10 YRS AGO: WWE RAW TV REPORT (1-23-2013): Royal Rumble hype with The Rock, C.M. Punk, Randy Orton, Big Show, Wade Barrett, Paul Heyman, plus Dr. Shelby with Bryan & Kane

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett (art credit Grant Gould © PWTorch)


This report originally was posted on PWTorch.com ten years ago this week…

January 21, 2013 – Episode #1,025
Live in San Jose, Calif.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

Raw opened with the annual replay of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

This week’s three-hour Raw leading into the Royal Rumble opened with a live shot inside the arena as a subdued crowd at 5:00 in the afternoon local time made some, but not much noise. Vickie Guerrero then excused herself on-stage. Vickie was randomly arm-in-arm with Paul Heyman. Vickie tried to heat up the lukewarm reaction with “Excuse Me!” shouts, but it didn’t work. Vickie then entered the ring, saying it is her job to make this show entertaining, and to do the right thing. Vickie said doing the right thing is not necessarily doing the popular thing, especially as it relates to The Rock.

Paul Heyman spoke next. This got the next level of boos as he introduced himself. Heyman noted he and Vickie have a common enemy in The Rock following the Rock Concert last week. Heyman claimed to have been defamed by Rock last week. Vickie wanted to show just how bad Rock was last week, which led to a replay from last Monday when Rock called out Heyman’s penis. “He hasn’t seen it – no – not in years,” Rock sang.

Back live, Heyman was shown leaning against the ropes selling that he was beside himself and speechless. Heyman said it’s one thing to pick a fight with him because Rock has to answer to C.M. Punk in six days, but to pick a fight with Vickie – a poor, defenseless widow – is vile and contemptible. Heyman said Rock said things about Vickie that he wouldn’t even repeat in San Jose. This led to a replay of Rock setting up Vickie with flattery, then hitting her over the head with major insults last week.

Back live, Heyman consoled Vickie, who said she is so glad that the audience enjoyed their embarrassment last week. She said that Rock might be here tonight in San Jose, she has banned Rock from entering her arena tonight. And if he tries to enter the arena, he will be arrested by the San Jose PD. A stagehand then told Vickie that he’s here. Vickie cackled, then cut to an exterior shot of The Rock just finding out that he can’t enter the arena.

Backstage, Rock was shown pacing around while wearing a leather jacket over a Just Bring It t-shirt. Rock proceeded to cut a promo on the SJPD representatives. Rock said Vickie is probably in the middle of the ring right now looking like she just swallowed some pickles. But, Rock made it known that no one and no entity can stop him from entering the People’s Ring. One of the cops vowed to arrest Rock, who laughed it off. Rock told Cop #1 to arrest Punk for impersonating a champion. He said he’s like Manti Te’o, except he doesn’t have an unimaginary girlfriend, but an imaginary set of nuts. Rock then told Cop #2 to arrest Paul Heyman for not wearing a bra in public. Rock moved back to Cop #3 to ask Vickie what her intestines look like because she clearly has her shoved straight up her ass. Rock continued the dialogue with the three cops, then told them that it’s not a matter of if he enters the arena, but when. In what fantasyland do cops just stand there and listen to a suspect deliver a promo for five minutes?

Back in the ring, Vickie said Rock might talk a tough game, but if he tries to enter her ring, the only song he’s going to sing is Jailhouse Rock. Heyman said that was pretty clever, then Vickie tried to do Rock’s catchphrase, shouting, “If you smell what the Vick” is cooking. Vickie slammed down the mic, then walked off with Heyman.

[ JC: Kindergarten stuff here; not exactly the strong start for Rumble hype. Sure, it sets up a question to be answered by the end of the weekly, episodic, three-hour-please-don’t-tune-out-halfway-through show, but it just felt soft. ]

Announcers: Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler set the stage for the show, noting there will be six Beat the Clock challenge matches tonight. And, the winner gets to pick his slot in the Rumble. Seems pretty obvious the winner would pick #30. Is the winner going to pick #18 just to be random? Or, #27 since it has produced the most victories? The first match is Randy Orton vs. Antonio Cesaro.

[Commercial Break. A spot for “Pain and Gain” starring The Rock aired. It also aired during college basketball Saturday on CBS.]

