SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
NOVEMBER 28, 2016
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton.
-They opened with a video package on last week’s Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins main event with Chris Jericho’s interference playing a role in Owens retaining his title.
-They went live to the arena as Cole introduced the show and Jericho stood mid-ring as his music faded. He welcomed everyone to the Highlight Reel. He said his guest needs no introduction, but he’d introduce him anyway. He touted that he is the longest-reigning WWE Universal Champion in history. Saxton really needs to jump in there and say there’s only been two champions, and one got hurt the night he won the title. Owens walked out and said it’s great to be on the Highlight Reel two weeks in a row. Jericho said it’s never happened before. Owens said: “Best friends making history.” Owens said they make history, but the fans don’t. Owens said none of them have made history. The crowd booed. Owens said it was true.
Owens said last week the fans all got together with their families and pretended to like each other and ate food. Jericho said, “And got fat.” Owens said, “Yeah, out of shape, right?” He said they allegedly give thanks for what they’re thankful for. He said American Thanksgiving is more or less a way to get one last meal in before they all rush every store in America and trample over each other to save $60 on a crappy flat screen TV. Jericho: “Cheapskates.” Owens said he and Jericho are a superior breed of human called Canadian, and as Canadians, they had Thanksgiving last month. Owens said he is thankful for being the face of the premiere WWE show. He said he’s thankful to be Jericho’s best friend. They hugged and smiled.
Jericho said it was his turn. He said he, too, is thankful that Owens is his best friend. He said he is also thankful for his wicked red scarf. It had anchors on it. Owens pointed out the anchors are because they are the anchors of Monday Night Raw. Jericho said he’s thankful for Seth Rollins. Owens was surprised. Jericho said he’s thankful to learn from Seth what it’s like when you let your ego and pride take over your life. He said Seth proved to him that he is the epitome of a stupid idiot. He said last week Seth used his opportunity at a title match at Owens and he “failed miserably.” Owens said he “Rollins’d himself.” Jericho said people are still accusing him of interfering, but it’s preposterous. He said it was a clearly Sin Cara wearing a Chris Jericho mask. “He got the Mask of Jericho and he put it on, man.” Owens said it was amazing how realistic the match was.
Owens said he had Rollins exactly where he wanted him, and after he powerbombed him on the edge of the ring apron, he isn’t medically cleared to be there. Roman Reigns’s music played. A burst of cheers and boos. He walked out and rubbed the face of his U.S. Title belt, then slung it over his shoulder like a sack of laundry. Cole said from the looks on the faces of Owens and Jericho, Reigns was an uninvited guest. Graves said Jericho books the Highlight Reel months in advance and there’s a long waiting list.
Reigns said they should keep going on having fun and making everybody laugh, doing their schtick. “You have great chemistry,” he said. “I can see why you’re best friends.” Jericho asked if they’re clown funny, doing a little song and dance for him and the stupid idiots to laugh. He asked if it’s a joke to him. Reigns said Owens as Universal Champion is a huge joke. Owens got tongue-tied. Reings said: “Take your time. Spit it out, junior.” (Does he know what he sounds like when he says stuff like that? Junior? Seriously?) Jericho defended Owens, saying he’s so smart, English is his second language.
Owens said the only joke around here is when Reigns calls himself “Thee Guy.” Owens said that’s hilarious. Reigns said that’s no joke, he is Thee Guy. Boos. Reigns said Owens is just “A Guy” who needs a lot of help. Owens said, “Help for what?” Reigns said he needs help for everything, and that’s why he keeps Jericho around. Owens said he doesn’t need Jericho. Reigns asked Owens to put that on the record. Reigns said he disagrees. He said if he didn’t have Jericho last week, he’d have lost that title. And the week before that, and the week before that. Jericho interrupted him and said when you insult his best friend, something happens. As he built up to saying “The List,” Owens snapped and said you can’t talk to him that way. Reigns asked what he’d do. Owens said he’d powerbomb him on the ring apron like he did to his little buddy Seth. Reigns said that’s the guy he wants to talk to – not “Joke Owens Joke,” but rather “Fight Owens Fight.”
