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RAW 3/26

WWE RAW from Allstate Arena just outside Chicago provided a solid night of action that gives us the last look at the RAW brand before Sunday's mega WrestleMania 23 in Detroit. The main event was a No Way Out rematch as Batista and Undertaker took on John Cena and Shawn Michaels. Of course as I pointed out the other day, Cena was booed heavily in this match, as he will be Sunday vs Michaels. The end came with Taker walking out on Batista, returning the favor from No Way Out. Then, in a move that was done perfectly, Michaels finally superkicked Cena to end the show, and after they did an odd commercial break, they came back to show Michaels at the top of the ramp, giving a shrug with a DX sign to close the show. It was a great way to end the last show before Mania.

The show as a whole did a good job for Sunday, but the one thing I was hoping for was for them to add another match, which they did not. This means unless they do something crazy at the last minute, the following wrestlers will sit on the sidelines for the mega event:

Ric Flair
Carlito
Chris Masters
Hass & Benjamin
Eugene
Johnny Nitro
Kenny
Cryme Tyme
London & Kendrick
Chavo Guerrero
Gregory Helms
William Regal

Now most of those names may not reek of deserving to be on the show, but how you can leave Flair, London and Kendick, and Chavo off the show is a shame. With just 8 matches, you easily could have put 2-3 more on, but I sense that with the card at 8, your looking at a 40+ minute match with Cena and Michaels. I think that the way they are building it, they know that done right it could be the match of the year for the company.

Back to RAW, the open with Coach and Steve Austin was funny enough for me to have to watch twice. The facials for Austin laughing when Coach said that "bald is beautiful" was one of the funniest moments in the WWE in a long time. I think that overall they have done a solid job in building the Austin ref angle for Sunday, and I think that unlike WM 20 when he was in the Goldberg-Brock Lesner nightmare, he will be more effective in this role Sunday night.
As far as in-ring stuff, the divas six-woman match was okay, with the faces getting a win, the CM Punk win over Kenny was solid, and boy, did Punk ever get over with the hometown fans. Hard to believe a year ago he was a "gangsta" in a prop for Mania when John Cena was introduced for his match with HHH.

There was an effective interview with the 8 men in the Money in the Bank match, which also has the possibility of going 30+ minutes Sunday. It got over each man as they all got some mic time with Edge involved with each of them. I thought the Bobby Lashley vs Vince McMahon match was kind of the downer of the night. Coach stated to start the show it would be a No-DQ match, and that anyone that got involved would be fined and suspended. So, five seconds into the match, McMahon has guys running in to help him. Didn't make sense. Of course they had to have a beat down of Lashley, as that will clear him for the win on Sunday.

Then we had the announcement of JR going into the Hall, which shocked me since it was by far the loudest ovation for a guy going in since Hulk Hogan two years ago. JR deserves it, and its hard to fathom that they have tried to move him from the announcer spot on RAW twice in the last few years. Maybe now they will realize how much he truly does mean to the company and to the sport.

Khali took on Ric Flair, which was a quick exchange before Carlito got involved, and then Kane came out with the hook to further their match at Mania, which I have been outspoken about should go no more than 5-7 minutes. Then we had the main event, which again, was about as good as it should have been, and really made you want to see the show on Sunday.

A great show, a great way to wrap up RAW going into Mania. Now with two more TV's left before Sunday, we'll see how the package wraps up as we get set for the show Sunday in Detroit.

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