Monday, August 07, 2006

Raw Report

Date: 08/07/06 from Memphis, TN.

The Big News: Umaga made it a sweep against the members of DX, defeating HHH a week after downing Shawn Michaels. But it was Ric Flair and Mick Foley that again stole the show.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Match Results: Trish Stratus NC Mickie James; Kane b Shelton Benjamin; John Cena b Viscera; Edge & Lita b Carlito Caribbean Cool & Trish Stratus; Randy Orton b Jerry Lawler; Umaga b Triple H.

Show Analysis:

The show began with Vince and Shane McMahon. Maybe Vince Russo is in fact booking WWE again, because they were doing the Flying Elvises gimmick that worked so well in the early days of TNA. Vince and Shane basically recounted their feud with DX while doing Elvis songs and mannerisms. This was the epitome of uncool. I felt sorry for the writers and the McMahons because of just how lame they came across in this segment.

Trish Stratus and Mickie James were going to have a women’s title match, but all we got was a replay of the badly botched Stratusfaction from last week. Yes, they actually showed that again. As soon as they locked up, Edge came out. He said the match was over, and Mickie left. Edge then whined about not getting respect, and pointed out the SummerSlam poster was built around everyone but him and Trish Stratus is on the cover of the new WWE Magazine. Lita called Trish a slut and threatened her, so Trish fought back. Edge pulled Trish off and gave Lita the chance to hit Trish with a spear.

Edge was going to spear her as well, but Carlito made the save. Edge speared Carlito anyway. This was just a disaster of a segment. They completely and totally buried the Women’s Title to an unbelievable extent for absolutely no reason. I wouldn’t treat any title like this unless it was going to be dropped the next week. Moreover, it buried the WWE Title as well to have Edge pointing out rightly that he is a total afterthought as champion. That’s fine for the heel to say if it isn’t true, but it has been true and was certainly true on this show, so you shouldn’t be pointing this out to the fans.

The “bury the titles” edition of Raw continued, as Kane defeated Shelton Benjamin to become the number one contender for the Intercontinental Title. The problem? Kane hasn’t won a match on Raw since May 23. Well, he’s the number one contender anyway. Benjamin came in with an impressive springboard bulldog at the beginning of the match. Kane came back with a clothesline, side slam, and clothesline off the top. He went for the choke slam but Benjamin kind of reversed into what was supposed to be a DDT. He went for the T-Bone but Kane escaped, and Benjamin leaped off the top into a choke slam.

John Cena came out to boos. He did a comedy promo making fun of Edge and Lita. The material was awful, but Cena’s delivery saved it. He wanted Edge, but Coach said that Edge was already booked and he would wrestle Viscera. Cena then defeated Viscera. Viscera hit a Samoan drop, spinning heel kick, avalanche, and power slam. He applied the camel clutch as well, but missed a splash. At that point Cena hit the FU for the pin. The move was very impressive, and looked even better than when he did it to Big Show to me. This match accomplished what it sought to do perfectly.

They did this week in WWE history. Usually these little vignettes are great, but this week was an exception. They referenced the August 9, 1980 Shea Stadium show. I bet many of you already know where this is going. They brought up Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan and Bob Backlund & Pedro Morales vs. Wild Samoans, but not Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbyszko. That’s kind of like bringing up UFC 60, and acting like Diego Sanchez vs. John Alessio and Brandon Vera vs. Assuerio Silva were the top bouts. Maybe if they are on bad terms with Steve Austin and the Rock next year they can act like Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon was the top match at WrestleMania X7.

Backstage, Trish was angry at Lita. She vowed to “whoop that trick,” which was just great and the clear highlight of the show up to this point. She paced back and forth in anger and then grabbed Carlito and kissed him. Elsewhere, Shane McMahon was looking for Shawn Michaels. It was a setup, as when Michaels jumped Shane, security pulled Michaels off and took him to jail for striking an officer in the skirmish.

Edge and Lita defeated Carlito and Trish in a mixed tag match. Carlito dominated Edge early with a knee lift and clothesline. Edge tagged Lita, and Trish went after Lita with the Charlie Thesz press, strikes and a whirly bird. Carlito and Trish hit drop kicks to clear the ring. Carlito went for a springboard elbow, but Lita interfered and Edge gained control. Carlito came back by hitting the move and tagging Trish. Trish came in with the drop kick, a chop, a spine buster, and the Stratusphere. Edge went to spear Carlito, but speared Trish accidentally. Lita covered Trish for the pin. This was a very well laid out match with a nice finish.

