Monday, September 07, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 09/07/09 from Chicago, IL.

The Big News: Bob Barker hosted Raw.

Show Analysis:

Howard Finkel announced at the beginning of the show that this would be the Price is Raw. The Price is Right music played and Bob Barker came out to a big pop. He then received a legitimate prolonged standing ovation. It made me happy because I’ve always liked Barker a lot. He put over the people and then introduced a pricing game.

Santino Marella, Jillian Hall, Irwin R. Shyster and Chris Jericho were told to come on down. An excited Santino ran down out of the crowd. Jericho was disgusted by the whole thing. The prize was a Best of Smackdown DVD. Santino wanted to buy a vowel and then bid $1465, which felt lame and contrived.

The notion of a person being stupid and making a ridiculous bid is funny, but at the point you’re bidding over a thousand dollars for a DVD you can’t possibly invest in the actual joke because you’re being beaten over the head with the fact it’s scripted comedy. That’s a big problem with Santino in general. He’s gone from an amusing character to an unbelievable farcical caricature. The reaction is not, “Ha, what a moron that guy is!” but rather, “Yeah, like we’re supposed to believe any functioning human being thinks a DVD costs fifteen hundred dollars.”

Jillian Hall decided to sing and then bid $75, which just continued the trend. IRS bid $50 including taxes, so he was little better. Jericho tried to leave. Barker said that he was being naughty and that his mother would be ashamed, which was funny. Jericho was annoyed at being called Chris and wanted to be called Mr. Jericho. Jericho said he was one half (of the tag team champions), but Barker took this to mean $1 was his bid. So of course he won. The premise here was much more amusing than WWE’s typically ham-fisted execution. Still, Barker made the segment fun.

MVP beat Chris Jericho. Jericho got this match as a result of winning the pricing game, and if he won he would win a trip to Hawaii. The Bella twins modeled for the trip. Weren’t they traded to ECW? Aren’t there any Raw women who could do that? This is such simple storyline consistency stuff. Jericho went after MVP’s back. MVP hit a face buster, but as he went for balling Jericho countered into the Walls. MVP escaped and hit the yakuza kick. He went for the playmaker, but Jericho escaped and went for the code breaker. MVP reversed that into a cradle for the pin.

DX and Bob Barker met backstage. DX said they were big fans. Barker said they would spin the wheel to determine their opponents later in the show, but sadly it was a digital wheel rather than the wheel from Price is Right. Their opponents were Chris Masters and Randy Orton. HHH mocked Masters’ hair plugs.

Evan Bourne beat Chavo Guerrero. They announced that Chavo could win a new car if he won this match. The crowd seemed very pleased when Bourne came out rather than Hornswoggle. I know I was. Chavo dominated the match with an abdominal stretch and the three amigos. He went to the top for the frog splash, at which point Hornswoggle came from under the ring with a super soaker and squirted it at Chavo to prevent him from jumping.

Chavo went after Hornswoggle, allowing Bourne to get a rollup for the pin. So, Evan Bourne needs interference to keep from losing clean to the guy who lost to the annoying midget 200 straight weeks? Great. And with all the garbage DQ finishes they have done in the past few months, blatant interference in front of the referee is not a DQ here?

Cody Rhodes came out to address what happened last week. He said that he is still a member of Legacy. Cody said he doesn’t agree with what Orton did to his father, but Dusty didn’t make Cody a main eventer. That’s definitely true. Orton did. Wait, what? Cody said Dusty was an excellent father, but he’s sticking with Orton. He said he would make John Cena submit as a favor to Orton. Cody said that there’s nothing Dusty wouldn’t do for his son, but there’s nothing his son won’t do for his own career.

John Cena beat Cody Rhodes via DQ. They presented Rhodes pretty strong here given Cena is challenging for the title Sunday, and I’m pleased by the trend towards protecting Rhodes and DiBiase. Cena was in control for a while. Rhodes took over and used some submissions, including a chin lock and a Fujiwara armbar. Cena came back with shoulder blocks but missed a top rope rocker dropper. Rhodes applied the figure four but Cena reversed into the STF. Orton interfered for the DQ. Cena gave Rhodes the FU after the match.

They said that Batista will make an announcement next week on Raw. It seemed to me a retirement tease, but I guess we will see what they have planned. They’re billing DX vs. Legacy at Breaking Point as the first match in WWE history where submissions count anywhere, which is another ode to complete lack of attention to detail given the most famous submission match in company history ended with a submission outside the ring (Foley/Rock).

