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CALDWELL'S WWE RAW REPORT 2/25: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live show

Feb 25, 2008 - 10:05:28 PM

By James Caldwell, Torch columnist

WWE Raw Live Report
February 25, 2008
Phoenix, Arizona

The show opened with a video recap of how John Cena got into the WWE Title match at WrestleMania when he pinned Randy Orton with Triple H as special referee. The recap ended with shots of Triple H standing tall following double Pedigrees.

In-ring: John Cena, William Regal, Randy Orton, and Triple H were already in the ring to start the show. Cheers for Hunter, boos for Orton, mix for Cena. Regal set the stage for the WrestleMania title match, and he's arranged for a photo op tonight. Regal told them to line up for prosperity's sake. The "photographers" ringside started snapping away on photos. Hunter took this casually while the other two posed for a fight.

John Cena then took the mic first and said where he comes from, people are a man and say things to their face. He then looked right in Hunter's eyes. Cena said he should thank for Hunter as special referee last week, but he can't say he's too thrilled about the Pedigree he received as congratulations. Hunter smirked and said he didn't do Cena any favors because he did what was right. He said he wants Cena in the ring at Mania. Hunter said a lot of fans didn't appreciate the Pedigree (boos), but a lot of people did (cheers). He said Cena better get used to it because he's getting the same thing at Mania.

Cena reminded Hunter that there's only been one Cena vs. Hunter match-up and Hunter was the one who tapped out. (Boos). Hunter's smirk turned upside down, then he took off his leather jacket. Randy Orton finally stepped in as the others had a stare down. Orton said one thing is going to remain the same. "I am still the WWE champion," he sternly said. Orton said both of them have given him their best shot, but he's still sporting the title around his shoulder. Orton took Cena's catchphrase and said the champ is here. He said there's nothing either one of them can do about it.

Cena and Hunter then snapped to attention and teamed up to chuck Orton out of the ring. With the trash cleaned out, Hunter and Cena exchanged blows in mid-ring. Suddenly, Orton came out of nowhere and dropped Hunter with the RKO. Cena was staggered by Hunter, so he turned around and took an RKO from Orton. Both men were knocked out as Orton stood tall in center ring with the belt held high. Ross rhetorically asked if this is what we're going to see at the Citrus Bowl at Mania.

[Commercial Break]

Backstage: Randy Orton was walking confidently when Mr. Kennedy walked up to him and said he wanted to share a word. Kennedy said that he's winning Money in the Bank this year, so he wanted to put Orton on notice that if he retains at Mania, then he's going after the belt. Orton called him Ken, which Kennedy quickly corrected him on. Orton said he can make all the threats he wants, but he's walking out of Mania as WWE champion. "We'll see about that," Kennedy said.


In-ring: Maria, Santino, and Carlito came to the ring. Maria was sporting a Playboy bunny top. Carlito just kind of followed along like he'd rather be anywhere else but wrestling. The tag champs of Holly & Cody came out next. First match tonight is a repeat of the every-other-week program.

1 -- World tag champs HARDCORE HOLLY & CODY RHODES vs. SANTINO MARELLA & CARLITO (w/Maria) -- non-title match

Santino and Cody started things off with Santino taking advantage of Carlito's knee to the back from the apron. The heels then took turns working over Cody. Lawler was too preoccupied with Maria to be concerned about the match. Holly eventually got the hot tag at 2:00 and the action stalled again. Lawler then chucked his crown at Maria to finally get her attention. Santino got distracted when he spotted Maria talking to Lawler, allowing Holly to give Santino the Alabama Slam for the win. Afterward, Santino screamed at Jerry stupid Lawler for interrupting. Ross said Maria's Playboy is on-sale March 7.

WINNERS: Holly & Rhodes in 4:00. The longest four minutes I can remember in some time on a wrestling show. No one can invest any emotion in the in-ring action when Maria is ringside as the most important figure in the match, and Lawler's commentary is produced to be all about Maria in Playboy. (n/a)

[Commercial Break]

Announcers: Ross and Lawler talked about the hype for Floyd Mayweather vs. Big Show. They rolled footage from the last eight days building up the hype for the Mania match. ... Back ringside, Ross and Lawler talked about the hype at Staples Center earlier today. Lawler rhetorically asked what Mayweather could be thinking. He said Mayweather's career will be over after Big Show smashes him like Goliath. They went to footage from the press conference, which showcased all of the top feuds at Mania. The video package focused on Big Show telling Mayweather he's going to show him how real wrestling is at Mania. They closed with the clip of Mayweather standing on a chair to face Show at near-even height.


