- We kick off the show with a recap of John Cena’s triumphant return to the ring last Sunday and all of the fallout the night after. We then cut to the concourse where Chris Jericho is standing by the merchandise table, mocking John Cena’s shirt and slogan. He starts walking as he continues on, saying he doesn’t want to mingle with the fans like he does and that is why he hired security to prevent them from touching him. He came out there so we could see the difference between Cena’s fans and him. He doesn’t respect Cena’s fans because they are nothing like him. He is walking down the steps and to the ring. He has accomplished all his goals, has morals, ideals and takes pride in his appearance. He never represented the people when he was Champion and he won’t again after regaining the belt. He climbs in the ring after admonishing a fan for touching him as he walked by. The crowd is booing loudly and he encourages them to do so, but it doesn’t matter at all to him because they aren’t worthy of being his fans. They are all worthless to him. There is one Cena fan worth saving and that is his son. Three years ago, Cena beat Jericho in a match that caused him to be fired from WWE. At age two, his son was too young at that time to realize how great his father was and the HOF status he had achieved. There is a big difference between ages 2 and 5 and in the time he was away, his son became a WWE and John Cena fan, much to his horror. He parades around the living room saying “the champ is here” and would tell Jericho “you can’t see me” as he dropped him off at school. Jericho did not like that his son’s hero was the man who got him fired. So, he took action and banned his son from watching WWE and he kicked, cried and screamed but he stuck to his principles. So, he didn’t see when Cena made his big return and stole the title and he didn’t see when Cena attacked him from behind last week and beat her mercilessly. However, he is lifting the ban at Armageddon so his son sees his hero get beaten down and destroyed by him. He wants to see the crest fallen looks and hear the gasps of disappointment when Cena loses the belt. He will be beaten down and exposed as a flash in the pan. His son will see his real hero coming home with the belt around his waist and that is him. Man that was great stuff. We abruptly cut to the opening animation and then head back into the arena for our opening pyro. We are welcomed to Washington, D.C. by Michael Cole and the King and they run down tonight’s card for us. We then head to the ring for our opening match.
- As Rey heads down the ramp to take on the Miz in a tournament match, we see that Mike Knox is standing tall in the aisle. Rey charges and attacks, but Knox quickly beats him down, dropping Rey on his arm on the steel ramp. Knox stomps away and leaves as Rey writhes on the ground yelling about his arm. As Rey is being checked on, we go to break.
- When we return, we get highlights of the Knox/Rey fight and it looks like our match may be off for now. Backstage, the Grish is with Stephanie McMahon and she tells us Rey has torn ligaments in her elbow. She runs into Layla and she petitions to have Rey removed from the tournament if he can’t compete. Stephanie agrees and walks off and he head back to the ring.
1) CM Punk & Kofi Kingston vs. Cody Rhodes & Manu in a non title match
As Punk heads down, we see that he was a grand marshal in the Chicago Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday. It’s time for our weekly cup of Kofi as well as Kingston charges down to the ring to join his fellow tag team championship partner. Cody and Manu head to the ring as Randy Orton looks on from the locker room. Cody and Punk start off with a wristlock battle which is won by Punk. He takes Cody down and then grabs a front facelock. He tags in Kofi, who goes to work on the arm. Cody is able to snap him to the mat, though, and tag in Manu. Manu tosses Kofi over the top, but he skins the cat and is able to pull the top rope down as Manu charges. Manu careens to the floor and Kofi follows with a plancha. Rhodes hops down and runs Kofi into the ring apron as we go to break. When we return, Punk and Kofi have regained control as CM is beating on Rhodes. Cody is able to land a shot and tag in Manu. They whip Punk into the corner and Manu follows with a slam. Manu hits the ropes and drops a big splash for two. Manu stomps away and tags in Cody. He takes Punk down with a drop toehold and then locks in a surfboard submission. Punk breaks the grip but Cody ducks a kick and puts Punk down with a clothesline for a near fall. Cody pulls Punk up and runs him to the corner. He tags in Manu who hits a big running splash in the corner. Manu gets a near fall. He plants Punk with a headbutt and follows up with another scoop slam. He tags in Cody who drops a stiff knee on Punk’s head. Cody gets a one count and then continues to wear down Punk with knees. He locks in a full nelson and tags Manu back in. Manu lands a shot but Punk starts to fight back with some kicks. He goes for a sunset flip but Manu blocks it with a right hand. Manu goes for another splash, but Punk slides out of the way and avoids it. Punk is about to tag, but Cody is tagged in and stops him. Punk turns and hits a knee to Cody’s nose and makes the tag. Kofi hits a big leaping clothesline and follows with a huge chop from the middle rope. He lands the Boom legdrop and gets a near fall but Manu breaks it up. Punk charges in and takes out Manu with a bulldog. Kofi blocks a roll up attempt and drills Cody with the Trouble in Paradise for the win. The match was solid but the end was great thanks to Kofi’s fun offense and great energy. That was a good win for the champs. Punk & Kingston d. Rhodes & Manu when Kingston pins Rhodes with the Trouble in Paradise; Grade: 2.5
- Randy Orton continues to look on backstage and then we head to break.
