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The PG Era Rant, 2/3/14

Instead of my usual opening here, I figure I'll address CM Punk's departure, since I'll be the last one to have an opinion.

I know nothing about his mindset. I know his past actions, but as we've learned with others, people can change. What I can see is that Punk is walking away from the WWE just as all the momentum goes towards Daniel Bryan. The timing is such that it can't be coincidence.

That said, has he always been wanting to leave and just chose the time when there was someone who could fill his void? Or is he jealous and hoping to get the “Internet darling” tag back? I don't know.

However, if I walked out on my job, I would have a hell of a time getting a new one, and no one would be sympathetic to me. Then again, the rules of entertainment were never that of the real world, were they?

Enough of that. Hopefully people won't be blaming the WWE for this like they blamed WCW for Ric Flair.

The live look-in talks about the steel cage match for the WWE Tag Team Championships, plus Randy Orton will kick off the show.

The PG Era Rant for Raw, February 3, 2014.

Live from Omaha, Nebraska. Given that this week is an audible, that makes sense.

Your hosts are Cole and the gang.

Indeed, as promised, here's Orton. And this just in: he's in a bad mood. It's Orton, Cena, Sheamus, Bryan, Cesaro, and Christian going at it at the Elimination Chamber. Orton starts to talk and INSTANTLY a Punk chant begins. Orton shouts it down and continues his conversation: it's unfair. The Authority wants to get rid of him. (He succeeds in lasting out the Punk chant.) Orton is curious: how often does he have to beat Cena, anyway? Or Bryan? And everyone else, for that matter. He knows the fans want to see him lose, but guess what: not happening. Orton will win at the Chamber AND at WrestleMania when he beats Not Daniel Bryan. He brings up how they were equals in Evolution, but times have changed. Orton is just better. What everyone needs to realize is that Orton is the greatest superstar ever, and he's the main attraction of Raw. And this brings out the Authority, much to Orton's chagrin. Cole says Orton is where he is because of them. Stephanie tells Orton to calm down as the Punk chants are back. Stephanie thinks Orton gets a little paranoid and angry. “Don't bite the hand that feeds you, Randy. Think about everything that we have done for you.” Stephanie says Orton is better than that. But Orton doesn't care, because he's the champ in spite of tough odds. Hunter knows that Orton comes out... saying the same thing week after week. Hunter says he doesn't want to hear that from the Face of the WWE. It makes Hunter wonder if maybe there's something behind all this and that someone else needs to be on top. Crowd: “YES!” Stephanie reminds Orton about the Elimination Chamber, then says he'll face each of them one at a time. And if tonight's opponent is victorious, Stephanie may change horses. Tonight's opponent: yes, Daniel Bryan. HHH leads a YES chant because apparently he doesn't realize he's the bad guy.

Cole talks about the Royal Rumble kickoff and how the Outlaws won the Tag Team titles on the show. Last week, they were going for a rematch, but it was a no-contest. So tonight, it's a cage match for the Tag Titles – but it's not an escape match, it's just pinfall or submission.

The Shield is on their way to the ring for six-man tag team action. Rollins got the flip over the barricade right! We recap last week and how the DQ finish indirectly put Cena, Bryan, and Sheamus in the Chamber... and kept the Shield out. Shield vs. Wyatts will happen at the Chamber, despite HHH's best interest to keep it from happening, because Roman Reigns is just that intimidating.

SIDENOTE: why are the fans chanting for CM Punk? He wasn't fired, he walked away. He doesn't want to be there. Even if the WWE bent over backwards to keep him – and by all accounts, Vince is going out of his way to talk Punk into coming back – Punk doesn't want to be there and has left WWE in the lurch. Chanting will change nothing. He doesn't want to come back!

The Shield v. Rey Mysterio, Big E Langston, and Kofi Kingston. Only Rey gets an entrance on the face side. Ambrose and Langston start. Ambrose goes behind but gets tossed off and rammed into the corner. Langston works the arm, and Kofi tags in to drop an axhandle on the arm. Ambrose pulls the hair to get out, but Kofi gets an armdrag and works the arm, but Rollins tags in only to get caught with a back elbow. It gets one. Kofi blocks a hiptoss with a monkey flip and smashes Rollins in the corner for two. Ambrose tags himself in and pounds away on Kofi, stomping him into the mat. Reigns in, and he just punches Kofi in the face. Into the buckle goes Kofi, and Rollins is in to work the gut. Snapmare and neck crank by Rollins. Rollins cuts off a comeback and brings Ambrose in. Power Drive elbow gets one. Ambrose stomps the hand and backs Kofi into the corner, with Rolins getting a Hotshot on Kofi. Crowd is kinda dead. Rollins to the chinlock, then a slam. Kneedrop misses, though, and it's hot tag Rey. Seated senton to Rollins, and a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. Rana try, but everyone rolls through and Rey kicks Rollins' head in for two. Rollins misses a blind charge, but he catches Rey and Reigns tags in as they get a Hart Attack (powerbomb variant) for two, Kofi saves as we go to break.

