Monday, September 29, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 09/29/08 from Minneapolis, MN.

The Big News: The world is crumbling around us, but it was business as usual on Raw.

Show Analysis:

Batista beat Santino Marella. Santino brought back the Honk-a-Meter and then a graphic asserting he has more brain cells than Batista. He threatened to leave Batista in worse shape than the American economy. Batista just destroyed him with clotheslines, shoulder blocks, a spine buster and the Batista bomb. If Santino aspires to be Honky Tonk Man and Batista aspires to be the Ultimate Warrior, this was definitely SummerSlam 1988. JBL attacked Batista with a clothesline from hell after the match.

Shawn Michaels was interviewed backstage. He said that he knew Lance Cade would be good, but didn’t expect him to show it at Shawn’s expense. He said that won’t happen again, and added that Chris Jericho has six days left as champion. Shawn Michaels then teased that his mystery partner for the end of the show would be Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin or Bret Hart. It’s always nice to set people up for disappointment. Hogan shockingly got absolutely no reaction. Shawn said he wanted a partner who likes him.

The Miz beat JTG. JTG hit a leapfrog into a rocker dropper and a modified neck breaker on Miz. John Morrison got up on the apron, but Shad quickly knocked him off. Still, that distracted JTG and Miz hit the reality check (a knee lift into a neck breaker) for the pin. The finish made JTG look like an idiot.

Backstage, Jamie Noble asked Jillian Hall to be his partner but she said no. Dolph Ziggler came in to introduce himself so they could say his name three times in an effort to antagonize me.

Jamie Noble and Mickie James beat Paul and Katie Lea Burchill. Noble teased that he would have no partner, and was excited when Mickie joined him. William Regal and Layla watched from the stage. Paul tripped Mickie as she was coming off the ropes, and the heels worked over Mickie. Mickie tagged Noble, who came in with a belly to back suplex, missile drop kick, northern lights suplex and arm bar on Paul the Pirate for the tap. Noble is great when they give him the chance to shine.

Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase and Manu went to speak with Kane in his specially red and black lit corner. Cody suggested that since Kane’s father is Paul Bearer, that makes him a second generation superstar too. That was funny. They wanted unity, but Kane told them to stay out of the way.

Lance Cade came out to brag about beating Shawn Michaels. He said that in a few months he learned more from Jericho than he did in years from Michaels. He said Jericho is a better influence and a better wrestler and he’ll keep his title Sunday.

Kane, Manu, Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes beat Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio, Evan Bourne and CM Punk. Rey back dropped Bourne into a somersault plancha onto Manu. Punk and Kofi hit stereo topes on DiBiase and Rhodes, and Rey hit a senton onto Kane on the floor. The heels worked over Bourne, who got the tag to Punk. Punk came in with a springboard clothesline and high knee, but was cut off with a chop block.

They worked over Punk’s leg, but he eventually got the tag to Kofi. Kofi hit a frog crossbody off the top, the side Ghanan leg sweep, and a high double leg drop on Cody. Kane got the tag and went for the choke slam, but Rey dropkicked him in the back. That was only a brief interruption, as Kane caught Kofi for the choke slam and pin moments later. This was a fun match.

Mike Adamle came to the ring, and said that because Kane won the previous match, Rey’s mask will be on the line Sunday. Okay, this is officially Rey vs. Kevin Nash all over again now. I wonder what classic feud they will recreate next. Randy Orton came out and mocked Adamle for being Shane McMahon’s lackey. He said that when he’s healthy he’ll own the show again and Adamle will need him more than he will need Shane.

JBL joined them and said he was in a bad mood because he’s lost tons of money. He said that he will be the number one contender after Sunday and Orton is living in the past. JBL said he won’t be giving Orton a title shot when Orton returns. Batista then appeared and speared JBL. He added that JBL’s week will get worse Sunday.

Santino was talking on the phone with a woman, but he saw Beth and then claimed he was talking to Frankie, a sick kid. Beth told Santino not to come out for her match, because she didn’t want him screwing things up for her. Santino retorted that thankfully they don’t have a Fabulous Moolah meter, because she’s down 22 years. That was cute.

Beth Phoenix and Jillian Hall beat Kelly Kelly and Candice Michelle. Jillian dropped Candice on her face, and they briefly worked over Candice. Candice tagged Kelly, who came in with a whirly bird on Beth. Beth caught her with the glam slam for the pin.

