TV REPORTS CALDWELL'S WWE RAW REPORT 1/18: Complete coverage of Undertaker on Raw, DX main event, Bret Hart follow-up
Jan 18, 2010 - 10:10:42 PM
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WWE Raw Live Report
January 18, 2009
Live from Knoxville, Tenn.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor
This week's WWE Raw started with the annual tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. focusing on his "I have a Dream" speech. After the usual Raw intro aired, fireworks shot off with Michael Cole welcoming viewers to the #1 show on cable TV. Cole and Jerry Lawler then plugged tonight's first match announced: John Cena and Kofi Kingston vs. Legacy. And the guest hosts, Don Johnson and Jon Heder.
In-ring: Justin Roberts introduced Mr. McMahon to start the show. Out came McMahon as they rolled footage from two weeks ago when McMahon played nice, then kicked Hart between the legs. McMahon spoke over Cole, who finished his sentence as McMahon began his promo. Sometimes you make good decisions, sometimes you make bad decisions in business. For instance, bringing Raw "to this God-forsaken community." After waiting out the boos, McMahon said he made a decision two weeks ago to bring back Bret Hart and kick him in the gut to humiliate him. McMahon said he dropped Hart for the good of the fans because they want to remember him for who he is. He said Hart is a broken-down, old warhorse who needs to be put down. McMahon repeated Hulk Hogan's quotes that he has to make a choice to put them down sometimes.
McMahon equated Hart to a chewed-up piece of gum. He said if he allowed Hart to stay here, it would have been like a disease or something. It starts in your fingertip, then the hand, then into the wrist, and you have to chop it off. McMahon transitioned into a promo on the fans, telling the audience they're all hypocritical because they all want better, stronger, and faster action. "You want it all!" he said. McMahon said he didn't make the decision to get rid of Hart, but the fans did. Suddenly, the gong hit for The Undertaker's theme music and the lights flashed. McMahon did a slight gulp.
World Hvt. champion Undertaker slowly walked out as Cole said it's a "Raw rarity" to see Taker on the show. Taker walked into the ring and circled around McMahon while the blue and black lights flashed in the arena. The lights stayed dim in the arena as Taker stared into the arena with his back to McMahon. McMahon muttered he would like to have a word with Taker. He said he wasn't quite finished. McMahon said it's his time and his show. Taker interrupted and turned to McMahon to say it's his time now. Crowd popped. Taker said he came out here to address Shawn Michaels, but since McMahon's here, he thought he would tell him something his own ego won't allow him to admit. Taker said there's not many of "us" left, but he was there 12 years ago in Montreal. He said he saw the whole thing. "I see the fear in your eyes now and I see the fear in your eyes now," Taker slowly said. "You screwed Bret Hart. Not once. But twice. And now you're terrified of the consequences...as you should be." Taker said it was the act of a coward.
McMahon stared back at Taker and said he disagrees with Taker's POV. He backed away and told Taker it's his time, anyways. McMahon then jolted toward the corner and left the ring while Taker stared him down. "Stubborness. Anger. Denial. Those aren't just the attributes of Vince McMahon, but they also lie within the soul of Shawn Michaels," Taker said. Taker took us back to last year when Shawn Michaels guaranteed he would beat The Streak, but The Streak is still in tact. Taker said Michaels has been asking for a re-match for a month, so he wants to deliver his answer personally. Taker turned toward the entrance ramp and Shawn Michaels's music hit.
Michaels came to the ring dressed in DX gear with mic in hand. Michaels stared back at Taker, who shot him a glare upon Michaels hitting the ring. Michaels teased talking first, but he paused for an "HBK" chant from the crowd. They continued to lock eyes while standing at a distance, then Michaels proclaimed he's here, Deadman, anxiously waiting for Taker's answer. Michaels said he's all ears. Taker admitted Michaels came closer than all the others, but he still failed. He added that a re-match will only result in more bitter disappointment for Michaels. "My answer," Taker said before pausing, "is no." Michaels turned to look down at the mat before telling Taker he has the audacity to look him in the eye - Taker interrupted. He said if Michaels is convinced he can truly beat him, he'll give him the opportunity...tonight. The crowd popped as the wrestlers paused in the ring to let that soak in. Michaels: "No." He said he wants nothing more than to beat Taker, but he's going to do it on the grandest stage of them all.
