We have arrived at the go-home show for the Royal Rumble, and the long-awaited return of “The Animal” Batista.
The Authority promo/Randy Orton promo/Return of Batista
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are already in the ring, as Triple H begins to hype this Sunday’s pay-per-view, more specifically the match itself. Triple H then begins to introduce Batista, before Randy Orton interrupts. Orton is not pleased and he questions The Authority, but Stephanie comes right back at him. She is not pleased with his attack on John Cena’s father last week. She threatens Orton’s championship and spot on the roster if he doesn’t shape up. Orton says he wouldn’t be this way if it wasn’t for The Authority because they don’t reward him for being champion and have done nothing but punish and disrespect him. Triple H, using a calm voice, begins to pick Orton apart, but he does it to inspire Orton to get his act together and puts Orton in a rematch with Kofi Kingston. He puts it on Orton to make things right with Cena, and stresses he must do all these things alone, when out comes “The Animal”.
After Batista does his entrance, he receives hugs from Triple H and Stephanie before they leave him and Orton alone in the ring. Batista begins to address Orton and the questions Orton has about his return. Batista points to the two titles in Orton’s hands. He says he will win the Rumble, and headline WrestleMania, no matter who is champion.
My Take: Stephanie has been so good throughout this whole storyline. Both Stephanie and Triple H do a good job of playing faces who are really heels, it’s a very fine line and a character that doesn’t usually work, but these two have walked that line very well for months. It seems like Orton has a long night ahead of him.
Batista was short and sweet, he’s here for the title and and to main event WrestleMania, this moment was exactly what it needed to be. Well done.
The Rhodes Brothers and Big E Langston vs. The Shield
Good showing from all six men. Seth Rollins always gets picked apart in these matches, but this time he actually gets the pin on Big E with the Blackout.
My Take: These six men are all so charismatic and bring so much to a match. Rollins getting the pin is a bit unusual, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose have always been stars more than him, but as they start to break apart from each other, Rollins is going to need to emerge as more of a force than he has been in the past.
Daniel Bryan promo/Bray Wyatt promo
Before Monday’s Raw, PWInsider reported that Bryan was cleared to compete following the concussion he suffered at the end of last week’s show.
Bryan says he had a plan all along. He joined The Wyatt Family because in order to take down Bray Wyatt, he had to attack him mentally and psychologically, as well as physically. Bryan reveals that only Harper and Rowan will be in the Royal Rumble match, and Bryan says that’s perfect because it allows for Bray to go one-on-one with Bryan.
Bray appears on screen to address Bryan. Bray calls Bryan a traitor and says that he will no longer show mercy to Bryan, and everything that happens to Bryan from here on out will be his own fault. Bryan’s so over that, at times, the crowd was drowning out what Bray was saying with “Daniel Bryan” chants.
My Take: Bryan did a good job here, he’s not the best talker but he can do what needs to be done with a mic in his hand. Bray is great, but I like that when they showed him on the titan tron, we could not see Rowan and Harper. It appears we will be getting this match, which might be the most interesting match at the pay-per-view.
Fandango vs. Xavier Woods (R-Truth on commentary)
Fandango won this very quickly with top rope leg drop. Emma from NXT is seen in the crowd yet again.
My Take: Why did they even call Xavier Woods up if this is what they are going to do with him? If he was a comedic figure that would be one thing, but he doesn’t even have time to build a personality. Emma again, I love her on NXT and she deserves a call-up soon.
Brad Maddox, Kane and Stephanie McMahon backstage
Maddox and Kane are talking about Batista, when Stephanie enters and asks Maddox to leave the room. McMahon calls out Kane for chokeslamming CM Punk on SmackDown, he apologizes but she demands he apologize to Punk. Kane reluctantly agrees.
My Take: This is how I thought they would handle this. Punk’s not likely to accept the apology, I would think.
Kane’s in-ring apology/CM Punk promo
Kane comes to the ring and asks Punk to come to the ring. Kane apologizes for letting his emotions get the best of him. Punk eggs on Kane, joking that he didn’t hear him. Kane apologizes again, Punk then apologizes in return before attacking Kane. Brad Maddox comes out and makes a match between Punk and one of The New Age Outlaws.
