Monday, January 14, 2008

Raw Report

Date: 01/14/08 from Mobile, AL.

The Big News: Jeff Hardy took to the sky again, with an even more spectacular stunt than last week.

Show Analysis:

Jeff Hardy came out to a huge reaction. Jeff challenged Orton to come out. Orton said he would wrestle Jeff on Raw, provided Jeff put up his Intercontinental Title. Jeff agreed, and throughout the show they played up that Orton could be the third man to hold both the titles at once. Jeff said he would take the title at the Rumble and take out Orton on Raw. Well, that doesn’t make much sense.

Beth Phoenix, Melina and Jillian Hall beat Maria, Ashley and Mickie James. The heels worked over Maria, who tagged Mickie. Mickie cleaned house, and hit a Thesz press off the top on Beth. She followed with an enzuigiri. However, Beth caught Mickie with a botched stun gun and finished her with the fisherwoman buster. They have pushed Beth so strong that at this point it’s hard for any of the other women to be perceived as a threat. I say turn Victoria face. She’s one of the few women on the roster with the physical credibility to hang with Beth and a strong performer to boot.

William Regal told Vince McMahon that he would end Ric Flair’s career. They bashed the city of Mobile. Snitsky came in and told Vince that he wants to make an impact. Vince made Snitsky vs. HHH.

Shawn Michaels beat Trevor Murdoch to qualify for the Royal Rumble. Prior to the match, Michaels complained about having to qualify because he has won the Rumble twice. He said that it was unfair. Whoever scripted that should be fired, and maybe shot. In this week’s Restating the Obvious department: Main event faces don’t whine about having to earn something.

Michaels suggested his qualifier be against Kennedy Kennedy. Instead, Murdoch came out. Murdoch hit an inverted atomic drop and yakuza kick. Michaels came back with chops, a Thesz press, a flying forearm, an inverted atomic drop, a body slam and an elbow off the top. Michaels was setting up for sweet chin music. Murdoch fell down in anticipation, and Michaels fell down into an inverted figure four for the submission.

This was a clever finish, and I’m glad they went with a new submission for Michaels’ alternate finisher. With that said, why not just use a heel hook? That’s what you would actually use if you were dropping down and back like Michaels did, and it looks good. Kennedy appeared on the screen, and said that Michaels can’t handle the fact Kennedy beat him. Kennedy said they will wrestle next week, because he needs a warm-up for the Rumble. Michaels then gave Murdoch sweet chin music.

Vince and Hornswoggle spoke backstage. Vince said Hornswoggle has no experience in a Rumble match, so he would be in a mini-Rumble (well, Mini Rumble really) with some surprises. Vince said it isn’t likely that Hornswoggle will win the Rumble, and Hornswoggle agreed. Vince at that point grabbed Hornswoggle by the throat and yelled at him that he’s a McMahon and anything can happen. Someone call child protective services.

Snitsky beat HHH via DQ. Snitsky was on offense early. HHH came back with a DDT, face buster and spine buster. He went for the pedigree but was elevated to the floor. Snitsky rammed HHH into the steps, and tried to crush his skull between the steps. HHH hit Snitsky with a chair for the DQ. He then hit Snitsky with the sledge hammer and used the pedigree.

Vince appeared on the screen below the Titan Tron, and told HHH to calm down. HHH tore the screen with the sledge hammer, and explosions went off in areas he didn’t hit. He threw the sledge hammer into the screen and an explosion went off. This may have sounded like a good idea, but it ended up looking unbelievably lame and fake. Vince confronted HHH backstage, and said that HHH would be back in the Rumble if he wins next week. They didn’t say who HHH would be wrestling.

JBL came out, and once again a bunch of balloons dropped from the ceiling. He said that Chris Jericho wouldn’t be appearing. He then had a message for Jericho’s children. He told them that he’s bigger, badder and better than Jericho, and their daddy is a coward. He implored Jericho to tell his children that JBL is the better man. He said that if Jericho comes to the Rumble, the savior is going to need saving.

As JBL left, he kept raising his hands and massive amounts of fireworks went off. Seriously, with the amount of money they spent on fireworks in this segment they probably could have brought in KISS or Master P. As for JBL’s performance, it was simply phenomenal. JBL carries himself like a major star.

Next up was the Mini Rumble. The visibility was awful for this match, as all the JBL fireworks took their toll. Hornswoggle came out, and was joined by Mini Mr. Kennedy, Mini Mankind, Mini Batista and Mini Kane. Mini Mr. Kennedy couldn’t reach the microphone that dropped down, which was amusing. Mini Mankind was different from the original Antonio Pena version.

Hornswoggle eliminated them all. Great Khali’s music played and Jerry Lawler telegraphed the twist by proclaiming that Mini Great Khali was on the way. Of course, it was the full size Khali. Finlay made the save for Hornswoggle with the shillelagh. Finlay confronted Vince backstage. Vince said that he had nothing to do with Khali coming out there. Finlay grabbed him and called him a liar. Vince told Finlay to never put his hands on Vince again. Vince suggested Finlay take care of Khali on Smackdown.