[Q2] Tonight, John Cena addresses the WWE audience. Cena’s focus will be on beginning his journey to WrestleMania by winning the Royal Rumble.

In-ring: U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro was in the ring back from break. Cesaro, waving an American flag menacingly, then waited for Randy Orton to make his full ring intro. As Orton made his way out, the announcers stressed Orton’s Rumble quest.

1 — U.S. champion ANTONIO CESARO vs. RANDY ORTON — non-title match — Beat the Clock Challenge

Quick pace since each man wanted a quick victory. Orton then slowed things down as Cole noted Cesaro owns 12 Swiss swatches. After a stalemate, WWE cut to break. A mid-match break with the clock ticking on a match that is supposed to convey the need for an immediate victory?

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, no finish during the commercial. They were at 6:50 with neither man appearing to have much of an advantage. Cesaro then shoved Orton off the top rope down to the floor. On the outside, Cesaro dragged Orton’s limp body back into the ring to cover him for a two count. Orton followed with his methodical gutwrench suplex for another nearfall. Cesaro slapped on a reverse chinlock, which Lawler disagreed with on commentary, noting he needs more sense of urgency.

At 9:00, Cesaro returned to a chinlock. Meanwhile, Cole noted the obvious of picking #30 if he were to win this Beat the Clock Challenge. Orton then made a comeback, highlighted by a powerslam. Orton wedgied Cesaro onto the middle rope, but Cesaro blocked Orton’s DDT and scored a surprise two count. Cesaro followed with a huge pop-up uppercut, but Orton kicked out of a pin. Cesaro was slow to follow up, keeping the clock moving.

At 11:00, Cesaro ran Orton shoulder-first into the ringpost. Orton then collapsed to the floor, eating up more time. Cesaro dragged Orton back into the ring, took a peek at the clock on the Titantron, and Orton sprung on him out of nowhere with an RKO. Orton covered and it was good for the win.

WINNER: Orton at 11:36 to set the time to beat. Good match. It was the Cena-Ziggler formula with Cesaro scoring several nearfalls (although Orton did not kick out of the Neutralizer) before Orton sprung on Cesaro for a quick win. (**1/2)

[Q3] Announcers: Cole and Lawler noted the clock beat Cesaro tonight, then Cole transitioned to 2013 Hall of Fame discussion. Cole said they learned the first inductee last week, which led to a video package on Mick Foley’s origins as a kid wanting to be a wrestler, then Cactus Jack, Mankind, Dude Love, and Mick Foley. Plenty of match and promo clips were mixed in.

Suddenly, the feed cut to a Shield handheld video. Dean Ambrose informed the audience they need to wake up before The Shield wakes them up. The video transitioned to a clip of Ryback taking a triple powerbomb through the table. Next on the victim list was Randy Orton, then Sheamus. They don’t just talk about injustice, but they bring the fight. “We’re just getting started,” Roman Reigns signed off.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Big Show’s music played to bring out an angry giant as Cole extolled Alberto Del Rio’s virtues. As Zack Ryder was introduced as Show’s opponent, Cole relayed some news that Show requested and has been granted a Last Man Standing re-match against Alberto Del Rio this Sunday at the Rumble. Before the bell sounded, a squeaky voice interrupted. It was Brad Maddox interjecting himself onto commentary.


As Maddox talked about his commentary debut last week on Main Event, Show delivered the KO Punch to Ryder. Show ended Ryder’s and Maddox’s night with a quick pin.

WINNER: Show at 0:51.

Post-match: Big Show put his foot on Ryder’s chest to provide a visual of what he’s going to do to Del Rio at the Rumble. Show, doing Big E. Langston’s five-count gimmick, tried to count to ten to demonstrate the Last Man Standing finish. But, he stopped at five when the crowd What?’ed him. Show angrily threw down his mic and said he’s done with this.

Up Next: Ryback vs. Heath Slater.

[Commercial Break]

[Q4] Locker Room: Paul Heyman was on the phone telling someone that Rock is not making it inside the arena tonight. Brad Maddox then barged in with Carson, his cameraman. Apparently Maddox’s night is not over. Maddox said he has wanted to be famous since a kid, just like Heyman. Heyman said he appreciates Brad’s ambition and drive. He said he was wrong about him, then told Maddox to stick with him because he’ll make him famous. Brad then turned to sign off for his YouTube Experience. Heyman, with the wheels turning on a Maddox Plan, turned to resume his phone conversation.


