Monday, December 28, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/28/09 from Hartford, CT.

The Big News: It’s too late to apologize for Raw the last two weeks, but thankfully WWE delivered a better show this week.

Show Analysis:

Chris Jericho was outside the building at the beginning of the show. He was simultaneously asking fans to sign his petition to get him back on Raw and insulting those same fans. This was a cute idea, even if I did originally hear it proposed by some disreputable riffraff. It reminds me of Jericho’s very entertaining WCW character always complaining of conspiracies against him.

John Cena came to the ring and brought a table out from under the ring. He suggested Sheamus wrestle him in a tables rematch for the title. He said this with such enthusiasm that the crowd reacted very positively despite it being a significantly less interesting option. Sheamus came out and declined the offer for a tables match. He said he would beat Cena in a singles match. Cena gave him an FU through the table.

Backstage, Timbaland confirmed that Cena vs. Sheamus for the title was still on. Elsewhere, Randy Orton was annoyed that Legacy lost last week to Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston and Mark Henry even though the latter team had never teamed before. Orton said that because no members of Legacy have titles, they are failures. He said that he arranged for singles matches with Ted DiBiase vs. Bourne and Cody Rhodes vs. Henry. He announced that Rhodes and DiBiase would have to prove they are not failures by winning, or Orton would kick them out of Legacy and beat them up.

Randy Orton came to ringside to watch Legacy’s two singles matches. The story was that even though Rhodes and DiBiase won quickly and convincingly (about two minutes each), Orton didn’t look pleased afterwards. They seem to again be moving towards a breakup, with the tease being Orton jettisoning both Rhodes and DiBiase. Of course, that could also be a setup for a swerve with Rhodes and Orton turning on DiBiase. Either way, I think it was a positive that they put over DiBiase and Rhodes so strong.

Ted DiBiase beat Evan Bourne. DiBiase hit a head over heels clothesline and delayed vertical suplex. Bourne came back with a top rope huracanrana and went for the shooting star press but DiBiase cut him off. DiBiase went to drop him on the top rope but missed and just dropped him on the mat and then hit Dream Street for the pin. Bourne would be in so much better shape if they just gave him five minutes in his losses rather than two minutes.

Cody Rhodes beat Mark Henry. Henry was in control very early on but he accidentally injured one of his legs. He then went for a gorilla press but his leg gave out. Rhodes hit a chop block and DDT for the win. This was the very rare short match that didn’t feel rushed, I think because it was built around an injury angle rather than the guys just rushing to finishers a minute in.

DX and Hornswoggle were involved in a Jackass-like skit backstage. Shawn Michaels was distracted by Bret Hart’s return, but HHH pushed Hornswoggle on a skateboard into a singing Jillian Hall. DX and Hornswoggle go together like Dustin Diamond and sex tapes, like Shaquille O’Neal and Mike D’Antoni, like Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, like Jay-Z and R. Kelly, like a poke to the eye and a knee to the groin.

Maryse beat Kelly Kelly. Kelly hit a dropkick and a crossbody off the second rope. She missed the handspring elbow and Maryse used the implant DDT for the pin. After the match Maryse cackled and taunted Melina in French and English. I know I can’t go a week without pointing this out, but Maryse’s heel mannerisms are so unbelievably awesome. They need to find this woman something meaningful to do.

Big Show outside the arena told Chris Jericho to move on. He said that long distance relationships don’t work out. Jericho wanted to know if there was someone else (a new tag team partner for Show). Show told him to let it go and handed him an envelope. Jericho saw what was in it and laughed. This was a very amusing segment even if it wasn’t particularly difficult to figure out what was in the envelope.

Vince McMahon came to the ring. There were chants of “we want Bret.” Vince said that the crowd loves guest hosts. There was mild applause. He then showed a video history of Bret Hart. This was a tremendous package that glorified Bret’s career and then went over the Bret/Vince feud. It ended with Vince saying that Bret screwed Bret. I was excited before for Bret’s return and this got me even more excited.

The difference between Bret’s return and Hulk Hogan’s return is Bret actually has a reason to come back and a built-in direction. If he does the street fight with Vince at WrestleMania, I think it’s going to do great business.

Vince told a story about how he offered to shake hands with Bret after Bret’s Hall of Fame induction and Bret showed contempt for him. Vince teased he would bring Bret in as host next week anyway, but then said Bret will never be guest host on Raw.

Shawn Michaels then came out. The tease was that he would say something about Bret, but instead he asked Vince for the WrestleMania rematch with Undertaker. Vince said that he wouldn’t make that match and that Shawn would have to, whatever that means. Shawn then suggested Vince bring closure to his issue with Bret. Shawn added that only good things will happen if Bret returns. Shawn added that he will be happy to see Bret one more time. So Vince announced Bret as guest host next week.

This was a very interesting segment. I’m really intrigued by where they will go with Bret and Vince and they didn’t tip their hand much on what they will do. How Shawn Michaels will be involved is also very much in the air. Here, it seemed that they could be building to Shawn as a face making amends with Bret, or Shawn wanting Bret to come back so he can get him again.

