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TV REPORTS
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW REPORT 1/4: Complete coverage of Bret Hart hosting Raw - confrontations with Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart

Jan 4, 2010 - 10:10:49 PM
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WWE Raw Live Report
January 4, 2009
Live from Dayton, Ohio
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor


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After a Raw video package opened the show focusing on Bret Hart, they cut live to the arena where Justin Roberts introduced Bret Hart, cuing up a revised version of the classic Bret Hart theme. TNA has Hogan. WWE has Hart. Where do you go? After a pause, Bret Hart slowly came out on-stage in the flesh. Wow. Hart had jean shorts, a black leather jacket, and his hands in his pockets as if to say, "Yup, I'm here." Hart was looking really good. "Oh my God, it's been 12 long years," Lawler said on commentary. Hart entered the ring with his hair dyed and some good touch-ups on his face to make him look really good. The crowd was hot too.

"Well, I guess hell froze over," Hart said. Hart said he's tried to come back at different times over the past few years, but "Vince McMahon never made it possible." Hart thanked the fans for their support and the fans chanted, "Welcome back." Hart thanked the fans for their support and caring about him over the years, never allowing him to be forgotten. Hart said he feels millions of memories right now. He plugged winning the very first King of the Ring right here in the same building. Hart said he remembers Jerry Lawler jumping him at the end of it. Lawler shot him a sheepish smile from ringside.

Hart then got right to the point with 12 years of things to get off his chest. He then called out Shawn Michaels right here, right now. Michaels's music hit and out came Michaels. Quite the counter punch to Hogan on Impact. Michaels entered the ring and there they were - Hart and Michaels face-to-face. Hart said he wants to bury the hatchet right here, right now. Michaels said Hart got what he deserved 12 years ago. Loud boos. "You screwed Bret," chant from the crowd. Hart acknowledged the chant, then Michaels said there's a big part of him that doesn't regret a bit of it. He said there's another part of him that has changed over the last 12 years.

Michaels said he always respected Hart, but he never felt Hart respected him. "There were times I couldn't stand the sight of you," he said. Michaels said when he thinks of Bret Hart, he doesn't think of Montreal. He said he thinks of Anaheim, Calif. for a 60-minute Iron Man match that everyone said people wouldn't want to see. Michaels said they proved them wrong by going out there and doing the thing - re-defining everything this industry ever stood for. "When I think of Bret Hart, I think of the excellence of execution," he said. Michaels said he wants to move on and bury the hatchet. All he has left to say is, "Are you sure...and are you ready?"

Hart said Michaels wasn't the easiest guy to love back then and he had his issues. He said their careers shouldn't be tagged by what happened at Survivor Series. Hart suggested they take this opportunity to look each other in the eye and take this moment to say they could be friends. He offered his hand in friendship. Hart extended his hand and Michaels stared him down before accepting. That's a sight. Flashbulbs popped to document the handshake. Michaels began to leave, then put himself in position for the superkick. Hart backed away, then Michaels walked over to him and embraced center-ring. Michaels's music hit and he left the ring. Hart said there's one more thing he wants to ask, though. He wants one more person to come down. "Vince McMahon, come down and see me face-to-face too." No sign of McMahon. The fans booed McMahon not coming out. Hart dropped the mic and left. PYB (3) talk time: 11:35.

Raw plugs: Kofi vs. Orton and DX vs. Big Show & Jericho for the tag titles.

JC: WWE played a very strong hand with Hart-Michaels face-to-face for the first time in 12 years for a must-see TV segment to counter Hulk Hogan on TNA Impact. Amazing TV segment, but there has to be more to the Hart-Michaels relationship to come. Otherwise, they blew the conflict and "what will happen when...?" storytelling element of anticipation in one segment after 12 years.

[Q2]

[Commercial Break]

Hall of Fame plug: They plugged tickets going on-sale Jan. 16 for the Hall of Fame in Phoenix.

Backstage: Josh Mathews was standing outside Mr. McMahon's locker room door. McMahon walked up to him inside the hallway and Mathews asked for comment. McMahon asked what Hart said because he said he was going to go meet him. Mathews told him Hart called him out. McMahon said he just got out of a meeting and he'll talk to Hart on his terms by calling out Hart on his terms.

Announcers: Michael Cole talked on-camera about Melina being out of action for several months after suffering an injury. He plugged the start of the eight-Divas tournament with the first match coming up next.

In-ring: Maryse came out to the ring for the opener. After her heel entrance, Brie came out with Nikki as the opponent. They're wearing the same outfit, so the swithceroo gimmick appears to be in place.

