Monday Night Raw – March 31, 2008: Leave Them Alone

Monday Night Raw
Date: March 31, 2008
Location: Amway Arena, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We are finally done with Wrestlemania and the big story on the Raw side is the retirement of Ric Flair. Shawn Michaels, who does in fact love him despite making apologies for it, superkicked Flair to end his career last night in a rather emotional moment. Other than that, Randy Orton is still Raw World Champion but we can worry about what he is doing at Backlash later. It’s the Raw after Wrestlemania so this should be different. Let’s get to it.

Here is Wrestlemania if you need a recap.

We open with a recap of Ric Flair losing to Shawn Michaels in a big, emotional moment.

Here is John Cena…..’s music to get us going. There’s no Cena, so we get HHH…..’s music instead, but no HHH. Instead here is Randy Orton in person to get things going. Orton talks about how no one gave him a chance going into Wrestlemania and the question was all about who was going to pin him to win the title. No one ever wanted to give him any credit but now they have to show him respect. He lists off all of the people he has beaten and says we are now in the Age Of Orton.

Cue JBL of all people to say he deserves the next title shot. Orton’s entire title reign has been about luck while JBL beat up Finlay and Hornswoggle at Wrestlemania. Orton can’t beat him and never will be able to do so. JBL announces his candidacy for the title and leaves, with Orton being livid. Cue Matt Hardy through the crowd to go after Orton with referees breaking it up.

Post break Matt Hardy rants to William Regal about how he wants Orton in the ring tonight.

Cryme Tyme vs. Lance Cade/Trevor Murdoch

Cryme Tyme is back after being fired a few months ago. Cade hammers on Shad to start but a few shots break that up. JTG comes in for two off an Oklahoma roll but Cade blasts him with a clothesline. Cade drops Murdoch onto JTG for two more and the beating is on in the corner. Then Cade misses a charge into the corner and gets rolled up for the fast pin. Out of nowhere ending but the fans popped hard for Cryme Tyme’s return.

Video on Ric Flair’s career, which is still an awesome look back.

Here is a fairly somber Shawn Michaels for a chat. Shawn says he is a bit conflicted here, as he was asked to be Mr. Wrestlemania last night and he isn’t sure how he feels about that. He had a job to do last night and loved and respects Ric Flair to do anything less than his best. Now the greatest career in wrestling is over and he has to live with it. Shawn: “Lucky me.” And with that, he leaves.

Post break, William Regal tries to console Shawn, saying it had to be done and it should have been a long time ago. Regal leaves, and Batista is seen glaring at Shawn.

Brian Kendrick/Paul London vs. Cody Rhodes/Hardcore Holly

Non-title. Cody and Kendrick have a feeling out process to start with Kendrick going to the ropes to escape the wristlock. Holly comes in and actually gets forearmed back by London. That’s about the extent of the odd though as Holly unloads on him with chops in the corner. Everything breaks down and Cody bulldogs Kendrick down, with London making the save. Holly and London are sent outside, leaving Kendrick to grab an O’Connor roll for the pin.

Rating: C. I’m never wild on champions losing but Holly and Rhodes have no one to fight and London/Kendrick had a lot more miles left in them. Even if this is just a quick title program, it’s better than sitting around doing nothing or facing Cade and Murdoch again. Not exactly a classic but it did what it needed to do.

We look at the Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat series.

Wrestlemania highlight package.

Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk

Non-title. They go straight to the strikes with Jericho getting the better of it, setting up the front facelock. An exchange of rollups gets two each and Jericho clotheslines him down for two more. A backsplash (with Jericho grinning evily) sets up a chinlock with a knee in Punk’s back. As Lawler tries to remember the name Jean Claude Van Damme, Jericho misses the triangle dropkick but is fine enough to knock Punk off the apron.

Punk manages a neck snap across the top and the springboard clothesline hits Jericho in the back of the head. Punk’s dropkick misses but Jericho misses the Lionsault and bangs up his knee. Some kicks to the leg look to set up the GTS but Jericho reverses into the Walls attempt. With that not working, Jericho grabs the Codebreaker for the clean pin.

Rating: C+. That’s not a great start to Punk’s time as Mr. Money In The Bank but at least he has a get out of the midcard free card for later. Jericho is the Intercontinental Champion but still feels like he’s just kind of there. Granted just handing him the title because Jeff Hardy screwed up didn’t help things.

Ric Flair won the 1992 Royal Rumble.

