Tuesday, November 04, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 11/03/08 from Tampa, FL

The Big News: Raw celebrated its third episode with a special 800 hour edition of the show.

Show Analysis:

Given that this was episode 800 of Raw, they aired historic Raw clips throughout the show. It felt flat to me given they did the same gimmick less than a year ago for 15 years of Raw and released a three disc DVD on the subject to boot. Randy Orton came out to start the show and took a seat at ringside until Shane and Stephanie McMahon responded to his ultimatum that either Mike Adamle goes or he goes.

Matt and Jeff Hardy wrestled MVP and The Brian Kendrick. Can you guess who did the job? The Hardyz were successful early with double teams but the heels briefly took over. Kendrick hit a low dropkick and went for the Kendrick, but Jeff escaped and made the tag. Matt hit a bulldog/clothesline combination and a side effect on MVP. Matt went for the twist of fate but MVP escaped. The finish was a reversal of old face/heel tag matches. MVP made the tag to Kendrick but the referee didn’t see it. As the referee escorted Kendrick from the ring, Matt and Jeff double teamed MVP with a twist of fate and swanton to score the pin. I liked the finish.

William Regal won an 8 man battle royal to earn an Intercontinental title shot. The participating wrestlers kind of branded the title at a low level, but that’s nothing new. Priceless dumped Snitsky together, but then Ted DiBiase eliminated Cody Rhodes and Manu. Regal took out Jamie Noble. DiBiase got rid of JTG and then disposed of Shad. Regal finally jumped DiBiase from behind to score the victory. Next week Raw is in England to Regal will be the face. That should be fun.

Shane McMahon came to the ring to address Randy Orton. Mike Adamle joined them, and said that he wanted to be a neutral general manager and not take sides. He said he thought that made him special, and seemingly was about to cry. He continued that when he slapped Orton he became what he didn’t want to be. He concluded that the job corrupted him and he resigned. Adamle’s acting here was bizarre, much like his entire tenure as GM.

Randy Orton said that Adamle owed him an apology. Shane said that in fact Orton owed Adamle an apology. Shane said he spoke to Orton’s doctors and that Orton has been cleared to compete for weeks. Orton said he wanted to return at Survivor Series, but Shane instead told him he would be wrestling CM Punk on Raw.

Vladimir Kozlov beat Bret “Hitman” Haas. This was not a very good imitation, and the fans didn’t react at all. I’m not sure whether that’s because most of the current WWE audience doesn’t know Bret very well or because they aren’t at all into Haas. Haas said Kozlov screwed Kozlov, which got absolutely no reaction. Kozlov won quickly with the head butt.
DX returned again. They’re kind of like Roger Clemens by this point. They did a comedy promo before their match. Michaels said he couldn’t get over how Miz and John Morrison were mocking them, and talked about HHH’s big nose. HHH blamed the camera. Michaels said that you can mock his kids, punch his wife in the face, but that you can’t insult his chaps. Is it really worth emphasizing that even your most serious storylines from only a few months ago are fake and unimportant for the sake of a one-liner?

HHH then said he was annoyed at them for mocking Michaels going bald. Michaels said he didn’t recall that, and that we should never speak about that again. They then showed high school photos of Miz and Morrison and made fun of them. Eventually Miz and Morrison came out. The positive of this segment was that HHH and Michaels were mostly funny, particularly compared to the rest of the “comedy” on the show. There were two negatives. First, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler were doing their uproarious fake laughter that undermined the jokes. Second, they treated Miz and Morrison like total jokes.

HHH and Shawn Michaels beat Miz and John Morrison. While the promo buried Miz and Morrison, the match itself made them look stronger than I expected. Michaels hit an inverted atomic drop, body slam and top rope elbow on Miz. He went for sweet chin music but Morrison stopped that. They worked over Michaels, who hit an enzuigiri on Morrison and got the tag to HHH. HHH gave Morrison a high knee and face buster and Miz a spine buster. Morrison did Michaels’ flying forearm, nip up and sweet chin music on HHH. Miz then went for the pedigree on HHH but HHH escaped. Michaels gave Miz sweet chin music and HHH hit the pedigree for the pin.

JBL suggested himself as general manager to Shane McMahon. Shane suggested instead that he wrestle on Raw. For some reason, JBL assumed that Shane meant he would be included in a three way cage match for the title. Shane instead said that JBL would wrestle the Undertaker.

Beth Phoenix, Layla, Jillian Hall, Natalya, Katie Lea, Victoria, Maryse and Lena beat Kelly Kelly, Candice Michelle, Mickie James, Michelle McCool, Brie Bella, Eve Torres, Tiffany and Mae Young. The match was brief and really brutal. Mae is sadly completely immobile by this point so she basically held up her arms and the heels all tried to bump around for her. Key word: tried. This was hardly Dusty, Tully and Arn. Beth rolled up Mae for the pin. This was a unique match. Never in the history of professional wrestling has a match had a lower ratio of people in a match to people doing stuff.

