Live from Houston, Texas this is the Raw Deal for episode #1025. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
The opening video package showed highlights of all the different Raw introductory video packages over the last twenty years. It was cool to see them all mixed together like that with the various songs playing during the montage.
Raw began with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Vince said over 4 billion viewers have watched Raw according to Neilsen ratings. Yes they count people many times more than once. Vince said people enjoyed Raw because he's a certifiable genius…and because of the fans, who he thanked. He mentioned matches for later including Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena in a steel cage. He also spoke about how there would be a Rock concert in the ring. He hoped we would enjoy the show and before he could finish he was interrupted by Big Show.
Big Show was in a dress shirt and a suit jacket. No tie. The former World Champion wanted to address McMahon about the travesty that happened on Smackdown. McMahon didn't like being interrupted or being called "Vince" like Big Show just did. McMahon said Show looked slender and referenced the title belt not being in his possession anymore. McMahon said everybody in Houston (cheap pop) needs to take a look at what happened on Smackdown. They aired a clip of the World Heavyweight Title change on Smackdown last week. JBL was at the announce table for Raw this week with Cole and Lawler, so they narrated what happened when Del Rio won the World Title in a Last Man Standing match. Del Rio won when he pushed the announce table onto a fallen Big Show.
Show complained about the fact that he had a World Title match last week. He mentioned his iron clad contract which means he had more power than anybody in the building. McMahon asked Show what he wanted. Show said he wanted McMahon to strip Del Rio of the World Heavyweight Championship.
That led us to the introduction of the new World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio thanks to Ricardo Rodriguez. No car. He just walked out. Only a car when he has matches, I guess. Del Rio said Show liked to bully Rodriguez, but when Show gets attacked he turns into a crybaby. Del Rio said instead of complaining he should do something about it like having a match against Big Show for the World Title. The crowd chanted "si si si" (that means yes), but Show said no because he's not prepared. Del Rio told Show to "show some cojones" (that means have some balls - it’s a loose translation). Show said he's not going to waste his rematch opportunity for tonight. He suggested the Royal Rumble. Show theorized that a smart man like him gets to choose his battleground and at the end of the night of the Royal Rumble they're all going to be talking about him as the World Champion once again. Del Rio called Show a fat jackass. McMahon just looked on without saying anything. Del Rio had a bucket. Rodriguez grabbed it. Show threatened him that he would break his spine in half if he threw water on him. Rodriguez threw it and it was a bucket of confetti in the colors of the Mexican flag. Show was angry, so he went after Del Rio. Del Rio took him down with a hurricanrana (yes really) and then gave Show an enziguiri kick in the corner. Show retreated. Vince McMahon said: "Ladies and gentlemen, the World Heavyweight Champion - Alberto Del Rio."
Analysis: Good segment. Show comes off as a bit of a coward as a heel while Del Rio got right in his face and wanted them to have their rematch right there. Instead it's coming at the Royal Rumble. At the end of it, McMahon gave Del Rio his endorsement as a way to put him over as a new babyface that has been elevated by winning the World Title. The crowd reacted favorably to Del Rio, so that's a good sign. I think Del Rio's win meant a lot because Show has been booked as a dominant heel for the last six months or so. It was treated like a big deal when Del Rio won the World Title and that's how he was presented here.
This feels like the right place to insert a poll.
At the announce table were Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL. Cole mentioned all of JBL's gimmicks over the 20 years of Raw. I'm fine with JBL joining the team for this show. He's the best announcer in WWE. I'm not just saying that because I'm now writing columns for LayfieldReport.com as of last week. It's the truth.
They showed a clip from September 7, 2009 when Bob Barker was hosting Raw. Classic moment with Barker hosting Price is Right with Barker and Chris Jericho. That was an awesome comedy segment.
Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton
Barrett is the IC Champion. Title is not on the line here. On Wednesday on Main Event it's Randy Orton vs. Antonio Cesaro. That should be great. Orton dominated the action around ringside as Cole mentioned it was a sold out crowd with over 14,000 fans in attendance. Orton gave Barrett a clothesline over the top rope that sent him to the floor. That set up the vintage floor to commercial spot.
Back from break, Orton regained control of the action during the commercial break. Barrett hit his knee strikes against the ropes followed by a big boot to the face for two. Orton countered a chinlock with a back suplex. Spinning powerslam by Orton and then he hit his backbreaker variation. Orton with the DDT off the ropes as Cole said that it was "Vintage Orton." He is right about that. Barrett recovered to throw Orton shoulder first into the middle turnbuckle. Barrett capitalized by knocking out Orton with the Bull Hammer elbow. He covered for the win after 11 minutes.
