Monday Night Raw
Date: February 18, 2008
Location: Honda Center, Anaheim, California
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
No Way Out is out of the way and now we have a clear path to Wrestlemania XXIV in just over a month. It’s time to start the build and the good thing is you can probably see a few of the matches from here. As for this week, Vince McMahon gets to face Hornswoggle in a cage, because this story is still going. Let’s get to it.
Here is new #1 contender HHH to get things going. HHH talks about how happy he is, because last year he was getting ready to go watch Wrestlemania from a wheelchair backstage. Well now he is back where he belongs and he is going to become a 12 time World Champion, but here is (still WWE Champion) Randy Orton to interrupt. Orton says this title reign started with HHH, who he beat to become the champion. Four years ago, HHH was jealous of Orton because Orton was that much better.
Cue John Cena to interrupt as well because he wants to wait a cotton picking minute (Cena: “Yeah I went there.”). Cena accuses Orton of losing his way into Wrestlemania so tonight, let’s have a rematch for the title with the winner facing HHH. Orton appeals to HHH, who doesn’t really care who he faces at Wrestlemania.
Cue William Regal to say HHH is going to Wrestlemania no matter what, but tonight Orton will face Cena….in a non-title match. If Cena wins, he moves on to the main event of Wrestlemania in a triple threat match. HHH isn’t cool with that because he has already earned his shot, but Regal makes it more interesting: HHH can be guest referee for Orton vs. Cena. This was shorter than I would have expected to come up with something like that.
Money In The Bank Qualifying Match: Jeff Hardy vs. Snitsky
Snitsky shoves him down without much trouble to start and there’s the boot choke in the corner. Hardy isn’t having that and sends him into the corner for the slingshot dropkick. A big boot puts Snitsky on the floor in a crash and we take a break. Back with Hardy caught in a bearhug and then getting shouldered down hard. Three elbows give Snitsky two and we hit a crossface choke (minus the arm trap).
Snitsky lets that go and misses a big leg, allowing Hardy to hit the Whisper in the Wind for two. The Twist of Fate is blocked and a big boot drops Hardy for two more. The pumphandle slam is loaded up but Hardy reverses into the Twist of Fate. That’s enough to set up the Swanton to send Hardy to Wrestlemania.
Rating: C+. A smaller hero vs. a monster is something that will always work and they had it going well here. That is all you need in a lot of cases and Hardy being one of the most popular stars in the company helps a lot. They had a perfectly fine story here and Hardy knows exactly how to do a match like this one. Nice job.
Mike Adamle brings out Shawn Michaels for a chat. Shawn gets right to the point: the greatest wrestler of all time and the man who inspired him to get into wrestling is going into the WWE Hall Of Fame. The fans give a WOO and we see the Ric Flair Hall of Fame video. Your mileage on Flair may vary, but I don’t think this is anything resembling a controversial pick.
Paul Burchill vs. Super Crazy
Katie Lea is here with Burchill (who gets a PAUL THE PIRATE chant) and we get an inset promo where they talk about how attractive the other is. Burchill strikes away to start and curb stomps Crazy for the very fast pin. Total dominance.
Randy Orton comes in to see HHH and hints at an alliance, but HHH says he’s only going to do things that favor him.
We look at Big Show returning last night to attack Rey Mysterio, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. making the save and breaking Show’s nose.
Here is Big Show for a chat. Show was asked to come out here and apologize for what happened last night. He will apologize, even though he thinks Mayweather should apologize. Show asks Mayweather to come out here in person, so cue Mayweather with about six other people behind him.
Mayweather says he has been a WWE fan for many years and he’s sorry things went that way last night. He was called out and had to retaliate. Show says he was just trying to get some publicity and apologizes. They shake hands and Mayweather leaves in peace….but Show says hang on a minute.
Show wants to get something off his chest: the only way Mayweather could hurt him was on his knees and he was STILL bigger than Mayweather. The truth is Show could take him out in two minutes and the challenge is on. Mayweather, and entourage, come back to the ring and sure let’s do it. The tease of a right hand makes Show back up but Mayweather leaves. I think I know where this is going.
Video on Money in the Bank.
Money In The Bank Qualifying Match: Mr. Kennedy vs. Val Venis
Kennedy, with new music, sends Venis shoulder first into the post to start and goes after the arm on the mat. The armbar goes on as JR is smart enough to say that Venis is recently back from elbow surgery. Back up and the Mic Check sends Kennedy to Wrestlemania in a hurry.
Vince McMahon vs. Hornswoggle
In a cage. Finlay comes to the ring and wants to fight for Hornswoggle but is told to get out. Cue JBL to slam the cage door on the back of Finlay’s head and then handcuff him to the top rope. Vince pulls out a belt and whips Hornswoggle as Finlay can’t do anything. Vince leaves and JBL throws Hornswoggle into the cage.
Finlay tells JBL to beat him up instead but Hornswoggle gets kicked in the head. The fall away slam into the cage leaves Hornswoggle laying and even Vince says that’s enough as JBL leaves. This was more intense than I would have bet on, with commentary being silent making it better. No match of course.
Here are Santino Marella and Maria for a chat. We get a poll on if Maria should pose for Playboy, with 94% saying yes. I know it’s a popular concept, but maybe you should wait a bit after such a serious moment? Anyway Santino announces that Maria is posing but Beth cuts him off for a match that Maria didn’t seem to know what was coming. Hold on though as Santino reads the fine print: no Playboy unless Maria wins here!
Beth Phoenix vs. Maria
Non-title and Beth slams her down with ease to start. Cue the returning Candice Michelle for a distraction though and Maria grabs a rollup. There was no way to do this without pinning the unstoppable champion?
Randy Orton vs. John Cena
Non-title but if Cena wins, the Raw World Title match at Wrestlemania is a triple threat, also involving guest referee HHH. Cena backs him into the corner to start but Orton scores with an uppercut. A dropkick has Cena out on the apron and Orton knocks him into the announcers’ table as we take a break.
Back with Cena getting a boot up in the corner and dropping an elbow for a fast two. Orton is right back up and a hanging DDT gets two on Cena, followed by the snap powerslam for the same. The circle stomps set up a jumping knee to the head for two more and frustration is setting in.
We hit the chinlock so Cena is up fast, only to miss a charge into the corner as he still can’t keep anything going. Cena shrugs off a ran into the buckle and initiates the finishing sequence but Orton grabs the rope to block the FU. They head outside with Cena being sent into the steps but the RKO is countered into the STFU. The rope is grabbed so Cena yells at HHH, only to duck a cheap shot from Orton. A quick FU sends Cena to Wrestlemania.
Rating: C+. So there’s one of your Wrestlemania main events as you knew the ending to Orton vs. Cena last night was going to wind up going somewhere. Cena being added to the match does add something fresh to the whole thing, but this wasn’t exactly a classic. The match felt big, but another champion gets pinned, albeit with some shenanigans.
HHH Pedigrees both of them and poses with the title to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be the start of the Wrestlemania season trend, as there was very little here in the way of wrestling. Instead, this was ALL about setting up Wrestlemania in one form or another. I can go for that, as they don’t have very long before Wrestlemania and the rapid fire build has begun. Good enough stuff here, but it’s all about the future.
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