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March 23, 2009
– Adam Russell

Rhymes and Misdemeanors

This week's Raw, the penultimate show before WrestleMania 25, was bookended by two intense segments, anomalies within the current
PG-13 rated world of the WWE. Both featured lengthy beatdowns, one of which including male on female violence that was, at times, hard
to watch. These two segments were by far the best things on what was an otherwise disappointing show, the content of which ranged
from mildly distracting to downright insulting.

Whatever came in between though, it was the beginning and the end of this show that will be remembered, and both angles, whatever
their faults, helped to re-invigorate the respective WrestleMania matches that they helped build towards.

The show kicked off in grand style, with 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair in the ring. Flair, after a trademark strut, accepted the challenge that
Chris Jericho had laid down last week to Jimmy Snuka, Ricky Steamboat and Roddy Piper, and announced that he would indeed be in
the corner of the legends. He told Jericho that although he can't compete himself, he will be happy to hold the hands of the legends high
after they shut him up. Flair was interrupted by the voice of Chris Jericho, as video footage appeared on the TitanTron of Snuka, Piper and
Steamboat competing in their glory days. Jericho said that 25 years ago, at the first WrestleMania, those men were in their prime, and
watching them back then he never imagined that he would end up being a bigger star than all three of them. Jericho was then shown
backstage at the arena, making his way towards the ring. He told Flair that he was going to explain just what the legends were signing up
for. He said that this isn't a movie like The Wrestler, and last week, when they attacked Jericho, wasn't the final scene. This is real, he
said, and while Mickey Rourke's movie has given Flair and his ilk the impression that they still matter, the truth is that nobody cares about
them anymore. At this point Jericho entered the arena and made his way into the ring, to a huge 'you suck' chant. Jericho said that the
legends are afraid of being forgotten about, and turning into faceless nobodies like the hypocritical fans (I would love WWE to change the
WWE Universe into the WWE Hypocrites). He threatened a disgusting, disturbing and uncomfortable beatdown at 'mania, and said that
Flair would be at ringside with tears streaming down his face (probably true whatever the outcome of the match), and Rourke would be in
the crowd watching what he caused. The legends, he proclaimed, would then forever be remembered as a group of has-beens who
were euthanized by Chris Jericho.

Flair said that Jericho was wrong, and that the legends refuse to be judged by someone who will never be Hall of Fame material (unlike
Koko B. Ware). He said that they love to be respected for their accomplishments (don't we all), and they love to respect those who respect
them, and respect their accomplishments also (it kinda made sense when Flair said it, honestly). He told Jericho that he will be proud to
stand by his friends as they beat him. Jericho asked Flair if he was finished, and Flair said that he wasn't. Big mistake. He told Jericho
that he is looking forward to finding Mickey Rourke in the crowd, and telling him to stand with the legends and look at this broken body
(which would be Jericho's, as Flair pointed out), and go 'Woooo'. This was too much for Jericho, who cheapshotted the Naitch, and then
busted him open hardway with a series of punches. Flair rolled out of the ring, but Jericho followed, sending him into the announce table.
The beatdown continued on the outside, with Jericho stripping Flair of his shirt and throwing his shoes into the crowd. He then slammed
Flair into the steel steps and laid him out with a video camera, leaving Flair a bloody mess. The final insult though, was when Jericho
took off Flair's watch, which we were led to believe was given to him as a retirement gift by Shawn Michaels, and smashed it on the steel
steps. This beatdown lasted a good five minutes, and garnered incredible heat for Jericho. The only downside is that nobody came to the
aid of Flair- not even a bunch of disposable referees that Jericho could throw around. Even Jerry Lawler, who was stood right by the
action, could only meekly ask Jericho to stop, rather than make an attempt to physically intervene. The King's actions, or lack thereof,
where made even more perplexing when immediately after the attack he called it the most humiliating thing that he has ever seen. He
softened his stance a few seconds later, calling it only the most disgusting and disturbing thing he's seen in his career. Both Michael
Cole and Lawler agreed that there was no excuse for Jericho's actions. Lawler would have more to say on the matter later in the show.

It was match time next, and Jeff Hardy was set to take on another random opponent in an X-Treme Rules match to build to his contest
with Matt Hardy at WrestleMania.

