Welcome to week 21 of “RAW is WAR: 2009 vs. 2019.” This is a 52-week project to determine which year of Monday Night Raw was better: 2009 or 2019. Each week, we’ll have the three biggest takeaways from the shows, extra analysis and thoughts on the rest of the show, and then a final score for each show. Whichever score is higher wins, and whichever year wins the most week wins bragging rights for life … kind of.
It’s a holiday edition of Raw as its Memorial Day in the United States. Holiday shows are usually weaker than non-holiday shows, so it’ll be interesting if either year can buck that trend. Here’s a look at which show overcame the holiday blues more.
May 25, 2009 Raw in Los Angeles, CA
- WWE Champion: Randy Orton; No. 1 contender: Batista
- United States Champion: MVP; No. 1 contender: TBD
- Divas Champion: Maryse; No. 1 contender: Kelly Kelly
- Unified Tag Team Champions: Primo and Carlito; No. 1 contenders: TBD
Detailed “play by play” of the show here.
THREE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS:
- Kofi Kingston becomes No. 1 contender for the U.S. Championship — The best match on the show (by default) was Kingston beating William Regal and Matt Hardy to become No. 1 contender for MVP’s title. Their match will be next week on Raw. Those two should put on a fine match, I think. We’ll see next week, I guess.
- Stipulation made for Santina Marella vs. Vickie Guerrero — Santino Marella and Mickie James beat Chavo Guerrero and Beth Phoenix, allowing Marella to pick the stipulation for the match between Santina and Vickie at Extreme Rules. The decision? A “hog pen match.” They’ve been building this for weeks, with Santino calling Vickie a pig. We finally get the “payoff” at Extreme Rules in two weeks. Cool!
- Kennedy is back — Kennedy told Randy Orton that he’s the next WWE Champion before announcing he’s the fifth member of the Lakers’ team (more on that below) in the 10-man tag match main event. Kennedy is a good talker and a solid in-ring worker, so I’m intrigued to see where he goes from here.
ANALYSIS FROM REST OF SHOW:
- Maryse retained her title against Kelly Kelly via a disqualification. Cool.
- There were two segments with Goldust and Hornswoggle. One of them featured them beating Brian Kendrick and Festus in a tag match. Yup.
- Ric Flair and Randy Orton had a nice back-and-forth promo and mini brawl. That was one of few redeeming qualities to this show.
- This show will always be defined by the pettiness of Vince McMahon. Raw had to move from Denver to Los Angeles due to the NBA Western Conference Finals taking place in Denver. Nuggets owner E. Stanley Kroenke refused to adjust the schedule (or something like that), forcing thousands of WWE fans to miss the Raw in Denver.
McMahon played into this throughout the show, booking a 10-man “NBA edition” tag match, featuring five guys in Lakers jerseys and five in Nuggets jerseys. The opening segment also featured McMahon shoving “E. Stanley Kroenke.” It was incredibly petty and stupid.
SCORE: 3/10. The pettiness was awful and the show wasn’t good on top of it. The matches were average at best and nothing overly important happened. This was just a big middle finger to Kroenke; one he didn’t see as his Nuggets were defeating the Lakers in Game 4 of the WCF at the same time.
May 27, 2019 Raw in Kansas City, MO
- Universal Champion: Seth Rollins; No. 1 contender: TBD
- United States Champion: Rey Mysterio; No. 1 contender: TBD
- Raw Tag Team Champions: Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder; No. 1 contenders: TBD
- 24/7 Champion: R-Truth; No. 1 contender: everyone
- Raw Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch; No. 1 contender: TBD
- Women’s Tag Team Champions: The IIconics; No. 1 contender: TBD
Detailed “play-by-play” of the show here.
THREE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS:
- Baron Corbin becomes No. 1 contender to the Universal Championship — And the crowd goes mild. At the upcoming Super Showdown show in Saudi Arabia, it’ll be Corbin vs. Seth Rollins for the title. Corbin won a fatal-four-way “elimination” match, pinning The Miz for the win. Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman were also in the match, but they chased each other off near the end. Apparently, that counted as an “elimination,” allowing Corbin to win. The match was actually really solid and featured some cool-looking spots. Corbin catching Miz for the End of Days was an awesome move to end a good TV match. It’s just unfortunate we have to endure Corbin on our television competing for a world title.
- Brock Lesnar realizes what the Money in the Bank briefcase rules are — The two best segments of the show featured Brock Lesnar. The open, with him coming out to announce who he’ll cash-in on, featured Lesnar dancing with his custom beatbox briefcase and Paul Heyman jamming the air guitar. That was an amazing visual. Then, an hour later, Heyman was reading off the “contract” of the MITB briefcase when Lesnar stopped him, asked him “I get a year to cash this in?”, then slapped Heyman in the face with the contract. This is the most personality Lesnar has shown in years and it shows. It’s been a lot of fun to see an engaged Lesnar embracing the contract and playing this new role very well. He also spoke, which was cool to see! I don’t know how this all ends, but I am enjoying watching Lesnar dance to his beatbox briefcase every week.
- The Firefly Fun House delivers again — Easily the most consistently good thing on Raw each week, Bray Wyatt delivered another strong edition of the Firefly Fun House. I have no idea what they’re building to, but I’m loving the journey they’re taking us on.
ANALYSIS FROM REST OF SHOW:
- A quick shout out to Ricochet and Cesaro. For the second straight week, those two went out and put on an absolute banger of a match. These guys could wrestle every week and nobody would complain.
- Shane McMahon looks as if I tried wrestling. The man was gassed after a five-minute match against a local talent. Yikes.
- OMG SAMI ZAYN MENTIONED AEW. This was obviously meant to come off as a shock value for the “edgier” third hour of Raw, but it felt almost pointless. It also signifies that WWE sees AEW now as competition. They never mentioned TNA back when they rose to prominence in 2009-2011, so the fact they’d bring up AEW is a change of pace from their old days. Also having Zayn say this line plays into his “critic of the critics” persona he’s been building since his return. He’s giving off CM Punk vibes with this new character.
- The timing of this show was off. The commercial breaks were random and didn’t seem natural. This was most apparent in the opening segment, when the Kofi Kingston/Dolph Ziggler/Xavier Woods beatdown and subsequent Ziggler promo went through two different commercial breaks. It seemed like they stretched things a lot on this show, causing the pacing to be horrendous.
SCORE: 5/10. The first hour, outside of Lesnar, was BAD. Like to the point where I wanted to turn it off. It rebounded in the second and third hours, though, with really solid in-ring work. That’s what’s setting apart 2019 from 2009 at this point. Neither show has overly compelling storylines going on, but the wrestling in 2019 is better most weeks than 2009. The 2009 show has been hurt by losing guys like Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho.
OVERALL SCORE: 2019 — 13; 2009 — 8