1/6 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Old School Raw kicks off 2014, Ric Flair returns, C.M. Punk vs. Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar vows to do something "old school"
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Baltimore, Maryland at Baltimore Arena
[Q1] Raw opened with Old School graphics... Ric Flair's music played and he walked onto the stage wearing a suit and shades. Michael Cole and JBL checked in on commentary and recapped Flair's appearance for the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday. Flair made his way to the ring, which had a modern variation of the WWF logo (WWE), blue ring posts, and red, white, and blue ropes. Flair welcomed viewers to Old School Raw and said he's had some fun in Baltimore.
Randy Orton made his entrance carrying both title belts. Orton spoke about how he has the utmost respect for Flair, but he said tonight is about him. He said he is the greastest of his generation or any other. "It's my time, it's my show, and it's my ring," Orton said. He asked Flair to step aside because he has something to get off his chest. Flair stood in the corner and smirked.
Orton brought up his Royal Rumble match with John Cena. He said he has never understood why WWE gives consideration to what the fans like. Orton asked The Authority to reconsider giving Cena the title match because he has defeated him and proven that he is the man.
"Whoa," Flair said before noting that in his day the champion defended the title seven days a week and he did that for three decades. He kissed his WWE Hall of Fame ring and said that's why he has two of them. Flair told Orton to stop crying and go out and "wrestle the man again." Orton said Flair had someone watching his back whenever he was champion.
"You're the most overrated superstar in history," Orton told Flair. He said Flair was great, but times have changed. Orton told Flair to leave his ring or he would not be responsible for what happens next. Flair said he wasn't leaving because he had something to say. He recalled how great Orton was when he joined the company, but he brought an "immature, punk attitude that you've never grown out of."
Flair said the title belts that Orton wears make him the man in the business, but he questions whether Orton is the man when he closes the bedroom door at night. Orton said he could go old school on Flair's ass. John Cena's music interrupted and he headed to the ring before Orton could go after Flair. Cena hugged Flair and then chastised Orton for calling him overrated. Cena challenged Orton to "dance." Orton backed out of the ring and grabbed his title belts and backed up the entrance ramp.
Powell's POV: A strong opening segment. Flair and Cena were very good, and Orton really surprised me. Randy seemed more comfortable and less robotic in his delivery than usual.
At ringside, Cole and Lawler checked in wearing the old school WWE blazers. They acknowledged Jerry Lawler's medical issues. Cole said Lawler's heart is fine and pimped a WWE app update on Lawler's medical issues.
[Q2] They shifted the focus to Daniel Bryan joining the Wyatt and a video recapped last week's developments. After the video played, the announcers spoke more and hyped Daniel Bryan would join them live...
Powell's POV: Go to the 1-900 Hotline for Mean Gene's update on Jerry Lawler's health! Sorry, but it just seemed like they could have provided the full update here rather than pushing viewers to their app for the update on Lawler. I checked out the app. Josh Mathews brought in Jerry Lawler for an interview. Lawler was in his King gear. He chalked up his medical issues to having seafood that didn't sit well. He recalled someone telling him that nausea could be the sign of a heart attack. He said he went to the hospital and everything is fine. Obviously, that's the most important thing.
1. Daniel Bryan, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan (w/Bray Wyatt) vs. Rey Mysterio and The Uso Brothers. The Wyatts entered and stopped on the stage, then Bryan walked out and nodded at Wyatt. Bryan was wearing the same overalls gear he wore over the weekend. The fans chanted "No!"
Bryan checked in early on and struck Mysterio with a forehead to the head. Bryan threw knees at Mysterio while going after him aggressively. Mysterio managed to send Bryan to ringside heading into the break. [C]
[Q3] Bryan was not the legal man after the break. Mysterio got the better of Rowan, then tagged in Jimmy Uso, who missed the top rope splash. Rowan went to his corner for a tag and Bryan tagged himself in. However, Harper tagged Bryan's back. They had a brief staredown before Bryan exited the ring. Moments later, Uso rolled up Harper and pinned him to win the match for the babyface trio...
Rey Mysterio and The Uso Brothers defeated Daniel Bryan, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan in 8:40.
Cole hyped Piper's Pit with The Shield, and hyped CM Punk vs. Roman Reigns... [C]
Powell's POV: Well, that's not what I was expecting from Bryan's debut with The Wyatt Family. They're already showing signs of problems between Bryan and the Wyatt Family members. I was actually hoping they would return to the Wyatt Family compound and we'd get some shots of Bryan being brainwashed. While that could be what's next now that their first match didn't go well, my guess remains that Bryan won't be with the group for long with the idea being that the fans willed him into turning back.
