The 1/19 episode of RAW IS GETTING READY TO RUMBLE aired live from Green Bay. They did an excellent job of hyping the Royal Rumble. That was the main focus of the show, with a series of matches aimed at selecting the cherished #30 entrance position. There were no great matches this week, just standard TV bouts which were generally okay, but that was fine as they were aiming to sell the Rumble, not overshadow it. The Green Bay crowd was pretty hot for most of the show.
They opened with Jonathan Coachman revealing that with Eric Bischoff away on business, he would be Interim General Manager for the night. Coach had called together the fifteen wrestlers who will be RAW’s representatives in the Royal Rumble. Thirteen of them seemed to be present, but I suppose Scott Steiner and Kane could have been out of camera range. The babyfaces were on one side of the room and the heels on the other. Cowboy Bill Watts would be pleased. Coach announced that there would be a series of matches involving all fifteen, with the winners of those matches advancing to an over-the-top rope battle royal. The winner of the battle royal would earn the greatly desired #30 entrance position in the Rumble. Chris Jericho tried to get the #30 slot by calling in his favor from Survivor Series, which Bischoff still owes him. Coach said since Bischoff wasn’t there, it couldn’t be done. Every other wrestler there, heel or face, agreed with Coach on that ruling. Coach also said there can be no outside interference in any of the matches, vowing that such interference would cause the offending parties to be expelled from the Rumble entirely. Coach came off like a babyface here.
Booker T & Rob Van Dam defeated Christian & Matt Hardy in 6:04. RVD hit some kicks and a crossbody on Hardy. He also kicked Christian. Booker tagged in, with Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler reporting that he wasn’t 100% due to the tombstone piledriver he took from Kane last week. Booker backdropped Christian and hit both opponents with kicks. The tide turned when Christian caught Booker with a baseball slide. Christian and Hardy did the fast tag routine, working Booker over and scoring twos on him. Booker eventually hot tagged and RVD cleaned house. Hardy seemed a little out of position on one spot but RVD still rammed him into Christian. Hardy blocked the rolling thunder. Hardy & Christian were setting RVD up for a double backdrop but Booker flattened them both with a scissor kick. RVD frog splashed Hardy and scored the pin to advance himself and Booker to the battle royal.
Jericho defeated Rene Dupree in 4:35. Coach came out and joined JR & Lawler on the mic, which I’m sure pleased Dave Scherer. Jericho, though on the heel side of the room in the earlier group meeting, was the total face here. Lawler said he made a mistake last week in not going out to party with Jericho & Christian, since they allegedly had a wild time with some hot babes. They opened with some brawling. Jericho hit a springboard dropkick. Dupree hit a dropkick of his own. On the mic, Coach claimed that if Shawn Michaels (who kicked him last week) was in the arena, he’d challenge him to fight. Of course, he said that knowing that Michaels was absent, as JR reported that he was in intensive training for his match against Triple H at the Rumble. Jericho hit a flying forearm and a bulldog, but Dupree got his knees up when Jericho went for the lionsault. Jericho recovered quickly and won with the walls hold to advance.
Christian congratulated Jericho on his win, noting that he himself hadn’t been as fortunate. He complained that because Hardy got pinned, he was eliminated from advancing to the battle royal. Christian kept acting like he wanted to ask for something, and finally asked Jericho to allow him to take his place in the battle royal by using his favor from Bischoff. I thought Bischoff wasn’t there. Anyway, even if he had been there, it seemed pretty outrageous to expect Jericho to give up his chance at #30 like that. Christian reminded Jericho that he was his best buddy and all that type of thing. Jericho let him down easy, saying giving up a chance to win the #30 slot, and thus have a better chance to win the Rumble and move on to a World Title shot at WrestleMania, was just too much to ask a man to give up. He hoped Christian understood that he just couldn’t give up such an opportunity. Christian said he understood, but clearly was disappointed.
They aired an excellent review of the HHH vs. Michaels storyline, including some old footage of DX and more recent footage of matches the two have had in the past 18 months. Chyna was in some of the DX clips, and was it ever weird seeing her there after all that’s gone down. This match deserves to sell some PPV buys, and it had better because something tells me Brock Lesnar vs. Hardcore Holly won’t.
Mark Henry beat Rico in 2:35. I guess Rico is a babyface this week since he was on that side of the room in the opening meeting. With Miss Jackie in his corner he could also be a boobyface. Well, assuming he likes girls, of course, which is problematic considering that he started this match by kissing Theodore Long’s bald head and smacking Henry on the ass. At least he didn’t put an industrial clamp on Henry’s crotch. Rico, who actually is a very underrated wrestler, scored with some excellent kicks and fast-paced moves until getting press slammed by Henry. Henry moved on to the battle royal.
