WWE Raw Report
The Big News: Shawn Michaels gave a touching speech following his loss at WrestleMania 26.
Batista came out to start the show. He said that he wouldn’t give the people the satisfaction of watching him complain. He claimed WrestleMania was a fluke, and the crowd chanted “you tapped out.” Batista said he has a rematch, which brought out John Cena.
Cena obnoxiously bragged about beating Batista, leading to loud “Cena sucks” chants. Cena of course suggested they have a title rematch on Raw, like they do every single month. Batista of course declined, like they do every single month. Cena and Batista then fought. They blew it big time by having Cena win at Mania. They had a cool story with Cena unable to beat Batista and now it’s just two of the same main eventers trading wins like always. And it furthers resentment towards Cena as well.
Things got worse. Jack Swagger jumped John Cena from behind. He hit Cena over and over and over again with the Money in the Bank briefcase. He said he was cashing in Money in the Bank. Then as the referee came to the ring Cena immediately countered Swagger with the STF. Swagger desperately escaped to the outside and said he wasn’t using his shot after all as Cena laughed at him.
Why even have Swagger win Money in the Bank if you’re just going to treat him as an incompetent, worthless buffoon who can’t gain a second’s advantage after hitting someone with a briefcase a half dozen times? Don’t you have enough ways to comically bury the midcard without using what has previously been an effective elevation tool in the process?
Christian beat Ted DiBiase Jr. in a legends lumberjack match. Guest hosts Clark Duke and Rob Corddry (who I actually did recognize as a correspondent from the Daily Show) announced this match. Ted DiBiase Sr., IRS, Nick Bockwinkel, Pat Patterson, Arn Anderson, Roddy Piper, Sgt. Slaughter, Tony Garea, Ricky Steamboat and Jerry Lawler were the lumberjacks.
DiBiase used a kick and chin lock. He set up for Dream Street but Christian escaped and hit an elbow off the ropes. Christian went for the kill switch but DiBiase avoided it and they tumbled to the floor. The legends threw them back in the ring and in the process a brawl broke out amongst the legends. Christian hit the kill switch in the ring for the pin. Afterwards, Ted Jr. shoved Ted Sr. This was a fun segment.
Backstage, Tiffany, Rosa Mendes and the Bella twins were in a hot tub. The guest hosts said there would be a contest where the woman to stay in the hot tub the longest with them would win something, perhaps a women’s title shot. Later the Bellas were deemed the winners when Tiffany and Rosa were creeped out and left. The Bellas left too and Mark Henry and Hornswoggle came into the hot tub for “comedy.”
HHH came out to speak. He said that he didn’t think it would end this way for Shawn Michaels. He labeled it the end of an era. He added that it seemed like just yesterday that he entered WWE and met Michaels the first time. HHH said they took on the world. He got choked up and said there was something he always wanted to say to Shawn, but at that point Sheamus jumped him from behind with a pipe. HHH was very good here and the segment worked well.
Kelly, Mickie, Eve, Gail and Beth beat Alicia, Vickie, Layla, Michelle and Maryse. Eve just pinned Maryse immediately. And I mean literally immediately. They didn’t even bother with any moves; Eve just pinned her and that was that. There was a brawl afterwards. What a waste of a segment this was.
Bret Hart came out. He congratulated Shawn Michaels on his career. He said that it was a great feeling to beat the hell out of Vince McMahon at WrestleMania. He said he could feel high fives from Davey Boy Smith, Owen Hart and Stu Hart. Invoking Davey Boy there kind of rubbed me the wrong way given the horrible things Bret said about Davey Boy working for Vince after Owen’s death when Davey Boy needed the money a lot more than Bret does now. Bret said this is a great time for the Hart family, thanked the fans, waived and started to leave. This was a nice send off.
Show Miz interrupted, and they nicely tied Bret’s angle into a new tag title program. Miz called Bret a thief for robbing Miz of his time and his shine. Miz said he won at Mania and now he is 17 wins away from tying the Undertaker. He called Bret overrated and told Bret to leave. Bret told Miz to make him. Show and Miz were closing in when Hart Dynasty came out to make the save. Bret challenged Show Miz to take them on.
Hart Dynasty beat Show Miz via count out in a non title match. David Hart Smith hit a delayed vertical suplex on Miz and flipped Tyson Kidd into a somersault plancha on Miz. The heels took over on Kidd for a bit, before Kidd got the tag back to Smith. Smith hit a shoulder block and power slam on Miz and Hart Dynasty teamed for the Hart Attack. Kidd applied the sharpshooter but Show pulled Miz out of the ring and they left. Hart Dynasty worked well here as faces for the first time and I really liked this little angle from start to finish.
