Tuesday, June 30, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 06/29/09 from San Jose, CA.

The Big News: WWE has decided that the same old mix of main event talent just isn’t cutting it any more. They’re getting behind someone new, someone fresh, someone exciting, someone who can really carry the company, Mark Henry! Yes, seriously.

Show Analysis:

Vince McMahon came out to start the show and said he wouldn’t be doing the commercial free gimmick or ticket refund gimmick. He added that Donald Trump before selling Raw executed a 15 person trade. It’s so insulting to the audience’s intelligence that just a couple months ago they were hard selling how big the draft was and how it would see these lasting changes, and already they’re mixing the brands consistently and swapping around even more talent.

I don’t care if they want to keep the brands separate, or if they want to just have one talent roster. Either way’s fine with me. But I find it unbelievably irritating that they change their mind on this every few weeks, and worse that they think their audience is so brain dead that it doesn’t notice.

On the plus side, I love how the trade makes Tiffany look like the most incompetent GM ever. She traded seven performers, including five of her six or seven best acts, for the Bella Twins, Goldust, Shelton Benjamin and William Regal. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a lopsided trade where Kwame Brown wasn’t involved. I understand that Goldust and Brie Bella told Tiffany that they’ll never disappoint her.

Vince McMahon also mentioned Trump’s idea of a guest host each week, and said that he would be instituting that. It wasn’t really explained why, but Vince just liking the idea makes more sense than him somehow being forced to follow what Trump had planned. In any event, I like the idea. It’s a fun way to bring in different people and make shows feel unique.

This week’s guest host was Batista. Batista announced a four man tournament for a title shot at Night of Champions, with the first round matches being Miz (Jerry Lawler laughed when his name was announced) vs. John Cena and MVP vs. HHH. Randy Orton and Legacy came out, and Orton suggested he would come down and beat Batista up. Batista said that if he did, he would be fired because Batista had unlimited power. Batista announced Randy Orton in a gauntlet match against three of the wrestlers traded to Raw. Batista’s delivery here wasn’t very good.

Triple H beat MVP in about five minutes with the pedigree. MVP went after the leg, applied a figure four, and hit balling. Triple H avoided the running yakuza kick but MVP then avoided a pedigree attempt. MVP hit the running yakuza kick for two, but his playmaker attempt was reversed into the pedigree for the pin. They booked MVP to look fine here, but given how unbelievably stale the main event picture is it’s about time people like Triple H actually started to put over people like MVP.

Chris Jericho and Edge came out for a tag title match. Those titles feel so much more important on those two. Jericho said that despite his vow to never appear on Raw again ten shows ago that he finds himself on Raw again by virtue of his talent and ability. Umm, Chris, you wrestled on Raw last week and the week before as well. Edge said that they are together because he suggested they join in a united front to accomplish their goals.

Edge and Jericho beat the Colons. This was a very fun little match. The heels worked over Primo, who eventually got the tag to Carlito. Carlito came in with punches and a swinging neck breaker on Jericho. Jericho cut him off with an elbow but missed the lionsault. Carlito used a quebrada on the standing Jericho for two. Carlito followed with a springboard crossbody for two, but Jericho then tagged Edge.

Edge went for the spear but Primo pulled Carlito out of the way. Carlito hit the back stabber on Edge but Jericho made the save. Primo took out Jericho with a tope, but as Carlito went for a springboard a recovered Jericho pulled down the middle rope. Edge then hit the spear for the pin. Afterwards, Carlito and Primo argued for quite a while, teasing a split.

John Cena beat Miz. Miz got most of the offense in the match. He used punches and stomps. Cena came back with a back drop and vertical suplex. An angry Miz then took over with a knee lift, neck breaker, swinging neck breaker, lariat, mount with punches, electric chair and sleeper. Cena got out of that and then just made the straight comeback. He hit shoulder blocks, the Cena slam, the five knuckle, the top rope rocker dropper and applied the STF for the submission.

