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TV REPORTS
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW REPORT 3/8: Complete coverage of Cena vs. McMahon, Taker-Michaels confrontation

Mar 8, 2010 - 10:15:47 PM
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WWE Raw Live Report
March 8, 2009
Live from Portland, Ore.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor


WWE Raw started with Michael Cole's voice, then the bell tolled for The Undertaker to make his entrance. Well, considering how slow this will be, I imagine some flipping to TNA Impact for the "hot five minute start." Taker eventually made it to the ring at 8:02 and stared into the crowd at 8:03. Taker's music stopped and he surveyed the audience, which cheered and chanted his name. The lights dimmed and Taker started by saying last week was symbolic of what Shawn Michaels's life has become since Michaels became #17 in The Streak.

Taker paused for an "HBK" chant before saying Michaels's life now has a dark cloud. He stumbled, seemingly trying to find the words of his promo, and said Michaels now has to pay the ultimate price of his storied career being over at WrestleMania. Taker started to say Michaels's career will rest in peace, but Michaels's music interrupted at Rest. Michaels then walked out in jeans and a cut-off black Western Wear shirt. Michaels paced around the ring before standing a few feet away from Taker. "Not tonight. You don't get to finish that line. Not yet," he said.

Michaels said WM26 has been hanging over his head like a dark cloud and last week, he went to bed angry and full of rage. Then, he woke up in the morning and saw the cloud was gone. He had an epiphany! Michaels said the reason he cost Taker the World Hvt. Title in the Elimination Chamber was because he had no choice. He said Taker interfered last week even though he didn't have to and it occurred to him that for the first time ever, inside that cold, black heart of The Undertaker exists...fear.

Taker glared back at Michaels before answering that Michaels needs to choose his words carefully. Michaels said Taker thought he could intimidate him, but he's wrong. He said there's no way he would risk everything if he didn't know he could beat him. Michaels said no one lives a perfect life and nothing lasts forever. Nothing! Michaels said he's going to prove it at WrestleMania. Taker nodded - "Is that right?" Taker said he can't tell if he's looking at man exuding confidence or a man full of pitiful desperation. Michaels smirked. "Naw," he said. "I'm not desperate. Last year, I would have taken anything - count-out, DQ, anything to have my hand raised in victory. Not this year. Not with so much on the line. That's why I want to propose right now - no count-out, No DQ, the only way to win this match is by pinfall or submission." Michaels said he will kick Taker's teeth down his throat and he's going to beat him.

Taker paced the ring before saying so it shall be. "You have chosen your own demise," he said. Taker said he sees Michaels standing there honestly thinking he can defeat him at WrestleMania. He said that's what makes him the Showstopper, the Main Eventer, Mister WrestleMania. "No, not this year," Taker said. He said Michaels may be the greatest to ever step in the ring, but listen up. "On March 28, I will open up the gates of hell and I will unleash a fury that no mortal man has ever seen to make sure at WrestleMania your career is over," he firmly declared. Mix of boos and cheers from the crowd.

Michaels let that sink in before telling Taker to keep telling himself that. "After WrestleMania, the dark cloud will come back, but this time, it's going to be hanging over you," he said. Michaels said the dark cloud will follow Taker everywhere he will go and inside it will be an image to haunt him for the rest of his life with Michaels ending the WM Streak. Cue up Michaels's theme music to conclude the segment. PYB (3) talk time: 10:55. Another hot segment setting up their match, with WWE doing a very effective job with the overall segment (not necessarily the addition of the stipulation) planting seeds that Michaels has a legit chance to win. Well done.

Announcers: Cole narrated the setting for tonight from Portland. Cole and Lawler then plugged Randy Orton vs. Legacy in a handicap match. Plus, Vince McMahon vs. John Cena.

[Q2]

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Some new music hit and out came Kelly Kelly, Eve, and Gail Kim dressed in standard ring attire. No pillowfight gear tonight. Already in the ring were Divas champion Maryse, Alicia Fox, and Katie Lea Burchill for a house show special six-divas tag match.

1 -- Divas champion MARYSE & ALICIA FOX & KATIE LEA BURCHILL vs. KELLY KELLY & EVE & GAIL KIM

The action broke down with Maryse and Eve legal in the match. Eve then grappled Maryse on the top rope and applied a rolling armbar into an armbar submission hold. Maryse then tapped out, giving Eve the win. Apparently we have a new Divas Title feud.

