KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (11/14)
(Search "pwtorch" to subscribe in podcast app)
The following is Wade Keller’s WWE Raw report published on PWTorch.com ten years ago this week…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JULY 6, 2009
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
-After the Raw opening montage, Michael Cole introduced the show and said this is a special night on cable television as Triple H vs. John Cena would main event the show and determine who’d be the no. 1 contender and get a title shot at the Night of the Champions.
-Lilian Garcia introduced Ted DiBiase. The “Million Dollar Man” walked out onto the stage in a suit with the Million Dollar Belt. He did his signature laugh and then out walked Ted DiBiase (Jr.) and Cody Rhodes. DiBiase did his signature laugh a half dozen times over and over in the midst of his opening statement. He said he has been hired to be in charge this week. He then revealed that he was told there will be no title matches before Night of the Champions – so he’s not exactly in total charge, is he? He said that doesn’t mean he can’t have some fun. He said Edge and Jericho “will face and be defeated by” Legacy at Night of the Champions.
DiBiase then asked Rhodes how it felt to watch Mark Henry beat Randy Orton last week. Rhodes said it made him feel bad to see Orton get disrespected. DiBiase revealed that as a result, Rhodes will be the one to teach him a lesson. Rhodes acted surprised and didn’t like what he heard. Ted Jr. asked, “Dad, what are you doing?” Ted Sr. told his son he has made plans for him that he hadn’t had a chance to tell him yet. DiBiase said when he told off Randy at the Bash, he saw a glimmer in his eye that said Orton is just holding him down. He said Orton knows he’s more talented and more gifted as an athlete and is just using him. He said tonight he will have a match that’s not about a title, but it will make a statement when Orton faces DiBiase Jr. That upset DiBiase Jr., who said he won’t face him. DiBiase Sr. said he won’t just face him, he’ll beat him. He then let out his signature laugh again and walked out of the ring. DiBiase Sr. left the ring and then out walked Jericho and Edge. They had a staredown with Rhodes & DiBiase as they cut to a break. [c]
(1) Edge & Chris Jericho defeated Carlito & Primo Colon in 6:00. Carlito got in some early offense, but soon thereafter the heel duo took over, working over Carlito for several minutes. At 5:00 Edge bumped into Carlito on the ring apron, and then Primo went for a schoolboy for a near fall. Carlito entered he ring to get at Edge for running into him, but that distracted the ref. Jericho gave Primo his Code Breaker and Edge followed with a spear for the win. (*1/4)
Afterward, Carlito threw a fit and attacked Primo, shoving him into the ringpost and to the floor in an apparent break-up of the team and perhaps an elevation of Carlito.
Backstage, Orton walked up to Cody and Ted. Ted said his father is stubborn. Orton said he should tell his dad they’re not having the match. Ted said that’s easier said than done. Orton said he would do that if he were his dad. Ted said that he’s not his dad. Orton said he’s not ready to face him. Ted told Orton that his dad was a hell of a lot better than his dad, and he’s going to face him and beat him. [c]
WWE Fact: More than six times as many people watched Raw last Monday than Major League Baseball on ESPN.
Lawler and Grisham touted the acquisitions of Evan Bourne, Gail Kim, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry, and Alicia Fox.
(2) Mickie James & Gail Kim beat Alicia Fox & Maryse when Kim pinned Maryse in 4:00. Kim and Mickie came out to Mickie’s music, which is no surprise, but it does send a message who the “captain” of the team is. Maryse stopped Kim from making a hot-tag to Mickie at 3:00. Kim surprised Maryse seconds later with a stiff-leg dropdown kick to the face for the win. They gave the women what amounts to a respectable amount of time to have a tag match this week. Kim got her music played after she scored the pin to get the win. (*)
Cody approached Ted Sr. backstage to butter him up. He said he is the real Donald Trump and should have been in charge all along. Ted told him to get to the point. Cody said he thinks it’d be best to focus on the Unified Tag Titles. Ted fired back that he is the son of a WWE Legend, Dusty Rhodes. Ted then snarled and said he despises Dusty Rhodes, a mere common man. He threatened to put Cody in polka dots if he didn’t get out there to wrestle Mark Henry. He then cartoon laughed again. [c]
A sponsored recap aired of Mark Henry beating Orton last week.
