SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The following report was originally published five years ago on PWTorch.com…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
APRIL 14, 2014
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
The Raw pre-game show started with an “In Memory” message for Ultimate Warrior. WWE faded to Josh Mathews at the Raw pre-show panel. Mathews delivered a serious message about Warrior, then Booker T, Sgt. Slaughter, and Alex Riley were introduced at the panel location. Riley said Warrior seemed to be “at peace” last Monday on Raw.
Mathews recapped Warrior’s final speech, then WWE faded to the usual pre-show intro. Back to the standard Raw pre-game show, WWE hyped Daniel Bryan’s WWE Title victory at WM30, The Shield vs. The Authority feud, Paige’s first night as Divas champion tonight on Raw, and John Cena responding to the Wyatts.
Backstage, Renee Young brought in new Divas champion Paige, who will be in action tonight. Paige said she’s going into tonight ready to fight and she’s interested to see who steps up to her. Back at the pre-show panel, Booker said she’s like Miley Cyrus bringing the wrecking ball to the Divas champion. Mathews returned fire by noting Paige isn’t a Cyrus fan.
After a vignette on Adam Rose aired, the pre-show panel broke down the IC Title no. 1 contender tournament pairings. Mathews then fed to comments from IC Champion Big E. discussing the tournament. Big E. said he loves tournaments, then called this his biggest challenge as of yet.
This week’s Raw started with a shot of the WWE locker room standing on-stage as Michael Cole read a message about paying tribute to Ultimate Warrior tonight. Vince McMahon was in the middle of the locker room line-up looking solemn, then WWE continued to pan right to reveal John Cena next to Nikki Bella, then Triple H & Stephanie McMahon standing a few people over holding hands. Jerry Lawler introduced a video package on Warrior.
The video package documented Warrior’s career highlights. Included were soundbytes from Hulk Hogan, Hunter, and Stephanie. WWE included a clip of Warrior’s final promo last Monday. Next were clips from his Hall of Fame of speech, then Warrior on-stage at WM30, shaking the ropes on Raw, and Warrior saying farewell on Raw. It must be impossible to process for casual WWE TV viewers who watched Warrior last Monday, did not know about Warrior dying last Tuesday, and WWE tributing his life this week.
Back in the arena, Lawler asked the crowd to pause in silence for the 10-Bell Salute. The bell sounded ten times as WWE zoomed in on McMahon, then Orton, Hunter & Stephanie, Sheamus, Natalya and Sin Cara, Big Show, Cody Rhodes crying, and Kane standing stoically. Lawler said now they will celebrate Warrior’s life. Warrior’s music played and the locker room clapped it up as WWE cut to various crowd shots of fans wearing Warrior masks that were passed out before the show. On the stage, Hunter led the locker room in a “Warrior” chant, which the crowd joined in on. No sign of WWE World champ Daniel Bryan.
WWE cut to the announcers as a fan on the front row held up a visible “I Heart Sting” in the background. Michael Cole announced The Usos vs. Batista & Randy Orton in a re-match from last week, but not for the Tag Titles. Also tonight, will The Authority strike back against The Shield? Plus, the eight-man tournament to determine the next #1 contender to the IC Title. [c]
-WWE Fact: Over 125,000 fans from all 50 states and over 35 countries attended WWE events during WrestleMania Week in New Orleans.
(WK Reax: If WWE is going to count fans twice if they attended HOF, Fan Axxess, and WM, why not count the States 3x & say “fans from all 150 states?”)
(1) ROB VAN DAM vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO — IC Title Tournament round one
Cole noted that RVD is a six-time IC Champ. JBL said regarding RVD: “They call it educated feet. It’s the dumbest phrase I’ve ever heard. What do they do? Read?” On the floor, Del Rio sent RVD back-first into the guardrail. Raw cut to break with Del Rio in control. [c]
RVD finished Del Rio with a Five-Star Frog Splash.
WINNER: RVD at 10:35.
-Cole said Daniel Bryan was on his honeymoon with Brie Bella, then threw to a video package on Bryan’s WWE Title win celebration last week and everything else that happened with him on Raw.
-Backstage, Orton shook hands with a smiling Triple and Stephanie McMahon. Then Batista walked in and shook hands with everyone. Lawler said when those four get together, good things don’t happen to Daniel Bryan.
-Cole threw to SummerSlam 1988 featuring Ultimate Warrior ending the two-year-plus IC Title reign of Honky Tonk Man.
