10 YRS AGO – KELLER’S RAW REPORT (2-9-09): Ric Flair struts out to start show for interview with Jericho, Orton vs. Undertaker, Punk vs. Regal, plus HBK, Cody, Cena, Rey

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


Ric Flair (artist Travis Beaven © PWTorch)

The following article was originally published ten years ago this week on PWTorch.com…


KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
FEBRUARY 9, 2009
OAKLAND, CALIF.
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK

-The show opened with a wide shot of the arena and Lilian Garcia introducing Ric Flair. Flair’s music played and he walked out onto the stage. He did a little strut as Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler introduced the show. Lawler let out a “whoo!” Cole said Flair has unbridled passion, incomparable emotion, and off-the-chart charisma. He brought up last year’s WrestleMania retirement match, and referred to it as his “final match in WWE.” Cole said Flair has become an ambassador for the industry since retiring. They showed a picture of Mickey Rourke and Flair today.

Flair entered the ring and let out two “whoos!” He said it feels great to be out there in front of the fans again. “I have missed you!” he declared. He said a year ago he was fighting for his career, knowing that the next time he lost he’d have to retire from the greatest sport in the world. He said the time came at WrestleMania 24 (the 23rd Anniversary of WrestleMania, by the way). Flair said he has no regrets. Chris Jericho interrupted and said, “Enough, enough, enough.” He walked to the ring and said he won’t stand in the back and allow him to wax nostalgic and waste valuable airtime. He stepped into the ring.

Jericho told Flair to watch a video clip. It was Flair hugging Jericho on March 31 as he said goodbye on Raw. Flair stared down Jericho as if to wonder where he was going with this. Jericho said he hugged him out of respect, but had he known he’d prostitute himself for any two-bit promoter who’ll sign a check for him, crave the spotlight more than ever, and the horrible example he’d set for current and former wrestlers, he’d have slapped him, not hugged him. Given the long, long history of Vince McMahon expressing his feelings through wrestler promos, it’s tempting to read into Jericho’s words as an expression of McMahon regretting the big sendoff he gave Flair.

Flair said had he known then what he knows now that he’s a condescending little punk and insecure with himself, well, he didn’t really finish the sentence. He then said he’d never sell out and never listen to Jericho. He said, “I’ll never wrestle again. I have too much respect for Shawn Michaels and too much respect for the WWE.” He said he’s losing more respect for him by the minute. Flair must’ve missed his line, because Jericho prompted him by saying he probably respects the fans, too. Flair then went back on script and nodded, saying he lives and dies for the people. Jericho then continues with the bullet points, calling the fans hypocrites. He again gave him a hard time for taking a payoff for any promoter who will put his face on a poster and allow him to sign autographs for the fans and slap some hands. Jericho said Flair’s problem is that he has to be the center of attention. Flair said, “Yeah! You know why? Because I am the Nature Boy! Whoo! I love the spotlight.” He said he has retired from the ring, but he’ll never retire from the business. He said he loves to put his arms around them, take pictures with them, and tell stories about his career and the other legends. He said Jericho will never wake up a day in his life and tell him to tell him how to live his life. “I live life the way I want to because I can,” Flair said.

Jericho said he is a locker room leader and he has a whole roster of wrestlers who respect him more than they respect Flair. Jericho said he can claim he won’t return to the ring, but eventually he knows he will. He said when he does, he will put his body through hell and whatever else because he cannot walk away from this business with any dignity whatsoever. He said that’s the point of his friend Mickey Rourke’s movie. “These people could care less about you,” Jericho said. “They could care less about any of the legends.” (He mean “could NOT care less”; why do half the people screw that up? It makes no sense to say “he could care less,” because someone who cares a lot can care less, but someone who doesn’t care at all thus cannot care less. Anyway, back to originally scheduled programming…) Jericho said fans will cheer him now, but as soon as Flair goes home, they’re going to go to sleep and forget about him forever. Jericho said he doesn’t realize that he’ll continue to go down the same road as Rourke’s character in “The Wrestler.” He said unlike Rourke he doesn’t have a director to yell cut, so he will. He told Flair to tell the fans he’s done embarrassing himself for their entertainment and tell them that he’s better than they are. “Do it… now,” said Jericho. Flair replied: “Nooooo. No. No.” Jericho said, “If you want to see a clown who literally falls on his face for your entertainment, keep your eye on this pathetic shell of a human being.”

