By: Todd Martin
Date: 01/24/11 from Detroit, MI.
The Big News: The Royal Rumble is Sunday.
Edge started the show by saying he didn’t want to wait for his match with the Miz. He told some jokes and made no reference to his title match with Dolph Ziggler. The GM popped in to say that match would take place later but that Edge would have an additional exhibition immediately.
Edge won a four man battle royal. The stipulation announced by the GM was that whoever eliminated Edge would get spot 40 in the Royal Rumble. Jack Swagger ran in and received an immediate spear. Tyson Kidd went for a springboard but was caught by an Edge powerslam. Edge then threw Kidd out. Drew McIntyre hit a yakuza kick on Edge and tried to throw him out but Swagger attacked McIntyre from behind. Swagger went after Edge but Edge dumped him over the top. McIntyre then went for the future shock but Edge eliminated him.
I’m not sure as to the wisdom of a superfluous match with a guy not in the Royal Rumble easily dispatching middle of the line guys in the actual Rumble (McIntyre, Swagger). After the match, Edge went after the computer. Michael Cole tried to stop him and then Nexus came out. Edge just kind of disappeared at that point.
CM Punk said that only the strong survive and they survive because they evolve. He said that Nexus is expanding and evolving with Mason Ryan. Mason Ryan said, “Faith.” Punk said they are bonded by faith, unlike Cena and the Core (I’m not misspelling the word to help WWE merchandising, sorry). Punk said that Nexus will see to it that he wins the Rumble.
The Core came out. Wade Barrett said the Core isn’t like Nexus. They’re not brainwashed by one man but are four equals. Okay, so the angle is apparently communists vs. cult. I guess that would make Barrett Lenin, Jackson Trotsky, Punk L. Ron Hubbard and Otunga Tom Cruise. At long last that explains the A-List gimmick. Well, it would have in 1996, anyway. I just hope this doesn’t end with Alberto Del Rio stabbing Jackson in the head with an icepick.
Ezekiel Jackson vowed to eliminate Punk. Mason Ryan then got in Jackson’s face. This was a really cool, intense scene but then the goofy anonymous GM came in to completely dismantle the seriousness of the scene. I say this every week now but it’s not like it’s a minor or debatable point. The anonymous GM badly needs to go. The GM announced Punk vs. Barrett for later in the show with the loser and his group out of the Rumble match and with John Cena as the referee.
King Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio beat Mark Henry and John Morrison. Morrison was successful early but then the heels took over. They showed Michael Tarver backstage in the middle of the match. It seemed like they were re-branding him as a singles act of some sort but maybe he’ll join the Core. Hopefully for him he doesn’t end up in the Darren Young position.
Morrison eventually got the tag to Henry. Henry hit punches and head butts but was caught with the Brogue kick. Morrison took out Sheamus with a kick and corkscrew pescado. In the ring Del Rio caught Henry in the armbar for the submission.
Natalya beat Melina to retain the women’s title. Melina was dominant early including hitting the curb stomp. As she went for a leg drop to the crotch, Natalya countered with the sharpshooter. She bent Melina all the way back to a crazy angle for a submission. That was a tremendous looking finish and a great use of Melina’s flexibility.
Frequently when the women work in flexibility spots it’s counterproductive because they seem to be showing off when they’re supposed to be in pain but here it made the submission and Natalya look impressive. After the match Lay Cool made fun of Natalya and said they would use their title rematch at the Royal Rumble.
Backstage, Nexus was concerned about Punk losing. Punk said they would all sacrifice their shot at the Rumble to ensure Punk wins. Punk said that if he wins the Rumble, their lives will change. Husky Harris asked what would happen if Punk was eliminated before they came out. Mason Ryan replied that Punk won’t be eliminated.
McGillicutty said Cena wouldn’t let Punk win the match later in the show. Punk said Cena would have no choice and that the better man would win. He added that Wade Barrett has been making Cena’s life hell while he has simply been making the world a better place. That’s a great heel line. He told everyone to have faith. They all took a knee and put their fists together. Punk is so awesome in this role.
