For that reason alone, this week’s episode of Monday Night RAW was solid.
But the way it all went down was a joke.
At the start of the show Punk said fans screwed him last week in his loss to John Cena and cost him a shot at the Rock for the WWE title. The only way to give the fans what they deserved, he said, was to end the Undertaker’s fabled streak.
Randy Orton threw a wrench in those plans when he hit the ring and said he wanted a shot at Taker instead. Big Show joined the club soon before Sheamus too announced that he deserved an opportunity. Naturally, Vikki Guerrero announced a fatal four-way for an opportunity to fight Taker at Mania.
Talk about a way to drag out the obvious.
Of course Punk won.
Did anyone really see it going down any other way? Shame on the WWE for prolonging the payoff and almost ruining the return of one of their greatest superstars and a match that everyone wants to see.
The rest of the show consisted of quick matches, appearances by WWE Legends (the likes of The New Age Outlaws, Ric Flair, Ted DiBiase, Dusty Rhodes, Sgt. Slaughter, The Honky Tonk Man) and Hacksaw Jim Duggan) and promo. The Rock and John Cena had an engaging 10-minute segment, as did Triple H during his promo on Brock Lesnar. The Shield’s Dean Ambrose also continued to prove he’s a talented youngster with a more than solid promo of his own. At the end of the day though, while the shouting matches continue to build up these angles, the real payoff will be at Wrestlemania.
Everything else was just fun filler.
United States Heavyweight Champion Antonio Cesaro vs. Ryback: Cesaro has been made to look like a fool as of late and this match was no different. Aside from selling all of Ryback’s offense, Cesaro had little time to shine, aside from heel tactics. After Cesaro used a few submissions, countered the Meat Hook Clothesline with a European Uppercut and looked to have an edge, Ryback countered the Neutralizer with the Shellshock for the win.
Mark Henry vs. Zack Ryder: Henry made easy work of Ryder with the World’s Strongest Slam.
The Miz w/Ric Flair vs. Dolph Ziggler w/ Big E. Langston and AJ Lee: These guys have chemistry. Behind the solid ring work and Flair’s antics, this was a fun match. For the finish, Ziggler went for the sleeper after the two traded counters and signature offense, but Miz was able to hit his turnbuckle clothesline and double axe-handle from the top. Although Lee and Langston got involved, Flair and Miz were able to get out of it unscathed. Miz ended up winning with the Figure-Four in the center of the ring.
Jack Swagger w/Zeb Colter vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan w/ Sgt. Slaughter and Dusty Rhodes: Swagger used Duggan’s two-by-four on all three of the legends and latched on the Patriot Lock on Duggan in the no-contest.
WWE Tag Team Champions Daniel Bryan and Kane vs. Darren Young and Titus O’Neil: Another fast match. Bryan was in for most of the match, but Kane won with a Chokeslam on Young.
Tensai and Brodus Clay w/Naomi and Cameron vs. Heath Slater, Drew MacIntyre and Jinder Mahal: Tensai won with a rollup in less than a minute. Before the match, 3MB mouthed off to Honky Tonk man. After the encounter, Honky Tonk danced for the fans and broke a guitar over Slater’s face.
Fandango vs. Kofi Kingston: The ring announcer couldn’t pronounce Fandango’s name to his liking, so the heel refused to have a match. Seriously.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio w/Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett: Del Rio had the quick advantage, with Swagger and Colter watching intensely on the entrance ramp. Barrett sold a bit on his arm, but nailed Del Rio with a slew of elbows and knees. Barrett lost momentum after a missed second rope elbow and after a few clotheslines, a Tilt-a-Whirl backbreaker and a Super Kick, Del Rio was back in control. Soon enough Del Rio had the win via submission courtesy of his Cross-Arm Breaker.
Road Dogg and Billy Gunn vs. Primo and Epico w/ Rosa Mendez: The New Age Outlaws’ antics before the match got the crowd going. A fast match that saw the New Age Outlaws go through most of their signature offense, the crowd chanted, “You still got it” to the five-time Tag Champs. They do. After he got the hot tag, Gunn nailed Primo with the Fame Asser for the win.
Fatal Four Way for Shot Against Undertaker at Wrestlemania: CM Punk vs. Randy Orton vs. Big Show vs. Sheamus: Show was in control in the early going, but Orton and Sheamus has their own spots as well. Punk was the weasel and didn’t get much offense in, but he was also on the outside most of the match. Punk also was the victim of a WMD from Show, but Sheamus got involved before a pin could take place. The Celtic Warrior and Orton then traded offense before Show Chokeslammed both Orton and Sheamus. A Brogue Kick eliminated Show to the outside, while Orton neutralized Sheamus with the RKO. Out of nowhere, Punk came back into the ring and took out Orton with the GTS and won the match.