Jericho continued to prod Flair. “Come on Ric, strut back and forth like a puppet,” Jericho said. (Puppets strut?) “Pander to these parasites, these hypocrites. Every picture they take of you is another reminder of how fall you have fallen. The worst thing is you don’t have anybody to blame for this but yourself.” Flair finally had enough and he punched Jericho. Jericho fell and rolled out of the ring. Flair let out a “whoo!” and then strutted. He invited Jericho back into the ring, but Jericho walked to the back. Cole said Jericho needs to stop worrying about Flair and start thinking about his championship Elimination Chamber match on Sunday. Flair’s music played and slapped some hands and headed to the back.

-Cole plugged the Undertaker vs. Randy Orton main event, saying it was a rare appearance by Undertaker on Raw. They went to a video package on the Orton-Shane/Steph angle last week.

[Q2]

[Commercial Break]

-Cole announced Jericho & Mike Knox & Kane vs. John Cena & Rey Mysterio & Kofi Kingston was now scheduled later; all are part of the Raw Elimination Chamber match.

1 — BETH PHOENIX (w/Santino Marella, Rosa Mendez) & JILLIAN HALL vs. KELLY KELLY & MELINA

Lawler announced Melina would face Phoenix for the Diva’s Championship next week. Melina gave Phoenix a big boot and landed by doing the splits. Phoenix yanked on Melina’s hair from the ring apron to turn the momentum in the match. A minute later, with Melina back on offense, Mendez knocked her off balance as she went for a springboard. Phoenix then finished her off with her Glam Slam finisher.

WINNERS: Phoenix & Hall in 3:00.

-Cole threw to a video package on WrestleMania III. They showed the celebrities, the crowd, and quick glimpses at the undercard, but focused primarily on Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant. PWTorch VIP members during the month of February can hear Hulk Hogan compare his match against Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III to his match against The Rock at WrestleMania 18. His answer may surprise you, as he goes into a detailed explanation for why his Rock match means much more to him than the Andre match. It’s part of my unprecedented 90 minute insider interview with Hogan that this month is being heard in audio format for the first time ever. For more details on the historic interview and more details on how you can be listening to that tonight as part of your new VIP membership, click here. If you are already a VIP membership, click on the link on the PWTorch VIP main page to listen to it now!

[Commercial Break]

[Q3]

-WWE Fact: “Voices: WWE The Music Vol. 9″ is the no. 1 soundtrack in America – beating out Twilight, Cadillac Records, and Slumdog Millionaire.”

-JBL and Shawn Michaels talked in a locker room backstage. JBL said Michaels is still his employee and he still controls all of his matches, so he’s decided to schedule a tune-up for him tonight against Mark Henry. He wished him luck.

-Randy Orton’s music played as he made his way onto the stage, joined by Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes. Orton said what’s been lost in his controversy with the McMahons is that he won the Royal Rumble and he gets his choice of which champion he faces at WrestleMania. He said no McMahon can stop him from main eventing WrestleMania. He said the Undertaker couldn’t beat him at the Royal Rumble and he can’t stop him tonight. He said if the Undertaker can’t beat him, what kind of chance does he think he has. Helluva point.

[Commercial Break]

2 — CODY RHODES & TED DIBIASE vs. CRYME TYME

How many times are these two teams going to wrestle? WWE needs more tag teams. The heel duo controlled the opening two minutes until Shad hot-tagged in JTG. A minute later four-way action broke out. Cody blindsided JTG as DiBiase distracted him and gave him his Crossroads finisher for the win.

WINNERS: Rhodes & DiBiase in 3:00.

-Cole plugged Henry vs. Michaels. Lawler plugged the six-man tag up next.

[Q4]

-A video feature aired on John Cena shaving with several other sports celebrities at a Gillette event including Derek Jeter and Tiger Woods. Those are good shoulders to be rubbing up against for a celebrity clip like that.

[Commercial Break]

-A commercial aired for No Way Out.

-They showed a bunch of Oakland Raiders fake-fighting in the front row.

-Ring intros took place for the six-man tag, and then they cut to another break. Those are two breaks close together.

[Commercial Break]

-An ECW ad aired plugging Finlay as an ECW star. No match was announced.

