You don’t need to be a smark to notice that last week’s 20th anniversary show was nothing special. Aside from some montages there was no big hoopla. No big guest appearances. It was average at best. The only things that did come out of it were Eve losing the Divas Championship and quitting (to get married and become a trainer or something) and CM Punk continuing to have the edge on the Rock. Punk has come out and been the aggressor on both confrontations so far. He has come out first to essentially tell everyone that the Rock is going to do the same tired schtick he has done for years, and it doesn’t matter because Punk is just going to beat him in the ring. Then the Rock comes out and does the same old schtick, proving Punk right and not hitting quite as hard as he did with Cena last year. Not only that, but Punk went after Rock last week starting a brawl. What kind of heel does that? Against Ryback, Punk was the coward. He ran away whenever possible and looked week. Classic heel form. But now he’s dropping pipe bombs and fighting back again. This is the kind of Punk that grabbed everyone’s attention over a year ago. If only the rest of the show can reach that same level. With one week before the Royal Rumble (where the Rock is expected the beat Punk and Cena wins the rumble) business needs to pick up.
Oh yeah, happy Martin Luther King Day.
Vickie Guerrero kicks off the show (not the start I was hoping for) by going to the ring while being escorted by Paul Heyman (interesting). They were the main people to be dissed by Rock during his concert last week, and are joining forces against him. Heyman even went on to describe Vickie as the best and sexiest GM in WWE history (funny since she isn’t GM). Vickie decides to ban Rock from entering the arena, and will be arrested if he does show up. Vickie is then alerted to the fact that the Rock is outside the arena, and she cuts to the Rock telling the guards that he will get in the ring no matter what. Rock then tells the police to arrest Punk for impersonating a champion, Paul Heyman for not wearing a bra, and that Guerrero has her head up her ass if she thinks she’s keeping him out of the ring. Rock says it’s a matter of when, not if he gets in the ring tonight. Guerrero finished the segment by asking if we smell what the “Vick” is cooking. Not interested.
The card for tonight features the “Beat The Clock Challenge” in which the superstar who wins his match the fastest can choose where he will enter the Royal Rumble. The first match of the challenge puts the American flag waving Antonio Cesaro against the disgruntled Randy Orton. Both men start the match by trying roll up pins, then switching to trading head locks. Cesaro wants the ref to ask Orton if he quits in the middle of a headlock. This match bites and for the most part, Orton is in charge. Seven minutes in (they are keeping a timer on screen) Cesaro puts up Orton for a superplex. Orton fights him off so Cesaro shoves him off the top rope to the outside of the ring. A gut wrench suplex gets a two count as does a swinging body slam. Orton then sets up for the second rope DDT but Cesaro turns it into a jackknife cutter for a 2 count, then hits Orton with an uppercut for another 2 count. Orton rolls out of the ring after being tossed into the ring post, and when Cesaro throws him back in he glances at the clock and Randy takes advantage of the distraction by hitting an RKO to win the match at 11:36. One of those classic Orton matches where the opponent dominates, only to get hit with an RKO out of nowhere to lose the match. Pretty sure 11:36 isn’t going to do it.
Zack Ryder out next to job to Big Show. Show will get a rematch at the Royal Rumble against Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship in another last man standing match. It turns out the only reason Del Rio got the title in the first place was because the Big Show’s contract had expired and it was possible that that would be his last match with the WWE. Show has now agreed to a new contract and while it doesn’t appear that Alberto will lose the title anytime soon, it will be interesting to see where they go with Big Show from here. Brad Maddox hops over the barrier to add commentary (not sure how he gets to without a contract) as Big Show hits Ryder with some punches in the corner, a head butt, a body slam, a chop and finally a KO Punch to end the match. Show then grabs a mic and starts counting to 10 with Ryder still down, showing what will happen to Del Rio. The crowds gives him the “what” chant, setting Show off. He yells back at the crowd and storms off. Maddox takes a picture of himself and Cole before taking off.
Backstage Maddox is still trying to get Paul Heyman help him get a job in the WWE. Instead of berating him like he normally doesn, Heyman says he respects Maddox’s ambition and initiative, and tells Brad he will make his dreams come true. Say what?
In the ring, Ryback is taking on Heath Slater with the rest of 3MB in his corner. Ever see a Ryback match that didn’t involve CM Punk? That’s what this was. After the meathook clothesline, McIntyre jumps in and gets knocked out by Ryback. Ryback then pulls Mahal in and throws him into McIntyre outside the ring. Slater gets hit with Shell Shocked and wins the match. He then grabs the mic and says “Damn, my job is fun.” (WTF!?) He continues to say that he was made for the Royal Rumble and that he will win it and go to WrestleMania. He needs a manager in the worst way.