(3) Mark Henry beat Cody Rhodes via countout in 2:00. Henry overpowered Cody early, including catching him mid-air and turning it into a powerslam at 1:00. Cody rolled out of the ring, retreated up the ramp, and was counted out. Cody got out of that relatively easily.
They showed Cena warming up backstage. [c]
(4) Randy Orton pinned Ted DiBiase in 11:00. Orton went to his obligatory headlock right away in the first few seconds of the match. DiBiase escaped. DiBiase then knocked Orton to the mat and dropkicked him out of the ring. He then slidekicked him for good measure. They cut to a break with Orton catching his breath on the floor. [c] Back from the break Orton had control again with a chinlock, having whipped DiBiase into the ringside steps during the break. Orton began the Orton Stomp series, but DiBiase got up and small packaged Orton for a surprise near fall. Orton fired back with a forearm to take his “student” down. He looked down at him as if upset that he’s having to beat up his own stable-mate. He kicked him in the gut, then said, “I didn’t want to have to do this” as he set up a DDT off the middle rope. Orton milked the moment, and then DDT’d him and scored a near fall. Orton was surprised by the kickout and tried again. DiBiase kicked out again. Orton punched away at DiBiase in frustration, then set up a kneedrop and connected with it, leading to another two count.
Orton applied a chinlock again. Lawler wondered if Orton expected a Jack Swagger-like match. DiBiase managed another comeback and scored a two count after a dropkick. Cole said DiBiase might be believing he can win. Orton came back with a backbreaker. He waited for DiBiase to stand and then approached him for an RKO. DiBiase surprised him with a backslide for a believable near fall. DiBiase powerslammed Orton for a near fall and had the crowd with him at this point. Orton countered DiBiase’s Dream Street finisher and hit the RKO for the win. Orton slapped DiBiase lightly to try to wake him up. Lawler said Orton barely escaped the match with his life. Lawler and Cole said Orton may have gained some extra respect for his protege. DiBiase slowly came to in the ring as Orton retreated up the rampway. Really good match. That told a great story and the near falls and near upsets were really well done. DiBiase is a future top tier star, and this was just the latest of several televised performances that all but confirm that. (**3/4)
Josh Matthews interviewed Triple H backstage. Triple H said if you’re looking for “epic,” that’s him versus John Cena. He said he doesn’t care whom he has to hurt or go through to get what he wants, and that includes Cena. [c]
A video feature aired of MVP with Sherri Shepherd at the BET Awards last week.
They went to the ring with MVP in the ring for his VIP Lounge segment. He introduced his guest, Jack Swagger. He said the people want to know what kind of athlete would expose himself as a fraud by getting himself counted out like he did last week in his Raw debut. He said, “What kind of All-American Athlete does that? The people want to know?” Swagger called MVP a fraud for trying to pass himself off as an MVP athlete. He said he’s a con who spent almost ten years behind bars. He said he’s never gotten a parking ticket. MVP said he doesn’t try to hide his past. He explained that he ran the streets as a juvenile and made some mistakes that cost him dearly. He said as a WWE Superstar, he uses his celebrity status to influence kids not to go down the path he went down. He said he took it on the chin, accepted his sins, and paid his debt to society by serving his time like a man. Swagger said he’s not a man and to quit making excuses. MVP said at his fancy school they didn’t teach him the difference between an excuse and an explanation. (Great line.) MVP took off his shirt and jewelry and then walked up to Swagger and said, “Unlike you, I have never been afraid of a fight.” He got nose-to-nose with Swagger who held his ground. A loud “MVP” chant broke out. Swagger took a few steps back and said, “I don’t fight people below me, and I especially don’t fight criminals.” He jumped out of the ring. MVP said what’s obvious to everyone is, “Since you’ve been on Raw, you don’t fight anyone at all.” He said when he’s ready to fight, he find him right here in the MVP Lounge.
