You should know how these retro Raw Deal columns work now. I paste in what I wrote originally five years ago and add in (2014 Thoughts) after the key matches and segments. This show took place two weeks before WWE's second June PPV of 2009 that was titled The Bash. Let's get to it.
Welcome to the Raw Deal for a three hour edition of Raw featuring three major title matches (okay, really it's just two plus ECW) with performers from all three brands on the show.
(2014 Thoughts: This was back when the three hour show was rare. I didn't mind it as much back then. These days I'm really getting tired of three hour Raw. Back to two hours please!)
Before I begin, I have to make note about the passing of a legend in Japan, Mitsuharu Misawa. I haven't watched much Japanese wrestling in my life, but I once owned three Misawa comp tapes and I think anybody that's ever watched him can attest that he was a very special performer. Look him up, watch a match and you can see from a pure wrestling standpoint that he truly was great. RIP Misawa.
(2014 Thoughts: He really was awesome. So sad that he did in the ring too.)
From Charlotte, North Carolina here's the Raw Deal…
Intercontinental Title: Chris Jericho (c) d. Rey Mysterio (***)
Jericho's pre-match promo was terrific, basically telling Mysterio that protecting his mask will be his downfall. This is shaping up to be the feud of the year, which would be the second year in a row for Jericho since his feud with Michaels last year was the best thing on WWE TV. And he had a major role in booking both of them. Too bad he couldn't book the whole show. Maybe it would make sense. The match was great as expected, but that's no surprise. I could watch these two wrestle every week for a year and not get bored by it. They're good enough to always keep me interested. Loved the finish with Mysterio having the advantage, Jericho countering by grabbing at his mask and Mysterio fighting that off, only to succumb to the Codebreaker for the loss. Very similar to their Extreme Rules match. I'm assuming this feud continues hopefully until Summerslam when Jericho's title goes on the line against Mysterio's mask with Rey winning it. Rey should never take the mask off in WWE. He did it in WCW ten years ago and it made him just another guy. Keep it on him to differentiate him from the pack. I also wonder if somebody was curious to see his face that hasn't seen it before, don't they just google it and see it? I just typed in "Rey Mysterio unmasked" and dozens of pics just showed up. I guess the assumption on WWE's part is if we don't show you his face you'll never see his face…even though you have the internet at your fingertips. For storyline sake, keep the mask on the guy. There's nothing to gain by taking it off.
(2014 Thoughts: I always loved their matches going back to their WCW days. They had amazing chemistry all the time. The feud only ended up lasting until the next PPV titled The Bash a few weeks after this when Mysterio won the IC Title in a Mask vs. Title match. I do remember that match fondly.)
Hey, there's Orton backstage. Didn't he get destroyed by HHH? I guess he's fine. There's Cena do to a promo that wasn't very good. I swear they should just let Cena write his own promos. He's more creative than the writers they got for him and at least it would feel more natural. Trust your performers, Vince!
(2014 Thoughts: That wasn't very descriptive. I'd apologize, but I don't remember it.)
Vince tells us in a promo that somebody bought Raw. It was for sale? Sure. Let's run with it. The person he sold it to isn't somebody you'd expect. Ted Turner? Mike Tyson? Bin Laden? Kermit the Frog? Stan Kroenke? Tiffany? George Bush? We'll find out after the title match. I really had no idea. I was hoping for Mike Adamle, personally, just for the promos again. Or is it THE Mike Adamle?
(2014 Thoughts: Stupid angle alert! Sound the alarm!)
ECW Title: Tommy Dreamer (c) d. Christian (*1/4)
Three title matches! Three hours! All three brands! And they got about four minutes. Feel the extremeness of a match ending with a small package! How do they expect fans to care about titles, especially the third "world title" in the company when they don't even trust the wrestlers to have a match for ten or more minutes on a three hour show? I don't get this company sometimes. Can we please get Christian off this brand so that he can feud with Edge, who needs a new feud, right now? Please?
(2014 Thoughts: Heavy sarcasm to start and a plea to end it. We never did get that real Christian/Edge feud following their original one in 2001.)
The Bella girls that don't do anything talked to Kelly about the buyer. Oprah? I wish. Paris Hilton? She is that stupid. Obama? Vince hates him, so sure. The best part was when they wondered if they would lose their jobs. What do the Bella Twins do anyway? I guess they wrestle sometimes. Who knew?
(2014 Thoughts: That segment sounds terrible. The acting level in it must have damaged my brain cells to the point that I completely forgot about it. And that's okay.)
Here's another video of Batista getting beaten up that we saw about 45 minutes ago at the start of the show. This time they included disgusting clips of his biceps muscle being repaired. Fun for the whole family!
(2014 Thoughts: I've never liked the clips of people having surgery. I get it. They went under the knife. Don't show me!)