The Shield v. Rey/Langston/Kofi, part two. Reigns has Rey by the leg and drags him to the corner before putting on a chinlock as we see that During the Break, Reigns did his drive-by dropkick. Rey kicks out of the chinlock but gets caught with a back elbow. Ambrose gets back in and does a leaping stomp on Rey before choking Rey with his tibia. Big lariat gets two. Ambrose to a camel clutch chinlock as the crowd gets behind Rey. Rey kicks away to get loose, but Ambrose catches Rey and puts him in the Tree of Woe, kicking away. But a charge misses Rey and hits the post. The hot tag goes to Langston, who cleans house and gets Reigns one on one with a huge tackle. Running shoulder ram follows in the corner, then an overhead suplex and Ultimate Splash, Shield saves. Kofi takes them both out as Reigns is bleeding. Rey disposes of Rollins, Ambrose of Kofi, and Langston of Ambrose, only for the Superpunch to floor Langston. Ambrose tags himself in, which Reigns doesn't approve of, and the Bulldog Driver wins at 11:30 total. **3/4 Reigns is confused at what Ambrose did, and Rollins has to separate them. Yeah, we got a WrestleMania match coming up, don't we?

But before we go to commercial, the Wyatts hijack the feed. “Shield: come out, come out wherever you are.” Wyatt gets it more than the Shield does. He knows the way they behave, and he knows what they are. They are Pawns who move forward but never backwards, crawling forward with their useless days to the moment they sacrifice themselves for the King. But Wyatt knows something: the moment of sacrifice is close, and he will build his empire on them. He will smile as the enemies drown. Harper asks if it's worth it. What Harper knows is that Wyatt is the King. Harper whistles in the dark as Rowan adds the punchline: “Run.” These three are AMAZING in their routine.

Later tonight: Randy Orton faces Daniel Bryan. If Bryan wins, he could become the Face of the Company™. JBL: “Could!”

Hey, the Seahawks co-opted the YES chant!

ATTENTION EVERYONE! Bad News Barrett has a gavel! He mentions that last night's Super Bowl was the most watched event in US history, but there's some Bad News: you ate so much junk food you're going to get a heart attack and will die within a year. So there! But wait – Jerry Lawler has something to say! He has Bad News, too: next week, with any luck, Barrett won't be around! Barrett is fuming. Really? We're doing Barrett/Lawler?

Have you gotten the WWE App yet? Here, let's show you how to do it. And now some news on the WWE Network and how it can save you $500 a year. There will be original programming, such as Top 10 countdown shows as voted on by the fans.

Later tonight: Not Daniel Bryan will speak about the Elimination Chamber!

Christian is back! And he'll be in the Elimination Chamber, having beaten Jack Swagger. He has a match, next.

SIDE NOTE: Really? Barrett is being wasted on Jerry Lawler? Lawler either can't or shouldn't wrestle, and any time an old man puts you in your place, you're done. He was getting over with the podium and gavel, and they're going to have Lawler be his first foe? I'm a Barrett fan, and this just irks me.

