Monday, May 31, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/31/10 from Austin, TX.

The Big News: For one week anyway, WWE seemed serious about getting over some new stars. Here’s to a sustained effort.

Show Analysis:

The show started abruptly with Edge attacking Evan Bourne in the ring. The announcers explained that Bourne had challenged Edge to a match for his Fatal Four Way shot at the title before the show started. I liked this start as a little change of pace from the Raw norm. Bourne hit double knees to Edge and a high knee. However, he missed the shooting star press and Edge hit a spear.

Edge said that this would happen to his opponents at the PPV. He talked about the other competitors and vowed to be a 10 time champion. He didn’t really have anything of note to say. Randy Orton then came out. Edge pointed out Orton isn’t 100 percent, but Orton gave him the RKO anyway.

Ashton Kutcher backstage was getting into an online dispute with Zack Ryder. He announced he put a hit on Ryder. Miz then came in and Kutcher put him in a match with Daniel Bryan. Bryan got a better reaction than he has received on Raw previously. Kutcher said that Bryan would make Miz tap. Kutcher was good here and throughout the show.

R. Truth beat Chris Jericho. Truth hit a pescado on Jericho. Jericho used a suplex and bulldog but missed the lionsault. He went for the Walls but Truth got out. They did a messed up, dangerous looking spot where Jericho got dropped on his head. Jericho then went for the Walls again but Truth reversed into a small package for the pin.

Clearly they are trying to run with Truth. I’ve liked Truth for much of his career and I think he is a fine candidate to try to elevate, but if they are going to give him a renewed push he desperately needs a new entrance song. A hip hop character is supposed to be cool, and only children are going to find a guy who raps the same damn thing every single week for years on end to be cool.

Bret Hart met with the Hart Dynasty backstage. Bret said he knew the Usos and signed them to Raw. He didn’t know they would attack the Hart Dynasty, but told the Dynasty that he wasn’t there to protect them. Bret asked them what they were going to do about the Usos.

Santino and Eve Torres beat William Regal and Maryse. Vladimir Kozlov was with William Regal and prior to the match Santino again tried to get Kozlov to join his side. Regal worked over Santino with forearms. A brawl with all four broke out and in the process Kozlov came in and gave Regal a choke slam. Santino covered for the pin. This was a weird segment.

Bret Hart did a promo in the ring next. He said that he and Teddy Long got together to do something special next week, bring all the Raw and Smackdown guys together. Why not just announce that the show will be special because Edge will appear while you’re at it, Bret? He announced that next week’s Raw will be three hours. That got no pop.

Bret added that he wanted suggestions from fans and wrestlers about next week. Ted DiBiase immediately came out and wanted to be in control. He offered to pay Bret but Bret basically declined. Ashton Kutcher then appeared on the screen and suggested “viewer’s choice,” where fans pick the matches and stipulations. Bret liked this.

Vince McMahon then immediately came out. He planted the question as to why exactly he made Bret GM. He then said that the fans are like children and you’ve got to do what’s best for them. He added that he hoped Bret’s story as GM has a happy ending. The basic idea was Vince is up to something but we don’t know what. Vince was overacting terribly yet again.

Two notes on this segment. First, I hope they have ideas for making this “viewer’s choice” idea feel like the fans actually have a say in what’s going on. WWE is so controlling of everything and I suspect the gimmick of giving fans control will make it even more apparent than usual how little WWE listens to its fans.

Second, this is a frequent problem but this segment felt so unbelievably contrived. Bret announces he is soliciting ideas for next week and Ted DiBiase is just waiting right behind the curtain with his idea already in his head. Then Ashton Kutcher is on the screen and has a plan of his own already devised. Bret thinks this ambiguously devised plan over for a few seconds and agrees, at which point Vince McMahon is backstage right behind the curtain ready to immediately comment on this idea that developed in the previous minute. It all felt particularly fake and thus less effective.

When one character is supposedly reacting to another, there needs to be some period of recognition and thought prior to response. This is just basic logic. Tell the story over a two or three week period, or at the very least break it up so Bret says he’s looking for ideas early in the show, DiBiase and Kutcher approach him backstage in the middle, and Vince comes out to respond towards the end.

Edge injured Randy Orton’s shoulder backstage with a door. Randy Orton was previously announced as John Cena’s partner in the main event of this show, but this was done to write him out so Cena would have to find a new partner.

Daniel Bryan beat Miz. Bryan hit some punches and went for an armbar. Miz was in the ropes. Miz hit a clothesline to the back of the head and Michael Cole began just tearing into Bryan. I enjoyed this but I suspect it’s weird for the majority of Raw viewers who don’t watch NXT when the longtime face announcer is going over-the-top heel on a random guy they don’t know.

Bryan applied his omoplata/crossface submission. Bryan reversed into a rollup but Bryan reversed that into a rollup of his own for the pin. It’s certainly good that Bryan won here, but they should have built this up more and given it more time. On the positive side, the crowd seemed much more into Bryan than we’ve seen before.