Great Charli beat Deuce. This was Charlie Haas doing Great Khali’s mannerisms and yelling out belligerently to comedic effect. Inexplicably, Ranjin Singh came out with Charli and laughed along as Charli mocked his wrestler. Charli hit a chop, but Deuce stopped the tree slam. Charli took off his wig and used punches, kicks and a clothesline off the top for the pin. After the match, Great Khali laid him out with a chop.

Shawn Michaels and HHH beat Chris Jericho and Lance Cade via DQ. Despite HHH being terribly predictable as the partner, Michael Cole was shocked by this development. He was in baffled amazement, like it was Bruno Sammartino who would be teaming with Michaels. Cole then labeled Michaels the inventor of the ladder match. Somewhere Bret Hart rolled over in his grave.

The heels worked over Shawn, who eventually tagged in Hunter. Hunter hit a face buster and spine buster on Cade, but Jericho gave HHH the code breaker. Cade and Jericho double teamed Michaels for a lame DQ. Cade brought in a ladder after the match but Hunter evened things up with the sledge hammer. Cade received sweet chin music and the pedigree at the end of the show.

Final Thoughts:
This show didn’t do anything for me. It was okay and I usually like the go home shows, but I was mostly just bored by this edition of Raw. It felt like everyone was running in place and there wasn’t much in the way of progression towards the pay-per-view. Putting Michaels and Jericho together in a tag team main event like any other wrestlers to me diminished interest in their match Sunday.

I was on Alex Reimer’s podcast Thursday talking the current wrestling scene, and you can listen to that here:

I’ll also be on Fight Network Radio tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3PM Eastern/12PM Pacific, and you can listen to that here:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 09/22/08 from Cincinnati, OH.

The Big News: Chris Jericho is awesome.

Show Analysis:

Chris Jericho came out to start the show. He got incredible heat, to the point he could barely hide his satisfaction about it. He said that Shawn Michaels is trying to re-write history. He tricked Mike Adamle into a ladder title match and tricked the fans into thinking he revolutionized the ladder match.

Jericho said that you can’t trust Michaels, but you can trust Jericho because Jericho is an honest man, a good man, and he always tells the truth. Jericho said that he has won three different titles in ladder matches and won more high profile ladder matches than Michaels. Jericho noted that Michaels scarred up his back but he still walked out champion because he’s better than Michaels. He added that he will finish off Michaels at No Mercy.

Randy Orton came out, complete with tons of new tattoos on his arms. I like how he keeps appearing before he is fully healed. It teases his in-ring return and makes people want to see it. Orton noted that if he didn’t kick Punk Jericho wouldn’t be champion. Orton again said he would beat whoever wins at No Mercy for the title.

Jericho said that Orton talks trash that he can’t back up. He labeled Orton a dreamer and a big mouth. He then threatened to attack Orton, but Orton said he had an agreement with Mike Adamle. He couldn’t touch anyone and nobody could touch him or they would be suspended. Jericho wished Orton luck and left.

This led to a furious CM Punk charging out. I’m glad that he’s angry about being screwed out of the title, but this anger was kind of undermined by the fact he was smiling when he came out to the ring last week. Punk went eye to eye with Orton, and then attacked Orton. Adamle then came down to punish Punk, but he was cut off by Shane McMahon. Shane said he would usually respect Adamle’s edict, but not on this night. Shane never really explained why, which to me was a glaring logic hole.

After overruling Punk’s suspension, Shane announced Punk vs. Cody Rhodes and a main event of JBL and Jericho vs. Batista and Shawn Michaels. They panned to the crowd where there was a guy who seemed so unbelievably excited that he was going to get to see this random tag match. I’m not sure why, but it was great nonetheless. This was a fun opening segment.

CM Punk beat Cody Rhodes. Punk hit some kicks early. Rhodes used a crossbody but Punk rolled through. They traded punches, and Punk applied an ankle lock. Punk hit a spinning back fist, hard kicks, knee lift, high knee and go 2 sleep. This was a good intense performance by Punk. After the match Manu and Ted DiBiase attacked but Kofi Kingston made the save.

Backstage, Adamle was embarrassed about being overruled. Shane said that he’s doing a great job but sometimes you’ve got to step on some shoes to accomplish what you want. Kane entered the room and derisively sneered at Shane. It was a nice touch to acknowledge the old feud. Kane wanted Rey Mysterio, and Adamle made the match for No Mercy.

Beth Phoenix confronted Kelly Kelly backstage. Santino had a nose guard to sell an injury from Batista last week. Okay, so it was really just so Santino would look silly. Beth accused Kelly of laughing at Santino and vowed revenge. Santino began mocking Batista when Batista came up from behind. Santino shrieked like a girl and hid behind Beth. Beth said that if Batista screws with them Santino will beat him up.

