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Ian Clark's Raw Recap With Criss Angel

Yessir we promised you a great main event here tonight, and I guess the Monday Night Wars are back on. Undertaker's gong opens Raw, so far topping the opening of Impact. No spoilers though. The Deadman is out in his old jacket and ring gear.

"Last week was symbolic of what Shawn Michaels' life has become since he became number seventeen in the seventeen and 0 undefeated streak. Shawn Michaels... (HBK Chant overtakes) Shawn Michaels' life has now got a dark cloud that hovers above him, unable to be shaken.

And Shawn Michaels' obsession with ridding himself of this cloud will force him to pay the ultimate price: his storied career. Shawn Michaels, what you need to understand is, after WrestleMania, there will be no tomorrows, there will be no celebrations, there will be no sense of triumph.

For Shawn Michaels there will be no victory. Only the same dark cloud that will rest over his head for the rest of his life. It brings me no joy in saying this, but the fact is in three weeks, Shawn Michaels' career will rest... in...--"

Shawn Michaels is out and walking to the ring with determination. "No, not tonight. You don't get to finish your line. You haven't earned that right, not yet. You're right, for the last year it's been hanging over my head, following me everywhere. Last week I went to bed, I was angry, I was full of rage and I woke up in the morning, and the cloud... the cloud was gone.

I had an epiphany. You see, the reason I cost you the Heavyweight Championship is because I had no choice, I had to. But you, you interfered in my match last week and you didn't have to. And that's when it occurred to me, for the first time ever, inside the cold black heart of the Undertaker exists fear."

"Now if I were you, I would choose my next words very carefully."

"Fear! Because you're the only one who knows how close I came to ending it all last year. That's why you asked me to put my career on the line. You thought I'd say no. This has been my life for the last 25 years. You think I'd risk everything if I didn't know I could beat you? Nobody lives a perfect life, Undertaker. Nothing lasts forever, nothing! And at WrestleMania, I'm going to prove it."

"Is that right? Well I can't tell if I'm looking at a man who just exudes all this confidence, or a man full of pitiful desperation."

"No, I'm not desperate. Last year I'd have taken anything. Countout, disqualification, anything to have my hand raised in victory. Not this year. With so much on the line. That's why I wanna propose right now, no countout, no disqualification, only pinfall or submission. And make no mistake about it: I'm going to kick your teeth down your throat and beat you."

Taker pauses for a moment. "So it shall be Shawn. You have chosen your own demise. You know, I can look in your eyes and I see the fire, the passion, the will. I can look into your soul and I can honestly say I see, you think you can defeat me at WrestleMania.

You know I guess that's what makes you the Showstopper, the main eventer, hell, Mr. WrestleMania. No! Not this year! Shawn, in my opinion, you may be the greatest that ever stepped foot in this ring, I'll give you that. But listen to me now, on March 28th, I will open up the gates of Hell, and I will unleash a fury like no man has ever seen to make sure, at WrestleMania, your career is over!"

"You keep telling yourself that, Undertaker. You keep telling yourself that. After WrestleMania, that dark cloud, it's gonna come back, but this time, it's gonna be hanging over you. It'll follow you everywhere you go, and inside that cloud will be an image that will haunt you forever. It's going to be an image of the Heartbreak Kid beating you and ending your WrestleMania undefeated streak."

Michaels' music plays as the two seethe at each other. Nice opening promo to say the least. Commercial.

Match One: Katie-Lea Burchill, Alicia Fox and Maryse vs. Gail Kim, Eve Torres and Kelly Kelly

Fox and Kim start, Kim with a neckbreaker into a headlock, Fox gets the whip, Kim somehow knocks Fox out of the ring, another whip, Kim nails Katie, Fox gets a clothesline for two, Maryse in. Maryse hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Maryse knocks Kelly off the apron and taunts Kim, who hits her and tags in Eve, who hits a clothesline and two dropkicks for two. Maryse with shots and a whip, Eve with a hairpull takedown, senton, cover broken by the other two heels, who are chased off by their counterparts. Maryse charges, eats an elbow, Eve goes up top, gets an armbar locked in, Maryse taps.

