The first Monday Night Raw of 2014 is an Old School edition. Old School Raw is an idea that’s always fun, as it guarantees the appearance of some old legends, and we are sure to see some of those guys tonight.
Ric Flair, Randy Orton John Cena promo/Jerry Lawler update
Old School Raw opens with the “Nature Boy”. He hypes up the night, and really gets the crowd going. He drops the mic and starts strutting around the ring, when out comes Randy Orton.
Orton thanks Flair for everything Flair did for him when he broke into the business. Orton then turns on him and says that while he is a legend, it is not Flair’s time, or any of the legend’s time, it’s Randy Orton’s time. Then he respectfully kicks Flair out of the ring.
Orton turns his attention to John Cena, and demands that The Authority revoke Cena’s rematch, but Flair interjects. Flair says when he was champion, he defended it at every turn, and Orton must do the same if he wants to be great. Orton does not take kindly to this and his respect for Flair begins to go away. Orton wants Flair to realize that times were different when Flair was champion because it was so long ago. Flair says that he saw a lot in Orton when Orton first arrived on the scene, but he’s not sure if Orton ever proved he was truly a man. Orton begins to threaten Flair, and Flair doesn’t back down, when Cena comes to the ring.
Cena puts over Flair’s resume, and says that Orton has a lot more to prove before he can even think to talk to Flair like that. Cena challenges Orton to a fight, and Orton leaves with his titles.
After the segment was over, we saw the announce table for the first time tonight. Just Michael Cole and JBL, Cole tells the audience that Jerry Lawler is under the weather, but he has been checked by doctors and he is fine.
My Take: Flair, Orton and Cena were all on point in this one. Flair still gets the crowd going and it’s always good to see him. Not much story progression though, as Flair took center stage for the most part.
Daniel Bryan, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan vs. The Usos and Rey Mysterio
Daniel Bryan appears in new gear, very similar to Erick Rowan’s. Bryan first gets in the ring with Mysterio, didn’t get a lot of time, but it was as awesome as expected. Late in the match, Bryan tags in, much to Rowan’s disdain, then Luke Harper immediately does the same thing to Bryan, the two argue, and it leads to Harper getting rolled up for the loss.
My Take: Seeing Bryan appear with these guys is definitely going to take some getting used to. Bray Wyatt has a great gimmick, he’s the most over guy in his group, before Bryan came along, and all he does is sit in a rocking chair. The dissension in The Wyatt Family was very interesting, this may not last very long. I didn’t expect them to lose, but this was a great way to do it.
Batista announcement/Brad Maddox announces special guest referee for The Great Khali vs. Damien Sandow/Kane promo/Big E Langston backstage
Lot of short segments here.
Michael Cole announces that Batista will enter the Royal Rumble.
Brad Maddox is backstage announcing a special guest referee vote for later on, the candidates are Bob Backlund, Arn Anderson and Sgt. Slaughter.
Kane then appears and tells Maddox that he heard what Maddox had to say about him last week, and tells him that if he ever feels the need to put his hands on Maddox, he would be fired, but Maddox would never be seen again.
Big E Langston is walking round backstage, while back there, he runs into Nikolai Volkoff singing, The Million Dollar Man flirting with Aksana, and IRS, who reminds him to do his taxes.
My Take: Not much of a surprise here, Batista returning the Monday before the Rumble seemed to be setting this up.
More “Old School” guests, Backlund, Anderson and Slaughter, each getting a nice pop from the crowd.
Kane can still be very scary, despite his new, clean look.
Even more old school guests. WWE doesn’t do this very often, and that’s why it does so well with this crowd when they do it.
Big E Langston vs. Curtis Axel (Ryback on commentary)
Big E beats Axel, yet again, even despite the distraction from Ryback.
My Take: I mentioned in my recap of this past Friday’s SmackDown that WWE was doing a good job of putting Superstars on commentary, only if they were good at it and belonged there. They failed on that here with Ryback. Big E and Axel are quickly becoming another example of an over-saturated feud, and it’s so much worse when one guy dominates the entire feud.
