2/10 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton vs. John Cena in a non-title match, Mark Henry returns, Betty White guest hosts, Elimination Chamber build continues
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Los Angeles, California at Staples Center
[Q1] A tribute graphic was shown for late WWE staffer Frank Bullock opened the show... Justin Roberts introduced guest host Betty White, who was escorted onto the stage by Big Show. She thanked the crowd and said she couldn't possibly say how how pleased she was to be a guest host. Show asked what she's going to do. "I'm going to kick some ass," she replied.
Triple H's music played and then he and Stephanie McMahon walked onto the stage clapping for White. Steph hugged White while Hunter mockingly smiled at Big Show. The Authority headed to the ring while White and Show went backstage. Michael Cole checked in on commentary and said there were 17,491 fans in attendance at the sold out show. JBL and Jerry Lawler also checked in on commentary.
Hunter said he wanted to clarify some confusion from last week. He recalled saying that if Daniel Bryan could defeat Randy Orton last week, they would reconsider him as the face of WWE. He said the key word was reconsider. He said they were also reconsidering Bryan, Sheamus, Christian, Antonio Cesaro, "and we're even reconsidering John Cena."
Powell's POV: Does anyone really care who The Authority thinks the face of the company is from a storyline standpoint?
Randy Orton's music played and he headed to the ring as Cole hyped Orton's match against John Cena for later in the show. Stephanie "highly advised" Orton to go backstage to prepare for his match. Orton said he's been doing some thinking and he decided he needs to apologize to The Authority for his actions. He said he's been childish, selfish, and foolish.
Orton said he needs to bring The Viper for the rest of his championship reign starting with his match against Cena. Stephanie questioned how they could trust him and asked where it's all coming from. Orton said it's coming from the heart. A loud Daniel Bryan chant started. Stephanie asked if Orton is feeling the pressure of Daniel Bryan. Orton denied that.
Orton said it started six months ago when he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase in Staples Center and united with The Authority. A C.M. Punk chant started briefly. He said he wants to make good on a promise by being the face of WWE in the ring and out of the ring by appearing on talk shows, billboards, and cereal boxes.
Daniel Bryan's music played and he headed to the ring wearing a goat t-shirt with his name on it. Cole spoke about how the "Yes Movement" is growing. Bryan said Orton thinks he's the heart and soul of WWE, but he thinks Orton "is a different body part entirely." No laughs.
Stephanie scolded Bryan and Orton for interrupting and said they make an appointment with Kane. Bryan said Kane is nowhere to be found unless he is doing their bidding. Bryan said he was going over Kane's head to ask for a match against Kane on Raw. Steph said Bryan attacked Kane first and they didn't approve, so he was on leave and it would be held against him in his performance appraisal file.
Bryan asked who was doing their performance appraisal because it was a combination of arrogance and stupidity. Orton stood up for The Authority and told Bryan he should kiss the ground they walk on. Bryan insinuated that Orton is romantically interested in Stephanie.
Hunter interrupted and announced Bryan would face no one. He said that in Bryan's agitated state, the best thing for him was a night off. Bryan shook his head and the crowd chanted no, then Bryan helped lead the chant. Bryan told Hunter off-mic that the fans want to see him wrestle...
The broadcast team hyped Mark Henry's return, Orton vs. Cena, and Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes, and Goldust vs. The Wyatt Family...
Powell's POV: The segment was effective in making the crowd want to see Bryan tonight. Beyond that, it felt like a repeat with Orton apologizing to The Authority, who did their usual tiresome routine.
[Q2] [C] A graphic put over John Cena's Facebook popularity...
1. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan vs. Goldust, Cody Rhodes, and Rey Mysterio. Highlights aired from Smackdown of Wyatt beating Goldust in a singles match. Cody wore a knee brace and Cole said it was due to a knee injury he suffered while performing the moonsault off the top of the cage last week. The babyface trio had the upper hand headed into the break. [C]
The Wyatt Family had the advantage coming out of the break. Goldust tagged in Mysterio, who performed a series of crowd pleasing offense, including a 619 on Harper.
[Q3] However, Wyatt avoided a double 619 and pulled Mysterio to the floor. Cody leapt off the top rope onto Wyatt at ringside. Rowan whipped Cody into the barricade, then Goldust took him out. Mysterio set up for 619 on Harper, but Wyatt tagged himself in and performed Sister Abigail on Mysterio for the win...
