WWE Raw Report CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 1/30: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - Huge Return, Champion vs. Champion, Rumble PPV fall-out
Jan 30, 2012 - 10:17:59 PM
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WWE Raw Supershow Results
January 30, 2012 - Episode #974
Live in Kansas City, Mo.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
This week's live WWE Raw the night after the Royal Rumble PPV started with the standard Raw intro video followed by full pyro and fireworks inside the Sprint Center. Michael Cole introduced the show, noting they are officially on the Road to WrestleMania. An obligatory shot of the WM28 logo hanging above the arena accompanied Cole's intro.
First out (to no music) was interim Raw GM John Laurinaitis. Jerry Lawler gloated that it could be Laurinaitis's final night on Raw. Laurinaitis, all-smiles, did a victory lap and shook hands with Cole and Lawler. Naturally, Cole sucked up to Laurinaitis before grabbing a mic to address his "peer review." As Laurinaitis made his way into the ring, a graphic flashed on the screen and Cole plugged 2012 Royal Rumble winner Sheamus in the house tonight.
In the ring, Laurinaitis said he's made his share of mistakes, but he hasn't made the same mistake twice. So, he is confident that after tonight, he will be named permanent Raw GM. After all, his review is being done by "one of the greatest of all-time and a good friend," Triple H. Laurinaitis then transitioned to a plug for the Elimination Chamber match at the next PPV. He ran down the list of Raw brand Chamber participants with WWE champion C.M. Punk, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, R-Truth, and Chris Jericho (big reaction, then some boos).
Laurinaitis then plugged tonight's card - Divas champion Beth Phoenix vs. Eve for the Divas Title, Kofi vs. The Miz, and Ziggler vs. Randy Orton, who he said is returning to Raw for the first time in over a month. And, his big match: WWE champion C.M. Punk vs. World Hvt. champion Daniel Bryan. Before Laurinaitis could finish after stumbling over himself a few times, Cult of Personality played to bring out WWE champion C.M. Punk.
Punk simply sang the "Na na na, good-bye" song on the way to the ring. Once in the ring, Punk told him he's gone tonight. Laurinaitis smiled and said Punk owes him an apology since he didn't screw him out of the WWE Title last night. Punk then cut down Laurinaitis, as usual, before saying he came out one last time just to see Laurinaitis's face before he gets fired by Triple H. More put-downs from Punk about Laurinaitis's performance. Laurinaitis kept smiling, then said he's not going to take this personally since it's all about business. He claimed he's creative, innovative, fair, and took the WWE Title to a new level. And, he would like to start over with Punk.
Punk smirked and vowed to put Laurinaitis to sleep before Daniel Bryan's music played. Cole heeled on heel Bryan, who made his way to the ring celebrating his latest title conquest at the Rumble. In the ring, Bryan gloated that he's World champion. He then asked Punk and Laurinaitis if they remember him. He said no one cares about their petty, personal problems. He said while they were having a soap-opera last night, he won a steel cage match against Big Show and Mark Henry. Bryan said he gets it that Laurinaitis is trying to save his job booking him against Punk, but Punk isn't much of a challenge. Punk frowned and sheepishly said he's just the best wrestler in the world. Bryan said that's all great and excellent, but he is more than just a wrestler, but a role model. "I'm a vegan!" he said. Punk said he knows all that, then asked Bryan what he does eat. "Jokes, huh?" Bryan said. He said he'll take Punk's pipe bomb and stuck it where the sun don't shine if he keeps it up. Punk quieted things down, saying they've been friends for a decade, so they should just give Kansas City the best wrestling match in the world.
