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TV REPORTS
KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT 1/5: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live event from New Orleans, La.

Jan 5, 2009 - 10:26:43 PM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY


By Wade Keller, Torch editor

KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT
JANUARY 5, 2009
NEW ORLEANS, LA.


-The show opened with melodramatic music recapping the Shawn Michaels/JBL alliance. I'm usually all for WWE's heavily produced video packages, but this pushed past the limits to almost being comical in terms of the musical mix which seemed to draw from CBS's "Survivor" at the end. There comes a point where it is pro wrestling, and even within that world Michaels compromising himself, treating it like a school full of children being swallowed by an earthquake is a bit much.

-Randy Orton and Chris Jericho stood mid-ring for a cold open in the arena. No pyro, no Raw intro, just Michael Cole saying they were live and this was Raw. Jericho said they were there to address the atrocity of last week. He pointed out that the rules of a Fatal Fourway state that it's "every man for himself," yet it's obvious Michaels worked in collusion with JBL. He said they won't stand for it, and they've filed a formal protest over last week's events. Orton said they feel that JBL should be removed from his championship match and Michaels should not be allowed to compete for the title ever again. Orton said he and Jericho have agreed to fight one another later for that Rumble title shot. Jericho said he doesn't care what the hypocrite fans think. JBL's music interrupted.

Out of JBL's limo walked Michaels. Lawler said that's an odd sight. He also said that Jericho and Orton are undoubtedly right about the collusion between Michaels and JBL last week. Lawler said he appreciates the fact that Michaels has fallen on hard times and JBL came along almost as a savior to Michaels and his family, but Michaels must be conflicted. JBL said they should lose with dignity. He said they would have done the same thing if they had the resources. Jericho disagreed, saying they don't associate with dishonest and indecent people.

Jericho leaned in to Michaels and said, "Speaking of which, how do you feel, Mr. WrestleMania." He said he spent months being chastised because he said he was a phony and a sellout, "and it turns out I was right." He said his actions lately have made him look like a prophet. Michaels said, "If there's one thing that allows me to sleep at night without being completely sickened with myself, it's knowing that I personally made sure that you [Jericho] and you [JBL] would not fight for the World Heavyweight Championship."

Orton said Michaels should face the fact that he took a turn for the worst. He said now we know that Ric Flair's career was ended by "a weak, pathetic sellout." Orton said the decision from last week will be overturned tonight. (Former U.S. senator Norm Coleman should be at home taking feverish notes on this.) Stephanie McMahon walked out. We have news. She has legs. And a stomach. The camera showed her entire body as she walked out, then zoomed in on the usual upper-body shot.

Steph said the referee's decision stands and JBL will go on to face Cena for the title at the Rumble. "Argue all you want, this is my show, and my decision stands," she said. She said that Jericho and Orton can take solace in the fact that they've been entered in the Rumble. Jericho called it "axiomatic" that they should be in the Rumble. He said who doesn't deserve to be in the match is Michaels because he would just poison the Rumble. Michaels stood with his head hung throughout the interview, but now his head raised up and he couldn't hide a sneer as he seethed. JBL said that would be fine with him, since his sole role at the Rumble should be to ensure he regain his title at the Rumble by standing in his corner. Steph accepted that, then said she wanted to talk about tonight.

She said the easiest thing to do would be to book those four in a tag team match, but she feels like making things more interesting. She said tonight would be a test of Michaels's integrity, as Orton & Jericho were booked to face Michaels & John Cena. Lawler called it a blockbuster.

-Cole plugged C.M. Punk challenging William Regal for the IC Title in the first title match of 2009 on Raw.

[Commercial Break]

[Q2]

==============================

BulldogHeadlockBret_ML_150.jpg
British Bulldog [photo by Mike Lano (c) PWTorch]
Did you catch our announcement on the front page of PWTorch.com that we are now releasing for the first time ever vintage historical audio interviews from our 20+ year archives of what many call the best pro wrestling interviews ever? Each month, a new vintage audio interview will be released for the first time, but for that month only, replaced the next month by a new vintage audio interview. These previously had been released only in transcript format in the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter, many of which have been out of print for more than 15 years!

