Coming off a red hot Raw last week, could WWE keep the momentum going for the first Raw of February?
Triple H started things off to tell us that John Laurinaitis was totally gonna get fired, but that damn Undertaker gave him just enough time to slip out and prepare a PowerPoint presentation to the Board of Directors in order to save his job at the eleventh hour. Now that, my friend, is how you play office politics! Of course, it is a bit funny that Triple H dropped everything to appear on WWE for the first time since TLC to fire him, only to completely shrug it off and shift gears a week later, but I think that just says more about what a terrible COO he is.
The Game gave us a flimsy excuse about not wanting to fight Taker again at WrestleMania because he chooses to remember The Undertaker as a dominant, awe-inspiring force, not the guy who couldn't walk out of the arena last year. I would be inclined to go along with this if someone would ever call Triple H out on his bullshit, which I don't expect to happen, so I will.
Triple H, you lost that match last year, buddy. Sure, The Undertaker had to be carried out, but it was also a few months after he was left in a vegetative state and when he tried to return, he was literally buried alive. You come back from that, jerkface. What I'd love to see here is The Undertaker tell us that on top of looking to redeem himself for that, he knows Triple H's real reason for ducking out is that he also doesn't have it anymore. Let's see The Undertaker question if Triple H can still go, because I guaran-goddamn-tee The Undertaker is still more believable as a bad ass than Triple H ever was.
Big Show vs. Daniel Bryan was a really fun opening match. These two have an interesting bizzaro David & Goliath chemistry that works well and Bryan's smug condescending asshole shtick is perfect for it. Quitting the match because Big Show knowingly stopped himself this time from bowling over poor AJ (complete with HeelBrand™ Neckbrace) is the kind of stuff I love. He's a dick, sure, but he has a point. Even if Big Show was just more aware of AJ being around this time, who hasn't been there when the alpha male complex comes out? Bryan's playing the role obscenely well, is obviously consistently great in the ring and Big Show has been incredibly underrated over the last three years, so let's keep this going.
John Cena waving the green flag at the Daytona 500 is kind of a big deal, isn't it?
David Otunga Tebowing for boos? Brilliant. Sheamus kicking Otunga's ass for cheers? Also brilliant! I liked this little segment and I'm really starting to come around on Otunga. His mic work has dramatically improved and he showed some intensity in this match despite it being a glorified squash. Keep it up, Esquire.
Did WWE really use a "Did You Know" to brag about beating NBC in the ratings last Monday? The same NBC that's been tying with Univision? C'mon WWE, there's promotion and then there's just kicking a guy when he's down.
Chris Jericho basically admitted that his hype videos and various appearances before the Rumble were just to screw with us, "I trolled you." I was half expecting a Rick Astley video to pop up in the middle of the promo. Jericho finally told us his motivation for coming back, he's tired of guys ripping him off. The Miz took his style, Kofi Kingston took his moves, R-Truth stole his catchphrase, Dolph Ziggler stole his very progressive idea for a female business partner, and CM Punk stole "Best in the World." They're all wannabes, you're all wannabes, we're all wannabes, if you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my friends.
Naturally, CM Punk interrupted and instead of using his pipe bomb, he merely dropped the mic and walked away, Jericho style. This part honestly fell a bit flat for me through no fault of Jericho or Punk, just because the silent response is becoming far too frequent of a crutch for WWE storytelling. It would've been powerful stuff had The Undertaker not ended Raw with it last week and Triple H not done it last year. Plus, there's the usual billion times a year two guys have a stare down and look at the WrestleMania sign. I liked Punk doing it though, it was a nice way of owning Jericho's accusations and responding with "while you've been playing rock star, I've been WWE Champion."
Randy Orton & The Great Khali vs. Wade Barrett & Cody Rhodes was quite bizarre thanks to the Orton/Khali pairing and the fact that it's rare to see a team where Khali is the better wrestler... BOOM! Harmless main event style tag match with the good guys predictably picking up the win and Orton predictably looking like the only person that matters. Cody and Wade make a great team though and I'd like to see them shake up the tag division somewhere down the line.
8-Diva Tag Match was typical throwaway nonsense. I realize the point is often to get as many Divas on screen as possible, but if they really cared about storytelling here, they would've just had Beth Phoenix come to the ring and do the promo she taped backstage with some added flare. Her inevitable battle with Kharma is the only thing this dying division has going for it, so the sooner we can dive in, the better. Everything else is just filler.
Hey, Shawn Michaels is going to be on Raw next week! He's either going to weigh in on The Undertaker/Triple H situation or pass the torch to Brodus Clay.
The Main Event was very Attitude Era inspired with CM Punk, Chris Jericho, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz and Kofi Kingston, the six participants in the Raw Elimination Chamber, all battled each other in a Six-Pack Challenge. I'm sure someone out there is bitching about them "giving away" the main event of a PPV, but this was obviously drastically different than what we'll see in two weeks.
I liked that they kept Jericho and Punk separate just enough to keep it interesting and create a great story with Jericho's victory (and mocking of Punk), but it's going to be much more difficult at the Elimination Chamber. My guess (and keep in mind, I'm pulling this right out of my ass) is Jericho wins the WWE Title in the Chamber on Punk's quest becomes winning it back at Mania and having to prove he's not a Jericho wannabe.
Oh and Kane threatened Eve backstage to close the show, officially killing any remaining slivers of coolness this story had. We've gone from awesomely bad horror movie to Lifetime original movie.
After last week's A+ show, this week was definitely disappointing. Not terrible or anything but not the show I was hoping for and that vibe killer at the end of the show really didn't help. Next week should be better with last minute Chamber hype and then we're officially-officially on the Road to WrestleMania.