SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The following report was published ten years ago this week on PWTorch.com…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JULY 14, 2008
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
-The show opened with clips of last week’s four-way main event to earn a shot against C.M. Punk at the Great American Bash, which Batista won, followed by Kane snapping and demanding to know if an unnamed person was alive or dead.
-Stephanie and Shane McMahon said they’ve urged WWE “Superstars” and employees work together during the father’s “recovery.” (He’s alive!) Shane said they’ve been physically unable to attend Raw lately due to their corporate responsibilities and dedication to their father, but if things don’t change, some actions will definitely be taken. Stephanie urged everyone to try one more time to work as one. She said have a great show. Shane said they’d be watching.
-They cut abruptly to an all-our brawl with Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho in the aisle of the arena. Lance Cade came out and pulled Jericho away from the beating Michaels was giving him at ringside. Jerry Lawler said Jericho deserved the beating.
-Michael Cole and Lawler were shown at ringside. Cole said, “What a way to kick off Raw!” Then Kane’s music played and he walked out as Cole looked on in fear. He and Lawler both cautiously stood as Kane approached. Cole stepped behind Lawler for safety. Lilian Garcia and other ringside officials fled once he made a move toward them. Kane carried a canvas sack. He leaned over the announce table and said to Cole and Lawler, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” He then walked away. Lawler said he can apologize all he wants, but something is wrong with him.
-They cut backstage to Michaels beating of Jericho again. They were quickly separated by officials.
1 — MICKIE JAMES vs. KATIE LEA (w/Paul Burchill)
Cole wondered what Stephanie meant when she said actions will be taken if things don’t change for the better on Raw. At 3:00 Katie applied a headlock that basically shoved Mickie’s face into her cleavage. It wasn’t subtle. Mickie came back to win with a Thesz Press. Cole said Mickie may have shocked people when she beat Beth Phoenix a few months ago, but she’s proven to be a great champion.
WINNER: Mickie in 4:00.
-Afterward, Burchill held Mickie from behind as Katie slapped and hit her. Kofi Kingston made the save. How will John Cena feel about that? Kofi called Burchill to be a man and come back to the ring to face him. As they cut to a break, Burchill appeared to be considering it.
2 — KOFI KINGSTON (w/Mickie James) vs. PAUL BURCHILL (w/Katie Lea)
The impromptu match was joined in progress. At 5:00 when Kofi went on a flurry, Katie tried to distract him. Mickie yanked her off the ring apron. Kofi then gave Burchill his finisher kick to the face for the win.
WINNER: Kingston in 5:00.
STAR RATING: *1/4 — Nice showcase for what Kofi can do, and Burchill held up his end of the match well.
-Santino Marella talked to Matt Striker backstage. He said he issued an open invitiation to anyone in the locker room. He said once he’d finished that person off, no one will remember what he did to Rey Maestro last week. Kane walked up and said, “Where is Punk.” Santino said, “Did you try the Pepsi machine?” (Ha! Get it. Punk has a Pepsi tattoo.) Santino pointed him to the locker room, then swigged several Tums.
-An ECW commercial aired hyping the reuniting “for one night only” (until next time) of the Hardy Boyz, challenging The Miz & John Morrison.
-Backstage Kane approached Punk. He said, “Deep down inside I know he’s dead.” Punk asked the question we all wanted him to ask. He asked who he was talking about. Kane didn’t answer. He asked him for a one-on-one match. Punk said he has the biggest match of his life in six days and he wants him to accept his challenge tonight. Kane said it’s not about the title, then said, “I need this.” Punk said he needs to prove to all the naysayers that he’s not a fluke champion, so he’s on. He then asked the other question we all wanted him to ask: “What’s in the bag?” Kane acted nuts, but didn’t answer, laughing instead, then walking away.
-Back at ringside, Lawler said Punk might be making a mistake. Cole plugged the text message poll: Which champion is in the greatest jeopardy of losing his title on Sunday – Punk, Triple H, or Mark Henry.
