Written by: Justin Rozzero
Monday Night Raw 1/7/08
Mohegan Sun Casino
Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
– We open with a recap package of last week’s show long angle of Ric Flair fighting for his career, including highlights of the fantastic main event match. We cut directly backstage where William Regal is pacing. Mr. McMahon walks in and he tells Regal that they can’t talk now and he says that this is the first Raw of 2008 and the fans want something special. He says it is a very special night because it is Raw roulette. He runs down the various options and says it will be a great start to the New Year. Regal says he attempted to redeem himself for not hitting Hornswoggle by costing Triple H his slot in the Rumble. Vince agrees and says it would be even better if Hunter got injured tonight…and it could happen as he faces Regal here tonight. Vince then spins the wheel and we find out that Regal and Hunter will face off in a First Blood match right here tonight. Regal walks out of the office and is immediately jumped by Hunter, who pounces on Regal and stays on him until the referees can pull him off. We then hit our opening animation and then head out of the New England cold and inside the warm and friendly confines of the Mohegan Sun Arena where we are live! Chief Jay Strongbow, Tatanka, Wahoo McDaniel, Charlie Norris and old Asian women smile proudly as JR welcomes us to the first Raw of 2008. We start off with a bang as HBK himself joins us right out of the gate.
1) Shawn Michaels & Mr. Kennedy defeat Charlie Haas & Trevor Murdoch in a Strange Bedfellows match when Kennedy pins Haas after Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music
The crowd is smoking hot for the Heartbreak Kid and Shawn seems pretty fired up himself as he heads to the ring. JR and King recap Michaels’ loss to Kennedy last week and they finally give Kennedy’s Flatliner a name: the Mike Check. And it looks like we will have the rubber match between these two here tonight as Michaels won the first match at Armageddon and Kennedy evened the score last week. Kennedy is about to introduce himself, but Mr. McMahon appears on the Titantron and spins the wheel and the match option is a Strange Bedfellows match. Vince tells us that means Kennedy and Michaels will be forced to team up against another team that has never teamed up and we will find out their opponents after the break. When we return the match is in progress as Kennedy has an armbar on Charlie Haas. Kennedy slugs away at Haas, but Michaels tags himself in as Kennedy hits the ropes. Michaels comes in and throws Kennedy out of the ring and then tosses Haas out too. Haas crawls under the ring and comes out with a Luchador mask on. He then leans over the commentary table and says “Now, it’s time!” Haas gets back in the ring and hits a flying forearm and then hits a superhero pose as Murdoch clotheslines Michaels from behind. Trevor tags in and hits a big boot to the face for 1. Trevor tags Haas back in and he heads up top. He poses and then jumps off, lands on his feet and drops an elbow for 1. Michaels goes for the tag, but Kennedy pulls a Sid and drops down off the apron. Shawn is able to dodge Haas and pulls his mask off. Michaels hits the flying forearm and kips up. He follows with a reverse atomic drop and scoop slam and then heads up top and comes off with the big elbow. He drills Murdoch with Sweet Chin Music, knocking him to the floor. Shawn tunes up the band for Haas, but Kennedy distracts Michaels. Shawn regroups and hits the ropes, but Kennedy tags himself in. Michaels then hits the SCM, but Kennedy jumps in, hits the Mike Check on Michaels and then pins Haas. Kennedy taunts a prone Michaels and then storms off backstage. That was a decent enough tag match but it was pretty choppy and only existed to grow the tension between Michaels and Kennedy and also allow Haas to debut his new gimmick. JR reminds us of the First Blood match later tonight and works in a “Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal” reference as we head to break. Grade: 2
– We return from break and take a look at the Wolf’s Den as well as a poker dealer and then head back into the arena. Lillian lets us know that the next match is a Trading Places match, where the opponents must dress as each other.
