The following report was originally published five years ago on PWTorch.com…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MARCH 17, 2014
SAN ANTONIO, TEX.
LIVE ON USA NETWORK
[Hour One] After clips of last week’s angle with Daniel Bryan and The Authority, Justin Roberts introduced the show and introduced Triple H who stood mid-ring. He said when all is said and done, the fans will be to blame for crushing the Yes Movement. He said they forced his hand. He said he’s had a week to calm down and reflect on last week’s show. He said he will take care of business in the ring at WrestleMania. He said he has a few things to say to Daniel Bryan in person later in the show. He said he will do it “man to man.” When he said “man” the first time, he stood tall; when he said “man” the second time, he bent over as if speaking to a child, a dig at Bryan’s height.
Before Hunter could leave, Batista’s music played. Batista looked irked. When his music stopped, the fans booed. Hunter looked like he was in trouble, fearing Batista’s wrath for adding Bryan to the match. Batista said he may have problems with Bryan, but he has more problems with him. “Who the hell do you think you are, giving that billy-goat-faced troll the opportunity to be in my match, my main event at WrestleMania. That’s not what I signed up for.” He said he came back to win the WWE Title, and he won the Royal Rumble to earn a one-on-one match against the champion. He said he didn’t come back to have a Triple Threat and be in a match where he doesn’t have to get beat to lose. “I’m not cool with that, man. What the hell were you thinking?”
Hunter asked why he’s worried, because that must mean he thinks Bryan has a chance in hell to beat him. Randy Orton’s music then played. He walked out with both belts. Orton said he has to agree with Big Dave. He said even making it a mere possibility that the main event could be a Triple Threat match was a mistake. Triple H said that is not going to happen because he will beat Bryan. The crowd began a disjointed “Yes! Yes!” chant. Orton asked for a chance to do what Big Dave couldn’t do last week – he wanted Bryan one-on-one in a no-DQ match.
Orton said the reason fans are cheering Bryan is because they don’t believe in Batista. He said when he left, nobody cared, and when he came back, people cared even less. “If you had just lived up to your hype, we wouldn’t be in this situation right now,” he said. Batista fired back that the reason fans like Bryan is because “as WWE Champion, you suck!” Batista said the only reason Orton has the titles is because of Triple H’s support. He called him a paper champion and said he doesn’t deserve those belts. Hunter tried to get between them as the argument picked up. Orton shoved Hunter. Hunter began to leave. Batista asked where he was going because he has to fix things. Hunter said he is sick of everything around there including Bryan getting cheered. He said he’s sick of Hollywood movie stars coming back telling him they know better what’s best for WWE than he does. He looked at Orton and said he’s sick of technically gifted guys who are so screwed up in the head that they can’t win a match without him holding their hands. Triple H said “the old man” was right when he’s said the only one you can trust in the world is yourself. Triple H said there is going to be a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania, but it won’t include Bryan. He said he is changing the stip to whoever wins between him and Bryan enters the match. “Can he do that?” gasped Jerry Lawler. JBL said, “Of course he can.” Lawler said, “You talk about throwing your weight around.” Orton then gave Batista an RKO mid-ring.
(WK Reax: Strong opening segment. I’m not sure Triple H helped WrestleMania’s buyrate, though, by basically giving fans reason to believe that he will use his power (storyline power or backstage real-life power) to insert himself in the main event in place of Bryan. There will be fans who just don’t believe he can resist. However, this creates a new level of doubt among fans who began to think Bryan was a shoe-in to beat Hunter because they figured there was no way WWE would end WM30 with Batista vs. Orton. It’s more believable that WM30 would end with Orton vs. Batista vs. Hunter, though, so it adds uncertainty to the outcome of Bryan vs. Hunter. That’s not a bad thing, though, as long as WWE pitches it correctly.)
They showed the Usos warming up backstage for their match.
(WK Reax: The commercial break included the best WWE Network commercial yet, featuring Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and John Cena – top babyfaces bridging three major eras of WWE – pitching the Network. That’s much, much better than Stephanie McMahon talking about sharing matches of her dad and husband with her kids. This new commercial included a pitch that the Network subscription includes WrestleMania 30. They need to stress more that fans can watch it live via the Network, though, not just on delay as some might assume at that price. They just can’t take for granted that their entire fanbase fully understands what a good deal it is compared to paying full price for the live PPVs.)
On the WWE.com’s second screen experience during the break. Rene Young interviewed the Usos.
