Monday, March 03, 2008

Raw Report

Date: 03/03/08 from Indianapolis, IN.

The Big News: The WrestleMania build isn’t working at all.

Show Analysis:

William Regal at the start of the show said that the next three weeks would feature “triple threat takeover,” where John Cena, HHH and Randy Orton would each be in control of Raw one week. Basically, one week each will get to pick the matches of the three.

Big Show beat Brandon Hill in a very silly exhibition. They billed it as a “mixed martial arts match” which could end via pinfall, submission or knockout. Maybe next week they’ll have a football game where you can score points via pinfall, field goal, or touchdown. Plus, Hill came out in boxing gloves and attire. So I’m not sure what exactly WWE creative thinks a mixed martial arts match is in 2008, but it apparently is vaguely reminiscent of New Japan 35 years ago.

Anyway, Big Show threw around this miniature boxer and finished with the choke slam. It felt like it was being played for comedy. Show and Floyd Mayweather got into an argument after the match. Show referred to the $20M figure that’s been floated around. Mayweather appearing on the screen said he would break Show’s jaw. Show press slammed the jobber over the top rope. This feud isn’t working at all.

Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels beat Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade. The rednecks worked over Michaels with an inverted atomic drop/yakuza kick combination. Michaels came back with a swinging neck breaker and enzuigiri on Cade and caught Murdoch coming off the top with a boot.

Michaels tagged Flair, who came in with chops and applied the figure four to Cade. Michaels gave Murdoch the inverted figure four and the faces got the submission win. After the match, Michaels said he doesn’t want to face Flair at Mania. He said it’s WrestleMania, he’s the show stopper, and Flair’s show would be stopped. This match and its aftermath worked well.

John Cena told William Regal that it would be HHH vs. Randy Orton in the main event. Regal said he couldn’t do this, because it was too big of a match. What exactly was Regal expecting? Cena also made a match between himself and Mr. Kennedy and told Regal to leave his own office.

They announced that next week will be a three-hour, three-brand WrestleMania Rewind Night, where every match will be a WrestleMania rematch. Given roster turnover and deaths, that would mean Jeff Hardy, Umaga, Mr. Kennedy, Finlay, Carlito, Santino, CM Punk, Big Daddy V, MVP, John Morrison, the Miz, Chavo Guerrero and many more can’t wrestle. Randy Orton will have to wrestle Undertaker or not wrestle (so HHH will probably be in charge), and JBL and Big Show can only wrestle Cena.

So basically, I don’t think they’ve thought this through, and at some point during the week they’ll figure it out and not deliver what they advertised. Which of course begs the question why they didn’t think about this and just say “a night of WrestleMania rematches” rather than “every match will be a WrestleMania rematch.”

Umaga beat Super Crazy in a hurry with the Samoan spike. The announcers read a statement from Batista where he vowed to beat Umaga at Mania and prove Smackdown’s supremacy.

Chris Jericho hosted the returning Highlight Reel with guest Jeff Hardy. They talked about Money in the Bank. Jericho said Hardy can whip out all the high spots in the world and it won’t matter because Jericho is winning. Hardy said he wasn’t going to take that, and added that he will win the match and become champion. Jericho said Hardy is no longer a friend but rather a target. Hardy agreed and gave him the twist of fate.

John Cena beat Mr. Kennedy. Kennedy worked over Cena, including a DDT to the apron. I always liked that spot. Kennedy sent Cena’s back into the apron. He worked on Cena’s neck. Cena came back with clotheslines, a top rope famouser and the STFU for the submission. They’re putting over the main eventers strong, and that is the smart way to go.

They had an unveiling of Maria’s Playboy cover. During this, they announced Snoop Dogg will be MC for the women’s match at WrestleMania. They also announced on their website that John Legend will sing America the Beautiful. When they went to unveil the cover, it had pictures over Maria’s face, boobs and non-existent bush. Santino came out and told Maria to get going with him. Maria said no, and they had an argument. Maria said she has already posed for Playboy, and she wants the world to see. Jerry Lawler laid out Santino with a punch. They then unveiled the real cover, which came down from the ceiling.

Carlito beat Cody Rhodes to qualify for the Money in the Bank match. Carlito went for the back stabber, but Cody escaped into a pinning attempt. Cody hit a crossbody off the second rope for two. They went for a series of pinning attempts. Cody hit a bulldog on Carlito, but Carlito kicked out. Cody went for a victory roll but Carlito avoided it and hit the back stabber for the pin. These two had a good little match, one of Cody’s best TV matches.

