SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE RAW TV REPORT
NOVEMBER 27, 2023
NASHVILLE, TENN. AT BRIDGESTONE ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON USA
Commentators: Michael Cole, Wade Barrett
Ring Announcer: Samantha Irvin
-A video package showed highlights of the men’s WarGames including the tease of the Money in the Bank cash-in, the arrival of Randy Orton, and finally the arrival of C.M. Punk.
-A new Raw opening aired.
-They went live to the arena as pyro blasted. Michael Cole said it might be one of the most anticipated episodes of Monday Night Raw ever. He said they’d witness the fallout of the “widely successful Survivor Series.” They went to Cole and Barrett who touted that Raw is commercial-free in the first hour. Cole said he still had goosebumps. He said hell froze over. “After a decade away, C.M. Punk returned to WWE in a move that people said never would, never could happen. The polarizing, controversial Superstar will have a live microphone in his hands live tonight.”
-Randy Orton’s music played. (We’ll see what WWE can do to keep Orton from feeling too much like a bridesmaid at Punk’s wedding.) He said it sounds like some fans missed him. He said he’ll be there as long as he can. “I was gone a while, wasn’t I?” he said. Fans chanted, loudly, “Welcome back!” He said when he was away, he had a chance to think about what he had accomplished and what he hadn’t. He said he had never been in a WarGames. He said when Cody Rhodes called him, “of course, I was in.” He said Cody’s father invented WarGames. He said being part of that match is being part of professional wrestling.
He said he also has some unfinished business with The Bloodline. He said he made a career out of ending careers, so he kind of gets where they’re coming from. “Maybe I can forgive, but I can’t forget,” he said. He said he has a bag full of receipts for The Bloodline. He emphasized every single member has something coming. He said the fans know what form that payback is going to come in. He said it’s “the three most dangerous letters in sports entertainment.” (He has been gone for a while; that term has expired and is certainly no longer required as a substitute for better terms.) Rhea Ripley’s theme song the blared.
Ripley walked out. Cole said many say she is the actual leader of The Judgment Day. Ripley entered the ring and said he put in quite a performance at Survivor Series. She said she didn’t see him as someone who would do favors for others, especially with one member in particular. She said he was then upstaged. She said he looked better than ever, and it’d be a shame if that was wasted. She said the landscape has changed and The Bloodline has fallen and been replaced by The Judgement Day as the most dominant force in WWE. She said WarGames was just a bump in the road. She said they’re all dripping in gold. She told him to stop focusing on The Bloodline, because unlike them, they get the job done and will put him out permanently. A loud “RKO!” chant broke out.
Orton said he watched the product while he was out. He said he saw all the talk about “Mami this and Mami that.” He said, “Guess what? Daddy’s back.” Fans chanted “Daddy’s back.” Orton said it’s true a lot of things have changed since he was out. A loud, “Who’s your daddy?” chant broke out. Orton paused, then resumed. He said the one thing that hasn’t changed and never will change as long as he is there is that nobody tells him what to do.
Ripley said she tried to give him an out, but he has made himself their enemy now. J.D. McDonagh and Dirty Dom attacked Orton from behind. Orton fought back and teased a draping DDT on Dom, but then McDonagh hit him from behind. He gave McDonagh, in a neck brace from the WarGames RKO, another RKO. Dom ran over to Ripley. Orton said Dom shouldn’t go anywhere because he’s going to find Adam Pearce and make damn sure he gets him in the ring tonight. Dom’s eyed bulged in fear. Cole said the Viper is still the Viper “and Daddy’s home.” He said if Pearce does the right thing, they’ll see Orton in action later tonight for the first time in a year and a half.
(Keller’s Analysis: Orton looked and sounded like someone really happy to show up at work again, feeling appreciative of the positives of being in front of a crowd, and ready to start another chapter of his career at age 44. The pivot from Orton acknowledging the issue with The Bloodline to Ripley putting Judgment Day in his path was well done. The comment from Rhea about Orton being upstaged had to be said because that certainly crossed a lot of people’s minds.)
-They went to Cole and Barrett on camera who hyped the tag team turmoil match.
