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The following was originally published ten years ago this week on PWTorch.com…
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MARCH 23, 2009
KANSAS CITY, MO.
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
-The show opened with Ric Flair standing mid-ring as his music played. He accepted his challenge on behalf of Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper, and Jimmy Snuka. He added that he would be honored to be standing in their corner. He said he can’t compete, but he’ll be happy to raise their arms after they beat him and shut him up forever. Does anybody believe those three, all at once, have a chance against Jericho? They don’t exactly come across as nimble and capable anymore.
Jericho’s voice interrupted. He said he remembered watching Piper, Snuka, and Steamboat when they were “larger than life and in their prime, but that was 25 years ago. And 25 years ago, I never dreamed I’d become a bigger star than all three of them, but I have.” The camera panned off of video monitor highlights of the three legends and to Jericho in the production area. He left the production area and walked through the arena corridor. He said Mickey Rourke has the luxury of a director yelling cut and going back to his trailer to “sip on a capuccino and wondering how he blew the Oscars, but this is real.” He said the movie gave him a false impression that he matters, but he doesn’t. He said nobody cares about him anymore and he’s going to show him how dire his predicament has become.
Jericho walked to the ring and approached Flair. He said he’s afraid if he leaves wrestling he’ll end up as a nameless, faceless hypocrite like all of the fans in the crowd tonight. He said it’s better to be a nameless hypocrite than drag his name through the mud again and again. He said the beatdown of the legends will be brutal and disturbing. He told Flair that when he cries for him to stop, he won’t; he’ll keep going and going. He said Rourke will watch from ringside the carnage he ultimately caused, wondering what he did. He said his three friends will be remembered by a whole new generation of people as the washed up has-beens who were “brutalized, humiliated, and ultimately euthanized by Chris Jericho.”
Flair told Jericho he is wrong. He said he will never be Hall of Fame material, and they refuse to be told when it’s over. He said they respect the people who have respected them. He said he’ll be so proud to stand by those peers, who are his friends, as they beat him. Jericho asked if he’s finished. Flair said he’s not. He said he’s really looking forward to standing in the middle of the ring at WrestleMania finding Mickey Rourke in the crowd and telling him to come in the ring and stand alongside him, the Hot Rod, the Superfly, and the Dragon, and the broken body lying on the mat. He said then, in front of 70,000 fans in Houston and millions around the world who are watching WrestleMania, he’ll go “whoo!” Jericho punched Flair. Cole disgustedly called it a cheapshot. Lawler called it a disgusting lack of respect. Jericho knocked Flair to the floor.
Flair took off his jacket. They fought alongside fans who were all laughing in the front row. Jericho ripped off Flair’s dress shirt. Well, he tried, but ht wouldn’t go over his head. Flair began bleeding from the forehead. Jericho threw Flair into the announce table. Lawler said that was enough. Jericho threw Flair over the barrier as the crowd broke into a chant of “You suck!” Lawler again told Jericho to stop. The beating continued. “This is awful,” said Lawler. Jericho threw Flair into the steps at ringside head-first. Back in the announce area, Jericho punched Flair in the forehead. Lawler said it was demeaning. Jericho grabbed a camera from a cameraman at ringside. He nailed Flair in the head. Lawler’s looking like a pretty big coward right now for not intervening, along with the rest of the WWE locker room. Whatever happened to massive run-ins from the back?
Jericho took off Flair’s watch and set it on the top step, then stomped on it. It shattered under four hard stomps. Flair continued to writhe on the floor bleeding. Lawler said it was the most humiliating thing he’s ever seen.
-Cole and Lawler were shown at ringside. They expressed further disgust with what Jericho did. Then they hyped Edge vs. Big Show and Triple H vs. Randy Orton & Ted DiBiase.