Winner: Wade Barrett
Analysis: **1/2 A clean loss for Orton just like that? You don't see that very often. Perhaps this could lead to his heavily rumored heel turn in the near future. I'm not sure. I didn't expect Barrett to win the match after Orton went into the turnbuckle and Barrett hit his finish, but it's good for Barrett to get a big victory like that. The chemistry is always pretty good for them. The crowd was into it. It will be interesting to see where the story goes with Orton.
In addition to the Rock concert later we'll also find out who the first inductee for the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame will be. They already announced it was Mick Foley on their website, but it hasn't appeared on television yet.
The "Did You Know" told us that when Raw debuted on January 11, 1993 that Kofi Kingston was 11 years old, Cody Rhodes was 7 and AJ Lee was 5. I was 12. And you don't care. Me neither.
Booker T and Teddy Long told Eve that if she got disqualified or counted out in her Divas Title match against Kaitlyn she will be stripped of the title. Eve tried to flirt with Booker. He just laughed with her and so did Teddy, so she slapped Teddy in the face.
Earlier today, Daniel Bryan and Kane had a follow up to Anger Management class with Dr. Shelby from four months ago. Bryan suggested they lie to get out of there quickly. Shelby walked in to say he's proud of them. They all hugged. Bryan said clearly they beat the anger thing, so he wanted to go. Shelby asked Bryan his favorite part about Kane. Bryan said he likes that Kane is tall and that he can set things on fire by lowering his arms once in a while. He also said Kane is a good dancer. Kane said that Bryan is very agile while also having a great beard. Kane said that Bryan isn't afraid to try on women's clothing. Bryan wasn't thrilled about it, but they carried on.
Shelby said he had one more surprise. Into the room walked Damien Sandow & Cody Rhodes. Shelby talked about how this was an experiment and Sandow corrected the origins of the experiment going back to Pavlov. Shelby wanted them to find their happy place. Rhodes & Sandow questioned Shelby by calling him a failure. Sandow wondered where he graduated from. Sandow said they would be better off getting advice from Dr. Phil. Shelby started to freak out and he told Bryan & Kane to get Sandow & Rhodes. Kane & Bryan knocked Rhodes & Sandow out of the room. Kane said that's what he calls a happy place. Bryan started yelling "yes" and then Kane & Shelby joined in on the "yes" chant.
Analysis: That was a fun comedy segment although not as funny as their better comedy segments from the summer. Instead of Shelby focusing on Kane & Bryan, they used Rhodes & Sandow to show how the tag champs are more a team these days. Then Shelby joined in on the craziness with them. The crowd seemed to like it, so it worked in that sense.
Kane walked to the ring along with Bryan. It's Kane vs. Sandow after a break.
In two weeks at the Royal Rumble it's Team Hell No defending the tag team titles against Team Rhodes Scholars. I think it's time for the title change there.
Kane w/Daniel Bryan vs. Damien Sandow w/Cody Rhodes
Kane started off on the attack, but Sandow was able to take control with a kick to the chest as Kane was getting back into the ring. There was a brief "Cody's mustache" chant. Sandow hit the Elbow of Disdain for two. They were showing tweets of WWE personnel on the bottom of the screen. Kane quickly recovered from the Sandow attack to hit a Chokeslam in the middle of the ring. He covered for the victory. The match went two minutes.
Analysis: That was quick. I didn't expect it to end so soon. It wasn't a total squash because Sandow had some offense, but he didn't get a lot. I still think Team Rhodes Scholars will win the tag titles at the Royal Rumble.
Up next is the first inductee for the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame. That individual will be in the arena after the announcement. That's a good way to keep people interested as they reach the top of the hour.
We got a replay of the confrontation from the beginning of the show involving Big Show and Alberto Del Rio.
Justin Roberts: "Please welcome the first inductee to the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame…Mick Foley." Foley entered to his theme song. Cole, Lawler & JBL were standing at the announce table in appreciation of Foley. The Mickster was wearing a Cactus Jack shirt along with a WWE jacket. No flannel? Heel. I'm kidding about the heel part.