-They showed a gathering backstage from earlier in the day of New Day, The Creeds, and Alpha Academy. Chad Gable touted Otis & Tozawa would team for the first time. In walked Maxxine Dupri and Ivy Nile. Maxxine introduced platinum recording artist Jelly Roll. Otis let out a “Hell yeah!” Then they bumped tummies. Jelly Roll said he was excited to see them in his hometown. R-Truth walked in and said his sweet tooth has a sweet tooth, so he wants a jelly roll. Jelly Roll failed in explaining to Truth there weren’t edible jelly rolls there. Tozawa then did his dance that is only slightly more demeaning than Daniel Garcia’s dance (and that’s debatable).
-A (not) commercial aired with Cody Rhodes pitching WWE’s Cyber Monday sales.
-WWE showed headlines from corporate media entities covering WarGames. It included Sports Illustrated. (No word on whether AI wrote the story under a fake name.)
-They showed an amped up Jelly Roll in the front row.
(1c) OTIS & TOZAWA (w/Chad Gable, Maxxine) vs. JOHNNY GARGANO & TOMMASO CIAMPA – Tag Team Turmoil
The bell rang 25 minutes into the hour. Cole asked Barrett if he’s surprised Gable teamed Tozawa and Otiz together. Barrett said he thinks Gable wants to focus on the singles scene. Cole touted Tozawa as being not just “entertaining,” but also a good wrestler. Otis ripped his shirt off. Tozawa tried to rip his shirt off, but couldn’t, so Otis helped him. Gargano teased dancing early in the match. Otis and Tozawa did Caterpillars together. Otis then launched Tozawa off his shoulders, but Ciampa caught him with a knee to the head. Gargano tagged in and DIY delivered Meet in the Middle for the win.
WINNERS: Gargano & Ciampa in 4:00.
(1b) INDUS SHER (Veer Mahaan & Sanga w/Jinder Mahal) vs. JOHNNY GARGANO & TOMMASO CIAMPA – Tag Team Turmoil
Indus Sher dominated initially. Gargano avoided a charging Veer and then rolled him up for the win.
WINNERS: Gargano & Ciampa in 2:00.
(1c) THE CREED BROTHERS (w/Ivey Nile) vs. JOHNNY GARGANO & TOMMASO CIAMPA – Tag Team Turmoil
Cole said they had breaking news that Orton vs. Dominik was now official for later in the show. Cole plugged again that Punk would return to Raw. A graphic showed a smiling Punk. Ciampa and Gargano went for Meet in the Middle, but Brutus blocked Ciampa and then Julius powerbombed Gargano. He tagged out to Brutus and put Gargano on his shoulders and they hit the Doomsday-style Brutus Ball for the win.
WINNERS: The Creeds in 5:00.
(1d) THE NEW DAY vs. THE CREED BROTHERS – Tag Team Turmoil
Barrett criticized New Day for strolling to the ring and playing the trombone instead of charging to the ring to take advantage of the winded Creeds. Cole agreed. (So do I.) New Day dominated early. Kingston landed a double-stomp on Brutus off of Xavier’s knee. Julius made the save. Kingston landed a top rope crossbody on Julius, but Julius rolled through and lifted Kingston. Xavier charged in, but Julius kicked him and then gave Kingston a fallaway slam. Brutus leaped off the ring apron with a moonsault on Xavier at ringside. The Creeds then delivered their Brutus Ball for the pin on Kofi.
WINNERS: The Creeds in 7:00.
(1e) IMPERIUM (Ludwig Kaiser & Giovani Vinci) vs. THE CREED BROTHERS – Tag Team Turmoil
They began fight 18 minutes into the match. Cole and Barrett talked about Vinci and Kaiser competing for Gunther’s approval. “Elegance combined with savagery,” said Barrett about Vinci and Kaiser dominating the early minutes. Julius made a comeback at 4:00 and suplexed both Imperium members at once and then played to the crowd. Fans cheered. “That was incredible,” said Cole. The Creeds set up Kaiser for the Brutus Ball, but Kaiser raked his eyes. Cole said that might’ve been the Creed Brothers’ best chance in the match.