After the match, Wyatt sat in his chair at ringside and cut a promo about "tiny little toy soldiers fighting a war that's not meant for you." He said they will fall just in time for his next game to begin... [C]
The Wyatt Family defeated Goldust, Cody Rhodes, and Rey Mysterio in 10:30.
Powell's POV: Mysterio really got the crowd going with his offensive run. It's nice to see him moving around better. It was also nice to see Goldust and Cody working with someone other than the New Age Outlaws again. It was logical for the Wyatt Family to go over since they are facing The Shield in one of the two pay-per-view matches that are currently advertised.
The broadcast team hyped being in L.A. and then set up a video package that recapped Roman Reigns' success in the Royal Rumble match...
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed The Shield. Reigns was smiling confidently after watching the video package. Young asked about the Wyatt Family match. Reigns said actions speak louder than words, and then Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose checked in. Young asked Ambrose why he hasn't defended the U.S. Title in some time. He made excuses about paperwork. Reigns asked him what kind of champion he wanted to be. Ambrose said he will prove it by issuing an open challenge tonight...
Powell's POV: The big push for Reigns is underway. They didn't really follow up in a meaningful way last week, but the highlight video and the way he called out Ambrose was a pretty big step. I'm not sure if he will be the guy who challenges for the U.S. Title, but I assume he will be going after it at some point.
Backstage, White hung out with Vickie Guerrero and the Divas. The New Age Outlaws showed up and said there were rumors that the younger generation wanted to play a trick on her, but they would protect her. The Outlaws invited her to have a cup of tea and she walked off with them...
[Q4] Lawler hyped Christian and Sheamus vs. The Real Americans for later in the show... Santino Marella and Emma headed to the ring for a Santino match... [C]
Powell's POV: Please tell me they didn't call up Emma to be Santino's sidekick. One can only hope that it's more about starting a singles feud with Summer Rae than an odd pairing for mixed tag matches.
2. Fandango (w/Summer Rae) vs. Santino Marella (w/Emma). Cole hyped Emma's NXT background and said the NXT show will be available on the WWE Network every week. The Miz walked out to the broadcast table and vented about "twinkle toes and a guy's whose act is older than Betty White." He mockingly said "this is awesome" before dropping the headset and going backstage. In the ring, Fandango performed the top rope leg drop for the win...
Fandango beat Santino Marella in 2:20.
Powell's POV: A 140-second match with two women at ringside and Miz interrupting commentary. Another forgettable week for Emma, and it has to be hard for fans who are not familiar with NXT to get excited about seeing the show when they've done so little to promote the brand and its talent on regular WWE television...
Cole turned it over to "the newest member of the WWE broadcast team" Byron Saxton, who interviewed Sheamus. He spoke about teaming with Christian on Raw, and then how he's not taking the Elimination Chamber lightly because it's the last chance to earn a spot in the WrestleMania main event... [C]
Powell's POV: I hope there's a development with Sheamus soon. They brought him back in ho-hum fashion and nothing about his character has changed. I really enjoy his in-ring work, but he needs to freshen up the act or at least get a program he can sink his teeth into.
Christian, who had some bruising around the eye, stood in the ring as a pre-taped promo aired. He said maybe he could be the face of WWE. Then he said he might not be poster boy material even though his mom thinks so. He said he's a two-time former World Champion and he wants to make it three.
Sheamus and then The Real Americans made their entrances. Colter spoke as he walked to the ring and vented about non-Americans Sheamus and Christian making him sick. He said they disappeared for months and then found a way to sneak back across the borders and are rewarded for it by being given a chance to win the title at Elimination Chamber.
[Q5] Cesaro said he will become the first Real American to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Colter led the crowd in the We The People line...
3. Christian and Sheamus vs. Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter). There was a loud "We The People" chant from the adult males in the crowd as the match started. Cesaro knocked Sheamus to the floor heading into the commercial break. [C]
Cesaro hit the big uppercut on Christian for a two count. Later, Cesaro performed the Cesaro Swing on Christian. The crowd came to life and counted along with the revolutions.
[Q6] Late in the match, Sheamus blasted Swagger with the Brogue Kick for the win...
