WWE 20th Anniversary Raw Review: Rock Concert, John Cena vs. Ziggler in a Cage

Mike Shannon@@DLman91Featured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2013


Cue Joel Gertner voice:

Well…well…well…just when you thought it was safe to read about Raw online, I have returned from an extremely brief hiatus to check in with the Monday night show that has been going (somewhat) strong for 20 years.

Tonight’s anniversary show has all the makings of a quality three hours of television but, with all WWE shows, has the potential to be a cure for insomnia. Which show will rear its head? Stay tuned to find out.

AWESOME beginning as we get a montage of all the opening videos since way back in 1993. WWE’s production team is still one of the best in entertainment.

We are LIVE and sold out from Houston, TX (home of a very overrated quarterback).

Of course, Vince McMahon kicks us off and makes outrageous claims about viewership numbers, before announcing Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena in a steel cage. However, a pissed off Big Show interrupts and whines to Vince about losing his title on SmackDown, because he wasn’t ready for a Last Man Standing match.

Show demands that Del Rio be stripped of the title and that draws out Alberto himself. Del Rio wants a rematch tonight, but Show suggests the Royal Rumble instead, which Ricardo Rodriguez answers by throwing confetti on the Big Show. Show tries to attack, but Del Rio sends him scurrying to the locker room.

Summary of that 15 minute promo: Big Show is a jerk and Alberto Del Rio is really Mexican. Obviously, I have no problem with that goal but come on, you could have cut this down a little bit. They are definitely pushing Del Rio as the next Mexican hero, which is smart when you’re in Houston.

Our first classic Raw moment: Bob Barker hosts Raw. Is this really a historical moment? The only thing memorable was Chris Jericho wearing his Price is Right name tag on his bare chest.

Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton:
On the plus side, it only took 22 minutes to get to our first wrestling match. Barrett hammers away in the corner, but gets caught with a Thesz Press and takes a powder. They brawl on the floor, where Orton introduces Wade to the announcers' table and hits a back suplex on top of the crowd barrier.

That sounds more impressive than it actually looked, but he gets a two-count anyway. Garvin Stomp hurts Wade and Orton clotheslines him to the floor, taking us to a commercial break.

We return with Orton taking a knee to the gut, and Barrett works a chinlock before getting two off a big boot. Barrett throws some knees against the ropes and another big boot sends Orton down for two.

Barrett goes back to the chinlock, but Orton suplexes out and they have a slugfest, won by Barrett, but Orton hits a pair of ugly clotheslines to set up his power slam. Randy with a backbreaker and the Draping DDT as he looks to finish, but Barrett counters and sends Orton into the ring post. Barrett quickly hits the Bull Hammer and…gets the pin?!? Wow.
Winner: Wade Barrett

-The match bored me, but that was a huge win for Barrett, as he beat Orton clean as a sheet in the middle of the ring. Of course, they instantly cut away from Barrett’s celebration to talk about the Rock, thus negating the whole importance of the result. Awesome booking, but I bet you any money that Orton gets his win back on SmackDown or next week on Raw. Match was **1/4.

-Meanwhile, Booker T tells Eve if she gets counted out tonight she will lose her title. Well, I’m just going to enjoy her hotness one more time since she’s leaving, so whatever. Eve slaps Teddy for laughing at her, but he probably deserved it.

-Earlier today, Kane and Daniel Bryan visit Dr. Shelby for their four-month checkup. Bryan convinces Kane to lie to Shelby to get out of there, and all three share a group hug. Bryan: “I like that Kane can set things on fire by lowering his arms.” As a surprise, Shelby brings in the Rhodes Scholars to anger Team Hell No on purpose to test their anger issues.

Unfortunately, the Rhodes Scholars immediately piss off Dr. Shelby by questioning his techniques, causing him to freak out and order Team Hell No to kick their asses. Not a bad segment, but nothing special, either.