Personally, I think Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels are such natural real life rivals that they shouldn’t be united in any way in the storyline. It’s like Steve Austin and Vince McMahon. Bret and Shawn together won’t feel natural or real and it will thus undermine the seeming reality of Bret and Vince. Shawn’s been a heel for select programs in the past few years, and he can do it again here. It even could play into the feud with Taker, since Taker of course was no ally of Shawn during that period himself. Hopefully that’s what WWE decides as well.

John Cena was doing an interview backstage when he was jumped by Sheamus. Elsewhere, Kofi Kingston thanked Timbaland for the chance to earn a shot at the US title. This was just killing me, with WWE seemingly making it a point to emphasize that Kofi is right back exactly where he was before they tried to push him. But it turned out not to be that bad. MVP suggested that he be given a title shot when Kofi wins the title. Miz then came in and said Kofi won’t win the title. Timbaland said that if Kofi beat Miz in a singles match, he would get a title shot immediately after rather than next week.

Kofi Kingston and Miz had two back-to-back way too short matches. First Kofi beat Miz almost instantaneously with trouble in paradise as Miz was coming off the top. Then in the second “match” Kofi used a frog crossbody, crucifix cradle, side Ghanan leg sweep, boom drop and trouble in paradise. He had Miz pinned but Randy Orton interfered and gave Kofi an RKO on the floor.

A good 75 percent of Raw matches are too short to the extent that it undermines what they are trying to accomplish, but these Kofi-Miz matches were particularly egregious examples of that negative trend. It seemed like beating the Miz is a ridiculously easy task to accomplish. That made Miz look really weak. That in turn made the US title seem really unimportant. That in turn made Kofi look bad given he lost to the US title to Miz.

A lot of wrestling fans feel there should be more wrestling on WWE and TNA TV because they like wrestling matches when they watch wrestling. But even setting aside that preference, even if you don’t like to watch wrestling, you simply have to give wrestling matches time to breathe if you want the stories you’re trying to tell to work. When you rush all the matches the wrestlers look bad, the feuds feel fake, and interest in pay-per-view feud culminations declines.

Randy Orton backstage said that his issue with Kofi Kingston isn’t over and that it will be over when he says it is over. He said that next week he will finish it and kick Kofi in the skull. On the plus side, this has to mean Kofi will get the final win in the feud given he lost clean at the PPV. Right?

Random note. WWE over the past year has utilized obvious plants on Raw and Smackdown. The cameras will zoom in on a really attractive woman all dressed up and sitting by herself or with another really attractive woman, diligently holding up a carefully made sign plugging a WWE catchphrase or guest host that isn’t over. It’s always really obvious, and it was particularly obvious at a number of points tonight.

WWE needs to drop this practice. It makes them look tacky, insecure and pathetic that they need to pay non-wrestling fans to look like what they want fans to look like and to hold opinions that they want fans to have. If you want an upscale audience, produce a sophisticated product that doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence rather than Hornswoggle skits. Superficial audience manipulation does not help your cause in the slightest.

There’s a reason the NFL is never going to order its announcers and players to make incessant references to NFL fans as the “NFL Galaxy” and it’s pretty much the exact same reason the NFL is never going to pay models to hold up signs mimicking NFL corporate slogans. If you treat your fans like oblivious idiots year after year, eventually that’s all that will be left of your audience. Well, until you buy different fans.

DX beat Big Show and Chavo Guerrero. Chris Jericho was given a front row ticket by Show earlier and he watched the match from ringside. This was kind of a strange match, in that Chavo has been treated as a total undercard joke for years but here he was actually given offense and presented like a credible opponent for DX. It was a pretty good match too.

Chavo went for the three amigos on HHH but HHH countered with a suplex of his own. Chavo hit a dropkick on HHH and took over on Michaels. The heels took turns on Michaels until he got the tag to HHH. Show went for the choke slam but HHH escaped. HHH hit a spine buster on Chavo and a face buster on Show. Show then speared HHH. Chavo went for a frog splash off Show’s shoulders but missed. Michaels then took Show out of the ring. Hornswoggle ran in and went for the pedigree on Chavo but Chavo countered. Chavo then walked into the pedigree for the pin.

After the match, Jericho came over the barricade and threw a temper tantrum. Michaels ended up giving him sweet chin music. HHH then said he would give Jericho a rematch next week but if Jericho loses he is “off Raw forever.”

John Cena beat Sheamus via DQ. Timbaland did the ring announcements. They gave these guys very little time and they were way out of position for a couple spots early anyway. Cena basically just did all his moves. He hit shoulder blocks, the Cena slam and the five knuckle. Cena went for the FU but Sheamus grabbed the ropes and then the ref to stop the move. Cena hit the FU anyway, but the referee rather than counting the pin fall got right up and called for the DQ.

We’ve seen some awful finishes in WWE this year, but this was absolutely atrocious even by those standards. The referee was like a cartoon in how stupid this decision was, and it just felt like the promotion screwing you more than an angle that continues this feud. Sheamus gave Cena the big boot after the match and stood over him. I continue to see nothing in Sheamus. I don’t think he’s in the top 80 percent of the WWE roster in terms of main event talent and marketability.