Winners: Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly and Eve Torres

Wow, the weakest in-ring of the three faces is getting the push. Le sigh...

Criss Angel is hanging out with Hornswoggle, the Bella Twins come in and ask to be his special assistants. Criss promises a demonstration and puts a string in his mouth which he then pulls out his eye. Sexy. Jillian walks in and does another singing bit until Criss Angel somehow renders her mute. Showmiz is on their way to the ring as we go to commercial.

Slam of the week is R-Truth and JoMo winning a tag title shot last week. Showmiz comes out with a mic.

Miz: "Last week John Morrison and R-Truth earned the right to challenge us at Wrestlemania. Earned the right? Really? Not since the British Bulldog and Lex Luger teamed together to bore millions at Wrestlemania 11 has a team with so little credibility been given such an opportunity. We'd rather face The Bushwhackers. At least they're an actual team. Shame on the WWE Superstars in that lockerroom for not having the credibility and talent to be actual superstars.

Shame on the WWE Universe for not being able to see who's right in the middle of you. We are rare commodities, we are endangered species, look at the two superstars standing right in the middle of the ring. Get a good, hard look! Because we are the last truly great tag team in the WWE!

Match Two: John Morrison and R-Truth vs. ShowMiz (non-title)

And now they're just giving away the damn match... "Portland, Oregon, what's up?"

Killings and Miz to start, Truth with the shots, Morrison knocks Show off the apron, then the two of them clothesline Miz to the outside, and follow up with a baseball slide. Show comes in to draw the double DQ, and takes a double DDT. Miz then gets a slingshot on the security barricade.

Morrison: "You don't think we have credibility? You don't think we're a real team? We just showed you how real we can be."

Truth: "And that's the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That's what's up!"

Teaser reminds us Wrestlemania is only 20 days away. Graphic airs for Cena vs. Batista with Audioslave's "Be Yourself" playing in the background... the hell? Hey, anyone remember when that was Ashley Massaro's theme song? Anyway, video package airs, 45 minutes in and first of the night. I'm impressed.

Josh Matthews asks Cena about being left speechless.

"That's correct. I can't beat him. I haven't beaten him. He broke my neck, took my title, there's not much of an argument there. The only thing I can do... is beat him.

"John, do you anticipate Batista getting involved in your match with Mr. McMahon tonight?"

"I'm counting on him."

Evan Bourne thanks Criss Angel for putting him in a Money in the Bank qualifier. Willam Regal and Skip Sheffield interrupt and Criss does the standard "Think of a number" trick. I can't tell if it's scripted or legitimate but it worked. Replay of Elimination Chamber airs to explain

Match Three: Handicap Match: Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase

Orton attacks Legacy during their entrance, eventually focussing on Cody Rhodes before stepping into the ring before they go to commercial.

Back on, Orton starts off (obviously), as does Cody Rhodes. Lockup, Rhodes wins and kicks Orton in the turnbuckle, before Orton returns the favour. Whip into an elbow. Rhodes tags out. The two circle each other, and Dibiase takes early control. Whip reversed, Dibiase gets a kick, Orton answers with a clothesline.

Dibiase and Rhodes conversing in the corner, Rhodes in. Orton with a boot, then a shot, then a whip into the corner, reversed with an elbow, Dibiase and Rhodes get a double team in the corner and a foot choke. Dibiase chokes Orton and Rhodes gets a few more shots in before getting a cover for two. Whip, Orton blocks in the ropes and body drops Rhodes. Dibiase goes for a sneak attack, Orton spots him. Dibiase bails and Orton is alone in the ring as they go to commercial.