I’m sorry, but given WWE has elevated two or three guys in the last five years, losing clean in a competitive match does not help a young wrestler. It hurts him. Fans are conditioned to believe that nobody new will be given a chance to succeed at the top level, and you have to move heaven and earth to rebut that presumption.

WWE main events are staler right now than they have been at any point in the company’s 45 plus year history, and they desperately need new main eventers. If they think this is the way to do it, they’re morons. But more likely, I think the key people are in fact a lot smarter than that and are only interested in the *appearance* of giving new talent a chance. They have got down the art of giving young guys not enough to get over but just enough that they can be blamed for not getting themselves over.

Mickie James won a fatal four way match over Rosa Mendes, Beth Phoenix and Kelly Kelly to earn a women’s title shot at Maryse. They worked hard and had some cool ideas laid out, but it was on the sloppy side. They did a spot where Mickie got a dragon sleeper on Beth, Rosa got a headlock on Mickie and Kelly got a sleeper on Rosa. They did a series of rollups with each woman coming in on the last. Beth hit the glam slam on Kelly but Mickie broke up the pin. Mickie dropkicked Beth off the apron, and Beth bounced off the steps and took a hard bump on the floor. In the ring Mickie hit the implant DDT on Rosa for the pin.

Kofi Kingston and Big Show battled to a double count out. Kofi hit a top rope dropkick and high double leg drop. Show did the power out of the pin spot. Kofi dove onto Show, but Show threw him to the outside. Show pressed Kofi over his head on the floor, but Kofi sent Show into the post and they were both counted out. They announced Ted DiBiase Sr. will be next week’s guest host.

The gauntlet started with Randy Orton beating Evan Bourne. Yes, this was not the night for young talent. Bourne looked really short next to Orton. Bourne went for a bunch of high flying moves. He hit a standing moonsault, baseball slide, and modified Thesz press off the top. He went for the shooting star press but Orton got up, crotched him and hit the RKO off the ropes for the pin. Again, they booked Bourne to look strong, but again, the young guy jobbed clean and in his first appearance on Raw to boot.

Jack Swagger was scheduled to be Orton’s next opponent. However, when the referee called for the bell Swagger stepped outside the ring and was counted out. He said that he likes and respects Orton and that he wanted to leave a lasting impression. He shook hands with Orton and left. That’s not exactly the way I would book Swagger’s first Raw appearance, but it’s certainly better than what they did with Bourne.

Mark Henry was the final opponent, and he pinned Orton clean in a minute or so. Yes, you read that right. Henry teased getting counted out, but then came in for Orton. This was an apparent face turn, and he was cheered. He hit a head butt and the world’s strongest slam for the pin.

Isn’t it funny how they have a bunch of younger, fresher talents with serious upside, and they’re the ones doing clean jobs to the stars, then they decide to have one of the stars lose to someone different, and it’s a guy who has been with the company for 13 years and has no upside as a main event talent? It’s really interesting how that works.

Final Thoughts:

As far as entertainment goes, this was one of the best episodes of Raw in a while. There was good wrestling, some surprises and good overarching issues. But this show was also as emblematic as any you’re going to find of WWE’s problem elevating new talent.

It certainly raises questions about the true motives of WWE’s creative team when young guys with upside are doing key jobs left and right and then they bring in Mark Henry of all people to basically squash the champion in a minute’s time. Are they booking for the benefit of the company or are they booking to ensure that the same chosen few continue to headline for years to come regardless of how stale and played out they may be?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 06/22/09 from Green Bay, WI.

The Big News: Fear not, Affliction fans. Donald Trump sold back Monday Night Raw to Vince McMahon, and has re-dedicated his efforts to raising awareness of the sold-out Affliction Trilogy event.

Show Analysis:

Raw’s opening package had Donald Trump all over the place. He came out to start the show. He plugged the no commercial gimmick and the full ticket refund gimmick. I wonder if WWE gave the Green Bay fans a refund on the Ticketmaster extortion charges too.

