Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Raw Report

Date: 10/30/06 from Moline, IL.

The Big News: Don’t blame me. I voted for Kodos.

Title Changes/Turns: None

Match Results: Carlito Caribbean Cool b Johnny Nitro and Shelton Benjamin; Lita b Maria; Triple H b Randy Orton-DQ; Umaga b Eugene Dinsmore & Hacksaw Jim Duggan; Cryme Tyme b Viscera & Charlie Haas; John Cena b Jonathan Coachman.

Show Analysis:

Edge and Randy Orton started the show in the ring. Edge said it was his birthday, but he was discouraged to celebrate it in front of the fans. Orton reminded Edge of his victory over HHH last week. Edge said that made him feel better. They brought out Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff and Jonathan Coachman. Each said why they should be the special referee at Cyber Sunday. Bischoff said he would create controversy, Coach said he would prove he’s not a joke, and Vince said he would show DX the same respect they have shown him in the past. Vince announced that Shawn Michaels wouldn’t be on Raw, and HHH would wrestle Randy Orton again with Edge as referee.

Vince asked the others to leave the ring, and asked Coach how he would prepare John Cena for Cyber Sunday. Coach said he would give Cena the night off. Vince didn’t like that, so Coach said he would put Cena in a handicap match against Big Show and King Booker. Vince didn’t like that either, so Coach just wanted to know what Vince would do. So basically, we got to see a WWE booking meeting live on national television. Vince said he would let the people vote on Cena’s Raw opponent: Big Show, King Booker or Coach.

This segment sounded interesting on paper but didn’t work at all in building the PPV. I don’t understand why anyone would care which heel referee officiates the match, and the heels didn’t even distinguish themselves as individual choices. DX vs. Randy Orton and Edge sounded like a great feud, but it has become boring quickly for two reasons. First, the focus has been on the heel referees rather than the actual issue. Second, they have already started on singles matches with meaningless interference finishes that make future matches seem completely pointless because they’ll have the same meaningless interference finishes. The lines delivered by all parties in this segment also felt totally scripted and inorganic.

They spent the rest of the show beating it into people’s heads that they need to vote. They showed various wrestlers and personalities voting. They eventually trumpeted a figure of 750,000 people voting, which they said was an amazing number. Even if that’s legitimate, it’s not impressive to me. Considering they get an audience of over four times that every week and less than a quarter could be bothered to vote even after that was the theme of the entire show, it demonstrates the interest in what they are doing. Hell, UFC has better luck getting its audience to spend 3 hours and $40 on a PPV event later that week than WWE does in getting its audience to spend 30 seconds and $0 voting on their matches the same night. Think about that for a second.

Carlito beat Johnny Nitro and Shelton Benjamin in a triple threat match. Jeff Hardy watched from ringside. Nitro and Benjamin double teamed Carlito and threw him to the floor. In the ring, Nitro hit a side Russian leg sweep and break dance leg drop on Benjamin. Carlito came back in with punches, a drop kick, a knee lift and a clothesline to take out both men. Benjamin came back in with a springboard bulldog from behind on Carlito. Benjamin came off the top on Nitro, but was caught with a drop kick. Carlito threw Nitro to the outside, gave Benjamin the back cracker, and covered for the win.

John Cena backstage said he isn’t worried about Cyber Sunday. He delivered a really lame joke about K-Fed’s album being the bomb. Cena then harassed the interviewer about who he voted for as Cena’s Raw opponent. Eventually the interviewer said he voted for Booker and hoped Booker would beat Cena. Cena wasn’t bothered by this, and vowed to present all sorts of problems for whichever opponent he was faced with. This was 2006 John Cena in a nutshell. He was given horrendous material, but almost managed to redeem it with phenomenal, off the charts delivery. Elsewhere backstage, Torrie Wilson went to Carlito and said that if he wanted to talk to her about Trish Stratus’ departure, he could. Carlito insincerely said he could use someone to talk to, and they made plans to meet up later. This was actually a hilarious little bit.

Lita beat Maria. Mickie James did commentary, and played a straight babyface out of the 70s. Maria went for rollups early. Lita cut her off with a kick, side Russian leg sweep, back breaker and kicks. Maria came back with a bulldog and bronco buster, but Lita went to the eye and hit a DDT for the pin. Lita and Mickie now meet for the women’s title at Cyber Sunday in a no-DQ match, submission match or lumberjack match.

HHH beat Randy Orton via disqualification. HHH attacked Edge before the match and gave him a pedigree. Apparently this killed Edge or something, because after they took a full commercial break he still couldn’t referee the match. So another referee worked the match. They traded punches early. HHH went after Orton’s knee with a chop block and rammed the knee into the post. Orton came back with a DDT and Garvin stomp. HHH hit a face buster and Edge ran in out of the blue and attacked HHH for a DQ.