The Usos and Tamina came out to cut a terribly scripted promo. Tamina got in two “WWE Universe” references, because regurgitating company buzzwords is exactly how heels should be talking. They acknowledged that the Usos are Rikishi’s sons and Tamina is Jimmy Snuka’s daughter. Honestly, I wouldn’t do that any more. It’s a good idea if there are a few wrestlers like that, but it seems like every other new wrestler (and half the FCW roster) is second generation, and it raises the question why exactly nobody is breaking into wrestling who didn’t grow up in wrestling. The Usos vowed to dominate.

The Hart Dynasty ran in to attack the Usos. They went for the Hart attack but Tamina tripped Tyson Kidd and gave Natalya a clothesline. The Usos used a double crescent kick and double team into a Samoan drop. They then hit the three top rope splashes.

Zack Ryder came to the ring and wanted to know who Ashton Kutcher called to take out Ryder. Jerry Lawler came into the ring from behind with a chair, but Kutcher said it wasn’t Lawler so Lawler just left. No explanation was given as to why Lawler did that other than to set up a pointless swerve. Great Khali came out but that was just a swerve too and he left. Goldust was next and he left. Kutcher said Ryder would never see it coming, so of course Alicia Fox attacked Ryder with a horrendous looking kick. This was an awful, completely illogical swervefest.

Backstage Edge suggested to Sheamus that they be smart and take out Cena together. Sheamus said that if Edge tried to take advantage of him it would be Edge’s last mistake. They announced three of the stars of the A-Team as the guest hosts for next week (everyone but Liam Neeson).

John Cena and Evan Bourne beat Edge and Sheamus. Cena did a great job prior to the match introducing Bourne as his partner and putting Bourne over. The heels worked over Bourne. Bourne came back with kicks but couldn’t get the tag and Sheamus gave him an ax handle to the head. Bourne came back again later with an enzuigiri to Edge and tagged Cena.

Cena came in with a Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle on Sheamus. He went for the FU but Sheamus escaped and hit a power slam. Sheamus went for the big boot but was caught with a Bourne kick. Cena hit the FU and tagged Bourne. Bourne hit the shooting star press for the pin.

This was a very good match and it was booked absolutely perfectly to make Bourne look strong. They linked him with a top guy, let him do his stuff, and allowed him to score the pin. You can’t ask for anything more and the crowd reacted very well to it.

Final Thoughts:

With WWE’s roster precariously shallow, there is an obvious and immediate need to get over new stars. If nothing else, tonight’s edition of Raw demonstrated that WWE is aware of that reality. There were attempts throughout the show to promote and elevate newer talent (Evan Bourne, R. Truth, Daniel Bryan, the Usos) and that’s a very good thing. I didn’t care for the execution of some of these segments, but WWE was trying to do the right things and that gets a thumbs up from me. The main event was the best and most effective segment of the show, and that’s always a good thing as well.

Monday, May 24, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/24/10 from Toledo, OH.

The Big News: With Batista’s departure, WWE’s talent roster is the thinnest it has been since WCW folded.

Show Analysis:

The show started with Batista. He was helped out by two referees, with his arm in a sling and wearing a ridiculous pair of glasses. The whole thing seemed to be played for comedy, and it was very funny. Batista sat down in a wheelchair in the ring and demanded a spotlight.

Batista acknowledged quitting, but said he did it because his life was threatened. He said he would sue WWE and John Cena and would then sue the fans for supporting what happened to him. I’m going to weigh in with my expert legal opinion on this one and proclaim Batista’s lawsuit against the fans unlikely to win. Batista said he could have done what Cena did but he believes in honor. He said that he is out for weeks, months, maybe years. But he vowed to be back and get his rematch.

He was interrupted by the new GM of Raw, Bret Hart. Bret announced a “new pay-per-view concept” (sounds like we hear that every month) Fatal Four Way. Bret said that John Cena’s three opponents for that would be determined on Raw. Bret said Batista would have a chance to get back in. Wait a second. Wasn’t the whole stipulation of the match last night that it would be Batista and Cena’s last match for the title? I guess multiple person matches don’t count.

Anyway, Batista pointed out he is hurt and in a wheelchair. Bret said that Batista’s opponent is hurt too, Randy Orton. Batista he reiterated that he can’t compete. Bret said he could take the match or forfeit. Batista threatened to quit the company. So Bret said that winner and qualifier was Orton. What a great way to make the fatal four way PPV feel important, have the first guy (and a face at that) thrown in without even qualifying.

Batista screamed at the fans that the company will fall apart without him and then he quit WWE. As Batista was leaving, the ring announcer said, “Let’s hear it for Batista.” That was another hilarious touch. This whole segment was very amusing to me, but I’m not sure it’s the way you should be handling the conclusion to a world title program and the departure of a big time player. I’m going to miss Batista.

Sheamus beat Mark Henry to qualify for the fatal four way title match. Henry hit a body slam and threw Sheamus over the top. Sheamus retaliated with a chop block, stomps and shoulder blocks. Henry took over with clotheslines and a splash but his shoulder gave out when he went for a press slam. Sheamus then hit the bicycle kick for the win.

They did a comedy vignette backstage with Jon Lovitz and Maryse. Lovitz won her over by speaking French and pointing out he’s rich but then rejected her. Elsewhere, Edge wanted to wrestle the injured John Cena for his shot into the fatal four way. Chris Jericho also wanted in the fatal four way. So Bret Hart made Edge vs. Jericho vs. Cena. If Edge or Jericho won, they would be in the match. If Cena won, Bret would find someone else. Jericho threatened Bret, so they appear to be building something between the two.

