RECOMMENDED NEW PODCAST - EX-WWE CREATIVE TEAM MEMBER DISHES ON BACKSTAGE WWE OPERATIONS...
(Search "wade keller" to subscribe in podcast app)
The following report was originally published ten years ago this week on PWTorch.com…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
DECEMBER 1, 2008
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
LIVE FROM WASHINGTON D.C.
-A video package aired on John Cena’s attack on Chris Jericho at the end of last week’s Raw. Then they went to a close-up of Cena’s “HLA” AWA-logo-inspired t-shirt in the concourse of the arena. Then the camera panned to Jericho, surrounded by security in the concourse area. He said he has surrounded himself by security to prevent Cena fans from touching him. He went on to insult the fans, saying that he never represented the fans when he was champion and he don’t again after he defeats Cena at Armageddon. He warned a fan not to touch him again. He finally made his way into the ring. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler spoke for the first time briefly as he entered the ring. Lawler said he was surprised Jericho showed up.
Jericho said he has no interest in converting the fans because they are all completely worthless to him. He said there is one Cena fan he wants to convert: “My son.” He said his son was too young – only two years old – to realize the stature of his father last time he was in WWE. But in the three years he was away from WWE, his father became a fan of Cena “to my utter horror.” He said his son walked around saying “The Champ Is Here” and when he dropped him off at school, he’d say, “You can’t see me!” The fans laughed. He said he had to ban him from watching WWE. He said his son cried and screamed, but he didn’t care. He said his son hasn’t watched Cena disgracefully attack him, but he’s lifting the ban at Armageddon so his son can see his hero Cena get struck down by him, and see everyone’s crestfallen faces and gasps of disappointment when Cena loses the title. He said he at Armageddon he wants his son to see Cena for “the flash in the pan that he is.” Then he can see his real hero come home with the World Championship around his waist – “and that is me.” Excellent promo. One of Jericho’s better promos since returning. Very monotone and deliberate, so he’s not getting by on flash or charisma, but strong content and believable delivery puts it over.
-The Raw opening then aired. Cole and Lawler formally introduced the show and previewed the upcoming matches in the IC Title Contenders’ Tournament.
-Rey Mysterio made his ring intro. Mike Knox met him at the bottom of the ramp and shoved him. Rey backed up and then slipped off the edge of the ramp. It wasn’t clear whether he slipped by accident or not, but he landed awkwardly on his arm. He told the ref, “My arm, my arm,” so the slip was believable but planned.
-After a shot of the Washington Monument, they went to a replay of Knox beating up Rey.
-Todd Grisham interviewed Stephanie McMahon, asking her if she had an update on Rey. She said it appears he’s torn ligaments on his elbow. As she walked away, Layla said she believes if Rey is injured, Rey should be out of the tournament. Steph said, “You know something, Layla, I couldn’t agree more.”
1 — C.M. PUNK & KOFI KINGSTON vs. CODY RHODES & MANU
A clip aired after Punk’s ring entrance of him as the grand marshall of the Thanksgiving Parade in his hometown of Chicago. They showed Randy Orton watching a monitor backstage as Cody walked to the ring. The sexual tension between those two continues. They’re constantly watching each other’s matches and locking eyes with each other. At 2:00 Kofi dove over the top rope onto Manu. Cody ran over and threw Kofi into the ring apron as the ref was pushing Punk to his corner.
Back life, Punk had Cody in an abdominal stretch mid-ring. The heels isolated Punk. When Cody got a full mount MMA-style on Punk and punched away with closed fists, the ref pulled him off and threatened disqualification. So that’s illegal this week. Punk made a comeback with some kicks. Cole called him a “martial arts expert.” I guess if you can throw a nice reverse side kick and some roundkicks you’re an “expert.” Punk kneed Cody and hot-tagged Kofi at 9:00. Kofi hit a series of dropkicks and a flying chop off the ropes. He followed with a neckbreaker and a standing double legdrop for a near fall. Manu broke it up. Punk bulldogged Manu in retaliation. Kofi then nailed Cody with his 360 roundhouse kick for the win. They showed Orton watching backstage again. Lawler said he couldn’t tell if he was happy or mad.
WINNERS: Kofi & Punk in 10:00.
