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The following report was published ten years ago this week at PWTorch.com…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JUNE 30, 2008
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.
-The show opened with Vince McMahon being nearly touched by falling apparatus from the Raw set last week, then being put in a neck brace and stretchered out while moaning and asking what happened.
-Shane McMahon addressed viewers at the start of the show. He said Vince McMahon may be a boisterous chairman of WWE, but he’s also a private person. He said therefore they would not be revealing details of his condition this week. He asked everyone involved with WWE “pull together in this time of uncertainty.” There was loud laughter from one fan cackling at the absurdity of the tone of everything, then the crowd began booing. They might as well milk this for a while, but they can’t overdo it or people will just lose interest.
-The Raw opening aired, then Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler introduced the show as the camera panned the crowd. They hyped that Chris Jericho would get a rematch for the IC Title against Kofi Kingston on the show.
-Jim Ross walked to a big ovation from his hometown crowd. He said he is proud to be embarking on a new journey over at Smackdown. The crowd booed a bit. He said he plans to take Smackdown places it’s never been and is ready to raise some hell. He said he’s looking forward to working with Mick Foley, “the Hardcore Legend.” He then addressed Jerry Lawler as his “older brother” and “driver” and “traveling buddy.” He thanked him for some wonderful years. He said being inducted into the Hall of Fame with him made it all the more special. He said his friend Cole is going to do a great job on Raw. The crowd booed again. They showed Cole laughing. Ross said he’s known Cole since he first arrived in WWE. He said he’s become a friend and always been good to him. He said he wanted the fans to give him an opportunity. More boos. Poor Michael. Ross then reminisced briefly about Mid-South Wrestling. He then talked about Vince McMahon. He closed with: “I hope you’ll load the wagon, you’ll get on the Sooner Scooter, and you’ll ride it to Friday Night Smackdown.” He said it’s great to be home and great to be on Raw and he’s looking forward to a new adventure. He said he’d be remiss if he didn’t encourage them to eat a little more BBQ. He was then interrupted by Edge and his Edgeheads, Zach Ryder and Curt Hawkins.
Edge walked out, taking complete command of the room instantly with his presence and heel posturing and posing. Lawler wondered what they were doing there since they’re not part of Raw. Lawler was disgusted with Edge interrupting his farewell address. I think Edge was rather polite to let Ross talk as long as he did before he interrupted. Edge said, “Your arrogance never ceases to amaze me! What makes you think anybody cares about you, the Sooner, or gives a damn about you at all.” He added sarcastically, “Hook ’em horns!” He said nobody cares about his relationship with Lawler or him. He called him “Barbeque Boy.” He said he can truly start his Hall of Fame career now by coming to “my show, Smackdown.” Ross stood there and took it. “Now you can start to call my future Hall of Fame career.” He told him to switch from “Stone Cold! Stone Cold! Stone Cold!” to “Edge wins! Edge wins! Edge win!” He told him to try it on for size. Ross threw the mic to the mat. Edge noted J.R. is actually speechless for once. Edge asked Hawkins and Ryder to escort J.R. out of the building. Ross walked out of the ring on his own. Edge said his farewell address is officially over. Edge displayed a big smile center-ring, then said he had an ulterior motive for being there.
Edge said he wanted to point out to all of the Raw viewers, “this supposed flagships show,” is missing a few things. He said Raw is missing a G.M., unlike Smackdown which has the best G.M. in the history of the industry. He called Vickie Guerrero the love of his life. He then bragged about banishing Undertaker from WWE. He said what Raw is missing most of all is a world champion. He said the Raw wrestlers such as John Cena and Shawn Michaels will never have a shot at his championship. He said they can challenge Triple H for the WWE Championship, but he wanted to make clear to them that unless it’s a draft show, they will never see him on Monday nights again. Although the entirety of this opening segment with Ross and Edge stretched a little too long (it ended 18 minutes into the hour), I still can’t believe they didn’t let Edge talk much at all during his early years in WWE. It makes you wonder what twentysomething mid-carder who never talks today is going to turn out to be a great promo guy in five or ten years.
Batista stepped out onto the stage just as Edge reached the stage. Batista chased him to ringside, then rammed his back into the ring apron and rammed him shoulder-first into the ringpost. Cole said Batista it outraged at Edge’s actions last night. They brawled into the crowd. Batista wouldn’t let Edge escape through the crowd. Back at ringside, Batista swung Edge into the ringside steps. He followed with a Batista Bomb. Batista’s music played. Batista walked to the back. Just then C.M. Punk ran to the ring with his Money in the Bank briefcase. He cashed it in.
1 — C.M. PUNK vs. EDGE – World Hvt. Title Match
As soon as the bell rang to start the match and Lilian Garcia made the introduction, Punk gave Edge his GTS to win the World Hvt. Title.
