We are now at the RAW following TLC 2013, a show that ended with Randy Orton defeating John Cena to become the new, unified and undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
The WWE roster are on the stage as the show opens, and Triple H and Stephanie McMahon stand in the ring together before announcing their new champion, Randy Orton. Orton comes out to loud boo’s from the fans. He walks past the roster and the camera focuses on Daniel Bryan and John Cena, who stare at Orton sternly. Triple H and Stephanie grin at Randy as he enters the ring, obviously forgetting last week when they beat the snot out of each other again. Orton talks about how no-one had faith in him but he proved everyone wrong. We’ve heard this promo, from numerous guys, before, so it isn’t really that interesting. In fact, it’s white noise at this point. They keep showing Cena, who looks like he always looks, but I think he is supposed to look upset, maybe. Orton tells the roster that he is better than all of them. Orton calls himself the most powerful man in the ring, and Triple H and Stephanie smile. John Cena cuts Orton off and calls him an idiot and mocks him. More crap arrogant comedy shtick from Cena. Cena congratulates Orton, and then quotes Steve Austin, which gets Cena a pop. Cena tells Orton to put the title on the line tonight, but not against him, but against Daniel Bryan. Why is Cena asking for a match for Bryan? Why couldn’t Bryan ask for himself? This is ridiculous. Bryan smiles, though I’m sure he feels deflated in reality, not being able to challenge Orton himself. The fans cheer and chant “yes” at the idea of Bryan getting a shot at Orton. Orton refuses but Stephanie and Triple H decide to make a match between Orton and Bryan, but a non-title match. The fans chant “yes” at this.
Rey Mysterio and Big Show are out next for a match against the WWE Tag Team Champions, Cody Rhodes and Goldust. The fans voted for “Myteri-Show” to get this match, through the WWE App. Not sure why. The match is okay, with Mysterio and the Rhodes Brothers having some decent exchanges. Rey and Big Show beat the champions cleanly here, with Rey jumping off Big Show’s shoulders with a splash and a pinfall over Goldust.
Bad News Barrett talks from ringside, and cuts one of his “bad news” promos about the lottery, mocking the fans for heat.
Stephanie, Triple H, Kane and Orton are backstage, and Orton is complaining about having to face Bryan tonight. Stephanie calms him down and says that they value Orton as their champion and friend. The way this storyline is going, I could almost see them turning Daniel Bryan heel as the chosen champion at WrestleMania, but then that’s just me thinking aloud.
Fandango is out next, to little reaction, along with his dancing valet, Summer Rae. His opponent, in a rematch from the TLC kick-off show, is “the show-off” Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler needs some rehab in terms of character and win/losses, he is losing too much and his crowd reactions are deteriorating each week, and he is way too talented for that to be happening. Ziggler wins this pretty short match after a roll up on Fandango.
The Real Americans, along with their manager, “Dirty” Dutch Coulter, are out next, for tag team action against the team of Big E Langston and Mark Henry. The Real Americans, to my ears, seem to be more popular here. Henry gets a decent pop though, but not much considering he is close to home here. There is polite clapping, but no passionate ovation. Cesaro does the most work here, to the shock of absolutely nobody. The Real Americans keep Langston away from tagging Henry for a long period, which nicely built up a hot tag to Henry. “Big Mark” did a nice homage-spot to Junkyard Dog too, which was cool. The match ended when Langston hit the “Big Ending” on Cesaro for the three-count and the win for Henry and himself.
There’s a Santa Claus segment backstage with Damien Sandow dressed as Santa and admonishing a child, playing a mean Santa. There’s some terribly embarrassing visual and sound effects in this segment. This is to hype a Bad Santa versus God Santa match for next week’s RAW between Sandow Claus and Mark Henry Claus. Okay.
