WWE celebrates yet another milestone tonight. Tonight is the 20th anniversary of Monday Night Raw. Live from Houston, we'll celebrate 20 years of the flagship broadcast of WWE. What legends will make appearances tonight? It also looks to be a big night as Eve defends her Divas Championship against the hometown girl, Kaitlyn. Also, The Rock is slated to bring us another one of his Rock Concerts at some point in the evening. We get more build to the Royal Rumble as well.
WWE programming intro welcomes us to the show. We get a mashup of the various Raw opening montages through the past 20 years. Vince McMahon is in the ring after Cole introduces us to the show. He welcomes us to the 20th anniversary show.
He says we've seen a lot of things but we've seen 20 years of entertainment. Over 4 billion viewers have enjoyed Raw. Why? He says it's one reason and it's because Vince is a certifiable genius, and it's because of the fans. He thanks the fans and says they'll continue to make history tonight.
He sets up Cena vs. Ziggler in a steel cage. He says we'll have a Rock Concert with The Rock. He offers one more wish for enjoying the show but is interrupted by the Big Show, who is shaking his head as he comes to the ring.
Cole sells that Big Show is disgruntled and is a former World Heavyweight Champion. Show addresses Vince and says that the celebration has to wait and a travesty needs to be addressed.
Vince tells Show he doesn't like being interrupted or having someone like Show call him by his first name. Show backs up and says "Sir, we need to address what happened." Vince cuts Show off and says Show's been losing weight.
Show thanks Vince for the compliment and talks about cutting the carbs. Vince says he meant the World Heavyweight Championship. Show tries to stop Vince from playing footage of the title change, but Vince rolls it anyhow.
Show calls the last man standing rules not fair and says he wasn't prepared. He accuses Booker T of being jealous or shilling to the Latinos or something of that nature. He mentions his contract and says Booker and everyone else is inferior to him. Show tells Vince that as his giant, Vince should strip Alberto Del Rio of the title.
Ricardo comes to the stage and introduces Alberto Del Rio, who comes out with the title belt around his waist. Del Rio suggests giving Show a rematch tonight for the World Heavyweight Championship. The fans chant "si", but Show says no. Del Rio challenges Show to grow some cojones for once in his life, but Show doesn't want to waste the rematch in Houston.
Show proposes they have the rematch at the Royal Rumble. He says people won't talk about Rock and Punk, or who wins the Rumble. They'll be talking about Big Show. Show says he'll knock out Del Rio and tells Del Rio to enjoy his 15 minutes.
Del Rio calls Show something in Spanish and Show asks for translation. Del Rio calls him a fat jackass. Show asks Vince if he's okay with the champion insulting Show like that.
Del Rio says he has a present for him and Ricardo pulls out a bucket with a Mexican flag on it. Show warns Ricardo if he dumps water on him he will break Ricardo in half. Ricardo tosses it anyhow and it's confetti. Show goes after Ricardo but Del Rio takes him on. Del Rio clears Show from the ring with a huracanrana.
The announce team talks at ringside - it's Cole, Lawler, and JBL tonight. They hype the Cena vs. Ziggler cage match and The Rock Concert for later.
I like them holding off the title match to Rumble. Should be a good third match behind The Rock vs. Punk and the Rumble itself. The exchange was good, but it got campy with the confetti and such.
Match #1 - Wade Barrett (IC Champ) vs. Randy Orton
Cole hypes Cesaro vs. Orton on Main Event this week. Orton controls the early going, hitting Barrett's head off the announce table. That knocks JBL's hat down and he comments on it. Orton controls going into commercial.
Barrett has taken control during commercial. He hits a kick that knocks Orton off the apron. Cole talks about how Barrett considers himself among the greats of the Intercontinental title holders.
Orton and Barrett trade punches, and Barrett throws a kick. Orton hits a couple clotheslines and a powerslam. He teases the RKO but Barrett shoves him off into the post. Barrett loads up the Bullhammer elbow for the win.
Good win for Barrett on a big show. I was assuming Orton would win, to be so honest. Hopefully they keep his momentum going.
The announcers hype up The Rock concert for later on.
Eve is shown walking, and she comes across Booker T and Teddy Long. Booker tells her that there's a stipulation in her match - if she gets counted out, Kaitlyn will still become the champion. Eve tries to sweet talk Booker T but he busts out laughing and says "tell me you didn't just try that?" Eve slaps Teddy for laughing and walks off.
