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Raw: Hide and seek six days from WrestleMania
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


It must be tough to put together the last show before WrestleMania. You can’t give too much away before the biggest event of the year, yet you have to make one last push to sell it. We’ll see how this one turns out as Raw invades the Big D, Dallas, Texas, just six days out from you know what.

Apparently there’s going to be a funeral for Mr. WrestleMania tonight. My condolences to Mrs. WrestleMania. That must be why that hearse is pulling up in the back. Also we’ll see Big Show and John Cena collide. But first…

Match 1 – 18-Diva Tag Team Match

I’m not even going to try to list all of the ladies in this match. I will send a special welcome back to Gail Kim, who hasn’t been on Raw in quite some time. Only about six of the women actually get into the match, which the faces win. That’s hardly the end of things, though, as Santino Marella appears on stage in a bathrobe. He admits to being foiled in his attempt to compete in the Diva Battle Royal at WrestleMania, but he went over Vickie Guerrero’s head and appealed to WWE President Jack Tunney – which probably involved a medium of some sort. Anyway, since Santino is an equal rights pioneer, he’s determined to prove he has what it takes to be Miss WrestleMania. To that end, he’s going to put on a swimsuit exhibition featuring… get ready… the mankini! After several minutes of disturbing gyrations that will haunt my sleep for a while, the real Divas have enough and toss him out of the ring.

The first of what promises to be many video recap packages shows us Randy Orton getting one up on Triple H last week on Raw.

Match 2 – Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Chris Jericho

It’s amazing that Lawler still throws better looking punches at his age than most of the younger guys working today. Sadly that’s the only offense he’s allowed to have, and once he’s in the Walls of Jericho, he quickly taps out. He’s ready to fight again as Jericho leaves, but Chris says he won’t be lured back in after he’s already won. Jericho says there’s no doubt he’ll win his match against three WWE legends on Sunday, but he hasn’t decided yet if he will prolong the agony or beat them quickly. Either way, he promises to eradicate them from the business forever. And it will all be Mickey Rourke’s fault for making a challenge he refused to back up.

The WWE is still pimping 12 Rounds. It needs pimping too, as it didn’t do too well out of the gate.

Todd Grisham wants a word with Cena, but Edge interrupts before the first question is answered. Noting that their common opponent at WrestleMania is almost 500 pounds, the Rated R Superstar proposes an alliance to eliminate Big Show before settling things between themselves. Cena admits that the plan makes perfect sense, that it’s intelligent and logical. He doesn’t care though, as he doesn’t like or trust Edge, and he’d rather lose on his own than win with the champ’s help.

Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase of Legacy appear on screen to give a hint about what Orton might talk about in his “WrestleMania address” later tonight. Details are scarce, but DiBiase promises it could affect everyone in the WWE Universe and change everything we know about the WWE forever. Sounds like the hype behind a big comic book event.

A coffin is unloaded from the back of the hearse, and Shawn Michaels pops out of it. He says something but we can’t hear what it is. After a commercial, a replay reveals that HBK’s line was, “You were expecting someone else?” We also learn that Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls will be at WrestleMania. I guess that counts as a celebrity. A defeated Lawler rejoins Michael Cole at the announce table.

Next up is a WrestleMania preview match between Rey Mysterio and JBL. The big Texan continues to promise something historic on Sunday, but says tonight he’ll give Rey a little taste of what’s going to happen to him in a few nights.

Match 3 – Rey Mysterio vs. JBL

JBL is in good shape early, but Mysterio rallies after a commercial break. A quick 619 and splash finish off a dazed JBL.

A short recap shows Cena on last week’s episode of SmackDown. It’s nothing too extraordinary. Then our WrestleMania Moment focuses on WrestleMania XI, a.k.a. the invasion of the football players. Lawrence Taylor is currently following Floyd Mayweather’s example by taking his act to Dancing With the Stars. Yes, folks, there’s a WrestleMania-Dancing With the Stars pipeline, just like you always knew was going to happen.

Match 4 – John Cena vs. Big Show

Show tosses Cena around like a rag doll in the opening minutes and easily repulses a jumping shoulder. He misses a splash in the corner, but Cena finds his tree trunk-like legs too difficult to entangle in the STF. Show is still in charge after a commercial, battering Cena’s back. Cena finally counters a chokeslam with a DDT to grab some momentum. He still can’t get the STF applied, and now he can’t pull off the Attitude Adjustment either. Show can hit a chokeslam, and does so to get the pin. Edge takes advantage by sneaking in and beating up on Cena, and Show doesn’t have much motivation to do anything but watch.

