Live from Nashville, Tennessee this is the Raw Deal for episode #1069. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.

There was a video package that summarized some recent events. It's "Raw Country" night in Nashville. The band Florida Georgia Line is there to perform. It's Big E Langston vs. Curtis Axel for the IC Title later in the show. There's also a 12 man tag match based on the brawl that ended last week's show. The announcers are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & John Bradshaw Layfield.

Triple H and Stephanie Pantsuit McMahon made their entrance to open the show. They were on vacation last week, but they are back as the announcers mentioned several times in the first three minutes. Hunter said without authority, chaos rules. He said they were disappointed with how Raw turned out last week. Me too for about 2 hours and 45 minutes of it until the end of it. Stephanie said they were incredibly well rested. She mentioned this Sunday is Survivor Series.

The WWE Champion Randy Orton made his way down to the ring. He walked quickly for a change. Orton was mad about all the bad things that happened to him like when he got chokeslammed through the announce table last week. He feels they should be protecting their most valuable asset. Hunter made sure to tell him that Orton is the face of THEIR company. Stephanie said there was some confusion from last week. There was a point when Hunter asked Orton: "Who the hell do you think you're talking to?" Orton: "The WWE Champion and face of this company." Oops. Perhaps Randy thought Hunter asked "who do you think you are" instead.

Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox walked out for this promo-fest. Maddox said that last week was all Vickie's fault. Hunter said it didn't matter whose fault it is. They all have to pay tonight. Stephanie put Vickie in a match against AJ Lee. Hunter put Maddox in a match with Randy Orton right now. Maddox was in a suit, so he wasn't ready. Hunter made it a No Disqualification match. Maddox tried to leave, but Kane (red tie, of course) made sure he stayed out there.

Analysis: There's the ten minute opening segment. It set up two matches featuring the GMs that made mistakes last week. At least there's some storyline continuity. Some weeks there isn't any of that, so I don't mind seeing them set these matches up.

Curtis Axel defends the IC Title against Big E Langston later in the show.

(Commercial)

No Disqualification Match: Randy Orton vs. Brad Maddox

Maddox was wrestling in his dress clothes. Maddox grabbed a microphone to try to talk his way out of it, but Orton got him. Maddox hit Orton in the head with a microphone and then shoved Orton into the ring post. A DDT by Maddox earned him a two count. Orton gave him this "WTF" kind of stare and threw him outside the ring. Orton threw him into the steel steps as well as the ring post. Orton DDT on the floor with Maddox's legs draped off the barricade. Back in the ring, Orton punched Maddox while holding the microphone in his hands. He punched him about a dozen times. Maddox was knocked out. The ref called for the bell. The match went about four minutes.

Winner by Knockout: Randy Orton

Analysis: It was what it should have been. I actually liked the finish a lot because it wasn't a pinfall. It was an angry Orton beating the hell out of Maddox because he was so upset about what happened last week. That finish works once in a while. It made sense in this case. They could have gone with a really short match, but I like how they booked it.

Big Show vs. Ryback coming up later. Curtis Axel defends the IC Title against Big E Langston after the break. In my 10 Questions & Answers column about Survivor Series I mentioned that Langston never really got another shot at Dean Ambrose after not getting pinned in their US Title matches. Now he gets a IC Title match. Okay then.

(Commercial)

The Survivor Series kickoff show panel features WWE Hall of Famers Bret Hart, Booker T and Mick Foley. That's great.

Replay of Orton destroying Maddox. During the break, Maddox was stretchered out. Vickie Guerrero looked on with a scared look on her face.

Intercontinental Championship: Curtis Axel vs. Big E Langston

There was an edit for Langston's song a bit. They did the announcement of the competitors in the ring. Backbreaker by Langston as he dominated early on. Axel tried to run away, but Langston knocked him down with a clothesline. Axel was able to get momentum on his side after draping Langston's neck on the top rope. They went to break with Axel in control.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Langston broke free of a chinlock, but Axel connected with a perfect dropkick for two. Langston broke free of a chinlock by shoving Axel away and hit a couple of clotheslines after that. Belly to belly by Langston. Big splash earned him a two count. Good nearfall for that. Axel fought back with a neckbreaker attempt. Langston broke free with another clothesline. Langston hit The Big Ending to win the match after 9 minutes. There was a good reaction for it.

