WWE Raw Report
The Big News: John Cena “made his last Raw appearance” and Miz won the WWE title.
Nexus, minus John Cena, came out to start the show. Wade Barrett said that Cena was willing to sacrifice his career to do what he thought was right. However, Barrett added that he didn’t have a chance to win the title because Cena was biased and decided in advance he wasn’t going to win. Barrett claimed in the history of WWE an official has never been allowed to place his hands on a competitor, which is just nonsense with referees kicking heels’ hands off the ropes and shoving them backwards when they get in the official’s face literally hundreds of times over the years.
Barrett said that Cena shoving him was unfair and unprofessional. Thus, he wanted another shot at Randy Orton’s title with a neutral referee. Three seconds elapsed and the GM sent back a verbose speech in response. It really would help the GM gimmick if they tried to construct e-mails that sounded like they were written on the fly as opposed to long-winded pontifications. Good dialogue needs to feel authentic and real. The anonymous GM never does. The GM announced Orton vs. Barrett for the title on Raw. Barrett then said he would let Cena appear on Raw to say his final words.
They announced that the King of the Ring tournament will take place next week on Raw. This show featured four qualifying matches and Smackdown will feature four more. Qualifying matches for a tournament are always a good idea to make it feel important. Michael Cole then introduced CM Punk as the third member of the Raw broadcast team. I thought he showed promise for the role on NXT as he is of course a great talker.
Sheamus beat R. Truth in a King of the Ring qualifier. Truth is back to his old What’s Up song. His new song was awful, but a hip hop character doing the same tired song with the same tired hook for years on end is so profoundly uncool. They should hire someone talented to ghostwrite and produce a new song for him.
There were dueling chants here and I expect Sheamus to get increasingly positive reactions in the coming months the way he has been booked. Sheamus worked over Truth’s shoulder. Truth came back with a dropkick off the top. However, Sheamus quickly cut him off with the Brogue kick and razor’s edge for the pin. This was a long match but rather dull.
Lay Cool arrived at the building but were turned away by a security guard because they aren’t Raw wrestlers. Too bad that security guard didn’t travel to four of the last five Raws when Smackdown wrestlers appeared without explanation. A lack of basic consistency in a story is a gigantic turnoff to anyone paying attention. Natalya arrived but told security she didn’t know them and they were forced to leave.
Elsewhere, Santino was upset about losing the tag title match at Survivor Series. Vladimir Kozlov tried to cheer him up but he wasn’t having it. Then Tamina came in to sing a song for Santino. They kissed and Tamina told Santino to call her. He felt better.
Then in another vignette, Orton said Cena called his match fairly and that he respects Cena. He added that it didn’t matter who refereed the match with Barrett, because he guaranteed Barrett wouldn’t leave Raw with the title. I think that was intended to be a little hint from the writers as to the end of the show.
Ezekiel Jackson beat Alex Riley in a King of the Ring qualifier. This was announced as Miz vs. Jackson but Riley said that Miz suffered an anxiety attack and Riley would take his place. I didn’t like this at the time because Miz blowing off the tournament seemingly made the tournament seem unimportant. However, the end of the show tied this together perfectly and there’s nothing wrong with the world title being prioritized over the King of the Ring. Jackson won with clotheslines and a uranage. Cena was then briefly shown backstage saying goodbyes.
Next up was John Cena’s farewell, which I found insufferable. Cena came out smiling and happy. He said that he’s fired and then became solemn. He talked about how much he respects the business and wrestlers of the past. He said his goal was always to get the older wrestlers to respect him. It always bugs me in these segments when wrestlers try to put over how much they love the wrestling business but have to abide by the ban of the term “wrestling.” It’s an odd way of showing respect for the past.
Cena said he has gotten to travel the world and live out his fantasy. He said he wouldn’t let Nexus ruin the greatest nine years of his life. He noted that WWE was a big part of his life and then it became his life. He noted he missed the birth of his brother’s child and his mother’s birthday is coming up. He said he would go home to tell his mom he loves her and see his brother’s kid. His eyes started tearing up.
Cena encouraged the women and children in the audience to say “let’s go Cena” and the men to say “Cena sucks.” He then told Barrett to stop taking shortcuts and give everything he has. He thanked the fans and left. They delayed forever to find a few fans who seemed mildly sad surrounded by smiling and unaffected people who weren’t buying a bit of this. Cena left backstage and everyone clapped for him. He hugged Orton and walked out. Barrett did the “you can’t see me” gesture.
I find it fundamentally insulting that despite the fact they’ve done a million phony retirements, Cena isn’t going to be gone for literally even a few weeks, and nobody buys the stipulation in the first place that they are still so arrogant and think so little of their audience’s intelligence that they try to really hard sell another fake retirement. Even Cena the character is a liar, selling this big departure huge and tugging on his fans’ heartstrings when he is planning to come back before the end of the show. Cena the character is essentially Brett Favre and at least there the retirements weren’t orchestrated by his team in an effort to sell tickets.
Selling pay-per-views based on a stipulation you have absolutely no intention of abiding by has always been sleazy. It’s been done so often it’s stupid because it doesn’t even pop business any more. And to try to turn the whole thing into a big heartfelt deal designed to play on real emotions is not only insulting and ineffective but undermines fans’ ability to emotionally invest in anything you do as significant and real.
Daniel Bryan beat Ted DiBiase in a very brief King of the Ring qualifier. Brie Bella came out to encourage Bryan as he was entering the ring. She watched the match at ringside. Bryan got the LeBell lock quickly and DiBiase submitted.
Natalya beat Alicia Fox. Alicia pulled out Natalya’s hair extensions, which was weird. Natalya hit a delayed vertical suplex lifting Alicia up and down. That was a cool spot. She then applied the sharpshooter and Alicia tapped out. Backstage, Melina and John Morrison reunited with Melina wishing him luck and slapping his ass.
John Morrison beat Tyson Kidd in a King of the Ring qualifier. Kidd hit stomps and kicks. Morrison came back with springboard kick and starship pain for the win. The terrible booking of Hart Dynasty continues. The heel in a tag team breakup simply shouldn’t be jobbing to someone else the first week after the turn. Even if you have no plans for Kidd, at least give him a win over a jobber and then have David Hart Smith be the first to beat him cleanly in two weeks to give Smith a little bit of momentum.
Randy Orton beat Wade Barrett to retain the WWE title. Nexus jumped Orton coming to the ring, so Orton was selling his knee big. The GM announced Nexus was banned from ringside, but Punk and Lawler pointed out the damage was already done. Barrett went after Orton’s knee, worked it over, and finally hit wasteland. He had Orton covered but Cena ran out of the crowd and pulled the referee out of the ring. He gave Barrett the FU and left. Orton then hit the RKO for the win.
At that point, Miz came out and cashed in Money in the Bank. Miz went after the leg just like Barrett. Orton tried to fight him off with punches but Miz did some damage and sent the leg into the post. Orton came back with clotheslines, a European uppercut and a powerslam. He went for the RKO but Miz reversed into the skull crushing finale for the pin. So Miz is the new champion. They then cut to a girl looking infuriated at this turn of events. It was absolutely hilarious; check it out (thanks to Paul Sebert on the board)
I thought this was a mixed bag of a show. I really liked Miz winning the title at the end and think giving him a run with the title is going to make the show feel fresher and more exciting. It was also very well set up. I really disliked the Cena stuff. And the rest of the show was mostly just there.
I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving. Well, those who celebrate it and celebrate it this week, anyway.