What up wrestling fans, I'm the WrestlingNerd bringing you another written review. Today, we take a look at WWE Raw on 1/16/11. How did the show turn out? Well, let's take a look and start the review.
We open up the show with Mick Foley. He says he would like to have one more match in the WWE since a few of his children have never seen him compete in a wrestling ring. I guess that means TNA is so bad that Foley wouldn't allow his children to watch his matches. That's really saying something. Oh, the TNA fans will hate me for that comment. Anyway, Foley wants to compete in the Royal Rumble match. Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero interrupt. Dolph says it's a joke that Foley wants to be one of the 30 entrants since it shouldn't go to such seasoned talent. Foley realizes that his entry can be a flop, but he is in it to win it. Just like the lottery. Dolph almost becomes insulted with the thought that he could be the WWE Champion and might have to defend it against Foley. He tells Foley to just go home and leave the business. CM Punk interrupts. Punk talks about how him and Foley earned their spots in the main event, while Dolph hasn't done enough. He also brings up the "brilliance" of John Laurinaitis. This brings out Mr. Excitement. He continues to say that he will be unbiased in the WWE Championship match at Royal Rumble. Laurinaitis says he will think about Foley's petition to be in the Rumble match….for about nine seconds. Laurinaitis says "No" to Foley. Roboinaitis is in full swing if he already thinks of ideas in seconds. An interesting start to the show. The audience was pretty much eating up with Foley had to say. I think Dolph did pretty good with his mic time here. Still, I wonder what would come out of this? I mean, what purpose does Foley serve for this scene? Well, we would get more answers later in the show. Once again, the WWE title match seems to be more about Punk and Laurinaitis than Punk and Dolph. It doesn't diminish Dolph too badly, but it doesn't help him either.
Match #1: Primo and Epico vs Air Boom; WWE Tag Team Championships
In a house show on Sunday, we actually crowned new tag team champions in Primo and Epico. Needless to say, it's kinda odd they would do a title change at a house show. This has happened before, but I would prefer to see title changes broadcast on TV rather than a select audience. Many rumors flying around as to why the title change happened last night. Most of them involving Evan Bourne. I don't want to dig into all of that since that's dirt sheet stuff. Regardless, things aren't looking good for the highflyer. This was a short match, but it was okay to watch. The finish comes when the Puerto Rican Express hit Backstabber on Bourne for the clean victory. Primo and Epico winning the match proves that the title change at the house show wasn't a freak accident and it was planned ahead of time. We will wait and see what happens in the next few weeks regarding the Evan Bourne deal. As far as my thoughts on Primo and Epico getting the tag titles, it seemed like it was gonna happen. They aren't a bad little team, but not a special tag team. I just hope Primo and Epico can still have consistent opponents in order to make their tag title reign mean something. I immediately think of the Usos jumping in to face off against the tag champs. We will see what they do next. That's if WWE is actually true to making the tag division mean something.
Winner via pinfall and still Tag Champs: Primo and Epico
Backstage where David Otunga gives Laurinaitis a letter. Laurinaitis is more concerned about a six man tag match for tonight than the letter. This is an important plot point for later in the evening. It was announced it would be Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, and Otunga vs Punk, Daniel Bryan, and……Chris Jericho. Sparkle sparkle. Another backstage scene. Zack Ryder and Eve are talking. Ryder hasn't been medically cleared, but he will still go out there and compete since he wants to be a fighting champion. Wrestling logic immediately comes into mind, but they are trying to tell a story here.
Match #2: Zack Ryder vs Jack Swagger; US Championship match
According to the kayfabe on this show, Swagger gets a US title match because of the referee screw up in the Swagger/Punk match from last week. Ryder has taped up ribs and is trying to fight back, but the injuries he got from Kane were too much to overcome. Swagger hit the Gutwrench Powerbomb twice, but Ryder continued to kick out. Swagger hit the Gutwrench for a third time and Ryder is finally down for the count. That's right, we have a new US Champion in Swagger. So, there is a lot of outrage by wrestling fans since Ryder just got the US title, so it makes him look bad. Here is the way I look at it. Ryder was selling his injures from the Kane attack and showed some toughness in the match. Keep in mind that it took three finishers to keep him down, so they didn't make him look terrible. It would later be revealed in a backstage scene that the letter Laurinaitis got was a doctor's note from Ryder, but he didn't read it in time and thus apologized for putting Ryder in the match. That guy is a douche. Eve would yell at Laurinaitis, but keeps his composure. This is an important element for later in the evening. Either way, it seems like Laurinaitis screwed over Ryder since Laurinaiits hasn't been high on Ryder based on past events. I kinda like how Ryder dropped the title because he showed some guts as opposed to being over the top. After a while, the goofiness of Ryder needs to slowly fade in order for him to move up the ladder. In fact, I almost forgot about Ryder's goofy gimmick during this whole show. This also puts Ryder in a program with Swagger, since we will assume that Ryder is aching to get is US title back. I think by Swagger winning the US Championship tells a much better story more than anything else. I realize most people are pissed off about the decision since Ryder is one of the favorites. Based on that, people do have a right to be angry about the move. However, I don't see this as a Ryder demotion as they are trying to give Ryder a decent program with some character development while showing the asshole nature of Laurinaitis. In fact, I see Swagger dropping the title in a matter of weeks to Ryder. That's at least what I think they are planning. It's always possible things won't go like that, but I don't think that's the case. Wrestling logic is all over the place here since it was only a month ago that we had a MITB cash-in become denied because someone wasn't medically cleared to compete. As long as there is a good story being told, I am fine with the logic getting raped.
