WWE Raw Flashback: Who did Miz defend the WWE Championship against on the first Raw of 2011?
The following is a flashback to Jason Powell's live coverage of the January 3, 2011 edition of WWE Raw. Join him tonight for live coverage of the first WWE Raw of 2013. He will also be recording a audio review exclusively for the Prowrestling.net Members. Join us on the ad-free version of the website and listen to several hours of new audio content each week by signing up via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Phoenix, Az.
[Q1] The show opened with a recap video... Michael Cole was seated at the announcers' table. He said John Cena "in all likelihood will not be part of our broadcast this evening." He said Cena was injured during a match against Wade Barrett in Pennsylvania.
Cole also noted that C.M. Punk is in Nexus. He questioned who was in charge of the group. Finally, Cole said it is extremely rare for the WWE Championship to be defended on Raw. Um, okay. He said 2011 will kick off with a WWE Championship match featuring The Miz vs. John Morrison...
The Miz made his entrance, and Cole stated that Jerry Lawler was not at ringside with him tonight due to Miz's attack last week. Cole narrated footage of Miz attacking Lawler from last week. Back live, Cole introduced Josh Mathews as his broadcast partner...
Powell's POV: Man, that's a lot of Cole to start a show, but it was logical since there was a lot to address. I like they way they hyped the WWE Championship match being special. Unfortunately, they cut off the champion's entrance to show a video package moments later. By the way, there is a cage hanging above the ring in the building, according to our WWE Superstars correspondent. The results of Thursday's show are available right now on the main page.
1. The Miz (w/Alex Riley) pinned John Morrison in a Falls Count Anywhere match to retain the WWE Championship in 17:25. They fought onto the stage early on. Morrison climbed onto the WWE logo that sits on the stage, and then dove onto Miz and Riley (Alex took the bulk of Morrison's weight).
Once inside the ring, Morrison remained in control and got a near fall. Riley got involved in the match and Morrison attacked him. Morrison took out Riley with a running knee that knocked Riley off the guardrail. The referee called for medical attention for Riley as the announcers explained Morrison's goal of taking out Riley to make it a one-on-one situation. [C]
[Q2] After the break, Miz was in control of the match. Clips were shown of Miz taking control and getting a near fall. Miz fought Morrison on the stage and went for another cover, but Morrison kicked out. Miz showed frustration with his inability to put Morrison away. Rinse and repeat with another near fall on the entrance ramp.
Morrison went for Starship pain at 13:30, but Miz moved out of the way, so Morrison landed on his feet. Miz hit a big move. Cole told the world the match was over, which telegraphed that it wasn't really over. Sure enough, Morrison kicked out. Miz went for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Morrison elbowed out of it.
Morrison came back and hit Starship Pain, but Miz kicked out. At 15:35, Morrison tried to hit a kick out of nowhere. Morrison kicked air, but Miz sold it like he was shot and tumbled out of the ring.
Morrison put Miz on a table on the floor. He went to the ropes and went for a springboard Starship Pain, but Miz moved and Morrison went crashing through the table on the floor. Miz covered, but Morrison kicked out. Cool spot even though Miz ducked out really early. A short time later, Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale and got the clean pin.
Powell's POV: There were some missed spots, but excellent effort from both men and some really innovative moves. I loved the running knee to Riley's head while he was seated on the guardrail, and the dive off the WWE logo on the stage just to name a couple. Morrison has really picked up the intensity in the ring. He looks like he's fighting, not just performing spots. Here's hoping we haven't seen the last of this feud.
Cole hyped that there will be a No. 1 contenders steel cage match that will determine The Miz's challenger at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view... Mathews hyped that we'll get an update on John Cena's condition later in the show...
Powell's POV: Morrison is out of the Rumble title match, as the announcers said he would not be involved in the No. 1 contenders match. I really hope they go with something fresh since there's just no reason to have a loaded title match at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view when the vast majority of people who buy the show are doing so to see the Rumble match.
