Monday, December 29, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/29/08 from Manchester, NH.

The Big News: JBL earned a Royal Rumble title shot, with help from Shawn Michaels.

Show Analysis:

Rey Mysterio came out to start the show. He said that he respects Shawn Michaels and understands his troubles, but that they have a problem. Michaels came out. Rey told Michaels that he knows Shawn is a good person. He asked Michaels to be honorable and face Rey one-on-one with the winner advancing to the fatal four way. Michaels accepted but JBL came out and vetoed that. He ordered Michaels to leave, and after Michaels left Snitsky jumped Rey. John Cena made the save.

Randy Orton met backstage with Cody Rhodes, Sim Snuka and Manu. Orton said their group would be bigger than the Horsemen, Evolution or DX, but that he wouldn’t tolerate losers. He said that all three of them would wrestle on Raw, and that if any of them lost, they would be out of the group. I like the idea of an initiation, but the key to it working is that the junior members have to prove themselves to be valuable members of the team.

Cody Rhodes beat CM Punk via count out. William Regal was at ringside, and they announced he will meet Punk for the title next week. After all that build they probably should have saved it for a pay-per-view. Punk hit a crossbody off the top but Cody rolled through for a two. Punk hit a tope and high knee on the outside, but was distracted by Regal and Cody rolled into the ring for the count out. This was such an awful, contrived finish. Punk beat up Cody after the match but Regal came in with a running knee for Punk. They keep saying they want this group to be some legendary group, but at this point it’s Randy Orton and the Spirit Squad.

John Cena met with Stephanie McMahon backstage. He was annoyed that he was just scheduled to do commentary for the main event, and said this was lame. Speaking of lame, Cena then cut one of those lame, goofy promos that make Cena look like the most obnoxious loser on the face of the planet. Cena asked for a match that would “change life on his planet.” This was ungodly awful scripting. Goldust then did a comedy promo that miraculously may have been even worse than Cena’s. He told a series of jokes. Not one was remotely funny.

Melina won a battle royal to earn a women’s title shot. Beth and Santino did commentary. Katie Lea eliminated Candice and Jillian dumped Kelly. Mickie took out both Katie and Jillian. Melina finally eliminated Mickie to win. Melina hasn’t been good since returning nor has the audience taken to her, but it’s her “turn” so this was no surprise. Melina and Beth fought after the match and Rosa jumped the barricade to help Beth.

Chris Jericho backstage was annoyed about being named jerk of the year by WWE Magazine. He said that the real jerks are the fans. Sim Snuka then defeated Superhaas Charlie Snuka. Sim hit a knee drop, used a choke and landed a high knee. Haas came back with a flying forearm and back breaker but Sim got up his knees when Haas went for the superfly splash. Sim then hit a head kick for the pin.

John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston and Cryme Tyme beat Mike Knox, Kane, Dolph Ziggler, Miz and John Morrison. The heels worked over Kofi briefly, and he made the tag to Rey. Rey was going wild when Rey caught him with a punch and Miz power bombed him down. The heels then put the boots to Rey. Rey came back with a reverse top rope huracanrana on Morrison and tagged Cena.

Cena hit shoulder blocks on Knox. Kane went for a choke slam but Kofi broke it up with a dropkick off the top. Cena gave Knox and Dolph the Cena slam and teamed with Kofi for a simultaneous five knuckle shuffle and high double leg drop. Kofi gave Dolph trouble in paradise and Cena hit the FU on Knox. Cena tagged Rey, who hit Knox with a top rope splash for the pin. This was a very fun match.

Kelly Kelly backstage told Randy Orton that she protected him from Kane and thought that the night they had together was special. She wanted to know why he’s avoiding her. Orton said it wasn’t that special, that he used her, and that she’s pathetic. He said he didn’t need her as a distraction. Kelly did a great job selling this. And by great job selling this I mean that she was so unbelievably bad looking upset that they would have been better off dressing up Jim Duggan in drag and hoping people would be fooled into thinking it was actually Kelly.

Matt Hardy beat Manu. Matt hit a baseball slide, elbow drops and side effect. Manu avoided the twist of fate, and hit a neck breaker and corner avalanche. Matt then hit the twist of fate for the pin. So, the final scorecard for the initiation process: one junior dork fluke win, one junior dork clean loss and one junior dork win over one of the lowest guys on the totem pole.