Maryse and Alicia Fox beat Gail Kim and Eve Torres. The heels worked on Gail briefly, with Maryse hitting a back breaker. Eve tagged in and hit a neck breaker and standing moonsault on Maryse. Alicia then kicked Eve in the head and Maryse used an implant DDT for the pin.

R. Truth beat Miz to win the United States title. They announced that Bret Hart had abdicated the title and that this singles match was made to determine a new champion. Miz worked over Truth. Truth came back with a dropkick off the second rope and a downward spiral. Truth went for a crossbody off the top but Miz rolled through for two. Truth then hit the lie detector for the win. This was a good match, but there is no excuse for putting up the vacated title in a singles match between two midcarders without at the very least a mini-tournament. This whole presentation did a number on the value of the US title and did Truth no favors either.

John Cena cut a promo backstage saying he felt good when Batista quit because it meant closure but then Sheamus came out and kicked him in the face. He said that the challengers never stop coming for the title but he will stand and fight. He kept saying “Cenanation” over and over again. That’s just what we need: more pointless corporate buzzwords nobody uses shamelessly crammed down our throats like we’re mindless, easily manipulated parakeets.

Next up Jon Lovitz hosted a “superstar search,” looking for WWE stars’ hidden talents. I feel like we’ve seen this vignette under a different name a bunch of times now and it’s always awful. This segment was particularly hideous, and it’s all on the horrendous material because Lovitz himself did as well as could be expected.

Great Khali and Ranjin Singh came out singing in suits. Lovitz didn’t like it. He then got rid of Jillian Hall before she started. Finally he brought a plant into the ring to show his talent, which was pulling out his fake eye. Ted DiBiase then came out and wanted to buy the eye. Santino made the save and threatened to use a secret pressure point he learned from Lovitz. It worked on Virgil but DiBiase laid him out with Dream Street. Lovitz proclaimed DiBiase the winner. God I hated this segment. I mean, I really really hated this segment.

Hart Dynasty beat William Regal and Vladimir Kozlov. The heels very briefly worked on Tyson Kidd. Kidd got the tag to David Hart Smith and they hit the Hart attack on Regal shortly thereafter for the pin. After the match the Usos and Sarona Snuka (unidentified by the announcers) attacked the Hart Dynasty and Natalya. All three hit simultaneous top rope splashes. I hope they can talk or work because they don’t have a major league look at all.

The NXT guys were interviewed backstage. Everyone but Heath Slater wanted Heath Slater gone. I agree with everyone but Heath Slater. They then spotlighted Daniel Bryan attacking Michael Cole, with Bryan calling Cole a poor man’s Jim Ross. I always thought of Cole as a poor man’s Tony Schiavone myself. Cole vowed to call out Bryan tomorrow on NXT and demand an apology or he’ll sue Bryan. They announced Ashton Kutcher as guest host next week.

Edge beat Chris Jericho and John Cena to earn the final spot in the fatal four way. Jericho worked over Cena in the ring for a while as Edge was on the outside. Cena made his comeback with shoulder blocks, the Cena slam and the five knuckle. When he went for the FU of course Edge came in. He speared Jericho accidentally. Cena applied the STF on Edge but Jericho came in and put the Walls on Cena. He then put the Walls on Edge. Cena broke that up.

Cena went for the FU on Jericho but Edge broke that up with a slow motion spear. Jericho hit the code breaker on Cena but Edge then speared and covered Jericho for the win. Sheamus and Randy Orton came out after the match and they all looked at each other. This was a good match but these guys seemed a little off based on their usual standard.

Final Thoughts:

This show gets a mild thumbs down from me. There wasn’t much that was terrible beyond the superstar search segment, but I felt most segments weren’t particularly effective in what they were trying to accomplish. WWE is also heavily feeling the consequences these days of their continual burials of rising talent. With many of their established stars getting older and needing more time off, they just don’t have credible young stars to put in their place. As a result, Raw is dreadfully thin these days and there are no easy answers for how to fix that problem.

I’ll be in Las Vegas for UFC 114 this weekend, blogging on the event for the Los Angeles Times. You can check that out Saturday at Also, if you’re a subscriber I encourage you to check out the audio shows I’ve been doing weekly with Bryan Alvarez. I’m very pleased with how those are going and think you’ll enjoy them as well.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/17/10 from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The Big News: Bret Hart won the United States Title.

Show Analysis:

Bret Hart came out to start the show. He got a huge reaction, which made me happy. He said that he heard about Miz’s challenge and initially told WWE he would accept. But then he thought about it more and realized he doesn’t want to be one of those wrestlers who hold on too long. Thus, he concluded that he wouldn’t wrestle anymore and hoped he wasn’t disappointing anyone.

Chris Jericho interrupted Bret and got another big reaction. Jericho wanted to know why Bret ever came back to WWE. He said that Bret is tarnishing his status and is already one of those wrestlers holding on too long. Jericho labeled Bret the ultimate hypocrite who came back to WWE because he is an ego-driven phony. Jericho said Bret deserved to be screwed.

