TV REPORTS CALDWELL'S WWE RAW REPORT 3/29: Shawn Michaels says goodbye, new stars elevated, John Cena & Randy Orton
Mar 30, 2010 - 10:06:09 AM
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WWE Raw Live Report
March 29, 2009
Live from Phoenix, Ariz.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor
The show started with an epic video package on last night's Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels main event at WrestleMania 26. The soundtrack was like something from one of the key scenes of Titanic or another Hollywood epic. The closing image was of Shawn Michaels waving good-bye.
Arena: Fireworks shot off inside the arena with Michael Cole welcoming us to the US Airways arena for an emotional evening. Shawn Michaels Farewell tonight.
In-ring: Before HBK, though, Batista's music hit to bring out arguably the top heel in the promotion. Batista was out sans WWE Title belt after dropping the title at WrestleMania. Jerry Lawler: "He's wearing a belt, but not a championship belt." Vince McMahon couldn't be happy with a belt being named in reference to a "championship" in WWE. Batista slowly, methodically made his way to the ring and took some time to argue with fans ringside before entering the ring with the spotlight still on him. Such a great, believable heel. He sells the character so well.
Once his music stopped, Batista glared into the crowd still wearing his heel shades. Batista tried to start, but the crowd drowned him out with "You tapped out" chants. Batista said the people are expecting him to come out here and moan and groan about last night, but he's not going to give them the satisfaction. "Last night was a blip on the radar; it was a fluke," he said to loud boos. Another "You tapped out" chant, this time louder. He took off the shades and glared into the arena before vowing to get his re-match. "I don't care what happened at WrestleMania; John Cena can't beat me!" he shouted. Great heat for this.
Cena's music interrupted and out came Cena doing a "look what I found" look holding the WWE Title belt again. Cena looked at his name now on the belt and circled around the ring while Batista glared at him. Cena had the mixed reaction of boos and cheers before saying there's still a lot of WrestleMania energy in the building. He said before Mania, there was a guy usually dressed in a leather vest or black shirt saying John Cena couldn't beat Batista, but that guy must have missed WrestleMania because he beat Batista. Cena waited out a vocal minority "Cena sucks" chant while Batista continued to play the heel role pacing around. Cena then referenced making Batista tap out. Batista was ready to snap, prompting a third "You tapped out" chant. Cena said nobody is going to forget WrestleMania because WrestleMania moments live forever.
Cena told Batista he could make history the same night Michaels writes the final chapter on his career by taking a re-match tonight. "Shawn Michaels farewell. John Cena vs. Batista for the WWE Championship," he said. Cena said this is usually the part where the other guy goes "not tonight." Cena told Batista to say yes, step up, be the face of the company, and do the thing. Batista polled the audience before pulling the rug out from under them: "not tonight." Batista then landed a right hand and Cena fired back before Batista rolled to the outside. Cena did the "you tapped out" motion before Jack Swagger stormed the ring and pounded Cena with a briefcase. He landed multiple briefcase shots before taking the mic and demanding a ref right now to cash in the MITB contract. The ref took a while to show up, giving Cena time to recover and attempt the STF. Swagger slid out of the ring, though, and waved it off, saying he changed his mind. Ref Chioda confirmed and Swagger took his briefcase before leaving. Cole confirmed the bell never rang to have Swagger cash in the case. He then left as Cena stood his ground in the ring taking a deep breath and smiling for the crowd. Hot start to the show getting a new player involved in the title picture at the top of the show. Well done.
Announcers: Cole and Lawler were shown on camera to talk about last night's WrestleMania Moment of Michaels's career ending.
HBK Defining Moment #1: Michaels's WWE debut on June 18, 1988 with Marty Jannetty as the Rockers. Gorilla Monsoon with the classic line: "excitement personified." Tonight, Michaels bids farewell to WWE.
In-ring: "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase's music hit to bring out DiBiase followed by Nick Bockwinkel, IRS, Pat Patterson, and Arn Anderson. Lawler had a little secret for Cole. Cue up Roddy Piper's music to bring out Piper, Sgt. Slaughter, Tony Garrea, and Ricky Steamboat. Lawler said Piper's missing someone, so he bailed on Cole to stand ringside with the other legends. Justin Roberts then welcomed out the guest hosts, Clark Duke and Rob Corddry, from the "Hot Tub Time Machine" movie. They were booed before announcing tonight's main event: Batista and Jack Swagger vs. John Cena and a partner of his choosing. Also, a special hot tub match with the Divas. They proceeded to set up a special lumberjack match with the legends ringside.
