It's retro Raw Deal time. This one is even longer than normal because it came one night after WWE's PPV titled The Bash on June 28, 2009 so I threw in plenty of thoughts about that too. Back then I wasn't writing all the PPV recaps out like I am these days. I paste in what I wrote originally five years ago and add in (2014 Thoughts) after the key matches and segments. There was also a 15 person trade that I cover at the end of this, so it's a loaded edition. Let's get to it.
Welcome to the Raw Deal for the last Raw of June. There are a lot of things to get to this week first with some thoughts on The Bash from Sunday, then of course this week's Raw and after that I'll talk about the 15 person trade that was posted on WWE.com after the show was over.
(2014 Thoughts: Remember when brands mattered and trades happened? Feels like longer than five years ago. I miss the brand extension days.)
The Deal on…The Bash
I watched it on Sunday night and I liked it for the most part. It had a good atmosphere right from the get go and the booking was similar to what I had predicted on Friday. A predictable show isn't bad. Judgment Day was unpredictable and that was bad. It's all about telling the stories the right way. That's what really matters. I'll just give out some quick thoughts with star ratings.
Dreamer retains ECW Title - This was fine for an opener. I like scramble matches once in a while. I think it would be good to do one of those when they need a number one contender instead of a tournament or battle royal just for something different. I'm fine with Dreamer retaining because the belt doesn't matter much anyway. (**1/4)
(2014 Thoughts: That wasn't very descriptive of me, but the four others in the match were Christian, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry and Finlay. They had a Scramble match that saw Dreamer retain. WWE stopped doing Scramble matches. I didn't hate them, but I get why they did.)
Mysterio over Jericho for IC Title - Loved it. Absolutely loved it. Even though you knew Mysterio was winning that match, they kept you interested the entire time and I loved the final spot with Mysterio having a second mask on. The counters were sick. Jericho's codebreaker was great, turning the rana into a powerbomb was awesome and then Mysterio countering with the second mask was even better. I loved the double springboard splash too. That's how you book a feud and a final match (I assume) with the babyface winning. To me this is the feud of the year so far although I would have liked if they had four or five months to tell the story instead of rushing it in only two or three months. Second best match of the year (Edge/Cena at Backlash would be third) behind Michaels/Taker at Mania, which probably won't be topped. Find this match and watch it, people. Pro wrestling at its best. (****1/4)
(2014 Thoughts: This was mask vs. title and we knew Mysterio wasn't losing, but it was still awesome. It was one of the best matches of the year. That finish with Mysterio having a second mask on underneath was fantastic. I remember the match well. Michaels/Undertaker was not topped, by the way. It may never be.)
Ziggler over Khali - Didn't even watch this one. I stepped out for ten minutes and felt better for it. Anything that leads to Kane vs. Khali is not good.
(2014 Thoughts: I don't remember this at all, so had to read a review of what happened. Ziggler was a cocky heel that challenged anybody to a match with no DQ, Khali answered it and Kane came out at the end to beat Khali with a chair leading to Ziggler's win. My last sentence is very true.)
Edge & Jericho over Colons and Legacy for the tag belts - I love Edge and Jericho together. That booking was fun. The tag belts suck anyway, might as well put them on the best and get them on all the shows if they're able to defend on all three brands (or at least two) like I believe they will. Team Ego rules. (**)
(2014 Thoughts: Since Edge and Jericho weren't in the main event picture at the time it made sense to have them win the gold in a surprise manner. Basically WWE wanted to make the tag titles seem more important by putting them on two workhorses. Sadly, the team didn't last long due to a major injury suffered by Edge.)
McCool over Melina - I enjoyed it enough. They told a pretty good story. McCool's developed into a very good heel women's wrestler and she deserves the belt. (*1/2)
(2014 Thoughts: I don't really remember anything from it, but McCool did improve a lot during this period. That's absolutely true.)
Jeff Hardy over CM Punk but Punk retains World Title - The booking of this match was fantastic. The "I didn't know it was the ref" excuse rules. This is how you turn people heel. Take your time. Don't rush it. The fans are going to boo everything Punk says from now on and he doesn't have to change his behavior that much. Hardy is great as the unlucky babyface while Punk can really do a good job of acting smug. I like this feud a lot. (***)
(2014 Thoughts: Punk got hit in the eye and then hit the ref claiming he couldn't really tell who it was. Totally cheap finish that worked with the story. I really loved this feud. Earlier I mentioned Jericho/Mysterio as a contender for feud of the year. It was, but Hardy/Punk was the best one by the end of 2009. They still went two more months after this, which was awesome.)
