Monday, October 09, 2006

Raw Report

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.

Show Analysis:

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.

Final Thoughts:

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.

12 Comments:

Anonymous tyson smith said...

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.

LOL

I enjoyed Raw, it made me think of how successful WWE may have been if it didn't have seperate brands and kept all its major stars together on both shows, or even all three shows. It would be questionable as to how the midcarders would fair, but, it would never suck or be boring, in my opinion.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Dan Wahlers said...

Todd, I just want to get clarification on one comment you made. Are you suggesting that Benoit should have jobbed to Benjamin, or just that Benjamin should have been put over in another match, against a different opponent? With Benoit returning only a day ago there is no way he should have been doing the job.

Of course with a three hour show, the fact that the match was only slotted to go a little more than three minutes is absurd. I think it would have been a little different if Benjamin lost a competitive 10 minute match, as opposed to a glorified squash. Almost all of the matches were short. Some of them were best kept that way. But Booker/RVD, Benoit/Benjamin, and Cena/Taker could have all benefited from some more time. On a regular Raw you expect short matches, but with an extra hour I guess it was too much to ask that some of the extra time actually be devoted to in-ring action. They sure found time for DX to get in all their comedy bits though.

How bout them Redskins, Todd? They sure looked good on Sunday! :)

12:30 AM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

It literally stopped me in my tracks when you mentioned the original DX podium skit was nearly a decade ago. I had to stop...think...realize that yes, ten years ago was 1996...it's almost surreal now to consider the way DX is back and being utilized.

Couldn't they have given us another few minutes of Benoit vs. Regal, after the PPV match was a little short? I can't get enough of those two.

7:28 AM  
Anonymous tyson said...

Im not sure what was better the 3 hour raw last night or dave hyping up no mercy with his updates bumpin the replays prior regals penis being shown? People talk about the good things about WCW, and one of the few was the Clash of the Champions. It was a great idea and when you can afford to do it is special for the fans because it is like a free ppv. And while this show was not that entirely, contained some aspects of those shows and featured some PPV quality matchups that if given more time could really have delivered. They were all good for what they were I thought RVD & Booker did what they do and Shelton and Benoit the same. Cena and Undertaker wasn't that bad either but the finish was obviously going to be jaded. Its Tv. I think Arn got a better reaction than you thought as they immediately cut to close shots the entire time he came out as most everyone in the arena had 'thrown the 4's up' in honor of the horseman. If you notice there were no crowd shots but you could see people were liking the NWA influence. I admit JR oversold it. It's unfortunate Layfield has made so much money in his lifetime. Although I guess you could say its great at the same time because of how strong he comes across as a talent. And is it me or does my man Carlito always get lost in the shuffle? Smackdown showed last night it has legitament star power to some degree. I really wish we as fans would not be so harsh on WWE at times and celebrate them more for the positive moves they make. John Cena and AJ Pyrzenski just had a good segment on Cold Pizza on ESPN. They put the WWE Championship up next to the X Division title AJ holds. Ha. Not a shot at TNA but it really showed the lack of mainstream reporting wrestling gets when 90% of ESPN's programming is based around the idea of sports entertainment. On the subject of TNA though, just read the spoiler. When it comes to money matches Meltzer always talks about how the superstars never touch and that adds to the anticipation. My question is why did TNA have Angle and Samoa Joe go at it his first appearence, when that is one of the top 5 money feuds Kurt Angle will ever have in TNA? Sorry I lost the topic somewhere in there.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Of course you don't have Benoit lose on his second night back. You're not doing this, Dan, but one of my least favorite e-mails is when I say I don't like the booking of a TV match, and someone e-mails me saying, "well, they can't have the other guy lose." And of course, that isn't relevant at all, because there's no mandate from God that those wrestlers have to face each other. Benjamin is a tremendous talent and yet they have jobbed him out and treated him like garbage. Giving him a nice win in his hometown is an easy way to get him some momentum back. There's a billion guys to put him over.

I agree with you on all three matches that you said would have benefited from more time. The Booker/RVD finish felt particularly abrupt, but all three felt in and out rather than having time to build.

The Redskins will be fine. They're 0-3 and awful when available on TV here and 2-0 and good when not available. And I look at the schedule and don't see many games that will be televised here. Which means they're going to start rolling. Stinking Redskins.

The Clash of the Champions was a great idea back in the day, but that sort of TV special is past its time of usefulness as the Saturday Night's Main Event special ratings have shown. There's just too much TV to make it feel important. Hell, there's too much TV to make PPV feel important.

Maybe I did misread the Anderson reaction. I just remember the roof blowing off the building for reminders of the Horsemen in places like South Carolina a few years ago, and I didn't get that sense here.

That's hilarious that Cena and Pierzynski did a show together. You know WWE had to love the opportunity to stick it to TNA and that TNA isn't liking that so much.

I totally agree on Angle and Joe. We'll see how it comes across on TV, but they totally should be setting that up and not delivering. But if they frame it as just a little taste I think it could work fine.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I'm likewise puzzled as to why the fans, or at least some subset of them, haven't turned on DX yet.
No one has commented on this yet, but the main event clearly put Undertaker over Cena in many ways. From coming out last, to Cena's look of fear in his eyes (at least that's what I thought), to the fact that Taker seemingly had the match won when the run-in took place.
The first Cena-Taker match took place at Vengeance '03 and had an even more clear burial of Cena. From Dave Meltzer's writeup in the WON:

"the plan going in was Cena going over cleanly . . . However, the day of the show, McMahon changed his mind . . . On crunch day, he doesn't want to hurt Undertaker and HHH and decides to keep them strong in ways that bury just about everyone else. . . This match only seemed to accomplish the same purpose that has killed every potential top guy from Jericho to Van Dam to Benoit for the past three years."

