Monday, June 18, 2007

If You've Been Waiting for a Rant...

WWE Raw Report

Date: 06/18/07 from Richmond, VA.

The Big News: WWE is back to its dumbest, most counterproductive worst. This show left me livid.

Show Analysis:

The show started by recounting Vince’s death. Mick Foley came out and said that if he knew Vince would spontaneously combust, he would have been nicer last week. He apologized to the McMahon family. Randy Orton came out, and suggested Foley had the motivation to bomb Vince’s car. King Booker came out and pointed the finger at Lashley. Lashley came out and shoved Booker. That brought out John Cena, who said Vince has tons of enemies, and we should just let the feds do their job and get on with the show. Coach made his entrance and said he’s in charge on an interim basis. He made Orton and Booker vs. Cena and Lashley plus Foley vs. Umaga.

Brian Kendrick and Paul London got a nice reaction, and defeated Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. They should have given these guys more time. Haas went for a German suplex on Kendrick, but Kendrick landed on his feet and hit sliced bread #2 for the pin. Carlito was out next, and said nobody was cooler than Vince. He said Torrie Wilson and Ric Flair were lucky to get drafted to Smackdown so they don’t have to deal with Carlito any more. Sandman made his entrance and Carlito bailed. Cryme Tyme were doing a memorabilia sale of Vince’s stuff. You know, like viva la savings.

Jeff Hardy beat Daivari with the whisper in the wind, twist of fate and swanton. Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch after the match kind of explained their heel turn. They said that they tried to play by the rules but Matt and Jeff went too far so they had to respond for their fans. Heel promos sometimes don’t make perfect sense, but this made no sense. Backstage, Iron Sheik approached Coach and said he deserves his own talk show on Raw. This would be fantastic, but would probably end horribly.

William Regal introduced himself to Maria. Santino came in and Maria tried to introduce the two men, but Regal was unhappy. Pairing Regal with Marella is a good idea. Hopefully they can work together on the road and Regal can help him improve. Vince’s limo driver was interviewed, and he said he got a call from his wife and went to get better reception when Vince was blown up.

Umaga vs. Mick Foley didn’t take place. Foley jumped Umaga before the match started. They brawled around. Foley hit Umaga in the head with a chair, but Umaga hit a crescent kick that sent the chair into Foley’s head. He then hit a butt drop that sent Foley’s head into the steps. Backstage, Foley was checked by a doctor and couldn’t answer any questions. This was a good angle that presumably takes Foley out of Sunday’s main event.

Mr. Kennedy came out and he’s a heel again. He said he doesn’t like the Raw audience, because they have no respect for talent. He said he respects Vince and will dedicate his career to Vince. I guess the Kennedy-Edge angle is completely forgotten. I can see the idea behind doing a slower turn, but it seemed like the fans were ready to embrace him last week. Finally around this point they showed a picture of Sherri Martel briefly.

Melina and Jillian Hall defeated Candice and Mickie James. The heels worked over Candice. Mickie eventually tagged in and hit a fisherman suplex, but Melina defeated Mickie with a leg drop neck breaker. Jim Ross after this match did the solemn, serious sell after this match. For Vince, not Sherri.

Randy Orton and King Booker defeated Lashley and John Cena. The heels worked over Cena, who tagged Lashley. Lashley hit a spine buster on Booker, but Orton tagged in and hit the RKO on Lashley for the pin. Stephanie McMahon arrived in a limousine, crying. She came to the ring and cried some more. The crowd booed. She said next week there will be a 3 hour celebration of Vince McMahon. Seriously. Like we haven’t seen enough of this nonsense. She talked about how much she loved Vince as the fans responded “what.” She promised Vengeance when they find out who was responsible, and left to boos.

Final Thoughts:

I hated this show.

I had no problem with last week’s show whatsoever. But if I had any idea at that point where they were going with this I would have gone on an extended rant at that point in time. This whole angle is awful for three very large and independent reasons.

First, the whole reason I liked this angle in the first place was it got Vince McMahon off television. Vince is a great performer, but he is ridiculously overexposed at the expense of the roster of actual wrestlers. Worse, he has been doing the same character basically every week for ten years and it is unbelievably stale. The upside of killing off the Vince character was that it would allow the show to focus on the wrestlers. But the angle has had the exact opposite effect. Vince is more the focus of the show than ever before, and everything else is a secondary or tertiary issue. It’s more overbearing than ever.

