Royal Rumble 2012 and Raw – The Fallout
As I sat in my comfortable chair in the local movie theater, watching an HD presentation of the royal Rumble on a big screen, I was amazed at how much I felt satisfied with the nights events. While I won’t proclaim the event to be a classic, it was the usual fun and entertaining fare, which left me laughing, smiling, and enjoying most of the 3 hours presentation. I didn’t find myself being overly critical of any aspect (though a little too much in commercials and promos), especially the results.
Sheamus won the Rumble match with a solid performance. The final 2 men really gave a great ending that I feel is hard to match. In terms of creating drama, the action between Jericho and Sheamus delivered more than any other Rumble finish that I can remember. It wasn’t the most memorable, but I find most Rumble endings are more spot or overbooked. This was simple combat between two quality workers trying to muscle and outsmart the other over the top rope and to the floor. None of it seems too contrived, it was rather well done. I would say Undertaker vs HBK would be the closest in terms of delivering smart wrestling action for ending a battle royal, but I found that more spotty, which was the general work those performers were delivering at the time.
So, this begs the question of who Sheamus will challenge? It looks pretty obvious that we’ll be seeing Punk vs Jericho. Raw showed that the Best in the World was attacked by the Best in the World at what He Does. I guess this could just be Chamber build up, but something tells me that the goal is to draw the momentum of this angle into Wrestlemania. This could leave the door open for Sheamus to be included, making it a Triple Threat, but that seems not only unlikely, but unappetizing.
Leaving the World Championship on Smackdown. Eliminating the WWE title usually makes the predictions easier to make, but honestly the Smackdown main event is wide open. While Daniel Bryan has been excellent in his current heel championship run, there is understandable hesitation in believing he’ll hold the title into Wrestlemania. While Miz surprised many last year with how long he held the bling belt, it’s not enough to convince me (and others) that WWE will let Bryan follow suit with a shocking run into the biggest event of the year.
So while many IWC fans are pointing to the references and admission by WWE that last year’s Wrestlemania lacked the planned Sheamus vs D-Bry match for the US title, I am failing to see how they’d follow through with this into April. Especially with Randy Orton, Big Show, and Mark Henry all left without any direction going into Miami.
I’m not going to make any predictions, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 4 way match up for the World Title. I am not a fan of the idea in general, but making it an elimination match, much like the main event of WM2000, would make it much more tolerable. With Rock vs Cena, Jericho vs Punk, Taker vs HHH, there’s not a 1-on-1 combination of any of the Smackdown contenders that really captures my imagination. If they go with a singles match, I have to go with Orton defending against Sheamus, but it is a convoluted and sloppy way to go. WWE has been driving the newer stars to succeed as a heel before succeeding as a face draw, so with already 2 main event matches where the fans are supposed to be split down the middle (Cena/Rock and Taker/HHH), I find it unlikely they’d throw in a 3rd.
In a perfect world, I’d have an Elimination Chamber match at Wrestlemania for the World Title. Sheamus, Bryan, Show, Henry, Orton and Barrett. I don’t see a 6 pack challenge or Scramble match being Wrestlemania worthy, so I’m not sure where they’d go. It will be interesting, and at this point, I can’t complain about that. So thumbs up on the Sheamus win, WWE.
Taker vs HHH
I will do my best not to go into my standard diatribe on these 2 performers.
I understands the draw of these 2 for the wider audience, so in that respect, I have no problem with another match-up. I won’t give a shit, as I thought last year’s match was an overbooked abortion, but I do comprehend that there’s a draw to see men past their primes pretend to wrestle while using weapons to overcome their obvious lack of talent (if they ever had any). I am thankful that neither of them are stinking it up with different opponents.
Now, the ending of Raw infuriated me to no end. As HHH talked about how Johnny Ace was using his time to make himself the star, abusing the camera time to overshadow other performers, my brain melted with the obviously fuckery going on. It takes a special kind of denial for HHH not to be tongue in cheek with this comment, as it is the most common complaint against him. I don’t believe this is an IWC position, but it seems to be a backstage one as well. Especially as the end result was to turn the CM Punk vs John Laurinitus angle into an invitation to once again book HHH vs Undertaker.
It’s like someone somewhere thought the recent Jericho return was successful, because they repeated the same blue print (minus viral videos): nothing was said, and no advancement was made. HHH never addressed the interim GM, just prodded him for the final minutes with no entertainment value whatsoever.
Seriously, fuck both of these guys.
Anyways, much like HBK couldn’t out perform the previous year’s match when he retired, HHH won’t out perform 17 or 28’s matches with Taker. They might attempt to up the ante, but it’s hard to do that with last year’s match being No Holds Barred. Whatever, it’ll be the longest match on the card, and I’ll tune out for the entire thing.
So, how did the last 5 weeks do anything for Jericho that a surprise entrance in the Rumble couldn’t have accomplished? Answer is NOTHING. Some argue it made the final 2 at the Rumble be more unpredictable, as most thought Jericho would have fun. Bullshit. A surprise return, with him being in the last 2, the same people, if not more, would have been calling him the favorite. Attacking CM Punk was something, but it wasn’t an answer to we’ve seen since January 2nd, or the videos before that.
