WWE Raw Report XANDER'S WWE RAW REPORT 3/22: Alt. perspective review of Monday's Raw - WrestleMania hype, Orton vs. Rey, deus ex machina
Mar 22, 2011 - 11:27:56 AM
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WWE Raw Alt. Perspective report
March 21, 2011
Live from Pittsburgh, Pa.
Aired on USA Network
Report by Xander Assaad, PWTorch contributor
-- WWE Open.
-- The show opened cold with a wide shot of the arena in Pittsburgh. Justin Roberts introduced “good ‘ole J.R.,” and the Oklahoma Sooner music hit. The crowd cheered and anxiously awaited Jim Ross’ arrival. After several seconds delay, J.R. stepped on to the stage. But it wasn’t him. It was Michael Cole in a cowboy hat and with pillows stuffed into his shirt. He also had an ankle brace on. He held up a bottle of J.R.’s BBQ Sauce and started spouting off random, classic Jim Ross lines. He limped down to the ringside area and complained about “Michael Cole” breaking his ankle.
At the announce desk, Cole gave Josh Matthews the BBQ sauce and mouthed off at Jerry Lawler. Lawler sold the effects of Jack Swagger’s Anklelock from last week, and said that he may never be the same after that. Cole taunted Lawler some more. Lawler started to get heated. He stood up, and Cole dashed over to his glass cage -- The Cole Mine. Matthews held Lawler back and told him that he only had to wait thirteen more days. Inside the Cole Mine, Michael Cole screamed at Lawler, saying that the show wasn’t about either of them, it was about the WWE Universe. He then did the angriest introduction to a television broadcast that I have ever seen. And it was fantastic!
-- Triple H’s music hit. He made his way to the ring. Back at the announce table, the chaos finally settled down. Lawler and Matthews discussed the “classic” confrontation between Hunter and Undertaker at WrestleMania. Lawler said that he thinks The Streak will finally come to an end.
In the ring, Hunter took a microphone and talked about being in the business for almost 20 years. He wondered if this might be the last time he worked in Pittsburgh. He said that in two weeks, he would reach the defining moment of his career. So, working with Ric Flair, holding eleven world titles, and marrying Vince McMahon’s daughter weren’t defining moments? Hunter talked about the brutality of a No Holds Barred match. He said that neither man would be the same after their encounter, then called his match with Undertaker the biggest he has ever been a part of. Sure enough, Hunter then said that ending The Streak was more important than any of the championships he had ever won.
Hunter asked the Undertaker for a favor. He invited him to Raw next week so that the two of them could be face-to-face. He wanted to look at Undertaker and tell him he would lose. The crowd booed. Hunter guaranteed to end The Streak, thus killing off The Undertaker. He reiterated the fact that he would die trying. So, the match is a “Streak versus Dying” match? Hunter toned it down slightly and became solemn. He said that WrestleMania, Undertaker would be eighteen and one. He looked into the camera and said that, at WrestleMania, “Undertaker will rest in peace.” Hunter’s music hit.
Ted DiBiase came out on the stage and called out Hunter. He said that last year, he was a rising Superstar. He talked about competing against Randy Orton at the big event. This year, though, he was an afterthought. DiBiase said that he was going to change all of that. He asked Hunter what it would do for his career if he took out The Game on live television.
As DiBiase entered the ring, Hunter caught him with a knee to the gut. DiBiase fell back to the outside, and Hunter followed him out. The two men brawled around the ringside area. DiBiase had the upper hand for a moment. Hunter regained control and whipped DiBiase into the ringside steps. He tossed him into the barricade, then picked up a steel chair. He smashed DiBiase in the gut, then across the back. He continued to smash the chair into DiBiase’s stomach. Finally, Hunter tossed the chair away and glared down at DiBiase. He stepped over to the announce table and tore it apart. Hunter rolled DiBiase on to the table, then set up for a Pedigree. He hit the move and the table exploded apart.
Hunter’s music hit again and he played to the crowd as the announcers hyped the rest of the show. John Cena would respond to the Miz “live via satellite.” Also, the Miz was going to “rewrite Miz-tory.”