1 — JEFF HARDY vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER — Extreme Rules match
Hardy took control in the opening seconds, but Ziggler hit a kneelift five seconds in and went after Hardy aggressively. When he grabbed a chair, Hardy recovered and took over. He set the chair in the corner and leaped off of it with a flying dive into the corner. Ziggler moved and then stomped a stunned Hardy. Lawler said those high-risk moves can come back to haunt you. Ziggler grabbed a garbage can and bashed Hardy over the head with it leading to a near fall at 2:00. Hardy reversed Ziggler off the second rope, dropping him onto the garbage can. Hardy then gave Ziggler a Twist of Fate onto the deformed can, then grabbed a chair from ringside. He bashed Ziggler across the back five times, then gave him another Twist of Fate onto the chair. He followed with a Swanton Bomb for the pin.
WINNER: Hardy in 3:00.
STAR RATING: *
-Afterward, Jeff grabbed the mic and said he knows Matt is watching. He said what he witnessed was not extreme, but what he feels at WrestleMania will be.
-Cole and Lawler discussed the Edge-Big Show-John Cena soap opera. Lawler said the plot thickened because we just found out Show and Vickie are having an affair. Brief clips aired from Smackdown. They went to a fresh statement from Cena. When he appeared on the screen, the crowd popped. He presented a home-made get well card. He read poetry, stealing Lanny Poffo’s gimmick, mocking their relationship. An image showed up of Edge and Vickie’s child. It looked like Edge with women’s make-up. They did the same for Show and Vickie. Cena wondered if Edge and Show would show interest in her if she weren’t G.M. Cena said thinking of her naked makes him throw up in his mouth. He said he is vowing to beat either Edge or Show at WrestleMania: “You will shed a tear, because the next night on Raw, the champ will be here.”
-Cole plugged that Cena was in Los Angeles because he’ll be on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” later. Cole plugged that a sneak peak of “12 Rounds” would air immediately following Raw on USA Network.
-A video package aired on the original Money in the Bank, won by Edge, at WrestleMania 21, now titled “The Rise of the Rated-R Superstar.” They didn’t feature Batista vs. Triple H (the final match on the show), John Cena vs. JBL (the co-main event), Undertaker vs. Randy Orton, or Kurt Angle (now in TNA) vs. Shawn Michaels. Not sure why they focused on just that one match. I get why they ignored Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero and Booker T vs. Chris Masters, but why the others?
2 — C.M. PUNK & MVP & KOFI KINGSTON & CHRISTIAN vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN & FIT FINLAY (w/Hornswoggle) & KANE & MARK HENRY
This match featured the eight MITB competitors. A minute into the match, for some reason a few seconds of Flair talking could be heard. Lawler paused briefly. They cut to an early break at 2:00 as Finlay applied a leglock on Punk. How did Finlay end up teamed with the heels?
Christian battled Shelton after the break. Christian hit a monkey flip, but Shelton landed on his feet. Christian punched Finlay at ringside, then chaos broke out with all eight. Kofi dove off the top rope and knocked Kane out of hte ring. Henry then collided with Kofi center-ring. Punk dove at Henry, but Henry caught him. MVP tripped Henry and knocked him to the floor. Punk then sling-shot himself over the top rope onto Henry. Christian surprised Shelton with his Unprettier for the win.
WINNER: Christian in 6:00.
STAR RATING: *1/4
-Afterward, Finlay brought the ladder into the ring and hit Christian and Punk from behind. He knocked Henry and Atlas off the ring apron with it. Hornswoggle joined Finlay in celebrating in the ring.
-Cole threw to a video package hyping “12 Rounds,” which opens in theaters on Friday.
-Lawler plugged the AC/DC theme for WrestleMania. Cole said it almost feels like WrestleMania tonight. Boy, is he right, in the sense that they’re giving away half the card. They threw to a video package on the Orton-Triple H feud.