John Cena then made his entrance to enthusiastically shill the WWE gimmicks. He called out Miz. Miz called Cena a coward, so Cena invited him to the ring. Miz again called him a coward, this time to his face. Cena said that he would wrestle Miz in a “main event” match this Sunday. Cena said he doesn’t get rattled and that Sunday Miz will realize he doesn’t belong in the ring with him. He called Miz a WWE never-was. He told Miz to pray he makes it out in one piece. Miz punched Cena in the mouth and ran away. Cena no sold it and laughed. The way this was presented they pretty much have to put over Miz Sunday or he’s buried miles under the ground.

They ran a number of Vince McMahon vignettes throughout the show. In the first, Vince McMahon was apparently given a crappy “backup” limousine because Donald Trump as owner of Raw was in possession of the better limousine. Okay. It was broken down, so Vince demanded a new limo.

Jeff Hardy, Great Khali and Rey Mysterio beat Chris Jericho, Edge and Dolph Ziggler in the non-Raw match of the week. You have to admire their resolve in enforcing the brand split that they were so adamant about at the WWE draft a few weeks ago. This was a weird spot-oriented match.

They did a cool spot where Rey jumped off Khali’s shoulders onto the floor. Jericho gave Khali a code breaker, sort of, and Edge gave Khali a spear. Rey hit an Asai moonsault. Jeff then used the twist of fate and swanton on Dolph for the pin. Punk raised Jeff’s hand after the match but Jeff pushed him away. I really like that program. It’s fresh and intriguing.

Vince McMahon went to what he thought would be his office, but it was Trump’s. Trump said that when he purchased the Raw television show he received an office in Green Bay as part of the deal. Santina was there, and Trump fired her to play off the Miss California thing. Santino showed up and said there must be something he could do, but then went, “Eh, she had a good run.” That appears to be the blow off of the Santina gimmick.

Cody Rhodes beat Primo Colon. Cody worked over Primo. Michael Cole said that Cody is the son of the “All-American” Dusty Rhodes. He’s a wrestling historian, that Michael Cole. Primo came back with elbows. Cody hit a side Russian leg sweep. Primo used a springboard crossbody but Cody rolled through and grabbed the tights for the pin.

Goldust, Hornswoggle and Vince McMahon met backstage. Goldust had Vince try on his wig, saying it worked so well for Goldberg. Vince then discovered his office, which was a toilet stall. Festus was using the stall and reading the Wall Street Journal.

HHH and Randy Orton battled to a draw in a last man standing match. They brawled on the floor, and Orton went after HHH’s knee. Orton attacked HHH with a chair. HHH hit a low blow and went for the pedigree on the announce table but Orton reversed into an RKO on the table. HHH got up at 9. They brawled to the ramp, where HHH gave Orton a spine buster but had a pedigree reversed.

HHH went to hit Orton with a ladder but accidentally hit a crew guy instead. Orton hit HHH with the ladder, put HHH’s leg in the ladder, and stomped on it repeatedly. The referee was counting but Orton stopped the count and went for an RKO off the ladder. HHH sent him away and hit him with the ladder. He then hit a pedigree at the entrance way, but neither man could get up at 10. This was a strong match with a non-finish.

I don’t understand why they even bothered doing this if that was the planned finish. You can get away with non-conclusive TV matches to build up PPV matches, but usually you do that weeks before the PPV match when people aren’t sure where things are going. Here, they announced HHH vs. Orton would be a PPV match, but then said that they would give it away on TV the week of the PPV instead and made a big deal about it. Everyone with a brain is thinking, “They’re going to screw us,” and then they do just that. It’s not the sort of booking that engenders goodwill.

Maryse and Miz met backstage. Maryse reiterated that she wanted to see Miz do something impressive against Cena. She said that one cheap shot doesn’t prove anything.

Donald Trump came out. He promised all sorts of big things. It felt like a ninth grade student council election speech. He said there would be celebrity hosts each week on Raw and commercial free Raws every week. Vince McMahon came out and wasn’t pleased with Trump. He said these moves would make him go bankrupt. Trump said he paid big money for the TV show, so he can do whatever he wants. He added that he could sell Raw at any time and double his money.

