Event: WWE Monday Night RAW
Airdate: Monday, January 17th, 2011 (USA Network)
Location: The Verizon Arena in Little Rock, Ark.
Results by Thomas Hall of 411 Wrestling

“Yes, sir, we promised you a great main event…”

The RAW opening theme hits and HERE WE GO!!

We open with a video of Martin Luther King and his I Have A Dream speech (for any non-Americans that may be confused by this, today is Martin Luther King Day in America).

Here’s Cena to open the show with a salute. I guess he’s on leave from whatever branch of the military he’s supposed to be in. We get a quick video of three weeks ago when Nexus beat up Cena and allegedly hurt his hip. This is Cena’s first (televised) appearance in a WWE ring in 2011. He has some new year’s resolutions. First is to take care of the psychopath CM Punk. Second is to read something that I couldn’t make out what he said. Third is to win the Rumble and fourth is to win the WWE Championship at Mania.

Cena says that Punk is first so if he wants some, come get some. Instead he gets Miz who along with Riley are straight up rocking some suits. Miz says that he’s the most must see champion in company history while Cena is played out. The champion confirms the 40 man aspect of the Rumble. He says that whoever wins the Rumble, they shouldn’t come after him because if they do they’ll suffer the same fate as Orton will in two weeks.

This draws a golf clap and an overly dramatic repetition of the phrase “You will lose” ala Ivan Drago. As if on cue, Cena does a Rocky impression and says if they can change then everybody can change. He points out that if not for Cole then Lawler would be champion and if not for Riley then Orton would be. Cena says that they’re like a more feminine version of the Kardashians.

The only battle that The Miz has is with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which means his body makes poop noises. “It’s PG folks, I’m doing the best I can.” Well at least he acknowledges it. Cena talks about how Miz is afraid to fight. Miz objects and says there is no doubt that he can outwrestle the greatest technicians in WWE history. He can beat Kurt Angle? Miz sets for his catchphrase but instead says he will finish that sentence when he destroys Randy Orton.

Miz is getting booed out of the building here. But I thought the internet decided he was a failure the second he won the title! HOW CAN THIS BE??? Cena says if Miz is champion let’s see him do something to prove it and gets ready to fight. Here comes Punk and Nexus, which is now the New Nexus. Wow that name sucks. It’s Punk, Otunga, Harris and McGillicutty here.

Punk says the odds are against Cena for the Rumble, partially because all of Nexus is in the Rumble too. The only purpose of the New Nexus being in the Rumble is to get Punk the win. I like the whole just flat out saying it’s all about Punk. Why lie about it? Nexus minus Punk comes to the ring and Cena is in trouble. It’s….Santino and Kozlov out for the save??? Nexus retreats and Punk says let’s try it with these odds and all four come to the ring.

E-Mail stops that though. Miz and Riley have bailed by the way. The GM wants to know the odds of Punk winning if Nexus is barred from ringside. If any Nexus member is involved they’re out of the Rumble. That announcement takes us to a break. Tag titles up next.

Also Ziggler vs. Orton tonight. They’re really pushing Dolph strong and I like it.

Tag Titles: Usos vs. Santino Marella/Vladimir Kozlov

We get big match intros for both teams but both were in the ring when we started. Impressive what something like that can do for a match. Santino and I think Jey start us off and Santino is in trouble early. This was the match that was supposed to happen last week but Nexus beat down the champions. Nice to see them tie up a tiny loose end like that for a change.

Basic formula match so far with Santino getting beaten down for a bit before he makes the lukewarm tag to the Russian dude. He destroys the guy that we’ll call Jimmy (does it really matter though?). Apparently it was Jimmy who is covered after a headbutt for two. Jey is sent to the floor and in comes Santino. Cobra ends Jimmy at 2:33. Short and not bad but not enough for a regular rating. Tamina has nice legs surprisingly enough.

Santino Marella/Vladimir Kozlov b. The Usos @ 2:33 – Cobra to Jey

Nexus minus Punk is bickering in the back and say they need to do something. Punk appears with a downright creepy smile on his face. He looks at all of them (complete with the bad looking eye from the incident at a house show over the weekend) and doesn’t seem upset at all about having to be alone tonight.

Morrison walks up to Bryan who has both very good looking Bellas with him and shakes his head. They go at it next.

John Morrison vs. Daniel Bryan

Nice pop for Morrison. During Morrison entrance we get a highlight package of his best stuff and his high spots really are rather impressive. Bellas looking incredible in cut off t-shirts and tight black pants. They do some nice counters for a wristlock and arm work to start us off. Bryan gets a suplex/takeover to get control.