Bret responded by talking about Jericho hanging around the Hart basement trying to learn to wrestle. Bret said Jericho is the phony walking around now like he’s a big shot. Jericho said that he’s better than Bret ever was, and the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. Jericho said he’s the only person who matters now and that Bret’s fans are sickened to see what he has become.

Jericho continued by saying that nobody wants to see Bret any more. The crowd responded by chanting “we want Bret.” Jericho said that now Bret is just a guy afraid to take on Miz in a fight. He concluded that Bret doesn’t mean anything, the Hart name doesn’t mean anything, and Stu would be ashamed of Bret.

Bret told Jericho that he accepted the match. Jericho claimed Bret would try to get himself disqualified and asked for a no-DQ match. Bret said he wouldn’t want it any other way. He said he would take the US title and the Hart Dynasty would take the tag titles.

I absolutely loved this opening. It may have been the best segment with Bret Hart since he returned to WWE, because the crowd loved him so much and Jericho was much better in my opinion verbally dueling with Bret than Vince McMahon was. This was a really inspired segment in making Jericho look like a jerk and Bret look like a hero.

During the show they aired three spoofs of commercials. Spoofing a commercial makes you come across as bottom of the barrel lame, uncreative and low rent. It’s a commercial. It’s not high art. If you want to do a spoof, by all means spoof a movie or a song or a current event. And f you want to do a fake commercial, you should at least be able to make up your own 30 second premise rather than ripping off a three year old joke from freaking Visa. Congratulations, you’re miraculously even lamer than Date Movie.

Anyway, one of these was comedy based around the idea of Great Khali crammed in a tight rental car. The second was about R. Truth slapping Ted DiBiase. The third was comedy about a woman going on a blind date with Goldust. They also did a vignette later with Santino Marella. In spite of my criticism of the idea of them spoofing commercials, the vignettes themselves were mostly fine.

Edge beat Christian. The story was that Edge and Randy Orton got to pick the other’s opponent for Raw, so Christian came out. Smackdown wrestlers were all over the show and they didn’t really even try to explain it. It’s beating a dead horse at this point, but it really is ridiculous they can’t work out a basic, logical and consistent premise for how the different brands work and when they can mix. Particularly when your announcers were freaking out like maniacs when Kelly Kelly got drafted to Smackdown three weeks ago.

Edge got a big face pop, and the crowd didn’t seem to know how to react when Christian came out to wrestle him. They seemed ready to cheer Edge a ton but weren’t about to boo Christian. Christian chased Edge around but was caught with punches. Christian hit a baseball slide and springboard crossbody but then crashed into the barricade charging at Edge. They teased a count out all the way to nine.

Edge worked over Christian for a while. Christian came back with a tornado DDT for two. He followed with a second rope dropkick for another near fall. Christian set up for the kill switch but Edge escaped twice. Christian missed a splash off the top and Edge hit an implant DDT for two. They did a series of rollup attempts. Edge went for the spear but Christian avoided it. Christian went for the kill switch but Edge countered by throwing Christian into the post and hitting a spear for the pin.

This was a very good match. Edge and Christian as you would expect worked really well together and they gave them plenty of time for the match to build. After this, Randy Orton appeared on the screen. He said that he didn’t know why Christian was out there, because that wasn’t Edge’s opponent for the night.

Undertaker beat Edge via count out. Undertaker made his entrance to a big response. Edge didn’t bother competing. He stood on the apron and took the count out. Then Christian threw Edge back in the ring and Undertaker gave Edge a choke slam. Obviously, they delivered absolutely nothing with this match, but I was totally cool with it. The fans got a bonus Undertaker entrance and appearance, Edge already provided a good match, and you didn’t advertise anything in advance that you didn’t deliver.

Backstage, Maryse was getting her makeup done. First, she badmouthed Trish Stratus. Then she made a point to note she’s French Canadian as opposed to Canadian. Then she started mocking Eve Torres. Eve came up from behind and attacked her.

They did a backstage vignette with Buzz Aldrin. Buzz had all this merchandise all over his office and was plugging his iphone application. It came across kind of sad to see this man who was involved in such a seminal event in human history shamelessly hawking this tacky crap on Raw. Oh well. Vickie Guerrero came in and wanted the office. Buzz pointed out that she resigned last week and said that WWE will name her replacement as GM on Raw next week. The Bellas escorted Vickie out.

Mark Henry was coming to the ring for a match presumably with Batista when Batista attacked him from behind. Batista hit him with a 2 x 4, rammed him into the post twice, and threw him into the steps. Henry did a good job selling this, which isn’t always an easy task for such a big man.

Ted DiBiase beat Yoshi Tatsu. DiBiase was escorted to the ring by Wrestling Superstar Virgil. Virgil didn’t look very happy and unfortunately wasn’t dressed in one of his old suits. There were chants for Virgil. Tatsu used some hip tosses. DiBiase took over with some punches and kicks. Tatsu came back with kicks but missed a head kick and was caught with Dream Street for the pin. This was fine but a little disappointing. DiBiase said that the original version isn’t ashamed to be the new Virgil. DiBiase said Virgil will be in his corner on Sunday against R. Truth. Presumably Virgil will turn on DiBiase.

