The Road to Wrestlemania is in full swing. Dave Batista won the Royal Rumble, but Brock Lesnar stepped up to him last week and challenged either him or Randy Orton to a fight on Raw. Later, Paul Heyman came out and said that he wouldn't get either of them on Raw. Will there be a match at Elimination Chamber?
And over the past week, the Elimination Chamber match appears to be set. Randy Orton will defend his title against Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, John Cena, Christian, and Antonio Cesaro. Will one of those men be taken out by Brock Lesnar? Will the Authority throw out the results of last week's main event and change the match?
(Editorial note: Gonna be honest, a little tired and under the weather tonight, so it's "stream of consciousness" night for me. We'll break it down more thoroughly in Raw Afterthoughts tomorrow and on RingRap Audio later this week.)
Show Open, Live from Omaha, NE
Show opens up somewhat cold as Randy Orton’s music hits. He’s going to cut a promo as the announcers check in. Cole hypes up the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match inside Elimination Chamber. Orton talks about how he is the champion due to dominance. He asks how many times he has to beat each of the men he will face in the Chamber.
The fans are audibly chanting for CM Punk. Orton’s promo isn’t very exciting to them, I guess. WWE is trying to stifle that a bit with audio levels.
Orton says he will win at the Elimination Chamber, and go on to Wrestlemania and beat “that jacked up muscle bound genetic freak” Batista. He’s a little smaller these days though, Randall, pay attention. He talks about how they were equals in Evolution, but it’s been a long time and he is simply better. He labels himself as the main attraction of Raw.
Cue “King of Kings” and here comes Triple H and Stephanie. Steph asks if Orton is going to let the people get to him, and if he’s going to bite the hand that feeds him. Trips says that Orton says the same thing every week about how he faces impossible odds and how he’s been treated so poorly.
Hunter says he doesn’t expect those kinds of words from the face of WWE and asks if they should put their faith in someone else. Stephanie goes on to say that Orton will face each of the five men he is to face in the Chamber match in one on one matches, starting tonight. She says that they may have to consider this first man as the new face of WWE…”and I can’t believe I’m saying this…” and books Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton. Triple H leads “yes!” chants, despite the fact he has gone against Bryan so much.
We get highlights of the New Age Outlaws defeating Cody Rhodes and Goldust in the worst title change ever at the Royal Rumble. Thank Matt Hester for that comment. The announcers hype up the cage match for later, with the match decided either by pinfall or submission.
Orton seems more inspired than usual, but he’s a broken record. The cage match rules are interesting and add a nice twist to the match.
The Shield makes their normal entrance through the crowd. They run a highlight from Smackdown where Triple H tried to tell them to drop their challenge to The Wyatts. Roman Reigns stepped up and told him they weren’t asking.
Match #1 – The Shield vs. Rey Mysterio, Big E. Langston, and Kofi Kingston
The only babyface entrance we got was Mysterio’s. He is over. He does his signature crowd-pleasing spots to a nice reaction. He gets caught with the comeback of The Shield and Reigns hits him with the Hart Attack clothesline.
Langston gets a hot tag a bit later and he goes on a flurry. He hits Reigns with a nice German suplex, and somewhere along the way Reigns got a cut above his eye. Reigns comes back with the Superman punch and sets up the spear, but Ambrose tags in and hits his finisher on Langston for the win. That wasn’t very nice.
Afterward, the Shield jaws among themselves. The Wyatts interrupt the tension. Bray says he’s going to build a kingdom by the sea. He likes seaside property, apparently. He will smile as his enemies drown too. Rowan leans in with the sheep mask on and tells them to run.
Teasing dissension gives The Shield the out if they lose to the Wyatts. And I’m not sure what’s going on with Langston…he gets good runs of offense but ends up taking the loss?
The announcers tell us that Seattle tweeted about Daniel Bryan. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” and all that.
Barrett has bad news for us. He says the Super Bowl was the most watched one ever, but his bad news is that fans shoved so much junk food down that they won’t survive til next week. King gets on the announce table and tells Barrett that the real bad news is that maybe Barrett won’t be around next week. That was pretty pointless.
Cole hypes the Network coming in Feburary, then tells us how to download the App if we didn’t know. He talks about how much money you’ll save if you buy the Network over buying the pay per views individually. So no more pirating, okay? He feeds it to a hype package for the Network’s “WWE Countdown” original program.
Batista is on the show tonight, and he will tell us who he wants to face at Wrestlemania. I assume that’s the title holder? I thought that was the case anyhow.
Christian makes his entrance to polite applause. He’s looking for one more match, next.
Match #2 – Christian vs. Jack Swagger (w/Antonio Cesaro and Zeb Colter)
Christian gets some early offense, the Swagger takes over for a bit. The commentators are commenhatin’ on each other. King says that if Zeb has to shave, he’ll need to do it twice and dynamite the stumps. There’s allegedly issues between the Americans, but no real play on them so far.