Nice to see guys that are young and considered midcarders only getting a chance like this. They both hit the floor for a second and it’s a standoff back in the ring as we take a break.

A big kick to the head gets two for Bryan and the fans pop for the kickout. Both try cross bodies and they crash sending both of them down. They slug it out and neither guy can take over. Morrison counters a German and it’s an pld school pinfall reversal sequence. Morrison counters but his counter is counteres almost into the LeBell Lock. Morrison counters and gets a slingshot into the corner. Flash Kick takes Bryan down and there’s the running knee for the clean pin at 7:25. Very fun match.

John Morrison b. Daniel Bryan @ 7:25 – Running knee to the head

Rating: B. This was a very fun and entertaining match. It wasn’t the most technically sound but at times that’s ok. They played up the both guys are evenly matched aspect very well here and the whole thing came off as fast paced and entertaining. Morrison’s push continues with another big win. It’s nice for them to pick someone and stick with him and the pops seem to prove the idea correct.

They shake hands post match and it’s a nice sign of respect. It’s also a Shameful Thing as here’s King Sheamus. He says he made Morrison and can destroy both him and Bryan. All three are going to be in the Rumble and Sheamus says he’s going to eliminate both of them. LONG LIVE THE KING!

Stand Up For WWE won some Mashable Awards for best campaign or something like that.

The Bellas lust over Morrison but both are trying to be Daniel Bryan’s first. They make a bet about it of some sort. NOT PG!!! NOT PG!!! THAT IS NOT PG!!! I can’t handle this! I suddenly want to commit sins and ruin my entire life! HOW DO I HANDLE THIS????? This was kind of a heelish promo and implies they’re playing Bryan for a fool.

Here’s Vickie to introduce Ziggler. Great heat on her to say the least.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton

Orton gets a big reaction from this white hot crowd. We take a break and the bell is next.

Back with Ziggler taking Orton into the corner and pounding him down to start. Orton with a Thesz Press and right hands as they’re not even trying to hide the Austin stuff anymore. It’s down to the chinlock now with Orton firmly in control to start us off. Ziggler fights back a bit but the power of the Viper is too much and the beating continues.

Dolph gets Orton down and hooks onto the leg. Big old RKO chant as this crowd is impressive. Orton fights him off again and unleashes the clothesline. The powerslam (read a damn book Cole) puts Ziggler on the apron for the elevated DDT. It’s patented apparently. I want to see the paperwork. Dolph gets out of it though by moving his legs and drills Orton in his injured leg.

Fameasser gets two. Ziggler gets the sleeper on but Orton is a main event face so he’s immune to it. When’s the last time that move won a match? Zig Zag is countered once and then the second is countered into what was allegedly an RKO but it looked more like Ziggler just landed on Orton’s chest. Either way it gets the pin at 8:30.

Randy Orton b. Dolph Ziggler @ 8:30 – RKO

Rating: C. The ending hurts it as it didn’t look good and the leg work didn’t go anywhere. I guess it’s to set up the PPV match and give Orton a handicap. This was an ok match but I was expecting more from Ziggler. Could it be that Orton is just average in the ring? That may have something to do with it. Not bad but nothing special.

Post match and I mean almost as soon as the bell rings here are Miz and Riley for the beatdown. They go after the knee and take out Lawler who tries for the save. Nice to see an announcer actually try to do something for once. Orton’s back is rammed into the post and Miz gets in some more stomps.

Miz says pick him up because they’re not done yet. They throw Orton into the barricade which more or less explodes. They really should look into that. You can hear the director saying to keep the camera on Miz. Miz grabs a mic and does the catchphrase in the unconscious face of Orton. Cool beatdown and makes Miz look intense.

In the back Punk is talking to the Nexus about faith. He gets almost into a sermon about how to gain what you want you have to sacrifice. I have no idea what he’s talking about with his stuff about manbeasts and all that jazz. They bow their heads and that’s all there is to it. Ok then.

Maryse vs. Natalya

Cole has Eve and Melina on commentary with him here. Melina can’t answer what her issue is with Natalya. She’s been #1 contender for what, a month now? Natalya gets her down and Melina still won’t talk. Eve doesn’t seem to like Cole which is kind of funny. Maryse has apparently been giving the other Divas beauty tips. Sharpshooter ends this in 1:40. Total nothing match.

Natalya b. Maryse @ 1:40 – Sharpshooter

Post match Maryse GOES OFF on Cole and Eve shoves her and leaves. Maryse keeps going off on him until DiBiase comes out. She shouts at him too and calls him a loser that can’t win the Rumble. He grabs a mic and asks the crowd if he can. He says he’ll throw anyone over the top right now and he issues an over the top rope challenge as we take a break.

