Yes! Yes! Yes! The Raw Review (#YYYTRR)
by, 01-08-2013 at 12:36 AM (4045 Views)
What a start to 2013!
The first match was a back and forth affair, we got an incredible feat of strength from Antonio Cesaro, a great TLC match for the WWE Championship, and a closing segment so good it needed a commercial break. All this and the crowd were incredible all night.
I suppose that’s what you get when The Rock makes his return…
It’s all in the numbers…
There are three numbers that say more than any pipe bomb CM Punk has dropped in the last eighteen months, any action he has made inside of the squared circle, or any of the talented superstars he has beaten in that time, about his upcoming confrontation with The Rock.
414. The number of days (at the time of writing) that CM Punk has been WWE Champion.
168. The number of days since Punk dropped The Rock with an oversold clothesline and the GTS.
20. The number of days CM Punk potentially has left in his WWE Championship reign.
In true Royal Rumble fashion, WWE likes to promote the start of the Road to WrestleMania by highlighting the importance of numbers, and this year is no different. We will no doubt be treated to the same video package showcasing the achievements and disasters of Rumbles past before the annual 30-man battle royal begins, and I’m all for it. But this year we get a WWE Championship match which is just as important as the Rumble match itself.
CM Punk’s WWE Championship reign has been reinforced by the fact that he not only surpassed the one-year milestone, but that of the longest reigning champion in the modern era also. He is undoubtedly the benchmark for future championship reigns at this point, and he knows it. That is what has made the heel turn of CM Punk so brilliantly effective.
168 days ago Punk took out The Rock at Raw 1000, and I naively believed it was because there was no other way WWE could turn him heel. Instead WWE has been building to Punk’s biggest possible challenge. Rocky is one of the most prolific WWE Champions ever, and since Punk has beaten the only other man to come close to that (John Cena’s multiple title reigns and constant involvement in the WWE Championship picture cannot be ignored statistically) many a time since his original pipe bomb, there was no alternative but to bring in a legend who has proven he can still go to try and dethrone the straight edge Champion.
Both Punk and The Rock are proven champions at this point, and they can both cut a promo better than anybody else. WWE has known for months (as has any smart WWE fan) that we were going to see Rock vs. Punk at Royal Rumble, and it should be a rollercoaster of hype getting there and a great match on the night.
The only question is whether or not Punk is in the last 20 days of his historic reign as WWE Champion?
I personally think he will retain the championship and hold it through WrestleMania, but do so with the help of a faction of superstars who seem to now be in cahoots with Paul Heyman – The Shield & Brad Maddox. Ultimately The Rock does not need another title reign, and his involvement in anything WWE in the build to WrestleMania will sell the PPV anyway. I still have faith in the revolution of CM Punk, and the influx of new superstars is only just beginning. The Rock is just there to shed more light on it.
What next for The Shield?
It seems like a ridiculous question given their influence on tonight’s WWE Championship match, but I cannot see where WWE can take The Shield’s rivalry with Ryback now.
Week after week Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns have laid waste to Ryback (with the exception of one occasion which saw Team Hell No taken out of the rivalry to pursue their current feud with Team Rhodes Scholars), and now they have to remain strong in order to be as much of a threat as they currently are.
This presents a problem. It leaves Ryback looking weak if he cannot overcome the former NXT talents, and it makes him look weaker should he choose not to take any sort of action against them. But one party surely has to make a final statement in order for both to move onto their next targets?
I would suggest WWE puts The Shield over in one last assault and lets Ryback have a strong dominant spell in the Royal Rumble match to reinstate how much of a force he is, but it would still leave Ryback without a major feud heading to WrestleMania.
The possibilities are there now that he has been made to look like a genuine title contender.
He could go after Big Show’s World Heavyweight Championship after Alberto Del Rio has his next opportunity, if only to put him back onto SmackDown for a while and out of the way of The Shield.
Should Triple H not have his rematch with Brock Lesnar (I hope he doesn’t, SummerSlam was a train wreck due to their match), Ryback could even take on Lesnar at WrestleMania in a better-handled version of the Lesnar/Goldberg match from WrestleMania XX.
The bigger, and more unlikely, scenario is that he could be next on the list of victims of The Streak. It’s already confirmed that “we haven’t seen the last of The Undertaker”, so why shouldn’t he face a young powerhouse and help solidify Ryback’s place in WWE’s main event scene (much like he did in jumpstarting the career of Randy Orton)?
With all of these options for Ryback, it does leave The Shield at a loose end. WWE cannot possibly run this angle through to WrestleMania, which is why they need to reveal an alliance with Heyman and Punk in order to maintain their momentum.
John Cena pinned Dolph Ziggler (16:04); this was a surprisingly great start to the first Raw of 2013. It was back-and-forth and had me on the edge of my seat.
Kaitlin defeated Divas Champion Eve via count-out (04:39); I’m no fan of the Divas division in WWE, but this had me interested. I like that WWE isn’t just giving the title to anyone without a story to go with it.
Team Rhodes Scholars defeated WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No (07:13); As much as I love the chemistry that Team Hell No has, I get the feeling that next week will see the start of their demise and split. They will drop the titles to Rhodes & Sandow, and I’m hopeful that Bryan will go on to win the Royal Rumble match (as unlikely as it is).
Randy Orton pinned Heath Slater (w/ Jinder Mahal & Drew McIntyre) (04:28); it’s nice to see 3MB getting some air time on Raw, but I thought the jobbing was over for Slater. It’s a shame really.
Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett pinned Santino Marella (w/ Ricky Steamboat) (02:22); I feel like this match and Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston should have been changed to Barrett vs. Kofi and Show vs. Santino, with the same outcomes.
United States Champion Antonio Cesaro pinned The Great Khali (w/ Natalya & Hornswoggle) (03:24); Cesaro is getting more impressive by the week, whilst Khali’s involvement in WWE at all is confusing me on a similar timescale.
Sheamus pinned Jinder Mahal (w/ Heath Slater & Drew McIntyre) (05:45); it looks like WWE is trying to sell us another Orton vs. Sheamus storyline for the Rumble match. I just hope it turns The Viper heel.
WWE Champion CM Punk (w/ Paul Heyman) defeated Ryback in a TLC match (18:52); this was a great TLC match, and as short as it was didn’t need any more time. The entrance of The Shield was a huge relief to me, and the fact that I started to chant “Yes! Yes! Yes!” upon the triple power bomb justifies the name of this blog. Match of the night by far.
World Heavyweight Champion Big Show pinned Kofi Kingston (00:24); I was at least expecting to see some back-and-forth in this match, but I can’t help but be impressed in the faith WWE is showing Big Show now we’re heading to WrestleMania.
I thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s Raw, and I’m sure it shows.
This is the time of year that every WWE fan invests more time in over the course of a year, which is why I decided that after the Christmas and New Year’s break that I took without warning (I’m sorry about that but there were various reasons other than my urge to get drunk and spend time with friends and family) I should write something again.
The potential for the WWE locker room is much improved since last year, and the Royal Rumble match looks like it might be the polar opposite to what it was last year too. Whilst we pretty much knew either Sheamus or Chris Jericho was going to win the match in 2012, 2013’s match is truly open to most superstars right now (hence my faith in Daniel Bryan).
Not only that, but CM Punk and The Rock have gotten off to a great start in their Rumble build, and that alone makes me excited for next week.
In the meantime, follow me on Twitter (@SpringerAJ) and tweet me your views with #YYYTRR.