SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The following was originally published five years ago this week on PWTorch.com…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
DECEMBER 30, 2013
LIVE FROM RICHMOND, VA.
-C.M. Punk’s ring entrance opened the show. They went to Michael Cole, JBL, and the returning Jerry Lawler at ringside. JBL said his New Year’s Resolution is to rid himself of 240 pounds of excess fat – and then he pointed at Cole. Nice.
Punk talked about how he started the year as the longest reigning WWE Champion of the last 25 years and went one-on-one with Undertaker. He said he made some friends and lost some friends in 2013. He said he knows three people who had a better year than him, and that’s The Shield. He called them out.
The Shield promptly made their way to the ring through the crowd. Ambrose asked him what his big challenge is and give them a big reason not to end him right now. Punk said the three of them can beat any one man, but he wants to fight the best one-on-one. He asked which of them is the best. Ambrose said if that’s what he wants, he’ll face him again. Punk said he wasn’t talking to him, he was talking to Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins because “I’ve already beaten you half a dozen times.” He said it wasn’t easy, but he did it. Ambrose asked if he thinks he’s a joke. Punk said he thinks he’s the weak link and he wants to find out who the strong one is.
Punk asked Reigns to look at him when he talks to him. He asked if he’s no. 1. Rollins said he’s looking at the best and he’ll fight him tonight. Rollins and Reigns then got in a bit of a heated discussion over who was the best and who should face Punk. Rollins said he wants him. Ambrose scratched his head in the background looking like he was losing his cool. Out walked Brad Maddox who booked Punk against Rollins right now.
(1) SETH ROLLINS (w/Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns) vs. C.M. PUNK
Cole said he believes this is the first time these two have faced each other one-on-one. They cut to a break very early after Rollins bailed out seconds into the match. [c]
Cole confirmed this is the first time Punk and Rollins have wrestled one-on-one. Lawler wondered if the rest of the Shield agree Rollins is the best.
They cut to another break a few minutes later after Rollins knocked Punk off the top rope into the barrier at ringside. [c]
Cole talked about the various traits that set each Shield member apart. He said Reigns is the powerhouse, Ambrose the wildcard, and Rollins the technician. Punk won with a GTS out of nowhere at 17:00.
WINNER: Punk in 17:00.
-They went backstage to Maddox who told a ref that on his watch he is going to present an Intercontinental Title match they can be proud of. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H walked into the picture all smiles. After asking about each other’s holiday week, Daniel Bryan barged in and demanded a match with Bray Wyatt tonight. Maddox told him to earn it, such as taking on Luke Harper first. He said if he beats Harper, then he can face Rowan, and if he beats Rowan, then he gets Bray. Steph acted impressed with how quick he was on his feet. Steph told him to watch as she announces the main event for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
(WK Reax: I’m guessing it’ll be a 30-man progressive entrance over-the-top rope elimination match, but that’s just a wild guess.)
-The “WWE Fact” bragged about the social activity level of NBC’s “Tribute to the Troops.”
-Steph walked onto the stage to her music and wished everyone a happy new year. She said this is a time for reflection and people often ask what they would change, and she said she wouldn’t change anything. She said instead of looking back at what they could have changed, she prefers to look at the champion of champions, the WWE World Hvt. Champion, Randy Orton’s great year.
-A video package aired on Orton with year-by-year highlights of his career including wins over Undertaker and Kurt Angle and Sheamus (remember him?), and then finally his TLC title unification victory.
-Stephanie then announced Orton would defend the WWE Title in a traditional championship match one-on-one against John Cena. She strutted away with that smug self-satisfaction she is so effective at projecting.
-The announcers at ringside gushed about the announcement. They showed a clip of the Wyatt Family attacking Bryan. [c]
-A vignette announced the pending return of Batista just like last week.
-Steph walked backstage glowing. She asked Hunter how she did. He said it was awesome. He said it’ll be a phenomenal match where they can figure out who the real man is. He said as big as that is, wait until they hear what he has to say. She wished him luck.
