Monday Night Raw Warm Up for January 21st, 2013

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Punk, Rock will square off this Sunday for the WWE Championship.

Last Monday WWE celebrated 20 years and 4,096 hours of Raw. It feels like most of those hours have come since the show went to three hours last Fall. For perspective, Raw’s 20th Anniversary ran against new episodes of four of CBS’ half-hour comedies, Hawaii 50, and half of the 11 o’clock news. While excessive in length, the show benefitted from the approach of focusing on the current product rather than bringing in a parade of former superstars as we head into the annual Royal Rumble featuring the Rock versus C.M. Punk for the WWE Championship.

PTB: Raw 1000 was really the essential tribute to the show’s long history while last week’s 20th Anniversary episode was essentially just a regular episode (and a decent one at that). Aside from some recap and a few video packages highlighting some f the shows most peculiar moments, WWE wisely chose to showcase the current roster. What I found most peculiar about last week’s show was starting things off with Big Show confronting Alberto Del Rio and not having them face each other.

THE JASON: I agree, I think that they have tapped themselves out on the anniversary show concept and the fact that this was the 20th anniversary like a bit of an afterthought. In all honesty, I was OK with this being an episode that was somewhat untampered with. I’m not sure how many more former superstars that they can bring out of the mothballs for this sort of thing. Sure, we haven’t seen Brutus Beefcake, King Kong Bundy or 2 Cold Scorpio make an appearance on any of these celebratory shows but I’m OK with that. I also don’t want to see Steve Austin, Goldberg or Batista wasted in a cameo.

PTB: Last week I pointed out the abject lack of an upside to Randy Orton taking on the members of 3MB (or anyone else for that matter) and his screen time being an automatic fast forward. Well watching the show live without the ability to skip ahead made Wade Barrett’s victory over Orton so much more satisfying. I’m a supporter of Barrett and even though Orton’s star seems to be fading this is a big win that I didn’t expect to see.

THE JASON: I’m not sure Orton’s star is waning yet. The loss to Barret may be a primer for a heel turn, which Orton has been allegedly wanting for quite some time. Regardless of the motivation for the loss, Orton has been protected so well that Barrett’s win really did seem important and helped to get the “Bull Hammer” over as a good finished.

PTB: Bringing Orton back out with Sheamus and Ryback to save 2013 Hall of Fame inductee, Mick Foley, from the Shield (along with the the Smackdown promo that featured Orton) was more than I want to see from him. The real issue though is the Shield’s motivations. I get the whole “fighting injustice” gimmick, but I would have liked to hear a half minute of mic work to set this up.

THE JASON: I wasn’t really thrilled with how they broke the news for Foley’s induction. Usually everyone gets a really nice video package and he got the short shrift. If the Shield really want to take on injustice, how about starting there. I was also hoping for a bit more interaction since Foley and Ambrose were engaged in a twitter war last year as well.

PTB: Regardless, Foley’s induction is well deserved.

THE JASON: Absolutely – but as a I mentioned above, he better get a well-deserved video package to accompany it. It shouldn’t just be fodder for another angle. I’m not sure who is next and I wonder if they are going to try to have more inductees who were based out of the tri-state area for this year’s class. Maybe Steve Lombardi finally gets a nod in 2013!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt-0qlXKVfU]

PTB: With that in mind, one of the highlights of the 20th Anniversary show was a the “most outrageous gimmicks” video. William Regal’s “Man’s Man” gimmick really was the best.

THE JASON: In a so bad it’s good way perhaps.

PTB: And did they show the masked Jim Neidhart right in there with Gilberg??!

THE JASON: Who? Heh, you see what I did there? I was just smarting from seeing Mantaur. MANTAUR. Someone thought that was a good idea.

PTB: I have to admit I was dreading the return of Kane and Daniel Bryan’s anger management bit, but bringing in Cody and Sandow and the way it went down made me laugh.

THE JASON: I have enjoyed these segments. I loved Bryan’s line that he liked that Kane could set things on fire just by lowering his arms. Shelby was lacking a bit here, but Sandow really saved the segment. He’s really a great character.

PTB: While that turned out to be a hit, did we really need to see John Cena versus Dolph Ziggler again?

