Bank on it: MVP & Carlito cash in

Bank on it: MVP & Carlito cash in

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- United States Champion Montel Vontavious Porter and Carlito will be enemies this Sunday in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, as a championship contract hangs above them at WrestleMania.

But for one night at the Colonial Center, the "Franchise Playa" and the cool customer worked like a well-oiled machine, defeating Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho & former ECW Champion CM Punk in a Money in the Bank preview on Raw.  Watch the video | Photos

In the end, it was a mistake by Y2J that cost his team the match. As Punk and MVP fought, the U.S. Champ ducked Jericho's enzuiguri attempt and it caught Punk's chin, stunning the Straightedge Superstar. Carlito pulled the Intercontinental Champ from the ring, allowing the SmackDown Superstar to roll up Punk for the pinfall.

As the foursome stepped from the ring, they knew that the pinfall wouldn't matter this Sunday. Only the man that pulls the prized Money in the Bank briefcase from its 20-foot-high perch at the Citrus Bowl will make his championship dreams become reality.

"Old Yeller?!"

At home in "Flair Country," Ric Flair told the Colonial Center crowd that he had lost respect for his friend and WrestleMania opponent, Shawn Michaels -- who made a crucial save in Flair's match against Mr. McMahon last week. Flair blasted HBK for having no confidence in him against the Chairman.

The Showstopper came to the ring, and swore he was doing what he thought Flair would have done in the same circumstance. He again promised to leave everything in the ring against the "Nature Boy," and Flair reiterated that he expected nothing less from "Mr. WrestleMania." He showed HBK his NWA World Championship Title that he won in 1981, and said he wanted Michaels to bring out the best in him for one more night.  Watch the video | Photos

As HBK turned to leave, he reminded Flair of the story of "Old Yeller" and how a family had to put their cherished dog out of its misery when it was sick. HBK promised to dispatch the "Nature Boy's" career in a similar manner, which enraged Flair enough to slap The Showstopper twice in the face. Michaels left the angry "Nature Boy" fuming in the ring. 

Giant problems

In a preview of the 24-man Battle Royal at WrestleMania, The Great Khali established himself as the odds-on favorite to earn an ECW Championship opportunity by defeating one-half of the World Tag Team Champions, Hardcore Holly.  Photos

In a match famous for its "everyone for themselves" attitude, it'll likely take a group effort to topple the Punjabi giant in the Citrus Bowl.

Gender bending

A one-on-one Divas contest between Maria and Melina became an Intergender Tag Team Match as Ashley, Beth Phoenix, Santino Marella and Jerry "The King" Lawler got involved in the proceedings.

With intergender rules allowing men to wrestle women, Marella frequently found himself grappling in the ring with his former girlfriend and current Playboy cover girl.

But as Maria sent Santino to the outside, Melina and The Glamazon swept out Maria's legs with a crushing chop block from behind. Santino rolled back into the ring and covered his former love interest for the 1-2-3. Watch the video | Photos

After the match, it was learned that Ashley will replace the injured Candice Michelle in the BunnyMania Match at WrestleMania, as she and Maria will face Beth Phoenix and Melina.

Eight is enough

General Manager William Regal ordered eight of WWE's top Superstars battling this Sunday to face off in the night's main event. In the no-disqualification "WrestleMania Showcase" Eight-Man Tag Team Match, John Cena, Triple H, Ric Flair & Shawn Michaels competed against Big Show, Umaga, John "Bradshaw" Layfield & WWE Champion Randy Orton. But few of the combatants stayed in the ring for long, being pulled away by their WrestleMania opponents.

With only HBK and Flair left to face Orton, the Nature Boy went for his patented Figure-Four Leglock, but HBK broke up the attempt. Still seething from Michaels' promise earlier in the evening that he'd end Flair's "misery" at WrestleMania, the Dirtiest Player in the Game low-blowed his friend, then slapped the Figure-Four on Orton until the WWE Champion tapped out. Read the full story... | Watch the video | Photos

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