WWE Monday Night Raw comes waltzing back into our lives tonight (Feb. 20, 2012) from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And tonight features all the fallout from the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view last night.
And a potentially bald Undertaker.
That's right, "The Deadman" was shown cutting his hair in a video package that aired last week and with Michael Cole confirming last night that he will be on Raw tonight, live and in person, this will be our first chance to see the new look 'Taker, sans the terrible wig.
In addition to all that, we'll get all the fallout from the Chamber show last night, which saw CM Punk and Daniel Bryan both retain their WWE and world heavyweight championships, respectively.
And don't forget John Laurinaitis and his bid to take over as permanent Raw General Manager.
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 FEB. 20
Broadcast is live.
We start with a video package of Kane and John Cena's various issues over the past few weeks.I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. They show the kiss between Cena and Eve after he saved her and poor Zack Ryder watching it all along.
Time to replay Kane dumping Ryder off the stage in slow-mo on the wheelchair. Awesome bump. Kids crying in the audience, Eve trying to make it look like she's crying, Cena contemplatively watching the ambulance drive off.
We start with a live shot of Eve talking to the Bella Twins about the weather in Minnesota. They ask Eve about Ryder and how his ankle is. "We know you're just friends but he's a great guy."
Eve laughs. She says her and Zack weren't friends and she was just using him. "Zack is an idiot. He didn't even get to first base. He's like a child, I don't even think he would know what to do with a woman like me."
She says she's got the big fish hooked. She used Ryder and now she's going to use John Cena. Wait until we see what she's got in store for him tonight. She asks the Bellas to film her walking into Cena's locker room. Just as she turns around, there he is. She's at a loss for words and he just smiles and walks away.
Good god, she's a terrible actor.
Nickelback ear rape time.
Now that we've survived that, let's start the show. Cena's music hits and the Target Center explodes into cheers and boos, as per usual.
Cole and Lawler put over the ambulance match last night at Elimination Chamber and how Cena got the job done. He's pandering to the crowd in the ring before finally asking for a mic.
Oh dear god, here comes Eve walking down the ramp with a mic. She asks for a minute to explain and she's got some pretty good heat now. She says everything was totally taken out of context.
"First of all, if you're going to talk speak up," Cena responds. He then cuts her off and starts telling the fans the cliff notes of what happened in the back. Says Eve has apparently been "sipping the skank juice."
He then goes on to say because of her he lost a Broski and gained a Hoeski.
Eve is going to be the new Lita then?
Cena says she shouldn't be wasting her time with him. She should hold out for the biggest fish, The Rock. Because she's egotistical and a scandolous bitch just like Rock.
This is about as far away from PG as WWE has gotten in a real long time.
Eve starts crying and falls down to her knees like her feelings are legitimately hurt. Cena walks up like he's concerned and she jumps him, trying to hug and kiss on him. "For your information, I'm disease free, I'd like to keep it that way," he says before dropping the mic and running off while Eve cries in the ring.
Looks like she managed some real tears this time. They've got some WWE personnel out there to really sell this thing like Eve is downright catatonic.
Finally they convince her to get out of the ring and she sobs while the crowd chants, "We want Ryder."
That was awkward as all hell.
Video promo with Undertaker. It's new and 'Taker is saying he's going to write Triple H's ending tonight.
They announce Sheamus as the Royal Rumble winner and the man who will face Daniel Bryan for the world heavyweight championship at WrestleMania 28. He'll face off against "The World's Strongest Man."
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry -- Henry in control early but a high knee from Sheamus gets him back in it. High kick in the corner into the battering ram shoulder block, which gets a two count. This sets up Henry climbing up through the ropes and Sheamus hitting the multiple forearms spot. He gets to six before Henry powers out, as he should.
They brawl some more and trade shots in the corner. Sheamus doing the old Randy Orton nutjob gimmick, going insane on his opponent while the ref pulls him off. He goes for the Brogue Kick but misses and Henry hits a clothesline before a big splash in the corner.
