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TV REPORTS
KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT 1/19: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of He's Baaaaack!

Jan 19, 2009 - 11:09:26 PM
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KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT
JANUARY 19, 2009
CHICAGO, ILL.
LIVE ON USA NETWORK


[Q1]

-After the annual brief video tribute to Martin Luther King, the screen said: "Six Months Ago..." Then it went to footage of Vince McMahon giving away money on Raw. Let's hope those winners were smart enough to spend the money on frivolous fun things and didn't do anything supposedly prudent like invest in the stock market or buy a house. The footage shifted to the mishaps with the staging equipment and McMahon being stretchered. Then the Raw opening aired.

-Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler introduced the show, noting that Vince McMahon returns tonight.

1 -- RANDY ORTON & CODY RHODES & TED DIBIASE vs. KOFI KINGSTON & SANTINO MARELLA & KANE -- Over The Top Rope Six-Man

This gave Lawler and Cole a chance to talk about the similarities and differences between this and the Rumble. Santino proposed an alliance with Orton, Cody, and DiBiase. They tossed him over the top rope instead. Cody and DiBiase tossed Kofi over the top. Kane then clotheslined Cody over the top seconds later. Kane followed by tossing DiBiase five seconds later. Then he grabbed Orton by his throat and shoved him over the top rope, but DiBiase interfered and knocked Kane to the floor first. Cole wondered if Rhodes and DiBiase would use the same strategy of helping Orton come Sunday at the Rumble.

WINNER: Orton in 3:00.

-Cole and Lawler hyped the JBL-John Cena contract signing.

[Commercial Break]

-They showed C.M. Punk warming up backstage. Most bettors in our new PWTorch Raw Prediction content believe he's going to wiun the longest match tonight.

2 -- BETH PHOENIX vs. KELLY KELLY

After plugging the Phoenix vs. Melina match at the Rumble, Lawler wondered where Rosa Mendez has been lately, the Phoenix stalker. Well, that was ridiculously short. While the crowd was chanting "Kelly! Kelly!" at the "start" of the match, Phoenix finished her off with that underhook slam finisher. Seriously, they just shouldn't bother to have women's wrestling if they can't trust them to hold an audience actually wrestling for more than 30 seconds, or else get some female jobbers to play the role Kelly just did.

WINNER: Phoenix in 1:00.

-Orton, DiBiase, and Cody chatted backstage. Cody said he heard a rumor thatManu and Sim Snuka met with Stephanie McMahon earlier, and the rumor is Stephanie might be planning to fire Orton later tonight. Orton said, "What?! We'll see about that."

[Commercial Break]

[Q2]

-They showed a picture of President Bush receiving a WWE Title belt last week in the White House. Vice President Dick Cheney was sitting in a chair next to him looking on with a smile. McMahon sent him a letter thanking him for his support.

-Cole and Lawler hyped Rey Mysterio vs. Mike Knox later, plus pushed McMahon's return again.

-Beth Phoenix walked backstage and was met with congratulations from Santino. He said he had no doubt she'd win. He said he had a special surprise present for her. In walked Rosa Mendez. Phoenix asked what she was doing there. He said since she can't attend WWE events any more as a fan, he invited her to be her guest. Rosa said she's her biggest fan and wants to learn from the best because her dream is to become a WWE Diva. Santino said: "Please!! Can we keep her?" That got a laugh from the fans. Phoenix said she'd think about it. Santino said he knows how she can impress her. They left to formulate the plan.

-Stephanie chatted on a phone, talking to her nanny presumably. She gave instructions about feeding her, and then said, "Please tell her mommy loves her." She seemed homesick. Orton walked in and said the way Jericho spoke to her was completely inappropriate. She said he knows where he's going, and she's not planning to fire him, so he can quit sucking up to her. He got upset, stood up, and said he was just being nice. He said if anyone should be worried about being fired, it should be her. She said that's not his business. He snapped back: "Is it none of my business that no one respects you? Is it none of my business that the only reason you have this job is because you're Vince McMahon's daughter." He added that everyone laughs behind her back and if her last name wasn't McMahon, she'd be a big nobody. She slapped him hard. The truth hurts more than that slap. Or at least the truth that deep down she'll never know what she would have done on her own, without being born on third base.

[Commercial Break]

[Q3]

3 -- WILLIAM REGAL (w/Layla) vs. C.M. PUNK -- IC Title match

Cole said they just learned that Punk will be in the Royal Rumble. Fast pace early with a two count by Punk followed by a roundhouse series to Regal's chest. They dropped to ringside and brawled briefly, with Punk in control. Back in the ring and he hit a snap suplex for another two count at 2:00. They cut to a break at 3:00 with Punk applying an armbar.