Foley thanked the fans for the warm reception right there in Houston, Texas. Cheap pop. All of a sudden the music of The Shield started up. That led to the entrance of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns. At least they told the person playing the music when they were going to show up. They're nice like that. Before they could get a hold of Foley, Ryback's music started up. He ran down to the ring by himself to a nice reaction. Ryback threw Ambrose & Rollins to the floor. They came back quickly to attack Ryback. Randy Orton ran down (theme music guy must not like him since he had no song) and then Sheamus (no song either) also ran down to the ring. The babyfaces dominated The Shield. Ryback gave Ambrose his Shellshocked finisher. Ryback's music played as The Shield retreated. Loud "Feed Me More" chants to end the segment.
They aired a replay of what we just saw.
Analysis: It's nice to see some babyfaces fighting together against The Shield. The story was that The Shield had attacked Orton and Sheamus in the past. A six man tag match in the near future is likely.
Josh Mathews went into the ring to talk to Ryback. It's like a Tough Enough reunion! Ryback said that when he wrestles CM Punk, The Shield has allowed Punk to walk away with the WWE Championship. Ryback didn't care about conspiracy theories or investigations. Ryback said he will not and cannot rest until he gets back at The Shield for what they have taken from him. He said "Feed Me Shield" repeatedly.
Analysis: Ryback paced around too much during the promo. Other than that his delivery was good. Most of his promos are kept under 30 seconds, which is the right move.
The announcers led us to a video package that showed some of the outrageous gimmicks that have graced Raw over the years. I'm not going over it, but it was basically a comedy thing that showed bad gimmicks like Man Mountain Rock, Bastion Booger, The Goon, Gillberg, The Sultan, Max Moon, Mantaur, The Boogeyman, Naked Mideon and others. It even featured "A Real Man's Man" William Regal with his theme song. It ended with Goldust doing his stuttering gimmick.
Divas Title match with Eve defending against Kaitlyn after the break.
Kaitlyn's full entrance wasn't shown. Kaitlyn had on a "Don't Mess With Texas" t-shirt. Lilian didn't even announce Kaitlyn as from Houston for the easy cheap pop.
Divas Championship: Eve vs. Kaitlyn
If Eve gets disqualified or counted out she loses the title because last week she got counted out intentionally. JBL said it was great when Eve slapped Teddy Long backstage. I agree with that! Eve got a cheap kick to the head of Kaitlyn for a two count. There was actually a brief "Let's Go Kaitlyn" chant, which is better than most crowds would do. Eve applied an arm breaker by wrapping her arms around Kaitlyn's shoulder. Kaitlyn powered her way to the ropes. Kaitlyn got a rollup using her healthier right arm for two. Clotheslines by Kaitlyn followed by a shoulderblock. Reverse DDT by Kaitlyn got her a two count. Crowd responded to it nicely. Eve kicked Kaitlyn in the knee, which led to Kaitlyn's face going into Eve's knee. Eve hit her neckbreaker finisher. Kaitlyn kicked out surprisingly. Eve ripped the Texas shirt of Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn hit her Gutbuster on Eve. Eve rolled to the floor. Kaitlyn followed her. Eve threw Kaitlyn into the crowd. She went back into the ring thinking Kaitlyn was still there, but instead Kaitlyn slid back into the ring without Eve seeing it. Kaitlyn hit a Spear for a three count and the victory after six minutes.
Winner and NEW Divas Champion: Kaitlyn
Analysis: ** It's been a while since we've seen a divas match get six minutes, so it was refreshing to see that. I thought they worked hard and the crowd was into this match more than any of their other matches. The finish was creative with Eve thinking Kaitlyn was outside the ring when in fact Kaitlyn was setting her up for the Spear finisher.
Backstage, Josh Mathews talked to Brodus Clay. They showed a clip of last week when CM Punk insulted Brodus Clay in his promo by mentioning that a 400 pounder like Clay soiled his hands by dancing with fans. Brodus said the following: "I don't shuck n jive because I have to. I shuck n jive cuz I was BORN to!" Thanks to my excitable friend Andy for quoting that for me.
Analysis: Maybe Brodus is angry because he wasn't a part of the bad gimmicks video package from earlier in the show? That could be it.
A Raw flashback video aired from March 12, 2007 when Vince McMahon and Donald Trump had their contract signing for the hair versus hair match. Trump shoved McMahon over the table. I barely remember that. Vince probably thought it was great, though.
Brodus Clay entered for his match. CM Punk got a big reaction. CM Punk's WWE Title reign is at day #421 now. There was a "Cookiepuss" sign in the crowd that they showed during Punk's entrance.