Michaels said he realizes what he has to do: enter the Royal Rumble and win. "And believe me, Undertaker, I will win." He said there will be no mystery to who he's facing because the champion he's going to face is Undertaker. Michaels began to talk up Taker vs. Rey at the Rumble, but Taker interrupted: "Oh, I will be the World Hvt. champion come WrestleMania." Michaels paused and said after he wins the Royal Rumble, he'll see him at WrestleMania. "Your streak, your title, your soul will be mine," Michaels said in his face. The bell tolled and the arena went black and blue again before Taker left the ring. They faded to commercial after a 20-minute opening segment. PYB (3) talk time: 16:35.
JC: A whole lot of talking to start the show, but they had two solid, intense confrontations between Taker-McMahon and Taker-Michaels. As expected, the bridge to cross is Michaels winning the Rumble to get the re-match with Taker. It sets up a major angle if WWE wants to go that route of whomever were to eliminate Michaels in the Rumble (let's say a Kofi, McIntyre, DiBiase, etc.) has a star-making opportunity.
Raw recap: They went back to last week when Legacy helped Randy Orton win the #1 contender match over John Cena and Kofi Kingston. They edited out Orton going mental on Kofi at the end.
In-ring: WWE champion Sheamus's music hit to bring out the champ. He's in action to start the in-ring portion of the show. Already in the ring was Evan Bourne. This set-up feels like filler compared to two weeks ago.
1 -- WWE champion SHEAMUS vs. EVAN BOURNE -- non-title match
The bell sounded and #1 contender Randy Orton slowly walked out on stage to get a close look at the action. Evan Bourne has qualified for the Rumble, of note. Who knows how. Orton made his way to ringside and Sheamus stopped to glare at him. Meanwhile, Bourne smashed him in the back of the knee with a kick strike before landing a leaping kick strike. He followed with a double knee smash off the top rope for a two count. Sheamus then hit a backbreaker to cut off Bourne's momentum before hitting a bicycle kick. Sheamus then put Bourne up in the air for his Outsider's Edge finisher and the win.
WINNER: Sheamus at 2:05. I don't agree with throwing the champion in a segment without any hype and where he loses credibility points for nearly being pinned by someone who never wins matches on TV, even with Orton's distraction. WWE needs to build up Sheamus right now, not put him in a position to look vulnerable every week. (n/a)
Post-match: Orton slowly walked into the ring as the announcers tried to cover for the match that could have ruined Sheamus's credibility by saying Orton got in Sheamus's head, which nearly cost Sheamus the win. Orton entered the ring and stared down Sheamus, who grabbed his WWE Title belt and held it up in the air to boos. A few fans chanted, "Randy, Randy" during this. Sheamus then left the ring without any further physicality.
Backstage: Shawn met up with Triple H, who said he saw that with Taker and called it some powerful stuff. He wanted to talk to Shawn, but guest host Don Johnson interrupted. Johnson said he's looking for Jon Heder and he can't find him. Michaels said he doesn't know who he is, but he'll give Johnson a heads up if he sees him. Hunter said it's no big deal if Heder doesn't show up because he's an idiot anyways. Hunter said no one cares if he shows up, so Johnson should host by himself. Hunter left, then Johnson walked over to someone conveniently with his back to the camera dressed as Napoleon Dynamite. Who might have been playing him? (a) Santino, (b) Chris Jericho, or (c) Carlito. It was (c). Poor guy. He turned around and played dumb that he doesn't know who Napoleon Dynamite is. He walked off, leaving Johnson confused.
In-ring: Jack Swagger came out as the announcers were shown on-camera. They said Swagger will be in the Rumble. Why is he in? He doesn't win matches and he lost an "over the top rope" challenge to Santino last week. It's like WWE isn't even trying to explain how people qualify. It waters down the Rumble match by suggesting just about anyone can enter instead of being an elite opportunity to earn a title match on the biggest PPV of the year. Anyways, Swagger hit the ring and took the mic. He said last week with Santino was a fluke. He's issuing another All-American American challenge. Swagger dared Santino to come out and do it again.
