Tuesday, July 21, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 07/20/09 from Raleigh, NC.

The Big News: Ha ha ha ha ha! It was a memorable evening of world class comedy for the WWE Universe to savor and enjoy. In other news, WWE Night of Champions Sunday may draw fewer domestic pay-per-view buys than the Affliction Trilogy show next week. Think about that one for a second.

Show Analysis:

John Cena came out to start the show. He cut one of those incredibly obnoxious, cutesy, corporate shill “comedy” promos. He put over Z.Z. Top, put over the crowd, put over the show, and put over Night of Champions. Randy Orton interrupted the shilling and pointed out he won the Orton/Cena/HHH match at WrestleMania 24. Cena responded with even more insufferable material and threatened Orton. Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes came out and they were ready to attack Cena 3 on 1 when HHH made the save.

HHH said he isn’t concerned with winning the title himself but making sure Orton doesn’t retain. HHH and Cena did more comedy making fun of Orton for getting punked by a “hobbit” (Seth Green). Orton suggested Legacy vs. HHH and Cena. Cena responded with even more obnoxious comedy, acting all coy like Orton was trying to set them up to fight amongst themselves. Cena and HHH accepted anyway.

I’ve long said that Cena is a great overall performer who receives unfair backlash from fans because of the material he is saddled with. But you know, there comes a point where you have to stop blaming the material. Cena may have the ability to be a phenomenal promo, but for most of 2009 he’s been absolutely terrible. Right now he is as unlikeable a main event face as WWE has had in years, a thoroughly grating personality who makes me want to punch him in his smug face more than any top level heel.

Throughout the show they had a series of “comedy” vignettes with Z.Z. Top featuring songs probably 10 percent of the Raw audience is even aware of. Pretty much every single segment died a horrible death. Santino was there throughout with a fake beard doing lame scripted comedy. Chris Jericho sucked up to them, but they put him in a match with Mark Henry. Chavo Guerrero was angry about his treatment so they put him in a tuxedo match with Hornswoggle. The WWE women danced to a song and Santino stripped down and danced. They eventually brought Z.Z. Top in front of the crowd and the crowd seemed so disinterested I kind of felt sorry for them.

Primo Colon, MVP and Kofi Kingston beat Big Show, Carlito and Jack Swagger. The heels worked over Kofi. Show dropped him on the barricade and Swagger hit a leg drop. Primo got the hot tag and already got his big comeback on his brother Carlito. Do they have no concept of build? This is a brother vs. brother feud, and they jumped from arguing one week to a full turn in week two to an all out brawl week three to they’re already wrestling each other in week four.

Primo went to town on Carlito. He hit a leg drop off the ropes, and a brawl broke out where MVP hit a pescado to the outside. Carlito went for the back stabber on Primo but he was accidentally speared by Show. Kofi took Show out to the floor and Primo hit a springboard head butt on Carlito for the pin. This was a fun closing sequence. Show laid out everyone afterwards.

Jerry Lawler beat The Brian Kendrick. Kendrick got into an argument with Lawler at the announce table for no discernable reason and then they just cut right to a match. Again, on the subject of build, wouldn’t it make more sense to, say, build to this ever so slightly? You know, like Kendrick badmouths Lawler for 30 seconds on a few shows, Lawler finally cuts a 30 second promo back, and then they do the match and it actually means something?

Anyway, Lawler hit a punch early. Kendrick worked him over briefly. Lawler made a comeback with punches and a dropkick. Kendrick went for the sliced bread #2 but Lawler avoided that and hit a fist drop off the second rope for the pin. This was a lot of fun. The WWE women really should watch this match. For whatever reason, they have it in their heads that they need to prove how athletic they are so they do 50 big spots in each three minute match, blow half of them, and it feels like a poorly choreographed and executed dance routine rather than a match. Lawler, on the other hand, sticks to the absolute basics but he’s so good at doing those basics that everything looks perfect and the match works great.

Mickie James did an interview on the stage with the crowd and ring behind her. It made me happy because that was the old interview setup back in the WWF Superstars days. Mickie badmouthed Maryse and said she would take her title. Miz came out to put over Maryse as a glamorous champion and said Mickie in ten years will be working as a waitress at Waffle House. Mickie said Miz is just upset that she scored a pinfall on Maryse and Miz can’t score at all. Maryse sprayed hairspray in Mickie’s eyes. Oh man, she’s going to join the Beautiful People.

Mark Henry beat Chris Jericho via DQ. Henry stood on Jericho, threw him around, and used a giant swing. Jericho responded with a bulldog and went for the Walls but was thrown to the outside. Henry pursued him, but Jericho hit Henry with a chair for the DQ. Jericho went for a code breaker afterwards but as caught in the world’s strongest slam.