REAX: More of the same. “If I can’t beat The Streak, I’ll die trying.” “This means more to me than any championship.” Over the last two years, WWE did a fantastic job building up the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker matches at WrestleMania. There was something tangible in the desires of both men. They each had something to gain - or lose - in their feud. This time around, the entire storyline is built solely around ego, and it just doesn’t feel like all that big of a deal. The segment wasn’t bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't think it do a single thing to make anyone care more about the match at WrestleMania.
-- Back from commercial break, Sheamus stood in the ring and proudly displayed his newly won U.S. Title. Cole recapped Sheamus’s win last week. Evan Bourne’s music hit and he burst as the first challenger to Sheamus's championship. Or not.
1 -- U.S. Champion SHEAMUS vs. EVAN BOURNE -- Non-title match
The two men locked up early. Bourne hit several quick kicks to Sheamus’s knee, but Sheamus returned the favor by dropping him to the ground and kicking him in the stomach repeatedly. Sheamus tied Bourne up in the ropes and smashed away at his chest. He then whipped Bourne into the far corner. Bourne leapt out of the way and floored Sheamus with a standing heal-kick. He then went up top. He went for the “Air Bourne,” but Sheamus rolled out of the way. Sheamus got to his feet and hit a Brogue Kick for the win.
WINNER: Sheamus in 1:24. Well, we know Evan Bourne has fallen down the totem pole.
Post-match, Sheamus stood in the ring with a microphone. He said that he was now the new champion of the United States of America. Daniel Bryan’s music hit. The ex-champion walked out to the ring with a stern look on his face. He took a microphone and said that one of the great things about the United States was that everyone had an opportunity. He said that he had a right to a rematch, and he wanted to invoke that clause at WrestleMania. Sheamus threw the U.S. Championship at Bryan, then nailed him with a Brogue Kick.
-- At the announce table, Josh Matthews announced that tonight was the start of “WrestleMania Rewind Week.” Tonight, Rey Mysterio would face off against Randy Orton.
-- WWE Slam of the Week: Randy Orton’s attack on Mason Ryan; his post-match confrontation with C.M. Punk.
-- Back from break, Randy Orton was shown stepping off of a tour bus. An announcer rushed up to Randy and asked him how it felt to be traveling around on a tour bus. Orton said that the bus was great. He loved the privacy it offered to him. He talked about how he watched the birth of the New Nexus on that very bus. He then said that his favorite footage has been re-watching each of his Punts against the members of the New Nexus. Orton said that Punk calls his actions “sick and twisted.” He said that Punk had no idea what “sick and twisted” really was.
-- In the arena, Maryse was already in the ring. Eve's music hit, and the Divas champion made her way out for the second unannounced match of the night. The announcers didn’t even try to build up the match, they just talked about the companies that were sponsoring Raw.
2 -- WWE Divas champion EVE TORRES vs. MARYSE -- Non-title match
Eve tried to lock up with Maryse, but Maryse stepped away and tried to show off. She pointed at Torres and said that nobody cared about her. Eve kicked Maryse in the hand. Maryse feigned an injury, then charged at Eve and tackled her to the mat. She bashed Eve’s head against the canvas, then picked her up and choked her across the middle rope.
Suddenly, Michael Cole came on the house P.A. and once again asked for the match to get over with. He said that he had another exclusive to get around to. The crowd chanted, “Cole sucks! Cole sucks!” Back in the ring, Eve took control of the match. She went for a standing moonsault, but Maryse lifted her knees. The women reset. Eve hit her spinning neckbreaker for the win.
WINNER: Eve Torres in 3:20. It’s one thing for WWE and Michael Cole to bury the Divas division. It’s another thing for the Divas champion to assist them by showing off poor in-ring skills.
Post-match, Cole took the microphone and said he was glad that was over. Eve charged at the Cole Mine and Cole’s security tried to hold her back. She got a slap in for good measure, then security pushed her away. Cole asked her if she wanted some of him, then started to climb over the sides of his glass cave.
-- Still to come: “Rewriting Miz-tory.” Whatever that means. Hopefully, Miz will finally address his feud with Cena from two years ago.
