Monday, April 07, 2008

Raw Report

Date: 04/07/08 from Albany, NY.

The Big News: The lineup for Backlash took shape, with Triple H vs. John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. JBL and Shawn Michaels vs. Batista as the top matches.

Show Analysis:

William Regal began the show by announcing a title match at Backlash featuring JBL vs. Randy Orton. He labeled JBL the most deserving #1 contender in history. HHH came out and criticized Regal’s choice. He said Orton didn’t beat anyone at Mania; he just took a cheap shot and got lucky. He also wanted to know how the Smackdown announcer became the top contender by slapping around a midget. Regal made HHH vs. JBL and Orton in a handicap match, and said HHH would be put in the title match if he won.

Umaga beat Val Venis. I’ve got to give it to Val. He always comes to the ring smiling and confident, in spite of his 300 bout losing streak on Raw. The man certainly believes in the power of positive thinking, and maybe it will work for him one of these years. Umaga won with a long nerve hold, running butt drop and Samoan spike.

Mickie James and Ashley beat Jillian Hall and Melina. The heels worked over Ashley and Mickie briefly, but Mickie scored the implant DDT on Melina for the pin. The match was predictably sloppy, with Ashley looking particularly awkward.

Brian Kendrick and Paul London beat Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. London hit a cool drop kick into a standing moonsault. Cade worked over London with an inverted atomic drop and head over heels clothesline. London got the tag to Kendrick, who came in with clotheslines and drop kicks. Cade came in and gave him a sit down power bomb, but he was still able to roll up Murdoch for the pin.

HHH beat JBL and Randy Orton. They brawled early. The heels took turns on HHH. JBL was setting up for the clothesline from hell, but Orton tagged himself in. JBL said he had HHH, but Orton came in and was given the pedigree for the pin. Regal announced a triple threat for the title, which brought out John Cena. Cena suggested a fatal four way, so Regal said Cena could get in if he beat JBL and HHH in a handicap match.

Santino Marella and Carlito Caribbean Cool beat Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly. Holly went for the Alabama slam on Santino, but Carlito broke it up with a DDT. The heels got the heat on Holly, who eventually tagged Cody. Cody came in with a drop toe hold and knee drop. He went for a superplex, but Santino pushed him off and hit a top rope head butt for the pin. That was a surprisingly clean finish. Hopefully they plan on adding some credibility to Santino.

Cryme Tyme did a backstage vignette plugging a WrestleMania clearance sale. It build to JTG playing with panties that he thought belonged to Kim Kardashian but were actually Mae Young’s. Elsewhere, JBL tried to talk to HHH but HHH had ear plugs on. An annoyed JBL stormed off.

Beth Phoenix beat Maria. Maria scored with some punches early, but Beth took over with a body slam, baseball slide and weird Boston crab into a back breaker. Maria responded with a crossbody off the second rope and a scorpion death drop. However, Beth hit a stun gun and the fisherwoman buster for the pin.

Batista and Shawn Michaels were the guests on the Highlight Reel. Michaels pointed out that Ric Flair challenged him to the match at Mania. Jericho asked Michaels if he was truly sorry about retiring Flair. Michaels said yes, but Batista interrupted and said that was bullshit. Michaels said he idolized Flair as a child, and that if Batista was such a great friend he could have talked Flair out of the match. Michaels asserted that Flair didn’t ask Batista for the match at Mania because Batista didn’t have the nerve.

Michaels said there is blood on his hands, and Mania was the hardest night of his career. Batista responded that he trusted Michaels to do the right thing, and he’ll never trust Michaels again. Michaels said he did do the right thing, and challenged Batista to do something about it. Batista smiled and said he already has. This was a really good segment, and they have done a hell of a job building a match out of the Flair retirement.

William Regal announced Shawn Michaels vs. Batista for Backlash backstage. Randy Orton complained about Regal’s treatment of him. Regal said Orton would have to take on all challengers, and said that next week in England it will be Orton vs. Regal.

John Cena beat HHH and JBL in the main event. Randy Orton was at ringside. JBL worked over Cena for most of the match, but wouldn’t tag HHH. Finally when Cena took over, HHH wouldn’t tag in. JBL became agitated, and fought with HHH. Orton tried to get in the middle and JBL accidentally punched him. Orton responded by giving JBL the RKO and Cena covered for the pin.

Final Thoughts:

This show was very light on star power, which made it come across as uneventful and dull. But as far as booking goes, the show was well put together. It wasn’t a bad show, just an unambitious one.

I had two observations coming out of the show. First, this show reminded me of that handicap match with Cena and Orton vs. “the Raw roster.” So many of the guys that were utterly buried in that match were now being relied upon to carry this show. The result is likely to be a weak rating, which suggests the company should be more careful about burying people unnecessarily.

Second, I like the fact that they set up the main event for Backlash over two weeks rather than one. I think storylines work better if they unfold over time, and two or three steps are to me better than one. They could have just had HHH, Cena, Orton and JBL come out last week at the beginning of the show to announce their title intentions and make a match. But that type of build makes the match feel artificial and just put together to sell a pay-per-view. When a story unfolds over a longer period of time, it feels like more of a natural culmination of a series of events. It’s a tactic I would use more often if I were them.


Anonymous Ben said...

While there was at least some setup to the main event at Backlash, it was incredibly predictable and pretty stupid. Except for Cena, they made everyone a dolt. Why would they turn on each other when the odds are better for each of them with the lowest amount of people involved? How dare I watch wrestling with logic in my mind! That is why I will never regret going to the two ROH shows over Wrestlemania.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous the masterbater said...

Just wanted to point out since Regal is a Raw GM how could he appoint a match that has a Smackdown wrestler? Isn't Batista supposed to be in Smackdown? Didn't he represent Smackdown just two weeks ago in Wrestlemania in the Raw vs. Smackdown match? Does Vicki Guerrero have anything to say about this? Another logic in mind. Another thing I wanted to point out is that how many times are we going to have 3-ways and 4-ways dealing with HHH battling for the title!!

6:03 AM  
Blogger DW said...

All great questions and observations, ben and masterbater. The only explanation for any of this is 1) the WWE creative people are untalented morons and 2) Triple H has vowed to make the WWE into the Triple H Show. He has backstage influence - a great deal of it I imagine - and he uses that to make himself the star of every event and every show. Even when he may lose, he stills makes sure he comes up smelling like a rose and others look foolish or get buried. It's a sad state of affairs that this pathetic man is contributing to the already untalented crew of nitwits that are running the place. I'm sure that most of the roster despises him - except for his toady, Shawn Michaels.

Thanks for your observations. We, as people who are looking for some logic and continuity in pro wrestling, will not find it in the WWE - at least not as long as the self proclaimed "King of Kings" is around.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous #1 HHH Hater said...

I think HHH is a joke! I mean he wanted us to see that he could defeat two guys at once and then when it was Cena's turn look at the all mighty HHH. They did it where Cena got help from Randy Orton to get the win (well sort of a help). Nevertheless, how does it look for YOUR WWE Champion and also the so called #1 contender lose to HHH fairly? No outside interference no anything? I really hate this guy. Yes he lost the last couple of Wrestlemania's but he is making everyone pay in the long run. To me at least

6:10 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

On Batista-Michaels, they did have Regal "get off the phone with Vickie Guerrero" to announce the match. I left that out of the report because it seemed unnecessary, but WWE did work to address that specific point.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

London hit a cool drop kick into a standing moonsault.

I'm surprised you phrase this like this, because London has been doing this spot for years, and for pretty much his entire tenure in WWE.

12:25 AM  

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