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   Mon, August 20, 2007



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COMMENT





Raw: Last stop before Summerslam
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


It’s an interesting night of testosterone-inspired action tonight. Why? Well, Monday Night Football is on, and, as other MTS subscribers know, it’s free preview time for The Fight Network, which means Ring of Honor is on. Let’s see if I made the right choice by watching Raw.

We get a nice surprise cold start with Tazz replacing Jerry Lawler on commentary. Unfortunately, the wussification of Tazz means we won’t get the wicked banter between the two, but still, it’s a nice change. Now put Joey Styles with JBL on ECW and we’ll REALLY see some fireworks.

We start the in-ring off with Randy Orton talking about John Cena and the damage to the champ. He even calls on Cena to forfeit the title. Instead, however, Vince McMahon, a.k.a. Daddy Dearest, comes out and turns the focus back to his own storyline. We quickly learn that the bastard child is male, narrowing it down ... significantly? Maybe.

Vince then goes on a diatribe and brings the chatter back to Cena/Orton, and eventually Cena makes his way out. The champ talks about how much he doesn’t like Vinnie Mac, and it looks like that will be the next feud after Orton takes the title. McMahon comments that if Cena doesn’t make it to Summerslam, Vince will strip him of the title. Vinnie then makes a mother joke at Mrs. Cena’s expense, and he gets plastered by little Johnny (no, not that one). The end result is Cena vs. Snitsky tonight, which gets zero reaction. Intriguing development as we get our next feud set up between Vince and Cena, but just like the Cena/Carlito mini-feud, we get little interaction between Cena and Orton.

Coming back from break we get a Rey Mysterio video. He’s also returning at Summerslam, don’cha know.

Match 1 – Melina/Beth Phoenix vs. Mickie James/Candice Michelle

Candice’s entrance music has been remixed, for those who keep track of those kind of things.

Before the match begins, William Regal comes out to announce a multibrand Diva Battle Royale, with the winner facing “Candy” (Regal’s words, not mine) at a future date. Interesting, very interesting.

Just as a side note – MTS was promo’ing that it was Lacey vs. Allison Danger in RoH tonight. I’m just saying...

Candice spends a fair amount of time in the ring and gets an admittedly interesting side roll-up for the W in the extremely short match. It was good while it lasted -- all of 30 seconds.

Winners: Mickie James/Candice Michelle

What’s even better is that Mickie turns on Candice, tossing her out of the ring, then Melina tosses her out of the ring, and then Beth turns on Melina and tosses her out. Good psychology.

Next up, Regal is talking to someone on the phone about the Battle Royale when Santino Marella comes in to talk about the Maria/Ron Simmons date. Good exchange.

Elsewhere, King Booker talks about his match with Triple H, while the M.A.D.E. announces the coronation, v.2.0.

Next up, Vince is walking backstage with Coach, talking about his potential son, when they come across Val Venis, then Daivari, then Mr. Kennedy, then, we fade to black.

Match 2 – Cody Rhodes vs. Shelton Benjamin

Another decent, but short match for the prodigal son, which he again wins on the fluke roll-up.

Winner: Cody Rhodes

Unlike last week, however, the World’s Greatest Tag Team gets a hold of young Cody after the match and punish him, finishing with the World’s Greatest Leapfrog. It’s good build, but who would be Cody’s partner for the inevitable tag match?

Match 3 – Lance Cade/Trevor Murdoch vs. Paul London/Brian Kendrick

Hmm, I wonder if London and Kendrick are on RoH right now...

**Click**

Nope, it’s just Brian Danielson vs. Christopher Daniels. Wait a minute...

Well, the match isn’t quite American Dragon vs. Fallen Angel (or Chicago vs. Indianapolis for that matter), but damnit, these two teams mesh pretty well. Highspot of the match is both of the faces getting Tope Canadienes on the southerners. In the midst of the carwreck, Cryme Tyme come in, steal Trevor Murdoch’s hat and auction it. Meanwhile, Kendrick uses the Crucifix to win the match for his team. Sharp building to a match, which by all given rights should be happening at Summerslam. Seriously, the tags on Raw are getting some major heat.

Winners: London and Kendrick

Next up, we head to a bar and grill for Ron Simmons’ and Maria’s date, when Santino wanders in with Jillian Hall. It quickly turns into an odd double date.

Back to the ring and we get King Booker and the M.A.D.E. in the ring for the coronation v.2.0. Booker calls out Triple H to crown him. “Hunter” comes out soon after, complete with Conan-style loin cloth, and indeed crowns Booker. Next, Booker approaches the broadcast booth to chat with J.R. about some of his comments from last week. Booker says all will be forgiven if Ross kisses his ring. J.R. refuses, but is forced to by Sharmell. Weak. Very, very weak.

Back to the date we go and Jillian is serenading a couple at another table. Santino continues to be on a roll in his new heel persona.

Next is Carlito’s Cabana with Umaga. I’m calling the coconut spot now. The gist is that the two look to face off for the Intercontinental Title, before Kennedy comes out. J.R. starts to make allusions to Kennedy being Vince’s son. Umaga finally starts to pay attention to the two and eventually attacks Kennedy, then destroys the Cabana. Unfortunately, no coconut spot here.

Before we go to break, Regal comes out and announces that the two heels will face off next, with the winner challenging “Umanga” (sigh) at Summerslam.

Match 4 – Ken Kennedy vs. Carlito

We start the match with some groundwork between the two, who show to be equals in reversals and many momentum shifts, almost what you would see in RoH. In fact, the match is really smooth and keeps my attention. Eventually, Carlito ends up on the outside and gets the same kick against the stairs that Bobby Lashley took. If this puts Carlito on the shelf also, it would be a good build for Kennedy as a cold-hearted assassin, but at the same time all too similar to Orton’s push.

Back from a break, Kennedy continued his control, but it’s not full control as Carlito continues to show some fire, and eventually returns fire with Kennedy’s shoulder becoming a target. As the match goes on, the crowd really starts to get into it as well, something extremely hard to do in a heel vs. heel match. Kennedy eventually, however, gets Carlito set up for the Green Bay Plunge, but Carlito gets the Superplex. Both men come down with pins. Great match with a little bit more of a unique double pin situation. Easy 7/10 by my count.

Winner: Draw

After the match, Regal comes out and declares that both Carlito and Kennedy will face “Umanga” (sigh) at Summerslam. That could very well be the show stealer.

Back from a break, we get a Triple H video.

Then, we head back to the bar and grill for the conclusion of the date. Methinks Santino and Simmons will lock ‘em up soon.

Elsewhere, Melina and Vince chat about her threat from last week. Snitsky walks into the picture and cuts a decent promo on Cena.

Match 5 – Snitsky vs. John Cena

As one would probably expect, Snitsky controls much of the match, until Cena gets the big man up for the FU. Of course, that’s when Orton strikes.

Winner: John Cena (DQ)

Orton continues the abuse after the match and eventually gets the title. He really should’ve used the skull kick to finish the night, instead, he just stares at the belt, as we fade to black.

Overall, this was a solid go-home show for Raw, save for the odd hype for Rhodes and WGTT, and Cryme Tyme and the tag champs, since none of them will be on the PPV this Sunday. Definitely was worth watching though. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to catch the RoH replay.


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    Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000.