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"Eck's Factor": Weekly analysis for 1/6/2012
Here are my takes on the noteworthy developments in the WWE over the past week:
Talking point: Chris Jericho returns
Eck’s Factor: I never thought I’d see the day that Jericho was lost for words. After being revealed as the mystery man behind the “It Begins 1-2-12” videos, an enthusiastic Jericho came out toward the end of Raw Monday night sporting a bright, cheesy smile and an even brighter, cheesier jacket. After basking in the adulation of the crowd for what seemed like an eternity, Jericho dropped his microphone and headed to the back without saying a word. At that point, the cheers turned to boos. Jericho’s silent treatment bit has elicited mixed reviews from the WWE Universe. While some fans hated it, others thought it was brilliant. It certainly got people talking, which obviously was the point. A number of fans had figured out that Jericho was going to return Monday, and I’m sure the majority of them were expecting him to cut an entertaining, memorable promo the way he did when he made his WWE debut in 1999 and when he returned the first time in 2007. By not saying anything, Jericho managed to make his much-anticipated return even more compelling. Well done.
Talking point: John Cena rises above hate; Kane rises from underneath the ring
Eck’s Factor: After Cena opened Raw last Monday by reiterating that he will not embrace the hate (while also slipping in a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Stripes”), the final segment of the show saw Kane pop up through the ring and attempt to drag Cena’s buddy Zack Ryder down below. Cena managed to pull Ryder to safety, and seconds later flames shot up from the hole in the ring. That was a cool image. (Hopefully, Hornswoggle has fire insurance.) Things are definitely heating up (no pun intended) between Kane and Cena, and I’m looking forward to the inevitable showdown between the two iconic Superstars.
Talking point: John Laurinaitis names himself special referee for the CM Punk-Dolph Ziggler WWE Title Match at the Royal Rumble
Eck’s Factor: A pay-per-view match between WWE Champion Punk and Ziggler – two of the top all-around performers in the WWE – is enough to get me excited, but when you throw the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and the Interim General Manager of Raw in there as the third man in the ring, well, that’s definitely must-see TV. Obviously, the question on everyone’s mind is whether Laurinaitis will screw Punk out of the championship. Perhaps the bigger question is: Who would have believed that the former Dynamic Dude and flag-bearer for The Sheepherders would ever be in the ring for a WWE Championship Match on pay-per-view?
Talking point: World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan survives his title defense against The Big Show
Eck’s Factor: I’m guessing that a lot of fans assumed Bryan’s title reign was going to end on Friday’s episode of SmackDown, but the ultimate underdog found a way to escape with the big gold belt still in his possession. After Bryan got in the face of Mark Henry – who was sitting in on commentary during the match – Henry delivered a hard shove to the champion, which led to the referee (after some coaxing from Bryan) calling for the bell and awarding the match to Bryan by disqualification. Bryan then celebrated like he had just won the lottery. Judging by Bryan’s actions at the end of the match and his recent passive aggressive behavior outside the ring, it appears that winning the World Heavyweight Title has changed him. I’m really liking the new Bryan thus far. As for the match itself, Bryan and Big Show worked well together despite the vast size difference. On a side note, Henry did a great job on commentary. It was refreshing to hear a heel actually tell Michael Cole to shut up or else.
Talking point: Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes defeats Booker T, issues a warning to Dustin Rhodes
Eck’s Factor: I enjoyed the three-match series between Cody and Booker, and it was nice to see the veteran star put over the rising up-and-comer in their blow-off match on SmackDown Friday night. After the match, Cody had a few choice words for his older half-brother, whom he warned not to even think about putting on the gold makeup again and making a comeback. Is a Rhodes versus Rhodes program imminent? Time will tell, but I’d love to see it. Dustin (aka Goldust) was doing perhaps the best in-ring work of his illustrious career before being sidelined with a shoulder injury a little over a year ago, and both he and Cody have the chops to pull off a compelling, deeply personal rivalry.
Talking point: Brodus Clay fails to debut – again
Eck’s Factor: I’ve lost track of how many weeks it’s been since it was first announced that Clay would be making his Raw debut “next week.” Here’s my prediction: Clay will appear on Raw at some point in 2012. I’m certain of it. Well, fairly certain anyway.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in "Eck's Factor" are those of Kevin Eck alone and do not necessarily reflect those of WWE.
WHO IS KEVIN ECK?
For those who are unfamiliar with me, I come to WWE from The Baltimore Sun, where I was an assistant sports editor and the author of a pro wrestling blog titled Ring Posts. In between two stints with The Sun, I worked as the editor of WCW Magazine from 2000 to 2001.
Follow Kevin Eck on Twitter at Twitter.com/KevinEck_WWE. I will be live tweeting during Raw on most Mondays.