Looks for the World's Strongest Slam but Sheamus gets out and hits the Brogue Kick, which gets the three count for the win.
Cut backstage and John Laurinaitis is talking to David Otunga. A knock at the door brings Teddy Long into the picture. They exchange pleasantries ... well, Laurinaitis does and Long responds with some biting words. Ace claims he didn't know about Henry, Alberto Del Rio and Christian coming out to support him at Chamber last night.
Long says he agrees there should only be one guy running Raw and Smackdown. They yap back and forth and Laurinaitis sets up a match to see who will face CM Punk at WrestleMania. A 10 man battle royal between the 10 men who didn't win in their Chamber matches last night. Huh.
Metallica plays over Undertaker and Triple H teaser.
R-Truth and Kofi Kingston vs. Epico and Primo -- Oh look, it's the tag team champions. They're actually on Raw. This is really rich, too, because Truth and Kingston are tagging together one night after going against each other for no discernible reason.
Truth in control early. Epico tags out to Primo and now it's Kofi in and cleaning house. Hits the boot drop and Rosa distracts the referee long enough to get her guys back in it. Out of nowhere Kingston hits the Trouble in Paradise ad the impromptu tag team of Kofi and Truth get a clean, mostly dominant win over the tag champs in a non-title match.
Just get rid of those worthless belts already. So stupid.
So I guess this battle royal, which they're plugging now, is the way for them to get Jericho is win that they took from him at the Royal Rumble?
The next inductee to the WWE Hall of Fame will be announced next. SPOILER -- It's Ron Simmons.
Here's Chris Jericho for the first time. Backstage interview with Josh Matthews. He brings up how Jericho wasn't technically eliminated. Jericho cuts him off and says it's unfair how last night went. Starts bagging on Punk for letting the victory stand. Once again starts harping on being the best in the world and tonight is the end of the world as we know it.
Man, they really killed him since he had us eating out of the palm of his hand when he first came back, didn't they?
We're getting a match between David Otunga and someone from Smackdown. Laurinaitis comes out with Otunga and will be in his corner. Looks like he gets Ezekial Jackson, who has Long with him.
David Otunga vs. Ezekial Jackson -- I'm actually digging the way they're doing this Laurinaitis vs. Long deal. It actually gives meaning to the brands being separate.
Meanwhile in the ring, Jackson gets in offense early but Otunga battles back with a terrible clothesline that Lawler says was great. He works a headlock and Laurinaitis starts texting. Jackson takes over again with a few power moves but misses a splash in the corner. Otunga hits a modified spinebuster and Jackson jobs with his hands behind his head like he's laying out on the beach.
Laurinaitis mocks Long by getting his attention and giving him a thumbs up sign. Awesome.
Michael Cole marking out ringside and putting over Laurinaitis while Lawler tells him to calm the hell down. We're roughly seven minutes to the top of the hour and that means video package time and a commercial before the Undertaker-Triple H angle.
Sure enough, video package of last week's confrontation between Shawn Michaels and Trips.
They show Undertaker walking in the back but they only show his shoes and the lower half of his legs. They play Metallica again, The Memory Remains from the Re-Load album, which is one of their worst songs, speaking as a big Metallica fan.
Lights go out, fire rising from the stage. Moment of truth. Bald or not bald?
He's wearing a hood that covers most of his head, so we can't see his hair situation but it doesn't look like there's anything in there.
He doesn't do the raise the lights schtick on the steps before climbing in the ring. Not sure if that means anything. I guess that the lights won't be coming up for this segment. Yep, they put a spotlight on him.
At the very least, he's got a full blown goatee.
Looks up at the WrestleMania sign and then starts talking.
"For nearly a year, every passing moment of every passing day, I have lived the memory of the beating that I took at the hands of Triple H last year at WrestleMania."
Not a good start.
"It has been a living hell. Not a physical hell, because the wounds have all healed. It's been a hell of uncertainty. An uncertainty that I can no longer bear. So three weeks ago I came in this very ring and I challenged Triple H for one more match at WrestleMania. To end the uncertainty forever."
