1/21 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: The Rock and C.M. Punk, final hype for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from San Jose, California at the HP Pavilion
[Q1] The show opened with the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute video. It concluded with a graphic that read "Long Live The Dream"... Michael Cole introduced the show briefly. Vickie Guerrero chimed in with an Excuse Me. She walked arm and arm with Paul Heyman onto the stage and down the ramp.
Vickie said doing the right thing isn't always the same as doing the popular thing, especially when it comes to The Rock. Heyman introduced himself. The crowd booed. Vickie smiled and golf clapped for him. Heyman said he was with Vickie as a show of unity and solidarity.
Heyman said The Rock defamed the character of Vickie and himself. Heyman said Vickie was the best and sexiest general manager of this show and any other television show. Vickie introduced footage to show just how atrocious Rock's behavior was. Heyman didn't want to see it. Footage aired of Rock singing that Heyman hasn't seen his penis in years.
Back live, Heyman said it's one thing to pick a fight with him because Rock has to answer to C.M. Punk in six days, but to pick a fight with a poor, defenseless widow like Vickie is vile and contemptible. Heyman had the footage of Rock singing to Vickie last week.
Powell's POV: I was surprised to hear Heyman refer to Vickie as a widow. That's something that never seems to come up with her character.
Heyman consoled a flustered Vickie, who then said Rock won't be doing that again this week. She said that while The Rock is in San Jose, she has officially banned him from entering her arena. She said that if he enters the building he will be arrested by the San Jose police. A crew member approached Vickie to tell her that Rock has arrived.
Powell's POV: You knew they wouldn't leave people thinking Rock would not appear for very long.
Rock was shown backstage with a trio of indy wrestlers in bad cop suits, er, San Jose's finest. Rock told them that he knows they have a job to do, but nothing is going to stop him from electrifying the people tonight. One of the cops apologized and said they would have to arrest him if he entered the arena.
Rock said the cops should arrest Punk. He said Punk is like Manti Te'o only he doesn't have an imaginary girlfriend, he has an imaginary nut sack. Rock said Heyman should be arrested for not wearing a bra. Rock told the cops to ask Vickie what her intestines look like, because if she thought he wouldn't appear in front of the people she must have her head up her ass. Rock said it's not a question of if, it's a matter of when he appears in front of the people.
Vickie said that if Rock enters her arena, the only thing he'll be singing is Jailhouse Rock. Heyman told the crowd that was clever. "If you smell what the Vicki is cooking," Vickie closed with...
At ringside, Cole and Jerry Lawler spoke. Cole said Vickie Guerrero has decreed that there will be a Beat the Clock Challenge. He said six superstars would compete and the person with the fastest time will choose what number he enters the Rumble at on Sunday. They also hyped Randy Orton vs. Antonio Cesaro... [C]
Powell's POV: I assume they are having six matches with six wrestlers who have a shot at winning and six who are just along for the ride. I'm never big on that aspect of the Beat the Clock Challenge, so hopefully it's three matches with all six wrestlers having the same opportunity. Rock was too over the top in that segment. Rock is normally cooler than everyone else. Yelling about the silly banishment was a little odd.
[Q2] Cole hyped that John Cena would address the WWE fans about the Royal Rumble match...
1. Antonio Cesaro vs. Randy Orton in a Beat the Clock Challenge match. Cole said both wrestlers will be trying to win the match as quickly as possible. Nice. Cesaro applied his usual headlock despite the match stipulation. Orton escaped the hold and was getting the better of Cesaro heading into the break. [C]
Powell's POV: It's nice to see that the wrestlers in the BTCC are all trying to win the match as quickly as possible. However, Orton and Cesaro must have missed the memo. There was no sense of urgency prior to the break. It felt like a standard match.
After the break, the action was more intense, as Cesaro shoved Orton off the top rope and then went to ringside quickly to get him back in the ring. Lawler noted that the sense of urgency had picked up as Cesaro went for a second and then a third cover that Orton kicked out of. Cesaro locked in a chin lock and Lawler said he disagreed with the strategy considering the nature of the match.
