The John Report: The Raw Deal for 02/01/10 (Vince/Bret Confrontation)

The John Report: The Raw Deal for 02/01/10 (Vince/Bret Confrontation)
Welcome to the Raw Deal. The links to my two Royal Rumble posts will be at the end. Commentfest will be added by about 1pmET Tuesday.

NOTE: Commentfest is posted on my blog as of 1:30pmET Tuesday. The link to that is HERE.

Before I start, I had some haters questioning the validity of the Mickie James photo that I posted over the weekend. Saying it was fake, things like that. Didn’t appreciate that, so I politely asked her to verify the validity of it. She didn’t have to, but she did it here saying: “Real. @my newburg signing. Lol.” Thanks Mickie. Class act. Laughter is key, kids.

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Live from Nashville, Tennessee this is the Raw Deal…

Right off the bat, did you notice The John Report sign at about 9:04pmET right by the bottom of the entrance? Thanks to JB and Rebecca McMurtry for bring it to the show. That’s the second week in a row a “TJR” sign has been in the building. Awesome. Love my readers. I’ll post the pic at the bottom of this column after my final thoughts on the show. They started out the show with Justin Roberts bringing out the Royal Rumble winner…

On this day I see clearly…Edge is back!
Great to see the Edgester (don’t worry, I’ll refrain from saying that again) back. He’s been missed by a lot of people, especially me. The crowd wasn’t fully behind him. I guess they didn’t get the memo that he was a face now. Too bad this show wasn’t in Canada, huh? He talked about how motivated he was to get back after Jericho ripped him at the Slammys. He also ripped Dennis Miller’s shitty hosting job probably because of Miller making fun of Vince giving him joke advice. You think Vince forgets stuff like this? Of course not. Edge said Jericho has his Slammy (plus his mugshot on TMZ – haha that was great), but Edge has his title shot at Mania. He wondered who he should challenge when Sheamus came out. Edge called him Ronald McDonald. Now the crowd was firmly behind him because they hate Sheamus. He basically said Edge can’t beat him, a brawl ensued and Edge was able to gain control by laying him out with a spear. I thought it was a pretty good segment that brought Edge back into the mix nicely. His permanent home is Smackdown, but it’s okay to bring a SD guy to Raw once a while like this. I liked the Sheamus/Edge interaction too. I don’t think they’ll have a match at WrestleMania, but Edge could have good matches with a guy like Sheamus, I’m sure.

Also, Edge being the “Rated R” superstar in PG WWE isn’t new. I had emails about this. When he was main eventing PPVs against Undertaker in 2008, especially the great HIAC match at Summerslam, it was PG. The match was great, but I wish it had blood. It didn’t because of the PG rating. The PG rating has been around for two years now, so the Rated R gimmick can work now as it has before. They need to play up Edge’s humor because he’s a funny guy. They can’t do it too much, though, or else it’ll hurt the seriousness of his return.

They announced there would be qualifying matches to determine five challengers to Sheamus’ WWE Title in the Elimination Chamber match at the…newly named Elimination Chamber PPV. In other words, at the Rumble you had to beat 29 guys to get a title shot. On Raw all you had to beat was one guy to get a title shot.

Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: John Cena d. Cody Rhodes (*3/4)
Gee, I wonder who will win here? They worked a very fast style from the get go, which should let you know it’s going to be a short match. Cody hit a pretty moonsault about three minutes in. Cena no-sold it a couple seconds later and finished him off with the Attitude Adjustment for the win. By the way, Cole said it was OUT OF NOWHERE~! although that’s stretching it a bit. Lastly, who told Cody that purple tights were a good idea? Is he hoping to join Men on a Mission now?

Survivor Series 1997 video package. There were two other video packages during the show hyping the Vince/Bret showdown.

They showed Vince backstage talking to somebody off screen. He told the “Canadian” to “get it off his chest.” Obviously they’re trying to tell us it was Bret Hart, but no, it was guest host William Shatner. Shatner said to him in Shatner-ese (slow talking with pauses) that he can’t wait for Bret to embarrass Vince later in the night. Vince sold it with some anger saying, “lousy guest hosts.” Can’t he just end guest hosts or am I stupid for even asking a question? Yeah, I’m stupid. Let’s move on.

Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Triple H d. Jack Swagger (*1/4)
Cue the “has Swagger found HHH’s gym?” jokes! Hunter came out to his “Game” theme song. Why do the announcers spend time talking about how impressive Swagger has been on Raw? He’s barely been used for the past three months and when he has been used he was being embarrassed by Santino. The only exception was when he beat up Santino last week from behind. Don’t insult our intelligence. The match was pretty boring even though they got ten minutes. I don’t know if I should blame HHH or Swagger for it, but I’m sure they’ll blame Swagger. It just didn’t work. It ended after Swagger did some taunting by pointing at the WM26 with HHH on his shoulders leading to a Pedigree for the win for that HHH guy that never gets title shots. Good to see him finally getting a shot.

Next up they aired a great William Shatner video where he’s reading the lyrics of WWE theme songs. It was classic. I was laughing my ass off. My favorite part was when he went nuts saying “Mysterioso! Mysterioso!” I enjoyed it immensely. Too bad he didn’t do Orton’s song. This is the kind of humor that works for me. It silly, straight to the point humor right here. Here’s the video in case you missed it. If it gets taken down, what can I say? Blame WWE.

Backstage, DX had a talk backstage. It was basically Hunter telling Shawn to go win the next match and get the Rumble out of his head because it’s making him go nuts. It was an effective segment. Best part of it? Hunter told Hornswoggle to go away so they could talk. That was great. If his match didn’t stink I’d give Hunter star of the night for that.

Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Randy Orton d. Shawn Michaels (**1/4)
Considering the match that followed this one, how is this a qualifying match when they are two of your top four guys? Obviously we know why it was, but it doesn’t make sense if you’re having a ten man tournament and if you were ranking the guys based on talent level. Whatever. It was a vintage “beat up HBK’s back” storyline until Michaels made his comeback with the big elbow drop. When Michaels went to do the kip up, Orton grabbed him out of mid-air (or OUT OF NOWHERE~!) and rolled him up for the three count. Thirteen years ago Shawn Michaels famously said to the locker room that he’s not losing to anybody and now he’s losing 7 minute matches on rollups. Michaels did an awesome job of selling his frustration, going nuts at ringside a little bit and walking away angrily as everybody in the crowd felt sad for him.

What’s next? He’ll probably find a way to get into the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match to screw the Undertaker out of the title. Jericho will get the belt there, Edge will challenge him at Mania and Undertaker will want Michaels because he cost him the title. It works.

They showed a live band performing across the street from the arena. It should have been Mickie James-Canton singing her country music, but no, it was some random chick. I should be her agent too.

Backstage, Ted Dibiase apologized for Rhodes’ screw up at the Rumble and then said congrats for the win earlier in the night. Orton looked at him, said nothing and walked off. Dibiase, star of The Marine 2 that probably did poorly since there’s been no mention about its success, looked sternly to end the segment.

Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Ted Dibiase d. Mark “Kool-Aid” Henry (1/2*)
SOMEBODY GET YOUR THIRST QUENCHED~! KOOL-AID TIME! See what I mean? This match is on equal footing with Orton vs. Michaels? Dibiase won after a single arm DDT after working on the arm for much of the match. Yes, a whole one minute of arm action softened a 450 pound man enough to beat him. Dibiase’s in the Elimination Chamber match where he has absolutely no chance of winning, but he has plenty of chance to cost Orton the match.

They showed clips of Jack Brisco, who passed away at age 68. He wrestled before my time, but I’ve seen a few matches over the years and heard great stories from a lot of people I admire in wrestling (like Jim Ross, Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels) talking about how great he was. It was nice of them to have the video package for him as well as the clip from the Hall of Fame in 2008 that showed the superstars reacting to him. All the best to the Brisco family.

