Sioux City, Iowa
January 12, 2009

results thanks to pwtorch.com


The show started with a very tight shot of JBL's white limo slowly moving. Fade into an inside-the-limo shot of JBL sitting in the backseat with Shawn Michaels, who was staring straight ahead in a daze. JBL said he knows what HBK is thinking that perhaps he could have been Mr. WrestleMania, but he fell on financial difficulties, so he's fighting for a paycheck from him against Cena tonight. JBL told Michaels to consider tonight his WrestleMania. HBK, who was looking bum-look with a bandana and a heavy beard, turned to stare hard at JBL as he left the limo.

In-ring: After the regular Raw intro, Stephanie McMahon came out on stage. No pyro show entrance. Have to cut costs somewhere. Stephanie entered the ring to hype the Royal Rumble in two weeks as the official beginning of the Road to the Rumble. He then hyped next week's return to WWE for Vince McMahon. (Loud boos.) Steph said she can't wait.

Suddenly, Chris Jericho's music interrupted Stephanie's love-fest for pops, and Jericho stepped out in his classic heel villain suit. Steph was not happy with the interruption. Jericho, with a little Mickey Rourke facial hair look, entered the ring and walked right up to Stephanie to call her a liar. He said Steph is no better than these hypocrites sitting in this arena right now. The truth is that Steph can wait and she's scared to death of his return because her time running this show is over.

Jericho is ecstatic because Vince is going to hear all of his requests and right all of Stephanie's wrongs. Stephanie smirked as Jericho talked about Vince respecting the locker room and him. He said Vince respects the 2008 Superstar of the Year, he knows how to run this show, and he will run this show. Steph cut him off and said Raw is her show. Jericho laughed and said the bottom line is that Stephanie doesn't have any idea what's going on around here.

Steph claimed Vince supports her decisions on this show. Jericho went for the Mike Adamle line and said he lowered the bar so low that it made Stephanie look like a half-way competent . She then threw Shane McMahon under the bus and said that was his call. Steph went low and said if Jericho were more concerned about his career, then he would still be World champ. She told Jericho to start focusing on winning the Royal Rumble because that's the closest he's going to come to the World Title.

Stephanie booked Jericho in a match tonight, but Jericho cut her off and said he won't lower himself to wrestling in this ring unless it's for the World Title. Jericho said he's done talking to her about this and won't pay attention until the real McMahon comes back next week. She threatened to take away his Rumble spot if he doesn't obey her orders for him to compete tonight. Jericho pushed things a little too far and asked what she's going to do about it.

Steph turned away, then turned back and sternly said, "You're fired." After a pause to let that sink in, Jericho's expression changed to realization he went too far. Steph's music hit, then she calmly walked out of the ring and bounced down the entrance ramp. Jericho remained frozen mid-ring as they cut to commercial. Heck of a great opening segment despite the too-soon incorporation of the pink slip angle on TV. Tense, intense, and sets up a "how do they get Jericho back on the show?" question to be played out this week or next.

[Commercial Break]

Video recap: They recapped the end of the previous segment with Jericho calling Stephanie a lameduck authority figure and nothing she says means anything when Vince comes back next week. They cut to Steph's threats before finally firing Jericho on the spot.

Backstage during commercial: Security guards were shown escorting Chris Jericho out of the building backstage. Probably hit a little too close to home for about 60 employees that were escorted out of WWE HQ on Friday during the staff lay-offs. Ringside, Michael Cole was a little stunned recapping the events. Jerry Lawler was very excitable.


In-ring: The Miz came to the ring for the opening match of the show. No John Morrison. They announced Miz has qualified for the Rumble. Rey Mysterio, who is already in the Rumble, came out as the opposition.

1 -- REY MYSTERIO vs. World tag team champion THE MIZ

Cole said Morrison is not here tonight after being injured during the tables match against Triple H on Smackdown this past week. Nice to see them selling an injury like that. Miz was aggressive early on, working on Rey in the corner with boots to the gut. He then hit his trademark running clothesline and knee combo in the corner. Rey came back with a nice seated sentaun from the springboard position, then Rey set up for the 619. Miz moved, though, and dumped Rey to the apron before blocking a sunset flip attempt into a roll-up for a close two count.

