Monday, January 08, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 01/08/06 from St. Louis, MO.

The Big News: There was a loud “TNA” chant on Raw. Seriously. I wouldn’t have taken 1,000 to 1 odds on that ever happening if you offered me this morning, but it made total sense when you look at what inspired it. Also, the 2007 Wrestling Observer Worst Match of the Year race is officially over. You can go ahead and mark “Rosie O’Donnell” vs. “Donald Trump” on your ballot now.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Conclusive Finishes: 3 of 6. This was probably the worst show as far as devaluing match results since I started tracking finishes.

Match Results: Jeff Hardy b Kenny Dykstra; Victoria & Melina b Mickie James & Maria; “Donald Trump” b “Rosie O’Donnell”; Carlito Caribbean Cool b Chris Masters; Cryme Tyme b Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch; Great Khali b John Cena-DQ.

Show Analysis:

They started the show by recapping DX-Orton/Edge from New Year’s Resolution. I actually had an even longer rant on this, but I’m going to keep it more concise since there were much, much bigger problems on this episode. They framed yesterday as HHH injuring himself and DX still completely obliterating Randy Orton and Edge. They announced a “victory celebration” for Orton and Edge, with a picture of them bloodied and laid out yet ready to celebrate a fluke injury.

Look, HHH is going to be out for a long time. There is absolutely no justification for framing this as him destroying your main event heels on the way out, particularly since the whole point of the feud should have been to bring Orton and Edge up to DX’s level. The man was actually injured in a match. I don’t care if the original story was different. The new story is to get Orton and Edge over as the guys that stopped DX, not lucked into an injury and got annihilated anyway. Does Bruno Sammartino vs. Stan Hansen ring a bell? This was absolutely ridiculous. They had a ready made story to get two of their top young stars up to the next level, and instead they put over the guy who needs absolutely no help and is going to be gone well past WrestleMania.

It just got better from there. John Cena came out. Cena said Armando is claiming last night was a fluke, but it wasn’t. He put over Umaga and offered him a rematch. Coach said that Umaga would have the night off, and John Cena would be facing Great Khali. Yes indeed. Khali’s monster push is back, despite the fact he has no discernable talent aside from being tall. The biggest pay-per-view draws in 2006 were Oscar De La Hoya, Tito Ortiz and Matt Hughes. Yet Vince McMahon still has his head buried in the sand with this incomprehensible, unjustifiable, completely non-sensical obsession with size. He’s big. Great. Doesn’t the fact that he can’t wrestle, he can’t talk, and he has no charisma present some sort of problem?

Vince McMahon talked about legendary matches, and added Rosie O’Donnell vs. Donald Trump to the list. They brought in a Rosie O’Donnell impersonator to do lame, unfunny, ham-fisted skits based mainly around making fun of her weight. They were also unnecessarily mean spirited and clearly they were much more interested in mocking O’Donnell than Trump.

Jeff Hardy beat Kenny Dykstra. Jeff hit a baseball slide and pescado early. Kenny pushed Jeff off the top rope to the floor and had a brief advantage. Jeff came back with the whisper in the wind. Johnny Nitro came out to distract Jeff but Ric Flair came in and gave Kenny a low blow. Jeff hit the twist of fate and swanton for the pin. Jim Ross got in a Mookie Wilson reference, which was pretty funny. Maybe he’ll bring up Gary Carter next week. Dykstra is actually a really good fit for the Intercontinental Title. He’s exactly the sort of rising star that has been helped over the years by holding the Intercontinental Title.

They ran a package on Great Khali building him up as an unstoppable monster. He then did an unbelievably horrendous promo. It was almost like they want him to be a comedy character, because he emoted so little intensity that you could hear the audience loudly laughing in the background. This was a total disaster as far as getting him over, and I have no idea why they didn’t bring Daivari with him.