Anger Management, Revisited:
Daniel Bryan and Kane agree to lie to Dr. Shelby to tell him what he wants to hear. Shelby shows up and asks who wants a group hug. They do, then sit on the couch. Bryan says they've beaten their issues and asks if they can leave.
Shelby says he has a follow up question for both. He asks Bryan what his favorite thing is about Kane. Bryan likes that Kane is tall, can start fire by lowering his arms, and he's a good dancer. Kane gets the same question and says Bryan is agile, has a great beard, and isn't afraid to admit he wears women's clothing. Bryan squirms but doesn't react.
Shelby tells them he has one more thing for them and asks by phone for someone to be let in. Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes come in. Shelby says they're there to cause a trigger for their anger as a part of exposure therapy. Sandow corrects the doctor on his terminology.
Sandow starts questioning Shelby's credentials. He says Kane and Bryan would have been better off with Dr. Phil. Shelby flips out and tells Kane and Bryan to attack. They rough up Rhodes and Sandow and ran them off. Shelby, Kane, and Bryan chant "yes" together.
Weak punchline but a mildly entertaining segment.
Kane makes his way to the ring for his match.
Match #2 - Kane (w/Daniel Bryan) vs. Damien Sandow (w/Cody Rhodes)
Late in this one, Sandow goes up to the ropes and tries a move. Kane catches him and hits a chokeslam to pick up the win. JBL puts over Kane for how dominant he's been over Raw's history.
The announcers hype up the announcement of the first Hall of Famer after the break.
Cole recaps the opening of the show, when Big Show and Del Rio scuffled.
Hall of Fame Segment:
Justin Roberts introduces Mick Foley to the ring. He is the first inductee in the 2013 Hall of Fame. He comes out to a nice reaction. JBL poses which persona Foley will go in under and Cole runs down his accomplishments.
Foley thanks the fans and gets the cheap pop Houston intro. Before it can go much further, the Shield's introduction hits, and they make their way through the crowd. They surround the ring and climb in.
Ryback's music hits. He charges the ring and attacks the Shield. He momentarily gets the better of it but the numbers are too much. Randy Orton comes to the ring as well but there's still a bit of an offset. Sheamus joins the fray and between the three, they clear the ring of the Shield.
Ryback leads a Feed Me More chant after they clear the ring. JBL says that The Shield will be looking for retribution after this.
Josh interviews Ryback. Ryback says the Shield has been allowing Punk to walk away WWE Champion whenever he faces Punk. He doesn't care about theories and investigations. He will not rest until he gives back to the Shield what they've taken from him. He leads a Feed me Shield chant.
Logical words, awkward delivery. Ryback's getting there but he has work to do. The fans love the "feed me more" stuff but his promos need work.
They give us a video package that highlights all the bad and comedic gimmicks in Raw's history.
The announcers hype up the Divas Championship after the commercial.
Match #3 - Eve Torres (c) vs. Kaitlyn; Divas Championship
Kaitlyn is in the ring, and Lilian explains the match rules. Eve will lose her championship if she gets disqualified or counted out. Lawler says Mr. Socko is upset that Lamb Chop beat him out for the Fruit of the Loom Hall of Fame. Cole mocks the dated reference.
Eve controls the early offense and locks on a head scissors. Kaitlyn breaks it at the ropes. She htis a reverse DDT that gets her a good near fall. Strong crowd reaction for it.
Eve hits her neckbreaker for her own near fall. The fans did respond to this. Eve catches her on her shoulders and hits her gutbuster finisher, but Eve rolls out of the ring. Kaitlyn goes out after her but gets thrown into the barrier for her troubles. Eve tosses her into the timekeeper area for good measure.
Eve gets back in the ring and yells at the official to count her out. Eve didn't see Kaitlyn sneak into the ring from the other side, though. She hits a big spear to pin Eve to win the Diva's Championship.
Big reaction for the hometown girl. Eve, if you may not have heard, is apparently leaving the company so this was likely her last match. Sad, as Eve was the only Diva with a character.
Josh Mathews interviews Brodus Clay. He sets up a rewind of Punk's comments about shucking and jiving. Clay says he doesn't shuck and jive because he has to, but because he wants to and was born to. He says Punk's pipe bomb is about to blow up in his face.