Reigns challenged Owens to a fight tonight, and if he wins, he gets a shot at Road Block to capture the Universal Championship. He said he knows he has to “discuss it with the missus.” Owens accepted the offer without discussing it with Jericho. “Congratulations, you just booked yourself on the Kevin Owens Show.” Reigns said: “Spoiler Alert: By the end of the show, I’m going to be kicking your ass.”
(Keller’s Reax: Even with Owens and Jericho doing their best to get booed, an eruption of boos for Reigns, and he didn’t win over the crowd as the segment continued. Reigns still doesn’t get a passing grade for even the bare minimum on the likability scale. He just must have no idea how he comes across. He’s still stiff and scripted sounding, which doesn’t work in his favor, either. As for setting up a meaningful match on Raw, this accomplished that. As for Owens’s strange jumbled sentence, if he was running for office, the other side would use that footage in slo-mo and say he had a seizure and is unfit for office.)
Reigns even carries his title like a d-bag. @thewadekeller
— RammerSlammer (@RammerSlammer) November 29, 2016
-Saxton hyped the Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks Women’s Title match. Cole hyped that Paul Heyman would reply tonight to Goldberg last week. [c]
-Backstage, they joined Owens and Jericho mid-conversation. Owens was upset that Reigns didn’t think he is a legitimate champion. Jericho wanted to know why he told him to shut up and why he said he didn’t need him. Jericho said every time he needs him, he is there for him. Owens said he thinks he’s helping, but he’s not. He said every time he tries to help him, he makes people think he can’t defend his title on his own. Jericho said he doesn’t need Owens as an ally, a partner, of a best friend. Mick Foley walked in and told Owens he has a match against Reigns. Foley turned to Jericho. Jericho told him he doesn’t have to fine him or ban him from ringside because he is done being there for Owens. “I’m out of here,” he said. “See ya’ later champ.”
(1) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. R-TRUTH (w/Goldust)
Truth and Goldust were already in the ring when they cut to the ring. They aired a clip of Strowman crushing Sami Zayn last week. Cole touted his speed, saying he’s the quickest big man he’s ever seen. “Frighteningly fast, extremely powerful,” said Cole. Braun fended off an early attack and then crushed Truth in under a minute with a running powerslam.
WINNER: Strowman in 30 seconds.
(Keller’s Reax: Man, it was the right thing to do, but they didn’t give Truth anything there. He sold well for him for a little time he was in there.)
-Goldust saved Truth from a post-match attack, so Strowman put him in a bear hug mid-ring. Sami Zayn ran out for the save, leaping onto Strowman’s back. The crowd sang Sami’s song, but Strowman made a comeback and slammed Sami hard to the mat off of his shoulders. Cole said that’s what Sami gets for his courage. Braun then hung Sami upside down in the corner. A few brave referees intervened. Foley walked out. The crowd chanted “Foley! Foley!” They cut to a break. [c]
-After the break, Sami yelled at Foley that he’s treating him like a charity case and he doesn’t need it. Saxton entered the ring and said this is the second week he’s stopped the action with Sami in there against Strowman. Foley said it’s not action, it’s a freakin’ massacre. He said Sami is never going to quit, and he risks doing damage to himself. He said sometimes in life, you have people who needs to be save from themselves. Sami shook his head and walked up to Foley. He said he doesn’t need to be saved from himself, he needs to be saved from a general manager who is taking orders from above and seems to have forgotten who he is where he’s from. Foley yelled that he made the match, and Stephanie didn’t like Sami. He said Stephanie wanted him fired, and he made the match as punishment, but he wasn’t being punished last week, he was being destroyed. Foley said that’s a match-up he will never win. He said Strowman is a monster and he will destroy him. Sami yelled back, asking Foley how he’d feel if people told him the same thing. “How dare you, Mick!” He said he was his hero and he was a hero to the fans, but he’s not a hero now, he’s a guy who is in his way who is taking away opportunities that he once had himself. He called him a hypocrite. Sami left. Foley told him to let it go.
-Saxton hyped Charlotte vs. Banks again.
