The following was published five years ago this week…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MARCH 4, 2013
BUFFALO, N.Y. AT FIRST NIAGARA CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
-They opened with the old style WWF show-intro with the old gold shiny logo minus the “F.”
-Then Undertaker’s entrance music played and he walked onto the stage. He wore an elaborate outfit including with a hood, but you could see his face.
-Gene Okerlund introduced Raw: “Tonight WWE goes old school.” They showed clips of the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, the New Age Outlaws, Honky Tonk Man, Ric Flair, Sgt. Slaughter, Dusty Rhodes, and Mae Young.
-The original Raw theme song played with a video that included those “old school” stars plus Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, John Cena, Ryback, and other current stars. Yes, the siren blared, too.
-Relatively weak pyro blasted from the rafters above the scoreboard, as they did back in the day. Then they went to Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler at ringside on the “old school” tablecloth covered folding table. Lawler was in his old King outfit. Cole had the old sports jacket on. Cole asked, “Is Undertaker coming back in five weeks at WrestleMania?”
-C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman made their ring entrance. Punk said he should be headlining this year’s WrestleMania, but he’s not. He said it’s not because of anything he did or didn’t do, but rather it’s the fault of the fans. His rationalization was that they didn’t appreciate his long reign as WWE Champion. He said there’s no point in his being at WrestleMania if he’s not defending the WWE Title. He said, though, after seeing Undertaker, he has a purpose now. He said to get back at the fans by stealing from them the Undertaker streak. He said they roll their eyes at his 438 day title reign, “the longest in decades,” yet they cherish the 20-0 streak for Taker. He challenged Undertaker and said he will make Undertaker 20-1.
(Quotebook – C.M. Punk: “And that 1 is drug-free, that 1 is alcohol-free, that 1 is straight-edge, that 1 is the best in the world. His name is C.M. Punk and he stands before you today.”)
Randy Orton walked out and said he faced Undertaker when he was a rookie eight years ago and he came very close to victory. He also noted that he’s already defeated Punk at WrestleMania. He said he’s not a rookie anymore, he’s the most dangerous man in that locker room. He asked the fans who they’d rather see face Taker at WM29. Orton entered the ring and said Punk’s name. The crowd mostly booed. He said his name. The crowd mostly cheered.
(WK Reax: That was risky given Punk’s popularity with a certain sizable percentage of WWE fans. But it went pretty well.)
Big Show walked out next. Show said he also faced Undertaker before, and he lost, but back then he didn’t have the KO punch. He smiled and entered the ring. He said you have to be more than Viper or more than Straight Edge to beat Taker, you need to be a giant. “This giant is going to knock that 20 and 0 Undertaker streak right into oblivion.”
Sheamus then walked out. He said he’s never faced Undertaker and he wants the match. He said to beat Taker it’s going to take a Brogue Kick.
Vickie Guerrero walked out, said “excuse me!” and then she has booked a Fatal Four-way later in the show, winner faces Taker at Raw.
-Cole and Lawler reacted to that news, then hyped that Triple H would address the Brock Lesnar situation last week, plus John Cena and The Rock would engage in a “Point-Counterpoint” discussion. They showed Ryback backstage heading to the entrance tunnel on his way to face Antonio Cesaro.
-WWE Fact: Last Monday, for the fifth week in a row, Raw was the most socially active show on TV.
-Cole and Lawler encouraged fans to post on Tout whom they think should face Taker at WM29.
(1) Ryback pinned Antonio Cesaro in 9:00. Cesaro was already in the ring after the break as Justin Roberts introduced him. An old-school style inset interview aired where he bragged about speaking five languages. Then Ryback got his full ring entrance. After absorbing two immediate dropkicks after the bell, Ryback overpowered Cesaro including some chops in the corner. Cesaro rolled to the floor after an early powerslam. Back in the ring Cesaro head-butted Ryback and took over with some kicks and punches. Cole said Cesaro bragged to him that he sewed his own tights. When Cesaro went to the top rope, Ryback pressed him into the air and walked to center ring, then dropped him. He clotheslined Ryback over the top rope to the floor at 3:00.
