So what happened next, after Night of Champions? Monday Night Raw began the road to Summerslam with the return of the Beat the Clock tournament. Guest host Shaquille O'Neal announced that John Cena, Triple H, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, & MVP would each have an opportunity to earn the next title shot vs. Randy Orton. Shaq would also end up as an enforcer for the main event, a non-title tag match pitting Chris Jericho and his new partner, Big Show, vs. Cryme Tyme, visiting from Smackdown.
Beat the Clock results:
Mark Henry def. Carlito Colon in 6:49 with the World's Strongest Slam. A flaw in the booking is that it restricts the title pool to the five men being pushed in this tournament. There is no provision that allows for someone like Carlito, who's never had a real sniff at the World title, to be put into a position where he can upset the applecart and earn the title shot himself. To Carlito's credit, he presented himself as a possible future contender, but his lone mistake came in attempting his signature finisher, the Backstabber. Carlito merely bounced off Henry, who simply no-sold the move. The end came soon after.
MVP went to a double countout with Chris Masters at 3:39. The real surprise was Masters returning after nearly 2 years away in this spot. The battle spilled to the floor, and more than once Masters pulled MVP away from the apron, then locked on the Masterlock (full nelson) at 8. Referee Scott Armstrong counted both men out, so MVP's been eliminated.
Triple H went to a time limit (6:49) draw with Cody Rhodes. This exposed another mistake in the booking, as would be evident later. Pre-match, Ted DiBiase, Jr. clipped HHH with a tire iron backstage, hoping to weaken "The Game". With under a minute to go, DiBiase came out and got on the apron to taunt Helmsley. Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler stressed that if DiBiase made contact, then Rhodes gets DQd. But that would still be a win for HHH, lowering the time. Instead, Hunter ends up getting screwed by Legacy for the 2nd straight night.
The correct call is to call the DQ anyway, with about 20 seconds left, but when your head writer is a moron......!
Evan Bourne def. Jack Swagger at 3:40 with an inside cradle. Note what I said earlier about the "spoilers", such as Bourne, not being given an equal opportunity to earn the title shot. If they allowed this to count, then Bourne would've advanced, but that isn't what Vince McMahon wants. Swagger, the former ECW champ, looked more like a green rookie than normal against Bourne, who countered Swagger's Doctor Bomb finisher into a cradle for what amounts to a mild upset.
John Cena def. Mike Mizanin via submission with the STF at 4:23. Miz cut a pre-match promo claiming he was going to run out the clock to block Cena's chances of earning the title shot. Unfortunately, Miz also told the audience how this was going to end. These two had a better TV match a month ago, but given the time constraints, this was a little on the sloppy side.
Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, & Gail Kim def. Beth Phoenix, Rosa Mendes, & Alicia Fox. Kelly was never tagged in, as they are subtly setting up a program between Gail & Mickie over the "Divas" title, which Mickie won at Night of Champions. The heels were not given an entrance, which is 95% of the time a sure sign that they're going to lose. Gail tagged herself in and pinned Fox after a missile dropkick off the top rope. Expect something to break down between her & Mickie in the next couple of weeks.
That's because former champ Maryse may be headed for the DL, if not back to Florida for more seasoning. Reports have it that Maryse will be heading to Dr. James Andrews' office in Birmingham to have her knee checked out. The match vs. Mickie was universally panned by critics, but now it seems there might've been an alibi for the poor performance.
Kofi Kingston def. "The" Brian Kendrick. Kendrick cut a promo on Jerry Lawler, but lost track of time. He never noticed the referee call for the bell, and Kingston, the US champ, nailed his Trouble in Paradise finisher, scoring the fall in nothing flat. I'd say from bell to bell, the match actually lasted less than 30 seconds!
Hornswoggle def. Chavo Guerrero. Again. This time, Chavo was blindfolded. More comedy with these two, and it's getting old already. Chavo missed the frogsplash, but Hornswoggle didn't miss with the tadpole splash. Earlier, Shaq said he & 'Swoggle (Dylan Postl) went to high school together. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Non-title: Cryme Tyme def. Big Show & Chris Jericho-DQ. The match started at 11:03, so you knew that this wasn't going too far. This set up Big Show for another SportsCenter moment when he had a post-match confrontation with Shaq, who bum rushed the colossus out of the ring with a shoulder block. Expect the two teams to be rematched on Smackdown on Friday.
Actor Jeremy Piven, star of Entourage and the new movie, "The Goods", hosts next week, but one match is already on the books, as Triple H will face Rhodes & DiBiase in a handicap match. In an interview with Josh Mathews, HHH said he'd been focusing on Randy Orton so long, he'd all but forgotten about the two stooges. Not anymore. If I'm Rhodes and/or DiBiase, I'd start considering vacation plans.......