WINNER: Punk in about 8 seconds. I doubt in Punk’s dreams of some day holding that title belt on a WWE event, he thought he’d win it in less than ten seconds. Nevertheless, a major show of faith and a true signal that Vince McMahon is finally shaking things up and taking some chances. Collapsing ratings with the same old people on top creates a “nothing to lose” atmosphere, and WWE is in that mindset right now. If Batista’s going to turn heel soon, being a bad sport over Punk capitalizing on that situation he created and winning a title he fought much harder to try to win could be one of his motivations. It’s always been when heels clearly have a perspective that they believe makes them “right.”
2 — MICKIE JAMES vs. JILLIAN HALL
It’s practically another Night of Champions free on Raw, with a WWE Title change, an IC Title match scheduled, and Women’s Champ Mickie facing Jillian Hall here. Jillian sang her way to the ring. Lawler: “You know, she speaks five languages. She can’t sing in any of them.” Mickie tackled Jillian at the start and then head scissored her to the floor. Good intensity in the opening minute. Jillian came back to control the body of the match, such as it was for two minutes. Mickie kicked Jillian on a handspring elbow attempt, then spin kicked her to the jaw for the win. Mickie clutched her shoulder after her win, the area Jillian concentrated on. She kept shaking it out and seemed believably bothered by it. She kept looking at it as if she expected it to be visually dislocated.
WINNER: Mickie in 3:00.
-They showed Rey Mysterio backstage. Cole said if you hadn’t seen Rey before, you’re in for a treat.
-They showed Cole and Lawler at ringside. They talked about Punk winning the title, then talked about Rey being drafted to Raw. Lawler noted during a replay from last week how shocked Rey looked.
-Rey Mysterio walked out. He won’t be allowed to talk long. He never does. He congratulated Punk for his title win. Then he said last week he was shocked (read: disappointed) with being draft to Raw because Smackdown had been his life. The crowd booed – quite the pro-Raw partisan crowd tonight. Santino Marella interrupted him and said he was there to personally welcome him. He said any man who hides behind a mask is either incredibly ugly, incredibly stupid, or “is the Batman.” He said, “You sir are not the Batman.” He said he doesn’t understand his popularity. Rey tried to interrupt, but Santino wouldn’t let him. He then pointed to a big image of Rey on the cover of the latest WWE Magazine. “It looks like you’re saying, ‘Look at me, I’m Rey Mysterio, I’m more tall than the Hornwoggle, I like cookies, I’m Rey Mysterio.” Typed words don’t do justice to his delivery, including hilarious bungling Rey’s name. He then bragged about his photo in the magazine, which was Santino lying in bed in his black underwear holding a pink rose. Santino said if that was a poster, every man, woman, and child would buy it and paste it to the ceiling of their bedroom. He said there’s a reason he’s never been on Raw because Raw is where true superstars rise and shine. He said if he wants his experience on Raw to be a good one, he should mind his manners and behave because if he doesn’t, it could be very, very bad for him. He said he would now allow him to speak if he has something to say. He asked him to stay it in a language everyone can understand. Rey said, “Well, if you insist.” Then he hit Santino with the mic and gave him a 619. Lawler said it was the first 619 ever on Raw.
-Lawler plugged that an interview with Punk was up next.
-A commercial aired for the latest Ric Flair DVD, “Nature Boy Ric Flair – The Definitive Collection” featuring a biography, classic matches never on DVD, his retirement ceremony including backstage footage that never previously aired. He’s billed as someone some call the “most influential wrestler” of all-time. He can be called the greatest, since everyone knows that title has been cryogenically frozen for Triple H for future usage.
-Did You Know? WWE video games have sold more than 39 million copies worldwide this decade.
-Cole and Lawler were again shown on camera, breaking the record already for the amount of face time Ross ever got in one episode of Raw at ringside. They talked about Punk’s win earlier as clips aired.
-Grisham interviewed Punk backstage. He still seemed exhilarated. He said he had so much to do including taking that nameplate that says “Edge” off of the belt and putting his name on it. He said he has so many people to thank. He began by thanking Batista for his help (seed planted). He thanked his little sister and family and friends and fans. “I feel awesome!” He said he was almost speechless. JBL walked up and asked if he was joking. “You’re joking, right? You’re celebrating? You win a World Championship that’s been held by pillars of this industry by beating a defenseless man. Are you proud of that?” Punk said he’s He said he’s a fluke paper champion and didn’t really accomplish anything the way he won. He said he is proud to be a champion holding that title. JBL said he has a choice; he can go to bed a paper champion or he can step up and defend it tonight against him and find out how good he actually is by facing Greatness. Punk said, “You want to be the first one? My answer is yes.”
