Tuesday, January 06, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 01/05/09 from New Orleans, LA.

The Big News: Shawn Michaels is doing his best to resist the negative influence of JBL.

Show Analysis:

The show began with a phenomenal video package on Shawn Michaels vs. JBL. These packages are always great to the point it pretty much goes without saying, but this week’s package was particularly effective in putting over last week’s angle.

Chris Jericho and Randy Orton were in the ring to protest what happened last week. They complained that Michaels, in allowing JBL to kick him, compromised the integrity of the match. What, Jericho asked, is the world coming to when we can’t rely on the integrity of pro wrestling results? Okay, that was actually more my question. In any event, they filed a protest requesting JBL’s title shot be taken away, Michaels be refused any future title shots and a match between Orton and Jericho to determine the Royal Rumble title contender.

JBL’s limousine pulled up, and Michaels and JBL arrived together. JBL said that Orton and Jericho could protest all they want but that he has the title shot. He said that they would do the same if they had the same resources. The self-righteous Jericho responded that he doesn’t deal with dishonest and disreputable people. He added that Michaels’ actions have proven him right about Michaels. Michaels said that if he has any solace, it’s that he prevented Jericho and Orton from receiving a title shot. Orton called Michaels a weak, pathetic sellout.

Stephanie came out and said that she wouldn’t do anything, since Michaels didn’t lie down. He just purposefully allowed himself to get by the clothesline and then was pinned. Stephanie needs to be arguing on MMA message boards about whether Ken Shamrock vs. Rich Franklin or Hidehiko Yoshida vs. Naoya Ogawa were works. Hell, with logic like that she probably already is. Stephanie said that Jericho and Orton will be in the Rumble. Jericho said Michaels shouldn’t be in it as punishment. JBL said he would take Michaels out and make sure he is just at the Rumble to assist JBL. Stephanie said that we would see about Michaels’ integrity in Raw’s main event: Michaels and John Cena vs. Orton and Jericho.

Goldust and Melina beat Beth and Santino. Goldust is looking in better shape and was moving better so good for him. He hit an arm drag, clothesline and butt to the head. He tagged Melina, who hit a top rope face buster and used the jackknife cradle to pin Beth. After the match Rosa jumped the barricade to attack Melina. Melina followed her back into the crowd for a fight.

CM Punk was interviewed backstage. He put over the Intercontinental Title and champions like Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect. He said that he would like to add his name to that list. Punk added that he hasn’t forgotten William Regal beating him in the King of the Ring finals last year or the cheap shot last week. He ended up shaking hands with Todd Grisham. Grisham looked so extraordinarily pleased to be paid this attention, like a dog that has been locked indoors all day with nothing to do.

CM Punk vs. William Regal for the Intercontinental Title was basically just an angle. Punk went for the GTS, but Regal grabbed the referee and was disqualified. Stephanie announced a rematch for next week where the DQ rule will be waived. I don’t remember that gimmick being used all that much in WWE, but it was a WCW staple including when Regal was WCW World Television Champion.

Backstage, JBL told Michaels to attack Cena and promised him a huge bonus if he took out Cena before the Royal Rumble. Elsewhere, Orton said that Cody Rhodes and Sim Snuka would have another match and if they won they would be in the group. Manu came in and wanted another shot. Orton buried him. He said that he gave Manu the opportunity to be associated with him, and he’s done nothing. Orton said Manu and Afa are nothing compared to the Ortons, and half the fans don’t even know his name. He said Manu would never be a part of his group. Okay, it’s time to just dump this angle. The idea should be to get over the young guys, and instead they’re all being buried miles underground.

Miz and John Morrison beat Rey Mysterio and Kofi Kingston. The heels worked over Kofi’s leg. Kofi got the tag to Rey, who came in with a huracanrana and dropkick on Morrison. Kofi took out Miz with a crossbody but hurt his leg. Rey used the 619 on Morrison but was slowed down by Miz and his springboard attempt into the ring was met by a Morrison kick for the pin. It is nice to see them putting Miz and Morrison over so strong. It helps get over tag team wrestling in general. Mike Knox jumped Rey after the match.