Ric Flair beat William Regal in a quick match. Flair went after Regal’s leg. He sent it into the post, hit a chop block, and applied the figure four. Regal made it to the ropes. Regal rolled up Flair and grabbed the tights, but the referee caught him. Flair then rolled him Regal and grabbed the tights for three. This Flair storyline is going nowhere. I have no idea how they turn it around at this point.

Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy wasn’t a match so much as an angle. Orton jumped Jeff, and they brawled on the stage. Orton went for his kick to the head, but Jeff back dropped Orton off the stage. Jeff then climbed up scaffolding and hit the swanton from a ridiculous height. This was a really impressive spot, but too dangerous for my tastes, particularly given they did an incredible spot with Jeff just last week. Either way, the angle got over. Both men were carried off on stretchers. Jeff raised his hand as he was carried off, and the crowd chanted “Hardy.”

Final Thoughts:

Jeff’s feud with Randy Orton is starting to remind me of Mick Foley’s feud with the Rock in 1999. That wasn’t planned to be a big program, but rather a feud to last until Austin vs. Rock. However, that was the feud that finally put Foley over the top as a headliner. They have similar momentum with Jeff Hardy, whose push has taken off better than any new main event push in years.

As such, I think you put Jeff over at the Rumble. I know that wasn’t the original plan, and you can have Orton and Jeff trade the title if you really want Orton as champion at WrestleMania. But it would be a real shame to waste this opportunity with Jeff, and having him win the title would send the message to skeptical fans that Jeff should be taken seriously at that level. WWE has struggled to create new stars in recent years, so they need to take advantage of this opportunity.

One final note on Jeff Hardy. The success of this push once again goes to show that fans in 2008 react to talent more than physique. WWE pushed Bobby Lashley twice as hard for about four times as long last year, and it didn’t take at all. Jeff’s push is really working, because he has charisma and is an exciting performer. Vince McMahon still has the size fetish, but WWE would be in better shape if Vince were bringing in the wrestling industry’s best performers (read: the lighter weight stars of ROH and TNA) rather than muscleheads and gimmicks.

Have a good week. Be sure to check out the team UFC 80 preview at CBS Sportsline.


Anonymous #1 HHH Hater said...

So Todd, you really think that HHH is going to stand for this? He has his sight set on Wrestlemania and he can't possilby have Jeff Hardy ruin that. So I am pretty sure this will be a phase and HHH will probably pedigree Jeff and he will soon be forgotten.

7:45 AM  
Blogger sides said...

Jeff Hardy has always been entertaining but the last two weeks have gone a ways to proving Hardy can run in the main event scene. Hardy is a refreshing face in the title hunt...not to mention his spots the last two weeks have been unbelievable.

To not put the strap on Hardy at Royal Rumble would be a shame for sure.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mini Royal Rumble was hilarious. It even had a few laugh out loud moments (such as the microphone bit with "Mr. Kennedy") for me despite the fact that this is an often used angle with the use of midgets in an attempt at comedy. The king's comments were classic.

9:43 AM  
Blogger nevs999 said...

The "mini" Rumble hilarious? I'll have to take anonymous' word for it because I quickly FF'd through that segment like I do many on Monday nights.

I'm sorry to say I may have missed this item in the compelling drama that is WWE storytelling, but why can't or doesn't Hornswoggle talk? Does anyone know?

- Matt in Anchorage

11:07 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I wouldn't trust HHH to advocate what's best for the business. And given he wants to be in that top picture, I think he's probably an advocate of pushing Jeff to the side after the Rumble or shortly thereafter. Hopefully that won't come to be.

As for Hornswoggle, I'm pretty sure that midgets can't talk.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous DW said...

HHH will definitely be the winner at Wrestlemania - his selfish nepotism of this company ensures that will happen. But aren't we getting ahead of ourselves thinking that it's Jeff Hardy he'll pedigree at that event? I don't see them putting Hardy in that position because Orton will give HHH much more excitement as a heel, so I think it's Orton that will win the Rumble and (sadly) lose to Triple Flab at Wrestlemania.

Also, in response to another poster, Hardy has NOT proven he can "run the main event scene." One has to look beyond his ring skills to make that determination. There's far more to "running a main event scene" than jumping off ropes and scaffolding and doing Swantons. And when you look beyond that, you find that he can't act and he can't handle the skills of the microphone. His talents there are missing, so the only thing that has been proved is that Hardy is not the man to put in the champion position. You need a well rounded athlete-actor-personality. All we get with Hardy is some unusual ring moves. That's it. This week was proof of that when he couldn't hold his own with Orton on the mic; his delivery was devoid of any emotion - and the following week when he went into the crowd for the "handshakes of respect," the audience went dead. There's your proof right there that he isn't up to the task. Make a smart move WWE (what a joke!) and keep the belt off Jeff Hardy.

2:09 PM  

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