--- X-Treme Rules Match - Jeff Hardy Vs Dolph Ziggler

Ziggler offered his hand to Jeff, but Jeff caught him with a kick to the midsection (why won't anybody shake this guy's hand?), and a flurry
of punches. Dolph came back with a kneelift and a clothesline, and then wasting no time at all, went outside to get a chair. This gave
Hardy time to recover and, after hitting Dolph with a low dropkick, he set the chair up in the corner for some Poetry in Motion. Ziggler
managed to avoid the contact, and hit Jeff over the head with a garbage can that he found under the ring. This got RAW's friendliest
wrestler a two count, and he next decided to try to superplex Jeff onto the can. Jeff reversed it into a front suplex from the second rope,
crushing the garbage can in the process, and then hit a Twist of Fate (which Ziggler took as a swinging neckbreaker) onto the can. Hardy
stopped short of applying a finishing Swanton Bomb on his opponent, instead going back to chair, and hitting Ziggler with a series of
blows. Another Twist of Fate (or swinging neckbreaker) followed, this time on the chair, and a Swanton Bomb later, it was all over after
3'00 of rushed action. Jeff then grabbed a microphone, and told his brother that that wasn't extreme, but what he experiences at
WrestleMania will be. The brothers should really keep this feud away from the mic.

A recap of the finale of last week's SmackDown was next, showing Edge accidentally spearing Vickie Guerrero. We then cut to a video of
John Cena, who was in L.A in anticipation of his appearance on the Tonight Show. He told Vickie that he had made her a get well card,
and what followed made me yearn for another Triple H house invasion, or even a 12 Rounds promo.

As comedic music began to play in the background, Cena read from his card the following poem:

Oh what a night, sounds dirty and botched (huh?), Edge speared Vickie, Big Show just watched

But I hope you're okay, for certain, not me (huh?), not so much for you or Edge, but for your beautiful baby (and which point a graphic
showed meshing pictures of Edge and Vickie)

That's one ugly kid, and I'm putting it mild, but it still beats you and Big Show's secret love child (different picture, same joke)

Edge and Show love you but then again would they even look at you if you weren't the GM

I'm honest, I don't need you, I'll say that, defy it (huh?), unlike your pathetic husband and your 7 foot giant

Thinking of you makes everything go south, run up a fever, even throw up in my mouth

But it's not about you, it's about this which is vital, come WrestleMania I'm taking the title

It's a promise, a statement, a vow and pledge, I'll beat one or the other, Big Show or Edge

WrestleMania won't end well, Vickie, you will shed a tear, because the next night on Raw, the champ will be here

That, apparently, was the best that WWE creative could come up with, and further reduces this whole situation involving the World
Heavyweight title into a bad, incredibly immature, joke. I know that the creative team must be under a lot of pressure leading up to the
biggest show of the year, but this 'poem' sounded like it took about 5 minutes to come up with, and that any idiot could do better. To prove
my point, I will conclude this report in the form of a poem.

A tribute to WrestleMania 21 aired next, in highlight form

The 1st Money In The Bank match went down like a storm

With that in mind, an 8-man tag was up next, Finlay was on the heels team, he must have been vexed.

CM Punk, Kofi Kingston, MVP and Christian Vs Shelton Benjamin, Finlay, Kane and Mark Henry

No time for introductions, although you'd think that they oughta, Shelton started off with Montel Vontavious Porter. MVP beat Benjamin on
SmackDown for the United States belt, but after he missed a big kick, a German suplex he felt. MVP came back with an overhead throw,
and in came Punk with a series of blows. Benjamin hit a jaw japper on last years Money in the Bank winner, and Finlay eagerly took the
tag- I thought he was a saint, not a sinner.. A distraction from the Gold Standard gave Finlay the edge, he took CM down and worked over
his leg. We went to commercial at 1'56, and came back at 5'10, how much had we missed? Kane was in now, wearing down Punk with a
hold, the heels always being in control after the break is getting old. Punk kicked his way out, and a pair of tags later, Christian was trying
to show Benjamin who's greater. A forearm and a monkey flip, but Benjamin landed on his feet, Christian was ready, and Benjamin got
reverse DDT'd. Finlay broke the pin attempt, MVP sent the Irishman to the floor, Kane grabbed him, but he didn't see Kofi soar. A flying
dropkick connected, but Henry muscled out the Jamaican- he's the World's Strongest Man, and there ain't no mistakin'. Next he caught
Punk trying a springboard body block, but MVP was on hand to give him a shock. He took out his legs and he rolled out the ring, a Punk
rolling plancha surely did sting. Just when it looked like MVP was the only man not hurt, Benjamin caught him from out of nowhere with
Pay Dirt. But he forgot about Christian, the legal man, Captain Charisma had a plan. An Unprettier later and the three was counted, 7'10
of offence mounted. There was one man however, who wasn't quite done, the Irishman, Finlay, will feel like he won. With ladder in hand,
and son, Hornswoggle by his side, he gave everyone a taste of steel, and fighting Irish pride. Looking up to the ceiling, his message was
clear, as WrestleMania 25 he's the man to fear.

