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June 29, 2009
– Adam Russell

Vince and Dave + 3

The Donald Trump era lasted all of one week and, as much as some complained about the angle, me included, it has to be said that the
commercial-free Raw scored a big rating. It seems to be that there is a big emphasis on ratings for Raw right now, as every week we get
big shocks, huge matches, and a general hotshotting of angles. It might not be the Monday Night Wars all over again, but the USA
Network does seem pretty keen on beating Jon and Kate +8. Because of this, Raw is anything but a steady ship, although it is perversely
fun trying to guess what lengths the company will go to next to pop a rating; this week’s show was built around a guest host, a talent
trade, and a number one contenders tournament.

The show began with new owner of Raw, Vince McMahon, who said that if Trump was still in charge he’d try to do another
commercial-free show, and refund the fans in attendance. He said that he can’t do a commercial-free show, but he can do the
refund, only he won’t. He then said that before Trump left he made a 15-superstar trade that he has to live with, and apparently he
was also bound for some reason to Trump’s idea of having a guest host every week. With that said, he introduced Batista as the first
host. Batista came out, arm in cast, as Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler practically soiled themselves with excitement. The Animal
announced that he was booking a four-man tournament to find the number one contender to Randy Orton’s WWE championship,
with the semi-final matches pitting MVP against Triple H, and John Cena against The Miz. Orton then came out, with Cody Rhodes and
Ted Dibiase, and told Batista that he shouldn’t have come back, asking him what’s stopping them from tearing him apart right
now. Batista said that if they even look at him the wrong way, he’ll fire them, as Vince McMahon gave him unlimited power. He said
that he is going to make Orton’s life a nightmare, to which Randy responded that it already is after being hit in the head with a
sledgehammer at The Bash the previous night. Batista told him not to worry because he isn’t going to make him defend his belt, but
he should worry about Trump’s trade, because he will be facing three of Raw’s five new wrestlers in a gauntlet match later in the
night.

After seeing some stills from the 3 stages of Hell match between Randy Orton and Triple H from The Bash, in which Orton retained his
WWE championship, it was time to get the tournament underway. Triple H came out to what felt like a ten-minute introduction, and then
MVP followed, as we looked at some video footage of him at the BET Awards with Sherri Shepherd.

--- Triple H Vs MVP

The two locked up, and Triple H grabbed a headlock on MVP. MVP sent Hunter to the ropes, but Hunter knocked him down with a
shoulderblock, selling his leg upon impact. MVP then tried to zone in on the leg, but Hunter fought him off with punches. Finally, Porter
managed to back Hunter into the corner and get some kicks in on the leg. He then took the Game down and elbowdropped the leg,
before Hunter came back again with some punches. He whipped MVP to the ropes and tried for a spine buster, but MVP sidestepped the
move, swept out Hunter’s leg, and applied a figure-four leglock. Triple H punches his way out of the hold and, with MVP trying to
reapply it, kicked him away. He kneed MVP and went for a Pedigree, but MVP countered by taking out the leg again, and then hit a
facebuster followed by the Ballin’ Elbow for a two count. He next went for a big boot in the corner, but Hunter moved out of the way. He
went for the Pedigree again, only for MVP to back body drop him, and then connect with the big kick in the corner for another nearfall. He
looked to put Triple H away with the Playmaker, but Triple H blocked the move and hit the Pedigree for the pinfall at 4’35 to advance to
the final of the tournament.

This match had the double whammy of being frustratingly booked, and not very good. MVP has been on the bubble of the main event
since he debuted on Raw, but here, in his first real opportunity to make inroads into the title chase, he was jobbed out in less than five
minutes to a guy who has had more championship opportunities than maybe anybody in the history of wrestling. MVP would add
something fresh to the mix, whereas Randy Orton Vs Triple H is more played out than Jon and Kate’s marriage.

After a recap of what happened in the Unified Tag Team Championship match at The Bash, with Edge and Chris Jericho being added to
the Colons Vs Legacy match, and winning the belts, it was to be Carlito and Primo invoking their rematch clause, but not before the new
champions got some things off their chests.

Jericho said that he made a vow never to appear on Raw again, but by virtue of his talents, he finds himself in front of the hypocrites in the
Raw audience again. Edge says the only reason Jericho is there is because he approached him and convinced him that together they
could own the WWE. He continued that they are winners, whereas the fans are losers, and that brought out the former champs.