[Commercial Break]

Punk had Regal tied up in the ropes in a submission attempt. Layla distracted Punk and yanked Regal free. Cole said it's no-DQ, so she can get away with that just as Punk didn't have to break the hold in the ropes. Regal put Punk's head against the ringpost and then kicked him in the head, leading to a two count in the ring. Regal worked Punk over on the mat. Punk came back at 8:00 with a spinning kick to the side of Regal's head for a near fall. Punk follwoed up with a running knee in the corner. Regal came back with a nasty looking single-underhook suplex for a two count. Regal followed up with a headbutt in the corner. The ref for some reason shot some words Regal's way. Regal said, "What? You can't do anything." He was right. Punk came back with a crossbody block attempt, but Regal ducked it. Punk, though, immediately lifted Punk for a GTS. Regal fought it off with a series of rapid-fire, but Punk executed it nonetheless and got the win. Lawler said, "Finally, Chicago has something to cheer about!"

WINNER: C.M. Punk in 10:00.

STAR RATING: *** -- Really good ten minute match. Good post-match celebration by Punk, too. All of these title wins within a one year period will be something he brags about as a heel some day.

[Q4]

-A long video package aired on the JBL-Shawn Michaels saga.

[Commercial Break]

-A commercial aired on Jack Swagger, touting him as the new champion. Good short piece capturing his personality.

-Lawler stood center-ring to host the contract signing of JBL vs. John Cena. JBL walked out with Michaels. Then Cena. Lawler asked who wanted to sign the contract first. Cena did. Then JBL looked over the contract and signed it. He told Cena it's official and therefore the reign of JBL as World Champion is now a matter of time. Cena picked up the mic and simply said, "You're a scumbag." He paused and added: "Get over yourself, man. I don't even want to talk to you." He said he came out there to talk to Michaels. JBL told him this is between the two of them, and Michaels will be in his corner to support him. He said supporting him is his only function. Cena said he knows JBL wouldn't waste all of his cash to have Michaels just stand in his corner. Cena turned to Michaels and asked him to listen to him.

[Q5]

Cena told Michaels that last week he didn't compete against an employee or a broken man. He said last week he had a match with the Main Event, the Showstopper, Mr. WrestleMania. He said that proved to him that he's still got it. He said his wife, children, family, peers, the fans - "we all love you because of who you are and what you do, because quite frankly you just do it better than everybody else." He said he thought maybe he lost a step, and then decided to side with JBL, but he proved to him last week he can make an honest living doing what he loves. "Dammit, you're Mr. WrestleMania, not JBL's puppet." JBL interjected, "An employee is not a puppet." He said he knows Shawn is still great, and that's why he hired him. He said Shawn and all of his other employees work for him because they choose to, and because he pays them handsomely. He said he hired Shawn for one reason - to help him become World Champion so he can return to his home state as the returning conquering hero at WrestleMania 25. He said if that happens, he will get what he truly cares about - and that is not Cena's opinion, but a large, large paycheck. JBL said it's not rocket science or personal, but a business decision.

Michaels finally had enough and yelled, "Shut up!" The crowd popped as he got in JBL's face. He said: "The idea that I had to take money from a disgusting individual like you makes me sick." He said he despises what he's become, and he'll continue to do it. The fans cheers turned to boos. He turned to Cena and said he doesn't live in his world. "I'm not 20 years old anymore, John," he said. "I've got pressures you couldn't possibly fathom." He said he has two kids he wants to put through college. He said he has to look his wife in the eye and deal with squandering his and her lifetime savings. He said Cena doesn't live his life. "I got myself into this and I'm going to get myself out it," he said. "You and everybody else can judge me all you want." He said he's going to do whatever he's decided to do. He said if that puts an asterisk next to his name or costs Cena his title, "then so be it."

