The nostalgia is in the air for Raw and I’m truly excited. It’s “old school” time, as WWE goes back in time. The question is, how far? I hope it is like last time and we see the true red, white, and blue ropes, vintage small set, and many surprises & flashbacks.
We also look to the future, as WrestleMania XXIX is on the horizon. With the main events absolutely confirmed now, how will the combatants of The Rock and John Cena, as well as Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger, antagonize each other? Will some undercard bouts be filled tonight too? (I hope so). And, who will be the next inductee into the Hall-Of-Fame?
All this and much more. So read on, to be welcomed to …. Monday Night Raw!
Monday Night Raw Report for March 4th, 2013 – “Old School”
Introduction Segment: Welcoming
Ah yes, the clock is completely turned back. Right away, the old WWF (minus the “F”) logo appears on screen, then the arena is shown, with a mixed set between early and late nineties (The “Raw” letters are underneath the one, big Titantron and side structures). The ring is decked out in the classic red, white, and blue too. Ringside has just a black gate barricade.
The lights go out and the famous gong is heard! Amid smoke and flames appears The Undertaker! The Phenom approaches the entrance way and raises his arms.
Now, Mene Gene Okerlund’s voice is overheard as he talks about tonight’s “Old-School Raw,” citing the number of former superstars that may appear. The old Raw video (mixed with past and present superstars) plays, then the “popcorn” pyro blasts above the ring. Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler welcome us at ringside, sitting at the bare announce table, much like the mid 90s.
Segment #1: Arena Promo
“The Straight-Edge Superstar” C.M. Punk walks out. He says that he should be the one facing The Rock at WrestleMania XXIX for the WWE Championship. He should be in the main-event. However he is not, because as he claims, the fans stole that from him. So, instead, he is going to steal something from them.
Punk tells the fans they like numbers, so he is going to give them one – 20 and 1. C.M. declares that he will face and defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Punk talks about streaks, between ‘Takers 20 – 0 WrestleMania streak and Punk’s 434-day reign as WWE Champion. He says that “1″ in Undertaker’s stats will be “straight-edge.”
The bout is not made official though, as three other wrestlers claim that they want to do the same. Randy Orton wants another shot, saying that he has grown up since 2005, when he last met “The Deadman” at the “show of shows.” The Big Show makes his claim, saying that he now has the “knockout” to do so. Sheamus now enters the festivities, truthfully saying he is new blood, and has never taken on ‘Taker before, so “The Phenom” has no idea what he’s about.
To settle all this, Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero walks out and declares a (predictable) Fatal-4-Way between the wrestlers in the ring. The winner will have a chance to break The Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania XXIX and etch his “legacy.”
Also tonight, John Cena will come face-to-face with WWE Champion The Rock for the first time since last year’s WrestleMania XXVIII. And, Triple H will address Brock Lesnar later.
Up next, Ryback is in action!
Match #1: Single – United States Champion Antonio Cesaro VS. Ryback (Non-Title)
As Cesaro made his entrance, a side video airs of him making fun of Ryback’s lack of speaking, while he himself can talk in five different languages. Antonio tries to get an advantage quick with a couple dropkicks and an uppercut, but Ryback blocks and corners the U.S. Champ. He picks him up and turns him around into a over-shoulder-powerslam. Ryback brings Cesaro back in the ring with a walking-stalling suplex and covers for a near-fall!
Cesaro counters with a headbutt, then punches away in the corner. He uses the top rope as a jawbreaker, but gets Military-Pressed as he tried a top-rope manoeuvre. Outside, Antonio runs Ryback into the post and the barricade, but Ryback manages to roll back before the count-out.
Back live, Cesaro has Ryback clutched in a rear chinlock, but the big man battles out. He counters a run with a high back body drop and spinebuster, then gears up for the “Meathook” clothesline, but gets a stiff uppercut instead! Cesaro puts him in position for “The Neutralizer,” but Ryback manages to reverse into the “Shell-Shock” marching Samoan Drop for the victory!
Winner via Pinfall: Ryback
As he is walking to the back, Ryback is confronted by “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry. They stare each other down, as Henry walks right by him.
