1/20 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Batista returns, final hype for the Royal Rumble match and pay-per-view, followup on Daniel Bryan's turn on the Wyatt Family
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Dayton, Ohio at Nutter Center
[Q1] The annual Martin Luther King Jr. tribute video aired for MLK Day... Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler are on commentary... Justin Roberts introduced Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Triple H was about to introduce the returning Batista (while Stephanie smiled maniacally), but Randy Orton's music interrupted them. He asked who in the hell they think they are.
Stephanie questioned who Orton thinks he is. She brought up WWE Network and said there have never been more eyes on WWE, yet Orton attacked John Cena's father. Stephanie then called for the footage to be played on the big screen.
Powell's POV: I guess she doesn't think there are as many eyes on them this week? Seriously, if they were embarrassed by the video, why in the hell would they want it replayed?
Stephanie said Orton's actions were despicable and unbecoming of a WWE Champion. She said there is a new regime, a new authority, and if he can't abide by that then he won't have to worry about defending his title or even being part of WWE anymore. Orton blamed Hunter and Stephanie for their actions setting him off. Orton complained about Hunter bringing back Brock Lesnar and Batista.
Orton said if he could go back in time he would not change a thing. Hunter told him he better take the bass out of his voice. Hunter said they made him the face of WWE because they believe in him despite all of his faults. He said Orton lost to Kofi Kingston and they expect him to rise up, not go after Cena's father.
Hunter said John Cena is getting the title shot and Batista is right behind him. Hunter told Orton to rise up and fix a lot of things. He booked Orton vs. Kingston. He pointed to the backstage entrance where talent arrive. Hunter said they put a camera there so that Orton will know when John Cena arrives. Hunter said Orton would then make it right with Cena. "You will do all of these things alone," Hunter said.
Batista's music played and he walked out wearing a jacket zipped down to expose his chest.
Powell's POV: The jacket look is something that Justin Bieber would find cool. Skinny jeans? Really?
[Q2] Batista hugged Triple H and Stephanie, who then left the ring while Orton stayed behind. Orton held out his hand, but Batista didn't shake it. "Hello, Randy," Batista said. "So I understand that you have some questions about my return. Let me make this as simple as possible and let me explain to you why I'm back. For that (pointing at the title belt). So whether it's you or John Cena or someone else, I don't care. I'm back to win the Royal Rumble match on Sunday, I'm back to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and I am back to headline WrestleMania, so deal with it"...
Powell's POV: Was that last part directed at Orton or the entire locker room? The crowd was hot for Batista's return despite his odd taste in clothing, which seemed to be a strange combination of Bieber's jacket and Russell Brand's jeans.
Cole hyped a face-to-face with Brock Lesnar and Big Show, and Lawler hyped Big E Lagnston, Cody Rhodes, and Goldust vs. The Shield for after the break... [C] Cole said the WWE Tag Team Championship match with Goldust and Cody Rhodes vs. The New Age Outlaws will be the Royal Rumble Kickoff show match. The panel will be Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and Jim Duggan...
1. Goldust, Cody Rhodes, and Big E Langston vs. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose. Cody performed a cross body block onto Rollins at ringside and then the babyfaces stood tall in the ring heading into the break. [C]
[Q3] The Shield isolated Cody after the break. Cody caught Reigns with a Disaster Kick and tagged in Langston, who worked over Ambrose. Langston performed a great suplex and followed up with the running splash on Ambrose, but Reigns broke it up, then hit the Superman punch on Cody when he went for another Disaster Kick. Reigns also speared Goldust, but Langston knocked Reigns down. Ambrose tagged in Rollins, who performed the curb stomp on Langston and got the win...
The Shield defeated Big E Langston, Goldust, and Cody Rhodes in 10:00.
Powell's POV: Really good action after the break. I am surprised they didn't tease some tension amongst The Shield members heading into the Royal Rumble match. It was also surprising to see Langston pinned, but perhaps they are setting up a Langston vs. Rollins match.
