SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The following was published on the PWTorch VIP site ten years ago this week…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
APRIL 21, 2008
LIVE ON USA NETWORK FROM GREENVILLE, S.C.
WHAT HAPPENED: 1ST HOUR
-Pryo blasted as the camera panned the crowd. I wonder if the pyro is “green” as NBC Universal Stations have all gone “green” with an environmental message today including changing USA’s logo to green. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show. They noted that all three presidential candidates would address WWE Raw, then WWE would present its own Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama debate. Ross the centerpiece of the show was the King of the Ring tournament. He threw to Lilian Garcia who introduced the return of the King of the Ring tournament. No mentions of the previous King of the Ring, King Booker T.
1 — CHRIS JERICHO vs. MVP – King of the Ring Quarter-Finals
MVP dominated the vasty majority of the first nine minutes. Jericho made a comeback, but missed a Lionsault which hurt MVP as much as if he actually landed it. MVP went for the Playmaker (the name of which Jim Ross apparently didn’t know right off) and Jericho reversed it into the Walls of Jericho for a surprise tapout. After the mach Jericho sat in the throne and soaked up the prestige of the potential role as king of WWE. MVP had a nasty goose egg on his head from an overly stiff miscalculated forearm from Jericho, nothing new from him.
WINNER: Jericho in 5:00 via tapout.
STAR RATING: 3/4* — MVP has too much potential to feature him in such a nonchalant jobbing situation. It’s not that Jericho’s not higher than MVP in the hierarchy, because he is, but MVP deserves to be better protected than a meaningless clean tapout in such a short match, especially when Ross and Lawler aren’t making it seem like a bigger deal for Smackdown’s longtime U.S. Champ to lose to Raw’s I.C. Champ.
-They showed C.M. Punk rolling his wrists backstage. Ross wondered aloud if he was in the King of the Ring tonight.
2 — C.M. PUNK vs. MATT HARDY – King of the Ring Quarter-Finals
I know it’s his “thing,” but that wrist rotation thing Punk does makes me want to see him get beat up. Punk took a deep breath when he heard Hardy’s music play. It’s too risky to do on live TV, but it’d be fascinating to watch matches between wrestlers who really didn’t know until ring introductions whom they were facing and didn’t know until the ref told them before the bell how long they had and who was going over and how. Lawler asked Ross if he had ever won a King of the Ring tournament before since his wife says he spends a lot of time on the throne. After a test of strength, Punk settled into a basic chinlock. A minute later they went into back and forth action with Hardy scoring a near fall after a Side Effect. He set up a Twist of Fate. Punk countered with a Go 2 Sleep attempt. Hardy countered with a sunset flip attempt, but Punk sat down on it and scored a leverage pin. That sets up a Punk vs. Jericho semi-final match. Punk also tried out the throne.
WINNER: Punk in 4:00.
STAR RATING: 3/4* — Pretty short and a bit of a surprise finish, but this could have gone either way. Punk has the Money in the Bank briefcase, so he probably shouldn’t be doing high profile jobs at this time.
-Ross and Lawler plugged the Hillary vs. Obama skit later.
-They went to a videogame rendition of an Obama vs. Clinton match from the “Smackdown vs. Raw: 2008” videogame. Hillary was played by Mickie James’s character (ring intro, characteristics, mannerisms) but was made over to look like Hillary. Obama was played by Batista (ring intro, mannerisms), but looked just like Obama.
-Clips aired from Raw between Triple H, JBL, and Orton. Then Ross and Lawler plugged the line-up for Backlash. Ross announced that the four-way main event had become an Elimination Match with all four men in the ring at once to start.
-A promo aired with JBL. He predicted he’d become the King of the Ring. He also bragged about making the front page of the New York Times business section. The article on his new venture headlined: “Selling Chat on Fox, and a Sex-Enhancing Potion on the Side.” He said on Sunday he won’t just be news, but he’ll be “champion.”
-Great Khali stepped out onto the stage and sat on the throne. Ross said the King of the Ring “just got bigger.”