Piper’s Pit with The Shield/CM Punk and The New Age Outlaws
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper comes out, but before he could introduce his guests, they make their entrance. As usual, Dean Ambrose speaks first, and he insults Piper’s age. Piper gets in Ambrose’s face and says only one man can match him on the microphone, CM Punk. Tempers flare and Rollins starts to separate them. Rollins then tells Ambrose not to worry about Piper, because Ambrose is a much better champion than Piper ever was. Piper responds by telling Rollins and Ambrose they can’t beat Punk. Then he asks Reigns if he beats Punk later tonight, does that make Reigns the best member of The Shield. Reigns says he will beat Punk, but there is no messing with The Shield. The Shield get ready to attack Piper and Punk’s music hits as he emerges with The New Age Outlaws.
My Take: Piper’s always awesome, and he’s right, only Punk can match him on the mic. The Shield did a good job of playing to the dissension but completely ignoring it. Punk and the Outlaws got a nice pop, it’s always fun to see the Outlaws.
This segment did a very nice job of building to Punk and Reigns in the main event tonight.
Sin Cara vs. Alberto Del Rio/Del Rio promo
Del Rio wins on the least impressive Superkick of all time.
After the match, Del Rio claims he will win the Royal Rumble, and he will make sure to eliminate Batista, because Batista is getting too much attention.
My Take: Yet, another example of seeing the same thing too much. Hunico definitely brings something to the Sin Cara character, but he has a long way to go to improve the character’s reputation. Del Rio’s win was just as expected as it was interesting. Del Rio still generates no interest from the crowd, it’s actually impressive how many combined days he has held a world title when you compare his crowd reaction to Daniel Bryan’s.
Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt promo
Speaking of Bryan, he is backstage talking to Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, with Bray Wyatt conspicuously absent, and he says he is here to learn. He says he can also teach, because he tagged with Kane and won the tag titles, and Kane has a lot of similarities to Harper and Rowan. Bryan voices his desire to tag with one of them next week, when Wyatt appears and says that he will be tagging with Bryan next week.
My Take: Wyatt is going to use this opportunity to teach Bryan a lesson, we are going to find out a lot about the future of this storyline when that match takes place.
The Real Americans vs. The Brotherhood
Goldust gets the win in a very good tag team match-up.
My Take: Both teams are so over, but you can see that Goldust’s “old school” appeal is starting to wear off, ironic considering the theme of the night. He is in need of a change, and if the WrestleMania rumors are true, then he may be getting it soon. This match was good, but eventually The Brotherhood are going to start to experience some losses, and that probably should have started here.
Booker T, DDP and Ron Simmons backstage
Booker T and DDP talk about DDP Yoga and how Booker T stays in shape. As usual for Ron Simmons, the characters on screen end up in an interesting position, when he appears to utter his signature phrase, “DAMN!”
My Take: DDP’s always fun, as is Booker T, even though Booker’s seen far more often. Not much beats Simmons’ “DAMN!” though.
Damien Sandow vs. The Great Khali (Sgt. Slaughter as special guest referee)
Sgt. Slaughter wins the fan vote. Ranjin Singh makes an appearance as Khali’s manager. Khali wins as Slaughter makes the count with Sandow’s foot on the ropes, so this isn’t over. After the match, Sandow goes to attack Slaughter and Slaughter locks in the Cobra Clutch.
My Take: Not good at all, it never is when Khali’s involved. Good news though, with the shady ending, they will be back next week.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman promo
Heyman talks about old school, and how Bruno Sammartino used to reign supreme, then Hulk Hogan, then Stone Cold Steve Austin, and now it is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Whether it is Randy Orton or John Cena after the Royal Rumble, that man will have a target on his back that Brock Lesnar will be aiming for. Heyman begins to mock Mark Henry for the beating he took last week. Out comes Henry.
Henry enters the ring and him and Lesnar brawl, until Lesnar locks in the Kimura Lock and snaps Henry’s arm.