Victoria and Melina beat Maria and Mickie James. Maria gave Melina a bronco buster, but then the heels took over on her. They double teamed her and the faces never really got a comeback. Melina pinned Maria after a bulldog. This was the right way to book it. Maria is very likeable and a good performer but she doesn’t have the physical credibility of the other three. The WrestleMania recall was Steve Austin stunning Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg, for what it’s worth.

Next up was quite the segment: “Rosie O’Donnell” “vs.” “Donald Trump.” Rosie was clearly the heel. They went on and on and on, and the crowd predictably shit all over this. Vince McMahon was watching at ringside and it will be interesting to learn what he thought of the crowd reaction. There was loud booing and “boring” chants. Then came the amazing chant of “TNA” which was actually substantial. I couldn’t believe my ears. I didn’t know that many people in the audience even knew of TNA. Then there was a loud “we want wrestling” chant. “Donald” scored the pin with a head butt off the second rope. Ross said that this would be a SportsCenter moment. Yeah, a phony Donald Trump wrestling a phony Rosie O’Donnell is going to make SportsCenter. That will air right after ESPN’s personality feature on Katie Couric.

Carlito beat Chris Masters. This feud must continue! Masters hit a press slam and power slam. Torrie Wilson came to ringside and hit Masters with the ring bell. That allowed Carlito to hit the back cracker for the pin.

Edge and Randy Orton came out, with Edge limping and Orton in a neck brace. Orton acknowledged that DX whipped their asses, and talked about how bad they got beat up and how hurt they are. He added that it was worth it because “HHH tore his quadriceps.” Yes, even Orton didn’t frame this as anything other than HHH injuring himself. Edge talked about all the people DX buried and destroyed before HHH hurt himself.

Edge said next week they will finish off DX when they take on Shawn Michaels in a handicap match. Michaels came out. He said he doesn’t know if this is the end of DX. He talked about HHH going into surgery, and said he would be with HHH. The crowd chanted for HHH. Michaels said next week he’ll deal with Orton and Edge. Michaels was really good here, in a promo reminiscent of the one he did in 1995 relinquishing the IC Title after the nightclub incident.

Cryme Tyme beat Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. Cade and Murdoch worked over Shad, mainly with punches and kicks. Shad made the tag to JTG, who came in with drop kicks. Shad rammed Murdoch’s head into the turnbuckle and JTG scored the pin. Backstage, Eugene was apparently back to being a face with no explanation given. He talked about John Cena being his favorite when Khali walked by and stared him down.

Great Khali beat John Cena via DQ. Khali hit a shoulder block, clothesline and elbow. Cena tried to slam Khali unsuccessfully. Armando brought a chair onto the apron. Cena took it from him and hit Khali with it but Khali no sold it. Khali then hit a chop and the tree slam, laying out Cena. He didn’t sell a single move from the champion and left. Armando then called for Umaga, who gave Cena the butt drop and Samoan spike to close the show.

Final Thoughts:

This was just an abysmal show: the sort of show that turns off the current audience, makes the departed audience glad they don’t watch anymore, and makes non fans think of professional wrestling as the world’s lowest form of entertainment. It’s the sort of show that leaves WWE with the least educated and least affluent audience on network television, and a tremendous business decline. It’s one thing to produce a show that is good or bad on its own merits. Then there are shows like this so disastrously conceived that they could not possibly be produced by a competent creative team. Vince McMahon is so out of touch. His goofy, inane comedy and completely untalented big men are completely antithetical to what the audience desires. WWE rarely has its audience reject it as strongly as occurred tonight, and the sad thing is WWE isn’t likely to take any lessons from that.

19 Comments:

Anonymous the masterbater said...

I don't really watch Raw like that anymore I just read your column to see if anything new or exciting came about but of course I see nothing has changed and last night I was watching the National Championships so I basically didn't even waste my time switching the channel. All I have to say is at least we finally don't have to see HHH being in the main event in Wrestlemania! That should be something positive don't you think? Unless his injury will heal quicker then expected. This would break his streak in Main Eventing Wrestlemanias wouldn't it? FINALLY, something to cheer about NO HHH in a Wrestlemania main event! Too bad that’s the only positive thing I see happening and that wont happen for another four months.

