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Raw: Cena and Michaels collide in Sioux City
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


At this point, it’s pretty safe to say the angle with Shawn Michaels as his employee is the best storyline ever to feature JBL. The folks in Sioux City, Iowa get a firsthand look at the latest developments tonight as Michaels takes on John Cena to soften him up for his boss with a Royal Rumble showdown less than two weeks away.

Bradshaw and Michaels have a little pre-show limo chat, and JBL reminds Shawn that he’s fighting for his paycheck tonight. And since he won’t be appearing in the main event at the year’s biggest show, Michaels can consider tonight’s match his WrestleMania.

Stephanie McMahon heads to the ring to tell everyone how much she’s looking forward to the Royal Rumble and to the return of Vince McMahon next week. Sadly, she’s cut off by someone who’s anxiously awaiting Vince’s return even more: Chris Jericho. He thinks Steph must be scared because her dad will take back control of Raw and right everything that’s wrong, including replacing JBL with Jericho at the Rumble. There are a couple barbs back and forth at Mike Adamle’s expense, but Steph says the main event for Jan. 25 is set and the contract signing will take place next Monday. She also tries to book Chris in a match tonight, but he refuses to compete unless the World Title is at stake. Stephanie makes a few more threats which Jericho brushes aside, saying he doesn’t give a damn what a lame duck thinks. McMahon says he may give a damn about this: “You’re fired!”

Wait, I’m confused. You mean Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia isn’t coming out in theaters and it’s going straight to DVD? Surely, that can’t be right.

A stunned Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler replay the Jericho firing as he’s escorted out of the building by security. I call anti-Canadian discrimination!

Match 1 – The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio

This is a nice little match to get the fans going, including some guy in the first floor section decked out in full Carolina Panthers gear. You know, because the Panthers have lots of fans in Iowa. Miz escapes the first attempt at a 619 and nearly steals one by sitting down during a sunset flip. Mysterio kicks out and has better luck with a second 619, and the ensuing splash puts Miz away. Oh crap, here comes Mike Knox. Rey has better luck fending him off this time, sending his large stalker to the floor and ending this segment in a stalemate.

Candice Michelle tells CM Punk she thought Vince might have been dead. He’s not listening though, as he has his mind on his upcoming Intercontinental Title match against William Regal. Speaking of Vince, a video package takes us back to the days when his on-camera role was merely that of an announcer.

Match 2 – CM Punk vs. William Regal – Intercontinental Title Match

The title can change hands on a disqualification this time. There’s some good mat wrestling early, but things slowly turn in Regal’s favor. Punk lands a punch to the gut in the corner, but the champ uses some good acting to make the ref think it was a low blow, and Punk is disqualified. Pretty sneaky sis.

Cody Rhodes is ignoring Mickie James, who is waxing poetic about the snowy Iowa weather. He soon finds himself confronted by Sim Snuka and Manu, who are still holding a grudge from last week’s show. They warn Rhodes that they plan to take out Randy Orton tonight, and he’ll need to choose sides. Also, they have back-up coming with them, someone who’s also a second generation wrestler.

Todd Grisham asks Regal if he’s satisfied with his victory. As it turns out, he’s very satisfied. But Stephanie is not, and she decrees that there will be a third and final meeting between Regal and Punk next week contested under No DQ rules.

Since it’s about that time, the WWE is starting to reveal this year’s Hall of Fame class. The first inductee is billed as someone who revolutionized the industry, and it’s actually not an exaggeration… because it’s Stone Cold Steve Austin. The video package celebrating Austin’s career is the kind that the WWE does so well, and it’s quite good.

JBL tells Michaels not to worry, because Jericho saved his money and will be alright even though he’s been fired. He also tells HBK that with him in the corner, Cena doesn’t have a chance. Michaels fires back that if this really is his WrestleMania, he doesn’t need JBL in his corner to beat Cena.

More on Vince, just in case this is your first time watching the show. And in the feud that no one demanded, Mysterio and Knox will finally have a match next Monday.

