Wade Barrett Interrupted "Mean" Gene Okerlund's Interview with "Cowboy" Bob Orton; John Cena Challenged The Miz
It had been a while since Bob Orton had cut a promo on WWE TV, let alone at a time when everything is so scripted, but he did well with the material he had to work with and Barrett served as a nice foil for him, hyping that Sunday's huge WWE Championship main event between Randy Orton and Cena. Speaking of Cena, he challenged Miz to a match later in the night to ensure Miz didn't cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase before Survivor Series. All in all, this was a solid segment and it was cool that the interview took place at the top of the stage as opposed to in the ring per usual.
Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler def. Mark HEnry (Non-title)
Perhaps the most notable thing about his match was that Henry came out to his "Sexual Chocolate" theme song, which got a good chuckle out of me. The match itself was exactly what you'd expect with Ziggler doing what he could to get a decent match out of Henry. As Intercontinental Champion, Ziggler shouldn't have been eating defeat when he didn't need to, so I was glad he went over Henry in decisive fashion here.
WWE Tag Team Champions The Nexus def. The Hart Dynasty (Non-title)
Tyson Kidd and David Hart Smith had been teasing tension for months and this match marked the breaking point with Kidd officially turning on Smith at the end. The crowd hardly reacted to it because they hadn't meant anything in so long, and the split didn't do much for either guy (in fact, Smith was released less than a year later). Everything else was a total afterthought, but at least the tag team champs won for a change.
Ezekiel Jackson def. The BRooklyn Brawler
Brawler issued an open challenge to anyone on the active roster, an invitation accepted by Jackson. On paper, this match had all the makings to be a complete disaster, but thankfully, it was kept short and sweet. Jackson hit a few of his signature spots and it was over in a matter of a minute. WWE was trying to get Jackson over as a babyface, and when that didn't work, they plucked him from Raw and put him back on SmackDown with the debuting Corre at the onset of 2011.
John Cena def. Alex Riley
Right before the bout began, Miz had mentioned that the Anonymous Raw General Manager had never technically sanctioned the match between him and Cena, so Riley served as his replacement instead. One interesting line Miz threw in his promo was that if Cena wanted to face him, he could at WrestleMania for the WWE Championship after he cashed in his contract. Officials had to know that far in advance that was what the 'Mania main event would be because that's what wound up happening. At any rate, Cena beat Riley in what was nothing more than a standard squash.
Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov def. The Usos in a WWE Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
Kozlov and Nikolai Volkoff singing the Soviet Union anthem was something I never knew I wanted until I saw them do it before this match. The Iron Sheik was there as well, going off on Hulk Hogan as he's known to do. The crowd couldn't have cared less about The Usos when they first started out, but having "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka in their corner was a nice touch. In case you're wondering, Marella and Kozlov vs. The Nexus at Survivor Series was total throwaway.
Kofi Kingston def. David Otunga
Otunga was originally planning on facing R-Truth before the GM switched it up. This wasn't any better than that would have been because Otunga was downright deplorable in the ring, but if nothing else, Kingston tried his best to carry him to a competent contest. The only redeeming thing about this was George "The Animal" Steele randomly coming out and eating the padding on a turnbuckle post with his green tongue. That was awesome.
Wade Barrett def. R-Truth
Truth seemed to be the voice of reason in the ongoing angle with Cena, Orton and Barrett, but it amounted to nothing in the end (he didn't turn heel until the following spring). I liked that this was Barrett's chance to prove he could win matches on his own without help from The Nexus, and he did beat Truth by himself here, but as a match, this was dull because their styles didn't gel well together at all.
Alberto Del Rio def. Sgt. Slaughter
Yes, Slaughter actually wrestled a match despite being well past his prime, though he didn't do much except lock in his patented Cobra Clutch submission hold. Del Rio did most of the work and won with an enziguri in the turnbuckle. Before he could inflict more damage on Slaughter afterward, MVP made the save, and quite honestly, I forgot he was even still with the company by this point. I'm pretty sure he was gone no more than a month later.
Mae Young def. Unified Divas Champions LayCool in a 2-on-1 Handicap Falls Count Anywhere Match (Non-title)
I absolutely loved this segment at the time because Young held nothing back in calling LayCool a bunch of "sluts" and "bitches." No joke, that was exactly what she said, and when it aired, it wasn't bleeped out. I laughed my ass off. It is bleeped out on the WWE Network replay, unfortunately. Obviously, this really wasn't a match whatsoever since the Divas roster laid out LayCool and let Young pick up the scraps for the historic victory.
United States Champion Daniel Bryan def. Jack Swagger (Non-title)
Needless to say, this was the best match on the entire episode. It's just sad that most of the match was focused on Michael Cole attempting to take digs at Jim Ross (who returned for the first time in close to a year here) on commentary. Bryan and Swagger gave it a great effort, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed this outing. Swagger was already back to being a midcarder following his pointless world title reign and could been a nice challenger for Bryan's belt, but they never feuded due to being on opposite brands. Nevertheless, Ted DiBiase surfaced afterward and hinted at wanting to vie for the United States Championship.
Piper's Pit with Roddy Piper, John Cena and WWE Champion Randy Orton Descended Into Chaos
Piper was very hit or miss the last few years he appeared on WWE TV, but I thought he was on-point in this segment. He said to Cena that if he was the reason why Barrett won the WWE Championship at Survivor Series, he would be spitting in the face of all the legends who had never won that title, including Piper. Cena and Barrett's mic work was wonderful, and even Orton was at the top of his game by attacking both Cena and Barrett like the excellent anti-hero he was at the time. There was a ton of intrigue heading into that pay-per-view main event and this was a strong go-home show segment to sell viewers on it.
From an in-ring standpoint, the only match that truly delivered was Bryan vs. Swagger, but that wasn't the point of this special edition of Raw. Rather, it was about the legends and each of them got their moment to shine. I really liked that WWE went all out with the "old school" theme and it led to an outstanding episode on the whole with WWE bringing back the concept a few more times in subsequent years. Survivor Series that Sunday was extremely poorly built, but whatever, this was a blast!