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An Issue of Credibility 
October 6, 2003

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Words, words, dumb joke, words, big words, words, awkward segue.

So here's what happened on last night's RAW.....

Video Package: Last week, Triple H put a $100,000 bounty on Goldberg's head, and the vultures immediately started swarming.  Mark Henry bloodied Shawn Michaels to "send a message" to Goldberg.  Tonight: Henry vs. Goldberg.

Opening theme, and the pyro, and the whatnot, and Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross are here to immediately get interrupted by...

Kane vs. Rosey

King and JR feign ignorance of what's going on, which is weird because we've got ourselves what looks like a regularly scheduled match here.  Rosey gets the hot start, but after Kane does a Zombie Sit-Up, things change.  Kane on offense for a while, till he missed a top rope clothesline, then Rosey with some more fat man offense (a lot of squashing Kane like a bug).  But Kane's like, a monster, so he ended up kicking out and making a very quick comeback, then hit the chokeslam for the win.

After the match A: Hurricane ran out, but was immediately chokeslammed by Kane.  Thanks for playing.

After the match B: Shane McMahon snuck in from behind, and got a quick shot in on Kane.  Then he goaded Kane into the backstage area with various taunts.  Kane stormed around till he tracked Shane to the parking lot.  Once there, Shane ducked inside a limo for protection, but Kane smashed a few windows and the sunroof to get into the limo.  However, Shane had already wormed his way out the front/driver's door as Kane was still diving down the sunroof.  Shane, showing that he's continued his own personal studies since graduating from Hacksaw Duggan's School of 2"x4"-ology, used a wooden board to pin the limo's accelerator to the floor, and then closed the door and yanked the car into gear.  The limo sped away, and after getting up to speed about 25 yards away, it rammed into a semi trailer.  The visual got a "Holy Shit" chant going from the crowd.


In the parking lot: rescue workers have arrived, and are trying to assess the vehicular and Kaneular damage.  Steve Austin also shows up, wondering what's going on, and is pushed back by authorities.  Helpfully, JR and King guide us through about a half dozen replays of the limo wreck, featuring many carefully staged different angles.  JR calls it a "horrible accident," and King lets it slide for about 30 seconds till he realized there was nothing accidental about it.  This was pre-meditated by Shane.

Lita vs. Gail Kim

Molly joins in on commentary, but other than contending that she's had an interesting and exciting life and should have a book out, doesn't get much in edgewise, as Lawler won't shut his freaking yapper about the limo wreck.  When JR tries to call the match, King actually punks him out, saying that he shouldn't care about this match because a man's life is on the line backstage, and that's more important.  This exchange would take place repeatedly throughout the rest of the night, as Lawler just took his obnoxiousness in new and previously unexplored territories, and JR's only response was a tepid "Well, I'm just trying to do my job, you know."

Quick tangent: look, I'm all for trying to get a storyline over, but there is such a thing as cutting off your nose to spite your face, or whatever that stupid cliche is.  As we'll see as RAW continues, the brand's main problem is an utter lack of believably compelling characters, so King's incessant whining about Kane being more important than everybody else actually serves to exacerbate a very serious existing problem while only nominally helping the storyline in question.  I mean, honestly: Kane is a heel of the highest order, and doing this angle with him is simply going to garner less sympathy from fans, no matter how Lawler plays it.  Along those lines, I would have LOVED it if JR would have just cut Lawler off the first or second time he started babbling by saying, "You know, King, that man set me on fire, and I don't particularly like him.  So pardon me if I just tell the folks that sometimes bad things do actually happen to the bad people some times, and then get on with calling this match right here."  I would also have accepted, "You know, King, there are professionals back there, and we've got cameras back there.  But we're out here.  So let's do our job, let the other people do their jobs, and if anything happens in the parking lot, you know we'll cut back to it.  Now quit whining and pay attention!"  And now, back to your match....

The match, in so far as anyone at home can pay attention to it, features a sound piece of psychology: Gail Kim is focusing on Lita's surgically repaired neck.  That's the story of the first several minutes: neck attack, neck attack, hope spot, neck attack.  Then Lita heats up at the end.  Crowd's way into her rally, and thinks she might have won the match after a powerbomb, but no.  Gail seems to quash Lita's rally with the only really badly blown spot of the match (so badly blown that I don't even know what it was supposed to be, but it ended with Lita going headfirst into the mat), but that didn't take.  Lita came back again, and after a series of reversals, she finally hit the Twist of DDT for the pinfall win.  After the match, Lita got up on a turnbuckle and gestured in Molly's general direction.