The commentators went after the 1999 study about violence in wrestling fans. They really showed their insecurities here. WWE should spend less time whining about such findings and spend more time putting together a product that isn’t consistently insulting to anyone with a brain. Randy Orton backstage was asked about Hulk Hogan’s knee problems. He said that Hogan knows he will be in trouble if he faces Orton at SummerSlam.

Next came this week’s show stealing performance from Ric Flair and Mick Foley. Flair brought out Foley Is Good. He said he wanted to know what makes Foley tick so he can get Foley to accept his challenge for SummerSlam. He proceeded to attack Foley’s book with knees, elbows and punches, and threw it into the crowd. He then kept one page, which he said proves Foley is a fan of Flair. He noted Foley’s top ten wrestling matches of all time, and Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk at New York Knockout was number one. He didn’t point this out, but Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat from Music City Showdown was also on the list at number four. Flair said Foley is afraid of him and knows he can’t beat him.

Mick Foley came out and admitted he is a Flair fan. He said Flair was a better wrestler than Foley ever was. He said he hates Flair more than anyone else he has met in wrestling. He added that Foley vs. Flair would be the real main event of SummerSlam and would put Flair’s name right back at the top, and he can’t let that happen. He said Flair kept him from his dreams in WCW, so now he will use his creative control to keep Flair from his.

Flair said that Foley can’t walk away from the glory of wrestling Flair in the greatest hardcore match of all time. Foley said he would accept the challenge for an I Quit match. Foley said this may be Flair’s greatest match, but it also may be his last. Flair said may one of them bleed to death in Boston. It wasn’t completely clear to me why after all this time Foley accepted the match, but other than that this was another fantastic segment from Foley and Flair. This also was probably the first week where Flair outshined Foley. Foley-Flair is easily the best pro wrestling hype job of the year.

Randy Orton beat Jerry Lawler. There wasn’t much to this. Lawler was really over. He slapped Orton twice and hit a body slam. He missed a fist drop off the second rope. Orton went for the RKO, but Lawler got out and almost sent Orton into the referee, PWG favorite Marty (who I was sitting next to and chatting with just a couple weeks ago). Orton used the opportunity to hit a low blow, execute the RKO, and score the pin. This was a bit of a disappointment, as it just came across as a throwaway match and they didn’t give it any time.

They ran a vignette for the returning Jeff Hardy. His appearance alone may violate the wellness policy. They then went to the diva search segment. They eliminated the particularly vacant looking woman. They decided to play a game of “dis the diva” where they got to talk about why they are better than the others. They were all booed. They should do a spelling bee as one of the competitions. Now that would be entertainment.

Umaga beat Triple H. Umaga was accompanied by Vince, Shane and Armando. Umaga hit a kick, head butt and butt drop. He missed a head butt off the ropes, and HHH came back with a face buster and clothesline. He went for the pedigree but Umaga reversed. HHH still hit a spine buster and covered, but Vince pulled the referee out of the ring. Shane jumped HHH from behind. HHH gave Shane a belly to belly suplex and went for the pedigree on Vince. Umaga hit him with the Samoan spike for the pin. Vince gave HHH the pedigree after the match.

Final Thoughts:

The last couple weeks I said I was happy with Raw overall because there was nothing counterproductive. This show was pretty similar to those overall, but there was a lot more stupid, counterproductive nonsense that never should have aired, particularly in the first hour. Still, it gets a mild thumbs up for solid build going into SummerSlam and another great segment from Mick Foley and Ric Flair.

12 Comments:

Anonymous MAZ said...

Didn't sound like much of a show.

I'm not a particular fan of the women's wrestling scene, but I can't help but note that the women's title has been completely buried as of late. A Trish/Lita feud really doesn't bring much to the table if a title is not involved.

I'll say it again that Edge currently has absolutely no competition and the upcoming Edge - Cena PPV will probably have a lot of people pulling for Edge.

I agree with regards to Kane. He's been completely absent and in one match he's now the #1 contender for the IC title?