3 — KANE & MIKE KNOX & CHRIS JERICHO vs. REY MYSTERIO & KOFI KINGSTON & JOHN CENA

The six-man was joined in progress. Cole said they were “in the middle” of the match. Given how long tag matches last on Raw, if it’s 90 seconds old, it probably is exactly in the middle. Kingston was doing his dance routine into a double legdrop on Kane leading to a two count. Kane came back seconds later with a powerful clothesline, then tagged in Knox.

[Q5]

Kofi hot-tagged Cena a minute later right at the start of the second hour; great timing. He quickly went into his You Can’t See Me routine on Knox. He went for his Attitude Adjustment, but Kane kicked Cena before he could execute it. Kane rammed Cena back-first into the ring apron. When Jericho tagged in, Cena tried hit his AA, but Jericho countered with a DDT and then he tagged Kane back in. Lawler said Jericho is still feeling the affects of the punch Flair landed on him earlier. After taking a beating for a minute, Cena gave Kane his AA finisher, but then crawled over to hot-tag Rey just as Kane tagged in Jericho. Rey his a head scissors on Jericho and then a bulldog for a two count. Nice kick up into third gear there. Knox broke up his pin attempt and charged at him. Rey ducked and Knox flew over the top rope to the floor. Rey used a drop toe hold to send Jericho face-first into the turnbuckle. Kofi swung Rey into Jericho with a basement dropkic in the corner. Kane held the top rope down as Rey bounced into it, so Rey fell to the mat. Kofi went after Jericho, meanwhile, but when he flew off the middle rope at him, Jericho turned it into a Code Breaker for the win.

WINNERS: Jericho & Knox & Kane in 8:00.

STAR RATING: *3/4

-Backstage Stephanie McMahon was on the phone. She seemed to be losing per patience as she tried to get a word in edgewise. She said she knows what she is doing. She denied that she provoked Orton. She said she just showed up and acted as General Manager of Raw. She said if Orton shows up, security is not far away. (Jericho showed security can be close and you can still get whacked.) She said she can handle herself. She said they have a lot going on this weekend.

-A Smackdown commercial aired hyping the return of Jeff Hardy on Friday and his plans to confront his brother who betrayed him.

[Commercial Break]

[Q6]

4 — SHAWN MICHAELS vs. MARK HENRY

JBL walked to ringside as the match began. Michaels pounded on Henry early and knocked him to ringside with a barrage of punches. He dove after him and continued to punch him at ringside. Henry punched back and tried to slam him. Michaels slipped out and shoved Henry into the ringpost. Michaels threw a chair into the ring as Atlas had the referee distracted. The ref turned around, saw Michaels with the chair, and called for the bell. Henry grabbed the chair. Michaels kicked the chair into Henry’s face. As Lilian began to announce Henry as the winner by DQ.

WINNER: Henry via DQ in 1:00.

-JBL told Michaels it must feel good to take out all of that aggression. He said he hopes that on Sunday he doesn’t get DQ’d or counted out, then he loses. “It’s that simple,” he said as he approached Michaels in the ring. He said if that happens, his name and reputation will be forever branded as part of JBL Enterprises. “What Mickey Mouse is to Disney, you will be to me,” he said. He vowed to put his name and likeness onto everything he owns. JBL invited Michaels to bring his wife to ringside so she can see what a poor, broken down man he has become. He said he wants to see her face when she sees her husband has lost his one last chance to keep his dignity in tact. He said Michaels will lose and he will win, just as he done his entire life. Michaels fumed and huffed and puffed. As JBL left the ring, he stopped Columbo-style and said he had one more thing to say. “Speaking of your wife, at my office there will always be a place for such a beautiful and talented lady.” Michaels began snarling and seething with anger.

-Cole plugged the Orton vs. Undertaker main event and the C.M. Punk vs. William Regal rematch up next.

[Commercial Break]

-They replayed the finish of last week’s Regal-Punk match.

[Q7]

5 — C.M. PUNK vs. WILLIAM REGAL (w/Layla) — Intercontinental Title match

They showed C.C. Sabathia of the New York Yankees watching from the front row. Regal opened with a knee to the ribs and punches to his head, then scored a quick two count. Nice opening by Regal. It looked like a wrestler taking an unconventional approach to get a quick win. Punk came back and hit a series of rapid-fire front kicks to Regal’s face. He went for an early Go To Sleep, but Regal elbowed out of it and then kneed Punk in the head. Regal came back with a cobra submission. Punk came back with a sunset flip attempt, but Regal headbutted out of it and then hit a series of short elbow jabs leading to another two count. Regal remained on offense with some suplexes, but Punk fired right back with a Go To Sleep for the win.

