By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Triple H and Jeff Hardy def. Umaga and Snitsky
This was a great follow-up to the events from the week prior by having HHH and Hardy join forces to take on the duo of Umaga and Snitsky. Not only did I appreciate the storyline consistency, but it is always refreshing to kick off Raw with a match as opposed to a talking segment. It was actually a pretty good match, too, with HHH and Hardy having good chemistry as partners, and I liked that this led to them facing off one-on-one at Armageddon a few weeks later.
Mr. McMahon Confronted Ric Flair
The best part about this segment and how they teased Flair might be retiring was Flair had legitimately met with McMahon months earlier and when the meeting didn't go well, there were rumblings Flair was on his way out of WWE. Thus, fans believed he was going to hang up the boots for good here in his native North Carolina, only to say he never planned on retiring. McMahon received mega heat for saying that the next match he lost would be his last, which was a cool, unprecedented story when you think about it. It also set up the main event match between Flair and Randy Orton nicely.
Hardcore Holly, Cody Rhodes, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and Super Crazy def. World Tag Team Champion Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch and The Highlanders
Holly and Rhodes were feuding with the tag team champions at the time, so this match was mostly about them while The Highlanders and especially Duggan and Crazy were filler. This really wasn't too much of note, but the babyfaces scoring the victory set them up for a future tag team title shot down the line. By the way, why not replace Duggan and Crazy with an established team such as Paul London and Brian Kendrick?
Chris Jericho def. Santino Marella
The promo that preceded this match wasn't all that entertaining. Jericho intentionally botched Santino's name a few times, but that was the only thing that got a chuckle out of me. The match was a a bit of a letdown considering it was Jericho's first bout on Raw in over two years, so it should have been advertised in advance that he was returning to the ring on this show. This match is notable for featuring the debut of Jericho's Codebreaker finisher, though.
Mr. Kennedy def. Brian Kendrick
I honestly don't remember much about this match other than it didn't last long, but at the very least, it gave Kennedy a nice victory heading into his Armageddon outing with Shawn Michaels. I don't know if it was mentioned on commentary or not, but a fun little fact is that Kendrick was trained by Michaels, Kennedy's arch-rival, so I'm not sure if that was done on purpose. If so, well done.
Mickie James def. Melina in a No. 1 Contender's Match For the Women's Championship
James and Melina had largely been feuding over nothing for a few weeks while Beth Phoenix and Candice Michelle had been embroiled in a program over the Women's Championship, but I'm glad they gave them a meaningful stipulation to work with here. They've always had solid matches against each other, too, so they had an enjoyable outing that set the stage for James vs. Phoenix for the title at Armageddon.
Ric Flair def. WWE Champion Randy Orton in a Career Threatening Match (Non-title)
Although Flair wasn't contesting classics at this point, this was a treat of a match for the story it told with Orton showing zero remorse in potentially ending Flair's career. Additionally, they were in Flair's native North Carolina, so they were hot for him throughout the bout and it resulted in an entertaining affair. They were also able to further the Jericho-Orton feud by having Jericho come down to cost Orton the match and keep Flair's career intact.
This was a pretty loaded show from Flair's return and newsworthy main event to all of the Armageddon announcements. WWE didn't have too long to build to the pay-per-view, but it was reassuring they didn't wait until the last possible second to confirm their portion of the card. With very little filler on this show, I would recommend checking it out at your leisure.
SEE ALSO: "Monday Night Raw Review - November 19, 2007"