Kane vs. Damien Sandow
Kane goes on the attack and hits a pair of clotheslines in the corner, and follows with a side slam for two. Sandow tries running away but gets slugged down and sent back inside, where he catches Kane with a kick to the face. Russian leg sweep sets up the ELBOW OF DISDAIN for two as Bryan tries to wake the crowd up. Sandow comes off the top but Kane catches him with a chokeslam and that’s all she wrote.
Winner: Kane

-Just a glorified squash *.

-Hey, let’s waste some more time by recapping the Big Show-Del Rio confrontation from earlier.

-So, in the worst kept secret, Mick Foley is announced as the first 2013 Hall of Fame class member. Foley only gets one sentence out before the Shield surround the ring. Ryback makes the save though, allowing Foley to escape before the numbers overwhelm him. Randy Orton also attempts a save and fails but Sheamus finally evens the odds and clears the ring. Hmmm, do you think we’re going to get a six-man out of this?

-Josh Matthews interviews Ryback after the ring is cleared, and he promises not to rest until he destroys the Shield.

-Recap video of all the weird gimmicks in the history of Raw…HUGE props for the inclusion of William Regal’s “Real Man’s Man” video.

Divas Title
Eve vs. Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn’s hometown is Houston and she can’t even get a pop there…so sad. Eve works a headlock, but Kaitlyn hip-tosses her outside and Eve stalls. Eve catches Kaitlyn with a kick and a clothesline for two, and a flipping senton also gets two. Eve chokes away in the corner and brings Kaitlyn down with a head-scissors.

Kaitlyn has absolutely no idea how to sell the submission move and ends up just laying there like an idiot while Eve cranks the move. Kaitlyn gets to the ropes and mounts her comeback and hits a inverted DDT for two. Eve turns the ride and hits a spinning neckbreaker for a near fall. Eve gets frustrated and Kaitlyn hits a gutbuster, causing Eve to hit the floor.

Kaitlyn sneaks back inside without Eve seeing and she walks into a spear from Kaitlyn for the pin and the title.
Winner and NEW Champion: Kaitlyn

-Kaitlyn gets a hometown pop for the title win, but that doesn’t change the fact that the match stunk, except for the ending spot. Can you imagine how many botches we are going to see with Kaitlyn as the champion? Get your popcorn ready *1/2.

-Meanwhile, Brodus Clay is not impressed with CM Punk’s comments from last week and promises revenge.

-Raw Moment No. 2: Donald Trump vs. Vince McMahon…eh, it would have been more impressive if it didn’t involve Umaga and Bobby Lashley.

Brodus Clay vs. CM Punk
I have a feeling WWE is going to be making fun of Brodus Clay at the 30th anniversary of Raw if HHH and Steph haven’t ran the company into the ground by then. This is a very pro-CM Punk crowd, so I wouldn’t expect John Cena to be welcomed with open arms.

Brodus takes control early with a bodyslam and a pair of elbows, but hits boot on a blind charge and gets nailed with a flying clothesline. Punk slowly works over Clay and throws some kicks, but Clay interrupts with a T-Bone suplex.

Clay makes his comeback to heel heat, but whiffs on a splash in the corner and takes a kick to the face. Randy Savage elbow hits home and Punk quickly locks on the Anaconda Vise for the quick submission.
Winner: CM Punk

-Yet another squash. Is this seriously how they use their world champion during their “special” 20th anniversary show, by squashing a fat, sideshow act? *1/4 for Brodus at least trying to keep up.

-Are we sure we’re not accidentally watching the 20th anniversary of Velocity or Jakked or something? This is Monday Night Raw, right?

-Someone please help Eddie Money…seriously, donate money.

-Raw Moment No. 3: The various incidents involving vehicles like the Stone Cold beer bath, Shane McMahon trying to kill Kane, and DX screwing with Vince’s limo. I’m very surprised they showed the “Vince is dead” limo explosion clip.

-Meanwhile, the ROCK 'N' SOCK CONNECTION share a hug and a catchphrase backstage. Mick gets a little too anxious and Rocky has to remind him this isn’t a sing-a-long with the Rock. Vickie Guerrero shuts them up and Mick is stunned when the Rock doesn’t verbally destroy her, but Rocky promises revenge later. (Rock: “Do you trust me?” Mick: “Last time I saw you, you Rock Bottomed me.” Rock: “No one remembers that.”)