Vinci and Kaiser double-teamed Brutus, but Creed leaped over them and leaped to the top rope (after a brief stumble) and superplexed Kaiser. Fans chanted, “This is awesome!” The Creeds then delivered the Brutus Ball to Vinci for the win. Brutus landed on Vinci’s arm and he reacted like he might be legitimately have an injured arm or was just selling well. The ref checked on him and then Brutus scored the three count.
WINNERS: The Creeds in 9:00. (27:00 total for the full match.)
(Keller’s Analysis: The end result of this match was a good win for the Creeds that gives them a bit of a credibility boost after hanging out backstage with the clown show the last few weeks.)
-They went backstage to The Judgment Day’s hangout. Finn Balor told Damian Priest he just watched the Creeds and they can’t take them lightly. Priest was sulking. He said they think he let everybody down. Ripley said they are a team and they all fall together and rise together. Balor told him to relax and Dom said, “It’s all good.” Priest, relieved, asked, “Is that for real?” Ripley said they’re not going to hold a grudge against him. Priest said he appreciates it. Priest asked how McDonagh was doing. Balor said they should go check on him.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s so nice to tune into a pro wrestling show and watching people act so reasonably toward each other and get along.)
-Cole plugged Cody Rhodes was up next.
(Keller’s Analysis: They cut to a break 56 minutes into the hour, which means the first hour wasn’t commercial-free as advertised. They’ve done that before and it’s not a big deal, but it’s needlessly dishonest.) [c]
-Cody made his full ring entrance. He asked Nashville what they want to talk about. He said there were so many stories stemming from the weekend. He said he has a story of gratitude. He thanked his teammates one at a time. When he mentioned Seth’s name, fans sang his song. He mentioned Orton last. He said Orton was a mentor to him early in his career and remains that to this day. He said he’s given him memories, including a new one when he threw Priest at him to hit the Crossroads. He said he let him win that match. He voice cracked and his eye’s began to well up as he said, “Not any match, but my dad’s match.”
He then mentioned “the other story – the return of C.M. Punk.” A chant of “C.M. Punk!” broke out. He said nobody knew that was going to happen and everyone is tuning in to hear what he has to say. He said, “Welcome back.” He said with all this news being made and all the stories, he’d like to make some news himself. “I think at this point, you guys truly know me,” he said. “Which means there’s only one destination for me.” He said he is the very first to declare himself for the 2024 Royal Rumble.
Shinsuke Nakamura appeared on the big screen. He said Cody says he needs to continue his story, but he needs Cody to set him free, “to set me free, to awaken me, to evolve.” He said he is done waiting. “I will bring my chaos to you,” he said. Cody turned around and Nakamura was standing there. He blew red mist in Cody’s face. He bowed as Cody writhed in pain on the mat. Nakamura’s music played. Cole said it appears Cody was the one Nakamura had been targeting all along.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cody is so comfortable in his own skin in segments like this. His thanking of his teammates felt genuine, his acknowledgement of Punk was respectfully guarded and framed himself as someone whose opinion counts regarding Punk, and the angle with Nakamura gives Cody something to do between now and the Rumble.) [c]
-Cole threw to a replay of Cody’s announcement regarding the Royal Rumble. Cole hyped Punk and said his return was “the most social moment in WWE history.”
(2) BRONSON REED vs. VIKING RAIDER IVAR (w/Valhala)
Barrett said what’s going on here is called “Big Guy Heat” in gyms across the country. He said the two biggest guys in any gym hate each other. Cole said he never experiences that. The bell rang 16 minutes into the hour. Cole said this won’t be pretty. Barrett said these two exemplify the best of the big man style in WWE. They cut to a double-box break a minute in. [c/db]
Ivar went for a top rope moonsault, but Bronson moved. Bronson then climbed to the top rope. Valhala jumped onto the ring apron and distracted Bronson and the ref. The ref kicked her out of ringside and sent her to the back. Ivar ducked a charging Bronson and knocked him to the floor. Ivar leaped at Reed, but Reed caught him and then dropped him. He knocked him over the barricade into the time keepers area. Ivar kicked Bronson and yanked him into the time keeper’s area. Ivar stood on the barricade and struck a pose. Reed knocked him off balance and drove him into the barricade and a chair with a Death Valley Driver as the bell rang, signifying a double countout.
