Two weeks to go before the Royal Rumble as Monday Night RAW kicked off at the University of Tennessee with Vince McMahon making his way to the ring, to first insult the fans about his decision to hold RAW there, then moving on to the ongoing Bret Hart controversy. Comparing the WWE Hall of Famer to a horse that needed to be put down, as well as a piece of gum that had lost its flavor, McMahon continued to speak in much the same manner from the last two weeks, until the Undertaker's music filled the arena in the wake of his entrance!
Reminding McMahon that he was one of the few people left in the company who was in Montreal the night the screwjob happened, Taker went on to inform the Chairman that he was afraid of the consequences of his actions, and that he was a coward, having screwed Bret not once, but twice now. Impressing upon McMahon in his own certain way to leave the ring, Taker then focused on the reason he was on RAW, to answer the WrestleMania rematch challenge from Shawn Michaels. As HBK joined the World Heavyweight Champion in the ring, Taker reminded him that while he came closer than most to ending The Streak, the bottom line was that he failed. Having nothing left to prove to Michaels, the answer to the challenge was no! Offering Michaels a chance for a one-on-one match, Undertaker recieved a no of his own, with Michaels adding he was going to go into the Rumble match instead, win it for an unprecedented third time, and make Undertaker face him at WrestleMania whether he liked it or not, finishing by saying the Undertaker's streak, World championship, and his very soul would be Michaels' in the end, closing the segment out as Taker left the ring.
Apparently, Evan Bourne did not get enough of Sheamus two weeks ago, as he was waiting in the ring for the WWE Champion and a non-title rematch. You didn't have to possess mystical abilities to figure which way this match was heading. When the WWE Champ's opponent doesn't even get a broadcast intro, you know it's gonna be a short evening for the angry Irishman. While Orton pulled Sheamus off his game momentarily when he made his way down the ramp to check out the match, allowing Bourne to nearly steal one with a quick pin, it proved to be the highlight of the match for Bourne, as he again found himself pounded, dominated, and pinned once again for a easy win! Climbing in the ring, Orton had a wordless staredown with his Rumble opponent, with Sheamus simply displaying the WWE Championship to make his point before making his exit.
DX was trying to have a private conversation about a "pressing matter," but guest host Don Johnson showed up, wondering where fellow guest host Jon Heder was. After dismissing Heder with a few low-grade insults, DX decided to pick up the talk later, as Johnson found what he thought was Heder, but turned out to be Carlito dressed as Napoleon Dynamite. I haven't seen the movie, and as you can tell by the length of time since it came out, I'm not rearranging my schedule anytime soon to catch it. Yeah, they couldn't afford your apple last week, but this week, they ponied up for a wig, jacked teeth, and a Vote for Pedro shirt? Nothing good can come to your career when you start getting costume work for backstage segments. At least Santino Marella is funny when he does it, and Charlie Haas at least got ringtime out of his run. I would not vote for Carlito any more than I would vote for Pedro, whoever in the hell that is.
Jack Swagger then strutted out to the ring, calling last week's All-American American American American challenge victory by Santino Marella a fluke and issuing another challenge to the comedic lynchpin of Monday nights. Dressed as vintage 1980s Don Johnson, Marella, the President of the "Italian Don Johnson Fan Club," said his responsibilities in that role were keeping him busy, but he did have a substitution for Swagger for the evening - Mark Henry! This one lasted just long enough to allow the entire match to serve as a "RAW Recap," even though no one really cares about this match, or the participants, in the long run. Swagger, 0-2 in his own challenge, needs to confer with Chris Masters on winning a self-named challenge. Lord knows he had plenty of time after this throwaway segment.
Jon Heder finally arrived (well, in pre-taped segment form anyway) as a limo pulled up containing him, the Bella Twins, and a "mystery guest" (I figured it was Hornswoggle. We'll see if I'm right). After confusing Knoxville with Nashville, a classic "Spinal Tap"-kind of spot that would have been much funnier by Jeremy Piven, or Seth Green, or yes, even the alleged entertainer Cedric, I figured tonight's RAW guest host appearance would be much like his movies...Heder would be leaning for dear life on the established star to remain memorable. You know, kind of like every movie he's done since Napoleon Dynamite.
The crowd showered Heder and Johnson with indifference, which I liked, as it will prepare them for the disappointment they face at the box office with "When in Rome." Heder then babbled on like Lady Gaga on some bad coke for a couple of minutes, including a clumsy Lane Kiffin joke to get under the skin of the still-bitter Knoxville crowd. Coming out to try and save the floundering actor, The Miz hit the ring, the "mystery guest" of Heder's in the limo. Using the occasion to further his war of words with MVP, Miz compared him to Tubbs from Miami Vice...you know, the one no body remembers save for Philip Michael Thomas (he played Tubbs, in case you are just now catching up). Before MVP and Miz can fully collide, Big Show runs interference, knocking the former U.S. Champion out and leaving him on the floor. Heder takes the moment to set the main event for the evening- a tag team match between D-Generation X and The Miz and The Big Show. Throughout this segment, Don Johnson looked like I imagine much of the audience felt- a little confused, a little embarassed, and kind of wishing it was 11pm already.
