The first Raw after an entertaining Royal Rumble began as expected — with an irate CM Punk storming to the ring, Walrus in tow, to declare that he had been screwed out of his world title. It was a fiery start to a Raw that unfortunately fizzled out for long, silly stretches. Broadcast from Las Vegas, the show was centered around the recurring Raw Roulette segments, which mainly resulted in (bad) comedy segments. Despite some interesting fallout from the Royal Rumble and a few compelling developments (especially in the last two minutes of the show), the Road to WrestleMania started off with some aggravating detours and dead-ends.
For the most part, what happened in Vegas should probably stay in Vegas. Here’s a rundown of the highlights, lowlights, and peculiar spins of the Raw Roulette wheel.
Best Match: Antonio Cesaro and Randy Orton kicked off the show on a high note with a long (by television standards) see-saw match that featured an entertaining mix of mat wrestling, hard-hitting action and near falls. Unfortunately, few segments of the “Raw Roulette” episode lived up to the standard set by this match.
Worst Match: The Las Vegas Showgirls Lumberjills Match between Tamina and Kaitlyn was unanimously regarded as terrible. It was so bad that someone backstage cued the generic Divas music to bring the debacle to a premature close, and the commentators openly made fun of it: “I promise folks, things are going to get better,” Michael Cole said afterward. Divas matches are rarely stellar, but this one was was especially difficult to endure.
Biggest Surprise of the Night: The long-absent Brock Lesnar appeared on the scene mere seconds before Vince McMahon “future endeavored” Paul Heyman. After some intense, suspenseful moments of silent staredowns, Lesnar delivered a textbook F5 to the chairman and the show went off the air with a satisfying cliffhanger.
Upset of the Night: NXT upstart Bo Dallas defeated Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett in true 1-2-3 Kid style, signaling that the 22-year-old rookie is officially getting his push in the big leagues.
Commentary Line of the Night: “I’ve got to get me one of those!” — JBL describing personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez.
Holy Sh** Moment of the Night: Damien Sandow crashed spine-first through a wooden table propped in the corner thanks to a forceful White Noise delivered by Sheamus. You can bet that the Intellectual Savior of the Masses will be nursing some tender ribs for a few days.
WTF Moment of the Night: It’s hard to decide which segment was the most perplexing because there was so much silliness. Khali attempting to sing karaoke was cringe-worthy. The Divas Lumberjill Match was so bad that all three commentators openly mocked it. And Tensai continued his never-ending slide from merciless monster to clueless clown when he participated in what he mistakenly believed to be a lingerie pillow fight. The Raw Roulette schtick proved that you should avoid gambling, because you’ll usually end up a loser.
Tweets of the Nights:
@WWECreative_ish: “WWE Karaoke. That’s right folks, we’re just phoning it in at this point.”
@WWETensai: “It’s entertainment folks. Love it or hate it you couldn’t look away. Btw, under wires suck!!”
Crowd Sign of the Night: During John Cena’s impassioned speech, in which he officially announced his intention to face the WWE Champion at WrestleMania, someone in the crowd held up a bright yellow sign emblazoned with two words: “Who Cares?” That cynicism and fatigue expressed likely represented the opinions of many fans who are not members of the Cenation.
Jobber of the Night: For a champion, Alberto Del Rio took an awfully one-sided beating from the Big Show. To be fair, he was expecting a “Body Slam Challenge,” and he instead got duct-taped to the middle ring rope. Poor Ricardo arguably got a much worse beating, and both Mexican muchachos were left KO’d in the ring by the angry giant.
LOL Moment of the Night: Due to a spin of the Raw Roulette wheel, Ryback was booked in a “Make Me Laugh” segment, which seemed like the beginning of a Tensai-like emasculation of Ryback. But he avoided becoming a laughingstock telling only a partial joke, then beating people up. He delivered a set-up — “What has four eyes, 20 fingers and is about to be unconscious?” — and then enacted the punchline by flattening the Prime Time Players.
Chant of the Night: While it was great to hear a “Thank You Sandow” chant during Damien’s table match with Sheamus, the most resounding and amusing chant of the night was “You got busted,” which thousands of fans hollered at Paul Heyman after he was exposed as a liar by hidden-camera footage.
Overall Lowlights: Tensai in lingerie; an especially unwatchable Divas train wreck; a silly series of Raw Roulette skits and contests; a mostly quiet and lethargic crowd in Las Vegas.
Overall Highlights: An excellent show-opening match between Randy Orton and Antonio Cesaro; more compelling mic work from CM Punk and The Rock (and Paul Heyman, too); a fantastic show-closing segment with Vince McMahon suffering an F5 at the hands of a returning Brock Lesnar.