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WWE Raw Report
WWE RAW ON HULU REPORT 2/4: Kemp's debut review of Raw without the filler; did WWE make the right call on what should be cut from Hulu version?

Feb 6, 2013 - 11:16:27 AM


WWE Raw on Hulu TV report
February 4, 2013
Live from Atlanta, Ga.
Report by Nicholas Kemp, PWTorch VIP member

Hey, Torch readers, it's time for what I'm hoping to make a weekly contribution to the Torch, the Hulu Plus Tuesday Afternoon Raw Review! In this review I'm going to sit down every Tuesday afternoon to watch the previous day's Raw episode on Hulu Plus. I stream Hulu through my Playstation 3, so I'm getting the same flat-screen HD experience as most of you, but there are a few key differences.

The first difference being that WWE shortens Raw from a staggering three hours to roughly an hour-and-a-half, including commercial breaks, which are generously shortened to between 15 and 45 seconds. Another obvious difference is I'm not watching it live and I rarely check what happened on Raw before I watch it, so color me anxious. Basically, I'm coming in knowing what happened yet without seeing it played out before my eyes. I'm going to try to compare and contrast the Hulu version of Raw to the USA version and see which would be the better show to watch that particular week. Using James Caldwell's live coverage report, I'll point out what they cut out, why I think they did so, and whether it was a good move or not. You'll come to find that with all the filler the three-hour Raws tend to produce, it's normally a good move. I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday Afternoon Raw - Live from Atlanta, Georgia at Philips Arena

Kaitlyn opened the show with the standard WWE greeting for every episode of Raw. A Superstar or Diva gives a ten-second introduction while standing in front of a TV set displaying the WWE on Hulu Plus logo.

Raw opened with the now standard recap video. It covered the Shield's attack on John Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus. The narrator, like the rest of us, was curious as to how Team Cena would react to the attack. The video shifted focus to a recap of the excellent Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon segment from last week. And then... Everything changed. I love the way Lesnar's opening riff sounds by itself, especially in the context of this video. McMahon gets killed and we begin Raw on a happy note.

C.M. Punk's music hit as Cole welcomed us to the show, live in the Philips Arena. Punk had a sour look on his face, per usual. Punk forced Justin Roberts to announce him as the “People's Champion,” which got a good reaction. Punk went on to cut a good promo, including such gems as “The WWE Championship in its physical form was stolen from me and is currently held by somebody who does not deserve it. Somebody who doesn't understand what it means to be champion.” I loved that line, especially the physical form bit, as if Punk still believes he still has “spiritual” possession of the championship.

Punk made a case for why - even though it appeared Paul Heyman was outed last week - he and Heyman still have nothing to do with The Shield or Brad Maddox. “That wasn't Paul Heyman; that was Paul Giamatti. That wasn't Paul Heyman; that was CGI,” Punk said. Punk claimed Vince orchestrated the whole video just to screw with Punk and Heyman some more.

Again, Punk says he's the one granting Rock a re-match. This leaves the door open for Punk to say he never exercised the re-match clause for his championship and insert himself into the Rock-Cena match at WrestleMania if The Undertaker can't go. I first heard editor Jason Powell come out with this idea and I think it makes sense, but I'd rather see Rock and Cena one-on-one and Punk find his own match. Bruce Mitchell suggested Ryback on the Bruce Mitchell Audio Show this past week and that makes sense to me.

Booker T interrupted and right before he started Punk cut him off, which totally threw Booker of his game. Hilarious. Booker stumbled over his words to the point that Punk asked him if he was drunk. Booker suspiciously dodged the question and skipped to announcing that the main event would be a RawActive match. Yay. The choices were Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, or Chris Jericho to face Punk tonight. A "Y2J" chant rose from the crowd foreshadowing what was to come. Booker hit his catchphrase to close the segment leading to the first commercial break.

[Commercial Break #1]

Cody Rhodes welcomed everyone back from break sporting a dashing new t-shirt. I gotta get it. Cole mentioned in passing that Rhodes Scholars broke up last Friday on Smackdown, but the two still remained best friends. Man, I'll miss them. Alberto Del Rio was already waiting in the ring, which seemed strange. This was a fast-paced match that had some decent moves in it. Del Rio nearly knocked Cody Rhodes's mustache off his lip with a superkick. Rhodes almost did the same with his Disaster Kick, but sadly, Del Rio has no mustache.