CM Punk w/Paul Heyman vs. Brodus Clay w/The Funkadactyls
This is non-title of course. Clay was very aggressive early on because he was mad about Punk's comments from last week. Punk escaped to the floor. Back to the ring, Clay hit a body slam on Punk. Punk came back with a boot to the face followed a springboard clothesline to knock Clay down. Neckbreaker by Punk, who then mocked Clay's dancing. Punk hit some kicks, but Clay caught him and gave him an overhead suplex. Headbutt to the chest by Clay. Corner splash by Clay missed, so Punk decked him with a kick to the face. Top rope elbow by Punk. Then Punk applied the Anaconda Vice for the submission victory after three minutes.
Winner: CM Punk
Analysis: *1/2 That was one of the better Clay matches I've seen. That's not saying a lot because Clay's matches are so short. Punk gave him some offense. Then when Punk got the advantage his offense really worked. He couldn't hit him with a GTS because he's so big, so the Anaconda Vice was the better choice for a finishing move. I like when wrestling makes sense.
After the match, Punk talked with Heyman standing behind him. He said later in the show The Rock is going to come out to do what he does. He said you may have your opinions, but he's a man of facts. He talked about making a 400 pounder tap and that it was a fact that he was the WWE Champion. Punk said Rock will entertain if you're into that stuff, but that at Royal Rumble he will not leave as WWE Champion because Punk is the best in the world. He said that's not an opinion - that is a fact.
Analysis: The promo went about two minutes. Straight to the point. I liked it. Punk looked very motivated during that match as well as the promo.
The song "What Makes a Good Man" by The Heavy is one of the theme songs for the Royal Rumble.
Michael Cole threw it to a video package featuring the best vehicular moments in the history of Raw. It led off with Stone Cold giving the beer bath to Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon & The Rock. There were a lot of Stone Cold moments as well as Kane ones. They even showed the Santa Claus moment from Christmas Eve a few weeks ago. We also saw when Cryme Tyme & Cena destroyed JBL's limo. Steve Austin running over Rock's car with a monster truck was also shown and that was a favorite moment of mine. It ended with Vince McMahon getting blown up in a limo.
Backstage, Mick Foley was talking on a cell phone to Dewey - that's one of his sons. The Rock showed up and Mick wanted him to shake his hand. Instead, The Rock gave him a hug. Rock & Sock Connection! Foley kept saying "finally" to encourage Rock to get into his routine, so they said Finally The Rock & Sock Connection are back in Houston. Rock went into his promo routine and managed to rhyme disclaimer with Hall of Famer. Vickie Guerrero showed up to tell them to be shut up because they were so loud. She said it was her show. She asked Rock if he had anything to say to her. Rock said he had nothing to say to her. Foley was shocked by that. Rock said there's a time and a place for that. Foley mentioned last year when Rock gave him a Rock Bottom and Rock brushed it off quickly by saying nobody remembered that. Rock said to trust him and enjoy The Rock concert later on.
Analysis: It was nice to see the Rock N Sock Connection together again. They were such an integral part of Raw's success in the late 1990s and early 2000s (Foley was done as a full timer in early 2000, but Rock was still going). They always had great chemistry. It was shocking to see Rock go quiet when Vickie got in his face. However, it set up something for later with his Rock concert. It's a good way to keep people interested in what's coming up.
Sheamus entered to take part in some over the top rope challenge that would take place after the break.
Over The Top Rope Challenge: Sheamus vs. 3MB (Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal)
This is how WWE promotes the Royal Rumble match. 3MB tried to team up to eliminate Sheamus, but they failed. He made a comeback and nearly threw out McIntyre, but then his buddies saved him. Mahal was on the middle rope. Sheamus avoided the attack from the other two and knocked Mahal over the top to eliminate him. Sheamus gave McIntyre a backdrop over the top to the floor. Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick on Slater, but Slater moved. Sheamus was on the apron. He pulled Slater over the top, but Slater held on. McIntyre & Mahal pulled Sheamus to the floor to eliminate him. Slater won. Match went about four minutes.
Winner: Heath Slater
Post match, 3MB celebrated. Sheamus pulled Mahal outside the ring. Slater was on McIntyre's shoulders celebrating. Sheamus knocked them down and gave Slater a Brogue Kick. Then Sheamus gave McIntyre a Brogue Kick.
Analysis: I was surprised that 3MB actually won, but it wasn't done in a way to put them over because Sheamus got his heat back by destroying all three guys post match.
