TV REPORTS CALDWELL'S WWE RAW REPORT 3/26: Ongoing coverage of live edition of Raw
Mar 26, 2007 - 10:12:00 PM
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By James Caldwell, PWTorch columnist
Torch editor Wade Keller's VIP-exclusive Raw report will be posted on the Torch VIP site Tuesday morning and emailed to Torch VIP Email Express members. Check back after Raw for Torch Reax on this show. We welcome your feedback after the show (click here) and invite your participation in our Raw 0-10 poll and our Raw MVP poll shortly after the show concludes. Also, I will be by about an hour after Raw's conclusion with an audio analysis of the show exclusively for VIP members with a special guest analyst of the week.
WWE Raw Live Report
March 26 in Chicago, Illinois
We open with The Coach center ring. He teased a bait and switch for McMahon vs. Lashley before saying it would now be a No DQ match. He said any unauthorized outside interference would result in an automatic fine and suspension. Suddenly, the glass broke and the arena exploded. Steve Austin strolled to the ring with a purpose and did the four-corner salute. Austin then told us a story about the delivery truck backing up to his house in Texas while he was drinking some beers. He said all the toys were labeled with Donald Trump's name on it and figured Trump was trying to buy him off. Coach interrupted and said Mr. McMahon has too much respect to do something like that. Austin cut him off and said it turns out that the gifts were from Mr. McMahon, according to the deliveryman. Austin said he's no dummy and he made sure everyone understood he would call the Umaga vs. Lashley match right down the middle. Coach then interjected that it was actually him who sent the gifts to Austin because he was doing what he thought McMahon would want him to do. Austin didn't like that and then told us what would happen to Lashley if he won't break a five count in the corner. He then showed us what would happen if Umaga wouldn't break five count in the corner. The fans were waiting for the big moment. Coach then tried to convince Austin that they were alike. He dropped a cute line, "Bald is beautiful" that generated a groan from the crowd. Austin had a good chuckle, then he turned serious before dropping Coach with a Stunner. Big pop for the Stunner. Austin then had a beer celebration and left the ring.
Backstage, Austin hopped in his truck and took off, but a limo blocked his exit. The limo then moved to the side and Mr. McMahon popped up from the backseat and screamed at the truck before realizing it was Austin. McMahon tried to kiss up, but Austin shot him a middle finger and drove off. McMahon then snapped on his limo driver, awkwardly threw him against the side of the limo, and screamed down at him, "You're fiiiiired!" McMahon stormed into the arena.
As Melina led her team out for a six-person tag match, Ross and Lawler said Melina vs. Ashley at Mania has been changed to a Lumberjill match with every other diva on the roster outside the ring. Good thing they added some distractions to what could be a disaster.
1 -- MELINA & VICTORIA & JILLIAN HALL vs. ASHLEY & TORRIE WILSON & CANDICE MICHELLE
Melina and Ashley started it off and Melina tried to bail to the outside after slapping Ashley, but Torrie and Candice threw her back into the ring. Ashley then tagged out to Candice, who landed a dropkick on Victoria before taking a kick to the back from Melina. Victoria and Melina then set up a slick tag team maneuver in the corner with Melina landing a splash to Candice's stomach as she was held horizontally in the air. Jillian tagged in and went for a somersault leg drop, but Candice moved and spent the next 45 seconds trying to make the hot tag to Ashley. Ashley landed some awkward offensive moves before catching Jillian in the corner with a forward roll for the pin.
WINNERS: Ashley & Torrie & Candice in 3:00. Basic six-person tag to reinforce a Mania match. I fear Ashley and Melina in too many one-on-one situations at Mania. Adding the lumberjills (Mickie James in a three-way might have been better) will help. (1/2*)
2 -- C.M. PUNK vs. KENNY DYKSTRA
Punk came to the ring to a very strong reaction in his hometown, but Kenny jumped him before the bell could even ring. The fans quickly rallied behind Punk before he hit a butterfly suplex into a backbreaker. Kenny then crotched Punk on the top turnbuckle and went on the offensive attack. The fans tried to rally with repeated "C-M-Punk" chants, but Kenny kept Punk grounded on the mat. Punk made his comeback with knee strikes before dropping Kenny with a bulldog out of the corner for a nearfall. Punk then nailed Kenny with the Go 2 Sleep for the win.