Christian v. Jack Swagger. It's a rematch. Christian tries to clap up the crowd as Cesaro and Colter are at ringside. Swagger with a takedown and Gator Roll headlock, then he works Christian over in the corner. Blind charge misses, and Christian dumps Swagger right in front of Colter. Christian with a baseball slide, and he follows with a fakeout that (eventually) leads to Swagger pulling Christian off the apron. Swagger throws Christian into the steps, and back in, it gets two. Jerry Lawler is trending on Twitter as Swagger gets a knee in the corner and huge throw for two. He goes for the double armbar on Christian as Colter talks to Cesaro. Christian gets up and fights out, then kicks Swagger only to walk into the Oklahoma Stampede for two. Crowd gets behind Christian as Swagger chokes him on the bottom rope. Swagger slaps Christian around and kicks him, adding a series of rights and going up. Salute on the second rope, but Swagger dives into Christian's foot. JBL: “A blue dot would look better than Christian's face!” Yes, it was in context. Swagger misses a lariat and gets punched, then it's a missile dropkick by Christian, who pumps up the crowd. Swagger catches him with a knee to the gut, then a gutwrench try. Christian flips over the top and gets a inverted DDT for two. Christian is ready for the Killswitch, and he trips Swagger and does his over-the-ropes punch. He trips Swagger again, this time to the mat, and goes up top only to be caught. Swagger into the Patriot Lock, but Christian escapes and tries the Killswitch. Swagger pushes out, only to get caught with a back kick. Swagger pulls Christian does, Vaderbomb hits foot, and a sunset flip off the second rope ends it at 5:58. Colter chews out Swagger after the match. **1/4

If you were here last week, you'd know that the tag title match from last week was interrupted by the Viking Space Lord™. So we'll have a cage match – pin/submission ONLY – coming up next because HERE COMES DA CAGE!

And because they were always about bucking tradition, the champs enter first, still not having gotten the memo to act like the bad guys. Question: why can he say “Badd Ass” in his catchphrase, but he can't spell “B-a-double D A-double S” beforehand?

SIDENOTE during this commercial break: you notice how Cody and Dustin's heat dissipated fast when they were put against two heels who don't try to act like heels? And then the Attitude Era fans chant along because, let's face it, people like chanting along, and suddenly Cody and Dustin are the lesser team by default? All that effort thrown out the window.

Okay, two hours to go, Andy. Get set, get in a good mood.

Betty White will be in the house next week!

Cage match for the WWE Tag Team Titles: New Age Outlaws v. Rhodes Brothers. It looks like this is going to be a regular tag match, just inside a cage. Dogg and Dustin will start. Dustin with a headlock on Dogg, and he adds a hiptoss and taunts Dogg, forcing him to go to Gunn. No tag, though, and Dogg tries to leave the cage. No point in that, and Dustin rolls him up for two. Dogg: “What are we doing in here?” Dustin throws Dogg into the cage, but he no-sells and brings in Gunn. A wacky staredown follows, as Dustin spit-breathes at Gunn. Gunn replies, and he gets attacked. Cody in as the challengers work the arm. Gunn punches out (Crowd is on Cody's side), but Cody fights out and gets the Brisco rollup for two. Gunn to the gut, and he stares at Dustin too long as Cody gets a small package for two. The Outlaws regroup in the corner, stalling like the old-school heels they are, before Gunn attacks Cody and brings Dogg in. Dogg works the arm and kicks away, and the crowd is bored so they chant for Punk. Dogg gets one. The poor announcers can't say a thing about it. Gunn back in, and he works on Cody's arm some more, wrapping it around the ropes. Gunn keeps working the arm, going to the armbar. He drops elbows on Cody's arm, and Dogg comes in with punches to the gut and more arm work. Hammerlock into the turnbuckle, and a straight right, but Cody with a clothesline for two. Cody works Dogg's arm with a top wristlock. Cody drops the knees on Dogg's arm for two. Dustin in, and he gets an uppercut while mocking Dogg. Snapmare and he drops the leg on the arm before going to the armbar. This match is, like, the OPPOSITE of what it needs to be. Goldust keeps on the arm, but Dogg drives a knee to block and sends Dustin into the corner. JBL says the crowd doesn't know who to cheer for. Dustin drops with the kneeling uppercut and goes for ten punches in the corner to get the crowd back into it. Dustin misses a crossbody and goes into the cage, and Gunn tags in as we go to break and the crowd chants “We Want Punk”.