After Ryback chased Cesaro around ringside, Cesaro rammed Ryback into the ringpost, then he gave him a running big boot, knocking him into the barrier at ringside. The ringside barrier’s are “old school,” too. Cesaro mounted Ryback in the ring and punched him. They cut to a break at 4:00. [c]
Cesaro had Ryback in a sleeper after the break mid-ring.
(WK Reax: If this was truly an Old School Raw, the sleeper would be a feared finishing move, not a resthold during a commercial.)
Ryback made a comeback in 8:00. Ryback played to the crowd as they chanted “Feed Me More!” Cesaro caught him as Ryback charged with his signature uppercut. Cesaro then set up the Neutralizer, but Ryback countered into the Shellshock for the win.
(WK Reax: Good, competitive match. It’s good that Ryback can get through a match where he wins strong, but his opponent gets in some credible offense.)
As Ryback returned to the back, Mark Henry walked out and met him on the stage. Lawler said it was an irresistible force meeting the immovable object. They stared at each other as Henry walked by him.
(2) Mark Henry pinned Zack Ryder in 1:00. Cole noted that Ryder has complained to everyone who will listen that he’s not on WrestleMania yet. He said a win over Henry would put his name in the mix. They showed Twitter messages including Shawn Michaels saying he needs to see a mullet tonight or he’ll riot. Henry won with a powerslam quickly and easily.
-They showed Dolph Ziggler, Big E. Langston, and A.J. Lee heading toward the entrance tunnel.
-A Fandango vignette aired. It said he premieres tonight on Raw. [c]
(3) The Miz pinned Dolph Ziggler (w/Big E., A.J.). Before the match Miz said he’d like to introduce an old school guest, someone who transcends old school into new school, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
(WK Reax: This whole Miz/Flair alliance is so strange and ill-fitting. Are they setting up another Miz heel turn because they realize the face run is bombing? Or does Flair turn heel on Miz and join Ziggler down the line?)
Flair walked out and let out some woo’s. He strutted on the ring apron. Ziggler mocked Flair with a strut in the ring after getting in some blows on Miz including a chop. Miz fired back and knocked Ziggler to the floor. Flair celebrated with a strut at ringside, then he strutted on the ring apron as Miz strutted in the ring. [c]
Back from the break, they showed a clip from during the break of Ziggler dropkicking Miz. Back live Ziggler did a headstand while having Miz in a headlock mid-ring. He yelled, “All day long!” as he cinched on the headlock.
(Quotebook – Jerry Lawler on A.J. Lee: “I tried talking to her today. I must’ve made her angry about those pet names they call each other. She hit me with a coffee cup. I was mugged!”)
When Miz rallied at 9:00, Big E. punched Miz as A.J. distracted the ref. Flair then threw his suit jacket over Big E. and threw chops. Big E. brushed them off. Flair begged off. Miz dropkicked Big E. through the ropes. Ziggler immediately rolled up Miz for a believable near fall. Miz countered a dropkick attempt into a figure-four leg lock and Ziggler tapped out seconds later. The crowd popped. Flair began hip thrusting toward fans in the crowd. They immediately cut away from that view. They went back to Flair and Miz hugging, then strutting. Flair then did his face-first bump and phantom elbow. Miz did the elbowdrop, too.
-They went to Cole and Lawler at ringside. Lawler called the main event “probably the biggest main event ever in the history of Raw here tonight.” Cole plugged Tout again, then the latest WWE Magazine with three collectors’ covers with John Cena, The Rock, and Brock Lesnar. [c]
-The Rock’s full ring entrance took place. He carried the new WWE Title belt with him. He said he just flew in from Panama, where it’s 95 degrees every single day. He said he knew he was coming to Raw, and he was excited as he packed his bags including “his boots to asses boots.” He said the woman at the airport asked if he needed a jacket. He said it doesn’t matter what her name is, The Rock doesn’t need a jacket because he has electricity shooting through his body, enough to melt an iceberg.
