It’s Monday Night, and since there’s no professional football tonight, it’s obvious what’s going to dominate the ratings – WWE RAW!

We’re less than a week away from the Royal Rumble, and to me, this feels immensely like Wrestlemania Season.

Will we get the announcement of another 2011 entrant into the WWE Hall Of Fame.  We’re getting Edge vs The Miz in a battle of the World Champions.

What else is in store?  Let’s find out!

The show starts off with Edge, and Smackdown gets the closest thing it’ll get all night to a recap, with the announcers talking about how Edge squared off with Justin Gabriel on Friday’s Smackdown.  For more on how that went down, I have a full GuysNation article about it.

Edge gets on the mic and says he doesn’t like to wait – at the grocery store, at the airpor, or for matches.  What are the odds that The Miz is backstage, dressed and ready for the match?  It would be convenient for Edge if he was, and that seems to be what Smackdown’s champion is hoping for… but it’s General Manager time.  Anonymous, that is.  And the email SAAAAYS….

The match between Edge and The Miz is going to wait until later in the show, but there is going to be an exhibition… and if any of the three guys involved can eliminate Edge, that guy gets #40 in Sunday’s Royal Rumble.  Sweet, WWE takes an interesting concept and tries to run with it!

Swagger rushes the ring, gets SPEARED.  Drew McIntyre runs in but gets knocked down.  Tyson Kidd attacks from the apron, then dives into the ring, only to get powerslammed and then thrown over the top rope.  Drew McIntyre tries to eliminate Edge, but that doesn’t work out.  Jack Swagger tries… and HE gets eliminated.  Then Drew McIntyre tries to hit the Future Shock double-arm DDT, but that doesn’t work either, and Edge eliminates him.

With his juices flowing from the “exhibition”, Edge gets the mic and tells the fans he’s going to smash the laptop.  Of course Michael Cole protects the general manager’s laptop, getting in between it and Edge, and before Edge can do anything about it… NEXUS shows up.

Punk gets on the mic, sporting a Sonic The Hedgehog haircut, and he talks about how the strong survive because they continually adapt and evolve.  Nexus has evolved and expanded.  The newest member is Mason Ryan, he is from Cardiff Wales, and there’s no indication that he’s related to Batista at all.  Now knowing that he’s British, when you look at him, are you seeing a mix of Batista and Wade Barrett?

The leader of Nexus reaffirms the fact that all five members of the group are dedicated to ensuring CM Punk wins the Royal Rumble.

Smackdown’s version of the group, The Corre, is not only in attendance, but they come down to the ring.  Anyone else think that they’re just wanting a meeting to discuss who designed and produced the new Straight Edge Lightning Bolt Nexus shirt?  Clearly The Corre is having issues getting a tshirt of their own for their new little group.

Zeke Jackson gets on the mic and says that The Corre’s focus in the Royal Rumble is going to be to ensure CM Punk doesn’t win the 40-Man Over The Top Match.

Mason Ryan steps in between Zeke and Punk and before tensions can bubble over, the Anonymous GM chimes in, and apparently tonight there will be a match between CM Punk and Wade Barrett.  At stake:  the loser and his entire faction will be removed from the list of competitors for the Royal Rumble.

Is anyone else thinking that with 40 spots in the Rumble, WWE can’t afford to remove those four (or FIVE) guys from the combatants, especially given how much time they’ve invested in them over the past six months (or more)?!

Switching things up a little bit, I know this goes off WWE’s script a bit…

Tag Match – John Morrison & Mark Henry vs Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio

I have to say that Sheamus is one of the least likely pairings for a long-term tag team combination, but I could totally see these guys being on an old-school Survivor Series team together.  Something about “Royalty”.  Maybe include William Regal and Macho King Randy Savage or King Harley Race.

Back to reality, it’s Alberto Del Rio vs John Morrison to start things off, and is anyone else thinking that three years from now, we could see Morrison vs Alberto Del Rio on a big time pay per view with a World Championship on the line?  Once Triple H, Undertaker, Rey Mysterio and Kane are gone, they’re going to need to expand their horizons.

Mark Henry finally gets into the match after Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio work their magic, and inexplicably Mark Henry looks like a monster, taking care of business until Sheamus kicks him in the head.  John Morrison clears the ring of Sheamus for his team, but Alberto Del Rio gets involved again and locks on the cross arm breaker submission on Mark Henry, getting a submission victory.

Outcome – Alberto Del Rio picks up the win for his team when Mark Henry taps out.

If you have this match on DVR, you could probably fast forward until the last little bit, assuming you’re trying to get through the show with limited time like I am.  I didn’t fast forward, but if I wasn’t writing this article, I would’ve.

And hey, at least Alberto Del Rio didn’t face R-Truth again!

Diva’s Championship Match – Melina vs Natalya (c)

I have a habit of using Diva’s matches to catch up on writing parts of this article for which I have only jotted down some notes, so I didn’t see all of it, but what I did see looked fairly decent.  They actually looked like they were working a bit stiff with one another.