Bret Hart beat the Miz to win the United States title. Miz said prior to the match that not only would he beat Bret but he would publicly humiliate him and spit on the Hart heritage. He vowed to make Bret tap to the sharpshooter. Miz said he didn’t trust Bret so he paid off a couple guys to neutralize the Hart Dynasty. Vladimir Kozlov and William Regal came out. Man, you get what you pay for. Miz should have anted up for better goons.

The Hart Dynasty came out of the crowd and brawled with Regal and Kozlov to the back. Chris Jericho then came into the ring to join Miz. Natalya joined Bret. She slapped Jericho. Jericho recovered and went after Bret, but David Hart Smith made the save and attacked Jericho. Miz knocked Smith out of the ring, leaving just Miz and Bret. Miz went for the sharpshooter but Tyson Kidd hit a springboard dropkick to break it up.

Hart Dynasty proceeded to hit the Hart Attack on Miz. Bret applied the sharpshooter and Miz tapped out. This was a fun segment designed to make the fans happy and I love it when they have feel good moments with legends like this from time to time. One interesting note during this match was that Michael Cole kept heeling on Bret, so his NXT persona appears to be drifting to Raw.

Maryse, Layla El and Michelle McCool beat Eve Torres and the Bella Twins. Michelle and Layla now both have women’s title belts. Eve hit a Samoan drop and neck breaker on Layla. Brie tagged in but was caught with a Michelle kick to the face. She got the tag to Nikki, who hit dropkicks and a monkey flip on Michelle. Nikki missed a crossbody off the ropes. Maryse tagged herself in, hit the implant DDT on Nikki, and scored the pin. After the match Maryse and Eve did a bad looking pull apart. This was a sloppy match.

Backstage, John Cena cut a cheesy, overacted promo. He said he would take out Sheamus to make sure Sheamus isn’t an obstacle at Over the Limit. He added that the I quit stipulation is because he wants no dispute over who is the best between Cena and Batista. If Batista can make him say I quit, he doesn’t deserve another shot at becoming champ. He loudly vowed not to quit and the crowd booed. I have trouble explaining what happened with John Cena. I really thought he was a fantastic promo for years and years but now I think he has become atrocious. Often his material isn’t very good but here his delivery was awful.

Randy Orton beat Jack Swagger via DQ. Orton used the Garvin stomp. He missed a knee drop and Swagger took over with mat wrestling. Swagger hit a belly to belly, sent Orton into the announce table twice, hit two Vader bombs, and rammed Orton into the apron. Orton countered another Vader bomb attempt with a kick. Orton hit clotheslines, a powerslam, and a DDT off the ropes. Orton set up for the RKO but Edge ran in for the DQ. Orton gave Swagger the RKO but Edge gave Orton the spear. This was a good match.

Next up was a weird train wreck segment. Buzz Aldrin came to the ring to talk about space flight. He got “what” chants. His deliver was really goofy. Zack Ryder and Alicia Fox interrupted him. That was a quick courtship. Ryder ran down Canada. They showed the epic youtube clip of Buzz punching out a moon landing conspiracy theorist. He was supposed to introduce Evan Bourne and Gail Kim but they evidently lost confidence in him and just played Bourne’s music as Buzz was talking. Buzz still delivered what he was supposed to.

Evan Bourne and Gail Kim beat Zack Ryder and Alicia Fox. Alicia hit a Northern lights suplex on Gail for two. Gail hit a neck breaker. Bourne used a spinning head scissors and high knee on Ryder. Bourne went for the shooting star but Alicia pushed Ryder out of the ring so Bourne hit a crossbody to the floor on Ryder. Gail then hit eat defeat on Alicia for the win. Buzz did the moonwalk after. They announced Jon Lovitz as guest host for Raw next week, which could be good.

John Cena beat Sheamus via DQ. Cena sent Sheamus into the steps and posted Sheamus. Sheamus hit a back breaker, knee to the head, and worked Cena over. Cena came back with the five knuckle shuffle and was booed. He went for the FU but Sheamus grabbed the ropes. Cena threw Sheamus to the floor. Batista then came in and hit three spine busters and the Batista bomb for the DQ. Batista then put Cena in the rings of Saturn and screamed at Cena to quit. Cena wouldn’t do so as the show ended.

I was fine with the finish to Orton/Swagger because you don’t really want to beat either guy going into the PPV, but they really shouldn’t have used the same lame run-in DQ finish twice in the same show.

Final Thoughts:

I thought this was an enjoyable show. The Bret Hart/Chris Jericho/Miz stuff worked very well and there was some good wrestling throughout. The great crowd in Toronto was also a huge help as it made it a hot show. Some of the finishes were pretty darn weak, but overall the show delivered.

Monday, May 10, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/10/10 from Pittsburgh, PA.

The Big News: Edge and Vickie Guerrero inexplicably reconciled, while Miz will wrestle Bret Hart for the United States title next week.

Show Analysis:

Randy Orton came out to start the show. He said that he didn’t agree to team with Edge last week because Edge really just wanted to keep him under control. And here I thought you didn’t agree to team with him because he cost you a title match for no discernable reason the week before.