Backstage: Todd Grisham brought in William Regal for an announcement on tonight's main event. Regal said nothing sells a big match like conflict. He said there will be a tag match tonight: Kennedy & Orton vs. Hunter & Cena. Regal was so ecstatic, he could barely get the announcement out. Suddenly, Chris Jericho showed up and Regal made fun of his hair. They exchanged hair blows, then Jericho said he wants to be in the Money in the Bank match at Mania. Regal told him he must qualify like everyone else. He said since he's so special, he'll be facing Jeff Hardy tonight. Regal said that match is next. Jericho got in one more blow on Regal's attire before leaving.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Jeff Hardy came to the ring to his new entrance music. Eh. At least fans are responding, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Chris Jericho came out next for his qualifying match after Jeff qualified last week.

2 -- JEFF HARDY vs. CHRIS JERICHO -- Jericho's Money in the Bank qualifying match

The bell sounded and the fans were clearly behind Hardy to start things off. After a brief feeling-out process, Hardy charged Jericho against the ropes and Jericho flipped him to the apron. Jericho went for a leaping kick, but Hardy ducked and went up top for a crossbody splash, resulting in a nearfall. Ross said they didn't even see Jericho last week because he was so battered and bruised following the Chamber match eight days ago. Jericho went on the offensive with hard chops to the chest, then Hardy ducked a clothesline and catapulted Jericho clear over the top rope to the floor. Hardy measured Jericho on the floor, but missed with a baseball slide and landed on his feet. Both men then hopped back into the ring and had a staredown before they cut to a break.

[Commercial Break]


They returned with Jericho stretching Hardy in mid-ring. Jericho then started toying with Hardy with arrogant kicks to the head. Not enough to damage Hardy, but enough to show he's the heel in the match. Suddenly, they had a mid-air collision with neither man getting the best of the situation. They recovered and Hardy went on the offensive with a swinging clothesline. He then blocked a running bulldog and sent Jericho into the corner turnbuckle. Hardy followed with a swinging two-foot dropkick for a nearfall. Hardy then went for the Whisper in the Wind, but Jericho blocked and nearly got his head smashed in the process. Hardy then knocked Jericho off the top turnbuckle and came off the top with a moonsault. He fell on top of Jericho kinda awkwardly for a pin, but Jericho kicked out just before three. Hardy then followed with a reverse 'rana attempt, but Jericho blocked and stepped through into the Walls of Jericho in center ring. Hardy managed to grab the ropes, though, and blocked the hold.

At 11:00, Jericho started stomping on Hardy in frustration. Hardy came back with a front suplex, then went up top for the Swanton Bomb, but Jericho moved. Jericho then hit the lionsault, but Hardy kicked out just before three. Oh, what a close fall. Suddenly, Hardy with an inside cradle for a surprise nearfall. They had a great exchange of pin attempts, then Jericho finally rolled through on a bridge pin for the three count and the win. Oh man what a final two minutes. After the match, Jericho stood tall and smiled at Hardy to say he was better tonight. Hardy gave a slight nod of acknowledgement. Jericho and Hardy then looked up at the Mania sign hanging over the ringside area to acknowledge what they're competing for.

WINNER: Chris Jericho in 13:00. Really good TV match. Really good. Even when some things looked clunky around 10:00, it worked because it was in the context of a match inside the wrestling ring. Great final two minutes of nearfalls and pin exchanges. (***1/2)

Announcers: Ross and Lawler recapped the Hornswoggle angle last week. They cut to Vince McMahon backstage, who was gleefully getting his hair in order for an apology that Ross plugged.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Vince McMahon strutted to the ring in a nice suit. Ross said Hornswoggle is still under doctor's care following last week's brutal beating. The camera focused on various signs ripping on McMahon. McMahon took the mic and said he's about to say something he's never had to say before. He said he made a mistake for the first time in his life. McMahon said he made a mistake for allowing his own son to be put in jeopardy. He said he just wanted to show his son tough love, but he didn't want what happened last week to happen.

[Q5 -- second-hour]

McMahon talked about JBL's attack on Hornswoggle last week, and he addressed Hornswoggle. "I apologize," he said. The fans booed. He said he's not the only one to apologize tonight. McMahon said the person who put his son under doctor's care is going to apologize as well. He said that person is going to come out right now. JBL's music eventually hit and he came out with an expressionless stare on his face. He entered the ring and the boos came down on him. McMahon said he ought to beat the hell out of him right now. He demanded an explanation from JBL. He said JBL's only responsibility was to handle Finlay so he could show Hornswoggle tough love.

JBL just stared at McMahon without making an offer to talk. McMahon said he wants the apology now. JBL paused, collected his thoughts, then said, "I'm sorry." Boos. JBL said he's sorry ... that he didn't do it sooner. JBL said he has it on good advice that Hornswoggle is not McMahon's son. Oh geez. JBL said this ruse that made McMahon look like a fool goes all the way to the top of the WWE family. He said Hornswoggle isn't his son. JBL said Hornswoggle is Finlay's son. Oh, here we go. McMahon said he doesn't whether to believe this or not. He said it makes some sense, as members of his family are rotten to the core. McMahon said he never could understand how he produced that mutant from his loins.

