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Raw: Triple H, HBK and Undertaker have a pre-WrestleMania summit in Philly
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


It's the end of an era tonight in Philadelphia. No, the Eagles aren't being awarded a Super Bowl title to end their long run of futility. Rather, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker will all meet and discuss where they may retire together. Let’s hope it’s actually something a little more interesting than that as Raw invades the City of Brotherly Love, live on USA.

CM Punk tells everyone right off the bat that Chris Jericho is not here tonight, something he calls a gift. Last week, Jericho told the world that Punk's father was an alcoholic, which is none of his business, and certainly not something he should have been telling the entire world. Punk believes Jericho was talking about it just to get a mental edge heading into WrestleMania, but the WWE Champion says it's going to backfire. He goes on to say that Jericho didn't finish the story, because Punk's dad worked hard to overcome his addictions, the same way Punk will make sure he overcomes the obstacle that is Jericho. Speaking of Chris, he appears live via satellite to... apologize? Jericho seems to break character while apologizing. He won't talk about Punk's dad on the show ever again, but Punk's sister, well, that's a different story! Jericho smirks as he calls CM's sister a drug addict and tells the champ it's his destiny to drink someday. But while substance abuse problems can be overcome, a loss at WrestleMania can't be overcome. Punk says something that the censors don't like (#dontfineusfcc) and angrily storms up the ramp.

Match 1 – Kane vs. Big Show

Cody Rhodes joins the announcers, but not before the video package running down all of Show's embarrassing WrestleMania moments is shown. Rhodes makes his presence felt early, causing a distraction that leaves Show helpless for a choke slam off the ropes. Kane gets a quick win, and Rhodes handcuffs Show to the ropes so he can go to work on him with a pair of boxing gloves. Perhaps not the smartest tactical move on Cody's part, but you want more heat for their WrestleMania match? Done.

Match 2 – David Otunga (w/ John Laurinaitis) vs. Santino Marella (w/ Teddy Long)

Consider this a preview of sorts of the battle between the two general managers' teams at WrestleMania that will decide who controls both Raw and SmackDown. Santino can't keep up with Otunga during the pre-match posing contest, so he takes out some frustration on Laurinaitis' beloved smartphone. Otunga takes advantage to win the match, but Long has enough of Johnny Ace's post-bell gloating. Teddy smacks his opposite number in the face and retreats to the safety of the ramp.

Cool tattoos bro. Lord Tensai is coming, and he is inked up if nothing else.

The Rock has more prerecorded goodness for us. He calls Philly “the city of ass-kickers” and shows a picture of himself at 12 years old posing in front of the Rocky statue. The Great One talks about headlining WrestleMania for the first time in Philadelphia, when he got pinned by Stone Cold Steve Austin. Of course, The Rock went on to defeat Austin and Hulk Hogan, but he still needs to beat John Cena to seal up his status as the greatest of all time. He vows to drive down Broad Street to the Wells Fargo Center to send Cena a message, and if that doesn't work, he'll take a Pat's cheesesteak and shove it somewhere to make his point even more clear. The Rock continues to run through all of his catchphrases and those of a bunch of other WWE Superstars.

Oh yeah, Hunger Games baby! Uh, I mean, how about that new Avengers Japanese trailer? Yeah, of course that's what I meant.

Match 3 – Daniel Bryan (w/ A.J.) vs. Zack Ryder

Zack apparently held a rally in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot to gain support to be part of Team Teddy in Miami. Bryan gets a good luck kiss and the match gets underway. Ryder has his moments early on, but he finds himself in the LeBell Lock and quickly taps out.

Flo Rida is going to perform at WrestleMania. File that in the “Least Surprising News Ever” folder. Hint: Look at his name carefully...

Match 4 – John Cena vs. Mark Henry

Henry is able to overpower Cena in the opening minutes of the match, much to the delight of some fans and the dismay of others. You know, business as usual for Cena. The World's Strongest Man throws Cena into the retaining wall before we break for some advertisements. Naturally, Cena rallies to hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle and even gets the big man up for an Attitude Adjustment. Sounds like more cheers than boos as he pins Henry, but The Rock is out quickly to rain on his parade. Poor Henry gets a Rock Bottom, which one supposes is the message The Rock promised to send. Cena points at the WrestleMania sign and signals that there are only two weeks until they will face off.

Eve Torres, Kelly Kelly and Beth Phoenix got into it on the set of Extra, leading to a WrestleMania match that will also include Maria Menounos. But wait, is she going to be eliminated from Dancing With the Stars by then? Meanwhile, The Miz whines about still not having a match in Miami. He does have a match in Philly though...

Match 5 – The Miz vs. Sheamus

Miz is able to ground Sheamus for a spell, but that ends with him eating some boot leather in the corner and getting slammed hard to the mat. Sheamus misses his first Brogue Kick but not a second, and Miz loses yet another match. Hey man, there's usually a dark match before the televised portion of WrestleMania kicks off. That's a good way to follow up being in one of the main events last year, right?

Randy Orton joins Josh Mathews for some rhetorical questions. How does Orton plan on beating the monster? Orton turns it around and asks how Kane plans on beating him. He doesn't have any spooky nicknames, but Orton doesn't need them to beat Kane again.

Match 6 – Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger vs. R-Truth and Kofi Kingston

Ziggler and Swagger are now officially part of Team Johnny, for what that's worth. Everyone gets a chance to show their stuff in this one, the longest match of the night. With Swagger and Kingston on the outside, Ziggler goes for the pin on Truth. He gets his leg on the ropes, but Vickie Guerrero knocks it off, and the ref counts to three. Aksana takes exception to that, and the two women end up fighting both in and out of the ring. The wrestlers have to intervene to pull the females off each other.

Michaels hits the ring to his familiar theme music and takes a moment or two to applaud the fans. HBK states the obvious when he talks about stealing the show at WrestleMania year after year, and he thinks it's pretty cool that even though he's retired, he holds the end of an era in the palm of his hand by refereeing the Undertaker-Triple H match. He brushes off the question about whether or not he can be an impartial official and starts to address the Undertaker. The lights go out and the bell tolls, meaning the Dead Man is on his way out. He's about to start in on Shawn when Triple H joins the party as well. Hunter tells the Phenom to stop worrying about HBK and focus on what they are about to go through. There have been 24 previous Hell in a Cell Matches in WWE history, and either HHH or 'Taker has been in 19 of them. Trips says that's not a coincidence, because the Cell is where he thrives. But all of that was to prepare him for this upcoming match on April 1, when the whole world will see the end of an era. The Undertaker's era, that is. But 'Taker isn't sure his foe truly understands everything he'll have to put on the line to end The Streak. Triple H claims he's prepared to risk everything, and he will. The Undertaker pauses to consider what he's just heard, then asks if Triple H remembers when he said Michaels was better than The Game. The Dead Man simply says “He is,” then walks away as HBK smirks and Triple H stews. See you in seven for the last show before WrestleMania!

Nick Tylwalk is bummed that he won’t be going to Miami in two weeks but takes heart in the fact that as long as the Mayans are wrong about December 21, next year’s WrestleMania is within driving distance of his Pennsylvania home. Offer words of encouragement via Twitter, Google+ or email.