- We are back and are being graced with another DX Holiday gift giving idea. The best part about these spots is the cool DXMas remix theme song. They plug some merchandise, including the giant Elimination Chamber toy play set. Michaels goes into a funny twitching rant about assembling kids’ toys all night and morning on Christmas. He flips out and runs off as Triple H wraps it up. Shawn charges back in and bitches about kids playing with the box instead of the toy and that is that. Elsewhere, Manu and Cody are walking and they happen upon Orton. Cody wants to know what Randy is looking at and says Randy won nothing last night. Orton says they can keep gong on and on trying to top each other every week or they can talk about last Sunday. He saw potential at Survivor Series last week when he and Cody were the sole survivors. Orton says that they might not like him but they respect him. They don’t disagree so he continues on. He wants to take the first step towards realizing all of their potential tonight and he will be in his locker room if they are interested at all. We cut to Jericho outside a door. He paces and then walks through the door and finds Kane. He pumps Kane up and says that everyone in the locker room thinks Cena is going to win tonight and that Kane will tap tonight. Kane thinks that is what Jericho is saying and he tells him not to play mind games. He will take care of Cena tonight for himself. He will put on a show tonight because he loves the people and they love him. Jericho will get what he wants but he better not ever approach Kane again. Kane walks off and Jericho smirks as we go to break.
- We are back and congratulating Stephanie McMahon for being one of the "Twenty Rising Stars in Cable" courtesy CableFax. And we then go back to last week when Steph ran her brother Shane off of Raw and took over the show herself.
2) Melina vs. Jillian Hall
Back to the ring, Jillian is performing in a final attempt to garner some Slammy support. She is cut off by Melina, who sashays herself to the ring for our next match. Before we can get started, though, we are joined by WWE’s power couple: Glamarella! Santino gnaws on Beth’s bicep a bit and then they march down to the aisle arm in arm. Santino’s Mohawk is becoming a mullet-hawk and it is glorious. The bell sounds and the ladies lock up as Santino says they are out here to scout competition. Beth says Melina was impressive last week. Jillian tosses her out to the floor and then follows out. She runs Melina to the apron and shoots her back in. Santino thinks his rap will win him a Best Signing Slammy. Jillian puts Melina down and gets a near fall. Santino says they will win all of the Slammys in a n Avalanche. Jillian locks in a rear chinlock as Glamarella run down all of the awards they will be winning. Jillian slams Melina’s face to the mat and then she runs her shoulder to Melina’s gut in the corner. She ties the handspring elbow, but Melina gets her legs up. She follows with a seated dive and gets two. She hits a standing jawbreaker and then mares Melina over. Jillian fights back with some forearms. Melina lands a shot to the gut and then hits the Last Call for the win. Glamarella leaves the booth and Santino has a mic in hand. He tells Melina she doesn’t have what it takes to beat the Glamazon. Melina says that Beth may be the Glamazon but she doesn’t have what it takes to be glamorous. Melina will take her women’s championship. Santino calls her “Melanie” and says she thinks she is hot to trot with her entrance. He says anyone can do it, and he will prove it. Melina’s music starts up and Santino gives the old apron split a try but his tight jeans cause some issues. He finally gets his legs up but he crashes backwards to the floor and screams in pain. He yells that something wrong as Melina shows us how it is done. Melina d. Jillian with the Last Call; Grade: 1.5
- Santino holds himself and stumbles up the ramp as Melina watches on in the ring, laughing the whole time. We see JBL walking backstage as we go to break.