Orton came back and went for a hanging DDT, but Cesaro avoided it and got a two count. Cesaro threw Orton into the air and caught him with the awesome uppercut for a good near fall. Cesaro ran Orton through the ropes and into the ring post. They ended up at ringside and Cesaro rolled Orton back inside the ring. When Cesaro returned, Orton dropped him with the RKO and got the pin...
Randy Orton defeated Antonio Cesaro in a Beat the Clock Challenge in 11:36.
Powell's POV: It was refreshing to hear Lawler do more than giggle and tell jokes. He actually acknowledged the flawed logic and talked about the strategy of the match. I don't know if he came up with that on his own or if it was fed to him through the headsets, but I hope we hear more of that from The King either way. He was also quick to soften the blow for Cesaro losing by saying that he simply took his eye off Orton for three seconds and it cost him.
[Q3] The announcers set up the WWE Hall of Fame video for Mick Foley that included numerous career highlights and closed with Rock telling him he's a Hall of Famer last week...
A video showcased The Shield and featured camcorder footage of them talking. It concluded with the words "Believe in The Shield...we're just getting started"... [C]
Powell's POV: It's nice to see something from The Shield. I still feel the sit-down interview they did was much more effective than the camcorder style promos.
A graphic touted WWE's followers on Facebook and noted that John Cena led the way...
2. Big Show vs. Zack Ryder. Highlights aired of Alberto Del Rio's title win. Brad Maddox hopped the guardrail and sat in on commentary. "Hi, guys," Maddox said. Lawler told him not to scare him like that because he has a heart condition. Cole pointed out that Maddox doesn't work for the company and was escorted out when he did this on Main Event. Show finished off Ryder with a knockout punch. Show knelt on Ryder to pin him.
Maddox said he had a few other job opportunities he needed to check out. He left the same way he arrived. Show took the mic and said he wanted to give fans a preview of his Last Man Standing match. He put his foot on Ryder and counted to five, then got pissed at the crowd and said he's not playing around...
Big Show defeated Zack Ryder in 0:45.
The announcers hyped Ryback vs. Heath Slater for after the break...
Powell's POV: Good use of Maddox in that everyone in the world knew the outcome of the Show vs. Ryder match, yet the added commotion of Maddox forcing his way onto commentary kept things interesting.
[Q4] [C] Backstage, Heyman was on the telephone telling someone that there was no way Rock was getting inside the building. He was interrupted by Brad Maddox and his cameraman. Maddox hung up the phone and said that just like a young Heyman, there's nothing he won't do to keep his dreams alive.
Heyman said he admires Maddox's ambition and respects his initiative. Heyman said he's a big enough man to admit when he's wrong. He told Maddox to stick with him and he'd make his dreams come true. Heyman shook his hand and then mugged for the camera with Maddox. Heyman got back on the phone when Maddox left...
Powell's POV: An interesting development. I assume Heyman is setting up Maddox for disaster, but I'm curious to see where it goes.
3. Ryback vs. Heath Slater (w/Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre). Ryback hit a spinebuster and then a Meathook Clothesline. He followed up with a clothesline on McIntyre on the ring apron and then dragged Mahal into the ring and threw him at McIntyre. Ryback Shellshocked Slater and pinned him...
Ryback pinned Heath Slater in 1:15.
After the match, Ryback took the mic and said, "Damn, my job is fun." He noted that Sunday is his first Royal Rumble match. He said it's a match he was made for and a match he will thrive on. He said it will lead him to the main event of WrestleMania. Ryback started a Feed Me More chant...
Backstage, Rock told the cops that they've been doing this for an hour and he needs to get to the people. He said the people spent their hard-earned dollar to see him. He said they know what it's like when he comes out. He said it's a lifetime experience. He told them to listen closely as 15,000 people chanted his name. The fans chanted Rocky.