Cue up Santino's music, which prompted Santino to show up in his best Miami Vice get-up in tribute to Johnson. Santino said he's more than just a WWE superstar today, but he's the president of the Italian Don Johnson Fan Club. Seeing that he's here tonight, he's pretty busy, but he's found a more-than-suitable sub. Cue up Mark Henry's music to bring out Henry and turn Swagger's frown upside down. Cole said Santino and Henry are in the Rumble, which prompted Cole to remind viewers of the rules for the Rumble.
2 -- JACK SWAGGER vs. MARK HENRY -- Over-the-top-rope challenge
Swagger ducked under a clothesline and hit a forearm, but Henry proceeded to lift up Swagger in the air and press-slam Swagger over the top rope to the floor. And Henry wins. Swagger threw a fit ringside while Henry celebrated the easy victory.
WINNER: Henry at 0:31. Unexplainable. (n/a)
Backstage: A black limo was shown pulling up in the parking garage area. The driver walked around to the passenger door to bring out Jon Heder with the Bella Twins. Heder told someone inside not to come out until he says so. Heder: "Go Nashville!" The Bellas whispered in his ring he was wrong. "Go Knoxville!" he said. Heder said he's going to find Johnson and go to the ring. So, who's in the limo? (a) Bret Hart, (b) Chris Jericho, or (c) a future member of the TNA roster as the biggest acquisition in wrestling history?
In-ring: Justin Roberts introduced Jon Heder and Don Johnson and they came out to the ring flanked by each Bella Twin. Cole and Lawler plugged their career work before Johnson took the mic to start things off. Heder interrupted and said it's so awesome to have real-life movie stars in the house. Johnson said they know what the audience really wants to see - DX in the main event. Heder said he's not that enthusiastic because he needs something new. He said they're both from So Cal and they have this brand new football coach - Lane Kiffin. Ouch, touchy subject at the Univ. of Tennessee with plenty of boos. Cole said Kiffin walked out on his football team here in Knoxville.
The Miz then came out per Heder's request and he thanked Heder for entering him in the Rumble. Did Heder also enter Bourne? Miz said he received a text that Johnson should host the show alone. He talked up Heder's box-office business, which Johnson quipped he could do in a week. Miz said he has the utmost respect for Johnson, who he said is what he is right now - the hottest thing on television. Miz talked down his sidekick, but Johnson said everyone remember Tubbs. Miz said he has another name here on Raw - MVP. Miz said that's the guy who thinks he can compete with him on his level. After Heder and Miz talked some more, MVP's music hit to interrupt.
MVP stood on the entranceramp and cut his promo that he feels a kinship with Johnson being from Miami. He apologized to Johnson for having to be caught up in this non-sense. He apologized to the fans for their time being wasted on Napoleon Dynamite and his sidekick, pedro. MVP said as of a few minutes ago, he is officially in the Rumble. How? By what qualifications? So crazy. MVP said he's going to throw Miz out of the Rumble, but he doesn't want to wait right now. He also vowed to throw out Heder.
MVP hit the ringside area, but suddenly Big Show's music hit to interrupt. Show stomped out dressed to wrestle with MVP caught in the middle. Show kicked MVP in the gut and KO Punched him in the face with a right hand. Show then slid into the ring with Miz, who sold concern over where Show stood. Heder slapped hands with Show and Heder said they have the same agent, so he called him down here. Heder said he's tired of DX celebrating at the end of every night. Johnson wanted nothing to do with this. Heder said he has a great feeling about Show and Miz. "Let's hear it for friendship!" Heder shouted. He then booked DX vs. the brand spankin' new team of Big Show and Miz tonight. Um, we've seen this before. Heder then jumped in Show's arms to celebrate the booking decision. PYB (3) talk time: 9:55.
JC: Funny how the fans who are tired of DX are being represented by the young, heel guest host who hasn't drawn as much money as the established star. Meanwhile, the likeable Johnson represents the casual WWE fans who want to see DX.
Haiti plug: Michael Cole did a voice-over for WWE teaming with AmeriCares to raise money for Haiti relief efforts.
