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Last night: Shawn Michaels loves Ric Flair. That's why he has to kick him in the face. You know how it is.
Raw Theme Plays.
After over one month, the Raw Insanity is back in full swing. We couldn't pick a better night, could we? After all, this is the Road To Backlash! Yeah! Yeah. Ugh. Doesn't have that WrestleMania ring to it, huh? No worries though. We can still make the best out of a bad situation. That's what Chris Jericho did. After losing the Money in the Punk match last night, Y2J+8 picked himself up by the shiny bootstraps, dusted himself off, and tried all over a-gayne. He takes another swap at honor tonight. It's C.M. vs. Y2. 1 on 1. OK? OK. Plus Santino takes on Maria in a "The Writers Dropped Acid Before Their Meeting" Match. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcome me to the broadcast and send me down to ringside with the man who failed last night...John Cena.
When Cena doesn't come out, his music stops. That's when we go from Thuggy Doctor to Cerebral Assassin.
Again, no one comes out. The music pauses once more and it's easy to figure out who's music plays next.
No. I'm kidding. It's Randy Orton, of course. But it would be cool if it was Repo, right? Yeah. That's why I'll never get to book a wrestling show. Every single surprise I do would involve Repo Man..
Randy Orton steps into the ring and rubs it in everyone's face.
"Expecting someone else?"
- Randy Orton
Yeah. Repo Man, dillweed.
"You know last week, it wasn't whether or not I was gonna win at WrestleMania. It was who was gonna beat me. John Cena or Triple H? No one thought that I was going to win. You people never wanted to give me any credit. Well now, whether you like it or not, you have no choice but to show me respect!"
- Randy Orton
This was an old school "F**k you, audience" promo. The Legend Killer was booed at every turn and got a huge reaction when he ran down his laundry list of accomplishments. Men like John Cena and Jeff Hardy all have fallen to Cowboy Bob's baby boy. So proving time is over. Orton time is now.
"Forget the Hulkamania era. Forget the attitude era. We are all now living in the age of Orton!"
- Bob Orton
Man. A line like that is just begging for a hero...
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding - da-daa-dadada - da-da-da - MOO! - da-daa….
JBL is here. Yup. The arrogant young champion is confronted by the arrogant grizzled veteran about his big ol' mouth. You had a good night last night, kid? Huh? Well, guess what. You were lucky, dope! Bradshaw wasn't. He doesn't need luck. He's gots the skills and you...
"LOOK AT ME, BOY!"
Randall looks up and the lecture continues. Layfield's whole gimmick is based on dominance. He dominates like a leather cowboy. Look at what he did at Mania, Ortty! Bradshaw pounded Finlay into the ground and you'll be no different. Right now, Big John Hawk is declaring himself the #1 contender!
"They say I passed the Torch? I want my damn torch back! Bad news for these people. You think they dislike you as champion? They're gonna hate me."
As John takes his leave, The Legend Killer calls out from the ring. He demands that the Red State Warrior return and face him one on one. However, as all this is going on, there's another person vying for the "Most Random Guy To Do A Run In During This Segment Award."
That's right. Matt Hardy slides in. He tears into Randy and the brawl spills to the outside. Although he got some good shots in, Hardy ends this fight the way he ends most of his fights - struggling to his feet with the help of referees while the guy he attacked walks away laughing. (JG Note: I'm not being sarcastic either. I feel like I've seen Matt helped to his feet by referees more than any other wrestler on the roster.)
Commercial Break. Things That Make Ric Flair Cool - He'll Teach You To Flash At The Bash.
Matt Hardy is walking along backstage like he owns the place. That pisses William Regal off big-time. Hey Matthew! What the eff?! How dare you take it upon yourself to do stuff! Matty defends his actions and demands a bout with Orton as a reward for breaking the rules. Although this logic is completely whack, Lord Will agrees to think it over.
1. Cryme Tyme defeated Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade when JTG pinned Trevor.
Jim Ross says that the last time we saw Cryme Tyme was when they were auctioning off the cowboy hats of Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade. (JG Note: Uh...he can remember that, but he can't remember that Paul Burchill was a pirate?) You know what? I gotta say. Didn't really miss Cryme all that much. By the time they left, WWE had exhausted the whole "In Living Color" gimmick-infringement thing. These guys could be really good if they're used correctly. Will they be? Who knows. What I do know is that they got to go over Trev and Lance. Yup. JTG scores a pinfall on the rapidly shrinking Trevor and it's a victory for the returning criminals in their first match back.
