11/18 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Raw Country theme, final hype for the Survivor Series pay-per-view
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Nashville, Tennessee at Bridgestone Arena
[Q1] Raw opened with a recap video that immediately noted that The Authority were on vacation... Michael Cole (joined by JBL and Jerry Lawler) introduced the show and said there was no question as to who was in charge because Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were back from vacation. He hyped a live performance from Florida Georgia Line.
The announcers also hyped Curtis Axel vs. Big E Langston, C.M. Punk, Daniel Bryan, Goldust, Cody Rhodes, The Uso Brothers vs. The Wyatt Family and The Shield in a six-man tag match...
Powell's POV: I don't know if you guys know this, but Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are back from vacation.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon made their entrance as footage was shown of Big Show putting Randy Orton through a table. Triple H said it was good to be back. He said last week showed just how vital he and Stephanie are because last week was chaos without them. He said they could not have been more disappointed with how Raw turned out last week. Hunter said Brad Maddox and Vickie Guerrero were avoiding them all day and they will be addressed. Stephanie said they are back and rested.
Randy Orton's music played and he headed to the ring. Orton said Hunter and Steph were trying to blame everyone else, but they were actually to blame because they didn't put anyone else in charge. He said he held them directly responsible for being put through the table. He said he is their most valuable asset and they should do a better job of protecting him.
Stephanie started to talk, but Orton continued to vent. Hunter got in his face and asked who he thought he was. Orton said he's the face of the company. Triple H said Orton is the face of "our company." Steph said there was some confusion last week. Vickie Guerrero's meek "excuse me" could be heard. Vickie and Brad Maddox walked onto the stage. Maddox blamed Vickie for last week and the crowd laughed.
Triple H said it doesn't matter whose fault it was, they all had to pay tonight. Steph said Vickie and Maddox would be competing. Triple H and Stephanie announced Vickie vs. A.J. Lee, and Maddox vs. Orton. Hunter said Maddox vs. Orton would be a No DQ match and would begin immediately. "The Authority is back," Cole said. JBL said he loves it. Kane joined Maddox and Vickie onstage. Triple H and Stephanie walked to the stage and stood behind them momentarily before heading backstage... [C]
Powell's POV: It makes sense for JBL's character to be happy about Triple H and Stephanie returning, but Cole seems way to pleased to see them considering they are heels. Meanwhile, Vince McMahon and creative continue to think viewers care way more than they do about who has the authority figure power in WWE.
[Q2] 1. WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. Brad Maddox in a non-title, No DQ match. Orton went after Maddox at ringside only to have Maddox slam a microphone over his head. Orton sold the shot and Maddox, who was working in his dress shirt and pants, got a two count on the WWE Champion. Once Orton recovered, he worked over Maddox with ease.
Orton rammed Maddox into the ring post and then performed a hanging DDT off the guardrail. Back inside the ring, Orton returned the favor with repeated microphone shots to Maddox's head. The referee called for the bell because Maddox sold it as if he was knocked out...
Randy Orton defeated Brad Maddox via ref stoppage in 4:00.
Big E Langston was shown walking backstage and Cole said he would challenge Axel for the Intercontinental Title after the break. A portion of a Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert video was shown... [C]
Bret Hart, Mick Foley, and Booker T will serve as the panel for the WWE Survivor Series Kickoff show on Sunday... Ring introductions for the Intercontinental Title match took place...
2. Curtis Axel vs. Big E Langston for the Intercontinental Title. Paul Heyman did not accompany Axel to ringside. Langston got the better of Axel early. Axel went to ringside, then returned to the ring and begged off in the corner.
[Q3] Langston continued to use power moves to get the better of Axel, who came back by clotheslining Langston over the top rope. [C] Langston came back with more power moves after the break. Langston took the straps on his gear down and hit The Big Ending finisher and got the win...
Big E Langston defeated Curtis Axel to win the Intercontinental Title in 8:50.