The first is our January 1993 interview with "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, 68 minutes in length, conducted by PWTorch editor Wade Keller. Become a member this month to listen, and stay a member to find out what extraordinary interview from our archives will be heard for the first time ever next month.

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===============================


1 -- GOLDUST & MELINA vs. SANTINO MARELLA & BETH PHOENIX

Goldust didn't even get a full ring intro. He was stooping in the ring as his music played as they came back from the break. Melina got her own full ring intro. Lawler and Cole plugged Melina's title match against Beth Phoenix at the Royal Rumble. Santino was sporting a thick short beard. Lawler said it's a two-day growth, adding, "And I heard he's growing it to look more like his mother." It's odd to have Goldust teaming with someone named Melina, given that Marlina (Terri Runnels) was his first female cohort when his character was introduced. Maybe odd isn't the word, but noteworthy. Okay, barely noteworthy, but what's done is done. Melina slapped Santino, then tagged in Goldust. Melina pinned Phoenix with a bridge. Rosa Mendez went after Melina at ringside after the match, then was dragged out through the crowd afterward by security.

WINNERS: Melina & Goldust in 4:00. When was the last time Goldust won a match on Raw?

-Todd Grisham interviewed C.M. Punk backstage. He asked him how he was feeling going into his IC Title match against Regal. Punk said ever since he was a little kid, the IC Title was the belt to watch. He said his favorite Rick Steamboat held that title, along with Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect. Punk added that he hasn't forgotten that Regal beat him in the King of the Ring finals. He said it's a new year and he's aiming to start the new year with a bang.

[Commercial Break]

[Q3]

2 -- WILLIAM REGAL (w/Layla) vs. C.M. PUNK -- Intercontinental Title match

Lawler gave Punk advice to stay focused and not let his emotions get the best of him. It's nice to hear an announcer giving sports-like advice to a challenger in a title match and talk about the strategy involved. When Punk was going to dive through the ropes at Regal at 1:00, Regal yanked Layla into the path to protect himself. Cole said that is what Regal is all about. When Punk lifted Regal for his finisher, Regal grabbed the ref. The ref then DQ'd him. As Punk protested and Regal celebrated, Stephanie said she can't let the first title match of the year end this way. She said if he gets DQ'd, he will lose the title. No specifics offered of when the rematch would take place.

WINNER: Punk via DQ in 4:00 (so Regal retains the title).

-Cole plugged the main event tag match, saying it would be a test of the integrity Michaels has left.

-A commercial aired for "Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia." Life is too short to watch bad movies, so how does anyone have time to create this stuff? The first review made it sound as horrible as the previews look.

[Commercial Break]

-WWE Fact: Raw was the no. 1 entertainment show on cable last week, beating shows on NBC, CW, VH1, TNT, Nickelodeon, A&E, Disney Channel, TBS, and ABC. What an odd assortment of networks to say they beat. Did Raw not beat anything on ESPN or HGTV or BBC America?

-JBL talked to Michaels about how great it is that Steph has booked Michaels to team with Cena. He said if Cena gets RKO'd, he gets a bonus. If he superkicks Cena and then Orton punts him and he has to forfeit his title and Steph awards it to him, he will have hit the lottery. Michaels stood up and looked upset, barely restrained. JBL said this is about more than the Rumble. He said he wants him to get to WrestleMania 25 as champion, and he wants to headline as the conquering returning hero in Texas. He said he will have financial security for the rest of his life if this happens.