A promo followed, for Cena's movie, 12 Rounds. I've seen it before, boredom abounds.

Lawler, it seems, has had time to think. The attack on Flair doesn't seem as bad anymore. It was the worst thing he'd seen in his life,
now it's just one of the worst he's seen on Raw.

Next we got a recap of the Triple H/Randy Orton situation from last week, then we cut to Orton, as his thoughts Todd Grisham tried to
seek. He said he isn't a coward, because he doesn't attack people in their homes- he kicked Vince and Shane so hard he could feel the
crack of their bones. He told Triple H to remember with whom he's dealing, and then he made a threat which sounded appealing. The
Game upped the ante, he said, and tonight he'll see him and raise him: "After tonight no-one will call me a coward," says him.

The next match made me scratch my head - why pay for 'mania when we can have this for free instead?

--- Edge Vs The Big Show

So we've seen Edge/Cena, and Cena/Show. And now this. Triple Threat at WrestleMania? So? If we've seen them wrestle so many times
for free, why would we spend our money, just to see all three? Vickie came out with Chavo, pushing her in a wheelchair. Edge tried to talk
to her, but she didn't seem to care. Cena came back on the screen, to send his regards. At least he didn't re-read any of his stupid card.
He told them to beat the holy hell out of each other, and to fight like men, not worry about who is who's lover. Everyone is laughing at
them, he went on to say, but now is their chance to step up to the plate. Edge started off by using his quickness, but Show gained control
by using his thickness. A clothesline took Edge down, and then Show, like he does, headbutted his own hands- they didn't fool us. Edge
ran for cover, but Show dragged him back into the ring, he shouted to Vickie that her husband doesn't deserve a thing. Back on the
outside, Show slapped Edge on the chest, but the Rated-R Superstar showed why he's one of the best. A low dropkick to the leg put
Edge in contention, a big DDT got the Big Show's attention. The difference in size proved a little too large. A hotshot in the corner put
Show back in charge. To prove a point to Vickie he tied up Edge in the ropes, but Vickie sent Chavo in to reignite Edge's hopes. For no
real reason, as Chavo didn't lay a finger on either one of them the ref decided to no longer linger. He called for the bell, and the match
was a no contest at 3'39, rendering the whole thing a pointless waste of time. Show brushed Chavo aside, Chavo came back with a club,
Edge went for a spear on Show, but it was another flub. He hit Chavo, and then walked into a knock-out punch from the giant, on this
angle getting worse, I'm fairly reliant. I have no interest in seeing this Triple Threat match, no matter how many stipulations they try to
attach.

Highlights aired of JBL becoming the Intercontinental champ, and his WrestleMania opponent came out to get the crowd amped.

--- Rey Mysterio Vs William Regal

Regal got a ride into the arena in JBL's limousine, and the champ greeted the commentators as the King and the Queen. Rey baffled
Regal with a monkey flip and enzuigiri kick. Regal escaped the ring, and Rey fell victim to the trick. With Mysterio distracted by JBL at the
table, Regal hit him from behind, and then, to prove that he's able, he hit him from in front and tossed him back in the ring, where a full
nelson was applied by the reigning king. Rey managed to fight out with a series of shots with his fists that caused Regal to drop onto the
ropes in prime position for the 619, then Rey completed his mission by scaling the ropes and coming down with a splash, and at 2'51 it
was the end of the match. JBL was the first to applaud the diminutive Rey, but I guess Mysterio thought he was being blasé about the
challenge that he poses to the belt, so he delivered a dropkick, which JBL's face surely felt. Like most 'mania matches this year, we've
seen this one before. I only wish Regal wasn't getting ignored!