John Cena over Miz - It went like I thought. They went about six minutes, Miz got some offense in, but then he lost convincingly. I'm sure some didn't like it because they think Miz should have done more against Cena. I didn't expect that to happen. Right or wrong (probably wrong), that's how WWE books their younger wrestlers against the more established guys. (*)
(2014 Thoughts: It was a rare Cena match that went short on time on a PPV although if it went any longer Miz would have really looked out of place. He just didn't compare to Cena's star power or look like he belonged to be in a feud with him at that point.)
Randy Orton over HHH in a 3 Stages of Hell match - It's a shame that the regular fall and falls count anywhere fall were so short because I hate stretcher matches. The drama for pushing a guy over a yellow line is terrible. Legacy coming out to help Orton was predictable, then they kept it going even after that with a sledgehammer under a trap door. Then he loses because of the piece of metal covering the trap door. Whatever. Why should I feel bad for the guy that's main evented for TEN YEARS, that has held world titles more than anybody in company history, that gets title matches constantly and is married to the boss' daughter? The match was fine, but Last Man Standing on Monday was better. (**1/2)
(2014 Thoughts: My point about Triple H was very valid. It was a poor feud. I don't know how else to say it except I was so sick of anything Orton/Hunter by this point and it didn't even end here. Enough already!)
It was an average PPV. I'd give it 5 out of 10 mainly for Jericho/Mysterio being awesome. The rest was average or below average especially those last two matches.
(2014 Thoughts: That seems fair to me.)
From San Jose, California here's the Raw Deal…
Crazy Old Guy Vince...
It didn't take long for him to say something that made no sense. Apparently Trump made some 15 person trade (I'll talk about that after Raw) and that his idea for a special guest GM every week apparently exists even though Vince bought back Raw from him. How does it still exist? Or more importantly why does it exist? Let me lay this out for you so you understand. If I buy something from somebody it's mine. I can do what I want. If I buy a red car I can paint it black. If I buy a house I can put wood floor instead of carpet. If I buy Raw I have to do what the guy that owned the show for one week wanted to do. Um, okay? Maybe it's a condition of the sale, which would again make Vince McMahon the worst businessman ever for not only paying double, but also doing what Trump wanted. I guess we'll throw our brain out the window again and just move on.
(2014 Thoughts: Once again that feud was terrible and this was just another part of it that sucked. It was a major stretch that they would say Trump's trade was legal or that the GM thing was a Trump idea that they had to stick with. I'm not sure what the creative team was thinking during this period of time, but it really was one of the stupidest angles WWE has ever done.)
(2014 Thoughts: Give him credit for pulling off the suit look even with a big arm brace. He had surgery on it.)
...Introduces Batista as GM for the night
Good to see Dave back I guess, but he hasn't been gone that long. I don't know about you, but if I was a wrestler and somebody broke my arm and I had a chance to get revenge on that person a few weeks later I would book him in a 35 on 1 handicap match for his title to take away the possession that he cherishes the most. That's just me. Dave's different. He decides to have a four person tourney for the right to face Orton at the PPV while also putting Orton in a three man gauntlet match against three new Raw superstars. Orton talked too, saying it was unfair and things of that nature. I had no idea who the three people would be, so I guess it was good in terms of being unpredictable. It also probably led to people going to wwe.com to see the list after the show (I know I did), so in that sense it's good that they kept the names quiet.
(2014 Thoughts: I feel like I made a valid point there. Shouldn't he want to make things even more difficult for Orton? That's the problem with the GMs or guest GMs. They book the shows exactly the same as everybody else because it's the same creative team writing these segments. If the creative team was actually creative then they would make them do different stuff, but instead it's always the same things.)
Triple H d. MVP in the most obvious word title tourney ever (*1/2)
This was fine for a TV match. I liked how MVP worked over the left leg quite a bit. One thing about HHH that I really like is that he sells injuries for weeks unlike some people. It reminds me of Bret Hart that way, who was the best at selling injuries for more than one show. I don't think anybody thought that MVP was winning here, which obviously is a shame. That's what happens when you barely use a guy that should be featured every single week in a prominent role.
(2014 Thoughts: If you think that Triple H was losing to MVP then you need to pay closer attention. It only went about five minutes.)
Chris Jericho & Edge (Team Ego) d. Carlito & Primo to retain the tag titles (**)
I'm calling them Team Ego because that name needs to take off. Jim Ross used it on Smackdown on Friday and I hope it continues. I loved their pre-match promo too. I like everything about Jericho and Edge these days. They're the two best performers in the company. I hope they keep the belts for a couple months because whoever does beat them is going to gain some credibility because of who they are. The finish was great with Jericho shoving Primo into the ropes, which stopped Carlito's springboard and led to Edge's spear for the win. Good booking there. Post match, Carlito blamed Primo. Gee, I wonder where this is headed.