Cage Match, part two. Before we get back, Alberto Del Rio says he won't stand for hate and discrimination. Right. Anyway, Dogg is tagged in as the Outlaws corner Dustin. Dogg throws Dustin into the cage, over and over. It gets two. Dogg with the chinlock from behind, and Goldust misses a dropkick only for Dogg to miss an elbow. Gunn cuts the tag off, then adds a whip, but Goldust with a back elbow to tease a hot tag, only to get cut off by Gunn. Big boot by Gunn gets two. Dogg in, and he pulls up Dustin for the punch-out and Dancing haymaker... but Dustin ducks it and gets a spinebuster. HOT tag Cody, who goes to work on Gunn. Gunn goes into the cage and gets hit with the sliding uppercut and Holly Kick. Dropkick for Dogg, and Gunn misses the Famouser. Dogg cuts off Cross Rhodes, but Dustin with a powerslam only to go into the cage. Disaster Kick to Gunn gets two. Crowd thought it was the finish. Cody's the only one standing now, and he looks around the cage. He calls the DX chop and... climbs? Dogg follows, only to get knocked off. Cody gets to the top and he does the moonsault press OFF THE CAGE to Dogg! Gunn then swoops in with the Rocker Dropper, and that's it at 16:11. Of course. ** I fail to see why they're the tag champs, or why we couldn't have this be a normal cage match. On top of that, Dogg almost forgot to catch Cody. In fact, replays show he didn't even try to catch Cody more than a little – he had time to get over and make the catch. Seriously, I don't like to call for firings, but if you can't protect your opponent despite ample time to do so, why are you here?

Later tonight, Not Daniel Bryan!

Also, Daniel Bryan! Against Randy Orton!

Meanwhile, later tonight, we'll have the Wyatts against Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, and Xavier Woods.


Zack Ryder v. Titus O'Neil. O'Neil gets new music as we see the Prime Time breakup. Ryder gets in the first shot, but Titus sets him on the top rope and shoves him over. He then throws Ryder into the barricade as Miz appears at ringside. Back in, it gets two. Miz complains about the two of them being on Raw. Meanwhile, Titus slams Ryder and goes to a bearhug. I think we just saw Vince's petty shot at what Punk did. Ryder elbows out of the bearhug and kicks Titus only to run into a lariat. The crowd chants for Punk again as Titus misses a blind charge. Ryder with knees to the face on a charge for two. Broski Boot is set up and delivered, then he goes up but gets caught. Rib breakers follow into a flapjack. Titus barks and charges, getting an avalanche and high spinebuster for the pin at 2:46. 1/2* In all seriousness, smart move of Vince to put on a match that would cause a CM Punk chant, then have someone do what he sees as Punk's “whine and walk” act. He can respond to Punk's actions with plausible deniability.

Later tonight, it's a main event! Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan will face off – and HHH is watching intently.

Just an advance note: I might not be around to rant on the Raw on March 31st, since it's in Washington, DC – my neck of the woods. Scott, can you pull some strings and see if you can get me a press pass?

Black History Month means we celebrate some of wrestling's biggest legends. First: Ernie Ladd. This would mean more, except that they had Big E Langston and Kofi Kingston get no entrance compared to Rey Mysterio just an hour ago.

DANCE-OFF: Fandango v. Santino Marella. Yes. This is happening. Summer Rae was furious upon seeing his TitanTron. Santino tells “Faaaaandiiiiiingo” that they don't want to dance against him, because he's a dancing FREAK. He learned new moves that will blow him away. So, instead, he wants to see Summer Rae dance against an audience member. Hey, guess which one he chooses? That's right, Emma from NXT. Complete with her own sign with a hashtag. Nothing wrong with promoting NXT segments to Raw, but the camera work is awful. Santino: “That's it?” Crowd chants for Emma. And yes, she does the arm-thrust dance. And use her music. Summer Rae is not impressed. Santino polls the audience, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, Emma wins. Of course, Santino wants them to vote for her. Fandango and Summer Rae storm off as Santino and Emma do the hoppity-hug thingy. Cole imitates Emma's dance. JBL looks like he wants to be on another planet. That went about 100 times better than it should have been.

A new program for the WWE Network: Legends House. Duggan, Atlas, Piper, Okerlund, Hart, Patterson, Jim, and Finkel. A minion of mine says this is almost a guarantee Hillbilly Jim is going to go to the Hall of Fame this year, since he's the odd man out. The Network's going to launch PRIOR to Raw on 2/24/14 if my math is correct... let's see... eleven hours from now... seems like 9AM.

Sheamus is headed to the ring. He'll have a match next.