[Q2] Suddenly, Sheamus's music played. Cole said things are about to get interesting. In the ring, Sheamus asked the fellas what's cracking. He then reminded everyone he won the 2012 Royal Rumble before noting both champions will be defending their titles at the Elimination Chamber PPV. He also reminded Laurinaitis he could be fired tonight. He also reminded everyone he will be in the main event of WrestleMania (with obligatory sign point). Sheamus teased challenging for the WWE Title before noting he could also be the next World Hvt. champion. He wished both champions good luck. As for Laurinaitis, he has a great ol' Irish saying that says he hopes Hunter kicks him to the curb. Sheamus patted Laurinaitis on the shoulder, then left. Laurinaitis kept smiling as Sheamus left the ring and pointed to the WM28 sign. Back in the ring, Punk and Bryan came face-to-face to hype their Champion vs. Champion match still to come. Punk extended a hand, Bryan thought about it, then shook.
Up Next: Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler.
Back live: Josh Mathews was in a luxury skybox with Wade Barrett. That was an original return to the show. Randy Orton's music then hit to bring out Orton, who looked toward the skybox area to glare at Barrett. Cole then announced Orton vs. Barrett in a singles match on Smackdown. The announcers and Barrett heavily promoted the Orton-Barrett match-up as Dolph Ziggler came to the ring with Vickie Guerrero to face Orton.
1 -- RANDY ORTON vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Vickie Guerrero)
Ziggler "showed off" with a Ric Flair strut, which Orton ignored before slapping on a headlock. Orton continued to dominate while the announcers continued to shoot questions to Mathews to ask Barrett in the skybox. Ziggler came back with a dropkick to the head, leading to a commercial.
[Q3] Back from break, Cole was raving about the match-up, which he transitioned to a defense of Laurinaitis ahead of his "performance evaluation" tonight. Ziggler maintained control as Barrett continued to talk himself up. Orton then came back with a clothesline, but Ziggler avoided a second and delivered a dropkick for a two count. Ziggler channeled Scott Steiner with mid-match sit-ups (instead of push-ups) before climbing up top. He took too long, allowing Orton to crotch him. Vickie screamed ringside as Orton teed off on Ziggler with right hands. Orton then wanted a superplex (big reaction for the set-up) and he delivered his dad's finisher center-ring. Orton made a cover, but Ziggler kicked out.
Orton and Ziggler reset with an exchange of right hands before Orton delivered consecutive clotheslines into a powerslam, which Cole actually called correctly. Orton then wanted his second-rope DDT, but Ziggler slipped out and slapped on a sleeperhold. Orton escaped, then did a sweet roll-over into a roll-up for a nearfall. Ziggler delivered a kick to the knee, though, before delivering a Fameasser for a close nearfall. They cut to a shot of Barrett watching the match from the skybox before the wrestlers reset in the ring.
Orton delivered a clothesline taking Ziggler to the floor before throwing Ziggler into the guardrail. Back in the ring, Orton delivered a second-rope DDT as Vickie screamed and shouted. Orton then stalked Ziggler and delivered the RKO center-ring to a very strong reaction. Orton made the cover and it was good for the win. Post-match, they showed Barrett frowning atop the skybox ahead of their match-up on Smackdown. Orton posed in the ring before Cole plugged Champion vs. Champion between Punk and Bryan tonight. Also, the next inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame.
WINNER: Orton at 11:16. It's amazing what a month off can do for a banged-up wrestler, as Orton looked loose, fresh, inspired, and excited to be in the ring, and had an extra bounce in his step. Excellent match after the commercial and a hot crowd was fully invested in Orton. If this was the kick-start for Orton's run to WrestleMania, it was a hot start. (**1/2)
WM28 hype: Back from break, WWE ran the standard WrestleMania hype video focused on the top stars expected to be part of the PPV before focusing on John Cena, then The Rock. 62 Days Away. Back live, they showed exterior shots of Kansas City before Cole talked about the dangerous situation involving John Cena and Kane at the Rumble PPV last night. They showed still-shots of Kane taking out Zack Ryder, Eve crying after Ryder was taken out, and Kane chokeslamming Cena.