Sheamus and Jack Swagger defeated The Real Americans in 14:30.
Powell's POV: Good match. As much as I get a kick out of Zeb Colter's act, it feels like Cesaro and Swagger would be better off without him. Zeb is a comedic heel and the Real Americans gimmick brands them as a a comedic mid-card act at best. They have some really good matches that would mean a lot more if they were cast differently. Perhaps Colter's act could change. Of course, it probably doesn't matter since Cesaro seems to be on the verge of becoming a singles attraction and there's no telling whether he will remain aligned with Colter and Swagger.
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed John Cena, who was booed loudly by the fans. Cena hyped the launch of the WWE Network and said it will change television. He said you can't deny the support that the fans have given Daniel Bryan and other young stars. Cena said his match with Orton "is about our future." He said he will close his rivalry with Orton and make a statement by beating him in front of the sold out crowd. He said his statement goes to The Wyatts, The Shield, Antonio Cesaro, and Daniel Bryan. "If any of you think you have what it takes to carry the future of WWE, know that you will have to go through me to get it"... [C]
Powell's POV: I'm not sure how Cena's rivalry with Orton ends tonight when they will also meet in the Elimination Chamber. Sure, they could do an old guard vs. young stars program which would have them aligned, but seeing is believing on that one. Even so, I liked the promo a lot because Cena (and thus WWE) is acknowledging the big reactions that the younger stars are getting. It sets him up nicely with fresh opponents in what could be positioned as meaningful matches with him as the man the young stars have to beat to prove they are truly elite.
Highlights aired of Betty White opening the show... The broadcast team set up a 30 second fury video on Batista...
4. Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler. Del Rio threw a good kick to Ziggler's side. Dolph came back with a dropkick and then dropped nine elbows followed by the heart-stopper tenth. JBL asked King how his heart was doing. Ziggler performed the Fameasser and got a two count. Del Rio came back with an arm-breaker and a superkick for the win...
Alberto Del Rio defeated Dolph Ziggler in 1:35.
After the match, Del Rio applied the Cross Arm Breaker until Batista's music hit. Batista came out and speared Del Rio, then followed him to ringside and ran him into the ring steps.
[Q7] Batista took the announce table apart and used the Batista Bomb to drive Del Rio through the table...
Powell's POV: Del Rio seems to be upping the intensity lately and it's working for me. Unfortunately, it comes at the wrong time, as he's clearly the fall guy for Batista. They still haven't announced a pay-per-view match between the two, but I assume it's coming. I'm sure they will make some attempt to put heat on Del Rio next week, but everyone will view that match as a squash rather than a showdown after the dominance here.
A video for WWE Network aired with an airlines theme. They had a "captain" narrator who introduced The Bella Twins, who played flight attendants while explaining some of the devices that can be used for the network... The announcers hyped the network at ringside. Cole said viewers could sign up for a one-week trial... The announcers hyped the announcement of the next WWE Hall of Famer...
Powell's POV: The network commercial theme was too cute, but it did get across some of the platforms it's available on. I have a feeling that anyone who doesn't own one of the gaming devices they showed is scratching their head and questioning how they can watch the network. I also suspect cable and satellite companies will continue to get phone calls from fans who want to order the network, but doesn't exactly comprehend the over the top approach. WWE has a lot of work to do.
A graphic boasted that WWE has 260,000,000 social media followers...
Batista was shown walking backstage when Triple H approached him. Hunter said it was great to have Batista back, but he can't have him going off on Del Rio like he did. Batista said he deserved it. Hunter said he did but they need him to keep it in the ring because things have changed and it's a publicly traded company.
Hunter told Batista that he's trying to fit him into what's best for business. Batista said Del Rio is his business. Hunter said fair enough and then offered Batista a match against Del Rio at Elimination Chamber. Hunter said he's just looking out for Batista, who said, "I guess things really have changed around here"...
Powell's POV: It's good to see them create some tension between Batista and Hunter. Okay, so maybe it would be better if Batista were turning heel and aligned with Hunter, but they have to create that tension if Batista is going to have any chance to get over as a babyface.
A video introduced Lita (a/k/a Amy Dumas) as the newest member of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014...
Powell's POV: Cool. How many people thought back in the day that Lita would beat The Hardy Boys into the WWE Hall of Fame? She feels too young for a Hall of Fame at age 38, but she hasn't worked full-time for WWE since 2007.
