The show was filled with memories, humor, and even a couple of title matches. Unfortunately, despite the grand fashion in which most of the show was held, most the the matches tonight seemed to be mere filler for the rest of the pomp.
While I can admit I enjoyed the show for the most part, it was indeed disappointing to not have the strong backbone of great matches to make it much better – especially being the last episode of Raw before Armageddon.
But, with so much to cover, I’ve decided to do things a bit different tonight. You’ll find the usual categories, The Headliners, High-fliers, Downsiders – but The Nutshellers will be broken up to review both the good moments as well as moments that weren’t so great, but not quite bad enough to fall into The Downsiders distinction.
Well, there wasn’t much here that had an effect on things leading into Armageddon. But there were certainly some goings-on worthy of making the top-news category.
– Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes defeated Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch to win the World Tag Team Championship. I’d been feeling for a while now that they’d elevate Rhodes/Holly to this point, but the bad part about it is the match was way too short. Nevertheless, things turned south quickly for the defending champs when Cade accidently hit a hard clothesline on Murdoch. Rhodes took Cade out of the ring with a clothesline of his own, Holly hit the Alabama Slam on Murdoch and that was all she wrote. The American Dream was on hand to help his son celebrate the win.
– Rob Van Dam shocked the hell out of me when he showed up tonight. It was good to see him in a ring again, even if it was an extremely short squash of Santino Marella. The match couldn’t have been more than 60 seconds, but it was enough to remind me why I kinda liked ol’ RVD.
– Hulk Hogan, after all the news about he and the WWE falling out, not only showed up tonight to save Hornswoggle from Great Khali – but he also hailed the WWE as the “greatest company alive.” He told the fans that he loved them, missed them, and again told them to “never say never.” He then gave a Macho Man Randy Savage style, “Oooooo yeah!!”
– Evolution reunited for the show – well, sort of. Batista, Ric Flair and Triple H all came to the ring with their own intros, exchanging hugs as they came in. Randy Orton, however, did not join the festivities. He reminded the other three of when they turned on him when he was the World Heavyweight Champion, to which HHH replied, “it was pretty cool. But if it makes you feel better, we didn’t beat you up because you were the champion. We did it because you were a pain in the ass!” Orton said if he was going to be remembered for being part of any organization, he wanted to be remembered for being in Rated RKO with Edge, who came out to join the WWE Champ.
– The 15-man over-the-top battle royal was a big disappointment for me. This match was to feature Raw stars from the past 15 years, but just didn’t get my blood pumping like I’d hoped. We saw Al Snow, Bart Gunn, Doink the Clown, Repo Man, Steve Blackman, Pete Gas, Bob Backlund, Gangrel, IRS, Flash Funk, Scotty Too Hotty, Skinner, Jim Neidhart, Sgt. Slaughter and The Goon get in the ring. Then, I have to admit, I was fooled. We see a backstage scene with a guy knocking on a dressing room door – and I thought for a moment WWE had pulled off the ultimate coup! But alas, out came Gillberg, who was immediately picked up by all competitors and tossed from the ring. Good riddance. IRS actually won the match, but out came The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase who promptly offered IRS money to eliminate himself, leading to DiBiase being declared the winner. Well, I liked that part at least. More of the memories.
– When are they going to stop the insanity of having us listen to the supposed musings of Jillian Hall? That alone will always qualify for The Downsiders. The rest of the segment involving Jillian doesn’t however, so we’ll finish covering that later.
Without question, the ladder match between Jeff Hardy and Carlito for the Intercontinental Championship was the best action of the night.
Carlito was second to enter the ring, but right away went for a ladder. Hardy went to a baseball slide, which Carlito dodged and hit Hardy in the face with the ladder he’d retrieved. Carlito too the ladder into the ring and started to climb, but was stopped by Hardy. Hardy attempted a Twist of Fate, but was shoved off by Carlito who then hit a hard clothesline.
Carlito then put Hardy in a corner with the ladder in front of him and charged, but Hardy had the sense to toss the ladder at the charging Carlito. The ladder was then laid flat with Carlito on it, and Hardy jumped out to try and hit a portion of the ladder hanging out of the ring, but Carlito got out of the way of the other end just in time. He then, from inside the ring, shoved the ladder into Hardy on the outside pinning him against the barricade.