-Todd Grisham interviewed John Cena backstage. Cena looked like he was having a poopy kind of day. He said ever since the unfortunate set of circumstances regarding the chairman of the company, he’s tried to be upbeat, but he can’t do it anymore. He talked about JBL’s challenge to a New York City Parking Lot Brawl at the Bash. He said it’s not even a match, it’s a war. He said it’s two men in a parking lot surrounded by cars using anything within their reach. He said they will find out on Sunday if a man’s pride will fold and careers will be cut short when slammed on concrete. Cena asked why he would ever accept that challenge. Then he addressed JBL through the camera and said they don’t like each other. He said they go all the way back to WrestleMania 21. He said JBL considers himself a great American, and it makes him sick, so he’ll be happy to pick up the body of a great American and slam him on concrete and smash some bones. He said he’ll take great pleasure in smashing a car door over his head and seeing rear fear in JBL’s eyes. He said JBL didn’t pick a fight with a spoon fed smooth-skinned pretty boy. He said he’s a battle hungry, war hardened, angry son of a bitch. (Which war? The one in the movie?) He said he will come at him with the rage of a thousand pitbulls and he won’t stop until he remembers the name John Cena. He said NYC Brawl is his kind of fight, so “I accept.” He then said he had a challenge of his own tonight. He brought Cryme Tyme into the picture. He told JBL to go find two partners and, if he’s got a pair, meet him in the ring for a six-man tag match. He said he hasn’t said it in a long time, but he means it. He pointed at the camera and said, “You want some, come get some.” Now that’s more like it. That was Cena trying to redeem himself after last week’s fiasco. He did well. Why not stick with that type of promo, the type without the lame attempts at humor that would only work with 11 year olds or socially stunted tone-deaf wrestling create team members.
-Santino stood mid-ring and said the person who accepted his open challenge is “deaf meat.” Glamazon answered the challenge, drawing laughs from Lawler.
3 — SANTINO MARELLA vs. “GLAMAZON” BETH PHOENIX
Santino won a test of strength and then posed. Phoenix swung a slap attempts at him, but Santino ducked. Phoenix responded by reversing a Santino takedown, then punching away at him. Santino shifted into a sideheadlock, but Phoenix came back with a bodyslam and a two count. When Santino missed a charge into the corner, Phoenix schoolgirled him for a three count. Lawler said Santino is an embarrassment to his gender.
WINNER: Beth Phoenix in 2:00.
-They showed Kelly Kelly warming up backstage.
-Cole plugged Punk vs. Kane
-Kelly Kelly came out for a match against an unnamed opponent. Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes walked out. Kelly and ring announcer Lilian Garcia didn’t know what to think. DiBiase told Kelly they don’t care that she had a match scheduled. He suggested she leave. Cody said he and Ted have been the targets of unfair criticism for “going bad.” He said they aren’t bad people and they aren’t their fathers. He said they became World Tag Team Champions within a month of becoming partners. Wasn’t it within a minute of becoming partners, technically? Cody said, “When you’re this talented, well, you don’t pay dues.” Ted said the best part is they’re still in their early-20s and in ten years they’ll just be entering their primes. “People, like it or not, we are the future.” Hacksaw Duggan’s music interrupted.
Duggan entered the ring and said he wanted to talk to them from his heart. He said he’s known them since they were kids. He said he’s teamed with Dusty Rhodes and competed against Ted DiBiase. He said they’re like him, old school. He said unlike them, when he was young, he respected those who paved the way for them. He said Cody is right about being very, very talented. He said as performers, they’re at a whole other level. “But as people, you’ve got a lot of growing up to do,” he said. Cody said he makes some good points. He said when he thinks of the term “grow up,” he thinks about a 54 year old man walking out in gym shorts trying to relive his glory days. “Jim, they weren’t all that glorious to begin with.” Duggan looked sad. DiBiase said he thinks about something “Stone Cold” Steve Austin once said: “Unless you think you have what it takes to become a champion, then you shouldn’t even be in the WWE.” He asked Duggan if he thinks he has what it takes to win a title. He said he carries around the same two-by-four he did 20 years ago and he says the same lame chants, just begging for a reaction. The crowd let out some “hey-yoos!” DiBiase said it’s pathetic and Duggan is pathetic. Duggan hung his head. DiBiase said if anybody needs to grow up, it’s him. Rhodes and DiBiase left as the crowd chanted, “USA, USA.” JBL appeared on the big screen and said they were impressive. He said they’re right, they don’t have to pay dues. He invited them to join him in a six-man tag match against Cena & Cryme Tyme later. He said it’s the first of many main events. He said it’s an opportunity of a lifetime. Rhodes and DiBiase agreed within seconds.
What’s ironic about Rhodes & DiBiase proclaiming their disdain for old-school is that they’re doing old-school promos without frills and poorly scripted, ill-fitting attempts at juvenile humor. They’re cutting arrogant promos like young punks who don’t respect their elders. It’s a totally old school approach. It would have worked ten years ago, but ten years ago was a unique place in time that doesn’t apply anymore. They would have been cheered back then. Today, it works. Back to the basics is what works now as fans have seen everything else, often poorly executed, in recent years (and just last night).
