Tickets punched for WrestleMania
On an explosive live episode of Raw from Sioux City, Iowa, tickets for WrestleMania were punched, an Animal was Chokeslammed, two billionaires promised to appear next week on Raw and the ECW Title was defended for the first time ever on a Monday night, all as WWE continues to push full steam ahead on the Road to WrestleMania.
In an extremely rare occurrence, the show opened with all three brands represented in the ring as WWE Champion John Cena, World Heavyweight Champion Batista and ECW Champion Bobby Lashley stood together, awaiting a decision from the Deadman. It didn’t take long for Undertaker to make his decision, making a demonic gesture towards Batista and signifying his WrestleMania intentions as WWE fans roared in approval. A few minutes later, the Phenom would make an emphatic statement, Chokeslamming Batista to the mat and laying the groundwork for what could be one of the most intense matches of each man’s storied career.
WWE fans’ approval of Undertaker’s decision was matched only by the approval of Shawn Michaels, Edge and Randy Orton, all of whom made their way to the ring with an agenda. With the WWE Championship’s fate still left to be determined, the bitter rivals each staked their claim to John Cena’s gold. As the trio argued in the ring, Mr. McMahon made his way towards the stage and made an official ruling. The Chairman decided that HBK, Orton and Edge would meet in Raw’s main event under Triple Threat rules, with the winner earning the right to face Cena at WrestleMania.
As is usually the case when three bitter rivals the likes of HBK, Orton and Edge get in the ring, the competition was as physical and intense as could be. All three individuals poured out their souls in an attempt to earn the right to headline sports-entertainment’s grandest stage. However, as Raw went off the air, only one man could lay claim to the role of Cena’s challenger: The Showstopper, Shawn Michaels. HBK took advantage of the Triple Threat rules, dishing out some Sweet Chin Music to Edge and pinning a previously fallen Randy Orton to pick up the win.
As Raw went off the air, HBK and Cena stood face- to-face in the ring while Undertaker and Batista did the same on stage. On February 18 at SmackDown’s No Way Out pay-per-view, WrestleMania opponents will be forced to team up when Batista & Undertaker face World Tag Team Champions John Cena and HBK.
Mr. McMahon was a busy man on Monday. Halfway through the show, he received word from Executive Assistant Jonathan Coachman that a letter from Donald Trump had arrived at the Tyson Events Center. The note from “The Donald” stated that he would appear next week on a special Thursday night edition of Raw to make a potentially “life-changing proposal” to the WWE Chairman. Mr. McMahon seemed eager to accept, and suggested that Donald Trump may be granted access to join a very special “club.” Which “club” does Mr. McMahon have in mind for the billionaire reality TV star?
For the first time ever, the ECW World Championship was defended on Raw. Bobby Lashley accepted the challenge of a motivated Kenny Dysktra, and made the ECW faithful proud in the process as he disposed of his young opponent with a thunderous Powerslam.
Lashley wasn’t the only Extremist in the building on Monday. By order of Mr. McMahon, ECW Original Balls Mahoney was brought to Raw to face his hand-picked opponent, Umaga. On a mission to extract revenge for the embarrassment Mr. McMahon suffered at the hands of the ECW Originals last week on Sci Fi, the Samoan Bulldozer feasted on Mahoney, punishing him from pillar to post en route to a very impressive victory.
Lashley wasn’t the only champion in action on Raw, either. Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy took on his childhood hero, 16-time World Champion and fellow Carolinian Ric Flair, with a very special stipulation on the line. If the “Nature Boy” beat Hardy, he would earn a rematch with the championship on the line at WrestleMania. Unfortunately for Flair, it wasn’t meant to be as Hardy overcame an injury to his knee to surprise Flair with a rollup for the three-count.
Monday was not a good night for Melina and her man, Johnny Nitro. The former Intercontinental Champion was defeated by the red-hot Super Crazy, who used a thrilling Moonsault to seal the deal.
Moments later, Melina challenged Mickie James for the WWE Women’s Championship. Anticipating victory, the devious Diva ordered extra paparazzi to make the trip to Sioux City for Raw to document her first-ever Women’s Title reign. Unfortunately for Melina, the throngs of paparazzi ended up with a roll of photos documenting her defeat, as Mickie James celebrated another successful title defense. A furious Melina ordered Nitro to remove the photographers from the ring as they continued to snap photos of the distraught Diva.
In other Raw action, The World’s Greatest Tag Team & Chris Masters scored a quick victory over Carlito & Cryme Tyme after Shelton rolled up Carlito for the pin. Later in the night, Carlito was lectured by a peeved and pissed Ric Flair, who was angry that Carlito was not taking his role in the business seriously.