WWE Raw Report CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 1/3: Complete "virtual time" coverage of live Raw - Miz vs. Morrison WWE Title match to start 2011
Jan 3, 2011 - 10:08:56 PM
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WWE Raw Results
January 3, 2011 - Episode #918
Live from Phoenix, Ariz.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
NOTE: Torch reader Brian at the TV taping sent a note there's a cage above the ring. We'll see if it comes into play during Raw.
The first Raw of 2011 opened with a video package on last week's Raw when John Cena turned down a truce by David Otunga, leading to Nexus beating down Cena. Then, C.M. Punk establishing himself as the new leader of Nexus.
Announcers: The show went straight to Michael Cole, who addressed the camera that Cena likely will not be part of the show tonight due to his beat down last week and injuries sustained in a match against Wade Barrett in Pennsylvania last week. He also posed the question of whether Barrett will have something to say about Nexus's new management. Cole said they hope to have all of these questions answered tonight. Plus, it's extremely rare for the WWE Title to be defended on Raw. And it will happen in the first match tonight: WWE champion The Miz vs. John Morrison Falls Count Anywhere. Nice, different start to the show leading to the opening Raw video. Of note, Jerry Lawler was not shown on-camera.
In-ring: Cole introduced the show before Justin Roberts introduced the Falls Count Anywhere match to begin the show. Roberts noted it's No DQ, No Count-out. Out first was WWE champion The Miz with Alex Riley. Cole said Lawler is not here tonight because of Miz's attack last week on Raw. They went to a recap video of last week, including a spot shadow of Miz charging the guardrail to jump Lawler from behind. Cole then welcomed in Josh Mathews as his broadcast partner tonight.
With that piece of business out of the way, they paused before John Morrison's music hit to a loud reaction to bring out the challenger. Cole said this is the biggest match of Morrison's career and he's been on a roll as of late. Cole recapped Morrison winning the #1 contender match at TLC. Suddenly, Miz jumped Morrison on the entrance ramp and it was on.
1 -- WWE champion THE MIZ (w/Alex Riley) vs. JOHN MORRISON -- WWE Title match -- Falls Count Anywhere match
Riley tried ot get involved, but Miz accidentally bumped Riley when Morrison ducked. The fight moved up to the stage and Morrison rammed Miz into the Raw logo on the Titantron. Riley got involved again and Morrison rammed him into the WWE logo on the platform. Morrison then climbed on top of the big WWE logo and splashed both men. Morrison made a cover on the stage, but Miz kicked out. Morrison sold a left knee injury and punched Miz down the ramp toward the ringside area.
Miz and Morrison made it back into the ring where Miz attempted a superplex, but Morrison delivered forearm strikes to knock Miz to the mat before landing a missile dropkick for a nearfall. Cole recapped Miz and Morrison's story dating back to their tag team days as Morrison scored another nearfall with a roll-up. Morrison followed with a springboard kick to the face, then a running knee strike. He had the pin, but Riley yanked Morrison out of the ring. On the floor, Morrison ran Riley into the guardrail as Cole noted Miz is getting recovery time in the ring. Morrison decked Riley with a flying knee before screaming down at him to go away. Back in the ring, Miz sold that he was scared of what he was seeing from an intense Morrison, who paced the ring like a wild tiger as the referee called for medics for Riley. They cut to break.
[Q2] Back from break, Miz and Morrison were on the floor below the stage. Miz was looking for a suplex onto a loose guardrail, but Morrison blocked, only to take a back body drop onto the guardrail for a nearfall. Cole and Mathews continued to talk about having a feel "it's John Morrison's night," which means he's not winning. Miz resumed his attack on Morrison with a running knee strike on the stage for a nearfall. Miz followed with a hip toss sending Morrison back-first onto the metal entrance ramp for another two count. Closer to ringside, Miz grabbed a strobe light and smashed Morrison with it to score another nearfall.
At 12:00, the action returned to the ring. Miz toyed with Morrison and taunted him while screaming, "You're not better than me! You're nothing, John!" Morrison fired back with right hands before they started trading punches and kicks. Morrison landed a series of knock down clotheslines for another nearfall, then wanted Starship Pain, Miz moved. Morrison landed on his feet, though, and Miz followed with the Reality Check for a close two count. Miz then crouched behind Morrison and got that look in his eyes wanting the Skullcrushing Finale, but Morrison reversed and went for SSP again. This time, he connected. Morrison made a cover, but Miz kicked out. Morrison sold he couldn't believe it, Cole poped for Miz, and the crowd chanted for a table.
