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February 22, 2010
– Adam Russell

Less is More

With Elimination Chamber in the can, we are now on a clear road towards WrestleMania and, while the build up so far has been
refreshingly intriguing, with little more than a month to go until the big one, this is the time to take definitive steps to setting up the card.
Obviously, WWE agrees with that assessment, as this Raw was incredibly WrestleMania-centric, and three main event matches were
announced.

The first man out was new World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Jericho, who won the Smackdown chamber match with a little help from
Shawn Michaels. Jericho gloated over his victory, but Edge’s music quickly hit, and the Rated-R Superstar came out of the crowd,
speared the new champion, and told him that he would be facing him at WrestleMania. This was all over in a matter of minutes, and was
all the better for it. Sometimes (in fact, more often than not, in my opinion) it doesn’t take ten minutes of back and forth on the mic to set
up an angle. We all knew Edge was going to pick Jericho -it’s the match that makes sense- and he just came out and did it.

The smoke had barely cleared from that confrontation when John Cena headed out, in a rage after being forced to defend the
championship he won in the Raw chamber immediately after that match against Batista- a match, ordered by Vince McMahon, that he
lost. Cena melodramatically asked to be added to the list of people screwed by McMahon, going on that he was mad as hell, and wanted
his automatic rematch tonight. Vince came out and admitted that he made a business deal with Batista (the attack on Bret Hart a few
weeks back traded for a championship match whenever he chooses), and that the Animal wouldn’t be defending his newly won title until
WrestleMania. Vince did acknowledge that Cena had a rematch coming though, along with the man who walked into the chamber match
as champion, Sheamus (who we were told was recovering from the effects of the chamber at home). He told Cena that he had a match
that night which he had to win in order to challenge Batista at WrestleMania, and if he lost, Sheamus would get the spot. The match,
announced Vince, would be against Batista. WWE had a thing this time last year for giving away their two WrestleMania main events on
free television numerous times, but with how good the build has been so far this year, I was confident that this ‘main event’ would be a
match in name only. Like the Jericho segment before it, this benefited from being succinct, setting up a match which actually means
something. The only thing I didn’t like here was Cena’s ‘the South will rise again’ accent.

--- Divas Championship Tournament Final- Maryse Vs Gail Kim

For some reason, this was replaced on the pay-per-view last night by a tag match pitting these two ladies against Smackdown’s Michelle
McCool and Layla. The probably didn’t want to give these two a pay-per-view length match against one another, and they sure didn’t give
them long here either. Kim did all the early running, hitting a clothesline and a splash in the corner. She went for Eat Defeat early on, but
Maryse blocked by holding onto the ropes. Maryse then went for the French Kiss, but Kim countered with a jacknife cover for a two count.
Kim attempted a cross body block off the top, but Maryse moved (way too early, making Kim look pretty stupid). Maryse seemed to
somehow injure herself, maybe falling awkwardly into the turnbuckle as she avoided the cross body. Gail went for a victory roll, but
Maryse hot shotted her on the top rope, and then hit the French Kiss for the win and championship at 2’49. The match was pretty bad,
and it’s apparent that leaving these two to hold the Raw divas division together is a bad idea. Maryse has great personality, but really
looks dangerously bad in the ring. Kim is a bit of an enigma.

In the back, we saw this week’s guest hosts, Jewel and Ty Murray, talking to the Bella twins, Eve and Kelly. Jillian and Alicia Fox came in,
and Jillian sang for Jewel. The two bickered about who was the better singer and Jewel, rather harshly I thought, slapped Jillian. It did
lead to the brilliance of Jillian asking Alicia why everybody slaps her though, so I can‘t complain.

Elsewhere in the back, Cody Rhodes was telling Randy Orton that he knew Ted DiBiase would betray him (DiBiase pinned Orton in the
chamber). Orton said the only person to blame for their problems was himself, and that he taught them both too well. He told Cody that
he asked for a 6-man tag team match for them later in the night, so they can show that they are still on the same page. Orton left, and
DiBiase appeared (he must have teleported, because there’s no way he Orton wouldn’t have noticed him otherwise), asking Rhodes if
they were sticking to their plan. Cody affirmed.

--- Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes Vs Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne and Yoshi Tatsu

A side note to this match was Tatsu’s debut as a Raw superstar, apparently being drafted after the demise of ECW, and it was Yoshi who
started with DiBiase. Tatsu peeled off some kicks and an armdrag, and then tagged in Bourne. Ted reversed a suplex and tagged in
Cody, who Bourne caught with a clothesline. He went up top, but Cody crotched him, and put him down with an Alabama Slam, proving
that his tag title reign with Hardcore Holly wasn’t a total waste of time. That took us to the commercial break, and we came back in time to
see DiBiase send Bourne inside-out with a clothesline. He went for a flapjack, but Bourne countered with the double knees and tagged
in Kofi. Kofi went to work on Ted with a dropkick and a jumping clothesline, but Orton intervened when he went for B cubed. Randy tagged
in and delivered a trio of powerslams, a kneedrop and the backbreaker a la Orton. Cody then took it upon himself to tag himself in, to
which Orton responded by hitting him with a hangman’s DDT. DiBiase then confronted Orton on the floor, and ate an RKO for his
troubles. In the ring, Yoshi tagged in and hit the rolling snap mare kick on Cody to set him up for Bourne’s shooting star press, which
gave Evan the pinfall at 9’50.

This wasn’t a bad match, but was really just a vessel for the Legacy break-up, which is now surely official. I’ll echo what I said last week
about this angle being mismanaged as, as it stands, I don’t see Cody and Ted coming out of this looking better than they did going in. It’
s still a little up in the air what this leads to for WrestleMania- a triple threat is a possibility, except that we’re led to believe Cody and Ted
are still in cahoots, which leaves a tag match as the other likely option. That brings up the question of who Orton’s partner would be.

Shawn Michaels headed out next, fresh off the controversy (predictable albeit) of costing The Undertaker the World Heavyweight
Championship the previous night. Michaels said that his explanation was simple- he did what he had to do, and that he’s now counting
on a reaction from ‘Taker. He didn’t have to wait long, as the Undertaker (who’s really been on fire lately) made his way out. Shawn said
he wrestled an almost perfect match at last year’s WrestleMania, but one mistake cost him everything. He continued that he begged
‘Taker for a rematch, but he was ignored, which left him no choice but to do what he did. He said that he knows the Dead Man wants to
get his revenge on him, and urged him to do it at WrestleMania. ‘Taker quickly accepted the match, but on the condition that Shawn put
something on the line as well, namely his career. Shawn agreed to this stipulation, saying that if he can’t end the streak, he has no
career.

And so the longest-running, and probably best executed, saga on this year’s Road to WrestleMania so far takes a definitive turn, making
a mockery of my prediction last week that we would get a Michaels/Hunter match at ‘Mania. The career stipulation obviously adds some
major intrigue to this match, and makes this arguably one of the biggest WrestleMania matches of all time. I go on record right now as
predicting that Shawn’s career ends at WrestleMania.

--- Money in the Bank Qualifier- Christian Vs Carlito

I came to a realisation when this match was announced- I like the Money in the Bank match. Well, it’s actually more that I’ve come to
accept it as a WrestleMania tradition, and I was relieved it would be again a part of the show, with some doubt surrounding the
announcement of a pay-per-view entitled Money in the Bank coming later in the year. Less relieved was I about Christian being drafted to
Raw, rather than Smackdown. Three minute matches abound for the best the company had to offer last year. A punch from Christian sent
Carlito to the apron, where he caught Captain Charisma with a DDT. Back between the ropes Christian hit a flapjack, and then a dropkick
from the second rope. He missed a high cross body block from up top and Carlito hit a kneelift, but Christian came right back with a
reverse DDT. Carlito then hit a neckbreaker and went for a springboard elbow. Christian caught him with a Killswitch attempt, Carlito
reversed into a Backstabber attempt, Christian reversed that by sending him into the ring post, and then hit the Killswitch for the victory at
3’01. This was typical television fair, but gets Christian onto the WrestleMania card. For those of you who like a bet, Jerry Lawler
announced that Christian was now the odds-on favourite for Money in the Bank this year. Get on it.