In the locker room, Josh Mathews talked to Cena in the locker room. Cena went into one of his promos where he talked really fast by mentioning big names on Raw and he stopped himself when he said Braden Walker. Mathews was laughing. Cena also ran down his history on Raw over the years by talking fast once again. Cena said he'll do to Ziggler what World Wrestling Federation did to Monday Night Raw ten years ago: "Get the F out."
Analysis: It's really hard for me to give an accurate description of Cena's promos when he talks very fast. This one was pretty good, though. He covered a lot in a short time. You don't hear people say "World Wrestling Federation" on this show anymore. That's a rare occurrence.
The Miz said he had a special guest for Miz TV. He said it was a Hall of Famer and it would be awesome. He offered a hint to who it would be: Woooo! That's after a break.
Analysis: Good hint to keep viewers tuned in as they head toward the top of hour three.
Back from break, we got a replay of when Ryback, Randy Orton & Sheamus worked together to attack The Shield earlier in the show.
Miz TV Segment with The Miz & Ric Flair
The Miz mentioned talk shows in the past like The Cutting Edge, The Highlight Reel & Piper's Pit. He said it was an honor to have the only two time Hall of Famer on his show, Ric Flair. Flair entered in a suit and he showed off his two Hall of Fame rings. He has four divorces too. Woo!
They sat down on the chairs to chat about Flair's history on Raw. Miz even mentioned Flair playing musical chairs on Raw. That was classic. Flair said his favorite Raw was the night after he retired. Other than the birth of his kids that was the best night of his life. Miz started saying "really" a lot. Flair responding by saying "woo" many times. Miz threw to a video package showing some of the key catchphrases in Raw history.
The video package highlighted all the signature phrases in WWE history. There was a Spirit Squad sighting in there. Even Gene Snitsky saying "it wasn't my fault" got in there. Indeed by Funaki made an appearance. Of course "Damn" by Ron Simmons. Good to see Hurricane & Lance Storm in there too. We also saw a lot of the current catchphrases from guys like Punk, Rock, Ryback, The Miz and The Rock among others. Last but not least it was Stone Cold Steve Austin saying "that's the bottom line because Stone Cold said so."
Analysis: I really enjoyed that video package. Good memories there.
When the video package ended, Miz encouraged one more catchphrase. Flair said he couldn't get in trouble because he has four ex-wives. He went into his routine talking about how he was a kiss stealing son of a gun when Antonio Cesaro's music started up.
The US Champion Antonio Cesaro walked down to the ring with an American flag in his hand. He insulted Miz & Flair saying they embody America like nobody else. The crowd chanted "USA" during his speech. Cesaro talked about how Miz was a failed reality star while Flair spent $20 million (Flair said $30 million) trying to keep his image. Cesaro said now Flair has nothing to show for it except for a bar tab that Flair can't afford anymore. Cesaro showed Flair the four fingers and said the only thing they mean anymore is that Flair has four ex-wives. Miz stood up for Flair saying he'll pay Flair's bar tab and give Cesaro the receipt right now. Cesaro went to walk away, so Flair gave Cesaro some chops and then Miz gave Cesaro the Skull Crushing Finale. Flair was going to give Cesaro the Figure Four, but then Flair told Miz to do it. Miz applied the Figure Four Leglock to a big ovation. Then Flair gave a knee drop and elbow drop to their jackets. Classic Flair.
Analysis: That was an effective use of Ric Flair because he gave the rub, as they say, to Miz by putting him over by letting him apply the Figure Four Leglock at the end of the segment. The crowd was into everything Flair did. It was a fun segment. As for Cesaro, it looks like he finally has a credible opponent in a feud against The Miz. That could lead to some very entertaining matches.
The 20 year Raw anniversary flashback took us to January 19, 1998 when Mike Tyson was introduced by Vince McMahon.
Analysis: This is my favorite Raw moment ever. It was such a big thing at the time and even today it still holds up. Vince McMahon's reaction to Austin's entrance was classic. The brawl that erupted was an amazing moment. That was a point when Raw really became a must-see television show for all wrestling fans and they really got a lot of momentum in the Monday Night Wars against WCW. This angle was a really big deal for WWE because of when it happened and who was involved with it.
As Daniel Bryan made his entrance, we saw a replay of what happened earlier with Dr. Shelby having an Anger Management session with Kane & Daniel Bryan. At ringside, Cody Rhodes was combing his mustache in a mirror.
