Monday, March 24, 2008

Raw Report

Date: 03/24/08 from Columbia, SC.

The Big News: The final Raw before WrestleMania is in the books. We have ourselves a bona fide main event, and it’s not necessarily the match you would expect.

Show Analysis:

John Cena came out to start the show. He cut that promo they love to script for him where he rattles off fifty things in a row in a cutesy manner to convey there’s a lot going on. He said he will leave WrestleMania as champion. Big Show came out and said he will end Floyd Mayweather’s boxing career, and that will replace Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant as the most remembered WrestleMania moment. He said people are split on John Cena’s match, but everyone including Mayweather’s family is pulling for Show. He actually got some boos for that.

JBL joined the proceedings, and said he made history by revealing Hornswoggle’s father. He added that he’s just getting started since his match at Mania has no rules. Cena joked about beating JBL at Mania. Randy Orton was next out, and said nobody thinks he’ll retain but he will. Umaga then came out and yelled in Samoan. It was played for comedy. Cena said he speaks Samoan, and apparently Umaga was making lame jokes about Orton.

HHH was the final star out, and he plugged his t-shirt. He then said there is one reason wrestlers lay it on the line, and that’s the title. He said Mania is at a building with no roof because Orton-Cena-HHH would blow the roof off. HHH said the King of Kings will go back on his throne. All the wrestlers started arguing, and William Regal made a no-DQ 8 man tag main event. The tone of this segment was all wrong for a go home show, and it felt really contrived as well. The only guy who had the right tone in selling a big pay-per-view was Triple H.

Carlito and MVP beat CM Punk and Chris Jericho. Jericho put MVP in the Walls early, but Carlito dumped Jericho to the outside and MVP worked him over. MVP missed the running yakuza kick, and Punk tagged in. Punk hit a high kick, power slam, knees from the clinch, a high knee and a bulldog on MVP. He missed a springboard clothesline. Jericho then went for an enzuigiri on MVP, but MVP ducked and Jericho nailed Punk in the fact. MVP covered for the pin. This was a nice finish to build towards Mania.

They ran an absolutely fantastic package on Ric Flair. It was so well put together, and I wish they were airing packages like this one every week.

Mr. Kennedy backstage predicted that Ric Flair will retire at Mania, Undertaker’s streak will end, and Mr. Kennedy will win Money in the Bank, cash it in, and become champion. They did a Big Show 24/7 segment where they showed him training and he gave his thoughts on the fight. Great Khali then pinned Hardcore Holly in a very brief match.

Next up was the indisputable highlight of the show. Ric Flair came out, and said that he was unhappy about last week because he doesn’t know if he would have beaten Vince McMahon. Flair was angry at Shawn Michaels for showing no confidence in him. He said he’s losing respect for Michaels. Michaels came out, and said he could never lose faith or confidence in Flair. He started talking about how Flair will always be a legend to him, but Flair told him to shut up.

Flair said he doesn’t need anyone to tell him who he is, because he’s feeling pretty good about himself. He took out the old NWA title, and said Michaels grew up watching him against the likes of Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk and Bruiser Brody. Flair said he picked Michaels because he wants to prove he can still be the Nature Boy. He added that he needs Michaels to bring out the best in him. Flair continued, and this was the money line, that he needs one more night at Mania to get him through the rest of his life.

Michaels told Flair that he’ll give him what he needs. Michaels then said that the family loved Old Yeller, but they had to take him out to the back and finish him. Michaels said he will put Flair out of his misery. Flair slapped Michaels and asked if Michaels was kidding him. Flair said, “I got your Old Yeller,” and slapped him again. A crazed Flair yelled at Michaels to take him out to the woodshed right then. Michaels said he will put Flair out of his misery, and left to boos.

This was an absolutely fantastic segment. This is how you cut a promo to sell a match. There was no comedy. Nobody was trying to be cute. You understood the motivations of both men very clearly. Ric Flair has a very specific goal, and it is genuinely extremely important to him. And you’ll have to order the show to see if he will achieve that goal. Ric Flair cut what is a rarity in pro wrestling these days: a genuine, honest-to-goodness money promo.

They ran a package on Floyd Mayweather. He said he’s smaller than Big Show, but he is mentally tougher, quicker, and packs a harder punch. He talked trash to and beat up a Big Show action figure, which was hilarious. They aired video of Show on Conan. I didn’t see the original segment, but it would seem they did a great editing job. The clip seemed like a serious segment talking about a real confrontation and it wasn’t played for comedy, when I would suspect the original segment was a lot of comedy.