He said he flew to Buffalo and stepped out of the plane and said, “Sweet Harlem Shakin’ Honey Boo Boo, it’s cold here!” The crowd cheered. He said it’s so cold, he looked down and “saw icicles forming on The People’s nipples.” He said as soon as the cold air met his face, it meant one thing – that after ten long years, finally The Rock has come back to Buffalo. The crowd popped and chanted “Rocky! Rocky!” He said he circled this date because it meant they are 34 days away from WrestleMania. Cena’s music interrupted as Rock gazed up at the WM logo. Lawler said, “You don’t interrupt The Rock.”
Cena was booed and cheered, as usual. He apologized for interrupting, but said he had to come out right this second. He said he’s been waiting for this moment for a year, but Rock doesn’t even know why. He said he can’t know why because he is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who conquered WWE during the Attitude Era, conquered Hollywood, and came back to WWE and conquered it again. “You don’t fail at anything in life, so you don’t know what it feels like to tell the world that you have to do something, and then fail.”
He said it made him feel worthless to fail at his promise. The crowd chanted “Cena sucks.” He said it makes you feel weak and want to crawl into a hole and go away. He said that loss sent his life into a tailspin. He said this year he has a chance at redemption, a chance to rewrite history. He said it’s more than a match to him. He said he has been gifted a second chance to right the biggest wrong of his life.
Rock said he’s thrilled that Cena is showing that kind of drive and passion. He said there was only one man he wanted to face at WrestleMania because he knows what that match means to him. He said the only person to whom the match at WrestleMania matters more is him. He said as much as it matters to Cena, it means so much more to him. He said when his music hits, walks down the ramp, and he steps into the ring and connects with every person in the arena, it matters to him.
(Quotebook – The Rock: “You get something straight right now. In 34 days at WrestleMania, you ain’t getting redemption, you’re getting your ass kicked.”)
Cena quoted Mike Tyson, “one of the great philosophers of this era.” He said once he said, “I’m gonna eat his children.” He said that’s sad because he is also responsible for one of the best quotes he ever heard. He said in his prime, Tyson said in order to be the greatest that ever lived you have to beat everyone living. He said he’s accomplished every goal and jumped every road block except for The Rock. He said history will not repeat itself because he makes history. He said, “My time is now.”
Rock said, “No no no. Rock’s time is just getting started.” He said he can quote a famous athlete, too. He said, “Winning is about heart. You just gotta have it in the right place.” He added, “The man who said that quote. Lance Armstrong. He was full of crap, and so are you.” Cena laughed. A chant of “Rocky! Rocky!” broke out.
(WK Reax: I’m not sure WWE wants to be in the business of referencing a hero who took steroids and denied it publicly.)
Cena said at WM29 he will become WWE Champion. Rock said he crystalized everything that is Rock and Cena. He said that’s the biggest difference between them: “You think you can beat me, I know I can beat you.” He said at WM29 he will beat him again. He leaned in and stared at him. Cena looked away. Rock added, calmly and deliberately: “…if you smell what The Rock is cookin’.”
(WK Reax: This is precisely the promo I pushed for last year during the worked-shoot stuff with legit attempts to trip each other up and show each other up and demean each other. This celebrated both athletes, positioned them as the biggest two stars of the last two eras, and made the match at WM29 about winning and losing, with both saying winning means everything to them. Great launching point for the re-match.)
-The announcers again hyped the main event four-way. [c]
-Cole and Lawler threw to a clip of Undertaker showing up at the start of the first hour. Cole also said someone Tweeted that he looks like a mustard bottle in his sports jacket.
(3) “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (w/Sgt. Slaughter, Dusty Rhodes) vs. Jack Swagger ended with no announced decision after a minute.
(Quotebook – Jerry Lawler: “Look at the American Dream, he’s aging almost as well as Keith Richards.”)
Swagger bailed out to ringside in the opening seconds. Cole asked why he doesn’t fight like a Real American. Swagger brought a two-by-four into the ring. He jabbed Duggan with it twice. When Sarge and Dusty ran in, Swagger hit them, too. Swagger then put Duggan in the Patriot Lock.
-At ringside, Cole and Lawler threw to a trailer for The Miz in “The Marine 3.” [c]
-As Zeb Colter celebrated that Swagger took out three legends, Josh Mathews asked Swagger backstage how he dared disrespect three legends who paved the way for him. As Swagger asked what they’ve ever done, Alberto Del Rio attacked Swagger from behind. Ricardo tried to hold back Del Rio. Swagger and Del Rio were separated by security almost immediately. Ricardo threw out some fighting words in protest, too.
