Monday, October 27, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 10/27/08 from Tucson, AZ

The Big News: Next week will be a monumental moment in our nation’s history. That’s right. It’s Raw’s 800th episode, and to celebrate there will be a three hour celebration bash. No “WWE Universe” drinking games, either, or you’ll be too hung over to vote the next day. Hell, you’ll probably die of alcohol poisoning that evening, so don’t try it kids.

Show Analysis:

An upset Chris Jericho came out to start the show. He said that his title loss at Cyber Sunday was the biggest screw job in WWE history. Jericho claimed that Adamle wanted Batista to be champion and the fans helped achieve that goal. He labeled Steve Austin a biased bully and said that Batista should be ashamed to call himself champion given he didn’t defeat Jericho. Conspiracy, he cried. Jericho vowed to use his rematch clause on next week’s three hour Raw and reclaim the title.

Mike Adamle interrupted, and said that the title match next week would be a steel cage match. That feels a little repetitious given they did the same thing when CM Punk dropped the title to Jericho. Jericho stormed off.

Randy Orton then came out, and was mad that Adamle stuck him in the referee situation at Cyber Sunday which led to him getting the stunner. Orton called for Stephanie and Shane McMahon to fire Adamle next week, and said that if they don’t fire Adamle he will leave. Orton called Adamle spineless and a failure as an interviewer, commentator, general manager, father and husband. Ouch. Adamle slapped him, and Orton left. This was an entertaining opening segment. They built a lot of stuff for next week and this angle with Orton to me is the most interesting angle they set up.

CM Punk and Kofi Kingston beat Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes to win the tag team titles. Jerry Lawler sold that Kingston or Punk would have the advantage in singles matches against DiBiase or Rhodes, but that Rhodes and DiBiase were the favorites in the tag match because they have better teamwork. They should emphasize that more often to make the tag titles feel like they mean something.

Kingston and Punk were successful early with dropkicks and double teams including Kingston flipping Punk into a plancha. Rhodes and DiBiase briefly worked over Punk, and then worked over Kingston. Kingston got the tag to Punk, who hit a swinging neck breaker, slaps and a high knee on DiBiase. DiBiase went for the million dollar nightmare (my new name for the cobra clutch leg sweep), but Punk escaped and hit the GTS for the pin. This was a good match.

Roddy Piper, Goldust and Honky Tonk Man came out to do commentary for Santino’s match. Santino and Beth Phoenix came to the ring, and Santino put over Beth. Beth’s music then played, presumably to tease she would be Santino’s opponent. Instead, Charlie Haas came out dressed as Phoenix. The match never really got started. Santino on the outside slapped Honky, so the former Intercontinental champions pursued Santino into the ring and Honky hit Santino with a guitar.

They aired another video package and Mike Knox is in fact coming to Raw. The package actually made him look quite impressive. I think he’s got the potential to be a poor man’s Gene Snitsky.

Batista came to the ring for a brief interview. He said that he feels good to be the champion, and that it was a long journey back to the top. He wasn’t concerned about having a short lived title reign. He said that he is comfortable with the cage, where there will be nowhere for Jericho to run or hide.

Mickie James, Kelly Kelly and Candice Michelle beat Jillian Hall, Katie Lea and Layla. The heels worked over Mickie, who got the tag to Kelly. Kelly hit a whirly bird, dropkick and famouser on Katie for the pin.
JBL did a backstage promo where he said that he was angry at Shawn Michaels for interfering with his plan at Cyber Sunday. He had a deal with Chris Jericho where he would help Jericho retain the title and then would receive the next title shot, but Michaels cost JBL his title shot and the money that would have come with being champion. JBL later jumped Shawn Michaels backstage, setting up a seeming handicap match for the main event.

Rey Mysterio beat Evan Bourne. Evan hit a moonsault to the floor and Rey hit a senton off the apron. Evan went for a springboard crossbody but Rey caught him with a dropkick. Rey hit a springboard senton but Evan quickly answered with an enzuigiri. Evan hit a standing moonsault and attempted a sunset flip off the top but Rey rolled through. Rey hit the 619 but missed the west coast pop. Evan went for a victory roll, but Rey rolled through for the pin.

This was a good match, particularly at the end. Both guys botched some spots early. After the match Kane and then Mark Henry came out. Kane ended up giving Rey a choke slam and Henry ended up giving Evan the world’s strongest slam.