Hardy eventually recovered and drop kicked Carlito off the ring apron and onto the ladder below. The champ then used a second ladder to begin a climb. In a nice move, Carlito sprung from the top rope onto the ladder to intercept Hardy, then went over Hardy to hit a nice sunset flip powerbomb. As we go to a break, the crowd could be heard chanting “Holy Sh*t!”
Back from the break and Hardy has the upper hand again, with Carlito on his back. Hardy went to the top rope and vaulted over a ladder for a Senton, but Carlito dodged the move. Carlito then attacked the knees of Hardy, even sandwiching one knee in a ladder. Hardy was then scoop slammed into a ladder, and Carlito began another climb for the title. Hardy recovered to give chase, dishing out some clubbing blows before catching an elbow from Carlito. Back to mat level, Carlito chop blocked Hardy to put him down again.
Carlito set a ladder up on the second turnbuckle and dished out some blows before charging at Hardy, who promptly back body dropped Carlito into the ladder. Hardy went up top and did a Swanton Bomb, but didn’t catch much of it at all. He then started another climb, but Carlito knocked the ladder over and then reversed a Twist of Fate attempt into a Backstabber onto a ladder.
Carlito began yet another climb, and even got his hand on the belt as Hardy came up and dished out right hands, eventually knocking Carlito from the ladder and retrieving the belt to preserve his championship reign.
– The intro video for the show was great to see, with segments used from all 15 years of the show. I may just be nostalgic, but I love this stuff.
– The first segment of the show was pretty funny, I thought, as Vince tried to get his family together for a portrait. (Mrs. McMahon was notably absent with what Vince described as some gastrointestinal thing.) Hornswoggle came out to join Vince, Shane and Stephanie and was WAY over with the crowd. Then just as they’re getting ready to take the shot, who should arrive but Triple H!
– In the final segment, Vince came out and – of course – announced himself as the greatest Superstar in Raw history. His reward? The mandible claw courtesy of Mankind and Mr. Socko, a choke slam from The Undertaker, and a Stunner from Stone Cold. He also had beer poured all over him by Austin, Hornswoggle and Triple H as he lay at ringside, and most of the Superstars came out for a beer bash to celebrate the anniversary. Notable in this part was that SCSA said the fans were the greatest superstars in Raw history. Also notable – Regal had a Coke rather than a beer and didn’t get stunned for it!
– Eric Bishoff was out running his mouth, playing the heel as he always did so well. Enter Y2J, and the two exchanged barbs for a bit before Jericho finally belted Bishoff. Orton then attacked Jericho from behind, but Chris was ready for him and promptly had the WWE Champion tapping to the Walls of Jericho.
– Lita and Trish Stratus both came out during Jillian’s “musical segment.” It appeared that the former rivals were going to relive the past, but they joined forces to instead beat up Jillian and exchanged hugs afterwards. And, um … is it just me or were those “puppies” on Trish bigger than I remember? I miss those too.
– The flashbacks, plain and simple. It was fun looking back on some of the past 15 years on Raw.
– The match between Mr. Kennedy and Marty Jannetty was a bore, and the crowd certainly showed it. Kennedy picked up the win, then continued to attack Jannetty. HBK came out for the save and Kennedy cleared the ring, only to attack HBK from behind as he checked on his former partner. Then Triple H came out, and we had a mini DX reunion.
– Although I can see the humor in it for some, I thought it was rather silly to have the segment backstage where Kane and Lita ran into each other, exchanging meaningless smalltalk like an uncomfortable ex-couple. Ron Simmons showed up to save the day with his signature “DAMN!”
Don’t like my take? Let’s hear yours! Send me your e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org … the best and worst of the bunch may be featured in the weekly editions of Sean Oâ<80><99>Macâ<80><99>s Pullinâ<80><99> No Punches (found in the editorial section). Remember, short ones are good, long ones may be cut, and keep the name of the column in mind when you come looking for answers!