30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - RAW 1-6-14
By Al Laiman
Jan 7, 2014 - 5:58:05 PM
credit Tom Jenner
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Twitter: @AlLaimanLOP, @JadedHope1
30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - RAW 1-6-14
1. Well guys, after my annual holiday break, I'm back. Life is changing and school starts again soon, so let's get it started with Old School RAW. Anyone want to take a wager on how long it is before we see clips of Stone Cold Steve Austin either on the Zamboni or with the beer truck? We start off with Ric Flair, straight off his other career as a motivational speaker, and just as I say that, they bring it up. They've got the old security barriers and ring look, although thankfully not with the mats with no give. Flair does his usual schtick before my favoritest guy ever interrupts him; his former Evolution co-hort.
2. Randy Orton hugs Ric Flair and smiles, so I imagine this entire promo is going to go entirely well, although I have to wonder if Flair's been taking lessons from Hornswoggle if Flair took him under his ring. Orton does the typical "I have respect for you but get the fuck out" thing that heels love to do when they're faced with Hall-of-Famers. The good thing about Orton and Cena being in the Rumble is it hopefully means neither one of them can win it. Flair takes exception based on him calling himself "The Man," setting up the whippersnapper response and the catch phrase. Orton asks him to leave... again. Flair and Orton exchange more unpleasantries before they're interrupted by John Cena.
3. Cena comes out to liven up the segment by repeating what Ric Flair already said about himself. I think it's required by every superstar who cuts a promo to say they're going to go "Old School tonight." Cena makes a challenge for a fight, and I'm sure Orton will accept and a brawl will transp... Yeah, he's leaving, but you already knew that. I think JBL is a contender for the HAM just because of his blazer. It's also nice to see that not even Lawler's health updates are too much for a plug.
4. The shaky editing they're using for the Wyatt/Bryan recap is too much. It's giving me a headache. This could be the entire reason he was growing out his beard the whole time, but honestly, it's probably just an angle for Bryan to turn and come out stronger in the end.
5. Michael Cole says he doesn't understand why he joined the Wyatt Family, and then says that he understands the reasons why. This will either be a great thing for him, or it will completely kill everything he had going. I'm not sure yet, I'll reserve my judgment. Everyone is still chanting his name. I wouldn't consider this a heel turn just yet. Rey Mysterio appears to be incredibly surprised that in a wrestling match where they're facing each other, Daniel Bryan would wrestle him. Huh, I guess old school RAW is bringing out differences in everyone.
6. Even my girlfriend just commented "That's the 5th time they've said 'Old School RAW' in 30 Seconds." I guess we just didn't get it yet. Mysterio gets the hot tag and cleans house before... tagging an Uso for some reason. Bryan tags himself in, and then Harper does the same. Because of that, they lose with an ugly roll-up. What are the repercussions for this miscue? Nothing. All right then.
7. I will say, I'm excited that Batista is coming back, but if he wins the Royal Rumble after being gone this long, I'll be pissed. Meanwhile, this week's vote will be for the referee of the Sandow/Khali match. Fascinating...
8. Then Citizen Kane confronts Maddox, with a purple tie and regular hair. I'm glad he's at least still maintaining some connection to his former character. He's intimidating Maddox in a funny way, I like it. Meanwhile again, Big E walks by more random legend cameos. IRS is there, maybe he should find out why his son became a bayou Rob Zombie.
9. Wow, so much time was taken up for those backstage segments that they managed to jobber entrance Ryback, Big E, and Goofus. Michael Cole actually has to ask where the name "Rybaxel" came from. I don't have enough words for the densely concentrated stupid. You guys do realize you're competing against the National Championship game, right? Anyway, Big E beats Goofus after a few minutes. Nothing to write home about. They're really convinced that somebody still gives a shit about Ryback. I do love the 90's RAW house music backing up the preview for Roddy Piper.
10. Let's see if the articulate, cunning version of Piper shows up, or if it's the drunken, stumbling one. Ambrose gets on quick and makes a joke about Piper getting a live mic. He, for once, is allowed to turn up the HAM. Piper puts over CM Punk as the only one who can match him on the mic. This makes Ambrose do his little shimmy. It drives the women here in Cleveland crazy. When did Roddy Piper become CM Punk's PR agent? He teases a Reign split by implying that Reigns would be better than the other two if he beat Punk. The crowd loves it.