Bob Barker introduced a second pricing game. A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox was introduced as the new player. The prize was a WrestleMania 26 travel package. A.J. bid $1,000. IRS bid $2,000. Jillian bid $5,000. Santino bid $1,200. The price was $1,247, so Santino won.

For winning, Santino got a chance to win another prize, a hot tub. However, he could only win the prize by winning a body slam challenge against Big Show. Show slammed him so he lost. For some reason Barker didn’t understand what was going on, as he kept asking whether it was over even after they played the loser music twice. Barker then announced that there would be a second challenge, this time between Show and Mark Henry.

Mark Henry beat Big Show in the body slam challenge. They basically traded slam attempts until Henry got it. Match itself was bad but the slam looked very impressive and they did their best to get over Henry and MVP as challengers in the last week. Backstage, Bob Barker did a mini-interview on his career and plugged his book. It was fun. Trish Stratus was announced as guest host of Raw next week.

Chavo Guerrero backstage complained to Bob Barker about his loss to Evan Bourne. He wanted the car he was offered. Barker said that in any fight the best advantage is the element of surprise, and then suddenly punched Chavo in the gut. He followed with a chop to the back that floored Chavo. He said, “Have your pets spayed or neutered,” and that was it for Bob. This was funny.

Shawn Michaels and HHH beat Chris Masters and Randy Orton. The heels worked over Michaels, who eventually got the tag to HHH. HHH gave Masters a spine buster and tagged back in Michaels for an elbow off the top. Michaels went for sweet chin music but Masters ducked under and applied the Masterlock. HHH broke that up, and HHH and Michaels applied a simultaneous sharpshooter and figure four on Orton and Masters respectively. Masters tapped out for the finish.

After the match, DX brawled to the back with Rhodes and DiBiase. They fought through the backstage area before Rhodes and DiBiase eventually hijacked a car to escape. Orton avoided that situation and came back to the ring. He said that the title is the only thing he considers important in life. John Cena ran out and they brawled. Orton gave him an implant DDT and RKO on the chair. This was a hot ending to the show.

Final Thoughts:

I imagine tonight’s Raw will be a polarizing episode. Some people are likely to view the whole thing as a parody of pro wrestling, while others are likely to enjoy it as a campy fun. It ultimately comes down to what you want out of wrestling. Personally, I enjoyed Bob Barker hosting Raw. It’s not the sort of thing you ought to do every week, but as a special thing it was cute. The execution of the concept was generally lacking, but that’s to be expected from WWE’s writing team. Barker himself was to me among the best celebrity hosts.

There is, of course, the issue of the pay-per-view this Sunday. The guest hosts generally undermine pay-per-view build, but this week it was particularly pronounced. Whether it’s intentional or not, WWE has spent much of 2009 undermining the idea that pay-per-views are important events. But the genie was let out of the bottle a long time ago on that one, so it’s hard to be too bothered. The final ten minutes of the show they did a good job building the pay-per-view, but it kind of accentuated how lackadaisical they were on that count for the rest of it.


Anonymous mean dean said...

Loved seeing Bob tonight, he's so great at ad-libbing that he was really a natural for the role tonight. Toss-up between him and Shaq for best guest host, in my opinion.

One thing in your recap - was Foley/Rock really WWE's most famous submission match compared to Bret/Austin at WM13?

2:28 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Do they alter the crowd response on these shows? I'll never understand how "fans" can get excited about the moronic unrealistic foolishness that is DX. Watching a 44 year old HBK with bad hips force Masters (with his tree trunk sized legs) to tap out instantly in a figure four was ridiculous. And of course not to be upstaged, Trips had to have a sharp shooter on Orton. Everytime Trips steals another finisher (Benoit's, Hart's) I like to think its just him admitting how lame his own pedigree really is.

I will say Bob Barker did a great job. For an 85 year old guy, he was far more on top of his game than any other guest host they've ever had. Although I'm glad I'm not a Chavo fan. I wouldn't have been very happy watching him get beat up by an 85 year old man. I assume Chavo is paying for Vince's hatred of Vickie now. Such a professional company. I always watch and think after - I should have gone to bed. But the ending last night was priceless! Orton dominating Cena to close was a welcomed twist. And as far as the PPV - does anyone really think they'll let Cena or DX submit? Save your money.

