Monday, March 12, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 03/12/07 from Washington, DC.

The Big News: Donald Trump appeared live on Raw for a contact signing, and the Rock weighed in with his thoughts on the match.

Conclusive Finishes: 5 of 6.

Show Analysis:

The show started with a graphic for Ernie Ladd. John Cena came out, and said he has been asking himself if he trusts Shawn Michaels. He challenged Michaels to come do whatever he is going to do. Michaels made his entrance. He acknowledged his goal is to take Cena’s title, but said that he has kept his word in watching Cena’s back. He added that maybe the question should be when Cena turns on him. Michaels said he wants it more than Cena.

Jonathan Coachman came out and announced that Michaels and Cena would compete in a gauntlet match with three other teams for the tag titles. He added that the final match would be a cage match. I didn’t like this setup at all. It was way too reminiscent of Vince Russo TNA, with gimmicks being stacked on top of each other in a throwaway manner so that they mean nothing and it is harder to get them over in another setting.

They again aired a video package with various celebrities predicting whether Donald Trump or Vince McMahon would have their head shaved. They all focused on Trump with little discussion of McMahon. The highlight was one celebrity just spelling out that Trump would never agree to lose his hair so obviously Vince will be booked to lose. Seriously, that was pretty much the exact sentiment, even if it was worded a little differently.

Randy Orton beat Carlito and Ric Flair to earn the last spot in the Money in the Bank match. All three alternated offense early, then Carlito and Flair took turns on Orton. Flair and Carlito got into an argument over who would eliminate Orton. Flair shoved Carlito and went for the figure four on Orton, but Carlito gave him the back cracker. Orton threw Carlito to the outside and gave Flair the RKO for the pin. Orton then gave Carlito an implant DDT, Boston crab and Garvin stomp. Orton went for the RKO, but Carlito hit a huracanrana, knee lift, clothesline and enzuigiri. Orton caught him with a sudden RKO for the pin. They put over Orton strong here and this was good stuff.

Chris Masters held another Masterlock challenge. He threatened Lillian Garcia, which brought out Super Crazy to no reaction whatsoever. Crazy attacked Masters. Masters applied the Masterlock, and Crazy didn’t fight it for very long like most people do. They then aired a well done video package for Ernie Ladd, putting him over big as a performer and a person.

Randy Orton and Edge had a discussion backstage. Orton noted they will be opponents at WrestleMania. Edge said he has won more ladder matches than everyone else in the match combined and is undefeated at WrestleMania. Orton said Edge is only undefeated there because he hasn’t faced Orton. Orton oddly concluded that he is younger and better looking than Edge.

The Rock appeared on the video screen to discuss the Trump-McMahon match at WrestleMania. He said that Vince will get his head shaved. He also claimed that Umaga means shriveled up monkey penis in Samoan. Rock was clearly having a good time here and is noticeably much smaller than he was in wrestling. I miss the Rock as a pro wrestler, but he deserves the success he has had in Hollywood. He needs to be pickier when it comes to scripts, though.

John Cena and Shawn Michaels beat Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. Cena gave Benjamin a fisherman buster but Haas took over on Cena with a body slam and shoulder blocks. Cena tagged Michaels, who came in with an inverted atomic drop and DDT on Haas. Cena then tagged himself back in and applied the STFU for the tap. This was too short.

Immediately thereafter, Michaels and Cena beat Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. Cade and Murdoch executed their double team inverted atomic drop/yakuza kick. Cade followed with a clothesline and bear hug on Michaels, but Michaels hit an enzuigiri and tagged Cena. Cena hit the Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle on Murdoch. He lifted him up for the FU, but Michaels gave Murdoch sweet chin music, grazing right by Cena’s head. Cena covered for the pin, but was not pleased. That was a cool spot.

Cena and Michaels then defeated MNM in a short cage match. MNM worked over Michaels, with Nitro using a neck breaker and double team stomach breaker. Nitro missed a second rope sky twister press, and Michaels tagged Cena. Michaels and Cena took turns throwing MNM into the cage. Cena went for the FU, but dropped his man when Michaels was setting up for sweet chin music. Michaels gave Mercury sweet chin music, and Cena followed with the FU for the pin. Afterwards the other tag teams came back in, but Michaels and Cena fought them all off six on two. It looked like Cena might hit Michaels with a chair but instead he hit Haas and left.

