Monday Night Raw Warm Up for January 28th, 2013

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C.M. Punk’s historic WWE Championship reign came to an end at last night’s Royal Rumble in Phoenix, AZ.

WWE’s annual Royal Rumble normally makes for an interesting night serving as the first step on the road to WrestleMania. Someone emerges from the Rumble match with a guaranteed title shot and championships often change hands. Last night both happened but instead of going with any remotely interesting outcomes, the night came off as simply boring and predictable with two time Rumble winner John Cena now set to face new WWE Champion, The Rock, at WrestleMania 29. Not even Raw Roulette tonight from Las Vegas can turn the fortunes of the that rematch.

PTB: Once C.M. Punk’s title reign reached 6th on the all time list (behind a near three year run from Pedro Morales), it was pretty clear his days were numbered. I’d have preferred to see the title change hands at WrestleMania after passing the 500 day mark, but there was no way we were getting the Punk/Cena WrestleMania main event I think their feud needs. It’ll be easy to call this sour grapes since I’m a Punk fan, but I’d rather see him lose his championship to anyone else on the regular roster than guest star, the Rock.

THE JASON: I agree that a title change at WrestleMania would be far more epic in scale and a better way to see a title run as extensive as Punk’s reach its conclusion. We’d have to poll the MLD readers, but I don’t think anyone outside of the two of us wanted to see Punk/Cena one more time. While it never reached the repetitious nature of a feud like Orton/Cena, it was one that has headlined its fair share of PPVs despite having a satisfying final chapter. Despite what our feelings are, I can see why WWE wanted the strap on The Rock though. He’s a bonafide legend of the game, he can still work, and he’s a huge, huge movie star. The guy is going to be doing tons of press in the coming months for Snitch, GI Joe and whatever that movie is with him and Marky Mark. To have this guy, appearing on so many mainstream talkshows and the like touting that he is the current WWE champion going into Wrestlemania can only serve to bolster the company’s profile and garner additional interest. Regardless, I’m not thrilled to see Punk’s reign ended mainly with Vince-erference.

WWE_RAW_20130128_darknessPTB: The worst part is the punk lost via the People’s Elbow. That’s the worst. The match wasn’t without controversy as it was restarted following a Punk victory after interference by the Shield. We didn’t actually see that it was the Shield, and I’m holding out hope that that may play into things somehow. Brad Maddox was doing something for Paul Heyman based on Raw last week, and it could have easily been him and two other guys in the dark beating down the rock. That means that restarting the match was not legitimate and maybe things will turn back in Punk’s favor, but I doubt it.

THE JASON: That’s an interesting theory, but I don’t see the belt being flipped back so easily. I could see them playing that card so Punk could get a no-holds-barred sort of rematch to either take place at the Elimination Chamber next month or on a future Raw if they really want to pop a rating. The latter also makes me wonder if we’ll see the Rock defend the belt on Raw at all. If so, doesn’t that take the shine off of the novelty of Rock’s PPV drawing ability?

PTB: A one hour special dedicated to the build up to Cena/Rock at WrestleMania last year made a rematch an inevitability. While that might be what sells the show to a lot of people, I’ll be looking for anything else on the card to draw me in. That starts with what’s in store for Punk. There’s a chance he could walk away entirely for some time off. I’m anticipating a split from Paul Heyman who Punk will blame for the loss, and possibly a collision with someone new with Heyman in their corner.

THE JASON: That scenario could build to Brock Lesnar’s return, but again I don’t see it. Punk & Paul is simply too good of a combination to split up yet. Besides, I don’t think the time is right to turn Punk babyface again and I think the inclusion of Paul in Punk’s act is part of what is keeping him as a heel.

WWE_RAW_20130128_Heyman_RockPTB: I really enjoy seeing the two of them together, but I don’t know who they feud with if Rock and John Cena are tied up in a WrestleMania rematch. I suppose it could be the Shield, but that would mean Punk will be paired with the likes of Randy Orton and Sheamus in a tag match and that’s enough to keep me away from the the super bowl of sports entertainment entirely.

THE JASON: There’s no way that they tie up three top stars in a tag match. I’m still calling Undertaker for Punk’s WrestleMania plans. I just don’t know who else they could match Taker up with this year that would draw any kind of interest.

PTB: Well, I’d love to see Punk/Undertaker, and it creates a rooting dilemma for me so it’s perfect. Punk coming off a history making title run might be just enough to serve as the basis for challenging the Undertaker’s historic undefeated streak at WrestleMania.

