For Your Consideration…The RAW Judicial Review for 11/23/10 with a new WWE Champion

For Your Consideration…The RAW Judicial Review for 11/23/10

Welcome back to the longest-running, action-adventure, passive-aggressive, matrimonially-enhanced sports entertainment column on the web today, For Your Consideration. I am your long missing host Andrew Wheeler, and I have got a packed column for you today. This week you can expect thoughts on the Old School RAW, the Top 50 Superstars DVD, the released wrestlers, Survivor Series and a full Judicial Review for tonight’s RAW. Damn.

So before I get down to business, I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for all of the congratulatory messages. The outpouring was fantastic, and I couldn’t be happier. The wedding was absolutely incredible (one of my highlights included my groom’s cake which was the Uncle Jailbird Joey cake from “Back to the Future”) and the honeymoon to Maui was insane! Now I know I promised that I was going to be back for RAW last week, and had every single intention of doing so, but the delightful folks at USAir decided otherwise. Long story short, my Sunday Night flight was abruptly cancelled 30 minutes before takeoff, leaving me stranded in Hawaii. Yes, that may sound luxurious, but when it’s 12:30 in the morning all you want to do is get on a plane and go home. In the end, we didn’t get home until Tuesday and were completely exhausted. I didn’t even get around to watching RAW until this past Sunday, and as such I jotted down a few comments.

