Source: James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch
WWE Raw Live Report
December 29, 2008
Manchester, New Hampshire
The show started with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler plugging the fatal four-way match tonight between JBL, Michaels, Orton, and Jericho with the winner getting a World Title shot against John Cena at the Royal Rumble.
In-ring: Rey Mysterio was already in the ring to chat about things. Rey said he was seconds away from hitting JBL with the 619 to get his name in the four-way tonight, but someone took that away from him. Cue up the replay of the JBL vs. Rey ending last week when Shawn Michaels saved JBL, then purposefully DQ’ed Rey by slapping JBL. Rey then called out HBK. He said he respects him and understands his position falling on hard times, but there’s a problem. Rey told HBK to come on down because he has something to tell him.
Michaels’s music hit, then he walked out to the ring dressed to wrestle. Michaels had a tentative, near-apologetic look on his face as he entered the ring. Rey matched his gaze, then spoke first. He said he knows Michaels is a great person despite being affiliating with JBL and he doesn’t even want HBK’s spot in the Rumble four-way, but just to face him one-on-one here tonight. Rey said he wants his opportunity back. And if Michaels accepts, the winner gets the fourth spot in the four-way.
Michaels looked down at Rey to think it over, then Rey asked him to simply do the right thing. Michaels took a step forward toward Rey, then slowly said he accepts. Michaels lowered the mic, then Rey extended his hand. Michaels shook, looked down, then Rey said thank you. Before things could be resolved, JBL walked out on stage in a suit. He said Michaels’s answer is actually no. JBL said Michaels is his employee and any decision related to HBK goes through him. He said he appreciates the offer, but the only match HBK will be in tonight is the four-way.
JBL slowly told puppy-dog-eyed Michaels to leave the ring. Now. Michaels looked back toward Rey, then his eyes darted across the ring before slowly taking a step out of the ring to a round of boos. Rey pleaded with Shawn to reconsider, but Michaels could only put the mic down and leave the ring to walk up to daddy JBL. Rey called after Michaels if he’s going to do everything Bradshaw says. Rey said all the money in the world can’t save Michaels’s soul.
Suddenly, Mike Knox ran through the crowd to jump Rey in the ring. Michaels wanted to go make the save, but JBL ordered him to the back. Knox then took apart Rey and kinda tossed him around the ring. Suddenly, kids and women started screaming. Without music, John Cena stormed the ring and made the save, clotheslining Knox over the top rope to the floor. Cena stood tall over Rey while Knox looked around the arena. He then disappeared over the barricade while Cena stood tall with Rey. They shook hands as the show faded to commercial.
Backstage: The camera zoomed in on Randy Orton, who addressed Cody Rhodes, Manu, and Sim Snuka. He said he will not tolerate losers in this Legacy group. All three have singles matches tonight. If you win, you’re in. If you lose, you’re out. Orton told Cody he’s up first. Cody stared down Sim, then walked off. The arrangement of the group there certainly has Sim in a position of power.
In-ring: Cody Rhodes came out to the ring, then C.M. Punk was out as the mystery opponent. Before the match started, William Regal and Layla came to ringside for a closer look at Punk. Cole and Lawler then announced Regal vs. Punk for the IC Title on next week’s Raw from New Orleans. There we go.
1 — CODY RHODES vs. C.M. PUNK
Of note, Punk has a giant bruise on his right thigh. Rough weekend house show tour perhaps. Crowd took a minute or two to buy into the action, which started with Cody working on Punk until he fought back with elbow strikes and a thrust kick to the chest. Punk then went to the corner and wanted a top rope cross body block, but Cody rolled through into a nearfall. Punk then kicked Cody off the apron to the floor. He then wanted a suicide dive, but over-shot Cody just a little bit and smashed his forearm into the announce table. Both men recovered as the ref started his count. Punk suddenly lost track of the count while staring at Regal ringside, then the ref reached ten with Cody in the ring and Punk was counted out.
Afterward, Cody thought he had a clean exit, but Punk grabbed him and began a post-match attack. Punk wanted the G2S on Cody, but Regal slid into the ring and nailed the running high knee to the face that KO’ed Punk ahead of their IC Title match next week.
WINNER: Cody Rhodes in 4:00. That was pretty predictable, but the only “out” to keep Cody in the group and make sure Punk didn’t have a clean loss prior to an IC Title match next week. (*)
Backstage: Cena asked Stephanie McMahon if she’s really serious. She suggested having Cena ringside doing commentary during the four-way match. Cena then robotically thanked her for the opportunity to impress the WWE Universe. He gave Steph a Will Ferrell-impression-of-Harry-Caray talking like Michael Cole, then said it’s totally lame. Cena wanted to do something big, like smashing a car with a monster truck to close out the final Raw of 2008. The fans booed the commentator idea (or how Cena was scripted to act the fool) and cheered the idea of Cena & Rey vs. Knox & whoever-the-heck-Steph-wants-to-book in a match that could change the face of the planet. He paused for dramatic effect. Cena said it’s her show, though, so do what you want. He then slowly backed away, leaving Steph in deep thought about what to do.