A video recapped the Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt conclusion from last week... Cole said Daniel Bryan would break his silence about his time with the Wyatt Family... [C]
Powell's POV: Bryan turning on Wyatt was the hottest part of last week's show and it took them 36 minutes to acknowledge it. Meanwhile, we got about ten shots of the parking area where Cena will arrive to avenge the seemingly annual attack on his father. Granted, they need to do what they can to get the title match over, whereas Bryan is clearly the most over guy in the company right now, but I still think they should have treated the Bryan and Wyatt segment like a major happening before now.
The announcers hyped WWE Network and said it is just 35 days away...
Daniel Bryan led "Yes!" chants as the announcers spoke about how incredible it was to watch. The crowd chanted Bryan's name and he smiled in response. "And some people say I shouldn't be the face of this company," Bryan said. JBL stated on commentary that Bryan has an ugly face. Bryan said people have asked him if he had a plan.
Bryan said that to take down a guy with a messiah complex you have to do it mentally. He said he had to do things he's not proud of to do that. He said he had to keep his friends in the dark, take part in the indoctrination into the family, and hang out with three men he despises while waiting for the one moment when he was alone with Wyatt and he got it last week.
[Q4] Bryan said he exposed Wyatt and at the Royal Rumble he's going to do the same thing. He said he was just informed that Luke Harper and Erick Rowan will be in the Royal Rumble match, which leaves Wyatt to go one-on-one with him. Bryan led "Yes!" chants as Cole confirmed the match.
The lights went out and Wyatt appeared on the big screen. He said a man who is not willing to die for something is not fit to live. He labeled Bryan a traitor and said he exposed himself as a coward. He told Bryan to go home and hug his mother and tell her he's sorry because everything that happens to him now is his fault...
Powell's POV: The Bryan explanation was what was expected. It wasn't very good when you really think about it, but it was the best they could do to fill the holes of a storyline that was cut short. Furthermore, it doesn't matter. The fans love Bryan and most will be eager to accept whatever excuse was thrown their way because they're just happy he's back to being himself again. Wyatt was good and intense in his response. I'm holding out hope that Bryan is a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble match, as I know many of you are.
2. Fandango (w/Summer Rae) vs. Xavier Woods. R-Truth sat in on commentary and hyped his Main Event TV match against Damien Sandow. Fandango hit the top rope legdrop for the win. Emma from NXT was shown dancing in the crowd again...
Fandango pinned Xavier Woods in 1:05.
Powell's POV: I have no problem with the outcome of the match or how quick it was. The Xavier Woods character is really flat. He's a talented guy, but it's just not clicking.
Backstage, Brad Maddox took credit for coming up with the idea of Batista returning. Kane started to object, but Stephanie McMahon entered the room and dismissed Maddox. Stephanie asked Kane what he was thinking when he chokeslammed C.M. Punk last week.
Stephanie said Kane needs to get ahold of himself now that he's in management. She insisted that he cannot put his hands on a WWE Superstar. He apologized. Stephanie said she appreciates it, but he needs to do something bigger in this case - apologize to Punk...
Powell's POV: Stephanie McMahon's dick swinging, talent emasculating, authoritative segments are only slightly better than watching Dixie Carter on Thursday nights.
[Q5] Kane made his entrance and footage was shown from Smackdown of Kane chokeslamming him. Back live, Kane invited Punk to join him in the ring. Kane begrudgingly apologized. Punk acted like he couldn't hear him. Kane played along and apologized, the Punk punched him and ended up clearing him from the ring.
Kane started to go back after Punk, but Maddox yelled at him to stop. Maddox said he would give Punk a match against either Road Dogg or Billy Gunn. They came out and played rock, paper, scissors to determine who would face Punk. Dogg went to the commentary table...
3. C.M. Punk vs. Billy Gunn. It was all Punk for the opening minute, but Road Dogg stood up and distracted him, so Gunn went on the offensive heading into the break. [C] After the break, Punk dove onto Road Dogg and punched him repeatedly. Later, Gunn got a near fall when Dogg stood on the apron and Punk ran into him.
Dogg pulled Gunn from the ring to help him avoid an elbow drop. Punk performed a suicide dive onto Dogg. Later, Punk avoided the Fameasser, and Punk hit the GTS for the win...