Cena said he knows Michaels made this decision already, but he should know he has another choice. He said at the Royal Rumble he has a choice. He said there will be a moment where he has to choose whether he's going to be the guy who helps JBL become World Champion. He said after what he saw last week, in his heart of hearts, he still has it and he doesn't believe he'll help JBL when the chips are down. Cena seemed to lose his place a bit in this part of the segment, stumbling over his points a bit. Michaels said he's sorry he feels that way. Michaels then jerked toward Cena and JBL punched Cena. It was an awkward exchange. Michaels went for a superkick, but Cena ducked. JBL then kicked Cena in the face. A Clothesline from Hell would have been better, as the boot was a bit awkward, too. Michaels then left the ring as JBL delivered that Clothesline from Hell and left Cena lying in the ring. Good performance from everyone, including Cena early, but Michaels really stood out. In the end, it fell apart a bit, but it still did what it needed to do, which is drive home a selling point for the Rumble, which is Michaels having a chance to cheat on behalf of JBL or stand up for what's right.

[Commercial Break]

-A video package aired recapping the Mike Knox-Rey Mysterio feud.

-Todd Grisham approached Knox backstage on his way to the ring. He asked him what he has against Rey. Knox said he doesn't have anything against him. Grisham asked why he keeps attacking him. Knox pondered the question, then said in a refreshingly soft-spoken tone, "I don't know, I don't really have a reason."

[Q6]

4 -- REY MYSTERIO vs. MIKE KNOX

Cole said there must be more to Knox's actions than he's letting on. Rey went after Knox as soon as the bell rang. He ducked a Knox charge, and Knox flew over the top rope to the floor. Knox took control and began to bleed from his mouth while applying a bearhug to Rey. A minute later Rey avoided a charge into the corner. Rey gave Knox a loose head scissors, sending Knox into the ropes, but it more looked like Knox ran into the ropes. Rey went for a 619, but Knox blocked it and singshot Rey upward throat-first into the top rope. Knox beat on Rey in the corner relentlessly, disregarding the ref's instructions, leading to a DQ.

WINNER: Rey via DQ in 3:00.

-They cut backstage to Steph as she walked into her office and discovered the fired Chris Jericho sitting on a leather loveseat. She ordered him out of her office. Jericho said he's not going anywhere. He said last week he called her father after she fired him. He told him he'd hear his case the moment he got back on Raw. Jericho said he's there to do that and he warned her he's not holding anything back.

[Commercial Break]

-The Smackdown Rebound aired, focusing on Jeff Hardy and Edge.

-Miz and John Morrison called the original Royal Rumble winner, Hacksaw Duggan, to the ring. They said he could decide which of them he wanted to lose to tonight. Instead, Cryme Tyme walked out and said Duggan is on special assignment, but they had a counter offer. Shad said it's Martin Luther King Day and "our boy" Barack Obama is being sworn in to be President of the United States. Miz interjected: "I'm Republican." Shad said: "That's too bad for you." The crowd laughed. He said they decided it was the perfect time to begin to cut their path to the tag team titles, beginning tonight. Miz said, "Really, hip hop?" Morrison took the cheap heat route and said, "You guys don't deserve anything. You're worse than the Cubs." So every other market in the country is to cheer Miz & Morrison for being against a team not from their town? JTG said they'd gladly earn a title shot by beating them tonight in a non-title match, and if they lose, they won't bother them anymore. Morrison agreed, "because when it comes to beating you two, Yes We Can!" Good mix of current events in that exchange.

[Q7]

5 -- MIZ & MORRISON vs. CRYME TYME

After a grueling whole minute of action, Miz snapped Shad's neck over the top rope from ringside, but then JTG knocked Morrison off balance off the second rope on a springboard attempt. Shad then gave him his sweeping chokeslam for the win.

WINNERS: Cryme Tyme in 1:00. I hate short matches between competitive teams (or wrestlers). A lot. It unnecessarily undercuts the ability to sell matches on PPV and house shows and just breaks that consistent logic that should be inherent in two competitive equals having trouble beating each other 99 out of 100 times. Either get wrestlers over enough and wrestling matches over enough that you have confidence people will stay tuned to watch them, or get rid of those wrestlers and get out of the game of pretending it's about wrestling.

-They replayed Steph slapping Orton.

[Commercial Break]

-Cole and Lawler explained how the Royal Rumble works. It included some stats. There have been 22 winners. There have been 598 "Superstars." Steve Austin has eliminated the most overall - 36. Kane's 11 is the most in one match. Chyna was the only woman to ever compete in the Rumble. The record length is 62:12 for Rey Mysterio. Two seconds is the shortest length: Warlord being eliminated by Hulk Hogan. Three is the record number of wins for one wrestler - Steve Austin. It pointed out that entering first is supposedly a disadvantage, but it's produced as many winners as no. 30. The best number is #27; four have won with that slot. And finally, 70 percent who have won have gone on to win the title at WrestleMania. Great feature.