Ric Flair did a great promo, heaping praise on Randy Orton & Batista. He said Orton may be the greatest IC champ ever and that the chicks are all lusting after him. He pointed to Batista’s muscles and asked, “What’s causing all this?” That was one of my favorite Flair catch phrases from the eighties! Flair said Evolution is the group everyone in the business is talking about. He reviewed all three of their upcoming matches (HHH vs. Michaels, Orton in the Rumble, and himself & Batista vs. The Dudleys) and predicted a clean sweep. He asserted that his master plan is for the WrestleMania main event to be all Evolution, and that will come true when HHH retains the World Title at the Rumble and Orton wins the Rumble itself to earn the ‘Mania title shot. Orton liked the idea, saying it would be like ‘Mania VI when Hulk Hogan defended the World Title against IC champ Ultimate Warrior. And, of course, we know who won that match. Orton also said it would be appropriate for the man who retired Mick Foley (HHH) to face the man who spat in Foley’s face and punked him out (Orton). HHH wasn’t present this week, and no doubt he’ll have some problems with Orton gunning for his title.
Spike Dudley beat Kane by DQ in 1:05. On the mic, Coach was proud of himself for making this match-up. Spike charged in at full speed, but Kane stopped him cold and began brutalizing him. They did a kind of interesting DQ spot. Kane was pounding Spike in the corner. Spike fell from the ring, and bumped the ref going down. The ref mistakenly thought Kane shoved him, and DQ’ed him. Kane was furious at the DQ, and took his anger out on Spike, whom he posted and rammed into the stairs at high velocity. Several refs rescued Spike and carried him out before Kane could smash the stairs over his head. Spike technically advanced to the battle royal with this win, but it was later reported that he was hospitalized so he ended up eliminated.
Footage aired from some recent house shows. Always good to see that!
Hour two began with Goldberg defeating Scott Steiner and Test in a three way match in 5:17 to advance. Last week, Goldberg and Steiner had agreed to wrestle each other. Coach added Test to their match as a way of disadvantaging Goldberg (since Test and Steiner are frequent tag partners). Of course, with fifteen Rumble participants, one match in this series had to have an odd number of competitors. Steiner and Test immediately doubled on Goldberg. He lariated them both. Goldberg threw Test out, but that gave Steiner the opening to belly-to-belly suplex Goldberg. They doubled on Goldberg some more until Test accidentally lariated Steiner. Goldberg press slammed Steiner. He was about to spear Steiner but Test interrupted it. I think that’s called spearus interruptus. Steiner gave Goldberg a DDT and went for the pin but Test, lusting after that #30 slot himself, broke up the pin. If Coach had a higher IQ, he’d have made this a handicap match and eliminated this infighting between Steiner and Test. But such was not the case, and Steiner and Test began brawling. Goldberg revived, and Steiner gave him a lame hotshot and hooked the recliner on him. Test broke the hold up by laying Steiner out. Goldberg then speared and jackhammered Test for the pin. Not all that good, but it served its purpose of advancing Goldberg.
A new Orton anti-Foley ad aired. This one accused Foley of being a gutless coward, a scared little girl, an absolute joke, and a pathetic little bitch. It was a good ad, but Foley had better be getting a good payoff out of this.
Steve Austin rode around backstage, nearly running over Mark Jindrak & Garrison Cade on his ATV.
Austin drove down to the ring. I wish I could say the crowd didn’t chant “what”, but they did. Austin went off on Foley. He said the Foley who allowed Orton to spit in his face, and who failed to answer Orton’s challenge last week at Nassau Coliseum, isn’t the Foley he knows. He brought up that he’s known Foley since before they were big stars, when they would travel together and rent cheap cars and stay in crummy hotels to save a few bucks. He said no real hardcore legend would take the abuse he’s taken from Orton. Austin asserted that when Orton spat in Foley’s face, he spat in the face of the entire wrestling business. Knowing that Foley was surely watching RAW at home, Austin ordered him to appear at the Royal Rumble and open up a can of whoop ass on Orton. He said Foley would be breaking the law if he didn’t show up, and threatened to drive his ATV to Long Island and drag Foley to Philadelphia if he had to. Austin toasted two beers to Foley, hoping Foley would make the right decision. I guess this will work out somehow, but it better have a huge revival for Foley at the end.
Molly Holly told Trish Stratus that she’ll never take the women’s title from her. So there! Christian walked up and intruded on this stimulating debate. He was obviously plotting to get back at Jericho for not deferring to him earlier. Christian said he knew Jericho broke Trish’s heart, and that she no longer wants anything to do with him. So, he said, Trish shouldn’t mind seeing some photos he took of Jericho when they went partying last week. Christian showed her some photos, allegedly of Jericho having quite a bit of fun with several cute babes. Christian told Trish she was definitely the last thing on Jericho’s mind that night. He even claimed to have photos of Jericho with some midgets. Trish said, insincerely, that none of that mattered since she’s put Jericho behind her. Lawler wished even more that he had gone out with them last week, especially after hearing about the midgets.