Miz wanted the high knee lift into neckbreaker, but Rey countered into a drop toe hold that sent Miz to the apron for the 619. He then hit the springboard splash on Miz for the pin and the win. Afterward, Mike Knox stormed the ring and attacked Rey. Rey fought back with kicks to the face before hitting a huracanrana that cleared Knox to the floor. Knox and Rey then had a staredown for a few moments.

WINNER: Rey in 4:00. Way too short of a match there. Could have gone another seven or eight minutes and given Miz a chance to prove himself in a singles opportunity. (*1/4)

Backstage: Candice Michelle was randomly talking to someone off camera. Candice has a new look of all-black hair and a black get-up. She was talking to C.M. Punk about Vince McMahon returning to the show, but Punk wasn't paying attention, as he was in his zone listening to the iPod. Perhaps he was listening to Great Khali's theme song? Punk said he's focused on the IC Title match tonight, then he brushed off Candice and walked away. Ouch. Harsh.

[Commercial Break]

Next week: Mr. McMahon returns. They cut to a video clip from the McMahon DVD of Vince talking about his father pushing him into the announcer role back in the WWWF days. Cue up classic Vince-on-the-mic clips hosting TNT and working with Jesse Ventura. McMahon said there was one incident where Bret Hart shoved him down in the ring and that started his on-air character. Triple H and Eric Bischoff were shown saying everyone knew he was the owner, but he wanted to be just the announcer on TV. Triple H, again from the DVD, talked about McMahon taking it up a notch during the Attitude era.


In-ring: C.M. Punk came out first for the IC Title match. Layla then led out William Regal. Layla was still showing signs of being mad at Regal for putting her in harm's way last week. So great. IC Title match time.

2 -- IC champion WILLIAM REGAL (w/Layla) vs. C.M. PUNK -- Intercontinental Title match

After Punk was the aggressor early on, Regal regained control. Punk then tried to fight back with a punch to the gut, but the ref said it was a low blow. Regal sold it like a low blow and the ref bought it to declare a DQ. A replay showed Punk hit him clean in the lower gut. Where's Punk's red challenge flag? Punk tried to explain himself, but the ref was having nothing to do with it.

WINNER: Regal via DQ in 2:00. Well, there had better be a point to this because it's going to be difficult for the audience to buy into future title matches with the first two of this year ending in lame fashion. (n/a)

Backstage: Mickie James was randomly talking to Cody Rhodes about the weather outside. Blizzard conditions. Sim Snuka and Manu then stepped up to Cody and asked why he acted the way he did last week. Cody defended himself that they would have done the same thing if they were in his shoes. Manu gave him an ultimatum that either he's with them or against them because they're going after Randy Orton tonight. Sim said they brought a little back-up with them tonight. Cody was a little concerned. Sim told Cody to think about that. Cody is growing a little heel chest hair. Look at that.

[Commercial Break]

Backstage: Layla was helping Regal walk after his match. Todd Grisham asked Regal if he's satisfied with his victory tonight. Regal said he's satisfied this challenge is over and he's still IC champion. Regal was done talking, but Stephanie McMahon interrupted and said she's not satisfied. So, next week, they are having the third and final match to determine who the IC champion is. And that match will be No DQ. She clasped her hands and walked off, leaving Layla to talk to Regal. Okay, I can take that as the classic way of building up a match series by adding a new stip each week until a satisfying finish.

Hall of Fame video package: Set to some really dramatic music, they went to the first Hall of Fame announcement. The night before WrestleMania, the man who revolutionized the industry...Steve Austin. They went to a shot of an empty hallway, then Austin emerging to walk down the hallway. That was pretty cool. Austin bleeding at WrestleMania 13 vs. Bret Hart. Austin taking the piledriver from Owen Hart. They had the KOTR 1996 promo that started the whole deal with Austin. A re-mix of Austin's theme music was shown along with classic Austin clips. After the video aired, they showed a graphic for Austin in the Hall of Fame at WrestleMania 25. They plugged tickets on-sale this Saturday in Houston.


