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RAW: Now with More Heat! 
September 16, 2003

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


OK, look, I'll tell you this up front: ideally, I'd sit here and be all detached and unbiased and scientific and tell you how RAW once again put forth approximately 2 Suck Free hours.  And if that level of effort was worthy of commendation last week, then surely, it must be again this week, right?

Bzzzt.  Wrong anwer, Potsie.

I could preface this all with a big long thesis about how getting rid of the suck one week is good, but then actually showing improvement the next week is better, especially heading into a PPV, or something along those lines.  And I'd probably be on the right track. Hell, I'd definitely be on the right track.  Didn't you hear: I'm a freaking genius.

But screw that.  I was flipping between RAW and football last night, and as an admitted Giants fan, you ought to be able to figure out my approximate frame of mind.  It was not a happy place.  So instead of scientific reasons why I was let down by last night's RAW, I'll just pull the dick move and let my own personal Sports Anguish be all the justification you get.  Just like Kane, I want you to Feel My Pain.

On with the show:

Cold open: Triple H is WALKING!  And he runs into Eric Bischoff.  The two get to chatting: Bischoff is all "Hey, how about my awesome Mystery Partners last week?" and HHH is all "Yeah, nice, but since tonight's Goldberg's last night on RAW before I retire him, how about I throw him a going-away party?"  Bischoff likes the idea.

Opening theme/pyro/etc, and here's Jim Ross and the King, quite possibly doing THEIR last RAW (yeah, right), too.  They run a few of tonight's planned matches, but are cut off in mid-graphic by....

Chris Jericho and Christian In-Ring Protest March

Jericho and Christian are making like they are picketing the ring, with "Austin is Drunk with Power" and "Stone Cold Joke" signs.  They will not leave until Austin is kicked out of office, because he sucks as a GM.  Or at least, not until the crowd joins them in a "Stone Cold Must Go" chant.  Don't hold your breath, kids.

Out comes Austin with a counter-point.  He says the only thing that sucks around here is that he can't hand out a Stone Cold ass-whupping when he wants to (like right now), because of the Physical Provocation Act of 2003.  Neither Jericho nor Christian takes Austin's bait when he tries to get them to provoke him...  but Christian does again re-iterate that he's pissed about not defending his IC Title for the second PPV in a row.  So Austin says, "Fine, I'll give you a match at the PPV."  Then Jericho says, "Hey, if you're handing out title shots, why not give it to me?" (oh, he's toeing that babyface line, again).  And Austin says, "Well, OK, but first, you're going to have to win a #1 Contender's match.... against Rob Van Dam."  And he means RIGHT NOW.

Chris Jericho vs. Rob Van Dam (for a PPV IC Title Shot)

They jumpstart this thing with some brawling, and then inside of 30 seconds, RVD hits a running senton to the outside of the ring on both Jericho and Christian (who apparently decided he'd stick around).  With the trainwreck outside the ring, we examine some....

[Giants/Cowboys 1st Quarter Action]

Back from the break, it looks and sounds like Jericho was in charge, and the announcers don't spare the subtlety as they explain that RVD was just decimated by Kane last week, so Jericho's just taking advantage of an already-beaten man.  But RVD's got other ideas, and stages a few rallies.  Probably at about the 8 minute (overall, including ad break) mark, RVD goes for a leaping kick, but Jericho ducks and the ref gets knocked out.  Christian, still lurking about ringside, tries to take advantage, and lines up RVD for a shot with the IC belt.  But now RVD dodges, and Christian takes out Jericho.  Not to be deterred, Christian loads up again, and takes another shot at RVD.  This time, he hits.  And the ref apparently, saw it all, because now he's calling for the bell.  If nobody wins, does Christian get a free pass at the PPV?

Nope, cuz here comes Austin again.  He says that if Christian wants to take both Jericho and RVD out, that's fine.  And he can do it again on Sunday, because Austin's just made a Christian vs. RVD vs. Jericho IC Title Triple Threat match for the PPV.  This match here tonight was far from the smoothest, most exciting these two have worked, but it was OK, and the pre-match promo was good, and frankly, they just added another match to the PPV that I'm actually very interested in seeing.  So call these two segments both plusses.

[Giants/Cowboys 1st Quarter Action Continues, only on ABC!]

