Live from Dayton, Ohio this is the Raw Deal for episode #1078. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.

Raw began with a short video honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. since today is MLK Day in America.

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon aka The Authority began the show with a promo. Hunter spoke about how Sunday's Royal Rumble gives one man a main event match at WrestleMania for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Hunter sounded like he was going to introduce Batista, but before he could do that he was cut off by the music of Randy Orton. Orton walked down to the ring.

The WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton entered the ring with both titles as he talked to Hunter and Stephanie. He wondered who they thought they were. Stephanie said everybody was watching WWE because they're excited for the WWE Network. She tried to say people are watching WWE more than ever. That's some backwards logic right there. That led to a video package showing Orton attacking John Cena's dad last week on Raw.

Stephanie ripped on Orton for what he did last week in going after Cena's dad. She told him that wasn't acceptable and she threatened his job because of what he did. Orton complained about having to wrestle John Cena at the Rumble. He also complained about Brock Lesnar and Batista coming back as a way to put over the pressure he's under. He told Stephanie that there would be no network without Randy Orton. He said if he could do it all over again, he wouldn't change a thing. JBL said good thing Mr. Cena didn't press charges. Or that logic doesn't exist in WWE. I added that part.

Hunter told Orton that they made him the face of WWE because they believe in him. Hunter believed that Orton was good enough to overcome anything. Hunter brought up Orton losing to Kofi Kingston last week. He gave a fired up promo about how Orton did the cheap thing by punching an old guy in the face. He mentioned how guys like Cena, Lesnar and Batista are all looking at him right now. "You need to be a man. You need to fix what is broken and you need to do it in short order." Hunter said he would give him a rematch against Kingston. Hunter pointed to a shot of the backstage area so that Randy could see the part of the building where John Cena will enter the building. Hunter told him to make things right. Hunter also said that Orton will do all of these things alone. That ended that promo.

Batista's music hit and The Animal returned to a huge ovation. There were fireworks for his entrance. He was wearing a really tight jacket because that's the kind of outfit he likes to wear. He posed on the turnbuckles to a big reaction from the fans. It was nice to hear him get a big ovation like that. It's been four years, so he's very fresh in coming back to WWE. When his music finally stopped, the crowd chanted "Batista" for him. He had a shaved head and sunglasses on. He kissed the mat in the center of the ring, which showed he was happy to be back. He gave hugs to Stephanie and Triple H as they left the ring.

Batista said hello to Randy and said he knows he has questions about his return. Batista explained that he's back "for that." He pointed at the two titles. He doesn't care if it's Orton or Cena. "In the Royal Rumble match on Sunday, I'm back to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. And I am back to headline WrestleMania. So deal with it." He left while Orton had a look of anger on his face.

Analysis: It was smart to bring back Batista in the opening segment because the fans were anticipating it and it was good to get it out of the way while they were still hot. Sometimes in a three hour show the crowd dies, so it was smart to bring him out early. I would expect to see him again later in the show. His promo was basic and to the point. I think him vs. Randy Orton is very likely for WrestleMania, but we'll see how things go on Sunday. As for Hunter and Steph's talk with Orton, it was a good pep talk for the WWE WHC. I like where his character has gone in the past few weeks, so I hope it continues. Very solid opening 18 minutes of Raw.

There's a Brock Lesnar/Big Show face to face later. Big E Langston with Goldust & Cody vs. The Shield is next.

(Commercial)

It was announced that Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. the New Age Outlaws for the Tag Team Titles will be on the Royal Rumble Kickoff Show. Really? That's not a big enough match to go on the actual PPV? That's very odd. It's not like the Rumble PPV is stacked with matches.

