Mr. McMahon opens Raw and talks about tonight’s card. Big Show interrupts him to complain about losing the World Title. Alberto Del Rio interrupts and challenges him to a rematch tonight. Show says they’ll have their rematch at the Royal Rumble. Ricardo Rodriguez teases throwing a bucket of water on Show, but it’s only confetti. Show and Del Rio “brawl” and Del Rio gets the upper hand with a hurricanrana and a kick to Show’s skull that knocks him out of the ring.
^McMahon opening the 20th Anniversary of Raw was very fitting. Big Show was fantastic on the mic through the entire segment. The crowd absolutely loved Del Rio. Del Rio looks better with the green and white trunks(improves his appearance as a face); promoting his heritage will help get him over even further. A lot of people might not have expect Raw to start with the World Heavyweight Championship rivalry, but I think starting your show with one world title situation and ending it with the other makes both seem equally important. Strong opening segment for Show and ADR.
Wade Barrett defeats Randy Orton with the Bull Hammer.
^I guess I should have seen Barrett’s clean victory coming. He has jobbed to Orton so many times that it should’ve been obvious that he wouldn’t this ONE random time. I think 2013 can be a big year for Wade Barrett if he continues on this path, but that could also mean he has a great run for the WHOLE year as IC Champ. What better way to establish yourself as the top guy than to dominate the mid card and THEN move into the World Title scene a year or so later? Isn’t that how it used to work with guys like Bret Hart, HBK, Austin, Trips, and the Rock? Good match here between Orton and Barrett.
Backstage, Booker T tells Eve she will face Kaitlyn for the title tonight, and that she will be stripped of the title if she tries to run away or get disqualified. Eve tries to make a pass at Booker and he laughs at her. She slaps Teddy Long and storms off.
^Booker T feels like a carbon copy of Teddy Long. The segment would’ve been more effective with Eve getting the message from Teddy on Booker’s behalf and then flipping out. Some would say Booker has good acting skills, but I’m not one of those people.
Team Hell No(THN) is shown with Dr. Shelby from earlier today. He brings in Rhodes and Sandow to antagonize the champions. He gets angry with them and has Dbry and Kane get rid of them. They all chant together.
^Dr. Shelby segments were fun when THN first formed. This segment was funny at first but then became over the top and not really all that funny for me when Rhodes and Sandow were brought in.
Kane squashes Damien Sandow in under two minutes.
^So Sandow was originally put over as someone who was tough to beat, and this is what we get now? Squash matches are generally okay on Raw, but they’re not okay when they’re less than two minutes long, and they’re certainly not okay when it comes to an important rivalry like one for the tag team gold. If this was designed to put over Kane’s dominance, we’ve seen it before. Makes me wonder how he lost clean to Drew Mcintyre back in the day(EC 2010).
Mick Foley is introduced as the first inductee into the WWE HOF Class of 2013. Foley comes to the ring and the Shield come down to attack him. Ryback makes the save, and he is joined by Randy Orton and Sheamus. Ryack is interviewed by Josh Matthews after the fact and says that he wants the Shield.
^Foley deserves this induction as much as the next guy. I was annoyed that we didn’t even get a video package like they usually do; I assume it will come later on. The Shield attacking a legend? How original. I was half expecting a six man tag to be booked for the Rumble, but you can’t crowd the card too much with the Rumble match itself happening. Ryback was decent on the mic, but the feed me more chants aren’t my favorite. It is nice to see him getting over with the crowd though. I expect to see this Ryback/Shield feud go past the Rumble and possibly until WrestleMania if there are no significant changes between now and then.
Kaitlyn defeats Eve to become the new Divas Champion.
^Without exaggerating, this was possibly the best told story in a Divas match that I’ve seen since Beth Phoenix was last in a ring. Congrats to Kaitlyn, and I hope she has some tough competition and good rivalries with her run as champion.
Brodus Clay is interviewed in the back. He says Punk’s pipebomb from last week is about to blow up in his face.
^I actually like that WWE took words from Punk’s promo about Clay and turned it into something significant. Sometimes the best booking comes in the most simple forms. Guy A insults Guy B in passing when he’s making a point, and Guy B takes offense and we get a match from it. Works for me!
CM Punk defeats Brodus Clay with the anaconda vice. Punk shares “facts” after the match with the audience and talks about beating Clay, being champ for 421 days, and the Rock not leaving the Rumble as WWE Champion.
^As much as I don’t like Brodus Clay, he held his own quite well in this match. These two didn’t exactly have luchador style chemistry, but the pace and the back and forth “wrestling moves” by Punk and the “power moves” by Brodus made for a nice matchup. I like seeing Punk win using the vice, even if it is due to the fact that he can’t lift Brodus.
