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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: Two Really Big RAWs Coming Up
By The Doc
Jan 5, 2013 - 12:45:13 PM

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What will you be watching - RAW or the BCS Championship game?

Follow me @TheDocLOP on Twitter for wrestling/sports discussion or friend me on Facebook (TheDocLOP)

The BCS National Championship game is coming up Monday night after over one month’s hype. Alabama will clash with my beloved Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, where I recently scattered my father’s ashes in view of the famous Golden Dome. It’s been a bittersweet football season. Nobody would’ve been happier to see the Irish go 12-0 and earn a shot at the elusive title than my dad. The last time that I saw him, we watched them defeat Michigan in late September. I don’t think either of us would have ever guessed that they’d run the table. When I was a kid, my nickname for my dad was “The Gipper.” In two nights, I hope the Irish go out and win “just one” for him.

I’ve thought about him a lot lately. His dad introduced me to professional wrestling some twenty-six years ago. My dad sat with me for hours watching Coliseum Videos of late 80s and early 90s WWE PPVs. I thought of him when Ric Flair returned to Raw a couple of weeks ago for the Slammys. The Nature Boy was his favorite wrestler and we got to see his final match (yes, his last match as far as I’m concerned) down in Orlando five years ago. Going to Wrestlemania and Notre Dame were two of my favorite experiences with my father. My passions for both wrestling and football were born from my relationship with him and enhanced by our trips to the Meccas of each respective sport.

Notre Dame trumps the WWE the day after tomorrow, but I’d remiss if I didn’t mention how intrigued I am by the next two Raws, especially the one nine days from now on January 14th. As college football season comes to an end, Wrestlemania season will begin. In my Wrestlemania Season Preview column after Thanksgiving, I made some bold predictions given what the majority seem to think is in store for April. I am anxious to see if the stars align and I get the card that I so very much want to see come to fruition.

On October 6th of last year, there were three games on the college football schedule that featured teams ranked in the top 11 of the polls. All of them were undefeated. The January 7th and 14th Raws remind me of that weekend.

LOP legend, Davey Boy, and I had a discussion once about America’s obsession with college sports. He’d come over from Australia to tour the States and he couldn’t wrap his head around the American fascination with what is essentially amateur athletics when we’ve got the best professional football and basketball leagues in the world. I told him that it was because the college seasons were all about the end of the road. With football, in particular, the entire slate of regular games is played with the national title on the line. If you lose, that’s often it. You can’t be a 9-7 New York Giants type of team in college, sneak into the post-season (when there is one for CFB), and win the Super Bowl. It makes September to December must-see television. My comparison for him to make my point stick? January to April – the time for wrestling when everything matters twice as much.

In college football, there are several months worth of games played to help set the stage for the biggest event of the CFB calendar. If Wrestlemania is the national title game, the Royal Rumble would be the SEC Championship, and the Elimination Chamber the Big 10 Championship. These upcoming Raws would be the late September, early October showdowns that help separate certain teams from the pack. From them, we should start to get a clearer image of what the bigger picture will look like in a couple of months. And me? I’m College Gameday…

Both shows seem important. There is a “big fight” feel to them. The manner in which they book Ryback is going to be a major talking point on the 7th edition. His TLC match with CM Punk could be a breakout performance (even in loss). I don’t think we can state that definitively until Punk is in the ring and the bell has rung (no bait and switch shenanigans) because his presence means a lot to the potential success that Ryback can achieve that night. Obviously, a Ryback victory would be a shocker, but also simultaneously the best way to put him over. I don’t think, nor do I wish to see, that scenario take place. I’d like to see Punk, in all honesty, avoid that match altogether. What sense it makes to put your WWE Champion of 400 plus days, who is getting ready for a huge title match at the Rumble and then something presumably huge at Wrestlemania, into arguably the most dangerous match in wrestling today is beyond me. It makes about as much sense as Lebron James hiring a guy who once sold replica football jerseys out of his trunk to represent him as his agent.

So, let’s say Punk wins, as expected, with help from the Shield. Again, if Ryback shines in defeat, then he’s still got a moment to build on. I will also be curious to see what, if any, interaction that he has with The Rock. It’d be a smart use of 3 hours and make the title match result seem uncertain if Rock and Ryback had some sort of stare down early in the show.

The Rock’s presence, in general, is going to be tough to miss. I’ve made it no secret that he was the star that I most enjoyed during an era of Attitude that I, by and large, did not enjoy; and it was Rock who got me to follow wrestling religiously again with his match with Hogan. Few stars in history could come back and make me think, even for just a second, about placing anything but 100% of my attention on a national title game featuring Notre Dame for the first time in 25 years. Hopefully, I can watch the Irish and refrain from seeing anything Raw related until the following morning. I want to get emotionally invested in what Rock has to say to CM Punk and how the champion responds to his verbal barbs.

I’ll also be curious to see if any Rock vs. Cena teases occur. The closer we get to Wrestlemania, the less I find myself interested in a rematch between the two. It’s not that I don’t want to see Cena vs. Rock again; hell, I rated their first match 5-stars (something I’ve only done ten times EVER). The problem is that there is one John Cena match that I desperately want to see ahead of anything else. I want to see Cena try to end the Streak. There’s not a single match left for the Deadman that could come close to achieving what Cena vs. Taker could, both financially and critically. Until the WWE comes right out and says, “Cena or Taker are facing someone else besides each other,” I’m going to hold out hope.

The 14th show, which will be the 20th Anniversary of the first Monday Night Raw in 1993, should be awesome. That’s the night that I’ve got circled on my calendar. I’ve had it or the 7th pegged as the night they’d do the anniversary program for months, particularly because I fully expect to see Stone Cold Steve Austin that night to set up something big for the future. That show is too close to an event so grand for him not to get involved in a meaningful way; something I don’t feel that he’s done in almost ten years. His presence as a guest referee, for me, has not added to any of the stories that he’s been involved in (not even Lesnar vs. Goldberg, which I thought Austin significantly detracted from). He’s been used as a nostalgia act only and since I don’t get all that excited by the nostalgia of seeing the Snake Rattle his way around the ring pouring beer all over his face, that hasn’t done it for me. Yet, Austin the character that intends to wrestle CM Punk would. Again, holding out hope…

Taker, Austin, Rock, and maybe even Brock should all be there. I hope they all do something that matters if they are there. I’d be beyond disappointed if the 14th was merely a rah-rah session to promote the “longest running weekly episodic show on television.” We saw that with the 1,000th Raw. Two of those within six months would be overkill. If those old-timers show up, it’s time for them to do something that will matter in the grand scheme of things and engage in some rivalries that lead to actual wrestling matches. Leave the longing for yesteryear at the airport. We’ve got DVDs and YouTube to look back at history; go out there and help make some new historical moments.

The main thing I’ll have my eye on is hints for Mania. Call me crazy, but I’m not buying a Mania full of rematches from 2012. On just about every respectable site, the pundits are calling for Triple H vs. Lesnar II and Rock vs. Cena II with Taker vs. Punk as the third wheel. That reads as pretty uninteresting. Expect to see something different begin to develop in the next nine days, if you ask me. #bold

I’ll reiterate to you what I often do my football pals when it’s seven games into the season and we get treated to a battle of unbeaten teams with championship dreams:

Take the time to appreciate the next two Raws because it doesn’t often happen that we get two big television shows that will set the tone for the next three months.

All year, we seem to sit around and dissect everything, often criticizing and rarely praising. “Raw is bland,” we say. Well, 1/7 and 1/14 aren’t likely to be that.

Let’s all sit back and enjoy it…

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