-John Cena walked out to his music as Lawler said there could be two World Title changes on one episode of Raw tonight. Cena said he’s a fan of surprises and classic moments. He said he told the “entire sports entertainment universe” that his match against Triple H at Night of Champions would be a classic moment. He acknowledged that he didn’t win the title last night. He said he was defeated by Triple H, “but it is a loss I take with pride because last night’s match proved one thing – that indeed we are the two best in the business and that very match will go down in history.” Yes, as a strong four-star main event, but not a classic or Match of the Year contender. He said fans will look back on this day and be able to say they were there when Punk cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase and became the new World Heavyweight Champion. He said he doesn’t know a lot about Punk, but he’s shown him a lot already. He’s used his brains to win the title and he’s already proven that he can use his guts to keep it. He said the kid is a fighter and he would have said yes to anyone. “It could have been JBL, Brooklyn Brawler, Kwang, Men on a Mission, Harvey Wippleman, Downtown Bruno, Abe Knuckleball Schwartz, Kim Chee, Kenny Dystra, Lenny Dystra, Maurey Povich, Sally Jesse Raphael, me.” He then paused and said, “Actually, that’s not too bad an idea.” He said Mr. McMahon isn’t there and Raw doesn’t have a G.M., so apparently the champion should be the one to choose. He addressed Punk via the camera. He said there’s probably a lot on his plate right now, so he’s going to give him help. He said the largest crowd ever assembled in Oklahoma City (cheap pop) will help him decide. He asked them if JBL should get a title shot. They booed. He asked if they should make history one more time and have Punk defend against Cena in his first defense. The crowd cheered. As he began to tell JBL to pack his bags, JBL’s music played and he walked out onto the stage.
JBL said he has a match against Punk, not him. He declared martial law in WWE. He said he cannot have him in the building as he wins the title. He called out security to escort Cena out. He said those six security guards were paid by him, not WWE. He said people who rule things rule with money, not crowd cheers. Security surrounded the ring, then entered from all sides. Cena tried to fight them off, but he was overwhelmed, beaten down, and dragged out. Cena kneed one of them in the head as they dragged him to the back, but eventually they picked up his legs. JBL then jumped Cena and took some cheap shots. They showed Cena tossed out of the building.
Okay, back to Cena’s promo. What decade did the person who wrote that last watch television or read a pop culture publication. Maury Pauvich? Sally Jesse? Seriously, there’s no context – not even when running down wrestlers from the early ’90s – that justifies making Cena sound as out of touch and dated as those references.
-A video package aired on Night of Champions hyping the encore presentation.
-A brief clip aired of of Cody Rhodes turning on Ted DiBiase the night before.
3 — CODY RHODES & TED DIBIASE vs. DARREN WADE & STEVE ANTHONY
This is getting ahead of myself, but DiBiase and Rhodes carry themselves a bit like Chris Adams and Gino Hernandez, one of my favorite heel tandems ever. If they aren’t, they should watch some old World Class clips of those two to add to their mannerisms as those two carried themselves so well as obnoxious, cocky, brash young heels. I’m also thrilled to see the tag champs get a squash match to show off their offense. It wasn’t until WCW Nitro that squash matches were eliminated for the most part from weekly TV. The latest generation of fans hate them, but really, they are a super-effective way to establish the offense and signature moves of new acts without having to worry about protecting the opponents.
WINNERS: Rhodes & DiBiase in 1:00.
-After the match, Cody grabbed the mic. He said fans want to konw why he did what he did to poor “Hardcore” Bob Holly. He said when you’re the son of Dusty Rhodes, you hear your whole life how to do things the right way, be patient, pay your dues, and all of that. He asked, “I took that advice; I applied that advice. Where did it get me? It got me carrying that damn baby boomer, Hardcore Holly, keeping what was left of his fledging worth-nothing areer alive.” He said he couldn’t even focus on himself. He said he is now matched with an opponent who is like him – young and dynamic. He said he is not a patient person. “When you’re this talented, you don’t pay dues,” he said. I love that line. Really good promo overall. DiBiase then took the mic and said the people of their generation don’t have the spine to do what they did. “They think they’re rebellious because they can upload a video on YouTube or they shop at Hot Topic, but in reality, the people in this country under the age of 30 are nothing but spoiled, obedient sheep.”
-Cole plugged Punk vs. JBL as the TV main event.
