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Live from San Jose, California this is the Raw Deal for episode #1026. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.

There was a video package highlighting Martin Luther King Jr.'s "free at last" speech because it is MLK Day. WWE usually starts off Raw like that on MLK Day.

No video package or theme song to start the show. Instead it's Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero walking arm in arm with Paul Heyman. Vickie said it's her job to put on an entertaining show and to do the right thing. She said it's about doing the right thing not the popular thing, especially when it comes to The Rock.

Heyman said he was out there in a show of unity and solidarity with Vickie. He complained about how The Rock defamed the character of him and Vickie. He even said Vickie was the sexiest GM of this and any other television show. When he said Rock's name the crowd cheered loudly.

They aired a video of Rock's song about Heyman last week. Then they showed the footage from when Rock made fun of Vickie last week even though she didn't want to see it again. "Beyotch you look horrible tonight." I think I might have spelled it "biatch" last week. My apologies. I should be better up to speed on the spelling of such articulate words.

Vickie said that while The Rock is there in San Jose, she has banned him from entering his arena. She said if Rock enters the arena he'll be arrested by the San Jose police department. Vickie said she had a camera outside to show Rock, who found out he can't enter the arena. They showed a picture of Rock outside with some cops standing by.

Rock said of course Vickie Guerrero bans The Rock because she wants to screw the people and the People's Champion. Rock said there's not anybody on the planet that can stop him from getting into the ring tonight. The cops looked like indy wrestlers of course. Rock suggested that a cop arrest CM Punk for being a fake champion and saying he's like Manti Te'o with an imaginary girlfriend except Punk has an imaginary nutsack. He told another cop to arrest Heyman for not wearing a bra in public. Rock told the other cop that Vickie has her head shoved up her ass if she thinks Rock won't be in the ring later in the night. He said there's no way - and the Rock means no way - that he'll be unable to get into the ring later tonight.

Vickie was furious in the ring. She said if Rock gets in the building the only song he'll sing is Jailhouse Rock. She ended the promo with this: "If you smell - excuse me - excuse me - if you smell what The Vick is cooking." That was funny.

Analysis: They set up an ongoing theme for the show with the story of whether or not Rock will get into the building. I thought his promo was okay. The cops looked like three short indy wrestlers rather than actual cops. But that's what they always do. Vickie was awesome in the segment while Heyman played the role of the guy that sucked up to her.

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler were the announcers for the show. There will be a Beat The Clock challenge where the winner of the challenge gets to pick what number they are in the Royal Rumble match. First up in Beat The Clock is Randy Orton vs. Antonio Cesaro.

(Commercial)

Later in the show, John Cena addresses the WWE Universe about the Royal Rumble. At least they don't give him preferential treatment. Now that's sarcasm!

Beat The Clock Challenge: Randy Orton vs. Antonio Cesaro

The good thing about "beat the clock" is I don't have to keep track of match times since it's right there on the screen. Orton got a Thesz Press early on leading to some punches. The announcers did a good job of explaining that the guys were going for pinfalls early so they could beat the clock. Cesaro got an inside cradle for two, but then Orton hit a dropkick for a two count. Orton hit a clothesline outside the ring. Three minutes into the match with both guys in the ring they went to break. No floor to commercial spot. It's a swerve!

(Commercial)

We were back from break at the seven minute mark (that would mean a four minute break) and they were fighting on the turnbuckle. Apparently #BeatTheClock was trending worldwide, so that's nice. Cesaro knocked Orton off the top rope sending him all the way to the floor. Gutwrench Suplex for Cesaro gets a two count at eight minutes. Cesaro applied a chinlock, Orton used a headbutt to get out of it and then hit a couple of clotheslines followed by the powerslam. Orton went for the DDT off the ropes, but Cesaro countered into a jackknife cover for two. Cesaro threw Orton into the air and hit his awesome uppercut for a two count. Great nearfall as they have passed the ten minute mark. Cesaro threw Orton shoulder first into the ring post as Cole brought up Orton's shoulder injury history. Cesaro rolled him back in and he looked back at the clock. When Cesaro rolled into the ring Orton hit the RKO to win the match at the 11:36 mark. Cole said it was out of nowhere like usual.