The lights dimmed next, and The Undertaker appeared- a sight that 16 previous WrestleMania opponents feared. He told Shawn that his
brash behavior has taken their feud to a new dimension, and that his ability to decipher reality has been impaired by his obsession with
being Mr. WrestleMania and ending the streak. Shawn was right, he said, that he's never been beat in a one on one match with him but
the last time they met, Shawn was out for five years, or did he forget? HBK appeared on the big screen, and he was surrounded by the
dead in a graveyard as he talked about staying one step ahead. He ran through the list of the Phenom's 16 previous opponents, as
footage aired of The Phenom's WrestleMania moments. Shawn said a fresh grave is dug but it isn't for him- it's for the streak, and then
he kicked a tombstone in. He buried the tombstone and said it's the streak that, at WrestleMania, will rest in peace. The Undertaker was
furious; this segment was well done. The build-up as a whole to this match has been fun.

Speaking of fun, Santino was next on the mic, and said he'll win the Diva Battle Royale if he likes. He talked to Vickie he said, and if he
can win his next match, he'll be in the Battle Royale, though there is a catch. He's got to win with one arm tied behind his back, and if
there's failure, he won't get a chance to be Miss WrestleMania.

--- Santino Marella Vs Mickie James

Santino charged at Mickie, but she moved out the way and took out his legs, and then started to play. She tied the other arm behind his
back, but Santino still thought he could prevail, for no other reason than she's a woman and he is a male. He wept out her legs, and then
used his head, and tried to roll over her- "stay still," he said. But Mickie didn't comply and hit a low dropkick for 2. Santino came back with
a knee, but he doesn't have a clue. He tried to mount the turnbuckle with no hands, which isn't one of his cleverest plans. Mickie
recovered which brought Beth into the fray, but she accidentally knocked Santino out of the way. One Mick Kick later, and Santino was
beat. 2'20 and the match was complete. This was good comedy, especially when Santino rolled. I'll say it again; Santino is gold.

Another 12 Rounds promo was next, need I say more? These things have me heading for the door.

When we returned the camera was on The King, as he talked about what Jericho did earlier in the ring. He said that he's calling Jericho
out for next week- why is it that all he could do earlier was speak? If he was offended by what he saw, I don't know why he would wait for
next week's Raw. Still, I'm interested to see what they do- another legend beatdown, or some kind of coup?

Main event time next, and if Edge/Show was dumb, putting Triple H and Orton in a match together leaved me stumped.

--- Triple H Vs Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase

As it turned out the match never got underway, Orton and DiBiase were determined to make Hunter pay. They attacked the Game, but he
put up a fight- even against ten men HHH has to make the match seem tight. Outside the ring, the Game controlled the stable, sending
Ted into the steps and Randy into the table. His fatal mistake was going under the ring, where Cody Rhodes was waiting, not a
sledgehammer, for the King of Kings. Rhodes had some handcuffs, and now it made sense. For Legacy it was time for recompense.
Cuffed to the ropes, The Game was in trouble, but Orton grabbed the mic and made it double. He said only one person can save him,
and she better hurry, then he grabbed a sledgehammer as Hunter tried to mount a flurry. Out came Stephanie to try to rescue her man,
but this was all part of Orton's master plan. He coaxed Steph onto the apron, and then grabbing her head he hit a hangman's DDT and
left her for dead. Triple H wailed, tried to grab her but missed her- it got worse, Randy Orton knelt over and kissed her. While literally
salivating, Orton finished the beating by getting Triple H's head and the hammer together for a meeting. The show went off the air with
Orton sadistic, and twisted, and the Game going ballistic. The segment was intense, and sometimes hard to view, but it might have
gained WrestleMania a buy rate or two.

MVP of the night- Jericho was great, Flair was great, and credit to Stephanie for taking the bump she did, but my MVP of the night has to
be Randy Orton. The glassy, emotionless eyes, the saliva dripping from the mouth, the slithery body language- everything that makes
him such a thoroughly unlikable personality was on display here. It made my skin crawl, and made me interested in his WrestleMania
match again.

Line of the night- A few top contenders here (none of which coming from the Cena get well card, you'll be surprised to hear). The winner
has to be Santino Marella for proclaiming "I have an idea", before lying down and attempting to roll over Mickie James. His "stay still"
when the plan failed was priceless too.