As Ryback entered the ring, Cole said Slater believes he has a chance to beat Ryback because 3MB is on a roll. Once the bell sounded, Ryback was greeted by scattered “Goldberg” chants. Ryback then dropped Slater with a spinebuster before delivering the meathook clothesline. Drew McIntyre was knocked off the apron, then Ryback threw Jinder Mahal into the ring. Ryback proceeded to smash Mahal into McIntyre, leaving Slater alone in the ring. Ryback hoisted Slater into the air before delivering Shell-Shock. It was good for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Ryback at 1:20. Mystique is long gone, so this was a pure squash to set him up as a favorite for the Rumble.

Post-match: Ryback said his job is fun. He then noted this Sunday is his first Rumble match – a match he was made for, will thrive on, and the match that will lead him to the main event of WrestleMania. “Feed Me More!” he shouted toward the crowd, which followed along.

Backstage: More Rock vs. The Cops. Rock said he needs to get in the middle of the ring tonight. He told the three cops that he understands protect and serve, but they need to understand they are here to protect the people, not Vickie Guerrero. Rock said they all work hard for what they earn; the fans worked hard to buy a ticket to see Rock. The cops nodded along as Rock painted a picture, drawing a smile from Cop #3. The cops listened to “Rocky, Rocky” chants inside the arena before Cop #3 noted he bought tickets to this show, and his family is sitting in the crowd.

Rock was prepared to purchase the cop’s ticket, but Vickie interrupted. Vickie told the cops to arrest Rock, but Cop #1 told Vickie that he hasn’t broken any rules. Vickie, on a power-trip, vowed to suspend the S.J. cops, then Vickie told Rock that he will stand here while C.M. Punk speaks next. Unless…Rock apologizes and she will lift his ban. Rock said she needs to understand that she still looks horrible, and…Vickie screamed and stomped off before hearing Rock’s full explanation. Rock then told the cops that he has a plan.

[Commercial Break]

Next Monday: Raw Roulette returns from Las Vegas.

-C.M. Punk Pre-Rumble Promo: Back live, Cult of Personality played to bring out WWE champion C.M. Punk. Cole wondered aloud if Punk will still be champion next Monday. That should be hyped as a huge deal with Punk’s title streak on the line. As Punk and Heyman slowly came to the ring, Cole plugged Rock’s cover-story in the latest WWE Magazine.

[Q5 — second hour] At the top of the hour, Punk spoke from behind a hoodie covering most of his head. Punk clutched the title belt and said this is his life’s work. He said he has proven to be The Man for 428 days. He said that is only a fraction of how long he worked to attain the title. Punk said this is the most prestigious title WWE has to offer and he will not allow The Rock or any man to take this from him.

Punk removed his hoodie and very slowly said Rock is here to entertain, electrify, sing songs, and tell jokes, but he is here to hurt people and be The Champ. Punk said he will not allow Rock to leave the Rumble as WWE champion because this title is important to him. “It’s important because I have made it important,” Punk claimed. Punk said what’s prestigious to Rock is the most meaningless thing imaginable – the people. Punk said the people, cheers, chants, signs, and adulation are meaningless. Punk said Rock is almost as proud of that as he is being a real champion.

Punk continued that he will not allow Rock to become WWE champion. He said he’s looked Rock square in the eyes and realized that Rock knows he can’t beat him. “Rocky, Rocky” chant interrupted. Punk said a long time ago, he was forced to make a decision between hypocritical humility and honest arrogance. He said he chose arrogance, but Rock chose the people. Punk said Rock can be called all kinds of nicknames, but they cannot call him champion.

Punk’s tone and pace picked up. He said no one can take the WWE Title from him because he earned it with blood, sweat, and tears. “I have earned the right to be The Man!” he declared. Punk said Rock is on a collision course with him for six days. He told Rock to enjoy being People’s Champ, the People, the cheers, the chants, and the signs because he realized a long time ago that the people don’t matter. Punk said the title is all that matters. Punk said it doesn’t matter if he smells what Rock is cooking in six days. He said the People can’t help Rock take the title, and it will remain around the Best in the World’s waist. Punk then held the title belt in the air before Cult of Personality played. Cole talked up Punk being confident; Lawler said he’s arrogant.

