John Cena Called Out Batista
All it took was an inadvertent punch to jump-start one of the most anticipated rivalries of the modern era in WWE. Who knew? Seriously, that was lame. I understand why they did it, but it felt forced to transition from Cena's loss to JBL at The Great American Bash to this. I know they would bring up their meteoric rises later on, but why not mention that here to add to their already brewing bad blood? This segment set up the night's main event as well as gave viewers a hook in regards to who the new general manager would be.
Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix def. D'Lo Brown and Kelly Kelly
Well, it didn't take long to establish Brown as just another undercard talent. It was great to see him back beating Marella the week prior, but in losing here in throwaway fashion, it was evident he wasn't re-signed for anything major. That said, Marella and Phoenix were a fun pairing as Glamarella. They didn't start calling themselves that in this match, but the seeds were planted for them to become a cohesive unit before long.
World Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and TEd DiBiase def. Jerry LawLer and Michael Cole
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan was originally scheduled to be Lawler's partner, but the new general manager replaced Duggan with Cole. I think this might have marked Cole's debut match in WWE, but that's all that was worth noting about it. Obviously, Lawler did most of the work for his team before Cole accidentally tagged himself in and was then subsequently pinned by Rhodes. I assume the purpose of this was to get heat on the heels, but the crowd actually cheered when Cole got tagged in so they could see him get beat up. So, that didn't work.
Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston def. Jamie Noble (Non-title)
Noble's storyline at the time was that he wanted to prove himself to Layla, so he called out the Intercontinental champion here. I've expressed my thoughts on this in the past, but it's a shame WWE wouldn't let Noble be the wrestler he was instead of a comedy act. This was a nice little match while it lasted yet not remotely close to what it could have been because of its brevity.
World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk def. William Regal (Non-title)
I remember holding out hope for Regal to return from his suspension as the new general manager, but no such luck. That said, having him back in a wrestling role was the next best thing, and I'm glad Punk was his first opponent. They worked so well together and Regal was absolute vicious in his assault on the world champion, even going so far as to bust him open (this must have been right before they officially went PG). Punk barely scored the victory by hitting his finisher out of nowhere, but Regal looked excellent in defeat.
Chris Jericho Hosted the Final Edition of The Highlight Reel
Jericho went all the way with his heel transformation by ditching everything that made him likable, including The Highlight Reel. That was brilliant. He could do no wrong at this time and this phenomenal promo was another example of that. I also loved how he said he was every bit as worthy of a contender to the World Heavyweight Championship as anyone else considering how he "ended" the career of Shawn Michaels.
Women's Champion Mickie James def. Jillian Hall (Non-title)
We had seen this match multiple times in the past, so this was nothing new. That's not to say it was bad, though, because it was fine for as long as it lasted and James was able to hit her signature spots and go over in decisive fashion. The primary focus was on what happened afterward with Katie Lea laying out James in front of her father. That made up for Paul Burchill not attacking Kingston earlier in the evening.
John Cena and Batista def. Kane and JBL; Mike Adamle Was Revealed as the New Raw General Manager
Cena and Batista were forced to coexist here against two common enemies in Kane and JBL, so at least the match had a solid story. It was a formulaic tag match otherwise, but it succeeded in what it set out to do. I wouldn't have beaten Kane so easily considering he had just returned to relevancy, but that's merely nitpicking. And then came the announcement of Adamle as the new Raw GM. Admittedly, he was better in that role than he was as a play-by-play commentator, but it made for one of the most lifeless endings to Raw I have ever seen, and the Cena vs. Batista SummerSlam news should have come with more fanfare given how historic it was.
The entire show was built around who the new general manager would be and the games he was playing with the roster, and the payoff in my opinion was not worth it at all. This edition of Raw did feature a newsworthy SummerSlam announcement, Regal's return, and an exceptional promo from Jericho, so it was an entertaining evening on the whole with a lousy and disappointing conclusion.