As Lesnar and Heyman make their way to the back, Big Show makes his entrance, and Lesnar quickly back peddles and re-enters the ring. When Show enters the ring, Lesnar climbs out. while Show’s in the ring, Heyman tries to distract him, and Lesnar goes to attack, but gets thrown halfway across the ring.
After the commercial: Michael Cole reports that Lesnar dislocated and fractured Henry’s arm.
My Take: The World’s Strongest Man came out to attack Lesnar two straight weeks, and he got easily destroyed twice. So, how strong is he?
Show looked good, and these guys didn’t do too much, which is good with two weeks remaining before the Royal Rumble. Show is a good opponent for Lesnar. Lesnar’s already said he doesn’t want to be in the Rumble, but he needs a match for the pay-per-view. Show would be a good opponent, because he doesn’t need to be in the Rumble either.
The Bella Twins vs. Alicia Fox and Aksana
Another Total Divas vs. other Divas match. At least there is some sort of story between Nikki and Aksana. Aksana pins Brie after a missed dropkick from the second rope.
My Take: Divas are just not very good, all their matches are filler, and it feels like forever since we’ve seen their champion, AJ Lee. To her credit, Brie actually garnered some crowd reaction.
3MB vs. Too Cool and Rikishi/Legends on stage/Bad News Barrett promo
Heath Slater makes his return. As does the team of Rikishi, Scotty Too Hotty, and Grandmaster Sexay. Scotty hit the worm on Drew McIntyre.
After this match, all the legends came out on stage and Justin Roberts announced all of them. Bad News Barrett then emerged with his fancy podium. Barrett talks about the failure of flea markets due to these legends being unavailable.
My Take: The crowd wasn’t completely into Too Cool, until Scotty hit the worm, that really woke them up. The crowd also loved Rikishi’s hot tag. This is exactly what Old School Raw should be about, as the legends get the win. Also pretty cool to see Rikishi wearing his sons’ shirt.
Bad News Barrett is getting worse.
Mean Gene Okerlund promo/The New Age Outlaws
Okerlund comes out and does an ad for his old hotline, before he introduces the Outlaws. They go through their usual personal introduction before introducing CM Punk.
My Take: Okerlund was very funny talking about his hotline. The Outlaws always get a great reaction, crowd still knows all the words to Road Dogg’s intro. Perfect work for the Outlaws, they got to get in the ring for a short appearance when they attacked with Punk before. Now they got to do their usual act, including introducing Punk.
CM Punk vs. Roman Reigns/Jake “The Snake” Roberts appearance
Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring now. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are jawing at the Outlaws, who stayed at ringside in Punk’s corner.
After Punk hits the “Macho Man” elbow, Ambrose tries to distract the ref. Road Dogg attacks him, but Ambrose throws him into the steps, Billy Gunn takes out Ambrose, but Rollins does the same to Gunn. Out of nowhere, Punk hits Rollins with a suicide dive. Punk hits the running knee in the corner, when he goes for the follow-up bulldog, Reigns throws Punk into Ambrose on the apron, Punk takes out Ambrose but walks into a spear and Reigns gets the win.
As The Shield stand tall, Jake “The Snake” Roberts comes out. The Shield are wary of him and the snake, which allows the Outlaws and Punk to attack them from behind. Punk hits Ambrose with the GTS, as Ambrose is laid out in the ring, Roberts lets the snake loose on him.
My Take: Punk is really good at making the big guys look menacing and dominate. He does a good job of that here with Reigns. Reigns does a very good job of selling as well, that’s something that has been evident for a while. Reigns getting the win was a bit predictable. As for Roberts, he has voiced his desire to enter this year’s Royal Rumble, and many fans have supported him. It appears as if those people may have gotten their wish.
Very good episode of Raw. Some build towards the Royal Rumble, but the main draw was the appearance of the legends. Almost everything connected on this episode, but there is still a ways to go before the annual January pay-per-view.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on tonight’s show. Please leave them in the comments section below.