John Cena came to Shawn Michaels backstage. Cena wanted to know what to expect, and whether he should be preparing for three on one. Michaels said that he isn’t a puppet, but then asked Cena what history suggests to expect from him.

Kelly Kelly beat Jillian Hall. Jillian worked over Kelly, who came back with a crossbody off the top and clotheslines. Kelly went for a victory roll but Jillian dropped down for two. Kelly hit a leg drop for a pin. The announcers are pushing hard how much Kelly has improved, but I’m not buying it. Jillian jumped Kelly afterwards, but Kane made the save. Kane noted Orton rejected her like she rejected Kane, and that doesn’t feel very good. He’s right, you know. Kane the moralist. Kane said next week he will go back to what he likes to do by annihilating Orton. Okay, that’s not quite as morally righteous.

Cody Rhodes and Sim Snuka beat Cryme Tyme. They worked over JTG, who eventually tagged Shad. Shad came in with a back drop and elbow drop on Cody, but crashed into the ring post charging Cody. JTG tagged in and used a sunset flip, but Cody kicked out and hit the roll of the dice for the pin. Backstage, Orton congratulated Cody. He then said that Sim was out. Sim pointed out they won the tag match and only one guy could score the pin. Orton said that was exactly it, and Sim proved he was the weak link by not getting the pin.

Backstage, Stephanie told Santino that Rosa is banned. Santino was upset, and said it’s not her fault she’s attracted to his irresistible self. Jericho then came to Stephanie, and wanted to know why JBL was leaving her office earlier in the day. Jericho said that he protested to both Stephanie and Vince. Stephanie said Vince is out of the picture, but Jericho said he got a call from Vince’s office and in two weeks Vince will return to Raw. Stephanie was shocked.

John Cena and Shawn Michaels beat Randy Orton and Chris Jericho. The heels worked over Michaels, who tagged Cena. Cena hit the Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle on Orton. He went for the FU but Orton went to the eyes. A disoriented Cena nearly gave Michaels the FU. The heels then got the heat on Cena. Jericho sent him into the announcing table and hit a DDT. Cena used a top rope rocker dropper and made the tag.

Michaels hesitated but then came in with a flying forearm, inverted atomic drop and slam on Jericho. He went for the elbow off the top but Jericho got his knees up. Michaels came back with sweet chin music for both Orton and Jericho. Cena was ready for an attack but Michaels instead just covered Jericho to win the match. JBL backstage said that next week it will be Michaels vs. Cena with JBL in Michaels’ corner.

Final Thoughts:

Shawn Michaels and JBL are doing such a tremendous job as performers that they are turning their issue into a hot angle in spite of the gaping logic holes. It really is a testament to both of them, and the angle seems perfectly paced for a WrestleMania payoff.

On the flip side, they really should be doing more right now to start building Orton for a WrestleMania shot against Cena. Right now he’s constantly being bested and it’s taking down his star a little bit. Moreover, the Legacy group should help to boost his character but they are burying all the other guys in the group so hard that it just makes Orton look bad to be associated with these geeks. Of course JBL is the next challenger for the belt but in wrestling you should always be setting up what is coming next so it is more meaningful when it arrives.


Blogger s1rweeze said...

I can't remember the last time a storyline so stupid and preposterous actually turned out to work as well as HBK/JBL has so far. It makes me wonder how the Katie Vick angle would've turned out if... er, maybe not.

One thing that consistently brings down the show for me is Stephanie McMahon and her forced "I am a strong figure of authority!" persona. She comes across as a blithering idiot. Like after the Punk/Regal IC title match ended in a DQ, she says "I can't let the first title match of 2009 end in a DQ." Well, you just DID, since you set the rematch for next week.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Rancilyo said...

Excellent review, as always. I agree with you about The Legacy, and one could only wait if they pair Manu with Umaga to be a serious threath to Miz and Morrison.

On the other hand, it´ll be cool to put Cody in an angle with Goldust (I know it´d be as awful as an Henry - Koslov feud, but just for the sake of having them together in the ring and watch Cody´s reaction to Goldust´s antics).

and, off the record, Kane should be treated with more respect.