Vince offered to buy back Raw for the same amount, then 25 percent more, then 50 and 75 before Trump finally agreed to sell it back at double the price. Vince said Trump was fired, so Trump slapped him. This whole storyline is utterly devoid of logic on so many levels, but at least it’s over now after a whopping one week.

Vince McMahon backstage told Randy Orton that Sunday he will wrestle HHH in a 3 stages of hell match. First will be a wrestling match, then falls count anywhere, then a stretcher match.
Mickie James and the Bella Twins beat Maryse, Rosa Mendes and Beth Phoenix. The heels worked over Brie. Brie tagged Mickie. Mickie came in with clotheslines, dropkicks, a neck breaker, and a kick on Rosa for the pin.

Big Show beat John Cena. Cena went after Show with punches early. Show dropped Cena on the barricade, hit a spear, used a back suplex and stood on Cena. Cena came back with a top rope rocker dropper and five knuckle, but Show cut him off with a choke slam and corner splash. Cena finally applied the FU, but Miz came out. Cena broke the hold to knock him off the apron. Cena lifted Show for the FU but Miz pushed Cena over and Show fell on top of Cena for the pin. This didn’t seem to drag as much as some of Cena and Show’s recent matches, but that’s not saying much.

HHH attacked Orton at the end of the show and slammed the car trunk on Orton’s back. He said that Orton is going to Hell on Sunday.

Final Thoughts:

WWE feels like such a desperate promotion these days, throwing a bunch of different random ideas at the wall every week and then giving up on them and starting over with new ideas the next week. This Donald Trump angle is just the latest example. I don’t know if I’m unique in this, but my interest in the product is eroding at a really fast pace these days.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 06/08/09 from Lafayette, LA.

The Big News: Randy Orton is presumably the champion again, and Vickie Guerrero got quite the sendoff.

Show Analysis:

Batista came out to celebrate his title win at the start of the show. He said he did it for the people who are sick of Randy Orton. He added that Orton has hurt a lot of people and he is going to hurt Orton. Batista said he will take Orton’s pride, his dignity, and then got cut off before finishing. I’m pretty sure he was going to add that he would take Orton’s integrity, his manhood, and whatever’s left, because Batista always gets his man. Ah, nothing like a joke based on one random promo from 17 years ago.

Randy Orton came out, and Legacy jumped Batista from behind. They went after Batista’s shoulder. They put Batista’s arm in a chair and stomped away. While this was going on Batista said that “this will never be over” and “you’ll never get rid of me,” which to me came across as cheesy, inauthentic and scripted. If you have the faculties and energy to articulate that sentiment, you’re going to devote that energy to trying to stop them rather than lying there cutting a talking point promo.

In any event, Orton finished Batista off by yanking his arm backwards. Orton left the title, while Batista left the building in an ambulance. Last night I was down on the idea of switching this title given Batista was going to be out and they have been switching the titles way too frequently. But after seeing what they did on Raw, I think WWE was right after all. The way they did this helps keep Batista stronger than he would have been failing and leaving injured yet again. And Orton probably gets more heat out of the situation than if he had just beaten Batista. So it was a smart move by WWE.

Kofi Kingston beat William Regal. Regal said prior to the match the last thing we need is a Jamaican as US champ. Or even worse, it could be someone from Ghana. Personally, I think only Americans should be able to hold the US title. You’ve got these foreigners taking our jobs, owning our companies, taking our championships, and then turning up their noses at us. I’m looking at you, Georges St. Pierre. Regal worked over Kofi. Kofi came back with the high double leg drop and trouble in paradise for the pin. This was a disappointment, short and kind of sloppy.

Randy Orton backstage said that Batista is done. He noted that as the former champion, he has a rematch clause and will use it later in the show. He said that either Batista comes back or Orton wins via forfeit. I realize that they tried to pass on the heat over this to Vickie Guerrero, but to me it sets a really bizarre precedent. Edge can just run over CM Punk with a car, challenge him to a rematch, and he’s champion again.