In the parking lot: much to King's glee, it's time for another Parking Lot Interlude.  This time, we see Kane's bloody and unmoving body in the wreck of the limo, and somebody says it's time to get the jaws of life out to finish the extrication.  Eric Bischoff then arrives, and like Austin before him, is shooed back immediately to let the pros do their work.  

Earlier today: Triple H and his briefcase of money phone in another promo.  It could be anybody at anytime, Goldberg, so get good and paranoid.  That's the message.


Backstage: Shawn Michaels is walking with a purpose... right into Stone Cold's office.  Michaels is pissed at Mark Henry for what he did last week, and he wants a match agaisnt him.  Austin can't do that, cuz tonight's Goldberg vs. Henry.  Michaels says that well, then, he'll just have to take matters into his own hands.  Austin seems to think that's a swell idea.

Scott Steiner Heel Turn Completion Theater

Steiner leads Stacy to the ring, where he wastes no time announcing that although he very much loves both his peaks and his freaks, he also has a staunch code of conduct for said freaks.  And when they behave badly, they must be sanctioned.  Of course, I am paraphrasing.  I excelled in my "Moonman to English Studies" back in my college days.  Upshot of the whole thing is that, since Stacy cost him the tag titles last week and his own personal freedom from slavery the week before that, Steiner wants an apology.  One with Stacy on her knees...

Before the crowd can even complete their hooting at double entendre that was so obvious that a rolling of the eyes would have been more appropriate, Eric Bischoff interrupts.  Turns out, he's liking what he's seeing.  THIS, he says, is the old Scott Steiner that he once knew, and it's good to see him finally arrive in WWE.  As a gift, Bischoff says he'll hand-pick a special opponent for Steiner tonight.


Scott Steiner vs. Spike Dudley

Match is already in progress when we get back from commercials, and King is able to maintain focus long enough to express pleasure that this wasn't Steiner vs. Stacy like he thought it would be.  But his focus does not last long, because pretty soon he's saying he wants to cut back to the parking lot.  And so we do....

Parking Lot Interlude: Kane is bloody and still not moving, but breathing.  He's loaded onto a stretcher, and placed into an ambulance, which takes off to head for the requisite Nearby Medical Facility.  Wow, I'm glad they took us back LIVE for that exciting action.  It wouldn't have had nearly the impact if shown in a "Moments Ago" flashback.  You'd hope that this would be the end of the limo wreck tainting all elements of the rest of the show, but no: King and JR kept talking and bickering about it, revealing, along the way, that essentially they had no further actual information about Kane's condition.  Wow.  Thanks.

Back to the match: Steiner's decimating Spike, while JR and King keep talking about Kane.  Steiner wins this essentially-a-squash with that inverted/reverse/whatever he calls it move, and then decides to keep on pounding on Spike Dudley.  This brings out Bubba and D-Von, who prepared to 3-D Steiner... except that Test shows up, and yanks Steiner out of harm's way.  Test leads Steiner and Stacy up the ramp as Bubba and D-Von lament that they did not fully avenge poor Spike.

Backstage: La Resistance and Rob Conway plot a three-on-one attack against Goldberg, who is doing an interview or something nearby.  They proceed to get their asses kicked in about 12 seconds flat.


In the parking lot:  Eric Bischoff is milling around as authorities have apparently now turned this into a crime scene.  But in the name of completely and utterly unnecessary exposition, Bischoff decides that he, personally, needs to interrogate an eyewitness.  The guy saw the whole thing: Shane lured Kane into the limo, then he got out the other end, rigged the limo to crash into the semi, and then walked off the other direction.  WOW!  Thanks, Eyewitness!  You're even better than a SEVENTH carefully staged camera angle would have been!  And Eric: please, just watch the damn show on a monitor somewhere.  They showed enough replays of what happened that I hear even the retarded chimpanzee community was calling in and demanding that Shane McMahon be arrested for vehicular assault.  Somehow, even though all signs point to Shane McMahon doing a Very Bad Thing here, Bischoff closes this Waste of a Segment by suddenly stating, "This is all Steve Austin's fault."  Huh?  