Backstage, the Rock is still trying to talk his way into the arena. He tells the cops that the people want him in the arena. One cop says that he had tickets for tonight’s show but he had to work instead. Rock was going to try getting the cop’s ticket but Vickie stepped in. Vickie says she’ll lift the ban if he apologizes. Rock says he’ll get in the arena on his own terms and that Vickie still looks horrible. Vickie storms off and the Rock looks like he’s getting the police involved in a plan to get into the arena.
CM Punk in the ring to address the crowd. Yes, there are a couple of cookie puss signs but, based on how they look, the San Jose crowd doesn’t seem to know what that actually means yet. Punk says he holds the WWE Championship more dearly than most people hold their families. He worked half his life to get it and he won’t allow anyone, including the Rock, to take it from him. The Rock is here to entertain and tell jokes while he is here to hurt people and be the champion. Punk says he has made the WWE Championship too important to let the Rock have it, while what is important to the Rock is the people, which is stupid. He says the Rock is almost as proud of being the people’s champion as Punk is of being a real champion. Punk says he chose honest arrogance over hypocritical humility while the Rock foolishly chose the people instead. Punk says you can call the Rock electrifying and entertaining but you can’t call him champion but it takes blood, sweat and tears, and Punk has earned that right. Punk tells the Rock to enjoy the days leading up to the Royal Rumble, spalling hands and winking at fans, because Punk realized that the fans don’t matter. They can’t give the Rock the title and it will stay with CM Punk. Great promo. He was staring daggers through the camera the entire time. Fantastic. Too bad he’s going to lose on Sunday.
Dolph Ziggler out with AJ and Big E in another beat the clock match against the Miz. Miz starts strong with a dropkick and a roll up but can’t get the 3 count. The pace is very fast with a lot of back and forth pin sequences. The crowd is all Ziggler. No wonder they want to turn him face soon. Miz takes out Ziggler’s knee and starts wearing it down. They are really going through with Miz using the figure four. He goes for it but Ziggler pushes him out of the ring. Dolph distracts the ref while Langston shoves Miz into the ring. Ziggler maintains control but with four minutes left to beat Orton’s time, Miz pulls off a couple of surprise roll ups but can’t keep him down. Miz then hits a double axe handle off the top rope for another 2 count. Miz goes for a Skull Crushing Finale but Ziggler rolls him up. Miz then rolls Dolph over for his own pin attempt, grabbing the tight and showing Dolph’s ass in the process (to which Cole says “any means necessary!”). Ziggler kicks out and hits a jumping DDT for a two count. Miz then applies a horrible version of the figure four. I mean really bad. AJ then distracts the ref so Big E can pull Dolph toward the rope to break the hold. Langston then fakes hitting Miz to distract him long enough for Ziggler to land a Zig Zag and take the win with 40 seconds to spare. Very good match and I can’t believe Miz gets the use the figure four. The new time to beat is 10:56.
Back from break, Dr. Shelby is in the ring for an Anger Management graduation ceremony! I know you’re wondering if they are wearing caps and gowns and you’re damn right they are! Bryan even slicked his hair to the side for the occasion. Shelby says Bryan used to freak out if anyone said something about his goat face or how his beard looks like a hotel for rats (burn!), to which Kane calms him down. Shelby says that the top student is named valedictorian, and asks Kane and Bryan who they think it should be. They each say the other should be valedictorian and should share their feelings. They start arguing until Shelby stops them, suggesting that a hug would make them feel better. Shelby continues to say everyone, everywhere should hug, including Cole and Lawler. They then start pointing at random people in the audience making them hug, finally culminating in Kane, Bryan and Dr Shelby having a huge hug session to end the segment. What a way to end anger management. Let’s watch them lose their tag team titles on Sunday due to not getting along.
A much more glammed up Kaitlyn beat Alicia Fox with a spear after a missed high kick from Alicia. Fox actually looked pretty good in the match but she isn’t allowed to win anymore.
Backstage, Heyman sends Punk up to his personal skybox for what he is calling a “Paulbomb” aimed at the Rock. Heyman dedicates his speech at Punk, who is alone in the skybox like he snuck in somehow. He says that when Punk spoke, most of what he said went over the heads of the fans, so he will translate for them by keeping it simple. He says Vince McMahon is so desperate to have someone take the WWE Championship from Punk, that he has turned to the Rock who is just as stupid as the fans are if he thinks he is going to stop Punk’s title run. The Rock then comes out with the police officer’s ticket (which does let him in the arena) and gets in the ring (it does NOT allow him to do that). Heyman starts to make my point, but Rock calls him twinkie tits and makes him leave (I miss twinkies). With Punk still watching, Rock tells Punk this is his last Raw as champion and that despite all the entertaining he will still rip Punk’s face off. Rock promises a dozen times or so that he will beat Punk at the Royal Rumble. At the end of his speech the lights go out and the Shield starts attacking Rock. Triple power bomb and Rock is out. Punk then grabs a mic and says Rock isn’t great enough to beat the best in the world. Rock was spitting blood the entire time. Shiny candy blood. There needs to be a stipulation put in at some point where if there is any outside interference Punk loses the title. Otherwise Punk only loses because the Shield missed their flight or something.
