11/25 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: John Cena and Randy Orton followup from Survivor Series, former NFL great Michael Strahan as guest host
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Uniondale, New York at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
[Q1] Raw opened with a memorial graphic for Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon... Justin Roberts introduced WWE Champion Randy Orton. Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler were on commentary. Orton started off by saying he feels he is owed an apology from the doubters who thought he would not retain his title at Survivor Series.
Orton introduced Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, who walked to the ring together. Hunter told Orton that he and Steph could not be more pleased with his victory at Survivor Series. Steph said they gave him exactly what he needed in terms of motivation. She said he responded by doing exactly what they knew he would do as champion. "Besides, it's always nice when Triple H and I are proven right," Steph said.
Orton told the couple that they somehow made it all about themselves. Orton said he was on the verge of scoring an untainted victory when they came out at Survivor Series. Hunter recalled vowing that there would be no physical interference at the pay-per-view and there was not. A loud Daniel Bryan chant broke out.
Triple H said Orton may not remember it but he was unconscious at ringside when they came out. Orton said he can handle himself and boasted that he is the greatest star in the history of WWE. He said no one can take that away from him, including Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
John Cena's music played and he headed to the ring wearing the World Heavyweight Championship. Cena received more boos than cheers once he stood in the ring. Cena introduced himself as World Heavyweight Champion. Cena called Orton a "giant piece of" when he was interrupted by Steph, who asked him what he wants.
Cena said the fans chant Daniel Bryan and Yes because they are sick of the administrative B.S. Cena said the question he finds interesting is who is the champion. He said they should cut through the administrative B.S. and find out the answer. "I believe there should be only one champion," Cena said.
Orton started to talk, but Cena cut him off and asked him if he has the guts. Cena challenged Orton to a match for both titles. A Yes chant broke out. Steph said she hates it when the fans do that. She said they have been talking about this scenario. Orton questioned whether that's what they were talking about when he walked into their office at the pay-per-view. "Randy, grow up," Triple H said.
Triple H announced that in three weeks at the TLC pay-per-view, they are going to hang both titles above the ring. "We're going to make history," he said. "We're going to do something epic because it is going to be Randy Orton going one-on-one with John Cena in a tables, ladders, and chairs match." The crowd sat mostly in silence for the announcement. Both men held up their title belts and Triple H's music played to close the segment...
Cole hyped The Shield vs. Cody Rhodes, Goldust, and Rey Mysterio for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: In fairness, the live crowd was into the idea of seeing Orton vs. Cena tonight, but not so crazy about the match being booked for TLC. They didn't make any bold promises about guaranteeing that only one man will walk away with the title belts, so we can't rule out a scenario where both man gets a championship or some other type of finish that results in there being two champions. I wish we didn't have to consider those options, but my guard is up following the last few pay-per-view main event finishes. It's cool to see the Daniel Bryan chants grow. It sounded like a small group of fans at Survivor Series, but it was much more than that tonight.
[Q2] 1. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose vs. Rey Mysterio, Goldust, and Cody Rhodes in a six-man tag match. Before the match, the announcers gushed over Reigns tying the record for most eliminations in a Survivor Series match. Goldust got roughed up early and tried to make a tag, but Reigns tagged in and stopped him with a clothesline. [C]
After the break, Goldust made the hot tag to Mysterio, who checked in and performed some of his signature spots on Rollins. However, Rollins prevented him from hitting the 619. Cody and Ambrose checked in and Cody immediately caught him with a springboard dropkick. Reigns checked in and caught Mysterio with a spear. Goldust went after Reigns and also took a spear.
Cody caught Reigns with a shot from behind and then hit the Beautiful Disaster kick. Cody was setting up for his finisher on Rollins when legal man Ambrose performed his still unnamed (I believe) finisher on Cody for the win...
The Shield defeated Goldust, Cody Rhodes, and Rey Mysterio in 8:25.
Cole said Michael Strahan would appear after the break. Lawler announced that fans could choose between a street fight, lumberjack match, or a hardcore match for Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow...
Powell's POV: Another good match involving The Shield and the WWE Tag Champions with the usual crowd pleasing moves from Mysterio. Here's hoping it's leading to Rollins and Reigns getting a rematch with Cody and Goldust because the matches are even more entertaining when there's something meaningful at stake. Reigns was once again spotlighted with all of the talk about his Survivor Series performance and two more spears in this match.