John Cena backstage said that if Punk won the main event he would eliminate all of Nexus as the Royal Rumble. He then made fun of the Core and told some jokes. Miz interrupted and said that if Cena wins he better not come after Miz or he’ll get what Randy Orton got last week. Cena challenged him to fight but Miz declined.
Edge beat Miz via disqualification. Jerry Lawler acknowledged not watching Smackdown during this match and blamed it on Vickie Guerrero’s presence. Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero did commentary at ringside. Miz went for a superplex but Edge pushed him off and hit a crossbody off the ropes. Edge hit a baseball slide on Alex Riley and an implant DDT on Miz. He was setting up for the spear when Ziggler tripped him and hit the zig zag.
I just don’t think setting up major TV matches and paying them off with screw jobs is an effective way of getting people to order PPV matches. Afterwards, Randy Orton hit the ring to go after Riley and Miz. The geeks Riley and Ziggler got quick RKOs while Miz attacked Orton’s leg and ran off with the title.
Wade Barrett backstage said that he became obsessed with the title and in the process lost Nexus. He asserted that now the Core has no leadership issues because they are all equals. He said that he hopes Teddy Long has a successful recovery and vowed to make sure Nexus doesn’t get to the Rumble. He concluded by saying that he knows Cena doesn’t like him but hopefully Cena will come to respect him like he respects Cena.
Ted DiBiase, Maryse and Alicia Fox beat Daniel Bryan and the Bellas. This was a nothing match with a terrible finish there just to set up an angle between the Bellas and Bryan. Brie was coming onto Bryan on the apron when Maryse rolled up Nikki for the win.
The Bellas argued backstage and then ran into Bryan making out with Gail Kim. Bryan said that Kim has been his girlfriend the last six months. Kim said that Bryan felt sorry for the Bellas, who have nothing to do without the guest stars appearing on Raw. The Bellas made fun of Kim for never being on television and a brawl broke out.
Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty beat Vladimir Kozlov and Santino Marella. This spot as undercard tag team champion getting in his comedy spots against low level guys is the perfect role for Santino. Nexus beat up Santino. Kozlov was taken out by a punch as he stood on the apron and that was pretty much the last we saw of him. Santino made his own comeback and went for the cobra but was caught by a Harris clothesline and reverse STO for the win. I like the occasional match where there isn’t a hot tag as a change of pace.
Wade Barrett vs. CM Punk ended in a double DQ. Cena ejected Nexus and the Core, mocking each. He shoved down Punk and mocked Punk not being able to retaliate. Then he slapped Barrett and mocked him. He threw Punk over the top rope. He went to sign autographs when Barrett went to cover Punk. Cena then called for a double DQ for excessive profanity, seemingly eliminating both groups from the Rumble. It’s nothing new but Cena was such a dickhead here.
The GM said that this was an abuse of power. He said that all the members of Nexus and Core would stay in the Rumble. He added that Cena needed to go into the ring and apologize to both men or he would be out of the Rumble. Cena said he was sorry to both Punk and Barrett but then he attacked each. Nexus and Core ran out. A bunch of other random people ran out and they did their annual random brawl to close Raw before the Rumble.
As with the Miz/Edge match, I just don’t think that total crap finishes to advertised TV matches help build pay-per-view matches. That can work if crap finishes are the exception rather than the rule, but when they are so prevalent on television and on pay-per-view it just accentuates that the promotion makes no good faith effort to provide finishes to matches. That in turn makes pay-per-views seem less appealing. Moreover, they built up a stipulation and then just completely bypassed it when there was no point in adding the stipulation in the first place.
This was kind of your prototypical WWE PPV go-home show from the past few years. It kept your interest and was entertaining, while seemingly having either no knowledge of how to make people interested in purchasing the pay-per-view or no interest in achieving that goal. Most disconcerting was the fact that they didn’t even bother to have different Royal Rumble participants talking about winning the match, and the few people who did interviews spent more time telling jokes than building matches.
Finally, I just want to apologize to anyone who got an unwanted e-mail from me in the past week. I was trying to send out selected Facebook friend requests and ended up sending out e-mails to my entire e-mail list instead. I hate e-mail clutter so I feel bad about that and apologize to anyone who was annoyed, even mildly.