Cue up Christian's theme music to bring out Christian with the legends ringside applauding him on the way to the ring. That's a cool moment for Christian to be able to show off for the legends ringside. Ted DiBiase, Jr.'s music hit next to bring out DiBiase as Ted, Sr. clapped ringside. Good, fresh match-up that WWE probably won't be putting on PPV anytime, so it's not like they're giving away a major fresh match-up.
1 -- CHRISTIAN vs. TED DIBIASE, JR. -- Lumberjack match
They joined the match in progress with DiBiase and Christian trading blows before Christian dumped DiBiase over the top rope. The legendjacks tossed DiBiase back in, teasing a little tension in the process. DiBiase took control back in the ring and attempted Dream Street, but Christian escaped and hit the pendulum kick followed by a European Uppercut. Michael Cole said Cody Rhodes suffered a concussion via the Punt by Randy Orton last night and he will be "out indefinitely." DiBiase then clotheslined Christian to the outside and the legends had a brouhaha with Ted, Sr. in the middle of it. Back in the ring, Christian took advantage of DiBiase being distracted and hit the Killswitch. Christian with the pin and the win.
Post-match: Christian walked off with Piper, Garrea, Sarge, and Steamboat to give them some more TV time. Back ringside, Ted, Sr. picked up DiBiase in the ring and helped him to his feet. "Thank you, son," he said. Ted, Jr. then shoved him and shot him a glare while DiBiase, Sr. held his arms out. The prodigal son then took his inheritance and left the ring upset with his father.
WINNER: Christian in 6:00. Good victory for Christian with him in the same picture as the legends. He needs an endorsement from WWE and this was one way to get that across. I doubt the DiBiases will have a long-term program or even a program beyond this week, but it would be good to continue using Ted, Sr. on a regular basis to play up the tension here. (*1/4)
HBK Defining Moment #2: Michaels puts Jannetty through the barber shop window in January 1992.
In-ring: Triple H came out on stage and said it feels like a surreal night because he can't believe it's actually the end of Michaels's career. He then went into a dialogue recalling the first time he met Michaels in the WWE locker room and how goofy he looked. If there ever was a wrestler to give a celebrity roast, it's Hunter. Hunter said they took on the world and a lot of times, they only had each other. "We fought everybody. We fought side by side, back-to-back, sometimes face-to-face," he said, "but we've always fought for each other and with each other." Hunter threw up the Wolfpack sign and said when that was gone, it was just the two of them. Hunter got choked up and paused for a loud "HBK" chant. He said there was something the wanted to tell Shawn that he's never said before. Suddenly, Sheamus blasted Hunter from behind on the stage. Cole was actually laugh-out-loud good muttering: "Sheamus." Hunter
Moments ago: They re-lived Sheamus blasting Triple H. Lawler called it a gutless, cowardly attack from behind. Lawler referenced Sheamus "unsuccessfully" facing Triple H at WrestleMania last night.
In-ring: Cue up Kelly Kelly's theme music. Even that couldn't get Lawler out of being upset with Sheamus. Good sell from Lawler. Cole: "On a lighter note, a lot of divas tonight." Lawler: "Yeah," he said unenthusiastically. Great sell from Lawler on the Sheamus-Hunter angle.
2 -- VICKIE GUERRERO & Divas champion MARYSE & Women's champion MICHELLE MCCOOL & LAYLA & ALICIA FOX vs. EVE & MICKIE JAMES & GAIL KIM & BETH PHOENIX & KELLY KELLY -- ten-divas tag match
The bell sounded for the WrestleMania re-match and Maryse and Eve were in the ring. Maryse did her hair wave, then Eve rolled up Maryse from behind for the win. That took ten seconds. Vickie Guerrero then stormed into the ring and faced five-on-one Diva odds, so she bailed. The heel divas then jumped the babyface divas and a brawl was on with Divas flying out of the ring. Babyface Divas stood tall.