-They threw to a Toys ‘R’ Us commercial spot with a kid picking out WWE toys with his mom. In walked Sheamus, then Big E. They promoted some contest they’re running. [c]
-They went to the summit with Hunter and Steph talking to Orton and Batista. He said Bryan’s not there, and they have “a bigger problem on their hands” in The Shield. He said if they’re willing to attack him on principle, they probably won’t let Batista or Orton anywhere near Bryan and that WWE Title. He said he doesn’t know if anyone can stop them. Steph said she knows who can stop them – and she’s looking at them. Hunter said if they’re all on the same page, nobody can stop them. Batista said that all sounds great, but all he wants is to be the champ. Orton said he agrees with Dave and therefore Hunter is on his own. Batista said The Shield is his problem, not theirs. As they walked away, Steph then told Hunter she has an idea.
(2) GOLDUST & CODY RHODES vs. RYBACK & CURTIS AXEL
Cody nailed a missile dropkick for a two count leading to chaos in the ring. Goldust went flying, then Cody smashed Axel with the Disaster Kick. He tried one for Ryback, but Ryback intercepted with the Meathook Clothesline. It was good for the pin and the win.
WINNERS: Ryback & Axel at 5:58 when Ryback pinned Cody.
-The announcers hyped a one week free trial of WWE Network including pushing WrestleMania 30 Fallout and the debut of Legends House. [c]
-A vignette aired on Bo Dallas, who said: “Today is your day to shine. Make it the best day you’ve had. After all, today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.”
(WK Reax: The announcers always gave away the gag here by explaining the joke. They stopped short, but JBL endorsed it and then Cole and Lawler had to hold back their feelings about Bo being sappy or over-the-top or insincere or whatever. Let this play out without telling people ahead of time how they’re supposed to feel.)
(3) PAIGE vs. ALICIA FOX
The announcers slipped in a plug for WWE’s U.K. TV partner, Sky Sports, noting Paige’s family watched her title victory back home in England last week. Paige landed offense early on, but Fox took control and knocked Paige to the floor. Fox continued the assault back in the ring, knocking down Paige. Paige fought back and applied an inverted Sharpshooter that stretched Fox into submission.
WINNER: Paige at 3:30 via tapout.
(WK Reax: Good move to give Paige an actual competitive longer non-fluke win so she could establish she could wrestle. Why not, though, include a brief backstage promo with Fox to set it up a bit?)
(4) THE USOS vs. BATISTA & RANDY ORTON
The Usos came out with Ultimate Warrior mask t-shirts. Jimmy had his face painted like Warrior. A few minutes into the match, The Shield attacked Batista and Orton, which drew a huge pop. Batista ended up standing alone in the ring surrounded by The Shield. He tried to fight them off, but Reigns gave him a Superman punch and knocked him to the floor.
WINNERS: Batista & Orton via DQ at 4:10.
-Another Ultimate Moment aired with an extended clip from 1990 of Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 6. [c]
-A commercial aired for “Total Divas” where one Diva’s dream comes true and another Diva’s life is in complete shambles.
-Backstage Batista and Orton bumped into Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in the hallway. Hunter shook his head and said softly, “Told you.” Then he walked away. Batista and Orton shot each other looks.
-Paul Heyman walked onto the stage and introduced himself as “the advocate for the conquerer of The Streak.” He said he knows the fans think he’s going to drive that fact home until hell freezes over. He then repeated that Lesnar conquered the Streak several more times. Heyman commented on freeze-frames of Lesnar beating Taker at WM30. He said it’s ironic how it was a loss to his client that has truly immortalized the Undertaker. He then anointed someone new to be the next top tier talent in WWE. He presented Cesaro. They walked to the ring without music, perhaps to prevent a pop for his intro song.
(5) MARK HENRY vs. CESARO (w/Paul Heyman) – IC Title Tournament first round
A few minutes in, Cesaro hit a European uppercut from behind, then gave Henry a flying uppercut off the second rope to his chin. He followed with the Neutralizer for the win. They showed Big E watching on a monitor backstage during the match. JBL asked if Cole and Lawler still had any doubts about Cesaro.
WINNER: Cesaro at 3:18. [c]
(2nd Screen: Byron Saxton threw to a clip of Big E capturing the IC Title on Nov. 18, 2013 from Curtis Axel.)
