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Sweet, Sweet Pay-off
June 24, 2003

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


It's easy to let the cynicism get the better of you, sometimes... I mean, if you've been watching wrestling for anything more than a couple of months, you're probably onto their scheme: try to keep the free shows as entertaining as possible without actually doing anything really big, so that you'll be enticed into buying the pay-per-view.

Well, for once, the Fed indisputably delivered the goods for free.  They promised a title change or the unmasking of Kane, and that's what we got.  No cop out, no non-finish.  You can debate whether or not the move they made was the right one or not, but you'll have a hard time convincing me that this wasn't a RAW that will still be considered historically significant months (perhaps even years?) down the line.

Here's how it all went down...

Opening Credits/Music/Pyro and some introductory words from Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler lead directly to...

Scott Steiner and Booker T vs. Christian and Test

They started out by doing the non-intuitive pairings (guys in the ring with the opponent they are NOT feuding with), and went back and forth for a couple minutes.  Then at about the 2:30 mark, a pair of tags resulted in it being Steiner vs. Test (who again was showing that pesky charisma by periodically taunting Steiner or Stacy).  Booker and Christian powdered out to brawl around ringside, and Stacy wound up getting on the apron to cause a distraction, only to crash to the floor when Test shoved Steiner into her.  Test was able to hit the big boot for the pinfall win a few moments later.  Test and Christian celebrated the cheap win while Steiner went to go check on Stacy (who was selling an ankle injury after her tumble).  Quick, got its story across, an absolutely serviceable opener.

Backstage:  Kane is brooding in his dressing room.  A really cheesy fade effect takes us back to his 1997 debut at the first Bad(d) Blood, and then brings us back to the present day Kane, still staring at himself in a mirror.  C'mon, what's wrong with just doing pre-packaged, non-cheesy "flashback" moments like they did for Lesnar/Show last week on SD?


WWE.com Poll of the Night: Will Kane (a) win the title, or (b) lose his mask?  Get online and vote!  Unless you're on the west coast!  Or a giant jerk who wants to write in "(c) Neither, because you'll pull some cop-out bullshit"!  Or impervious to the Fed's half-assed attempts to make the show seem interactive!

Maven vs. Chris Nowinski

Teddy Long prefaced this match with a few comments about how Nowinski is discriminated against because he's so smart, and how that discrimination is why he didn't win Tough Enough 1.  So tonight, Nowinski will show Maven just how much better he is.  Also, Teddy Long tells Maven that "light skinned brothers went out a few years ago."  Uh, Teddy?  Sure you meant to say that?  Anyway, Maven comes out, and I swear to you, in less than 30 seconds, he rolls Nowinski up for the win.  Long's promo was twice that long.  I'm not sure if I see the point here or not, unless it was too make Long look like a blustering buffoon.

In the parking lot: Evolution's limo arrives, and they immediately swarmed by two ring rats, and security makes a big show of shooing them away so Evolution can continue into the building unfettered.  Wait: does two really constitute a swarm?


Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel

Jericho comes out, and is clearly getting some cheers.  So he tries to turn that around by mocking New York City, with some success.  He announces that Steve Austin committed a heinous act last week when he labeled Lance Storm "boring," and shows some footage of that on the JeriTron 5000 before introducing Lance Storm as his special guest.

Storm hits the ring to the predictable BOOOOO-RING chant, and Jericho tries to tell him to keep cool, and just read his prepared statement.  So Storm, now intentionally trying to display negative charisma, stares at a piece of paper and begins to read a statement about how his abilities speak for themselves, and if fans want "bells and whistles," then perhaps they should try the circus.  In the middle of Storm's speech, stage crew arrive and start taking apart the Highlight Reel set, which sets Jericho off, but quickly, Steve Austin appears on the TitanTron and announces that he sent the crew down there because this segment was BOOOOOO-RING.  Further more, since he thinks Storm is boring and didn't like Jericho's tone from earlier in the segment, he's decided that he's booking the two into a match against two more guys who also know a little bit about moving furniture...  hit their music:

Lance Storm/Chris Jericho vs. the Dudley Boys

Pretty back and forth for the Jericho-heavy opening minutes, and then once the heels were firmly in control, they, of course, gave Storm a few spots to "shine."  He'd go for a chinlock or a sleeper, and the crowd would instantly take the cue to chant "BOOOOO-RING" at him, which only served to annoy Storm.  At about the 6 minute mark, the Duds made their comeback and did the Whassup spot followed by a tease of the tables.  But Storm and Jericho broke that up, necessitating another 2 or 3 minutes of chaotic brawling before the Duds finally were able to isolate on Storm long enough to hit the 3-D and get the pin.  Good match, and the promo/angle that set it up did it's job, too: I'm now tending to lean towards the idea that this "BOOO-RING" thing will work as a way to get heat on Storm without spreading out to affect other segments on the show (as it did last week)....


