The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
My Weekly RAW Notebook!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz presents his analysis and insights inspired by the 1/12 episode of RAW
RAW from Sioux City, IA, began with a close-up of John Bradshaw Leyfield’s big white limousine.
Inside the limo’s cabin, John Bradshaw Leyfield continued to work on his beleaguered, reluctant employee Shawn Michaels. He told HBK that his match against Cena on this RAW would be his WrestleMania.
The Kingfish comments: The tension between JBL and HBK has grown to frightening proportions. Shawn has done a brilliant job of overtly complying with Leyfield’s wishes while his facials and gestures tell a radically different story.
Presumably, the Big Turn is coming. WWE may well do it at Royal Rumble to give JVL a reason for losing to John Cena. That might result in a Michaels-JBL grudge match at WrestleMania.. One thing that could upset that is the possibility that Stone Cold Steve Austin will work his final match at WM 25. He is likely to want to have the match against Shawn Michaels and, if that’s what it takes to set up the match, WWE would likely go along with it.
Stephanie McMahon took the ring mic to tell fans how thrilled she was that her father will be returning to RAW on 1/19.
Chris Jericho came to the ring to interrupt her. He branded Stephanie a liar and claimed she feared the return of the “real” McMahon.
Hostilities escalated until Stephanie fired Jericho!
The Kingfish comments: Somehow, I don’t thin Chris Jericho will stay fired for very long. That suggests that Vince McMahon will oppose his daughter, at least to some extent, and reinstate Chris Jericho. It may be that he will have to fight a match against someone – John Cena? – to reclaim his spot.
Firing Jericho strikes me as one step over the line. It’s too much, too over-the-top, for fans to accept, even within the context of the wrestling show.
Rey Mysterio d. The Miz
The Chick Magnet came out alone. During the match, Michael Cole reported that Morrison had sustained an injury going through a table to explain his absence.
Once The Miz caught up to the elusive Mysterio, his greater strength gave him an advantage. He battered him in the corner with punches, kicks and a knee to the midsection.
The Miz applied the Bow and Arrow, a hold rarely seen these days, but Mysterio broke free and then blocked an attempted Back Suplex. The Miz turned it into a Face Plant, but it wasn’t enough for a one-two-three.
The Miz avoided the West Coast Pop and ducked out of range of a 619. Rey came off the top rope with a Sunset Flip. The Miz sat down on the smaller man and nearly got a pin!
Mysterio’s Huracanrana set up a 619 – and this time it worked! The West Coast Pop sealed the deal.
Mike Knox attacked Rey Mysterio after the match. He got in some telling blows, but the Masked Marvel fought back and sent Knox out of the ring.
The Kingfish comments: Considering that the match was merely an excuse for Knox’s post-match run-in, it was quite entertaining. The Miz wrestles a lot better than he did a year ago.
After laying a lot of groundwork, WWE is now ready to send Mysterio into another small-vs.-big program, this time with Monstrous Mike Knox. Mysterio will probably hover around the middle of the card for a little while, before the bookers mount another big push. He’s about to re-sign, so that push is inevitable.
Eve Torres wanted to cat with CM Punk, but Mr. Straight-edge was fixated on his Intercontinental title match.
A video showed the early professional work of Vince McMahon.
The Kingfish comments: Vince and I started in the professional wrestling business, he as an announcer and me as a journalist, just about the same time. I have many great memories of Vince, ever the wide-eyed innocent, calling matches and getting humiliated by the various heels.
There was a time, though newer fans may not believe it, that we wondered if WWE could survive the loss of Vince at the mic. At his peak, he was the best in the business.
William Regal d. CM Punk via DQ
Stip: Title can be lost on DQ
Regal had Punk trapped in the corner. Punk fought his way out with an Uppercut that the referee said was a low blow and disqualified him.
The Kingfish comments: This was terrible. The little bit of the match was ok, but the ending left a foul stench that the no air conditioning system could dispel. The DQ was ridiculous, especially compared to the way Regal did it in the match on last week’s RAW.
A much better way to book it would’ve been to have Regal walk out on the first match. Stephanie would’ve then scheduled a match for this week in which Regal would lose if counted out. Then, on this RAW, Regal would’ve gotten himself disqualified. Stephanie would have then announced a “No DQ, No COR” for next week.
Cody Rhodes tried to sell Manu and Sim Snuka on the idea that his turncoat treachery was just one of those things.
The two men left out of Legacy told Rhodes that they planned to go after Orton. They revealed that they had a mystery ally for back-up and encouraged Cody to throw in his lot with them. He didn’t seem overly interested in that proposition.
The Kingfish comments: If two guys need back-up to attack one guy, they are sort of beaten before they start. When they said the mystery man was a second-generation wrestler, it really took a lot of the suspense out of it, didn’t it?
William Regal crowed about Punk’s challenge falling short until Stephanie told him about his match against CM next week.
A video celebrated the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin and announced that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame the night before WrestleMania.