Del Rio got the win after a pretty sloppy counter of a lariat into his cross arm-breaker submission. Rhodes tapped very quickly and if you remember he did the same last week to John Cena. Coincidence? Del Rio started talking about how he's changed, he's a different person now, and he's no longer the bully. He's the one fighting the bully in Big Show and he's fighting for everyone who has to work hard just to put food on the table. Yeah, the rich guy with all the cars and the man-slave. Basically, he said Big Show's going to pay for what he did to said man-slave, Ricardo Rodriguez.

Big Show interrupted him on the Tron, clad in a dapper suit and sitting in what could only be a WWE-furnished hotel room. Show went on to say he didn't kill Del Rio in the parking lot because it wouldn't get him what he wanted. Big Show wants a match with Del Rio for the World Title at the Elimination Chamber. Show told Del Rio to send one of his flunkies with a contract for him to sign. Show, proving he's a master of reverse psychology, told Del Rio to not even think about trying to find him in the hotel. He closed by saying what he did to Ricardo will be nothing compared to what he'll do to Del Rio if he shows up.

Back to King and Cole, who talked about the fan voting. King stood up with a microphone in-hand and his headset still on for some reason. King revealed the results of the poll, which were Rey Mysterio with 13 percent, Randy Orton with 30 percent, and Chris Jericho with 57 percent. Not a surprising result given that Jericho's easily the freshest of the three and would probably have the better match with Punk. King and Cole then hyped Paul Heyman on MizTV and John Cena calling out The Shield for later in the broadcast.

[Commercial Break #2]

WWE Rewind – Team Hell No vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara from Smackdown last Friday in San Diego. We are reminded that Mysterio pinned Bryan in that match to set up the next bout.

Bryan and Kane were backstage going through their usual shtick. Bryan said no matter what happens in his match, Kane needs to stay in the back. Kane looks miffed, but reluctantly agrees.
Rey Mysterio vs. Daniel Bryan is up next. It might be my audio, but the crowd doesn't seem as hot as I'd expect them to be for either guy, especially Bryan. The announcers talk about the Smackdown Chamber and apparently Rey Mysterio's already in it. Cole said Booker announced it earlier, but I must have missed the segment, unless it was cut.

Bryan and Rey have a good chemistry together, but this wasn't the platform - given the time restrictions and lack of storyline - for a great match. Bryan had a good spot where he countered a headscissors from Rey into a double-knee gutbuster type of move, I'm not even sure what to call it. It was the same move they hit last Friday on Smackdown, too. Bryan fell to the floor after missing a shoulder thrust in the corner going to break.

[Commercial Break #3]

Rey attempted the 619, but Bryan countered into the No! Lock, which Rey countered into a cradle for a nearfall. Bryan went for a powerbomb (odd), but Rey hit a huracanrana (ah), which set up a 619. Bryan dodged the top-rope splash and locked in the No! Lock for the submission victory.
Rey also tapped out to Bryan's hold very quickly; along with Cody's two occasions the past two weeks, I wonder if that's a new mandate or not?

Mark Henry's music hit and Michael Cole thought somebody had to be kidding him. Henry got a good reaction and threw Bryan literally head-first into the edge of the barricade. Henry destroyed Rey with a running spinebuster that had great impact behind it. Henry set Rey up for a Vader Bomb, but Sin Cara tried rescue his fellow masked marauder. Sin Cara attempted a crossbody, which always seems to be a mistake against Mark Henry, considering his finisher and all. Henry hit the World's Strongest Slam on the foolish Cara, then hit one one Rey, too. Henry hit a Vader Bomb on Rey before he proclaimed “That's what I do!”

Mark Henry looked like a total beast here and I'm glad to see he's back just in time for WrestleMania season. I hope he can re-ignite the fire he had during his late 2011 run. He had good intensity here. As long as he's booked well and can remain injury-free, I see him having a lot of success. “I'm an original!”

King hyped the Main Event of Punk vs. Jericho before going to the next break.

[Commercial Break #4]

Kane vs. Sheamus is up next. Raw returned with Sheamus in the ring, which, like Del Rio's lack of entrance, struck me as odd. Kane made his entrance and the match descended into a brawl rather quickly. Kane had a nice guillotine counter to Sheamus's barrage of forearms on the ropes. The finishing sequence was nice, but it seemed like it was in slow-motion given the size of the guys. Kane hit a nice DDT after missing the Tombstone and Daniel Bryan came down to the ring.

Bryan accused Kane of not coming to his aid earlier and Kane shoved him off the apron. Kane turned right into a Brogue Kick from Sheamus who scored the three count and the victory. Bryan backed up the ramp with a delusional grin on his face. He said he was sorry, but he was still grinning, so probably wasn't too sincere.