-Great segment from two of the best…and they wonder why these new workers look like bums?

Over the Top Rope Challenge
Sheamus vs. 3MB
Are you kidding me? Who is NOT going to turn the channel right now? 3MB attacks in the corner but Sheamus fights them off and hits McIntyre with the Celtic Cross. 3MB overwhelms him again but Jinder Mahal makes the mistake of heading up top and gets eliminated. McIntyre follows quickly and Slater ducks a Brogue Kick, putting Sheamus on the apron. The two eliminated guys pull Sheamus out and 3MB get the completely pointless win.
Winners: 3MB

-Totally stupid and rendered completely pointless by Sheamus immediately attacking and laying out all three guys. What was the point of this? DUD DUD DUD.

-Meanwhile, John Cena cuts a rambling promo backstage and name-drops Braden Walker before somehow making it relate to Dolph Ziggler…OK, then.

Miz TV
So the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair is the guest tonight, and he immediately starts putting over the current product because that’s the company line tonight. Miz and Flair have a Woo-off and a strut contest as this segment goes directly into self-parody in record time. This somehow leads into the Miz introducing a video package of memorable catchphrases.

So we got back to Miz and Ric Flair for more ridiculousness as Flair rants and raves until Antonio Cesaro thankfully interrupts, waving an American flag. Cesaro mocks Flair for his financial trouble, which is like shooting fish in a barrel, but receives chops to the chest from Ric and a Skull Crushing Finale from Miz.

Flair allows Miz to apply the Figure Four while Ric elbow-drops his suit coat. I really don’t even know what to say after that segment. I…I…let’s just please move on. Miz acted like a complete mark the whole time and the entire segment seemed extremely forced and unnatural.

-Raw Moment No. 4: Mike Tyson vs. Steve Austin in a segment we’ve all seen a thousand times. Rest assured though, younger fans, this was absolutely HUGE at the time.

Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes
Cody stomps away to start and hits a forward suplex for two. Rhodes poses a little too much though, and gets trapped in the Yes Lock for a very fast submission…again.
Winner: Daniel Bryan

-What in God’s name was the point of that? Bryan and Kane squashed Rhodes Scholars like they were Mike Sharpe and Barry Horowitz. Oh well…DUD.

-Meanwhile, Eve quits WWE as predicted. What will WWE do to make up for the loss of that huge ratings draw?

-Still backstage, AJ and Big E. Langston (with more cleavage than AJ) introduce a video recap of all the failed weddings on Raw. Lita’s wedding dress from 2005 is still the best divas outfit ever. I tried to get my wife to wear it on our wedding day but she didn’t take it very well.

-Jim Ross heads to ringside to call the main event.

-Honestly, I hope this very low-key show has been on purpose and building to a huge “HOLY *#@%” ending because, if not, this is seriously one of the worst episodes of Raw I have ever seen…and yes, I’ve been watching for all 20 years.

Steel Cage Match
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler tries to escape immediately but Cena floors him with a suplex for two and grabs a chinlock. Dolph catches John with a dropkick and runs him into the cage. Hey, that would be a good time for blood, wouldn’t it?

A pair of neckbreakers puts Cena down as the preteens/women chant for Cena and the men chant for Dolph. Another dropkick attempt is blocked and turned into a slingshot by Cena but Dolph latches on to the cage and makes an escape attempt. Cena stops him though, and they have a slugfest on the top rope, won by Dolph.

Unfortunately, Cena quickly recovers and crotches him on the top rope, taking us to break.

We return with both guys on top of the cage and slugging away. Cena grabs Dolph’s hair to bring him back in on the top rope and Dolph hits a ridiculous dropkick for two. That was very impressive. Cena blocks another cage visit and mounts his usual comeback. Attitude Adjustment is countered by Dolph climbing the cage though, so Cena sends him hard into the mesh.

Another AA attempt turned into a beautiful superkick for two. They could easily have gotten that over as a finisher for Dolph, if that was the finish.