(WK Reax: These backstage interviews really belong on Raw. They are so vital to building up interest in the match and getting characters over for mid-carders who often have limited time to create connections with the fanbase. Rene is so good at the interviews, it’s a shame a small fraction of the fans see these.)
(1) The Real Americans (w/Zeb Coulter) beat The Usos at 12:20. Cesaro finished Jey Uso with the Neutralizer. Good match. These teams have good chemistry and these two teams more than any others in recent years are putting the tag division back on the map. The crowd is into both teams.
(Quotebook – Jerry Lawler: “If I wanted to impress girls, I’d do pull-ups. I’d pull up in a Corvette or a Mercedes.”)
Michael Cole, JBL, and Lawler threw to a clip of the new WWE Slam City cartoon.
(WK Reax: Why do cartoon wrestlers, or action-figures of wrestlers, always have to look like they’re on massive quantities of steroids?)
On WWE.com during the commercial, Byron Saxton interviewed Dolph Ziggler who talked about this being the time to step up and stand out and prove to the world he is Mr. WrestleMania by winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. I was distracted most of the interview by whatever is going on with his hair – braids, two colors, pony tail, slicked back, ugh.
Cole hyped a big update on WWE Network later tonight. Then they threw to clips from Smackdown of Kane vs. Big Show with The Shield in Kane’s corner, per his orders, so he could show them how it’s done.
Backstage Kane approached The Shield. He said things got out of hand on Smackdown and they all made bad choices. Dean Ambrose got snarky with Kane. Kane said he needs a united Shield by his side. They need to prove that he can count on them, because if he can’t, they cease being an asset to The Authority. He asked if he could count on them. Rollins said yes, but unconvincingly. Kane said if they fail, they will find out how replaceable they are.
Hornswoggle handed out St. Patrick’s Day gifts to the crowd. Wade Barrett was raised on a platform to deliver some bad news. He said most people will be getting inebriated and vomiting all night, then wake up with a hangover and realize they’ve done some truly shameful things, and then spend the rest of their lives regretting them. Lawler asked Cole if that describes his evening.
Sheamus’s ring entrance took place.
On WWE.com during the break, Saxton interviewed Titus O’Neil who was dressed in a St. Patrick’s Day top-hat and tie. He has so much personality, and only a fraction of Raw’s typical viewing audience gets to see it.
(2) Sheamus beat Titus O’Neil at 4:07. Christian joined the announcers on commentary. He announced he’d be in the WM30 battle royal. Titus threw Hornswoggle into the ring. That opened up Sheamus to rally against Titus for the win.
(WK Reax: Christian could make a good full time color commentator when his wrestling days are over.)
Renee interviewed Sheamus in the ring and asked how he plans to spend the rest of his St. Patrick’s Day. He said it’d be his honor to enter the battle royal, too. Christian vowed on commentary he’d win the trophy. Christian charged into the ring and attacked Sheamus. He gave him the Kill Switch at ringside.
On the WWE second screen experience, Ricardo introduced Xavier Woods for a promo.
Next Week: Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine will be at Raw next week.
[Hour Two] John Cena made his ring entrance. He said he’s been in WWE for 12 years and he’s had over 3,500 matches. He said he and the fans are now like an old married couple. “Sometimes we get along, sometimes, yeesh, not so much.” Cena said his biggest fear is that the fans are starting to listen to what Bray Wyatt says. He said Bray is different than any other man he’s ever faced because the object has always been “who is the best in the ring and getting in here to prove it.” He said Bray doesn’t give a damn about proving he’s the best, he just wants to destroy. He said WrestleMania isn’t about fighting Bray Wyatt, but rather than it’s about fighting for every scar he got on his body and every injury he came back from and every man, woman, and child who ever believed in anything he has ever said. He said he will fight for his legacy at WrestleMania. The Wyatt Family interrupted on the big screen.
Bray said children believe in super heroes because they want to believe the world is good and they haven’t lived long enough to understand that everything is a lie. He said his childhood wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. He said he’s got scars, too, and he has learned that everything he loves in life will eventually wither away and die. He said he could be just like Cena and sign autographs and kiss babies and sell merchandise, and then go home to his plastic girlfriend at his castle, hide behind laughter, and tell jokes and act like he feels great about himself, but he is different than Cena and different than anyone he has ever faced. He said at WM30, he doesn’t care if he dies as long as the world sees Cena the way he does. “Follow the buzzards,” he said.