Powell's POV: An entertaining match, particularly when Langston was on the offensive. There is something wrong about the son of the West Texas Rednecks losing the Intercontinental Title during Raw Country, but it was a good moment for Langston.
Backstage, Randy Orton and The Shield were shown watching the finish of the match. Orton said he hopes there's not a new WWE Champion at Survivor Series. He said The Shield will have his back. Roman Reigns said that they will have his back if that's what The Authority want. He said that if they have his back, Orton will have their backs... A video clip played from Florida Georgia Line...
Powell's POV: Great, they're teasing us with a cheap pay-per-view main event finish possibility again. Thus far, Raw Country has been nothing more by teasers for country bands whose material is available on iTunes. What, no Toby Keith?
Jerry Lawler stood in the ring and hosted Divas musical chairs. No shit. The Divas were dressed in country attire. The song "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line played. When it stopped, Natalya was the odd Diva out. Next time, Alicia Fox was the odd Diva out. JBL said it was the dumbest thing he's ever seen.
Fortunately, all hell broke loose the next time the music stopped. The Divas brawled while the fans chanted "Jerry" for Lawler as he simply stood in the corner. The women who appear on Total Divas stood tall in the ring after tossing the others to the floor...
Powell's POV: Good lord, the Divas can't even have a good musical chairs game. Okay, so there probably is no such thing. That was pointless. I guess you can afford to have that type of silliness when you still have weeks to go before the next pay-per-view. Wait, what? Survivor Series is on Sunday?!?
[Q4] [C] A portion of Hootie minus the Blowfish's music video was shown...
3. Big Show vs. Ryback. Ryback shoved Show out of the lockup and then Show dominated. Ryback came back by clipping Show's knee out from under him. Ryback threw a series of punches at Show and splashed him for a two count. Show made his comeback, but Ryback caught him with a spinebuster for another two count.
[Q5] Ryback called for his Meathook clothesline, but he ran into Show's hand. Ryback broke up the chokeslam attempt and knocked Show down. Ryback signaled for his finisher and hit Shellshocked, but Show kicked out. Ryback took his straps down and got Show to his feet, only to have Show drill him with a knockout punch for the win. After the match, Orton entered the ring to go after Show, who saw him coming and speared him...
Big Show defeated Ryback in 8:00.
Powell's POV: Make no mistake about it, they are not killing off Ryback regardless of what it may have looked like last week on Raw. He got way more offense than I expected and maybe even more than he should have considering Show is challenging for the WWE Championship on Sunday. Ryback picking up Show for his finisher was really impressive. I'm surprised they didn't save that for a more impactful moment.
Backstage, Zack Ryder was talking with the members of Florida Georgia Line when 3MB entered the picture dressed in country gear. 3MB sang "We're the rhinestone cowboys." FGL wished them luck and said they would show them how they do it... Cole hyped a John Cena appearance for later in the show... [C]
Powell's POV: One hour in the books and they have yet to do anything to raise my level of enthusiasm for Survivor Series. It wouldn't take much since it's currently at a WWE Battleground-like low.
Backstage, a trainer tended to Randy Orton, who iced his ribs and complained about The Shield not saving him... Cole announced Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Real Americans for the WWE Tag Team Championship for Friday's Smackdown television show...
Powell's POV: We are still looking for correspondents for the Smackdown taping in Atlanta. If you are going to the show and want to help us out, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get back to you after Raw.
4. The Real Americans (w/Zeb Colter) vs. Kofi Kingston and The Miz. Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro got the better of Miz early. At 3:40, Kingston got on a roll and went up top, but Swagger caught him on the way down. Kingston came back with a cool flip over Swagger into a DDT for a two count.
[Q6] Kingston made it to his corner and went for the tag, but Miz smiled and pulled his hand away and then dropped off the apron. Swagger put Kingston in the Patriot Lock for the win...
Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro defeated The Miz and Kofi Kingston in 4:40.
Powell's POV: Miz was an awful babyface so the turn is welcome. However, his act will be just as flat if he goes right back to being the same old heel Miz character (which he essentially played while supposedly a babyface), so hopefully he has something in mind to freshen up his act. He has shown more of an angry edge on promos lately, but the insincere smile he flashed while alligator arming Kingston's tag attempt was an example of the cocky Miz character that ran its course.
Backstage, Vickie Guerrero yelled "Help Me" and then acted like she was knocked out. A trainer came out to check on her... [C]
Medical staff put Vickie on a stretcher. Stephanie showed up. The trainer said all of Vickie's vital signs were normal. Stephanie said that Vickie looks dehydrated and said they need to take her right to the hospital...right after they wheel her to the ring. Vickie screamed as the medical staff complied...
5. Divas Champion A.J. Lee (w/Tamina) vs. Vickie Guerrero in a non-title match. A small A.J. chant broke out. The referee called for water for Vickie as the announcers giggled over Vickie being dehydrated. At ringside, Tamina fanned off Vickie, who started to leave. A.J. caught up to her and rolled her back inside the ring. A.J. applied the Black Widow and Vickie tapped out immediately...
A.J. Lee defeated Vickie Guerrero in 1:30.
Powell's POV: You see, it's funny because A.J. Lee passed out because she was suffering from dehydration at a live event on Friday. Nothing is funnier than real life medical issues. Well, at least to people backstage. No one in the crowd thought this was nearly as funny as Vince McMahon and company must have backstage.
Backstage, Triple H told Dolph Ziggler and Damien Sandow that he knows they've had issues in the past, but he's going to help solve them. He said they were going to have a Broadway Brawl. He said he doesn't know what that meant, but he said they would make it entertaining. He told them to look at it as an opportunity for the two of them to go out there and make some music together...
Powell's POV: Well, that was the worst match hype ever. I'm so happy The Authority have returned from vacation to grace us with that awful explanation. There was a brief technical snafu afterward, as it appeared someone in the production truck didn't play the Survivor Series commercial quickly enough and then forgot to turn up the volume. We are halfway through the show and my level of enthusiasm for Survivor Series is still at rock bottom.
[Q7] [C] David Otunga is on the cover of the new Muscle & Fitness. Lawler raved over how big Otunga is and said he has muscles in places that Lawler doesn't even have places...
6. Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow in a Broadway Brawl. The ring was filled with musical instruments that the wrestlers could use as weapons. The announcers put over the hardcore aspect of the match by joking about how Lawler got a message from "Conway Tweety" on Twitter. Sandow swung and missed with an electric guitar at ringside early in the match. Later, Sandow threw Ziggler off the ropes and onto an electric keyboard that was set up in the ring. [C]
The announcers told a joke about how Ronnie Milsap would love the match (because he's blind). Meanwhile, Sandow rammed another instrument into Sandow's head. Ziggler picked up a fiddle and slammed it over Sandow's back, then hit the Fameasser for a two count. JBL sang the Beverly Hillbillies theme. Sandow ran Ziggler head first into a chair that was propped between the ropes.
[Q8] Sandow ran Ziggler into a cello that was set up in the corner of the ring. Sandow tried to ram a guitar into Ziggler, who moved. Dolph picked up a snare drum and slammed it over Sandow's head. He picked up another drum and slammed that over Sandow's head so it wrapped around his body. Ziggler pulled out a guitar, did the strut, and slammed it over Sandow's head and got the pin...
Dolph Ziggler defeated Damien Sandow in a Broadway Brawl in 11:10.
Powell's POV: Two underutilized talents beat each other with musical instruments while the broadcast team tells dated country music jokes. The biggest pop of the match came when Ziggler did his Jeff Jarrett impersonation. I am embarrassed for WWE on so many levels right now.