Big E Langston, Goldust & Cody Rhodes vs. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose

There was a lot of fast paced action early as the announcers hyped up the Royal Rumble match. Cody hit a delayed front suplex on Rollins for two. The exchange with Cody and Rollins was won by Cody until he missed a Disaster Kick because Rollins went to the floor. Cody took advantage of that by jumping to the top rope and hitting a cross body block onto Rollins on the floor. There's your vintage floor to commercial break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Reigns decked Cody with a punch, so looks like Cody is the babyface in peril for this match. Rollins tagged in Cody nearly break free, but Reigns tagged in and prevented that briefly. Cody fought out of a suplex and hit a Disaster Kick on Reigns, who looked like he was in pain from that one. He tagged in Ambrose while Langston tagged in for his team. Belly to belly suplex by Langston on Ambrose, then a clothesline to Reigns over the top. Running body attack on Ambrose. Rollins saved Ambrose, but Langston threw Rollins out of the ring. Goldust took out Rollins outside the ring with a dive. Langston caught Ambrose and hit a pretty overhead belly to belly suplex. Reigns broke that up. Cody went for the Disaster Kick, but Reigns hit a Superman Punch on him! That was awesome! Spear by Reigns on Goldust. Langston went after Ambrose, he kneed him in the ribs, tag in to Rollins and he hit a Curb Stomp on Langston. Rollins covered Langston for the win after 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns

Analysis: ***1/4 That was a fun tag match. The pace really picked up towards the finish. I thought the babyfaces might get the win just as a way to build them up going into the Rumble, but I'm perfectly fine with The Shield winning because giving them momentum is always a good thing too. Spot of the match was Reigns hitting the Superman Punch on Cody as a counter to the Disaster Kick. It was perfectly timed and well done. It's also good to see Rollins getting the pin for his team because it's usually Reigns that gets it. The Curb Stomp finisher looks great.

The announcers for the show are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield. They threw it to a video package highlight focusing on Daniel Bryan attacking Bray Wyatt last week on Raw. Up next we'll hear from Daniel Bryan.

(Commercial)

The WWE Network debuts (in America only) in 35 days.

They didn't show Daniel Bryan's full entrance. Instead they just showed when he was on the ropes leading to "yes" chants. Why not show the whole thing during the broadcast? That's weird. Loud "Daniel Bryan" chants. Bryan spoke about his time in the Wyatt Family when he had to stand beside three men he despises just so he could have that one moment. That moment was last week when he got Bray Wyatt one on one in that cage last week on Raw. Last week he became the buzzard and he chewed on the carcass of Bray Wyatt. Bryan said he exposed Wyatt. He also pointed out that Harper & Rowan were in the Royal Rumble match, so that means he's going to face Bray Wyatt at the Rumble.

Wyatt appeared on the video wall for a promo. He said Bryan didn't expose him. He only exposed himself as a coward. Wyatt told him that the people only look up to Bryan because they chose to kneel. Wyatt advised Bryan to hug his mother, tell her he loves her and tell her he's sorry because everything that happens to Bryan from now on is his fault. The show went to break there.

Analysis: So Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt is on for the Royal Rumble. Does that mean Bryan is out of the Rumble match? I really hope not. The Rumble match needs his presence. They didn't say if he was out of the Rumble match, so let's not jump to conclusions on it. I liked Bryan's promo because he was fired up and explained he just joined the Wyatt Family so he could kick Bray's ass one on one, which he did. Wyatt's promo was solid, but only about two minutes long. It didn't cover too much. His promo on Smackdown was excellent in comparison.

(Commercial)

Fandango was dancing in the ring with Summer Rae as he prepared for a match.

Xavier Woods vs. Fandango (w/Summer Rae)

R-Truth was at the commentary table. Woods hit a dropkick and then he missed a cross body attack that sent him crashing into the ropes. Suplex by Fandango. Cole said Woods, Fandango and Truth were in the Rumble match. Fandango hit his legdrop off the top rope. He covered for the win after two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Fandango

Analysis: 1/2* Very short match. It didn't accomplish much other than Fandango getting momentum going into the Rumble.

After the match, they showed Emma with the #Emmataining sign in the crowd.