[Q3] [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped Edge vs. Kane in a Last Man Standing match for the World Hvt. Championship, and Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio in a best of three falls match that is billed as their final battle... The announcers spoke at ringside briefly...
Backstage, Scott Stanford interviewed The Miz while Alex Riley sold his injuries from John Morrison's attack. The Miz boasted about still being the WWE Champion. He delivered his catchphrase and gave Riley the nod to deliver the "awesome" part of the line...
At ringside, Cole and Mathews bickered about The Miz briefly, and then recapped the Natalya and Melina feud... Melina, Maryse, and Alicia Fox made their entrance for a six-Diva tag match... [C]
Powell's POV: Dot Net correspondent Tyler Vasquez reports that it looks like they hid a woman underneath the ring before the heels came to the ring. If that's the case, look for some type of interference or perhaps a post-match attack. I'd love to see Awesome Kong lay out six women, but I have no idea if she's even in the building tonight.
2. Natalya, Eve, and Brie Bella defeated Melina, Alicia Fox, and Maryse in a six-Diva tag match in 2:55. The show returned from the break with the babyfaces in the ring. Natalya got the better of Melina briefly, but Melina returned the favor by clotheslining her over the top rope. In the end, Eve pinned Melina... [C]
Powell's POV:. Okay, that didn't make any sense. Our correspondent said Nikki Bella was hiding underneath the ring, and the mother of the Bella Twins is in the building. Nothing happened, though, so perhaps our correspondent was mistaken. The part that didn't make any sense was having Melina lose when she's the No. 1 contender. Maybe they'll give her title match away on Raw next week like they did with John Morrison.
UPDATE: I missed the Bella switch during the match. It actually did take place. Thanks to all the readers who took the time to point it out.
A WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view commercial was shown...
[Q4] 3. The Uso Brothers defeated Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov (w/Tamina) in a non-title match in 3:50. Yes, Tamina was in the corner of Santino and Kozlov. The crowd was into Santino's offense when he checked into the match. There was an awkward spot where Kozlov was supposed to fall over the top rope, but he needed an extra push.
In the end, Santino was setting up for The Cobra when one of the Usos caught him from behind, hit a Samoan Drop, and scored the pin. Afterward, one of the Uso brothers was giving Tamina a hard time about being with Santino, who recovered and joined Tamina in performing a Double Cobra on the Uso brother...
Cole hyped the return of Tough Enough as a shot aired of a New York Times article that was written regarding the show. At ringside, Mathews said being part of the first season of Tough Enough was one of the greatest experiences of his life. He also said it was a very influential reality television show... [C]
An ad aired for Tuesday's NXT. The hype is all about the first elimination taking place tomorrow night...
Powell's POV: Our correspondent checked in to say the hidden Bella emerged from underneath the ring after the match. Maybe she was looking for Hornswoggle.
C.M. Punk headed to the ring with a Nexus armband on his right arm. He was wearing one of his own t-shirts. The announcers questioned who is in charge of Nexus. Punk said he loves being in Phoenix. Punk said he spent the entire day looking for John Cena.
"The funny thing is I can't see John Cena," Punk said while doing Cena's hand gesture. Funny. Punk said Cena isn't in the building. He claimed Cena wasn't there because of him. The fans booed.
[Q5] Punk boasted about his World Title wins and said he's a leader of men. Video footage aired from last week of Punk putting on The Nexus armband at the end of Raw. "Hustle, loyalty, and respect," Punk said. "Three words that I live my life by." The crowd chanted for Cena. Punk joined the chant briefly.
Punk said "hustle, loyalty, and respect" is just a catchphrase to Cena, whereas Punk expects that of himself and the members of Nexus. He said Cena should just stay home. "This is a fight that John Cena cannot win," Punk said. "I'm taking over Nexus and I'm taking over Monday Night Raw."
