Weekly Wrestling Recap 02-02-12
My first thoughts on Sunday night’s Royal Rumble was that it was not only an infomercial for WrestleMania 28 but also a bad way to kick off the 2012 pay-per-view season for the WWE. Then after Monday’s Raw, some of the pieces of the Road to WrestleMania have begun to come together and the WWE was able to wash some of that bitter taste out of our mouths. The problem is that when you pay $50+ for a pay-per-view, especially one that is billed as the big 4 events of the year, you expect it to be entertaining and full of surprises. The Royal Rumble was anything but that with bad wrestling, long promos, and a sub-par Royal Rumble match. This pay-per-view would have been a letdown in July, but to be the first stop to the Road to WrestleMania made it even that much more disappointing.
The show kicked off with the World Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage match between Daniel Bryan, Big Show, and Mark Henry. Given the circumstances of an injured Mark Henry and an aging Big Show the match actually wasn’t all that bad. Daniel Bryan was the work horse of this one taking some pretty major bumps but also walking out with the title. This match was a throw away as the feud between these three has gotten terribly stale and hopefully the WWE will be moving away from it now that Mark Henry is getting some time off to recuperate.
The John Cena vs. Kane showdown wasn’t much better. The match again started off alright but devolved into a backstage fight and Zack Ryder getting tombstoned in front of a weeping Eve. Nobody is buying that Eve and Zack Ryder are dating and the WWE forcing this attitude era style angle down our throats is doing nothing for any of the stars involved. We get it, John Cena needs something to do until The Rock is done his Hollywood obligations and their feud can get into full swing. Zack Ryder is way over but can’t really cut a promo or wrestle so unfortunately he’s dumped into a love story with Eve and somehow in the middle of a Cena/Kane feud. Meanwhile, I don’t know where this leaves Kane going forward or what his role will be at WrestleMania but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryder vs. Kane happens in Miami. It’s clear that Cena/Kane will continue at Elimination Chamber but at this point this feud has also run its course for me.
Then you had the real main event in my opinion, CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Championship. Now here’s a match where I think fed’s like ROH have a point. Let the guys WRESTLE. You have two of the best guys on the roster that can put on an amazing show. Why not give them 45 minutes and go all out with a classic match that will be talked about for weeks afterwards. Instead we get the John Laurinaitis show with a total cluster-F ending that buried Dolph Ziggler and did nothing for CM Punk. The two actually had a good match for the first 10 minutes or so with plenty of false finishes and Vicki Guerrero being banned from ringside. Then the train wreck started with the referee taking a bump to the outside and Laurinaitis was being distracted while CM Punk makes Ziggler tap by the Anaconda Vice. Punk and Laurinaitis argue it out and we see another 2-3 finishers hit by Punk on Ziggler but the ref always being distracted. Finally Punk hits the GTS for the win at the end of the match and retains the title. Sure this makes Punk look like a million bucks but Ziggler looks like a loser in the process. To add insult to injury Ziggler is the only wrestler to take a finisher from Kharma later on in the night. I don’t understand why a potential 5-star match has to be bogged down by a poorly executed angle just so Raw could build more interest the next night.
The Rumble match itself was pretty much average at best with Miz and Cody Rhodes being the work horses of the match. Mick Foley, Santino, and Ricardo Rodriguez added some comedic effect but then we had way too many lame entrants to make the Rumble actually count for anything memorable. Great Khali is awful yet somehow keeps resurfacing in the WWE and wasted a spot. Road Dogg is fine to see but he was just on the Slammy’s a few weeks ago so the surprise wasn’t really there. All three commentators had Rumble entries which were completely unnecessary especially for Michael Cole to be in there. Jey Uso at 24 is just ridiculous when that spot could be used for a more marquee name. Then #30 is Big Show who we had already seen earlier in the night, why even bother saving him for last at that point? The final ending between Jericho and Sheamus was very well done and Sheamus winning was mostly to throw people off the scent of Jericho vs. Punk at Mania as well as putting a big name in the main event scene on Smackdown for Mania. The next night on Raw we see Jericho attack Punk so I’m still expecting to see a WWE Championship match between the two at WrestleMania even though Jericho winning the Rumble would have been a better way to set it up.
The big news of the week however is the return of the Undertaker. This past Monday on Raw, Triple H was about to fire Laurinaitis from his duties when the lights went out and the dead man (in a wig nonetheless) returned. Undertaker vs. Triple H had been rumored to take place at Mania this year again and it looks like things are headed in that direction:
Adi contributes regular columns on the world of Pro-Wrestling, Tech, Video Games, and Movies. You can follow him on Twitter @adiraval