Sheamus v. Curtis Axel. Ryback is with Axel for this one. Either fire Ryback or bring in Goldberg – it's reached critical mass. Lockup, and Sheamus backs Axel into the corner as the crowd again asks for Punk. Headlock takedown, and Axel gets to the ropes. Back to the headlock, but Axel goes to the corner and works shoulder rams. Sheamus reverses a whip and gets a kneelift and clothesline. Axel bails to the floor, but Sheamus follows only to get caught in the ropes. Axel goes for a neckbreaker on the top rope, but Sheamus reverses to the Ten of Clubs and a clothesline to send Axel to the floor again. JBL makes a Six Nations Rugby reference as Axel eats the table at ringside. Back in, more axhandles and Axel goes for the ride only to throw Sheamus's bad shoulder into the post twice. Axel pounds away on Sheamus, kicking him to the apron and landing an elbow on the arm. Sheamus tries to fight up, but Axel keeps working the shoulder, getting a top wristlock. Ryback gets heel heat? Sure, why not. Sheamus with a big headbutt to get free, but Axel cuts it off again. Dropkick by Axel (“That's why I'm better than perfect!”) and he gets one. Axel works on the arm in the ropes, then chokes Sheamus on the bottom rope. Crowd chants for Punk again as Axel works the arm again. It becomes a Fujiwara armbar as all the momentum has just left this match. Sheamus is right angry and punches out, but he eats boot on a blind charge. Sheamus recovers quickly with a Polish Hammer and works in the corner, leading to a Finlay Roll try. Axel elbows out the first time, but not the second. Sheamus tries to fire up the crowd as he's ready for the Brogue Kick, and that's all she wrote at 7:04. Sheamus has momentum on his return and all, so really, Axel should've been squashed. Not because he has no heat – although there's that – but because a World Title contender shouldn't struggle with one half of a lowly tag team on a throwaway match. 3/4*

Cole welcomes all those who are watching Raw live for the first time in Australia.

Not Daniel Bryan will be in the ring next.

And as he comes to the ring, he gets a very salty reaction. He has no idea what to do with it, either. As the theme music ends, and before he can say anything, here comes Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio will speak first, and says he's saving the crowd from being put to sleep. He wants instead to talk about the two of them and their unfinished business. Not Bryan doesn't care about Del Rio and has nothing with him. Del Rio counters that he's going to choose when they're done. See, when Not Bryan was gone for four years waiting for a movie career, Del Rio was out winning titles. “Being famous doesn't make you a champion.” Does Dwayne know that? Del Rio is thinks Not Bryan is nothing more than a chihuahua afraid of Del Rio. He wants to make Not Bryan beg. Not Bryan cuts him off, acting like he has NO IDEA WHY DEL RIO would be mad... and Del Rio cuts him off and pounds on him. Whose side do we take in this one? Del Rio charges and nearly gets Not Bryan Bombed before he escapes. Not Bryan rips the shirt off and wants to face him NOW. Del Rio says it's on HIS terms. Lots of macho posturing ensues.

As a reminder: Daniel Bryan faces Randy Orton in a non-title match tonight.

We have another six-man coming up!

Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, and Xavier Woods v. Wyatt Family. Hey, it's the night after the Super Bowl and R-Truth knows where he is! We also find out that next week, Mark Henry will be back. Rowan and Woods start, and Rowan clubs Woods down and shoulderblocks him. Slam try, but Woods fights out and kicks away only to get thrown into the ropes. Truth tags himself in as they double-team Rowan, and Truth with a Northern Lariat and legdrop for one, brother. Rowan carries Truth into the Wyatt corner, and Harper comes in. Truth fights out only to get destroyed by Harper. Harper with an uppercut and Bray's in. Bray with a kick and stomps, then a falling headbutt. He traps Truth in the corner and avalanches him as the crowd seems to be chanting for Cena. I think. Or is it Ziggler? Harper with a Gator Roll into a headlock. Truth fights out only to get a headbutt. Truth catches Harper with a leg lariat and both men are down. Hot tag Ziggler, and he presses down Harper and punches away. Dropkick follows, then a Stinger Splash into a ten-punch sequence. Rude Awakening follows, then a Heart Stop elbow and leaping DDT, Rowan saves. Rowan tosses Ziggler, Woods dropkicks Rowan, and Bray with a one-hand uranage. Ziggler dropkicks Bray and goes for the Zig Zag on Harper, who throws him off, and the discus lariat follows. Bray in and he does the inverted look before hitting Sister Abigail's Kiss on Ziggler to end it at 5:01. *1/2 Nothing wrong with this match – makes the Wyatts look good. But wait – the Shield now interrupt! Ambrose sarcastically acts scared before saying they're not in his fantasy world, so take his act elsewhere! Rollins says Bray is good at rhetoric, but he's delusional, and his biggest delusion is thinking they'll beat the Shield. Reigns tells them to look around, because they're in the Shield's yard. At Elimination Chamber, play time is over. Believe. We cut back to Bray, who is just laughing. “I welcome this war! Bring it to me!” Yeah, you can't get in the head of someone who isn't there themselves.