The Nexus music played and Wade Barrett walked out with a mic in hand. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be interesting," Cole said on commentary. Barrett said the reason Cena isn't on the show has nothing to do with Punk. Rather, Barrett said it's because he destroyed Cena in their match in Pennsylvania. "And number two, you're not the leader of Nexus, I am," Barrett said.
Punk said Barrett is confused after Cena dropped the chairs on his head at TLC. He said Nexus needs new management. Barrett said Punk isn't a leader, he's a liar. Barrett accused him of lying about being Straight Edge. Punk said he would prove who the liar is by leaving up to the rest of Nexus. Barrett agreed.
David Otunga, Michael McGillicutty, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, and Husky Harris walked onto the stage and headed to the ring. Once in the ring, Otunga took the mic. "Punk, Barrett, you both make good points," Otunga said before he was interrupted by the anonymous general manager's chime.
Cole stood up and did his usual schtick. On behalf of the general manager, Cole said there would be three participants in the cage match to determine who will challenge The Miz at the Royal Rumble. Cole said it would be Barrett or Punk vs. King Sheamus vs. Randy Orton.
Barrett, who had yellow bruises above his right eye, said that as leader of Nexus, he would be taking the final spot in the cage match. Punk told him to go ahead. He said he could take the match. "I'm a talker, I want to talk things out," Punk said. He said that if Barrett wins the cage match, he will be the No. 1 contender and prove that he's the rightful leader of Nexus. "I'll work for you, Wade."
Punk said that if Barrett loses, he's out of Nexus, and Punk gets to lead the group. Punk asked if they had a gentlemen's agreement and then offered his hand. Barrett shook Punk's hand and said, "It's a deal"... [C]
Powell's POV: A good segment. Punk looks like the brighter of the two so far. It looks like he's pulling the strings and Barrett is going along for the ride, which is an odd to see if only because Barrett has been portrayed as the puppet master on Raw. I still wonder if the plan is for Barrett to head to Smackdown as a singles wrestler. I just don't want to see him launch another Nexus group on the Friday night brand.
Ricardo Rodriguez introduced Alberto Del Rio, who drove his sweetest car yet to ringside. Cole put Del Rio over huge on commentary. Del Rio boasted that with his rich, Mexican heritage, his destiny is to become the World Hvt. Champion. He said his destiny is to destroy every single person on Smackdown.
[Q6] Del Rio said his name will be emblazoned in the hearts and minds of the WWE Universe. He said his destiny is to win the Royal Rumble and main event WrestleMania. He said the fans in the building have no destiny. He was interrupted by R-Truth's entrance music.
Truth said Del Rio's only destiny is to go back where he came from. "The truth is I'm just the man to send you there," Truth said. Del Rio smiled. Truth slapped him across the face...
4. Alberto Del Rio defeated R-Truth in 9:55. Truth jumped out to the early advantage. Ricardo was tending to Del Rio on the floor when they went to break. [C] Del Rio took control of the match, but he missed a move and tumbled to ringside at 8:00. Del Rio regained control when he pulled Truth's arm through the ropes and into the ring post. He headed back inside the ring and applied his armbar submission hold for the win...
Powell's POV: It's nice to see Del Rio get some face time on Raw. I wish they would do a better job of explaining why wrestlers are allowed to jump brands freely as WrestleMania approaches, but they need to provide more hype for Smackdown on Monday nights. There's no reason not to give the Friday night show more attention now that both shows air on Universal owned networks.
[Q7] The announcers hyped Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett in a cage match to earn a shot at The Miz at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view...
Powell's POV: I hate the idea of Orton winning the three-way match just because I'd rather see WWE creative go with someone they normally wouldn't feel comfortable giving a pay-per-view title match to. As I keep saying, the Rumble match sells the Rumble pay-per-view, so it's not like they need the WWE Championship to sell the show. Furthermore, I'd rather see Orton in the Rumble match. Maybe they will surprise me, but the Rumble would have been the perfect place for Morrison or even Jerry Lawler to get a title match.
