As both Cena and Rock’s arms were raised in victory at this Sundays Royal Rumble I couldn’t help but it was a sad indictment of how WWE treats its younger talents.
There was a long list of wrestlers in that Rumble who have shown enough throughout the year to have earned the right to win the Rumble. Typically though they went with Cena to win again. A man who in all likelihood would have gone into other title main event if he hasn’t have soon this so in the end we have gained nothing from this.
Despite the fact that WWE has spent the best part of the last few years trying to creature new stars with the likes of Ryback, Antonio Cesaro, Wade Barrett and Dolph Ziggler to name a few. Every time Wrestlemania rolls around they insist on bringing back stars from the past.
This year looks like out will be no different. The Rock has back after ten years and expects to be handed the WWE title. Chris Jericho shows up unexpectedly at the Rumble, presumably as he has some time free from touring with Fozzy. Furthermore, Brock Lesnar will probably be facing Triple H at the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’
While it’s great to see great to see all these talents again, I can’t help but feel that most are only motivated by the big money payout they get from Wrestlemania. It’s not as if they haven’t already achieved enough within the company or had their Wrestlemania moment.
What they are doing though is taking away a spot on the biggest show of the year from many of the wrestlers I’ve mentioned above. The same wrestlers that have not only been wrestling pretty much every night of the year, but have been dreaming of having their moment at ‘Grandest Stage of them All’
If the WWE is really committed to making new stars then they need to start putting faith in them to perform at Wrestlemania. If it really is the platform that can define a wrestlers career then give some of the younger, hungrier talents the chance to make themselves stars.
When it comes right down to it, this is a business and they’ll always being looking to make money now rather than investing in the future.
Vickie Guerrero and Paul Heyman segment
These two come out together as a show unity against The Rock’s actions last week. Forgive me but I thought Rock was facing CM Punk at the Rumble so why are WWE spending their time trying to garner heat on Guerrero and Heyman when they should be with Punk. Also their so embarrassed by what happened last week that their going to show you it again, why would you do that?
Randy Orton def. Antonio Cesaro
Decent match to start off the show. As it was the first match of the Beat the Clock challenge it was always unlikely that either were going to win it. However, they could have at least looked like they were trying to win it as quickly as possible.
Big Show def. Zack Ryder
Not sure exactly what happened in this match apart from the K.O. Punch because all we were shown was Brad Maddox interrupting Cole and Lawler on commentary.
We didn’t really learn much from the match either. Big Show is still angry and Ryder is still getting buried by everyone who doesn’t appear on Superstars.
Ryback def. Heath Slater
No surprises here as Ryback picked up an easy win. Afterwards he stated his intentions to win the Royal Rumble, despite the big push he’s received in such a short time in WWE I don’t expect them to go as far as having him win the match itself. Probably more likely that he will go into Wrestlemania feuding with The Shield.
For some reason despite both of these competitors being in the Rumble this was not a Beat the Clock challenge match. Of course the match finished extremely quickly
CM Punk Promo
Another great promo from CM Punk. What also made this promo so good was that even if you don’t like Punk, he makes it hard for you to disagree with him as everything he says is true. He has had to work harder than anyone else to get to where he is now and has added prestige and importance back to the title that was lacking before his reign.
Dolph Ziggler def. The Miz
For me this was the best match of the night. Plenty of back and forth action with the pace switching
Unlike Del Rio, Miz’s face turn isn’t going quite as smoothly. More people were chanting for Ziggler throughout the match. Although I think giving Miz the figure-four leglock is helping getting reaction from the crowd, it has such a strong connection with Ric Flair that he’s just going to look a poor man’s Nature Boy.
Hopefully, this will be the kick start that Miz needs. He’s been languishing in the mid-card ever since he main-evented Wrestlmania and looks seemingly content with his position since then.
Anger Management Graduation
Although I get annoyed every time they give Kane these comedic situations that make him look soft and weak, it’s impossible not to enjoy his chemistry with Daniel Bryan, especially when Dr Shelby is involved. The segment may have seen pretty dumb but having three hours of serious programming can become monotonous so adding humour does help. Anyone whose seen the new Les Miserables movie will understand the importance of Sacha Baron Cohen in the film.
