Date: 06/23/08 from San Antonio, TX.
The Big News: It was certainly an eventful edition of Raw.
Triple H beat Mark Henry in the opener. Henry hit a shoulder block, punches, a clothesline, and a corner splash. HHH responded with a face buster and high knee. He went for the pedigree but Henry got out and hit the power slam. HHH kicked out, Henry missed a big splash, and HHH hit the pedigree for the pin. This was a better match than I would have expected. It was an effective short match.
The winners of each match on the show earned a draft pick for their show, and following this match Rey Mysterio was drafted to Raw. He got a big reaction and shook hands with HHH. I think that’s probably a good move. Mysterio has been out so he doesn’t have a lot in the way of loose ends, and given he hasn’t been on Raw in a while there are a lot of fresh programs for him.
Next up Vince McMahon gave away money and it was quite the segment. Kelly Kelly was out there to dial the number for Vince, but Vince couldn’t even pull off asking for the password. The woman gave him the correct password, but he asked again. She gave him the correct password again, at which point he laughed and proclaimed her a loser for giving the wrong password. At this point someone informed Vince she had in fact given the right password, so he said she won. I don’t think Vince has ever come across as this much of a buffoon unintentionally in his entire public life.
Backstage, John Cena took issue with HHH attacking him last week. HHH said that Cena needs to stay out of his business. Cena responded that to be the man, HHH has got to beat the man. He presumably meant himself and not Ric Flair. HHH said that until Cena gets the belt from him he is nothing.
Finlay and Hornswoggle beat Santino and Carlito in what was basically a squash. Finlay kicked Santino and tagged in Hornswoggle for a stunner and splash. Finlay tagged back in and was clobbering Santino until Carlito tripped him. The heels briefly gained the advantage before Finlay nailed the Celtic cross and tagged in Hornswoggle for the frog splash and pin on Santino.
This led to Jeff Hardy being drafted to Smackdown. I have mixed feelings on this one. I feel like there was still a lot for him to do as a main event level performer on Raw. On the other hand, he can become more of a focus on Smackdown in a way that he wasn’t on Raw. Edge vs. Jeff doesn’t do much for me, though.
Randy Orton came out with his arm in a sling. He told Cena and HHH that when he gets back he will be WWE champion again. He was supposed to help give away money, but he said he didn’t feel like doing so. Vince himself announced Edge vs. John Cena as the main event. He then gave away money to someone who sadly didn’t appear to know his or her own name.
Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes beat Chavo Guerrero and Bam Neely. They mixed around the announcers throughout the evening, and Ted DiBiase did commentary for this match. Chavo used some punches to Cody and Bam choked Cody. Cody hit a dropkick on Chavo and tagged Holly. Holly went for the Alabama slam but Bam kicked him in the head. Chavo went for the pin, but Cody broke it up. The ring cleared and Holly hit the Alabama slam for the pin. CM Punk was drafted to Raw, a logical move to better showcase and push him.
Chris Jericho cut a promo where he said he continues to tell the truth and the people ostracize him for it. He said that Shawn Michaels will turn on the people just like he’s turned on everyone else. He added that Shawn is driven by ego but still he is cheered. Jericho said that he refuses to allow the fans to cheer him because he is honest and good hearted.
Jericho then introduced Lance Cade. Cade said that he was trained by Michaels, but he knew that when he made it big Michaels would turn on him. Cade said Jericho is someone he can trust. Jericho added that the worst is yet to come for Shawn Michaels. Michaels came out and attacked Jericho, but Jericho threw him into the announce table. Michaels sold his eye big.
John Morrison and the Miz beat Matt and Jeff Hardy. During this match Tazz said that with CM Punk going to Raw the rich are getting richer and basically said that he’d like to go to Raw himself. It was a hilarious admission of the obvious. Matt and Jeff combined for poetry in motion. Miz and Morrison took over on Jeff with a double team elbow and stomach breaker.
Jeff got the tag to Matt, who came in with a bulldog, elbow off the second rope and side effect. Jeff took out Miz with a pescado, and Matt hit a leg drop off the second rope. Matt had the pin but Miz distracted the referee. Morrison rolled up Matt and grabbed the tights for the pin. I liked that for once they had the regular team win over the team that hasn’t teamed in a while.