One of the cops spoke up and said he had tickets for the show. He said his wife and kid was in the arena. Vickie Guerrero entered the picture and wanted Rock arrested. One of the cops said Rock wasn't breaking any laws as long as he was in that area. Vickie said their superior said they would do what she says or be suspended. Vickie told Rock that C.M. Punk will be inside the ring addressing the people next.
Vickie said she might have a change of heart if Rock apologizes. Rock said there are two problems. One, he's going to get in the people's ring tonight on his terms. Two, "bitch, you still look horrible tonight." Vickie stormed off. Rock asked the policemen who they serve and then said he had an idea... [C]
An ad aired for Raw Roulette next week...
Powell's POV: WWE is in Las Vegas next week, so they go back to the roulette gimmick. I'm so happy I don't live in a city known for gambling. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy gambling and I love Vegas, but I would hate to suffer through a crappy roulette theme every time WWE brought a television show to my city.
[Q5] C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman headed to the ring for a promo. Punk said he holds the WWE Championship more dear to his heart than most men hold their families. Punk said that for 428 days, he has proven that he is the man. He said it's just a fraction of the time it's taken him to get to this point. He said he's worked half his life to attain the most prestigious title WWE has to offer.
"And I will not allow The Rock or any man to take this from me," Punk said. "The Rock is hear to entertain. The Rock is here to electrify. The Rock is here to sing songs and tell jokes. I am here to hurt people and be the champion." Punk said the title is important and prestigious because he made it that way.
Punk said the most insignificant thing imaginable are the people. He said Rock is almost as proud to be the people's champion as he is to be a real champion. Punk said he was forced to make a choice a long time ago between hypocritical humility and honest arrogance. He said he chose honest arrogance, while Rock foolishly chose them.
Punk said you can call Rock the Brahma Bull or the Great One, but you can't call him champion. Punk said he earned the right to be called champion and to be the man. Punk said that in six days, this is what Rock is on a collision course with. Punk told him to enjoy being the people's champion, the cheers, and the signs. He said he wants Rock to slap every hand and wink at every hopeful look the fans give him.
Punk said he learned a long time ago that the people do not matter. He said the WWE Championship matters. He said it doesn't matter whether he smells what The Rock is cooking, all that matters is that the people can't give him what will remain around the waist of your undisputed, WWE Champion, best in the world, C.M. Punk...
The announcers hyped John Cena addressing the fans heading into the Royal Rumble... [C]
Powell's POV: A good, intense all out heel promo from Punk. He didn't play it cool at any point. He went for pure heat. I am still hoping for another verbal exchange between Rock and Punk. The first one was so good and I hope it's not the only one we get from them.
A graphic touted that Raw was the No. 1 show on cable television last Monday night... Cole noted that it was Raw episode 1,026... Ring entrances for the next match took place. Highlights aired of Miz TV with Ric Flair and Antonio Cesaro. Lawler said Flair handed over the Figure Four to Miz...
Powell's POV: I wish Flair would have given Miz that move where he goes to the top rope and is inevitably thrown to the mat 999,999 times out out one million.
[Q6] 4. Dolph Ziggler (w/AJ, Big E Langston) vs. The Miz in a Beat The Clock Challenge. The announcers noted that the time to beat is Randy Orton's 11:36. Lawler noted that the clock would count down from that point. Miz targeted Ziggler's knee. The crowd did the obligatory "woooo" when Miz went for the Figure Four.
Ziggler kicked Miz off. Miz ended up at ringside, where Langston roughed him up and threw him back inside the ring. Ziggler covered Miz, but only got a two count before the show went to break. [C]
Powell's POV: For the record, I will vomit if Cena wins the Beat the Clock Challenge, announces he's taking the number one entry, and then goes on to win the Rumble.
After the break, Ziggler was in control briefly. Miz came back with some rapid fire pin attempts. Miz looked at the clock to see 2:25 remaining. The rapid fire pin attempts for both men continued. Miz applied the Figure Four horribly. AJ distracted the referee. Langston pulled Ziggler to the ropes, and the ref turned around and forced Miz to break it. In the end, Ziggler hit the Zig Zag after Miz was momentarily distracted by Langston and got the pin. Cole stressed that it was a team effort for Ziggler...