Final Thoughts:

As I said at the beginning, this was a better show. It still had its flaws, particularly all the matches but one being either too short or way, way too short. But the booking was much better besides the main event, there was very little of the idiotic comedy, and they did a much better job building up some programs. It has been a rough spell for Raw but they have enough interesting programs for WrestleMania that early 2010 should, knock on wood, produce some very entertaining shows.

Monday, December 21, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/21/09 from Tampa, FL.

The Big News: After last week’s debacle, WWE finally realized what they needed more of. Goofy comedy.

Show Analysis:

The show started with Johnny Damon coming out. He received repeated boos and when the crowd wouldn’t let up it was pretty clear they flat out didn’t like the guy as opposed to just teasing him. Damon has played for the Royals, Red Sox and Yankees and those teams are all hated rivals of the Tampa Bay Rays. Particularly those dastardly Royals. Willie Wilson still gets death threats from the Tampa area code.

Damon came out to “Center Field” and wished the crowd a Merry Christmas. They booed. Hey, in Philadelphia they would have thrown batteries. Damon said he was world champion in Boston and New York and gave them a little crotch chop. He announced something involving Secret Santas giving wrestlers wishes.

At that point a blonde came out of the crowd attacking a Tiger mascot with a golf club. That would have been funnier if an NFL team hadn’t done the exact same gag to national attention weeks ago. They come across so second rate with dated stolen jokes. The crowd didn’t react at all and the announcers did their fake laugh gimmick. Damon then announced a divas match. Damon seemed enthusiastic about serving as guest host, but he wasn’t a good performer at all unfortunately.

Melina, Kelly Kelly and Gail Kim defeated Maryse, Alicia Fox and Jillian Hall. The women were all wearing Christmas outfits. Gail hit a crossbody off the top on Jillian, but the heels took over briefly on Gail. Gail got the tag to Kelly who came in with clotheslines, a huracanrana and a leg drop on Maryse. Maryse’s partners broke up the pin attempt and a brawl broke out. Maryse lifted Kelly for a slam but Melina dropkicked Kelly on top for the pin. This was one of the best women’s matches on Raw in ages. Not that it was a great match or anything, but it was much crisper than usual.

Next up was a little people’s court segment. Shawn Michaels and HHH went under the ring and when they turned on the lights it was a backstage corridor supposedly under the ring. There was a room for the little people’s court. The court of course had little jurors and a little judge. Hornswoggle came in and screamed at DX. They aired footage of DX abusing Hornswoggle and said he was bringing an NIED claim. This was a long segment and it didn’t even conclude the thing, but it was better than I expected. It wasn’t funny but it wasn’t offensive or overly stupid either.

Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry and Evan Bourne beat Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes. Kingston tagged in early and went to town on Rhodes. The crowd started chanting for Kofi at which point he missed a move and Rhodes tagged Orton. The heels worked over Kingston, who eventually got the tag to Bourne. Bourne took out all his opponents with dropkicks and hit the shooting star press on Rhodes. DiBiase broke up the pin attempt.

Orton grabbed Bourne and clotheslined him on the floor. He rolled Bourne back in and Rhodes covered but Bourne kicked out. The heels went after Bourne, with Bourne continually trying to fight back. Bourne finally got the tag to Kingston who came in with chops, a dropkick, a springboard dropkick and the boom drop on Orton. The crowd was into this. Rhodes broke up a pin attempt but Henry took out Rhodes. Orton tagged in DiBiase but Kingston caught DiBiase with the trouble in paradise for the pin immediately. This was a great match, well laid out and well executed with the right finish.

Backstage, they did a segment with Sgt. Slaughter in a Santa suit and Johnny Damon making a match between Carlito and Chris Masters, fighting over Eve. Later they did basically the same thing with Dusty in the Santa suit to make MVP vs. Sheamus.

Little people’s court concluded with another segment. HHH and Michaels tried to make peace but kept making references to size. Hornswoggle aired footage of HHH giving him the pedigree. The judge banged her gavel which apparently in WWE means guilty. Michaels then went on a rant about how Hornswoggle would have to prove himself before being admitted into DX.

The little people responded by throwing things at DX. They then chased DX out of the room. DX tried to hold them in the room while they reached out with their hands like a zombie movie. DX escaped from under the ring but Michaels was pulled back under like a horror movie. HHH eventually assisted him in escaping. I did like the horror gags at the end but ultimately this just felt like a waste of time.

John Cena beat Jack Swagger. They gave these two a lot of time and they delivered a fun match. Swagger looked the best he has in ages. By giving Swagger a lot it also made it feel like Cena accomplished something by scoring the win. Swagger scored a takedown early and worked over Cena with wrestling and brawling.

Swagger hit a side slam, leg drop and Vader bomb for two. Cena retaliated with the Cena slam and five knuckle but Swagger avoided the FU and hit an Oklahoma stampede. Cena fought off a superplex attempt but missed the top rope rocker dropper attempt. Swagger went for another Vader bomb but missed and Cena applied the STF for the submission.

Chris Masters beat Carlito in a quick match. They teased the Masterlock and the back stabber before Masters successfully applied the Masterlock for the victory. Poor Carlito. Masters and Eve kissed after the match. They then did “comedy” backstage with Santa IRS telling Miz he owes back taxes and Mae Young making out with Johnny Damon. You know, there’s no rule that says you can’t go fifteen minutes on a wrestling show without wacky comedy. Particularly when your writers suck at writing comedy. Oh well. They announced Timbaland as guest host next week.