Match #2: Single – “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry VS. “Long Island Iced-Z” Zack Ryder
(I think you can guess how this goes!). Ryder puts up a decent fight, but quickly falls to a harsh clothesline and “The World’s Strongest Slam” by Henry for the 1 – 2 – 3!
Winner via Pinfall: “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry
Match #3: Single – “Mr. Money In The Bank/The Showoff” Dolph Ziggler (with A.J. and Big E. Langston) VS. “The Awesome One” The Miz (with Ric Flair)
They lock up and break away to begin the bout. Dolph knees Miz in the gut then punches him in the lip. He hammers away in the corner and delivers a harsh chop, then mocks Ric’s strut. This allowed Miz to fire back with a fierce hand and two kicks of his own, then he and Flair strut and have some fun for a quick break.
Back live, Dolph is dominating again, dropping Miz with a neckbreaker. He grips on a grounding rear chinlock, “showing off” with a headstand. The two trade blows back and forth, then Miz slides through on apron into a sunset flip cover for two! Miz hits the back and neckbreaker combo for another close call, then Ziggler counters with a small package for two! Dolph jumps and brings Miz down with a DDT, receiving another two count!
He leaps on the back and begins to wear Miz down with the sleeper. Miz flip him over and throws him up in the air with a flapjack drop. He runs at Dolph in the corner with a clothesline, then dives off the top-rope with a double-axe-handle! A.J. climbs in the ring, which distracts the referee enough so Big E. can knock Miz down.
Flair intervenes and chops away at Langston, but to no effect on the big man. However, Miz slides out with a dropkick, taking out Ziggler’s bodyguard.
Dolph rolls-up Miz from behind, but Miz still kicks out! He catches a jumping Dolph and locks him in the Figure-4 submission for the inevitable tap-out!
Winner via Submission: The Miz (with Ric Flair)
Up next, they’re coming out early as WWE Champion The Rock will meet John Cena! (I truly thought, and think, this was to be/should be the last segment!)
Segment #2: Arena Promo
WWE Champion The Rock makes his way to the ring first with a huge ovation. He takes the microphone and goes through his usual routine of “finally….!” He quickly mentions how long we are away from WrestleMania (34 days) and then John Cena’s music hits. He appears at the entrance way, looks at the camera, and says “this should be good.”
Cena says he had to come out right now, because he has been waiting for this moment for (almost) a year. Cena lists The Rock’s accomplishments, then informs him that he doesn’t know what it’s like to tell the world “you have to do something” and then fail. Cena says that he told everyone he had to win their match last year, then he failed.
“It makes you feel worthless.” John says that he could not get over that and he collapsed both professionally and personally. However, he also credits The Rock for his turn-around. Cena declares that it wasn’t just a coincidence that he won the Royal Rumble the same night The Rock won the WWE Championship, and that after The Rock booked his spot at WrestleMania, Cena beats C.M Punk a week letter with it all on the line.
Cena says that he has been “gifted” to rewrite history and right the biggest wrong. He came out to give The Rock a 34-day heads up that he is not throwing this chance away.
The Rock is actually happy to see this Cena. He is happy to see that “fire” again in Cena. He only wanted to face him at WrestleMania, because he knew what it meant to Cena. The Rock says that the only thing they share is the absolute desire to succeed and they are the only two in the locker room with that passion.
It matters to The Rock, because just like Cena, he connects with every fan in the arena or at home. In 34 days, according to The Rock, Cena is not getting redemption, but instead getting an ass-kicking.
Cena retorts and quotes legendary boxer Mike Tyson. Cena says that he had the greatest quote in sports history, “in order to be the greatest that ever lived, you have to beat everyone living.” Cena says that he has accomplished every goal and jumped every single road block in his career, except for you. “At WrestleMania XXIX, you’re time is up, and my time is now.”
The Rock disagrees. He says that his time is just getting started, and quotes another famous athlete. “Winning is about heart, you just got to have it in the right place.” The Rock says that was from (shamed) man Lance Armstrong, who was “full of crap and so are you.” Cena laughs, and says that in 34 days, “at WrestleMania XXIX, I will become the WWE Champion.”
