There's so much back and forth about Cena's character – should he turn heel or should his character be tweaked? I know that Cena's character now, well, up until much of the Kane stuff, was just downright horrid! Something had to be done and hopefully the changes we've been seeing in Cena will continue. Honestly, as this feud continues, I hope to see more changes in Cena. I'm keeping my hopes up that things will continue along this path for him.
I also hope that Cena is NOT in the Royal Rumble Match. It's time for someone else to win the Royal Rumble, and I don't mean Randy Orton. There's so many up and coming wrestlers who could use the nod right now. I know it didn't work out so well with Alberto Del Rio. It was too early for him to win the Royal Rumble and go on to win the Title. He's better chasing the Title than being a Title holder, sadly. But there's so many people who could really run with this. At first I was thinking that Funkasaurus would be a shoo-in to win this, but there have been so many other people popping up the could be rather interesting. Why am I even bothering now? I have this weekend for my predicting and have haven't even pulled out my white board yet!
In Ring Segment > B
I found it rather interesting that while Punk couldn't get Laurinaitis out to face him, Cena was determined that his star power would get Laurinaitis out there. Even funnier was when Laurinaitis didn't jump when Cena demanded it. The looks Punk was making behind Cena's back as Cena spoke were priceless! Goes back to Punk being so visually expressive. He's a fabulous WWE Champ and really hope he retains to WM. I also have to say that Cena came across as stiff and pissy, very different from his loosey-goosey corniness, and actually nice to see.
Laurinaitis seems to have reached a plateau with his character. He had seemed to be getting more interesting in a subtle way, but not here. For me he fell flat. He's been rude and cranky to Punk for a while now, but when he yelled at Punk, "I'm your boss, I won't listen to you!" I was floored. I know the character is supposed to be an ass, but with the way he talked down to Eve, then this with Punk, I think he's pushing his character too far, into a place that feels fake and unnatural.
Cena & Punk vs Dolph & Swagger w/ Vickie & Laurinaitis > B+
I have to admit that Punk and Cena worked well together in this match. I honestly wasn't expecting much, but I was impressed. I was further impressed with Dolph and his growing ego. Between those horrible trunks with the zipper in the front and the way he showed off at every turn, he's turning into quite a character. He's been growing a lot lately. Well, his character has been growing and changing, and I think it's in a positive way. Of course he's a heel, so I'm supposed to hate his ego, but honesty he's growing into an impressive performer. It's not always about the moves and he's making the whole thing a show, even those in-between moments. It's hard to look away when he's in the ring. Punk's had that all along, but Dolph is learning it and running with it.
On the other hand there's Swagger. Honestly, thinking back, I can't remember his work in this match at all. I feel horrible about this, but Swagger left no impression on me in this match. I really want to see Swagger succeed, but obviously he's missing the ball somewhere. He has the look and the ring work, but on mic he sounds like a high school student - saying Cena was dead meat – and he has no charisma. I don't like him, I don't dislike him, I just don't care and that's the worst thing for a wrestler, to not elicit any emotion from fans.
Laurinaitis stepped it up in the match for me. Where he'd dropped the ball on mic, he got it back when he had to make sure the ref backed out of the way enough so Punk wouldn't hit him. That was pretty fun and watching Laurinaitis get involved made me shake my head at his grapefruits. That he accepted a match with Punk shocked me. Have to give him props for being the biggest jackass in the company.
Winners – Dolph & Swagger
Highlight Reel > A
I was making bets with Stacy from when I found out there would be a Highlight Reel until Jericho actually spoke, whether he would speak at all. I honestly didn't think he would. Between the t-shirt gun and the video he played about his past, I thought he was going to make some other strange cheering motions and leave without saying a word. The fans were starting to turn on him again before he played the video, but he got them back when he spoke. One simple line and we're all wondering what will happen at the Royal Rumble. Jericho is impressive. He's kept us talking every week since the videos started and is using every little bit of it against us. Not one wrestling move and only one line spoken and I'd be tuning in to see the Royal Rumble even if it wasn't my favorite PPV of the year, just to see what Jericho has up his sleeve. He's going up on my white board near the top of my list.
