Monday Night Raw begins with a slideshow of photos from last night's Royal Rumble event. We see stills of Beth attacking Kelly, Primo and Epico standing victoriously over Yoshi Tatsu, John Cena and Kane fighting all over the arena, Daniel Bryan with a **** eating grin on his face after retaining the World title, an exhausted CM Punk holding his WWE Championship, and Dolph Ziggler celebrating with Vickie Guerrero after winning the 2012 Royal Rumble. When the slideshow ends, we return to the arena to see 'ELIMINATION CHAMBER – 3 WEEKS AWAY' written across the display near the curtains.
Monday, January 30th, 2012
Before Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler can welcome us to another exciting edition of Raw, the speakers throughout the arena erupt with Dolph Ziggler's theme song. Ziggler and Guerrero appear on the stage, all smiles. They make their way down to the ring.
Vickie Guerrero: “Excuse me! … I said EXCUSE ME!”
She gets a chorus of boos in response. They don't phase her.
Vickie Guerrero: “It is my pleasure to introduce to you – the 2012 Royal Rumble winner and future WWE Champion – Dolph Ziggler!”
Ziggler takes the microphone from Vickie. He brings it to his mouth but pauses to gaze up toward the WrestleMania logo. The fans continue to boo but Ziggler keeps his eyes on the prize until they shut up somewhat.
Dolph Ziggler: “Not only did I win the 2012 Royal Rumble, but I did so after wrestling the WWE Champion for over twenty minutes. I can't even begin to explain how much cardio that requires in a way that would make sense to any of you so let's try something else. Pop quiz: how many superstars have wrestled for the top title and then went on to win the Royal Rumble in the same night? The answer is ONE and you are looking at him.
As much fun as I had playing second fiddle in my WWE Championship match last night... I mean, we get it, CM Punk has authority issues... I had a much better time throwing Zack Ryder over the top rope and paving *MY* road to Wrestlemania. You can boo all you want but that won't change the fact that in 8 weeks I will be standing before you the new WWE Champion.”
The crowd erupts when they hear the opening riff of “Cult of Personality” and CM Punk arrives on the scene. He's got his Best in the World shirt on and the WWE Title belt firmly around his waist. When the fans eventually stop chanting his name, Punk addresses Dolph and Vickie from the stage.
CM Punk: “I don't think I've ever heard anyone put such a positive spin on losing a WWE Championship match before. You should be a politician, Dolph. Lord knows we need more of those backstage...”
CM Punk looks toward the camera for a second then looks back at Dolph.
CM Punk: “But really, with all due respect, congratulations. You are the 2012 Royal Rumble winner.”
Dolph Ziggler says 'thank you' without using the microphone.
CM Punk: “That means this is going one of two ways: you can lose to me again, this time in front of even more people. Or you can take your shot at the World Championship and see if you can't go a full day before losing it this time.”
Dolph Ziggler: “You seem to be forgetting that you don't have a guaranteed ticket to WrestleMania. I do.”
Punk looks over his shoulder at the 'ELIMINATION CHAMBER – 3 WEEKS AWAY' banner behind him.
CM Punk: “You've right. I don't have an easy ride to 'the grandest stage of them all.' I have to earn mine in an Elimination Chamber. And you know what? I will be happy to. Because these people want the best in the world and that's exactly what I plan to give them.”
The crowd pops for Punk. Dolph turns and looks out toward the crowd.
Dolph Ziggler: “Unbelievable.”
He glares at Punk.
Dolph Ziggler: “'The man who cashed in two Money in the Bank briefcases for two World titles has the nerve to act like I have an easy ride?”
Dolph looks out toward the crowd again.
Dolph Ziggler: “You people would cheer for a hypocrite like this. Despicable. This is MY TIME to celebrate MY WIN at the Rumble. I shouldn't have to deal with you for another eight weeks if at all.”
CM Punk: “Sorry to disappoint but I'm not out here because I want to see you, sweetheart. I figured that as WWE Champion I should take it upon myself to give the fans a heads up on some last minute changes to tonight's program.”
Dolph looks to Vickie for some insight but she is just as puzzled as he is.
CM Punk: “Normally, right about now Triple H would be out here talking about responsibilities and management skills and blah blah blah Johnny Ace is a tool and thirty minutes later he would get to the point. It just so happens that Johnny and good ol' Hunter Hearst were called away at the last minute to an important meeting in Greenwich.” (Punk sarcastically gestures that he's scared.) “...But not before they booked tonight's main event.”
Dolph's interest piques with that last line.