I’m also pretty sure that you don’t ‘graduate’ and get a diploma for completing an anger management course. If you do then it makes an absolute mockery of my Journalism degree. I also have no idea why ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ was being played beforehand, it’s patriotic British piece of music which doesn’t have anything to do with graduations or the USA.
The Rock Promo
Despite sucking up to the people yet again this actually turned out to be one of his best promos in recent years. Not only did he manage to refrain from making cheesy, immature jokes but also managed to stay on topic and talk about what actually matters, the WWE Championship. The Shield later came out and beat up The Rock creating awkward for the moment for the next family get together for him and Roman Reigns. They were banned from ringside at the Rumble to add extra jeopardy for Punk, however Heyman has some with Maddox.
Sheamus v Wade Barrett, draw?
As always between these it was another good solid wrestling match.
It’s always a shame when a good match gets spoilt by run-ins, but in this case it does add a little something extra to the Royal Rumble match as Orton and especially Sheamus will be looking to get revenge, or maybe not actually after Ziggler found out he could only choose between entering at number 1 or 2. However, that could have just been a rule change by Vickie to get back at ‘Ziggy’.
Alberto Del Rio def. Tensai
Yet another squash match, I think it’s time WWE just gave up on Tensai and either repackage him as Albert again or just get rid of him. I’m sure he would prefer to go back Japan and be a main event star again.
The only thing of note that caught my eye during the match was that Del Rio somehow managed to miss the enormous target that is Al-er Tensai sorry from point blank range having come the second rope.
I had my reservations of how a rich, aristocratic figure like Del Rio’s could make the transition to a babyface so quickly, but judging by the audience participation with his Spanish ten-count it seems to be working very well so far.
John Cena segment
As usual for a go-home before the Royal Rumble it finished in predictable fashion with most of the locker room coming out, claiming they were going to win on Sunday and sparking a massive brawl. The only time of the year you’ll see JTG, Yoshi Tatsu and Michael McGillicutty in the final segment of Raw. I was surprised they gave Prime Time Players an entrance by themselves and then someone like Ryback got lost within the rest of the locker room when they came out.
Beforehand of course we had to listen to Cena once again try his hardest to be funny. Most of his jokes ending with nothing than an embarrassed chuckle. Like he has any idea what a normal Sunday is for us, our lives compared are very different I’m sure, when he gets a rare day at home he probably sleeps through most it.
WWE once again blew the big ending to their much hyped first Smackdown of the year. When they revealed that Alberto Del Rio would be winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Big Show on the taped show. Which makes me wonder why they do this?
I for one hate the idea of watching a show knowing what’s going to happen it takes away of the excitement and anticipation. I can’t understand why anybody watches soaps, it’s just impossible to buy a TV guide that shows that doesn’t reveal all the stories and plot twists for the coming week. That we can be thankful the WWE doesn’t do.
The WWE product prides itself on the notion that ‘Anything can happen in the WWE’ but that disappears when the viewers of what is already a taped programme know what is going to happen. The reason why Raw is still the flagship show is because it is live and has that sense of unpredictability that means the show is as real and as authentic as a wrestling/entertainment show possibly can be.
Yes, the dirts sheets do warn us by putting ‘SPOILER’ being any story that will tell us what happens on the show. But I’m only human, and a bored and impatient one at that, so I can’t stare at the headline without resisting the temptation to click on it myself.
Revealing the result of a taped match beforehand has worked out well for them in the past of course. No one will forget the night Tony Schiavone was told to reveal that Mankind was going to win the then WWF Championship. At which point around 600,000 people changed the channel from Nitro to RAW.
As for the episode of Smackdown in question it did scored a rating of 2.20 which is a big improvement on the 1.80 from the week before. However, this episode was advertised a lot more than normal as it was the first of the year and also featured The Rock’s first appearance on the show in ten years, so that would have affected the figures.
It seems that all networks care about about the ratings. If your show isn’t delivering the goods then you can be replaced. By announcing the something big is going major is going to happen before the show is aired is one way of guaranteeing that casual viewers will tune in. I expect WWE to carry on spoiling things regardless of our opinion.
The entire segment was entirely dedicated to trying to endear Del Rio to the crowd, well the Hispanic demographic at least. They gone so far as to not even bother with subtlety anymore. Instead of having Del Rio win the fans support by fighting the moral cause, they are deliberately mentioning the exact reasons why they need to turn him face in order to have a marketable Mexican star.
