Full Credit: James Caldwell, PWTorch.com
WWE Raw Live Report
December 22, 2008
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The show started with Santino and Beth standing backstage. Santino said he’s here to discuss some recent mis-respect. Santino said people cheered and giggled when he lost his IC Title and his…uh…scrotus region. Santino said it’s his turn. He has a secret. See, there’s something regarding Santa Claus. Beth Phoenix interrupted and asked if he’s really sure about this. Santino said he needs her to shut-ah-her-face. John Cena then interrupted to a giant mix of boss and cheers. Cena said how dare you talk about those certain things. Like wrestling being scripted. No, no, that Santa isn’t real.
Santino had enough of Cena and he legit made Cena break character mocking him. Santino then challenged Cena to a match with a tag partner against Glamarella. Cena turned to his left and Goldust was standing off camera. Santino interjected that he meant someone with the uh…ovaries. Goldust wasn’t pleased. Cena then said he’ll find a diva and meet them in the ring later. Santino said when they win, he’ll reveal the secret on Santa.
In-ring: Kane started the show, then Kelly Kelly slowly walked out on stage behind him to walk to the ring. They recapped Kane stalking Kelly last week, then Kane giving The Miz a Tombstone after Kelly apparently told Kane that he’s her bf. After the video aired, Kane took the mic and said he was politely asked by Stephanie McMahon to issue an apology to Kelly for the events last week. Kane huffed, took a deep breath, then walked over to Kelly and sarcastically said, “I apologize to you.”
Kelly was non-commital on accepting. Kane then yelled at Kelly that she needs to apologize for leading him on and lying. One day, you will regret not telling me the truth, he told her. Shawn Michaels then came out for the opener against Kane, looking much more energized than the down-on-his-luck Michaels from the JBL program.
1 — SHAWN MICHAELS vs. KANE (w/Kelly Kelly) — Winner advances to four-way #1 contender match next week
We’re in Toronto, so the “You screwed Bret” chants picked up right after the opening bell. A few fans tried an “H-B-K” chant, but they were drowned out by another Bret chant. I wonder if Texas fans can get away with a “45-35” chant at the annual Texas-Oklahoma college football game for the next 11 years. In any event, Kane worked over Michaels to start this one out. Michael Cole then provided some scary info that he was checking out Kelly’s photos on WWE’s website earlier today and he was looking over his shoulder. Not because if his wife was watching, but because Kane might have attacked him from behind.
Michaels made a comeback at 4:00 to a chorus of boos, then he walked into a chokeslam attempt, but Michaels countered into a crossface. That generated more boos, then Kane powered out to his feet into a sidewalk slam for a two count. Kane went up top, then he connected with a hard clothesline. Kane wanted the chokeslam, but Michaels slipped out and nailed the superkick out of nowhere. Michaels then made the cover and scored the pin for the win. Backstage, they showed Michaels’s employer, JBL, casually nodding in approval of the finish.
WINNER: Michaels in 6:00. Fine singles match. The crowd booing both men made for a strange “Summerslam 2004 bizarro-world” dynamic, but Michaels created movement to keep the viewer’s interest for six minutes. (*1/4)
Video package: They focused on Randy Orton taking out Batista via The Punt on last week’s Raw. The dramatic “Undertaker druids/horror movie scary scene” music walked a fine line between making this a comical depiction of Batista’s potential injury. Jerry Lawler said one has to question Batista’s physical well-being tonight and if he can compete in the #1 Contender series against Orton tonight.
In-ring: Kofi Kingston came to the ring for a match. Kofi was in the holiday spirit via the inset promo. He wished everyone in Jamaica and Africa “big ups” for the Christmas season. The pride of Lehigh, Pa., Manu, then came out with Cody Rhodes as the opposition. Manu channeled Brother Devon with his “sign of the cross” pose for the hard cam before the opening bell.
