Welcome to week two 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.
2019 won week one. Let’s see if 2009 can recover and even the score!
Jan. 12, 2009 Raw in Sioux City, IA
- World Heavyweight Champion: John Cena; No. 1 contender: JBL (w/Shawn Michaels)
- 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
- Show opens with JBL and Shawn Michaels in JBL’s limo. JBL says Michaels is facing John Cena tonight “for a paycheck from me.” JBL says that Michaels should consider this his “WrestleMania.”
- The intro video plays, a lost art in the 2019 world.
- Stephanie McMahon comes out and says her father, Vince McMahon, will be back on Raw next week. She’s interrupted by Chris Jericho. Y2J says Stephanie is a liar and says Vince will come back and right all of Stephanie’s wrongs, including putting him in the world title match at the Royal Rumble. Steph says the closest he’ll get to the title is in the royal rumble match. Y2J pushes the envelope too far, though, and Steph fires him. Jericho is left in stunned silence as we go to commercial. It was a nice exchange to start the show, including a nice dig at Mike Adamle.
- After the break, we see video of Jericho being escorted out of the building during the commercial break.
- First match of the night is The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio, a rematch (of sorts) from the tag match last week. Michael Cole says John Morrison is not here this week because of of injuries sustained in a tables match against Triple H on SmackDown on Friday. The Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale before it was called that, which was weird to see. It was essentially a “nothing” move. Good back and forth between the two leads to a 619 and a frog splash win from Mysterio. Good match, quick pace to it.
- After the match, Mike Knox brutalizes Mysterio. Rey fights off the attack, though, to stand tall.
- After the commercial, they air a Vince McMahon highlight package promoting his return.
- CM Punk vs. William Regal for the Intercontinental championship is next. If Regal gets disqualified, then Punk will win the title. That’s because Regal got himself DQ’d in their title match a week prior. Two minutes into the match, CM Punk “low blows” Regal, meaning Punk is disqualified. On the replay, though, it looks like Punk punched Regal in the stomach. Regal sold it like a low blow though, causing Regal to retain the title.
- Backstage, Cody Rhodes is confronted by Sim Snuka and Manu. They say that they’re coming after Randy Orton and have a third person with them as well. They give Rhodes an ultimatum: you’re with us, or you’re against us.
- After the commercial, Regal is interviewed backstage. He says he’s very satisfied with his win. Stephanie McMahon interrupts him, saying Regal will face Punk next week in a No DQ match for the IC title.
- A highlight package runs next announcing Stone Cold Steve Austin is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. God these are so well done.
- Shawn Michaels and JBL are in the locker room. JBL says Shawn can’t lose with him in his corner. Shawn says he doesn’t need him to win. Commercial break.
- Another hype video for Vince McMahon’s return airs.
- They show a live shot outside of the building, where there’s a blizzard happening. Seems smart to have a show during that!
- Mike Knox vs. Rey Mysterio is announced for next week.
- Kane vs. Randy Orton is next. Cody Rhodes is ringside for Orton. This match also stems from that Kelly Kelly feud, which hopefully is done after this match. Kane dominates the first few minutes before the commercial break. Orton takes control after the break. Kane jumps off the top rope, but Orton hits a dropkick on him. Orton goes for the pin and gets the win, but it definitely looks like Kane got his shoulder up before the 3-count. Botch, anyone??? Nice little match before the weird ending though.
- Sim Snuka and Manu come out and they bring Ted Dibiase Jr. with them. They surround Orton in the ring, as does Rhodes. Shockingly, DiBiase, Rhodes and Orton attack Snuka and Manu. The beatdown ends with Rhodes hitting the “Cross Rhodes” on Snuka and DiBiase hitting a variation of his finisher on Manu. This is the official beginning of the group Legacy. A surprising formation of a new group in WWE.
- We replay the start of the show where Chris Jericho was fired.
- Todd Grisham interviews John Cena backstage. Cena talks about how the odds are against him at the royal rumble. He then knows how he’s going to have to face “Mr. WrestleMania” tonight.
- Beth Phoenix and Jillian vs. Kelly Kelly and Melina is next. During Melina’s entrance, though, she is attacked by Rosa Mendes, who was dressed up as a paparazzi member. This allows Jillian and Phoenix to attack Melina (as well as Kelly Kelly) in the aisle way. So, no match actually happens.
- A third Vince McMahon return hype video airs after the commercial break.
- Backstage, Orton congratulates DiBiase and Rhodes for joining his group. They’re all going to be in the royal rumble match, which Orton reminds them that there can only be one winner.
- A bunch of superstars are lined up outside Stephanie McMahon’s office trying to get a spot in the royal rumble match. Santino is shown leaving the office and celebrating getting a spot. Jamie Noble, Goldust, Dolph Ziggler and Cryme Tyme were all lined up. Santino gave a very witty “see you there, Home Jesus” line, which was hilarious.