A video hyped Batista's return two weeks from tonight... Cole and JBL said Batista has officially entered the Royal Rumble match...
Powell's POV: He's obviously one of the favorites to win. There are already rumors he will challenge Randy Orton at WrestleMania 30. I could also see he and Brock Lesnar eliminating one another to set up a match between them at WrestleMania 30.
Backstage, Brad Maddox said there would be a rematch between Damien Sandow and Great Khali due to the finish of last week's match. He said the fans would choose the referee - Sgt. Slaughter, Arn Anderson, or Bob Backlund.
After the legends left, Kane showed up and asked Maddox if there's anything he'd like to say to his face that he didn't say behind his back last week. Maddox asked him whether he was going to threaten him with fellow violence. Kane said the human resources policy says that he would be fired if he did. Kane said he would make sure Maddox is never heard from again if he ignored the policy or went back to being the Big Red Monster. He told him to remember that...
Big E Langston was shown walking when he came upon Nikolai Volkoff singing the Soviet national anthem, then Ted DiBiase with the Million Dollar Title, and then IRS telling him to pay his taxes. Langston just laughed it all off...
Powell's POV: It's always nice to see those guys, but I always want more than a quick cameo from Ted DiBiase.
[Q4] [C] Cole hyped the WWE announcement "that will change the face of WWE forever"...
2. Big E Langston vs. Curtis Axel in a non-title match. Ryback sat in on commentary and said he was hoarse because he'd been hanging out with Lilian Garcia. Langston won with The Big Ending...
Big E Langston pinned Curtis Axel in 2:45.
A backstage shot aired of Roddy Piper as the announcers hyped Piper's Pit with The Shield...
Powell's POV: The crowd was quiet until Langston hit his power moves at the end and then they counted along with the three count. Obviously, they are setting up Langston vs. Ryback. Piper's Pit with The Shield has the potential to be very good if Piper is on. I'd love to hear a back and forth verbal exchange between Piper and Dean Ambrose.
Cole set up current and past shots of the Baltimore skyline...
Roddy Piper made his entrance and received a polite reaction. He paused to let some Piper chants pick up, but they never really did. Piper said he was old school before it was cool. Finally, the fans started a loud "Roddy" chant. Geez, pick it up, Baltimore. The Shield theme interrupted Piper and they made their entrance through the crowd.
The Shield joined Piper in the ring, which had four chairs with plaid covering. Ambrose asked who gave Piper a live microphone. Ambrose said Piper should be thankful they weren't around in his prime or Piper may not have made it to 112 years old. Piper said it's Piper's Pit, not Ambrose Alley. "Now, if you're finished with the foolishness..." Piper said. He asked Ambrose if he thought he was cute.
Piper said there is only one guy who can match him on the mic. He got nose to nose with Ambrose and said that man's name is C.M. Punk. Ambrose told Piper should know to tread lightly. Rollins intervened and told Piper that it's not 1985 and they are too smart for Piper's tactics. Rollins said Piper is jealous that Ambrose is a better U.S. Champ than he was.
[Q5] Piper told Rollins and Ambrose that that they can't beat Punk in singles matches. Piper pinched the cheek of Reigns and asked if he beats Punk tonight, does that make him better than Rollins and Ambrose. He asked Reigns if they are holding him back. "Crack in The Shield?" Piper asked.
Reigns stood up and backed Piper down. "I'm going to beat C.M. Punk tonight and if you ever touch me again I'm going to break your old ass in half," Reigns said. Ambrose said they should leave a memorable impression on Piper. C.M. Punk's music hit. Punk and The New Age Outlaws hit the ring and cleared The Shield...
Powell's POV: A good segment. Yes, they took a little of the danger away from The Shield by not having them attack Piper, but the important thing is that Reigns looked badass when he told Piper he would break him in half. Sure, Reigns was cleared from the ring, but he didn't lose anything. I continue to wonder if this dissension leads to a Rumble showdown and/or a Triple Threat amongst The Shield members at WrestleMania 30.
A video recapped Brock Lesnar's return last week. Cole told viewers that Lesnar was at Old School Raw... [C]
Powell's POV: There was a great ad for the Royal Rumble that also showcased Batista's involvement. The commercial focusses on the match, eliminations, great saves (Kofi walking on his hand), etc. This will sell pay-per-views, whereas the skit silliness they did at SummerSlam and other pay-per-views are just corny and don't inspire buys.
