Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Let the Skewering Begin

Date: 10/02/06 from Topeka, KS.

The Big News: If you hate the direction of WWE in 2006 and are frustrated by my recent charitable reviews of their shows, there is plenty of angry ranting this week.

Title Changes/Turns: Jeff Hardy won the Intercontinental Title. The Highlanders may not be heels yet, but they certainly aren’t faces anymore.

Match Results: Triple H & Shawn Michaels b Lance Cade, Trevor Murdoch, Viscera, Charlie Haas & Highlanders; Jeff Hardy b Johnny Nitro; Umaga b Gene Snitsky; Randy Orton b Carlito Caribbean Cool; Sgt. Slaughter b Nicky Nemeth; Mickie James b Victoria; John Cena b Edge.

Show Analysis:

Raw started with a segment featuring totally incompetent booking. DX came out, and Coach followed them shortly thereafter. He ordered them to wrestle in a six on two handicap Texas Tornado match. DX acted like they weren’t concerned at all and won in less than five minutes. At first their opponents used their numbers to gain the advantage. But that only lasted briefly, and DX fought off Lance Cade, Trevor Murdoch, Viscera and the Highlanders.

That isolated Charlie Haas, who was given an elbow drop off the top, sweet chin music and the pedigree for the pin. Coach was still angry after this, and said he runs the show. HHH threatened to run him out of the building and run the show themselves, and they proceeded up the ramp to do so. This was such a stupid segment. It did absolutely nothing for DX and buried all their opponents underground.

The Highlanders, who were likable as a midcard tag team, were buried particularly badly since they’re supposed to be faces. It also didn’t take long for the promotion to make clear Cade and Murdoch are no threats to DX. DX should be helping to get other people over since they are legends and don’t need to be protected strongly to stay over. Yet, the only people to ever get heat on DX are the McMahons, who are in the exact same boat as people who don’t need to be protected. Everyone else not only loses to DX, but loses quickly in embarrassing fashion with the odds dramatically stacked in their favor. It makes absolutely no sense if you’re booking for business rather than ego.

Jeff Hardy beat Johnny Nitro to win the Intercontinental Title. Nitro hit some kicks and European uppercuts. Hardy hit a leg drop to the groin and went for the twist of fate, but Nitro escaped. Hardy teased a pescado but then hit a crossbody off the apron to the floor. Hardy missed the whisper in the wind, and Nitro hit a baseball slide that sent Hardy into the post.

Hardy came back with a double mule kick and hit the whisper in the wind for two. Hardy hit a baseball slide to the outside and a running crossbody off the barricade onto Nitro and Melina. Nitro hit an elbow drop coming back into the ring and went to the top. Hardy back dropped him off the top and hit the swanton for the win. This was a strong match by Raw standards. I give Nitro a lot of credit, because he obviously puts a lot of effort into improving in the ring. WWE would be better if more guys had his desire.

DX tried to trick their way into Coach’s office backstage, but he knew it was them. HHH implied Coach was masturbating, and said Shawn wanted to tell him that is a sin. That was funny. Hardy backstage did an interview where he talked about everyone wanting his title, and mentioning challengers. That was good because it made the belt feel important. This segued into a lame plug of strip poker on ECW next week. Melina then came in and screamed repeatedly into the microphone. That was stupid, unless the goal was to encourage viewers to change the channel.

Coach backstage went out to look for DX. He found HHH at one end of a hall and Shawn at the other end. They played western music, and there was a tumbleweed at Coach’s feet. He ran into the women’s locker room, and DX followed. Coach then ran into a room featuring the male stripper. Coach ran off and slipped on a floor that was being mopped. DX intimidated him into running into a production truck. They put him in a garbage dumpster and had him taken away.

This comedy actually worked better than a lot of WWE comedy, but it was the sort of absurd, goofy low brow comedy that I think turns off more viewers than it entertains. I can come up with a lot of examples of promotions that drew well presenting a serious product. I can’t think of too many that drew well presenting main eventers as goofy comedy figures. Do you want to be more like UFC or Hustle?