-They went backstage to Charlotte being filmed while listening to her headphones. Dana Brooke just happened to walk in at that moment and jostled her out of her zone. Dana said she had an update on the Queen’s Championship Homecoming Celebration. She said the afterparty she’s throwing for her will be amazing, better than Bruno Mars’. Charlotte said tonight she’ll end her rivalry with Banks and become the only legend to make it out of this city. She told Dana to go away and prepare her celebration.
(Keller’s Reax: Nice touch having Charlotte say she’d be the only legend to make it out of Charlotte, perhaps softening the hometown babyface cheers some fans might be tempted to greet her with.) [c]
-A commercial hyped “205 Live” premiering tomorrow after Smackdown on WWE Network.
(Keller’s Reax: The more they focus on the highspots and athleticism exclusively without selling a single standout star or two whom fans care about, the more of an uphill battle it will be to get traction. The highspots are good, but that should be an obvious trait of the division that goes without say, but it’s having central personalities who come across as stars that will be the key.)
(2) TONY NEESE (w/Drew Gulak) vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER
Cedric made his ring entrance as Cole plugged “205 Live.” They shook hands before the match. There’s no good reason to have Cruiserweights shake hands before matches. There’s no full “Code of Honor” backstory like ROH had. It’s just a gesture and it feels derivative and silly.They showed Alicia Fox watching the monitor from an awkward sharp angle from the side. Boy does that look so ridiculous. She was cartoonishly acting smitten with Cedrick and playing with her hair. Neese got an early advantage and flexed his arms. Wrestlers don’t do that much on WWE TV. Not sure if that’s an unwritten rule or not. Neese settled into a body scissors. The crowd chanted “Cedric City!” Cole again said Cedric lost 22 pounds to enter the Cruiserweight Division. Cedric made a comeback. Cole declared, “It is so fun to watch!” Gulak stood on the ring apron to distract the ref. Cedrick leaped off the top rope and hit Gulak. Neese then gave Cedric a pump handle slam that wasn’t the cleanest looking, but it had big impact, and Neese got the pin.
WINNER: Neese in 3:00.
-They went to Enzo and Cass pitching Cyber Monday sales at WWE Shop.
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-WWE Fact: WWE has the no. 1 sports channel on YouTube, beating the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, FIFA, and the Olympics with over 12 billion views in the last year.
-They went to the announcers on camera. Saxton thanked fans for making the WWE Sports Channel number one on YouTube. They threw to a clip of the show-opening segment with Reigns, Owens, and Jericho, then Foley making the match official later backstage.
-Backstage, Jericho was rolling his bag out of the arena. He told the interviewer this situation with Owens is very serious and very important to him. He said in this business you can count your friends on one hand, and he thought Owens was one of them. He said if Owens doesn’t need him, he doesn’t need Owens. He asked her if she got her story, then told her to “get the hell out of here.” He continued to roll his bag out of the arena, glaring at people as he rolled by. They stayed with him so long, you knew something else was going to happen. He yelled at his driver to open the door. The driver did, but he knocked The List out of his hands. The driver asked if he made the list. Suddenly Seth Rollins appeared and he attacked Jericho. He threw him into a couple of cars and then into the security railing. He went to ram Jericho with the railing, but Jericho moved. The railing hit a car, but didn’t hit the windshield which might have been the intent. He threw him into an older SUV. Then Seth pulled him into the roof off a car and gave him a Pedigree on the roof. That can’t be great for Seth’s knees. He stood over him and huffed and puffed as Jericho was motionless. [c]
-They replayed the Jericho-Seth angle in the parking garage as the announcers commented.
(3) CHARLOTTE (w/Dana Brooke) vs. SASHA BANKS – WWE Women’s Championship match
During Charlotte’s ring entrance, Cole said Charlotte bragged on Facebook that Sasha has no chance against her because Charlotte is Flair Country. That contradicts her negative comments earlier about being the only legend to escape Charlotte, as if to demean the city. Charlotte didn’t seem to get the babyface pop someone named after the city they’re in would get, so she’s effective at getting the heel heat she desires. Banks applied a very early Bank Statement and the crowd popped (perhaps the Goldberg-Lesnar finish paying dividends), but Charlotte reached the bottom rope to force a break. Sasha went after Dana at ringside, throwing her into the ringside steps. Sasha climbed to the top rope and hit Charlotte with a crossbody for a one count.
