The show begins the way every show should…with the WWE Champion CM Punk. He sits down Indian-style in the middle of the ring to cut his promo. Punk puts over the Royal Rumble Pay Per View this Sunday night. He calls Raw GM John Laurinaitis a failure. He says this is a fact and that he found it on Wikipedia. Punk says Laurinaitis “sucks at life.” He shows the clip from last week where Laurinaitis admits that he will screw CM Punk in his title match at the Rumble. Punk says it’s going to be hard for Laurinaitis to referee his match with two broken arms. He calls Laurinaitis out to the ring and wants him to say things to his face. He asks him to take his balls out of his purse. I don’t really need to add any witty commentary to a CM Punk promo because it’s already so good. Instead of seeing a Laurinaitis entrance, John Cena’s music hits. Cena is still “embracing the hate” as he is angry and intense. Punk says he didn’t want John the boy scout to come out. It’s been far too long since we’ve seen Punk vs. Cena arguing on the mic. Their promos are epic. Cena says that Laurinaitis will come out to the ring, he will give Zack Ryder a rematch, he will give Cena a match with Kane, and he will resign as General Manager. Punk and Cena begin to argue as Laurinaitis finally comes out. Laurinaitis says he stands by what he said last week and wont be intimidated by either guy. Punk wants him to come into the ring. Laurinaitis says he’s the boss, or something like that. He says that Ryder will face Kane, and if Cena gets involved Ryder will never get another shot at the US title. Laurinaitis says Punk and Cena will team up in a match right now. Vickie Guerrero comes out yelling “excuse me.” Ziggler and Swagger are with her. Ziggler says that Punk shouldn’t be worried about Laurinaitis, and that he should be worried about him. He says Laurinaitis doesn’t need to screw Punk, he will beat him on his own. Ziggler spoke very slowly and clearly…which I don’t like. His fast promos are much better. That’s what makes him unique. If someone backstage told him to slow down then they are an idiot. Swagger’s promo skills fail in comparison to Ziggler’s as he says “Cena you’re dead meat.” Good one Swagger. Your mic skills + your lisp + your weekly botches = overrated.
WWE Champion CM Punk and John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler and United States Champion Jack Swagger w/ Vickie Guerrero- Cena and Ziggler start the match. Why would they do that? They aren’t currently in a feud, which means this makes no sense. Such little things could add so much to the match psychology. Cena uses a headlock take-down, and a shoulder block, before tagging in Punk. Punk is wrestling in shorts. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I think it’s a little more amateur than the ring trunks are. Punk goes for the Go To Sleep, but Ziggler rolls out. Laurinaitis is sitting with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler while texting. He doesn’t look up at the match one time. Back from commercial Cena is in the ring with Ziggler. Ziggler does something similar to a Ric Flair strut, then tags in Swagger. I guess that means Cena is now dead meat. Uh oh. Swagger is angry. He stomps away at Cena and goes for a pin. Why would stomps be enough to pin a guy? Please only use pin falls for impactful moves that you want the audience to believe are good enough to beat someone with. Now that Swagger attempted a pin fall on stomps I don’t think any of his moves will appear to be impactful the rest of the match. Eventually Ziggler is tagged back in and uses multiple elbow drops on Cena. He does sit ups against Cena’s body. I love that spot. He stomps Cena in the corner. So many stomps so little time. Swagger is tagged back in and does the Swagger Bomb. Then he goes for a pin fall, which doesn’t matter because apparently every move is worthy of a pin fall. Cena recovers and hits the Attitude Adjustment out of nowhere. That made no sense. He hits a power move after being beaten on the entire match? Nothing in this match makes sense. Cena gets the hot tag to Punk. Punk will save the match. Double Knees in the corner, bulldog, missed GTS, kick to the head, near fall. Swagger breaks up the pin, so Cena comes in to knock him to the outside. Swagger uses an Ankle Lock on the outside but Cena counters with the STF. Punk goes for the elbow drop off the top, but Laurinaitis hops up on the ring apron. It’s the first time he’s looked up away from his phone the entire match. That’s pretty funny. Punk knocks Laurinaitis off the apron. Ziggler rolls Punk up and gets the pin fall for the win. Punk picks the mic up. Punk says he wants Laurinaitis to be a “WWE Superstar” for one time in his life. He wants to face him tonight. Laurinaitis accepts. So we get a gimmick CM Punk vs. John Laurinaitis match later on.