WINNER: Punk in 4:00. Normally, the formula of young wrestler with a strong following + hometown = embarrassment to humble him. But, Kenny is so low on the totem pole right now and Punk's in a Mania match, so he gets a pass this time. (*1/4)
After the match, we saw Edge clapping sarcastically on the Titantron. He said it must feel nice for Punk to get some momentum heading into Mania. Edge then told Punk he would be involved in a special eight-man MITB edition of the Cutting Edge up next.
Everyone except Edge was in the ring surrounding a ladder and ready to wrestle when we came back from break. Edge then walked out to his full entrance, dressed in street clothes. Edge reminded everyone standing next to him that he's won more ladder matches than all of them combined. He stepped up to Matt Hardy and said he's shocked Matt's even on the card. Matt responded that he's won quite a few ladder matches himself. He said he would beat down Edge until he's flat on his back...like his ex-girlfriend. OOhs and AAhs from the crowd. Edge then took the mic away from Hardy before addressing King Booker. Booker said he realizes some wrestlers have won championships before, but none have reigned as King Bookah. Finlay with a great facial expression before ripping the mic away and said he's sick of the verbal diarrhea in the ring. He made fun of Edge's chin to a big pop. Finlay is the greatest man to live. Orton then took the mic and reminded Edge that he's ducked out every match he's been scheduled for the last month. Edge said that's not true, then Mr. Kennedy took the mic and said it's actually true. Big cheer for Kennedy, who claimed he would be the man to become Mr. Money in the Bank. He went for the Mr. Kennedy intro, but Edge took the mic and sarcastically said it's really riveting to repeat your name. Edge addressed Jeff Hardy to a big pop. Jeff took the mic from Edge and said he would do what he always does in ladder matches: steal the show. He said he would go through his own brother, too. Edge said that's enough, which left only C.M. Punk to talk.
The fans chanted for Punk, then Edge made fun of Punk's "only addiction is competition" gimmick. He said he's addicted to sex, violence, and championships. Punk took the mic and said his addiction is winning MITB. Edge then shoved Punk into Kennedy, setting off a seven-man brawl. Edge left the ring and smiled from the top of the stage as everyone brawled in the ring. The wrestlers then stormed from the ring and chased Edge to the back. Good segment to get everyone some talking time and establish the tension going into MITB.
Maria stood backstage with John Cena for a promo. Huge mix of cheers and boos in the live arena. Maria set the stage for Cena vs. Michaels, then Cena said he knows exactly what's going to happen at Mania. Cena listed all the nicknames of the people who are going to be at Mania, then he paused and said just when it seems there's nothing left, the dust will settle, the smoke will clear, and the two most controversial and intense individuals of all-time will lock horns for the richest prize in wrestling. Cena said the war will be so epic that no one will think about who had whose back, but Maria will be telling her grandkids about the one man who had the nuts to tough it out and have his hand raised high to say "the champ is here". Cena dropped the mic and the mix of cheers and boos returned. Intense promo. More hit than miss. Some corny lines, which is typical for a Cena promo. At least we're not having to analyze bathroom humor these days.
Lashley vs. McMahon up next.
Mr. McMahon walked out in a giant black sweatshirt as we saw footage of McMahon shaving Eugene's head last week. Lillian handled McMahon's ring intro, then Lashley came out. McMahon and Lashley went nose-to-nose as referee Marty stood in between them. McMahon then took the mic and reminded Lashley that he's going to pin him one, two, three. He called for the bell, then McMahon ducked to the outside.
