Live from Portland, Oregon this is the Raw Deal…The show started with Undertaker coming out as Michael Cole told us we were watching Raw. No Nickelback song is great because I live in Canada, we have the radio on at work and that damn song is on every two hours it seems. I hate it. The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels begin PromoManiaThe Undertaker kept his hat on the entire segment because I guess he didn't want to show off his orange hue like two weeks ago. He cut a promo, said "Rest In…" and then Shawn came out. Michaels said he wasn't going to finish his line because Shawn had something to say. Michaels said the loss at WM25 was a cloud hanging over his head, but he woke up and the cloud was gone because he realized that the Undertaker fears him. Oh no you didn't. The fear word. Uh oh. Shawn said that Undertaker thought that Shawn would say no to the retirement, but Michaels didn't because he believes he'll win. Nothing lasts forever. They added a "no DQ, no countout" stipulation to the match because Shawn wants there to be no doubt that he'll win at WrestleMania. Undertaker basically agreed, then busted out one of his "gates of hell" lines and Michaels told him that after the match the dark cloud will be hanging over him. Michaels said it will be the image that hangs over him for the rest of his life. Shawn walked away while the Undertaker made goofy faces and they did the visual of Michaels looking at him while Undertaker was staring at him with the shot appearing on the screen over his shoulder. I liked that look. The promo was pretty good as all their promos are. Michaels outshined him with his words, but I think that was the point. This was his chance to cut a promo as the underdog that believes in himself. I kept waiting for Undertaker to call him "five foot nothing, one hundred and nothing" like in Rudy. It didn't happen. In all seriousness, this was a very strong promo that I enjoyed. Ten minutes in length works for me too. Adding the "no DQ, no countout" stipulation works because it adds something new to the match that last year's didn't have. <!--more-->Eve Eve, Kelly Kelly & Gail Gail d. Maryse, Katie Lea & Alicia (1/2*) In case you don't know, Maryse launched her official website here and it's fantastic. It's nice to see a woman in WWE photographed in a sexy way like they used to be before the PG era. She's ridiculously gorgeous. The finish of this was obvious because the faces came out to Eve's music. She's getting the next push. I think she's fine in the ring although I don't like her dropkicks since they barely connect. The top rope armbar finish can definitely work if they do it enough times.Guest host Criss Angel met up with Hornswoggle, the Bellas & Jillian. He pulled a string through his nose, then out of his eyeball. That's nice. Jillian came in, she wanted to sing for him, but Criss wasn't a fan so he snapped her finger and she was unable to talk. I'm sure this entertained somebody. I wasn't one of them. Those "secrets of magic" shows have completely ruined magic for me. I just shrug my shoulders now. Thanks masked magician, you ruined it for all of us!The Miz and Big Show came out to talk about how shitty the tag division is. Really. This is coming from a team that has been together for what, three months? They beat DX twice because DX stopped giving a shit about tag matches, but suddenly they're credible. Anyway, Truth & Morrison – their WM opponents – came out for a match. Since it's Raw, Truth's intro song got cut in half too. I'm not complaining about that; just stating the facts. They're trying to come up with team names for Truth & Morrison just like on Smackdown. They've even extended it to Twitter. Doesn't really matter. They're not winning and Morrison should be getting a singles push. The faces took it to the heels and the match got thrown out. This was done to prove that Morrison & Truth were a legit team. Crowd was hot for all of it, so in that sense it worked. Can somebody tell Lawler that the team is called Shomiz rather than MizShow because he gets it wrong every week? Lawler just doesn't give a shit anymore. It's obvious. I respect his career and I used to love him, but it's time to send him out to pasture. People get old. That's life. Backstage, Cena said that he's counting on Batista showing up during the Cena/Vince match in the main event. Lots of serious voices from Cena. No jokes, people. THIS IS SERIOUS! Backstage, Evan Bourne thanked Angel for booking him in a MITB match against Regal. Kofi who? I guess we have to pretend the guest hosts actually book matches again even though they always seem to announce matches randomly. What ensued after this was a "write a number on the paper" skit involving Regal, his dumb rookie Skip Sheffield and Angel that they insisted was "real." Amazing. The number was 56 and Angel got it right. Thanks for reminding me why I don't give a shit