Welcome to week one 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. We’ll give as brief of recaps of each show as possible before determining which show was better than week. In the spirit of fairness, I will also list off any nostalgia feelings I had while watching the 2009 episodes (I was 14 when they were on, remember). Whichever year wins the most weeks wins.
Here we go with week one!
Jan. 5, 2009 Raw in New Orleans, LA
- World Heavyweight Champion: John Cena; No. 1 contender: JBL
- Intercontinental Champion: William Regal (w/Layla); No. 1 contender: CM Punk
- Tag Team Champions: John Morrison and The Miz, No. 1 contenders: TBD
- Women’s Champion: Beth Phoenix; No. 1 contender: Melina
- The show opens with a video package recapping Shawn Michaels taking a job with JBL because he is broke. It then shows the highlights of a fatal four way match the previous week between Michaels, JBL, Randy Orton and Chris Jericho where JBL forced Michaels to take a “clothesline from hell” and be pinned to make him number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship.
- Jericho and Orton are in the ring, saying they’re filing a formal complaint against what happened in last week’s match. Jericho said Michaels and JBL worked in collusion and Jericho and Orton fought an honest fight. JBL and Michaels interrupt. Orton and Jericho take digs at Michaels. Stephanie McMahon, the general manager of Raw, comes out and says the referee’s decision stands from last week since JBL hit the “clothesline from hell” on Michaels to win the match. She announces that Jericho and Orton are now in the royal rumble match. A tag match is made between Jericho and Orton vs. Michaels and the world champion, John Cena.
- A mixed tag match featuring Goldust and Melina vs. Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix is next. Santino tags in and tries to go after Melina, but she slaps him in the face. This is vintage Santino comedy stuff, talking throughout the match. Goldust counters with his bizarre stuff as well. Melina hits a sick-looking top rope bulldog on Phoenix, then rolls up the champ for the victory. A fan, Rosa Mendes, then jumps the rail and tries attacking Melina before Melina chases her off.
- Todd Grisham interviews CM Punk backstage ahead of his IC title match upcoming against William Regal. That match is next
- Punk vs. Regal for the IC title. This is where the “CM Punk” chants are okay. Punk goes for the GTS, but Regal grabs the referee and causes a disqualification. Punk wins the match, but Regal retains the championship. Stephanie McMahon then appears on the jumbotron saying a rematch will happen next week, and if Regal is disqualified, he will lose the championship.
- JBL gives Shawn Michaels a “pep talk” in the locker room, trying to get Michaels to take out Cena, Orton and Jericho in the tag team match later in the show.
- We then cut to Orton talking to Cody Rhodes and Sim Snuka (f.k.a. Deuce) backstage, who are trying to join Orton’s new group, Legacy. He says if both guys win their matches tonight, they’re in the group. Manu (the son of Afa from the Wild Samoans) then says he wants another shot to join the group, but Orton says he’ll never be in the group after he lost his match the week prior.
- We then cut to Dolph Ziggler backstage, introducing himself to Mickie James. Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio then head to the ring to face John Morrison and The Miz in non-title action
- Miz and Morrison cut a promo trash talking New Orleans before Kingston and Mysterio come to the ring. It’s a very solid promo from the duo, which is normal for them. The match was high-flying, which is expected with the likes of Kingston and Mysterio involved. Miz and Morrison focus their attack on Kingston’s leg to gain control of the match. Mysterio gets the hot tag after 5-7 minutes of Morrison being in control. Mysterio hits the 619 on Morrison, but Miz distracts Mysterio after that. This allows Morrison to hit his signature kick for the victory. Crowd was hot for Mysterio, making the heel victory that much better. Good action.
- Mike Knox then attacks Mysterio following the match. They’re still involved in a feud that’s been going on for a few months.
- John Cena confronts Michaels in the locker room. A very vague threat is given by Michaels to Cena.
- Kelly Kelly is in action next against Jillian. Jillian comes to the ring singing “When the Saints Come Marching In” in her typical horrible voice. Jillian dominates most of the match, but Kelly comes back to win with a cool looking leg drop move.
