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March 8, 2010
– Adam Russell

Trick or Treat

The guest host of this week’s show was master illusionist, Criss Angel. Would that signify a disappearing act of the recent quality of the
programming, or would the WWE pull another rabbit out of the hat? It might take more of a miracle than an illusion to get any quality out of
the advertised main event of John Cena Vs Vince McMahon.

The show began with The Undertaker making his way out, and saying that Shawn Michaels’ loss last week was symbolic of his life since
he became his 17th WrestleMania victim. He said that there is a dark cloud above Michaels, and his obsession will cause him to pay the
ultimate price- his career. Shawn then headed out and said that ‘Taker is right about the dark cloud, but it was lifted last week. He went
on that he cost the Undertaker his world championship in the elimination chamber because he had no choice, but ‘Taker had no reason
to interfere in Michaels’ match last week, leading him to believe that fear exists within him for the first time. Undertaker responded that he
can’t tell if Shawn is full of confidence, or full of desperation. Shawn said he isn’t desperate, and to prove it he challenged ‘Taker to agree
to make the match at Wrestlemania a no disqualification, no count-out match. ‘Taker answered that Michaels has chosen his own
demise, and Shawn said that the dark cloud will return after ‘Mania, but it will be over the Undertaker.

Though a little long, this segment was very effective in setting up the stipulation for WrestleMania, which in itself is a good way to up the
ante from last year, while also allowing Michaels and ‘Taker to hide their weaknesses- namely their ever-growing immobility. Last year
the angle between Shawn and ‘Taker was about the only bright spark on the road to WrestleMania. The same can’t be said for this year’s
excellent build-up, but these two are again delivering the goods.

--- Eve Torres, Gail Kim and Kelly Kelly Vs Maryse, Alicia Fox and Katie Lea Burchill

The more the weeks go by, the less interested I become in anything the divas are doing. And I wasn’t exactly starting from a position of
great interest. Gail and Alicia started here, and a distraction from Katie Lea allowed Fox to hit a big boot. Maryse came in and hit a
sidewalk slam into a backbreaker for a two count, before Kim made the tag to Eve. Eve hit clotheslines and her typically atrocious
dropkicks (I didn’t think anyone would get worse than Michelle McCool in that department), and then a somersault senton, which brought
Alicia and Katie in. Kelly and Gail dropkicked Fox and Burchill out of the ring, and Eve used an armbar submission to make Maryse tap
out after 3’03. Eve is next in line for a championship match then- I only hope it doesn’t go on at WrestleMania.

We got our first look at Angel next, as he chatted to Hornswoggle and then performed a magic trick for the Bella twins which involved him
pulling a thread out of his eye. Jillian came in to sing, and Angel made her lose her voice.

Tag team champions, the Big Show and The Miz came out next, for tag team action, but first had a few words to say about their
opponents for WrestleMania, R-Truth and John Morrison. Miz said that not since the British Bulldog and Lex Luger teamed up at
WrestleMania XI has a team with such little credibility been given such an opportunity. He went on that this was an insult to them, and that
they would sooner face the Bushwhackers, who are at least a real team. He concluded that he and Show were the last great team in the
WWE, and this brought out their opponents.

--- The Big Show and The Miz Vs John Morrison and R-Truth

The WWE has a penchant for giving away pay-per-view matches on free TV, even WrestleMania matches. To be fair, it isn’t like this match
will be adding one buy to WrestleMania, but this type of booking will always seem imprudent to me. As it was, this wasn’t really a match.
Morrison low dropkicked Show off the apron, and then he and Truth clotheslined Miz to the outside. They followed up with a double
baseball slide, at which point the referee inexplicably called for the bell, just 40 seconds in. There have been some really kooky finishes
in WWE lately, and this might be the strangest of the lot. Anyway, the action continued with Truth and Morrison double DDT’ing Show on
the floor, and then double front suplexing Miz onto the security wall. Morrison then got on the mic and said they just showed how real they
can get.

If you ignore the fact that this should never have been a match, and once it was, should never have ended the way it did, this was a pretty
good angle. This WrestleMania match has been rather thrown together and, apart from the history between Miz and Morrison, there is
really no heat involved. This segment changed that. I’m still surprised that Morrison and Truth aren’t in the Money in the Bank match, but
they could make a pretty good tag team.

