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March 1, 2010
– Adam Russell

Stoner’s Throw

Last week’s Raw was really the beginning of the concentrated build-up to WrestleMania 26, and now, as we move to within a month of
the big one, it was more of the same from this week’s show.

We started with Shawn Michaels heading to the ring, to address his career versus streak match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania.
Shawn said that he knows that everybody in the locker-room thinks he’s crazy for putting his career on the line, and that none of his peers
believe in him. He went on that what everybody does know is that he is Mr WrestleMania, and he believes he can end the streak. I might
mention here that I think Shawn’s reputation as ‘Mr WrestleMania’ is wildly overstated, but that’s besides the point. He invited anyone
from the back to come out and tell him to his face that he couldn’t beat ‘Taker, and Triple H’s music hit. Hunter said that he doesn’t think
Shawn can do it- he knows he can, and then put Shawn over as the best he’s ever been in the ring with. I wonder if Hunter actually
believes that to be true- it certainly seemed like he was being sincere, and Shawn looked touched by the comment. Hunter went on to say
that D-X will never die, even though ‘Mania always takes them down separate paths, and that he doesn’t want the last image of them to
be losing the tag titles to Miz and Big Show. He then announced that he had invoked their rematch clause for that night, and that they
wouldn’t have to defend those titles for 30 days, meaning they could have their first defence together the night after WrestleMania. This
was a token of his belief in Shawn, he said, and asked Shawn if he shared that belief. Shawn agreed to the match.

This was a strong opening segment, that picked up when Triple H came out. The interaction between the two came across as genuine,
and not so scripted, and this engages the viewer.

In the back, guest hosts Cheech and Chong were being ogled by the Bella twins. Cheech went for a backstage tour, and then
Hornswoggle came in and gave Chong some Lucky Charms, which had hallucinogenic properties (we could tell because the screen
began to spin, we went to a soft focus shot, and trippy music started playing). I guess this is PG WWE’s way of doing pot humour.

--- Randy Orton Vs Ted DiBiase

Legacy seemed to split up once and for all last week, and there was certainly no mixed signals being sent with this match, as both men
went right for one another. They exchanged punches early on, and then we saw a clothesline from Orton and a dropkick from DiBiase.
Ted sent Randy to the floor and tried to slam his head into the ringpost, but Orton reversed it and then sent him back into the ring. We
went to commercial, and returned 5’41 into the match, with Ted stomping away on Orton. He hit a clothesline, before Orton made a
comeback with a snap powerslam. He followed up with the Orton stomp and then dropped a knee. Cody Rhodes came out and jumped
onto the apron, distracting Orton, and DiBiase rolled him up. Orton reversed the roll-up, but Ted kicked out at two. The distraction having
failed, Rhodes climbed into the ring, earning Orton the disqualification win at 9’32. Rhodes and DiBiase beat down on Orton, but Orton
fought back with a dropkick on DiBiase and a backbreaker on Cody. He then went for the hangman’s DDT on Rhodes, but Ted pulled him
to safety. That’s the second week in a row that Orton has got the best of Cody and Ted, and this time he did it by overturning a two-on-one
beatdown. I get that Orton is going to be the babyface here, and WWE likes strong babyfaces, but it would be nice if Rhodes and DiBiase
were allowed to get over in this programme too. After what happened with the Kofi Kingston feud, Orton might end up with a reputation for
being a bad guy to be programmed with. As for the match, it was pretty dull, with both men seeming sluggish. A two-on-one handicap
match has been made for next week, which makes me think we’ll be getting the triple threat match at ‘Mania.

In the back we saw Chong, still tripping out, and stroking Eve’s hair. Only, it turned out to be William Regal, not Eve. Cheech came in and
explained that Chong has diabetes, thus the sugar in the cereal is what’s making him trip. Chong asked if he could still hang out with
Kelly, only that turned out to be Chris Masters. The reveal to that was pretty funny actually. Cheech then had some Lucky Charms, and
started tripping too.

--- Money in the Bank Qualifying Match- Jack Swagger Vs Santino Marella

Swagger blocked a hiptoss and hit the gutwrench power bomb right off the bat to pick up the win in just 26 seconds. I’m happy for
Swagger that he’s going to Wrestlemania, although I wish he’d stop acting so goofy for his entrance. More on Money in the Bank later.

John Cena came out next, and said that Batista taking the WWE title from him at Elimination Chamber was good business on his part,
and that he was smart to allign himself with Vince McMahon, but the beatdown that occurred last week was personal. He continued that
he has never had a problem with Batista, but obviously the Animal has one with him, and he doesn’t get why. Everything has a silver
lining though, he said, and the silver lining here is that he is going to WrestleMania, but before then, he needs some payback. Batista
came out with a bevy of security guards and wearing a leather waist-coat. Big Dave went from dressing like a metro sexual, to dressing
like an extra from the Al Pacino film, ‘Cruising’. It works for his character though. Batista said the security was there to protect Cena, not
him, and then went on to draw parallels between the two of them, starting out in the company together, and having a similar rise to the
top. He proclaimed them to be the two biggest stars since the Attitude Era, but said that for some reason Cena is labelled the man, and
the face of the company. Cena said that’s because he works his butt off for the company, whereas Batista is too cool to show up on time,
and wants everything handed to him. I can certainly buy that. Batista explained that he beat down Cena for two reasons- the first being
that he wants to prove that he is better than Cena at WrestleMania, and the second being that he just doesn’t like him. He agreed with
Cena that he is selfish, and only cares about money and championships, and said that every time they get in the ring together something
bad happens to Cena, citing the broken neck Cena suffered the last time they wrestled. He mocked Cena for doing too much talking, and
said that he knows that he can’t beat him. Cena looked deeply wounded by these comments, and had no comeback. I found that to be a
little implausible, seeing as Cena is the biggest gobshite in the company, and ALWAYS has a comeback. That doesn’t take away though
from the really good promo work by Batista, who really seems comfortable in this role. The build to this match has been pretty much
perfect so far, in establishing the key differences between the two protagonists, and the importance of this particular battle. Good work.

