Randy Orton Confronted Batista
The week prior, Batista lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Chris Jericho in a Steel Cage match and came out on this edition of Raw demanding his rematch. Stephanie McMahon then informed him that wouldn't be possible before announcing a few matches for the night. Batista also challenged Orton to a match on this show once he came out and the two talked about their history in Evolution, essentially putting their program into motion. This segment successfully set the tone for the remainder of the night with so many marquee matches on tap.
William Regal def. Santino Marella to Win the Intercontinental Championship
For months, Marella had a "Honk-a-Meter" going to track his days as Intercontinental Champion, and that came to an abrupt halt on this show. I remember this moment fondly as I was and still am a huge fan of Regal, though I do admit it was a bit of an anticlimactic end to Marella's title reign that had momentum. The match lasted no more than a minute, but it was cool for Regal to pick up his first piece of gold in several years in his native England. You could tell he was happy to have won the belt there during his post-match promo.
Mike Knox def. D'Lo Brown
Vignettes had been airing for weeks advertising Knox as coming to Raw. Of course, by this point, the Brand Split largely meant nothing, so it was never said why the move was made aside from how there was nothing left for him on ECW. He made short work of Brown here, who could have been used a lot better during his last stint with the company. The crowd didn't react to anything he did, but his annihilation of Brown was slightly impressive.
World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho Addressed John Cena
After a three month layoff due to injury, Cena was set to return at Survivor Series later that month and receive a shot at the world title. Why? Well, that was never explained, other than that the event was emanating from his "hometown" of Boston. He didn't appear on WWE TV until the pay-per-view, so it was up to Jericho to build up the bout by himself in the few weeks they had beforehand. That said, this was an excellent promo as always from Jericho as he not only discussed his title defense against Cena but he hyped his Last Man Standing match with Shawn Michaels later that night.
Rey Mysterio def. Kane in a No Disqualification Match
None of the matches Mysterio and Kane had in the fall of 2008 were particularly great, but they told a solid story throughout their feud and this was a fun way of blowing it off. Granted, there were a handful of awkward spots (including the ending where it didn't look like Mysterio got all of his finisher on Kane), but the crowd was engaged in the action and it allowed Mysterio to pick up a feel-good win.
Cryme Tyme Interrupted JBL
JBL started his promo by blaming Michaels for why he was in the neck brace (Michaels led JBL to getting Tombstoned by The Undertaker one week earlier on Raw) before "promising" a lucky fan in attendance 1,000 pounds (the English currency, not weight) if they could answer five questions about American history. Obviously, although the fan answered correctly the first time, JBL didn't give him the cash similar to The Million Dollar Man's gimmick back in the day. Cryme Tyme then emerged to punk him and throw the cash out into the crowd, anyway. It was a harmless segment that build tension between Cryme Tyme and JBL before they were on opposite teams at Survivor Series.
Batista def. Cody Rhodes
As noted, Batista and Orton were originally supposed to go one-on-one, but Rhodes and Manu came out before the bout began and Rhodes said he wished to prove something to Orton by beating Batista. It didn't exactly work out that way, but Rhodes fared better than I thought he would. By the way, The Legacy wasn't officially a thing yet and Rhodes and Manu were at odds with Orton after Orton punted Ted DiBiase in the head the week prior.
Women's Champion Beth Phoenix def. Mickie James
These two actually had a match against each other the previous time Raw emanated from England, and on that show, James knocked off Phoenix for the Women's title. There was a chance James could repeat that feat here after Santino Marella lost his Intercontinental Championship at the start of the show, but no such luck. As a match, this was a bit of a disappointment knowing the chemistry they have. It didn't last long at all and was over before it could really get going.
World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho def. Shawn Michaels in a Last Man Standing Match (Non-title)
Every match Michaels and Jericho had in 2008 was exceptional one way or another, and I loved this encounter in particular because they made effective use of the Last Man Standing stipulation. Most matchups of this kind tend to drag, and while this too had some slow spots, it held my interest on the whole as they fought all around ringside and even on the stage. Once again, Jericho barely escaped, this time with the help of JBL who attacked Michaels with a chair. It was a fitting conclusion to one of WWE's most epic all-time rivalries.
Between the two title changes, the Last Man Standing match, the No Disqualification match and Knox's re-debut, this was a loaded edition of Raw and much more newsworthy than your typical show emanating from England. It's definitely worth checking out for the main event alone, but the rest of the show is enjoyable as well. Plus, there was some decent build for the Survivor Series pay-per-view that was quickly approaching.
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