Hornswoggle beat Chavo Guerrero Jr. in a tuxedo match. Chavo’s pant legs were sewn together. You should have heard the announcers guffaw with fake laughter. They thought this was the funniest thing they’d seen in their entire lives. Hornswoggle stripped Chavo of his clothes, and the announcers nearly died laughing at the hilarity. Chavo had chili peppers on his underwear, you see. More comedy.

Chris Jericho argued with Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes backstage. Legacy made fun of Jericho and his father. Jericho said that the whole roster wants to team with him. They announced next week on Raw the host will be Shaquille O’Neal. That should be fun, and Shaq is certainly a big enough celebrity that it makes WWE look good to get him for this capacity.

Rosa Mendes and Alicia Fox beat Kelly Kelly and Gail Kim. Kelly hit a sloppy huracanrana and victory roll. Gail used a huracanrana and attempted a top rope crossbody that was countered by an Alicia dropkick. Kelly used a whirlybird and handspring elbow on Alicia. Rosa threw Kelly over the top rope and Kelly kind of skinned the cat. Gail and Kelly hit a double dropkick, Gail used a pescado and Alicia used a sloppy small package for the pin. See my earlier comments on the Lawler match. It was amazing how much shit they tried to get into this three minute match, when the only moves that looked crisp in the never ending series of high spots were the whirlybird and the Gail huracanrana.

John Cena and HHH beat Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes. The heels worked over Cena for a while. He tagged HHH, but HHH was quickly cut off and they worked over HHH for a while. Finally, HHH got the tag to Cena. Cena came in with shoulder blocks, the Cena slam and the five knuckle shuffle on Rhodes. He went for the FU but DiBiase stopped him. He then applied the STF but Rhodes broke that up too. Orton tagged himself in and went to punt Cena but Cena got out of the way and rolled up Orton for the pin. This was good, but didn’t really do much for the PPV. Cena and HHH shook hands afterwards.

Final Thoughts:

A lot of people seemed to think I was too generous to last week’s show. I wasn’t a big fan of the show, but I thought that if you accepted what WWE’s goals were (a lot of lighthearted comedy, little emphasis on wrestling or pay-per-view matches), the show did a good job of accomplishing its goals. It was an amusing show that went by quickly.

Well, this week’s show was the perfect counterpoint to that. It had the same goals. For whatever reason, WWE doesn’t care that they have a pay-per-view Sunday and made basically no effort to make you interested in it. Instead, they just wanted to write a whole lot of comedy. And they wrote a whole lot of comedy. Unfortunately, it all sucked.

This wasn’t really a bad wrestling show (although the booking was atrocious from that standpoint) so much as a really awful comedy show (think Freddy Got Fingered level comedy) with a smidge of wrestling mixed in. It was often times painfully bad and WWE once again came across so out of touch. Since WWE writers seem to think they’re so brilliant at writing comedy and seem to hate pro wrestling so much, they really should give up on this wrestling thing and just produce a sitcom. I’m sure it will be quite the hit.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This show was so painful to watch I had to keep surfing and just flip in occasionally. Trying to sell 2/3 of ZZ Top as celebrities definitely made them a laughing stock. It was nice the way they trashed Seth Green too referring to his Hobbit-size - that should make more celebrities want to sign on. Quick points - Lawler over Kendrick. Push the announcer who is about to run for Mayor and leave verus new young talent. Good thinking. And why buy the PPV? I think we see Orton-Trips and Cena weekly for free. No matter what happens one thing is for sure - Trips will come off looking the "coolest". And Todd - feel free to criticize the show not for what you think they want it to be. I turn on to see pro-wrestling; not a LAME variety show. The only way it will ever change is for ratings to go down and fans to call it what it is - Garbage!

4:20 AM  
Blogger BDC said...

The problem is less the writers thinking their material is funny as Vince McMahon thinking its HILARIOUS and the writers writing to please him. Inside Fortress McMahon, there's obviously a lot of guys who grew up in the 70s-80s when ZZ Top was popular. On the bright side, maybe Huey Lewis and The News or Hall and Oates can host RAW someday...

6:03 AM  
Blogger Max said...

I wrote last week how much respect I have for ZZ Top. However, this is 2009 and I am willing to bet at least 1/3 of the audience in Raleigh never heard of their music. And the others just couldn't have given two sh*ts.

Santino is so painful to watch right now.

And brilliant booking on WWE's part. Let's have a former co-holder of the Tag titles (10 months?) and one of your most talented WRESTLERS lose to a 50-something year old announcer in an impromptu match.