JBL won a four way over Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton and Chris Jericho. Jericho hit the code breaker on JBL but Michaels made the save. Michaels tagged in and pinned Jericho with sweet chin music. Orton and JBL fought back and forth. Orton went for his kick but Michaels tagged in. Orton tried the RKO on Michaels but Michaels escaped and pinned Orton with sweet chin music. That was Michaels’ cue to lie down for JBL. Michaels hesitated forever and couldn’t do it. He instead stood there and let JBL give him the clothesline from hell for the pin.

Final Thoughts:

This show was a mixed bag. On the positive side, they nicely set up their key programs through WrestleMania, with Randy Orton against John Cena and JBL against Shawn Michaels. Hopefully they just stick with the obvious and avoid trying to swerve people. This show also had a good 10 man tag and a pretty good main event as well. On the negative side, there was a fair amount of bad comedy, and the Legacy angle once again buried Orton’s teammates when they should be and presumably are trying to help them.

Monday, December 22, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/22/08 from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The Big News: John Cena turned to a surprise tag team partner in Toronto.

Show Analysis:

Santino and Beth Phoenix started the show. Santino said that people have disrespected him for 12 months, so he would have some fun with the people. He had a secret to divulge to children about Santa Claus. Beth tried to stop him but he told her to shut up. Cena then showed up to save the day and said the secret was Santino doesn’t like Santa (Spoiler: there actually is no Santa Claus).

Santino and Beth challenged Cena and a partner to a match. Goldust was there, but Santino said someone with ovaries. Goldust replied, “Rats!” This actually cracked Santino up, and Cena agreed to a female partner. Santino said that when he won he would tell the secret of Santa.

Shawn Michaels beat Kane. Prior to the match, Kane apologized to Kelly for last week at the behest of Stephanie McMahon, but also wanted her to apologize for lying about the Miz. Michaels was greeted by loud and immediate chants of “you screwed Bret.” Remember when Vince talked about how Canada never got over the screw job, when in fact he was the one constantly booking angles around it? Well, now it really is Canada that isn’t over it.

Kane dominated with punches and clotheslines, but Michaels reversed a choke slam attempt into the crippler crossface. Kane hit a side slam and clothesline off the top, but Michaels again avoided the choke slam and hit sweet chin music for the pin.

Kofi Kingston beat Manu. Manu worked over Kofi with a cobra clutch. Kofi hit a frog crossbody and high double leg drop. Kofi went for the springboard crossbody. He was caught by Manu, but then flipped out with a crucifix cradle for the pin. I like Kofi, but they need to protect this Legacy group more.

Kelly and John Cena shook hands backstage, agreeing to be tag partners. Elsewhere, Sim Snuka wanted to join the Legacy. Randy Orton left the door open but didn’t want to talk to Manu or Cody Rhodes.

Shawn Michaels and CM Punk were chatting backstage when Triple H came in. He said Michaels wasn’t returning his calls. He said Shawn should have come to him for help, but Shawn said he had to get himself out of the problem because if he went to Triple H their friendship would never be the same. I don’t know if I buy that explanation, but I’m glad they made the effort to try to explain.

Mickie James and Melina beat Jillian and Layla. Melina’s outfit looked like what Sister Sherri would have worn if she wrestled when she managed Harlem Heat, and it even said “Sensational” on the back. William Regal did commentary, and noted the Intercontinental title means more to him than Layla. She’s just a woman, he said, and they’re two a penny. Jillian pushed Mickie off the top and the heels were in control briefly. Melina got the tag, and hit her leg drop move, face buster and the last call for the pin.

JBL beat Rey Mysterio via DQ. JBL is looking a lot more mobile these days. He went for a power bomb but it was reversed into a huracanrana and Rey followed with a pescado. JBL took over with a fall away slam, abdominal stretch, big clotheslines, elbow drops, a torture rack and a sleeper. Rey came back with a springboard senton, spinning head scissors, bulldog and tornado DDT. Rey went for the 619 but Shawn Michaels pulled JBL out of the ring and slapped JBL. The referee called for a DQ.