In the office, Kane was talking to Brad Maddox. Stephanie showed up to ask Kane why he attacked CM Punk on Smackdown. These people don't communicate at other times huh? Only on TV shows apparently. She wasn't happy about what Kane did and acknowledged it was a risk for Kane to be in a position of management. She told him he can't put his hands on a WWE Superstar. Kane said he understood and he apologized. Stephanie told him to apologize to CM Punk. He wasn't pleased about it, but he left to go do it.

Analysis: The evolution of Kane has seen him go from Big Red Monster to office lackey in the red tie. Interesting to hear Stephanie say Kane can't touch any superstars now. I don't think that's going to last very long, but it's a nice addition to the story because it adds clarity.

(Commercial)

Plug time: Last week I started writing full time at WhatCulture.com. My work there will see me write 10 feature columns per week Monday to Friday (some will be posted on Saturday) and news commentaries throughout the week. Recent topics: Lesnar's Top 10 Match, 6 Predictions Related to Batista's 2014 Return, 10 Questions & Answers about Royal Rumble 2014 and more. You can view them all in my archive located right here. Please keep checking the site for my columns as well as the other members of the WhatCulture team. It's a growing section of that huge site, so please support us!

The big red Director of Operations Kane entered the ring for a promo at the top of hour two. They replayed the end of Smackdown when he gave Punk a Chokeslam. Kane said he knew CM Punk was there, so he called him down to the ring. CM Punk entered the arena to a huge ovation like usual. It's not clobbering time. It's apology time! Not as catchy. Punk went face to face with Kane.

Kane apologized to CM Punk although he pointed out that he saved Punk from being attacked by five other Superstars. Kane: "I apologize for Chokeslamming you on Smackdown." Punk said he couldn't hear what Kane said. Kane repeated himself: "I said I apologize." Fans were chanting "one more time" so Punk looked at them with a smile. Punk went after Kane with forearm shots and hit a running knee attack on him. That sent Kane out of the ring. Kane didn't fight back at all.

Analysis: It makes sense for Punk to go after him even though Kane apologized. Kane didn't fight back as he was told.

Raw GM Brad Maddox showed up at the top of the ramp to tell CM Punk that he'll be facing one of these two superstars: Billy Gunn and Road Dogg showed up. They walked down to the ring. Gunn was the one that got to face Punk.

CM Punk vs. Billy Gunn

Road Dogg joined the announce team. Punk whipped Gunn hard into the turnbuckle. Punk was distracted by Gunn outside the ring, so Gunn hit in the back to take control. He slammed Punk's face into the mat and they went to break there.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Gunn slammed Punk down. Punk sent Gunn outside the ring. It looked like he was going for a dive, but instead he went out the other side of the ring to attack Road Dogg, who was at the commentary table. Back in the ring, jumping side kick to Gunn and a neckbreaker got two for Punk. Punk hit the flying knee in the corner, but he couldn't follow up because he was distracted by Road Dogg on the apron. Gunn gave Punk a powerslam for two. Gunn missed a splash in the corner, so Punk went up top for the elbow drop until Road Dogg pulled Gunn out of the ring. Punk took out Road Dogg with a dive outside the ring. Gunn capitalized on that. They went back in the ring with Gunn going for the Fameasser, but Punk fought out of that and hit the GTS for the win after 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: CM Punk

Analysis: ** It was an obvious win for Punk. The right booking move. It's not like I was clamoring for a New Age Outlaws return, but they have done fine in tag matches. Gunn was just okay here. You could tell he was getting tired. I don't think it was selling. The guy is 50 years old, so he's not going to be in the kind of shape he was 15 years ago.

After the match, Maddox showed up for a promo. Kane came out to tell Maddox he had this. Kane said Punk had the chance to prove himself at the Royal Rumble. He told Punk that every number in the Royal Rumble will be drawn at random except for CM Punk, who is the #1 entrant in the match.

Analysis: Punk was a favorite in the match, but as the first entrant it makes it difficult for him. I expected one of the big babyfaces to be early in the match and it makes sense for it to be Punk due to his ongoing issues with management, which will lead to the match against Triple H at WrestleMania. It's good storyline progression. Expect Punk to get screwed out of winning the Royal Rumble. On the plus side, at least Jinder Mahal isn't #1. Put him at #30. Just do it! Don't hinder Jinder!

