Monday, February 26, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 02/26/07 from Fresno, CA.

The Big News: Randy Orton and Edge thought that they could drive a wedge between John Cena and Shawn Michaels, but they ended up having the tables turned on them.
Conclusive Finishes: 3 of 4.

Show Analysis:

Shawn Michaels and John Cena came out to start the show. It was announced that they would be defending their tag titles, but Edge and Randy Orton appeared on the screen and said that would happen later in the show. Orton said Michaels was robbed at the Oscars because he’s a tremendous actor in saying he has Cena’s back. Cena indicated he didn’t believe Edge and Orton, so they aired a video package of Michaels turning on Marty Jannetty, Diesel, X-Pac, Booker T and Hulk Hogan over the years. Cena turned to Michaels and gave him a dirty look. Michaels told Cena that Cena can trust him.

I loved this opening segment. It was great on many levels. To begin with, I love the angle where the heel is trying to get the faces to turn on each other, and you’re not sure if they will. They also tied in the past really well in making today’s storyline a part of a greater history. Finally, they are telling a long term story that has a number of steps along the way. I think long term booking is imperative for successful pro wrestling, because it makes you want to tune in to the TV show to see what will happen next and order the pay-per-view for the conclusion to the story. All in all, great stuff.

Jeff Hardy beat Shelton Benjamin to earn a spot in the Money in the Bank match. Benjamin went for a series of pinning attempts early, and then used a bunch of punches. Hardy hit a clothesline off the barricade and the whisper in the wind. Benjamin responded with an overhead belly to belly superplex. Benjamin followed with a back drop, but blew a springboard dropkick spot. Hardy immediately went for the pin and they did a close near fall, which was really smart because it almost made it seem like it was a planned spot. Benjamin missed the stinger splash and Hardy hit the swanton for the pin.

Melina was backstage complaining to Johnny Nitro about Ashley in Playboy, Mick Foley’s book, Mickie James’ falls count anywhere rematch for the women’s title next week and her match with Maria this week. Nitro told her to shut up to a crowd pop. He said he has his own problems after losing his Money in the Bank opportunity, and went out for his match. Nitro jumped Super Crazy before the match got under way. He gave him a beatdown on the outside, threw him into the steps, and walked to the back seething. Nitro was really good here and it was smart to get over the importance of the Money in the Bank by having the losers devastated at losing their chance.

Melina beat Maria in a short match. Maria missed a drop kick, and Melina took over by stepping on Maria’s head, choking her, flinging her by the hair and applying the camel clutch. Maria came back with kicks, a bulldog and a clothesline. She went for the bronco buster but Maria blocked it with a boot. Melina then rolled up Maria for the pin.

Vince McMahon came out and said everyone is talking about the battle of the billionaires. Vince said he would give Donald Trump a billionaire bitch slap and brought out Umaga. He said Trump has made a career of one-upping people, but it won’t happen this time. Trump appeared on the screen and said that he would. Trump said Umaga’s an animal, but animals can be tamed. He said you do so by finding something superior, and introduced Lashley as his representative. Lashley came to the ring and a brawl ensured with security trying to break up Lashley and Umaga. Jim Ross did a great job selling the somewhat underwhelming pick of Lashley.

Chris Masters was holding another Masterlock challenge, and Great Khali came out. Khali sat down in the chair for the Masterlock but Masters didn’t have it applied when Kane arrived. He gave Masters a choke slam and clotheslined Khali to the outside. He hit Masters with a chair. Great Khali vs. Kane has the potential to be unspeakably awful. Backstage, Vince McMahon got a call from the board of directors saying they wanted a guest referee for the battle of the billionaires.

They announced Jerry Lawler for the Hall of Fame, and plugged his Memphis career heavily. Carlito then defeated Kenny Dykstra. Carlito hit clotheslines, a body slam, and a springboard corkscrew senton. Kenny rammed Carlito into the apron twice and hit some shoulder blocks. Carlito came back with clotheslines, a knee lift and a springboard elbow. Kenny caught him with a sit down power bomb for a near fall. Finally, Carlito gave him the back cracker for the pin.