Huh? Okay, so if I run in and slap my friend in the middle of a match, he wins via DQ? Why don’t heels just do that whenever they’re in a tough match? And how is the slap a more actionable offense than blatantly interfering by pulling one combatant out of the ring when he’s about to be hit with a finishing move?

Randy Orton was to wrestle Batista, but Batista could not compete so Orton won via forfeit. Orton then cut a promo about how he has dreamed about taking out Batista for four years. He said that Christmas came early when he finally got to do it. The crowd began chanting “RKO.” Orton said Batista’s time is over and next time Batista sees him he will be the champion again.

Dolph Ziggler introduced himself to Kelly backstage. Miz and John Morrison then showed up, annoyed about last week. Miz wanted to know if Kelly was protecting Cena. Kelly said they were just tag team partners. Miz and Morrison informed Kelly that someone trashed her hotel room. She left the building to go check on that.

Chris Jericho beat CM Punk in a really fun match. Jericho was a big crowd favorite, although the crowd didn’t seem particularly anti-Punk. Punk was in control early with a springboard crossbody, kicks and a nasty looking high kick. Jericho hit a gut wrench suplex and the crowd began singing O Canada.

Jericho went for a superplex but Punk pushed him off and hit a top rope crossbody. Punk hit a power slam and went for the GTS but Jericho reversed into the Walls. Punk fought forever while the crowd chanted Y2J but Punk finally got out. Jericho went for the Walls again but Punk escaped. Punk hit a high knee and went for a springboard but fell right into the code breaker for the pin.

John Cena and Trish Stratus beat Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix. There were loud chants for Santino and Cena got the typical mixed reaction with a lot of boos. Santino acknowledged the Beth stalker character as Rosa Mendes. Cena said that Santa was there in Toronto and that he granted Cena a Christmas wish for a tag team partner, Trish. That was a great little surprise. Trish looks tremendous and got a nice reaction from the crowd.

They started with the men, then Trish came in with the Matrix move, a Thesz press and chops. Beth grabbed her by the throat, threw her into the turnbuckle, and hit a back breaker. Cena came in with shoulder tackles, a Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle for Santino. Cena went for the FU but Beth pulled Santino out. Trish gave Beth the chick kick and Cena hit the FU for the pin.

Final Thoughts:

This was a very enjoyable show. It felt like today’s ECW, in that it was built more around wrestling without overbooking every segment. I think it had the perfect mix of vignettes and wrestling, and I would love if every week were booked like this one. The four title shot elimination matches gave the show an overall direction, and Trish Stratus was a great surprise at the end. The unpredictable and enthusiastic crowd was also a plus.

Final Plugs:

I was on Alex Reimer’s No Holds Barred radio show on Thursday to talk about 2008 in pro wrestling. You can check that out here:

I’ll be in studio for MMA Nation with Luke Thomas of Bloody Elbow this Saturday from 4-6PM Eastern. It should be a fun listen going into UFC 92 that evening. You can listen to that on 106.7 WJFK in Washington DC or at:

I also have three new pieces up at First, for those looking for last minute gift ideas, I have a look at all the major MMA books released this year (Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, Tito Ortiz, Jonathan Snowden, Chuck Liddell) and which ones are worth purchasing:

There’s also a piece on Affliction’s press conference Wednesday, including thoughts from Andrei Arlovski, Josh Barnett, Thierry Sokoudjou and Matt Lindland:

Finally, I spoke with Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson about their fight on Saturday night. This piece goes over their feud in Pride and their preparations for a third encounter. I think there’s some interesting stuff on their approaches to the fight that you can’t find anywhere else:

Finally, I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/15/08 from Pittsburgh, PA.

The Big News: Randy Orton and the Legacy tried to take out Batista, and John Cena got drawn into the conflict.

Show Analysis:

Kelly Kelly and Melina beat Jillian Hall and Beth Phoenix. This felt like it lasted 90 seconds and ended abruptly with a Kelly rollup of Jillian. It was one of those matches that are so short and pointless that they would be better off just not having it because it makes matches in general seem so pointless. Beth and Jillian jumped Kelly after the match until Kane made the save. Kane offered his hand, but Kelly left. Kelly got booed for that, but the announcers made clear Kelly is supposed to be the face. Backstage, Kane chased Kelly into a dark room where he said they needed to talk.