Second, even if it weren’t annoying and unentertaining, it’s also counterproductive from a business standpoint. Over the past five years, WWE has completely destroyed a fundamental building block of professional wrestling: the interest wrestling fans have in seeing the conclusion to specific wrestling matches. That interest is what gets people to order pay-per-view events. Fans want to see which wrestler will prevail. But that emotion has been completely destroyed, and instead fans now largely watch just to see a good “show.”

WrestleMania and Backlash had pretty much the same lineup. One was a huge success and the other was a gigantic failure. That’s because fans don’t care about individual wrestling matches, and just want to see big shows now. If WWE wants to rebuild its PPV business, it has to convince fans that the big PPV matches are important. There’s nothing that could be less helpful to that goal than building the entire show around a murder mystery completely disconnected from the PPV programs. It undermines the PPV matches by making them less of an issue.I like mysteries in wrestling. But the goal of the mystery should ultimately to build to a money match. Here there is no money match. There is no way to pay this off in a way that benefits business. What, is Vince going to come back as a babyface to avenge his attempted murder? Is Shane going to try to gain revenge for his dad? Even if they did something like that nobody would care. Nobody buys that Vince was blown up. It’s just a fake over the top wrestling angle.

You can get me to suspend disbelief and believe that two wrestlers hate each other and are going to fight. But it’s way too much to get me to believe that Vince McMahon, who is in fact alive, was blown up in a car on national television and now people are fighting over this. There is no money to be drawn and making it so much of the focus makes it hard for anything else to feel important. There were no reactions at any point during this show to the many teases of who blew up Vince. That’s because the whole angle feels contrived and fake, which isn’t a great start for some sort of main event program.

Third, even assuming this weren’t an overbearing and stupid angle, and even assuming it weren’t idiotic for business, it’s also another tacky, sleazy WWE angle that makes WWE look like a contemptible form of entertainment to the general public. I don’t personally find this angle offensive, but I can only imagine what the average person would think about this nonsense. You’ve got a business filled with death, and they turn it into a stupid angle.

You have a fake tribute show essentially parodying very real tribute shows for Eddie Guerrero and Owen Hart. You’ve got the announcers selling this as a tragedy like when countless wrestlers have died. You had a legitimate company hall of famer die of unnatural causes last week, and they ignored it on one show and treated it as an afterthought on the other to sell their fake angle. This sort of crap is why basically everyone in this country thinks the wrestling business is a joke. It’s so callous and sleazy.

WWE has actually had a pretty good year in 2007. The booking and wrestling has been better, and the promotion has taken their product more seriously and avoided counterproductive nonsense. Well, the nonsense is back in full force, and I have a feeling it’s going to get worse before it gets better.


Anonymous Patrick said...

I agree whole heartedly. It was tough to watch the wwe before because of all the vince nonsense but now it will be even tougher to watch as Vince becomes the focus of every segment. I almost wish that Vince had really died because then the McMahons wouldn't be the focus of the show. Seeing Stephanie back on tv makes me realize that the McMahons will never go away. The genie is out and it won't go back in.

12:19 AM  
Anonymous Dan Wahlers said...

Great job, Todd. Agreed and back up all the points you made. Tonight's show just furthered the disgusting garbage we saw on ECW and Smackdown last week. Seeing stuff like this makes me embarrassed to be a wrestling fan.

Just a word of warning, though. Get ready for the WWE apologists to come out of the woodwork. They were out in full force with me, in response to the column I wrote Monday on the site.

They come armed with lines like, "It's just a TV show. It's not real life." or "If you hate the product so much, stop watching." Or my personal favorite, "Get laid every once in a while." That line comes mostly from the WWE employees, who subscribe to the stereotypical theory that every internet wrestling fan is a fat nerd living in their mother's basement.

I was actually surprised at the number of people that wrote me supporting WWE today. Sure, the vast majority of people agreed with me, and similar opinions like the ones you expressed in your report. You know, the sane ones.