2 — KOFI KINGSTON vs. MANU (w/Cody Rhodes)
Back and forth exchange early on, and Jerry Lawler claimed 17,122 in attendance tonight. Kofi nailed a cross-body from the top rope at 2:00, then he wanted a Russian legsweep, but Manu shoved him off the ropes. Kofi answered with a leaping clothesline before stumbling into the boom-boom leg drop. Kofi tried a cross body from the second rope, but Manu caught him in mid air. He wanted a crucifix bomb, but Kofi flipped Manu over into a crucifix pin for the win. Dude in the front row unsuccessfully tried to do the rising-hand Kofi clap, but it wasn’t good.
WINNER: Kofi Kingston in 3:00. Eh. People will remember Kofi nearly stumbling onto his keyster before the boom-boom leg drop, but this match had no chance without a back-story for why it was taking place. Match action should be protected and made valuable, not just thrown out without a purpose. (3/4*)
Backstage: Camera found John Cena shooting the breeze with Kelly Kelly. Imagine that, they had no idea a camera was right there. Cena and Kelly pantomimed a conversation, then Kelly shook his hand and they were apparently on for the tag match against Santino & Beth.
Tomorrow night on ECW: new champions, high-flyers, and all-out brawlers. “Best Of” show tomorrow night.
Backstage: Sim Snuka tried to convince Randy Orton that as a second-generation star, he could make a big difference in his group. Orton didn’t answer, then Manu and Cody Rhodes stepped up. “What?!” Manu shot toward Orton. He then looked at Manu and said maybe they could use a new member. Orton walked off, then Snuka shot a look toward Manu. He showed more charisma in 15 seconds than the previous year in WWE. Manu and Cody then looked at each other after Snuka walked off.
Announcers: Cole and Lawler set up a DX merch plug after reminding us that these were filmed before Michaels fell on hard times financially. Roll the DX merch plug that aired on Smackdown and ended with Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunn brawling after getting into a brotherly altercation. Merry Christmas from Hunter and Michaels.
Backstage: In the locker room, C.M. Punk was engaged in a conversation with Shawn Michaels to talk about the Tribute to the Troops. Punk shared a few war stories, which Michaels wasn’t really focused on. Punk wanted to talk about possibly being in the Race to the Rumble together, but Triple H interrupted looking very serious. Punk took his cue and left, then Hunter said he can’t figure Michaels out. He said if Michaels had financial problems, he should have come to him. Michaels said he knew he could have gone to Hunter, but their friendship never would have been the same. He said he can’t let that hang over their friendship like a dark cloud. Hunter said Michaels let pride ruin their friendship once before, and him working for JBL is somehow more acceptable than getting his help? Michaels said he can’t give him an explanation, but he has to do this for himself and he knows what he’s doing. Hunter paused and said he hopes he does.
In-ring: Jillian Hall was singing a horrible rendition of a Christmas song with Layla by her side, but Mickie James‘s music thankfully interrupted. Melina then came out with Mickie and Mickie carried Melina to the ring. They proceeded to play leap frog. Meanwhile, IC champion William Regal was on commentary to support his “lady friend.”
3 — MICKIE JAMES & MELINA vs. LAYLA & JILLIAN HALL
Regal was so happy DX was selling the Best of the IC Title DVD earlier and one day, they will make a DVD about his greatness as IC champion. A minute into the match, Layla knocked Mickie off the top rope and Mickie sold a left knee injury. Back in the ring, the heel divas worked on Mickie while Regal talked about spending a lot of money on Layla despite the economic situation. Melina finally got her hot tag at 3:00 and worked on Jillian. They blew a spot and Melina nailed the sweep-over leg drop for a two count when Layla broke up the pin. Jillian then smashed Melina with a facebuster and she made a cover, but Mickie broke up the pin. Action broke down, then Melina landed a palm thrust before snapping off her modified Canadian Destroyer on Jillian for the pin and the win. Afterward, Mickie really sold the “babyface pulled out the victory and I’m very very worn out” post-match reaction. Melina comforted her as they cut to break.