Back to the arena entrance shot, we saw Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman arriving.

(Commercial)

Back from break, they showed the Royal Rumble "By the Numbers" video that is always great. I saw it on Youtube last week. Here it is.

They aired a video package for WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young, who passed away at age 90 last week. The video first aired on Smackdown last week with Stephanie McMahon doing voiceovers. I think what I'll remember about Mae Young is that she wasn't afraid of anything even deep into her 70s when she was taking bumps in a WWE ring. She always had a smile on her face, so that's how we should remember her. Thanks for the memories, Mae. May you rest in peace. When the video ended they showed the crowd applauding.

Rey Mysterio made his entrance. He's wrestling Alberto Del Rio for the third show in a row since they met on Raw and Smackdown last week. They showed a clip from Smackdown when Del Rio attacked Mysterio after Rey won that match. Del Rio won on Raw so this is their third match. They went to break with Rey posing in the ring.

(Commercial)

Del Rio was in the ring as this match was about to begin.

Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio

I don't know how many times they have wrestled, but it's been a lot. Del Rio was in advantage early until Del Rio dropped him throat first along the top rope. Del Rio went for a charge against the rope, but Rey moved and kicked him in the face. With Del Rio on the floor, Mysterio hit a springboard moonsault on Del Rio outside the ring. It wasn't a clean landing, but it looks like they're both okay. Back in the ring, seated dropkick by Mysterio. Del Rio hit a boot to the chest while Mysterio was in the ropes, so that flattened Mysterio. Back in the ring, tilt-a-whirl backbreaker by Del Rio got a two count. Del Rio attacked Mysterio in the corner while Lawler asked the other announcers about who they think will be surprises in the Rumble and nobody really answered. Del Rio sent Mysterio flying outside the ring so that Mysterio could bump on his chest on the floor. That led to the vintage floor to commercial break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Del Rio was still in control as he tried to pull of Mysterio's mask, but Rey was able to prevent that. Mysterio tried a charge in the corner, but Del Rio moved and Mysterio went full speed into the turnbuckle. Del Rio missed a corner charge, so he went shoulder first into the steel post. Mysterio hit a flying body attack off the top to knock down Del Rio. After some more exchanges, Mysterio was able to hit the 619. To the top, Mysterio hit the Drop The Dime splash off the top rope for a two count because Del Rio put his hand on the rope. Mysterio went for an attack off the top, but Del Rio countered that and slammed Mysterio into the mat. Cross Armbreaker by Del Rio. Mysterio quickly tapped out. The match went 15 minutes.

Winner by submission: Alberto Del Rio

Analysis: *** They worked hard and had a competitive match, but the crowd wasn't into it that much. That's probably because we've seen them wrestle so many times. Add in the fact that both guys aren't as big of a deal as they were at their peak and that's why the crowd wasn't emotionally invested in it as you would expect. It makes sense that Del Rio got the win because he's the one that has been doing promos against Batista, so it makes him look stronger going into the Rumble match.

Post match, Batista's music started up and he made his way down to the ring to face off with Del Rio. They had a staredown. Del Rio tried to attack, but Batista hit a spinebuster on him. Batista picked him up and hit a Batista Bomb. Actually it was more of a basic Powerbomb because he didn't go down to the mat in a sitout Powerbomb like he used to do. Batista posed on the ropes to celebrate.

Analysis: That was a very predictable segment. Everybody saw that coming. It doesn't make it bad, though. The fans were ready for Batista to deliver an ass kicking, so that's what he did. It was only two moves. It worked. Batista looks to be in great shape, which is really no surprise.

(Commercial)

Big Show made his entrance as we approached the top of hour three. They replayed a couple of weeks ago when Show tossed Lesnar across the ring. Show did a Heyman impression by making fun of how Heyman says Lesnar's name. He said he didn't like Lesnar. Show made fun of Heyman some more and then he called out Lesnar.