3. Sin Cara vs. Alberto Del Rio. Cole said Raw is airing live in Japan on J-Sport for the first time. Del Rio performed his superkick on the kneeling Sin Cara for the win...
Alberto Del Rio pinned Sin Cara in 2:15.
[Q6] Afterward, Del Rio said he is going to eliminate Batista from the Royal Rumble and go on to win the match...
Powell's POV: Even Steven booking or the end of Sin Cara's mini-push (pun intended). Sin Cara got a couple of wins over Del Rio, only to have Del Rio get a decisive win here. Are they setting up Del Rio to be fodder for Batista on January 20 or in the Rumble or was that just random hype for Batista's return? Lots of questions, yet because they involve Del Rio it is hard for me to get overly excited about any of the answers. By the way, WWE is doing all of the little things with the ring announcer and referee attire to play up the Old School theme. I love the effort, but it's just not having the same effect on me this time around.
The announcers recapped the Jerry Lawler situation and noted that he did an interview for the WWE App and is hanging out backstage with all the legends. They also recapped the opening match involving Daniel Bryan with The Wyatt Family vs. The Uso Brothers and Rey Mysterio...
Backstage, Daniel Bryan told Luke Harper and Erick Rowan that he joined the family to learn and to be transformed from a man into a monster. He said that unlike them, he was a tag team champion. He asked them to let him contribute. He asked to team with them next week. Wyatt entered the picture and said Bryan will be teaming with him...
4. WWE Tag Team Champions Goldust and Cody Rhodes vs. The Real Americans (w/Zeb Colter) in a non-title match. Zeb carried a picket sign that read "The Best Defense is a Fence." Goldust performed a huracanrana off the ropes. They went to break at 3:50. [C]
[Q7] A clip of the Cesaro swing was shown from during the break and Cole pimped the app. Cody spent the next stretch of the match selling for Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger. Goldust eventually made the hot tag and put away Swagger using his finisher. Cody continued to sell the effects of the Patriot Lock after the match...
Cody Rhodes and Goldust defeated The Real Americans in a non-title match in 11:45.
Powell's POV: Another strong performance from the tag champs. I loved the way they built up to Cody making the hot tag only to have Cesaro cut it off with a big boot to the face of Goldust. Did you think you would be seeing Dustin Rhodes perform huracanranas and cross body blocks off the top rope at age 44?
Backstage, Dallas Page was stretching out when Booker T entered the room and greeted him. Page said he was doing DDP Yoga because you never know when they might need a legend. Booker asked if he was trying to sneak in a plug for DDP Yoga, which Page admitted he was. He also held up the packaging for his product and then continued to stretch out. Booker did "Booker T Yoga." Ron Simmons entered the room and gave the obligatory Damn!... [C]
The announcers recapped the finish of last week's Sandow vs. Khali match and ring entrances for the match took place. JBL stood up (complete with a Vince McMahon-like hairdo) and read the poll results. 55 percent of the fans voted for Sgt. Slaughter, 30 percent voted for Arn Anderson, and 15 percent voted for Bob Backlund. It sounded like the crowd groaned over the results. Maybe they were with the 30 percent that has good taste...
[Q8] 5. Great Khali (w/Ranjin Singh) vs. Damien Sandow with Sgt. Slaughter as special referee. Khali used a chop for the win. Khali had his foot on the bottom rope and complained about it after the match. He complained to Slaughter afterward and eventually took the Cobra Clutch. Khali and Ranjin got Sarge to dance with them after the match...
The Great Khali defeated Damien Sandow in 1:55.
Powell's POV: Yes, Dave Kapoor played Ranjin Singh again. It was an emotional moment that none of us will ever forget. I love Sarge, but Arn Anderson doesn't get nearly enough legend cred from WWE. Meanwhile, this means we're destined to suffer through another Khali vs. Sandow match. I feel for Damien. The guy deserves so much more after that awesome Money in the Bank cash-in match against John Cena.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their entrance. Heyman did not have the old school cellphone with him. Damn. Lesnar wore an "Eat, Sleep, Conquer, Repeat" t-shirt. Heyman said Lesnar takes issue with the way "old school" is used. He said Brock feels that old school is Bruno Sammartino or Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin reigning supreme and everyone in the locker room wanted a piece of them so they could be one man.
The fans cheered the mention of Austin. Heyman said they weren't seeking their approval for the names he was mentioning. Nice. Heyman said today one man reigns supreme and is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Heyman said whether the man after the Rumble is Orton or Cena, his time will be very limited because Brock will be going after that man.
