The John Report: The Raw Deal for 03/15/10 (Steve Austin Hosts)
Welcome to the Raw Deal. I’ll get to the festivities momentarily, but I have to plug something important first.

Note: If you’re looking for the always ridiculous Commentfest you can see it posted as of 8:30pmET RIGHT HERE so give it a look now.

I’m running a tournament on my blog called “The Greatest WrestleMania Match Ever” featuring what I feel is a fair way to determine the best WrestleMania match ever. There will be polls that started last Saturday through to WrestleMania on the 28th. If you click here you’ll be able to catch up on everything you’ve missed over the course of the last three days. Get over to thejohnreport.net to check it out as it’s ongoing all the way to WrestleMania.

Live from San Diego, California this is the Raw Deal…

I was hoping they’d start the show with the glass breaking and Steve Austin coming out. Instead, we got the “Cena gets beat up by Batista” video package. Once that ended, the glass broke and came Austin to a huge pop. Oh yeah, should be noted that Cole snuck a “vintage” in there three minutes into the show. I was very excited to see him because other than the Hall of Fame last year he hasn’t been on WWE TV. He’s clearly been working out and he looked good although I was shocked that he wasn’t wearing one his Austin shirts. He got a beer, he said ass a few times, the crowd was really hot for everything he did and it worked. He put over Hart as I marked out while remembering my favorite match ever between the two at WM13 and even put Vince over as being an intense man. It was good to see him again, but I was hoping for some kind of face to face interaction leading to a stunner. Wouldn’t it have been great if he gave one to The Miz or something? That would be memorable. Instead, he just walked away as we went into the first match.

The Big Show d. John Cena (*)
Can we call the “can Cena lift up Big Show?” spots vintage because they’ve been going on for at least six years now? The match was proceeding along slowly until Batista’s music hit to distract Cena. In a hilarious spot, after Cena hit a legdrop off the top, Show was laying on his back for what seemed like a full minute while Cena stared at Batista. Show couldn’t move in all that time? Apparently not. Cena was able to hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle on him. Show hit the chokeslam, Cena kicked out just to let you know he’s Superman. Show went for the KO, Cena ducked, went for the AA, but Batista’s staring distracted him enough to allow Show to get off his shoulders and KNOCK THE FUCK OUT~! of Cena with the punch for the win. Post match, Batista talked trash to Cena as the announcers told us that he’s got Cena’s number.

The next match was supposed to be Bourne vs. Sheamus (Lawler was so excited for it), but Sheamus hit him with the microphone, did the kick and then the Razor’s Edge to take care of the short guy in that meaningless Money in the Bank match. Sheamus followed it up with a confident promo basically saying he’ll beat HHH at Mania. And if he does, you can better believe HHH will get his win back a month later at Extreme Rules. I added that last part.

Backstage, Austin was visited by Shawn Michaels. He asked Austin if he thought Shawn could beat Undertaker. Steve said he could, but he won’t. Michaels said that’s fine because nobody thought he’d wrestle after WM14 (I didn’t), yet he’s still around. Jericho walked in to remind us that he’s the world champion and that he was going to relish beating Shawn again. Michaels said Undertaker took care of four guys on Smackdown (poor Hart Dynasty not even being named) as a message, so Shawn was going to send one of his own. Jericho asked Steve to have some beers like old times. Steve laughed, then said no. It could have been such a great segment with 3 of my all time favorites. Instead I felt let down. I have expectations that are so high. I blame myself.

Maryse Maryse d. Kelly Kelly (1/2*)
Kelly got her 45 seconds of offense in before Maryse came back to win with her French Kiss DDT. Post match, she attacked Kelly only to have Gail and Eve save her. Shockingly, out to attack them were Michelle McCool & Layla from Smackdown wearing cowgirl outfits. I like the shorts at least. They cleaned house on all the faces. Well, at least Michelle did. Layla held people up for her. That’s something. To end it, they celebrated with Vickie Guerrero at the top of the ramp with Maryse joining in. This will likely lead to some heels vs. faces mixed brand tag match at WM. I’ll guess it’s 3 on 3 and I think my beloved Mickie James will be back next week although I’m not sure on that. Call it a hunch. Heel side would be Michelle, Maryse & Layla taking on Mickie, Beth (now face) & Gail I guess.