2) Hardcore Holly defeats Carlito with the Alabama Slam in a Trading Places match
Carlito heads to the ring decked out as Holly and is seconded by Santino Marella. Holly comes out next and he is rocking a giant afro and Carlito shirt and is accompanied by Cody Rhodes. Holly actually looks like is in a good mood for once. Holly takes the fro off so he can get the shirt off, but then puts it back on to start the match. The bell rings and Carlito starts off on the offensive, beating down Holly in the corner. The afro comes off right away and Carlito stomps away and then hits a nice suplex for 2. Carlito whips Holly into the corner and then hits a back suplex for another near fall. Carlito locks in a surfboard submission as JR lets us know that Holly qualified for the Royal Rumble at a live event this weekend. Carlito hits a stiff chop and then calls for another one, ala Holly, but Hardcore ducks and hits chops of his own. He shoots Carlito in and hits an elbow and then whips him in again and back body drops him. Holly lands a dropkick, but Santino climbs up top to distract the referee. Cody hands Holly the apple and Holly spits it at Carlito and then drills him with the Alabama Slam for the win. Holly puts the fro back on and celebrates his big win. Grade: 2
– We cut backstage where Mr. McMahon is talking with Maria. Vince tells her she gets to spin the wheel and determine what kind of match the Divas will compete in tonight. It lands on Submission match, but Vince tells her to close her eyes and envision a lovely date with Santino. He of course turns the wheel back to Lingerie Pillow fight as narrates the date. He tells Maria to open her eyes and she will see a Lingerie Pillow fight. He explains the rules and tells her she can’t put any foreign objects in the pillows, but Maria says her pillows are all natural. Vince wishes her luck and walks off as we walk off to break.
– We return from break and take a look at Randy Orton’s showdown with Jeff Hardy from last week, including the beatdown on Matt Hardy. We head backstage where the Grish welcomes in a somber looking Jeff Hardy. He says Matt isn’t good and that he spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital with Matt. He talks about his relationship with Matt and tells Orton that will take the title and take him out as well. Jeff showed some nice fire there. We head back to the arena and JR and King tell us that Hardy will have to face Umaga in a steel cage match tonight. We cut back to Vince’s office where Little Mac is spinning the wheel and running in circles around it. Vince is talking to his son, but the audio is screwed up and I can’t really make out what he is saying. Hornswoggle looks excited though as Vince talks. Finally, we cut out and JR apologized for the technical issues and we head to break.
– We are back from break and they replay the Vince/Hornswoggle segment for us. Vince says he wouldn’t allow Regal to strike him and it was just a test. Vince asks his son who won the Rumble in 1999 and he points at his dad. Vince says a McMahon could win again this year if Hornswoggle qualifies tonight. He can team up with anybody on the roster and if they win, they will be in the Rumble. He doesn’t say who the opponents are. Hornswoggle runs off and Vince proclaims “That’s my boy!!”
3) Ashley defeats Melina, Maria, Mickie James & Jillian Hall in a Lingerie Pillow Fight when she pins Jillian after a top rope elbowdrop
The bed is in the ring and I hope they cleaned the comforter after the Edge & Lita live sex celebration. Melina is out first with some interesting lingerie on. Jillian is out next to her brand new theme song, which she sings. Maria is out to give us some good medicine and she is just so ridiculously hot at this point, I can’t cope. Mickie is out and she tries her best to top Maria and at least ties the game up. And we get a surprise entrant as Ashley Massaro makes her big return to Raw. I’m not even going to try and recap this as I focus intently on the action. They all take turns hitting each other with pillows as Lawler makes a strong case for some jail time. The crowd has completely died, but whatever as this is the match of the night. Maria hits the Bronco Buster on Jillian and Ashley catches a huge kick which may have knocked her silly. Mickie Powerbombs Melina on the bed and all hell breaks lose. The action is fast and furious here…and the match is pretty entertaining too. Ashley hits an elbow off the top on to Jillian on the bed and she picks up the win. The girls all celebrate on the bed like it is some sort of bizarre internet fan-fic and then we head to break. Grade: 5
– WWE HD starts in two weeks with Monday Night Raw on USAHD.
– We are back and take a look at some more of the interior of the casino and then head backstage where Hornswoggle is trying to convince Super Crazy to team with him. “I am super…but I am not that crazy!” is his retort, but Little Mac and then spots someone else and runs off as head back to the ring.