WINNERS: Melina & Mickie in 4:00. Rough patches in this one, but Melina’s finisher is just plain sick. Again, no real purpose to this one. No reason to spend four minutes on in-ring action unless there’s a purpose or pre-match storyline. This was merely Regal promoting himself, but yet, Punk is the #1 contender after the tournament and we have no idea when his IC Title match against Regal is taking place. (1/2*)
In-ring: Rey Mysterio came out for the second of the four main event Road to the Rumble matches. Cole and Lawler said Mike Knox was given the night off by Stephanie McMahon to prevent Knox from attacking Rey. They wished him will in his future Monday night ventures. JBL then walked out sans limo for the re-match from like every episode of Smackdown in late 2005 and 2006.
4 — REY MYSTERIO vs. JBL — Winner advances to four-way #1 contender match next week
Rey set up JBL for the 619 a minute into the action, but JBL slipped to the floor. JBL thought he was in the clear, but Rey nailed a plancha as they cut to break.
Cole welcomed us back to the longest-running-run-on-sentence-to-describe-a-TV-show-compared-to-other-shows-in-TV-history as JBL worked over Rey and nailed him with a Scott Hall fallaway slam at 5:00. JBL landed successive elbow smashes to the chest and wanted a pin, but Rey kicked out.
[Q5 — second hour]
At the top of the hour, JBL flung Rey out of the ring and Rey instantly grabbed his left knee and said “s—” under his breath. JBL threw Rey into the ring apron, then he slid back into the ring as the ref applied his ten count. Rey tried to hobble toward to the ring at eight, then he reached up at nine, then he rolled back in just before ten. JBL argued with the ref, then JBL nailed a short-arm clothesline that rocked Rey. JBL then dragged Rey back to his feet again and nailed another short-arm clothesline. JBL wanted a third short-arm clothesline, and he connected once more to KO Rey. JBL made the cover, but Rey kicked out just before three.
JBL put Rey up in the Torture Rack, but Rey slipped out. JBL came back with a sleeper, then Rey slipped out with a jawbreaker. He wanted a sleeper of his own, but JBL rammed him into the corner. Rey then nailed a drop toe hold and hit a seated sentaun off the ropes. Rey started to make his aerial assault comeback and nailed a wheelbarrow into bulldog for a two count. Rey tried to build momentum off the ropes at 11:00, but JBL smashed him in the face with a big boot. Rey tied a cross body block over the top rope, but Rey countered in mid-air with a Tornado DDT for another two count.
Rey nailed an enziguiri kick at 12:00, then he dropkicked JBL onto the middle rope. Rey wanted the 619, but Shawn Michaels suddenly ran down to ringside and pulled JBL out of harm’s way. He paused, thought thinks over, then reached over and slapped JBL across the face. The ref then instantly called for the bell, DQ’ing Rey due to outside interference. Michaels then quickly turned his back and walked back to the back. JBL was announced as the winner, then he smiled. Rey was beside himself complaining to the ref for missing the spirit of the rule. He slapped the mat in disgust after they replayed the finish.
WINNER: JBL via DQ in 13:00. The finish was unique and certainly advances the JBL/Michaels program, while setting up Rey to either snap on Michaels or just be passive-aggressive Rey and let it slide off his back. Match was something. Had a different vibe to it, then really picked up at the end with the nearfalls. (**1/4)
Behind Enemy Lines plug: They showed all of the stuff blowing up during the filming of Mr. Kennedy’s movie. Goodie, more stuff blowing up. Like The Marine. Like Condemned.
Announcers: Jericho vs. Punk later on and maybe Orton vs. Batista in the other remaining RttR match.
In-ring: Randy Orton came to the ring first for his scheduled match against Batista if he’s healthy to compete. Long ring intro for Orton to give the announcers plenty of time to set the stage. A ref then stepped into the ring and told ring announcer Justin Roberts something. Roberts said Batista is unable to compete tonight, so the winner of the match as a result of a forfeit, Randy Orton. Fans booed that one, then Orton had his hand raised.
