Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 12/10/07 from Bridgeport, CT.

The Big News: Raw’s fifteenth anniversary show was a fun tribute to the show’s many past successes.

Show Analysis:

The show began with a mix of a number of different Raw opens. Throughout the show, they aired little Raw flashbacks with clips of different themes. There were themes like vehicles, slaps, kisses, celebrities and marriages. There was little in the way of matches, which was telling.

Vince, Shane and Stephanie McMahon came to the ring to start the show with a family portrait. Vince said Linda wouldn’t be there. Hornswoggle came out to a big reaction. Vince said they are all waiting for him to die so they can inherit his fortune. Vince said he loves Shane, Stephanie and kind of Hornswoggle. They were about to do the picture, but HHH came out.

HHH said it isn’t a secret, people are smart, and he feels like a part of the family. He said he could be Vince’s son and said hi to Stephanie. They clearly assumed everyone knows HHH and Stephanie are together, but the audience reaction suggested otherwise. HHH said that since this was a family portrait, he would bring out people Vince has made love with.

First out was Melina. Next was Sunny. It was nice to see Tammy Sytch. She is my all time favorite female performer in wrestling, dating back to Smoky Mountain. She is a tremendously talented woman. Third was Mae Young, who made out with Vince. Vince said they got together at Fabulous Moolah’s funeral after he had too much to drink. This disgusted Shane, who left.

HHH next brought out WWE employees who were mistaken for women and propositioned by Vince: Howard Finkel, Bastion Booger, Big Dick Johnson, Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson and Abe “Knuckleball Schwartz (the original M.V.P.). HHH joked that the Brooklyn Brawler must have been busy (since Schwartz and Brawler are the same guy).

Stephanie at this point said Vince has embarrassed the family enough, and she would embarrass him. She made out with HHH and left. HHH said he’d see Stephanie at home. Vince told off everyone and left. Hornswoggle was sad that Vince left, and HHH wondered if there was anyone would could make him feel better. Godfather came out and Hornswoggle danced with the ho’s.

Jeff Hardy beat Carlito in a strong ladder match. This appeared to be Carlito’s chance to get back in the good graces of WWE management. Carlito hit Jeff with the ladder. Jeff responded by dropkicking Carlito off the apron onto a ladder. Jeff was climbing the ladder, but Carlito springboarded off the apron onto the ladder. He then jumped over the top of the ladder with a sunset flip power bomb. That was an awesome spot.

Jeff missed a leg drop off the ladder, and Carlito went after Jeff’s leg. Jeff was selling huge, so he might have tweaked his ankle legitimately. Carlito dropped the ladder on Jeff’s leg, and slammed Jeff’s leg onto the ladder. Jeff came back by back dropping Carlito into the ladder and hitting the swanton. Carlito hit the back stabber on a ladder and climbed up to get the belt. Jeff knocked him off the apron and grabbed the belt for the win.

Shawn Michaels did a promo. He said that he was on the first Raw, but couldn’t remember his opponent because that was a dark time in his life. The opponent was Max Moon, for what it’s worth. He mocked the segment last week with Mr. Kennedy, and kept calling him Kennedy Kennedy like Kelly Kelly.

Michaels said that Kennedy would have a chance to prove himself against the real Marty Jannetty this week. Jannetty came in acting like a total geek ala the New Rockers, so evidently that was a little bit of punishment for the repeated no shows. Michaels was really funny here. He added his harder, more sarcastic edge that makes him significantly more entertaining.

Rob Van Dam beat Santino Marella. Santino said that he was sick of this nostalgia show. He said they should honor the future of the show, Santino Marella. He issued an open challenge, which was quickly accepted by RVD. It was nice to see him again, even if it’s a one shot. Hopefully he’ll take a date in PWG some time soon.

RVD went to do his finger pointing gimmick, but Santino attacked him. RVD kicked him in the head and immediately hit the five star. He then finished his finger pointing gimmick and scored the pin. This was the right finish for this show, but they desperately need to protect Santino more in the booking. It also would have been fun to see Santino interact with some bizarre characters from the past.