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Marty Goldstein said...

Todd I just discovered your blog. A perfect review of last night's fiasco. Although I gotta tell you, the Rosie-Donald "match" made POTD for the local CTV station on the late sports.

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Dave S. said...

This show was horrific. It really was amazing to hear the audience chant "TNA!" and "We want wrestling!", and I didn't even realize Vince was sitting right at ringside to hear it until after the match was over. That match really was an embarassment; I can't understand why on earth anyone would think it was a good idea. I am dubious as to whether Vince will finally take the hint though.

Also, WHY DO THEY USE THE GREAT KHALI???? He is TERRIBLE. The only 2 moves he knows how to do are a big chop to the head and picking his opponent up with both hands around his neck, then throwing him down. Plus, I honestly thought the promo he cut was in a foreign language. If that was supposed to be English, then I can't believe they let him have a microphone, because he doesn't speak the language. It is absolutely ridiculous that they had him dominate Cena the way he did the night after Cena pinned Umaga. They spend almost a year buliding up Umaga, and do a great job with it most of the time, then in the span of 2 nights, they try to transfer his "monster heel" heat to some guy who has no talent who fans don't give 2 shits about. When Khali was a main eventer on Smackdown, I would argue that that was the show's lowest point; now they want to have him dominate Raw too? What the fuck are they thinking? At least when he was on ECW, he was just beating up Tommy Dreamer, not CM Punk or RVD or any of the real main eventers.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

I barely heard the TNA chants. It just seemed like a small group of guys in the crowd may have been chanting it, but thats hardly significant. I did hear the "Boring" and "We Want Wrestling" chants, those were more obvious. Maybe I should watch the tape and listen for the TNA chants, but that means I'd have to sit through Rosie vs Trump again.

I was also irritated by the Orton/Edge promo. Orton even put over how tough HHH was for finishing the match.

2:14 PM  
Blogger brian said...

It's depressing when the fans chanting "We want wrestling" are making their thoughts so crystal clear to Vince yet nothing's going to change. Surely if WWE is in the entertainment business it should be giving the people what they want. Unfortunately the creative team are too damn stubborn to listen to the fans.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Tyson said...

Bad Show. National Title game was not as good as expected and it looks like WWE was counting on it to be great. Khali while receiving bad reviews from writers, did a great job in his match with Cena.

As far as Edge and Orton goes, it seems to me as if you're falling into an impossible to please role. Sometimes you want the WWE to lie to the audience and other times they're chastised for it. Thats a tough line to walk. And I'm sure its pure coincidence that Vince was sitting next to ring side in what a common fan anticipated as a bomb segment...Maybe I give billionaires of the entertainment industry too much credit.

Does Bruno Sammartino vs. Stan Hansen ring a bell?

No.

Edge and Orton are established stars in WWE. They dont require as much "help" as you're implying. While they would benefit from strong booking, like any WWE talent, they will have no problem drawing money in WWE, TNA or any other wrestling organization that may pop up.

Jim Ross got in a Mookie Wilson reference, which was pretty funny. Maybe he’ll bring up Gary Carter next week.

Mookie Wilson's son plays for the world champion St. Louis Cardinals. Mookie was mentioned and shown on television time and again during the NLCS. So the reference wasn't as dated as you're making it out to be.

I understand shows like this may disappoint and maybe even anger you as the reviewer, but cheap shots? Roll my eyes durin' this the same way I do when I hear Ross taking shots at Rosie. I mean when it comes to pro wrestling are you part of the solution or part of the problem?

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khali while receiving bad reviews from writers, did a great job in his match with Cena



WOW...Someone actually wrote that

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have much use for Triple as a man but I do give him credit for having guts and finishing the match yet again

Maybe he needs to take the dosage down a lil bit so it wont happen again but anything that gets DX off my tv is good

Who the heck actually thought that wrestling fans would wanna see a rosie and a trump match? do they think wrestling fans know about it or CARE!!!!

