Monday Night Raw
Date: December 31, 2007
Location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
We’re wrapping up the year with this one as Raw is back to a regular show after last week’s Tribute To The Troops. There is a big main event set up for this week as Ric Flair is defending his career against HHH in one of his most famous locations. That’s quite the way to finish off the year so let’s get to it.
We open with a video on Randy Orton, who is officially the Greatest Raw Superstar Of 2007.
Here is Orton in the ring to get things going. Orton says the letters RKO define this year and promises to be even more ruthless next year. Either way, he will be WWE champion, but here is Jeff Hardy to interrupt. Hardy says Orton had a great year but right now, he doesn’t have momentum. We see a clip of Hardy pinning Orton last week, which Hardy says he can do it. Orton says ask Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels and John Cena about momentum and threatens Hardy. An RKO attempt is countered into a Twist of Fate and Hardy gets to pose as the build continues to grow.
Video on Ric Flair’s dilemma, as he has to retire the next time he wins a match, as per Vince McMahon’s orders. For a bonus, Vince is making Flair face his friend HHH tonight.
Matt Hardy is here to see Jeff Hardy and thinks the Royal Rumble could be Jeff’s night. In addition, Matt might be back at the Rumble and if Jeff wins that night, how about Matt gets the first title shot? Jeff could go for that, but Matt shouldn’t expect to win.
Mr. Kennedy vs. Shawn Michaels
They start fast with Kennedy taking him to the mat but Shawn is back up for a standoff. Some armdrags set up an armbar on Kennedy before Shawn drives him knee first into the mat. The half crab goes on for a bit until Kennedy gets up and spears him through the ropes. Shawn barely beats the count back in and we take a break.
Back with Kennedy working on the leg for a change and kicking him in the face for two. Shawn gets tied in the Tree of Woe for some boot choking, followed by a superplex for two more. The seated abdominal stretch doesn’t last long as Shawn fights up and hits the flying forearm. Shawn misses the top rope elbow though and Kennedy grabs a rollup for two. The pinfall reversal sequence gets a bunch of near falls but the superkick misses, allowing Kennedy to grab the Mic Check for the clean pin.
Rating: C+. Pretty good here with Kennedy working over the back for most of the back and avoiding the elbow to hurt it even further. Shawn was desperate and Kennedy capitalized on the missed superkick to get the win. I don’t buy Kennedy being anything important anytime in the near future, but he did well enough here.
HHH isn’t happy with having to fight Ric Flair tonight but he’ll give it his all. Vince McMahon, with William Regal, comes in to gloat. Regal throws in a bonus: if HHH loses, he’s not in the Royal Rumble. Well that makes things more interesting.
Big Dick Johnson and Jillian Hall dance/sing in the New Year, setting up a Ron Simmons cameo.
William Regal is in Vince McMahon’s office when Vince gets a phone call from someone from USA. With that seemingly meaningless, Vince wants Regal to prove himself tonight in a match with Hornswoggle. Regal would be happy to show him some tough love. Oh and don’t worry about Finlay because he’s in Northern Ireland. Regal was looking a bit rough here.
We look at Jim Duggan winning the first Royal Rumble.
Royal Rumble Qualifying Match: Jim Duggan vs. Umaga
Duggan fires off right hands to start and gets knocked down with a single shot. The running hip attack connects in the corner, which draws blood from Duggan’s mouth. Umaga Samoan Spikes him for the easy win.
Ric Flair is talking to Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes when Vince McMahon comes in. Vince gets straight to the point: it’s over for Flair tonight, and there is no more limousine riding or kiss stealing.
Here is JBL for his Raw debut, so yes we do get balloons falling from the ceiling. We also get A LOT of pyro before JBL talks about how great it is that he is here, even if he doesn’t need to be here. He is here because he likes power and crushing people under his thumb. If he can’t buy it then he will take it, but here is Chris Jericho for the brawl. Referees and agents break it up (with commentary laying out for added effect).
In the back, JBL, with a bloody nose, yells at the agents and makes various threats.