Winner: Randy Orton at 11:36

Analysis: *** That will probably be the longest Beat the Clock match and likely the best one too. I thought their chemistry was very good. I'm sure that if they had a feud in the future it would be very entertaining because their styles mesh very well. I really liked the finishing sequence with Orton getting thrown to the post and falling out of the ring. That allowed him to recover to set up Cesaro for the RKO finisher. I doubt anybody watching the show thinks 11:36 is going to be the best time in the BTC challenge, but it was a solid match to set the benchmark.

There was a video package on Mick Foley for the Hall of Fame. Same video that they played on Smackdown.  

The Shield did a promo on their handheld camera. As they were telling us to open our eyes, we saw video of Ryback getting attacked at Survivor Series. Their attacks on Randy Orton, Sheamus, Miz and Ryback again were also shown. The video ended with them saying they were just getting started.

(Commercial)

Big Show entered the arena. He's getting his World Title rematch against Albert Del Rio at the Royal Rumble. They showed a replay of Del Rio's World Title win two weeks ago on Smackdown. The Royal Rumble match is a Last Man Standing match just like the Smackdown match was.

Big Show vs. Zack Ryder

Brad Maddox showed up at the announce table. Cole said Maddox doesn't work there. Maddox is on TV way more than people that actually work there. Show hit Ryder with the KO Punch and the match ended in less than one minute.

Winner: Big Show

Analysis: It was longer than a sneeze, but not that much longer.

Post match, Show gave us a preview of his Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble. As he was counting, the crowd chanted "What" at him and he got mad about it. He said he's not playing. Then he left.

Analysis: Good intensity by the big guy. The Last Man Standing rematch on Sunday should be awesome like the match on Smackdown was.

Ryback vs. Heath Slater is up next.

(Commercial)

Backstage, Paul Heyman was on the phone talking about how The Rock was not getting into the arena. Brad Maddox walked up to him saying he would do anything to be famous. Heyman shook his hand and said he admires his dedication. He said he would help Maddox become famous. Maddox was happy about it. Heyman went back to his phone.

Analysis: Legit or a swerve coming? You decide.

Ryback vs. Heath Slater w/Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal

This is not a Beat The Clock match even though I assume Ryback is in the Royal Rumble. We know the 3MB guys are. Slater's weak offense lasted about ten seconds before dropping Slater with a clothesline, spinebuster and then the Meat Hook Clothesline. Ryback knocked McIntyre off the apron and then threw Mahal into McIntyre while he was on the apron. Ryback finished Slater off with Shellshocked for the win after about 90 seconds.

Analysis: Now you know why it wasn't a Beat The Clock match.

Post match, Ryback said his job is fun. He said this Sunday is his first Royal Rumble and that it was a match he was made for. He said it is the match that will lead him to the main event of WrestleMania. Then he led the crowd in "feed me more" chants.

Analysis: Typical short Ryback promo. He's definitely a favorite to win although I pick Cena.

Outside the arena, The Rock was talking to the cops once again. He mentioned he's been out there for an hour. Rock said the cops are there to protect and serve the people, not Vickie Guerrero. He talked about how the people worked hard to see The Rock in the arena tonight. He said if you listen right now you'll hear 15,000 people in San Jose chanting The Rock's name and that led to the "Rocky" chant. One of the cops said his wife and kid were in the arena and that he had a ticket. Vickie wanted them to arrest Rock. One of the cops said Rock wasn't breaking any rules. She said she was their superior. How is she superior to cops in the city of San Jose? I don't even know at this point. Vickie said CM Punk would address the WWE Universe coming up next.

Vickie said she'll let Rock into the building if he apologizes to her. He said he'd get in the ring on his terms not hers. Rock also said "beyotch you still look horrible tonight." She left angrily. Rock told the cops he had an idea.

Analysis: The drama continues. If you want to call it drama. Feels like filler to me.

(Commercial)

Next Monday is Raw Roulette from Las Vegas. I feel bad for the fans of Las Vegas that have to see that Raw Roulette gimmick nearly every time they are in their city. Then again it's Las Vegas and I'd love to live there.

The WWE Champion CM Punk and his adviser Paul Heyman entered the ring at the top of the second hour. Punk was clutching the WWE Title in his arms across his chest.