But it's amazing how many people Vince has snowed. He gives them a plate full of shit, and they gladly take it all, and say "Thank you sir, may I have another." Unbelievable.

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You can get me to suspend disbelief and believe that two [performers] hate each other and are going to fight."

Things will be tougher to watch if you don't let go of the past.

They re-introduced the RAW brand tonight, which was the major story and I didn't catch any of that in the show analysis. Accept for Regal-Marella talk, like people are paying to see either one of them.

Didn't hear as many what chants during Stephanie's promo as I did Foleys.

WWE's biggest problem isn't it's competition it's the people who actually watch the shows on a weekly basis and support the programs by doing so, then talk shit about it advising others not to watch.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Al Tyson said...

I saw RAW this week and then I read this. This isn't what I saw. Report seemed rushed and I'm not sure why you're so mad, don't you think more people now know that Sherri died?

They definately re-introduced the RAW roster and brand tonight. It looks more solid than it has in a long time.

12:52 AM  
Blogger Kenny_F1283 said...

Absolutely agree Todd.

In response to any who believes that the show did a good job in establishing the Raw brand. Firstly, I disagree with you, as the McMahon angle seemed to be the focus of the show. Secondly, even if it did, that does not change the fact that the McMahon angle is inherently morally repugnant. They are using exactly the same techniques and traditions to put over an angle, as they do when real human beings die!

When they used the ten bell salute for a storyline, they cheapened the memory of every occasion they used it to honour someones life. It is a mockery of anytime the company has genuinely come together in grief and respect.

For anyone who thinks this is an overeaction, answer me this. If Vince really did keel over and die tomorrow, what would the company do? What left is there for them to do?

1:08 AM  
Anonymous CF Kane said...

I'm with you 100 percent on this. I did tune in, despite myself, to see if maybe they'd just cut bait on the angle and move on. Nope. It seemed, in the first segment, that maybe they were going to try to play it for laughs (Foley saying McMahon 'spontaneously combusted' and Cena's promo), which is the only way to make this work in any capacity. But when Lawler started speaking in the tones of a funeral director, and JR half-heartedly followed suit, I knew we were in big trouble. I don't think I'd have any problems with this dumb angle if, in fact, wrestling and WWE in particular weren't dealing with very serious mortality issues on a week to week basis. People can write you or Dan Wahlers and say 'Lighten up, it's just a TV show', but the difference is that the cast of 'Grey's Anatomy' is not expected to go through the physical grind that these fellows do on a daily basis, just to make a living. The fact that this also insures more McMahonage ( my God, another 3-hour tribute show next week...they can't be serious )at a time when they need much, much less is just the icing on a stale, store-bought cake. Somebody should tell Vince that masturbation is a much cheaper alternative, and would likely pop him the same rating. I know a few people who have commented on this site before would set their VCR's for that.
The show, itself, and more so the next PPV, seemed insignificant and the introduction of the newer workers just tacked on out of some sense of obligation (I found the way that Carlito had to 'explain' the Sandman particularly funny, in an unintentional way.). I will say that the most ingeniuous way to sell an unimpressive PPV is to end your go-home show with the image of Stephanie McMahon crying as she walks up the ramp. People should pay for this PPV in rolls of nickels.
By the way, nobody's mentioned it, but Stephanie is the one who blew up the car.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job as always, Todd. I thought they really blew off the PPV last night. Instead of the usual match run-down near the end, the announcers mentioned 2 matches and pointed everyone to the website for the full card. Are you kidding me? I thought the point of these shows was to build towards a PPV where you can make money. Silly me.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you complain when you knew they were gonna kill off McMahon? Instead of standin up beforehand and complaining about what they were about to do, you took a reactionary stance and are just complaining to complain.

Get outta here wit that.

Dont tell me the week before they kill him off that you want to see him killed off and the week after they do it you complain that they're still talking about it. LMAO. Hypocritical much? Yeah.. they were gonna kill off Vince McMahon and it would be an afterthought the following week...riiiiight.

Anyone who agrees with this report don't read what you write often, because if they did they would look awful foolish in doing so.

Vince really gave us a huge platter of shit when they re-organized the rosters to present a more entertaining product. Bastards.