Backstage, Laurinaitis was shown shaking hands with random stagehands before approaching William Regal to ask him his son is doing. "Daughters," Regal said, before subtly noting he keeps them up in the attic. Curt Hawkins was greeted, too. And, they cut to break.
[Q4] Back live, the Funkettes were heard and a disco ball hanging atop the arena was focused on. Out came Brodus Clay with his dancers as Cole questioned why a disco ball was hanging above the ring. Cole then became excited as Clay did his intro dance number. Tyler Reks was unimpressed ringside. Lawler quipped that it's straight out of Jurassic Park with T-Reks vs. Clay.
2 -- BRODUS CLAY vs. TYLER REKS
Clay jiggled and intimidated Reks with various shaking before accepting a boot to the face. Reks followed with a dropkick that took Clay down to one knee, but Clay started to Funk Up before delivering a belly-to-belly suplex. Clay followed with his "What The Funk?" body splash for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Clay at 1:04.
Raw tonight: Will Triple H fire Laurinaitis?
Locker room: C.M. Punk was shown lacing up his boots before Daniel Bryan walked into the shot. Punk questioned Bryan on his "role model" claim before saying no one knows what a vegan is. Bryan promoted being a vegan before saying not a lot of people know what straight-edge is. Punk promoted his lifestyle, but said he doesn't claim to be a role model. He said he just claims to be the Best Wrestler in the World.
This Wednesday: WWE debuts nine webisodes on YouTube.
Back live, C.M. Punk's music played to bring out the WWE champion for the top-of-the-second-hour main event. As Punk made his way to the ring, Cole plugged the Raw brand's Elimination Chamber WWE Title match next month. D-Bryan then came out to boos before doing a slick unzip-the-jacket, point-to-the-belt-and-lean-back move a la Bret Hart. Interestingly enough, Cole plugged a "Fantasy Match-up" between Bryan and Bret Hart examined in the new WWE Magazine issue.
3 -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK vs. World Hvt. champion DANIEL BRYAN -- non-title Champion vs. Champion match
The match started with Bryan in control before teasing a surfboard stretch that he turned into a stomp. Bryan followed with a kick strike before slapping Punk across the face. Punk followed with a kick strike as Cole noted that Bryan's Chamber opponents will be announced on Friday's Smackdown. He added that the champions after the Chamber will defend their titles at Mania. Bryan regained control leading to the top of the hour.
[Q5 -- second hour] The announcers started switching about Bryan, with Cole starting to warm up to Bryan based on being a vegan and Lawler mocking Bryan. The match moved to the floor, where the two men traded forearm blows. Bryan then tossed Punk over the guardrail into the front row as the referee's ten count continued. Punk made a desperation leap back into the ring just before ten to continue the match. Cole reset the action as Punk and Bryan traded control with both men back in the ring.
Bryan missed with a corner dropkick, then Punk made a cover for a two count. Punk applied a reverse chinlock as Cole went back to heeling on Bryan and Lawler went back to defending Bryan. Bryan then ducked a clothesline before the two men collided hard in the middle of the ring. Cole sent the show to commercial at 6:00 with Bryan and Punk selling the effects.
Back from break, Bryan had Punk secured in a submission lock. Bryan cockily bent Punk's fingers to apply more pressure before stretching the heck out of Punk's torso into a pin for a two count. Bryan stood up, smirked, raised his arms in the air, and went up top, but Punk crotched him. Punk then chopped away at Bryan's chest before climbing up top for a huracanrana after shouting "Best in the World" in Bryan's face. The two men came to their feet and Punk delivered knock-down offense, followed by a swinging neckbreaker. Punk connected with a corner knee followed by a bulldog.
Punk called for the GTS, but Bryan slipped out and bailed to the floor. Bryan shook his head, then turned around to take a baseball slide. Punk wanted a suicide dive, but Bryan intercepted with a forearm. Bryan then went up top for a missile dropkick that connected for a two count. Cole called it an even match-up since the get-go. Bryan then stalked Punk to deliver kick strikes to the chest. A fourth missed, though, and Punk rolled up Bryan for a two count. Bryan then came back with a standing huracanrana, but Punk rolled through into a roll-up for a two count. Bryan immediately came back with a kick to the head and scored a close nearfall.
