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Raw: Triple H and Undertaker get tastes of their own medicine
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


Can you feel it? That’s WrestleMania 25, so close that it’s breathing down your neck. There’s no stopping the superstars on collision courses with each other now, as the fans in Kansas City are about to find out.

It’s not anyone in one of the big matches in Houston, but the Nature Boy, Ric Flair, who comes to the ring to start the show. On behalf of fellow legends Jimmy Snuka, Ricky Steamboat and Roddy Piper, Flair accepts Chris Jericho’s challenge for a handicap match at WrestleMania. Jericho has more to say about that, speaking first on the TitanTron as he makes his way toward the ring. Chris says he knew the legends would accept, because they’re scared they will be forgotten. But Jericho says it’s better to be forgotten than to tarnish your own legacy for one last desperate grab at glory, and he promises a disturbing and uncomfortable beating of Flair’s friends. He predicts Flair will cry while Mickey Rourke will wonder what he’s done. That doesn’t sit well with the Nature Boy, who says the Hall of Famers refused to be judged or told by others when it’s time to let go. He’ll be proud to stand beside his brothers and peers, and he looks forward to inviting Rourke into the ring to look at Jericho’s broken body. Whoo! That little speech earns him a right hand from Jericho, who proceeds to give Flair a little taste of what to expect in less than two weeks. The retired great is beaten bloody, tossed over the announce table and into the steel steps. Jericho rips some of Flair’s clothes off (tossing his shoes into the crowd) and punctuates his point by stomping on Ric’s watch. Eat that, Rolex!

Match 1 – Jeff Hardy vs. Dolph Ziggler – Extreme Rules Match

It’s hard being the designated whipping boy on Raw, but it beats having no job. A steel chair and a trash can both come into play, and poor Dolph ends up on the bad end of a number of weapon-enhanced moves. A Swanton Bomb seals the deal, and Jeff warns his brother Matt that what he witnessed tonight was not extreme – but what he’ll feel at WrestleMania will be.

Footage from All My Children brings us up to speed on the latest developments in the Edge-Vickie Guerrero-Big Show love triangle. Oops, I meant SmackDown. Yeah, definitely SmackDown. Sorry about that.

John Cena isn’t in Kansas City tonight, because he’s set to appear on The Tonight Show to promote some movie I’m sure we’ll be hearing plenty about before this show is over. He does have a personalized “Get Well” card for Vickie Guerrero though, featuring a nice rhyming poem about her trials and tribulations of the past few weeks.

A brief video explains the benefit of winning the Money in the Bank match and how it jump-started the championship success of Edge. We’ll find out soon enough if it does something similar for the 2009 winner.

Match 2 – MVP, CM Punk, Christian and Kofi Kingston vs. Shelton Benjamin, Kane, Finlay and Mark Henry

Speaking of the Money in the Bank crew, they’re all here in this match. It can really only end one way: with a rapid-fire sequence of signature moves. Christian pins Benjamin with the Unprettier, Killswitch, or whatever he’s calling it these days. But Finlay has the last laugh, clearing the ring with a ladder.

Cena’s new movie 12 Rounds opens this Friday. I just thought you may want to know in case it isn’t mentioned again tonight. A video package runs through the highlights of the Triple H-Randy Orton feud. After it’s over, Orton goes live with Todd Grisham to protest the allegations that he’s a coward. He vows to up the ante on the violence tonight and blames Triple H and his family for bringing it on themselves.

Match 3 – Edge vs. Big Show

Chavo Guerrero wheels Vickie out in a wheelchair. Cena appears on screen again to taunt both combatants, questioning their manhood and suggesting that once he regains his title, both of them will have slept with Vickie for nothing. The actual match doesn’t last long, as Show ties Edge’s arms in the ropes, causing Vickie to order Chavo to go help her husband. The ref calls for the bell, and Big Show moves so that Chavo eats a Spear from Edge. A big right hand puts Edge on the canvas.

Match 4 – Rey Mysterio vs. William Regal

I’m glad that the WWE found a way to work Mysterio onto the WrestleMania card – taking on JBL for the Intercontinental Title – because he sounded pretty upset that he had to miss last year’s show with an injury. JBL gives Regal a ride to the ring in his limo and watches the action with the announcers. It matters not, as Mysterio plays a little possum before beating Regal with a 619 and splash, then gets a shot in on JBL for good measure.

The Undertaker gets some rare microphone time in the ring to address the bold and brash behavior of Shawn Michaels. Taker warns HBK that his obsession with ending The Streak has clouded his ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Acknowledging that he has never beaten Michaels one on one, Undertaker also recalls that last time they fought, Shawn spent five years on the shelf recovering. He’s about to go on when Michaels appears on the TitanTron (a recurring theme tonight), standing symbolically in a graveyard. HBK says he’s not intimidated or scared as he lists all of Undertaker’s victims during his undefeated WrestleMania streak. Shawn has an open grave with a tombstone that reads 16-1, and he kicks the stone into the grave. Undefeated streak? Rest in peace!

The final WWE Hall of Fame inductee for 2009 will be announced Tuesday on ECW, and I hope one of the five people watching will email me and let me know who it is. Also, Santino Marella takes the ring with Beth Phoenix and Rosa Mendes to make an interesting announcement. Apparently if he beats Mickie James with one hand tied behind his back, he’ll be allowed to enter the Diva Battle Royal and have a shot at being crowned Miss WrestleMania. Disturbing.

Match 5 – Santino Marella vs. Mickie James

Mickie quickly adds to Santino’s troubles by tying his other hand behind his back too. That doesn’t stop him wrestling or even from trying to go up top. Ultimately, Phoenix’s attempt to lend a hand backfires, and James kicks him in the head to get the pinfall.

In case you missed it a few paragraphs back, 12 Rounds opens this Friday. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler run down the WrestleMania card and talk about 12 Rounds some more. Please, Friday, hurry up and get here.

This may be the easiest Raw report I’ve written in years because so much of the show is taken up by highlight packages. The current one shows the Flair-Jericho confrontation from the top of the show. A fed up Lawler calls out Jericho for next week. Something tells me that’s not going to end well. Hey WWE, I’m available to do color commentary next Monday if needed.

Main Event – Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase vs. Triple H

The numbers game goes against The Game right from the start, so he goes under the ring looking for his sledgehammer. Unfortunately, Cody Rhodes is waiting for him there, meaning it’s now three on one. Legacy drags Triple H back into the ring and handcuffs him to the ropes. Trips still has a little fight in him – I like that. Orton winds up to give The Game a taste of his own sledgehammer, but Stephanie McMahon runs down to the apron, begging him not to do it. That turns out to be a tactical error, as Orton DDTs her off the middle rope. Triple H can only watch in anguish as Randy teases a sledgehammer shot for Steph, then gets down on all fours and kisses her instead. The creepy factor is off the charts. Orton stands just out of HHH’s reach before giving him a hammer shot to the gut. One of the most vicious heel displays in recent memory draws plenty of heat from the K.C. crowd as Raw fades out. See you in seven...

Nick Tylwalk is headed for Houston next week as part of the team covering WrestleMania for SLAM! Wrestling. Get updates on all the goings on (and various other things) by following Nick’s Twitter feed @Nick_Tylwalk.