Date: 10/09/06 from Columbia, SC.
The Big News: Tito and Ken fight tomorrow on free TV. Also, Raw was three hours rather than two.
Title Changes/Turns: None.
Match Results: Umaga b Kane; Big Show b Jeff Hardy; Shawn Michaels & Triple H b Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch; Chris Benoit b Shelton Benjamin; Dave Batista, Bobby Lashley & Rey Mysterio b William Regal, Fit Finlay & Chavo Guerrero, Jr.; Melina b Torrie Wilson; King Booker b Rob Van Dam; Ric Flair b Mitch; John Cena NC Undertaker.
Raw had a cool new opening and theme song. It won’t make a difference, but it was a nice touch. All the announcers from the three brands were there, and they interacted and bickered with each other throughout the show. John Cena came out to start the show with a weird segment. He said Raw is as strong as ever, he is still the champ, and Edge is out of the picture. That brought out King Booker. Booker said Cena may be a champ, but Booker is the champion of champions. He pointed out that he made Cena kiss his feet, while Cena retorted that he came to Smackdown and beat Booker’s team. He said Booker has lost his mind, and this isn’t a Renaissance fair. Cena challenged Booker, but they were interrupted by the Big Show.
Big Show said that he is the champ of champs, and the most dominant giant in WWE history. Cena pointed out that Andre’s name is above his. Show said Andre is not here anymore, and if he was Show would kick Andre’s ass. Obviously, this was the opening tease of the Big Show vs. Hulk Hogan feud for WrestleMania XXIII. Show said that he is the most dominant champion of the three.
Show said that while Cena is in the Marine, he was in The Waterboy, and it did much bigger box office. Booker pointed out that Show was only in that for 40 seconds. Booker then pointed to his movie, Ready to Rumble. Cena and Show had a fake laugh together over this. Cena then randomly attacked Show, and Show cleared the ring. This was a fine segment, but it felt way too scripted and had way too much comedy for a showdown of champions. The material was better than usual WWE comedy, but it was a completely inappropriate way to start a main event feud that you want to draw money.
Paul Heyman, Jonathan Coachman and Teddy Long were arguing backstage. Heyman said that Show demonstrated his dominance because he is the best champion and cannot be defeated. Coach proposed Show vs. Jeff Hardy. Heyman said that would be fine if the other champions also wrestled. Heyman suggested Booker vs. Rob Van Dam. Teddy Long accepted. Coach then suggested Cena vs. Miz. Long declined and instead proposed Cena vs. Undertaker.
Umaga beat Kane in a loser leaves town match. They traded punches and clotheslines early. Umaga hit a head butt, but Kane threw him into the post. Kane went for a clothesline off the top, but was pushed to the floor. Umaga hit a Samoan drop. He went for the butt drop but was caught by the throat. He escaped with a belly to belly. Kane sat up and hit a series of punches. Umaga hit the downward spiral, a leg drop, and a splash off the top. Umaga went for the Samoan spike, but Kane blocked it and went for the choke slam. Umaga got out, but Kane hit a side slam and clothesline off the top. Armando interfered, and that gave Umaga the opportunity to hit the Samoan spike for the pin. There were light chants for Kane after the match. This was better than expected.
They introduced Steve Spurrier to the crowd. He got a good ovation, so apparently there aren’t many Redskins fans in South Carolina. You did a great job for us, Steve. Tell Danny Wuerffel I said hi. That fun and gun sure worked out. But hey, we’ll always have that great preseason opener against the 49ers. Kane was leaving the building when he was approached by the Highlanders. They said he put his heart and soul into everything he did on Raw, so they were honored to be on the same show with him. He laid out those jobbers in no time flat and left.
Next up was the DX press conference. This was a takeoff of skits they were doing literally almost ten years ago. Shawn Michaels apologized to the tag team division for decimating them. HHH then pointed out there wasn’t really a tag division anyway. Shawn apologized to the Spirit Squad, but HHH said they couldn’t look any more like fairies anyway. Shawn apologized to Edge for costing him the title, but HHH said Edge wouldn’t have won the title anyway.
