WWE Monday Night Raw comes waltzing back into our lives tonight (March 19, 2012) from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvani. And tonight features an in-ring confrontation with Undertaker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels all getting involved.
It's a geriatric party!
The Rock is also in town once again, hopefully with something other than high school insults. With just two weeks left until WrestleMania 28, Rocky has yet to say anything meaningful, other than his measurements are just as impressive as John Cena's.
That's not to let Cena off the hook. He hasn't come back with much better than bagging on Rock's kayfabe shortcomings while threatening to teabag him. But at least he's mostly topical. Cena is also advertised for a match against Mark Henry.
All that and more.
Raw starts at 9 p.m. ET time on USA, so be sure to make your way back here to chat with all your favorite Cagesiders during the show. It's always a fun time. Raw live blog after the jump.
WWE RAW RESULTS AND LIVE BLOG MARCH 19:
Broadcast is live.
(Insert bad Nickelback insult here.)
Fireworks and pyro like crazy in Philly, which is sold out. That's three Raw's in a row they've managed to sell out.
Hey, is tonight the night Undertaker finally ditches the hood and shows us he's bald? Stay tuned!
John Cena vs. Mark Henry. How will the car crash earlier affect the former? Don't go anywhere!
First, though, the WWE champion has something to say. Old CM Punk looks really upset, you guys. They replay last week's segment with Chris Jericho breaking down why Punk is straight edge, namely because his father is an alcoholic.
We're in Philadelphia, so the crowd is hot for the champ.
He starts by letting everyone know Jericho is not in the building. He goes into Jericho bringing up his father and his alcohol issues and how it was bullshit how he brought it up in front of the world. It's a story that will be told but he's not the one who should have been telling it. Not like that.
Punk says he sees everyone in the crowd, kids, moms and dads and there isn't anyone who hasn't seen or somehow been affected by alcoholism. Jericho wants to make light of a sensitive subject just for an advantage at WrestleMania? It goes to show Jericho doesn't know him at all. And it's backfired on Y2J now because if there's a monster in Punk, he's going to let it out at 'Mania.
"I refuse to let my past dictate my future," he says. You kind of are saying you will, though, dude.
Punk now says his father overcame his addiction and he beat those demons. He even says he's "proud" of his father. Jericho is just an obstacle and he'll run through him on April 1.
Cue music but WAIT! Jericho on the Titantron.
He's "live via satellite." Right.
He actually starts apologizing. Says "this is Chris talking, no Jericho, no fancy jackets." He keeps saying sorry and that he never should have brought it up and he hopes Punk accepts his apology. He vows never to bring up Punk's dad again.
However, his sister is a whole other ballgame.
Now Jericho's going after Punk's sister and insinuating that she whored herself out for drugs. He lays out the pattern of substance abuse issues running in Punk's family. He can overcome that, though. What he won't be able to overcome is when Jericho beats him at WrestleMania.
Punk snaps and starts cursing, so USA bleeps it out. Something along the lines of Jericho is full of shit and that's exactly what Punk is going to beat out of him.
Really strong opening segment.
Cut to the back where we see Kane and Big Show walking. They're in action against each other up next.
Kane vs. Big Show -- Kane's already in the ring making fire come out of the posts just by dramatically raising his arms up and throwing them down with authority. I've tried this multiple times and nothing ever happens. Just a slight tearing of the muscles in my underworked arms.
They keep giving us shots of Show from just underneath him and it's making me weep for the few million folks who are watching this right now.
Cody Rhodes is here and he'll be on commentary. Time for another embarrassing WrestleMania moment. This time it's just a montage of various embarrassing situations he's found himself in at the Granddaddy of them All.
Show and Kane battle for about 20 seconds before Rhodes distracts Show long enough for Kane to send Show flying off the top rope. That gets the pinfall. Now Rhodes is attacking the big man. He actually handcuffs Show to the ropes and now he's in the ring with boxing gloves on. Rhodes is just teeing off on him now. Looks like a few potatoes.
Cody taking liberties here?
Show looks really pissed and with some of those shots, he really might be. He's selling the shit out of those punches, acting completely out of it and unable to walk.
Because WWE assumes you weren't watching 60 seconds ago, they replay what just occurred.
David Otunga's music hits and he's out with John Laurinaitis at his side. Otunga doing a Chris Masters type gimmick with a jacket draped over him that he tosses off before posing.
And he did it better than Masters.
Now it's time for our funny guy, Santino Marella, who is, of course, accompanied by Teddy Long.
Santino Marella vs. David Otunga -- Santino drops his straps and shows off a drawn on six-pack. They start doing a little posedown challenge and Marella brings it to an end when he hurts a muscle in his leg. He forgets about this pretty quick, though, doing the splits spot into the Cobra.