-Elsewhere, Orton told Cody Rhodes and Sim Snuka that tonight they have another chance to prove themselves to him, and if they win, they're in. He said their fathers were Hall of Famers, so he won't accept failure. Manu walked up to him and asked for another chance to prove himself. He said he's not perfect, and even he (Orton) lost his match last week. Orton raised his voice and took offense at Manu being unappreciative. He said Manu has done nothing. "Your father was Afa of the Wild Samoans. So what? Your father was nothing compared to my father or me, and neither are you. Half of these people don't even know your name and you have the audacity to call me out?" He said he will never, ever be a part of his group. He said he doesn't want to see his face again. Cody and Sim looked contemptuously at Manu, then walked away.

-And elsewhere backstage, Dolph Ziggler introduced himself to Mickie James as Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio headed toward the entrance tunnel for their tag match.

[Commercial Break]

-A Smackdown commercial hyped Triple H facing Triple Jeopardy where he has to battle in a tables match, last man standing match, and handicapped match all in one night.

[Q4]

3 -- MIZ & MORRISON vs. REY MYSTERIO & KOFI KINGSTON

Miz and Morrison, with their Slammy Award expressed dismay at the fans booing them. Morrison said New Orleans just took over as the murder capital of the world, so they have no business booing them. "Sorry if we're saving the environment one low-flow flush of the toilet at the time, sorry if we're the greatest tag team of the 21st Century," said Morrison striking a pose with Miz in unison afterward. "Be jealous!" they concluded. During Rey's ring intro, the screen graphic announced that he is officially in the Rumble. Cole called it another big announcement. Lawler said other WWE Superstars will be jealous. Kingston got in early offense against Miz, sending him to ringside to catch his composure. They cut to an early break at 1:00.

[Commercial Break]

An ECW commercial plugged Miz & Morrison would be on ECW on Tuesday night. No opponents were named. They used a soundtrack from "Starsky & Hutch," or so it sounded. They showed Miz gaining control during the break. He had Rey grounded back live. Rey came back with a head scissors that sent Miz into the corner turnbuckle. He hot tagged Kofi into ht ering, who hit a high dropkick and danced. When Morrison attempted to interfere, Kofi slid between his legs to the floor and yanked him to the ring apron face-first. As the ref's back was turned, though, Morrison knocked Kofi off the top rope. Miz worked over Kofi's knee afterward, then tagged in a fresh Morrison.

[Q5]

Miz and Morrison isolated Kofi for several minutes, then beat down Rey. Rey made a comeback. Kofi dove at Miz and landed on the floor to break up a double-team by the heels, then clutched his knee in pain. Rey hit Morrison with a 619, but Miz interfered. Morrison recovered and surprised Rey with a kick to the face for the win.

WINNERS: Morrison & Miz in 13:00.

STAR RATING: **1/2 -- Entertaining, well-executed tag match with a good mix heel heat and effective babyfaces comebacks.

-After Miz & Morrison celebrated their way to the back, Mike Knox attacked Rey and Kofi. He crotched Rey over the top rope and then gave him a big boot that overshot slightly, but did what it needed to anyway. Rey tumbled to the floor.

-Cena approached Michaels backstage. Michaels stared him down. Cena said, "The situation is what it is." He asked whether he was fighting two guys or three. "What can I expect out there? Am I getting HBK or JBL's puppet." Michaels shot back and said, "I'm nobody's puppet." He asked him to consider his history. He walked off as Cena gulped.

[Commercial Break]

4 -- KELLY KELLY vs. JILLIAN HALL

After Jillian sang (poorly) "When the Saints Go Marching In," Lawler said, "I like Jillian's singing except for two things... my ears." Cole pointed out that Kelly Kelly was named "Most Improved of 2008" by WWE Magazine this month. Cole called Raw "an entertainment juggernaut." Kelly won with a legdrop to the back of Jillian's neck.

WINNER: Kelly Kelly in 4:00.