3 — THE GREAT KHALI vs. FINLAY (w/Hornswoggle) – King of the Ring Quarter-Finals
Khali outpowered Finlay early. Finlay came back with a low dropkick that completely missed. He quickly went into a barrage of forearms which Khali blocked with his forearms. Khali then grabbed Finlay’s throat and shoved him into the corner. Hornswoggle entered the ring wiht a shillelagh.Khali yanked it away. Finlay shoved Hornswoggle out of the ring to safety. Khali chopped Finlay’s head. Hornswoggle hid under the ring. Khali stepped to ringside and yanked Finlay’s left leg around the ringpost. We got an up close extended look at the new Raw logo on the ringposts as Khali yanked Finlay’s leg over and over into the ringpost. The ref DQ’d Khali.
WINNER: Finlay via DQ in 2:00.
-After the match, Big Show’s music played and Show walked deliberately toward the ring. Lawler said Show vs. Khali will literally be the biggest match in WWE history. Khali backed off as Show approached him. Show entered the ring and Khali slowly lumbered away while “trash talking” and pointing at Show as he retreated. I just don’t get the sense Khali has any idea what he’s supposed to be doing out there.
-They showed Finlay being helped to the back since he couldn’t put weight on his leg.
4 — WILLIAM REGAL vs. HORNSWOGGLE – King of the Ring Quarter-Finals
Finlay ran up to grab Hornswoggle away from Finlay, who was unable to do anything with his injured leg. Regal tossed Hornswoggle into the ring. Regal stared him down as the bell rang to start the match. Regal charged at Hornswoggle and knocked him over, then applied the Regal Stretch for an immediate tapout. What a great tournament. This is one for the ages. No wonder they didn’t announce the brackets ahead of time.
WINNER: Regal in 0:15.
-After the match, Finlay limped into the ring to protect Hornswoggle. Regal kicked him in the leg, then rolled to the floor. Officials tended to Finlay. Ross wondered if he’d be able to compete in the semi-finals.
-They showed Shawn Michaels approaching the entrance set backstage.
-A video feature aired on WWE’s tour of Europe.
-Shawn Michaels made a full ring intro. Michaels said he didn’t expect to be talking every week about Ric Flair after his match with him at WrestleMania. He said he had a question for Batista. Batista’s full ring entrance took place. Michaels said last Friday night on Smackdown, Jericho asked him a question. He said he didn’t answer him. He said he doesn’t trust anything Jericho says, but he touched on something. He asked if he wanted to be the man to face Flair at WrestleMania. Batista asked if it’d make him feel better if he said yes. He said he can’t give him that satisfaction. He said this is now about “you and me.” He said he respects where he’s at in his career, but he doesn’t like the way he got there. He said he’s sick and tired of talking about it, so the last thing he’s going to say to him is: “You can point your finger all you want; you can make accusations all you want; at Backlash, I’m gonna finish this.” Michaels tilted his head and half-smiled. “Well, Dave, I appreciate your honesty,” Michaels shot back. “Since we’re being so honest, I have a little confession of my own to make. I’m everything that you say that I am.” He went through his list of nicknames, and ended with, “Whether anyone likes it or not, I am the man.” He admitted he has blood on his hands. He said the casualties along the way are called collateral damage. He brought up his match on Smackdown against The Undertaker. He said the man he believes he’s morally superior to because he’ll do anything he can to win is the guy he’s going to face at Backlash. he wished him luck and said he’d need it. Michaels extended a hand. Batista shook it. Batista held on longer than Michaels and yanked him in close for a staredown and a little intimidation. Batista dropped the mic and bumped shoulders with Michaels as he left the ring. Michaels stood looking down at the mat with his back to Batista. An “HBK” chant broke out. Batista shot another look back at Michaels half way to the back. Batista’s music played. Michaels remained still in the ring.
WHAT HAPPENED: 2ND HOUR
-Ross plugged the eight-man tag main event scheduled as the TV main event: Undertaker & Kane & John Cena & Triple H vs. Chavo Guerrero & JBL & Randy Orton & Edge. Lawler also hyped the presidential candidates would be speaking next.
-Ross and Lawler threw to the videos by the candidates. Hillary Clinton went first. She said tonight fans can call her Hill-Rod. She said the last man standing in the election may be a woman. She said the next president will face challenges from the opening bell. She listed as key issues: Economy, Bringing Troops Home from Iraq, and Making College Affordable. She said she’s been knocked down and has always gotten back up. She said she’s willing to take a hit for the American people. She said if things get tough she may have to deliver a People’s Elbow. She said Randy Orton is safe for now because she’s going to concentrate on politics, but when it comes to the American people, she’s ready to rumble.
