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March 30, 2009
â€“ Adam Russell
This was the go home Raw before WrestleMania, the biggest event on the wrestling, or sports entertainment, calendar. This was the last
chance to try to sell the pay-per-view to those who havenâ€™t decided whether to buy it or not. This was the last chance to breathe some
new life into dying feuds, or to put the exclamation marks on others. Of course, the hard sell will continue on ECW and SmackDown later
this week but, with Raw being the highest-rated of WWEâ€™s three shows, this was a last chance to reach many people who donâ€™t
tune in to the other programming. The build-up to this yearâ€™s WrestleMania has, on the whole, been poor- thereâ€™s no intrigue to
the event, all of the matches seem rehashed (because most of them all), and the booking philosophy seems to have been â€˜hereâ€™s
a match for free- if you like it, maybe youâ€™ll pay $60 to see it again at WrestleManiaâ€™. This go home Raw was more of the same.
We started with a shot of a hearse in the parking lot, as we were promised a funeral for Mr. WrestleMania later in the night.
The action in the arena in Dallas started straight away, as we were given an 18 diva tag team match to promote the Miss WrestleMania
(surely thatâ€™s Shawn Michaelsâ€™ daughter) match at â€˜mania.
--- Melina, Alicia Fox, Brie Bella, Eve, Tiffany, Kelly Kelly, Gail Kim, Maria and Mickie James Vs Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Jillian Hall, Nikki
Bella, Katie Lea Burchill, Layla, Maryse, Michelle McCool and Rosa Mendes
The match started with Mickie and Jillian in the ring, with the latter working the arm of James, but then missing a leg drop, which allowed
Mickie to hit a Thesz Press, and tag in Tiffany. Tiffany, making her televised in-ring debut here, hooked an armbar on Jillian, who escaped
and tagged in Beth. Beth dominated Tiffany, hitting a flapjack, before Katie Lea tagged herself into the match. She was greeted by a small
package from Tiffany for the victory at 1â€™41. Yes, not only did this 18 diva tag match last less than 2 minutes, but only 5 of the
combatants got any ring time. All became clear next as Santino Marella made his way out in a bathrobe, saying that with Vickie stopping
his attempt to get into the battle royal at WrestleMania, he went over her head to WWE President Jack Tunney. Santino then joked that
Tunney was actually dead (nice), before saying that heâ€™s a pioneer, and is more dominant than all the divas, even Beth. He told them
that he was going to perform a swimsuit exhibition, and afterwards the divas can go to a kitchen and make him a calzone. Santino then
took of his robe to reveal what he called a â€˜mankiniâ€™, and danced around the ring until all of the divas attacked him and threw him
out of the ring. Melinaâ€™s music (why not?) then hit, and Santino escaped up the ramp with Beth and Rosa, having been embarrassed
We were next shown a recap of Randy Ortonâ€™s attack on Triple H and Stephanie McMahon last week, and were told that later on
tonight, Orton would make a WrestleMania address. Sounds riveting.
More wrestling action next as, following a Raw Rewind showing Chris Jerichoâ€™s beatdown of Ric Flair last week, Jerry Lawler took to
the ring for his match with the dastardly Jericho.
--- Chris Jericho Vs Jerry â€˜The Kingâ€™ Lawler
Before the match began, Michael Cole made pains to explain to us that at WrestleMania, Jericho must beat all three of the legends
individually, whereas they only need to beat him once. It wasnâ€™t completely clear, but I suppose this to mean that a pin or submission
over one of the legends eliminates them from the match, and that Jericho must eliminate all three to win. Anyway, the match started with
the two competitors shoving each other, before Lawler rocked Jericho with a series of punches, sending him back into the corner. The
referee came in to break the two of them up, but Jericho struck with a cheap shot, and then went on the offensive with some kicks and
elbows, and then choked Lawler on the bottom rope as he told him he was just like the other legends. Jericho went up to the second
rope, but Lawler caught him coming off with a punch to the midsection, and then pulled down his strap much to the delight of Cole, who
called it, yes, vintage King Lawler. Lawler snap-mared Jericho over and delivered a series of blows to his head as Jericho begged off.
This was just a ruse though, as the former Y2J caught Lawler in the Walls of Jericho, and the former tapped like his life depended on it
after a poor, but mercifully short, 3â€™25 match. That Lawler put over Jericho was a given, but that he slumped to defeat so meekly, after
all the bravado of last week, was a little disappointing. Not that Iâ€™d advocate a competitive match, but this didnâ€™t really do anything
for Jericho, or the build-up to the match at WrestleMania. There were more post-match shenanigans, as Lawler delivered a big punch to
Jericho, who seemed intent on continue the beating. Jericho decided at that point to do his fighting on the mic, saying that at
WrestleMania it wonâ€™t be a question of how he beats the legends, but of how badly. He then reminds the crowd that it wasnâ€™t he
who started all this; it was Mickey Rourke making a challenge that he couldnâ€™t back up. He finished by saying that it will be his name
that will come to be synonymous with the word legend.