Backstage: Shawn Michaels was leaning against a locker room door preparing for Cena. JBL then stepped in and told him not to worry about Chris Jericho, who saved his money and didn't lose in the stock market like Michaels did. JBL whispered in Michaels's ear that he can't lose tonight. Michaels turned to JBL and said if this is his WrestleMania, he won't lose to John Cena. He doesn't need JBL in his corner to do that, he said. Michaels turned to walk away, then JBL whispered, "That's why I hired ya." Had to re-wind to pick up on JBL's Southern drawl for that quiet line. Michaels then kept walking.

[Commercial Break]

McMahon video: He's back next week, in case you forgot. Cut to clips of McMahon talking on his DVD about doing what's best for the business. They showed him firing Kurt Angle and Mick Foley on TV. Vengeance is mine, sayeth McMahon. From the McMahon DVD, he said it's difficult to fire people, but he'll do it if he feels it's right for the business. Tight zoom on McMahon's face after a prior "You're fiiiiiired." Classic example of WWE taking ownership over a recent major news story and presenting its spin.

Next week: Rey Mysterio vs. Mike Knox one-on-one. ... In-ring: Kane's pyro shot off, and he walked out for the match against Randy Orton, which has received zero hype tonight. Orton then walked out with Cody Rhodes, who has figured out how to do the super-slow walk to the ring. Cody turned to look behind their backs, thinking about the threat from Sim and Manu.

3 -- KANE vs. RANDY ORTON (w/Cody Rhodes)

Kane was in control early on, landing a huge uppercut beneath the chin that rocked Orton. He then knocked Orton to the outside and Cody went over to check on him. "Orton, you suck!" was the cry from a ringside fan as they cut to break. Nice.

[Commercial Break. ECW tomorrow: Hardy vs. Swagger I for the ECW Title.]

Back from break, Orton was in control of the action with an aggressive chinlock. So, apparently Kane is playing the babyface role tonight. Orton continued his attack on Kane while the announcers referenced the Kelly Kelly love triangle...of sorts. Lawler speculated as to whether Kelly is watching this match tonight.

[Q5 -- second hour]

Kane escaped a chinlock with a side suplex, then he landed a series of clotheslines in the corner. Kane with a sidewalk slam before making a cover for a two count. Orton tried an uppercut, but Kane gripped him for the chokeslam. Orton broke free, though, and hit a fallaway neckbreaker in center ring. He then went into Viper stalking mode and wanted the RKO, but Kane pushed him away. Does that ever work? Kane then went up top. Uh-oh. Orton met him in mid-air with a dropkick and made the cover for an apparent three count. Kane appeared to get his right shoulder up, but ref Scott Armstrong said it was a three. He quickly bailed from the ring and Kane complained about getting his shoulder up.

WINNER: Orton in 9:00. Apparently they're doing a blind-as-a-bat angle for WWE refs now. Either that or Scott legit screwed up making the three count, as there was a very awkward moment after the bell. They played it up well if it was a legit match finish. (*1/2)

Post-match: Manu and Sim Snuka walked out on stage and told Cody to listen up. With us or against us? Sim said they have back-up tonight. Out walked Ted DiBiase, Jr. Oh, teasing he's with them, but he's with Orton. Totally see it. DiBiase emerged on stage looking much bigger than I recall. He then walked down to the ring with Manu and Sim as the announcers mentioned Orton punting him in the head a few months ago. The ring was surrounded, then DiBiase led Manu and Snuka into the ring. Orton looked down to Cody, who slipped into the ring.

Orton was the monkey in the middle, then DiBiase suddenly turned on Sim and Manu. DiBiase, Orton, and Cody beat up Sim and Manu for a while. Announcers went silent as Orton gave instructions to DiBiase and Cody. Cody picked apart Sim before giving him the spin-out neckbreaker. DiBiase finished off the beating on Manu with a Million Dollar Russian legsweep to great crowd heat. DiBiase then joined Orton and Cody leaving the ring. All three stood tall on the stage to close the segment. Cole said Orton is building his Legacy.

Announcers: Cole said we'll hear from John Cena later tonight. They replayed the footage from the top of the show with Jericho pushing Stephanie's buttons too far to where he got fired by Stephanie McMahon.