--- Tag Team Championship Match - Edge and Chris Jericho (champions) Vs Primo and Carlito

Primo and Jericho kicked us off, with Jericho taking control with a headlock, being sent to the ropes, and then coming back with a
shoulderblock to take Primo down. Jericho hit the ropes again, but this time was met by a dropkick, and then Primo followed up with a
hurricanrana. He locked on an armbar, and used a legsweep to take Jericho down, then knocking Edge off the apron with a dropkick, and
back body dropping Jericho onto him. The two Colons then hit a double baseball slide on the champions as we went to commercial at 1â
€™17. We returned to the match at the five minute mark, with Jericho controlling Primo with a facelock. Primo worked his way out of the
hold and connected with a sunset flip for a two count. Jericho hit straight back though with an enziguri kick for a two count of his own, and
then tagged in the Rated-R Superstar. Edge whipped Primo hard into the corner for a two count, and then tagged Jericho back in. Jericho
continued the beat down, hitting a vicious-looking knee to the mouth of Primo, and sending him into the corner. A bulldog attempt,
however, backfired, as Primo sent Jericho into the corner, and made the tag to his older brother. Carlito entered the ring with a
springboard dropkick, and followed up with a forearm, a clothesline, and a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Jericho caught Carlito
with an elbow and went for a Lionsault, landing on his feet when Carlito rolled out of the way. Carlito took the opportunity to hit a
springboard moonsault on Jericho for a very close two count, and then went for the Back Stabber. Jericho blocked the move and went for
the Walls of Jericho, executing a slingshot instead when Carlito refused to be turned over. However, Carlito landed on the second rope,
nailing Edge with a clothesline on the way, and then leapt off with a cross body block on Jericho for a nearfall. Edge tagged in and went
for a spear on Carlito, but Carlito dodged the move, and hit the Back Stabber. Jericho broke the pin attempt agonisingly close to a three.
Primo dropkicked Jericho out of the ring and followed him out with a suicide dive, as Carlito hit a kneelift on Edge. Carlito then went for a
springboard, but Jericho pushed Primo into the ropes at the exact same moment, sending Carlito crashing to the mat. Edge followed up
with a spear to pick up the win at 9’36. After the match, Carlito seemed to be expressing some anger towards Primo, and I sincerely
hope this isn’t the beginning of a break-up angle between the two. Their run as a team has been most entertaining, and I think that
they still have much room for improvement. An extended programme with the new champions could yield some excellent matches and
segments, and allow for Primo and Carlito to grow as a team. As for the match itself, it was a decent affair, with an innovative ending, but I
would have liked to have seen it get another five minutes or so.

We cut to Legacy in the back, with Orton complaining about his gauntlet match later in the show. Batista walked in and said that if either
Rhodes or Dibiase get involved in that match they will be fired on the spot.

We saw a recap of the Cena/Miz situation next, and then Cena walking in the back as he made his way out for his tournament match.

--- John Cena Vs The Miz

Miz went on the offensive right from the bell with a kneelift, punches and kicks, but Cena hit back with an elbow, a hiptoss, a powerslam,
and an elbowdrop for a one count. Cena whipped the Miz into the corner, but ran into a boot, and then Miz took Cena down and beat away
on him with more kicks and punches. Cena again fought back with a back body drop and a fisherman’s suplex for a two count but, as
the ref separated the two in the corner, Miz got in a cheap shot which changed the flow of the match. Miz followed up with a suplex for a
two count and then, after Cena had powered out of a facelock, Miz took him back down with the Reality Check for another two. Cena tried
to make a comeback with a bulldog, but Miz threw him to the mat and hit a hotshot and a neck breaker for a two count. Miz punched away
at Cena in the corner as we went to a break at 5’06, returning at 8’17 with Cena in a facelock. Cena powered out of the mov, but
then ran into the corner as Miz sidestepped his charge. A big clothesline from Miz earned him another two count, and then he hit his
corner clothesline before going to the top rope. Cena got in some punches and tried to FU Miz from the top, but Miz escaped the move
and took Cena down with an electric chair for a nearfall. Miz followed up with a legdrop, and then a boot to the face for yet another two.
Cena then took Miz down with a drop toe hold, but Miz kicked Cena away and locked on a sleeper hold. Cena slumped down to his
knees, before managed to fight back up to his feet with the Miz on his back, and backed him into the corner. The Cena comeback was
now on, and it followed the familiar pattern of flying shoulderblock, flying shoulderblock, back suplex slam, five knuckle shuffle. Cena next
busted out the Throwback, and then delivered his legdrop to his leaning opponent from the top rope. The STF followed and The Miz
tapped out at 13’50, as Cole and King began hyping up Triple H Vs Cena for next week. This was a typical Cena match, involving The
Champ being beaten down for much of it, then making a miraculous comeback to finish the match. The only problem was that Miz’s
offence wasn’t interesting, nor convincing, enough to carry the lion’s share of the match, and it went about five minutes too long.
Looking at the tournament bracket, it was always likely to be Triple H Vs Cena in the final, but it seems silly to waste that match on free
TV. Maybe Jon and Kate can run a reconciliation angle next week to win the ratings war again.