They aired the Undertaker/Michaels video package that was the same one from Smackdown. Awesome like usual with the addition of wrestlers talking about them.

Shawn Michaels d. Chris Jericho via countout (**)
Many people can quote me as saying I thought they’d get 10-15 minutes. What did they get? Seven minutes. Felt like four. (That’s what she said.) They were able to throw in a couple of “vintage” Michaels comments by the robot Michael Cole, but they barely told a story in the ring. Michaels went for the superkick and Jericho bailed on the floor for the countout. That’s it? A whole week of getting excited for Jericho/Michaels ends like this? Weak. As Jericho walked up the ramp, Edge came out to attack because I guess not getting the upper hand on Smackdown pissed him off. He took him into the ring and delivered a spear. He also grabbed the microphone to say “spear” into Jericho’s ear. Yep, that’s the move. So what happened to that whole Michaels sending a message thing? Didn’t happen. Maybe that was the point? Sure, we’ll go with that.

Video package on Austin’s straight to DVD film “Damaged.” Lots of fighting scenes. Shocker. I watched a movie with a wrestler in it the other day. The Princess Bride with Andre the Giant. Classic.

Backstage, Orton said that he respects HHH and takes him seriously whereas he can’t say the same about Rhodes & Dibiase. By the way, Orton vs. Rhodes vs. Dibiase is official for WM. The top nine matches that I wrote about (thanks to info from the Wrestling Observer) back in early January are all happening. Good to know. That’s why I like the card. Long term planning is good. Plus, no stupid triple threat title matches like the last two years. I like singles matches for titles.

Triple H vs. Randy Orton ended in the predictable DQ (*1/2)
If you thought there’d be a winner in this match you obviously aren’t paying close enough attention. This was the most obvious booking they’ve done in a long time. Doesn’t make it wrong. Im just saying you could spot it a mile away. The only question was who would hit their finisher before the WM opponents came in to interfere? I thought it would be Orton hitting the RKO leading to Legacy attacking him. Instead, it was Legacy attacking HHH. No, that doesn’t make it less predictable. Just when it looked like HHH had the upper hand, Sheamus KO’d him with the kick to the head. Then, just for the sake of the director, Legacy took Orton out to the floor to have Cody hit his Cross Rhodes finisher that doesn’t look like it hurts at all. The segment ended with Sheamus standing over HHH while Legacy stood over Orton.

Next WWE Hall of Famer is Gorgeous George. It was a good video package showcasing his history as well as pointing out how his persona really helped him get over. I was curious about him, so I looked him up to find that he’s been dead for 47 years. I guess he was due? Or they don’t have people to induct. Pick one.

Batista d. Kofi Kingston (*)
It was almost a squash. Best part of the match was when Kofi’s kick cut Batista above his nose and the director didn’t zoom in on Batista again. He finished him off with a clothesline, spinebuster and a stiff looking Batista Bomb that sent Kingston straight to jobber hell. I thought they’d add Kofi to Money in the Bank on this night. Nope. I thought Cena would come out for a brawl. I guess he really is scared. Poor baby scared of the badass grandpa. Old people are scary, I agree.

Next week’s main eventer is WWE Hall of Famer (based on a couple of appearances and because he’s not in baseball’s HOF) is Pete Rose. I’m sure he’ll get more backstage segments than Austin got because it makes no sense.

Next week it’s HHH/Orton vs. Rhodes/Dibiase/Sheamus. I’d expect the faces to end up on top there, at least after the match to even it out going into WM. Does this mean we can forget the awful HHH/Orton feud of 2009? I will do that no problem.