Santino Marella beat Deuce. Santino brought back the Honk-a-Meter, and he is now 59 weeks away from besting the Honky Tonk Man. Deuce got no reaction, and this was generally a pretty hot crowd. Deuce went after Santino’s nose with punches, but Santino rolled him up for the pin.

Kane beat Evan Bourne. Bourne hit a front kick, enzuigiri, low dropkick, kicks and moonsault to the floor. Kane retaliated with a tilt-a-whirl back breaker and Oklahoma stampede of all moves. He then won with the choke slam. Afterwards Rey tried to make the save but Kane gave him a big boot and choke slam. I was worried when I read about this match but they gave Bourne a lot of offense so as to not bury him.

Jamie Noble asked Shane McMahon for another match with William Regal. Randy Orton arrived and Shane kind of blew off Noble. Orton wasn’t pleased with Shane’s decision. Shane said he respects Orton, but that Orton is getting off easy after what he did to Punk. Orton threatened Shane with trouble.

Kelly Kelly beat Beth Phoenix. Beth nailed some punches early and a power bomb into the corner. Kelly hit a springboard crossbody. As Kelly was coming off the ropes, Santino tripped her. Beth went to attack Kelly but nearly hit Santino and Kelly rolled up Beth for the pin. After the match Beth and Santino went to attack Kelly, but Batista made the save. Santino sucker punched Batista, but Batista grabbed him, pulled back his nose guard and sent it into his face, and then speared him. The nose guard spot was funny.

Miz and John Morrison beat Cryme Tyme. They built this up through an apparent internet grudge with both teams making fun of each other. The heels crotched JTG and worked him over. Shad got the hot tag and came in with back drops. Cryme Tyme set up for the G9, but Morrison tripped JTG and Miz rolled up Shad for 2. Shad hit a face first suplex on Miz for two. Morrison then sent JTG into the post and used an enzuigiri on Shad for the pin.

Chris Jericho told Mike Adamle that Shane was testing him. Jericho said that Shane wanted to be challenged. This led to Adamle changing the main event to a handicap match. Charlie Haas then did a comedy vignette built around him screwing up Mr. Perfect spots. He screwed up in basketball, golf, pool, boxing, air hockey, football and even dance dance revolution. This was a funny vignette.

Chris Jericho, Lance Cade and JBL beat Batista and Shawn Michaels. In the attention to detail department, Michaels and Batista were cool despite the fact Michaels’ last feud before Jericho was with Batista. The heels worked over Michaels, who eventually tagged in Batista.

Batista came in with shoulder blocks, a clothesline, a spine buster and a power slam on Jericho. He tagged back Michaels, who hit an elbow off the top. Jericho came back with a bulldog on Michaels but missed the lionsault and tagged Cade. Michaels hit a flying forearm but he was distracted by Jericho and Cade hit a sit down power bomb for the pin.

Final Thoughts:

I thought this was a very good show. There was some fun comedy, good wrestling, and strong booking of the top characters.

My biggest observation from the show is just how good Chris Jericho has become.

I was a big fan of Chris Jericho dating back many years. I was at the Baltimore Arena in 1997 when Jericho first started his initial heel turn, and I got so much enjoyment out of Jericho’s shtick in WCW. From Monday Night Jericho and Ralphus to Quasi-Juice and Stinko Malinko, Jericho was so damned entertaining. I was certain he would be a main event heel when he went to WWE.

While most people continued to like Jericho’s work in WWE and felt that he was held down by politics, I always thought there was something missing in Jericho as a main event performer. He was hilarious as a character, but he couldn’t project seriousness when he was involved in top programs. It felt like everything was fun and games.

I consistently would receive e-mails from or talk to people who wanted Jericho to be pushed stronger as a main eventer, but I could never muster up much enthusiasm for the idea. Jericho was a good performer, but I didn’t see him as a guy who could do money programs as a heel or as a face. I enjoyed watching Jericho perform, but I never much cared if he got his revenge or if the other guy got revenge on him.

Well, if there was something missing in Jericho all those years (and maybe it was just that the writing handicapped him), it is missing no longer. Jericho is a revelation as a main event heel right now. He could always wrestle, talk, and portray an amusing sarcasm. He still has all those things, but he has added a genuinely loathsome heel demeanor.