11. Reigns has a crowning moment of badass in response to the cheek pinch. Ambrose busts out his Joker voice (finally), but before the three can attack, Punk's music hits and they come out with... The New Age Outlaws?! Whaaaaaa? The good friends of the leader of the Authority come out to take out the Authority's henchmen? Did I miss something in the last few weeks?
12. Not-Sin Cara is facing ADR again, so I see not much has changed since my break. He's wearing an outfit that would make Helen Keller roll her eyes. The two stooges at ringside have an argument about how many times ADR and Sin Cara have faced, because apparently they don't remember Cara's presence on the Del Rio JOB Squad. For fuck's sake, nothing says Old School like constant Twitter feeds. Del Rio wins in two minutes, so Cara's back on the roster. Wow, that was pointless.
13. Oh Dear JBL, he's talking... The Black Hole of Charisma mentions Batista, so he's likely Big Dave fodder. Do special event shows just make nobody give a shit? I remember when three-hour RAWs and stuff happened and it seemed the same way. Hell, last year's RAW Roulette show still rings in my memory with how stupid it was. Tonight isn't lost yet, but it's heading in that direction.
14. Backstage, Bryan is yelling at the two Wyatts, and he's asking to contribute. Bray does not approve, and says that they'll be teaming together. All right then. It looks like Bryan is going for the destruction from within angle.
15. HAM nomination for Zeb's ridiculous sign. Biff and Claudio will be facing the tag team champions, and Goldust in a white t-shirt is freaking weird. Naturally, Goldust also had to incorporate the phrase into his read tweet, or I just wouldn't know what the gimmick tonight was. They're also inviting people to use a hashtag for the phrase of the heel team because Vince McMahon is that desperate to get things trending. The conversation between the commentators continues about other social media outlets while, you know, a wrestling match goes on.
16. Goldust's comeback continues to be incredible, and Cody's momentum continues to build him for an eventual main event push. They kept the Cesaro Swing on That Thing? I hate everything. Goldust gets knocks off the apron to prevent a Cody tag out, and hey, even a crawl for a potential hot tag is "IT'S OLD SCHOOL!" Does the word "oversaturation" mean anything to you guys?
17. Goldust pulls off an awesome cross body to both Real Americans. Biff nearly pulls off an upset with a roll-up, but is nice enough to let Goldust up so he can hit his finisher. Finally a match that stood out tonight, only halfway through the show.
18. DDP is backstage, and it's good to see him getting a chance to plug his product on the show. Booker T approaches him and has the most unnatural conversation with a former friend, conveniently mentioning everything about the product they're promoting. However, it was nice of Ron Simmons to be standing by, but I admit it's always a joy when he does.
19. Sandow's out for his "highly anticipated" rematch with the Great Khali, in order to give one of the legends a special guest referee spot. Unfortunately, the glorious HAM that is Bob Backlund is not selected, and Sgt. Slaughter has his marine hat with the old referee shirt. Khali's old manager is with him. Did he make a comeback or have I just been that oblivious every time Khali is in the ring. That's entirely possible.
20. Khali beats Sandow in about two minutes with his leg on the ropes, because well shucks, now they've both won by bad referee calls! Sandow tries to throw the slowest punch in the history of mankind, misses, and eats a Cobra Clutch. They try to make Sgt. Slaughter dance. Wow, I'm so glad I watched that.
21. Brock Lesnar's new shirt says "Eat Sleep Conquer Repeat." Why does he eat, then go to sleep before he conquers? I mean, sure... Why conquer a nation if you can't take a nap first? Also, why does Paul Heyman have to introduce himself? Is Johnny Ace writing his promos? He's the 2013 HAM of the Year, we know who he is. Heyman also has to cut a promo about what old school is, and his version of it is one guy being awesome and everyone challenging him. Okay. It's a name-dropping session with big names to get a pop, but then the winner of Cena/Orton, Lesnar will... Yeah, you know the drill.
22. Paul Heyman reads Lesnar's t-shirt for us before Mark Henry's awesome entrance theme cuts it off, and he comes out to confront Lesnar again. I missed it last week, so this is cool to see. Lesnar gets in the Kimura Lock and breaks his arm, so Henry gets punked out twice in a row. That was quick and disappointing. But before you know it, someone else comes out to confront him, and it's the Big Show. Now there's a feud from back in the golden days of Smackdown. Lesnar calls him in the ring but then backs out. Big Show then gets a hold of him and tosses him once, Smallville-style. So, in essence, we're likely having the same match at Royal Rumble 2014 that we had at Royal Rumble 2003, minus the qualification stipulation. They sing the "Na Na Goodbye" song, even though nobody got fired because, it's Baltimore? I don't know.