Contract Signing with McMahon, Hart & Austin
Hart came out first barely selling the foot with McMahon and Austin out after. First thing was Austin telling Vince that Stu Hart would be in the HOF, which Vince was fine with. (Side note: I read over the weekend that Tyson Kidd won’t be at the HOF because he’s scheduled for the fan Axxess thing at the same time. That’s weak.) Vince was cool with it because the Harts are all nuts basically. I love how Vince is so cocky going into WM even though he loses all the time at WrestleManias. He’s like the New Jersey Nets of WrestleMania matches. The stip for Hart/McMahon is No Holds Barred, which is essentially the same as the Taker/HBK match, which is no DQ or countouts. They both signed it. Austin verified it was legit and walked off. At the top of the ramp he said there was one other thing that Bret could tell Vince. The camera panned over to Bret to see the cast was off. He told us that he wanted Vince to think he was hurt and that he didn’t want to go into details about how they filmed the segment where it looked like he broke his leg. He ended it by saying if Vince backs out of the match now he’ll sue. He followed that up with a couple of shots with the cast to the head of Vince. Crowd was hot for all this, so that’s good. The show ended with Vince out in a heap.

I thought the segment was pretty good. It felt rushed because it started at the top of hour three, so they didn’t get into as much detail as I would have liked. Hart looked good hitting him with the cast while McMahon did a decent job of selling it. An Austin stunner on Vince would have been nice at the very end as well as a mini beer bash.

Three Stars of the Show
1. Bret Hart – Just because I’m happy that the stupid cast angle is over. Thank God.
2. Steve Austin – Missed him. Wish he was used better.
3. Randy Orton – Better as a heel, but he’s working his ass off to get over as a face.

6 out of 10
Last week: 5

It was a hard show to figure out. They made no mention of Money in the Bank (when will we know who the 10th guy is?) or the tag titles, but it’s understandable considering how hard they pushed the Cena/Batista, Orton/Rhodes/Dibiase, HHH/Sheamus and Hart/McMahon matches in particular. That was the main focus of this week’s Raw. For the most part it worked. Do I wish Jericho/Michaels got as much time as Orton/HHH got? Yes, of course. Do I think some of the non finishes are annoying? Absolutely. However, it’s part of the process of telling a story on the road to WrestleMania and I understand everything that they did. It made sense to me, for the most part.

In terms of matches, it sucks that Orton/HHH got more time than Michaels/Jericho. I know it’s Raw and we should never expect long matches, but if any match all year called for a longer match it was Michaels/Jericho. Instead, we got the World Champion walking out after seven minutes. Give me some actual good matches on Raw please!

Another thing I don’t get is how they have these guest hosts like Criss Angel or Cheech & Chong in multiple backstage segments yet when they’ve got Steve Austin there he’s only in one backstage segment. What’s up with that? It’s odd to me. Also, no Stunners at all? None? Weird.

Did I mention how happy I was that the cast angle is over? It wasn’t really needed. I understand the logic that Bret needed it to goad Vince into accepting the match, but it did hurt the feud for the last month prior to this. Hopefully their performance at WM makes us forget about the cast angle.

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Note: If you’re looking for the always ridiculous Commentfest you can see it posted as of 8:30pmET RIGHT HERE so give it a look now.
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In case you missed it, in addition to the greatest WM match tourney, I posted a recap of WrestleMania 22, which was a very solid show with one of the best crowds for any WWE event I’ve ever seen. I wrote the recap live back in 2006, but I also added comments to it as a way to give it a fresher perspective. I also was able to get a comment from the great Mickie James on her memorable match with Trish Stratus at that event, so check it out.

Keep checking me out on Twitter at Twitter.com/johnreport where I now have over 800 followers. Once I hit 1000, I’ll write a column about the 100 greatest WWE matches from 2000 to 2009.

Remember to check out my blog at its new URL at thejohnreport.net for all my columns, plus the greatest WrestleMania match ever tournament and whatever else I can transfer from my warped mind onto my blog.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week.

John Canton – oratoryjohn@gmail.com
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