Monday, January 19, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 01/19/09 from Chicago, IL.

The Big News: Vince McMahon returned, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be back next week.

Show Analysis:

Randy Orton won a six man battle royal over Ted DiBiase, Cody Rhodes, Kofi Kingston, Kane and Santino Marella. Santino thought he was on the same side as the Legacy, but they dumped him. They then took out Kofi. Kane sent Rhodes and DiBiase over the top rope, but DiBiase landed on the apron. Kane then went to eliminate Orton, but DiBiase took out Kane from behind and tumbled out with Kane. That made Orton the winner. This was a weird start to the show. I guess the idea was to get over that the Legacy may be a dangerous team in the Royal Rumble, but the match was so short and obviously stacked in their favor that it didn’t really serve that purpose.

Beth Phoenix beat Kelly Kelly in a brief squash with the glam slam. Randy Orton backstage then told DiBiase that if Orton wins, they all win. Rhodes said that there was a problem. Sim Snuka and Manu were in Stephanie McMahon’s office earlier and the rumor was that Stephanie was going to fire Orton. I heard that one too on MMA Bay. Backstage, Santino presented Rosa Mendes as a gift to Beth. He said that she would be an intern for them. An excited Rosa said she wants to learn from Beth and that she’ll do whatever Beth says. Santino comically closed, “Please? Can we keep her?”

Randy Orton met with Stone Cold Stephanie McMahon backstage. Stephanie said she wouldn’t fire Orton, and told him to stop sucking up to her and get out of her office. Orton said that he wasn’t worried and if anything Stephanie should be worried about Vince. Orton added that nobody respects Stephanie, she only has her job because she’s Vince’s daughter, everyone laughs about her behind her back and if her last name wasn’t McMahon she would be a complete nobody. Stephanie slapped him and starred him down.

Why in the world is Stephanie McMahon of all people standing up to Randy Orton, completely unintimidated by him? What possible good does it accomplish, other than soothing her insecurity and arrogance? He is a 245 pound WrestleMania main event heel and she is a 135 pound female non-wrestler. Getting him over as a threat will help draw money. Getting her over as a threat will draw none. There’s absolutely no justification for this pathetic, nepotistic nonsense.

CM Punk beat William Regal to win the Intercontinental Title. Punk hit some kicks, sent Regal into the post and scored with a snap suplex. Regal retaliated by supposedly kicking Punk’s head full on into the ring post. To me, it’s pretty hard to suspend disbelief on that one. Regal and Punk traded kicks and punches. Punk hit a high kick and high knee. Regal responded with an exploder. Punk missed a crossbody off the top but quickly followed by getting Regal up for the GTS. Regal tried to fight out with elbows, but Punk hit it anyway for the pin. This was a fun match and the hot crowd really helped. Delaying the title switch until Punk’s hometown paid off.

Next up was a contract signing for JBL vs. John Cena. Shawn Michaels came out with JBL. JBL said that Cena’s title run is almost over. Cena called JBL a scumbag, and said he wanted to talk to Michaels. JBL responded that this was about him and talking about Michaels was just Cena making excuses in advance. Cena put over Michaels and said he shouldn’t be JBL’s puppet. JBL said Michaels is an employee, and Michaels will collect what is important to him: a large paycheck, not Cena’s opinion.

Michaels at this point grabbed the microphone and told JBL to shut up. Michaels said it makes him sick to take money from JBL, but he does it and will continue to do so. He told Cena that he is not a kid any more and he has obligations and pressures that Cena can’t understand. Michaels talked about his wife and children, and said that Cena doesn’t know him. Michaels said that people can judge but he will do what he has to do. Cena said he doesn’t believe Michaels and that when the chips are down Michaels won’t help JBL. Michaels then grabbed Cena and JBL hit Cena from behind. Michaels went for sweet chin music but missed, and JBL landed a big boot and clothesline from hell on Cena.

Overall, I liked this angle. However, I liked the first part a lot better than the second. Michaels looking sad and JBL doing all the talking works well. But Michaels’ rant made me dislike him. Michaels crying about not being able to support his family on a main event wrestler’s salary is just obnoxious. His character is Latrell Sprewell, not Bob Cratchit.