WINNER: Double countout at 9:00.
-They continued to brawl into the crowd. Reed knocked over a tech worker sitting against the hockey boards. They pushed past security as Pearce, Jason Jordan, and Jamie Noble tried to restore order. Ivar flip dove-off of a giant rolling crate onto Reed and some security guys. The crowd chanted “Holy shit!”
-In a backstage segment taped earlier, Zoey Stark was telling Shayna Baszler that she had Rhea Ripley right where she wanted and was close. Baszler said she’ll get another shot and she should relax. In walked Nia Jax, mock applauding. Jax said it should’ve been her at Survivor Series because she’d be champion. She said everyone should be on notice. Baszler told Nia to shut her hole before someone breaks her arm and puts her on the shelf again. Stark challenged her to a fight tonight. Jax smiled and said that’s exactly what she wants.
-Jax made her ring entrance. [c]
-They went backstage to Priest, Balor, and McDonagh approaching their hangout when they came upon R-Truth eating a platter of jelly rolls on their couch. Priest said that’s their clubhouse. He made a mess of it. Truth offered to be their partner in WarGames. Priest said WarGames already happened. Truth asked if they won and said, “How did I do?” An exasperated Priest said he wasn’t in the match and they lost. “Thanks for the reminder,” he said. Truth then brought up Orton was back. They told him get out. Balor lamented their couch being ruined. McDonagh said he’d deal with Truth.
(3) NIA JAX vs. ZOEY STARK
The bell rang 37 minutes into the hour. Jax tossed Stark around early. Stark avoided a charging Jax and then springboarded off the top rope onto her. They cut to an early break. [c]
Stark rallied and scored a two count after a corkscrew moonsault. Jax took over again and set up an Annihilator. Stark sat up and kicked Jax’s leg and knocked her down and scored a leverage near fall. She followed with a springboard dropkick for another two count. When Stark went back to the top rope, Jax knocked her off balance. Jax landed a Samoan Drop and then landed a senton. She dragged Stark to the corner and delivered the Annihilator for the three count.
WINNER: Jax in 9:00.
-A video package aired on Gunther vs. Miz at Survivor Series.
-Backstage, Gunther interrupted bickering between Vinci and Kaiser. He told them to go to Pearce and sort out the DIY issue. Vinci began to speak but Kaiser interrupted and promised to get it done. Miz walked up to Gunther and said he saw his press conference after Survivor Series where he said his next opponent needs to challenge him to his face. Gunther smiled and said, “Mike, are you sure about that?” Miz said he knows he can pin him, and Gunther now knows it. Gunther said he knows he is no threat to his title reign. He credited him that he came ready for a fight and he can claim he belongs in that ring, “just not with me.”
-Seth Rollins made his way out to the ring. As fans sang his song, a part of the crowd began chanting “C.M. Punk!” Seth told them to “come on.” He waved his arm. The chant got louder. He asked if that’s all the Punk fans had. “Get it out of your system because I tell you what, I don’t want to spend one more second, one more ounce of energy on that hypocrite.” Mix of cheers and boos. He said he didn’t want to talk about someone who doesn’t matter at all, but rather he wanted to talk about his title that he’s successfully defended for months. Fans began singing his song again. Seth smiled and soaked it up.
He said two days out from WarGames, he’s not feeling great, but he’s starting to get the itch to be a fighting champion again. He said he went to see Pearce earlier in the day and began talking about who his next opponent should be. Drew McIntyre’s music interrupted. Drew marched to the ring. Cole said he’s been in a mood and it didn’t get any better at WarGames.
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Drew entered the ring and said a lot happened in the last 24 hours and people are talking about what happened with them inside and outside the ring. He offered a handshake. Seth accepted. Drew said they promised Jey Uso on a silver platter and they claimed to have a master plan. He said apparently the master plan was losing. He said he has realized he has to put Jey on the back burner and focus on what’s most important, which is that World Hvt. Title.