Cody Rhodes w/Damien Sandow vs. Daniel Bryan w/Kane
Rhodes was on offense for the first thirty seconds by focusing on the knee of Bryan. As Rhodes was standing over him, Bryan took him down and applied the No Lock. Rhodes tapped out to lose the match in less than a minute.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Analysis: I'm all for Daniel Bryan winning matches. It's just that this match was too quick to really leave an impression. I guess by giving Bryan & Kane dominant wins on this week's show it makes up for last week when they lost a non-title match to Team Rhodes Scholars. That's typical of the even booking that WWE usually does.
On the WWE App earlier in the show, Eve talked to Matt Striker. She complained about people not liking her and how the fans should be cheering her. She said she doesn’t need any of this anymore. She quit WWE right there.
Analysis: That was the news that was on the internet earlier on Monday. That's another diva choosing to walk away from the company just like Kelly Kelly, Brie & Nikki Bella and Beth Phoenix all within the last year. Eve improved a lot in 2012, but if her heart isn't in it and she wants to try other things then more power to her. The divas roster is really thin right now, though. It's time to call up some NXT girls and hopefully use my favorite diva Natalya better than they currently are.
Plug time. We have the first episode of TJR Radio in 2013 coming at you Tuesday (today for most of you when you read it) at 10pmET/9pmCT. Join The Ace, Frank the Clown and me as we talk about this week's Raw, the World Title change last week, the Royal Rumble and whatever else you want to talk to us about. We're also on iTunes RIGHT HERE. It's a two hour show that's always a good time, so join us live or listen at that same link after the show is over. We do the show every three weeks or so.
This Friday on Smackdown will be "Alberto Del Rio's Championship Fiesta" in San Antonio.
Backstage, AJ Lee said her favorite Raw moments over the years involved romance. Big E Langston stood beside her as she talked. That led to a video package from June 26, 2005 and the wedding of Edge & Lita. That's when Kane showed up from under the ring/stage to interrupt. Kane gave a Tombstone to the priest.
The next wedding video focused on the Triple H/Stephanie wedding vow renewal from February 11, 2002. Hunter called Stephanie a slut (they bleeped that word out), Hunter knocked down Vince and then Stephanie screamed.
Big E said this wedding moment made him shed a tear. It was from July 23, 2012 when AJ Lee didn't marry Daniel Bryan because she said yes to Vince McMahon to become the GM of Raw. That lasted a few months.
AJ Lee was crying saying it was the best moment of her entire life. She said she lost it because of John Cena. Ziggler showed up to hug her. Ziggler said tonight Cena is going to feel the pain he's caused inside and outside the ring. Ziggler said he's been preparing for this his entire life. He said he would show the world that he was just too damn good and this would be the greatest show stealing performance in the history of Monday night Raw. Show…off. They left.
Analysis: That was a creative way to mix in some old wedding clips and tie it in with the current storyline involving AJ. My favorite moment was the outfit that Trish wore during the Kane/Lita wedding. That was an all-time classic in terms of how gorgeous Trish was in that outfit. Ziggler's promo was very good as usual.
Jim Ross entered the arena. Ross joined the announce team to call the steel cage match that was coming up after the break.
Back to the show, Ziggler was already in the ring. They don't have time to show his whole entrance? That's odd. Jim Ross was at the announce table replacing Michael Cole for this match. JBL told him to replace Cole permanently. John Cena made his entrance to a good reaction.
Steel Cage Match: John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler w/AJ Lee & Big E Langston
You can win via pinfall, submission or exiting the cage. Ziggler tried to run out the door, but Cena stopped that and he hit a suplex. After a nice exchange, Ziggler hit a dropkick for a two count. The "Let's Go Cena/Cena Sucks" chants were loud as Ziggler took control with a neckbreaker and then a jawbreaker for two. Cena went to slingshot Ziggler into the cage, but that just led to Ziggler trying to climb up. Cena brought him back into the ring. They battled on the top rope, which was a battle that Cena won because Ziggler landed crotch first on the top rope. AJ reacted to the move with a very sad expression on her face. Way to sell it, AJ.