Aside from this being an incredibly lame finish, it was pretty illogical to boot. HHH attacks the referee. The referee sells this for 15 minutes, and when he responds in kind to the guy who attacks him, it leads to a DQ. Orton and Edge attacked HHH after the match. They hit him with a chair a number of times and Edge speared HHH. Was HHH incapacitated for 15 minutes? Why, no, he left the ring immediately, got a sledgehammer, and fought off Edge and Orton on his own. This was just an atrociously booked segment on many levels.

Umaga beat Eugene and Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a handicap match. Umaga beat up Duggan with a head butt off the second rope and the Samoan spike for the pin. Eugene was still terrified of Umaga, and Jerry Lawler got mad at Eugene and called him a coward. It looks like Eugene is going heel. They really should send him to ECW. They keep giving ECW stiffs who can’t get over. Nick Dinsmore could get over in a hurry showing up in ECW, denouncing the Eugene persona and having longer wrestling matches with Rob Van Dam and CM Punk.

Coach backstage said he wasn’t afraid of Cena, and that he would beat up the next person who came through the door. It was Ron Simmons. Coach ran away. Simmons said damn. It’s still funny. Ric Flair came out and said he would beat the Spirit Squad Sunday. He introduced the choices for his partner, and Sgt. Slaughter, Roddy Piper and Dusty Rhodes all cut fun promos. Cryme Tyme beat Viscera and Charlie Haas with the Samoan drop/neck breaker combination.

John Cena beat Coach, who won voting in a landslide. Coach ran away, so Cena brought him back to the ring by the ear. Show and Booker jumped Cena. Show speared Cena and Booker threw him into the steps. They then did commentary, and talked all over Lawler and Ross doing their best JBL impersonations. Coach had the advantage briefly and choked Cena, but Cena came back and applied the STFU for the submission in quick order.

Final Thoughts:

This show was just basic build for Cyber Sunday. I thought it was flat and uninspired, and the PPV has very little interest going in. There are some very obvious reasons for that, and I’ll go into them given they reflect systemic problems with WWE.

The main event of the show is built around the idea of one of the WWE championships being up for grabs against the other champions. The problem with that scenario should be evident in just reading the description. If there are three “world champions” in the same company, none of the titles means anything. Having the champions wrestle each other makes that point all the more clear. There are no real stakes involved, because the titles don’t signify anything. That was evident tonight, where nobody voted for a dream “champion vs. champion” singles match.

Another problem is that an “interactive” show should sell itself on match-ups that are unique and you wouldn’t usually be able to see. However, because WWE doesn’t book long term and build people slowly, there are few match-ups that feel unique and exciting. It’s just the same matches as always, so it doesn’t matter which one you select.

It’s also hard to get people to care about potential matches when they don’t think they are going to get a finish no matter what they select. Seemingly every match nowadays in WWE ends with interference, referee bumps, foreign objects and the like. It’s incredibly tedious, and even if a match takes place it isn’t going to have a satisfying finish.

This builds into the final point, and I think the most fundamental problem with the “interactive” concept in WWE. The idea of interactivity is that the fans can dictate to the promotion what they want. But WWE as a company has been outright hostile to fan desires for years now. One of Vince McMahon’s greatest strengths was always that he did listen to the fans. But now WWE has an idea of what wrestling is, and if anyone has a different idea or wants something else, they are greeted with hostility and derision. Fans have picked up on this over time. It explains why they are so slow to get behind new characters and why there is so much apathy to the product.

That general attitude by WWE can’t be ignored in this “interactive” PPV. The feeling I’m sure among many fans is it doesn’t matter what they vote. WWE has its plan, and they will pretty much book however they want regardless of what fans vote. At the end of the day, everyone will end up exactly how they would have ended up regardless, so why bother caring? You’re just choosing between Kang and Kodos in the end.


Anonymous dan said...

Great write-up, as usual, Todd.

Back at Wrestlemania, I couldn't wait to see HHH pummel John Cena. When Cena won, I was shocked, but I was entertained. Wrestling was interesting again.

Over the last 6 months, WWE has slowly drained my interest in wrestling. I'm sick of Cena and DX being given the Harlem Globetrotter treatment facing the same old Washington Generals week after week. (Cena v Edge was actually well done.)

What's happened to the crowd lately? I liked the divided crowd, but now it seems 100% Cena and no backlash against DX.

Why were Big Show and Booker afraid of facing Cena last night? Shouldn't they have been conspiring to soften Cena up for Sunday? I can't believe the crowd would rather see Cena whoop Coach than see a real match.