4) Triple H defeats William Regal in a First Blood match
Regal makes his way out and his robe and hair are just fantastic beyond words at this point. Hunter heads out next to a huge pop from the Connecticut faithful. JR talks about how weird it will be to have a Rumble match without Triple H, but he hasn’t really been in that many, all things considered. Hunter hits all his poses as JR and King pump up the stipulation. The music finally shuts off and Regal climbs into the ring. The bell sounds and we are off and running. Regal charges and the two men trade fists. Regal scampers outside, but HHH follows and slugs away at Regal, knocking him to the mat. He runs the GM into the commentary table and continues to pound away. He drives Regal’s head into the corner of the ring steps and then tries to drop them on Regal, but William dodges the object. Regal tries to knee Hunter’s head into the ring post, but misses and is now limping a bit. Both men roll in and Regal takes him over with a belly to belly suplex. Regal uncovers the turnbuckle and then slugs away at Hunter before running his head into the exposed steel. Regal just punches away at the Game’s head and then drops a knee as he tries to bust him open. Hunter fires back and hits a couple of punches and then runs Regal into the steel buckle. Regal shoots Hunter in, but gets hit with a facebuster. He goes for the Pedigree, but Regal slips out and is able to slingshot Hunter into the corner. He measures HHH and hits a running kick to the face as the crowd is just all over Regal here. JR plays up Regal’s street fighting past as Lawler says he is feeding off the crowd. William heads outside and grabs the brass knucks, but as he gets back in the ring, Hunter lands a Spinebuster. HHH pounds away at Regal’s head trying to bust him open, and he succeeds in opening him up with his bare hands and wins the match in the process. Hunter drops a knee and then Pedigrees Regal to a huge pop after the bell. Man that was a great brawl and I wish it went another ten minutes. That was a sick ending as Hunter just busted him open hardway and they did a great job building the match around simple spots. Hunter celebrates as we head off to break. Grade: 3
– We are back and Little Mac is asking Santino to be his tag partner. Santino says they could get Count Chocula and make a six-man team. He says he may as well get in the ring with Britney, because he would have to be insane to risk his Rumble spot. He also says he doesn’t want to piss off Vince and adds in that little people creep him out. Hornswoggle is dejected and we head back to ringside where JR and Lawler recap the Jericho/JBL feud and send us to a video package on everything that has gone down between the two over the past few weeks. JR lets us know that the two will face off at the Royal Rumble.
5) Chris Jericho defeats Snitsky & John Bradshaw Layfield by disqualification in a Handicap Match after JBL uses the ring bell
Jericho is starting to grow the beard back in, which makes him look a lot better. We see Vince spinning the wheel as JR teases our options and we go to break. We return and the timekeeper informs Lillian that we will have a handicap match and introduces Jericho’s opponents. JR lets us know that Snitsky qualified for the Royal Rumble over the weekend. JBL is driven out to the Judgment Day 2006. The bell rings and Snitsky starts things off by attacking Jericho, but he fights Snitsky off and hits a forearm. Snitsky is able to hit a clothesline and then stomps away at Chris. Snitsky goes for the big boot, but Jericho ducks and then springboard dropkicks him to the floor. JBL charges in and attacks Jericho and both men end up on the floor. Jericho dominates, but JBL is able to grab the ring bell and he pastes Jericho with it. The ref calls for the DQ, but JBL shoves him down. He chokes Jericho out with a cable and then drags him around by it. He picks Jericho up and snap mares him with the cable and then drags him around the outside of the ring some more. He yanks Jericho up and then pulls him in by the cord and hits the Clothesline from Hell. He drags Jericho all the way up the aisle and then picks him up and punches him in the face before ramming his head into the steel barricade. JBL keeps choking and dragging him with the cable, stopping only to kick him in the head. JBL scales the lighting rig and loops the cable through the structure and then pulls it tight. The refs push JBL off before he can hang Jericho any higher and the crowd is pretty hot as we go to break. That was a good and very different beatdown and adds some more heat to an already hot feud. Grade: 2
– We return from commercial and recap our last segment. JR and Lawler are quite indignant about JBL’s beating and then Lawler tells us who qualified for the Rumble so far by showing us WWE.com.
