SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The following report was originally published on PWTorch.com ten years ago this week…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MARCH 16, 2009
LIVE FROM SAN ANTONIO, TEX.
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
-The show opened with clips from last week’s big angle with John Cena revealing an affair between Big Show and Edge’s wife Vickie Guerrero – you know, the angle that was too big to get much attention at all on Friday’s Smackdown show even though it’s a Smackdown-based title and three of the four wrestlers are Smackdown wrestlers. This recap lasted almost three minutes, way too long.
-The Raw opening aired. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler introduced the show. They hyped that John Cena would face Edge with Vickie Guerrero as special guest referee. They’re just burning out that match and the whole “pay to see Cena in a big match” hook that is one of the central tenets of their business model. They also hyped that they’d have an update on Triple H after he was arrested for the Randy Orton home invasion. And finally, a teaser of a possible Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair match. They showed Jericho vs. Flair with the usual match preview graphics, but added a question mark after Flair’s name.
1 — SHAWN MICHAELS & UNDERTAKER vs. VLADIMIR KOZLOV & JBL
First Shawn Michaels ring intro took place. He made his way to the ring and did his full ring intro, but as he began posing, Undertaker’s bell sounded and he walked out. Then JBL and Kozlov followed. Cole and Lawler wondered if Taker and Michaels could get along. They cut to a break after about a minute.
Michaels hit JBL with a top rope elbow shortly after coming back from the break. He stomped the mat to set up a superkick, but Kozlov interrupted. JBL then caught Michaels by surprise with a big boot, then tagged out to Kozlov. Michaels caught a charging Kozlov with a big boot. Kozlov came back with a series of headbutts to Michaels’s chest.
The heels tagged in and out against Michaels. Lawler said, “JBL is so rich, he has an unlisted zip codeover there in New York.” Michaels surprised Kozlov with a DDT at 8:00. Michaels hot-tagged Taker seconds after Kozlov hot-tagged JBL. Taker beat up JBL, including a snake-eyes. As Taker set up a chokeslam. Michaels blind-tagged himself in and superkicked JBL to score the pin. Taker was upset. Jus as Michaels’s music played, Taker stomped on him. Michaels bailed out of the ring. Cole said Michaels isn’t just the Show-stopper, tonight he’s the show-stealer. Taker pursued Michaels up the rampway. Michaels fled. Michaels walked off the stage. As Taker turned to celebrate, Michaels came back out blindsided him with a superkick. He acted heelish as the crowd gasped and cheered and booed. It sounded like an “HBK” chant almost began.
WINNERS: Michaels & Taker in 9:00.
STAR RATING: *1/2 — I’m not sure this match needed a heel, and it appears that’s where they’re going with Michaels. It becomes a bit of “just another match” with a heel and a face rather than a battle of two legends with a lot of stake – the Undertaker winning streak at WrestleMania. So I question this move. It also seems arbitrary of Michaels to do this, but maybe an explanation is coming that will give his actions some reason, but if not it just seems like an angle out of nowhere with Michaels acting somewhat out of character.
-Cole and Lawler commented on Michaels’s actions before the break.
-Vickie Guerrero told Edge she’s not sure what to say to him. She said she hasn’t talked to him in a week and feels so terrible. Edge told her to stop talking. He said he’s had a week to think about it and he has something to tell her. VIckie braced for the worst. Edge said, “I forgive you.” She said, “Really?” Vickie claimed Big Show forced himself on her. She said he’s so overpowering. Edge cringed and didn’t like hearing details. He told her that she needs to understand that Big Show doesn’t love her, but rather he’s using her to help his career. He said she fell for it, but Big Show is nothing but a home-wrecker and he will pay. He said what they have is real. Vickie seemed moved and choked up by his gesture. Edge said he understands Big Show’s motivation, so he doesn’t even blame him. Instead, he blames John Cena for trying to ruin his life. She said if Cena lays a hand on her even accidentally, he is out of the match at WrestleMania. Edge said nobody can take away what they have. She said she hopes he wins at WrestleMania. They moved in for a kiss. No big make-out session this time, just a loving peck and a hug. Edge seemed very happy as he hugged Vickie. Lawler said they look like a happy couple.
