Raw: Jericho's title win highlights 800th episode celebration
NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling
Tampa is the site for a very special episode of Raw that celebrates the show’s 800th episode, but isn’t actually Episode 800 itself. Confused? All will be revealed in this special three-hour show, culminating with a steel cage match between Batista and Chris Jericho for the World Heavyweight title.
The opening video touts the show’s longevity, pointing out that it’s been on the air for almost 16 years with no repeats. Three hours is pretty long, but at least I’m getting paid 50 percent more for writing this. What’s that, Greg? I’m not? Ah, crap.
Along with the Steel Cage Match, we’ll also see the latest in a long line of DX reunions as Triple H and Shawn Michaels team to face John Morrison and The Miz. I will say it doesn’t seem right to have a celebration of this show’s history without Jim Ross calling the action.
Randy Orton gets things started by coming to the ring to address his ultimatum from the previous week, Specifically, he threatened to quit if Shane and Stephanie McMahon didn’t fire General Manager Mike Adamle. Orton says the siblings will be here, but they’re making us wait a bit. Taking a page from the old Stone Cold playbook, he sets up a chair at ringside and says he won’t leave until his grievance is addressed.
Match 1 – The Hardys vs. M.V.P. and The Brian Kendrick
Obviously I haven’t been watching enough Smackdown, because Kendrick’s new gimmick caught me off guard. I like it though – I may request to be called The Nick Tylwalk from here on out. The match is pretty standard stuff save for a cool sequence in the middle between Jeff Hardy and Kendrick. Speaking of The Brian, the ref fails to see him tag in, allowing both Hardy brothers to hit M.V.P. with their finishers and Matt to get the pin.
Flashback: Episode #1 – 1993
A new era began with the debut broadcast from the Manhattan Center in New York City. Bobby Heenan had to resort to his master of disguise skills to try to sneak in.
Flashback: Episode # 17 – 1993
The WWF (as it was known back in the mysterious Time Before Wikipedia) was a smaller operation, so it didn’t get scrutinized for Child Labor Law violations. Thus, it was no big deal when a 12-year-old kid showed up and defeated Razor Ramon.
Back in real time, Orton is still glaring and waiting. Maybe Austin should tell him that he’d get his point across better if he put the chair in the ring and sat there.
Match 2 – Eight-Man Battle Royal
The winner of this one receives a shot at Santino Marella’s Intercontinental belt next week. The participants are Cryme Tyme, Priceless, Snitsky, Jamie Noble and William Regal. Speaking of Regal, he does the old reliable trick where he’s fighting out on the floor, but without going over the top rope. That means Ted DiBiase thinks he’s won after eliminating both members of Cryme Tyme, only to have Regal return and win the match.
A limo pulls up, because you couldn’t really have a special episode of Raw without including a limo shot. Shane and Stephanie climb out, with the former remarking to the latter that this isn’t how he expected to celebrate 800 episodes.
Flashback: Episode # 409 – 2001
This one has a special place in my heart, as I was the Nitro reporter for this very site at the time and soon to be out of a job. The story was that Shane tricked Vince and bought WCW, which had slid to the point that it was playing Circuit City to the WWE’s Best Buy. The short-lived invasion angle wasn’t what it could have been, but it was fun getting f-bombs hurled at me leaving a pay-per-view in Cleveland because I was wearing a WCW shirt.
Tired of waiting, Orton storms into the ring. He eventually gets what he wants as Shane-O-Mac steps through the ropes. He’s not real happy about the ultimatum, but Orton insists that if Vince was here, he’d make sure to take care of his “top Superstar.” Their conversation is interrupted by Adamle, who joins the fun and explains that he wanted to be the first GM to stay completely neutral and not pursue an agenda. He feels he crossed that line when he slapped Orton, and in an awkward sequence – though that’s par for the course for Adamle – he resigns, effective immediately. Orton won’t let it go, demanding an apology, but Shane thinks it’s Randy who should say he’s sorry. McMahon also reveals that Orton has been medically cleared to wrestle for weeks and wonders when he was going to return to action. Randy was thinking Survivor Series, but Shane has something a little sooner in mind: tonight against CM Punk.
Flashback: Episode # 778 – 2008
Hey, this wasn’t that long ago! Barack Obama and John McCain like Raw too. Apparently there is an election coming up. It’s a shame that it got no media coverage.