WINNER: Team Eve in 0:10. In all this silliness, the program down the line appears to be Maryse vs. Eve feuding over the Divas Title. (n/a)
HBK Defining Moment #3: WrestleMania 10 for Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon in the ladder match. It gets better with age. Also, the setting was probably one of the Top Five best WrestleMania settings with the big gold "X" for WrestleMania X on display at MSG. They showed Michaels in a sit-down interview talking about them stealing the show.
Backstage: They showed Bret Hart walking down the hallway. He's addressing the WWE Universe tonight.
HBK Defining Moment #4: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart from WrestleMania 12 in the Iron Man match. Classic clip of Hart staring down at the mat pre-match and Michaels having that defiant look on his face. The focus was on Michaels's highspots in the match before hitting the Sweet Chin Music and winning the WWF Title.
In-ring: Bret Hart's theme hit to bring out Hart alone in jeans, a jacket, a white t-shirt, Hart shades, and a backwards baseball cap. It's always interesting to monitor Hart's wardrobe choices from week to week. Hart stepped into the ring as the announcers talked about Hart making things right last night at WrestleMania. Lawler said his entire family double-crossed Vince McMahon last night.
Hart said right off the bat he wants to take this opportunity to congratulate Shawn Michaels on an epic, storybook career. He said nobody knows better than he does that Michaels was not only one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time and he wished him the best in the future. Hart said when he came back to WWE, it was Shawn Michaels who said good things were going to happen because he finally got the closure he was looking for by beating the "holy hell" out of Vince McMahon. That drew a pop. Hart then referenced Stu, Helen, Owen, and Bulldog sending waves of high-fives. He paused for a loud "Owen, Owen" chant and Hart revealed a classic image of Bret and Owen in a headlock on his t-shirt. Nice.
Hart said he thought he would always leave WWE with a bad taste in his mouth, but now he has joy and satisfaction. He thanked his fans all around the world for helping him on the great ride. He wrapped it up to loud applause, but ShoMiz's music interrupted to bring out the Unified tag champs. I thought they would have a Steve Austin-Miz verbal exchange on March 15, but this is about is just as good for elevating Miz by interacting with Hart.
Miz started talking, saying Hart beat McMahon in a glorified 25-on-1 handicap match and he's actually proud of that? He mocked Hart being a "hero" and called him a thief. He said Hart coming back and getting his closure robbed him of his TV time. Miz said he's sick and tired of hearing about who screwed who because he's the most glorified champion in WWE and if anyone deserves to talk about himself, it's him, not Hart. Miz referenced winning his first WrestleMania match and now 17 wins away from The Undertaker. That drew laughs from everyone. Interesting how something on Twitter earlier in the day makes it onto Raw. Miz said another word that comes ot mind about Hart is over-rated. He said he's the most over-rated there is, was, and ever will be. Miz told Hart to get out of his ring and Hart told him to make him. Show had to hold Miz back, which drew laughs. Show told Hart just to quietly leave.
Suddenly, Hart Dynasty's music hit to a big pop and out came Tyson Kidd, D.H. Smith, and Natalya. They had a little extra pep in their step marching to the ring to back Bret. Miz and Big Show started to leave the ring, then exited as Hart & Hart Dynasty stood their ground in the ring. Hart asked where they're going and told them to come back in the ring. Miz said they could take them. "Come on, daddy, let's do it!" Dad: "Now is now the time. You want to do this? You're not thinking with your head," he said. Son: "Come on, let's do it!"
3 -- Unified tag champions THE MIZ & BIG SHOW vs. HART DYNASTY (TYSON KIDD & D.H. SMITH w/Natalya and Bret Hart) -- non-title match
The match was joined in progress with Smith having Miz in a vertical suplex before dropping him on his head. Miz tried to get a tag, but he continued to take a beating until Miz ran in and out of the ring to finally get a tag to Show. Tyson also tagged in and tried to chop down the Show tree, but Show slammed him to the mat and shouted at Miz to stop screwing around. Miz then tagged in and did Hart's classic pose, which drew heat, in between working over Kidd. Miz then shoved Kidd to their corner and tagged in Show, who put a boot in Tyson's throat. Cole and Lawler seemed to talk down about the Hart Family on commentary here as Tyson continued to be isolated. Smith then tagged in and came in hot with power offense. Hart Dynasty then hit a double-team springboard clothesline on Miz before Kidd slapped on the Sharpshooter. Tyson sat down on the hold near the ropes as Show walked over to ringside and shouted, "Are you going to listen to me now?" Show then dragged Miz out of the hold and out of the ring. They walked off with Show giving Miz pointers.