-Cole threw to a three minute recap of the home invasion angle from last week’s Raw. Cole and Lawler were shown on camera as they said Triple H was at Raw and would take on Cody Rhodes later.
-Todd Grisham interviewed a pacing Randy Orton, along with Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Grisham asked why Orton dropped charges against Triple H. Orton said he terrorized the neighborhood and traumatized his wife. “She may never be the same,” he declared. He said Triple H could have gone to prison, and if he did that, he would have paid his debt to society, but not to him. He said that debt will be paid at humiliation. He said rather than a public court of law, he will deal with him. He said at WrestleMania it’ll be Orton’s Law. He got some cheers from the fans. Orton said he’ll pass sentence on him when he becomes the WWE Champion. A mix of mostly boos with a few cheers erupted.
2 — BETH PHOENIX (w/Santino Marella) & LAYLA & JILLIAN HALL vs. MICKIE JAMES & MELINA & KELLY KELLY
Santino joined Cole and Lawler on commentary. Santino said the women have a messy locker room. Lawler asked him how he knew or if he just heard rumors. Santino said he just heard about it. At 2:00 Mickie hot-tagged Melina, who hit a handspring elbow on Phoenix leading to a two count. Melina hit a Thesz press. Phoenix came right back with a backbreaker for a two count. Mickie kicked Santino in the gut when he headed to ringside. Then suddenly Melina schoolgirled a distracted Phoenix from behind for the win.
WINNERS: Mickie & Melina & Kelly in 3:00.
STAR RATING: 3/4* — Short, but fine for a way-too-short six-woman tag match.
-A video feature aired on “12 Rounds.”
-Lawler hyped that Triple H vs. Cody was up next.
-AC/DC’s “Shoot to Thrill” played to the WrestleMania 25 video. Lawler plugged the AC/DC “Black Ice” CD release.
3 — TRIPLE H vs. CODY RHODES
Triple H came out first, then Cody. After Cody, the Randy Orton theme played and Orton and DiBiase stepped onto the stage. Triple H tackled Cody and threw him into the announce table at ringside. Triple H threw Cody back into the ring and then grabbed his sledgehammer. He brought into the ring. Orton and DiBiase, who had made their way to ringside, began backing up the ramp. Cody got up and moved toward Triple H. Triple H turned, kicked him in the gut, hit the Pedigree, and then stood again with sledgehammer in hand to fend off Orton and DiBiase. Triple H then motioned to the rafters and down came a cage. Orton and DiBiase creaked out. Triple H chased them up the ramp. Then he ran back to the ring and slipped under the cage before it lowered completely. Orton and DiBiase ran back, but not before the cage lowered. Cole said Orton and DiBiase had no way in, forgetting that they could, you know, climb the side of the cage, just as they do in many cage matches. Orton and DiBiase haplessly yanked on the fence. Orton then began to climb the side of the cage, but Triple H threw Cody into the wall, knocking Orton down. When DiBiase climbed the cage, Triple H threw Cody into DiBiase. He repeated that sequence again. Then Triple H leaned over and stared at Orton from a 12 inches away. Meanwhile, DiBiase climbed to the top of the cage. Triple H swung the sledgehammer to knock him down to the floor. Triple H turned and finished Cody with a shot to the face with the butt of his sledgehammer. Cole said, “Triple H picked up the win, but that’s not what this was about.”
WINNER: Triple H in 5:00.
STAR RATING: 1/2* — Lame match. First, Cody looked like a jobber in there, and WWE shouldn’t be doing that to one of just a handful of twentysomethings with some main event potential and experience. Also, the way the ref just accepted it was a cage match because Triple H signaled for the cage to lower made no sense. It just felt arbitrary and as if Triple H running the show rather than part of it. And the match wasn’t much, either. That said, Triple H out-smarted Orton and his cohorts, so it served the purpose of Triple H standing up to bullies who outnumbered him.
-Lawler and Cole hyped the Cena-Edge main event and the Jericho match potentially against Flair.
-An ECW commercial hyped the return of Evan Bourne tomorrow night.
-They showed Ric Flair arriving earlier in a limo. He was wearing a nice suit and smiling wide.