-Triple H and Steph told Brad Maddox to find The Shield and tell them they have a match later on Raw. Maddox asked if he should tell them who their opponents are. Steph said no.
(6) RUSEV vs. XAVIER WOODS
Rusev dominated, then applied The Accolade Camel Clutch submission. Xavier tapped, then Rusev contemplated further damage, but R-Truth hit the ring to make the save.
WINNER: Rusev in 0:45.
-A Warrior vs. Rick Rude clip aired from their cage match at SummerSlam on Aug. 27, 1990.
(WK Reax: Rick Rude was tasked with carrying Warrior to acceptable matches and, really, it might be his greatest accomplishment as a pro wrestler.)
(7) SHEAMUS vs. JACK SWAGGER (w/Zeb Colter) — IC Title Tournament first round
Sheamus came off the top with the battering ram for a nearfall. He tried to follow with a slingshot from the ring apron, but Swagger countered with the Patriot Lock. Sheamus teased tapping out, but powered out just in time. Sheamus sold the effects, then Swagger bum-rushed him out of the ring. On the floor, Swagger smashed Sheamus’s knee/leg, then tossed him back into the ring. But, Sheamus was ready for Swagger, who ran right into a desperation Brogue Kick. It was good for the pin and the win, then Sheamus went back to selling the effects of the leg attack.
WINNER: Sheamus at 6:55.
(2nd Screen: Nikki talked about being a sister-in-law now.)
(8) DAMIEN SANDOW vs. THE BIG SHOW
Sandow did mic work before the match. Show’s music interrupted, but Sandow kept talking. When Show entered the ring, Sandow told Show to be quiet while he finished. Sandow said fans should reach out and pray they can touch him because he deserves and has earned their praise. Sandow walked up to Show’s face and asked for his thoughts. Show said nothing. Sandow began saying, “I deserve it and no one can say I do not deserve it. Deep down you know I’m telling the truth.” He said he is a future champion and when people see him, they see greatness. This built up to a Big Show KO punch. JBL, the heel announcer, cheered Show giving Sandow the KO punch. “There is a God!” he declared. I don’t get JBL’s constitution as an announcer. He’s so randomly arbitrary.
WINNER: No match actually occurred.
-The Wyatts backstage said they’re next. [c]
(2nd Screen: TNA World Champion Santino along with Emma were interviewed by… wait, that’s definitely not Jeremy Borash!)
-Cole plugged Big Show vs. Swagger on Main Event tomorrow night live on WWE Network.
The Wyatts’s theme played and Bray told Birmingham that they’re here. The Wyatts then made their way down to the ring in the dark. The dark lighting remained in-play after the music stopped. Bray cut a promo on society, but said he is different. He told everyone to understand that he has never once lied to the people. But, they know who has lied. John Cena, who has made a career out of lying to everyone. “Don’t be fooled. He is no man. He is beast,” Bray said.
Bray removed his hat and told the kids in a sweet voice that he won’t let Cena do this to them anymore. Hat back on and Bray angrily vowed to give Cena that one last push off the cliff. He said Abigail will be his sword during this crusade, but he does not wish to slay this monster. Right now, he just wants the monster to come out and play. “How ‘bout it, John?” he said.
Cena came onto the stage. He said he wants to have fun. He said Wyatt has tried to bring out the monster in him, but it doesn’t exist. He said if he could just get the Wyatts to a happy hour, they’d be the life of the party. He said to Sheep Mask Rowan, he thinks he’d have jokes for days. He said Harper would go streaking. He said to Bray “it takes a man’s man to wear white pants.” He made fun of his Hawaiian shirt and Michael Jackson leather glove. He said maybe he get him a few drinks and loosen him up and get him around some of the ladies in the crowd. He said the fans like to have fun, so it’s time to put a smile on everyone’s faces. Cena continued his stand-up and said he got on the “Google machine” and found Bray’s sister, Abigail. Up went a picture of Bray in a bonnet. He showed a picture of Harper’s head on a baby body in a diaper. Cole went into his “I’m paid to laugh at this stuff” chuckle.
Wyatt fired back at him briefly. Wyatt said anytime a serious threat gets in Cena’s face, all he knows to do is make jokes about it. Cena then challenged him to a cage match at Extreme Rules because he said without his family “he cannot back up what he says.” He said without his two “crazy Santa Claus wanna be’s, you’re not the eater of the world, you’re the eater of the world’s largest Cinnabon.” Wyatt retorted and then sang “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”
(WK Reax: Bray was really good there. Cena was playing to the eight year olds, but pretty much anyone else was just rolling their eyes at that one hoping no one walked in the room and saw them watching that. Cena at his absolutely most tone-deaf.)