Back and forth we go. Swagger tries a jump off the rope but eats a boot. He tries a gutwrench suplex but Christian comes up with a nice counter. Christian tries a cross body block, but Swagger counters and Christian ends up in the Ankle Lock. Christian kicks him away. A few moments later, Christian uses a leap off the second rope into a sunset flip for the win.
Meh, no real development on the Colter slap, but the match was fine.
We get an explanation why the cage is in play for the tag title match. Brock Lesnar attacked Cody and Goldust during their rematch last week, hitting them with the F5 and lots of chair shots. The cage is on its way down, so that match is next.
Match #3 – The New Age Outlaws (c ) vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust; WWE Tag Team Championship, steel cage rules but match can only be won by pinfall or submission
NAO out first, and Billy Gunn is confused as to whether he’s supposed to be on the stage or the ramp. Road Dogg does his standard entrance gimmick, which if he’s supposed to be a heel doesn’t work since Omaha chants along. Suck it. Rhodes and Goldust come out next as King and Cole remind us how the NAO surprised us all by beating the champions. This one goes off, next.
Coming out of the break, Cole tells us Betty White will be next week’s guest host. Yes, Betty White.
Justin Roberts gives us introductions in the ring and we’re ready to go. Dogg is a chicken and tags in Gunn. More audible CM Punk chants as the match proceeds at a slow pace. Gunn works the arm as the plodding offense continues. They go to break with audible "We want Punk" chants.
Goldust is getting rag dolled into the cage and the Outlaws are controlling the offense out of break. Goldust hits Gunn with a handspring elbow and tries to get a tag but gets caught. He takes a vicious shot from Gunn for a near fall. The Outlaws continue to control.
JBL says the fans don't know who to cheer for. It's because of confusing booking, JBL. Cody gets a hot tag and works Gunn in a flurry of offense. He tries for Cross Rhodes but Dogg breaks it up. Goldust greets him with a powerslam. Rhodes tries the Disaster Kick and connects for a good near fall.
Rhodes looks around after his brother gets tossed into the cage. He transforms into Kurt Angle and goes to the top of the cage and hits a moonsault on Road Dogg. Problem is, Gunn was legal. Gunn hits the Fameasser and the NAO retain the titles.
The announcers replay it for us a couple times as Goldust consoles Rhodes in the ring. JBL admires him for what he did. We get to see it one more time. Going out to break the announcers hype up Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan for later and Batista talking about who he wants to face at Wrestlemania.
Match #4 - Zack Ryder vs. Titus O'Neil
Ryder's gonna get crushed. They run a Smackdown highlight of Titus attacking Darren Young. No more "millions of dollars" I guess. Young got rag-tagged around pretty hard, and had a bloody mouth. O'Neil smiles in the ring back live.
King says that maybe Ryder will change O'Neil's mind. Sure, King. Miz comes to the announce position to bitch about the two men in the ring. O'Neil is working over Ryder as Miz takes off. No one cares in the crowd about any of this. Titus locks on a bear hug to work over Ryder as JBL tells us that Young was dead weight.
Omaha wants Punk again, that's how disinterested they are in this one. Ryder gets in a couple shots and gets two then hits the Broski Boot. He tries a body block off the ropes but Titus counters with a couple backbreakers and a big spinebuster for the win.
Why should I give a damn about Miz's complaining? The character is pretty irrelevant, and he lost to Ziggler recently too. That spinebuster was flat nasty.
King hypes up Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan for the main event going to break.
Fandango is coming to the ring with Summer Rae. Summer Rae....sigh. Cole snaps me out of the moment with a feed to a highlight package for Black History Month, spotlighting Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd with his accomplishments on the football field and in WWE. Ladd is an AFL and WWE Hall of Famer. Nice moment.
Fandango and Summer are dancing in the ring. I love Summer...OK, enough of that. Santino Marella is his opponent. Marella tells Fandingo that he is a dancing machine and he learned three new moves that will blow him away. OK, this is terrible.
He supposes that the fans want to see a dance off between Summer and a member of the audience. He magically picks Emma from the audience. Summer goes first and does a few steps to Fandango's music. Believe it or not, there's an "Emma" chant. Marella introduces her.
She's the dancing queen, apparently, and she does her dance routine from NXT. There's zero reaction. Marella polls the audience, and Emma wins. Emmaloution is on the rise. Fandango and Summer are out and they're not happy. Cole chair dances it, and JBL says he's going to be sick.
Meh, I guess you had to introduce Emma somehow. Segment was a bit of a flop for me.
Cole gives us more hype for the Network, and sends it to a hype package for the Legends House original program. Cole reminds us that, starting with Wrestlemania 30, the pay per views are on the Network.
Sheamus makes his way to the ring. He loves to fight, and he gets his chance next.
