With only six days remaining until the highly anticipated Royal Rumble pay-per-view, most of the matches on advertised card for the event were effectively furthered last night on Monday Night Raw. From the excellent action to the strong segments, this show certainly went a long way in getting this viewer extremely excited for Sunday.
Decent opening segment featuring Vickie Guerrero, Paul Heyman and The Rock. It established that Rock was banned from the arena following his actions from last week, but that was basically it.
I appreciated the effort in forcing Rock to suffer the repercussions in order to make it seem logical, but this wasn't a hot start to the show by any means.
Randy Orton def. Antonio Cesaro in a Beat the Clock Challenge match (non-title)
Good Beat the Clock Challenge match with Randy Orton defeating United States Champion Antonio Cesaro. It would've made more sense if they rushed the match a bit in order to save time, but I was completely content with dragging it out a few more minutes.
The match was well wrestled and made Cesaro look strong in defeat. His out for losing was staring at the clock, so it's nice to see WWE at least make an attempt to protect Cesaro.
Big Show def. Zack Ryder
Brief match with Big Show squashing Zack Ryder. It was effective in reestablishing Show as a ruthless monster and hyping the Last Man Standing stipulation for his World title match on Sunday.
Obviously, Brad Maddox's commentary was the highlight of these mere minutes and he's gradually growing on me as well. My only complaint is that it came at the expense of Ryder, but he hasn't meant anything in ages anyway, so that's only a minor gripe of mine.
Ryback def. Heath Slater w/3MB
Meaningless match with Ryback defeating Heath Slater. Why even bother hyping that Ryback would in action against Slater? That seemed vastly unnecessary to me.
Regardless, I enjoyed Ryback's promo in the sense that it was short, sweet and straight to the point. It was only a matter of time before he announced himself as a participant in Sunday's Royal Rumble match and he's undoubtedly my odds-on favorite to win it all.
WWE Champion CM Punk sends a message to The Rock
Great promo from WWE Champion CM Punk. Once again, Punk was brilliant on the mic and did an excellent job of building towards his pending title match with The Rock on Royal Rumble.
I'm thankful that Punk took shots at the people rather than at Rock, which allowed him to garner some major heel heat. The Voice of the Voiceless has done a very effective job of making the WWE Championship feel prestigious during his run with the belt and that was no different here.
Dolph Ziggler w/AJ Lee and Big E Langston def. The Miz in a Beat the Clock Challenge match
Entertaining Beat the Clock Challenge match between Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. The clashing of their similar styles made for some awesome (no pun intended) action and created nice suspense down the stretch.
As stated last week, I'm not a huge supporter of Miz utilizing the Figure Four Leg Lock as a finisher going forward, but I'm fine with it as long as it's beneficial in building his popularity. The finish was well done and gave Ziggler a much-needed victory.
WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No graduate from Dr. Shelby's anger management course
Fun segment featuring WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No's graduation from Dr. Shelby's anger management course. Although Daniel Bryan looked like the creepy neighbor from Home Alone, this was an enjoyable segment with hilarious performances by everyone involved.
However, did this at all build toward the WWE Tag Team Championship match on Sunday? Team Rhodes Scholars apparently interrupted this segment when it went to commercial break, but that doesn't do anyone any favors.
Divas Champion Kaitlyn def. Alicia Fox (non-title)
Throwaway match with Divas Champion Kaitlyn defeating Alicia Fox. Kaitlyn has improved immensely since her NXT days, but she's still subpar in the ring when she doesn't have the right opponent.
Fox was not a nice match for her and the two worked a sloppy style. Thankfully, the crowd popped for the finish and it seems like they're building an eventual showdown between Kaitlyn and Tamina.
The Shield attack The Rock
Strong promo from The Rock. Similar to CM Punk earlier in the evening, he demonstrated exactly why everything is riding on his WWE Championship match on Sunday and how much it means to him.
Having The Shield ambush him was a pleasant surprise and the visual of Rock bleeding from the mouth at the end was a nice touch. Also, if I buy a ticket to Raw, does that mean I can randomly jump on commentary or enter through the stage, too?
Sheamus vs. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett in a Beat the Clock Challenge match went to a no contest (non-title)
Solid Beat the Clock Challenge match between Sheamus and Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. These two have excellent chemistry with one another and it once again made for a very physical fight.
The final few minutes were the most suspenseful and they did a great job of making it seem like Sheamus would win at the last possible second, which I'm glad he didn't. I'm not a big fan of the Beat the Clock Challenge concept due to the fact it makes for short matches more often than not, but this was an exception.
Unfortunately, the entire thing felt pointless later on once it was revealed Ziggler could only pick from the first two spots in the Royal Rumble, but it was still fun while it lasted.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio def. Tensai
Fine match with World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio defeating Tensai. It was fresh and never before done, so at least it wasn't completely pointless in that aspect.
Since turning face, Del Rio has been much more entertaining in the ring, so that's been one of the big benefits of the turn so far. He seems to be connecting with the crowd nicely, but his upcoming match with Big Show at Royal Rumble could've used a bit more attention.
John Cena addresses the WWE Universe
Typical brawl to close the show. We see the same thing almost every year, but I was actually somewhat glad to see it this time around.
The only reason I say that is because the Royal Rumble match thus far has received little to no build at all, so at least this was able to accomplish that, but was it too little too late?
Overall, a solid go-home show that did its best to hype the top matches for the Royal Rumble card. While some of the matches on this show didn't serve much of a purpose, the three well-wrestled Beat the Clock Challenge matches were what made this show worth-watching in my opinion.
Not only that, but the promos from The Rock and CM Punk respectively were both fantastic as expected. That being said, I'm extremely excited for Sunday's event and the various twists and turns it might have in store.
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