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August 31, 2009
– Adam Russell

In which I went to Raw, and had a good time

On Monday myself and my good lady wife headed to the Joe in Detroit for the event of my first ever television taping. Despite pretty much
universally panning Raw for the past several months in my reviews, I was actually somewhat optimistic for a good show, the feeling
intensified by the announcement of Dusty Rhodes as the guest host.

We got to the arena at around 7:45, and soon found ourselves in our seats which, to my pleasant surprise, were only some ten rows
back from ringside. My first impression was of how small everything looked- the stage, the entranceway, even the ring. In some ways,
being that close to ringside diminished from the sense of spectacle that WWE is known for. On the other hand, of course, the seats were
awesome!

There seemed to be a fair few empty seats sprinkled throughout the arena, but I have no idea what the attendance was (I heard it was
sold out). There was lots of John Cena and DX merchandise and signs, and a sprinkling of Hardy Boyz stuff, despite them being on
Smackdown.

Lillian made her way out first, as the show got underway at about 8:15. She explained to us what was going to be going down over the
course of the evening, and encouraged us to make lots of noise. My answer to that is that they should strive to put on a show which elicits
a genuine reaction from me.

The first match was a dark one, pitting Alex Riley against a firm favourite of mine, Primo. Riley got on the mic and informed us that heâ
€™s the guy who used to stuff all of us nerds into lockers in high school, and that he is still a bully. The crowd played along by booing
him. Primo was pretty over and got the win with a springboard cross body in a short, by-the-numbers match. I was happy to see Primo in
action. Riley looked functional.

Next up was a match taped for Superstars, and with the opening of that show being taped, I got my first up-close taste of the WWE pyro.
Man, it was loud. Evan Bourne made his way out to a decent reaction, followed by his opponent, Chris Masters. The match was a
standard affair, but the crowd didn’t seem any more into it than the opener. Both guys seemed to be working pretty hard, and the
crowd came to their feet for the first time of the evening when Bourne hit the shooting star press to win. Even the missus marked out.

The commentary team made their way out next, and we were told by Lillian that Raw was about to begin. The show kicked off with Dusty
Rhodes being introduced as the guest host, and the Dream received a warm reception. He talked a bit about being in Detroit, and then
announced that his son, Cody would be receiving a WWE Title match against Randy Orton later in the night, with John Cena as the guest
referee, as ‘there’s nothing a father wouldn’t do for his son’. This brought out Orton, who got a mixture of cheers and
boos. Orton got in Dusty’s face which prompted Cody to come out, and say that he can’t pass up this opportunity. They agreed
that it was nothing personal, just business.

The first match for Raw was a diva battle royal, with the winner earning a shot at Divas champ, Mickie James later in the show. Two diva
matches in one night? First bad news of the night. The match was a horrible mess, and nobody really cared. Beth Phoenix got the win,
last eliminating Gail Kim. The other combatants were Kelly Kelly, Jillian, Rosa Mendes, and Alicia Fox.

Immediately following the match, Chris Jericho made his way out, his pyro scaring the hell out of me. During the commercial break,
Jericho cut a promo on all us hypocrites in the crowd, and when we returned live, his opponent MVP came out. Jericho had good heat,
with some cheers (a Y2J chant broke out behind me), while MVP was received well. The two had an entertaining match, with Jericho
largely dominating, and the crowd getting behind MVP by chanting his name. After about ten minutes of action, with both men getting in
their signature spots, Jericho got the clean win with the Codebreaker.

Next was the first of a series of backstage segments involving Dusty Rhodes and D-Generation X. It was hard to hear everything that was
going on over the noise in the arena, but it was basically a commercial for the new WCW DVD.

Hornswoggle came out next for a Texas Bullrope match against, of course, Chavo Guerrero. This involved Hornswoggle dressed as a
cowboy and Chavo dressed as, of course, a cow (complete with cow head), and the little guy, of course, winning by tying his opponent up
with the bullrope. Hornswoggle got a decent reaction when he came out, but after that the crowd pretty much crapped on the match, with
a TNA chant even breaking out. Evan Bourne made an appearance late on to stop Chavo from cheating, and he encouraged the crowd to
cheer for Hornswoggle. Everyone seemed to be sick of this prolonged burying of Chavo. At least I didn’t have to listen to Cole and
King’s forced laughter.

