Monday, January 15, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 01/15/07 (the year is now updated!) from Bossier City, LA.

The Big News: If you thought the handicap match this week was a set up for someone to come to Shawn Michaels’ aid, you were wrong. Michaels beat up Randy Orton and Edge 2 on 1 just like Michaels and HHH beat up Orton and Edge 2 on 2. Maybe next week Orton and Edge can bring someone in to help them even the odds.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Conclusive Finishes: 2 of 5.

Match Results: Jeff Hardy & Maria b Johnny Nitro & Melina; Ric Flair b Kenny Dykstra; Mickie James b Victoria; JTG b Shelton Benjamin; Shawn Michaels b Randy Orton & Edge-DQ.

Show Analysis:

The show started with Coach presiding over a contract signing for Umaga vs. John Cena at the Royal Rumble. He said that Armando would get to pick the type of match, and Armando made it a last man standing match. After both men signed the contract, Cena jumped Umaga and they brawled. Cena hit Umaga in the head with the ring steps and gave Armando the FU through the table.

I’m not a big fan of contract signings in 2006. They predictably end with a brawl 29 times out of 30. That was fine years ago when you got the rare opportunity to see the champion and challenger get at it before their match. But now the champion and challenger fight just about every week before the pay-per-view, so it doesn’t really mean anything. Plus, nobody buys anyone needs to sign a contract for a match given how haphazardly matches are thrown together. The whole thing thus comes across as contrived. All that said, there was nothing wrong with this segment, and it was a good way to start the show.

Jeff Hardy and Maria defeated Johnny Nitro and Melina. Hardy went for the twist of fate early but Nitro escaped. Maria gave Melina a bulldog but Melina took over and worked on Maria briefly. Maria didn’t look good. Well, she did, but not as a wrestler. Oh, you know what I mean. Hardy and Nitro came back in. Hardy hit a mule kick and the whisper in the wind. He went for the swanton but Melina grabbed his leg. Nitro went for a superplex but was shoved off for a face first bump and Hardy hit the swanton for the pin. This was short but effective. Vince backstage called Donald Trump. He got Trump’s secretary, who didn’t know who Vince was. He then was put on with someone else who said Trump was having dinner. He asked Trump to call him back.

Edge and Randy Orton came out. They teased that DX would come out but played a flat line sound to signal DX is dead. Orton said HHH is done and they won’t stop until Shawn Michaels is too. Edge and Orton then dragged out an unconscious Hacksaw Jim Duggan bleeding from the mouth. They played up Duggan as a long time friend of Michaels dating back to Mid South. They gave him the concerto.

This time they did a good camera trick that they should do every time with that move, where they zoomed the camera up to Edge when he swung so you weren’t centered on watching the point of impact. That way the move looks more brutal. Duggan did a good job selling, and he has always been good at that. I remember him selling big for Yokozuna when they were pushing him to the top. However, they are killing off serious injury angles by doing them every week with no long term consequences. You practically have to run a guy over with a car now to get heat.

Ric Flair beat Kenny Dykstra. Flair hit chops and then put Dykstra in a head lock and punched him in the nose. That was amusing to me since the first (and one of the only) wrestling action figure I ever received was an old Flair figure where his move was to stick his opponent in a head lock and punch him in the nose. Dykstra put Flair in the figure four, but Flair got to the ropes.

Flair came back with punches and chops. He went to the top and Dykstra tried to throw him off, but Flair stopped him and hit an ax handle off the top. The crowd didn’t react much to that, which was a disappointment since he only hits the move off the top once every five years or so. Dykstra used a rollup and grabbed the tights and ropes but was caught. Flair went for a rollup of his own and grabbed the tights, but Dykstra kicked out. Flair then went for another rollup and grabbed the ropes this time for the pin.

Shawn Michaels entered the building backstage and was questioned about Jim Duggan. Michaels said he was sorry Duggan got brought into it, and that he intended to deal with Edge and Orton on his own. Ric Flair said he had Michaels’ back. Vince McMahon backstage didn’t know why Trump hadn’t called him back. He read a letter from Trump, saying the Rosie-Trump skit was lame and the crowd would rather see wrestling than a poor attempt at satire. I’m glad they played off last week and tried to make a positive out of a negative.

Next up was a weird segment. Vince came to the ring and defended the Rosie-Trump skit, calling it brilliant. They aired the footage multiple times. Vince said Trump asks his audience what it wants and gives it to them, while Vince tells his audience what they want and they like it. That was a really funny line, but way too true. Vince introduced “Ms. USA,” which was Torrie Wilson. Torrie read off a card that she is Ms. USA and a very bad girl, and wanted to know how she could make it up to Vince. Vince was about to respond when Carlito came out.