-- A promo for “The True Story of WrestleMania” aired. If the DVD does what it’s promising -- i.e. giving a complete expose on what it’s like to be backstage at WrestleMania -- then it could be a very interesting viewing experience.
-- WWE Did You Know: WWE, John Cena, and Delta raised over 4.3 million frequent flyer miles for Make-A-Wish.
-- Back live, The Corre was in the ring for unannounced match number three. Matthews and Cole threw it to a replay of Corre decimating Big Show and Kane on Smackdown. Kane’s a face again? Santino Marella’s music hit. He and Vladimir Kozlov made their way out.
3 -- WWE Tag Team Champions THE CORRE (Justin Gabriel & Heath Slater) vs. SANTINO MARELLA (w/Tamina) & VLADIMIR KOZLOV -- non-title match
Gabriel and Santino started things off. Santino hit his hip-toss/spits combination, then wound up for the Cobra. Slater caught Santino’s attention, and Gabriel took the opportunity to nail Santino with a heal kick. Slater tagged in. He caught Santino with several knees to the back, then locked in a sleeper hold. Santino quickly broke up and whipped Slater over his head. He tried to tag in Kozlov, but Slater grabbed his foot and kept him away. Santino finally got the tag, but it actually looked like a botched spot. Slater pushed him out of the way just as it happened, and everyone looked around like Kozlov wasn’t actually supposed to be in the match. Regardless, he entered the ring and cleaned house for a moment. Wade Barrett jumped on to the ring apron and distracted Kozlov. Slater attacked him from behind and hit a reverse DDT. He tagged in Gabriel, who jumped on to the top rope and nailed Kozlov with the 450 Splash. That was good for the win.
WINNERS: THE CORRE in about 3:00.
Post-match, all four members of The Corre entered the ring and attacked Santino and Kozlov. Suddenly, the lights in the arena turned red. An amalgamation of Big Show and Kane’s music hit, and both men charged the ring. The Corre stood united and waited for them. Kane dragged Gabriel to the outside and tossed him around the ringside area. Show entered the ring and attacked Ezekiel Jackson. Santino got up and started to help them out. Kozlov just sat around, staring at the chaos.
[Q4] After most of The Corre had been cleared from the ring, Kane and Big Show dropped Jackson with a double choke slam. Kane then raised his arms and set off his pyro. Santino tried to shake hands with both men, but they just turned their backs on him and surveyed the destruction.
-- John Cena was shown, "in his home," getting prepped for his interview.
-- A promo for The Rock aired. He’s live on Raw next week.
-- Back from commercial, Josh Mathews threw it to a video package focused on Miz’s attack on Cena last week. It was a well-done package that really got across Miz’s intensity in this feud.
-- Back live, Josh Mathews introduced Cena and thanked him for joining them via satellite. Cena guaranteed that next week’s confrontation with The Rock would be epic. He said that the time for jokes was over. Lawler asked Cena if paying so much attention to Rock had taken his focus away from the Miz. Cena said that it had, and that was why Miz had managed to get the upper hand week after week. Cena talked about Miz dressing up like The Rock. The crowd chanted, “Cena sucks!” Cena no-sold the comments, then said that he did hope Miz rewrote history tonight.
Michael Cole took the microphone and said that, while Cena and Rock liked to appear “live via satellite,” he was here, live and in-person. He talked to Lawler and said that he had an exclusive that The King wouldn’t want to miss, and it was next.
-- Back from commercial, Jack Swagger and Michael Cole were dancing around the ring. Swagger stepped out of the ring and walked over to Lawler.
[Q5 -- Top of the Second Hour]
Cole asked for the audience’s attention. He introduced his trainer, Jack Swagger. Cole talked about his “world-wide exclusive” from last week. He said that he was touched by the “emotional and heart-warming family reunion,” then threw it to a video of Bryan Christopher confronting Lawler last week. Okay, it’s official. This entire episode of Raw is just a recap show for the last week of WWE programming.