John Cena and Randy Orton beat Jack Swagger and Batista. Swagger posited before the match that he was just messing with Cena earlier and that when he cashes in the MITB he’ll be the favorite to take the title. Orton got a nice pop when introduced as Cena’s partner. I’ve always liked the spot in pro wrestling where the face turns to a longtime heel for help against other heels.
Cena hit a fisherman buster on Swagger and tagged Orton to use the Garvin stomp. The heels gained control on Cena with Swagger hitting a Vader bomb and Batista using an Irish whip, punches and kicks and a spine buster. Batista shook them ropes but Cena avoided the offense and tagged Orton. Orton gave Swagger a power slam and back breaker, gave Batista an RKO, and hit the RKO on Swagger for the pin. This furthered the “Jack Swagger is a total joke” theme for the evening. On the plus side, they do recognize they need to heat Orton up.
Shawn Michaels came out for the close of the show. If you’re one of the people that reads these reports but doesn’t usually watch the show, you should definitely make sure to watch this segment. It was one of the most memorable in Raw history.
Undertaker’s music interrupted Michaels before he could speak and Undertaker started to make his way to the ring. However, Undertaker then turned around and left. The crowd chanted “please don’t go” at Michaels. Michaels said he has been doing this since his early 20s and not doing it any more in his 40s will be tough to get used to. The crowd chanted “thank you Shawn.”
Michaels thanked the fans and said there was a time when the ring and the fans were all he had, the only time he felt good about himself. Michaels cried and said that the fans were the only people who ever made Shawn like himself. He thanked HHH for being his friend at a time when a lot of people didn’t want to be around him. He thanked the guys in the truck, the camera men, the announcers (he put over Jim Ross as the greatest announcer of all time), and the production and video guys.
The crowd chanted “one more match,” and this led to an all too rare occurrence in WWE these days of a performer genuinely interacting with the crowd on the microphone. He said that he knows how people feel about career ending match. He noted that he doesn’t want to go back on his word. He added that he wants to honor his word and will do everything in his power to make sure that one more match doesn’t happen.
Shawn thanked Bret Hart. He said that he drove Bret crazy in the 90s and Bret had every right to say the bad things he did about Shawn. He thanked Bret for accepting and believing that he had changed and giving Shawn the opportunity to show friendship. Shawn thanked Vince McMahon. He said he couldn’t work for anyone else and that he drove Vince crazy too. He said that Vince gave him the opportunity to do what he loves to do and kept him from making even bigger mistakes.
Shawn thanked the fans again. He said that he spent more time with the fans than with his family. He thanked Jesus Christ. He thanked his wife and children and said that daddy’s coming home. He concluded, “Shawn Michaels has left the building,” which was something they’d have the ring announcer say ala Elvis when he first turned heel. Michaels left to the back and hugged HHH on the stage.
Okay, so I came into this segment not expecting to be moved. I don’t believe for a minute Shawn Michaels has wrestled his last match and I’ve seen 8,000 fake retirements in pro wrestling. I remember Shawn Michaels delivering a tearful retirement speech way back in 1997 and was genuinely moved by it as a teenager only to see him return to wrestling a few months later. With that said, I ended up very touched by Shawn’s poignant speech.
Whether or not Michaels comes back, there’s nothing wrong with recognizing people who have brought you a lot of joy over the years. There’s more skepticism in pro wrestling because that sentiment is often exploited for financial gain, but ultimately this evening was more about remembrance of and appreciation for Michaels’ career than about a streak vs. career match.
The speech clearly meant a lot to Michaels. It felt honest and real, and even addressed the skepticism about wrestling retirements in a way that showed respect for the audience. I don’t know Michaels, but it seems like he really has grown up a lot over the years and is in a lot better place that he once was on a personal level.
I don’t know if there’s a wrestler I’ve ever enjoyed watching perform as much as Shawn Michaels. From the wrestling to the interviews to the charisma, he has always been such a dynamic performer. I will fondly remember countless matches and angles he did over the years, from television shows to PPVs to house shows at the Baltimore Arena and Capital Center where Michaels delivered PPV caliber matches and then danced all over the building celebrating with the fans.
Thanks, Shawn, for all the memories, regardless of whether or not you come back to provide a few more. And more importantly, I’m glad you seem to be moving away from the business in a good place personally and spiritually.
This was a great and very memorable show. There were a few things I didn’t like but plenty more that I did even putting aside the tremendous conclusion with Shawn Michaels.