In-ring: John Cena's music hit just before the top of the second hour. The kids and women exploded out of their seats as Cena came out on stage for the semi-main event tag match. Cena stormed the ring as WWE cut to shots of kids celebrating Cena's arrival. Cole plugged Cena having a spot in the Rumble.
[Q5 -- second hour]
Kofi Kingston came out at the top of the hour as Cole reset the show live from Univ. of Tennessee. Cena and Kofi slapped hands before Legacy's music hit to bring out Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Cole cited recent bickering between Legacy, but a video showed them on the same page helping Orton win the #1 contender deal last week. Uh-oh, Lawler with a huge slip, calling Randy Orton "Randy Savage" during a voice-over on the replay from last week.
3 -- JOHN CENA & KOFI KINGSTON vs. LEGACY (CODY RHODES & TED DIBIASE)
Legacy isolated Cena early in the match and cut off a brief comeback, but Kofi eventually got the hot tag at 2:45 to do his routine on DiBiase. Kofi hit the Boom Drop, then teased Trouble in Paradise, but DiBiase moved away to a neutral corner. Cody then caused confusion in the corner allowing DiBiase to land a smashing clothesline to cut off Kofi. Legacy took control going to break.
ECW plug: Christian and Ezekiel Jackson do stuff tomorrow night on Syfy. Back to the tag match where Cena urged Kofi to make the tag while Legacy kept working Kofi over. DiBiase missed with a clothesline on Kofi in the corner, then Cody just ran across the ring and knocked Cena off the ring apron to keep Legacy on the advantage. Kofi back-dropped out of a suplex attempt, then Cena begged for a tag and took the tag with the crowd exploding for Cena's full comeback routine. Cena called for the Five Knuckle Shuffle on Cody and delivered center ring. Cody then countered the FU with a Russian Legsweep for a two count. Cena then blocked a bulldog and hit the FU on Cody, but DiBiase broke up the pin. The action broke down and Kofi took a blind-tag with Kofi coming off the top with a high cross-body splash on Cody after DiBiase ducked. Kofi made the cover on Cody for the pin and the win.
Post-match: Cole over-suggested Kofi is really hot right now going into the Rumble. Did he not pay attention to the video before the match of Orton pinning Kofi last week? Kofi and Cena celebrated at the top of the ramp after some replays, while back in the ring, Cody shook off DiBiase's help and left him in the ring. Cody sold not being pleased with DiBiase setting him up for the fall.
WINNERS: Cena & Kofi at 10:55. Good formula TV tag match with high energy and some good work from Legacy extending the iso on Kofi and the teased finishes before Kofi won the match. More tension between Cody and Ted will probably be played up, yet again, in the weeks to come. Overall, it was good to see Kofi get a win and Legacy standing alone without Orton. I'm all for WWE trying to get heat back on Kofi after a string of losses by trying to make it seem like Kofi is "red-hot," as Cole put it, but it was really an insult to the intelligence of the audience that would know Kofi has lost key matches lately. (**1/4)
Backstage: Jon Heder was with The Miz and Big Show backstage talking strategy. Suddenly, Hornswoggle barged in and talked trash to Heder. Triple H then walked in and addressed Heder. Hunter translated that Hornswoggle doesn't like him, like the rest of the world. Hornswoggle grunted some more and Hunter challenged him to a match tonight. Miz said Heder has no interest in challenging Hornswoggle. Hunter said no one has interest in Miz. Miz did a mock face at Hunter. They eventually set this up as a six-man tag with Hornswoggle on DX's side and Heder on Miz and Show's side. Heder was concerned about this, but Show assured him he'll be fine. Heder sold his mind was just blown. "What just happened?" he asked himself.
Exterior shot: They showed the sights and sounds at Tennessee.
In-ring: Maryse came out first for a showcase tag match for the Divas Title semi-finalists. Alicia Fox was her tag partner. Gail Kim, then Eve came out as the opposition. Very quick intros here. They showed the tournament bracket with match-ups of Maryse vs. Eve and Fox vs. Kim to come.
4 -- MARYSE & ALICIA FOX vs. GAIL KIM & EVE
Maryse took control early on and knocked Gail to the outside so she could do her pose. Maryse continued to work over Gail before Eve took a hot tag at 2:00. The action broke down with Alicia tagging in and all four women involved in the finish, which was Eve scoring a pin on Alicia for the win.
