Punk, Rock hyped on Raw
Two big television shows to kick off the new year by WWE, an aptly-named first pay per view of 2013 from TNA set for tonight and a big honor for everybody's favorite former wrestler who visits Knoebels on a regular basis are among our headlines this week.
The first Raw of the year featured an extended dueling promo between C.M. Punk and The Rock close the show as the two began setting the table for what is expected to be an epic battle at the Royal Rumble in two weeks. Although some people raved about it, it probably went about ten minutes too long. I have never really been a huge fan of Rock or his clichéd lines (or anyone else who tends to rely on repeating the same signature lines or moves) and would have preferred he spend more time and been more serious about his desire to regain the belt after not having it around his waist for the past ten years.
Punk had successfully defended his WWE title earlier on the show in a pretty brutal Tables, Ladders and Chairs match against Ryback. It was Punk's first bout back after arthroscopic knee surgery. It was a well-executed gimmick match and Punk looked remarkably normal for a guy coming off recent surgery on one of his wheels. He wrestled with reckless abandon, took plenty of bumps and fearlessly climbed the high ladder to retrieve the title belt from its perch after considerable interference by the Shield.
Normally, Punk puts together interesting promos and he started off fine by calling out former champions in typical, exaggerated heel form. He facetiously belittled Bruno Sammartino for only wrestling once a month at Madison Square Garden as champion, which is transparently false and ridiculous at the same time and a classic way to generate heel heat.
Apparently, somehow Superstar Billy Graham didn't understand what Punk was actually doing and tweeted that he was so indignant that Punk would be allowed by WWE to say such things about Bruno that he didn't want to be associated with the company and its Hall of Fame. Is that wink, wink, Billy? Or, can you be that naïve for real? Unfortunately, Punk had to keep going too long before Rock came out to the expected huge reaction in Tampa.
The entire segment actually went for about twenty-five minutes. It all ended with Punk taking a Rock-bottom as they went off the air in front of a sold-out live audience and the best television rating for WWE since August. That was somewhat impressive because Notre-Dame and Alabama drew a monstrous rating, though the game was over early for all intents and purposes.
The first Smackdown of 2013 had an appearance by the Great One also, but was more significant as a show because it saw the world heavyweight championship change hands when Alberto Del Rio upset Big Show to capture the gold. Mick Foley was announced as the first member of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013. He is most deserving on several different levels and there will be nothing cheap about the pop he gets this spring at the Garden, an arena to which he hitch-hiked as a young fan to see the infamous Snuka-Muraco cage match in the early 1980s.
TNA will present the first pay per view of the year with Genesis tonight from Orlando. It will be highlighted by a three-way with Jeff Hardy defending the company's heavyweight championship against both Bobby Roode and Austin Aries. Sting returns to battle Doc and Christopher Daniels battles James Storm. The big angle on Impact this week seemed to be the suspended Bully Ray planning to marry Brooke Hogan on next Thursday's show-sad, but true. And they wonder why I wear a mask to write about this stuff.
(Shamokin's Bill Gilger "arranges" the interview each week with The Insider)