As entertaining as the Royal Rumble was on Sunday, it fell victim to predictability. The means to the end weren’t necessarily what we expected, but the Rock is still the WWE Champion and John Cena is still lined up to face him at WrestleMania. What the WWE needs more than anything else right now is the unexpected. There is plenty of room for that too. Who is behind the Shield? Only one option is predictable (Punk) while almost anyone else would create a stir. The point is that anyone can be put in charge as long as it goes somewhere. What I’m afraid of is that we’re heading toward another group PPV in the Elimination Chamber, which means that there doesn’t necessarily need to be much done with regards to building feuds. Just 5 guys that want each respective title. With three weeks until then, the only things currently going on are Chris Jericho’s return (which is great news) and Vince McMahon’s evaluation of Paul Heyman (which will either be very good or very bad).
But forget all that because Raw is in Vegas tonight there is Raw Roulette! Two wheels. One of superstars and one of stipulations. Anything can happen! As long as it’s relatively generic at least. The first match announced puts Antonio Cesaro against Randy Orton with a special guest referee.
The first man in the ring however is former WWE Champion CM Punk, who is furious over losing his title at the Royal Rumble. He says that his streak should still be active because he beat Rock in the middle of the ring and that the restart shouldn’t have been allowed. He says he didn’t need help winning his matches like the rock did (obviously not true) and that he was screwed worse than Bret Hart was in Montreal. He’s getting a ton of heat here. He says he’s going to crash the rocks celebratory party tonight when Vince McMahon comes out. He says that an anonymous source will provide a tape proving that Punk was aware of a plot orchestrated by Paul Heyman involving the Shield. This all gets into Heyman’s performance review, in which he could be fired tonight (not cool).
On to the Orton/Cesaro match. Things aren’t looking to good for Antonio because the Miz is the special guest referee. Miz stays impartial early on as both men get their blows in. Orton starts taking control with a back drop onto the outside barrier, but Cesaro comes back and they start trading uppercuts. Antonio gets the upper hand until Randy tosses him over the top rope outside the ring again. From there match starts to drag for a while until Cesaro takes control with a swinging power slam. He tries it again but Orton slips out and does the old “two clotheslines and a slam.” Cesaro hits a flying uppercut however for a close two count, and Cesaro starts arguing with Miz. Antonio then starts punching Orton in the corner and Miz pulls Cesaro back to stop him. With Orton down, Miz and Cesaro argue. Antonio starts to go back to Orton but Miz pulls him back to keep arguing. He keeps Cesaro’s attention until Orton can get up, hit the RKO and pin Cesaro to win the match. Absolutely average match from start to finish. After the match, Miz helps Cesaro up only to hit him with a Skull Crushing Finale before heading out. What a sore loser.
Backstage with the roulette wheel, Ryback is challenged to “make me laugh.” No idea what that means but as far as random matches go this is incredibly staged. So Ryback, in his home town, is forced to compete against the Prime Time Players in making Matt Striker laugh the most. The PPT joke; “What did the woman say to Matt Striker when he asked her out on a date? Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Getting a little tired of their act. For his joke, Ryback just attacks the PTP, hitting Titus O’Neil with a Meathook clothesline and Shell Shocked (get it?) Striker declares Ryback the winner, and then gets Shell Shocked as well. Everyone, including the announcers, loves it. Why did this need to exist?
The next roulette match gives Wade Barrett the chance to face an opponent at his choosing. Naturally he picks Bo Dallas, the NXT wrestler who threw Barrett out of the Rumble. Barrett makes sure to let the audience know about this, essentially selling him to us. Barrett tries to push Dallas around but Bo turns it around with a series of arm drags and a dropkick. Wade lands a side kick and starts administering the beating he intended. After stomping him down, Barrett moves in for the Bull Hammer elbow, but Dallas hits a big body slam instead and gets the surprise win. Bo’s push continues with a well paced and well executed match.