5:25 PM  
Anonymous todd martin said...

The TNA chants came after the boring chants and before "we want wrestling." I don't tape the show, but it was definitely much more than just a few fans. Believe me, I wouldn't have made it up, because I barely believed my ears.

You don't have to embellish anything to frame the DX/Orton-Edge thing differently. You say that there was a war between the two teams, and that in the battle HHH was severely injured and will be out for months. Then you have the heels come out and brag about taking him out. That's basically the truth, only slanted to get over the people who are going to be around. It's not like many people watching Raw ordered the PPV anyway.

Stan Hansen accidentally broke Bruno Sammartino's neck in a very famous match in the WWWF. They sold it as Hansen breaking his neck and drew huge business for return bouts that took Hansen to a higher level (although he ended up going on to focus on Japan). When that happened, they didn't look the gift horse angle in the mouth. That's exactly what the WWE did here, by not actually getting any heat on anyone with a serious legitimate injury to a main eventer who has been destroying everyone.

I had no problem with the Mookie Wilson reference. I would enjoy a Gary Carter reference. To me references to old sports, old politics, history, world events and old wrestling are all cool. The only dated references that bug me are pop culture because 99 percent of pop culture does not transcend one generation.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Tyson said...

Appreciate the knowledge, but that still seems way off base when applied to what happened at the pay per view.

What they did with Edge & Orton and what you're asking them to do really wasn't all that different. They still gotta work with HBK.

You hear on WWE what WWE wants you to hear 90% of the time. A TNA chant at a WWE show is good for TNA. TNA is good for the business. Anything good for this business, is good for WWE. I don't see making a huge deal over such a minute issue.

Its not like they're competition.

I mean does anything scream "we're small time" any more then your #1 babyheel team stalking WWE with no support from the other wrestlers (when countless guys on the roster are wwe cast offs or guys shund post try-out), as well as no acknowledgement from WWE that can be backed up with video proof?

Not to mention the fact that you dedicate 5-7 minutes of your 40-50 min (est) on air time promoting the "competitions" wrestlers, owner, while admitting that you watch their product and .....want it to be entertaining?

12:43 AM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

All I have to say is at least we finally don't have to see HHH being in the main event in Wrestlemania! That should be something positive don't you think?

It's not positive for me. I was looking forward to HHH hopefully winning the title back at 'Mania. I wanted it to happen last year. Don't get me wrong, I find much of Aitch's booking terrible and backwards, but I find a very perverse pleasure in watching him rack up title wins and hold people down. Considering WWE gives me so few things to enjoy nowadays, that was the one constant I could always count on.

Mookie Wilson's son plays for the world champion St. Louis Cardinals. Mookie was mentioned and shown on television time and again during the NLCS. So the reference wasn't as dated as you're making it out to be.

Todd didn't really explain, and I don't know that you picked it up from his comment, but the Mookie reference was really a nod towards Kenny (Lenny) Dykstra and the 80's Mets teams, hence the Gary Carter mention.

And by the by, Preston is not Mookie's son. Preston is Mookie's step-son. And Preston is also Mookie's nephew. Yes, you read that right. Mookie married Preston's mother, who had Preston with Mookie's brother.

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't get that technical.

Its his son.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

Orton should've said he killed another legend.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Tyson said...

Todd didn't really explain, and I don't know that you picked it up from his comment, but the Mookie reference was really a nod towards Kenny (Lenny) Dykstra and the 80's Mets teams, hence the Gary Carter mention.

I'm not exactly sure that's the case, but it doesn't really matter to be honest. It's just the way the sarcasm and negativity is used in todays writing that makes it incredibly hard to decifer when someone is using tongue-in-cheek references or just being cynical.

As for Preston, I'm gonna have to agree with anonymous and say that for arguements sake...its his son.

When are people going to realize, when it comes to DOUBLE DOUBLE E, the people "who want wrestling" or cat call for "TNA"...

