SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The following was originally published on PWTorch.com 10 years ago this week…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MAY 26, 2008
DENVER, COL. AT PEPSI CENTER
LIVE ON USA NETWORK
WHAT HAPPENED: 1ST HOUR
-A video aired as a tribute to veterans whom we are celebrating on Memorial Day. I’d like to dedicate this report to my late grandfather, who died a few years ago, and was a proud veteran who fought in World War II, including being a prison of war after the Battle of the Bulge. I also appreciate WWE doing these videos. Sure, there’s an element of p.r. goodwill that motivates them, but the message sent to viewers is true and necessary. The sacrifices our veterans have made for our country should be on our minds every day, and for many they are, but Memorial Day is a great opportunity to unite in showing our appreciation.
-Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show as the camera panned the crowd. They quickly went backstage to Vince McMahon saying he’s in a great mood, perhaps due to the altitude. (Is Denver as sick of everyone always talking about their altitude just like I was sick of everyone asking me as a 6-3 teenager if I played basketball (even though I my free throw percentage was around 3 percent)?) He said the fans deserve more than usual, something known as Appreciation Night. He said he’s going to show the fans appreciation like they’ve never seen before. He said he has a big idea, but he’s going to ask the Superstars for their ideas. He said one way or another, he’s going to show them true appreciation even if it means he has to do something that never been done before in the history of television. He looked slyly at the camera like he had something up his sleeve everyone will want to stay tuned to watch.
-Todd Grisham stood mid-ring and introduced a face-off between Triple H and Randy Orton. Lawler and Ross wondered what McMahon’s never-seen-before sign of appreciation could be. After long ring intros by Triple H and then Orton, Grisham asked Orton what makes him think he can beat Triple H this Sunday. Orton complained that everyone downplays his accomplishments. He said he’s defeated everyone, but everyone acts like his career is a joke that people can laugh at. He told Triple H that on Sunday, the laughing will stop. Triple H said the people aren’t laughing at him because they don’t respect him. “They’re laughing at you because you’re an ass,” he said. He said he’s not laughing at him because he doesn’t find him funny. He said he knows now good he is better than he does. He said Orton tries to get through challenges using a backdoor approach. He said when Orton talks about being the best, he looks like he’s trying to convince himself. Hunter said the way he sees it, he’s just a scared little boy in a man’s world. He said he hopes if he says over and over how good he is, those bad men will go away. Triple H amplified to a yell and said he has to get in the ring day in and day out against the best and rise to the occasion.
Orton shook with anger and said Hunter doesn’t thrive on competition. He said Hunter sees a threat, he either makes them his friend or he eliminates them. He said he doesn’t like Shawn Michaels, but he knows Michaels can beat him, so he keeps him close. “Lucky for you Shawn Michaels is dumb enough not to understand what’s going on.” He said Evolution was the most powerful entity in this business. Hunter said when he was in Evolution, all he and Ric Flair did was make him realize his potential. “We took a small little fish out of a tiny little pond and we got him ready to swim in an ocean,” he said. “But once you got in that ocean, the sharks were for you to deal with.” He said when it comes to the WWE Title, he warned him it was every man for himself. Orton said he’s already proved he surpassed him back at WrestleMania and it’s pathetic he wants the fans to think he’s the best thing going today and it will be difficult to say that after Sunday at One Night Stand. He said he’ll beat the hell out of him until he can’t get up and he is the last man standing.
When Randy set the mic down and turned to leave, Hunter said that wasn’t the last word. He said the last word will be on Sunday. He said either the Age of Orton will continue or it will be like the last seven months were all for nothing. He said he would leave him within an inch of his life on Sunday and then the Age of Orton won’t just be over, but it will be as if it never existed. They ended with a brief staredown and Tripel H left the ring. That’s Triple H at his best. No sarcasm. No silly jokes. No merchandise plugs. No insecure claims to being more than he is. Just a strong, sports-like pride-based pre-fight promo. Orton played his role really well, too.
-The commercials included a plug for Sunday’s free-cable Uriah Faber vs. Jens Pulver WEC main event. My thoughts on tonight’s world premiere preview of Sunday’s big MMA fight is available at MMATorch.com along with my report on Saturday night’s UFC PPV and an audio update (free for everyone) with me, Bruce Mitchell, and MMATorch columnist Shawn Ennis discussing the event. The Faber-Pulver fight goes head-to-head with WWE’s One Night Stand PPV, so I’m surprised WWE didn’t coordinate with USA Network to be sure ads for this didn’t air. We’ll have live coverage of both events at PWTorch.com and MMATorch.com on Sunday night.
-Ross plugged the Melina vs. Beth Phoenix “I Quit” match.