Backstage: Grisham brought in John Cena to talk about the Rumble in two weeks. He says he knows all about the Rumble because he snuck into the thing last year and won the whole thing. Cena hyped JBL as his opposition at the Rumble, then said he has bought the best in the business to help him out. Cena said Shawn Michaels is certainly the main event and the showstopper. He said that because Michaels is taking orders from JBL, he doesn't have a Royal Rumble or a WrestleMania. So, now, Cena competes against HBK tonight in his WrestleMania. Cena paused to let that sink in, then he walked off. Nice, simple, effective promo from Cena.


[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Beth Phoenix and Jillian Hall were in the ring for a divas tag match. No sign of Santino Marella tonight. In two weeks, Beth defends the Women's Title against Melina. Kelly Kelly came out first for the babyface divas team. Lawler said he sees the angel he'd like to be touched by. Melina then came out as her partner. Suddenly, a person in a Michael Jackson-esque outfit jumped Melina on stage. Paparazzi person was superfan Rosa Mendes, who was then pulled away to the backstage area.

Jillian and Beth then jumped Melina and Kelly on the floor. Jillian apparently lost her luggage, as she's in jeans and a tank top. Beth smashed Melina into the guardrail ringside, then grabbed Rosa's camera and told her to smile. Beth tossed Melina down on the ground, then leaned down to tell her she hopes she looks that good at the Rumble. Jillian proclaimed Beth your Women's champ right here. No match apparently.

[Commercial Break]

McMahon returns: Focus on Vince McMahon receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year. He said he accepts on behalf of the WWE stars and every WWE fan in the world. Most importantly, though, he'd like to himself. Cue up the classic McMahon authority figure promo hyping himself as the biggest star of all-time.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler plugged the Royal Rumble line-up in two weeks. Nice, sharp graphics.

Backstage: Orton slapped shoulders with Cody and DiBiase. Cody tied up a loose end by thanking DiBiase for tipping them off before tonight. Orton said he was only trying to kick some sense into DiBiase and things are good now. DiBiase brought up the Rumble match in two weeks. Orton said there can only be one winner. Heavy breathing while thinking, then cut elsewhere.

Elsewhere backstage: Mid-carders were standing outside of Steph McMahon's office waiting for their chance to get in the Rumble. Santino then walked out and pumped his fist that he's in the Rumble. Jamie Noble, Dolph Ziggler, Goldust, and Cryme Tyme were also standing there waiting for their word with Steph. Dolph then introduced himself to Noble and Cryme Tyme said someone needs to slap him.

Elsewhere backstage II: JBL was walking behind Shawn Michaels on the way to the ring for the main event.

Video package: They showed classic PPV moments, such as Cena's surprise return at last year's Rumble, Punk winning MITB at WM 24, and Edge returning at Survivor Series to surprisingly win the WWE Title. The point? WWE PPV - you should have been there. A little "non-buyer's remorse" from the marketing toolbox.


[Commercial Break]

In-ring: The white limo pulled up ringside and JBL emerged first. Shawn Michaels then slowly stepped out and surveyed the fans hanging over the guardrail. Michaels's music then hit and he sternly walked out to the ring. Some crazy cold fans had "H-B-K" painted on their chests in the arena. One little girl had a sign: "I miss the old HBK." Michaels posed in the ring and they had ref Charles Robinson staring ominously toward Michaels in the background. Ref strike!

After a pause, John Cena's music hit and out walked the champ to a giant pop. Cena entered the ring and stared at the situation with Michaels in the ring and JBL on the floor. After Cena did his pre-match routine, he extended his hand for Michaels, who stared at him while chewing on his gum to ease the great tension. He then took Cena's hand and gave him a firm shake. JBL approved with a non-reaction, then the fans roared as they cut to a pre-match break. Snap.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Makes you wonder what happened during the three-minute break, as both men were still in opposite corners and the match hadn't started yet. Unless they put it on a three-minute delay to show the entirety of the match.

4 -- WWE World Hvt. champion JOHN CENA vs. SHAWN MICHAELS (w/JBL) -- non-title match

Cena landed a straight right hand to the jaw early on, showing a little fire that typically isn't there in a Cena match. Michaels was a little shook up, so he went to the corner for a deep breath to meet Cena's icy stare. Cena repeated the attack on Michaels to fluster him, but then Michaels feigned Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere to back up Cena for a mid-match break. Michaels then fired off a round of hard chops to the chest that rocked Cena, who then fired back with right hand blows. Whoa, intensity just picked up a little with Michaels firing back with another round of chops before accepting a veeery high back body drop. Cena then charged Michaels and clotheslined him over the top rope to the floor.