-Todd Grisham interviewed Orton backstage. It seems that Grisham still being the interviewer on Raw despite being host of ECW indicates they want to keep him on the A-show so if he has to replace either Cole and Ross – and he’s obviously next in line if either departs – he’s a familiar face to Raw viewers. And it keeps them from having to pay someone else to appear for a minute per show, too, of course, and hold the mic. Orton cut a standard promo, saying Triple H and his family brought this upon themselves. He said he was willing to wait until WrestleMania, but he had to up the ante, so he’s going to raise him and do something later that makes what he previously did seem tame by comparison. Lawler called it “a disturbing threat.”
-Edge’s full ring intro took place. Lilian Garcia introduced the interim G.M. of Raw next. Chavo Guerrero wheeled her out.
-An ECW commercial hyped Carlito & Primo vs. Miz & Morrison, but it wasn’t clear if they were promising a match or just acknowledging their match at WrestleMania 25. Pretty tricky of them.
-Edge walked up to Vickie who gave him about as close to a literal cold shoulder as it gets. He moved in toward her ear and she turned away slightly and looked blankly ahead, like a broken, conflicted woman. The Big Show’s entrance then took place. Cole asked Lawler which one of those two really loves Vickie. Show walked up to Vickie and she gave him the same cold shoulder. Edge looked on, studying her reaction to Show. Lawler said Vickie is obviously upset at both of them. Cena appeared on the big screen. He wished them both luck. He said he’s in California about to do “The Tonight Show.” (He taped it earlier, though, since the Tonight Show takes place late afternoon and is pre-taped). Cena mocked Show and Edge for needing Vickie’s love. He said everyone is laughing at them. He told them to prove there’s a reason they’re competing at WrestleMania. He said, “After WrestleMania, there’s a good chance both of you will have slept with Vickie Guerrero for absolutely nothing. Good luck.” Lawler snickered.
3 — EDGE vs. THE BIG SHOW
Big Show gained early control. Big Show then looked down at Vickie and said, “He doesn’t deserve you!” Show chopped Edge’s chest at ringside and repeated to Vickie that Edge doesn’t deserve him. Edge went after Show’s leg in the ring at 2:00. Edge DDT’d Big Show. Show came back and tied Edge up into the ropes. As Show wound up to hit Edge with his big KO punch, Vickie sent Chavo into the ring to stop him. The ref called for the bell.
WINNER: No contest in 3:00.
STAR RATING: 1/2* – Not much to it. Which is good, since they should save this for WrestleMania.
-Show walked toward Chavo angrily. Edge went to spear Show, but hit Chavo. Show then gave his KO punch to Edge, knocking him out cold. Show then walked to ringside and approached Vickie in her wheelchair. He just looked at her sternly, said he did that for her, and then walked away. Lawler pointed out that Big Show has knocked out both Cena and Edge.
-Cole plugged the Triple H vs. DiBiase & Orton match.
-A clip aired of JBL winning the IC Title.
4 — REY MYSTERIO vs. WILLIAM REGAL
JBL joined Lawler and Cole at ringside, whom JBL called “King and Queen.” JBL took offense at Rey challenging him at WrestleMania. JBL listed a number of wrestlers from the 1960s who he said would have loved to have had a chance to be part of WrestleMania including Pat O’Connor and Gorgeous George. JBL promised something historic at WrestleMania. Lawler asked for a clue.
Meanwhile, in the ring Rey played possum after a kick to the nose, then surprised Regal with a flurry of offense and a 619 leading to the win. JBL got up and applauded Rey’s win. Rey dropkicked JBL in the face. Lawler said that was uncalled for. Cole said JBL was mocking and taunting Rey.
WINNER: Rey in 4:00.
STAR RATING: *
-Cole threw to a video package on the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker feud including clips from last week’s Raw.