Morrison landed a roundhouse kick that took Miz to the floor at the base of the table. Morrison placed Miz on the table, then went to the ring apron. Morrison wanted a super Starship Pain on the table, but Miz moved and Morrison ate the table. Morrison writhed in pain as Miz made a cover, but Morrison kicked out, shocking Miz. Cole complained about the officiating while both men recovered on the floor. Miz then slowly crouched behind Morrison and dramatically dropped him with the Skullcrushing Finale. Miz made the cover...and it was good for the win. Miz retains the WWE Title. Cole said Morrison was game, but Miz proved he's the rightful WWE champion. Cole claimed there was no Alex Riley involvement to excuse Miz's win. Oh boy, another year of delusional Cole Commentary.
Post-match: Miz slowly made his way up the entrance ramp as Morrison was checked on by medics. Morrison was shown crawling on his belly toward Miz, who just looked back at him with a half-turn. Morrison sold intensity that he'll get Miz eventually.
WINNER: Miz at 17:26 to retain the WWE Title. The winner was never in doubt when the announcers did that "it's Morrison's night!" commentary that gives away the opposite outcome, but the match was very strong and helped get over both men as potential top stars all throughout 2011. The FCA stipulation was superfluous for this level of the feud, but they effectively used the arena to enhance the match and nearfalls. (***1/2)
Still to come: Steel Cage #1 contender's match for the WWE Title. The winner faces Miz for the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble. Cole said Morrison won't be in the match. Also still to come: John Cena injured. They will update his condition tonight on Raw.
[Q3] This Friday: double main event with Edge vs. Kane for the World Title and Mysterio vs. Del Rio. They're advertising Mysterio vs. Del Rio as "their final battle."
Ringside: Members of the Phoenix Suns were shown ringside. "Vince Carter in the house," Mathews said. Carter did Cena's "You Can't See Me" hand wave.
Backstage: Scott Stanford is now a backstage interviewer. Stanford brought in Miz and Alex Riley. Miz cut off Stanford and said he proved he is still WWE champion. He wanted to make sure everyone gets it. "The Miz is still WWE champion," he declared. Miz said he's also awesome. He said he will be of all-time. Riley finished Miz's catch phrase while still selling Morrison's face strike.
Announcers: Cole and Mathews continued to stay in the moment on Miz vs. Morrison before talking about the brewing feud between Divas champion Natalya and Melina. Cole heeled on babyface champ Natalya, then Melina's music hit to bring out a trio of heel Divas for a six-Divas tag match. The match-up is next.
2 -- MELINA & MARYSE & ALICIA FOX vs. Divas champion NATALYA & BRIE BELLA & EVE
They came back from break with the babyface trio of Divas already in the ring to start the match. Brie started the match and was knocked to the outside. She rolled under the ring and Nikki rolled back out. In the ring, they had the switcheroo for a pin on Maryse, but Alicia broke it up. Natalya then tagged in and wanted the Sharpshooter, but Melina distracted her. Melina then gave Natalya a neck snap across the top rope and tagged in. Melina thought she had a clean angle on Natalya, but Natalya landed a discus clothesline. Eve then tagged in and dropped Melina with a spinning facebuster for the pin and the win. Afterward, Melina sold on the outside while the babyface trio stood tall in the ring to continue building to Natalya vs. Melina.
WINNERS: Team Eve at 3:03. Eve scoring the pin on Melina was an interesting finish. Fine match, but three minutes isn't enough to stand out on the show. (*)
Royal Rumble plug: They showed a rapid-fire sequence of close-up of WWE wrestlers with each of them saying he will win the Royal Rumble.
[Q4] In-ring: Already in the ring back from break were the Uso Brothers. Out as their opponents were the tag champs Santino & Kozlov, along with the Usos's former manager, Tamina. Santino had Tamina on her arm and the Usos wanted to know what's up with her.
3 -- WWE tag champions SANTINO MARELLA (w/Tamina) & KOZLOV vs. USOS (JIMMY & JEY USO) -- non-title match
Kozlov started things off against Jimmy, then Santino tagged in to a strong reaction. Cole said the match could give the Usos a future title shot and noted the wrestlers on the roster are auditioning for a Rumble slot. Mathews said it's the "most exciting 60 minutes" WWE delivers on the year. Kozlov tagged back in, but the Usos cut him off and tried wearing him down. Kozlov eventually tagged out to Santino, who did his routine. Santino wanted to raise the roof and delivered the Sailor's Salute drop for a two count. Kozlov suddenly got caught up on the ropes and time stood still as he tried to throw himself over the top rope to complete the spot. Santino tried the Cobra on Jimmy, but Jimmy ducked and hit a Samoan Drop for the pin on Santino.