STAR RATING: **1/4
-Another flashback commercial aired from 1998 with DX plugging merchandise that certainly is no longer available, all of these years after DX was a featured act. Michaels had a busted up eye way back then, too. What a coincidence. They plugged the Elimination Chamber set. Triple H said it had over 40 pieces. Michaels said it probably takes all night to assemble. Michaels started to break down as he talked about how little sleep he’ll get and how much his kids will bug him about getting it just right. Triple H tried to calm him down. Michaels stormed away. Triple H actually managed to get through the entire segment without being demeaning to another human being or dripping with sarcasm.
-Orton, like any admirer, was waiting for Cody to return to the locker room. Cody asked him what he was looking at. He said he didn’t see him win anything last week, either. Orton said he didn’t want to gloat. “We can keep doing this, going back and forth, trying to one up each other, but last week at Survivor Series we were on the same team and we won.” He said he saw potential in him last week in him. He suggested they take the first step in “realizing our collective potential.” He said if they’re interested, he’ll be in his locker room. That’s pretty forward of him. They haven’t even had a date yet.
-Jericho found Kane pacing in the storage area of the arena. Jericho said everyone is talking about Cena as an “unstoppable monster” and that he can’t beat him. He said they think he’s going to tap out, screaming in pain. “That’s what they’re saying,” said Jericho. Kane replied: “Is that what they’re saying, or is that what you’re saying? Don’t play mind games with me, Jericho.” He said he’s going to win the match, but not for him. He said the fans love him and he loves them back. He warned Jericho to never approach him again. Jericho gave one of those backing-off-quickly, deep breath smiles that someone with a plan gone awry gets.
-Cole and Lawler congratulated Stephanie McMahon for being on the list of “20 Women to Watch” in CableFax magazine’s latest issue. They threw to a clip of last week’s dispute between Stephanie and Shane McMahon.
2 — MELINA vs. JILLIAN HALL
Santino Marella and “Glamazon” Beth Phoenix joined Cole and Lawler at ringside. Santino said he’s going to win a lot of Slammies next week. He said they’ll run out of room on his mantle. Melina won all-too-quickly with her Last Call finisher.
WINNER: Melina in 2:00.
-Afterward, Santino said she doesn’t have what it takes to beat the Glamazon. Melina said she may be the Glamazon, but she doesn’t know how to be glamourous. Melina vowed to take her championship. Santino said, “You can’t talk to her like that, Melinie.” He said anyone can do her entrance dance. He volunteered to do it himself. This meant we got to hear Cole cackle at Santino’s funny dancing, even before he started. When he went for the splits, Santino fell backward and grabbed his crotch, like he pulled a hamstring. Cole literally cackled as if it was the funniest thing he’s ever ever seen. Melina then showed him how it’s done by doing the splits herself. “Is there a Slammy for Goof of the Year?” said Cole, who then inaccurately said Santino would be the winner.
-They showed JBL heading toward the entrance tunnel. Lawler called him a buzzkill.
-A replay aired of Santino failing to pull of Melina’s splits. They went backstage to Santino icing his hamstrings as Cole continued to force laughter. Santino enjoyed a massage from someone with black gloves behind him. It turned out to be Goldust. Santino “screamed like a little girl” and ran away. Cole continued to fake-laugh at everything. I’m sure Vince McMahon insists on it, but boy that forced laughter is the real buzzkill of Raw.
-A replay aired of JBL kicking John Morrison in the face. Morrison isn’t man enough to reply or thought of highly enough that his lack of response is considered an issue.
-JBL entered the ring and said he has yet to hear back from Michaels. As a result, earlier today he made an offer to Michaels that is easier to understand – he challenged him to a street fight. “What’s your answer?” JBL demanded. After a pause, Michaels walked out ready for a street fight. He slapped the hands of fans as he danced to the ring. JBL told the referee to hold off on ringing the bell. He told Michaels he has a choice – fight him now or do the right thing for his family by accepting a financial offer he couldn’t have dreamed of a year ago. JBL said nobody but his wife saw the stock market crash coming. He said he put his money in gold while the American people followed the herd and lost almost everything.
He told Michaels he lost his 401K, his nest egg, and his children’s education fund. He said now he looks at his beautiful wife and kids and wonders how in the world he’ll send them to college. “Well, I’ve got an answer,” he said. “I’m offering you a job. I want you to come work for me.” JBL said he also wrestle until he’s 60 like these “has-beens who have been disgracing themselves in high schools gyms all over the country, bragging about their war stories of selling the place out while hawking their eight-by-tens and selling Polaroids.” That was, of course, a major dig at Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair who are appearing at a high school event later this month, and Vince is really upset at Hogan lately.
