Jan 20 - Live Raw Blog
Not only is it the return of Batista, but it’s the return of the PEN15 Mightier Live Blog. Last week’s was a much bigger success, but I won’t take credit for it. The truth is that when Raw is solid, it’s a lot more interesting for fans to jump online and find a way to discuss it. Last week’s Raw was, in my opinion, one of the better editions in a long while, with one of the loudest endings I’ve ever heard. With the Royal Rumble this coming Sunday, I expect WWE to deliver another solid Raw as they continue to build the Road to WrestleMania.
What I am Looking Forward To
Return of Batista - I’ll never pretend to be the biggest fan of The Animal, but rarely is it a bad thing to add a major player into the mix around the Road. As interesting as the top of card seems to be, adding a name like Batista’s creates a giant mystery. Will he be face, or heel (after dispatching of Del Rio)? Will he be a henchman for his new boss and former ally HHH? Who will he be taking on at WrestleMania if HHH is to face CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan overcomes the concussion to win the right to face the WWE Champion?
Update on Daniel Bryan - The news of a concussion spread quickly last week after Raw, but not much word since. There have been more than a couple of rumors about this injury being a work. I think tonight’s Raw will be a true indication of his condition. Until the reports of his injury, he felt like the best bet to win the Rumble. I still feel that he’ll take on the champion at Wrestlemania, but if he’s in no condition to compete this week, I suspect he’ll earn his title opportunity at the Elimination Chamber somehow. If that is the case…
Who Will Win the Rumble - With the possibility of Daniel Bryan being out of action for about a month due to a head injury, the surefire pick to win the 30 Man Rumble is now in doubt. Will Punk take it? Or will HHH have a henchman win the Rumble to help protect the Authority’s assets? Or will they go through with the elevation of Roman Reigns with the biggest win of his career? While this is a question that will be answered on Sunday, we’ll find out all the possibilities to that question by the end of Raw tonight.
Before we Get Started
From IntenseDebate poster “JERITRON9000”:
Does anyone else think that that the Elimination Chamber should be replaced by something else? Maybe bring back No Way Out or even King of the Ring...
Yes and no. While I do think a simpler PPV would be better in general, Elimination Chamber can still suit a purpose in February. It just doesn’t feel that way because of the heel Authority angle and a heel champion, there’s no reason for anything to be contested in the Chamber. HHH won’t want to risk his personal pick as champion in a 6 man match, and whoever wins the title shot at the Rumble should keep it.
The problem is that with any other storyline, it’s not as bad. Plus, with the Daniel Bryan injury being possible, a title shot might be perfectly in place to be defended in the Chamber. Bryan needs and deserves a big win going into Mania if the point is for him to challenge for the WWE World Title. If he can’t compete this Sunday, it’s likely he earns his title shot next month in the Chamber.
As for King of the Ring, it’s a dead and useless PPV. It’s near impossible to book well in the modern WWE, especially on PPV. Even if the tournament is reduced to just 3 matches like the 2002 version was, it’s very difficult to book 1 hour around only 4 men. Not impossible, just difficult.
I’m not against a return of a King of the Ring tournament, but it should be a TV special where shortened matches can at least fit.
It seems that Daniel Bryan is backstage at Raw tonight. That would be a good sign concerning his injury, because he would most likely be kept at home if he was in no condition to wrestle by Sunday. My guess is he’s been cleared, but not competing tonight to ensure he’s ready for the Rumble this Sunday.
But, we’ll see.
Intro - Authority/Orton
I am still on the fence about a heel stable like The Authority mixing up their purpose on the microphone. Getting cheers when confronted by Randy seems odd.
Simple return for Batista. It is probably for the best, considering Batista was never a master on the microphone.
RhodesDust/Langston vs The Shield
Not the most exciting way to kick things off in terms of wrestling. I have no doubt that this will deliver, as they always do. The problem is that this match has not current heat, it’s based off of PPV bouts from 3 months ago…
Great ending sequence, nice to see Rollins get the ending move and pin. It feels like it has been too long since he’s been made to look threatning.
From IntenseDebate poster “Dig_It”:
So Daniel Bryan is clear to wrestle again....still doesn't mean he's going to win the Rumble or have a title match at Mania XXX though. In my opinion, Bryan will be relegated to lower in the card at Mania, possibly still involved in the Wyatt storyline. I don't think Vince is willing to put him ahead of the Ortons/Batistas/Lesnars of the world just yet, unfortunately
See, this is the perfect example as to why WWE is best blurring their lines, taking preconceived notions about how they push specific guys, and using it to create our own hesitation.
Don’t worry, Dig_it. I understand how hard it is to believe something that has been so outlandish for years. Thankfully, no one has been as over as Daniel Bryan in just as long. This isn’t the Kofi Kingston push vs Orton in 2008, this is a for real push. Bryan will be WWE Champion by the end of WrestleMania. Hopefully you won’t be like other online personalities and make up excuses and lies to make up for the fact that your doubts were proven wrong.