DX approached Spirit Squad backstage, and did a parody of the Johnny Ace dress policy. Michaels even did a Johnny Ace impression and dropped his name. They basically said that DX had to wear new outfits. It’s nice to know they book comedy segments to amuse themselves, just like they book serious segments to put over themselves. Umaga beat Gene Snitsky with the Samoan drop, butt drop and Samoan spike. It was announced that next week Kane will meet Umaga in a loser leaves Raw match. Umaga could help Smackdown more, but it would seriously hurt his ability to do so if he jobbed to Kane of all people on the way out.

Randy Orton beat Carlito. Orton went after the arm for most of the match. Carlito came back with a huracanrana, but Orton went back to the arm and applied a key lock. Carlito hit some chops, a springboard elbow, a knee lift and a clothesline. He followed that with a springboard corkscrew senton and quebrada. He covered, but Orton kicked out. Carlito hit a springboard crossbody, but Orton rolled through and grabbed the tights for the pin. This was fine, and Carlito worked hard.

Backstage, the Spirit Squad said they wouldn’t come out in their new outfits. Shawn Michaels said that if they didn’t come out they would be stripped of their tag titles. I guess if you jump the person in charge of the show and throw them out of the building you get to do what you want, and Vince McMahon would be forced to abide by your decisions, even if he hates you and has vowed to destroy you. Free tip to WWE writers: if your average mentally defective six year old non-wrestling fan would find your angle illogical, you probably should come up with a different angle. Cryme Tyme this week knocked coffee into a cop’s face and ran away from the police officer.

Sgt. Slaughter beat Nicky. The Squad came out in short skirts. One of them had skid marks. I guess WWE raided Vince Russo as retaliation for Kurt Angle. This was just an extended reason to laugh at the “comedy” of men in short skirts. It wasn’t funny at all. Nicky gained the advantage when the rest of the Squad jumped Slaughter, but HHH appeared on the screen mocking Nicky with panties. That distracted him and Slaughter rolled him up for the pin.

This week’s Women’s Title match featured the women wrestling in lingerie, apparently because DX told them to do so. I guess they feel the need to come up with a lame gimmick every week to make sure you know that the Women’s Title is not to be taken seriously. Mickie James beat Victoria. Victoria went after the back. Mickie came back with clotheslines. Victoria reversed a huracanrana into a Boston crab. Mickie escaped and went for a botched sunset flip off the top. Victoria dropped down and grabbed the ropes. The referee saw that, and Mickie rolled up Victoria for the pin. A despondent Victoria threw a temper tantrum after the match.

Eric Bischoff and Chris Masters were chatting backstage. DX came in and wanted to know if they were in the book. Bischoff said yes, that he called them a blatant rip-off of the NWO. HHH asked Masters if he had thought of writing a book. Masters said yes, on nutrition. HHH asked if it would be called “How to Lose 50 Pounds in a Couple Weeks.” HHH was a burying machine this week. At least he’s burying heels now rather than faces. Shawn and HHH basically acknowledged they were a rip-off of the NWO, but said they got the last laugh and did a fake laugh together.

John Cena beat Edge in a cage match. Cena rammed Edge into the turnbuckle, and hit a suplex. Edge went after his arm. Edge tried to run out of the cage, but Cena caught him and slammed him off the top. Cena tried to escape but was pulled down by his arm and speared into the cage. They fought on the top rope and Cena gave him a face buster off the top. Edge tried to escape, but got crotched. Cena rammed him into the cage, and hit a clothesline, Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle. He went for the FU but Edge grabbed the cage.

Cena went for the FU again, but Edge escaped once more. Lita gave him a chair, so she was ejected from ringside. Edge went for a shoulder tackle off the second rope but hit the referee. Edge went to use the chair, but Cena got it and hit Edge with the chair. He applied the STFU. Cade and Murdoch ran in and hit the high low. They were trying to drag Edge out of the door, but DX came in and cut them off. Michaels superkicked Murdoch into the door, which slammed on Edge’s face. Cena hit the FU for the pin. They worked hard and hit some impressive spots, but the match didn’t build well. The finish was awful. After such a long feud, the blow-off should have been relatively decisive, rather than yet another crappy, overbooked finish.

Final Thoughts:

The conversion of WWE into self-destructive WCW at its worst continues. They even got their edition of NWO Nitro in.

Last week, DX appeared twice. Both times they were placed in traditional growth time slots. They bombed anyway, losing over 500,000 viewers in just the second segment of the show, and gaining no viewers at the beginning of the second hour. Those are terrible, terrible indicators. So how did WWE respond? By sticking DX in just about every segment of the show. I don’t even know how to begin with this nonsense.

