Monday, May 08, 2006

Raw Report Plus

Date: 05/08/06 from Anaheim, CA.

The Big News: Mick Foley turned heel on Tommy Dreamer and joined Edge’s side. The initial turn has to be termed a failure, but there is a lot of upside in this move, and once Foley is able to cut a few promos, this initial awkwardness will likely be forgotten.

Title Changes/Turns: See above.

Match Results: Rob Van Dam b Chris Masters, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin; Matt Striker b Carlito Caribbean Cool-DQ; Mick Foley b Edge and Tommy Dreamer; Mickie James b Maria; Umaga b Tommy Wilson & Kevin Martinson; Big Show b Kane-DQ; Kenny Doane, Nicky Nemeth, Johnny Jeter, Mikey Mondo & Mitch b Shawn Michaels & John Cena.

Show Analysis:

I was at the show live, so I’ll start with the Heat results. Trevor Murdoch beat Goldust with his feet on the ropes. Goldust looked really out of shape. Eugene then defeated Tony Drake with the stunner. Eugene got a good reaction from the crowd. Rob Conway and Victoria beat Viscera and Torrie Wilson, a result that made me happy. They did a comedy bit where Torrie gave Victoria the stinkface. Conway tagged in and wanted the stinkface from Torrie, but instead got it from Viscera. Victoria pinned Torrie with the Widow’s Peak. Finally, Gene Snitsky beat Lance Cade via DQ when Trevor Murdoch interfered. Goldust made the save. Heat made for an ungodly boring opening to the show.

Jim Ross returned to the commentary booth. Skipping through sections of the show on tape when I got home, I didn’t notice anything particularly notable about his commentary. He didn’t really dismiss Styles, his point of view or ECW, which was good for both his credibility and Styles’. Really, Ross could have cut the same promo as Styles on the current product. It’s nice to have him back in any event.

HHH came out to start the show. He got a total face reaction. He basically said he knows he has gotten his chances at the title and hasn’t succeeded, but he wanted an additional, immediate title shot anyway. John Cena came out and said that HHH hasn’t earned a title shot lately, but that he would give it anyway. Vince McMahon then interrupted, and said they wouldn’t have a title match. He said HHH would get a title shot at some point, but not in Anaheim. HHH was a smart ass again, but Vince wasn’t having it. He gave HHH the night off and made John Cena and Shawn Michaels vs. the Spirit Squad.

One thing that was apparent in the arena is that the people who still like John Cena really like him. I think his fans genuinely like him more than his detractors genuinely dislike him. Of course, this doesn’t come across on TV because boos and cheers mixed together tend to come out sounding more like boos. That’s what happened with Griffin-Ortiz and that’s what frequently happens with Cena I think.

Rob Van Dam beat Chris Masters, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas in a four way. Coming to the ring, RVD had a stare down with John Cena, which was a nice tease of their upcoming match. RVD before the match said he agreed with everything Joey Styles said last week, and encouraged fans to chant ECW. Crowd didn’t really cooperate. There wasn’t anything wrong with the match, but it never really built, and felt disjointed. Finish saw Masters apply the Masterlock on Haas, but RVD flew in with a sunset flip on Masters for the pin.

They did an angle where all the co-stars in Kane’s movie talked about him being hard to work with and a nasty individual. One of them said May 19 a bunch of times so Kane choked him. Matt Striker beat Carlito via DQ. Very early in the match Eugene ran out and attacked Striker for the DQ. Carlito gave Eugene a back cracker for his efforts. They are trying to turn Carlito into the Rock with the heel mannerisms and face character, but not everyone has the Rock’s charisma to pull that off. They should just focus on getting him over as a face first, and then worry about adding edge to the character.

Mick Foley and Edge didn’t end up having a real match. Foley said that the winner of their match would be the greatest hardcore wrestler today, but they couldn’t do that without ECW. Thus, he made a triple threat hardcore match with Edge vs. Foley vs. Tommy Dreamer. The match didn’t really take place. Foley hit Dreamer from behind with a barbed wire bat, and then handed the bat to Edge. Edge hit Dreamer in the head with it, and Foley dropped an elbow with the bat. Edge leg dropped it into Dreamer’s groin. Foley then applied the socko claw and Edge hit the spear for the pin. Edge and Foley shook hands.

This didn’t take well live. The crowd didn’t react to it. They just didn’t seem to want to boo Foley. There was very little booing, and it wasn’t a shocked reaction either. The crowd just didn’t know how to react, and the turn was met with apathy. The problem to me seemed pretty clear. Mick Foley has been a baby face for just about eight years now. In order for him to turn heel, he needed to do something that really made the fans upset.

Beating up Tommy Dreamer didn’t do the trick because fans don’t care enough about Dreamer. To WWE fans he is barely known and insignificant. ECW fans, if they are even watching Raw, saw Tommy Dreamer get badly beat up about 8,000 times over the years. That was basically the story of the entire run of ECW, so there was nothing to provoke a strong visceral reaction. Hindsight is 20/20, but this was the wrong way to do the initial Foley turn.

