Monday Night Raw
Date: April 7, 2008
Location: Times Union Center, Albany, New York
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
We’re officially out of Wrestlemania season and the build to Backlash has begun. We should be in for some big stuff going forward, apparently including JBL coming after Randy Orton’s Raw World Title. They are going to need something to go with that, and Shawn Michaels vs. Batista might be on the list as well. Let’s get to it.
Here is William Regal to get things going and he wastes no time in bringing out Randy Orton. Regal isn’t done and introduces Orton’s new #1 contender for Backlash: JBL. With Regal starting to hype up the match, here is HHH to interrupt. HHH isn’t clear on something and asks if Regal is out of his frickin mind.
He doesn’t understand how he is being left out of the title match, as Orton pinned John Cena at Wrestlemania. Also, how does JBL, who was a commentator for two years, get a title shot for beating up Hornswoggle? Regal makes a handicap match for tonight, with HHH having to beat JBL and Orton to get into the Backlash title match. They kept this to the point, but Orton vs. JBL is going to have to be changed due to reasons of bleck.
Umaga vs. Val Venis
Venis slugs away to start and avoids a charge into the corner. That’s about it for the offense though as Umaga runs him over and puts on the nerve hold. The Samoan drop plants Venis and it’s the running hip attack in the corner. Umaga nails the Samoan Spike for the fast pin.
Rating: D+. Total destruction here and that shouldn’t be a big surprise. Umaga needed a win to get him back on the right track after the pretty terrible Wrestlemania match against Batista. Venis is capable of making anyone look better, even if it is in near complete squash. This did what it needed to do and they did it in a hurry.
Mickie James/Ashley vs. Melina/Jillian Hall
Jillian kicks at Ashley to start but gets caught in a quick hurricanrana. Melina gets in a cheap shot to take over and a wheelbarrow slam/faceplant combination gets two. A missed charge in the corner lets Ashley get over for the tag to Mickie so house can be cleaned. Melina hits the double knees in the corner to cut James off though as everything breaks down. The Mickie DT finishes Melina to end a rather sloppy match.
We look back at Ric Flair having to retire and then his farewell.
Lance Cade/Trevor Murdoch vs. Brian Kendrick/Paul London
London and Kendrick jump them at the bell with Kendrick being sent outside fast. London is fine enough to hit a dropsault for two on Cade but a hard clothesline puts him down. Murdoch kicks away at London and Cade grabs a neck crank. With that broken up, London avoids a charge and it’s back to Kendrick to clean house. Cade clotheslines him down but a small package gives Kendrick the pin.
Rating: C. Just a quick match here with Kendrick and London continuing to get back on track. They needed to win a few matches after losing over and over so this is going to help boost them back up. It was a quick win, but that’s better than losing over and over. Now just get them into the title picture, as a handful of wins is enough to get them there.
Randy Orton tells JBL to stay out of his way out there.
HHH vs. Randy Orton/John Bradshaw Layfield
If HHH wins, he’s in the Backlash title match and William Regal is at ringside. Orton and JBL are already in the ring, which is quite the weird way to treat the pay per view main event. HHH and Orton punch each other to start with HHH having to fight out of the corner. JBL comes in and gets stared down by HHH, which makes him back off.
A headlock takeover takes JBL over and things slow down a bit (yes, during the JBL portion believe it or not). Some double teaming takes HHH down for a change and the Orton knee drop gets two. HHH fights out of the corner but walks into a powerslam for two more. JBL grabs the sleeper but HHH fights out, bringing Orton back in. The RKO is loaded up, only to have HHH reverse into the Pedigree for the fast pin.
Rating: C+. This was kind of a weird one but the action worked well enough. What matters is getting HHH into the pay per view title match, as JBL vs. Orton was never going to happen. Other than that, you have the Cena factor and I’m sure he’ll be involved in something. For now though, it was a good way to go for a bit of a twist.
Post match Regal is about to announce the triple threat but John Cena comes out to interrupt. Cena talks about how he’s beaten HHH and JBL (it’s been awhile for the latter) and he beat Orton at Backlash last year. He wants it to be a four way but Regal says Cena has to beat HHH and JBL in a triple threat match tonight to get in.