(2) CURTIS AXEL vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER
Axel wore his “Better than Perfect” t-shirt. They aired a vignette where he said in 2013 he was one of the most dominant wrestlers, but he is vowing to make 2014 even better. As Ziggler walked out, a vignette aired he said his goals for 2014 include “smaller outfits” and “continue to be radder” and “see the Britney Spears live show in Vegas.”
(WK Reax: Axel still just doesn’t have a sense of who he is yet. He just came across odd, but not in a good way, in that little promo. Ziggler was okay, but he’s really lost steam and doesn’t really have an identity. Chewing gum and acting like Billy Gunn isn’t a fast track to the top tier.)
Cole said Ziggler is very active on Instagram. He said WWE has just passed half a million followers on Instagram. Axel took a face-first bump into the second turnbuckle on a reversal that the announcers sold big-time. The announcers said one of these two men would enter 2014 with momentum and the other would be still stuck in a rut. Ziggler won after a Zig Zag after Axel got cocky and took too long following up while on offense. JBL wasn’t a fan of the section of Ziggler’s hair that he colored pink.
WINNER: Ziggler in 4:00.
-Cole announced fans can pick Kofi Kingston, Miz, or Great Khali as the opponent of Damien Sandow. [c]
-A commercial aired for next week’s “Old School Raw.”
-Big E.’s ring entrance took place.
(3) BIG E. LANGSTON vs. FANDANGO (w/Summer Rae) – Intercontinental Title match
Cole again called it “the prestigious” Intercontinental Championship. Cole said if he had to pick one wrestler who would have a breakout year in 2014, it’s Big E. Langston. Fandango avoided a charging Big E., so Big E. flew through the ropes to the floor and had a rough landing at 5:00. [c]
They came back from the break with an image of the IC Title on the screen as Cole said again this match was for the “prestigious” IC Title. Big E. rallied at 13:00 and hit his running splash and then hit the Big Ending for the win. Cole said 2014 will be a big year for WWE because of people like Big E., who dug down deep to win.
WINNER: Big E. in 13:00 to retain the IC Title.
-The announcers reflected on the match, and put over both Big E. and Fandango. Then they shifted to hyping the Bryan vs. Wyatt Family matches coming up with clips of past angles with them.
-They announced Punk vs. Reigns on Raw next week. Cole said Ambrose and Rollins couldn’t beat Punk, so now it’s up to Reigns.
-Booker T’s music played as he led a party of performers onto the stage including Titus O’Neill, Darren Young, Tyson Kidd, The Usos, Xavier Woods, and a bunch of Divas. He said he’s going to kick off the new year with a special Spinarooni. He was interrupted, though, by Bad News Barrett who was lifted on a fork lift carrying his podium.
Barrett pounded his gavel and asked for decorum. He said 2014 will bring humanity one step closer to the apocalypse. He said the people will continue to poison the environment and then ask for handouts when mother nature takes their homes away from them. He said people will stab each other for more money just so they can have a bigger wide screen TV. He said of course everyone will follow the latest trends rather than acknowledge the poverty and debt that surrounds them all. He said he will be here every week to remind everyone about it. He smiled, pounded his gavel, and wished everyone a happy new year.
-Renee Young interviewed Sandow. He said he doesn’t care who his opponent is because if he doesn’t win tonight, he quits. Rene looked shocked.
-Cole showed a picture of NFL player LeSean McCoy with a World Title belt replica, then LeBron James asking on Twitter where he could get one of those belts. Then John Cena and Rock chimed in on Twitter. Rock told LeBron to wear “his” belt with pride.
(WK Reax: It’s always fun watching one celebrity try to get a rub from a bigger celebrity with friendly back and forth banter on Twitter.)
-Lawler revealed that Khali won the voting to face Sandow.
(4) THE GREAT KHALI vs. DAMIEN SANDOW
The announcers wondered how the masses would survive 2014 without their Intellectual Savior. Khali got the better of Sandow for several minutes, but Sandow knocked him into the turnbuckle and schoolboyed him for the win. The announcers made a big deal out of Khali’s left shoulder actually being up during the pin, but the ref didn’t see it.
WINNER: Sandow in 5:00.
-More clips aired of Bryan’s feud with the Wyatt Family.