Meat Loaf then came out. Yes, Meat Loaf. Great. He was acting like an idiot. Jerry Lawler explained that all the celebrities want to be on Raw. Yeah, I’d want to be on Raw too if they decided their TV show was best utilized as a vehicle to promote whatever product I felt like hawking. Speaking of which, Meat Loaf proceeded to shamelessly hawk his new album. He started singing different songs while Orton and I looked at him with murderous intentions. After about 18 hours, Orton finally laid him out with a terrible looking RKO.

Edge came out and said he doesn’t like the celebrities either. He said he called the WWE headquarters and argued the guest hosts need to go. Wait, is he turning face again? WWE HQ agreed that the guest hosts would no longer have authority on Raw. Well, that’s not good enough. “That’s not good enough,” Edge said. Yay Edge! So he announced that WWE agreed to a new permanent Raw GM. But wait, what about dumping the guest hosts? Keep your eyes on the prize, Edge!

Edge introduced the new GM of Raw, Vickie Guerrero. Edge and Vickie were cool and both happy about this. Let’s pause for a second. So, Edge doesn’t like celebrities and complained about this to WWE. Their solution was to give the celebrities’ authority to Vickie Guerrero.

What relationship do Vickie and Edge have? Why, they were married until less than a year ago when Edge divorced her and proceeded to cut one of the meanest wrestling promos I’ve ever heard on her. Edge demanded a divorce, called her a she-beast, said that he had to go to the bathroom to dry heave after kissing her, and concluded that the only saving grace was that they never consummated the marriage. He left her screaming and crying hysterically.

So, less than a year later, Edge is told that this woman is going to be the person with control over him rather than the celebrities. And he’s fine with this. And moreover, she’s no longer even mad at him. This is such ungodly horrendous writing. Why should we as an audience invest in your storylines if you’re so remarkably inattentive to recent main event angles?

Vickie came out to mega heat. Vickie chastised Randy Orton for attacking celebrities and announced Edge and a partner against Randy Orton in a handicap match later in the show. This was an absolutely terrible start to the show.

Chris Jericho beat David Hart Smith. As a result of the match, Chris Jericho and Miz earned a title shot against Hart Dynasty at Over the Limit. Smith hit a belly to belly suplex and power slam. He applied the sharpshooter but Jericho got to the ropes. Jericho then thumbed him in the eye and hit the code breaker for the pin. This was way too short but was good while it lasted. Edge was shown backstage talking to Batista.

R. Truth and Flavor Flav came out together with Flavor Flav saying “what’s up” and “yeah boy.” Chuck D continues to roll over in his grave. Flavor Flav plugged his crap. R. Truth was supposed to wrestle William Regal in a singles match, but they didn’t even go 30 seconds before Primo and Carlito Colon attacked Truth. The announcers explained that Primo and Carlito reunited on Superstars, which was news to me. Ted DiBiase gave Primo and Carlito envelopes for their 30 second, run-of-the-mill attack.

They showed Maryse in the ring training with someone in a gi. They referenced Eve’s jiu jitsu, but Maryse was just doing horrible judo throws and failing at judo trips. The instructor said she sucks so she kicked him and left. This was counterproductive. Randy Orton backstage wanted Vickie Guerrero at ringside for his match. They then announced a commercial free Raw next week with Buzz Aldrin as guest host.

Evan Bourne beat Zack Ryder in another too short match. Gail Kim and Alicia Fox were at ringside. Alicia hated Ryder last week but this week for no apparent reason she liked him and was rooting for him. Bourne went to the top and Alicia tried to stop him but Gail stopped her. Bourne then hit the shooting star press for the pin. Again, if you’re going to devote a segment each week to one undercard wrestler, why not build it around that guy winning each week rather than having him lose to a different random guy you have no plans for each week? Aren’t you trying to create stars?

Immediately after this match my Raw feed oddly went out. I’m not sure the deal. It came back as Sheamus was walking down to the ring. Apparently in the interim John Cena cut a promo where he announced his match with Batista would be an I quit match and their last match for the title. He then insulted Sheamus for attacking him last week.

As Sheamus came down, Batista also came out. Batista and Sheamus both got their shots in on Cena. Batista sent Cena into the post and Sheamus gave him the big boot. Batista went for the Batista bomb but Mark Henry made the save.

Edge and Vickie met backstage. Edge explained that he divorced her and horribly ridiculed her to get her sympathy. Vickie seemed fine with this explanation and they decided that they should be friends. Edge asked Vickie to come to ringside for the main event. Vickie said no until Edge guaranteed nothing would happen to her.

Tyson Kidd beat Miz. And they didn’t even give them 45 seconds. What can you even say? Kidd just rolled him up for the pin and that was that. This was the most irritating of the show’s ridiculously short matches. As a result of this, a Hart got a title shot against Miz next week on Raw. Miz said that he got to decide who would receive the title shot and picked Bret Hart.

Skip Sheffield, Michael Tarver, Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, Darren Young, Heath Slater, David Otunga and Justin Gabriel beat John Morrison, Yoshi Tatsu, Santino Marella and Goldust. This is supposed to get people to watch NXT? An eight on four match? The one highlight here was the slow motion entrance of Goldust, Morrison, Tatsu and Marella doing their various gestures. It was pretty damn funny.