Orton wasn’t done, though. He took the mic and waited out the boos before saying he’s had many memorable moments in his career, but nothing is as personally satisfying as when he kicked Batista in the skull last week. Orton said he won his first World Title four years ago in this very arena (against Chris Benoit), but the next day, Batista hoisted him up in celebration, before dropping him on his back with an ambush. Orton said he’s had the same dream every night for four years about kicking him in the head.
It finally happened last week. Christmas came early. Orton smirked off camera, then licked his lips, and rhetorically asked Dave how it feels to not face Cena at the Royal Rumble and his career cut short. Orton said four years ago, Batista was in Evolution and he’s right back where he started: “taking a backseat to me!” Some fans cheered and hollered before chanting, “R-K-O.” Orton said Batista had his time, but his time is over. Next time Batista sees him, he will be World Hvt. champion. Orton lifted his head a little, then his music hit and he surveyed the crowd.
Backstage: Kelly Kelly was shown getting herself ready in the mirror, then Dolph Ziggler introduced himself. Kelly politely shook his hand. Another tap on the shoulder and Kelly thought it was Dolph again, but suddenly Miz and Morrison were standing there. Miz wanted to personally thank Kelly for the chokeslam and tombstone he received last week. He said he realizes they had problems before on ECW, but he didn’t think she was so vengeful. Miz asked if she’s trying to protect her bf, John Cena, but Kelly said she simply accepted an offer for the match tonight. Miz then asked Kelly if she heard about the WWE wrestler hotel room being trashed. Kelly had not heard such a thing. Morrison chimed in that all kinds of personal items were strewn about, and word is it was her room. They walked off in a huff, leaving Kelly distraught over whether to believe them or not.
In-ring: Chris Jericho came to the ring first for the final RttR qualifying match. C.M. Punk came out next as the opposition.
5 — C.M. PUNK vs. CHRIS JERICHO — Winner advances to four-way #1 contender match next week
Bell sounded and the fans chanted Y2J, which didn’t affect Jericho, who kept his glare focused on Punk. Jericho landed a shoulder tackle in the opening minute, then Punk popped up and smiled at him. Jericho returned with a side-of-his-mouth smirk before slowly pacing around the ring to lock up again. Punk landed a series of martial arts kicks to the chest, then Jericho slumped to the mat and sold that he was KO’ed. Ref Charles Robinson asked Jericho whether he wanted to continue while Punk stood back waiting to see if Jericho was playing opossum. Cut to break.
They returned from break with Punk in control with Jericho apparently recovered. Punk then applied a modified Tarantula in the corner. Crowd was clearly behind Jericho and not feeling Punk tonight. Jericho made a comeback at 8:00 with repeated kicks to the head before landing a gut wrench suplex for a two count. Crowd sang the Canadian National Anthem during a rest hold, then gave itself a round of applause as Jericho continued to ground Punk.
At 10:00, Punk and Jericho fought up top, then Punk shoved Jericho down to a round of boos. Punk smiled, then came off the top with a cross body block for a two count. Punk then fired up with offense before landing a leg whip that floored Jericho. Punk missed in the corner, but caught Jericho with a Samoa Joe snap powerslam, which Cole incorrectly called a scoop slam. Lawler repeated Cole’s mistake as the crowd continued to rally for Jericho. Punk wanted a suplex, but Jericho slipped out and landed a running bulldog.
Jericho wanted the Lionsault, but Punk sprang to his feet and caught him in the electric chair. He tried to transition into the G2S, but Jericho slipped out to the mat and countered into the Walls of Jericho. Great sequence. Punk screamed in pain and tried to reach for the bottom rope as Jericho held the move tight, then Jericho blocked a counter attempt. Punk tried to grab that bottom rope one more time, but Jericho pulled him back into the middle of the ring. Punk tried to power out one more time as the crowd begged for a tap out, then he broke free. Jericho tried to come back with the Walls, but Punk kicked him away.
