Monday, January 01, 2007

WWE Raw Report

Date: 01/01/06 from Miami, FL.

The Big News: Kevin Federline pinned John Cena to start WWE’s 2007. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, but it’s still a pretty bad sign of plenty more counterproductive nonsense from WWE in the new year.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Conclusive Finishes: 3 of 6.

Match Results: Kevin Federline b John Cena; Cryme Tyme & Highlanders b Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch; Jeff Hardy b Rob Conway; Melina b Maria; Kenny Dykstra & Chris Masters b Ric Flair & Carlito Caribbean Cool; Umaga, Johnny Nitro, Armando Alejandro Estrada & Jonathan Coachman b John Cena-DQ.

Show Analysis:

Kevin Federline beat John Cena to start the show. They dragged this segment out forever, which was a smart attempt to build ratings. Federline announced that the match would be no disqualification, and had Nitro with him. He stalled forever. They did a full nelson challenge, with Cena breaking it easily. Nitro interfered but Cena took care of him. Federline used a low blow, but Cena quickly recovered and had Federline up for the FU. Umaga interfered and hit Cena with the title belt, allowing Federline to score the pin. Backstage, Federline celebrated his victory. Maria went to interview him, and Melina slapped her and challenged her to a match. Coach then made Cena vs. Umaga, Armando, Johnny Nitro and Coach in a handicap match for the end of the show.

Cryme Tyme and the Highlanders defeated the World’s Greatest Tag Team and Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch. Shaq was at ringside, and he played along with Cryme Tyme robbing him. The heels worked over JTG, until Cade missed an elbow off the second rope. JTG tagged Shad, and a brawl broke out. Shad scored the pin on Murdoch after he hit a jaw breaker and JTG snapped Murdoch’s neck on the ropes. This was bad but short.

Jeff Hardy beat Rob Conway. Conway said his New Year’s resolution was to be a winner, and that he would quit Raw if he couldn’t beat Hardy. Hardy rolled him up and beat him within 30 seconds. Vince McMahon came out and fired Conway. This was ultimately pretty harmless since Conway doesn’t mean anything, but I don’t see the need for humiliating and burying anyone if it doesn’t get someone else over.

DX came out to a strong reaction. They are merchandising green DX glow sticks, which is a cool idea. Shawn Michaels cut their usual shtick short, angry about two weeks ago. He said that DX has been challenged many times, but they are survivors. HHH said that DX has a comedy side, but they’ve also got a bad side and they are going to leave Edge and Randy Orton in a bloody heap Sunday. This was a phenomenal promo as far as building the match.

Melina defeated Maria. Victoria did commentary, and complained about being left off the past couple WrestleManias. She said that she was going to add another name to her list. Melina scored the pin over Maria after they botched the finish. Victoria teased attacking Melina, but instead went after Lillian Garcia. She was going to use the Widow’s Peak, but Mickie James made the save. I don’t know if they had serious plans for Victoria in this feud, but she has done such a good job that one would hope they will find more for her to do.

Kenny Dykstra and Chris Masters beat Carlito and Ric Flair. Earlier in the show, Kenny said that he didn’t shake Flair’s hand because that match was about him and not Flair. He added that he is the future of Raw and he would kill Flair’s career like Gerald Ford, James Brown and Saddam Hussein. Dykstra and Masters worked over Carlito, and they put over Dykstra’s youth big time. They need to book him more strongly if they have serious plans for him.

Masters hit a press slam and applied the Masterlock on Carlito, but Flair made the save with the chop block. Carlito tagged him and he came in with punches and kicks on Kenny. He went for the figure four, but Masters broke that up. Dykstra went for a figure four of his own, but Flair pushed him off. Dykstra scored the pin with his feet on the ropes.

Flair challenged him again after the match, but Orton and Edge came in and Orton gave Flair the RKO. They then gave Flair the concerto. It’s getting to be like the boy who cried wolf with the constant serious injury angles only to have the face come back in one or two weeks. If they don’t have the patience to sell serious injuries, they shouldn’t do them in the first place. It just desensitizes the audience and makes it harder to sell angles.

Umaga, Armando, Coach and Johnny Nitro beat John Cena via disqualification. Kevin Federline gloated before the match and did commentary. Umaga gave Cena the Samoan drop, but Cena got his knees up on a banzai drop attempt. Cena then took out everyone. He put the STFU on Umaga, and hit Umaga in the head with a chair twice for the DQ. He gave Nitro, Coach and Federline the FU after the match.

