WWE Raw opened with a montage of all the Raw openings and Vince McMahon. He called himself a “certified iconic genius” for creating 20 years of entertainment and then booked John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler inside of a steel cage.
The Big Show came out and wanted to address what happened on SmackDown. Alberto Del Rio soon followed and was willing to give him his rematch later on. The match was then made for the Royal Rumble, Big Show had some confetti thrown on him and Del Rio hit an impressive hurricanrana on Big Show to end the segment.
I thought this was a pretty good way to open the show. I liked how McMahon opened; I mean, if it weren't for him, there would be no Raw. He was his typical self on the mic, while the Big Show and Del Rio gave strong performances.
I was a little surprised that the World Heavyweight Championship feud was in the opening segment instead of CM Punk, but it worked out well. Punk will no doubt have a big role on the show later anyway.
A good way to start a show that will definitely get bigger as the night progresses.
Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton
Wade Barrett picked up the victory with a Bull Hammer. This was an overall good match that saw some solid back-and-forth action.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Barrett win the match, as I was fully expecting to see Orton win. I’m really glad he lost, though. A win for the Barrett Barrage elevates him in a big way here. He has beaten many in the midcard, but that can only get you so far.
Taking out a nine-time World Heavyweight champion—and former rival—is big. It shows that Barrett is much more than a midcard wrestler and is ready for the main event scene. When he does lose that Intercontinental Championship, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win one of the world titles within a few months.
As for Orton, I was a bit shocked that the Shield didn’t attack him, but as we found out later on in the show, he would take the fight to them.
Backstage, Eve Torres approached Booker T and Teddy Long. Booker told her that if she got counted out or disqualified in her title match against Kaitlyn, she would lose the title. Eve tried to seduce Booker to no avail, so she slapped Teddy for laughing at her.
I was fully expecting some kind of stipulation for this match. I was hoping for a Lumberjill match, maybe with some former Divas included, but I guess the old TNA rule that the title can change hands by count-out or DQ works fine.
Earlier that day, Team Hell No met with Dr. Shelby. Shelby just had one question for each, which was what they liked most about the other.
Bryan liked Kane’s height, ability to set fires and his dancing, while Kane liked Bryan’s agility, his beard and that he wasn’t afraid to admit that he wore women’s clothing. Shelby then brought in Team Rhodes Scholars, who ended up insulting him. It all ended when Team Hell No attacked Rhodes Scholars and chanted “yes” with the doctor.
This was pretty entertaining. The chemistry between Kane, Daniel Bryan and Dr. Shelby was pure gold during the original skits and they didn’t lose it four months later.
I liked the inclusion of Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes, especially with their gimmick as the “smartest team in WWE.” Their interactions with Shelby were also quite funny, and when he flipped out over the mention of Dr. Phil, I laughed hysterically. This was a really fun segment.
Kane vs. Damien Sandow
Kane picked up the win here after hitting the Chokeslam on Sandow. I thought this was a decent match. It featured some nice back-and-forth action between them, but the contest was way too short.
With Team Rhodes Scholars winning last week, I was glad to see Kane get the win here. It would have been nice to see brawl get more time, though, so that they could have had a more solid match.
Mick Foley then made his way out as the first inductee of the WWE Hall of Fame's class of 2013. Before Foley could really start talking, though, he was interrupted by the Shield. Before they could do anything, Ryback ran out for the save.
They fought until Randy Orton and Sheamus came out to help. It all ended with Ambrose getting the Shell Shock.
Congratulations to Mick Foley on finally making it into the Hall of Fame. He is very much deserving of the honor. I was disappointed that he didn’t really get to say anything about the honor, though.
Sure, he’ll get a full speech at the ceremony, but it would have been cool to get his initial reaction. I was surprised that the Shield targeted Foley. What injustice could he have committed in the span of one minute?
I expect a six-man tag match before the Royal Rumble between The Shield, Ryback, Orton and Sheamus. With Ryback wanting WWE to feed them to him, as he said in his interview with Josh Matthews, I think that’s the direction they’re going in. That’s when I think Orton will finally turn heel by turning his back on Ryback and Sheamus.
He won’t be the leader of The Shield; he’ll just be turning heel.