Women’s Title: Melina vs. Mickie James vs. Beth Phoenix
Beth is defending and gets kicked in the face by Mickie, setting up an early Thesz press. Melina comes in for a cheap shot and gets two on Mickie, which doesn’t set well with Beth. A double enziguri drops Beth but Mickie neckbreakers Melina for two. Back up and Melina breaks up a hurricanrana to Beth but gets dropkicked in the face for her efforts. A rollup gives the challengers a near fall each and a double dropkick sends Beth outside. The MickieDT plants Melina but Beth throws Mickie outside and fisherman’s busters Melina to retain.
Rating: C. They were getting in as much as they could here but you can only get so far in four minutes with three people involved. It was about trying to get a pin as fast as you can and that was only going to work for so long. These three could have a good match, but they were handcuffed by the time here in a big way.
William Regal vs. Hornswoggle
Vince McMahon is here with Regal and gives Hornswoggle a pre-match hug. Regal is in street clothes and backs Hornswoggle into the corner with as much trouble as you would expect. The big left hand is loaded up….but Regal can’t do it. Vince gets on the apron for some glaring and orders Regal to do it, allowing Hornswoggle to get in a cheap shot. Regal again loads up the left hand but won’t do it. Vince even throws in the brass knuckles but Regal still doesn’t hit him. That’s enough for Vince who comes in to slap him in the face and say Regal failed the test. We’ll call it a no contest somewhere around here.
Post match Vince tells Regal to get out of here and asks what happened to him. Regal leaves and looks disgusted (as only he can).
We look back at Jeff Hardy taking out Randy Orton earlier tonight.
Jeff Hardy vs. Santino Marella
Non-title and Santino has Maria and Carlito with him. Santino starts fast and gets in a few shots in the corner but Jeff is right back with a sling shot dropkick. Cue Randy Orton on the screen though, where he kicks Matt Hardy where his missing appendix used to be. And in the head too (as Roddy Piper once said to Gorilla Monsoon).
HHH wishes Ric Flair luck, but implies that the match is a foregone conclusion. Flair doesn’t like that, but says they’ll always be friends because HHH is what Flair was 20 years ago. HHH isn’t the man until he finishes Flair, even if they’ll always be friends. For one night though, Flair is going to be the man again. HHH: “You be the man and I’ll beat the man.” Good line.
HHH vs. Ric Flair
HHH’s Royal Rumble spot vs. Flair’s career. Flair WOO’s to start and the fans seem to like him here. A early takedown lets Flair strut and HHH is starting to look a bit more serious. The right hands vs. chops battle goes to Flair so HHH knees him down. Flair fights out of the corner though so it’s a facebuster to take him down for two.
There’s a neckbreaker for two and a spinebuster makes it even worse for Flair. The Pedigree is countered into a backslide for two so HHH is right back up with the sleeper. A suplex gets Flair out of trouble and a butterfly suplex drops HHH again. Flair goes up and actually manages to hit a high crossbody (in a Starrcade callback) before starting in on HHH’s knees.
The Figure Four is broken up though as HHH kicks him into the corner but the knees are still banged up. Now the Figure Four goes on and Flair even drags it back to the middle. The second attempt at the rope works a bit better and HHH hits the Pedigree, only to bang up his knees again. Cue William Regal to hit Flair with the brass knuckles for the DQ.
Rating: C+. This could only be so good as they didn’t hate each other and Flair can’t get to that level anymore. The match was more about giving Flair one last hurrah in Greensboro and that was just fine, as it is one of those important towns for him. It was even a pretty good match, but they had some heavy limitations.
Overall Rating: C+. You can feel the build to the Royal Rumble starting up and that is a great thing to see. It makes things feel that much more important as it means Wrestlemania is on the (very distant) horizon and everything gets cranked up. This includes Jeff Hardy, who has a rocket on his back right now and I’m looking forward to seeing him every week. Good show here, and the road to the Royal Rumble is on, meaning things should keep going up
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