It was old school at its best, Monday night at the Baltimore Arena. WWE Raw has been going back in time and bringing out Hall of Famers and favorites from years past, to the delight of fans everywhere, including me! Current stars of WWE battled it out and entertained an almost sold out convention center crowd, with help from classic stars.
Not all of the matches were televised, but the actual night started with Divas, Natalya vs. Summer Rae, a match that was over almost as soon as it started, with Natalya as the victor. A similar pattern was seen with several matches, so that more “interesting” pairings could take longer to achieve their ultimate goals of showboating and winning. Some of the hits of the night were too overworked, like Natalya’s blow to her nose…she spent most of the short match, clutching her nose (which wasn’t bleeding) in shock and awe.
The next match was Dolph Ziggler vs. Ryback, with Ryback taking the victory.
The televised portion was now to begin with Ric Flair coming out to massive cheers and “Wooooo’s” but was interrupted (another common theme of the night and WWE matches in general) by WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Randy Orton. Orton proceeds to tell Flair how much he respects his mentor and then turns around and tells him that it’s his ring and to shove over.
Orton continues his long-winded speech about already beating John Cena fair and square and how he has nothing left to prove.
Therefore, he wants the Authority to retract their announcement of a rematch at the Royal Rumble in three weeks. Finally, Cena comes out to a mix of cheers and jeers and defends himself and Flair, leaving Orton very dramatically speechless as he grabs his belts and slithers away.
Rey Mysterio and The Usos are called to the ring next, when the Wyatt Family’s music comes on. The drama heightens as they make their way to the ring with Daniel Bryan in tow. Bryan, wearing a Wyatt Family style jumpsuit, comes as a shock to fans, but they cheer him on, despite his present company. Some fans chanted, “Daniel Wyatt” and held signs with “Bryan” x’d out and “Wyatt” written in it’s place. After some lackluster back and forth, the match ends when Bryan tags himself in, then Luke Harper tags himself in immediately afterwards. Jey Uso rolls up Harper for the pin.
Backstage, Brad Maddox tells us in his best soap opera acting that Damien Sandow will have a rematch with The Great Khali and that fans can vote for Bob Backlund, Sgt. Slaughter, or Arn Anderson as the guest referee. They have Big E. Langston walk through a few of the legends on his way to fight Curtis Axel. Ryback, who is now doing commentary, tries to distract him, but Langston hits Axel with the Big Ending for the win.
One of my favorite parts of the night comes next as Rowdy Roddy Piper enters the ring for “Piper’s Pit”. As he starts to talk about Old School Raw, his guests, The Shield, interrupt him, which was to be expected. It’s a common occurrence for The Shield to be disrespectful like this and Dean Ambrose continues the lack of respect by saying The Shield would have beat up Piper back in the day! Piper (fully supported by the whole arena) laughs it off and says the only one who can match him on a microphone is CM Punk. Ambrose got in Piper’s face some more, but Seth Rollins shuts it down and says, “[Piper’s] tactics won’t work because there are no cracks in The Shield!”. Piper retorts that Ambrose and Rollins can’t beat CM Punk, one-on-one. The fact was that Roman Reigns would be fighting CM Punk for the last bought of the night. Roman Reigns says he will win and threatens Roddy Piper. The Shield prepare to attack him, but CM Punk comes out with the New Age Outlaws to halt the madness. Naturally, fight ensues and is broken up.
Next up, Alberto Del Rio gets a rematch with Sin Cara and gets his revenge with a superkick for the pin. In a promo he says that everyone is talking about Batista in the Royal Rumble match, but they should be talking about him because he will throw The Animal over the top rope during the match.
Another fairly quick match was Cody Rhodes with Goldust defeating The Real Americans when Goldust hits Swagger.
Since the shameless plug was made, I will bring it to the revue…Diamond Dallas Page has a yoga video, aptly named, “DDPYoga”. DDP practices some of his yoga with Booker T. as Ron Simmons walks up and delivers his trademark, “Damn!”. I haven’t seen the video, but the bit of yoga that DDP did was suspect, so if you do get the DVD make sure that the yoga you do is done accurately or you’ll just be bending yourself into a pretzel for no gain and you can get seriously hurt…especially you men out there!
The Great Khali comes out with Ranjin Singh for his match with Sandow. The fan vote for the special guest referee resulted in Sgt. Slaughter and the crowd went wild. The match rounded to its finish with Khali hitting Sandow with a chop and pinning him. However, Sandow’s foot was very obviously placed on the ropes, but Sgt. Slaughter never saw it and counts to three. Sandow went after Sgt. Slaughter which resulted in the Cobra Clutch and Slaughter kicking Sandow out of the ring, literally. The best part of that match was Sgt. Slaughter raising Khali’s hand in victory and then dances with Singh and Khali, which was hilarious!!