1 — JILLIAN HALL vs. MELINA
Beth Phoenix joined Ross and Lawler on commentary. Before the match, Jillian Hall said Melina has no chance in hell against Phoenix on Sunday. She obnoxiously sang “No Chance In Hell!” Phoenix winced and said she appreciates the sentiment. Jillian speared Melina at the bell and took early control. Phoenix said, “King, I have never uttered the worlds I quit.” (Ha! Jokes on her. She just did.) Phoenix asked Lawler which WWE Diva, past or present, could make her say “I quit.” Phoenix said Maria was crying for hours after she beat her last week. Melina made a comeback and finished her with a bridge chinlock submission. Phoenix said she hopes she brings everything she’s got so she can wipe the mat with her. Ross said Sunday will be “Divaliciously Extreme.” That may be the first time that phrase has ever been uttered.
WINNER: Melina in 2:00.
-Chris Jericho told Vince McMahon the fans deserve to see a rematch between he and Shawn Michaels on Raw. Vince said the match is on, but it won’t be for the Intercontinental Title. Of course not. Michaels would never lower himself to fight for that title again. Jericho said suggested some remix ideas for his theme song. He offered a couple examples, which showed why his singing career wasn’t much different than the type Jillian spoofs! Cryme Tyme walked into the picture. They sang about money and suggested an auction. They took pictures off the wall of his office. I wish I could say that was as funny a segment as it was long, but it wasn’t. I still can’t believe fans give the Cryme Tyme gimmick the time of day and sing along to that “Money, Money” song. It’s just so lame.
-“Tomorrow night on ECW, The Big Show.” That’s it. That’s all they plugged.
-They showed a clip of Cryme Tyme auctioning the pictures from backstage during the break. Ron Simmons appeared and said, “Damn!”
2 — CODY RHODES & HARDCORE HOLLY vs. BRIAN KENDRICK & PAUL LONDON
What have London & Kendrick done to earn a title shot? Ross told us. They beat Hardcore Holly & Cody Rhodes in a non-title match on ECW last week. London and Kendrick hit an early double dropkick for a near fall. Cody whipped Kendrick hard into the turnbuckle, and Kendrick took the bump harder than anyone I’ve ever seen in that situation. As Ross talked about how little Cody and Holly have in common, Lawler observed that Cody and his dad Dusty didn’t seem to have much in common, either. When London just brushed Holly on a dropkic, he smartly followed up with another immediately that connected with much more force. They went into a series of high-speed near falls. London got caught trying to skin the cat by Holly, who turned it into an airplane spin and Alabama Slam for the clean win.
WINNERS: Holly & Rhodes in 4:00.
STAR RATING: *1/4
-After the match, Ted DiBiase walked out onto the stage and said he and Vince McMahon made a deal last week and he wanted to introduce everyone to his son, Ted DiBiase. His son walked out onto the stage and said ever since he was a kid, he wanted to become a champion. He said his father was a three-time tag team champion. He said in his very first (WWE main roster televised) match, he will become a champion. He told Holly & Cody that they’re on notice. He said: “Everybody has a price, but me, I am simply priceless.”
-Ross plugged a Jeff Hardy & John Cena vs. Umaga & JBL tag match later.
-They went to a skit of Roddy Piper giving Jimmy Kimmel’s Cousin Sal a training session. Piper slapped Sal hard across the face. Sal said, “I can see how that hurts. We can do this some other time.” In walked Kimmel. He asked how the training was going, such as a forearm smash. Piper gave him a forearm smash. Kimmel said shouldn’t Sal be practicing the offense. Piper began applying a lot more holds. Kimmel asked him if this was a dream come true to have Piper beating him up. Kimmel complimented him for being such a great cheater. Piper ate some of Jimmy’s popcorn. Kimmel said the whole famly is depending on him. Piper applied the sleeper from behind. He put Sal to sleep. Kimmel entered the ring and seemed worried. He bent over and drew a mustache on him with a marker. Then he and Piper left to have dinner.
-Mickie James suggested that schools all over the nation could send in tapes saying why they love WWE and the winner could get a Diva for the Day and do a “Meet and Greet.” JBL barged in and said that sounded like an escort service. JBL said he’s a wealthy man, like he is, and he feels with five hours of prime time entertainment per week is showing plenty of appreciation for fans. JBL said he’s going to bust open Mickie’s boyfriend like a Mexican pinata. She said Cena’s not her boyfriend. JBL said, “From what I understand, you’ve exchanged enough bodily fluids.” Mickie was upset. Vince said he thinks he meant saliva.
-Clips aired of active duty troops sending messages to friends and family backstage. One wished Cena luck against JBL.
-Ring introductions took place for Jeff Hardy, John Cena, Umaga, and JBL.
WHAT HAPPENED: 2ND HOUR
3 — UMAGA & JBL vs. JOHN CENA & JEFF HARDY
With Cena in jeopardy early, they cut to a break at 2:00.
At 5:00 Hardy got a hot tag and went on a flurry of offense, but soon Umaga took over by sending Hardy to the floor. JBL tagged in and continued to beat on Hardy. At 8:00 Hardy hit a Whisper in the Wind and then hot-tagged Cena. Cena went into his signature routine on JBL. The crowd popped, but Umaga jumped Cena from behind. Hardy tagged in and went for a Swanton, but JBL moved. Umaga brawled with Cena at ringside. The crowd popped for something, but the camera didn’t catch it. In the ring, JBL nailed Hardy with a Clothesline from Hell for the win.
