Thoughts and Deliberations from Monday Night Raw 1-23-12

If last night confirmed anything for us, it showed us that the Big Red Machine is back and back with a vengeance. This looked like the Kane of old and when Zack Ryder stepped into the ring for a falls count anywhere match, you knew he was in for trouble. The “match”, if you even want to call it that, went on for quite a while, with Ryder maybe getting one solid hit in on Kane. The rest of it was him getting absolutely brutalized, culminated with him getting choke-slammed right through the metal stage. Ryder lay motionless as Eve looked on in tears, but then, things went from bad to worse. The idiot himself, John Cena, came out AGAIN to say he would take care of this and have Ryder’s back. This needs to stop because as SITB co-editor Phil so aptly put it, Ryder needs to part with his new bro Cena or else he is going to lose his entire fan base. We’ll see what happens when Cena takes on Kane this Sunday at the Royal Rumble, but here’s to hoping that Cena and Ryder is a thing of the past.

Phoenix also witnessed something that no other WWE city has witnessed in 2012, and that is hearing Chris Jericho speak into a microphone. Although he only spoke very briefly, what he uttered is actually pretty promising. Granted the majority of the time he was out there he was shushing the crowd, he uttered these crowd pleasing words as he finished his segment: “This Sunday at the Royal Rumble, it’s going to be the end of the world as you know it.” So now we know that not only is Jericho going to be participating in the Royal Rumble, but apparently has something pretty big up his sleeve. Honestly though, if they keep up this ridiculous heel gimmick they have going with him into Sunday, it would be genius. What they have done with Y2J since his return has been nothing short of amazing. They have him polarize the crowd night in and night out, and he continues to do nothing. He goes from the most loved guy in the arena, right back to the heel in only a few minutes. Imagine if they pulled a stunt like that at the Royal Rumble? I probably wouldn’t be mad.

Last night also saw the return of Jericho’s infamous segment, the Highlight Reel. It was a pretty cool segment and you can watch the clip below.

In other noteworthy news, Brodus “Funkasaurus” Clay won another match, this time taking Heath Slater out in what seemed like 2 minutes. Clay and his new character have been growing on me in recent weeks, but again, he gets a nonsense match against a joke of an opponent. I really think the Funkasaurus is growing on the WWE Universe and that he will be getting a bit of a push soon. Maybe they will use the Royal Rumble to catapult Clay into the mix of contenders or maybe we’ll be forced to watch countless two minute matches and wonder what could be with this massive superstar.

I am going to make a bold Royal Rumble prediction based off of one of last nights matches. The Miz lost to R-Truth (who is getting really annoying) in a match that saw the loser get stuck in the first slot at the Royal Rumble. This means once the 30 Man Rumble starts Sunday, The Miz is going to be the first man in the ring. If he is to win the match, he would need to beat out 29 other competitors to take the cake. I do not think Miz is going to come out the winner, but I am predicting a serious run. Miz is too talented to be stuck in the rut he is in, feuding with R-Truth, and I think a serious run in the Royal Rumble will help his case. Again, you heard it here, Miz is going to last a long time in the Rumble, I’m predicting somewhere in the low to mid twenties.

The big news of the evening centered around CM Punk and John Laurinaitis. Raw started off with Punk coming to the ring and calling out Laurinaitis, verbally humiliating him in front of the WWE Universe, and seeking justice for all the misdoings that Laurinaitis has been responsible for against Punk. Instead that dolt Cena strolls out to he can plea for a match with Kane and that Ryder gets a re-match for his United States Championship. Again ENOUGH with the Cena-Ryder schtick. It sucks. Then Laurinaitis created a tag team match of CM Punk and Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. This paired up WWE Champion CM Punk against the number one contender Dolph Ziggler for the fourth time in recent weeks, and Ziggler ended up pinning Punk…again. Of course Laurinaitis had something to do with the outcome…again, which drove Punk to his boiling point. He called out the Executive Vice President for Talent Relations and the Interim Raw General Manager and challenged him to a bout later in the evening. Much to our disbelief, Laurinaitis accepted!

Guess what? That match never happened. Shocker I know, but at least something awesome happened. Laurinaitis came out with his boy toy David Otunga and read a letter to the crowd and to Punk. The letter was from Triple-H and the rest of the Board of Directors and it said that Laurinaitis was under evaluation and that his decision making ability has been called into question. It now seems evident that Laurinaitis will have to call a fair match between CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler on Sunday when the WWE Championship is on the line. This is huge news because all along it was clear that Laurinaitis was going to do what he could as the guest referee to screw Punk out of his title.

I really have no idea and really no opinion on who wins the WWE Championship on Sunday. Punk has been at or near the top for a long time and the WWE Universe could use a shake up, and a guy like Ziggler has been climbing the mountain for a while so I would not be shocked to see him take the belt. However, Punk has been and still is the best the WWE has to offer. He is the total package and having him with the title is great for the company because it keeps its older fans happy. Ziggler wouldn’t neccesarily upset the masses, and having a true heel at the top would be fun, but whatever happens, the WWE Title match on Sunday promises to be a great one.

Royal Rumble Predictions:

WWE Championship: Dolph Ziggler defeats CM Punk

Triple Threat Steel Cage Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show vs. Mark Henry: Daniel Bryan wins and keeps his belt, feeding off of the anger from the Big Show’s brutal attack on his girlfriend a mere two weeks ago.

John Cena vs. Kane: Kane defeats Cena with a choke-slam to hell

30 Man Royal Rumble: Randy Orton returns with a bang and wins the Rumble, but not without fights from The Miz and Chris Jericho.

I had to include this segment from last night. EWWWWWW.

