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Monday Night RAW January 4, 2010
by Samoa Rowe

-This is a big night. Bret Hart returns as a guest host! They really stacked things to mess with TNA, who are competing against them tonight with a three hour impact, that has so far delivered the returns of Jeff Hardy, Ric Flair, Sean Waltman, and Scott Hall.

-They waste no time, as Justin Roberts introduces Bret Hart and the show begins! Considering how much has changed since he’s been gone, Hart gets a very good ovation from the crowd. Bret takes the mic and states the obvious in that “hell has frozen over.” He says that he’s been trying to come back for years, but Vince wouldn’t let him. Bret thanks the fans for all the support over the years. Bret acknowledges Jerry Lawler and calls out Shawn Michaels! A quick channel click to TNA shows me Eric Bischoff rambling on to a group of former nWo members. Back to Raw, Bret is asking Shawn for a truce. Shawn tells him he deserved what happened in Montreal. Shawn says that despite this, he’s changed over the years and when he thinks of Bret, he doesn’t think of Montreal, he thinks of their Iron Man match from Wrestlemania XII and other great moments. Then, hell really does freeze over, because the two men shake hands! HBK goes to leave, but turns around and HUGS Bret! This was amazing to watch. Michaels leaves, and Bret calls out Mr. McMahon... who is nowhere to be seen.

-Meanwhile, on TNA, Sting is hanging out in the rafters.

-Josh Matthews is fishing for an interview from Mr. McMahon. Vince claims he wasn’t watching and didn’t know that Bret called him out. Vince says that no one calls him out and that he’ll call Bret to the ring later on.

-Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler talk about the Divas Championship, which is vacant after Melina suffered an injury at a house show (which I attended, just in case you needed to know).

Maryse vs. Brie Bella (with Nikki Bella)
This is a first round tournament match to crown a new Divas Champion. Maryse slaps and hides in the ropes. Brie gets some rather horrible looking shots in. Maryse retreats, but Nikki smashes her into the announce table. Maryse kicks out of a cover and counters an awkwardly set up potential springboard spot. Nikki switches into the match, but Maryse catches it. Maryse nails a DDT to win at 2:18. This was truly awful.
Winner: Maryse

-The Miz (with new entrance music) comes out to congratulate Maryse. He tells her if she wins the tournament, he might call her back. Miz says that every moment from here on out is all about him. Miz takes his place on commentary, as a four-way match to determine his next challenger is next.

MVP vs. Jack Swagger vs. Carlito vs. Mark Henry
The match started during a commercial. Swagger and Carlito have managed to dump Henry from the ring and are double teaming MVP. Typically, things get messy when it’s time to decide who pins MVP. Henry rejoins the fray, but winds up dumping MVP to the floor. Henry swats off Swagger with Carlito and applies a bear hug. Swagger breaks it up but gets caught in a torture rack. MVP breaks it with a big boot and removes Henry from the ring. MVP propels Carlito into Swagger’s nether region and hits the playmaker for the win at 3:40 (shown). Too short to become anything special, but good for what it was.
Winner: MVP

-Chris Jericho and Big Show are discussing their plan for tonight. Jericho says he has a deal for Bret Hart that is too good to pass up.

-Jericho sucks up to Bret and offers to hurt Shawn Michaels, since he is sure that Bret secretly still hates him. He suggests that Bret be the referee for their match and to screw Michaels as revenge. Bret refuses, saying he doesn’t wanted to be perceived as being similar to Jericho.

-Hornswoggle is gazing at a bunch of new WWE action figures. Triple H shows up to help shill the products. Triple H will let Hornswoggle play with the toys if DX beats Jerishow. Michaels comes in and asks why HHH is treating him like a child, citing Hornswoggle’s beard. Santino Marella comes in, dressed as Jericho, and does a pretty good job mocking his usual promo. Hornswoggle attacks Santino and they brawl behind a couch. I guess DX is ready for their match. Triple H calls Hornswoggle like a dog and gives him a cookie for his, um, good work?