C.M. Punk defeated Billy Gunn in 8:55.
[Q6] After the match, Maddox congratulated Punk on the win. Kane came out and took the mic and said every number in the Royal Rumble is random except for Punk's. Kane announced that Punk is the number one entrant in the Royal Rumble match...
The backstage entrance camera showed Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman arriving... [C]
Powell's POV: No surprise that Punk is number one, but I am surprised that it came from Kane rather than being attributed to The Authority. I can't say Punk's current run with the part-time legends (Kane included) is doing much for me. As for the camera footage, didn't John Cena tell everyone that he is the first person there and the last person to leave?
The WWE Royal Rumble numbers video package aired... The broadcast team spoke about Mae Young at ringside and set up a video package that was narrated by Stephanie McMahon...
Powell's POV: A very good piece of video production that was greeted by a polite round of applause afterward.
Rey Mysterio made his entrance for his rubber match against Alberto Del Rio. Mysterio had a 619 wrap on his arm, that Cole used to tell the story that he is not 100 percent going into the match...
[Q7] [C] 4. Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio. Mysterio caught Del Rio with a kick that knocked him to the floor, then followed up with an Asai moonsault (or springboard moonsault as WWE likes to call it). Del Rio took control and dominated the next few minutes and then threw Mysterio under the bottom rope and down to ringside. [C]
[Q8] After the break, Del Rio twisted Mysterio's mask and tied him up in the tree of woe. Mysterio got his share of offense and two counts in. However, Del Rio caught him in the Cross Arm Breaker and got the submission win...
Alberto Del Rio defeated Rey Mysterio in 14:50.
Powell's POV: Both men worked hard and this was the best of their three matches. The problem I had with the match is that they've had 15,000 matches before this one and I just have a hard time getting excited about seeing them work together again. Again, though, they worked as hard as anyone tonight and they did manage to get the live crowd to go from sitting on their hands to reacting to the near falls and big spots.
After the match, Batista headed to the ring in his cornball jacket and skinny jeans and confronted Del Rio, who teased leaving and then took a run at him. Batista gave him the spinebuster and ripped off the bad jacket and gave him the Batista Bomb...
Powell's POV: A good segment, but it didn't get the sustained mega pop one would expect for a returning star. It may have been different if this was his first appearance of the night.
Backstage, Big Show was shown talking to some guy and Lawler hyped that he (Show, not the guy) would go face-to-face with Lesnar after the break... [C] A brief MLK video was shown...
Big Show made his entrance as the footage of Show tossing Brock Lesnar in a previous angle was shown. Show mocked the way Heyman talks. Show said Brock is one of the most dangerous superstars in WWE right now, but he just doesn't like him. Show called for Lesnar to come out and se what happens.
Paul Heyman walked out and didn't saying anything. Brock Lesnar's music hit and they started to walk toward the ring and then stopped. Heyman and Lesnar laughed while walking backstage. Show told Lesnar to "drag your ass out here and get in my face."
[Q9] Lesnar and Heyman returned and headed to the ring. Lesnar got in the ring and he and Show went face-to-face. Lesnar gave Show a little headbutt and laughed, as did Show. Lesnar went for a takedown, but Show blocked it. Lesnar got Show in the corner and hit him with shoulder blocks. Show picked up Lesnar and tossed him to the floor. Brock threw a fit and started tearing the announcers' table apart. Heyman and Lesnar headed to the back...
The announces hyped Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston, and another shot from the parking garage camera was shown... [C]
Powell's POV: I can't wait for Lesnar vs. the announcers' table on Sunday! Oh, wait, he's working Big Show? Yeah, not so much.
A.J. Lee and Tamina made their entrance. Tamina was covered in cake. Footage aired from the app of Bad News Barrett congratulating her on becoming the longest running Divas Champion, but then telling her that the bad news is that no one likes her. Lee threw a fit and slammed the cake into Tamina's face...
Powell's POV: This is what you miss when you don't watch the WWE app during the commercial breaks? I'll take the 15 ads for Modern Family airing on USA Network.