-Backstage Katie Lea told Paul Burchill she should be Women’s Champion right now. He said he will make sure that happens. He told her to remain backstage and not to get into trouble as he went to the ring. As soon as he left, Jamie Noble walked up to her. He introduced himself. Yeah, Noble’s getting to play his character that non-Smackdown viewers missed out on earlier this year. He said he was a big deal over on Smackdown. He said he’s going to earn his rep prison-rules style by walking up to the biggest, toughest man on the Raw roster and draw a line in the sand. She said that’s a good idea, so now is his chance. He turned around and there stood Kane. Noble walked up to his solar plexus. He said now that Mr. McMahon is out, there are no rules, so they’re equals. He told him that he doesn’t want him stealing his “Larry the Cable Guy” tapes out of his bag and listening to them or he’ll be in trouble. He told a knock knock joke: Kane… Kane who?… Kane you please make sure you stay out of my way before I got to knock you on your big red butt. Kane grabbed him by the throat. Noble escaped and ran away.
-They went back to Cole and Lawler. Cole said over at Smackdown, Noble had a bad habit of putting his foot in his mouth. Noble ran to ringside as if he were running from something. He tried to hide under Cole’s desk. Cole said, “Not here.” Noble hid at ringside and began to pray. Kane’s pryo blasted and he headed to the ring. Noble actually dove at Kane and tackled him to the floor. His advantage didn’t last long. Kane shoved him to the mat and kicked him as soon as they entered the ring. Noble bumped to the floor. Kane chokeslammed him on the announce table. Kane stood over him and let out his horror movie villain laugh.
-They showed Chris Jericho walking toward the entrance tunnel backstage. When they feature two main events in the last half hour, most often one of them ends up barely being a match. Which will it be, or is part of the revamping of Raw including changing up the format to strengthen the predictably bland quarter hour seven.
-Jericho said people are calling him “Y-2-Jaded.” He said why shouldn’t he be jaded. He said he was cheated out of his IC Title last night and the fans cheered for it. He said he has again been told Shawn Michaels isn’t in the building, but he was told that last night, but it was a lie. He said he can’t believe Michaels would be part of a lie. He said there’s more to his eye injury than Michaels is letting on. He said he has a serious problem with it. The fans began an “HBK” chant. He wondered why Michaels keeps attacking him at risk of his eyesight. He said it’s either to placate his ego or please his fans. He said the fans aren’t worth it. He challenged Michaels to a one-on-one match at the Great American Bash. He said Michaels took something away from him very important, so now he’s going to do the same in return. But first he’s going to take back his IC Title. Jericho’s mic work is just so spot on good right now for his character. He’s doing the best mic work of his career and some of the best on WWE in a long time.
4 — KOFI KINGSTON vs. CHRIS JERICHO (w/Lance Cade) — IC Title match
The match was joined in progress after the break. At 4:00, after some fast-paced action, the ref DQ’d Jericho for yanking on Kingston’s tights during a pin attempt. Jericho couldn’t believe it. Kofi held up the belt after the match, but Jericho came up behind and ripped into his eyes. Kofi covered his eyes in pain and writhed on the mat.
WINNER: Kingston in 4:00 via DQ to retain the IC Title.
-Lawler plugged Punk vs. JBL. “Oh, I hope it’s not a mistake,” he said regarding Punk giving JBL a title shot in his first night as champion.
-A commercial aired hyping that Mark Henry “shocked the world” at Night of Champions, and then hyped that someone could step up to make history tomorrow night on ECW and step up with a challenge.
-In the parking lot, Edge threw a fit at Hawkins and Ryder. He blamed them for Punk beating him and ordered them in the midst of a rage to drive him out of there.
-The beginning of JBL’s ring intro aired, then they cut to the final break of the show.
5 — C.M. PUNK vs. JBL – World Heavyweight Title match
Lilian Garcia introduced JBL in the ring. Then Punk’s ring intro took place. Lawler said he earned respect “for this young man” (Punk) for accepting the JBL challenge. He said he might have more guts than brains, though. JBL took early offense. He nailed him with a clothesline on the floor. Back in the ring he applied a sleeper. Lawler said even if Punk loses, he can at least say he was a world champion for a couple hours. Punk came back at 4:00 with a knee in the corner and a running bulldog for a two count. JBL reversed Punk against the ropes, but Punk ducked a clothesline. JBL fired right back with a fallaway slam for a two count. Punk then roundkicked JBL in the head and springboard clotheslined him to the mat for a two count. Cena and Cryme Tyme then walked out onto the stage. They charged the ring, but were stopped by JBL’s security staff. JBL was distracted by the brawl. Punk then surprised him with a GTS for the win.
WINNER: Punk in 5:00.
STAR RATING: *1/4 — Not a classic first title defense, but it served its purpose as a suitable TV main event that cemented Cena’s program with JBL and even threw Cryme Tyme into the mix while also giving Punk a successful title defense to – at least slightly – legitimize his title reign beyond the admittedly fluke nature of the win.
FINAL THOUGHT: One of the most newsworthy Raws since… well, last week. But really, I’d argue this was more newsworthy since it showed WWE is turning the page to a true new chapter. Yeah, Cena-JBL doesn’t feel totally fresh, but there’s a real feeling of change in the air.