I think it’s safe to say that my beloved United Kingdom is one of WWE’s biggest markets, and has been for over 20 years. Twice a year Vince McMahon and his crew pack up their belongings and bring their travelling road show to this side of the pond, playing to sell-out crowds.
Now we’re going to take a look at their visit in the run-up to last year’s Survivor Series in the first of a three part mini-series looking at WWE Live in the UK November 2012. This first part sees us taking a look at their flagship show, Raw.
Unlike my regular reviews we’re going to break this down into categories, beginning with:
Match #1 featured six man action as Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara and R-Truth faced United States Champion Antonio Cesaro and the Prime Time Players, Darren Young and Titus O’Neil.
It was a pretty decent opener. Team Mex-Truth pulled off some good moves at the beginning, but the tide turned when Cesaro stopped Mysterio taking out Young with the 619. The next few minutes saw Cesaro and the PTP using him for target practice until he managed to his corner for the hot tag to Truth.
Little Jimmy’s best mate proceeded to clean house as the bodies began to fly, and after Cara took Cesaro down with a drop toehold into the ropes Mysterio finally connected with the 619, with Truth sealing the deal by face planting the champion for the pin.
Match #2 saw Tag champ Daniel Bryan taking on Cody Rhodes. Both men had their respective partners in their corners.
This was a very quick encounter, with both guys pulling off a few moves with a brief brawl between Kane and Damian Sandow thrown in. Bryan took Sandow out with a suicide dive before Rhodes quickly connected with his Disaster Kick. He then pushed his man back into the ring for the Cross Rhodes and the pin.
Match #3 came about as a result of match #2 when Rhodes volunteered Sandow to take on Kane. It was a match that our intellectual saviour was somewhat reluctant to take.
Kane put in a dominating performance here. Sandow was unable to get out of the blocks. He also didn’t get much help from his partner as a brief brawl between Bryan and Rhodes saw both of them banished from ringside by the referee. A few moments later Kane took Sandow down with a choke slam for the winning pin.
Match #4 saw Sheamus taking on the Miz.
With World Champion the Big Show watching on from the commentary desk these two put on a very enjoyable back and forth encounter. It began with Sheamus taking control early on as he used his power advantage to good effect, but it wasn’t long before Miz’s cunning saw him take control of the proceedings, especially when the Irishman allowed himself to be momentary distracted by his rival.
At one point Miz looked like he was going to take the win when he went for the Skull Crushing Finale. Sheamus managed to fight out of that attempt, and a few moments and a Brogue Kick later Sheamus had the win before a brief psyche-out with his Survivor Series opponent.
Match #5 saw Divas Champion Eve Torres and Aksana taking on Layla and Kaitlyn.
This was another short encounter. Aksana, whose performance wasn’t really that good, helped Eve as they used Layla as a punching bag until she managed to make the tag to Kaitlyn. A brief all hell moment followed before Kaitlyn took the champ down with a reverse DDT for the winning pin.
Match #6 saw Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston going up against Alberto Del Rio, accompanied by Ricardo Rodriguez, in a non-title affair.
I really enjoyed this one. Once again Kingston looked impressive with his high-flying offence, with ADR grounding him with a body lock on the mat before he started to prepare for the cross arm breaker. The champ then made a brief comeback until Del Rio looked to apply his submission hold.
It never happened. Del Rio was distracted when the music of his rival Randy Orton played. Kingston quickly seized on this opportunity and rolled Del Rio up for the pin.
Afterwards as Del Rio cursed his luck Orton came up from behind and took him down with an RKO.
Match #7 featured further tag action as Santino Marella and Zack Ryder faced Primo and Epico, accompanied by Rosa Mendes.
Another short and sweet one saw Marella mixing sound wrestling with comedy before Ryder took a few minutes of punishment, with the Colon cousins looking quite impressive. Ryder soon got back to his corner for the hot tag so Marella could take Epico out with the Cobra for the pin.
Match #8 saw Brodus Clay, accompanied by whatever the funk they’re called, taking on babyface for the night Wade Barrett.
The only people cheering for Clay in this one were his dancers as Barrett received a massive pop from the fans. As for the match Clay took his man down with some power moves before Barrett came back with a couple of wear down holds.
As the dancers covered their ears Clay tried to recover until Barrett sealed the win after his Souvenir Elbow.
Match #9 saw Heath Slater, accompanied by his 3MB buddy Jinder Mahal, going up against Jey Uso, accompanied by his brother Jimmy.
This was another brief encounter that featured plenty of crisp action as both guys gave a good account of themselves. There isn’t really much more to write about here, apart from Slater taking the win with a jumping DDT. Surprisingly there was no brawl at ringside between the supporters.
Match #10, the main event, saw WWE Champion C.M. Punk, accompanied by Paul Heyman, and Dolph Ziggler facing John Cena and Ryback.
This one wasn’t too bad. Punk and Ziggler looked quite good as a unit when they used Cena as their human target. Cena took quite a lot of punishment in what was actually his first match in nearly two months.
Despite taking a pasting Cena managed to avoid Ziggler’s top rope dropkick so he could get the hot tag to the big man. Ryback came in, cleaned house, and promptly took Punk down with the Shell Shock for the winning pin.
There was some nice work with the skits here, beginning right at the start of the show with the start of the Miz’s babyface turn when he quit Team Punk’s Survivor Series team. That particular event changed a great deal later when Vince McMahon convinced Vickie Guerrero to pull Punk out of that match so he could defend his title against Cena and Ryback.
Speaking of our esteemed Managing Supervisor she continued her somewhat shady investigation into the apparent affair between Cena and former General Manager A.J. Lee, while rogue referee Brad Maddox, the man who screwed Ryback out of the title at Hell in a Cell, came all the way to England to explain his actions before he challenged the big man to a match the following week. McMahon responded by offering Maddox a million dollar contract if he won that encounter.
It’s a good one, with Randy Savage defending the WWF title against the Ultimate Warrior at Summerslam ‘92, held at the old Wembley Stadium. It’s edited in a way so it looks like it was the main event, although we all know that the real main event as the Bret Hart/Davey Boy Smith classic.
In conclusion - well, part one of this review is over, and regular readers will know that it’s been a while since I’ve watched WWE’s weekly shows on a regular basis, so as far as this particular edition of Raw goes it wasn’t too bad. The segments were well played out, but for me the matches were the best thing about this show, as they should be. As for my match of the night the no-prize honour goes to the Sheamus/Miz encounter.
So while this edition of Raw gets the thumbs up, you’ll have to wait a little for my overall conclusion. As the old saying goes…..to be continued…..
With thanks to Fremantle Media and Fetch Publicity for supplying a copy of this release. WWE Live in the UK - November 2012 is available to buy online at www.wwedvd.co.uk.