This is the debut of Booker Tea’s newest weekly feature, RAWsome Rewind. Every Tuesday morning, Booker Tea recaps the previous night’s edition of RAW, the flagship of WWE and a staple of Monday nights. Join us as we step between the ropes to help you read between the lines!
- Vickie Guerrero bars The Rock from entering the building, only for Rock to later interrupt Paul Heyman to reiterate that he’ll exit Sunday as WWE Champion. The Shield attacks Rock and leaves him damaged entering the Royal Rumble. In response, Mr. McMahon stipulates that CM Punk will be stripped of the WWE Title if The Shield interferes.
- A three-match, Beat the Clock Challenge series is announced with the winner selecting their entry order in the Royal Rumble match. Dolph Ziggler ultimately wins with a mark of 10:56, only for Vickie Guerrero to clarify that she never specified the numbers available for his choosing. Ziggler may enter at either #1 or #2.
- Team Hell No graduates from Dr. Shelby’s anger-management class and incites the world’s largest televised hug-fest.
- Bob Backlund is announced as the second inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
- John Cena and a litany of WWE Superstars declare that they’ll win the Royal Rumble, sparking a show-closing brawl in a preview of Sunday’s Royal Rumble match.
OFF THE TOP ROPE
For a go-home show, WWE delivered an inconsistent effort that did little to sell fans on this Sunday’s Royal Rumble PPV.
The Beat the Clock Challenge series did little to enhance the show, especially with Vickie Guerrero turning the winner’s incentive into a poison pill. By limiting Dolph Ziggler’s choice to either of the first two slots, the victory was pyrrhic in making the prize hurt the winner. In the end, this made the series meaningless. Meanwhile, the perception of Ziggler continues that he takes two steps back for every forward step. The only way this is rectified is if Ziggler wins the Royal Rumble match – which directly contradicts my fantasy booking of the PPV.
Speaking of winning the Royal Rumble, virtually the entire WWE locker room thought they’d be victorious on Sunday, sparking WWE’s annual brawl to close the show. The difference? John Cena’s promo placed greater emphasis on the importance of the match, stating that everyone will drop what they’re doing to watch. Exaggeration? Sure, but it did more to sell the Rumble match than previous weeks. It was a nice twist on a familiar formula, even if the promo started with Cena’s usual hokey humor – the same corniness that I had previously criticized.
Team Hell No’s graduation from anger management class was my highlight of the night, hands-down. Rarely has a comedy act in WWE worked so effectively. Their break-up is inevitable but I hope we get some more segments like this along the way. Who knows? Maybe a Greatest Hits DVD is in the works!
Finally, shifting gears towards the main event picture, The Rock made his final declaration that he’ll defeat CM Punk for the WWE Championship. In the midst of his promo, The Shield ambushed Rock and left him lying in the center of the ring. In response, Mr. McMahon stipulated that Punk will be stripped of his title if The Shield interferes in his match this Sunday. Do we smell a Brock Lesnar sighting? Or, perhaps, The Rock will walk away cleanly with the title, only for Punk to get the last laugh by winning the Royal Rumble.
THE BIG FINISH
If you hadn’t already planned on ordering the Royal Rumble PPV, this episode of RAW did nothing to sway your decision.
The matches were good and there were a couple of nice promo segments, but overall, the show felt disjointed. More importantly, there was no hard-sell for the PPV that stood out, even including Cena’s show-closing promo about the importance of the Rumble match. SmackDown may fare better than RAW this week, but given the live nature of Monday nights, it’s rare for WWE to script a true go-home show on the blue brand and have it make a noticeable difference in the PPV buyrate.
WWE dropped the ball on RAW, but that doesn’t mean it won’t score decisively with this Sunday’s Royal Rumble PPV.