Still to come: John Cena addresses the Royal Rumble.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Dolph Ziggler’s music played back from break. Out came Ziggler, A.J. Lee, and Big E. Langston for the second Beat the Clock challenge match. The Miz was introduced next to face Dolph in the latest installment of the Battle for Cleveland. Before the bell sounded, WWE replayed Ric Flair giving the figure-four leglock to Miz last week on Raw. Cole played up Miz’s Fantasy Camp moment receiving the figure-four after growing up a Flair fan. When does Miz’s real childhood hero Ultimate Warrior return to give Miz the tassels and gorilla press slam?


4 — DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/A.J. Lee and Big E. Langston) vs. THE MIZ

Miz tried early pin attempts, but Ziggler escaped. Ziggler came back with a neckbreaker for a two count. Ziggler slapped on a sleeperhold as A.J. watched longingly from the outside. Miz broke free, then popped Ziggler’s left knee. This led to Miz beginning to soften up Ziggler’s knee for the figure-four. Miz teased it, which drew Flair cheers (as opposed to the crowd reacting favorably to Miz), but Ziggler kicked Miz to the outside. On the floor, Big E. ran over Miz behind the ref’s back. Ziggler then slowed things down in the ring before Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Ziggler was in the middle of a mathold. This is a Beat the Clock Challenge, right? Miz broke free, then the two men started a sequence of nearfall exchanges. Miz then unloaded on Ziggler with left-hand strikes before nailing a corner attack. Miz wanted a top-rope double axehandle, and connected, but Ziggler kicked out of a pin. Miz checked the clock, then the two men engaged in another pinfall exchange.

With 2:00 remaining on the clock, the two men reset. Miz wanted Reality Check, but Ziggler escaped. Miz then slapped on the figure-four center-ring. Seeing Dolph in trouble, A.J. hopped on the ring apron to distract the ref while Big E. yanked Ziggler underneath the ropes. This forced Miz to break the hold once the ref returned to the action. Big E. then threatened Miz again, which stopped Miz in his tracks. This also gave Ziggler an opening to drop Miz with Zig-Zag from behind. Ziggler covered Miz for the win.

WINNER: Ziggler at 10:56 to set the new BTC time to beat. Fine singles match, but Miz isn’t clicking as a face. The “Ric Flair, Jr.” treatment is not a proven method to help.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler plugged the Royal Rumble Fanfest debuting this year. Cole noted Lawler will be part of the Superstars Shoot panels.

Up next: Anger Management Graduation. Dr. Shelby will give Kane and Daniel Bryan their props.

[Commercial Break] […Q7]

[…Q7] In-ring: A graduation deal was set up in the ring. At the podium was Dr. Shelby dressed in a ceremonial cap and gown. Dr. Shelby said he is so proud of Kane and Daniel Bryan. He noted these are the first two graduates of his Anger Management course, then introduced WWE tag champs Team Hell No. Kane’s pyro shot off to bring out Kane and Bryan dressed in matching gowns. Bryan looked creepy with his hair slicked back to sell the “formality” of the graduation.

Dr. Shelby said they should examine how far Kane and Bryan have become. Shelby noted Kane preferred hurting to hugging when they first started. He said Bryan was a tightly-wound manchild. Shelby added some more insults serving as a reminder of where Bryan came from. But now Bryan is calm, peaceful, and ready to graduate. Kane received his cap, then Bryan as well. Shelby turned the tassel to the graduation side as Cole chuckled in the background.

Dr. Shelby returned to the podium to note the top student is usually chosen to give a speech providing his or her feelings. Shelby said he does not give grades, so he asked them to decide who should be valedictorian. Kane said it’s obvious it should be…Daniel. Daniel responded, “No!” He calmed down and said it should be Kane. They went back-and-forth about who should talk about his feelings. Shelby cut off the argument as Cole made a strange noise on commentary. Shelby then asked Bryan if a hug would make him feel better. How about you, Kane? “I guess,” he mumbled.