6) Hornswoggle & Mick Foley defeat Highlanders to qualify for the Royal Rumble when Hornswoggle pins Robbie with the Tadpole Splash
Hornswoggle heads out with an unknown jobber, B.K. Jordan, who looks like he was found in an AIDS hospice. Hornswoggle’s chances don’t look too good here tonight. However, before the match even starts, we get the sound of screeching tires and Mick Foley hits the ring to team up with Little Mac. Jordan looks quite sad, but Mick ushers him from the ring. Foley and Robbie start things off and they trade right hands, with Mick eventually gaining control and getting a 2. Hornswoggle tags in and stomps Robbie’s foot and then hits a dropkick. Rory tags in, but Hornswoggle dodges him and tags Foley in. Foley pounds Rory to the mat in the corner and then hits the running knee. He lands a knee lift, but is distracted by Robbie, which allows Rory to attack from behind. Robbie tags back in and they double team Foley in the corner. Foley eventually fights back and pulls out Mr. Socko, which he locks on Rory. Foley tosses Rory out of the ring and hits a double arm DDT on Robbie. He tags in Hornswoggle, and he heads up top and hits the Tadpole Splash for the big pop and win. Foley and Hornswoggle are headed to Madison Square Garden. They celebrate their win and then the cage starts to lower for our main event as we head to break. Grade: 1.5
7) Jeff Hardy defeats Umaga with the Whisper in the Wind in a steel cage match
Jeff is out to a big pop as always as he continues the push of a lifetime. I can’t decide if it helps or hurts that he is still the I-C title. I guess it seems like the old days where the I-C champ is the number 1 contender, and it would probably hurt him to lose it before the PPV. JR recaps that Matt Hardy is out of the Royal Rumble, but Umaga is in, as he qualified over the past week. Umaga climbs through the door, but before the match starts, our WWE Champion joins us to observe his PPV opponent. The bell rings and Umaga starts off in control, tossing Hardy around and landing a big shoulderblock. Umaga misses a butt splash and Hardy dropkicks him in the face for 1. He tries a jawbreaker, but hurts his own head and Umaga regains control with a side kick to the head. He whips Hardy to the corner, but misses a charge and hits the post as always. Hardy hits the slingshot dropkick in the corner and gets a 2. Jeff slugs away and the charges Umaga, but he catches and tosses him up into the cage, but Jeff grabs hold of the top and starts to scale over, but is yanked down hard to the mat before he can escape. Umaga takes control and Orton cheers him on as we head to the last break of the night. We return from commercial and Umaga has the nervehold on Jeff. During the break, Umaga hit his sick spinning sidewalk slam on Jeff. Orton taunts Jeff from the floor as the crowd tries to rally him out of the hold. Jeff fights to his feet and lands a boot, but gets back dropped in to the cage on a charge. Umaga lands some stiff headbutts, rams the back of Jeff’s head into the cage and then splashes him into the cage for a near fall. Orton tosses three chairs over the cage into the ring and then scales the cage and tells Umaga to hit him. Umaga grabs the chair and just bashes Hardy in the back with it. Man that was a nasty chair shot. Umaga goes for the cover, but Hardy kicks out at 2.5 to a nice pop. Orton is pacing outside and can’t believe that Hardy kicked out. Umaga heads to the top rope to escape, but Jeff leaps and hits the top rope, crotching Umaga. Jeff runs and leaps off the chair to hit the Poetry in Motion on Umaga, sending him crashing to the mat. Umaga struggles to his feet and goes for the Twist of Fate, but Umaga shoves him off and hits a chop to the throat. Umaga drags him to the corner and charges for the butt splash, but Jeff moves and Umaga crashes and burns. Jeff hits the Enziguri and then throws a chair in Umaga’s face. He sets up another chair and DDTs Umaga into the seat for 2. Jeff crawls to the door, but Orton slams it on his head. Umaga goes for the cover, but Jeff kicks out again at 2. Umaga is up an loads up the Samoan Spike, but Jeff ducks it and hits the Twist of Fate. He looks at the cage and climbs to the top of the cage. Orton runs over and stands under Jeff. Jeff changes his mind and hits the Whisper in the Wind from the top of the cage for the huge win. Orton is in shock and the crowd is marking out as that was a crazy dive by Hardy. That was a fun match with the usual red hot Hardy ending as he continues to deliver the goods and get big pops in his Main Event run. Jeff climbs the cage and stands on top, staring down at Orton as JR and King put Hardy over big time as we fade out. Grade: 3.5
Well, this was a rock solid show all the way through. The roulette gimmick adds a lot to the show as it gives us some different matchups and gimmicks to work with and makes the show seem pretty loaded. The Michaels/Kennedy and JBL/Jericho feuds progressed nicely as both heels go the upper hand this week. JBL got some really good heat for choking out Jericho. Speaking of heat, Regal was a heat machine in his first blood match which was very stiff and fun while it lasted. Hunter got a big win and it seems inevitable now that he will end up in the Rumble one way or another. It was good to see Foley pop back out as a surprise and he will be a fun entrant in the Rumble. I thought for sure Triple H would be Hornswoggle’s partner, so they caught me off guard. The cage match was a lot of fun and Jeff continues to be smoking hot. He is putting on great matches, garnering solid heat and looks like a star. Orton was good in his antics outside too and the look of shock on his face during the finishing sequence was gold. The Rumble is going to be a great show as all the main feuds are really cooking along. Add in the freshness of the matchups and the long builds and the return to MSG later this month should be a special one. Tonight’s show flowed really well and never dragged. JR and Lawler were very good tonight too and you could tell they were really into the show. Stories were advanced, the in ring action was very good and Maria and Mickie James were smoking hot. What more can you ask for out of an episode of Raw? Final Grade: B+
MVP: Jeff Hardy
Runner Up: JBL & Chris Jericho
Non MVP: William Regal
Runner Up: B.K. Jordan