Carlito said Vince isn’t cool, Rosie-Trump was really bad, and this Torrie skit was brutal. Carlito said Trump is right and Vince doesn’t know what the people want. Carlito said they don’t want stupid skits and don’t want to hear Vince talk; they want to see people fight. That got just about the only crowd reaction of this entire segment, with some people cheering. Vince took off his jacket and said there would be a fight, but then called out Great Khali. Khali no sold all of Carlito’s offense and gave him the tree slam. I think this segment was Vince’s way of saying he’d like Khali to beat up people like me.

Mickie James retained her Women’s Title by defeating Victoria. Victoria grabbed Mickie by the hair, and Mickie returned the favor. Mickie spanked Victoria. Victoria hit a baseball slide and threw Mickie by the hair. Mickie hit a huracanrana, but Victoria retaliated with a firewoman carry into a spinning side slam. Mickie hit a thrust kick rather abruptly to score the pin.

Chris Masters said that he will win the Royal Rumble and nobody can beat him because nobody can break the Masterlock. That’s flawless logic if ever I heard it. He had a sheet of paper that said the Masterlock has never officially been broken. He issued a challenge and Ron Simmons came out. Masters put Simmons in the Masterlock, until Super Crazy came in from behind with a drop kick to break the hold. He gave Masters a moonsault. The announcers sold that the hold was broken, but after the break said it was not officially broken. Ric Flair was found unconscious backstage and taken to the hospital, so he couldn’t help Michaels.

JTG beat Shelton Benjamin. Benjamin hit a shoulder breaker and attacked the shoulder. JTG came back with drop kicks but was caught with a yakuza kick. Shad exposed a turnbuckle but as Charlie Haas went to cover it, Shad tripped Benjamin and allowed JTG to score the pin. This was a clever finish. Backstage, Michaels said he has nothing to lose, and if he was going down he would go down in a blaze of glory. He gave the interviewer the superkick.

Shawn Michaels beat Edge and Randy Orton via DQ. Prior to the match, Orton and Edge had security take away DX signs from the crowd. Jim Ross decried the censorship, I sense somewhat facetiously given confiscating signs is standard WWE policy. Michaels went after both men with chops and was dominant early. He stomped Edge and gave him a swinging neck breaker. Michaels hit Orton with chops. Michaels was coming off the ropes when Edge pulled down the top rope and gave Michaels a head over heels clothesline on the floor.

Orton and Edge worked over Michaels with punches, and Michaels bled. Michaels hit a clothesline on Orton to start a comeback. Edge went for the spear but Michaels sent him into Orton. Michaels gave Edge chops, a flying forearm, an inverted atomic drop and an elbow off the top. Michaels then hit the Thesz press on Orton. Finally Edge gave Michaels the spear. He set Michaels up for the concerto, but Michaels kicked the chair into Edge. He gave both Orton and Edge low blows and then got the sledge hammer. He hit both men with the sledge hammer and gave Orton a concerto to end the show. Edge watched from the entrance. This was a strong performance from Michaels.

Final Thoughts:

This was certainly a better show than last week. I would call it average. There weren’t any standout segments, but there wasn’t much nonsense either. I’m not sure where they are going with the booking of Michaels vs. Orton and Edge, but Michaels at this point in his career should be used to help get over other people.


Anonymous Dan Wahlers said...

Todd, what do you consider a conclusive finish? You said 2 out of 5 were conclusive. Jeff Hardy pinned Nitro in the mixed tag. Flair pinned Dykstra, albeit holding onto the ropes. Mickie James pinned Victoria clean, and JTG pinned Shelton Benjamin. The main event ended on a DQ, so I would count that 4 out of 5 conclusive finishes. But maybe you use other criteria that perhaps I haven't caught from you. I was just curious.

You don't like contract signings in 2006, but how do you feel about them in 2007? :)

12:40 AM  
Blogger Tyson said...

Didn't see the show. Sounded ok, looks like Michaels is getting HHH's spot against Cena at Mania. If that's the case then he should win the Rumble. I think he should beat Cena at Mania. And I hate Shawn Michaels. The only other arguement you can make for that spot really is Orton or Edge. I see the Rumble coming down to those 3 or maybe 3 of the last 4 with Orton and Edge splitting soon. Orton would be so much more useful on Smackdown. What happened to the Legend Killer anyway? After he lost to Hogan at Summerslam, it all died.

I'd also like to see Flair win the title one more time, even if it's a short run. If they wanna kill him off with Orton afterward thats fine. So maybe Cena would be much more useful on Smackdown.

Basically, it all boils down to what is the best chase for 2007. For my money it's Cena chasing Orton.

