Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Raw Report

Date: 12/31/07 from Greensboro, NC.

The Big News: Ric Flair’s career will continue, thanks to William Regal of all people. That’s not a face turn, by the way.

Show Analysis:

Randy Orton began the show by talking about how 2007 was his year. Jeff Hardy came out and said that 2008 will belong to Jeff. He added that he has the momentum right now. Orton pointed out that he has cut off the momentum of plenty of people. Orton and Hardy got into each other’s faces, and Jeff hit the twist of fate.

I think this is about the time they should start planting the seeds for John Cena’s return. When Orton talks about how dominant he is, the announcers should occasionally get in a remark about how Orton never beat Cena for the title. A long build is a good thing, and those sorts of subtle remarks will pay dividends later.

They announced that next week from the Mohegan Sun will be Raw Roulette. Used sparingly, I think that’s a good gimmick. Matt and Jeff Hardy met backstage. Matt said he’s proud of Jeff, and that he hopes he will be back for the Royal Rumble. Matt suggested Jeff give him a title shot if Jeff wins. Jeff agreed.

Mr. Kennedy beat Shawn Michaels. Michaels went after Kennedy’s arm, then his knee. Kennedy speared Michaels out of the ring, hit a superplex, and went after the lower back. Michaels came back with a flying forearm, inverted atomic drops, and a body slam. Michaels missed the elbow off the top, and the two men went through a series of pinning attempts. Kennedy set up for the Lambeau Leap, but Michaels fought out. Michaels missed sweet chin music, and Kennedy hit a reverse STO for the clean pin. This was a good match.

HHH backstage said his match with Ric Flair caught him in a dilemma because losing isn’t an option. He said that at least Flair will lose to the best. Vince McMahon approached HHH and was excited about his idea. William Regal told HHH that if he loses, he won’t participate in the Royal Rumble. Vince also told Regal to prove himself in a match against Hornswoggle.

Umaga beat Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a Royal Rumble qualifying match with the Samoan spike. They played up Duggan winning the first Rumble. Again, this is the sort of little angle that would work better with a little bit of build. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just play Duggan winning the first Rumble and have him talk about wanting to win it again one week, and then have him lose the qualifier the next. That little bit of time where you tease it could happen will make it more meaningful when it doesn’t.

JBL made his return to Raw. This was very effective. Jerry Lawler in particular put this over huge, and they had balloons and fireworks. JBL said that he doesn’t have to be on Raw. JBL noted he is rich, but that he likes power and domination. He said that if he can’t buy it, he will take it. At that point Chris Jericho came in and brawled with JBL.

The real key to this segment was that JBL arrived with a purpose. WWE’s “draft” switches don’t have much of an impact, because the wrestlers are just pawns being randomly shifted around. In contrast, JBL arrived on Raw by his own choice, and with goals in mind. That makes his arrival feel much more important, and will give his character greater momentum.

Beth Phoenix retained the women’s title, winning a triple threat match over Mickie James and Melina. It was sloppy early, but picked up. They did the typical spots with two women working together and then turning on each other. Mickie and Melina threw Beth to the outside together, and knocked her off the apron with a double drop kick. Mickie then hit an implant DDT on Melina and went for the cover. Beth broke up the pin, threw Mickie out of the ring, gave Melina the fisherwoman buster, and scored the pin.

William Regal was set to have a match with Hornswoggle. It reminded me of Hong Man Choi vs. Fedor, but apparently Hornswoggle hasn’t been working on his arm bars. Regal manhandled Hornswoggle and was going to nail him, but he hesitated. Vince yelled at Regal to do it, and even gave him brass knuckles, but Regal let Hornswoggle go. Vince slapped Regal, and said Regal failed his test. Vince wanted to know what happened to Regal, and ordered him out of the ring.

Jeff Hardy and Santino Marella were set to have a match, but it went nowhere. Early in the match Jeff was going for the swanton, when Randy Orton appeared on the screen. Orton said he kicked Matt Hardy where his appendix used to be, and then Orton kicked Matt in the head. Jeff ran to the back. This was a good angle.

HHH spoke with Ric Flair backstage. HHH said he didn’t know how Flair would deal with HHH ending his career. Flair said it wasn’t a foregone conclusion. HHH said he will win in a matter of fact manner. Flair said he used to be like that, and that HHH has to beat him first. Flair said he would bring it. HHH concluded, “You be the man, and I’ll beat the man.”

