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Raw: The build begins for Batista-Jericho
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


We’re live in Anaheim at a building sponsored by one of the few car companies that can still afford to pay for naming rights, the Honda Center. Since the building’s tenants, the Anaheim Ducks, know a little bit about the rough stuff, perhaps some of them will be on hand as Raw takes us one step closer to that storied event, Cyber Sunday.

We begin with Chris Jericho doing what he currently does best -- complaining. He’s not happy that Mike Adamle arrived at the end of last week’s show to take back his authority, and he’s even less thrilled that the WWE fans will get to pick the guest referee for his title defense against Batista. Adamle reminds Jericho that he wouldn’t even be World Heavyweight Champion without the opportunity the GM gave him a few weeks ago. To keep things interesting, Adamle says Jericho will compete tonight against an opponent selected by Batista and vice versa. When Jericho threatens to go over his head to Shane and Stephanie McMahon, Adamle literally laughs off the idea, explaining that the McMahon kids turn their cell phones off during the show. Undaunted, the champ says he has other ways of reaching them.

In this case, that means in the ring. Jericho appeals to the McMahons about how unfair it is for Adamle to give the WWE Universe the power to decide his fate. As Gregg Easterbrook would say, WWE Universe? Does that imply there are WWE fans on other worlds? Anyway, since Jericho has history with Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin, he feels like he has no chance of keeping his belt. As he attempts to elaborate, he is interrupted by Michaels, who makes his way to the ring.

HBK says he’d like to be able to say he’d be better off helping Jericho win so he could challenge him again for the World title, but he can’t. Indeed, Michaels admits that if he’s voted in, he’ll do everything in his power to make Cyber Sunday the worst day of Jericho’s life. He’s also not going to beg for votes, but he will do what Barack Obama and John McCain wish they could do to each other. With that, he jumps Jericho and pounds him until the champ can retreat to the relative safety of the ramp. As Jericho regroups, he announces that Batista’s opponent for tonight will be... wait for it... Michaels.

Match 1 -- Rey Mysterio and Matt Hardy vs. Mark Henry and Kane

I’m getting the strangest feeling of déjà vu right now. Perhaps it’s because I covered this exact same match last week. Of course, Johnny Knoxville and Chris Pontius of Jackass fame are in attendance tonight, so that’s different (Note to SLAM! Wrestling research intern: please see if the kids still care about Jackass!). Hardy works most of the match against both of the big men, with Rey arriving to bail him out via the hot tag. A 619 has Kane in trouble, and both of the faces leap off the apron to send Henry crashing to the floor. Mysterio tries to come off the top rope, but Kane nails him with a boot to the midsection and promptly covers for the win. The Big Red Machine tries to press his luck with a chokeslam after the bell, but Rey escapes and dropkicks him out of the ring.

Backstage, Todd Grisham stops Batista to get -- what else -- his thoughts on facing Michaels. Big Dave says Jericho isn’t stupid, and he knows Chris is hoping Shawn will take some of his rage out on him. He says he respects HBK as a competitor, but he’ll take Michaels out first if it comes to that.

Match 2 -- JBL vs. Haas Hogan

Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like. Charlie Haas’s string of impersonations that has made a few people chuckle (though not J.R.) continues here with his take on the Hulkster. He even hulks up and hits the big boot, but JBL rolls away from the Atomic Legdrop. One Clothesline from Hell later, Haas is dispatched to go work on his next gimmick.

Grisham goes ringside to talk to the Jackass crew. Though he shows footage from jackassworld.com of Knoxville and company continuing to ridicule The Great Khali, they deny responsibility. In fact, Knoxville says they are there to see midgets since they left theirs at home. Forget them, I want Grisham to interview Nancy O’Dell, who is also in the front row. Schwing! Oops, am I dating myself too much with that reference?

Did you know... Raw was the highest rated entertainment show on Monday nights the past three weeks. Oh really? Two can play at this game...

Did you know... SLAM! Wrestling had the most read Raw report written by people born in the U.S. and published by a Canadian website for the last 40 consecutive weeks? See? It’s easy!

Another video package airs with multiple WWE personalities saying nice things about the recuperating John Cena and his passion for the business. The powers that be must really think we’re all going to forget him while he’s on the shelf. And speaking of injured wrestlers, Orton comes out to convince the fans not to vote for him as the guest referee at Cyber Sunday, as he does not want to put himself in physical jeopardy so close to his in-ring return. It’s all in your hands fans, for $0.99 per vote. Yes, in a time of great financial turmoil, the WWE is charging you to vote on matches which they have likely picked already. Shameless.