PTB: There’s a short list of other names that are pretty much assured a spot on the card at WrestleMania 29 and we should spend a few moments looking at what might be in store for them. Let’s start with the undercard guys who didn’t win the Rumble match (and it was clear they weren’t going to) that were featured in Raw’s Beat the Clock Challenge let week.

Dolph Ziggler

PTB: The Beat the Clock prize fake out letting him choose to be #1 or #2 was fun. It fit with the Vickie Guererro/Ziggler fall out and it put the “Show Off” in the spotlight. A Rumble win could have been interesting as we might have seen him get a title shot, lose, cash in the Money in the Bank immediately, and lose again.

THE JASON: Let me first say that I love the Beat the Clock challenge shows. I like when there is a gimmick that provides some actual stakes. It also can result in the matches being quite good, which is what we got last week. I think Raw Roulette will provide a sharp contrast to that tonight – which usually turns out fairly awful results each and every time they do it. I’m amazed that it hasn’t killed Las Vegas as a town for them completely. I would never go to a live Raw show if I knew I was in for Raw Roulette.

PTB: Possibly the highlight of the Rumble was the tremendous moment of Chris Jericho’s return to start the match with Ziggler. Dolph was the man who sent him out of WWE last year in their “contract versus briefcase match” the night after SummerSlam.

THE JASON: Ziggler brought the goods in the Rumble and I’m hoping we see a real feud build with him and the returning Jericho.

PTB: When is the Money in the Bank cash in coming from Ziggler with this new twist? I can’t see anything but a Jericho/Ziggler match at WrestleMania and I can’t imagine the World Championship will be on the line.

THE JASON: I don’t know. Ziggler does have until next summer to use the briefcase. I wouldn’t mind Ziggler losing to Jericho at WrestleMania and the cashing in on whoever has the World Title after that match concludes in order to up the stakes in whatever happens in that feud.

Antonio Cesaro

PTB: This guy is great and does justice to the tried and true anti-American heel character. Holding the United States Championship and donning the stars and stripes just tweaks the crowd even more. His match against Randy Orton last week was decent, but I hated seeing Orton get a clean win over a guy on the rise. I expect Cesaro to be put in a spot to shine at WrestleMania, but it’s hard to think that will come from a match with The Miz.

THE JASON: My crystal ball is saying Cesaro is going to be in either a multi-man match or left off the card. I dig the guy’s work but unless they hit on something he isn’t going to be hot enough to get a match. I’m thinking they should do a 4 Man match with Barret, Cesaro, Kofi and … insert someone else here who doesn’t suck… and do it to unify the IC and US championships. I’m all for elimination style matches.

The Miz

PTB: How weird was it to see Ric Flair pass the torch and the figure-four leg-lock to the Miz of all people? Two years ago he was in the main event defending his WWE Championship against John Cena with the Rock as referee, he had a 40 minute showing in the Rumble last year, and then nothing… Last week a loss to perpetual loser Dolph Ziggler

THE JASON: I can’t believe we forgot to mention that in last week’s warm-up. That was so terrible. WWE is desperate to get this guy over as a good guy that they have Flair give him his blessing by allowing him to figure-four Cesaro. I ain’t buying it. What a waste of teaming Flair with someone. And speaking of using Flair, I just don’t know what to make out of what they had him doing two weeks ago. He was wooing! and dropping elbows on his sportcoat like a crazed old man. It seemed so completely weird. But any time you pair Flair with THE MIZ, the results are going to be less than exemplary.

PTB: Miz’s Rumble appearance was unremarkable and seeing him enter along with Orton, Mahal, Khali, and Sin Cara in the last ten was miserable. Even Ryback coming in at number 30 wasn’t great and they had to feed three of those guys so he’d have someone to eliminate. Speaking of Ryback’s opponents, did we know the Shield wouldn’t be in the Rumble last night?

THE JASON: From a storyline perspective, I’m not sure that the Shield are even “contracted performers” so it would stand to reason that they wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the Rumble. On the other side of this… You are spending far too much time on the life of the Miz. I would be happy to see the guy go away for awhile and reinvent himself. He’s stale, annoying and he really doesn’t have any allure as a good guy. You sir… are a Miz Mark!

Randy Orton

PTB: Orton entering late in the Rumble scared me. I don’t want this guy on my screen and he should be as far from a championship as possible. I don’t know or care about what Orton’s future holds but the crowd still seems to so he’ll land somewhere on the WreslteMania card, most likely in a tag match against the Shield.

THE JASON: Speaking of people who should just go away, while I have no desire to see Orton in any further title matches I have no issue with him in a losing predicament as we saw with Wade Barret a few weeks ago. I still think we’re getting Sheamus and Orton in a match at Mania.