This led to Matt Hardy being drafted to ECW. I guess ECW needed someone with star power. Given Jeff was going to Smackdown, it is smart they moved Matt off the show. Matt and Jeff together to me kind of diminishes each of them, so I think they are better off apart.
Vince McMahon introduced Ric Flair to help give away money. This made no sense. Vince forced Flair to retire, then threw him out of the building last week, and now this week he invites Ric Flair to be a part of the show and is friendly with him. This was all a setup for Flair to say “whoo” after someone won the money.
Melina and Mickie James went to a double DQ with Natalya and Victoria in an announcers only draft match. Mike Adamle thought that Melina was Mickie James. Natalya hit a powerslam on Melina and Melina hit a Thesz press on Victoria. Victoria pushed Melina off the top rope to the floor and there was a big brawl on the floor that led to a double DQ. They announced that both Raw and Smackdown would get a pick. This was totally contrived. And they proceeded to draft Jim Ross to Smackdown and Michael Cole to Raw. The crowd booed. I’ve got a lot more to say on this nonsense below.
Great Khali helped Vince give away more money. Khali plugged Get Smart for comedy. They dialed someone who informed them they had the wrong number. Khali began belligerently yelling at the phone. They were more successful the second dial, but it would not be fair to say it went smoothly.
John Cena beat Edge via count out. The highlight of this match was a justifiably pissed off Jim Ross making it clear what he thought of this bullshit about him being moved to Smackdown. Mick Foley kept trying to pacify him, but he wasn’t having it. Foley noted he was hoping that if there was a switch he would go to Raw to join Ross.
Edge hit a kick to the head, forearms and a clothesline. Cena came back with the blockbuster, Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle. He went for the FU twice but Edge escaped and hit an implant DDT. Cena kicked out of a pin attempt and applied the STFU. Edge got to the ropes, but then ended up leaving for the count out. This wasn’t much but there was great crowd heat. Batista jumped Edge after the match, and then was drafted to Raw. That’s probably for the best as he had done all the major programs on Smackdown. Batista vs. Cena is a natural program.
MVP beat Tommy Dreamer in a short match. MVP used punches and a suplex. Dreamer came back with a bulldog, but MVP finished him with the Generico ole kick for the pin. This led to Umaga being drafted to Smackdown. Umaga came out and laid out Dreamer and Colin Delaney. Umaga moving to Smackdown was one of the most obvious moves of the draft, as it will freshen him up and give him a bunch of new programs including the obvious feud with Undertaker.
JBL beat Kofi Kingston. Kingston flew around with a flying forearm and leg drop, while JBL tried to ground him with stomps, punches and a cobra clutch. JBL hit a fall away slam, but Kingston landed a dropkick. Kingston missed a crossbody off the top and JBL finished him with the clothesline from hell.
Kane was drafted to Raw. The smart money in Vegas just came in on Big Show for Night of Champions. I don’t like the pick. To me, Kane works better as an attraction on the minor show. He doesn’t bring a lot of interest to major programs on a big show, so he’s more likely to flounder on Raw. Someone in the crowd in San Antonio won money.
Edge won a battle royal over John Cena, Kane, Batista, CM Punk, Triple H, Chavo Guerrero, Shelton Benjamin, the Miz, John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Big Show, Edge, Great Khali, Jeff Hardy and MVP to close the show. Everyone teamed to dump Great Khali at the beginning. They tried to do the same to Show, but he fought them off. Punk dumped Shelton and Batista threw out Morrison and Miz together.
Edge hit a series of spears. Show threw out Punk. Jeff eliminated Chavo. Matt dumped MVP. Jeff and Matt fought each other, with Jeff eliminating Matt. That was it for ECW, which is the jobber brand in case you hadn’t figured it out. Batista and Edge rammed heads together accidentally and Batista was busted open hardway. It kind of reminded me of Yves Edwards vs. Joe Stevenson with the blood everywhere on the top of the head.
Jeff missed the whisper in the wind and HHH sent him out. Show knocked out Batista, and then threw out Kane. Cena and HHH went after Show together. He used a double suplex on them, but they kept at it and got rid of him. Cena then eliminated HHH, and Edge eliminated Cena quickly to win the match.