Did we mention Orton and Bryan are facing off tonight?

Alexander Rusev gets a vignette in which he speaks Bulgarian and has Lana with him.

Naomi v. Aksana. Cameron and Alicia Fox will be at ringside. But before we can get someone new over, here comes AJ and Tamina to ringside. JBL has AJ's hat on. Lockup, and Aksana kicks away in the corner, but Naomi reverses and throws the forearms. Naomi vaults over Aksana's charge and... twerks. Yup. Bubba Bomb follows, as AJ actually puts over Naomi. After several rotations, Naomi gets two. Aksana throws Naomi down and works the knee of Naomi as AJ blames Tamina for those losses. Aksana gets a suplex for two. She goes to an arm/chinlock on Naomi as Tamina glares at AJ. Aksana slams down Naomi by the hair for one, then goes to the chinlock. AJ coins the term “Foxana” and keeps track of Naomi's challenge from the WWE App. Aksana switches to a figure-four headlock and shushes the crowd. Aksana misses whatever – who knows, we were busy looking at AJ talk – and Naomi kicks Aksana away. Leg lariat by Naomi and a dropkick, then... what is THAT? It's not PG, and even AJ agrees. Naomi tries for a sunset flip, but Aksana gets a knee to the eyes and covers for one. Naomi fights back with a shot to the face, but her eye is hurting. She goes up, and the split-legged moonsault finishes at 4:52. Cameron catches Alicia, and Naomi butt butts Alicia for good measure. AJ refuses to give Naomi any credit post-match. 1/2* Not the most stellar show for matches.

But Orton and Bryan ought to change that! The main event is next!

Betty White is here next week!

Yeah, the acoustics tonight are awful, because everyone's chanting YES, but it's not easy to hear. Cole is trolling JBL about Daniel Bryan being Face of the WWE. As a reminder, Orton will be facing all five challengers one on one from now to the Chamber. But first, a commercial break.

Christian will be Orton's opponent on SmackDown.

Non-title main event: Daniel Bryan v. Randy Orton. A long lockup begins the match, with Orton pushing Bryan into the corner as the crowd is universally behind Bryan. Orton gets a clean break, and then... he bails and tries to quiet the crowd. He returns, kicking Bryan in the gut and whipping him in, but Bryan reverses and elbows Orton. Crowd is going YES and has been loud all night as Bryan works the arm. Orton breaks by using the beard, then headbutts Bryan as the crowd gets a Punk chant started. Oh, dear. Orton stomps away on Bryan and gets a suplex, getting one. Crowd begins to shout down Punk with a Daniel Bryan chant. Orton to the headlock, and a tackle to knock over Bryan before he poses. Orton's smirk is great. Next criss-cross goes Bryan's way as he lands an uppercut and kicks away. Bryan with a dragon screw on Orton, who goes to the ropes for time, but Bryan follows and goes to the eyes. Bryan goes outside and teases the ringpost figure-four, but simply slams Orton's leg into the post. He does it a second time, then gets a head start and dropkicks Orton's leg into it. Orton tries to get away, but Bryan catches him and puts on the Celtic Knot. He switches to an Indian Deathlock on Orton as the crowd chants for him some more. Daniel Bryan is turning into the poor man's Austin in the constant chant department. Bryan adds a double-arm surfboard, turning it to Pin-Up Strong for two. Bryan with a European Uppercut and he stomps the knee as the crowd wants Punk again. Bryan with an uppercut to floor Orton, for two. Back to the Celtic Knot by Orton, who bites the leg to break. Orton with uppercuts now, but the third one is reversed to a backslide for two. Another dragon screw follows, and Bryan drops his weight on the leg in the ropes. Orton goes outside, hoping to get away from Bryan, but Bryan finds him and kicks the leg out of his leg on the outside. Bryan then throws Orton into Michael Cole's lap, and Cole's headset goes into the ring with Orton. Bryan kicks away on Orton in the corner and wraps his leg around the bottom rope. Hamstring dropkick by Bryan as the crowd chants for JBL for no reason. Top-rope Frankensteiner follows, getting two. Bryan looking for the bow-and-arrow surfboard, slowly setting it up as Orton fights it. So Bryan just jumps on the knees instead. Big kick by Bryan hurts Orton, and more hamstring kicks follows. It takes five or six before the crowd YESses to them. Bryan gets a half Boston crab, but we're in Omaha so Orton makes the ropes... until Bryan pulls him away. Fortunately for Orton, we're still in Omaha and it's only 10:50, so he makes the ropes again. Orton goes to the outside, injured, so Bryan follows. Orton catches him and back suplexes him into the barricade. Back in, Orton gets two. Orton pulls himself up and goes to That Place, picking Bryan up and stomping his head but favoring the bad leg. He stomps hard into the gut and works the crowd a little, then headbutts Bryan in the corner. He punches away maniacally, but Bryan reverses and kicks away as the crowd goes YES in time. Comeback time for Bryan, but he flies into a powerslam... which still tweaks Orton's leg as we go to break.

