30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - 1-20-14
By Al Laiman
Jan 21, 2014 - 10:36:10 PM
credit Tom Jenner
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30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - RAW 1-20-14
1. Column #164 on the main page, here we go. It's snowing like hell, school was cancelled, so an afternoon of Monday night wrestling is just what the doctor ordered. The opening video always reminds me of the time someone asked me how RAW always happens on Martin Luther King Day. We're back to normal with The Authority starting off the show in the middle of the ring. They play Exposition Fairies for a few minutes, providing the "In case you missed it..." for everyone in the building, who I presume thought they were attending a preview of Antiques Roadshow. H teases the imminent return of Batista, only to get Randy Orton cutting off their opening narration.
2. Orton argues with The Authority, because you know, he's their golden boy and they're both heels, right? Stephanie makes a full-out plug of the WWE Network, sounding completely natural in conversation yet managing to mention all the features of it so seamlessly. Orton's Kofi Meltdown is revisited, which is nice because this show doesn't have enough recaps yet. They even give us a long shot of the closed ambulance doors. Stephanie attacks Orton for deplorable, ruthless actions, despite a few months ago imploring him to take deplorable, ruthless actions.
3. I'll give him credit, Orton's actually showing an emotion. I'm impressed, which is saying a lot for me. Did The Authority turn face and I just missed it or something? Triple H attempts to fire up Orton, encouraging him to take matters into his own hands, once again after getting mad at him for taking matters into his own hands. I'm guessing the rematch with Kofi will lead to his decimation. It might be just like having Sin Cara go over ADR, making those upset wins... You guessed it... Entirely pointless.
4. Hey, why is The Rock coming out to Batista's theme? Truthfully, I'm happy to see him back. I've been there live for several big career moments for him, both when he turned on Triple H after winning the Rumble, and his return in 2006 when he decimated Mark Henry. So far though, I'd put that return over this one, but being there to hear that epic Philadelphia pop may play into that a little bit. Damn, this is one helluva long opening segment. H gives him a mic and leaves him alone in the ring with Orton, which I'm sure will in no way end in anything but a pleasant Evolution flunky reunion. He immediately makes his intentions known while the girl in view between them is so immersed in the confrontation that she hasn't looked up from her phone in several minutes. I have to admit, for all the build-up for his return, it seemed, as GreenwoodRosie put it, "passive." And guys, just as a courtesy, do understand that I rarely watch RAW when it's live, so please don't tweet me spoilers.
5. We keep getting the camera angle pointed at the vague area where people show up. I wonder how many times we'll get that same few seconds of footage re-aired to make it look like time lapse? JBL gets a little HAM in by doing his best Hacksaw impression. The six-man tag features both the tag and midcard feuds as well as a bit of guys who might be featured well, but probably won't win the Rumble. If any one of these guys has a chance, it's Reigns. Cole is nice enough to explain the details of the Royal Rumble (again), and for fuck's sake, I really hope the winner isn't Batista. Talk about someone who doesn't need the rub. Cody Rhodes gets some Kofi-like airtime on a spot to the outside, as the faces bring us into a conveniently-timed commercial.
6. As fascinated as I am by statistics, the Rumble numbers are the most interesting of the year. Not so much what numbers people come in, but all the statistics that come with entries, eliminations, time, etc. I find that stuff fascinating. I doubt he'll be in it, but I'd love to see Kane get the eliminations record. Big E goes house of fire on all three Shield members, and Goldust joins in with a rolling senton to the outside. Cody Rhodes goes for another Disaster Kick and Roman Reigns hits him right in the fuck. A melee of finishers commences, and it gets really good. Surprisingly, Rollins is allowed to do something other than take the fall. Decent match with a very exciting finish. Recaps and more recaps, zipping through.
7. We come back to an already entranced Daniel Bryan, because we have to make up for all that time that first segment took, I guess. Despite this being a mediocre crowd to this point, they're going just as nuts for Bryan as Providence did. Yep, totally not over at all. Bryan goes through the explanation of the Family indoctrination, and while I do think it was rushed due to the media and fan reaction, as Tito wrote about in detail, this reasoning works just as well as it would've. Bryan goes on about exposing the Wyatts, as if they're escaped convicts from rural Mississippi or something.
8. The token YES! chant is interrupted by a Titan Tronned Bray Wyatt, HAMming it up as he's known to do. Bray does a brilliant job of rebutting everything Bryan said and justifying it as a heel should do. Bray calls him a traitor while telling him to kneel as if he's General Zod, and it cuts off right there. If the concussion rumors were true, it was a good way to keep Bryan from risking his health this close to the Royal Rumble while still getting him on the show and letting the crowd chant.
9. Everyone's getting jobber entranced tonight it seems. A rivalry has apparently been developed between Xavier Woods and Fandango, but this is the first I've heard about it. TROOF on the commentary desk isn't a bad thing though, and hopefully we can get some vintage TROOF HAM. Holy hell does it end quickly though. Hey, Batista needed that time to stand on the ropes.
