The 20th anniversary of Monday Night Raw promises to be a big night, on par with the 1000th episode. Coming off last week’s show where CM Punk returned to pipe bomb mode after beating Ryback, only to have the smack laid down on him by the Rock, the bar is set pretty high. Before we get to that though, there were two pretty significant things that happened last week that need to be mentioned.
First off, Alberto Del Rio beating Big Show in a last man standing match to win the World Heavyweight Championship. This is a big deal for a number of reasons, first off for a major title changing hands on a taped show. WWE had to spoil it themselves to get ahead of all the bloggers that would post it after taping on Tuesday. This was a smart move and probably drew more people to Smackdown that normal. Hell I almost watched it live myself. Second, this changes the whole outlook of the title scene. It has to be assumed that there will be a rematch at the Royal Rumble, and Ziggler is much more likely to take it from Del Rio than Big Show. This also creates the opportunity for Wade Barrett or (more likely) Randy Orton after a heel turn to challenge for the belt. We’ve run out of logical challenges to Big Show. Third, and most importantly, the match was really good. Show put Del Rio through a table early on. Del Rio applied the cross arm breaker while being dangled outside the ring by Show. Show got drop kicked into a table. Lots of good spots and the crowd was into it. Del Rio got hit with every move Show had and each time he got up the crowd went nuts. Then when Alberto started throwing the steel steps at Show repeatedly the crowd got louder each time (helped by Ricardo cheerleading). Del Rio pushing the announce table on top of Show was the finisher, and with Rey Mysterio out again and Sin Cara unable to get over, Del Rio is firmly established as the number one latino face of the WWE.
The other news from last week is that after 100 episodes, Zack Ryder will no longer be doing the Z! True Long Island Story. It says a lot about how Ryder feels things are going with his character and the WWE. He has not been shy about making his opinions public, and it certainly hasn’t helped him move ahead in the company. The only thing that really kept him relevant was his web show, which is what got him pushed in the first place. After the WWE took control of the show however, it became much more of a drag to produce, and Ryder began to hate doing it. So now that it’s done, how does he get attention again? He’s been the dope from Long Island for a while now. Perhaps it is time for a makeover. Maybe even a heel turn. He certainly has enough to be angry about. It was a pretty epic finale if I do say so myself.
Now that that’s out of the way, on to Raw.
Things started off with a montage off all the previous show opens (except for the current one oddly enough), and Vince McMahon in the ring. He essentially kisses his own ass for being smart enough to start Monday Night Raw. Then he goes through the lineup for tonight’s show, featuring John Cena versus Dolph Ziggler (again?) in a steel cage match (okay fine) and a rock concert from the Rock. Again, Rock is repeating the same act over and over. Soon after the announcements, Big Show comes out to complain about losing his title last week. McMahon makes Show address him as Mr. McMahon and Big Show essentially is a neutered version of his former self. Vince makes fun of him by saying he looks like he lost weight (referring to the belt) and calling up the footage of him losing. For whatever reason, Big Show just takes it. What happened to his iron clad contract where he can do whatever he wants? Big Show says he was put in a match he wasn’t ready for, and that Booker T is jealous of Show, and wants to push Del Rio to the Latino community (at least that part is true). Show suggests that Del Rio is stripped of his title, which brings out the new champion. He comes out without a car, wearing the colors of the Mexican flag in place of his traditional black and gold. Kinda lame. We know he’s Mexican, we don’t need it shoved in our face. Del Rio challenges Show to a match for the title on Raw, but Big Show refuses because he is not ready for a match. Alberto tells him to show some cojones (that means balls!) for once and accept. Big Show says he is not going to waste his rematch now, and suggests the Royal Rumble instead. Del Rio calls Show a fat jackass (in spanish) and a “SI” chant gets going. Ricardo then pulls a page from the Harlem Globetrotter’s playbook, throwing a bucket of confetti that Big Show thought was water. Show then goes after Ricardo and gets kicked out of the ring by Del Rio (Alberto pulling off a hurricarrana on Show will be forgotten from this). If Show takes the title back in two weeks forget everything I said at the top of this recap.