- When we return we get another look at the Santino split and subsequent reaction. Backstage, Santino is icing his crotch. As he relaxes, a pair of gloves hands begins giving him a massage. The massager rises behind him and we see that it was Goldust. Santino screams like a girl and runs off.
- JBL is sans limo tonight as he powerwalks to the ring in his dress shirt and pants. He takes his tie off as we get highlights from JBL helping Shawn Michaels last week. JBL has the mic and says he is still waiting to hear back from Shawn Michaels regarding his offer from last week. So, earlier today, he made another offer: street fight tonight. He wants to know Shawn’s answer…and we get his theme music and the man himself. Shawn is decked out in jeans and a camo shirt and it looks like the street fight is on like neck bone. JBL tells the ref to hold on and says that Shawn has a choice to make: fight JBL in a street fight or take care of his family in this financial crisis. JBL knows things and his wife saw the market crash coming. While most Americans blindly followed the leader, JBL stashed cash and invested in gold. He has prospered while Shawn lost everything: his nest egg, 401(k) and children’s college funds. Shawn looks around with all this responsibility, his wife and his kids and he wonders how he can send them to college. So, as an answer, JBL offers Michaels a job to come work for him. There are alternatives: he can wrestle until he is 50 or 60 like has-beens disgracing themselves in high school gyms all over the country or he can take the offer. JBL promises that all the DX t-shirt revenue cannot compare to his offer. While Michaels thinks about the offer, he better take a look at a realistic mirror. JBL sees that Shawn is not a picture of health and that the years have not been kind to him. He is one more fall or slightly awry bump through a table and he is done. JBL asks Shawn what else he can do besides this. So, the offer is on the table and Shawn has a second chance in life. He will help him out and make sure his kids can go to college. He offers again and Shawn just glares at him. JBL takes his hat off and tells Shawn to kick him in the face like the people want. He tells him to take the instant gratification and take the free shot like the people want. Shawn backs off and starts lining up SCM as JBL calls for it. The crowd is calling for it but JBL tells him the offer is off the table forever if Shawn kicks him. JBL sticks his chin out as Shawn is quivering and looking on. Shawn finally walks off dejectedly as JBL smirks and the crowd boos. JBL says he is looking forward to doing business and Lawler is in shock that the crowd is booing Shawn. He stops momentarily and then continues up the ramp and to the back.
- Hacksaw Jim Duggan and a real WWE fan are here to talk about WWEshop.com in a Geico spoof ad. Duggan gets in a funny line asking why they stopped making foam 2x4s before stomping around the room chanting "USA!"
3) Batista vs. Dolph Ziggler
Back in the arena, Batista has returned home to DC and is hitting the ring for our next bout. From Hollywood, CA, we now get the in ring debut of Dolph Ziggler and it will not be an easy one. Dolph has the mic in hand and he introduces himself to us all. Dolph offers a handshake but Batista does not oblige. Dolph tells Batista his name again and then smacks him in the face. He hammers away at Batista, but the blows do nothing so Dolph bails to the floor. Batista goes after him, but Dolph dives in the ring. He keeps avoiding Batista but hits a sweet springboard kick to Batista as comes through the ropes. Batista fights back but Ziggler hits a neckbreaker for two. He follows with some big elbow drops and gets another near fall. Ziggler eats a big boot on a charge and Batista goes for the spear but Ziggler leapfrogs it. He hammers away at Batista in the corner, but Batista carries him out for the Batistabomb. Ziggler slips loose and dropkicks Batista in the knee. He yells his name again and comes off the second rope, but Batista catches him and plants him with a spinebuster. Batista pulls Ziggler up and plants him with the Batistabomb for the win. That was a spunky match and Ziggler got some nice offense in. He may have potential here. Batista d. Ziggler with a Batistabomb; Grade: 2
- Well, Batista’s night is not over as Randy Orton’s music hits and he walks out to the ramp. He congratulates Batista on his victory but says that one day it will be Orton vs. Batista. Batista laughs about that and says he knows something Orton doesn’t. He talked to Stephanie today and Orton will be facing Batista at Armageddon. Orton is happy and says he has been waiting four years for the match and that he can’t wait. And that is that as Batista hits the corners to pose while Orton looks on.