Winner by pinfall and New Intercontinental Champion: Big E Langston

Analysis: ** It was fine for the time given. Langston continues to impress me while Axel is solid, but not spectacular. They treated it like a big deal, so I like that. The problem is that Axel's five month title reign was pretty boring. He didn't have a defining feud or matches that were very memorable. This matchup had no build. Why not do it at Survivor Series? I imagine that they wanted to do the title switch at Hell in a Cell, but Axel was hurt so they just went ahead with it now. It would have been nice if they built it up a bit, though. That suggests poor long term planning to me. That's a problem with a lot of the flat storylines in WWE.

In the locker room, Randy Orton was with The Shield. He told them they will have his back at Survivor Series. Reigns said if that's what The Authority wants then that's what he'll get. They wanted Orton to have their back too. He just nodded at them.

Analysis: It didn't seem like a necessary segment to me. Maybe I'll be proven wrong later. It felt pretty random, though. I guess the point is that Orton is worried about facing Big Show.

(Commercial)

Divas Musical Chairs

The divas were in the ring for musical chairs hosted by Jerry Lawler. I'm not naming them all. They were dressed like country girls. Hey there's Kaitlyn. I've missed her. The divas walked around in a circle around the chairs. Natalya was the first one out. JBL: "This is the dumbest thing I've ever seen." Alicia Fox was next. The girls ended up shoving each other. The game ended with the girls breaking up into catfights. The crowd was chanting for Jerry as JBL claimed to be chanting for a commercial. The girls from Total Divas were in the ring while the others were outside.

Analysis: What the hell was that? An awful segment even though they were nice to look at. JBL ripped it from the beginning too, which was pretty funny. It seriously was one of those segments that made me want to turn the show off and not turn it back. I don't know how that segment makes it in a script, how somebody says "yeah that's a great idea" and how it actually airs. It was the kind of thing that makes me wonder what the creative team does all day if this is a way they fill up a three hour show.

By the way, I think Nikki Bella looked the sluttiest, which is probably why John Cena wants her to sign a contract to live in his mansion. Yes I watch Total Divas. Deal with it. I think that was some of Cena's best work as he was basically saying "sign this if you want to live in MY house." I hope to be that rich one day.

The 12 man tag is coming up. Big Show vs. Ryback up next.

Speaking of CM Punk (he's in the 12 man tag), this Marc Maron podcast with CM Punk is outstanding: bit.ly/1f9eoPZ It's an hour. Unfiltered talk. Listen to it. Trust me.

(Commercial)

Big Show vs. Ryback

Show hit some big chops on Ryback early in the match. Shoulder block by Show sent Ryback outside the ring. Back in the ring, Ryback took Show down with a shoulder block to the knee. Leg drop by Ryback and then a splash for two. Long headlock by Ryback and then a snap DDT for two. How about another chinlock? I don't want to see one, but he does it. Back suplex by Big Show. Show went for some of his offense, but that didn't last after a Ryback spinebuster. Show grabbed him by the throat. You could see Show say "knee" more than once, then Ryback kneed him to the gut twice. Running clothesline by Ryback. Ryback picked up Show for the Shellshock and he hit it for a two count. There was a big pop for that spot. Ryback picked him up, Show shoved him into the ropes and Show hit the KO Punch to win the match after 8 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Big Show

Analysis: *1/2 It was really boring in the middle, but they finished it off well. Crowd didn't care about much of it. The word is that Ryback is going face soon, so that's why he's turning into a jobber right now. When WWE turns somebody they tend to have them lose a lot of matches before it (he lost to R-Truth recently too) because they think it will be forgotten after the turn. I think they had him hit Shellshock just to pop the crowd a bit. The face turn is coming for Ryback. Good win for Show.

Post match, Randy Orton showed up for a sneak attack. Big Show saw him and decked him with a spear. Orton left the ring.