Rey Mysterio beat Sim Snuka via DQ. Sim Snuka is Deuce, who said he wanted to be introduced by his real name. Of course, Sim Snuka isn’t his real name. God love WWE and their need to brand all their performers and fans. The announcers then speculated if Snuka was telling the truth that he’s Snuka’s son. That sure made them look like idiots. Cody Rhodes and Manu watched from ringside. Snuka hit a tilt-a-whirl side slam and high knee. Rey came back with a senton off the apron but bumped into Manu. Manu and Cody proceeded to jump Rey. Rey escaped but then ran into Mike Knox. Knox gave him the Knox out on the floor.

I’m sorry to say this for Snuka’s sake, but I hope they aren’t planning on adding him to the second generation clique as they are teasing. He has been buried so much by this point that it will just further weaken the status of Rhodes and Manu. I think the best option is for Snuka to want to join but for him to be rejected as unfit for the group. That will of course bury Snuka underground but it will help to get over the Legacy as an elite group where not just everyone with the right last name gets in.

They had another DX Christmas segment plugging WWE Shop zone. I didn’t mention these previously given that they are only commercials, but they actually have been very funny. This new one was no exception. However, they then immediately did a clunky segue into how the joking, stress free Shawn Michaels of the commercial was actually taped a few weeks ago before Michaels went completely bankrupt and had to turn to JBL for help.

Kelly was backstage trapped in a dark room with Kane and a camera man. Kane is apparently in love with Kelly because he presented an award with her last week. Kane accused her of leading him along. He offered to let her out, but then slammed the door and said that he knew she felt something for him. This was total comedy as Kelly is a dreadful actress and was overacting like crazy.

Randy Orton did an interview backstage where he challenged Batista to a rematch. He said that he hadn’t heard back and labeled Batista a coward. Batista showed up and said that he had an answer for Orton. Orton immediately slapped him and ran away to the ring. As Batista pursued, Manu and Cody jumped him from behind. The Legacy was beating down Batista when John Cena made the save. Randy Orton stood at the entrance seething. This was a great angle.

Batista thanked Cena backstage. They were informed they would be wrestling Cody, Orton and Manu in a handicap match later. I really think they should avoid doing these handicap matches. It just reminds me too much of the Spirit Squad and makes the heels seem inferior. Just have it 2 on 2 with the other guy interfering. That has the same face/heel dynamic without the promotion sending the implicit message that Cody and Manu are jobbers.

Jim Duggan was set to wrestle Chris Jericho but Jericho came out in a suit. He refused to wrestle. Jericho said that he is the superstar of the year and that it is a slap in the face for him to have to wrestle someone like Duggan. Jericho asserted he wouldn’t wrestle such a bottom of the barrel talent. He said he wouldn’t wrestle again until he has a match worthy of his talent. This was another good angle.

Kane and Kelly were still in that creepy room backstage. Kane wanted to know if Kelly wanted to get to know him. She said no. He concluded that there must be someone else. Kelly apparently gave up a name and Kane went storming out of the room. Kelly told Kane not to hurt “him.” Did I mention she’s a really bad actress?

Miz and John Morrison retained the tag titles defeating CM Punk and Kofi Kingston in a good match. William Regal watched from his thrown. The heels worked over Punk, who got the tag to Kofi. Kofi hit a frog crossbody, high dropkicks and a high double leg drop on Morrison. Punk hit a pescado on Miz. Kofi, however, missed a springboard crossbody and Morrison hit a springboard kick and the moonlight drive for the pin. Kane then came out and attacked Miz. He gave Miz a choke slam and tombstone.

JBL came out to show Shawn Michaels’ comments from the pay-per-view. This angle hits all the wrong notes. Nobody buys Shawn Michaels is in any trouble and the harder Michaels tries to sell it the more it just comes off as crass exploitation of the suffering of people with real troubles. Even if you buy the storyline, it strikes all the wrong cords. How is Shawn Michaels sympathetic under this story? He ran through millions of dollars because he’s an idiot and sold himself out because his main event wrestler salary isn’t enough money and he feels he’s above ever getting a real job. Let that character be humiliated by JBL. He deserves it.