Punk then nailed a knee-lift beneath the chin that temporarily KO’ed Jericho, before Punk made a cover for a close two count. Great action thus far at 14:00, then Punk picked up Jericho and landed his high knee in the corner before Jericho blocked the running bulldog. Punk came back with another kick to the head, though, but Punk was unable to capitalize. He then pulled himself up on the apron and wanted the springboard smash, but Jericho countered in mid-air with the codebreaker. Jericho made the pin for the win, much to the delight of the crowd.
Afterward, the camera focused on Jericho remaining face-down on the mat without blinking as he tried to gather his senses. They showed a replay of the highspots, then Jericho was shown slowly walking back up the ramp holding his head in pain. Jericho advances with JBL, Michaels, and Randy Orton to next week’s four-way #1 contender match.
WINNER: Jericho in 15:00. Heck of a TV match. Punk showed great grit fighting off the Walls of Jericho, while Jericho was great as the in-ring heel technician carrying and calling the match. That was a great display, with a hot crowd involved in the action. (***1/2)
Backstage: Kelly Kelly was shown leaving the arena in the garage area. Todd Grisham followed her and asked what about John Cena. Kelly said she talked to Cena and he understands. She has to go!
Announcers: Cole and Lawler recapped that Kelly just left the arena. So, what does this mean for Cena’s tag partner? Oh, maybe a ‘lil Trish Stratus appearance? One can only hope. Roll footage of the Tribute to the Troops show that aired on NBC two nights ago, complete with the President’s opening message.
Backstage: John Cena was shown walking to the ring alone with the World Title belt in hand. He kinda smiled toward no one in particular, with a “I know something you don’t know” look, or anticipating a ton of boos in Toronto and welcoming the reaction.
In-ring: Santino Marella and Women’s champion Beth Phoenix came to the ring for the main event. They walked by the stalker fan ringside, then Santino took the mic after a “Santino, Santino” chant. Santino said there’s a huge Santino fan ringside, then they focused on the Beth Fan planted in the front row. Santino was going to reveal the big secret about Santa Claus before the match, but John Cena’s music interrupted and he stormed out on stage not about to stand for that. “The spirit of Christmas is on the line!” Cole declared like only Cole could.
Cena took the mic to a chorus of boos, but with a little mix of cheers, then he said he couldn’t stand for Santino trying to ruin Christmas. He said he actually had a little visit from Santa tonight and he has a present for everyone. Cue up Trish Stratus’s music to a giant pop. Trish bounced out on stage, then entered the ring as Cena’s partner. She had to catch her breath as Cena smiled. Santino then puffed out his chest and wanted a piece of Cena, who started things.
[Q9 — over-run]
6 — World Hvt. champion JOHN CENA & TRISH STRATUS vs. SANTINO MARELLA & Women’s champion BETH PHOENIX
Cena started things, then Stratus tagged in and showed no ring rust as she busted out some forearm blows on Beth, then did the Matrix move to duck a Beth clothesline. She then paint brushed Beth across the chest before doing a big lick to set up a slap. Beth then lifted Trish up in the air and chucked her into the corner. Santino was all-smiles, then Santino was crotched on the top rope accidentally. Beth recovered, then went back to working on Stratus while Cena shouted encouragement. Trish finally made the hot tag at 4:00 and Cena pulled out his signature finishers. Trish then KO’ed Beth with the Chick Kick and Cena nailed the FU on Santino for the pin and the win. Cena then celebrated with Stratus, who played to the Toronto crowd for her big one-night-only return to close the show.
WINNERS: Cena & Stratus in 5:00. A feel-good way to close the show featuring a newsworthy return and Santino doing his thing of bouncing around the ring. They obviously put Stratus with Cena to deflect the expected boos against Cena, so it was a good mask for their once-in-a-blue-moon appearance in front of an “insider-type” audience that would boo Cena. (*)