An Indiscriminate Number of Old School Thoughts on RAW

1. Marked out huge for the old signature logo.
2. Would give anything for the old RAW open to be the new RAW open. No Nickelback and that great cheesy siren!
3. They brought back the old pyro! Seriously, this might be the best 30 seconds of WWE television in years.
4. The joy ended as soon as they showed Michael Cole. Glad Jerry brought back the old King costume, which is better than the cheesy t-shirts.
5. Why the hell is Justin Roberts dressed like that? RAW wasn’t in the 70s.
6. Mean Gene looks fantastic. Just keep him on television.
7. They brought back the old interview position, which is fantastic stuff. I half expect to see Bobby Heenan and Hercules.
8. Nice to see Bob Orton back. I’m hypatitsed to see him.
9. Cowboy Bob, you gotta stop eating before you come out for a promo.
10. Wade Barrett walking through the giant RAW letters is the kind of thing that might break someone’s skull trying to process everything.
11. Wade is doing laps around Cowboy Bob Orton on the microphone. This guy has grown leaps and bounds in a very short amount of time and is justification enough for the entire NXT experiment.
12. Where did the Mizfit get the RAW is WAR t-shirt and how the hell can I get one? That would have made a wonderful wedding present.
13. Cena appearing on the Titantron isn’t old school. I declare shenanigans.
14. Justin Roberts called the Ziggler match interpromotional. What’s the other promotion? RAW and Smackdown are brands.
15. Welcome back floating interview box!
16. I could have lived without the return of Sexual Chocolate. All I’m thinking of is Mae Young’s hand and I can’t stop vomiting.
17. I love the red, white and blue ring ropes. Thanks to watching years of poorly worked squash matches on Superstars, I’m more tolerant of bad wrestling when I see those colors. Bring on Mark Henry!
18. Lawler just compared Mark Henry to Bruno Sammartino. Why’s that? Did Henry try to sue the WWE? Did Henry have a less talented son that he tried to get a push for through nepotism?
19. Old School Violation #2: The lower third advertising crawl. The only thing Old School would have advertised would have been a hotline and some ice cream pops.
20. How are Dolph and Vickie still together? Didn’t she catch him cheating with Katelyn? I’m guessing we’re using selective memory here.
21. When you’re too lazy to stand to take a ZigZag, it might be time to cut back on catering.
22. Henry is the one getting put to sleep during his match? Ironic.
23. Hart Dynasty: dull. Hart Dynasty in Wrestlemania T-Shirts: dull in sweet shirts.
24. Hey, Tony Atlas! How coked up is he during this promo?
25. Yoshi Tatsu still works for the WWE? Who knew?
26. Old School Violation #3: Nexus are the tag champs but they don’t get an entrance? That should only be reserved for jobbers, not champions.
27. They couldn’t have gotten Bret for this episode?
28. All this talk about how the Hart Dynasty are family and are bound to fight makes me think that maybe they won’t break up. I hope they stay together because there aren’t enough other tag teams. But chances are they’ll wind up splitting.
29. Sure enough, Kidd turned on Smith. Well at least Tyson is free to be the dickish heel we know he can be.
30. Mene Gene has his old background! Sadly here comes Resurrection Truth, who has defiled a badass Survivor Series t-shirt by cutting it up.
31. Randy, stop telegraphing your punts to the head.
32. Update is back. Wow, he’s in the control center with that great blazer.
33. Hey, it’s Howard Finkel
34. The Brooklyn Brawler and Harvey Wippleman. If they’re out there, who’s fetching coffee for the agents?
35. So apparently Ezekiel Jackson is a face now.
36. Cole points out that in 2011, Brawler’s in a match. I know mocking Cole for being incompetent on commentary is passé, but I’m begging him to at least get the year right.
37. That was a nice squash match. Sadly, this is one of the things that is missing in the WWE. They need a way to get new talent over without wasting other talent.
38. Otunga/Barrett: The feud no one wants to see.
39. Old School Violation #4: The RAW Old School GM. ‘Nuff said.
40. John Cena is a simple man, apparently. No one give him a rabbit.
41. Did you know that 80 wrestlers are in the WWE Hall of Fame, and not all of them are sycophants like James Dudley and Pat Patterson?
42. Would it have killed John Cena to bust out his old school World Life T-shirt?
43. Jesus, what the hell did Miz do to that suitcase? I’m glad they want us to think that all the skulls that have bounced off the case have damaged it, but how the hell can he bring that through airport security?
44. Miz already hyping himself versus Cena at Mania, which isn’t for like 5 months? Very old school.
45. A-Rye isn’t a nickname, it’s a type of bread.
46. Five Moves of Mediocrity were actually completed? Nice.
47. Orton seems about five steps off for some reason. Maybe it’s all that hair weighting him down.
48. Cena and Orton going at it and even that exchange seemed listless.
49. Officials coming out in jackets? Nice. I would have loved to have seen the Duke of Dorchester out there to break it up.
50. The GMail declares Cena and Orton must be in Piper’s Pit.
51. Yay, the flying through space signature graphic again. And we get the old school entrance again!
52. It’s Volkoff and Sheik. They couldn’t get an entrance?
53. I really hold Sheik goes into business for himself.
54. Volkoff does a decent job of singing that anthem, I’ll give him that.
55. Hey, here comes Borscht Marinara. Smell the musty comedy.
56. Kozlov’s frustration at the USA chant actually made me chuckle.
57. Nice to see Slick’s still around.
58. Sheik with a microphone should be a weekly segment, even when they cut his microphone.
59. Borscht Marinara v. Greek Booze? Sigh. So Jimmy Snuka’s there to be the corner of heels, while Volkoff and Sheik are in the corner of the faces. Sure, that makes sense.
60. Santino standing on an apron is more entertaining than Santino in the ring.
61. Cobra is the worst finisher ever. Ever.
62. Sheamus killing everything in this path isn’t enough to make up for that lame finish.
63. These Morrison run-ins might just turn him heel. The fans want to see Sheamus destroy Marella. John Slo-Mo-rrison calls Sheamus a bully, and he and his beard challenge Sheamus.
64. I may hate Otunga, but I like his hooded sweatshirt.
65. Hey, Kofi Kingston on RAW. This is ghanna be fun.
66. Kofi gets the old box interview treatment and he compares himself to Koko B. Ware. That’s just cruel. Don’t sell yourself short, Kingston.
67. George The Animal Steele! The Ernerst Borgnine of the WWE doing a stroll-in! The referee stops him from eating a turnbuckle so he just eats another one. Fantastic.
68. So wait, Kofi now needs to cheat to beat David Otunga? Did Otunga get an upgrade or has Kingston been downgraded?
69. Briscoe and Anderson in the back with Morrison makes me wish that Arn would be in more segments.
70. Did you know the WWE used to be called WWWF before Vince muscled out his own father?
71. Aksana and Jim Duggan are in the back. He accuses her of stealing his gimmick. Dusty Rhodes in a wig and Kelly Kelly with a net helps Goldust get the Million Dollar Belt back. He then gives the belt to the Million Dollar Man, accompanied by IRS. Ted gives it back to Teddy, but Teddy forsakes his lineage. Cody pops up and Goldust asks for grooming tips before saying “help a brother out.” Common Man starts playing and Tatanka comes out of nowhere. This all culminates, of course, with Ron Simmons. Damn.
72. Lord Alfred Hayes “Promotional Consideration” returns. Whoever was doing that voice is pretty damn good.
73. Old School Violation #5: Get Krunk. They should have used Slick here.
74. It took until the Truth/Barrett match for Lawler to finally point out that this may be Cena’s last match in the WWE. They should have been making this a bigger deal.
75. This is the best use of R-Truth in a long time. He was made to look like a big deal and he went out there and let Wade pin him clean.
76. We get the signature for a third time and I’m not sick of it yet. I’m even still happy to see the video one more time. It’s better than Nickelback.
77. I wish Shawn Michaels were there just to call Lawler Kingfish.
78. Tito Santana interrupting Alberto Del Rio’s ring announcer? Sure, why not.
79. Chavo Classis is Del Rio’s new driver? Sure, why not.
80. Sergeant Slaughter as the man to teach Del Rio respect? Sure, why not.
81. Slaughter versus Del Rio? I think not.
82. Nice run-in for MVP. See how the live crowd responds to him. He’s still over despite bad booking.
83. Well, it wouldn’t be an Old School show without Mae Young. Good thing they decided to let LayCool rip into her rather than just have her come out and wave at fans.
84. Please keep the live microphone away from Mae Young.
85. Jim Ross doing commentary?! Yay. He looks good, all things considered.
86. The fact that they’re having Jim Ross actually call a Daniel Bryan match is fantastic. For once it’ll be nice to hear an announcer put over Bryan.
87. Bryan/Swangle? Yes please.
88. Hearing Jim Ross call RAW suddenly makes all things right in the WWE.
89. Cole ripping into Jim Ross is fine for his character, but burying an exciting match does nothing but damage the overall product.
90. DiBiase attacking Bryan after the match? I guess Bryan’s got his next opponent. Hopefully they don’t blame Daniel Bryan for ted not being able to get over…or be able to grow out a beard.
91. A curtain call for the veterans? Really?
92. Piper’s shirt says that he’s a national treasure. Explains why our country’s in financial straits.
93. I kid, I kid. I love Roddy. I just don’t like that every once in a while he snaps and we run the risk of him blowing his legacy.
94. Nice promo about “doing something” when you have a problem.
95. Piper points out that he, Steamboat, Snuka, DiBiase and Perfect never held the WWE Title and that if Cena hands over the title to Wade Barrett, then he’s spitting in the face of all of those Legends. I take back everything bad I have ever said about Piper. That was fucking intense.
96. Wade Barrett twice tonight has shown that he is gold when it comes to promos. That should ensure him a long, healthy career…as long as he doesn’t drop Orton on his head.
97. Making John Cena put on the t-shirt should have happened night one.
98. “I’m gonna turn your face into mush.” “Tough words.” Funniest back-and-forth of the year.
99. Randy jumps Wade Barrett. The champion and the challenger brawling to end the go-home RAW? Very old school indeed.
100. Randy RKOing Cena was a nice touch but ending the show with Cena FUing the champion was a bit confusing seeing as they needed to keep the heat on Orton. Even more egregious was ending RAW with Cena taking out Wade Barrett.