Gabriel and Otunga worked over Tatsu. Slater and Morrison tagged in. Morrison hit clotheslines and punches. He went for starship pain but Slater got his knees up. Bryan and Santino tagged in, and Bryan rolled up Santino for the win. The NXT rookies put Bryan on their shoulders like he was the conquering hero and whooped it up after winning 8 on 4 by pinning Santino. They find new and unique ways of burying Bryan each week.

They did one of their backstage guest host comedy segments. Kozlov wanted a restraining order from Santino. Santino thought they’d make a good tag team. Regal tried to get Kozlov to come along, but Flavor Flav, Santino and Kozlov all wanted Regal to rap. Regal rapped. It was kind of amusing.

Batista was supposed to wrestle Mark Henry but the match didn’t start. Batista attacked Henry with repeated chair shots to the shoulder. Batista then applied the old Rings of Saturn and Henry tapped out even though there was no match. Henry then passed out. I realized when Batista applied the rings, “Oh yeah, Batista never uses submissions.” That’s kind of a drag on the I quit stipulation.

Randy Orton beat Edge and Ted DiBiase. Edge came out with Vickie. The heels worked over Orton. Orton came back with a power slam on DiBiase and sent Edge into the announce table. He gave DiBiase a back breaker but DiBiase avoided the RKO. R. Truth then came out for WWE’s favorite shortcut finish: the old distraction. DiBiase starred at Truth and Orton caught him with the RKO. After the match Orton went after Vickie and she resigned out of fear. Orton then gave Edge the RKO. So Vickie won’t be GM after all.

Final Thoughts:

I hated this show, which rushed through amazingly brief matches to fit in a stream of illogical, stupid and counterproductive angles. The angles consistently made me less interested in the programs and characters they were supposed to build and the Edge/Vickie stuff was a particularly egregious affront to anyone who pays the slightest attention to WWE storylines.

Monday, May 03, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/03/10 from Jacksonville, FL.

The Big News: Chris Jericho and Miz have formed an alliance.

Show Analysis:

Batista came out to start the show. He said that he’s only the number one contender when he should be champion. He pointed out what bullshit the duct tape finish to the last man standing match was. He called it the most embarrassing moment of John Cena’s life and something that Hornswoggle would do. He then vowed to win a beat the clock challenge to pick the stipulation for his match with John Cena at Over the Limit.

Sheamus joined Batista in the ring. He said that Batista lost at Extreme Rules while he won. He challenged Batista to a match with Batista’s title shot on the line. Batista responded that Sheamus had his shot and blew it. Sheamus told Batista that this wasn’t over, and that Sheamus would be champion again sooner than Batista thinks. This was a very good opening segment. It was much more intriguing than the average WWE argument over a title shot. I also like the idea of Sheamus being the one to put Batista out of action. It would mean more than having Cena do it.

Batista beat Daniel Bryan in 5:06 in a beat the clock challenge. Miz was supposed to be the opponent for Batista. He said he would like to wrestle Batista but that he was injured from Big Show’s punch. He had a doctor’s note, which was a piece of paper with “doctor’s note” written in big handwriting. That was good comedy. Miz then introduced Bryan as the opponent. Michael Cole of course buried Bryan, but Bryan grabbed the microphone and vowed to make Batista tap out.

Batista went for the Batista bomb quickly but Bryan reversed into a pin attempt. Bryan applied an ankle lock but Batista got out. Bryan tried a sleeper but Batista threw him off. Batista used some hard Irish whips. Bryan countered with a guillotine but Batista threw him off again. Batista rammed Bryan into the ring apron and hit a head over heels clothesline but Bryan kicked out. Bryan retaliated with punches and kicks but was caught with a boot from Batista. Bryan landed a high kick and applied a modified shoulderlock/crossface. Batista got to the ropes.

Bryan started stomping Batista, but Batista kicked out his leg. Batista then hit the Batista bomb for the pin. Batista gave Bryan another two Batista bombs after the match for good measure. This was a good match and certainly better for Bryan than a lot of his other losses. However, there comes a point when a wrestler has lost so much that they simply cannot be helped by a “good showing” in yet another loss. And it’s never good for a face to promise to do something and then fail.

Guest host Wayne Brady approached Eve, who was doing a photo shoot backstage. Brady said that he loves Raw and loves wrestling. Ixnay on the estlingwray, Ayneway. Sorry, that last one was kind of pointless. Jillian Hall came in and did some bad singing before Brady got rid of her. While this was going on Maryse took Eve’s title and hit Eve with it.

Edge backstage wanted to show footage of his live sex gimmick with Lita or his TLC matches. The production guy said no, this was just too edgy. Apparently he didn’t actually watch the segments in question. Edge said that he’s rated R, not PG. I hate to break it to you, Edge, but you’re barely PG-13 at your worst. But I guess that’s someone else’s gimmick anyway. Edge said that this was live TV so he would do whatever he wants and bring about controversy. A doubtful claim.

John Morrison beat Ted DiBiase. Prior to the match, DiBiase talked about offering R. Truth a better life and made fun of Truth’s song. He said that he will hire an assistant and that assistant will take out Truth. Morrison clotheslined DiBiase to the outside and hit a springboard 450 plancha which drew a “that was awesome” chant from the crowd. DiBiase then just let himself be counted out.