Post-match: Tamina checked on Santino and Jimmy wanted to know what's up with her. Kozlov then dropped Jimmy before Santino and Tamina hit him with a Double Cobra to officially break away Tamina from the Usos. Santino, Kozlov, and Tamina stood tall as the Usos regrouped on the outside.
WINNERS: Usos at 3:55. Santino is supposed to deliver the comedy, but Kozlov delivered the comedy this week getting tied up in the ropes and still trying to throw himself over the top rope. Classic Koz. It looks like a Tag Title match is in the works after the Usos scored the win here. (*)
Announcers: Cole noted WWE was in the headlines today when the New York Times broke the story on "Tough Enough" returning to USA Network this spring. Mathews, who was on the first season, said the show was instrumental in reality TV and also introduced him to the WWE TV audience.
Backstage: C.M. Punk was shown adjusting his Nexus armband as Cole said they could be getting questions to answers on the future of Nexus next.
NXT plug: First elimination of Season 4 tomorrow night.
In-ring: C.M. Punk's music hit and his SES video entrance played to bring out C.M. Punk by himself. Punk laughed all the way to the ring as Cole noted Punk is part of Nexus, but what is his role? Who is the leader? What is his relationship to Nexus? Once in the ring, Punk paused for the expected chorus of boos before thanking the crowd. Punk said he loves being in Phoenix. The crowd tentatively popped. He said he spent the better part of the day looking around for John Cena. Punk said the funny thing is...pause for Cena hand wave..."I can't see John Cena." Punk said Cena is not here tonight because of him.
[Q5 -- second hour] Punk said he promised the world a big surprise last week and he delivered. Punk said he is a three-time World champion, which makes him a leader of men. He said that's why Nexus came to him begging him to become their new leader. Punk said he led them last week, which led to a video package on the end of Raw when Punk joined Nexus after helping take out Cena.
Back live, Punk admired his work and surveyed the crowd, which was booing. Punk shouted, "Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect!" He said he lives by those three words. Punk mocked "Cena" chants and said those three words are a phony catch phrase when they come from Cena. Punk said he wants Cena to stay at home. He said it's a fight Cena cannot win and he's taking over Nexus. "And I'm taking over Monday Night Raw," he said.
Cue up Nexus's theme music and out came Wade Barrett. It was kind of anticlimactic to see Barrett suddenly return after a two-week absence. Barrett had a mic in hand and said he destroyed Cena in a match last week. He said Punk isn't the leader of Nexus. Punk said he knows Barrett had 23 chairs bounced off his head at TLC, but the group needs new leadership. Barrett accused Punk of being a liar. Punk said they can settle this right here by asking the members of Nexus. Barrett demanded Nexus come down here right now.
Cole said they are live on Raw as the other five members of Nexus came out stage before marching to the ring, led by David Otunga. Mathews threw his support behind Wade Barrett as the leader of Nexus. Everyone assembled in the ring and Otunga stood in-between Punk and Barrett. Otunga said they all make good points. The Raw GM had the good sense to cut off Otunga's promo right there and Michael Cole stepped to the podium to read an email from the Raw GM. Cole read that he doesn't want things to get out of hand. Three participants will be in a #1 contender steel cage match tonight. One of the three will be either Barrett or Punk vs. Orton vs. Sheamus.
Barrett said he will be the man taking the final spot. Punk laughed and told Barrett to go right ahead. He said he defended Barrett when Cena brutalized him. Punk said he's a talker, not a fighter anyways. He told Barrett that if he wins the cage match, he can have the spot and he'll follow Barrett's lead. Punk said if Barrett loses, then Barrett is out of Nexus. Barrett shot him a fuzzy look not trusting Punk. Punk asked if they have a...gentlemen's agreement. Barrett shook Punk's hand and said it's a deal. Cole recapped Barrett having to win or he's out of Nexus. PYB (3) talk time: 10:13. That wasn't exactly a smooth talking segment.
#1 contender cage match to come: Orton vs. Barrett vs. Sheamus. Winner gets Miz at the Rumble.
Announcers: Cole and Mathews were shown on-camera. Cole recapped the storyline of Lawler being home recuperating from injuries last week on Raw. Mathews then recapped the Miz vs. Morrison title match that included Morrison's big high-flying moves that weren't good enough for a win.