Here is Big Show for a chat. Show congratulates Floyd Mayweather Jr. for needing a bunch of bodyguards, a steel chair and brass knuckles to remind the greatest fighter on the planet. For now though, Show is out here because of the Hall Of Fame. Ric Flair stood at the podium and said that despite facing Andre the Giant, Show was the greatest big man he ever faced. That meant the world to Show, who is going to go back to what he does best. He is going to make a promise….but gets cut off by Great Khali. We get the big showdown, Show tells him to get out of his face, and Khali does. Feels Backlashish.

Santino Marella is warming up before his anything goes match with Maria, who comes up and begs him to not go forward with the match. Santino mocks the Divas, saying they should be at home in the kitchen, making lunch and babies. He offers to let the match go in exchange for some other kind of release, earning a slap to the face. The match is on.

Matt Hardy vs. Randy Orton

Non-title. They go straight to the floor to start with Hardy getting the better of a brawl. Back in and Hardy sends him into the corner a few times before a neckbreaker gets two. We take a break and come back with Hardy fighting out of a chinlock so Orton slowly hammers away.

A belly to back superplex is broken up and Hardy’s moonsault press gets two. Hardy wins a slugout and grabs another neckbreaker. The middle rope legdrop doesn’t get to launch as Orton rolls outside, so Hardy dives onto him instead. There’s the Twist of Fate on the floor but it takes some time to get Orton back inside. So much time that Orton grabs the RKO back inside for the fast pin.

Rating: C+. Hardy may not be quite the biggest star in the world at this point but he can still wrestle a completely decent, if not better, match. It helps that he lost to the World Champion, which is hardly some career killer. Nice enough TV match here, with Hardy working hard and Orton getting a win to keep his momentum going.

Dusty Rhodes praises Ric Flair’s career.

JBL glares at Randy Orton.

Maria vs. Santino Marella

Anything goes. Santino shoves her down to start so here are mot of the Divas to beat him up (Victoria seems to be twisting his nipples). Maria adds the falling low blow headbutt and gets the pin.

Here is Ric Flair for his big farewell speech. Flair will never wrestle again but he is not sad about it. You should be happy that he got to have the greatest career of all time and lost to a great wrestler and better man. He has had more fun and loved all of us every day of his life. Flair thanks the fans and goes to leave, but here is HHH to interrupt (Flair is already in tears).

HHH says a lot of people want to say thank you, starting with himself of course. Now that being said, there are some other people backstage who want to say thank you. There was one group of guys in the back and since HHH was talking to them, his hand keeps creeping up into four fingers. Cue the Four Horsemen (Tully Blanchard, JJ Dillon, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham) and Flair is just done.

This is followed by Batista, Ricky Steamboat, Harley Race, Greg Valentine, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, John Cena (maybe not the best time for “Your time is up”), Flair’s family, and Shawn Michaels (with the camera catching a quick glare from Batista). HHH points out the matching watches Shawn and Flair have before just having the rest of the locker room come out.

After a long celebration and a lot of hugging, we get some bonus footage from after the show (brilliantly titles AFTER THE SHOW) with Undertaker coming to the ring. The wrestlers in the aisle part so he can walk by (that’s such a cool visual) and the ring clears out. Undertaker does the full entrance, including taking off the coat and hat, as Flair isn’t sure what is going on.

We get the hug and Undertaker drops to his knee for the pose to Flair in a great show of respect. Leave The Memories Alone plays and even Vince McMahon comes out for a hug of his own (despite starting all of this). Vince yanks Flair’s arm to hold it up for the posing before leaving the ring to Flair. The family gets back in and Flair gets to soak in a lot of cheering (and dropping the elbow/knee on his coat for old times’ sake) before walking up the aisle to his own music to end the show.

This was a very special moment and it felt like the kind of tribute that Flair deserved. Like him or not, Flair is one of the biggest names in modern wrestling and getting to see him getting this huge celebration was great. The amount of talent in the ring alone made this feel special, with the fact that they were there for one person making it even better. Awesome stuff and one of the best moments WWE has had in a long time.

Overall Rating: B. This was the post Wrestlemania Raw and while it didn’t have the big storyline moment, it did have the huge Flair tribute at the end and it felt like a special two hours. They can get to the bigger stuff next week, but for now we had a mixture of a deep breath after Wrestlemania and some stuff being set up for the future. Good show this week, with the Flair stuff more than carrying it to the next level.



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