Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - C.M. Punk and The Rock have a tense conversation, Ryback comes close but it stopped by The Shield, John Cena and Dolph Ziggler have a great match, and more!
By Will Pruett
- The "Tonight on Raw" segment recapped the events of the last few months perfectly. I've decided to forget about all editions of Raw between The Slammys and this show, and I feel like that was the right choice.
- It was odd for John Cena to hype up The Rock's appearance. Doesn't he still dislike him? There might be some respect, but I assume they aren't friends.
- I don't know if this was the right moment for Big E Langston to talk. He didn't say anything of consequence and accepted a match for Dolph Ziggler that Ziggler eventually lost. It would have been the right moment for Langston to wear a suit instead of his goofy singlet. It's always the right moment for that.
- Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena was a great match. It was good enough to be a house show main event or even on a pay-per-view. The near falls were great. Ziggler looked tough, even in defeat. John Cena was still Superman, but that's to be expected.
- Why didn't the second referee disqualify Ziggler? That was an odd moment.
- Jerry Lawler was fairly insufferable on this show. I'm psyched about him being alive, but his commentary is at an all-time low. On this show, he was the guy that constantly reminds you that this is the first time something is happening in 2013. No one likes that guy. Why is Lawler that guy?
- Eve vs. Kaitlyn was a buffer match after the very good Cena vs. Ziggler match. I was okay with the placement, although it would have been nice to see the women get a little more of a story to tell. Diva storylines are often overly simplistic. They could be more.
- Why are Santino Marella and Ricky Steamboat friends? Steamboat seems far too serious to be friends with Santino.
- Randy Orton and Sheamus both had bad backstage segments with 3MB and matches with members of the faction. This is always an odd time of year, as WWE often has feuds end and doesn't begin new ones until after the Rumble. A faction like 3MB is useful as far as generic heels go.
- Daniel Bryan and Kane vs. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow was a fine match, but I feel like we've seen it one or two too many times. Perhaps now is the time for a title change to freshen up this program.
- Are Daniel Bryan and Kane more valuable as a tag team or as singles stars? I'm not sure that there is room in the upper tier of the card for them as singles wrestlers at this moment. Also, I would rather see The Shield in the tag title picture and Bryan and Kane are the more logical ways to work them into it.
- Randy Orton is really good at RKOing his fellow mid-carders.
- How many times have we seen Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler? It's always great, but that match has been done to death over the past six months. It'll be fine on Main Event, but I don't see why anyone would watch it.
- Ricky Steamboat did almost nothing in Santino's corner. I'm guessing the idea is for Steamboat to eventually find someone to beat Wade Barrett, but it'll take some time. I'm not sure about Steamboat as an on-air character, since he's never been a great promo guy and can't wrestle anymore.
- Sheamus shouldn't sing.
- Kudos to The Great Khali for having that good match with Antonio Cesaro. Khali is a worthwhile act when he's having feats of strength performed on him. I'm glad they had Cesaro repeat the Neutralizer spot from Main Event on WWE's most watched show.
- Brad Maddox (and his camera man) continues to be one of my favorite things on wrestling TV. I don't know what the future holds for him as a character, but I'm entertained by the guy's charisma and portrayal of the desperate former referee.
- Sheamus is really good at hitting people in the chest.
- C.M. Punk vs. Ryback felt like a pay-per-view match and that was a good thing. WWE gave it all the bells and whistles normally reserved for pay-per-view (video package, extended entrances, in-ring announcements) and made this match feel huge.
- Aside from getting the big pre-match build, Punk vs. Ryback was also just a great match. It was Ryback's best singles effort to date. He proved that he can sell in the right circumstances and is more than just okay in the ring. Punk helped Ryback achieve that as well.
- The TLC match is going to have a hard time being topped this year. It's already on the TV match of the year list for me.
- Punk vs. Ryback had so many great spots and was really fun to watch. This match is a must-see for anyone.
- The last hour of this show was basically the Punk show. That's not a bad thing.
- While The Shield's involvement in the TLC match was predictable, it was also the right move. It made sense and saved both Punk and Ryback from being hurt by the result of the match. Ryback has been an unexpected surprise in the last few months and WWE did right by him here,
- What will the future hold for The Shield and Ryback? Will they all be in the Royal Rumble? I'd tend to expect them to.
- C.M. Punk promised a "pipebomb" promo, which may have been effective. That phrase, however, became a cliche about a year ago when Michael Cole started using it frequently to describe Punk's promos with John Laurinaitis. I know part of the promo was rehabbing the "pipebomb" term, but the promo might have been more effective without those lofty expectations.
- Kofi Kingston was knocked by Big Show in mere seconds. Why did this need to happen?
- C.M. Punk's promo prior to The Rock entering seemed to meander a little more than necessary. Perhaps the idea was to make the crowd hate him passionately prior to Rock's entrance, but it was slightly heavy-handed. Punk's promo wasn't the pipebomb it was promised to be, but it was entertaining. There are worse ways to fill time.
- Tyson Kidd is underused. That was true.
- The Rock's promo was standard Rock and that is not a bad thing. He still knows how to masterfully interact with a crowd and create some magic.
- There was a stark difference between what Rock was doing and what Punk was doing, but the differences didn't hurt the segment. Rock, as a character, is meant to be larger than life, while Punk is strongly based in realism. The contrast here made the segment.
- Rock's promo built up Punk, called him tough, put over his title reign, and promoted the Royal Rumble show. Where was this last March? Rock always throws in a little comedy, but the respect given to Punk was a welcome change from Rock's promos tearing John Cena down.
- Punk meandered at the beginning of the promo, but at the end, when it came time to go face to face with Rock, he brought a level of intensity rarely seen. The Rock matched it and for a moment (around Punk's "box with God" comment) I had chills. The chemistry between these two is evident. If WWE is planning to let these guys go at it this way again, we are all in for a treat or two.
- People are going to debate about winners and losers in every Rock promo exchange. It made sense with John Cena, but now with Punk, I say we all win. We get to see two of the most entertaining and vastly different wrestlers on the mic go at it. I'm already psyched for their next encounter.
Overall, this show would have been a decent pay-per-view, let alone an episode of Raw. It has two good-to-great matches and a promo exchange that will be worth watching for years to come. What more could we ask for? Sure, between the Cena-Ziggler match and Punk-Ryback the show was total filler, but the content that was meant to entertain did so. This was a great episode of Raw.
Happy WrestleMania season, everyone! It's on.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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