Oakland, CA Announcers: Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler
- And we say farewell to the Westminster Dog Show and thank them for making us miserable for seven years in the nineties as we open our show in the arena and are immediately joined by the Nature Boy Ric Flair! Whoo! Natch looks pumped up as he hits Raw for the first time in nearly a year. He is already tearing up as he tells us he missed us and feels good to be back. A year ago, he was fighting for his career, knowing that the next time he lost he would have to retire from the greatest sport in the world. The time came at Wrestlemania and he lost to the great Shawn Michaels and he couldn’t have lost to a man he had more respect for. He has no regrets and he is honored…but he is also interrupted by Chris Jericho. He won’t stand back and let Flair waste airtime waxing nostalgic about his career. Jericho has another comment for Flair: think about last year when he officially said goodbye to the business for good the night after Wrestlemania. Jericho shows a slow motion clip of he and Flair embracing on Flair’s farewell night. Jericho hugged him out of respect but if he knew Flair would become a prostitute and crave the spotlight more now than ever and the horrible example he would set for all performers, he wouldn’t have hugged Flair, he would have slapped him in the face. Flair says if he knew Jericho was a condescending, insecure punk, he would never, ever tell Flair what to do. He has never sold out and will never wrestle again. He has too much respect for Michaels and WWE. Looking at Jericho, he is losing more respect by the minute. Flair adds that he respects the fans and Jericho is incredulous, calling the fans hypocrites. Jericho asks why Flair would sign up with any promoter that pays him to sign autographs and shake hands with these losers. But Flair is the problem because he has to be in the spotlight and be center of attention. Flair agrees and says he loves the spotlight but just because he retired from the ring, that doesn’t mean he has to retire from the business. He loves meeting the fans and sharing stories and Jericho will never wake up a day in his life that he will tell Flair what to do. He lives his life how he wants to because he can. Jericho says he gets that Flair’s life is none of his business, but when you are an honest man like Jericho, a lot of people tell him that. It is his business because he is a locker room leader and he has a roster of wrestlers that respect him more than Flair. He can pat himself on the back that he hasn’t returned to the ring yet, but he inevitably will because he cannot walk away from the business without dignity. That is the point of the Wrestler that Flair doesn’t get: the fans don’t care about him or the legends. They patronize you now, but when the show ends, they go home and post pictures on Facebook and then forget about him forever. Flair doesn’t realize it and until he does, he will continue down Mickey Rourke’s character, but he has no director telling him to stop. Jericho will tell him to stop catering and patronizing the parasites and allowing them to leach off him. He is telling Flair to tell the fans he doesn’t need them any more and he won’t embarrass himself for their entertainment. He tells Flair to tell the people he is better than that them. Flair refuses to do so and Jericho is fine with that. He tells the crowd to keep their eyes on Flair if they want to watch a clown. Take out your cameras to get a picture of Flair for the last time…until he decides to come back again. He asks Flair to strut around like a puppet, do your Whoo, do all your tricks like a good dog and pander to the parasites. Every picture taken is a reminder of how low Flair has fallen and he has no one to blame but himself for that. Flair finally snaps and pops Jericho in the face. Jericho leaves the ring and Flair struts a bit as we go to a video package highlighting Shane’s acceptance of Orton’s No Way Out challenge and the ensuing happenings throughout the night. That opening promo was killer stuff by two of the best, but Jericho really stood out as a star out there, which is fantastic to see.
1) Beth Phoenix & Jillian Hall vs. Melina & Kelly
We are back and Santino, Rosa, Beth and Jillian are in the ring. Cole tells us that Beth gets a crack at Melina’s title next week. Melina and Kelly head down the red carpet and we are set for Diva tag action. Jillian and Kelly start off and Kelly lands a dropkick before tagging Melina in. Melina grabs a wristlock and slugs away in the corner. Jillian fires back but Melina kicks her in the head. As the referee checks on Jillian, Beth yanks Melina down from the apron. Beth tags in and she clubs away at Melina before getting a two count. Beth slams Melina but misses a legdrop. Melina ducks a clothesline, punches Beth and kicks her in the side of the head. Santino cries about a fast count as Melina yanks Jillian in the ring. She tries a springboard off the ropes, but Rosa trips her up. Beth takes advantage and crushes Melina with the chick wing powerbomb to pick up the win. Phoenix & Hall d. Melina & Kelly when Beth pins Melina with a chicken wing powerbomb; Grade: 1
- Our first Wrestlemania moment of the night highlights Wrestlemania III and we then head to break.
- We are back and Shawn Michaels walks in to meet up with JBL. JBL wanted to remain Shawn about their No Way Out match this Sunday. JBL wanted to make sure Shawn remembers he is still an employee and JBL controls all his matches. He has entered Shawn in a tune up match tonight against Mark Henry. JBL walks off as Shawn ponders. Back in the arena, we are hearing voices as Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase emerge on the ramp. Randy says that lost in all of the McMahon controversy is the fact that he won the Royal Rumble. He will main event Wrestlemania against the champion of his choice. While everyone else may not be thinking about it, he hasn’t stopped. He will be Champion! Nobody or nothing can stand in his way, not Vince, Shane nor Stephanie. Unfortunately, Steph has been intimidated because she thought she was getting punted last week on Raw. He was never going to do that, he just wanted to show Shane what could have happened if he wanted it to happen. He doesn’t want to hurt Steph; he wants her to be around so he can see the look in her eyes when he takes out another family member. The Undertaker couldn’t stop him at the Rumble and he won’t tonight. If Taker can’t beat him, what chance does Shane have? Orton confers with his troops and then sends them to the ring for their match, but first we have a break.
2) Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase vs. Cryme Tyme
We are back and checking out the Bay Bridge before heading back inside as Cryme Tyme makes their way to the ring. Cody and Shad start off and Shad beals Cody into the corner and clubs away. He beals Cody across the ring but he eats a boot on a charge. Cody tags in Ted, who drills Shad from behind as Cody distracted him. Ted smacks Shad around and then he tags Cody back in. They work Shad over in the corner and Cody tags back out. Ted stomps away and makes the quick tag. They quick tag again, mercilessly hammering away at Shad. Ted wrenches him down and then kicks him in the head for two. Ted locks in a reverse chinlock. Shad breaks it with an armdrag, catches Ted’s boot and shoves him off. Both men make tags and JTG lands a clothesline. He follows with his spinning clothesline and then he drops Cody with the Mug Shot face plant. Ted breaks up the pin, but Shad pitches him to the floor. DiBiase yanks Shad to the floor, which draws JTG over. Cody attacks him from behind and hits his STO, which Cole tells us is called the Crossroads, for the win. That was a good tag match as Rhodes and DiBiase are locked in on the heel formula right now. Rhodes & DiBiase d. Cryme Tyme when Rhodes pins JTG with the Crossroads; Grade: 2
- Cole sends us to a video package of John Cena attending a Gillette Q&A event. He was joined by Derek Jeter, Tiger Woods and Reggie Bush, which is some pretty great company for Cena to be hanging with.
- We are back and are joined by some of the Oakland Raiders in the crowd. They brawl in their seats as the fire and brimstone engulf the arena for our next match.
3) Kane, Mike Knox & Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston & John Cena
Kane heads out, Knox follows and Jericho is out last. Cole runs down the Chamber rules as Rey, Kofi and Cena all make their entrances. Cena gets his usual monster split pop and we hit a break. When we return, Kane is punishing Kofi, but Kofi ducks a clothesline and lands a dropkick. He kicks Kane away and lands a high cross body from the top and follows with the Boom legdrop for two. Kofi kicks away but Kane shoves him off. He eats a back elbow on a charge, but Kane recovers and takes Kofi down. He tags in Knox, who keeps the assault on. Knox wrenches in a rear chinlock as Cena and Rey rally the crowd. Knox misses a charge in the corner and Kofi tags in Cena. Cena drops Knox with a shoulderblock and the spinning slam. He drops the Five Knuckle Shuffle and hoists Knox up for the AA, but Kane comes in and breaks it up with a right hand. Knox stomps on Cena and then tosses him to the floor. Kane runs Cena into the ring apron as Jericho ties up Charles Robinson. Back inside, Knox lands a stiff right hand and tags Kane back in. Kane drills Cena and tags in Jericho. Jericho slingshots Cena into the bottom rope, neck first. Cena fires back but Jericho hoists him up off a charge and spikes him to the mat. Jericho cranks in a chinlock as the crowd gets behind Cena. Cena fights up, but Jericho maintains control and tags in Kane. Kane lands a clothesline in the corner and gets two before he goes to a chinlock. Cena fights up and kicks Kane, but Kane catches Cena on a charge and plants him with a sidewalk slam for two. Kane lines up for the chokeslam, but Cena pops up and hits the AA. Cena is too spent to help and he crawls over and tags Rey. He nails Jericho with a springboard senton and hammers away. He takes Jericho over with a huracarrana and plants him with a bulldog for two, but Knox makes the save. Knox charges Rey, but Rey ducks and Knox crashes to the floor. Rey trips Jericho into the buckle and tags in Kofi. Kane reaches in and tosses Rey out of the ring with one hand. Kofi floats over to the apron and then he leaps off the second rope with a blind dive, but he jumps right into the Codebreaker and the three count. That was a fun match and I liked seeing Cena play face in peril to mix it up. Jericho was on, as always, as he busted out some good offense. Jericho, Knox & Kane d. Kingston, Mysterio & Cena when Jericho pins Kingston with the Codebreaker; Grade: 3
- Backstage, Steph is on the phone but can’t get a word in. She says she isn’t provoking Orton by just showing up and being GM. She doesn’t trust Orton and security is close by. She promises she will careful and says she can handle herself. She says they all have a lot going on this weekend and says goodbye. I think Steph is turning and joining Legacy on Sunday. Shawn is walking and his tune up is next.
- The Just For Men rewind recaps the Michaels/JBL promo from last week, establishing the No Way Out match.
