TV Recap: Last RAW Before the Royal Rumble

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I can see people out there actually read my wrestling drivel. So why not post or comment? Come on folks, give me some feedback? Like what I say? Don’t like what I say? Truth is, I want to hear what you have to say about what is happening in the wrestling world.

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Day, which is like Rosh HaShanna for Vince McMahon. The guy actually has a giant painting of MLK in his office. I am not making this up, for I have seen it.

Joking aside, it is a serious affection Mr. McMahon has for the man who declared “I have a dream…” Dr. King exemplified not only the awareness of the racial divide during his time, but taught a lesson which sadly needs retelling year after year. We have seen a lot of hurt, pain, and tragedy in the past year, probably more than ever. I don’t think it’s all about race, personally, it is about being decent members of the human race. Someone needs help, you help. You see someone having difficulty? You help. Yesterday I risked life and limb getting out of my car to help someone else whose car was pinned. I helped another person walk from one end of the block to another. Did I have to? Did I look at nationality, ethnicity, or color?

NO. NO. Because it shouldn’t matter. We’re all human. We are supposed to do the human thing, and I know one or two cynical people out there are saying “being human means to hate” and sadly I have no refute for that.

I feel bad sabotaging my own column, but tonight is also #RAWlternative. Don’t know what that is? Click on over to Kenny Pete’s column and find out all about it. Well, if you are only checking it out now, then you missed it because it ran alongside RAW live on YouTube. I don’t know about the rest of you, but ever since Survivor Series it has been one craptacular show after another. I am thankful for Seth Rollins being given the huge push, but one man can’t save a show, unless he competes in every single match. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were the true torch-bearers, but Punky is gone and D.B. is back from injury, so don’t expect any major pushes. I actually hope I am wrong on that last point. They’ve taken Ziggler off television, the mid-card championships suddenly mean pigeon droppings, and for some insane reason Divas get more air time than actual wrestlers.

Anyway, let’s move from this somber day of remembrance (and not day of bullshit retail sales), and move onto a somber Monday Night RAW where the legends of my time, or the “Geezers of Yesteryear” grace our television to be made fun of by younger wrestling fans who pretend they know EVERYTHING because they can read Wikipedia. Little half-wits… I’ll do my best to think positive here. Please let tonight be a good show… PLEASE.

We begin with Brock Lesnar speaking, never a good thing. Thankfully the ranting is interrupted by Triple H who goes face-to-face with the beast, who continues to speak! He threatens a fight and Rabbi Paul Heyman goes wide-eyed bonkers, begging Brock not to “ruin our meal ticket!” “He pays the bills!” Heyman is fantastic. As Stephanie brings out Kane and Big Show for backup, Heyman negotiates until Seth Rollins interrupts on screen, and then is interrupted by John Cena. Everyone takes turns dumping on Cena’s failures, until Rollins botches his promo which both fans and Cena call him out on. Things take a turn as Cena gets one more chance to get Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, and Ryback all rehired, but he has to put his title shot on the line. Triple H makes it crazy, as Cena does not get to choose, but the WWE Universe has to vote on it.

Well, that was a very interesting start, and Brock seemed almost threatening on the mic.

Up next, Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt. Either both WWE and Bryan are crazy or Bryan is really 100% ready to go. I think the folks over at WWE felt threatened by #RAWlternative tonight, so they are giving us some good stuff. You cannot hear the theme music or Lillian Garcia introducing him, the live crowd is just that loud. Bray and Bryan put on one hell of a match. Bryan mostly selling the neck, and at one point Wyatt just leveled him with a clothesline which made JBL wet his pants. I have to give credit to Wyatt, this was right up there with his recent matches with Dean Ambrose. Bryan rallied back and nailed a massive turnbuckle dropkick, followed by a suicide dive to the floor. Sadly, Kane got involved, attacking Bryan which allowed Wyatt to recover and strike with Sister Abigail for the pinfall victory.

Post match thoughts: Incredible match, this is what we needed tonight. Shame Bray could not have won clean, however WWE is smart not to have Daniel Bryan lose cleanly either which would have made him look weak. Post match, Kane assaults Bryan, generating a lot of boos from the crowd. Bryan vs. Kane on SmackDown, and if Bryan loses, he’s out of the Rumble. Don’t see that happening.

Now we have… THE GREATEST SEGMENT EVER

I’m not making this up. Triple H is on the phone, when suddenly Scott Hall and Kevin Nash appear! They rib The Game about “the suit” and beg him to hang out, however he refuses, citing his responsibilities. Shawn Michaels then joins in, calling him “Vince Junior” and saying tonight is a night off, so he should just re-hire everyone in order to make their lives hell on RAW, and call it a night. Triple H then explains he just doesn’t show up on Shawn’s show and tell him how to kill defenseless animals. At this point everyone’s laughing, probably going off-script, as a fake Sean “X-Pac” Waltman shows up doing crotch chops. We then get the real Sean Waltman, and I suddenly realize it is Damien Sandow under the disguise. They mimic each other until Miz breaks up the party. Nash asks Triple H what the hell happened to the show, and The Game just starts laughing “I don’t know what to say… I’m so embarrassed.”

Fantastic. This leads into the Royal Rumble legends panel with Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, and Ric Flair, led by Byron Saxton. Gotta hand it to the newcomer, Saxton has the voice and great mic ability. The legends discuss their Rumble history, and then make predictions. HBK goes with Bray Wyatt, the Hulkster goes with Daniel Bryan, and Ric Flair opts for Dean Ambrose. For some reason, this cues Big Show to come to the ring. Flair gets in his face and eats a KO Punch for it. Well, what did you think was going to happen? Roman Reigns predictably saves the day, sending Show packing.

