Monday, August 27, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 08/27/07 from Boston, MA.

The Big News: Randy Orton kicked John Cena’s father in the head in a great angle to end the show. Unfortunately, those 30 seconds weren’t enough to redeem the previous 2 hours and 5 minutes.

Conclusive Finishes: It’s back. 1 of 4. Boy, I shouldn’t have given them the benefit of the doubt on this one. This was the sort of show where matches felt like nothing more than backdrops for angles that ironically made matches feel less important. If WWE wants to ever reverse the negative trend on their pay-per-views, they have to make match results feel important. And having long matches end with weak run-ins or never get started just teaches fans that matches are just artificial devises to advance WWE’s storylines.

At UFC 74 Saturday, the entire arena was hanging on every moment of the Georges St. Pierre and Randy Couture fights. Not only did the crowd love these two men, but they desperately wanted to see them win. It created true drama throughout the fights, and intense interest in the simple result of a single fight. WWE knows how to create characters and fun shows, but they’ve lost that atmosphere where fans are hanging on the result of a match, and this type of booking makes it unlikely they’ll ever recapture that most basic building block of wrestling booking.

Show Analysis:

The show started with a video package on Randy Orton vs. John Cena. With Cena having retained the title for so long, this is a great time to really emphasize the importance of the title. Fans are more likely to buy it. Randy Orton came out. He said that he spent all day in church, because he witnessed a miracle when Cena retained his title. Orton said that he should be the champion, and that Cena should thank God he survived. He said that Cena won’t be lucky next time, and demanded a rematch.

John Cena came out. He greeted his father in the front row, which was angle alert time. Cena said that Orton couldn’t get the job done, and once again the champ is here. He said that Orton had his shot and lost, which meant that Orton moves down and others move up. Now that is a point they should make constantly to make pay-per-view matches feel important. Cena suggested he wrestle HHH instead. William Regal came out, and for no apparent reason made Cena vs. King Booker. Orton tried to attack Cena, but was sent out of the ring.

Jeff Hardy and Mr. Kennedy battled to a no contest. Jeff nailed Kennedy with punches and kicks, and followed with a baseball slide and pescado. Kennedy threw Jeff backwards over the top rope to the outside, and worked him over. Jeff came back with the whisper in the wind and a side Russian leg sweep. Jeff went for the swanton, but Kennedy got up his knees. What was building into a very good match then abruptly ended. Umaga then came out for no apparent reason. Kennedy left the ring, but Umaga laid out Jeff with a crescent kick, running butt drop and Samoan spike. Kennedy encouraged him to do this.

I hated this finish so much. It was one of those Nitro finishes where the match just trails off, as if match results are completely insignificant and wins and losses don’t matter. And now Umaga has turned twice in about a one month period. Yeah, Umaga is better as a heel. So why the fuck did you turn him in the first place? It’s not like all of the reasons for keeping Umaga a heel weren’t apparent a month ago. Turning people back and forth impulsively just makes it hard for fans to truly invest in faces and heels. This was such lazy, crappy, counterproductive booking.

Vince McMahon was Carlito’s guest in the Cabana. Prior to this, they said that Vince would be the most renowned guest ever in the Cabana. That’s a great message to send to your fans – the 62 year old owner is a bigger deal than your champion. Somehow I don’t think the NBA would give David Stern higher billing that LeBron James in marketing the league. Anyway, Carlito wished Vince a happy birthday, and Vince claimed to be 50. He said that he will sue the mother of the bastard son for emotional distress. He added that everyone answers to him.

That brought out HHH for some really crappy comedy. He said that he narrowed down the mother of Vince’s child to four women. There was a fat African-American woman who Vince thought was Aretha Franklin, a woman with an eye patch who had her eye poked out by Vince, Carlito’s “sister” and a cross-dresser. HHH then said that Vince was running an illegal rooster fighting ring, and tricked him into saying he loves cocks. Oh, the wit. Carlito spit apple in HHH’s face, so HHH laid him out. This segment died a horrible death, and the comedy was just horrendous. It was a completely and total waste of HHH’s Raw return, and they should leave this type of comedy for people lower on the card. Or better yet, leave it off the show altogether. Awful, awful segment.

Brian Kendrick, Paul London and Cody Rhodes beat Daivari, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. The heels worked over Kendrick, who tagged Cody. Cody pinned Daivari after a body slam, knee drop, powerslam, and crossbody off the top. This was good but too short. After the match, Daivari was angry. Cryme Tyme came out and stole and sold off his headdress. Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch came out, but Cryme Tyme stole Cade’s hat and sold it off.

Randy Orton demanded a title shot from Vince. Vince said he didn’t deserve it, and he would have to show he deserves it. If a “championship” actually signifies that you’re the best wrestler, wouldn’t one normally show that you deserve a shot by defeating other wrestlers?