Sasha took it to Charlotte at ringside and threw her over the ringside barricade and into the crowd. Charlotte came right back and took control, reversing Sasha into the barricade. Charlotte chopped Sasha in the crowd among fans in the front rows. The ref counted both out.
WINNER: Double Countout in 4:00 so Charlotte retained the Women’s Title.
-Foley’s music played and he walked out. He said he won’t let this match and this rivalry to end like this. He said they’ve transcended the Women’s Division and even WWE and it deserves to end in a better fashion than by countout, especially in light of what Smackdown has been putting together for TLC. He said later tonight this match will re-start, and it’ll be a no countout, no DQ, falls count anywhere contest. Sasha was happy, but Charlotte looked peeved.
(Keller’s Reax: Good set-up and teaser for later in the show. It would have been a big letdown if the match ended in a DCO after four minutes. It’s good to have a G.M. figure making good decisions instead of evil decisions on behalf of the fans.)
-Cole hyped his sitdown interview with Heyman and said Heyman broke down and cried. [c]
-Lana stood mid-ring to introduce Rusev. She asked fans to stand up and put their hands on their hearts and welcome the one and only true American hero, the only man who can have her. Cole said this rivalry got started when Enzo got caught with his pants down. They replayed what happened last week backstage. Graves said Enzo got what he deserves because he disrespected the Bulgarian Brute and his wife. Saxton said Rusev might be overreacting a bit. Enzo said last week was the luckiest day in his wife’s life “because she got to see the realist guy in the room in his realist form, and now she knows how I’m doing.” He said it’s likely Rusev and Lana enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner. Cass interrupted to ask what they ate, such as various types of potatoes, corn, pie, and turkey. They interjected a bunch of “how’a’ya’doin’.” Enzo said the whole time Lana, unbeknownst to everyone else, was thinking of “a Certified G stuffing her turkey.”
(Keller’s Reax: Not sure how any of this makes Enzo the good guy and Rusev the bad guy. I was pretty ready for Rusev to kick Enzo’s ass after that unwarranted display of disrespect.)
(4) RUSEV vs. ENZO AMORE (w/Big Cass)
Cole took sides with Rusev, saying Enzo insulted Rusev’s wife again, so what does he expect to happen. Rusev kicked Enzo between his legs. The ref DQ’d Rusev. Cass ran in, Rusev bailed out. He yelled: “You will never talk about my wife!”
WINNER: Enzo via DQ in 30 seconds.
-They showed Rich Swann dancing his way toward the entrance stage, fist bumping a very white guy in a suit who seemed a bit smitten by his outfit and dancing.
-A Smackdown commercial hyped The Ambrose Asylum featuring James Ellsworth, plus American Alpha vs. Randy Orton & Bray Wyatt. [c]
-In a backstage interview with Mark Henry, they showed a clip of him in the WWE Studio’s movie “Incarnate” which opens in theaters this Friday. The clip showed Henry in a dark club getting beaten up by a guy in a suit. Back live, as Henry talked about the movie, Titus O’Neal walked in and said that was supposed to be his movie, but Henry stole it from him. Henry tried to leave. Titus grabbed him by his arm. Henry shoved him down and asked if he was out of his mind for putting his hand on him. Titus got up and brushed himself off.
-They went to the announcers who were joined by Brian Kendrick.
(5) RICH SWANN vs. NOAM DAR
Kendrick snapped at Saxton being critical of him and his attitude. Kendrick admitted he’s under a lot of stress headed into “205 Live.” Swan won with a hook kick to the head.
WINNER: Swann in 3:00.
-Graves interviewed Swann about challenging Kendrick for the title on “205 Live” tomorrow night. Swan took the mic away from Graves and then called out Kendrick. “Is that the Brian Kendrick eye spy in my eye?” he asked. He asked if he was playing mind games or trying to get in his head. He said Kendrick is doubting himself because he already beat him twice. He made weird laughing noises as he repeated himself. Then he said it’ll be sweeter when he beats him on “205 Live” because he’ll be coming home the WWE Cruiserweight Champion “because you can’t handle this.” He laughed and danced.