I was watching some old Raw highlight tapes from when "the product was so much more entertaining" and I think I figured out what's wrong with WWE right now. Wrestling, like all of television has become so wrapped up in this Reality TV era or generation of television production that we as the audience reject anything that is non authentic. WWE doesn't help this at all because they will in some situations play off real live events, but then other times, when it suits them usually, they'll make up lies or try to stretch the story. Whether it be part of the storyline for a given talent, or it be a short skit for RAW the people (on the internet anyway) beg for authenticity. At the same time, it is extremely hard to be entertaining while remaining authentic. You're talking about a totally different style/brand/product of wrestling. And if I were Vince McMahon and I'd made all this money off of doing what works, I'm not so sure I'd want to change the formula either.

Todd your thoughts?

Good report this week, could sense the frustration with the booking of Edge and Orton, but in reality it spreads the idea of decension between the two and keeps Michaels looking strong heading into Rumble, Mania, Etc. As much as Flair is upset with losing to Kenny Dykstra, how come he's not running around acting like a madman like Angle? Better yet, how come he has not beef with Orton or Edge for the continuous hospital visits?

Wrestlemania..If I were booking..
Cena vs. Orton
Michaels vs. Edge
Kane & Undertaker vs. Umaga & Khali
Batista vs. Finlay vs. Benoit
RVD & Sabu vs. Sandman & Dreamer
*Extreme Rules Please
Lashley vs. Terkay or Test
London & Kendrick vs. The Hardyz
Money in The Bank Match :
Benjamin, MVP, Kennedy, Nitro, CM Punk, Carlito
Masterlock Open Challenge
*Any WWE Hall of Famer
Is there a better spot for Hogan?

Battle of the unitimidating entrances
Flair w/out the robe vs. Duggan w/out the 2 x 4

8:32 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Conclusive finishes are more or less my vibe on whether the finish felt like it proved something or whether the focus of the finish was on someone else interfering, someone cheating, or some other reason. This week Hardy and James were clean. Flair grabbed the tights and then the ropes. Shad grabbed Benjamin's leg to allow JTG to pin him, and the main event was a DQ. I could see 3 conclusive finishes if you want to include Flair, but the Benjamin-JTG and main event were most definitely inconclusive, so the number was 2 or 3 in my mind.

Wow, I've really been having problems with the concept of a new year. I hope I've been getting it right on my checks!

I think realness is a big part of the problem with WWE, but I'm not sure how much reality TV plays into it. I think it's just an issue of fans having to believe in the characters to some degree, and WWE has made that hard through a) lots of really silly angles that make the product look ridiculous b) finishes that make match results look irrelevant and c) not protecting people on the way up so it's hard to become invested in the characters. I think those problems relate more to bad booking than outside factors. I also think it isn't that hard to mix in entertainment and not kill off the sort of reality that gets people to buy PPVs. It would help if the latter were the priority.

As far as WrestleMania goes, it seems clear they're going with Taker-Batista. I really hope they change their minds and have Taker go over because that streak gimmick means a lot more to Taker now and in the future than the win would to Batista. If they weren't doing that, I would think Undertaker vs. Umaga is a natural feud. Seems like Hogan will wrestle Khali if Show isn't healthy enough. I like your participants for a MITB match and London/Kendrick-Hardyz. I'm underwhelmed by just about any choice you can come up with for Mania main event. It's a tough spot for WWE. Cena vs. Orton they've been subtly building forever, but I'm not sure it would mean anything this year. Then again, I'm not sure it would in the future either. If they hadn't already done the champion vs. champion gimmick in the fall Batista vs. Cena might make sense. I'd like to potentially elevate someone using the Mania event, but the guys who seem the best choices are Kenny and Punk and I don't think either is ready for a particularly prominent position. Mania's going to have to sell based on the name, but really that's been true every year since 19.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I looked this up about six months ago, but the winning percentage for in handicap matches for the person(s) with the handicap is somewhere north of .500. That's absurd and it ties in with the need for WWE to present a more realistic product.
Also, I found it quite annoying that Jim Ross kept referring to the Royal Rumble as the "18th annual". It is of course the twentieth edition as it began in 1988 with an important show on USA that opposed the NWA PPV at the time. (I'm not the counting the house show trial run in 1987 that never made it to TV) That, like the first Survivor Series, is an important date in wrestling history which Ross should know, particularly considering he worked for the opposition at the time. They also should play off the history of the Rumble more like they do with WrestleMania. Heck, they even had the winner of that first event on the show tonight (Duggan) and they said nothing.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How could they not mention K-Feds divorce one time during that whole mini-feud?

But at the same time show the Kane character as a actor in a movie?

This is the line that wwe walks that makes it tough to please everyone.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was some blade job Shawn did on himself during the match. It seemed to be a straight line across his forehead.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Tyson said...