From IntenseDebate poster “JERITRON9000”:
I totally get what you're saying. It's just gimmick PPVs seem to be worn down and boring at times. Look at last year's EC, it only had one Elimination Chamber match and never took advantage of The Rock and CM Punk story to utilize Elimination Chamber...
That is like saying Orton vs Cena isn’t taking advantage of a Rumble gimmick. Use a gimmick to sell a show, add a match that sells itself.
What I will suggest is that PPVs cut down on gimmick names, and instead use gimmick subtitles - similar to how In Your House used to be marketed. February’s PPV could be SuperBrawl 2014 - Elimination Chamber. Or, if instead of a Chamber match a singles bout makes more sense, go with SuperBrawl 2014 - Hell in a Cell. I don’t like the idea of these gimmick matches being fixed into the calendar, but there is a logical reason to use them to sell a PPV. Instead of forcing the gimmicks, let the gimmicks settle organically, and then wisely fit them into the event titles.
Daniel Bryan promo
Over as f**k.
I won’t say this is his best promo, but it’s the most natural he’s ever been. He’s very comfortable. Often Bryan sounds a bit scripted, no matter how charismatic as he is. Not tonight, though.
Bryan vs Wyatt is now confirmed. All that’s left is to make sure he gets included in the 30 man mix as well.
Fandango vs Xavier Woods
Too short of a match, but at least the midcard is getting some screen time. I really see Fandango becoming a name in the future, despite the gimmick. He oozes charisma.
Kane Backstage Segment/Promo
I really hope the goal is not Kane vs Punk at WrestleMania. Maybe at the Elimination Chamber for Punk to earn the shot at Hunter, but Kane is not on the level of this new breed of main event player.
I liked how Punk attacked Kane.
Out of each of the Outlaws, who is the better wrestler? I think Punk is facing the bigger talent in the ring, while the better talker is at the booth.
Punk does so many things right. He obviously pays attention to the program if he thought of directing his comments to JBL after attacking the Road Dogg.
I won’t go through my posts over the last week, but I’m pretty sure I called for Punk to be #1 in the Rumble. It makes for a great story, especially when he’s eliminated.
By the way, this is how you use classic talent. Billy Gunn is just as legendary after losing to Punk, and now the #1 entrant into the Rumble has some strong momentum. And, the Outlaws still have a strong chance at winning the Tag Titles.
While none of this was a show stealing match or segment, it tells a greater story very successfully. I love the Road to WrestleMania.
Mae Young Tribute
A couple of quick notes.
The one thing that WWE PG has definitely done is help these sort of clips. By making the racier segments seem much cleaner, it made the tribute all the more genuine and impressive. 10 years ago, there’s no doubt WWE would have aired footage of the hand birth among many other things. But the soft touch editing done on so many of Young’s best moments made for a much classier tribute video, and because of it this video was among the best Rest In Peace clips we’ve ever been witness to. Kudos WWE.
Rey vs Del Rio
Mysterio injured again? I feel like the last of his fans after so many have turned their backs on him, but it’s getting harder and harder to be excited about him if he’s leaving injured less than a month after every return. Maybe tagging with Sin Cara was a curse on both men.
Alberto will get this one, as he’s looking to get in Batista’s face at the Rumble. No sense doing that after a loss.
This return for Batista has been as by-the-numbers as possible. Not complaining, but I think it shows the limitation of the Animal’s abilities. I still don’t see him winning the Royal Rumble, but we’ll see.
What’s left on the show? John Cena has yet to make an appearance. Big Show vs Brock face-off. Maybe more of the Wyatt’s and Daniel Bryan? These 3 hour Raws can’t avoid feeling like they drag on when there is very little known about the remaining time. At least a 3 hour PPV let’s you keep in mind what matches are left, but a TV program keeps you guessing for the most part.
Face-Off: Brock vs Big Show
While in no way a bad segment, it wasn’t something built for me. As someone who has seen Big Show vs Lesnar, it’s hard to care about this upcoming confrontation. That didn’t make the face-off useless, because there are a lot of fans who didn’t witness the F-5 at Survivor Series 2002, or the Stretcher Match in 2003. You need to show a weakness in Brock, which makes his victory this Sunday all the more impressive. Solid booking, and essential.
It just wasn’t aimed for me. I am ok with that.
I like AJ’s bum. A lot. Boners.
Rumble “Numbers” Promos
I enjoyed this hype video the first time I saw it. After the last few years, the effect has been lost on me. I will give credit for the fact that while we were subject to two of those videos tonight, they were not identical. The facts were not shared, and they were able to find new facts for each video. I can’t say I appreciate those videos as much as I once did, but they are still a valuable asset, and I feel that seeing them for the first time only 6 days before the PPV was a mistake. We should have been seeing these since TLC.
