I know a lot of people were very unhappy with the way the Royal Rumble went down. The only reason I'm unhappy is because in the end Stacy and I swapped our predictions, so I had Drew McIntyre and he had Sheamus, even though Sheamus was in my top three for the past month.
I enjoyed Punk versus Dolph, even though I was screaming at my laptop every time Laurinaitis screwed him over, but that's what they booked it that way. I was also annoyed by the way D-Bry won, but I can appreciate the creativity behind it and the willingness of Big Show to sit at the top of the cage. I was crushed with Drew came out and faced Funkasaurus. I loves me some Funkasaurus, even though he looked like a leprechaun with a glandular problem, because I really thought it would have been creative for Drew to win the Royal Rumble Match.
During the Royal Rumble Match there were some great moments, and a couple terrible moments. First off, I loved that Miz and Cody lasted as long as they did, but I didn't love that each person who came out to face Miz early on were terribly clichéd. I loved Foley in the match. Heck, I love Foley and most everyone who knows me (or reads my Blogs), knows that I find Foley to be one very sexy man. I can't help but almost always loving him, This Is Your Life and Orton spitting in his face not withstanding, so I loved him in this match. He and Santino were beautiful in their silliness. We all know that there's going to be some silly moments and they gave us that. Okay, Ricardo did it too, but he was wonderful in how he did it, so he gets huge props for self deprecation in my book. The worst thing in the Royal Rumble Match was that Kane wasn't in it. This would have been his 14th Royal Rumble Match in a row and he didn't have a chance to break HBK's record. I think it's a shame that he wasn't given the chance after so many silly entries – Cole to be specific. Honestly, I had Booker and King on my possible surprise entries list, but I didn't think both would be in.
The best part of the match for me, and for most it seems, was the end between Sheamus and Jericho. So many people were sure Jericho was going to win the match, for what he'd said when he finally broke his silence. Personally, I don't think he should have broken his silence, other than for the swerve. Their last moments in the ring were inspiring and what a Royal Rumble Match should be about. Also, Sheamus winning was great, but we will have to wait until this time next year to evaluate whether he took the push and ran with it, or if he fell flat like ADR.
I do have one more comment about the Royal Rumble Match. I'm thrilled to see Kia (Kharma) back. I was really worried that she might have been back too early, that something terrible might have happened. I asked Richard if he had any news, and at that point he didn't. Now knowing that she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, I'm more than thrilled for her.
In Ring Segment > B
Laurinaitis was his usual good in how bad he was. He's taken his own terrible personality and made it into a character that we all love to hate. Ho clue how much is really him and how much he's putting on, but he's doing well with it. Beyond that Punk carried this segment and sold it for me – as usual. D-Bry fell a little flat for me which sucks because I know he's good – and VEGAN. Sheamus was a bit overzealous, but he had every right to be as he just won the fricken Royal Rumble Match! Punk and his pipebomb is great, even if D-Bry did threaten to shove it where...
Orton vs Dolph > D+
I'm more than pissed off about this match! They put two of the best guys in the company in the ring together, then spent more time talking to Wade in a VIP box, split screen, then following the work in the ring. Orton and Dolph deserve a high B, or low A, but the way the whole thing was executed made Orton and Dolph look like classless idiots for bother to wrestle a match when Wade was talking. I'm very unimpressed. Further, I thought Dolph was made too look too weak for having been built up, pushed and then in a WWE Championship Match at a top four PPV. Who did Dolph piss off backstage?
Winner – Orton
Video > B+
Nice start to the WrestleMania promos. No awe inspiring or fantastic, but if they get better from here it will be a great Road to WM.
Backstage Segment > A!
There's reason why I love Regal and this segment is a big part of why. Conjoined identical twins locked up in the attic? Beautiful! Further, Laurinaitis no sold it in the way only he can.
Funkasaurus vs Tyler Reks > B
Again, another squash match for Funkasaurus while Reks didn't get his entrance on TV. I don't know what they're pushing Clay toward, but I know why they're doing it this way – I just don't have to like it. I don't like seeing guys with solid talent being stuck jobbing. Many people don't like Reks, but I do and have from when he was first called up. I think he has decent ring skills and an interesting look. Hopefully he'll get on RAW or Smackdown in a role other than jobbing. I also know people don't like Funkasaurus, but I'm on board with him too. Who was it in the Live Blog who called Clay's dancers the 'Claymates'? You need your props for that.