The final beat the clock match puts Sheamus against Wade Barrett. This match is a lot more like the Orton/Cesaro match. I lot of clutching and sizing each other up. If time was a factor why wouldn’t Sheamus at least hint and trying a Brogue Kick right away? With five minutes remaining Barrett is in control but Sheamus hits a couple of running axe handles to take it back. Wade escapes white noise but Sheamus escapes a pump handle slam only for Barrett to duck under the Brogue Kick and hit Sheamus with a side kick to the gut and another one to the face with Sheamus on his knees. With two minutes to go Barrett hits an elbow off the second rope for a two count. Sheamus escapes Wasteland and hits White Noise with just over a minute to go. Sheamus sets Wade up for a Brogue Kick but AJ walks in the ring (with Ziggler and Langston ringside) to distract him. Barrett then hits a swinging side slam on Sheamus and the match continues. Sheamus hits a Brogue Kick with four seconds left but there isn’t enough time to pin him and Dolph Ziggler gets to pick what spots he enters the Royal Rumble at. Why can’t they just say you win the 30th spot in the rumble? Would someone pick anything else? 28? 15? Of course you want to go last. It’s a fine gimmick for the night but now we have to wait for the decision on where Dolph wants to enter? So dumb. Meanwhile I’m kind of annoyed he’ll be going in last. He’s a prime candidate to carry the rumble and be in for over an hour. Now he’ll be last and likely get thrown out last by Cena. Damn shame.
Backstage Dolph and AJ celebrate by making out in front of Vickie (my wife calls this the worst fake kissing ever, and she watches soaps). Ziggler of course goes with 30 but Vickie informs him that he only one the chance to choose between first and second at the rumble (what a twist!). See above for my thoughts on that. Punk and Heyman then run into Vince McMahon backstage and deny their involvement in the Shield incident. Vince then adds the stipulation that I suggested earlier, and if the Shield interferes in the Rock/Punk match CM Punk will be stripped of his title. Rock is soooo winning on Sunday. It would be incredibly epic if Punk retained though (leading to Rock winning at Elimination Chamber of course). Don’t be surprised if Brad Maddox ends up being the referee of the match.
Supermexican and World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio out, again without the car) to take on Tensai (which means buried in Japanese). Del Rio is Kofi Kingston happy right now. Tensai gets all his offense in early but Del Rio gets a boot up as Tensai came running in and it’s all Alberto from there. He gets the crowd chanting as he delivers the enziguri and finishes the match with a moonsalt of all things (that he just barely hits). Del Rio then says that he’ll beat Big Show on Sunday and counts to ten in spanish. Because he is spanish. Hey did you know Alberto Del Rio is from Mexico? Roberto Rodriguez gets another SI chant going and we’re done with wrestling for the night. Best match was Miz/Ziggler (no surprise) but none of them were that great.
It was announced that Bob Backlund will join Mick Foley to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. I’m surprised he wasn’t in there already. He held the title for 6 years for crying out loud!
The show finishes with John Cena addressing the crowd. Yup, that’s all he has to do today. He talks about how Sunday’s are for rest and having fun and makes a Black Ops II reference, admitting that his user name is skidmarks187. This is how the show is ending people! He always explains the Sunday of a girl who went out the night before and works out and hooks up with a fat guy and something about Brett Favre’ing (“and I don’t mean throwing a touchdown”). He then says this Sunday is different because of the Royal Rumble and how great it’s gonna be and blah blah blah. It’s not a promo about him winning. He’s just telling us to watch the event. They don’t do that enough already? Three hours of Raw each week, two hours of Smackdown, Main Event, Saturday Morning Slam. All they do is tell us to buy the next PPV and maybe a couple t-shirts. Anyway Cena wraps it up by saying he’s going to win the Rumble, followed by Sheamus, the Prime Time Players (remember them?), Randy Orton, the Miz, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro and 3MB coming out to do the same. Finally just about everyone on the roster comes out and a brawl starts in the ring. For some reason they go by Rumble rules and try throwing people over the top rope. No reason for this. Sheamus and Cena specifically throw a bunch of guys out. Then a few people are shown trying to get Khali over (again, for no reason) and Ryback completely blends in with the crowd. Very weird ending to a relatively crappy Raw.
The Royal Rumble is this Sunday, and I’ll definitely watch it. Tonight’s show has very little to do with it though.