-A commercial hyped the Best PPV Matches of 2013 DVD. That’s a good idea for a DVD because so many people don’t buy PPVs but would be interested in witnessing the top matches of the year. [c]
(5) BRODUS CLAY vs. R-TRUTH
Xavier Woods joined the announcers at ringside. Clay dominated the opening few minutes. Xavier was a natural on the mic as he defended himself against Clay’s accusations that he stole the Funkadactyls.
With Truth in big trouble, Xavier stood on the announce table and distracted Clay and then called for the Funkadacyls to come out. When they did, Truth took the opening and surprised Clay with a kick and a DDT off the ropes. Xavier, Truth, and the Funkadactyls danced afterward as Clay threw a fit on the stage.
WINNER: Truth in 4:00.
-Lawler hyped the Divas’ ten-woman tag match.
-They showed Triple H walking with confidence backstage as Cole said he has a big announcement later. [c]
-They hyped that on “Old School Raw,” there’d be appearances by many former champions, but didn’t specify.
-Triple H made his ring entrance. He said 2013 was epic, but 2014 will be unlike anything they have seen before. He asked everyone to welcome someone back to the WWE. After the obligatory eight seconds of silence as fans speculated in their mind who it could be, out walked Brock Lesnar to his music along with Paul Heyman.
Cole said Triple H is one of Lesnar’s fiercest rivals over the years, and twice Lesnar broke Triple H’s arm (except it wasn’t broken when Triple H took publicity pictures outside of WWE events). Hunter looked at Lesnar and offered a handshake. Lesnar shook his hand. Hunter patted him on the chest, smiled, and walked away.
Heyman said, “My name is Paul Heyman, and as you can see, the Beast is back.” He said his client authorized him to inform them that he isn’t back to settle old scores because he has defeated every rival and once he beats someone, he forgets about them. He said he’s not even back to avenge those who did wrong to him. He said he is a bigger man than the fans because he can forgive. He said this isn’t about him, it’s about his client. He said Lesnar is back because he wants to be WWE World Hvt. Champion. Heyman said the winner of the Rumble will be Lesnar, and he will face the winner of Cena vs. Orton.
Lesnar said he doesn’t care if it’s Orton or Cena. He said as far as he’s concerned, “there ain’t no one who can stop me.” He said he doesn’t need to win a Royal Rumble match to be deserving enough for a championship match. He said he doesn’t have to stand in a mysterious line for a title shot. He said as far as he’s concerned, that line starts behind him. He dared anyone to come down to the ring and try to do something about that.
Heyman said they might as well wrap up the segment because nobody is going to answer that challenge. Heyman said Lesnar’s life is “eat, sleep, conquer, repeat.” Mark Henry’s music played as Heyman tried to wrap things up. Henry stepped onto the stage. Lesnar called him to the ring. JBL said they were about to see a mega-fight. Henry made his way to the ring.
As Henry entered the ring, Lesnar gave him a running knee to knock him to the floor. Henry fought back and threw Lesnar over the ringside barrier. Lesnar speared Henry through the ringside barricade. Lesnar let out some yells that sounded like Howard Dean back at that political rally. Lesnar then gave Henry an F5 on the floor. Henry was out. Heyman told Lesnar that Henry got the message and understands, so back off. Lawler said thank God that Heyman was there to call off the Beast. [c]
-They replayed the Lesnar-Henry angle.
(6) THE BELLAS & EVA MARIE & CAMERON & NAOMI vs. AKSANA & ROSA MENDEZ & KAITLYN & SUMMER RAE & ALICIA FOX
Aksana pinned Nikki, who clutched her mouth again afterward.
WINNERS: Team Non-Total Divas in 5:00.
-Another clip aired of the Bryan vs. Wyatt Family feud.
-A Batista vignette aired. [c]
-They showed the exterior of the arena in Richmond, Va.
-Cole threw to a video package on the Tribute to the Troops.
-They went to the announcers at ringside who reflected on the Lesnar-Henry angle and the Orton vs. Cena announcement. Cena’s pic was filtered to the point it looked like he was wearing eye liner.
-Steph and Hunter said they’ve been impressed with Maddox tonight. He said he’ll top himself next week because Steph’s favorites will be back. He also let out a “wooo!” to indicate Ric Flair is returning next week.