-Cole again plugged his interview with Heyman later. [c]
-The announcers commented over a video recap of the feud with Sheamus & Cesaro and New Day. Then they went to Sheamus at a bar. Cesaro joined Sheamus. Cesaro said he wanted to celebrate them never having to team again. He said as close as they came last week to winning the titles, it would never work because they’re just too different. They began to argue again, taking offense at each other’s comments about the other. They calmed down and began to celebrate that they managed to win Survivor Series even though they don’t even get along. Sheamus said teaming with him is his best chance to win the tag team titles, but he just can’t stand him. A guy walked up to Sheamus and began making fun of his hair and how he got his “arse” kicked last week. Sheamus stood up. Cesaro told him to calm down and be professional. Another guy walked up and started insulting Cesaro. They cut to crowd shots of people laughing in the bar. There were apparently four cameras there in the bar. The second guy burped and blew it into Cesaro’s face. Sheamus told him to stay professional. Cesaro said maybe they should leave. Instead, they attacked the two wise-ass guys. Cameras everywhere caught the action from all kinds of angles. Sheamus leaped behind the bar and declared it “Open bar!” They toasted each other and seemed to bond over the victorious bar fight.
(Keller’s Reax: Besides the whole orchestrated aspect of how the whole thing was filmed like a movie, which doesn’t fit the pro wrestling narrative structure at all, the overacting by the patrons of the bar laughing made it even worse.)
(6) KEVIN OWENS vs. ROMAN REIGNS
Owens took early advantage. They fought at ringside briefly. Back in the ring Owens landed a senton splash for a two count. They cut to a break at 4:00. [c]
Back live, Roman began a comeback with a flurry of offense met by a mix of cheers and boos. Owens took advantage of Reigns slowing himself down when the ref was in his path. He landed a DDT and scored a two count.
Owens settled into a nearly four minute chinlock. Curious strategy for the very start of the third hour. When Owens climbed to the top rope, Reigns knocked him off balance. Reigns then gave Owens a Superman Punch, knocking him to the floor. Reigns leaped off the ringside steps and hit Owens again with a flying Superman Punch. Reigns threw Owens into the ring, then set up his Spear with his robotic routine of gestures, then hit the Spear for the win.
WINNER: Reigns in 17:00 to earn a Universal Title shot.
(Keller’s Reax: A bit of a predictable win for Reigns since it became clear they were setting up a PPV main event and set the stage with Owens saying he can win without Jericho. Okay match. Still a little baffled at the nearly four minute chinlock to start the third hour mid-match. Curious to see if Reigns gets the Universal Title as some sort of place-setting shift for what Vince McMahon has in mind for early 2017. This is giving off that vibe.)
@thewadekeller Not sure about how it sounded on TV, but there was a huge pop in the arena after Reigns won.
— Matthew C. Graham (@mcg82688) November 29, 2016
-The announcers gave a hard-sell for WWE Network on camera. Then they hyped the WWE Raw Tag Team Title match coming up later. [c]
-The interviewer approached a despondent Owens backstage. He asked if she is really trying to talk to him, calling her a heartless robot. He said his best friend was attacked by Seth and that’s all he could think about when he was in the ring. He said he felt he should have been by Jericho’s side as he was taken to a hospital. Owens said Foley should have cancelled the match knowing how he’d be affected by Jericho being attacked. He told her that she should have brought her a water bottle.
-They went to the announcers on camera again. Cole threw to his interview with Heyman. A video package aired first on the Lesnar-Goldberg Survivor Series match.