The positives of this gauntlet segment were that it told a good story, had some cool spots, and was entertaining. The negatives were that it was overbooked in a way that took away from the impact of the individual spots, buried more people than was necessary, and featured a completely pointless cage match.

Edge was going to wrestle Jeff Hardy, but Edge wasn’t dressed to wrestle. Edge said he didn’t want to compete in a city that perpetuates slurs against Native Americans, referring to the Washington Redskins nickname. He said he had a friend of Indian descent, and that brought out Great Khali. Khali destroyed Jeff with a chop, boot and tree slam. At that point Kane came out with a hook ala See No Evil. Khali left. This was a really dumb angle. Maybe John Nord can come back and have a duel with his sword against Kane’s hook.

Mr. Fuji was announced for the Hall of Fame. Mick Foley then plugged his book backstage. He suggested Vince will have his head shaved. He said he would have some things to say about ECW tomorrow night. I’m looking forward to that. Ashley came in, and plugged her edition of Playboy. She suggested they trade a Playboy for a book. Foley sold Ashley’s centerfold huge. I’ll be curious if this edition of Playboy sells. I don’t get the sense that people are at all interested in Ashley.

Melina beat Torrie Wilson. Melina worked Torrie over with punches and threw her by the hair. Melina ended up rolling up Torrie and grabbing the tights for the pin. After the match, Melina attacked Torrie again but Mickie made the save. Victoria came out to make it two on two, and finally Ashley came in and attacked Melina. She motioned that she wants the women’s title. Edge came up to Vince backstage, and suggested Orton with Edge in his corner vs. Lashley on ECW tomorrow night. He added that Orton should be thrown out of Money in the Bank if he doesn’t show up. Vince agreed to all of this, so apparently Edge has some sort of a plan.

They announced that next week they will have a pair of “WrestleMania reversal” matches where Cena and Michaels will have to wrestle past foes of their opponent. The matches will be Cena vs. Chris Benoit and Michaels vs. JBL. I absolutely hate the idea of JBL’s return coming on a random Raw with no build as a total afterthought. JBL has gotten over so strongly as a commentator that his return really ought to mean something.

Vince McMahon came out and said that he won’t be embarrassed at WrestleMania because this is his world. Umaga, Donald Trump and Lashley made their entrances and they signed the contract. Vince was talking a lot of trash while Trump smiled smugly. They argued about who people want to see shaved.

At this point, Stone Cold Steve Austin came out. He polled the audience as to who they thought would lose. Austin warned Trump not to piss him off, and wanted to know if Vince has a problem with bald headed people. Vince said he will shave Trump’s head and started to leave. Trump showed an image of Vince shaved bald and challenged Vince to come back. Vince came back to the ring and Trump shoved him down. This was an entertaining segment, although I’m concerned there is something missing in this feud. It kind of reminds me of the IFL, with the focus on coaches rather than combatants.

Final Thoughts:

This was another good show, although I thought it was towards the lower end of Raw’s recent efforts. It made me a little bit nervous in that they are giving away things that they shouldn’t in a way that suggests they are just thinking about WrestleMania and not beyond that. Saving a cage match for a Batista vs. Undertaker WrestleMania rematch would be a lot more effective and could sell some buys, as could holding off JBL’s return for a heavily promoted PPV. Wrestling isn’t about throwing things against the wall – it is about gradually teaching fans to want something and then giving it to them. If WWE wants to carry its current momentum beyond WrestleMania, it needs to be setting up future events, not undermining their significance.


Anonymous mean dean said...

I don’t get the sense that people are at all interested in Ashley.

It doesn't help that she has already posed nude under a pseudonym.

I hate when they do things like allowing X wrestler, Edge in this case, to make his/her own matches. Subbing Nitro last week and Khali this week. Why even have the commissioner/GM characters then? In fact, let's just make it Yankee Swap wrestling! You don't like your opponent, sub him out!