Miz and John Morrison again made fun of DX. They said that their sophisticated brand of humor may be too much for the common people and their style on the intimidating side. Next week they vowed to defeat DX. Good luck with that.

Batista and Shawn Michaels beat Chris Jericho and JBL. The vast majority of this was a handicap match. The heels worked over Batista for a while, but he came back with clotheslines. Jericho hit the code breaker, but Batista kicked out. Batista speared JBL and at that moment Michaels finally made his way to the ring.

Batista made the tag to Michaels but the referee didn’t see it and went to escort Michaels from the ring. In the midst of this there was a weird botched spot. Jericho went to hit Batista with the title. I think it was supposed to be the spot where Batista moves and Jericho hits JBL, but Jericho missed both of them. Michaels then thought about doing sweet chin music but changed his mind, so Jericho just left the ring and Batista hit the spine buster and Batista bomb on JBL for the pin. This was okay.

Final Thoughts:

This show was fine. It was better than recent weeks because it had better wrestling and the booking was marginally better, but it wasn’t a great show by any means either. They spent a lot of time building next week, but they didn’t do anything that really got me excited for it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 10/20/08 from Corpus Christi, TX

The Big News: Cyber Sunday is, well, Sunday. Also, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler might have delivered the worst night of commentary in Raw history.

Show Analysis:

Kelly Kelly and Candice Michelle beat Jillian Hall and Katie Lea. The heels briefly worked over Candice, with Katie using a back breaker and Jillian executing a handspring elbow. Kelly got the tag and used a whirly bird, crossbody off the second rope and famouser on Jillian for the pin.

The most striking thing about this match was the announcers used the entire match to incessantly plug a Halloween costume contest at Cyber Sunday. They even continued into future matches. It is fine that they want to plug that, but they literally talked about it for five minutes straight with this over-the-top enthusiasm to the point it was terribly counterproductive. Nobody cares about a costume contest, and nobody will care no matter how long they plug it. All they do with the hard sell of the mundane is kill off their announcers’ credibility as anything other than total phonies and insult the audience’s intelligence.

Chris Jericho came out. He emphasized that he is the champion and bemoaned the disrespect that he has been shown. He further complained about the choices for referee at Cyber Sunday. He said Steve Austin is the worst choice, which makes no sense. Shawn Michaels explicitly said he would screw you out of the title and attacked you last week. How could Austin be worse? I get that they want fans to vote for Austin, but you can do that without having characters say things that they wouldn’t say.

Chris Jericho again talked about beating Steve Austin and the Rock in the same night, and said after he beats Batista he will prove his dominance as champion. Batista came out and said that if Jericho beats him, Jericho will have earned the people’s respect. However, he laughed at the likelihood of that happening. He also said that in the interim Jericho needs to stop whining and crying. Mike Adamle then came out and said Jericho and Batista would compete in gauntlet matches against the same three opponents. Jericho slapped Batista and left.

This was a weird segment. Jericho delivered the same promo he has done a million times, and made no reference to what happened last week. I thought last week advanced the Jericho/Batista feud well, but they blew off the whole thing like it never happened and Jericho seemingly doesn’t care about getting pinned. I do enjoy smirking, incredulous Batista, though. It works perfectly for him.

JBL beat Stone Cold Steve Haastin. JBL complained about the mockery of him having to face a has-been impersonator last week. He said that he’s a man of dignity, which cued Austin’s music. For some reason, the people this week were actually fooled momentarily. They popped like it was the real Austin and then quickly quieted when they realized it wasn’t. Haastin hit Thesz press and some punches, but he missed the stunner and JBL hit the clothesline from hell for the pin.

Troublingly, the story of the second match was the same as the first: awful commentary. Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole fake laughed more in this one segment than the vast majority of humans do in their entire lives. It was like they were competing to see who could do the loudest and fakest fake laugh, even as nobody in the crowd was reacting at all. It was off-the-charts obnoxious. It reflects such insecurity that they think fans won’t appreciate comedy if you don’t shove it down their throats.

Rey Mysterio beat Snitsky in what basically amounted to a squash match. Snitsky missed a big boot. Rey hit a springboard senton, low dropkick, double foot stomp off the top, 619 and springboard splash for the pin. They ran a Mike Knox package, so perhaps he is coming to Raw. I hope not.