Final Thoughts:

Overall the show was mediocre, but the Cena-Federline match made the show a disaster as far as building a pay-per-view. Of course, it wasn’t as bad as a clean finish or the title changing hands, but it’s still idiotic to have your champion pinned by a non-athlete in the final show before a PPV. It was a real step backwards after what had been great build for Cena-Umaga.

There is ultimately no reason for the result. It might conceivably be justified if Cena were feuding with a slimy heel, and this was another reason to make you want to see Cena get his hands on that guy. But that’s not the story of this match. The story of this match is an unstoppable monster challenging for the title, and therefore the most important issues are making the champion look strong, making the challenger look strong, and making the championship seem important.

Having the champion lose to a C-list celebrity does nothing but detract from that scenario by making the champion, championship and match results seem less meaningful. It isn’t even like they are going into the PPV with heat on Umaga and Federline. Cena got his heat back by giving Federline the FU at the end of the show. So the end result is the whole mystique of Cena vs. Umaga really being diminished, and for what purpose? This is the sort of booking that really makes you question the competence of the WWE creative team.


Anonymous Phil said...

I agree with your take on the Cena-Federline booking. I also don't think it will mean anything for ratings because a) it aired at 9:00 and b) Federline isn't a person anyone is interested in anyway as evident by the dismal performance of his album and ensuing tour. WWE's misinterpreting the wrong kind of heat for the right kind of heat.

Even if he does pop a rating, it will come at the cost of decreasing two PPV buyrates. Because of the Federline feud, WWE has not been able to optimally build interest for Cena's last two PPV main events (Armageddon and NYR).

A few other assorted thoughts:
-- I'd have liked to see Victoria attack Melina. That would show consistency in her character as Melina is exactly the type of character she came out against n her interview.
-- If Conway is going to SmackDown of ECW (remember he was only fired from Raw), it makes no sense at all to bury him on TV.
-- I also liked DX taking a serious turn in their interview and also agree there are too many "major injury" angles going on.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conway is never going to be a huge star, hes a good wrestler with a ceiling like everyone else in his "generation". He's not even on Val Venis' level as far as star power. Blame booking all you want.

The segment was to get Vince over. And remind everyone in 2007 who still runs this business.

Kevin Federline puts the letters WWE on programming where they would never be mentioned if not for his appearing in angles like this. I don't know how one could blame buyrates on this angle. Umaga's a strong heel but he's not Yoko and is a blatant shot at TNA and their use of Samoa Joe. Umaga's not gonna be the dominant champion whom people will chase for the belt or anything so I wouldn't get wrapped up in the booking of him. He's only the top singles heel because Edge and Orton are tagging.

If the thought process is people were going to judge whether or not they were ordering new years revolution based on what happened tonight, I'd say you're all out of your minds. WWE is so far ahead of everyone in total PPV buys the idea that anyone is "catching up" is beyond absurd.

Victoria and Mickie James will have great matches and with a couple additions the womens division on raw could be as strong as it's ever been.

Here's a valid question, why has DX never once made any indication that they will be world tag team champions? Yet the talk is on Cenas belt.

As far as the injury angles, if the United States is desensitizing violence by the endorsement of fight contests, its fair of the WWE to desensitize its audience in what they see as "major" injuries. Besides, nothing WWE is going to do in an injury "angle" can be any more gruesome than Allen Ray's eyeball popping out during the Villanova game last spring.

11:53 PM  
Anonymous tyson said...

Apologies, the above commentary was mine.

11:56 PM  
Anonymous Mean Dean said...

Besides, nothing WWE is going to do in an injury "angle" can be any more gruesome than Allen Ray's eyeball popping out during the Villanova game last spring.

I still haven't been able to bring myself to watch any clips of that. It just....ugh...

I would have been many times more satisfied with the Federline match had Cena FUed him, and maybe even put him in the STFU before Umaga comes out. Then Umaga spikes him or hits him with the belt, and Armando or Nitro puts Federline's lifeless body on Cena for the pin.

And has basically already been said, it's not about Federline popping ratings or PPV buys, it's about publicity. Federline still gets a lot of publicity, especially on E! and ET type stuff, and clips of him pinning Cena will be shown all over the place (personally can't wait to see what they do on The Soup). And you know what they say, any publicity is good publicity. At least WWE sure thinks so.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the above posters,

Please tell me how all this "publicity" leads to any kind of revenue for WWE. Getting mentioned on ET or E! puts no additional viewers in front of their TVs or in arenas.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Tyson said...