WINNERS: Eve & Gail at 2:50. Your standard three-minute divas match extending the Divas Title situation another week. Just fine. (n/a)
Chuck promo: They showed clips of Steve Austin playing an assassin on next week's episode of "Chuck." Austin was shown talking out-of-character about his role on the show. Next Monday at 8:00 p.m. EST, Austin on Chuck.
Main event plug: Lawler plugged the six-man tag to come. Lawler's voice went an octave higher on "Heeeeder."
[Commercial Break. Third round of plugs for The Rock's "Tooth Fairy" movie coming out later this month. A round of "When In Rome" plugs for Don Johnson and Jon Heder's movie. They barely have a role in the movie based on the commercial.]
Backstage: Don Johnson was checking Kelly Kelly's nails, then Jon Heder barged in saying he doesn't know how he get involved in this tough spot. Heder told Johnson just to take his spot, but Johnson laughed him off. Heder said he's going to die out there. Big Show and Miz then walked in and outlined the gameplan: they do the heavy-lifting and Heder comes in at the end. Johnson knocked the plan, but Miz said it will work. Heder agreed. Show then pulled out a Ric Flair sequined robe and handed it to Heder, who was nick-named "The Flame" for the main event. Show's pitch: "No one can extinguish the flame." Heder said he just needs pyro.
Announcers: Lawler and Cole were shown on-camera to plug the Rumble. Lawler said Heder's going to be flaming in this match to come. ... The announcers ran down the Rumble card including heel vs. heel and face vs. face title matches from Raw and Smackdown, respectively.
Backstage: Triple H was shown listening to Vince McMahon (a little father-in-law chat). McMahon said he's not a coward and he's going to call out Undertaker next week. Hunter laughed him off and said just worry about Bret Hart. He said the entire family always has to just get the last word in and they never can let things go. Hunter said McMahon should have just let Hart walk off into the sunset, but he always has to get in the last shot. He laid out a scenario that if McMahon brings out Bret Hart next week or the week after - he just makes Hart a bigger star, but if McMahon doesn't call him out, then everyone knows McMahon's a coward. He said McMahon has put himself into a corner. McMahon grimaced, then walked off.
Shawn Michaels then walked in to talk to Hunter, but Hornswoggle interrupted and tried talking to them on a step-ladder. Hunter still had a serious issue he wanted to talk to Michaels about, but this wasn't the place. DX walked off, but Horny still needed a ride. They went to a long-shot of Hunter not wearing knee pads and it looked like he just walked out of the bathroom with his pants down around his ankles and his underwear on. Who ribbed Hunter? Horny then hopped on Hunter's back to walk off with Michaels.
In-ring: Randy Orton came to the ring for a match. He did the full ring intro and stared into the crowd before Chris Masters came out as the opponent. Virtually no reaction for Masters, who came out to that generic new rock music and Eve by his side.
5 -- RANDY ORTON vs. CHRIS MASTERS (w/Eve)
The bell sounded and Sheamus's music hit to bring out the WWE champion for a closer look. Formula, but good stuff with Orton and Sheamus here. Masters and Orton locked up center ring and Masters landed a hard shoulder block. The crowd hasn't heard Masters turned babyface. Masters tried the Masterlock, but Orton flung him away, only to take a powerslam for a two count. They showed Sheamus staring intently into the ring as Orton came back with a fallaway backbreaker. Orton then got down on the mat to set up the RKO, but Masters countered into the Masterlock. Orton tried to escape by grabbing the ropes and he started to fade, which drew Masters into a trap for Orton to grab the ropes for a break. Masters then approached Orton for follow-up offense, but Orton dropped him with the RKO out of nowhere. Orton made the pin for the win.
WINNER: Orton at 2:50. Really intriguing segment here. There was a babyface that Knoxville hadn't heard turned babyface, a long-standing heel playing for sympathy, and the WWE champion. It was just different and in a good way. The post-match put good heat on Sheamus with WWE subtly making Orton the default babyface for the Rumble. WWE gets a B+ for developing the Orton-Sheamus program for the Rumble on this week's show. (*)
Post-match: Orton sold neck pain, then suddenly turned around to find a bicycle kick to the face from Orton. One clean blow. Sheamus then put his boot on Orton's head and declared himself the winner tonight. Sheamus slowly left the ring, leaving Orton out cold in the ring. Sheamus then lifted the WWE Title belt up in the air to close the segment.