Miz and John Morrison beat CM Punk and Kofi Kingston. Before the match Miz and Morrison talked themselves up. Miz said they have more street cred than K-Fed. They mocked DX by asking, “Are you 50?” That’s apparently the first tease for a match with them, and you knew after that they would be beating Kofi and Punk.

Punk hit an enzuigiri on Miz and Kofi and Punk hit a double kick to the head. Kofi followed with a dropkick, and threw Morrison over the top rope onto Miz. Kofi hit a European uppercut and a monkey flip. Morrison kicked Kofi in the head and got the tag. The heels took over, with Morrison using a Northern lights suplex and dragon sleeper. Kofi eventually made the tag to Punk. Punk hit a swinging neck breaker, slaps, a spinning back fist, high kick, high knee, bulldog and power slam on Morrison. Punk hit the GTS, but didn’t realize Miz had tagged back in. Miz rolled up Punk for the win.

Santino was the highlight of the show again. He came out with Roddy Piper’s attire, Goldust’s face paint, and Honky Tonk Man’s wig and guitar. He said all his potential opponents are washed up. He made fun of Piper’s weight, said Goldust’s career has “flamed out” and said Honky made his career copying Elvis.

That brought out Hacksaw Jim Duggan. He said Santino is in the last minute of his fifteen minutes of fame. God, I hope not. Santino showed off the Honk-a-Meter, which is now in double digits. Santino told a bunch of bad jokes at Duggan’s expense. Duggan said if it wasn’t for Santino’s boyfriend, Santino wouldn’t be champ. He then yelled “tough guy” at Beth. Santino hit Duggan with the guitar, and accidentally busted open his mouth in the process. Santino is awesome, but Beth is also tremendous in her reactions to Santino.

There was supposed to be a tag match with Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase vs. Cryme Tyme. However, the match never started. Rhodes, DiBiase and Manu jumped Cryme Tyme three on two, and laid them out.

The main event was the gauntlet matches. Rather than having one guy wrestle three matches and then the other, they had Jericho and Batista alternate so one guy would always get a weakened opponent. William Regal was the first opponent. Batista hit a spine buster and Batista bomb for the pin in a very quick squash. Jericho then hit the code breaker on the weakened Regal and pinned him.

Mark Henry was next. Jericho started, and went for the Walls. Henry powered out. Henry whipped Jericho into the corner and hit an avalanche. Henry missed a splash, and Jericho hit the lionsault. Henry kicked out of the pin attempt. Jericho removed a turnbuckle. The referee went to cover it, and Jericho grabbed the title belt. He hit Henry with it but the referee saw it and disqualified Jericho. Batista then hit a quick spine buster for the pin.

The final opponent was Kane. Jericho went after his leg and went for the code breaker. Kane escaped and hit a clothesline off the top. Jericho kicked out of the pin attempt. Kane went for a choke slam, but Jericho fought out. Kane finally hit the big boot for the pin. Batista then came in and hit the spear for the pin.

Final Thoughts:

I didn’t like this show at all. I thought the booking from top to bottom was not good. Obviously, they want you to think Batista will win the title at Cyber Sunday, but Jericho has now lost three times in two weeks and they aren’t building up a new program in any instance. I think that does more to devalue the title than anything.

I also absolutely hated the commentary. It was simply unbearable. Commentary matters in how fans perceive a promotion, and the commentary tonight reminded me of Tony Schiavone in the dying days of Nitro when he had long ago stopped caring. The announcers were so phony and fake in their enthusiasm that it came across they didn’t care at all and were just acting. One of the strengths of Jim Ross is he doesn’t try to convince you that urine is lemonade, and thus when he’s excited it gets you excited. The quality of the commentary needs to improve immediately.

This leads me to a point I’ve been meaning to make for weeks. This “WWE Universe” nonsense has to stop. Think for a second about the reaction if the NFL pulled this garbage. The NFL decides that they want to label their fans the “NFL Galaxy,” and the announcers and players are instructed to refer to the “NFL Galaxy” every five minutes even if there was no reason to do so.

If the NFL pulled that nonsense, it wouldn’t last one week. Fans would react with vocal, overwhelming negativity at being unsubtly and condescendingly force fed these idiotic and unnecessary corporate buzzwords. Years later, people would still be joking about how stupid the whole thing was. But wrestling fans are used to this stupidity from their wrestling so either they take it and accept it or they just give up like so many already have.