Match #5 - Sheamus vs. Curtis Axel (w/Ryback)
Fans greet Ryback with "Goldberg" chants. He tells them to shut up, so they switch to CM Punk chants. Back and forth action in the early going, with Sheamus hitting a big running knee. By the ropes, Axel takes some shots at him but Sheamus is about to go a clubbering with the forearm shots and a clothesline that sends Axel to the floor. Ryback shouts encouragment.
Sheamus has no regard for his opponent, the announce table, or JBL's hat. Axel targets Sheamus' bad shoulder and throws him to the ring post. Axel does a springboard elbow as a sign gets spotted in the crowd that says "my other CM Punk sign got confiscated." The fans let Ryback know he sucks.
Axel continues to work the arm, and the fans continue to chant for CM Punk. Sheamus is getting pissed now though and here come the right hands from Sheamus. Sheamus on a run, hitting the Finlay Roll. He calls for the Brogue Kick and hits it, hard. Axel's done, but Ryback's still talking at him.
Cole asks if we're watching for the first time in Australia. No, I'm in America. But anyhow, it's Tuesday Afternoon Raw over there. JBL says that the Prime Minister isn't working while he watches.
They show Batista walking backstage, and we'll hear from him next.
Batista comes out and the announcers hype up that he's the 2014 Royal Rumble winner. He gets a mixed reaction from Omaha and he takes a moment to point out a positive fan sign on the entryway. He poses in the ring as Cole talks about his accomplishments.
Batista doesn't get to talk, because Alberto Del Rio comes out. "Before you put all these people to sleep with how you're going to headline Wrestlemania and who you're going to face, why don't we talk about our unfinished business."
Batista tells him that his return has nothing to do with Del Rio. Del Rio tells him that he says when they're done. Del Rio tells him that while Batista was sitting on his couch, he was winning titles. Cajones make champions. Pretty true.
Del Rio says Batista calls himself an animal but he's nothing more than a filthy chihuahua. Batista says he has no issue with Del Rio, but Del Rio takes a cheap shot. He stomps away a bit, but Batista comes back with a boot to the gut and tries to load the Batista Bomb. Del Rio escapes, and Batista flips out. He tells Del Rio if he wants it he has it.
I'm not all that excited about this possible match, but I suppose it gives Batista something to do while he awaits the winner of the Chamber match. Douche factor for Batista - 3 of 10, because of the pixie nose piercing. A substantial improvement over the 35 on his return debut.
Mark Henry's coming back next week. Along with Betty White. Will they make another hand together...oh, never mind.
Match #6 - R-Truth, Xavier Woods, and Dolph Ziggler vs. The Wyatt Family
The faces get their entrance prior to the break. They're dancing in the ring but things go dark. They're here. Lamb Mask is creepy in the glow of the LED lantern. Cole hypes their match against The Shield at Elimination Chamber.
Rowan attacks Xavier Woods. Big moves from Rowan but Woods gets a few strikes in and Truth tags in and they team up to get the big man down. Rowan takes back over and Harper tags in. That big boot is what's up, Truth. Gator Roll for Harper, while the fans chant for Ziggler.
Ziggler gets a tag in and goes off on Harper, hitting some elbows and a nice DDT. He gets his head taken off by a clothesline though. Wyatt tags in, hangs upside down in the corner for a moment, then hits Sister Abigail for the win. He hits his crucifix pose.
On the Tron, Ambrose appears to say he's scared of Wyatt. He tells Wyatt to take his haunted rocking chair somewhere else. Rollins calls Wyatt a figment of his own imagination. Reigns tells the Wyatts they're in the Shield's yard now and at Elimination Chamber they won't play games. Believe that, and believe in the Shield. Wyatt laughs and welcomes the war.
The post match was more entertaining than the match itself. Truth and Woods were protected by Ziggler taking the loss. Or something. Ziggler spoke out, so I guess that means he does the job.
Alexander Rusev cuts a promo, saying his legacy begins now. Lana is his valet and she says a few words. I wonder if they're bringing him up next.
Match #7 - Naomi (w/Cameron) vs. Aksana (w/Alicia Fox)
Doesn't take long for AJ and Tamina to come to the ring. She sits in on commentary and gives JBL his hat. Cole inquires about AJ facing Naomi and that she's pinned her twice. AJ kind-of-sort-of blames Tamina and says she was distracted by glitter and estrogen. Naomi does a leg scissor roll-around thing, then Aksana takes over.
Aksana takes control while there's some commenhatin' going on at the announce position. Aksana controls the action with a leg scissor. AJ says she'll grant anyone a title shot who earns it, "even the two cute blondes that were out here dancing earlier."
Naomi does a bit of twerking on Aksana's face. AJ says this is a PG program while JBL says that funk is on a roll and you can't stop funk. Moonsault from Naomi for the win, but Alicia Fox tries to attack. Cameron cuts her off then Naomi hits the rear view.
