Monday, March 29, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 03/29/10 from Phoenix, AZ.

The Big News: Shawn Michaels gave a touching speech following his loss at WrestleMania 26.

Show Analysis:

Batista came out to start the show. He said that he wouldn’t give the people the satisfaction of watching him complain. He claimed WrestleMania was a fluke, and the crowd chanted “you tapped out.” Batista said he has a rematch, which brought out John Cena.

Cena obnoxiously bragged about beating Batista, leading to loud “Cena sucks” chants. Cena of course suggested they have a title rematch on Raw, like they do every single month. Batista of course declined, like they do every single month. Cena and Batista then fought. They blew it big time by having Cena win at Mania. They had a cool story with Cena unable to beat Batista and now it’s just two of the same main eventers trading wins like always. And it furthers resentment towards Cena as well.

Things got worse. Jack Swagger jumped John Cena from behind. He hit Cena over and over and over again with the Money in the Bank briefcase. He said he was cashing in Money in the Bank. Then as the referee came to the ring Cena immediately countered Swagger with the STF. Swagger desperately escaped to the outside and said he wasn’t using his shot after all as Cena laughed at him.

Why even have Swagger win Money in the Bank if you’re just going to treat him as an incompetent, worthless buffoon who can’t gain a second’s advantage after hitting someone with a briefcase a half dozen times? Don’t you have enough ways to comically bury the midcard without using what has previously been an effective elevation tool in the process?

Christian beat Ted DiBiase Jr. in a legends lumberjack match. Guest hosts Clark Duke and Rob Corddry (who I actually did recognize as a correspondent from the Daily Show) announced this match. Ted DiBiase Sr., IRS, Nick Bockwinkel, Pat Patterson, Arn Anderson, Roddy Piper, Sgt. Slaughter, Tony Garea, Ricky Steamboat and Jerry Lawler were the lumberjacks.

DiBiase used a kick and chin lock. He set up for Dream Street but Christian escaped and hit an elbow off the ropes. Christian went for the kill switch but DiBiase avoided it and they tumbled to the floor. The legends threw them back in the ring and in the process a brawl broke out amongst the legends. Christian hit the kill switch in the ring for the pin. Afterwards, Ted Jr. shoved Ted Sr. This was a fun segment.

Backstage, Tiffany, Rosa Mendes and the Bella twins were in a hot tub. The guest hosts said there would be a contest where the woman to stay in the hot tub the longest with them would win something, perhaps a women’s title shot. Later the Bellas were deemed the winners when Tiffany and Rosa were creeped out and left. The Bellas left too and Mark Henry and Hornswoggle came into the hot tub for “comedy.”

HHH came out to speak. He said that he didn’t think it would end this way for Shawn Michaels. He labeled it the end of an era. He added that it seemed like just yesterday that he entered WWE and met Michaels the first time. HHH said they took on the world. He got choked up and said there was something he always wanted to say to Shawn, but at that point Sheamus jumped him from behind with a pipe. HHH was very good here and the segment worked well.

Kelly, Mickie, Eve, Gail and Beth beat Alicia, Vickie, Layla, Michelle and Maryse. Eve just pinned Maryse immediately. And I mean literally immediately. They didn’t even bother with any moves; Eve just pinned her and that was that. There was a brawl afterwards. What a waste of a segment this was.

Bret Hart came out. He congratulated Shawn Michaels on his career. He said that it was a great feeling to beat the hell out of Vince McMahon at WrestleMania. He said he could feel high fives from Davey Boy Smith, Owen Hart and Stu Hart. Invoking Davey Boy there kind of rubbed me the wrong way given the horrible things Bret said about Davey Boy working for Vince after Owen’s death when Davey Boy needed the money a lot more than Bret does now. Bret said this is a great time for the Hart family, thanked the fans, waived and started to leave. This was a nice send off.