Analysis: That was pretty random. Well done, though. I expect Orton to retain the WWE Title on Sunday. No reason for him to drop it to Big Show.

Backstage, Zack Ryder was talking to the band Florida Georgia Line. 3MB walked up to them and said they were called the Rhinestone Cowboys.

Analysis: Forgettable segment.

We'll hear from John Cena later. That's right. Somebody that is always on the show will be on the show. Shocking development.

(Commercial)

Randy Orton was in the trainer's room. He put an ice bag on his ribs. He wondered where The Shield was. He wondered where The Authority was. He told the trainer to leave. At least he didn't tell the cameraman to leave. He's a sweetheart like that.

Prior to the next match, Cole mentioned that The Real Americans will challenge Goldust & Cody Rhodes for the tag titles on Smackdown.

The Real Americans Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) vs. Kofi Kingston & The Miz

Miz hit the running clothesline in the corner on Cesaro followed by a double axehandle off the top. Cesaro hit a backbreaker on Miz and then tagged in Swagger, who hit a clothesline on Miz outside the ring. Nice double team move that led to a double foot stomp by Cesaro on the chest of Miz. Kingston made the hot tag and he was on fire with a dropkick on Swagger followed by a leaping clothesline. There's the Boom Drop. Boots to the face of Cesaro, but Swagger caught him in the middle with a slam for two. Kingston flipped out of a clothesline by Swagger with a DDT. That was an awesome counter. A replay would be nice. Kingston went for the tag, but Miz dropped off the apron. Swagger went after the ankle of Kingston. He applied the Patriot Lock. Kingston tapped out. The match went 5 minutes.

Winners by submission: Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger

Analysis: *1/2 There's the heel turn for The Miz. I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago. It's the best thing for his career. He turned face a year ago. It didn't really work. It's better for him to go back to being a heel. The announcers didn't focus on it enough. No Cesaro Swing? What a shame. It was announced on WWE.com that it will be The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston in the Survivor Series Kickoff Match.

Vickie Guerrero walked up to the trainer's room, knocked on the door and pretended to faint.

(Commercial)

They replayed Vickie's fainting. They put Vickie on a stretcher. Stephanie said they should take her to the hospital...right after her match. Vickie was wheeled down to the ring on a gurney. She was screaming during the whole thing, which caused me to hit mute.

AJ Lee (w/Tamina Snuka) vs. Vickie Guerrero

Vickie fainted again. She tried to leave, but AJ threw her back in the ring. If you're a fan of Vickie's cleavage you got some of that here. She shows more than the other divas. AJ applied the Black Widow. Vickie tapped out. The "match" went about two minutes.

Winner by submission: AJ Lee

Post match, Vickie didn't even sell the injury. She just fainted again.

Analysis: A few days ago on the European tour, AJ legitimately fainted while in a tag match. She fell off the apron. The match was stopped. The diagnosis was she was dehydrated. Of course that's what they used for this match. I'm not sure who in WWE thinks it's funny to mock somebody that legitimately fainted, but that's what they did here. I don't think it's that funny. It was a stupid segment.

It was announced that there would be a 7 on 7 traditional elimination tag team divas match at Survivor Series. Try to say that 5 times fast. The match is this: Natalya, The Bellas, The Funkadactyls, JoJo & Eva Marie vs. Divas Champion AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka, Kaitlyn, Rosa, Summer Rae, Aksana & Alicia Fox.

Analysis: The face team is the cast from Total Divas. The other team are heels except Kaitlyn, who is barely on TV anymore. I'm not sure where Layla is. I also think it's ridiculous that women like Jojo and Rosa (among others) are wrestling at Survivor Series while guys like Sandow & Ziggler don't even have a match. It would have been better if it was Natalya vs. AJ Lee for the Divas Title in a 8-10 minute match.

Triple H was in his office with Damien Sandow and Dolph Ziggler. He put them in a "Broadway Brawl" and said he didn't even know what it means. Way to sell a match! He told them to make it entertaining. Did he say that to the girls in the musical chairs segment too? The Broadway part refers to the Broadway street in Nashville.