CM Punk: “For the viewing pleasure of everyone in this arena and the millions watching at home, you and Wade Barrett are going to come out here as a tag team and then Zack Ryder and I are going to kick your asses. How does that sound?”
Fans cheer loudly for Punk and Ryder in the main event. Punk takes the WWE title off his waist and raises it above his head. The crowd starts a CM Punk chant and Vickie doesn't want to hear it. Punk turns and heads backstage. The CM Punk chant takes some time to die down. Vickie is doing her best to calm down a livid Ziggler as we go to commercial break.
# COMMERCIAL BREAK #
When we return from the commercial break Heath Slater is already in the ring as Yoshi Tatsu makes his entrance. Michael Cole informs us that this is actually a rematch of the dark match that took place before the Royal Rumble event the night before. Upset at the outcome, Slater demanded a rematch and tonight he's been granted one.
HEATH SLATER vs. YOSHI TATSU
A quick paced match up with a decent length that sees a more focused and aggressive Heath Slater on the offensive against Tatsu for most of the bout. Slater's impressive showing comes to a halt when he allows the fans disapproval to distract him long enough for Yoshi to blast him with a rolling wheel kick. Yoshi's kicks are unrelenting, leaving Slater staggering on spaghetti legs. Tatsu finishes him off with a sick roundhouse kick and gets the pin.
Yoshi Tatsu wins via pinfall.Yoshi takes a moment to high five his fans on the outside before heading backstage. Heath Slater spends a few moments arguing with the referee (then, blaming the fans at ringside) before exiting the ring area a sore loser. Backstage we see David Otunga pacing around the locker room on his cell phone. He notices the cameras rolling and closes the locker room door.
Jerry Lawler: “I have just been informed by that our previously scheduled Divas match has been canceled due to Beth Phoenix failing to show up for Raw tonight. I can't believe it.”
Michael Cole: “Any more good news?”
Jerry Lawler: (ignoring Cole) “Last night, Beth Phoenix made a statement, viciously assaulting Kelly Kelly and discarding her Divas championship belt in the center of the ring. I was hoping we would get some kind of explanation tonight but-”
Michael Cole: “You know if she really wanted to make a statement, she should have just eliminated herself from a battle royal. All the cool kids are doing it. Speaking of not-Gail-Kim, what is Chris Jericho supposed to be doing tonight? Is he finally going to say something or what? I think I speak for everyone when I say he should either speak up or stay home.”
Jerry Lawler: “Since when do you speak on behalf of the WWE Universe, Michael? I'm pretty sure they usually want you to shut up.”
Michael Cole: “They're a fickle bunch, King. They don't know what they want. You hear them when John Cena comes out? They can't make up their minds!”
Jerry Lawler: “Really? Because I'm looking at a sign over there begging you to retire.”
Cole squints and looks around.
Michael Cole: “Where?”
Jerry Lawler: “Right there. The one that says 'Michael Cole PLEASE STOP TALKING.'”
Michael Cole: “Of course what King fails to mention is that it says 'WRESTLE FULL TIME' on the other side. And while I appreciate the sentiment, I'm going to stick to being the best commentator in professional wrestling for now, thank you very much.”
Jerry Lawler rolls his eyes as we get ready for our next match. Michael McGillicutty is out first and it might as well be an empty arena match with the response he's getting. McGillicutty grimaces as he stands in the ring and awaits his opponent. Mason Ryan is out next and the crowd gives him a lukewarm response. Ryan enters the ring and gets ready to dismantle kid Perfect.
MICHAEL McGILLICUTTY vs. MASON RYAN
A decent length match considering the men involved. McGillicutty gets a little bit of offense in, but it doesn't seem to phase the beast from Cardiff. Ryan shrugs off the attacks and puts McGillicutty down with a pumphandle slam for a dominant victory.
Mason Ryan wins via pinfall.After the match we go backstage to see Heath Slater approaching Justin Gabriel. Gabriel is watching WWE Raw on a nearby monitor.
Heath Slater: “There you are, I've been looking everywhere for you, man. What are you doing?”
Justin Gabriel: “I was just watching the McGillicutty/Ryan match-”
Heath Slater: “Why?”
Justin Gabriel: “Why not?”
Heath Slater: “Well, Mason Ryan's like extra strength Ambien, for one.”
Justin Gabriel: “At least he wins his matches.”
Heath Slater: “Ouch. That hurts, Gabes. That really does.”
Justin Gabriel: “What do you want, Heath?”
Heath Slater: “Don't be like that, man. Sure we've had some differences in the past but c'mon, we're former tag team champions.”
Michael Cole: “Who isn't these days...”
Justin Gabriel: “You say that like it means something to you all of a sudden.”