1 -- MARYSE vs. BRIE BELLA (w/Nikki Bella) -- Divas Title first round tournament match

The action moved to the floor early on where Nikki rammed Maryse head-first into the announce table behind the ref's back. Wait, who's face and heel here? Behind the ref's back again, Nikki and Brie did the switch. Maryse saw it, though, and dropped Nikki with the hair-flip DDT for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Maryse at 2:15. The favorite advances in the tournament. Okay action for two minutes. (n/a)

Post-match: Some new rock music hit to bring out U.S. champion The Miz. Not feeling this typical rock music track. Miz came out on stage and got in Maryse's face to woo her that he might just call her back if she wins the tournament. Maryse locked eyes with Miz, who spoke French, before saying he has to go scout his next opponent. Miz quietly said 2010 is supposedly the year of Maryse, but this year - this decade - belongs to him. Back in typical Miz voice - "Because I'm The Miz and I'm awesome."

In-ring: Miz went to ringside for commentary as Justin Roberts announced a #1 contender match for the U.S. Title. It's a four-way match. Out first was MVP. Jack Swagger was out second. They cut to break with a tease for what's up next.

[Commercial Break]

[Q3]

2 -- JACK SWAGGER vs. MVP vs. CARLITO vs. MARK HENRY

The match was joined in progress with Carlito and Mark Henry added to the mix. Miz name-dropped Spencer Pratt for a reality TV plug-in. Henry was on the outside at the start of this, then he came into the ring for a pop to attack Swagger. Suddenly, Henry and MVP turned on each other and Henry dumped MVP to the floor. Henry then used Carlito's feet as a battering ram on Swagger. Miz kept talking like a great heel before Henry teased a victory with a bear hug on Carlito. Swagger broke it up and Miz said Henry should be on "Biggest Loser." Nice NBC promotional tie-in. Henry then put Swagger in a modified Torture Rack. It's official - we're in 1997. The action broke down and MVP teased the Playmaker on Swagger. After a struggle to set up the move, MVP executed to score the pin for the win. After the match, Miz stood up and told him he's a pretender while MVP did his Ballin' motion toward Miz.

WINNER: MVP at 3:40 to become #1 contender to the U.S. Title. Fine organized chaos. No word on when the U.S. Title match is taking place. (*)

Backstage: Chris Jericho was talking to Big Show about strategy for DX tonight. Show told Jericho he needs to be ready tonight. Jericho said he has a plan for tonight and he's going to meet with the "illustrious guest host." Jericho walked down the hallway and they cut to commercial with the question in the air on how Jericho and Hart talking will look on WWE TV for the first time.

[Commercial Break]

Backstage: Chris Jericho walked in to talk to Bret Hart about old times in the Dungeon. Jericho said he was sooo touched by the reconcilation with Shawn Michaels, but he knows deep down inside that Hart despises Michaels. Hart asked for the idea. Jericho said he would really appreciate Hart as guest referee for DX vs. JeriShow. He told Hart to "let instinct take over" when Jericho has Michaels or Hunter in the Walls of Jericho. Hart said he doesn't want this Montreal thing to keep coming up and he wants to let it go. "I'm not a hypocrite, I want peace," he said. Hart said he doesn't want to be perceived as a hypocrite like the fans see Jericho. He told Jericho to win his match by himself tonight. Hart went back to the Dungeon. He said he remebers that Jericho was the one who screamed louder than anyone else. Hart told him to live with that. Crowd popped, then Jericho stomped off.

[Q4]

Backstage: Hornswoggle was playing with the new Mattel line of toys. Triple H walked in and picked up the Undertakr, Orton, and Cena figures for Hornswoggle to do their respective hand motions. Hunter said the only way Horny gets to play is if DX wins tonight. "Why do you talk to him like a child?" Michaels asked. "He's got a beard!" Hunter told Michaels to go to Wikipedia and look it up that he's a small boy. Michaels was not pleased with the Hunter bit here. Suddenly, in walked Santino in a suit pretending to be Chris Jericho. Santino quietly said everyone is a hypo-crite and everyone knows he is the best at everything he does. Hunter then told Horny to attack Jeritino so he could talk to Michaels that it's not about Bret Hart or Undertaker at WrestleMania, but the tag titles tonight. Hunter then smacked his leg like he was calling a dog, bringing back Hornswoggle, who took a cookie as his "doggie treat." Why oh why? Hunter and Michaels then walked off, leaving Santino to drag himself up to his feet.

