I started doing retro Raw Deal posts last week because I just passed five years of doing this review column, so I figured it would be a cool way to look back on how WWE has or hasn't changed since that time. The response for last week's post was great and it's not too much of a hassle for me to do this, so you can expect to see it on weekends here on TJRWrestling.com.
What I'll do is paste in what I originally wrote five years ago, then add in 2014 Thoughts in italics after that particular segment. I'm not going to re-watch it. I'm just adding in thoughts to what is already there and grabbing the photos from WWE.com archive too. Let's get to it.
Welcome to my weekly Raw column now known as The Raw Deal. It was a name suggested by a few readers and I liked it enough, so that's the name of it going forward. If you missed last week, basically what I do here is give reactionary thoughts to what happened on Raw without going into the detailed play by play because frankly you can get that elsewhere on the internet. What I do here is go over the matches and segments, praise or criticize when need be and wrap it all up in the final section where you'll see the three stars of the show, my final thoughts and a rating out of ten.
(2014 Thoughts: I really didn't come up with the Raw Deal name. I asked for suggestions and did some online searches to see if anybody else was calling it that, but really didn't see anything else. There was a WWE card game with that name, though. Also, I obviously changed the format of this review along the way because I go with a mostly play by play format mixed with analysis now.)
From Birmingham, Alabama here's the Raw Deal.
(2014 Thoughts: It was the last Raw before the Extreme Rules 2009 PPV. By that point, PPVs had matches from both brands on it.)
Orton promo with Legacy and Flair
I don't mind starting the show off with Orton in ring without hearing that theme music. He ran down Batista with the usual. At this point in the show I wondered if people really care about this feud or if they're as bored of it as I am? Anyway, Cody won a coin toss to "earn" the right to wrestle Batista in the cage. They're protecting Dibiase a lot more since he starred in one of those WWE Films that nobody's going to watch when it comes out at the end of the year. Then Cody gave a promo that nobody believed about beating Batista because cage matches are in his blood. That's about as true as Kennedy last week saying he's going to be the next world champion. Flair interrupted, went nuts like only he can and we got a parking lot fight out of it. That's fine with me. I love how excited Flair got as if he was ready to fight immediately even though they had to wait two hours. Got to love crazy old guys like Flair.
(2014 Thoughts: Remember how much promise that Legacy group had? Five years later Dibiase Jr. is out of the company, Cody is stuck in midcard purgatory and Orton is basically in the same spot. I think my Kennedy joke was pretty funny. Flair was retired a year earlier, but was still in an active role. )
Batista d. Cody Rhodes in a cage (1/2*)
It lasted three minutes. Cody got no offense in. Way to show him, kid. Next.
(2014 Thoughts: They were building up to the Extreme Rules 2009 PPV with Batista as the babyface challenger to Orton's WWE Title, which was going to be a cage match. They used Cody as a jobber to build Batista up. Booking makes sense although didn't help Cody at all.)
Big Show was great in the backstage segment with Vickie and Chavo. I'm all for the berating of The Miz because I think that adds to his character as a douchebag with no friends while Show has really done a good job of being a heartless heel. We find out that Chavo gets "randomly" chosen as Cena's partner in the tag match against Show and Miz.
(2014 Thoughts: I have always enjoyed heel Big Show much more than the babyface version.)
(2014 Thoughts: I miss that Maryse pin.)
Maryse & Beth Phoenix d. Mickie James & Kelly Kelly (*)
They got about three minutes. Maryse pinned Kelly. Typical divas match without much happening.
(2014 Thoughts: A three minute divas match on Raw? Not much has changed. None of those four women still work for WWE. Three of them left when their contracts were up while Mickie was released about a year after this.)
I need to go off on a tangent here because frankly I think the women in this company are used horribly. It's not that I think they lack the talent. Not at all. I honestly think that Maryse, Beth and Mickie are all very good women's wrestlers while Kelly gets better all the time. I also really like Melina, Gail and Michelle over on Smackdown while Natalya's in ring talents aren't being used while she's on ECW. The rest are fine at what they do because they're supporting players. The problem is there hasn't been a good women's story that made fans care about them since what, Trish vs. Mickie three years ago when Mickie came in as Trish's stalker fan? These days in WWE the same formula exists for every women's feud. The champion wins a few matches to establish herself, the next challenger pins the champion in a tag match or goes on some streak to earn the shot and then they either do the switch or keep the belt on the champion. Rinse and repeat. There's never a rivalry. They don't get a chance to build a hatred for eachother. It's just smiling babyface going against bitchy heel week after week without any sense of differentiation from feud to feud. What's the difference between Mickie vs. Maryse this year and Mickie vs. Beth from last year? Well, the belt changed, but other than that it's just a face challenger going against a heel. The company employs 20 women on the three shows, yet they barely get any promo time unless you count Tiffany, who is terribly miscast as an authority figure despite the fact that she is amazingly hot. When was the last time you heard anything from Mickie? I saw Melina bitch slap Alicia Fox on Smackdown a few weeks ago. Good. More of that!