-Cole showed Tweets that Fandango sent out breaking up with Summer Rae on Twitter and replacing her with his new dance partner, Layla.
(9) FANDANGO & LAYLA vs. SANTINO & EMMA
An inset interview aired during Fandango’s entrance. He said he didn’t blame Summer for falling in love with him. He said it was the perfect example of “It’s not me, it’s you.”
WINNERS: Layla & Fandango when Layla pinned Emma.
-Stephanie chewed out Kane for his conduct last week. She revved up into a rant and said he failed three times. When Kane suggested she was being less than objective, she said he’s a pathetic weak shell of what he used to be. She said he used to make children scream and women cry at his very presence, so what happened? Kane leaped to his feet and began heavy breathing. His old mask just happened to be on display next to them. He stared at it and held it up. A small “Put it on” chant broke out. Kane said he’d eviscerate Daniel Bryan and send him to the depths of hell. [c]
(2nd Screen: Dolph Ziggler promo.)
-The announcers pushed Warrior Week on WWE Network with his Greatest Matches on Tuesday, WrestleMania Rewind on WM6 and WM6 itself featuring Hogan vs. Warrior on Wednesday, Warrior’s biography on Thursday, and Legends of WrestleMania on Friday. Cole then threw to a clip of Warrior’s lines last week about how “every man’s heart one day beats its final beat.”
-The announcers reviewed the IC Tournament brackets.
(10) DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. WADE BARRETT — IC Title Tournament first round
(WK Reax: JBL, who ripped on Sandow earlier for droning on and on and applauded Big Show punching him, praised Barrett and said he loves his Bad News schtick. I just don’t get JBL at all. He’s so arbitrary and random as to have become irrelevant.)
They cut to a break mid-match. [c]
Back from the break, they were still in a chinlock so the crowd began a “C.M. Punk” chant. That is now code for “Fans are restless, pick up the pace.” A couple minutes later, “This is awesome!” rang out. Cole ignored the Punk chant, but said the awesome chant was fans showing respect for the match. The pace did pick up nicely and climaxed with the Bad News Bullhammer for the win.
WINNER: Barrett 12:12.
-Afterward Barrett said he is afraid he has some bad news. He said he will be their next IC Champion.
-The announcers reviewed the semi-finals: Barrett vs. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. RVD.
(WK Reax: Could Heyman join RVD and turn against Cesaro in the semi-finals, thus cementing Cesaro as a babyface? Probably not, as it’d make Cesaro look weak for being dumped.)
-A vignette aired on Kane.
(WK Reax: Kudos to the WWE production team for putting that elaborate Kane-in-a-mask vignette together 10 min after that Steph-Kane segment backstage.) [c]
-Cole plugged Batista vs. Sheamus on Smackdown this Friday.
(11) THE SHIELD vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO & JACK SWAGGER & FANDANGO & 3MB & TITUS O’NEIL & CURTIS AXEL & RYBACK & RUSEV & BAD NEWS BARRETT
Somehow the heels all charged the ring, but only Heath Slater ended up in the ring. The crowd chanted “Shield! Shield! Shield!” It doesn’t have a ring to it. A few minutes in things broke down at ringside and the ref called for the bell.
WINNERS: No contest.
-Seth Rollins landed a running flip dive over the top rope onto the crowd at ringside. The Shield then reunited mid-ring and fended off anyone who tried to run in for a while. Eventually they were overwhelmed, though. Then, once the Shield were down, Evolution’s music and logo appeared on the big screen. Out walked Triple H, Batista, and Orton. All off the mid-card heels left and all that remained were the battered Shield. Evolution entered the ring and began to add more stomps. Reigns showed some life, but Orton gave him an RKO. Batista gave Reigns a BatistaBomb. Ambrose took a BatistaBomb-RKO combination. Timing wasn’t great on it as Orton barely grazed Ambrose on the takedown. After some trash-talking, including Triple H telling the Shield to believe in Evolution, their music played.
(WK Reax: The finish felt flat, and Evolution didn’t garner a reaction that said this was a Big Moment.)
(Note: James Caldwell contributed some match and segment details to this report.)