Vince McMahon this year seems to be on a trip about wanting to attract a more sophisticated audience. And I certainly applaud him for that inclination. But step one to attracting a sophisticated audience is not insulting its intelligence for two straight hours. We can decide for ourselves if a segment is funny. We can decide for ourselves how we want to describe ourselves as fans. We can decide for ourselves if an upcoming event is something to look forward to. Persuasion is fine. Mindlessly shoving tripe down our throats like we’re mentally challenged is kind of a turnoff.

Bonus Content:

That’s kind of a sour note to end the evening, so here’s a quick look on where I see the key members of the EliteXC roster ending up. I haven’t spoken with anyone yet, so these are just my quick thoughts and informal vibes.

Antonio Silva: He’s actually got a pretty sizeable contract, and I don’t see anyone out there being willing to match it. He would have been a good fit for Japan when he was more freaky looking, but I’m not sure now. I think Dream or World Victory Road will make him the best offer, but he may join UFC for better opportunities.

Brett Rogers: He’s a decent prospect, but still on the rise and he doesn’t mean much now. I would think Strikeforce or another smaller organization is most likely.

Cristiane Cyborg: She’ll likely end up wherever Gina Carano ends up.

Dave Herman: I expect UFC to make him a good offer. He’s a strong prospect for the sport and good enough to make an impact there over the next few years.

Eddie Alvarez: Affliction’s decision makers like guys that have success in Japan, so Alvarez would be a natural fit for them. Dream obviously also has used him, and he would be a good opponent for a number of guys in Strikeforce as well. UFC would certainly like to have him too. He has better bargaining position than most.

Frank Shamrock: Strikeforce is the natural fit for Frank, but the question is how much money they can afford to pay him over the long haul. There is still a lot of animosity between Frank and Dana White, but I don’t think that’s outside the realm of possibility.

Gina Carano: If Affliction is willing to pay up, a fight with her and Cyborg at their next show would make a lot of sense. UFC could still decide to use Carano and other women in WEC, but I don’t expect it. If there are no other serious offers, I’m sure Strikeforce would be willing to make an offer to each. If the AFL ever runs the pay-per-view they have talked about, that would also make sense.

Jake Shields: He would fit in well in UFC’s welterweight division, and I’m sure Zuffa would like to lock up one of the last top 170 pound fighters that they don’t have under contract. He’s Northern California based, so Strikeforce is also a possibility. His talent would also likely lead to Affliction taking a look depending on his price point.

Joey Villasenor: He’s a solid veteran, so I could see just about anyone taking him. I don’t see anyone proactively going after him either, so he’ll likely be shopping for the best offer.

Kimbo Slice: Here’s the big question. I don’t think UFC will take him. I don’t see Affliction being all that interested either, given their emphasis on steak over sizzle. Dream or World Victory Road would likely be interested given his look. In real life he’s not all that far removed from the gimmick Pride saddled Quinton Jackson with back in the day. For a guy who meant so much so recently, I think there will be a surprising lack of interest in him. Someone will pay up, though.

KJ Noons: Noons is an interesting case, because he seems to have a higher opinion of his value than anyone else. UFC hates his agent, which will hurt him there. I don’t see Japan willing to make a big offer. He’s in a tough spot. He may pull a Latrell Sprewell and walk away from the best offer.

Murilo “Ninja” Rua: Ninja is a lot like Villasenor. Nobody would have any reservations about having Ninja on their card, but I don’t see anyone tripping over themselves to get him. I kind of see him going back to Japan since he had his best successes in Pride.

Nick Diaz: Diaz is one of the more interesting ones. He’s colorful and talented, but he also has a tendency to get himself into trouble. World Victory Road would make sense since he could have a rematch with Takanori Gomi. Strikeforce would make sense since he’s another Northern California fighter. Dream would work as well since there’s a lot of talent in that division over there. I could also see Affliction or UFC making an offer. I think he’ll probably split time between World Victory Road and an American promotion.

Nick Thompson: He’s in the Villasenor/Ninja camp, although with a little less cache. He may find himself on smaller shows, and when he strings together some more wins he’ll get a UFC return offer.

Paul Daley: He’s a natural fit for UFC’s European expansion, so that’s where I expect him to go.