One can only hope that Punk's comments were the beginning of the end of this one-dimensional character....
The 20th anniversary flashback features the hype between Donald Trump and Vince McMahon before WrestleMania 23.
Match #4 - Brodus Clay (w/Cameron and Naomi) vs. CM Punk (c, w/Paul Heyman)
JBL makes a reference to Disco Inferno and Aretha Franklin having Brodus as a kid. Cole points out the 421-day long run of CM Punk's title reign.
Clay hits a suplex but Punk catches Clay with a top rope elbow then locks on the Anaconda Vise for the submission win.
Punk gets a mic and says he came out to do what he does every Monday. He says The Rock will come out later to "do what he does." He says some fans may feel one of those things is more entertaining and that's their opinion and they're entitled to it. He says there are facts though and they are he just made a 400-pound monster tap and he's been WWE Champion for 421 days.
He says Rock will come out and sing, but Rock will not leave the Royal Rumble as WWE Champon. He says he's the best in the world, and that's a fact. Cole says if Punk knocks off Rock, that will solidify Punk's claims.
They hype The Rock Concert again and Lawler hypes the Cena vs. Ziggler cage match.
They show a video package highlighting the various uses of motor vehicles on Raw. Beer trucks, monster trucks, concrete trucks, race cars and limos.
Foley is on the phone telling his kids that he was going to be okay and defend himself earlier when The Rock interrupts. Foley offers a handshake and Rock asks if that's why he walked from the other side of the arena for. Rock smiles and gives Foley a hug and congratulates him on the Hall of Fame induction.
Foley gets Rock to do his "Finally" bit and does a bit of singalong with The Rock. Rock cuts him off and says he likes to do this stuff alone. Vickie walks out and interjects. She tells them to tone it down because she can't hear herself think. She says Raw is her show and mocks Foley being inducted. She says it should have been like baseball and not inducted anyone.
She turns to Rock and asks if she made herself clear, and Rock says he has nothing to say. Vickie leaves. Foley thought Rock was going to lay down a verbal smackdown on Vickie but Rock says there's a time and a place. He tells Foley to trust him and enjoy the Rock Concert.
Match #5 - Sheamus vs. Three Man Band; Over the Top Rope Challenge
Sheamus comes out. Cole hypes up the Saturday Morning Slam show and its new time slot. JBL says this is a handicap match for 3MB because they need more guys.
Sheamus ends up eliminating Jinder and McIntyre. He misses a Brogue Kick on Slater and goes over the top rope, but holds on to the rope. Mahal and McIntyre help pull Sheamus to the floor to give 3MB the win.
3MB celebrates, and McIntyre hoists up Slater. Sheamus pulls Mahal out of the ring. He enters the ring and kicks McIntyre in the leg to get him down, then hits Slater with the Brogue kick in a neat spot.
Sheamus lost nothing with how that happened, and 3MB got a little rub for being on TV, but that's it.
Josh Mathews interviews John Cena about the recent history. Cena says it's about the 20th anniversary of Raw and runs through some names rapid fire. He mentions Braden Walker and says he wasn't on Raw but has an awesome highlight video. Cena says Ziggler will do tonight exactly what World Wrestling Federation did to Raw years ago by getting the F out.
Miz walks out and says he has a special guest. He says the man is a Hall of Famer and it will be awesome. Miz's music keeps playing and he asks if the fans want a hint. He "woos" and struts as they go to commercial.
Before we go back to Miz TV after the break they recap the Shield interfering in Mick Foley's Hall of Fame announcement and being saved by Ryback, Orton and Sheamus.
The Miz is in the ring and the set is in place. He dubs his show the most must-see in the 20 years of Raw. Miz introduces Ric Flair and his music hits. He gets a nice ovation and shows off his two Hall of Fame rings. JBL and Cole tell us that Flair went in alone and also with the legendary Four Horsemen stable. JBL says he spent a month one weekend with Flair in Houston. Funny.
Flair sits down and says "Houston, what's going on." Miz runs through some of Flair's history in WWE and points out that Flair once played musical chairs on Raw. He asks Flair what his most must-see moment was and Flair says it was his retirement ceremony. He says that night and the nights his children were born were the best moments of his life.
