Monday, March 31, 2008

Raw Report

Date: 03/31/08 from Orlando, FL.

The Big News: WWE devoted Raw to paying tribute to one of pro wrestling’s all time greatest performers.

Show Analysis:

The show began with a nice video package on Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels. Throughout the show they aired clips from Flair’s career. They also had a pre-packaged interview where Dusty Rhodes called Flair a national treasure.

John Cena and HHH’s music played, but neither came out. That was the setup for Randy Orton, who came out and asked if the people were expecting someone else. Orton said that going into Mania everyone was asking who would beat him, but he retained. He ran down all the guys he has beaten, and said that it is the Age of Orton. These sorts of promos are an excellent way to get over the prestige of both champion and championship.

JBL interrupted and said he deserves a title shot. JBL said his title reign was based on dominance, and Orton’s is based on luck. He asserted that at Mania he beat the toughest guy on the show at his own game. JBL said he should be the number one contender, and wants the torch back. At this point, Matt Hardy jumped Randy Orton from behind, setting up a later match.

The returning Cryme Tyme defeated Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. I’m glad Cryme Tyme got another shot, given it seemed they really wanted it and their firing may have been more the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back than anything else. With that said, they certainly didn’t look good here. The match didn’t build at all, and ended abruptly when JTG got a rollup in the midst of the rednecks getting heat on him.

Shawn Michaels came to the ring. He said he felt bad about the previous night, and got choked up. He said he had too much respect for Ric Flair to not bring his “A” game. He said retiring Flair is a burden he will have to carry the rest of his life. Or until Flair returns, anyway. Michaels left, and backstage Batista looked mad at him. Clearly they have something planned here. They should be careful not to make Michaels seem too pathetic.

Paul London and Brian Kendrick beat Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly. A piece of advice for aspiring pro wrestlers out there: if your partner turns on you one week, don’t team with him again. Even if you have temporary success, things are going to turn out poorly over the long haul. It may seem like a good idea, but seriously, don’t. Holly briefly worked over London with chops and a clothesline. London made the tag to Kendrick, but Rhodes quickly hit a bulldog on him. The match degenerated into a brawl, and Kendrick rolled up Rhodes for the pin.

Chris Jericho beat CM Punk. Jericho and Punk traded kicks and rollup attempts, and there were dueling chants for each man. Jericho missed a springboard drop kick and landed wrong on his face. He seemed concerned about losing a tooth, but appeared to be fine. Punk went after Jericho’s leg and hit a high knee. Punk followed with a GTS attempt, but Jericho escaped. Jericho went for the Walls but Punk escaped. Jericho then hit the code breaker for the pin. This was a good match. I would have protected Punk for at least a few weeks to retain any momentum he may have gained by winning Money in the Bank.

Big Show made his entrance. He congratulated Floyd Mayweather, plus his manager, handlers, bodyguards, chair and brass knuckles. He mentioned how Ric Flair put him over as a better big man than Andre the Giant. Show said nobody can take him one-on-one, which brought out Great Khali. Show was ready to fight, but Khali left. I must say I find this feud oddly compelling as the battle of the friendly giant and the mean giant. The wrestling, however, is likely to leave something to be desired.

Maria and Santino met backstage. Santino wanted to know if Maria got a rabies shot after being kissed by Snoopy the Dog. He then asked if they went out for dinner at Kibbles and Bits. Maria wanted Santino to call off their match. Santino ran down the WWE divas in general, and said they should be at home making pasta and babies. Maria slapped him. He yelled back at her in anger.

Randy Orton beat Matt Hardy. Hardy was aggressive early, brawling with Orton, sending him into the barricade, and hitting an elbow drop and neck breaker. Orton took over with a back breaker and Garvin stomp, but Hardy came back with a moonsault and side effect. Hardy went for the twist of fate, but Orton countered with a European uppercut. Hardy hit a neck breaker and went for the leg drop off the second rope, but Orton rolled to the outside. Hardy pursued, and hit the twist of fate on the floor. Hardy rolled Orton back into the ring, but Orton hit a sudden RKO for the pin. That was a nice finish.

Maria beat Santino. All the angry divas came down and attacked Santino together. Maria gave him a low blow and scored the pin.

Ric Flair came to the ring for the final segment. He said that the fans should rejoice, because he’s had the greatest wrestling career ever and he lost to a great wrestler and man. He said he loves the fans and the business and he is in a good place. There were “thank you Ric” chants. HHH came out, and said some people wanted to say thanks. Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, JJ Dillon, Barry Windham, Batista, Ricky Steamboat, Harley Race, Greg Valentine, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, John Cena and Flair’s family came to the ring. Finally, the rest of the roster joined them and they all led “thank you Ric” chants. Flair was sobbing uncontrollably.

Final Thoughts:

It’s always nice when you can embrace people you love or appreciate while they are still doing fine and are fully remembered. Ric Flair absolutely deserved the appreciation that WWE showed him for his tremendous contributions to the business.

5 Comments:

Anonymous mcory said...

A piece of advice for aspiring pro wrestlers out there: if your partner turns on you one week, don’t team with him again. Even if you have temporary success, things are going to turn out poorly over the long haul. It may seem like a good idea, but seriously, don’t.

Owen Hart and British Bulldog being the exception. What an incredible swerve that was.

5:32 AM  
Blogger sides said...

an excellent episode of raw...flair forever

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

It's always nice when you can embrace people you love or appreciate while they are still doing fine and are fully remembered.

Yep.

I was actually hoping they'd do a full-out, show-long tribute to him, similar to how they do the tributes after people die. It would be nice to see that for once when the wrestler in question is just retiring and can enjoy it themselves.

But I suppose economically that makes no sense, especially in the important post-WrestleMania show. Oh well. I'm sure we'll get a nice DVD set at some point anyway.

Too bad they couldn't cut a quick deal with TNA Wrestling and get Sting and a few others on the show. And the Rock, if he truly loves wrestling, should have been able to show up for half an hour or at least send in a video. Unless of course he thinks that Flair's retirement will be a sham (I'm apparently in the minority that thinks this is really it for him).

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Todd, any thoughts on Wrestlemania? What did you think of the matches itself and the overall event?

1:26 PM  
Anonymous J Patrick said...

Did anyone else notice the "You Can't Wrestle" chants pointed at Great Khali?

Maybe I'm too soft-hearted, but sometimes I feel sort of bad for the guy....he doesn't get booed, he gets groaned at....and it seems like he's at least trying.

2:33 PM  

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