Yes! Yes! Yes! The Raw Review (#YYYTRR)
by, 01-22-2013 at 01:33 PM (2465 Views)
For the first time in a few years, the final Monday Night Raw before Royal Rumble was not focussed on the PPVâ€™s championship matches. Instead, there was a nice revival of the pre-Rumble riot and what, at first, looked like it might have been a worthwhile Beat the Clock challenge to determine which superstar could choose their entry number (it turns out this was a waste of time since Dolph Ziggler won and Vickie Guerrero is still trying to make him suffer).
There was also some final build to Rock vs. Punk in the form of two promos (one good, one bad), whilst the World Heavyweight Championship match was announced via the WWE app.
But first and foremost is the Royal Rumble match.
Who will win the Royal Rumble match?
I remember this time last year the Royal Rumble match seemed like a foregone conclusion with the return of Chris Jericho, and as much as I loved the idea of Jericho returning and going straight to WrestleMania I was a little disappointed at how obvious it was that 20-plus superstars in the Rumble didnâ€™t stand a chance. We all know Jericho didnâ€™t win the Rumble, but WWE threw us some bait and most of us bit it. We were given a great end to that Rumble match, but until the final few superstars the match itself was almost pointless.
This year WWE looks set to make the Rumble interesting again.
Instead of the odd few who could win the match, I have no idea who I think could win it. Youâ€™ve got the obvious choices of John Cena and Randy Orton (both had a terrible 2012 and a good start to 2013 could be what WWE wants for them, not to mention Cenaâ€™s apparent match with The Rock at WrestleMania), and those on the verge of the main event. Superstars like The Miz and Dolph Ziggler (a title unification at WrestleMania would be historic) fall into this category. Thereâ€™s also the whisper of back-to-back Rumble victories from Sheamus if WWE wants to continue pushing his star power like they did in 2012. Almost one third of the Royal Rumble competitors could win the match and look strong doing it, but Iâ€™ve got my eye on one superstar in particular â€“ Daniel Bryan.
It seems like wishful thinking, but Iâ€™ve thought about this and I think itâ€™s a genuine possibility.
Team Hell No have been entertaining us since sometime around August/September 2012, and it was a great move on WWEâ€™s part in making their tag team division matter again purely because we couldnâ€™t wait to see what they would do next. But it is obvious (given the Anger Management graduation ceremony we saw on Raw) that WWE plans to split Kane and Bryan up before they become stale and ultimately jump the shark.
Furthermore, Team Rhodes Scholars have been made to look suspiciously weak against the Tag Team Champions in recent weeks; a move I think will see them take the titles from Kane and Bryan in a â€˜shockâ€™ victory.
This leaves the Royal Rumble match for Kane and Bryan to either take out their frustrations on Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow, or each other, depending on how they (in this case) lose their Tag Team titles.
The potential breakdown of Kane and Bryan offers up the possibility of Bryan winning the Rumble match (Kaneâ€™s age leads me to believe he isnâ€™t a possibility), and bringing the reason he needed anger management in the first place full circle (his loss of the World Heavyweight Championship and storyline with AJ led him down this path after all). The follow up from his Rumble win could see him feud with Kane until the Elimination Chamber PPV or move on to build the dream WrestleMania match with CM Punk.
Okay, that last statement is a pipe dream I guess.
CM Punk and The Rockâ€™s rivalry over the WWE Championship, and subsequent argument over just how important the people are in measuring success, has frankly not been as epic as I had anticipated. It has all come down to the numbers 428 (CM Punkâ€™s title reign as of Monday night) and 6 (the number of days before The Rockâ€™s return is declared a success or a failure in the eyes of CM Punk).
Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™m not alone in thinking there would be pipe bombs galore and some classic Rocky catchphrases to go along with this rivalry, but whilst we have gotten both of those things something seems amiss to me.
There doesnâ€™t seem to be any real spark between the two that suggests weâ€™re going to see a great match at Royal Rumble.
Last week we got a throwback to how rivalries were built before it was considered enough to show up on commentary. I was genuinely hoping we would see some more physical contact between the two this week, but instead we got two promos. Punk cut a great promo outlining that The Rock has no chance of beating him because he will not allow it, whilst Rocky did what is typical of him and got the crowd on his side.
Punk was more influential on the mic this week and last week he went head on with his challenger displaying a lack of fear â€“ The Rock is not holding his own against the Best in the World and I think it is taking the level of this match down a level. Even the inclusion of The Shield has been stopped as quickly as it started, since they would now cost Punk the title if they get involved on Sunday.
I just hope this match is as amazing as Iâ€™ve been hoping for since July.
Randy Orton pinned United States Champion Antonio Cesaro following the RKO in a Beat the Clock challenge match (11:36); this was a solid match, but I have no idea why Cesaro had to lose.
Big Show pinned Zack Ryder following the WMD (00:51); I have no idea what this match was supposed to prove. Iâ€™m not the biggest Del Rio fan, but Ryder is nowhere near the standard of ADR. Also, Ryder should not be given TV time over Santino.
Ryback pinned Heath Slater (w/ Jinder Mahal & Drew McIntyre) with Shellshocked (01:21); I was hoping Slater would at least hold his own for a couple of minutes, but Iâ€™m always happy with a Ryback victory.
Dolph Ziggler (w/ AJ & Big E Langston) pinned The Miz after Langstonâ€™s distraction allowed Ziggler to connect with the Zig Zag in a Beat the Clock challenge match (10:56); match of the night. I just wish Miz would learn how to lock in the Figure 4 correctly.
Divas Champion Kaitlyn defeated Alicia Fox following the Spear (02:06); two problems here â€“ 1) Kaitlyn needs new music, and 2) Alicia Fox should not be under contract with WWE.
Sheamus and Wade Barrett fought to a no contest in their Beat the Clock challenge match after the time expired (10:56); another good Beat the Clock match, and I liked the ending of Zigglerâ€™s interference.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio pinned Tensai with a Moonsault (01:31); I actually zoned out for the duration of this match, but it might be because I wish Del Rio hadnâ€™t won the World title on SmackDown. Iâ€™d rather see a slow ascension to Del Rio being a face World Heavyweight Champion.
I thought this was a solid episode of Raw to lead into Royal Rumble. It was a little promo/video package heavy, but I liked it. I could have done without Ryder, Tensai and Alicia Fox being involved but I can live with it. The two key matches for Sunday got their due attention, and it paid off as I can now be psyched for Sunday.
I just want to leave you with two questions heading into Royal Rumble...
Punk or Rock? and
Who will win the 2013 Royal Rumble?