3 -- MR. MCMAHON vs. BOBBY LASHLEY -- non-title match -- No DQ match
Cade and Murdoch hit the ring and attacked Lashley while McMahon watched from the outside. Lashley cleared both men to the outside, then Chris Masters attacked Lashley from behind and tried to put him in the Masterlock, but Lashley countered with a slam. Johnny Nitro then hit the ring and landed kicks to the thigh before Lashley powerslammed him. With the ring cleared, McMahon called for Umaga, who was led to the ring by Armando. Lashley and Umaga then exchanged right hand blows mid-ring six days before Mania. Good heat for the exchange before McMahon snuck in behind Lashley and gave him a low blow. He then shoved Lashley into Umaga for a Samoan Drop. McMahon then covered Lashley and Lashley actually kicked out, but the referee counted to three.
Afterward, Umaga gave Lashley a top rope splash. He then put him in the corner and nailed the running rear splash twice. Lawler said it looks like Donald Trump will be bald at Mania. Umaga waited for Lashley to get up, then he dropped him with the Samoan Spike to the throat. McMahon made another cover, this time for the official pin to win. McMahon wasn't satisfied, so he told Umaga to give Lashley another Samoan Spike to the throat. McMahon, Umaga, and Armando stood tall in the ring to close the segment.
WINNER: McMahon in 3:00. Predictable finish to stack the deck against Lashley heading into Mania. Underwhelming climax of the build-up to hair vs. hair. (1/4*)
We saw a recap of the previous segment, then we saw Mr. McMahon strutting backstage. Todd Grisham cut him off for an interview and congratulated him on the win before saying it was controversial. "That's in poor taste," McMahon said. OK, he really didn't say that. McMahon screamed at Grisham that he did exactly what he guaran-damn-teed, which was to pin Lashley. McMahon then brought out "Mr. Trump," but it was Eugene dressed as a limo driver with a Trump wig on. McMahon said anyone who thinks he'll have his head shaved at Mania is mentally retarded. He then ripped off Eugene's wig and Eugene stroked his bald head with shame. McMahon hopped in his limo and took off.
4 -- RANDY ORTON & MR. KENNEDY vs. MATT & JEFF HARDY
Orton and Kennedy isolated Jeff early on before Jeff caught Kennedy with a Whisper in the Wind. Matt then took a hot tag and ran over Orton with clotheslines. He dropped Kennedy, then Orton with a side effect for a nearfall. The action broke down, then Jeff missed with a corner splash on Kennedy. That allowed Kennedy to shove Matt into Orton for the RKO and the win.
WINNER: Kennedy & Orton in 5:00. About what you'd expect with both teams holding back on big spots for a free TV match after a long house show tour this past weekend. Good win for Orton & Kennedy after taking a handicap match loss to Lashley on Smackdown. The Hardys will quickly erase this loss with a strong performance at Mania. (*)
The final Hall of Fame inductee is Jim Ross. We came back from break with comments from Steve Austin, The Rock, Jerry Lawler, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, JBL, Ron Simmons, Dusty Rhodes, Chris Benoit, and Ric Flair complete with imitations of Ross's favorite catchphrases. Foley said Ross's call of "My God, he's broken in half" when Foley fell off the top of the Hell in a Cell is the greatest sports call of all-time. Triple H said he wouldn't have any other person call one of his big matches. Hunter said he's heard Ross say Gordon Solie is the greatest announcer of all time, but he would tell Ross straight up that he's as good as Solie. Mr. McMahon had some positive comments on Ross here. Austin said he's the greatest ever. Some serious goosebumps with Ross calling the best moments in WWE history. Back live, Lawler stood up and gave Ross an intro. Ross took a lengthy standing ovation as they went silent on the air to let the crowd applause tell the story. Ross choked back tears, then sat down. And for the ultimate buzzkill, Great Khali's music played. Flair then came out to face Khali.
5 -- GREAT KHALI vs. RIC FLAIR
They fought briefly in the ring before Khali took Flair to the outside. He threatened to slam him into the ring steps, but Carlito hit the ringside area and made the save. Khali shook him off, though, and gave Carlito a chokeslam back in the ring. Kane's music then hit and Kane walked to the ring with his hook on a chain. Khali had the advantage before he missed with a corner clothesline and Kane fired up with right hand blows to a big cheer. Khali then bailed from ringside to avoid the hook. Kane's music hit one more time as Khali backed away through the stands.