Kane Flashback: this time, we go back to this past winter when Evolution (hey, look, Batista!) took Kane's mask on RAW.  Kane wound up leaving ringside with his face buried rather than stay and help his partner, RVD.

Backstage: Randy Orton laughingly recites a vaguely steamy passage from Mick Foley's new book, while Ric Flair wonders what Foley knows about feeling a girl's breast.  Then they remember they've got work tonight, and talk about beating Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash in a tag match, and then making sure HHH retains his title against Kane.

La Resistance vs. ?????

Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier hit the ring and mock NYC for a few minutes before launching into a special surprise: their rendition of the French National Anthem.  They get a verse or two into it when Jim Ross, mercifully, announces that we must take a commercial break...


La Resistance vs. ?????

OK, so we're back, and they're still singing...  but JR assures us that they're here to wrestle.  FINALLY, out comes Hurricane.  But he's by himself.  Grenier asks if Hurricane is here to issue a challenge or something... if he is, La Resitance is OK with that, he can go back to the dressing room and find any American partner he wants and they'll put the tag titles on the line.  Hurricane says he's already got a partner, and they'll take that shot RIGHT NOW....

La Resistance vs. Hurricane and Sgt. Slaughter

NYC was way behind the Sarge, who rewarded them by pretty quickly locking Grenier into the Cobra Clutch.  But Grenier made it to the ropes.  Sarge didn't want to break the hold so easily, however, so the ref had to interject himself; but with the ref tied up in the ropes with Slaughter and Grenier, Dupree was able to sneak up from behind and wax Slaughter with one of the tag belts.  Hurricane ran in and started brawling with Dupree, but Grenier fell on top of Slaughter to get the cheap win.  All of a minute, minute-and-a-half long, maybe, but pretty effective as a way to get the cheap pop and the job out of Sarge, while also putting some more heat on La Resistance.

Another Cheesy Kane Flashback: Kane takes himself back to Steve Austin's little motivational speech from about a month ago, the one where he asked for the Old Kane to come back.


Steve Austin's Special Tribute to Mick Foley

Actually, before Austin even mentions Foley, he first announces that WrestleMania XX is coming to MSG next March, and unveils the WMXX logo.  Yippee.  Not even the live crowd seemed to care too much, and I guarantee you, I cared even less.  But this quickly passes, as Austin gets on with the business of thanking the guy who bailed him out three weeks ago when he needed a referee for Hell in the Cell.  He asks Mick Foley to come to the ring.

Foley comes out, and Austin tells him he's got a little surprise for Mick.  Mick, ever a thinking man's wrestler, cowers back in a corner thinking it might be a Stunner, but it ain't.  Instead, Rob Van Dam leads a bunch of ECW cast-offs (Tommy Dreamer, all three Dudleys, and Al Snow) to the ring; he's carrying the original Hardcore Title belt, mounted and framed.  Further, Austin said he'd arranged something else: a big-ass music video tribute to Foley, which he then asked to be played.  It was all good.

Foley got on the mic and said thanks to all the fans, and thanks to Austin for the music tribute since "I almost forgot how good I really was," when he was interrupted by Vince McMahon's music.  Vince came to the ring and got a mic.  He recounted how the last time he and Foley were face-to-face, it was in Vince's private jet and Foley was never to step foot in a WWE ring again; so at a personal level, Vince is really pissed at Mick right now.  But on a professional level... well, on a professional level, he's just got two words for Mick.  After briefly teasing that they might not be pleasant ones, Vince says, "Thank you" to a nice pop.  Mick even decides to hug Vince, which Vince, of course, no sells.  Then Vince leaves so Mick can continue having his moment.

Mick accepted his mounted hardcore title belt, and went through his usual arsenal of cheap pop tactics, thanked all the fans, and said that being back in the ring the past few weeks has reminded him that "there's no place like home."  Now, being in this ring with "so many great performers, and also Al Snow," Mick says that he hopes that when he gets another phone call to return to RAW, he'll be welcomed back again so he can feel the same thrill.  He closes by quoting Frosty the Snowman, "I'll say goodbye, but don't you cry... I'll be back again some day."  Hugs and handshakes all around with Austin and the ECW guys as the segment faded to black...


Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash vs. Ric Flair and Randy Orton

They didn't give these guys any promo time or anything to explain this match, so JR had to do exposition for us in the opening moments of the match (Flair beat Michaels at the PPV, and it was only thanks to Orton, so Michaels wanted revenge on both and enlisted his old buddy Diesel).  That works for us at home, but it meant it took the MSG crowd a few minutes to get into the flow...

