Monday, February 15, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 02/15/10 from Des Moines, IA.

The Big News: Well, so much for the streak of excellent Raws. Hell, so much for the streak of non-dreadful Raws, too.

Show Analysis:

Sheamus beat Randy Orton via DQ. There were RKO chants early. Sheamus hit a power slam but missed the big boot. Orton went for the RKO but Sheamus escaped. Orton gained control with the Garvin stomp but was distracted when Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes came to ringside. Sheamus took over with punches, kicks and knees. Orton responded with punches, kicks and stomps. Orton went for the RKO and Sheamus kind of escaped.

On the outside, DiBiase tried to attack Sheamus behind the referee’s back. Sheamus fought him off immediately so Rhodes attacked Sheamus from behind. The referee saw that and disqualified Orton. Afterwards, Orton gave Rhodes the RKO. Sheamus then dove in with a big boot on DiBiase and Orton gave Sheamus the RKO. This match was quite boring with a redundant crap finish.

Bret Hart came to the ring. He said it was no shock that Vince McMahon wasn’t there, because Bret would be waiting for him. Bret said the words were echoing in his head that he deserved to be screwed. Bret said he thought Vince deserves to have the crap beaten out of him. Bret added that he would have loved to take out Vince at WrestleMania but it wasn’t meant to be. He thanked the wrestlers, fans, and John Cena. He said goodbye and left. He said goodbye to the wrestlers backstage, shook hands with Cena, and went to leave. I didn’t understand Bret’s motivation here at all, but that’s a minor quibble compared to what would come.

Next up was the big angle. Off camera a woman backed her car into Bret’s limousine as Bret was getting in. When they panned to Bret, his leg was hanging out of the car. They showed another camera angle later that made it seem Bret’s leg should have been severed or at the very least crushed, but there wasn’t even any blood. Bret was put on a stretcher and left in an ambulance. They played this up as a huge deal throughout the rest of the show. It looked completely fake.

I won’t go so far as to say this was a complete disaster or that they ruined the Bret/Vince angle in one week, but this was such an idiotic, ill-conceived directional turn. Has there ever been a vehicular assault angle in pro wrestling that has worked? It always looks like bullshit. Nobody ever buys it. It just makes the whole angle look fake. And of all the angles to not interject this idiocy into, it was Bret and Vince because the whole reason the angle was working was the realism of it all. People buy that Bret is angry at Vince for Montreal and the years of tumult that followed. Nobody buys that Bret is angry at Vince because Vince paid some woman to try to cripple him with an automobile on Raw.

This is exactly the sort of scenario we all feared WWE would do with Bret and Vince: substitute the real life issue between the two for some contrived, WWE scripted bullshit. After weeks of quality build I had completely let down my guard and assumed WWE was going to follow through this angle well, and then they pull this shit.

Mark Henry and MVP beat Miz and Big Show. MVP hit a yakuza kick on Miz and Henry hit the world’s strongest slam but Show broke up the pin. Big Show tagged in and hit a DDT but missed a Vader bomb. MVP then got the tag. He hit a face buster and yakuza kick on Show but ran into a kick from Show. Miz tagged in and covered, but MVP reversed into a pinfall of his own for the win. This match felt really rushed, as they had to make time for the 45 minute segment that would follow.

Next up was the Jerry Springer Show on Raw. Because, you know, WWE doesn’t want to be viewed as low brow, white trash entertainment. The announcers put Springer over huge and billed him as a television legend, which is sort of like Mel Gibson seeking to salvage his reputation by doing a buddy comedy with Michael Richards. The theme of the show was WWE’s most intimate relationships revealed.

Springer brought out Kelly Kelly, whose acting throughout this segment was Tiffany level atrocious. She said she was pregnant but wasn’t sure of the father because she has been in a lot of relationships. Santino came out and said he was the father. Kelly said that when Santino was sleeping she needed someone to finish the job. Michael Cole then got up and said, “That was our little secret, you loose lipped hussy!” Jerry Lawler then said Kelly was talking about him. Springer of course responded that Kelly was too old for Lawler.

The Bella Twins were out next. Nikki said that Brie was a man and they got into a fight as Santino tried to get people to chant “Jerry.” Springer wanted to know who was in the room with Kelly. Chris Masters came out, which brought out an angry Eve Torres. She got into a fight with Kelly over Kelly taking her man. The wrestlers again tried to get people to chant “Jerry.”

Masters said Torres wasn’t getting the job done. So Torres said she was also cheating with Great Khali. Khali came out and made out with Torres. Springer then said he had the results of the paternity test, and of course it was Hornswoggle. Springer left. Lawler then told Springer this was all a charade. No, really? Ranjin Singh said the Great Khali felt like the audience that this was a waste of time. No, really? Mae Young then came out and made out with Springer as the wrestlers yet again tried to get the crowd to chant “Jerry.” There were more wrestlers chanting “Jerry” than people in the crowd doing so.

This seriously may have been the low point in the history of Raw. Just the most moronic, interminable, negative stereotype-affirming nonsense. “Entertainment” by idiots and for idiots. And no, I don’t consider “it’s supposed to be awful” to be a particularly compelling defense for awful television programming.