Believe the Hype: Goldberg's WCW Title win over Hulk Hogan from the GeorgiaDome in 1998 is shown in clip form.  Hard to believe it's been five years since Goldberg was relevant, eh?  Oh, wait, that was Matt's joke.

Spike Dudley vs. Rob Conway

They preface this with some footage from last week's botched table spot (including a nice ultra-slo-mo one, in case you REALLY want to marvel at how Spike's not paralyzed today), and then it's straight to the action.  Spike accompanied by Bubba and D-Von, and Conway by La Resistance.  The two tag teams powder out and brawl with each other through the crowd, leaving Spike to get pinned by Conway following a simple neck-breaker at the 45 second mark.  And then, just to be a dick, Conway powerbombs Spike through a table.  Finally, the Duds storm back to the ring and run off Conway, but the damage is done.  I wish I could care about this feud, but it ain't gonna happen; the only thing that got me excited about this nothing of a segment was that it probably sets up Spike getting written out of the PPV tables match so that they can put the titles on the line and finish it already.  I hope.

Backstage: Bischoff, Coach, and Al Snow are watching the action on a monitor, cracking wise about Coach and Show will be the full-time RAW announce team starting next week.  They are interrupted by.... ah, shit, it's ummmm, what's-her-name, the cute production assistant that got me a bunch of pissy e-mails a few weeks ago because I didn't realize she was on one of the Tough Enoughs.  So yeah, it's her again this week, and she's got a note for Eric Bischoff.  It says that there are two half-naked women waiting in his dressing room.  Eric assumes this is some sort of sexual payola courtesy of Evolution, and politely excuses himself from the room.  Already knowing where this is headed, I make the seemingly odd choice of passing on the "half naked women" in favor of....

[Giants/Cowboys, End of the First Quarter Commercials, dammit!]

Backstage: Eric makes it to his dressing room, and as about 80% of the wrestling audience would have guessed, yep, there are Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young waiting for him.  They are "half naked" because they are in wrestling gear.  What the.... ah, I see, it's Moolah's 80th Birthday, and she wants to celebrate with a match here in her hometown.  And here's Steve Austin, who materializes from nowhere to tell us that (a) he wrote the note to Bischoff, and (b) he's granted Moolah her wish for a match.  Then Mae Young makes out with Bischoff, and Austin laughs, but fails to joke about how that oughta be right up Bischoff's ally, what with him liking the mature women and all.  

Fabulous Moolah vs. Victoria

The match consists of Victoria trying to be all evil by shoving Mae Young out of the ring... but while she's distracted by that, Moolah snuck up behind her, rolled her up, and pinned her for the win.  Elapsed time: a Bundy-esque 9 seconds.  Victoria snaps, and begins whaling away on Moolah with right hands, only to be interrupted by.... Randy Orton?  Alright, can we just take it as read that he's going to Legend Kill Moolah, or do I actually have to watch the patently obvious beatdown on the 80 year old woman?  I have to watch?  OK, here it goes: Orton tries to make it sound like he's saving Moolah, but then at the last second unleashes the RKO to knock her out, instead.  I know, it's just SHOCKING.

[Giants/Cowboys 2nd Quarter Action]

Believe the Hype 2: from one of the Road Wild PPVs (outdoor at Sturgis), Goldberg hoists up the Big Show... wait, I mean, The Giant... and Jackhammers him.  Not unimpressive.  But also not within the last 5 years.  Noticing a trend?

Lance Storm and Goldust vs. Rodney Mack and Mark Henry

Storm and Goldust have an entrance theme that, if I was making out the lyrics correctly, is called, "We're Too Cheap to Pay for that Get-the-Party-Started Song by Pink, so You Get This Crap Instead."  In all off the party-starting, Goldust is the LESS animated of the two, as Storm dances up a.... ah, shit, well, a Storm on his way to the ring.  This gets no reaction.  Then Teddy Long dances out to the ring with Mack and Mark, also to no reaction.  Then they wrestle for a bit, and the crowd forgets that Lance was just dancing 30 seconds ago, because they go for the "boring" chant. Lance's offense gives way to a case of Ricky Morton-ism, and that gives way to a "hot" tag to Goldust.  Goldust's rally is cut short when Mark Henry tags in, hits one move (a power slam), and scores the pin.  Probably about 3-4 minutes long: you can decide if that's (a) a commendable in-ring effort after the last two matches took a combined less-than-a-minute, or (b) too long given the participants.  You know, it's not a complicated equation: people only care about Mack and Henry if Teddy Long talks first, and whatever in-ring interest fans might carry over from Storm and Goldust's hilarious skits is predicated on them NOT LOSING TO A TEAM NOBODY CARES ABOUT IN THEIR FIRST TAG TEAM MATCH.  I no likey this segment.