CM Punk held the WWE Title in his hands and mentioned that for 428 days he has proven that he is the man. Heyman held the microphone in front of his mouth. Punk talked about how he has worked half his life to attain this. He called it the most prestigious title the WWE has to offer. He won't allow Rock or any man to take this from him. Punk said Rock is there to entertain, electrify, sing songs and tell jokes. Punk is there to "hurt people and be the champion." He will not allow The Rock to leave the Royal Rumble as the WWE Champion. Punk said the WWE Title is important and prestigious because he has made it that way. What's prestigious to Rock is meaningless and insignificant things like the people. Rock is proud to be the People's Champion almost as proud as Punk is of being a real champion. Punk said he's looked into Rock's eyes and knows why he's so proud to be People's Champion because he knows he can't be this (he means being the WWE Champion).

Punk said a long time ago he chose honest arrogance over hypocritical humility. He said Rock chose all of you (the fans). He said you can call Rock electrifying, the Brahma Bull, the Great One, but you can't call him the champion because this you earn with blood, sweat and tears. Punk said for 428 days he has earned the right to be called champion and to be the man. Punk told Rock for six days to enjoy being the People's Champion and to enjoy the people. He said that the "people do not matter." This (the WWE Title) is all that matters. He said that in six days at the Royal Rumble it doesn't matter what The Rock is cooking. What matters is the Undisputed WWE Champion, best in the world CM Punk.

Analysis: I absolutely loved that promo. It was a money heel promo that got right to the point and he was so focused while delivering it. His intensity never wavered. His emotion didn't change. He held the WWE Title in his hands while Heyman held the microphone and he talked about what mattered to him. He doesn't care about the people like The Rock does. All he cares about is being the WWE Champion. He spent his life getting to that level and for the last 428 days he has proved he's the best. I loved it. It would be nice if some babyfaces were allowed to give promos like that instead of telling jokes, but that's not how WWE does things. If babyfaces did promos like this and the ones that Big Show delivers they would be more likable. Honesty is a likable quality. It's not that hard to understand.

Coming up later, John Cena talks to the WWE Universe about the Royal Rumble.

(Commercial)

Beat The Clock Challenge: Dolph Ziggler w/AJ Lee & Big E Langston vs. The Miz

The time to beat is 11:36 by Randy Orton. The clock counts down for this match. It's the battle of the Ohio guys. There were a lot of quick pinfall attempts by both guys. Ziggler hit a nice dropkick for a two count. They worked a really slow pace for the first couple of minutes until Miz used his shoulder to attack the left knee of Ziggler. The story is The Miz loves the Figure Four Leglock after Ric Flair taught him to do it last week. Miz went for the FFL, but Ziggler shoved him to the floor and then Langston attacked Miz outside the ring. Back in the ring, Ziggler got a two count. They went to break four minutes into the match with both guys in the ring and over 7 minutes left on the clock.

Analysis: I'm guessing neither guy beats the clock during the break. I'm going out on a limb there huh? You don't have to answer that.

(Commercial)

Back from break, there were four minutes left on the clock with Ziggler working over Miz in the ring with a chinlock. Miz came back with a kick to the face for two. Miz hit his running corner clothesline followed by a double axehandle off the top for two. The crowd bought that as a nearfall. This crowd is loud, so that's a good sign. After each guy got a nearfall (and Miz pulled Ziggler's tights to expose his ass), Ziggler hit a jumping DDT for a good two count. Miz got his backbreaker, but Ziggler countered out of the neckbreaker and then Miz recovered to apply the Figure Four Leglock. AJ jumped on the ropes, so Langston pulled Ziggler towards the ropes, which he grabbed to break the hold. Langston teased an attack. That distracted Miz and then Ziggler hit the Zig Zag to win the match at the 10:56 mark.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler at 10:56 - New Beat The Clock leader. 

Analysis: **1/2 It was a solid match as you'd expect from them. I think the pace was a little too slow in the early going, but the last two minutes were very good. Ziggler won because of his friends outside of the ring so Miz was kept strong. I liked the Figure Four spot where Langston pulled Ziggler's arms towards the rope to break the count. That was a smart spot to do in that situation. The finish worked too. I enjoyed the match.

