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The following report was originally published on PWTorch.com five years ago this week…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MARCH 3, 2014
LIVE ON USA NETWORK
The show opened with Michael Cole introducing the show as the crowd loudly chanted “C.M. Punk!”
Punk’s “Cult of Personality” played, perhaps for the last time on WWE TV, and after milking the crowd pop for a moment, Paul Heyman walked out. Heyman sat down cross-legged mid-ring, like Punk often would, and said he would tell the story of a Paul Heyman Guy. He listed the reasons WWE management didn’t believe in Punk, shifting heat to The Authority for not wanting Punk around. He said Punk is not here tonight, and no one is more disappointed than him, but that’s because of the fans. He said the fans turned Punk against Heyman, and Punk was happy and successful when he was with Heyman. He shifted to saying Punk losing to Undertaker last year began Punk’s downward spiral. He said only one man can end Undertaker’s Streak, and that’s Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar came out and vowed to end the Streak. He said he will succeed where “Chicago’s little baby boy” Punk failed. Mark Henry then came onto the stage to get revenge. They brawled at ringside, with Lesnar getting a decisive advantage. Lesnar cleared the announce table of monitors, one of which bounced into the crowd. He then slammed Henry through the announce table with an F5.
(1) The Usos beat The New Age Outlaws at 9:25 to capture the WWE Tag Team Titles. Before the match, Road Dogg refused to do the intro routine, which is what he should have been doing since the week they turned heel. The Usos are getting over as a legitimate main event tag team act, in part because of their push lately and buoyed by their roles on “Total Divas.” The title change was the next step in keeping the Chicago fans feeling like they were getting a newsworthy, exciting show worthy of their attention rather than disruptive Punk chants throughout.
(2) Big E. beat Cesaro via DQ at 1:26 after Jack Swagger interfered out of nowhere leading to dissension between The Real Americans.
(3) The Wyatt Family beat The Shield at 13:54. Rollins walked out late in the match, expressing to Reigns he was frustrated trying to keep the team together. That led to Ambrose taking a pin after Bray gave him Sister Abigail.
Renee Young interviewed Batitsa backstage. Batista called the “Yes Movement” the stupidest thing he’s ever seen. He obviously hadn’t seen Stephanie McMahon’s cloying endorsement of WWE Network yet.
(4) Santino & Emma beat Fandango & Summer Rae at 3:19. Emmas music played before and after the match, as WWE is playing up her dancing routine.
Stephanie acted like a kind, wonderful mother glowing about her newfound ability, thanks to the WWE Network, to show her children old footage of their granddad before he was the Chairman and their pops during his prime as a World Champion wrestler
(5) Sheamus beat Christian at 13:58. This was the first chance for the fans to try to take over the show, and despite hard work from the wrestlers, there were a lot of chants in this match, including “This is Awful.”
Young interviewed Sheamus backstage afterward. Christian attacked him.
(6) The Bellas beat Aksana & Alicia Fox at4:10.
Daniel Bryan came out and accepted loud “Yes!” chants. He smiled when they broke into “C.M. Punk!” chants. He then declared that he with the fans would “hijack Raw” tonight, WWE’s latest attempt to co-opt the independent “hijack Raw” movement on the Internet. Savvy. He said he wouldn’t leave the ring until Batista came down to fight or Triple H accepted his challenge to a match at WrestleMania. Triple H and Stephanie walked out. Hunter condescendingly laughed at the very notion of wrestling Bryan, saying he doesn’t lace up his boots for a B+ player. Bryan said maybe he should wrestle Stephanie instead and Hunter can put on her skirt and watch. Stephanie said they made Bryan, and without the WWE machine, there would be no ring and no “Yes!” shirts. Hunter told Bryan to get out of his ring. Steph called for Kane. Bryan dove onto Kane at ringside and then walked to the back as the crowd cheered.
(7) Dolph Ziggler beat Alberto Del Rio at 2:45. Another way to cater to the Chicago fans by having another perceived “Internet darling” get a rare decisive win on TV.
The announced Paul Bearer would be inducted in to the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014. A video aired on Bearer’s career.