A dueling chant picked up as Bryan dragged Punk to the corner and hoisted Punk up-top. Bryan wanted a superplex, but Punk blocked and headbutted Bryan to the mat. Punk then stood up on the top turnbuckle and signaled for the Macho Man elbow drop, which he connected with. Punk made a cover, but Bryan kicked out. Punk then tried the GTS, but Bryan countered with a crucifix pin for a nearfall. Bryan went right into the LeBell Lock, but Punk slipped out and catapulted Bryan into the corner. Punk followed with a swift kick to the head and Bryan slipped to the apron.
Suddenly, Chris Jericho stormed the ringside area, flung Bryan away for a DQ ending, and dropped Punk with a codebreaker in the ring. Jericho stared down Punk with an icy glare, then Justin Roberts actually gave the announcement of Bryan winning the match. Bryan's music played and he celebrated his victory on the way out of the ring. They went to a replay of Jericho's attack before Lawler note he doesn't understand that attack. They cut to a shot of Jericho on the stage smirking toward the crowd as Punk tried to recover in the ring.
WINNER: Bryan via DQ at 15:07. Excellent showcase of Punk and Bryan's skills in the ring. Just an excellent match before setting up the expected Punk-Jericho feud. When was the last time Raw had two excellent wrestling matches on the same show? (***1/2)
[Q6] Announcers: Cole said a Hall of Fame-caliber match-up was interrupted by Jericho, then Lawler introduced today's announcement of Mike Tyson being inducted into the "Celebrity Wing" of the Hall of Fame. The video package included clips of Mike Tyson's Attitude Era involvement and mainstream media coverage of Tyson ringside for "one of the most important matches" in WWE history that led to the rise of Stone Cold as WWF champion in 1998. Back live, Cole said TMZ broke the story and ESPN covered it today.
In-ring: R-Truth's music played to bring out Truth in non-wrestling street gear. The announcers sold they weren't sure why Truth was coming to the ring before Raw cut to break.
Back live, Truth was on commentary with Cole and Lawler. Kofi Kingston's music played to set up one of the other matches Laurinaitis introduced at the top of the show. As Kofi came out, Cole plugged the "world premiere" of WWE's new Web Series debuting on YouTube this Wednesday. The Miz was out next and he had microphone in-hand. On the stage, Miz folded his arms and mocked Kofi creating "social media buzz" by doing a handstand. "A handstand. Really? Really?" Miz said. Miz then noted he lasted over 45 minutes in the Rumble, stumbled over one of his lines, and said his Road to WrestleMania has taken a few detours, but he will beat Kofi tonight and every other wrestler in the Elimination Chamber to advance to headline Mania again.
4 -- THE MIZ vs. R-TRUTH
Miz and Truth traded control as Truth talked up his Chamber chances. Miz then glared toward Truth, who laughed and said Miz looks so angry. Miz maintained control before Cole excitedly talked up Kofi's handstand to avoid elimination last night. Miz cut off Kofi's comeback with a snap DDT for a nearfall, then Miz mocked Kofi and missed with a corner attack.
Kofi followed up with a high cross-body block for a nearfall, before Miz and Kofi traded finishing move teases while the announcers completely missed the action. Kofi suddenly nailed Trouble in Paradise and made the cover for the win. After a replay, Kofi was shown celebrating in the ring before they went to a still-shot of Kofi's handstand during the Rumble last night.
