Welcome to week eight 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 already been announced that Roman Reigns is returning to Raw this week, so 2009 will have a steep hill to climb if it wants to win this week. Here’s a breakdown of both shows.
February 23, 2009 Raw in Nashville, TN
- World Heavyweight Champion: Edge; No. 1 contender: John Cena
- Intercontinental Champion: CM Punk; No. 1 contender: TBD
- Women’s Champion: Melina; No. 1 contender: TBD
- World Tag Team Champions: John Morrison and The Miz; No. 1 contender: TBD
- Primarily on ECW
- WWE Champion: Triple H
- Primarily on SmackDown. Appeared on the end of Raw last week to chase off Legacy after Randy Orton RKO’d his wife, Stephanie McMahon
Detailed “play by play” of the show here.
THREE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS
- Vickie Guerrero named interim Raw general manager — After Randy Orton RKO’d Stephanie McMahon last week, it left Raw without a leader. Guerrero stepped in as the interim GM this week because of that. Her, along with Edge and Big Show, confronted John Cena to start the show. For one, I don’t miss hearing “Excuse me!” yelled every week. There’s no timetable for when McMahon will be back, so who knows how long Guerrero will be running both Raw and SmackDown. She did make one important move though … (see below).
- Shawn Michaels vs. Vladimir Kozlov next week — We thought Michaels beating JBL would mean he gets a shot to face Undertaker at WrestleMania 25. However, interim Raw general manager announced that Michaels will now have to face Kozlov next week, with the winner challenging The Deadman at WrestleMania. The match between Michaels and JBL was fine, with nothing overly special or different happening. It’ll be interesting to see how Kozlov and Michaels work in the ring, as that’s not a matchup we’ve ever seen before. It was a slight buzzkill for this match to be announced because people want to see Michaels-Undertaker, not Kozlov-Undertaker.
- CM Punk qualifies for Money in the Bank — Punk beat The Miz and John Morrison in a triple threat match to be the first qualifier for the match. I’ve always questioned putting champions in MITB, as every champion should have the right to defend their title at WrestleMania. Punk isn’t doing much else anyway right now, so at least this keeps him occupied for the time being. The match itself was solid, as they played up the dynamic between Miz and Morrison well. Them turning on each other ultimately led to Punk winning.
ANALYSIS FROM REST OF SHOW
- My new favorite thing every week now is Jamie Noble getting massacred by someone. Last week, it was Kane in 15 seconds. This week, Mike Knox beat him in 29 seconds. Progress!
- Santino Marella is hilarious and we didn’t cherish him enough. I know I’ve said this before, but he had another hilarious moment in a six-person tag match. He’s arguably the most entertaining person on the show and needs to be appreciated more.
- Another week, and another awesome interaction between a legend and Chris Jericho. This week, it was Ricky Steamboat, who was announced as the newest inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame. Steamboat was there and got interrupted by Jericho. After Jericho called Steamboat a hypocrite, Steamboat fired back a passionate promo about never selling out and never changing who he is. Jericho then attacked Steamboat, throwing him into the LED boards on the stage. These last few weeks with Jericho and the legend have been really, really good. Flair, Piper and Steamboat all had awesome exchanges with Y2J and it’s really getting me excited to see these legends get their retribution.
- The show ended with Triple H chasing Legacy around the entire arena. I always find it funny how cameras are somehow setup in the rooms these guys run into. Like what great luck, am I right? HHH hit Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase with the sledgehammer, but didn’t get Randy Orton. Legacy drove away to end the show. All signs point to an HHH-Orton match for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.
SCORE: 7/10. This was a fine show. The in-ring quality was lacking, but there was good storyline development with Jericho vs. the legends, Cena vs. Edge and HHH vs. Orton. It’s also weird to see how the two main title feuds are crossing brands. The champions — Edge and Triple H — are technically SmackDown superstars. Their challengers — Cena and Orton — are Raw guys. Raw does a good job of showing recaps from anything that happened on SmackDown, but it’ll be interesting to see how much build is done on Raw versus how much is done on SmackDown.
