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COMMENT





Raw: Hardy-Orton preview Rumble battle
By DALE PLUMMER -- SLAM! Wrestling


This is my favorite time of year, and not just because we are in the midst of the NFL playoffs. The Royal Rumble is fast approaching, and that is by far my favorite pay-per-view.

Jeff Hardy kicks off the show from Mobile, Alabama, and gets a great reception. Hardy goes third person on us as he talks about the chance to become WWE champion. Hardy is upset he didn't take out Orton last week, so it is time to finish the job. Hardy calls out Orton and then threatens to go find him. The WWE champ steps out on stage. Orton accepts the challenge, but wants Hardy to put the Intercontinental title on the line. Orton taunts Hardy about taking out Matt, so Hardy just reinforces his statement that he will take Orton out, tonight.

Later on, Ric Flair will take on William Regal with Flair's career on the line.

Match #1 -- Ashley, Maria, and Mickie James vs. Melina, Jillian, and Beth Phoenix

Ashley and Maria take out Melina and Jillian on the outside, but Beth Phoenix is able to hit a fisherman's suplex on Mickie to get the pin.

Winner via pinfall: Melina, Jillian, and Beth Phoenix

Vince tells Regal he has every confidence in him that he will beat Ric Flair. Regal says he will end Flair's career in the most undignified way possible. Vince then pimps RAW being in High Def next week, when Snitsky walks in and says he wants to make an impact. Vince decides on the spot that Snitsky will take on Triple H.

Match #2 -- Shawn Michaels vs. Trevor Murdoch - Royal Rumble Qualifying Match

Michaels gets on the mike and can't believe he has to qualify for the Rumble. HBK says he wants to challenge Kennedy, so let's make it happen. Instead Shawn gets Trevor Murdoch. Murdoch hits a back elbow and then an inverted atomic drop followed by a big boot. HBK is whipped hard into the corner and Murdoch locks in a head vice. HBK fights out and hits a Thesz press. Michaels follows with a flying forearm, then an inverted atomic drop. Shawn slams Murdoch, and then drops on elbow from the top turnbuckle. HBK warms up the band, but Murdoch pulls up and falls to the mat to avoid the kick. HBK quickly applies an inverted figure four and Murdoch taps.

Winner via submission: Shawn Michaels

Kennedy appears on the Titantron telling Shawn he has passed him by, and HBK can't handle the fact that Kennedy is better. Kennedy says he has nothing left to prove, but he will give HBK one more day. Shawn ends the segment by catching Murdoch with sweet chin music.

Vince is with Hornswoggle, and he is concerned about Horny in the Rumble. So Vince has set up a little practice for him tonight. Vince then grabs his son and tells him he is a McMahon and anything can happen.

Match #3 -- Snitsky vs. Triple H

Hunter ducks a punch in the corner, and tees off on Snitsky. Hunter gets the tables turned on him, but Hunter exploded out of the corner with a clothesline. Snitsky is then tossed from the ring. Back in the ring, Snitsky drives a shoulder into the mid-section of Triple H. Snitsky hits a side-slam and follows with two elbow drops. Snitsky catches Hunter with a bear hug. HHH elbows his way free. Triple H slips out of a pump handle slam, and counters with a DDT. Hunter hits a facebuster and inverted spin buster. HHH sets up the pedigree, but Snitsky counters with a back body drop. Hunter is whipped in the steps. Hunter avoids gets drilled with the steps, and responds with a chair shot, getting himself DQ'ed. Hunter gets his sledgehammer, and clocks Snitsky in the gut. Trips then hits the pedigree.

Winner via DQ: Snitsky

After the match, Vince appears on small screen under the Titantron. He advises Trips to calm down; instead Hunter smashes the screen with the sledgehammer. The screen rips and then "explodes", Hunter tosses the hammer at it one more time for good measure.

JBL arrives on RAW amid a shower of red and black balloons. JBL shows the footage of his brutal assault on Chris Jericho. Bradshaw says he is better the Jericho, and Jericho is a coward.

Match #4 -- Mini Royal Rumble -- Hornswoggle vs. Ken Kennedy vs. Mankind vs. Batista vs. surprise entrants

A smaller version of Kennedy walks out for the "mini" royal rumble. He calls for the mike to be lowered, but he can't reach it. Mini-Mankind is out next, and "Kennedy" works over Hornswoggle. Mini-kind pulls out a Mini-Socko, but Hornswoggle blocks it, tossing Mini-kind from the ring. Hornswoggle gets Ken lifted over his head and tosses him over the top rope, as Lil' Batista enters the ring. Lil' Kane is the surprise entrant and starts with chops. Lil' Batista hits a sit down power bomb on Kaney. Hornswoggle kicks Lil' Batista in the crotch, and tosses him from the ring. Kaney climbs to the second rope and hits a flying forearm and then goes for a choke slam. Hornswoggle blocks it and hits a Samoan drop, and then kicks him out of the ring. Khali's music hits, but it's the real deal this time. Khali grabs Horny, but Finlay makes the save with his shillelagh.

Winner: Hornswoggle

Finlay is extremely upset with Vince, who says he had nothing to do with Khali. Finlay tells him not to back out on their deal. Vince tells him not to mention the deal, and go take care of Khali himself.

Match #5 -- Ric Flair vs. William Regal

We return from commercial in mid match and Regal is working over Flair's knee. Flair turns the tables, smashing Regal's leg into the ring post and then follows with shin breaker. Flair locks in the figure four, but Regal gets to the ropes. Regal with a roll-up but gets caught with a handful of tights. Flair rolls-up Regal and gets the pin with help from the tights.

Winner via pinfall: Ric Flair

Match #7 -- Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton -- Intercontinental Title match

Orton kicks Hardy in the neither regions and the ref calls for the bell.

Winner via DQ: Jeff Hardy

Orton tells the crowd the show isn't over and tosses Hardy to the floor. Orton rips up the mats, but Hardy blocks the RKO. Hardy and Orton fight up the ramp. Orton smashes Hardy into the RAW set. Orton charges Hardy, but Jeff counters with a back body drop that sends Orton off the stage. Hardy looks over a prone Orton and heads over to lighting rig. Jeff climbs to the first level, but decides to climb higher. Hardy nails a swanton bomb from an insane height and crashes onto Orton. Both men are carted off on stretchers to end the show, but Hardy does raise his to the crowd as he is rolled away.

Dale Plummer has been writing for SLAM! Wrestling since 2003.