WINNER: Kingston at 4:15. Very surprising clean result considering Kingston has been floundering with or without Evan Bourne the past few months. Right now, it just looks like renewed focus on Kingston leading to the Chamber, but perhaps it will turn into something more permanent for Kofi. (*3/4)
[Q7] Backstage: John Laurinaitis was texting in his office. David Otunga then walked in to tell Laurinaitis he's done everything possible to try to influence Triple H's decision tonight. Laurinaitis wanted to make sure Otunga wasn't looking to take his job, though, and Otunga assured him he enjoys his position, which had a title too long for a letter. Otunga walked off, and Laurinaitis frowned.
Back live, Lawler voiced-over a WrestleMania hype piece as they showed the WM28 logo hanging above the ring. Cole then introduced the documentary-style video on The Rock that aired last night at the Rumble. Back live, Cole plugged Rock's new movie, "Journey 2," before the announcers plugged Rock vs. Cena at WM28 on April 1.
Up Next: Divas Title on the line between champion Beth Phoenix and Eve.
Back live, Cole plugged the debut of WWE's new YouTube shows, including "WWE Inbox." Clips of Heath Slater and Daniel Bryan talking were shown in a YouTube graphic.
5 -- Divas champion BETH PHOENIX vs. EVE -- Divas Title match
Eve came out first and kept looking over her shoulder, nervous about Kane's whereabouts. Beth Phoenix took advantage of Eve's mind being elsewhere and quickly delivered the Glam Slam for the win.
WINNER: Phoenix at 0:30 to retain the Divas Title.
Post-match: The arena turned red and Kane appeared on the video screen to ask Eve how it feels to know everything that happened to Zack Ryder could have been avoided if John Cena just "embraced the hate." Kane said Cena continues to ignore him while looking ahead to The Rock at Mania. He said until Cena embraces the hate, he can't beat him and he can't beat Rock. So, he will continue inflicting as much pain as humanly possible on Ryder until Cena embraces the hate. Tonight, he's going to use Eve as a conduit to pass that message along. "Sicko," Cole muttered under his breath. Pyro and flames then shot off and the announcers said Eve is frozen with fear. No sign of Kane. Kane then snuck in the back door and scared Eve across the ring.
Suddenly, John Cena's music played and Cena stormed the ring to save the day. Cena blasted away at Kane, but Kane turned the tables. Then, Cena gained the advantage. Kane slipped out of the ring and the fight continued ringside. Kane gained the advantage, but Cena reversed a whip into the ring steps and Kane ate the steps. Cena then hoisted the ring steps into the air and ran the steps into Kane's left shoulder. Cena clenched his jaw and smiled before screaming at Kane to get up, leading to a second ring steps shot. Cena told Kane that every time he gets up, he's going to knock him down. Cena went for a third and connected. Cena then threw down the ring steps before tearing apart the announce table on the opposite side of the ringside area.
Cena grabbed a mic and popped Kane before announcing they're going to have a party up in here. Cena then dragged Kane to the announce table and went for the Attitude Adjustment, but Kane slipped out and hopped over the guardrail to run away. Cole said Kane is retreating through the crowd. Cena then jumped into the ring to celebrate as his music played and Kane disappeared to the back. Cole said Cena is in a zone and as "emotionally involved" as they have ever seen him. Cole said something happened to Cena last night at the Rumble and he snapped.
Backstage, John Laurinaitis was shown walking down the hallway. Divas laughed in the background as Laurinaitis walked the long road with a frown on his face. Cole quickly slipped in, "Triple H is next," as they cut to commercial.
Smackdown plug: Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett on Friday's Smackdown.
Back live, Justin Roberts introduced John Laurinaitis to boos. No sign of Laurinaitis, though. After a pause, he emerged on-stage and made a slow walk to the ring. Lawler said Laurinaitis simply presented a good show tonight to save his job. The crowd chanted, "Na na na, goodbye," as Laurinaitis made his way into the ring. Once in the ring, Laurinaitis said he's been looking forward to this moment all week. Before Triple H comes out, though, he wants to make a case for himself. He then lied about Raw TV ratings being up compared to the same time last year. Laurinaitis also mentioned a self-evaluation process, noting he gave himself a lot of fives on a 0-5 scale.