Ric Flair came out to applaud. Since they seem more open to slower builds right now, I would delay the Carlito/Flair feud. There just isn’t enough time to make it mean something for WrestleMania. The story needs more time to be told, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world to have a few things planned for after WrestleMania. Vince said backstage that he would appear on ECW to make Lashley’s life a living hell.

John Cena and Shawn Michaels beat Edge and Randy Orton. The heels worked over Cena first. He tagged Michaels who came in with a flying forearm, inverted atomic drop, body slam and elbow off the top on Orton. Michaels went for sweet chin music but almost hit Cena before a commercial break. After the break, the heels worked over Michaels. Eventually he tagged Cena, who gave Orton the Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle. Cena went for the FU but Edge stopped it and the referee was knocked out.

Edge went for the spear on Cena but ran into an FU attempt. Orton brought a title belt into the ring but Michaels hit Edge with it. He then gave the belt to Orton, and Edge thought Orton hit him with it. Orton and Edge argued, and Edge left. Michaels then gave Orton sweet chin music and Cena gave him the FU for the pin. This was a really clever twist and finish to the match. Cena and Michaels were celebrating after the match when the referee went to give Cena his title. The title was right between Cena and Michaels and they both stared at it as the show ended.

Final Thoughts:

WWE is in the best shape they have been in since SummerSlam 2002. A few times over the past few years WWE has had short bursts of quality programming, but each time the signs were there that it could quickly fall apart. Right now Raw and Smackdown in particular are so well put together that I’m starting to gain faith that they can follow through after WrestleMania. If you’re one of the people that doesn’t watch the show regularly but reads about it, now’s a good time to give it a try again.

11 Comments:

Anonymous mean dean said...

Working overnights now, I set up my VCR to record Raw, but realized before I left that I messed it up and with too little time to fix it. Looks like I missed a pretty good little show.

Backstage, Vince McMahon got a call from the board of directors saying

As I got that far, I was really hoping the rest would say "...the Kane/Khali match was being cancelled."

1:12 AM  
Anonymous Sonny said...

There is a way to fix Khali vs Kane, have the match on Raw/Smackdown, Khali goes over large and sets up his own challenge the good old body slam challenge (get him a mouthpiece to do this), with 3 shows a week have him on each show with ppl always failing to slam him and for mania enter Hogan for the staredown that everyone wants for nostalgia...hogan picks him up, slams him, done deal, both guys serve their purpose and we dont have to see Khali wrestle...itll be hard with the hogan situation but I think Vince and Hogan will patch things up

5:44 AM  
Anonymous the masterbater said...

I know you said its a good time to watch it but what about after Wrestlemania? Is it going to be the same. They usually work really hard in giving good programming when Wrestlemania comes but than after Wrestlemania it seems like they go back to the same crap. Anyways why haven't I seen Steamboat in the Hall of Fame yet?? Whats up with the delay?

6:53 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Whether Raw remains good after WrestleMania is the big question. I'm starting to gain confidence that it might, even though we've seen a number of times in recent years that WWE can do really well heading into a major PPV but then afterwards it has no direction, does a bunch of stupid things, and ruins it all. So the jury's still out on post-Mania.

We haven't seen Ricky Steamboat in the Hall of Fame because neither he nor WWE owns the name Ricky Steamboat. His ex-wife got that in a divorce settlement. So WWE's I assume hoping that will work itself out somehow and they don't have to induct "Richard Blood."

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How could they not have the rights to Rick "The Dragon" Steamboat? Wow.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That makes no sense? On the Best of the 80's DVD out in 2005, he was called 'Steamboat.'

Even though Raw is hot right now, and everything is clicking, I think they 'lucked' into it, with Shawn Michaels really stepping up. I don't think we'd be saying this if the buildup was for Cena-HHH

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Kane said...