Back and naturally Mark Henry takes the challenge.

Is anyone surprised it’s Henry? Remember it’s an over the top challenge. And it’s over in 30 seconds with Henry winning. Tatsu, Kidd and Regal all run out. I’m not calling this an official match. Every jobber on the roster runs out and it’s turning into kind of a battle royal. Young, Primo, David Hart-Smith and even R-Truth is out there. Truth is by far the biggest name in this. Ryder out there too.

Henry holds up Ryder and here’s Sheamus. Henry throws him over but he holds on. Lawler is back on commentary. Henry throws him out. Cole was calling this like an actual match once everyone ran in. Henry’s music plays and here comes Alberto! He’s in a suit and is cutting a promo about how this is his destiny to go on to the biggest show of them all and all that jazz. Henry goes after him and Del Rip winks at him to end this. Not calling a 30 second toss over the top thing a match. Fun segment though.

Back with Derrick Bateman doing something like an informercial for World’s Strongest Man’s cologne. It’s made from Henry’s sweat apparently. Bateman sprays some of it and looks like he’s getting sick. A voiceover gives a bunch of health warnings over it. I have no idea what the point of this was at all.

We get the Rumble numbers package which I always love.

40 participants
24 winners
656 entrants
39 eliminations for Shawn, a record
26 Hall of Famers in the match
183,932 pounds in total, equal to 409 Big Shows
2 women in the Rumble, including Beth who eliminated Khali
11 eliminations by Kane in one Rumble
62:12 is Rey’s record for length in the Rumble which is a lie if you believe the 92 Rumble’s commentary
1 second is the record for fastest time for an elimination
3 is the most wins by a single man, in this case Austin
1 is the worst number but it has produced the most winners as the #30 spot (Shawn and a guy not listed who would be Benoit)
70 which is the percent of winners that have won the title at Mania

Music video about the Rumble follows.

We talk about the Rumble and also are told that next week it’s Edge vs. Miz. Amazing what happens to the ratings when you announce main events a week in advance: more people seem to watch.

Cena vs. Punk next. Cena is coming to the ring and steals a phone (which looks like it’s from the early 90s) and says the guy will call him back and hangs up. Ok then.

CM Punk vs. John Cena

Nexus comes out with Punk but walks back after Punk’s entrance. They stare each other down to start and the fight is on. Cena gets the bulldog and hammers away. Punk is reeling early on. Cena dominates for awhile until Cena ducks his head and Punk gets a HARD kick to the shoulder. Baseball slide puts Cena on the floor as we take a break.

Back with Cena in a modified triangle choke (I know nothing about MMA so that could be entirely wrong). He fights up but gets caught in a DDT and back to the same hold. Cena gets up again and starts his ending sequence. Punk gets a leg lariat to stop him though and gets the corner clothesline and bulldog for two.

Attempt at the GTS but Cena grabs the leg and goes into the STF. Cole looks like he’s giving head to the table while he’s shouting so much. Punk grabs the rope and both men are down. FU is blocked and Punk gets his springboard clothesline for two. Punk gets a Downward Spiral and stays on the mat to pull his leg around the throat of Cena in a choke which is called the Anaconda Vice, which it definitely isn’t. After a close call he gets the rope.

A big boot puts Cena on the floor. Punk tries a tope but Cena catches him in mid air and rams him into the post. Cena looks to fly but Punk catches him with a right hand. Punk tries a suplex but Cena shoves him off. The top rope legdrop gets two and here comes….some very large man. He looks like Batista to the point where I’d believe they were related.

The guy stares down Punk in the ring and Punk smiles. WWE security is awful by the way. I think this might be Mason Ryan, the FCW dude. Punk holds his arms up in a cross and lets the guy kick him in the head for the DQ at approximately 15:00. He hits Cena with a modified Rock Bottom as Nexus runs out to defend Punk but he says step aside. The big guy takes a knee to Punk and does the salute. Punk takes a Nexus band off his ankle or out of his shoe and puts it on the guy, making him the newest member.

b. John Cena via DQ @ 15:00 when a man interfered

Rating: B-. This match got borderline epic a few times. The kickouts and false finishes were all great and I like that there wasn’t a definitive ending. Neither guy was dominating as the match ended which shows that Punk can in fact hang with Cena and maybe even beat him. Adding an enforcer is a good thing too, making this a good ending to the show.

They do the salute and AGAIN we hear the director saying where to keep the camera. A shot of them ends the show.
Credit: Thomas Hall

BACKSTAGE FIGHT At RAW in the afternoon hours…..