RAW opens with a video package outlying the events leading to the fight between Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon tonight.. Also included in the package is the lead up to John Cena v CM Punk as this evening’s main event.
Vince is the first one out to the ring tonight, walking down the ramp with crutches doing a horrible job of acting like he needs them. McMahon says that everyone knows he likes “to do things in a big way” and that RAW needs “something big every week” until Wrestlemania. McMahon wants to open the show with his fight against Paul Heyman. Heyman heads out looking sharp in some athletic gear. Heyman cuts a classic promo, nothing that those members of the audience who have children will have “a story (they’re) going to be able to tell them time and again” because “tonight there is a one legged man in an ass-kicking contest.” Heyman says he’s been looking forward to this fight his whole life, and notes that McMahon has as much of a chance against him “as Tony Romo does of leading the Cowboy’s to the Super Bowl.”
Paul Heyman enters the ring and tackles Vince McMahon, grabbing one of McMahon’s crutches and going to town on him with it as the crowd chants “ECW!” Heyman wails on McMahon’s injured hip with the crutch until Vince McMahon catches the crutch and turns things around. Momentum starts to swing Vince’s way until Brock Lesnar’s music hits, and out comes the former UFC star.
Brock Lesnar makes his way to the ring and seems to have Vince McMahon cornered before Triple H’s music hits and, as Pat Patterson might say, the crowd goes “banana.” Triple H takes his sweet time making it to the ring, but the ridiculousness of this can be overlooked by the classic brawl that Triple H and Lesnar engage in. The duo have an exciting back and forth war in which Brock Lesnar is actually bloodied. Triple H manages to drive Lesnar out of the ring, but Lesnar grins at Triple H as he heads to the back
A quick cut then to King and Cole at ringside, who are asking for fans to Tout their thoughts about the brawl that opened the show.
Following the commercial break, Dolph Ziggler is in the ring with Big E Smallz (that is to say, AJ Lee and Big E Langston). Poor Ziggler actually received a jobber entrance in this match against Ryback. Ryback draws some big Goldberg chants from the Dallas crowd, and doesn’t help any by flashing his tongue in a classic Goldberg impression. The match is solid, and the finish comes when Ryback knocks Big E Langston off the apron, then pins Dolph with the Shellshock.
Dolph Ziggler continues to pile up losses in the New Year, which will do nothing to help him come across as a legit threat when his time to cash in his Money in the Bank contract comes around.
Following a commercial break, CM Punk’s music hits, and the former WWE Champ heads to the ring... and then we cut to more commercials.
Yes, the return from ad-break lasted about twenty seconds before it cut to yet another break.
Back from the second set of commercials, and CM Punk’s on the mic. Punk says a whole lot of words without actually saying anything, but the promo is simply a very transparent attempt to set up a possible Punk/Undertaker bout for Wrestlemania. Punk declares himself “the most important superstar of today’s era or eras gone past,” then calls himself God and leaves for the back. You know, same old stuff.
Next, Donald Trump is announced as the next celebrity inductee to the WWE Hall of Fame.They make an excellent case for Trump’s induction, citing his relationship with the company over the years.
The Great Khali then heads to the ring to take on Mark Henry in a match which is far too long, even though it clocked in at under three minutes. The Great Khali needs to be given credit for being some sort of time-wizard, because any moment he’s around feels like an eternity.
Miz TV follows one more Fandango promo, declaring that he will finally make his in-ring debut this Friday on Smackdown.
Alberto Del Rio makes his way to the ring to chat with Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger. Zeb gets on the mic and says he had been looking forward to talking to Glenn Beck, but Del Rio will do. “Fellow citizens, fellow patriots, fellow Americans, we have a problem in this country,” Zeb begins, then proceeds to rage over immigrants for a spell. Zeb then turns to Alberto Del Rio and asks: “What is wrong with you? What is wrong with your people?”
Alberto Del Rio obviously takes offense to the phrasing, then says that America is the greatest country on Earth because it belongs to everyone.
To put it plainly, the entire segment was some awkward television, which was even more awkward to share with the WWE Universe on Twitter. Apparently WWE Creative felt that the WWE Universe wasn’t quite divided enough, so it needed a quick shot of politics to drive fans apart.
Randy Orton takes on Antonio Cesaro following that uncomfortable segment. Orton picks up the win over the United States Champion with, you guessed it, an RKO OUTTA NOWHERE! It’s worth revelling in the wrestling logic that while Zeb and Swagger rage over Del Rio, Antonio Cesaro’s character is an immigrant who openly mocks Americans, and yet he draws no attention from Colter or Swagger. We the people, indeed.