Dolph Ziggler defeated The Miz in a Beat the Clock Challenge match in 10:56.
Powell's POV: The New Master of the Figure Four should really learn to how apply it. Good lord.
The announcers spoke about the Royal Rumble fanfest event and the panels involving the Montreal Screwjob and DX. They, um, forgot to mention the WCW panel. They also hyped Kane and Daniel Bryan graduating from anger management...
[Q7] [C] Highlights aired of Dr. Shelby flipping out because Dr. Phil's name was mentioned last week...
Pomp and Circumstance played and Dr. Shelby stood at a podium set up in the ring and introduced himself as Dr. Marion Shelby. He welcomed viewers to the graduation party for Kane and Bryan. They came out and were dressed in caps and gowns, just as Shelby was. Shelby presented them with diplomas and moved their tassels.
Shelby asked them which of the two should be valedictorian and give a speech. Kane wanted it to be Bryan. Bryan wanted it to be Kane. They had a "You're the valedictorian" yelling match. Shelby asked them what if everyone everywhere hugged at the same time.
First up were Cole and Lawler. Cole had a big dopey grin and led out an odd chuckle as Lawler gave in and hugged him. Justin Roberts and Dr. Sampson hugged. Lawler said he'd rather hug Sampson because he saved his life. They started pointing out fans in the crowd to hug and the fans complied.They called for a group hug, as the three of them hugged in the ring and then jumped up and down. Not many fans followed suit. [C]
Powell's POV: I will not hug the person who made the call to extend Raw to three hours. Meanwhile, the sound of Pomp and Circumstance playing on Raw caused Randy Savage fans to awaken from their annual hibernation period so they could begin sending out one billion complaint emails that state Macho Man should be in the Hall of Fame ahead of (fill in the blank). Yeah, we get it already. Go hug yourself.
[Q8] Highlights aired of Kaitlyn beating Eve to win the Divas Championship last week, and Eve quitting the company later in the show...
5. Kaitlyn vs. Alicia Fox. Tamina was shown watching on a backstage monitor. Kaitlyn won with a spear... [C]
Kaitlyn beat Alicia Fox in 2:05.
Backstage, Heyman told Punk that he works too hard. He told him he's arranged a luxury skybox for him to watch as he delivers a personal message for The Rock. He said it's not a pipe bomb. "It's a Paul Bomb and it's dedicated to you, my friend"...
Powell's POV: Cole actually said stupid shit about how Kaitlyn's life had changed since she won the championship and how he could almost feel her confidence growing. Okay, so he has to say that nonsense, but the only thing about Kaitlyn's life that has changed is that she has to carry a a butterfly belt through airports and now the TSA agents will somehow use it as an excuse to rummage through her underwear.
After the break, Heyman was in the ring for his Paul Bomb. He dedicated it to Punk, who was seated alone in a luxury box. Heyman said the people seemed confused by what Punk said, so he would serve as his interpreter. "In other words, I will keep it simple for you," Heyman said slowly.
Heyman said Vince McMahon is desperate for someone to take the WWE Championship from Punk. He said the flavor of the month is The Rock. He said Rock was singing about him when he should have been thinking about Punk. "Just like the people, The Rock is stupid," Heyman said.
The Rock's music played. Rock headed onto the stage as Cole and Lawler recalled that he was banned from the building. Rock held up a ticket.
Powell's POV: I'm not allowed within 500 feet of One Direction, but you're saying all I need is a ticket and the restraining order is worthless?!?
Rock thanked the San Jose Police Department. Heyman tried to tell him the ticket doesn't entitle him to being in the ring, but Rock cut him off and called Twinkie Tits. Rock told him to get his fat ass out of the ring or Rock would slap the taste right out of his mouth. Heyman obliged.
Rock turned his attention to Punk, who was still seated in the press box. He noted that Punk has been champion for 428 days. Rock said it's incredible and historic. He said he knows how badass and tough Punk is and that he's earned the right to call himself the best in the world. Rock said that does not change the fact that tonight is his last night on Raw as the WWE Champion.
