2/24 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Hulk Hogan returns to WWE, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, WWE Network launch day, rumors of at least one other big return
By Jason Powell
Prowrestling.net Live airs Monday nights at 10:30 p.m. CT (11:30 p.m. ET) and your phone calls are welcome for the free weekly audio show. Join hosts Jason Powell and Chris Shore tonight after Raw at Blogtalkradio.com/prowrestlingdotnet.
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Green Bay, Wisconsin at Resch Center
[Q1] Michael Cole checked in and said they were live and on the road to WrestleMania... Hulk Hogan's entrance music played and the crowd popped big. Hogan walked onto the stage wearing black jeans, a red and yellow shirt, red and yellow boa, a bandana, and shades. Hogan posed and talked as he made his way to the ring. The broadcast team gave Hogan a standing ovation.
Powell's POV: Hogan looked physically better than he did during his TNA appearances. He's not tilted to one side and doesn't appear to be walking nearly as gingerly as he was.
Once in the ring, Hogan cupped his ear and played to the crowd, which was very responsive. Hogan said this marks the turning point of his career. "Because I am officially home, brother," Hogan said. He recalled being part of WrestleMania 30 years ago. He also said history is being made again with the launch of the WWE Network.
Powell's POV: The crowd didn't exactly pop for the WWE Network talk. Do they even have the internet in Wisconsin? Sorry, this Minnesotan couldn't resist after seeing the "worst state ever" Minnesota sign in the crowd.
Hogan played up some of the names that can be seen on the network, then said he is the official host for WrestleMania 30. "In closing, I only have one question to ask you, maniacs, whatcha gonna do when Hulk Hogan, the WWE Network, and WrestleMania 30 runs wild on you, brother?" The broadcast team put over Hogan's return as Hogan posed in the ring.
Cole hyped the "incredible value" of WWE Network and the pay-per-view aspect. Lawler was shown navigating the network on his tablet. He said he was going to try to watch WrestleMania while the show was taking place. JBl was on his laptop doing the same thing. He called it the greatest thing since the printing press. Hogan's music continued to blare as JBL pointed out many of his various matches...
Cole hyped the "rumors" of Brock Lesnar appearing, and hyped Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio in an Elimination Chamber rematch for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: We've all been surprised by how little they hyped the WWE Network before tonight. That won't be an issue going forward if the first ten minutes of the show are any indication. For those who didn't see the pre-show or follow along with my coverage, WWE also announced Sheamus vs. Christian for Raw.
A graphic boasted about WWE Raw being the number one show on cable last Monday... Ring entrances for the opening match took place...
[Q2] 1. Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio. Batista received a lot of boos during his entrance. Before the match, he stood on the second rope, posed, and said, "Boo this." The fans did and also chanted "you can't wrestle" and "Boo-tista" at him as the match got started. Del Rio ran Batista's bad shoulder in the ring steps heading into the break. [C]
Del Rio remained in control coming out of the break. Del Rio charged at Batista legs first and went flying through the ropes when Batista moved. Later, Del Rio threw a lousy kick to Batista's head that was so bad the announcers had to talk about how it just glanced Batista's head. Batista came back with a spinebuster.
Batista set up for his finisher when Randy Orton's music played and he walked onto the stage with two mics and a both belts. With Batista distracted, Del Rio rolled him up and pinned him...
Alberto Del Rio pinned Batista in 10:00.
After the match, Orton mockingly apologized for distracting him. He spoke about how Del Rio pinning him was funny, then said it was also funny that the fans don't like him very much. "As a matter of fact, I wouldn't doubt if even you're sorry that you came back," Orton said. Batista surveyed the crowd, which delivered a "C.M. Punk" chant.
Batista told Orton that he couldn't be more wrong and that everyone need to get something through their head. "I love this business," Batista said. The fans booed. He said he loves that the fans have a voice. He said if they cheer him, he cheers back, and if they boo him he boos them back. "It's called being real," Batista said.