Cena vs Viscera?

Anyone else tiring of the DX vs the McMahon's?

Is Hulk Hogan really injured or is that just an angle that they are working leading to up to his match with RKO? It sounds like the RKO/Lawler match was pretty much a squash. Seems odd that they would do that to Lawler in Memphis.

Okay, Umaga has now beaten all the WWE superstars with the exception of Edge. So is he our #1 contender for the WWE title? Is there anybody out there that wants to see Umaga battle for the title? It amazes me how hard the WWE is working to build Umaga while burying others with far more talent.

6:32 AM  
Anonymous MAZ said...

I forgot to address Foley and Flair.

I think that their I quit match is a golden opportunity for the Spirit Squad to move back into the limelight. As I think about the Foley/Flair match, I would like nothing more for the Spirit Squad to interupt their match in a manner as to say out with the old wrestlers and in with the new and then have the members of the SS jump Foley and Flair. The way I see things, I don't think Foley or Flair work as heels right now.

A Spirit Squad/Foley & Flair feud would offer an angle that we have not seen in a while. I would also serve to strengthen the heel status of the Spirit Squad.

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Mean Dean Okerlund said...

Call me crazy, but I want to see Umaga challenging for the title. Him, Edge and Foley/Flair are the only acts on Raw that interest me right now.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Dave Ling & Franchise said...

Did Maz just say he wants to see the Spirit Squad interupt the Foley vs. Flair match?

Dude, with ideas like those you need to seriously e-mail vmcmahon@wwe.com right away because you're sure to get hired on as a SmackDown booker.

7:50 AM  
Blogger FlairRocks said...

John Cena came out to boos

-----

Hm... to me it sounded like he got 90% cheers (for once) and was generally super over with the Memphis crowd

8:13 AM  
Anonymous MAZ said...

Dave,

I personally don't think that Mick Foley works well as a heel. I do like the Foley/Flair angle because I think that it provides the younger wrestlers the opportunity to watch and learn.

A big problem that I have with this match up is the fact that once it is over, neither wrestler has much of a direction in which to go. Plus, my impression is that the crowd likes both Foley and Flair which makes pulling off such a match that much harder. A Spirit Squad interference gives Foley and Flair the opportunity to team Foley and Flair which I think that the crowd would enjoy and elevate the heel status of the Spirit Squad. Will it work? Who knows?

If it does work, then I would suggest that at some point we see a Spirit Squad and McMahon's vs DX, Foley and Flair.

If I'm going to go to work for Vince, then I want to start off at ECW so (1) I can teach Kelly how to take her clothes off and (2) I can bring back Barry Horowitz to kick Tommy Dreamer's ass.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Apparently Vince Russo booked the Flair-Foley segment as well. Foley's whole "you held me back in 1994" speech is aexactly the same stupid, inside, counterproductive nonsense typical of the Russo era in WCW. This stuff means nothing to the common fans and plays into the fact that wrestling is all a work. You have to portray a meritocracy on television and write as if wrestling were a legitimate sport. This means match outcomes matter and especially no promos like this. I also have no idea why Foley suddenly accepted the match either. Like the Cena segment, the delivery saved it but the content really lacked this week.
--They really should have had the women's title match later in the show.
--WWE has a very good counterargument to make regarding the Pediatrics magazine story. It just takes more than 30 seconds to make it, so they can't make it on TV. Instead of leaving that to the website or ignoring it all together, they throw in petty insults and cheap shots that make them look worse.
-- I feel it may be for the best if Hogan misses SummerSlam and they do the match the following month in Toronto. That way he'll be healthier and they can buid it for a few more weeks which it needs. I say this even though I'll be at SummerSlam.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

I thought the show was ok. Granted, I have TiVo and got to ff through a lot of the crap. Cena vs. Vis was a pretty good segment. Kane vs. Shelton was better than expected (though did it seem to anyone else that Shelton was wrestling as a face and kane a heel?). I think if Benjamin just had a nick name and perhaps some character development, he could get over. How is anyone supposed to chant "Shelton" or "Benjamin?" Give him something people can chant and put on a T-Shirt.