Special "This is All Steve Austin's Fault" Mega-Super-Serious, No Set, No JeriTron 5000 Edition of the Highlight Reel

Chris Jericho leads Christian, Jonathan Coachman, and Lance Storm (?) out to the ring, where he immediately seconds Bischoff's immediately preceding non sequitur by saying what happened back stage is all Austin's fault.  And furthermore, everybody in the ring has been wronged by Austin, and tonight, Jericho's making a special appeal to the WWE Board of Directors (because the show is in Connecticut, and several members are in attendance): he wants Austin ousted from power, immediately.  First, Coach tells his tale of woe about how he EARNED the RAW announcer job with a win at the PPV, only to have Austin come in and bully him into a rematch, where he lost the job.  Then Christian tells a similar tale: he pinned RVD at the PPV to retain his IC Title, retained it the next night on RAW, got called a CLB, and then was forced to face RVD in a THIRD title defense, a ladder match just last week.  Finally, Jericho throws it to Lance Storm, who Chris claims has been wronged more than anyone.  Once a proud athlete, Storm now comes to the ring to "rococulous" techno music and dances around like a jack-ass.  So, Jericho asks, "What do you think about Steve Austin, Lance?"

Lance responds, "I think you're 100%... FULL OF CRAP!"  Big pop.  For Lance Storm?  Whoa, that's cool.  Lance says he WAS boring, but now he's having fun for the first time in his life.  Brief cabbage patch interlude.  Another pop.  Ignoring Goldust's contribution to this whole evolution, Lance says Austin turned him around and is doing a GREAT job as GM.  Jericho has heard enough, and leads a 3-on-1 beatdown against Storm.  Well, mostly 2-on-1, since Coach powders out quickly.  Steve Austin makes a run-in, but since he can't get physically involved, Jericho and Christian just keep kicking Storm while Jericho taunts Austin.  Finally, RVD runs out for the real save, and Jericho and Christian scatter.

Austin grabs a mic, and says that if Jericho wants to talk about appealing to the Board, he's got his own appeal.  He thinks that not being able to whup somebody's ass without physical provocation sucks, and he gets the live crowd to not just second, but also third his motion with a pair of "Hell Yeahs."  And furthermore, he's decided to book a match right now:  Jericho and Christian vs. Lance Storm and RVD.  RIGHT NOW!  But also, AFTER THE BREAK!


Lance Storm and Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho and Christian

Match is already underway as we return, and we quickly go balls-out with Storm and RVD cleaning house and doing Stereo Planchas on opposite sides of the ring for a big pop.  Then we settle down, and the closest we get to some of that sweet, sweet Robert Gibson action is Lance standing around watching RVD get his ass kicked for 2-3 minutes until the not-quite-long-enough-of-a-beat-down-to-be-hot tag.  More back and forth action (when talking about Lance's background in the Hart Family Dungeon, JR does send out "Get Well" wishes to Stu), leading up to the inevitable All Hell Breaking Loose.  Four way brawling and people hitting finishes, only to have partners make saves for about 2 minutes at the close.  Finish saw Lance take Christian down outside the ring, while Jericho locked RVD into the Walls of Jericho.  However, Storm was able to hit a missile dropkick right in Jericho's face and then make a quick cover on Y2J for the win.  Storm wins!  Storm wins!  Storm wins!  And shows some emotion, too!  And best of all, does NOT dance, at least not on camera!


Earlier tonight: yet another full recap of the Kane/Shane episode, complete with all camera angles.  Missing: the oh-so-helpful eyewitness report.

Backstage: Terri wants to interview Mark Henry, but ends up talking to Teddy Long, instead.  I'm not complaining.  Teddy lays out the main agenda in loquacious fashion, and then shoots it over to Mark, who closes by saying that first he'll get the hundred grand, and then, he'll take the World Title.  Though Teddy encourages me to do so, I completely fail to belee dat.


Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade vs. Ric Flair and Randy Orton

I cannot give you many precise details about what happened here, since I couldn't help myself:  during this match, RAW went into the tiny little corner box, and I called up the baseball game on picture-in-picture.   I'm guessing it was Jindrak who threw about a half-dozen (admittedly pretty) dropkicks, so that was something.  Stuff happened, and Jindrak and Cade actually hit their elevated dropkick finisher on Flair, but Orton snuck in behind the ref's back and hit an RKO on Jindrak, then put Flair on top of him.  That was enough for the pinfall win.  Thrilling drama!  In the baseball game, I mean.