- Main event time! Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena. The two handshake each other as we go to commercial. The match doesn’t start until after the break. Cena controls the earlier parts of the match before Michaels takes control with a figure four leg lock on Cena. The champ gets out of it and starts to build some momentum. Michaels reverses that and puts on a crossface submission move on Cena. Cena forces a rope break as we go to commercial break. Out of the break, Cena is in control. Cena has a bear hug on Michaels, but Shawn breaks out of it. Cena puts it on again, but once again Michaels escapes. An awesome back and forth match ensue. Michaels counters the AA with a DDT at one point for a near-fall. Michaels goes for Sweet Chin Music, but Cena ducks and hits the AA. Michaels kicks out though. Michaels then connects with SCM, but Cena kicks out. The crowd is white hot at this point. Cena puts the STF on Michaels, but Shawn makes it to the ropes (with maybe some help from JBL? It’s not sure). Michaels then hits another Sweet Chin Music and pins Cena for the win. A very good match between two of the best in the game. Michaels immediately heads to the backstage area, leaving JBL to stand over Cena in the ring.
ANALYSIS: A nice bounce-back episode following an okay first Raw of 2009. Michaels-Cena was the highlight, putting on a near-30-minute match to cap the show. The formation of Legacy was also really well done, giving this show two strong moments. The Vince McMahon hype videos were a little too much, but overall, this was a fine show.
NOSTALGIA FROM 2009 SHOW: None really this week. The Stone Cold HOF video, though, was magnificent. Seeing an intro video for the show was also fantastic.
Jan. 14, 2019 Raw in Memphis, TN
- Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar; No. 1 contender: Braun Strowman
- Intercontinental Champion: Dean Ambrose; No. 1 contenders: Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley
- Raw Tag Team Champions: Bobby Roode and Chad Gable; No. 1 contender: TBD
- Raw Women’s Champion: Ronda Rousey; No. 1 contender: Sasha Banks
- Braun Strowman starts the show, saying he’s going to win the Universal title and Brock Lesnar is going to “get these hands.” Barron Corbin interrupts, talks some trash on Strowman and then says he’s going to win the royal rumble and go to the main event of WrestleMania. Strowman chases after Corbin into the backstage area.
- We cut to Elias next, singing that he knows where Corbin went. Strowman listens to him and goes to find Corbin in a limo. Braun rips the door off the limo as Corbin runs away. Vince McMahon then appears as it’s revealed Braun just destroyed Vince’s limo. Commercial break.
- Back from commercial, Vince fines Braun $100,000 for damaging the limo. Braun runs his mouth to Vince, so McMahon says he’s out of the title match at the Royal Rumble. Braun proceeds to flip over the limo, because why the hell not.
- Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax and Tamina is our first match of the evening. Commercial break before the match can even start though.
- Braun Strowman is shown being escorted out of the building, while Corbin is laughing at him. We then go back into the ring, where the tag match actually begins. Banks and Jax start it, with Ronda getting a quick tag and teasing putting the armbar on Tamina. We go to another commercial break. Out of it, Jax is in control of Banks. (Lots of advertisements for the movie “Glass” in this match, FWIW). Sasha puts the Bank Statement on Tamina for the win. A quick finish.
- Charly Caruso interviews Ronda and Sasha afterwards. It’s a very good exchange between the two building up an actual feud between the two. Sasha hints at a full heel turn here, while Ronda is trying to save their friendship. Big fan of “bad guy” Sasha. Could get used to that.
- Back from commercial, and Bayley and Natalya are separating Banks and Rousey. This leads to Bayley and Natalya having a squabble. The Riott Squad then appears challenging Natalya and Bayley in a 6-woman match, so long as they find a partner.
- The Lucha House Party vs. the Revival for the 182675th time is next (stats unofficial). It’s not a lucha house rules match at least, thank god. During the match, we go to the backstage area where a host of superstars – Apollo Crews, Curt Hawkins, EC3 (!!!), the B-Team and Heath Slater and Rhyno – are all lining up outside of Mr. McMahon’s office to face Brock Lesnar for the universal title. Meanwhile we cut back and the revival beat the lucha house party. Dawson pins Gran Metalik for the win. Nothing too exciting given half the match featured backstage interviews.
- Vince McMahon is going to make his way to the ring as we enter the commercial break.
- McMahon comes to the ring out of the break. Before he starts speaking, John Cena’s music hits. Cena says he has stepped up for Vince in the past and wants Vince to give him a chance against Lesnar. “I won’t let you down” Cena says. He says he can beat Brock because he has “RUTHLESS! AGGRESSION!” Drew McIntyre then interrupts Cena. He says that this is what ruthless aggression looks like, not Cena. He tells McMahon that his time is now. He says Cena can leave now. Corbin then comes out again. He wants a universal title match.
