Raw Drives Me Insane - 1/26/09
The Big News: TNA Impact ain’t got nothing on this shit.
Randy Orton came out with Legacy, lawyers and a therapist. Yes, you read that right. He first wanted to discuss what happened last week on Raw. Apparently what happens with the McMahons is more important than the title and the WrestleMania main event. Orton says that he has IED, and read a statement explaining what that is. It was totally goofy to the point it was like comedy.
Orton blamed what happened to Vince on IED and said he isn’t responsible. He said his therapist appraised WWE of this condition and WWE did nothing. Orton said that if he’s fired he will sue Stephanie and WWE. He then threatened a second lawsuit, where he will sue for breach of contract if he isn’t put in the Mania main event. He then read a statement apologizing to Vince.
This segment was such an utter disaster on every level. Orton was working phenomenally as a heel because he was this evil, manipulative viper character. It fit him perfectly and was clicking like no other character he’s ever portrayed. So what do they do? They turn him into a chickenshit heel that hides behind lawsuit threats. Besides being a complete 180 to anyone who has watched the show for the last six months, it’s all wrong for Orton. This is what they were doing with Jericho. Orton is not Jericho. He has different skills as a performer. And Jericho as champion drew poor business, so it’s not like this is a glory period we’re trying to recreate.
The only possible explanation I can come up with for this nonsense (other than incompetence or a desire to hold Orton down) is that they’re worried Orton is becoming too much of a face. What is so wrong with some fans cheering him? That’s just the nature of wrestling in 2009, and Orton is able to combat it better than most. And their solution is a failure on every level. It makes him significantly less effective as a heel right now, it will make him even less effective as a face if and when he turns, and it’s so inconsistent with the way he has behaved for months that it’s like he’s not even the same character.
Miz and John Morrison beat Cryme Tyme. The heels worked over JTG, who got the tag to Shad. Shad came in with clotheslines and punches. He gave Morrison a power slam and STO, but Miz broke up the pin. Shad gave Miz a big boot, but Morrison used the opportunity to hit the moonlight drive for the pin.
They announced an elimination chamber match for the Raw title at No Way Out. The idea of elimination chambers at No Way Out is a great one, but it should be for the unclaimed title shots at WrestleMania, not the actual titles. It makes no sense that the challenger is in a better position going into the most important show of the year than the champion, and that’s precisely the situation here.
I’ve never really liked the idea of ostensibly stripping the champion of his title and putting him in a six way match without a very specific and well explained reason, but it is particularly absurd in the final buildup to the biggest show of the year. It makes the title feel like a prop as opposed to a symbol of the best wrestler. Particularly when the participants end up qualifying in a series of nothing three minute TV matches against midcarders.
Moreover, a big match benefits from longer build, and trying to create five title challengers at the same time necessarily creates a gigantic distraction from what you ultimately plan to be your money match just a month later. Having an elimination chamber to fill the vacant title shot augments the benefits of the Rumble; having one for the title undermines the benefits of the Rumble.
Kofi Kingston beat Kane to earn a spot in the elimination chamber. Kane went for a choke slam but Kofi worked his way out and rolled up Kane for the quick pin. Again, this doesn’t do wonders for the significance of the title a month before WrestleMania.
Chris Jericho came out and they aired a clip from The Wrestler. Idiocy then commenced, as Jericho complained about what Mickey Rourke said on the red carpet. They aired a clip of an entertainment reporter asking Rourke about doing something with WWE. Rourke then alluded to coming for Jericho at WrestleMania and cut a comedic promo. I can’t believe they aired this.
The Rourke clip was not him providing any motivation to explain him coming for Jericho. He was just acknowledging he would be doing a wrestling angle. Rourke, the interviewer and anyone watching with a brain knew that he was talking about this program as fake, and I can’t recall a successful wrestling angle that ever started with one of the participants acknowledging that they were about to embark on a fake wrestling angle.
Chris Jericho then said that it’s one thing to pretend to be a wrestler in a movie and it’s another to be a wrestler, which I took to mean Jericho is annoyed that Rourke is coming in to do a program with him. Maybe Jericho can promise to shoot on Rourke and the announcers can talk about how unprofessional Jericho is for not working with Rourke like Vince Russo did in the dying days of WCW at New Blood Rising.
I mean, seriously, this is how they are starting what could be a big program with Mickey Rourke? By airing footage of Mickey Rourke acknowledging that he’s doing a wrestling angle? There are a million fascinating ways to use Rourke, and this is the best they could do?