Phil Baroni: Strikeforce signed him, and Japan is also a possibility for some fights.

Rafael Feijao: I don’t think he’s good enough yet to make it in the UFC. He’d be a natural fit for WEC, but they closed that division. He doesn’t really have a name anywhere, so I don’t see Strikeforce, Affliction, Dream or WVR being all that interested in him. I think he’s going to have to take a low offer from someone.

Robbie Lawler: UFC has been interested in bringing him back for quite a while. He was one of the guys they wanted for the fourth season of the Ultimate Fighter. I’m sure they’ll make him an offer. If Affliction is looking to add contracts, he would likely be one of the first people they would look at too. I think he ends up back in UFC.

Scott Smith: He’s in the Ninja/Villasenor position. I think that the main event with Robbie Lawler will help, even though he lost and the viewership was disappointing.

Wilson Reis: He’s a natural fit for the WEC. Given there isn’t a lot of interest worldwide in the 145 pound division, I would be surprised if he doesn’t end up there.

Yves Edwards: He’s already fighting Josh Thomson at the next Strikeforce show.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 10/13/08 from Anaheim, CA.

The Big News: Batista and Chris Jericho got to pick each other’s opponents for the night, but Batista proved more adept at screwing Jericho than vice versa.

Show Analysis:

At the start of the show, Chris Jericho reprimanded Mike Adamle backstage for taking back control from him last week. Adamle pointed out Jericho wouldn’t even be champion if Adamle didn’t put him in the scramble. Adamle said that Jericho and Batista would get to pick the other’s Raw opponent. Jericho was agitated, and threatened to go over Adamle’s head.

Adamle retorted that Shane and Stephanie turn off their cell phones during Raw, an odd assertion given the GM character is seemingly talking with a McMahon on the phone every other week. Jericho responded by saying he knew how he could get to them. Apparently, USA Network in Connecticut doesn’t televise backstage segments, so Jericho’s plan was to go out to the ring where the McMahons would be able to hear him.

In the ring, Jericho complained about the referee choices for his match at Cyber Sunday because they are all out to get him. Jericho said his title reign shouldn’t end due to an unbiased official. He then realized what he said and quickly said it shouldn’t end due to a biased official either, which was funny. He added that it is unfair to let the people choose. Shawn Michaels came out and said that if he is referee it will be the worst day of Jericho’s life. He then attacked Jericho. Jericho made Shawn Michaels vs. Batista for the show.

Kane and Mark Henry beat Matt Hardy and Rey Mysterio. Didn’t we see this same match with the same finish last week? Don’t answer; that’s a rhetorical question. They announced that Kane and Rey will wrestle at Cyber Sunday in either a falls count anywhere match, no holds barred match or 2 of 3 falls match. This is your big opportunity to book a WWE match, because lord knows at a dollar a pop there are only going to be about 4 votes on this one.

Henry hit a body slam on Hardy but missed an elbow. Hardy hit two second rope elbow drops and a tornado DDT. Kane and Henry took over with punches and worked over Hardy. Hardy eventually got the tag to Rey, who hit a springboard senton, double foot stomp, twisting scorpion death drop, huracanrana and 619 on Kane. Rey came off the top, but Kane nailed him with a kick for the pin. Kane went for the choke slam after the match but Rey escaped and dropkicked Kane out of the ring.

Backstage, Batista said that he knew what Chris Jericho was doing. He noted that there is no love lost between him and Shawn Michaels. He further observed that Michaels is in an angry mood. However, Batista said that if Michaels were to try to take him out, he’d take out Michaels first.

JBL beat Haas Hogan. JBL did a promo before the match where again WWE tried to get over the idea that the economic stimulus package is nothing more than a payout to the rich. God only knows what WWE’s audience is taking from WWE’s second grade level economic analysis.

The crowd wasn’t fooled by the Hogan music, as it didn’t get much of a pop. Haas’ mannerisms were good but Hogan has been parodied so many times it doesn’t do much for me. Haas hulked up and hit the big boot but he missed the leg drop. JBL hit the clothesline from hell for the pin.

After a package on John Cena, Randy Orton came out and complained about how there have been no kind words or video packages for his return from injury. Orton said that he doesn’t care what happens at Cyber Sunday or whether he’ll be the referee because he’ll will the title no matter what happens.