Backstage: Maven and Trish are walking, but we can only hear Ric Flair and Randy Orton talking.  Man, maybe all these technical anomalies the past few week's are only Trish's fault, and not the result of some odd convergence of Trish with Lita and Christian?  In any case, Maven and Trish eventually catch up to where Orton and Flair are chatting...  and Maven's got some smart-ass comment about their "impressive" win over Jindrak and Cade.  Flair assumes Maven MUST be talking to Orton, cuz no wet-behind-the-ears punk like Maven would mouth off to a 16 time world champ.  But nope, Maven WAS mouthing off at Flair.  Maven ends up challenging Flair to a match for next week, and Flair says it's on, cuz he don't sweat Maven since he's held more World Title's than Maven's had women.  Well, Naitch, sixteen, that's actually a pretty healthy number...  unless Maven's night job is Worst Gigolo of All Times, it's not that horrifically emasculating a taunt.  Now if it were Mick Foley making that taunt... well, that's when your feelings might get hurt.

Maven and Trish Stratus vs. Stevie Richards and Victoria

Here we see why Maven and Trish were walking together... though I cannot help myself from noting that they'd probably have gotten a bigger pop if they'd come out together to Trish's music.  What's Maven's place in this match, anyway?  Based solely on RAW, there's nothing to place him here... and if I apply my partial knowledge of Sunday Night Heat, it's a spot that SHOULD belong to Val Venis, no?  In any case, Trish and Victoria are enough to keep baseball down in the tiny little box, as this is actually the exact inverse of most every mixed tag match ever in history:  instead of the guys doing all the work, only to tag in the women for the assisted-by-the-men finish, Trish and Victoria carry the lion's share here.  Good work, with Trish busting out the Matrix 2.0 modification once again, but with Stevie cheating to help Victoria control most of the action.  Finally, the tags came to Maven and Richards, and they did a minute or two of requisite work to set up the finish, which consisted of Trish taking out Victoria, then distracting Richards long enough to let Maven set up for that leaping top-rope DDT/neckbreaker thingie.  Pinfall win for the good guys.  But Victoria wins the war by attacking Trish after the match and throwing her into the steel ring steps.  Ouch.


Goldberg vs. Mark Henry

Immediately, Rodney Mack was sent back to the dressing room.  OK, so there goes any semblance of drama...  actually, Henry held his own and controlled much of the match, while the crowd sat on their hands and waited for the inevitable.  [Tangent:  did anyone else notice a weird audio quirk, and then immediately the faint start of a "Goooold-berrggg" chant?  And if so did you, for the first time since the WCW days, wonder about canned heat for Goldberg?]  Goldberg, sporadically remembering to sell the shoulder (which is where Henry's attack was focused), made his comeback after about 5 minutes, and slammed Henry, setting him up for a Spear.  But it was at the moment that Rodney Mack ran out with a steel chair, causing a DQ, apparently.  Shawn Michaels came out to even the odds, and KO'ed Mack with a superkick outside the ring.  Then Michaels decided to go after Henry.  But Henry locked him into bearhug.  Goldberg set up to spear Henry in the back, but Henry instead let go of Michaels and dodged.  Goldberg speared HBK.  Henry tried to continue his assault on Goldberg, but that didn't work.  Goldberg was in the zone, and very quickly managed to Jackhammer Henry.  The ref said that match was already over when Goldberg went for the pinfall.  I'm not sure exactly when he called for the bell, since I never heard it, but they played Goldberg's music as the show faded out.

The Big Picture

OK, so I gather you're all sharp enough to have picked up on the theme that I thought the Kane/Shane angle was overhyped to the detriment of the show... but let me explain myself a bit.

Because I'm not stupid: I realize that when you go to this extent to wreck a limo and all that, you can't just treat it like any other angle.  I will, however, opine that when you make Kane the victim, you immediately limit the amount of sympathy you can extract from the audience, and therefore, should also limit the amount of time you spend trying to make a big deal out of it.  "Shades of gray" booking was a staple of the early attitude era, but there are times when you have to step back and realize you're trying to make Kane into a monster.  Having King harping on his sympathy for Kane for 2 hours isn't gonna help anybody, I don't think.