It was 12 Rounds trailer time next, followed by a video showing The Big Show knocking out both Edge and John Cena in recent weeks.
Todd Grisham was backstage with Cena, but before the interview could begin, Edge came in, and told Cena that he has no chance at
WrestleMania, although it doesnâ€™t have to be that way. He said that the Big Show can pick them both off at will, but if they put aside
their differences they can take him out. Cena responded that though that was intelligent and logical he neither trusts nor likes Edge, and
would prefer to lose on his own than win with his help. He closed by saying that as it turns out he will win the title at WrestleMania, which
left Edge visibly annoyed.
Elsewhere backstage, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase were ready to tell us more about Randy Ortonâ€™s WrestleMania address. So is
this Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiaseâ€™s Randy Orton WrestleMania Address? Ted said that Randy has got something planned that will
effect everyone, and that after WrestleMania everything you know about the WWE will change.
We then cut to a casket backstage, which was opened to reveal Shawn Michaels. There was no audio for this, so after the break we got a
reply, to find out that Shawn said â€˜you expecting someone else?â€™ Shawn looked more than a little homoerotic lying in the casket- I
wonder if he has another pay-per-view audience in mindâ€¦
Back in the arena, Jerry Lawler ran back out to help call the next match, which was amazingly to pit two WrestleMania opponents against
each other six days before the show.
--- JBL Vs Rey Mysterio
This was admittedly a non-title match (JBL asked for the match to get a psychological edge over Rey, he told us before the match
started), but I still cannot fathom what value this could possibly have. JBL started by powering Rey back into the corner, and hitting him
with a punch and a kick. Rey came back by hitting a head scissors, leaving JBL primed for a 619. However, JBL caught Rey coming off
the ropes with a big shoulder block, and then countered his springboard cross body block attempt with a big boot, as we went to the
break at 1â€™40. We came back at 4â€™23 with JBL delivering a fallaway slam to his challenger, which sent Rey rolling out of the ring.
JBL tossed him back in after hitting a boot to the head, but Rey fought back with some punches, a seated senton, and an enzuigiri kick.
JBL was again in position for the 619, but he avoided the contact. However, he left himself in position for the move on the other side of the
ring, and this time Rey didnâ€™t miss, following up with a springboard splash to win the match at 6â€™44. Perhaps this convinced a
few people that Rey might win the title at WrestleMania, and therefore it would be worth spending their money to see it, but the level of
action in the match certainly wasnâ€™t good enough to make anyone want to see more.
A video package was next, highlighting WrestleMania 11, and in particular the Bam Bam Bigelow Vs Lawrence Taylor match. Sad to say
that the video made that match seem a lot more big time than anything on this yearâ€™s card.
--- John Cena Vs The Big Show
WrestleMania main event time (kinda) was next, as the two contenders to Edgeâ€™s World Heavyweight Championship battled it out.
Vickie was shown watching the match in the back, as Michael Cole told us that he has it on good authority that the Big Show actually
weighs 485lbs, not the 441 heâ€™s announced at. Show was quickest out of the blocks here, taking Cena down with punches and
slaps, and then standing on his fallen body. He next targeted the ribs of his opponent, laying into them with more punches, before Cena
came back with some weak-looking punches of his own. Cenaâ€™s comeback was short-lived though- an attempted flying shoulder
block only resulting in sending himself sprawling to the mat. The next chink of light came for Cena when Show missed an avalanche into
the corner, but again Show soon resumed control, sending Cena to the mat with a flapjack. The Worldâ€™s Largest Athlete then went for
an elbowdrop from the second rope, but Cena moved, and this time managed to capitalize on the opportunity by hitting his patented leg
drop from the top rope. He tried to follow up with the STF, but after Show kicked him off, the big man hit a baseball slide on Cena which
sent him to the outside. This signaled a commercial break at 4â€™30, and we came back at 7â€™43 with Cena in a chinlock. Show was
now singling out the back, according to Cole, as we saw footage of Cena being slammed into the steel ringpost and security wall during
the break. Cena managed to get back to his feet and, when Show went for the finish with a chokeslam, he countered with a DDT. Cena
saw the opportunity for victory and again went for the STF, but the Big Show proved to be too big to apply the hold, and he elbowed Cena
off him. Cena managed to duck an attempted knock out punch from Show, and went for the F-U, but Show easily fought it off, and downed
Cena with a choke slam for an incredibly dominating win at 10â€™36. After the match, Edge came into the ring and, after looking at his
two WrestleMania opponents, one standing tall, the other laying beaten on the canvas, he jumped atop Cena and reigned punches down
onto him as The Big Show watched on emotionless.