Paul Heyman showed up on the ramp. He didn't say anything. Instead, Brock Lesnar's music started up and Lesnar showed up in his "Eat Sleep Conquer Repeat" shirt.

It looked like Lesnar was going to walk into the ring, but instead of walking into the ring he just walked back up the ramp with Heyman. Show got on the microphone to tell Lesnar to drag his ass out there and get his face. Good job saying ass. More manly than saying "butt" I have to say. Lesnar walked back down to the ring. He stood outside the ring staring at Show. Lesnar slowly went into the ring.

In the ring, Lesnar went face to face with Show. He faked a headbutt. Show flinched. Lesnar tried to take him down, but Show flung him to the side. Lesnar was attacking show with shoulder tackles, so Show picked him up and tossed him over the top rope to the floor. Great spot right there. Lesnar sold that really well. Lesnar threw the monitors on the announce table. Lesnar grabbed a chair from outside the ring and he tried to go in the ring, but Show took it from him. That led to Lesnar retreating again. He walked up the ramp with Heyman. They replayed the spot where Lesnar went over the top rope. That was really well done.

Analysis: That's two confrontations with these two that Big Show won. What does it mean for Sunday? It will lead to a Lesnar win at the Royal Rumble. The announcers are talking about how nobody has done that to Lesnar before, so it's a way to build up Show as a threat. It's better to see Big Show this way as compared to a few weeks ago when he was dancing in a diaper.

Later tonight it's Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston. The camera showed the backstage entrance. Still no John Cena. What kind of employee shows up so late to work? What a poor role model that guy is!

(Commercial)

Earlier on the WWE App, Wade Barrett had bad news for AJ Lee. That news is that nobody likes AJ Lee, so they didn't celebrate her party for the longest Divas Title reign ever. AJ tried to slam a cake in Josh Mathews' face, but it hit Tamina instead. Oh WWE with your cake comedy.

AJ Lee & Tamina Snuka vs. Naomi & Cameron

The Funkadactyls are still "from Planet Funk" apparently. The heels isolated Cameron, who just screams at the top of her lungs when she sells. I think she learned from Kelly Kelly. Naomi made a hot tag, hit a kick on Tamina and then a headscissors. Back elbow by Naomi and then a dropkick. Tamina came back with a boot to the face. Skippy aka AJ Lee tagged in. She skipped around the ring. Naomi gave her an inside cradle. That was enough for the pinfall win. It went about three minutes. Maybe two.

Winners by pinfall: Naomi & Cameron

Analysis: 1/2* They love ending divas matches with rollups or cradles like that. Naomi has been on a bit of a roll. Since she beat the Divas Champion clean like that it will mean Naomi gets a Divas Title match in the near future. It could be at the Royal Rumble, but nothing was made official. It doesn't feel like she'll win the Divas Title there. I think AJ Lee holds it until WrestleMania although I'm not sure who she will drop it to.

There was replay of Batista talking to Orton earlier. Up next is The Usos vs. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper.

(Commercial)

Every time there's a "Did You Know" about WWE Network I feel like yelling at them for taunting me with it because it's only available in America on February 24. Hopefully it's not too long until it's available for the rest of us in the world.

There was another Royal Rumble "by the numbers" video. It looks like they broke up the video into two parts. They focused on things like Shawn Michaels having the most eliminations all time (38), Kane eliminating the most in one Rumble match (11), Mysterio lasting the longest in a match in 2006 and Santino being eliminated in just one second. The Rumble match is one of my favorites.

The announcers went over the Royal Rumble card: 30 Man Royal Rumble match, Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show, Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I'll be writing about it live on Sunday night at TJRWrestling.com, so read along with me. I will post it elsewhere on Monday.

There was a video package about Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of Monday being Martin Luther King Jr. day in America. I like how WWE acknowledges his contributions to history. I've read a lot about him. It's important to know history like that.

