It’s Martin Luther King Day. Let’s see if Vince and co. demean and African-Americans this week. If JTG is here it’s a gimme. John Cena opens the show after the obligatory tribute to MLK. Cena still claims he’s entering the Royal Rumble but I don’t see it. He calls out CM Punk but it’s The Miz with Alex Reilly both in fine suits. The Miz claims to be a far better champion than Cena. I’m not sure he’s wrong.
Ok huge announcement. The Royal Rumble will have FORTY entrants. I’m stunned. The Rumble was something you don’t mess with but now it stands to be a far longer match unless they really slash entry times. Still, more entrants means more eliminations and I’m all for that. Cena picks up a Rocky cue and does a bad impression. Why is that supposed to make me think he’s tough? Cena calls out Miz for surviving on his lackeys and ducking fights. Miz claims he can outbrawl and outwrestle anyone ever. Cena figures he can win the Rumble then face Orton at Wrestlemania since Miz won’t make it past the Rumble.
Now Punk and “The New Nexus” which contains one member of the original Nexus show up. Punk looks like he’s been punched in the eye. So I was wrong, Cena, Punk and all of Nexus are in the new 40-man Rumble. Nexus will be determined to make Punk win. And Punk send the juniors to attack Cena. Weirdly, it’s the tag team champions who come to the rescue. Nexus regroups and Punk decides to join them. But the anonymous RAW General Manager e-pipes up to book Punk versus Cena tonight with the rest of Nexus barred from ringside. If they interfere they are out of the Rumble. We announce a match tonight between Dolph Ziggler and Randy Orton, number one contender versus number one contender, before we finally go to commercial after a seventeen minute promo.
The tag team championships are now on the line. But not against members of Nexus like would make sense. No, the match is against the Usos. Given the competitors I don’t expect much from this match and I don’t get it. The Cobra gets the win yet again. But now we should get a great match as Daniel Bryan takes on John Morrison! A fast-paced start leads into a commercial. Really? A commercial during this match? Am I that far out of their target audience? We return with Morrison using a submission hold on Bryan. There’s a nice bump where they both go for Crossbody Blocks at the same time and collide in mid-air in an X. It turns out to be quite a good match for TV and it’s actually Morrison who picks up the win. They shake hands after the match but Sheamus suddenly interrupts to claim Morrison only stepped up his game to face him. He made Morrison and he can break him. Here’s someone else who is going to win the Rumble. How are they going to arrange for 40-men to go over the rope at exactly the same time? Not sure where we go from here but I’m glad I saw the match. Why do the Bellas hang out with Daniel Bryan? They want to be his first. And they are betting who can do it. This is PG?
We’re halfway through the show and the only African American who has appeared is David Otunga, and he didn’t get to speak.
Here’s Vickie to introduce Dolph. I cannot say this enough: Jim Johnston is the most underrated man on the WWE staff. Just listen to “Voices” and compare it to any random TNA theme song and you’ll see who the advantage goes to. “Voices” is on my MP3 player and when it came on today I listened to it twice. These two put on a good back and forth match, getting the crowd hyped up. There’s a long Sleeper Hold segment that makes both these guys look like dynamite. But Orton escapes and hits an RKO right after for the win. Ziggler winning here would have been a big boost to his career and interference from Vickie or The Miz could have protected Orton. Instead, Miz and Reilly attack Orton right after the match and appear to injure his knee. Miz looks to put Orton through the announce desk but Jerry Lawler interferes enough to prevent it. But Miz and Reilly end up overcoming both of them and it’s the dapper champion who stands tall at the end.
Natalya faces Maryse with Eve on commentary. Yeah, who cares? Ted Dibiase issues a top rope challenge. Mark Henry answers. Here’s our token African American winner of the night. William Regal, Yoshi Tatus and Tyson Kidd and a host of other guys usually seen on Superstars (Zack Ryder!) show up to have an unofficial Battle Royal. There’s Darren Young and R-Truth (who deserves better) so add some more black guys. Sheamus shows up late to clear the ring. But Mark Henry is able to eliminate Sheamus. Happy MLK Day pal. Now here comes Alberto Del Rio. Cars are bad for the environment. But the expensive ones are really cool. He cuts a good promo, it’s his destiny to win the biggest Rumble ever and he is the greatest of the great.
Why is Derrick Bateman on RAW? Doing a fake ad for a Mark Henry cologne? That was the worst sketch in a long time. I love the Royal Rumble promos where they throw out cool stats about the Rumble. The best one is that 92 tons of people have competed in the Rumble. The question is, are they counting people only once or each time they enter? With 40 men in Kane’s record of 11 eliminations could fall. Kane, entering his 13th consecutive Rumble, could do it himself.
Main event time. Punk hits a number of nice move, Cena does a sweet reversal of the Go To Sleep into an STF but Punk makes the ropes to keep the match going. AA escaped, Anaconda Vice leads to great selling but it’s Cena’s turn to make the ropes. Some new wrestler with a build like Batista shows up and distracts Cena to allow Punk to kick him in the head. Punk just offers himself up as a sacrifice and the new guy kicks Punk in the head. This means Punk wins by DQ. Nexus shows up to defend Punk but Punk stares the new guy down with a Manson like look and the new guy kneels before him. Punk puts the armband on him and why are we even calling it Nexus anymore? The Smackdown faction is far more Nexus than this one. Cena doesn’t even get up as the Not-us raise their arms in the ring.
The main event was a good match with a bad finish. The Orton/Ziggler match was a good match with the wrong finish. The Derrick Bateman sketch was awful; the Bella stuff is awful. But we get a 40-man Rumble so I’m going to give this show the thumbs up. Enjoy NXT and TNA if you watch them. See you Friday for Smackdown.