Morrison said this wouldn’t be the start for him on Raw. He challenged DiBiase to come back to finish the match and said that if DiBiase won he would be DiBiase’s Virgil. DiBiase returned and worked Morrison over. DiBiase went for Dream Street but Morrison got out. DiBiase hit a power slam and head over heels clothesline for two.

DiBiase grabbed the cobra clutch again but Morrison ran up the ropes and cradled DiBiase for the pin (the Steve Austin/Bret Hart finish from Survivor Series 1996). DiBiase jumped Morrison after the match but Truth made the save. This was a good match and I liked the addition of the stipulation to add drama to the segment.

John Cena beat Wade Barrett to win the beat the clock challenge. Chris Jericho was scheduled to be Cena’s opponent. Jericho said he wouldn’t pull himself away in the same way Miz did. Rather, he explained, he has beaten Cena so many times that doing it again would be a waste of his time. He said he had a handpicked opponent for Cena in Barrett.

Cena went for the FU quickly but Jericho got on the apron. Cena knocked Jericho off and threw Barrett on Jericho, but as Cena pursued Jericho provided a distraction that allowed Barrett to take over. Barrett used really basic offense, mostly punches and kicks. He hit one back breaker.

As this was going on Jericho did a great job putting over Barrett and berating the announcers at ringsider. He was so entertaining. Cena then all of a sudden caught the STF and Barrett tapped with 30 seconds left. This wasn’t a good match. Cena was going to announce the stipulation for his match with Batista when Sheamus came out and laid Cena out. So we’ll have to wait to find out.

Maryse beat Nikki Bella in a short match. Nikki threw Maryse into the turnbuckle a few times. She went to the top but Maryse threw her off and hit a DDT for the pin. Afterwards, Maryse showed photos on the screen of her mocking an unconscious Eve at the photo shoot backstage. That was amusing. Eve went after Maryse but was held back by a referee.

Mark Henry beat Zack Ryder. Ryder said that the big news of the draft is that he is still on Raw. He proclaimed himself single and ready to mingle (since Rosa Mendes was drafted to Smackdown). I wonder what percentage of the audience even knows who Ryder is, who Mendes is, that they were together or that Mendes was drafted to Smackdown.

Alicia Fox and Gail Kim were invited to ringside to watch Ryder’s match. Henry came out as the opponent. Henry hit a body slam. Ryder used a dropkick off the second rope but was caught with a clothesline and the world’s strongest slam for the pin. Gail and Alicia were unimpressed with Ryder and left with Henry.

To me, the goal of a wrestling show should be to try to get people over. These humiliation segments, however, are always focused on mocking one guy rather than getting the other over. The whole focus and take home point here was that Ryder is a loser rather than Henry is a winner, and to me that’s a counterproductive mentality.

Chris Jericho and Miz backstage shared their aggravation over the Big Show. They took turns making fun of him. Miz lamented that they couldn’t get revenge on him because he’s on Smackdown. That’s never stopped Jericho (or 800 other wrestlers before). Anyway, Jericho had a plan and went off to discuss it with Miz. So apparently they are going to go after the tag titles as a way to go to Smackdown and get revenge on Big Show. I like that angle.

They did some “comedy” backstage with Wayne Brady, Santino, Vladimir Kozlov, William Regal and Goldust. Santino tried to talk Kozlov out of teaming with Regal because Regal turned on Kozlov before.

Hart Dynasty beat William Regal and Vladimir Kozlov. Jericho and Miz did commentary, and Jericho in particular was great again. The heels worked over Tyson Kidd. Kidd got the tag to Smith. Regal tried to cut off Smith but was caught in the sharpshooter for the submission. Miz ran in afterwards and was caught by Smith, but Jericho then came in and gave Smith the code breaker.

Edge’s Cutting Edge was the final segment. Edge labeled himself the most controversial wrestler in the history of WWE. What exactly is controversial about him? That he broke up Matt Hardy and Lita and did a segment once that teased but didn’t deliver nudity? Edge then explained why he attacked Randy Orton. It didn’t make any sense to me.

Edge said that he was working towards the Smackdown title and was angry that he was drafted to Raw. Thus, he attacked Orton as an act of defiance so he would become talked about. That reminds me of the time I was angry at my cable company so I gave a dirty look to the guy at the Laundromat. Wayne Brady then came out. I don’t really understand the why on that either. He apparently wanted to play around and cut a joking promo. Brady seemed congenial enough and Edge was nice to him, but Randy Orton came out and gave Brady an RKO for some reason.

Edge told Orton he had to make a statement, and referred to their tag team. He said that they could team again and dominate. So why didn’t you spear Sheamus or Batista or Cena? Edge then said he wasn’t planning to spear Orton but now he is glad he did. Edge said he did everything he was supposed to coming back from injury but wasn’t fully supported, while Orton doesn’t care about anyone but gets the fans’ support. Umm, you were more over as a face than Orton, buddy.

Orton went for the RKO but Edge hit a big boot. Edge went for a spear but was caught with the RKO. The fans chanted “RKO” and “Randy” and the show ended. I didn’t care for this closing segment. I didn’t understand the motivations of anyone involved.

Final Thoughts:

I liked this show. Again there was a focus on wrestling and results. The angles were for the most part quite good. I’d like Raw every week to be this sort of show.