"WHAT" treatment now.
"And never in my wildest nightmares would I expect the answer that I got. He said no. But you see, Hunter, you missed the point. The choice was not yours to make. This has to come to an end. We are on the verge of apocalypse. The apocalypse of an era of wrestling. We, whether you like it or not, are the last of our kind. So the suit, the tie, all the corporate liabilities, they're just layers to cover up who you really are. We have to end the uncertainty. This is something that you cannot lie to yourself about, you can lie to Shawn about ... but you will not lie to me. You will come out here and you will look me in the eyes. This thing, Triple H, is far bigger than you and I. It is, and I repeat, the apocalypse."
Finally, here comes Triple H.
The lights come up for "The Game" as he walks out. They go back low after he climbs inside the ropes.
Trips starts talking about looking him in the eye a few weeks ago and 'Taker outright tells him to shut up. He says it's pitiful that Triple H has so many excuses not to do this. Hunter says he gets it and it is the end of an era but they're fate is not to end it but their fate is to ensure that it carries on. His fate is to ensure that the WWE exists in the future. 'Taker's fate is to be the leader to carry that torch for the next generation. To lead the way. Triple H won't be the one to extinguish that flame because it's bad for business.
He goes to walk out and 'Taker stops him.
"Is it bad for business if I'm gone ... or is it bad for business that you'll be gone?"
Triple H says it's just plain bad for business. "Here's the thing, I get it. While you have spent the last year living in a supposed uncertainty, I have never been more certain of anything in my life. And I think, quite honestly, if you look inside yourself, you're really certain of it, too. You're not asking me for redemption, for salvation, for a shot at vengeance, you're asking me for an end. I know what I have to do to beat you. I have to finish you. And deep down inside, that's really what you want, isn't it? I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to be the one that finishes it."
Undertaker says he can put whatever spin he wants on it but at the end of the day when Trips looks in a mirror, all he's going to see is a coward.
So this is how they're going to get Triple H to accept the match. "I am sick to death of this coward thing. You want coward?"
Then he stops and smiles. "I see what you're trying to do and it's not going to work. I'm sorry but the answer's no."
And then he walks off, leaving 'Taker in the ring. The Deadman says he thinks he just figured it out. "You know that you can't do what your buddy Shawn Michaels couldn't do because you know Shawn was always better than you."
Oh, shit, this just got awesome.
Really cool shot of 'Taker in the ring and Trips at the ramp with the titantron showing him behind 'Taker. Triple H takes his coat and tie off and turns around. He starts walking down the ramp and back to the ring. He's pissed, you guys.
Triple H says this has nothing to do about whether or not he's better than Shawn. He can do what Michaels couldn't and they all know it. The crowd chants at him to "prove it."
So he cuts a big promo before finally accepting the match. He says if they do it, they go all the way. "No return. No uncertainty. No excuses. The Streak ends, the era ends, you get your end. We do this, we go all the way. I will face you at WrestleMania under one condition ... Hell in a Cell."
Big pop from the crowd. And that, my friends, is the perfect use of that match.
This time, 'Taker slaps Triple H on the shoulder and walks out suddenly. Metallica once again plays as he walks out. He turns around at the top of the ramp and gets a good camera shot. A smile and out he goes.
Cole confirms that Triple H vs. Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match is going down at WrestleMania 28.
Daniel Bryan makes his entrance and he's cutting a promo. He says based on his accomplishments, everyone considers him a role model. He defeated five men inside the Elimination Chamber and he's still the world heavyweight champion. Starts in with the Diego Sanchez YES schtick.
Uh-oh, Santino Marella comes rolling out.
Daniel Bryan vs. Santino Marella -- Bryan charges and Santino ducks under and starts landing punches. About 10 seconds into the match, the crowd gets over chanting Santino's name. He hits his usual splits spot and goes for the Cobra. Bryan knocks him down, though. Santino counters a back suplex with a roll up but only gets two. Bryan locks in the LeBell Lock and that gets teh tap for the win.