Drew asked if he remembers what he told him before their World Title match at Crown Jewel. Seth said he told him that when he beats him, he’ll have no one to blame but himself and that it’d be the best thing to ever happen to him. Drew said he’s 100 percent right. He said he has nobody to blame but himself for that loss. He said there was a point where he had Seth on the steps and dropped him back-first and he could see he was finished. He said he should have hit the Claymore at that point, but he saw Seth writhing in pain. He said he had sympathy and compassion. He said he paused to tell Seth it was over. He said Seth slapped him. He said he deserved it. He said he realized that to swim with sharks, he had to become the biggest shark of all. He said he wants a rematch now.
Seth he’s always respected Drew’s honesty. He agreed he deserves a rematch. He said the issue is there might be a couple people who deserve it more than him. He said that’s why he came out there. He said he met with Pearce and they agreed he’d be defending his title next week live on Raw. Drew said Seth is the champ he calls the shots. He asked who the match is with. Seth paused and there were a few “C.M. Punk” chants, but it gained no steam.
Seth then said he’s defended against Jey. Fans popped and chanted “Yeet!” Seth said it’s nothing personal. Drew headbutted him. Drew began bleeding from the forehead. Drew then attacked Seth and tossed him across the ring. His kilt came off and he was left in his black compression underwear. Drew leaned down and asked if it was personal. “Jey Uso? You know I beat him two weeks ago. You know I’m ahead of him in the line.” Jey’s music then played.
Jey superkicked Drew. Seth and Jey double superkicked Drew, sending him to the floor. Jey picked up Seth’s belt and shoved it to Seth. Drew stared them down from ringside as Jey played to the crowd with his arm gesturing.
-They went to Cole and Barrett at ringside. Barrett said the last ounce of compassion has left Drew’s body. Cole plugged Punk again.
-Natalya and Tegan Nox made their ring entrance.
-A commercial hyped the return of Logan Paul on Smackdown. [c]
-Backstage, Sami Zayn confronted Drew. Drew told him not now and not to start. Sami asked what’s gotten into him lately. Drew said Seth truly has something against him and he can’t understand. Sami said he can relate. He emphatically said that he’s had disappointments too. He said he came up short of beating Reigns in front of his family and hometown fans, just like him. He said he came up just short against Seth, too. He said Drew has already been world champion twice and he’s 6-6 and pure muscle with everything going for himself, “but you’re acting like a spoiled little brat.” He told Drew he’s better than that. Drew said he’s made a few points. He said he’s going to work his way back up the ladder. He said he’s going to go to Pearce and ask for a match… “against you.”
-Cole and Barrett said Sami picked a bad time to confront Drew. Barrett said Sami is bad at reading a room.
(4) CHELSEA GREEN & PIPER NIVEN vs. NATALYA & TEGAN NOX – Women’s Tag Team Title match
The bell rang 18 minutes into the hour. They cut to an early double-box break. [c/db]
Natalya and Nox suplexed Green into the barricade at ringside, but Niven surprised them with a cannonball off the ring apron. Back in the ring, she landed a crossbody splash on Nox for the win.
WINNER: Green & Niven in 8:00.
-Cole hyped next week’s Raw featuring Sami vs. Drew and Seth vs. Jey next week.
-Jey approached Orton backstage and thanked him for having his back at WarGames. He apologized for how things went with the Bloodline. He said Cody gave him a fresh chance and the past is the past. Orton said he understands that. He said he’s been watching the last few months and saw how Jey has had Cody’s back. He said a lot of people trust him, and he can let bygones be bygones. He said as long as Jey is out of the Bloodline, they’re good.
(Keller’s Analysis: Who is this Randy Orton?! I love that he’s acknowledging what has happened while he’s been away and paid attention and taken notes.) [c]
-Cole touted the 71 million views across all social platforms for the Punk return. He said it’s the most viewed, liked, and retweeted social media post ever. He said it beat Instagram’s first 24 hour show clip record.
-Jackie Redmond interviewed Becky Lynch backstage. Becky said Saturday night was about making amends. She said it’s a fine line between love and hate, but right now feels pretty good. She said she has two fights on the horizon, “one more pressing than the other.”