Maryse beat Kelly Kelly. Mickie James did commentary. Kelly hit a crossbody off the ropes, but when she went up again Maryse pulled her off and hit the implant DDT for the pin. Mickie and Maryse blew kisses at each other after the match. I didn’t think it was possible for blown kisses to be so sexy.

Backstage, Maryse and Miz had another great segment. Miz came onto Maryse and Maryse blew him off. Miz said he’s awesome and Maryse rolled her eyes. I’ve thought Maryse has good heel mannerisms for a while, but at some point she has become unbelievably awesome. She has main event star presence. Given she isn’t much of a wrestler, I’d advocate sticking her with a main event wrestler. She could be a successful part of a top of the card act, like Edge and Lita.

Santino, Goldust and Festus beat Chavo Guerrero, The Brian Kendrick and Jamie Noble. The faces dominated early, with Festus hitting an avalanche, Santino using a leg trip and Goldust landing a lariat. The heels worked over Goldust, who tagged Santino. Santino came in with punches on Noble and a judo throw. Noble went after Hornswoggle but Hornswoggle stomped his foot and Santino rolled up Noble for the pin. This was fine.

Miz came out for a match with John Cena that never took place. Miz has a new t-shirt with Cena’s name crossed out on the front and “I’m awesome” on the back. If they put that shirt on sale to the public, I predict it sells huge. Miz said he has called out Cena week after week and Cena has done nothing. He said that Cena has no excuses now and he will get his.

Cena came out. He wasn’t angry at Miz for taunting him for weeks. No, he came out smiling and amused, like Miz was totally beneath him. Well that totally buried Miz. Big Show then came out. He gave Cena a choke slam and camel clutch. An angry Miz then came in and hit Show with a series of chair shots. He gave one to Cena as well, before Show got up and Miz left. They presented Miz as more of a threat at the end here, which redeemed him to a degree.

MVP beat Matt Hardy. Matt was in control early. MVP came back with balling, but missed the running yakuza kick. Matt hit the scorpion death drop and tried to hit MVP with the cast. MVP stopped that and hit the playmaker for the win. Matt is really missing something with his current character. I feel like they need to either switch up his character or turn him back face, because he seems like less of a star every week these days.

Vickie Guerrero came out. Earlier they showed a video package with her covered in mud and slop. Jerry Lawler made a bunch of big noises as she came out. Vickie cried about this. She said she has never been so humiliated, and she saw the people laughing at her. She announced she is resigning as GM of Raw.

That brought Edge out. That post-draft brand split sure lasted long. Edge said he was going to apologize for what he said Sunday, but then Vickie quit. Edge said now he doesn’t need to apologize or continue their marriage, because he only married her for power and now Vickie is worthless. Edge said when he went out in public with Vickie, people thought she was his mother. He said he has movie star looks, so how could he be in love with a she-beast. She cried.

Edge continued by saying that when he kissed Vickie he had to rush to the bathroom to dry heave. He added that the only saving grace was they never consummated the marriage. He said he wants a divorce, and left her screaming and crying.

This segment came across so malicious. Vince McMahon in general comes across as a miserable human being who loves humiliating people with less power than him just because he can, and this segment drove home that perception like few segments I can ever recall. You’ve got the widow of a wrestler who died at a young age, and this is her final segment.

On her way out, she is portrayed as a stupid, manipulated, beastly, disgusting, pig. If they went after her for reasons related to her character, that would be one thing. But this was basically an assault on her looks, and I find it hard to imagine that she and her family could take this as anything less than utter public humiliation.

It’s not like they even have a storyline justification for it, either. Edge is a heel going forward, and if they presented her with some dignity Edge would get heat out of being so mean to her. Instead, they basically encouraged people to laugh at the disgusting pig lady, and a lot of the crowd reacted to this segment by laughing at Vickie and joining in with Edge. I’ve talked before about advertising rates and the public perception of WWE, and this was the sort of segment where if you showed it to someone who doesn’t watch wrestling they would conclude this is entertainment for the real scum of the Earth. If you then explained who Vickie Guerrero is, they’d think even worse.