Backstage, Gail Kim and Kelly Kelly were trying to look like they were really talking when Maryse came up to them. Maryse mentioned the feud on Smackdown being so personal (it was also good) and she didn’t want that. She wanted to simply have a good match…whenever the match is. Next week? I’m pretty sure they advertised it earlier in the day. Guess that was changed. Maryse walked off spouting her French (she basically said she’s going to be the champion) as Kelly the genius wondered what that was about.

In Shatner’s office, The Miz & Big Show – tag team partners and best friends all of a sudden that I’ll be calling Showmiz – were chilling when CM Punk, Luke Gallows and Serena (don’t call me Williams) walked in. They talked about how they deserved a tag team title match. Wait, those belts still exist? Shatner came in and they threw in a cheesy “Role: Match Negotiator” graphic like in his TV ads that I don’t really watch because I hate commercials and watch most of my stuff on DVR. Even though Gallows & Punk earned the title shot (and were never given a match), they are somehow booked into a triple threat next week against DX and Showmiz. Shatner ended it by wanting a freeze frame except he didn’t get it. The whole thing was just okay in terms of the comedy.

Hunter the pep talker told Shawn he can do something else at Mania and that there are plenty of other guys to wrestle at Mania. Shawn ended it by saying, “Not for me.” I thought Michaels was great all night.

They plugged Stacy Keibler being on USA Network’s show Psych. She might guest host in the future although we don’t know when. She’s got legs and she knows how to use them apparently.

Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Kofi Kingston d. Big Show via DQ (3/4*)
Miz was out doing commentary. MVP jumped over the railing to chase Miz out of there. Way to book the black guy as a petty thug during Black History Month, WWE! Kingston slipped on the top rope at one point. I’m sure people will make the Orton “STUPID~!” jokes, but it’s just a slip. It happens. They worked through it. It wasn’t a great match by any means. It was hard for Kofi to do any offense on Show even though the big guy was a willing seller. The finish came when they were in the corner, Kofi accidently hit Show between the eyes and Show KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT~! out of the ref although you could see it barely made contact if it did at all. Another ref, Scott Armstrong, came in and DQ’d Show for hitting the official even though everybody could tell it was an accident. It was made even funnier (unintentionally) when Show walked to the back yelling “IT WAS AN ACCIDENT” at the top of his lungs. I’m having Snitsky flashbacks.

The six men in the Raw Elimination Chamber Match at the Elimination Chamber PPV are: Sheamus, Cena, HHH, Orton, Dibiase and Kingston. I think they’ll book it with HHH starting the match, Sheamus being the sixth guy and it comes down to those two at the end with Sheamus scoring the pin on the tired HHH. That would set up the singles match for the title at Mania.

Next week: NASCAR’s Carl Edwards is the guest host, which probably means some poorly acted “comedy” bits. I hate those. Also DX vs. Punk/Gallows vs. Showmiz for the titles that never get defended.

The Bret Hart/Vince McMahon confrontation
William Shatner came out, after tripping through the ropes intentionally into Lawler like some stage comic, to introduce his good friend Bret Hart. Both are Canadian. Hart grabbed the microphone as Shatner bailed. Bret talked about wanting to have closure when he was there on January 4th, but tonight he was there to kick Vince’s ass for what he did. Bret said “ass” a few times and it got bleeped. That’s vintage 1994. I wonder if Bret said ass because he felt natural doing it, or if Vince okayed it? I’ll assume Vince okayed it otherwise it was Bret saying what felt normal. Vince came out saying he didn’t regret anything he’s done and Bred said that’s the first honest thing he’s said to him because Vince is the greatest liar. Hart referenced Cena’s promo from last week and said that he’s come a long way from the stroke he suffered eight years. He said when he got up from the wheelchair he vowed to never feel pathetic for the rest of his life. The crowd popped huge. You could tell that was from the heart. Vince said Bret’s not a hero to anybody and that he had zero personality. He mentioned guys like Michaels, Austin and Mr. Perfect carrying him up the card because of their personalities. Then he ripped on him for his lack of charisma, lack of command of the Englinsh language and the stringy hair on his head. Vince said last time they talked he mentioned that Stu Hart could be in WWE’s Hall of Fame, but that he changed his mind and he deserved it. Yeah, he’s no Koko B. Ware! You tell him. (I’m being sarcastic, people. If you ever ask me about the Hall of Fame, I will say it’s a joke and I will point at a poor jobber like Ware as the perfect example of that.)