Ted DiBiase beat Kofi Kingston in a brief match. Since DiBiase was going over, Kingston got the whole match. He hit a dropkick, clothesline off the top and boom drop. He set up for trouble in paradise but ran into the corner and DiBiase hit Dream Street for the pin.

They announced Antonio Inoki for the WWE Hall of Fame. This was kind of surreal in that they were acknowledging all this history that they have basically pretended never happened for decades. They talked about the formation of New Japan, the match with Muhammad Ali and the shows in North Korea. Props to WWE for bringing this history to the fans’ attention. They also announced Jewel and bull rider Ty Murray as the guest hosts next week. NASCAR, Jerry Springer, bull riding, it just gets better and better.

John Cena was in the ring and had an argument with Batista on the video screen. Cena was sarcastic and smarmy discussing how Batista attacked him from behind. Batista laughed and said Cena keeps running his mouth when Batista isn’t there. Batista said he will be on Raw next week and Cena can run his mouth then. He finally wished Cena luck on Sunday. Maybe it’s just me, but I find Batista’s character so much more likeable than Cena’s.

HHH beat John Cena via DQ. Cena hit a fisherman buster and threw HHH over the top, but accidentally dove into the barricade. HHH got heat during a commercial break but Cena quickly came back with shoulder blocks and the five knuckle. He went for the FU but HHH got out and hit a clothesline. HHH went for a superplex but Cena blocked and hit a top rope rocker dropper. Cena went for the STF but HHH reversed into a half crab. HHH hit a high knee, face buster and spine buster. He went for the pedigree but Sheamus ran in with a big boot for the DQ. He gave Cena the big boot too and hit a razor’s edge on HHH.

I just don’t buy that in 2010 crap finishes help build PPV matches. They’ve been done way too frequently for way too long and they just make matches feel pointless. I’d much rather they book TV matches where guys go over and then match up the guys who go over at the PPV to settle who the best is. Instead, they have a bunch of matches with crap finishes and then the same guys wrestle on the PPV. The hook for watching the PPV seems to be that this time we may actually give you a real finish.

WWE is essentially like a really stupid con man running a shell game. He offers you a free try, only he rigs it so you lose. Then he tries to get you to play again, only this time for $45, and says this time he’s going to play fair. This is not a very profitable con job. There are better strategies to be had, both in terms of engendering goodwill with your audience and in profiting more on PPV.

Final Thoughts:

This was so much worse than other recent editions of Raw. It had bad matches, bad finishes, bad angles and a dreadful Jerry Springer skit. It wasn’t just a letdown, but rather a gigantic step in the wrong direction.

If you want to hear a much more positive take on WWE’s WrestleMania direction, you can check out a podcast I did with Alex Reimer here at www.thesportsstuff.com. It was recorded prior to this edition of Raw and is as a result much more upbeat. Also, I forgot to mention this last week, but I was on the Fight Show podcast with Mauro Ranallo talking wrestling and MMA on February 3, so you can check that out too through iTunes via hardcoresportsradio.com/podcast.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Mike Awesome said...

It's not you. It's just that Batista is likable(period) Cena is not(period) The only character trait they share is that neither can wrestle.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

I liked Bret's speech before the car angle. Maybe his motivations weren't clear, but to me, he was basically giving up. He came here to get closure but he's realized, because of McMahon, he's not going to get it. He said good bye which just makes us want him more. I thought it would've been great if they ended the segment right there.

Instead they did the car angle, which was dumb for every reason you mentioned. I mean, I was half-expecting Vince to jump out of the driver's seat and start pounding on Bret's leg.

What bothered me the most was Michael Cole repeatedly telling us that this was THE WORST DAY in BRET HART'S life. BRET HART.

11:03 PM  
Blogger NC17 said...

Raw SUCKED, the Bret Hart leg accident was as badly scripted as the Death Of Mr. McMahon angle. The Jerry Springer segment had me wishing TNA was on so I could change the channel. EPIC FAIL

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12:11 AM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

The Springer segment was DOA. You could see the punch line(s) coming from half a mile away. It was like Gewirtz and his team of morons were auditioning for jobs with Springer to get away from McMahon's asylum.

I find it a bit implausible that Sheamus, who ate an RKO nearly 2 hours earlier, comes back to lay out Hunter & Cena to end the show. Heck, I expected a full-on brawl with the rest of the EC contestants, but it wasn't to be. For a pre-PPV go-home show, the creative staff was mentally at home. As usual.

5:32 AM  
Anonymous mike said...

The Springer segment was one of those moments where someone who doesn't watch wrestling (my wife in this case) walks into the room, and you can be embarrassed that you watch this show.

Having said that, I was 100% convinced they were going with a HHH/Katie Vick follow-up. That was a shocking relationship. Or Mae and the hand.

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless the angle is that Bret and John faked the accident and injury, to get leverage to force Vince into the Ring by threatening to sue WWE. Then it was perfect.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah Michael Cole is a retard. Worst day of Bret's life? Even if he lost his leg, and his paramedic farted all the way to the hospital it isn't even in the top 3. The man's brother died in a WWE ring at a pay-per view for gods sake.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous The Masterbater said...