Vacant WWE Title: Randy Orton d. Triple H, John Cena and Big Show in a Fatal Fourway (**3/4)
(2014 Thoughts: The title was vacant because of Batista's arm injury. You would think a match of that stature would be the main event of the show, but it was not.)
I love how Big Show gets a title shot even though he lost at WrestleMania clean, plus he lost to Cena at JDay and Extreme Rules clean both times. Why should fans care about titles or number one contender matches when you constantly give title shots to people that lose? I'm not saying that he's a bad performer or that he's not worthy. It's just that when you have him lose these big matches all the time you're telling your viewers that he's a loser.
(2014 Thoughts: I was never given an explanation. I would like one.)
Anyway, the match was actually well booked with some believable nearfalls happening throughout with Orton mostly being the one that broke up the pin attempts. Big Show's offensive run in matches like these are great, by the way. That's when he's at his absolute best. Being in multi-man matches is the best thing for him because he moves at such a slow pace that it makes his singles matches too slow. One of my favorite three ways ever was Angle vs. Lesnar vs. Show at Vengeance 2003. Hell of a match. Where was I? Oh yeah, Show's run of dominance ended thanks to a HHH Pedigree, which then led to Cena hitting the FU (I hate the new name) on HHH.
(2014 Thoughts: Once they went PG in 2008 they started calling the FU the Attitude Adjustment. I never really liked it. Still don't, but I understand why they did it.)
Orton slimed his way in, chucked Cena into the post, hit the RKO on Show and that was it. Good booking. Orton outsmarted everyone just as the top heel should. Orton gets his fifth title even though he never should have lost his fourth one, but these are the things they do for ratings, or at least try to do. Solid match. Can't complain too much because they hit all the spots they needed to hit and did a good job making you think somebody else would win even though obviously it was going to be Orton the whole time. And I agree with that because he should be the champ.
(2014 Thoughts: Show got pinned because HHH faced Orton at The Bash PPV and of course Cena wasn't going to lose because he's Cena. Duh.)
The new "owner" of Raw is…
Big reveal time. The new owner of Raw is Donald Trump. What? And the crowd goes…mild. Even as Trump tried to run down Vince by saying that he was unfair to the fans and to promote a commercial free Raw next week the crowd didn't react to this at all. They clearly wanted Flair. I don't blame them. I would have wanted Flair too. What I'm looking forward to is if the media outlets are stupid enough to give Vince the press he wants by actually believing Trump is the new owner of Raw.
(2014 Thoughts: There were people that actually believed it. WWE had to send out a press release explaining that it was a storyline. The media is stupid.)
I love Trump back if only for the sheer comedy of it all. He's terrible at reading lines off the monitor. He sounds as if he's a person in real estate (which he is) trying to play a TV character (which he is not). There's no believability in the things that he says. How many people believe that he actually watches WWE or Raw? It's great unintentional comedy that we haven't seen in WWE since Mike Adamle was there.
(2014 Thoughts: Five years later I am still not a fan of anything involving Trump. I thought this was stupid immediately. I was right.)
It already got off on the wrong foot if you listen to the crowd reactions. The key will be if they put somebody on as GM. Trump's not going to be on every week, nor should he. Maybe they hire Flair as the GM, which would be fine with me. Wait and see before really judging this angle. By the way, Trump's young trophy wife is awesome. Who says money can't buy you happiness? He's a 60 year old man with awful hair, but look at his gorgeous wife. Money can buy you anything, kids. Remember that. His daughter Ivanka? Very nice! High five!
(2014 Thoughts: He lasted a whole week. The angle was a major flop. It was wrong of me to have any sort of optimism about it. That's what I get for being positive.)
Hey, all this makes me wonder can I buy ECW? I have $20 in my pocket.
(2014 Thoughts: I decided to use my money on beer instead. Probably.)
Ten man battle royal later to determine Orton's new opponent. Why even have the other eight guys when you know it's HHH or Cena? Oh yeah, they need three hours to kill. My bad.
(2014 Thoughts: I was right after the first name. So were most fans watching.)
Mickie James d. Rosa Mendes (1/4*)
Nothing I'm going to remember the second I'm finished writing about it. Rosa's still pretty green obviously, but I do like her ring presence. The good thing is at least the Mickie/Maryse rivalry is making some sense, so hopefully they get a PPV match out of that. Maryse can flip her hair in my direction any time she wants, for the record. I think Maryse and Mickie are close as my favorite diva in the post-Trish era. When Trish was around, nobody was close.
(2014 Thoughts: The Trish line is true. Maryse never really surpassed Mickie for me. Nobody did. Also, the Maryse/Mickie match did happen at a PPV although they skipped The Bash and did it at Night of Champions one month later. As for Rosa, has she even improved in the ring in the last five years? Don't think so.)