There's a Royal Rumble fan fest this weekend in Phoenix. It's nice to see them add a fan event to it like they have Axxess at WrestleMania and also Axxess at Summerslam as well.

Up next is the Anger Management Graduation of Daniel Bryan & Kane along with Dr. Shelby.

(Commercial)

In the ring was Dr. Shelby in a robe and hat for the Anger Management graduation ceremony. Daniel Bryan and Kane entered in gowns as if it was an actual graduation. Bryan had his hair slicked back for the occasion. There were caps on a table in the ring.

Shelby told Kane that when they first started Kane was a maniacal mask wearing monster. He said Daniel was a tightly wound little man-child that would snap if anybody said anything about his goatface or that his beard looks like a hotel for rats. He said now they're calm, peaceful and ready to graduate. Kane and Daniel Bryan placed the caps on their heads.

Shelby said usually there's a valedictorian at a graduation. He asked both guys who they thought should be valedictorian. Kane said Daniel should be valedictorian. Bryan said "no" and that it should be Kane. They argued about it like usual. Shelby yelled at them to calm down. Shelby asked Bryan if a hug would make him feel better. There's a "Dr. Shelby" chant. Shelby said what if everybody everywhere hugged at the same time. Kane asked if Cole and Lawler had to hug too. Shelby said yes. Lawler hugged Cole. Dr. Sampson at ringside hugged Michael Cole too. Kane pointed out three guys in the crowd. They hugged. There was a freaky looking guy in a yes shirt with a mustache that hugged his friend. Then they got everybody in the crowd to hug. "1…2…3…hug!" Shelby hugged Kane and Bryan at the same time. Then Bryan's music played to end the segment.

Analysis: I figured there would be some kind of interference by Damien Sandow & Cody Rhodes, but they didn't show up at all. Getting everybody in the audience to hug was a bit silly. It wasn't that bad, though. It's not like they were trying for compelling television with that. It was a fun thing intended to make people happy in the audience and they did like it, so in that sense it worked. Is that the end of Dr. Shelby? I guess so.

John Cena talks later. That's nice.

(Commercial)

As we returned from the break, we saw a clip of Kaitlyn winning the Divas Title and then Eve quitting WWE after her loss. She has left the company. That's legit.

Kaitlyn vs. Alicia Fox

Kaitlyn got an entrance. Alicia did not. Cole talked about the changes in Kaitlyn's life as Divas champion. What changes? Her bag is heavier? Tamina was looking on backstage. Kaitlyn took down Alicia with a dive outside the ring. Alicia gave Kaitlyn two hair whips and then a clothesline. The crowd was very quiet. Alicia missed a kick in the corner. Kaitlyn hit a Spear for the win after two minutes.

Winner: Kaitlyn

Analysis: A short match like usual from the women. If you wonder why the crowd is dead for these matches you can blame the lack of time because they have no reason to care about women they barely see. But there's no point in making a long point about it since it's nothing new. I like the Spear as a finisher for Kaitlyn. It's simple and it works. She can hit it on anybody to win a match.

Paul Heyman said that he wants CM Punk to sit in a skybox to watch Heyman deliver a speech. It's not a "pipebomb" but instead it's a "Paulbomb." He was going to show Punk to his skybox as they went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Paul Heyman was on the microphone in the middle of the ring. CM Punk was sitting in his skybox. Heyman said that he knows that a lot of what Punk said earlier went over the heads of the fans. Heyman said he would be acting as Punk's interpreter by keeping it simple (saying it slowly) for the fans.

Heyman said it's not a foregone conclusion that The Rock is going to leave the Royal Rumble as WWE Champion. Heyman said that January's flavor of the month is The Rock. He claimed that if Rock is concentrating on Heyman then that means he's not concentrating enough on Punk. He mentioned Punk was the longest reigning WWE Champion of the last 25 years. "Therefore just like the people, The Rock is stupid."

Right on cue The Rock's music started up. Rock held up a ticket. He got into the building with a ticket and that also meant his theme music got to play for his full entrance. That must be a powerful ticket. That "banned from the building" angle they did was dumb. The Rock thanked the San Jose police for the ticket.  Heyman was about to say something, so Rock called him Twinkie Tits and told him to leave the ring.