4 — C.M. PUNK vs. KANE — Non-Title Match
Cole said while Kane said he needed this match, Punk needs to put in a good showing to prove he’s not a fluke champion. Punk knocked Kane to the floor at 1:00. Kane slapped the mat hard and seemed to get frustrated with his lack of dominance in the match. Back in the ring Kane caught Punk in the face with a boot out of nowhere, then settled into a chinlock. Cole talked about Punk’s “straight edge lifestyle.” Cole noted that Kane seemed to be muttering to himself throughout the match. Punk made a comeback at 4:00. When he went for a bulldog, Kane threw him off. Punk took Kane down with a dropkick to his knees, then he nailed him with a roundhouse to the back of the head. Kane kicked out at one. Punk flew at Kane with a crossbody block. Kane kicked out at two. Punk went to lift Kane for the GTS, but Punk resisted. Kane grabbed Punk’s throat. Punk kicked out of it. When he tried to slingshot himself at Kane, Kane punched him to the floor. Kane followed. Punk slammed Kane into the ringpost. Then he bulldogged Kane by leaping off the ring’s edge. Punk rolled into the ring to beat the count.
WINNER: Punk via countout in 6:00.
STAR RATING: *1/4
-After the match, Kane snapped again and threw chairs into the ring, then tackled Punk and pounded on his head. Kane put Punk’s head in a chair and then climbed to the top rope. Batista’s music played and Batista ran out. Kane jumped back to the mat only to be speared by Batista. Batista slammed Kane in the head with a chair. Kane tumbled to the floor. Batista helped Punk to his feet. Punk regained his senses and offered a handshake of thanks to Batista. Batista stared at his hand, then said, “I’m not your friend. I just saved your ass.” He said he wants his title on Sunday and he wants him healthy on Sunday. He said that’s why he came out. Batista then gave him a patronizing pat on his cheek. Punk, who’s got good facial expression instincts, took it, then shoved Batista in the chest. Batista pretended he was going to back off, but then slammed Punk on the mat and left the ring. Another good segment. Most everything seems back on track tonight so far. That couldn’t have been scripted or executed better in terms of playing into the dynamic between these two men at a different point in their careers before a big match against one another.
-They aired clips of last week’s angle where Cryme Tyme and Cena destroyed his limo. Lawler said JBL said it was a 175,000 dollar vehicle. They didn’t show the word “poopy” on the limo. I think the figured out that was a mistake.
5 — CHRIS JERICHO (w/Lance Cade) vs. PAUL LONDON
London’s a great opponent for this type of situation where he can make Jericho appear to be comparatively big and take some great bumps and convincingly sell. Jericho dominated from the start, including a brief beating administered at ringside. London caught a charging Jericho with a boot to the face (well, a tennis shoe), but Jericho came right back and flattened London again. He followed up with an underhood suplex into a backbreaker and then called for Shawn Michaels. He followed up with a nasty looking Walls of Jericho for the win. Lawler said you’ve got to be impressed with him. He may be cocky and arrogant, but he backs it up.
WINNER: Jericho in 4:00.
-After the match, Jericho leaned over and told London that he can learn from this loss and take one of two paths – the path of Jericho “that leads to honor and integrity” or the path of Michaels “that leads to deceit and lies and cowardice.” He told him to make his choice wisely because Michaels’s path leads to nothing but disgrace and pain, whereas his path leads to fame and acclaim. Michaels walked out onto the stage with a mic in hand. Cade stood at ringside with a chair to protect Jericho from Michaels. Michaels said he knows he can’t change his mind, and the opposite is true. He said if Jericho believes he has taken the path of righeousness and truth, he contends Jericho doesn’t know the meaning of those words. Michaels said they can agree on one thing – Sunday at the Bash, the worst is truly yet to come. The crowd chanted “HBK, HBK” as they cut to a break. Another good segment from those two.
-The latest “Did You Know?” fact stated: Did you know WWE.com has more monthly visits than NFL.com, UFC.com, Maxim, com, FHN.com, and NASCAR.com combined? I didn’t expect to see WWE basically plug UFC.com on tonight’s show. Dana White must be smiling.
-Jamie Noble walked up to Layla backstage. He said he noticed her looking at him. He said with the McMahons not around, it’s their time to hook up. He said America loves beautiful people hooking up. “We can be Raw’s power couple,” he said. Layla said she doesn’t date short men. He said he’s not short. He said she can Google it on the Internet – 5-6 is the average height of a man in America. He said he is above-average in many areas, including his skills in the wrestling ring. Noble said he’s going to prove it to her. Snitsky walked up to Noble and asked him to keep the noise down. He told him to shut his mouth. Noble backed down and stammered and said he was just talking to the lady. Layla told Jamie it was his chance. Noble called Snitsky back to him. He insulted Snitsky by saying he looks like he’s been beat with an ugly stick. He challenged him to a match. He said he’s bought himself a one-way ticket to Noblesville. Layla tried to talk some sense in Noble. He walked to the ring yelling at Snitsky. Snitsky followed. We got the best look at the backstage entrance tunnel as WWE has ever provided. Cole said Noble has more guts than brains.
