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TV REPORTS
KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT 1/15: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live show

Jan 15, 2007 - 10:22:00 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor

WWE RAW REPORT
JANUARY 15, 2007
BOSSIER CITY, LA.
LIVE ON USA NETWORK


-A clip aired of Martin Luther King, as WWE does every year on this day. If only their show the other 51 weeks of the year showed class and dignity toward minorities and stereotypes of all types, it'd mean more.

-John Cena's ring intro took place as Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introducing the show. The ring was already occupied by Coach, Armando Estrada, and Umaga. Coach announced that Cena would defend his title against Umaga again at Royal Rumble. He said he was letting Estrada add a stip that would prevent Cena from scoring another "fluke win." Estrada announced a Last Man Standing match. Cena looked almost despondent, as if he was considering just handing the title over to Umaga since it was a foregone conclusion he'd lose. Estrada signed the contract on the table in mid-ring. Coach asked Cena to sign it. Cena looked over the contract, then looked up and said, "You actually think I'm crazy enough to sign this?" The crowd cheered and then chanted his name. He said the fans know him all too well. He said he is indeed crazy enough to sign it. He signed the contract and then handed it to Coach. Then he said he is full of surprises. He jumped Umaga, and then rammed the heavy steel top step into Umaga's head. He chased down Estrada and threw him into the ring where he gave him an FU through the table. Hot opening segment, and a great crowd response helped make it feel like a big segment. Everyone played their respective part well, keeping it basic and believable.

-Ross and Lawler plugged Edge & Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels as the TV main event.

[Commercial Break]

1 -- JEFF HARDY & MARIA vs. JOHNNY NITRO & MELINA

Mixed tag rules applied where gender had to be the same, so one tag meant the other team had to tag, too. Maria did the Jeff Hardy style dance on the stage during the ring intro. Maria tagged in after a minute and gave Melina a bulldog for a two count right away. Nitro tripped Maria with his foot, giving Melina an advantage. At 4:00 Hardy and Nitro were back in, and Nitro took control. Melina yanked on Jeff's leg as he climbed the top rope. That gave Nitro a chance to set up a superplex, but Hardy dropped him to the mat instead, then hit the Swanton Bomb for the win.

WINNER: Hardy & Maria in 5:00.

STAR RATING: 1/2* -- Short, but fine.

-Backstage, Coach explained to Vince McMahon what happened with the Cena-Umaga segment. Vince cut him off to make a cell call. He called Donald Trump. He had trouble getting past Trump's people, who said Trump was busy having dinner. He asked to be put through anyway. When that wish wasn't granted, he asked Donald to call him back. He said it was "a matter of urgency." He was going to give his cell number, but in a funny spot, he looked over at Coach, worried that he'd memorize it, so he just said, "He knows the number." Coach seemed slightly amused by Vince not getting his way since he's so used to be strong-armed by Vince and seeing Vince get his way about everything.

[Commercial Break]

-Edge and Randy Orton stepped onto the stage. After their music stopped, DX's played briefly, then it went to a flatline tone. It gave me a headache quickly, as they let it play too long. Orton then explained that it's a flatline sound. He bragged about getting the chance to finish the elimination of DX. He said nobody can stop them from ending DX once and for all. He said Triple H can't help him because he's at home in a wheel chair. Orton then walked away, telling Edge he had something to check on backstage. Edge then cut a promo, but after a few seconds, said he had to go back and check on Randy. He went back for a few seconds, then they dragged Hacksaw Duggan onto the stage. He was coughing up blood and had a streak of blood on his chest. Edge trash-talked Duggan. He said Duggan has known Michaels for close to 20 years, and he was in his dressing room when Michaels made his Cajun Country in-ring debut. He said Michaels hadn't arrived at the arena yet, but when he arrives, he'll have to scratch Duggan off his list of people who might be able to help him. He said if anyone tries to help Michaels, the same thing will happen to them. Orton rolled Duggan face-first onto a chair as Edge smashed him across the back of his head with another chair. Referees and agents (including Dean Malenko and Mike Rotundo) ran out to try to stop Edge, but Orton cut them off.

[Commercial Break]

-A plug aired for ECW on Sci-Fi announcing Bobby Lashley vs. Test vs. Rob Van Dam as the main event.

