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Matt Bishop in San Jose: Five hours of tapings fly by
By MATT BISHOP - SLAM! Wrestling





SAN JOSE, Calif. - Another enthusiastic Northern California crowd made it through five hours of WWE programming without blinking an eye during two tapings of Monday Night Raw at HP Pavilion on Monday evening.

The crowd was just as hot for the final match of the night, the Night of Champions Tournament final between Triple H and John Cena, as it was for the first few matches.

But the biggest shock of the night came in the main event of the first Raw, as the crowd potentially made a babyface star out of Mark Henry, who defeated WWE Champion Randy Orton in the back-end of a 3-on-1 gauntlet match.

Facing the hated Orton, the crowd was behind Henry from the start, especially after Jack Swagger got himself intentionally counted out and then shook Orton's hand. Henry feigned the same thing, only to come back and destroy Orton. As he exited, Henry held the crowd in the palm of his hand for, more than likely, the first time in his career.

Sunday at The Bash, Henry did receive some cheers for his power offense, so this doesn't seem totally out of the blue, but for the most part it still is.

Yet during Henry's match with Cody Rhodes in the second taping less than 30 minutes later, the reception was much more lukewarm.

John Cena and The Miz had the match they should've had at Sunday's pay-per-view. In a funny turn of events, the crowd slowly turned on Cena throughout the night. The first time he was shown, it was almost all cheers as he received arguably the loudest pop of the first show. By the end of his match with Triple H later in the night, however, Cena was getting soundly booed during yay/boo punch exchanges.

During the second show, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase played a much larger role than Batista did as guest host, making several matches, including booking his son in what ended up being a good match with Orton.

While it was mainly a young crowd, the fans still recognized DiBiase and gave him a big ovation. Having the fabled Million Dollar Belt over his shoulder certainly didn't hurt, either.

The rematch for the Unified Tag Team Championship that saw Edge and Chris Jericho battle the Colons was a great television match. The two teams met again in the second taping in a non-title affair.

In other action for the second show, MVP held a VIP Lounge with Jack Swagger as his guest and Kofi Kingston faced off against Evan Bourne.

Gail Kim and Alicia Fox, who were both acquired by Raw in the out-of-nowhere trade, made their Raw debuts on the second show.

In matches taped for the next two editions of WWE Superstars, The Brian Kendrick faced Santino Marella and Hornswaggle faced Chavo Guerrero.

For everything The Bash wasn't, this show was. It featured three superb television matches and a few surprises as well.

The crowd also went a long way to making the shows, as it stayed with the two shows and never lost interest, although it was probably easy, as the show let out around 10:30 p.m. local time. For those in the crowd on Eastern time, the eyes were getting a littler heavier as the night wore on, but the wrestlers put on matches and promos that never allowed you to zone out. Every wrestler worked hard, many going multiple times, so it was good to see their efforts appreciated by those in attendance. This taping deserves four thumbs up (two for each show).

RELATED LINKS

  • Raw: Dubious guest host makes Orton run "The Gauntlet"

    Matt Bishop is SLAM! Wrestling's ECW reporter. His vacation to California will next take him to Tuesdayıs MLB game between Detroit and Oakland. You can follow his journey on Twitter at twitter.com/mbish86. He can be reached at bishop20@msu.edu.