which will give Del Rio the perfect opportunity to strike.
Even though he didn’t get much time, Maddox continued to be quite entertaining on commentary. He was pure gold on Main Event last week, and the short time he was on here was great. Something big is definitely in store for him.
Ryback vs. Heath Slater
After Heath Slater got in a few blows, Ryback made quick work of him. Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal also got taken out here as well before Ryback hit Shell Shock on Slater. Post-match, Ryback said he loved his job and declared that he’d win the Royal Rumble.
It’s a shame that Slater is just a comedy heel. He is a great overall performer when he’s given the chance to show it, but that’s the problem; he’s barely able to perform.
I’d like to see 3MB in the tag team division as I think they’d make great challengers for the belts. If given the titles, the Freebird Rule could make its return as well.
When it comes to Ryback in the Rumble, I doubt he’s going to win. He’ll probably make it to the final four, but he won’t win it all.
The Rock Has an Idea
Backstage, the Rock told the cops that he needed to get inside. Their job was to protect and serve the people, not Vickie Guerrero. After the Rock got the fans to chant his name and one of the officers told him he had a ticket, Vickie showed up.
She wanted him arrested, but the People’s Champion told her she had two problems. One was that he would get into the ring, and the other was that she still looked horrible. She stormed off as the Rock said that he had an idea.
The Rock continued to electrify here. Even when he’s backstage, the Rock entertains like no one else. The guys playing the police officers could barely keep a straight face in both segments. He had me laughing, too, which is always a plus. His chemistry with Vickie reminds me of the interactions between the Rock and Jonathan Coachman. Very entertaining stuff.
CM Punk Addresses the Rock and the Royal Rumble
CM Punk then made his way out with Paul Heyman. He said that the WWE Championship was very dear to him and that he proved that he was the “man.” He worked half his life to get where he was today. Nobody could take the title away from him, and he wasn’t going to let anyone do it, especially the Rock.
The people may be important to the Rock, but being champion was important to him. All that mattered was that at the Rumble, Punk would remain the WWE champion.
CM Punk delivered a dynamite promo here. While staring directly into the camera, Punk was beyond solid on the mic and gave the WWE Universe a promo to remember.
I loved the close ups WWE was giving us. The intensity and seriousness in Punk’s eyes really sold every word he was saying. Without those close ups, I don’t think his words would have had a strong an impact that they did with them.
The WWE champion once again proved why he is one of the best mic workers in the WWE and in professional wrestling as a whole. On the Road to WrestleMania, Punk is going to be a hard man to beat on the mic.
Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz: Beat the Clock Challenge
Dolph Ziggler would beat the clock here by 30 seconds after hitting the Zig Zag on the Miz. A little assistance from Big E Langston and AJ Lee certainly helped, though. I guess Ziggler can win a match; he just can’t do it against John Cena apparently.
Ziggler and Miz had a good, back-and-forth match here. With some nice overall action, the Showoff and the Awesome One delivered a good one for the fans. Ziggler and Miz work very well together. With the Showoff as a heel and the Miz as a babyface, a feud over one of the world titles is certainly possible. I would absolutely love to see it happen!
Ziggler is going to be one of the stars of this year’s Rumble match. Will he win? We’ll just have to wait and see. Making it to the final four is probable at the very least, though.
Last year, the Miz lasted the longest out of any other Superstar, but I can’t see it happening this year. I think he’ll be eliminated rather quickly this time around, and by Antonio Cesaro.
Anger Management Graduation
Dr. Shelby then appeared in the ring to congratulate Kane and Daniel Bryan on graduating from anger management class. Team Hell No came out in graduation gowns, which was hysterical, and Shelby went over their progress before handing them their hats and diplomas.
After arguing over who was the Valedictorian, Dr. Shelby got everyone to hug, including Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. I don’t even know what to say about this. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this before. It was funny, that’s for sure.
I do think, though, that it’ll be the beginning of the end for Team Hell No. Graduation or not, their problems will arise soon enough. The comedy that they bring as a team will be a heated feud after the Royal Rumble.
Kaitlyn vs. Alicia Fox
The Divas champion picked up the win here after hitting the spear on Alicia Fox. This was a decent match at best. It was slow and a bit sloppy at times. The crowd seemed to be absolutely dead during this match, which isn’t good for the title reign of Kaitlyn.
The fans may have loved her in Texas last week, but that was her home state. An audience always loves a hometown wrestler. The real test is seeing how fans react afterwards. The way it sounded on television, the fans weren’t interested at all.
Perhaps it was different live, and I hope it was. The Divas division needs a shot in the arm, and Kaitlyn could get the job done. So could Tamina Snuka, who was watching the match backstage.
With AJ Lee and Rosa Mendes not wrestling that often, and Eve Torres gone from WWE, that really only leaves Tamina as the heel in the division. I guess Kaitlyn found her first feud.
The Rock Interrupts a Paul-Bomb
With CM Punk up in a sky box, Paul Heyman repeated with he said earlier. This time, though, he said it “simply” so that we would understand. He said that the Rock was stupid like the people, and that brought out the People’s Champion, who had the cop’s ticket.