The Rise and Fall of Zack Ryder

For all you non-wrestling fans, this post is not for you.  There will be a lot of wrestling terms and insight.  Sorry, we like wrestling here at SITB.   You can tell me its fake all you want, but IT’S STILL REAL TO ME DAMMIT!

Zack Ryder, the Long Island Iced Z, still has yet to really settle into the WWE as a superstar entertainer.  His time in the WWE has been short, and his time as a relevant personality has been even shorter.  However, in the same short amount of time he has been able to make an impact on RAW and in other ways no other wresteler has ever done before.  His career is far from over, but lately the direction of Zack Ryder’s career has been anything but positive.  It’s not his fault either, which is the strangest thing about it.  The blame can be laid on the WWE’s most popular superstar, John Cena.

First a look at Ryder’s roots and where he has emerged from.  Zack made his WWE debut on the smaller brand and now defunct show, “ECW.”  Known as Brett Major at the time he teamed with, “brother” Brian Major, (Curt Hawkins), to win a tag team match in early 2007 in their initial TV showing.  It would stand to be their only victory while on ECW.

A month later, both the Majors were drafted to a more popular brand and weekly taping show, “SmackDown.”  For a few weeks, the tag team would work as jobbers, losing multiple tag team matches.  Not uncommon for developmental talent, so young and new to the business.  Both Brian and Brett would lose in consecutive weeks in singles matches to Drew Macintyre as he was making a push early in his career.  Macintyre is all but invisible now in the WWE.   A month later, Major made his heel debut as both Brian and Brett dressed as Edge impersonators to help Edge win the World Heavyweight Championship at the pay per view, Armageddon.  That would be the end of the Major brothers.

Brian and Brett were rebranded and renamed as Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins.  Nothing really happened after that.  A lot of boring worthless tag matches, but still no singles push or momentum built for Ryder.  During this time, the popular TV show on MTV, Jersey Shore was starting to take off in the late summer of 2009.  Ryder has claimed multiple times he was the original inspiration for the show and Mike, “The Situation”, has ripped him off instead of the other way around.  Zack is  native of Long Island, and has developed a persona as a Long Island d-bag, who fake tans, listens to pop music and of course uses a ridiculous amount of hair product to style his hair.  The Long Island Iced Z was born.

Here is where Zack really starts to come into his own.  With essentially no matches on “Raw”, or “SmackDown”, Ryder had a lot of time on his hands.  He decided to do something about it.    He created his own youtube show in early 2011.  Z! True Long Island story was a homemade, home produced show, giving and inside look into Zack Ryder’s life and his thoughts on his career in the WWE.  He would make a weekly taping of this show for the next 10 months and is now to 40+ episodes.  They are pretty good clips too.  Especially early on, the shows had a lot of substance.  Ryder would talk about how overlooked he was and how he never gets a push.  Check out his initial video here. Ryder would promote his Twitter account, his Facebook page and continue to use all the social media outlets to promote himself while the creatives at the WWE refused to do anything with him.  Eventually Ryder became the self proclaimed, “Internet Champion.”  He even went as far as to buy a custom made $2,000 belt.

The Twitter followers came, the likes piled up on Facebook and the youtube views were going through the roof.  This guy was making himself popular without ever stepping a foot inside the ring week after week.  No wrestler had ever been able to gather such a following without showcasing his talent.  Now this next part may come as a shock, especially if you don’t like wrestling and have gotten this far in the post.  Fans actually want to see wrestling.  We actually want to see what these guys can do in the ring.  Crazy right.  Ryder chants, signs, merchandise and declarations for him to be on the show started to creep up at every taping of, “RAW”, this past summer.  Even CM Punk was getting behind him, trying to get him on the card so everyone could see what he had.  Finally he started to make his mark and appear on the show weekly.  He has skills too in the ring.  The, “rough ryder”, his finishing move is petty awesome.  He has the size and the athleticism to make an impact and be a competitor every week.  This was it, Ryder was the man.  An ultimate face, who everyone was behind.  He was the anti-WWE guy who made it without the help of anyone.  After months of being shut out and put down by the WWE, he had become one of the fastest rising and most popular guys currently on the roster.  Woo Woo Woo, You Know It!

This is where it takes a turn for the worse.  John Cena, of course is the most talked about and most over-rated superstar in the WWE.  We’ll talk about this another time.  Cena took it upon himself to adopt Ryder and, “help” him.  Cena even went as far as to give up a WWE title match so that Ryder could have a chance to wrestle Dolph Ziggler for the United States Championship.  Wait, what?  Ryder was the coolest guy in the WWE, a guy who went from nothing to something in a year’s time.  A guy who had a vision of marketing himself and clearly could draw viewers, sell merchandise and carry some merit in the locker room.  Why would the WWE pair him with Cena and make it look like he needs Cena to succeed?  Ryder went on to win the US title. (Ziggler, now getting a push as WWE Champion contender)  It has continued to get worse with the Cena-Ryder bromance.  They are together every episode of, “RAW”. Cena has most recently saved Ryder from Kane in a monday night episode where Kane tried to drag Ryder through a hole in the ring into, “hell”.  Ridiculous sounding, I know.

It just doesn’t make sense.  Ryder was a fan’s wrestler, a great face.  He didn’t need the help from Cena.  He has completely abandoned his persona and what got him there in the first place.  Fans notice this stuff.  Boo’s are starting to surface in the crowd and this week he lost the US title on a “RAW” taping, not even a pay-per-view.  I hope he, or the powers at be relize this, and get away from the Cena angle.  Time will tell, but in the meantime follow @zackryder on Twitter, like him on Facebook, watch all his youtube videos and of course….take care, spike your hair. WWWYKI!

-Phil