Batista and Shawn Michaels fought to a no contest in a lumberjack match. Jericho made the lumberjack stipulation with all heel lumberjacks. Michaels applied the figure four and hit a swinging neck breaker. Batista took over with a twisting uranage and bear hug. Batista fell to the outside, where Orton tried to hit his kick to the head. Batista avoided that but Michaels used a flying forearm.

Michaels went to the top, but Regal pushed him off. Batista hit a spine buster and set up for the Batista bomb but both men tumbled to the floor. The lumberjacks jumped both and followed them to the ring, which apparently constituted a double DQ. Batista and Michaels cleared the ring, however, and shook hands.

Santino Marella came out for another edition of the Honk-a-Meter, which is now at an impressive nine weeks. This was the cue for the jackass angle. Santino brought the jackass to the ring. He referred to Beth as a dude, so she slapped him and gave him a sloppy body slam. Hornswoggle ran in and hit the frog splash. Big Dick Johnson came out and danced. Boogey Man and his worms made their entrance. Finally Great Khali came out and put the jackass in the head vice and dropped him.

Kelly Kelly and Cryme Tyme beat John Morrison, Miz and Jillian Hall. Prior to the match Morrison and Miz performed a rap and Jillian sung the hook. Morrison and Miz are the kings of being so bad it’s good. Kelly hit a clothesline, punches and used the whirly bird on Jillian. That was it for the women, as JTG and Miz tagged in. JTG hit a blockbuster and dropkick, but was distracted by Jillian’s shrieking. Morrison and Miz took over with double teams, until JTG got the tag to Shad. A brawl ensued, JTG hit Morrison with a Duck facemask and Shad scored the pin.

CM Punk beat Chris Jericho with Batista making himself special referee. Punk’s reaction wasn’t as good as it has been, which may be a signal that they need to present him stronger. Punk hit a crossbody off the top and kick to the head. Jericho retaliated with a senton and enzuigiri, but Batista slow counted Jericho’s pin attempts. Jericho went for a bulldog but Punk shook him off. Punk went for a high knee but missed. Jericho went for the Walls, but Punk rolled him up for two.

Punk hit a high knee and bulldog, but Jericho escaped the GTS attempt. Jericho then hit the code breaker, but Batista got something in his eye at the count of two. A livid Jericho got in Batista’s face, and Batista gave him the Batista bomb. Punk covered for the pin. This was a fun match, and it advanced the story well. Batista was likeable with his smirk even as he was screwing Jericho, and this is another reason for Jericho to rant with righteous indignation.

Final Thoughts:

I liked the overarching storyline of this show. It made for entertaining segments and got over the Jericho/Batista feud. Beyond that, I wasn’t a big fan of the show. The wrestling wasn’t very good and the comedy more often than not fell flat. The build for Cyber Sunday was good enough, however.

I haven’t plugged any of my pieces recently, but I’ve been pretty active.

Frank Mir interview and write-up on the Ultimate Fighter is here:

Post-Strikeforce piece with thoughts from Ishida, Kawajiri and Misaki is here:

Andrei Arlovski interview and thoughts on Affliction and EliteXC is here:

Opinion piece on MMA promotion and EliteXC’s Kimbo Slice predicament is here:

Chris Leben interview and preview of the Michael Bisping fight went up today here:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 10/06/08 from Seattle, WA.

The Big News: Raw was fun, but didn’t make much sense.

Show Analysis:

Chris Jericho came out to start the show. He said that Mike Adamle wouldn’t be at Raw, so he was put in charge. He pointed out that he retained his title at No Mercy, but then noted Shawn Michaels permanently disfigured him. The camera zoomed in on a nasty looking chipped tooth. Between the bruising on his cheek and the freaky tooth he looked like a character from the video game The Condemned.

Jericho said that he will have to look at that for the rest of his life, but when he does so he will smile because he beat Michaels in Michaels’ match. Jericho added that he is through with Michaels, and announced Michaels vs. Lance Cade in a no-DQ match on Raw. He said that everyone will have to acknowledge his dominance.

Batista came to the ring and congratulated Jericho. He then told Jericho to pick a number, because that will be the number of days before Batista takes his title shot. Jericho said he will find a way to beat Batista and he will make sure Batista’s name is synonymous with failure. He then told Batista to get out of his ring, but Batista responded by giving him a spine buster. During a commercial break, Jericho said that JBL and Batista would meet again on Raw for the number one contender status with Jericho as referee. This was an entertaining segment, and Chris Jericho was tremendous again.