Ziggler crawls out the door but gets stopped at the last second, forcing a tug-of-war between Cena and Big E. Langston. Cena wins and drags Dolph in for the STF, but Ziggler rolls though and applies the sleeper.

Cena fights to his feet and impressively climbs the cage with Dolph Ziggler on his back. That dude is ridiculously strong. He falls back off the top rope, squashing Dolph and breaking the hold. Now Cena tries for the door but Big E. Langston slams the cage door in his face and Dolph gets two. Come on guys, you had a good finish AGAIN and you blew it.

Ziggler heads for the door but Cena hustles over the top and kicks the door in Dolph’s face. It looks like Cena is going to hit the floor but Langston threatens him with a chair, forcing Cena back inside where Dolph is waiting with the Zig Zag…for two. My God, the guy is allowed to lose, especially under these conditions.

Ziggler tries another escape but Cena dumps him. Cena takes too long getting off the top rope though, and Ziggler brings him off with a SUPER DDT…for two. Alright, Cena should be DEAD at this point, not kicking out at two. AJ goes nuts at ringside, busting up the announcers' table and finally climbing the cage. Langston runs into the cage while the ref is distracted by AJ but Dolph accidentally hits him with the briefcase and Cena finishes with the Attitude Adjustment.
Winner: John Cena

-If you want the definition of why people like me HATE John Cena, look no further than this match. There were plenty of opportunities where Cena could take the loss and have a thousand excuses while not looking bad at all but no, he “overcomes the odds” yet again and beats Dolph Ziggler.

Seriously, what’s the point of beating Dolph there? Does Cena need the win? Of course not. For God’s sake, Dolph hit him with a DDT OFF THE TOP ROPE…Cena should be in the ER right now, not smiling and celebrating. This is exactly why no one new ever gets over in the main-event scene because they refuse to let Super Cena show any sort of vulnerability, even when he’s down 3-to-1. Trust me, I will have MUCH more on this tomorrow.

-Oh yeah, the match. Call the whole thing ***1/2 since the crowd was molten for it, but I hated the finish and there were some dead spots in the middle.

Main Event Interview
Rock Concert
The Rock mocks his first appearance on Raw as Rocky Maivia, the Blue Chipper who was such a squeaky clean babyface that the crowd immediately crapped all over him and begged him to die…no kidding.

Anyways, Rocky sings a song about Paul Heyman not being able to see his penis then invites Vickie Guerrero out for a song. Of course, Vickie stupidly comes out because she apparently hasn’t watched ANY Rock promos from the last 15 years. Michael Cole’s fake laughter cuts right through me as well.

Anyways, Rock embarrasses Vickie to “Wonderful Tonight” and the crowd loves it but I wonder if there’s a point to all this. I mean, I like the WWE Comedy Hour as much as the next guy, but shouldn’t we start selling some pay-per-views here? Do parody songs translate to a higher buy-rate?

So suddenly, the Rock gets all serious and calls out CM Punk for a talk “man to man.” Can you really say “Twinkie ****” on a TV-PG show? Rocky hurls a few more insults Punk’s way so Punk charges and they have a brawl at ringside….and that’s the end of the show. No, seriously, that’s the end of the show.

Final Word

OK, in all seriousness, this has to be the worst episode of Raw I have ever seen. I know people throw that statement around all the time, but please tell me ONE redeeming quality of this show.

The cage match was well-worked but the finish rendered it completely useless. The rest of the show was squash matches, Ric Flair acting like an maniac and parody songs. Look, I love the Rock like any fan my age does, but how does him insulting Paul Heyman and Vickie Guerrero make people buy the Royal Rumble? Sure, he tied to Punk in the last two minutes of the show, but that wasn’t even close to the focus.

I know I get lots of crap because I say Raw sucks—well, guess what? Raw sucks. I’m going to buy the Rumble because I know Punk and Rock are going to bring the awesome, but this show was total and complete trash.

I would LOVE to hear some sort of fanboy explanation for why this show was great, how I suck, how I don’t know wrestling, how I hate the product, “Why do you watch if you hate it?”, and blah blah blah. I know good wrestling and this isn’t it.

Please, for the love of God, skip this show.


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