January 27, 2009
Raw: Orton faces the music
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling

Following an eventful Royal Rumble, John Cena is still the World Heavyweight Champion, while Randy Orton is headed to WrestleMania. That is, he’s headed there if he doesn’t get his walking papers tonight for last week’s attack on Vince McMahon. Raw mashes the pedal down toward the biggest show of the year as the scene shifts to Cleveland.

In case anyone still hasn’t seen Orton punting Vince in the head, we take care of that up front with a helpful replay. The live show begins with Orton in the ring alongside the rest of Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase) and some men in suits who look suspiciously like lawyers. That’s exactly who they turn out to be, except for one who is apparently Orton’s therapist. Why does he need one? Randy explains that his actions were caused by Intermittent Explosive Disorder, a condition triggered when Stephanie McMahon slapped him. Not only was he not responsible for his actions, the WWE is actually at fault because it failed to provide help for his condition. As for the lawyers, they are on hand in case Steph tries to fire Orton, as he plans on suing for breach of contract if he is not allowed to exercise the title shot he earned by winning the Rumble match. On top of that, Rhodes and DiBiase have vowed to walk out if their leader is canned. Steph watches backstage as Randy reads a scripted apology to Vince, his family and the fans.

Match 1 – Cryme Tyme vs. John Morrison and The Miz – World Tag Team Title Match

Cryme Tyme earned this shot by beating the champs last week, and things look promising when JTG nails the Mug Shot on Miz. A few minutes later, their prospects look even brighter when Shad counters Morrison’s finisher with his own. Alas, Miz makes the save, and Morrison uses the Moonlight Drive to pin Shad and keep the titles in the hands of the heels.

Jerry Lawler spends a second talking about Vince, who is said to have a concussion and possible neck damage. He goes on to talk about No Way Out, a.k.a. “That pay-per-view between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania” and the return of the dreaded (in theory) Elimination Chamber. No, it’s not a toilet, but a cool round steel cage with a roof and compartments to hold all of your action figures, or actual pro wrestlers as the case may be. JBL interrupts to announce that during tonight’s qualifying matches for the Chamber, Shawn Michaels will be competing on his behalf.

Later tonight will be the world premiere of the trailer for the new Cena movie, 12 Rounds. So we’ve got that going for us.

Match 2 – Kofi Kingston vs. Kane – Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match

A mismatch, you say? It looks like it might be, with Kane delivering almost all of the offense and looking for a chokeslam. But Kingston is able to wiggle free and go up and over for a sunset flip that pins the Big Red Machine, who looks mighty surprised that he lost.

We’re really milking that footage of Orton’s attack on Vince for all it’s worth. Sweet, now viewers who turned in late and missed last week’s show are up to speed.

Chris Jericho comes out and wants to say a few words about The Wrestler. And lo and behold, we get a rare treat: a preview of a good movie! An interview with Mickey Rourke confirms that he has been training with Ric Flair and Roddy Piper to take on Jericho at WrestleMania. Wait, really? Jericho is offended by the very thought of wrestling an actor on the sport’s biggest stage.

Back in the locker room, JBL and Michaels are having the latest in a string of employer-employee chats. Shawn explains that even though he superkicked his boss, he did it to get Cena to lower his guard. After that he did superkick Cena and summon a second referee, so in his mind he did everything he could to help JBL win. An unimpressed JBL wants to fire HBK on the spot, but he gives him one last shot to make good tonight.

A video package takes us from the very first WrestleMania to the build-up to this year’s 25th edition. It was all the brainchild of one man, you know.

Match 3 – Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena – Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match

Here we go again. It’s not like these two ever have bad matches against each other, though this one isn’t quite as exciting as their last encounter. Business picks up when Cena sets up the Five Knuckle Shuffle and Michaels counters with a crossface. Cena powers his way to his feet and drops Michaels into the STF. Shawn crawls his way to the ropes while the ref watches JBL closely, but HBK manages to get to the ropes on his own. Michaels reverses Cena’s currently nameless finisher into a pinning predicament. Shawn is whipped hard into the corner but explodes out with a clothesline, and the champ is flat on his back. JBL yells at Michaels to deliver Sweet Chin Music, but he wants to drop the flying elbow first. Their argument gives Cena time to recover, and he knocks JBL into HBK, who falls hard off the top turnbuckle. Cena takes advantage with the Finisher That Shall Not Be Named and pins Michaels, much to JBL’s chagrin.

