Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the 10th edition of my weekly WWE review! It’s been an incredibly interesting week in the WWE, so let’s begin with the highlights!
John Cena, Dolph Ziggler and AJ
The first Raw of 2013 was kicked off by John Cena, who came down to the ring and listed why it’s going to be a great show. He talked about CM Punk defending the WWE Championship against Ryback in a TLC Match, and the return of The Rock, before changing the subject to the Royal Rumble. Dolph Ziggler came out with AJ and Big E Langston in tow. When AJ called Cena a small man, Cena said it was her very first “wiener joke” and celebrated that for far too long. He even led the crowd in a wave. When Ziggler interrupted, Cena cut him off by reminding him of how he dumped “excrement” on Dolph and AJ last week, before challenging Ziggler to a match. Big E Langston got on the microphone for the first time and told Cena that Dolph accepted. Dolph and AJ questioned it, but went down to the ring for a match anyway.
The first match of the year saw John Cena take on Dolph Ziggler in the match of the night. During the match, the referee ejected Langston and AJ from ringside, but Langston came back when the ref was taken out. He broke up the STF and hit Cena with his finisher, but it wasn’t enough to put him away. Cena ended up hitting the Attitude Adjustment on Ziggler and won the match with only one shoe on.
Ziggler and AJ attempted to redeem themselves on Smackdown when they took on Khali and Natalya. AJ got the win after hitting Sliced Bread #2 on Natalya, and Langston took out Hornswoggle, leaving all 3 babyfaces laid out.
I’m happy Cena wasn’t a huge part of Raw this week. I’m a fan of Cena, but it would’ve ruined things if he’d had any sort of involvement with The Rock or CM Punk prior to their encounter, even if it was just backstage. I’ll be happy to see Cena in singles matches or tag-team matches with some of the other Rumble participants as we lead up to the event, to give him less of a major role as we build up the huge WWE Championship Match between Punk and Rock. As for Ziggler, I hope he somehow manages to slip away from AJ and Langston after the Rumble, because I don’t want to see him win the World Heavyweight Championship and still have people weighing him down. He’s proven that he can make it on his own, so I really don’t see the WWE’s infatuation with giving him managers and partners. Hopefully he’ll finally take on a more solo role in the company this year, preferably before WrestleMania.
The United States Champion, Antonio Cesaro, took on the Great Khali on Raw, with The Miz sitting on commentary. Cesaro hit the Punjabi Playboy with a very impressive springboard European Uppercut, followed by a huge Neutralizer to end the match. Then on Smackdown, he put on a great showing against Randy Orton, despite losing the match via DQ when The Shield attacked the Viper.
Although he didn’t have a big role this week, I can’t help but consider this guy a highlight every time I see him. He’s definitely one of the best things in the company at the moment, and even though it’s highly unlikely, I’d love to see him win the Royal Rumble this year. He’s going to be one of my favourites in that match, without a doubt. I’m quite happy with how they handled his match with Randy Orton on Smackdown. Although I think the DQ/count-out ending is recycled way too much by WWE, there was really no alternative on SmackDown. That way, Orton won the match without Cesaro losing any momentum in the process. As for his match on Raw, words can’t describe how talented he is. He makes a Great Khali match look good, and that speaks for itself. As it stands, Cesaro is probably going to end up defending the United States Championship against The Miz very soon, and that’s a match I’ll be very interested in.
The Re-emergence of the Dragon
We got a surprise appearance from Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat on Raw, who was talking with Santino Marella backstage before Wade Barrett interrupted. Barrett said that Steamboat was just an old man blowing smoke, and the Hall of Famer took offence to it. Ricky told Marella that he would be in his corner for their match, and they’ll see “just how much smoke this old man can blow”.
When the match came about, Barrett defeated Santino with the BullHammer. As Ricky was tending to Marella after the match, he nearly came to blows with Barrett, but the Intercontinental Champion left the ring before anything happened.
I was quite surprised to see Ricky Steamboat on Raw this week, but perhaps he was there because he’s going to be too busy to appear on the 20th Anniversary episode next week. From what I know, he’s going to be on Raw more often over the next few weeks in order to introduce his son, Richie Steamboat, to the main WWE roster. Based on this week’s Raw, Richie could come in to start a feud with Wade Barrett, but only time will tell.
Alberto Del Rio
It was announced at the beginning of Smackdown that Alberto Del Rio would be challenging Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship in a Last Man Standing match. The champion wasn’t happy about that, but Del Rio managed to prevent him from doing anything about it by throwing him from the ring to save Booker T.
When the match took place, Del Rio took a huge amount of punishment, including a Chokeslam, a Knockout Punch and being thrown through a table. However, despite all of that, Del Rio got in a few shots with the steel stairs, before tipping the announce table on top of Big Show to win his 1st World Heavyweight Championship! You could definitely see the emotion in Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez’s faces as they celebrated the win with the fans.
Although I’m annoyed with WWE spoiling a Title Change for what I believe is the third time in a row, I’m even more annoyed about the World Heavyweight Championship changing hands just over 2 weeks before the Royal Rumble. At this stage, I’ll be really angry if Dolph Ziggler doesn’t cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase at the Rumble. Otherwise, they could’ve had Del Rio win the title at the PPV and it would’ve been even more of a surprise. If Ziggler doesn’t cash in soon, I’ll question the mindset of WWE creative (even more than usual), because they really don’t know what they’re doing. I’m happy for Alberto Del Rio, but I don’t think this will be a long reign and he probably only won so Ziggler will have an easier time cashing in his briefcase than he would if Big Show was still champion.
