Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Raw Report

Date: 06/23/08 from San Antonio, TX.

The Big News: It was certainly an eventful edition of Raw.

Show Analysis:

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.

Final Thoughts:

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Ross acting like a bitch during the show was way worse. So your swicthing shows, so is Trips and Jeff Hardy. You didn't see them on camera act like babies. Be a man, do what your told. Tell Vince all you want how you want to stay on RAW, but don't be such a bitch on camera. I expect way better from such a legend.

I personally would rather Cole and Lawler to be the SD team and JR/Foley to be RAW. But RAW is very stale right now, commentating included. He is not being fired or off our TV sets, just on another show. Life shall go on.

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O yah, I think Vince was suppose to be hit by the pillars falling, not the set busting. And if that is the case, there was no way to see if he was hurt or not.

1:11 AM  
Anonymous mean dean said...

I didn't get to see the show, I'm curious as to what exactly Ross had to say.

1:59 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

"Be a man, do what your told."

That's what being a man is? Huh. I never knew that.

Ross definitely seemed unhappy. So unhappy that I wonder if it's a storyline that will hopefully lead him coming back to Raw.

If not, I wouldn't expect him to stick around for too long. If he's unhappy enough publicly show that much displeasure knowing how Vince is likely to take it, then he apparently isn't interested in working on Smackdown.

"I think Vince was suppose to be hit by the pillars falling, not the set busting."

Yes, but you could clearly see him dash well under the stage, then the pillars landed on the edge of the stage, clearly not hitting him.

So was Melina really hurt? There seemed to be some real concern, but they kept showing replays from a distance and it played into the storyline perfectly, making me think it was part of the match.

By the way, how lame was it that when Ross got drafted to Smackdown Michael gave him his seat and stood there like an idiot waiting to be drafted to Raw?

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The draft lottery never makes sense to me in a logical way. Why do the wrestlers want to win? If theoretically, their goal is to be a champion, why would they want to "win" a draft pick for their squad? Wouldn't it be easier if their squad lost someone, thus making their path to glory easier? It would be like the Spurs winning a game, thus allowing someone in the Western Conference to acquire Lebron James. Then again, logical and WWE usually do not belong together. The Ross-Cole move was silly.

4:47 AM  
Anonymous CF Kane said...

I agree with you, Todd, the real ramifications of this draft night are going to be the Ross/Cole switch. I'd read that Ross had lobbied not to be moved, so this was obviously a power play by McMahon. I can really understand his disappointment. Ross always gives it an opening night feel, so Raw will really suffer for this.
Most of the picks were logical, I agree Kane is a waste, but he's a waste on whatever show you put him on. The HHH move did surprise me a great deal, but the impact of it was negated within a second by this ludicrous stunt at the end. Why bother? Just say you don't want to give any more money away. Nobody cared, anyway.
Anyway, my guess is that HHH will retain over Cena, Batista will beat Edge to bring that belt over to Raw, and they can start something new right away. Edge doesn't need the belt for Taker to get his 'revenge'. I'd guess that this means Raw is Cena and Orton's show now...aside from Batista, I don't think anybody they added is more than midcard fodder. I do think that Smackdown has really been improved, but I never watch the show anyway, so who'd know?

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, JR was being whiny last night.

I have tremendous respect for him and I don't think any less of him today but he's being terribly whiny about this. Let's put it all into perspective, eh? He's not dead - for that matter nobody has died. People say they want change and when Vince tries to make substantial change, it's resisted. Plus, it's not like there won't be a draft next year where if this flops, they can't change it back again. For a guy like JR who always claims to have perspective, he was annoying as hell about it. Suck it up. It's not like he's taking a pay cut or anything. If it's the worst thing that happens to him, he can consider himself lucky. Same can be said for all the people who are offended by the move.

1:08 PM  
Blogger DW said...

Bob, I think that anonymous' criticism of the Ross thing was the fact that he showed his displeasure on camera. That's inexcusable. He's a performer and should be acting as though his reassignment is a challenge, not appear personally offended or displeased. For me, Ross is a detriment to the show - his announcing is just the shenanigans of a shrill fishwife - it's a distraction and I'm glad he's gone to a show I never watch and will probably not be able to get on my cable service anyway. Same for EgoTrips - good riddance from Raw, although I'm sure the WWE has plans to make this selfish boor that star of three crossbrand shows. Whatever, for now, I can enjoy Raw without either Ross or EgoTrips.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

I don't want to drag this discussion into a non-wrestling area, but I must say I'm a bit surprised by the sentiment that it was "unprofessional" for JR to show that he didn't like the move, that he wasn't being a man, that he needs to put it in perspective ("nobody's dead"), etc.

That's all well and good if you know for a fact that this move has minimal impact on his life, that he hasn't expressed concerns about the move privately to Vince, and that he knew about this in advance. If all those are true, then, sure, he was being a big baby about it.

But it's equally possible that this has a major impact on his life (he has other things going on besides wrestling), that he asked Vince not to do this, or that he was surprised live on the air. If any of those are true, then I don't blame him for being upset. And if he privately asked Vince not to go this route, then he already did the honorable thing in trying to resolve the matter privately and is perfectly justified in complaining about it publicly if you ask me.