We cut once more to Legacy in the back, with Cody trying to pump up Orton, while Ted talked on his phone. Orton told Cody to shut up
(ungrateful), and then Ted told him not to worry, because his dad, erm, Ted Dibiase, will be the guest host next week. Orton asked what
that does for him tonight.

--- Fatal Fourway - Kelly Kelly Vs Mickie James Vs Beth Phoenix Vs Rosa Mendes

This match was to decide the number one contender to Maryse’s Divas championship at Night of Champions, and Maryse herself
was out to provide commentary. Mickie paired off with Rosa, and Beth with Kelly, and then Beth showed that she wouldn’t be playing
favourites by punching her intern, Rosa. She snap mared Rosa over and went for a cover, which Mickie broke up, and then Mickie and
Kelly squared off as Beth rolled out of the ring. Mickie took Kelly down in a headlock, but Kelly countered into a headscissors. Mickie
nipped up and took Kelly down with a legsweep for a one count. Kelly came back with a headlock, before Rosa re-entered the ring. The
two double dropkicked Rosa, but were then double clotheslined by Beth. Beth covered Mickie for a two count, and then covered Kelly for
another two. She then hit a slingshot suplex on Mickie, but James landed on her feet and locked on a dragon sleeper. Rosa came up
behind Mickie and applied a facelock, and then Kelly hooked a sleeper on Rosa. I suppose this was supposed to look cool, but the
moves were so poorly applied that it just looked stupid. Anyway, Beth powered all three women back into the corner. Kelly hit a sunset flip
on The Glamazon for a two count, and then Mickie rolled Kelly up for a two, and Rosa executed a backslide on Mickie for another two.
Beth then power slammed Rosa, but Kelly broke the count. Kelly and Mickie double shoulderblocked Beth down, and Kelly got a two
count out of it as Mickie just stood and watched. Mickie turned her attention to Rosa, as Beth delivered a Glam Slam to Kelly, only for
James to break the pin attempt. Beth sent Mickie into the corner, but ran into an elbow, and then Mickie headscissored Beth onto the
apron. She dropkicked her legs, causing Beth to fall headfirst into the steps, and then Rosa attacked Mickie. She connected with a knee,
but Mickie came back with a forearm and a DDT, which Rosa Parks would have taken better, to end the match at 6’07. Mickie and
Maryse then stared each other down before Mickie celebrated her win with Kelly. This match was an absolute train wreck, and was
probably the worst six minutes of wrestling on WWE programming in a long time, which is really saying something when you consider
some of the crap we get.

--- The Big Show Vs Kofi Kingston

Show would apparently get a United States championship match if he could beat Kofi here, and it looked good for him after he took the
champion down with a clothesline, and then focused his attention on the arm of Kingston, with elbows and a headbutt to the appendage.
He then powerslammed Kofi, but missed a follow-up elbowdrop, allowing Kofi to connect with a dropkick, and some kicks and forearms.
Show sent Kofi into the corner, but ran into a pendulum kick, and then Kingston took Show down for the first time with a missile dropkick,
following up with the B cubed legdrop for a two count. He then leapt onto Show in the corner, and rained down on him with punches, but
Show dumped him over the top rope to the outside, and went out after him. He picked him up for a gorilla slam, but Kofi wriggled free and
shoved the big man into the ring post. Kofi clambered up to the apron, but couldn’t make it back into the ring before the referee’s
count reached ten, meaning that the match ended in a double count-out at 3’40. Show walked away looking very angry, and I have to
wonder if this is going to lead to anything or not.