4 — REY MYSTERIO vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER
Ziggler got in an early flurry of offense including rapid fire elbow drops. He stood on Rey’s face to get an early two count. He slapped him from behind a few times and then applied a full nelson. Rey escaped a minute later Rey dropped out of it and then hit a seated senton and a huracanrana, setting up the 619, a top rope splash, and the three count.
WINNER: Mysterio in 3:00.
STAR RATING: * — Good TV match that showcased Rey’s signature spots and persona.
-Cole plugged the Jericho vs. Flair teaser.
-WWE Fact: Last year WWE had more live events in Europe than the NBA, NHL, and NFL combined.
-Chris Jericho made his ring intro. He blamed Flair for stealing his chance at immortality last week by taking away his chance to go to WrestleMania. He said that’s why he took matters into his own hands and challenged Flair for a match right here, right now. “Tonight is going to be my WrestleMania,” he said. Jericho said Flair has been waiting to come out of retirement for a year and tonight he’s giving him that chance. He said he’s not a man, he’s a coward and a joke. He said he’s nothing more than a washed up has-been. He said it’s his chance to bask in the adulation of the hypocrites one more time. He called him to the ring to take his chance right now.
Flair walked out onto the stage to his music. He said, “Even though I know I can beat you, I am officially retired as an active competitor. But make no mistake, I will always be The Man.” The crowd cheered. He said he will not tarnish that great retirement and sendoff given to him by the whole world last year. He wouldn’t let down his peers and people who made it the greatest night of his career. He said he can’t wrestle him, but he has found some men who can. He licked his lip and smiled. Out came “Superfly” Snuka, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat,” and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. They all stood next to Flair on the stage. All four walked to the ring together. They surounded the ring and ten jumped Jericho all at once. Jericho slipped out of their grip quickly. Flair punched Jericho and then joined the other legends inside the ring. They waved good bye to Jericho as he retreated up the ramp.
-A WrestleMania 15 video feature aired. After a lot of clips which “captured the spirit of 1999,” they focused on Kane giving Pete Rose a Tombstone and Butterbean KO’ing Bart Gunn. That’s still a killer KO punch. Then it shifted to The Rock as a heel battling “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as Vince McMahon watched from ringside.
-Grisham interviewed Jericho backstage. Jericho said these legends are nothing more than desperate, shameless parasites who don’t know when to give it up. He said this was supposed to be his WrestleMania moment. Grisham said he must be embarrassed. Jericho said he wasn’t embarrassed because they proved his point. Jericho stopped and said maybe he should challenge Steamboat, Snuka, and Piper to a match at WM25 so he can have his WrestleMania Moment. Jericho said Flair can stay in retirement and be a coward for the rest of his life. He said he wants Flair to be in their corner, though, so he can see the blood up close that will be on his hands. He also told Mickey Rourke that he’s buying him a front row seat so he can see up close and personal what’s going to happen to all of his kids. He said unlike “The Wrestler,” the end of this movie won’t be ambiguous, but will be tragic, as he’ll put those legends out of their misery once and for all. That seems to answer the ongoing question over whether WWE had a big surprise for WrestleMania 25 regarding Jericho. There’s still a chance for Lawler to get added to the mix. He’s the best chance the match has at being decent since at least he wrestles now and then these days on indy shows.
5 — KOFI KINGSTON & MVP & C.M. PUNK vs. KANE & MARK HENRY (w/Tony Atlas) & SHELTON BENJAMIN
Finlay, Hornswoggle, and Christian joined Cole and Lawler at ringside. All six wrestlers and the two at ringside make up the eight wrestlers in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Hornswoggle made noises throughout the match almost as annoying as Booker T on that MEM takeover edition of Impact. At 2:00 they cut to a break.
Kane gave Kofi a big boot deuring the commercial break. He continued to beat on him in the ring including a side slam. Christian said he came back to WWE to become champion, so he’s going to win the MITB match. Cole asked Christian if he wins, when would he cash it in. Christian said he can’t reveal that. Finlay said if he wins, he’d cash it in right away that night. Kofi hot-tagged Punk. Cole said Punk is his pick to win. That means Punk won’t be winning. Punk KO’d Shelton with a Go To Sleep.