McMahon then snapped to attention and asked if Hornswoggle is after his money. JBL said Hornswoggle never knew McMahon wasn't his father; Finlay knew the whole thing the entire time. He said he can produce some proof. McMahon said he wants proof or JBL is taking a beating. JBL said Finlay is guilty as hell. He said next time Finlay is in a WWE ring, he's going to make Finlay admit it. JBL stormed off, leaving McMahon in the ring muttering to himself about who he thought was his son. Crowd lost interest about a minute into this. Another twist in WWE's attempt to back out of the "McMahon's son" storyline from several months ago.

Backstage: Triple H was lacing up his boots in his locker room when John Cena stepped in. Hunter tongue-in-cheek ran through the cliché of you don't like me, I don't like you, but we have to team together. He told Cena just to make sure he doesn't lose. Cena said he didn't come in here to talk strategy. He said he approached him to say don't watch my back because I won't be watching yours.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Umaga came to the ring and Ross hyped Umaga for taking every single finishing move before finally being eliminated in the Chamber eight days ago. D.H. Smith then jogged to the ring ready for a match.

3 -- UMAGA vs. D.H. SMITH

Umaga quickly clotheslined Smith over the top rope to the floor before taking him back into the ring to land a series of chops. Umaga went up top and landed a leaping splash. He then measured Smith in the corner and landed the running rear splash that rocked Smith's head back. Umaga waited for Smith to roll out of the corner, then he picked him up and landed the Samoan Spike. Umaga with the cover for the win.

WINNER: Umaga in 2:00. Well, I suppose that will serve as young Smith's on-air punishment for a Wellness violation months ago. Or something like that. (1/2*)


Backstage: Regal gushed over Umaga while talking to Burchill and Katie Lea. Regal then gabbed a letter that Vickie Guerrero sent him asking for a top Raw superstar to face a top Smackdown superstar at Mania. Regal said he's going to send Umaga. Katie then tried to seduce Regal into sending Burchill. Regal wasn't impressed. He said Burchill has a bright future, but he needs to show him some more. Burchill said he understands, and he's always ready to have another one of these little chats. Katie left, then Burchill whispered to Regal that she likes him. So, Burchill is pimping his sister. Got it.

Tomorrow night on ECW, it's Santino & Layla vs. Kofi & Kelly Kelly.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade were in the ring ready for a match. Cade looks like he was put in the oven 20 minutes too long. Hideous tan. Shawn Michaels then came out to face Kentucky Fried Cade.

4 -- SHAWN MICHAELS vs. LANCE CADE (w/Trevor Murdoch)

Michaels leveraged Cade into a backslide for a nearfall in the early going. Cade came back with a neck vice on the mat. He then missed with a high-risk move and Michaels came off the top with a top rope elbow smash. He warmed up the band for a superkick, but Murdoch distracted him. Michaels ducked a clothesline, then he slapped on a modified figure four. Murdoch hit the ring, though, and attacked Michaels to cause a DQ. The ref tried to restrain them, then Michaels made his post-match comeback with Sweet Chin Music on Murdoch, then Cade. Michaels came up bleeding from the nose and Ross said Michaels may have re-broken his nose. Michaels smiled for the hard camera, then he wiped his nose.

WINNER: Michaels via DQ in 4:00. Just a transition to the post-match. Not a good use of Michaels in the ring. (3/4*)


Post-match continued: With Michaels still cleaning his nose, Ric Flair's music hit and he strutted down to the ring. Michaels got down on his knees and gave him a bow, but Flair told him to get up. They hugged, then Flair took the mic and thanked the crowd for their applause. Flair said Michaels is incredible. He said he was so honored last week to have Michaels introduce him as the first active wrestler to ever be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Michaels interjected that no one deserves it more. Flair said this is a highlight of his career. He said there's only one thing to make it more magical. Flair said he wants to wrestle the Showstopper, Shawn Michaels. Flair said he wants him at Mania. Michaels quietly shook his head and said that several months ago, McMahon make an edict about Flair retiring on his next loss.

Michaels said he's done some things in wrestling that he's very ashamed of, but he can't be the guy who ended Flair's career. Michaels said he doesn't want that. Flair said that's not where he was going with that. He said he needs to make it clearer. Flair said all the respect that he paid him last week about him means nothing if Michaels doesn't give him the opportunity to have the greatest match of his career on the grandest stage of all. Michaels continued to shake his head, then he looked down at the mat in despair. Michaels then looked up and said it would be his honor to wrestle Flair at WrestleMania. Michaels extended his hand and they shook hands. Flair pulled him in for a hug, then they both looked at the Mania sign hanging above the arena. They left the ring together. Very good, deliberate segment.