Show Miz interrupted, and they nicely tied Bret’s angle into a new tag title program. Miz called Bret a thief for robbing Miz of his time and his shine. Miz said he won at Mania and now he is 17 wins away from tying the Undertaker. He called Bret overrated and told Bret to leave. Bret told Miz to make him. Show and Miz were closing in when Hart Dynasty came out to make the save. Bret challenged Show Miz to take them on.

Hart Dynasty beat Show Miz via count out in a non title match. David Hart Smith hit a delayed vertical suplex on Miz and flipped Tyson Kidd into a somersault plancha on Miz. The heels took over on Kidd for a bit, before Kidd got the tag back to Smith. Smith hit a shoulder block and power slam on Miz and Hart Dynasty teamed for the Hart Attack. Kidd applied the sharpshooter but Show pulled Miz out of the ring and they left. Hart Dynasty worked well here as faces for the first time and I really liked this little angle from start to finish.

John Cena and Randy Orton beat Jack Swagger and Batista. Swagger posited before the match that he was just messing with Cena earlier and that when he cashes in the MITB he’ll be the favorite to take the title. Orton got a nice pop when introduced as Cena’s partner. I’ve always liked the spot in pro wrestling where the face turns to a longtime heel for help against other heels.

Cena hit a fisherman buster on Swagger and tagged Orton to use the Garvin stomp. The heels gained control on Cena with Swagger hitting a Vader bomb and Batista using an Irish whip, punches and kicks and a spine buster. Batista shook them ropes but Cena avoided the offense and tagged Orton. Orton gave Swagger a power slam and back breaker, gave Batista an RKO, and hit the RKO on Swagger for the pin. This furthered the “Jack Swagger is a total joke” theme for the evening. On the plus side, they do recognize they need to heat Orton up.

Shawn Michaels came out for the close of the show. If you’re one of the people that reads these reports but doesn’t usually watch the show, you should definitely make sure to watch this segment. It was one of the most memorable in Raw history.

Undertaker’s music interrupted Michaels before he could speak and Undertaker started to make his way to the ring. However, Undertaker then turned around and left. The crowd chanted “please don’t go” at Michaels. Michaels said he has been doing this since his early 20s and not doing it any more in his 40s will be tough to get used to. The crowd chanted “thank you Shawn.”

Michaels thanked the fans and said there was a time when the ring and the fans were all he had, the only time he felt good about himself. Michaels cried and said that the fans were the only people who ever made Shawn like himself. He thanked HHH for being his friend at a time when a lot of people didn’t want to be around him. He thanked the guys in the truck, the camera men, the announcers (he put over Jim Ross as the greatest announcer of all time), and the production and video guys.

The crowd chanted “one more match,” and this led to an all too rare occurrence in WWE these days of a performer genuinely interacting with the crowd on the microphone. He said that he knows how people feel about career ending match. He noted that he doesn’t want to go back on his word. He added that he wants to honor his word and will do everything in his power to make sure that one more match doesn’t happen.

Shawn thanked Bret Hart. He said that he drove Bret crazy in the 90s and Bret had every right to say the bad things he did about Shawn. He thanked Bret for accepting and believing that he had changed and giving Shawn the opportunity to show friendship. Shawn thanked Vince McMahon. He said he couldn’t work for anyone else and that he drove Vince crazy too. He said that Vince gave him the opportunity to do what he loves to do and kept him from making even bigger mistakes.

Shawn thanked the fans again. He said that he spent more time with the fans than with his family. He thanked Jesus Christ. He thanked his wife and children and said that daddy’s coming home. He concluded, “Shawn Michaels has left the building,” which was something they’d have the ring announcer say ala Elvis when he first turned heel. Michaels left to the back and hugged HHH on the stage.

Okay, so I came into this segment not expecting to be moved. I don’t believe for a minute Shawn Michaels has wrestled his last match and I’ve seen 8,000 fake retirements in pro wrestling. I remember Shawn Michaels delivering a tearful retirement speech way back in 1997 and was genuinely moved by it as a teenager only to see him return to wrestling a few months later. With that said, I ended up very touched by Shawn’s poignant speech.