Backstage, Shawn Michaels and JBL spoke. JBL didn’t like being given the superkick at the Rumble. Michaels said he had to lower John Cena’s guard, and that he did everything he could to help JBL win. JBL said that was a false assumption, but that there was still business to be done. JBL told Michaels to be the showstopper one more time, and earn him a spot in the Elimination Chamber.
John Cena beat Shawn Michaels, so JBL didn’t qualify for the chamber. Michaels and Cena traded punches. Cena went for a bulldog but Michaels avoided it and slapped Cena. Cena slapped him back. Cena went for the FU and STFU but Michaels escaped. Cena hit shoulder blocks and the Cena slam. He went for the five knuckle shuffle, but Michaels grabbed him in the crossface. Cena powered up and tried the FU but Michaels grabbed the ropes.
Cena then applied the STFU, but Michaels got to the ropes. Michaels hit a slam and went for the elbow off the top, at which point JBL inexplicably distracted Michaels by repeatedly telling at him to superkick Cena. When Michaels continued for the elbow, JBL got on the apron to distract him some more. Cena then shoved JBL into Michaels, who fell off the ropes. Cena hit the FU for the pin.
Beth Phoenix and Jillian Hall beat Melina and Kelly Kelly. Santino did commentary. The heels worked over Kelly. Kelly was going for the tag when Rosa came out of nowhere to pull Melina off the apron. Kelly couldn’t make the tag and was given the glam slam for the pin. I liked the clever and unexpected finish here.
Rey Mysterio beat William Regal to qualify for the chamber in a brief match that was good while it lasted. Regal brawled for most of the match with punches and kicks. Rey came back with a 619 and springboard splash for the pin. Backstage, Rosa told Santino she needed to do something for Beth after what happened at the Rumble. Beth teased anger, but instead said that they could keep her.
Chris Jericho beat CM Punk to qualify for the chamber. Punk hit a springboard clothesline and huracanrana off the top. Punk went for the GTS but Jericho rolled through. There was a series of pinning attempts. Jericho went for the Walls but Punk escaped. Jericho then hit a botched code breaker for the pin. The match, other than the finish, was good despite being too short.
That brought us to the final segment, and what a segment it was. Stephanie came out, and she’s a bad ass. She said she’s not backing down to Orton, and called him out. Orton isn’t as tough as Stephanie, so he came out with Legacy, his lawyers and his therapist as backup. Orton’s lawyer stood up to Stephanie, but she stared him down and he backed off.
Orton told Stephanie that if she continued, he would lay her out like he laid out her dad. No, actually, that’s what a tough main event heel would do. Instead, he threatened a lawsuit. He said he would get an injunction and have WrestleMania cancelled. All the wrestlers appeared on stage, but Orton said he would take all of them down with him. Orton then begged to be fired so he could file this lawsuit.
Stephanie, of course, stared him down like she was Wanderlei Silva and he was Alexander Otsuka. Stephanie said that firing him would be too easy, and said they had bigger plans. She smiled, and revealed that it wouldn’t be Wanderlei Silva beating up Orton. No, it would be Fedor. Here comes the money! Shane McMahon came out, and all the wrestlers parted so that their savior and last great hope could preserve WrestleMania for them.
Shane McMahon came to ringside, and it was time for an ass whipping. Shane speared Orton, and laid in on him with punches. Legacy tried to hold Shane back, but he fought them both off on his own. He then went back to work on Orton. Rhodes and DiBiase came back into the picture, so he beat them up three on one. Shane then gave Orton this long series of punches and just beat the crap out of Orton. He mounted Orton and fired in more punches. Orton was done, so DiBiase carried Orton to the back.
Shane wasn’t having that. He beat up Rhodes in the ring, and pursued Orton to the stage, where he commenced once more with the beatdown. He kept beating up Orton on the stage. Kofi tried to stop Shane, so Shane beat up Kofi for good measure. And that was the show. I swear to God. I couldn’t make this stuff up. It seriously happened. Oh, and I should mention that Shane gassed about 30 seconds into this beatdown, and his punches looked absolutely dreadful from then on. And also that the crowd didn’t react to this at all. No cheers. There was just a whole lot of collective disbelief at just how egotistical and insecure the McMahons are.
This was the worst booked episode of Monday Night Raw that I can ever recall: a perfect storm of incompetence and egotism run amok.