Batista said the only thing that matters is that he goes to WrestleMania and beats someone he used to call his friend but has "turned into a whiney, sniveling, kiss-ass, suck-up." Batista said Orton was looking at the next champion and told him (and the fans?) to "deal with it"...
A split screen shot aired of Zeb Colter and The Real Americans on one said, and Big E on the other. Cole said it would be Big E vs. Cesaro after the break...
Powell's POV: It was interesting to hear the announcers and then Orton acknowledge the fans booing. It had to happen. They couldn't keep pretending like it wasn't happening. I guess they think they can take the John Cena approach to this and it will all be okay. Good luck with that. I'm sure it will work on the house shows, but most Raw events and certainly pay-per-views are going to be a different story. It's a shame that they forced him into the main event. I really believe Batista would be getting cheered if they hadn't shoved him down the throats of viewers. It's an even bigger shame that they haven't turned him heel...yet.
[Q3] [C] Ring introductions took place for the next match and Cole hyped the NXT live show for Thursday night...
2. Big E vs. Cesaro (w/Zeb Colter, Jack Swagger) in a non-title match. A loud "We The People" chant broke out and faded quickly. Cole said the E in Big E stands for Ettore (Ewen), and the color commentators came up with other names his real first name sounds like. Cesaro was in control of a slow paced match heading into the break. [C]
[Q4] At 12:30, Cesaro applied a sleeper, but E rolled over to shake him free, then caught him with a belly-to-belly suplex. E followed up with a big splash for a two count. E took down the straps on his singlet and went for his finisher, but Cesaro avoided it and came back with the big uppercut for a two count. Cesaro motioned for the Swing and the crowd came to life, but E avoided it and there were some boos.
E came right back with a wicked one-armed slam. Another "We The People" chant started. E avoided Swagger interference at ringside, but then took the Cesaro Swing once he was back inside the ring. The fans counted along. Swagger entered the ring and applied the Patriot Lock for the DQ. Cesaro wasn't happy. E went after Swagger, but Cesaro ended up hitting The Neutralizer on E after the match...
Big E beat Cesaro by DQ in a non-title match in 15:45.
Still shots of The Wyatt Family costing John Cena the Elimination Chamber match were shown. Cole said the question now is why Cena was singled out. He said Cena was up after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: E looked a little shaken up afterward. He released his arm during The Neutralizer and took the bump on his shoulder. As for the match, it was an example of good regional booking by WWE to have Cesaro stop the Cesaro Swing at ten, clearly knowing that the bulk of the Wisconsin fans can't count any higher without taking their shoes off. Unfortunately, the stipulation of the match was not that the winner would get the other part of his name back. The Real Americans tension points to Swagger staying heel and Cesaro turning babyface. There's still part of me that would like to see them stay together and be portrayed as an ass kicking tag team minus the Real Americans gimmick for the next year.
A shot aired of Lambeau Field, which is across the street from the Resch Center...
Powell's POV: Best stadium in football. No joke coming. If you're a football fan then going there should be on your bucket list regardless of which team you cheer for.
John Cena made his entrance. He said he wanted to say something for the kid and the fan in himself. Cena said it was spectacular that Hulk Hogan was back in WWE and hosting WrestleMania. Cena said Raw 1,083 is the episode when the world changed because the WWE Network is online "which means our future is now."
[Q5] Cena recalled the message he's been sending to younger wrestlers about going through him to prove they can be the future and carry WWE. Cena said there are mixed reactions to that. He said the underlying theme is respect. "The future of this business will run through me," Cena said. "When you talk bold like that you make yourself a big ol' target. Enter Bray Wyatt."
Cena said Wyatt has caused a stir in WWE and he knew sooner or later he would come face to face with the family. He said he didn't think it would be at the Elimination Chamber because they were supposed to be locked inside the chamber. He said Wyatt cost him a match at WrestleMania and that was a bold move. He asked if Wyatt is a one trick pony or if he wanted to make another bold move now.