Jericho had nuclear heat tonight, and his smarmy, hypocritical, self-righteous inconvenient truth-telling character makes you want to see him get his ass kicked. In short, he has a genuine main event presence, and one that feels genuinely fresh and different.

Jericho is working so well that I think he warrants a long run with the title. He can feud with Michaels, Batista, Punk, Orton and eventually Cena. That’s enough feuds to last you past WrestleMania, and I think as Jericho gets more and more heat it will really build anticipation for someone to take the belt from him. Jericho is catching fire right now, and I think the character is only going to get hotter in the coming months as they get more and more heat on the guy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 09/15/08 from Memphis, TN.

The Big News: Chris Jericho fended off a challenge from CM Punk to retain his title, but now he has to take on Shawn Michaels for that title in a ladder match.

Show Analysis:

Chris Jericho beat CM Punk in a cage match. At the beginning both men took turns trying to escape the cage. Punk hit a high knee and bulldog, but Jericho escaped the GTS. Jericho applied an ankle lock, but Punk got out with an enzuigiri. Jericho then applied the Walls, but Punk tried to crawl out of the cage. Jericho went for the lionsault, but landed on Punk’s knees.

Punk hit some kicks, but Jericho sent him into the cage and then gave him a dropkick into the cage. Jericho went to escape the cage, but Punk caught him and teased GTS off the top rope. Both men fell to the canvas. Jericho went to escape again, but Punk caught him this time with an electric chair off the ropes. Punk began throwing Jericho into the cage repeatedly, but Jericho raked Punk’s face and fell out the cage door for the win.

I saw three positives about this opener and one negative. First on the positive side, I like that they had the guts to put over Jericho without interference to help strengthen him as champion. Second, the match itself was excellent. Third, I think it’s a good idea from time to time to put something big on at the beginning of the show. It encourages people to tune in on time every week. On the negative side, the finish did make Punk look kind of dumb.

Backstage, Mike Adamle spoke with Dolph Ziggler (Nick Nemeth). Dolph Ziggler? Dolph Ziggler? What, is he supposed to be a combination of Ivan Drago and the Boogie Nights porn star? Look, the idea of a kayfabe wrestling name should not be that it’s so off-the-charts idiotic that there is no way in hell the wrestler can ever be taken seriously. WWE has come up with an awful lot of stupid names in recent months, but this is unquestionably rock bottom. Dolph Ziggler. Jesus Christ.

Chris Jericho then came to talk with Adamle. Adamle wanted to discuss No Mercy with him. Elsewhere backstage, Kane was in his mask. He said he was forced to remove his mask, and that he unmasked to appeal to the fans. No, actually, you were a face before you unmasked and then you turned heel immediately afterwards and started setting people on fire. It’s not like this is a huge deal, but they shouldn’t punish their fans for remembering the past.

Kane said that everyone hides behind masks when we’re all deep down only concerned about ourselves. He said that when he attacked Rey Mysterio he was attacking all of us. Evan Bourne confronted Kane. Bourne said Rey is courageous and that he can’t wait to see Rey beat Kane. Kane laughed.

Candice Michelle beat Jillian Hall. Beth watched from ringside. Candice hit a springboard kick and Jillian used a Samoan drop. Then the match completely fell apart to where I had no idea what they were even trying half the time. Eventually Jillian went for a handspring elbow but was caught with the unprettier for the pin. Candice has been just dreadful since returning. Candice’s top started to come apart as the match ended, so she had the referee adjust her bra rather than raise her hand. That may be a referee first. After the match Candice challenged Beth, but it was a setup and Candice gave her a sucker dropkick as she was entering the ring. What poor sportswomanship.

In one of WWE’s bullshit “did you know” facts, they claimed they sell more copies of WWE Magazine at newsstands than ESPN and SI combined. I have no idea what doctored numbers they are relying on, but I would be shocked if WWE sells as many magazines at newsstands year round as SI sells of its swimsuit edition alone. And even if somehow there’s some deceptive trick that makes this true, it means nothing given SI and ESPN have like ten times the number of subscribers if not more. These facts really do annoy me, because they want a more intelligent audience yet they treat their audience like idiots who can’t see through the most obvious manipulations and distortions. Then again, this sort of thing has worked for other people recently.

JBL beat Tommy Dreamer with a clothesline from hell in a hurry. JBL then waited in the ring for Mike Adamle, calling for a title shot. Instead, he got Randy Orton, who said it doesn’t matter because he’ll come back and take the title either way when he’s healthy. Santino and Beth joined the fray, and Santino berated Orton for always being hurt just like his father and the cast. That was a clever nod to older fans.