Sheamus beat MVP in a squash. He used punches and kicks and a back breaker. MVP got an exceedingly brief comeback but Sheamus cut him off with the big boot and razor’s edge for the pin. Sheamus got basically no reaction and the crowd was dead for this. Cena after the match came out and said he wanted his rematch then, but Sheamus left.

Johnny Damon and Vince McMahon met backstage. Damon made a Sheamus vs. Cena title match for next week. Presumably Cena wins via DQ in some sort of screw job. Damon asked Vince if Bret Hart is coming in. Vince said that’s a bah humbug question.

Miz beat Santino Claus. Miz jumped Santino with punches, kicks and a neck breaker. Santino did his comedy comeback but missed a fist drop off the second rope. Miz hit the skull crushing finale for the pin.

The “main event” was a stupid prolonged skit. Big Show called out “the real Santa.” He wanted a wish and asked for Chris Jericho back on Raw. Santa granted the wish. Hornswoggle then came out and pulled off Santa’s beard to reveal Jericho. A bunch of little people came out from under the ring in DX gear. The crowd was not reacting to this at all. How many stupid comedy segments need to bomb on Raw before they just present a semi-serious wrestling product?

Jerishow got rid of the little people. Show gave one a side slam. They went after Hornswoggle but Hornswoggle fought back with sweet shin music on Jericho. Show lifted Hornswoggle for a choke slam but DX made the save. DX acknowledged that Hornswoggle is growing on them and made him the DX mascot. So Hornswoggle is now officially associated with DX. I’d personally prefer him to be associated with Siegfried and Roy’s tiger or perhaps a live volcano, but maybe that’s just me.

Final Thoughts:

I’m a wrestling fan. Raw these days unfortunately is not written for wrestling fans. This leads to a lot of frustration as they trot out one stupid comedy vignette after another.

On the plus side, this was at least better than last week. I did greatly enjoy the six man tag and Cena/Swagger, and the show was shaping up to be a genuinely good one before it fell off a cliff in the second half. And the writers of the show might actually have had a better night than whoever called that final play of the first half for the Redskins.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and an enjoyable holiday season.

Monday, December 14, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/14/09 from Corpus Christi, TX.

The Big News: Raw went 17 interminable hours this week, featuring the worst guest host ever.

Show Analysis:

Dennis Miller came out to start the show and told a few jokes about the pyrotechnics leaving him incontinent and how children from two parent homes are better at bitterly sarcastic repartee. There was no reaction to the jokes, so Miller goes, “I just wanted to get a feel for the wrestling crowd; I’m going to run back to the script now.” So 30 seconds in he’s already insulting pro wrestling fans and announcing that WWE is scripting material for him.

Miller said that he was excited to be there with a tone that said he was anything but excited about this. He then made a serious of conservative “jokes.” He bagged on Nancy Pelosi, argued that global warming isn’t happening and said that John Cena got put through a table while Barack Obama has brought nothing to it. The crowd didn’t really react positively or negatively to most of it. The announcers obnoxiously guffawed and Matt Striker agreed with Miller. Funny how Jesse Ventura and Al Sharpton weren’t allowed to deliver a bunch of political material. Gee, I wonder why they weren’t and Miller was?

R. Truth and Jillian Hall came out to present tag team of the year. Chris Jericho and Big Show won. Jericho thanked Edge for getting injured and himself for picking Big Show as a partner. Show vowed to regain the titles and Jericho invoked the rematch clause for Raw.

Christian, Kane and Great Khali beat William Regal, Vladimir Kozlov and Ezekiel Jackson. Yes, you read that right. Before Khali left, he was involved in a feud with Kane and Kane put him out of action in his last match by attacking him repeatedly with foreign objects and trying to end his career with ring steps. And in Khali’s first match back, he’s teaming with Kane and not even selling dissension. Christian just said that they’d put their differences in the past.

What, were there no other possible options for this six man tag? You couldn’t have put Mark Henry in this spot and put Great Khali in the other six man tag later? I’ve seen injury angles dropped when the injured guy came back, but I can’t ever recall the injured guy coming back to immediately team with the guy who put him out of action for no good reason. Just baffling.

The match was very short, which was a trend for the night. I usually don’t keep track of match times, but it was so distinctive I grabbed the match times from the Torch, and seven of the nine matches on this three hour show were under three and a half minutes. Kane hit a side slam and clothesline off the top on Regal. He gave Kozlov the big boot and tagged in Khali for the giant chop and pin on Kozlov.

Dennis Miller came back out and this time had a Michael Moore joke. He then announced Teddy Long and Tiffany, who announced Sheamus as breakout star of the year. Sadly he didn’t come out in a big red suit like Suge Knight. The crowd chanted “what” at him as he tried to speak. He said John Cena will never get back the title.

Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes beat Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne. Yes, after losing clean to Orton last night, Kofi lost again tonight. But at least they’ve elevated Sheamus. This started as a singles match between Kingston and Rhodes, but DiBiase quickly ran in. Dennis Miller announced it would be a tag match and had his own Slammy for doing so. He said, “Suck it, Jeremy Piven and Al Sharpton” to laughs.