Flair talks about talking with Howell Brown III, who told Flair that when Ryback brings down The Shield will be a magic moment on Raw. He tells the cameraman to get a closeup. Miz and Flair exchange "really" for some reason or another. Flair does a strut, and Miz says 'do you know what? that was awesome!'
Miz and Flair strut and woo together. Flair says the fans should learn to love it. Miz calls it a magic moment.
Well, maybe for Miz...
Miz sets up a video package focusing on unique voices, with all sorts of catchphrases from Mick Foley, DX, Chris Jericho, The Rock and Steve Austin, among others. Miz says those were good, but there's one missing. He leads Flair to eventually say his "limo riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheelin' dealin'" line. Antonio Cesaro interrupts though.
Cesaro says he doesn't need catchphrases because he doesn't rely on crutches. He tells Flair and Miz that they embody America. He says Miz is a failed reality TV star who is more focused on fame than greatness. He says Flair made $10 million and spent $20 million. Flair corrects him and says '$30 million, brother.'
Cesaro tells Flair he is just like America in that no matter how great he once was, he has nothing to show for it. He says in Flair's case, he may just have a bar tab he can't pay. He holds up the four fingers and says the only thing that represents is the number of ex-wives he has.
Miz gets excited and says he'll pay Flair's bar tab but give Cesaro the receipt now. Cesaro says he will be the bigger man and walk away but Flair roughs him up with some chops. Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale and Flair sets up the Figure Four but turns it over to Miz to do it. After Cesaro rolls out of the ring, Flair knee-drops the ring and hits an elbow on his jacket.
Cesaro redeemed that segment. He laid out some biting comments. Flair and Miz were bad.
They hype up the cage match. Out of commercial they air the Mike Tyson/Steve Austin segment from a classic Raw.
I gotta admit, if Austin doesn't make a surprise appearance I'm gonna be bummed.
Match #6 - Daniel Bryan (w/Kane) vs. Cody Rhodes (w/Damien Sandow)
Cody grooms his mustache before the match. This ended quickly, though, as Bryan slaps on the No Lock for the win.
Team Rhodes Scholars lost their momentum in losing these singles matches. If they win the titles at the Rumble, all will be well.
They show Eve ranting at Matt Striker. She says she doesn't need WWE or the fans and says she quits.
That's it? They couldn't come up with something better?
They hype up The Rock Concert one more time. Cole hypes up Alberto Del Rio throwing a fiesta on Smackdown this Friday.
AJ talks about weddings on Raw as Big E Langston stands by. She talks about Edge and Lita's wedding interrupted by Kane and Triple H and Stephanie's wedding where Trips broke things off.
Langston talks about one that made him shed a tear and that was the Daniel Bryan/AJ wedding. Vince announced her the new GM that night. AJ says that was the best moment of her life but it was taken away by John Cena.
Dolph walks in and says he will prove tonight to Cena that he is too damn good. Ziggler says when he wins the cage match it will be the greatest show-stealing performance on Raw.
The OU fight song hits, and here comes Jim Ross. Cole says he invited Ross to come to the show to call the cage match.
Always enjoy Ross on commentary.
After break they show the announcers, and Ross is with JBL and Lawler. Cole gave up his seat for this one.
Match #7 - John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/AJ and Big E Langston); Cage Match
Cena gives his hat and shirt to a special child at ringside.
Early on, Ziggler tries a drop kick but Cena catches him and slingshots him to the cage. Ziggler teases an escape but Cena catches him. Just before commercial, Ziggler gets crotched on the ropes.
After commercial, Cena and Ziggler fight on the top of the cage. They both end up on the rope and Ziggler drop kicks Cena off. They show some "during the break" action, and Langston holding Cena's foot. Kind of an ordinary spot they hyped up over the top.
Live, Ziggler throws Cena into the cage and Ziggler hits a superkick. That nets a good near fall. Ziggler crawls to the door and gets a hand on the floor but that's it. Cena pulls him back. Langston grabs him also and they play tug of war. Ziggler locks on the sleeper afterward.
Cena gets to his feet and climbs the ropes with Ziggler on his back. Lawler asks what Cena's doing and JBL says he's on autopilot. Cena falls, with Ziggler going down with him. That breaks the sleeper.
