30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - 2-3-2014
By Al Laiman
Feb 3, 2014 - 11:50:21 PM
credit Tom Jenner
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30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - RAW 2-3-14
1. Well this should be interesting, to say the least. And just as I say that, Randy Orton comes out, so I guessed wrong already. Cole takes his turn being exposition fairy to explain the rules of the Elimination Chamber. Maybe I've never noticed before, but Randy Orton gets to keep his lighting for his promo now. And wow, that didn't take long for the "CM PUNK!" chants to start. Orton does his best to talk over it, and it's visibly frustrating him. It sounds like he's chewing on something as he tries to talk, and he runs down his Elimination Chamber opponents. Orton is not suited for these feud summary-type promos.
2. The Authority comes out to (thankfully) interrupt Orton's ranting. Once again, the Punk chants emerge, but Stephanie's much better at ignoring them. Triple H even criticizes Orton's repetitive promo words, and he hints at changing their faith to someone else, which spawns a different, familiar chant. The chants get rewarded with a reluctant mentioning of being the new face of WWE, with Triple H patronizing everyone with a YES! chant. Quick ending to the promo, and one of Cole's cliches, "switching gears," follows. Recaps, skip. At least it was brief.
3. The Shield is out next, with more recaps, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where they go from here. They get in the ring, and they get even more recaps. Fortunately they wait until they're all over to go to commercial. They'll be facing Team Assorted Faces, with Kofi, Big E, and Rey. The faces get their initial shine before Kofi starts getting beaten down. I love how each of the Shield's personalities are starting to come out, instead of just being Authority flunkies. I think they will each get their opportunities once this stable finally dissolves. Rey gets a hot tag, and looks like he's letting loose a little more. He's been so brittle that I can't blame him. Reigns gets some Kofi-like hang time on a modified Doomsday Device before going into commercial.
4. Lawler makes fun of Cole for the incessant That Thing plugging upon the return from commercial. They're still trying to milk the "biggest underdog" thing from Mysterio all they can while they still can. Big E gets the hot tag and lays into everyone. E vs. Reigns in a one-on-one match could be really interesting. The melee ensues, and Reigns looks badass busted open. But Ambrose tags himself in to get the pin on Big E, and the hinting continues. Rollins comes in to play peacemaker. Very fun match to open up the show.
5. The Wyatts cut off the Shield's post-match bitchfest, and we're treated to another Bray promo. Bray HAMs it up in the way only he can. He would be great for reading audiobooks with his enthusiasm. Holy hell, Harper's talking. Rowan comes in for a one-word warning, 1998-Kane style, and that was awesome.
6. One of my new favorite characters, Bad News Barrett, is at the old RAW GM podium. Man, that thing is raised up really high. I hope that's a strong set underneath him. He rips on the American diet before Lawler takes the initiative to counter him. Lawler says that hopefully next week, Barrett won't be around... Snap? That Thing video tutorial WHILE plugging the Network? I can't... take it.
7. Back from commercial, and Biff is out to settle the score with Christian, who is back, for a little while anyway. Christian takes a nasty fall on the ring apron, courtesy of Biff pulling his leg out from under him, and the crowd reacts with mild disinterest. The hinting seems to be toward Zeb and Cesaro going off on their own, and given my fondness for the Biffmeister, I don't mind a bit. JBL is clearly in "not giving a shit" mode. The wrestling itself is good, as these two can always be counted on to put on a decent effort. Christian wins after a really nice sequence with a sunset flip, and Antonio Cesaro is not impressed. Swagger got busted open too, and he does a Daniel Bryan NO! in Zeb's face before we go back to more recaps.
8. The tag team champions, the New Age Outlaws... I can't believe I'm writing that in 2014... Do their usual schtick, despite now being sort-of heels from turning on someone they refuse to mention. They even play to the crowd, making their "heel turn" entirely pointless. How new age can they be at this point in their careers? JBL even gets in on busting Billy Gunn for messing up his words. Did I seriously miss something? I don't recall Gunn being particularly great with promos, but I don't remember him being a disaster either. We go to another commercial with the Rhodes' entrance.
9. Given that we were mid-entrance when we went to commercial, seeing a plug with strange promo music for Betty White hosting RAW was a weird transition. A whole big group of crew workers is caught on camera near ringside. Seriously, there had to be like fifteen of them. It's also strange seeing an actual tag match with tagging in rules with the steel cage. They explain that it's traditional rules, except that they're in a steel cage, so... Kay.
10. Road Dogg yells: "What are we doing in here?" That's a very good question. Goldust and Billy have an extended staredown, and they trade taunts. Cody tries to get several quick falls, and the Outlaws apparently look flustered. The CM Punk chants take over for a few seconds again, and they use that as an excuse to go into first hour recap mode.