WINNERS: Hart Dynasty via countout in 7:00. Good story to this match. It solidified Hart Dynasty as babyfaces (presumably as long as they sustain the heat beyond WrestleMania Week) and put them on the chase for the tag titles. Also, a good story with Show mentoring Miz and trying to make him a more cerebral heel who thinks with his head rather than his mouth. Well done. (*1/2)
Shawn Michaels Defining Moment #5: Shawn Michaels and Triple H as DX in the 1990s with Chyna. Then, the Reunion in the mid-2000s making fart jokes. Then, the next Reunion in 2009.
Backstage: Divas were shown in the Hot Tub with the two nerdy guest hosts. Tiffany and Rosa Mendes were creeped out and left. Suddenly, Darryl from "The Office" appeared on the video screen to say someone switched his tickets and he missed the show. He declared the Bella Twins the winners. Despite being PG, WWE still found an excuse to get women on the show wearing virtually nothing. The joke continued with Mark Henry joining the Hot Tub in a bright red Speedo. The guest hosts were scared, then Hornswoggle joined the tub and they were creeped out. Ugh.
Earlier tonight: Triple H was paying tribute to Shawn Michaels before Sheamus jumped him from behind. Cole and Lawler talked in quiet tones about the angle before Jack Swagger's music hit.
In-ring: Jack "call me Kurt" Swagger came out with his briefcase and did the push-up routine before entering the ring. He did a victory lap in the ring with the briefcase before taking the mic. He said he smells the sweet scene of Money in the Bank. Swagger said he told everyone last week that he was going to win MITB at WrestleMania and he when he wants something, he's the odds-on favorite to get it. Swagger said when he cashes this in, he's the odds-on favorite to walk away with the WWE Title. Good cocky heel promo from Swagger.
4 -- WWE champion JOHN CENA & RANDY ORTON vs. JACK SWAGGER & BATISTA
Back from break, Batista joined Jack Swagger in the ring before John Cena came out for the second time tonight. Randy Orton then came out to a huge pop to stand side by side with John Cena. Remember in September when Orton tried to kill Cena at Breaking Point? The justification is "common enemies" and the old storyline where two guys have "mutual respect" for each other coming out of a brutal feud when conveniently being paired together weeks or months later. Orton was in control on Swagger going to break.
Back from break, Batista and Swagger traded tags working over Cena, who was isolated in the heel corner. Cena tried to make a comeback, but Batista dropped him with a spinebuster. Batista then measured Cena for the Batistabomb, but no one bought it and Cena back dropped out of the move. Cena then crawled across the ring and hot-tagged Orton, who came in hot as Swagger tagged in also. Orton then hit a powerslam and did his previously heel mannerisms with a babyface set up to hit a backbreaker on Swagger. Batista then speared Cena, who ran into the ring, but Orton suddenly sprung on Batista with the RKO to another big pop. He then followed up immediatel with an RKO on Swagger. He made the cover for the win. Post-match: Cole talked up Orton having this "new energy" after the Legacy implosion and being on a roll.
WINNERS: Orton & Cena in 7:00. It will be very interesting to see where Orton fits in as a top babyface while another top babyface, Cena, is holding the title. We might not get a clear answer until after the Draft, but he's definitely gaining a following and WWE should strike while the iron is hot on a good feud to continue building momentum. (*1/2)
Shawn Michaels Defining Moment #6: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25 last year. Still epic. This was another great video package with some new camera angles on the key highspots and different music. WWE had camera crews positioned all over the arena for this match specifically to get all these different angles, as there were two camera crews just on the floor section where I was standing.