Main event plug: Six-man tag up next.
Next week: "Psych" stars James Roday and Dule Hill guest-host next week's Raw.
In-ring: Big Show came to the ring for the main event. There was a graphic on the bottom of the screen thanking a lot of folks in Tennessee. "WWE Raw was shot on location in Knoxville, Tenn." Apparently they're rolling credits now, yet the TV wrestling stars don't have SAG protection. "The Flame" Jon Heder then came out in his Ric Flair robe. Heder hit the ring and did some posing and dancing while giving the camera a flash of some pasty white legs. DX's music then hit to bring out "the mascot" Hornswoggle. Johnson, Michaels, and Hunter then followed out. DX did their pre-match glowstick toss routine before WWE cut to break before the main event.
[Commercial Break. Tooth Fairy. Friday.]
6 -- Unified tag champions DX (SHAWN MICHAELS & TRIPLE H) & HORNSWOGGLE (w/Don Johnson) vs. THE BIG SHOW & U.S. champion THE MIZ & JON HEDER
The match was joined in progress with "vintage Shawn Michaels" as Michaels and Miz worked against each other. Miz hit a neckbreaker early while Heder was shown still standing on the apron in his Ric Flair robe. Show then tagged in and worked over Michaels before executing a sidewalk slam focused on the back.
[Q9 -- over-run]
They hit the top of the hour with Cole resetting the show and focusing on the guest hosts tonight. Miz tagged back in and Michaels ripped off a round of chops. They followed with a double knock-down and Michaels crawled to his corner to tag in Hornswoggle? Horny dropkicked Miz, but then Miz smashed him with a clothesline from his knees. Heder wanted a tag, which brought in Heder, who removed his robe to reveal an old-school 1940s wrestler body. Heder proceeded to kick Hornswoggle in the gut, but Horny bit him and tagged in Hunter. Heder then ran out of the ring, but Johnson tossed him back in. Show tried to get involved, but Michaels superkicked him and Show fell on top of Heder. Michaels then superkicked Miz off the apron. Horny followed with a tadpole splash on Show and Heder and Hornswoggle pinned Heder for the pin and the win.
WINNERS: DX & Hornswoggle at 4:35. Predictable finish with DX standing tall in the main event yet again. It's Wile E. Coyote vs. the Roadrunner every week on Raw. Heder at least played a good ham tonight and went along with the bit. DX will argue Miz got a rub from being in the main event with them, but Miz was a virtual after-thought in the main event. (*)
Post-match: Johnson just smirked ringside before consoling Heder on his loss. Heder dejectedly left the ring before Hunter took the mic. Hunter said he needs to talk to Michaels. He said this thing about him and Undertaker is tough because Michaels has to figure another way to get that match. Hunter said it's not going to work out going after the title this way. There was a big pause, something was off, and there was an apparent miscommunication as Michaels and Hunter started having a Randy Orton moment about the timing being off for John Cena's music to hit for an interruption. Cena walked out and said before tempers get out of control, he has a major announcement of his own. Cena said it's been two years since he's been in a Rumble match, so he's officially stating he's competing. We already knew that. Cena said the last time he was in the Rumble, he won the whole thing. This year, he's going to do it again.
Hunter started to talk, but Big Show gingerly re-entered the ring and said he has news for all three of them that he is in the Rumble this year too and the Rumble is designed for a giant like him. He proceeded to kick Hunter in the gut before head-butting Michaels. Cena and Show started battling and Cena knocked Show to the outside. DX then dumped Cena over the top rope to the floor. Suddenly, Hunter chucked Michaels over the top rope. He said the thing he's been trying to tell Shawn all night is that none of them are winning the Rumble because he is. Hunter threw down the mic and stared down at Michaels, who stared back up at Hunter. Hunter-Michaels stare down was the focal point to close the show eight minutes past the top of the hour.
So, who was in the limo with Heder?
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