Unfortunately for him, the audience seem to be far more interested by Ricardo Rodriguez. Might be a little embarrassing for him that they need to use his stooge to help elevate him to his level of popularity.
Wade Barrett def. Randy Orton
This time last year this rivalry was really starting to get going and it was a shame they never got to bring it to a big finish due to injuries to both competitors. I wouldn’t mind them going face-to-face with one another at Wrestlemania for the Intercontinental. It would be a relief to see Orton get a decent, well-promoted match before the event as well for a change. He’s had a few that that have under radar for the last few years.
Kane def. Damien Sandow & Daniel Bryan def. Cody Rhodes
Two very short, almost pointless matches in which Team Hell No scored both the victories. Considering that WWE decided not to bring in many old faces from the last twenty years of the show suggested that they were going to concentrate on the the younger talent and there is no better example of the future of the company than within this storyline, minus Kane obviously. So to have such short matches defeated the object completely and in a predictable move the decided to show video packages of rubbish gimmicks, great talkers and bizarrely Bob Barkers forgettable appearance as guest host.
Mick Foley – HOF Announcement
Now it was time for the worst kept secret of the show. I really wish WWE would try harder to keep announcements like this secret as I miss the anticipation of finding out who’s going to get such a huge honour.
Congratulations have to go to Mick Foley, he certainly deserves his place within the WWE Hall of Fame for what he’s put his body through and the major role he played in the Monday Night Wars. For this reason they could have had the decency to allow him some time to say thank you and whatever he wanted to say before having The Shield come out and ruin his moment. The interference didn’t even lead to a match later on so it all seemed pretty much like having them run-in for the sake of it.
The re-ignition of the Foley-Ambrose feud we where teased with nearly a year ago would also not gone amiss.
CM Punk def. Brodus Clay
Brodus Clay has to thank Punk for this one. A match against the WWE Champion on the 20th anniversary of Raw. Just when his character seems to get pushed further and further down the card. Chances are he would never have made the show last week before CM Punk dropped another Pipe-Bomb about the Funkasaurus.
Even though he was allowed to display what he is capable of during the small amount of time he was given to beat down Punk. He was not only inevitably beaten by Punk but forced to submit to the Anaconda Vice, which although is painful looking move, doesn’t usually make bigger wrestlers look that tough when they tap out so quickly at least.
Maybe this should have been an occasion where Clay should have been so angry that he forewent the dancing and concentrated on dominating his opponent as way of reminding the fans that, like Sheamus, he maybe be a fun-loving guy, he can be a monster too.
3MB def. Sheamus
Although short I enjoyed this match as it demonstrated that although neither of them will win the Rumble, 3MB can be a force to be reckoned with. They’ve been nothing more than a joke since they were formed so it’s a positive step to them finally allowing their talents to be shown.
The match didn’t do Sheamus any harm because in real life no-one would be able to defeat three men at once and he did get to show why he won the event last year.
MizTV with Ric Flair
An utterly pointless segment involving horrible awkward stilted conversation between to people who looked like they haven’t even seen the script beforehand, probably written and re-written again before the show.
The crowd seemed just as bewildered as to why any of what was happening in front of them was happening. There’s no connection between the two, Miz didn’t seem to have any motive for inviting him onto the show and unless their planning on helping Miz’s failing face run by having Flair by his side then there never was.
John Cena def. Dolph Ziggler
This match saved the show from being completely forgettable. There was nothing outstanding about the match but apart from Barrett v Orton you would be forgiven for forgetting this was wrestling show. But still it was a solid and entertaining bout.
I’m still not sold on the idea of having Big E Langston as Ziggler’s bodyguard. There were several instances when Cena clearly had the match won if it wasn’t for Langston’s help. While I know this all staged stuff to make the match more back and forth it doesn’t make the ‘Show Off’ look very strong when he has to be saved every five minutes.
If you turned up to your favourite bands concert and they only played to songs you’d be pissed off. So I don’t know why they bothered hyping up such an event form ‘The Great One’ when he did just that and same amount of chords in the process. He didn’t even do a song about Punk like he did when feuded with Cena. Instead he just called The Straight Edge Superstar out and they traded punches outside the ring.
