12/30 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Final Raw of 2013, big returns expected, several stars unlikely to appear due to live event commitments, Big E Langston vs. Fandango for the Intercontinental Title
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Richmond, Virginia at The Richmond Coliseum
[Q1] C.M. Punk made his entrance as Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler checked on commentary. JBL said he wanted to get rid of 240 lbs. of unwanted fat for the new year and then pointed at Cole. In the ring, Punk soaked up the crowd cheers and then said he is fired up tonight and fired up to be in Richmond.
Punk noted that it's the last Raw of 2013. He said there were good and bad things that happened to him this year. He said we all still wake up and go to work with a smile on our face, then admitted that he doesn't always do that. He said he started off the year as the longest reigning champion of the last 25 years.
Punk said he went one-on-one with The Great One. Surprisingly, the crowd didn't really react. He recalled facing Undertaker at WrestleMania, and said he made friends and lost friends and referred to Paul Heyman. He said it wasn't the year of C.M. Punk. He said there were three guys who might be able to say it was there year - The Shield. Punk said The Shield have been unstoppable.
Powell's POV: Um, didn't he beat them in a handicap match earlier this month?
The Shield made their entrance through the crowd. Once in the ring, Dean Ambrose told Punk to finish his thought about a challenge he teased. He said Punk better give them a good reason not to end 2013 by ending him on the spot. Punk said it's been established that The Shield can beat any one man (um, see the POV).
Punk spoke about wanting to beat the best member of The Shield. Ambrose assumed it was him, but Punk said he was talking about Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins. Punk said Ambrose is the weak link and he wants to find out who the strong one is. "Roman Reigns, look at me when I'm talking to you," Punk said. "Is it you?"
Rollins stepped up and said that if Punk wants to fight the best then they could fight tonight. Reigns took exception and interjected. Rollins told him that he's better than Punk and wants to prove it.
Brad Maddox walked onto the stage and reminded the world that he's still the general manager. Maddox booked Punk vs. Rollins and called for a referee because the match would start immediately. Cole pointed out that Maddox coming out seemed to defuse the situation with The Shield...
1. C.M. Punk vs. Seth Rollins (w/Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose). Cole said he thinks it's the first time Punk has faced Rollins in a one-on-one matchup. Punk went for an early GTS, but Rollins slipped to ringside heading into the break just 30 seconds into the match. [C]
[Q2] Cole said it was confirmed that this was the first Punk vs. Rollins singles match. The announcers bickered about issues between The Shield. After some back and forth action, Rollins caught Punk on the top rope and shoved him to the floor heading into yet another commercial break. [C]
Powell's POV: WWE also aired a generic ad for Smackdown even though the show was taped on Sunday. The commercial played up that it was the first show of 2014. I'm curious to see if they get a little more specific with advertised matches for the show because it was taped. By the way, we've seen more commercials than in-ring action since the match started.
After the break, Rollins was in control briefly, but he missed a leg-drop off the ropes. Later, Punk went for a high knee in the corner, but Rollins caught him with a buckle bomb for a two count. Rollins tried to perform the GTS on Punk, but Punk fought out of it and caught him with a high knee.
Punk went for a superplex, but Rollins fought him off and then performed a crossbody block, but Punk rolled through and applied the Anaconda Vice briefly. Punk was distracted. Punk and Rollins jockeyed for position and Rollins got the better of it and got another two count.
Rollins reached through the ropes and jawed at Ambrose. Reigns also tried to keep Ambrose in check. Punk backdropped Rollins onto his stablemates at ringside. A short time later, Ambrose tried propel himself over the the top rope, but Punk caught him and hit GTS for the win...
C.M. Punk defeated Seth Rollins in 17:45.
Powell's POV: What we saw of the match was really good. As much as I hate the idea of The Shield seemingly splitting up so early in their run, I am enjoying the build to it.
[Q3] A backstage shot aired of Kane's mask and wig, which was encased in glass. Maddox told a referee that he wanted an Intercontinental Title match he could be proud of. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon arrived. Maddox greeted the duo and noted that Kane would not be there, but it wouldn't be a problem because he wanted to take a step forward.