Wade Barrett

PTB: I really like that he’s calling it “the Great Barrett Barrage.” There was a point that I expected a Sheamus/Barrett confrontation at WrestleMania, but that would be boring as sin. An NXT battle with rising star Bo Dallas could be a surprise on the card after their confrontation in the Rumble match.

THE JASON: How about a face Nexus reunion to take on the Shield? Oh yes, that sounds like a license to print money right there! Because what is David Otunga doing right now anyway?


PTB: I have less to say about this guy than I did about Orton. I really see him in tag match against the Shield unless someone more interesting takes his spot.

THE JASON: I have nothing to contribute other than my comment about Orton. I think they’ll be paired together at Mania and have a decent match that the two of us will spend the warm-up discussing what we were eating during their match. My predication: The Artesian Blend Doritos shall win.

PTB: Despite the finish, the Rumble match was servicable last night. It’s actually hard to pick a favorite moment between Dolph versus the returning Jericho was great and Goldust versus Cody Rhodes.

THE JASON: It was a somewhat pedestrian rumble, we did get to see a few surprise entrants with The Godfather and Goldust. The two were actually surprise returns in 2002 as well. Do you think we’ll get any more of the Cody vs. Goldust in the Rhodes brothers’ feud?

PTB: Picking the lowest point is tough too however. Otunga was more disappointing than the surprise entries of Lawler and Cole last year.

THE JASON: I would rather Otunga’s erstewhile coffe thermos be a surprise entrant rather than him.

PTB: This year had its share of wasted entries mostly in the final ten and the return of the Godfather. Did GF break Santino’s record for shortest time in the ring?

THE JASON: I don’t quite understand why they bring in the old stars to excite the crowd only to let them down immediately after by having them be eliminated so quickly. I felt far worse for the Godfather’s hos.. ahem, escorts. The girls were far more, how shall we say, restricted than in the attitude era. The PG world of the WWE is no place for a ho.

PTB: It helped set up an exciting moment for Kofi even if he was immediately eliminated. It’s reminiscent of his push where he gets great exposure but loses over and over.

THE JASON: That Rhymes! PTB, you’ve coined a phrase!

PTB: What is the deal with Rey Mysterio?

THE JASON: I’m not sure. I keep hearing that he is dealing with personal issues which is why is appearances have been so sporadic lately.

PTB: At one point Cole uttered, “Cena has been a beast.” He hadn’t. Daniel Bryan made a more spectacular entrance than Cena despite the lack of eliminations. Team Hell No had some fun entering at 21 and 24 although Kane didn’t break the all time record for eliminations as I thought he would.

THE JASON: Bryan’s elimination was great, but I think Team Hell No’s time has run its course. I was surprised that Cody and Sandow didn’t win the belts last night. I’m not sure what they do with the tag team division right now. It had a hot reboot a few months ago, but it seems like they’ve lost a bit of interest in it again.

PTB: I still can’t believe he dropped the World Championship to Alberto Del Rio a few weeks ago and lost a rematch at the Rumble. His screaming “You’re gonna “what” me?!??!” was great last week and I’ve liked seeing him get to be the big bad giant. I think his time on the active roster is coming to an end another WM win would be nice to see.

THE JASON: My money is on Show getting paired with Ryback and we’ll get to see some feats of strength. A win doesn’t seem likely!

PTB: Alberto Del Rio has turned into a bright spot again since embracing the crowd. His in ring work has elevated to a whole different level and I honestly look forward to seeing him again. I also really enjoyed seeing Bret Hart out there with him last night acknowledging that Del Rio as a top tier guy.

THE JASON: I am pleasantly surprised at how quickly both Del Rio and the crowd have come around to his new-found good guy status. I didn’t think the tainted win last night harmed him at all, and recalled Eddie Guerrero for me which can only be viewed as a positive. As far as who he draws at Wrestlemania, I couldn’t say. I was counting on Ziggler, but with Jericho’s reappearance there seems to have led to a detour. I hate to say that I could see a heel-turned Orton showing up here as well.

PTB: Finishing up, Mick Foley got his stellar video package last week but he did have to share the night with another inductee announcement, namely Bob Backlund.

THE JASON: We’re definitely getting an MSG-centric lineup so far. I can’t wait for Backlund’s acceptance speech since he is certifiably wacky.

Read more about World Wrestling Entertainment on MyLatestDistraction.

Keep up with all of our weekly Monday Night Raw Warm Ups:
January 21st, 2012 edition / February 4th, 2013 edition


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