Heyman said no man in WWE or MMA or professional sports who can compare to Lesnar's claim of being the man. He recalled Mark Henry coming after Lesnar last week and being pummeled. Heyman said Lesnar's life is like the slogan on his t-shirt. Mark Henry's music hit and he walked to the ring selling a rib injury. Henry went after Lesnar with a few shots.
[Q9] Brock put him in the Kimura lock and wrenched back on it. Henry sold it like his arm was broken. Lesnar ripped Henry's shirt off, and Henry was wearing bandages to sell his past beating. Cole said they have to assume that Henry's arm is broken. Lesnar and Heyman left the ring and started to head toward the back.
Big Show's music played. Lesnar rolled back into the ring and motioned for Show to join him. Show stood expressionless while looking at Lesnar. Show climbed over the top rope to go after Lesnar, who then fled to ringside with Heyman. Show looked intensely at Lesnar, while Heyman jawed at him that his client doesn't fight for free.
Heyman distracted Show while Lesnar tried to sneak attack him, but Show saw him coming and tossed Lesnar across the ring. Lesnar fled to ringside again. Heyman pleaded with him to listen to him and come with him backstage. Lesnar intensely stared at Show while backing up the ramp. The crowd sang the goodbye song to Brock...
Powell's POV: Another good, effective promo and tease for Lesnar going after the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Keep in mind that Elimination Chamber is in Lesnar's adopted hometown of Minneapolis. The angle with Show was really good. I love intense Show. It's sappy smiley or broke ass Show that gets annoying.This Show is money and a Brock vs. Show match would generate some casual fan buzz for sure. For that matter, it could also generate some steam for the Rumble match if they both enter.
A recap aired of the Orton, Flair, and Cena segment... Cole hyped Punk vs. Reigns for later in the show... [C] Cole hyped R-Truth and Xavier Woods vs. The Real Americans as the featured match on WWE Main Event... Cole recapped the previous segment and said Henry dislocated or fractured his elbow...
6. The Bella Twins vs. Alicia Fox and Aksana. Cole questioned whether Brie Bella could keep her mind on the match despite what's happening with Daniel Bryan. There was a brief "Let's Go Nikki" chant as she sold. Cole acknowledged Mae Young's "illness" and said they wish her the best.
[Q10] Late in the match, Brie went for a dropkick off the second rope, but Aksana avoided it and pinned her...
Alicia Fox and Aksana beat The Bella Twins in 3:40.
Cole hyped the big announcement for Wednesday night that will stream on the WWE website... A shot aired of Rikishi, Scotty Too Hotty, and Grandmaster Sexay backstage. Cole said they would be in action next... [C]
Powell's POV: Does two wins in two weeks count as a push for Aksana? I guess it does in the Divas division. By the way, we will have live coverage of the WWE announcement on Wednesday along with instant commentary.
A graphic noted that Bruno Sammartino held the title for over 11 years in just two reigns...
7. Rikishi, Scotty Too Hotty, and Grandmaster Sexay vs. 3MB. Heath Slater is back and spoke about it in a pop-box promo. Cole said it was the first time in over 13.5 years that Too Cool and Rikishi teamed on Raw. Rikishi wore pants and an Uso Brothers t-shirt rather than his old gear. Scotty did the Worm for a big pop. He took a great boot to the face from Drew McIntyre moments later. Rikishi took a hot tag from Scotty and got the better of all three 3MB members.
[Q11] Sexay performed the Hip Hop Drop, and Rikishi did the ass splash on Mahal for the win. All three men danced together afterward... [C]
Powell's POV: I was not a big fan of The Worm back in the day, yet I enjoyed the hell out of it here. Hell, I didn't even care for the entire Too Cool and Rikishi act back in the day, but it was fun to see them together tonight. No Stinkface? I'm not complaining.
Cole hyped The Uso Brothers vs. Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt for next week's Raw...
Justin Roberts invited the fans to give an old school welcome to the WWE legends. Godfather's music played and he led all of the legends out onto the stage. Roberts introduced them all by name. The crowd gave them all a good reaction. Flair received the loudest ovation.
Bad News Barrett's music hit. His podium was lifted up to the same area as last week. He banged the gavel and the crowd booed and/or groaned. Barrett said the legends took 25-year-old photos of themselves and signed autographs for the seven people who know them. He said they are doomed to anonymity. Barrett said he will take great pleasure in forgetting their names the second they leave, and said the WWE Universe will forget their names too...
Powell's POV: A fun moment with the legends, and another lousy moment with Bad News Barrett.