[Q3] [C] The Miz hosted a MizTV segment with former NFL player and current talk show host Michael Strahan. Rather than Strahan, Titus O'Neil walked to the ring instead. Titus had his teeth covered so he had a Strahan gap. He also did a decent impersonation of Strahan and Miz played along by acting like he was interviewing Strahan.
Miz asked Titus what was up with the gap between his teeth. He told him to hock his Super Bowl ring and get it fixed. He said the gap is wider than the gap between the Giants and the playoffs. The fans booed. Titus, acting as Strahan, put over Titus as the guy who caught his eye backstage.
The real Michael Strahan walked to the ring and slapped hands on his way to the ring. Miz handed Strahan the mic. Strahan played to the crowd and then said Titus and Miz were great, but he said Miz's jokes were weak. He said the backup towel boy has better jokes. Strahan said Titus's suit was great, but his gap was weak.
Strahan said WWE is all about fun. He said there would be a "double team, tag team main event." Strahan said it would be Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena and Big Show.
Powell's POV: Well, I guess the punt kick isn't as effective as it once was. It previously led to wrestlers taking time off, but Show is back 24 hours later.
Miz asked Strahan if he can hack it in a WWE ring. Strahan said Kelly Rippa is tougher than Miz. Strahan told Miz not to let the suit fool him because there's a bad man under it. Titus interrupted and said that while Strahan is a great athlete, a simple move by Miz might prevent him from appearing with Kelly on their morning talk show.
Miz tried and failed to perform a hip toss on Strahan. "Man, he was stiff," Miz said. Titus took off his jacket and prepared to hip toss Strahan. Titus didn't have any luck either. Miz told Strahan to pretend he's Tony Romo throwing touchdown passes all over the Giants. "It's okay because nine times out of ten, it is pretend," Strahan said. Huh?
Strahan told Miz he had him in football mode. Miz tried to hip toss Strahan, who reversed it into a hip toss of his own. Titus did the Millions of Dollars dance with Strahan, who then hip tossed Titus. Miz yelled, "Michael Strahan, everybody!" They all hugged and did the Millions of Dollars dance together...
Powell's POV: Dear lord, that was awful. For non-football fans, Strahan was an excellent defensive end for the New York Giants. The New York fans at this show were sort of happy to see him. The hip toss bit was awful and the whole thing closing with the trio laughing, hugging, and dancing was just plain stupid. By the way, I still have no clue whether Miz is a heel or a babyface. I actually cared a little after his match with Kofi Kingston at Survivor Series, but this segment killed that interest.
[Q4] [C] Highlights aired of Big E Langston beating Curtis Axel to win the Intercontinental Title last week...
2. Big E Langston and Mark Henry vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel. The heels did not get televised entrances. Henry received a nice reaction when his music hit. Ryback got the better of Langston early on while the fans got the Golberg chants out of their system. Later, Henry checked into the match and hit the World's Strongest Slam on Axel for the win...
Mark Henry and Big E Langston defeated Ryback and Curtis Axel in 2:35.
Lawler announced a Divas seven on seven rematch... [C]
Powell's POV: Lawler questioned whether Henry and Langston are the world's strongest team. I hope they don't intend to make them a regular team since Langston just won the Intercontinental Title, but it would be cool if it led to Henry eventually turned on Langston to set up a program between the two.
A recap aired of the opening segment that set up the Cena vs. Orton match for TLC...
Powell's POV: I still don't think there's going to be a unified champion at the end of this. If they were going to merge the titles, wouldn't they create one belt? If WWE actually does intend to have one World Champion then they need to make it very clear that only one man can win.
[Q5] 3. Natalya, The Bella Twins, Cameron, Naomi, Eva Marie, JoJo vs. A.J. Lee, Tamina Snuka, Kaitlyn, Rosa Mendes, Summer Rae, Aksana, and Alicia Fox in an elimination match. Brie pinned Rosa. Nikki pinned Aksana. Tamina pinned Naomi. Tamina pinned Cameron. Natalya got the better of Tamina and then tagged in JoJo, who pinned Tamina without doing anything.