about magic. Ted Dibiase & Cody Rhodes d. Randy Orton (**1/4)This feud is still going on? I guess so. They got 12 minutes. The crowd was really supportive of Orton early, which was great to see. The face turn has worked fairly well even though some of Orton's physical actions need to change. The heels beat on him for a while until he made his comeback, but he succumbed to the numbers game. Dibiase ended up scoring the pin with his Dream Street. Post match, Rhodes did his Cross Rhodes finisher to keep Orton down. The best part was the end when Dibiase & Rhodes did the Orton arm pose over Randy's prone body. Good stuff. The announcing for this match was brutal by talking about how it's an upset if Dibiase & Rhodes won. No. Two guys should always beat one guy especially if they're not jobbers. This is WWE, though. Even when they should put over somebody clean they always have to kiss the loser's ass to make sure he looks good. That's why nobody ever really gets over with the crowd because we're told that they're all the same. I assume they do the triple threat at WM with Orton winning that. I expect Dibiase & Rhodes to get drafted to different shows in April. Backstage, Batista told Josh that he won't get involved in Cena vs. McMahon. Sure.Next week's guest host is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Thank you. About time. I miss him. Excited to see him back even for one night. Triple H and Sheamus continued PromoManiaHunter came out to talk about Sheamus attacking him last week and mentioned that he understood why Sheamus would be mad at him since he beat Sheamus in the Chamber, gave him a concussion (he did have a legit concussion) and prevented him from getting a title rematch. Actually, the fear of a shitty Sheamus/Batista match prevented that from happening. Sheamus came out. It's funny seeing them face to face. Hunter is bronze, Sheamus is white like glue and they've got the same beard although the colors are so different. Hunter put Sheamus over by saying he had a hell of a first year by retiring people (whattup Jamie Noble) and winning the WWE Title. What about the Goldust feud on ECW? No? He said it might be the best first year ever. Nope, that's Brock Lesnar. Can't mention him, though. Hunter talked about how he was like him, was undefeated and then he got destroyed at Mania (that would be the Ultimate Warrior in WM12 although they didn't say his name). He said he bounced back, then became the guy and while some beat him (he said Cena & Batista although didn't mention Benoit obviously) others lost and went back to being nothing. That's funny because The Rock, Big Show, Jericho, Booker T and Orton all won world titles after losing to HHH at Mania. I know the truth hurts, but I'm not making it up! They brawled around the ring a bit with Hunter winning it after a spinebuster, which led to Sheamus bailing. It was still a very effective promo even if he stretched the truth. Later in the show, the match was officially announced for WrestleMania. They had Santino do the knife under the cups trick with Criss Angel who again assured us THIS WAS REAL and not rehearsed. The only good thing here was Santino referencing Ralph Macchio aka the Karate Kid. Lame skit. Evan Bourne d. William Regal to qualify for Money in the Bank (1/2*)Christian was on commentary trying to put over the Money in the Bank match. Even though Bourne loses all the time, he got to win in about 90 seconds. Fine with me. The people in Money in the Bank match are good in terms of having a good match. Lots of good athletes involved. I still say McIntyre's going to be added as a very late addition (maybe even on the night of WrestleMania) and win the match as Vince's boy. They can add a 9th guy randomly to get Drew in. It would be foolish to keep him off the card. It would be nice if Christian won, though. The WrestleMania recall (I miss those!) was Austin stunning Lesnar and Goldberg at WM20. Of all the Austin clips, that's what they choose? I loved the crowd during that match. Fantastic setting. They plugged next week's Raw with three WrestleMania rematches. I love next week's show already for two reasons and it's not for Big Show vs. Cena (I wonder if Cena can lift Big Show – shoot me now) or HHH vs. Orton, both of which are matches I never need to see again. I love it for Michaels vs. Jericho (feud of the year 2008), which I'm going to enjoy because we're not going to see HBK on Raw regularly until August again due to his vintage summer vacation. Give them 15 minutes in the ring at least, please. I don't expect a clean finish, that's fine. Let me enjoy Jericho/Michaels at least. I also like Austin being in the ring with Hart/Vince for the contract signing next week. I'm such a huge mark for Austin/Hart stuff that I will be going nuts just seeing them on TV together. Too bad the STUPID broken leg angle is still going on. Whatever. I'm excited to see Austin again