WWE Raw TV report - Rock returns

WWE Monday Night Raw

January 7, 2013
Tampa, FL

Rob McCarron

Tonight is the night... THE ROCK returns to WWE.

John Cena opened up tonight's show to SPEAK! Before he spoke, however, we saw a brief video recap of the show-closing segment last week between Zigger, AJ, and Cena. Wonderful. Cena teased the crowd with The Rock's presence. He then began speaking of the Rumble until Dolph Ziggler, along with Big E and AJ, interrupted. AJ called John a very small man, and couldn't believe she had feelings for John. Cena played off on her comment about being a small man, going too long into a wiener joke routine. Dolph put a stop to John's jokes. Big E spoke! AJ yelled at him, asking who told him he could talk. Big E wanted to fight John, but Dolph balked at the idea. Too bad, Dolph, it's on.

John Cena vs Dolph Ziggler
John won despite interference from Big E Langston. AJ and Big E got kicked out of the ringside area during the match, but it wouldn't be for long. Dolph had the sleeper hooked on John, but during his struggle to break free, the referee was knocked out when John flung Dolph off his back. As the ref was out, Big E returned and attacked Cena. Big E left Dolph's arm to cover Cena, but that didn't work. A minute later, John won with the AA in a long opening match. Big win for Cena over a top star. He's got to be the favorite for the Royal Rumble!

Eve bails on Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn and Eve wrestled for about four minutes before Eve left the ring, opting to lose via count out than battle Kaitlyn any more. I see this going to Royal Rumble, apparently. Kaitlyn's been chasing this title for months now, will she ever win it?

A promo aired for next week's 20th Anniversary Raw.

Backstage, Santino and Ricky Steamboat were exchanging pleasantries. Wade Barrett came in to make fun of both of them. He said the Intercontinental title means something now. Wade vs Santino is coming up tonight!

Backstage, Matt Striker interviewed Orton about the Royal Rumble. 3MB came in to announce they had entered the Royal Rumble, also. Heath said one of them would main event WrestleMania. Randy then challenged Heath Slater.

Daniel Bryan & Kane vs Damien Sandow & Cody Rhodes
Uh, oh, trouble in paradise. Rhodes Scholars won the match, and Daniel Bryan tweaked his knee leading up to the loss. Bryan came up lame after doing his turnbuckle assisted backflip out of the corner. This allowed Rhodes Scholars to work the knee. Kane got fed up, and chased Sandow around ringside. Rhodes, still in the ring, escaped a desperate attempt at a small package from Bryan to hit him with Cross Rhodes for the win.

Randy Orton vs Heath Slater
Orton beat Heath Slater with an RKO. Orton was able to withstand numerous attempts by Drew and Jinder to help out their bandmate, but in the end an RKO was all it took to defeat the One Man Band. Baby. After the match, Orton hit RKO's on the remaining members of 3MB. Orton was put over big here so I'm definitely making him my pick to win the Rumble this year!

Wade Barrett Gets The Jobber Entrance
Wade Barrett beat Santino to prove his dominance over the former IC champ. Ricky Steamboat was in Santino's corner. Santino did have some hope, but it was brief. His usual hope of the the hip toss, then the tease for the cobra. Wade bailed, though, then retook control and hit his Bullhammer Elbow for the win. Ricky and Wade had a staredown afterwards. Seems odd and out of nowhere to tease Ricky and Wade.

Backstage, Striker interviewed Sheamus. 3MB showed up, and what do you know, Sheamus is going to Brogue Kick all of them, too.

Antonio Cesaro vs Great Khali
The Miz helped with commentary. WWE made the right move to rematch this on Raw. Cesaro hit his impressive neutralizer on Khali again for the win. Miz tried to put over his great experience edge over the rookie Cesaro during his commentary. Cesaro impressed again with his power, making him my immediate pick to win this year's Royal Rumble match.

Backstage, Paul Heyman was talking on the phone. Brad Maddox appeared. Heyman reiterated that he didn't want Maddox in his life. Maddox offered his referee services for the title match tonight, but Heyman said no in many more words, and left.