It was next main event time, and Orton’s first opponent in the gauntlet match, and new Raw superstar, was Evan Bourne.

--- Randy Orton Vs Evan Bourne

Orton, selling the effects of his match with Triple H the previous night, started the match by kicking Bourne, and then whipping him to the
ropes. Bourne came back with a forearm which knocked the champion down, but Orton pushed Bourne onto the apron, and then
suplexed him back into the ring. Bourne, however, landed on his feet, and rolled Orton up for a two count. He then ran into an elbow from
Orton, but came back with a spinning kick for another two. Orton took Bourne down with a forearm uppercut, and then began stomping
away on him, but Bourne bounced back with a legsweep and then a standing moonsault for his third nearfall of the match. He earned his
fourth with a baseball slide dropkick, and then he connected with a pair of knees to his standing opponent from the top rope. With Orton
in position for the shooting star press, Bourne went back up to the top rope, only for Orton to spring to his feet, crotch him on the top, and
then bring him crashing to the mat with an RKO (which Michael Cole called a bulldog, and Lawler corrected him by calling it a flying
bulldog) for the victory at 3’19. If the idea here was to make Bourne look strong, it didn’t really come off, as it looked more like a
clearly hurt Orton pulling off a routine win. Anyway, Orton’s night wasn’t over.

--- Randy Orton Vs Jack Swagger

The next opponent for the WWE champion was another now ex-ECW superstar, Jack Swagger. Swagger came out in his usual confident
manner, and wasted no time in exhibiting his strength and technique by double legging Orton and throwing him down to the mat.
However, a victory over the world champion of Raw on his first night on the show was obviously not that desirable an outcome, as
Swagger then stepped out onto the apron and watched, with a smirk, as the referee counted to ten, giving Orton the victory at 1’14.
Swagger then got on the microphone and said that he both likes and respects Orton, and that on his debut as a Raw roster member, he
wanted to leave a lasting impression. He then offered his hand to Randy, and the two shook.

--- Randy Orton Vs Mark Henry

It was another former ECW champion next for Orton, in the form of the World’s Strongest Man, sans Tony Atlas. Henry had some
words of his own to say, and he announced that he likes Randy too, and has respect for him, and is also here to make an impression.
The tone of his voice, though, was much different to that of Swagger, and it was clear Henry had a different kind of impression in mind.
The two locked up and Henry pushed Orton down  to the mat. Henry then, just as Swagger had done, stepped out onto the apron with a
smile as the referee started his count. This time though, Henry stopped the count at 4, and climbed back into the ring, causing Orton to
get down on his knees and beg Henry to lay off. Henry just laughed, and picked Orton up by the throat, tossing him across the ring, as the
fans cheered. He then whipped him into the corner and ran in with an avalanche, before whipping him into the opposite corner. Orton
may not have had any fight left in him, but he still had his impetuosity, which he exhibited by slapping Henry across the face. Henry
responded with a big headbutt and, after blocking a quick RKO attempt from the champion, administered the World’s Strongest Slam
for the pinfall after 3’32. After the match, Henry paraded around the ring to the cheers of the fans, and then the man who made it all
happen, Batista came out onto the stage.

The booking for this final match seemed strange to me, from the quick, unimpressive Bourne defeat, to Swagger getting himself counted
out, and finally Henry’s out-of-nowhere baby face turn. I have no problem with a guy like Henry being rewarded for the significant
improvements he has made over the last year or so, but it doesn’t seem right that he may now be a top contender for the
championship, leapfrogging over someone like MVP, especially since Henry has cut a niche for himself on ECW.

Overall, this wasn’t a particularly strong offering of Raw. The tag title match was good, and the guest host idea made things a little
more interesting, but otherwise there was nothing to get Jon and Kate too worried.

MVP of the night- Nobody really stood out on their own, so I’ll give it to the four guys in the tag team championship match for having by
far the best match of the night.