Match 3 – Vladimir Kozlov vs. Charlie Haas
Haas is doing a Bret Hart gimmick, complete with the “best there is, best there was, best there ever will be” line. Kozlov is not amused, and he proceeds to squash Haas to continue his undefeated streak. He’s kind of like a more boring Russian Goldberg.
Speaking of boring, Todd Grisham talks to Batista about the main event. Leaving no cliché unturned, Dave says he’s worked a long time to get his belt back, and that Jericho will have no excuses when he loses. You know, the exact same things Batista said last week!
Flashback: Episode # 257 – 1998
And now for something completely different. It was classic DX when the group invaded Nitro, openly mocking the fact that WCW was giving away free tickets to fill the arena. Good stuff.
Here’s a comment about the new Raw Vs. Smackdown video game from Raw reporter (currently on sabbatical) Dale Plummer: the game cares more about the tag team division than the actual WWE! It does seem strange that the focus of the advertising is the ability to form tag teams from any two Superstars. You mean like every other wrestling game for the last ten years?
Match 4 – D-Generation X vs. John Morrison and The Miz
With DX, of course, getting to the match is half the fun. Triple H and Michaels replay footage from last week’s ECW that saw Morrison and Miz poke fun at the veterans. DX mocks the upstarts for their unoriginality and insinuate that their foes are actually a couple. During the actual match, there’s more disrespect as Morrison nips up and hits Sweet Chin Music on HHH. The heels do a double crotch chop to a chorus of boos. Miz goes for a Pedigree only to find that Hunter knows the counter to his own signature move. Miz gets nailed by Sweet Chin music and a Pedigree and Triple H covers for three.
JBL is watching the action backstage with Shane, and he decides to throw his hat in the ring to be the new GM. McMahon wants to see Layfield in a more hands-on role, like as a participant in a match. When JBL offers to turn the main event into a Triple Threat Match, Shane counters with a one-on-one match ... against The Undertaker.
Flashback: Episode # 243 – 1998
Iron Mike Tyson made an appearance, and Austin helpfully offered to teach him some sign language. Hearing-impaired people everywhere flooded the FCC’s phone lines with complaints after Stone Cold’s teaching methods involved just two (middle) fingers. Okay, I made that last part up.
Match 5 – 16-Diva Tag Team Match
This seems like it would be a big cluster, but it’s actually alright because Mae Young works most of the match for the face side. No, that’s not a typo. Beth Phoenix eventually rolls Young up from behind and gets the pinfall, then watches as Santino gloats about it afterward. Nice.
The Smackdown Rebound shows how Chavo Guerrero fared against Undertaker in a Casket Match. Here’s a hint: not well, despite some help from Big Show. And Kozlov is waiting in the wings.
Flashback: Episode # 456 – 2002
Hollywood Hogan and The Rock faced off. Common sense would suggest Rocky could have learned something from the legend, but since he already knew he could lose matches and still be over and it was Hogan who thought losing a wrestling match was the end of the world, common sense didn’t really apply here.
Match 6 – CM Punk vs. Randy Orton
It’s a pretty nice return for Orton, and he and Punk work well together. The match comes to an abrupt halt when Priceless does a run-in just as Randy is about to go for an RKO, causing the ref to call for the bell. An enraged Orton does his running kick to the head of DiBiase, then fumes as he heads back up the ramp.
Backstage, Orton is confronted by Manu and Cody Rhodes, but he tells them he had to kick some sense into DiBiase. He dares them to do something about it if they want. When they back down, Orton tells them there may be hope for them yet.
Flashback: Episode # 772 – 2008
Big Show temporarily got the upper hand in his feud with Floyd Mayweather by picking him up and hurling him to the floor. Yes, that’s right: a 400-pound man picked up a 150-pound man! Remember, anything can happen in the WWE.
Not yet out of the building, Adamle drops in on Stephanie. McMahon has some kind words for Adamle’s resignation speech, but he responds by accusing her of forcing him out by constantly undercutting his decisions. She growls that controlling the show is her birthright and he takes off. Brother Shane pops in next to say he has a major announcement about Survivor Series, but despite some prodding, he won’t reveal it to his sister.
Flashback: Episode # 475 – 2002
Jeff Hardy served notice that he could be taken seriously as a singles competitor with a show-stealing performance in a ladder match against The Undertaker. Six years later, we seem to still be waiting for him to realize his full potential.