Daniel Bryan showed up. Triple H condescendingly noted that Bryan is the 2013 Superstar of the Year. Bryan said he wasn't going to let 2013 end without getting a match with Bray Wyatt. Maddox told Bryan he should earn it by facing Luke Harper. Maddox said if Bryan beats Harper, he should face Erick Rowan. If he wins that, then he can face Wyatt. Bryan accepted. Stephanie told Maddox she was impressed. "Now watch and learn as I announce the main event of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view"...
Powell's POV: She's going to announce that the Royal Rumble will be the main event of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, right? Apparently not. As for Bryan, instead of having him agree to the stipulations with a simple "okay" response, why not have him explain that he'll do whatever it takes to get his hands on Wyatt. He just seemed way too compliant, but maybe they will cover it later.
Stephanie McMahon made her entrance to very little reaction. She stood on the stage and wished everyone an incredibly happy new year. She said the end of the year is often time for reflection. She said when she looks back and asks what she would change, the answer is nothing because they crowned one champion. Steph said she wanted to celebrate Randy Orton, which led to an Orton video airing.
Back live, Steph applauded the video and said Orton has had an amazing career and deserves every accolade. Steph said Orton is a fighting champion and he will defend the title in a traditional championship match that can be won via pinfall or submission only against John Cena...
Powell's POV: If the match takes place after the Royal Rumble, then that means Cena won't be in the Royal Rumble match. I have no problem with him entering the Rumble and losing or even entering WrestleMania as champion, but I have zero desire to see him win the Rumble again.
The announcers hyped Bryan vs. Harper (and possibly the other members of the Wyatt Family), and Big E Langston vs. Fandango for the IC Title... [C] A Batista video was shown to promote his return on January 20...
[Q4] Backstage, Triple H commented on the Orton vs. Cena match by saying they would finally know who the real man is. He told Stephanie that if she thought that was a big announcement, she should wait to hear what he has to say...
2. Curtis Axel vs. Dolph Ziggler. A pop-box video showed Axel talking about how great he was in 2013 and how much better than perfect he will be next year. Ziggler was shown saying that he wants to work harder than Miley, wear smaller outfights, and be radder. Dolph still has the pink streak in his hair.
Ziggler threw a nice dropkick early in the match, but Axel came right back and threw him over the top rope. Axel went to ringside and rammed Ziggler's back into the ring. Back inside the ring, Axel remained on the offensive. He stopped and mugged from the crowd only to have Ziggler catch him with his finisher for the win. JBL half-heartedly sold it as a "huge win" for Ziggler...
Dolph Ziggler beat Curtis Axel in 4:10.
Cole set up an app tutorial and hyped that voters would be able to choose whether Kofi Kingston, Great Khali, or The Miz would face Damien Sandow in a match on Raw... Separate shots aired of Big E Langston and Fandango... [C]
Powell's POV: A couple of random notes. They are obviously taking this approach with Daniel Bryan potentially having multiple opponents because half of the crew is in Toronto for a live event tonight. They picked a good guy to have multiple matches, though. Also, the announcers didn't exactly build up the IC Title match properly earlier when they spoke about how Langston gets his hands on Fandango rather than playing it up as an important title match. Still, it's one that I am looking forward to, as I want to see how they work together.
A commercial hyped the Old School Raw. For what it's worth, the commercial showed Ric Flair, Bob Backlund, IRS, New Age Outlaws, DDP, Roddy Piper, Ted DiBiase, Booker T, Gene Okerlund, Rikishi, Scotty 2 Hotty, and Booker T...
Powell's POV: Flair led off the video and his WOOO was featured in a graphic, so one can only assume he will be there. In fact, given the talent that was shown, I assume they will all be present.
Ring entrances for the IC Title match took place, and Justin Roberts delivered in-ring introductions for the championship match...
[Q5] 3. Big E Langston vs. Fandango (w/Summer Rae) for the Intercontinental Title. Fandango worked over Langston's leg and caught him in a leg lock. The announcers played up whether Langston was on the verge of tapping out. Langston threw punches to break the hold at 4:35. However, Fandango knocked Langston to ringside heading into the break. [C]
Fandango was back to working the leg after the commercial break. Langston came back with a belly-to-belly suplex that started with Fandango on the ring apron. Fandango came back and performed his top rope leg-drop, but Langston rolled to ringside. A short time later, Langston came back with a suplex and then ran the ropes and performed the big splash. Langston took his straps down and the fans cheered, then he hit The Big Ending for the win...