-In the ring, Snitsky began tossing Noble around the ring right away. Cole said he doesn’t believe this is an official match. There was no referee. Noble caught a charging Snitsky with a boot. He leaped off the top rope. Snitsky caught him with a boot to the face. Then he stomped on him and gave him a pump-handle powerslam. Snitsky’s music played. Layla looked on, and considered going into the ring to check on Noble. She hesitated, then left.
-They replayed the Stephanie and Shane announcement from earlier.
-Cole and Lawler revealed the text message poll results. Punk came out first with 55 percent, with Henry at 25 percent and Triple H at 20 percent in terms of being in the most jeopardy of losing his title on Sunday. Cole and Lawler then hyped the entire Bash line-up.
-JBL’s ring intro took place. He was joined by Rhodes and DiBiase.
6 — JOHN CENA & CRYME TYME vs. JBL & CODY RHODES & TED DIBIASE
Cena did a “full squat military press” motion in center ring as he threw his hands in the air. Not sure if that was totally dorky looking or kinda cool. It can be a fine line, especially with Cena. The match began with 12 minutes left before the top of the hour, more time than average for a Raw main event. Good basic action early with Cody taking a sustained beating. JBL taunted Cena at 4:00, but the ref kept Cena out of the ring. The heels too over on JTG. Lawler said he’s surprised at the lack of respect DiBiase and Rhodes have shown since usually second generation wrestlers respect what their fathers have done. After 6:00 they cut to a break without a contrived incident to cut away from like heels bailing out at ringside.
back from the break, the beating on JTG continued. JBL slapped him in the corner. The pulled him away. JBL took a cheap shot at Cena. The ref wouldn’t let Cena in the ring. He drew from the High Flyers with that protest to the ref.
JTG avoided a moonsault by Cody at 13:00. The crowd went nuts anticipating a hot-tag to Cena. They got it, and Cena went to work on the best bump-taker of the heels in Cody Rhodes. DiBiase charged into the ring, but Cena took him down to. When Cena moved toward JBL, JBL jumped to the floor to avoid him. Cena did his You Can’t See Me routine into a quick FU on DiBiase. He went through the routine quicker, taking advantage of the crowd heat and not looking like a total idiot by stalling so long it allowed his opponent time to recover. Cena climbed to the top rope and gave Rhodes a legdrop on the back of his neck. He then applied an STFU. JBL kicked Cena from behind, prompting the DQ call by the ref. JBL bailed out. Lawler said he’s not sure what just happened. He should have watched Victory Road last night; then he’d have been really, really confused.
WINNERS: Cena & Cryme Tyme in 15:00.
STAR RATING: ** — Too one dimensional with the long JTG beating to be anything special as an overall match, but it was a superb build-up to a big tag for Cena that totally worked, and they did a good job keeping JBL away from Cena to build anticipation for Cena getting his hands on JBL on Sunday.
-Afterward, Cena chased JBL backstage. Cena went into the parking lot. In the head-scratching moment of the show, when Cena kicked open the door to the parking garage, there was a camera waiting there to film him exit the arena. Why not go that extra step of realism, just to make things, you know, more realistic (that’s not a bad thing), by having a camera man scramble to get outside after Cena? This three-camera shot outside just made the whole thing feel like a movie scene instead of an impromptu attempt by a wrestler to find a rival outside. JBL ended up hitting Cena from behind with a pipe. He dragged him against a car. Cena collapsed. JBL had to set him back up. (See, that was a nice little touch of realism that wasn’t necessary, but was done to add realism to the sense that Cena was knocked out cold; why not go that extra step with the cameras, too?). Things got bad here, though, as JBL got in another car and drove it right into Cena. The camera didn’t zoom in, but JBL’s reaction was that of someone who got rid of a rival once and for all and might have even thought he took things a step too far. That one single scene almost ruined the entire show, as everything up to that point was pretty good to very good, but that scene was a credibility killer as it just took one big step outside of the bounds of the world WWE creates. Not that WWE hasn’t crossed that line before, but it raises the stakes so high – vehicular homicide – that it crushes the impact of anything else on the show and just causes most viewers to roll their eyes, not react with concern and outrage.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS FLASHBACK: 10 YRS AGO – KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT 7/7: Batista-Punk angle, JBL, Vickie, Stephanie, C.M. Punk, Michaels-Jericho segment, Cena flirts with Mickie James