Ted Sr. told Ted Jr. backstage that he shined and proved he will be a World Champion some day. Ted Jr. would have none of it. He said he set him up to fail by putting him in an impossible situation. He said he came there to steal his spotlight, but this is his time. Ted Sr. hung his head ad then looked up and said, “It’s not like that all.” Ted Jr. slapped his dad hard, then said, “Thanks a lot, dad.” He walked away. [c]
(5) Evan Bourne pinned Kofi Kingston in 3:00. Cole told Lawler to take a deep breath because they’ll need to keep up with these two. Lawler took a deep breath and then broke into a smoker’s cough even though he’s not a smoker. They moved 100 MPH at the start. Bourne won clean with the Shooting Star Press. Bourne helped Kingston to his feet afterward. Short, but a taste of what those two can do. It was almost so short that Lawler and Cole may have built too much anticipation in those opening seconds as three minutes wasn’t enough given how much they touted the potential breathtaking pace of the action.
Afterward, The Big Show came out and tossed Kofi and Bourne around like ragdogs. Kofi and Bourne showed good fighting spirit. Show took Bourne out with a spear, which Bourne bumped for like crazy. Show then turned to Kofi. [c]
WWE Fact: WWE televison programs can be seen in 465 millino hones worldwide – more than the NBA, MLB, and the NFL combined. I’m skeptical of that claim.
A clip aired of John Cena signing autographs at an FYE in San Jose. They showed that the line was so long it was dark while he was still signing autographs for thousands of fans. That has to be both exhausting and exhilarating to have so many kids counting on a few seconds of interaction with you to “make their week.”
Matthews interviewed Cena, who agreed with Hunter that all bets are off. He said tonight’s Raw has “transformed itself into WrestleMania.” He said two of the greatest are battling for a chance at the WWE Title. He said Triple H will not walk through him to get to continue his personal vendetta against Orton. He said two of the greats will lock horns and at the end of the night, one of them will earn a shot at the gold. He said it’s been way too long since he said the words everyone wants to hear: “The Champ is Here.” (Everyone?)
The ring intro took place for Triple H. Lawler and Cole hyped that this was a WrestleMania-caliber main event and a “big match atmosphere.” [c]
(6) Triple H vs. John Cena. The match began with 14 minutes left in the second, so plenty of time counting the overrun to have a four-star memorable Match of the Month. They opened with a staredown as the crowd took turns chanting for each man. [c] Triple H controlled early and kept it up after the break, including a two count at 7:00. Cena made a comeback at 9:00. He went into the You Can’t See Me routine. He waved his hand in Triple H’s face and hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He set up his finisher, but Triple H slipped out and punched back, hit a backbreaker, and then went for his Pedigree. Cena avoided that, but then Triple H put Cena in a sleeper. At 14:00 Cena escaped and applied his own sleeper. Hunter escaped and both were slow to get up. The ref counted to seven before Cena stood. Hunter got up at eight. They need to end matches now and then with a ten count in the ring if they’re want fans to buy into that as a potential finish in a match like this.
They took turns punching each other like John Nord and Butch Reed backstage in Oklahoma City in 1985. Cena got the better of Hunter, but when he went for a top rope legdrop, Triple H moved. They went into a series of believable near falls. Cena locked on an STF at 18:00. Triple H was near the ropes and he grabbed the ropes to force a break. Triple H then surprised Cena with a small package for a near fall. He set up another Pedigree. Cole declared the match unbelievable. After catapulting Triple H into the top rope, Cena went for an Attitude Adjuster, but Triple H held onto the top rope. They collided with simultaneous clotheslines. Both men were slow to get up. As they beat the ref’s count, DiBiase and Rhodes charged into the ring for the double-DQ at 19:00. (***1/2)
DiBiase and Rhodes did what Cole called “a hit and run attack,” since they scurried out of the ring shortly after the bell rang. As Lilian began announcing the decision, Orton stepped onto the stage and said he could handle it. He said since it’s a double-DQ, he would not have to face either of them. Ted Sr. walked out with mic in hand. He told Orton that he thinks neither of these men lost, and tonight his opinion carries a lot more weight than his. He said therefore he’ll defend his WWE Title in a triple threat match against both Triple H and Cena. Lawler asked, “Could things get any worse for Randy Orton.”
THOUGHTS, OBSERVATIONS, AND NITPICKS
OPENING SEGMENT: Ted Sr. did about what you’d expect in terms of mic work. He did better promos before joining the WWF, where the Million Dollar Man gimmick cartoonized his delivery. The signature laugh lacks sincerity and just comes across as a pull-string sound he makes to get ten year olds to memorize and react to it. However, there were also glimpses in tonight’s promo of his great promo skills shown in Mid-South for Bill Watts. I like that they went with the swerve of Ted Sr. seeming to be on the side of his son and Cody, but the pulling the rug out from under them. I do wish they had him go a little further in seeming like a father who overtly didn’t approve of his son’s association with Randy Orton instead of going half way there.