The Rock tells Cena that he just “crystallized” everything that The Rock and John Cena are all about. “You think you can beat me, I know I can beat you. And at WrestleMania XXIX, in front of the world, I will beat you – again.”
The two rivals glare each other with the WrestleMania prominently in the background.
Match #4: Single – “The Real American” Jack Swagger (with Zeb Colter) VS. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (with “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes” and “The American Hero” Sergeant Slaughter)
Loud “U.S.A.” chants as the Hall-Of-Famer gears up They circle around the ring and Jack hops out, grabbing the 2 x 4. He stalls for a few seconds, then clubs away on all three Hall-Of-Famers. He points to the WrestleMania XXIX sign and locks on the “Patriot Lock” Ankle Lock.
Winner: No Contest due to No Official Start
Segment #4: Backstage Promo
Josh Matthews attempts to interview Jack Swagger on his actions just now, but his opponent for WrestleMania XXIX, the World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio, attacks from behind. They engage in a brawl that is broken up by security.
Match #5: Tag-Team – Tag-Team Champions “Team Hell-No” (Kane and Daniel Bryan) VS. “The Primetime Players” (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil) (with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase) (Non-Title)
Kane and Young start out, with Kane shoving Darren into the ropes and knocking him down with a shoulder-block. He tags in Bryan, who flies off the top-rope with a double-axe-handle. Daniel hits a high-dropkick for a two-count, and then has to fend off both “Primetime Players,” until finally getting clotheslined by “The Big Deal” Titus O’Neil.
Titus switches again with Darren, who is suplexed onto Bryan. O’Neil back in and clamps on a grounding rear-chinlock. Titus corners Bryan, but misses a running tackle. Daniel crawls to Kane, who comes in and dominates over Young.
He clotheslines Darren twice in the corners and then drops him with a sidewalk slam. Bryan nails running knees off the apron, and in the ring, Kane finishes this contest with a Chokeslam on Young!
Winners via Pinfall: Tag-Team Champions “Team Hell-No” (Kane and Daniel Bryan)
Post-match, “The Million Dollar Man” declines “The Primetime Players’” offer, shoving a $100 bill in Young’s mouth, then walks out with the victors. Bryan goes back and steals Darren’s money, stuffing it down the front of his trunks.
Up next, we see the back of another legend, The Honky-Tonk Man! He’s back to “shake, rattle, and roll” as Michael Cole says!
Match #6: Tag-Team – “3.M.B.” (Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater) (with Jinder Mahal) VS. Tensai and “The Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay” (with “The Funkettes,” Naomi and Cameron)
Prior to the contest, Heath orders Honky Tonk out of the ring. This is a short one, as Tensai rolls up McIntyre following a missed splash for the 1 – 2 – 3!
Winners via Pinfall: Tensai and “The Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay” (with “The Funkettes,” Naomi and Cameron)
Post-match, The Honky Tonk man dances to his theme with the winners, and also smashes his six-string over the head of Heath. (Lawler had a great line – “he doesn’t have an enemy in the world, he’s out-lived them all!”)
Up next, Fandango will make his debut against Kofi Kingston. (Meh.)
Match #7: Single – Kofi Kingston VS. Fandango (with Dancer)
Fandango declines to wrestle, since announcer Justin Roberts did not say his name correctly. (This was stupid).
Winner: No Contest via Forfeit
Segment #5: Arena Promo
After recap highlights of the fight between Brock Lesnar and Triple H last week, “The Game” is back and enters the arena. Triple H recalls that the last time he was in the ring with a microphone was eight days after SummerSlam, eight days after Brock Lesnar broke his arm for the second time in two months.
Then, he tried to convince himself and us that it was over. However, even though he did leave and did his day job as the C.O.O. of the WWE, he also trained harder than he had before and he is in the best shape in a long while.
He cites motivation from seeing Mr. Vince McMahon, his father-in-law, in the hospital following hip surgery. He saw his entire family beside Vince’s bed, crying. However, when “The Game” saw McMahon stand up and fight against Paul Heyman and Lesnar, that was all he needed. “The ass-kicker” is back, and as he looked at the WrestleMania sign, Triple H challenged Brock – “are you gonna show up and fight, or are you just gonna sit there and bleed?”