-Lawler and Cole plugged how fans can pre-order the Royal Rumble by going to WWE.com.

-Cody was chatting with Mickey James backstage. He said, "No offense, but why would I start to take career advice from you?" She shot back that she's been Women's Champion four times. Goldust walked up to Cody and said, "It's been a while." He offered Cody advice, adding that he's never listened to him before, but if he wants to know what it's like to be a true champion, then watch this DVD of Starrcade history. He said it can teach him more in one night than Randy Orton could teach him in a lifetime. Cody brought up how it features the best of three falls match between Steve Austin and a young Dustin Rhodes. Cody said he joined with Randy in great part to avoid being like him. "I'm not going to waste my talents like you did," he said. "Like Randy, I'm going to surpass my father. So thanks, but no thanks. I don't need the history lesson." He said when they make the Cody Rhodes DVD, he'll send him and "The Dream" a copy. Dustin, I mean Goldust, shook his head and mumbled something.

-They showed Vince McMahon's limo arriving at the arena. Lawler said after six long months, it appears he's return.

[Q8]

[Commercial Break]

-An ECW commercial plugged Finlay vs. Mark Henry vs. John Morrison vs. The Miz in a Fatal Four-way tomorrow night. Part of the narration said "no allies." I think Miz and Morrison are likely to be allies.

-They showed Jillian Hall singing poorly in the ring, then cut to a clip of Rosa Mendez attacking Melina on her way to the ring last week, causing the scheduled women's match to not take place, and instead a big brawl breaking out.

6 -- MELINA vs. JILLIAN HALL

Beth Phoenix, Santino, and Rosa Mendez walked to ringside to watch. Melina won quickly with a sunset flip out of the corner.

WINNER: Melina in 1:00. These short matches are really irritating. Lawler called it a short match, but really it's an average match. Short is less than 15 seconds these days.

-Afterward, Mendez attacked Melina. Phoenix interjected herself and knocked Mendez out of the ring, then beat up Melina herself, executing her double underhook face plant. She yelled that she can beat her on her own and doesn't need anyone's help. Phoenix walked right past a smiling Santino at ringside.

-Dolph Ziggler told Candice Michelle that if he wins the Royal Rumble, fans will know his name. Vince McMahon walked up and introduced himself. Ziggler was so nervous he couldn't remember his own name.

[Commercial Break]

-WWE Fact: The most popular sports DVDs of 2008 were: 14 WWE Titles, just two NFL titles, and just one MLB, UFC, NCAA, and NBA titles. You know WWE loves that they crush UFC in that category.

-Cole and Lawler were shown at ringside. They recapped the Cena-JBL-Michaels angle from earlier.

[Q9]

-Vince McMahon did his crazy strut on his way to the ring. The crowd cheered. He said based on that reception, they must be happy he's back. He said he's happy to be back. He said tonight is about business. He said it's time to discuss business. He asked Chris Jericho a public forum to discuss his grievance. Jericho made his full ring intro. McMahon complimented Jericho's suit. Jericho returned the apparel compliment. Jericho said he carried WWE on his back and what did his daughter do but fire him. He said now that he's back, he'll make things right. He implored him to re-hire him and reinstate him in the Rumble. He said he's a businessman, a brilliant businessman, so therefore it's axiomatic he should counteract his daughter's stupidity and make things right on his show. McMahon said Steph can be a big impulsive, but he wondered if Jericho thought she's made any progress. Jericho threw out some big Bob Backlund SAT words strung together, and then summed it up: "She's worse than ever." McMahon called Steph to the ring.

Steph entered the ring wearing all black. Vince led her to center ring by the hand. She looked a bit nervous. Vince said he doesn't want to go over her head, but he is thinking of reinstating Jericho. Jericho smiled wide. "But I'm not," he then said. Steph smiled wide. "I'm not going to fire my daughter, either." He said he and Steph are going to run Monday Night Raw together. Vince said on occasion they're a bit benevolent, so perhaps Steph would be willing to give Jericho a second chance. "It's up to you," he said. She walked up to Jericho with one of those smuggest of grins. She asked Jericho to apologize if he wants his job back. He didn't, so she called for security to escort him out. Jericho hung his head and said, "I'm sorry." She said she couldn't hear him. He said he was sorry again, this time louder. Who's supposed to be the babyface here, because if it's Steph, she's not so good at coming across as anything but one of the least likable characters in Raw history. It really takes away the satisfaction of seeing a top heel like Jericho grovel. Grovel he did, though, begging her to find it in her hear to forgive him. She said, "That's good. That's really, really good. But it's not good enough." The crowd had a mixed reaction of cheers and boos. She said after calling the fans hypocrites for months, it's time for him to be one and apologize to them. That smarted. The fans chanted, "On your knees."