Rey Mysterio beat Mike Knox via DQ. Prior to the match, Knox said that he doesn’t have a reason for repeatedly attacking Rey. This was another really brief match. Rey hit a huracanrana and went for the 619 but Knox caught him. Knox used a slingshot to send Rey into the ropes and repeatedly stomped, kneed and punched Rey in the corner until the referee called for a DQ. I usually don’t like this type of finish, but I thought it worked here. Knox was bleeding from the mouth, and laid out Rey with the Knox out. Chris Jericho was in Stephanie’s office backstage. Stephanie told him to leave, but Jericho said Vince was going to allow him to plead his case.

Cryme Tyme beat Miz and John Morrison to earn a tag title shot. If Miz and Morrison won, Cryme Tyme would leave them alone for good. Shad scored the pin with the STO. This was one of those matches that are so unbelievably short it just makes matches feel like pointless contrivances. Raw has had way too many two minute matches in recent weeks.

Mickie James and Cody Rhodes spoke backstage. Cody didn’t want to listen to her advice. Goldust approached Cody. He had advice for Cody: to watch the WWE’s Starrcade DVD collection. He said Cody would learn a lot from the legends. Cody said that he has heard this has Dustin Rhodes vs. Steve Austin. He then gave back the DVD and said he planned to live up to his talent unlike Dustin. He added that when they make the Cody Rhodes DVD he will send Goldust and Dusty the DVD. This was a good segment and effective product placement as well.

Melina beat Jillian Hall. Jillian attacked Melina with punches and a side slam. Melina then hit the last call (and I think Melina should consider getting a better looking finisher) for the pin. Santino, Beth and Rosa came to ringside. Santino whispered something to Rosa, and she ran into the ring and attacked Melina. Beth came in and laid out Melina with the glam slam. Dolph Ziggler and Candice Michelle were speaking backstage when Vince McMahon arrived. Dolph went to introduce himself but couldn’t remember his name. Wow, they actually found a way to pay off that gimmick.

Vince McMahon came out for the final segment of the show. He immediately brought out Chris Jericho. Jericho asked to be brought back and put in the Royal Rumble. Vince then brought out Stephanie McMahon. Vince said he wouldn’t reinstate Jericho, and that he would run Raw together with Stephanie. He asked Stephanie if she wanted to give Jericho a second chance. Stephanie wanted an apology. Jericho apologized three times to Stephanie and once on his knees to the fans. Stephanie reinstated him.

Randy Orton then came out and said he’s owed an apology by Stephanie. Orton pointed out people pay to see him and not Stephanie. Orton said since Stephanie popped out a couple grandchildren she has become worthless. Vince escorted an angry Stephanie out of the ring. Vince then told Orton he made Randy and his father and told Orton to apologize or he would terminate Orton on the spot. Randy told Vince that Vince didn’t want to do that. Vince was going to fire Orton, but Randy slapped him, kicked him in the head and punted him. Orton then acted like he was scared by what he did while Stephanie shrieked.

Final Thoughts:

I know a lot of people like the McMahons as performers, but I typically dread their appearances. It has nothing to do with their performances, but rather the way they are portrayed. Wrestling is fundamentally about building up wrestlers and then getting fans interested in seeing them collide. The McMahons almost always hinder this goal, because shows are built around their self-aggrandizement even if it weakens the top wrestlers who are expected to carry the product.

This week was the perfect example. Two of the top three heels on Raw are Chris Jericho and Randy Orton. Jericho’s character can get away with being humbled, but if he is going to lose his heat, he should be losing it to the top faces, not to Stephanie McMahon. Then there is Orton, who is supposed to be this ultimate evil diabolical heel, but who Stephanie and her 63-year-old father aren’t concerned by in the least. Orton was significantly more afraid about what they would do to him for attacking Vince than they were of this guy who is concussing and laying out people left and right.