The Wyatt Family sounder played and the lights went out. Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan were shown backstage. "Green Bay," Wyatt said. "We're here." He blew the real lantern light out and headed to the ring (then with the electrical lantern). Wyatt took a seat on his rocking chair at ringside and blew out the electrical lantern (work with me) and the lights turned on.
Wyatt cut a promo from the chair. He said the world has an infection and the virus is the human race. He stood up and asked what would the world be without its hero or its knight in shining armor. He said people like Cena are hollow and are full of empty promises. Wyatt said Cena promises to keep the people safe and everything will be okay as long as he's around.
"Liar," Wyatt said. "You're a liar." He said it's a terrible world and Cena stands for illusions while he stands for everything that is real. Wyatt recalled Cena saying the future goes through him. "I couldn't agree more," Wyatt said. "Allow me to properly introduce myself," he said. "We are the reapers that bring death to this era of lies."
Cena said his own name and promised that if any of them stepped under the ropes they were starting something they may not be able to finish. Wyatt looked intensely at Cena as his men surrounded the ring. The Wyatt Family entered the ring and Cena tried to fight them off, but he was quickly outnumbered.
Wyatt pulled Harper and Rowan back and squatted down as Cena hobbled on one foot and a trainer walked over to check on him. Wyatt held out his arms in a crucifix pose. On one leg, Cena dove at the Wyatts. They put the boots to him and he once again backed into the corner and came up holding his knee. Cena waved off and looked down to the trainer, the hobbled forward toward Rowan, who dropped off the apron. Wyatt immediately threw his body at Cena. Wyatt knelt down and performed the crucifix pose over Cena...
Powell's POV: Cena appeared to be legitimately injured. I watched the attack a couple times and I'm not sure how it happened. Rowan took him down a bit awkwardly, perhaps in a manner that would hyperextend the knee, but it didn't seem to be anything that would do real damage. Either it was a world class sell job, a flukey injury, or something I just didn't spot. On a more positive note, Wyatt shook up his promo style a bit by using a different type of voice than we've heard before. I prefer the other voice, but this one could grow on me. Either way, he's a hell of a promo.
After the break, the announcers talked over footage of Cena being stretchered to the back. They mentioned the possibility of the injury being a hyperextension as well. JBL said this wasn't good for Cena's career...
Powell's POV: JBL and Lawler talking about how the injury wasn't good for Cena's career was awkward enough that it made me open the door more toward it being a work. If Cena was selling than he deserves credit for doing a hell of a job. If not, then Wyatt deserves credit for being quick on his feet and calling off his men to give Cena a break while staying true to his character.
[Q6] 3. Sheamus vs. Christian. Sheamus backdropped Christian to the floor and then caught him with a shoulder block off the ring apron heading into the break. Meanwhile, the announcers humored themselves by talking about Christian's tan and JBL said he hoped it didn't come from Hogan's Beach. They also called JBL on changing his tune regarding Christian eliminating Sheamus. [C]
The crowd, which had been pretty quiet during the match, amused themselves briefly with a "Go Pack Go" chant for the football team. Cole said Cena was being evaluated backstage and he had a lot of swelling on his knee. Later, Christian missed a cross body block and then Sheamus powered him into the corner and hit a running high knee.
[Q7] Sheamus went on the offensive and ended up applying the (Texas) Cloverleaf, but Christian reached the ropes to break the hold. Christian, who was bleeding from the mouth, traded near falls with Sheamus. Christian hit his fulcrum kick, but then leapt off the second rope and into the Brogue Kick, which resulted in Sheamus going over...
Sheamus beat Christian in 15:30.
Powell's POV: The finish was great and got a big reaction, but the fans were quiet for the bulk of the match. I don't think the fans have been given enough of a reason to pick a side. Shades of gray nonsense? Hopefully they are still telling a story that will lead to Christian being a full fledge heel.
