Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Raw Report

Date: 06/05/06 from Pittsburgh, PA.

The Big News: On a noteworthy edition of Raw, Triple H finally split fully from the McMahons and gave Vince the pedigree. Also on the show Randy Orton returned, we got our first glimpse of Harry Smith on WWE TV and ECW invaded.

Title Changes/Turns: HHH already was a face, but it’s complete now.

Match Results: Carlito Caribbean Cool b Shelton Benjamin; Big Show b Triple H-DQ; Eugene Dinsmore b Matt Striker; Lance Cade b Kane-COR; Johnny Nitro b Charlie Haas; Beth Phoenix b Victoria.

Show Analysis:

At the opening of the show, Shane McMahon confronted Triple H in the locker room. Shane told Hunter that he knows what happened was an accident and they are cool. However, he noted Vince feels differently. Shane said he finds the Kiss My Ass Club embarrassing, and implored HHH to speak with Vince.

They then went to the contract signing for Rob Van Dam vs. John Cena. Heyman introduced RVD. Both RVD and Cena got boos, and there wasn’t much enthusiasm for either. RVD took the microphone and waited forever for the non-existent ECW chants that the script writers apparently anticipated. He then delivered a totally un-RVD promo about how Cena would get booed at One Night Stand. If they insist on scripting RVD interviews, the least those writers could do is watch what RVD would say when he was over and try to recreate that. Paul Heyman reiterated the point, and finally was able to tease out some tepid ECW chants.

Cena said he was a fan of ECW and liked and respected it. But, Cena said that he is keeping his title. He said he has been booed out of a building before, and some Cena sucks chants started. As opposed to RVD, Cena is still so good even when he has to deliver these scripted lines. It makes me wonder what he could do if they loosened the reigns and let him go. I think it would lead to much better promos, and it would also give the character a lot more authenticity. In fact, that may be the only thing keeping him from reaching Austin/Rock level on the mic.

After Cena signed, Heyman said that on Wednesday, there would be a 20 man battle royal with wrestlers from ECW, Raw and Smackdown. Balls Mahoney, Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk and the Sandman then came out through the crowd to the ring. This still drew only the lightest of ECW chants. Cena went to fight them but got caned by Sandman almost immediately and they all jumped him. Sabu then delivered a really sloppy attempted Arabian face buster off the top rope through a table. For some reason they actually showed two replays of this after the break despite the fact it was botched so badly.

The Raw wrestlers made the save, including Harry Smith in his debut. I can’t for the life of me understand why they didn’t just tell him to stay in the back. This guy is a potential long term headliner. There’s never a second chance to make a first impression, and the first impression many fans will have of him is “who’s that guy with the British flag on his tights that just ran out?” The lack of crowd reaction to this segment (unless somehow television just didn’t capture the level of excitement in the building) was an ominous sign, but it was entertaining.

Carlito beat Shelton Benjamin in a non-title match. I think they should bill Carlito as from Puerto Rico rather than the Caribbean. It will boost his fan base in Puerto Rico, New York and Boston, and using a broader area as a hometown just sounds weird. Jim Ross seems to get this point by noting Carlito as being from San Juan during the match. Benjamin was in control early with a kick to the head, snake eyes, and a snap mare.

A double clothesline gave Carlito his opportunity, and he came back with a knee lift and clotheslines. Carlito hit a springboard elbow for a near fall. Benjamin responded with a Samoan drop, but missed the Stinger Splash. Carlito hit the back cracker for the clean pin. Crowd seemed dead for this match for whatever reason, but it was good. I like this program, although I wish they had protected Benjamin better going into it.

Jim Ross said he’s seen See No Evil twice. That poor masochist. Luckily for WWE, it cannot possibly be the worst movie of the year, not after I saw Date Movie over the weekend. If the horror completely fails, it will at least be funnier than that.

HHH went to see Vince backstage. Vince described getting his privates shaved and waxed, as if anyone wants to hear about that. HHH said he wouldn’t join the Kiss My Ass Club, so Vince came up with Plan B. If HHH beat the Big Show, they would call off the ass kissing. HHH accepted and Vince sent him out to the ring immediately.

Big Show beat Triple H via disqualification. The match basically didn’t happen. Show was sent to the outside at the beginning, and the Spirit Squad ran out and jumped Show for a disqualification. A furious HHH confronted Vince backstage. Vince said he didn’t know what the Squad did, while HHH figured it to be a conspiracy. Vince said there was now no alternative but for HHH to kiss his ass. He said that if HHH didn’t do it, he would never wrestle for a championship again.