(2014 Thoughts: You could see how enthusiastic I was about the Jericho/Edge alliance. If Edge didn't tear his Achilles they probably would have teamed together for the rest of the year, then Edge would have went face and they would have feuded around WrestleMania. That last part ended up happening after Edge came back.)
Backstage, Batista warned the Legacy boys that if Cody and Ted interfered in Orton's match they'd be fired. That's nice.
(2014 Thoughts: At least there's some story continuity.)
John Cena d. The Miz in the most obvious word title tourney ever (**1/2)
I liked it. I'm sure some will complain about Cena beating him clean two nights in a row, but honestly what did you expect? Cena's the top guy and they're not going to put anybody over him, especially clean. Even somebody of Edge's calibre beat him at Backlash only because Show chokeslammed him into the spotlight literally. I don't think Cena has a problem with putting people over. It's just that Vince McMahon views him as his top money earner (he is, by far) and sees no reason to change that. I personally like Cena as a performer. Miz impressed me with his offense because he kept going at Cena. I liked all the punches he threw. I like how rabid he was. It makes perfect sense. I think he desperately needs a finishing move better than his high knee into a neckbreaker combo in order for people to react to his nearfalls. I was hoping Miz would move from this into a feud with Kofi Kingston over the US Title although after what we saw later in the show it doesn't look like that will happen.
(2014 Thoughts: That meant that Cena and Triple H advanced in this poorly planned tournament. Shocking! As for what I wrote about Cena, it was very true then. It's even more true now. That's what pisses off a lot of people. Miz did need a new finisher. He got the Skull Crushing Finale, which is good enough for him. This was a 14 minute match even though Cena beat him in about five minutes one night earlier.)
We find out from Ted that next week's GM is his dad the Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase Sr. Nice. Love that guy. Orton wants to know how it helps him this week. No answer. I don't mind promoting the GM a week early.
(2014 Thoughts: Everybody has a price.)
Mickie James d. Beth Phoenix, Rosa and Kelly Kelly in a fatal fourway (*1/4)
I liked it just fine. They gave them more time than normal it seemed, but they also missed on a few spots along the way too. It was pretty obvious that Mickie was winning, which is fine because she deserves it. I love Maryse on commentary too. It adds more to her bitchy character. I've got no problems with Mickie vs. Maryse as the title feud because they deserve it.
(2014 Thoughts: This was a six minute match with an obvious winner because Mickie was feuding with Maryse already. It led to a title match at Night of Champions a month after this. There was a slow build to the match, which I liked.)
Kofi Kingston wrestled Big Show to a no contest (*)
It seemed very rushed since they only got about three minutes. I'm not sure about this pairing. I'm sure there'll be more of this in the future with the way it was booked with the double countout. I'd prefer to keep the US Title on Kingston, though, so it'll be interesting to see how they put him over Show if they eventually do that.
(2014 Thoughts: I really don't remember this match or feud. Show ended up becoming Jericho's new partner soon after this due to Edge's injury, so whatever story they were going for here was dropped. Kingston ended up defending the US Title in a six pack challenge at Night of Champions.)
Randy Orton d. Evan Bourne, Jack Swagger and loses to Mark Henry (*)
This was an interesting medley. I liked seeing Bourne against Orton although it was rather predictable. What was up with the announcers calling Orton's top rope RKO on Bourne a "running bulldog?" They even said it more than once. Weird. I really liked seeing Swagger volunteer to not wrestle Orton. He'd be a perfect fit in the Legacy group although I guess it's only for people that are second generation wrestlers. The group needs a power guy, which is a role that's suited well for him. Not sure if that's where they're going, but I'd like it. I'm definitely a fan of Swagger.
(2014 Thoughts: Legacy would have been a more formidable group with a fourth guy. They did fine as a main heel group on Raw, but they lacked that something extra to be great. One more member would have helped them. I still believe that.)
For the third guy I didn't know who it was going to be. There really weren't babyface wrestlers that could benefit from pinning Orton in a vulnerable state. I thought maybe Christian, but I also know Vince never thinks that highly of him. When it was Mark Henry I thought...huh? The crowd responded to him more than I thought in part because they hate Orton so much. It's a credit to Orton as a heel for a guy like Mark Henry, a WWE employee for over 12 years now, to be cheered. I don't think Henry pinning Orton is a good sign for the future. I'd rather see a guy like MVP in that spot, or Christian like I said. As we all know, Vince loves the big guys and always will.