Main event, part two. Bryan does the YES kicks on Orton, but Orton catches the roundhouse and gets a spinning T-Bone Suplex (!!), which hurts Bryan's arm. Orton pushes Bryan to the outside and follows, getting a hammerlock and throwing the arm (the right arm, interestingly) into the post. He does it again (“You ain't done yet!”), then throws his shoulder into the steps. Back in, it gets two. He goes to a Fujiwara armbar and twists the hand of Bryan. Bryan is just bringing out the best in Orton. Orton then holds the arm down, smiles, and stomps the wrist against the bone. It gets one, but Bryan has no right arm. Orton keeps working the arm, dropping his knee onto it for one. Crowd goes nuts for Daniel Bryan as Orton wraps the arm around the ropes. Orton poses again to draw big heel heat as Bryan pulls himself up, so Orton goes to the outside and drops the arm on the top rope. Orton chokes Bryan on the bottom rope, then slides in. He pulls Bryan up by the beard again and sets him on the top rope, delivering a big right (and checking his hand before punching). He follows Bryan up and sets up for a superplex, but Bryan blocks like crazy with his bad hand before headbutting Orton. Orton hangs on and goes to the shoulder to hold on, but Bryan swings with lefts to stay alive. The crowd YESses with it, and Bryan headbutts Orton down and goes all the way up, nailing the missile dropkick. His arm is too hurt to kip up, though. Both men are down and injured, but Orton's up first and headbutts Bryan. Now a strike-fest breaks out, with Bryan winning with hamstring kicks only for Orton to drop Bryan on the shoulder. Orton stalks Bryan, but Bryan catches Orton to look for the Yes Lock. It's locked in, bad arm and all, but Orton's foot makes the ropes. Both men are hurting as Bryan kicks away on Orton's leg. He goes coast-to-coast with a dropkick, but lands on the bad shoulder. It happens a second time, but on the third, Orton intercepts with his own dropkick! Orton's smiles and crawls over, picking Bryan up and going for the Draping DDT. He connects, then mocks the crowd, begging them to boo him. Crowd goes NO huge as Orton gets ready for the RKO, but Bryan superkicks Orton out of nowhere. Bryan up top, and the Ram Jam connects, getting a VERY close two. More YES Kicks follow, and this time the roundhouse connects. And now Kane heads to the ring, so Bryan dropkicks HIM off the apron and low bridges out Orton before diving onto both men. Kane charges and gets sent into the steps, and back in, Orton is ready for Bryan. RKO is missed, but Bryan gets the running knee to win at 26:57. WHY THE HECK WAS THIS NOT THE WRESTLEMANIA MAIN EVENT!? ****3/4

Bryan leads the YES chants at the end, but Orton returns to the ring. Bryan sends him out, then Kane, but this allows Orton to attack and it's two against one. Kane yanks his tie off and picks Bryan up, giving him the chokeslam. Kane's pyro is on one-second delay. Don't tell me it's Kane they're giving Bryan to at Mania – hopefully this just continues the Bryan v. Authority storyline.


The first hour just annoyed me – and don't get me started on the futility of chanting for Punk, since it's not like he was fired – but the main event may be one of the best Raw matches ever. I say this a lot, I know, but considering the timing, the time given, the finish, and everything else, I feel we just watched what should have been the WrestleMania main event had it not been for someone walking in from Hollywood and demanding a spot up top despite not doing any work.

Didn't we go through this last year?