Santino said that his father is always healthy, and that he deals with the herpes well. Santino wanted an apology from Orton for disparaging Santino, and JBL wanted an apology from Orton for interrupting JBL. That brought out Batista, who said this was pathetic with all of them making promises they can’t keep like a bunch of politicians. Ummm, weren’t you lobbying people to get out and vote just the other week?

In any event, Batista threatened to beat them all up and challenged JBL in particular. Adamle appeared on the screen and said he would make an announcement about the title situation at the end of the show. Batista then jumped JBL. Santino tried to join in, but got a spine buster and JBL escaped. Beth slapped Batista a couple times so Batista gave her a spine buster onto Santino as well.

Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase and Manu beat Kofi Kingston, Jerry Lawler and Good Ol’ Jim Haas. This was easily Charlie Haas’ least funny impression yet. He had a gigantic belly and delivered a mocking bad impression of Jim Ross. It came across as just another excuse for Vince to mock Jim Ross rather than a good idea for an impression for Haas.

The heels briefly worked over Lawler, who tagged Haas. He came in with punches, a dropkick and a Thesz press. Cole started repeating things like Ross, which was funny. Haas hit a big splash, but Cody broke it up. All hell broke loose, and Orton hit the cobra clutch leg sweep for the pin. They need a name for that. How about the million dollar drop? Oh, screw it. That’s the name now.

JBL approached Jericho in the locker room. JBL said they made a good team last week, but Jericho wasn’t having it. He said he’s the champion, and isn’t looking to give JBL a title shot. Elsewhere, Batista wanted to know from Adamle whether he would be the number one contender. Lance Cade interrupted Batista, so Batista threw him into the wall and threatened him.

Jamie Noble beat Paul Burchill. Noble used a bunch of punches, then applied an arm bar. This time, the guy didn’t sit in the arm bar or shake his arm. Instead, he tapped out immediately. This made me very happy. Layla then came out, speaking with an English accent. She said she was sorry. Sorry it took her this long to get rid of him. That $*#@%! Layla ran down waffle houses and pickup trucks, and said she has found a man worthy of her. William Regal came out and they left together. Noble did a great job selling this with his facials. I love this feud.

Rey Mysterio beat Kane via DQ. Rey used a bunch of hit and run early. Kane rolled Rey into the ring post. Kane missed a big boot and Rey hit low kicks and a bulldog. Rey came off the top but was caught. Rey then escaped and hit an enzuigiri. Rey went for a 619 but was given a clothesline. Kane was then stomping in the corner and the referee inexplicably called for a DQ. This was a bad match with a really crappy finish. Evan Bourne ran in after the match and the midgets used a bunch of double team flying moves on Kane. This feud is doing nobody any favors. It’s like the Rockers vs. the Twin Towers.

Chris Jericho came out at the end of the show and said that neither JBL nor Batista deserves a title shot. Thus, he suggested they face each other at No Mercy and then he’ll face the winner on the same night. Mike Adamle came out and said Batista vs. JBL would take place at No Mercy to determine the number one contender. However, Jericho would defend the title against Shawn Michaels. Michaels came out and added it would be a ladder match.

Final Thoughts:

I liked the big picture stuff on this show. They did a good job setting up Jericho vs. Michaels in a ladder match. It’s a strong main event, and they are setting up a bunch of future matches as well. That’s the most important part of a wrestling show, so this edition of Raw was a success in my book. There was more bad stuff on this show than good, but the good stuff is also the most important stuff, I’m fine with that.

I haven’t plugged any of my other stuff in a little while, but it continues. I had lunch with Frank Mir at Spike TV’s studios today and a piece will be coming on that at tomorrow or Wednesday. I’ll be back with coverage from the Strikeforce show at the Playboy Mansion Saturday as well, and I did a rare detailed English-language interview with Kazuo Misaki that I think is quite interesting here:

Hope everyone has a good week.

Monday, September 08, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 09/08/08 from Fort Wayne, IN.

The Big News: Chris Jericho was able to weasel his way out of another tough predicament, but next week he has to face CM Punk in a cage match.

Show Analysis:

Chris Jericho came out to start the show. I think he will work well as champion, but they really devalued the title in the way they got it to him. Jericho revealed bruises on his body given to him by supposed good guy Shawn Michaels. Jericho pointed out their match was unsanctioned so Michaels accomplished nothing while Jericho later won the title. Jericho described this as good things happening to a good person. He said that he outsmarted Batista to win, and now everyone must respect how good he is, better than Michaels.