It’s time for Chris Jericho’s talk show the Highlight Reel! The lights go out, light up blue jacket, and here comes Jericho. Jerry Lawler says that Chris Jericho has officially been entered into the Royal Rumble. Michael Cole says it’s been four years since we’ve seen the Highlight Reel. Here we go! Chris Jericho picks up the mic….then he whispers shhhhhh to the crowd. He is about to speak, but stops to point to some fans. Then he gets an idea. He puts the mic down, yells hold on, and runs to the back. He comes back out with the t-shirt gun! He teases the crowd and never fires a single shirt. He grabs the camera! The old countdown clock from his old days counts down on his Jeri-tron 5000 monitor. It shows a video package of Jericho’s entire career. Jericho tells the crowd shhhhhh once again. Then he speaks!!!! The crowd pops big time when his voice is heard. “This Sunday at the Royal Rumble, it’s going to be the end of the world as you know it.” The lights go out as he poses with his blue jacket. After 4 weeks he delivers one line. And a very important line it was. Jericho’s silence is likely over. There is a big chance that he wins the Royal Rumble this week. After that he will need to speak to hype his Wrestlemania feud. I personally would love to see this go on for a lot longer. It would take months for this storyline to get old to me. It’s the thing I most look forward to each week. After a lot of thought I now think that Jericho will win the Royal Rumble. He has a 50% chance. Sheamus has a 48% chance. Michael Cole has a 1% chance. Triple H has a 1% chance. I see nobody else having a chance. I hope that everyone is eliminated and that Jericho comes in at #30. That way he doesn’t have to do anything to win. The t-shirt gun idea was hilarious tonight, and it’s what I’ll most remember.
A new Royal Rumble “all about the numbers” video highlight package airs. It’s the same old package they air every single year with a new woman voicing it over. I’m so sick of seeing these same statistics every single year. Let’s take a look at what the package said, because it’s highly important. 31 Hall of Famers have apparently been in the Rumble. 695 total entrants. 39 Shawn Michaels eliminations is the all time record. Not far behind is Kane who has thrown out 35, with a record 11 eliminations in 2001. 194,107 lbs is the total weight to have competed. Who cares? In case your wondering (which your not) that’s 430 Big Shows!!!! 421,833 members of the WWE Universe have been live in person at the Royal Rumble! The stats are getting more and more useless. 62:12 is Rey Mysterio’s record breaking longest appearance. 3 Stone Cold victories are the most ever. Since the WWE doesn’t like to let guys win the Rumble multiple times, it’s getting to the point where everybody has won a Rumble at least once. Back in the day when Hogan, Michaels, and Austin were winning multiple Rumbles it was a more prestigious list. :02 The Warlord held the record for shortest time ever….until 2009 when Santino Marella lasted :01. Yawn. 2 women have been in the Rumble. They put all of the focus of Beth Phoenix and not Chyna. The #1 entrant has produced the same number of winners as the #30 entrant.. #27 has the most winners with 4. Since 1993 55% of winners have won the championship at Wrestlemania. Is that all? I was just starting to get into it.
In the back Zack Ryder is with Eve. Mick Foley walks up and tells Ryder that he can beat Kane. They have a Falls Count Anywhere match next. Eve says that Ryder doesn’t have to do this. Ryder says he does. Cena walks up. Ryder tells him to stay out of it so he gets his US title shot. That’s all they used Mick Foley for? Couldn’t they have saved him a trip and not flown him in this week? Or was that angle pre-taped last week?
Falls Count Anywhere: Zack Ryder vs. Kane- Ryder attacks Kane. Kane tosses him down and kicks him. Big boot off the apron and into the announce table. Kane follows Ryder outside and slams his head down on the floor. He kicks and punches at Ryder’s taped up ribs. Kane picks Ryder up and drives his ribs into the turnbuckle multiple times. It looks like Ryder is going to get squashed for the second straight week. Kane throws Ryder into the ring steps. Eve Torres comes down to ring side. Kane drives Ryder’s ribs into the announce table. Commercial. We come back to see Ryder being thrown around some more. Off the steps and off some other stuff. I’m highly bored watching the same thing over and over. Kane uses the face claw, but lets go. Then he tosses Ryder over the barricade to the concrete floor. They fight around the sound equipment. Ryder throws a case at Kane, but it does nothing. Kane pulls the wraps off Ryder’s ribs then tosses him onto the steel ramp. Now Ryder has been thrown across the WWE logo on the stage. Eve is horrified. The crowd is dead. I am going to use the bathroom now. Please stand by………….look’s like I didn’t miss anything. Ryder is still being thrown around. Kane choke slams Ryder through the stage. I haven’t seen that spot since The Undertaker did it to Muhammad Hassan during his last appearance. Hassan was a genius character by the way, but that’s another story. Kane stalks Eve around the ring. Cena stands at the top of the entrance ramp. Kane exits into the crowd. Eve runs up to join Cena. Everyone is very sad and very shocked. They remove other parts of the ramp so that Ryder can be seen laying lifeless. Eve cries. The announcers whisper. Cena holds his hands over his mouth. I get up and go for food.
