WWE’s build to the Royal Rumble, and in a broader sense Wrestlemania, became a little clearer last night on the 20th Anniversary of Monday Night RAW. The Punk/Rock program is strong, something interesting will be happening with Ziggler/Cena, and even a Del Rio/Big Show rematch helps round out a solid undercard to the actual Royal Rumble match.
One other aspect of last night’s show should not go overlooked: Wade Barrett pinned Randy Orton, clean as a sheet.
The match result spoke volumes to each wrestler’s current position with the company. Wade Barrett and the Barrett Barrage are favorites of CDWS nation and you can tell he’s starting to gain major traction with the main audience as a force to be reckoned with. He’s got the IC title. He’s got a good heel finisher. He’s got the look and mic skills – there doesn’t seem to be much standing in his way to becoming the next big thing.
Ironically, the biggest obstacle between Barrett and the World Heavyweight Championship, besides a lengthy Ziggler reign, might just be that Intercontinental strap around his waist. Hey, I love the IC belt, but I expect him to lose it fairly soon to move onto better and bigger things.
Orton, who is quickly reaching Cena-like levels of the babyface everyone is sick of (Sheamus is next), at one time was WWE’s golden boy. He’s headlined Wrestlemania and held multiple world championships. But WWE saw something in him a lot of fans didn’t and still don’t. At one point, you got the feeling that WWE thought Orton was the next Austin – something you know they are always looking for.
They kept pushing and pushing him on us, but the more “mature” WWE fan pushed back with boos and indifference to Orton. If WWE and Vince McMahon are anything, it’s stubborn. At times, they don’t like to be told that we don’t value their superheroes as much as they do.
With Orton though – did they get the message? There was no outside interference. Barrett didn’t really need any outside help to beat former world champion – which is basically WWE telling us, “Hey, we hear you and we think Barrett is pretty GD good too.”
My Twitter feed definitely had some “Whoa, did you see that? Barrett pinned Orton clean!” tweets during RAW. To me, last night was Barrett’s coming out party and it seems perfectly timed. He brings a lot to the IC ranks, but put that belt on the Miz, and let’s have #ThePrince win Money in the Bank at Wrestlemania.
Ziggler will and should get his time in the spotlight, but Barrett could easily be next in line. I could very easily see Ziggler winning and carrying the WHC for a while as they build up Barrett over the summer – ironically the very same way they built up Ziggler this year.
The Barrett Barrage has officially begun – make sure you’re on the right side when the Bull Hammer comes.