Still to come: Ric Flair has a birthday party or something.
Shaw Michaels, in his ladies cowboy hat, is walking to the ring. Jim Ross has it on good authority that HBK is going to "pour his heart out." I hope that's not slang for "vomiting."
Commercial Break. Things That Make Ric Flair Cool - He'll Knows When To Get Professional Help.
Jim Ross thanks everyone for joining WWE at WrestleMania - which is a bit presumptuous. Either way, this next man was at WrestleMania. He's Mr. WrestleMania. His name is Michael Hickenbotten Wrestlemania Jr. aka...Shawn Michaels!
The camera pans down and Michaels steps in between the ropes. He strands in the center of the ring and takes the mic.
"You know, I'm feeling a lot of emotions right now and none of them are that particularly good. Um you know I was asked to do a job. I was asked to be the showstopper. I was asked to be..."
Pause. Look away. Tear.
"I was asked to be Mr. WrestleMania and I don't know how I feel about that."
Pause. Look away. Tear.
"I had a job to do last night. Ric Fair asked for my A game and that what I gave him. I have to much love and respect for Ric Flair to have given him anything less. I had a chance last night to pull the trigger and i did. And now the career of the greatest wrestler who ever lived is over and I'm the man responsible for it. That is a burden. that's another burden that I get to carry with me the rest of my life. Lucky me."
- Shawn Michaels
The "lucky me" line made me laugh out loud, although it wasn't Shawn' intention. There was something funny about the fact that he ended Flair's career and he's out here now crying about how bad it is for him. "Lucky me." That was pretty funny.
At this point, Michaels takes his smile and goes home. He leaves the ring and walks away. Oh poor you!
Still to come: Moongoose vs. Sober Sammy. Plus, Randy Orton takes on Matt Hardy. Stick around or else J.R. will hunt you down.
Commercial Break. Things That Make Ric Flair Cool - He'll Got To Use The World's First Video Camera.
Shawn Michaels gets the ol' chin up from William Regal, but he still feels singled out. Maybe because he is. Batista is standing ins the hallway and it stops HBK in his tracks. Deacon Dave, with his big mancrush on Ric Flair, stares down the Heartbreak Kid as he slinks off.
Um...yo. Who the hell is this?
Hardcore Holly. You said to get her because they were playing her music.
I meant Hardcore Bob Holly.
Oh! The wrestler! I thought you meant the porn star. Uh oh. You don't want to know who I got when you asked for "Spanky." Yikes! Ha ha!
2. Brian Kendrick and Paul London defeated Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly in a non-title match
At one point Jim Ross compared Kendrick and London to the Rockers and you had to wonder if it's even possible to make comparisons like that on anything but a superficial level. After all, the Rockers didn't get the piss kicked out of them every other day. The worst they ever looked was when Hulk Hogan grabbed them after Macho Man beat him down on the Main Event. The worst Paul and Brian looked was when they saved Triple H's hide and then he beat them both up at once. I say Jannetty and Michaels win that one. This was one of the cases where they may have gotten beat senseless, but the Big Shorts Express still got a win in the end. Spanky scores a roll up pin on Cody. The ref counted three and the crowd went crazy until they realized it was non-title.
Still to come: Ric Flair says goodbye in a Farewell Address. Is he going to kill himself? Did I miss something? With a show like this, Ric better stay away from any explosive limos, if you get my drift.
Commercial Break. Things That Make Ric Flair Cool - Mike Huckabee.
Video Package of WrestleMania 24: Midget, Shalalee. JBL, Punk, Kardashin, Batista, Kane, Squash, Michaels. Sorry. Retire. Orton. Punt. Retain. Money. Knux. Knockout. Taker. Belt. $50. Gone.
Still to Come: Barry O's Nephew vs. Barry Hardy's Grandson. But first, Jericho vs. Carlos Mencia Punk. Stay tuned, jerky.