The first match of the night puts Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett against Randy Orton. Still waiting on that Orton heel turn and now there are rumors that he will be taking time off soon for a personal matter (not wellness related). Orton has been feuding a little with Cesaro too, because it’s impossible to keep the US and IC titles from being connected somehow. It’s all Orton early, with Randy hitting a back body drop outside the ring onto the guard rail padding. Back in the ring for a moment, Barrett is then clotheslined outside again. Wade doesn’t show any offense until they come back from commercial but it’s little more than head locks. Finally he gets some real offense going, hitting the high boot with Orton tangled in the ropes. It doesn’t last long though as Randy turns the match back in his favor, hitting his signature moves including the second rope DDT. However Barrett gets out of the RKO and lands a bull hammer elbow to knock out Orton and take the match. A surprising finish for sure and a sign that Orton’s vacation is definitely coming. He just lost clean to the IC champ. Meanwhile, the Barrett push continues.
Backstage Booker T and Teddy Long informed Eve that after last week’s match, there has been a stipulation to her Divas’ Championship match against Kaitlyn. Now Eve will lose the title if she gets counted out or disqualified. Eve starts flirting with Booker to get out of it but Booker just laughs in her face and walks away. Teddy laughs at her as well and gets slapped in the face. Poor Teddy. Eve is another performer that is supposed to be leaving for a while. In all likelihood she’ll drop the title and leave the Divas division in even worse shape than it already is.
On to the anger management reevaluation with Kane, Bryan and Dr. Shelby! Kane and Bryan agree to lie in order to get it over with. When asked what they like about each other, Bryan says he likes that Kane is tall, can set things on fire somehow, and is a good dancer. Kane says Bryan is agile, has a great beard and is not afraid to admit that he wears women’s clothing (Bryan almost lost it but kept composure). Shelby then brings in the Rhodes Scholars to try to trigger their anger. The idea is to have Kane and Bryan not attack when they are provoked. Sandow and Rhodes keep critiquing Shelby’s methods, finally saying they would be better off with Dr. Phil. Shelby then loses it, telling Kane and Bryan to attack them. The three of them start screaming YES and we have a very fitting (albeit not nearly as funny) conclusion to the anger management sessions.
Back in the ring Kane and Sandow square off in one on one action. Kane rolls early, hitting the sidewalk slam and going to the top rope before Sandow leaves the ring to avoid it. Damien then takes over with his typical rapid offense. I love Sandow’s offense. He isn’t fast but he strikes hard and fast. He fights how a regular person would fight. Just keeps coming at you. Anyway Kane catches him jumping off the top rope and gets chokeslams Sandow for the win. The two teams will meet for the Tag Team Championships at the Royal Rumble and I have to think Team Rhodes Scholars will walk away with the hardware. I’m a little surprised they aren’t saving that match for another time, putting them all in the rumble instead.
After the match some news we already knew was going to happen was publicly announced. Mick Foley will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Foley is in the house to address the crowd but is quickly cut off by the Shield. Before they can attack Ryback comes down the ramp and attacks them. He throws out Ambrose and Rollins and meat hook clotheslines Reigns but the numbers are too great. Orton comes out to help and is shortly followed by Sheamus to even the odds. Ryback hits Abrose with Shell Shocked and the Shield retreats. I know it’s not going to happen, but having one of them win the rumble would be a big deal. Josh Matthews interviews Ryback in the ring. HOT DAMN DID HIS EYE GET BAD AGAIN. What does Ryback do to his face? He’s disgusting. Anyway he is sick of the Shield interfering in his matches so now he wants payback. This should have happened after the first two times Ryback was robbed. He gets a “Feed Me Shield” chant going and we can expect Ryback to team with Orton and Sheamus against the Shield in the near future. Hopefully when his eye is healed.
Time for Eve and Kaitlyn for the Divas Championship. Is it me or does Kaitlyn kind of look like Seth Rollins? After going back and forth for a bit, Kaitlyn goes into beast mode and starts shoulder blocking her into oblivion. She can’t get a three count however and Eve hits her finisher (Cross Rhodes?) but Kaitlyn kicks out on two and a half. Kaitlyn then hits her finisher but Eve rolls out of the ring. Kaitlyn goes out to get her but gets thrown over the barrier. Eve goes back into the ring so the ref can start the 10 count, but Kaitlyn runs back in while Eve isn’t looking. Eve looks toward the barrier waiting for the ref to count, giving Kaitlyn the opening to spear her and win the Divas Championship. Pretty good match. If I had to guess I’d say Kaitlyn and Tamina start a program next. They are the most physically gifted women on the roster and could have some good matches. They aren’t that hot though so we’ll probably see Layla and AJ instead.