ECW promo: Matt Hardy vs. Mark Henry part XXX tomorrow night.
Video promo: Goldust was sporting a Santa Claus hat to plug some stuff and/or list his Christmas presents. Boggle for Hornswoggle, Edge’s new picture of Vickie, Cody wanted a present but dad got the bike instead (pause for insider joke), a party for Jeff Hardy, and a healthy new scrotumus for Santino. Don’t ask.
Announcers: Cole talked about Batista spending the week in Birmingham, Ala. following surgery. They played up Orton’s Punt on Batista from two weeks ago that knocked out Batista. Cole said that as a result, Batista suffered a concussion and needed jaw work. And while that was getting done, Batista elected to have surgery on a nagging injured hamstring. And he also got his big toe operated on, then his nose hairs trimmed, and LASIK eye surgery. Well, okay, nothing in that last sentence.
Video package: Batista narrated his trip to Birmingham to get surgery on the hamstring. He played up the Orton Punt, saying he had extreme migraines and a lot of trouble sleeping. Needed some dental surgery and such. While having the down time, might as well take care of the hamstring that’s been bothering him for months. Dr. Dugas said it took about an hour to operate on the hamstring. Lovely footage of the tendons inside Batista’s leg. Lots of therapy and training facing him. Batista said he’s going after Orton first when he gets back.
In-ring: Kelly Kelly came out first for the six-divas battle royale. Winner gets Beth Phoenix for the Women’s Title at the Rumble. Melina out second, then Mickie James. We’ll get this started after the break.
In-ring: Santino was in the ring chatting on the mic, then Beth Phoenix came to the ring to show off her Women’s Title. The other divas had entered the ring. No Candice ring entrance. Interesting. Planted fan Rosa Mendes was ringside to agitate Beth. Lilian Garcia then gave the formal ring intros for the #1 contender battle royale.
2 — DIVAS BATTLE ROYALE of KELLY KELLY vs. MELINA vs. MICKIE JAMES vs. JILLIAN HALL vs. CANDICE MICHELLE vs. KATIE LEA — Winner faces Women’s champion Beth Phoenix at the Royal Rumble
Candice was eliminated like a few seconds into the match. Wow. Jillian then eliminated Kelly a few moments later, much to Santino’s delight on commentary. Mickie then dumped Katie and Jillian out simultaneously, leaving us with Melina vs. Mickie. They shared smiles, then circled around the ring before locking up. Santino said Melina looks like a gypsie. Melina then dumped Mickie over the top rope, but she skinned the cat back into the ring. Melina was able to knock Mickie off the apron, though, and Mickie hit the floor to give Melina the win.
WINNER: Melina in 3:00. Terribly short battle royale. Candice must have upset someone, as she had no ring entrance on TV – her calling card – and about 20 seconds in the ring. Or it’s part of a long-term storyline involving the women’s division that will play out in epic fashion in a credible TV match. Okay, not happening. (1/2*)
Afterward, Beth stepped into the ring to hold her Women’s Title high in the air before slapping Melina across the face. Beth then chucked Melina through the ropes to the floor. Santino said there goes the garbage. On the floor, Melina fought back against Beth and landed forearm blows. Suddenly, Beth Phoenix fan stormed ringside and attacked Melina. Security then restrained Rosa, who cried after Beth. Santino said he ah never see that before. Camera continued to focus on Rosa as she was escorted away from the ringside area. Santino and Beth then talked things over.
Backstage: Todd Grisham brought in Chris Jericho for a word. Jericho looked sternly off camera, then cut off Grisham. He said being named Superstar of the Year isn’t the only accolade this year. He was also named Jerk of the Year by WWE Magazine. Why is he the jerk? Is it someone who tells the truth and exposes the fans as hypocrites? These fans will make resolutions for 2009, then break them days later. Jericho proceeded to list all of the reasons he was right in 2008, then vowed to win the World Title once again. Great Jericho promo.
In-ring: Sim Snuka was chilling on the top turnbuckle awaiting his do-or-die match, then his dad’s music hit and out walked Charlie Haas dressed as Jimmy Snuka. Haas had the long curly hair and mannerisms, although he didn’t quite have the double extended index finger gesture quite right. Sim was not pleased with the imitation of his pops.