Jazz beat Lita in 3:39. This brief ladies’ match was the only bout on the show that wasn’t part of the Rumble series. Jazz started with fists. Lita took her down and threw some fists of her own. Jazz hit a dropkick. Lita just kept taking Jazz down and trying for pins. She hit a headscissors on Jazz. Theodore Long ended up distracting Lita, and Jazz cradled her, using the tights for the pin. Haven’t we seen that finish before?
Terri interviewed Hurricane. Hurricane did one of those inspirational speeches where he talked about the odds being against him winning the Rumble and capturing the World Title at ‘Mania, and vowed to overcome the odds. But I was reminded of that old saying: “They said it couldn’t be done, and they were right.” Terri noted that in WWE, anything can happen. True, but even WWE can’t violate the laws of physics.
Some Packers players were shown in the crowd.
They aired some clips highlighting the recent Orton vs. Foley feud, or maybe I should just call it the Orton feud since Foley has been missing in action.
Orton beat Hurricane in 2:51. This was a non-title match, of course. Orton lariated Hurricane hard and hit a dropkick. They did give Hurricane some offense, as he scored several twos with a neckbreaker, a crossbody, and other moves, before Orton finally put him away with the RKO. Flair & Batista came out to congratulate Orton for making it into the battle royal. Rosey came out to protect Hurricane. Flair slugged Rosey and Batista slammed him. The Dudleys then ran in and threw Orton and Batista from the ring. They set up a table and were about to put Flair through it, but Batista rescued him. After Evolution retreated, Coach left the broadcast desk and went to the ring. Jeez, what a stupid thing to do. Coach said he was the boss tonight and ordered the Dudleys to get their asses out of the ring. He turned his back and gave them till the count of three to vacate the premises. Jeez, what a stupider thing to do. Naturally, the Dudleys 3D’ed him through the table. Too bad this wasn’t the opening match, since it could have saved us from several matches’ worth of Coach commentary.
Henry and Jericho encountered one another backstage and began trash talking about the battle royal. Henry said a little guy like Jericho had no chance to throw the world’s strongest man over the top rope. Jericho said the only thing strong about Henry was his odor and asked if he doused himself with ass or maybe ate a steaming pile of moose vomit. If Jericho was from Peru instead of Canada, he’d have said llama vomit. Henry said his odor (he called it his “stank”) is all over Trish and it smells good on her. That one left Jericho speechless, not to mention that he didn’t have an industrial clamp to squeeze down on Henry’s crotch.
JR & Lawler hyped the RAW matches for Royal Rumble, and video aired of Tazz & Michael Cole hyping the Smackdown bouts.
Goldberg won the six man over-the-top-rope battle royal to earn the #30 Rumble slot in 6:59. Goldberg went to town on everyone until Booker caught him with the bookend, Jericho nailed him with a lionsault, and RVD plastered him with a frog splash. These three finishers put Goldberg down on the mat for a couple of minutes, which was a good idea booking-wise, since it sort of got him out of the way long enough for the other guys to make their mark. Booker kicked RVD from the ring for the first elimination. Jericho then threw Booker out for the second one. Orton and Jericho nearly eliminated each other, but each skinned the cat. Goldberg revived and backdropped Orton. Henry pounded Goldberg and Jericho. Orton almost got ousted again but landed on the apron. Jericho hit a missile kick on Henry. Goldberg fought off both Jericho and Orton. This got a little sloppy in spots. Henry and Orton combined to throw Jericho out, eliminating him. Goldberg punched Orton and speared Henry. Goldberg lifted Henry up but appeared to lose him and had to drop him in the corner. Orton threw a dropkick at Goldberg which only about halfway connected. Orton went at it with Henry in the corner, with each trying to oust the other. Goldberg ran up and bumped Henry out to eliminate him. Goldberg and Orton went at it as Flair & Batista came out to cheer Orton on (they theoretically couldn’t interfere due to Coach’s edict). But Goldberg rallied, speared Orton, jackhammered him, and threw him over the top onto Flair & Batista to win the match. Just sort of an average TV battle royal, even weak in a few spots, but it accomplished the goal of putting Goldberg over for his spot in the Rumble.
How can Austin order Foley to show up at the Rumble, given that Foley lost his job with WWE when he forfeited to Orton?
Why didn’t Christian just ask Jericho to use his favor to have him added to the battle royal as an additional man, not as a substitute for Jericho?
Do JR & Lawler pay Coach to commentate with them, so that even if they have a bad night, they still sound good in comparison?
Why was Rene Dupree on the babyface side of the room in the opening segment?
How stupid does it make Paul Heyman look when he arranges for one of his Smackdown stars to get the #1 Rumble entry position, while Bischoff & Coach get their guys a shot at #30?
Did you know that Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior at ‘Mania VI was actually a decent match?
Thanks to John Keane for his always excellent early RAW Report. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.