Josh Matthews was with John Cena in the back, and asked him about Batista leaving him speechless last week. Cena responded, in
full-on serious mode, that what Batista said last week was true, that he can’t beat him. He said that Batista has taken his championship,
and virtually left him for dead, but the only thing he can do now is go out and beat him. Josh then asked if he thought Batista would
involve himself in his match against Mr McMahon. Cena said he’s counting on it. This was so ridiculous from Cena. When he talks in that
tone of voice, I don’t know how anyone can take him seriously. I honestly think that ultra-serious Cena may be the most annoying
character in all of wrestling.

Elsewhere, Evan Bourne thanked Angel for making a match between him and William Regal with the final Money in the Bank spot up for
grabs. Two things sprung to mind on hearing this- one, that Regal unfortunately has no chance of winning this match, and two, this
means there will be no Kofi Kingston in Money in the Bank. About a month ago I would have bet money on Kingston or Morrison winning
the briefcase this year, but it turns out that neither of them will even be in the match. Regal came in next with his NXT rookie, Skip
Sheffield. Skip asked Angel for a trick, and Angel duly obliged, to the chagrin of Regal. The interaction between Regal and Sheffield was
winning.

--- Handicap match- Randy Orton Vs Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase

Orton attacked Cody and Ted as they were walking down the aisle, and then waited for them in the ring as we went to commercial. The
match got officially underway when we returned, with Rhodes starting out for Legacy. Randy hit an elbow, and Cody tagged Ted, who
himself ate a clothesline. Cody came back in, and he and Ted tried to use their numerical advantage, but Orton was smart to it, and back
body dropped Cody to the floor as we took another break. 6’08 had passed in the match when we returned, and Randy clotheslined
Cody, before Rhodes hit a jaw japper, and Ted connected with a dropkick on the outside. Back in the ring, Cody dropped a knee of
Randy, and then he and Ted hit a double gut punch. A DiBiase clothesline, and Rhodes dropkick continued the dominance of Legacy,
before Orton made his comeback with clotheslines, a snap powerslam, and the backbreaker a la Orton on DiBiase. A distraction from
Rhodes, however, allowed DiBiase to hit Dream Street for the victory at 11’48. After the bell, Cody hit Cross Rhodes.

I don’t care for handicap matches at all, but at least this one had the right winner. However, it still didn’t go any way to telling us what
these guys are going to be doing at WrestleMania. I can only assume now that Orton will take a partner to make it a tag team match, but
the only options I see would be Kofi Kingston (which, with only three weeks to go until ’Mania, has had no build-up so far), or a mystery
partner, possibly his father, Bob. Actually, bringing the three guys’ dads into this might be the only way to give this match a special ’
WrestleMania feel’.

Josh asked Batista for his thoughts on Batista’s comments earlier in the night. Batista gave his word that he wouldn’t interfere in the
McMahon/Cena match.

Triple H came out next to attack his attack at the hands of Sheamus last week. Hunter said that he kind of respects what Sheamus did,
saying he would have done the same if someone had humiliated him in the elimination chamber match, given him a concussion, and
taken his WWE championship. Sheamus wasted no time in joining Triple H in the ring, and said that he’ll make a statement at
WrestleMania, if Triple H has the guts. Triple H responded that Sheamus has had many the greatest first year in the business, but all of
the accomplishments mean nothing unless you’ve made a name for yourself at WrestleMania. So basically, nothing that happens
throughout the year means anything. Thanks for the heads up. Triple H then compared Sheamus trying to take on the big dog at ‘Mania to
him facing the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania XII (though he didn’t mention Warrior by name), saying that he ended up getting crushed,
and had to claw his way up to the top. He went on that now he is the man that everyone wants to face at WrestleMania, and those that
beat him on the big stage had their careers take off like they couldn’t dream of. He mentioned Cena and Batista, but said that that is the
shortlist, and the long list is all the guys that have failed. He then asked Sheamus if he had the guts. Sheamus tried to take a cheap shot,
but Hunter ended up clotheslining him over the top rope. The two brawled around ringside, ending with Triple H giving Sheamus a
spinebuster back in the ring.