Commercial Break. Things That Make Ric Flair Cool - He Wore Whatever He Felt Like To Family Feud
3. Chris Jericho pinned C.M. Punk after the Codebreaker.
How many wrestling outfits does Chris Jericho have? He was wearing some sort of Holly wood Blondes vest for this one. Punk just sticks with his t-shirt and star trunks. Smart, C.M. Save your money for Absinthe. Jerry Lawler spoke out at one point about something we brought up during last night's post show audio. Every past Money in the Banker has won in his attempt to cash it in. A record like this just seems to scream that we're due for a Loser in the Bank. Will it be CM Punk? It certainly seems feasible. It would make many fans cry and, at the end of the day, that's the real goal here. The crowd broke into dual chants of "Let's Go Jericho" and "C.M. Punk." It came off as fun unlike when it happens in TNA and comes off sort of douchey. It's all about what you chant and how often. Jerry then put his foot in his mouth so to speak when he compared the kicking of the contest to a "Rob Van Dam movie." Ross corrected him and it was kind of awkward. The audience got behind Chris more and more as the match went on. By the time things came to a close and he hit the Gameshark Codebreaker, they were going coo-coo for Christopher. Mr. Money in the Bank falls in his first night with the magic briefcase while the King of Bling Bling adds another win to his OnlineWorldofWrestling.com profile.
In honor of Ric Flair's bah mitzvah later tonight we watch a video showcasing his 1992 Royal Rumble win. It was one of the best pay-per-views in history and the hardest sell ever for a Hogan feud. I mean, Sid gets cheated out of winning the Rumble by Hulk and he's the bad guy? Come on! I'd have destroyed that stupid barber shop too. Dumb jerk. Thinking he's a barber or something. Screw him. HOGAN! Bring it on, HOGAN!
Commercial Break. Things That Make Ric Flair Cool - He Kicked Liu-Kang's Ass
Still to come: Santino Marella vs. Maria. (WWE Note: Why, you ask? Well there's a simple answer to that. Shut up.)
Bruised and smiling, Big Show makes his way to the ring. The Big Bald Giant congratulates Floyd Mayweather, his manager, six bodyguards, steel chair, and brass knuckles. What a toolbox that dude is. But that's not why Show is out here. No. He's here to talk about the Hall of Fame. Get this, kids. Ric Flair looked Biggie in the eye and told him that he's the "best big man he's ever been in the ring with." That includes Andre the Giant and that's friggin' awesome. Because of this, the Showster has a vow to make.
"I'm going to go back to what I do best. No one can stand up to me one on one. So I'm gonna make a promise. I will be the most..."
- Big Show
This brings out the Great Khali. The fans chant, "You Can't Wrestle." Forget wrestling. He barely walk. Looks like we're in for this horrible feud now. Rather than team these guys up and create a monster team, they feud them and create a monster waste of time. Splendid. After a staredown and a crowd chant of "Show's Gonna Kill You," The Great One backed down. I'm so excited I could fall asleep.
Matt Hardy is hitting invisible men with elbows. He's fighting Randy Orton next. Don't touch that dial... or you will die.
Commercial Break. Jerry Lawler has trouble with a tranny.
Santino Marella is doing fruity looking thrusts when Maria passes by. He asks her if she got her rabies shots after kissing the Snoopy Dogg last night. Distraught, Mary asks Marella about tonight's match. Why would you want this, Santa? When the Playboy Bunny asked William Regal if the match could be called off, he said only you can do that. So what do you say, Mario Brother? You down? Call the match off? Unfortunately for Maria, that doesn't seem to be in the cards. SanMar is unhappy with his WrestleMania spot and he blames...you.
"I should have been in the Money in the Bank, But no. I'm stuck with the lowest form of entertainment. WWE divas." - Santino Marella
He goes on to say that women should be making pasta and babies. Although pasta is delicious, Maria still takes offense. After cutting down the female division some more, Santino assures his now ex-girlfriend that it's nothing personal.
"I need to release some frustration. Unless, Maria, you know other ways I can find relief."
- Santino Marella
She responds with slap. He responds with yelling. "HAVE IT YOUR WAY, MARIA!" The match is on, prositituto! Enjoy the Chlamydia, Lucille!
4. WWE Champion Randy Orton pinned Matt Hardy after the RKO
This is pretty random. We're an hour and a half into Raw with no sign of Triple H or John Cena. Night one for the Age of Orton has involved JBL and Matt Hardy. Who'd' a thunk it? I'm not sure how I feel about it all yet, but it definitely helps to keep the anticipation for the bigger stars up and builds up Matt in the process. You know what I hate? The pants Hardy wears when he wrestles. It looks like he made them himself. Actually he probably did. Maybe he can ease up on the bedazzled camouflage floral-pattern canvas pants look. Just a bit. No matter what you say about his pants, you can't take away Matty's appeal the fans. They popped for everything he did and were excited when the Sensei of Mattitude hit his Twist of Fate on the arena floor. Ol' Einstein Face didn't realize he'd have to roll Randall back in after it, though. When he did, the WWE Champion played possum for a moment, jumped up, and RKOed him into the middle of next Friday. 1,2,3. Another Hardy falls to the Randy One.
Dusty Rhodes sat down to give us his views on Ric Flair.
"Daddy, Ric Flair - OOOO! - Daddy. I get funky like a monkey then I eat the monkey. You see that monkey! The people, daddy. Brother. Ric Flair. If you will. Ric Flair. Daddy, the monkey is on fire. That monkey is funky cause I get funky on the monkey and that's what the 'Merican Dream's about, daddy. Hey. You gonna finish that donut?"
Actually, that's not what he said. I just figured it was close enough. It's usually what he says. This time around, he called Ric Flair a "National Treasure" and smiled like D.D.P. during his final WWE run. That's not a bad thing. That's a good thing....If you weeeeeeeel.
Commercial Break. Trying to watch Mr. Belvedere here.
Randy Orton is tired backstage but JBL doesn't care. He approaches the sweaty, panting champion, looks at his belt, and walks off. Orton gives him the ol' evil eye as he scamps away.
Hey Maria. They're playing your music.
Hey. Are those space pants you're wearing? Because your ass is out of this world.
Nothing. Nothing. I'm sorry. I'm sorry....They're playing your music. I have to go. Something suddenly came up.
5. Maria pinned Santino Marella after a headbutt to the babalones.
It's the jealous boyfriend Santino and, straight from the Bang Bus, Maria. This bout wasn't a beating, like you'd expect. Almost immediately, the WWE Divas, angry about Santino's telling of the truth earlier, rush the ring and attack him. With everyone grabbing a limb, Marella is lifted in the air and posed for a Maria headbutt to the groin. This is followed up by a three count and another banner night in the career of Santino Marella.
After 36 years, Ric Flair gives his farewell address. It's after the break. Just give him time to take his pants off and we'll be on our way.
With a tear - whooo - in his eye, the Nature Boy Ric Flair is in the, by God, ring. The fans cheer and he comes back with a "Whooo."
"Last night, I wrestled my very last match at WrestleMania. I will never ever wrestle in this ring again. Please. Please. I'm not sad about not wrestling. You shouldn't be sad about the fact that you're not gonna see me out here. You should rejoice in the fact that I've had the greatest career in the history of pro wrestling and last night even though I lost, I lost to a great, great, great, great wrestler and a better man. Truth! Rejoice in the fact that I have wrestled in front of more fans, raised more hell, had more fun, and loved all of you every day of my life. I swear to god. I've been tearing up all day long with the thought to not coming out here anymore. But I'm off. I'm off. I'm in a good place and I love it. I want to thank you for the memories. Thank you for the support and most of all. Thank you all for making me who I am today. Whooo! Whooo! Whooo!" - Ric Flair
I miss Hunter. Don't you?
TIME TO PLAY THE GAME!
Triple H has bounce to his step and his hair as he hits the ramp. He lets The Nature Boy know that there's more than fans itching to say, "Thank you." Come on, Naitch. You have more than that, pal.
Flair, of course, weeps. Trips says that he loves him. That's when the waterworks really start. Helmsley then drops to his knees in wosrship much the same way Ric did for him in 2002. He bows as a showing of respect and the tears flow even more. Niagara falls, Frankie Angel.
You think that's crying? Huh? You think that's crying? Well, the camera zooms in for the big one. The cries don't come any harder than when the Four Horsemen are introduced.
Followed by Batista.
Followed by Ricky Steamboat.
Followed by Gallagher.
Followed by WWE Hall of Famer (and ClubWWI.com guest) Harley Race.
Followed by Greg The Hammer Valentine. (JG Note: Greg was upset over a booking mix-up as he originally was told this would be a backyard show.)
Followed by Dean Malenko.
Followed by Steve McMichael.
Followed by Chris Jericho.