(Commercial)

David Otunga is on the cover of Muscle & Fitness. When's the last time he was in a match on WWE TV? At least they realize he's not very good. He'd work well as a GM or a manager. Not a very good wrestler.

Broadway Brawl: Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow

There were musical instruments in the ring for the match including guitars and drums. Ziggler wrestled in his t-shirt. I'm not sure why although I guess it helps when bumping into objects. Sandow threw Ziggler into the steps. He went for a guitar shot, but Ziggler moved and Ziggler took him out with a dive outside the ring. Back in the ring, Ziggler hit a dropkick that sent Sandow to the floor. Ziggler went to the top, so Sandow shoved him off and Ziggler went crashing into a keyboard. They went to break there.

(Commercial)

As they returned from break, Cole mentioned that Lawler was showing him selfies. Do the announcers even care? I don't know. Sandow hit Ziggler in the head with a guitar. Ziggler came back with a leaping DDT. Ziggler hit him in the back with a fiddle followed by a Fameasser for two. Sandow whipped Ziggler head first into a steel chair that was wedged between the top/middle ropes. No chair shots to the head are allowed in WWE, but that move is apparently. Sandow whipped Ziggler into a cello that was against the turnbuckle. Sandow charged with a guitar, which led to Ziggler moving out of the way and he got a two count. Ziggler smashed a snare drum on Sandow's head and then the bigger bass drum. Crowd loved that. Ziggler grabbed a guitar, did a Double J strut and smashed the guitar on Sandow's head. The drum was still on Sandow's shoulders. Ziggler still covered for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler

Analysis: **1/4 They tried their best, but the stipulations of the match were so unique that it was hard for the crowd to get into it. They basically used the instruments as weapons. At least the uses of the drum drew a good reaction. The finish was well done. These are two of my favorite guys, but they're not even in an announced match at Survivor Series. Maybe they should have been Total Divas.

Randy Orton went up to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in their office. He said he should be respected. He asked if he had their confidence as the face of WWE. Stephanie said they need to think about it. That ended the scene.

John Cena welcomed Florida Georgia Line to the show. Cena promo time is up next.

(Commercial)

Throughout the show they kept plugging various country music artists on iTunes.

The World Champion John Cena walked into the ring with his left arm in a sling. Clips of Cena's left arm getting attacked on both Raw and Smackdown were shown. Cena said he isn't in the best mood, but he thanks the fans for their excitement. He spoke about maybe he came back too soon and maybe he shouldn't be World Champion again. Then he said he saw the atmosphere around here and realized damn right he should be the champion. A champion fights. In 6 days, Del Rio doesn't know who he steps in the ring with. He spoke about performing in front of his family in Boston and said after Survivor Series he'll say that the "champ is here" like he always says.

Alberto Del Rio's music started up. Cole & Lawler were worried for Cena. That's almost comical to me. Del Rio called Cena a real superhero. Del Rio said Cena made him almost cry, so Cena said on Sunday he'll make him tap. Del Rio wanted Cena to show us that he could hold that title up with his left arm. Cena said he'll be ready on Sunday. Del Rio said Cena would be embarrassed in front of his friends and family. Del Rio went into the ring to go face to face with Cena. Cena said a real champion does take advantage of opportunities. He threw off the sling to show his arm was fine. He went for the Attitude Adjustment, but Del Rio slipped out of it. ADR left up the ramp. Cena's music played to end the segment.

Analysis: This storyline is flat. Cena faking the injury was a clever way of outsmarting Del Rio, but it's not like Cena is the guy that needs to look strong. I was thinking that they would add a stipulation to their match at Survivor Series like a Submission Match or something of that nature. That didn't happen. It's just a regular match again. Nobody thinks Del Rio is going to win the World Title back. Even though Cena got the advantage here he's still going to keep the World Title. They could do another angle on Smackdown to make Del Rio look stronger.

Next week's Raw has a guest host: Michael Strahan. He's a former New York Giants NFL star defensive end and a co-host of the morning show Live with Kelly & Michael. I like Strahan a lot. I think he'll do fine. That doesn't mean I want to see guest hosts all the time. I just think he's a good choice.