Big E Langston beat Fandango to retain the Intercontinental Title in 13:10.
Powell's POV: It was nice to see Fandango get so much offense. I like the way he was able to wrestle rather than work the gimmick or clown it up. Langston sold a lot but got the win, so he keeps his momentum, yet Fandango actually gained a little something in defeat. The only negative is that after Fandango worked over Langston's knee consistently throughout the match, Langston had no problem running the ropes before hitting the splash at the end.
[Q6] The announcers hyped the upcoming segments... [C] Cole announced C.M. Punk vs. Roman Reigns for next week's Old School Raw...
Booker T, The Prime Time Players, The Uso Brothers, Tyson Kid, Xavier Woods, Dolph Ziggler, Justin Gabriel, a bunch of Divas, and others came out onto the stage in New Year's celebration mode. Booker said he was going to deliver a Spinaroonie. However, he was interrupted by Bad News Barrett's music.
Barrett's podium was next to the stage and it was elevated as his music played. He banged his gavel and said all the wrestlers on the stage would continue to stab each other in the back in the pursuit of money so they could say they have a bigger flat screen TV than their neighbors.
Barrett said the fans would be the first to hold their grubby hands out when Mother Nature fights back and takes their home. He brought up poverty, debt, and destruction and said it's around us all. He said he would be there to remind everyone all about it. He closed it out by wishing everyone a Happy New Year and banged his gavel...
Powell's POV: Good music, new podium, same bad act. Meanwhile, I am really looking forward to Punk vs. Reigns.
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Damien Sandow, who vented about being disrespected. He brought up the Santa match, being danced around at Tribute to the Troops, and being forced to compete in stipulation matches. He said that it doesn't matter who his opponent it, because he will quit if he doesn't win and end the year on a high note... [C]
Powell's POV: Please tell me this means they are finally going to do something meaningful with Sandow, who has been lost in the shuffle despite the eye opening performance he had against John Cena in the failed Money in the Bank cash-in match.
Cole excitedly delivered the news that LeSean McCoy and LeBron James and their interest in title belts. McCoy won one after winning the rushing title on NBC last night, and James said he wants one, so John Cena and The Rock replied to him. JBL said he's a Cowboys fan who hates football...
[Q7] Damien Sandow made his entrance. Jerry Lawler revealed the winner of the app poll. Khali got 39 percent of the vote, Miz got 33 percent of the vote, and Kingston finished last with 28 percent...
4. Damien Sandow vs. The Great Khali. The announcers played up the possibility of Sandow quitting if he didn't win the match. Khali threw repeated chops early on. Sandow came back by clotheslining Khali over the top rope and then dropkicked Khali's leg out from under him.
Sandow worked over Khali's left knee, which actually consists of dust and a rubber band. Khali came back and there were actually chants for him. Sandow managed to pull Khali's head into the turnbuckle and then rolled him up for the pin. The announcers pointed out that one of Khali's shoulders was actually up when Sandow got the win...
Damien Sandow defeated The Great Khali in 4:55.
Powell's POV: It wasn't pretty, but I am thankful for two things. 1. Sandow went over. 2. After having his knee worked over throughout the match, Khali didn't run the ropes and do a big splash like Big E Langston.
Highlights aired from Smackdown of the Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family segment form Smackdown a couple weeks back... R-Truth, Xavier Woods, Cameron, and Naomi walked backstage. Cole hyped Truth vs. Brodus Clay for after the break... [C]
5. Brodus Clay vs. R-Truth. Xavier Woods sat in on commentary. Clay dominated the match. He picked up Truth over his shoulder and dropped him, then performed an elbow drop. Clay covered Truth, but he kicked out. Clay performed a couple of splashes in the corner.
Woods told the announcers he couldn't handle it. He stood up on the announcers' table and distracted Clay, then Cameron and Naomi came out and danced. Clay went for another splash, but Truth moved. Truth hit a move and pinned Clay to win the match. There was a bunch of dancing after the match, but Truth pumped his fist and sold the beating he took during the match...
R-Truth beat Brodus Clay in 4:05.