Cut backstage to Team Hell No. Daniel Bryan notes that Randy Orton looked impressive in his match tonight, then tells Kane that they need to let bygones be bygones. Kane says they have to concentrate, as they have the Prime Time Players tonight. Bryan says he can beat the PTP blindfolded. Kane says he can do it with one hand tied behind his back. Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox (Maddox declaring them “Team Brickie” before anyone else can claim a clever name) interrupt and make the match with those conditions, as Daniel Bryan will be blindfolded and Kane will have one hand tied behind his back.
In honor of last night’s Oscars and Sheamus’ upcoming promo, Cole cuts to one of the classic Wrestlemania 21 movie trailer spoofs, featuring John Cena and JBL recreating a scene from A Few Good Men.
Sheamus heads to the ring dressed sharp in a suit, which Lawler calls a tuxedo. Apparently he’s upset about the Academy Awards. Sheamus says that everyone knows him as a “friendly arse-kicking WWE Superstar.” but that he’s also a movie lover. Sheamus notes that the Academy overlooked Wade Barrett, then proceeds to roll a trailer for Dead Man Down. After the first trailer, he shows a second... one that actually has Barrett in the background behind Colin Farrell. All this trash talk brings Wade Barrett out from the back Barrett says that “we all know the Irish love the color green, don’t we?” and notes that “iit’s never been more appropriate than right now, considering the amount of envy seeping out of Sheamus’ pours.” Wade Barrett gets into the ring and yaps for a bit longer before Sheamus takes a swing and Wade takes a powder. There are probably worse things than a movie to set up a Wrestlemania feud, but this feels awfully ridiculous.
Cody Rhodes is in the ring to take on R-Truth, with Rhodes’ former partner Damien Sandow at ringside. Cole tries to link Cody’s moustache to Damien’s beard, noting that Cody didn’t have facial hair before he met Sandow, then declares the duo has a “bromance.” R-Truth gets the win, then gets jumped by Sandow after the match.
Team Hell No take on the Prime Time Players next. Kane picks up the win with a chokeslam, and the PTP have no fallen so low that they’re being jobbed out to a blind guy and a one armed man.
The Shield make an appearance this evening. Dean Ambrose gets on the mic, saying things get worse before they get better. Ambrose says that The Shield is the most effective unit in the WWE today. “Assemble any super team you want. Create an army. You still wouldn’t be able to stop us from the job we came here to do.” This brings Sheamus out from the back, who does his best Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures impression when he asks The Shield: “You want to fight tonight? Why don’t you come up here and fight me?” Sheamus distraction allows Randy Orton to sneak in and drop Seth Rollins with an RKO. This is really confusing, is Sheamus working a program with Wade Barrett for Wrestlemania, or is he going to group up to take on The Shield? This mess needs to be sorted out.
Jack Swagger heads to the ring to take on The Miz. Swagger wins. The lesson? You can get busted for pot and such and not get suspended so long as you’re already in line for a match at Wrestlemania. Otherwise, there are consequences. Keep that in mind for your inevitable third strike, Randy Orton. You should just get it out of your system now.
Cut to Lawler eating Sonic’s at ringside. Yes, Jerry Lawler is eating fried food. Heart attack? What heart attack? He and Cole then intro the WWE Universe’s Touts about the Triple H/Lesnar brawl. It’s about as entertaining as you would suspect. .
John Cena is in back with Josh Matthews, and he is fired up as he cuts his promo for his match with CM Punk. “Two men enter, one man leaves” says Cena, Mad Max-ing his life away. Cena declares that tonight, he is “serving humble pie” and that after he wins the match, “the whole world will know that their time is up, and our time is now.” .
John Cena and CM Punk headline the night and bring that big match feel. Both me get not only a proper entrance but an in-ring introduction as well. The two are given the time to have a really great match, nearly pay-per-view quality, and Lawler and Cole actually sell it well. John Cena gets the win with an Attitude Adjustment (his second of the match) which followed a truly awkward hurricanrana.
The amount of rerun-matches and useless filler in these three hour shows is getting difficult to handle, but having ample time in the main event for John Cena and CM Punk to put on a great match made up for at least a little bit of it. WWE seems to be lacking direction for its biggest event of the year, but with still over a month to build for the show, there is no sense in worrying yet.