CM Punk and The Rock
In his first match since injuring his knee over a month ago, CM Punk (with the help of The Shield) successfully defended the WWE Championship against Ryback in a TLC Match. After the bout, Punk felt it was necessary to come back to the ring to address current situations, and drop another “pipebomb” on the WWE Universe.
Punk took the WWE cover off the microphone and threw it out of the ring. He talked about how everyone around him is lacking honesty and that in WWE, it doesn’t matter if you’re the best, referring to the amount of title opportunities John Cena gets. CM Punk spoke about Daniel Bryan and Brodus Clay selling out, acting like idiots just to put a smile on people’s faces. He said that an imaginary child named Little Jimmy gets more airtime than a workhorse like Tyson Kidd. He mocked the crowd for playing right into his hands, and said that he’s the only one who doesn’t set out to entertain the fans. He went on to say that if he was around back when Bruno Sammartino was champion, Punk would’ve held the title for 30 years, considering guys only wrestled once a month in Madison Square Garden back then. He exposed the fact that they were signalling for him to wrap it up so they could cut to commercials, but he said that he’d tell them when they could cut to a break. They cut him off for commercial while he was still talking.
After the break, Punk was still talking about how he had beaten the system by winning the WWE Championship, and The Rock came out to make his much-anticipated return to Raw. He insulted Punk about being delusional, and said that he (Punk) only had 20 days left to hold onto the WWE Championship before Rock takes it. Rocky referred to Punk as ‘Cookie Puss’, and the whole crowd started chanting it, proving Punk’s point about the fans being puppets. They argued back and forth, with Rock saying he came back to entertain the fans, and that Punk looked like Popeye on crack. The best line of the night came when CM Punk said:
“Come Royal Rumble, understand when you step in the ring, your arms are just too short to box with God!”
The segment finished with a Rock Bottom on CM Punk to end the first Raw of 2013, which made The Rock look strong as they get set for their match at the Royal Rumble.
When Smackdown came around, we 2 videos of CM Punk and Paul Heyman walking around the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, talking about The Rock’s years in college football and how the arena he used to play in got torn down. Punk said the WWE that Rock used to dominate is gone and it’s Punk’s home now. Punk was wearing The Rock’s old jersey in the segments, but dropped it in the middle of the field before he left.
Back in the arena, The Rock made his return to Smackdown for the 1st time in 10 years, and spoke about how his life and career all began in Miami. He was interrupted by Team Rhodes Scholars, who were coming off a big win against Team Hell No on Raw. We got a lot of caterpillar and gremlin jokes about Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes. When Sandow attempted to ask Rock three questions to see whether he could stay or not, he received a Rock Bottom for his troubles. Cody Rhodes got a Spinebuster and the People’s Elbow to top it off.
The confrontation on Raw was absolutely brilliant, with CM Punk delivering some of the best mic-work we’ve seen from him during his time with the WWE. Although The Rock was entertaining, and I take nothing away from the guy, I think Punk was on another level this week. Rock delivered a typical promo, with the same silly jokes as usual, and CM Punk delivered an intense, aggressive promo that was overflowing with integrity and emotion. That “your arms are just too short to box with God” line was one of the best lines I’ve ever heard in all the years I’ve been a wrestling fan. It was pure gold. I think Rock is going to have to adopt a more serious mindset with Punk in the coming weeks if he wants to match his (Punk’s) mic-work.
The thing that I loved about this was that The Rock is arguably the greatest talker in the history of professional wrestling and one of the biggest stars in the company today practically blew him away on the microphone. That says a lot about the current product. You can say what you want about PG, the writers and the fact that things were better in the Attitude Era, but you can’t argue with the fact that CM Punk proved this week that the current era could be bigger and better than it was before. It’s just that Vince McMahon won’t let it happen. Some of you may disagree with this, but that’s the thing about pro wrestling – everyone has an opinion. Regardless, I already love what we’ve seen from The Rock and CM Punk so far, and I’m unbelievably excited about what’s to come from this feud.
Here are some of the other match results from this week in WWE:
- Kaitlyn defeated Eve by count-out with the Divas Championship on the line – Raw
- Randy Orton defeated Heath Slater and RKO’d Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre after the match – Raw
- Sheamus defeated Jinder Mahal. During the match, he hit Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater with a Brogue Kick each as they tried to interfere – Raw
- Big Show defeated Kofi Kingston – Raw
- Team Hell No defeated The Prime-Time Players – Smackdown
- Sheamus defeated 3MB in a Handicap Match – Smackdown
All in all, I think it was a great week for the company and, as promised, it got people talking. There were lots of great moments: most notably CM Punk and The Rock, the match between Dolph Ziggler and John Cena, and the fact that we have a new World Heavyweight Champion. There were also some questionable moments, especially Kofi Kingston losing to Big Show in record time on Raw, but I’m not even going to bother explaining why that was a terrible move…
I’m quite excited about the 20th Anniversary of Raw, because I always love when a bunch of legends return for a night. If the rumours of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker coming back are true, then it will be an amazing episode. We already know that Dr Shelby will be returning to evaluate Daniel Bryan and Kane, and that Kaitlyn will be getting a rematch with Eve for the Divas Championship, but other than that, I don’t know what to expect. Apparently, CM Punk will be in a segment with Ric Flair, but we won’t find out until we actually see Raw.
That’s all for this week, ladies and gentlemen. I’ll be back next Sunday to review the 20th Anniversary episode of Raw, and I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say! As always, if you want to talk to me about wrestling, my writing or anything at all, follow me on Twitter @AdamOB96.
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Thanks for reading!