Damnit Jericho, I am a fan, and I love that you’re wrestling again. But don’t even think of bullshitting me into thinking this return was well done. Maybe I expect too much, but you made those expectations with your “I’ll only return to accomplish something new” comments. Damnit.
Champion vs Champion
I was giddy to see that match, and it was an early TV match of the year contender, no matter how it ended. To me, it was a sign that those in charge value these 2 talents by giving them this spotlight. The negative side told me it was purposely done to use the ratings as an excuse to say they are failing, but I’m not convinced. If that was the case, those guys wouldn’t be champions in the first place. Punk was fucked over by HHH, but it’s hard to deny that WWE is doing almost everything they can to fix that. And Daniel Bryan is champion on a brand where Big Show, Mark Henry and Randy Orton are consistently more over. The stock on these Ring of Honor graduates is high.
As for the handshake, I wouldn’t think much of it, Bryan has been shaking hands recently, as he did with Kofi on Smackdown 2-3 weeks ago.
WWE is giving Zack Ryder a golden ticket with this angle. He will sink or swim on his own talents by the end of it, as there’s no way it won’t end with him seeking revenge on Kane and/or Cena. That’s huge.
I’m glad that WWE seems to be portraying Cena differently as of last night’s Raw, but let’s be honest: this isn’t a new side of John. It’s just something we don’t see often anymore. He’s been an aggressive beast several times, even during his Super Cena era. Either way, I’m all for it, and I hope it continues into the match with Rock, and afterwards. If this leads to an angrier Cena in the WWE or World Title picture, it will open up the main event scene in a way that heel Cena might not. I’m not saying this is a better option than turning him heel, but it would be a lot healthier for his career, and the WWE in general, if he stayed face but had a more violent nature. It would freshen up previous feuds with heels, and also open up the door for him to make mistakes. I doubt it’ll happen, but the chances will be there.
As for Kane, I’m enjoying his work, but no more than any other time they’ve revamped him in some way. Whether it was his heel run when he originally lost the mask, or the heel run when he was actually defeating Undertaker, heel Kane is always has a time limit. He could succeed more than that, but WWE just cannot book heels successfully for long enough. With the exception of HHH in 2002-2006, no heel has had a successful and lengthy run in WWE history. By success, I mean several angles in the main event/title picture, not entertainment value.
And the time limit for this one seems to be when Ryder gets the big win over Kane. Nothing wrong with putting the new generation over, I just wish he’d have worked with other faces during that time. BUT, it’s a minor mention, and in the long run, it’s the best idea. Kane’s career doesn’t have a lot of time left, and is one of the few talents that can be well used as a heel or face, midcard or main event. He’s always a TV segment away from moving up or down the ladder without issue, or turning heel/face at the drop of a dime.
Other Quick Rumble Notes
I enjoyed the Divas match. It wasn’t mindblowing, but they actually let the Divas perform for a decent amount of time, and it wasn’t terrible. It was an average 6 or 8 man tag match, with the same style of quick tags for everyone to get in ring action, and out of ring spots. It helped re-establish Beth Phoenix as a force, which is essential since only minutes later did we see the return of Kharma. I don’t know if the goal is a Wrestlemania match between the 2, but I’m excited either way.
Other stars that looked good coming out of the Rumble are Miz, Brodus Clay, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, and Cody Rhodes. Each of these men had me looking forward top this week’s Raw and Smackdown, anticipation the next chapter in their careers. Good stuff. That’s a great thing about a Rumble appearance (or Survivor Series elimination match as well) as you can look strong coming out of the event just by lasting a while. Miz didn’t do anything significant in terms of eliminations, but he lasted a long time, and it made an impression. It might not be a widespread reaction, but due to that extended performance, I’m a tad more interested in whatever he does next.
I often wonder if WWE understands how easily the interest of the fans can sway with a single victory or positive appearance.
It’s a big time to be a UFC fan. After last week’s recent outing on Fox, and the upcoming PPV event that is usually stacked for Super Bowl weekend, UFC is trumping WWE in terms of my interest at the moment. While I had lots of kudos towards WWE’s recent direction, there’s still a lot to be concerned with. Honestly, not much can get worse than the amount of attention we’ll see HHH vs Undertaker will get, but the feeling is that the ball will be dropped with talents like Ziggler, Bryan, Rhodes, Barrett…etc. With UFC on the other hand, those issues will never come to play. 2012 has a great outlook with the long awaited Sonnen vs Silva rematch, along with the oft-delayed Jones vs Evans Light Heavyweight title match. And it starts with a great match up to declare an interim Welterweight Champion while kingpin George St Pierre is on the shelf. Diaz vs Condit will be an excellent contest, and is truly a “pick ’em” in my mind. Both have skills that could lead to victory, with no tangent standing out over another. Either way, while Elimination Chamber looks to be a poor WWE event, UFC will be delivering a great event to start the month of February.
WWE could prove me wrong, but judging by the Taker/HHH segment… I won’t be.
And on that note, peace out.
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