Shelby said everyone, everywhere should hug at the same time. “Every-one?” Bryan asked like a fourth-grader. Kane said Cole and Lawler should hug, too. Cole was ready to go along with it, but Lawler not so much. Cole then stood up and opened his arms wide before Lawler slowly hugged him. Bryan said Dr. Samson and Justin Roberts should also hug. They hugged. Bryan and Kane then called out members of the audience to hug. Kane, Bryan, and Shelby yelled over each other to hug, then they had one giant mid-ring. Bryan’s music then played as Bryan, Kane, and Shelby jumped up and down together in the ring to conclude this campy segment.

Still to come: Something serious…well, maybe…John Cena addresses the “prestigious” Royal Rumble and making 2013 his year.

[Commercial Break]

[Q8] Replay: Kaitlyn captured the Divas Title from Eve on last week’s Raw. Then, Eve “quit.”

5 — Divas champion KAITLYN vs. ALICIA FOX — non-title match

A. Fox was in the ring back from break. Kaitlyn was then introduced for non-title action as Cole recapped Kaitlyn winning her first Divas Title in her hometown of Houston last week. The announcers did not totally ignore Eve post-WWE, as Lawler spent some time wondering why Eve “went off the deep-end” and quit. Kaitlyn made short work of Fox, continuing her momentum as champion.

WINNER: Kaitlyn at 2:15. So, when does Layla turn heel to give Kaitlyn someone to feud with?

Backstage: Heyman and Punk were shown walking down the hallway. Heyman said he has reserved a skybox for Punk to watch him deliver a personal message to Rock in the next segment. Heyman vowed to deliver a “PaulBomb,” then led Punk away to find his skybox.

[Commercial Break]

-Back from break, Paul Heyman was in the ring. Heyman shouted out to C.M. Punk watching from a distance, then said he serves as advisor and helper to Punk. Heyman said when Punk was out here earlier, he felt like most of what Punk said went over the heads of the audience. Las Vegas Pipebomb flashback. Heyman said he will speak simply and in short sentences to make Punk’s message even clearer to the audience. Heyman assured the audience that Rock will not leave the Rumble as champion.

Heyman said Vince McMahon is a desperate tyrant who wants someone else to be WWE champion. It just so happens that January’s flavor of the month is The Rock. Heyman said in six days, Rock will be fighting Punk, not himself. He said that just like the people, The Rock is stoooopid.

Suddenly, Rock’s music played four minutes before the top of the hour. Cole noted Rock was banned from the building tonight, then Rock came out on-stage and flashed a ticket. So, everyone with a ticket gets their own ring entrance, can come out on-stage, and pose for the crowd without security tackling them and escorting them out of the building? Does that come with the $599 VIP Experience package?

Rock then marched to the ring and posed for the crowd as Heyman backed away from Rock inside the ring. Once Rock’s music stopped, Rock thanked the San Jose P.D. for their help. Heyman then noted that ticket does not allow Rock to — not one for logic, Rock cut off Heyman and told “Twinkie twits” to shut up and get out of his ring. Heyman obliged, then Rock turned his attention toward Punk, who was sitting comfortably atop the arena.

Rock looked toward Punk and said he has been King of the Mountain for 428 days. He said he knows how tough and dangerous Punk is and has earned the right to be called BITW, but it does not change the fact that right here tonight is Punk’s last Raw as WWE champion.

[Q9 — third hour ] Rock continued that Punk is obsessed with how he entertains the people and is the People’s Champion. But, when you take it all away, it does not change the fact that he will stand in front of Punk no matter in the ring or on the street and “rip your face off.” Rock said he has waited ten long years for this title shot. He said just like MLK had a dream, he has a dream to go back to the Promised Land one more time and become WWE champion. Up in the skybox, Punk looked unimpressed mixed with sleepy.

“Punk, if you looked into The Rock’s soul, like you said you saw, then you know deep down in your soul that I promised to beat you at the Royal Rumble for the WWE Title.” Rock said when that is done this Sunday, every man, woman, and child will be saying, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last.” Rock signed off, “If You Smell What The Rock Is Cooking!” Cole and Lawler noted Rock just promised to win the WWE Title at the Rumble.