Nash got some offense in early, but once he tagged in Michaels, you could pretty much guess where this was going... but actually, before it went there, Michaels stayed on offense, and hit a big plancha to the outside of the ring, taking out both Flair and Orton.  While the guys were all down, JR decided it was a good time to take a break.  [This is becoming a new fun little hobby with RAW: trying to predict when they're gonna take a mid-match ad break before JR kicks his announcer voice into ultra-urgent "This is so exciting, so stick around we'll be right back" mode.]


When we come back, we're right where you would have been able to guess: with Michaels in trouble as Flair and Orton cut the ring in half and prevent him from tagging.  After a few minutes of that HBK did finally tag in Nash, who got a 90 second or so heat sequence before it was time to put the match back in Michaels' hands.  Michaels was in the ring with Flair and was in control when he decided to try a top rope move.  Orton moved to shove Shawn off the ropes, but Diesel broke it up, and continued to occupy Orton at ringside.  That left Michaels to his a Macho Man elbow, which he followed up with the Sweet Chin Music.  The pinfall was academic.  Michaels, it seems, has now avenged his Bad Blood PPV loss to Flair, and all is right with the world.  Very good match, probably about 12-14 minutes all told (including the commercial break), built to a nice big finish, too.

Kane Flashback: Wow, this time, we go all the way back to last week, when Kane had to decide whether to join Evolution, or to take a title shot against HHH with his mask on the line.  How does he remember this obscure, ancient stuff?


Backstage: hey, that WASN'T the last we'd see of Foley!  He's here signing a book for Vince McMahon... but, uh oh, here comes Flair and Orton, steaming from their loss.  Foley makes a snide comment about the great job Orton did proving himself in that match, so of course, Evolution strikes.  Foley's able to take out Flair, but he's very soon on the receiving end of a bunch of shots from Orton.  This ends with Orton tossing Foley down a flight of stairs.  [Hey, halfway to the Boiler Room, eh?]  Vince pokes his head back into the scene, momentary teases that he'll act upset with Evolution, but then starts laughing and calling for a janitor to clean up the mess.  Bastard.

Teddy Long Five Minute White Boy Challenge

It's back, and apparently, Teddy didn't mean that stuff he said earlier about the light-skinned brothers, because he's here backing the Mack.  And lord knows, if Maven and Mack were paint chips, they'd be on the same little sample strip, if you know what I'm saying.  But I digress... point is, Long is re-opening the white boy challenge to any white boy in the building.  Hmmm, which white boy haven't wee seen yet tonight?  I wonder....  ah, hell, just cue the music....

Goldberg vs. Rodney Mack

Mack tries a pre-emptive attack by diving into Goldberg's pyro, but Goldberg says, "No sale" and spears Mack out of the pyro in a cool little visual.  Once they get to the ring, the ref rings the bell, and it takes precisely 26 seconds for Goldberg to hit the Jackhammer (Mack was probably elevated in that hold for about 13 of the 26 seconds) and score the pin.  Crowd went nuts for this.  Say what you will about Goldberg so far in WWE, but his MSG debut was a super one that played perfectly to his strengths.

Backstage: Kane is still pacing, and Rob Van Dam walks in to wish him luck.  Kane just sort of glares, and RVD leaves.  Kane gives him mirror one last look, and then decides to smash it on his way out of the room.


WWE.com Poll Update:  56 percent think Kane will win the title, 44 percent say he'll lose the mask.  JR initially seems to think that's a mildly surprising outcome, but then cops out when Lawler presses him to make a prediction of his own.

Triple H vs. Kane (Title vs. Mask)

Champion enters first, and then down comes Kane.... and he does NOT set the ringposts afire.  Suddenly, those 56 percent are looking like they are on to something.  Or are they? Very quickly, Kane and HHH are brawling, out to ringside, and then even out into the crowd (right in front of a handful of hot babes, who immediately decide that grabbing HHH's ass is a perfectly reasonable thing to do while the guy is getting pummeled by Kane).  Kane, who knows how sensitive HHH is to being violated like that by strange women, decides to toss HHH back over the barrier.  Meantime, in the ring, Ric Flair has decided to start running interference, so Earl Hebner is not paying attention when HHH grabs a steel chair, and pastes Kane as Kane makes his own way back over the barrier.  Kane is out from the chair shot, HHH is spent from the beating he's taken outside the ring, and even Ric Flair has been shoved down by Earl Hebner, so guess what?  Yep, hit that tone, JR....


