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