While critical of the WWEâ€™s decision to give us this match a week before WrestleMania, it has to be said that the match was incredibly
effective in getting over the Big Show as a monster. If the creative team had focused on this task throughout the build-up, instead of giving
us the silly Vickie Guerrero love triangle, this match might prove more appealing.
Next we saw a video recap of Shawn Michaelsâ€™ tribute to the Undertaker from SmackDown, and then were shown the cover star of the
latest issue of Men in Caskets Magazine making his way out to the arena.
Out came the Showstopper, as Jerry â€˜Confuciusâ€™ Lawler told us that â€˜everybody, without exception, is almost always intimidatedâ
€™ by The Undertaker. Shawn got into the ring, made up like a funeral home, complete with casket, told us that he is a man unafraid,
and that the funeral procession is for The Undertaker, not him. He said that after WrestleMania, the streak will cease to exist, and
reminded us that he has never been defeated by the Dead Man. He went through all the things that he has done to The Undertaker in the
build-up to their match, and said that all of it has been done without consequence or retribution. He then opened up the casket, which Iâ
€™m sure many assumed would contain â€˜Taker, to reveal it to be empty, and said that there will never be any retribution. He continued
that he found it insulting that the Phenom doesnâ€™t think he can end the streak, and said that all the WrestleMania moments of the
past 25 years will pale in comparison to Shawn ending the streak. Darkness then fell over the arena, and when the lights came back on it
was The Undertaker standing alone in the ring. â€˜Taker, clearly expecting Shawn to still be there, tore up the set in a rage, and then
considered the possibility that his rival might be inside the casket. He opened the lid, but the vessel was again empty. The Undertaker
had given up, but at that moment Shawn emerged from beneath the table on which the casket lay, and delivered Sweet Chin Music to
him, before DXâ€™ing the hell out of his writhing body.
This was another strong segment between these two, and I like the angle that they have taken with this. Shawn constantly outsmarting â
€˜Taker has proven far more interesting than the usual back and forth of mind games that one might usually get in this situation. Itâ€™s
added an edge to the match, and made it, for me at least, the most eagerly anticipated on the card. I hope that The Undertaker doesnâ
€™t get his hands on Shawn on SmackDown- after this build-up, they should save it for WrestleMania.
After a Hall of Fame preview, focusing on Steve Austin, and a run down of the card for WrestleMania, we saw Cody Rhodes and Ted
DiBiase talking to some security guards in the back. An 8-man battle royal featuring the Money in the Bank contestants was next, and as
they were being introduced we got a look at Variety magazineâ€™s feature on WrestleMania, and a promotional package for the Hardy Vs
--- Battle royal - Kane, CM Punk, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Mark Henry, Finlay, Christian and Kofi Kingston
The match started with all eight man brawling, with Kane nearly eliminating Punk, and Henry nearly taking out Finlay. Finlayâ€™s escape
was only a brief reprieve as the Worldâ€™s Strongest Man gorilla slammed him out of the match after 42 seconds. Henry then
inexplicably clambered onto the ropes to threaten Hornswoggle, which is all the opportunity the other competitors needed to eliminate
him after 51 seconds. Kane came close to taking out both Punk and Christian, whilst MVP and Benjamin brawled. Benjamin tossed the
US Champ over the top rope, but MVP landed on the apron, and suplexed Benjamin over to join him. This gave Kane the chance to knock
them both to the floor, eliminating them at 2â€™02. Kofi, Punk and Christian then went to work on Kane, but Punk surprised Kofi by
eliminating him at 2â€™38. Kane then threw Christian out onto the apron, but he managed to squirm back in, and he and Punk double
teamed Kane, before turning their attentions to each other. Christian thought he had eliminated Punk, but Punk landed on the apron.
Kane then picked up Captain Charisma and threw him over the top rope onto Punk, knocking them both to the ground for the victory in a
token 3â€™38 match. Kane then pulled out a ladder and climbed it in the ring, taking down the Money in the Bank briefcase to a nice pop.
I canâ€™t see him doing the same thing this Sunday in Houston, although this seems like the most open Money in the Bank match yet.
In the back, DiBiase, Rhodes and the security guards waited outside Randy Ortonâ€™s dressing room, and when Orton came out, they
made their way out to the arena (with Orton and Rhodes sporting the new Legacy t-shirts).