Back from the break, Orton is dominating both men. Rhodes tries to go up top but gets clotheslined in the gut instead. Rhodes hits a jawbreaker and throws Orton out, who nails Dibiase. In retaliation, Dibiase pulls Orton off the ropes and dropkicks him. Rhodes chases him out and throws him into the steel steps before rolling him back in the ring.

Rhodes hits a knee drop and tags in Dibiase, After a brief double team, Dibiase sets in a headlock. Orton climbs up and gets the elbows, goes off the ropes, Dibiase follows and hits a vicious clothesline for two. Rhodes gets the tag and a dropkick for two. Rhodes goes for elbows, then kicks him in the head. He then goes on to punch him in the corner, before hanging him up in the ropes and kicking him a la Hardcore Holly.

Dibiase in, tosses him into the corner and chokes him to a four-count. Rhodes in now, whip, Dibiase back in and Orton takes advantage. Two scoopslams and Orton goes ballistic in the corner. Dibiase gets a boot up, takes an Orton backbreaker. Orton stares up at the Wrestlemania sign with a frenzied look in his eyes and sets up for the RKO. Rhodes breaks it up and Dibiase hits Dream Street for three.

Winners: Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase

That was a great match for free TV! Rhodes gets up and hits Crossrhodes as the two Orton pose over the fallen body of their mentor. Batista is revealed to be watching on a monitor, and Josh Matthews asks for a statement.

"I think John Cena's never dealt with someone like me, and it's got him a bit messed up. His match tonight is between him and Vince."

"So you're not planning on interfering?"

"You have my word as WWE Champion. But if you see John Cena, tell him good luck. He looks like he needs a... confidence boost."

HHH is on his way to the ring as they fade to commercial.

Back from commercial, Triple H is indeed on his way to the ring. Video package recaps HHH vs. Sheamus so far.

HHH with a mic: "So here's the thing: I actually kind of respect what Sheamus did last week. I mean, if it was me, and someone had beat the hell out of me in the Elimination chamber, pinned me, gave me a concussion, basically humiliated me, I'd want to make a statement too. And so--"

Sheamus out. "Made a statement? That what you think? I'll make a statement of you at WrestleMania. Question is, do you have the guts?"

"Do I have the guts? Hell of a question, you've had a hell of a first year. WWE Champion, ended careers, possibly the best first year in the history of the business. But you've never been to the big dance, have you? And until you've been to WrestleMania, all your little accomplishments don't mean a thing.

I used to be in your shoes. I was on a rocketship straight to the top, undefeated, so I jumped on the biggest dog I could find at WrestleMania. And I got crushed. And I fell into a pit of obscurity until I had to claw my way back to the top to be the guy everyone wanted to make a statement against at WrestleMania. And a lot of guys tried. A few succeeded, and the ones that succeeded at beating me at WrestleMania, their careers took off to a level they couldn't have dreamed of. Ask John Cena, ask Batista. But that's the short list. The long list is the guys who failed.

The guys who couldn't beat me at WrestleMania and they fell back down into obscurity. Hell of a gamble, isn't it? Have you got the guts? Because here's the thing: You've got to lay it all on the line for one shot, just one shot at being immortal at WrestleMania... or being nothing. Before you take that gamble, you had better be sure."

Sheamus ponders for a second before they get into it. HHH throws Sheamus over the top, but Sheamus drags him out, goes for the bicycle kick and misses. HHH gets a Cactus Clothesline over the barricade and Sheamus tries to walk away. The brawl then heads to the ring where Sheamus takes a spinebuster and rolls out of the ring. Backstage, Santino Marella is talking to Criss Angel and telling him how all Italians are magic. He pulls off the thumb trick and challenges Angel to top it.

He takes out four cups and tells Santino to hide a knife under one, which he does. Criss asks him to put a hand on his shoulder and he's going to read his muscles. He slaps down the cups one by one before reaching the last one with the knife under it. I like how he's not actually pretending to be magic and admitting he's reading signs from his volunteers' faces.