Raw left you with the impression that Vince and Stephanie are the real stars of the show. They are the ones who call the shots. They are the ones who control the main event wrestlers. And what purpose does this serve, other than to feed their egos?

As for the show on the whole, it was another mixed bag. I think as a general rule on Raw lately the build has been good, the talk hit and miss, and the wrestling underemphasized.

I will be interested to see the Royal Rumble buy rate. The Rumble itself always helps a lot, but I don’t have a lot of interest in this show. The buildup has been fine, but there isn’t anything I’m dying to see. I think part of the problem is that both of the major champions are faces. The Rumble works better to me when fans are anticipating that one of their favorite faces will beat the odds and earn the opportunity to overthrow the heel champion at Mania. There’s less interest to me when there isn’t that chase.

Finally, please check out over the next couple weeks for a lot of MMA content from me. I’ll be providing live coverage of Affliction Day of Reckoning this Saturday in Anaheim, then WEC Varner vs. Cerrone this Sunday in San Diego, then UFC 94 next Saturday in Las Vegas. I’ll be at each of the shows and I’ll have live results, analysis, and backstage notes. It should be a fun couple of weeks for MMA.


Blogger s1rweeze said...

Good writeup, I like the bit about Sprewell. I'm also baffled by the whole Stephanie McMahon thing. Is she supposed to be a babyface somehow? If so, how? Why? Does anybody really give a crap about her? What on earth is the business with Jericho supposed to accomplish? Is this Orton thing actually leading to a MATCH at some point? And if Stephanie insists on being onscreen so much, can she at least take acting lessons? She makes Sofia Coppola in Godfather III look like Meryl Streep.

4:46 AM  
Anonymous tyson kaethler said...

Orton was so awesome on Raw tonight. I loved his lines said to Stephanie backstage, which seemed to be the truth, as I'm sure in the back of everyone's mind they know she's a joke. Orton's line in the ring with her about people paying to see Orton, and not her, was also great. It's amazing they know this to have him say it, yet won't actually act on it through their booking, as you pointed out.

I also get burned out by the McMahons. It's 2009... even 9 years ago I was getting burned out by them. 9 years!!

I heard some people arguing that Orton shouldn't have acted concerned after he kicked Vince in the head. I'm hoping the reason is only because as a character he's worried about the repercussions, but if he wasn't worried about getting fired and slapping Vince originally, what else does he think could be worse?

I just hope they don't devalue Orton or Jericho any more. Especially Orton though - he's been my favorite heel for so long now, he should be pushed to the moon, even at the expense of GMs.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous mike said...

I agree with those that say Orton should not haven been concerned with what he did at the end of the show. I can see the crowd starting to like Orton in an Austin no holds barred way. I can see a huge face turn for him as an anti-Cena as well. Him acting concerned seemed like a mistake to me. Austin would not have (granted McMahon was a heel then).

I also thought they stole everything Jericho had going for him last night. Another mistake

I did like the Royal Rumble "By the Numbers" segment. It showed the Rumble as important and historical. Don't know if all the numbers quoted were real, but nonetheless it was a nice job. I am surprised you did not mention that in your report, as I found it was perhaps pne of the most effective parts of last night's show.

8:05 AM  
Blogger AKFooFighter said...

Another week, another query from my wife asking when I'll be done with Raw/WWE. The boy can't help it, sorry honey.

Criticizing this stuff is too easy...Lawler actually talked about ordering PPVs with a straight - and also shiny, happy - face. Yeah, I'm sure your cable operator has screwed you out of viewing the PPVs you've been sitting ringside at for years. Smell the logic.

Straight up, who didn't see Orton going "Austin" on Vinnie Mac? What a stone-cold stunning development. This is only going to get more comical if and when SC Steph Levesque joins the so-called Legacy in the latest "clever" swerve-o-rama.

At least we can all look forward to the return of "Lost" tomorrow night.

- Matt in Anchorage

10:24 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I thought the Rumble numbers thing was very well done. I didn't mention it simply because they've been doing those for a few years now.

I caught the Lawler line about ordering PPVs too and I was amused by it as well. I concluded that he was talking about ordering UFC events.