- We are back and Orton is walking backstage. He runs into Chris Jericho who is still trying to gain allies against Cena. He asks Orton if he wants to go out there and end his comeback after Kane beats him down. He says Cena separates Raw into two sides. Orton says he is against Cena but he doesn’t need to fight Jericho’s battles. He will take care of Batista and then take out whoever the champion is. Jericho wants to know if it makes a difference that Orton beat Cena at Wrestlemania and it is forgotten and that Cena overshadowed Orton’s return from injury with his own and has totally overshadowed him altogether. That makes Orton think a bit and Jericho heads off.
4) John Morrison vs. Finlay in an Intercontinental Championship number one contender tournament opening round match
Morrison and Finlay make their separate entrances and we are set for our third tournament match. Finlay takes Morrison over with a headlock off the bell and then lands an uppercut. Morrison is able to trip Finlay up and clubs away at his chest. He misses a slingshot kick and Finlay gets a near fall. Finlay tries a move in the corner but Morrison hits a leaping kick for two. He hammers away at Finlay in the corner as Hornswoggle looks on. Morrison grabs a neck vise and then takes him down with a neckbreaker. Morrison walks over Finlay and heads to the middle rope, but Finlay catches him and slams him off for a near fall. Finlay rams his shoulder to Morrison’s gut but eats a boot on a charge. He battles back with a clothesline and seated splash for two. Finlay clotheslines Morrison over the top, but Morrison slugs Hornswoggle down. Finlay comes out to check on his son but Morrison kicks him into the steps. Morrison shoots him back inside and follows in. He drop toeholds Finlay into the ropes and lands an Enziguri for the win. Morrison moves on to the second round and celebrates as Hornswoggle looks on dejectedly. Morrison d. Finlay with an Enziguri; Grade: 1.5
- As we return from break we get a trailer for Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia staring Mr. Kennedy. Back to the arena now and we are joined by Stephanie McMahon, looking awfully like Diane Keaton on steroids in her glasses and big ass sweater shirt. Last week she took over Raw and this week she is announcing the nominees for WWF Superstar of the Year for next week’s Slammys: Edge, Batista, Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, Triple H and John Cena. Those men will face each other next week as Jericho battles Hardy, Cena battles Edge and Triple H takes on Batista. Cole takes us back to earlier when Mike Knox took out Rey Mysterio and knocked him out of the IC contenders’ tournament. The King tells us that Rey is insisting on wrestling, but he doubts it will happen. I guess we are about to find out as go to the ring.