I'm in agreement that the shows have really been well put together and entertaining...I don't think that there is any question that much of this has to do with the injury to HHH...it's obvious in everything that he does that HBK was rejuvenated by the decision to give him the ball, and he has run with it like a Pro Bowler. I don't believe that this would have been nearly as strong a build if Hunter was the challenger ( I never could fathom how they were going to make it work...the whole tag champs angle wouldn't be there, Michaels would have been even more bored than the DX stuff clearly makes him). I like the slowburn towards whether HBK attacks Cena...I kinda figured nothing would happen last night since they kept talking it up, but almost wondered if Cena may suckerpunch HBK( even though it really doesn't fit his character) as a precaution. When I am thinking like that, then this is working well. There looks to be a few duds, no doubt ( Kane/Khali unspeakable, the inevitable Nitro-Melina-Foley-Ashley mixed tag) but I give Lashley credit for amping it up against Umaga, and that may not be too bad a match ( just a slugfest, which works best for both men )..truth be told, how in the hell was Hogan going to work with Umaga? That woulda been bad.
Money in the Bank may not work as well, since there's 8 men in the match, but they are putting some strong workers in there ( who gets the last spots? Matt Hardy? Finlay? Booker's an odd fit, but I think they just did that to give him something to do when Kane was switched to Khali...I'd say Benoit but he seems to have vanished off the face of the earth. Orton, of course, as I think he'll win it. It's time to give him a feud with Cena, until Hunter comes back for the inevitable DX/RKO II . The way Orton has improved lately, I think that could be a pretty solid feud. The question is, though, when does Hunter get the belt back? He must be getting one hell of a rash not having the strap around his waist. Two years is a lifetime for him.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

The question is, though, when does Hunter get the belt back?

In my humble opinion, not soon enough.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As much as Flair is upset with losing to Kenny Dykstra, how come he's not running around acting like a madman like Angle?"

1/15

1:26 AM  
Blogger Tyson said...

Vince, you run a public company, copying wrestling society x's mouthing of foul language is of poor taste. However, it must be fun to even be able to stoop again.

WSX hit a homerun with having the musicians on the commentary. Clipse kept callin' that one dude 'ass tassels' ..shit was hilarious.

Looking forward to Wrestlemania, they did a hell of a job of making the trump mcmahon the money match. Anyone who has started watching over the past few weeks would want to see that match more than any other match on the show. Way to save Mania for another year with no Hogan, no Rock, no HHH, no Austin..

Seriously though, when was the last big time Mania dream match?

Poor Shelton Benjamin, the guy has the worst luck. Big time match was just getting good, and a blown spot like that kills the crowd. They did a great job recovering from it. Alot can be learned from that match.

Khali/Kane as the monster match is fine with me. Lashley keeps getting better but hit the danger zone when he started taking the intensity down a notch after he stiffed Holly. Shows what support..and strong booking will do for a guy.

For anyone who hasn't seen him, check out some of those matches featuring Mistico on youtube. The guy is like Rey Mysterio + Tajiri + Ultimo Dragon. Is that even possible? I didn't think so either.

The shitty part is, how's a guy like that have to have an empty arena tryout to see if he can "work". Some of those CMLL shows look like they're in front of 20,000 people easy. The big question is, does WWE consider him big enough to not be repackaged. Mysterio, Mistico, seems too close for company policy..We'll see.

2:40 AM  
Blogger Tyson said...

WWE should get into the MMA game. It should be Shane's endeavour and distance itself as far from Vince as possible to keep the idea of legit. It will still get the criticism from the Muschnicks of the world but who is not interested in an MMA card that would look something like this.

Brocks Lesnar, Goldberg, Kurt Angle, Tank Abbott, Sean O Haire, Bob Sapp, Ken Shamrock, Sylvester Terkay

I mean how can they pass on an oppurtunity like this? This is the upswing of the much talked about pro wrestling "cycle". In the spirit of guys like Lou Thez who were feared because of their pure fight skill while maintaining the ability to entertain, the crossover star after a couple wins in MMA in front of the national audience would be groundbreaking. Ken Shamrock had alot of success in WWE. Dan Severn not withstanding, there is no easier conversion for an athlete than going from a mixed martial arts promotion to a pro wrestling promotion.

Now all they gotta do is get the shit OK'd in New York. WWE might be the only entity strong enough to push for a move like that, but I find it hard to believe they will be able to do it on their own.

9:56 AM  

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