WINNERS: Team Eve at 3:15. Okay. Not graceful at times and not to be taken seriously after last week's pillowfight non-sense. (1/2*)

Announcers: Cole and Lawler plugged Triple H confronting Sheamus later tonight.

Backstage: Criss Angel talked to Hornswoggle about his show, then the Bella Twins walked in and wanted to be his special assistants. Criss said he doesn't use twins, but he could try to make an arrangement. Criss then pulled out a string from one of their tops and proceeded to pull the string through his eye and through his nose, or so it appeared. Horny make grunts to sell the mindfreakishness of the bit. Jillian Hall then walked in and demanded to be Criss's assistant. Criss said he already heard about her singing, which she took as a complement. Criss cut her off and said she will lose her voice now. Jillian proceeded to sell no voice and cluck like a chicken.

Backstage: Big Show and The Miz were shown walking backstage proudly sporting their assortment of gold. Apparently they're facing John Morrison and R-Truth up next. Cole robotically said it's a WrestleMania preview. In other words, they have no idea what do with them other than give away the match.

[Commercial Break]

[Q3]

In-ring: The Miz and Big Show came to the ring and Miz began cutting a promo on how sad the R-Truth and John Morrison tag team combo is. "Earned a title shot? Really? Really?" He said it's as bad as Lex Luger and British Bulldog forming a tag team at WrestleMania 11. Wow, WrestleMania 11 reference. Someone's been reading Dutch Mantell's blog. He said they'd rather wrestle the Bushwhackers. He said it's shame on the locker room that no one can provide a worthy opponent for them. John Morrison's music then interrupted, followed by R-Truth rapping to the ring with Morrison and his fur coat.

2 -- Unified tag champions BIG SHOW & THE MIZ vs. JOHN MORRISON & R-TRUTH -- non-title match

After the bell sounded, the action broke down and moved to the floor. The bell suddenly sounded with ref Jack Doane apparently throwing out the match. Morrison and Truth proceeded to execute a double DDT on Big Show on the floor before suplexing Miz into the front row. Back in the ring, Morrison said they're real credible and can "get real" real quick, as they just showed. "And that is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That's what's up," Truth said in conclusion.

WINNERS: No Contest at 0:32. Well, it was a way to try to get heat on the tag title match and position Morrison and Truth as worthy opponents. So far, WWE isn't trusting wrestling to hold the audience. (n/a)

Still to come: MegaLegacy explodes and Cena vs. McMahon.

[Commercial Break]

WrestleMania: 20 days away. They rolled footage plugging the John Cena vs. Batista feud leading to their WWE Title match at WrestleMania 26.

Backstage: Josh Mathews brought in John Cena to talk about Cena being left speechless last week. Cena said Batista was right - he's broken his neck, taken his title, and virtually left him for dead. Cena said it's apparent Batista has his number, so the only thing he can do is just go out there and beat him. Cena started to leave, but Mathews asked Cena if he expects Batista to get involved in his match against McMahon tonight.

Backstage: Evan Bourne thanked Criss Angel for giving him a Money in the Bank shot against William Regal tonight. Skip Sheffield then walked in and talked up Criss before Regal walked in and told his NXT protégé to step down. Criss then played a game with Regal to write down a number on a piece of paper. Regal wrote down 56. Criss said it's between 0-50, then 51-100. Regal blinked, so Criss went for the second range. He counted from 51 to 60 and stopped to determine the number 11 means something to him, which gave him 56. I saw this whole facial-recognition bit with Martin Short on a Law & Order SVU episode. Anyways, Skip popped and did his catchphrase. "You owe me a Travis Tritt CD," he told Regal.

[Q4]

Video package: They recapped the endless teases of Legacy splits involving Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, and Ted DiBiase leading to the handicap match tonight.