[Commercial Break #5]

It's MizTV time. Miz began his usual routine before being cut off by Paul Heyman. The two went back and forth about the Lesnar-Maddox-Shield-Punk drama. Heyman was as excellent as he's been lately, while Miz was uninspiring. Miz's delivery always sounds too forced and I get the feeling he's sticking hard to his script. I never get the feeling he's improvising and having fun with it. I could be wrong, but lately there's been an awkward stiffness in Miz's pan-uh, promos.

“Excuse me!” Vickie Guerrero made her way down to the ring next and broke the news that Paul Heyman was telling the truth. I loved how even Paul Heyman looked taken aback by that statement. Vickie revealed she was the one who re-signed Brock Lesnar. She said she did it to get Vince McMahon's attention so she'd be promoted to permanent Raw general manager. Vickie said she and Heyman had no idea Brock would do what he did to McMahon and felt so bad about it she started crying on Heyman's shoulder.

Paul suggested they all have a moment of silence for Mr. McMahon, but Vickie had one better. “Let's all pray... for Mr. McMahon's well being!” In a classic shot, Vickie and Paul bowed their heads in prayer before Miz interrupted them with “Really?” Miz said they were lying through their teeth and Heyman has hated McMahon ever since he squashed ECW. Miz talked about how McMahon has always dangled carrots in front of Vickie only to snatch them away.

“Now you're offending me!” Paul Heyman's facial expressions were so incredibly good here. I have no idea where he gets it from. Miz told the two that when Vince comes back, they were both getting fired. Then, Brock Lesnar's music hit.

Paul Heyman acted like a missile was coming down the ramp and couldn't get Vickie out of the ring fast enough. Awesome touch. Miz put on his best mean face as Brock Lesnar climbed into the ring staring him down. I loved the collective “OHHH!” when Miz shoved Lesnar, but from there it was downhill for Miz. Lesnar tossed Miz outside of the ring and threw the studio chairs down on top of him. One of the chairs caught Miz hard on the side of the head, and I mean hard.

Lesnar threw a fit and threw all the furniture out of the ring before Miz came back in and tried to beat him down. Brock stopped him quickly and hit him with the F-5 inches from the upturned couch. Again Paul Heyman with the subtle touches. “No more, you'll kill him! He's sorry! He's sorry!” I liked the segment a lot. Heyman was excellent, Vickie and Miz were okay, and Brock was a living, breathing force of nature, as always.

[Commercial Break #6]

Fandango! I'm glad to see he's still alive and is even important enough not to cut from the Hulu version. Awesome.

Chris Jericho vs. C.M. Punk is up next. Jericho's new tattoos still throw me off. Cole noted he talked to Jericho earlier and claimed he said that the ovation he got in Phoenix at the Royal Rumble was the biggest of his career. I wonder if that's true or not. Jericho got a Y2J chant to start and took control early. Soon enough there were dueling C.M. Punk and Y2J chants. It was interesting to listen to, as the Y2J chants were slightly higher than the Punk chants, but not by nearly as wide a margin as when Cena's out there. Punk had a great counter to Jericho's trademark triangle dropkick by simply wringing him on the top rope. This is where Raw went to another commercial break.

[Commercial #7 – "Now I know that I love New York" is on Hulu.]

After the break, Jericho attempted his Lionsault, but Punk got his knees up, only for Jericho to attempt to counter into the Walls of Jericho. Punk pushed Jericho back into a corner, attempted his knee-lift, but Jericho swung him around and ended up hitting a slick-looking Frankensteiner. A “You've still got it!” chant broke out after the Frankensteiner. I wasn't aware Jericho had lost it.

The two exchanged some good counters until Punk hit a nasty kick to the side of Jericho's head for a nearfall. That looked great. Punk wormed his way into the Anaconda Vice, but Jericho got the ropes. Jericho countered the GTS into the Walls of Jericho for the pop of the night. Punk got to the ropes, but he couldn't lift Jericho up for a GTS, a nice touch. Jericho went for the Walls again, but Punk ended up sending Punk head-first into the middle buckle. Punk threw Jericho into the turnbuckle then hit the GTS for the clean victory. That was a very good Raw main event. Punk and Jericho always bring out a good match in each other and got a good amount of time for a Raw main event. I liked it a lot.

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler announced the next Hall of Fame inductee... Bruno Sammartino! Being a younger fan, I haven't seen enough of Bruno, but I'm glad to see he's finally getting his just due. Despite not knowing much about Bruno, the video package got me excited to learn more about him and watch his induction speech. I wonder if they'll label Bruno Sammartino with the “Living Legend” title. Didn't Larry Zbyszko sue Chris Jericho over that a few years ago?

A quick note, I could hear the very beginning of the “Bruno” chant I read about, but the scene quickly shifted to Cole and Lawler congratulating him. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but either way it was an odd move.