Hardcore Holly/Cody Rhodes vs. Carlito/Santino Marella
Non-title. Carlito works on Cody’s arm to start but Rhodes switches into a headlock. It’s quickly off to Holly to load up the Alabama Slam on Santino, with Carlito making a fast save. The referee isn’t counting Carlito’s illegal cover so Carlito drops a leg for two. Holly knocks him away so Santino comes back in, only to get kicked down. Cody comes back in to clean house, including crotching Santino on top. Carlito makes a save though and Santino’s saluting top rope elbow gets the pin.
Rating: D+. The fact that a team like Carlito and Santino are getting a clean win over the Tag Team Champions tells you what the titles mean right now. There is pretty much no one else available to fight for the titles and the division desperately needs some fresh blood. Granted that has been the case for a long time so I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
Cryme Tyme has some Wrestlemania merchandise for us, including some of Rocky Johnson’s soul (as scraped off of him), a signed copy of Maria’s Playboy (they stop and look for a bit and then decide the item is no longer available) and finally, a pair of Kim Kardashian’s underwear. Actually it wasn’t her dressing room though, and it turns out they belong to Mae Young. This team can be funny, but they can also be cringe inducing.
JBL comes up to HHH to talk about an alliance tonight, but HHH has his headphones in.
Beth Phoenix vs. Maria
Non-title. Maria slaps her in the face to start and manages a kick to the head, only to be slammed into the ropes. Beth sends her ribs first into the post, setting up a Boston crab…with Beth bending Maria backwards into a backbreaker (that was cool). Maria is back up with an awkward knee to the ribs and a high crossbody. The reverse DDT gives Maria two but Beth hits a hot shot into the fisherman’s buster for the pin. What did Maria do to get this kind of losing streak with the Playboy deal?
It’s time for the Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho bringing out Batista and Shawn Michaels. They all stood in this ring and cried over Ric Flair retiring and that is all because of Shawn. It was Flair who asked for Mr. Wrestlemania though and Jericho shows us Shawn missing the Asai moonsault onto the announcers’ table. Jericho brings up “I’m sorry, I love you” but Batista cuts them off and says everyone is calling out Shawn on what he did.
Batista hates what Shawn did but Shawn says Flair didn’t pick Batista because he didn’t have what it took. Shawn talks about the battles he has gone through over the years, which is what Batista says made trust him. Batista says Shawn did the wrong thing at Wrestlemania but Shawn is sick of being blamed. Batista glares at him and walks off.
Backstage, William Regal says that Vickie Guerrero has made Batista vs. Shawn Michaels for Backlash. Randy Orton complains about how his singles match has grown, so next week in England, Orton can face….Regal himself. Ok then.
John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Layfield/HHH
Again, no entrances for JBL and HHH. JBL kicks Cena in the head to start fast and grabs a DDT for a fast two. The slow beating continues but JBL won’t tag HHH in, despite his requests. A shoulder drops Cena for two as this is one sided so far. Cena gets thrown outside and a clothesline drops him again.
We hit the neck crank back inside as Randy Orton is now ringside to cheer the team on. Cena fights up and finally hits a clothesline to start the comeback and bring the fans back to live. HHH still won’t tag in as Cena hits the ProtoBomb but JBL breaks up the FU. Another big boot drops Cena again but HHH has finally had enough and brawls with JBL to the floor. Orton gets hit as well so he comes in and RKO’s JBL, allowing Cena to get the pin (HHH doesn’t seem to mind).
Rating: C. This was all about the build towards the Backlash main event, but HHH not wanting to keep Cena out of the match was a little strange. He already proved he can beat Orton and JBL on his own so why would he want to have Cena added in as a wild card? Even if he’s angry at JBL, it’s rather out of character for HHH to let his emotions get the better of himself like that.
Overall Rating: C-. Not their strongest show here as the build to the Backlash main event was different, but not exactly the most interesting way. Other than that, the biggest story is about avenging Ric Flair, because six months of “no, please don’t retire Ric Flair” just wasn’t enough. Batista apparently wishes Shawn had laid down for Flair at Wrestlemania and is willing to fight him over it, as Flair just can’t go away despite not being here. Not the greatest show here, but they’re still resetting things a bit after Wrestlemania.
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