That said, I really like the idea of a Foley turn in general. There are a lot of reasons why Foley can work as a heel now, and he has always been a great storyteller as a heel. His heel role in ECW was great, and he can tinker with that now. I also understand why they would involve Dreamer in this angle, given he was a key player in the original anti-hardcore Foley heel character. When Foley has a chance to explain himself and tell the story, I still think this is going to take off and do very well. But this wasn’t a successful first step, unfortunately.

The one other problem with this whole scenario is probably not a major point to many, but it was to me. Arrowhead Pond mostly sold out in advance, so fans purchased their tickets not expecting Foley vs. Edge. However, I made the decision to buy a $50 ticket (well, close to $70 once those criminals at Ticketmaster got done with me) to this show and drive down in the middle of exams specifically because they advertised Edge vs. Foley.

That was the match I wanted to see. They didn’t deliver that, and instead did a basic bait and switch. I can’t fault them too much for it, because a TV bait and switch to do a surprise heel turn seems valid. Still, I felt ripped off personally, and perhaps that’s a good argument for avoiding bait and switch under any circumstances. Larry Matysik certainly emphasized that point in his book on Sam Muchnick and St. Louis.

Mickie James beat Maria in pretty much a squash with the leaping DDT. Afterwards Mickie beat up Maria and Trish Stratus, until Beth Phoenix made the save as a crazed fan and went after Mickie. Mickie apparently knows her in storyline, as she was screaming that no one invited her. Umaga won a squash against a pair of jobbers. I continue to be befuddled by the people they choose for pushes.

Big Show beat Kane via DQ. They did chain wrestling, telling the story that Show was trying to lighten up Kane’s mood. However, once the lights went out and the voices said May 19, Kane flipped out again and attacked Show repeatedly with a chair. The crowd was chanting May 19, and holding up signs for it, which is pretty damn clever to get the crowd advertising for your movie without even really realizing it. I was surprised at how much reaction there was to this match when they advertised it throughout the show, but the crowd turned on it when they were doing the mat wrestling.

The Spirit Squad beat Shawn Michaels and John Cena in a handicap match. The Squad worked over Cena for much of the match, until Cena finally fought them off and made the hot tag. Michaels came in with punches, but the numbers game came into play. Michaels was hit with a title belt for the win. The Squad laid out the referee and whipped Michaels with his belt. HHH came out to presumably make the save, but as he came to the ring Cena cleared the ring and HHH gave Cena the pedigree to close the TV show. Afterwards, John Cena won a triple threat cage match over Edge and HHH.

Final Thoughts:

I really wanted to like this show, but I ended up finding it a bore.


Blogger Ligerbusa said...

I continue to be befuddled by the people they choose for pushes.

- Jamal was great in All Japan. But, really..what's he supposed to do as a wild samoan? I hoped they would have just brought him back as Jamal.

12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo. I finally get to read a Raw Report that is insightful AND makes sense. I just surfed over from Scott Keith's Blog. He's got some chimp writing the Raw reviews who has less writing skill than an illiterate immigrant. I hope you recap Raw every week because I will be here reading.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

For a few weeks now, the connection I've made with Carlito's new character is with Eddie.

10:50 AM  
Blogger 17Haze said...

Raw does just enough right now to get me to want to watch the next week. Which I guess isn't bad but they could step it up. Mick Foley's heel turn was done awful, but like you said he can probably make up for the poor booking with a hell of a heel promo next week. The ECW tease and DX teases are nice. I thought they planted the seed nicely for Cena vs. RVD as they had the stare down before the IC title match. The first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes of Raw has been good lately, I just wish they would have some better wrestling in the middle.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

RVD predictably failed to get a loud, consistent ECW chant going during his match. This typifies what I foresee will prohibit WWE from making ECW successful as a national product. There just are not enough ECW fans out there anymore. Considering how small the fanbase was when they had a national TV deal over five years ago, it cannot work even if they keep all those fans which is unrealistic. WWE fans are not going to buy into an invasion angle which places Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, Sandman and whoever else as main eventers and nor should they. Parallels between this and the failed WCW invasion are insane. ECW can work as a glorified independent/developmental as there remains the fan base for that. But for WWE or anyone on the internet to hope for more is unrealistic.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Steve, the point of comparison between Rock and Carlito for me was the idea that the character is so cool he heels on the other faces and stays face. That was always an attribute that Rock could pull off, and they never really tried that with Eddie. It ended up having that effect anyway (see fan reaction when he turned on Tajiri), but I don't recall them having Eddie turn on other faces as a way to get him over as a big face. No question in terms of his general mannerisms they are trying to recreate Guerrero. The fact he's Puerto Rican rather than Mexican or Chicano I don't think helps their cause, but we will see.

4:23 PM  

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