January 21, 2008
Hampton, VA
Hampton Coliseum

The current RAW champions are as follows:
WWE Champion: Randy Orton (10/7/2007)
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Jeff Hardy (9/3/2007)
World Tag Team Champions: Hardcore Holly & Cody Rhodes (12/10/2007)
WWE Women’s Champion: Beth Phoenix (10/7/2007)

Read along if you have the WWE Network!

To begin the show, we get a MLK Jr. video package that tells us, “Long Live the Dream”.

Next up, there’s a video package showing a pretty violent exchange between Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy as things are HEATIN’ UP as Hardy gave Orton a SWANTON BOMB from a really high part of the old RAW set.

Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler. WWE HAS GONE HD. That’s right. This is the first episode of RAW to broadcast in high definition and the beginning of the WWE|HD era. There’s a sweet brand new HD set and everything!

  • Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Kennedy

Here’s the rubber match for these two. JR remarks that it’s only fitting that HBK makes the first entrance in HD. Lawler announces that Mr. Kennedy was given a spot in the Royal Rumble earlier in the day by RAW GM William Regal. We’ve got shoulderblocks and headlocks to start. They try an old Ric Flair backslide sequence that either doesn’t work out or Shawn is purposely trying to block it. You can make of that what you will. Kennedy takes control and crimps on the neck. As Kennedy continues to get the heat, Michaels chops him back to get him flustered. He escapes a suplex and drops Kennedy with a neckbreaker. They trade chops (WOO!) to set up Shawn’s VINTAGE HBK comeback. He hits the Flying Elbow, but Kennedy ducks out to the floor to avoid Sweet Chin Music. Shawn wipes him out with a pescado anyways. Commercials! When we come back, Kennedy is back on top and delivers a nasty Running Facewash for two. However, Kennedy lets Shawn come back with chops. He takes the Ray Stevens corner bump, but turns around and wallops Kennedy with a clothesline. Kennedy though finds a jawbreaker and attempts the Mic Check, but Michaels elbows him away. Kennedy pushes him back into a corner and looks for a superplex, but Michaels pushes him off. He looks for the Flying Elbow, but Kennedy brings up the knees to block. OUCH. FOR BOTH GUYS. Anyways, Kennedy hits the Finlay Roll for 1-2-NO! There’s a random superkick, but Kennedy hit the mat to avoid it a second time. Kennedy kicks away the Inverted Figure-Four, but Michaels kips up and finally connects with SWEET CHIN MUSIC for the win. (11:18 shown) Good match and a good finish. It felt different than the other two as well without the hand psychology being a factor. ***¼

In the back, the WWE champ Randy Orton is talking with Vince McMahon and trying to understand why Vince wants him to go into the ring tonight and shake Jeff Hardy’s hand after what happened last week. Randy is about to lose his mind. Vince then gives Orton a pep talk about all the people he has despised over the years that he has had to shake their hands and do business. Vince thinks it will make Orton be perceived as a gentleman while in reality he’s a scoundrel. He doesn’t care that Orton means it when he shakes Jeff’s hand. It will mean to Jeff that he didn’t accomplish what he set out to do, which was take Randy Orton out. If Randy shakes Jeff’s hand and looks Jeff square in the eyes, it sends a message to Jeff that he can’t take Randy Orton out. Once again, Vince tells Randy Orton to shake Jeff Hardy’s hand. We will see.

  • Beth Phoenix vs. Mickie James

Since Mickie is home in Virginia, she VOWS to beat Beth Phoenix tonight. Beth overpowers to start, but Mickie punches away a powerbomb and hits a Thesz press. She dropkicks Phoenix into the corner and starts a ten-count corner punch, but Beth is too powerful. Out to the apron, Beth knees Mickie REAL hard down to the floor. Back in, Phoenix crimps on the neck. Mickie fights up and gets a rollup for 1-2-NO! She tries a backslide, but gets flipped over into a forearm shot. Mickie comes back with a headscissors out of the corner for two. Beth blocks the Mickie-DT though and hangs her out to dry to set up the FISHERMAN’S BUSTER for the win. (3:42) So much for Mickie’s vows. *½

Todd Grisham meets with Triple H backstage. Vince McMahon said last week if Triple H wins his match tonight, he’ll be able to go into the Royal Rumble after all. That is one of the ugliest t-shirts I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t matter who is his opponent will be tonight – he will be in the Royal Rumble. Not just a promise, it’s a GUARAN-DAMN-TEE. Wow, they zoom in on Triple H’s simian-like forehead.

Elsewhere, Cody Rhodes and Brian Kendrick discuss how cool it is to be in the Royal Rumble. Hardcore Holly interrupts their riveting conversation. Cody mentions Holly being dressed up like Carlito two weeks ago and says he’s got a pic of it on his MySpace. Oh boy. Like kids today would ask, Holly wants to know what the heck a MySpace is. It’s a fair question, really. Kendrick prepares to explain to Holly what the internet is, but Bob doesn’t care and says nobody – INCLUDING CODY – will stop him from winning the Royal Rumble. Ya know, I don’t think Brian Kendrick is taking any of this seriously.

We get a fancy video package on the history of Randy Orton, but it’s *NOT* in HD quality. Ugh, SD is so last week.