Overall I thought it was an incredibly effective three hour show and easily one of the best 3-Hour RAW’s they’ve ever done. It’s obvious that the production team had a blast putting this show on, as they dug up all of the old graphics and videos. The WWE went above and beyond in that department, and while most of the “legends” weren’t much of a surprise, it was fantastic hearing Jim Ross one more time.

Fifty Nifty Superstars

So let me get this one straight; the WWE releases their gimmicked top 50 stars list and people actually got worked up over it? Thankfully from what I’ve read, most of the Pulse staff have kept their heads about themselves and saw the forest for the DVDs. This is a WWE produced program that is designed to get their talent over. Of course they’re going to elevate those most important to them over guys that aren’t part of the company anymore. Quite frankly, if they released a more legitimate list that featured guys like Angle and Foley near the top, I’d be dumbstruck.

This DVD means almost absolutely nothing in terms of “official” rankings. It’s just something they decided to make because they ran out of decade compellations to make and it has a buzzy title that will probably attract sales. If they just went out and left off anyone in TNA currently then people would know that the DVD was a complete joke. Also, if they went ahead and put Triple H in the Top 5 they knew that the Universe would implode.

Shawn Michaels is the top star for the WWE, which isn’t any earth shattering news. The company pushed him at the expense of a lot of other people because they wanted him to be their definitive star of the 90’s. He delivered for them in some capacity for decades, been a model employee over the past decade and has had some of the best matches in company history. That puts him over guys like Steve Austin (who pissed Vince off to no end when he took his ball and went home), The Rock (who left the company to go make movies despite the fact that he could still produce in the ring) and Hulk Hogan (pick your reason). If Austin, Rock or Hogan were fixtures on WWE Television, then they probably would have wound up at the top. Vince loves loyalty (well, selectively), so a guy like Undertaker is bound to be the one to get that #2 slot. He isn’t as good as Shawn because he couldn’t really carry the entire promotion the way Shawn could have, but that’s a debate for another day.

In the end, let’s just be thankful the list didn’t include Koko B. Ware.

Survivor Series If I Let You

Last night’s Survivor Series is in the books, and my biggest regret is that I could have gone to the show for free but didn’t have the time to get down to Miami. The card for the PPV seemed to materialize over the course of about seven days, which had me a little worried. Generally, when we get thrown-together matches the show could come off as disjointed, which isn’t the mindset you want to have for one of the biggest shows of the year.

Daniel Bryan v. Ted DiBiase: I was a fan of this match. A big fan. My concern over Bryan and DiBiase being put together was that if Teddy came off looking poor that the WWE would blame Bryan. Thankfully, Daniel Bryan showed why he may be the most valuable guy on the RAW roster, as he again managed to elevate another midcard guy to a great match. Ted dropping the Million Dollar Belt is the right move, as he just couldn’t pull off the gimmick. Hopefully a recommitted DiBiase can relocate his footing and make this a great angle. As for the finish, I’m all in favor of the fact that Bryan spent the majority of the match trying to lock in his submission, and once he got the Patti LaBelle lock in, Ted finally tapped. Bryan and DiBiase both came out of this match looking good, which is the real barometer of success.