Michaels regrouped and re-entered the ring after catching Cena off guard with a hard clothesline. A little crawler came across the bottom of the screen about Jericho being fired tonight and Mr. McMahon back on the show next week. Nice touch. Cena came back on Michaels with a hard clothesline before sending HBK upside down in the corner to set up a running bulldog for a two count. Cena wanted a suplex, but Michaels turned it into a figure four. My brother just walked in the room, spent one minute watching this, and said Michaels is channeling Flair with all of his moves, then Michaels slaps on the figure four to hammer it home.

Cena reversed the pressure on the figure four right in front of Lil' Naitch ref Charles Robinson, then Michaels released the hold and went back on the attack. Cena hung Michaels upside down in the corner, then punted him up into the air for the FU...er...Throwback position, but Michaels slipped out. Cena then kicked Michaels down and went to the top rope. He wanted the guillotine, but Michaels countered in mid-air to the crossface. JBL stared intently at the hold, which Michaels maintained even when Cena tried to power-lift his way out of the hold. Cena eventually broke free and they cut to a break.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, Michaels was staring up at the lights on the floor. Cena then shoved HBK back into the ring and he covered him for a two count. Cena went to work on Michaels's back with a Mark Henry-esque bear hug at 14:00, which began to rally the crowd behind Michaels. They had a back-and-forth exchange leading to the top of the hour and Michaels blocked the sit-out slam with a pin attempt for a two count.

[Q9 -- over-run]

At the top of the hour, Michaels went up top for an elbow, but Cena cut him up, then climbed up top. He wanted the FU, but Michaels slipped out and nailed a top rope powerbomb right on the neck for a two count. Nice counter, but Cena has to be feeling that. Cena was motionless, then Michaels went up top for the elbow drop, but Cena rolled out of the way. Cena slowly climbed up top and he nailed the guillotine leg drop this time. Cena came to his feet, then he told JBL you can't see me. He then dropped the Five Knuckle Shuffle on Michaels. He wanted the FU, but Michaels countered into a DDT at 19:00. He made a cover, but Cena kicked out.

Michaels then went up top and delivered the elbow drop to the heart. Michaels tuned up the band, but Cena ducked the superkick and nailed the FU in center ring. He had nothing left in the tank, then made a cover a few seconds later for a two count. JBL continued not to react. So great. Cena slowly got up and grappled Michaels, who was playing opossum and smashed Cena square in the jaw with Sweet Chin Music. He made a cover, but Cena kicked out. First reaction of the night from JBL, who thought it was a three.

Both men recovered as JBL started to pace around, now with the Cowboy hat off his head. Michaels tried to grapple Cena, but Cena went for the FU. Michaels slipped out, then went for a sunset flip pin, but Cena kicked out and rolled into the STFU right in front of JBL. Michaels reached for the ropes as JBL shouted encouragement. Michaels started to fade, then he reached out and grabbed the bottom rope for an escape. JBL backed up and stared at Michaels, who slowly pulled himself up at 23:00.

Cena waited for Michaels to turn around and he went for the FU once again. Michaels slipped out yet again, then Michaels shoved Cena over to the ropes. Just the slightest hint of interference from JBL threw Cena off slightly, then Cena turned around and took the Sweet Chin Music square in the jaw. Michaels made the cover and scored the three count for the win. Sick finish.

Post-match: Michaels rolled himself out of the ring, then headed up the entrance ramp with venom on his face. JBL then entered the ring and stood over Cena's fallen body. They replayed the sweet finish, then Cole stacked the deck against Cena at the Rumble to sell the PPV main event of Cena vs. JBL.

WINNER: Shawn Michaels in 24:00. One night after an early TNA MOTY contender, we have our first WWE Match of the Year contender. What an epic TV match with WWE effectively playing up so many different elements of the Cena-Michaels-JBL program. Michaels was superb. Cena had this different "heel" edge to him. JBL was great in his subtle reactions and not over-playing the heel manager card. Just another great match in the HBK vs. Cena series. They bring out the best in each other. Only a slow period around 12:00 kept this short of reaching five stars. Seriously. (****1/2)