Back from commercial Ryder is being taken out on a stretcher. They load him into an ambulance. Eve tells Cena that it’s all his fault and that she’s going with Zack. Josh Matthews walks up to talk to Cena and asks him if he feels awful. Cena is looking heelishly angry. He knocks the mic out of Matthews’ hand. He stares at the camera with an angry face. (Picture shown above). Creepy. The third wall was just broken. That’s never a good thing to do. Whose idea was that? So it looks like Ryder will be kept off TV for a little while. I spoke last week of making him fresh again, putting him back in the title chase, and making him anticipated again. On a side note, how awful was Eve’s acting. She would be better fit on a daytime soap.
Sheamus vs. Jinder Mahal- Tie-up to start. Sheamus drops an elbow across Mahal. Wade Barrett makes his way down to commentary. Sheamus uses the over the ropes chest pound. He goes to the top rope, but is thrown off by Mahal. Jinder goes to the outside apron and uses a running knee to the face. Grounded cobra clutch from Mahal to wear Sheamus down. Barrett is asked about Randy Orton. He says that Orton will never walk again. Sheamus re-takes control with multiple clotheslines. He goes for the Celtic Cross, but its countered with an elbow to the face. Sheamus ducks under Mahal and hits the Brogue Kick for the win. Barrett and Sheamus tease an attack on each other. Fun little match that ended up being too short. Jinder Mahal, The Great White, and Sheamus are all trending World Wide on Twitter. I believe that’s the first time tonight something is trending.
In the back Josh Matthews is talking to The Miz. Miz is running his mouth about main eventing Wrestlemania again. R-Truth walks up dressed as a research analyst. He says Miz is the #1 whiner, annoying, nincompoop, and something about people asking what else is on TV. He calls Miz the #1 jackass. Laurinaitis rushes in angry and says he can’t prepare for his match with Punk because they are arguing. Why would Laurinaitis put his office beside the promo shoot area? Laurinaitis says whoever loses the match between Miz and Truth will be the #1 entrant into the Royal Rumble. Ugh. I hate when the entry spots are predetermined. They are supposed to be completely random. So now we only get to be surprised by 29 guys on Sunday. Are you waiting for me to comment on how bad R-Truth just was? I’m usually a fan of his…..but how stupid was that promo? I felt like I was watching Nickelodeon. Terrible humor tonight. R-Truth is trending on Twitter.
The Funkasaurus Brodus Clay vs. Heath Slater- William Regal is on commentary because he just began a feud with Clay on Smackdown. I really miss watching Regal wrestle. One of the best pure “wrestlers” in the world. Clay comes out with his two dancers in a white suit this time. He is the only living and breathing Funkasaurus on the planet. I find that fascinating. There seriously aren’t any others? Have they checked Asia? There could be some on Asia. This show is very educational. Clay does the leg shake and shoulder blocks Slater. He goes for a second, but is drop kicked. It doesn’t knock Clay off his feet. Clay responds with an overhead power slam. Ah Funk It! from Clay for the win. Brodus and the dancers celebrate post match. I’m surprisingly not sick of Clay yet. However, I am getting sick of his two minute matches. I would have rather seen a nice 7 minute match where Slater got some offense. William Regal is trending on Twitter!
Royal Rumble flashback. 2007. The Undertaker wins. Prelude to his return sometime in the next month? I bet they will never show Chris Benoit winning the 2004 Rumble.
