February 17, 2009
Raw: WrestleMania feuds take shape in Spokane
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling

Raw has a new World Heavyweight Champion, and it’s not even someone who’s on the show’s roster. Intrigued? More details await and the pieces of WrestleMania begin to slide into place tonight in Spokane, Washington.

The fans boo lustily as Smackdown general manager Vickie Guerrero expresses her pleasure in introducing the new World Heavyweight Champion, her husband, Edge. Gloating about his success at No Way Out, Edge says the ‘R’ in Rated R Superstar could stand for remarkable, resplendent or really, really smart. He also tells the fans that they were all wrong when they called him a loser after bowing out of the first Elimination Chamber match, and he even goes around the front row telling some of them personally. Guerrero explains that Edge’s win was legitimate, because when Stephanie McMahon escorted her brother Shane to the hospital, she became the ranking official. Needing a replacement for Kofi Kingston, she was forced to make an executive decision and chose Edge. She says the fans may not like it, but they have to accept it. Another person who may not like it is former champ John Cena, who comes to the ring to interrupt the couple’s celebratory nuzzling. Cena actually admits that Edge won the title fair and square, but he thinks the ‘R’ may stand for really, really lucky, right place, right time, or his personal favorite: rematch. Edge immediately protests, citing his participation in two Elimination Chamber matches and saying he may not defend his title for a week or a month. That doesn’t bother Cena, who tells Edge to say hi to Festus and Funaki and do whatever it is that Edge and Vickie do. The new champ reminds Cena of some of their past history together but is left with this message: if you run, I’ll find you, if you run, I’ll catch you, and when we fight, I’m going to hurt you.

Could a Wolverine-like healing factor be another one of Shane McMahon’s super powers? Looking none the worse for wear after his ordeal the night before, Shane challenges Randy Orton to meet him in the ring for an unsanctioned fight with no refs and no Legacy. One way or another, their feud will end tonight, and it will only end when one man isn’t moving.

Match 1 – Cryme Tyme and CM Punk vs. William Regal, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase

Rhodes is the victim of an early GTS, forcing the heels to pull him out of the ring before a commercial break. Punk ends up working the majority of the match, finally tagging out to JTG when things turn against him. A chaotic ending sees DiBiase win the match with his finisher, now dubbed Dream Street.

Steph dresses down Shane for challenging Orton tonight. Shane reminds his sister that Randy is just as beaten up, plus he doesn’t have a mutant healing factor. I made that last part up. In any case, Shane ignores his sister’s suggestion that he wait another week, insisting that the fight will take place tonight.

Either my can of Amp is causing me to hallucinate or the “Did You Know?” presented a relevant stat. The WWE has had the best selling DVD in the Sports category for 33 straight weeks. That actually is impressive.

Chris Jericho gets some mic time in the ring, and he uses it to tell the Academy Award voters not to vote for Mickey Rourke. After all, if he’s rewarded for his role in The Wrestler, it will send the wrong message to all of the legends that hang on just for one last pathetic shot at glory. His continuing rants are answered by one of those very legends, Rowdy Roddy Piper. The Hot Rod climbs in the ring and tells Jericho he used to be a fan because Chris would shoot from the hip and then get in the ring to back it up. It reminded Piper of someone else from years ago. But he no longer finds Jericho entertaining and doesn’t like hearing his friend Rourke get called out. Piper explains that The Wrestler is really about respect and sacrificing to perform for the fans, and he says that even though he only has one hip and hurts all the time, he’d crawl down the ramp on his hands and knees if the fans wanted it. In his mind, old school’s cool. You hear that kids? Jericho is having none of it, decking Piper and putting the boots to him. The fans aren’t real happy about that.

Todd Grisham catches up with Orton, who has no problem with fighting Shane tonight. He does have a problem with the insinuation that he needs Rhodes and DiBiase to do his dirty work. If Shane wants the fight to end when someone isn’t moving, Randy promises he can arrange that.

Tonight’s WrestleMania Moment journeys back to WrestleMania IX. One word: togas! Also Bret Hart softens up Yokozuna so Hulk Hogan can win the title. Thanks Bret!

Jamie Noble wants a WrestleMania moment of his own, and I’m guessing he’s not talking about being one of the random people standing around backstage when one of the big stars is on his way out. He knows he’d last longer than Chavo Guerrero did last year, losing to Kane in eight seconds. Hey, speaking of Kane…

Match 2 – Jamie Noble vs. Kane

Well, 16 seconds is longer than eight seconds. Kane catches Noble in mid-air and chokeslams him for the pin. ‘Nuff said.