[Q8] Lawler hyped Total Divas vs. Non Total Divas in a big tag match... A shot aired of Triple H walking backstage. Cole hyped that Hunter's announcement was still to come... [C]
Powell's POV: The Clay match was what it needed to be until Woods stood up on the announcers' table and the dancers came out. Whatever.
Triple H’s music hit and he headed towards the ring. He said under the Authority 2013 was an epic year, but he guarantees that 2014 will be better than anything we’ve ever seen before. With that in mind, he wanted us to welcome back this man to the WWE. Triple H pointed towards the ring and Brock Lesnar’s music hit. He paced at the top of the ramp with Paul Heyman in tow. Cole mentioned that Triple H brought Lesnar back despite Brock breaking his arm twice. Brock looked trimmer than even the last time we saw him at SummerSlam.
Triple H handed Heyman the microphone and stuck out his hand to Lesnar. Brock shook his hand and Triple H walked to the back. Heyman announced himself, and said that we can clearly see that the beast in back. In this age of transparency, Brock Lesnar has authorized him to notify us of his mission statement in the WWE. Brock Lesnar is not in the WWE to settle old scores, because he has no old scores. You face Brock Lesnar, you lose to Brock Lesnar, and Brock Lesnar forgets about you. Nor is he there to take revenge on those who did wrong to Paul Heyman.
Heyman said he has a forgiving heart, and he put those dealings in his past, because he is a bigger man than us. This isn’t about him, it’s about his client Brock Lesnar. Why is Brock Lesnar back in WWE? Heyman said what’s best for business is for Brock to declare his desire to be WWE World Heavyweight Champion. What that means for John Cena and Randy Orton is that whoever emerges from their match at the Royal Rumble will be the loser, because they will have to face the self-declared #1 Contender Brock Lesnar.
[Q9] Lesnar grabbed the mic and said that he doesn’t care whether it’s John Cena or Randy Orton. As far as he’s concerned, nobody in the building can stop him. He doesn’t have to win the Royal Rumble or stand in a mysterious line to get a title shot. The line starts right there behind him, and he dares anybody to come down and try to do something about it. Heyman grabbed the mic back and said that they might as well say goodnight, because Brock Lesnar’s life is like a T-Shirt. He eats, sleeps, dominates and repeats. He is the beast incarnate…..and then Heyman was interrupted by Mark Henry.
Lesnar didn’t even let Henry get in the ring. He kicked him off the apron and sent him spilling to the floor. Henry recovered quickly and tossed Lesnar over the barricade to the security area behind the announcers. Henry climbed over to give chase, when Lesnar charged and speared him through the barricade back to ringside. Lesnar then picked up Henry and hit a nasty looking F5 on the floor, which Henry sold like death. Lesnar let out a few primal screams.
Heyman begged off Lesnar, and told him Henry understands now. Lesnar slowly made his way back around the ring and up the ramp as his music played, while a replay showed us repeats of the big spots.
Powell's POV: Thanks to Jake Barnett for that recap. For those not reading live, DirecTV had a feed meltdown and the segment was unwatchable. I assure you there was quite the irrational meltdown about this debacle in audio.
6. Eva Marie, The Bella Twins, Cameron, and Naomi vs. Aksana, Rosa, Kaityn, Summer Rae, and Alicia Fox. Not a clue what happened here. When in doubt, assume the Total Divas won. However...
Aksana pinned Nikki Bella.
Powell's POV: Okay, so I probably could have focussed in on the Divas tag match more than I did. Do I feel guilty? No, not even a little bit. Jake Barnett will be jumping in shortly to recap the Lesnar angle. DirecTV is back now. I still hate them. Update: In a shocking turn of events, Nikki Bella was actually pinned by Aksana. Is Cena single or something?
[Q10] [C] A WWE Tribute to the Troops video played... Lawler said Mark Henry was being evaluated and may have to go to the hospital as a result of Brock Lesnar's attack... The announcers hyped the Royal Rumble main event...
Backstage, Brad Maddox apologized to The Authority for what happened in the Great Khali vs. Sandow match. He said the situation has been handled and it won't happen again. Maddox told them that he had their favorites lined up for Old School Raw. Maddox delivered a couple of Wooo's. Hunter told him not to do that to him, but Maddox did it one more time...