Beth Phoenix vs. Maria ended before it started. Beth jumped Maria from behind and laid her out with a fisherman buster. Couldn’t she have just defeated Maria cleanly in a match? Candice backstage said she isn’t intimidated by Beth. Snitsky walked in and made some threatening remarks for no reason. William Regal then told Vince that his entire family will be on Raw next week with their attorneys to confront him.

John Cena beat King Booker via DQ. Cena applied the STFU early, but Booker got to the ropes. Booker hit a heel kick. Cena hit a clothesline. Then Randy Orton ran in out of the middle of nowhere for the DQ. They beat down Cena. Orton was going to kick Cena in the head, but he hesitated. He then grabbed Cena’s father out of the crowd and kicked him in the head. That was a good angle to end the show.

Final Thoughts:

This was the worst Raw since the Trump vs. Rosie debacle. Just a wretched, wretched show. The comedy flopped, the booking was horrendous, and the attempts to build to the next PPV were totally counterproductive. I hope the direction next week is much better.


Anonymous mean dean said...

I actually have a couple minor defenses for what I was able to see of the show.

I agree that the end of the Kennedy/Hardy match sucked, as I was thinking to myself part-way through it "this is a pretty darn good match." The thing with the Umaga turn though is that thankfully, WWE hasn't done much random quick-turning like Umaga's lately. I don't think it's that big a deal if it's done sparingly, and if it's done the way Umaga's just went down where it seems they went "fuck....turning him really wasn't a good idea, let's just turn him back." If they were doing that every month, then it'd be something to harp on.

Also, I didn't think the Cabana segment was awful, just not good. I actually chuckled a couple times simply because HHH was so good with his delivery. Unfortunately, that just magnifies the fact that his talents on the mic really shouldn't be wasted in that kind of segment.

And one side note...the bump Hardy took on the missed Swanton looked really sick for such a simple spot. Really nice.

12:31 AM  
Anonymous Eddie said...

Todd, would you agree that Hardy has been the most consistent guy on RAW this summer? It's unfortunate he got himself in trouble again, he was so over in my book, and they were actually pushing him hard too. He seemed like a legit star when he teamed with Lashley in the main event a few shows back.

1:28 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I was there live and you can see my report at or at F4W online. Here's a couple of other things that really struck me. They are getting some very young people at their shows. It seems as if I saw as many people in the under ten demographic as any other age group. I was particularly reminded of this during the HHH/Vince segment. Not only was that a poor segment but it was terribly inappropriate for young kids.

I was amazed at the heat for the Mickie James/Jillian Hall match. Hall got more heel heat than either Kennedy or Umaga (and not just for the song, either). Whereas the crowd died during the rest holds in the Hardy/Kennedy match. The rest holds in this bout were greeted by Let's go Mickie and Jillian sucks chants. And they had a fairly good match, too. I was genuinely and pleasantly surprised by this turn of events and I think they have a couple of sleepers on their hands here. So why are these two so over? I don't know for sure but I do know that Jillian and Mickie are the only two unique characters in the women's division. If you think about it, all the other faces (Maria, Candice, Torrie, etc.) act basically the same. Ditto for the heels (Melina, Victoria, Beth).

9:55 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I totally agree that if WWE were turning people constantly the Umaga thing would be worse, but there's no excuse for this. All the information was on the table as regards to Umaga a few weeks ago. They had to know turning a savage character is going to take time. I remember when they turned the Head Shrinkers face - it took them months to get over with the fans because of how they had been portrayed before the turn. And if you're going to turn him back, at least give a logical explanation for the whole thing. Umaga turned by attacking Carlito and Orton instead of Cena. So if you're going to turn him back, have a GM put him in a tag match and after a screwup with his partner, he viciously attacks the partner. Message - nobody should have trusted him. He was always the savage that attacks anyone. But here, there was no such story. He just decided to attack Hardy for the hell of it, and not Kennedy. I don't get his motivation at all, other than he was a "face" and now he's a "heel."

Totally agree on the Hardy swanton spot. That looked really impressive.

I don't know about Jeff as the most consistent guy during the summer, but he was certainly consistently excellent and was really getting over with the crowd. I think his push will continue assuming he's got his act together behind the scenes.

10:05 AM  
Blogger nevs999 said...

It's seems I have disappointing things to say after every week of Raw - and this week was no different. The show was and is awful.

I find Phil's comments about young kids interesting. I sat there more than once last night convinced I've outgrown WWE as an entertainment option, although it continues to drag me back in. As bad as the HHH "comedy" was, I kept thinking how much my junior high-aged nephews would probably like it.