Match 3 -- Batista vs. Shawn Michaels

Before the pleasantries can get underway, Jericho appears on the Titan Tron to announce that this will now be a Lumberjack Match. Superstars pour down the ramp to fulfill the new stipulation, including Henry, Orton, JBL, William Regal and Priceless. Michaels is first to be thrown to the wolves, but he skins the cat and avoids a beating. The second time he isn’t as lucky, falling into a Henry bear hug. He kicks out of the ensuing pin, and it’s commercial time. Jericho looks on as Batista is tossed out, where he barely avoids Orton’s patented running kick to the head. JBL knocks Michaels off the top rope, where he gets a spinebuster and is lifted up for the Batista Bomb. HBK manages to dump himself and Batista out to the floor, where they are swarmed by the lumberjacks. The melee makes its way back into the ring, and the ref throws the match out. JBL gets Sweet Chin Music, Henry gets a spear, and the two faces shake hands after a minute or two of soul-searching. I think they may sing "Kumbaya" during the commercial break too.

Back from break, Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix hit the ring so Marella can update the Honk-A-Meter, which now stands at nine weeks. Just a little more than a year to go! Santino tells the fans they can text a racist term to see him face the Honky Tonk Man or vote for "one of two cross-dressers" instead. He invites Knoxville and Pontius to the ring, causing me to change the channel. Just kidding. Phoenix takes offense at something Knoxville says, and she responds with a very weak slap (My wife’s reaction: "She didn’t even hit him!") and an even weaker body slam. Like the trooper he is. Knoxville sells it. As the power couple leaves, Hornswoggle arrives and hits Johnny with a Tadpole Splash.

The "fun" isn’t over yet. Big Dick Johnson comes down and does his thing, encouraging Pontius to do his thing -- which means he strips down to a thong and bow tie to join in. The dancing ends when the Boogey Man appears to give Pontius a clothesline and a free helping of worms. Knoxville remarks that after everything the two of them have been through (jackassworld.com!), this wasn’t so bad. Naturally, Khali and his translator pick that moment to head down the ramp. Knoxville’s head is squeezed, and a power bomb mercifully brings this lengthy segment to an end.

Backstage, JTG is looking to "borrow" a duck-shaped hockey mask. Shad says he didn’t know his partner liked hockey, but JTG doesn’t... he just likes ice. Yo, yo, yo! It’s Cryme Tyme!

Match 4 -- John Morrison, Miz and Jillian vs. Cryme Tyme and Kelly Kelly

Apparently Morrison and Miz are having a running feud with their internet shows. I’ll go see what’s… oh, very sneaky Shane! I almost fell for that. Morrison and Miz actually do a pretty funny rap making fun of their foes which is constantly interrupted by Jillian’s singing. A match eventually takes place, with Shad getting the pin after JTG hits Morrison with the duck mask. True story: two members of SLAM! Wrestling’s Central Pennsylvania branch (who shall remain nameless) wanted me to give my two month-old son Jeremiah Thomas a second middle name so he could be called JTG.

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler do their dutiful pimping of the Cyber Sunday card. The main event is up next.

Main Event -- Chris Jericho vs. ?

And the winner is ... CM Punk! Oh, and Batista informs the two men that there will be a special guest referee, and since he’s sporting a striped shirt with his tights (interesting look, that), I’m guessing it’s him. Lawler declares that this is the first time Big Dave has ever refereed a match (Note to SLAM! Wrestling research intern: please fact-check this!). Punk gets a quick two-count, then clotheslines Jericho to the floor. Jericho tries to leave, but Batista retrieves him and rolls him back in. Punk locks on a submission hold with help from the ropes and follows with a cross body for two. Punk hits a high kick and a back suplex but is thrown off the top rope. Jericho nails a vertical suplex and drops an elbow only to fall victim to a slow count. Punk escapes a bulldog, throwing CJ onto the turnbuckle. Jericho dodges a running knee and looks for the Walls of Jericho, but Punk rolls him up for two. Punk connects with a running bulldog but sees the GTS reversed into a Code Breaker. One problem: Batista has something in his eye and can’t finish the count. Jericho takes exception and gets a Batista Bomb in response. The somewhat mixed reaction is giving me Cena flashbacks. Punk covers for three, and we’re out for this week.

Nick Tylwalk is pleased to announce that you can vote for who you’d like to see write up the Cyber Sunday by texting the name of your favorite SLAM! Wrestling writer to 1-800-FOOLEDU. $0.99 per message; your carrier’s standard text messaging rates may also apply.