One more thing - why is it only Trips gets to make jokes? Masters' hair plugs, Ted and Cody being gay, etc. This is the level of this guy's humor. Since he's Mr. Stephanie no one is allowed to defend themselves. Don't the fans see the one sided approach here? He orchestrates his own career and rips apart anyone he feels like with no worry of retribution. I'm being patient, but I'm really waiting for "karma" to kick his ass. I hope payback is miserable for him someday. And if he really wants to joke about being gay, he seems to be the one to have an unusually close relationship to HBK...

5:02 AM  
Anonymous HHH said...

Hey John I think you are going out of line here. I have a close relationship with Kevin Nash as well.

6:26 AM  
Anonymous SteRDLK said...

I have to disagree, Barker was not a good host.

That Hornswoggle run in was pathetic. Orton once ran in the ring and just stood there and that caused a DQ, yet Hornswoggle runs in with a weapon(!) and uses it and this doesnt cause a DQ?

Wasnt the submisison HBK used the Jamie Noble invnovation, the trailer hitch?

Triple H should have used the Indian Death Lock rather than The National Submission of Canada.

$1500 for a DVD? $5000 for tickets to Wrestlemania and the Hall of Fame? I guessed both prices almost spot on!

I dont get the fans. They cheer the fact that DX attacked Legacy from behind after the show, yet Cena comes out to confront a guy who had just been in a match (Orton), Orton stops this and gets booed? What am I thinking, using logic?

And when did Foley/Rock have a submission match?

And what was with the over the top reactions to Mark Henry lifting Big Show? If John Cena ccan do it, then surely the "Worlds Strongest Man" can easily do it?

But again, why am i asking for a bit of simple logic to be used?

8:32 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I think Foley/Rock (it was at Royal Rumble 1999) was more famous than Bret/Austin because it was immortalized in Beyond the Mat, it came during a hotter period, and it was a lot more controversial match with all those chairshots. Definitely Bret/Austin was more important and a better match, but I think Foley/Rock is more famous. But if you want to argue that point, that's cool. Bret/Austin is pretty darn famous too.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Pete W said...

Although this isn’t a criticism about RAW in particular, I do have a comment about something from last night. Orton delivered a spot-on picture perfect drop kick that was amazing to HBK. He drove his boots into HBK’s face getting tremendous height. The move could be a finisher. It had power and jaw dropping athleticism. It also has to be about 10 times more powerful than sweet chin music. HBK rarely even hits the spot close enough to make it look real when he goes for his SCM. (BTW, the ‘strike up the band’ set up realistically makes me wonder how the opponent can’t hear that coming!) Anyway, I’m reaching a point where these inconsistencies just make the matches seem dumb. I thought the idea was to simulate a reality. This isn’t even as good as their own video games anymore. And a reminder to the WWE that seems to live and die by the Nielsen ratings; the median age of viewers is 49 year old men – not 10 year old kids. Maybe you could limit the slapstick poor excuse for wrestling done by DX and focus on some of the younger guys with talent. I watched last night because I was excited about the prospect of Masters and Orton teaming. Of course, I knew the moment the match was announced, that they’d both go down to DX finishers. Predictable – Triple H has to triumph. The only surprise turned out to be different finishers than usual.

I think the term “hot tag” and the premise of it should be outlawed – especially when it comes to Triple H. He rarely sells anyone’s offense against him (unless you call whipping his skanky wet hair around a sell) and then we have to listen to the announcers screech about his moves “It’s a high knee!” High knee? It barely hit Masters mid quad but he had to fall all over it. As John noted – Mr. Stephanie gets to decide his own fate.

As far as Bob Barker was concerned, I don’t like guest hosts period. Wrestling becomes a side product of who is hosting. And trying to swallow the guest host setting up the matches etc is absurd. Maybe with some tweaking the premise might work. I will say of all the hosts they’ve had, at least Barker was professional and knew his lines. Excluding Sgt Slaughter, the best hosts are from the sport. Dusty Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Sr knew what they were doing despite what they were saddled with. Barker did it to promote his book. Piven did it to promote his movie. Shaq did it to promote his Shaq vs. show. It’s turned into one more stop on the Tonight Show circuit for D level celebs. Just give us good wrestling and the ratings will stay up. Apparently a foreign concept now for the WWE.

12:06 PM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

Does anyone here not think we'll get "Price is Raw", the sequel, if current Price is Right host Drew Carey is brought in as a guest host? Well, gee.......ya think?