Footage aired of The Authority arriving at the building earlier. They were greeted by Renee Young, who asked about the WWE Network. Hunter said there hasn't been a moment this monumental since the first WrestleMania. Steph said she was at the first WrestleMania and kept talking until she was interrupted by a yelling Daniel Bryan.
A fired up Bryan was held back by one guy in a suit. Bryan asked what Hunter's problem was with him. He said he's been screwed every time he's fought for the title since SummerSlam. He asked if he had to fight Hunter at WrestleMania to prove it. Hunter asked if he had delusions of grandeur and said he was going to try to find a spot on the card. Stephanie booked Bryan in a match against Kane. Hunter and Steph walked away together and Hunter mocked the idea of facing Bryan at WrestleMania... [C]
Powell's POV: It looks like Hunter vs. Bryan is still on the table for WrestleMania 30. We were the first to report that match was in the cards on the night that C.M. Punk went home, but I wasn't sure whether it would stick once they had creative meetings in which everything was reportedly up for consideration. I've mentioned the idea of having a stipulation match where Bryan gets a title shot if he wins and then cashes in on the winner of Orton vs. Batista. Either way, Bryan vs. Hunter actually makes more sense to me than Punk vs. Hunter did because there's roughly eight months of issues between Hunter and Bryan.
A graphic hyped the WWE Network's free trial... The announcers set up the final Black History Month video package of 2014. Rocky Johnson and Tony Atlas were featured in the video...
Backstage, Dean Ambrose told Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns that he was tired of explaining himself. He said if they didn't believe him (about disappearing during the six-man tag match) that he was out there. Ambrose walked off and then the Wyatt Family showed up. Reigns challenged Wyatt to a singles match and said he would leave the hounds behind if Wyatt left his family behind. Wyatt referred to him as "an interesting creature" and accepted the challenge...
Powell's POV: That should be a very interesting match in terms of how they book it. Neither guy should take a clean loss. I assume that someone gets involved despite the tease that it will be one-on-one.
The pre-show panel of Josh Mathews, Ric Flair, Booker T, and Alex Riley checked in and talked about the upcoming matches. Flair started a Yes! chant... Daniel Bryan made his entrance and the Yes! chants grew louder.
[Q8] Bryan led more Yes! chants while standing on the ropes as Cole hyped his match against Kane for after the break... [C] Kane made his entrance...
4. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane. Cole laid it on thick while talking about how Bryan finally gets a match against Kane without outside interference. JBL reminded him that they fought last week and mocked Cole's defense that it came after Bryan worked another match. Bryan was still selling the heavily wrapped shoulder. Cole later vented about how Triple H should have no issues facing Bryan in a match if he doesn't think he's a top notch player. JBL defended The Authority.
Bryan controlled the early offense and worked over Kane's knee with a half-crab. Kane reached the ropes to break the hold. "I have until five, ref," Bryan said in a mellow throwback version of his old ROH line. Kane came back by running Bryan's bad shoulder into the ring steps. [C]
[Q9] Kane was on the offensive after the break, but Bryan performed his suicide dive as part of his comeback. Bryan came up selling the shoulder, which was unwrapped during the match. Back inside the ring, Bryan connected with a missile dropkick. He kipped up and then blasted Kane with a kick to the head for a two count.
Bryan went to the top rope and went for a headbutt, but Kane caught him by the throat. Kane stood up and chokeslammed Bryan, but Bryan kicked out at two. The fans came to life with Yes! chants as Kane acted shocked and questioned the referee's count. JBL continued to play the anti-Bryan role while Cole and Lawler stood up for him. Kane went for another chokeslam, but Bryan avoided it and went for an arm lock, but Kane pushed him off. Moments later, Bryan caught Kane with the running knee for the win...