The Rock looked up at CM Punk sitting in the skybox. He mentioned Punk was WWE Champion for 428 days and that it's incredible. Rock said Punk has earned the right to call himself the Best in the World. But he said it's Punk's last night on Raw as WWE Champ. Rock said he's proud to be the People's Champ. Rock said he's the kind of man to stand in front of Punk and rip his face off.

Rock mentioned coming back to be WWE Champion and mentioned Martin Luther King. Rock said if Punk looked into his soul then Punk knows that Rock has promised to beat him for the WWE Title. Rock said that when Rock wins the WWE Title the people are going to say "free at last, free at last - good God almighty we're free at last." He's referring to free at last in terms of how WWE would be free if CM Punk wasn't the WWE Champion anymore.

The lights went out and The Shield were in the ring attacking The Rock. Rock tried to fight them off, but he couldn't do it. The Shield were too much for him and they connected on the three man Powerbomb to take out The Rock in the ring. They quickly left the ringside area. It's interesting to note that Roman Reigns is a cousin of The Rock.

CM Punk said that Rock has to pay a price for his freedom. Punk said that when The Rock wakes up from his dream he'll realize that the Great One just wasn't great enough to beat the "Best in the World." Rock did a great job of selling the attack. There was some spit coming out of his mouth and also blood. He sat up a bit while Punk held up the WWE Title in his skybox with a confident look on his face.

Analysis: That was a very good segment. Rock's promo was more serious, which is what I like to see. It wasn't about creating some silly phrase to get trending on Twitter. He spoke like a confident man that felt like he was going to be the WWE Champion on Sunday night and I think that's what a lot of us want to see from him in terms of promos.

As for the attack of The Shield, the question is did Punk send them there or are they not working for him? It's a good question to leave out there because what we just saw is something that could happen at the Royal Rumble on Sunday. Most think The Rock is going to leave as WWE Champion, but you never really know. As I mentioned I thought Rock did an awesome job of selling the move by The Shield.

(Commercial)

Back from break, they replayed The Shield's attack on The Rock. Cole pointed out that Rock was able to walk to the back on his own power so he will be fine for the Royal Rumble match on Sunday.

Beat The Clock Challenge: Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett

The time to beat is 10:56 by Dolph Ziggler. This is the last "Beat The Clock" match so only six people get to compete for it. They brawled early on with Sheamus getting the advantage with a nearfall one minute into it. Barrett gave Sheamus a clothesline over the top to the floor. That set us up for the vintage floor to commercial break spot two minutes into the match.

(Commercial)

Back from break with 5 minutes left on the clock as Barrett hit a suplex for a two count. Sheamus made a brief comeback that led to the ten forearm blows to the chest of Barrett. He looked at the clock before his tenth punch. Suplex back into the ring by Sheamus got him a two count. Barrett avoided a Brogue Kick and hit Sheamus in the chest followed by a kick to the face for a two count. There's 2:30 left on the clock. Barrett hit an elbow drop off the middle rope for two as we're under two minutes now. Sheamus connected with White Noise as Sheamus looked at the clock to see 1:15 on the clock. With about one minute to go, AJ ran into the ring while Ziggler and Langston were outside the ring. Barrett hit the Bossman Slam for two. Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick with 0:02 left, but there wasn't enough time to cover Barrett.

No Match Winner - Ziggler's 10:56 time won Beat The Clock

Post mach, Sheamus was mad about the distraction by AJ. Ziggler ran up the aisle with Langston and AJ. He was happy he won the Beat The Clock challenge, which means that he gets to pick his spot in the Royal Rumble match. He was laughing at Sheamus from the top of the ramp.

Analysis: **1/2 A good match just like the other two matches in this "Beat The Clock" challenge throughout the show. I thought they would book it so Sheamus would win it, so I was surprised to see him fall short. I liked the finish because it doesn't hurt Sheamus too much due to the interference and it puts over the idea that Ziggler's an intelligent wrestler that is going to do what it takes to get ahead of his opponents. I don't think anybody believed Barrett was going to win the match, but he was still booked strong, which is a good thing. I didn't mind "Beat The Clock" this show because at least the matches weren't as short as they usually are.

We got another reminder that we'll hear comments from John Cena later in the show.