Legacy worked over Kingston. Bourne came in with a spinning kick and double knee drop on Rhodes. He took out DiBiase with an enzuigiri and gave Rhodes a high knee. However, Rhodes then countered into the crossroads for the pin. They gave them a little more time here and this was a good match.

One thing that was interesting on this show was the commentary between Michael Cole, Matt Striker and Jerry Lawler. Lawler and Striker were bickering back and forth constantly. It’s clearly to some degree shtick, but it really comes across that Lawler can’t stand Striker in real life.

Dennis Miller came out again. He apologized for his jokes at the beginning of the show and said that he didn’t know if he had just said “suck it” he’d be considered a genius. He was just overtly mocking the audience here, and the crowd didn’t even seem to get it. He introduced Vickie Guerrero and Santino to present the shocker of the year. CM Punk won for “retiring” Jeff Hardy. Punk thanked himself.

John Cena beat CM Punk in the “Superstar of the Year” tournament. It’s kind of silly to have a yearly accolade determined by a one night tournament, but that was the least of our problems on this show. Cena beat Punk in about a minute and 40 seconds, which served as an utter burial of Punk. He went for go 2 sleep but was reversed into the STF and tapped out.

Cena apologized to those who he let down after the match. He said he will never give up. “The WWE Universe is all I’ve got,” he proclaimed. It’s rare you see such a combination of pandering and condescension. Bravo. Cena said he won’t lose another match until he is champion. Somehow I don’t see this going the way of Jack Swagger.

HHH came out to present the match of the year award. He was introduced as “The Show” by Miller. HHH thanked “Dennis Milbern” for the introduction. It’s amusing they’re doing this guest host gimmick as much for their own egos as anything, and yet one host after another makes it clear he or she knows nothing about the product.

Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker won the award, but strangely they presented the award only to the loser and not to the winner of the match. Michaels accepted the award and said he can beat the Undertaker. He challenged Taker to a Mania rematch. I’m glad they’re starting to set things up for Mania now.

Randy Orton beat Undertaker via count out in a short match with a garbage finish. Undertaker went for old school but Orton threw him off. Undertaker hit punches and went for the choke slam but Orton fought out and clotheslined Orton to the floor. They brawled on the floor and Taker hit the legdrop on the apron. Legacy distracted Taker and Orton hit the RKO on the floor. Taker was counted out. Taker cleared the ring of Legacy after the match and gave Orton a choke slam.

Having assaulted wrestling fans, wrestlers’ names, liberals and science, Dennis Miller turned his sights to Vince McMahon and the show itself. “We’re 2 hours into our 17 hour extravaganza,” he remarked. He then said that Vince gave him comedy notes backstage, and he wasn’t sure if he could go on in life before that. He seemed a combination of annoyed and bemused that Vince McMahon would try to tell him how to do comedy.

Vince McMahon came out to present best guest host. He said some guest hosts have been better than others, and looked over at Miller. I can’t imagine Vince was very pleased with Miller by this point. Bob Barker won for best guest host. For some reason the audience wanted Ozzy Osbourne to win and reacted negatively to Barker. Well, Barker was only 8,000 times better than Ozzy.

Barker appeared in a video with the Slammy and thanked WWE for the award. Dennis Miller then suggested Bret Hart as a guest host to Vince. Vince acted like that wouldn’t happen, but presumably it will given they are teasing it. I’d love to see it.

Chris Jericho and Big Show beat DX via DQ. This was another great finish. Really, it was more of a bait and switch than a match. HHH shoved the referee over a crouched Shawn Michaels and the ref called for a DQ. DX then joked about having outsmarted Jericho. A bunch of wrestlers in DX gear came out to lead Jericho away from Raw.

They tried to get the crowd to chant na na na hey hey hey goodbye but few did. Maybe because they did this same gimmick with Jericho just months ago at the draft and he was back weeks later for one of the tri-branded shows and then again when they won the tag titles. As the coup de gras for this “separate brands” silliness, a bunch of Smackdown and ECW wrestlers proceeded to throw Jericho out of the Raw building. Does anyone think through this stuff?

Carlito, Chris Masters and Eve came out to present the extreme moment of the year. Jeff Hardy won for his SummerSlam dive. Matt Hardy accepted for Jeff. Carlito attacked Matt and stole the award. He thanked Jesus, the Academy and Puerto Rico. That was pretty funny but sadly Masters took him out with the Masterlock and Matt punched him. Carlito is clearly the new target for humiliation. It’s odd how they always need to be humiliating someone for comedy.

Mark Henry, John Morrison and Yoshi Tatsu beat Miz, Zack Ryder and Drew McIntyre. This was another match that ended practically instantaneously to make way for more skits. Ryder went woo woo woo in Tatsu’s face so Tatsu just kicked him in the head and pinned him. That was an amusing as hell finish.

Mickie James, Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly, Melina, Bellas and Maria beat Michelle McCool, Layla, Rosa Mendes, Natalya, Beth Phoenix, Maryse and Alicia Fox. They wore evening gowns, they said because the diva of the year award would be presented after the match. Again the match went no time at all and Mickie hit an implant DDT on Rosa for the pin.