In-ring: Legacy was on the way to the ring, but Randy Orton jumped them from behind on the entrance ramp. Orton then slid into the ring and drew a mixed reaction. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase gathered themselves on the floor as the show cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

3 -- RANDY ORTON vs. LEGACY (CODY RHODES & TED DIBIASE)

Orton dominated early on as Lawler played with Cole about Orton's strategy of not telling Legacy everything he knows. Legacy then used the numbers advantage with the ref distracted to begin double-teaming Orton to build sympathy on Orton. Orton then regained control and Legacy bailed to opposite ends of the ring as they cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Orton was going to town on Cody and Ted in the ring. I can't believe they're going with this match - with the awful storyline progression and no heat on Legacy - heading into the top of the hour. Anyways, Orton found himself on the floor and DiBiase landed a dropkick that put Orton on the floor. Back in the ring, DiBiase worked on Orton with a headlock before scoring a nearfall.

[Q5 -- second hour] The match continued with Cody scoring a nearfall on Orton. Legacy continued to tag in and out working over Orton, who then ducked a clothesline and fired up a comeback using clotheslines and powerslams. Big pop for Orton's babyface comeback. That was a weird sentence to write. Orton pounded on DiBiase, who then ran into a fallaway back snap. Orton then peered up at the WrestleMania banner and Cole filled in the blank that Legacy cost him his ticket to WrestleMania. Cody then distracted Orton as he was setting up the RKO and DiBiase dropped Orton with Dream Street for the pin and the win. Lawler sold shock, but reasoned the odds were stacked against Orton here. Cody then dropped Orton with Cross Rhodes to add insult to injury. They mocked Orton with his old-school ballerina pose before Legacy's music hit. The announcers sold Legacy accomplishing their goals tonight.

WINNERS: Legacy at 11:45. Good heat at the end of the match to give Legacy a credible victory when they desperately needed a win, even if it was with a two-on-one advantage. Still no word on where this goes toward WrestleMania, but the announcers sold it as Legacy officially severing their ties with Orton. Interesting development. (**)

Backstage: Batista smiled watching the monitor. Interesting. Josh Mathews then wanted his thoughts on what Cena said earlier. Batista said he feels Cena is becoming paranoid. He gave him his word that, as WWE champion, he will not get involved in Cena vs. McMahon tonight. Batista smiled and told Mathews to share a good word that it seems like Cena needs a confidence boost.

Plug: Cena vs. McMahon live tonight later on. ... Backstage: They showed Triple H walking down the hallway looking upset. Lawler voice-overed that Hunter is next addressing Sheamus's attack from last week.

Next week: After 37 guest hosts, it's time..."Stone Cold" Raw next Monday. They plugged "Damage" with some old-school Steve Austin clips. Randomly inserted, but a nice plug showing there's guest hosts...and then there's a Steve Austin guest-hosted Raw.

[Commercial Break]

Announcers: Cole robotically plugged a Divas feature on WWE's website, then Triple H's music hit and Cole robotically talked about Triple H being one of the long-standing figures on WWE Raw. He inserted a "13-time World champion" adjective before Lawler plugged Slim Jim being the official sponsor of WrestleMania. They should just record two robots reading these promotional spots, as it takes away from when Cole and Lawler actually try to sell action. Cue up a video from the end of Raw when HBK bailed on Hunter (not shown), then Sheamus jumped Hunter from behind and KO'ed him to end Raw.

Back live, Hunter said he actually kind of respects what Sheamus did last week. He said if someone beat me up, took away my WWE Title, and gave me a concussion taking away the title re-match the next night, then I would want to make a statement too. Sheamus's music interrupted and the work buddies united in the ring. Sheamus had two inches on Hunter - three with the hair. Sheamus questioned Hunter's statement talk before pointing to the WrestleMania sign and asking Hunter if he has the guts to face him. Hunter said Sheamus has had a hell of a first year - ended careers and won the WWE Title - but he's never been to the big dance. Hunter said that until Sheamus makes a name for himself at WrestleMania, his accomplishments mean nothing. He told Sheamus he's been there. When he first showed up in WWE, he was on a rocket ship to the top, so he jumped on the biggest dog he could find at WrestleMania. But, you know what happened? "I got crushed. And I went down into a pit of obscurity and I had to scratch and dig my way out of the hole until I became the guy to step into the ring with at WrestleMania to make a name for themselves," he said. Not a big reaction here. Hunter said the guys who have beaten him at WrestleMania took off. He name-dropped Cena to cheers and Batista to boos. Hunter said the thing is that's the short list. The long list is the guys who failed and went back to being nothing - just a footnote in the history of WWE. Hm...Chris Benoit? Hunter said the thing is Sheamus has to put it all on the line to become immortal at WrestleMania. He told Sheamus to think about it and be sure he's ready.