THE JASON: I think the bigger question is do we need Ziggler losing again? What is the point of win one, lose ten? The guy isn’t going to look like a threat that way.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxZuHN4Qs7U]

PTB: Punk needs a new version of the belt after this title run. I never liked that spinner belt on anyone but Cena and a refresh is long overdue.

THE JASON: Without question. It should have happened as soon as Punk won it. I know that there are issues at stake with their licensing and how Mattel factors into the decision but they should have just had him bring back one of the older belts until they could decide on a new design. I would love to see the winged eagle design of the late 90’s come back.

PTB: They could have made it a little clearer that Brodus and Punk were having a match, but I love that style of booking. Punk knocks him in his promo last week, this week they have a match. I’m expecting to see Tyson Kidd (another name mentioned in Punk’s promo) in the ring the ring with the champion tonight.

THE JASON: Seeing as how it was the 20th anniversary of Raw, it was kind of old school. The end result was never in doubt, but Punk went out and had a great match with a lower tier guy and won very convincingly. Punk needs more matches like this. It reminds the crowd that he is capable of beating guys without the Shield interfering.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOKycoRYNNo]

PTB: I was actually glad to see that the Rock will be in attendance for all the Raw’s leading up to the Rumble for his ridiculous title match. His “Rock concert” is not what I want to see on Monday night’s even if there are three hours to fill. I’ll give him this though, his Vickie Guererro material got a a few laughs in my home.

THE JASON: The Vickie jokes were fine, Rocky can actually play guitar and carry a tune. I’m not running out to buy “Rocky sings the Blues” so I’d be fine never having another “Rock Concert” on Raw again. It seems like such a weird thing to keep doing. I have to wonder if Rock wants to keep doing this and they appease him because the live crowd enjoys it. It’s hokey.

PTB: Unfortunately, I keep coming away with the feeling that we’ll be saying “at least Punk set a record with his title run” next Monday because I’m afraid we’re going to see him lose to the Rock this Sunday along with a Rumble win for John Cena.

THE JASON: Well, there is the possibility Brock returns, interferes and allows Punk to keep the title. He is still managed by Heyman and it would set up Rock vs. Brock for Mania. I don’t see it happening but since I really, really, REALLY don’t want to see Rock vs. Cena or Brock vs. HHH happen again I am going to cling tight to this prediction.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-BE6YzYCtY]

PTB: We talked about some early WrestleMania predictions last week, but so much can change between now and then and we should give some time to next Sunday’s Royal Rumble. This is a definite buy for me every year but it’s not often they get the card the way I want to see it. I prefer not to see guys in other matches on the card appear in the Rumble match, but I fear it’s an inevitability again this year with matches like Rhodes Scholars versus Hell No! for the tag titles on the undercard.

THE JASON: I agree, but I also don’t want to see the Rumble match filled with the likes of Yoshi Tatsu, the Colons and Alex Riley all waiting for a big star to make their return and clear the ring. There needs to be a certain amount of star power so that it isn’t a foregone conclusion as to who is winning. I’d also like to see the winner of the Rumble actually main event Wrestlemania, which hasn’t happened for a few years now. I think the last time a Rumble Winner was in the last match at Mania might have been when Undertaker won.

PTB: Ideally I’d like to see Punk hold onto the title for a while yet and give them a chance to really build something new and interesting that will drive the show once the title changes hands. I still think there’s a lot to be mined from Punk/Heyman. Honestly, a Cena win at the Rumble and legit WrestleMania main event with him and Punk for the WWE Championship would really work for me. Of course, that would end with a victory for Punk. I still think of these two as the Savage and Hogan of their day and I just think their feud could use a solid one-on-one match at the biggest show of the year as part of the story.

THE JASON: It seemed that Mania was once the ultimate blow-off for feuds, but now it really is the beginning. I can’t see them putting Cena and Punk again in a singles match no matter how good the outcome would be. I also think that Cena winning the title from Punk at Mania in New York/New Jersey is not going to yield a positive crowd reaction. But Cena winning against pretty much anyone isn’t going to get a favorable reaction. I’m having a tough time thinking of any heel that is that hated to get a more visceral reaction from the crowd than Cena… and he’s the face!

Read more about World Wrestling Entertainment on MyLatestDistraction.

Keep up with all of our weekly Monday Night Raw Warm Ups:
January 14th, 2012 edition / January 28th, 2013 edition

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