WINNERS: JBL & Umaga in 9:00.
STAR RATING: *1/2 — Very much a formula tag match with Cena and Hardy each taking a beating for a stretch. It was good to have the heels win in the end to create some sense of jeopardy and build heel credibility. The match otherwise though didn’t do anything specifically to add intrigue to the two respective singles matches represented in this tag match.
-They went backstage to Michaels talking with McMahon. Michaels said it’s hard for him to grasp him doing anything decent with his big surprise later in the show. McMahon seemed surprised at his cynicism. McMahon said at the end of the show, even he would have to give the devil his due. Michaels said McMahon would certainly know about that.
-They showed the exterior of the Pepsi Center, then showed some Denver Broncos play-fighting in the front row. Ross and Lawler threw to a highlight video of WWE’s Mexico tour.
4 — MR. KENNEDY vs. CARLITO
Before the match, Mr. Kennedy introduced himself as the man who single-handedly got that “royal piece of garbage William Regal dismissed.” Carlito dominated most of the match. Kennedy blocked a Backstabber and hit the Mic Check out of nowhere for the win.
WINNER: Mr. Kennedy in 2:00.
-After the match, Katie Lea came out and said she isn’t amused with what he did to William Regal last week. She said he has made himself a very powerful enemy. Paul Birchill attacked Kennedy from behind. He got in his face and said Regal was a great man and the fact that he ended his reign means serious repercussions.
-Ross and Lawler again plugged McMahon’s “epic announcement.”
-Trevor Murdoch sang a country version of “No Chance in Hell.” McMahon said that’s not what he had in mind. McMahon asked him to do him a favor and tell all of the WWE Superstars to come to the ring after the next segment. Murdoch said he’d tell everyone except Lance Cade.
-Ross and Lawler ran down the entire line-up of One Night Stand where every match is extreme. A video package hyped Orton vs. Triple H.
-More troops gave some shout-outs. The final one thanked Ric Flair for the memories and let out a big “whoo!”
5 — CHRIS JERICHO vs. SHAWN MICHAELS
At 2:00 Jericho dove toward Michaels on the floor, but Michaels moved. They cut to a break as Jericho recovered at ringside.
A commercial aired hyping a new USA Network original series titled “In Plain Sight.” Big Show goes up to the front door of the star of the show and presents her with a WWE folding chair with a red ribbon on it to welcome her to the network. She was nice about it, but hardly blown away by the gift. After a few really funny awkward seconds, Big Show asked if he could use her bathroom. She quickly and firmly said no. He frowned and walked away. It was pretty funny start to finish. In the ring, lots of back and forth action. At 8:00 Michaels went for a top rope elbow, but Jericho moved. Michaels went for Sweet Chin Music a minute later, but Jericho ducked and applied the Walls of Jericho. Michaels crawled toward and finally reached the bottom rope to force a break. Jericho applied the Walls on the floor where both were counted out. Jericho wouldn’t release the hold until the referee pried him off of Michaels. He then shoved the ref and dropped some elbows on Michaels. Then he reapplied the Walls. The ref again pried him loose. Jericho grabbed a chair, threatened the ref, and then stood over a prone Michaels. Michaels held up his hands and looked up in fear. Jericho dropped the chair and extended his hand to offer Michaels help to his feet. He seemed conflicted. He threw the chair to the ground. Jericho walked away as Michaels leaned on the announcers’ table and looked on as if his parachute opened at the last possible second while skydiving or his car skidded within a few feet of a cliff and came to a stop.
WINNER: Double countout in 10:00.
STAR RATING: **1/4 — Good while it lasted. Intriguing finish headed into Sunday.
-They showed McMahon backstage heading toward the entrance tunnel to make his “epic announcement.”
-They showed the entire Raw roster standing on the stage. McMahon then walked to the ring. Lawler said McMahon promised this would affect every Raw viewer. McMahon stepped into the ring and said earlier he had an idea how he could show his appreciation for everyone in the arena and everyone in the world who watches on TV. He told fans who were shouting “What!” at him won’t in a minute. He said he thinks they deserve to see the 2008 Draft in four weeks. He said they deserve more, and it may take a week for him to figure out the logistics. He said he always tells them it’s all about the money. He said he is considering giving away “cash money” every week on Raw. He said, “What if I gave away a thousands dollars every week? What if I gave away ten thousand dollars? Hell, I’m a billionaire, why not give away 100,000 dollars.” He said this is not a hoax or a trick. He said from his own personal bank account he’s going to give away “cash money” totaling one million dollars. So if you don’t like our product, let me buy your viewership? I think rather than have a one in five million chance at money, fans would rather just have a great product they can rely on each week to entertain them. By the way, there’s a PPV on Sunday in case you didn’t know. That last segment was hardly a classic final hard sell.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS 2008 FLASHBACK: 10 YRS AGO – 2CW in Gloversville, N.Y.: Kevin Steen (Owens) vs. Eddie Edwards vs. Isis Ephex leads to fans throwing shoes, plus Terry Funk, Spike Dudley