YOU ARE THE MINORITY. THE MAJORITY OF THE WWE AUDIENCE IS AT THE SHOWS AND WATCH THE SHOWS FOR PURE ENTERTAINMENT VALUE AND DON'T PUT HIGH STOCK INTO HOW MANY MOVES A WRESTLER HAS. WAS ROCK ON TOP B/C HE WAS A GREAT WRESTLER? WAS AUSTIN? MICK FOLEY? GUYS LIKE BRET HART AND CHRIS BENOIT ARE GREAT AND THE BACKBONE OF THE BUSINESS. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO WWE...THEY WILL NOT BE THE WHOLE FUCKING SHOW.

NOT TIL 2020 ANYWAY.

HELL, MAYBE NEVER.

My personal feeling is that instead of begging WWE to improve, the minority needs to do whatever they can to help TNA get where they need to be. Like calling for Vince Russo's head is the #1 problem or something. How is that ANY different from just changing the head coach of any given sports team? There's unerlying problems with the product, time slot, talent management, product management, and nobody wants to talk about anything except how jealous they are of Vincent Kennedy McMahon.

JOSE JOSE JOSE JOSEEE...JOSEEEEE JOOSEEEE

Side Note: If anyone got a chance to read or see what Tony Gwynn said about steroids after being inducted into the hall of fame I felt it was dead on. It's worth checkin' out if you haven't seen it.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Dave S. said...

Uh, does this Tyson guy work for the WWE?

First off, JR clearly made the Mookie Wilson comment because of the Kenny/Lenny Dykstra similarity. And Todd obviously realized that and that's why he brought up Gary Carter. I can't believe you misunderstood it, then criticized Todd for it.

Also, I don't think anybody is saying that WWE should turn into ROH and focus entirely on pure wrestling. WWE was at its best (late 80s-early 90s, late 90s) when it had both great wrestling and great entertainment. Today, it just has crappy wrestling and even crappier entertainment. It is clear that their out-of-ring product is a disaster, and if they just focused a little bit more time on the wrestling, the show would be significantly better. I don't see how you can say WWE is giving the fans what they want when nobody is buying the ppvs and fewer people than even a few years ago are watching the tv shows.

Also, you asked if Rock, Austin, and Foley were on top because of wrestling? I say they were. They were great precisely because they all were great talkers, then backed it up in the ring with great matches. How many great matches did those guys have? Rock gets criticized for his wrestling, but he was 10 times the worker Cena is. He was in numerous great ppv main events and his ppv matches were always at least solid. And as for Foley and Austin, they were known as great wrestlers way before they were known as great characters, and both had many ****+ matches over the years.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Tyson said...

Mick Foley was never a great "wrestler". He was always a tremendous talent. Because he knew how to market himself and his character despite what the company (NWA/WCW) may have tried to accomplish with him. Same goes for Austin. Bottom line being you can be a great wrestler, and you can call yourself a great wrestler, but you're not helping yourself or your company without expanding the limits of your gimmick or persona. This is the main problem I see in TNA.

By what you're saying it tells me I'm not the only one who believes that the wrestling business is cyclical and a boom period comes with time. It seems to me that the people who criticize and ridicule Vince McMahon for the things that he does believes that he is not in touch with the public. Those statements are beyond me. Out of touch? Out of touch with what? Do they still make money during a down period? Is he providing alternative programming/characters with the 3 brands? Is the #1 draw the world champion? Is he being booked strongly?

And let's not make it out to be like WWE is going broke and people aren't buying their pay per views. They still do more buys then any other pay per view event in its category. UFC being considered a legit sport. And they still top the best selling UFC PPV with Mania most years.

I guess I will just never understand why people will sit and talk shit to the big guy, and at the same time watch the little guy die a slow painful death. TNA is the #1 source for getting WWE to produce more entertaining programming. And while I'm sure that Spike appreciates the nice .9-1.2 they get in that slot every week. There is no reason to think that once that contract is up they can't fill the slot with another UFC show.