10. The dickmeasuring feud between Kane and Maddox continues before Stephanie comes in. Steph reams out Kane for attacking CM Punk... Okay. Kane tries to respond, but she cuts him off and tells him that he can't attack anyone. Then what's the point of having a Kane? She demands that he go apologize to CM Punk. Did I miss something? Because I'm incredibly confused. These are the same people that had the Shield as their personal APA and encouraged Randy Orton to act like the kidnapping vicious dickwad he was in 2009. Unless it's a bad mirage, I feel like I missed something crucial recently.
11. Citizen Kane reluctantly comes out for his apology. Despite not having the mask or being Kane Kane anymore, he still does that angry headtilt look. Punk, one of the heavy favorites for the Rumble match, saunters his way to receive Citizen Kane's apology. It was one thing to see the Big Red Machine hug it out comedically, but apologizing for chokeslamming someone is just so weird. Punk taunts him by pretending not to hear, and these two might get into some HAM-to-HAM combat here. Punk wastes no time and jumps all over Kane. Major laughs at JBL calling Kane "defenseless." Kane starts to fight back and Maddox cuts him off. Instead of facing Kane, he'll face one of the Outlaws instead. What have they done to you, Kane? What have they done?
12. You know, I realize that Billy Gunn used to be Rockabilly, but why since he's come back have they treated him like the big Lennie of the group? Bill Engvall in tights justifies their actions by saying that turning on Punk got them attention. Kay. An easy distraction gives Gunn the advantage and sends us into an anti-climactic commercial break.
13. Billy continues working over Punk, and he doesn't look like he's missed a step. Road Dogg gushes over watching Billy work like he's a twelve-year-old on Ed Sullivan seeing the Beatles. Punk then gets Billy away and jumps all over Road Dogg. Road Dogg pulls Gunn out of the ring to avoid an elbow, but eats another high spot for his troubles. This gives Billy another chance for an advantage, but Punk regains his bearings and gets the win. Entertaining match and a nod to their Feudception.
14. Maddox takes the mic again, but Kane comes back again and addresses him once more. Kane decides to punish him by pulling a 2004 Voldemort on him and make him the number one entrant. Whether he wins or not, I guarantee he's going to have a helluva run for what will probably be his first truly impressive Rumble run. Meanwhile, the HAM Sandwich and his big, yelling, ad-plastered bodyguard enter through the conveniently-placed alley cam.
15. The same Royal Rumble highlight video they show every year, slightly modified, plays, skip. Using one of Cole's cliches, "switching gears," we transition into the Mae Young tribute. JBL seems to have a habit of adding in half cut-off statements tonight. Mae Young was a tremendous contributor to the business, and probably the toughest woman I've ever seen. Wrestling in her 80s, taking a table spot off the stage, and doing everything she did. By all accounts, a truly amazing person. Every one of those Divas owes a helluva lot to that woman. I don't think anyone will have anywhere close to the tenure she had ever again.
16. Oh JBL, not Mysterio and ADR again... Orton had his time to impress me tonight, but I seriously doubt seeing this match for the third time in a week is going to do much. Cole slips up and calls Punk's number one spot "coveted." The entire arena is reacting like a Diva's match is on. That is the power of the Black Hole of Charisma; it traps everything, even giving a shit. Mysterio hits an admittedly-sweet moonsault, which of course Cole ruins by saying that would've eliminated him from the Royal Rumble. Thanks, that really helped enhance the moment. But hey, JBL, is ADR Mexico's Greatest Export? I haven't gotten that yet. ADR gets what I swear is a three count, but I guess it was only two. Oh, I guess the match went into commercial and I didn't even notice.
17. ADR looks like he's crying upon the return. Someone stop cutting onions around that man! Del Rio again goes with the ripping mask angle, because he's all about originality, and it spills to the outside. Mysterio is too busy adjusting his pants to fight off ADR bringing him back, so... Yeah, don't feel bad for you at all, buddy. Mysterio starts coming back with a high spot, and then ADR decides he took a headscissors a few seconds after Mysterio hit it. Lawler says he's got Del Reeling... This match is finally picking up, and by that I mean I heard something in the crowd. Mysterio gets a near-fall with Del Rio breaking it because of the ropes. Del Rio then gets the Cross Armbreaker and wins. Pretty sure a few people in the crowd noticed.
18. To the surprise of no one, Batista's music hits again, and he comes out to confront the guy who's been talking all the trash about him. Damn, Batista really took the idea of skinny jeans to a new level, didn't he? Batista hits a Batista Bomb, sans the sitout part, and Del Rio gets flattened. I'm surprisingly okay with that.
19. I'm still amazed how they're building up this Big Show/Lesnar confrontation, as if they've never faced each other before. Convenient short-term memory, I suppose. Let's take bets on how long it takes before Heyman quotes Lesnar's t-shirt. Big Show does it first though, turning it up to 11 with a spiral-glazed impression that sounds more like a combination of Tweety Bird and Smeagol than Paul Heyman.
