By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Great segment to kick off the show featuring Bad Influence and the returning Magnus. Daniels and Kazarian continue to be one of the most entertaining acts in all of wrestling with their hilarious antics each and every week. Dressing up as Scots was brilliant and Magnus' interruption was well-timed. He received an awesome pop from his hometown crowd and was excellent on the mic. Having him call out Devon made sense given the fact that Aces and 8s took out Magnus a few months ago and it played into the concept of Open Fight Night nicely.
Good match with Magnus defeating Devon by disqualification. It didn't blow me away or anything, but it served its purpose and was well-wrestled. As much as I want Aces & 8s to start winning matches, it would've been a mistake to have Magnus lose on his home turf, so the disqualification was a smart way of working around that.
Brock Lesnar returns by laying out Mr. McMahon with an an F-5.
Great opening segment featuring CM Punk, Paul Heyman and Mr. McMahon. Punk was incredibly intense while claiming that his title loss to The Rock at Royal Rumble was a fluke and deemed it the Phoenix Screwjob. He was already aggressive before, but Punk's anger can intensify now that he's no longer WWE Champion. This was also successful in setting up the confrontation between Heyman and McMahon later in the night.
Good match between Randy Orton and United States Champion Antonio Cesaro with The Miz as the special guest referee. Sure, this is the fourth time we've seen this match in the last few weeks, but it never gets old for me personally. They have solid chemistry in the ring and Miz acting as the special guest referee here makes sense given his recent rivalry with Cesaro. I have no problem with Orton winning (again), as it furthered his feud with Miz effectively.
Fine segment featuring Ryback and Prime Time Players. The "Make Me Laugh" stipulation didn't do much for this viewer, and I saw it as a waste of an opportunity to use Ryback in his hometown of Sin City. Although it was fun while it lasted, it amazes me that Ryback went from being one of the final two in the Royal Rumble match to this filler of a segment. I feel no sympathy for Matt Striker getting brutalized by Ryback, simply because he had it coming to him.
Brief match with Bo Dallas defeating Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett in a surprising upset victory. The match never really got started since it lasted a mere two minutes, but it was a nice win for Dallas and a great way to debut him on Raw. It was very reminiscent of 1-2-3 Kid's victory over Razor Ramon in the early years of Raw and I'm hoping it has the same impact as that monumental moment. I'm interested to see where this goes from here seeing how Dallas isn't involved in the Intercontinental Cup on Main Event.
Meaningless match with John Cena defeating Cody Rhodes. It was a quick squash victory for Cena that didn't do anything to benefit anyone involved. As Rhodes said himself, this was truly a waste of his talent. As for Cena's subsequent promo, he delivered it well, but I feel as if this should've been hyped beforehand as a bigger deal. I'm glad he was in serious mode here and not giving away his gamer tag, but I would've liked to see this promo come a little bit further down the road. The Shield's attack on Cena, Sheamus and Ryback was very well done and I hope to see the six Superstars involved in some sort of a tag team Elimination Chamber match at the next pay-per-view.
Harmless Dance Contest between Tensai and Brodus Clay. It didn't drag on too long and I found Tensai dancing in lingerie somewhat humorous. It seems as if they're trying to convert Tensai into a comedy act and possibly into a tag team with Clay, which I'd be with content with. Hardly anyone cares for Tensai as a heel, so why not turn him face and see what happens?
Effective segment with Big Show attacking both World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez. It played into the duct tape finish (which I still find stupid) of their match at Royal Rumble and put heat back on Show. It managed to continue their feud, make Del Rio and Rodriguez sympathetic, and make Show look like a ruthless monster. Nicely done.
The Rock captures his first WWE title in over a decade.
Good match with Antonio Cesaro successfully retaining his United States Championship against The Miz. They worked a well-wrestled match and the crowd seemed steadily behind Miz, which is a good indicator that his face turn is slowly working. I'm glad he didn't full lock in the poorly executed Figure Four, and he was protected via the knee injury he received during the contest. This was a great win for Cesaro in defeating a former WWE Champion and the bout ended in a way that the feud can continue beyond this point.
Entertaining Last Man Standing match with Alberto Del Rio successfully retaining his World Heavyweight Championship against Big Show. They made great use of the surrounding environment and utilized the weapons effectively as well. The spot with Big Show performing a Chokeslam to Del Rio through the table near the stage was very cool and it created a nice sense of suspense. This match was flat at points, but Show and Del Rio kept the action going at a good pace throughout. I'm a huge fan of the finish seeing how it was used in the John Cena vs. Batista match at Extreme Rules 2010, but keeping the belt on Del Rio was still a logical move.
Decent match with Team Hell No successfully retaining their WWE Tag Team Championships against Team Rhodes Scholars. We've seen this match countless times before, the action was nothing really out of the ordinary. That was well received by the Phoenix crowd, who were practically dead for this bout, and who can really blame them? The titles should've changed hands here and I don't wish to see the feud continue if the same result is going to occur each time. However, I'm fine with Team Hell No keeping the titles since they've been a fun tandem thus far and provide quality matchups.
By Carson Koschik
The Royal Rumble, arguably WWE's most anticipated PPV behind WrestleMania, is mere hours away and it is slated to be one hell of an event. The WWE Championship and the Royal Rumble are the two matches that are the most anticipated, but the other matches on the card have still managed to remain relevant and intriguing. Well, it's time for me to tell you the odds for each match, what I want to happen, and what I predict will happen for each match. Here we go!
Antonio Cesaro (c) vs. The Miz
Odds: The United States Champion Antonio Cesaro only has a 1-7 chance of retaining his title, while the Miz has a 1-2 chance of winning his third United States Championship.
Want: I am a fan of both men. I have been a Miz fan since day one (of him wrestling in actual trunks, that is) and I have followed Cesaro from his ROH days. Therefore, it doesn't really matter to me who wins too much, but if I was suddenly a part of the WWE Creative team, I would choose Cesaro to go over in this match. Although he's been a pretty good champion, successfully defending the title against Santino Marella, R-Truth, and Zack Ryder isn't really that impressive. Defeating the newly turned babyface Miz would add credibility to the United States Championship and Cesaro himself.
Prediction: The Miz just turned face and Ric Flair handed him the Figure Four Leglock to use for himself. If that isn't an indication that he's walking away with the United States Championship, I don't know what is. Miz wins after making Cesaro tap out to the Figure Four.