Maybe this a good thing. If he just made fun of Punk through a song it would have been too similar to this time last year with this Cena. Every feud needs to feel different in order to keep us interested and hopefully by this rivalry more physical than verbal is an exciting way to go.
To look at him you would have that he was some kind of love-child of John Cena and Randy Orton – sorry for that image – with the jeans and the sleeve tattoos, but there is no one on the roster that he resembles more than CM Punk.
In the ring he seems to have taken a page out of CM Punks book, which is a wise move considering they are of a similar size, by utilising many different types of kicks and knees strikes. As seems to be the trend nowadays he like many other wrestlers seems to using a submission maneuver as a finishing move, with his move of choice being an Inside toehold leglock that he calls ‘The 13th Step’ is a unique move that although has been used before by Ron Fuller, I have never seen before. His other finishing move of choice, which I have yet to see him use on NXT is the sunset driver he calls the MK Ultra which looks like an incredibly devastating move that I’m surprised he hasn’t brought to WWE.
Furthermore, much like Punk, Graves has covered his body in tattoo’s that have great significance in his life. If they want Graves to make a connection with the WWE Universe, good or bad, I would suggest having Graves explain the meaning of his ink on TV to help us understand his background and motives for the way he acts.
If they were are to bring him up to the main roster I think it would be a good idea to continue with the team he has formed with Jake Carter, son of Vader, as they seem to have formed a decent pairing. The angle of being your ‘Girlfriends Favourite’ that Carter uses may be something they could use for the team. With Carters ‘pretty boy’ look and Graves ‘rugged’ appeal they could get a lot of female fans attention and get under the skin of the male fans at the same time.
However, they seem to be pushing him as a singles competitor after he attacked Seth Rollins during his interview with JR recently. As much as I am intrigued by Graves I don’t really know what he has done to receive a program with the NXT champion as of yet. He’s defeated a few jobbers but nothing that would justify him presumably earning a title shot in the near future.
It took a lot of hard work and luck for CM Punk just to make it to WWE television, so for someone who doesn’t come with the hype and excitement surrounding him he’s going to have to show something pretty special for creative to want to work with him.
John Cena def. Dolph Ziggler
This was another solid match between the two. The idea of trying to turn Ziggler into a sure fire main-eventer seems to be paying off. I’m a little concerned that the introduction of Big E Langston is taking some of the attention off him and just hope that the original goal of program isn’t going to get lost.
Now that Ziggler has defended his Money In The Bank and beaten Cena in the process I don’t really see what his motivation is to be still feuding with him. It seems that he is still bothering with Cena because his new girlfriend holds a grudge against Cena. I just think that having yet another woman boss the ‘Show Off’ around again makes him look a bit weak.
Team Rhodes Scholars def. Team Hell No
Delighted to see Rhodes and Sandow get another win over Hell No, hopefully they’ll get another title shot at the Rumble. They are a far more organic tag team and having them as the representatives of the division ill give it more legitimacy rather than Hell No who were only put together for the sake of a storyline.
I’m a bit confused with the relationship between Daniel Bryan and Kane. A couple of weeks ago we were being told that they had settled all of their issues and were now getting along, however they’ve been arguing just as much on every show since.
Randy Orton def. Heath Slater
This squash match served one purpose and that was to hype Orton’s participation in this years Royal Rumble.
Every time Randy wrestles it seems to be a reminder that he is actually here. The guy desperately needs and wants to a heel again. He’s far better as a bad guy and it almost seems that WWE haven’t had anything for him for about two years and he just disappears into the abyss much like CM Punk was two years ago.
Wade Barrett def. Santino Marella
I’m not quite sure what the objective was by having Ricky Steamboat accompany Marella to ringside, I know he’s one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time but it seemed pretty random. Hopefully this is WWE laying the foundations for a Wrestlemania storyline.
Sheamus def. Jinder Mahal
Another squash match to highlight how dangerous the winner of the previous Rumble is. As for 3MB, this was their third loss in as many weeks on Raw. I’m really worried what looked like a great opportunity for three young, promising wrestler sis turning to be just another vehicle for them to become jobbers.
I enjoyed the antics of Sheamus as he forced Mahal to put his hands on his arse and then hearing Cole making fun of the way he pronounces the ‘R’ so much. We do that in this part of the world because there is an ‘R’ in it, that’s why.