CM Punk beat Randy Orton via DQ. Punk hit a springboard clothesline, punches, a spinning back fist, high kick and high knee. Orton escaped the bulldog and set up for the RKO. At that point, Ted DiBiase inexplicably ran in and attacked Punk for the DQ. Why? What is this man’s motivation? If he hates Punk, which is the story, why wouldn’t he wait for him to be pinned and then jump him? Why would he possibly interfere at the precise moment that Orton was most in control?

This makes no damn sense, other than they wanted Orton to return, they didn’t want Punk to lose, and they wanted Orton to look strong. But sorry, that is not the character’s motivation. That is the booker’s motivation, and the fans don’t give a shit about the booker’s motivation. A character should have a reason for the things that they do. This is kind of fundamental to any story telling endeavor. If you can’t rationally explain why a character is going to do something, don’t book that character to do that thing!

Orton responded to this by punting DiBiase in the head. The crowd chanted “RKO” which I’m pretty sure was not the desired reaction. They carted off DiBiase, and those two idiots Rhodes and Manu were bewildered why Orton did that. Orton said that he was kicking some sense into DiBiase, and that if they had a problem they should do something about it. They didn’t, so Orton said there may be hope for them.

Stephanie McMahon met with Mike Adamle backstage. Adamle said that the McMahons were always undermining him and contradicting each other. Adamle said that Stephanie is a megalomaniac. Stephanie told him not to blame her for his inadequacies, and said that controlling Raw is her birthright. Wow, it’s like a glimpse into the writers’ meetings. Shane told Stephanie he had an announcement that she didn’t know about.

Undertaker beat JBL via count out. This was another nothing match with another crap finish. Undertaker dominated. He hit a choke slam and went for the tombstone, but JBL escaped. JBL and Taker bumped heads and JBL fell to the floor. JBL got up but decided not to re-enter the ring and was counted out. Shawn Michaels then ran out and threw JBL back into the ring for a tombstone.

Shane McMahon backstage told Chris Jericho that if he beat Batista he would defend the title at Survivor Series against John Cena. There will be more on this in the final thoughts.

The fun continued with Kung Fu Naki, Hornswoggle, Boogey Man, Goldust, Sgt. Slaughter, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Dusty Rhodes, Teddy Long, Jesse, Festus, Lilian, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler dancing in the ring. This was supposed to be funny, I think, but they showed the crowd in the background and everyone was just blankly starring, not reacting, dancing, laughing or anything else. Ron Simmons said “damn” and that was that. Total crap.

Kane and Mark Henry beat Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio. This was another very brief match. The faces got a little offense for like a minute. Kofi went for a frog crossbody off the top but he got caught by Henry with the world’s strongest slam for the pin. After the match, Great Khali made the save with chops. He’s now pretty much officially a face, and the crowd did react positively to that one.

Another weird segment was up next. Stephanie said that she liked John Cena challenging for the title at Survivor Series, but wished that Shane consulted her first. They then said that Vince would be proud of what they’re doing, like he is dead or something.

Chris Jericho beat Batista in a cage match to regain the title. Batista hit a power slam, clothesline, and sent Jericho into the cage. Jericho went for the Walls, but Batista pushed Jericho away through the ropes. Jericho screwed up and lost his hold of the ropes, so he then had to desperately grab the cage and pull himself back in to keep from winning. This was the most obvious blown “escape the cage” spot I think I’ve ever seen in a WWF/WWE cage match.

Jericho went for the code breaker but Batista threw him into the cage. Batista went for the spear but ran into the cage. Jericho tried to climb out, but Batista caught him by going through the door. Batista hit a spine buster and went for the Batista bomb off the top, but Jericho grabbed a steel rig from the top of the cage and hit Batista with it. Jericho tried to climb out. Batista grabbed him by the air, but Jericho kicked him and escaped. This was a great finish.

Final Thoughts:

This was a terrible show. The booking was mostly crappy. The wrestling was mostly crappy. The comedy was mostly crappy. And it lasted forever. I think that Raw for most of this year has been good, but at some point this fall it fell off a cliff and now Raw is like Homer Simpson tumbling down Springfield Gorge. For the love of God I hope he hits the bottom soon.

