We start the show with William Regal in the ring, lights off, and Lillian Garcia hesitantly at his side. We see she is clearly forced to sing God Save The Queen to the crowd as Regal listens proudly. Great way to open the show. Immediately sent the crowd into hysterics and we were on our way. After explaining that he wouldn’t turn off the lights during the show tonight, he did threaten and succeed at throwing Mickie James’ brother and girlfriend out of the arena. Another fun idea. Cena’s music eventually hits and he comes out to make “the save.” This was smart on WWE’s part. If you want the crowd to cheer Cena, put him next to the guy that they hate more than anyone else on the roster. And it worked. This was an energetic way to start the show.
Back from commercial break and we’re into our first match, Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly vs Carlito and Santino Marella. Sitting ringside, at the request of Santino, was none other than Roddy the Piper. After a show stealing performance from Piper last week, we now get to see “Cartino” battle the tag champs. This was a nice opening match, nothing great here, but some solid stuff from Rhodes and Santino. The finish saw Rhodes hit a DDT for the three-count on Marella after a distraction from Piper. I understand that Carlito and Santino are being booked as more of a comedy act than a wrestling team, but I would like to see more focus put on their matches, especially when they are the number one contenders to the tag titles. Out of a possible 9 stars, I will give this match 5 stars.
Our second bout of the evening features Mr. Kennedy vs Snitsky. After seeing Snitsky on TV tonight, I feel confident that the Wellness Policy is at least being enforced to some degree by WWE officials. His definition has been drastically reduced, and he has much more flab in the stomach and waist area. As well, I was looking at photos of Kennedy from his early days in OVW, and it’s very clear that he too has seemed to have either eliminated the “juice” completely, or has severely reduced the amount he uses. In any case, I think it’s good to see these guys starting to physically represent the effectiveness of the Wellness Policy. That said this was a solid match. Kennedy is really becoming comfortable, smooth, and quick in the ring. Although he was up against Snitsky, he was able to pull a pretty good match out of him and pick up the win after he hit the Mic Check. 6 Stars.
Backstage Santino threatens to “hurt” The Piper. Funny stuff as always.
Cut to John Cena making himself some coffee as he’s approached by the women’s champion Mickie James. She asks the Marine himself out for drinks following the show, and after a few classic Cena one-liners that were classically dull, he agrees to a “wild” night with Mickie. Someone should warn him to take a look at the photos of Mickie online, he might change his mind. You could drape an entire window with her meat-curtains. I think you can actually buy curtains like that on sale at Bed, Bath and Beyond. You’ll find them in the Beyond section because those things are beyond disgusting. Anyway, I digress.
Up next we have Mickie James and Maria taking on the team of Melina and Beth Phoenix. This was an interesting match. Aside from quality wrestling between Melina and Mickie, which is not surprising, an interesting situation occurred when Beth Phoenix actually walked out on Melina halfway through the match. I liked this because you generally never see a heel walk out on a heel, and it sparked what could be a great in-ring wrestling feud between Melina and Beth. 5 stars for this match-up.
Back from break and Jericho makes his way to the ring to apologize to HBK for not believing he had a valid injury. This was great in my opinion. I like how they turned the tables here. Y2J seemed genuinely sorry that he didn’t believe Michaels, and when he was confused by Shawn’s confession that he WAS in fact faking the injury, Jericho was confronted with another dose of Sweet Chin Music. And damn was it ever stiff looking. All in all, I am very excited for this match at Judgment Day. Could be a show-stealer.
And now for the much needed and anticipated return of Jeff Hardy. Hardy cut an interesting albeit brief promo upon hitting the ring. I liked that he admitted he made a mistake instead of attempting to gloss it over like he’s done in the past. With the presence of the internet and the new policy of making drug test violations public, WWE made the smart move by having Jeff admit to what everyone already knows. After Regal came out and abruptly interrupted Hardy’s return promo, he announces that Hardy will face Umaga in his return match. The bell rings and we are underway with Jeff Hardy vs Umaga. Hardy looked like he hasn’t missed a step in his absence and this was another solid, yet too brief, contest between the two talents. We have heard rumblings that Umaga may be making the switch to Smackdown in the near future, and I think this is a good idea as he seems lost in the shuffle on Raw at this point. The finish of this match saw Hardy get the 3 count after a beautiful looking Whisper in the Wind. 6 stars.
Hardy’s return is followed by another contest with an interesting post-match incident. Cryme Tyme vs Cade and Murdoch. The match itself was nothing to speak of, very brief and not too exciting, although Cryme Tyme has been very over with the crowd since returning to the WWE. I guess their pop tonight wasn’t all that surprising considering they were in the Cryme capital of the world. Although it is a lot safer now that I’ve moved out. (Wink, Wink) The match saw Murdoch get the pin on JTG and a nice celebration by Cade. After Cade insisted that Murdoch sing a victory song, he blasted his tag team partner with a very hard, stiff looking right hand to the face. I have to say, even though I saw this break up coming for awhile now, I was surprised it came tonight. You rarely see a tag team member turn on his partner after a win, it’s always after a series of losses. And although they were losing, Murdoch’s new singing approach to wrestling has given them an upswing. So I thought this was a creative way of approaching the turn, and by the way, Murdoch does have a pretty good voice! 4 stars for this match.
Back from break and Melina is questioning Beth as to why she walked out on her in their match. Beth blames it on the fact that Melina hit her with her boot the previous week on Raw, and believes that she did it on purpose. This prompts Melina to attack Beth and we have a nice brief Catfight. Short but brutal, I look forward to a match between these two talented Divas.
We’re now on to our main event of the evening, John Cena vs Randy Orton. I was excited from the moment this match was announced at the top of the show because like Cena or not, he ALWAYS has a great outing with Randy Orton in my opinion. And this was no different. Great, fast paced, back and forth match that saw an interruption by Regal toward the end. The GM was accompanied by JBL, who said that Regal felt the current ref of the match was “unfit” to be the official, and was being replaced by none other than Bradshaw himself. JBL hits the ring, and Cena goes right after him. The two brawl until Orton comes in and assists JBL, which is answered by a run-in from the WWE champ, The Game. HHH and Orton battle in the ring as a steel cage is lowered! Great preview for their match this Sunday night. The show ends with HHH standing high on the top of the cage while Orton looks on after being thrown out. Fun, wild, and electric finish to the show. 7 stars for the main event.
Overall a solid show from beginning to end tonight. Technically, the show gets 5.5 stars, but I was impressed enough with the overall entertainment side of the show tonight to add 1.5 stars. Therefore, Raw gets an overall rating of 7 out of 9 stars.
-You can’t beat old school. Piper still has it. He’s one of the most entertaining personalities I’ve ever seen in a ring.
-Why was Cena drinking coffee? Why do all wrestlers drink coffee backstage? Wouldn’t Gatorade be a better choice before a match?
-Is the verdict out yet on exactly what knee HBK supposedly “injured?” He’s been favoring the left, but the right clearly buckled and was sold at Backlash. So was this a mistake or part of his bluff?
-They need to get rid of Snitsky. The only thing about him that deserves a push are his teeth.
-Why does WWE change entrance music so often? First it was Hardy, then Kennedy, now Orton. Seems unnecessary. Recognizing the first note of a wrestler’s entrance is a key part of getting the crowd heated up.
-What happened to the Kennedy/Regal build? They did nothing with it tonight. I was certain this was a lock for Judgment Day. If it isn’t, they need to make this match happen at some point.
Thanks for reading as always, and remember, you can send me feedback anytime at WZNick@hotmail.com. I’ll be back tomorrow to post some of your thoughts right here on Wrestlezone.com!