Daniel Bryan beat Kane in 15:40.
Bryan took the mic and said he confronted The Authority earlier in the day and he wanted to make one thing clear. "Triple H is a coward," he yelled twice. Bryan said he challenged Hunter to a match at WrestleMania, but he hid behind his wife's skirt. Bryan said ever since Hunter put on the suit he has ignored what the fans want. Bryan said Triple H should give the fans what they want, which is Triple H vs. Bryan at WrestleMania 30. Lawler encouraged fans to do a #Yes if they agree with Bryan...
Cole said Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns is official for later in the show. Lawler said it was also confirmed that Brock Lesnar was in the building. He said the question is why... Backstage, Fandango and Summer Rae danced. Cole hyped Summer in action for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: It's odd to hear Cole suddenly become the biggest Daniel Bryan backer when there was a time that he was more anti-Bryan than the JBL and Triple H characters combined. I am a a little concerned that the announcers cheerleading for Bryan could be a bit counterproductive because it's been such an organic rise for Bryan and Cole isn't exactly the most popular broadcast team member, but I suspect it will be okay. You have to appreciate the booking when it comes to having Bryan make it seem like this is the match he covets most and the announcers trying to make it seem like a fan movement can make it happen. I don't think it will make anyone accept Batista vs. Orton, but they may pacify the Bryan fans about his WrestleMania placement to some extent.
The announcers hyped the return of Batista for Friday's Smackdown... An Alexander Rusev and Lana vignette aired...
[Q10] 5. Emma (w/Santina Marella) vs. Summer Rae (w/Fandango). Emma did an intentionally awkward entrance. Cole fake laughed and said she's clumsy sometimes. Emma ended up applying the Emma Lock for the win. After the match, Emma dove onto Santino and they tumbled to the mat. Lawler said that was her clumsiness again. Cole said fans could tune into the NXT show on Thursday to see what a great athlete she is...
Emma beat Summer Rae in 3:30.
A collection of Hulk Hogan returning to WWE media stories were shown. Footage was shown of Hogan returning earlier in the show and announcing he's the host for WrestleMania 30... An ad for Smackdown questioned who won the Elimination Chamber match. Yes, really... [C]
Powell's POV: The crowd didn't give a damn about the match until Emma applied her finishing hold and then they came to life a bit. I did get a kick out of Cole telling people to watch NXT to see what a great athlete she is when she just had a match on Raw.
6. The New Age Outlaws vs. The Uso Brothers in a non-title match. The bell rang and Road Dogg asked the Uso's what the rush was since everyone knew how the match would end. He called them young boys and told them to go to ringside so they could do their intro. The Uso's complied, but then tagged Dogg with a superkick when he finished. Moments later, one of the Uso's hit a top rope splash for the win...
The Uso Brothers defeated The New Age Outlaws in a non-title match in 1:10.
Powell's POV: Were the fans booing or chanting the Uso name when Dogg was hit with the kick? Either way, the entrance routine was longer than the match and I'm not complaining.
[Q11] The announcers spoke about the tag title match and then spoke about the WWE Network and show it on Lawler's tablet, then JBL's laptop... Roman Reigns made his entrance through the crowd for his match against Bray Wyatt... [C]
7. Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt. Wyatt scored the early offensive control until Reigns knocked him down with a shoulder block. Wyatt regained control and performed a short-arm clothesline. The crowd was quiet enough that a handful of fans chanting for Austin Aries was easily heard. Reigns regained control and clotheslined Wyatt on the floor heading into the break.
[Q12] [C] The crowd remained disengaged and delivered Randy Savage and Undertaker chants as the match continued. At 11:35, Reigns delivered a leaping clothesline that woke up the crowd a little. He clotheslined Wyatt in the corner and threw punches until the ref stopped him, then went outside the ring and took another shot at Wyatt from the floor.