11. The match goes on surprisingly long without a commercial break. Goldust HAMs it up with a DX mock taunt. Goldust does... something, to vault himself into the cage, and they finally go to commercial as the crowd chants, "WE WANT PUNK!" We come back with the heels still in control. Lawler says that Goldust was thrown into the cage, but it looked more like he jumped across the ring to hit it. JBL even goes into the crowd confusion over who to cheer for in this match, and Goldust finally gets a hope spot.
12. Cody gets a hot tag, and makes a few references to his Hardcore Holly tag team days. Cody really has spent most of his career in and out of alliances. Cody hits a Disaster Kick but doesn't get the win. He stares at the top of the cage, leading everyone to believe a high spot is coming. Rhodes moonsaults off the cage, but Road Dogg... doesn't catch him. Dear JBL that must've hurt like hell. Gunn hits the Fameasser afterward and gets the win for the team, but holy shit. Road Dogg moved out of the way of the moonsault, leaving Cody to take that full on. That took some serious balls to stand on that cage and flip off. The match started pretty slow, but a great ending with a risk-taking finish.
13. Zack Ryder? Was Sin Cara busy? He's facing the newly-turned Titus O'Neill, so yeah, this won't last long. I honestly forgot this guy was still on the roster, but then again, JTG is still employed. They haven't released anyone in a long time, though one of their top stars did just walk out. Wait... Miz? Where the hell did you come from? He takes the headset off and it messes up his hairdo, and... he walks away. I guess he's a heel again? What the fuck just happened? Ryder's lasted longer than I thought he would. Oh, he just hit the Broski Boot, he's done. He jumps into Titus, and gets tossed around. Titus's bark still gets a crowd response, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, Ryder takes O'Neil's finisher and Titus wins. Not half bad for a somewhat-lengthy squash match.
14. Fandango's music is in the background while they talk about Black History month. That's interesting timing. They show Fandango finally, and he reacts before his opponent's music hits. Oh great, it's Santino. Unfortunately, Santino also dances, and Santino challenges for a dance-off. I guess this is where Emma finally gets in the ring, but unfortunately it's a dance-off. Summer Rae dances... for about eight seconds. Kay. She's apparently the dancing queen, but does... What was that? Huh? That's how they're going to debut this character? Nevermind, it gets a reaction. Doing the first third of the Hulk Hogan taunt repeatedly qualifies as a dance-off winning maneuver now? What? Explanation?
15. WWE Network plug, skip. Aye, Lobsterhead, you desperately need to get in a face-off with the WARRIOR! He's facing Curtis Axel, so yeah, a BOOT TO THE HEAD is imminent. The crowd again starts chanting for Punk more than Sheamus, and Cole fawns over how much Sheamus smiles. JBL talks about Irish loving to fight, without being allowed to give a nod to Finlay. I'm still trying to figure out what that Emma dance weird music thing was.
16. Sheamus throws Goofus into the announce table, and Cole whines that he doesn't like when Lobsterhead does that. Bonus HAM to the guy in the crowd with the sign: "My Other CM Punk Sign Got Confiscated." The crowd starts chanting that Ryback sucks, because... Why the fuck not? I'm trying really hard to care about Goofus' offense, but it's just going to lead to Sheamus cutting it off before hitting his... No, just the BOOT TO THE HEAD! Well at least they didn't draw it out very long.
17. Batista and his hipster wardrobe, because he's totally not in his mid-40's, shows up backstage before another commercial. Alberto Del Rio comes out to interrupt him, and he talks about Batista putting people to sleep with his promos. Hmm, a go-to-sleep reference, that's a good reason to chant for CM Punk. Yep, there they go. And also, the Black Hole of Charisma has no room to talk about boring promos. ADR keeps stumbling through what he's saying, apparently being overwhelmed by the tightness of Batista's skinny jeans.
18. Batista again tries to say he has nothing to do with him, but ADR attacks. Who told ADR to wear almost the exact same outfit as Big Dave? It's sad when people give so much less of a shit that they're cheering Del Rio when he attacks. We get almost a complete recap of what we juts saw, which is actually convenient because I was hardly paying attention anyway. ADR then almost comes back out, but doesn't, and Batista takes it out on the microphone because microphones, unlike basketballs, hold grudges.
19. Ohai, Dolph Ziggler, whose Corn Flakes did you piss in this week? R-Truth and Xavier Woods join them to face... The Wyatt Family, yeah they're fucked. Mark Henry's coming back next week, hopefully to a longer tenure than his previous comeback. Looks like they've updated the opening video for the Wyatt entrance, and damn do I still love this entrance.
20. Rowan looks even meaner than usual. It's still strange to think this guy was once Consequences Creed. TROOF tags in and gets in a bit of offense before getting tossed in the corner. To his credit, TROOF is showing fire, but ultimately gets overwhelmed. Brodie Lee punches TROOF right in the fuck before Bray comes in to blind him with his white pants.
21. The crowd starts chanting for Ziggler, so at least they're chanting for someone currently on the roster. After Harper does his creepy Deliverance impression, Billy Gunn's doppelganger finally gets the hot tag and makes a nice run before Rowan comes in and breaks it up. The melee ensues, making this match a lot more competitive than I imagined it would be. Harper hits his nasty clothesline, but tags in Wyatt for his Bayou Crab Walk to extend Ziggler's continued punishment for having an opinion.