Regards, and thanks.

6:37 AM  
Anonymous CuriousMark said...

Todd, I usually agree with your reviews and I believe you are definitely the best Raw reviewer there is on the net. I also understand that you prefer wrestling to be based on slow build, and compared to last year's lackluster build-up, it seems like, at least on the HBK-JBL case, this year's Wrestlemania is going to be all about a great payoff. It's been building since before Survivor Series and, as you say, both guys' performances have been nothing but tremendous. However, now that this is Wrestlemania 25 and it's going to be in Houston, don't you think it is time for WWE to pull off one of their biggest money matches in HBK vs Undertaker? After all, HBK is Mr Wrestlemania, and after wrestling names like Cena, Angle and Flair in his last 'Mania performances, JBL would kind of be a step-back for his record, and we all know that, as good as he is on the mic, JBL has never been a very good in-ring deliverer. Now, it's true that Michaels can make anybody look good, but with Taker, he has proven he doesn't have to do the job of making him look good, but they can do magic together. 6 months of great build can make HBK-JBL a big money match, but I firmly believe that Taker-HBK would make more money even if it's announced the day before of the show. Please let me know what you think. Thanks.

8:01 AM  
Blogger AKFooFighter said...

We're beating this dead jobber, er, horse, to death, but it's clear WWE programming is aimed at kids and tweens. To quote the great Roger Murtaugh, I'm too old for this sh**.

When Lawler screams "a McMahon smackdown next week" or whatever it was, why should anyone over the age of 10 be intrigued? Yipee, Vince is coming back to TV.

It's all just so silly, and not in a good way. What's a middle-aged man to do?

- Matt in Anchorage

P.S. - Speaking of gaping logic holes, is Michaels working for free? I don't make tons of money, but I still get a little something to take care of my family with for showing up and doing my job each week. Michaels is a regular performer on the "longest running episodic series in television history" - that in and of itself has to come with some sort of paycheck. The entire angle is just odd.


9:40 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I think Michaels/Undertaker could also work well for Mania since it is in Texas. I know it was discussed, and I don't think there was opposition to it as an idea. I just think they liked the JBL/Michaels dynamic better. JBL/Michaels does have a clear face/heel story that is easy to tell, while crowd reactions for Michaels/Taker could go in a variety of directions the WWE might not be that comfortable with. But I think either works fine, really. As far as which would make more money, I'm not sure. I tend to think it wouldn't be a big difference one way or another because fans for Mania always look at a number of matches as opposed to just one. But they can always do Shawn/Taker next year, so it's not totally lost.

I noticed that line by Lawler about Vince too, and the over the top enthusiasm really stood out given how many times Vince has come back and how stale his character is even after being off TV for a while.

For the Michaels/JBL angle, you just have to turn off your brain and not think about it. The good thing for WWE at this point is they have been doing it for enough weeks now that it's just sort of setting in there and doesn't require the same suspension of disbelief.

12:09 PM  
Blogger DW said...

"For the Michaels/JBL angle, you just have to turn off your brain and not think about it."

You certainly said a mouthful there, Todd. And therefore I ask, why is it even happening, if one has to turn off one's brain? Because there's absolutely nothing logical, sane, or entertaining about this HBK/JBL angle. The brain would have to be turned off. Not only is it mundane, and a ripoff of the current movie "The Wrestler," it doesn't make the least bit of sense, as AKFooFighter said. To go one step further than FooFighter, if HBK is now "working for JBL" because he's lost money, what will happen after the inevitable comeuppance for JBL's character by HBK, most likely at WM25? HBK will be free of JBL, having probably kicked his butt, and then all of a sudden he no longer has any financial woes? But there you have it - like you said, Todd, one must turn off one's brain because none of it makes sense. Good thing, too, because as AKFooFighter also said, the show is aimed at "kids and tweens." I'll go one step further and say it's mindless kids and tweens. The next generation of jailbait, most likely. It's total nonsense for anyone who can muster up a single thought in their brain. Additionally, HBK is a terrible actor - he'd have gotten the hook but quick decades ago.