Laurinaitis' cell phone ends up in the ring and it distracts Santino long enough for Otunga to recover and get the spinebuster for the pin. Laurinaitis mocks Marella by doing the trombone celebration. He gets in Long's face and Teddy straight SLAPS him.
Ace chases him but Long runs up the ramp and starts dancing at the top.
Time for a video flashback of Triple H accepting Undertaker's match. They're not even calling this a Hell in a Cell match. They're calling it an "End of an Era" match.
The Rock is next.
A promo video with Japanese kanji on what appears to be someone's body. Lord Tensai? I was hoping for Hakushi.
The Rock is standing by the Rock Balboa statue. Literally no one in the Philly crowd cares. Wow. References "City of Brotherly Love," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" but says the city is best known for "ass kickers." Well, Rock, know it's known for ass kissers. Ugh.
He shows an old photo of a 12-year old Rocky Maivia in front of the Rocky statue. He says he looked like a chunky little girl with his pebbles hanging out of his short shorts. Well, which is it, Rock?! Did you look like a girl or did you have balls?
Rock brings up watching WrestleMania the next year with Hulk Hogan. He brings up a few years later when he saw The Ultimate Warrior. Then he brings up his WrestleMania XV main event against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Jokingly says he Stunned Austin that night and won.
He says he made a promise to beat the best. He beat Austin, he beat them all and now he's going to Cena. Some play Philly pandering as Rock talks about how he's going to beat Cena. Lots of namedropping of landmark Philly locales. Now he references Mick Foley, Ric Flair and Randy Savage? This is really just promo by the numbers at this point.
Crowd is more lively by the end of the promo, I'll give The Rock that much, though.
YES~! YES~! YES~!
It's Daniel Bryan with the lovely A.J.! He's taking on Zack Ryder after the break.
And we're back with Ryder making his way to the ring. They show a clip of "Long Island Iced Z" before the show, getting some fans all riled up to see him at WrestleMania.
They lock up and Ryder bounces off the ropes, shoulder block knows the champ down. Ryder off the ropes again and gets leveled with a knee to the gut. Bryan goes on the attack, using the bottom rope to choke his challenger. A two count for Bryan who then slaps on a headlock. Elbows to the gut break Ryder free and he whips Bryan to the corner.
DAMN! Ryder nails Bryan with a STIFF boot and looks to hit the Rough Ryder. Bryan catches him mid-air and pancakes him onto the mat, securing the LeBell Lock for the quick tap.
Bryan celebrates in the ring with beautiful, beautiful A.J.
The WWE teases that John Cena may not be as fine as he claims to be after his car accident this morning.
Cena vs. Henry next.
John Cena vs. Mark Henry -- Cena out first and he gets a huge reaction, good and bad as usual. The dude just commands a response.
Speaking of commanding things, here comes a now healthy "World's Strongest Man."
They tie up and Henry tosses Cena across the ring. They repeat the process one more time with Cena actually sliding under the rope and heading out to regroup. He comes back in and tries to topple the giant once more but gets slammed to the mat for his troubles.
Henry looking like the monster he was throughout the end of 2011. He's just dogging Cena while screaming at him like a frigging beast.
Not surprisingly, Cena is mounting a comeback as they fade back in with the crowd marking hard for it but Henry squashes it with a clothesline and screams like he's Ultimate Warrior while shaking the ropes. That was epic.
He hits a big splash and attempts a pinfall but it's a no go. Nonetheless, he keeps smashing Cena all over the ring. Henry looks awesome. Cena hits a side suplex on Henry out of nowhere before hitting the five-knuckle shuffle. Henry gets up, they tease finishers from both guys but Cena ultimately gets his and the pin.
Right after the pin, the Rock's music hits and he comes waltzing out to a huge ovation. He paces at the top of the ramp before running down and hitting Mark Henry with a Rock Bottom.
He says something to Cena and then bails out.
What the hell was that all about?
Oh, okay, they replay and show Rock staring at Cena after hitting the Rock Bottom and underlining the text on his chest -- Boots to Asses -- before knocking his heart twice and walking off.
Time for another video replay, this time Shawn Michaels announcing he'll be special guest referee. They'll close this show tonight.
Time to show the angle on Extra that led to the Diva's tag match at WrestleMania, which was actually done pretty well. Maria Menounos is probably just as good or better than any of the current crop of Divas on TV right now.
Back to the ring and Miz is complaining. Hey, he's talking about major WrestleMania drop offs from one card to the next! Kanenite shout out!!!!
Miz says he's determined and focused and he hopes John Laurinaitis is watching this next match because he really wants on Ace's team at 'Mania. Cue Sheamus coming down to end all that talk.