We're told again that Smackdown is live tomorrow night and Punk vs. Bryan is booked for it.
John Cena will return tonight to speak about his WrestleMania opponent. Lawler -- "Oh yeah, more John Cena."
Good god, man.
Diva's are up next so I'm taking a minute.
The Bella Twins had a match against Kelly Kelly and Aksana and they pulled their switch-a-roo to get the win after about one minute.
Cena already in the ring. Says before he got interrupted by "The Skankopotamus." Seriously, to hell with this idiot.
He's going off on Rock with a promo attacking all the people around him. The crowd boos him. Says he's supposed to say he looks forward to WrestleMania because he respects the Rock but he doesn't. He respects Dwayne Johnson for what he's accomplished, which is multiple box office number one hits.
He goes off on the same old talking points. Rock is never around and he is and all that crap. He openly says he's still pissed about the same shit he was pissed about seven years ago. He's talking in his gangster voice off and on, though. Hmmm.
"Vince is probably going to fine me for this one but the only reason he came back the first time was to promote Fast Five and launch his Twitter account."
That's the real deal and now we're shooting, folks. Shit just got real.
Uh-oh, he used the word professional wrestler. Apologized to the back first, though. He's really going off. "This got real, real quick. I want you guys to enjoy all this."
You can't say it's real when you're going real.
He keeps going off and says he'll see Rock next week, "movie star."
That was probably the best promo Cena has done in years.
They introduce CM Punk and he's wearing his suit coat. He'll be doing commentary for the battle royal, which immediately makes it the highlight of the night. This is going to be awesome.
This is a terrible way to determine who gets a title shot against the WWE champion, though.
Here are the participants for this thing (in order of their respective entrances):
Everyone is going at it at once so there isn't much I can say here. Punk makes a Mirko Cro Cop reference for what he did to Jericho last night. Everyone gangs up on Great Khali and they send him out.
Eliminated: Great Khali
They come back and Miz is nearly getting tossed while Punk and Cole bicker back and forth. They tease Show going out and it doesn't happen then a few teases of Miz getting tossed before he finally gets put out.
Eliminated: The Miz
Double chokeslam from Big Show on Kingston and Truth. Codebreaker from Jericho on Show. Ziggler hits the Zig Zag, everyone getting finishers. Barrett tries to toss Santino and he goes out. Truth goes after him and he gets dumped as well.
Eliminated: Wade Barrett
Ziggler drills Santino and Show picks him up and sends him flying.
Eliminated: Dolph Ziggler
Five guys still in there and they're all attacking Show. Until Rhodes and Kingston start going at each other. Crowd went nuts for Marella sending out Barrett and Truth, by the way.
Suddenly, Rhodes knocks Kofi out.
Eliminated: Kofi Kingston
Cole called him Kofi Rhodes and Punk called him out for it, which was funny. They're doing stretcher jobs for Barrett, who looks like he could actually be hurt. He's not selling like it's a fake injury, although Truth is also laid out and selling like he's kayfabe hurt. They were initially saying Ziggler was the on hurt. Truth goes out on his own power while all the guys in the ring attack Show.
Jericho almost sends out Santino but he stays in and hits the cobra on Jericho. Rhodes sends him out anyway and he hits Barrett who is still down on the outside.
Eliminated: Santino Marella
Show dumps Cody and we're down to two.
Eliminated: Cody Rhodes
Rhodes comes back to try to interfere but Show sends him off easy. Show looks for the chokeslam but Jericho grabs a guillotine. They go over the top rope and Rhodes comes running back to help send Show out. That means Jericho vs. Punk at 'Mania 28 is now official, which Cole announces.
Punk climbs in the ring and offers Jericho his hand. Y2J doesn't take it, instead backing away. Punk's music plays and Jericho points at the WrestleMania sign.
Fade to black.