Mike Adamle came out and congratulated Jericho. However, he pointed out Punk lost his title without having the chance to defend it. Thus, next week it will be Punk vs. Jericho in a cage match. He further announced Jericho vs. Batista for this week. Jericho’s performance here was good, but he went a little too long.

Beth Phoenix beat Mickie James. Candice Michelle was at ringside, and they said she would meet the winner for the women’s title at No Mercy. This is nothing compared to the number they did on their titles last night, but it makes little sense that she’s gone forever, scores one pin in a six woman tag and immediately gets a title shot. She also inexplicably giggled whenever the camera panned to her. Beth threw Mickie into the post. Mickie hit a huracanrana and Thesz press, but Beth used the Alabama slam for the pin. There were a lot of blown spots here.

William Regal beat Jamie Noble. Layla was at ringside, after Noble hired Jillian Hall to serenade her. Noble hit a spinning head scissors and Regal responded with an exploder. Noble landed an enzuigiri but his attempt at a running somersault senton fell into Regal’s knees. Regal then hit a running knee for the pin. Regal informed Noble that happy endings only happen in fairy tales, and offered his arm to Layla. Layla reluctantly took it and they walked off together.

Charlie Haas beat JBL via count out. Haas made his entrance out of the trunk of JBL’s limo. He called himself Charles Haas Layfield, and the crowd chanted “CHL.” He made fun of JBL. An annoyed JBL said that he deserves respect and stomped off. JBL was counted out and Haas celebrated heartily. I really do enjoy this Haas gimmick. They should have him do some old gimmicks.

Batista and JBL had a discussion backstage. Batista thought Haas’ routine was funny. JBL said that both he and Batista are main eventers, and they shouldn’t tolerate disrespect from these uppity guys on the undercard. JBL said he has nothing in common with Haas. Batista agreed, because Haas actually won his match on the show. It would appear they are integrating his backstage reputation into his on-camera character, which I think is a smart way to package him.

Rey Mysterio and Evan Bourne beat Miz and John Morrison. Rey has some new tattoos. Before the match, he said that he doesn’t know why Kane attacked him, but that he will stand strong and will be nobody’s victim. Rey and Bourne hit a cool double team moonsault spot, and then Rey flipped Bourne with a plancha into a huracanrana on the floor onto Morrison. Bourne went to the top, but Morrison knocked him off with an enzuigiri.

The heels briefly worked over Bourne, but he tagged Rey and Rey came in with a double springboard crossbody. Morrison flipped Rey into Miz, but Rey gave Miz a huracanrana. Rey followed with a somersault senton on Morrison but was tripped by Miz when he went for the 619. Morrison went for a springboard kick into Rey but hit Miz instead. Rey used a whirly bird, hit the 619, and Bourne used the shooting star press for the pin on Morrison.

This was a fun match, and the crowd reacted big to the end. It reminded me of the sort of midcard workrate matches that used to be a staple on Nitro and then later Raw. I wish WWE brought in more guys like Matt Sydal so they could use this as a regular feature. I think the show would benefit from a weekly fast-paced and athletic 10 minute match with limited storyline repercussions. Another positive of this match was they used it as an opportunity to talk a lot about ECW and its stars. It was a subtle way of getting Raw fans to think about trying out ECW again.

After the match Kane appeared on the screen. He said that he will face Rey next week one-on-one. He added that he chose Rey to be his victim. That’s kind of kinky. I’m getting a Candyman vibe. Be my victim, Helen. Kane said he cho-cho-chose Rey for special reasons, and then held up the old Kane mask. So evidently that was where they wanted to go all along and the thing with Rey’s mask was primarily to swerve people. This storyline is a neon billboard screaming for thoughtful long term booking.

Randy Orton came out and said that it is a tragedy he lost his title because of the collarbone injury. He contrasted that to CM Punk, who got lucky and then had karma catch up with him. Orton posited that he did what he did to Punk because he was concerned for his safety. He felt Punk should thank him, because he would have been exposed in the scramble and beaten repeatedly. That’s what Patrick Cote should have said to Ricardo Almeida after he beat him.

Orton added that Jericho owes him thanks too. He said that when he’s healthy he’ll take the title from Jericho. Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase and Manu came out to take credit for setting up Orton for the kick. Manu noted all their fathers are Hall-of-Famers, so Orton’s no better than any of them. DiBiase said that what they did to Punk was impressive. Orton slapped DiBiase and left. Presumably they are just taking their time in pairing these four together. I think that it’s a really smart pairing. Orton will give the other three credibility, and they can become a kind of second version of Evolution.

Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase and Manu the Wild Samoan beat Cryme Tyme and Kofi Kingston. The heels worked over Kofi with a Manu body slam and DiBiase double foot stomp off the second rope. Shad tagged in and hit a press slam on Rhodes and power slam on DiBiase. Manu tagged in and hit a neck breaker on Shad for the pin. Shad’s neatly trimmed beard completely undermines the rest of his look. He badly needs to let that thing go.

Santino defeated Gene Snitsky. Santino prior to the match said that with a three week Intercontinental Title reign he is already 19 days better than the Mountie. There was an enormous missed opportunity here for Santino to botch the lyrics of the Mountie’s theme song. He vowed to be the best IC champ of all the times. Snitsky then stormed out looking like the Warlord. That’s not a favorable comparison. Snitsky hit a clothesline, elbow drop and punches. He went for a kick in the corner, but Beth pulled Santino out of the way and he rolled up Snitsky for the pin.

Batista vs. Chris Jericho didn’t last long. Prior to the match, Jericho confronted Mike Adamle. He said it was unfair for him to have another tough match after 2 matches at Unforgiven. Adamle responded that he did Jericho a favor by placing him in the scramble, and Jericho owed him a favor. He then had a change of heart. After Batista dominated early with a powerslam, Adamle came out and said that he misdiagnosed Jericho’s condition. Adamle said he needed a competitive match, and announced Jericho and JBL vs. Batista in a handicap match.

Chris Jericho and JBL beat Batista. Jericho and JBL got along fine despite the fact JBL tried to murder Jericho earlier this year. That’s the sort of detail they should at least make a token explanation for in the name of storyline consistency and logic. The heels worked over Batista, but Batista came back with clotheslines. He went for a Batista bomb on Jericho but Lance Cade got on the apron. Batista knocked him off, allowing JBL to hit the clothesline from hell and Jericho stole the pin. After the match, JBL and Cade beat up Batista, but Batista then came back with a spear on JBL and spine buster and Batista bomb on Cade.

Final Thoughts:

I don’t really much in the way of overarching thoughts about this show. There were things about it I liked and other things about it I didn’t. Overall the show was entertaining enough and they are making some useful tweaks on a number of major characters.

Monday, September 01, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 09/01/08 from St. Louis, MO.

The Big News: Unforgiven is this Sunday, but Raw seemed to focus more on wrestlers who are coming and going.

Show Analysis:

They aired a graphic for Killer Kowalski to start the show. Randy Orton then came out, and belittled the champions of Raw since he left. He focused on CM Punk, who he labeled a lucky man who went from nobody to champion. Orton said that when he’s cleared to return to the ring, he’ll take the title back from Punk.

That brought out CM Punk, who knocked Orton for screwing around on his motorcycle. He called Orton jealous and pathetic. Orton had enough of that and left, bringing out JBL. JBL again called Punk a fluke and said the clothesline from hell would net him the title at Unforgiven.
Kane came out and said he has been to hell and didn’t see JBL’s clothesline. What a weird line that was. Kane said he did see Rey Mysterio in hell and Rey won’t be at Unforgiven. Batista then came out and speared everyone. This opening segment was fine. I’m all for planting the seeds for future programs, so the Orton/Punk stuff worked for me.

Kofi Kingston beat Charlie Haas. John Cena’s music hit, but it was Haas in Cena’s attire doing Cena’s routine. It was funny, and this copycat gimmick is amusing for the undercard. Haas does a good job with it. Haas went for the five knuckle shuffle but got kicked in the head. Kofi hit a dropkick, flying forearm, springboard crossbody, side Ghanan leg sweep and high double leg drop. Haas went for the FU but Kofi escaped and hit trouble in paradise for the pin.

Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase backstage were angry at Randy Orton for denigrating their title run. Orton slapped Cody. He said that they are the most talented guys in the locker room but they lost a handicap match to John Cena and Cryme Tyme stole their belts. Orton told them to make a better accounting of themselves. This seemed to be a tease for a future alliance between the three, which I think would work very well.

Mike Adamle and Teddy Long were making future plans backstage when Kane approached Adamle. Kane said Rey isn’t coming back and wanted to know why Adamle would lie and say he is. Adamle said he wasn’t lying, and that Rey has an invitation to return at Unforgiven or even on Raw. Kane said that Rey has been destroyed, but Adamle can hope.