Eugene beat Matt Striker. Striker wanted to know why Eugene thought he could beat Striker. Eugene said he has a tutor, Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Just like that, there went my hope that Eugene would join ECW and cut a promo about how ridiculous it is he has to act like he’s mentally handicapped to keep a job in WWE when he is a highly skilled wrestler. Eugene is precisely the sort of wrestler that should be moved to ECW: guys with potential that are really under-utilized in their current roles. Thanks to Duggan there was a lot of enthusiasm for this match, and Eugene won with the three point stance.

Umaga jumped Eugene and Jim Duggan after the match. He smashed them into the ring post, and delivered a head butt off the apron onto Duggan. He followed that with the Samoan spike. Armando gloated afterwards. Okay, I was wrong about this act. Umaga and Armando are now one of my favorite parts of the show.

Kurt Angle came out to a huge reaction. I love his mouth guards. Anything that’s good enough for Quinton Jackson and Randy Couture is good enough for me. Angle said he is proud to be with ECW, but nothing was going to stop him from coming back to Pittsburgh. Mick Foley came out, taking issue with Angle going for the cheap pop. Angle said he agreed with everything Ric Flair said about Foley. Foley brought out Edge, who he said has more wins over Angle than anyone in WWE.

Edge said Angle is usually like the Steelers, but next to Edge he’s more like the Pirates. Angle responded with threats. Edge said Angle’s career ended when he was drafted by ECW, and he will hate it there. He pointed out that Angle’s first interaction with ECW saw him walk away in disgust, and he has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse. Angle said he has always proved his critics wrong, and this isn’t the ECW of 10 years ago. He went after Edge and Foley. He gave Foley an Angle slam and applied the ankle lock to Edge. Randy Orton then returned, giving Angle the RKO from behind. He accepted Angle’s challenge for One Night Stand. This was a nice, intense segment.

Lance Cade beat Kane via count out. Trevor Murdoch said that Kane got lucky against him, but it wouldn’t happen against Lance Cade. Kane dominated the match and hit the choke slam, but a video played and Kane walked to the back and was counted out. Backstage, the New Old Kane beat up the Old New Kane again. Joey Odessa has made Kane vs. Kane a heavier favorite for Worst Feud of the Year than Fedor was a favorite against Zuluzinho.

They aired the first vignette for the debuting Highlanders. Their gimmick is that they are Scottish guys out of some previous century who have arrived in America. They appear to be comedy faces ala the Bushwackers. It’s another dead-end gimmick with no upward potential, but at least it’s cute, and this was an amusing vignette.

Johnny Nitro beat Charlie Haas. Nitro dominated early but Haas came back with clotheslines and was booed for his effort. Haas hit a monkey flip and hard kick to the head. Melina came into the ring and tripped, distracting Haas. Nitro rolled him up with the tights for the pin. What crappy booking. Hey WWE, get some balls. Pick some guys you want to push. And have them win matches. If someone had won this match relatively cleanly, it might have helped them. Instead you do a lousy BS finish to protect both guys’ non-existent positions, and nobody gets helped. This match might as well have not even taken place.

Beth Phoenix, accompanied by Trish Stratus, beat Victoria, accompanied by Mickie James. Victoria went after the neck, but Beth came back with a snap suplex, chops, a clothesline and a drop kick. Beth hit a side slam but the referee with distracted by Mickie. Trish knocked Beth out of the way and Beth hit the falcon arrow for the pin. They need to explain Beth’s motivation to some degree immediately so the fans know what to make of her.

Jerry Lawler said that Tazz isn’t that tough, and he’s a bad announcer. Lawler said he choked out a lot of people, but that is illegal in wrestling. Not in ECW. And of course the irony is that Lawler’s finisher for many years was the pile driver, which is illegal in Mexican wrestling as well as many American territories. Maybe they can bring in Perro Aguayo, Jr. to reprimand Lawler. In any event, he accepted Tazz’s challenge for One Night Stand.

Backstage, HHH told Shane that he wouldn’t be kissing Vince’s ass. Shane put something in HHH’s water and they both drank from their water, but HHH spit it out and switched the waters while Shane turned his back. Shane then hilariously called Vince right in front of HHH, and he might as well have said “Hi Dad, I just put some chemicals in Hunter’s water and he’s drinking it now. He’ll be drugged and then we can take advantage of him as per our plan.” Seriously, it was only slightly subtler than that. HHH and Shane then heartily drank from their waters. I liked the story here of HHH outsmarting the McMahons.