Backstage, Barrett told the rest of Nexus that C.M. Punk is selfish and will use them all for his own political gains. Punk entered the room and asked Barrett if he was describing himself. Punk said he and the rest of Nexus are pulling for him and wish him the best of luck in his match. After Barrett left the room, Punk shook hands with each member of Nexus...
In another part of the backstage area, Scott Stanford interviewed Randy Orton, who said 2010 meant nothing to him. Orton said his problem in 2010 was that he was too nice. He said he actually hesitated before he kicked Chris Jericho in the skull. Orton said it's a new year and nice guys finish last...
The cage music played while the cage lowered around the ring. Cole said the first man to escape the cage would challenge The Miz at the Royal Rumble... [C]
Powell's POV: By the way, Stanford does play-by-play work on WWE Superstars. Yes, that show is still on the air.
A shot aired of the University of Phoenix Stadium, which Cole put over as the site of WrestleMania 26... Cole and Mathews recapped the show...
[Q8] During the ring entrances, a graphic of John Cena was shown. Cole said he had breaking news that John Cena could possibly return next week on Raw...
Powell's POV: Breaking News: I may possibly win an Olympic gold medal in track and field. Possibly? Are they looking to ESPN's coverage of Brett Favre's offseason drama for their "breaking news" inspiration?
5. Randy Orton defeated Wade Barrett and King Sheamus in a Triple Threat cage match in 20:00 to earn a WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Orton tried to escape the cage roughly 90 seconds into the match, but Sheamus and Barrett both pulled him down and double teamed him in a corner of the ring.
Orton made a comeback and told the referee to open the door. He struck the Viper's Pose when the heels recovered and he realized he couldn't have escaped the cage (without simply backing up and sliding out the door on his stomach, but the announcers wisely ignored that part). [C]
[Overrun] Cole did the reset about a minute after the top of the hour to give viewers who were late to the party the heads up regarding what the match was all about. Shemaus rammed Barrett into the cage a few times and then bodyslammed him while Orton sold in a corner of the ring. Sheamus made a play for the cage door, but Orton stopped him at 13:40.
Barrett recovered and returned the favor to Sheamus by running his head into the cage three times. Barrett performed a clumsy looking belly-to-belly suplex on Orton. A short time later, Barrett knocked Sheamus off the ropes. Rather than attempt to climb over the cage, he tried to drop an elbow off the ropes, but Sheamus got his knees up.
The crowd was really flat at this point, but they came back to life moments later when Orton went on the offensive. Orton smiled as he DDT'd Barrett off the second rope. Sheamus caught Orton with a kick, but Orton stopped Sheamus from leaving the cage.
At 18:20, Barrett had a chance to leave the cage. C.M. Punk ran out and offered Barrett his hand while sitting on top of the cage. Barrett took Punk's hand, but Punk reached down and tore the Nexus armband off his arm. Punk kicked Barrett off the cage. Sheamus nailed Barrett with the Brough Kick and smiled, only to eat an RKO from Orton.
Orton looked at the cage door and the crowd popped big as Orton slowly exited the cage door to win the match. Cole closed out the show while Orton was celebrating his win...
Powell's POV: I'm still not a fan of Orton challenging The Miz at the Rumble because it seems unnecessary due to the Rumble match selling the pay-per-view. That said, it could be necessary from a booking standpoint if WWE wants to put the belt on Orton heading into WrestleMania, or if they want to give Miz a credibility boost by having him leave the Rumble with the WWE Championship.
Overall, a good show with two strong and long matches. There seems to be a renewed emphasis when it comes to stressing the value of the WWE Championship. The announcers hyped the hell out of the belt throughout the show, and that comment about how rare it is to see the belt defended on Raw didn't ring true, yet still made it seem more prestigious.
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