-After the break, the Undertaker stood mid-ring as his music played. Taker said while it’s true he has never defeated Michaels, he wanted Michaels to keep in mind that the last time they met, he spent five agonizing years on the sidelines deciding whether it was worth it to return. “Now you say you’re not afraid of me,” he said. “On Sunday, April 5, we will find out. When you stand across the ring from me and you start to question your own faith – and you will – just remember, it is you who opened the Gates of Hell.” Michaels interrupted on the big screen. Michaels stood over an open grave in a cemetery. He said there is a reason he kicked him in the face last week. He said everything he’s accomplished in his career he’s accomplished by seizing the opportunity and staying one step ahead, therefore he’s on his turf in a cemetery, breathing the air. He said it may seen almost sacrilegious, “but I call it defiance.” He said he respects him, but he doesn’t fear a confrontation with him. He said the streak began with a victory over a Superfly, then the Man with a Snake, and he continued to walk through each of his opponent. They brushed over Sid and the late Big Bossman. He ended with a clip of his win over the Rated-R Superstar. Michaels said the grave he stood over isn’t for himself, it’s for Taker. He said that’s where his streak will be buried. He then rolled his eyes back and said, “Rest… In… Peace!” He began shoveling dirt into the open grave. They went back to the grave where Taker was shaking with anger. Lawler said nobody has stood up to Taker like Michaels. Lawler wondered if he has a death wish. Taker paced in the ring as Lawler oversold the idea that he had never seen this side of Taker before and wondered who’d show up at WrestleMania. It felt a bit forced, but the video was good with a cool walk through his streak and a show of bravado by Michaels.
-Santino Marella stood mid-ring and complained about not being allowed to wrestle in the Diva Battle Royal at WrestleMania. He said he is going to be the winner. Beth Phoenix and Rosa Mendez shot him startled looks. He complained that he isn’t being allowed in the match because of his “genitalia.” He said he was told if he can beat Mickie James with one hand tied behind his back, he will show he is man enough to be Miss WrestleMania. A graphic showed 17 Divas, leaving eight mystery slots.
5 — MICKIE JAMES vs. SANTINO MARELLA (w/Beth Phoenix, Rosa Mendez)
Santino tried to intimidate Mickie early, messing with her hair and charging at her. Mickie moved and tripped him to the mat, then tied both of his hands behind his back. Lawler said it looks like she’s at a rodeo. Santino stood up and said he doesn’t need any hands to beat her. She offered a test of strength. He kicked her to the mat and headbutted her. A second headbutt missed, but she sold it anyway. Santino tried to steamroll her, but she avoided him and then dropkicked him for a soft two count. Santino kicked Mickie and then tried to climb to the top rope. He had trouble getting up there without any hands. Mickie got up. When Mickie swung at Rosa, Beth jumped onto the ring apron and accidentally knocked Santino to the mat. Mickie then hit a spin kick for the win.
WINNER: Mickie James in 2:00.
STAR RATING: 1/2* — Entertainining for what it was, other than that botched headbutt that showed a lot of light.
-Cole plugged the main event two-on-one match.
-An ECW commercial hyped the VIP Lounge would feature MVP’s fellow competitors in the MITB match.
-WWE Fact: Last week, ECW was the most watched show on the SciFi network for the 25th week in a row.
-They showed Cole and Lawler at ringside. They pushed the opening night of “12 Rounds.” They threw to another video feature.
-Cole and Lawler hyped the WrestleMania 25 line-up.
-The ring intros for Orton and DiBiase took place. Cole said Cody Rhodes was injured last week in the cage against Triple H. He said Orton has promised to raise the ante this week.
-Clips aired of the Jericho-Flair angle from earlier. Lawler looked into the camera and couldn’t contain himself. He said Flair probably won’t be on Raw next week, but he will be. He called out Jericho next week on Raw. “You want some legends, come get a piece of one right here!” he said. That was a taste of the promos that could have been had Vince McMahon given Jerry Lawler the spot against Jericho and given Lawler his first WrestleMania match.
-Triple H’s ring intro took place.