Backstage Cody Rhodes spun the wheel and will face Royal Rumble winner John Cena in a match that has no stipulations. Wasn’t that the big feature of this show? After Cena tosses Cody around for a couple of minutes, Rhodes grabs the mic, says “this is a waste of Cody Rhodes” and starts to leave the ring. Cena has none of it though, bringing him back in, hitting the 5 knuckle shuffle and Attitude Adjustment to win in about three minutes. Total squash match. Rhodes was right. Cena grabs the mic after the match and calls winning the Royal Rumble the first step toward choosing his opponent at WrestleMania. He says that the WWE Championship will either be held by CM Punk or the Rock (how’s that?) Cena talked up not being able to beat Punk and how bad he wanted to beat Rock last year. He makes the case that he’d have a better chance at winning the World Heavyweight Championship (take that Del Rio!), but decides to go after the WWE Championship instead (because it’s the one that matters and we know he’s facing the Rock anyway). He again says he’ll face either Punk or Rock (giving away Elimination Chamber?) when the Shield come out and attack Cena. John gets pummeled until Sheamus comes out and he gets the same. Finally Ryback comes out and started cleaning house. Shield comes back at Ryback, knocking him into the steel steps and ramming Sheamus into the ring post (so they say). Shield then goes back to work on Cena, hitting the triple power bomb and leaving with Cena, Sheamus and Ryback all down. So I guess that will go somewhere.
Back to the wheel! Brodus Clay and Tensai are assigned to compete in a lingerie pillow fight. Tensai leaves but since nobody wants to see that (including Tensai, Vickie and Brodus), Brodus spins the challenge wheel and gets a dance off. Clay is way to happy about it as Cole giggles at the idea of two fatties in women’s undergarments. Once they get out of the ring, it is revealed that Brodus never told Tensai, and he sure did come out in lingerie. Brodus then starts dancing the same way he always does, but Tensai is too embarrassed to dance. Lawler tells him that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and Tensai starts doing every cheesy dance you can imagine. Watch in the back is who else but Ron Simmons, who delivers an always appropriate “DAMN!” moving on.
Alberto Del Rio gets put into to a body slam challenge against the Big Show. Alberto says that anything can happen in Vegas and goes out. When did this show become a Las Vegas commercial? As Del Rio came down the ramp it became official, the scarf is his version of Mysterio’s mask. They trade blows right away and after about five seconds Del Rio gets hit with a KO punch. Show knocks out Ricardo and duct tapes Del Rio’s hands to the second rope. Rodriguez tries to protect Alberto but gets knocked around by Big Show instead while Del Rio watches helplessly. It goes for a good while too. The final blow is a KO Punch knocking out Ricardo. He hits Del Rio with one more punch, leaving the ring with both of them out cold.
Time to exploit the Divas! The champion Kaitlyn goes against Tamina in regular gear, while the rest of the ladies are dressed as showgirls outside the ring in what will be a lumberjill match. These are definitely the two most sound wrestlers the Divas division has right now, yet their match was scrapped from the Royal Rumble card due to time constraints. Nobody cares though (especially JBL), and after a decent start all of the Divas get in the ring for no reason and start fighting. Kaitlyn and Tamina just sit back and watch, knowing full well how stupid that was. JBL thanks whoever cued the music to move on.
Perfect time for the Rock to come out and address the crowd. It’s really weird seeing him hold the belt. Doesn’t seem right. He talks about how important the title is and how this is the proudest moment of his career. He takes time to thank the fans, making it seem like he overcame a lot to get to this point when in reality he had two matches over the course of a year and decided he wanted a title shot and was given one. He says the days of Punk being a champion are over, and makes fun of Punk’s tattoos and throws in twinkie tits crack about Heyman as well. Punk then spoils the celebration, like he said he would, saying that the title was handed to him just like everything else and that Punk’s run was the only reason it matters right now. Punk says Rock should give the title back and apologize for tarnishing it. Rock says if Punk had any balls he’d come down the ramp and take it, or he can stand on the stage “like a punk ass bitch.” Punk, not in his ring gear, heads down the ramp but then backs up, saying he’ll be a punk ass bitch because its cool to swear now. He says he won’t do things on the Rock’s terms, saying he’ll let Rock have a rematch on any tour date on Punk’s schedule, finally settling on Elimination Chamber. Punk repeats that it’s not his rematch because he didn’t lose at the Rumble. Rock agrees to the match and calls Punk a bitch one more time before asking if we smell what he’s cooking. So I guess there won’t be an elimination chamber match for the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber. Interesting (and spoiled earlier by Cena).