4) The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio in an Intercontinental Championship number one contender tournament opening round match
Miz hits the ring and awaits his opponent as we go to break. When we return, we get a pause and the entrance of…Rey Mysterio as it looks like all the worrying was for naught. Rey’s arm is taped up and Miz goes right after it off the bell. Rey trips up Miz and hits the 619. He heads up top but misses the missile splash when Miz rolls out of the way. Miz hammers away at Rey and runs him into the corner. He seats Rey on the top rope and attempts a superplex, but Rey punches free and knocks Miz to the mat. Miz catches him and snaps him down by his bad arm for two. Miz misses a dropkick and Rey kicks him in the head. He hits a springboard seated senton and then takes Miz over with an armdrag. Rey goes for a cross body but Miz rolls through for a near fall. They trade roll ups and two counts. Rey lands a big kick to the head for two. Miz lands a boot to the gut but misses a clothesline. Rey charges and tries a huracarrana, but Miz blocks and flapjacks him. Miz goes for the Reality Check but Rey blocks it and gets a roll up for the win. Mysterio d. Miz with a roll up; Grade: 2.5
5) John Cena vs. Kane in a non title match
We are back and Kane is heading to the ring for our Main Event. John Cena is out next to a huge pope as it seems like DC digs him. Kane attacks off the bell and runs Cena into the buckle. He kicks away at Cena but Cena battles back with right hands. He lands a shoulderblock but Kane drills him with a clothesline. Kane drapes Cena over the apron and slides outside. He lands an uppercut and then shoots Cena back inside and gets a near fall. The crowd is now split on Cena as Kane lands a clothesline in the corner. He mares Cena over and grabs a rear chinlock. Cena fights out of it and tries for the FU but Kane wriggles free. He puts Cena back down into a seated position and hits a low dropkick to Cena’s face for two. Kane goes back to the reverse chinlock to work the injured neck. Cena kicks free but Kane is able to whip him to the corner and take him down with a sidewalk slam for two. Kane heads up top but Cena ducks the clothesline. Cena dives and locks in the STFU in the middle of the ring. Jericho comes charging down the aisle but Cena releases the hold and meets him in the aisle with a clothesline. Cena tosses Jericho into the barricade and heads back in the ring but is met with a Kane boot. Kane lines up the Chokeslam, but Cena kicks Kane and takes him down. Kane grabs the neck again, but Cena slips loose and hits the FU for the win. Cena d. Kane with the FU; Grade: 1.5
- Cena attacks Jericho on the floor and they brawl towards the back but Cena is jumped by Manu and Cody Rhodes. Cena fights them off but Randy Orton comes out and also gets involved. Orton overpowers Cena and then lines up for a DDT by draping Cena’s body on the ramp and standing on the floor. Randy looks around and then snaps Cena down with a sickening thud. That was nasty. They continue to land boots in on Cena as the crowd is calling for Batista. Jericho locks in the Walls as Cena screams in pain and we fade out.
The opening promo was tremendous stuff as you would come to expect from Jericho. He did a great job getting the crowd into what he was saying and the match he was promoting. He gave us a reason to hate him but all of points made perfect sense when you analyze them. That is the mark of a truly great heel and Jericho is just in another world right now. The Mike Knox experiment continues as it looks like a feud with Rey is in the cards. The tag match was good stuff and I like when champions pick up a hard fought TV win. It reminds me of the old days and helps build a resume nicely. The Orton/Priceless backstage segment was well done as the intrigue continues to build there. The women’s match was actually pretty good as Jillian was busting her ass out there. Glamarella rocked it as always and the Santino split was great stuff. The JBL/Michaels segment was fantastic as JBL just brought the goods. That was his best promo in a long time and I love that it is grounded in reality as well. I am glad Shawn didn’t superkick him and this may be the start of a second fantastic angle for Shawn this year. I already can’t wait to see where it goes. Dolph Ziggler had a nice little debut as he dominated the match until the quick finish. He had some good energy out there and the crowd seemed to enjoy getting on him throughout. Jericho continued to deliver the awesome in the brief encounter with Orton. Everything he says just makes so much sense. The Morrison/Finlay match was a bit disappointing but his match with Punk in the second round should be a good one. Miz and Mysterio delivered a much better match that had non stop action. Miz looked good and hung the whole way. Kofi and Rey should put on a great match next week. Cena and Kane worked hard and had an expressway match that was solid enough. The Cena/Jericho brawl to end the show was also good once again and Priceless got involved as we see the burgeoning relationship with Orton, who also helped beat down Cena. I was ready to give the show a B+ but that awesome heel beatdown at the end pushed up a level. With all that said, this was a really good episode of Raw. The crowd was hot and rowdy all night and they bought into pretty much everything. Everyone worked hard and all of the matches were solid. Jericho and JBL delivered world class promos and the Orton/Priceless storyline continues to deliver as well. This was an enjoyable show that flew by and the table has been set for a big three hour showdown next week. Final Grade: A-
MVP: John Bradshaw Layfield Runner Up: Chris Jericho Non MVP: Rey Mysterio Runner Up: Finlay
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