even in PG WWE. I will mark out even if Steveweisers are replaced by root beer. The new HBK DVD is out today. I was lucky enough to get it early. The interview part is fantastic. I haven't even jumped into the matches yet although I've seen pretty much all of them before. It's HBK, though. You know it's good stuff. I'll be writing a full column on HBK soon. Not sure exactly when, but it will be before WrestleMania. Vince McMahon's Gauntlet d. John Cena (*)Angel was the ring announcer for the match. Do you think Vince has to do drug testing like everybody else? I say no. We found out that it would be Cena vs. a gauntlet of men in a vintage swerve that stacks the odds against the babyface. Kozlov came out because I guess the babyface turn fell flat (shocking), hit a move, Vince got a two and then McIntyre ran in randomly. He hit a move, Vince got a two and called out Swagger. What, no pushups or airplane spin on his way to the ring? He means business! Swagger got some offense on Cena with the splashes out of the turnbuckle, Vince covered and got two. You mean Cena kicked out of a move that everybody kicks out of? Crazy! Mr. KOOL-AID Mark Henry came out apprehensively because he's friends with Cena, but Vince made him do it. Henry hit the slam, Vince covered and that got two as well. Vince made it a handicap match, but Henry refused to help him. Out came Batista, who drilled Henry with a spear. Suddenly Kofi Kingston came out to try to help Cena, he got some offense in, but ultimately suffered a Batista Bomb. That was pretty random. Cena punched Batista enough to stun him and went after Vince going for the Attitude Adjustment. Batista prevented it by giving him a spear and then hit a Batista Bomb. Vince covered for the win.The show ended with Batista standing over Cena's fallen body. In case you're counting, it took five people to apparently beat Cena. He's tough, don't you know? I like the build for the feud. On Smackdown you have the face Edge conquering Jericho at every turn while on Raw you have the heel Batista in the driver's seat. The booking has been solid. Have to say I'm a little sad that Batista didn't bust out one of his weird clothes styles this week, though. Three Stars of the Show1. Shawn Michaels – Love serious Shawn promos. 2. Evan Bourne – Because he actually won a match.3. Triple H – He made me care about the Sheamus/HHH Mania match even though he stretched the truth.5 out of 10Last week: 4.5Not great, but not that bad either. That's why it gets a 5 out of 10. I thought the promos by Michaels, Undertaker and HHH were pretty good although as I wrote about the Hunter one it stretched the truth a lot. In terms of getting the new feud over, it worked well. That's what matters. The Orton/Legacy feud was better this week. It's not as hot it could be, though. I like how strong they've made Batista while stacking the odds against Cena. I'm not like most people online seem to be. I want to see the match because I think their styles could work. Maybe I'm crazy in thinking that it could be good. I don't know. One last thought. They must be really pissed at Kofi Kingston for the Orton feud. He's not even in the Money in the Bank match. They put Evan Bourne in it even though he's barely won any matches on Raw in the past 6 months. Kingston was in the Elimination Chamber match, yet now he's not even in Money in the Bank? What a shame. Being relegated to the pre-show battle royal sucks. He deserves better.Polls are back. Instead of star of the night, we're going to be doing the poll on the 1-10 scale with 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest. I want to know what you guys thought of the show. Vote now.Rate the 03/08 edition of Raw on the 1-10 scalepollsThanks for voting!------------Commentfest goes here. I'll put it up by 8pm ET on Tuesday. ------------Keep checking out the blog at thejohnreport.net for daily content. We've got reviews of NXT, retro PPV columns, some columns from other writers and other random stuff from my warped mind including a quick post about the "news" about wrestling that you may read on the internet. Check me out on Twitter at Twitter.com/johnreport and I'll make you a deal. When I reach 1000 followers (over 800 now) I will write a column called "The Top 100 WWE PPV matches from 2000 to 2009." If I get to 1000 twitter followers, I'll get to work on that column. That's a promise. I'll be posting my thoughts on Impact on the blog probably on Wednesday. I haven't seen it yet. I will watch it Tuesday night most likely if I get some free time and try to post some comments on the blog on Wednesday morning at some point. Thanks for reading. John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the blog: thejohnreport.netAdd me on Facebook at Facebook.com/thejohnreport and Twitter at Twitter.com/johnreportAOLIM: OratorJC MSN: email@example.com Visit My Archives to view ten years of The John Report columns.