Kelly was backstage with Candice and Mickie. She was upset. They wanted to know about Miz, and she was appalled. “Are you serious? The Miz?” she replied. Wow. She should be Shawn’s girlfriend. Let me get this straight. This girl is in a room on national television with Kane and a cameraman. This is so horrible and upsetting that she decides she needs to sacrifice some poor schmuck who did nothing to her. So this guy gets destroyed because she wrongly fingered him, and when he is brought up, her reaction is disgust that anyone could even think she would be associated with this poor guy who for all we know is in the hospital now. And she is supposed to be a face.

Dolph Ziggler beat Santa Claas. The crowd was into this, as they chanted “Santa” for Charlie. Thank God this was in Pittsburgh and not Philadelphia. Charlie gave Dolph a gift, but Dolph wasn’t feeling the Christmas spirit. They then had a nothing match. Dolph won with a dropkick and modified neck breaker.

Jim Duggan was approached by Cryme Tyme backstage, and they told Duggan that it was time. I assume we’ll find out what this means next week. Chris Jericho met with Stephanie McMahon backstage. Stephanie said she expects Jericho to perform when she says so. Jericho then said that Batista’s 30 day rematch clause expired, and now he has no claim.

Huh? Let me get this straight. Batista has a clause in his contract that says he gets a title shot within 30 days, unless the company refuses to give him one and then he no longer gets that title shot? What? Remember Batista came out and asked for his rematch right after losing the title. Stephanie told him he would get it later. Then he never did. I don’t care if Batista gets screwed out of his title shot. But what exactly is the meaning of this supposed rematch clause they’ve been trying to get over if it lasts for only 30 days and the company is allowed to turn down all requests for the rematch during that 30 day period? It makes no damn sense.

Stephanie then announced there would be four matches next week, that the winners would meet in a fatal four way the week after and the winner of that would get a title shot at the Royal Rumble. Randy Orton, Cody and Manu met backstage. Orton was annoyed that they failed to take out Batista. Orton said they would need to succeed or the group would be broken up.

Batista and John Cena beat Randy Orton, Manu and Cody Rhodes via DQ. Cena was booed. Cena and Batista were dominant early. The heels got heat on Batista, who tagged in Cena. Cena hit shoulder blocks, a Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle on Manu. He went for the FU, but Cody broke it up. The Legacy then worked over Cena. Cody missed a knee drop and Cena got the tag.

Batista hit clotheslines, a power slam and spine buster on Cody. Batista went for the Batista bomb, but Orton threw Manu into Batista to break that up. He then gave Batista an RKO. He directed Manu and Cody to beat up Cena on the outside, and hit Batista with the kick of death to the head in the ring. The heels were disqualified for double teaming Cena on the outside. This was a very well set up main event angle.

Final Thoughts:

The good news is that I think the big picture stuff right now is really good on Raw. Randy Orton is clicking on all cylinders and his feud with Batista and John Cena is working really well. There is also a lot of room for storyline growth, with Batista and Cena eventually turning on each other as Orton and the Legacy try to divide and conquer.

On the negative side, this show in particular reminded me of TNA where there were so many little mistakes from the beginning to the end. There are so many little details that don’t make sense, or that hit the wrong note in making you root for one wrestler over another. It reflects a lack of attention to detail, or perhaps more likely just that the writers don’t care. But internal logic is pivotal to any good story, and the lack of that logic undermines everything.

Final Plugs:

I’ve got a bunch of stuff coming at over the next couple weeks. There’s a piece on MMA books, and which ones would and wouldn’t make good Christmas gifts. That will run in the next couple days. I’ll be at the Affliction press conference Wednesday and will have a piece from there hopefully with quotes from Tito Ortiz, Andrei Arlovski, Tom Atencio and others. I’m also working on a piece on the Quinton Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva rivalry with exclusive quotes from each fighter.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/08/08 from Philadelphia, PA.

The Big News: The Slammy Awards are here! Can you contain your excitement for these most monumental of awards? And they’re the same week as the Video Game Awards! Christmas has truly come early this year, my friends.