To answer a previous question, if Vince McMahon did keel over and die WWE wouldn't HAVE to do a damn thing. The major news and sports networks would do it for them.

They showed matches for Vengeance throughout the show. You must not have watched the entire thing.

If you can tell me anything WWE did over the past few weeks is any worse than programming you can see on cable tv you're a liar.

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Todd, you hit the nail on the head with this one. What are they doing to this brand! With shows like these I've actually been tuning in more to TNA. The whole Vince death angle makes me sick to my stomach. And they never did give Sherri her proper due. This has to stop. Let's get back to the real wrestling and get away from these gimmicks. They are going down the same road that WCW did. And we all know what happened with them.

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did Stephanie McMahon screw up when she said "My dad IS the most important person in this world...WAS" It could have been said intentionally and written in the script but it would have been funny if it was a mistake as it would have really showed to the crowd that her father is really alive.

As for the death angle, I understand what they are trying to do with it but if Dave Meltzer wants to compare this to the who shot JR angle on Dallas, why not just injure Mr. McMahon and go through the same investigation? The thing that really rubs people the wrong way with this is this follows tribute shows in the past for Owen, Eddie etc. You can say it's in bad taste but then again when has the WWE been in good taste?

I know we can all look back and second guess everything the writers and the McMahon's (and HHH) but we have hindsight with us. So we will just have to see where they go from here with this.

Desperate times call for desperate actions.

8:56 AM  
Blogger nevs999 said...

Thankfully, I play golf Monday nights and have the DVR tape magnificent episodes of Raw - one after another.

Thanks, Vince, Steph, et all. I'm moving ever closer to ridding myself of this habit - the DVR taping, not the golf.

- Matt in Anchorage

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

By the way, Mick Foley will be wrestling on the PPV Sunday, according to How stupid was it for WWE to have viewers watching Raw think the exact opposite thing and thus kill any drawing power Foley might have? What good is it to have him wrestle if you don't promote it? This is also yet another injury angle that won't be taken seriously which takes the luster off the ones that are meant to be taken seriously (such as Orton injuring Michaels and RVD).

11:29 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I actually didn’t get much in the way of criticism for the report this week, which was a little surprising because there usually is backlash along the lines you describe, Dan. I’m not sure if I make anything of that, because I’ve gotten backlash when criticizing angles that I found worse than this one. As far as the mentality of some fans that defend everything WWE does, I’ve likened it in the past to battered spouse syndrome. They love wrestling and WWE and want to believe in it, yet they have been given so much nonsense in the past few years that they have come to accept and defend it even if they know it’s crap.

I’m totally with Kenny and Charlie that the McMahon angle overwhelmed everything else on the show. And that’s particularly problematic given there is a PPV Sunday. As far as what the company will do if Vince dies some time in the next few years following this, lord only knows.

I was amused by Carlito explaining who Sandman was as well. It was like exposition in a movie. “In case you don’t watch ECW…this guy is…”

I was fine with them killing off Vince. The problem is not that they killed off Vince. It’s that going forward they’re treating it really seriously as opposed to an over the top end to a zany character, and that Vince is now more of a focus than he was before. I was going under the crazy assumption that when you kill off a character, it means you’re fazing them out and moving on. Al Wilson didn’t get hour upon hour of focus after he died. And then there’s also the fact that Vince is going to continue to be a huge focus moving forward, and that decision was in large part made between last week and this week. And to suggest that Vengeance was a big focus of the show is just silly.

And why they did that angle with Foley if he’s still wrestling Sunday is beyond me. I thought the whole point was to put heat on Umaga for taking him out.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

Maybe they had Umaga destroy Foley so Orton could finish him off on Sunday.

I loved the finish of the main event, as well as Kennedy's promo.

The McMahon angle is silly and you know it's stupid when fans are BOOING MICK FOLEY for playing along.

3:11 PM  
Blogger D. Ling said...

Call me an apologist...

I'm not at all offended by the Vince angle. I actually want to see it play out before offering immediate evaluation of the angle. Does it suck so far? Sure. I don't want to see Stephanie back on TV as much as the next person, but I want to see where they're going with this angle -- they've placed far too much preparation for this to believe that they don't have a plan.