[Q9 -- over-run] Laurinaitis ran down the categories where he gave himself a five, then Triple H's music suddenly interrupted. Out came Triple H dressed in a suit with a half-smile on his face. Hunter held up five fingers in a mocking and questioning way before marching to the ring. Cole noted Hunter is Laurinaitis's direct boss before Hunter entered the ring and tried not to laugh in Laurinaitis's face. In the ring, Hunter waited out the loud applause he was hearing in his head before approaching Laurinaitis to note he gave himself a lot of fives.
Hunter got down to business. He told him to forget all of the evaluations on paper. Hunter took a page from Punk's book tearing down Laurinaitis before noting he's been worse than everyone else in his position. Hunter said Laurinaitis not only grabbed the power, but tried to use the role to make himself a star. Laurinaitis said he's got it all wrong. Hunter told him not to lie and make it worse. He noted Laurinaitis has personally involved himself in a lot of things, including involving himself in the WWE Title match at the Rumble last night.
Hunter paused, then noted when Vince McMahon ran Raw, he let personal decisions cloud his judgment and he had to be replaced. Same with him. He said Laurinaitis has done it, too. Laurinaitis blurted out that he'll do anything to keep his job. Hunter said that's part of his problem - being vague with direction. Hunter told him to go ahead and apologize to the crowd. Laurinaitis tried to apologize, but the crowd booed, not accepting the apology. Hunter polled the crowd, which booed some more.
Hunter cracked a joke, then noted he could make Laurinaitis a WWE Superstar right now. Say, in a gauntlet match with every WWE wrestler in the back. He said that's probably not fair. Oh, if only he had a good idea. Hunter said he's got it. He said when Vince was in charge and he had an employee who he needed to see where his or her loyalties were, he would have that person join a certain club. After a pause for the crowd to recognize the KMA Club reference, Laurinaitis said he doesn't need to prove his loyalty. The crowd chanted for Laurinaitis to drop to his knees, so he did and puckered up. Hunter then turned around and laughed in his face. "What's the matter with you?" he asked.
Hunter said he's not going to do any of this silly stuff. He said he's going to do the one thing that needs to be done. Hunter said the Board has seen him put his personal problems aside and he can come back to run Raw whenever he feels like it. He said it truly warms his heart to let Laurinaitis know, "I truly wish you well in all your..." Suddenly, the gong struck. Lightning flashed. The crowd shrieked. Hunter went from all-smiles to dead serious. And, there's The Undertaker. Undertaker slowly walked out on-stage and glared into the ring. Taker, looking slim and with very long hair reaching his shoulders emerging from underneath his hat (that had to be a wig), made his return to the ring after a 10-month absence.
The camera cut to a side angle of Hunter in the middle of the ring holding his position while Taker stood on the ring steps. Taker then slipped into the ring and circled Hunter, who clenched his fist and watched every move. Taker's music stopped and he came within inches of Hunter. "Taker, Taker" chant. The two men continued to lock eyes as the crowd turned quiet. Taker then looked up toward the WM28 logo before returning to Hunter's eyes. Taker did the throat-slash gesture before looking back toward the logo. Hunter then relaxed his pose, nodded slightly, placed his hand on Taker's shoulder as if to say "no," and slipped out of the ring.
Hunter marched up the ramp to the back, leaving Taker in the ring. Taker then turned towards the WM28 logo as the crowd roared. Hunter paused, then disappeared to the back. That left Taker in the ring. The gong hit again and Taker glared toward the entrance stage. Raw signed off 17 minutes past the top of the hour.
FINAL THOUGHTS: And, Raw is back after a series of up-and-down shows. This was a hot show with two strong matches, strong initial build-up to WrestleMania, and Undertaker's return to set in motion what looks like a two-month story arc of Hunter not believing Taker can beat him again.
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