MVP and Goldust came out to present the Slammy for diva of the year award. Maria won. Batista then came in wearing a pink shirt to interrupt and was escorted off by security. Yes, a Kanye West-Taylor Swift joke. How cutting edge. I mean, those certainly weren’t played out months ago. And what makes it even sillier is that this seriously was the third Kanye-Taylor joke on this show. Did they just find out about this?

Abraham Washington, Tony Atlas and Big Dick Johnson came out to present the oh my moment of the year. That’s just what we need two hours and 40 minutes into this show. Abraham Washington and Big Dick Johnson. Michael Cole won for vomiting. He proceeded to jump up and down like a complete loser. He hugged Jerry Lawler and ran around screaming and holding his hands in the air. He said it is the era of vintage and oh my. They sure do love making people look stupid, even if it is the guy selling their no buys pay-per-views.

Dennis Miller announced he was leaving. Good riddance. They then went to a DX vignette backstage. They were plugging DX snuggles. Oh, those anti-establishment bastards. There will be a little people’s court next week. That sounds great. Also, Johnny Damon will be guest host. Hornswoggle gave DX gifts but they tried to attack him. HHH ended up attacking Michaels accidentally.

John Cena beat Randy Orton. Yes, Orton vs. Cena again, less than two months after they finally settled their three year feud. Orton was in control early, but Cena came back with a top rope rocker dropper. Orton missed a knee drop and Cena hit shoulder blocks and the Cena slam. Cena went for the FU and STF but Orton escaped each. Cena finally hit the FU but Orton grabbed the rope. Orton went outside. Cena pursued and Orton hit a DDT off the apron to the floor. Orton rolled Cena back in and covered for two. Orton missed the punt and hit an FU for the pin.

Final Thoughts:

This was a terrible, terrible, terrible show. It was filled with horrendous comedy. The guest host hated the show and the audience. The matches seemed to go 30 seconds apiece and featured horrible finishes. The booking was atrocious and counterproductive. And the show seemed principally designed for people who want to laugh at how awful it is. Raw hasn’t exactly had high standards this year, but even by those standards this show was an abysmal, irredeemable mess.

I was kind of looking forward to the period between TLC and the Royal Rumble, because they have a little more time to set up feuds and give them time to breathe. Instead, the extra time is just an excuse for the WWE writers to screw around with awful, pointless comedy. Next week, little people’s court. It’s a great time to be a lifelong wrestling fan.

Monday, December 07, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 12/07/09 from Dallas, TX.

The Big News: There’s a pay-per-view this weekend!

Show Analysis:

There was no Umaga graphic at the beginning of the show. Mark Cuban came out to start the show. Michael Cole put over Cuban as a man of the people because he sits courtside for games rather than in the luxury box. Seriously. What, was Donald Trump a special guest writer for this show? Cuban announced a showdown later in the show between John Cena and Sheamus. Cuban stayed at ringside for the next few segments.

John Cena beat Carlito. Cena hit the Cena slam, but Sheamus started to come down to the ring. Mark Cuban got security to come out and stop him. Back in the ring Carlito went for the back stabber but Cena reversed into the FU for the pin. Carlito was treated as a joke again here. They announced a three hour show with guest host Dennis Miller next week. I guess they are trying to piggyback on the success Miller had the last time he was on a three hour Monday night show.

Legacy came to the ring. Randy Orton sucked up to Cuban and asked him to lift his ban on title shots. Cuban said no, and that Orton got lucky last week and only won against Kofi Kingston because WWE referees are worse than NBA referees. Cuban announced Kingston vs. Orton for Raw with Cuban as the referee. Cody Rhodes responded with a reference to Kenyon Martin’s mother and ran down the Mavs. Rhodes challenged Cuban to a match but Cuban declined. This was a fun segment.

Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase beat Evan Bourne and Primo Colon. Legacy worked over Primo. Primo bonked heads with Rhodes an got the tag. Bourne went for the shooting star but DiBiase cut him off and went for the superplex. Bourne blocked that and hit the knees off the top ropes. However, DiBiase then nailed dream street for the pin. After the match Cuban ejected Rhodes and DiBiase from the arena.

Maryse beat Gail Kim. Gail hit some clotheslines. Maryse slapped her and ran away. Gail threw Maryse into the turnbuckle and went for a springboard but Maryse kicked out her leg. Maryse then covered with her feet on the ropes for the pin. The referee then proceeded to look directly up at Maryse’s legs on the ropes and had to pretend not to see them.

Kelly Kelly was ring announcer but Maryse wasn’t content with her announcement of the winner. Maryse said that she wanted to be announced as the next divas champion and shoved Kelly. Kelly shoved her back and a brawl broke out. Melina made the save for Kelly. This is becoming a broken record, but Maryse’s mannerisms are so freaking awesome.

They aired a dreadful “comedy” segment built around DX plugging their merchandise for Christmas. They did a bit where they pulled out the script and hated on it. Hornswoggle ended up jumping on them off a Christmas tree.