Suddenly, the lights went down and the crowd went dark. When the lights came back on, The Shield was taking it to The Rock. Rock fought back, but Shield used their numbers advantage to drop Rock to the mat. They continued to put the boots to Rock as Lawler noted this is not good for him this close to the Rumble. Reigns wanted the triple powerbomb and they delivered it center-ring. The crowd went quiet, selling shock over Shield taking out Rock.

Up in the skybox, Punk stood up and spoke into a mic that there’s only room for one man at the top of the mountain. Punk said it’s cute that Rock has a dream, but eventually he has to wake up from his. As Rock coughed up a red substance and drooled in the ring, Punk held up his title belt and said the Great One just won’t be good enough to beat the Best in the World. WWE stayed with a shot of Rock gasping for air as the crowd tried to rally him. Rock, his lips red, gathered himself and fell back to the mat before Raw faded to break.

[Commercial Break]

Video Package: Tonight, WWE honors a man who changed the course of a country, referring to Martin Luther King, Jr. Audio clips of King’s speeches were shown. The video focused on King’s most famous words, “I Have a Dream.”

Announcers: Cole and Lawler welcomed everyone back to Raw, with Cole noting MLK’s legacy. Next was a look back to Moments Ago when The Shield delivered a “vicious assault” to The Rock. Cole wondered aloud whether Shield attacking Rock was just a coincidence six days before Rock faces C.M. Punk at the Rumble. Cole said during the break, Rock was able to make it to his feet and exit the arena under his own power, but something has to be done about The Shield.

In-ring: Sheamus was introduced for the next Beat the Clock Challenge match. Cole said it’s the final BTC Challenge of the night. He said the winner has to beat Ziggler’s 10:56 to pick his Rumble entry spot. Wade Barrett then came out for the latest installment of the Battle for Europe.

6 — SHEAMUS vs. IC champion WADE BARRETT — non-title match — Beat the Clock Challenge

This feels like a potential draw situation where the match ends at 10:56 so WWE can avoid a winner and loser. Lawler again repeated the idea that whoever wins the Challenge would obviously pick #30. He set up for an “except for…,” which was that Sheamus and Barrett might want to get in early so they can fight and get loose. Neither wrestler demonstrated a sense of urgency to score a pin early on, which is at least more understandable than in the previous two matches since Sheamus and Barrett know how much time they have to work with in the final BTC Challenge. Barrett dumped Sheamus over the top rope leading to break.

[Q10] [Commercial Break]

Back from break, Sheamus appeared to be taking a nap resting on the top turnbuckle. Barrett then woke him up with a kick to the gut that knocked Sheamus into the air, then down to the mat. WWE showed Dolph Ziggler watching the match intently, then Sheamus teased a comeback with 4:15 left on the clock. Moments later, Sheamus built momentum before taking a look at the clock. Sheamus then set up Barrett for ten forearm strikes against the ropes and connected with all ten. A nearfall led to Sheamus checking the clock again.

With 3:00 remaining, Sheamus wanted White Noise, but Barrett escaped. Barrett then wanted Wasteland, but Sheamus blocked. Barrett avoided the Brogue Kick, then Barrett popped Sheamus in the face for a close two count. Barrett followed with an elbow to the heart for a nearfall with 2:00 remaining. Sheamus came back with White Noise, then looked at the clock instead of making a cover. Sheamus decided he wanted a home-run via Brogue Kick, then Dolph, A.J., and Big E. sprinted down to ringside. A.J. entered the ring, then walked right out. Barrett suddenly dropped Sheamus with Winds of Change, but it was only good for a two count.

With 30 seconds remaining, Barrett and Sheamus tried to collect themselves as Dolph encouraged both men to stay down. With ten seconds left, the two men struggled to their feet. Sheamus then smashed Barrett with the Brogue Kick, but there wasn’t enough time for Sheamus to make a cover. The clock expired, giving Ziggler the Beat the Clock victory.

WINNER: Draw at 10:56.

Post-match: Ziggler celebrated, then hightailed it to the top of the stage with A.J. and Big E. as Sheamus fumed inside the ring. After a replay of how A.J. provided a distraction that cost Sheamus the match, they cut back to Ziggler and Co. celebrating on-stage. Apparently Ziggler is not going to announce his entry position here.

Still to come: John Cena addresses the WWE audience.