On the plus side, now is the perfect opportunity to elevate Tiffany from interim general manager of ECW to permanent general manager of Raw.

Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes beat the Colons to earn a title shot. They worked over Primo, who hit an enzuigiri and tagged Carlito. Carlito hit a springboard clothesline, knee lift and dropkick. The heels then gained an advantage on Carlito and worked him over. He got the tag to Primo, who came in with punches, elbows and a springboard crossbody. However, Rhodes snapped Primo’s neck on the top rope and DiBiase hit Dream Street for the pin. This was a good match, although the crowd didn’t react much.

Randy Orton came out in the main event for his match with Batista. Batista didn’t come out. They showed an ambulance arrive, but HHH got out instead of Batista. Orton was never presented with the title, but presumably he is now. Legacy was with Orton, but they devised the brilliant strategy of attacking HHH one by one. HHH took out Rhodes and DiBiase with no effort, and then went after Orton.

Orton and HHH fought, and in the end HHH dropped a chair on Orton’s neck as revenge for Batista. Orton sold it huge. This was a hot angle, although HHH vs. Orton is just as stale as Batista vs. Orton. I’m at the point where I desperately want something new for the top program.

Final Thoughts:

With the exception of the Vickie Guerrero segment, I thought this was a pretty good show. Hopefully HHH vs. Orton doesn’t go on too long and they segue into something fresher.

Next week, WWE announced a big three hour Raw with all three brands. And we’ve got a big announcement too in regards to next week’s Raw report. Oh yes. Excitement is coming. Shapiro.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 06/01/09 from Birmingham, AL.

The Big News: Ric Flair became a pawn in the conflict between Randy Orton and Batista.

Show Analysis:

The show began with Randy Orton and Legacy in a cage. Orton said he will give Batista the beating of his life. He did a coin flip to determine whether Cody Rhodes or Ted DiBiase would wrestle Batista in a cage. Rhodes won the flip and said that cage matches are in his blood.

An enthusiastic Ric Flair then came out. He had tons of energy. He called Orton a punk. He said he will call out Orton every week until Orton faces him. He challenged Orton to a fight in the parking lot, and kept saying punk over and over again. Orton eventually accepted. Flair was really great here.

Batista beat Cody Rhodes in a squash in a cage match. Rhodes tried to run, but Batista caught him. Batista sent him into the cage repeatedly, speared him and hit the Batista bomb for the pin. I didn’t like two things about this match. First, the TNA tactic of giving away stipulation matches on free TV to get you to pay to see the stipulation match on pay-per-view typically doesn’t work very well. Cage matches are supposed to be a culmination of an issue, not an opening match gimmick.

Second, this was example number 138,432 of why young talent has so much trouble getting over in WWE. They clearly want to push Cody Rhodes, yet whenever he’s in a match setting with a star he’s always getting destroyed. Of course Batista should beat Rhodes clean here. But if you have future plans for Rhodes, for Christ’s sake let him get in some offense so fans won’t perceive him as a joke compared to a “real” star like Batista.

Backstage, Vickie Guerrero told Big Show that he would be teaming with the Miz to wrestle John Cena and a randomly selected partner. She had Show draw the name from the bag, and Chavo Guerrero not so coincidentally was the name drawn. Show said he planned to hut Cena and would hurt Chavo as well if he got in the way.

Maryse and Beth Phoenix beat Kelly Kelly and Mickie James. The match didn’t really build and was very fast. Rosa took out Mickie on the apron. That allowed Maryse to hit a DDT in the ring on Kelly and score the pin.

Primo and Carlito Colon beat William Regal and Matt Hardy. Regal hit some European uppercuts on Primo, and Matt followed with leg drops. Primo got the tag to Carlito. Carlito came in with body slams on Regal and a springboard elbow. Matt tried to hit Carlito with his cast but hit Regal instead. Carlito then used the back cracker for the win.