Santino and Beth Phoenix beat Jamie Noble and Mickie James. Santino said prior to the match that he has been criticized for being too ethnic, so he has made an effort to be more American for the people. He announced his new favorite NBA team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. This of course got cheap heat. Santino added, “The NBA: it’s terrific.” The crowd didn’t react at all, but I popped huge for that one. This wasn’t much of a match. Beth grabbed Noble’s tights in the corner and when he freed himself Santino rolled him up for the pin.

William Regal and Layla were at ringside and after the match Regal and Noble had an awesome brawl. Regal went absolutely nuts. They then cut backstage, where Shawn Michaels said that Jericho wants Cade to do his dirty work. Michaels said he would show he has plenty of gas left in the tank.

Ted DiBiase beat Kofi Kingston. Manu and Cody Rhodes were out there, so Punk joined the scene to even the odds. Kofi hit punches, a dropkick, a top rope frog crossbody and the side Ghanan leg sweep. He was going for the high double leg drop but Cody got on the apron. Punk knocked Cody off the apron, but Kofi stopped going for the leg drop, instead walking away from DiBiase to look at Cody on the floor. DiBiase of course came up from behind with the million dollar drop for the pin.

I absolutely hate this form of the distraction finish. It makes the face look like such a complete moron. If you are in control of a match and someone stands on the apron, you are an unbelievable moron if you stop what you’re doing, turn your back on your opponent, and investigate this disturbance. It is a cartoonish level of incompetence that is at least borderline acceptable for a referee but inexcusable for a face the fans are supposed to believe in.

Chris Jericho approached Randy Orton backstage. He said they don’t like each other, but neither wants Batista as the number one contender. Why Orton would prefer JBL as number one contender to Batista I’m not exactly sure, but Jericho enlisted his help anyway.

They aired a pair of really well done video packages on John Cena. The first package went over his injury and they sold that it came from his match with Batista. They then went over his surgery, and the doctor said he will be back in three to four months. The second vignette talked about how Cena came back to the show after going through surgery. These were very effective in putting over Cena’s heart and passion for the business.

Kane and Mark Henry beat Matt Hardy and Rey Mysterio. Matt hit a chop block on Kane and teamed with Rey for a double dropkick. The heels gained control on Matt for a spell, but he got the tag to Rey. Rey hit a springboard leg drop to Henry, but Kane punched Rey in the back of the head. Jared Shaw does not approve. Because, you know, it’s all about fairness and playing by the rules.

The heels worked over Rey. Henry stood on him. However, Kane missed a clothesline off the top and Rey made the tag to Matt. Matt hit a swinging neck breaker on Kane. Kane went for the choke slam, but Matt escaped and hit a bulldog off the second rope. Matt dumped Henry to the outside and set up Kane for the 619. Matt went to the top rope but Henry hurled Rey into the top rope. That knocked Matt off and Kane gave him a choke slam for the pin. That was a cool finish.

Shawn Michaels beat Lance Cade. Cade hit a clothesline, dropped Michaels on the announce table, and sent him through a table on the floor with a sidewalk slam. That was about it, however, as Michaels gained control of a chair. Michaels repeatedly hit Cade with the chair all over his body ala Steve Austin vs. The Rock at WrestleMania XVII. Michaels pinned Cade, but continued to fume in the corner after the match. He grabbed the chair again and kept hitting Cade even more with the chair.

If they want to elevate Cade, they need to do something to differentiate him. He’s got generic music, generic tights, a generic look and a generic style. He’s a good performer but he needs something to distinguish him.

Jerry Lawler got in the ring to announce that at Cyber Sunday fans will be able to choose Santino’s opponent. The options are Roddy Piper, Goldust or the Honky Tonk Man. This was clearly meant to build towards Honky, but the crowd surprisingly didn’t react much to him. You have to pay a dollar to vote this year, by the way. Yeah, right.

Great Khali came out to plug a segment he did with some jackass from Jackass. The guy wanted to know if Khali is well hung. Khali found this inappropriate, and invited him to Raw next week. These angles with D-list celebrities have the exact opposite of the intended effect. Khali then hosted Kiss Cam. It built to him kissing Lillian. He has been drifting into comedy face mode quite frequently in recent months.