2 -- RIC FLAIR vs. KENNY DYKSTRA

A recap aired of their previous matches before the match. Flair opened the match with chops. In a nice touch, Lawler and Ross updated Duggan's condition, rather than just "moving on" and ignoring it, saying paramedics were working on him backstage. Flair went to a side headlock. Dykstra came back with a dropkick to Flair's thigh and then worked over his left leg. Ross brought up Junkyard Dog's name as a former top star in Louisianna. At 3:00 Flair climbed to the top rope. Dykstra tried to slam him to the mat, but Flair punched him away and hit a top rope clothesline (or something resembling it) leading to a two count. Ross said, "We just saw a moment." Dykstra rolled up Flair and grabbed tights with one hand and the middle rope with the other. The ref saw the rope grab. Flair rolled through and went for a pin with a yank of the tights. Dykstra kicked out. Flair came back with another pin attempt with his feet on the ropes for the win.

WINNER: Flair in 4:00.

STAR RATING: 3/4*

-Ross plugged Michaels vs. Rated RKO again.

[Commercial Break]

-The Smackdown Rebound aired.

-Todd Grisham interviewed Michaels as he walked into the arena. Michaels said he had no intention of utilizing Duggan, and he's sorry he got dragged into that. He said he is headed into that ring with one partner only - Triple H. He said he told RKO last week he would deal with them, and he intends on doing just that - alone. Flair approached Michaels. He said he wants to have his back. He said he won't need him, but he'll be there for him. They shook hands and Michaels seemed to appreciate it.

-McMahon grimaced and said he can't imagine why Trump hasn't called him. Vince said perhaps it's bad cell service. Coach said maybe his battery is weak. Vince said he has no battery problems. Coach asked why he wants to talk to him. Vince pulled out a letter that he said Trump sent to him. He said he has known Trump for years. He said he felt compelled to comment on last week's Rosie O'Donnell-Donald Trump skit. He read the letter. Trump said: "I found the skit poorly produced, inane, lame, and quite frankly not up to your standards. It seems to be your audience would rather watch exciting in-ring action than a poor attempt at comedic satire. I'll be watching this Monday, and on behalf of WWE fans, we hope that you'll give us the brilliant sports entertainment we've come to expect. P.S. Don't forget to watch The Apprentice on Sunday nights on NBC, 9 o'clock, 8 central." Vince is in a position to plug a TV show that goes head-to-head with WWE PPVs. Coach began talking up the new season of Trump's show. Vince said he didn't care about that. He said if Trump wants compelling television, he's about to give it to him.

[Commercial Break]

-A high-energy WrestleMania 23 commercial aired. It's 76 days away, said the graphic.

-Vince McMahon walked to the ring to his music. Vince said his life-long friend Trump can't return his call. He reiterated Trump's claim that fans would rather watch good wrestling (well, he called it "in-ring action"; there is no "wrestling" in World Wrestling Entertainment) than bad skits. Vince referred to last week's Rosie vs. Donald skit "brilliant." He introduced a highlight package. Vince said there are differences between he and Trump. He said Donald asks the audience what they want and then he gives it to them. He said he doesn't ask the audience what they want, he tells them what they want. "I tell them what they want and then they like it," said Vince. He said he might have gone wrong with the Miss USA pageant controversy. He said he shouldn't have forgiven her for her transgressions and kept her crowned. He then introduced "Miss USA." Ross said, "I thought she was in rehab." At first nobody came out to the music, but then Torrie Wilson walked out, seemingly reluctantly. Vince told her to wave and smile. He criticized how she was walking. He made her read a note, which she pulled out of her top. "I am Miss USA and I have been a very bad little girl. What can I do to make it up to you, Mr. McMahon, America's Favorite Billionaire." McMahon said he liked the sound of that. He said he also liked the sound of "how can I make it up to you." Vince got that sexually excited look on his face. Carlito's music interrupted. Torrie broke into a broad smile.

Carlito said he knows he's the boss and he's taking a big risk walking out there, but, "Despite what you might think, you're not cool. That thing with Rosie and Donald last week was bad. Really bad. No, it sucked." He said this thing with Torrie, even though she looks beautiful, is brutal. He said Trump was right about him, he doesn't know what the people want. He said people don't want to see stupid skits. They don't even want to see him talk. McMahon gave him a look of death. He said, "They wanna see people fight." Vince said if they want to see a fight, he'd fight him. He ripped off his jacket. He then called for Great Khali to come to the ring. Khali's music was cued up and Khali immediately walked out. How convenient. Khali headbutted Carlito, fending off Carlito's early punches. Carlito followed up with forearms and punches. Khali no-sold them and then chopped Carlito to the mat. Fans chanted, "Carlito, Carlito." He manhandled Carlito like Brother Ray did Homicide last night on the TNA PPV. Khali then chokeslammed Carlito. Torrie looked on in horror at ringside. Vince stood over Carlito's fallen body as Khali walked away. Vince said, "Now that? That's cool." Ross said: "America's Favorite Billionaire has the last word indeed."