(4) Team Hell No (Kane & Daniel Bryan) beat The Prime Time Players (Titus O’Neil & Darren Young) in 3:00. Ted DiBiase was at ringside. Cole said during the break the Players told DiBiase he should manage them because they are all about millions of dollars. DiBiase said if they could beat Team Hell No, he’d think about it.
(Quotebook – Jerry Lawler on Titus O’Neil’s dog bark: “If I had a dog that barked like that, I’d take him right to the vet.”)
In the end, Bryan took Titus out with a diving knee off the ring apron. Kane then caught Young flying off the ring apron and chokeslammed him for the win. After the match, DiBiase stuffed a hundred dollar bill into the mouth of Young. Bryan began his walk to the back, but stopped and returned to the ring to take the $100 out of Young’s mouth and stuff it into his waistband.
-They showed the back of Honky Tonk Man backstage warning up. [c]
(5) Brodus Clay & Sweet T beat Drew McIntyre & Health Slater (w/Jinder Mahal) in 1:00. Brodus Clay danced his way to the ring along with his dancers and Tensai, who they’re now calling Sweet T. Cole said they’re still looking for a team name. Tensai is now dressed fully like Brodus, but he paced behind Clay as Clay danced during the ring entrance. Justin Roberts then introduced HTM who walked to the ring with his guitar. Cole said it was in this city that HTM beat Ricky Steamboat to capture the IC Title, which he held for a record 454 days before losing it to Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam.
As HTM was about to speak mid-ring, Health Slater yanked the mic away from him. He said they are the rock stars of WWE and he told him to go back to Las Vegas with all the other Elvis impersonators. HTM hung his head and just walked out of the ring. Drew threw his headband and did a hip thrust aimed at HTM. Tensai then schoolboyed Drew for the sudden win.
Clay danced and Sweet T joined him. HTM entered the ring and told everyone to stop because he wanted center stage. His music played and he began the shake, rattle, and roll. When Slater entered the ring and interrupted, HTM nailed him over the head with his guitar, shattering it.
(WK Reax: In 15 years, there might be another throwback episode of Raw, and Brodus Clay will be doing his thing with the latest dancing “sports entertainer.”)
-Lawler excitedly said Fandango would debut against Kofi Kingston next. He said it feels like he’s been waiting forever. A Fandango vignette aired.
-Cole threw to footage of Wade Barrett at the premiere of the latest WWE Film, “Dead Man Down.”
-The end of Kofi Kingston’s ring entrance was shown. Then Fandango’s female dance partner made her way onto the stage. Fandango then walked onto the stage and joined her. He said, “No, no, no. That is inappropriate.” He chastised Justin Roberts for not pronouncing his name correctly. Justin tried again. Fandango told him he had to let the A’s breathe and feel it. Justin tried again. Fandango wasn’t pleased. He said he would not stand there and let him butcher his name. He said tonight will be the night everybody remembers because tonight was the night that they almost got to see his debut. He repeated his name, then left the stage.
-Lawler was greatly disappointed and blamed Justin. Cole hyped that Triple H was up next. [c]
-WWE Fact: WWE holds ten of the top ten DVD sellers led by “Best of Monday Nitro, pt. 2.”
-A video package aired on the Vince McMahon-Paul Heyman segment last week with Brock Lesnar and Triple H. They went into black and white when Lesnar bled.
-Triple H’s ring entrance took place. He looked angry. Lawler said he looks better than ever. Cole said he put 18 staples into the head of Lesnar last week.
(WK Reax: Wait, shouldn’t a doctor have done that?)
He said the last time he stood in the ring with a mic in his hand was eight days after SummerSlam, eight days after getting beaten by Lesnar, eight days after having his arm broken by Lesnar for the second time in two months. He said he got all emotional and choked up and thought it might be over. He said the second the cast was off, he was training in the gym, busting his ass, but with no real goal in mind. He said he was doing his day job as the COO wearing a suit. “I even cut my hair,” he said. He said a few months later he found himself in the best shape he had been in in years and was just waiting for a reason to return.
