Tuesday, January 8, 2013

1/7/13 RAW (The Rock Returns)

It's the first RAW of 2013, live from Tampa, FL! We first see a video package highlighting Rock's return, Punk's heel turn on RAW episode #1000, and the tonight's scheduled TLC WWE Title match between Punk and Ryback.

Cena starts things off. We see the "craptastic" end to 2012 with the poo on Ziggler and AJ Lee. There's something electric in the air. We're reminded Cena's gonna be in the Rumble. Ziggler interrupts, flanked by AJ and Big E Langston. Aw, now AJ has a pet name for Ziggler. AJ calls Cena a pathetic, small man. And Cena starts a wave. Unreal. More Cena jokes. OH CRAP, LANGSTON TALKING AGAIN. If he wants to be taken seriously, Langston should just stay silent because he can't cut a promo if his life depended on it. Anyway, Cena wants to face Ziggler now.

John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler: Ziggler seems to bring out some of the best in Cena. I mean, we see more wrestling moves from Cena in these matches than a good 90% of the others. Langston and AJ get involved more than once, so the ref finally ejects the two. Nice simple counter to Cena's five moves of doom. Rocker Dropper gets two. Five Knuckle Shuffle hits. AA countered. Zigzag...only two! No Ziggler superkick. STF countered, jumping DDT from Ziggler for two. Cena rolls through a Ziggler crossbody, AA countered again, Ziggler superkick for two. Awesome spot. Ziggler sleeper. Big ref bump. STF on Ziggler -- and Cena lost his shoe in the process. Lovely. Langston runs back down, hits his finisher on Cena, and preps Ziggler to cover Cena. Second ref runs down. TWO! Cena hits the AA and gets three. Outstanding match to start 2013. ***3/4

Eve Torres vs. Kaitlyn (Divas Title): And for what seems like the billionth time recently, Kaitlyn gets another shot at Eve's title. Four-month feud, Cole says. Wished that Lawler didn't remind us about the Mae Young segment on New Year's Eve. Kaitlyn with the untied shoelace spot and Eve takes advantage. Kaitlyn is deemed the "hybrid diva," yet we're never told what she's exactly a hybrid of. Eve again runs away and the match AGAIN ends in a countout win for Kaitlyn. It's bad enough they did this ending before, but to do it again really pisses me off. I get that it's a heelish way to win, but make it a Falls Count Anywhere match or something now and end this thing. 3/4*

Santino and Ricky Steamboat talk in the back. Barrett comes in; to him, Steamboat's a has-been and Santino is a never-was. Steamboat will be in Santino's corner tonight. Gonna see if the "old man" Dragon still has some power behind that smoke.

Orton reminds everyone that he has also won a Royal Rumble before and plans to do it again this year. 3MB interrupts, so Orton picks Heath Slater to face later tonight. Didn't sound like anyone got the "playing the harp" comment. Luckily, I did.

Team Hell No vs. Team Rhodes Scholars: Daniel Bryan always gets a huge response in Florida. DB worked over again in this one for quite some time. Kane tries to get involved but Cody hits Cross Rhodes on DB for three. Not bad, just not the best. Point was to make Rhodes Scholars look good for a future tag title shot. *1/2

Randy Orton vs. Heath Slater: Fairly straightforward match here. The rest of 3MB gets some shots in behind the ref's back. Orton with a nice superplex and then the usual comeback moves. RKO to Slater and it's over. Mahal and McIntyre attack Orton after the match, but two RKOs end that. *1/2

Wade Barrett vs. Santino Marella: Ricky Steamboat's at ringside. Santino does a vintage Steamboat armdrag to start, but misses the second. Santino with a superkick(?!) of his own to get two. No Cobra tonight. Bullhammer ends things quickly. Steamboat tends to Santino. Barrett looks like he's gonna attack Steamboat but backs off when Steamboat removes the jacket. 1/2*

Sheamus makes fun of 3MB. So I assume he's gonna face someone other than Heath Slater later on.

Antonio Cesaro vs. Great Khali: Miz on commentary. Why is Khali still wrestling in 2013? Cesaro allegedly walked two miles through snow and rain to get to school. Sounds like something my grandpa woulda said. Yeah, the commentary was better than the match. Nice springboard Euro uppercut from Cesaro. Neutralizer on Khali still impresses the heck outta me. Bonus points for both Cesaro moves, but otherwise the match was unwatchable. 1/2*

Brad Maddox still seeking work. Heyman blows off Maddox again. Yup.