Sheamus v. John Morrison: Morrison was quickly becoming the patron saint of blown pushes in the WWE, as he tended to get thrown into feuds as a babyface only to lose a match his character desperately needed to win. His victory here was surprising, though not in a way that made me feel all that happy. I’d be thrilled if the WWE figured out how they wanted us to feel about John, but this victory had earmarks of “nothing better to do”. Sheamus could easily afford to take the loss, as he is still probably the most dominant monster heel on RAW, and he and John put on a very capable match. Ultimately, a random win for Morrison isn’t going to make him a top guy overnight, but if this goes somewhere and actually makes him a bona fide character, then I’ll be fine with this match. If not, then this was just a random fluke win for a character that’s doomed to languish in the midcard.

Dolph Ziggler v. Kaval: I don’t know what it is, but Dolph Ziggler seems to be shining at just the right moment. Dolph’s been another guy who had start-and-stop pushes, so for him to not only hold a title but be allowed to compete on PPVs against high caliber opponents is something pretty damn special. Kaval came off as a legitimate threat here, which should put to rest the fears people had when the WWE had him job to Chavo. I still don’t get the logic in having an NXT Champion cash in his title shot for a lesser title, but since his motivation was to gain respect, I can let it slide. Just like in the Sheamus/Morrison match, the finish here was unconventional, with Ziggler winning with a roll-up. That’s fine by me because it’s good to condition the fans to think that someone can win at any point. Once the audience believes that the only thing that can happen is the formula, they ignore the middle of the match. Having the Sheamus match end with a Shining Wizard showed the suddenness with which a match can end, and having Ziggler win with a roll-up played into the story of the match (which involved a ton of near falls). Ultimately, the fans want to see a rematch and see a Kaval win, so that alone makes this a success.

Team Del Rio v. Team Mysterio: People are going to complain about this match, but I just don’t have the energy. Everyone played their roles just fine, and Del Rio was allowed to absolutely shine as the smarmy heel. This guy is making the most of his push, which is all anyone can ask for at this point. All of the other wrestlers were just fine, with Show and Rey being the last survivors in an anticlimactic 2-on-1 situation. People also seem to be up in arms over the fact that MVP was eliminated early despite being in Miami, but that was the point. It put even more heat on Alberto Del Rio, who now seems like even more of a big deal. In the end, he’s now about to slide into a feud with Big Show, which may be a true make-or-break in terms of his star potential.

Natalya v. Lay-Cool: I just didn’t like the decision in this one. Lay-Cool as the Divas Champions added a whole lot of value to the belt, while Natalya is just a very bland babyface. It was a poorly kept secret that the WWE was waiting for Beth Phoenix to return, but now that she’s back she has to compete for the belt against another babyface. The booking here just doesn’t make sense. On the plus side, they made Natalya’s win seem like kind of a big deal, so that’s a nice plus.

Kane v. Edge: The WWE booked themselves into a major hole with this match, since neither Kane nor Edge had anywhere to go after this match. If Kane were to win, who would he move on to? We’ve seen him against Rey and Big Show countless times, while he and Kingston would be abrupt and confuse the audience. Edge’s victory poses problems as well. Once he’s done with Kane, who is readily available? Swangle, McIntyre and Rhodes aren’t top heels yet (despite Swangle’s world title run), so he’d probably get rushed into a feud with Alberto Del Rio. As for the match, it was a passable Kane match, which is what you’d expect. They needed the non-finish to set up the rematch at TLC, which pains me because there shouldn’t be this much nonsense on a Big Four PPV.

Nexus v. Borscht Marinara: So the WWE cuts half of the tag teams on the roster, but they need to use all of Nexus to interfere to keep Santino and Kozlov safe? The only advantage to booking this match was that Gabriel and Slater could win cleanly without anyone getting in a tizzy. Instead? We got a 5 on 2 match that didn’t do anybody any favors.

Randy Orton v. Wade Barrett: My pre-match prediction would have been that Cena is forced to count Orton’s shoulders down due to some sort of interference he didn’t see, leading to John FUing Barrett. Then, Miz comes out and cashes in his chance and wins the title. This sets up Orton/Miz and Barrett/Cena, ultimately leading to an Orton/Cena Wrestlemania match. Instead, we got Orton beating Barrett and Cena getting fired. My problem with this was the same one I had with the finish of Wrestlemania. At that show, I was disappointed with the ending because I thought for sure that Shawn wasn’t really leaving for good. Here, I know for certain that Cena isn’t leaving for good. Instead of an intriguing finish, we got an ending that kept John a pure babyface and gave him a bogus farewell celebration. The match itself was pretty dull, as everyone knew that, like an NBA game, the only thing that mattered here were the last 30 seconds. On the other hand, there hasn’t been this must created intrigue in a wrestling match in a very long time.