We're back and both guys are in the ring now.  But it's also just about 11pm exactly, so we don't have a lot of time to screw around before heading to end game.  In this case, that means first teasing a ref bump (HHH lightly grazed Hebner after taking a bump from Kane, but shockingly, Hebner was resilient enough to shake that off!), and then really doing it (Kane was loading up to hit HHH with a big boot after aforementioned spot, but HHH had enough sense left to duck; but Hebner didn't, and ate the boot, and this time, he stayed down).  Flair tried to take advantage by running in with the World Title belt, but Kane stopped him.  He also took the belt and whacked HHH with it.  Then he made a cover.  Hebner was out, but after a few beats, Charles Robinson ran out to make the count.  But there was enough of a delay that HHH was able to kick-out at 2 and 9/10ths.  Kane is pissed at Robinson for taking so long to get to the ring, so he tosses him over the top rope.  While Kane was distracted by that, HHH recovered and was able to hit Kane with a Pedigree.  Hebner is showing signs of life, and crawls over to make the slow, dramatic count... but again, it's only 2 and 9/10ths.  HHH went for another Pedigree, but this time, Kane backdropped his way out of it.  Since Hebner was still only half-conscious, Flair tried another run-in; he ate a chokeslam instead.  But Randy Orton ran in from out of the crowd, and he hit Kane with a big ol' Diamond Cutter.  As Orton finished reviving Hebner, HHH hit a second Pedigree.  This time, he got the three count.  Really good match, probably about 12 minutes, but it's just the last 3-4 that were just spectacularly dramatic; the rest was merely prelude.

As soon as the match ends, Eric Bischoff's music hits, since Sleazy E decided he needed something to do on the night.  He insists that Kane live up to his word and unmask.  And Kane's about to do it... when all of a sudden, Evolution attack him.  You can almost hear the collective groan: it WILL be a cheap cop-out!  But no!  Here's Rob Van Dam to make the save.  Together, he and Kane send Evolution packing.  And now, Kane realizes he still has to live up to his promise and unmask.  RVD is just sort of sitting in a corner letting Kane decide this thing for himself.  To his credit, Kane seems very aware of the locations of the ringside cameras as he teases unmasking for each of them.  He seems tormented: he knows he's gotta do this, though.  So he turns his back to the hard camera, reaches up to his chin, starts lifting, starts pulling off the mask, OH MY GOD THAT WASN'T EVEN HIS HAIR IT WAS A WIG, the whole thing, hair and all, if finally off, and then Kane turns around to face the camera to reveal....

Well, everybody on the message boards and in the chat room last night already made this joke, but OH MY GOD, IT'S THE MISSING LINK!  Or possibly, the love child of the Missing Link and Kelsey Grammer.  Whoever he is, he clearly is not happy that he had to show himself to the world, and he decides to take it out on the easiest available subject.  In this case, RVD.  Van Dam takes a chokeslam as the New Kane gives us Insane Rage to close out the show.

Well, he's definitely got a scary hairline, but the extent of the rest of his "deformity" seemed to be a really bad mascara job.  But JR and Lawler sold it like he was the Elephant Man...  it seemed like they were stretching a bit.  I'm assuming the black eye make-up is just the remnants of what Kane always wore around his eyes so that you didn't see any fleshtones in the areas not totally covered by the mask.  Once you clean that up, maybe there is something a little more scary looking?  We'll be getting a better look in coming weeks, I'm sure.

One thing:  I know there are people who are arguing that Kane's character will not be helped by this move, ESPECIALLY because the make-up job seemed so underwhelming compared to what we'd been led to expect out of Kane's childhood mutilation.  To that, I say simply that the New Kane is instantly in a better place than old masked Kane was at any point in the last 8 months: better than the Katie Vick shit, better than doing awkward skits with RVD, better than jobbing to La Resistance.

If I had to complain about something, it'd be this:  Kane has lost his mask two or three other times.  In those cases, the mask came off clean, THERE WAS NO WIG.  In fact, he usually used his hair to continue obscuring his face.  Now, all of a sudden, that wasn't his hair?  Is this a major continuity snafu or am I overanalyzing?

Probably overanalyzing.

Really good, fast-paced RAW tonight.  They're starting to find a very effective formula for placing commercial breaks so that the show doesn't seem to have as many brief/low-content segments, and so that you want to stick around and see what happens when they come back from the breaks.  And hey, put me in with the group of people who was satisfied by the main event and unmasking; they may have oversold the new Kane's scariness a bit, but this is still putting the character in a better place than he's been for a long, long time.  One utter domination of RVD coming up, and then from there, who knows?


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
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PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
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RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
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PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
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RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
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RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
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PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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