By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Randy Orton Interrupted WWE Champion Triple H
I've criticized Triple H quite a bit in recent years for opening Raw with his boring, drawn-out promos, but he deserved this moment coming off his WWE Championship victory in the main event of Backlash the night prior. I liked how he recalled his journey from losing the WWE title to Orton at No Mercy to winning it back over six months later. As awesome as Orton was during his reign as champion, he might have been even better in chase mode and showed excellent aggression in this segment, challenging HHH to an immediate title rematch in the night's main event.
Women's Champion Mickie James, Maria, Ashley, Michelle McCool, Cherry and Kelly Kelly def. Beth Phoenix, Melina, Jillian, Layla, Victoria and Natalya
As if the 12-Diva tag team match at Backlash wasn't worthless enough, let's do it again on Raw! Yay! Of course, I'm being sarcastic. WWE always did meaningless matches with the women on pay-per-view and held rematches the next night for no apparent reason. The babyfaces or heels would get their win back, so in essence, no one really got over in the end. That said, this was pure filler, but at least it didn't overstay its welcome.
JBL def. Robbie McAllister
This serious side of JBL was absolute money and it's disappointing we didn't see more of it in his last run with the company as a wrestler. His shortcoming at Backlash fueled him to get revenge on John Cena, who eliminated him from the match. Speaking of whom, where was Cena on this show? He was conspicuous by his absence. At any rate, this was a short and sweet squash match that allowed JBL to assert his dominance.
Paul London and Brian Kendrick def. Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch
These two tandems had no less than a dozen or so matches against each other in the year preceding this bout, so this was nothing new. Although London and Kendrick scored the victory, the focus was more so on Cade and Murdoch in defeat. They continued to tease tension with Murdoch costing them the victory and singing a song afterward, which the crowd didn't really know how to respond to.
Paul Burchill and Katie Lea def. Super Crazy in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
Burchill competed in these squash matches for weeks on end before settling into a real rivalry, but this was his first match since being back that was turned into a Handicap match with Katie Lea. Granted, she didn't do much, but it gave Burchill more heat because it put the babyface at a distinct disadvantage. Poor Super Crazy, the guy didn't even have a chance!
Mr. Kennedy Interrupted Raw General Manager William Regal's King of the Ring Coronation
Regal was on absolute fire during this run and the delivery of his promo here, calling himself the most powerful entity in WWE as a result of his King of the Ring win, was fantastic. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand, and while they weren't sure how to react to Kendrick because he was a heel before he left, they quickly took to him as a babyface since he stood up to Regal. They had a heated confrontation and their brawl that ensued between them was hot and well-received by the audience.
World Tag Team Champion Cody Rhodes def. Santino Marella
Carlito defeated Rhodes' tag team partner Hardcore Holly the week prior, so it was only logical for him to even the score with Rhodes defeating Marella. The match was kept short and sweet without much substance, albeit fine while it lasted. It was a rather formulaic feud for the most part, but Marella was entertaining in his role and was a fun counterpart for the tag champs.
Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho Hosted The Highlight Reel with Shawn Michaels
At Backlash, Michaels beat Batista, but only after teasing he had been injured. Jericho, who served as the special guest referee, thought he feigned the injury, so he brought his integrity into question in this segment. Mind you, Jericho wasn't a full-fledged heel yet, but he was testing the waters very effectively. Michaels and Jericho had an excellent dynamic together and while we didn't receive any answers here, it built intrigue for what would happen next in their story.
WWE Champion Triple H vs. Randy Orton Ended in a No Contest
I remember this match ending with Regal turning off the lights because he felt he was disrespected by Kennedy earlier, so the lack of a finish wasn't surprising for me, but it was at the time and I thought it was executed perfectly. However, I wondered why HHH and Orton gave away a pretty lengthy title match instead of saving it until Judgement Day. I'm sure fans felt ripped off by the show going off the air without a proper conclusion, but it was unprecedented and made viewers want to tune in the following week to see Regal's reign of terror resume.
This was when Regal began to take center stage on the program and he played the role remarkably well. The WWE Championship match isn't worth going out of your way to see since they had yet another championship clash a few weeks later at Judgement Day, but this served as a solid follow-up show to Backlash with a few feuds being furthered and other storylines beginning to take shape.
SEE ALSO: "Monday Night Raw Review - April 21, 2008"