(WK Reax: Bray is moving more toward resembling Raven’s gimmick than Jake Roberts’s gimmick.)
On WWE.com during the break, Saxton interviewed Alberto Del Rio backstage. He vowed to win the Andre battle royal.
(3) Daniel Bryan pinned Randy Orton at 14:28 in a no DQ match. Orton hit Bryan with a kendo stick at ringside a few minutes in, then he backdropped Bryan onto the announce table without removing the monitors first. Orton yelled that it’s no DQ so there is no bell to ring. They cut to a break as Orton beat up Bryan on an announcer chair. Orton continued to dominate after the break. The announcers talked about whether it would be Bryan or Triple H added to the WWE Title match at WM30. Bryan eventually made a comeback alternating between roundkicks and kendo stick shots to Orton leading to a near fall. Back at ringside, Bryan gave a running dropkick to Orton, sending him backward into the so-called time keepers area. Does anyone really keep time back there? Orton came back with a chairshot to Bryan’s back. As Orton went for another chairshot, Batista ran out and speared Orton. Bryan then gave Batista running dropkick and then covered Orton and scored the three count. Good match, as you’d expect between these two.
After the match Batista gave Orton a BatistaBomb. The crowd didn’t know how to react, but mostly booed. Other chanted “One more time!”
They went to the announcers who stressed that WrestleMania 30 will be available on the WWE Network. Cole thanked everyone who has taken advantage of the free one-week trial. He said that trial ends Saturday at Midnight ET. JBL then signed up for the Network on what Cole called his “PC” (specifically a Macbook Air, by the way). They did a much better job explaining the nuances of how to sign up for the Network, but then login on the Network devices. Lawler fudged his attempt to show how easy it is to access content on WWE Network on an iPad. Cole said, “You can’t take him anywhere.” Well, you certainly can’t trust him to get through a WWE Network plug without a flub of some kind.
Paul Heyman walked onto the stage and said he had a message for the Undertaker. He said his client Brock Lesnar has proven his dominance against the same wrestlers Undertaker has defeated at recent WrestleManias. Heyman threw to a video package showing Undertaker’s recent matches and then showing Lesnar “effortlessly manhandling those who have gone face-to-face with Death” and taken Undertaker to the limit. The narrator closed: “At WrestleMania, (Lesnar) will conquer death itself.”
The announcers talked about what Heyman said. Lawler said this is the most nervous he’s been. JBL said all streaks are meant to be broken.
They went backstage to Stephanie McMahon scolding Triple H for inserting himself into the Triple Threat match. Hunter rubbed his face as he had to explain himself to his wife. She asked if he has forgotten that Bryan disrespected them and their family. “He spit in the eye of the McMahon family legacy!” she said. Hunter said the match is already made. She then asked what happens if he becomes WWE Champion? “What happens to business, Mr. COO? Then what happens to our family when you’re on the road? Have you even thought about that? Are you even thinking at all tonight?” Hunter said maybe for the first time in a long time he’s thinking really clearly. “Leave it alone and let me take care of it,” he said. Steph stood up and looked down at him and said, “You better!”
During the USA Network commercial on WWE.com, they showed Sheamus promoting Totino’s, a new WWE sponsor.
(4) Goldust (w/Cody Rhodes) beat Fandango (w/Summer Rae) at 5:10. During their ring entrance, Cody and Goldust danced together briefly, mocking Fandango and Summer Rae. Goldust did his strange gyrations and scared Summer Rae off the ring apron into the arms of Fandango at ringside. Goldust avoided a top rope legdrop by Fandango and then quickly finished him off. Goldust sold being hurt afterward and he kicked the bottom rope in frustration as he clutched his ribcage. He also was bleeding above his right eye a bit. He might have been frustrated with a botched move by Fandango, maybe a minute before the finish when there was an odd landing on a dive off the second rope by Goldust. The ref checked on his condition at that point. Goldust didn’t go up correctly right away on a subsequent suplex attempt, and then they went right to the finish. He even seemed to walk over to shoot a dirty look to Fandango at ringside afterward as he clutched his ribcage. The last thing Goldust wants right now is to be sidelined headed into WrestleMania 30.
They showed Kane heading to the entrance tunnel.
A commercial hyped the start of “Total Divas” season two on Sunday on E!
On WWE.com, Saxton interviewed The Funkadactyls backstage. Naomi talked about her recovery from a broken eye socket.