Umaga is still somewhat entertaining. Is he going to get a real feud soon?

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

Have you been watching Treehouse of Horror episodes lately?

RAW was pretty much as you described it. It was pretty boring overall, and they didn't really "build" for Cyber Sunday as nothing progressed. They just reminded people to vote.

DX vs Edge/Orton has been very disappointing, much like Orton vs Carlito. I thought by now we'd see a Edge/Orton BEAT-DOWN of DX, leaving them bloody in the ring. Why would anyone want to see a tag-match between DX/Edge/Orton when HHH fought off both heels by himself?

Is Cena not getting his revenge on Kevin Federline?

7:50 AM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

It's really sad. I've been loyal to WWF/E for a long time now, and even though for a couple of years now the product has been terrible, I've still stuck around and watched Raw regularly, because a.) it's wrestling, which I still enjoy, period, and b.) because other than TNA, WWE is the only thing readily available to me.

And yet lately, even Raw is getting the shaft from me. I just left right in the middle of it last night to go over to a buddy's house and hang out for awhile. It couldn't keep me gripped, and that's been nothing uncommon recently. It's discouraging, as I really like wrestling, but there's nothing to hold my interest anymore. WWE is terrible with it's booking and push choices, and it's getting more and more to be the same stuff every week. Which is impressive because Vince has been heading in that direction for awhile now.

And I can't for the life of me get into TNA, because of problems that I find to be even more irritating than what's on WWE. Even with Kurt, who is up at the tippity top for my favorite wrestlers ever, I haven't tuned in since he came over. I hate how the promotion's booking runs through Jarrett, how seemingly everyone on the roster has been in a stable with him at some point, the booking in TNA is mostly irrelevant, with things like Christian costing Sting the match against Jarrett, then Sting and Christian forget the other exists Christian moves on to Rhino, Daniels and Styles continually liking/disliking/liking each other, face and heel turns so often they make WWE dizzy, and characters that aren't the least bit fleshed out unless they're in the title chase or Kevin Nash. That's the one thing about WWE that I still give a crap about, there's acts that I actually get into (Umaga, Kennedy, Cryme Tyme, The Con-Man before that got the axe...). Crap, every single X-division guy is basically the same. They make no effort to really differentiate Sabin, Aries (Oops, Starr), Lethal, Kazarian, or anyone else. Sonjay's foreign! Okay, tell us something about him. Is there a particular reason he does the Hindu Press? Senshi kicks a lot! That's great, I still know nothing about him.

Okay, that went on a lot longer than I anticipated, maybe I should have just started my own blog, but I guess I needed to rant for a minute....In summation, I'm getting more and more jaded with any product that's presented to me on TV, and that really really sucks.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Dave S. said...

This show was a complete waste of 2 hours of my life. You're right about the Edge/Orton vs. DX feud; it went from being interesting to incredibly boring in the span of about 3 weeks. In fact, this whole show was ridiculously boring. And I'd like to point out that Vince has so little respect for his audience that he KNEW they were going to vote for Coachman to be in the main event. I mean, who are these idiots who would rather see Cena squash a non-wrestler than have a real match against one of the other world champions? Does this mean that people would rather see Coach in the ppv main event also? Regardless, I can't fathom why anyone would pay $40 to see Cyber Sunday. Even if it cost $5, I wouldn't pay for it.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Umaga will be John Cena's next opponent after the Cena vs. Booker vs. Show ends. So that would mean after Survivor Series, in all likelihood. Until then, I doubt he'll be in any real feud. I wish Armando started dropping signals about Umaga wanting the title. They seem to think they can only hype one match at a time, whereas a slower build will make the upcoming matches feel more exciting and less artificial (we have a PPV coming up...here is your match).

The Simpsons election episode was in the last DVD set, and it struck me as perfect for Cyber Sunday. For those who don't know, the idea is aliens come to Earth, and take the form of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. Their con becomes exposed, and everyone finds out they are actually evil aliens, Kang and Kodos. So one of the aliens then says essentially that with a two party system, you have to vote for one of us. Someone in the crowd goes, "we could vote for a third party candidate." At which point the aliens erupt into laughter, and one says "go ahead, throw your vote away!" So then we come back to after the election. One of the aliens has won and all the humans are doing slave labor. That's Homer's cue to say, "don't blame me. I voted for Kodos." Hilarious satire.

I guess Cena kind of got his revenge on Federline when he beat Johnny Nitro. But I'm all for bringing Federline back for an actual beatdown. It will be interesting to see how WWE frames it when he flops (as he unquestionably will). I would gain even more respect for the man if he came back to Raw and allowed them to make fun of him for going wood.