The comment about his dad was the last straw, so Bret went after Vince. He pulled his coat over his head and threw some hockey style punches. The punches didn’t look great, but he’s definitely rusty. He went for the Sharpshooter. Before he could do that, Batista came into the ring in his wrestling gear. No spear. He gently took Hart down, and then threw some gentle punches at him. He was being really careful, which is good. Batista held Bret up as Vince spit in his face, an homage to what happened at Survivor Series 1997 when Bret spit on Vince. The crowd was chanting “Cena! Cena!” I thought for sure he was coming out. Instead, we got nothing. The show ended with Bret Hart down in a heap again. I thought the angle worked really well. Batista’s interference was surprising to me, but I understand why they did it.

I’m assuming that the plan is to not do Hart vs. McMahon now. They could change it to either Cena & Hart vs. McMahon & Batista or just Cena vs. Batista with Hart in Cena’s corner while Batista goes in Vince’s corner. I think they can do the key spot with Bret putting Vince in the sharpshooter without doing the singles match. If Bret’s not in good enough condition to have the match (and remember Vince is 64 years old) then they might as well make it a tag or simply put him in Cena’s corner.

Three Stars of the Show
1. Shawn Michaels – I’m loving this angle. He’s playing it perfectly.
2. Edge – He cut a great promo even if the crowd didn’t react like they should have.
3. (tie) Bret Hart – His promo felt real. It worked really well.
3. (tie) William Shatner – This man rocked. He’s 78 years old too. What a performer.

BONUS STARS: JB and his wife Rebecca McMurtry for “The John Report” sign that made it out there. I know that I said if you get a sign on you get to be one of the stars, but I had to honor the guys on Raw for putting on a hell of a show. Bonus stars are still good, right? I think so. Thanks so much for doing that!

7.5 out of 10
Last week: 6.5

I gave Smackdown an 8, the Royal Rumble a 7 and now Raw a 7.5. It’s been a very good four days for WWE TV. What was so good about this show? The matches got actual time. There were no lame attempts at humor. Most of the humor on this show worked because Shatner pulled it off. The interview segments, from Edge’s return to the Bret/Vince showdown, worked very well. Every week on Raw there seems to be a few segments that waste our time. This week? I didn’t feel that bad about anything. The matches weren’t good enough to make it higher than a 7.5 (maybe the highest grade I’ve given Raw since starting my reviews last May), but I still really liked the show.

Congrats WWE. This is what happens when you book ahead (like they have for Mania) and there’s a sense of direction with what you have planned. Some weeks it feels like the show is written on a napkin in the hotel lobby a few hours before the show. If we can have Raw be this good every week I’ll be a happy wrestling fan. Sorry, sports entertainment fan.

Here’s the pic from the show at the four minute mark.

There’s a lot of redness in the image, but it was the best I could find on short notice (thanks to CJ Duncan). It works.

Anybody going to Raw in Lafayette, Louisiana next week? Bring a sign!

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NOTE: Commentfest is posted on my blog as of 1:30pmET Tuesday. The link to that is HERE.

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As promised, the link to the Royal Rumble recap that I wrote live on Sunday night is HERE featuring star ratings for the matches and a final grade. Then, on Monday afternoon I wrote another piece on the Rumble HERE that went in more depth on some Rumble happenings. I also threw in a Rumblefest that’s similar to what I do with Raw’s commentfest for some laughs.

It’s been a great week for WWE. Let’s hope they can keep the momentum rolling into Smackdown this week too. I’m pumped for a Jericho/Edge confrontation. Like usual I’ll be back for that on Saturday and during the week I’ll cover other stuff exclusively on my blog too including my Super Bowl pick on Thursday. Oh, I might even write about Lost after tomorrow night. Two hours of Lost. It’s back, baby. Woo! This week is awesome.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – oratoryjohn@gmail.com
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