In-ring: Justin Roberts was in the ring and he handed it off to Ricardo Rodriguez. Alberto Del Rio was introduced as Cole noted Del Rio is joining them on Raw tonight from his regular home on Smackdown. Cole said the audience is missing out if they're not watching Smackdown to see Del Rio and continued to boast about Del Rio. (JC: It captures WWE's messy announcing situation where the delusional, schizoid lead announcer is promoting one of the top heels on Smackdown. WWE needs a straight play-by-play announcer to be that voice of the fans questioning the actions of the heels.) Del Rio cut a promo saying his goal is to become World champion, destroy everyone Smackdown, and win the Royal Rumble. Del Rio, with his big heel smile, said he will main-event WrestleMania.
[Q6] Suddenly, R-Truth interrupted. Truth did his rap and entered the ring as Cole heeled on his theme music. Truth said Del Rio's destiny is to go back where he came from. He said he'll send him there, too. Del Rio did his cocked eyebrow and wry grin laughing at Truth's boasts, so Truth slapped him across the face. Del Rio backed away to the corner as Truth finished the exchange by asking the crowd what's up.
4 -- ALBERTO DEL RIO (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. R-TRUTH
Truth took control early on taking advantage of Del Rio being "disoriented" from the pre-match slap. Truth knocked Del Rio to the floor and nailed a plancha that took both men to the ground. Ricardo checked on Del Rio as they cut to break.
Back live, Truth continued to hammer on Del Rio in the ring. Truth landed ten punches to the head followed by a snap powerslam for a nearfall. Del Rio came back with a fallaway arm drop dropping Truth's left arm across his knees. Del Rio continued to focus on the left arm/shoulder looking to set up Truth for the cross armbreaker. Del Rio aggressively kicked Truth in the gut, but missed with an attack on the ropes and flew to the outside.
Ricardo tried to wake up Del Rio, who sold the effects before storming back into the ring, only to take a series of clotheslines from Truth. Truth executed a hip toss for a two count, but Del Rio rolled to the apron and yanked Truth's left arm into the ringpost. Del Rio then locked on the cross armbreaker center ring. Mathews said no one gets out of Del Rio's finisher. Truth held on for a good ten seconds before tapping out to give Del Rio the win. The announcers recapped the finish and said Del Rio sent a clear message to everyone in WWE that his goal is to win the Rumble.
WINNER: Del Rio via submission at 9:53. They clearly wanted to get over Del Rio as one of the favorites in the Rumble match and continue using Raw to expose him to a wider audience. (*3/4)
Still to come: Orton vs. Barrett vs. King Sheamus #1 contender match in a steel cage.
Backstage: Wade Barrett had all of the Nexus members assembled except for C.M. Punk. Barrett said he made stars out of all of them. Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater acknowledged Barrett helped make them champions. Otunga told Barrett to work things out with Punk. Barrett said he's selfish and will use all of them for his personal gain. Punk barged in and asked if he was describing himself. Punk said he speaks for all of them they're pulling for him tonight. Barrett shot Punk a look and walked off. Punk and Otunga shook hands and exchanged smiles. Punk then shook hands with the rest of the group, some of whom were skeptical.
Backstage: Randy Orton was shown on-camera for the first time tonight, which drew a reaction. Orton cut off Scott Stanford's line of questioning and said last year is in the past. He said he was too nice and even hesitated before kicking Chris Jericho in the skull. Hm...Jericho name-drop. Orton said he's aware that last guys finish last. The live crowd popped.
Arena: Cole had a voice-over setting up the main event #1 contender match as the steel cage was lowered to the ground. Ominous music played in the background leading to a break.
Phoenix: They went to an exterior shot of University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, where WrestleMania 26 was held and where the NCAA National Title game will be held next Monday.
Earlier Tonight: Cole and Mathews re-recapped Miz vs. Morrison in the opening match and showed Morrison eating a table before taking the Skullcrushing Finale from Miz, who retained the WWE Title.
[Q8] In-ring: Justin Roberts introduced the #1 contender match, with the winner facing Miz at the Rumble PPV. The only way to win is by escaping the cage. First out was Sheamus. Cole said Sheamus is looking for a return to glory by winning this cage match. Wade Barrett was out next and a graphic flashed on the screen suggesting Cena "may possibly return" next week on Raw. It's a needed hook for their audience up against the college football title game next Monday. After a pause, Randy Orton's music hit. Cole recapped Orton's words that 2010 was a disappointment for him. He said the bad taste in Orton's mouth is how he lost the WWE Title being assaulted by every member of Nexus before Miz cashed in MITB on him. Cole set the stage and the bell sounded.