[Q6]

-Afterward, as Jillian beat down Kelly in frustration over her loss, Kane made his way to the ring as his music played and the lights turned red. Jillian fled the scene as Kelly tried to regain her sense in the ring. Kane said, "So the truth comes out. You never liked me, you were protecting Randy Orton. But Orton rejected you, didn't he? Doesn't feel real good, does it Kelly." He said next week he's going to go back to doing what makes him feel good: "Eviscerating people." He said he has a match with Orton next week. "Feel free to watch," he said. This is a messed up storyline because Kane is heelish in his approach to Kelly, but Orton is heelish in every way, also, including his arrogant, mean comments earlier aimed at Manu. So who are fans supposed to want to see win?

-Lawler plugged the main event tag match.

[Commercial Break]

-Cole plugged Smackdown's main event Triple H Triple Jeopardy challenge on Friday. Cole and Lawler were shown on camera as they talked about the Vickie Guerrero angle with those embarrassing pictures of her.

5 -- CODY RHODES & SIM SNUKA vs. CRYME TYME

As footage aired of Cryme Tyme in Iraq, Cole joked that they stole a bunch of things from the military, such as tanks, AK-47s, and even a helicopter. He chuckled. It's a bad joke to begin with, but how is stealing from the military funny even in a sarcastic way. Lawler said, "The mayor gave them a key to the city, and today they are changing the locks." Cole cackled. Cole pointed out that Cryme Tyme refer to themselves as the "ghetto superstars." Shad fended off interference from Snuka, but it gave Cody a chance to recover from a sustained beating and thhus kicked out of a JTG sunset flip. Cody came back with a corkscrew DDT out of nowhere for the pin.

WINNER: Cody & Snuka in 5:00.

STAR RATING: *1/4 -- Okay match, but nothing special at all.

[Q7]

-They showed JBL heading toward the entrance tunnel. Lawler wondered what he was up to.

-An ECW commercial plugged Matt Hardy vs. Mark Henry, plus Finlay vs. Jack Swagger for tomorrow night.

[Commercial Break]

-They showed scenes of New Orleans and Bourbon Street several times during the show. They threw to another video package promoting "Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia." The actors talked about how scary it was to be in the middle of the all the explosions.

-They showed a happy Cody and Snuka approaching Orton backstage. Orton congratulated Cody and then turned to Snuka and said, "You're out." Snuka said, "That doesn't even make any sense." Orton said he doesn't have time to argue it, but he couldn't have been more clear. He said Cody won the match. Snuka said, "It was a tag match. Only one person can make the pin in a tag match." Orton said he wanted to see who the weak link was, and apparently he found it. He asked Cody if Sim has a point. Cody said, "All I know is that I won the match." Snuka couldn't believe his ears. Orton and Cody walked away.

-Elsewhere backstage Santino and Phoenix talked to Stephanie about Steph's decision to ban Rosa. Santino said she can't blame her for being attracted to him. He said there aren't many woman who can resist him. He flexed his muscles under his t-shirt. He added, "You can't see right now, but my nipples are flickering like the Northern Lights." Phoenix said, "Thank you, Stephanie," then dragged Santino out of the room by his hair. Jericho then walked up to Steph. She complained he didn't knock. He wanted to know why JBL was in her office earlier. He asked if he was paying her off. She said, "Like I need JBL's money." He said he sent his complaint about last week not only to her, but also to her father, Vincent Kennedy McMahon. She said, "Ever since the accident, my dad's been out of the picture." Jericho said that's what he thought, but he got a call earlier from Vince's office saying that in two weeks he's returning to Raw. He said in two weeks they'll find out whose show this really is. Steph's jaw dropped and she got bug-eyed and looked worried. The camera stayed on her much too long.

-Cena was shown heading toward the entrance tunnel.

[Commercial Break]

-WWE Fact: WWE Television programs can be seen in 465 million homes worldwide - more than the NBA, Major League Baseball, and the NFL combined. Also, PWTorch.com can be seen in 1,000 million trillion homes - every home with an Internet hook-up, more than all the stars in the universe.