"When we say Uce, y'all say O." It's time for The Usos to enter for their match, which will take place after the break.

(Commercial)

This week on Smackdown it's Big Show & Rey Mysterio vs. The Real Americans. Big Show will win while the announcers wonder how anybody can stop him, including Lesnar.  

The Usos vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan (w/Bray Wyatt)

The heels took advantage early, but Harper missed an attack outside the ring and hit his hand against the ring post. Jey Uso took him out with a dive. Jey hit a dropkick, Jimmy tagged in and hit a cross body block off the top for two as Rowan made the save. Rowan tried to dump Jey over the top, but he didn't make it over, so Rowan hit him again and Jey went out under the bottom rope. Harper worked over Jimmy in their corner. Rowan gave Jimmy the "double fists to the head" grind move to slow it down. Harper tagged in. Jimmy went to the top, so Harper shoved him off and Jimmy went crashing into the security wall into the break. The Wyatts may be freaks, but they know all about doing spots leading to the floor to commercial break.

(Commercial)

Harper was working over Jimmy in their corner with a chinlock as Wyatt did a promo saying this is the kind of punishment that awaits Bryan. "Hell awaits him" said Wyatt, referring to Bryan. Jimmy made the comeback with a corkscrew attack off the top rope. Jey made the hot tag and he was on fire with a boot to Harper followed by a Samoan Drop. Running butt splash in the corner by Jey and then a superkick on Rowan on the apron. Jimmy went back in, so he hit a dive over the top onto Rowan. Jey went for a dive too, but Harper hit him with a forearm shot. Jey missed an attack. Harper hit a sitout slam. Daniel Bryan showed up to attack Wyatt outside the ring. The crowd went nuts yelling "yes" for it. Harper was distracted by all of it, so Jey rolled up Harper and that was enough for the win. It went about 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Usos

Post match, Bryan's music played and he led the crowd in "yes" chants. Wyatt was laughing at ringside because he anticipates destroying Bryan on Sunday.

Analysis: **1/2 It's the dreaded "distraction leading up to the rollup" finish that is another finish WWE does far too often. I saw it on Smackdown with Vickie Guerrero doing a promo to cause Cody & Goldust to lose to the same move. The crowd did erupt for Bryan's appearance, so that was great and led to a hot ending. The Usos have won a lot of matches of late, which is a good sign. It should be noted that Bryan didn't take any bumps. He went after Wyatt and didn't bump at all. That's a smart move considering he had a concussion even though it appears as though he has been cleared from it.

The shot of the parking lot let us know that John Cena wasn't there yet. We're 2 hours 50 minutes into the show by this point. Randy Orton vs. Kingston is the main event that is up next.

(Commercial)

This Sunday at Royal Rumble kickoff it's Cody Rhodes & Goldust defending the tag titles against the New Age Outlaws in the Kickoff Show. Royal Rumble panel is Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. All of them have won the Royal Rumble (Michaels won twice).

Kofi Kingston entered, so they replayed his win over Orton last week. Orton entered, so they showed his attack on Cena last week. JBL said Orton is lucky that they didn't press charges. Those Cena guys just aren't very bright, I guess. They could have used David Otunga as their lawyer. It's not like he's busy wrestling.

Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston

This is not for Orton's WWE WHC of course. Orton kept looking back because he was worried that Cena might show up. Orton slammed Kingston's head into the announce table and then he looked back to the entrance ramp again. Back in the ring, Kingston was able to get a nearfall and then Orton drove him face first into the middle turnbuckle. Cena did the "you can't see me" hand gesture to draw some jeers. Orton got some clotheslines in. The crowd wasn't into this too much. Kingston hit the SOS, which got him the win last week, but Orton kicked out. Orton hit a forearm shot to the face. John Cena, in his neon gear, finally showed up. It took him 3 hours to be there. Orton saw it on the big screen. Kingston grabbed his foot. Cena went after Orton, so that ended the match as the ref rang the bell. Match went about seven minutes.