Give us a reason to care about their matches instead of giving us the same 3-6 minute matches on TV every week. Sexy? Sure although not as much as they used to be since the PG rating is there. Smart? I have no idea since they almost never talk. Powerful? If you say so. All I'm saying is invest some time as a writing team to create actual storylines for these divas that are supposedly smart, powerful and sexy. Don't tell me they are with your slogans, show me they are! Also, for the 10 or so that never seem to be used why not make them managers or pair them up with male wrestlers so that they can actually show some personality once in a while? It's not hard to do this stuff. It just takes some effort, which is obviously something that the WWE creative team is not interested in doing. A terrible waste of talent.
(2014 Thoughts: That was a passionate rant huh? Nothing has really changed. Babyface divas almost never get to talk in WWE while there is a lack of character development throughout the roster on the diva side. It's a damn shame, really.)
That felt good. By the way, I saw a bit of that "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here" show with Torrie Wilson on it. That moron Spencer Pratt was mad at her, so he called her a steroid user. What a genius that guy is. I feel like I'm a better person for never having watched a show like The Hills or knowing who this tool is. Being famous because a camera follows you around to show how much of an idiot you are in your daily life is not something to be proud of. Torrie looked nice in the bikini by the way, but not so much the rest of the time although part of it is obviously the surroundings of being in a jungle. I won't be watching that show again.
(2014 Thoughts: I really have no recollection of that show. Alcohol is my friend.)
The Colon Brothers d. Matt Hardy and William Regal (*1/4)
This was fine for a formulaic tag team match. They beat up Primo, he got the hot tag to Carlito, the makeshift heel team messed up and it cost them the match when Carlito hit his finisher. Would love to see an actual feud for the Colons that leads to a PPV match.
(2014 Thoughts: The Carlito/Primo team worked well together although I always liked Carlito more as a heel. I can't remember Hardy & Regal teaming together too often, so this was one of those rare things. The tag division wasn't too strong in 2009.)
Flair talked to Batista backstage in a segment that I thought was poorly acted. The gist of it was that Flair wants him to be an understanding friend that lets him have his fight with Orton because he needs it to prove that he's still got it.
(2014 Thoughts: No idea if he a said "woo" in there at some point. I'll just assume he did.)
They actually had Vickie snort like a pig while Hardy and Regal told her they had a plan. Feel the comedy.
(2014 Thoughts: Oh WWE. Way to be respectful towards a woman. I'm sure they thought it was okay because she's a heel, but that's just sad.)
John Cena & Chavo d. Big Show and The Miz (*1/4)
This was fine, albeit brief. I thought it would have been better to have Miz pin Chavo instead of having Chavo win. Then again, nobody's going to remember it a week from now. This was all about building the idea that Cena won't be able to make Show submit. I'm not sure how they're going to book it, but after seeing this I'm fairly certain that Cena's winning on Sunday. I'd be fine with a Show win, though, because Cena needs to be vulnerable sometimes.
(2014 Thoughts: I swear the "Cena needs to be vulnerable sometimes" thing was not a joke. They were building up to Cena vs. Show at Extreme Rules in a Submission Match. Why was Show in a Submission Match? I don't know. Seems like a bad idea to me. Cena beat Show in a 20 minute match. It was probably awful. I don't remember it. Glad I don't.)
I enjoyed the brief backstage interview with MVP and Kingston. We need more of that. It shows the competitive fire of both guys without having either one of them come off as jerks.
Kofi Kingston d. MVP to win the US Title (***1/4)
This was terrific. Reminded me of the good days of Smackdown from 2002-2003 when they actually had longer matches that told a story through the wrestling. Giving them 12 minutes was fine with me. Babyface title matches work best when they are competitive and when it's treated like a special thing if the belt changes hands. That's what they did here. It was back and forth with each guy getting multiple nearfalls, not being able to hit their finishers and then having that final sequence where Kingston pulls it out by countering MVP's attempt to get the win. Post match was good with MVP looking upset at losing, which helps the value of a belt that rarely gets defended on PPV. It's also good to see Kofi being genuinely excited about winning it. We need more of this on Raw. It doesn't have to be face vs. face. We just need more competitive singles matches that don't always have a ref bump or a ridiculous finish to tarnish the work put in.