Another recap catches us up on the hijinks between Michaels and Undertaker on SmackDown. Back in real time, Michaels has the ring set up for the mock funeral, complete with coffin. He boasts about how he’s been able to do and say whatever he wants to Undertaker without the slightest fear of consequence or retribution. HBK is also a little insulted that Undertaker doesn’t think Shawn can break The Streak, but he promises that everything that’s happened over the last 24 years will pale in comparison to what he’s going to achieve on Sunday. Uh-oh – the lights go out and the bell tolls. Undertaker appears in the ring, but Shawn is nowhere in sight. Enraged, the Dead Man tears apart the funeral set and even looks in the coffin. Still no Shawn. Just as ‘Taker turns his back, HBK pops out from under the table that was holding the coffin (which had convenient skirting all the way around). He levels his rival with Sweet Chin Music and gives a series of crotch chops. Michaels has been a step ahead during most of this feud, which leads me to believe he’s heading for a loss this weekend.

A short video hypes the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2009, and Cole and Lawler run down the mania card. Go to WWE.com and order it now. Oh, and seats are still available at Reliant Field.

Match 5 - Match 5 - CM Punk, Kane, Christian, Finlay, Shelton Benjamin, Kofi Kingston, MVP and Mark Henry - Eight-Man Battle Royal

In case you missed it, these are the eight men who will compete in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. This is a standard over-the-top-rope affair, and Finlay and Henry are quickly eliminated. Benjamin and MVP end up fighting each other on the apron and are both knocked to the floor by Kane. Kingston is tossed out by his friend Punk, who ends up going over a few seconds later. Punk skins the cat to stay alive, but Kane picks up Christian and throws him at Punk, resulting in both men hitting the floor. Kane grabs a ladder and climbs up to retrieve the briefcase hanging there, sending a symbolic message to the other seven men.

Legacy and some security guards summon Orton from his dressing room. Dig those new Legacy shirts. And Kid Rock will be performing at WrestleMania too. I guess the celebrities just waited until the last second to commit this year.

Orton comes to the ring to say his piece. As it turns out, he’s been holding a grudge against Triple H since the Evolution days, when The Game turned on him right after he won his first championship. But Randy says he had to wait until he could form a group of his own and until Triple H found something he loved more than the WWE Championship – in this case, his wife Stephanie and the McMahons. He earned the right to face Triple H at WrestleMania by winning the Royal Rumble, but that wasn’t enough. Orton wanted to raise the stakes even higher, so he decided to go after his family. And by the way, Randy knew what he was doing the entire time, admitting that his IED was a ruse. He was even okay when Triple H retaliated, because he knew it would lead to overconfidence and give him the opening to do what he did last week. Now when they lock up at WrestleMania, HHH will be looking in the eyes of the man who DDTed his wife and sealed it with a kiss. Covering all the bases, Orton says he got Vickie Guerrero to agree that the title would change hands on a DQ or count out to prevent the sledgehammer from becoming a factor. He figures he’s taken everything from his foe except the title, and that will come Sunday. When Orton is champion, it will change the balance of power in the WWE forever, as young wrestlers compete to earn Orton’s attention and the right to stand by his side. In response, a limo pulls up, but the camera swings around to reveal that the passenger is already gone. Orton begs Triple H to come to the ring and throws up a barrier of security guards while his Legacy mates join him in the ring. Entrance music hits, but it’s not Triple H’s… it’s Vince McMahon’s. The Chairman of the Board looks ready for a fight, and he’s soon joined by son Shane. The McMahons pause dramatically before The Game makes his entrance. The Fightin’ McMahons stride to the ring, easily dispensing with the security guards. Legacy meets them on the floor to a huge reaction from the crowd. Triple H and Orton stay locked in battle all the way into the ring, and the pier six brawl is still going strong as Raw fades out. Now that’s a proper ending to the last Monday night before WrestleMania. See you in Houston!

Nick Tylwalk is happy to hand the Monday night reins back to his good friend Dale Plummer now that Dale’s much deserved sabbatical has come to an end. Nick is also looking forward to covering his second straight WrestleMania as part of SLAM! Wrestling’s three-man team on the ground in Houston. Look for stories all weekend and get running updates by following Nick’s Twitter feed @Nick_Tylwalk.