In one of the rougher spots I saw, it actually looked like Melina got DUMPED right on her head.

Outcome – Natalya blocks a legdrop to the abdomen, holds on and turns it into the Sharpshooter, bending Melina over backwards and getting Melina to tap out in a very contorted position.  (Insert off-color joke about contorting Melina into a head over heels position here)

After the match during Natalya’s celebration, LayCool shows up and announces that on Sunday, at Royal Rumble, Natalya is going to have to defend the Diva’s Championship against LayCool.  They didn’t mention WHICH member of LayCool gets the match, only that they get their return rematch.  Could… be… a setup.

Backstage, Punk’s NEXUS is talking about how they’re going to have to find a way to ensure that CM Punk beats Wade Barrett later tonight so they don’t lose their spots in the Rumble.  CM Punk apparently spots the negative energy in the group and gives them a little pep-talk.  They question what will happen if Punk draws the #1 spot and they don’t come out to the ring until later.  He tells them not to worry about hypotheticals, and yet they question whether or not John Cena is going to let him have a fair shake later in the night when Punk faces Wade Barrett.  Punk says he’s the better man, so that’s not an issue either.

Next segment, John Cena shows up and reaffirms that he’ll be a fair referee in the main event, and as he talks about how he’ll eliminate the members of Nexus or Corre, either way… but then The Miz shows up and tells Cena that he better consider his options if he DOES win the Royal Rumble.  Cena tells The Miz that the odds of The Miz walking out of his match with Randy Orton with the belt still in his possession is very slim… and he doubts The Miz will make it to Wrestlemania at all.  Cena then tells them they smell like RAW sewage (though he didn’t clarify whether Great Khali and Umaga were members of the RAW roster at the time the sewage was expelled), and they needed to go find a shower.

Looks as though the match between The Miz and Edge is up next based on the fact that The Miz’s theme song hits and he’s wearing his ring attire instead of a suit.  I’m a master detective of the obvious.

Main Event #1 – Edge vs The Miz (with Alex Riley)

Hour number two gets started, no gold is on the line but these are the “top two guys in the company”.

Anyone want to bet we’ll be seeing either Dolph Ziggler or Randy Orton?

Wow, I barely typed that all out before Dolph Ziggler’s music hits and he walks out from the back wearing street clothes, and I’m guessing he’ll be on commentary.  So now what about Randy Orton?  Could his music hit before the…. bell.  Nevermind, it just rung.

Did anyone else laugh when Dolph Ziggler said that The Miz was “just a little bit ‘doughier’ than I am”?

Am I the only one who got a not-so-good shivver when Dolph Ziggler started talking about how he’s not a “backdoor” guy, and how he’s “front door” only, and that he wants to look them right in the face?  Ugh……  Sooooo much better if he were dating Kaitlyn instead of Vickie.

Is anyone else really enjoying how good Alex Riley is emerging as a manager / “second” outside the ring?  Twice in this match he helped The Miz avoid something by pulling him out of the way.

Dolph Ziggler apparently is going into the Rumble match with Edge and plans to use a strategy where he doesn’t target Edge’s bruised ribs because he wants to beat him in a well-rounded way. For his first attempt at gaining a World Title, Dolph Ziggler should probably be thinking about doing whatever is necessary to get the job done.

Outcome – Dolph Ziggler runs into the ring and takes out Edge with the Zig-Zag, but Randy Orton shows up with a ton of energy and starts tearing at the heel trio.

Orton hits the RKO on everyone except for The Miz, who sneaks up behind Orton and hits him with the briefcase.

What are the odds that Smackdown is going to feature The Miz & Alex Riley & Dolph Ziggler vs Rated-RKO?  That’s what I would book to happen… and I’m just waiting for the anonymous GM, who apparently has some control over the Smackdown folks given Teddy Long is injured.

I suppose Vickie Guerrero could always make that match… which I anticipate before the night is over.

Best of RAW 2010… actually looks really good.  The start of Nexus.  Bret Hart showing up.  Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart hugging.  Shawn Michaels retiring.  Batista quitting.  Countless interesting RKO’s.  Nexus beating legends.  I don’t usually find those things interesting (because I’ve seen all of those episodes of RAW), but this time might be different.

Backstage, Wade Barrett talks about the fact that The Corre doesn’t have a central figure because he learned through experience with Nexus that pushing one person’s aspirations ahead of the rest of the group is counter productive.

Match – Ted DiBiase & Maryse & Alicia Fox vs “American Dragon” Daniel Bryan Danielson & The Bella Twins

Holy Toledo, I believe the Bella Twins lost their ring attire and have decided to wear their leopard print bra & panties to the ring.

If Ted DiBiase is desperate to win a match, why does he continue to go against Daniel Bryan, who clearly has his number inside the ring?  Some of their matches have been shorter than three minute in length.  Maybe those matches were inspired by his “timing” out of the ring with Maryse.