Shawn apologized to beating Cade and Murdoch within an inch of their lives, but HHH pointed out that hadn’t happened yet. HHH observed that they were on live television, and they nervously acted like they didn’t know what to do. Finally they composed themselves and plugged merchandise. The comedy was lame, sooner or later people are going to turn on DX as tragically uncool, and they buried everyone on the roster again. I am very afraid of an Edge vs. DX feud.
Big Show beat Jeff Hardy. Show hit a chop, stepped on Hardy’s throat, gave him a clothesline, and hit a body slam. He missed a Vader style corner splash. Hardy hit a drop kick to the leg and went for the twist of fate. Show threw him to the floor instead, but Hardy came right back in. He hit the whisper in the wind and the swanton, but Show kicked out authoritatively. Show then hit the cobra clutch back breaker and show stopper for the pin. Nitro came in afterwards and attacked Hardy. Show came back in, gave him the cobra clutch back breaker, and tossed him aside like a piece of garbage. They might as well just disband the Intercontinental Title for all it means after this segment.
DX beat Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch in a street fight. Prior to the match, since they were at the home of the Gamecocks, they showed Cocky, the team mascot. They then told about 45 minutes of cock jokes. This humor must work for some people, because there was some reaction from the crowd. I guess I’m the only one who found it lame towards the end of junior high. This match was basically a brawl. HHH hit a face buster and clothesline to the outside on Cade. He slammed Murdoch and Michaels was going for the elbow off the top, but Cade pushed Michaels off the top rope.
Murdoch and Cade threw HHH into the steps. Murdoch and Cade gave Michaels the inverted atomic drop/yakuza kick combination. Murdoch whipped Michaels with a belt and Cade hit him with a boot. HHH pulled down the ropes when Cade was bouncing off, and gave him a suplex on the ramp. HHH hit Cade with a hard chair shot to the head and Cade bladed. Michaels back dropped Murdoch to the floor.
Michaels hit an elbow off the top rope, sending Murdoch through a table on the floor. Michaels then gave Cade sweet chin music in the ring and HHH hit the pedigree for the pin. Edge was interviewed backstage about DX “arguably” costing him the title. Edge said there was no arguing about it. Edge said he would have a special guest on the Cutting Edge and questions would be answered.
Chris Benoit beat Shelton Benjamin. Since Benjamin is announced from South Carolina, of course he had to turn on the crowd and lose. He was cheered coming out, but turned on South Carolina. The crowd didn’t react by booing. They just stopped responding to him. He challenged anyone in the back, so Benoit came out. He hit chops, a snap suplex, clothesline, and rolling Germans.
Benoit missed the head butt off the top and Benjamin hit the Stinger Splash. Benjamin went for the T-Bone but Benoit escaped into the crossface and Benjamin tapped. This was a good short match, but I don’t get why people always have to lose in their own hometowns. Booking them strong in their hometowns is such an easy way to make wrestlers feel like stars. Look at Sylvan in Montreal. He’s Sylvan, for Christ’s sake.
Backstage, Long and Heyman had a conversation. Long said Benoit’s win was reflective of Smackdown’s strength. Heyman said that Benoit is still ECW, and he’s just on loan to Smackdown. They really should bring Benoit to ECW. They badly need some depth at the top of the cards there, and Benoit would fit in perfectly. He also would mean more than he would on Smackdown. This led to another lame comedy segment with Super Crazy. Basically they asked him a bunch of questions and he said “si.” He then talked about how all three shows are great in English. This surprised Long, who didn’t know he spoke English.
Batista, Lashley and Rey Mysterio beat William Regal, Finlay and Chavo Guerrero. Chavo and Rey started. Rey hit a huracanrana over the top rope on Chavo and a double huracanrana off the top on Finlay and Regal. The heels eventually caught Rey and worked him over three on one. He was worked on for most of the rest of the match until he tagged Batista. Batista came in with punches and clotheslines. He slammed Finlay onto Regal. He hit a jackhammer on Chavo, but Finlay and Regal broke up the pin. Lashley speared them out of the ring. Rey tagged in, and hit a huracanrana off the top and 619 on Chavo. Batista gave Chavo the spine buster and Rey hit a frog splash for the pin. This was another pretty good match, although nothing special.
Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young were introduced to the crowd. Booker backstage said that this was an important evening because he was a commoner on Raw and now he is king and champion. He said he needs to prove himself. Melina beat Torrie in a lumberjack match in the women’s title tournament. The other women were out there to plug the strip poker tomorrow. Kristal tripped Torrie coming off the ropes, and Melina grabbed her tights for the pin. After the match the other women threw Kristal into the ring and Torrie gave her the stink face.
King Booker beat Rob Van Dam with the scissors kick. The story of this match was the announcers. Tazz and JBL got into such an argument I literally stopped watching the match so I could transcribe all the shots they were taking at each other. This started earlier, as JBL started the first segment by telling Tazz, “shut up, midget.” JBL also laid into Jim Ross in another segment, making fun of his speech, look, and football references.
Here, Tazz said that JBL was only announcing Smackdown because Tazz didn’t want the spot. JBL said Tazz is only an announcer because he couldn’t cut it as a wrestler. Tazz said he couldn’t wrestle because he wasn’t tall enough and that matters in WWE. Tazz told JBL to stop trying to get himself over and call the match instead. They argued about their wrestling careers, with JBL making the Bingo Hall and Madison Square Garden references. This was interesting, if nothing else.
Cryme Tyme is coming next week. Backstage, Mitch said that he sucks, but he will beat Ric Flair because he’s got lots of help and Flair doesn’t. Really, that was his interview. Heyman, Coach and Long argued backstage. Vince McMahon came in. They all tried to posture for his attention. They all said their champion is the best, so Vince suggested a triple threat match between the champions at Cyber Sunday.
Ric Flair beat Mitch. Of course in wrestling, when you say something like your opponent has no friends, bad things are going to happen. Prior to the match, Flair brought out Roddy Piper, Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Mike “I.R.S.” Rotunda) and Arn Anderson. They led the Spirit Squad away from the ring. Flair gave Mitch a few chops and applied the figure four for the win. This was fun, although Anderson got less of a reaction than I would have expected. That signals that the old NWA/WCW audience has pretty much tuned out WWE, even in Horsemen country.
Next came the highlight of the show. Edge introduced Randy Orton on the Cutting Edge. Edge said Orton had a spark when he started but now he’s just garbage. Fell from top ten to not mentioned at all, to Batista’s stardom is greater than yours. Orton angrily told him to get to the point. Edge said all Orton’s problems can be traced to one point: when HHH turned on Orton. Edge said that HHH’s selfishness cut off all his momentum.
Edge then pointed out what DX did to Edge last week. He said that DX thinks they are jokes, so they need to take a stand. Edge said he called Orton out to take that stand. He said they should own the show and join together. They can beat DX and take back their careers. Orton said DX won’t run the show any more, and shook hands with Edge. Edge was great here, and the story of the bad guys joining together really worked.
John Cena and Undertaker battled to a no contest. There wasn’t much to the match. Cena hit the Cena slam and went for the five knuckle shuffle, but Undertaker grabbed him by the throat. Cena escaped the choke slam and went for the FU, but Undertaker escaped. Undertaker finally hit the choke slam but Booker and Show ran in and attacked both men. Mr. Kennedy came out as an excuse to get Undertaker to the back. That left Cena, Show and Booker in the ring. Show attacked Booker. Cena put Show in the STFU and hit the FU on Booker to end the show.
I was entertained by the show. It didn’t drag even though it lasted three hours. Still, it was really flawed as far as the way it was constructed and presented. There was very little that made me want to see specific matches, and that’s the whole point of pro wrestling. The matches they are promoting were built all wrong. Worse, they buried tons of people again and protected mainly people who don’t need protection.
The glowing exception to these problems was the Randy Orton/Edge segment. That was exactly what professional wrestling should be. It wasn’t cute and it didn’t feel scripted. You had two people with very clear motivations. You know exactly who they don’t like, and you know the specific reasons why. There are important stakes for all wrestlers involved, and clear goals are laid out. Most of all, the story being told makes sense and has a strong element of truth. If they continue that type of build, it will feel very important when the two sides meet. Segments like that are just classic, logical professional wrestling. They should be the rule, not the exception.