#properopening: Thankfully it’s Punk that opens the show and not Cena, which you would think would be the norm, Punk being the WWE Champ and all. Even then the focus should be on the Punk-Ziggler match, but WWE is trying its hardest to make Punk-Laurinaitis another Austin-McMahon, so Dolph is relegated to the awkward third wheel, much like Miz was leading up to Wrestlemania last year. Punk pushing Funkman as a failure in all aspects and continuing to get under his skin has provided the perfect process for the EVP+RAW GM character to grow beyond being an empty suit. I for one am excited about what this could mean for RAW in general and not just Punk. My earlier glee at this being a no-Cena opening is shattered when Superman himself makes his way to the ring. His diss of Punk for rambling had me hopeful, but he wants Funkman to come out and answer what he did to Ryder last week. Punk’s facial expressions in the background are priceless. Finally the new Johnny comes out, says his 427 word title, books Ryder-Kane for later and does his best Teddy impersonation by making a Cena-Punk vs Ziggler-Swagger tag match for next.
#maineventopener: This tag match is what you would expect to be in the main event slot, so it’s interesting that it is the opening match. You know it’s going to be a good one when Cole sends it to a commercial break while saying Laurinaitis is looking on when Ave is actually sitting by the announce table texting on his phone. Of course Cole is too busy most of the match holding a massive praisefest for Mr EVP and Ziggler. I am interested to see how Swagger performs now that he is the US Champ. Maybe this will give him a bit more confidence or make him more intense and aggressive. The heel team is more entertaining since this is a normal Cena match where he gets beat down repeatedly before making the hot tag. Ziggler ends up pinning Punk, but like their recent matches it comes with a big assist from Mr Interim GM. Post match the feud hotshots itself when Punk challenges Ace to a match, which is accepted. I cannot believe this will be an actual match, but one that will either not end clean or not even take place because Ace has some heels come to beat on Punk.
#puregenius: That’s what Jericho’s ‘walkout’ last week was, as unbelievable as it might seem. The way he’s playing the crowd is also pure genius. Stringing them along without saying a word is much more powerful then if he had spoke at all. He’s out now for the Highlight Reel and I would be shocked if he actually spoke. Instead of walking around slapping hands, he continually makes motions to quiet the crowd, before running to the back and emerging with a T-shirt launcher. Although he was saying stuff as he went up the ramp and the camera mic caught it. Just when we think he’ll speak he throws it to the JeriTron in the ring for a highlight reel of his own career. At least some people in the crowd are catching on and are booing him. Of course from prediction from a few sentences ago as Y2J actually speaks, saying Sunday as the Rumble will be the end of the world. He could’ve waited until the Rumble event itself or even the next RAW, but his speaking now actually is in keeping with what he’s done since returning. He’s been leading us along, giving just enough to keep everyone interested, and finally speaking, if only a few words, makes us want more.
#owwowwoww: So Ryder’s match against Kane is Falls Count Anywhere and if Cena interferes, Ryder will not get his US Title rematch. I will say Kane’s steel mask that he wears over his regular red one is pretty cool. Just staring at it is enough to unnerve anyone. I know I’d be intimidated if I was standing in the ring with Kane wearing that mask. Since falls can happen anywhere, the action thankfully spills outside the ring soon after the match starts. I’ve said it before when discussing this type of match, a majority of the action must happen outside the ring for it to really live up to its billing, not even to mention that the fall itself must not occur within the ropes. Kane is expertly focusing most of the punishment on Zack’s injured ribs. Finally Kane tosses Ryder over the barrier and into the crowd and one dude even holds up his kid so the kid can see. For the first time since the opening bell, Ryder gets some offense in via a suitcase to the back of Kane’s head. Of course that makes Kane even angrier, so in retrospect not a very good idea. He at least expends his repertoire of pain by using audio equipment, the giant logo on the stage and even the stage itself to dish out more. With Ryder chokeslammed through the stage, Kane turns his attention to Eve, before Cena appears on the stage and Kane mysteriously hightails it through the crowd. Ryder did a great job of selling the beatdown throughout and Eve did as well with her being distraught over what was happening, to top it off she says to Cena’s face that she blames him for what happened. Even Cena put a good show, selling his inner conflict with just his facial expressions as medics attend to Ryder. Even Cole is somber as Zack is carted off.
#followup: So they follow that emotionally charged segment with a Sheamus-Mahal match? I’m pretty sure Sheamus will win this one in order to get the crowd’s spirits back up, thus making Mahal the sacrificial lamb. During the match, Wade Barrett makes his way down to join the commentary and I couldn’t be happier. Anytime Barrett has any sort of mic to use is a good decision to me. Wade’s entrance gave Mahal the upper hand for a bit, but Sheamus comes back with the Brogue Kick for the win. Is it me or is Barrett using Miz’s spray on tanner? Or maybe it’s just because he’s put up against Sheamus, who makes anyone look tan.
#calledyourmomma: Not only do we get more dancing from The Funkasaurus, but William Regal is out for commentary, even though Clay did sort of botch the ripping off his pants part. He faces Mr Wendy Slater, who looks even more ridiculous with those shoulder tattoos. The match, if it can even be called that, is mostly filled with Clay ‘jiggling’. So I’m guessing the inclusion of Regal into this is the beginning of some sort of angle or association between Clay and himself.
#bffbreakup: Great promo by Miz before his match against Truth about how his history of ‘breaking up’ with former tag team partners and how he is #1 must see, etc. This allows Truth to come in, posing as a ‘market researcher’ to inform Miz just what he is #1 in. WEIO. If you don’t know what that means, then you need to see the segment for yourself. Ace makes his presence known by complaining that their arguing is interrupting his match preparation. Besides making the loser of the match entrant #1 in the Rumble, we also get to see more emotion from Funkman. The match itself is nothing special, Miz has most of the offense but Truth turns the tables on him for the victory. I was more interested in Truth new shirt. Remember when he was feuding with Cena and that rant about T-shirts and not having his own? Well it appears he got his wish.
#10yearhiatus: As Cole has told us numerous times throughout the night, it has been 10 years since Laurinaitis was in a WWE ring as a wrestler. Pre-match in his office, David Otunga’s Travel Mug (DOTM) hands him a fax that Ace doesn’t seem too happy about. Punk is more then eager to go in the ring. In true comedic fashion, Ace comes out wearing his ‘Future Endeavoured’ shirt and now I kind of want one. Travel Mug himself reads the fax from the Board of Directors. It sounds like the same speech that ended with Vince and HHH losing their power, however his interim status will be ‘under review’ and he’ll get a ‘job evaluation’ next week on RAW. That’ll be conducted by the COO, H himself, so it appears that’s how they’ll work Hunter back into the picture as the ramp up to Mania begins. Of course the fact that this promo has been going on for a long time means the match won’t happen tonight. Still, I’m sure they’re saving it for a later time. Still the crowd is sent home happy as Punk puts Johnny to sleep, even if Ace did a bad job selling it.