February 25, 2019 Raw in Atlanta, GA
- Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar; No. 1 contender: Seth Rollins (royal rumble winner)
- Intercontinental Champion: Finn Balor; No. 1 contender: TBD
- Raw Tag Team Champions: The Revival; No. 1 contender: TBD
- Raw Women’s Champion: Ronda Rousey; No. 1 contender: Charlotte Flair
- Becky Lynch is the royal rumble winner and was expected to challenge Rousey at WrestleMania 35, but has been suspended for 60 days by Vince McMahon
Detailed “play-by-play” of the show here.
THREE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS
- Roman Reigns announces his cancer is in remission — Best. News. Ever. How could you not feel something watching this entire segment? The crowd erupting when Roman walked out gave me chills. Awesome, awesome, awesome.
- Batista is back — You knew that Ric Flair’s 70th birthday celebration wasn’t going to end peacefully, but I’m not sure anyone could’ve predicted what happened. With everyone in the ring waiting for the arrival of The Nature Boy, the cameras cut to the backstage area where a returning Batista dragged Flair out of his locker room. He then said, “Hey Hunter … do I have your attention now?” This goes back to SmackDown’s 1,000th episode celebration in October when Batista called out Triple H for never beating him in a 1-on-1 match. Batista hasn’t competed in WWE since 2014 and there’s been tons of rumors about WWE not returning Batista’s phone calls for another return. All of this is thrown into the melting pot for this moment, and man how epic was it. It was a truly shocking end to a fantastic episode of Raw. A Batista vs. HHH match at WrestleMania seems all but certain because of this, and I can’t wait to see it go down.
- Ronda leaves the title at Stephanie McMahon’s feet — Ronda Rousey has had enough of the sneak attacks from Becky Lynch. During her tag match, Lynch came out and attacked both her and Natalya. Lynch was “arrested,” being handcuffed and everything. Rousey then called out Vince McMahon, only for Stephanie to come instead. She demanded that Lynch be reinstated and put back in the title match at WrestleMania, making it a triple threat between the two and Charlotte. Stephanie said no, which only enraged Rousey. She ultimately said Vince needs to “make the right decision.” She then left the title at Stephanie’s feet. This was as passionate as Rousey has been and it adds even more fuel to the fire for this match. This will be the main event of WrestleMania, and they’re treating it as so. I loved this segment.
ANALYSIS FROM REST OF SHOW
- Ricochet and Aleister Black as a tag team is dangerous. The crowd was hot for their tag match against The Revival. 2-for-2 so far on using the NXT call-ups properly.
- It was refreshing to see Kurt Angle not get his butt kicked and win a match for once! Don’t know what this means in the long run, but it was nice to see Angle win a match for the first time in forever.
- Renegade Dean Ambrose is the best Dean Ambrose. He’s been on fire the past few weeks with his promos and interactions with Elias and Drew McIntyre.
- Also … Dean Ambrose wearing two belts … weird.
- A MINI SHIELD REUNION TEASE!!!! Reigns and Rollins came to the aide of Ambrose after he was being attacked by a host of heels. It appears we’re working our way to a Reigns-Baron Corbin match at WrestleMania, so this beatdown was a nice start to that build.
- Finn Balor and Lio Rush had a fine match for the IC title. The in-ring portion of the show tonight wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either.
- Once again, I want Otis Dozovic to just walk around and repeat everything I say. God bless that man.
- Ricky Steamboat chopping everyone — and Rollins selling it like crazy — as he came to the ring for the Flair celebration was awesome. I popped for that.
SCORE: 9.5/10. Simply put, this was an A+ episode of Raw. Everything seemed to click, the crowd was on fire, and it truly felt like a “Road to WrestleMania” episode of Raw. The Reigns news was fantastic, Rousey and Lynch had another awesome encounter, and the Batista return was a true shock. Combine that with few, if any, negatives, and this makes it the best Raw I’ve watched from either year so far.
OVERALL SCORE — 2019: 5; 2009: 3