I'm still baffled why the Outlaws are tag champs considering the damage they're doing as “heels who act like faces” – an act that just doesn't help anyone – plus they should never have a 20-minute match for any reason. The official introduction of Emma will hopefully lead to a reprise of the NXT comedy match that Tommy and Scott talked up very highly, so I have hopes for her. The Shield and Wyatt Family bring the goods on the mic.

There's more to love than hate about this show, unless you're one of those chanting for CM Punk.


MATCH TIME: 77:19 over eight matches.
BEST MATCH: Orton/Bryan
NIGHT MVP (kayfabe): The New Age Outlaws

FINAL SCORE: Call it a 7. The main event is what people will – or should – be talking about, but a crowd that wasn't really up for the show and didn't care about much of anything outside the main event takes a whole point off the score. I don't know if it was the sound system or the lackluster undercard, but they were even tuned out of the main event, which is a shame because you saw an Instant Classic. I said it in the match, and I mean it: Daniel Bryan is the best thing to happen to Randy Orton. He's gotten so much better in the ring.

Okay, that's all for me. No matter how much you chant for Scott Keith, he's not coming back to recap live Raw. You'll have to settle for me. Tommy Hall has SmackDown and NXT for you, though. See you next week.


  1. Dude, I liked the main event but ****3/4

    No...just no. That's bonafide classic territory. MOTYC type stuff.

    That Raw match was excellent, but I don't even know it was the best match of 2014

  2. All I have to say, is that this is going to be the most interesting Road to WM for all the wrong reasons.

  3. This thread Andy, may get over 200 comments.
    Just a feeling..

  4. I think it was probably the best match of 2014 so far. Can't really think of what you'd put up against it… it was a little better than Bryan/Wyatt for me, and that's the only one I can really think of that comes close.

  5. Bryan/Wyatt is exactly what I'm thinking. I liked it a *smidge* better but have no problem with people like tonight's match either.

    Neither match is a 1/4* shy of perfection

  6. Theadjack....

    Joey Styles just tweeted that ECW's entire run of TV will be on the network at launch! You have to think it will not be the only show to have it's complete run on the network at launch.

    I will now have even less of a life

  7. If Cena botching a frankensteiner and giving himself a powerbomb against Punk while never selling a single thing (with Superman comebacks every 2 minutes) in his match last year STILL has people creaming their drawers, then yes, this is a MOTYC, too. Orton and Bryan are seemingly made for each other the same way Cena and Punk are. Good comparison, Andy. Good review

  8. "However, if I walked out on my job, I would have a hell of a time getting a new one, and no one would be sympathetic to me."

    What a stupid analogy. Were you WWE Champion? What the hell does this even mean? Do you sell millions in merchandise? Do people buy tickets to watch you work every day?

    I stopped reading after that bit of nonsense. Have an opinion about Punk, but comparing your life to one of the top 3-5 pro wrestlers in the world as a way to make a point is absurd.

  9. After seeing tonight's Raw, I could see why CM Punk left.

    The WWE needs to get its shit together. Almost everything comes off as forced, trite bullshit that comes with fake laughter from the three stooges at ringside. No one gives a crap about the midcarders because we have been given no reason to care.

  10. Orton and Bryan's early Raw match seemed better. I'm going to rewatch this one more closely because the rest of the show put me a sleepy mood, though.

  11. Randy Orton - watch and learn

  12. I don't know if I love or hate the fact that usually, by the end of the Rumble, you have an idea where they're going for Mania.

    We're weeks past the Rumble and THEY have no idea where they're going for Mania.

  13. I don't care who you are. I don't care what you do for the company. If you walk away and leave your co-workers behind to try to cover up for your negligence and absence, you have failed in the business world. That's just the way it is. I'm sorry that you think Punk is somehow above common courtesy, but if Phil Brooks pulled this in any other line of LIFE, he'd be seen as a troublemaker who isn't worth any of the positives he brings to the table. That's just the way business works.

  14. I wonder if that goes all the way back to its 1992/1993 origins or if it begins with the TNN era.

  15. I have had jobs where it wasn't worth it; I gave advanced notice. That's what you do.

  16. From the "I'm not telling the fans that crap!" comment that's circulating, he was put in a position where he had to do something that night he was unwilling to do. Under those conditions, it's kinda hard to give advance notice.

  17. Good work as always, sir. I haven't watched Raw in months and still feel as annoyed and disconnected and irked as the rest of the IWC! Kudos!

  18. Amsterdam_Adam_CurryFebruary 3, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    I'm just saying that mature women are kind of my thing. But fuck, not THAT mature.


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