Backstage: Evolution are WALKING.  And TALKING.  About some shit that I'm sure is fascinating to them, but which has absolutely no business taking up my time on TV.  Something about HHH and Flair want to go over this direction, but Orton wants to walk over in a different direction.  Quick: it's like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure... who do we follow?  Luckily, we follow Orton, and suddenly Shawn Michaels pops up.  Orton comes up with the longest and most boring way ever to say "I'm going to use you as a stepping stone on Sunday," and then Michaels responds with a few choice words ("If you're gonna step, step hard"... oohhhhh, so clever!) and also a slap in the face.  Look, I worship the workrate god that is HBK as much as anyone, and still find myself wanting to see this match on Sunday, but could they have been any more lazy in terms of building it up?

[Giants are starting to fall apart, enhancing my frustration]

In the parking lot: Hurricane and Rosey do an allegedly funny bit in which Rosey gives up on trying to learn how to fly in favor of just calling a cab.  Conveniently enough, right as Rosey says his punchline (actually not a punchline: it's more of a "cell phone take" after the cab company hangs up on him when he tells them his name is "the S, H, I, T"), Terri marches in front of the camera to distract us into following her over in THIS direction, where Molly Holly and Gail Kim are just arriving.  Molly, succeeding far more in ending the overly-scripted-and-choreographed feel this skit had had than she does in making me believe she could ever really be THAT diabolically evil, conversationally lets the cat out of the bag that Gail has convinced Eric Bischoff to grant Gail and Molly a handicap match against Trish tonight on RAW.

Contract Signing Theatre with Eric Bischoff

Bischoff wants to make a big spectacle out of the signing of the Last Man Standing Match contract between Kane and Shane McMahon, because it's such a brutal match, and in addition to a contract, the two men will be signing releases, absolving Bischoff and his administration (but what about Austin's administration?) in perpetuity.  Out comes Kane, he just signs.  Out comes Shane, he wants to say a few things first, which can be distilled down to "If I'm still breathing on Sunday, Kane, I will be the Last Man Standing."  Then he also signs.  Gosh, nobody's much for actually reading the fine print, tonight, are they?
Then they stare.  Then Bischoff just gets the fuck out of dodge.  Then Kane tosses the table out of the way, and they go nose to nose.  And then, Shane sort of backs off.  But as soon as Kane turns his back, Shane charges, and a brawl is on!  Kane gain control, but Shane immediately takes over with 3 (three!) big uppercuts to the balls.  Shane takes the brawl to the outside, and unveils a commentary table.  Why is that there, when King and JR haven't been positioned at ringside in over a year?  Best not to ask questions...  because the important thing is IT'S A PROP!  And Shane intends to use it.  He lays Kane out on the table, then goes up to the top rope and drops a massive elbow.  Merely a HINT of the extent to which Shane will go on Sunday to eliminate Kane, we are told as the segment ends.

Hey, you know how 90% of the Kane/Shane stuff has really sucked?  Well, this didn't.  In fact, it was perfect.  Shane soundly quietly confident, instead of scripted.  He realized that just punching some guy in the balls is pretty effective all by itself, and that elaborate schemes involving car batteries, jumper cables, and sharks with fricking laser beams on their heads only really serves to make people laugh at inappropriate times.  Then he hit a high spot that, as JR accurately observed, is just a tease of what else they'll do on Sunday to entertain us.  This was good TV.

[Looks like the Giants want to go down by three scores before halftime...]

Believe the Hype 3: Goldberg beats the Rock back in April.  Well, at least it's recent, I'll grant that.

Molly Holly and Gail Kim vs. Trish Stratus

Try as she did, Trish couldn't sustain any offense here.  Beat down, beat down, beat down, hope spot, beat down, repeat.  But done effectively enough.  I've said it before, I'll say it again: Trish is the first (and only, so far) woman wrestler who actually does generate the sympathy that a babyface getting the holy living hell kicked out of him/her needs to generate in order to be effective.  Even *I* feel sympathetic, people; that never happens.  So yeah, it was formula, but it was solidly performed formula, which is not a problem for me.  They aren't even TRYING to mask the reason why, either: Molly was openly calling the spots/shots and running the match (the announcers even commented on it).  Finish was Molly hitting the Molly-Go-Round on Trish for the pinfall after about 4 minutes.