At 12:20, Reigns signalled for his finisher. The Wyatt Family sounder occurred and the lights went out. When they came back on, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan were at ringside, but Seth Rollins appeared and performed a flip over the top rope and onto both Wyatt Family members on the floor. Wyatt rolled up Reigns, but only got a two count.
Harper and Rowan set up for a double team move on Rollins, but Dean Ambrose ran in and broke it up. Reigns hit Wyatt with the Superman punch, which got a big reaction. He knocked Harper off the ring apron. With Wyatt down, Ambrose hit the ring and started throwing punches at Wyatt for the DQ. The two teams battled while the announcers pointed out that Amborse cost Reigns the match...
Bray Wyatt defeated Roman Reigns by DQ in 13:50.
Powell's POV: Was there miscommunication between the producers? I can't believe they gave us a finish that was so similar to the Cesaro vs. Big E match from earlier where Jack Swagger interfered and cost Cesaro the match. Reigns and Wyatt really died with the crowd until late in the match. While the Elimination Chamber crowd was red hot with a mixed reaction for the six-man match, the Raw crowd just wasn't into the singles match for whatever reason.
Backstage, Paul Heyman told Brock Lesnar the key is that they act like gentlemen. He asked Lesnar not to tear anything or anybody up. Lesnar smiled and calmly walked with Heyman... [C]
Aaron Paul of "Breaking Bad" fame is hosting next week, bitch! He's promoting the movie "Need for Speed"...
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their entrance. They headed to the ring where a table was set up. Heyman introduced himself and said he is the advocate for the obvious No. 1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Heyman said it's a history making night for WWE due to the WWE Network, but Lesnar is not in a good mood.
[Overrun] Heyman said it's woefully apparent that Randy Orton and Batista should get their title match out of the way and the winner should face Lesnar at WrestleMania. Heyman said he took that to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon and they took it to another level. Heyman said Triple H gave Lesnar an open contract to face anyone at WrestleMania.
Heyman said that's how Triple H and Stephanie get people. He said they will give you anything you want except for the thing you want most (cough, CM Punk, cough). Heyman ran through Lesnar's accomplishments and said that as far as the open contract goes, "no thank you." Heyman said Lesnar doesn't have to pick his opponent. He said they will give him history to conquer or speak the name Brock Lesnar and WrestleMania no more.
Undertaker's music hit and the crowd popped big. Taker made his entrance wearing a hooded black outfit. Lesnar held his hands over his mouth and then his chin before dropping them. Lesnar wiped his face a bit as Taker entered and they glared at one another. Taker walked around the table and looked away, then glared at Lesnar and approached him for a face-to-face staredown.
An Undertaker chant broke out as they exchanged an intense stare. Taker looked up at the WrestleMania 30 sign, then looked back at Lesnar, who nodded his head in approval. Lesnar pointed to the open contract and spoke off-mic. Heyman grabbed the contract, which Lesnar signed. Brock took the pen and slapped it on Taker's chest.
Taker slowly took the pen away. Heyman told Taker that the contract has been signed and if Taker wanted to do the same he could have the match against Lesnar. Brock slammed his hand on the contract, then Taker slammed the pen onto his hand. Taker grabbed Lesnar by the throat and chokeslammed him through the table. Taker looked at the WrestleMania sign as the fans chanted his name and then "holy shit." Taker's music played as he posed with his tongue out and then looked down at the fallen Lesnar.
Powell's POV: A good show closing angle that helped tie up the loose end of Lesnar claiming to be No. 1 contender coming out of the Royal Rumble and then disappearing. More importantly, Taker came off great and Lesnar can certainly bounce back and look like a badass despite taking the beating here. Overall, this was not the ridiculously hot show that I expected it to be, but it was still a strong show that helped set the stage for WrestleMania 30. I'm looking forward to discussing it with Chris Shore in a matter of minutes on Prowrestling.net Live at Blogtalkradio.com/prowrestlingdotnet.
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