I'm not even gonna get into little things, internet jack-off smark things...  I'll leave the "Kane no-sells the Inferno Dumpster of Doom but is dead after a mid-speed car wreck" bitching to somebody else.  I'm just saying that what this reeked of to me was somebody having a cool idea for a visual, the resources to pull it off in what was a very good looking and effective way, but not once stopping to ask "why?"...  sure, for dramatic purposes, Shane probably needed to get one up on Kane.  But huge, show-spanning, time-wasting, gotta-sell-it-like-it's-real spectacles work best when it's a babyface going down.  Not just fan favorites, but ones fans actually do care about.  Something less spectacular with Shane going over on Kane wouldn't have gotten the same instant reaction, sure, but it also wouldn't have served to grind portions of the next 90 minutes to a halt.

Note the live fan reaction: "Holy Shit" to the pure visual, which like I said was very neat.  And then they had no problem moving on to whatever was next.  Why?  Cuz it's Kane, and he's a bad guy.  Plus, he's probably gonna be fine, what with the surviving the fire and all.  They could have made it even a 100 times MORE spectacular, and the reaction would have been about the same: "wow, cool... now what's next?".  It's about the guy you're plugging into the angle, in this case, and that's what made King's commentary and much of the rest of how they played the angle seems sort of annoying to me.

That's a problem elsewhere on RAW, too: they've cut out a lot of the stupid shit in the last month or so, and are putting guys (and to be fair, girls) into simpler, more sensible storylines.  But are they putting the right ones out there?  I don't know, maybe they're putting the ones out there that they've got, and that's the best you can hope for...  but honestly, there is probably a huge segment of the fan base that look at Jindrak/Cade, Henry, Maven, Richards, et al, and see nothing but the human manifestation of the "Channel Up" button on their remote.  You need to build up the characters and then pick the right ones to put into different slots.  Just throwing them out there makes me want to do things like spend my time watching that awesome Sox/A's game.

Which leads me to the night's biggest success story:  Lance Storm.  They've been trying to build up his persona to get fans into him.  With Goldust shelved, it's been a stagnant effort lately, so they took another tack.  In one night, they accomplished with Storm what Jindrak and Cade haven't done in their entire RAW careers to date: they made fans care.  The formula was simple... they surrounded Storm with people fans DO care about (Jericho, Austin, RVD), handed him a compelling bit of action (the swerve where he turned on Jericho), and let the chips fall where they may.  In this case, Storm ran with the ball that was handed to him, cutting a credible promo on Jericho and then looking really good in the tag match.  When he pinned Jericho, it was that perfect combination of unexpected and plausible all at once, and that convergence is when you can see guys break out and work their way up the card.

On the other hand, Mark Henry was battling severe plausibility issues, ones that only got worse once his partner was excused from ringside.  His credibility approaches zero, and yet, he's the dramatic foil in our main event.  The "surround them with other over guys" theory was absent from Jindrak and Cade's escapades, as the only over guy in that ring was Flair, and he got more of a babyface reaction than anything, which only further undercuts "Team Green" (tm, sayeitan).  

For as good as the middle portion of RAW with the "We Hate Austin" promo and the subsequent tag match was, for as visually stunning as the limo wreck was, this ended being a RAW that was too flip-away-able due to rampant predictability and too much harping on the wrong personalities in the wrong spots.  I credit RAW with staying well away from the stupid that contaminated the show through the late summer...  if I'm right and the problem facing RAW is a dearth of credible, compelling characters to carry the non-stupid material, then perhaps shows like this are the minor price we have to pay.  Maybe six months from now, when we look at Jindrak, Cade, Henry, and Maven in the same light as we do Haas, Benjamin, Rhyno, and Kidman (when they have that same kind of "well, they're only midcarders, but they're good and the deliver the action" credibility that SD! seems to instill but which RAW has trouble with), I'll be singing a very different tune.
But now I'm really getting off track.  Mixed bag RAW tonight.  Best promo and best match were the ones right in the middle of the show that involved Jericho, Christian, Austin, RVD, and Storm.  That was excellent stuff; entertaining AND effective (for Lance). The rest: there's some I'd take, but mostly I'd leave it.


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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: 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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