Segment #6: Video Promo
“The Shield,” Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns, discuss the events of last Friday’s Smackdown and the Fatal-4-Way for later tonight. “Nobody can trust us. Believe that. Believe in ‘The Shield.’”
Match #8: Champion VS. Champion single – Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett VS. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez) (Non-Title)
They circle around each other, and Barrett takes control with a big boot-to-the-gut. He hammers away in the corner, but Del Rio reverses and ties Wade up in the ropes. He delivers harsh fists to Barrett’s kidneys, then we see Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter walk to the entrance way.
Barrett slams Del Rio down with “The Winds Of Change” spinning slam for a two-count. Alberto fights out of a grounding rear-chinlock, and later manages to lock in the Cross Armbreaker on the ropes! He has to release before five, and does. Barrett gives Alberto knees against his head on the ring apron, then rolls him in for a near-fall!
Barrett misses a diving elbow and eats a boot-to-the-face,. Alberto is fired up with clotheslines and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker! He gears up and hits Wade in the head with a stiff mini-superkick! 1 – 2 – Barrett kicks out!
Barrett counters a run and boots him in the face again. He sets up for the pump handle, but Del Rio reverses that and another “Winds Of Change” into the Cross Armbreaker for the tap-out victory!
Winner via Pinfall: World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez)
Post-match, Colter and Swagger stare down their opponent for WrestleMania.
Segment #7: Video Promo
Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter produce another video, talking about “Political Correctedness.” They rant about speaking about what you believe in, and what the Four Fathers believed in.
Match #9: Tag-Team – Primo and Epico (with Rosa Mendes) VS. “The New Age Outlaws” (“Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Badd Ass” Billy Gunn)
According to the fans, “you still got it,” and they truly do, as The Outlaws go through their usual routine, both on the microphone and in the ring. Road Dogg hits the “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” kneedrop, for a two-count, but is quickly taken down with a dropkick. Epico and Primo work him over in the corner, including a springboard somersault plancha.
Jesse finally makes a tag and Billy comes in, taking out both members, and planting Primo with a tilt-a-whirl slam and the Fameasser for the 1 – 2 – 3!
Winners via Pinfall: “The New Age Outlaws” (“Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Badd Ass” Billy Gunn)
Segment #8: Arena Promo
Many cakes and cupcakes are spread out on a table, surrounding by Superstars. “Mean” Gene Okerlund is brought out to introduce and celebrate Mae Young, because it is her 90th Birthday! Mae is guided by the Divas, as everyone sings “Happy Birthday.”
Unfortunately, they don’t get all the way through, as C.M. Punk’s music plays and he just bursts his way through, leading to….
Match #10: Fatal-4-Way For The Right To Face The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXIX – C.M. Punk VS. The Big Show VS. “The Viper” Randy Orton VS. Sheamus
Big Show is standing alone in the ring, waiting for one of the other three to try their hand first. Show takes out Punk and Sheamus, but Orton puts up a small fight. Show takes it to the outside, picking up Randy on his shoulder. Orton drops out and shoves Show into the ring post.
Sheamus is now squaring off against “The Viper,” but is brought down with a backbreaker. Punk slides in to try and get the quick win, but Sheamus kicks out. Punk slides back out and lets Randy and Sheamus continue to wrestle. Sheamus hits the “Irish Curse” backbreaker, and Punk tries to steal it again, but Orton kicks out and Sheamus manages to drag Punk back in the ring this time.
Punk and Orton are going at it, with Randy firing up with a couple clotheslines and a powerslam. He even drives him down with a t-bone-like suplex for a two-count. Punk counters the slingshot DDT, but turns around into a springboard shoulder-tackle by Sheamus! He is now tied up against the ropes and clobbered (thanks Lawler!) by Sheamus, but Show comes in and delivers the “Final Cut” to Sheamus. 1 – 2 – Punk breaks it up.
Quickly, Show knocks out C.M. Punk with the punch, and Heyman pulls him out. Sheamus battles Show now, nailing him with a running, flying headbutt! Big comes back soon with a headbutt of his own, then ascends the ropes like Vader/the late, great Yokozuna.