  • Finlay & Hornswoggle vs. The Highlanders

The Irishman gets outsmarted by two Scotsmen – if you can BELIEVE that. But then the Scotsmen get outsmarted by a midget, so really what *can* you believe. The CELTIC CROSS sets up the TADPOLE SPLASH for the win in 1:26.

There’s a video package showcasing the JBL and Y2J feud. Chris Jericho comes out and gets right down to business. He calls JBL a coward for not showing tonight knowing he would be here. Jericho starts telling a story about how his kid reacted to JBL calling his daddy a coward. He then tells JBL that he made a mistake by not finishing the job because Y2J is still here. He’s not worried about having a good match at the Royal Rumble – because he’s coming to FIGHT. YES.

Ross and Lawler run down the card for the Royal Rumble this Sunday LIVE on PPV.

Elsewhere, Vince McMahon chastises Jeff Hardy for taking that crazy bump last week. Vince keeps talking about the handshake with Randy Orton and Jeff just keeps looking focused and doesn’t say a word. He finally tells Vince that he’ll go out there tonight and give everyone something to talk about.

  • Royal Rumble Qualifier: Brian Kendrick vs. UMAGA

Kendrick had no idea who his opponent would be until RAW GM William Regal appears on the TitanTron and lets him know that it’s UMAGA. Who did Kendrick piss off here? Kendrick bumps around, delivers some hope spots, but ultimately he falls victim to the SAMOAN SPIKE in 2:20.

Backstage, Mickie James is pouting about not being able to beat Beth Phoenix when Maria comes over to console her. Next thing you know, Ashley goes over to Maria to tell her about an idea to be in Playboy when Santino Marella interrupts and misinterprets the whole thing for comedy purposes.

Since we got a history of Randy Orton video package, now we get one for Jeff Hardy as well.

  • Hardcore Holly (w/Cody Rhodes) vs. Carlito (w/Santino Marella & Maria)

Holly starts off strong, but gets a bit too pumped and runs into a boot in the corner to turn the tide. Carlito drills him with clotheslines and grabs a chinlock. Holly chops him back and delivers a suplex for two. Carlito snaps Holly’s neck on the top rope and goes back to work by pulling back on the arms of Holly. This match has no heat. Holly escapes and makes his comeback. Santino interrupts the Alabama Slam allowing Carlito to come up behind Holly for the BACKSTABBER to pick up the win. (3:12) Just a match for Carlito to even the score, really. ¾*

They take us back to the Royal Rumble 2002 when Triple H returned after his torn quads and won the Rumble match last eliminating the current TNA world heavyweight champ Kurt Angle.

  • Royal Rumble Qualifier for Triple H: 3-Man Gauntlet Match

So this is clearly going to be their work-around getting Triple H into the Royal Rumble match. I can’t imagine anyone would possibly believe they would have the PPV without him. Raw GM William Regal comes out and tells Triple H and the audience what this match is going to be. SNITSKY comes out to face Triple H first. Ross tells us Snitsky held his own against Triple H last week on RAW. All Triple H has to be is smarter than Snitsky here though and that’s not very hard. He misses a running boot and gets straddled on the top rope. He elbows back a charging Triple H, but then Triple H charges him again and clotheslines Snitsky to the floor after about 1:20.

Next up, it’s MARK HENRY. He manhandles Triple H for a while. Henry misses an avalanche though. Triple H tries to slam him, but Henry falls back on top of him. Henry allows Triple H to get back up ready to run him out of the ring, but Triple H ducks and Henry goes flying over the top rope at 4:25.

Our final man is a VERY ANGRY WILLIAM REGAL. If you want something done right, sometimes you just have to do it yourself. Regal pummels Triple H down into the corner and tries to throw out HHH. Triple H punches Regal to get away and gives a AA Spinebuster before tossing him out to win the match. (5:48) I’m surprised it took him *this* long. *½

THE HANDSHAKE: Vince McMahon comes out first and introduces us to himself in HD. Now, he doesn’t waste any more time bringing out the WWE champ Randy Orton and the WWE IC champ Jeff Hardy. Vince talks up the match by saying the match doesn’t need any hype and then hypes up the match for a minute or so. Before they shake hands, McMahon asks them if they have any last words and hands the mic to Orton. He puts over Hardy for doing amazing things in WWE and even admits to underestimating him. While Orton knows Hardy won’t have the WWE title after the Royal Rumble, Orton says Jeff has something more important than the WWE title and that’s his respect. Now it’s Jeff’s turn to speak. He doesn’t care about Orton’s respect. He didn’t jump off a 30 foot scaffold to Swanton Bomb Orton for his respect. He did it to hurt Orton for hurting his brother Matt. He did it above all else to show Orton he is willing to do anything to get the WWE title. Jeff says there is a long list of people in WWE that he would shake hands with out of respect before he would shake Randy Orton’s hand. He then heads out of the ring and shakes hands with Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Lillian Garcia, and goes around through the crowd shaking hands with random fans before going back over the rail to face Orton. That Brian guy was SUPER pumped Jeff said his name on TV. Orton extends his hand out to Jeff. When Jeff leaves him hanging, he pulls Orton into a TWIST OF FATE! Now that’s a pop. Jeff throws his shirt off at the crowd and celebrates over Orton to close the show.

ROYAL RUMBLE 2008 is NEXT. Until then, so long for now.


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