Winner via pinfall and NEW US Champion: Jack Swagger
Match #3: Kelly Kelly and Alicia Fox vs Bellas
Some guy named Perez Hilton did the in-ring introductions for this match. I personally don't care for this, but it's not the first time they have brought in celebrities for these things. Still, you think they would get people who actually qualify as celebrities. The match was nothing special. The finish comes when Perez disrupts the Bella switch out, thus allowing Kelly Kelly to use her finisher, the rollup, to win the match. After the match, the Bellas knockdown Perez. Kelly and Alicia chase them away, blah blah blah. Yeah, not something I would really care about, but the scene is harmless. Trust me, I have seen much worse from pro wrestling. It was like a ripping off a band-aid. It stings at first, but you won't remember the pain for long.
Winner via pinfall: Kelly Kelly and Alicia Fox
Back in the ring where R-Truth wants to say something, but Wade Barrett interrupts. They talk about the Royal Rumble match. Truth says he doesn't see Wade winning the rumble. He even showed off his Disney land postcard collection by showing off his pictures of Mickey Mouse and crew. By the way, did Wade say "old dick"? I'm sure he was saying something else, but you gotta admit that it sounded really close to that. The Miz attacks Truth from behind. Sheamus arrives to even the odds. The faces clear house. Teddy Long shows up and says Laurinaitis is a little busy (Laurinaitis really takes advantage of unlimited text messaging), so he can make matches. Teddy makes it a over the top rope challenge between the four individuals. Well, a lot of RR talk this evening. It's about time they started talking about this match on Raw.
Match #4: R-Truth vs Miz vs Wade Barrett vs Sheamus; Over the top rope Challenge
This match operated like the royal rumble. Once you go over the top rope and both feel hit the ground, you are eliminated from the match. The match would continue until there is only one person remaining. Hey, at least there isn't any stupid leprechaun running around. Wade was the first one to be eliminated since all three took him out. The match was okay, but nothing great. The finish comes when Sheamus is trying to eliminate Miz. As he is doing that, Truth comes from behind and tosses over Sheamus. This eliminates Miz as well and Truth wins the match. Live it up Truth because that's as close as you're gonna get to winning the Rumble.
Backstage were John Cena is yelling at Laurinaitis for screwing over Ryder. Laurinaitis admits to his mistake, but says Cena should be more concerned with Kane. It will be Kane vs Cena at the Royal Rumble. Cena will also face off against Swagger tonight. Cena is really pissed off….hmmm…..interesting.
Match #5: Jack Swagger vs John Cena
Damn, when did Cena turn into Goku? Seriously, he just went Super Saiyan on Swagger's ass. This wasn't even a match. It was just Cena beating the crap out of Swagger. He even used the steel steps and was completely angry. It almost seemed like Cena had lost control for a split moment. Kane showed up on the titantron and said THAT'S what he has been trying to do….
If you're paying attention, Cena just lost it and showed a little bit of his angry side. I really like this scene. Kane was using Ryder as a device to get Cena off the deep end. Well, we can definitely see signs that Cena is starting to lose control of himself. I like it because it makes Kane more of a devil's advocate than a monster. Kane can tap into that monster side at times, but is very intellectual and can get inside your sub-conscience. Get out of my head. GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!! Okay, I'm fine now. I still say this has been the most interest that I have had for Cena's character for quite some time. As I have said many times in the past, I don't see Cena turning heel and really see it as a change in Cena's overall character. Then again, who really knows?
Match #6: Brodus Clay vs JTG
Dude, people were loving the Funkasaurus. Just because the IWC says otherwise doesn't mean that's how the 90% casual fans feel about the character. It's silly and ridiculous, but I like it. Although, WWE should NEVER put Brodus in slow motion. People don't need to see that. The match was short and it ended when Brodus hit that running crossbody. Brodus seems to be trying for more of a Goldust edge by psychologically getting in his opponents' head since he forces all the innuendos. By the way, Michael Cole referred to the running crossbody as the "Funk It". What the funk is that all about?