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It kind of reminds me of the IFL, with the focus on coaches rather than combatants.

College Basketball

The School, The Coach..nothing else matters.

Now only if the IFL can get the fans to care about the franchises. The fighters are interchangeable..or at least becoming so.

Who is the commissioner/GM of Raw? I know I saw the sheriff last night.

Still the most electrifying. How you leave for all that time and get better? Oh yeah, so when you come back, you can do less and be just as effective. If HHH didn't stand to make so much money off it in the future you'd think he'd object to putting Rock over a few more times.

RAW felt like it was on forever last night.

I don't know whats worse..that TNA was given the best wrestler in the history of their company on a platter and they waste him...or that he is forced to do the exact same thing he was doing with ECW and pretend he likes it.

And please, can we not hear about how great the fans are in TNA. Let me hear a change the channel chant the next time I'm forced to sit through one of those shitty X division matches. Put a bullet in ECW? Drop the bomb on TNA.

Damn Micke James is short.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I hate when they do things like allowing X wrestler, Edge in this case, to make his/her own matches. Subbing Nitro last week and Khali this week. Why even have the commissioner/GM characters then?

My sentiments exactly. I also agree with Todd in that they are giving way too much away on free TV and wrote that last week. MNM v. Cena/Michaels could, if properly promoted, be a heavily hyped TV main or even a PPV B show main.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

MNM v. Cena/Michaels could, if properly promoted, be a heavily hyped TV main or even a PPV B show main.

Funny you say that, because there was a time back when MNM was exclusively on Smackdown that I felt they were maybe the hottest heel as a unit in the company, and could have made for some interesting storylines if they were booked as such.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also agree with Todd in that they are giving way too much away on free TV

At 39.95 and 49.95 a pop they should be giving away as much on free tv as possible.

WWE is not going to reach the point to where they are unable to build strongly enough to generate a decent PPV buy. Things change when you and your history are the measuring stick. And although WWE presents itself as combative entertainment it will never, ever be in the same genre as a shoot or work-shoot style. Unless they want to be.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

On the last post...

1) WWE has already reached the point where they are unable to draw decent PPV buys in my opinion and in Vince's opinion seeing as how he's made that a priority. Everything but the Rumble, Mania and SummerSlam has been declining for years with no sign of a turnaround. They desperately need to get those up from the current level. December to Dismember dropped below six figures, which is staggering. This is a problem area, and they need to be heavily focusing on bringing up those numbers.

2) Even if we assume that PPV is fine, what would be the possible point of hotshotting on TV? They get next to no revenue based on TV ratings given they don't sell their ads anymore. They are locked in set arrangements for Raw and Smackdown where they just get the same fee every week. Temporary ratings increases don't bring increased profits. Temporary PPV buy rate increases do. Giving away PPV attractions on TV was a bad idea even when temporary ratings increases meant more. Now it represents incredible myopia.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would imagine that the long term goal is for ECW to be a success. For that to happen and for them to be able to run three brands smoothly Im guessing that popping revenue with PPV buys over the course of the year is the best way to do that. Which is why I'm assuming that WWE wants to focus more on PPVs drawing buys and not to just get the rates up to get them up.

Hotshotting... like an un-announced appearence by The Rock? I mean I guess I could try to argue thats for ratings but its not. I'd say thee main goal of hotshotting is to get people talking and to create general interest in the product, whether it be for the short term (upcoming PPV, next week's raw) or the long term (bringing back fans or broadening to a new audience).

I mean you cant tell me that Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton can't do a program together now, or that JBL is somehow going to gain some group of fans that he never really had just because hes been an announcer and loved by internet folk the past year or so. Say what you wanna say JBL was a bad choice for the Wrestlemania Reversal match and not because it ruins his big comeback. The real question is why waste Chris Benoit returning to RAW on a throwaway appearence before Wrestlemania, unless hes there to set up things for after.

People want reality, or the sense of it. Just look at the top match for mania, the reality is, someone is gonna lose their hair. Whether its pre-determined or not isnt the issue, people just want that experience. This is a reality tv generation, which is a big reason why UFC has been extremely successful as of late.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who watches smackdown?

11:49 PM  

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