Miz vs. Sheamus -- Miz starts off getting some offense in but Sheamus quickly reverses and does the strong spot where he throws his opponent up onto his shoulders. Every time it looks like he's going to hurt both himself and his opponent.
He hits it this time but Miz reverses not long after and now he's in control. That doesn't last long, of course, and Sheamus starts stomping a mudhole in Miz in the corner. Didn't walk it dry, though. Near fall and Sheamus calls for the Brogue Kick. He misses and Miz counters with a kick to the gut. He runs the ropes and ends up eating the Brogue Kick anyway.
Miz loses again.
They show Laurinaitis and Otunga in the back watching the show and they don't look impressed with this guy who keeps telling us he's awesome but loses every time he's on TV.
They replay the opening segment from tonight with Jericho and Punk before revealing Randy Orton will speak next on his WrestleMania 28 match against Kane.
They've got Josh Matthews up near the ramp with a nice little stage set up, old school style. It perfectly frames the WrestleMania sign, of course. Out comes Orton to a nice ovation.
Matthews asks how he plans on beating the monster. Orton responds by asking how the monster plans on beating him.
Probably by dragging you under the ring and having his way with you, sir.
Orton brings up the fact that they're only having a match this year because of how badly Randall beat him last summer. He became human that night, you see, but now he's a monster again. He doesn't care about any identity crisis, because he's just old Randall Orton.
Not a great promo. Could have been awesome if he busted out the old Legend Killer gimmick.
They show a video package for the be a STAR campaign.
Always great heat for Vickie Guerrero. She introduces Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler as the two newest members of Team John Laurinaitis. God, Swagger's hair looks terrible.
Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth and Kofi Kingston -- The babyfaces are already in the ring coming back from break and they're busy trying to keep Aksana away from Vickie. They manage to get the screaming ladies away from each other long enough to start the match and the babyfaces control early. Swagger keeps working spots in the corner to distract the referee long enough to allow Ziggler to get some illegal offense in.
Ziggler just tags in now but Kofi goes for a sliding back pin that fails. Zig man hits a drop kick right after and tags Swagger back in so we can spend more time looking at his bad hairstyle.
They do a spot teasing a hot tag from Kofi while he's on Jack's shoulders. Instead, Kingston hits a DDT. Both guys tag out and now Truth comes in running wild with Ziggler bumping like crazy for him. Nice spot with Swagger trying to make the save on a pin but Truth moving away so Swag hits Ziggler.
The finish comes next with Ziggler hitting the Zig Zag and getting the pin after Vickie pushed Truth's foot off the bottom rope, which the referee didn't see.
Aksana comes over and pushes her. Now they're in the ring and tearing at each other's hair. Aksana gets full mount and starts working her over. The fellas pull them off each other and that's that.
They show footage of last night's house show at Madison Square Garden with Triple H stealing all of Undertaker's signature moves. The throat slash, the tombstone, the crossed arms pinfall, the tongue out on said pinfall.
They're up next, folks.
Main event time and Shawn Michaels comes out first. He gets an HBK chant, even. He'll speak before the other two get here.
He says the match will be the end of an era but everyone is talking about him instead. He says that's no surprise. Touts his accomplishments. I love this heelish version of the Heartbreak Kid. He says it's pretty darn cool knowing he holds an entire era in the palm of his hand.
Michaels now turns to the ramp and addresses Undertaker directly, saying the end of an era is just code for the end of his streak. He keeps talking but is interrupted by the iconic ...
HBK tries to talk before 'Taker gets the chance to but the Deadman tells him to shut up and listen. He reminds the Showstopper that this match has to stay pure, so before he and his buddy Triple H start making plans ...
"IT'S TIME TO PLAY THE GAME!"
It took about 15 minutes but they're all in the ring now, lights all the way up.
Triple H tells Undertaker he needs to stop worrying about HBK. Because as much as Michaels' ego wants this to be about him, it's not. It's all about Undertaker and Trips.
"The Game" trumps his record in Hell in a Cell matches, where he learned how to end careers and devastate fellow fake fighters. It's all led to April 1 where he'll do that to 'Taker. All the while, Michaels is in the background with a shit-eating grin on his face.
Undertaker asks if Triple H is ready to put everything on the line -- his wife, his job, the company, the BUSINESS, his friends, all that jazz. Trips says he is and he will do just that. 'Taker steps back with a contemplative look on his face before turning and starting to walk away. He goes to climb out of the ring but stops and turns around.
He walks back up to Triple H and takes a long time to say anything. "You remember when I said Shawn is better than you? He is."
Michaels smiles real big standing right next to Triple H. Then he walks out and the two former D-Generation X members stare each other down. They continue looking at each other with various expressions of anger and joy.
Fade to black.