Loser enters #1 in the Royal Rumble: The Miz vs. R-Truth- Miz punches away at R-Truth. Truth punches back but Miz runs to the outside. Truth follows him and punches him on the floor. So many punches so little time. Miz catches him with a boot to the face on the way back in. Stomps. Truth gets up and uses a Thesz press with….you guessed it, punches. Miz counters some punches and back body drops Truth to the floor. That looked like a commercial spot to me. Yup, cue the commercials. Man on a Ledge looks pretty bad. Back from break Truth is in an octopus stretch. He throws his elbows into Miz’s legs, then hip-tosses him out of it. Miz charges Truth in the corner, but catches a boot to the face. Truth runs at Miz and catches him in a front roll up. Sit out slam by Truth for a near fall. He misses the scissors kick which helps Miz hit the backbreaker/neckbreaker combo. Truth rolls through a Skull Crushing Finale, misses his finisher, and is caught in a nasty DDT. Miz goes for the pin, but Truth pops up and hits “The Little Jimmy” for the win. Miz will now enter #1 into the Royal Rumble. It’s rant time. Why is The Miz jobbing like this???!!! This guy main evented Wrestlemania last year! He beat Cena in the main event! Then he falls into obscurity for months, so they decide to put him in a credible tag team so that he could main event Survivor Series while facing The Rock. Then his partner, R-Truth gets suspended for drugs, comes back, and they decide to reward him by putting him over on Miz. I know that only good will come from this because I see Miz lasting a very long time in the Rumble. I can actually see them letting The Miz break Rey Mysterio’s record for longest Rumble appearance. I really hope they do. But I just don’t like to see a guy like The Miz jobbing on Raw when he’s already not in a great position. All these loses are doing nothing but burying him even more. He was built up to be far too good for that to happen. That’s the problem with most first time champions. After their first reign they fall into obscurity. It happens 99% of the time in the WWE. They did it with Eddie Guerrero, JBL, Batista, Rey Mysterio, Sheamus, and now The Miz. If it happens to Daniel Bryan I’ll riot.
Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole sadly speak about Zack Ryder. Lawler says that Ryder has suffered a broken back. I saw some people tweet about this on Twitter, and I honestly thought the same thing at first, but I thought Lawler was going to try to say that Ryder was dead. Why? Because it was eerily similar to the announcement they made the night that Owen Hart had actually died in the ring. Lawler even used the same line. I’m sure that wasn’t intentional at all. If it was, then I find that disgusting.
John Laurinaitis is in the back in a red boxing robe warming up for his match. David Otunga walks in, with his coffee mug, and hands Laurinaitis a paper that he says is very important. Laurinaitis reads it angrily. Looks like he has his scape goat to get out of tonight’s match.
CM Punk vs. John Laurinaitis- CM Punk comes out for his match. John Laurinaitis has to be announced three times before he comes out. Otunga takes the mic to read the fax. It’s from the board of directors. They are angry that Laurinaitis has shown favoritism towards Ziggler. The letter says that next week Laurinaitis will have a job evaluation. His job will be reviewed by Triple H. Punk says that Laurinaitis will be fired if he screws him at the Rumble. Laurinaitis says the letter is a wake-up call and that he would like to apologize to Punk. He says that Mick Foley is now in the Royal Rumble. He also says that he will call Punk’s match down the middle and that he only said otherwise because Punk “made fun of him.” Aw poor John. He got made fun of. Punk says that Laurinaitis is a spoiled girl who always gets what she wants until Santa comes. Ehhh. Boooo. (Back by popular demand) I boo bad jokes. Punk says that Triple H will tell Laurinaitis that he’s fired next week. Laurinaitis takes a shot at Jim Ross and says that he took over as head of talent relations after Jim Ross had the WWE in the dark ages, and he made it credible. I love it. Because I don’t like Jim Ross at all. I mainly don’t like him because of what Laurinaitis is speaking of. Jim Ross had a terrible eye for talent. Laurinaitis has Otunga attack Punk. He stomps Punk on the mat. Punk fights back and locks in the Anaconda Vice. Punk stares down Laurinaitis. Otunga gets back up, but he’s kicked in the gut. Another stare down between Punk and Laurinaitis. The crowd is hot for this. Laurinaitis wants a hand shake. Punk shakes his hand, picks Laurinaitis up, and hits the GTS! Huge pop from the crowd. Dolph Ziggler jumps Punk from behind and lays him out. He stands over him smiling as Raw goes off the air. It looks like Raw ran out of time because the Ziggler interaction was super short. Triple H, David Otunga, and Johnny Ace are trending as we go off the air.
Decent show overall. Nowhere as good as last week. Jericho stole the show as usual. All the wrestling matches were mediocre. I’m hoping that this is the last mediocre Raw we will see for awhile. Next week’s Raw officially starts the road to Wrestlemania! Road to Wrestlemania Raw’s are the most exciting of the year. Every week a lot of things happen that progress major story lines towards the most watched wrestling event of the year. During this year’s road were destined to see the final return of The Undertaker. We will also see the return of Shawn Michaels. Chris Jericho and CM Punk will also probably have an epic feud. Plus Shaq will come to the WWE to challenge The Big Show at Wrestlemania. And of course, we will see plenty of The Rock vs. John Cena. I can’t wait!
Follow Mark Brown on Twitter @FantasyGodmb.