He misses the drop-down slash, which allows Sheamus to muster up his strength and drop plant show with the “White Noise” drop! 1 – 2 – Big Show gets his shoulder up! Sheamus is gearing up for the Brogue Kick, but as he runs, Orton catches him in a powerslam.
Show rises again, and hits a pair of Chokeslams on both Orton and Sheamus, but Sheamus kicks out of his cover! He signals for another Knockout Punch, as Sheamus uses the ropes to aide him up. Show misses the Punch, Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick, then turns around into an R.K.O. However, Orton gets kicked from behind and knocked unconscious with the “Go-To-Sleep” by C.M. Punk, who covers and receives the victory!
Winner and Facing The Undertaker At WrestleMania XXIX: C.M. Punk
Post-match, as C.M. Punk basks in his huge win, his new opponent returns. The Undertaker walks back to the entrance way and the two intensely gaze at each other to close the show.
End Of Raw.
Reporter’s Rumblings – By Moe Tapp
Another great show two weeks in a row, and it was awesome, just awesome, to see the old Titantron set again. In my wishes, this is the one that would be used EVERY week, along with the red, white, and blue ropes for all the Pay-Per-Views. They can keep the current setup for every normal Raw and Smackdown, but breaking this arena out more frequently for PPVs and special Raws/SD’s would be very cool. On to my finer points…
Excellence: The fluidity. Once again, I thought Raw was smooth from start to finish. As Jimmy Korderas, former WWF/WWE referee and now analysist on “The Score” here up in Canada said about last week’s Raw, tonight kicked off with a bang and ended with one – only tonight finished with the exact same people as it began. While it was very predictable/inevitable that C.M. Punk would be the winner to take on The Undertaker, I did like how they had some of “The Deadman’s” former opponents want to take another crack at defeating his “streak” and plead their case. The main event was set up nicely.
While Ryback/Cesaro was a throw-away, and in turn bad for the United States Championship, I like the pending feud between Ryback and Mark Henry. That could be a very solid match come Wrestlmania XXIX, and I think it will help either Ryback or Henry propel back to main-event status, as they are both over as face and heel, respectively.
Absolutely LOVED the promo between WWE Champion The Rock and John Cena. this is the seriousness and passion I want to see every week from them leading up to their monumental rematch at W.M. XXIX. No child-ish acts, just desire and fire. I kind of wish that WrestleMania was THIS Sunday, as that was the best way to leave off between them, in my opinion. Same with Triple H’s challenge/intense promo for Brock Lesnar. That is “The Game” I want to see!
Jack Swagger/Zeb Colter can do NO wrong right now and are playing this gimmick very smartly, and choosing their words carefully to speak “truth,” but not overly offend anyone that is actually “smart” to the product. (Like they said in their videos last week, depicting the difference between reality and fiction – that was also well done – kudos!)
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio continues to rise in popularity AND wrestle some GREAT matches. Tonight’s with Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett was another beauty!
Also enjoyed “The Shield’s” video. Wouldn’t be something to have them cost The Undertaker his streak at WrestleMania? Truthfully, I can see both sides and not sure how I would feel.
The use of Raw’s Legends was well done. I thought it was appropriate (Mae Young’s Birthday Celebration) they didn’t take away from the main stories or “over shine,” (Ric Flair/Hacksaw/Slaughter/Dusty Rhodes) and they fit in nicely, with some just their for flashback reasons and fun. (Honky Tonk/”Million Dollar Man”/”New Age Outlaws”). I do think they should’ve had a Women’s Legends match, with either Trish Stratus (hello, Hall Of Fame!), or Lita. Otherwise, I was pleased with the appearances.
Bogus: Fandango. I think he is going to be a character that is “one-off” and they will quickly realize it will be a dumb gimmick. Dolph Ziggler and The Miz – while I loved their match tonight, I’m really afraid they’re getting stuck mid-card for WrestleMania and losing steam after so much build-up prior to 2013. These two should NOT be taking backseats and someone has to figure out how to use them properly, fast!
All in all, Raw tonight was a great edition, and it is starting to definitely feel like WrestleMania season. Everyone is turning it up and here’s hoping that can continue. Until next week, as always, Be Excellent Wrestling-Online Readers and Wrestling Fans!