Big Night in the Big Easy
NEW ORLEANS -- Storming into Louisiana, the first Raw of 2009 brought with it all the explosive action that the WWE Universe has come to expect. What our fans didn't see coming however, was the shocking announcement that after more than six months away, Mr. McMahon himself will be returning to Raw in just two short weeks. This revelation came just prior to the night's main event, which saw World Heavyweight Champion John Cena & Shawn Michaels team up to defeat Randy Orton & Chris Jericho.
World Heavyweight Champion John Cena & Shawn Michaels def. Randy Orton & Chris Jericho; John Cena to face Shawn Michaels the following week (PHOTOS | WATCH)
As his employer, JBL looked on silently, Shawn Michaels teamed up with the self-proclaimed "wrestling god's" Royal Rumble opponent, World Heavyweight Champion John Cena, to take on the vicious team of Randy Orton & Chris Jericho. Earlier in the night, HBK had been encouraged by his boss to turn on The Champ, in an attempt to increase JBL's chances of winning the World Heavyweight Title at Royal Rumble. Throughout the match, Shawn Michaels appeared conflicted, but in the end, it was his Sweet Chin Music that dropped both his opponents, allowing HBK to pin Jericho for the win.
As Cena & Michaels celebrated in the ring, HBK's employer revealed in the locker room area that the two Superstars would be facing one another on the next Raw, with JBL installed in Shawn Michaels' corner.
Mr. McMahon to return to Raw in two weeks; Women's Champion Beth Phoenix's No. 1 fan banned from Raw
One of the biggest announcements of the night came courtesy of the nefarious Chris Jericho. Accosting Stephanie McMahon in her office, Jericho revealed that not only did he petition the Executive Vice President protesting the prior week's Fatal Four Way Match, but he also sent it to the Chairman, Mr. McMahon. Stephanie was shocked to learn that not only did her father's office respond to Jericho, but they announced his return to Raw in just two short weeks. This huge revelation came after Women's Champion Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella had been speaking with the Executive Vice President about Rosa Mendes, the crazed fan that attacked Melina earlier in the night. Stephanie told "Glamarella" that Mendes was as of that moment banned from Raw.
Cody Rhodes & Sim Snuka def. Cryme Tyme; Snuka taken out of the running for Randy Orton's group (PHOTOS)
Phase two of gaining membership in Randy Orton's new group consisted of Cody Rhodes & Sim Snuka facing Cryme Tyme in a tag team match. The two second-generation Superstars attempted to show exactly why they should be chosen, with Rhodes scoring the pinfall victory for the team. Though technically Snuka won the match as well, it was not a good enough showing for Orton, who promptly removed him from the running, declaring him "the weak link."
Kelly Kelly def. Jillian; Kane to face Randy Orton the following week (PHOTOS)
Continuing to display her rapid in-ring improvement, Kelly Kelly took out Jillian in singles competition. Raw's tone-deaf songstress was unable to take her loss in stride, however, and attacked the blond bombshell after the match, leaving Kelly in a vulnerable position when the imposing Kane entered the ring. The Big Red Monster was angry about Kelly attempting to protect her one-time lover, Randy Orton, and announced that he would be facing the Legend Killer on the next Raw.
World Tag Team Champions The Miz & John Morrison def. Rey Mysterio & Kofi Kingston; Mysterio and Kingston named as Royal Rumble participants (PHOTOS)
The current World Tag Team Champions made an appearance on Raw to compete against Rey Mysterio & Kofi Kingston in a non-title match. The Miz & John Morrison talked glowingly of their many accomplishments before meeting their quick-moving, athletic opponents in the ring. Mysterio & Kingston's innovative offense wasn't enough to defeat the self-proclaimed greatest tag team of the 21st century however, as Morrison pinned the Master of the 619 for the win.
Following the match, things got even worse for Mysterio, as Mike Knox stormed out and brutalized the Ultimate Underdog, gaining some measure of revenge for his first-ever defeat on Raw at the hands of Mysterio the week prior in a 10-Man Tag Team Match. Though they were defeated on Raw, both Mysterio and Kingston will have the opportunity of a lifetime as they compete in the Royal Rumble Match as announced during their bout on Raw.
JBL encouraged Shawn Michaels to turn on World Heavyweight Champion John Cena; Randy Orton set another challenge for Cody Rhodes and Sim Snuka
The earlier news of a match between World Heavyweight Champion John Cena & Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton & Chris Jericho immediately set JBL's mind spinning. In the locker room area, the Longhorn Loudmouth cornered his employee Shawn Michaels, urging him to turn on his tag team partner and possibly even render The Champ unable to defend his title at Royal Rumble.
Elsewhere, Randy Orton addressed the potential members of his new group, Cody Rhodes and Sim Snuka, declaring that if they wanted to join, they would have to win their match later in the night. Orton was then approached by Manu, who was ousted from the running the week before. The Samoan Superstar requested another chance to prove himself, but was denied by the third-generation Superstar Orton.
CM Punk def. Intercontinental Champion William Regal by disqualification; Regal retains the Intercontinental Title (PHOTOS)
Reaping the rewards of winning the heavily contested Intercontinental Title Tournament, CM Punk met William Regal in the squared circle with the Intercontinental Title on the line. As always, Regal was accompanied to the ring by his fellow Brit, Layla. Victory appeared to be within Punk's grasp as he prepared to hit the Intercontinental Champion with the Go To Sleep, but Regal reached out and grabbed the referee, disqualifying himself.
Unfortunately for the Straightedge Superstar, however, a title may not change hands on a disqualification. But Punk's luck quickly turned around, as Stephanie McMahon emerged and immediately set a future rematch, where if Regal is again disqualified, he will lose the Intercontinental Title.
Melina & Goldust def. Women's Champion Beth Phoenix & Santino Marella (PHOTOS)
Just weeks before Melina will face off against Women's Champion Beth Phoenix at Royal Rumble, the paparazzi-hounded Diva partnered with the bizarre Goldust to face the team of Glamarella in an Intergender Tag Team Match. Perhaps giving The Glamazon of taste of what she can expect at Royal Rumble, Melina pinned Phoenix for the win. Following the match, for the second week in a row Melina was attacked by the Women's Champion's crazed No. 1 fan, who was subsequently restrained by security and escorted out of the arena.
Randy Orton and Chris Jericho entered in the Royal Rumble Match, but not Shawn Michaels; World Heavyweight Champion John Cena & HBK to face Orton & Jericho later in the night (PHOTOS)
Randy Orton and Chris Jericho kicked off Monday Night Raw by contesting JBL's No. 1 contendership to the World Heavyweight Championship. Though Stephanie McMahon denied their request to face one another for the honor, she did officially enter both of the Superstars in the Royal Rumble Match. The Executive Vice President neglected to enter Shawn Michaels, however, at the request of his employer, JBL, who wanted HBK to focus on assisting him in his Royal Rumble title match. McMahon then set the night's main event as a tag team bout pitting the team of Orton & Jericho against Shawn Michaels & World Heavyweight Champion John Cena, the Superstar HBK's boss JBL will face at Royal Rumble.