Ric Flair beat HHH via DQ. Flair got the better of the wrestling early. They traded blows. HHH hit a face buster, neck breaker and spine buster, receiving boos in the process. HHH went for the pedigree, but Flair reversed into a back slide. Flair responded with a back suplex, chops, a butterfly suplex, and 2 chop blocks. He applied the figure four, but HHH got to the ropes. HHH hit the pedigree and went for the pin, at which point Regal hit Flair with the brass knuckles for the DQ.

I have mixed feelings on the finish. From a logical standpoint, it doesn’t make much sense. I strongly doubt that they can come up with an explanation that doesn’t feel contrived. It just felt like they didn’t want to provide a finish, and came up with this angle to get around it. Wrestling shouldn’t feel like that.

On the other hand, I think there is a hell of a story to be told with William Regal going soft over the years and going back to his roots wrestling at carnivals. I think that’s a fun and powerful story, and a feud with HHH could work great.

Final Thoughts:

This was another good show. Raw has been solid, which bodes well for the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. Happy new year!

8 Comments:

Anonymous CF Kane said...

I, too, thought it was a good show. I agree that I'm not 100% sold on the ending to the main event, as I'd guess that the Game would've been willing to put Flair over clean. I really can't see him not getting into the main at Mania, anyway, through some convoluted reason unless plans have changed, and if they have, who in the world would he fight? I suppose this will all be rectified before the Rumble. I also am not sure how this Flair thing is gonna go..it almost seems as though they've done this all in reverse. I mean, he's gone over Orton, Umaga and Hunter. It's all downhill, talent-wise and story-wise, from there. Who'll finally retire him? Hornswoggle? I agree with you, though, that if a feud between Hunter and Regal develops, that could be really good. I guess there's a plan afoot, best wait to see where it leads.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous CF Kane said...

I, too, thought it was a good show. I agree that I'm not 100% sold on the ending to the main event, as I'd guess that the Game would've been willing to put Flair over clean. I really can't see him not getting into the main at Mania, anyway, through some convoluted reason unless plans have changed, and if they have, who in the world would he fight? I suppose this will all be rectified before the Rumble. I also am not sure how this Flair thing is gonna go..it almost seems as though they've done this all in reverse. I mean, he's gone over Orton, Umaga and Hunter. It's all downhill, talent-wise and story-wise, from there. Who'll finally retire him? Hornswoggle? I agree with you, though, that if a feud between Hunter and Regal develops, that could be really good. I guess there's a plan afoot, best wait to see where it leads.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous cf kane said...

Hmm..I hit that button twice, I guess. I'd hate for you to think I considered my comments so valuable I wanted them read twice. I think a quick perusal should put paid to that lie.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Russ said...

Todd, with the commentators at Sherdog coming up with their 2007 year-end MMA picks, do you have any picks for Fight of the Year, Fighter of the Year, KO otY, Submission otY, etc..? I've missed the MMA commentary you used to provide on your blog from time to time. Have you deliberately toned-down the MMA analysis (or is it that the sport, being as big as it is and so much happening all the time, is best followed and discussed on MMA sites like mma.com's Underground Forum, etc?)

5:29 PM  
Anonymous russ said...

I meant mma.tv

5:33 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

There was no intentional decision to lessen MMA stuff here. I've just been kind of busy and haven't been able to post as much as I'd like in general. But I still do my writings for CBS Sportsline and I post regularly at the MMA Weekly Forum as well. As for year end awards, fighter of the year to me comes down to Anderson Silva, Randy Couture, Quinton Jackson and Urijah Faber. I lean Couture because of how remarkable and important his wins were in the sport. As for fight of the year, I go with Diaz vs. Gomi. Although Liddell vs. Silva is damn close if you're going with the whole year rather than through November. Atmosphere was unbelievable. You can't go wrong with tons of other fights though - there were some really good ones, particularly at lightweight. As for knockout and submission, I'd have to think about it. Loved Diaz and Aoki's gogoplatas. Gonzaga's knockout of Cro Cop was obviously pretty awesome. So those are my thoughts. I didn't vote in the Observer Awards this year. I'd probably have more thoughts if I took the time to go through and think about those.

9:26 PM  
Blogger HVM said...

I'm guessing Shawn Michaels gets to retire Flair at WrestleMania. They've been setting him up as one of his best friends, with all the pep talks and that awkward hug, plus, Michaels doesn't seem to have a WrestleMania program right now. But, do they turn him heel?

Houston

10:26 PM  
Anonymous russ said...

Great picks, Todd. Thanks for your post. I've been a fan of your blog & WO for a long time. Thanks for the good work & interesting analysis. I'll check out the MMA Weekly Forum.

5:33 AM  

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