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Batista vs Cody Rhodes in a Steel Cage Match: I said it during my Raw preview, and I will say it again, I am tired of seeing top baby faces destroying Priceless in squashes that last mere seconds. Of course I would not have suggested that creative book Rhodes to go over Batista in a TV match before a PPV featuring The Animal in the main event, but if you want guys like Rhodes and DiBiase to be looked at as "the future" in WWE, you cannot bury them in the present. What would have been wrong with a competitive contest? Or if you don't want to give away too much of a cage match before you're going to have people pay to see one in 6 days, then why not have some type of run-in midway that ends with Batista gaining the upper hand? There are ways to book both superstars in a strong light. Creative did it with Orton and Batista, they could have done it with Rhodes also. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give last night's opening bout 3.5 Stars.
Kelly Kelly & Mickie James vs Beth Phoenix & Maryse: This was well booked in the sense that it finally took Rosa and Beth away from Santino and put more focus on them as wrestlers in a division that sorely needs them, but the actual match itself was mostly unremarkable. Nice distraction by Rosa at the end that included her more than she typically is, but in the end it was a rather short, plain bout. 4 Stars.
Carlito & Primo (c) vs William Regal & Matt Hardy: Regal is always a pleasure to watch in the ring, and is one of the most consistent in-ring talents Raw has on the roster. He is so physically intense when he's in the ring that every bit of offense not only looks believable, it actually looks like he's out there to compete and beat guys up. Another great showing by the pugnacious Brit. On the whole, this was a fun, fast paced bout, albeit a bit short. All four guys worked well together here, and I look forward to seeing a bout between the teams when the gold is on the line. 6.5 Stars.
The Miz & Big Show vs. John Cena & Chavo Guerrero: Another solid match that not only gave us a preview of the Cena/Show bout taking place this Sunday night, but it continued the budding feud between The Miz and John Cena. I will have to say, though, that I don't like how the announcers continually put Big Show over as "unstoppable," "unbeatable," and make claims that Cena is facing an impossible task, because they have said this well over a hundred times in the past when these two have wrestled and Cena always wins. I don't buy it anymore. It was therefore refreshing to see them tease during Show and Cena's "Judgment Day" bout and lately on Raw, that it might be impossible for Cena to make Show tap as he can't lock on the STF given Show's height. This adds an interesting layer of adversity to Cena's game plan heading into "Extreme Rules" and we'll have to wait and see whether or not he picks up the "easy" win like he always does. 6 Stars.
Kofi Kingston vs. MVP(c) for The United States Championship: This was an outstanding TV match, and in my opinion, a candidate for TV match of the year at this point. Both of these guys worked hard, and showcased some individual offensive maneuvers that we have never seen from either of them. MVP rolling with Kofi to avoid him breaking the wrist locks was very innovative, and Kofi hit a move that looked like a reverse Russian leg sweep at one point that was just amazing. The entire match was booked well, with tons of suspenseful near falls and an appropriate finish. I'm really looking forward to the Fatal Four Way bout this Sunday night. 9 Stars.
Vickie Guerrero vs. Santino: A really fast-paced match because I hit fast-forward. I can't rate this since it never started.
Ric Flair vs Randy Orton in a Parking Lot Fight to the Finish: This was brutal. Yes, the kick that did more damage to the oxygen surrounding Flair's head as opposed to Flair's actual head was a distraction, but this was a hell of a fight. These two guys really put it all on the line, and I don't mind Flair beating up on Orton as he is a wrestler after all, and he had the advantage of using illegal tactics and weapons when available that would not be available to him in a sanctioned match. Flair opening up Orton's chest with those hard chops was a violent touch, and the entire segment played well into the Batista/Orton program. 7.5 Stars.
Overall this was a solid show heading into "Extreme Rules" this Sunday and sold the Raw brand matches taking place on the PPV appropriately. There was a good mix of wrestling and story telling which combined for a fun night. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give last night's Raw broadcast 6.5 Stars.
-Creative finally discovered the perfect way to book Goldust and Hornswoggle last night: they left them off the show.
-Although he was released from the company and did not appear on Raw last night, we're receiving reports that Mr. Kennedy was still able to sustain a knee injury somehow.
-Flair punched Orton at one point with a right hand and Cole actually said: "Vintage Flair." Seriously? A punch? Shouldn't that be more aptly called "Vintage Any Wrestler At All Ever in the History of Wrestling?"
-I really liked the DiBiase/Orton interaction that ended with DiBiase saying "That's what Cody said." I really think WWE needs to concentrate on pushing Ted over Cody at this point as his mic skills are much better than those of Rhodes.