5 — HARDCORE HOLLY (w/Cody Rhodes) vs. CARLITO (w/Santino Marella)
Ross said Carlito and Santino meshed well together on the latest international tour. Holly’s back gave out when he went for an Alabama Slam, then Carlito fired back with a Back Stabber for the win. After the match, Santino told Holly and Cody to get used to losing. He said Cody is a boy and Holly’s friend, so that makes him a boyfriend. Cody yanked the mic from him and asked if he ever shuts up. He said if he says another word, he’s going to smack him in the head with the microphone. Santino said he can’t talk to him like that. Cody hit him over the head with the mic. Holly and Cody cleared the ring of the two heels.
WINNER: Carlito in 4:00.
-A split screen showed Jericho and Punk heading toward the entrance tunnel.
-Ross plugged the four-way at Backlash. They went to a pretapedpromo with Triple H. He said they can talk, but it’s just words. On Sunday they have a chance to prove who is the best. Three will fall and one will emerge as the standard-bearer knowing he is without a shadow of the doubt the best of the best. He said with every bit of his being, he promised it will be him. He said it’s up to Orton, JBL, and Cena to prove him wrong. He was in ultra-serious mode.
6 — CHRIS JERICHO vs. C.M. PUNK – King of the Ring Semi-Finals
Jericho snap suplexed Punk over the top rope, but it was a clumsy move which Ross called “just ugly.” On the first attempt, Punk’s feet caught the ropes on the way up. The second top, Punk was dropped over the top rope awkwardly. Just as sloppy as it gets these days on national TV. They went into a nice serious of pin attempts and counters. At 4:00 Jericho applied a Walls of Jericho mid-ring. Punk struggled to move toward the bottom rope. He eventually did. Punk knocked Jericho off balance with an enzuigiri. He followed up with a Go To Sleep for the win.
WINNER: Punk in 6:00.
STAR RATING: *1/2 — Basic match with a few highs and a couple sloppy lows. Six minutes of a semi-final between an emerging star and a long-term major player seems too short. Credit goes to WWE for gutsy clean finishes between pushed wrestlers.
-An ECW commercial hyped “The Cutting Edge” with Kane as Edge’s guest.
-The Barack Obama video aired. He read his cue-cards which were too far away from the camera lens. He threw in references to King of the Ring and other wrestling terms. He said he has one question, “Do you smell what Barack is cooking?” He laughed after saying it. He seemed charming, the lighting and positioning of his cue cards took away from it. He was concise compared to Clinton. It’s quite a coup for WWE to get all three candidates to play along like this.
7 — WILLIAM REGAL vs. FINLAY – King of the Ring Semi-Finals
As Regal walked to the ring, Ross wondered if Finlay would be able to fight. Finlay limped to the ring seconds later. Lawler and Ross agreed Finlay isn’t one to back down from a fight. Regal went after Finlay’s leg early. Finlay came back at 3:00 with some forearms and a kneelift. He went for a backslide. Regal avoided it, but Finlay leveraged him down for a two count anyway. Regal hit Finlay with a kneelift right afterward and applied the Regal Stretch. Finlay’s eyes rolled into the back of his head. The ref called for the bell, determining Finlay could not continue.
WINNER: Regal in 4:00.
STAR RATING: 3/4*
-Ross plugged the eight-man tag.
-Sen. John McCain’s video aired next. He got into it, cutting an old-school promo. He used catch-phrases from Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, among others. He vowed to introduced Osama Bin Laden to the Undertaker. He said fans don’t watch WWE because they’re bitter, but instead to celebrate their freedom. He asked if you could smell what The Mac is cookin’. He told fans to vote and decide who the champion will be. He closed, “That’s the bottom line because John McCain said so.”
-Ross and Lawler thanked the candidates and again plugged the Pennsylvania primary tomorrow night. They went on to plug the Backlash line-up. A soundbite promo aired with John Cena. He said his message to the other three is they have to go through him to get to the title at Backlash and they know he’ll make them earn it. “Questioned about my resolve will be answered at Backlash; I will make them earn it because I’m locked, loaded, and ready to bring down the thunder.”