Show Analysis:

Miz and John Morrison won tag team of the year. They had a big, sarcastic celebration. This led into CM Punk beating John Morrison to advance to the finals of the Intercontinental title shot tournament. Punk hit knees, a springboard crossbody to the floor and a huracanrana off the top. Morrison followed with a back breaker and side Russian leg sweep. Punk went for go 2 sleep, but Morrison reversed with a victory roll for two. Punk then hit go 2 sleep for the pin. This was a very good opener.

John Cena backstage cut one of those annoying, obnoxious cutesy scripted promos that make adult males hate him and lose interest in WWE in general. He talked about banning his dog from watching wrestling, like Chris Jericho’s son. Cena said he was coming to get Jericho.

Evan Bourne won best finishing maneuver, but Mike Knox took his trophy. Randy Orton then came out to complain about not being nominated for superstar of the year despite having beaten all the nominees. He dated this disrespect back to his Evolution days, and challenged Batista and HHH to a handicap match against himself, Cody Rhodes and Manu. There’s something about even a heel asking for a handicap match that comes off badly. It’s like even he acknowledges Cody and Manu are inferior. Orton said “the legacy is born” so The Legacy may be the name of their group.

Charlie Haas beat MVP. Jimmy Rollins was at ringside, and MVP began berating him. MVP ran down the Phillies, said that they are a fluke, and that they would never be a dynasty. That brought out Haas, playing MVC and parodying MVP. MVP dominated the entirety of the match, but MVC rolled him up at the very end for the pin.

The extreme moment of the year was Jeff Hardy diving into a crash pad. It should have been Butterbean diving into a crash pad. Chris Jericho then defeated Jeff Hardy. Jeff missed the swanton, and Jericho hit the lionsault. Jeff hit the whisper in the wind and went for the twist of fate, but Jericho escaped and hit the code breaker for the pin. This was fine, but they didn’t give them much time.

Edge and Vickie Guerrero won couple of the year. Vickie came out to accept the award and was very happy until the overwhelming boos upset her. Santino complained about this, and challenged any of the other couples to a match. Finlay and Hornswoggle proceeded to beat Santino and Beth Phoenix. Finlay hit clotheslines and an atomic drop on Santino. Hornswoggle followed with an implant DDT and frog splash on Santino for the clean pin. Great, now he’s jobbing to midgets. They then announced Beth Phoenix as diva of year. She was helping up Santino, but dropped him to go celebrate. She ended up getting into a fight with Melina, who presented the award.

The Oh My God moment of the year came next. They brought back Joey Styles. No, that wasn’t the Oh My God moment of the year, although it could have been. Instead, Styles presented the award to CM Punk for winning the title. Punk came out and said it has been his miracle year. Well, except for the ending. He thanked a long list of random people including Volk Han and Scotty Goldman.

Rey Mysterio beat Kofi Kingston to advance to the finals of the Intercontinental title shot tournament. This was a short letdown of a match. Rey went for the 619 but Kofi cut him off with a dropkick. Kofi missed a springboard crossbody and Rey rolled him up for the pin.

Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair won match of the year. Michaels came out to accept the award, but was interrupted by JBL. JBL accepted the award on behalf of Michaels for himself. He then walked off with the trophy and left Michaels standing there looking sad. This was absolutely hilarious.

Randy Orton, Manu and Cody Rhodes beat HHH and Batista. The heels worked over HHH. Batista tagged in and hit a body slam and spine buster on Manu. Cody came off the top but Batista threw Manu into him. Orton tagged in and tried to hit an RKO on Batista as Batista tried to hit a Batista bomb on Manu. HHH, however, cut him off and Batista went for the Batista bomb. Cody stopped that and Orton hit the RKO on Batista for the pin. This was a nice finishing sequence.

The damn moment of the year was the Great Khali kiss cam. Khali came out to give a speech about conservation. Khali and Mickie were then about to make out, but Jillian Hall interrupted to sing My Heart Will Go On. Kung Fu Naki, Howard Finkel, Sgt. Slaughter and Jim Duggan came out to dance and wave flags in the background while Mickie and Khali made out. Ron Simmons said damn. I’ve hated most of these types of segments of late, but this one amused me.

Dolph Ziggler beat R. Truth via count out. Boy, they really put over Ziggler. Truth clotheslined him over the top and hit a pescado. However, as they fought on the outside Ziggler got in first and won via count out.