(2014 Thoughts: The idea of the match was that guest GM Batista was making things difficult for Orton, so after he beat two guys he had to deal with a big guy like Henry. At this point Henry wasn't really pushed a whole lot. It was WWE's way of bringing him back as a babyface after being away for a while. It took another two years for Henry to really take off as a heel on the Smackdown brand.)
By the way, the theme song of Mark Henry when he was Sexual Chocolate is one of my favorites ever for its cheesiness. It's sexual, baby. Those lyrics were godly.
(2014 Thoughts: That's a statement full of truth right there!)
Three Stars of the Show
1. Randy Orton - I thought he did a great job in putting over somebody like Henry while also doing well in selling his injuries.
2. The Miz - He impressed me in what really was one of the biggest singles matches of his career to date.
3. Chris Jericho & Edge - I just love seeing them together as a team even though it won't last long. They're both at their absolute peak of performers, so it's great to see.
(2014 Thoughts: I really was excited for Team Ego huh? Such a shame that it ended so quickly.)
I liked the show. My complaint in the past was that there was not enough in-ring action on recent editions of Raw. This show made up for that. There were less of the meaningless backstage segments that usually were only good for killing time and more done to get characters over because they allowed them to tell stories in the ring. I like that. I hope it continues as a trend for future editions of Raw. Nothing was that memorable, but nothing was that bad either. Let's call it a slightly above average show this week with the potential to be much better going forward.
Rating: 6 (out of 10)
Last week: 3
(2014 Thoughts: That seems like a generous grade on my part. I was nicer back in the day.)
* * *
Thoughts on the 15 Person Trade
To Raw: Gail Kim, Alicia Fox, Jack Swagger, Evan Bourne and Mark Henry
The trade is good for Raw because Swagger and Bourne are much needed additions as fresh young faces to a show full of stale individuals. Swagger's my boy and I like Bourne a lot for his athleticism. Not so crazy about Henry being pushed as a babyface threat to the title, but Vince is always going to like his big guys. He's better than Kozlov or Khali at least. Man, I'm too positive lately. Not sure why they took two Divas off Smackdown when they have less of them on that show. Kim hasn't been used properly since coming back to WWE.
(2014 Thoughts: As you can see from the end of Raw, they tried to make a big deal about the three guys that they traded for by putting them in the main event of the show. Also I'm pretty sure Swagger was dating Fox in those days. He ended up marrying a model, so good for him.)
To Smackdown: Matt Hardy, Finlay, David Hart Smith, Tyson Kidd and Natalya
I like Hardy as a heel, but moving him from to show to show so often probably isn't a good thing for him. I guess his latest injury means he won't be there immediately. Finlay's basically the coach for the younger wrestlers, so they probably felt the need for him to help the younger wrestlers there. The Hart clan to Smackdown is terrific. They're ready to be on one of the bigger shows, so I'm glad to see the move was made. I hope Natalya gets pushed towards the title eventually because she's such a good wrestler that hasn't had a chance to show it yet in WWE.
(2014 Thoughts: I was definitely most excited about Smith, Kidd and Natalya heading to Smackdown. They ended up getting a really good push as the Hart Dynasty and one of the best teams in WWE during that period. Hardy had one more year in WWE after this that didn't go too well for him.)
To ECW: Shelton Benjamin, Goldust, William Regal, Nikki & Brie Bella
We're supposed to believe that Tiffany traded away five promising younger superstars so that she can acquire two 40 year olds, the twins that barely know how to wrestle and a guy in Shelton Benjamin who has been moved around so much he never seems to have an identity or home? Go writing team.
ECW's logic on this trade boggles the mind. Here's a copy of the email that GM Tiffany received:
"Hey Tiffany, those trades you made were amazing.
The Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Nationals"
Oh well, at least I'll enjoy Benjamin vs. Christian. Speaking of Christian, I wish he went to Smackdown to feud with Edge or align with him. He's done enough on ECW. Hopefully there's another random trade to get him there sooner rather than later.
(2014 Thoughts: I remember Benjamin was pretty solid on ECW. Goldust did have an entertaining feud with a newcomer named Sheamus that really helped Sheamus come off as a badass. I have no memory of the Bella Twins on ECW. It always seemed like they were on Raw with the guest hosts week after week. In terms of value and logic, it really was an awful trade.)
I like the fact that they did trades. I wish they did it in other years. It is pretty random, though. I think they should have said something like "next week we will announce who is switching brands via a trade" and it will lead people to tune in the next week to see just who they are. They kind of threw it out there in the middle of a Vince promo, then barely mentioned it the rest of the night and didn't even tell fans to check out WWE.com for the full trade results.
(2014 Thoughts: It definitely could have been handled better. That can be said about a lot of things with the brand extension especially when they got ECW involved.)
That's all for this one. It was longer than usual due to the PPV and the trades. 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