Highlights aired of Randy Orton bickering with Triple H earlier in the show... Backstage, Orton entered Hunter and Steph's office and asked where The Shield were. He said he deserves respect. He asked if he has their confidence as the face of WWE. They stone faced him and said they were just talking about that. "We need to think about it," Stephanie responded...
John Cena had his left arm in a sling as he welcomed Florida Georgia Line to Raw. Cena said the WWE Universe is excited for them to rock the house. Lawler said Cena would be out next... [C]
Powell's POV: I suppose I should be wondering whether Triple H and Steph are going to screw Orton or if there's going to be some sort of bizarre double turn at the pay-per-view. The truth of the matter is that I don't even care. The product is that bad right now. I assume it's just a swerve to make Orton look vulnerable heading into the pay-per-view.
An awkward commercial for KMart aired with Miz dressed in his tights busting out of a giant present box, then eating cake while a kid at a birthday party hung from his shoulders...
Powell's POV: WWE really needs to air a "Don't try this at home" warning along with that weird Miz commercial.
Another Florida Georgia Line video clip was shown...
John Cena made his entrance with his left arm in a sling. Cole said Cena's arm was in a sling due to the recent attacks by Alberto Del Rio. Cena received more boos than cheers when the music stopped playing. He thanked the crowd for the warm reception and said he definitely needed it.
Cena set up the highlights of Del Rio targeting his arm in recent attacks on Raw and Smackdown. Cena said he's had to watch that footage every day since and he hasn't been in a good mood. He said the energy he feels in front of the crowd made him want to come back from triceps surgery, but now he wonders whether he came back to soon and whether he should even be champion.
Cena said he looks around at the audience and the excitement and feels damn right he should be champion. Cena said he has the privilege of performing in front of his family on Sunday, and once it's over he will hold the championship and say loud and clear that the champ is here.
[Q9] Alberto Del Rio's music played and he clapped as he walked onto the stage. Del Rio told Cena it was an amazing speech and said there's a real super hero in the house. He said Cena is so good that it almost made him cry. "That's great, because Sunday I'm going to make you tap," Cena replied.
Del Rio walked to ringside and questioned Cena's line about holding up the championship on Sunday. He rambled and lost the crowd a bit. He said Cena will be humiliated and embarrassed in front of his family. "A real champion takes advantage of every opportunity," Del Rio said before entering the ring.
Del Rio said he sees a great opportunity in front of him. Cena said Del Rio is right. He ripped his arm from the sling and went after Del Rio. Cena hoisted up Del Rio, who managed to escape the Attitude Adjustment. Cena sold the arm a bit as Del Rio seethed at ringside...
A video announced that talk show host and former NFL star Michael Strahan will be the special guest host of next week's Raw...
Powell's POV: If you the Cena vs. Del Rio match at Hell in a Cell where Cena sold his surgically repaired arm the entire match, you can now order the replay at Survivor Series on Sunday. Meanwhile, it appears that WWE is bringing back the guest host concept. It remains to be seen whether it's going to be the norm or more of a sporadic thing.
7. Xavier Woods and R-Truth vs. Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal (w/Heath Slater). 3MB called themselves the Rhinestone Cowboys and dressed in country garb. Truth had a new version of his entrance theme that mentioned Woods. Xavier received polite applause more than anything. Cole acknowledged that he's from NXT and also referred to his finisher as the Honor Roll, which he used to get the win over McIntyre...
Xavier Woods and R-Truth defeated Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal in 3:05.
Powell's POV: Woods worked as Consequences Creed in TNA. He's only 27 years-old and has been in WWE developmental since July 2010.
[Q10] Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon told Randy Orton that they have confidence in him, so there will not be any interference by them or The Shield. Hunter said if Orton beats Show, then he will prove that he deserves to be the face of WWE. "I'll show you confidence," Orton replied...