-Cole asked Heyman in a sitdown style prerecorded interview, “What happened?” Heyman said that’s the million dollar question. “We screwed up,” he said. “There’s no getting around that. We took Goldberg lightly.” He said it was a “f—ing video game and this guy’s a relic who hasn’t stepped foot in the ring for 12 years and he steps into the ring with Brock Lesnar, the conquerer, the beast. We thought this would have been the easiest payday of Brock’s career.” He wiped away tears. He said right out of the gate, Goldberg speared Brock and cracked his ribs. He said if you can’t breath, you can’t fight. Cole asked him how Brock is dealing with all of this. “Like you care?” said Heyman. Heyman said injuries happen in this business and that’s an accepted part of it. “But the humiliation, the embarrassment, there’s no excuses we can offer here. This goes into history. People can watch this for the next hundred years. This goes in the record book. This goes into Brock Lesnar’s legacy. He’s dealt with losses before. He’s been through ups and downs, but this is embarrassing, and it has put Brock in the mindset that he has something to prove, which scares me because that moment can define you, it can destroy you, or it can drive you to greater heights than you’ve ever achieved before – and think about what a Brock Lesnar with something to prove is going to be capable of. I don’t think we’ve ever seen this side of Brock Lesnar before.” Cole asked what is next for Lesnar. Heyman said he’ll prove what he has to prove. He said now that Goldberg is in the Royal Rumble match, Lesnar is in it, too. “And there’s only going to be room for one winner, one conquerer, and 28 losers, and 1 victim. And that victim’s name is Goldberg.”
(Keller’s Reax: Another brilliant promo in terms of content and delivery. Pro wrestling is so much better when it’s framed as a sport with athletes reacting to wins and losses, rather than cheesy bar fights filmed from five camera angles with overacting patrons.)
-The New Day made their ring entrance. [c]
-The New Day were in the ring after the break. They talked about breaking the Demolition tag team record. Kofi Kingston was interrupted by The Club’s music. Graves said, “Thank god!”
(7) THE NEW DAY (Xavier Woods & Big E w/Kofi Kingston) vs. THE CLUB (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows)
The Club dominated for the first couple minutes. [c]
The Club continued to completely dominate for several minutes after the break. Big E speared Anderson off the ring apron with a spear through the ropes to the floor. Anderson came right back with a spinebuster 30 seconds later and wasn’t selling the move anymore, which is pretty ridiculous. Anderson and Gallows continued to dominate. Xavier hit Anderson with a discus elbow to the head. When Anderson fired back with an uppercut and roll-up with a handful of tights, Xavier reversed it and scored the pin with a yank of Anderson’s tights.
WINNERS: The New Day to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles in 9:00.
(Keller’s Reax: One of those matches that was so one-sided, it totally gave away that New Day were winning, the theory being it adds to the “surprise” and “protects” the losers if they dominate offense before losing.)
-In the women’s locker room, Bayley wished Sasha luck. Sasha said Charlotte has disrespected her over and over, and her father too. She said this town needs a champion and a celebration. She said she was dedicating her win to Ric Flair himself from Charlotte, N.C. [c]
(8) CHARLOTTE vs. SASHA BANKS – WWE Women’s Championship match – No DQ, No Countout, Falls Count Anywhere
Lots of “wooos!” but not a big babyface pop for Charlotte. The second ring entrance in one night is always tougher to get a response for, which is why they strategically try to avoid it as often as possible. They fought at ringside early, and with the no countout rule, the ref didn’t count. They cut to a break after they clotheslined each other simultaneously at ringside. [c]
Charlotte kicked Sasha off the ring apron to the floor, then scored a two count at ringside. Sasha came back with shots with a kendo stick at ringside. Charlotte tried to yank it away from her, but just kicked her instead. A “E-C-Dub” chant broke out.
Charlotte suplexed Sasha, but she landed on her feet. Charlotte countered that with a neckbreaker. “This is awesome!” broke out. They fought their way up to the stage. Charlotte threw Sasha on the announce table, then shoved her to the floor. Charlotte stood on the table and went for a moonsault flip onto Sasha below for a two count. They fought back at ringside where Sasha drove Charlotte into the ring barrier, then backdropped her on the mat at ringside. Sasha leaped off the ringside barrier with a double knee and scored a two count. They fought into the bleachers where Sasha bent Charlotte backwards with a Bank Statement while she was stuck in the handrail barrier on the steps.
WINNER: Sasha at 16:30 to capture the Women’s Championship.
-As Sasha celebrated in the ring, Ric Flair came out and raised her arm and hugged her.