(Commercial)

The Rhinestone Cowboys (3MB) made their entrance. Apparently they get a new name every week. R-Truth entered with Xavier Woods as his tag team partner. It's the debut of Woods, who started in WWE developmental over three years ago. He's only 27 years old and is one of the guys from NXT with the brightest future. He was Consequences Creed in TNA. He also teamed up with Truth in TNA too. JBL said "so that's Xavier Woods" because in the past he joked about how he didn't know who he was.

R-Truth & Xavier Woods vs. Jinder Mahal & Drew McIntyre (w/Heath Slater)

Woods with a nice dropkick on Mahal. Cole mentioned he has two degrees and is working on his PhD now. McIntyre hit a running boot on Woods. He made the tag to Truth, who hit a front suplex on McIntyre. Slater jumped on the apron, so Woods knocked him down. Suplex into a stunner by Truth. He tagged in Woods who said "it's Morphin Time" before hitting the Honor Roll (flip into a clothesline). I guess he's a Power Rangers fan. Woods won the match with his finisher Lost in the Woods that sees him put his boot to the face of his opponent while grabbing their arm. I know Gail Kim calls it "Eat Defeat" (eat da feet?) in TNA. The match went about three minutes.

Winners by pinfall: R-Truth & Xavier Woods

Analysis: * I have no problem with WWE introducing Woods this way. He gets to team with a veteran performer like R-Truth and we get another tag team to join the tag division that continues to get stronger in WWE. As for 3MB, they're the heel jobber tag team. Changing their name every week doesn't really add anything to them.

Back in the office, Stephanie and Hunter showed up to tell Randy that they have confidence in him. Hunter said at Survivor Series there will be no Shield, no interference and no help. If Orton has confidence in himself then he will beat Big Show. If Orton wins then he deserves to be the face of WWE. Orton said he would show them confidence.

Analysis: Just remember, heels lie.

(Commercial)

This Friday on Smackdown it's Cody Rhodes & Goldust defending the tag titles against The Real Americans. That should be good. Give them 15 minutes please.

Clips were shown of the WrestleMania 30 ticket sales party in New Orleans that had several WWE stars show up to meet the fans. Hopefully it's a better show than WrestleMania 29 was. I plan on going. I haven't got my tickets yet. The prices are ridiculously high. Of course they are. Despite what WWE says, it won't sell out. There's plenty of time to get tickets.

The band Florida Georgia Line sang "Round Here." They sang from the stage. It was four minutes. I honestly have never heard the song before and had only heard of this band briefly. I don't mind that kind of thing once in a while.

Daniel Bryan and CM Punk made their entrance. Bryan has a new shirt that is a goat with a beard.

(Commercial)

Back from break, we saw Goldust, Cody Rhodes and The Usos in the ring with their partners. The Shield made their entrance. The Wyatt Family made their entrance.

CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Jimmy & Jey Uso vs. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan & Luke Harper

This is not an elimination tag. The heel team had a staredown before the match. There were a lot of quick tags early on so that everybody could get some moves in. Rowan kept the sheep mask on while on the apron because he's dedicated like that. Goldust gave Rollins an inverted atomic drop and running boot to the face for two. Jey Uso tagged in. Rollins hit him with a back elbow to the face. Rollins was mad at Harper for tagging himself in. The two heel stables argued outside the ring as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

The heels isolated Cody Rhodes in their corner. There were a lot of quick tags as they worked together to prevent Cody from tagging in. I should note that the Shield guys were only tagging themselves in while the Wyatt Family waited on the apron. Ambrose gave Cody a hard whip into the corner. Suplex by Ambrose for two. Cody hit a front suplex on Rollins. Harper tagged Rollins in the back as Rollins yelled at him about it. Cody hit Harper with a Disaster Kick. Bryan received the hot tag as he hit some dropkicks including a running dropkick to the back of the neck on Harper. German Suplex on Rollins, who landed right on his head. Ouch! That could have been really bad. Bryan sent Reigns outside the ring, then he charged at Harper, who came back with a running powerbomb out of the corner. Harper got a two count as Bray Wyatt tagged in with the crowd chanting for CM Punk. Wyatt reluctantly tagged in Reigns as their team made quick tags while working over Bryan. Hard back elbow by Rowan knocked down Bryan. Bryan created some space after hitting a running knee on Ambrose. He was about to make the tag, but just as that was about to happen all the heels knocked the faces off the apron. Good spot right there.