Overall, I thought it was a solid PPV. The first few matches really delivered in the ring, while the main event delivered in terms of the Sports Entertainment. The World Heavyweight Title Match, the Divas Title Match and the Tag Title Match dragged the show down, but not enough for me to say this was a bad outing.

Edge has motivation to seek out a rematch, as he was robbed of his opportunity at the World Title. Kaval got cheated out of his Intercontinental Title match, so he has justification for a return match. Nexus still looks like a pack of thugs, even if Barrett didn’t win the title. DiBiase is newly focused with a serious bent and the idea of him against Bryan in a rematch sounds like a good idea. Even the Diva division changed thanks to the return of Beth Phoenix. The WWE has where to go from here, so you can’t call the PPV a failure. Sure, that may be damning it with faint praise, but so what? It’s a solid show worth catching if you missed it.

Best of Luck in Your Future Endeavors, Tag Division

The WWE has begun it’s annual round of random cuts, and the first six real casualties have been announced: Shad, Vance Archer, Luke Gallows, Caylen Croft, Jillian Hall and Tiffany.

While these don’t rank up there with last year’s surprising cuts (the Shelton Benjamin one still baffles me), it does send an alarming message. Folks, the tag team division is on it’s last legs.

The first cut was Shad Gaspard, who was last seen on television as a generic heel after he attacked JTG. He and his former tag partner had a barely tolerable PPV strap match, and that was pretty much it. Shad had languished in developmental for a bit, probably due in part to his shady past and the fact that he was incredibly green. His role as Da Beast made him a more “thuggish” version of Batista, allowing him to be a strongman without anyone expecting a technical masterpiece from him. He was ultimately put into Cryme Time with JTG, where they became an entertaining tag team despite the horrible racial stereotypes. They were released but then brought back, which gave hope that maybe they’d be taken seriously. Cryme Time had some halfway decent feuds (most notably with Legacy) before being abruptly broken up. With Shad’s heel push being a fairly large disaster, the door was wide open to reunite him with JTG and give Smackdown another tag team. Instead, they decided to cut him.

Vance Archer didn’t do much since the former TNA star debuted on WWE television. He had a few start-and-stop pushes before just vanishing for a while. He was then paired up with Curt Hawkins, the king of vanishing from television, to form The Gatecrashers. Their gimmick was simple; they were to go out there and make an impact. Hawkins and Archer had a Shawn Michaels/Diesel vibe to them, but as soon as they were fed to Big Show in a handicap match the writing was on the wall. Archer seemed like a less capable Test, but The Gatecrashers had some tag potential. Again, they were split up for no real reason and the bigger guy got cut.

Caylen Croft was one half of The Dudebusters. He debuted on ECW before it went the way of the dinosaur and the tag team wound up on Smackdown. The duo seemed to have potential, as their douche bag characters seemed perfect for a Jersey Shore era. Unfortunately, they didn’t get much of a chance on the main brand and were relegated mostly to Superstars. Croft was cut but his partner Baretta was kept, so hopefully Trent and Curt Hawkins will find themselves in a new due of jerks: The GateBusters. Or DudeCrashers. How about the Future Endeavoreds?

Luke Gallows is a sad story. He has been in the WWE in some form since 2005, with his television debut coming as the Fake Kane during the “See No Evil” feud (though to be fair his first real appearance was as a Fake Undertaker in the Taker/Orton feud). Gallows was the Freakin Deacon in OVW, a crazed character that often found himself living in or eating out of a trashcan. Luke’s ability to get over a sports entertainment character found the Caliban-tattooed wrestler being rechristened Festus. The Festus character on paper had no right to work, but somehow he managed to get that thing over. His tag team with Jesse was popular in the vein of Rikishi/Scotty 2 Hottie, but it just sort of seemed to fade away. Gallows came back as a member of the Straight Edge Society, but again the entire group was disbanded despite still having mileage in it. Without the group, Luke quickly turned into the picture of Marty McFly, erased…from existence. Sadly for Gallows, there would be no Enchantment Under the Sea kiss to save his career.

Just like that, The Dudebusters, The Gatecrashers, Cryme Time and the SES are all gone for good. With the Hart Dynasty gone, that leaves…Greek Booze, Borscht Marinara and the Nexus Mid-Card All-Stars. Techno Tag Team 2000 anyone?

As for the Divas, I’m sad to see both Jillian Hall and Tiffany gone. Hall knew her role and played it well; she was in that Molly Holly/Ivory/Jackie vein of the solid worker who wasn’t ever going to be the most beautiful girl in the ring. She was played for comic relief and played that role just fine, though her best potential for success was in her role as JBL’s PR woman. Aside from the nonsense on her face, her role was the kind of thing sorely missing from WWE Television. Having a career consultant to guide an aimless character would really help some of the currently stuck midcarders. A guy like Swangle could use a Jillian Hall to give him a rudder.