Chris Jericho won superstar of the year. He was happy that the biased fans didn’t have a vote. Jericho said he was happy to rid himself of the albatross that was trying to please the fans. He said that he was once like Cena, a pandering, patronizing sycophant. Amen, brother. Jericho said he would close out this year by destroying Cena and taking back the title. Good luck with that one, Chris.

John Cena beat Edge via disqualification. This match was absolutely nothing. It was one of those matches that make matches in general feel pointless and irrelevant in WWE. Cena hit the five knuckle shuffle and went for the FU. Edge escaped but got caught in the STFU. Jericho then came out and brawled with Cena for the DQ. Afterwards HHH and Jeff Hardy came in. HHH fought off Edge and Hardy and the show ended with him dominant in the ring.

Final Thoughts:

Given that there was no need whatsoever for a three hour Raw this week, WWE did a pretty good job filling those hours. The wrestling was underemphasized and big matches were treated as nothing which is a long term negative, but as a one night show it kept my interest.

There is often discussion as to why many fans don’t tune in an hour early for Raw, even when it’s advertised constantly. The reasoning usually concentrates on fans not paying very close attention to the show. Well, my theory is that those fans know the show is three hours but they just have no interest in watching an extra hour of Raw. Two hours a week is enough and no matter what WWE promises, they just don’t want to watch an extra hour.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/01/08 from Washington, DC.

The Big News: The Slammy nominees for superstar of the year were announced. Start your office pools now!

Show Analysis:

Chris Jericho started the show backstage at the MCI Center concourse in Washington, DC. It was a familiar setting, what with Fill Up Buster in the background. Jericho said he doesn’t want to mingle with John Cena’s fans, and instead he hired security to keep fans from touching him. He entered through the crowd, noting he is different than Cena’s fans because he has accomplished his goals, takes pride in his appearance and has morals.

In the ring, Jericho said that none of these people were worthy of being his fans, but that one John Cena fan is worth saving, Jericho’s son. Jericho brought up when Cena beat him and he was removed from Raw. Jericho said at the time his son was only two and didn’t realize the legendary status of his father, and when his son did become a wrestling fan he became a fan of Cena. He talked about how his son used Cena’s catchphrases and mannerisms.

Jericho was disgusted as a father that his son’s hero was the guy who got him fired. Thus, Jericho banned his son from watching WWE. However, Jericho will let his son watch Armageddon so he can see Jericho take away Cena’s title. This was a strong promo and one that advanced Jericho’s character more than any promo in a while. The tie-in to the son was nicely executed.

Rey Mysterio was set to wrestle the Miz in the Intercontinental title shot tournament, but Mike Knox was waiting on the ramp and jumped Rey on the way to the ring. Stephanie McMahon backstage said Rey suffered an elbow injury. Layla asked Stephanie to remove Rey from the tournament since he couldn’t compete. Stephanie seemed to agree and Layla was greatly pleased. Why would she want that exactly? So someone would get a bye and be left healthier going into the title shot?

CM Punk and Kofi Kingston beat Manu and Cody Rhodes. Priceless worked over Punk, including a Cody double ax handle off the top and surfboard. Kofi got the tag and came in with a dropkick, side Ghanan leg sweep and high double leg drop on Cody. He finished Cody with the trouble in paradise.

Backstage, Randy Orton ran into Cody and Manu. Orton said he wouldn’t gloat, and said he saw potential in Manu and Cody. Orton suggested that they meet to discuss their collective potential. Elsewhere, Chris Jericho told Kane that people don’t think Kane can beat Cena and that he will tap out. Kane wasn’t fooled and said he wouldn’t be manipulated by Jericho’s mind games. Kane said that he loves the people and would do it for the people. I figured with a line like that he would set Cena on fire or something.

Melina beat Jillian Hall with the last call, which is kind of a sunset flip without the flip. This was a nothing match. Melina seems to me a natural heel and out of place as a face. Santino and Beth did commentary, and afterwards Santino tried to show up Melina by doing her splits spot. He of course failed. Michael Cole guffawed, and proved that his fake laugh is in fact obnoxious enough to kill off even Santino’s comedy.