Outcome – Maryse gets the win for her team as one of the Bella Twins gets pinned with a roll-up from behind while distracted by some Bella-On-Dragon action outside the ring.

I would just like to note, for the record, that this is the first time in a while that Maryse has wrestled a match in which she’s showing cleavage…. and it’s also the first time in a while that she has WON a match.  Coincidence?  Not even close.

Using that trend to my advantage, if I got to design her outfits, Maryse could make a run at a World Championship.  And I’m guessing that if any of my male readers had a World Championship, they’d gladly let Maryse pin them.

And it probably wouldn’t take three minutes.

Is it just me, or is Michael Tarver EVERYWHERE backstage?  Any chance he’s actually the Anonymous General Manager?  Random thought, I realize that, and there are probably tons of times people can identify which show that he was on screen when the GM spoke up… but it could be an interesting twist.  A terrible twist, but there would be some interesting aspects to it… which is true no matter who they pick.  Except for Bret Hart, because the Anonymous GM already said he didn’t like Bret Hart, so that wouldn’t make a ton of sense.

Whoa, “American Dragon” making out with Gail Kim backstage?  The Bella Twins were definitely not happy about that, and isn’t it SUPER ironic that the storyline involves Bryan feeling SORRY for the Bella Twins because they don’t have anything else to do lately with the lack of guest hosts?  Gail Kim has possibly been used a handful of times on television in ANY role in those “6 months” during which Bryan and Gail have apparently been “dating”.  Works for me, though.  I like Gail Kim being involved on television.

It’s official someone booked Ziggler & The Miz to face Rated-RKO on Smackdown.  They could’ve made an interesting little backstage segment… but no such luck.

Tag Team Match – Kozlov & Santino vs Nexus (Harris & McGillicutty)

Starting things off, Kozlov is looking sharper inside the ring than he did in previous weeks.  Getting in-ring time does a wrestler good.

Husky Harris gets the offensive with Santino in the ring, and his style actually reminds me of a (very) overweight version of Randy Orton.  Think about that the next time you see a Husky Harris match.  Especially with the rear head lock on the mat, and the boot to the head of the downed opponent.  The shoulder/back tattoos help a bit too.

Outcome – In a bit of a pleasant surprise, Harris and McGillicutty get the win after Harris hits some sort of move where he’s standing next to Santino, head in hand, and dives backwards (a bit the opposite of the RKO)

Maybe it’s just me, but this match went a long way in proving that CM Punk’s NEXUS might be more evolved than the original version, as this version seems like it’s actually capable of being involved in just the angle involving the leader.  I’d love to see Harris and McGillicutty work themselves into a tag title feud with Santi-Koz.  I don’t know about David Otunga being involved in much of anything, but I could enjoy Mason Ryan vs Daniel Bryan… if for no other reason than it would probably tongue-tie the announcers a bit and they MIGHT have to start calling him American Dragon…. which they should be using anyway, now that he’s the UNITED STATES CHAMPION!  Is there a more appropriate time to use that nickname than now?!

Nexus waits in the ring and introduces CM Punk, and now I don’t even have to look at the clock, I already know that it’s time for the main event!

Main Event # 2 – CM Punk vs Wade Barrett

Just a reminder, the losing individual is removed from the Royal Rumble along with his entire team.

Speaking of entire teams, John Cena ejects Nexus from ringside.  All things being equal, John Cena ejects The Corre from ringside as well.

Something tells me that The Corre is getting its fifth member during the main event… and with Michael Tarver being backstage… I fear it’s going to be him.

Right from the start, John Cena shoves CM Punk backwards, then smacks the taste out of Wade Barrett’s mouth… and NOW things can get started.

Punk tells Cena that on Sunday, he’s going to throw Cena out of the ring… so Cena again abuses his power and throws Punk out of the ring.

In an odd display, John Cena leaves the ring during the match to sign autographs of guys in the front row… and that’s not the odd part.  The odd part is that noted cheater, Wade Barrett, waits for John Cena to get back into the ring so the match can continue… instead of using the time to illegally choke Punk.

Outcome – John Cena disqualifies both CM Punk and Wade Barrett for too much use of profanity on a PG show.

The Anonymous General Manager speaks up and says that BOTH The Corre AND Nexus are going to be in the Royal Rumble, and then makes John Cena get into the ring to apologize to Punk and Barrett for his excessive abuse of power.  If John doesn’t…. he won’t be in the Royal Rumble.  So Cena gets into the ring and apologizes to both of the Nexus leaders (past and present), and then Cena attacks Barrett and Punk.

Of course, as you could expect, The Corre and Nexus both show up, John Cena is outside the ring, and before Cena gets attacked, the ring gets super full of guys who are going to be competing in the Royal Rumble.  Happily, I can note that Yoshi Tatsu was kicking the hell out of everyone he saw without being retaliated upon.  I’m a big fan of Yoshi Tatsu getting the opportunity to show his talents… can you tell?

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Final questions: