December 30, 2008
Scott Criscuolo

Monday Night Raw
December 22, 2008
Toronto, Ontario
Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler

We start with the great duo of Santino Marella and Women’s Champion Beth Phoenix. He is upset that he’s been laughed at by everyone this year, from losing his Intercontinental Title to having his scrotum injured. Well now he’s going to ruin everyone’s holiday season by letting a secret about Santa Claus. Beth Phoenix tries to stop him but he says “Shut up-ah-yoo-faaace”. So as he’s about to spill the beans about Santa Claus, in steps World Heavyweight Champion John Cena. Cena tells Santino he hates Santa Claus because little Santino didn’t get the Barbie doll house with the matching pink Corvette. Santino admits it, then changes his tune. He says to “John Chena”, he would like nothing more than to shut John Chena’s mouth, so tonight why doesn’t Chena pick a partner to face Glamarella? Cena turns around and sees Goldust standing there and he says to pick him. Santino says no they must have ovaries. We pan back to Goldust and he says Rats! Cena confirms this and says its on. Santino says when Glamarella wins he will tell everyone the secret of Santa Claus. Great opening piece.

OPENING ANIMATION

Right out of the gate we have the FIRE AND BRIMSTONE of Kane as we come right out of the gate.

Race to the Rumble qualifier: Kane vs. Shawn Michaels

Kelly Kelly joins Kane coming out and Michael recaps the whole scenario last week with the Miz. Kane grabs the mike and says he heard from Stephanie McMahon that he had to apologize to Kelly Kelly about what happened last week, so he does. He then tells Kelly Kelly that she owes him an apology for leading him on and then lying to him. She’s not in love with the Miz and someday she’ll regret not telling him the truth. This is for the first match in the race to next week’s Fatal Four Way match. The winner in the Fatal Four Way will face John Cena for the World Heavyweight Title at the Royal Rumble. Shawn starts with some punches and chops. Kane whips HBK into the ropes and hits a boot to the face. Kane works HBK over in the corner with punches and boots. Kane with a reverse elbow for 2. Michael said this is the happiest HBK has looked since starting to work with JBL. Kane with a snap mare and a low drop kick for 2. Kane with a headlock. HBK breaks the headlock and hits some chops. Off the ropes and HBK ducks a clothesline and more chops. Kane recovers with a right hand then whips HBK into the ropes and drills an elbow for 2. Kane with a stomp to the back of the head and more boots, then goes for a cover for 2. Off the ropes and Kane ducks which gives HBK a chance to hit a kick and some chops. HBK with his patented flying forearm. Nip up by Shawn but Kane grabs the throat and tries a chokeslam but HBK reverses it into a Crossface, but Kane lifts him up and drops a side slam for 2. Kane heads to the top rope and hits his flying clothesline. HBK is down and Kane goes for the chokeslam but Shawn gets out of the way and throws Kane into the turnbuckle. Kane is dazed, and Shawn hits Sweet Chin Music for the victory. WINNER: Shawn Michaels (Grade: 2)

-We go backstage and JBL looks on as his “employee” is the first to make it to the Fatal Four-Way next week.

-Back from break we go back to last week and the Batista/Randy Orton saga that ended with Orton punting Batista’s head.

Kofi Kingston vs. Manu

They lock up and Kofi with an armbar. Manu punches out of it and hits some clubbing shots. Kofi slips out of a body slam and hits a drop kick. Manu bails but returns and misses a clothesline but then hits one. Manu drives Kofi into the turnbuckles, but goes for a splash and Kofi lifts his legs but Manu tosses them aside and tangles Kofi into the ropes, then drops him on his head for 2. Manu witrh a head/hammerlock combo. Manu lifts him off the ground with this move and drops him hard, then lets go in the air and drops him. Manu with a flying head butt for 2 as Cody Rhodes looks on. Manu goes for the combo again but Kofi runs up the turnbuckles and hits a jawjacker. Manu still in control as Kofi’s in the corner but Manu misses a charge and Kofi kicks him in the head. Kofi runs to the other corner and hits a high cross body. Kofi ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own, then his patented Boom leg drop for 2. Nice match so far. Manu whips Kofi into the ropes but Kofi runs up the ropes and goes for a flying press but Manu catches him and goes for a Samoan Drop. Kofi then does a great reversal and hits a crucifix for the 3 count. Nice match for both guys. WINNER: Kofi Kingston (Grade: 2.5)

-Back from break and Sim Snuka is talking with Randy Orton. Snuka says he is a second generation superstar and he can make a big difference in Orton’s group. As he says that Manu and Cody walk into the hallway and Orton doesn’t want to hear any excuses. Orton tells Snuka that maybe there is a spot for a new member. Orton walks off and Manu is pissed. We then go to the best of the DX Christmas pieces that debuted on Smackdown Friday night. I love how HBK mentions their match at Summerslam 2002.

-We head backstage as HBK is talking with CM Punk when surprisingly Triple H walks in and gets right down to it. He wants to know why Shawn would stoop to working for JBL. HBK says he has to get out of this himself. Triple H says why didn’t Shawn just come to him for help? HBK says he knows the friendship wouldn’t be the same. He knows he hasn’t made the best decisions but he knows what he’s doing. Triple H tells HBK that in the past his pride has clouded his judgment. Triple H wants to help. HBK says thanks, but he needs to get out of this himself. Triple H says for Shawn’s sake, he hopes so. As Triple H walks away HBK says “I hope so too.” Excellent segment as both men make it seem very real.

Mickie James & Melina vs. Jillian & Layla

We return from break and Jillian is with Layla, and Jillian is singing “Let It Snow”, dreadfully of course. Intercontinental Champion William Regal joins Michael & King at the broadcast table. Layla starts with Melina and Layla with some forearm shots but Melina with an arm drag. Melina tags Mickie and they do a double-team takedown. Mickie with a drop kick for 2. Mickie heads to the top rope but Jillian throws her off the turnbuckle and she hits the floor. Layla throws Mickie back in the ring and she gets 2. Tag to Jillian and she elbow drops the knee for 2. Jillian is pulling the leg and slams Mickie’s head to the canvas. Jillian with kicks in the corner as Regal says the IC Title means more to him than Layla. Mickie breaks from Jillian and finally tags Melina who hits some punches and a front face smash for 2. Jillian with a punch then whips Melina into the ropes. Jillian goes for something but Melina sloppily reverses into a side slam/leg drop combo move. Very effective visual of a move. She goes for the pin but Layla breaks at 2. Mickie goes after Layla then Jillian hits an X-Factor on Mickie for 2. Melina tags in and hits her somersault power bomb for the win. Much better action than the crap on Smackdown. WINNERS: Mickie James & Melina (Grade: 2)

Race for the Rumble qualifier: Rey Mysterio vs. JBL

I do like when Rey goes forehead to forehead with the kids wearing his masks, although some feel they’re plants. I’m not sure. Michael says Stephanie McMahon gave Mike Knox the night off after what’s happened with he and Rey the past couple of weeks. They lock up and JBL easily pushes Rey in the corner and clobbers him. Rey responds with a kick but JBL with a vicious shoulder block, then steps on Rey’s hand. JBL with more right hands, then goes for a power bomb but Rey with some punches gets out of it and he hurricanranas JBL into the ropes. Rey goes for the 619 but JBL bails, so Rey hits a plancha to the outside. Rey gets back in the ring and JBL is down as we go to break. We’re back and JBL’s in control with a big right hand. Rey’s whipped into the corner but he boots JBL on the blind charge. Rey goes off the second rope but JBL catches him and hits the fallaway slam for 2. JBL with an abdominal stretch. Rey fights out with elbows to the leg and JBL breaks it. Rey tries a sunset flip but that fails, and when JBL goes for a punch Rey moves and JBL punches the canvas. Rey goes for a roll-up for 2. JBL recovers to hit a clothesline for 2. JBL then hits his run of big elbow drops for 2. Rey’s whipped into the ropes but he goes low with a kick to JBL’s knee, then a low drop kick to the head for 2. JBL grabs the tights and throws Rey out of the ring. Rey’s holding his knee as JBL goes outside and drives Rey’s back into the apron. JBL gets back into the ring as the ref counts Rey. Rey crawls in at 9 ˝. JBL with a short clothesline ala Jake Roberts, then another one. He slaps Rey, then a third short clothesline but Rey kicks out again. Nice big man/little man match. JBL with a big old school backbreaker but Rey starts punching JBL’s face, but when Rey goes off the ropes JBL ratchets a sleeper, but Rey with a jawjacker and a sleeper of his own. JBL backs Rey into the corner, but when he charges Rey hits a drop toe hold and JBL goes face first into the turnbuckle. Rey bounces off the top rope with the West Coast Pop, then a head scissors and bulldog for 2. Great match here. Rey goes off the ropes and JBL with a boot to the face for 2. Rey’s off the ropes but he hesitates and Rey with a boot. Rey gets caught on a cross body and JBL was about to fallaway slam Rey over the top rope but Rey reverses into a DDT for 2. JBL catches Rey’s leg so Rey with an Enziguiri. Another kick for Rey and JBL’s draped on the top rope. As Rey goes for the 619 Shawn Michaels comes out and pulls JBL out of the ring. Shawn then slaps JBL and the ref calls for the bell. WINNER: JBL by disqualification (Grade: 3)

-We get a piece behind the scenes of Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia.

Race for the Rumble qualifier: Randy Orton vs. Batista

I admit I jumped off Randy Orton’s bandwagon in 2005 when he cut bad promos and wrestled mediocre matches. Not anymore. As expected, a referee comes out and says Batista is unable to compete, so Orton wins by forfeit. WINNER: Randy Orton (Grade: N/A)

-Orton takes the mike and says he’s had many memorable moments throughout his career. Being the youngest World Heavyweight Champion and winning the main event of Wrestlemania are two of them. The other was punting Batista’s head last week. Orton says 4 years ago in this building he won the World Heavyweight Championship. The next night Batista, seething with jealousy, dropped him on his head and ambushed him. Orton says he has been dreaming about kicking Batista in the head for the last 4 years. Same dream, every night, for 4 straight years. Orton says last week it finally happened. For Orton, Christmas came early. Orton says how does it feel Dave, to know that he won’t be in the main event and his career is cut short. Orton says Batista’s career has come full circle, and once again Batista is taking a back seat to him. Orton says he did it to himself. Batista had his time and its over. Orton says the next time Batista sees him, he will once again be World Heavyweight Champion. Everything is clicking tonight.

-Back from break and Kelly Kelly is getting ready and Dolph Ziggler introduces himself and walks away. Then Kelly turns around and standing there is the World Tag Team Champions, Miz & Morrison. Miz thanks Kelly for the chokeslam & tombstone from last week. Miz knew that he and Kelly had issues in ECW, but he didn’t know she was vengeful. Miz thinks its Cena, but Kelly says they’re just tag teaming tonight. Morrison says well there was a rumor that one of the superstars’ hotel rooms got trashed, and that it was hers. They walk off and she’s despondent.

Race for the Rumble qualifier: Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk

This should be good. They posture for a moment as Jericho is hesitant. They lock up and Jericho with a headlock. Punk pushes off and Jericho with a shoulder block. They lock up again and Jericho returns to the headlock. Punk powers out of it but Jericho with a pull of the hair gets the headlock back. Punk pushes off and gets a headlock of his own. Jericho pushes off but gets a kick to the head and a low knee for 2. Punk with a snap mare and a drop kick to the back of the head for 2. Jericho with some punches and a clothesline in the corner. Jericho with a suplex for 2. Jericho with more right hands but he misses the charge and Punk with a cross body and some kicks to the legs and arms, and a final one to the head. Jericho rolls under the ropes and we go to break. We’re back and Punk’s still in control. Jericho reverses a whip into the corner but Punk catches Jericho’s arms and hooks on almost a half tarantula on the ropes ala Tajiri. The crowd is actually chanting for Jericho but we are in Canada. Punk tries to get back into the ring and Jericho with a boot to the gut. Jericho with a gut-wrench suplex for 2. Jericho with a snap mare and now what looks like a half Cobra Clutch. Punk tries to fight back and he gets out with elbows and head butt. Both go off the ropes and Jericho with a low knee. Jericho with kicks and head butts, and he hooks for a superplex but Punk pushes him off. The crowd is booing Punk but he goes to the top rope and hits a high cross body for 2. Another solid match tonight. Punk with a punch and clothesline, then a swinging kick to the head but he goes for a charge and Jericho with a boot. Punk seems stunned but he recovers with a scoop slam for 2. Punk goes for a suplex but Jericho gets out of it and hits a running bulldog as the crowd is cheering his every move. Lawler even comments that Canadians are different from everyone else in the WWE Universe. Jericho goes for the Lionsault but Punk gets Jericho up for the GTS but when Punk gets him in the air Jericho reverses into the Walls of Jericho and the crowd’s going insane. This bizarre crowd situation is making the match even better. Punk tries to roll out of hit but he can’t. Punk was so close to the ropes but Jericho pulls him into the middle of the ring and the crowd loved it. Punk finally rolls out of the it and the crowd boos. Jericho goes after the Walls again but Punk gets out of it and hits a knee lift to the face for 2. Punk with knee lifts and a whip into the corner where Punk hits another high knee. Punk goes for a running bulldog but Jericho pushes off to Punk hits another kick to the temple. Punk is groggy after the long Walls sequence, but he goes to the top rope and bounces off where Jericho hits him with a sweet Codebreaker and gets the win. The crowd is off the hook which is nuts, but it helped make for a fantastic match. WINNER: Chris Jericho (Grade: 4)

-Kelly Kelly runs off as Todd Grisham asks about the match with Cena vs. Glamarella. Kelly Kelly says she told John and he understands but she has to go, obviously pertaining to John Morrison’s “rumor”. Well I wonder who Cena’s partner will be? Where is this show again?

-Michael and King talk about the Kelly Kelly situation, then we have a recap of Saturday night’s Tribute to the Troops special.

-Glamarella comes to the ring and Santino Marella’s getting chants. What has happened to this Toronto crowd lately? Ever since cheering for Hogan at Wrestlemania XVIII it’s become bizarro world up there. Santino wants the crowd to point out Rose Mendez in the crowd, who’s the big Beth Phoenix fan. Santino says she’s his #1 fan, which is funny. Santino jabs at Canada for being second place to the USA in everything. Great, reminiscent of when Bret Hart called Pittsburgh an enema in 1997. He says Canada is also behind Italy. Santino reminds us that earlier tonight that if Glamarella beat John Cena and his Diva he would tell the big secret about Santa Claus. Beth still looks irritated at that but Santino says why wait now. He tells all the children to listen carefully, but of course before he says it THE CHAMP IS HERE. John Cena’s music cranks, and he comes down the ramp. Cena gets the mike and says (as he’s getting booed, big shock) that the big secret is Santa Claus is here. Cena points him out to the crowd and Cena says that before he took his seat he granted Cena his Christmas wish, which was another tag team partner for the match, so here it is…

Santino Marella & Women’s Champion Beth Phoenix vs. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena & Trish Stratus

OH….ITS TIME TO ROCK AND ROLL….Toronto’s own Trish Stratus makes her first Raw appearance in over a year, since the Raw XV special. What a great capper to the night. Great matches, deep promos…and a little Stratusfaction. Santino starts with Cena, and they lock up. Cena with a headlock, and even with Trish on his team he’s getting booed. This crowd is great, so all over the place. They back into the corner, they break and Santino with a cheap shot. Santino bails and tags Phoenix, which means Cena, who of course builds it up tags Trish. Her first match since Unforgiven 2006, ironically in this building. Beth jaws with her and pushes her. Trish cracks her with two forearms then bounces Beth off the ropes, does her classic Matrix bend, and finishes with the Lou Thesz Press. Trish with some chops but Beth grabs her by the throat and lifts her up. She throws Trish into her corner and tags Santino. Trish gets free from Beth, pushes Beth into the corner and Santino (who was on the top rope) crotches the turnbuckle. Trish hits her big hurricanrana, but Beth slams her into the canvas. Beth with a cover for 2. Beth lifts Trish up and drills her with a backbreaker, then another. She lays into Trish with right hands, but when she lifts Trish up Trish flips and hits a bulldog. Trish tags Cena, and now the crowd boos. Cena with clotheslines to Santino who has to get in. Cena with the Five-knuckle shuffle, then when he goes for the FU, Beth comes in to break it up. Trish comes in and hits the now-famous Chick Kick, and Beth’s gone. On the second try Cena hits the FU and its good night Santino. WINNERS: John Cena & Trish Stratus (Grade: 2)

-Cena & Trish postures and we’re out.

DRAMA’S TAKE: Great opening segment by Glamerella and Cena, as Santino Marella’s found another name to butcher. Nice opener by Kane/HBK as Kane keeps the Kelly Kelly storyline open. Kofi Kingston and Manu was a great showcase for both guys as the slower Manu kept up with Kofi’s frenetic pace. Nice bit to continue the tension within Orton’s group, but even better was the Triple H/HBK promo about Michaels’ money troubles. It seemed very real and focused. Nice women’s tag match that kills anything on Smackdown. Crappy storyline ending aside, the JBL/Rey Mysterio match was really good, JBL’s best match in a while. An expected pass for Orton, but the killer promo more than made up for it. Jericho/Punk was no doubt the match of the night, but it sets up next week’s Fatal Four Way match as Shawn Michaels being the only face. Nice recap of the WWE’s visit to Iraq, as the show was really entertaining again. An entertaining main event caps the night as its great to see Trish Stratus return to her hometown to a big ovation. One of the best Raws in quite a while, from a series of awesome matches, to a few killer promos (Orton and DX in particular) and a long-awaited dose of delicious “Stratusfaction”. FINAL GRADE: A-

MVP: Chris Jericho
Runner Up: John Cena & Trish Stratus
Non MVP: Rey Mysterio
Runner Up: Kelly Kelly

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