The WWE may want to consider offering a developmental contract to Pitt forward DeJuan Blair, who pulled off a pretty sweet move on Connecticut’s Hasheem Thabeet tonight. Meanwhile, JBL makes his way out to speak, He says that Shawn Michaels is no longer his employee and has been given enough money to be financially stable. Not that it matters to him, because he is still richer than all of the fans combined. JBL is disappointed about not having a chance to go to WrestleMania 25 in his home state as the champion, but he had an epiphany and realized he’s destined for something even bigger: ending "The Streak." He goes on to talk about his vision of defeating the Undertaker, but he’s interrupted by Michaels, who looks like his old self again. HBK says he had his own epiphany and knows he’s back to his old form. Since JBL can’t tell him what to do any more, Shawn thinks he should be the one to try to take down ‘Taker. JBL protests, so Michaels proposes a match next week with the winner earning the right to challenge the Dead Man. JBL accepts, but Michaels warns him that things will be different this time, and he’ll be lucky to even make it to WrestleMania.

A lengthy video package plays that recaps the Orton-Shane McMahon saga. I have to admit I love these because they make my job a little easier.

Match 3 – Rey Mysterio vs. Mike Knox

I also have to admit that I would be alright if this feud ended. Mysterio is back to a full mask after wearing a half mask for a while. Perhaps he’s like Dr. Fate and is more powerful when sporting the full version. Knox dominates early, but Rey absorbs the beating and rallies with a 619. A springboard moonsault follows, though Knox catches Mysterio and hangs him in the tree of woe. Knox charges into the corner, but Mysterio moves and the big man slams hard into the ringpost. Rey uses a roll-up to pin the much larger man. You know, like he’s done numerous times before.

Beth Phoenix is on her way out for a Women’s Title rematch, flanked by boyfriend Santino Marella and intern Rosa Mendes. Santino chopped off the mullet and shaved some of the uni-brow. Also, we learn that 100 million Diva photos were viewed on WWE.com in January alone. Smart money says that Jerry Lawler and SLAM! Wrestling Raw reporter Dale Plummer (whose sabbatical is now at four and a half months and counting) were responsible for a good chunk of those.

Match 4 – Melina vs. Beth Phoenix – WWE Women’s Title Match

Naturally, Rosa and Santino try to get involved. What they don’t count on is Mickie James, Kelly Kelly and Candice Michelle evening the odds. Melina rolls up Beth somewhat awkwardly, but it’s enough to retain her belt.

As internet-savvy fans already know, Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr. are announced as 2009 inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame, with their induction to be handled by Dusty Rhodes. That announcement is followed by a replay of the Edge-Cena confrontation from the top of the show.

Stephanie implores someone she’s talking to on the phone to hurry up and get there to talk Shane out of going through with the fight. Much to her chagrin, the call is dropped. Where are those Verizon network guys when you need them?

Main Event – Shane McMahon vs. Randy Orton – Unsanctioned Fight

I’m not sure why Orton bothers getting into his wrestling trunks for an unsanctioned fight, but whatever. Maybe he just likes the freedom of movement his Speedo gives him. The scrap immediately goes over the wall and through the crowd, reminiscent of the Attitude era when that would happen nearly every week. McMahon bashes a water bottle off Orton’s face and lands plenty of punches, but Randy eventually moves the fight back toward the ring. They fight over the announce table, where Shane uses a chair and the ring bell to do some damage. He drags Orton into the ring and sets him up for the Coast to Coast with a chair. Before he can make the leap, Rhodes and DiBiase run in and immediately start putting the boots to him. Rhodes delivers the Cross Rhodes and I think we all know what’s coming next. Orton sets Shane up and scores with the running punt to the head. Stephanie gets there too late to save her brother, but she becomes the next victim as Orton drops her with an RKO. Medical attention arrives for the McMahon siblings as Legacy retreats, but someone else also arrives to check on his fallen wife: Triple H. And he’s looking very, very angry. Uh-oh Randy.

See you in seven…

Nick Tylwalk thinks it’s sad that Melina got three people to come to her aid but Shane McMahon couldn’t muster any back-up to protect him against Legacy. E-mail Nick at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com or get his running thoughts on Raw every Monday night by following his Twitter feed @Nick_Tylwalk.


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