- Kane then comes out and talks to Kelly. This is when Kane thought Kelly Kelly liked him, causing a weird stalking-like storyline. Kelly really likes Randy Orton, though. Kane vs. Orton is announced for next week.
- Cody Rhodes and Sim Snuka vs. Cryme Tyme (Shad and JTG) is next. Cryme Tyme is in control early, but Rhodes and Snuka eventually take over. Shad gets the hot tag, but after a little battle, Rhodes hits the “Cross Rhodes” for the win, the first time he’s ever done the move. Orton then says that only Rhodes is joining Legacy since he got the pin and Snuka didn’t.
- Jericho and Stephanie McMahon are backstage. Jericho says Vince McMahon will be back in two weeks.
- Main event time: Cena and Michaels vs. Jericho and Orton. Cena gets a huge pop for his entrance. Cena started strong early, but Jericho and Orton seized control. There was some good psychology playing up the Michaels/Cena dilemma. Michaels gets the hot tag, stares at Cena, then goes and attacks Jericho and Orton. After some back-and-forth, Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music on both Orton and Jericho for the win.
- Backstage, JBL announces that it’ll be Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena next week on Monday Night Raw
ANALYSIS: An alright show to start 2009. Lot of stuff that furthered feuds, but nothing that was outstanding. A very middle-of-the-road episode of Raw.
NOSTALGIA FEELINGS FROM 2009 EPISODE:
- Heel Jericho in the suit is the best
- Jillian’s singing voice is so bad, it’s good. I couldn’t stop laughing when she was signing
- Santino Marella was too good for us. We didn’t treat him well enough
- Miz and Morrison are awesome
- Kofi being from Jamaica made me laugh
- Cody Rhodes is so young. Crazy where he’s at right now
Jan. 7, 2019 Raw in Orlando, FL
- Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar; No. 1 contender: Braun Strowman
- Intercontinental Champion: Dean Ambrose; No. 1 contender: Seth Rollins
- Raw Tag Team Champions: Bobby Roode and Chad Gable; No. 1 contender: The Revival
- Raw Women’s Champion: Ronda Rousey; No. 1 contender: TBD
- A major brawl between Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley kicks off the show. It starts in the backstage area before spilling out onto the stage.
- John Cena then comes out, with minimal time in between the brawl ending and his music starting. That was … odd. He’s out to cut a promo about “THE ROAD TI WRESTLEMANIA!” He officially enters himself into the Royal Rumble match in three weeks. Drew McIntyre then interrupts Cena and cuts a very typical anti-Cena promo, which Cena calls him out for hilariously. It appears we’re going to get McIntyre vs. Cena, but then Lio Rush and Bobby Lashley interrupt. Rollins attacks Lashley, leading to another brawl featuring the five men out there plus Dean Ambrose. Finn Balor then joins the fight and takes out McIntyre. Crowd is HOT as they cut to commercial.
- Out of the commercial, we get a 6-man tag match: Cena, Rollins and Balor vs. Lashley, McIntyre and Ambrose. Pretty standard six-man tag action before heading to another commercial break. The heel team dominates Cena for another five minutes before heading to ANOTHER commercial break, which seems excessive. Cena finally gets free and tags in Balor, who cleans house before McIntyre takes him out. Rollins then gets a hot tag and takes out McIntyre. After a flurry of offense, Rollins hits a curb stomp on Ambrose for the win. Solid match with a strong finish. Rollins is white hot right now.
- They show Rollins in the ring watching a “live shot” of Triple H talking to Sasha Banks and Bayley backstage. Rollins angrily walks towards the backstage area as he is trying to show HHH his worth. Rollins demands an IC title match against Ambrose tonight. HHH gives it to him, but makes it a falls count anywhere match.