Alicia Fox pinned JoJo after a backbreaker. Eva Marie tagged in and was booed. She pinned Alicia. Natalya forced Kaitlyn to submit to the Sharpshooter. A.J. checked in to face Natalya and an A.J. chant broke out. A.J. pinned Natalya. Brie pinned A.J. after a facebuster.
Summer Rae was the final member of her team and had to go against The Bella Twins and Eva Marie. Summer danced. Nikki did her backwards worm again. Summer couldn't do the move. Nikki ended up hitting a backbreaker from the Torture Rack position and got the win for her team...
The Bella Twins and Eva Marie were the survivors of the elimination match in 8:45.
After the match, JBL told Michael Cole to dance and said he learned it at Syracuse with Brian Gewirtz... A video recapped the street fight from last week. Lawler hyped the poll for this week's throwaway brawl... [C]
Powell's POV: Did anyone really want to see a rematch of the Divas elimination tag? Okay, so I'm sure some horny guy out there somewhere is in heaven, but it was pretty bad. Nikki's reverse worm is about as cheesy as it gets. I'm still not sure why The Bella Twins and Eva Marie don't get along on Total Divas, yet are happy tag partners on Raw. The adult males booing Eva the last two nights suggests that it's not just women watching Total Divas on Sunday nights.
[Q6] An ad aired for The Slammy Awards, which take place two weeks from tonight...
Powell's POV: Another theme show for a go-home episode. Off the top of my head, I believe The Slammy Awards actually do well in the ratings, so as much as I despise the awful annual awards show, I guess I understand the logic.
Jerry Lawler stood in the ring with Damien Sandow for the poll results. Hamptons Hardcore Match got 37 percent, Strong Island Street Fight scored 32, and Long Island Lumberjacks match got 31 percent...
4. Damien Sandow vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Hamptons Hardcore match. Crew members brought weapons to the ring. The weapons consisted of golf clubs, tennis rackets, etc. Ziggler wore an Islanders jersey to play to the New York fans. Sandow took it off him early on for heat. The fans chanted for Ziggler, then started a "We Want Ryder" chant. Hey, it's Long Island. At ringside, Ziggler put a trash can over Sandow's head and dropkicked it. [C]
After the break, Sandow draped the Islanders jersey over Ziggler and elbow dropped him. Dolph ended up under the ring and shot a fire extinguisher at Sandow. Back inside the ring, Ziggler hit Sandow with an oar and hit the Fameasser for a two count. The crowd chanted Randy Savage briefly because a security guy approached fans dressed as Hulk Hogan and Macho Man, which distracted most of the fans. In the ring, Ziggler DDT'd Sandow onto a chair, but Sandow kicked out. Sandow came back and performed You're Welcome onto a trash can for the win...
Damien Sandow defeated Dolph Ziggler in a Hamptons Hardcore match in 11:30.
Powell's POV: Two good workers with no real storyline beef having hardcore matches that the broadcast team laughs through. Yes, this is productive. Ugh. The wrestlers worked hard again, but I don't see what this is doing for either one of them.
[Q7] The announcers hyped Miz's role in "Christmas Bounty" which airs on ABC Family on Tuesday. Footage from the film was shown. Miz's co-star Fancia Raisa was in the crowd...
Backstage, Santino Marella spoke with Michael Strahan. Erick Rowan showed up wearing the sheep mask and handed another sheep mask to Strahan, who put it on. They looked at one another and then at the camera and back at each other. Rowan walked away. Strahan removed the mask. Santino breathlessly asked if Rowan was gone. He said it isn't Halloween so it must have something to do with Thanksgiving. He told Strahan to cook a turkey, throw it away, and nibble on the mask...
Powell's POV: Okay, WWE sucks serious ass right now. The variety show crap is awful. I really didn't think it could get worse after the dull Survivor Series pay-per-view, but I'll be damned they haven't managed to prove me wrong so far tonight. I hope this is one of those shows where they nearly lull you to sleep and then hit you with something hot at the end of the show, but I'm not getting my hopes up.
An ad for Friday's Smackdown focussed on food fights and said it was a special Thanksgiving edition of Smackdown...