After coming back from the break, Orton made his way out alone for his WrestleMania address. Orton started by saying that at the age of
24 he became the youngest world champion in WWE history, and that that was the greatest moment of his life. It was however, he told
us, short-lived, after the next night on RAW his friend and mentor, Triple H turned on him in a fit of jealous rage. We were then shown a
video of the incident, which the crowd ate up. Orton said that Triple H ruined his life, so he made a vow to do the same. He had to wait
though until he found the talent good enough to start a group of his own, until Triple H was more powerful than ever, and until he had
found something that he cares about more than the world title. The plan, he said, started at the Royal Rumble, and we were shown a
video of Orton winning the rumble match, last eliminating Triple H. Orton said that he earned the right to face the Game at WrestleMania
(very prescient of him, seeing as Triple H wasnâ€™t a world champion then), but that that wasnâ€™t enough. He wanted to raise the
stakes, we were told, to systematically destroy Hunter, so he targeted his family- Vince, Shane, and his sweet wife (his words),
Stephanie. A video followed of Ortonâ€™s attacks of the above mentioned, and Orton told us that none of the attacks were the result of
IED. Indeed, he knew what he was doing the entire time, he said.
To this point Ortonâ€™s delivery had been slow and calculated, but he suddenly lost his cool, admonishing the fans at ringside, and
telling them that if they didnâ€™t shut their mouths he was going to get pissed off. This was a nice touch, as sometimes Orton can come
off too emotionless. Getting back to his address, Orton said that he knew Triple H would retaliate against him, but that was a sacrifice he
was willing to make, because he needed the Game to feel confident and let his guard down so that he could carry out the attack of the
previous week. A video then aired of that attack. Orton said that every time the two of them lock up at â€˜mania Hunter is going to see the
man who DDTâ€™d his wife and sealed it with a kiss. He then announced that he talked to Vickie Guerrero and they agreed that if Triple
H is disqualified or counted out at WrestleMania, or if he so much as brings his sledgehammer to ringside with him, he will lose the
WWE Title. After WrestleMania, he continued, every superstar will be lining up to challenge him, or to impress him so that they can stand
by his side. As Orton was talking, we were shown a limousine pulling up in the parking lot. Upon seeing this, Orton called out Rhodes
and DiBiase, and the security, and told Triple H that if he comes out theyâ€™re going to destroy him. When we cut back to the limo, it was
empty, and as Rhodes and DiBiase entered the ring, with a line of four security guards (just four! You knew they were going down)
barricading the aisle, it wasnâ€™t Triple H who came out; it was Vince McMahon, making his first appearance since being punted in the
head by Orton the week before the Royal Rumble. Vince stood atop the ramp, and readied himself for battle, and was soon joined by
Shane, himself making his first appearance since an Orton punt. The two McMahons then looked to the curtain as Triple H made his way
out, and the three of them marched towards the ring. The security guards, of course, were fodder and Legacy jumped out of the ring to
meet them in battle. Vince and Ted paired off (the 60+ year old more than matching the young superstar, of course), Shane took on Cody,
and Hunter and Orton took their brawl back into the ring. We were only given a few seconds of this action, before the show ended, for
once leaving us wanting more.
This was an exciting end to the show, and hopefully they sign off on the lead in to WrestleMania there, and donâ€™t follow up on it on
SmackDown. Another hope of mine is that the focus at WrestleMania isnâ€™t put too heavily on Vince and Shane, although that might be
asking for too much. Seeing the two of them here, going toe to toe with full-time wrestlers with their weak-looking offence, was fine. It was
a brief appearance which made sense, and ignited some interest the week before WrestleMania. A brief appearance at the big show
itself would also be acceptable- even logical. What we donâ€™t need to see is the two of them parading around at ringside, or physically
interjecting themselves into the match.
The show as a while this week was fair at best, the highlights being the two lengthy promos delivered by Michaels and Orton and, more
specifically, the action that followed. You have to think that nothing WWE could do on SmackDown could make either of those two angles
better, whereas nothing could make the Show/Cena/Edge situation worse. Everything else felt a little subdued, but that is more a product
of the shoddy job of building these stories the company has done in previous weeks, than an indictment of this show. The road is nearly
ended - just two more stops. WrestleMania, here we come.
MVP of the night- Orton. The promo was a little long and ponderous, but it was still the best part of the show.
Michael Cole â€˜vintageâ€™ moment of the night- Jerry Lawler pulling his strap down. Well, if anyone in the WWE is vintage, itâ€™s
Line of the night- Santino telling the divas to get into the kitchen and make him a calzone.