Tag title match is up next.

[Commercial Break. During the break, a commercial for TNA Impact aired. The spot asked viewers why they're watching this show when they could be watching Hulk Hogan on Spike TV. "TNA is the only place to be, brother," Hogan said in the spot. Nice competitive ad. ... Immediately coming back, USA aired a plug for "The Condemned" featuring Steve Austin on after Raw.]

3 -- Unified tag champions DX (SHAWN MICHAELS & TRIPLE H w/Hornswoggle) vs. BIG SHOW & CHRIS JERICHO -- Unified tag title match

After intros took place, Michaels executed a round of chops that generated "Whoos" from the crowd. Sorry, wrong show tonight. Big Show then executed a double suplex to send them into a commercial 47 seconds into the match.

[Commercial Break. During the break, a commercial for "The Rock" Dwayne Johnson's new movie aired. WWE has delivered Austin and The Rock on TV to officially bring the first MNW back tonight. ECW Plug: former ECW stars return in the Homecoming.]

[Q5 -- second hour]

They returned from break about 30 seconds before the top of the hour with Big Show in control working over Hunter. Cole reset the action at the top of the hour with a chat on Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels hugging at the top of the show. Another plug for McMahon confronting Hart on his terms tonight. Jericho then entered and took control. Jericho suddenly cupped his ear ala Hulk Hogan, which drew a mix of boos and cheers. Jericho smiled, then went to work on Hunter. (Announcers did not acknowledge the ear-cupping, by the way.) Michaels finally took a hot tag at 7:45 and went "vintage" on Big Show with multiple flying forearms following kip-ups before going to the knees with a dropkick to get Show off his feet. Michaels then went up top for an elbow, but Jericho ran across the ring and crotched him. Suddenly, Hornswoggle entered and sat on Show's chest, which only scored a nearfall.

Michaels then warmed up the band for a superkick, but Show countered with a big chokeslam. He didn't make an immediate cover, which gave Michaels an out to kick out just before a three count. Jericho then tagged in and tried the Walls of Jericho, but Michaels flung him away and in came Hunter. Hunter quickly smashed Jericho with the Pedigree for a big pop, but Show broke it up. Hot action here. Hunter then wanted the Pedigree on Show and he connected with Michaels...jumping across the ring to help. Almost seemed like a superkick was coming on Hunter. Suddenly, Jericho shoved Hunter into Michaels and Jericho nearly rolled up Hunter, but only scored a two count. Jericho then smashed Hunter with the codebreaker, but both men collapsed to the mat. Jericho eventually made a cover, but Michaels flew into the ring for a break. Horny then entered the ring and tuned up for a superkick, but Jericho smashed Hornswoggle in the head. Hunter teased the Pedigree, but Jericho countered with the Walls of Jericho. With the ref focused on clearing Horny out of there, Michaels superkicked Jericho and Hunter made the cover for the pin and the win.

WINNERS: DX at 12:01 to retain the Unified tag titles. Very strong title match for TV. Good nearfalls, a strong tease of a title change, and good use of star power. (**3/4)

Post-match: The announcers recapped the highlights of the match before cutting to DX celebrating over Jericho's fallen body. Hunter then took the mic and said it's over, Chris. So long. You're done. Bye-bye. Michaels then told Jericho if he's done with that, here's two words for ya. The crowd filled in the blanks as Cole said it's back to Smackdown for Jericho. Show was in the ring for this too and he stared down at Jericho's fallen body before kicking him to the curb by simply walking out of the ring. Jericho eventually came to his senses and sold dizziness as he realized the situation. DX's music stopped and all eyes were on Jericho. DX waved good-bye from ringside as Jericho rolled out of the ring and made his "Walk of Shame" up the entrance ramp to the top of the stage. Jericho took a knee at the top of the ramp before eventually disappearing to the back. DX's music hit again for DX and Horny to celebrate in the ring.

Backstage: There was a knock on Mr. McMahon's door. McMahon walked out and shot someone a stare of hatred. "You have a lot of nerve," he said. They panned right to show Randy Orton standing at the door. Orton had an idea. McMahon didn't want to hear it. He said what Hart did to him - spitting in his face and walking out on his company - is nothing compared to what Orton did to his family. Wow, 2009 history reference. Orton said he knows, but he has a plan to take out Hart with a kick to the skull by eliminating another legend. Orton said he knows Hart wants to fight, not just talk tonight. Orton said if he takes out Hart, then McMahon gives him spot #30 in the Royal Rumble.