10:45 AM  
Blogger AKFooFighter said...

UFC events...I didn't think of that. Or maybe it was PPV porn?

It's all just so silly.

Kepp up the great work, Todd.

- Matt in Anchorage

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Does anyone know what the flag was the Punk came out with?

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Municipal flag of Chicago

1:48 PM  
Blogger DW said...

"There’s absolutely no justification for this pathetic, nepotistic nonsense."

You can say that again, Todd! And add Triple H to its meaning.

If one wants prime time soap opera, RAW is for you. If one wants wrestling, you'll just be annoyed. And this isn't even good soap. At least Dallas and Dynasty had scripts that attempted to make sense, that didn't mix reality and fiction until you had a meaningless bag of BS, and that had some continuity. It's clear that the WWE either 1) doesn't give a crap about its fans, or 2) is too talentless to come up with any decent entertainment, or 3) both.

The best that can be said is that Orton transcends the foolishness he is given to work with. Fire him? Even as fiction, it's ridiculous. They want you to believe it's all real and then they suggest that? Laughing so hard I can barely type. And on the flip side, HBK, the WWE's worst actor, does the opposite, driving this trash further into the ground.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I have lived near Chicago most of my life and never realized they even had a municipal flag. Probably saw it in the background on TV a million times and never paid attention to it. CM Punk coming out and making such a big deal out of it made me finally take notice. I actually thought it looked somewhat like the flag of Israel, so I was wondering if he was making some kind of political statement about the current middle east events (which would probably be a bad move on his part).

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

"He is a 245 pound WrestleMania main event heel and she is a 135 pound female non-wrestler.", I guess I'll be nice since she just had a baby.

I agree with you about Stephanie standing up to him. For all the talk about Vince being a genius, he and his progeny all seem to have serious ego problems where they have to book themselves to look dominant even when it is absolutely the wrong thing for business. It's a miracle the original Stone Cold vs. Vince storyline was allowed to happened with Austin coming out on top.

Now they seem to be going that route with Orton, which at first I thought was great, but then he was all upset with himself for hitting Vince and just sat there stunned at his own actions as Stephanie ran in and cradled Vince's head. He should have instead got right in her face and told her that's what Vince gets for pissing him off and suggested she vacate the ring if she didn't want some of him as well.

Yeah, and how nuts are they that they are booking Orton as the heel here? The McMahons are going to be the faces? Really?

Jericho put in a great performance. Too bad it was in a role that positions him slightly above Santino Marello.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

"And if Stephanie insists on being onscreen so much, can she at least take acting lessons? She makes Sofia Coppola in Godfather III look like Meryl Streep."

I actually thought Sofia Coppola's performance wasn't quite as bad as other people thought, but, yeah, Stephanie is atrocious.

What really drives me crazy is that nose-crinkling thing she does. It would be appropriate if she was showing great joy or amusement (Sandra Bullock has a similar expression), but Stephanie just pops the look out at random times. They essentially shut down Paul London's career for smiling an an inappropriate time, but this is just as bad if you ask me.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous the masterbater said...

Just wanted to know if the Starrcade DVD was worth the purchase? Also, WHY and WHY am I not seeing Ricky Steamboat being inducted to the Hall of Fame?

7:23 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I haven't seen the WWE Starrcade collection, so I can't comment yet. The one I'm really looking forward to is Saturday Night's Main Event, since I haven't seen many of those original matches.

Ricky Steamboat would probably be in the Hall already were it not for problems relating to his ex-wife owning the rights to that name. But he could go in any year.

I'm a huge sucker for the Godfather Part III. People always knock it relative to the first two, but I think it's a tremendous film. And the ending in particular is just brilliant. I'll defend that one against the naysayers.

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

The only justification I could come up with for the Jericho angle was that it put babyface heat on the McMahons for humbling Jericho which put more heat on Orton. It was still a lousy angle. I was amazed to see Stephanie tell Jericho to get on his knees even though it clearly wasn't part of the script.

5:47 PM  

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