Whether or not Michaels comes back, there’s nothing wrong with recognizing people who have brought you a lot of joy over the years. There’s more skepticism in pro wrestling because that sentiment is often exploited for financial gain, but ultimately this evening was more about remembrance of and appreciation for Michaels’ career than about a streak vs. career match.

The speech clearly meant a lot to Michaels. It felt honest and real, and even addressed the skepticism about wrestling retirements in a way that showed respect for the audience. I don’t know Michaels, but it seems like he really has grown up a lot over the years and is in a lot better place that he once was on a personal level.

I don’t know if there’s a wrestler I’ve ever enjoyed watching perform as much as Shawn Michaels. From the wrestling to the interviews to the charisma, he has always been such a dynamic performer. I will fondly remember countless matches and angles he did over the years, from television shows to PPVs to house shows at the Baltimore Arena and Capital Center where Michaels delivered PPV caliber matches and then danced all over the building celebrating with the fans.

Thanks, Shawn, for all the memories, regardless of whether or not you come back to provide a few more. And more importantly, I’m glad you seem to be moving away from the business in a good place personally and spiritually.

Final Thoughts:

This was a great and very memorable show. There were a few things I didn’t like but plenty more that I did even putting aside the tremendous conclusion with Shawn Michaels.

16 Comments:

Blogger Matt Betush said...

Todd, I think when Taker came out, he tipped his cap to HBK. He didn't just come out and then turn around, as your report indicates.

5:22 AM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

Matt: You're exactly right. UT went as far as the stage, tipped his hat, then left.

Todd: Two women's tag matches in as many weeks and the total match time is still under 2:00. What gives?

Hart Dynasty's face turn was way, way overdue. Smackdown is overrun with heels as it is, and the Dynasty's been treading water. It makes sense to have them challenge ShoMiz, because otherwise the champs are in an endless cycle of facing the same teams (Cryme Tyme, Henry/MVP, Morrison/Truth) over and over again. Natalya's been ignored in terms of the women's title, and they need one more female face on Smackdown to even things out in the divas' locker room.

Miz's promo was a case of the pot calling the kettle black, because I'm sure a lot of people think Miz is overrated himself, considering that his biggest asset is his mouth, which tends to get him in trouble.

If and when Hunter decides to retire, I think Cena & Orton (real-life pals from what I've read) would be the unofficial "new DX", so the torch may already have been passed in that regard.

Raw really needs to change writers.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous DW said...

Please...more DX we do not need. Something original if Cena and Orton are going to relate to each other in any way.... Besides, those two are far too mature in their behavior to lower themselves to the DX schtick.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

Am I the only one who thought Big Show was really awesome in his role today? The only reason I was okay with a countout finish (instead of having the Harts win clean) was because of the story between Miz and Show.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

Oh, and did anybody else notice you could hear Michael Cole sniffing into his mic during Michaels' speech? I guess it could've been Lawler, but I really doubt that.

10:58 AM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

DW: That's why I qualified my statement with "unofficial". Cena & Orton don't have to be a new DX, but it may fall upon them to be the leaders of the locker room once Hunter and/or UT decide to hang 'em up. Now if they can just convince Vince to retire his alter-ego once and for all.....

12:34 PM  
Anonymous DW said...

Why do we need "leaders" in the locker room? Why can't we break out of the stifling box that has been professional wrestling for so many years? "Face vs heel" a stranglehold on everything we see, with almost always predictable results. Who needs locker room leaders? Just give us great action with some buildup that ties it all together.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous PeteW said...