Kelly Kelly beat Jillian Hall. Jillian prior to the match sung Smells Like Teen Spirit. Sadly, this wasn’t the cue for DDP to give her the diamond cutter. As for the match, I couldn’t concentrate at all so I have no idea what happened. Of course, I’m not complaining.

That’s because Miz, John Morrison and Cryme Tyme were doing commentary. They bickered back and forth in the most ridiculous manner imaginable. This started out absurd but over time it got better and better. By the end it was absolutely hilarious. They were playing the dozens, only you couldn’t hear any of the jokes because there was literally never a point where less than 2 people were talking at the same time. This was the greatest segment ever. It was a total sensory overload, absurdist comedy of the highest order.

Batista beat JBL in the main event. This was basically a recreation of Steve Austin vs. Dude Love from Over the Edge 1998. Chris Jericho was the special referee, William Regal the special timekeeper and Randy Orton the special commentator.

Chris Jericho basically cheated throughout. Batista hit a shoulder block, but Jericho was slow to count. JBL hit a swinging neck breaker and Jericho did a fast count. JBL then went for the pin again and Jericho did a normal count for some reason. Batista got a cover and Jericho didn’t count. Regal jumped Batista while Jericho was talking with JBL. Jericho tripped Batista, and that was the final straw. Batista gave JBL and Jericho a double spear.

At that moment, who should appear but Mike Adamle, who apparently got out of the meeting he was at and returned to Raw just in case Jericho was incapacitated in the closing moments of the show. He had a referee come down to the ring. Batista then hit the Batista bomb for the pin. Adamle then announced at Cyber Sunday Jericho will defend against Batista with the fans picking the referee from Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels or Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Final Thoughts:

I thought this show was fun. It was paced well with entertaining segments and quality character development. But it also was off the charts illogical. I’m fine with wrestling having its own rules, but this show was devoid of internal logic.

They start with the premise that the GM is unavailable because of a meeting that couldn’t be scheduled any of the other days of the week, but had to be scheduled on the day of the show he is in charge of. Okay, fine. So the solution to this problem is they make the champion of the show the general manager. Like if Bud Selig were tied up one day and he put David Ortiz in charge of baseball operations.

But fine, let’s accept that as well even though it makes no sense. Jericho now is angry at Batista and has say over who the number one contender is. And we’ve established Jericho is a character who will do anything to keep his title. So Jericho wants to screw Batista out of his number one contender status.

Does Jericho just strip Batista of the status and name Jimmy Wang Yang the number one contender? No, he sets up this match to decide it and stacks the deck. Because working as a crooked referee is just unfair enough but taking the title shot away altogether would be too unfair.

Okay, fine. So maybe Jericho’s stupid in his strategy. But who does he choose as the opponent for Batista? The guy he wants to win? Why, JBL. The guy who tried to kill Jericho earlier this year, and who Jericho just three weeks ago blew off and said he didn’t want to give a title shot to under any circumstances. What exactly is Jericho thinking, again? Let’s assume he changed his mind on JBL in the intervening weeks.

That brings us to the main event. Jericho is cheating away, trying to rip off Batista. But he’s knocked out by Batista. What should happen at precisely that moment? Why, the general manager Mike Adamle shows up in a total deus ex machina moment. Apparently, he arrived at the show after the meeting that was scheduled on the same day, just in case Jericho would get injured and would be unable to perform his duties as GM in the closing moments of the show.

Where exactly was Mike Adamle? Did he have a meeting with the McMahons in Connecticut and then fly five hours across the country and zoom to the building to be there at the very end of the show, just in case? Or did they fly out to Seattle to meet with him, only to schedule the meeting directly in conflict with the show rather than in the morning or afternoon?

But, fine. Let’s assume there’s a really good explanation for all of that. Why exactly did Adamle even feel the need to intervene? Was Jericho so incapacitated by a spear that he wouldn’t be able to continue for the rest of the night? Or was it so imperative that there not be a 30 second delay in GM coverage while Jericho recovered his senses?

The bottom line is simply that the motives of the chief characters in this story make no sense whatsoever. It’s not like this any of this is a huge deal. But the fact that this is just wrestling isn’t a good excuse for gaping logic holes. WWE wants to target higher end audiences. Well, a good way to attract them is by presenting a product that you can watch and make sense of without completely turning off your brain. WWE failed on that account tonight.