Maria was to wrestle Melina, but Maria needed some backup since Candice is out of the WrestleMania match. Beth interfered, and who should make the save but Ashley. What a crappy choice to inject into the match. Mickie James is more attractive than Ashley. She’s more charismatic than Ashley. She’s much more over than Ashley. She’s a much better wrestler than Ashley. But sadly, Ashley got the spot.

Santino came out and Jerry Lawler did too, setting up a six person tag. Lawler worked on Santino with a back drop and drop kick. Maria and Melina came in, with Maria hitting the bronco buster on Melina. Beth gave Maria a sit down power bomb and tagged Santino. Maria slapped and chopped Santino, and Lawler added some punches. However, Beth and Melina took out Maria’s knees, and Santino pinned Maria for the win.

HHH confronted John Cena backstage. He said that Cena beat him at Mania, but HHH knows that Cena isn’t the better man. HHH said that if Cena gets in his way, he will mow Cena down. Cena responded that he is bringing home the title.

Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, HHH and John Cena beat Big Show, Randy Orton, Umaga and JBL in the main event. It was less a match and more an angle. Finlay came out and brawled to the back with JBL. Batista came out and brawled to the back with Umaga. Randy Orton kept yelling at Big Show for some reason so Show gave him a choke slam and left. HHH and Cena couldn’t agree on who would take out Orton, so they brawled to the back. Flair and Michaels then fought over it. Flair knocked Michaels out of the ring and got Orton to tap to the figure four. He celebrated to end the show. The ending was great, but the match felt too contrived.

Final Thoughts:

Wrestling is frequently just about getting you to want to see one match. This show really made me want to see Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels, so it has to be considered a significant success.

For MMA fans out there, I want to make mention of a live chat with Chuck Liddell at the Los Angeles Times website on Wednesday. You can get in on the action at from 2PM-3PM.


Anonymous THe Masterbater said...

Could you just imagine how great it would be to have Flair have a segment last week and the week before like that to promote his match in Wrestlemania. Why didn't they just do that?

5:58 AM  
Blogger brian said...

I thought the same thing but then I remembered the Chris Jericho return campaign, which seemed to fizzle out before he actually came back. The same thing might have happened here with fans getting sick of Flair. I think they might just have timed this one right.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian beat me to the punch here. I was about to say that while the promo was very strong, I think it would have lost it's luster if it was done 3 weeks in a row. The match has had a good build and yesterday's promo really showed Flair at his best setting up this Sunday's match.

Now the question is Ric Flair really wrestling his last match? Are they (or is he) ready to pull the plug?

10:38 AM  
Blogger DW said...

I agree with Todd that the entire opening sequence was totally contrived. But I absolutely disagree that "the only guy who had the right tone in selling a big pay-per-view was Triple H." Hello? If the entire opening was contrived, then Triple H is at fault, and mostly at fault for it because he had the most significant part of it. In my opinion, his portion was the most phony - it lacked any and all sincerity and was only there to make himself look like the "big shot," like anyone needs to see more of him give himself all the top spots on these shows. Too bad, he can't carry it off - if Cena had been given his lines, at least they would have been believable. Still a sad way to try and sell WM, but at least believable. Triple H = Total Failure.

The rest of the show was downhill from that point, right up until the equally contrived ending. Does anyone expect anything different from these shows? Some heat between the main contenders at the beginning, with Triple H looking like his crap don't stink - to the creation of a final match that pits heels against faces, where the heels lose, specifically, the champ Orton ends up looking like an idiot and Trips - again, folks! suprise! - looking like his crap still don't stink. This time they add the further degradation of Orton's character by having him tap to Flair?'s the big question. Did anyone expect anything different in the ending? Or from the entire show? I'll wager not. Totally predictable crap. You talk buy rates for WM? Dare I drone on to say that the weekly shows have to be good to even consider building interest in WM. If people hate them - and they should hate this crap - they won't tune in. If they don't tune in, they won't see the WM buildup. 2 +2..... It's not a difficult concept. But, as long as we have Trips having his way, things won't get better.

And as for last week's match, where Orton and Cena defeated the entire roster, if anyone's wondering why they came up with that concept - it's pretty simple. Mr Ego, Triple H. It gave Triple H a big finish - he pedigress the two men who just beat the entire roster. Surprise! Who cares what it does to demean the entire roster - it gives that selfish egomaniac another spot in the limelight. And while Todd is talking about demeaning the entire roster, how about considering the way Orton is demeaned on every show? Let's make sure we apply that criticism all around, shall we? As it stands now, who would believe that Orton is any competition at all at WM? They lost that battle a long time ago - now this is all about making the weekly shows and the PPVs into the Triple H Show. Suspense at WM? What a joke. Save your $50.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous steve khan said...

Wouldn't it have been great if Beth Phoenix slammed Jerry Lawler?

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She's too old for Jerry!

9:03 PM  

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