Cole laughed at the video package, then repeated Christopher’s words about being ashamed of Lawler. He said that Christopher had actually sent Cole a gift, then he held up “The Lawler Family Album.” Cole said that in order to really see what someone is about, you have to see how he or she were raised. Cole narrated as pictures of Lawler and his late father came across the screen. He talked about Lawler’s father being embarrassed. He called Lawler’s father a midget when a picture of Lawler’s graduation day aired. Cole talked about going down to Memphis and found out more about Lawler’s father. He called Lawler Senior a coward and a bully. He talked about Lawler being an egomaniac, and vowed to put step up and put The King in his place.
Cole said that he finally realized that Jerry, his mother, his father, and his son all had one thing in common: they were losers. Lawler finally had enough. He ripped up his headset and headed towards the ring. Swagger clocked him and told him to stay down. Lawler bounced back, nailed Swagger in the face, then chased Cole out of the ring and around the ringside area. Swagger jumped in and dropped Lawler with a clothesline. Cole retreated back to the Cole Mine. Swagger held Lawler’s face against the glass as Cole taunted him some more. He threw Lawler to the ring mats and locked in the Anklelock.
Cole finally exited the Cole Mine. Swagger handed him Lawler’s foot, and Cole locked in his An-Cole lock. He told Lawler to tap out then repeatedly called him a loser. Lawler finally passed out. Cole put his foot on The King’s back, and he and Swagger celebrated over their fallen foe.
REAX: After several weeks of Cole introducing “surprises” that were meant to aggravate Lawler, this segment just seemed like a retread. Nothing new to report here, and there was nothing to really push the feud to the next level (even though it had already kind of reached it before tonight).
-- Still to come, Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton in a “WrestleMania Rewind” match.
-- A WrestleMania preview music video aired.
-- Back from commercial, Michael Cole was back in his box. He apologized to everyone for letting his emotions overcome him. He said that Lawler just pushes all of the wrong buttons, but that he was trying to keep himself under control.
-- Matthews narrated a replay of Snooki’s appearance on Raw last week. Clips of the ensuing media coverage also aired.
-- Dolph Ziggler’s music hit. He made his way to the ring with Vickie Guerrero and Lay-Cool. John Morrison then came out with Trish Stratus at his side.
4 -- DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Vickie Guerrero and Lay-Cool) vs. JOHN MORRISON (w/Trish Stratus)
The two men locked up and dragged each other across the ring. Ziggler laid into Morrison with forearms to the back of the head. Morrison hoisted Ziggler up, slammed him into the turnbuckle, then belted him with right hands. Ziggler regained control almost immediately. He took Morrison to the mat and dropped an elbow across his back. He then locked in a sleeper hold. Trish Stratus tried to cheer Morrison on. Morrison escaped the hold. He slid under Ziggler’s legs, then nailed him with a drop-kick. He clotheslined Ziggler over the top rope and to the outside. As Morrison tried to hit a running dive to the outside, Michelle McCool jumped on the apron and distracted him.
Suddenly, the Raw G.M. chimed in. Michael Cole interrupted the match and walked over to the podium. The General Manager decided to change the match to a handicapped, inter-gender match. It was now Morrison and Trish versus Dolph Ziggler and company.
Stratus reached through the ring ropes and tried to pull Vickie Guerrero into the ring by her hair.
4(b) -- DOLPH ZIGGLER & LAY-COOL & VICKIE GUERRERO vs. JOHN MORRISON & TRISH STRATUS -- handicap match
-- The match-up was already underway as the show returned from commercial. Ziggler had Morrison down in another sleeper-hold. Morrison rose to his feet and hit an inverted enziguiri to escape. Dolph rushed over to his side of the ring and tagged in Layla. Morrison hesitated as the referee told him to tag in Trish. Stratus entered the ring and took it to Layla. She hit her headstand/huracanrana combination, then whipped Layla with multiple chops across the chest.
McCool blindsided Trish with a kick to the back, then tagged in. She dominated Trish with knees to the back and rib cage, then went for a pinfall. She hoisted Trish’s right leg up, but Trish pushed herself up with her hands, wrapped her legs around McCool’s neck, and hit a spinning huracanrana. Her momentum was short lived, though. McCool tagged in Layla and she continued the offensive for her team. Layla tagged in Vickie. She went for a butt-drop, but Trish rolled out of the way and tagged in Morrison. That meant Ziggler also had to tag in.