Video: They showed a clip of Shaquille O'Neal in action for the Phoenix Suns, then they aired a sit-down promo from Shaq about Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather. Shaq said Mayweather will break his nose again. Shaq said Show is a big athlete and he's very agile for his size, but he talks too much. Shaq said Mayweather has quickness and power going for him as the greatest fighter in the world. He said both men love to fight and neither man quits. Shaq said it could be one of the greatest boxer vs. wrestler matches in WWE history. Well, I certainly hope so since we're working on Butterbean vs. Bart Gunn as the most notable one.

[Commercial Break]

Ringside: Mike Adamle talked about Flair being the first Hall of Fame inductee. He then introduced a video on High Chief Peter Maivia as the next Hall of Fame inductee. They showed The Rock, Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson, Jim Ross, Ata Maivia, and Afa doing promos about High Chief. Next to be introduced was Rocky Johnson. They showed clips of Rocky's physical look and ability to be a star. The Rock talked about Rocky dealing with prejudice at the time when he was hot in the business. They showed a clip when Rocky & Atlas were the first African-Americans to win the WWE Tag Titles. Great segment. ... Back ringside, Ross said The Rock will induct both his father and grandfather into the Hall of Fame. Lawler talked about Rock doing a presentation last night at the Oscars, but it won't compare to his honor at WrestleMania weekend.


Announcers continued: Lawler plugged Candice & Maria vs. Beth Phoenix & Melina in a Playboy bunny match at WrestleMania. They went to footage of Maria's Playboy photo shoot. She did a voice-over on the "fashion shoot with fewer clothes." Maria said that for anyone to tell a girl you look hot naked, it makes you feel good. Next week is the Playboy cover unveiling. ... Ross and Lawler plugged the big tag match main event next.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Mr. Kennedy came to the ring first for the main event. No promo, as he's too focused on the match at hand. WWE champion Randy Orton came out next. He took his sweet old time. And he can do that because he's the champion. All eyes on him. Triple H came out first for the babyface tandem. Ross said that if you can win the Elimination Chamber, then you are one nasty sonofagun. John Cena then came out to the typical mixed reaction.


The bell sounded, but Hunter and Cena couldn't decide who should start. So, the heels tried to take advantage, but Cena and Hunter easily cleared them from the ring. Cut to a break with Cena and Hunter having a stare down.

[Commercial Break]

They returned with Cena scoring a nearfall on Kennedy. Cena then made a tag to Hunter, who landed a blow on Kennedy. Ross said the action during the break was rather chaotic. Hunter then caught a back elbow smash from Kennedy, but Hunter came right back with a spinebuster and he posed right in Cena's face before tagging out to Cena.

[Q9 -- over-run]

Cena came in and threw some right hand blows on Kennedy before telling Hunter to tag in. Hunter took the tag, then gave Cena a crotch chop for good measure. Kennedy took advantage of Hunter being distracted and he caught Hunter with a blow to the legs. Orton then tagged in and stomped Hunter up and down his body. Kennedy took a tag and the heels started working over Hunter in their corner. Orton then dropped Hunter square in center ring with the horizontal DDT for a nearfall. Hunter finally escaped Kennedy's grasp, but Orton cut him off before Hunter could make a tag. Orton then silenced Hunter with a fallaway backbreaker. He stalked Hunter for the RKO, but Hunter shoved him away and finally made the tag to Cena. Cena teed off on Kennedy, who also took a tag. He then measured Kennedy for the sit-out slam and called for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, which he delivered. Cena then took Kennedy up for the FU, but Orton pulled Kennedy down. The action then broke down in center ring. Kennedy went for the mic check, but Cena slapped on the STFU and Kennedy tapped out in about two seconds.

After the match, Hunter stalked Cena as if he were going for the Pedigree, but he let up when Cena turned around slightly. Cena went into a fighting pose with the Mania banner hanging above the ring. Kennedy then surprised Cena from behind with the mic check. He left the ring, and Hunter stared down at Cena. Ross and Lawler speculated as to whether Hunter saw Kennedy sneaking up and he let Kennedy drop Cena with his finisher. The show closed with Kennedy's new music and Hunter staring down at Cena. Ross said Hunter is standing tall this week, but asked who will survive next week.

WINNERS: Cena & Hunter in 10:00. OK main event match. The show ended with a bit of a thud post-match, but fine TV action to get all the big stars at the end of the show. (*3/4)

We welcome your 1-10 score and comments on this show for a "Raw Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of To contribute your thoughts on Raw, click here.

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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.

He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.

He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).

He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)


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