[Q6] Sheamus stared into Hunter's eyes. There was nearly an explosion of facial hair, then Sheamus leaned back and went for a right hand, but Hunter blocked and clotheslined Sheamus to the floor. Sheamus then yanked Hunter under the ropes to the floor and a brawl was on. They spilled into the front row before Hunter tackled Sheamus in front of the announcers. Sheamus bounced Hunter off the table before tossing him back into the ring. Hunter ducked a clothesline and hit a spinebuster, then Sheamus rolled to the outside and high-tailed it. Cue up Hunter's music. Cole confirmed Hunter vs. Sheamus for tonight and gave the bullet points on the match with Hunter standing tall in the ring. PYB (3) talk time: 6:45.

Backstage: Sheamus addressed Criss Angel and said he comes from a long line of magical Italians. Criss questioned Santino on his revisionist history before trying a peanut butter sandwich trick that didn't work. Criss then debuted his next trick with four paper cups. He told Santino to hide a Sushi knife underneath one of the cups. He placed it under #4. Criss then did a muscle-reading to determine where the knife is. This went on forever. He crushed the first two cups and told Santino it's a 50/50 shot. He crushed cup #3 and Santino pulled up the fourth cup to reveal the sushi knife that would have stabbed Criss through the hand. End segment. This was a miss.

NXT plug: That already over-bearing NXT theme played as they plugged R-Truth and David Otunga exploding on NXT tomorrow night.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: There was a spotlight on the Money in the Bank briefcase hanging above the ring. Christian and his NXT mentor Heath Slater were shown ringside on commentary as Evan Bourne came out for the MITB qualifying match. Of note, Slater got the expected haircut cropping off his hair to shoulder-length. William Regal then came out with Skip Sheffield for the match-up.

[Q7]

4 -- EVAN BOURNE vs. WILLIAM REGAL (w/Skip Sheffield) -- Money in the Bank qualifying match

Regal quickly took advantage, but Bourne nailed Regal with a big knee to the head before coming off the top with the Air Bourne splash for the pin and the win. Bourne gets a big WrestleMania spot. Christian said that's impressive, but he's going to do something different this year - win MITB. Bourne got his shine as Christian gave him a babyface smirk to close the segment. Full line-up is now set: Christian, Ziggler, Kane, Shelton, Hardy, MVP, Bourne, and Swagger.

WINNER: Bourne at 1:25 to qualify for Money in the Bank. Expectedly short match trying to get a little focus on MITB and NXT, which already feels like a stale concept. I don't know how they managed to do that. (n/a)

HBK-Taker video: They rolled the Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker video package with Johnny Cash providing the soundtrack.

[Commercial Break. A commercial aired for Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair facing off in a tag match on TNA Impact. Nice ad telling the audience what they're missing out on right now.]

WM XX recall: Goldberg. Brock Lesnar. Jim Ross's voice. Steve Austin referee at WrestleMania 20. What world am I in? They showed Austin standing tall giving Goldberg and Lesnar Stunners to send them out of WWE for good.

Next week: Steve Austin guest hosts Raw. The folks in Portland probably groaned realizing they got magic tricks and San Diego gets Austin. ... Cole and Lawler then plugged the WrestleMania PPV line-up.

Recap: They rolled video on the Vince McMahon vs. Bret Hart feud going back to last week when McMahon and Hart set up their singles match at WrestleMania focused on McMahon trying to take advantage of Hart's "broken ankle" situation.

Backstage: They showed Vince McMahon smiling as he strutted down the hallway. No cut-off black shirt this time. He had a quarter-sleeve black t-shirt as they shot him from the mid-section up. Main event match vs. Cena is next.

[Commercial Break]

[Q8]

HBK DVD plug: They rolled footage of the Shawn Michaels DVD coming out tomorrow with Michaels rolling through his career from World Class to AWA to WWE.

Announcers: Lawler and Cole were shown on-camera to plug Austin hosting the show. They're going to have "WrestleMania Rewind" matches with John Cena vs. Big Show from WrestleMania 20, Shawn Michaels vs. World Hvt. champion Chris Jericho from a WM19 re-match, and Triple H vs. Randy Orton in a WM25 re-match. Also, the official contract signing between Hart and McMahon happens next week with Austin presiding. Oh, how The Theory continues to unfold leading to the Big Reveal.

