Ready to Rumble

Ever since Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot and defeated John Cena at New Year's Revolution, the former Champ has been itching to get his hands on the Rated R Superstar. Cena will get his chance at the Royal Rumble in a rematch for the WWE Championship, but he was able to get a small taste on RAW, just six days before the Rumble.

It was a Pick Your Partner Tag Team Match. Edge tried all night to get a partner, but was not having much success. Despite Lita using all of her assets, she was unable to convince Big Show to join Edge's side. Triple H also turned down Edge, citing that he's no longer taking charity cases, and is only focused on winning the WWE Championship. With Edge almost out of options, "The Masterpiece" Chris Masters stepped up to the plate. But no one could trump Cena's choice as a partner.

No one even knew he had been cleared for competition. But with RAW emanating from right in the middle of Flair Country, in Charlotte, N.C., the Nature Boy laced up the boots once again and was ready to exact revenge on Edge from their Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match the week prior.

Cena started the match, but the raucous Charlotte crowd demanded Flair get in the ring. When the Nature Boy stepped through the ropes, the roof almost exploded, and Flair went to town with chop after chop on The Masterpiece. Masters and Edge were able to catch Flair off guard, though, and cut the ring in half. The duo focused on Flair's vulnerable back, and he seemed ripe for the pickings. But, with the crowd cheering him on, Flair was able to muster up enough strength to make the desperation tag to Cena.

The former Champ cleaned house and hoisted Edge up for an FU. Lita hopped up on the apron, however, and grabbed Edge and pulled him outside the ring. With Cena focused on Edge, Masters was able to grab Cena and try to get him in the Master Lock. Flair joined the fracas, though, and took out Masters' leg. With Edge and Lita retreating up the ramp, Cena hoisted Masters up for an FU and then made him tap to the STFU.

Earlier in the evening, Shelton Benjamin took on Shawn Michaels. This one promised to be an instant classic as it was, but before the match could begin, Mr. McMahon came out and declared that if HBK were to lose, he would also lose his spot in the Royal Rumble. These two are arguably the two best pure athletes on RAW, and they didn't disappoint. This one was going back and forth, and it looked like it might end similarly to how things ended in their clash from last year's Gold Rush Tournament. In that one, Shelton went for a move off the ropes, only to be caught in mid-air by Sweet Chin Music. Benjamin took to the air once again on RAW, but this time he saw the superkick coming. Later on in the match, HBK was tuning up the band once again, but Shelton's momma got on the apron and distracted him. Benjamin then rolled up HBK, but the ref was still admonishing Shelton's momma. HBK reversed the roll-up and pulled on the tights for the big victory. The Showstopper had saved his spot in the Royal Rumble.

Mr. McMahon caught up with HBK backstage after the match. He said that Lady Luck was on his side. He also said that he wants to turn back the clock to the days of sex, drugs and rock n' roll and asked Shawn to join him. HBK turned him down, however, and Mr. McMahon said that his luck would run out at the Royal Rumble.

Last week on RAW, Carlito said that no one would be able to eliminate him from the Royal Rumble. Kane didn't like what he heard and came out and tossed him out of the ring after shoving an apple in his mouth. The two squared off on RAW to settle their differences. Carlito was able to sustain some offense, but he couldn't keep the Big Red Monster down. He became so frustrated that he grabbed a chair and walloped Kane in the head. Carlito seemed pleased with his handiwork, but then Kane sat up as if it hadn't fazed him, which sent Carlito into a full retreat.

Women's Champion Trish Stratus teamed up with Ashley to take on Victoria and Candice. When Mickie James found out about the match, she confronted her idol, Stratus, and wondered why she was tagging with Ashley instead of herself. Mickie was broken up about it, but said she'd have to learn to accept what Trish wanted to do.

Trish and Ashley worked well as a team, and Ashley was able to land a flying bodypress on Victoria for the pin. Following the pinfall, Mickie James stormed the ring and attacked Ashley. Trish and the ref tried to separate them, but Mickie went right back at Ashley and leveled her with a kick. Mickie finally left, but the damage had been done. It was later announced that Mickie will face her new nemesis Ashley at the Royal Rumble and Trish would be the special referee.

The Coach, who participated in last year's Royal Rumble and lasted an amazing 27 minutes, took on Jerry "The King" Lawler to see who would get the final RAW spot in the Royal Rumble. Lawler looked to have things well in hand, but then five male cheerleaders called the Spirit Squad broke onto the scene. They began running and flying around the ring, cheering for Coach. Lawler was distracted by the unannounced visitors, and Coach was able to roll him up and use the ropes for the pin. Thanks to the Spirit Squad, Coach will be representing RAW in the Royal Rumble once again.

Lance Cade, Rob Conway and Gregory Helms had all previously lost Royal Rumble qualifiers, but had a chance at redemption in an Over the Top Rope Second Chance Sweepstakes. If any of them could throw Big Show over the top rope, they would qualify for the Royal Rumble. Big Show was too much for any of them to overcome, though, and none of them could cash in on the golden opportunity.

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