-The ring was being adorned with red, white, and blue banners and balloons. I was hoping that video game match was the end of this.
-A video aired on WWE’s community work in promoting reading. The Miz, C.M. Punk, and Matt Striker were pictured at a charity event.
WHAT HAPPENED: 3RD HOUR
-Lilian Garcia introduced Hillary Clinton as a devoted Hulkamaniac. A lousy impersonator of Hillary (she looked more like Elizabeth Edwards) walked out with a Bill Clinton impersonator. Lawler said, “I can’t believe Bill Clinton is here, too.” Bill tripped trying to get into the ring. Lawler laughed uproariously. They cupped their ears and the fans booed. Hillary fended off Bill who tried to steal the spotlight by posing. She said she could handle it and it was her time now. Had this Hillary impersonator even ever seen Hillary before? She had none of her mannerisms. She asked what fans would do when the super delegates run wild on you. Then she posed. Ugh.
The Obama impersonator came out next. A tall, sorta thin black guy walked out with huge fake ears. Lawler said that looks like a buffet to Mike Tyson. He opened with, “Finally, Barrack has come back to South Carolina!” He cut a promo on the two Clinton jaboronis. He asked if that’s what they think. Bill Clinton interrupted and said Jesse Jackson once asked him what he thought, and he told him “change is a concept…” Barrack interrupted and said, “It doesn’t matter what you think.” Lawler kept laughing because that’s what he’s paid to do. The crowd was largely silent and cat called the skit. Ross said he thinks the talking is over and “we’re ready for some physicality.” The ref checked Hillary and Obama for foreign objects. She didn’t let the ref touch her. Bill said she doesn’t let him touch her and it’s been years since she’s leg a man touch him. Hillary took Obama down, then kicked him in the gut as soon as he got up. She bodyslammed him and then hit a legdrop. Obama kicked out and came back with a Rock Bottom and The People’s Elbow, but Bill tripped Obama from ringside. Umaga’s music played. As Umaga walked out, Ross said he didn’t know he had an interest in politics. The bell rang again. Umaga, minus dreadlocks, grabbed Obaa and gave him the Samoan Spike. Bill walked up to Umaga and said he must be them. He introduced Umaga to Hillary. maga screamed. Bill ran out of the ring, leaving Hillary behind. Umaga grabbed her and gave her the Samoan Drop. Ross encouraged fans in Pennsylvania to Smackdown Their Vote tomorrow night.
-Ross and Lawler thanked the candidates for appearing on Raw. Ross wished Hillary and Obama luck tomorrow. How can you wish both luck and mean it?
-A gaggle of Divas walked to the ring to Maria music. Maria, Ashley, Candice Michelle, Cherry, and Kelly Kelly stood together in the ring. Maria said Mickie James did the seemingly impossible last week in beating “Glamazon” Beth Phoenix. A clip aired of Mickie’s win. Ashley invited Mickie to the ring. This is a good idea to really celebrate her title win a week later with a ring full of congratulations, just as Dusty Rhodes always got after he won titles. It makes title wins seem so much more important when friends of a top babyface are shown elated at a heel going down and losing a title. Maria congratulated her. Mickie said they’re all so sweet. She said it’s a shining example of never give up and never say never. Glamazon’s music interrupted Mickie as Mickie said the belt means everything to her.
Glamazon walked to the ring with four heel divas – Jillian Hall, Victoria, Melina, and Natalia. Glamazon said they aren’t all best of friends, but listening to their lovefest prompted them to come to the ring and break up the party. She said Mickie may have the Women’s Championship, but the question isn’t whether she’ll win it back, but when. Glamazon called Mickie’s diva friends “inferior divas.” She said it’s a slap in the face. Candice said, “No, this is a slap in the face,” then she slapped Glamazon. A brawl broke out with everyone. The babyfaces cleared the ring of the five heels.
-Ross plugged the King of the Ring finals between Regal and Punk.
-A Mr. Kennedy video aired hyping his return next week.