A video was then shown of some of the outrageous gimmicks over the past 20 years. Showing everyone from Mad Mountain Rock, Goldust and Beaver Cleavage to the Bastian Booger, Mantaur and the “Real Man’s Man” William Regal, fans got a fun reminder of some of the ridiculousness that is Raw.
Some of these gimmicks even inspired me to appreciate the gimmicks of Santino Marella and Brodus Clay more.
Eve Torres vs. Kaitlyn: WWE Divas Championship
Kaitlyn finally won the WWE Divas Championship after a big spear. I thought this was a decent match, but it was kind of slow. It featured one good moment when Eve tossed Kaitlyn into the barrier, but other than that, it was the typical Divas match.
The crowd seemed into it, though. I suspect that had something to do with Kaitlyn being from Houston, but the relevant fact is the audience actually cheered during a Divas match. Hopefully Kaitlyn can take those cheers from her hometown and bring them everywhere.
Backstage, Matthews was with Brodus Clay. In response to what Punk said about him last week, Brodus said that Punk’s pipe bomb would blow up in his face.
So it’s Punk vs. Brodus later? That seems like a random match for the WWE champion. Perhaps this is a sign, though. Maybe Brodus will start getting more serious and eventually ditch the Funkasaurus gimmick. Then again, I won’t get my hopes up.
CM Punk vs. Brodus Clay
CM Punk would defeat Clay with the Anaconda Vice in a decent match. Punk worked well in the ring with the much bigger Brodus Clay, while Clay did his usual thing. Nothing special overall, which is disappointing.
I think that, if given the time, Punk and Brodus could actually have a solid match. It was good to see Punk use the Anaconda Vice again, since he hasn’t used it in a while.
After the match, Punk went over the details. The opinion was that the Rock was entertaining, but the fact stood that he was best in the world and would be retaining at the Royal Rumble. The WWE champion gave a solid promo here. He was once again great on the mic, which is no surprise. CM Punk is going to be untouchable in terms of promos all the way up to WrestleMania.
A video was then shown of the various Raw moments featuring a vehicle. Showing moments like the beer truck, the cement truck, the Zamboni and McMahon blowing up in his limo, WWE gave fans another entertaining trip down memory lane.
I found it funny how they included McMahon throwing Eric Bischoff into the back of the garbage truck. They didn’t show much footage of former stars who are now with TNA, so it was certainly an entertaining one to show.
Backstage, Foley was on the phone with his kids when the Rock approached him. They hugged and did a “Finally, the Rock and Sock have come back to Houston” thing before Vickie Guerrero told them to shut up.
This was a fun segment here. It was a nice throwback to the chemistry the Rock and Foley had back in the Attitude Era. In fact, they still have that chemistry together. With Paul Heyman in Punk’s corner at the Royal Rumble, I would love to see Foley in the corner of the Rock!
Sheamus vs. 3MB: Over-the-Top-Rope Challenge
Heath Slater would win the match after the already eliminated Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre helped him eliminate Sheamus. This was a fun match but nothing too special. I was surprised to see Slater actually win, though I suppose it doesn’t really mean anything, since he got the Brogue Kick after the match.
3MB are a very entertaining group, but they don’t belong in a feud with a main event star. I would like to see them in the Tag Team division, since I feel they could create some great moments with Team Hell No. The Freebird Rule hasn’t been used in a while in WWE, so why not bring it back with 3MB?
Backstage, Matt and John Cena were together. Cena said that they should be talking about Austin, the Rock, the Undertaker, Hulk Hogan and Brandon Walker. The ring was his house, though, and he wanted Ziggler to do what the WWF did to Raw, which was “get the ‘F’ out.”
I agree that there should be more talk of the history of Raw on the 20th anniversary show. You can’t always get what you want, though.
I liked the little reference to the “Get the ‘F’ Out” slogan during the transition from WWF to WWE, and the little shot at Chris Harris’ Brandon Walker character was funny. Cena was overall solid on the mic here as well.
The Miz then made his way out for MizTV with his guest Ric Flair. The Nature Boy revealed his favorite moment as the night of his retirement, and then he and Miz went back and forth after a video package of WWE catchphrases.
Antonio Cesaro soon came out and took shots at Flair, Miz and America before Flair gave him some classic chops and the Miz locked in the Figure Four.