This was more about what was going on at the announce table than it was about what was going on in the ring. The in ring action was about average for what we get from the ladies.
Cole goads AJ about a title shot for Naomi, but AJ doesn't want to talk. The Funkadactyls dance as King shills the main event, up next!
62 days to Wrestlemania. 30-40 minutes left in this show. Let's wake this sleepy episode up.
Match #7 - Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
Bryan is the first man out and he wakes up this sleepy crowd with "yes!" chants. JBL says the "Yes Movement" is amazing. Orton comes out and Cole reminds us of the opening of the show where Orton says he is the best ever. Cole shows us the five men Orton will defend against at Elimination Chamber.
Orton's entrance takes so long that we're going to go back to commercial again.
Back and forth in the early going. Bryan takes shots on Orton at the ring post. He clubs his arm first, then hits a running drop kick on his knee which is wrapped around the post. Ouch! Cole says Orton is in the position because of the Authority. Bryan works over Orton's leg with a submission hold.
JBL rants about Cole thinking conspiracy theories as Cole lays out the times the Authority has been involved. Another CM Punk chant. Bryan continues to work the leg while the announcers continue to bicker.
Orton rolls out to regroup but Bryan goes out after him and attacks, then throws him into Cole. That's what you get for commenhatin'. The action goes back in the ring and Bryan goes after the leg again. Huracanrana off the ropes for two for Bryan. The announcers sell shock that Bryan has been so aggressive.
Let's go surfing, as Bryan tries to lock on a surfboard. Doesn't work, so Bryan just jumps on his knees. The offense is all centered on Orton's legs at this point. Half crab submission for Bryan. Orton claws to the ropes, which gets booed. Orton rolls out.
Bryan goes out to follow up but takes a back suplex into the barrier. He throws Bryan in and gets a two count. JBL says he's weathered the storm and King says it's almost a miracle. Slow methodical clubbing offense from Orton but Bryan turns it around momentarily. Bryan flips over a corner charge but runs the ropes right into a powerslam. Commercial.
Orton focuses his assault on Bryan's shoulder coming out of break. Ring post, then the stairs. Only gets a two count out of it though. Orton continues to work on the arm with a variety of shots then wraps his arm in the ropes. Fans chant for Bryan.
Orton continues to assault Bryan, then tries to perch up for a superplex. Bryan blocks it then takes shots on Orton and knocks him down. Missile drop kick for Bryan, but he lands on his sore shoulder. Both men are down. They get to their feet and exchange strikes - Bryan working Orton's leg, Orton going after the bad arm.
Orton leans down to pick Bryan up, but Bryan gets the Yes! Lock on. Orton can reach to the ropes with his leg to break it. Bryan fires up and hits two running drop kicks, but takes a drop kick from Orton on the third attempt. He throws Bryan on the apron and hits the elevated DDT.
Orton's hearing voices as JBL puts Orton over for being face of WWE and he's proving it to the Authority. Orton strikes the Viper Pose but Bryan counters. Flying headbutt from Bryan for a good near fall. Series of kicks from Bryan, but here comes Matt Hester's favorite guy, Kane.
Bryan hits him with a running drop kick and knocks him from the apron. Orton charges but Bryan pulls the ropes down, so Orton crashes. Bryan hits both men with a suicide dive then throws Kane into the stairs.
Back in the ring, Orton tries for the RKO, but Bryan ducks and hits Orton with the running knee. Bryan picks up the win over Orton.
Afterward, he celebrates with the fans. Orton crawls up on the apron and Bryan sees him. They exchange strikes, then Kane tries to get back involved. It's a 2-on-1 assault now, and they wear Bryan out. Kane hits Bryan with a chokeslam, and does his pyro bit. Orton holds the belts high, and Cole says that Bryan may have had a chance to prove himself to be the face of the company had the Authority not gotten involved. That's the show.
This was a good main event. It felt like it could have had a home on any pay per view in the middle of the card somewhere. They built well to a relatively shenanigans-free finish with Bryan picking up the clean victory. It would have been a bigger deal had Bryan not beaten Orton cleanly before. That aside, still a good match.
The rest of this show was pretty forgettable though. The live crowd was flat because they had nothing to really cheer about. The six-man tag between the Shield and the Wyatts seemed to build up a little but beyond that, there was nothing really stand-out about this show. It was just sort of "there".
Worth noting - no WWE mentions of CM Punk, though the live crowd chanted his name quite a bit.
I'll have more to say tomorrow evening in Raw Afterthoughts. Thanks for following along tonight, and be sure to check in later this week for more on Raw, and wrestling in general, on RingRap Audio. Interact on Twitter with us too and be sure to use the #AskRingRap tag to ask questions for this week's podcast!