Next up was the reunion of Evolution. Ric Flair, Batista and Triple H were introduced separately, and were cool with each other. Randy Orton wouldn’t come to the ring. He said that he has passed by the other members of Evolution, and the last time he was with them they turned on him. HHH said they didn’t turn on him because he was the champion, but because he was a pain in the ass. Orton said he wants to be remembered as a part of Rated RKO. That brought out Edge, who said he will take Batista’s title. Ric Flair told Edge to shut up, and challenged Rated RKO to a six man tag. Orton accepted and said that Umaga would be their partner.

Batista, Ric Flair and Triple H beat Randy Orton, Edge and Umaga via DQ. This wasn’t much of a match. The heels worked over Flair. Flair tagged Batista, who came in with a clothesline for Orton. HHH and Batista hit simultaneous spine busters. Umaga attacked both of them and shoved the referee for a cheap DQ finish. Rated RKO left, leaving Umaga alone. Flair gave him a low blow, Batista hit a spear, and HHH hit the pedigree. They then played Evolution’s music.

Hornswoggle harassed Molly Holly and Mickie James backstage. William Regal announced that there would be a Hornswoggle-Great Khali rematch. He added that Finlay’s planet ticket to the show was cancelled. They’ve been teasing this for so long that I’m really anxious to see someone beat up Hornswoggle.

Hornswoggle vs. Great Khali didn’t get started. Khali got his hands on Hornswoggle, at which point Hulk Hogan’s music played. Hogan made the gesture that he would slam Khali, and the announcers talked about him slamming Andre. Khali went for the chop, but Hogan blocked it.

Khali came back with punches until Hogan hulked up. He knocked Khali down with punches. Hogan invited Khali back, but Khali was held back. So they are saving the slam for another time. Hogan said Hulkamania is alive and well. He congratulated WWE for 15 years of Raw. He said he misses the fans, loves the fans, and never say never. He plugged American Gladiators and posed with Hornswoggle.

They had a battle royal, with all sorts of characters from the past. The participants were Al Snow (with Head), Bart Gunn (in Smokin’ Gunns attire but with Brawl for All music), Doink the Clown, Repo Man, Steve Blackman (in really good shape), Pete Gas (Shane’s buddy, not mine), Bob Backlund, Gangrel, The Goon, Skinner, I.R.S., Flash Funk (with no entrance, a big mistake), Scotty 2 Hotty, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Sgt. Slaughter and Gillberg.

All the wrestlers grabbed Gillberg and dumped him first. From there, it was a contest to see who could get out of there the fastest. The ring emptied in a hurry, with a final four of Skinner, Scotty 2 Hotty, Sgt. Slaughter and I.R.S. Jim Ross labeled this a “bizarre final four.” “Indeed,” Kaientai would likely reply.

I.R.S. went to use his briefcase, but Scotty cut him off and hit the worm. Skinner promptly dumped Scott. Slaughter applied the cobra clutch to Skinner, and dumped him over the top. However, I.R.S. eliminated Slaughter to seemingly win the match. At that point, the Million Dollar Man’s music played. Ted DiBiase came down to the ring, and bribed I.R.S. with a fistful of cash. I.R.S. climbed over the top, and DiBiase was declared the winner. He said everybody has a price, and cackled. This was great fun and I loved the finish.

Eric Bischoff came out. He said that being there meant a lot to him and feigned being choked up. He then insulted the crowd, and said they are dependent on him for entertainment. He told the people to give him a big round of applause. He was interrupted by Chris Jericho, who told him to shut up.

Jericho brought up Bischoff firing him two years ago, but said that was a good thing because it allowed him to get back his passion. He said he will use that to win the title Sunday. Bischoff sarcastically wished him luck on that. He encouraged Jericho to forfeit his title shot. Jericho responded with a derogatory poem directed at Bischoff and punched him. Orton came in, but Jericho caught him in the Walls of Jericho and made him tap out.

Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes defeated Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch to win the tag titles. Dusty Rhodes did commentary, and sadly there were no references to clubbering or the mothership. The crowd was dead for this. The heels worked over Cody, who tagged Holly. Cade accidentally clotheslined Murdoch, and Cody knocked Cade out of the ring. Holly then hit the Alabama slam on Murdoch for the pin.