Cena tries to exit, but Langston slams the door on him. Ziggler covers but Cena kicks out. Ziggler is near the door. Cena climbs over and kicks the door shut. Langston swats at Cena with a chair and Cena gets back in the cage to avoid the chair shots. Ziggler hits the Zig Zag but only gets a near fall.
Ziggler climbs again, and Cena goes up after him. He flings Ziggler back in. Ziggler hits a DDT from the top rope. Ziggler once again gets a near fall. AJ throws a fit and destroys the announce position.
AJ climbs the cage. Langston gets in the cage with the briefcase, but Cena cuts him off. Those two exchange blows first and Ziggler ends up with the briefcase. Ziggler swings but hits Langston. Cena hits the AA on Ziggler to get the win. AJ screams from the top of the cage.
This is doing no wonders for Ziggler. Two weeks, two losses with all kinds of help from the sidekicks. Maybe it won't matter when he cashes in successfully. The fans are numb to it, though.
I love the big-match feel JR brings to a match though. Really good stuff.
The Rock Concert
Cole gives us a show reset as Rock comes to the ring. Rock says it's been an amazing night and it's an honor to close it out. Rock says it brought back memories, like his first night on Raw.
Rock says he came out looking like the biggest badass the world had ever seen. They show a shot of Rocky Maivia on the Tron. "Sweet moonwalking baby Moses, what was I thinking!" Rock asked and says he looked like a mental patient getting ready to audition for the Backstreet Boys. He says that picture is proof that if you put your mind to it you can overcome anything.
Rock does a song to the tune of Heartbreak Hotel, making fun of Paul Heyman's weight and how he hasn't seen his penis in years. He picks up a guitar and pauses to acknowledge Dusty Hill from ZZ Top in the crowd. He does a quick "cuz every girl's crazy bout a sharp dressed man..." for a cheer.
Rock calls out for the ladies and asks if people know what his favorite curve is. He says it's a family show and says "my favorite curve on a woman is her smile." He tells the guys they'll get all kinds of sweet lovin' with that. Rock has a woman that he wants to sing to next. Someone shouts "cookie puss" and Rock says "no, not Cookie Puss" and calls out Vickie Guerrero.
Vickie obliges, and Rock sings a song to Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight." He ends with "I said no bitch, you look horrible tonight." His second verse: "You abuse all your powers to waste everyone's time, you dress like a hooker, not the expensive kind. So get your ass to the airport, take a one-way flight, because bitch you look horrible tonight."
Vickie throws a fit and Rock gets the fans to sing along one more time on the closing line. They cheer and chant for Rock while Vickie storms off. Rock says that is one horrible looking bitch and asks if the fans are having fun. That gets a decent response.
Rock gets serious and says he wants to call out CM Punk. He wants to tell Punk something man to man. After a wait, Punk emerges with Heyman in tow, no music. At first Punk and Heyman stay at the ramp.
Rock says Punk talks about facts. Rock says that it's a fact that for 421 days no one has stopped him. It's a fact that Paul Heyman has twinkie tits. That gets a brief chant going. Rock says Punk talked about boxing with God last week. Rock says Punk is not God, "but with God as his witness, in 13 days I will beat you for the WWE Championship."
Punk hands Heyman the title belt back and whispers something. Punk charges the ring and Rock meets him there. They brawl back and forth with each man getting a shot in or taking the other down. Officials and agents run out to separate them. They break free and Rock gets a shot or two in. Agents pull them apart again as the show ends.
That segment got off to a very slow start, but redeemed itself in the end. A bit of physicality is good for this feud since the Rumble is so close. I think Rock needs to take a more serious tone to it though, overall. Occasional Rock comedy is okay, but the general tone of intensity would be better in this viewer's opinion. Last week was better, this was at least solid.
The big surprise - not a lot of surprises. Flair has been back recently, Foley has been around off and on, JR tweeted he'd be at Raw. When they rolled out all the legends for Raw 1000, they really raised expectations and some folks probably feel let down tonight without all those appearances. I would personally have loved to see Austin...but...didn't work out.
I know they're really trying to get Punk vs. Rock established, and now Del Rio vs. Big Show. But they're really lagging on the Rumble itself. Guys are just naming themselves into it and it's getting no meaningful hype. Sheamus vs. 3MB isn't cutting it.
I'll have more to say on this show tomorrow night in Raw Afterthoughts. Thanks for watching along tonight.