Like the Undertaker/Shawn segment earlier in the night, this went way too long for my liking, although for the most part Triple H’s
performance on the mic was good. It was interesting for him to bring up a low point in his career, establishing the roles for the match-up.
I can’t say this is a match that I’m looking forward to (at this point it’s probably the least attractive on the card), but at least they’re
attempting to tell a story with the build-up.

We saw Cris Angel performing another magic trick in the back, this time for Santino, before it was time, finally, for another match, this one
featuring Christian on commentary.

--- Money in the Bank Qualifying Match- Evan Bourne Vs William Regal

Regal dominated from the start here, with forearms, a butterfly suplex, and an overhead throw. It all unravelled though when he ran into a
jumping knee, and Bourne then hit Air Bourne for the win at 1’27. The Money in the Bank qualifying matches from Raw this year have
been terrible.

That means the ladder match will feature Christian, Bourne, Swagger, MVP, Ziggler, Benjamin, Kane and Matt Hardy. Out of all of those,
the only person I can see winning is Christian. That makes me worried that WWE will try to swerve us and give someone else the win.
Not that that would be a terrible thing, but all the other competitors have either been treated as nothing more than filler for too long to have
any credibility, or have just plain been around for too long. Christian has to win.

Cris Angel came out to act as guest ring announcer for the main event, and he brought out Cena and Vince. Vince got on the mic and told
Bret Hart to watch as he beats Cena 1-2-3, and then made the match a handicap gauntlet match.

--- John Cena Vs Vince McMahon and Vladimir Kozlov

Kozlov charged out first, and apparently they have forgotten about any attempt to turn the guy babyface. He dominated Cena with a
powerslam, headbutts and then the Iron Curtain, before tagging in Vince who immediately went for the cover and got a two count. Vince
called out his next partner, so apparently this wasn’t really a gauntlet match, just a match with rotating partners for Vince.

--- John Cena Vs Vince McMahon and Drew McIntyre

McIntyre hit a facebuster on Cena and tagged in Vince, who again covered for a two count. He then called out his next partner as we went
to commercial.

--- John Cena Vs Vince McMahon and Jack Swagger

We rejoined the match with Cena hitting a 5 Knuckle Shuffle on Swagger, but then Swagger countered an FU attempt with a takedown,
and hit an Oklahoma Stampede. He followed that up with a pair of Swagger bombs and tagged out. Vince got a two count again, and
called out his next partner.

--- John Cena Vs Vince McMahon and Mark Henry

Henry reluctantly gave Cena a World’s Strongest Slam, but again he kicked out when McMahon covered him. Vince then got the ring bell,
and made the match no disqualification. Henry tried to stop him from using the bell as a weapon, so Vince told him to do it instead.
Henry threw the bell down, but Batista appeared, giving him a spear out of nowhere. Kofi Kingston came out and tried to fight off Batista,
but took a Batista Bomb. Cena then made a comeback, fighting off Batista with punches and then cornering McMahon. He picked him up
for the FU, but Batista speared him, hit a Batista Bomb, and Vince then covered him for the victory after about ten minutes. Obviously, this
wasn’t really much of a match, more a prolonged beatdown and, apart from the brief interaction between Henry and Vince, didn’t really
entertain. They at least found a way to do Cena Vs the World without making the rest of the roster look too weak by taking falls.

So in the end, nothing really magic about this show. Way too much talking, and way too little action. The only match worthy of the name
we got was the Legacy handicap match, whereas we got several long talking segments and skits. With Steve Austin advertised to host
next week, hopefully we can get things back on track.

MVP of the night- Triple H. On a really weak show for individual performances, I was pleasantly surprised by this promo, which makes it
enough to get the nod here.

Line of the night- Cena’s line about Batista practically leaving him for dead was awesome in its absurdity, but the award here goes to
Skip Sheffield congratulating Regal on his choice of number for one of Angel’s magic tricks; “ooh, that’s a good number, Coach Regal.
He’ll never guess that”.

Host-o-metre- Angel’s involvement meant for more backstage skits than I like to see, but he at least had a talent to showcase.