Powell's POV: It didn't sell me on the match or the show, but at least they went out of their way to say that there won't be outside interference in the pay-per-view main event. That was very necessary considering the recent run of cheap finishes involving the WWE Championship on pay-per-view.
Cole and company hyped the tag title match for Smackdown... A WrestleMania ticket release party video aired...
Florida Georgia Line performed the Raw Country theme song on stage...
Powell's POV: I fed my fish and took a leak, but I did hear the song in the background. I still have no interest in Survivor Series, but I do have this strange desire to call one of my female cousins.
C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan made their entrances for the 12-man tag match...
[Q11] [C] Footage aired from the closing segment of Raw that set up the 12-man tag match... All of the other babyface wrestlers were in the ring after the break. The Shield made their entrance through the crowd, then The Wyatt Family made their entrance...
8. C.M. Punk, Daniel Bryan, Goldust, Cody Rhodes, and The Uso Brothers vs. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose in a 12-man tag match. The Shield and The Wyatt Family exchanged words at ringside before the match. They bickered again a few minutes into the match as the show went to break. [C]
[Q12] After the break, the babyface team was getting the better of Rollins, but he tagged in Ambrose and the heels worked over Cody. Eventually, Rhodes made the hot tag to Bryan and the live crowd popped big as he entered the ring and hit some of his signature offensive spots on Harper. Bryan fought off run-ins by Rollins and Reigns, but then ate a powerbomb from Harper.
The Wyatts then took turns working over Bryan. Wyatt was in the match briefly, then Rowan checked in. Rowan made a hard tag to Ambrose. Bryan inched toward his corner when the heels all ran across the ring and knocked the babyfaces off the ring apron heading into the commercial break. [C]
After the break, Bryan made the hot tag to Punk, who performed crowd pleasing offense on Ambrose and Rollins. Punk went to the top rope and dropped an elbow on Ambrose and then signaled for GTS. Punk hoisted up Ambrose, but he put him down when Bray Wyatt distracted him. Punk kicked Wyatt, then applied the Anaconda Vice on Ambrose, which Harper and Rowan broke up.
[Overrun] The Uso brothers cleared Harper and Rowan from the ring and dove onto the them. Ambrose got the better of Punk and went for a cover, but Goldust broke it up. Reigns spared Goldust, then Cody got rid of Reigns. Rollins went after Cody. Punk grabbed Rollins and Bryan performed the Hart Attack clothesline. Moments later, Punk hit GTS on Ambrose and pinned him...
C.M. Punk, Daniel Bryan, Goldust, Cody Rhodes, and The Uso Brothers defeated Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose in a 12-man tag match in 24:05.
After the match, The Real Americans came to the ring and attacked the babyfaces. Rey Mysterio's music played and he headed to the ring and performed his signature offense on several heels, including a 619. Punk hit GTS on Harper, then Bryan blasted Harper with a running knee. Bryan led the crowd in "Yes!" chants and the babyfaces celebrated to close the show...
Powell's POV: I assume this means Rey Mysterio is the mystery man of the babyface team at Survivor Series. Let's start with the good news. The 12-man tag match was entertaining, particularly down the stretch after the final commercial break. The Rey Mysterio return was a nice minor surprise. WWE didn't set out to mock country music fans. In fact, with the exception of the unnecessary musical performance, the country theme was pretty tame and probably didn't turn off too many non-country fans either.
The bad news of the show is that despite whatever good that occurred, this was not a good go-home edition. Survivor Series is one of WWE's Big Four pay-per-views and this year it doesn't feel any more special than WWE Battleground did. So regardless of what you thought of Raw as a three-hour program, it was a failure as a go-home show. Of course, it would have taken something truly exceptional to sell Survivor Series at this point because the build was so poor coming in. Still, I thought they might be able to generate a little bit of interest tonight and I really don't think they did. I will have more to say about the show in audio later tonight. Thanks for watching along with me, and join us on Sunday night for Survivor Series coverage.
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