23. It's recap time, skip. When we come back, it's more recaps. Next, the Total Divas are fighting... Does it matter? It was nice of them to have the curtains in the background match Aksana's outfit. About eight people try to chant for Nikki, because they're apparently seeing something I don't. Oh, Aksana wins? They actually let non-Total Divas not named AJ win a women's... Excuse me... A Divas match? That brings their record to, what, 1-758?
24. Rikishi and Too Cool are shown backstage, and man does Scotty look out of place. They're facing 3MB, so yeah, Too Cool's winning. Heath does an aside promo about being reunited, though I didn't know they ever broke up. Oh good, I'm glad they used this theme instead of the sec... Nevermind, they brought in the second one when Too Cool came out after Rikishi. Sunday Night Heat even gets a mention. Baltimore seems unenthused, do they not remember who these guys are?
25. Scotty summons the Worm with the absolute longest set-up to a move I've ever seen, and that finally gets Baltimore to care. He then gets kicked right in the fuck by McIntyre, because how dare Scotty make him lie there for 38 seconds. Cole and Lawler spend the entire match debating whether or not Too Cool were hip hop fans when they came to WWE. Is there a way to mute these guys without eliminating the other sounds? HAM nomination for Heath Slater for opting to just roll out of the ring instead of of go after Rikishi once he gets the hot tag. Too Cool and Rikishi get the nostalgia win.
26. Some other familiar music from 1999 hits, and the Godfather leads the Ho-Legend train? They each get an announcement, for the kids who have no idea who they are. This gives Wade Barrett and his raising podium a chance to cut off the moment with his 48th entrance theme. He seems to have turned up the gruff in his voice. He reminds me of Nostalgia Critic doing an impression of Jeremy Irons.
27. Mean Gene still has an amazing voice, though he advertises his own hotline, which is pretty awesome. Even better when Okerlund ad-libs a "somebody remembers it!" Someone forgot to mention to him that they have to abbreviate Billy Gunn's name. I think Road Dogg is the wrestling version of Bill Engvall. They have the same voice, save maybe a little twang. I honestly never thought I'd see the day where the New Age Outlaws and CM Punk were teaming up.
28. I see, I guess the new trend of 2014 is to have another hashtag to go with every match. It's a shame they're not teasing the dissent in The Shield though. How will we know it's coming if they don't talk about it? Cole decides to recap the entire show verbally right before the commercial break, and JBL once again chimes in that it's "Old School RAW." Well thank JBL for that, I thought I was watching Antiques Road Show. Your paycheck is not wasted!
29. Reigns just has this awesome "I hate you all" expression on his face. Cole plugs the hashtag like Punk v. Roman is a Supreme Court case, and Reigns continues to be a dominant bad-ass. I'm looking forward to his singles push when he can really unleash. Punk does an amazing job selling the pain he's working through, though to be fair, injuries are likely mounting up legitimately.
30. Things start to come undone with the Outlaws getting involved, and Punk diving to the outside. Reigns gets a near-fall, punching through what I can only imagine is a Liquid Spear that only Donnie Darko can see, and then Punk nearly gets a win with the Ultimate Diva's Finisher. We're seeing someone who took a while to become a star against a guy who is destined to become a star, I believe. With a distraction from Ambrose, Punk eats a spear and Reigns gets the win. All of the sudden, an old entrance theme hits... Holy shit, it's Jake the Snake! I haven't seen him since we helped get him to an Indy show in Newville in 2008. He looks a helluva lot better than he did then too. Ambrose ends up staying behind and taking a GTS. Jake drops the snake on Ambrose, who is smiling like a Prom Queen. Yeah, that just won him the first HAM of the year, between that and the Roddy segment. Overall, the first half of the show could've been naptime. The second half definitely got better. The nostalgia factor was much better utilized once it wasn't just random "Oh hey, it's that guy" moments. I really liked the main event, as well as the Rhodes/Americans tag match. The Too Cool match was a lot of fun, and seeing Jake the Snake was a big surprise. That ending definitely improved the overall feel of the show.
Between "Who gave this old man a live mic" and smiling huge when getting the snake, Dean Ambrose kicks off 2014 with the HAM of the night.
2012 - Daniel Bryan
2013 - Paul Heyman
1-6-14 - Dean Ambrose