-Cole plugged that the Regal-Punk rematch for the IC Title will take place next week.

[Q8]

6 -- RANDY ORTON & CHRIS JERICHO vs. JOHN CENA & SHAWN MICHAELS

Orton's entrance came first, then Jericho's, then Michaels. Lawler said Michaels came out to a mixed reaction. Cole reiterated the theme that this is a test of Michaels's integrity. Cena's entrance then took place. Cena opened with a headlock against Jericho. He lifted him for an early FU, but Michaels tagged himself in a second earlier. He went for a kick on Jericho, but Jericho ducked and the kick headed toward Cena. They stopped for a second, then both went after Jericho, knocking him to ringside. JBL walked out onto the stage to watch. Cole wondered if that would change how Michaels approached the match.

[Commercial Break]

After the break, Cena went on a flurry against Orton. He went for an FU. Michaels cut off interference from Michaels. Chaos ensued, with Cena, after his eyes were raked by Orton, mistakenly lifting Michaels for an FU. Michaels broke free. The ref escorted Michaels to his corner as Orton and Jericho double-teamed Cena. The heels worked over Cena for several minutes, including briefly at ringside, when Jericho threw Cena head-first into the announce table. He scored a short two count in the ring afterward. Cena countered a desperation FU and slammed Cena for another two count. Lawler said Michaels's body language doesn't suggest he's eager to tag in, but is more of a spectator. He's not leaning in to reach for a tag or cheering on Cena. Cena began a comeback at 13:00, but Jericho grabbed a sleeper mid-ring to stop it. Cena reached for a tag. Michaels half-heartedly reached out.

[Q9]

They showed JBL watching on a monitor backstage. Jericho took Cena to the mat with the sleeper nearer his corner. Cena hit a legdrop on the back of Jericho's neck. Cena reached for a tag. Jericho tagged Orton first. Orton continued the beating on Cena. Cena avoided an Orton dropkick. Both were slow to get up, but Cena had a long way to travel. Cena dove and hot-tagged Michaels. Michaels didn't go after Orton, though. He turned and looked at Cena for a moment. As the fresh Jericho charged at him, Michaels turned and beat on him with a flurry of offense. Jericho countered and went for a Lionsault. Michaels lifted his knees, then slammed Jericho and went for a top rope elbow. Jericho lifted his knees and caught Michaels on the landing. Michaels clutched at his ribs. Jericho went for a Walls of Jericho. Michaels turned it into a small package for a near fall. Orton charged in and broke it up. Cena entered, too. Orton gave him a backbreaker. Michaels superkicked Orton, then Jericho. He looked at Cena, then covered Jericho and scored the pin. Cole said Michaels's integrity is intact. Lawler said he did the right thing. Cena looked at Michaels and nodded and smiled. Lawler said he saw Michaels at least consider something else. Cena backed out of the ring as Michaels stepped toward him.

WINNERS: Michaels & Cena in 18:00.

STAR RATING: ***1/2 -- Really well-crafted match. The Cena beat down was really long, but the teases to hot-tag Michaels had a strong storyline behind them so it made sense. The four in the ring are pros, so everything about the execution was strong, too.

-Grisham interviewed JBL backstage. JBL said he had another talk with Steph and Cena will face Michaels next week. He said to be sure Michaels retains his integrity, he'll be in his corner. The show closed with Cena celebrating in the ring and callilng for Michaels to celebrate with him. Michaels stood on the apron and then entered the ring. Cena mouthed, "I know you." Michaels still seemed torn.

Be sure to send us your thoughts on Raw if you saw the complete show. Send your name, hometown, picks for best and worst segments, a 0-10 score, and a well-edited paragraph of thoughts (please keep to about 12 lines) to pwtorch@gmail.com. Thanks for participating. Your comments will likely appear in the "Raw Reax" feature within minutes after the show.


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