In tag team action, you had a collision of agendas as John Cena teamed with Kofi Kingston to face the challenge of Legacy. This was actually an entertaining match, as both teams battled back and forth in the early goings. As the match wore on, Legacy pressed the advantage, using their experience and chemistry to stay one step ahead of Cena and Kingston. Making the hot tag, Cena goes through a paint-by-numbers Cena rally (shoulder block, five knuckle shuffle, etc.), but the match came to a sudden end as Kingston tags himself back in, scoring the pin with a magnificent high cross body block on Rhodes. The tension they have been teasing with Legacy for a possible DiBiase face turn continues to grow, as Rhodes was visably unhappy with his partner, for ducking the cross body block, leaving him in the ring as the match and the segment ended.
Meanwhile...there was a great disturbance in the force, as if a million RAW fans screamed profanities at the screen at once, before resigning to crap they should have seen coming in the first place. Some damn midget challenged Heder to a match, and naturally, HHH suggests making it a six-man tag match. man, I didn't even care enough to yawn disgustedly at this crap, because I'd rather watch the outtakes from a Laura Bush snuff film than anything with the damn midget.
My future third ex-wife, a.k.a. Maryse, teamed with Alicia Fox to face Gail Kim and Eve Torres in a showcase of the semi-finalists in the Divas Championship tournament. While Maryse and Fox showed great chemistry as a team, keeping Kim isolated for much of the match, Eve would put this one away, tapping out Fox to, of all things, something like looked suspiciously like a Fujiwara armbar. Surprisingly, one of the stronger, if not the strongest matches of the evening...
But heck with that...here's Don Johnson hitting on Kelly Kelly (roughly 1/3 his age) as Jon Heder worries about his main event match. Miz and Big Show present him with a Ric Flair-style ring robe, proclaiming him "The Flame," and tell him not to worry, they would be doing the heavy lifting in the match, leaving the rest for Heder to "polish off." In the interest of disclosure, I go through a bottle of Tabasco sauce a week, and seeing that mook with a Flair robe was the first thing in 2010 to give me a case of heartburn. Great, not only is Heder annoying and slightly overrated, but now he is apparently detrimental to my health, as well.
As all this was unfolding, Vince and HHH were discussing the Montreal remarks made by Undertaker at the beginning of the show. HBK showed up, but the "private conversation" was interrupted again by some damn midget. I could have written more on this segment, but every time the Lollipop Guild represents, I lose interest like a 12 year old taking an algebra test.
Turnabout was fair play for Randy Orton, as Sheamus hit the ramp to scout Orton's match against Chris Masters, accompanied by Eve Torres. This was another back and forth affair, one of the better overall showings for Masters in recent weeks. Orton hit his patented backbreaker to set up the RKO, but Masters was a step ahead, clamping on the MasterLock. Barely making it to the ropes, Orton was in a bad way, but as Masters attempted to go to the well again, Orton struck from out of nowhere with the RKO, gaining the three count but losing the moral battle, as Sheamus quickly hit the ring to leave Orton laid out after a huge boot to the head, a new sensation for Orton, I'm sure. Still not convinced this title match at the Rumble will not be a triple threat by the time the PPV hits the air, but at least they are trying to build a little momentum for the Celtic Warrior heading toward January 31.
The Miz, The Big Show, & Jon "The Flame" Heder vs. D-Generation X & Some Damn Midget. This was the RAW main event, for worse and worse. The damn midget pinned Heder after the Big Show fell on Heder. You got this much, and it still seemed like too much to type up. Not what anyone should be reading as main event coverage. I should apologize, but standing in line behind Stephanie McMahon waiting for her to go first, you won't be hearing it from me anytime soon.
Finally, Triple H and Shawn Michaels were able to have their conversation, but first, of course, John Cena had to come out and interrupt with the less-than-shocking news that he was entered in the Royal Rumble. Big Show ambles back into the ring to make the same announcement, only to have Cena knock him over the top rope. DX follows suit by chucking Cena, but then HHH tosses Michaels as well, leaving The Game alone in the middle of the ring! Now having a chance to talk as well as the only microphone, Triple H informs Michaels that he is in the Rumble match as well, so Michaels' plan to get a WrestleMania rematch with the Undertaker was not going to work out as he was hoping! This is where RAW closed out another garden variety show produced by people with no green thumbs.
Bottom Line: D. This is a solid D, ladies and gentlemen, and solid is not a complement. Solid is also an adjective they use for waste. By the way, in case you were keeping score- less than five minutes of wrestling in the first hour. LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES! I wouldn't know how to act if I had a multi-million dollar brand, and could care less how it was presented on a weekly basis. Then again, if I had that kind of dividend money rolling in each year...I probably STILL wouldn't be as apathetic as Vince. There is no excuse at all for what has become of the flagship show, and heading into the Road to WrestleMania, you at home might as well prepare for lower back pain, as it is painfully obvious they will hit EVERY pothole along the way.