4) Shawn Michaels vs. Mark Henry
Back inside the Oracle Arena, Shawn Michaels is joining us for what could be his last week of employment with JBL Enterprises. Somebody is going to get their wings clipped, though, as Mark Henry and Tony Atlas head to the ring. A bell rings, but it is the stock market bell as JBL joins us at ringside. Michaels leaps on Henry before the match starts and the ref separates them to ring the bell. Michaels charges again, but Henry shoves him off. Michaels sends Henry into the buckle and just hammers away at him all the way out to the floor. Henry stops the flurry and hoists Shawn up, but Shawn slips free and runs Henry into the post. Shawn slides a chair in the ring as Atlas distracts the ref. Shawn and Henry slide back in as Shawn grabs the chair. Henry takes it from him, but Shawn drills Henry and the chair with SCM, drawing a DQ. Henry d. Michaels by disqualification; Grade: .5
- JBL grabs the mic and tells Shawn that if he flips out and gets DQ’d on Sunday, then he will lose. When JBL wins, Heartbreak Kid will always be synonymous with Layfield Enterprises. What Mickey Mouse is to Disney, Shawn will be to JBL. He will put Shawn’s name and likeness on everything he owns. JBL tells Shawn to bring his wife to No Way Out because JBL wants his wife to witness first hand what a broken down old man her husband has become. JBL wants to look at her when she realizes he has gambled and lost the only opportunity to keep the Michaels respect in tact. Shawn will be the loser and JBL will win, like he always has. JBL starts to leave, but he lets Shawn know that his office will always have a place for such a beautiful and talented lady. That was tremendous mic work yet again by JBL.
- The Friday the 13th Slam of Week brings us Regal’s win over Punk in a mixed tag match last week.
5) CM Punk vs. William Regal for the Intercontinental Championship
Punk is out first as he looks to finally put Regal away. My boy CC Sabathia is ringside as William Regal and Layla head out. Regal assaults Punk off the bell with some stiff knees to the temple. Punk is wobbled early, but he fires back at Regal. Punk goes for the G2S, but Regal elbows free and slugs Punk down for one. Regal locks in a nasty chinlock/cobra clutch combo. Punk fights to his feet and tries a sunset flip but Regal headbutts him and goes back to pounding away at the head, gaining a near fall. Regal takes Punk over with a pair of throws and tries for a kneelift, but Punk kicks him first. Punk hoists Regal up and drops him with the G2S for the win. That was short, but stiff as hell and a nice win for Punk. Punk d. Regal with the G2S; Grade: 2
- Our next Wrestlemania moment highlights the Austin/Hart war and Undertaker’s championship win over Sid at Wrestlemania 13.
- Hunt You Down by Saliva is the No Way Out theme and we are thanking them for it. Cole runs down Mickey Rourke’s award nominations and we get some highlights of his Best Actor win last night at the BAFTAs. We then head back to earlier tonight when Jericho ran down Ric Flair but got drilled in the mouth for it. Off of that, Cole and King run down the No Way Out card and we go back to last week to watch Orton punt Shane once again. Back live, Randy Orton is walking and our main event is next.
6) Randy Orton vs. Undertaker
We are back and Randy Orton is stalking his way to the ring. Steph is looking on from backstage as Orton hits the corner and gazes into the crowd. Then, the arena goes dark, the bell tolls and the crowd explodes as we experience a rare Raw appearance of the Undertaker. Orton is unfazed and locked in on Taker as he disrobes and the lights come up. The bell sounds and the two men lockup, with Orton backing Taker into the corner and slugging away. Taker turns him around and returns the favor and then puts Orton down with a clothesline. He sends Orton to the floor with a second clothesline and follows him outside. Orton blocks Taker and runs him into the barricade and heads back in. Taker snaps Orton across the top rope as he comes in. Taker keeps beating on Orton until Randy bails to the floor. Taker follows him out and slugs him down as we go to our final break. We are back and Orton is in control as he hit his hanging DDT during the commercial. Taker fights back and lands an uppercut but Orton snaps him over with a powerslam on a charge and gets two. Orton goes back to the chinlock but Taker fights up and takes him over with a back suplex. The two men trade right hands in the center of the ring. Taker shoves Orton to the corner and follows with a clothesline. He drops Orton with snake eyes and a big boot and then drops a leg for two. Taker hoists Orton up for the Tombstone, but Orton and DiBiase come in to break it up and draw the DQ. Undertaker d. Orton by disqualification when DiBiase & Rhodes interfere; Grade: 2
- The Legacy works over Taker and Orton sets up for the RKO, but Shane comes out and breaks things up. The distraction allows Taker to plant DiBiase and Rhodes with Chokeslams as Orton bails up the ramp. Shane grabs a trash can as DiBiase is slumped over in the corner. He sets the can up on Ted and heads up top. Shane goes coast to coast and drills DiBiase with the trash can. The kid still has it! Orton and Shane stare each other down and we are out. That final segment bumped the grade up a bit for me, as it capped off a good show that flowed right along the whole way through. Enjoy No Way Out and we will see you next week!
Final Grade: B+ MVP: Chris Jericho Runner Up: CM Punk & Shane McMahon Non MVP: William Regal Runner Up: Mark Henry
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