I have to second DW's comments. I am so tired of 'face' vs. 'heels'. It shows how limited the writers are in telling 'stories'. Individuals can be of more interest as themselves without the label telling fans who to like and who to hate. And as far as DX goes, there will never be another one - and I didn’t mean that as complimentary. I mean that as a comment on Trips' power. He has abused his privilege, buried good men at will for his own ego and continues to be an anchor weighting down so many good men and talent in order to always hog the spotlight and appear the Superman. He couldn’t even put over his own protégé at WM26. He's a selfish, egotistical sycophant.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Swagger winning MITB and his subsequent treatment shows how bad the booking has been in recent years. There was really no one they could give MITB to that was in the match that the people believe in.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous CF Kane said...

Decent show, I thought. I whole heartedly agree that they should've kept the belt on Big Dave for a while longer, as he was just pure gold in that role, and now we're back to smug Cena just gurning his way through promos. I do think it's odd that Orton is, I guess, a full-on face, as he's done nothing to merit it, beyond being a great character, but his feud with Legacy was essentially his kicking their asses. I guess if he maintains the silent killer role, then it's no big deal. If I hear this kid say 'poopy' at any time, we're quits, though. I can't buy Swagger as a threat, either, as there's nothing about him that says 'star', aside from his build, and his work is only decent. No character whatsoever, and that lisp really is distracting ( it's not his fault, I realize ).
I think that Michaels probably does think he's retiring; I sure wouldn't expect to see him any time in the future, and honestly hope that he does stay retired. He has nothing left to accomplish, he seems to have legit made peace with the Hitman, and his reputation as one of the greatest of all time is forever secured. I also thought the Game was genuine when he was showing his emotions. I understand he's eventually going heel again, but I can't really see a scenario where that works anymore. Michaels was the only guy who'd have earned crowd sympathy against him, and that's over with.

4:13 PM  
Blogger AKFooFighter said...

Dating myself here, but I vividly remember watching Michaels and Jannetty as "The Rockers" some 20 years ago in Grand Rapids, Mich.

As moving and realistic as Michaels appeared to be last evening, what can we take as truth? I certainly hope he meant what he said and Daddy is indeed going home. But I won't be stunned to hear the opening notes of "Sexy Boy" on my television somewhere down the line.

- Matt in Anchorage

4:13 PM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

Well, Raw may not have Swagger to kick around anymore. You'll have to watch Smackdown to see what I mean.

7:28 AM  
Anonymous Tony said...

Awesome Michaels speech of course, and the rest was just there. I still get chills remembering the Flair retirement speech from 2 years ago. This one wasn't as emotional because 1) I thought Flair would REALLY retire (I was wrong) whereas I don't believe for one second Michaels won't never wrestle again.
2) The whole roster and the fans, some of them crying, chanting "Thank you Ric" was just an awesome awesome poignant visual. It was surreal to me.

They didn't do it for HBK and I respect that, retirement speeches can be different.

Shawn Michaels is one of the rare guys who was already there when I started watching some 18 years ago. The only ones left now in the major leagues are Undertaker, Hogan, Flair, Sting, Nash and Hall I believe. He entertained me a lot. Simply put, one of the best all-around wrestlers of all time.

Athletic ability, storytelling, showmanship, charisma, this guy has it all, except he used to be an asshole but everybody can change as he's proved. I know I'll miss him more than any other. Who's gonna steal the show at WM now ? Who can guarantee a 4-star level match on almost every PPV ? You know the answer and that's why it's a sad day.

Todd's comments about crowd interaction on the mic is so true. The most striking thing <hen you watch Attitude Era shows is the hot crowds which is understandable for a boom period, and how the wrestlers from Austin to Rock to Road Dogg and McMahon would interact with the fans.

Today the wrestlers cut pretty much the same promos written for them by the same writers. They say the same things over and over (I like CM Punk but it gets so boring listening to him cut pretty much the exact same promo week after week, Jericho is almost in that category as well). And most notably, very rare are those who have a catchphrase anymore. That was a fundamental in previous generations, now except The Miz, it has totally disappeared.

5:00 AM  
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