McMahon said he has his own security at his "beck and call." McMahon tersely told Orton not to confront him ever again. He slammed the door in Orton's face, then Orton walked down the hallway only to find DiBiase and Rhodes. Rhodes thanked Orton for threatening them last week; it really inspired them. DiBiase said they want to return the favor by sitting ringside when Orton faces Kofi. He said if Kofi doesn't win, then it's just like last week - they're going to kick Orton out of the Legacy. "And then we're going to beat the hell out of you," Cody said. Orton glared at them before DiBiase and Rhodes walked off. Nice segment. Strong 15 minutes of action and tense confrontations.

[Q6]

[Commercial Break]

Next week: They plugged Mike Tyson guest-hosting next week's show.

Raw recap: They went back to last week for a look at WWE champion Sheamus getting himself DQ'ed vs. John Cena in last week's WWE Title match. On cue, out came Sheamus for a promo while gloating with possession of the WWE Title. Sheamus said his next title match is at the Royal Rumble and he will not be defending it against John Cena. He said he's through with him and he wants a new challenge. Sheamus said Bret Hart was right about being The Best There Was, but he's The Best There Is and The Best There Ever Will Be. Cue up Evan Bourne's theme music. Wha? Bourne ran into the ring and Sheamus shot him a look. Bourne stole the mic and said if given the same opportunity Sheamus was given, he could beat him. Sheamus was like, "Really?" Bourne said he wants his opportunity right now. Bourne tossed the mic to Sheamus and sarcastically said "little Evan Bourne" thinks he can beat him. Sheamus then asked for a ref. "We're having a...match?" Lawler said. Sheamus said if Bourne beats him tonight, Bourne can get the title shot at the Rumble. Sheamus vowed to give Bourne the worst beating of his entire life instead.

4 -- WWE champion SHEAMUS vs. LITTLE EVAN BOURNE -- non-title match

The bell sounded and Bourne blasted Sheamus with kick strikes. Bourne then went up top and nailed the Air Bourne splash 30 seconds in, but Sheamus kicked out at two. Crowd popped thinking they were seeing history. Bourne then went back up top for a splash, but Sheamus dropped him with a front slam. Sheamus followed with a clubbing blow to the skull and went on the attack as the crowd chanted Cena's name. Must not be football fans. Sheamus then set up Bourne for the Iron Cross Outsider's Edge drop and he connected for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Sheamus at 1:45. Well, at least Bourne got some quality TV time, a promo, and his finisher on live TV on a big night. Finish was expected, but it was a good way to use Bourne when Cena is at the Fiesta Bowl and they can "waste a week" on the WWE Title picture without a PPV to promote in the immediate future. (*)

Up later: Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston and McMahon confronts Hart.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler were shown on-camera to talk in quiet tones about the death of "Dr. Death" Steve Williams. My wife: "They're going to talk about him, but not Umaga?" I'm glad they acknowledged Williams despite only being in WWE for a brief stint, but it's inconsistent to completely ignore Umaga last month. Lawler referenced Williams being a good friend of Jim Ross, then Cole introduced an "In Memory" graphic for Steve Williams. No video package.

[Commercial Break]

[Q7]

Video package: They rolled footage on Bret Hart (the same video introducing Hart on Raw last week). Big focus on Survivor Series 1997. Big focus on McMahon's famous quote from 1997: "Bret screwed Bret." They let that image linger on the screen for a bit to set up what's to come later.

In-ring: Kofi Kingston came to the ring for what appears to be the main event wrestling match on the show.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Randy Orton's music hit to bring out Orton with DiBiase and Rhodes already ringside. Cole plugged Steve Austin's "Condemned" box-office bust movie airing after Raw tonight. (No, they didn't actually mention it was a box-office bust.)

5 -- KOFI KINGSTON vs. RANDY ORTON

Kofi took it to Orton early on before dropkicking Orton through the ropes to the outside. Orton then kicked him away again and Orton stared at DiBiase and Rhodes, who stared at him to say, "Show us something." Orton stumbled on the floor before they cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

[Q8]

Back from break, Orton was in control as the announcers talked up Hart-McMahon to come. Orton continued to work over Kofi while they cut to shots of DiBiase and Rhodes sitting ringside watching intently. The announcers sold not knowing whether they want Orton to be successful or not. Kofi then made a comeback, but they collided mid-air. Both men came to their feet after a pause and Kofi hit a top-rope splash for a two count center ring. Kofi then tried the Trouble in Paradise, but Orton blocked and immediately dropped Kofi with the RKO for the pin and the win. After the bell sounded, DiBiase and Rhodes no-sold the victory. They remained in their seats with blank looks on their faces. Orton left the ring and turned back to look at DiBiase and Cody, who eventually stood up and folded their arms.

