Joseph Hegarty: Monday Night Raw 25/11/13
This week’s episode of Monday Night Raw followed hot (well maybe tepid) on the heels of the Survivor Series pay-per-view, consequently the show started with WWE Champion Randy Orton making his way to the ring as the announcers explain the previous night’s events where Orton successfully defended his title versus the Big Show. Randy gets himself a microphone and claims he’s owed an apology from everyone who doubted he wouldn’t still be WWE Champion after Survivor Series, before then introducing The Authority. Once Triple H and Stephanie McMahon joined Orton in the ring, The Chief Operating Officer congratulated the champion on his successful title defence, while Stephanie declared that she was glad that she and Triple H had motivated him to be successful. Orton is incredulous that she is taking credit for his work, claiming he didn’t need their help defending his championship. While this is happening, the disinterested live crowd in Long Island, New York, chant for former WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, as those in the ring try to ignore them. After snapping and telling the fans to “Shut up!” Orton declares that he is the greatest star in the fifty year history of the WWE and guaranteed that nobody can take that away from him, cue World Heavyweight Champion John Cena.
The World Heavyweight Champion made his way to the ring and facetiously introduced himself to long-time rival Randy Orton. In response to Orton’s claims of slaying the giant at Survivor Series, Cena commented that Orton only looked like a giant piece of… and Stephanie McMahon cut him off. The World Heavyweight Champion then blames “Administrative BS” for the fans chanting for Daniel Bryan, of course he doesn’t include himself in this. In order to cut through this administrative BS, Cena declares that there should only be one World Champion and challenges Orton for his WWE Championship. Stephanie declares that they have been talking about this possibility for a while, which angers Orton, and then Triple H makes it official by booking a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match for the next pay-per-view where both titles will be hung above the ring. I find this an interesting proposition, which genuinely excites me, even if the match will almost certainly end in both champions grabbing a title each, quite possibly swapping championships to bring the WWE Championship back to John Cena.
The second focus point of this week’s Monday Night four column saw an instalment of Miz TV, with this week’s guest being retired American footballer and morning television host Michael Strahan. Although in the first and certainly not the last failed joke of this segment, it was Titus O’Neil and not Strahan who entered after Miz’s introduction. O’Neil had a blacked out tooth to resemble Strahan’s gap toothed appearance. Being unfamiliar with daytime American television, much of the supposed entertainment in this segment went over my head but I very much doubt even the fully initiated would hold a different opinion. This was a truly terrible segment. Regular readers will remember my chastising of last week’s Divas’ musical chair segment for its banality and how unnecessary it felt due to it not delivering in either the entertainment stakes or the progression of narrative, however this segment was much much worse. Yes the musical chairs segment felt like a complete waste of time but this Miz TV segment actually felt harmful to the product. There is a place in professional wrestling for blurring of the lines of reality, of course its what has made so much of CM Punk’s work in his WWE career so captivating, but this segment was neither the time nor the place. If I wasn’t mistaken, at one point it even seemed that Miz spouted the H word, labelling himself as a heel after getting some cheap heat on a local sports team.
After some back and forth between The Miz and Titus O’Neil, where the former WWE Champion felt confused if he was a babyface or not after last week’s heel turn and O’Neil put himself over in the guise of Michael Strahan, we were finally joined by the man himself. Strahan describes Miz’s joke as weak, which sounded perhaps like his catchphrase to this ignoramus, and then continued to perform what seemed to be his schtick. He then announced tonight’s main event as Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio vs John Cena and The Big Show, which we’ll get to later. The Miz then seemed to challenge Strahan, but rather than a fight it turned out this was a challenge to take a hip-toss. Now this didn’t necessarily in itself break kayfabe, but it certainly blurred lines and not in a good way, especially due to Strahan no-selling the hip toss attempt. Whatever, they were trying to do it just didn’t work. The segment then ended with Strahan hip-tossing Miz, then performing the “Millions of Dollars” dance with Titus O’Neil before hip-tossing him too. Afterwards, the Miz and Titus O’Neil then raise Strahan’s hand, further adding confusion to the segment.
Our third Monday Night Four focus point began with Renee Young standing in the ring introducing CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. The team of Punk and Bryan perform a question and answer session with Punk asking questions like “Did we defeat the Wyatt Family last night?”, with Bryan answer “YES!”. Punk then added comedy by asking questions that couldn’t be answered with a yes or no answer. After this, Punk cut a passionate promo, name-checking former pro-wrestling tag teams as well as Colt Cabana and Marty Derosa. Bryan then asked Punk what time it was, to which Punk replied “Clobberin’ time!” and then we were joined by the Wyatt Family; Bray, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. After a commercial break, the match began with Punk and Rowan in the ring. Rowan used his power while Punk fought back with kicks and tagged Bryan into the match, being greeted by a huge elbow from Rowan. Harper tagged into the match for the first time and was joined by Punk, who sold Harper’s strength by being unable to perform a snapmare on the bigman. The narrative of the match was extended with Bryan tagging in, taking Harper off his feet for the first time with a dragon screw by the technically sound former WWE Champion. However, when he tries to repeat the feat with European uppercuts but Harper hit back harder sending Bryan to the mat himself.