5 -- RANDY ORTON vs. KING SHEAMUS vs. WADE BARRETT -- #1 contender steel cage match -- only way to win via escaping -- Barrett out of Nexus with a loss
Barrett immediately tried to climb out, but Orton and Sheamus cut him off. Orton and Sheamus formed a temporary alliance, then Sheamus tried to escape by climbing out (rather than going through the door), and Orton cut him off. Barrett then blindsided Orton with a boot to the head, but Orton recovered and tried to climb the cage to escape as the crowd screamed in excitement, but the heels yanked him back into the ring. The crowd chanted for Orton, who tried to fight off both men. Sheamus knocked down Barrett, then tried to escape, but Orton cut him off. Orton finally tried to escape through the door, but then turned back to both men and teased the RKO. He remained perched on the mat staring at the heels as they cut to break.
Back live, Orton was sitting on top of the cage trying to escape as Sheamus tried to pull him back in. Orton's body dangled over the side of the cage as Sheamus tried to pull him back in. Barrett then joined the effort to drag Orton back inside the cage. Sheamus ended up standing right next to the door, which he could have escaped through, but opted to go back on the offensive against Orton, who made a full comeback. Orton wanted the spike DDT, but the crowd shouted at him to get Barrett, who was trying to escape on the other side of the cage. Orton cut off Barrett, then threw him into the side of the cage. The crowd popped as Orton positioned both men on the ropes for the spike DDT, but Barrett blocked and Sheamus back dropped Orton into the side of the cage.
At 9:00, Sheamus began stomping on Orton before teasing an escape. Orton cut him off, then Barrett attacked Orton from behind. The heels double suplexed Orton, trying to take out their biggest threat. Sheamus and Barrett then traded blows, their alliance not lasting very long. Barrett got the best of Sheamus and started climbing, but Orton grabbed him and pulled him back into the cage to deliver a superplex from the top turnbuckle.
[Q9 -- over-run] Cole and Mathews reset the show as all three men collected themselves. Sheamus delivered power offense on Barrett, then tried to escape through the cage door, but Orton yanked him back in. Barrett recovered and dropped Sheamus with a pumphandle slam as Orton came to life again. Barrett landed a belly-to-belly suplex, saw everyone was down, and began climbing the cage again. Barrett fought off Sheamus, then opted for a top rope elbow drop, but Sheamus blocked with his knees. Sheamus then measured Barrett, but Orton surprised him with a series of clotheslines and a powerslam. Barrett also took a powerslam. Sheamus then took the Angle Slam from Orton before Barrett took a spike DDT off the second rope.
Sheamus suddenly blocked an attack and tried to climb out, but Orton cut him off. They traded headbutts before Barrett crotched both men. Barrett was alone and he slowly began climbing, but C.M. Punk suddenly came to ringside. Punk climbed the cage and extended a hand for Barrett. Punk then ripped off Barrett's Nexus armband and kicked Barrett off the cage. Barrett took a dramatic flatback bump and Punk left the ringside area with Barrett's N armband.
In the cage, Sheamus called for the cage door trying to leave. Sheamus gave Barrett the Brogue Kick, then Orton sprung out of nowhere with the RKO on Sheamus. Orton stared at the open door as the crowd roared. Orton slowly approached the cage door, stared back at his opponents, and escaped the cage to win and become #1 contender. The crowd applauded and cheered as Orton stared inside the cage. Cole gave a quick wrap-up eight minutes past the top of the hour and they signed off with the visual of Orton confidently staring back inside the cage.
WINNER: Orton at 18:45 to become #1 contender, Barrett is out of Nexus. Exciting cage match if you can get past the logic hole of why the wrestlers opt for the difficult path of escaping over the top of the cage rather than trying to escape through the door until the very end. It's similar to the suspension of disbelief required for a ladder match when the wrestlers take forever to climb a ladder. (***)
NEXUS ANALYSIS: Based on Gabriel and Slater informally pledging their allegiance to Barrett in the segment prior to the main event, it looks like the next few weeks and potentially months will be focused on allegiances within Nexus and whether Barrett forms a rebel group opposite the new Punk-led group. Harris and McGillicutty have been silent in the background, with their allegiance unknown. The big match WWE is setting up is Barrett vs. Punk. How Cena factors in remains to be seen.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: Strong double main event book-ending Raw, but the middle of the show exposed the absolute lack of depth on the Raw roster. Also, the lack of verbal follow-up by Morrison after the opening title match was a missed opportunity. WWE replayed some of his big moments throughout the rest of the show, but he needs a comeback promo vowing revenge on Miz and Riley and/or showing determination to win the Rumble and get another title shot.
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