Morrison nailed Ziggler with all of his signature offense. Suddenly, Layla ran around and slammed Trish off the ring apron and to the floor. She landed pretty awkwardly. Morrison went up top for Starship Pain, but Ziggler rolled out of the way. He caught a dazed Morrison with the Zig-Zag, then tagged in Vickie so that she could get the pinfall victory. Post-match, the heel quartet celebrated.
WINNERS: Vickie Guerrero, Dolph Ziggler, and Lay-Cool in 10:30 (cumulative for both matches). So, WWE decided to give away three-fourths of this WrestleMania match. The problem is that this wasn’t a good match by any stretch of the imagination. With Snooki added to the mix, I can only imagine that the WrestleMania bout will actually be worse.
-- Still to come: The Miz rewrites “Miz-tory.”
-- A Sin Cara promo aired. His logo looks a like a Mexican brand of beer.
-- Back from commercial, Cole and Matthews talked about the Hunter-Undertaker match. Mathews fed to a video package of WWE Superstars and agents discussing the two men.
-- Back live, Randy Orton’s music hit. He sauntered to the ring and surveyed the crowd. Matthews and Cole replayed each of Orton’s Punts on the members of Nexus.
-- Back from commercial, Orton waited patiently for Mysterio. A video of Orton’s comments earlier aired. Rey Mysterio’s music hit, and the 619’s favorite son burst out for the match. As he made his way to the ring, Cole talked about Mysterio damaging Cody Rhode’s face.
5 -- RANDY ORTON vs. REY MYSTERIO -- WrestleMania Rewind Match
Mysterio kicked at Orton to start things off. Orton whipped him into the turnbuckle, but Mysterio caught him with a boot to the face. Mysterio took Orton down with another kick, then Orton swept Mysterio’s feet out from under him. Orton slid Mysterio under the bottom rope and to the outside. He followed Mysterio out and rolled him back into the ring, then went for an early pinfall attempt. Orton hit a jumping knee-drop, then went for another pinfall attempt. He locked in a sleeper-hold.
Mysterio quickly got to his feet and elbowed Orton in the stomach. Orton hit Mysterio across the back, then whipped him back into the turnbuckle. He hoisted Mysterio up to the top rope and then tried to set up a superplex. Mysterio shoved Orton back to the canvas, the hit a seated senton. Mysterio tried to build momentum, but Orton caught him with a scoop slam. Mysterio rolled on to the ring apron. Orton tried to hit his signature DDT, but Mysterio slid under his feet, tripped Orton up in the ropes, and attempted a 619. Orton ducked out of the way and caught Mysterio with his DDT off the middle rope.
As Orton set up for the RKO, C.M. Punk appeared on the Titantron. He was standing in front of Orton’s tour bus. He asked Orton how he was doing. He said that he may not know what sick and twisted was, but he knew that the bus was nice. He threatened to go inside and meet Orton’s wife. Orton ran out of the ring and to the backstage area.
In the parking area, Orton ran towards his bus. Suddenly, C.M. Punk stepped into frame and took out Orton’s leg with a wrench. Orton’s wife stepped out of the bus and screamed. Punk told her to shut up, then knelt down over Orton and asked him what the voices in his head were telling him. He said that they were probably saying that Orton should have never Punted the members of Nexus.
Punk stood up and said that he didn’t think Orton would be Punting anyone at WrestleMania, then kicked Orton in his injured leg. Orton’s wife stood at the door of the bus and looked down at Punk. He blew her a kiss and left. Orton’s wife exited the bus and tried to console her injured husband.
WINNER: No Contest? The introduction of the bus was the shining definition of a “deus ex machina,” or a contrived plot element that is only introduced to a story to randomly throw a wrench in the protagonist’s path. Before last week, when was the last time Orton even hinted at having a family? Maybe two years ago when Hunter assaulted him in his home? The whole affair just seemed like a pointless way to further the tension between Orton and Punk. It doesn’t help that Rey Mysterio was all but forgotten in the mess.
-- Back from commercial, the announcers hyped up next week’s show.