- Finn Balor then comes out as this endless cycle continues. He mentions he’s the only person that’s been Universal Champion. Vince says he isn’t sure Balor can beat Brock though. Balor says Vince has never believed in him, but the fans do. Chaos ensues, and McIntyre ends up standing strong with two Claiborne kicks to Balor and Cena. McMahon announces a fatal four way between the four where the winner will face Lesnar at the royal rumble.
- Backstage after the commercial break, Jinder Mahal stops Vince McMahon and asks for a chance to get into the fatal four-way match. Vince allows him to choose one of the four to wrestle later in the night, so it’ll be Mahal vs. Balor with the winner going to the fatal four way.
- Bayley and Natalya pick a debuting Nikki Cross to face the Riott Squad. Cross does all her whacky stuff to start the match, including trapping Ruby Riott in the ring apron. Out of commercial, the Riott Squad are in control. Standard six women tag team match action going on here. Cross gets a hot tag and she goes crazy. Cross hits a top rope neck breaker on Liv Morgan, followed up by a big elbow from Bayley for the win. Decent match, Cross looked good, would’ve been better if she got the pin though.
- NOTE: Michael Cole announced before the match that the five NXT call ups, including Cross, will wrestle on both Raw and SmackDown Live before being assigned a specific brand. So, this could be a one-off for Cross on Raw.
- Balor vs. Mahal is coming up after the commercial break. They show Balor walking to the ring backstage, and in the background is Lacey Evans talking to other women on the Raw roster.
- Before Mahal and Balor get going, Dean Ambrose cuts a promo saying it isn’t fair he has to defend his Intercontinental title in a triple threat match against Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley later in the night.
- As Balor enters the ring, one of the Singh brothers attacks Balor. Mahal then beats up on Balor as the match officially gets going. We go to commercial with Mahal in control. Mahal is still in control when we come back. Balor starts mounting a comeback after taking an elongated beatdown. Balor hits the Coup de Grace to win the match. A “gusty” win for Balor to stay in the fatal four way later in the evening. Playing up the underdog role well for Balor.
- The IC title match is next after the commercial break. Rollins cuts a promo saying he’s going to take back the IC title. Ambrose and Lashley work together early to take out Rollins. Lashley ends up taking out both Rollins and Ambrose on the floor as we cut to break. Lashley is in control of Rollins as we get back from commercial. Rollins and Ambrose end up working together to take out Lashley, hitting Lashley with the steps before focusing on each other in the ring. Some really good exchanges in the match with a couple near-falls gets the match really going. A “this is awesome” chant breaks out from the crowd. Lashley spears Ambrose and pins Dean to win the intercontinental Championship. Wow. A genuine surprise winner. A very solid match with a shock ending. Good stuff all around.
- “A moment of Bliss” with special guest Paul Heyman is up after the commercial break. Alexa Bliss introduces the new WWE women’s tag team titles, which will be crowned at the Elimination Chamber PPV in five weeks in an elimination chamber match. Bliss’ guest, Paul Heyman, then comes out. He starts running through the four guys in the fatal four way later tonight and basically says none of them have a chance to beat Brock Lesnar. A wild Otis Dozovic shows up, and his teammate Tucker Knight has to come out and reel him in. The segment ends with that, and we go to commercial with Mike Rome announcing the fatal four way is next. That was…odd. The only man Heyman didn’t talk about before being interrupted was Balor, FWIW.
- Main event time! Cena vs. Balor vs. Corbin vs. McIntyre, winner faces Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. McIntyre ends up taking control as we enter the first commercial break of the actual wrestling (there was a commercial after all the entrances). Cena hits Balor with an AA off the top rope, Corbin throws Cena out of the ring and almost gets the pin on Balor, but Balor kicks out. Corbin then attacks McIntyre and Balor with a steel chair. He tries to attack Cena, but Cena avoids it. Chaos ensues, culminating with Balor hitting the Coup de Grace on Cena for the pin and the win. It’ll be Finn Balor vs. Brock Lesnar at the rumble. Solid match, awesome result.
ANALYSIS: A solid show, wrestling wise, but everything else seemed thrown together. Strowman losing his title match at the Rumble feels like a knee-jerk reaction to the poor segment last week. I’m okay with Balor being in the match now, but I fear he’s going to be jobbed badly. The use of the NXT callups was strange as well. I liked seeing Cross wrestle, but she didn’t get the pin. Evans and EC3 didn’t even speak. And the Dozovic/Knight stuff, while hilarious, was also very strange. Also, and I can’t say this enough, the excessive advertising of “Glass” infuriated me and will be what I remember this Raw mostly for.
THE VERDICT: Raw 2009 wins week two. It was just a much cleaner show than the 2019 one. It also felt like a “road to WrestleMania” show, which week one from 2009 lacked. While 2019 had some redeeming qualities (IC title match, Balor becoming number one contender), it all felt a little too thrown together for me. It felt like a panicked Raw, where 2009 felt very in-control.
SCORE: 2019 Raw 1, 2009 Raw 1