Backstage, Ric Flair told Batista to stay out of his fight with Orton. Flair said he misses wrestling, and needs to prove who he is. He said that he will get his licks in on Orton and make Batista proud. Flair told Batista he needs Batista to be a friend and believe in him. Batista said that he does believe in Flair. This was a strong segment.

Matt Hardy and William Regal met backstage with Vickie Guerrero. They wanted another title shot, and had a plan. They suggested Vickie wrestle Santino on Raw in a warm up for Santina. Vickie hated this idea. Matt then whispered his secret plan to Vickie and Vickie liked it. What, she couldn’t figure out for herself that they were planning to interfere on her behalf? Vickie laughed and snorted like a pig.

John Cena and Chavo Guerrero beat Big Show and the Miz. Prior to the match, Miz said he is 6-0 against the corporate sellout Cena. He said Cena has the support of 9-year-olds, like the Jonas brothers, SpongeBob or Hannah Montana. Miz said he would go 7-0 against Cena because he’s the Miz and he’s awesome.

Miz wanted in the match at the beginning, but Show told him to stay on the apron. Show beat up Cena with a side slam, head butt and knee drops. Miz tagged himself in and laid in some punches on Cena, but Cena made the comeback. He gave Miz shoulder blocks, a Cena slam and the five knuckle shuffle. He went for the FU but Show tagged in and gave him the choke slam.

However, the referee didn’t see the tag. Show asked for the tag but Miz said that he had it. Show then gave Miz the KO punch and Chavo tagged in and covered Miz for the pin. After the match, Cena gave Chavo the FU and Show gave Cena the KO punch.

I was baffled by this finish. Why on Earth would you have Chavo pin Miz? Why not just have Show KO Chavo and then Miz steal the pin? It fits perfectly into the situation and the storyline they have with the Miz, but instead you have Show treat Miz like a nobody and then Miz is pinned by Chavo Guerrero of all people. Don’t the WWE decision makers get that they need new stars desperately and that young guys need all the help in the world to get over because of the way they book?

Kofi Kingston beat MVP to win the United States title. They built this like an old school title match. The crowd didn’t react big because it was different, but I thought it was a very fun change of pace and exactly the sort of thing that helps matches feel more meaningful.

They started with lockups early and exchanged holds. Kofi hit a dropkick and huracanrana. MVP used a yakuza kick, scoop slam, balling and a superplex. MVP went for the playmaker but Kofi escaped. Kofi went for the trouble in paradise, but MVP escaped. Kofi went for a victory roll. MVP dropped down like Bret/Owen at WrestleMania X, but Kofi then reversed that for the pin.

Vickie Guerrero and Santino didn’t really have a match. They showed footage of pigs from the previous hog pen match but unsurprisingly didn’t show HHH taking comedy bumps in the slop. Santino was going to slop Vickie. Regal and Matt ran in but Santino saw it coming and slung the slop everywhere including on Regal. Matt and Regal then laid out Santino. Vickie poured slop all over him. This was disgusting.

The show ended with the Flair/Orton brawl. Flair jumped Orton from behind and put the boots to him. They had an intense brawl that went out to the ringside area. Flair got in a lot of offense. There was blood all over the place but I’m not sure where it was coming from. It was on Flair’s chest, Flair’s head, Orton’s back and Orton’s shoulders. Flair used the Garvin stomp on the table and applied the figure four there. Rhodes and DiBiase then ran in to attack Flair.

Legacy locked Flair in the cage with Orton, at which point Batista finally came out. All he could do, though, was watch as Orton gave Flair and RKO and punt in the ring. This was a strong angle and Orton was tremendous in this segment. Orton is in my opinion the front runner for Wrestler of the Year as we approach the halfway point of 2009. But man, he would certainly benefit from some fresh opponents.

Final Thoughts:

This show was a mixed bag. On the plus side, I thought Flair/Batista/Orton was one of the strongest go home pay-per-view angles on Raw this year. I enjoyed the Kingston/MVP match as well. On the negative side, I don’t know who wants to see the slop stuff. And they have some serious problems when it comes to protecting young talent.