Mick Foley and the Rock share a moment backstage. Vickie interrupts them for being loud and asks if they have anything to say. Mick is shocked when Rock says nothing. Rock tells Mick that there is a time and a place for everything.
^I love a good vintage moment, and I loved the Rock N Sock Connection back in the day! I really hope WWE is able to recreate that sort of stuff again where we are talking about things from 2013 in the year 2027 or so. On a side note, I NEVER thought we would see Mick Foley inducted into the Hall of Fame before the Rock. I always picture Rock going in shortly after Austin, but that just hasn’t happened yet.
Sheamus takes on the 3MB in an over the top rope challenge and loses to Heath Slater. Sheamus takes them out with brogue kicks after the match.
^So now Sheamus and Orton were both defeated tonight? Interesting, but I don’t see Sheamus “losing” because of three guys being the same as Orton’s clean loss. Sheamus will bounce back, but I hope he does something a little more interesting between now and his next World Title Reign. I only say that because his “buildup” to winning the Rumble last year was atrocious(matches with Jack Swagger every other week over the course of four months).
John Cena is interviewed and he talks about the 20th Anniversary of Raw as well as his match with Dolph Ziggler later tonight.
^Cena loves to be the poster boy for WWE and hype all their stuff, and it’s not a bad thing. He does it very well, even if people do consider him to be a bit corny.
The Miz has Ric Flair as his guest on MizTV. They are interrupted by Antonio Cesaro. After a verbal exchange, Cesaro goes to leave but Flair stops and attacks him. Miz hits the skull crushing finale on Cesaro and then applies the figure four leglock.
^I loved this entire segment. The interaction between Miz and Flair was great, and the rivalry between Miz and Cesaro has me very excited for their potential matchup(Rumble, maybe?). Ric Flair is a legend and should be acting as a manager for someone. My only suggestion is that they NOT do a heel turn for him when he starts managing someone; it’s been done TOO many times already.
Daniel Bryan forces Cody Rhodes to tap out to the No-Lock in just over one minute.
^Just like Kane and Sandow, this match had the potential to be exceptional. Then we got a one minute match. Things like this with important rivalries is what makes me question how much WWE writers actually care about real HYPE build for pay per views. Why would the casual fan want to see THN take on Rhodes and Sandow AGAIN at the Rumble after watching each of them get crushed so quickly on Raw? To me, it’s bad booking.
A filmed clip is shown of an enraged Eve, and she quits WWE.
^The rumors were true. Eve wants to take a break from WWE. I hear the schedule is pretty grueling, and so I can’t really blame her.
AJ and Big E Langston reflect on “romantic” moments in Raw history. Ziggler concludes the segment saying that tonight will be the greatest show stealing performance in the history of Raw.
^Reliving some of those wedding segments was extremely painful. I’m so glad Billy and Chuck’s wedding was on Smackdown and we didn’t have to relive it here. Once again, I love the fact that Dolph Ziggler is being allowed to speak on TV; adding his charisma to his wrestling ability makes him one of the top five overall regular performers in WWE.
John Cena defeats Dolph Ziggler in a steel cage match. Cena pins Ziggler after an AA.
^This match was awesome. The back and forth battling, Cena doing his “overcome the obstacles” routine, and the ironic twist of Langston not letting Cena escape the cage so he gets a pinfall victory were all perfect elements to make this a solid main event. I stated last week that I wanted to see Ziggler get a clean pin on Cena soon, and this wouldn’t have been the right match to do it in with all the potential interference. There will be more opportunities for Ziggler in the future, as I doubt this is the last time we see these two face off.
The Rock does his concert. He first sings about Paul Heyman, and then brings out Vickie Guerrero so he can sing about her. Then he calls out CM Punk. Rock gives Punk his own facts about the situation and Punk rushes the ring. Punk and Rock brawl outside the ring as officials try to break them up to end the show.
^Like Smackdown, Rock was better to me than he was on last week’s edition of Raw. Maybe it was “mic rust” of some sort? Regardless, the Rock was hilarious when he needed to be, and he was intense when he needed to be. I LIKE this rivalry with Punk, and I’m very excited for their match in two weeks. Ending the show with the WWE Championship makes sense, because Raw is the flagship show and the WWE Title is the flagship World Championship. Awesome ending to the show!
I liked the flashback videos to old Raws, and I liked that they didn’t pack the show full of legends and take away from too much of the wrestling; they already did that with Raw 1000, and doing it again would have been overkill. I enjoyed nearly every match with the exception of Dbry/Rhodes and Kane/Sandow, but even the backstage segments weren’t too bad most of the night. For this week, I’ll rate the show as being marginally above average and tell you that it’s worth checking out if you haven’t seen it yet!
I won’t have another column until the Raw Analysis next week, and that’s because I won’t catch any of the other shows this week until I’m back in town Sunday. Until next time, you’ve been ThunderStruck!
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