Jillian Hall came out to sing a song. Trish Stratus interrupted her, and said that Jillian’s music is really bad. Jillian said that Trish has the biggest ego in WWE history. That brought out Lita, who had a stare down with Trish. Jillian encouraged Lita to attack Trish, but Lita instead told Jillian to shut up. Jillian said nobody wanted to see these has-beens, and began singing again. Lita and Trish jumped her and sent her from the ring. Trish and Lita hugged. This was a fun segment.

They followed this with a brief backstage segment. Lita and Kane met backstage, and it was a very awkward moment. Kane asked if she had seen any good movies lately. Lita made a comment about the weather. In the midst of this, Ron Simmons made his cameo.

Mr. Kennedy beat Marty Jannetty. Kennedy worked over Marty, who came back with an enzuigiri. He hit a suplex and the rocker dropper. He went to the top, but Kennedy caught him and went for the Lambeau Leap. Marty got out and rolled up Kennedy for two. Kennedy then hit a reverse STO for the pin. Kennedy jumped Marty after the match. Shawn Michaels made the save, at which point Marty disappeared. Triple H came out and they posed as DX together. This was kind of a flat match.

Vince McMahon closed the show by announcing the greatest superstar in Raw history. It was of course Vince himself. Mankind came out and gave Mr. McMahon Mr. Socko. Undertaker was next, and gave Vince the choke slam. Then Steve Austin came out and gave Vince the stunner. He said the biggest stars on Raw are the fans. All the WWE stars came out to drink with Austin.

Final Thoughts:

I sometimes get e-mails asking why I continue to watch Raw when I have obvious frustrations with the product over the past few years. My response is that it has always been a part of my routine. I’ve watched Raw since the first episode, and was watching Prime Time Wrestling before that. I was 11 when Raw began, which means the show has been a weekly routine for over half my life. I’ve watched it in different states. I’ve watched it in different countries. I can’t imagine not watching it on Monday.

Saying that Raw is part of my routine is not to suggest that it is a chore. There is a reason why I have watched the show for so long, and why the show continues to draw millions of people even when creative is uninspired. Raw has had a lot of fun moments over the years: good angles, good matches, funny vignettes and compelling characters. Tonight’s show provided memories of many of those times, and it was a fun and nostalgic three hours. For a company that doesn’t pay a lot of attention to history, the show offered a lot of winks and nods to long time fans.

Raw over its fifteen years has been a tremendous success for WWE, and hopefully the years to come will produce similar success. I think there are some in WWE who feel that a portion of the current fan base doesn’t want to like the product, and finds reasons to reach negative conclusions. I think it’s the exact opposite. There is a large portion of the current fan base that really wants to like the product, and would like nothing better than to love Raw each week. That’s an attainable goal, and hopefully WWE can find a way to make it happen in the coming years.


Blogger Patrick said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was good to see Adam Pearce in the battle royale...

1:18 AM  
Anonymous mcory said...

Pop Quiz:

Which "Battle Royal" ex-superstar has the best chance of becoming a full time performer with the WWE. Choose one:

Al Snow, Bart Gunn , Doink the Clown, Repo Man, Steve Blackman , Pete Gas, Bob Backlund, Gangrel, The Goon, Skinner, I.R.S., Flash Funk, Scotty 2 Hotty, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Sgt. Slaughter,Gillberg

5:15 AM  
Blogger sides said...

had a real nice time watching the anniversary show last night ... getting older means getting more critical, but you could really see how much the superstars appreciate the fans and appreciate the business/raw's history. was a good way to spend three hours

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To paraphrase Dennis Green..Raw was what I thought it was..3 hours that really didnt make sense in a lot of ways,was kinda hokey and will been forgotten tomorrow but was mostly harmless..Of course in that respect it is no diff. then raw everyweek

Most people don't know HHH and Steph are together? And wrestling fans wonder where the stupid label come from

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand the Lita/Kane awkwardness skit. I don't remember them being in a storyline -- can anyone explain? Thanks.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Okay. Battle Royal performer with best chance of becoming full time performer. I would immediately knock it down to Blackman (because he came in shape suggesting he was looking to get a job), Funk (since they signed him recently) and Hotty (since he's an entertaining underneath guy). I guess if I had to pick I'd go with Hotty because he's been associated with the company for so long and it would do no harm to find a place for him.