Winner – Funkasaurus
Backstage Segment > C+
Why did the WWE feel the need to push the lifestyles of these two down our throats as if no one knows what vegan and straight edge are. Please, be honest, who didn't know what these two lifestyles were about before Punk and D-Bry? I knew what both were before 'meeting' these guys on TV, but I have learned more about straight edge because of Punk. As I'm sitting here eating my cashew chicken and fish sandwich from BK (no lettuce), I can tell you I'm not vegan, or even vegetarian, but it's not for any other reason that I have so many foods I can't eat due to my health issues that I can't limit any caloric intake at this point.
I will say that talking about these two things brings to the forefront that some of these wrestlers are taking care of their bodies and it's not everyone who is racking up Wellness violations. Honestly, it's a very, very smart thing for the WWE to do at this point, and we all know that extensions of real life makes for better characters and storylines!
Champion vs Champion > A+
Who would have thought that Count Danielson and half of the Chick Magnets would be the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Champion, respectively? They're not the biggest guys, not always the most charismatic guys, but they are dang good in the ring. In the day and age of big guys, and actual wrestling skill meaning less than it has in a very long time, these two guys pushed through and became WWE Superstars. Not even just WWE Superstars, but the top of their brands with the biggest belts and (hopefully) decent respect. I was shocked when both of them came in, but not shocked when Punk was screwed over earlier in his WWE career. These are both guys who could have fallen through the cracks if not for their skills and strong personalities.
But beyond all that, this was a match we haven't seen in a very long time on WWE TV. These two guys not only left it all in the ring, they knew what they were doing, and know each other very well, while they did it. If it hadn't been obvious earlier in the match, when they both hit those cross-bodies, they proved how stiff they were working that match. That move about knocked the wind out of me! Yes, because they know each other so well and worked that match so hard, some things got a tiny bit sloppy, but it worked. Punk's hard hitting work, D-Bry's creativity in working certain body parts, they made this a match of the year candidate that was jammed into a post-PPV RAW. This was a WrestleMania worthy match and hopefully they will both have matches half this solid on the grandest stage of them all.
From the moment this match was announced, I knew it wouldn't have a clean finish. For me it was a given, so Jericho's involvement didn't bother me in the least. Okay, I wish I hadn't been so enthralled in the match that I automatically thought it would be Big Show who caused the DQ, but Jericho was even better. There were reasons I wanted Jericho to win the Royal Rumble Match – he's never won it, and I want to see him face Punk at WrestleMania for the strap. They were pushing Punk being the best wrestler in the world, setting up for Jericho and him to feud, and I'm loving it! They're both fabby on mic and in the ring, so their WrestleMania could be the match of the night for me, absolutely better wrestled than Rocky versus Cena! Yes, I got that from one little code breaker. Okay, that and the work both of these men have given us for so many years.
Winner – The Fans!
Video > B+
While I am not a fan of the celebrity 'wing' of the WWE Hall of Fame (even though it might be the only HOF Pete Rose gets into), I understand why they do this every year. I'm not a fan of Tyson, but he did do a lot within the WWE and he deserves props for that.
Kofi vs Miz > B
I loved R-Truth on announce. He was so comfortable on mic and stayed in character as if it was really who R-Truth is. Miz was also great on mic, but they have so much to do to build Miz back up again. Sadly, they didn't do that here. I'm thrilled Kofi won as I felt he was getting the short end of the stick due to Evan, but winning this match did a lot for me. I'm hoping the WWE is seeing Kofi as a valuable Superstars and push him a little more as I think it's time. I also have to remember that the WWE probably has a plan for Miz and I will have to hold on and wait for that to come to fruition as obviously R-Truth isn't done with him yet. I'm going to keep my toes crossed for all three of these guys, but also enjoy all their work while I'm doing so because they're all really strong men who really didn't have a chance after the previous match.
Winner – Kofi
Backstage Segment >B
I have to say it was fun watching Laurinaitis getting tweaked out at thinking Otunga is trying to steal his job. Shows the type of person he is, that he'd do it in Otunga's shoes.
Video > B+
I have already been told, by a friend who loves wrestling, that he was a bit put out by this video about Rocky as it was too long and took too much time from the actual show. To play devil's advocate, they are basing WrestleMania around Rocky and Cena, so they will be pushing both of them in a big way. Also, I'm sure part of Rocky's contract there's something about the WWE pushing the movies Rocky is starring in, so they're going to push that too. Personally, I thought it was a very well produced video and could have been much worse. I actually like that they did it in a big chunk and not pushed throughout the show. I know I'm normally one for shorter segments when they're not working the ring, but they got it out of the way and let us get back to the issue at hand – firing Laurinaitis! Okay, wishful thinking, but we should expect more of these on the Road to WM.