They went backstage after a commercial break, and Santino was receiving a massage. However, it turned out to be Goldust rather than Beth. Santino shrieked and ran off. Cole once again broke into loud, fake laughter. I cannot overstate how annoying this is. It’s homicidal rage inducing.

JBL came to the ring and said he hadn’t heard back from Shawn Michaels on his offer. Thus, he had another offer, a Raw street fight. Michaels came to the ring. JBL said that in a financial crisis, Michaels is struggling. Meanwhile, JBL’s wife saw it coming so he stockpiled and invested in gold. JBL said that Michaels lost all his money, so JBL offered Michaels a job working for him. He said that Michaels could end up like the old washed-up wrestlers hawking Polaroids and autographs in high school gyms. That was a good line.

JBL encouraged Michaels to either take his offer or to take a shot at him and throw the offer away. Michaels was nearly in tears and he just left. Both Michaels and JBL turned in great performances here. It’s a good, emotional story. Unfortunately, the whole thing completely falls flat for me because I just don’t buy Michaels as a guy in financial trouble.

Michaels has made millions, has a multi-million dollar contract, and is best buddies with Triple H. Michaels has more financial security than just about anyone in the entire business, even if he is the worst investor in the world. It’s like they had a great script for a movie about an aging Hollywood starlet struggling to maintain her career in an industry dominated by younger women and then they cast Scarlet Johansson for the part. Or they decided to revive ECW and made Stephanie McMahon the leader. Anyway, this was a good idea, good execution, but just an awful choice for the role in Michaels.

Batista beat Dolph Ziggler. Dolph slapped Batista, hit a neck breaker and used some elbow drops. But he was caught coming off the ropes with a spine buster and given the Batista bomb for the pin in four minutes or so. Not that I care about Dolph Ziggler, but why do you job out any new character in his first match? Why even bother using the TV time to introduce him if you’re going to brand him as a jobber in his first match? With booking like this it’s no wonder the main event scene has been stale for years and years. Batista will wrestle Randy Orton at Armageddon.

Chris Jericho met with Randy Orton. Jericho said that after Cena wrestles Kane, they should jump Cena and destroy him. Orton said he is against Cena, but that he won’t fight Jericho’s battles. Orton said he will take out Batista and then the champion, no matter if it is Cena or Jericho. Jericho, however, noted to Orton that John Cena is always overshadowing Orton.

John Morrison beat Finlay to advance in the Intercontinental title shot tournament. Morrison worked over Finlay’s neck. Finlay came back with clotheslines and a senton, but Morrison laid out Hornswoggle. This distracted Finlay, who was kicked into the steps and hit with a springboard enzuigiri for the pin.

Stephanie McMahon announced the nominees for superstar of the year at the Slammies: Edge, Batista, Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, HHH and John Cena. What, you were expecting Nigel McGuinness or Georges St. Pierre? She said they would be in action next week against each other: Hardy vs. Jericho, Edge vs. Cena and HHH vs. Batista. HHH vs. Batista didn’t get as much of a pop as I would have expected. Stephanie started to announce HHH vs. Batista first and when a graphic for Hardy vs. Jericho appeared she said she pulled an Adamle. That poor guy.

Rey Mysterio beat Miz. After all that setup, Rey just came out, selling the injury. Rey hit the 619 but missed a splash off the top. Miz worked him over a bit but Rey rolled up Miz for the pin. This wasn’t much.

John Cena beat Kane. Kane missed a clothesline off the top, and Cena applied the STFU. Jericho ran out and Cena let go of the hold to attack Jericho. He laid out Jericho again, but when he went into the ring he got caught with a big boot. Kane went for the choke slam but Cena escaped and hit the FU for the pin. After the match, Cody, Manu, Orton and Jericho jumped Cena. Orton gave Cena a scary looking DDT on the floor. Jericho got his shots in and applied the walls. They certainly seemed to be teasing Orton vs. Cena for the Royal Rumble.

Final Thoughts:

This was a mixed bag show. I liked a number of the segments, and the build for the pay-per-view was generally pretty good. On the other hand, the wrestling wasn’t very good and the booking didn’t light up my world.

I want to thank Jeuron Dove for filling in last week. Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving holiday. I had a tremendous weekend of turkey, friends and trivia/air hockey beatdowns.