Mark Henry won an ECW battle royal. They all ganged up on Henry, but he fought them off. He eliminated Miz and Chavo Guerrero together. He then dumped Finlay. Finally, Matt Hardy tried the twist of fate but Henry threw him over the top to the floor. This was a very rare breed of wrestling match: the battle royal squash. It certainly would suggest Henry is losing his title on Sunday.

Jamie Noble beat William Regal in a short match. Before the match, Noble said he would show Layla he has what it takes. Regal hit an exploder and used a full nelson but Noble rolled him up for the pin. It was treated as a fluke. Noble is very entertaining as a character.

Candice Michelle, Mickie James and Kelly Kelly beat Katie Lea, Beth Phoenix and Jillian Hall. Mickie hit a Thesz press off the top on Katie, but the heels gained control and worked over Mickie. Mickie tagged Candice. Candice hit a crossbody off the top, but Beth rolled through. Beth was setting Candice up, but Candice used the non-existent package for the pin. They made it a point of putting over Candice’s return big and making her the focal point of the match.

Santino beat D-Lo Brown. Before the match, Santino said that he will be the greatest Intercontinental champion of all time and debuted the Honk-a-Meter. He noted Honky Tonk Man was champion 64 weeks, and he has already been champion 2 weeks. Santino concluded that it is 62 weeks to go and he will be greatest of all time. I hope he does it. D-Lo hit a shining wizard, which Michael Cole not only referenced by name but followed with a Great Muta reference. D-Lo missed the frog splash and Santino covered for the pin.

Cryme Tyme vs. Miz and John Morrison went to a no contest. They started to brawl on the floor when Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase jumped Cryme Tyme. Cody used a DDT to send JTG into one of the tag titles, and they took back their belts. Backstage, they showed off the belts to Randy Orton, who smiled.

Kane won a 4-man battle royal. Randy Orton watched from ringside. Batista hit a spine buster on Punk and went for the Batista bomb, but Kane kicked him in the face. Punk then dumped Batista over the top. Punk eliminated JBL shortly thereafter. Kane threw Punk over the top but Punk didn’t go to the floor. Punk came back in with a springboard but got thrown back out by the throat.

They kept harping on this idea that the percentage chance of winning something is directly equal to the number of people involved, even in a game of skill. According to WWE logic, the odds of any wrestler winning a 5 person match is 20 percent and the odds of any wrestler winning a 2 person match is 50 percent. Can you imagine how stupid an NFL commentator would sound if they said at the beginning of this season that the Patriots have a 25 percent shot of winning their division?

Rey Mysterio came out after the match looking fine, which is odd given this whole angle was supposed to be about Kane committing unspeakable torture upon him. Rey hit kicks, a chop block, and a baseball slide. Kane caught him for a power bomb, but Rey sent him into the post and hit a 619. Kane caught him again for a choke slam, but Rey got out with a huracanrana that sent Kane to the floor. Kane and Rey did a great job working together here. I don’t like the feud, though, because the size differential makes Rey look so small.

The show concluded with a Chris Jericho/Shawn Michaels contract signing. They signed, and then told security to leave. Chris Jericho said he sat down his kids and told them he will never be an egomaniac like Michaels. Jericho added he won’t go easy on Michaels because of what happened to Michaels’ wife. Jericho promised to end Michaels’ career and show what happens to someone who lives like Michaels.

Michaels responded that one day he will tell his children the story about how he had to come back to look evil in the face and spit in its eye. Michaels said all the pain and suffering Jericho put on him will rain down upon Jericho. An intense Michaels said he will have no remorse and no regrets about what happens to Jericho. Michaels and Jericho were about to get into it when Lance Cade came in from behind. Michaels beat him up but Jericho escaped. This was an excellent segment, with Michaels in particular really shining.

Final Thoughts:

This was a good show. The undercard was entertaining, and featured better booking than in recent weeks. Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho again hit a home run in the final segment.
The show was kind of a downer, though, in that it accentuated all the guys who aren’t going to be around. Randy Orton did a really good job here and there is a lot for him to do when he returns. John Cena is of course a glaring absence as WWE’s most important performer. And now Shawn Michaels is out right in the middle of one of the best wrestling feuds in years.

It’s really a shame that the injuries are taking such a toll. They’ve got a lot of entertaining performers on the undercard, but they haven’t protected them in the booking so fans don’t take them seriously. That creates problems when the top guys go down. They should use the coming weeks to build some more additional stars and protect against that problem in the future.

Oh, and 27-24 Bruins!