Match 3 – Kane vs. Randy Orton

Rhodes walks out with Orton. Kane sends Randy out to the floor, which is the perfect excuse for a commercial break. Kane controls the action after the break, but Orton escapes a chokeslam and hits a neckbreaker. Kane returns the favor, shoving his way out of an RKO and climbing to the top turnbuckle. He leaps, but Orton connects with a dropkick in mid-air and makes the cover. The ref counts the three even though Kane’s shoulder clearly was up at two. As the Big Red Machine pleads his case, Manu and Snuka come to the cage to offer Rhodes one last chance to switch sides. They also reveal their ace in the hole: a returning Ted DiBiase Jr. Orton finds himself surrounded, but when the inevitable fight begins, both Rhodes and DiBiase come to his aid, and Manu and Snuka are soon left unconscious.

Jericho’s firing is replayed. Again. In the back, Cena flips the script on Grisham and tells him about the Royal Rumble. Saying anything can happen, the champ also states that JBL bought himself the best when he hired Michaels. And if he has to face HBK in his WrestleMania tonight, then so be it.

Match 4 – Beth Phoenix and Jillian vs. Kelly Kelly and Melina

Before she can get to the ring, Melina is jumped by one of the photographers who always accompany her entrance – except this one is Rosa Mendez in disguise. While security deals with her, Phoenix and Jillian continue destroying the faces on the ramp.

More Vince promos, including his hilarious acceptance of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that references Kermit the Frog. Back in Sioux City, Orton congratulates Rhodes and DiBiase for making the right choice, at least from a certain point of view. DiBiase mentions that all three of them are entered into the Rumble match, but Orton reminds the youngsters that the match can have only one winner.

A line is forming outside Stephanie’s office to see who else is getting into the Rumble match. Jamie Noble, Dolph Ziggler, Goldust and Cryme Tyme are all waiting. Santino Marella comes out of the office and lets out a relieved cheer. He tells the other he’ll see them all at the Royal Rumble… well, maybe not all of them. See you later home cheeses!

Okay, you wore me down. Screw Watchmen, rent, buy, borrow or steal Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia!

Main Event – Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena

Michaels gets a ride out in JBL’s limo (sponsored by Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner!). JBL stays ringside despite Shawn’s wishes. Cena offers a handshake and HBK accepts. Neither man can get an advantage on the mat. Cena slides out of the way of Sweet Chin Music, and Michaels takes a big backdrop and gets deposited on the outside. A few short bursts of offense end with HBK reversing a suplex into the Figure Four. Cena flips it over and they break the hold. Cena hits a Throwback and comes off the top rope with a legdrop, but Michaels eludes it and locks the champ into a Crippler Crossface. Time for one last commercial. Cena regains the upper hand with a series of suplexes, and Michaels has to grab the top rope to avoid an FU. Cena wraps Shawn in a bear hug… for… a… long… time. Finally a war of punches and chops breaks out, and HBK hits a flying forearm that leaves both men down. As they rise, Cena uses a couple of jumping shoulders, but Michaels counters the last one, hits a body slam and goes up top. Cena meets him there but finds himself power bombed off the turnbuckle for a near fall. HBK misses a top rope elbow, leaving himself open for Cena’s top rope legdrop. Cena motions toward JBL and drops the Five Knuckle Shuffle on Shawn. He tries to follow with an FU but sees it countered by a DDT. Michaels comes off the top with an elbow and warms up the band. Cena slides under the kick and hits the FU, but Michaels manages to kick out at two. He hits Sweet Chin Music but Cena gets his arm up. The fans have to be exhausted now. Cena gets rolled up, but he escapes and locks in the STFU. Michaels strains to reach the ropes, and JBL ever so subtly inches the bottom rope over to help him. Shawn escapes another FU and shoves Cena toward JBL. A moment’s distraction is enough to set up another dose of Sweet Chin Music, and Michaels covers to finally get the win. JBL stands menacingly over Cena as Raw wraps up in entertaining fashion.

Nick Tylwalk wants to throw out an open challenge to all the other wrestling writers out there to have our own Royal Rumble, with the winner getting an all-expense-paid trip to cover WrestleMania 25. If you're up to it, man up and email him at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.