The Kingfish comments: Austin so obviously belongs in the Hall of Fame that the delay in his induction suggests that there is another factor at work. I believe it’s that they would like him to do a retirement match to tie in with his election to the HoF.
The announcement that this is Stone Cold’s Hall of Fame year is an indication that his retirement match could well take place at WM 25.
John Leyfield talked to Shawn Michaels back stage. He rubbed it in by telling HBK that Jericho will be all right, because he wasn’t wiped out in the recent financial crisis.
A video showed a montage of McMahon firings.
Randy Orton d. Kane
Randy Orton short-circuited air Kane with a Missile Dropkick to the midsection. He covered and the referee counted the pinfall.
A subsequent replay showed that the Big Red Machine had raised his shoulder in time to beat the count.
The Kingfish comments: You have to wonder if the mistakes in this and the Mysterio match are a prelude to some kind of angle involving the referees.
Sim Snuka and Manu came to the top of the ramp to challenge Randy Orton. They introduced their mystery friend, who turned out to be Ted DiBiase Jr.
When the trio got into the ring, DiBiase switched sides ! He, Orton and Rhodes beat the other two senseless.
The Kingfish comments: Someone was probably shocked by this turn of events, but I think a lot o fans could’ve outlined the story the minute DiBiase came out.
The obvious way to go from here is a program between Rhodes-DiBiase and Manu-Sim. It might be better if one of those teams held the tag titles, though.
John Cena assured Tod Grisham that he knew all about the Royal Rumble and seemed a little apprehensive about the match he will fight there against JBL. He put over Leyfield and his opponent on this show, Shawn Michaels, in very strong terms.
The Kingfish comments: This was an excellent promo in the classic tradition. Before matches, the babyface is supposed to build up the danger posed by the heel and the heel is supposed to denigrate the skills of the babyface so fans become fearful that their favorite will lose.
Melina & Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix and Jillian Hall didn’t even get as far as the ring. As Melina came down the ramp, Rosa Mendez ,disguised as a photographer, attacked her!
The heels joined in the fracas and soon all five women were brawling on the ramp. Numbers told the story. The heels left triumphant.
The Kingfish comments: I liked this much better than the match the four probably would’ve had if the whole thing wasn’t about the Mendez sneak attacks on Melina.
Based on the fact that WWE appears to have a Melina-Rosa program in mind, I’d say the Latina Spitfire has a pretty good chance of claiming the title when she faces Beth Phoenix at Royal Rumble. Of course, there’s still time for things to veer in a different direction, but that’s the way it looks right now.
A video showed Vince McMahon receiving a star on the Walk of Fame.
Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase conferred backstage. They agreed to let bygones by bygones, but a note of possible discord surfaced when they discussed their participation in the “Royal Rumble” match at the pay per view.
The Kingfish comments: It’s standard practice to incite fans to consider such possibilities, but it’s highly unlikely that WWE would split up this trio after spending so much TV time putting it together.
I’m wondering if there will be a fourth member and who that might be. A female member could be Natalya. She’s from an illustrious wrestling family and might actually fit better on RAW, which has some of the more competitive female wrestlers.
A group of lesser members of the RAW roster stood at the office door, waiting to make their cases for inclusion in the Royal Rumble. Santino Morella came out of the door and, after a little teasing, announced that he has a spot in the Rumble match.
This appeared to give such as Goldust and Jamie Noble hope, but Santino cruelly taunted that they were all losers who wouldn’t be in the match.
The Kingfish comments: While this wasn’t especially funny, it did its assigned job: announce that Morella was in and suggest that this wasn’t going to be a Rumble for any but the best.
Well, the best and Morella.
In the old days, they would’ve made Santino a manager so that he wouldn’t have to actually wrestle very often. Of course, he doesn’t wrestle much now, but it would seem more realistic if he wasn’t expected to work a lot of matches.
Shawn Michaels d. John Cena
Shawn Michaels arrived in JBL’s limo and the Cowboy Financier watched the match from ringside.
John Cena offered Michaels his hand prior to the opening bell. Michaels showed great reluctance, but eventually shook hands with the champion.
Although Leyfield didn’t directly interfere, he provided a split-second distraction that sealed Cena’s fate. Michaels and Cena fought very evenly (and cleanly), each trying unsuccessfully to use their strongest holds on the others. Cena reversed a Figure-Four Leglock and Michaels made the ropes to escape an STFU when Layfield pushed the middle strand about six inches closer.
The champion kept trying for the FU, but HBK always slithered off his shoulders before he could execute. After one such escape, Cena charged across the ring at Michaels, but then saw Leyfield at ringside right in front of him. He hesitated for a moment before turning back to HBK – just in time to take Sweet Chin Music! The pin followed quickly.
The show ended with a smug John Bradshaw Leyfield standing over the vanquished John Cena.
The Kingfish comments: The show as a whole was interest and really closed with a bang. Next week’s RAW should be the kind of exciting show WWE needs before an important pay per view like Royal Rumble.
I’ll be back during the weekend with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. I hope you’ll come back then – and, please, bring your friends.
– Arnie Katz