Cole hyped that Undertaker would appear live on WWE Main Event tomorrow night, which would air live on WWE Network. Cole noted it’s Taker’s first-ever appearance on Main Event.
Kane stood in the ring and said his investigation concluded that Bryan could not have acted alone last week in gathering all of the fans for the Occupy Raw movement. He then looked at Lawler and told Lawler to join him inside the ring. Lawler wondered what that was all about. JBL said because they were in Memphis last week, everyone knows he was guilty and he should admit it. The Shield walked out and made Lawler get into the ring. Cole asked JBL to help Lawler. JBL said it’s his job to do commentary, “but you can go help if you want.” The Shield led Lawler into the ring by force. JBL said he hoped Lawler wouldn’t get hurt too bad, but he deserved this and shouldn’t have done what he did.
[Hour Three] Kane said since Lawler is not in ring shape, he won’t enjoy what he’s about to see, then added, “Well, maybe a little.” Lawler looked worried. Seth Rollins approached Lawler and said he has a good feeling Bryan is not coming to save him. Then the Shield turned toward Kane and let Lawler escape. JBL gasped, “What!?” The fans chanted “Yes!” Kane shook his head no and insisted The Shield listen to him. Kane took a swing at Roman Reigns. The Shield swarmed him. Reigns speared Kane. The crowd didn’t pop like they should have. Then they gave Kane the triple powerbomb. Kane did great selling the impact. JBL said they’ve gone rogue.
(WK Reax: Interesting, after weeks of teasing dissension among the Shield members, they decide to turn them all babyface before WrestleMania. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as a path toward actually turning one or two heel against Reigns, though, before too long.)
(5) The Funkadactyls beat Tamina & A.J. Lee at 3:40. The Bellas joined the announcers on commentary to talk about “Total Divas” and also their appearance on the series finale of “Psych” on USA Network. JBL offered to be on Total Divas anytime and he’d pay his own way. Naomi landed a split-legged moonsault on A.J. to win. After the match, A.J. asked Tamina what is wrong with her. She blamed her for her loss. She threw a fit and Tamina looked hurt, but then she shoved A.J. to the mat.
Cole threw to the announcement that Mr. T was the latest person in the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame class. That was a fun video package on Mr. T and WrestleMania 1 hype. Mick Foley said, “I don’t know if we needed Liberace, I don’t know if we needed Muhammad Ali. Having Mr. T in the match was really important.”
On WWE.com Saxton interviewed Darren Young about entering the Andre the Giant Battle Royal.
They replayed Hogan’s announcement of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal last week. Then Big Show announced he’s entering the battle royal this year to show what being a giant is really about.
(6) Big Show & Dolph Ziggler & Big E. & Mark Henry beat Ryback & Curtis Axel & Damien Sandow & Alberto Del Rio at 11:57. They cut to an early commercial break. In the end, Big Show pinned Del Rio after a chokeslam.
(WK Reax: That was a ring full of past or hopeful future WrestleMania main event wrestlers, and all eight are “relegated” to the Andre the Giant Battle Royal this year. When Curt Hennig was Curtis Axel’s age, Hennig was wrestling Lex Luger at WrestleMania 9.)
Renee Young interviewed Batista as he was headed out of the parking garage. He said he will leave WrestleMania with what he came back to WWE for, the WWE World Hvt. Championship.
(WK Reax: I really do like that Batista returned, not “to entertain the millions and millions,” but distinctly to win the WWE Title.)
On WWE.com during the break, Renee interviewed Xavier Woods and they argued over who had the best WrestleMania 18 match. They agreed Maven is “the man.” There is some real chemistry between them.
Lawler plugged that Cena will face Luke Harper on Smackdown this week. The Smackdown rating dips below 2.0 and they call Cena for help.
A video package aired on the Wyatt Family.
(7) Bray Wyatt (w/Luke Harper, Rowan) beat Kofi Kingston at 2:55.
(WK Reax: Remember when Kofi was doing that stuff with Orton on Raw and some thought Kofi had earned a new push. As I suspected, it was more about Orton, and Kofi was just the guy available to play the supporting role, because Kofi’s right back to where he was – a likable, reliable utility player going nowhere otherwise.)
They announced Arnold Schwarzenegger would be guest host of Raw next.