Video > A
As I said, I love the Royal Rumble. Even further, I've loved writing the articles I have about the Royal Rumble as I've learned so much, but they threw some new bits of trivia at me in this year's 'All About The Numbers' Royal Rumble video. 31 HOF Legends. 695 entrants. HBK has eliminated the most entrants with 39 total, but Kane's at 35 over 13 consecutive Royal Rumbles. I hope that he makes it into this year's Royal Rumble so that he won't miss a Royal Rumble and might possibly break HBK's record. Kane holds the record for 11 eliminations in 2001, which is two articles away. 194,107lbs total, that's a lot of muscle! 421,883 fans have watched the Royal Rumbles in person and I'm proud to be one of those people. SCSA has won the most Royal Rumbles at three. Hopefully Cena will never break that record! And since 1993, 55% of Royal Rumble winners have gone on to win the Title at WM. Honestly, I thought the percentage was higher. And for some reason they made a big deal about every WWE Superstar being eligible to enter the Royal Rumble. I am worried about this one as it means anyone, even if they had a match earlier in the PPV, could be in the Royal Rumble Match. While I know that other years wrestlers in other matches entered the Royal Rumble Match in the past, that they're talking it up so much this year makes me think I should be looking to the wrestlers on the undercard to possibly win the match. What other reason could they have for making such a big thing about it?
Backstage Segment > C+
Well, Cena's name sure is mud for Ryder, isn't it? They've done a decent job of turning even Ryder against Cena.
Falls Count Anywhere Match > B
Kane beat the heck out of that boy and he kept coming back for more! I was impressed with Ryder when he kept kicking out. I wasn't expecting much from this match, other than possibly Cena getting involved and screwing Ryder over in some way while trying to help him. Most of it was decent and almost up to Kane's former glory, but he was just missing his former brutality. Further, that chokeslam through the stage was horrible. As Ryder went through it looked as though he was going through a piece of carpeting and nothing else. Maybe I'm expecting more as I've been watching more Attitude Era matches lately, but this Kane, while masked and edgier, has missed the mark with his watered down brutality. When he was stalking Eve I was hoping something interesting would happen, even though the WWE wouldn't let Kane do anything too horrible to Eve - gone are the days of Bubba Ray putting Trish through a table or Lita taking a stunner – but Cena showed up on the stage and Kane headed off through the crowd.
Backstage Segment > D
Well, Eve sure knows how to cut Cena to the bone. Actually, thinking about it, Eve's got the best gig of the Divas right now. She's been on TV more than the rest put together lately. Anyway, the melodrama she spewed all over Cena was a bit silly, but his reaction about had me on the floor laughing. He looked like a little boy trying to impersonate the Incredible Hulk! The seething, shaking and that face he made, it was too funny.
Sheamus vs Mahal >
Mahal was the first of the night who didn't rate entrance music. Is it me or has he had no storyline since Khali left? I think his character needs to be re-worked as it's not working now. I've liked the way Sheamus stepped into the feud with Wade when Orton had to take time off for injury, but I really like the way Wade brought Orton right back into the feud on announce during this match. What he was saying didn't overshadow the match, but worked well within it as Mahal had little chance. Sheamus declaring after it was over that he would be winning the Royal Rumble actually dropped him a number of notches from the top five where he had been.
Winner – Sheamus
Backstage Segment > A-
R-Truth is a riot! If he'd only stumbled across this character ten years ago, he really could have had quite the career leading up to this point. His mis-buttoned shirt over his ring gear, the fake glasses and clipboard was wonderful! Normally I'd complain about vignettes being too long and drawn out, but R-Truth made this golden. Quack! Quack!
Funkasaurus vs Slater > B+
Slater was the second wrestler who didn't have an entrance on TV. Has to suck to be mid-card enhancement talent. He really needs his character changed up a bit as I don't find this 'one man country band' thing at all interesting. And I thought he was a rock band, not a country band. One of the most disturbing things I have seen on WWETV was Mark Henry in the ring all wet in a white, semi-sheer singlet. When Funkasaurus came out in that white track suit I got very worried. I will admit it wasn't as bad as Henry in that translucent singlet, but the iridescence of Funkasaurus singlet was impressive, but what was more impressive was Regal's comments about Funkasaurus. Between 440lbs of septic tripe jiggling around, and wiggling about like that looks like a walrus giving birth. But the best was saying Funkasaurus looks like blancmange. I will admit that I wasn't quite sure what it was beyond a white jiggly desert more common in the UK than in the USA. I knew a bit about it through the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), but not much. I stated that I'd explain for those on this side of the pond who doesn't know what it is, so I looked it up. It's a sweet desert made with cream and sugar, thickened with gelatin or cornstarch or something called Irish moss that I have never heard of (but I'm going to hunt down and check out – bet you didn't know that I'm the child of two chefs who loves to cook and create in the kitchen). The article says blancmange is usually flavored with almonds and served cold. I love custards and flan, so I think I need to try this. I'll let everyone know how it turns out – and would appreciate any one who knows this dish to help me in any way you can. Anyway, it makes complete sense for Regal to say Funkasaurus looks like blancmange, at least to me. I also have to admit that I was shocked to hear Regal make slightly off-color comments about Funkasaurus' fly girls in this PG Era. I will admit that I'd forgotten how much I missed seeing Regal on RAW. The man is sharp, creative, interesting and a whole heck of a lot of fun.