Heath Slater: “Fair enough, fair enough. But I thought maybe we could put our issues behind us and focus on the opportunity in front of us.”
Justin Gabriel: “Get to the point, Heath.”
Heath Slater: “Air Boom is Air Bust. And the Usos? Who-sos..”
Justin Gabriel: “And?”
Heath Slater: “And? And this is our shot, man! I mean, seriously, Santoshi? If we team up again, we immediately become the frontrunners for those tag team titles. And no offense to Primo and Epico but the hottest part about their act stays outside the ring most of the time. We got this.”
Justin Gabriel: “I don't know.”
Heath Slater: “What do you mean you don't know? The tag division has never been weaker. It's ours for the taking!”
Justin Gabriel: “I don't disagree, I'm just not sure if you and I are...”
Heath Slater: “You're still bitter. Harboring a little resentment. That's fine. That's normal. I get that. Just tell me you'll at least think about it, okay?”
Justin Gabriel: “Sure.”
Heath Slater: “That's all I need, Justin. I'll catch ya later.”
Slater does some contrived double-gun salute as he leaves. It does not look as cool as Heath thinks it does. Gabriel sighs and goes back to watching Raw. Of course he starts watching Raw again just as we go to a commercial...
# COMMERCIAL BREAK #
And when we're back, it's time for David Otunga to come out and be absolutely fabulous. He's got the thermos, the bow-tie, the silver shoes – pure Otunga. He gets in the ring and requests a microphone. A ringside official obliges him to everyone's dismay.
David Otunga: “My name is David Otunga.”
The fans react accordingly.
David Otunga: “I serve as legal council to Executive Vice President of Talent Relations, Mr. John Laurinaitis.”
David Otunga: “Unfortunately, Mr. Laurinaitis has urgent meetings to attend that will be keeping him from tonight's episode of Raw.”
That gets a pop.
David Otunga: “The silver lining to that cloud is that as such, it is my duty to oversee that Mr. Laurinaitis' plans are followed to the T, including-”
That old familiar car crash blares throughout the arena and Mick Foley appears on the stage to a deserving ovation. Otunga immediately goes from smiles to sads. Foley gets in the ring, smiling ear to ear, and requests a microphone of his own. It's cheap pop time.
Mick Foley: “It's so good to be back in (wherever they are)!”
Mick Foley: “It's so good for me, at least... It might not be so good for you, Dave.”
David Otunga: “That's Mr. Otunga, thank you.”
Mick Foley: “Whoa! Don't wanna offend the guy in silver shoes! But I admire your confidence and I like your spunk so here's what I'm going to do.”
Otunga's patience is wearing thin.
Mick Foley: “Oh, don't start pouting on me. I appreciate a good attorney just as much as the next guy! Mine was so good, in fact, that he managed to get a clause attached to my Legends deal that actually helps out in situations such as this. You see, when there's no clear authority figure present during an episode of Monday Night Raw, that role defaults to the person or persons with the highest ranking title. In case I'm not using the right technical jargon, let me be a little bit more clear Mr. Otunga: tonight, you abide by Foley's law.”
Crowd starts cheering for the inevitable Otunga squash. Foley does “bang, bang” and Otunga checks his watch.
Mick Foley: “As well as you perform in your role, Dave, I think I'll be taking things over from here. Why not start by introducing your opponent for this evening? *clears throat* He hails from Planet Funk...”
Otunga immediately regrets his decision to come down to the ring tonight.
Mick Foley: “Ladies and gentlemen... the only living, breathing Funkosaurus in captivity... BRODUS CLAY!”
DAVID OTUNGA vs. BRODUS CLAY
This actually turns out to be one of the longer Brodus Clay matches we've seen. For a while, Otunga gets a bit of offense in against the Funkosaurus, surprising everybody. It isn't long before Clay's able to take Otunga off his feet with his big headbutt and gets ready for What The Funk. Otunga sees Clay hit the ropes and quickly gets out of the ring. Deprived of their “What The Funk,” the fans start to boo. Jerry Lawler yells at Otunga to get back in the ring as Otunga stands near Michael Cole, adjusting his bowtie as he waits for the referee to count him out.
With Clay's back to the ramp, he doesn't see two figures run down the ramp and slide into the ring. The Funkosaurus turns around in time to fend off their attack as Otunga makes his exit. A lot of brawling back-and-forth but Brodus holds his own and eventually he manages to clothesline Reks over the top before throwing Hawkins out onto him. Referees manage to diffuse the situation. Hawkins and Reks head backstage while Brodus grabs the microphone.