They did a weird video interview with Floyd Mayweather. The announcers kind of antagonized him by asking him questions about whether he’s scared and if it’s worth it to get hurt. Mayweather acted like a heel in response. This feud is turning into a disaster. They announced Mae Young is entering the Hall of Fame.

Finlay came out to the ring. Vince McMahon asked Finlay if it is true that Hornswoggle isn’t Vince’s child and that he is really Finlay’s son. Finlay admitted this. Boy, what a completely non-sensical storyline this has been. JBL then appeared on the screen in a hospital with Hornswoggle. They made a match between Finlay and JBL for Mania. JBL then turned out the lights and beat up a screaming Hornswoggle. Finlay and JBL could have a hell of a serious feud, but this angle is too silly to take seriously.

HHH and Randy Orton fought to a no contest. Cena was doing commentary, and he said that HHH is stronger physically, mentally and spiritually than him. That’s a hell of a line to feed your top face. Orton hit a back breaker and knee drops. HHH hit a spine buster, at which point Orton grabbed his title and went to leave. Cena tried to stop Orton. HHH knocked Orton into Cena. Cena attacked Orton and gave HHH the FU. Orton then gave Cena the RKO to conclude the show.

Final Thoughts:

This was not a good show, in terms of entertainment and particularly in terms of build. The booking has been pretty darn bad, and with three full weeks left, it is imperative that they have a strong show next week that gets people excited for Mania.

Here are some ideas to build the top Raw matches.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Triple H: We have seen a million title match three ways. Just having three stars fighting for the title isn’t enough to really get people excited. They need to strongly define the motivations of each man. Cena needs to re-emphasize that he came back early from a very serious injury because he needed to reclaim the title that means everything to him. Orton needs to emphasize that he has defeated everyone on the Raw roster, and by defeating both Cena and HHH in the same night he will establish his supremacy as the unbeatable champion and the best wrestler in the world. HHH needs to talk about his longtime dominance of the brand, and how he needs to regain that stature from a pair of wrestlers that want to leave his reign of dominance in the past. The stakes for all three need to be communicated and delineated.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Big Show: Mayweather just isn’t working as a face or even a tweener. They either need to do something big to get him over as a face, or they need to turn him full heel. I think the latter makes more sense as far as fan reaction goes, but Show is so much bigger that he’s the more natural heel. Other than that, this angle needs to be serious. This week’s segment with Show was too silly for a money angle. Next week they need something that makes this feel real and makes the crowd think that there might be some sort of legitimate physicality between the two. It should be something reminiscent of the first angle they did between Show and Mayweather. If they do an angle where Show gets heat on Mayweather, it needs to feel as real as possible. That means no choke slam or over the top wrestling moves. The most effective build might be Show throwing one punch and knocking Mayweather down.

Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels: In order to get over that Flair’s career is on the line and it is a big deal, they need to air packages on Flair’s career. WWE is capable of great video packages, and they need to whip out a package each of the next three weeks. At this point, this match may have the best drawing potential on the entire card, so a full 5-10 minute package each week wouldn’t be too extravagant. They need to show Flair wrestling Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Terry Funk, Big Van Vader and the like. They need to show him cutting promos. They need to really make fans nostalgic and make fans think that this will be their one last chance to see a great Ric Flair match.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) How did Mike Adamle get his job?
2) Of course Maywheather is gonna win but to do it they are gonna have to insult everyone's intelligence so bad its unreal
3) HE AIN'T MAKING 20 MILLION!!!!
4 Mae Young in hall of fame? Well she deserves it after selling her dignity
5) Cody Rhodes better be thanking God his daddy is a legend who has a job backstage

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they really want to continue a good build for Mayweather vs Big Show, since there is plans for the all wrestle mania rematch show next week.. They need to put Big Show in a contest vs the last legit fighter they had and we get

Big Show vs Akebono 2 the rematch we all needed!!!

Cody Rhodes in the ring looks like when me and my friends used to wrestle in high school at a flea market, and there was three or four guys at the shows who were "trained" by some guy who couldn't sniff being a jobber at a WCW Saturday Night show... Real slow basic moves with no physicality or performance to them... Just not good...

2:06 PM  
Blogger nevs999 said...

Forget about "Raw" - when does the new season of "Are You Smarter than a Snitsky?" begin?

That's quality television right there. Nice to have you back, Todd.

- Matt in Anchorage

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Cody Rhodes in the ring looks like when me and my friends used to wrestle in high school at a flea market"

Was that the same flea market that I said Kidman couldn't draw at,brother?

5:35 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Come on, Hulkster. You've got to mask yourself a little more.

7:55 PM  

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