WINNER: Khali via DQ in 2:00. Misuse of Flair, but what else is new. Good post-match angle to build up Khali vs. Kane, who is more popular now than he's been in several months. (n/a)
We saw a video package on Steve Austin in "The Condemned". They had interviews with Austin, the cast, producers, and the director. Austin said it's a killer, original movie.
Ross and Lawler then plugged the complete Mania card.
They cut backstage where Shawn Michaels stood by himself for a promo. Sure looks like Michaels had a battle with the tanning bed and the he didn't win. He said he's faced John Cena one hundred times despite never facing him before because Cena represents every icon, immortal, legend, and New York Times best-seller he's stood opposite of in the ring. HBK said he's stood the test of time while the others have come and gone. Michaels said he's walking out of Ford Field as WWE Champion. He reminded Cena that he has his back tonight for their main event tag match. The lighting and Michaels's face being deep-fried was a bit of a distraction, which is a shame because he hit all the major points in classic form.
We saw another video package on celebrities saying who should get this head shaved. Ed Asner suggested both men get their head shaved. Holy goodness, it's an Ed Asner appearance on a wrestling show. Where's Verne Gagne when you need him?
John Cena then came out for the main event to a giant cheer/boo reaction. Shawn Michaels followed out and both men circled around the ring before Batista's music hit. After Batista entered the ring, Undertaker made one of his quickest ring entrances since the days of riding a bike to the ring. He barely broke 1:00. Taker then quickly jumped Cena to start the main event.
[Q9 -- over-run]
6 -- WWE Champion JOHN CENA & SHAWN MICHAELS vs. World Hvt. champion BATISTA & THE UNDERTAKER
Taker missed with a corner kick and Cena fired up with right hand blows amidst a loud chorus of boos. Taker then took Cena to the corner for Snake Eyes, but he ducked a boot and went for the FU. Taker set up for a chokeslam, but HBK attacked Taker from behind. Taker avoided a double team move, then Taker and Batista cleared the ring. They slowly turned around and stood off before Cena jumped Taker to more boos. Cena then clotheslined Taker over the top rope, which led to Michaels and Taker fighting on the outside. Really intense early on with a "smoke-filled arena" feel with residue from the fireworks entrances hovering above the ring. Back in the ring, Michaels ripped off a series of chops on Taker before catching him with a swinging neckbreaker. Cena and Taker then went into a standing exchange of right hand blows before Taker caught Cena with a flying clothesline. He then went for a Tombstone, but Batista made a blind tag and clotheslined Cena hard to the mat. Cena came back with a bulldog on Batista, then he made a hot tag to Michaels, who chopped Batista hard. Taker suddenly caught Michaels with a chokeslam grip, but Michaels escaped before accepting a big boot to the face. Batista dropped Cena with a spinebuster, then he called for a powerbomb. Meanwhile, Taker had Michaels in a gorilla press, then he turned around and launched Michaels into Batista. Taker then left the ring, leaving Batista in the ring to take a shoulder tackle from Cena. Michaels then went up top and hit a top rope elbow on Batista. Cena and Michaels then hooked up for a Five Knuckle Shuffle on Batista to a big pop. Out of nowhere, Michaels then nailed Cena with Sweet Chin Music! Holy crap. The crowd popped huge, but then slowly died down before Batista rolled on top of Cena and covered him for the win as Michaels looked down on him.
Afterward, Michaels waited for Batista to roll out of the ring, then he did Cena's You Can't See Me right in his face. Michaels did crotch chops, then DX's music played and he walked off to a huge reaction. Ross said they would be right back. Bonus Raw time.
WINNERS: Batista & Taker in 5:00. Amazing heat for this main event. The "smoky arena" was an unplanned bonus, as it added a unique feel to the main event. Michaels hesitated just a smidgen right before giving Cena the superkick, so it wasn't quite the surprise like when he dropped Hogan to set up Summerslam 2005, but a memorable moment nonetheless. Terrific build-up to the two main event Mania matches. (**)
After the break, we came back for a replay of Michaels giving Cena the Sweet Chin Music. Ross then posed the question of whether Michaels would be able to capture the title at Mania.
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