Winner via pinfall: Brodus Clay
Daniel Bryan cuts a promo. He talks about how Big Show is a freak and took this whole WHC deal too far by injuring AJ. Bryan says that AJ will never be the same again. Well, that's some groundbreaking reporting. He also threaten Show to not show his face or he will pay. That's some big talk coming from a guy who couldn't even beat the giant with a chair. By the way, I like how Bryan knows exactly how much AJ weighs. YOU know what there were doing behind closed doors…..giggity giggity. Anyway, Bryan says he dedicates his match against Henry this week to AJ. Well, that might be the worst dedication ever. Joking aside, it will be interesting to see how Bryan weasels his way out of this one.
Match #7: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Chris Jericho vs Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, and David Otunga
Well, it didn't take long to find out what Jericho's intentions were for tonight. He was tagged into the match, played to the crowd, then just tagged in Bryan and walked out of the match. The boos towards Jericho were a lot heavier this week than the past two weeks. Jeritrolling should be the new thing. Regardless, it seems heel Jericho is going to be unleashed any moment now. Bryan and Henry brawl to the back, so it was down to a 2 on 1 match. Foley would arrive and told the referee that Laurinaitis allowed him to take part in this match. The finish comes when Foley is now in the match and unleashes Mr. Socko. It appears Foley has won the match for his team….BUT WAIT!!! Laurinaitis arrives and says he didn't give Mick the right to take part in this match, so he is reversing the ref's decision. There is a lot more after this, but let me get this out of the way first.
Winner via Roboinaitis: Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, and David Otunga
Punk would get angry and finally just let Laurinaitis have it. He wants to know what the hell is Laurinaitis' problem with Punk, but Punk thinks he knows why. Punk talks about how Laurinaitis is bitter with how his own career went. Laurinaitis had the look for the business, but he just absolutely sucked. He thought he could go somewhere because of his last name (Laurinaitis' brother is Road Warrior Animal), but not even that could help him get a spot in the prime time. Punk says Laurinaitis hates him because he accomplished more in one year than Laurinaitis did in his lifetime, and that's eating away at him. Punk says he will make sure he walks out with the WWE Championship, but if Laurinaitis screws him over, he will kick his ass. Punk calls him pathetic and leaves. Laurinaitis is almost starting to lose it at this point. Foley gets on the mic and wants to know the truth. He wants to know if Laurinaitis is plotting to screw over Punk at the Royal Rumble. Laurinaitis finally snaps and says he is sick and tired of getting disrespected and he does plan to screw over Punk. Laurinaitis hits Foley over the head with the mic and the show ends with Foley struggling to his feet. Well, that had to be the first time Laurinaitis didn't sound like a robot. He's like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz. He finally got a heart and can how show human emotion. His emotions say……what a dick. Punk delivered a great promo. He really dug into Laurinaitis as a person and really got him to go over the edge. For the first time, Laurinaitis showed off his real intentions and showed why people don't necessary like him. I also like the promo Laurinaitis delivered. It was his best yet and showed that if he can escape his shell once in a while, he can be a convincing character on this show. I also liked this because this is the Punk people want to see a little more of. The Punk that goes out there and tells it like it is. The Punk who likes to stick it to the man and will piss you off more with his words than actions. Great way to end the show.
I thought Raw was pretty good this week. The in-ring action was lacking, but it was more about storytelling than anything else. Tonight had a lot more to do with storytelling and Rumble hype, and I think they did both things rather well. The theme of tonight's show was Laurinaitis. He got the most screen time and everything that was happening in the show had some type of connection with Mr. Excitement. I like Swagger getting the US title for storyline purposes. From a champion standpoint, Swagger isn't really there, but this is more about Ryder than Swagger. We saw Cena lose his cool and show signs that he is starting to embrace the hate. We also saw Punk finally deliver one of his pipe bombs and even saw Laurinaitis break down. This was probably the best Raw of 2012…..at least so far. There was a lot more talk about the Rumble match and some of the matches for the PPV, including a new addition in the Cena vs Kane match. It's still kinda vague in who will end up winning the rumble, but I think I can narrow it down to about 4-5 people. Tonight didn't really feature great matches, but it was the storytelling that I found more interesting. I like watching some quality wrestling, but a good storyline can keep you invested in the matches, no matter who is wrestling who. That's going to do it for the review and I hope you enjoyed it. Tell me what you thought of my review or tonight's show. I will see you guys and girls on the next WrestlingNerd show, see you next time.