The other side of that is that if Vince doesn't like his complaining about it then he's free to fire Ross. But for all we know Ross doesn't care at this point. For me, a stance of "I told you privately I didn't want this move, I feel disrespected that you did it anyway, I'm not going to hide my feelings about it because of that, and you can fire me if you want to" is more "being a man" just silently putting up with anything.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I'm surprised as well by the backlash against JR here and also in some e-mails I received. It's so bizarre to me that I wonder if some of it is coming from the company itself. I really don't get it. Yeah, Ross was clearly upset by the move. But I think he had every right to be.

As for the Vince angle, you could clearly see the pillars land nowhere near him. Safety is of course the number one priority when you do a stunt, but it was weird to have a WWE injury stunt when you could so obviously see there was no contact.

Bryan said last night that the Melina injury was legit. I was thinking it wasn't. We'll see if she's back in the next week or two.

2:53 PM  
Blogger DW said...

Nothing changes in Ross' life. He travels to be part of Raw, he'll travel to be part of SmackDown. It's nonsense to suggest that Ross is "being a man" or is in any way justified in showing his displeasure on the air. He simply wants to be part of the #1 show, that's all. Again, his life doesn't change at all. He's showing he's just a pompous jerk.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't imagine JR didn't know about the move before the show. Is it possible he was just acting upset and that it was just a work?

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nevermind. Just read his blog.


8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That blog only helps my original point.

You didn't see Jeff Hardy or HHH show their true emotions (because lets be serious, HHH hates being on SD knowing Vince picks Cena over him to stay and be the #1 baby on raw). They did their job and played their part.

He is not fired, he is just on a slightly worse show in the same company. Its not like going from the top team on ABC to the second team for broadcasting the NBA. Both announce teams do all the PPV's and both have huge stars. Yes RAW is #1, but Taker is on SD, so it can't be that bad the companies minds.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

One difference between Ross and HHH or anyone else (besides the fact HHH was likely consulted in advance) was that Ross was moved specifically so Vince could get his jollies screwing with him and everyone knew it. It was intended as a slap in the face, as opposed to a good faith move to improve the shows.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Melina, I pretty much knew it was legit from the moment they rushed to the finish. Also in retrospect - when a face tag partner goes to help their team mate, the referee always shoes them back to their corner. This didn't happen when Mickie checked on Melina. That's why the finish was so screwy and Melina barely moved during the brawl.

On JR - and I say this without reading his blog I admit - he did need a fresh start and teaming him with Mick Foley is not a silly move. But yes it would have worked better if it was Mick and the King that swapped - not Cole and JR.

If they had to swap anyone, it should have been Grisham and Adamle! At least Grisham can call a match!

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have no clue if HHH was consulted and agreed. He could have throw the biggest hissy fit ever backstage, but Vince in the end picked Cena to stay over him as the #1 baby. I think thats an unfair assumption to make.

The bottom line is that every wrestler in the company is professional enough to take being traded off the #1 to the #2 and make the best out of it. Ross is not.

McMahon's motives are irrelevant, don't break kayfabe because your having a squabble with your superior. He came off as pathetic and immature. I have lost a great deal of respect for him.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

HHH explicitly vetoed being moved to Smackdown in the past. If you think his father in law and wife forced him to switch shows against his will you're being awfully naive.

If you think Ross was unprofessional, fine. But there IS a double standard when it comes to HHH and other power players in the company as a point of fact.

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other power players in the company are NOT married to the boss's daughter.

Big difference.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Paul Heyman:

"Personally, I don't think Vince McMahon moved JR to Smackdown for any other reason except it's the right thing to do for WWE business.

Smackdown better become a priority right now, because the MyNetwork TV deal is as important a business relationship as there can be in WWE at the moment. While success on MyNetwork TV has its benefits, failure would be a cataclysmic disaster for WWE.

How many licenses are paying premium dollar because WWE delivers both cable and broadcast penetration? The cancellation of the broadcast part of that equation would send a ripple effect through everything WWE does to the point where its potential effect on the stock is simply frightening.

So there's only one thing to do. Make sure Smackdown does not fail.

Move Jeff Hardy over. He's popular. Audiences like him. His appearances drive numbers. Move an established “No1 guy” like HHH over. It had to be HHH, Shawn Michaels, or John Cena.

By moving HHH off Raw, the McMahon Family demonstrates its own personal commitment to the brand.

Moving over JR shows not only the audience, but the network execs: "We're taking this as seriously as we can.

“We kept the hottest heel in the industry, Edge, on the show. We kept our own legendary icon, Undertaker, on the show. We've brought over Jeff Hardy and even brought over HHH. And we assigned the show to the best announcer in the game, too!"

The next time Vince McMahon wants to do something, he's not going to think about your feelings, my feelings, HHH's feelings, Stephanie's feelings or anyone else's feelings in regards to what he wants to do.

If he thinks it's going to increase his business, he's going to do it. Don't like it? Do watch it or be part of it. He's doing it anyway."

And Todd, I am sure HHH vetoed the move before and tried to do it again for that matter. But when the chips were down, he made sure on camera and too the marks that he never broke kayfabe. Thats what Ross did.

2:33 PM  

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