Video > C-
I really didn't like this and am not sure how I feel about this YouTube channel. I know a lot of companies have their own channels, and this is setting up for their network, but it just looks cheesy for me.
Divas Championship Match > C
Hear me out! Beth dominated, as she should, and it was over fast. For me, that's a good Divas match. So sad, but very true. I just hope that Kharma's return will breathe new life into the Division.
Winner – Beth
In Ring Segment > C+
Okay, first off, Kane on the tron putting the fear into Eve reminded me of the good old days. He never laid a hand on her, but the spice of worry was there and it felt like the Attitude Era that so many of us miss. I loved the fight between Cena and Kane, but it sure didn't look like Cena was 'embracing the hate' to me. He was all smiles, silly and corny, the same old Cena. I want to see the intense and edgy Cena that we've been missing for so long and has turned so many of the fans against him. I will keep hoping that Kane will get through to a new Cena as I don't think this is over.
In Ring Segment > B+
I'm going to split this into two parts as it was so long, too long for one grade. First off, Trip was hysterical! He has such great comedic timing and really played this to the nines. He was funny setting up Laurinaitis, but the way he ripped on Laurinaitis for Chapsticking up and getting down I was snorting with laughter. And then there was Laurinaitis who begged, grovelled and showed what a weasel he really is – no dishonor meant to Heenan. He sold it so well, but never showed an emotion on his face. The only tell he had was a couple time color crept up his neck and into his face, but otherwise he was plastic!
I am planning on going back to watch this segment to really get into the subtleties between the the two characters. Other than running a bit long, and not getting Laurinaitis' bum future endeavored, this was great acting running off a darn fine script. The only reason it didn't get a higher grade was because of what followed.
In Ring Segment > A
Taker is a master in that ring. He doesn't have to be wrestling, he doesn't even have to be speaking, he conveys more in a single glance than most of the younger guys understand. I'm not saying the new group coming up isn't learning, this past year a number of the guys – Sheamus, Dolph and Cody – have taken huge steps with that. Orton and Christian stepped up their visual game this year as well, but none have that it factor that Taker's had for so many years. Kane has it in a different way as he could only work with his eyes for so many years, but he's on par with his 'brother' and deserved the mention here. Taker seemed to have it almost from word go as the Taker character and has only gotten better with age. Speaking of age... I think Taker looked really old in this segment. I know he's not that fresh faced Deadman who came in at Survivor Series in 1990, but he's wearing (almost) forty-seven pretty hard on his face. I know it's been a year since we've seen him and he has that deeply lined face, but he looks a bit worn out. As much as I love Taker, after WrestleMania, I will have no trouble living in the past to get my Taker fix.
I haven't spoken to anyone about the end of this segment as I didn't want to be swayed by anyone. I'm thinking some people are sure we're going to see Taker versus Trip at WrestleMania after that segment. On the other hand, I'm thinking others are sure that Trip chickened out and they won't be facing off at WrestleMania. And then maybe others might be thinking that Taker will have to force Trip's hand to face off on April 1st. Honestly, I thought this was wonderful and left a lot of questions in our minds. Both men worked the segment hard, without a word. Last year at this time people were ticked off about Taker and Trip not saying a word in the ring, I loved it as they play the subtleties so well. I don't see that Trip should be going to WrestleMania with Taker after the physical issues he's been dealing with. I think it would be bad for everyone involved, including the fans, if Trip, or anyone, went into WrestleMania to face Taker without being 100%. I think that would be a kick in the teeth to Taker as a man, as wrestler, as the Phenom and as the Deadman we all know and love. The other thing that sits on my heart is I don't want Taker's last for WrestleMania's to be DX. Trip and HBK were and are some of the best, but it's getting monotonous. In my heart of hearts, I want to see Taker face Kane to round out his twenty. To me it just feels right, but only time will tell.
I was blown away with certain parts of this RAW, others left me flat. The show started slow, but reached it's height with the Champ vs Champ match. I've been wanting a feud between these two and that was just a taste. Not saying I'm not salivating at Jericho versus Punk and Sheamus versus D-Bry, just that this is sitting in the back of my brain, just waiting. The show lulled, then was brought right back up to that high point at the end with Taker's return. So many questions put out there, but will we like the answers?
I will be tackling Taker's streak in a series of articles, the way I did with the Royal Rumble. If there's anything you want, please let me know. While I enjoy learning and writing about these things, I'm doing it for everyone, not just me. Talk to me, tell me what interests you and where you'd like me to take some of these articles.