He said he found himself sitting next to an old man who just had hip surgery. He said if you put aside that that old man created it all and is the reason they were there, and that his daughter and his wife was crying next to him in that bed, and that his grandkids sat there at ringside crying, he found himself smiling inside. He said he was just waiting for an opportunity. He said when McMahon challenged Heyman to a fight, and Lesnar showed up, “I was ready.” He said if he thought for a second they were done after their fight at Summerslam, reach up and touch those twelve staples and realize we were just getting started.
He said it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why he’s standing in the ring. He said it’s five weeks before the big dance. “Here we go, Brock, I’m calling you out,” he said. “I’m back. The ass-kicker is back. The King of Kings is back. The Game is back. And he’s calling you out for WrestleMania. So what’s it going to be, Brock? Are you going to show up at WrestleMania and fight? Or are you just gonna sit there and bleed.” He dropped the mic and walked out.
(WK Reax: Very good promo both in content and delivery. He told a believable story that bridged his virtual retirement and his return. He didn’t try to be overly cute. He cut a promo that someone would cut if everything that happened in the past between him and Brock, and Brock and his father-in-law, were real life. It’s sometimes that’s simple.)
-A commercial aired starring Sheamus pitching the new Bret Hart DVD coming out tomorrow. [c]
-Cole and Lawler talked about last Friday’s Smackdown being the most socially active in history.
-A pre-taped promo aired with The Shield. Dean Ambrose said it appears everyone wants to make history because it’s that time of year. He said everyone is throwing their hat into the ring to face Undertaker at WrestleMania. He congratulated Sheamus and Orton for their aspirations, “but we can’t help but feel that maybe you’re forgetting something.” Rollins said Taker’s 20-0 record at WrestleMania is impressive, but others have an impressive winning streak going. Ambrose’s facial expression right here was priceless. Rollins wished them luck in their match tonight. Ambrose said no one can beat them. Roman Reigns said, “Believe in the Shield.”
(WK Reax: Good stuff, and the production effects they add are such a big part of bringing it all together. Not just any three guys could be effective even with special effects, but the effects definitely enhance the whole act.)
(6) Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) beat Wade Barrett in 5:00 via submission. Early in the match Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter walked onto the ramp as Del Rio took it to Barrett early. Barrett countered at 1:00 with a swinging side suplex for a two count. They fought back and forth at a rapid pace. At 4:00 Del Rio ducked a clothesline, landed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, and then kicked Barrett as got to his knees. That was good for a two count. Del Rio then charged the corner, but Barrett moved and kicked Del Rio in the face. He set up a pump-handle slam, but Del Rio escaped and applied the cross armbreaker for the win. Del Rio looked back at Swagger afterward.
(WK Reax: Good TV match in certain ways, but there’s still something style-wise about Del Rio, despite an obvious concerted effort, that isn’t fully clicking right now as a top-level babyface.) [c]
-A pre-taped interview aired with Zeb and Swagger. Zeb said there has been a backlash to some of his recent comments. Swagger said: “Remember when Freedom of Speech actually meant something.” Zeb said he remembered a time if someone came into your house and took something, you weren’t prejudiced by calling them a thief. Swagger said, “That’s what being a Real American is all about.” Zeb said he’s a real American because he calls out people for their actions without worrying about politically correct language “because they don’t deserve it.” Swagger added, “You don’t!” Zeb said if you want respect, the best thing anyone can do is respect their laws. Until then, though, people like him will point their finger and call them out. Zeb said in Jack Swagger’s America, there will always be a group of Americans willing to stand up and defend everything their forefathers stood for.
-“Road Dogg” Jesse James & “Badd Ass” Billy Gunn walked out. James did mic work all the way into the ring. He asked Buffalo if they were ready. He then introduced themselves as the New Age Outlaws. Gunn then said. “And of course, if you’re not down with that, we got two words for ya’!” The crowd yelled, “Suck it!”