JBL told him one more crash through a table and he’s done. He asked him what else he can do besides this. Michaels looked down solemnly, a look he’s had a lot of practice at this year on Raw. He asked Michaels for an answer to his question now. JBL said ever since he walked out there, people have been wanting him to kick him in the face, so he asked him to take that instant gratification. Michaels twitched with anger. He appeared tempted as JBL stuck his chin out. Michaels’s face quivered. JBL told him if he takes a shot, the offer is off the table forever. Michaels appeared to be on the verge of crying. He left the ring and walked away with his head hanging. Lawler quietly said he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. JBL said, “Looking forward to doing business, Shawn.” Michaels stopped, paused, and then kept walking to the back. JBL laughed.
-Cole and Lawler plugged the Cena vs. Kane main event.
3 — BATISTA vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER
During Batista’s ring entrance, Cole bragged that Raw is the “longest running episodic TV show in history.” He noted that Batista is back in his hometown of Washington D.C. This was Ziggler’s Raw debut, not counting all of his appearances on Raw as part of the Spirit Squad. When he talked, he sounded just like Evan Bourne, actually. He introduced himself. He tried to introduce himself to Batista. Batista didn’t shake his hand, so Ziggler slapped him. Then he slipped out of the ring. Batista chased him back into the ring. Dolph slipped out of the ring as soon as Batista re-entered.
As Batista climbed out of the ring again, Ziggler surprised him with a flying front kick to the face. Batista was stunned briefly, but then rammed Ziggler into the ring apron. Back in the ring, Ziggler escaped a slam attempt and surprised Batista with a neckbreaker for a near fall. He followed up with a relentless series of elbows. Lawler said he wasn’t just impressed, but he was in shock. Batista caught Ziggler with a boot to the face. Ziggler flew at Batista, but Batista caught him, looked like he’d had enough, and gave him a spinebuster. He followed with a Batista Bomb for the win.
WINNER: Batista in 3:00. Ziggler was given a good dose of offense against a top tier star in Batista, but it still seems so odd and backwards to debut someone you’ve been giving TV time in what amounts to a match one notch short of a squash. It just defines down Ziggler as someone not ready for primetime.
-Orton walked out after the match and told Batista that one day soon they’ll face off one on one. Batista did that nervous laugh he does before he speaks and said he knows something Orton doesn’t know. He said he spoke to Stephanie earlier and they’re booked to face off at Armageddon. Orton said he’s glad. He said he’s been waiting four years for that match.
-Jericho walked up to Orton and said he knows he hates Cena as much as he does. He said after Kane dismantles Cena, they should jump in and make sure they give Cena the shortest comeback in WWE history. Jericho said Cena divides WWE in half – you’re either for or against him. Orton said Jericho knows what side he’s on, but he’s not going to fight his battle for him. He said he has to face Batista at Armageddon, and then he’s going to go after the champion, whether it’s Jericho or Cena. Jericho asked if it matters to him that he pinned Cena at WrestleMania and nobody remembers it, or that Cena’s return from injury totally eclipsed his return from injury, or that he’s basically been an afterthought because of Cena. He told Orton to think about that. Orton thought about it as Jericho walked away.
4 — JOHN MORRISON vs. FIT FINLAY (w/Hornswoggle) — IC Title Contenders’ Tournament
During Morrison’s ring entrance, they showed Layla chatting on the phone, apparently to William Regal, and told him with a smile that Stephanie agrees with them that if Rey can’t wrestle tonight, he’s out of the tournament. Cole talked about Michaels seemingly pondering the offer JBL made. Lawler said the fans booed Michaels out of the arena. Morrison applied an inverted chinlock on Finlay. He was nice enough to face the hard camera. Now and then I want to see wrestlers apply a hold with their back to the hard camera, just to break the pattern a little bit. Morrison took some wicked bumps off of Finlay clotheslines.
Finlay knocked Morrison to the floor. Hornswoggle moved. Morrison defended himself by shoving Hornswoggle down. Lawler said he couldn’t believe Morrison did that. Morrison slidekicked Finlay into the ringside steps as Finlay went to check on Finlay. Morrison used a drop toe hold to send Finlay into the ropes, then struck him down with an enzuigiri for the pin.