The booking on Raw right now is so awful. John Cena is returning and rather than slowly building him towards an important title match they put him in a title match in his first match back. He hasn’t done anything to “earn” the shot, and the title shot adds nothing to what you already have with his return. You then have the choice of beating John Cena in his first match back, switching the title for the third time in a month or providing a crap finish to the biggest match on one of your bigger shows. Have they formulated a plan for this finish? That’s a serious question. I’m not sure they’ve gotten that far.

It certainly wouldn’t be an anomaly. Did they have a plan when they booked Chris Jericho vs. Batista for the title? The scenario where Jericho lost the title just two months into his run and then won it back again two weeks later certainly didn’t help anyone involved. It seriously undercut Chris Jericho’s momentum as a heel, made Batista look like an overconfident fool, and devalued the title. It’s like they booked Batista vs. Chris Jericho for the title without thinking through a finish, and then had to throw something together with no ideal options. Again, the show desperately needs long term booking.

Yet another example of that is Randy Orton. He has been a hot performer in recent weeks. Clearly his return should have been presented as a big deal, both because it could have helped make a show feel important and because it would provide him some momentum coming back into the top picture. Instead, he returned with no advance notice, completely forgotten in the middle of a three hour show. If they had built up his return over a period of time, it would have made him feel so much more important. And even if you wanted to use him to help pop a rating on this week’s show, you should have advertised it last week! This is not hard stuff.

And to boot, you have Orton immediately face CM Punk, in what presumably is a feud you should have set up and built for a major show. Did he face Punk immediately because they had some plan to set up something big? Why, of course not. Rather, it seems they just came up with the idea for the match and then pulled out a completely illogical conclusion just so they didn’t have to provide a finish.

Even if the booking wasn’t pull out your hair horrendous, it wasn’t like this show provided good entertainment. They had three hours but only one match was really given time to breathe. Everything else felt rushed. There was one comedy segment after another and the majority bombed. All around, this was just not a good show.

On the plus side, this show will be completely forgotten about by this time tomorrow, so get out and vote. We can’t vote for a better WWE writing team, but we can vote for a better government.

3 Comments:

Anonymous tyson kaethler said...

the Adamle thing was so weird. he still botched so many lines, and then as you mentioned, was close to tears which made me burst out laughing.

It's too bad about Punk and Orton. They probably could have had a good PPV match. If this was a total blow off of that build, they should have given it like 15 minutes, which would help showcase Orton and maybe present half of the tag champs as a serious thing.

A lot of segments on this show seemed more focused on just showing the audience what WWE has to offer in terms of their roster, short of like an infomercial. So instead of good matches, they threw as many segments with as many superstars as they could. Cause honestly, when you think of Raw, you don't think of motherfucking Funaki and Festus. This show should have had at least a few more longer matches.

I was happy Jericho won the belt back, but I can see he probably did so he can drop it to Cena.

I know you said the belt changing hands like that devalues the title, but did you feel the same way in the Attitude era? If I recall correctly, a lot of times that belt, and many other belts, were switching hands constantly, sometimes on a monthly or even weekly basis. I don't necessarily think hot-shotting the belt is the best thing, but I think it might help keep fans' interest. In 2008, peoples' attention spans are the shortest they've ever been. I think a lot of people tune out sometimes or lose interest because they always know what's going to happen. A popular slogan thrown around by Cena haters was "same old shit" with Cena holding the belt inside a toilet. I think if they keep things constantly changing and fresh, as long as it's planned ahead, it will help keep people on their toes about what happens next.

5:16 AM  
Anonymous the masterbater said...

I feel bad for you Todd because you have to watch Raw all the way through to give us this report. This Raw just sounded bad and when I turned the channel to see what is going on in Raw it was just unbearable to watch. The match with all the women wrestling was horrendous! I mean I know wrestling is staged but damn can you make it believable at least? I mean back in the days they at least tried to make it believable. Then the DX segment was awful awful awful, I mean can I see finally the day where DX gets mugged like how the NWO did to the Horsemen? I mean you would feel bad for Ric Flair but he had it coming for all the times he did in Sting but I don’t think I would feel bad at all if I see some group of young talent that needs to be pushed just beat the living hell out of HHH and maybe Shawn! I tried to watch Raw and couldn’t. It was at the point where I tried to watch Monday Night Football and get frustrated to watch my team getting squashed and then I tried to flip it to Raw where I just felt like my intelligence was insulted. It was a bad night for me.

8:16 AM  
Blogger AKFooFighter said...

What can I say? I'm still laughing along with Cole and Lawler. I'm so thankful for their helpful hilarity hints - I simply wouldn't be able to digest the comedic majesty of Paul L. without their background chuckling.

Oh yeah, and I still amazed at his posting:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/03/wwe-monday-night-raw-cele_n_140642.html

Happy Election Day, Todd and everyone else.

- Matt in Anchorage

12:08 PM  

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