Smackdown got two picks, and Mr. Kennedy and HHH are going to Smackdown. Kennedy to me I could go either way on. It feels like he hasn’t been on Raw all that long and that he was just getting his footing, but I think the move to Smackdown is pretty much a lateral move.
As for HHH, I don’t really know what to make of the move because it isn’t clear what they have planned yet. Given HHH has been on Raw for so long I think moving him to Smackdown is potentially a strong idea. I think a program with Edge could work well. But it would seem odd to me if Cena just beat HHH on Sunday and that was it for that program, so I think perhaps WWE has some plans that aren’t entirely evident yet.
Vince McMahon gave away $500,000 at the end of the show. Following that, the set fell near Vince and somehow this hurt Vince despite him clearly not being hit by anything. WWE is usually better about leaving with you the impression that the individual might have been hurt even if you know in your mind that they weren’t. Here, anyone watching the show could see with their own eyes that Vince wasn’t touched by anything. Vince was carried off on a stretcher anyway.
Okay, there’s a lot to say here. As a show, this was a very entertaining three hours that breezed by. There were a lot of noteworthy angles and a ton of tremendous unintentional comedy.
The biggest angle was the thing with Vince McMahon at the end of the show. I didn’t really like it. I’m of course fine with the end of the million dollar giveaway gimmick, but this angle reminded me too much of the stupid death of Vince McMahon angle. I don’t really care about a mystery over who injured Vince. Particularly considering anyone watching could clearly see he wasn’t hurt.
The bigger issue than the show itself was the draft, which is going to be important in shaping WWE’s direction in the coming months. The draft to me overall was a success. The moves for the most part made a lot of sense. Just about every guy I think has the potential to mean more in their new spot than they did in their old spot, and that’s a positive sign. The one minor wrestler change is I would have switched MVP to Raw rather than Kane. But for the most part WWE gets a big thumbs up.
I did say “for the most part.” And that leads me into my enormous issue with this show, which is the inexplicable moving of Jim Ross to Smackdown. It’s yet another example of Vince demonstrating he doesn’t much care about what his audience thinks or likes.
Jim Ross has been the voice of Raw for years and years. He’s a large part of why I enjoy tuning in to Raw every Monday night. Removing him from Raw creates a gigantic hole. It will make the show feel less familiar, and less fun given Ross is still easily the best announcer in wrestling.
I just don’t understand why you screw with your audience like this by taking away an enormously popular announcer who is an institution on your flagship show. It’s like an invitation for long term fans to tune out. Every time they have tried to remove Jim Ross it has led to a backlash. I’m not sure if Vince just wants to screw with Ross, but there is no upside whatsoever to this bullshit.
I’ve never in all my time of writing these reports advocated trying to influence the WWE, because I don’t think they have much of an interest in listening to their fans. But I do encourage Raw viewers to write to WWE and voice your displeasure with the removal of Ross. Maybe if enough people write them they will come to their senses and switch him back. Jim Ross is a huge part of Monday Night Raw, and removing him from the show with no good reason is an affront to longtime viewers of the product and to Ross himself.
A big part of why fans revolted so heavily on Black Saturday in ’84 was because Gordon Solie was no longer on their television sets. They knew Solie and liked Solie and associated him with the tradition of their version of pro wrestling, and it made them upset when he was no longer there.
24 years later we’ve got our version of the same thing, with the arbitrary and capricious removal of Ross. Tonight fans should be excited about the new programs on Raw and Smackdown, but I imagine I can’t be the only one left more pissed off than anything because they decided to screw with over a decade of announcing tradition for no good reason.
I want to close with a couple plugs. First, I recorded an audio segment with Alex Reimer late last week talking about the draft and other subjects. I think it’s an interesting listen so you can check that out at http://www.mysportsradio.com/
Second, I forgot to mention last week but I’ve started contributing to mmapayout.com. MMA Payout is a great site run by Adam Swift that focuses on the financial aspects of the MMA business, and I encourage everyone to check out the site regularly. I’ve already got a number of posts up there and there’s another big one coming up next week.