Hey, there's Goldust and Hornswoggle shooting t-shirts to the crowd. Maybe we can see this kind of excitement live next week with no commercials! Wow! Thanks Donald!
(2014 Thoughts: Yes, I really hated the Trump thing.)
Anyway, here comes The Miz for his weekly promo to try to get him over with the crowd even though they never seem to have enough faith in the guy to put him in an actual match. Wouldn't that be a good barometer to tell if the crowd truly hates him? Cena's done, he's the future, blah blah…hey there's Goldust and Horny. Yes, Ahmed Johnson reference! Man, that was like 14 years ago. I feel old. Goldust told him that everybody went to take a piss when Miz talked, so he should change his name to The Wiz. Vince probably came up with that amazing joke. Maybe Goldust doesn't realize that's his name because his real name is Mike Mizanin?
(2014 Thoughts: I still think Vince loved that joke. It's his kind of humor.)
Miz took exception to being called pee, gave Goldust a DDT and then shot Horny in the nuts with the t-shirt gun! Yes! That was great. Reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer's a movie judge: "Barney's movie was great, but football in the groin is a football in the groin." The message is people getting hit in the groin is always funny. It's even better when it's a little person or old person getting hit there. It's a shame the announcers didn't go into their serious, quiet voices when Horny took that shot. Would have made it that much funnier. Basically Miz is mean for doing this. I actually like him for it. I'm perverse. If you want to relive the greatness of "t-shirt in the groin" here's the GIF link for ya: T-shirt to the groin. You're welcome.
(2014 Thoughts: This sounds like a terrible segment saved only by the hilarity of a t-shirt to the groin of a little person. I'm glad I have completely forgotten it, but I feel bad for reminding you about it.)
Punk talked backstage basically saying he's not a bad guy for doing what he did. Yep, he's turning heel.
World Title: CM Punk d. Edge and Jeff Hardy in a Triple Threat (***1/2)
(2014 Thoughts: One retired due to injury, one guy left when his contract was up a few months after this and the other one quit because he didn't like the creative direction of the company in 2014. I miss all three.)
Best match of the night. Like I said about Jericho/Mysterio earlier, I won't get sick of Edge vs. Jeff Hardy ever. They had a good, nearly four star match on Smackdown this past week while wrestling a different kind of match from their PPV ladder match. That's the epitome of a good worker. You have to be able to work well no matter the stipulations or settings in the match. These two can do it. This match was a lot of fun. I liked the story of the match with Hardy being the one that by all rights should have won the match, yet he somehow found a way to get screwed out of the title by the end of it. He was aggressive going after Punk when he landed knee first on the ring steps, then he had Edge finished with the Twist of Fate and Swanton, but Punk snuck in and stole it from him by pinning Edge after the Swanton. The crowd didn't really like the heel Punk winning. I enjoyed every second of the match. Post match, Teddy Long announced Punk vs. Hardy at The Bash PPV that's in 13 days even though they have barely promoted it.
(2014 Thoughts: I don't really remember the match, but considering all three guys are awesome in the ring it's no surprise that I would rate it at 3.5 stars out of 5. It did feel silly that they would have a four way and three way match on the same show. A lot of the same nearfall spots get repeated when you do that. The "sneak in the ring to steal the pin after a finish" move is something they always used to do in triple threats. At least they've cut back on them in recent years.)
Clearly they're pushing Punk in the direction of a heel because JR's commentary suggests that while his actions hint at it. It would have been even better if he faked the knee injury at the end of the match. That would have worked great. I'm not sure about Punk's heel turn because Smackdown already has two great heels in Jericho and Edge, who should both maintain that heel status for a long time. I guess Edge as a face would be different although he never really thrived in that role the way he does as a heel. Very cool of Punk to have "Misawa" written on his wrist tape, by the way.
(2014 Thoughts: My concern about not enough room for Punk as a heel on Smackdown was legit at the time, but everything worked out. Edge tore his Achilles tendon soon after this while Jericho became mostly a tag team wrestler with Big Show as tag champs - Edge was his original partner - and that allowed more room for Punk to take over as the top heel on Smackdown. Punk's heel turn was really well done and a lot of fun to watch. Here's a pic that shows the Misawa wrist tape too.)
Is it a shock that the two Smackdown matches on the show were great? I'd write about that show regularly except that I find my reviews would be repetitive because it's generally such a good show. How many times can you say Edge, Jericho, Hardy, Mysterio, Punk did a great job, you know? Plus, I hate the Friday night timeslot. I'm usually not in the mood to sit in front of the computer on the weekend to write about wrestling.
(2014 Thoughts: I really did love Smackdown that year and did some reviews that summer although it didn't really last. I don't think I'll re-post them. Smackdown was clearly the better WWE show in 2009. By a lot.)