In all honesty I believe TNA needs to go head up on Tuesday nights with ECW. I'm not sure how most of your cable companies work, but here Sci Fi is channel #53 and Spike channel #55.

Quality response, I was just looking for somebody to defend Rocky's workrate. The Rock was one of the few guys of the past 10 years, hell maybe the only guy, that was truly bigger than the business. HHH believes he is, and he put himself in position to be, but talents like that don't come around very often. I'm just glad Rock got in and got out when he did because he would have been hitting a ceiling during this period. They still managed to get Evolution a win over him on his way out the door, which was also disappointing.

IS THERE ANYONE WHO KNOWS WHERE I CAN GET A TAPE OF WHEN THE ROCK RETURNED TO RAW IN MIAMI? THE SHOW WHERE HE HAD THE FACE TO FACE WITH ORTON AND THEN BISCHOFF 'THREW HIM OUT'. I TRIED PAYING SOMEONE FOR IT BEFORE AND THEY RIPPED ME OFF. MR. NEWSBYTES OR WHATEVER TO BE EXACT.

And for those guys dumping on Lashley for stumbling in his match with Van Dam...go to youtube and check out The Rock vs. Goldberg from Backlash and re-think your statements.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey--

Don't know if you quit watching ECW altogether or if you just quit writing about it (but still watch)... but did you see CM Punk got beat clean in the middle of the ring by Hardcore Holly? How fucking stupid are these people?

5:31 AM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

Do they still make money during a down period?

They're making money in spite of the product they're putting out. Because of their emphasis on overseas dates (often in places that are starved for pro wrestling and don't have any perspective on what kinds of alternatives there are) and DVD sales they're able to make money, but the regular releasing of talent/bringing up guys from OVW/DSW (who are often still very green), not running house shows for ECW, increasing the number of PPVs, etc. shows that they're not exactly making money hand over fist. They're making money because the big wigs up top are creative and know how to keep afloat during the down period.

Is he providing alternative programming/characters with the 3 brands?

I wouldn't say so. To me, the only noteworthy difference between the brands is that ECW has regular use of hardcore matches. Oops, "extreme rules." I've wanted Smackdown to give me a reason to make me start watching again (Kennedy would normally be reason enough), but it hasn't done anything to pique my interest enough to get me to take the time to tune in/record it.

Is the #1 draw the world champion? Is he being booked strongly?

Yes and no. Lately, they do have a decent tendency to book the champs strongly, but that hasn't been a common thread for them. Plus two of their champs are hosses (and Cena's no light weight), so they have a reason to book them strongly.

The single biggest draw they have is Cena. He's booked strongly because they have faith in him, because he deserves it with his out-of-ring work, and because he's their golden boy. Despite that, he often has not been the focus of Raw, even with his once extremely hot feud with Edge, because of D-X/Aitch. At one point Edge was their best draw, between feuding with Cena and Matt Hardy, yet they put little faith behind him as champ.

Lashley is at best the third best draw on ECW (behind at least RVD and Punk, but we'll see about Punk now that the winning streak is over...). Personally, I'd argue 'Taker is the biggest draw on Smackdown, and he's not champ. From what I've read, Batista is losing steam too. Plus, those guys are kind of the biggest draws by default. Who else are they going to have at the top of either of those shows? Booker's had his run, Kennedy is there, but there's nobody else on SD!. I guarantee Benoit or Rey will never get another run. I love Finlay, but he's nothing more than an occasional title contender. Same with Kane. HHH, Shawn and Cena all are bigger draws than anyone on SD! or ECW, and other than 'Taker, I'd wager Edge, Orton, Jeff Hardy, and maybe even guys like Nitro, Carlito and Umaga are bigger draws too.

7:10 AM  
Anonymous todd martin said...

I didn't watch ECW this week. I will probably watch some weeks and not watch others depending on what I'm doing, just like Smackdown. You can bet you would have gotten a long tirade if I were covering Bob Holly pinning Punk clean.

5:56 PM  

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