(2014 Thoughts: I looked it up. They received 12 minutes. No surprise that it was very good considering the quality of the performers. I miss MVP in WWE. He's in TNA now, but I quit watching that show back in September and have no interest in giving it another look. MVP was always better as a heel to me. Kingston was still pretty new at this point, so him winning the US Title was a big deal. He went on to win many midcard titles in the last five years.)
They've added Kingston vs. MVP vs. Regal vs. Matt Hardy for the US title at Extreme Rules. I'd expect Kingston to retain while hoping there's another singles match against MVP somewhere down the line. My preference is that Kingston holds onto the belt going forward while MVP moves up the food chain to become a main eventer sooner rather than later. I hope that's the plan.
(2014 Thoughts: Kingston retained at the PPV. I can remember writing a lot during that time about how much I wanted MVP to become a main eventer. Sadly, it never happened.)
How do you follow up a great match? With the Santino/Vickie feud. Ugh. I like Santino, but this is awful. On Sunday "Santina" is going to dump the slop on Vickie the pig (because if you're unlike the smart, powerful and sexy WWE divas who have no fat on them you are a pig) and the announcers are going to laugh at it as if it's the funniest thing they've ever seen. And it won't be.
(2014 Thoughts: That's really not a good recap of what happened, but you could tell I was very frustrated by things and had no interest in writing a lot about it I do remember the Santina/Vickie Hogpen Match at Extreme Rules that was one of the worst "matches" WWE has ever done. So stupid.)
Randy Orton fights Ric Flair outside then inside the cage
This started out as cheesy in the parking lot setting, so I'm glad they took it out to the ring. I'm sure that some people are going to gripe about Flair getting too much offense in on Orton, but I'm okay with it. Flair was fired up, he was rested and he had a lot of hate in him, so it makes sense that he would look strong before tiring out. The problem is it makes Orton look weak initially, but I think by the end he came out of it well. That beatdown after the other Legacy members came out was great. Reminded me of the Horsemen beating up Dusty Rhodes in a cage except the crowd wasn't nearly as loud in this case.
(2014 Thoughts: It was a productive way to build up Orton as a ruthless heel by using the cage to help promote the cage match against Batista. Flair was beloved by the fans, so the heels got heat by beating him up. Old school wrestling angle right there.)
The problem is this whole thing makes Batista look like a complete moron…unless it leads to him turning heel soon. I understand that Flair wants to fight his own battle, but where's his friend when he is on the receiving end of a 3 on 1 beatdown? They beat him up for two minutes before throwing him in the cage and locking it. Batista cares so much that he'll only come out after he's locked in a cage. Then he apparently doesn't realize you can climb into a cage just as you could climb out of it. The drama was good with Orton hitting the RKO on Flair, then waiting a good minute to unleash the kick, which Batista saw coming. I thought the intensity there was better than what these two have done in the past, so at least the build to the match ended on the right note. It's good if you forget that Batista's a terrible friend that comes out too slowly to help out a 60 year old man. Of course if he turns heel soon then they can reference this night by saying he let Flair get beat up instead of helping him like a real friend would. I guess I'm being too picky by actually using my brain to think about this stuff.
(2014 Thoughts: Batista ended up beating Orton for the WWE Title in the cage match rather easily in under 10 minutes, then he got hurt soon after and moved over to Smackdown later in 2009 when he was healthy. That's when he turned heel.)
Three Stars of the Show
1. Randy Orton – He has really reached an awesome comfort zone as the top heel. It's just a shame that there really aren't fresh babyfaces to make him even better.
2. Kofi/MVP – Easily the best match of the night.
3. Ric Flair – Probably the last time we see him for a long time. His energy was a nice addition to the show.
(2014 Thoughts: It was the last appearance for Flair. His WWE deal was up the next day. He ended up going to TNA soon after.)
Aside from the terrible Santino/Vickie stuff, this show did a good job of promoting an Extreme Rules PPV that did not have that much hype behind it beforehand. While I'm not that excited about Orton vs. Batista because it has been done before, they did a better job in making me care about it than they did in the previous week. I'm also pleased that they added the US title match to the PPV because I think Kofi and MVP deserve that even though it is a four way at Extreme Rules instead of a straight rematch. I'm not sure what to think about Show/Cena. Their build here was okay, but I have my reservations about them making the fans care about a submission match.
Overall, I have to say it was much better than last week. Good promos, a very good US title match and a much better job of getting fans interested in the main program means a happy WWE viewer in me.
Rating: 7 (out of 10)
Last week: 3
(2014 Thoughts: That score seems a bit high. There really wasn't that much that was exciting, but I'm a nice guy and it was early in my Raw Deal days so it got a higher score than it probably deserved. It reads like a 5.5 or 6 type of show to me.)
That's all for this week. Please let me know what you think via the comment box below or contact me using any of the methods you see here.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org