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman make their way to the ring. There was A LOT of talk going on about what “old school” and “legends” mean. Heyman finally puts Lesnar over the edge by talking about how he took down Mark Henry last week. He goes on (and on) about how it doesn’t matter who challenges him because they will always end up a loser. As Heyman taunts Lesnar with, “Eat, Sleep, Conquer, Repeat” Mark Henry’s music blares from the speaker (not contrived at all). He comes into the ring and brawls with Lesnar briefly before The Beast puts him in a Kimura Lock and seemingly, “breaks his arm”. Heyman calls him off and just like that, they make their way toward the entrance. As if I didn’t see it coming, they get halfway there and Big Show’s music drops. Big Show emerges and stares down Lesnar as he walks toward him. Lesnar gets in the ring and beckons for Big Show to come to him. With Big Show climbing over the ropes, Lesnar takes that time to exit the ring. So basically, he told him to come in and left as it happened? Heyman distracts Big Show and Lesnar tries to attack him, but Big Show counters, picks up Lesnar, and tosses him across the ring, like a rag doll. Lesnar tumbles out of the ring, with a little thrust of his own and onto the floor. Heyman comes to aid him and “hold him back” as he guides him back to the entrance as Big Show just stares Lesnar down. It was one of the less convincing moments of the night.
Speaking of less convincing, Aksana and Alicia Fox in a tag team match with The Bella Twins were next. I thought for sure that we were going to see The Bella’s prevail (ratings-wise), but it was Aksana who gained the win for herself and Fox, when Brie misses off the second rope and Aksana pins her. Aksana is by far, the only one of the three who could even count as real wrestler. For me, she has the most realistic moves and braun to back it up, of all the Divas. On the converse, The Bella’s seem to be the least believable, with their story line romances with Daniel Bryan and John Cena, fueling the ever-growing popularity.
We went back to old school for the next match. A big, six man tag team featuring Scotty 2 Hotty, Grand Master Sexay, and Rikishi reuniting for their first match in 13 years. The challengers, 3MB. The crowd was thrilled with this pairing and the prospect of seeing “the worm”. Scotty and Sexay, while not in bad shape, they seemed too out of the game to be back in the ring and the choreography was too simple for my taste. After a few minutes of grandstanding by the teams, Drew McIntyre fell to the mat and after a loooong break in movement, Scotty 2 Hotty fulfilled the prophecy and did the worm. Grand Master Sexay hits the Hip Hop Drop and Rikishi in a bold pounce gets the pin. They end with their trademark dance.
Justin Roberts introduces all of the Legends of the night when all of a sudden, Bad News Barrett rises up and blathers on, this time about the Legends. I was ever-so-hopeful that Hulk Hogan or The Rock would join the festivities and bring him down, but alas, that didn’t happen.
The night went on forever, but everything was well worth the time. With no exception to “Mean” Gene Okerlund who introduced the New Age Outlaws. A raspy Road Dogg does his intro and Billy Gunn adds the, “we got two words for you”. Road Dogg brings in CM Punk, who got tons of cheers from fans. We knew this would be fun from the preceding incident, earlier in the night. Dean Ambrose comes up, but the New Age Outlaws run interference (to mix sport terms). Roman Reigns in all his glory, with the Superman Punch, but CM Punk kicks out at two-and-a-half. These two men know how to put on a show and perform to the highest level, guess that’s why they were last. Always end on a high note! CM Punk and Roman go pin for pin, kicking out at 2 and a half multiple times. I seemed to be the only one cheering for Roman Reigns, but it paid off in the end as he was champ after the final pin. With an animalistic bellow, the night was almost over….almost! The Shield prepared a last move, thought the bought was over, but Jake “The Snake” Roberts emerges and the crowd goes wild. The New Age Outlaws hop into the ring to show their anger for the defeat of CM Punk and when CM Punk get s the drop on Ambrose, Jake gets into the action. Out comes the snake to slither all over a (not for us to notice) smiling Ambrose, who is “knocked” out on the floor. Not even Ambrose could stay in character at the prospect at being in the ring with Jake “The Snake” Roberts!!
With that, the night was over and the Baltimore Arena started to empty and in all of a few minutes, the dismantling started and just like that the WWE were moving on to Philly.
So, until April, Baltimore will have to watch on TV or online with the rest of the world.
Overall Event: A-, most were believable, but a lot of the moves were way off and the acting side leaves a lot to be desired, these days.
Venue: A+, good vantage point from all seats. There are a bunch of garages around the Arena to make it easy, but street parking is available, if you have the time. Food was traditional and overpriced, but that is to be expected. Staff is friendly and helpful. Security is mindful and watching all that goes on.