My Take: We haven’t seen the last of Punk/Kane, but it’s a pay-per-view encounter that should lead to Punk/Triple H at WrestleMania.
Billy Gunn vs. CM Punk (Road Dogg on commentary)
Gunn loses “rock, paper, scissors” and enters the ring to take on Punk. Road Dogg was pretty good on commentary, until Punk surprised him with an attack and took him out. Punk wins with the GTS. Post-match, Kane came out and announced Punk would enter the Royal Rumble as the #1 entrant.
My Take: The Outlaws are good heels, their prime came at a time when even heels acted like faces, so it’s more what they’re used to. Good win for Punk. It’s a good move to have anti-establishment faces enter first, it just makes sense.
Mae Young Tribute
Stephanie McMahon narrates this look at Mae Young’s career.
My Take: A fun look at Mae Young’s career, featuring kisses with much younger Superstars, powerbombs from The Dudley Boyz, and moments from her Hall of Fame speech. Extremely well done video.
Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio
Really good match, Del Rio gets the win with the Cross Arm Breaker. As Del Rio celebrates, Batista makes his way to the ring. Del Rio tries to fake out Batista, but Batista does not fall for it. He hits a spinebuster and the Batista Bomb.
My Take: I really don’t think this match needed to happen again. It’s just a way for Del Rio to go over before he enters the Royal Rumble and does whatever he ends up doing with Batista. I’ve got no problem with Del Rio’s in-ring ability, the guy is good, but he doesn’t connect at all with the crowd, and that never seems to change. Rey tapped out way too fast here.
As for the Batista encounter, not much of a surprise. Side note: The Batista Bomb does not look as good in skinny jeans.
Big Show and Brock Lesnar Face-to-Face
Big Show makes fun of Paul Heyman. He is the worst face ever. Heyman comes out, followed by Lesnar. The two walk down to the ring, then return to the back. Big Show calls them back out and they emerge with Lesnar entering the ring this time. Show literally threw Lesnar out of the ring, that was impressive.
My Take: I actually hate Big Show, the Heyman impression wasn’t funny at all. Faces shouldn’t be doing stuff like this. Heyman is so good. I’m not the biggest Brock Lesnar fan, but he can really excite a crowd. He is a good performer, he may not be the best talker, but he has good facial expressions. Lesnar looked scared for this segment, which I don’t like. It’s toug to believe a heel can go over when he looks that scared.
AJ Lee and Tamina Snuka vs. The Funkadactyls
Tamina comes to the ring covered in cake after a mishap at AJ’s party to celebrate her record title reign. Naomi gets the win with a roll-up on AJ.
My Take: I think the WWE made Naomi a huge star and forgot to tell everybody.
The Usos vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan
The most important part of this match was Bray Wyatt’s promo, and Bryan’s subsequent attack. Wyatt talked about how he will punish Daniel Bryan. A few minutes later, Bryan came down the ramp and attacked Bray. As Harper went to go help Bray, The Usos won with a roll-up.
My Take: This was a bit of a step back for The Usos. Harper and Rowan have plenty of room for improvement, and this match certainly proved that.
Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston/John Cena and Randy Orton confrontation
This match is intense. If Kingston’s rumored new direction is going to work, his opponents have to take him more seriously, and Orton did a good job of that here.
Cena came out to deal with Orton. They roamed into the audience, up the steps and into a luxury suite, brawling the whole way. They went out onto the concourse and outside, when Orton climbed into the passenger seat of a car and drove off.
My Take: I’m skeptical of Kingston being taken more seriously. The WWE has been wary of that in the past because he is so over with a younger audience, but they seem ready to do it now. I just wish he could have got a pin here before Cena got involved, even if it was a roll-up while Orton was distracted.
This was an interesting interaction. Kingston got left with nothing, he was just standing there rooting for Cena, so that was bad. Cena and Orton was entertaining though. It was intense, but it was fun. If security does a good job keeping the fans out of it, going into the crowd can bring a lot to an encounter. Orton climbing into a car was a bit unexpected, but fun, and could be a part of the storyline going forward.
This was a good go-home show. Good build to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, good build to Brock Lesnar and Big Show, and good build to Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt. This is the easiest pay-per-view to build to, because the one match takes up most of the show, but this was still a good showing from WWE and I am very excited as we move towards Sunday.
What did you think? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments section below.