(7) The New Age Outlaws beat Epico & Primo (w/Rosa Mendez) in 3:00. Cole said this is the Outlaws’s first match on Raw in 13 years. He talked about what brought the Outlaws together in the late 1990s. Lawler said Cole is reminding him of J.R. with all of his statistics.
(Quotebook – Jerry Lawler: “Would this really be old school if I didn’t say ‘puppies!’ at least one time”)
Cole said imagine if there was Twitter in the Attitude Era. Billy won with the Fameasser. Gunn and Road Dogg seemed genuinely emotional after the match as they embraced.
-Cole threw to a highlight package of the Rock-Cena promo earlier in the night.
-Cole plugged Stephanie McMahon’s Twitter account. [c]
-WWE Fact: John Cena has more Facebook fans than any athlete from MLB, NHL, UFC, PGA, NASCAR, and the NFL.
(WK Reax: So, who in the NBA has more followers?)
-Cole threw to Tout videos of fans talking about Undertaker at WrestleMania.
-They cut to a table full of birthday cakes surrounded by WWE wrestlers including Henry. Gene Okerund came out to host the segment celebrating Mae Young turning 90. Okerlund introduced her as the oldest living member of the WWE Hall of Fame.
(WK Reax: I’m not sure how I’d feel about being introduced as the “oldest living” anything.)
The wrestlers sang Happy Birthday to her, but it was interrupted by Punk’s music. He and Heyman walked right through the party gathering. Punk circled the ring with his arms out and played to the crowd as Lawler criticized him for interrupting Mae’s party. [c]
-The WrestleMania 29 video aired with the countdown at “34 Days Away.”
-Back in the ring Punk and Heyman talked as Punk’s music finished and The Big Show came out. Then Randy Orton and Sheamus.
(8) C.M. Punk beat Randy Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show in a Fatal Four-Way in 12:00 to earn a match against Undertaker at WrestleMania.
The bell rang with 10 minutes left in the third hour. Punk slid out of the ring right she the bell range. Lawler said it was a good strategy. Orton and Sheamus dropped to ringside and forced Punk back into the ring where Big Show head-butted him. Orton dropped Show throat-first over the top rope. Everyone ended up at ringside a minute in. Orton shoved Show into the ring post and re-entered the ring. Sheamus and Orton then squared off with Punk and Show at ringside. Punk tried to steal a pin on Sheamus after Orton gave Sheamus a backbreaker. Sheamus and Orton beat up Punk and threw him to the floor. Show entered the ring and took Orton and Sheamus down with open handed slaps. They cut to a break at 3:00. [c]
Punk and Orton battled in the ring after the break with Show and Sheamus KO’d at ringside. They showed a clip from during the brea of Orton giving Show a DDT off the top rope. Punk countered a similar attempt by Orton a minute later. Punk threw a barrage of knee lifts and elbows to Show. Show absorbed them and instantly surprised him with a KO punch. Punk went down and looked to be out. Show went after Sheamus next. He went for a corner swinging elbowdrop, but Sheamus moved.
Sheamus then gave Show his White Noise finisher for a near fall. Sheamus set up a Brogue Kick, but Orton charged in and gave him a powerslam for a two count. Show countered a Sheamus attempt at a Brogue Kick a minute later and chokeslammed him for a near fall. Sheamus finally landed the Brogue Kick as a counter to Show’s KO punch attempt at 12:00. Orton then surprised Sheamus with an RKO. Punk recovered and round kicked Orton in the head, delivered the Go to Sleep, and scored the pin.
(WK Reax: True, there was never much if any doubt Punk was winning this and facing Taker at WM29, but I like that they created a storyline where he had to earn it by beating three others who threw their hats into the ring, also.)
-As Punk celebrated, Undertaker’s bell sounded and he walked out again onto the stage as his music played. Lawler said, “There’s an old expression. Be careful what you wish for.” Cole called Taker awe-inspiring and legendary. He asked if it will be Punk who ends the Streak as the show came to a close.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS 5 YRS AGO FLASHBACK: 5 YRS AGO – WWE in Cleveland, Ohio: DiBiase, Sandow, Swagger, Cody, Barrett, Bryan, Big E, Bryan, Del Rio, Big Show, Orton, Paige, A.J. Lee