8 — WILLIAM REGAL vs. C.M. PUNK – King of the Ring Finals
Lawler said Punk had a much tougher road to the finals than Regal. Punk countered Regal early offense with a series of four front kicks to Regal’s face. Ross brought up Punk’s “Straight Edge” lifestyle – not doing drugs, not drinking alcohol, not smoking, not eating meat, not consuming dairy, eating only organic, locally grown vegetables, and using only green products to clean his bathrooms. Or something like that. At 5:00 Punk took Regal down with a roundhouse kick to the side of his head. Regal held onto the top rope to avoid a Go To Sleep, then went for a Regal Stretch. He softened Punk’s resistance with a series of punches which was a nice touch. Punk tapped out.
WINNER: Regal in 6:00.
STAR RATING: *1/2 — Short, but some nice content in there. If this is the beginning of a push for Regal as a serious heel wrestler, I’m all for it. He can cut promos and has the skills to be an entertaining main eventer as long as he picks up the pace of his average match by about 40 percent.
-Regal stood on the throne afterward on stage. Ross said he couldn’t believe it. Lawler went from saying he was speechless to saying Regal “certainly earned it.”
-Randy Orton walked out to his full ring entrance. He grabbed the mic and said he’s tired of hearing everyone say they’re going to win his title at Backlash. He said he has nothing to say about it except: No Mercy, Armageddon, Survivor Series, The Royal Rumble, No Way Out, and WrestleMania 24. He said those are all events at which he’s had successful title defenses. He said there is nothing anyone can do about the fact that at Backlash he will remain WWE Champion.
JBL’s ring intro was next. They showed a screen shot of the article on JBL in the New York Times. They cut out the part of the headline talking about his sexual enhancement product. When Edge came out, Lawler said, “If you’re not talking about him, he’s not listening.”
9 — RANDY ORTON & JBL & CHAVO GUERRERO & EDGE & vs. TRIPLE H & JOHN CENA & KANE & UNDERTAKER
Chavo’s ring entrance took place during the commercial. Lawler plugged Edge on the cover of the latest WWE Magazine. Ross said it’s a compelling, revealing read. Then came ring intros for Triple H, John Cena, Kane, and Undertaker. Interesting order. No surprise Taker’s was last given the nature of it (and his tenure), but Cena felt like just another wrestler by being second out of four. At 10:53 p.m. the match finally began after about ten minutes for ring introductions. Edge jump-started the match going after Taker from behind. Taker fired back with a flying clothesline and a top rope walk into a forearm. He knocked interfering heels to the floor. They cut to a break.
Edge was on offense against Triple H after the break. He charged at Triple H for an alleged spear attempt and Hunter turned it into a sidewalk slam. Hunter hot-tagged Cena, who went to work on Edge with some lousy looking clotheslines. He slammed Edge to the ground and then played to the crowd and went into the You Can’t See Me routine. Chavo held the top rope down so when Cena bounded into it, he fell to the floor. He had to help himself fall over as he teetered briefly. The timing of a lot of things is off tonight; international travel fatigue, perhaps. Orton tagged in against Cena. JBL tagged in shortly thereafter. He gave Cena a Russian leg sweep for a two count. Orton settled into a chinlock on Cena at 6:00. Cena eventually hot-tagged Kane who went to work on Chavo and also knocked the other heels to the floor. He climbed to the top rope and came down with a flying clothesline. JBL and Orton interrupted the count. As everyone else brawled at ringside, Kane set up Chavo for a slam. Chavo countered with a DDT and then climbed to the top rope. Kane grabbed his throat and chokeslammed him. Edge surprised Kane with a spear and scored a sudden pin.
WINNERS: Edge & JBL & Chavo & Orton in 9:00.
STAR RATING: *1/4 — Too many wrestlers and not enough time. Just okay.
-Afterward, Cena entered and gave Edge an FU. Triple H charged into the ring and punched Cena. He escaped an FU attempt and set up a Pedigree. JBL clotheslined Triple H. Orton gave Cena an RKO. Orton and JBL faced off. Taker grabbed them both and chokeslammed them. JBL didn’t go up as easily or as high as Orton. Taker stood over everyone as the show ended.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PRIOR TEN YEARS AGO FLASHBACK: 10 YRS AGO – ROH in Chicago Ridge, Ill. (4-19-08): Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), Austin Aries, Claudio (Cesaro), Kota Ibushi, El Generico (Sami Zayn), Jimmy Jacobs, Briscoes, Machine Gunns