[Commercial Break]

[Q11] Backstage: Vickie Guerrero was standing by. Dolph, A.J., and Big E. then barged in for Dolph to celebrate in Vickie’s face. Dolph said he might choose #30 or #27, which has produced the most Rumble winners. Vickie cut off his bragging and said she did not mean he gets to pick whatever number he wants, but from the numbers she gives him. Which would be…#1 or #2. Vickie smiled and walked off as Ziggler freaked out, egg on his face after winning the Challenge.

[ JC: What is Vickie Guerrero’s character? She’s pivoting too much from antagonizing faces to giving heels comeuppance to be consistent, which makes it difficult to get strong heat on anyone. ]

Earlier Tonight: The Shield took out The Rock.

Backstage: Paul Heyman and C.M. Punk were shown talking in the hallway before Mr. McMahon walked in. McMahon said they’re both pretty clever. After Punk denied any involvement with The Shield, McMahon said if Shield is clever-enough to get involved in Punk vs. Rock at the Royal Rumble, there will be some “pretty severe consequences.” As Punk and McMahon argued over each other, Heyman interrupted. Heyman said it’s been a long day with the flight to the West Coast, so let’s calm down. Heyman noted Shield has attacked Rock, Sheamus, Orton, Kane & Bryan, and Ryback. So, there’s no evidence linking Punk and Shield. McMahon said that better be the case because if Shield interferes in Punk’s match, then he will strip Punk of the WWE Title. McMahon walked off as Punk clutched his title belt and Heyman whispered, “I warned you about him.”

[Commercial Break]

Next Week: Raw Roulette live from Las Vegas.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler recapped “breaking news” in the previous segment that if Shield gets involved in Rock-Punk on Sunday, then McMahon will strip Punk of the WWE Title.

In-ring: Justin Roberts introduced Ricardo Rodriguez, who came out on-stage with a Mexican flag bucket in-hand. To no music, Ricardo formally introduced Alberto Del Rio, pausing to allow the audience to scream “Del Rio” in unison. Del Rio’s music then played to bring out the World Hvt. champion. Smilin’ Del Rio shook hands and greeted fans on the way to the ring before WWE cut to a quick shot of Tensai already in the ring. Poor guy.

7 — World Hvt. champion ALBERTO DEL RIO vs. TENSAI — non-title match

Tensai angrily attacked Del Rio as soon as the bell sounded, apparently thinking this is a Beat the Clock Challenge match. Poor guy. Tensai even delivered a Vader Bomb in the first 35 seconds of the match, but Del Rio kicked out of a pin attempt. Del Rio then head-scissored Tensai across the ring. He followed with a belly-to-back suplex before Ricardo warmed up the crowd with Si, Si, Si chants. This led to Del Rio nailing a running enziguiri in the corner. Del Rio followed with a moonsault for the win.

Post-match: World Series winner Sergio Romo was shown sitting ringside. Del Rio then took the mic and declared a ten-count will be rendered on Big Show…in Spanish. Del Rio led the crowd in counting to diez in Spanish. “Si, Si, Si!” Ricardo chanted, “borrowing” D-Bryan’s gimmick. So, does Del Rio team with Bryan and Kane in a six-man tag match on Smackdown?

WINNER: Del Rio at 1:31.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler plugged WrestleMania Axxess tickets going on-sale this Saturday. Lawler said this is his favorite time of the year with so much going on. Cole then talked up the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony the night before WrestleMania.

[Q12] This led to a video package on the second HOF inductee. WWE went to an old-school MSG clip to introduce the inductee, which led to a shot of Bob Backlund walking down the aisle. The voice-over man noted Backlund’s first WWE Title reign being second only to Bruno Sammartino in length, then WWE showed clips of Backlund feuding with Bret Hart in the mid-1990s.

Back live, Cole said Backlund was the reason why he really enjoyed “wrestling” and sports entertainment growing up. Lawler said Bob is coming back, and inside Madison Square Garden.

Backstage: John Cena was shown walking down the hallway. He gives his State of the Rumble address next.

[Commercial Break]

-Cena Rumble Promo: Back from break, John Cena’s music played to bring out WWE’s top star ten minutes before the top of the hour. Cena entered the ring with hands on hips surveying the crowd before he accepted a mic and looked into the crowd again. Once his music stopped, Cena listened to the crowd, which was mixed, as usual. Cena said it’s a lively bunch tonight before pausing to listen to the crowd again.