WINNERS: Punk & MVP & Kingston in 6:00.
STAR RATING: * — Not long enough to give many of the participants to shine, but it served a purpose of getting all of the MITB competitors in the same segment. Christian continues to blend in for the most part, but at least he got a chance to do some talking and declare his purpose in returning to WWE, something he hadn’t done yet.
-Another commercial aired for “12 Rounds.” They’re pushing this hard, using all of the power of the WWE universe to try to get it a strong opening weekend.
-Vickie walked up to Big Show backstage and asked him what he was doing there. Vickie said she figured Show out. She said he’s using her to get into that title match at WrestleMania. Show said that’s not true. He said she pursued him. “We both know that I am anatomically superior to Edge,” he said. Ugh. Vickie said Edge is her husband and she feels torn. Show said Edge accused him of doing the very thing he’s doing to her, but he took it a step further, he married her. He said, “Vickie, Edge doesn’t love you; I do. I’m going to prove it, okay?” Show moved in and kissed her. He said she looked very sexy in that referee shirt.
-A clip aired of the Michaels-Undertaker angle at the start of the show. It makes sense to put a recap of a segment here, about 90 minutes later. What doesn’t make sense is when they recap a segment after a commercial break that took place before the commercial break.
-Cole and Lawler ran down the entire WrestleMania line-up and then narrated clips of the Triple H-Orton angle.
-Grisham caught up to Triple H in the parking garage. He wanted to know how he got Vickie to cooperate with him by lowering the cage. Triple H got into his SUV. The camera showed Stephanie McMahon sitting in the passenger seat. Lawler said, “I guess we know how.”
-Lilian Garcia introduced Vickie as the special referee. Vickie walked to the ring in a referee shirt.
-Another ECW commercial aired hyping the return of Evan Bourne. It’ll be interesting to see if Bourne makes a bigger difference to the ECW ratings than other hyped appearances and big matches lately such as Kane and Christian.
6 — EDGE vs. JOHN CENA
They kept Cena off the show until this point, which is a smart strategy to try to hold the audience who are Cena fans throughout the show. Lawler asked Cole during Edge’s ring intro who he thinks really love Vickie. Cole said it could be both.
The match didn’t begin until the overrun began. Fast-paced start. When Cena had Edge in position for a pin at 1:00, Vickie stood there and literally twiddled her thumbs. Cena stood up and protested. Edge got up and hit Cena from behind. Cena dove at Edge, but Edge side-stepped him and tossed him to the floor. Cole called it a “horrific fall,” which was a the biggest overstatement ever!! Edge went for a spear, but Cena moved. Cena then hit two shoulder tackles and went into his finishing set. He smiled at Vickie as he did the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Vickie dove onto Edge to protect him. Lawler said, “I bet she’s been there before.” Cena threatened to drop a fist on Edge, so Vickie moved. Cena hit the fistdrop and lifted Edge for an Attitude Adjustment. Vickie yanked Edge down. Cena put on his STF. Vickie jumped on Cena’s back. Big Show’s music then played and he walked to the ring, looking angry, not jolly. Cena punched Show, Show swung back, Cena ducked, Edge hit Cena from behind. Lawler said the ref should disqualify Edge at this point. Cole said he was surprised Show and Edge were working together. They tied Cena up into the ropes. Edge then speared him. Cena gasped for breath. Vickie slapped Cena twice. Show punched Cena in the torso a few times. The crowd chanted for Cena. Show then gave Cena his signature KO punch twice. Edge then speared Show as Vickie looked on. Edge raised his arms as Show writhed in pain on the mat.
WINNER: No contest in 5:00.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Solid show, about what you’d expect at this point in the WrestleMania hype. I’m not sure I like the Michaels-Taker direction, and the Jericho vs. Legends match, while not entirely surprising, is the least compelling of the options discussed out there. The Orton-Triple H follow up was suitable and in line with what’s happened so far. The Cena-Edge-Show hype was also a solid follow-up, with Show wisely calling out Edge for accusing him of what he himself is doing, that is leading on Vickie.