Anyway, what I really wanted to respond to was the Foley/Flair stuff. I'm sorry, but you really sound like a smark on this one. I like both of these performers, but the crowd took a big dump on the segment just like every crowd has since the angle began. I can't believe you would call this WWE's best hyped feud of the year. I think good hype would require some form of crowd interest. Then there was Foley's completely non-sensical, abrupt decision to do the match. Sorry, but I didn't buy their explanation. Was there even an explanation? Regardless, fans don't seem to want Foley as a heel, and people not on drugs can't understand a thing Flair says these days.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally didn't understand Foley saying he will never wrestle Flair and then out of nowhere accepts to wrestle him...WHAT???

11:43 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

The legitimacy of the Hogan injury is indeed a question, but it isn't a work on the part of WWE. The people questioning it were questioning whether Hogan is making it up, as he has in the past. I don't believe he is.

I don't know what you do with Umaga. To me he's too much of a cartoon feature to use in a prominent position in 2006. He fits in a feud with Hogan and Undertaker, but that's about it. It's another case of WWE choosing its pushes badly, although I admit to being increasingly entertained by Umaga and Armando.

I agree that Foley isn't working as a heel, but I'm not sure if teaming him with Flair would work. And I think they have given up on Spirit Squad already. If you were to go with Maz' scenario though, I think at the least you would want to have the match resolved before they interfered. It would be the wrong kind of heat otherwise with no resolution after all the build.

Cena did come out to heavy boos. He got more cheers over time because people didn't seem to like Edge and nobody liked Viscera, but coming out it was distinctive because I was kind of expecting a more positive reaction.

I was cool with the Foley stuff about Flair holding him back because you can work it into kayfabe as well. Flair didn't let him rise in the card, didn't book him in prominent matches, etc. To me it doesn't scream that the whole thing is a work, but I totally understand what you're saying about that and the danger there.

I totally agree that Benjamin could get over with a different character. Really it's just a question of giving him some definition. I think ECW would be so much better off right now if they had put him in the Big Show position. It's not like Show has any more credibility as a main eventer in 2006, and Benjamin would have much better matches and actually have the potential to get over as something special.

Show isn't going to mean anything coming out of this. He'll just be another tall guy after he loses the belt just like his 800 other aborted pushes. Benjamin could benefit from a nickname. Maybe the Truth, which I've loved as a nickname for ages and they could rip off from Brandon Vera or Homicide's ROH entrance.

As far as Foley/Flair, I love the stuff. I don't think it's fair at all to say the crowd took a dump on the segment. The crowd has never been over the top excited for any of their segments, but they have had tons of long segments and I have never sensed the crowd was bored or disinterested. They don't know what's going on and they don't want to boo Foley, but it's not like they are rejecting the feud.

But I do agree with you that Foley's decision to do the match didn't make any sense and was abrupt. I was kind of expecting Flair to say next week he'll retire if he loses, although I wasn't sold on that as an idea because Flair did that in 1994, lost, and then un-retired in less than 6 months.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Dan Wahlers said...

Good report Todd. Just one thing though. I agree with you about burying titles and all that. But the woman's title was buried a long time ago. It's hardly a new thing. Personally, I would have have rather seen the Edge promo than yet another Mickie/Trish match anyway.

Flair/Foley was the highlight of the show again, although their material wasn't nearly as good as last week. I'm just happy they are letting Flair be Flair on the mic.

The man is one of the greatest mic workers in history. He doesn't need a script, just give him a mic, and send him out there. Same goes for Foley. It's been a pleasure to watch their verbals jousts every week. If both guys are motivated, which it appears they are, the I Quit Match at Summerslam could be really good.

Maz...it seemed odd that they would squash Lawler in Memphis? LOL!! Nah, they never like to embarrass guys in their hometown. :)

12:07 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Of course the women's title is already buried. But you don't have to go out of your way to make it even more clear. I mean, just have Trish wrestling Victoria in the opener when Edge comes out. It's the exact same angle and you don't have the championship treated like total crap. But yeah, it's not like this was some huge blow given the way they've treated that belt (or the IC belt) in the recent past.

I actually gave WWE the benefit of the doubt on Lawler-Orton. I figured of course Orton would win, but they would do it in such a way to make it feel like an important event and something exciting to get Orton over. It was just a squash, though, and did come across as a pointless burial.

2:51 PM  

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