(5) RANDY ORTON vs. DOMINIK MYSTERIO (w/J.D. McDonagh)
Cole talked about Orton’s change in training habits, including more work on stamina and more of a focus on reps rather than heavy weights. He said Orton says he feels better than he has in years. Cole said Dominik might want to get in the gym with Orton. The bell rang 37 minutes into the hour. Dom took a cheap shot when the ref broke up a tie-up in the corner. They cut to a very early partial double-box break. [c/pdb]
Dom was in control at ringside after the break. Back in the ring, Orton came back with two clotheslines and a snap powerslam. He posed for the crowd and signaled for the draping DDT. Then he hit it. Orton pounded the mat to signal for the RKO, but McDonagh yanked Dom to ringside. McDonagh yelled at Jelly Roll at ringside. Jelly Roll stood and shoved him down. Dom then yelled at him. Jelly Roll shoved him into the arms of Orton. Orton then tossed Dom onto the announce desk. Fans chanted, “One more time!” Orton delivered another drop on the desk. Then he threw him into the ring. McDonagh stood on the ring apron. Orton gave him a draping DDT. Dom then dropkicked Orton from behind and hit a 619. Cole said McDonagh has no brains. Dom climbed to the top rope and leaped, but Orton avoided his frog splash. Orton the hit the RKO for the win.
WINNER: Orton in 9:00. [c]
-Cole plugged tickets going on sale for next summer’s events in Germany.
-Punk made his ring entrance to “Cult of Personality.” He said hell has frozen over. He said he’s standing in a WWE Raw ring with a live mic. He said it’s not that a Blackhawks fan is getting cheered in the middle of a ring in the Predator’s home arena. He said Saturday was a career highlight. He said he has two words on his mind, and he’s scared of how true they are. He said it’s cheesy and corny and it won’t sound like C.M. Punk. “I’ve changed,” he said. He said an American Dream taught him if he speaks from the heart, he cannot go wrong. He said it’s truth. “I’m home,” he said. Fans popped. A loud “Welcome back!” chant rang out.
He said he didn’t know how he’d react, but it feels like home. He said the fans never forgot him, but the fans didn’t forget him. He said they are all powerful. He said sometimes he wanted to forget himself. He said all over the world, people kept chanting his name. “The voiceless found their voice, and I couldn’t be more proud of you,” he said. “I heard you and that’s why I’m back. I love you guys and I’ve missed you guys. And I’ve missed all of this. I wish I could say I never had to leave.”
He said a wise man told him that to get everything he needed out of WWE, he had to leave and come back. “I hate to say the wise man was right,” he said. He said he’s back to get everything he needs and he is home. He said in front of the camera and behind the camera, it’s been all love. He said it’s been all smiles and it feels like a family reunion. “Everybody back there is happy to see me,” he said. “It’s welcome back, welcome home, we’ve missed you.” He said people have asked about A.J. He said she’s great. He said “almost” everybody is happy to see him, but a few people are scared of the truth.
He said the best in the world hasn’t been there for almost ten years. He said he understands being afraid. He said they’re afraid the brass ring is in his back pocket, and the most controversial and dangerous feared wrestler just walked through the back door and there’s nothing they can do about it. He said some people are afraid that when they wake up, their best efforts at being the best in the ring, on the microphone, and even on commentary “isn’t just false, but it’s a lie.” He said the best in the world is C.M. Punk. Fans shouted, “C.M. Punk!” The show closed with him saying he wasn’t there to make friends, but he was there to make money.
(Keller’s Analysis: Expectations were high and I am thinking the sentiment among fans will be disappointment. I get that. He didn’t throw any pipe bombs. He didn’t reference AEW or the Young Bucks or Tony Khan or Hangman Page or Jack Perry. That said, this was a strategically smart promo, as long as there’s not a strong backlash for the lack of controversial substance. WWE and Punk’s goal was to show that he’s a sane, calm, happy, rationale, motivated person. Check, check, check, check, and check. Unlike his first AEW promo where “Happy” Punk was also “unsure, insecure” Punk who expressed concern he wasn’t necessarily sure he could still hang with the best, this was a confident, bash Punk stating he was aiming to prove he is the Best in the World and put everyone else on notice. That’s a key ingredient here. But having him say he’s changed and WWE is home is a good opening statement for is going to be, if all goes well, a long journey to write a better final chapter of his career than what happened in AEW.)