WINNER: Morrison in 5:00.
STAR RATING: *1/4 — Solid five minute TV match. That’s a noteworthy win for Morrison as a singles wrestler.
-Cole plugged that the demented conflicted monster Kane stands in Cena’s way tonight.
-A commercial aired for the latest “WWE Studios” movie, “Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia,” featuring Mr. Kennedy as one of the soldiers. He gets top billing on the DVD cover. It premieres on DVD on Jan. 6, 2009. Yes, straight to DVD.
-Stephanie Mcmahon walked out. Notice the camera films her only from the waist up, for whatever reason. She announced the nominees for next week’s Superstar of the Year: Edge, Batista, Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, Triple H, and John Cena. Cena got, by far, the biggest reaction, but the initial burst of cheers soon faced competition from the boos. She then announced that next week one match would feature Triple H. A graphic on the screen showed Chris Jericho vs. Jeff Hardy. She said, “Sorry, I pulled an Adamle.” She then announced Jericho vs. Hardy, Cena vs. Edge, and Triple H vs. Batista. It’s going to be tougher and tougher to get people to spend money to watch top stars face each other on PPV when they continue to give top match-ups like that away on Raw and Smackdown week to week. Seriously, it’s so insecure and desperate and counter-productive of them. They should be pulling back the in-ring appearances of their top stars at this point.
-Cole and Lawler were shown on camera and they updated Rey’s condition. Lawler said Rey is still insisting on being in his scheduled match against Miz.
-The Miz came out to his full ring intro routine.
5 — THE MIZ vs. REY MYSTERIO — IC Title Contenders’ Tournament
Lawler wondered if Rey would come out, if there’d be a suitable substitute, or if he’d forfeit. Rey walked out with his right arm bandaged. Miz went after Rey’s arm right awawy, but Rey immediately hit a 619 and then went for a top rope splash. Miz moved and then took control. Miz yanked Rey by his injured arm off the top rope and across his shoulder. He continued to focus on his arm. Rey kicked Miz in the face at 3:00 and then his a crossbody off the second rope. Miz rolled through and scored a near fall. Rey KO’d Miz with a roundkick to the face as he was seated for a near fall of his own. Miz came back with a running kneelift. Rey avoided a neckbreaker and rolled up Miz awkwardly for a leverage three count.
WINNER: Rey Mysterio in 5:00.
STAR RATING: *1/2
-The tournament semi-finals are Morrison vs. Punk and Rey vs. Kofi.
-Kane was shown warming up backstage in the storage room where he had been apparently for the previous hour or two.
-An ECW commercial aired hyping MVP vs. Matt Hardy, playing up MVP’s attempt to redeem himself after his losing streak.
6 — JOHN CENA vs. KANE
Cena went after Kane fast at the start, but Kane cut him off with a hard clothesline as Cena rebounded off the ropes toward him. He began beating him down methodically for a few minutes.
Kane low dropkicked Cena and then settled into a chinlock. Lawler explained that every part of Cena’s neck is vulnerable from the injury he had. Cole said there will be a bullseye on it for a long time. Kane sideslammed Cena and scored a two count at 4:00. Kane flew off the top rope, but Cena moved and then applied a sudden STFU. Kane struggled to escape. Jericho ran to the ring. Cena released the hold and went after Jericho right away. He threw him into the security wall. Cena beat the ref count, but upon re-entering the ring, Kane gave him a boot to the face. Kane then signalled for a chokeslam. Cena kicked out of it and powered Kane to the mat. Kane came right back with another chokeslam attempt. Cena avoided it and hit the FU for the win.
WINNER: Cena in 5:00.
-Afterward, Cena stared down at Jericho at ringside. Jericho tried to run to the back, but Cena cut him off and began beating him at ringside. He threw him into the security wall and continued his way toward the entrance stage area. Cody and Manu jumped Cena. The triple team beat down turned into a four-on-one as Orton joined in just as Cena showed signs of life. Orton dragged Cena to the edge of the ramp and set up his signature DDT. As Jericho watched, Orton DDT’d Cena onto the floor. Jericho beat on Cena again. Fans chanted for Batista, but no one made the save. Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho as the show ended. Strong visual finish to build up Armageddon’s main event.