But that wasn't enough.  First, Molly and Gail hit a double DDT on Trish.  Then they start setting up for some elaborate double-team/chair-assisted move, but no!  They are interrupted by... hey, that's Lita.  Sounds like it took the live crowd about as long as it took me to realize it was her (Lita in street clothes looked just fine, thank you, but I admit we were probably confused by the lack of a Cargo Pants/Visible Thong Ensemble). Still, once they caught on, heat city, baby.  Lita with a wicked DDT on Molly, powerbomb for Gail, then a Twist of Fate for Molly, then the shirt comes off (I'm not complaining, but... when did Lita become a women's soccer fan?), then it's time to pose, and then, oh yeah, it's time to go make sure Trish isn't dead.

[Ads. Actual ads.  Hey, it was half time.]

Backstage: Molly and Gail are pissed about Lita's surprise comeback ruining their plan to eliminate Trish.  Bischoff is there saying he doesn't know what's going on, because he thought he fired Lita.  But here's Austin, popping in again to set things right ("Austin ex machina says, 'I can provide easy storyline justification for anything in 30 seconds, or IT'S FREE'!").  This time, Austin informs us (a) he hired Lita back, and (b) he's made a tag match for Sunday, which is Gail/Molly vs. Lita/Trish.  

Bonus Coverage of a Throw-Away Line I'd Normally Gloss Over in my haste to get on to something important: And then, in a rare Obviously Over-Scripted Moment that actually made me laugh, Gail muttered something under her breath that sounded like "Dammit, I think I slept with the wrong GM."  Austin and Bischoff both do a double take, and Austin, making sure he heard right, asks, "Come again?"  And then Gail shoots Bischoff this perfect look of combined contempt and pity and says, "Again? I didn't the first time." before marching off.  See, I CAN appreciate the absolutely unnecessary scripted comedy!  Sometimes!

Welcome to "RAW is HEAT"

Jim Ross's college fight song entrance theme starts up, but wait: it's only Coach in a cowboy hat heading down to ringside.  And then, King's music starts up, but it's only Al Snow in a crown and a wearing a bedsheet for a cape.  Apparently, they are taking over!  They set up chairs near the remnants of the announce table that Shane busted (ah, see, now it all makes sense), and Coach says that Shane may have ruined part of their plan, but the rest will go off without a hitch.  Somebody in the back flips a switch, and JR and the King are muted: Coach and Al are in charge of calling the show, now.  

Turns out, they are not a moment too soon, because this is the part of the show where we get to enjoy....

Val Venis vs. Test

Yep, that's right.  The Heat announcers are here, and just in time for a Heat-caliber match.  Where were they during the Mack/Henry tag match?  Stacy tries to get the crowd into this one by cheering for Val and then getting berated by Test for her insubordination.  It only sort of works, but it does provide the finish of the match.  With Stacy providing a distraction, Val was able to hit a quick move and get the pinfall.  Test gets pissed, and starts to intimidate Stacy, but Scott Steiner dashes out to make the save.  Instead of grabbing Stacy by the arm in the ring, Test now decides grabbing her by the arm heading up the entrance ramp is the better idea.  Wow, that was exciting.

Ah, but wait, here's Jerry Lawler, who has come into the ring and grabbed a mic.  He says they don't have to wait till Sunday, and he'll face Al Snow RIGHT NOW.  Snow agrees, but first, we'll have to take a break for...

[just making sure... yep, still half time]

Jerry Lawler vs. Al Snow

Wow, after the Announcer Fight killed RAW's ratings before the main event this week, they are right back on the horse this week, aren't they?  

OK, so this is the half of the PPV tag match that I'll care about.  Or at least, I was planning on caring about it.  This one-on-one didn't do a whole lot to sell me.  Methodically paced, and with JR and Coach bickering like 2nd graders on commentary to boot.  Oy.  It ends when Lawler hit a schoolboy roll-up out of nowhere.  JR feels the need to taunt Coach over this, and Coach makes like he's slinking away.  But as soon as JR's back is turned, Coach comes back and punches him in the back of the head.  The dastard.  With no commentators, we silently cut to...