Sheamus vs Jinder Mahal
Well, hopefully this will be short. These two started with a few minutes of what felt like a lame middle-of-nowhere indie match, and then proceeded to have a more serious match which unfortunately was not very short. Of course, Drew and Heath were involved at various times. Sheamus withstood their involvement, much like Orton, to beat Jinder with the Brogue Kick. Big win here making Sheamus my definite pick to win the Rumble!

A lengthy video recap played of the entire CM Punk vs Ryback saga.

WWE Championship TLC: Punk vs The Ryback
Punk retained the title after much interference from The Shield. The actual match was great, and Ryback worked really hard. Smoke and mirrors aside, Ryback has to have earned some respect for this performance. He took a lot of big bumps, as did Punk. Mid way, Punk worked Ryback's knees and ankle to hinder the monster from climbing the ladder. Punk slammed a chair onto Ryback's ankle, which Ryback subtly sold throughout the match. Late, Ryback reversed Punk's attempt at a bulldog out of the corner by dropping Punk to the outside through a table. As Ryback climbed the ladder after this, the lights went out. The Shield appeared as the lights returned. Ryback tried his best to overcome the trio, but eventually was given a three team powerbomb through a table onto the ringside steps. Ouch. Punk slowly made his way back into the ring, climbed the ladder, and won. This match, dare I say, is the best match on Raw so far this year! Yeah, I said it.

Backstage, Team Hell No were arguing about who the blame fell on for their loss to Team Rhodes Scholars. Vickie showed up, saying Dr. Shelby was coming back to evaluate Bryan and Kane. This did not please the two Superstars. Kane called Shelby a monster, while Bryan argued he was a nerd. They then each reversed their positions, while still arguing.

Big Show vs Kofi Ki...
It was over that quick. Show hit the WMD on Kofi in under a minute for the pinfall victory.

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler recapped the final moments of Raw 1000, with Punk attacking The Rock to close the show.

The Main Event of the Evening
CM Punk back out. It's pipebomb time, apparently. He wanted to speak the truth to us. He said he created his anti-hero persona to break through the glass ceiling, to "sell out" so he could cash in. He said no one in the company has had any success without having the people behind him... until Punk. Punk has become the most successful WWE Champion of all time. He isn't a weak superstar who puts the people ahead of his goals. He called Hogan and Bruno's title reigns weak, he called Edge weak for missing the WWE Universe, and he called the audience losers. A point of his promo is that the audience can't follow complicated stories, and that they only buy into what is easy. It was telling that most of this promo had little heat, because in fact, it was too complicated for the audience. Either that, or they kept waiting for The Rock to come out. 

A stage hand got on the ring canvas to tell Punk to wrap it up, at which point Punk babbled on about how no one matters except for the champion and the show went to commercial.

Back from break, Punk was still in the ring talking. He said he beat the system by winning the WWE title, and that he beats the WWE Universe every time he beats a popular star for the WWE title. He again called the audience losers, which finally brought out The Rock. The crowd came alive with his entrance.

Rock said he waited for Punk to say everything he had to say so he knew exactly what type of man Punk was. Rock concluded Punk was delusional. Rock claimed Punk didn't reject the people, but the people rejected Punk. Rock then led the crowd in a "Cookie Puss" chant. Not this stuff again. Punk mocked the crowd for being puppets. Rock said he was back for three reasons: Entertain the people, stop Punk, and win the WWE Championship. He then made fun of Punk, calling him CrackEye, a skinny cracked out Popeye. After that, Rock put over Punk for his creative mind, but called him the biggest jerk the world has ever seen. He then said there's no way Punk stops Rock from becoming champion.

Punk retorted by saying he's unlike every other guy Rock has stepped in the ring with. He said Rock has three weeks to realize that he's now in the big leagues, and his "arms are too short to box with God."

Rock replied with some jokes, all to end with saying he'd kick Punk's ass at Royal Rumble. Rock then gave Punk a Rock Bottom as this long, long, long verbal segment ended.

I really don't know what to think of this show, mostly that last segment. It was so very odd, yet it obviously did the job of getting the crowd to hate Punk. Just, odd.

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