-They went back to the announcers. Lawler said he’ll wear one of his classic old jacket. Then they threw to another clip of the Bryan-Wyatt Family feud, this one from last week’s Raw.
-Bryan’s ring entrance took place. [c]
-The Wyatt Family ring entrance took place.
(7a) LUKE HARPER vs. DANIEL BRYAN
After some back and forth action, at 4:00, the mic clearly picked up the ref telling Bryan “We’re doing the break spot.” Bryan then teased a comeback, but Harper turned it into a sitout bodyslam for a two count. Then came the break. [c]
After the break Harper had Bryan in a chinlock. They showed clips of Harper whipping Bryan into the ringside barrier over and over during the break. At 10:00 Bryan knocked Harper to the floor and then dove through the ropes and knocked him into the barricade. He did it a second time. They showed Bray looking on nervously. Harper came back at 12:00 with a nasty top rope powerbomb for a near fall.
At 14:00 Bryan caught Harper in the Yes Lock. Harper bit Bryan’s arm to break the hold. Bryan came back seconds later with a running knee for the win.
WINNER: Bryan in 15:00.
-Afterward Harper immediately attacked Bryan. The ref called for the bell to start the match.
(7b) ERICK ROWAN vs. DANIEL BRYAN
Harper threw Bryan into the announce table. They cut to a break right away. [c]
Back from the break, Rowan was rubbing his knuckles into Bryan’s temples. Harper beat on him for a couple minutes before Bryan surprised him with a small package out of nowhere for the win.
WINNER: Bryan in 6:00.
-Afterward, Rowan went after Bryan, but Harper entered the ring and intervened, keeping Bryan safe for Bray Wyatt.
(7c) BRAY WYATT vs. DANIEL BRYAN
With three minutes left in the third hour, the bell rang to start this. Bryan made a move toward Bray, but then Harper and Rowan attacked Bryan. The ref DQ’d Bray.
WINNER: Bryan via DQ in seconds.
-Rowan and Harper attacked Bryan at ringside. Cole said it was hard to watch. The crowd was pretty much silent at this point, not sure how to react. They double slammed him in the ring. Bray began singing while sitting in the corner.
Bray said this is where their story ends because he has nothing else to give. He said it could have been perfect, but this is his fault. He said he will punish him. He told him to open his eyes because “this is the end.” Bryan muttered, “You’re right.” Bray asked him to say it again. Bryan said, “You’re right.” Bryan reached for the mic and said, “You’re right” a third time. He added, while panting for oxygen, “You were always right. No matter how many matches I won, no matter how loud these people cheered for me, you were always right. The Machine would never let me win, no matter how loud you people chanted.” He said the fans chanted yes, but they didn’t care, so “I’m yours. Let me join the family.” The crowd gasped and booed. Bray looked down at Bryan and told him he won’t be sorry. He made him crawl over to him and pull himself up. Bryan extended his arms. Bray then gave Bryan his Sister Abigail finisher. Then he held his hand and said this is forever and it will change everything.
Rowan and Harper carried Bryan out of the ring as Bray led the way. No commentary from the announcers these last few minutes. On the stage Bryan stood on his own. The fans chanted “No! No!” Bryan looked at them and hyperventilated. The crowd chanted “Daniel Bryan!” over and over. Bryan soaked it up, looked down, shook his head no, then turned back to Bray, ready to accept his new “family” and confirming his decision to change course in 2014.
(WK Reax: Wow, that was a curve ball. Sure, there had been hints dropped, but I think until the very end, most viewers were expecting Bryan was just swerving the Wyatts. And maybe he was. Or maybe this is the start of a Wyatt babyface turn trying to help Bryan fight The Machine. Or maybe this is WWE burying Bryan once and for all. It does seem to rul out Bryan vs. Shawn Michaels.)
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS WEEK’S REPORT: 5 YRS AGO – WWE RAW (12-23-13): Christmas Carol Contest, Christmas Present on a Pole, Bad Santa Damien Sandow, plus Batista vignette, Punk, Cena, Shield, Cody, Ryback, Bryan