2/4 WWE Raw in Minneapolis: Powell's report on The Miz vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship, C.M. Punk vs. John Cena, John Morrison vs. Sheamus, eliminated NXT rookie Diva hosts the show
WWE Live Event
Minneapolis, Minn. at Target Center
Report by Jason Powell
1. Mark Henry defeated Zack Ryder. I missed the opener and we were making our way through the entrance area at the scheduled starting time, so the show must have started right at 7:30. I was told that Henry won with the World's Strongest Slam.
2. Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov defeated Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga (w/Mason Ryan) to retain the WWE Tag Titles. The Nexus members delivered mic work before the match. McGillicutty acknowledged that he's from Minnesota and then drew heat by talking about how he's ashamed of his home state. Santino pinned Otunga following The Cobra. Ryan got involved after the match as the heels laid out the tag champs. He stumbled a bit while performing the big boot. It seems odd to have the newcomer in the corner at the house shows rather than getting the in-ring work that he needs.
3. Yoshi Tatsu defeated Primo. The anonymous general manager chime sounded. On behalf of the general manager, Justin Roberts set up a lame ass dance off. I felt bad for both wrestlers, and the live crowd didn't get into it either. Yoshi got the clean pin on Primo following a kick. The match was nothing special. I was actually hoping for more from these two, but it was just a basic house show match.
4. John Morrison defeated King Sheamus. Sheamus delivered some King-themed mic work and was eventually interrupted by Morrison's music. The live crowd was into the match. It started slowly, but built nicely to the finish with some good near falls following big moves from both men. Morrison got the pin following the running knee. This was the best undercard match of the night.
5. Daniel Bryan (w/Gail Kim) defeated Ted DiBiase to retain the U.S. Championship. Another quality match. This wasn't as entertaining as their recent NXT match, but they both delivered a good house show performance. Maryse ran out late in the match and was roughed up by Gail on the floor. The women fighting took place at the same time as Danielson locking in the LeBell Lock for the submission win. The cat fight was poorly timed in that it distracted fans from the finish.
6. Eve and Tamina defeated Melina and Alicia Fox. Mild crowd interest in the Divas match at best. Eve won the match for her team.
7. John Cena defeated C.M. Punk in a street fight. Punk was phenomenal on the mic. He mentioned his history in Minnesota and specifically mentioned that he sold out shows at the West St. Paul Armory while badmouthing Minnesota and Vikings fans. I was a regular at those old Steel Domain Wrestling shows, so I found the armory mention was a really nice touch. It's been a real treat to watch Punk work his way up from the indy scene to where he is today.
This was the fan's choice match and Punk made it no secret that he wanted it to be a best of three falls match rather than the street fight. He even went so far as to say that he didn't think he had a very good chance to win a street fight, but felt he could take Cena in a best of three falls match. At one point, he even tried to lead the crowd in a "two out of three falls" chant, which was hilarious. Punk also vowed that he would never wrestle in Minneapolis again if he lost.
Cena came out to the loudest pop of the night. After Punk's mic work and some stalling tactics that would make Larry Zbyszko proud, Cena and Punk delivered a strong performance. They brawled at ringside and Punk set up the ring steps in the aisle. I think 99 percent of the fans expected Cena to reverse it when Punk whipped him towards the steps, but Cena took the bump. Nexus interfered at one point, but the tag champs, Morrison, and Yoshi ran them off. The finish saw Punk go for GTS only to have Cena counter with the STF for the submission win. Punk's mic work was the highlight of the show.
8. The Miz (w/Alex Riley) defeated Randy Orton to retain the WWE Championship. Miz also cut a long promo before the match that riled up the live crowd. It was classic Miz mic work, including him telling the fans that they had to sit down and be quiet if they wanted him to stop talking. He also demanded that they raise their hands and wait for him to give them permission to speak. Funny stuff.
Orton came out to the second best pop of the night behind Cena. The reaction for John Morrison earlier in the show as the only pop that came close to Cena and Orton. The match was very slow to start and the live crowd responded accordingly with the type of silence normally reserved for a throwaway Divas match. Some bald guy near the top of the lower bowl was begging Randy to perform the chin lock of doom, which he did a few seconds later.
They brawled to the floor and fought up the aisle. It looked like we were heading for a Miz countout win, but it was pleasantly surprising to see them return to the ring to perform some of their signature spots. Orton was distracted by Riley standing on the ring apron and ended up taking the Skull Crushing Finale for the 1-2-3.
After the match, the anonymous general manager email chime sounded. Roberts announced that the general manager was ordering Miz to return backstage immediately. Miz did so without even heeling it up to show frustration. The general manager ordered Riley to return to the ring for a match with Orton. A few kids probably left the building wondering whether Justin Roberts is the anonymous general manager.
9. Randy Orton defeated Alex Riley in a No Holds Barred match. They didn't do anything to play into the no holds barred aspect of the match. It was a blink and you missed it type of match with Orton hitting the RKO and getting the win to send the crowd home happy. Orton shook a lot of hands on his way to the back to end the show.
Notes: Former NXT season three rookie A.J. was the host of the show. She wore a skirt that was a half-inch away from WWE moving from PG into R rated territory, not that I'm complaining. I'm horrible at crowd estimates, but my buddy Jon Lopuch and I guessed that roughly 5,000 fans attended the show. The upper deck of the arena was not used. The fans who paid $20 for tickets were rewarded with pretty much the same view as those who paid $60.
The best fan sign of the night went to a pair of female fans who held up a sign (with arrows pointing down at them) that read "Threesome Orton?" Meanwhile, Dot Net reader Chris Ketchmark reports that he saw security confiscate a sign that read "Kick his ass" during the main event. The fan was even ejected from the building. However, it's hard to say whether there was more to the story than just the sign.
The undercard was actually stronger than the post-intermission. Punk stole the show with his mic work and his match with Cena was entertaining, but the Divas match and the mostly flat WWE Championship match were not nearly as good as Sheamus vs. Morrison or Bryan vs. DiBiase. I didn't expect a classic from Miz and Orton at a house show. Miz's promo was fun, but the pace of the match until the home stretch really sucked the life out of the crowd, which had been into the show before then.
Overall, though, the live crowd was filled with kids who seemed to leave the building thrilled with their experience. As much as I enjoyed the heel mic work by Punk, Miz, and Sheamus, I was surprised that we didn't get any mic work from Cena or one of the babyfaces. Cena did go out of his way to shake some hands at ringside and signed a couple of quick autographs on his way to the back. There were some scattered boos for Cena, but he was extremely over with this kid-heavy crowd.
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