(8) Big E. beat Jack Swagger via DQ in 0:06 when Cesaro got revenge by costing Swagger the match by interfering right away. Big E. seemed like a pawn in this show, not a central figure in a brewing feud.
John Cena limped out and talked about how wonderful Chicago is and how great his memories are of the town. It was like he was telling them he was more deserving of their cheers than Punk, who couldn’t even be bothered to be there. A Wyatt Family promo interrupted.
Lana and Alexander Rusev did a brief segment on the stage.
(8) Daniel Bryan beat Batista via DQ after Orton attacked Batista after Batista threw Bryan into his lap at ringside seconds earlier. Afterward Triple H, Batista, and Kane attacked Bryan. Fans chanted for Punk. Instead, the show went off the air with the heels standing over Bryan.
•The Paul Heyman promo made my think the odds were less that C.M. Punk would be on the show. But when someone who says he likes to lie also says Punk is not in the building, you have to be a little skeptical. The way he shifted, though, into blaming Undertaker and then transitioned into pushing Brock Lesnar wanting revenge and tearing apart the announce desk, suggested that they wanted to address the elephant in the room, then move on.
•The Usos are one of the nice surprises of the last six months. There was a shift in how they have been pushed compared to before that sent a message to fans that they were for real. And in the ring they have been very good, and that helps a lot. Since Total Divas, they’ve been more “themselves” and exuded more charisma and command of the ring, which has also helped.
•I’m very glad to see the New Age Outlaws drop the babyface match intro bit. Road Dogg should have been telling the crowd from the beginning that they don’t deserve to hear their catch phrases instead of pandering to the nostalgia cheers while wanting to then suddenly transition into heels. It wasn’t fair for their babyface opponents to do it that way.
•Michael Cole explained that Dean Ambrose “fought out into the WWE Universe and never returned.” That sounds stupid. Translation: He fought into the crowd and didn’t return.
•I wonder how many staunch Punk fanatics were upset with the crowd cheering and chanting during the Wyatts-Shield match instead of just protest-chanting for Punk start to finish. There was a Punk chant during the match, but it didn’t last long.
•Quotebook – Batista: “I think the Yes Movement is possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I think it’s amazing who’s passing for a WWE Superstar these days. These fans are reading too many comics, watching too many movies.” Says the guy who’s starring in a big budget movie this season based on a comic book. I suspect he was fully aware of the irony.
•Lots of boos from the Chicago crowd as soon as Renee Young introduced him for a backstage interview. Batista said “guys like Daniel Bryan will never beat guys like me.”
•Stephanie McMahon broke the sap-meter in that commercial she did talking about the WWE Network’s importance to her daughters so they can watch grand pop and dad when they were younger. Is she at all self-aware of how cloying and gag-inducing such over-the-top phoniness is? The definition of cloy is “disgust or sicken (someone) with an excess of sweetness, richness, or sentiment.” Yep, that was what that was. The idea she had no access to footage to show her daughters before the WWE Network makes the whole message insulting on top of it all.
•Sheamus vs. Christian was predictably the first big opportunity for the crowd to hijack things, but instead of just chanting for Punk, they mostly chanted “This is Awful!” instead.
•Bryan co-opted the “hijack Raw” movement by encouraging it in the midst of an officially approved promo. When they did chant for Punk, he smiled and then just swiftly moved back to the matter at hand – wrestling Batista or Triple H answering his challenge.
•There aren’t words to describe how ridiculous it is that Stephanie acts as a “sweet mother and daughter” pitching WWE Network during one part of the show and then walks out as the arrogant rich girl with heel Triple H later talking down to Bryan. I mean, what sensible wrestling philosophy doesn’t see that as just insanely contradictory and counterproductive. Her and Triple H’s characters are maybe the worst two in history because of this. The point of being a heel is to get fans to pay to see you get beat up, so why send mixed signals within the same show?
•WWE cleverly until the final seconds of the show made it seem like the scene was set for Punk to come out, which again managed the crowd’s rebelliousness because they held out hope until the end. When the show ended, it was too late for them “riot,” although by then they had seen a good show and were worn out and didn’t seem to have a ton of fight left in them.