-Ross and Lawler plugged the main event again.

[Commercial Break]

3 -- MICKEY JAMES vs. VICTORIA

Mickey spanked Victoria early in the match as Victoria was leaning over the top rope. Victoria took over control after that, including stepping on her hair and then pulling her up by her arms. Mickey surprised Victoria with a cradle for a two count. Victoria came back and forced Mickey to do the splits, then applied a leglock. Mickey elbowed out of it, then threw two clotheslines and a chop. She followed up a minute later with a reverse sidekick to the chin for the win.

WINNER: Mickey James in 4:00.

STAR RATING: * -- Good short women's match. Some nice spots in there.

-They showed Ross and Lawler on camera, perhaps for the first time during the show. They introduced a clip from the opening segment with Cena-Umaga/Estrada.

-Ross and Lawler then plugged the Royal Rumble. A graphic showed the following participants: Booker T, Randy Orton, Edge, Shawn Michaels, Kane, Undertaker, Carlito, C.M. Punk, Finlay, Chavo Guerrero, Ric Flair, The Miz, Kenny Dykstra, Chris Masters (terrible picture, by the way), Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Sabu, Sandman, Hardcore Holly, Johnny Nitro, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Chris Benoit, and Viscera. Lawler said it's the most star-studded Royal Rumble in history.

[Commercial Break]

-A clip aired of JBL beating up Chris Masters in Iraq, causing the Master Lock to be broken by a soldier.

-Chris Masters stood live in the ring. He said he will be the Royal Rumble winner. He said nobody can beat him because nobody can break the Masterlock. He held up a sheet of paper on WWE stationery from Mr. McMahon saying that due to outside interference in Iraq, the Masterlock was never officially broken. Lawler made a brief mention of Masters being nervous, in reaction to Masters's hand shaking as he held up that sheet of paper. Lawler said it might be a good time to take him up on the challenge, because he seems nervous. Ron Simmons answered the challenge. Masters told Simmons he wasn't referring to him. He looked around Simmons and asked if anyone else wanted to answer the challenge. Simmons shoved Masters to the mat, then he sat down in the chair in mid-ring. Masters wiped his hands on the ref's shirt, then applied it. He locked it on tight, and Simmons stood and tried to break it. When he was close to breaking it, Super Crazy ran to the ring and dropkicked Masters from behind. That broke the hold. Crazy gave Masters a flying DDT and then a top rope moonsault. Lawler said he thought Simmons broke the Masterlock. Ross agreed. Didn't they just establish a minute earlier that outside interference rendered the previous break illegal and unofficial? Crazy returned to the back. Simmons grabbed the mic, looked around, and said, "Damn!" This may be known as the "Damn Era" of Raw.

[Commercial Break]

-The WrestleMania 23 Recall featured RVD winning the Money in the Bank match last year at WM22.

-They showed Ross and Lawler at ringside. Ross said that due to outside interference, Masters's Masterlock is still officially unbroken.

-They cut backstage to Todd Grisham on the scene backstage where Flair was knocked out in the back being tended to by officials. Michaels ran up to them to check on Flair. Grisham said Rated RKO may be sending a message to Michaels.

4 -- SHELTON BENJAMIN (w/Charlie Haas) vs. CRYME TYME'S JTG (w/Shad)

After Shelton took JTG down with a thrust kick to the chest, Shad interfered by tripping Shelton leading to JTG landing on top and scoring a three count.

WINNER: JTG at 3:00.

STAR RATING: 1/4*

-Grisham updated Flair's condition, stating that he has been loaded into an ambulance and is en route to a local medical facility. Michaels stormed into the camera's view. He said the odds are against him, but that's just the way he wants it. He said if he goes down, he will not go down alone. He said he will everybody he can with him. He then superkicked Grisham. Ouch. That looked like it made contact.