I think a lot of people share a general malaise over the state of WWE. They aren't so much angry any more so much as they just don't care, whether they watch or they don't. I think people have given up on a turnaround. TNA inspires similar emotions. I want them to do succeed, but I don't take them seriously as any sort of real threat. I think I will order the November PPV for Joe-Angle, though. If they do a screw job finish you can expect a pissed off editorial about it.

On a random note since you brought it up, I think they should put Low Ki with LAX. It's apparently something that LAX has been lobbying for, and it would make the act even hotter. They could have Low Ki and Homicide wrestle the matches, and then use Hernandez as the bodyguard/thug and Konnan as the mouthpiece. Everyone would fit a lot better, but they have to fudge it a little right now with only 3. Or hell, bring in B-Boy for the same role.

I can't say Cena-Coach was enticing, but I can understand why people would vote for that (aside from the dominant factor that they were told to). After all, there you at least get to see what you vote for: Coach will get beaten up. Fans know that if they voted for Cena-Booker or Cena-Show it would just end in a lame run-in, and that's not an exciting possibility.

7:08 PM  
Blogger harrogate said...

Todd, Harrogate likes your prediction that Umaga will be Cena's next challenger. We are all getting damned tired of how they're wasting Umaga, that's for sure--such a rivalry would be awesome!

Harrogate has to disagree, however, with those who feel that raw is currently stale. It seems like the last month or so Vince has been making real progress towards invigorating the narratives, and in all sorts of ways.

The Bischoff stuff has been a big plus, riled us all up, reminded us of the WCW glory days when we had some heels we could really sink our teeth into! The "K-Fed" thing went well. And hey, while Harrogate appreciates a "divided crowd" as much as the next guy, he thinks Cena's response is earned--the guy's a compelling actor and a solid performer in the ring, he's got awesome entrance music, and in short it's pretty hard to pull against him. The only thing about him that Harrogate detests is that preening he does setting up for what is essentially just a punch to the face of a prone opponent.

Harrogate also wonders why you guys aren't all more enthusiastic about seeing Dusty Rhodes and hearing him talk, and maybe getting the opportunity to see him and Flair win the belts together. That would be freakin' amazing, especially with their history. Rhodes really needs to win that poll, and then he and Flair need to take those titles. This crap about the Tag Titles not meaning anything has gone on for way too long. It's time to give them some verve!

Peace out, and feel free to check out the collaborative blog to which Harrogate contributes, and wherein he averages two posts a week analyzing all things Raw!

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Dave S. said...

Uh, does anyone else think this Harrogate guy works for WWE? Could any person not on Vince's payroll really think those things?

10:00 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I don't know what to make of that.

Cena-Umaga isn't my speculation; that's what Dave reported.

11:00 PM  
Blogger evolution93 said...

I enjoy your reports, as far as Cena versus Umaga...does that mean the rumored Raw/Smackdown/ECW match won't happen at Survivor Series?

11:15 AM  
Blogger harrogate said...

That's pretty sad if you guys think Harrogate works for WWE. Harrogate has been questioning the programming for weeks on the blog he contributes to (check it out to see that it has nothing to do with a payroll of any kind, just some Grad Students making a blog). Indeed Harrogate's most recent post, and his commentary here, is only to suggest that new life seems to be bubbling beneath the surface of what has been very stale programming for a while.

If you disagree that's fine, but why be so combative or resort to questioning Harrogate's motives? He is simply excited to be talking about this topic with other bloggers, others who are interested. After all, here in academia you don't find a lot of Pro Wrestling fans, that's for sure.

As for the Umaga/Cena idea, sorry to have attributed it to the wrong guy. But it is a great idea. Harrogate has gotten really burned out on Umaga, what a waste of a potentially great character.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Survivor Series will likely be the culmination of the Booker vs. Cena vs. Show feud, at which point they will go to Cena vs. Umaga.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous tyson said...

Isn't Cena's revenge selling more albums than K-Fed? Wouldn't this be the whole point of announcing Cena's sales (500,000 not sure if thats the real number)?

12:42 PM  
Blogger harrogate said...

"The feeling I’m sure among many fans is it doesn’t matter what they vote. WWE has its plan, and they will pretty much book however they want regardless of what fans vote. At the end of the day, everyone will end up exactly how they would have ended up regardless, so why bother caring? You’re just choosing between Kang and Kodos in the end."

Gee, after reading this a few times Harrogate suddenly realizes what a great metaphor Cyber Sunday has become, for the way many have come to view the current American political situation:

"Remember, fans, you can vote for the same match as many times as you want!"

All hail Diebold!

11:34 AM  

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