Congrats, Vince. Junior-high kids pay cable bills and buy PPVs in many a household. You're doing a bang-up job with the product.

Does anyone have suggestions, AA-like groups that may set me free from WWE TV? I think I've had enough.

- Matt in Anchorage

10:54 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I think part of the James/Hall reaction may have been it was early in the show and the first stars to come out (Highlanders have been buried of late) usually get big reactions. But I think Mickie is a really good performer so that probably helped too.

WWE turning itself into a kids' show is not something I would think is a good thing, but it should be possible to attract both kids and adults.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous CF Kane said...

This was truly a dreadful show. I mostly tuned in to see how Hunter looked, and where they were going to go after pinning Orton clean at Summerslam. Well, Hunter 'looked' fine, but about midway through that 'comedy' spot with his father-in-law, I finally just said, 'You know, fuck this, I've got a life to live (in theory).' I'd hoped that they wouldn't just pick up the same tired DX bullshit again, but here they go, it's like Levesque never left. I couldn't even be bothered to watch the second half of the show, so I apparently missed the only 30 seconds worth seeing. I'm still not sure where they plan to go after Cena beats Orton again on the next PPV...Kennedy looks like a mediocre midcarder, HHH is being saved for 'Mania...who's next? Dare I say...Snitsky? Wow. Really, really fucking bad. Zero interest.
I would say, however, that I didn't mind Umanga (Regal spelling) turning on Hardy...I was actually surprised at the relative continuity of that, and was utterly baffled as to why Lawler was saying he 'didn't know why' it happened. If I can remember that Umaga and Hardy had unfinished business, and I don't care about any of this, wouldn't other fans remember it as well? Sell your goddam product like professionals, for chrissakes, not just like it's all being made up as it goes along.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To my way of thinking, the game shows, the Maria / Ron Simmons date, and Cabana with Triple H reviewing McMahon's love life are all pretty much the same type of garbage. All of it seems like they're desperate to show they're not just a wrestling show and that they can do "entertainment" as good as anyone else. Yes, this week's "entertainment" segment was stupider than the others, but it's a difference in degree, not kind.

Yes, pro wrestling is just entertainment, we get it, but that doesn't mean it can't be gripping and make people care. There are a whole slew of entertainment shows that are just as fake as pro wrestling, and yet people find them incredibly compelling. I personally enjoy Sci-Fi's new Battlestar Galactica series and am very emotionally invested in the fates of the characters on that show.

If Battlestar Galactica developed an insecurity complex and started doing goofball comedy segments (as opposed to occasional comedy that fits in with the show) to demonstrate that they were more than just a sci-fi show, I would find it every bit as atrocious; it just wouldn't fit.

I just wish the WWE would realize they are a pro wrestling company and strive to put out the best pro wrestling product they could. No, not just straight matches. Angles have always been a part of pro wrestling, and when done right they can really make the product. But making the elderly owner the focus of the storylines? Stroking his ego by constantly writing the script so most wrestlers cower before him?

Is it really so hard to create credible champions that people really want to see victorious/beaten very badly? Is is really so hard to build up a rivalry between two guys that has the fans dying to see who comes out on top?

Maybe I should sign up for nevs999's recovery group. Or just order a bunch of ROH DVDs.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, has anybody seen the ratings for this week or heard why they were delayed? I'm wondering if they ended up being as atrocious as they deserved to be...

9:25 PM  
Anonymous BOFF said...

If they wanted to get Umaga over as a face, all they had to do was get him back together with Mr. Estrrrrrrrrrrada, who is being completely wasted as the GM for a terrible ECW product.

What do you think of that Todd? Estrada is one of the most entertaining guys they have. Why have they neutered him so badly?

7:09 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

As a general proposition, it isn't that hard to build behind strong main eventers. But the problem is they've been doing the soap and McMahon centered stuff for so long that they just view the show as being that way even when it doesn't have to be, and they've made Vince the focus for so long that they've taught their fans to tune in when he's on moreso than a lot of other characters. So it is more difficult now to uproot that.

I haven't heard the Raw rating yet. Don't know what the deal is with that.

I totally agree on Armando. The problem is they really like this "GM" character, because it allows them to use themselves as the focal point of the show rather than as background. To me, non-wrestlers should be primarily managers, as it's more effective in building the wrestlers than these GMs. I think WWE probably thinks making Armando GM is an upgrade for him, but I'm with you. He's much better off as a manager for a heel.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, WWE's screwed now that their top guys are all suspended for violating the--snicker--"Wellness Policy."

I can't wait until Vince goes before Congress. It will be delicious, watching Vince try to pull the Mr. McMahon character on men and women that are more powerful than he is.

--Denis Gorman

10:11 AM  

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