Christian and Heath Slater are at commentary as Evan Bourne comes out.

Match Four: Money in the Bank Qualifier: Evan Bourne vs. William Regal (with Skip Sheffield)

Lockup, Bourne scores a takedown, Regal with the uppercuts, knocks Bourne on his ass in the corner. Bourne with roundhouse kicks, headlock, Regal with a whip and an elbow, then another. Double underhook throw for two, then an overhead suplex. Regal runs, Bourne gets a knee, goes up top and hits Air Bourne for three!

Winner: Evan Bourne

Didn't see that one coming. The participants are set: Bourne, Christian, MVP, Kane, Sheldon Benjamin, Matt Hardy, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger.

The WrestleMania Recall is Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar with Stone Cold as the guest referee. I think that last part is the only reason for the reference. Stone Cold will of course be the guest host for next week, and that should be fucking awesome.

A video package airs from last week when Bret Hart accepted the challenge of Vince McMahon. Vinnie Mac is on his way to the ring and commercial.

Cole and King announce that next week is WrestleMania Rewind week, featuring John Cena vs. Big Show, Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho and HHH vs. Randy Orton. Also, the official contract signing will take place for Vince McMahon vs. Bret Hart.

Criss Angel is the guest ring announcer for the main event.

"Good evening Portland, how the hell we doing tonight? I'm am so honoured to be here, Monday night Raw, live! I'm here to present the main event. First up, a man who will be fighting at Wrestlemania for the title, ladies and gentlemen John Cena!" Cena out. "And his opponent, the chairman of the board! Love him or hate him, Mr. McMahon!" McMahon out.

McMahon: "Alright Bret, I know you're up there in Calgary freezing your tutu off, but watch carefully. And no disrespect to the greatest illusionist of our time Criss Angel, but the result of this match will not be an illusion. But this match will not just be any kind of match, this will be a gauntlet match. Introducing your first opponent."

Main Event: Gauntlet Match: John Cena vs. Mr. McMahon and TBA

First it's Vladmir Koslov! Koslov with a powerslam. Now the headbutts and a spinebuster. Apparently McMahon is still legal as he gets tagged in. He goes for the cover for two before calling in Drew McIntyre, who punches Cena in the face and then stomps on him before hitting the STO and tagging in Mr. McMahon. There really are no rules here. McMahon gets two before bringing in Jack Swagger and they go to a commercial.

Alright, so I would surmise that the rules are that once you tag out you are eliminated. Also apparently Vladmir Koslov is a heel again. Either way I've just forgotten which show I'm watching.

Back on, Swagger is about to get the five-knuckle shuffle. Swagger hits a neckbreaker and a powerslam. He hits the splash, and announces "one more". McMahon gets the tag in and pins him for... two. He goes for another pin for two. Next it's Mark Henry, who Cole reminds us is friends with John Cena. Henry picks Cena up apprehensively and hits the World's Strongest Slam before tagging out and standing on the apron like he feels dirty.

McMahon gets the cover for two and somehow Henry is still in the match. I give up. McMahon announces there are now no disqualifications and grabs the ring bell as Mark Henry pleads with him to stop. McMahon shoves Henry, who responds rationally. McMahon hands Henry the ring bell, but he refuses. Batista runs in and spears Henry. Kofi Kingston runs in and attacks Batista before having a ten-punch reversed into a Batista Bomb. Batista drags Cena to his feet and Cena hits the clothesline.

McMahon tries to hide the ring bell before throwing it out of the ring and playing innocent. Cena sets up for the FU before taking a spear. McMahon goes for the cover, but Batista instead hits Cena with a powerbomb. McMahon goes for a cover and finally gets three.

Winners: Mr. McMahon, Vladmir Koslov, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry and possibly Dave Batista

Batista stands over Cena as Raw fades out.

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