The hat trick is complete with a third replay of Orton’s attack on Vince. There’s also a replay of Orton’s apology from the top of the show. Todd Grisham asks Stephanie about possible action, and she says what she’s going to do will be done publicly and to Randy’s face. Hmm…

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

Maybe the tag team titles should just migrate over to the women’s division since the Divas are getting a lot more tag match experience than the men. Santino Marella joins the announcers, who tease him for breaking the record for shortest stint in the Rumble match. Meanwhile, Phoenix takes out some of her frustration over dropping her women’s title by pinning Kelly Kelly after – guess who – Rosa Mendez runs out and drops Melina face-first on the apron.

The walk down memory lane continues with a spotlight on WrestleMania 21. Those movie-themed ads that year were excellent. That was also the site of the first Money in the Bank Ladder Match, which convinced me that Shelton Benjamin was going to be a breakout star. Four years later, I’m still waiting.

Match 5 – Rey Mysterio vs. William Regal – Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match

Neither man has ever competed in any of the previous Elimination Chamber matches. Regal is pinned by a 619 followed by a splash, continuing his recent jobbing streak.

Marella and Mendez compare notes, but an angry looking Glamazon is lurking. Fortunately for Mendez, Phoenix cracks a smile and speaks the words she’s been waiting to hear: “We can keep her.” By the way, Raw reporter-on-sabbatical Dale Plummer has a great idea for where he would take this angle, but the current PG climate of WWE programming won’t allow it. We need the Attitude era back for this one.

The moment we’ve been semi-anxiously awaiting arrives with the premiere of the 12 Rounds trailer. And you know what? This may be damning with faint praise, but it looks like the best WWE Films movie so far. It’s by the director of Die Hard 2 (okay, he also did Deep Blue Sea and Cutthroat Island) but looks like it also borrows a bit from Die Hard with a Vengeance. If you’re going to borrow though, that’s not a bad way to go.

Match 6 – CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho – Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match

These guys are both fun to watch but seem to be just a bit off on their chemistry in this match. Even the finish looks a little disjointed, as an exchange of pinning attempts ends with a slightly off-target Code Breaker that Punk still sells to earn Jericho the win.

The fourth replay of the Randy-Vince punt makes it official: every man, woman, child and pet who watches WWE programming now knows about the attack. I’m not even a little joking.

Now it’s showtime. Stephanie enters the ring, saying Orton is wrong if he thinks she will back down from his threat of lawsuits. Randy looks nervous as he heads down the ramp, flanked by the whole entourage he had with him before. Orton asks if she really wants to go through with firing him, as the rest of Legacy will leave and the star power in the locker room will be crippled. His therapist also gets a speaking role, coming to Randy’s defense. Orton says it’s not only a threat but a promise that he’ll not only sue, but file an injunction that will ensure that WrestleMania will not happen. The entire Raw locker room empties and watches from the stage, which only spurs Orton to launch an even bigger tirade. He tells the assembled wrestlers that he’ll take them all down and take WrestleMania away from all of them, and he literally begs Steph to fire him. But the general manager says firing him would be too easy, and that “we’ve” got bigger plans. Shane McMahon’s music hits and her brother appears with a grim look on his face. Legacy closes ranks with Orton, but Shane sprints through and spears Randy. The numbers game rears its head, but Shane fights off Rhodes and DiBiase and takes Orton down again… and a minute later, the whole cycle repeats again. DiBiase is forced to drag Orton to safety as Shane continues a display of no-selling that would make Hulk Hogan proud, battering Rhodes in the ring. McMahon then tears up the ramp and tackles Orton right before all heck breaks loose and many wrestlers intervene. An enraged Shane beats up a few more wrestlers, demanding to know where Orton has gone, or perhaps where even pro wrestling’s loose sense of logic has gone as Raw fades out.

Nick Tylwalk is a big comic book fan and wants to know if the new, super-powered Shane McMahon would be a better fit for the new roster of the New Avengers or the Mighty Avengers. Send suggestions to ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.


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