Winner by DQ: Randy Orton

Analysis: *1/2 There wasn't much to the match. It never got going. Cena showing up ended it abruptly. It was as if they said" "Thanks for showing up, Kofi. Move along now."

Post match, Cena rammed Orton into the steel post. Cena threw Orton over the barricade as they brawled into the crowd. Cena wanted to hit the Attitude Adjustment, but Orton was able to escape. Orton went all the way into a skybox. Cena followed him up there. Orton ran outside onto the street. He jumped into the passenger seat of a car as JBL said he thinks Orton stole somebody's car. How is he stealing a car if he is in the passenger seat? The announcers wondered whose car it was. Cena was frustrated by what happened. He didn't know what to do. Cena walked back into the arena and slapped hands with the fans as he walked down the aisle to get back to the ring.

They replayed the Cena attack on Orton. He walked towards the ringside area while greeting fans. Back in the ring, Cena posed to the crowd to end the show.

Analysis: I don't think it was a strong ending. Orton running away by jumping into a random car outside the arena will lead to questions about who was driving the car (cue the Rikishi jokes). It could be somebody that plays a part into Sunday's match by screwing Cena out of the title. We don't know yet. I just think they could have done more to build up the match. A promo by Cena would have helped. Furthermore, if Cena really wanted to get after Orton then why did he take 3 hours into the show to find him? That's about the worst thing you can do if you want to kick somebody's ass. All we want is for the stories to make sense and that aspect of the story was a big logic hole in my opinion.

It could have used a better ending. I always thought that Orton was going to retain the WWE WHC heading into the Rumble. I still have that opinion after Cena got the advantage because getting the advantage on TV usually means a loss on TV. That theory doesn't apply so well to Batista, but that's an exception because it was his first time on TV in four years. They had to build him up. For the WWE WHC match it's likely going to be Orton retaining.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. Batista - Welcome back. Didn't do a lot, but looked comfortable out there.

2. Randy Orton

3. CM Punk

It was not an easy week to pick stars although it is pretty meaningless. There really wasn't anybody that stood out.

 

The Scoreboard

6 out of 10

Last week: 8

2014 Average: 6.83

2014 High: 8 (January 13)

2014 Low: 6 (January 20)

Last 5 Weeks: 8, 6.5, 7, 5.5, 8

 

Final Thoughts

It was an average edition of Raw. Last week's show was much better. This week's show had some cool moments, but didn't have enough good in-ring action and the ending fell flat. It gets a 6 out of 10 from me.

I thought it was a mistake to keep Cena off the show as much as they did. His match with Randy Orton really needed one final Cena hype promo to build it up as a big deal. The "biggest rematch ever" as WWE calls it really just feels like any other match. Poor job in building it up as a big deal in my opinion.

My other question is about Daniel Bryan. He should be in the Royal Rumble. Is he even in the match? We don't know if he's in there. I know a lot of people reading this want him to win the Rumble match. I think he should, but I'm picking Batista because the booking makes it more likely. It's just a shame that Bryan hasn't even talked about winning the Rumble match.

The lineup for the Royal Rumble PPV looks strong. However, there were not enough guys cutting promos about how they want to win the Rumble. The fans are supposed to believe multiple people can win. At this point there aren't enough threats to win and that hurts the credibility of the match. It's a fun match, but it could have been built up so much better.

---------

That's all for me. I'll be back on Sunday night for a Royal Rumble recap. The preview should be up on the weekend. Not sure if I'm going to keep the same format or what I'm doing for that. Still deciding on that.

Plug time: Last week I started writing full time at WhatCulture.com. My work there will see me write 10 feature columns per week Monday to Friday (some will be posted on Saturday) and news commentaries throughout the week. Recent topics: Lesnar's Top 10 Match, 6 Predictions Related to Batista's 2014 Return, 10 Questions & Answers about Royal Rumble 2014 and more. You can view them all in my archive located right here. Please keep checking the site for my columns as well as the other members of the WhatCulture team. It's a growing section of that huge site, so please support us!

Thanks for reading.

John Canton - mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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