Kofi Kingston beat Randy Orton. Kingston clotheslined Orton out of the ring and hit a tope. Orton cut him off with stomps, knees and a chin lock. Kingston came back with the side Ghanan leg sweep and high double leg drop. Kingston has a new thing where he tries to get people to clap and go boom when he sets up for trouble in paradise (ala Shawn Michaels “tuning up the band”). It should catch on soon. Kingston missed trouble in paradise and Orton hit the back breaker. Orton went for the RKO but Kingston used a backslide and Cuban used the fastest fast count you’re ever going to see to end the match.

Mark Cuban after the match said that was payback for six years ago when Orton gave him the RKO. Cuban said that now Kingston and Orton are tied at one and the rubber match will be at TLC.

Miz beat Mark Henry to retain the United States title. Miz went for a sunset flip. Henry dropped down but Miz moved out of the way. Miz hit punches and kicks and dropkicked Henry into the post outside the ring. Miz came off the top like last week and was caught with a world’s strongest slam attempt. However, this week Miz countered that into a DDT for the pin. It was nice to see them put over Miz strong.

Hornswoggle and Eve beat Chavo Guerrero and Jillian Hall. Chris Masters protected Hornswoggle from Chavo after the match. I’m simply not wasting any more of my life on Chavo/Hornswoggle segments.

Chris Jericho did a promo before his match. He had a black armband on his arm for Umaga. Jericho said he is the greatest performer of his generation. He goes where he wants and does what he wants because he’s omnipotent. And he’ll stay on Raw for as long as he wants. He vowed to beat DX Sunday and said the new catch phrase will be “Never Underestimate Chris Jericho.” I don’t see that selling well on a T-shirt.

Chris Jericho vs. DX went to a no contest. The match itself was flat and felt pointless. DX beat down Jericho for a little while and then Jericho threw a referee into HHH. Big Show ran in and gave Shawn Michaels a head butt. HHH brought in a chair but Show punched the chair into HHH’s face. Michaels got a ladder but Jericho hit a baseball slide and sent the ladder into Michaels’ face. Show held DX in a ladder and Jericho hit it repeatedly with a chair. The match was pointless but the post-match angle was good.

Maybe it was just me, but the closing segment on Raw was off the charts on the unintentional comedy scale. By the end I was guffawing with laughter.

Okay, so Mark Cuban is in the ring with Sheamus and John Cena. He announces he has three questions for them, which turn out to be the most comically pointless questions you’ll ever hear. It was like he was making fun of journalists. I was expecting Brock to run in and proclaim these dumb questions.

First he asked, “Why do you feel you will win?” Then he asked, “Are you concerned about competing in a table match?” Finally he asked, “Do you have anything to say to your opponent?” Sheamus answered the first two questions while Cena said no comment.

Sheamus said that he has never been beaten and is obsessed with putting Cena through a table. He said Cena isn’t concerned enough and threatened to break Cena’s back. Adding to the comedy of this was that Sheamus doesn’t pronounce H’s. I’m not sure if he started doing this now or I just haven’t heard enough of him in the past but it makes him come across as even more of a cartoon character.

So Cena had said no comment to the first two questions, but the third somehow inspires him to speak. He says that Sheamus sure has been talking a lot. And then, he proceeds to cut a seemingly 20 minute long soliloquy, pontificating on his own great career. It went nowhere and went on forever. He closes by saying he is impressed by Sheamus but not intimidated.

Sheamus and Cena turn over tables at this point and we cut to the physical confrontation. Cuban tried to separate them so Sheamus shoved him down. Sheamus then kicked Cena twice. At this point came the comedic coup de gras. Cuban gets up and gets in the face of Sheamus. The sports owner versus the new monster heel. And it went just how you would expect. Cuban shoved Sheamus to the ground and proceeded to pound his chest. Oh yes. Mark Cuban: tough guy. Sheamus: punk’d.

At least the show didn’t close with that. Sheamus threw Cuban through a table in retaliation to close the show.

Final Thoughts:

This was a typical edition of 2009 Raw. There was some good stuff. There was a lot of dumb stuff. It wasn’t particularly entertaining and didn’t particularly build the PPV. Mark Cuban I thought overall was good in his role but he really is better suited to be a heel character.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

WWE Raw Report

Date: 11/30/09 from Baltimore, MD.

The Big News: Randy Orton finally got some payback on Kofi Kingston with a little help from his friends.

Show Analysis:

Chris Jericho and Big Show came out to start the show. Jericho and Show wanted to deliver some “facts” to illustrate that DX isn’t that good. They pointed out that DX has never even held the tag titles while Jerishow has held all sorts of titles. They said they can’t be beat, and that DX has never been in a TLC match.

DX came out, and HHH said that Jerishow was boring the audience to death. This was a true statement. HHH said that DX has an army of people who believe in them because they all believe in grabbing life by the throat. Shawn Michaels said that they will win the tag titles and if Jericho loses the tag titles he will no longer be on Raw. Jericho said that without him Raw is nothing. They made a match for later with HHH vs. Jericho and the loser has to wrestle in a handicap match against the winner’s tag team next week.

This was an ungodly boring segment. They went on for seemingly forever (twenty minutes in real time) and had absolutely nothing new or interesting to say. It didn’t help that the big pay-per-view tease (Jericho leaving Raw) was a rerun from last month with John Cena and the angle for the end of the show (wrestlers fighting even odds to set up a handicap match next week) was a rerun from two months ago with John Cena, Randy Orton and Jerishow.