Oh thank goodness! Jim Ross enters the arena to a big ovation to help call the next match.
Match 7 – John “Bradshaw” Layfield vs. The Undertaker
More sizzle than substance, as JBL decides after a few minutes that he really doesn’t want any part of this and gets himself counted out. He doesn’t get to gloat for long though, as Michaels runs down and rolls him back into the ring, where he receives a richly deserved Tombstone .
Jericho asks Shane about his big announcement, assuming it’s about the world heavyweight championship and thus, likely to affect him. McMahon confirms his suspicion, stating that tonight’s winner will defend the title against John Cena at Survivor Series. Jericho says it will be him, and he’ll go on to defeat Cena as well. Karma has a way of evening out, doesn’t it Shane?
Flashback: Episode # 304 – 1999
An Attitude Era classic: Austin arrived in a beer truck and hosed down The Corporation with generous amounts of his favorite beverage.
Kung Fu Naki and Hornswoggle ignite a dance party that eventually grows to involve wrestlers past and present, Lillian Garcia and the announcers. Michael Cole ends up dancing with Goldust. Look people, I just report this stuff. Ron Simmons sums up my thoughts: Damn!
Flashback: Episode # 775 – 2008
A legend made his final (for now anyway) appearance. Ric Flair said his goodbyes and many tears were shed, with definite justification. I’m not ashamed to say I teared up a bit myself at the end of his match at WrestleMania 24.
By the way, tickets for WrestleMania 25 go on sale Saturday. Victor Zhao, if you’re reading this, can I crash at your place? Meanwhile, some of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the house.
Match 8 – Kane and Mark Henry vs. Rey Mysterio and Kofi Kingston
Evan Bourne was supposed to be Rey’s partner, but he hurt himself (legitimately) on ECW. Kingston is a good replacement style-wise, and he handles himself well until he’s caught in mid-air coming off the top rope by Henry. A World’s Strongest Slam takes care of Kofi, and Kane sends Rey skidding out to the floor. He’s about to send Mysterio for a ride when The Great Khali makes the save. Khali smashes his way through Kane and clobbers Henry in the ring, setting him up for a 619. An amused Rey looks grateful for the help.
A video package walks us through the early part of Cena’s WWE career. Back in real time, Stephanie scolds Shane for not keeping her in the loop. He wishes Dad was there to see them, and Steph thinks he would be proud of both of them.
Main Event – Chris Jericho vs. Batista – World Heavyweight Title Steel Cage Match
Jericho does the smart thing by attempting to climb out immediately. Batista will have none of it and introduces his foe’s face to the steel several times. Time for one last commercial break. Jericho uses the time to weaken Batista’s bandaged left knee, locking in the Walls of Jericho. Batista almost causes his own defeat by hurling Jericho through the open cage door, but he scrambles and grabs Chris by the trunks, exposing more of the Cheeks of Jericho than I want to see. Batista rains down punches, but Jericho slams the door into his knee. The injured leg won’t hold up the champ and he has to kick out of a pinning attempt. A Code Breaker is attempted but thwarted by a slam into the cage. Batista tries for a spear and sees Jericho step aside. The challenger climbs the cage and is on his way back down when he’s met at the door. A spinebuster by Batista sets up the Batista Bomb, but Jericho is close enough to the cage to climb out of harm’s way. They struggle near the top of the cage and both men fall, with the champ getting crotched on the top rope. Heading back up the cage, Batista looks for a Batista Bomb from the corner. Jericho grabs onto the cables that hold up the cage to save himself, finding a loose link or metal coupling of some sort. That makes a handy weapon to use against Batista, who slumps down as Jericho disposes of the evidence. He heads up and over, but Batista manages to stick his arm between the cage wall and the scaffolding at the top of the cage, grabbing Jericho by the throat. Chris rocks back and kicks the cage into Batista’s knee, freeing himself in the process. Jericho drops to the floor, and a stunned and bloody Batista looks on in disbelief as his title slips away. Canada rules the WWE Universe as we head toward Episode 1000. Insert evil laugh here and fade to black – our three hours are up.
The Nick Tylwalk hasn't been keeping track, but he's been doing this off and on for years and is pretty sure he's approaching TV report #250. RSVP for the anniversary celebration to firstname.lastname@example.org.