Renee Young stood in the ring and introduced C.M. Punk and then Daniel Bryan for an interview about Survivor Series and the handicap match against the Wyatt Family for later in the show. Punk asked questions and Bryan answered with "yes" and it didn't really catch right away, but eventually the fans picked up on it.
Punk asked if GOAT or The Beard and The Best was a better team name. Bryan told him that's not a yes or no question. Punk said most people would be quaking in their boots over facing the Wyatt Family in a handicap match, but they overcome the odds. He mocked the idea of having so many handicap matches and said, "Good thinking, Triple H, real creative," Punk said.
Punk said you could put Renee Young, The Dicks, The Bushwhackers, all of the Russians, the Rock-n-Roll Express, the Midnight Express, the Ring Crew Express, Marty DeRosa, Matt Classic, Colt Cabana, or Scott Colton against them, they are going to "burn them all to the ground, baby." Bryan said the only question left is what time it was. Punk said it was clobbering time. The Wyatt Family's entrance video played...
Powell's POV: That has to be a record for the most ways to reference Colt Cabana in one pro wrestling promo. For the Cabana impaired, Punk used Colt's gimmick name, his masked alter ego name, and his real name. And at this point, I'm all for any jab anyone in WWE wants to take at the awful booking. I don't care if it's insider or not insider, someone needs to make some noise and it seems like Punk is one of the few wrestlers with enough clout or enough of an "I don't give a shit" attitude to get away with it.
[Q8] [C] 5. C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Bray Wyatt in a handicap match. Punk ended up selling for the Wyatt Family and was writhing at ringside heading into the break. [C]
Punk continued to sell after the break. Harper performed his gator roll. Punk caught Rowan with a kick to the head and made the hot tag to Bryan, who dropkicked Wyatt off the apron and dove onto him on the floor moments later. Bryan threw a series of kicks at Harper.
[Q9] All five men ended up in the ring and fought until the referee called for the bell to end the match. The fans booed. Afterward, the Wyatt Family triple teamed Bryan at ringside while Punk sold his injuries in the ring. Rowan put Bryan over his shoulder and carried him backstage.
C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan fought The Wyatt Family to a Double DQ in 13:50.
Punk got to his feet and slowly started to make his way toward the ramp when he was hit with a Roman Reigns spear out of nowhere. All three members of The Shield showed up and performed a Triple Powerbomb on Punk in the ring... [C]
Powell's POV: This is the first compelling thing to happen on this show since the TLC main event announcement. The Wyatt Family could have used the win and Punk and Bryan certainly could have absorbed a handicap match loss, but I really liked everything that happened afterward. I assume the attack by The Shield is in response to Punk's jab at Triple H, which may not have been as spontaneous as I assumed it was. Meanwhile, I am curious to see what happens with Daniel Bryan now that he's been hauled off. Then again, I was also curious to see what would happen with Kane and that was basically forgotten.
The broadcast team recapped the previous segment... The Miz spoke with his "Christmas Bounty" co-star backstage...
6. The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston. Kingston offered a handshake before the match, which resulted in simultaneous slaps to the face.
[Q10] Late in the match, Miz and Kingston countered out of each other's finishers. Kingston hit the SOS for a two count. Kingston caught Miz with a fulcrum kick and a cross body block for another two count. Miz came back and hooked Kingston's arms and pinned him...
The Miz defeated Kofi Kingston in 5:10.
Powell's POV: The crowd was quiet and the announcers spoke about Miz's movie, birthdays, online shows, and anything but the match. Coming out of the pay-per-view, I was actually looking forward to seeing where they would go next with this mid-card program. They didn't go anywhere. We got an uninspired match with the same result.
Mick Foley/Dude Love/Mankind pimped merchandise backstage... Lawler hyped the Cena and Big Show vs. Del Rio and Orton main event... [C] At ringside, Lawler interviewed Charlie Cabelli, who won an auction. The guy said he wanted to wrestle as "The Kosher Butcher." He had his own t-shirt and said his finisher would be called the circumcision...
R-Truth cut a promo in the ring about "giving a brother a chance." He said he cleared something with Brodus Clay, then introduced Xavier Woods, who was accompanied by Cameron and Naomi for his pre-match dance routine to Clay's entrance music...