Carlito & Primo vs. David Hart Smith & Tyson Kidd ends in a DQ (*)
Legacy was out there doing commentary trying to show some personality. Honestly, though, they both come off as being very bland. Maybe it's the writing, maybe it's them. I'm not sure yet. At least they're getting a PPV match after months of doing nothing. The match wasn't much because it was over in about three minutes thanks to Legacy coming in to attack the Colon brothers. It's the first tag team feud in about two months. That's nice.
(2014 Thoughts: It was just a short match to set up the Carlito & Primo vs. Rhodes & Dibiase match at Payback, but they added Jericho & Edge to it to put the tag titles on them. In other words, WWE realized the tag division was hurting so they added some star power to it.)
Comedy time with Vince, who was sitting on a couch with Santino. Trump called Vince (we didn't hear Trump) to say he's got another announcement after the battle royal. The comedy ended when Santino told Vince that compared to Trump he wasn't that rich. I chuckled a bit. I admit it.
(2014 Thoughts: Valid point by Santino. Funny too.)
Ten Man Battle Royal: Triple H d. John Cena, Big Show, MVP, Matt Hardy, William Regal, Ted Dibiase, Cody Rhodes, Kofi Kingston and The Miz (**1/4)
This was predictable, but fine. You knew HHH and Cena were going to be the last two even though it would have been nice to see something else for a change. Does the second place person matter that much? What if Miz eliminated Cena while cheating? That would help him out. I would have liked to see MVP do more than be one of the first ones eliminated. Have the guy hang in there with HHH and Cena. Why not make him one of the final two just to tease something different for once? What's gained by having somebody like Regal lasting longer than him? I realize that fans won't remember this battle royal by the time next week comes around, but maybe if somebody like MVP did something of significance in a match like this they would cheer for him more than they do. They could have had MVP eliminate Cena here, then have him challenge Cena for the PPV and they could have a competitive, 12 minute PPV match that Cena wins cleanly while MVP puts up a great fight. Then they can team up against Miz and Show, which could then lead to Miz vs. Cena and Show vs. MVP down the road. That puts MVP over because he's won the respect of a top guy like Cena. Instead, he's stuck in the midcard with nothing to do again. Anyway, more HHH vs. Orton. What a shock.
(2014 Thoughts: Look at all my ideas. None of them happened although Miz & Show did team eventually, just not in the way I suggested it. Why did none of my ideas happen? Because all that matters in WWE is Orton, HHH and Cena. That's why I loved Smackdown more than Raw in 2009.)
The Donald's Big Announcement is…
Next week on the commercial free Raw we're going to see Orton defend the title against HHH in a Last Man Standing match.
(2014 Thoughts: Yawn. And I like LMS matches too.)
I thought it would be about a new GM. I was wrong. Basically they're giving us a PPV main event level match on free TV six days before they're going to try to convince you to spend $40 or more to see the same match again on a PPV that they've barely promoted. In other words, ratings are more important than PPV buys, which is the kind of backwards thinking that killed WCW. I'm not saying WWE is going to die. It's just that TV should be used to create interest in the PPVs, not to make people disinterested in them.
(2014 Thoughts: Think about it. They had Orton and Hunter in the same match on this show. Then Hunter won the main event on this show after he lost an earlier match. The next week they're having a LMS match. Then at the PPV they were having another match, which was Three Stages of Hell. Keep in mind that this was after several months of Orton and Hunter feuding earlier in 2009 to the point that nobody cared when they headlined WrestleMania. Absolutely brutal booking. That's another reason why Smackdown was much more enjoyable.)
Three Stars of the Show
1. Jeff Hardy – He was awesome. I hope he re-signs, but if he does choose to take time off I can't say I blame him.
(2014 Thoughts: He left after his contract expired post SummerSlam and hasn't been back.)
2. Chris Jericho – When he says he's the best in the business he's right. Edge is a close second.
3. Hornswoggle – T-shirt to the groin! T-shirt to the groin! My God, Hornswoggle's little Horn is broken in half! T-shirt to the groin!
(2014 Thoughts: A worthy third star!)
It's hard not to like a show that gives us three matches at the three star level plus a battle royal was booked well, even though it was pretty obvious. The high score this show receives is for the quality matches we saw in the ring. I'm not as crazy about some of the booking decisions or the Trump announcement, but I'll refrain from ripping it. There are plenty of ways to make it better, that's for sure. Hopefully they do that by bringing in a new GM next week. Good show this week for the most part.
Rating: 7.5 (out of 10)
Last week: 5
(2014 Thoughts: Aside from the idea of more Orton vs. Hunter matches and the Trump announcement I did like most of the show.)
That's all for this time. Next one is the commercial free Raw. 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