Back from the break, Cena & Ziggler were fighting at the top of the cage. They were on the top rope where Ziggler gave Cena a dropkick. During the break, Cena was close to leaving the cage. That didn't work because Langston grabbed his foot outside the ring. Ziggler was able to keep the match going. In the ring, Cena hit his shoulder tackles followed by a spinning suplex. Five Knuckle Shuffle by Cena. He went for the Attitude Adjustment, but Ziggler grabbed the cage. Cena grabbed his tights, which exposed some Ziggler ass and Dolph countered a whip into the cage with a superkick. That got two for Ziggler. Ziggler tried to escape the cage. Cena held his legs while Langston held Ziggler's arms. Cena was able to pull Ziggler back into the ring. Cena went for the STF on Ziggler, but then Ziggler countered it into a sleeper hold. Cena ended up walking towards the ropes with Ziggler on his back, Cena walked up the turnbuckle and he dropped back to counter the sleeper hold. That was an awkward looking spot right there. Both guys were down in the ring. Cena was close to exiting out of the door, but Langston slammed the door into Cena's head. Cena fell back into the ring where Ziggler covered for a two count. Ziggler went out the door. Cena climbed over the top of the cage and kicked the door into Ziggler's face. Cena was close to hitting the floor when Langston started banging the steel cage with a chair. Cena went back into the ring where Ziggler hit a Zig Zag for one…two…no! Cena kicked out. Ziggler tried to climb over the top, but Cena brought him back down to the mat. Cena was perched on the top rope when Ziggler jumped up there to bring back Cena with a huge DDT. I love that spot. That got Ziggler a two count. Meanwhile at ringside AJ Lee was freaking out. Then she started to climb into the cage. Big E Langston entered the cage through the door. Cena avoided that attack and Ziggler ended up throwing his briefcase into Langston's face. Ziggler turned around and Cena gave Ziggler an Attitude Adjustment for the pinfall victory after 16 minutes.
Winner: John Cena
Analysis: ***3/4 Outstanding match! I'm guessing the Cena haters are probably freaking out about the outcome of that match. I'm not a Cena hater, so I enjoyed it. I can understand why people would complain because Ziggler hit Cena with every one of his big moves and Cena kept kicking out of them. All Cena really did was hit the Attitude Adjustment to get the win. I like their chemistry, though. They did an awesome job of building up the nearfalls and the crowd was really into the match. They had to do a creative finish due to the steel cage settling as well as the presence of Big E and AJ outside the ring. I liked what they did. Ziggler was phenomenal like usual while Cena also did a great job. I enjoy their matches quite a bit. Cena's winning the Rumble and WWE Title at WrestleMania. I have written that since August. He lost quite a bit in big matches last year. It's part of the story. It's winning time for him in 2013. His time is now…apparently.
Post match, AJ was sitting at the top of the cage freaking out about what happened. Cena celebrated his victory.
As the show reached the top of the third hour, The Rock made his entrance to a thunderous ovation. He was wearing his "Just Bring It" t-shirt that had a Brahama Bull symbol on the back of it.
The Rock Concert
Rock said he was honored to be out there to end this night. He said he remembered his first night on Raw. They showed a picture of his first time on Raw when he was looking goofy as Rocky Maivia. "Sweet moonwalking baby Jesus what was I thinking?" He said he looked like an escaped mental patient ready to audition for the Backstreet Boys. He says the picture showed us that if you put your mind to it you can overcome anything.
Analysis: Good job by him making fun of himself.
He said he wanted to focus on this Rock concert in Houston. He said the first song would be sung to the tune of Heartbreak Hotel. Rock sang a song about a diva that wore a suit and had floppy breasts…Paul Heyman. Rock said that Heyman's fat covered up his little penis that he hasn't seen in years. "He hasn't seen it…in years."
Analysis: That was okay. Not great.
He grabbed his guitar for the next song. I should point out that he had a stand that likely had the words on it. Smart move. He pointed out Dusty Hill of ZZ Top sitting at ringside. Rock asked how the ladies were doing. They screamed. Rock said that his favorite curve on a woman was her smile. He said the fellas should use that in their repertoire. Rock asked for Vickie Guerrero to come out there. She stood at the top of the ramp.
Rock sang an Eric Clapton song to Vickie, who was smiling at the top of the ramp. The song said that she asked if she looked good, but Rock said "no biatch you look horrible tonight." Rock said she wasted everybody's time, dressed like a hooker - not the expensive kind. Rock told her to take a one way flight because "biatch you look horrible tonight. I said biatch you look horrible tonight." Then everybody joined it to say: "Biatch you look horrible tonight." Loud "Rocky" song for that one. The Clapton song was "Wonderful Tonight" in case you're wondering.