7. Xavier Woods (w/R-Truth, Cameron, Naomi) vs. Heath Slater (w/Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre). The crowd amused themselves with a "circumcision" chant. Woods sold early, but he came back with Gail Kim's finisher for the win...
Xavier Woods defeated Heath Slater in 3:15.
Powell's POV: Cole called this a "huge" win for Woods. You know, because no one beats Heath Slater. Woods is talented, but how many smiling and dancing gimmicks does one company need? Is this really what Triple H meant when he laid down the edict that developmental wrestlers have to be introduced properly?
[Q11] The announcers spoke at ringside and hyped the History of WWE DVD... [C] A Total Divas commercial aired... Backstage, Michael Strahan signed footballs for The Bella Twins, who said they were Eagles fans. Cameron and Naomi showed up and got footballs signed. Eva Marie was up next and she told him he could watch her on Total Divas. Goldust showed up and glared at Strahan and made him flinch with the bite bit...
The announcers pimped a WrestleMania 2K14 poll that asked who was The Rock's toughest WrestleMania rival. Steve Austin won with 66 percent, John Cena got 27 percent, and Hulk Hogan got just seven percent...
Backstage, John Cena spoke with Michael Strahan, who said Cena makes him feel good because he lets him win. Huh? They shook hands and Cena headed off for his match... Another Slammy Awards teaser was shown... [C] A new gladiator game commercial included clips of the game and Randy Orton highlights...
[Q12] Ring introductions for the tag team main event took place...
8. John Cena and Big Show vs. Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio. The ring had Mexican flags on the posts because Del Rio was involved. Show worked over Orton with punches to the got and a slap to the chest. A small "one more time" chant broke out and Show obliged. [C]
After the break, Del Rio tagged in and was getting the better of Cena. Yes, they failed to show the first Cena and Orton exchange. Cena took some punishment from the heels and eventually tagged in Show, who took a superkick to the head from Del Rio. Show played up the punt kick he took the night before by stumbling around the ring. There was a cool camera shot of Orton leaning down and looking sideways at Show through the ropes and then flashing a sinister grin.
[Overrun] Show ended up taking another superkick from Del Rio while Orton held Show's head in place. At 12:55, the doctor entered the ring to check on Big Show, who eventually got to his feet. Orton charged at Show and DDT'd him at 14:10. Orton back up for the punt kick, but Show speared him.
Cena took the hot tag from Show and Del Rio also checked in. Cena started his signature spots, but Del Rio came back with a tilt a whirl back breaker. Del Rio went for his finisher, but Cena dodged it and countered into the STF. Del Rio tapped out quickly to end the match...
John Cena and Big Show defeated Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio in 15:30.
After the match, Cena went to check on Big Show. Del Rio recovered and put the boots to Cena. He once again went for the Cross Arm Breaker and Cena once again avoided and this time hit the Attitude Adjustment. When Cena got back to his feet, Orton was there to hit him with the WWE Championship.
Orton went to ringside and grabbed the World Heavyweight Championship belt. JBL noted that Orton had both belts. He stammered a bit because it's a taboo word in WWE, but JBL did say the dreaded "belt" word. Orton mugged with both title belts while standing over the fallen Cena to close the show...
Powell's POV: A decent main event with the expected end result of Orton standing over Cena to generate some heat as the build for their match continues. I still haven't heard anything that makes me think one man will definitely walk away with both titles, which leads me to suspect that we're going to see a screwy finish. It could be both men keep their titles or both men trade their titles, but until I hear Triple H or someone in power guarantee that one man will be the unified champion then my guard is up for another weird pay-per-view finish.
This was not a hot night after a pay-per-view edition of Raw. Normally, I would question whether they held something back because it's a holiday week in the United States, but this was on par with the other disappointing episodes we've had in recent months. Therefore, I continue to feel that WWE is in a really bad place creatively and I can't say I have much hope for them snapping out of it before WrestleMania season begins. Heck, I'm even concerned about that time of the year because what we've seen lately has been so lackluster. Here's hoping they get it together quickly because we've seen way more bad than good since SummerSlam. I will have more to say in my member exclusive audio review later tonight, and in my WWE Raw Hit List on Tuesday.
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