[Q9] Rock said that just as MLK had a dream, Rock has a dream of his own. Punk was shown laughing in a mocking manner. Rock said his dream is to be WWE Champion one more time. Rock said every man, woman, and child will be saying "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last." Rock delivered the "If you smell" line.
The lights went out. When the lights went on again, The Shield was in the ring beating on Rock. He fought back, but he quickly lost the numbers game. The trio performed the Triple Powerbomb on Rock in the ring. They mugged for the crowd briefly and then left the ring.
Punk said there's only room on top of the mountain for one man. He said you have to pay a price for your freedom. He said it's cute that Rock has a dream, but eventually you have to wake up from them. Punk said Rock will figure out that the truth is that he wasn't great enough to be the best in the world. Rock was lying on the mat spitting some blood from his mouth while Punk was shown holding up the WWE Championship in the luxury box...
Powell's POV: A good segment if you can look past the ticket nonsense. The Shield attack was a nice touch. I would worry that it will scare some into not ordering the Rumble because they expect Shield interference to spoil the main event. However, the more I think about it, I'd be surprised if that were the case. It actually seems like a good thing to make it seem like the deck is stacked against Rock a bit going into the match.
Another MLK video was shown... The announcer narrated highlights of The Shield attacking Rock. Cole said Rock was able to get to his feet and walk backstage on his own...
Powell's POV: Cena is not in a Beat The Clock Challenge match. Thank you, lord. I would ask why Cena didn't a chance to compete, but I really don't care. I even scared myself with that No. 1 scenario.
6. Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett in a Beat the Clock Challenge match. Cole noted that this was the final BTCC match of the night. Barrett worked over Sheamus's arm and clotheslined him to ringside as they headed into the break.
[Q10] [C] After the break, Barrett continued to work over Sheamus's arm. Lawler noted that the clock was counting down because they might as well just stop wrestling if the time expires. With 90 seconds left, Sheamus came back with White Noise. Rather than go for the pin, he looked at the clock and stared at it for about ten seconds. He backed into the corner and set up for the Brogue Kick.
Dolph Ziggler, A.J. Lee, and Big E Langston ran to ringside. A.J. walked through the ring and distracted Sheamus. Barrett caught him with a side slam for a good near fall. Sheamus recovered and hit the Brogue Kick, but time expired before he could go for the cover...
Sheamus and Wade Barrett fought to a non-finish in a Beat The Clock Challenge.
The announcers hyped Cena's promo for later in the show... [C]
Powell's POV: Ziggler gets to pick his spot in the Rumble match. Assuming it's pick No. 30 and his stated purpose in the match is to eliminate John Cena, this could be a sign that Cena will still be in the match very late. You can read into that as much as you like, though I would have assumed going into this show that Cena would be in the final four.
[Q11] A graphic noted that WWE has over 40,000,000 followers on it's Twitter network with Rock leading the way...
Backstage, Dolph boasted to Vickie that he gets to to pick his spot in the Rumble. He kissed A.J. in front of Vickie and sang "You look wonderful tonight" to her. Ziggler picked the No. 30 spot. Vickie said she didn't say he got to pick his spot. Rather, he had to choose between No. 1 or No. 2...
Powell's POV: So the whole Beat the Clock Challenge was pointless time filler? Vickie is still a heel unless she's around Dolph and AJ, right?
Backstage, Vince McMahon said he guesses Punk and Heyman think they are clever. Punk said they had nothing to do with The Shield. Vince said there would be severe consequences if The Shield interfered in the title match at the Rumble. Heyman ran through the list of people The Shield has attacked and said there's no evidence against Punk. Vince said he will strip Punk of the WWE Championship if The Shield interfere...
Powell's POV: That was their best attempt to tell viewers there will be a clean finish on Sunday. So Brad Maddox interferes instead? If so, I would suspect Rock to completely destroy him.
7. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Tensai in a non-title match. Ricardo brought the Mexican flag bucket to ringside and wore a Mexican flag colored bow tie. Del Rio performed a belly to back suplex and then caught Tensai with his kick in the corner. Del Rio followed up with a second rope moonsault for the win.
After the match, San Francisco Giants player Sergio Romo was shown in the crowd. Cole said he was there to see Del Rio. You know, because they are both Hispanic. Del Rio addressed the new Last Man Standing stipulation and said he will be counting in Spanish. Some of the fans joined him in counting to ten and then Ricardo led a Si chant...
Powell's POV: I don't know if you were aware of this, but Alberto Del Rio is Hispanic.
Cole and Lawler hyped that WrestleMania Axxess tickets go on sale on Saturday and then set up the second WWE Hall of Fame inductee announcement...
[Q12] Bob Backlund was introduced as the second member of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013...
John Cena's music played and was greeted with more boos than cheers initially. "Lively bunch here tonight, huh?" Cena said in an acknowledgement of the negative reaction. "Lively because you probably had a restful weekend, I imagine," he said. He said on the seventh day there was rest. It's always been a day for us to rest, recover, and recuperate.
Cena pointed out a young fan in the crowd and said Sunday is a day off from school. He joked about kids not using phones or going outside to play and the kid being a video game wizard who is keeping him at nube status. He said his user name is SkidMarks187. Ugh.
Cena pointed to a female fan at ringside and speculated that she spends her Sunday uploading Facebook photos but only the ones she looks good in and daydreams about the guy she met the night before. He pointed out another fan in the front row and said that was the guy she met. She said that guy has a receipt for $168 for two blow-up dolls and he can only find one. He said the fans also finds out he just Brett Favre'd himself on Facebook.
Cena said the point is that this Sunday is different because it's Royal Rumble Sunday. He said everyone in the WWE Universe is picking who they think will win the Rumble. Cena said there's a golden ticket on the line and a star could be born. He said all the eyes of the WWE Universe fall on the Royal Rumble. Cena said the world will find out what he already knows. "This Sunday, I will win the Royal Rumble," Cena yelled. The declaration received more boos than cheers.
Sheamus came out and said it was a bizarre and passionate speech. He said Cena has it wrong because the guy who won it last year will be winning it this year. The Prime Time Players walked out. No, really, I'm not joking. Randy Orton cut them off with his entrance. He said he didn't come out to dance or talk about deja vu even though he could. He said they were looking at the man who would win the Royal Rumble.
The Miz's music played. He did the "really" routine. He said he's going to win the Royal Rumble and then go on to main event WrestleMania again. Kane's music interrupted Miz's awesome line. Kane and Bryan spoke as they walked to the ring. They couldn't believe they were arguing about who was going to win. This led to an "I am" battle regarding which one of them would win the Rumble.
Antonio Cesaro came out and said he will win the Rumble match and dedicate his victory to his home away from home, the United States. Three Man Band's music played (really). They said one member would win. A group of additional wrestlers came out without entrance music and a big brawl ensued. Ryback was actually amongst those non-entrance wrestlers and he cleared some guys from the ring. The show went off the air with everyone brawling and Cole's final pitch for the Rumble...
Powell's POV: I've been disappointed with the lack of hype they've given the Rumble match. Be careful what you wish for. This was generic and predictable hype. Hell, in retrospect they should have closed with Punk vs. Rock hype. I'm happy the match got some attention, but it was just so generic. Cena was more concerned with being cute than selling the match. He tried to tie it together, but it just didn't work.
Raw didn't leave me any more excited about the Royal Rumble than I was coming in, which is a shame. Even The Rock's tone felt a little off in the segments with the indy wrestler cops, and Punk's closing promo was good, yet didn't pack the big go-home punch. I liked The Shield attacking Rock and Vince's followup ruling. I guess the most encouraging thing I can say about the go-home edition of Raw is that it didn't leave me less excited about the Royal Rumble pay-per-view than I was going in despite the last segment. I'll have more to say in an All Access audio review of Raw on Tuesday. Thanks for watching along with me.
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