I don't think fans unaware of Steph/Hunter are stupid. Just means they don't follow the business that closely. It's important to remember there is a large contingent of fans who don't check wrestling news on the internet, and sometimes that means you've got to keep it simpler and make things clear.

Lita and Kane were sort of together in storyline before she turned heel and joined Edge. At that point Edge and Kane had a feud with Lita on Edge's side. I seem to recall Lita making jokes about Kane's manhood among other angles at the time.

11:27 AM  
Blogger nevs999 said...

OK, a couple of thoughts the day after the anniversary special:

1) Todd was 11 when Raw premiered? Holy crap, I'm old. I was in college in 1993 :).

2) You know what the show really needed? More HHH-iness...I mean, where was he? Did I miss him?

3) Where was Kane's backstage skit with Hogan and Dwayne (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOxRfGqPNjI&feature=related)? Kaneanites, anyone?

I agree with Todd, our supreme master blogger, the show was harmless and fun - a reminder of what is good about the goofy biz that is pro wrestling.

Happy Holidays.

- Matt in Anchorage

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

"Lita and Kane were sort of together"? They had a months-long angle where Lita was pregnant with Kane's baby that was conceived when she had sex with Kane to get him to leave Matt Hardy alone. Initially she despised Kane for it, but then over time they turned into a regular couple. Then, in a match the Snitsky, Lita was accidentally knocked down and lost the baby (but it wasn't Snitsky's fault!). Lita was devastated, and Kane was by her side the whole time she grieved. She then of course turned on it and hooked up with Edge.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Oh yeah. Ha! I guess I've blocked the Lita memories out of my head between the Hardyz stuff and the pairing with Edge.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for filling me in on the Lita/Kane backstory, Todd and bob. I don't have cable, and pretty much have followed Raw through this report for I don't know how many years. Thanks for writing it, Todd.

1:58 PM  
Blogger jcj said...

I really didn't like this show.

And your opening comment pointed out exactly why I didn't like this show - when they put together their highlight clips to show what RAW has been over the past 15 years - what we got was light comedy. Endless light comedy.

I am really, really tired of wrestling comedy. Of wrestlers who are always winking at the camera, saying "hey, this isn't really happening, it's all just a show, look how funny I am making fun of this. I'm entertaining! Wheeee! I'm so entertaining!"

What we were missing were wrestling matches - athleticism, drama, any sense of wrestling as sport and any emotional pull any of the wrestlers might have.

With 3 hours of broadcast and 15 years of footage to choose from, was there a single second that felt like a sport...that felt like something you cared about?

There have been good matches on RAW. Good moments..."raw" moments, or as "raw" as scripted television can be - where you actually wanted something good (or bad) to happen to a wrestler.

RAW is all entertainment and very little sport. And that's the side of themselves they put forward last night.

WWE is telling us who they are; they want to be considered light entertainment, fairly mindless fluff.

It's discouraging. I'm discouraged.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Did anybody else notice that Hogan was clearly wearing a wig or hair extensions?

I actually didn't catch it on the first viewing, but I showed the part of him returning to my wife today, and she pointed it out. Once you notice it, it's pretty obvious. He had very plastic-looking hair sticking out of the back of his do rag, and he kept nervously adjusting his do rag to make sure nothing was sliding too far out of place.

While I enjoyed the show quite a bit, I see jcj's point that their selection of clips was very telling. There were very few dramatic title changes or anything of that sort, and a lot of comedy.

How ironic is it that Vince McMahon ends up being the guy who took over pro wrestling but he's basically embarrassed by the whole thing, trying to rename it "sports entertainment", trying to repackage it as a comedy/action/variety show, and desperately trying to succeed in outside ventures? So we end up with the frustrating product that we have today.

I actually had quiet the opposite reaction that Todd had. While I really enjoyed the show, it was the first time in a long time that really have, and it made me want to stop watching now that it can end on a high note.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


6:42 AM  

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