He kicked Heyman out of the ring and declared that this show would be the final Raw that Punk would be WWE champion. He had waited 10 years for a shot and promised to beat him. The lights then went out and the Shield appeared to take out the Rock with the powerbomb.
This was another good segment here. Heyman was great on the mic and was giving a good promo until the Rock came out. The Brahma Bull delivered a great promo here as well.
For the first time since returning a few weeks ago, the Rock was completely serious. As he looked up at Punk, not a single joke came out of his mouth. He was all business here, and it’s about time.
I love the Rock’s jokes, but this is a feud where jokes won’t win him any battles. Unlike John Cena, CM Punk is not going to tell a joke to combat the Rock. Getting serious was the best thing the Rock could do!
The attack from the Shield all but confirms that they are working for, or with, CM Punk. Sure, they’re attacking people not associated with Punk, but that’s how you throw people off a trail. It’ll be interesting how things develops from here.
Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett: Beat the Clock Challenge
After interference from Ziggler, AJ and Langston, neither Sheamus nor Wade Barrett was able to beat the clock. Sheamus came close, but he just wasn’t able to do it.
The match ended in a no-contest as a result, but it was a good match. The Celtic Warrior and the Barrett Barrage went to blows here big time as they tried to win the chance to choose their own entry number. They truly delivered as they tried to do so, which gave the fans a very good back-and-forth contest.
Out of these two Superstars, Sheamus has the best chance at winning the Rumble. As much as I would like to see Barrett win, it’s just not going to happen. There are too many top stars in this year’s match for a midcard champion to win. If Barrett continues this roll he’s on, though, my money’s on him winning next year!
Bad News All Around
Backstage, Ziggler appeared in Vickie’s office with AJ and Langston. He bragged about beating the clock and mocked Vickie as well. She then told him some bad news. That news was that while she said the winner could choose his own entry number, she never said which numbers were up for grabs.
Ziggler had the choice between No. 1 and No. 2, which left him shocked and Vickie laughing. Remember when I said that Ziggler is going to be one of the stars of this year’s Rumble? I think this is going to help him in doing so. Being in the match right at the beginning gives the Showoff the perfect opportunity to show off and truly outlast 29 other Superstars.
Whether he wins or not, Ziggler is coming out of this match a star.
Elsewhere, CM Punk and Paul Heyman bumped into Vince McMahon. The bad news continued as the boss told the champion that if the Shield interfered in his match against the Rock at the Royal Rumble, then he would personally strip him of the WWE Championship.
This just made things very interesting. Since November, Punk has only retained the title because of the Shield. Without them, Ryback or John Cena very well could be champion right now. Can the Best in the World defeat the Great One without help? I can’t wait to see!
Alberto Del Rio vs. Tensai
After Tensai hit a few moves on Alberto Del Rio, Del Rio hit an impressive flying huracanrana, a German suplex and a moonsault for the win. Post-match, Del Rio counted to 10 in Spanish.
Much like the Big Show’s match, this was just a quick way to get Del Rio a victory heading into the Royal Rumble. It also gave him a win over somebody big. Other than getting Del Rio over more, this match really didn’t do much for me.
Hall of Fame Bound
Earlier in the night, WWE aired the Mick Foley video they showed on SmackDown. The video package was great, and it reminded me of why I have always been a fan of Mick Foley.
WWE then announced the next inductee as well, which was two-time WWE champion, and second longest reigning champion in history, Bob Backlund. His video package was well done, as it highlighted one of the greatest wrestlers in WWE history.
Backlund’s induction is without a doubt a long time coming. In fact, he really should have been inducted a long time ago. The important thing is, though, is that he’s being inducted now!
The Royal Rumble Comes Early
John Cena then made his way to the ring to talk about the Rumble match. He singled out a few fans and talked about what they probably did on a Sunday. Whatever they do, it’ll be the same as everyone else this Sunday, since everyone will be watching him win the Royal Rumble.
That brought Sheamus, the Prime Time Players, Randy Orton, the Miz, Team Hell No, Antonio Cesaro and 3MB. They all said the same thing, which was that they’d win the Rumble. That emptied the locker room, and the show went off the air as people were getting thrown over the top rope.
I thought this was totally corny. Seeing 12 guys come out to say the same exact thing, with Cena dragging it out, was just so stupid. If it wasn’t for the massive brawl, this would have been a complete waste of a final segment.
I think that seeing the Shield attack the Rock and leave him lying in the middle of the ring coughing up blood would have been a stronger segment to close things out. They didn’t need a huge brawl; they do it every year to end the Raw before the Royal Rumble.
If Cena’s promo and the Shield attack on the Rock were switched, that would have been absolutely perfect for me.
Overall, I thought this was a very good episode of WWE Raw. There were a number of solid matches and excellent segments. Feuds leading into the Royal Rumble and the Rumble match itself were built up great as well.
I may have found the ending to be corny, but the brawl was overall good build for the Rumble.
This episode has gotten me incredibly pumped for the Royal Rumble event this Sunday. The Road to WrestleMania officially begins at the Royal Rumble, and if WWE continues what they’re doing, the journey down the road is going to be a great one!
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