Is this Punk’s last week as champion?
In spite of another solid promo from Punk and a few cool moments like the announcement of Bob Backlund’s induction into the 2013 class of the WWE Hall of Fame, the last episode of RAW before the Royal Rumble was a weaker one.
Filled with mostly lackluster matches and little storyline development, it was a tease. The Beat the Clock challenge matches added another interesting element to the show. Sadly, they were predictable, too.
CM Punk’s promo at the top of the second hour was passionate and changed the pace of the show entirely. Punk, with arrogance and solemnity, spoke of the difference between he and The Rock. One is to be a champion, the other, is to entertain, he said. Like a cult leader, Punk spoke to his fans. He twisted The Rock’s words to conform to his message.
It wasn’t a pipe bomb, but it was effective.
The tone changed again when Kane and Daniel Bryan finally graduated from Anger Management class. More witty than outright hilarious, Kane and Bryan are the WWE’s version of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton. That segment was a fun excursion.
Things went back to normal after The Rock got to cut his promo on Punk. It was a weaker promo than Punk’s. It was a weak promo by The Rock’s standards. Forced to use Martin Luther King Jr. and San Jose to get a pair of cheap pops, it was like The Rock walked right into Punk’s verbal punches earlier in the night when he called The Rock an entertainer.
When it was over, the Shield had their way with The Great One, triple-Powerbombing him, for no other reason than that they could.
John Cena’s promo closed the show and it was a fitting one, with all the Royal Rumble contestants eventually mixing it up in the ring. Although he got the crowd energized and surely got a few more people to care about the pay per view, like this week’s RAW, the promo wasn’t exactly breathtaking.
Beat the Clock: U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro vs. Randy Orton: Routine match through the first two minutes with several attempts by both competitors to earn the quick win. The commercial break that followed was nearly four minutes and took up a huge chunk of the match. Cesaro hit a Titl-a-Whirl Slam towards the end of the match, but couldn’t get the pin. Orton then went on his “vintage” routine, with a bevy of clotheslines, and a Powerslam, but Cesaro countered the second-rope DDT. Cesaro then nearly won with a European Uppercut. After he was thrown into the turnbuckle, Orton ultimately stole a win with the RKO at 11:36.
The Big Show vs. Zack Ryder: A slap and a KO punch. Goodnight Ryder.
Ryback vs. Heath Slater w/ Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre: Spinebuster, Meathook Clothesline and a Shellshock. Slater got jobbed out.
Beat the Clock: Dolph Ziggler w/Big E Langston and AJ Lee vs. The Miz: Best match of the night. It was filled with near-falls, submissions and counters. Langston naturally got involved and turned the tide in Ziggler’s favor. Miz battled back though with vicious kicks and the two were on equal footing. After The Miz nailed a few moves in succession, the two traded near-falls and counters again until Miz got Ziggler in the (worst version of the) Figure-Four (ever). With the help of Langston, Ziggler got to the ropes. Soon after, Ziggler nailed Miz with the Zig-Zag for the win at 10:56.
WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn vs. Alicia Foxx: The new Divas champion is obviously still growing into her new role. This match wasn’t dreadful, but it was a bore. After a counter in the corner, Kaitlyn hit Foxx with the Spear for the win.
Beat the Clock: Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett vs. Sheamus: The crowd was basically asleep the first seven minutes of the match. It wasn’t until Barrett nailed some kicks and a big elbow from the second rope that the crowd cared. Ziggler, Langston and Lee interrupted the match soon after. Lee skipped across the ring and ate up valuable time. Although Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick and could have won, the timer ran out before he could get the three count.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio w/ Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Tensai: Del Rio was on the ropes early, but after a nice German Suplex and a corner kick to the head on Tensai, Del Rio landed the Moonsault for the win.