- After the commercial, WWE airs a tribute package to “Mean” Gene Okerlund, who passed away a few days prior. They do a 10-bell salute, followed by Hulk Hogan coming out to remember the life of Okerlund. The video package was so well done, as usual. Hogan then cut an amazing, heartfelt promo, referencing many former wrestlers and commentators who’ve passed. It was incredibly well done.
- A lumberjack match for the tag team titles is next between Bobby Roode and Chad Gable vs. The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder). Standard tag team shenanigans. Gable pins Wilder for the win, but the ref missed Wilder’s foot being under the bottom rope. It’s setting the stage for another rematch between the two teams.
- Elias is out and starts to sing a song about the failures of Baron Corbin. He’s cut off by Corbin before he can get going, though. Both men announce they’re entering the royal rumble match before having a match. Elias has the momentum going into the commercial break, but Corbin is in control coming out of it. Corbin hits the “end of days” after a decent match to get the win. A “CM Punk” chant broke out by the crowd, which was a little disappointing. Crowd has been pretty good for most of the night.
- A backstage promo with Dean Ambrose follows. He says he’s going to “burn down” Rollins in their match later tonight.
- The Braun Strowman/Brock Lesnar face-off is next. Strowman comes to the ring, but Lesnar and his advocate, Paul Heyman, are staying in the backstage area. Heyman says he and Lesnar aren’t coming to the ring for the best interests of Strowman. The “monster among men” then goats Lesnar to come to the ring. Lesnar walks around the ring, but then leaves. An alright segment that could’ve been better.
- Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox vs. Apollo Crews and Ember Moon is next. Standard filler tag team match. Mahal and Fox get no offense in, Moon pins Fox for the win. Cool to see mixed tag action on Raw, though. Mahal did call out a woman with a beard, though. That was funny!
- “A Moment of Bliss” with Alexa Bliss debuts next. Her first guest is Ronda Rousey. Rousey cuts a very passionate promo about Sasha Banks, which seemed to come out of nowhere. Nia Jax interrupts, followed by Banks coming out. She thanks Rousey for the kind words before confronting Jax. Banks vs. Jax is set, with the winner facing Rousey for the Raw Women’s Championship at the Royal Rumble.
- Jax uses her power, while Banks tries to use her quickness to win the match. Bayley and Tamina are ringside and both get involved. Jax is in control going in and coming out of the commercial break. Jax dropped Banks on the top rope from a Samoan drop position, which was a wicked-looking spot. Banks then did this DDT-type move onto the ring apron, which looked like it hurt both competitors. Banks then put the “Bank statement” on Jax and she tapped out. It’ll be Sasha Banks vs. Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women’s Championship at the Royal Rumble.
- Main event time! Rollins vs. Ambrose in a falls count anywhere match for the IC title. Rollins attacks Ambrose in the aisleway to get things started to a hot start. They brawled all throughout the backstage area. Rollins tried to hit Ambrose with a shovel, which was hilarious. They fought all over the place, really selling the animosity between the two competitors. Rollins hits the curb stomp on Ambrose, but Lashley then came out and attacked Rollins. It culminated with a spear, allowing Ambrose to get the win and retain his title. Lashley then put Rollins through a table post-match to end the show.
ANALYSIS: A very solid Raw overall. The middle of the show was a little slow, but the open and end were really good. Pretty much as long as Rollins is on the screen, the segment will be good. More good than bad came from this Raw, though, so it gets a thumbs up from me.
THE VERDICT: Raw 2019 wins week one. The Kane/Kelly Kelly storyline was uncomfortable to revisit again. The crowd also seemed into the 2019 episode more than the 2009 one, which does affect the overall experience of watching the show. The undercard titles also have better storylines in 2019 than 2009, which leads to a more complete show.
Also, it just felt like 2019’s Raw meant a lot more. I don’t know if WWE has changed their approach since 2009, but 2019 had a lot more talk about the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania than the 2009 edition did. 2019 felt like a kickoff to Mania season in a sense, while 2009 was just another Raw.
SCORE: 2019 RAW 1, 2009 RAW 0