Publictiy peeks interest. General Interest would in turn then bring in more viewers. Which creates more revenue. If you can keep those viewers and get them to buy into whatever else is on your programming maybe you can get these particular viewers to buy tickets. Generating more revenue.

This is the cycle in which any publicity is good pulicity. I'd rather have the entertainment crowd poking fun at Federline and WWE than a 60 Minutes story on steroids and deaths in wrestling, and I'm sure WWE would as well.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous MAZ said...

With the Monday night football season coming to a close, I was certainly hoping to see a glimmer of hope for RAW, but from what I read here, it looks like nothings really changed.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

Please tell me how all this "publicity" leads to any kind of revenue for WWE. Getting mentioned on ET or E! puts no additional viewers in front of their TVs or in arenas.

I never said the publicity would lead to revenue, I just laid it out as WWE's line of thinking. Young Tyson pretty well detailed how it's supposed to work.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Kane said...

I agree that, for a go-home show, this Raw was pretty blah (please note that it rhymed). I knew what would go one with the Federline thing (and allow me to withdraw my mild support for him as a potential, non-fighting character down the line. His work on commentary was pointless, and ignored by JR. His shelf life has been used up now, as any publicity that is gained will be of the 'isn't this embarrasing' kind on d-grade show biz gossip shows, so they best cut him loose as soon as possible. The public is not just tired of him, but indifferent, just as they are of his ex-wife. I suppose they best let Cena mop up the floor with him in another week, then let him go on to being the center square on 'Hollywood Squares.' What a greta country this is!). What was disappointing was that the action between Umaga and Cena was really unexciting; that must have been one hell of a belt shot he got, as Cena was out for, seemingly, ten minutes. I do think that, unless they give Umaga the title at the PPV, which seems unlikely ( can we just assume a DQ finish?), they'll have trouble building a rematch, as a heel who not only can't talk, but doesn't talk, and who is led by a charmless manager (Estrada needs to study some Cornette tapes, and not the Jimmy Hart ones) just isn't all that exciting. I am anticipating that Nitro is Cena's next opponent, in a couple of PPVs, which may be a bit better, as he's doing a good job of copping Edge's style, and he also has the increasingly-grotesque looking Melina to talk for him (although she really isn't that good at it.).
On an another note, I agree with Tyson that it's odd that DX is fighting EdgeCo. for the tag belts, and, until it was mentioned in the PPV commercial, I don't know that it's ever even been brought up before. It's safe to assume that DX doesn't want or need the belts, as it means that they eventually would have to drop them by losing ( good luck on that one), so what happens to 'em? I'd be stunned to see EdgeCo win, so if they drop the titles, do DX just throw them in the garbage can like the good ol' days of WCW?
Finally, I agree with Todd in that the constant whacking of Ric Flair's head with chairs seems to be almost a tired joke, like Ron Simmons saying 'damn'. I wasn't even sure what the point of it was as it didn't draw DX out, the fans didn't react to it, it wasn't even all that brutal. It was more just a reminder of two weeks ago, albeit without the blade job. I'm afraid that this may become a running bit, and anticipate the moment when Lillian, turning heel, jumps Flair as he's strutting in the ring, and clobbers him with a couple of chairs to the melon as the crowd yawns, listlessly teaching their five-year-old girls to scream 'Suck It!' in high whiny voices.
Finally Finally, as far as that Conway firing, I summon up the old axiom 'If a tree falls in a forest,' by paraphrasing 'If you fire a rarely-seen jobber, does a soul alive give a tinker's damn?' It's a mouthful, but worth trying to get into the public discourse. I may suggest that some b-list celebrity start using it. Perhaps Kevin Federline. The kids seem to like him.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Tyson said...

The public is not just tired of him, but indifferent, just as they are of his ex-wife.

Although not noted in the report there was a strong "We want Britney" chant from the crowd last night.

I think that DX needs to win the titles here and hold them until mania. I didn't know the match was for the belts until today. But the match has been booked for weeks. I just feel that when it comes to WWE people try to analyze the wrong kinds of things like they've made money off of booking pro wrestling, instead of giving factual evidence of what they feel is a positive from a fans prospective. Telling me what the champion should look like here or there and this and that is all bullshit. The intrigue lies in can Cena beat Umaga, and to this point WWE has done a very good job of keeping that result up in the air.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Kane said...