This was an entertaining segment here thanks to the great chemistry between Flair and the Miz. They were so great together! The video package of catchphrases was another fun throwback as fans saw everyone from the Rock and Steve Austin to the Hurricane and Snitsky.
Cesaro was great on the mic here and really added to the flow of the segment. I don’t think Cesaro will be champion for much longer. I feel the Miz will be taking it away from him after the Royal Rumble.
Perhaps Flair will be by his side. Imagine if the Nature Boy became the manager to the Miz; it would make for a lot of great moments!
Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes
Daniel Bryan picked up a quick victory with the No Lock. The match saw Cody Rhodes attack Bryan’s knee for about a minute until Bryan countered Rhodes into the submission hold.
This match was way too short! The match these two could have would be great, but to do so they would need time. I was quite disappointed that these two great in-ring talents didn’t get the chance to actually wrestle here.
Footage from the WWE App was then shown, and it featured Eve complaining about losing and eventually quitting WWE. You lose one match and quit? Someone’s overreacting.
Anyway, this thins the Divas division out even more. I was never really a fan of Eve, but she did progress into a solid worker in the ring. It’s shame that WWE is losing another women’s wrestler.
Hopefully this means someone from NXT will get called up. If so, I really hope it’s Paige!
Backstage, AJ Lee said her favorite moments were about love. Footage was then shown of the Edge/Lita wedding, the Triple H/Stephanie McMahon renewal of vows and the AJ/Daniel Bryan wedding.
AJ’s wedding was her favorite, but she freaked out because John Cena ruined it. Dolph Ziggler then appeared to declare that he would defeat Cena in the cage.
AJ gave a solid promo here. I liked how they transitioned from past wedding footage into current storylines. Ziggler was good here, too. He really got me thinking that he would win the upcoming match.
Jim Ross then made his way out for commentary, and it was about time! Ross is still the best color commentator in the business, and he proved that during the cage match.
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler: Steel Cage Match
John Cena picked up the win here with the Attitude Adjustment. The contest featured some great action inside the cage, while the cage itself got some decent use out of it. Both wrestlers performed very well here, and it made for a very good main event.
My only issue with the match is Cena’s victory. He took everything Ziggler threw at him, including the ZigZag and an impressive DDT from the top rope. He was even put up against the constant interference from Big E. Langston, who got into the cage towards the end.
Cena survived every finishing move and every interfering act, but it only took one move to defeat Ziggler. To set the record straight, I am not a “Cena hater.” I respect the man for everything he does, which includes putting his body and overall health on the line to entertain the fans, but this makes Ziggler look incredibly weak.
With Cena’s victory, WWE is telling us that Ziggler can’t even beat Cena inside of a steel cage while also getting help from the massive Big E. Langston. Ziggler may look like the star in his matches with Cena, but at the end of the day, he’ll never be the star opposite the face of the WWE.
The night came to an end with the Rock Concert. To the tune of “Heartbreak Hotel,” the Rock made fun of Paul Heyman, and he also targeted Vickie Guerrero with a song to the tune of “Wonderful Tonight.” After the comedy, he called out CM Punk and got a bit more serious. Raw went off the air with the referees and agents pulling apart a brawling Rock and CM Punk.
The Rock’s songs were entertaining, with the one about Vickie being the better of the two. However, his concert about John Cena last year was better than this one. I liked that he got more serious towards the end, but he still had to throw in a joke, which was targeted at Paul Heyman.
The ending was great with the two fighting, but I wish it hadn't been broken up so quickly. I think the problem was that this segment barely had any time.
Overall, I was very disappointed with this episode of Raw. As a regular episode, it’s not so bad. It was as good as it was last week, just without a TLC match. As an episode celebrating 20 years of the show, it was a huge letdown.
The video packages brought back some fun memories, but it felt like they weren’t even trying to celebrate the milestone. Other than Mick Foley and the Rock, there were no other appearances from past superstars. Being broadcast live from Texas, I was hoping at least for an appearance from Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels or the Undertaker, but WWE gave the fans almost nothing.
As a celebration of 20 years on television, WWE dropped the ball big time. As a normal episode of the flagship show, it was fine, as storylines progressed nicely overall and the Royal Rumble continued to get some good build.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to hit me up on Twitter. I always follow back fellow wrestling fans and usually tweet during the shows!