Winner – Funkasaurus
Miz vs R-Truth > B+
Looks like Miz is the #1 entrant into the Royal Rumble Match! Honestly, I don't see him lasting through the whole match, so I guess he's dropping down quite low on my list. I enjoyed watching R-Truth and Miz going back and forth in the ring. R-Truth looked strong, as strong as he's also been looking outside the ring, but I didn't like the way R-Truth out of the blue got the win with one move. I guess I was just expecting a little more. Either way, Miz really sold the loss and his shocked look as he lolled on the mat after his loss.
Winner – R-Truth
Announce Segment > D-
I really hope they have something planned for Ryder as this 'broken back' thing truly rots! Now anything that happens, if he comes back in less than a year, there will be people questioning it all. We know it's kayfabe, but if Ryder does anything, even his online videos, and is up and bouncing around, it will kill the direction of the character on RAW. I hope they have something big planned, or Ryder has been completely screwed over after working so hard to become a star on his own. I'm really disappointed in the direction of this right now. Only thing good about this segment was King sold it well.
Backstage Segment > D
Laurinaitis seemed to be all over the board on last night's RAW. Here both he and Otunga were flat, robotic and absurdly obvious. Of course a fax came in before Laurinaitis' match, isn't that the way all of these ironic things happen in wrestling?
In Ring Segment > C- & A
Punk, as usual, was wonderful. He has such charisma, even when stumbling over whether VKM is Trip's grandfather or father-in-law, he's still more interesting, exciting and fun than Otunga on his best day. I understand why he's in the WWE. He has mainstream media connections and a great look, but the man has no charisma on mic and his ring work blows. Watching Otunga in this role I'm wondering why he's in the WWE and not just being a lawyer who does sexy calendars in his spare time. I'd have no trouble hanging a poster with Otunga up in my writing cave (after a child goes to college and I steal a bedroom for my sewing room/writing cave), but that's because he's easy on the eyes and he wouldn't be talking if he was calendar eye candy! Punk, on the other hand, could talk all night, especially abusing Laurinaitis, and I would sit and watch with a smile on my face. Even better would be talking and abusing someone useless like Otunga. Oh, wait...
Punk vs Otunga as Laurinaitis is a wuss! > A
I have given this pseudo-match an A for a couple reasons, hear me out. First off, you have to give Otunga props for attacking Punk from behind as he knew he had no chance. Otunga tried, but of course he was locked in the anaconda and it was over for him. But there were two other parts of this segment that made it more than worth the time. I'll come back to Laurinaitis, but I have to say that Dolph ending the go home to Royal Rumble RAW was beautiful! Really gave him some credibility going into the PPV.
But for me the most amazing part of this segment was Laurinaitis. If you didn't notice why I'm so in awe, go back and watch this segment again. From the moment Punk advances on Laurinaitis to the end of the show, Laurinaitis' face never changes. He has no facial expression at all. He's pulled in by Punk and then up for the GTS, but it looked as thought Laurinaitis was a mannequin. His face doesn't change! He could have been sitting in a college lecture about rocket surgery and he couldn't have looked less interested.
Okay, I'll admit it, I have not gone back to watch any Johnny Ace matches since he's become a main character on RAW. I really think it's about time (after I finish the Royal Rumble 1999 article) I go watch some old Ace matches. I, as so many, have noticed just how inexpressive Laurinaitis is, but this segment showed me just how bad he really is and I think that's why he didn't get far as a wrestler. I can't talk about his ring skills as I just don't remember, but if Laurinaitis sold that badly after working the industry as long as he has, then I can't imagine how bad he was back in the day. He made Cena's selling ability to look Oscar worthy! I need to find this on YouTube and put it in my favorites list for those times I need a good laugh.
Winner – Punk (not that I heard any bells)
I think this was a pretty solid go home to the Royal Rumble, but I have a problem with how this whole month of January has been handled. This was the first 'All About The Numbers' video for the Royal Rumble Match and it's less than a week away. Normally by the time the Royal Rumble hits, I'm so sick of that video. They haven't announced many people officially in the Royal Rumble Match, they having been pushing the PPV or the match as they have in the past and how I expect them to. I'm bummed that I'm not going this year, but last year by the time we got in the car to go I had to keep myself calm so I wouldn't be going way to fast to get to Boston as I was so hyped up to see it. I'm very excited this year, but more because the Royal Rumble is my favorite PPV than how the show has been pushed. This RAW gave us a lot of teasers for the PPV – specifically Jericho and the Cena/Kane match as well as the Punk/Dolph match – but not for the actual Royal Rumble Match. So while RAW has been getting getting better and better, I think they dropped the ball on the actual Royal Rumble Match. Now I'm going to get my white board out to figure out my predictions for the entire Royal Rumble!