3 — SIM SNUKA vs. SUPER HAAS CHARLIE SNUKA
Sim quickly knocked the wig off Haas before nailing a big knee smash to the face. Crowd has been really quiet tonight, and this was no exception. They tried to rally behind Haas, but Sim smashed him in the face with an elbow. Crowd rallied a second time, then Haas landed the classic thrusts/chops for a two count. Haas then wanted to take it up top for the Superfly splash, but Sim got his knees up to block. Haas tried to collect himself, but Sim landed a big leaping kick to the head for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Sim Snuka in 4:00. Nice effort from Sim, who continues to show more than when he was a Greaser. Haas had a pretty good impression of Superfly, but his gimmick isn’t leading anywhere. Just a mere TV filler role, which will keep him on TV, and that’s half the battle. (*)
Backstage: Cena and Rey were shown walking together. Lawler said the word from Steph is that a big 10-man tag match is up next.
In-ring: World Hvt. champion John Cena came out first for the ten-man tag match. Rey Mysterio came out second and they recapped the Rey-Michaels angle at the top of the show.
[Q5 — second hour]
At the top of the second hour, Kofi Kingston came out third for the babyface team. Cole excitedly said Kofi is the WWE Mag breakout star of the year. Cryme Tyme was out as the fourth and fifth members. I had Duggan in Kofi’s role with CT, but no dice. Any bets on CT and Cena spray-painting “poopy” on a vehicle of extended length tonight? Kane came out first for the heel five-man team. Miz & Morrison came out second and third, then Dolph Ziggler came out fourth to get some rub. Naturally, Mike Knox out fifth to round out the heels.
4 — World Hvt. champion JOHN CENA & REY MYSTERIO & KOFI KINGSTON & CRYME TYME (JTG & SHAD GASPAR) vs. KANE & MIKE KNOX & DOLPH ZIGGLER & World tag team champions THE MIZ & JOHN MORRISON
Lawler quickly asked Cole to be Jim Ross and say business is about to pick. Cole went silent for a few moments before Kofi tagged in and worked on Morrison. Suddenly, all ten men were in the ring for a giant stare down. The referee’s nightmare rolls on after the break.
They returned from break with Miz working on Kofi, who broke free and tagged in Rey. Miz walked into a boot to the face before accepting a head scissors. Rey then snapped off a swinging huracanrana before smashing Knox, who was standing on the apron. Rey then found himself up in the air where Miz nailed a powerbomb after Kane slapped Rey from the apron. Kane quickly pounced and tagged into the match before handing Rey over to Knox to bully Rey around. Dolph got some camera time working on Rey before tagging out to Morrison.
Rey and Morrison battled up top, then Rey blocked Morrison and snapped off a sweet reverse huracanrana. Crowd then exploded when Cena took a hot tag to go after Knox, who accepted a series of shoulder tackles. All heck broke loose in the ring, then Kane snuck in behind Cena, but Kofi knocked Kane away with a dropkick. Cena then gave Dolph and Knox sit-out slams. Cena and Kofi made eye contact, then set up for their trademark moves with Kofi hitting the boom-boom leg drop on Dolph and Cena dropping the Five Knuckle Shuffle on Knox.
Kofi KO’ed Dolph with the Jamaican buzzsaw kick, then Cena dropped Knox with the FU in center ring. Cena then looked over at Rey, who wanted in the ring. Crowd popped as Cena paused to milk a tag to Rey, who hopped right up top and nailed a big splash on Knox for the pin and the win. The babyfaces then celebrated in the ring and bowed for the audience as Cole hyped it as a big way to send off 2008 with Cena standing tall.
WINNERS: Team Chain Gang in 12:00. Fun match with an exciting ending to send-’em-home-happy if the fans want to beat traffic out of the building. The heels didn’t get too much time to work in offense, but Dolph continues to stand out a few matches into his WWE run. (**1/2)
Backstage: Shawn Michaels was shown watching the end of the match on a monitor. No reaction from Michaels. Grisham then barged in to ask Michaels for his thoughts before the four-way. He said he is Mr. WresleMania and when it comes to WrestleMania, he’s only concerned with stealing the show. Excuse me, he said. In other words, he’s not winning ’cause we’re talking Rumble tonight and he’s not going to guarantee anything to retain some credibility.
Backstage: Kelly Kelly was talking to someone off camera. She was pouring her heart out to someone, then the camera swung around to reveal Randy Orton. He said Kelly is pathetic and he only used her for one night. Orton said the last thing he needs tonight is a distraction. He stormed off, leaving Kelly to consider her next step.
In-ring: Manu was in the ring ready for his do-or-die opportunity, then ECW champion Matt Hardy showed up unannounced as the opponent. Lawler: “Smackdown’s Matt Hardy?” See, even a paid WWE announcer can’t keep track of these ridiculous brand splits. If anyone can tell me what brand Miz & Morrison are actually part of, please let me know. On Smackdown, Matt & Jeff vs. Edge & Big Show this Friday night. Lawler tried to cover for his slip when they flashed the graphic.