In-ring: Shawn Michaels's music hit to bring out Michaels presumably one last time. Lawler was heard clapping on commentary before they cut to a shot of Cole and Lawler standing at the announce table applauding Michaels. Michaels, who was wearing a cowboy hat and dark red Western-style dress shirt befitting of the color scheme for this year's WrestleMania, entered the ring waving to the crowd and smiling for the audience. The crowd had a loud HBK chant that Michaels playfully waved off before lowering his head with the emotions getting to him. Suddenly, Undertaker's theme music hit to boos. Michaels went from blissful to concerned as he looked toward the entrance stage. Taker walked out on stage with the dark lighting and ominous music before slowly lowering his hat to give Michaels a tip of the hat. Taker then walked back out to applause as Michaels stared toward the stage. Another "HBK" chant.
Michaels surveyed the arena before starting his promo that he really doesn't know what he's going to say tonight. "Please don't go" was the chant from the crowd. Michaels went back to being 19-years-old when he started "doing this stuff" and began coming into their homes at 23-years-old. He said the idea of now being 44-years-old and not being on TV anymore is going to be tough to get used to. They showed a woman in the crowd holding her mouth and fighting back tears. Michaels said he appreciates the chants, but he has to thank the fans. He said there were times being in the ring and the fans cheering was the only time he felt good about himself. He fought back tears and said he would like to thank everyone, but he doesn't want to forget people.
Michaels named Triple H and thanked him for being his friend when no one else in the world wanted to be around him. He referenced not being very liked back in the day, but said Hunter never left his side. He thanked Hunter for the real friendship they've had for the last 16 years when it's tough to have those types of relationships in wrestling.
Michaels then thanked the production team, cameramen, Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and "of course, the greatest announcer of all-time, Jim Ross," which drew a pop and applause. Michaels thanked the production team for making him look better than he ever deserved to be before thanking "a crazy redhead in Stamford" named Adam who made him look like a superstars. Adam's phone will be blowing up this week. The crowd then chanted, "One more match." Michaels said he knows how a lot of people feel about career-ending matches. He said a lot of people are going to be skeptical of his decision, but he doesn't want to go back on his word to the fans or The Undertaker. He said for 20+ years, he has tried to be an open book because it's easier for him to be who he is. Michaels said he wants to honor his word, so he appreciates the chant, but he's going to do everything his power to make sure that doesn't happen.
Michaels paused and thanked Bret Hart. He said he drove him crazy and everything Hart has ever said about him he had every right to say it, so he thanked him for forgiving him and believing that he made mistakes, he was changed, and he would forever honor his friendship for giving it back to him. Good final words to Hart on WWE TV.
Michaels referenced Vincent Kennedy McMahon and said with a smile that he might get in trouble for mentioning his full name, but he doesn't care. Michaels said after working for that crazy SOB for 20 years, he'll never be able to do a regular gig ever again. Isn't there flipping burgers down the road? Michaels said he drove McMahon more crazy than Hart and thanked him for not allowing him to make even bigger mistakes than he made. Michaels said he was on a crash course going nowhere and sometimes it was ugly, but if McMahon had not kept him on course, he would not be here today.
McMahon then thanked the fans, which drew a "Thank you, Shawn" chant. Michaels said he has been able to travel all over the world and meet millions of people, which has meant more time spent with the fans than his own family. He said he doesn't regret that and appreciates them letting him come out to the ring and show off every night of his life. Michaels thanked his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for saving him, which drew good applause. I'm glad to see that. Michaels then closed that he's coming home and he's going to end it how it started: "Ladies and gentlemen, the Heartbreak Kid has left the building."
Michaels waved goodbye to the audience from inside the ring before stepping out of the ring and waving from the apron. He looked around the building with WWE getting a shot of a dad holding his child and waving together to show Michaels's reach across two generations. Michaels did a victory lap along the entranceramp as they showed a woman crying in the audience. Michaels stood on the stage and clapped for the audience while his music played. Triple H then came out from behind him and they shared a long, manly hug. Hunter congratulated him on the speech before Hunter pulled out DX glowsticks and placed them on the stage. Michaels waved his Cowboy hat toward the crowd before disappearing to the back as they closed the show.
Amazing moment with Michaels baring his soul for the audience and almost sitting on the couch with viewers at home sharing details on his personal and professional life. It was what every wrestler would like to have - a farewell speech on a huge stage going out on his own terms. Michaels was blessed with the moment and the opportunity and it looked like he truly understood it and will appreciate it after the weekend sinks in. Great conclusion to an uncharacteristically focused post-WrestleMania Raw.
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