Each week, Mary “Queen of the Busted Open Nation” Grater reviews WWE Monday Night Raw.

THE OPEN

We open the Royal Rumble go-home Raw with the return of The Authority. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H step in the ring to talk about how The Road to Wrestlemania starts Sunday at the Rumble. Trips then goes to welcome back one of the Rumble’s participants when Randy Orton’s music interrupts.

Orton starts to insult The Authority when Stephanie cuts him off. She belittles Orton, and asks what he was thinking when he attacked John Cena’s dad last Monday. Stephanie threatens to fire Orton if he doesn’t change his behavior; Orton blames The Authority for his erratic behavior, claiming if he wasn’t booked in a rematch with John Cena at the Rumble, he wouldn’t have flipped out. Triple H then books Orton in a rematch with Kofi to “make things right.” He adds that Orton should “make things right” when Cena arrives at Raw.

Cue Batista music.

Batista makes his way to the ring to a decent pop – one that would’ve been bigger if he returned as a surprise participant at Rumble. Batista climbs into the ring, kisses the mat – pretty cool – hugs Stephanie and Triple H, and gets on the mic. Orton offers to shake Batista’s hand, but instead of reciprocating, Batista tells Orton he’s after the belt. Batista then predicts that he’ll win the Rumble, and then headline Wrestlemania.

THE RUNDOWN

  • Big E. Langston and The Brotherhood join forces to take on The Shield. Another amazing match ends with The Shield on top.
  • Fandango defeats Xavier Woods.
  • Daniel Bryan cuts a promo to explain his actions with The Wyatt Family, and announces he’ll face Bray one-on-one at The Rumble. (I’m holding out hope he is a surprise entrant in the Rumble.) Bray Wyatt responds on the titantron, and says that the only person Bryan exposed was himself.
  • Alberto Del Rio faces Rey Mysterio (again) and wins. After the match, Batista comes out and Batista-bombs Del Rio. (Luke-warm return.)
  • Big Show stands tall after another confrontation with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. (Hopefully Lesnar destroys Show Sunday, because losing to him will squash any “Brock is an unstoppable force” angle.)
  • AJ Lee and Tamina Snuka lose to The Funkadactyls. It looks like Tamina is starting to get sick of AJ. Naomi also looks like she might get a title shot soon.
  • The Usos continue their hot streak by defeating Luke Harper and Eric Rowan. Daniel Bryan’s ringside attack on Bray Wyatt helps The Usos.

KANE, PUNK AND THE RUMBLE

Backtage, Stephanie asks Kane what he was thinking when he choke-slammed CM Punk last week on Smackdown. Stephanie tells Kane that as an official, he can’t put his hands on the Superstars. Kane apologizes to Stephanie, but Stephanie tells Kane he needs to apologize to Punk.

Kane heads out to the ring, and with Punk standing opposite, Kane explains he let his emotions get the best of him, and apologizes for the attacking. Punk eventually attacks Kane, and is then booked in a match against Billy Gunn.

Punk emerges victorious after a good match. Kane then returns to congratulate Punk on the win, and let Punk know he’ll be the No. 1 entrant in the Royal Rumble.

MAIN EVENT

Randy Orton faces Kofi Kingston in the main event. (Typing Kofi and main event in the same sentence is weird.) They put on a short but good match, interrupted by an arriving John Cena. Orton is attacked, and the match ends in a no-contest.

From there, Cena chases Orton through the stands and out of the arena, where Orton jumps into a waiting car. That raises the question: Was the driver of the car on Orton’s side, or is this another loose end that won’t be wrapped up?

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK

The highlights of the week for me were the Martin Luther King packages and the Mae Young tribute video. There was no mid-card brawl between the entrants of the Royal Rumble, Batista’s return was lackluster and nobody seemed to care about Cena and Orton closing out the show. Add to that Daniel Bryan not being in the Rumble – for now – and Raw fell flat.

Here’s to hoping Sunday is full of surprises, and Wrestlemania season starts off with a bang.

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