[Commercial Break]

-A video featured aired on Triple H's quad injury and surgery. He said at first it felt like the kneecap moving to the side of his leg, but in retrospect he thinks it was the quad ripping off the kneecap and moving to the side. They showed him on crutches and in a wheel chair. They showed him wincing as Dr. James Andrews felt his knee and muscle. The doc said it takes four months to heal after surgery, and said it was similar to the injury he suffered a few years ago. Hunter then said it is similar to his left leg quad tear. He said this time it's different because he knows what's coming. They showed his skin being sliced open and surgery being performed. He said once he gets clearance to start rehab, it'll be "balls to the walls." He said it could be four, six, or eight months. He said he knows what he has to go through to get to the end of the road, and it's a long, slow process. He said he wants to return and be on top again. He said "11 time champion sounds pretty good to me." I honestly congratulate Hunter and WWE for not making a big deal out of how he "finished the match despite being injured." This was a humble, straight-forward segment without any needless bravado that can set the bar overly high for other wrestlers who might feel like they're expected to wrestle, at risk to their health and their opponent's, even when suffering a serious injury mid-match.

-Ring intros took place for Rated RKO. Edge asked the fans, "Are you ready?" He got no response. He asked again, shouting it like Triple H the second time. He asked the fans to get on their feet for HBK and hold their signs high. Orton did the Michaels bit of "for the thousands in attendance..." He then said, "I've got two words for you, get 'em." He then demanded security to confiscate the DX signs from the fans. He said Vince McMahon has ordered it, and if fans don't comply, they can be ordered out of the arena. They showed security taking away the signs from fans. Ross called it censorship. Lawler said it was ridiculous.

[Commercial Break]

5 -- SHAWN MICHAELS vs. RANDY ORTON & EDGE

Michaels ran into the ring and began punching away at both heels. He tossed Edge out of the ring, then backdropped Orton. He ripped off his shirt and threw it into the crowd, then clotheslined Orton to the floor. Edge officially entered the ring as it became a tag situation. At 2:00 Orton tagged in. Michaels threw a barrage of punches at him. Edge pulled the top rope down as Michaels bounced into the ropes, so Michaels tumbled to the floor. Edge clotheslined Michaels at ringside, then threw him into the ring. Michaels showed life back in the ring with some punches, but Edge pounded him into the corner. When the ref scolded Edge, Orton ran around and threw a series of punches at Michaels. Edge then went back to punching Michaels as the ref scolded Orton and sent him back to his corner. Michaels began bleeding from the forehead. At 6:00 Michaels did the Flair Flip into the corner, but returned fire upon landing on his feet with a clothesline. Orton rolled over to tag in a fresh Edge. Michaels side-stepped an Edge spear, and Edge rammed into Orton on the ring apron. At 7:00 Michaels went into a full-fledged comeback against Edge, barely able to see through the blood covering his face. Michaels then hit a top rope elbow. He was slow to get up, but when he finally stood, he stomped the mat to signal the superkick. Orton entered the ring, so Michaels dove onto him. When he got up, Edge speared him to the mat. Edge then grabbed two chairs from ringside at 9:00. The ref called for the bell.

WINNER: Michaels via DQ in 10:00.

STAR RATING: **1/2 -- Told the story really well, giving the fans a sense that Michaels could hold his own despite the disadvantage. The downside is that WWE needs strong heels, and Edge and Orton seemed relatively weak in being unable to finish him off two-on-one.

-After the match, Edge put Michaels's head on a chair in center ring. Ross said, "Please don't do this." Michaels kicked the second chair into Edge's face. When he got up, he sent Orton face-first into the chair with a drop toe hold. Michaels kicked Edge between the legs, then delivered the same greeting to Orton. Michaels played to the crowd, then rolled out of the ring. The crowd chanted, "HBK, HBK." Ross said Michaels overcame amazing odds. Michaels pulled out Triple H's sledgehammer. He jabbed Edge in the gut with it, then nailed Orton in the face with it (covering the metal with his hand). Ross talked about Michaels having great "fighting spirit." Michaels put Orton's face over the chair, then set up a chairshot. Edge got up, so Michaels swung at him. Edge bailed out and watched as Michaels bashed Orton's skull. Orton's eyes bugged out. Michaels trash-talked Orton as his music began playing. Ross said, "DX lives, King!" Lawler asked, "But does Orton?"

We welcome your 1-10 score and comments on this show for a "Raw Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on Raw, click here.


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