Ryback and Axel are in the ring next for a match against Tons of Funk, who seem to be friends again as they make their way to the ring. Something tells me it won’t last. Tensai and Ryback wrestle a bit, and it’s mostly a quick match that ends when Ryback hits his finisher on “Sweet T” for the win. Clay looks angry and hits a big splash on Tensai after the match, probably signifying an official break-up of Tons of Funk. He drags Tensai into the corner but R Truth and Xavier Woods hit the ring for the save, with Clay walking away and calling himself “Main Event Player”. Woods and Truth invite The Funkadactyls into the ring to dance with them. I’m also guessing this means that they will be joining up as a group now, leaving Tensai and Clay to feud and Clay to be a non-dancing monster heel. Better than what they previously were doing anyway.
CM Punk is out next, he cuts a promo about his match against The Shield last night and how he beat the group on his own. The fans chant “CM Punk”. He says that it feels like a “certain somebody” is trying to sweep him under the rug, meaning Triple H. I wonder if we might get a Triple H/Punk match at WrestleMania, or the Royal Rumble. They’re obviously teasing it happening at some point. Shawn Michaels comes out after Punk has called out Triple H, the fans chant a mixture of “HBK” and “you sold out” at him. Punk asks Shawn what he’s doing there, and Shawn says that Punk needs to “get over it” and that his problem shouldn’t be with Hunter, because it was him who super-kicked him last week. The fans chant “one more match”, and Punk says… “of course I’ll have more than one more match”. Punk says that if Shawn tries to kick him again he will kick him back. Shawn says he likes Punk and then introduces his opponents, The Shield, before leaving the ring.
Punk looks like he expected this (which we know he did, of course, wink wink), he stands in the ring and awaits his tag team partners, who have been chosen by votes on the WWE App as The Uso’s. The three of them will take on The Shield in six man action. These six men have great chemistry, as I’ve said before on many occasions. This match is entertaining. The Uso’s look great and it shows that they’re over because they were chosen by fans to be in the match. The fans chant “USO” at times, which is cool to hear. The spots, the selling, the moves and the reactions are all on point here. This match is better than any match at the TLC PPV 24 hours earlier. The match ends, after a nice long stretch, with a spot where Punk hits the GTS on Ambrose but eats a Reigns spear, with Roman pinning the “best in the world” for the win. The Shield are victorious.
The Wyatt Family cut a recorded promo, with Bray talking about Sister Abigail and Daniel Bryan.
We now have divas tag team action, with AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka and Alicia Fox taking on Natalya and The Bellas. This is typical of 2013 WWE divas matches, and while it isn’t bad, and doesn’t do anything particularly poorly, it isn’t good either, though I like seeing Alicia Fox on television, she’s a top worker and looks great too. AJ hits the shining wizard on Nikki Bella for the victory for her team.
Mark Henry plays the “Good Santa” character in another terrible segment. Oh boy.
The main event of RAW is upon us as Daniel Bryan, to a big pop, makes his way to the ring for his match against the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Randy Orton. Orton gets decent heat here, with the fans solidly behind Bryan. We already know that these two men can have decent matches, we’ve seen dozens of them over the course of the last twelve months, and this is another one of them. The fans are into the match, and both Bryan and Orton put on a decent little match that builds in intensity and heat as it goes-on, just as it should. Bryan nicely sells throughout this match, something else he does better than most on the roster. The final moments of the match are hot and the fans are loud and into it, which make it even more enjoyable. Bryan tries to get Orton into the “Yes Lock” but manages to get out of it, they brawl, and as Bryan is hitting Orton with kicks, and going for the big kick to the head, Orton hits a low blow on Bryan and gets disqualified. Cole, on commentary, does his job well here and puts over how cowardly a move it was of Orton. This puts Bryan right back into the mix of the main event here, with him almost beating Orton again and having to get purposefully disqualified in order to retain his title. Cena comes out and ends up getting laid out by Orton. Orton stands over Bryan and Cena with his title belts above his head as we go off the air.
That’s RAW for another week.
RAW: Best of the Night (In-ring): Bryan, Orton, The Uso’s, Punk
RAW: Best of the Night (On-mic): CM Punk
RAW: Dud of the Night: JBL
RAW: Surprise Moment: How good the main event was.
RAW: Honourable Mentions: The Shield