John Cena and Jeff Hardy Confronted WWE Champion Triple H
It was long overdue that we had some fresh blood in the WWE Championship picture, and as rushed as Cena vs. HHH might have seemed at the time, it was the biggest money match they could do. Besides, they were destined to go their separate ways in the WWE Draft weeks later, so WWE might as well have done the marquee match while they still could. Hardy received a bit of shine here as well and it was a pleasant surprise he wasn't being pushed down the card coming off his 60 day suspension.
Mr. Kennedy def. Umaga
This was classic bait-and-switch heel work, and I was glad they didn't go to Kennedy vs. Paul Burchill so soon after the program started. It was unfortunate Umaga had to be the fall guy in this situation, and he shouldn't have lost as often and as decisively as he did, but this was still a solid match. Kennedy was gradually getting over as a babyface and this progressed the Kennedy-Burchill story nicely.
Mr. McMahon Announced the Rules of "McMahon's Million Dollar Mania"
As I noted in my previous review, "McMahon's Million Dollar Mania" had disaster written all over it. Fans had low expectations and rightfully so. It was cool some people were able to win cash, but it was such a desperate ratings ploy, and the execution was awful. Whether some fans came off as complete marks on the phone, McMahon dialed the wrong number, or McMahon tried too hard to make it all about himself, nothing about this concept was worthwhile whatsoever.
Santino Marella and Carlito def. World Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly (Non-title)
This really wasn't a continuation of the feud as it was an opportunity to tell a few different stories. First of all, Roddy Piper was sitting at ringside, and his involvement actually led to his rivals Santino and Carlito picking up the non-title win. Meanwhile, the miscommunication between Holly and Rhodes led to tension being teased heading into Night of Champions with Ted DiBiase continuing to play mind games with them.
Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho def. JBL by Disqualification
Despite portraying a tweener in his feud with Shawn Michaels at the time, Jericho was still technically a face when this match happened, and he was obviously going to be the fan favorite versus JBL. Their in-ring chemistry improved over time following their feud earlier in the year, so this was a solid showing from them. Again, I didn't mind the non-finish because it allowed Jericho to further his heel turn by refusing to attack JBL with a chair and appear to be conflicted. The Intercontinental Championship was lost in all of this, though.
Beth Phoenix and Katlie Lea Burchill def. Women's Champion Mickie James and Melina
Phoenix and Melina had a fun feud going and it was nice to get James involved back in the mix to kick off her feud with Katie Lea. She was more than competent in the ring, so she was a welcome addition to the Raw women's division. They produced one of the better women's matches on Raw in recent memory and everyone played their part well. Katie Lea scoring the upset victory over the champion would later lead to her challenging for the championship at Night of Champions.
Lance Cade def. Trevor Murdoch
I would have waited to do the first one-on-one match between these two, especially after nothing was done to progress the program the week prior, but it was apparent officials wanted to move past this as quickly as possible. They had more prominent plans for Cade while this might have been Murdoch's final match in the company before being released a mere month later. That said, Cade was the right man to win here.
John Cena def. Jeff Hardy in a WWE Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
I believe this marked the first ever one-on-one in-ring encounter between these two, and they did not disappoint. Hardy more than held his own against an established main event star in Cena while Cena looked great here as well. Hardy lost nothing in defeat and may have even turned a few heads with his performance, proving he could hang at the main event level. On a funny side note, if you watch closely, you'll see a fan jump the barricade and attempt to run into the ring early on in this match. The way Cena and Hardy brushed it off was priceless.
Coming off the hot One Night Stand pay-per-view, this was a decent follow-up edition of Raw. They instantly set the stage for Night of Champions for the WWE Championship and Women's Championship matches, and the World Tag Team Championship match was already pretty apparent. McMahon's promo was whatever, as was Cade vs. Murdoch, but on the whole, this was an average episode with a memorable main event.
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