Understandably, this week’s RAW started out with a celebration segment for Royal Rumble winner, Alberto Del Rio. The decorated ring and the Mariachi band gave it all a great atmosphere, not dissimilar from the dressed rings of the attitude era. The atmosphere of it was grandiose enough to create that atmosphere that befits the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’. I was surprised they had him announce who he would take on at Wrestlemania at this stage, as opposed to after Elimination Chamber. I like the immediacy of it, but I think it’s made the main events of Wrestlemania more predictable. Perhaps more important though, this gives Edge and Del Rio longer to build genuine heat, which is important. That started with Del Rio getting the better of Edge in a scuffle and attacking him with a guitar to the arm, before securing his arm-bar on the Rated R Superstar. Given the evocative setting, a good start I think.
It was also announced that the main event would be a ‘RAW rumble’ to determine the #1 contender to the WWE title, with the seven losers going on to Elimination Chamber to wrestle for a shot at whoever wins that match. The participants were to be Cena, Punk, Sheamus, Morrison, R-Truth (WHY!?), Orton and … Jerry “The King” Lawler. At this point, it was clear Lawler wont be taking place in an chamber match, so he’ll be maineventing the PPV. More on that later …
The tag title match was ok. McGillicutty and Harris worked well as a heel team, while Santino continued to gain the credibility he deserves as a wrestler (cobra aside), by putting on some nice wrestling with the Nexus contenders. I also have no problem with them keeping the belts – it would be silly to switch them while they’re gaining a bit of prestige and the champs are so popular. Afterwards, Orton hit the ring to attack the two Nexus guys, who helped screw him out of the title the night before. This culminated in Orton punting Harris, and presumably side-lining him for some time. I don’t quite understand that – Nexus are always more imposing with more members, and they can’t seem to add to group without taking someone away with the same hand. I would rather the members were back closer to 8 than 4, but then again, maybe Harris’ departure means we’ll be seeing a new member? Kong? We’ll see. All that aside, the Orton-Nexus feud seems already to be a lock for Wrestlemania.
Following this, Ted DiBiase, with Maryse, came out to demand that Lawler gave him his spot in the RAW Rumble and not hog the limelight from the younger stars (kid has a point, you might say). Lawler basically said that he earned his spot and was on his own road to wrestlemania, having never wrestled there before. It seems like the start to a story to me, with Lawler fighting to wrestle at the big one – possibly with DiBiase? I would be very much in favour of that! DiBiase, stung, slapped King on the head before using Maryse as a human shield against Lawler. Obviously Maryse didn’t take very kindly to this, slapping Ted (and probably ending that relationship) before Lawler knocked the stunned DiBiase down with a straight punch. If it does lead to something, this was nice stuff.
We then had the ‘2 21 11’ promo. As you’ll all have worked out, that’s the day after Elimination Chamber. My initial reaction was that it was ‘Taker, but on reflection, i’m not so sure – it’s almost too obvious. The other favourite is Sting. Sting on RAW would be earth-shattering, and I think that’s the most likely scenario. Even if everyone knows it’s about to happen, it’ll still be shocking and great. Saying all that, it could be a swerve … After all, I understand Chris Jericho is due back! Now, that vignette didn’t seem very Jericho-esque, but who knows …
Daniel Bryan deserves more match time, as does Tyson Kidd, but a positive to come from that was the continuation of the Gail Kim-Bellas feud, because Gail deserves the spotlight, and hopefully an eventual run for the title.
The Edge-Miz match was pretty good. It was centred around Miz attacking the vulnerable arm of Edge following Del Rio’s attack. Edge was selling it very well through subtlety – struggling to get up because of his arm etc, while Miz used moves that deliberately affected the arm. This was probably starting to drag a little when they started to up the ante. Edge hit an Edgecution before looking for the Spear, at which Point the ubiquitous Riley reared his head to send Edge in to the turnbuckle to allow Miz to get the upper hand. At this point, Cena shouted to Miz from the stands, getting a pretty lackluster ‘Miz is awful’ chant going to distract him enough for Edge to Spear him for the win. This was a sensible finish as it seemed to set Miz and Cena on a collision course for certain, and provided a way for Miz to lose without losing much credibility as champ. It (obviously) disrupted the match though, making it a distinctly average event, and Cena’s involvement seemed to drag a little awkwardly. Not only that, but I hated that the announcers called Edge Cena’s ‘buddy’! Their feud was one of the biggest and most memorable feuds of this decade, and though Wrestlelogic allows for short memories, that was too much to forget here in my view. The Cena-Miz geud has tonnes of potential, but this wasn’t the greatest of starts …
The divas match was pretty good, if probably too short. I didn’t like how Nattie came to the ring all pally with Eve as if Eve hadn’t taken her title the night before. She looked positively elated to be there with her successor – I would have expected a little distraction there. The start of the match saw Layla overplaying her fear of Natalya in a way which was admittedly pretty funny. The end of the match was better though, with Layla pinning the new champ with her new move, the Facelift (a Diamond Dust) which is another genuinely brutal move in her arsenal. Layla pinning the champ puts her in to the title picture surely, so perhaps we might see a replay of the divas match from the rumble at EC?
Khali is back, and the first thing he does is dance, instead of wrestle. I dunno, it was quite funny, but i’m just over seeing it from him. He is incapable of a good feud, in any way. Comic relief I guess.
As I always say with battle royals, they’re hard to analyze really. The only thing to comment on is the continuation of John Morrison’s parkour spots, which are genuinely amazing. This week, he stayed in the ring by his toes, and by his hands. He is being booked as someone who is incredibly difficult to eliminate or even control because of his remarkable dexterity. It’s being treated a bit like Kofi’s ‘spring-loaded’ qualities, and is making him more unique and watchable. Like Kofi though, it only helps so much if he can’t talk. I have no doubt, nonetheless, that this sort of memorable action will see him in the main event soon. There’s not much more to say than the fact that Jerry Lawler won the match, securing another WWE title match, this time at Elimination Chamber. Though i’ve been saying that I want Jerry out of the main event, I’m interested to see this, partly because of his Road to Wrestlemania story. It’s clear he wont be beating Miz, but if he can put on another good match with him, it will be good for both and will create more emotional investment in his attempts to get to the big dance. I’m happy to give it a chance – it’s, at the very least, a genuinely memorable match to take place at the PPV!