Believe the Hype 4: Goldberg kicks everybody's asses (except for HHH and Kevin Nash's) inside the Elimination Chamber 3 weeks ago.

The Unabashed Shilling for Unforgiven

JR is conscious again, and King's back on the headsets, and it's time to run down the line-up for the PPV.  You know it, I know it, and I ain't repeating any of it right now.

Backstage: Evolution are on the way to the ring, but Austin intercepts them and reminds them of the Title Changes Hands on a DQ stipulation for Sunday's PPV (wow, they remembered!), and says that to get used to not interfering in HHH's business, maybe Orton and Flair should just stay away from the ring tonight.  HHH gets all macho and says that's OK with him, and tells Flair and Orton to get lost and he'll catch up with them later tonight.


The Goldberg Going Away Party

HHH hits the ring, and immediately tries to trick the crowd into chanting "Gold-berg."  They catch on quickly to HHH's facetiousness, however, and clam up.  HHH says, "No, come on, get rowdy, this is a PARTY."  And to make his point, he unleashes some balloons and confetti.  No bees or hookers, though.  Lance Storm also did not take it as a cue to make another grand entrance.

Before HHH could get any further with his taunting, his mic went out.  It took about 90 seconds, but they eventually got him a good one.  One with a cord.  They still make those?  Roger Daltry would be proud.  HHH remembered where he left off, and jumped back in, unveiling his present to Goldberg: a framed picture of Evolution standing over a bloody Goldberg (from last week).  HHH tried to entertain us with video footage (another "Believe the Hype" special moment of them kicking Goldberg's ass in the cage), but when he tossed it to the TitanTron, Goldberg appeared on it live.  He promised HHH a special moment, and it was coming RIGHT NOW.

Goldberg left his dressing room, made his way to the ring, and after about 10 seconds, slammed HHH.  Believing the old adage about discretion and valor, HHH got out of the ring and started crawling back up the ramp while Goldberg posed in the ring to close the show.

You know, I don't want to sound like I'm recycling years-old material or anything, so let me be clear:  I'm a reformed man, I can handle a main event promo.  I'm not gonna shit on it just because it's not a wrestling match.  But give me a break:  this was, by a wide margin, the most pointless and forgettable "main event" that RAW's seen in a long time.  Even in recent months when it's been bad, RAW's final segment has usually given you something to talk about the next day.  All this "going away party" gives me to talk about is a strong belief that it was uninspired, uncreative, and better suited to be shuffled into the middle of the show where the complete lack of pay-off could be masked.

Only problem is I'm stumped on what OTHER segment from last night's show felt like a main event.  In my heart of hearts, they'd have decided to "pull a SmackDown!" and give RVD and Jericho a full 15 minutes to close the show with a wrestling match.  Problem with that: the necessary finish (a cheap draw so that Austin can announce the three-way IC match) wouldn't have been any more effective to close the show than HHH's overly-long and directionless rambling was.  You could COMPLETELY shake things up by having the three way match agreed upon during the earlier promo, and then just use the RVD/Jericho match as a main event (maybe even have Christian cause Jericho to lose to fully establish Jericho as the tweener, the fulcrum of the three-way match)... but now I'm getting off track.

Of the segments on last night's RAW, I guess I'd have closed with Kane and Shane.  That was as close to a "main event" feel as we got all night long.  The Jericho/RVD/Austin/Christian stuff was also good, but again, it played more like prelude to Sunday than a self-contained bit of quality rasslin'...  also: I liked the women's match and Lita's coming back in exactly the scenario that I felt she should have.  Other than that, we had the anti-climax of the final promo, more annoying Announcer Feud stuff, and a ton of Heat-caliber material.  The real problem I had is that the last 30-40 minutes of the show just died; the good stuff was front-loaded, and then the last 3-4 segments (after the the women's match) had the "RAW is Heat," the announcer fight, and then HHH's anti-climax.  That didn't feel right at all.  

Nothing actively horrible.  It was, in fact, another suck free week. I just don't feel like finding the positive spin on that right now.  I'd rather wallow in the fact that after I got done watching an utterly average edition of RAW, I then sat through a tortuous overtime Giants loss.

I told you you would Feel My Pain.  More thoughts and news in tomorrow's regular OO column...


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PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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