WINNER: Orton at 11:02. Okay match. Just didn't move into a higher gear and Kofi seems to have lost some of his edge after peaking at MSG with the Boom Drop. The deal with DiBiase and Rhodes has potential for good follow-up next week, but this whole segment seemed to be "just there" this week. (*1/2)

Backstage: They showed Vince McMahon walking down the hallway with a half-smile on his face.

Tomorrow night on ECW: C.M. Punk's run on ECW launched him to stardom. Mark Henry ruled as a wrecking ball. Now they're coming back to go one-on-one. What happened to Chavo in the three-way? Just Punk vs. Henry now.

[Commercial Break. Of note: WWE has joined TNA on the Trending Topics on Twitter with TCU in a tongue-twister.]

In-ring: Vince McMahon is out to the ring. McMahon tried to put a bow on things by saying there's really no reason for him to call out Bret Hart because Hart buried the hatchet with Shawn Michaels earlier. McMahon transitioned into plugging Mike Tyson on Raw next week. Without any music, Hart came out on stage to sell an unplanned interruption. Hart slowly walked to the ring and took off his leather jacket to hear out McMahon, who said Hart probably wants to slap on the Sharpshooter. McMahon wants to get some things off his chest. "I really do believe you screwed you," McMahon said. McMahon said he'll never forget Hart spitting in his face. Crowd chanted, "You screwed Bret." He'll also never forget Hart sucker-punching him. Crowd cheered. Also, he'll never forget Hart disrespecting him the night he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Hart had a nice smile on his face as McMahon said Hart has slammed him and trashed him in virtually every publication since then. He really wants to hear what Hart has to say, but he hopes he starts with "I'm sorry." Hart smiled and McMahon paused for the crowd reaction.

[Q9 -- over-run]

Hart walked across the ring and grabbed a mic of his own. Hart said the two words he's thinking of are a lot different than McMahon's. Hart said he wants to get closure and he feels like he's halfway there. He said it would be the greatest feeling in the world to get that weight off his shoulders. Hart said it's McMahon's chance to make a truce and get this all over with. "You know that you want this as bad as I do," Hart said. McMahon said he thought he wanted to kick Hart in the guts. He said in the interest of being honest and straightforward, Hart's right he wants it just as badly. McMahon went back to WrestleMania II when Hart was in the battle royal with Andre the Giant and he knew then Hart was the future while Andre was on the way out. McMahon said he gave Hart opportunity, then Hart kicked, scratched, and clawed his way all the way to the top. Some real good TV here with McMahon selling that he was getting emotional while Hart smiled, all the while the segment seemed to be setting up some sort of swerve.

McMahon then brought up Stu Hart and said he's the reason why so many people have broken into the business. He said he would like to personally extend an invitation to induct Stu into the Hall of Fame. Hart said he appreciates that. McMahon said he would like to thank Hart and personally thank him for his contributions to WWE. He thanked Hart for just being Bret Hart out here tonight. "I would like to thank you for being the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be," McMahon said. McMahon seemed to tear up here to sell the angle. He then extended his hand and Hart shook. Lawler sold shock at that image.

McMahon took their mics and tossed them out of the ring before both men shook hands, raised their hands, and did a victory pose around the ring. Hart sold some concern, questions, and hesitation with his facial expression. McMahon even did Hart's arms-extended pose. That seemed to be that, but then McMahon reared back and kicked Hart between the legs. McMahon sneered down at Hart, who collapsed to the mat. McMahon then turned and walked out of the ring with his heel smirk. Hart pulled himself up to his knees as McMahon reached the top of the ramp and looked back. Hart then got up and put his hands on his hips. He stared up at the ramp without much reaction and they faded to black nine minutes past the top of the hour.

JC: The whole segment was building to one or the other turning, and based on Hart being booked as the babyface throughout the show, you knew it was McMahon turning. The show ended on a fuzzy note with the kick, McMahon leaving, and Hart seemingly no-selling once he reached his feet, but it effectively set up the follow-up angles between Hart and McMahon. It was almost surreal to see McMahon selling genuine emotion talking about his history with Hart pre-Survivor Series. That was probably the biggest takeway.

We welcome your 0-10 score and comments on this show for a "Raw Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on Raw, email to pwtorch@gmail.com using our Feedback form.


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