Backstage, The New Age Outlaws had tea with Betty White. Road Dogg said it was his own special blend. Billy distracted her with a tag title belt, while Dogg put something in her tea. She asked for a lemon and they both got up to get her one, so White changed glasses and the Outlaws drank up... Cole hyped Mark Henry's return...
[Q8] [C] 5. The Uso Brothers vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback. The New Age Outlaws sat in on commentary. Cole said the Uso's have been asking for a tag title shot and questioned why the Outlaws have not responded. Road Dogg said they used to beat up their father and questioned what makes them worthy.
Gunn played up having an upset stomach after drinking the tea. Late in the match, Jey Uso made the tag while diving over the top rope onto Ryback. Jimmy Uso hit a top rope splash on Axel and scored the pin..
The Uso Brothers defeated Curtis Axel and Ryback.
After the match, the Outlaws stood up and walked toward the ring, but then Gunn started playing up the upset stomach again and ran backstage... Cole hyped the Ambrose vs. an open challenger for the U.S. Title after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: It looks like they are setting up the Outlaws vs. The Uso Brothers for the pay-per-view. It's hard to take it seriously when there is more focus on Gunn having the shits than there is on the match.
[Q9] 6. Dean Ambrose (w/Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins) vs. Mark Henry for the U.S. Title. Henry wore a brace and a wrap on his left arm to sell the Brock Lesnar attack. Ambrose targeted it early, but Henry managed to toss him to the floor heading into the break. [C]
Ambrose continued to work the arm after the break. Henry came back and hit the World's Strongest Slam. Henry covered Ambrose, but Rollins ran in and broke it up for the DQ. Henry worked over The Shield members afterward until Reigns put him down with a spear...
Mark Henry defeated Dean Ambrose by DQ in 8:05.
The Shield members started to leave through the crowd, but The Wyatt Family video aired and they made their entrance. The Shield remained on the other side of the barrier and stared down The Wyatt Family, which stopped at the entrance area. Reigns was the first to stop over the barrier and then Rollins and Ambrose followed.
The Shield headed to one side of the ring and stood on the floor, then the Wyatt Family did the same on the other side. Reigns stood on the apron and was joined by his stablemates. Wyatt stood on the apron and his family members followed. The announcers questioned who would blink first.
Reigns entered the ring. Wyatt smiled and started to enter the ring, but then backed through the ropes. Wyatt smiled as he, Rowan, and Harper dropped to the floor just as Ambrose and Rollins joined Reigns inside the ring. Wyatt stood with his arms in the crucifix pose...
Powell's POV: A good confrontation. The live crowd wanted to see it and cheered each move toward it happening. The crowd wasn't as hot as I expected them to be, but they did want to see the collision and there were boos when it didn't happen.
[Q10] Footage aired of Orton attacking John Cena's father in a recent angle on Raw as the announcers hyped the main event... [C] An ad for Smackdown questioned which Elimination Chamber participant would be next to challenge Orton...
Powell's POV: I assume it will be Cesaro challenging Orton on Smackdown since they may want to save Sheamus vs. Orton for Raw. I guess it just depends on what they have in mind for both matches.
Wiz Khalifa was shown in the crowd... A Black History Month video spotlighted Bobo Brazil...
6. Cameron and The Bella Twins (w/Eva Marie) vs. A.J. Lee, Alicia Fox (w/Tamina), Alicia Fox, and Aksana. Cole acknowledged the injury suffered by Naomi per the knee from Aksana last week. The Bellas had a clumsy spot where Brie attempted to springboard off of Nikki onto Aksana in the corner.
Brie came up short when she landed on Aksana and came up holding her nose or mouth. She continued to show discomfort even after tagging out. Cameron performed a DDT on Aksana for the win...
Cameron and The Bella Twins beat A.J. Lee, Alicia Fox, and Aksana in 4:40.
Powell's POV: I watched the botched Bella spot back and it was totally on Nikki, who simply tripped over her sister's back when she went to plant her foot. She crashed and burned pretty good and her face appeared to hit Aksana's arm upon further review. Another ugly Divas match. Meanwhile, the NXT women continue to impress in the ring.
