Monday Night Raw
Date: December 24, 2007
Location: Camp Speicher, Tikrit, Iraq
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler
It’s the annual Tribute To The Troops show and this time around it happens to air on Christmas Eve. I can’t imagine that is going to go well for the audience numbers but this is a special show that gets some special treatment. The match quality isn’t going to be the point here either but let’s get to it.
We open with a look at the United States Army helping the Iraqi people and a voiceover about how important this whole thing is.
Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho
Non-title. Jericho goes with an armdrag to start and Orton is a bit frustrated early on. Some choking in the corner annoys Jericho, who comes back out with an armdrag into an armbar. A dropkick to the leg takes Orton down again and Jericho elbows him in the head. They head outside with Jericho chopping away, then borrowing a soldier’s camera for a quick photo (that was cool). The distraction lets Orton get in a quick shot to the ribs though and there’s the hanging DDT as we take a break.
Back with Jericho fighting out of a chinlock but getting kneed in the ribs to put him right back down. The knee drop misses so Orton grabs a sleeper, which he switches straight into another chinlock. Jericho finally belly to back suplexes his way to freedom, followed by the missile dropkick for two. The enziguri into the bulldog sets up the Lionsault for a slightly delayed near fall but Orton goes to the eye. There’s the backbreaker to drop Jericho but he’s fine enough to counter the RKO into the Walls….and JBL’s music rings, with the bell making Jericho think he won. Then JBL gets in the ring for the DQ.
Rating: C+. They had a fun match (with the camera spot being worth a smile), though the DQ finish is a bit of an odd choice in a non-title match on a show like this one. Maybe WWE didn’t want to dampen the soldiers’ spirits by saying “yeah but he doesn’t win the title”, but it was kind of a strange feeling. At least Jericho vs. JBL should be fine going forward and a good way for JBL to get back in the ring.
Post match Orton hits Jericho with the RKO and heads off, leaving Jericho to eat the Clothesline From JBL.
Long video on the WWE people meeting the troops, including Vince McMahon asking two women which is grabbing, uh, him, during a photo.
Jeff Hardy vs. Carlito
Non-title. Again. Carlito backs into the corner to start, with Hardy getting smart by hitting a dropkick to the back to stagger him anyway. Hardy’s headlock doesn’t last long so Carlito tries a leapfrog, which is countered into something like a spinebuster (that might have been some miscommunication).
Back up and Carlito sends him into the ropes, where Hardy slides outside and high fives the front row (that could have easily been a regular spot). They switch places and Hardy hits a baseball slide, only to get caught with the Backstabber back inside. A quick Sling Blade gives Hardy two but the Twist of Fate is countered into a swinging neckbreaker for two. Carlito loads up the apple (as he is known to do) but walks into the Twist of Fate. The Swanton finishes for Hardy.
Rating: C. Totally simple match between the two here and that’s all this should have been. What matters is giving the fans a nice moment, though I’m even more confused why this wasn’t a title match. If Hardy is going over clean, why not have it be a title defense?
The troops talk about what they miss about America but they love putting up military art to spice things up a bit and make it a bit more their own. Cool.
We hear a story about a suicide bomber killing 19 soldiers in a mess hall. Not so cool.
Quick video on the progress that has been made so far.
Here is Vince McMahon for a chat. He gets straight to the point and thanks the troops for everything they do. With that simple message out of the way, let’s bring out the Divas.
Kelly Kelly/Layla vs. Maria/Mickie James
Yeah they’re over with this crowd. Joined in progress with Layla working on Maria’s wrist before we’re off to the catfight. Kelly comes in and gets kicked in the ribs as Lawler is having all of the fun you would expect here. Mickie comes in to avoid Kelly’s handspring elbow in the corner and gets in the required spanking. Everything breaks down and Maria and Mickie hit stereo Bronco Busters….but Vince stops the match.
Vince says the soldiers have gotten enough of this and Santa Claus IS NOT COMING TO IRAQ! Cue Santa, with his arm in a sling, to call Santa naughty. Vince didn’t want Santa coming here but he didn’t realize that Santa’s sleigh was built Army strong. Santa remembers that Vince stole a magazine from a convenience store as a kid.
Vince doesn’t buy it but Santa has a letter from Vince as a child (Santa: “It’s over 100 years old!”). See, Vince wanted a rooster as a child, plus a Red Rider BB gun! Vince pulls the beard off and it’s John Cena (shocking I know), who hits a one armed FU. With that out of the way, Santa has the Divas throw out gifts from his sack for the feel good moment.
Video on the progress the military has made in recent months.
There was a re-enlistment ceremony in the arena.
More wrestlers meet more troops.
The military has taken over a soccer stadium where the Iraqi national team was killed for losing a game. That stadium is where this show is taking place.
Rey Mysterio vs. Mark Henry
Henry shoves him down to start but Mysterio is dumb enough to hammer away. Some headbutts put Rey in the corner but he comes back again with a few dropkicks. A gorilla press drop gives Henry two and we hit the bearhug. Rey bites his way to freedom and gets clotheslined for another two. The splash misses though and a springboard seated senton gives Rey two of his own. Henry misses a charge in the corner and gets hit with the 619. Another springboard seated senton and a rollup are enough to give Rey the pin.
Rating: C. It’s as much of a David vs. Goliath match as you can get and Mysterio has known how to wrestle those for the better part of ever. All he had to do was keep moving and make Henry miss and he would be fine, which is exactly how the match went. Nothing wrong with this one as it’s pretty much Mysterio’s bread and butter most of the time.
Soldiers tell stories about improvised explosive devices injuring them at various times.
John Cena explains various military vehicles and a soldier gets to say hello to his family.
Chris Jericho talks about his trip, ranging from the 16 hour flight to meeting troops.
D-Generation X vs. Mr. Kennedy/Umaga
We’re joined in progress with Shawn atomic dropping Kennedy and dropping him (less atomically) him again with some right hands. Umaga breaks up an early superkick attempt to give Kennedy two before coming in to headbutt Shawn. There’s a knee drop for two as the fans get behind Shawn rather quickly. It’s back to Kennedy for the front facelock before Umaga puts on the nerve hold.
An uppercut stops Shawn’s comeback attempt and Kennedy’s Regal Roll gets two. The middle rope splash misses for Umaga though and it is time to clean house. HHH goes through his usual array of offense before getting run over by Umaga to cut that off fast. The Samoan Spike is broken up by the superkick through and it’s another superkick to send Kennedy into the Pedigree for the pin.
Rating: C+. This is another match that could have headlined dozens of house shows and it did well enough here. What matters is the good guys going over to send the troops out happy and they did that just fine. It wasn’t exactly a complicated match but they made things work with the basic match they were trying to have.
Some troops get to pose with DX.
One more music video of WWE meeting the troops wraps us up.
Overall Rating: B-. This is one of those shows where the ratings don’t matter whatsoever and that was definitely the case this year. The matches were all basic and the highlights were the videos of WWE interacting with the troops. It’s not supposed to be a regular show but they got the point across and had some fine enough matches along the way, so we’ll call it good.
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