WINNER: Punk in 2:00. Seriously, these super-short matches between two equals is just getting ridiculous and really undercutting the concept of a wrestling match being an event. I mean, what logic is there that eight matches on PPV would last longer than 30 minutes, much less three hours, at this rate? There should be at least a little logic and consistency behind match lengths.

-A video feature aired on WrestleMania 13 focused on new stars breaking loose such as The Rock, Steve Austin, and Triple H. It closed with Undertaker defeated Sid, without Sid’s name being mentioned.

[Commercial Break]

-Cole and Lawler were shown on camera as they talked about the No Way Out theme song “Hunt You Down” by Saliva. Then they threw to a clip of Mickey Rourke winning a Best Actor Awards in the Orange British Academy Film Awards on Sunday night. He beat out Sean Penn, among others. Lawler then wished him the best of luck at the Oscars. Cole threw to a clip of Flair in the opening segment.

-They aired a recap of Orton’s attack on the McMahons last week. Then they showed Orton heading toward the entrance tunnel.

[Q8]

[Commercial Break]

-WWE Fact: 15 million people watch WWE each week i the U.S. That’s more than those who watch: “CSI: Miami,” “Survivor,” “House,” “The Office,” “The Simpsons.” I will venture to say, given syndicated reruns of “CSI: Miami,” that more people watch that show than WWE using the same formula, which is counting people twice if they watch more than one episode during the week.

6 — RANDY ORTON vs. UNDERTAKER

As Orton made his ring entrance, they showed Stephanie watching on a monitor backstage. Orton claimed he was never going to punt Stephanie last week, and he just wanted to show Shane what could have happened. Lawler was skeptical of the claim. He said Steph may be intimidated by Orton, though, since she hasn’t confronted him tonight. Taker took early control. They cut to an early break at 2:00 after rapid-fire action.

[Commercial Break]

Orton took over control during the break with a DDT off the second rope. He had Taker in his obligatory mid-match headlock after the break. Apparently he had it on for a while as there were some “boring” catcalls. Taker fought out of it after the break, but Orton managed to hit a powerslam out of nowhere to stay in control. He scored a two count. Orton went back to a chinlock at 7:00. They punched each other mid-ring at 8:00. Taker splashed Orton in the corner and then gave him Snake Eyes and a big boot followed by a legdrop leading to a near fall. Orton countered a chokeslam attempt with a kick to the gut and an RKO attempt. Taker blocked that and went for a Tombstone. Rhodes and DiBiase charged into the ring and attacked Taker, prompting the DQ call.

WINNER: Undertaker via DQ in 9:00.

STAR RATING: *3/4 — Basic stuff with an expected and appropriate copout finish.

[Q9]

Orton punched Taker as DiBiase and Rhodes held him in place. Orton then called them off as he set up an RKO from behind. Shane McMahon ran to the ring and jumped Orton. That gave Taker the opening to chokeslam Rhodes. Shane punched away at DiBiase and shoved him into Taker’s arm. Taker chokeslammed DiBIase. Orton fled and watched from the stage as Shane set up DiBiase for his big trash can kick off the top turbbuckle. Shane climbed to the top rope, gained his footing, pointed at Orton on the stage, and then dove with a dropkick into the crash can. He did reach the can, although simple physics gave away that the give in the side of the can absorbed most of the crushing effect that DiBiase could have felt while being behind it. In any case, it was a good final pitch for Orton-Shane at No Way Out because it shows Shane does have that big signature spot that takes some athleticism to pull off. The closing scene with Taker helping Shane beat up DiBIase and Rhodes made a lot more sense than what happened two weeks ago, also. Just that tweak made it realistic and effective. The show closed with Orton glaring at Shane and Shane staring back.


NOW CHECK OUT THIS FLASHBACK: 10 YRS AGO – Keller’s WWE Raw Report & Staff Roundtable Reviews (12/29/08): Michaels vs. Orton vs. JBL vs. Jericho for World Title match at Rumble, C.M. Punk vs. Cody, Legacy Challenge, plus Kofi, Cena, Rey, Miz, Morrison, Ziggler

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