Back from the break, Sheamus is going against Damien Sandow in a tables match. It’s all Sheamus early, with Sandow’s only offense coming from escaping the ring. Finally Damien hits a dropkick and we have a real match. Sandow pulls out a table, but Sheamus takes it and throws it at him. Sandow then drops Sheamus’ shoulder on the table, exploiting the injury he suffered earlier from the Shield. From there it’s all about Sandow working the arm. Sheamus stops Damien from throwing him into a table and tries to Brogue Kick Sandow off the apron onto a table outside the ring. Sandow dodges him, leaving Sheamus on the apron. Sandow goes to push him off but Sheamus leaps over the top rope for a shoulder tackle instead. This is easily the match of the night. After hitting the elbow of disdain, Sandow puts Sheamus on a table and climbs to the top rope. Sheamus beats him down however, propping Sandow on his shoulders and running Sandow through a table in the corner to win the match. Never saw a tables match end that way before. Great match.
How else to you follow a great match but with a karaoke contest between Zack Ryder and the Great Khali. Khali doesn’t even read the words to Shawn Michaels’ entrance music, making noises that kinda sound like he’s saying Sexy Boy. 3MB comes out to make fun of them and declare themselves the rock stars of the WWE. Drew McIntyre does air guitar and gets chopped by Khali, leading to Khali and Ryder beating up 3MB, ending with Hornswaggle connecting on a splash from the top rope on Slater. Another segment, another five minutes of my life I can’t have back.
Crazy lights Jericho in the ring coming off his return last night in the rumble. He talks about how happy he is to be back and thanks the fans for the attention. He also manages to throw all his catch phrases in before Dolph Ziggler comes out with his entourage. Dolph brags about eliminating Jericho in the rumble and wonders why Chris is back after he got him fired by beating him six months ago. Jericho calls AJ a little puppy and says the “E” in Big E stands for his bra size. Vickie Guerrero jumps in and says she hired him back (is she a face now?) and puts them in a strange bedfellows match. So now they have to team up against Team Hell No. Interesting. The match starts with Ziggler avoiding tagging Jericho in until Chris eventually tags himself in. It’s a lot like the early stages of Kane and Bryan as a team. Jericho then pushes Bryan into Kane, with Kane blaming Daniel for hitting him. They pushing with Kane eventually taking Bryan down. Ziggler tags himself in, so Jericho hits Kane and runs off, making it look like it was Zigger. Dolph gets chokeslammed and Team Hell No wins.
Bryan and Kane continue arguing as they cut to the newest member of the WWE Hall of Fame, Trish Stratus. Well deserved for sure.
On to the main attraction of the night in Paul Heyman’s employee evaluation. Before Heyman comes out, Vince says that CM Punk has been escorted out of the arena. Heyman then tentatively enters the ring and offers to shake Vince’s hand. McMahon does, but sanitizes his hands afterwords. Paul again states that he has nothing to do with Brad Maddox or the Shield. Vince then asks him if he has ever lied, to which Heyman says that he lies every day because he is a promoter and that is how you stay alive in this business (good answer) but swears he is not lying now. Heyman adds that he wants to be there, and if it takes being an honorable man then that is what he will be. Vince finally gets to the footage, which is from a few weeks ago. It shows Heyman backstage with Brad Maddox, telling the cameraman to turn the camera off. He doesn’t, and Heyman explains how Punk and Heyman found him and paid for his services against Ryback. He details that Maddox kept coming back for more as opposed to the Shield, who waited to hear back from Heyman after being paid for a job. The Shield then come up behind Maddox and gets beater up by them. So Brad Maddox submits the footage to McMahon, proving Heyman was behind both Brad Maddox and the Shield. A “you got busted” chant starts as Heyman says that isn’t him in the video and that it is easy to impersonate his thick New York jewish accent. Vince doesn’t buy it, and is about to fire Heyman when Brock Lesnar comes out! He walks into the ring, sends Heyman to the corner and, despite warnings from both McMahon and Heyman, gives Vince and F-5. Heyman is a wreck as the duo leave the ring to ECW chants.
Awesome ending to a horrible Raw. Lesnar coming back now comes after rumor spread that he extended his contract with the WWE through WrestleMania 31. So now that he’s back, what happens with Punk and Heyman? Do they become a stable? To they fight for Heyman’s attention? There are suddenly a lot of options. As long as Lesnar hangs around this month of course. This episode of Raw may not have been big on wrestling, but the ending did provide the unpredictability they sorely needed.