I just have one thing to say and its Michael Cole is an idiot

1:26 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Todd, I'm not sure how the finish to HHH vs. Cena was a crap finish, unless you think all DQ finishes are crap. The WWE champion comes out looking strong, taking out his two biggest threats in the Elimination Chamber match. That makes a lot more sense than Hunter or Cena winning the match clean and Sheamus not interfering at all. Also when has there ever been a DQ finish in an Elimination Chamber match? Doing a non finish, whether it be DQ, count out, blood stoppage or time limit draw, to set up a gimmick match where there must be a winner is one of the oldest tricks in the book. One that has worked forever, provided you don't start doing screwy finishes in the gimmick match too.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

A crap finish is to me when the conclusion to the match settles nothing between the competitors. DQs and run-ins and distractions have become so commonplace in WWE that we just accept them as the way it is, but to me it's almost always counterproductive. The scenario you outline where a match ends by DQ and then you pay to see the stip match where there will be a finish no longer applies because there are so many crap finishes that people don't even view the stip matches as ways to "settle" feuds. Instead, they're sold on spectacle and/or violence. Up and down the card it's just one non-conclusive finish after another, and that is to me a large reason why they can't sell PPVs.

4:40 PM  
Blogger AKFooFighter said...

I'm married to a wonderfully-dedicated high school teacher. For the last few years, I've invited one of her coworkers, his kids and some of the school's other students over to watch WM.

I'm not sure I have the intestinal fortitude to continue the tradition because RAW is so, so awful right now.

Hmmm...Chris Jericho, you're my only hope?

- Matt in Anchorage

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

I thought Raw was pretty bad...then I watched the last episode of ECW.

Wow.

After barely a nod to ECW's glorious past, we got a worthless tag team title match, a horrible Abraham Washington talk show, a good in-ring segment with Christian saying how proud he was to have been ECW champion and to finish the promotion as its last champion, followed by Ezekiel Jackson beating him for the title after interference by Regal.

At least they made damn sure we won't miss WWE "ECW".

9:13 PM  
Blogger Timelord said...

This was one of those occasions where my mute button came in handy. The instant I knew it was going to be a "typical" Springer show - I didn't want to know! I have only ever hit the mute button when Jillian Hall has a mic prior to this.

On your reflection on DQ finishes, Todd, like everything else it depends on how it's used. I actually thought the main event DQ would have been OK - if Sheamus hadn't taken the Orton RKO earlier. That was the real problem in my book - given that the whole idea of both DQ's was to promote the Chamber. WWE writers are bailing to DQ and No Contest finishes more often than really acceptable - and perhaps that could be why the apathy or annoyance towards them, Todd?

3:13 AM  
Anonymous Tony said...

That Springer « skit » left me dumbfounded. Sure, it was lame and not funny but that’s nothing from the current creative process. It was interminable and seemed to have no purpose other than trying to be “funny” and it was kind of entertaining in a trainwreck kind of way. It was awkward on a PG show. But most importantly, it was totally out of the realm of the “WWE world”. Did Kelly really sleep with all these people or were all of them just actors playing a script for a parody like those WM21 commercials ? If so, was Bret also playing a script ? Or was that supposed to be “real“ ? You get my point, I’m not a traditionalist as far as keeping kayfabe alive at all costs but there has to be a line drawn especially when it all happens during the same show.

I believe WWE has brainwashed itself so much into believing there are in the entertainment industry and they are competing with other entertainment shows and not rasslin’ shows like TNA that they have lost the basics of booking 101. They’re wrong in the sense that they don’t produce TV to get cheap laughs like SNL – although humor here and there doesn’t hurt – their business is to sell characters and rivalries to entice people to spend money to see the conclusion on relatively expensive PPVs. Big difference indeed.

On that front, the PPV build-up was bad. Either the chamber gimmick sells itself or it will be another low number. They deserve it because they have put no effort on the hype. Once again. But hey, priority is scripting word-for-word the promos and writing 20-minute dumb skits without purpose. Hyping up PPVs is when the writers have spare time. I don’t care, I’m not an investor.

The rest of the show featured a Bret angle so fake, it couldn’t have looked more fake if they tried to. Super annoying Cena with his cutesy smarmy tone of his. I’d like to love the guy but I can’t if he keeps using this tone.

And I completely agree with Todd on those crappy finishes. Booking lame DQs like they have done so many times recently like not breaking the 5-count and stupid shit like this, just to justify having rematches on PPV and free TV. Because they have so little match combinations available, it’s their only solution to fill all the TV time they have every week, doing the same matches on free TV and PPV over and over again. That or going back to jobber matches, or scrapping the brand split. Or creating new stars… but God forbid.

4:53 AM  
Blogger Vince Sanchez said...

Raw just isn't looking all that good lately.

Let's see if they step it up against TNA starting March 8th.

http://prowrestlinginformation.blogspot.com/

10:52 PM  
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7:32 PM  

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