Ric Flair Challenged WWE Champion Randy Orton to a "Fight to the Finish"
Orton's promo to kick off the show effectively hyped up his upcoming Steel Cage match against Batista at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view as well as Batista's Raw match with Cody Rhodes. Orton standing inside the steel cage as he spoke was a cool visual, while Flair interrupting him wasn't exactly a shocker considering he had a regular role on Raw since coming to Batista's aid at the Judgement Day event the month prior. He was in Flair mode here as he looked completely crazy in challenging Orton to an unsanctioned fight later on in the night.
Batista def. Cody Rhodes in a Steel Cage Match
This was never meant to be a competitive contest but rather a quick warm-up for Batista heading into his Steel Cage match with Orton that Sunday. Rhodes deserved better than being beaten in a matter of minutes, but it was interesting that Ted DiBiase (the other member of Legacy) was being protected way more than Rhodes because they expected him to amount to much more. Eight years later, that is far from the case.
Divas Champion Maryse and Beth Phoenix def. Kelly Kelly and Mickie James
It was weird watching this match with how different women's wrestling is today in WWE. Nowadays, the ladies will usually receive as much time as the men, but here, they got only a few minutes and none of the match was good whatsoever. Kelly Kelly was embarrassingly bad in the ring and even a short match such as this one found a way to be terrible. The intent was to further the feud between James and Maryse, so I guess it succeeded in that respect.
Unified Tag Team Champions Carilto and Primo Colon def. William Regal and Matt Hardy
The storyline had been that Regal and Hardy were doing Raw general manager Vickie Guerrero's bidding for a few weeks in an attempt to earn shots at the United States Championship, and obviously here they were given a non-title match with the tag champs. Honestly, it was a rather boring bout for the four minutes it lasted, but it did tease tension between Hardy and Regal, which cost them the victory.
John Cena and Chavo Guerrero def. The Miz and Big Show
Needless to say, Chavo serving as Cena's partner for this match was planned ahead of time by Vickie to stack the deck against Cena, but they were able to tell a few different stories with Cena exacting a measure of revenge against Miz and Show and allow the alliance between the heels to implode as well. They went all out in sending the message that Cena was physically unable to lock in a submission hold on Show, playing into their Submission match that Sunday.
Kofi Kingston def. MVP to Win the United States Championship
Fans didn't have an incentive to cheer for one babyface over the other, so they were relatively quiet early on (which was a recurring theme throughout the night), but they came alive down the stretch as Kingston and MVP delivered a terrific title match. They had fantastic chemistry as opponents, so I'm surprised they never engaged in another one-on-one encounter after this. The crowd popped for the title change and this would kick off a really fun run from Kingston. It was also a sign officials intended to make his push a priority from that point forward.
Raw General Manager Vickie Guerrero vs. Santino Marella Went to a No Contest
There was a backstage segment earlier in the evening where Hardy and Regal revealed that Vickie would be facing Santino six days ahead of her match with Santina Marella at Extreme Rules (stupid, I know), and they basically said that they would aid her. The match never came to fruition, but the heels did help Vickie ambush Santino to give fans the idea there was a chance she could win her Hog Pen match (spoiler alert: she didn't).
WWE Champion Randy Orton and Ric Flair Fought to a Finish
Theoretically, yes, it was slightly silly that Orton, the WWE Champion, took so much abuse from an old man, but the brawl was well done and was a lot less tame than the street fights of today. Being the typical sleazeball heel he was, Orton enlisted the assistance of Legacy to trap Flair in the ring with him, forcing Batista to look on from afar as he beat him to a literal bloody pulp and punt him in the head. That was a hell of an ending heading into the event.
A vast majority of this edition of Raw centered around the Orton, Batista and Flair saga as well as Vickie, Hardy, Regal and Santino, but both angles were progressed in a way that was easy to follow and resulted in entertaining television. The Orton and Flair fight ended the night on a high note, but the show was supported by an excellent United States Championship match and title change as well as solid stuff from the Cena and Show rivalry, so this was a quality episode on the whole.
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