I can't stress enough how much this era of reality television production has effected the wrestling business and the way its run.

I originally had hope for TNA. And maybe I still do, but with all their talent being from ROH or CZW or WWE cast offs, they are being handed an unbelievably deep talent pool. And while WWE has all the assets and the means to get the biggest star, it is truly disappointing to me the way TNA is being run and perceived.

How about a GIVE TNA 2 HOURS movement instead of a FIRE VINCE RUSSO movement the fans are just as much to blame as the bookers.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

How about a GIVE TNA 2 HOURS movement instead of a FIRE VINCE RUSSO movement the fans are just as much to blame as the bookers.

That'll just mean there's two hours worth of TNA that I have no interest in. As it is they put on a lot of talent that I would normally want to watch (esp. considering Kurt is probably my favorite wrestler ever), but the booking keeps me shunned from even watching them. I'll take Kurt, Joe, AJ, Daniels, LAX, Lynn, Christian, Shelley and Nash (sorry, I have a soft spot for him) over pretty much any ten guys in WWE, and those guys are already in the spotlight quite a bit, yet I have no desire to ever turn TNA on.

It's weird, waaay back in the Nashville days, I followed TNA much more closely than I do now, and all I had to go on then was Observer reports...

12:26 PM  
Blogger Tyson said...

I guess Terkay won't be getting any title shots.

Elijah Burke could be a star. His promos are top notch. They haven't brought up a talker this good since Carlito. Is there a reason WWE doesn't do a PPV from Puerto Rico and have him win the belt?

Despite the reports, I've found Nash beyond hilarious in most if not all of the "PCS" skits (I still think the WWE would benefit from a more sports feel to it, where the wins and losses would actually matter and the top 25 could be used for something). When Nash was lookin' at the Nike Shox and said "says right there authorized by bob backlund" I lost it.

With a 2nd hour for TNA there would be less run-ins, longer matches, and more commercial time for revenue to stream. They wouldn't have to rush to get half the roster exposed and one would think the show would flow more smoothly.

As much as I am a fan of midgets with semi-automatic weapons, I think it's safe to say that version of TNA is dead. Of course you were more interested, the product was fresh and the only hope you had for alternative to WWE. But that was before they gave AJ Styles a microphone and told him to make a star of himself.

Are you suggesting Jeff Jarrett be handed the book?

Side Note : I tuned into WOL last week and caught 5 minutes of the interview with Aj Styles. I tuned in just before the incident with the "popularity in the gay community" caller (see wikipedia for details). F'n hilarious. Meltzer freaking out and hanging up on the guy was kind of unjustified because if the guy had legit knowledge it was a fair and impartial question. Again, F'n Hilarious.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Tyson said...

Battle of the unitimidating entrances
Flair w/out the robe vs. Duggan w/out the 2 x 4

I stand corrected..

Christian Cage w/ microphone vs. Kurt Angle w/ microphone

10:25 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Give me a break on the Styles thing. The caller was not calling up with a "legitimate question." The call was clearly made to bait AJ Styles and get a reaction out of him because he's known for being very religious and homophobic (not saying the latter is true necessarily; just that it's something people think). It was not asked seriously, and so Dave hung up on him not because the topic of homosexuality is a problem in a different context, but because of the intent of the caller. And the caller later was just screwing around as well. The fact this got any attention is just ridiculous. It's a few people screwing around for their own kicks.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

I had a problem with the Cena-Umaga contract signing. The segment itself was fine, except for one thing - Cena laid out Umaga for more then 10 seconds. Before that happened, we haven't really seen Cena take Umaga out, and he "barely escaped" with the title at NYR. So they had a real story going into the Last Man Standing match, over whether Cena would be able to knock out Umaga. But now we've seen it, and the match suddenly lost a lot of appeal.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Tyson said...

I just thought it was funny.

But if the question was legit, there was no reason to hang up on the guy. I didn't know AJ was homophobic. And if he is, pro wrestling is hardly the business for him.

Don't get me wrong, he's a talented guy and entitled to his own opinions and beliefs. I also do not believe in homosexuality. I don't believe it to be a matter of being born gay despite government funded studies. I believe it to be a matter of sexual preference and choice, I also have no problem with it as it generally does not effect me. I mean I know the human being is more complex then most if not all animals, but when was the last time you saw a gay dog? or a gay cat? And if there isn't such a thing as a gay animal in nature, then why all of the sudden when man became civilized was homosexuality a birth issue. I mean long ago with the Romans an shit they use to have young boys as their servants and commit "homosexual" acts. But it wasn't because they were gay, but it was a show of strength, power, rule, and it probably made them feel young again. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Honestly though, to be homophobic is as ignorant as being a racist.

6:20 PM  

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