Tiffany leaving sucks because…well…she was pretty damn cute. Sure, she may be prone to domestic violence, but she sure looked nice in those cheerleader outfits. In all seriousness, Tiffany was the first true Diva to be an authority figure (sorry Vickie), but when ECW went under, she was just another bland blonde. Her controversy pretty much sealed her fate, as Vince isn’t going to put up with shenanigans from the lower midcard.

Whew, all this and I still haven’t gotten to the Judicial Review. Before I do, remember that you can friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/awheeler316) or just post a comment in the section below. Without further ado…

For Your Consideration…The RAW Judicial Review for 11/22/10

“You’re fired.”

We open on a shot of the crowd as Michael Cole uses the super cereal voice to let us know that John Cena is gone.

Wade Barrett comes out without the WWE Title…or pants. He is then joined by the rest of the Noids and someone needs to tell Heath Slater that heels don’t hop onto the apron. By the way, this Cena-free episode of RAW is in WWEHD, which as you know was unfairly lobbied against by regular HD that just doesn’t get it.

The fans compare Barrett to a vacuum as he tells us that last night John Cena looked him in the eye before he damns decorum. Tremendous. Have I mentioned how gold he is on the microphone? Call him the nuclear reactor in North Korea, because he’s generating heat.

Last night Cena looked him in his eye and said he knows what he’s doing. That means 1) he was willing to sacrifice his career to do what he felt was the right thing and 2) Wade went into the match without a fighting chance. Wade complains about premeditation, which in the United States system of jurisprudence is far more severe than impetuous decisions. Barrett says that a referee has never put his hands on a wrestler, except for any referee during a Diva match. Those perverts.

Wade said Cena’s refereeing was unprofessional. I think it was the most unprofessional refereeing in the history of Survivor Series. Barrett demands a rematch with Randy Orton, which sets off the GMail. Cole says that there is no doubt that Orton wants to face Barrett, so the WWE Title will be defended…tonight. Will it be in that very ring?

Barrett thanks the GMail for a gracious decision and he’s decided to allow John Cena to appear tonight, like Jesus in the grilled cheese of a Brazilian woman. Wade feels that he owes it to Cena to allow him to say his final goodbye. When will evil British people realize that when you give James Bond his final words that he’ll always win? Like the villains in Shawshank Redemption, he’ll wind up getting them in the end.

Michael “Casual Male” Cole and Jerry “Ed Hardy” Lawler call this an unbelievable start of RAW as we throw to a graphic for Orton/Barrett. Wow, that was made fast. It’s almost like…they…knew… Oh, and John Cena’s going to be there tonight. Of course he is. He’s unemployed, what else is he going to do?

Commercial.

I love how the King of the Ring promo chooses to gloss over Mabel, Billy Gunn and Ken Shamrock. At least they gave Don some love.

Cole and Lawler are on camera…again. Sigh. Someone please get that assclown a tie. Michael Cole stands up and says that he has a surprise and brings out CM Punk. Best RAW ever.

Punk hugs Michael Cole, who says that CM made a name for himself as an announcer in NXT. The next match is a King of the Ring qualifying match, which is almost like a qualifying match (TM Tony Schiavone).

KOTR Qualifying Match: Sheamus v. Resurrection Truth w/ Adam’s Rib

CM Punk says that Truth should spend less time rapping and more time on his wrestling skills. If he keeps this up, I’ll be out of a job. Truth asks Orlando what’s up. They respond by yelling what’s up. Just once I hope they’d yell updoc. Just once.

Sheamus takes down Truth as I watch two ends of the ROY G BIV light spectrum battle it out. Sheamus hammers away on Truth, but Truth comes back with punches, kicks and dancing. He knocks Sheamus out of the ring, and Sheamus goes all “deir tyrin ta steal me lucky charms” roid rage as we fade to…

Commercial.

We’re back as Truth is trapped in an electrifying rest hold as Eve earns her money by clapping. Maybe she’s doing it to stay awake, because this thing seems to be going on forever. Sheamus hits a backbreaker for two as Punk wonders if there’s going to be a coronation. The Orlando fans begin dueling Sheamus/Truth chants, dividing the audience like South Africa before apartheid.

Truth comes back and gets a hip toss for two before trying for that suplex-stunner move. Sheamus blocks it and hoists him onto his shoulders but Truth turns it into a kick. If Sheamus jobs to the other half of Wacky Buddy Cop movie, I’m going to think he has a Wellness Violation coming his way.

R-Truth hits a dropkick off of the top rope for two, which was a surprisingly well executed move by Truth. Truth tries to roll Sheamus up, but Sheamus sits down for two. Sheamus then hits the Bicycle Kick for two before going for the Stoned Crucifix for the pin.