11:24 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I hated the Cena-Taker finish as well. I just figured I had already complained about the booking so much I would give it a rest. But yeah, having Undertaker essentially beating up Cena when he's not even in the champ of champs storyline was stupid. I have to pick and choose where I want to say something sometimes so I don't become redundant in my criticism of the booking. I thought the Kane-Umaga finish should have been more decisive for Umaga as an example, but let that one go as well.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

Hey, c'mon, why shouldn't Cena be buried by 'Taker? It's not like 'Taker lost clean to a guy who can't wrestle or bump, and does a chop as a finisher.

Oh...wait...

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Dave S. said...

I thought the funniest (and most awkward) part of the show was after Kane lost. The writers were obviously expecting a big ovation from the crowd, since Kane has to leave Raw, yet there was almost silence, and you could even hear someone yell "You suck Kane, you lost!" The stipulation is ridiculous, since everyone in the crowd knew he was just going to go to Smackdown anyway. And when you combine that with the fact that Kane's peak as a character was about 8 years ago, it is amazing that the people in charge thought he would get some kind of standing ovation after losing.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Kane said...

Todd, I'm in agreement with you on the whole DX debacle--what is so strange about the way this is being put across on television is that, particularly last week's cavalcade of unbearable smugness, in a sane world Hunter and HBK's behavior would be the actions of a heel faction, not faces. Not even 'cool heels', either, but just good ol' asshole heel heat, such as Edge has mastered over the last year. It's clear that DX is due some sort of 'comeuppance' as far as the storylines should go, but anybody not suffering from a major head injury knows that it'll never happen, and a promising heel faction of Edge/Orton (and wouldn't Shelton be a terrific fit in with those two...give Edge his own 'family', if you will, and let some of those guys who aren't as crisp on the mic get the rub from Edge and, to a lesser extent, RKO. Seeing as how Lita's gone sooner than later, they'll need a fly in the ointment to really add to their heelish tactics. Heel factions are easy money, and add a lot of possibilities for booking future matches, feuds, etc. Look what it did for Batista and RKO, at least for awhile. )will likely be buried, in the end, by the two guys on the show who conceivably never win another match and still be top of the Raw compost heap.
I still don't see who Cena is meant to fight, after this rotten 'Champions 3' idea plays itself out next month (is there 3 worse guys you could put together in a match like that? Who's gonna carry the workload? Booker? Man, what a fiasco that'll be. Cena and Show have their uses, but I can't imagine anybody paying out bread to see that 'dream match'. Umaga still makes no sense as far as a drawing feud, although it's very apparent that the title means next to nothing again anyway, as the main event feud will be DX/Edge&Orton for months at a time, with the payoff being even more insufferable promos from HBK and the Game until, as you say, the fans inevitably turn on DX and cheer for Edge, etc. WWE had best be careful how and where they book these matches, because a 'smart' crowd like Toronto will turn the tables on the braintrust so fast even Jerry Lawler's desperate attempts to assure the viewing audience that HHH is 'good' and Edge is 'bad' will come out even more ludicrous than the whole Cena situation for the past year.
Considering Levesque is due to get the company, lock stock and sledgehammer, fairly soon you'd think that he'd understand the needs of the business, for the present and more importantly the future of his company, but as another delusional moron and his endless war reminds us, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it....over and over, etc., until even the most optimistic of supporters finally turns away in disgust. At least Bush will be gone in two years...HHH looks to linger in the spotlight for years to come. Yikes.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous tyson said...

The Clash of the Champions was a great idea back in the day, but that sort of TV special is past its time of usefulness as the Saturday Night's Main Event special ratings have shown. There's just too much TV to make it feel important. Hell, there's too much TV to make PPV feel important.


Yeh, but if this were true UFC wouldn't be pulling off the rating they will tonight. Although, I see this as just another attempt at UFC trying to push their product mainstream. Fighting will never be mainstream, not in its current state, maybe not ever. I can't be the only one out there thinking TNA and UFC will collapse roughly around the same period. Is there a governing body over all of MMA? I mean seriously, can we get some order, distinction? Is an all encompassing set of rules too much to ask for? Or even a ranking system? Maybe its my lack of faith in Dana White and his ability to maintain his cool in a situation where his back may be against the wall. He seems more like Eric Bischoff, than Vince McMahon. Mixed Martial Arts needs help if it wants to go mainstream, Dana White and UFC are a piece of the puzzle, not the answer.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

It seems like it's getting to the point where you hate this show too much to review it, but I will say that your last paragraph was dead on. It took me a long time to be sold on Edge as a legit Main Eventer, but now he's officially the most interesting character on the show. This should be a nice rub for Orton too. I say "should," but let's not forget who their program is going to be with, and unless Father-In-Law Vince actually uses those grapefruits he claims he's got, we all know how this is going to turn out.

Also, your hope for Shelton Benjamin getting a real push is getting to be like ECW fans' hope for the original ECW to come back. I don't see it happening. I like him a lot, but he's gonna have to learn how to talk or develop something that resembles charisma if it's going to happen. That whole aborted angle with him playing the race card was ridiculous. Benjamin calling out Coach for having no "soul"?...talk about the pot calling the kettle...well...black.

10:21 PM  

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