Next up was the battle of the giants- The Big Show versus Mark Henry. Henry was surprisingly over with the crowd, but once the match
started the arena went quiet, with the crowd only popping for the big spots, like Big Show spearing Henry to the mat. The slow-moving,
but inoffensive match ended with Show getting disqualified for using the exposed turnbuckle, and then KO’ing Henry with a punch.

Legacy were then shown in the back, with Orton reminding Cody that tonight was just business.

A commercial break was followed by more Dusty/DX tomfoolery, consisting of Michaels being the butt of jokes about being the WWF
figurehead when WCW was on top of the Monday Night Wars, and then being injured when WWF regained dominance. They then took a
cheapshot at Marc Mero.

A fatal fourway for the United States championship was next. Jack Swagger, Carlito and The Miz were Kofi Kingston’s challengers,
with The Miz being the most over of the three. Kingston was very popular. The four proceeded to put on the best match of the night. It was
spot-oriented, as most multi-wrestler matches are, but it was fast-paced throughout, and the execution of moves was smooth from
everyone. Highlights were Kofi diving over the top rope onto his three opponents, and then the exchange of finishers that led to the
winning pinfall from Kingston on Carlito after the Trouble in Paradise.

The Divas Championship match was next, and Mickie James got a good reaction. The match was pretty good, with Beth Phoenix
dominating. Mickie caught her with a DDT for the finish, which popped the crowd after they had been pretty quiet throughout the match.

Back to DX and Dusty, as they made fun of The Shockmaster. It seemed to go over everybody’s head.

John Cena was then interviewed by Josh Matthews, and he cut a promo explaining that he won’t pick sides in the main event, which
was up next.

Orton came out first, and we had the pleasure of listening to his theme song for five minutes while they went to commercial. Cody and
Dusty then came out, and finally Cena made his first appearance live in the arena. It was a typical Cena reaction- lots of cheers, lots of
boos, but everyone was making some sort of noise. Before the match got started, Dusty took to the mic and said that, as he said before,
a father would do anything for his son, and then apologised to Cena as Cody and Orton jumped him, with Dibiase soon joining in the
beat down. It was a set-up all along, and one that I saw coming from the moment the match was announced. DX came out to make the
save, to the biggest pop of the night, but were soon beaten down as well, thanks to Dusty using his cowboy boot on Hunter. There was
one more surprise in store though, with Randy Orton RKO’ing Dusty, which seemed to stun the crowd. The reactions from all
involved were great, and the crowd were dying for Cody to do something about it, chanting his name for the first time since he debuted.
He didn’t, of course, and the show ended with Cody cowering in the corner.

After Raw went off the air, Legacy made their way up the ramp, before Triple H got on the mic and challenged them to a 6-man tag team
match. Legacy came back to the ring and the match began with the DX/Cena team dominating for a few minutes, until Shawn assumed
the role of babyface in peril. He made his comeback, but before he could make the hot tag, Orton knocked Hunter and Cena off the apron.
This caused Dusty, who had been shaking off the cobwebs at ringside, to climb onto the apron and take the tag, to a big pop from the
crowd. Dusty opened up on Randy with punches, and the bionic elbow, then gave Dibiase the same treatment, and finally, Cody (who
was back to playing full heel). Orton tried to corner Dusty, but didn’t notice that DX and Cena were behind him, and the champ ate an
elbow, Sweet Chin Music and the Pedigree, before tapping out to the STF. It didn’t matter that Cena wasn’t the legal man, or that
Dusty wasn’t in the match to begin with- the crowd got what they wanted, and were sent home happy.

That wasn’t quite it though, as DX performed their shtick for the crowd, assisted by Cena and even Dusty. It’s funny just how
likeable Triple H comes across in these situations.

That brought an end to a great night of entertainment. A big part of that was due to experiencing a TV taping live for the first time, but I was
always very pleased with the quality of the show that was put on, surely the best episode of Raw in recent memory. Cena and DX were
unsurprisingly the most over stars on the show, but it was encouraging to hear the crowd get so behind Cody Rhodes, much-maligned,
at the close of the show. I hope they follow up on this.

I would definitely go again.