*Warning: Some things are going to be out of order. These are thoughts, not an in depth review.
McMahon opens in the ring with some comments for the fans, but gets interrupted by the Big Show. This is all so they can set up a match between Show and Alberto Del Rio at the Royal Rumble, a World Title rematch. They are mostly just setting Alberto up as a big Face, which oddly seems to fit him far more than the heel persona he’s been playing for the past year and a half. I’m not even kidding… Alberto Del Rio seems much more naturally inclined toward the Face role, much more comfortable with cheers, and the match is on for the Rumble. Decent stuff, mostly solid, I have nothing to complain about here.
The Intercontinental champion faces Randy Orton, though I’m not sure if this is a title defense of not… but here’s the big shocker: Wade Barrett not only wins, but he does so clean with a solid Bull Hammer elbow. Orton is pinned clean by the heel champion… not sure if people are really aware of how huge that win actually is for Barrett, but Orton has been golden boy for so long that a clean loss like this maneuvers Barrett and his title into a much better picture.
A really good segment with Team Hell No and their doctor… entertaining, funny, and perfectly fits within the confines of a wrestling angle. It has a purpose, it develops the feud with Rhodes Scholars, and it gives the team a chance to do something more than JUST argue with one another. As much as Bryan and Kane have been comedy gold, the schtick does need to grow beyond the same rehashed moments over and over again… this segment allowed for some real growth.
The two matches are spaced wide apart, but both are good and Team Hell No both grab individual wins over the upcoming challengers at the Royal Rumble. Everyone takes huge advantage of the television time they have, decent television timed matches from all involved.
Foley inducted into the Hall of Fame, huge deal and a great moment for the fans who have followed his career… I’m a big Foley mark as I’ve loved Cactus Jack since the first I saw him. But he doesn’t get a chance to have that big “moment” when the Shield come down to rain on his parade. This would seem like a huge jeer from a fan like me, but I’m actually thrilled he took this big moment and used it to help put over the three young guys and Ryback when he came down for the save. Little thing I loved about that is Dean Ambrose’s reaction when Ryback’s music hit… this frustrated stomp and the rolling eyes bit was a huge sell, and while many marks may have overlooked it that little reaction sold the moment better than a huge pop from the audience.
Little side note… they’ve been showing tweets all night from past and current stars on the roster, including an interesting comment from the internet “sensation” that is Zack Ryder. The recent end to his internet show and some recent tweets have made it sound very much like Ryder is on his way out the door… frank truth is that the WWE dropped the ball when it came to cashing in on his successful self-promotion but they may finally start gaining some dividends if they’re just building up a heel turn. Frankly, he really does need the heel turn or something big to put him back on the map or the WWE is going to wind up losing a guy whose tireless self-promotion will go to work for someone else. Ryder isn’t the best worker in the ring or on the mic, but he’s capable of upper midcard right now and could probably develop himself much higher if he’s lucky.
CM Punk vs. Brodus Clay is getting some “heat” from a couple of smart marks on the Wrestlemaniacs facebook group as being a pointless segment that didn’t actually do anything for either wrestler. I don’t only beg to differ, I’m going to give a little lesson in the psychology of character and storyline development.
An advertised segment for the Rock Concert absolutely demanded a response from CM Punk… and what better response than for him to come out and wrestle a match? This is a man who calls himself the best WRESTLER in the world, not entertainer and he’s not some Hollywood part time star. He isn’t there to trade verbal barbs with Dwayne Johnson, he’s there to put his knee into the face of his opponent. By taking on the 400 Lbs. monster known as Brodus Clay he’s able to add legitimacy with a clean win, he’s able to openly mock the fan friendly dancing, and he’s able to solidify the differences between him and The Rock.
What did this match do for Clay? Perhaps some people only pay attention to the winners and losers, but the match showed Clay as a brutal monster capable of being far more aggressive than he has been in the past year. He tosses wrestlers over his shoulder, he drops them on their heads, and he barrels through them with a fairly brutal offense… and he’s shucking and jiving for the kids to get a big pop. This match opens the door for him to get more aggressive… he took a certain offense to CM Punks’ comments, and maybe he takes it with a heel turn or he decides to defend his own choices with regards to his character. This match provided a terrific opportunity for Clay to showcase his ability in the ring and find a foot-hold to develop his character beyond the Funkasaurus Rex simplicity that has relegated him to the lower card.
Rock and Sock Connection back stage and the magic between them is still there. But it felt like something more could have come from this segment, and it just fell a little flat toward the end. It served to pretty much remind the fans that the advertised “Rock Concert” was going to happen near the end of the show, that the Rock was really there, and that he was going to lay a verbal beating on Vicki. Yay?
The Miz interviews the Natchah Boyeee(!) in a segment that served to look back on catch phrases throughout the twenty years of RAW… and, the Miz is still supposed to be a face and he’s still supposedly over in the eyes of the WWE. This segment goes on… and on…. And on… before Antonio Cesaro hits the ring and drags the segment out even further by allowing the Miz to put the figure four leglock on him after Ric Flair chops him a few times. Dumb segment made dumber by not putting over the heel, made even stupider by the time allotment for this segment. JEESH!!!
Sheamus vs. the 3MB… was odd. I like that Sheamus was eliminated and that the 3MB finally managed to win a match. Sheamus seems to be kind of stuck right now, hitting that brogue kick every week on people. No feud in the near future. Not sure what they want to be doing with him, to be honest. This was mostly an excuse to talk about the Royal Rumble, let’s be honest.
Build up to the steel cage main event… and the cage match itself can be encapsulated with the following statement: Nothing says “credible opponent” quite as much as having John Cena repeatedly defeat Dolph Ziggler and his brand new debuting bodyguard in a series of matches designed around the fact that Cena is superman. The past few weeks have been time well spent on having the all ready over and shining golden John Cena repeatedly beat Dolph Ziggler in one match after another. Bravo?
Rock concert… CM Punk interrupts.
Eh, it was okay.
8 out of a possible 10, or 4 out of 5. Not out of the park awesome, but better than average.