Followed by John Cena.
Followed by Ric Flair's Family.
At this point, Flair was a mess. I don't know what the fetish is that we all have with making Ric Flair cry all the time. I feel like we're always making him cry. It's like a game.
Once all the hugging seemed to be over, a surprise final hugger came out. He's the man who made this all possible. It's Shawn Michaels.
The two embrace and share some private words. As Slick Ric hugs him, the fans clap along, and Triple H leads the final charge to the ring. Instead of letting the intros go on all night. Let's bring everyone out here to share in an out-of-character applause sesh.
This empties the locker room. From Mike Knox to Randy Orton, they all marched out, put their hands together, and chanted "Thank you, Ric." Flair seemed genuinely touched and the nonstop train of performers just kept chugging along. The ramp quickly filled up and the outpouring of respect created a visual that WWE can use for video packages in years to come.
We all say goodbye before Ric Flair gets on his spaceship and flies away to his own planet. Applause. Respect. Love. U.F.O. Fade to black.
All in all...This was a strange-ass show. While it wasn't bad, it wasn't the show you'd expect the day after WrestleMania for the most part. It still had some solid moments and a strong memorable close.
John Cena and Triple H - two men who main evented WM 24 last night - weren't used outside the Flair party. It made no sense. Cena felt like an afterthought and Trips was almost pointless. In the end, the WWE Title situation transitioned into something that no one saw coming and, to be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. JBL vs. Orton vs. Matt Hardy? You're going to have to really dress that one up if you expect to sell it.
Great Khali and Big Show should be teaming - not feuding. It's rare to land on a Big John Studd vs. Andre The Giant situation. In many cases, it's easier to go for a King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd tag team situation. Two giants on the same side could probably have more legs than two giants feuding. When it happens, they cancel each other out and take away the aura that each have. When you see a seven foot guy next to a six foot guy, he looks huge. When you put him next to another seven foot guy, he looks normal. If they were a team, they could tower over foes and really be a major force. It would also help Khali ten times more than this feud will and provide WWE with a good go-to force when authority figures punish babyfaces. "You will face the Khali Shows tonight!" (JG Note: Or whatever...the Great Bigs. How's that?)
Santino Marella needs to jump to Smackdown and never go near Maria again. How they tanked someone with his momentum is beyond me.
Cryme Tyme is back. Alright. Hey. What's going on, guys? That's super. OK then.
The show closing Ric Flair Parade was what it was. It's a moment that was done for history, instead of today's storylines. That's why Randy Orton was there. While it definitely put a damper on the disbelief-suspension, you knew it was historic moment. That was enough. Personally, I was expecting some sort of angle to play out with HBK. When it didn't, I knew we were going for sentiment rather than sensationalism.
Like I said last night during the post Mania Club audio with Matt Dawgs and ZAH, the Flair-Michaels match needed a balanced stip. Had WWE made it a "Loser Retires" match, at least there'd be some sort of doubt that Ric would lose. Instead, it was pretty easy to figure out. Personally, I would have had Flair win last night, only to retire at a show down the line. But, if they did decide to have it all come to an end at Mania, it wouldn't have taken much to make the winner a bit harder to predict.
I mean, it was - If Ric Flair loses, he retires. If Shawn Michaels loses, he...uh, feels sad.
Either way, the match happened as it happened. It wasn't bad and pretty much lived up to expectations. Now, the night after, Ric Flair gets a big honors ceremony on Monday Night Raw. You know, sort of like Bret Hart thought he was going to get before he jumped to WCW. In tonight's case, it was a nice moment and I'm glad Ric Flair could be honored.
So, there it is. Not so bad. Not so great. Just sort of weird and unexpected. Now that we've gotten the legend honors out of the way, maybe next week we can focus on Raw's current state.
That does it for me. Be sure to check out the 45 minute uncut shoot interview with Sean Mooney on ClubWWI.com. I can't express enough how great this interview is for any old school fan. As someone who dumped countless dollars into the arcade version of WrestleFest, went to SummerSlam 1989, and religiously watched WWF TV, getting to talk to Sean was great. In so many ways his name conjures up memories of that time period.
In 15 years, he hasn't done an interview about his past in wrestling. Now, he does. For the first time ever, you can hear Mooney's story. You don't want to miss it.
Be Well! Thanks for sharing the Insanity.