(Commercial)

In Vickie's office, Ziggler was happy about his win. He kissed AJ in front of Vickie. Vickie wasn't thrilled about it. Ziggler wanted to pick #30, but Vickie said he didn't get to pick any number. He had to pick number one or two.

Analysis: That made the whole "Beat The Clock Challenge" concept useless by the end of the night. It also means Ziggler will likely be one of the biggest stars of the Royal Rumble match.

They replayed The Shield's attack on The Rock. Cole wondered if Punk was involved with The Shield.

Backstage, Vince McMahon bumped into Punk & Heyman. McMahon said that if The Shield gets involved in Punk's match at the Royal Rumble there will be consequences. Punk said he had nothing to do with it. Heyman pointed out that Shield has attacked Orton, Hell No, Ryback and Sheamus. McMahon said if The Shield interferes in Punk's match at Royal Rumble then McMahon will strip Punk of WWE Title. Punk and Heyman were not happy.

Analysis: There goes that match finish possibility. Of course he didn't say Brad Maddox's name. I'm just throwing that out there. I still pick Rock to win the match, but there are ways to have Punk retain. When I write Royal Rumble preview column that will be posted on Friday or Saturday I will be sure to mention a few scenarios.

(Commercial)

The World Champion Alberto Del Rio made his entrance by walking to the ring. He hugged fans on his way to the ring. I guess as a babyface he's too nice to drive his cars into the arena. 

Alberto Del Rio w/Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Tensai

This is non-title of course. Del Rio hit a flying headscissors off the second rope. Then Del Rio hit a German Suplex. Running enziguiri kick in the corner by Del Rio. Moonsault off the second rope by Del Rio got him the victory. The match went about one minute.

Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Del Rio said that there was going to be a count of ten at the end of their match at the Royal Rumble and that when Del Rio does the counting it will be in Spanish. Then he counted to ten in Spanish along with the San Jose crowd. Ricardo said "si" into the microphone and the crowd chanting along with "si" along with it. That means "yes" for those that don't know. I think Lawler said Robert Del Rio at one point in there.

Analysis: Quick squash match over Tensai the jobber. There was no interaction between Big Show and Del Rio on this show. I would imagine they do something on Smackdown to add more hype to that matchup.

The announcers plugged WWE Axxess tickets for WrestleMania 29 on sale this Saturday at 10am. Just a tip for those going that haven't gone before, you can get the general tickets for Axxess at the building itself. If you want the more expensive VIP tickets you should get them on Saturday or at some point soon because they usually sell out.

There was a video package for the next Hall of Fame inductee…Bob Backlund. It's about time. He should have been in years ago, but for whatever reason (I think he said no before) they didn't do it until now. He was a WWE Champion for six years at one point and then in the early 1990s he returned as a crazy heel. For guys like me it was a lot of fun to see him make that comeback because I had heard a lot about him, but since he was a top guy before the first WrestleMania I didn't see him that much. Congrats on the Hall of Fame, Mr. Backlund.

John Cena was shown walking to the ring to talk about the Royal Rumble.

(Commercial)

John Cena ran out to the ring to address the WWE Universe. His time is now…apparently. Bad joke. Sorry. I'm tired.

Cena said we all enjoy Sundays because it's a day to do whatever you want. He pointed out a kid in the front row saying he loved Sunday because it's a day off from school. Cena asked the kid if he played video games and mentioned Black Ops 2. Cena said his username was "Skidmarks187." He said he eats Fruity Pebbles and plays video games on a Sunday. Cena found a chick in the crowd saying her Sunday is reliving her Saturday by posting good pics of herself. Then he kept rambling on. I hope this has a point. Cena said the guy you may have met is…that guy right there. He pointed at a large man in a "I'm a Heyman Guy" shirt. He kept on rambling on. He said the point is we all do things on Sundays that are different except this Sunday.

Cena said that if you win the Royal Rumble this Sunday you get a golden ticket for a title match at WrestleMania. This Sunday superstars can be born, history will be made and this Sunday will be an all out war. He said the video games will be on pause, the yoga will be done at home and the hangovers will wait until Sunday night. This Sunday the world will find out what he already knows…long pause…"this Sunday I will win the Royal Rumble!" He said it emphatically.

