But after so much hype, suspense, and anticipation – despite it being what the man himself called “the worst-kept secret in wrestling” – fans finally have something to be excited about after tonight’s historic episode of Raw.
As if this category needed any real contemplation – the The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla, The Sexy Beast, The King of the World, The Human Highlight Reel, The Man of 1,004 Holds (we could go on and on with these) Chris Jericho has returned.
We watched through the night as a marathon runner worked his way toward the arena to symbolically pass the torch to WWE Champion Randy Orton. As the show neared its end and the torch bearer ran through the arena, he was suddenly met with a hard clothesline. Although the assailant didn’t face the camera, Jericho’s signature back pose made it quite obvious who had ruined Orton’s ceremony.
The crowd erupted and the Y2J chants ensued. Then came the code promo, asking fans “Did you break the code?” If finally deciphered itself to read “SAVE_US.Y2J.” Then came the countdown we all remember in a modernized version. Insert a mega pyrotechnics moment, and then the music – Break the Walls Down!
Jericho entered as he always did, back facing the crowd and arms raised before coming out and playing to the fans for quite some time. The man looks good, if I may say so. Smaller, but definitely in good shape and well cut. (As well as clean cut – no long hair or facial scruff for Y2J.)
“Welcome to Raw Is Jericho!” he announced. “This is here, this is now, this is the second coming of Y2J!”
Face, heel, or whatever – it’s been so long since I’ve seen such great mic work on the WWE. Watching Jericho work truly excited me – and I can’t wait for what’s next. The man made it clear to a shocked Orton that his mission is to save the WWE from RKO and take the WWE Championship for himself.
In the wrestling world we’ve been faced with lately, some good mind you, Jericho’s return is – in my book – already breathing some fresh air back into the biz. As the man said, strap on your seat belts because I’m sure it’s going to be a fun ride.
Glad to have you back, Chris.
Speaking of masters of promos and mic work, we also were treated to the news that The Nature Boy Ric Flair will finally return next Monday. Not a moment too soon in my book.
Now, I’ve heard the detractors. But let’s face it, the man is a legend and is arguably the best that’s ever hit the ring or held a microphone. I’ve been craving for word that things would be worked out and Flair would be back – hopefully for one last major push before he hangs up his boots. I know that he’s probably stayed in the game a bit too long for some, but I’d much rather see WWE let the man loose to do the things we all know and love about The Nature Boy than go quietly into the night.
Is it just me, or was there a pyro malfunction on Jeff Hardy’s entrance? Well, it’s a downer, but these things happen.
And again, WWE, can we please find some other gimmick for Jillian Hall? If it wasn’t for the fact that I might miss something important while covering the show, I would be turning the channel every time it even looked like she was going to get on a mic.
Think ol’ Hulk could work things out with Vince long enough to have Brooke show up and kick her ass?
And finally, as Downsiders are concerned, what’s the deal with Carlito? I mean, based on the news that he’s probably on his way out, I was surprised to see him in the first place. But to have the man go out there, lose to Hornswoggle – even if it was thanks to Finlay – and then have Hornswoggle spit apple in his face?
How’s that for a severance package?
Jeff Hardy and Umaga put on what I thought was a really good match tonight in the wake of Umaga’s defeat at Survivor Series last night at the hands of Hardy and HHH.
Hardy went on the offensive immediately, with a few retaliatory hits by Umaga failing to slow the Intercontinental Champion down until he fell victim to the Samoan’s size with a hard shoulder block putting Hardy down. Umaga then grounded Hardy by locking in on his trapezious – returning to the hold several times despite Hardy’s efforts to regain his footing.
Umaga nearly lost the momentum when he missed an avalanche on a cornered Hardy and felt the mat via a DDT, but the larger contender recovered quickly enough to knock Hardy from the apron and into the barricade below as the champ prepared to go up top.
After a break, Umaga has Hardy down and locked in the trapezious again. Hardy fought his way up and attempted a scoop slam – actually getting the big man up but falling under the weight for a near fall. Umaga kept him grounded, hitting a leg drop and planting a knee to the chest for another near fall. Then, a nicely executed kick put Hardy down for two near-fall attempts.
Umaga picked Hardy up and hit a couple of blows to the head, but Hardy managed to hit a hangman and head to the top rope only to be caught in mid-air and slammed hard to the mat. Just as you think it might be over, though, Hardy kicked out once again.