Footage aired from a Be A Star rally. Stephanie McMahon and The Bella Twins were shown hanging out with the kids at an elementary school... A comparison graphic that listed the accomplishments of Randy Orton and John Cena was shown... [C]
[Q11] [C] A graphic noted that John Cena granted his 400th Make A Wish on Monday... A brief pre-tape focussed on Alexander Rusev and his handler Lana. Cole said he can't wait to see him in action, so it looks like they are going to pretend like the Royal Rumble never happened... Footage aired of Randy Orton apologizing to Triple H in the opening segment...
Kane headed to the ring and said he was placed on one week administrative league. He said he acted on his own and The Authority had nothing to do with it. He said he was actually warned. Daniel Bryan interrupted him and ran to the ring and fought Kane. Bryan got the better of it with punches, kicks, and knees, but then Kane shoved him down and caught him with an uppercut.
Kane went for a chokeslam, but Bryan avoided it. Kane charged at Bryan, who avoided him and held down the top rope, causing Kane to tumble to the floor. Bryan performed a suicide dive onto Kane and eventually knocked him into the first row. Kane fled through the crowd while Bryan led the Yes! chants...
Powell's POV: It's hard to get excited about a Bryan vs. Kane feud considering where most fans feel Bryan should be right now. They have history together, but it doesn't seem like they want to bring it up because most of it was so comedic and doesn't mesh with what either man is doing now. Somewhere Dr. Shelby is questioning his self worth.
Cole hyped The Uso Brothers, Cody Rhodes, and Goldust vs. The New Age Outlaws, Ryback, and Curtis Axel in an eight-man tag match, and Randy Orton vs. Antonio Cesaro in a non-title match...
Backstage, Betty White said she hasn't been around this many shirtless men in tiny trunks since last night. "And now let's get to the main event," she concluded... John Cena made his entrance. Randy Orton made his entrance with both title belts in hand. Cole reminded viewers that Orton was running the gauntlet of his Elimination Chamber foes...
[Q12] 7. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton vs. John Cena in a non-title match. Cena got the better of Orton early on, so Orton took a powder. Later, Orton worked over Cena at ringside and dropped him on the barricade. The crowd was pretty quiet initially and then an audible boring chant started at 5:30, but it was quickly muted when Orton posed and the crowd booed him heading into the break. [C]
After the break, Cena started a comeback, but Orton ducked his shoulder block and Cena tumbled to the floor. Orton once again played the crowd for heat. Orton suplexed Cena back inside the ring. Cena came back with an Attitude Adjustment attempt, but Orton slipped out and DDT'd Cena. Orton flashed a sinister smile to the crowd and then covered Cena, but he kicked out. Orton's facials were strong until he flashed a look of over the top shock at Cena kicking out.
[Overrun] Cena made his comeback and performed the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He went for the Attitude Adjustment, but Orton avoided it and turned it into the sidewinder backbreaker for another two count. A short time later, Orton power slammed Cena for another two count.
At 16:00, Orton performed the hanging DDT on Cena from the top rope rather than the middle rope. Orton jawed at the crowd again to draw heat. Orton struck the Viper's Pose and went for the RKO, but Cena avoided it and applied the STF. Orton reached the ropes to break the hold.
Orton pointed to the WrestleMania 30 sign at 18:00. He backed into the corner and went for the punt kick, but Cena avoided it. Orton came right back with the RKO for a good near fall. Cena came back and hit the Attitude Adjustment, but Orton kicked out.
At 20:20, Cena went for a second rope AA, but Orton avoided that. Cena kicked him and then performed a leg drop on the back of Orton's neck. Cena followed up with the Attitude Adjustment and got the clean pin. Cena celebrated his win to close the show...
John Cena defeated Randy Orton in a non-title match in 20:40.
Powell's POV: I wasn't sure how the live crowd was going to react to this match considering how the Royal Rumble crowd attacked it. The fans were very quiet early on until Orton played to them for heat, but they were into the late near falls and popped for the finish. It was a well worked main event, but it really did feel like it was something we've seen too many times. It also makes Orton look even worse heading into the Elimination Chamber. At this point, it feels like it's too late to make him look strong heading into WrestleMania 30, so perhaps making him look vulnerable is the way to go. We got a sense of where they are going with some of the Elimination Chamber undercard, but this show was closer to last week's filler show than some of the hot shows we saw before that.
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