Unified Tag Team Championship:
Shawn Michaels and Triple H © (with Hornswoggle) vs. Big Show and Chris Jericho

HBK and Big Show trade shots. Blind tag by Triple H, but Big Show suplexes both members of DX. Cue the commercial. After the break, Triple H is fighting back against Big Show, as it appears he’s been isolated for a while. Jerishow take firm control. HHH nails a desperate spinebuster on Jericho, but Big Show reenters the match before HBK can get a tag. Show misses the Vader Bomb and Michaels gets the hot tag. HBK dismantles Show with a series of quick attacks. Jericho knocks HBK off the ropes, but Hornswoggle runs in and splashes Show. Cover by Michaels gets 2. Sweet Chin Music is countered with a chokeslam! Show can’t get the cover! Jericho tags in and counters HBK’s lionsault counter with the Walls. Triple H tags in and Pedigrees Jericho, but Show makes the save. Pedigree on Big Show! Jericho shoves HHH into HBK and rolls up The Game for a nearfall. Codebreaker on Triple H! HBK breaks the pin! Jericho kicks Hornswoggle in the head and goes for the Walls, but HBK hits SCM. HHH pins Jericho at 11:59. Decent formula match, but with a GREAT finishing sequence tacked on.
Winners and still Unified Tag Team Champions: Shawn Michaels and Triple H

-Triple H takes the mic to rub it in that Jericho is now finished on Raw. Big Show looks down on his fallen partner and walks away. DX eggs on the “goodbye” song as Jericho sulks out.

-Someone has knocked on Vince’s door... and it’s Randy Orton! Orton wants to put the past behind them, but Vince says what Bret did to him is far worse than what Randy put him and his family through. Orton offers to kick Bret in the skull (which would probably kill him, for the record) if Vince puts him in the Royal Rumble at #30. Vince says he has his own security and warns Orton to never confront him again. Orton walks away when Dibiase and Rhodes get into his face. They are still sore because Orton threatened them last week. Therefore, they will sit at ringside for Orton’s match with Kofi, and if he loses they are kicking him out of Legacy. Ooooo, the tables appear to have been turned.

-WWE Champion Sheamus comes to the ring for an interview. He claims that John Cena couldn’t beat him and he proved it last week (when Sheamus got DQed). His next title match will be at the Royal Rumble, and he wants a new challenge. Sheamus starts digging on Bret Hart, when he’s interrupted by Evan Bourne. Bourne steals the microphone and slides to the floor. Bourne says that Sheamus only has the belt because he was given an opportunity and challenges Sheamus to a title match now. Sheamus laughs it up and says if Bourne beats him tonight, he’ll defend it against him at the Rumble.

Sheamus vs. Evan Bourne
Bourne is fired up and unleashes a flurry of kicks. Bourne goes high risk and delivers the shooting star press, but Sheamus kicks out! Bourne flies again, right into the arms of Sheamus for a fallaway slam. Sheamus delivers the big boot and the Razor’s Edge for the win at 1:43. Painfully short, but I was marking when it seemed like Bourne could score the upset.
Winner: Sheamus

-Cole and Lawler take a moment to acknowledge the passing of “Dr. Death” Steve Williams.

Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton (with Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes)
They trade shots, with Kofi bouncing off the turnbuckles. Kofi dumps Orton to ringside and keeps him down with a drop-kick. Kingston blocks the DDT off the ropes with a backdrop to the floor. Cue the commercial. After the break, Orton has his patented chinlock applied. Orton becomes frustrated and resorts to pummeling and stomping. Kofi bounces up but wipes himself and Orton out with a crossbody attempt. Kofi breaks out his “controlled frenzy” offense. Orton retreats to ringside and eats a suicide dive! Flying crossbody by Kofi gets 2. After surviving an RKO attempt, Kofi hits the SOS for 2. Orton shakes off Trouble in Paradise and delivers the RKO for the win at 10:58. Bummer, dude. The match was by the numbers, but these two work really well together.
Winner: Randy Orton

-Mr. McMahon heads down to the ring for the main event interview. Vince doesn’t feel the need to call Bret out, since him and Shawn Michaels buried the hatchet earlier. Vince tries to turn everyone’s attention to next week’s host, Mike Tyson. Bret comes down to the ring uninvited and he doesn’t look happy. Vince is worried that Bret is here to put him in a sharp shooter and hopes that Bret will be a better man. Mr. McMahon whines about all the times that Bret disrespected him and asks for an apology. Bret thinks Vince wants closure as badly as he does. Vince changes his tune and puts Bret over for all his hard work and nominates his father, Stu Hart, for the WWE Hall of Fame. Vince thanks Bret for everything and they shake hands. They pose for the crowd, when suddenly Vince kicks Bret in the groin!

Final Thoughts: This was easily the Raw of 2010 so far. Stupid joke aside, this was a great episode. Seeing Bret in the WWE again was both surreal and rewarding. His encounters with both Michaels and McMahon were well executed and suspenseful in that you just didn’t know if they were going for something classy or if a swerve would be involved. Vince’s cheap shot at the end gives Bret an opening to stick around for a little bit too, so I gladly welcome that. Otherwise, we got two very entertaining matches in DX/Jerishow and Orton/Kofi. I must say, I really hope TNA’s experiment tonight is successful because when Raw is motivated to upstage another wrestling company, they deliver the goods.

Thumbs up!

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