Analysis: I liked that one way better than the first one. It helped that Vickie was there to overreact to everything. The crowd loved it and enjoyed singing along especially to the "biatch you look horrible tonight." That's fun for the whole family!
Rock moved the musical equipment because he wanted to call out somebody right now. He wants to call out the WWE Champion CM Punk. CM Punk and Paul Heyman stood at the top of the ramp. Punk held the WWE Title over his head.
Rock gave Punk a fact: "For 421 days nobody has been able to stop you. Fact - that man beside you - your manager - has Twinkie tits." That led to a "Twinkie tits" chant. It was brief. Rock told Punk that he wasn't God, but as God as Rock's witness in 13 day he will beat CM Punk for the WWE Title. Punk handed the WWE Title to Heyman. Punk whispered something in Heyman's ear.
CM Punk charged the ring where Rock met him outside the ring for a brawl. Referees ran down to break it up. They continued to brawl outside the ring. More officials tried to break up the fight and it ended with them being pulled apart to end the show.
Analysis: I think aside from the "Twinkie tits" line it was an excellent serious promo from Rock. He didn't like when Punk called himself God last week and he looked right at him to say he was going to take the WWE Title from him. That's all we need. Straight to the point.
The brawl at the end was okay. I like to see Raw ending like that once in a while because it ends things on a high note. Usually Raw ends with the long drawn out staring and that's cool once in a while, but they do that too often. Plus with the way they did here they still ended it with the intense staredown between both guys. I'm really looking forward to the match at the Royal Rumble. It's going to be a big one.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Dolph Ziggler
2. John Cena
3. CM Punk
Ric Flair almost made it. It's amazing that the oldest guy on the show has the most energy.
6 out of 10
Last week: 7
2013 Average: 6.5
Last 5 Weeks: 7, 4.5, NA, 3, 5
It was a slightly average show. Last year's Raw average score was a 5.8, so the 6 rating for this week tells you that I thought it was on a similar level to that. There was some good in-ring action especially Cena/Ziggler and promos were decent. I thought that second hour was pretty boring at times, though.
Despite all the hype for the show, this week's Raw did not have a special feel to it aside from clips that showed us some highlights of the last 20 years of the show. I thought we would see guys like Steve Austin, Triple H or Undertaker, but obviously none of them appeared on camera. All we got were Mick Foley and Ric Flair, who was a lot of fun. Speaking of that Triple H guy...
I had to share that. It was too good not to share. Let's just move on.
The Rock/CM Punk storyline was furthered a bit, but not that much. Aside from the brawl at the end there wasn't enough interaction for me. I would expect that next week's Raw (the last one before the Royal Rumble) will be when they have a longer face to face showdown.
Cena beat Ziggler again. The match wasn't that different from last week's match except that this was in a cage. It had the same story since Ziggler kept hitting Cena with everything he could and Cena kept kicking out of his big moves while finding away to get the victory.
Kaitlyn's Divas Title win over Eve was okay. It was probably the best match they've had together, so congrats on that.
I'm pleasantly surprised that Orton lost clean in the way that he did to Barrett. I wonder what that's going to lead to in the future.
Smell ya later, Eve. Thanks for all of that booty poppin' over the years. Is that what they call it? I don't know. I'm tired and just wrote over 7,000 words. I need some scotch.
We have the first episode of TJR Radio in 2013 coming at you Tuesday (today for most of you when you read it) at 10pmET/9pmCT. Join The Ace, Frank the Clown and me as we talk about this week's Raw, the World Title change last week, the Royal Rumble and whatever else you want to talk to us about. We're also on iTunes RIGHT HERE. It's a two hour show that's always a good time, so join us live or listen at that same link after the show is over. We do the show every three weeks or so.
I am re-posting my reviews of every Royal Rumble 30 man (or 20/40 men) only at TJRWrestling.com throughout the month of January. It's a lot of fun to re-live these matches. The most recent posts are about the 2001 Rumble and the 2002 Rumble, so check those out. If you read the 2002 Rumble match review you can see the video of my favorite elimination in the history of the match. At the bottom of the posts you'll find links to all of the Rumble match reviews.
I'll have various other columns through the week on TJR and I've also added LayfieldReport.com to the stable of sites that I post at, so be on the lookout for future columns. I decided to avoid announcing what they are because sometimes I am late posting them or don't get around to finishing them and then people get mad at me. I'll post when I can. Hopefully I'll have two to three posts every week in addition to the Raw Deal (not counting Rumble match reviews).
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org