My non-wrestling watching friends are talking wrestling, asking questions, curious for the first time in a long time. I believe people are tuning in, instead of tuning out, good or bad or just to see where they're going to go with this.

Is the angle good or bad? Too early to tell but at least it's interesting, which is something I couldn't have said in a while.

I will let y'all bad mouth my opinion now.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why have police investigating when we have seen it a million times and nobody goes to jail...Im hearing rumors of a phantom of the opera type of thing!! OH GOD NOOOOOOOOOO.I agree that the people who are offended by this do seem to be picking their chices rather oddly..This offends u but two old women on hands and knees in lingerie barking like dogs by a fire hydrant doesnt?..Yes its stupid and dumb but welcome to pro wrestling..they did a 4.1 so I doubt its going anywhere for a while

9:50 PM  
Anonymous CF Kane said...

I'll agree that there does seem to be a bit of an exaggeration over the 'morality' of this angle when so many other things are just as bad--I think, if I'm reading Todd's opinions correctly and even my own, the concern over this stuff isn't even so much that they are once again playing up 'death' as a selling point, although I do believe that, with the rash of early deaths among wrestlers, it is a slippery slope, but the fact, as Patrick started off by writing, that the genie (McMahon family) will simply not get back in the bottle. People write here, and elsewhere, all the time about how they are tired of people like John Cena being 'overexposed'. But at least the man is the champion--his appearance on television serves a purpose, in particularly in making money for the company and providing a logical touchstone for any number of angles, most of which never seem to be utilized in order to further the endless, and wince-worthy, exploits of McMahons. I don't deny that Vince has proven to be a remarkably astute 'character' for his show when he is needed, but now, after the endless DX angle, followed by Trump, followed by the interminable pushing of Lashley, while the 'champion' is barely an afterthought in feuds with props like Khali, even a casual viewer can't help but wonder why so many people would tune in to watch a 'wrestling' program which seems only to focus on a 60 year-old man. I do not know where this angle is going and, more importantly, I have literally no interest at all in knowing--what I do know is that it has made it even easier for me just to tune out all together. Now, this can't be what they intended, is it?

6:35 AM  
Blogger Kenny_F1283 said...

To respond to anon,

I was not suggesting if Vince McMahon died then no one would no about it. Of course it would be covered by major mainstream media. My point was that when McMahon does pass on, he deserves the tributes and the respect he deserves for his contribution to the business. However, when you take all these tributes and use them as crude storytelling apparatus in angle, then he is denying the company to ever give him a fitting tribute show.

The point is that there has always been cleary dealienated techniques that were used to show respect to the deceased in the WWE. (At least since Owen Hart died.) If these are used and exploited now how are fans ever going to know the difference? How is the company ever going to give fitting tributes again?

As for Todd being a hypocrite, there is a big difference betwee a hokey limo explosion and the very real use of a ten bell salute for a man watching backstage.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Al Tyson said...

In the context of the storyline if Mr. McMahon was presumed dead there has been nothing to disrespect anyone who has passed away. Period.

If people disrespecting Vince and giving tongue-in-cheek perspectives on him equates to the tearful, heartfelt opinions expressed AFTER Owen Hart passed away I'd like to see that calculation.

You don't have to be a "WWE apologist" to see that people will use any avenue that they can to lash out at the WWE.

Who's Roderick Strong?

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Sonny said...

Raw Rating: 4.1

WWE: 1
Critics: 0

It's just like with gas prices....everyone bitches and moans yet everyone pumps their SUV's full

8:49 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

A 3.8 vs. a 4.1 doesn't make a damn bit of difference. It doesn't put a single penny in WWE coffers. The PPV Sunday on the other hand will, and let's just say I wouldn't be betting on a large number based on Monday's hype.

Roderick Strong is an ROH wrestler. Great in-ring performer, kind of vanilla as a personality.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Al Tyson said...

So with two great wrestling companies in this country that could be successful with support on a national level the discussion is based on what the WWE weekly television rating is. Cool.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

they've placed far too much preparation for this to believe that they don't have a plan.

This is the McMahon's we're talking about, I fully expect that they have no concrete plan.

10:08 PM  

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