Sheamus vs. Jinder Mahal: Main thing here is more of the one-upsmanship between Sheamus and Orton that will escalate into a full-on feud real soon (and Orton will get his wish to turn heel again). Sheamus with more comedy, placing Jinder's hands on Sheamus' ass. Clubbing blows to Jinder and McIntyre. Numbers game gives 3MB control for a little while, but Sheamus takes care of everyone. White Noise and Brogue Kick to Jinder get three. *3/4

CM Punk vs. Ryback (TLC; WWE Title): I still think this match shouldn't have taken place. Punk does the "walk under the ladder" superstition thing on his entrance. Fans still love to chant "GOLD-BERG" at Ryback. Chair in play early on. Ladder's next. Ryback with a suplex to Punk on the ladder. Steel ring steps to Punk. Heyman with his hands over his mouth for a bunch of the match. Punk keeps trying to fight back, but Ryback's booked strong as usual. Announce table's turn! More regular wooden tables are set up on the outside. Punk puts the chair on Ryback's left leg but misses and "tweaks" the left knee. Meathook clothesline hits. No Shellshocked as Punk gets to the outside. Punk moves and Ryback crashes through one of the wooden tables. Punk sets the ladder up and climbs, but Ryback knocks Punk off. Ryback literally inches from the title. Punk knocks Ryback off, but Ryback drops Punk on the ladder. Ladder is really bent now, probably can't climb it. Punk knee in the corner. Punk does it again and goes for the bulldog. Ryback picks Punk up and tosses him through another wooden table. Ryback grabs another ladder and climbs. Punk's still down. Lights go out?! Yeah, the Shield has arrived. Ryback tries to get rid of them, but numbers game too much. Triple powerbomb on the table and the ring steps. Punk slowly up the ladder and grabs the title. Heyman applauds and cries like his own son won his first championship. **3/4

Anyway, back to the show. Punk says he's going back out to deliver a pipebomb promo before Rock does.

More Team Hell No disagreement. Vickie says next week is the duo's 4-month anger management checkup with Dr. Shelby. Dr. Shelby is a monster. No, he's a nerd. MONSTER! NERD! *facepalm*

Match between Del Rio and Show advertised for Smackdown.

Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston: Match probably got cut due to time constraints. Show with a KO punch "out of nowhere" for three. They don't work by the hour, that's for sure. A pointless few seconds of TV because we already know how lethal that KO punch is. N/A

Punk comes back out for an outstanding promo to educate the world on what a pipebomb is: truth and honesty. Heeven throws in the ice cream bars and, in true heel fashion, indirectly plays the "people are obese" card to deprive them of those treats. Punk says he created the anti-hero (ignoring what the whole Austin deal from the Attitude Era was probably supposed to be) and mentions the glass ceiling. Big kudos for Punk saying Tyson Kidd is a workhorse and should be on RAW instead of "Little Jimmy." He mentions the pre-modern era days of Bruno Sammartino holding the title for a couple of decades. Punk says those guys never wrestled on free TV each week, or put their bodies through physically demanding matches like TLC. To Punk, one year for him equals 30 years for the pre-modern era. Definitely. Punk says he's successful in spite of the fans. Mentioning Flair, HBK, and Edge. Punk says these retired guys are weak, dishonest, or liars. But Punk believes he's the best in the world. Punk says there are winners and losers -- people meant for the spotlight and people paying to see the people in the spotlight. Golden. TV guy hops on the apron to tell Punk they have to cut to commercial and to wrap it up, and Punk handles it like a pro in true heel fashion.

Rock's music hits and the fans go NUTS. Rock says Punk is delusional and in 20 days, time's up. More vintage Rock TV-14 jokes. Great, now Punk's a "cookie puss." Rock's back for three reasons: (1) to entertain the people, (2) to stop Punk, and (3) to win the WWE Title. Rock calls Punk "Popeye on crack." Toot toot! "It doesn't matter if you matter!"

Punk doesn't care if Rock's here 1 day a year or 366. He'll still kick Rock's ass. Rock's jabs and insults are all kiddie games to Punk, but Punk says he's in the big leagues swinging for the fences. At the Royal Rumble, Rock finds out that his arms are too short to box with God. More Punk winning. Rock's literally sweating under the lights. Rock wants Punk to get more tattoos on his ass. Left buttcheek: M&M, Snickers, Milky Way, Mounds, but no Almond Joy. Right buttcheek: Rock's size 15 shoe. Rock Bottom to Punk to end the show so the fans can go home happy.