Maryse and Jillian Hall beat Melina and Gail Kim. I had forgotten just how awesome Maryse’s heel mannerisms are. They really should link her with an act they want to move to the top of the card. Maryse tagged out to avoid Melina and mocked her. Melina later got in with Maryse and used a series of kicks and a spear. Maryse cut her offense off with an implant DDT for the pin.

Sheamus came out and said that at the PPV he doesn’t have to pin or submit John Cena, just put him through a table. Is it really good to emphasize your title match will likely have an inconclusive finish? Sheamus said he will make Cena take him seriously. Santino came out and did a bunch of comedy about Sheamus overlooking him as an opponent. He got in a Lucky Charms reference and skin pigmentation jokes. Sheamus of course destroyed him with the big boot and razor’s edge and put him through a table.

Verne Troyer was talking on his cell phone backstage and was approached by Big Show and Chris Jericho. They wanted to speak with him but he didn’t want to be interrupted from his call. Jericho eventually gave up on waiting and left, at which point Troyer immediately had the chance to say hello and shook hands with Show. Troyer is very small.

Troyer came out in front of the audience. He talked about coming to SummerSlam and how he loved everyone he met except the Miz. Troyer seemed nervous and his delivery wasn’t great but I thought it worked fine anyway because it came across more authentic.

Miz came out and told some jokes about Troyer’s height. There were Mini-Miz and Austin Powers references. Troyer said he would do that with Miz but Miz hasn’t been in any movies despite two Jackass movies being released. Miz threatened Troyer but Mark Henry came out to protect Troyer. Miz made some Fat Bastard jokes and ridiculed Henry as bland. Troyer made a match between Henry and Miz.

Randy Orton beat Kofi Kingston. As Kingston came out, he was jumped from behind by Cody Rhodes. Rhodes beat him up and threw him into the steps but Kingston wanted to continue with the match. Ted DiBiase then attacked his knee from behind and took it out. Kingston still wanted to wrestle, so Orton came out and beat him down. Kingston couldn’t fight back and succumbed to the RKO.

I like the idea behind this angle, with Kingston fighting heroically but falling just short thanks to the uneven odds. In practice, I thought it suffered a little bit from the fact Kingston never really made a comeback. It would have worked a lot better if Kingston teased that he could pull it off in spite of everything before Orton finally caught him with the RKO. It ended up being more of a squash, although I’m sure this isn’t the end of this program.

After the match, Orton put Kingston on the top rope and then gave him the DDT off the ropes. It looked great and Kingston sold it very well. This was a strong angle with both Kingston and Orton doing a great job.

Backstage, MVP and Troyer were playing video games. Jillian got in front of the screen and wanted to sing a song. MVP suggested she sing so Mark Henry could show off his dancing ability. The idea is they’re trying to show Henry isn’t bland. Well, his dancing didn’t do anything to dissuade that notion. Henry accidentally fell on Jillian. Troyer speculated she was dead but then went back to playing the video game.

John Cena did a promo in the ring. He said he would put up his title on Raw against Sheamus. Carlito came out instead. Carlito said he likes what Sheamus represents. He added that a lot of the wrestlers in the back want Cena to lose the title because they’re tired of him. Carlito said Sheamus represents the wrestlers and he’ll beat Cena and end Cena’s reign in WWE. This was a pretty darn great promo by Carlito.

John Cena said Carlito picked the wrong guy on the wrong night. Carlito started to chew some apple but Cena punched him, gave him the FU, and threw him out of the ring. It was a shame to see Carlito treated like a joke after he did a better job of building interest in Sheamus in two minutes than Sheamus has himself his entire WWE tenure. Sheamus came out and Cena challenged him but Sheamus left to the back.

Mark Henry beat Miz. Prior to the match, MVP served as hype man for a Mark Henry “rap.” This was not a good idea. Henry was just dreadful. I don’t even know how to do it justice with a comparison point. Vanilla Ice and 50 Cent aren’t even that bad. Okay, Vanilla Ice isn’t even that bad. Miz dominated the match with punches and clotheslines but was caught coming off the top rope with the world’s strongest slam for the pin.

Hornswoggle “spoke” with DX backstage. He made noises and there were subtitles. The subtitles themselves didn’t make any sense because WWE writers apparently have no idea how the legal system works. I think the idea is that the little people’s court was an offer for independent mediation but DX rejected that so now he is going to sue them. Mark Cuban will be guest host next week. That should be good.

Triple H beat Chris Jericho. Big Show and Shawn Michaels did commentary. Jericho worked over HHH but HHH got up his knees on a lionsault attempt. HHH attempted a pedigree which was reversed into a jackknife cradle for two. Jericho hit a DDT for two. HHH used a spine buster but again only got a two. Show and Jericho both did interference spots with the referee distracted. Show used the punch and Michaels the superkick and the referee ordered each to leave ringside. HHH attempted a pedigree which was reversed into a Walls attempt which was reversed into a rollup for the pin.

Final Thoughts:

This show had more misses than hits. It wasn’t a disaster and there were some good segments, but too much of it was dull and/or dumb.