That having been said, Bob Barker was a joy to watch, but it's clear that things started to drag with the bodyslam challenge. Justin King had to motion at least 3 times to signal that Santino had lost. Barker missed it.

Orton getting the better of Cena at the end of the show means one thing to me. His latest title run ends Sunday. It's not going to be a good night for Legacy at all. Also, I think we can safely predict "Jeri-Show" will retain after getting swept by Henry & MVP. Predictable. Bourne-Chavo has had the same ending on the road the last two weekends, so this was bound to happen, but I agree that a DQ should've been called. Inconsistency in the writing at work, as usual.

Next week, we're in Toronto with Trish Stratus making her annual visit to Raw. Expect a heavy dose of diva action, moreso than usual, and I predict that Trish will pull her gear out of mothballs and wrestle, probably in a tag with Mickie or in a mixed tag of some kind.

Shaq's still #1 as guest host, followed by Barker.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous DW said...

There isn't much more to add to the well-deserved criticism I read in this blog. Raw, and the WWE in general, have stooped so low, they are existing in a cesspool. Generally speaking, why are they festering in this silly face vs heel predictability? It's become evident that many of the fans have little thinking power, otherwise they wouldn't stand for the same old crap week after week. But they do, and they prove themselves to be what they are. I haven't yet determined if the WWE knows this and is playing to them because the cash keeps flowing in, or if they really are untalented and bad business people - it's probably a combination of both. But here's the thing - why not play to the stooges AND to a thinking audience as well? The stooges have proven they'll watch - and pay for - anything, so why not add something for the rest of us? The WWE won't lose anything, they'll just gain a new audience. Too complicated, I guess. I must be right about the WWE being untalented and bad businessmen.

Enough about that, though. A few more comments on last night's show. I do have to hand it to Bob Barker, a man I never warmed up to as a game show host. But he did a better job with this show than any other guest host - he even got a little dig in on the DX silly "suck it" line - that was a classic face he made as he said it. The fact that he was clueless to the ending of the Show vs Marella bodyslam contest can't really be criticized - he is 85 years old and he probably doesn't understand the....uh....oh wait....the rules? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

DX is a disgrace. Plain and simple. They're not funny, they are an embarrassment to themselves and they are offensive to everybody they come in contact with. I've said this before - get a couple of 20-somethings to play these roles and you've really got something. Then it all would work. To sell two 40-something men as these irreverent idiots just doesn't add up. And with the egos on these two - well, overacting just isn't enough of a criticism. But does it really matter to Triple H, first and foremost, or Shawn Michaels? They aren't even playing the roles anymore. They are a caricature of themselves at this point. Worse, they've removed themselves from the show and act as puppeteers for the rest of the cast. They come and go throughout the show, owning everybody and everything and making snide, uncalled for comments that have nothing less to do with DX and more to do with their own sense of self-importance, especially Triple H who creates his own stardom in the boardroom.

As for Triple H - if you're going to make insulting comments that you deem as comedy - like the one about Masters' hair - just make sure you're not guilty of a similar situation - I reference your ridiculous hair style. Second, the Siegfried and Roy comment. To draw on the image of the tragic accident that happened to one of these men as a joke comparison for the organization's idiotic wrestling antics is inexcusable. But that's Triple H - he's above it all. I'm not saying there shouldn't be irreverence, but there is a line - and further, do we ever, ever hear the irreverence being aimed at him? John was right when he said that karma should catch up with Triple H. He's ruining professional wrestling slowly and methodically with his grandiose ego. It's no longer wrestling, it isn't even entertainment, it's the Triple H Show. Maybe some of us would like something other than to watch him making as ass of himself.

Was there a good moment or two here? Yes - and it came from the man they seem to be determined to drive into the ground - Randy Orton. His performance in the final match - especially that dropkick that the cameras caught in all its glory - and the viper-like, almost vampirical way he stalked over Cena at the end? Now that's entertainment. Ya watching, Triple H? School was in session for you.

3:23 PM  
Blogger AKFooFighter said...

Good evening, Todd - I'm back home safe and sound after a lot of golf, a good dose of AC/DC and other fun. Included in that fun was meeting up with you for Saturday's UCLA game.

I really appreciate you taking the time to set it up and getting me to the Rose Bowl for the first time. Thanks again.

I look forward to our continued dissection of our "beloved" WWE.

Your friend,
- Matt in Anchorage

10:54 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Nice to meet you, Matt. Hope you had a great rest of a trip!

5:22 PM  

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