Aaron sidebar for ramblings: It was a decent show. Regarding the TLC match, the crowd enjoyed it and it delivered nicely on the TLC aspect, so I can't say it was a bad match. It didn't have the real big spots like Rollins took at the TLC PPV, but let's face it: the weapon spots all stung. I hope I don't need to say this again, but this was horrible for Ryback's alleged "push." Shield interference was one of the few ways this match could have ended without Ryback losing clean, especially with Heyman wanting Maddox out of the picture. I don't think a lot of people believed Ryback would even win this time, not with Punk and Rock built up all these months. Besides, Ryback thrown in the title picture at this point would hurt the PPV advertising. So luckily, my friends attending the Royal Rumble PPV later this month will be happy that Punk and Rock will go down.

Frankly, Ryback is a one-trick pony. He's the jacked-up dude with a hoarse voice. Ryback reminds people of a guy with a huge win streak in WCW and wearing singlets that are made by the same guy who does RVD's gear (seriously). Ryback says one catchphrase (or a variation of it) and uses probably four or five power moves. Winning all those squash matches against two or three jobbers worked because it allowed fans to buy into this act.

Given the circumstances around the time of the Hell in a Cell PPV (Cena injured), I don't think Vince didn't made a mistake in throwing Ryback into the WWE Title picture then. Vince thought it would be great to capitalize on Ryback's popularity. I had no problem with the finish to that match because it kept Ryback strong on a booking standpoint. The problem lies with the repeated title rematches. Punk wasn't losing to Ryback -- not yet, anyway. It could have been better for the Shield to debut at Hell in a Cell, perhaps coming out from underneath the ring. Not sure if they were necessarily ready at the time, though. Either way, Ryback could have engaged in a feud with Maddox and/or the Shield. Those guys would be the distraction for Ryback while Punk moved on to greener pastures. Heck, have Punk face Team Hell No for all I care. I especially don't mind Punk and Daniel Bryan facing off again.

Rock and Punk delivered on their promos. And that, my friends, is another reason why Punk is a main eventer. The Rock Bottom ending didn't matter (no pun intended) because Punk clearly won the "promo-off." As Punk truthfully said, Rock stuck with his catchphrases and jokes that he's used for all these years. It was fresh and funny back then, and the fans love it now only because Rock isn't always around. While people like Chris Jericho have done something similar to Punk, Punk delivers his promos so convincingly and intensely, you seem to have no choice but to buy in. The "arms are too short to box with God" comment summed up the extraordinary mic skills Punk possesses and proved to be the ideal pipebomb parting shot. Right now in WWE, Punk is proving that he is the best in the world.

I still believe Rock is the man to end Punk's title reign only because there appears to be no other Superstar lined up to dethrone the champ. Cena's had a zillion chances and failed. Why would another opportunity make me think otherwise?

Would the Shield interfere during Rock vs. Punk? Right now, it's all but guaranteed. I see a ref bump, then Shield coming down to beat Rock up. After a few seconds, Ryback comes down for revenge on the Shield -- not necessarily to help Rock. Ryback or Rock will likely also deck Heyman during this chaos. Rock delivers a Rock Bottom (perhaps the third or fourth by that point) to get the three-count.

Cena can also win the Rumble match to set up a near-3-month promo feud to hype a rematch at WM 29 because that year-long "Once in a Lifetime" feud made a lot of money for WWE. Punk could face Undertaker, should the Deadman compete at WM. Since Lesnar is also reportedly participating at WM, people say Ryback should face him and win in another "pass the torch" moment for a new "Next Big Thing." Seeds have already been planted for a Sheamus/Orton storyline, and we should also see Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio feud. Ziggler may consider cashing in MITB at WM, should he not win the Rumble. I don't care if it's a singles match against Big Show, a triple threat including Del Rio, or whatever. Ziggler deserves to be World Heavyweight Champion.

A lot still up in the air, and WWE can always bait-and-switch things. But make most, if not all, of the above scenarios happen.

Big E Langston needs to stay silent. The guy can't cut a promo if his life depended on it. Once I heard his first words on the mic at an NXT taping, I facepalmed. To me, Langston made Eli Cottonwood look like a polished mic veteran. And besides, Eli gave us a reason to talk about mustaches. On the plus side, I love Langston's finisher, and he has the power to hit it on just about anyone.

Finally, I want to mention one thing about Zack Ryder. The guy's done real well to get TV time, but with all these "snubs" and other stuff that WWE has seemingly done to him (editing Ryder's YouTube show being another), it looks like seeds could be planted for a heel turn. The latest? Ryder getting snubbed on WWE's top 5 list of most followed Superstars on Twitter. At the time, Ryder had about 100,000 more followers than Miz, yet WWE ranked Miz 5th and Ryder wasn't on the list. Ryder voiced his displeasure on Twitter, which he has been doing a lot of. I think the heel turn would work if WWE really wants to push the guy; otherwise, Ryder will forever be in the midcard. Kane and Eve all but buried Zack's face character in 2012. Depressing to see.

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