We turn to Renee Young who reveals 85% of the vote is for Cena to put his title shot on the line in his match tonight. Cena no-sells the fact the fans voted against him, playing it off as the “WWE Universe” being the greatest fans and blah blah Cena promo blah.

Up next is a short and sweet one between Dean Ambrose and Wade Barrett in a non-title match. I was torn, I am glad Ambrose picked up the win, but bugs me Barrett loses yet again. I just do not get it. When he is not the champ, he runs rampant. Give him a belt and suddenly he becomes Barry Horowitz.

Thanks to @muffnman, on the WWE App, Rusev cut a promo and apparently… Forgot his accent. Besides that, a lot of bad feeds and poor production going on. Likely to be rushing and improvising a lot.

The New Day is out next, and they talk their way to the ring, boring everyone to tears. Xavier Woods sporting a leg brace, guess he’s already eliminated from the Rumble. Would it be in poor taste to make a joke here based on what today is? Yes, yes it would. Right now I can guess Kofi and WWE Creative are coming up with ideas for how he will escape elimination this year. My vote, he jumps on a guys shoulders, turns out to be Shelton Benjamin. Who then drops Kofi and enters the Rumble himself. They take on Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, who have Natalya and Adam Rose at ringside. WHY? Why is this bad gimmick paired with two great talents? I am referring to Rose, in case you couldn’t figure it out. Again, thanks to @muffnman, Adam Rose cut a “I’m an under-appreciated workhorse” promo on the WWE App. Wonderful. Nice spot with Cesaro doing the Swing to Kofi, with Kidd cracking him in the head with a dropkick. Sadly, New Day wins with a surprise roll up, and they party with the Rosebuds. Sigh at least it was watchable.

Anyone out there want to buy this for me? Transformers G1 Japan Blue Baccus  Seriously. I’ll be your best friend forever!

Another Greatest Segment Ever

Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and X-Pac come out all in nWo gear. Hall starts off on the mic, and Nash reminds everyone they started the Monday Night Wars, which can be seen on the Network. He puts himself over, outright saying the nWo is responsible for everything great in wrestling. Wow, Nash really being modest, I love it. Out comes The Ascension. My first reaction was: Here comes the official burial.  I didn’t need a second reaction because I CALLED IT. Been calling it for weeks. First the run down the New World Order and using the worst catchphrase I have ever heard, I dare not repeat it.

Then, awesome ramps up as JBL ditches the announce table and verbally destroys the Ascension, putting the exclamation point by ripping off his button down shirt, revealing the APA shirt underneath, which brings out Ron Simmons. Just before you think the burial is about to start, The New Age Outlaws enter the ring and they administer the burial-beating to Konnor and Viktor. The final nail in the coffin, comes from the man who hates the Ascension more than anyone, JBL, delivering a massive Clothesline From Hell to close out the segment (Evi’s Note: Michael jumped out of his chair and may have crapped himself).

buried1This might have been the greatest and most entertaining burial since the Spirit Squad. Most significant difference is for a time, fans liked the Spirit Squad who earned some high profile feuds and were even WWE Tag Team Champions before getting booted. This was a simple “We hate you, goodbye!”

Backstage: Triple H and Stephanie have a drummer roll as they announce Cena faces off against Seth Rollins, Kane, and the Big Show in a 3-on-1 match. Also announced, The New Day vs. Cesaro, Kidd, and Rose on the Royal Rumble pre-show.

Rusev vs. R-Truth. Uhm. Yeah. I think we all know how that went.

Pre-taped segment, Miz gloats at being able to have two chances at winning the Rumble, thanks to having a stunt-double. Sandow frowns. In the ring Miz and Jey Uso have a short match, where Jey Uso picks up the win following a top rope splash. Nothing fancy, but hype for their upcoming Tag Team Title match this Sunday at the Royal Rumble. Shame, just months ago I really cared about the tag team division, but suddenly I feel like it’s luster has been lost.

Okay that last one was pretty expensive. How about one of you out there go ahead and pick this one up for me instead? http://page8.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/h197050834

Main Event Time sees John Cena up against the Authority. He wins, three guys who will never see a World Championship get their jobs back, and if he loses, Cena will still somehow go on to tie Ric Flair for championship reigns. Win-win for Cena.

All you need to know, is after a mostly beatdown of a match, STING shows up, allowing Cena to roll up Rollins for the pinfall victory, and now Ziggler, Rowan, and Ryback all get their jobs back just in time to be Rumble fodder. The crazy didn’t end there, a livid Triple H calls out Sting, but winds up getting Brock Lesnar instead. Lesnar manhandles Rollins and F5s both Kane and Big Show to close it out.

I have to admit, after weeks and weeks of really lackluster shows, WWE pulled off a decent go-home show for the Monday Night RAW before the Royal Rumble. While there is not much build for the matches on the card, nor the Rumble itself, there is a lot of uncertainty and speculation what will happen come Sunday. You know, this is a good thing. In past years, once always had a suspicion of who would win the Rumble, but this year we are completely in the dark. I also think this year we will have a lot more revealed on the last SmackDown before Sunday.

Overall, good show. Not great, but good. There was a lot of wasted segments and really useless filler, see R-Truth vs. Rusev. The reunion segments were more than comedy, and the build for the Authority trying to ruin everyone’s lives was well played. The Sting appearance and multiple appaearances from Lesnar were unexpectedly welcome. WWE needs to put on more shows like this. They have before, this isn’t new. Perhaps post-Rumble we will see an upswing in quality programming.