-- Back in the arena, the ring was covered in a red carpet. Alex Riley stood next to a podium and introduced himself to the audience. He said that he was fired as Miz’s apprentice three weeks ago. Miz rehired him as his V.P. of Corporate Communications. Riley then introduced Miz. Miz stepped out in a purple suit and pink tie. He wasn’t carrying the WWE Title. Cole hyped Miz’s appearance on Conan later this week.
In the ring, Miz took a microphone from Riley and smiled for the audience. He talked about people traveling to see Mohammed Ali in the 1970s. In the ‘80s, people would pay exorbitant prices to see Michael Jordan. In the 2000s, everyone had been blessed with the opportunity to see the Miz. He said that when he first started, no one took him seriously. He then talked about imitating The Rock last week. He said that there have been a number of “wannabe Rock clones” over the years, but that he was the only one who could imitate him correctly. Miz said that he has more charisma than Shawn Michaels, more physical dominance than Andre, The Giant, and more intelligent than John Cena or The Rock. He reiterated that he was the greatest WWE Champion ever. Miz said that he had actually become greater than the entire WWE Universe. Miz walked up to the podium and said that he has been changing WWE since his first day on the job. He took the WWE logo off of his microphone and said that he had flipped WWE. He turned the logo upside down so that it looked like an “M.”
He said that the “M” stood for Miz. Miz put his hand on the podium and said that it was time to rewrite Miz-tory. The arena went dark and a spotlight shown down on the podium. A drum roll played. Miz ripped off the blanket and revealed the spinner-belt WWE Title, with the “W” logo turned upside down to represent an “M.” Man, and I thought they were just going to introduce a new belt. Miz removed the title from its glass case and held it up over his head. Miz put the belt around his waist and had Riley button it on him. Miz said that this was what the WWE Championship would look like from here on out. He said that he didn’t plan on being a multiple time champion -- he planned on never losing the championship. Miz then closed out his promo with, “Because I’m the Miz, and I’m...Awesome!!!”
Suddenly, John Cena appeared on the Titantron and clapped wildly. He called Miz brilliant for spinning the WWE logo upside down and turning it into an “M.” Cena said that the WWE Universe knows he is not invincible, but that they also know not to make him angry. He talked about making history at WrestleMania. All of a sudden, a P.A. stepped into the shot and started moving the couch out of Cena’s “house.” Another P.A. stepped in and pulled away the backdrop, revealing that Cena was actually in the arena. Cena stood up and feigned surprise. He asked what happened. He said that he was supposed to be broadcasting from his home. Cena then said that the WWE Universe was his home. He said that Miz and Riley were messing up his living room, and he was going to take out the trash.
In the ring, Riley and Miz jumped up and down and waited for Cena to appear. Cena’s music hit and he made his way on to the stage. He looked into the camera and said, “Not via satellite. I’m here.” Cena ripped off his shirt and charged at Miz and Riley. The heels couldn’t restrain the rabid Cena. He tackled Miz down and tossed Riley out of the ring. Miz took the opportunity to rush out of the ring and up the entrance ramp. Riley jumped Cena from behind, but Cena took Riley down and locked in the STF. A referee ran in and tried to get Cena to break the hold.
Miz returned to the stage and stared at Cena. Cena reapplied the STF on Riley as Miz started heading towards the ring. Cena broke the hold, then locked it in for a third time. Miz once again ran to the backstage area. Finally, three different referees pulled Cena off of an unconscious Riley. His music played and he stood up a celebrated for the audience. He huffed and puffed into the camera as the show closed out.
SHOW REAX: I didn't think this was an entertaining episode of Raw. I could say it wasn’t good, but that would not mean much in the grand scheme of things. Every storyline just seemed to drag, as if the writers simply didn’t have any more material to throw out there before WrestleMania. The use of video packages was almost nauseating. The in-ring action was fine, but even that felt like filler. The show was book-ended by two less than memorable promos from Hunter and Miz, the latter of which felt clunky and completely uninspired. The Rock makes his live return next week, so that should add a little more energy to the final build-up towards WrestleMania. Unfortunately, right now, it just feels like the entire production is spinning its wheels until the big event.
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