Next came what turned out to be the only throwaway segment of the show, a diva bull riding contest hosted by Jewel and Ty Murray. The
contestants were Eve, Kelly and the Bella twins (who competed together) and all clocked the measly eight seconds on the slow-moving
mechanical bull. This brought out The Miz and The Big Show (this team taking over from Jeri-Show in all departments, including being
the guest host patsies du jour), and Murray goaded Show, who claimed that Raw revolved around them, into trying the bull. Show, of
course, got dumped in short order, but then delivered a right hand to the bull (falling over himself in the process). Miz said that another
guest host activity ends in disappointment, and Murray and Jewel responded by making a tag team championship match for right then
against MVP and Mark Henry.

--- Tag team championship match- Sho-Miz (champions) Vs MVP and Mark Henry

We caught a glimpse at the onset of the match of Daniel Bryan watching in the back. The furore over the announcement that Miz would be
Bryan’s ‘mentor’ on NXT has been great to watch, and can only help Bryan get over. The match began with MVP and Miz squaring off, with
the former dominating with punches and a back body drop, forcing Miz to tag in Show. MVP went right for Show with a facebuster, but ran
into a spear. Show delivered some slaps to the chest of MVP and tagged Miz in, who ran into a big boot. A pair of tags saw Henry and
Show as the legal men, and Henry hit a series of headbutts followed by a splash in the corner. Miz then caused a disatraction, and came
off the top rope, only to be caught with a World’s Strongest Slam. This, however, gave Show the chance to recover and hit Henry with a
knockout punch to pick up the win for his team at 2’46.

A video aired next announcing Wendi Richter as the latest inductee into the 2010 WWE Hall of Fame. A little surprising, that one.

Vince McMahon then made a statement in the back, concerning the injury suffered by Bret Hart last week. He said that he was
considering facing Bret at WrestleMania before the accident occurred, and wants to state that he had nothing to do with what happened.
He then invited Bret to Raw next week to say a proper farewell, saying that he will provide an ambulance to get him to the arena and a
wheelchair to get him to the ring. After a commercial break it was announced that Bret had accepted that invitation. That didn’t take long.

--- Batista Vs John Cena

Batista took Randy Orton-levels of time to get into the ring, a good touch to build the drama, and rise Cena’s ire. When the match finally
began, Batista avoided contact with Cena by putting his head under the ropes, and then blatantly kicked him between the legs, bringing
about the disqualification after just 25 seconds. Even after the bell had rung to signal the end of the match, Lawler still sold the move as
a knee to the midsection. Oh, Jerry.

This was obviously a good move, in not spoiling the WrestleMania main event, which is now confirmed as Batista Vs Cena. I hope they
follow this up next week though by having Sheamus question Batista’s actions, which cost him his rematch. And the action didn’t end
there. Batista gave Cena a kick to the head and then stomped on him in the corner before starting to leave. Cena fought up to his feet, so
Batista headed back to the ring, threw him shoulder-first into the ringpost, then sent him into the security wall and the ringpost on the
outside. Again Cena refused to stay down, so Batista beat down on him repeatedly with a steel chair to the back, before finally leaving.
This was a strong, heat-filled angle, which realy got over the rivalry, and the dynamic of Batista as the ruthless animal, and Cena as the
courageous challenger.

This Raw was very light on in-ring action, and heavy on talking and angles, but (with the exception of the main guest host segment which,
as I said last week, I think it’s best not to even take into consideration anymore) everything was kept relatively short, and nothing
overstayed its welcome. Because of this, the show didn’t drag at all, and it felt much more action-packed. Less was definitely more here.
And more importantly, this was a major show in setting up the WrestleMania card. We got three main event matches announced, the
Legacy break-up looked to be finalised, the Money in the Bank qualifiers began, and a Vince McMahon-Bret Hart confrontation was set up
for next week which I believe will tell us the part that feud will play on the ’Mania card. The only thing that’s still up in the air is what role
Triple H will play.

MVP of the night- Batista was really good destroying Cena, so I give it to him.

Line of the night- A couple of dandies from Sho-Miz (Miz telling Show not to let the mechanical bull get into his head, and Show
responding that it already was, Show calling the divas rude when they refused to hold his title belt), but I loved Jillian asking why
everybody slaps her. Just the idea of most of Jillian’s daily interactions ending with her being slapped strikes me as really funny.

Guest host-o-metre- They were used in the same way as Springer (one big segment and nothing much else- the way the hosts should
be used), and the diva bull riding was far better than the Springer show. Inconsequential, but not bad.