Since our regular Raw Review writer is sitting fourth row at tonight’s event, I will jealously and enviously be writing this review from home.
Just six days before the Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View, Raw had the task of selling this weekend’s show, something that over the past six months they have had a very difficult time doing on the Raw before a Pay-Per-View. With my expectations already sky-high for the Royal Rumble, my expectations were not much less for tonight’s lead in Raw. Since I usually have a knack for writing these reviews with a somewhat snarky undertone, I’m going to change that this time. Call it a new year, new me, whatever you want, I felt like this what a decent enough Raw so I’m going to get my bitching out-of-the-way first, and end with the pros of the show.
The first con of this episode was that the opening, which should have started off stronger, didn’t really start the show on the right note. The show opened with Paul Heyman and Vickie Guerrero recapping The Rock’s disrespectful actions towards both of them last week during his concert. Vickie went on to state that the Rock was banned from the building (which was supposed to shock us all) and we then get treated to backstage footage of Dwayne bargaining with police to let him in. This in turn set up the big question of, “how is he going to get into the arena by the end of the night?” We later of course found out that Dwayne would buy himself a ticket off of one of the officers to get in the building (which apparently also gives you permission to get in the ring as well). I really expected a better start to the show and end to that storyline, but then again, you get what TV-PG gives you.
*Note, you can see Grizzly Bomb’s own Adam Popovich with his FTF sign (a local wrestling reference), at 0:22 seconds in this video.
Maybe it was just me but I felt like there were more crap match-ups in this episode of Raw than usual. I mean come on, first they give us Big Show vs. Zack Ryder? Then they follow it up with Heath Slater vs. The Ryback. What was the purpose of this, was it to show just how “dominating,” they are going into the Royal Rumble?? As if we needed to see Heath Slater get beat up to know that The Ryback is a Rumble favorite. Anyways, as I already said, I don’t understand it, but none-the-less that’s what we were treated to tonight.
Other than the previously mentioned flaws to this show, I felt like it was a decent episode.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this episode of Raw was the resurgence of the Beat the Clock Challenge, to which the winner would get to choose his entry spot in the Royal Rumble match. I thought that the matches we were provided within this aspect of the show were actually pretty good. Then again, with the crap matches we were handed the rest of the show, let’s hope they at least treated us to decent matchups when there were Rumble implications on the line. At the end of the night we saw Dolph Ziggler win the challenge but only to be informed by Vickie that his only options for an entry spot were going to be #1 or #2. Once again, Vickie gets the last, extremely annoying laugh.
When Dwayne finally made it into the arena, he cut a typical Dwayne promo, where he forces in his latest twitter trending catch phrases, and classic crowd pump-up lines. Though there was nothing terribly special about this part of the segment, at the end we saw the power in the arena going out and The Shield charging the ring to decimate The Rock. I’m loving the fact that The Shield is being given such a push by the WWE, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the creative team has in-store for this trio. I unfortunately think that the audience is going to soon grow impatient with this storyline if progress isn’t made soon though. We keep seeing The Shield make these ring run-ins, yet no rhyme or reason has been given for their actions. I will just attribute this to the WWE writers not yet having an ending written. On a side note, I was shocked to not see John Cena come running out to his buddy Dwayne’s aid (kind of like Rocky did for him on Raw 1,000).
At the end of the show, John Cena came out to address the WWE Universe about the Royal Rumble. After a decently TV14 esque rant about what audience members do on Sundays. He then goes in to how this coming Sunday is different because the Royal Rumble will be taking place. After stating that he will go on to win the Rumble this Sunday, he is interrupted by Sheamus, who’s then interrupted by Prime Time Players, who’s then….well you get the picture. After a slew of wrestlers enter the ring (and by slew I mean about 30), they start duking it out. The show ends with superstars battling in the ring and Michael Cole giving the very cliché, “Is this what Sunday will look like?” line.
Undoubtedly, the last segment of the show needed to be stronger. The wishful thinking part of my brain immediately thought of how cool it would have been if during the fight, Brock Lesnar’s music would’ve hit and everyone in the ring would’ve just stopped. Then again, Raw endings have somewhat suffered lately and any big shocker like that will more than likely not be given away until the Pay-Per-View itself. Still, how good would that have been for selling that show?
I thought Raw this week was good, not great, but good. There were some strong matches and the Kane and Daniel Bryan anger management graduation was funny. However, as has been the case lately, a weak ending segment and some not so stellar matches held this episode to good instead of great.