MARCH 5 RAW RECAP: STONE COLD STUNNING ANNOUNCEMENT
In front of a sold-out crowd of 15,792 WWE fans, the Texas Rattlesnake arrived in the Arizona desert. The U.S. Airways Center exploded as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin entered the ring, officially announced as special guest referee in the Battle of the Billionaires at WrestleMania 23.
Mr. McMahon was dumbfounded as Eric Bischoff, Mick Foley and even Shane McMahon entered the ring to reveal that they had not been elected by the WWE Board of Directors as special guest referee. That's when the Rattlesnake struck. In true Stone Cold style, Austin chugged brews and gave the Chairman a complimentary beer bath. With billionaire hair on the line at WrestleMania, will Austin remain impartial? Or will the desire to see his old nemesis shaved bald skew Stone Cold's judgment when ECW World Champion Bobby Lashley faces Umaga in less than a month?
Earlier, the wild night began with World Tag Team Champions Shawn Michaels and John Cena in the locker room area. The tension in the air was palpable as HBK laid it all out for the WWE Champion:
"I will have your back until WrestleMania. I've turned against all my partners and more importantly, I've stabbed all my friends in the back. But with you, John, it's different."
After HBK told Cena he didn't need help for his match that night, the No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship entered the ring to face Randy Orton. Moments after HBK rolled Orton up for the win, Edge entered the ring to watch the Legend Killer treat Michaels to an RKO on a steel chair. In the blink of an eye, down the ramp came John Cena, who cleared the ring and saved his tag team partner.
The night was not over for Cena, however. Orton told Edge that he would not have his back during the Rated-R Superstar's match with The Champ, and after Edge refused to compete in the main event due to some excuse about Arizona being the last state in the Union to recognize Martin Luther King Day, Johnny Nitro stepped up in his place. Just as it looked like Cena had gotten the best of the A-lister, Joey Mercury interrupted the contest. Soon Edge and both male members of MNM were attacking the WWE Champion. Just then, Shawn Michaels blasted down the ramp only to stop just short of the ring. After almost leaving, HBK seemed to have a change of heart and entered the fray to save Cena. Was Michaels about to leave his tag team partner hanging out to dry?
In the first-ever Falls Count Anywhere Match for the Women's Championship, Mickie James battled current Women's Champion Melina in the ring, around the ring and even inside the Diva locker room! When the dust finally settled, Melina pinned Mickie to retain her title. But after Melina verbally attacked guest ring announcer Ashley, the future Playboy cover girl knocked Melina on her butt.
In what was meant to be the final Money in the Bank Qualifying Match for WrestleMania, Carlito faced Ric Flair, who in recent weeks had taken it upon himself to help mentor the Southpaw from San Juan. Before the match ended, however, The Great Khali stormed in and laid both Superstars out. In broken English, the behemoth screamed, "I want Kane!" Will Flair and Carlito get another opportunity to qualify for a trip to WrestleMania, or will the last spot go to someone else? Will Khali get his wish?
Also on Raw, the brutal Intercontinental Champion Umaga once again bulldozed fan-favorite Jeff Hardy. Can even the powerful ECW World Champion Bobby Lashley defeat this savage? Later, amidst chants of "U.S.A.," "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan failed to break Chris Masters' legendary hold in the Master Lock Challenge, and before the night ended, Nick Bockwinkel was announced as the newest inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2007.