Cheech and Chong had Chavo dressed up in a sombrero and fake moustache in the back, but he wasn’t feeling. Cheech looked for a
Mexican kick elsewhere, but got no love from the Colons (Puerto Rican), Katie Lea (British), or Yoshi Tatsu (Japanese). Then a chicken
started talking in Santino’s voice, which might become the phrase I use to show incredulity at a given situation.

--- Money in the Bank Qualifier- MVP Vs Zack Ryder (w/Rosa Mendes)

MVP hit an overhead throw, facebuster, Ballin’ Elbow and then the Playmaker to pick up the win after 46 seconds. Yep, that’s two Money in
the Bank qualifiers tonight, each lasting under a minute. If that’s how they’re going to treat these qualifying matches, I’d rather they just
didn’t both with them. I don’t think it really does anything for the winner of the match, and it pretty much destroys the credibility of the loser.
This also highlighted once again the difference between Raw and Smackdown in terms of the length given to matches, especially
midcard matches. I can’t imagine a match going under a minute on Smackdown.

Cheech and Chong came out into the arena next, and introduced the competitors in a diva pyjama pillow-fight.

--- Kelly Kelly Vs Eve Torres Vs Gail Kim Vs Maryse Vs Jillian Hall Vs Alicia Fox

This stupidity, which included the always-amusing sight of divas selling pillow shots, actually got longer than both Money in the Bank
qualifiers combined, ending when Eve pinned Alicia with a somersault senton at 1’54. Afterwards, Hornswoggle came out and shared
more Lucky Charms with Cheech and Chong. Pointless.

Bret Hart was introduced next, for his final farewell, but Vince McMahon came out instead and introduced Bret himself, saying that he has
the utmost respect for him. Bret came out on crutches and with his leg in a cast, and told Vince to get out of the ring if he’s serious about
giving him his farewell. Vince responded that Bret called him a liar, and he lied about asking him to Raw so he could have a farewell. Bret
asked why he was invited, and Vince started talking about Bret challenging him to a match at WrestleMania. Bret said that he’s
incapacitated, but Vince said that he can heal in time for ‘Mania, and then proceeded to try to taunt him into a match. Bret told him to get it
through his head that he can’t wrestle, prompting Vince to call him a coward, and kick the crutch out from under him. As Vince left the ring,
Bret struggled to his feet and accepted the match, and Vince, suitably smug, announced that he would show what great condition he is in
next week, in a match against John Cena.

I know the idea with this whole angle is to pile the sympathy onto Bret, holding off for the big revenge spot at WrestleMania, but this sure
has been frustrating, as a big Bret fan, to watch. I only hope that the angle gets the pay-off it deserves. I have faith that it will, as I can’t see
Bret agreeing to come back under any other circumstances.

--- Tag team championship match- The Big Show and The Miz (champions) Vs Shawn Michaels and Triple H

Shawn and the Big Show started off, with Show dominating with a whip to the corner, and a clothesline. Miz tagged in and picked up a two
count with a boot to the face, and then tagged Show back in. Show applied a bear hug, but Shawn punched his way out. He went for
Sweet Chin Music, but Show blocked, and went for a chokeslam. Shawn escaped the move, and made the tag to Triple H, and Hunter hit
a facebuster and spinebuster on the big man, before giving a spinebuster to Miz. This brief distraction allowed Show to hit a chokeslam
on Hunter, but Shawn came in and hit Sweet Chin Music on Show. Hunter and Show both made tags, and Shawn went to work on Miz
with a flying forearm, powerslam and a flying elbowdrop. As he was tuning up the band, The Undertaker’s face appeared on the
TitanTron. Shawn stopped to look at ‘Taker, and Miz jack-knife covered him for the win at 4’30. Triple H tried to console Shawn after the
match, but Shawn just walked away. Then, Sheamus came out of the crowd and attacked Hunter from behind, clotheslining him over the
top rope and then hitting a pump kick on the floor.

This wasn’t a bad little match, for the time it was given, and I hope they make a big deal of Miz pinning Michaels for the second time. The
finish was a little silly, reminding me of how often The Undertaker gets by on doing nothing at all really. I mean, good for him that he’s
over enough to get away with that, but it irks me for some reason.

The post-match with Sheamus was expected, and I would have liked to have seen a bit more from the Irishman. It seemed like a bit of a
tame beat down.

Again, this week, everything was all about WrestleMania, but it didn’t really come across as well as last week. I’d say that every angle and
match on the show wasn’t as good as it could/should have been, with the exception maybe of the opening promo segment. Still, not a
bad show, and I guess the company is doing something right when you look at a show with this much story advancement as a mild
disappointment.

MVP of the night- Amazingly, for the second week running, Batista is going to get this. I never thought that would be the case, but his
promo was definitely the mst effective work on the show.

Host-o-metre- Cheech and Chong were actually pretty likeable, I thought, but the material wasn’t up to much.