[Overrun] Triple H stood in the ring and invited Bryan to the ring. He thanked Bryan for being there. He said it’s not a popular decision to stand out there and talk to him in his circles. He said he’d be fortunate if his wife talks to him tonight. He said from SummerSlam until now, a lot has gone on between them. He said everything he has done to this moment to him he did because he felt it was “best for business.” He insisted none of it was personal. He then repeated both points again as if he might have forgotten his next scripted lines. He said doesn’t expect him or anyone to understand the burden of decisions he makes day in and day out that he thinks are best for WWE. He said last week he crossed a line you don’t come back from, but he’s letting it be water under the bridge. He said it doesn’t matter what led them to this moment, all that matters is that they are in the moment. He said it feels like this was the way it was supposed to be.
Triple H said when they fight, he won’t apologize to him for what he does, nor should Bryan apologize to him. He said they will do what they do better than anyone else on the planet at WM30, but when all is said in done, he crossed a line, so he has no choice but to put an end to all of this. He said he doesn’t necessarily want to, but he has no choice. He said he has to put an end to this “little Yes Movement” and the “uprising.” He said if he has to put an end to Bryan, then no apologies, that’s what he has to do. He said as a man he has to look him in the eye and let him know there are no hard feelings on all of this and may the best man win. He offered a handshake. Bryan shook his head no. Triple H said if he were Bryan, he’d do the exact same thing, or probably worse.
He said before Bryan left, he wanted to say that he has dumped a lot on him since SummerSlam, yet he’s still standing there. The crowd chanted “Daniel Bryan!” Triple H said they chant for him because they respect him because he has walked through a mountain of crap he has dumped on him, and nearly anyone else would have folded and took their ball and gone home (C.M. Punk?). Ironically, at that very moment a “C.M. Punk!” briefly broke out. Triple H said he has earned his respect.
Stephanie marched onto the stage and disagreed that Bryan earned any respect. She said he endangered the lives of everyone last week with his protest. She said she is formally pressing charges. “You spit in the face of my family and you will suffer the consequences!” She called for police to come out and arrest Bryan. Isn’t Memphis out of the jurisdiction of San Antonio cops? Steph walked toward the ring and told Hunter that if he isn’t man enough to do something about it, she would. They argued. Steph asked what that was all about when he said he respects Bryan. She said she didn’t want to embarrass him like this, but he mishandled their business. Six cops then took Bryan down hard and handcuffed him. Bryan yelled for them to let go of him.
Suddenly Hunter and Steph shared a smile. Hunter walked back to the ring. He told the cops to get off of Bryan because that’s not what he wanted. He said they need to back off because, after all, they’re not even real cops. Steph began to crack up. Hunter said, “And besides, I’m really looking forward to doing this myself.” Cole said, “What a set up!” Hunter attacked Bryan. The only thing missing was word that all of Bryan’s friends were called to a meeting at a local hotel for a mandatory talent meeting at 10 p.m. CT, explaining why none of them ran out for the save. Steph yelled, “Tear his head off!” Bryan tried to fight back with headbutts, but Hunter overwhelmed him. Steph yelled “Drown him!” when he was near a tub of ice water to chill water bottles. Steph did mocking “Yes!” arm movements. Steph slapped Bryan. Bryan shouted, “You hit like a girl!” She slapped him a third and fourth and fifth time. Hunter put Bryan’s head against the ringpost and then a swung a chair (which mostly hit the ringpost, but it made a big noise). Steph gave him a sinister stare and had a private chat with him. Then Hunter finished him off with a Pedigree. They ran very long, 16 minutes past the top of hour at this point. Steph stood in the ring and did mocking “Yes” arm movements. Then she gave Hunter a big kiss on the lips. Hunter said this is their show and this belongs to them. He insisted there is no “Yes Movement.” Triple H’s music played and Steph dangled Hunter’s necklace over Bryan’s face as if hypnotizing him and then they went off the air.
(WK Reax: Tremendous performances by Triple H and Stephanie. When they are sticking to being strictly heels, they can be really effective. They play off of each other well as a sinster power couple. The way they shared that knowing smile as Triple H was about to go to the ring to reveal this dispute with Stephanie was all a ruse was great. I think Bryan fans will be paying money to watch Bryan get revenge on Triple H at WrestleMania. The planting of the seed that Triple H could book himself – or use his power – to end up winning the WWE Title at WM30 creates that doubt in the minds of Bryan’s fans that he is destined to beat Triple H and enter the triple threat match. The downside to this was the crowd was below average in terms of enthusiasm and reacting to everything, which brought the intensity down.)