(Commercial)

Bryan was still fighting to tag in somebody from his team. He hit a huge counter DDT on Reigns. Hot tag to CM Punk, who finally tagged in. Double neckbreaker on Ambrose & Rollins. Running knee to Ambrose and to Reigns as well. Another knee to Ambrose followed by the clothesline and the Flying Elbow off the top rope. Ambrose was the legal man for his team. Wyatt went into the ring, so Punk hit him with a roundhouse kick. Anaconda Vice by Punk on Ambrose. He was saved by Harper & Rowan. The Usos took out Harper & Rowan with dives over the top rope. Ambrose hit his face first DDT. Goldust saved Punk. Reigns hit Spear on Goldust. Cody hit Disaster Kick on Reigns. Rollins powerbomb on Cody into the turnbuckle. Punk held up Rollins for Bryan to hit the Hart Attack clothesline. I'm marking out bro! Bryan with the Flying Goat dive on Wyatt. Punk sent Rollins outside the ring. Punk hit Ambrose with the GTS to win the match after 24 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Jimmy & Jey Uso

Analysis: ***3/4 It was excellent main event tag match as expected. The last 7 minutes were especially great with all of the big moves leading up to the exciting finish. I loved that Hart Attack clothesline so damn much. Maybe that's the Canadian in me, but it's also the Hart Foundation fan in me as well. The babyfaces winning was the right move. If this match was done as an elimination match at Survivor Series it could have been very special. I still liked it here, but they could have had a class 30-40 minute match. That would have been worth a PPV buy right there. I'm not complaining about getting a great match on television. I'm just saying they should do a better job of making PPV matches special.

Post match, the Real Americans showed up to beat on some babyfaces. They're part of the elimination tag at Survivor Series. Rey Mysterio's music started p and he came out for the save. He hit the 619 on Swagger & Harper at the same time. Punk hit Harper with the GTS. Bryan nailed Harper with the running knee to the face. Mysterio celebrated with Punk & Bryan. All the babyfaces were in the ring celebrating together. Plenty of "yes" chants of course.

Analysis: It's nice to see Rey Mysterio back. I'll always be a fan of his. Hopefully he can stay healthy and have one more good run to end his career in the next couple of years. He's been at it for nearly 20 years. It was a very happy ending to the last show before Survivor Series. Mysterio is part of the babyface team in the elimination tag at Survivor as confirmed on WWE.com.

----

Three Stars of the Show

The 12 guys in the main event deserve it. That's obvious.

If Hillbilly Jim was on he'd be first. "Don't go messing with a country boy." I'm joking. Maybe.

 

The Scoreboard

4.5 out of 10

Last week: 6.5

2013 Average: 5.82

2013 High: 8.5 (August 27)

2013 Low: 3.5 (January 28)

Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 5, 6.5, 6, 5

 

Final Thoughts

It's the same formula we saw last week. Most of the show was poor except for the main event, which was a lot of fun. There were some really bad segments that made me give this show a rating below 5 out of 10. I almost feel like 4.5 is me being generous too.

Hey WWE, we know Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were on vacation last week. You said it about 57 times. Get the damn midcard some storylines that are interesting. You can't even book a storyline for the IC Title change. Worry about building midcard storylines and giving your talent something to work with. Stop putting yourselves over so much. Enough already.

Whoever booked the musical chairs thing on Raw and thought "great idea" should be fired. So bad.

I don't know what else to say except that it's a shame that the WWE product isn't hot right now. The talent is there. The booking is not consistent. I don't know what word to give it at this point, so I'll leave that up to you to decide for yourself.

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The preview of Survivor Series should be up on Saturday morning and a recap of the show up on Monday.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

John Canton - mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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