5. A.J. Lee and Tamina vs. Cameron and Naomi. The crowd was very quiet as the match started, but then a small dueling chant regarding Lee kinda broke out. In the end, Lee got cocky and skipped around the ring only to be rolled up by Naomi...
Cameron and Naomi defeated A.J. Lee and Tamina in 2:40.
Powell's POV: And now Tamina spends the rest of her night sorting through tweets from horny jagoffs who volunteer to lick the cake off of her. Ah, the life of a WWE Diva.
[Q10] A brief Batista replay was shown... [C] A graphic touted WWE Network... Another Rumble number video was shown... The announcers ran through the Royal Rumble pay-per-view lineup... An MLK video was shown (also available to view on the main page)... The Uso Brothers made their entrance. Cole hyped The Uso's vs. Harper and Rowan for after the break...
Powell's POV: I sure hope that the wrestlers shown on the Royal Rumble match graphic are not all actual Rumble entrants. There were plenty of filler types shown on that graphic. By the way, we're one hour away from Prowrestling.net Live. Details on the free audio call-ing show are available at the top of this article.
[Q11] [C] Big Show and Rey Mysterio will face The Real Americans on Friday's Smackdown television show...
Powell's POV: Smackdown will be taped in Grand Rapids, Michigan tomorrow and we are looking for correspondents. If you are going and want to help us out, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan (w/Bray Wyatt) vs. The Uso Brothers. Harper and Rowan were in control when the show went to break. [C] With his men in control, Wyatt took the mic and said Bryan is entering a meat grinder at the Royal Rumble. He said they are reapers and hell awaits Bryan.
[Q12] The Uso Brothers made their comeback, but Harper caught Jey going for a suicide dive and eventually slammed him for a good two count. Bryan ran out and attacked Wyatt from behind at ringside. Bryan blasted Rowan with a kick and went back to punching Wyatt. In the ring, Jey rolled up Harper for the win...
The Uso Brothers defeated Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in 12:35.
Cole hyped Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston for after the break... [C] Cole hyped the Kickoff match and Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and Jim Duggan as the panel for the show...
Powell's POV: The crowd popped big for Bryan even though there's just not enough reason for Bryan to hate Wyatt as much as he does. That's a real issue with this feud right now, but the fans seem more than content rooting for Bryan even if the feud is missing a reason for the intensity between the two. By the way, it would have been nice to at least hear from Kofi Kingston tonight. I realize his win was just a setup for the John Cena Sr. angle last week, but it wouldn't hurt to give him a little something tonight before he gets fed to Orton.
7. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston in a non-title match. Orton looked behind him during his entrance. He threw fists at Kingston to start and then asked, "Where are you, John?" Kingston got the better of Orton for a bit, but Orton quickly regained control and continued to call out for Cena.
Kingston rallied and hit the SOS for a two count, but Orton came right back. Cena showed up for work two hours and 59 minutes late and was shown running into the building, which Orton saw on the big screen. Kingston awkwardly stopped fighting Orton and let Cena go after him.
Randy Orton fought Kofi Kingston to an apparent no-contest in 5:10.
[Overrun] Cena and Orton fought into the crowd with Cena dominating. He went for the Attitude Adjustment, but Orton used his elbows to break free and then walked away. Cena went after him. Cena chased Orton through a luxury box and out to the front of the building, where Orton climbed inside the passenger's seat of a car that drove away. Cena expressed frustration over not getting to Orton. Lawler said he didn't know what to say. He wasn't alone. Cena slapped hands with some fans outside the building and then headed back inside the arena where his music played and he shook more hands to close the show...
Powell's POV: They didn't do a big sell for a mystery regarding who was driving the car, but the announcers seriously seemed like they were at a loss for words while calling that anticlimactic mess. This show was flat, especially considering it was for a go-home edition. The decision to focus more on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship than the Royal Rumble match was disappointing. They played the video packages and slotted Punk first, but I don't feel like there are compelling stories heading into the Rumble match. I'll have a lot more to say about this during Prowrestling.net Live shortly as well as in the WWE Raw Hit List on Tuesday. Thanks for watching along with me tonight.
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