Powell's POV: Okay, Jake Barnett's recap of the Lesnar angle has replaced the gibberish caused by my DirecTV issues. Scroll up a bit and you'll find it. A big thanks to Jake for jumping in. Everything is good again on my end. And, no, the Divas tag match recap won't get any better. If you care, you should probably seek counseling.
[Q11] [C] 7. Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper (w/Erick Rowan, Bray Wyatt). Bryan caught Harper with a running dropkick, but Harper came right back with a slam for a two count heading into the break. [C] After the break, Bryan took control of the match and performed a suicide dive followed by his missile dropkick back inside the ring.
[Q12] Harper caught Bryan going for a huracanrana off the ropes and powerbombed him off the second rope instead. Harper covered Bryan, but he kicked out. Bryan managed to come back and apply the Yes! Lock, but Harper broke free and then blasted Bryan with a big boot to the face. Cole said it appeared Harper bit Bryan to break the hold. Bryan came back with the running knee for the win...
Daniel Bryan pinned Luke Harper.
8. Daniel Bryan vs. Erick Rowan. Rowan attacked Bryan and took him to ringside, where he shipped him over the announcers' table heading into the break. [C] Rowan was still getting the better of Bryan after the break. Lawler said Bryan survived Harper, but he wasn't sure he could do the same with Rowan.
A short time later, Rowan hit a fallaway slam off the second rope. However, Bryan ended up catching Bryan in a small package and pinning him. Rowan attacked Bryan after the match, but Harper entered and pulled him off. Cole explained that Wyatt wanted Bryan for himself.
Daniel Bryan defeated Erick Rowan in 7:05.
9. Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt. Wyatt said this is what Bryan wanted. He charged toward Bryan, who was leaning against the ropes, but he stopped short. The referee called for the bell. Wyatt turned his back to Bryan, who moved toward him, only to have Rowan and Harper attack him for the DQ. Harper and Rowan roughed up Bryan as Wyatt leaned in a corner of the ring and watched.
Daniel Bryan beat Bray Wyatt by DQ.
[Overrun] Wyatt took the mic and looked down at Bryan, who was lying in the middle of the ring. He said he has no mercy left to give. "Open your eyes, Bryan, this is the end," Wyatt said. Bryan responded by saying Wyatt was right. Wyatt made him say it again. He told him to say it again and handed him the mic.
"You're right," Bryan said. "You were always right. No matter how many matches I won, no matter how loud these people cheered for me... you were always right. The Machine would never let me win. No matter how loud you people chanted, you chanted Yes! at every building I've ever been to, and they don't care. I'm yours (to Wyatt). Let me join The Family."
Wyatt offered Bryan his hand. Bryan reached out to grab it, but Wyatt pulled his hand away and struck the crucifix pose. Bryan used Wyatt's pants to pull himself to his knees and then struck the crucifix pose. Wyatt grabbed Bryan, kissed his forehead, and then gave him Sister Abagail." Wyatt told him "this is forever, this is going to change everything."
Wyatt ordered Harper and Rowan to pick up Bryan, which they did. Wyatt walked toward the back as Harper and Rowan helped Bryan to the bottom of the ramp. He then stood on his own and walked toward Wyatt, who led him to the top of the stage. Bryan looked at Wyatt, who barked orders. Bryan looked to the fans and there was a small "no" chant.
"The World is waiting outside," Wyatt said. Bryan looked down and then huffed and puffed. A Daniel Bryan chant started as Bryan continued to look back at the fans. He shook his head no and then looked down and shook his head no again. Bryan followed Wyatt to the back, and Harper and Rowan followed to end the show...
Powell's POV: Well, so much for this being a throwaway holiday week edition of Raw. Wow! I didn't see that angle coming even a little bit. I never thought Bryan would join the Wyatt Family. I am very curious to see where this goes and whether it's a long term thing or a setup for Bryan to turn back in the near future.
I can't really comment on the entire show since DirecTV had issues that prevented me from seeing the Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman angle, but I will definitely see it before I write the WWE Raw Hit List and record Dot Net Members' audio. Thanks for watching along with me and tolerating the technical issues tonight, and thanks again to Jake Barnett for jumping in with the Lesnar coverage. Enjoy New Year's Eve and let's do this again next year.
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