We now get a promo for the John Cena Experience DVD, which Punk points out is the only way to ever see John Cena again. Now that’s how you sell the product.

At the conclusion of that, we get dramatic music and an artsy graphic. You’d think this was a war being covered by cable news.

Commercial.

Yeah, I’ll probably go see TRON: Legacy just to appease “The Simpsons” joke about whether or not anyone actually saw TRON. Oh, and I got dragged to the latest Harry Potter and actually kinda dug it.

Did You Know that people from 30 countries are coming to Wrestlemania? Enjoy your pat-downs, it might be the only action you get all weekend.

LayCool are in the back complaining about losing their titles but they get stopped by security who points out that they aren’t RAW Superstars. They berate the security guy, but Natalya shows up out of thin air-well, husky air- to help kick them out of the building.

The laughs don’t stop because we see Borscht Marinara in the back lamenting losing their tag title shot. Santino is depressed and wants to know if anything could make him feel better. Snukette shows up playing a song for him. He leans in for a kiss and she slobbers on him. What’s the opposite of an erection? Because whatever that is, this segment gave it to me.

Randy Orton is in the back fixing his kneepad, so it’s a good thing they had a camera crew there to film that. Mini-Orton shows up with a full head of hair. Randy says that he and Cena weren’t best friends, but he respects him. Orton doesn’t care who the referee is, because he guarantees that Wade won’t leave with the title. Guarantee void in Tennessee.

Ezekiel Jackson will face The Miz in the next qualifying match, coming up after this…

Commercial.

Have you ever had trouble opening a package? Buy the ZipSnip, place it firmly against your temple and keep clipping until you reach brain. That, folks, is called thinning the herd.

KOTR Qualifying Match: Ezekiel Jackson v. The Miz

Ezekiel Jackson is out first and he is a very large and very shiny man. Awesome, his opponent is The Miz. Alex Riley comes out with a microphone to tell us that The Miz has suffered an anxiety attack. Oh, so he’s cashing in his suitcase tonight.

KOTR Qualifying Match: Ezekiel Jackson v. The Mizfit

Mizfit goes for a waistlock, which is impressive when you consider how much baby oil is on Zeke. Jackson bounces Riley around for a bit because he is big and Riley’s small…oh you can’t fight city hall (yep, that was a Rocko’s Modern Life reference). Mizfit somehow locks in a rest hold but gets flipped and then goozled before being leveled with a clothesline. Bobby Lashley Part II hits the Rock Bottom for the pin.

Cena is in the back saying hello to the bottom of the card as we say hello to a…

Commercial.

John Cena comes out to give his farewell address. November 22 will forever be remembered with sorrow as the day of a true national tragedy with the loss of John Cena. Oh, and John F. Kennedy was assassinated on this date, but, to quote Lorraine’s father, “Who the hell is John F. Kennedy?”

Cena says that if you’re going to go out, you go out to a reception like that. John points out that Randy Orton is the WWE Champion and now he’s fired. Cena says he didn’t think it would happen. Really? In a match with a very specific stipulation that was played over and over again in video packages, you claim you didn’t think it would happen.

John does the whole long goodbye thing before saying that we have no idea how much he respects the WWE. He’s talking about everyone from the past like Steve Austin, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. Cena’s goal was to be able to look them in the eye and have them say that he’s alright. If this wasn’t all a load of bullshit, this would be pretty sweet. But the grand total number of people who think that he’s “fired” consists of some Tea Baggers and that guy who kept screaming “It’s still real to me, damnit!”

Cena says that his family has been patient with his travels before saying that he missed his brother becoming a father. This guy might actually be halfway decent actor with his squeaky tearful voice. John is getting the best birthday present for his mom, a hug. He made millions in the WWE and he’s giving her a hug. I bet he’s giving his wife a coupon book for free massages. Cheap bastard.

John demands that every woman and every child chant “Let’s go Cena” while every man chants “Cena sucks”. Fantastic stuff. It keeps going for a while on it’s own momentum before Cena stops it to say something to Wade Barrett. John thinks that Wade has some talent and he tells Barrett to stop taking shortcuts because the fans will give everything if you give your all. Because you can feed your family on cheers and pay your taxes with posters. Cena says he doesn’t care if he’s being fined so he calls Wade a bitch. John drops Billy Kidman’s name because he went over on his time, so he thanks the WWE Universe. Hope someone gets some calamine lotion to calm down Billy. Cena says “Let’s go home” and I half expect a spaceship to appear and take him out of the arena.

We now get shots of sad children all over the arena. The last time I saw kids that upset I had to send money to get the flies off of their mouths.

John Cena walks in the back and there’s a bunch of wrestlers applauding, but thankfully Paul London isn’t there to smirk. Cena shakes Randy Orton’s hand before walking out of the arena. Wade Barrett appears out of nowhere to do the “You can’t see me” as I half expected John to get into an exploding limo.

Commercial.

