Before I start, my apologies for a late post on this week’s RAW. I’ve been really busy as of late, which is also the reason for there being no review of last week’s Smackdown. The posts may be a bit thinner here on RTV-WOW for the next couple of months as well. In the mean time, check out my work at the Bleacher Report, for which I have just started writing on WRASSLIN’ and other things besides: http://bleacherreport.com/users/455718-rtv
Now, this RAW was a very good ‘go home’ show for the Royal Rumble, but often, that means shorter matches and more symbolic angles, and for no event is this more prevalent, than the Royal Rumble. Indeed, the show started out with Edge (who will only enter the match if he drops his title, which seems unlikely) having to stop Jack Swagger, Tyson Kidd and Drew McIntyre throwing him over the top rope. I actually liked what I saw, but I don’t think Edge was a good choice: as I say, Edge probably wont be in the Rumble, so him defeating three entrants in a Rumble style match seemed only to serve to weaken the entrants. I think this ‘exhibition’ would have been better served with Alberto Del Rio, this year’s primary-bleater about the match, issuing an over the top rope challenge which culminates in the free-for all which eventually ended the show.
The Divas Title match was a bit of a disappointment. Melina and Natalya are excellent wrestlers, and I thought that, with some more build-up, this would have made an excellent Rumble match. Instead, we got a 3-4 minute retention on RAW (though I have to say, the way Natalya leaned back on Melina during the Sharpshooter was amazing – it looked too much even for Melina!). It also seems that one or both of LayCool will be getting another title shot at the Rumble instead. In general, this isn’t a bad thing, Layla and Michelle are very talented, and obviously draw, but it seems a shame to drop an angle which could have been really heated so soon in favour of a return to LayCool.
Edge vs Miz was a very good match, and an example of when indefinitive finishes are correctly used. It started out with Edge remaining something of a house of fire, following on from his opening confrontation. He really dominated Miz in the early going, even preparing for a Spear, which Miz managed to avoid. Miz’s characteristic ingenuity, which makes him a good champion (see https://rtvwrestling.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/why-a-strong-champion-isnt-always-must-see/) helped him get an upper hand on Edge, and had his share of domination. As it sounds, this match was very back and forth, which made the two seem, roughly, like equals. In the end, Dolph Ziggler, who had been excellent on commentary, interrupted the match before Edge could hone in on a potential win. This made for good build up for both title matches as Ziggler created more heat between himself and Edge while Miz went in to the Royal Rumble without losing. Meanwhile, an understandably angry Randy Orton hit and cleared the ring of the heels, which again added more tension to the PPV matches, though I would have liked to have seen him selling his injuries from last week a bit more given how much last wekk’s beat-down had been hyped.
Daniel Bryan and the Bellas against Ted DiBiase was good story-wise if not wrestling-wise, which would have been ok had it had much to do with the Royal Rumble. Bryan was distracted by one of the Bellas coming on strongly to him, distracting both him and the other Bella, who was quickly rolled up by Maryse. That was good in itself as it carried on the dynamic of DiBiase being emasculated by his girlfriend who picked up the victory for him. After that, the Bellas went to confront Bryan as to which one of them he preferred, only to find him kissing up with Gail Kim, who then got in to an altercation with the two. It was pretty funny, and it was good otherwise to see Gail on TV. Perhaps now we might get to see her in the ring in a meaningful way and get traction for the Divas title!
Nothing much to say about the tag match, as Cole spoiled, it was a way to justify Nexus getting a tag team title match at the Royal Rumble. I just wanted to note that that Husky Harris has taken a huge step forward by changing his finisher. His Downward Spiral style finisher is a lot more threatening than his senton, so good job there. It’s also worth mentioning that my worries about Mason Ryan’s voice being, frankly, silly, seem unfounded. His voice is actually quite good from what I heard – that makes him more credible as the eventual main-eventer he’ll no doubt be.
Next up was the main event, Punk vs Barrett. Now I liked Cena comically abusing his authority, that was cool, but i’d have liked to have seen Punk and Barrett go. Instead, Cena disqualified them both before any action could really get going, ostensibly to eliminate both Nexus and Corre from the Rumble. Of course this wasn’t going to happen, if for no other reason, they have 40 spots to fill this year. Luckily, the GM stood in to stop Cena from completing another act that Punk could easily righteously criticise, and both groups will be in the Rumble. As for Punk-Barrett: them not being able to fight points to a Punk-Barrett/Nexus-Corre match could be in the future. That has potential, but i’d rather it at least waited until after Wrestlemania – Both groups have lots more potential elsewhere, and before they wipe each other out, I want to see that.
The show ended with the traditional ring full of superstars trying to make a statement by throwing each other the top rope. It happens every year, but I have no problem with it!