Yes, DX is completely lame and passe. They are old men acting like teenagers from the late 80s or early 90s. They aren’t funny at all. But that’s not even the biggest problem. The problem is they continue to build around DX, and they book DX to bury just about everyone they come into contact with. It’s Hulk Hogan level egotism, and it’s worse because neither of them will ever be the draw Hulk Hogan was. They laughed at, buried, destroyed and generally treated as inconsequential half the roster this evening. John Cena and Edge have carried WWE this year, and they were treated as afterthoughts on the evening of their blow-off match. And all of this was done in the interest of building an act that is dead and doesn’t need to be built anyway.

Even if WWE weren’t pushing the wrong people and burying everyone else, the whole attitude of the show is wrong. It’s low brow, goofy comedy aimed at the lowest common denominator. I love professional wrestling, and yet I’m ashamed to even acknowledge that because what people associate as professional wrestling right now has no relation whatsoever to the wrestling I enjoy. They wouldn’t know Ring of Honor from Big Mouth Loud, but they do know WWE, and it doesn’t take but a couple minutes here and there to develop a really negative opinion of today’s WWE.

Look at UFC’s startling rise in 2006. You have got to be presenting something that people want to see to experience such exponential growth so quickly. It isn’t like it’s such a bizarre formula. It’s personality-driven athletic competition: exactly what pro wrestling has always provided. Yet WWE is so goofy, nepotistic and unfocused on match results that it doesn’t provide that appeal at all. It’s a backwards promotion living off the time when they were doing things right rather than providing new and affirmative reasons for viewers to tune in. Sadly, that period when WWE was rolling (1997-2001 in particular) seems more like ancient history by the month.


Anonymous Dave S. said...

I completely agree with your view of the show. It seems like DX is going to feud with Edge now, and I'm sure they will do no favors for him. And if Orton ends up being Edge's partner in this (which I've read is the case), then it will serve to further drag Edge down after his great main event run. Also: Who the hell is Cena going to feud with now? The only guy he seems to be able to get face reactions against is Edge (because he's the only over heel on the show). Umaga seems like the only possible next opponent for Cena, and I really don't think that's a good idea. I like Umaga a lot, but I find it hard to believe they're going to allow him to beat Cena for the title, and losing to Cena will pretty much kill Umaga's character. Then again, Umaga winning the title and being the centerpiece of Raw is an absolutely terrible idea as well. The show is just a mess right now.

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Tyson smith said...

I'm sort of enjoying this train wreck to be honest. The segments involving Coach and DX backstage were pretty damn funny I thought. You can tell they're trying to be really wacky, especially if you noticed the camera angles in those segments. The western music and tumbleweed was just so random I had to laugh. Of course, I may be laughing now, but none of that is going to make me want to pay money for a PPV.

I thought Nitro was good too. And let's give Hardy credit, I think all of us have expected him to miss at least a couple shows by now, or be fired, so it's impressive what he's accomplished thus far since his return.

Carlito looked great to me this week. What I don't understand is that I listen to the Bryan (Alvarez) & Vinny Show podcast, and they both constantly bash Carlito, saying he sucks, or he's lazy. What's Alvarez thinking? I don't understand that logic, as to me, it seems Carlito is a hard worker who is very talented, and very smooth & fluid with his moves. Maybe you can help me understand Alvarez' logic, Todd.

That cage match seemed great to me. The crowd was really into it, especially it seemed at those spots where both guys were on the top of the cage. I think the interference sort of ruined the momentum Cena and Edge had. Also, ref bumps in a cage match? Jesus Christ. I, along with everybody, knew Cena was going over, but I didn't really like that finish, as you described. But, I think they did that to try and protect Edge. However, if this was the last match, it should have been one clean finish.

I'm just glad the McMahons aren't on the show, although they're still mentioned all too much still.

2:38 AM  
Blogger brian said...

WWE has been going downhill for a long time now, do you think it's possible for them to go out of business like WCW or will a critical point be reached when even Vince realises it's time to hit the reset button? And if so when do you think that will happen?

4:41 AM  
Anonymous MAZ said...

Don McLean's song "American Pie" sings about the day the music died. Well, at some point, wrestling has died. I'm not sure what it is that you want to call the current WWE, but it isn't wrestling!