Antonio Cesaro def. The Great Khali
It’s a sad state of affairs when the announce team are more entertaining than the actual that they supposed to be commentating on. This was the case here when The Miz joined Cole and ‘The King’ at ringside. Cesaro is an incredible performer who can have great match for almost everyone, however, the proverbial mop would be easier to carry through a wrestling than Khali.
After watching Khali stumble around the ring for several minutes again we finally got to only talking point, Cesaro’s unbelievable demonstration of strength by lifting Khali to carry out the neutraliser. I talk about how he seems to out do himself every week but after Khali there isn’t anyone heavier, he’ll have to start wrestling heavier inanimate objects, still it’s better than Khali.
CM Punk def. Ryback
This was another good match, the result was never beyond doubt but that didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the bout. I was kind of surprised that the match actually happened, I presumed that Punk would try and worm his way out of the match, but this rivalry needed a big blow-off seen as their match at TLC.
I’m struggling to think of a time in which Ryback has had a PPV match in which there he hasn’t competed in a gimmick match. I don’t know whether WWE are reluctant to let him have traditional wrestling match that lasts longer than a couple of minutes. Maybe their worried like when Goldberg started in WCW that long matches would expose some his weaknesses. I think giving him the opportunity to have 4 or 5 star one-on-one wrestling match would help to make him a more viable WWE Champion in the future.
Big Show def. Kofi Kingston
What was the point? Yeah Big Show looks big and powerful because of the manner of the win, but why spend all this time hyping Kingston as being reborn and more aggressive f you’re going to have him lose in less than ten seconds. It defeats the object and helps no-one.
CM Punk & The Rock Promo
Whenever Punk promises more pipe-bombs, it’s is a sure-fire way of getting me excited, I miss the more risqué CM Punk that would push the boundaries of what you can and can’t say on TV. That is what he did, to a point anyway, standing up for underrated wrestlers like Tyson Kidd and ridiculing the ridiculousness of Brodus Clay’s gimmick.
But that is what Punk can do. He make you go ‘ooooh’ and not have to do it by skirting round the subject by making childlike jokes about people genitalia and dress sense. That is what The Rock does. Te most successful superstars learn to change their character over time so that it doesn’t become stale. Rock hasn’t done that. Eight years of being away from the company have shown that he is completely out of touch with what fans want from their superstars. He didn’t get the crowd chanting ‘Cookie Puss’ half as much as I think he probably wanted to, it certainly wasn’t trending on Twitter anyway.
Since first appearing on NXT television Kruger has reinvented himself from the aristocratic, sash wearing gimmick that was like an African Alberto Del Rio gimmick. Probably a wise move as I didn’t get the sense that he was really into the gimmick, probably a persona that was given to him when he first came to FCW.
But since then he has changed his persona to that of an African poacher that sees his enemies as trophies that he is looking to collect. He certainly has a different look to anyone else on the roster right now which will work in his favour now that he dons a black tank top and a pair khaki trousers to the ring.
This has definitely upped my interest in the character. Especially after those extremely creepy promos were aired on NXT introducing the new gimmick. The great use of camera angles from underneath his chin, although simple, are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I don’t what it is about his laugh and use of childlike language that also makes him that seem that little more deranged.
In the ring he tends to use moves that you would associate with high fliers such as cross body’s, diving elbow drop and bulldog’s. I have no problems with these moves it’s just that they don’t really fit the character of a poacher. He should a more vicious and clinical moveset. The twisting facebuster he uses as his finisher called the ‘Krugers end’ is a step in the right direction. I think the style Randy Orton adopts should be the blueprint for the way he wrestles
Given that his new gimmick sees him wanting to claim his opponents as ‘trophies’ there is quite a bit they could do with him on the main roster. For example, if he wants prizes he could go after some of the larger wrestlers such as Brodus Clay, Ryback, Khali, not that I want to see the latter on TV at all. Of course, if they turned face he could feud with the likes Big Show and Tensai.
It’s also worth noting that he’s already 33 years old, so if WWE don’t see something that they feel they can put on TV very soon then it will be unlikely that we will ever see Leo Kruger on one of the main rosters at all.
As December 2012 he has started to appear on Raw live events working with Jack Swagger. I wouldn’t read too much into who he’s working with but hopefully this means that WWE officials are considering bringing him up to one of the main rosters.