[Commercial Break #8]

WWE showed a video package on The Rock. I prefer this method of reminding us he's still relevant without him being “live via satellite." After last year, I think it leaves a bad taste in fans's mouths, especially if you're in the building.

John Cena cut a promo backstage with Josh Mathews. Like most people who tolerate Cena I like this side of him best. He gave a good, if not standard “pumped-up preacher man” Cena promo that I like. I'm glad he strayed away comedy this week; let's hope it stays that for a while.

[Commercial Break #9]

Big Show's still in his hotel room, eating of all things. He complained to someone over the phone about the guy with the contract taking forever. Someone knocked on his door and Big Show hung up and answered. The dude had a contract for Big Show to sign, but he was trying to tell Show something. However, Big Show was too busy speed-reading the “very important” contract to listen. As he signed the contract, Show said he doesn't do birthday tweets, autographs, or pictures. He opened the door for the guy and didn't notice a slightly menacing Del Rio standing in his door frame.

Despite the element of surprise, Big Show kicked Del Rio's ass down the hallway and beyond. Del Rio ended up outsmarting the giant again, this time with a fire extinguisher instead of duct tape. Del Rio hit him in the shoulder with the extinguisher and somehow KO'd the giant. Perhaps his giant head hit the floor upon landing. Two guys came off the elevator and a sweaty Del Rio told them to be on their merry way. They obliged and Del Rio said, “You'll be fine, Show, hasta luego," as the elevator doors closed. Overall, the brawl was all right, nothing special really, though Del Rio shows good fire.

Raw shifted to Brad Maddox standing confidently in the ring, microphone in-hand. He cut a promo about how Paul Heyman “preyed” on him and how he was a wronged man. The crowd was giving him the “What?” treatment by this point. Maddox claimed in a very real way he's the hero of the story. He claimed he, Brad Maddox, instead of John Cena was going to teach the Shield about justice. Yes, for real. “Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns... Justice awaits you,” he said. God, I love that guy.

The Shield's music hit and they came down through the crowd with microphones. Ambrose did some good mic work: “You wanna be the hero? Nah. You're just a rat scurrying under floorboards looking for scraps." “We just get the feeling... that Brad Maddox doesn't believe in the Shield." Maddox actually stood and fought against The Shield, but numbers quickly overwhelmed him. John Cena's music hit and he started coming through the crowd. Ryback's music cut Cena's off and he was shown coming through the crowd, too. Ditto Sheamus, who looked incredibly eager.

The Shield made a break for it up the ramp, but a line of babyfaces blocked their paths. The Shield retreated for the ring and stood huddled back to back as Cena, Ryback and Sheamus did their routine. The babyfaces ended up clearing the ring to send The Shield retreating through the crowd. Cena's music hit to end the show as Shield watched on in disgust from the crowd.

REAX: I thought this was a good way to end the show. It showed unity between John Cena, Sheamus, Ryback, and the other faces. It also made the babyfaces look clever by turning The Shield's own tactics against them. I like that. With the post-match announcement it looks like WWE is setting up a six-man tag match at the Elimination Chamber PPV, and I'm excited for it.

Now that the show is done I'll review the segments that were trimmed to cut this down from three hours and ten minutes to an hour and thirty minutes.

- Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler explaining how to download the WWE App. Thank God.

- Antonio Cesaro vs. Ryback. This match was twice as long as Sheamus vs. Kane, and didn't really forward anything other than Ryback's dominance over Cesaro. I'm fine with this being cut.

- Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, and Randy Orton Promos. Since I'm obviously not watching the show live, there's no reason to vote.

- Trish Stratus HOF Recap. They already announced this last week and already had the Bruno HOF segment, so it was certainly skippable.

- Jack Swagger vs. Santino Marella. How many times have we seen this? It would have been nice to give the newly returned Swag-Man a little HuluRaw love, but I understand why they'd cut this.

- Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton: We've seen this a lot recently and it didn't do anything for either guy, really. They usually have good matches, but at five minutes it's totally skippable.

Overall Thoughts: Hulu cuts out a lot of the unnecessary filler that makes Raw a dreary thing to sit through live on Monday nights. The Hulu edition feels like a trimmer, sleeker version of Raw, which makes it even more apparent the show would be a lot better off quality-wise had they stuck with a two-hour format. Unfortunately, that isn't the case, but if you're looking for what Raw does best without the filler, I'd suggest giving this version a shot. Hulu also has weekly editions of NXT and Smackdown, so if you're a wrestling fan without cable, but have the Internet, this could be just what you're looking for.

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