Cena said on the seventh day, there was rest. He said everyone enjoys Sundays. You can do what you want, then he pointed out a kid in the crowd, noting he gets a day off from school. Cena paused and said this kid is ruining his video game life. He then gave out a fake screen-name of Skidmarks187. Cena then pointed out a mid-20s lady in the crowd. He said he suspects the lady’s Sunday is usually re-living Saturday. Cena went through an entire day in the life before noting the bump in the road is that the guy she met last night is…right over here. Cena said he has re-lived this guy’s Sunday morning many times: wake up at 1:30 surrounded by bodily fluids. Cena said it usually includes a receipt for alcohol and blow-up dolls. And, you found out you Bret Favre’d yourself on Facebook. Quite the dated reference.

Cena said everyone knows that all of that doesn’t matter…this Sunday. Because it’s the Royal Rumble and it’s the golden ticket to WrestleMania. Unlike other Sundays, this Sunday is when history is made. Cena said this Sunday is an all-out war. He said this Sunday is when the video games are paused, the yoga is done at home, and the hang-overs wait until Sunday night. Cena said all eyes fall on the Royal Rumble this Sunday. He said the whole world will find out what he already knows…pause for a mix of silence and a few light pro/against Cena chants…”This Sunday, I will win the Royal Rumble!”

Cena’s music played, but Sheamus’s music interrupted. Sheamus came out and called that a bizarre, yet passionate speech. He said the man who is going to win the Rumble is the man who won it last year. Suddenly, Prime Time Players entered themselves into the Rumble by interrupting on-stage. Titus O’Neil blew his whistle at Cena, then D-Young said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Randy Orton, sporting some awkward facial hair, said he didn’t come out here to dance, but to inform everyone that he will win the Rumble. Miz was out next to annoy the crowd. “Really?!” Miz said, with his elbow resting on his hand. Miz vowed to win the Rumble, then go on to main-event WrestleMania again.

[Q13 — over-run] Kane’s pyro interrupted Miz at the top of the hour to bring out Kane and Daniel Bryan. Bryan asked Kane if all these people are really arguing over the Rumble. He repeated himself, then Kane said he thinks this is quite childish. Bryan then vowed to win the Rumble. Their argument was interrupted by U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro. Cesaro spoke over his music that the greatest U.S. champion is going to win the Rumble. In the background in the ring, Cena was spotted talking to the cameraman about something.

3MB’s music played next. Drew McIntyre said all of these guys are delusional. Jinder Mahal said they will make history. Suddenly, mid-card wrestlers spilled out from the back to fill the ring. A big brawl broke out, including short-haired Curt Hawkins. JTG snuck in there. Cole said it’s a preview of the Rumble. Even Alex Riley found a spot. Great Khali was in there. Mike McGillicutty, too. Bodies started flying to demonstrate the Rumble process. Not much of a crowd reaction for the annual chaotic PPV preview. Meanwhile, bodies continued to fly. Cole said WrestleMania hangs in the balance for the Rumble winner. Ryback was briefly shown as Raw signed off three minutes past the top of the hour.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Tough to grade this show since it was all over the place. Did it ultimately do anything to enhance the Rumble PPV? Arguably not much. It more or less reinforced what was already in-play, didn’t really create much excitement for the Rumble match when so many nobodies filled the ring at the end of the show, and John Cena’s promo was so chaotic that many people might have slammed the door in his face before he got to his big selling point.

Rock-Punk didn’t seem to hit that big crescendo, either. Rock had a passionate promo, but there still wasn’t that sense of “why” he must win the title for himself, not just to snuff out Punk’s flame by ending his reign. The added stipulation of Punk being stripped of the title if Shield interferes will surely help, since it tells viewers that it will be an even playing field for Rock to potentially win the title, but it’s also more of a satisfying accomplishment if Rock “beats the odds” and overcomes adversity to win the title. So, the whole thing is mixed. It’s the Rumble, and most wrestling fans will watch because it’s the Rumble, so not much damage was done, but I didn’t feel they moved any fence-sitters off the fence tonight.

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