Yup. I see that logic.

6:51 AM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

As I've written in e-mails to Todd, part of the problem may lie with head writer Brian Gewirtz being a little distracted with Comic-Con coming up at the end of the week in San Diego.

What I'm able to glean from this show were the following:

1. Big Show will not win the US title. I believe Miz, the only challenger not in the 6-man tag, will end up with the strap, though I'd rather strap him to a rocket and send him off to Siberia.

2. We know Chris Jericho won't pick "The" Brian Kendrick as his partner. They left Kendrick off the show the last few weeks, only to bring him back as a comedy jobber---and now that I think of it, it may be leading to a pink slip for Mr. Kendrick. I think, given what's been happening over on Smackdown, that old foe CM Punk may become more of a kindred spirit to Jericho, and if they remember that Punk has some unfinished business with Legacy from last year....!

3. Alicia Fox gets her first win, and no one pays attention.

4. No follow-up that I could detect on Evan Bourne, who was left off the show this week. Did he hurt his neck legit vs. Show last week? We don't know.

5. Maryse has lost value as a champion since coming over in the draft 3 months ago. She has sprayed Mickie James with hairspray twice now, and if Miz is in the mix, that to me says they'll continue to stall on a title change, since Maryse jumped the shark some time ago. I'd rather see her lose the belt on Sunday, but I've a feeling it won't happen.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those ZZ Top segments were just painful. They were so canned and poorly acted, and just so unfunny. And then they came out to wave to the crowd for, what, 5 seconds? Dumb.

I also thought it was bad booking that John Cena pinned Randy Orton so easily. A clean pin, after Orton had been outside the ring rsting for several minutes. It really makes Orton look weak.

John Cena needs to can it. It's not funny.


8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the comedy was of course horrible as usual. I do enjoy the comedy and wish they had funny comedy. It's really the only reason I watch. I remember the actual funny moments from the past. I watch mainly from a "business sense" curious to see how they promote their product and who they push or don't push. When I watch the show, I always fast-forward through the wrestling. I find the actual in-ring stuff horribly boring.

I can't fathom how people pay for PPV's. When you see the main event come on at 7:15, you know there is NO chance of it ending before 7:35. So that means 20 minutes of moves that lead to no chance of an ending. Since virtually every move than can be done has been done, why do people want to watch this? I know this is a very unpopular view, but it is how I feel.

9:28 AM  
Blogger AKFooFighter said...

Speaking of Huey Lewis and the News, didn't the band have a song called "Bad is Bad"?

'Nuff said.

Question: Did I really "watch" Raw if I spun through the two-hour DVR recording in less than 20 minutes?

- Matt in Anchorage

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Matt, you're a better man than I am; after a few weeks of purposely avoiding the show (but reading Todd's recaps), I gave it a shot last night...

Exactly 30 seconds into Cena's smarmy opening promo, I had to change the channel before I whipped the remote at the TV.

Checked in a few more times throughout the night, and this is what I remember seeing before immediately tuning out again:

Lawler and Cole shilling the main event (that we've seen 50 times before) as the second coming of Hogan/Andre...

Santino dancing in a speedo...

Jericho being given the Jobber Treatment by Mark Henry...

Lawler and Cole cackling like retarded hyenas at anything and everything...

Kelly Kelly performing an awkward handspring across the ring that seemed to take 2 minutes...

Triple H ending the show standing tall in the middle on the ring...

Hey, did you know there's a PPV in 6 days? Apparently, the WWE writing staff is unaware!

10:35 AM  
Anonymous DW said...

The writing staff is not only at the mercy of Vince McMahon, it is also at the mercy of Triple H and his wife. With Trips performing in the ring, you can be certain that every angle he's involved in (and that's a lot of the show and just about every main event) will show him smelling like a rose, whether he wins or loses - and that also means demeaning other performers with just as much, if not more talent than he. Face it, Raw centers around an egomaniac who wants to ensure that he's remembered as the greatest wrestler of all time - and he's in just the position to make that happen - as a creator of the scripts and its star performer. All he needs is a fan base of bozos - who don't recognize his conceited self-promotion - to lap it up, and it appears he's got that, too.

And to that the despicable insults directed at the guest hosts and you have a man of real character. Even in the kayfabe world of pro wrestling, since when does a face put down a person who assists him? They either don't care about making sense or Trips thinks this makes him look "cool" instead of the prick he really is.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous John said...