I'd imagine that, with the number of kids in the crowd at a WWE show, they may well have been chanting for Spears unironically, but somehow I doubt it. I can't stress enough how little I care one way or the other, and if they keep Federline around or not, it doesn't make much difference, as long as they don't pull a David Arquette ( I'm guessing TNA has discussed this possibility as Kurt Angle's next opponent--what's one more WWE castoff, anyway?). But novelty wears off, and turns to vinegar really quick, so it may be best to let Cena give him his just desserts ASAP and cast him off (although I did see a clip of the 'match' on Keith Olbermann's show tonight, so mission accomplished...he even mentioned Umaga's name. Now, I can't really see a Countdown viewer suddenly saying, 'You know, I never cared about wrestling before, but now that they've got Federline...' but pub is pub. He did his job for 'em.
I can certainly see DX winning the belts, and cannot fathom that they would lose 'em before Mania, but I'm just not sure if that is something that DX wants to drag around, because that means that, in theory, they'd have to defend them...against who, exactly? It's not as though EdgeCo has had any title defenses (have they? I don't watch all the time), so I guess it really wouldn't make any difference if Hunter's got one more strap in his collection, but eventually they'd need to defend Mania, presumably, and I honestly can't see who or why they would fight. Not that it won't happen, I'm just not seeing it. I really can't imagine that Hunter will stay out of the title scene for much longer...he must be going through withdrawals. Flair's record don't get broken because they need to push some Wild Samoan.
Anyway, I agree that, for the most part, they've done a pretty good job of building Cena/Umaga as something to see ( although I did think that Umaga came off looking somewhat weak on the show, taking a belt shot and falling over the ropes like he did. Unstoppable monsters may wobble, but they should not fall down.). This is particularly impressive when it's a case where the challenger can't do a promo (character reasons) and his manager can't either ( talent reasons ), so credit where it's due. I'd still assume a DQ finish, but if Umaga does win it'll be a one month deal because there is no way they don't want Cena holding the strap going towards Mania. I've mentioned this before, though. Who does he fight? HHH? How's that gonna work? Who else on Raw has the reputation to headline Mania with Cena? They wouldn't go back to Edge yet...Orton's a no-go, Nitro's not a's not a knock at the company, I just do not figure how you pry Hunter out of DX to fight Cena when they are both 'over' as faces. Cena should never be turned ( not until it'd really mean something, as it would just fall flat, anyway. He's too good at what he does...nobody is gonna mess with that, and it seems as though, in most cities, he is being spared the hatred he was getting six months ago...but how long will that last? ) and while HHH is a superior heel, unless he just decides he hates Michaels and picks up HBK and clobbers Flair in the head with him, I don't see a way to make that work. I will be curious to see how they do it. I suppose Taker could win the Rumble and choose to face Cena, but does he do the job for Cena and end his undefeated streak? That'd be the true indicator how much the WWE is investing in Cena. If not Taker, then who? Rob Conway? I'd have though so, but, geez, he just go fired.
I need, for Todd's sake, to point out that forums like these are 'specifically' for people to give their opinions about workers, booking, and what they do or do not like about them; when people criticize decisions it's because they still care about the product and want it to get better. If it was all just 'Vince McMahon is a genius because he lives in a much bigger house than you do' than I'd guess nobody would bother writing in. It all goes back to the maxim of publicity that has been written about can't worry about what is being written about, it's when they stop writing is when you have to worry. The definition of facts is not 'I think this is true so it is.' That's the kind of thinking that leads to bar fights. I enjoy Todd's writing because his opinions are, generally, based on common sense arguments which are indicative of his interest as a fan in seeing the best show that a 'billion dollar company' can provide. For me, it's just an entertaining distraction. I couldn't really give a shit about any of's just better than having to talk about George Bush or something. Most everybody who writes in here has the same desire to see a good show--if everything was doughnuts and sunshine, there'd be little to talk about beyond 'John Cena's Subway ad reveals his genuine strengths as an actor. He will win an Academy Award in 2008. Anybody who doesn't think so is an asshole.'
Not that I don't think he will win an Oscar in 2008. I'd hate for anybody to think that. It just doesn't matter.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Tyson said...

Long winded. But I see your points.

Agree with most in fact.

Wrestling and this column is not as serious as your making it out to be. With that said, HHH has been in the ring with Umaga recently to see if the interaction between the two would generate money.

Everything is for a reason.

Same way Balls knocked out his teeth tonight and played it up because the moment will last on ECW forever. Its all about money.

But if this isn't about money, it would fall under the same entertaining distraction umbrella.

2:09 AM  
Anonymous Mean Dean said...

Edge and Orton defended the titles against the Hardys about a month ago, which would have been the perfect chance to take the straps off them...

7:43 AM  

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