The worst part of all this is that they are trashing perfectly good performers to advance this nonsense. To have the two biggest heels in the sport - Orton and Jericho - be used as fodder to advance this foolishness is ludicrous. Jericho is one thing, but Orton is the up-and-coming man in the WWE - he's their most skilled wrestler and their best actor. Why waste him? There are plenty of other people that could be used to advance the HBK/JBL histrionics if we must contend with it. And Orton is already involved in a number of other angles. Two weeks in a row we see Orton get downed by HBK's sweet chin music - who, I'm surprised can even still get his leg up. Why? Every time Orton plays the fool, his character is diminished. But, maybe the fact that this drivel is aimed at mindless kids and tweens (whose brains are turned off if they were ever turned on), they won't notice - and that may be exactly what the WWE is counting on. And what makes it all such a disappointment for those of us who are looking for something just a little more thought-provoking - I'm not asking for Chaucer or Dickens here - with slightly more continuity, and something else the WWE has lost total sight of - actual competition.

5:43 PM  
Blogger John said...

Once again, I think DW hit the nail on the head. The foolishness of these “stories” is ruining pro-wrestling. Michaels is a horrible actor – he can’t pull this off. Plus, we’re not living in the 70s anymore when all backstage info was a secret. Michaels signed a 5 year contract a while back worth 5 million dollars limiting his house show appearances. Trying to make him appear down on his luck is pathetic. The WWE has the nerve to pan the movie ‘The Wrestler’ and then they steal the idea. Every time they try to copy a move, it’s a disaster. The last time was with Super Crazy becoming a sensation based on the Jack Black film ‘Nacho Libre’ (that storyline put another nail in the coffin of Chris Masters’ career as he was forced to be made a fool for losing to him again and again). Meanwhile to promote HBK’s new role, Orton and Jericho are being played as patsies so JBL and HBK get the spotlight. We’re to believe HBK can take out anybody with ease apparently. How anyone can enjoy this idea is beyond me – especially when it seems everyone agrees that it makes no sense. By pandering to the kids and tweens, the WWE is losing their core male audience of 25 to 35 year olds. And these kids will soon outgrow this farce. Ratings continue to go down every year. What the WWE is doing isn’t working – and you don’t have to look any further than this week’s RAW to see why.

5:20 PM  
Blogger AKFooFighter said...

"core male audience of 25 to 35 year olds"

Curses, that leaves me out. I'm 37 - time to put me out to pasture or ship me off to Santino's Casa for Senior Citizens.

- Matt in Anchorage

5:35 PM  
Anonymous SteRDLK said...

I am going out on a limb here and agreeing with Todd. Despite all the obvious flaws in the storyline, it is certainly building for an incredible payoff - HBK winning his last title at WrestleMania in his hometown, beating his employee JBL for the World Heavyweight Championship.

Yes, I am saying JBL will defeat Cena at the Rumble, and HBK will win the Rumble match itself, maybe eliminating Undertaker last to get revenge. Maybe Undertaker could be put in this Mania main event to make it a triple threat?

The McMahons are ridiculously mind-numbing. The McMahons became stale in 2001 when they had a match at Mania.

I love how they are trying to get the prestige of the IC Title, but having DQ finishes by holding the referee will never help. It would have been a lot better if they had booked the match for the Rumble, then each week they can have matches like Regal vs Kofi, Punk vs Burchill (where is he anyway?), tag matches and then at the Rumble we finally have the meeting.

I just wish we didn't have complete morons scripting Raw, and they decided to make Raw entertaining and memorable again.

6:29 PM  
Blogger DW said...

The only reason this HBK/JBL storyline is heading for an incredible payoff is because the fan base for the wwe has been culled to include no one but complete imbeciles. No one with a thought in their head buys the HBK poor man story - and to think that winning at WM25 will make his financial picture any better is idiotic. His investments are supposedly at stake and that won't change by beating JBL.

But...keep the idiotic stories coming....they are clearly pleasing the morons who buy tickets.

4:44 PM  

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