Vince McMahon brought out Triple H at the close. Vince said he had no malice. HHH acted like he was drugged and collapsed, so Vince cut a promo about making HHH and nobody being bigger than Vince. He then pulled his pants down yet again. He ordered Shane to get HHH ready, but Shane collapsed. HHH stood up and gave Vince the pedigree to close the show.

Final Thoughts:

This was one of the better editions of Raw this year. It was an entertaining and eventful show, and the major story arcs of HHH/Vince and ECW were done well. The booking was better than usual. Still, this was the week of a PPV, and the week of a PPV is not the time to make match results look like an irrelevant joke. They did that three separate times on this show, which is counterproductive towards the goal of getting people to order a PPV to see issues resolved through matches.

I’m getting more curious to see the crowd reactions at “ECW” shows. It’s become readily apparent than the current WWE audience doesn’t care about ECW. It could be excused to some degree in California or Texas, but this show was in Pennsylvania. While Pittsburgh was never as strong of a market for ECW as Philadelphia, it drew some strong crowds over the years for ECW.

The ECW fans for the most part don’t follow WWE in 2006. Those that do likely don’t consider WWE’s ECW to be representative of what ECW used to be. I know I don’t. Current WWE fans don’t know what ECW is, and as currently constituted, it has few of the attributes that made ECW cool in the first place. Thus, I don’t see crowds being as vehemently “pro-ECW” as last year’s One Night Stand, and I think reactions will surprise, particularly after the first few shows that run in the major Northeast markets.


Anonymous Phil said...

Historically, babyface v. babyface feuds don't draw all that well, at least in comparison to their face v. heel counterparts. Consider Hogan v. Warrior at WM6 as the most prominent example of this, though there are many others that did worse. I suppose Austin-Rock at WM17 is an exception but it's a rare one.
So how is a PPV headlined by two babyfaces with varying degrees of unpopularity going to do?

4:07 PM  
Blogger Corey said...

I cannot believe you didn't mention Lillian's bump. One of the best bumps taken this season.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

That's a really good point Phil, and it almost feels like a heel-heel feud at this point, which is even more of a non-starter. I will be very curious how this PPV does, because it is so unlike most of their PPVs, for better or worse.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Ligerbusa said...

One of the BETTER RAWs? I seem to be in the majority who thought it was horrible. Bryan Alvarez seemed it up perfectly on the Bryan and Vinny show.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

What do you think have been the better Raws? I genuinely am interested to hear your answer. Because lord knows I can come up with criticisms of that show, and they're all over, but you can do that with just about every Raw these days.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous MAZ said...

If you were to sit down and start listing out wrestling greats, how far would you have to go before you get to Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, Sabu, Terry Funk and the rest of the ECW dregs? There's not a single one of those guys that belong in the ring with John Cena.

Hate to see the angle that they've taken with RVD.

Loved the Angle-Edge confrontation. Now there is a matchup that will draw. It's a shame that the powers that be are more interested in giving us Edge & Foley v. Tommy Dreamer & Terry Funk. Didn't really care for the Randy Orton slant. I'm really tired of there always being some kind of curve being thrown.

Lawler v Taz - Who cares!

Still don't care for Umaga.

I'll be interested to see if they try to use Lillian's injury to set up Viscera against whoever put her out. Not that I really want to see that.

7:46 PM  
Blogger 17Haze said...

I really didn't like this edition of Raw either. I'm tired of the McMahon kiss my ass club. But it will keep coming because it got the 2nd highest rating of the year. I also didn't like the amount of wrestling on the show...which was there was little to none.

But Todd I'm glad you liked it because to me that means your not to critical. I don't know how many people on the internet just criticize every little thing the WWE does and love TNA no matter what. This is the first RAW that I haven't liked in a while but its not like it was terrible. For whatever it was worth, it served a purpose.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Not that I have a problem being in the minority, but I'm not sure how heavily I really am in this case. The Observer poll was actually pretty positive on the show as compared to most weeks, as an example, for what it's worth. But yeah, Bryan certainly wasn't a fan of the show. I hate the Kiss My Ass gimmick, but this show wasn't really about the Kiss My Ass club so much as using that as a backdrop to get over HHH as a face.

Also, as far as wrestling greats go, Terry Funk ranks pretty damn high. It's not fair to judge him based on the end stage of his career.

11:09 PM  

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