It's funny. I sat down last night to catch some of RAW and every time I flipped onto USA network there was a commercial. Flipped back to MNF, Fox, etc. Flip back to RAW, another commercial. So basically, I missed about all of RAW because not only can I not stand their matches, I also can't stand their constant barrage of WWE commercials. I did catch the ending and wasn't very impressed as this week's ending did nothing to differentiate it from any other week on RAW.

RAW currently has nothing going for it. Just a couple of week's back, I recall watching Edge sit on top of a ladder and basically working the crowd to perfection. Now in just a few short weeks, he has been buried behind a couple of losses to John Cena.

I also remember just a short time ago, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch being destroyed in handicap matches against Kane and Umaga. Now WWE wants to try to make them credible heels? Please. I remember their match with Kane as Kane was acting as a heel, and I actually enjoyed watching Kane destroy Cade and Murdoch.

WWE is a complete mess.

Wrestling is dead.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

The finish to the cage match was even more non-sensical when you consider the difficulty Cade and Murdoch had dragging Edge. Muscular, well built men can lift and toss 250-300 lb men by themselves, yet TWO muscular (I won't say well-built with Murdoch...) guys can't drag ONE 250 lb guy ten feet? It felt like an eternity for them to move Edge from the center of the ring to the cage door.

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Also, Cade and Murdoch (actually just Murdoch) blew the high-low move and were late on their cue to come to the ring. On the far lft side of the screen, I noticed the referee pretending to struggle with unlocking the cage (yes, even though there was no lock) as he waited for Murdoch and Cade to take him out.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I actually like the dichotomy of Edge vs. DX, but only if it's done right. If they do it wrong, it could be disastrous in harming Edge. I think Umaga vs. Cena is the next title feud, but I guess we will see. There are few possibilities. They could do an "interbrand" feud through Survivor Series as well. To me if Umaga feuds with Cena you just put Cena over. There's nothing you can do with Umaga at the main event level in 2006. He's a cartoon character. It won't take to any real level.

Jeff Hardy has done well thus far. I didn't expect that, so props to him. But let's just say it's worth waiting a few more months before we label this a success.

I totally understand what Bryan is saying about Carlito. The guy shows a lot of promise. He is very athletic and can have good matches. But then other matches he just goes through the motions and you don't see that potential and ability. Inconsistency is frequently caused by laziness. And Carlito does have a divergence as far as how good his matches are.

You know, Brian, I find myself asking the same question you did frequently now. It very well may have reached the point of no return. The company is so far gone it would almost take shock therapy to get them back, and that would do damage in the process. I find myself more and more thinking pro wrestling is going to die. It actually isn't that depressing to me, because MMA fulfills what I used to love about pro wrestling so well. And groups like PWG and ROH still are excellent. As far as when Vince might snap out of it and start to right the ship, it could conceivably happen at any time, but it's been so long that I really wonder if he has a clue anymore in 2006.

And yeah, the finish was screwed up on top of being screwy. I didn't harp on it just because they were more minor errors, and I had bigger fish to fry.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous dan said...

They might as well move RAW to Saturday morning. It almost appears that WWE's business plan is to turn everyone over 12 (or maybe 9) away from the product so that the entire audience will be nothing but total marks.

DX is beyond awful.

Call me crazy, but I think you ride Umaga while he's still hot. He's never going to be more over than he is now.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Dave S. said...

I actually think Umaga could legitimately be a main eventer. He gets great crowd reactions, and I find him very entertaining. This Kane feud has definitely resulted in him losing some heat though, due to them being portrayed essentially as equals. If Umaga doesn't pin Kane clean in the middle of the ring next week, then it can be added to the list of things that prove the people who write this show have absolutely no idea what they're doing.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

I really enjoyed the main event. But it was overbooked in the end. Things started to sour once Lita was kicked out, because before that happened, I barely even realized she was there. The stuff in the ring was so good up until that point.

Everything else was pretty much as you described it. Really lame comedy.

I couldn't understand why they would have Bischoff backstage with DX. It was such a bad segment, and didnt do his book any favors. Of course DX had to get the last laugh...are they that insecure? DX suddenly being involved with the Edge/Cena storyline that was getting all the ratings...

12:30 PM  

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