Backstage, Brodus Clay is pissed that CM Punk called him out last week for being forced to shuck and jive for the fans. Clay said he does it because he wants to and that the pipe bomb is going to blow up in Punk’s face or something. Whatever he said, he was all business and it was a nice change. He’s too much of a beast to be smiling all the time. Anyway he’s in the ring to face Punk and is all smiles again. Not expecting a long match. Clay goes on the attack early with big blows, forcing Punk to exit and regroup. Clay manhandles Punk until CM gets a boot up on Clay running into the corner. A springboard clothesline gets Clay down and Punk is in control. He even does the Junkyard Dog dance in the ring to taunt him. Brodus catches Punk with a headbutt but misses again on the splash in corner. Punk then connects on the elbow from the top rope and applies the Anaconda Vice for the submission win. Better and more competitive match than I expected. After some more mock dancing, Punk says he came out to do what he does, and later the Rock will do whatever it is that he does. He says all the fans are all entitled to their opinions, but they can’t deny the fact that he has been the champion for 421 days, and that it is a fact that Rock will not leave the Royal Rumble as WWE Champion and that he is the best in the world. Much shorter than last week but still a very effective promo. There were no “Cookie Puss” chants, incase you were wondering.
Backstage the Rock is talking to Mick Foley, doing some shtick congratulating Foley into the Hall of Fame. Vickie Guerrero butts in to tell them to quiet down during her show, and adds that Foley doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Rock decides not to say anything now, and tells Foley to wait for his concert.
Up next, Sheamus is in some over the top rope challenge thing against 3MB. The object is just to throw the opponent over the top rope, which Sheamus did already last week. The crowd is pretty dead as 3MB teams up on Sheamus. Sheamus can only get momentum for so long before getting beaten down again. It’s like a poor man’s version of Shield against Ryback. Slater and McIntyre hold Sheamus up as Mahal gets on the top rope, but Sheamus pushes them into Jinder and he falls out. Drew then gets thrown out as well and it’s down to Sheamus and Heath Slater. Sheamus goes over the top rope but stays on the edge of the ring. He tries to fight his way back in but McIntyre and Mahal pull him down to eliminate Sheamus and give 3MB the win. McIntyre puts Slater on his shoulders to celebrate, but then Sheamus comes in. He kicks Drew’s leg to bring him to his knees, and then Brogue Kick’s Slater off McIntyre’s shoulders (roughly the same height as Big Show). Drew gets a Brogue Kick as well.
John Cena said some random crap about past Raws, his losing, and Threes Company before saying he’s going to win his match. That wasted roughly 60 seconds of my life.
Speaking of wasting time, here comes a Miz TV segment. His guest is Ric Flair so there is some hope here. Flair talks a little about his retirement celebration on Raw after his retirement match during WrestleMania and how he’s looking forward to Ryback beating Shield. Miz and Flair then get into a WOO off before Miz cues a montage of popular catch phrases from Raw’s history. They have been going through different montages throughout the show, showing all the moments you would normally think of along with some others you haven’t. Miz then gets Flair to go into his full “jet flying, kiss stealing” routine but gets cut off by Cesaro, who says Flair and Miz embody America as a failed reality star and a legend who blew all the money he made trying to maintain the illusion of past greatness. Cesaro has the American flag as tights which is fantastic. He says Flair is worth nothing now and says the Four Horsemen sign is only good for referring to his four ex-wives now. Miz challenges Cesaro to a fight in Flair’s defense, but Cesaro declines and starts to leave. Flair then pulls him back and delivers some chops before Miz hits the skill crushing finale. Flair then has Miz apply the figure four as Flair starts elbow dropping the suit jackets that ended up on the mat. Very strange but also pretty entertaining. Especially for Miz TV.
Daniel Bryan now out to most likely lose to Cody Rhodes since Kane beat Sandow earlier. Before the match starts, Cody looks in a mirror and brushes his mustache. Can we consider that jumping the shark? Rhodes immediately attacks Daniel’s knee that he “hurt” last week, and Bryan sells it like he is being amputated. Cody stands over Bryan to taunt to crowd but Bryan pulls him down by the arm and applies the NO Lock in the middle of the ring, getting Rhodes to submit. Once again, I’m wrong. Don’t be surprised if that knee costs Team Hell No at the Royal Rumble though.
