Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho Brawled; Kane Apologized to Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler
I absolutely loved how the show opened with Shane and Stephanie McMahon talking about how the WWE Universe had to "band together" in the absence of their father, yet the first thing we see is Jericho and Michaels brawling around ringside. That was fantastic, along with Kane coming down and "apologizing" to the commentators for his unwarranted actions the week prior. Stuff like this helps break away from the tired formula we see all too often on Raw.
Women's Champion Mickie James def. Katie Lea (Non-title)
Katie Lea was still relatively inexperienced at this point, but working with someone as seasoned as James was only going to help her cause. I don't remember if this was as good as or even better than their encounter at Night of Champions, but as a standalone match, it was a treat. It also tied in nicely to the subsequent Intercontinental Championship match between Paul Burchill and Kofi Kingston heading into the commercial break.
Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston def. Paul Burchill
This was another instance where the impromptu title match added to the feeling that anything can happen on Raw at any time. To boot, Kingston and Burchill were allotted a decent amount of time for their championship clash and they made the most of it with their entertaining encounter. James and Katie Lea fighting at ringside helped further that feud and the crowd was engaged in the action the entire time.
Beth Phoenix def. Santino Marella
Although this was a fun little angle and in line with what you would expect from the Marella character, it did damage to Marella's credibility as an in-ring competitor. It wouldn't matter if he was nothing more than comic relief, but he ended up winning the Intercontinental Championship the following month. On the bright side, this would serve a purpose since Phoenix and Marella became "Glamarella" not long after this.
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan Confronted World Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase
The whole storyline with DiBiase and Rhodes was that they disrespected "old school" and proclaimed that they were "born better." It was a simple enough tactic to help them generate heat, it would just take time. Duggan hadn't been around in a while, but this was an awesome use of him because he was perfect in this role. How could you know feel for Duggan when DiBiase and Rhodes were verbally attacking him?
World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk def. Kane (Non-title)
During their backstage confrontation earlier in the evening, I liked that Punk and Kane played off their history as partners on the ECW brand, also acknowledging why both of them needed this match. Kane starting carrying around a burlap sack on this show, leading to speculation he was bringing his old mask back, but as noted, that wouldn't be the case. As a match, this was good, albeit nothing special. Of course, Punk was a mere two weeks into his world title reign, but he was still being booked like a midcard act. In fact, Kane was more interesting than him as the menacing monster. Batista saving Punk from Kane's post-match attack was really the only build we received for their Great American Bash match.
Chris Jericho def. Paul London
Cole made mention of how London grew up idolizing Michaels, yet completely ignored how London's former tag team partner Brian Kendrick was actually trained by him similar to Lance Cade. I honestly thought London had a ton of potential as a singles star, but apparently WWE didn't feel the same way because he was gone from the company a few months later (perhaps his rumored attitude problem played a part in that). This was a nice little match for what it was, and Jericho looked ruthless before his bout with Michaels that Sunday. I'll never complain about seeing Jericho lock in the Lion Tamer, either, and Michael's post-match promo was short yet spectacular.
Snitsky Attacked Jamie Noble
Noble went from being a pest heel to becoming a sympathetic figure in the matter of one night. Snitsky was far from a threat at this point, and the only thing he was good for was beating up on fellow enhancement talent. As pointless as this may have seemed, it was the start of a storyline between Noble and Layla, and if nothing else, it didn't drag on and Noble sold the beating well.
John Cena and Cryme Tyme def. JBL and World Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and TEd DiBiase by Disqualification
We had pretty much seen it all from Cena and JBL after everything they had done together in the first half of 2008 (and even in 2005), so I appreciated how they attempted to incorporate some new blood into the mix with Cryme Tyme, DiBiase and Rhodes. Both tag teams rose to the occasion and delivered a solid main event matchup. I was glad the heels were protected in defeat and Cena didn't beat the new tag team champs so decisively. The show closing angle looked hokey as hell because Cena would have been killed if JBL actually connected with the car, but it was obviously WWE's last-ditch effort to get fans excited about their pending Parking Lot Brawl.
While this show wasn't quite as chaotic as the week prior, you could definitely tell there was a lack of order without a general manager running things, though I'm not sure if it led to a ratings surge as WWE may have hoped. At any rate, this show was successful in hyping up Raw's main matches for The Great American Bash, but I slightly disappointed the world title picture took a backseat heading into the event and Cena vs. JBL took center stage.
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