Back on offense, Umaga eventually went to the turnbuckles himself but missed the attempt at what I thought was a flying head butt – but the announcers called a splash. Both men struggled to get up, and the Bulldozer was back on the offensive dishing out blows to put Hardy in the corner. The Samoan Wrecking Ball – or as I like to refer to it, the “butt avalanche” – missed its mark opening the way for Hardy to hit the Whisper in the Wind for a near fall.
Back to his feet, Umaga was staggered by forearms from Hardy. Hardy then went for the Twist of Fate but was shoved off by Umaga who then caught Hardy’s kick attempt, only to get an introduction to Hardy’s other foot. Umaga then charged at Hardy in the corner, but found nothing but ring post. He still managed to avoid an attempt at the Swanton Bomb from Hardy, and then hit the Samoan Drop on the “rainbow-haired warrior.”
Dazed, Hardy still managed to duck the Samoan Spike and hit the second attempt at the Twist of Fate. As Umaga rolled from the ring, Hardy nailed him with a drop kick through the ropes and then a suicide dive over the top rope appeared to have the match completely in the IC Champ’s control.
It was then, however, that – for no apparent reason other than Vince wants to get the man out there somehow – Snitsky appeared and attacked Hardy. A now-recovered Umaga teamed up with the former Tiger (Missouri football, folks) to send Hardy from the ring. It wasn’t long however before Triple H’s music hit and he headed out to help his SS partner, hitting a spinebuster on Umaga, a facebuster on Snitsky, and sending both from the ring over the top rope with clotheslines.
As Hardy was announced the winner by disqualification, he and HHH stood together in the ring, The Game slightly behind Jeff – was anyone else thinking it might be time for HHH’s heel turn? Well, not tonight.
Some good humor came afterwards as HHH was interviewed by Todd Grisham, who asked him why he ran down to Hardy’s aid. “What do you mean,” asked Hunter. “Everybody knows what a good guy I am – the good Samaritan of the WWE.
“You’re not buying that for a second are you?” he then asked.
HHH then said that there’s two guys, Snitsky and Umaga, walking around saying they are bad asses, but he was the real bad ass around the WWE. He also said that he and Hardy had nothing in common except respect, and then went into a bit about Todd hooking up with a transvestite last night at a bar, to which Grisham replied, “I swear it looked like a woman!”
– How can I RKO thee? Let me count the ways. Well, a trio of stars fell victim to RKOs through the night as Orton kept coming out to update fans on the progress of his marathon torch runner. Falling victim tonight were Jerry Lawler, Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly.
– HBK started the evening by coming out to the ring and saying he had no excuses – the better man won last night. He invited Orton to the ring to “shake his hand,” but Orton refused via the Titantron, saying “you expect me to think you just want to shake my hand?” Michaels confessed, “Alright, you got me. I was gonna kick ya again. But if it makes you feel any better, I wasn’t going to do it until I challenged you to a rematch.”
– Continuing the last Nutsheller, it was then that Mr. Kennedy came out to the ring. He had a stare-down with HBK for a moment, then did his reach for the microphone but was promptly slugged by Shawn and clotheslined out of the ring. Kennedy pulled The Showstopper out of the ring and whipped him into the ring post.
– Jerry Lawler beat Santino Marella for the second time tonight, right before he fell victim to an RKO. Some funny moments in this match however as Marella, who had gained the upper hand, took Lawler’s crown and mocked him. “Look at me, I’m Jerry Stupid Lawler.” He went off about puppies, making fun of women, and screwed up some of J.R.’s terms before Lawler regained control. As a heel, Marella is growing on me I think.
– Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes met in singles action tonight just 24 hours after teaming to try and win tag-team gold. Holly had the upper hand most of the match until Rhodes worked his way out of the Alabama Slam, got a roll-up for a near fall, then hit a DDT to finally – perhaps once and for all – earn Holly’s respect. Congratulations! RKO’s all around!
– Something more will be brewing between Finlay and VKM in the wake of the Irishman saving Hornswoggle from Great Khali at SS. In a backstage segment, they appeared to be buddy-buddy, but Finlay actually poked fun at Vince’s age and his claim to also be Irish. Will Finlay be going face? Stay tuned.
– Mickie James and Maria took on Melina and Jillian Hall. The bout ended with the “Long Kiss Goodnight” as MJ planted one on Jillian to win it.
– Next week we’ll see HHH and Jeff Hardy in tag action against Umaga and Snitzky.
– Did I mention that Y2J is back?
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!
Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report?