This was awful, awful, awful... Thanks to RAW I've become a fan of the comedies on CBS opposite it - something funny to flip over to. And I hate to beat a dead horse, but on the off chance anyone from the WWE reads this, I am SO SICK of Triple H and his smarmy indestructible "character". I am beyond frustrated with the whole face vs heel out-dated mentality. And I am saddened by the horrific treatment of "heels" like Randy Orton who is subjected to infantile story angles where he's bullied and name-called and must call upon his repertory of expressions to react since he's not allowed a comeback. What really kills me is knowing how much better this could all be...

3:45 PM  
Anonymous SteRDLK said...

For somebody who had no previous wrestling association, I though Seth Green did a good job last week. Then they go and insult him for his size.

Speaking of size, whos idea was it to job a Guerrero to a midget?

Santino will always be funny, hes Santino.

The matches were poor to watch. Gail Kim needs to be moved away from these idiot models who have no wrstling talent.

Where is Beth Pheonix?

Main Event is BORING and has been for a long time now. Its gotten to the point where I hope Orton loses so he can get out of this shit. Put him on SD, who are lacking that BIG name nowe Edge is out, as well as Undertaker.

The only interesting thing on the Raw side of things, going into the PPV, is who will Jerichos partner be. I have thought about it being Ziggler, Christian, Undertaker, HBK, and Ezekiel Jackson.

Finnally, I too really noticed the commentators laughter, it was more than ever this week. Really annoying. If I wasnt addicted to WWE, I wouldnt be watching this crap. Unfortunately, I am, and make myself suffer through this crap each week.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Todd I know you have a problem with certain forms of humour, and I assume you aren't a fan of the sort of humour they presented this week. I can tell you that I was laughing legit when I saw Chavo with the one legged pair of trousers. The boxers however didn't get the same level of hysterics. I liked the fun they had. The only problem in the finish is what they ended up doing with Santino.

I think you'll find that most of the WWE Universe finds this stuff funny. They are aiming for the family demographic, and perhaps you aren't in that demographic?

While I'm here - well said about the King in relation to the basics of wrestling. And did you know that No Mercy was being replaced by Hell in a Cell - in another TNA rip off apparently (think Lockdown). That was my first thought when you mentioned the Uglies (as I call them) with the spray spot with Maryse. I wouldn't exactly be imitating TNA right now given what I've been seeing on Impact lately and what I read about Victory Road.

5:17 AM  
Anonymous John said...

I completely agree with SteRDLK as I usually do for I suffer from his same addiction. I blame on it my childhood passion for the sport. Thanks to YouTube, I often go back and watch old matches and realize I wasn’t mistaken back then for being a fan. The matches were good for the most part – often exciting. Heels were portrayed as fearsome – not foolish. Although everyone is entitled to their opinion, I don’t find the humor on this show…well, humorous. I would never let my kid watch this crap. It’s wrong on so many levels I don’t have the energy to get into it. But the worse thing about it is that it’s just not funny. Not even close. It’s groan-inducing. Like I said in an earlier post, if I wanted comedy, I’d watch CBS. Thanks to lame bookings like Chavo and Hornswoggle, Lawler and Kendrick, the Diva-robic workout matches, the weekly Orton beatings, and basically the whole show – I’ve been doing just that. As a corporation, the WWE is actually quite brilliant. You think they’d know to stick to their strengths – wrestling; not comedy. And one more thing, I have a sinking feeling about next week with Shaquille. I just hope that Shaq doesn’t toss around Orton and Legacy in another humiliating comedy bit. I’m sure for the sake of a little PR and a possible mention by Conan on the Tonight Show they’ll gleefully sacrifice them again. But you can be sure of one thing - Mr. Stephanie won’t be embarrassed, degraded, laughed at, humiliated or mortified by anyone!

11:56 AM  
Anonymous The masterbater said...

I am just lost for words. I feel like I am done criticizing and no matter how much I complain about HHH and the WWE product it seems like it will never change unless ratings are down. I wanted to watch Raw but soon as I seen the John Cena segment I turned off the TV and went to the gym.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous DW said...

"They are aiming for the family demographic..." writes a recent poster.

If the WWE is aiming for the family demographic (the poster was referring to the WWE's attempt - and I do mean attempt - at comedy), then why are they still including chair shots, sledgehammers and bathroom humor about male genitalia, among other non-family valued activities and comments?

Because they aren't aiming for the family demographic at all - they simply do not care about the product because the average moron is willing to buy tickets to this crap - so why make an effort?

7:10 PM  
Blogger Steve Khan said...

On the plus side, we got to see Rosa Mendes walk out to the ring. Is there anything more entertaining than that?

2:10 PM  
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8:58 PM  

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