22. Ambrose gets a chance to be his own version of HAM sandwich horror taunting. Rollins then chimes in with his best attempt to follow the weirdo, but then Reigns closes it up with a throwdown of a badass card. Wyatt sees their HAM and ups the ante with a ridiculously over-the-top laugh and the accepting of the challenge. He's really earning his shot at the spiral-glaze so far.
23. Is Rusev just a brown-haired Ivan Drago? I'm surprised it didn't end with, "if he dies, he dies." Why didn't they have him debut against Creed? Would've been a nice nod to it at least.
24. The Total Divas hour commences with AJ on commentary, and they even make a Harvey Wippleman reference. Win. They're facing the non-Total Divas team of... does it really matter? AJ justifying her losses to Naomi is a lot of fun, and at least makes this segment tolerable. Well, less agonizing, though that says a lot about the show tonight.
25. AJ even makes a joke about asking how to download That Thing to Cole. She just gained a whole bunch of points in my book. Naomi does her little top rope shimmy. It drives the women here in Cleveland crazy. Definitely not the worst Divas match I've ever seen, but it's Total Divas 8342, Non-AJ Non-Total Divas 2 or so. Still, it was a pretty well-wrestled match. All that was missing was, well, giving a shit.
26. Omaha is awoken by the coined YES Movement, and I wonder how they'll attempt to screw it up this week. I've seen people on Facebook complaining about this Omaha crowd, but so far, I haven't seen anything too terrible.
27. The commentators acknowledge that the crowds have been begging for Daniel Bryan. They also mix in some CM Punk chants while Cole and Lawler go over Elimination Chamber stats, even mentioning that Bryan's actually won one before. We've seen these two face before in recent memory, some good, some bad, but it remains to be seen which version we're in for tonight. Bryan really works the knee on the steel post on the outside, and that aggression is doing him well.
28. The Punk chants return while they sell the aggression of Bryan and do their best to summarize the last eight months of hype. JBL continues not giving a shit about anything, and it's rather amusing. Lawler makes a funny about Orton's uppercuts, but unfortunately they should refer to Cesaro's for the true best on the show, at least in regard to uppercuts. Man, Bryan is just throwing Orton all over the arena. Unlike every time ADR loses the title, it's actually a character difference this time.
29. Bryan locks in a single leg Boston crab, and Orton does his best funny face before crawling to the ropes. Orton finally comes back with a throw into the barrier. Orton continues his comeback with his methodical offense, which Big Show often imitates in slow motion when he's a heel. The pace really picks up as control shifts a few times before naturally it goes into a commercial. We come back just in time to see a rather awesome T-Bone suplex from Orton. Orton then... uses his head to push Bryan out of the ring? That was... different. Orton puts both Bryan's arms behind his back while a really sad looking guy in a WARRIOR! shirt looks on, standing by himself. Bryan really sells the shoulder attack as Orton returns the favors from earlier. Orton's submission really works, especially adding the handbending to make it worse. Bryan is verbally selling this beatdown like Ziggler physically sells being thrown into the turnbuckle. Orton calls a spot just before wringing Bryan's arm over the ropes, and it's naturally a perfect time to remind us that we are, in fact, watching Monday Night RAW. Thank JBL, I thought it was Antiques Roadshow.
30. Another CM Punk sign spotted. Quick, security, he's no longer a thing we can acknowledge! Bryan finally gets Orton off him and comes off the ropes, but hurts the injured shoulder in the process. Orton comes back with another vicious shoulder move, and this has definitely been a good back and forth match. Bryna reverses an attack into the YES! Lock, but Orton again makes it to the ropes. Bryan does his cross-ring kicks before getting dropkicked flat. But Bryan comes back and damn, they keep trading momentum. Bryan nearly wins with the Voldemort Headbutt. Suddenly, Citizen Kane comes out, gets sent off the apron, and Bryan dives into both of them. Kane eats the steps, courtesy of his former Disputed Tag Team Co-Champion. They get back in the ring, and Bryan hits the high knee and gets the win! I'll be damned, Bryan beats the champion again. A sign of the modification of plans, or a consolation prize? Great main event match, and the reaction is justified. Orton and Kane then attack Bryan after the match. Kane takes off his tie before setting up a chokeslam, because that is a dangerous goozle inhibitor. Kane's pyro is delayed by a second or so. Bryan wins, but Orton and Citizen Kane stand tall to end the show. Overall, the middle of the show was incredibly weak, but the wrestling itself was all around pretty strong. The main event was very good, but it just doesn't feel like WrestleMania season.
Bray Wyatt earned it with his several HAM-tastic appearances.
2012 - Daniel Bryan
2013 - Paul Heyman
1-6-14 - Dean Ambrose
1-13-14 - Big Show
1-20-14 - Big Show
2-3-14 - Bray Wyatt