20. Paul comes out offended, I guess, and then doesn't say anything before Lesnar's music hits. Never been a big fan of Brock but I do still mark for that theme. They leave instead, and Big Show does not approve. They're trying to build it up to be longer than it took Big Show to punch Zeb Colter last week. Lesnar punks out Big Show, but then fails to attack him effectively. Show tosses Lesnar, and he sells like he just swallowed the souls of Shawn Michaels and Dolph Ziggler and turned it into overdrive. Lesnar takes a chair and beats the announce table with it because... Reasons. Show mocks it, and Big Show's gonna be tough to beat for a second straight HAM of the week. Not to be outdone, Lesnar yells like Jan Brady on crank that he'll see Show on Sunday. Good JBL, that was ridiculous.
21. Yet another Diva's tag match... Notice they got full entrances... They use That Thing to show Bad News Barrett running down AJ. A heel shaming another heel, and she goes nuts when she finds out no one likes her? The girl who claims she doesn't care what anyone thinks? I don't get it... Are they on the same random alignment as the Authority? I guess the Funkadactyls have taken over Brodus's old theme, although it restarts really early for some reason. The things I notice...
22. I'll admit, I'm really struggling to pay attention. This show lost a lot of steam in the second hour after a very promising start. Naomi wins, because AJ's going crazy again and we need a reason to plug Total Divas at the Royal Rumble.
23. Recaps, recaps, recaps... We get that same Royal Rumble video for the second time in the damn show, because we missed it the first time, I guess. Then we get a rundown of the card. Now, speaking of things we saw earlier in the show, the MLK video plays again as well. Man, how much television time am I skipping here? Gotta fill that three hours somehow.
24. The Usos are facing the Wyatt Family, sans Bryan. We'll see if they keep that great reaction they've been getting. They get the Sabu entrance, because well we just had an entire block of television replaying highlight videos, so some things just have to be sacrificed. As expected, it's not nearly what it was, but we'll see if crowd support picks up during some high spots. Nope, not really, but the action is still good. Rowan fails at sending one of the Usos over the top rope, so he's nice enough to just roll out on his own to give the Wyatts the advantage.
25. The big Wyatts continue their power struggle, keeping the Usos down and stomping all over them. Jimmy takes a nasty fall, getting pushed over the top to the security barrier, and that of course is another commercial transition. Maybe some douche will be eating nachos while running again. Bray takes the mic midmatch and starts yelling at people. Reminds me of Gladiator, "are you not entertained?!" The lukewarm tag finally comes, and seeing Harper get taken up like that was pretty impressive. The match definitely picks up here while Bray continues to yell things.
26. Suddenly, Daniel Bryan attacks from behind and takes out Bray and Rowan. This gives the Usos the opportunity to get a third straight win over the Wyatts, continuing their hot streak, and keeping Daniel Bryan away from danger. I really hope he's a late entrant in the Rumble. Bryan even gets mediocre crowds to go crazy, and let's just say Pittsburgh doesn't have the best reputation for great crowds.
27. Time for retribution, as Kofi Kingston walks to his fate, very similarly to a former scenario involving these two. Orton's all over Kofi in no time, and it stays pretty fast-paced for several minutes. Orton keeps glancing toward that footage that is totally live and not looped whatsoever, anticipating the arrival of the golden boy. Hopefully they're finally doing something with Kofi, even if he doesn't win this. Stagnant doesn't even begin to describe his status.
28. The match continues on as interesting as it can be. Kofi gets an SOS for a near-fall, and then Cena finally shows up in that totally live footage. Cena hits the ring, and Orton tries to bail. Kofi is nice enough to step out of the way so he can lose the match via DQ... All right. Good Guy Kofi Kingston, I guess.
29. Cena and Orton keep fighting while Cena convinces himself that lime green was definitely the way to go. The fight spills into the seats while the crowd goes nuts seeing a fight this close. It goes the whole way to the luxury suites, and unfortunately this isn't in Hershey and I'm not there. A huge crowd went out to see what was going on, and Orton has a ride waiting for him. We spend a lot of time afterward showing Cena being outside, walking back in, and hanging out with the crowd, and that's how the show ends. Wait, no it doesn't, we're still watching John Cena hang out and pose. Okay, we got it, he came out victorious in this one. Get on with it. There, it ends, with lime green tossing.
30. So this show had its moments, but that's to be expected before, in my opinion, the second-biggest Pay-Per-View on the calendar. I'm looking forward to the Rumble match, as it's my favorite, and I really wish I could've gone. Someday, Beck and I will go. I think the favorites coming out of this show would be Batista, Reigns, and Punk... Bryan of course if he enters. Should be fun as it always is. Hope everyone in the northeast is dealing with the inclement weather, as I plan to have a glass of zin and enjoy good company. See you next week.
It came down to Big Show's impression or Brock Lesnar's yell, but surprisingly, Big Show takes it for the second week in a row. I like him so much more when he's allowed to do something other than walk around and be slow.
2012 - Daniel Bryan
2013 - Paul Heyman
1-6-14 - Dean Ambrose
1-13-14 - Big Show
1-20-14 - Big Show