In-ring: Justin Roberts introduced Criss Angel for his first appearance in front of the crowd tonight. Angel pumped up the crowd for the main event, then introduced John Cena as the first wrestler in the match. Angel then introduced McMahon, who strutted to the ring in his black pants, black quarter-shirt, and black gloves. McMahon took the mic and mocked Bret Hart sitting up in Calgary freezing his butt off. He said the reality of this match is Cena's going to be defeated one, two, three right now. He then said it won't be any ordinary match because it will be a handicap gauntlet match. Cue up Kozlov. Apparently he's heel again.

5 -- JOHN CENA RUNS THE GAUNTLET

Kozlov charged the ring and tackled Cena before staring over at McMahon, who was standing in the corner cheering on Kozlov. McMahon then tagged in and scored a two count. Suddenly, Drew McIntyre's music hit and McIntyre hit the ring to pound on Cena. So, apparently McMahon doesn't score a pin and the next guy comes out? McIntyre gave Cena a facebuster, then tagged in McMahon, who rolled over Cena and covered him for a two count only. McMahon then called out the next one. Cue up Jack Swagger's theme music. Swagger stormed the ring and hit a right hand as they cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

NXT plug: Meet David Otunga. Back live, Cena was making a comeback on Swagger and about to do the Five Knuckle Shuffle routine. He then teased an Attitude Adjustment on Swagger, but Swagger countered with a spinning neckbreaker and power offense on Swagger. McMahon then asked for a tag, but after the running Vader Bomb. Nope, McMahon wanted one more. Swagger connected again, then tagged in McMahon, who made a cover for a two count. McMahon tried a pin again, but Cena kicked out again.

[Q9 -- over-run] McMahon called for Mark Henry's music and out came Henry. Cole said Henry is friends with Cena, but McMahon is the boss. Henry stared down McMahon and shook his head before approaching Cena. Henry then gave Cena the World's Strongest Slam and McMahon asked for a tag. McMahon slid in and made the cover, but Cena kicked out again. McMahon then went to the floor looking for something and he retrieved a bell and the mic. He said it will now be a No DQ handicap match. McMahon then walked into the ring with bell in hand and Henry tried to reason with him. McMahon shoved Henry away, so McMahon gave him the ring bell. Henry said no way and threw the ring bell down. Suddenly, Batista stormed the ring and speared Henry. Batista then stared down at Cena, but Kofi Kingston's music randomly hit and cleaned house on Batista. Kofi tried his corner attack, but Batista gave him an ugly Batistabomb. Back to McMahon, who re-entered as Cena fired up with right hands on Batista. Cena then turned to McMahon, who danced around the ring and tossed out the bell. Cena then lifted up McMahon for the AA, but Batista speared Cena. Batista began coughing up a lung before giving Cena a clean Batistabomb center ring. McMahon then made the cover for the win.

WINNER: McMahon at 11:18. You knew they wouldn't actually give away Cena vs. McMahon one-on-one. More effective build-up for Cena vs. Batista at the end of the day after some attempted use of mid-card stars in a main event situation rubbing elbows with McMahon. (n/a)

Post-match: McMahon did a pretty silly looking mock Bret Hart pose as the announcers talked about bad things happening to Cena when he's in the ring with Batista. McMahon left the ring and they cut to a shot of Batista standig over Cena's fallen body. The lights went down, then a spotlight focused on Batista, who raised his arms in victory over Cena's fallen body. They closed with Batista's heel smile soaking in the boos from the audience. End Raw six minutes past the top of the hour. A quick flip over to Impact shows they ended the Hogan vs. Flair tag match right after Raw went off the air, leading to a big schmoz and a big return, with Impact ending eight minutes past the top of the hour.

Torch VIP members will be able to listen to a 12-minute instant review of tonight's Raw from myself and a 12-minute instant review of tonight's Impact from Torch editor Wade Keller immediately after tonight's show in the Torch VIP Audio section.

We welcome your 0-10 score and comments on this show for a "Raw Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on Raw, email to pwtorch@gmail.com using our Feedback form.


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