Brodus Clay wins via disqualification.
Brodus Clay: “Sheeee. They wanna deprive you of the Funk. But we aren't going to let them, are we?”
The garbage children in the crowd cheer for this idiot. “Somebody Call My Mama” hits and Brodus rotates through his extremely limited dance repertoire with Cameron and Naomi. Michael Cole finishes laughing at the absurdity of it all and mentions an update on Beth Phoenix. Apparently, Arn Anderson has been trying to work something out with Beth to no avail and she will be appearing on Smack down to formally announce her departure from the Divas division.
Jerry Lawler: “I'd wish her the best of luck in her endeavors but I don't think the most dominant female in professional wrestling today needs any.”
Michael Cole: “If this is true, we are losing a great talent and you shouldn't be putting her over, Jerry... Certainly a sad day when the scariest members of the Divas division are Natalya's farts.”
Lawler doesn't even respond. He just looks at Cole with disdain.
Michael Cole: “What? I don't book this crap!”
# COMMERCIAL BREAK #
We cut backstage where a limousine is pulling up in the parking garage. The door opens and out steps Chris Jericho, blinking jacket and all. He smiles at the camera. There's an audible cheer from the live audience. Jericho starts walking toward the arena but just ends up walking up to another limousine, getting in, and taking off.
Michael Cole: “The Ayatollah of being a troll-a, everyone.”
Jerry Lawler: “Alright... next up, one half of the tag team champions takes on Kofi Kingston in singles action.”
It's time for Kofi Kingston against Epico. Due to the Wellness Policy suspension, Kofi's out alone tonight. Epico, however, is accompanied by both Primo and Rosa Mendes. Primo and Epico take a moment to pose with their WWE Tag Team Championship titles before the match, pouring salt in the wound of former champion Kingston.
EPICO vs. KOFI KINGSTON
Starts out as an even match but Kofi eventually gets the upper-hand. Rosa tries to be a distraction but Kofi is focused. The former tag team champion has something to prove. And for the most part, Kofi is succeeding. Rosa gets on the apron to distract the referee and a plan is in motion. Primo's on the apron next and Kofi sees him. Kofi swings at Primo but Primo ducks and hotshots him. Kofi stumbles backwards into a Backcracker from Epico just as the referee turns around and it's over.
Epico wins via pinfall.We go backstage to Scott Sanford for an interview he's conducting with Eve Torres (yeah yeah, we know where this is going...) who discusses Beth Phoenix's actions at the Royal Rumble. Eve points out that Beth Phoenix thinks she's better than everyone else but a real champion behaves with class. She let's the WWE Universe know that Kelly Kelly was told to sit the week out by physicians but she's going to be okay, she's a tough girl.
Out of nowhere, Kane hits Eve with a big boot. Stanford actually tries to raise a hand to the big red monster but he pummels the interviewer and tosses him aside. Kane drags Eve to her feet and then whips her into the wall. Eve lets out more of a grunt than the type of scream typically associated with Divas wrestling. Kane drags her by the hair and she struggles, crawling to keep up. Kane brings her toward a table with a few clipboards and papers scattered about and chokeslams her through it. Kane walks away.
Michael Cole: “My god, King.”
Jerry Lawler: “Someone needs to get her medical attention.”
Michael Cole: “Someone needs to stop Kane.”
Jerry Lawler: “And for once I actually agree with you.”
We return to the aftermath of Kane's wrath. Eve Torres is being tended to by medical personnel as Zack Ryder looks on with a heavy heart. Zack accompanies Eve on her trip to the ambulance. John Cena arrives on the scene, distraught. He looks as though he is going to call out to Zack, but he's speechless. Cena looks at the broken bits of table, then turns and walks away all angry-like. We fade out to our last commercial break of the evening, taken well before the end of the program to ensure the main event isn't cut up by commercials. Because, you know, it's supposed to seem like a big deal.
# COMMERCIAL BREAK #
When we return, it's time for our main event. Wade Barrett comes out to “End of Days,” not that crappy garbage children music he came out to at the real Royal Rumble. Dolph comes out next, accompanied by Vickie Guerrero. CM Punk makes his entrance to a tremendous ovation. And then out comes Mick Foley.
Foley gets in the ring with a microphone to update the fans on the status of the main event.
Mick Foley: “Unfortunately, due to Kane's vicious assault of Eve Torres, Zack Ryder is being pulled from the main event at my discretion so he may accompany her to the hospital. As a result, we're one man down. Now, if Johnny L were here, I know exactly what he would do. He'd turn this into a handicap match to let Dolph and Wade tear the champion appart. But I don't think the fans want to see that, do they?”