The Wyatts continue to dominate Daniel Bryan until he dodges a big boot from Erick Rowan, and got the tag from CM Punk, who came in with a springboard clothesline. However, once again Punk couldn’t take down the bigger man, trying with multiple clotheslines but eventually he managed it with a calf kick. Punk then shined with his signature offence, hitting a high knee, suicide dive, spinning neckbreaker and a diving elbow drop for a nearfall. The heels then got their dominance back with Rowan impressively throwing Punk from the ring as Raw went to a commercial break. On the return, Bray Wyatt is in the middle of one of his rare in-ring performances, with a flurry of heavy punches in the corner. Luke Harper tags back in and locks his ‘gator roll submission hold, followed by Rowan tagging back in and locking in his own submission hold with a wild bearhug. However, Punk manages to hit a high roundhouse kick and roll his way to the corner and bring in Bryan for the hot tag, dropkicking Bray Wyatt off the apron. Rowan reverses Bryan’s Irish whip attempt but undeterred he sees an opportunity and launches himself with a suicide dive through the ropes taking out Bray once more. Coming back into the ring Bryan hotshotted Harper off the top rope then came off the top rope with a front missile dropkick. Bryan then went at it with his kicks until Harper reversed them into a powerbomb attempt that Bryan countered himself into a hurricanrana, before locking in the YES! Lock. Erick Rowan then hit the ring to break up the submission hold and make the save. The ring then filled up as all five men went at it, leading to the referee to lose control of the match and call for the bell. Afterwards, the Wyatt Family benefitted from their numbers advantage and destroyed both their opponents before picking up Daniel Bryan and taking him with them as they left, much as they did to Kane at Summerslam. As Punk tried to follow he was hit with a momentous Spear from Roman Reigns out of nowhere. Reigns was then joined by his fellow Shield mentors, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, who took Punk into the ring to hit the triple powerbomb to finish the segment. This was our LockUP Match of the Night and was followed by interesting narrative developments, which made for the most entertaining segment of the night.
Finally, we come this week’s main event, which pitted John Cena and The Big Show vs Alberto Del Rio and Randy Orton. Del Rio and Big Show began the match, with the World’s Largest Athlete hitting heavy chops on the former World Heavyweight Champion, before Orton tagged in to receive the same treatment. Meanwhile, JBL and Jerry Lawler talk about the undisputed WWE Championship on commentary before Michael Cole has obviously had a word from Vince McMahon or Triple H in his ear as he quickly reminds us that it’s the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Championship that are on the line at the TLC pay-per-view. Returning from a commercial break, Cena is in the ring being dominated by Del Rio, there’s a glimmer of hope for Cena with an Attitude Adjustment attempt but ADR struggled out and hit a DDT. Cena then dodged an attack from Del Rio, sending him flying to the outside. This let’s Cena get the tag from Big Show who plants the Mexican with a big back body drop. However, Del Rio delivered a low dropkick followed up by a superkick to floor the Giant. Randy Orton then held Big Show in place for another superkick, which Big Show sold with concussion like symptoms stemming from the punt kick that he took from Orton last night. Show continues to sell the injury, looking to tag in the wrong corner, which led to the doctor coming in to check on him. After Big Show shrugged off the doctor, Orton hit a big DDT on him. He then follows up with a punt attempt, which is met by a spear from Big Show that allowed him to get a hot tag from John Cena. The World Heavyweight Champion goes through his comeback routine, but when it comes to his Five Knuckle Shuffle, Alberto Del Rio kicks him in the head then delivers a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. This sets up Del Rio for his Cross Armbreaker, but Cena counters into a STF, which forces his opponent to tap out. Afterwards, while Cena checks on Big Show’s condition the man he just submitted isn’t finished and attacks him from behind. Once again he goes for the Cross Armbreaker but Cena counters with an Attitude Adjustment, only to eat a heavy shot with the WWE Championship from Orton. Raw then went off the air as Orton picked up Cena’s World Heavyweight Championship and held both title belts aloft.
The rest of this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw consisted of the following: The Rhodes brothers and Rey Mysterio were defeated by The Shield in a brief but very entertaining match that gets my pick as the runner up for this week’s LockUP Raw Match of the Night despite its brevity due to both its quality and a lack of competition otherwise on the card. Mark Henry and Big E Langston made short work of Ryback and Curtis Axel before the Divas took centre stage with a rematch of the previous night’s traditionally Survivor Series elimination match, with the Total Divas team once again going over. I was hoping that Natalya would continue to receive positive momentum in order to set her up for a first ever (I believe) Divas Championship ladder match at the TLC pay-per-view between herself and AJ Lee, but Nattie was eliminated and the survivors were the Bella Twins and Eva Marie. Damien Sandow and Dolph Ziggler were booked in another stipulation match voted for on the WWE App, with Damien Sandow this time coming out on top in a Hampton Hardcore match, which he won after driving Ziggler onto a trash can with his “You’re Welcome” full-nelson slam. The card was filled out by short singles matches with The Miz and Xavier Woods going over Kofi Kingston and Heath Slater respectively. However, until next week Raw fans, I hope you enjoyed this week’s column. Make sure you come back to this blog and tell me what you think by commenting below or tweeting me @HelloHegarty, I would love to hear you opinions on the column and Raw in general.