5 — ECW champion MATT HARDY vs. MANU — non-title match
Hardy knocked Manu to the floor early on, then landed a baseball dropkick that sent Manu crashing into the guardrail. Back in the ring, Manu went back on the offensive and landed a Umaga headbutt to the shoulder for a nearfall. Hardy then walked into a swinging neckbreaker at 6:00 for a two count with Hardy playing the usual role of being on the defensive. Umaga…er…Manu measured Hardy for a corner splash, but Hardy countered with a drop toe hold. Manu then blocked a bulldog and landed a dropkick for a two count.
The match continued at 7:00 with Manu landing a corner splash. He wanted a second splash and he connected again. Unbearably slow. Manu tried a Samoan Drop, but Hardy grabbed the top rope and slipped to his feet to nail the Twist of Fate for the pin and the win. Afterward, Manu grabbed his head in disgust before letting it sink in he has to face Orton’s firing now. Hardy celebrated on stage for a while.
WINNER: Matt Hardy in 8:00. Slow, plodding match. Manu is better off in tag matches and short singles matches right now. The same Hardy story of the champ being on the defensive forever before hitting the Twist of Fate out of nowhere for the win. (*)
Mr. Kennedy DVD promo: They showed off all of the weapons used during the filming of “Behind Enemy Lines” featuring Mr. Kennedy. Premieres at Walmart in the DVD section on Jan. 6.
In-ring: Randy Orton came out first for the main event four-way match to determine the #1 contender to John Cena. He milked the entrance for a while, then Shawn Michaels came out second. Chris Jericho out third, followed by JBL in the white limo to rub shoulders with the unclean people near the entrance stage.
6 — RANDY ORTON vs. JBL vs. SHAWN MICHAELS vs. CHRIS JERICHO — #1 Contender match to the World Hvt. Title — elimination match — Winner gets Cena at the Royal Rumble
Michaels and Jericho re-visited their history in the opening moments before cutting to a break.
Orton and Jericho were going after each other while JBL and HBK, Inc. watched from the ring apron. Jericho teased the Walls of Jericho in 5:00, but Orton slipped out, only to be dropkicked to the floor. Back in the ring, Orton surprised Jericho with a clothesline, then Michaels tagged in for Orton to work on Jericho. JBL then blind-tagged himself into the match and accepted a codebreaker from Jericho. Michaels broke up the pin to save his employer, though, and nailed Jericho with the superkick at 8:00 after tagging himself back in for JBL. Michaels covered Jericho for the first elimination.
Back from break, JBL had Orton locked in a sleeper hold. He continued to work on Orton as Michaels looked on from the ring apron stuck in a “Got a little captain in you” pose with one leg extended over the middle rope. JBL pummeled Orton, who received an “RKO” chant during spurts of silence.
[Q9 — over-run]
At 15:00, JBL knocked over Orton with a clothesline as HBK continued to watch. Orton then made a comeback and started to “take a walk around the park” stomping on JBL. Fans popped as Orton set up JBL for the Punt, but JBL scrambled over to Michaels to make a tag to his employee. Orton suddenly snapped off the fallaway backbreaker and Michaels sold it like a pro. Orton then eyeballed JBL and went down into the crouch for the RKO on Michaels, who slowly made his way to his feet and avoided the finisher. Michaels then loaded up Sweet Chin Music and smashed Orton square in the jaw at 20:00 to score the pin on Orton.
JBL entered the ring and backed away when Michaels feigned the superkick. JBL then stared at Michaels, who surveyed the scene and stared back at JBL with pleading eyes. They shared a stare down from a distance, then JBL slowly walked over to Michaels and pointed to the mat for him to take a dive. Michaels closed his eyes and fought back tears while listening to the boos. Fans tried to rally with an “H-B-K” chant, then Michaels verbally pleaded with JBL. Michaels then hitched up his britches and slowly went down to one knee before getting back up. Fans ate this up with a giant spoon. He kept playing with their emotions before finally going down to the mat. He went flat on his back to take a nice long look at the ceiling, but then popped up to his feet.
HBK backed into the corner and said he couldn’t do this. Michaels pleaded with JBL one more time before shouting at JBL to do it. Just do it. Michaels closed his eyes then JBL creamed him with the Clothesline from Hell. Michaels fell flat on his back and JBL covered him for the pin and the win. JBL gets the title shot at the Rumble. Michaels gets a giant bruise. Raw gets a ten-minute over-run and five minutes of epic HBK. Afterward, JBL stood on stage and looked down into the ring where Michaels sat up and stared down with tears welling up beneath the surface.
WINNER: JBL in 25:00 to become #1 contender to the World Title. Michaels managed to take a completely dead crowd and have them eating out of the palm of his hand milking five minutes worth of MVP-caliber wrestling storytelling. Match was slow prior to the finish, then Michaels really told a story leading to a stick-it-on-the-Rumble main event with Cena vs. JBL when the Rumble itself will sell the PPV. (***)