We’re back as everyone in the arena drowned in a pool of mark tears. It was a real tragedy. CM Punk says that John Cena has left the building. Classic Mister Perfect.

KOTR Qualifying Match: Ted DiBiase v. Daniel Bryan

Bryan is walking to the ring when apparently Brie Bella decides to escort him to the ring. DiBiase jumps Bryan before the bell and flapjacks him down before booting him in the face for two. Ted slingshot suplexes him for another two count. DiBiase locks in a resthold as I relish the fact that with Punk there, someone will stop Cole from completely burying the talent.

DiBiase charges Bryan in the corner but Daniel moves and hits a dropkick before being dropped for two. Bryan locks in the Patti LaBelle Lock out of nowhere for the submission. Nikki Bella runs to the ring and the two women fight over Bryan, who pushes them together. I like Daniel Bryan’s wrestling skill, but his thoughts on incest make me feel a little uneasy.

Commercial.

Did You Know that the WWE has released a lot of video games and none of them had the Brooklyn Brawler as a playable character?

Natalya v. Alicia Fox

So Natalya’s reward for winning the Tramp Stamp Title is to face Alicia Fox, who has a knack for almost dropping people on their heads? Nat gets a waistlock before hitting a monkeyflip. Punk points out that no WWE Diva is smart, sexy AND powerful. Fox takes control and stands on Natalya’s hair before stepping on her nails. She then rips out a hair extension. Natalya throws her down and smacks her in the face. It’s like Savage/Steamboat out there. Nat goes for a vertical suplex for two. Natalya goes for a bear hug, gets rolled up for two and winds up in a Sharpshooter to win the match.

Melina and John Morrison are in the back and she smacks him on the ass. He’s on his way to the ring, figuring that he can win the King of the Ring. Unlike Melina, he can say that at least winning that is something Batista hasn’t already done.

Commercial.

KOTR Qualifying Match: John Slo-Mo-rrison v. Tyson Kidd

Why the hell does John Morrison bother to put the t-shirt on under his giant coat? Everyone else comes out underdressed while he has to wear layers.

Tyson Kidd is out next with the kind of generic rock music that signals he’ll have a long career on Superstars. Morrison and Kidd lock up and we get a few trading of holds before Kidd opens up the Orton playbook of kicks, kicks and kicks. Kidd slams Morrison into the apron for two as Punk points out that he beat Morrison for the ECW Title and if he were Kidd, he would have already won.

Morrison fights back and hits a kick to the back of Kidd’s head with one of those Parkay moves because he’s smooth like butter. Kidd ties to escape out of the ring but John catches him. Tyson takes advantage and hits a swinging neckbreaker for two before stomping away on him in the corner. Kidd whips him into the corner but eats an elbow. Morrison hits (just barely) the Flying Chuck and connects with Starship Pain as Tyson Kidd joins the rank of Jobber to the Stars. Best of luck, Kidd.

Orton and Barrett are walking in split-screen. Wouldn’t it be awkward if they were in the same hallway and just bumped into one another?

Commercial.

The John Cena Experience is available now on DVD. Ring rats not included.

WWE Title Match: Randy Orton v. Wade Barrett

Randy Orton heads down to the ring but gets jumped by Nexus. Orton must be nuts, because he’s been assaulted. Randy finally gets to his feet but Husky Harris takes out his injured knee. Acha…that’s why they showed him putting on that kneepad. And now it all comes together as we fade to…

Commercial.

We’re back and Cole again is using that serious voice as Wade Barrett comes out again. The GMail bans Nexus from ringside. I guess anonymous hindsight’s 20/20. Orton’s music hits as Randy limps out to the ring.

Orton and Barrett trade punches, which isn’t fair since Wade’s using pounds and Randy’s using dollars. The conversion rate alone gives Barrett the advantage. Wade stomps away for as Orton tries to slither away. Get it? Because he’s snakelike and the WWE can’t help themselves with nonsense like that.

Barrett goes for Baba O’Reilly but Cena comes out of nowhere to take out the referee. John Cena hits the FU onto Barrett and bolts before Nexus can make the save. Orton pops up and hits the RKO for the pin.

Awesome…

WWE Title Match: Randy Orton v. The Miz

Miz goes after the injured knee but Randy hammers him back. Miz goes after Orton’s injured knee, ramming it into the steel steps. Orton gets the upper hand and blocks the SCF. Randy goes for the Second-Rope DD but Miz clips his knee. Orton hits the same slam John Wilkes Booth used on John F. Kennedy (you read that right) an goes for the RKO but Miz hits the SCF for the pin.

The Miz is the WWE Champion. We cut to a shot of a demon child with a look of pure disgust. Cole welcomes us to the Era of Awesomeness. I cannot for the life of me believe that the WWE didn’t do this on Pay-Per-View, but I’m thrilled they decided to put it on free television to get The Miz over.

This was one hell of a packed RAW. I came back on the right night.

This has been for your consideration.

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