Meanwhile Eve made her departure official, telling Matt Striker that the WWE is against her. From Zack Ryder stalking her, John Cena humiliating her and Kaitlyn accusing her of sabotaging her title shot, she doesn’t need this anymore. She says she wants her own reality show and quits the WWE. So long Eve. I don’t know how long she’ll be gone for, but she’ll be missed.
AJ hosted a segment backstage going through famous weddings in Raw history while Big E looked like he wanted to blow his brains out. The last clip was of AJ’s wedding with Daniel Bryan where she was named Raw GM. This sent her into a fit of rage toward John Cena, who she blames for ruining her career. Dolph Ziggler stepped in the console her and talk about how he is going to prove to the world and specifically Cena how good he really is.
Jim Ross takes Michael Cole’s place to call the main event steel cage match between John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler tries to run out of the cage door almost immediately after the bell rings, then tries climbing out on the other side only to be pulled back by Cena both times. Following an initial charge by Cena, Ziggler hits a dropkick and takes control, throwing John into the cage, hitting a couple of neck breakers and escaping an Attitude Adjustment to hit another one. Cena then sling shots Dolph into the cage, but Ziggler catches himself on the cage and starts climbing up. John pulls him down and tries climbing up himself, leading to both men being taken down. During the break, Cena was about to escape the cage but Langston was outside the ring pushing Cena back up so that Ziggler can pull him back in (kind of ridiculous when Cena could just let go and drop onto him but whatever). With both Cena and Ziggler standing on the top rope, Dolph hits a standing dropkick sending them both back to the mat. Dolph takes his time delivering punches and Cena takes advantage with the five moves of doom. Ziggler escapes the AA to try climbing up the cage, gets pulled down by his tights revealing his bare butt (to the audible joy of the women in attendance), only to escape the move again and hit a superkick for a two count. Ziggler crawls toward the door and gets a hand on the floor but Cena gets over the pull him back in. Langston grabs Ziggler’s arm however to try to pull Ziggler out and we have a human game of tug of war. Cena wins and applies the STF, but Ziggler quickly rolls over and locks a sleeper hold in the middle of the ring. Cena powers his way up and starts climbing up the cage with Dolph on his back. John finally falls off the top rope, taking them both down. Cena then looks like he’s going to escape through the door but Big E slams it in his face. Ziggler then goes for the door (after blatantly hearing Cena tell him to) and Cena tries climbing over the cage right near the door. Cena gets over first and kicks the door in Dolph’s face, but Langston is there again forcing Cena back up with a steel chair. When Cena gets back to the mat Dolph hits him with a Zig Zag but only gets a two count (because it takes 8 finishers to beat Cena apparently). Cena pulls Dolph down from the top of the cage again but with Cena on the top turnbuckle, Ziggler hits a jumping DDT (big pop) but again only gets a 2 count. This sends AJ off the deep end (can you blame her?) and she climbs to the top of the cage. This distracts the ref so that Big E can come in with the MITB briefcase. Cena attacks Langston and the case goes to Ziggler, who tries to hit John with it but Cena ducks under and Big E gets hit instead. Cena hits Ziggler with the AA and wins via pinfall (apparently 1 Attitude Adjustment is better than 10 finishers from anyone else). Both men deliver again in a fantastic match but this SuperCena stuff is just ridiculous. PPVs are one thing but can he at least be human on basic cable?
The big finish for the night is of course the Rock concert. It’s exactly what you think it would be like. A heartbreak hotel parody where he calls Paul Heyman a fat woman. He then called out Vickie Guerrero to sing a parody of “Wonderful Tonight” where is says “No biotch, you look horrible tonight” and dresses like a cheap hooker. Rock then calls out CM Punk, who shows up with Paul Heyman. Rocks says Heyman has “twinkie tits” (that might actually catch on for a minute), that Punk is not “god” as Punk referred to himself last week, and that Punk will lose at the Royal Rumble. This pushes Punk to run down the ramp and get into a brawl with Rock. A bunch of officials have to come out to separate them and that’s how the show ends. I was worried the concert part would be a lot longer but thankfully it was relatively brief.
The main question I have is what happened to all the surprise guests? No Michaels, no Undertaker, no Austin, no Triple H. Medusa wasn’t even there. It’s not that it was a bad show. It just didn’t have that big event feel aside from the main event. It was a quality episode of Raw. I just expected a little more than that.