6 — TRIPLE H vs. RANDY ORTON & TED DIBIASE
Triple H speared Orton to start the match. He was soon overwhelmed by the two-on-one odds. Orton punched away at Triple H. It’s just jaw-dropping that WWE gives away Orton vs. Triple H in any form of a match two weeks before WrestleMania. Triple H made a comeback at 1:00. When he reached for his sledgehammer, out popped Cody Rhodes. Cody handcuffed Triple H’s wrist. Orton, DiBiase, and Rhodes threw Triple H into the ring. Triple H tried to fight back and actually tackled Orton to the mat. Eventually the three heels (somehow!) manager to hold Triple H down and cuffed him to the top rope. Lawler said it was like a pack of dogs attacking Triple H. Orton grabbed a mic and said there’s only one person who can save him now. “And she had better hurry,” he said. Orton then grabbed Triple H’s sledgehammer and brought it into the ring. Triple H showed some signs of life, so the heels beat him down again. As Orton measured a swing of the sledgehammer, which would have shattered his skull, Stephanie ran out crying and shaking her head no. Orton told her that it was up to her to stop them now. She stepped onto the ring apron, pleading with Orton to stop. He moved toward her as she got the horror movie face when the villain corners the girl in the cabin. DiBiase and Rhodes stood behind her. Orton grabbed Stephanie into a DDT position. Triple H warned him not to. Orton stared down Tripel H and DDT’d her face-first into the mat. Triple H collapsed onto the mat and began sobbing. He reached toward Orton, but came up a few inches short as Orton stared him down.
WINNER: No contest on 1:00.
Orton rolled Stephanie over. Triple H tried to drag her to his corner to protect her, but Orton pulled her away. By this time, there’s just zero credibility – and everyone watching is thinking this – that nobody from the back has come out to stop it. I mean, it’s not like everyone in back went home or was locked up. Why wouldn’t any of them stop Orton from something well outside the realm of mere cheating to gain an advantage. Orton set the sledgehammer down and leaned over Stephanie and moved in for a kiss. He kissed her lips as Triple H threw a fit in the corner. Orton looked up with a heelish smile and then taunted Triple H. If Triple H really loved her, he’d have found a way to saw off his hand to break free from the cuffs and then attacked Orton with his free hand until he passed out from blood loss. That’s what a real brave, caring husband would have done. Orton then jabbed Triple H hard in the side of the head with the sledgehammer. He then stood over Stephanie again and sized her up. A few fans chanted, “One more time,” wanting Orton to kiss Stephanie again, apparently. Orton milked the moment and then stepped out of the ring.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Regarding Triple H-Orton, it is what it is. They’ve set the bar so high they have to go to this level to push a main event feud, but they push so far that it’s not taken seriously because it just seems unrealistic things would get to this level – especially with no wrestlers from the back coming out to try to save Triple H and Stephanie. I mean, why not introduce guns and simulated or implied rape? If taking this this far is supposed to sell tickets, why not go all the way? Whatever the reason is not to actually go that far, the same reason applies to this type of angle, too. The Michaels-Taker segment was fine, the Edge-Show-Cena stuff was more along the same lines with a tone that is a little too “Lifetime” movie of the week, nothing has been done to make anyone care who wins or loses the Money in the Bank match, and the Jericho-Flair angle is still resulting in a lame match with three hapless legends. So overall, WrestleMania 25 still comes across as a relatively flat show compared to past WrestleManias, and WWE must sense it because of these angles that reek of desperation. “The Next Big Thing” in pro wrestling is going to be when WWE pulls back 80 percent and reconditions the audience for a year or two to respond to something more subtle, less, well, like being hit over the head with a sledgehammer, and back to building the idea that the “thrill of victory and agony of defeat” and the ego and pride and prestige of winning matches and titles is enough to drive these great athletes to compete and make fans want to invest in seeing someone win and lose. Then love-triangles and home-invasion and kiss-sledgehammer revenge angles won’t be necessary.
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