CARLITO & PRIMO: Carlito turning on Primo may mean Carlito is a singles heel again for the long run. WWE needs new singles heels with Edge and Matt Hardy both going down last week for extended hiatuses, although Carlito is on the wrong brand to really seize an opening, and a feud with Primo would probably come before he moved on to something more significant.
MVP LOUNGE: This was a tremendous segment. It was probably MVP’s best babyface performance to date on the mic, and maybe best overall. It was the first real sign of him being a true babyface and shining. The part about not hiding from his past, but now telling kids not to make the same mistakes he made is great at defining what makes him admirable as a character – which every wrestling should be able to identify in every babyface. Swagger also shined, showing again that’s money. He is just so sure-footed in his cockiness and totally unlikable in the process. The back and forth lines they exchanged were really good in terms of content and delivery. The body language and facial expressions all rang true.
BOURNE VS. KINGSTON: They should have hyped this match during the rest of the show as there’s a segment of the fanbase who wouldn’t have missed this for the world, and just the process of hyping it would have given it a sense of being more important than just a match thrown out there to fill time. It’s not Cena-Hunter in terms of importance, but there’s a way to hype it and tout what’s special about it without taking away from hype for Cena-Hunter. It’s a little surprising Cena and Hunter wouldn’t have balked at having to follow this athleticism that Cena and Hunter won’t be able to match. It’s also another babyface vs. babyface match, taking the novelty of Hunter-Cena down a notch. After seeing Show beat these two up afterward, it became more clear that they were allowed to dazzle the crowd, but the real point was to (a) get Big Show over and (b) reassert that WWE’s focus on big men is for a reason – because little guys aren’t very tough even if they’re occasionally athletically exciting. I don’t see real value from a money standpoint in Show beating those two up. There are other ways to get him over as a thug, and Bourne and Kofi are the type of mid-carders worth protecting more than that so what they do well seems to matter in their context and their world…
CENA VS. TRIPLE H: I wonder how many fans who hate Cena’s character would soften that stance if he switched to regular wrestling trunks and wrestling boots instead of those ridiculously oversized denim “shorts” (practically floods) and tennis shoes… Cole really seemed to be trying to take his announcing to a level to match the action in the ring during the climax of this match. He doesn’t have great vocal cords to help him, but it was about as into a match as he gets with as much genuine enthusiasm as you’ll hear from him… Not the most unpredictable of finishes, but the right finish because it gave Ted Sr. a good closing punch to throw at Legacy, it showed up Orton who was too smart for his own good, and it set up something – anything – other than yet another Orton vs. Cena or Orton vs. Triple H match…
OTHER THOUGHTS: Cole and Lawler bantered about Trump’s trades benefiting Raw. They joked about whether Trump was going to get a raise. One thing is for sure: Trump pays attention to publicity. We got a letter today from Trump headquarters in reaction to PWTorch’s own Greg Parks’s blog about Trump on Raw. They believed he didn’t tout the success of Trump’s Raw appearances enough and included a printout of Greg’s column and a USA Network and WWE press release touting the rating success… Since Raw was pre-taped, Cole and Lawler didn’t do all of the commentary live at Raw last week. There was a moment in the DiBiase-Orton match where they were on camera and visibly not commentating, but on audio they were…
Ted DiBiase Sr.: “I despite Dusty Rhodes. Why would the Million Dollar Man want anything to do with a Common Man. And the fact that that fat blond-headed bloated gyrating fool is in the WWE Hall of Fame and I’m not is a travesty.”
Jerry Lawler: “Cody, you should always keep your words soft and sweet because you may have to eat them.”
Jerry Lawler on Jack Swagger: “That looks like one of those ‘Something About Mary’ hairstyles.”
Jack Swagger: “I went to the University of Oklahoma. Do you know what that means?”
MVP in response: “That you couldn’t get into a better school?”
Jack Swagger: “I’ve never gotten a parking ticket, let alone spent time in prison. MVP. The only thing you’ve been an MVP of is a prison basketball league. So if anyone is an MVP on Raw, it’s me.”