Steph acknowledged the chant and asked him to drop. Jericho dropped ever so slowly. He said to the fans that he has a gift, and when one has a gift like his, when one performs better than anyone else on the planet, it may come across as arrogant. "I know I've said a lot of mean things about all of you, but I'm asking - well, if I've said anything to offend any of you, then I apologize." That perfect half-apology that politicians and public figures give when they get caught saying something totally inappropriate for their position. He slammed the mic down and walked out of the ring. Vince said seeing Jericho grovel like that "warms my cockles." He looked at Steph and said, "You're still Daddy's little girl. Give me a hug." As they hugged, Orton's music played and he walked out. Vince and Steph wondered what he was up to.

Orton stepped into the ring, mic in hand, and said he believes there was another apology in order. "Your daughter slapped me in the face earlier this evening for no reason at all," he told Vince. "So I think you should tell her to apologize to me." Again, who's the heel here? Vince asked why he would do that. He replied: "Because I am worth more than she is." He said he will win the Rumble and then win at WrestleMania and make millions of dollars for WWE "because people pay to see me and not" Steph. He said since his daughter has popped him out a couple of grandkids, she has become "essentially worthless." Vince had to hold her back and direct her out of the ring. Steph strode to the back, trusting her father to handle the situation.

[Q10]

McMahon snorted and said, "Who in the hell do you think you are? You're standing in my ring, in my universe, and you're standing in my ring, and you're privileged to be in it." He said he was going to give Orton a history lesson. He said his father was a mediocre "rassler" (Vince used to hate that Ted Turner referred to it as "rasslin.") He said he put the spotlight on his dad and made him a Superstar. He said he went on to be in the Hall of Fame. He said if he hadn't done that, Randy wouldn't be standing there right now. He said chances are he'd be maybe a gym teacher in St. Louis. Oh, gasp, not that! To be rich, famous, and on TV is what defines someone's worth. Vince asked Randy to apologize to him. Randy stared him down and said nothing. Vince said, "Apologize to me or else?" Randy said nothing once again. Vince said he'd terminate him right there on the spot if he didn't apologize. Randy said deliberately, "You do not want to do that, sir." Vince seemed to lose a little of his mojo for a few seconds, then he huffed and puffed. The crowd, as confused as me about who's supposed to be the heel here, chanted "RKO, RKO." As Vince began to say "You're fired!" he only got to "You're" before Orton slapped him across the face. Vince went down in a heap. Orton then kicked McMahon in the face and then punt kicked him. "Get some help out here!" said Lawler. Orton covered his mouth, registering what he had done. Steph came out and broke the moment with campy overacting, screaming and belching out, "Help! Help!" Medics walked in and began to put Vince on a stretcher as Orton staggered backwards with his hands covering his face in fear of the ramifications of what he had just done. Cody and DiBiase walked out and talked Orton out of the ring. They replayed the kick from a couple angles. It was stiff, showing that McMahon will do anything that other performers in his company do, except take drug tests.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Mixed feelings. It's a memorable final angle. But what does it have to do with the Royal Rumble? Specifically, it's not focused. In general, you want to tune in to see the Rumble to see if Orton is still in it, I suppose. But it's really a big picture angle, not a PPV-oriented angle. Even worse, who in the hell is cast here as the babyface and heel. Do the McMahons believe their demeanor and actions are anything close to admirable, heroic, babyface-like? Are they that out of touch? Or are they supposed to be heels, and did they just turn their top two heel wrestlers - Jericho and Orton - babyface? Mixed signals were sent, and the crowd had a mixed reaction, too. So it's a newsworthy, memorable show, and there was enough other good stuff on it to hard-sell the Rumble on Sunday that it accomplished that, but Vince and Steph aren't in a match, and the final 15 minutes of the show was focused on them. Orton's performance was stellar. So was Jericho's. Steph is still a mixed bag. Vince was Vince, over the top but attention-grabbing in a good way within the WWE world. All of those short matches were really irritating.

Send your thoughts on Raw for our Reader Reax feature to: pwtorch@gmail.com. Be sure to include your name, hometown, occupation (optional), 0-10 score, picks for best and worst segments, and a brief paragraph of thoughts on the show. Thanks!

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