The announcers hyped the Royal Rumble and plugged the Orton vs. Cena match. They hyped Punk vs. Reigns for after the break... Another Batista video aired... [C]
Powell's POV: The Batista video packages and Royal Rumble commercials are excellent. I am surprised they don't have the wrestlers talking about Batista and teasing different scenarios for him. Del Rio mentioned him, but I'd like to hear more from Orton, The Authority, Cena, etc.
Cole hyped Randy Orton vs. Big E Langston in a champion vs. champion match for Friday's WWE Smackdown television show...
Powell's POV: Welcome to the wonderful world of being a secondary champion, Big E.
Mean Gene Okerlund was introduced. He walked onto the stage and said he had great stories he could tell, but you'd have to pick up the phone and call his 1-900 line. "And, kids, forget about it, you don't need your parents permission," he said. "Someone remembered. Very good." Very funny for old school fans who remember the sleazy WCW Hotline plugs.
[Q12] Okerlund introduced the New Age Outlaws. Road Dogg told Okerlund not to tell the story about them, the clown, and the farm animal. The Outlaws headed to the ring and Road Dogg delivered their intro. Billy delivered the "two words for you" routine. JBL noted that Billy was blown up. Dogg served as ring announcer for C.M. Punk. Punk wore a Ribera Steakhouse jacket from Japan. JBL mentioned again that they are on live in Japan. Punk jokingly told Billy to breathe...
8. C.M. Punk (w/Road Dogg, Billy Gunn) vs. Roman Reigns (w/Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose). Punk applied a side headlock and did a lot of talking to Reigns while he held onto it. Reigns broke free and knocked Punk down with a shoulder block. [C] An ad for Smackdown focussed on Daniel Bryan and The Wyatt Family. After the break, Reigns controlled the offense while Punk sold.
[Overrun] Reigns applied a bear hug in mid-ring, which Punk eventually broke out of with elbows to the head. Punk ran the ropes and took a Samoan Drop. Reigns went for a Superman punch, but Punk avoided it and caught Reigns with a kick to the back of the head. The pace picked up when Punk went on the offensive.
Punk caught Reigns with a running high knee in the corner. He followed up with a second and an elbow and got a two count. Punk went to the ropes and Reigns caught him. Reigns went for the superplex, but Punk fought him off with elbows and knocked him to the mat with a headbutt. Punk looked to the crowd and performed the Randy Savage top rope elbow drop.
Punk signaled for the GTS. Ambrose climbed onto the apron, but Road Dogg pulled him down. The Outlaws were roughed up by Ambrose and Rollins, but Punk performed a suicide dive onto them at ringside. Punk went back to the ring and took a Superman punch from Reigns for a two count.
Reigns went to the corner and set up for his spear finisher, but Punk leapfrogged him and rolled him up for a two count. Reigns got to his feet first, but Punk caught him with a kick and covered him for a near fall. Punk went for the GTS, but Reigns elbowed out of it. Punk blasted him with a knee in the corner and went for a bulldog, but Reigns pushed him off and Punk was momentarily distracted by Ambrose, who climbed onto the apron. Punk turned and ate a spear from Reigns, who then pinned him.
Roman Reigns pinned C.M. Punk in 16:30.
Jake Roberts music played and he headed to the ring with the familiar bag. Jake threw the bag inside the ring. Meanwhile, Punk and the Outlaws got beat up The Shield. Punk performed an airplane spin and then performed the GTS on Ambrose. The crowd chanted for a DDT. Jake pointed to the bag and dumped a white snake onto Ambrose, who noticeably smiled when Jake rubbed the snake on his face. Jake held up the snake for the crowd and the then stuck his tongue out and leg the snake lick his tongue before smiling at the camera to conclude the show...
Powell's POV: A nice surprise at the end with Jake Roberts. It distracted from Reigns' big win a little, but they can reemphasize that next week. One can only hope that Jake will get his Royal Rumble wish and a WWE Hall of Fame induction. I was wondering if we would see Hulk Hogan tonight, but I don't believe his name was ever mentioned (I was reminded that Paul Heyman mentioned him during his promo).
Overall, Old School Raw was missing something. I don't know if the crowd was poorly mic'd or if it was just a flat crowd, but it seemed like a flat atmosphere and most of the little things that WWE did to create the Old School vibe just didn't work as well for me this time around. It was nice to see the legends, but this did not feel like the hot start to the new year that I assumed it would be. In fact, last week's show with Lesnar's return and the big Daniel Bryan segment at the end was hotter. Speaking of Bryan, the followup left so much to be desired. We will be talking about that and much more on tonight's Prowrestling.net Live. Remember, your calls are welcome on the 90-minute free show. Find more details at the top of this page or on the main page.
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