Sheamus came out to say he's going to win the Royal Rumble. The Primetime Players wondered what "fella" was talking about. Randy Orton's music started up. He didn't come out there to dance or talk about déjà vu. He said we're looking at the man that's going to win the Royal Rumble. The Miz also made his entrance to say "really" a bunch of times and say he's going to win the Rumble. Kane was next along with Daniel Bryan. They argued about who is going to win the Royal Rumble. Kane said he was going to win, then Bryan said he was going to win and that continued on until Antonio Cesaro's music hit. Cesaro said he's going to win the Rumble and he's going to dedicate his win to the United States of America. The 3MB entered to say they are going to win the Royal Rumble. How many microphones were used for this segment?

All of this led to everybody from the back running into the ring to start a big brawl. Even Great Khali slowly made his way out there. There's a Michael McGillicutty and Alex Riley sighting. Even JTG! Of course they're getting tossed out, but at least they're there. Everybody started brawling as Michael Cole did the best job he could to remind us that the Royal Rumble match is this Sunday. The show ended there.

Analysis: Cena's promo was below average. This was a moment where they should have had him talk about how much he has fought to get back the WWE Title he lost well over a year ago and that this Sunday is his chance to prove that 2013 is going to be his year. Instead he tried relating stories to a kid, a woman and a funny looking dude in the crowd. The only serious part of the promo was the end of it, but by that time I was dozing off because it was getting boring. I would have loved a more serious promo in this spot.

The brawl at the end of the show is something they do most years. It's not really fresh or new, but it's an obvious way to set up the match.

My pick to win the Royal Rumble? John Cena. I've been writing that since August if you're paying attention. I'll have more about that in the Royal Rumble preview we will post on Friday or Saturday.

I was hoping for a Great Khali promo about how he was going to win the Royal Rumble. He's a threat to win. Come on you sons of bitches, let him deliver the go home money promo! Okay now THAT is sarcasm.

Also vote in our poll asking who will win the 2013 Royal Rumble. There is an early leader. Not a surprise. You only get one vote.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. CM Punk

2.  The Rock

3. Dolph Ziggler

 

The Scoreboard

5 out of 10

Last week: 6

2013 Average: 6.5

Last 5 Weeks: 6, 7, 4.5, NA, 3

 

Final Thoughts

It wasn't a great show, but not that bad either which is why it gets the 5 out of 10 score. That doesn't mean I'm any less excited about the Royal Rumble PPV because I always love that event. I was already ready for the Rumble with or without this show, to be honest.

The best part of the show was the promo by CM Punk, the promo by The Rock in the ring and the attack by The Shield on The Rock. That carried this week's edition of Raw. It increased my interest in The Rock vs. CM Punk and my interest was already very high. They didn't brawl this week. It was verbal sparring from them and it worked.

When I think about the matches there wasn't a whole lot there except the three "Beat The Clock" matches which were hyped as a reward for the winner, yet in the end it turned out to be a punishment for Ziggler as the winner.

Whoever wrote the show ending promo from Cena really did a poor job with it. He was out there dying in front of the live crowd and rambling on like an idiot. The end of the show wasn't that exciting or well booked at all.

In the end it probably won't hurt the buyrate of the Royal Rumble, which should be one of the biggest in the history of the event. Rock vs. Punk is a dream match while the Rumble match itself is always a draw. The pay-per-view was going to do big numbers with or without this week's show.

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I am re-posting my reviews of every Royal Rumble 30 man (or 20/40 men) only at TJRWrestling.com throughout the month of January. It's a lot of fun to re-live these matches. The most recent posts are about the outstanding 2007 Royal Rumble and John Cena's surprise win at the 2008 Royal Rumble.  At the bottom of the posts you'll find links to all of the Rumble match reviews.

This year's Royal Rumble PPV preview will be posted on Friday afternoon most likely. Then on Sunday night I'll write about the Royal Rumble live at TJRWrestling.com with full results & analysis. I will post it on other sites after the event, but if you want it live you need to go to TJR.

I might have another post or two during the week as well, but I'm not sure yet.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

John Canton - mrjohncanton@gmail.com

TJRWrestling.com and TJRSports.com

Twitter @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling.com on Facebook