The fans boo, meanwhile Barrett looks bored – he could not care less about Foley or his administration style.
Mick Foley: “I didn't think so! Tonight's Raw main event was supposed to feature the WWE Champion and the last three Royal Rumble participants. But I don't see why we can't make do with the WWE Champion and three out of the final four instead. So I replaced Zack with this guy!”
There's a shared look of dread between Dolph and Wade as they remember which wrestler was eliminated from the Rumble third-to-last. The arena is ignited by “Voices.” The crowd pops huge and Foley smiles. Foley gets out of the ring and sits at commentary, discussing the uncertain fate of Raw's authority figure role.
# MAIN EVENT #Awesome main event, as though you were expecting anything less from these guys. Ziggler and Orton spend some time in the ring, then Barrett and Punk, then eventaully both feuding parties end up going at it and it's all out war. The referee manages to regain control of the match and the fierce competition resumes after a lot of brawling.
WADE BARRETT & DOLPH ZIGGLER
CM PUNK & RANDY ORTON
Orton and Ziggler are the legal men when Ziggler tries for his sleeper submission but Orton counters with an RKO and should have the pin, but Vickie Guerrero's managed to distract the referee from the apron. Orton gives Vickie one of his “lol I'm a snake” glares and starts going after her before he gets blindsided by Barrett. Punk tries to get in but of course the referee prevents him from doing so.
Vickie gets down from the apron and revels in her effectiveness. This gets the ire of Mick Foley on commentary who wonders if this match might have been better with Vickie ejected from ringside. Orton manages to fight off Barrett and make the tag to Punk. Punk gets in with Ziggler and goes for the pin but a recovering Ziggler kicks out at 2. They fight back-and-forth and a CM Punk chant starts. Ziggler goes for a fameasser and Punk moves out of the way. Dolph lands in a sitting position on the canvas with just enough time to look up before getting nailed with a shining wizard from Punk.
Sensing the end around the corner, Vickie looks to get up on the apron once more – only to get stopped in her tracks by Mick Foley and his assistant Mr. Socko! Crowd pops as Dolph Ziggler gets up, half-distracted by Mick and Vickie, and staggers into a GTS. Barrett enters the ring but so does Orton. Punk covers Ziggler for the pin in the center of the ring as Orton flies over him and takes Barrett down with his sloppy Lou Thesz press. He beats the crap out of Barrett as the referee counts to three.
CM Punk and Randy Orton win via pinfall.Orton is absolutely going to town on Barrett, to the point that Mick Foley actually involves himself and separates the two. Foley holds up the arms of Punk and Orton who celebrate their victory as Ziggler curses all of them from the outside of the ring and Vickie Guerrero dry heaves. It is a beautiful sight.
Thank you to everyone for the kind words so far. I'm not 100% on the formatting so expect some tweaks over the next few shows while I find "the sweet spot." I'm just going to try to have fun with this so I hope all of you do as well. Aaaand my word processor just tried to turn 'fun' into 'funkosaurus.' Terrible. Anyway, figured I would use this space to answer some questions – those which haven't been answered in the actual program, that is.
Personally, I like to think of the Royal Rumble as a silly gimmick match with grand implications that should be used to reward someone that has been knocking it out of the park. So it was down to Cody or Dolph for me, and I like the idea of Cody marinading in the I-C scene for a while. His legacy needs to be written. I think it's Dolph's time to be the persistent main event heel. That and Sheamus' character was absolutely directionless. I'm not wasting a Rumble win to solve that.
And as for the Santino/Foley image, I just like the image and it has 'Royal Rumble' written somewhere in it. Seemed easier than making an image for the Rumble. Totally understand the complaint though, I just wasn't thinking about it too much.
As for brands, I wouldn't say the division has been erased entirely, but I am definitely keeping the lines blurred while all of the Supershow and “who's in charge” nonsense is going on. Graphics are self made. One of these days I'll get around to teaching myself how to do tricky stuff but I think this stuff works for simple/quick.
Brodus Clay is a heel. I defy anyone to explain to me why he isn't. He's condescending to his opponents, he forces his dancing upon us without taking the time to learn HOW TO DANCE, and he's a “production” that doesn't pull it off - meaning he's packaged and far from genuine (hell, he's re-using a gimmick that belonged to someone else), he comes off as all style and no substance. It would be different if he were a good dancer but he isn't. I see no redeeming qualities to Brodus that would make him a face and if someone tries to tell me that fan reaction dictates character alignment so help me god this BTB is over.
To everyone who has responded/replied/commented: Hope you're enjoying it. Thanks for reading!