I really hate when WWE goes political. I understand that they are a US based company, but they do air to hundreds of countries. There’s a lot of off-putting programing to non-Americans. I think it would be a lot easier to handle if the Tribute to the Troops and MLK dedicated episodes didn’t feel so obviously politically charged. I understand that WWE as a company needs to do some Public Relations work within the USA, but when it’s done on such a grand scale, the scrutiny is impossible to ignore.
I’m not sure what the answer is. I understand the need to make a reference to these institutions, I just wish they didn’t take up so much time on it, while not coming off as fake. The Mae Young video was genuine, understandably. She was part of the world of Wrestling. But the political ones seem more about looking good to investors than any real interest in the causes. Does this seem to be the case to Americans as well? It might just be my outsider perspective that makes it seem more planned than organic.I apologize if anyone is offended, but it seems silly to watch WWE pander sometimes to issues with efforts that feel less than legitimate.
Usos vs Wyatts
Tag wrestling once again helping keep the in-ring action formidable during a mostly Sports Entertainment (or political) based night. That might have been my favorite match of the night. Usos really are firing on all cylinders, and Harper/Rowen make a great monster tag team.
From LOPforums poster “comfortablynumb”:
I'm sure Bryan will eventually end up in the Rumble match, but if he's not that's a huge mistake.
With the Rhodes brothers competing in both the kick off and the Rumble match, it leaves the opening for any wrestler from the opening matches to compete in the Rumble. And there’s a logic to using Bryan as a surprise entrant and get that massive pop. It’s not like Cena in 2008, but it’ll still be a nice reaction for who will most likely be the winner.
Kofi vs Randy
Time constraints were the biggest reason this match never got started. This could have been the plan from the opening segment, but something tells me more was planned for the actual match.
The post-match shenanigans were a bit of a let down. Anti-climatic. I kept expecting someone to jump Cena was he walked back from the outside stairs.
The fact is that the WWE World Title match had very little momentum over the last few weeks, so it needed the final segment to sell the match home for many viewers.
The problem is that the Rumble match also lack momentum, and didn’t get enough of it tonight. The continuing strength of the undercard is what’s helping the PPV sell, but the importance of the Rumble match seems to be lacking. Only the promo videos mentioned the Road to WrestleMania, but the announcers and competitors barely gave any attention to it all. Batista was the only one who seemed to have their heart in the ordeal, which is a shame because of all the possible contenders, he has the least amount of mic skills to properly put the match over. Give CM Punk another 30 seconds, and that match would have been sold to a giant portion of the fans who are currently on the fence. This Raw didn’t do a lot to convince them.
Bryan is fit to compete, but is so far given a 1-on-1 match instead of being included in the Rumble. I really think WWE is smart enough to know of the reaction they’d get if Bryan isn’t included in the Rumble match. Even if he is not going to win it, he’s the most over man in the company, bar none. His inclusion in the match would give the eventual winner all the more of a rub. Thankfully, I don’t think that will be the result, as Bryan will get included later into the match as a surprise entrant, and win it all.
Where does that leave Brock Lesnar with his title shot? Elimination Chamber will be an interesting event, because with all the moving parts in the Road to WrestleMania, they have to find a reason to make a 6 man match, push the angles between Punk and Bryan vs the Authority, and shape the rest of the WrestleMania card. My guess is Lesnar vs Orton for the title takes place, and ends up in a dirty finish where someone interferes to challenge Lesnar at Mania. Taker seems like the easiest option, but Batista or Sheamus could be another one. As for the Chamber, it makes sense for the Authority to force a fan favorite like Daniel Bryan to defend his title shot in a 6-man match of barbaric proportions, and include CM Punk in there. This leads to Punk and Bryan helping each other as much as they can against Kane and whoever else is in the match on behalf of the Authority. Bryan walks out the winner, with Punk’s blessing. This leads to the Authority being angry that Punk helped Bryan keep the title shot, and leading to HHH vs Punk at Mania. Punk vs Bryan is still a headlining match down the line, while not hurting anyone’s credibility on their way to upsetting the Authority at the final battle in the Superdome.
These aren’t exactly predictions, but rather the simplest way I see for them to reach the goals that seem most logical for New Orleans.
The questions that remain: what to do with Cena, Brock, Batista, and Undertaker? I hope we get Cena vs Taker, and Brock vs Batista, but it seems like an unlikely scenario judging by the foundation we currently have. Thankfully, nothing is set in stone, and so many options are still possible.
Will I pay to watch the Rumble this Sunday? I think so. I’ll not be doing a Live Blog, as my computer will be hooked into the TV to get the best picture possible for the PPV. I wasn’t sure during Raw if they earned my money, but I don’t think the fact that Bryan isn’t yet announced for the Rumble match is enough to push me from ordering it. I have a strong track record of enjoying the shows I’ve paid for, and WWE has done a lot over the last few months to get the Road to WrestleMania on track. I’m loving the ride so far, and hope it continues this Sunday.
And on that note, Peace out
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