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Booked into a Corner, RAW 
Comes out Swinging 
October 13, 2003

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Upfront: I actually liked RAW a lot.  It was good for maybe a solid mid-to-upper-3 rating when I do BotB.  I will TRY not to let my Sports Anguish, nor my debilitating Finger Anguish affect my presentation today.  Nor the fact that I really want to get this and all the other shit I've got to get done today finished by 4 so I can enjoy (hopefully) some NOT Sports Anguish.

Here's what happened last night on RAW...

Cold Open: We're backstage, and Terri's interviewing Ric Flair and Randy Orton.  They start by showing us that Triple H has entrusted them with the briefcase full of money, so HHH won't be phoning in any more superfluous interviews about the bounty on Goldberg's head.  Flair and Orton are in charge of Operation Kill Bill (for the record, I thought of that shitty joke a full 90+ minutes before Lawler used it!).  And also: we zoom out to see Ric Flair's on crutches.  He tells us he's really sorry, but he pulled a hamstring at a house show, and he can't fight Maven tonight.  But before Terri can question him further about the injury, Flair spots Shawn Michaels near-by...  and immediately gets up in his face.  Flair says that he once passed the torch to HBK and called him the greatest ever, but now he feels stupid when he sees Michaels being bloodied and dragged around by a guy like Mark Henry.  Flair says Michaels is still young and can still be the greatest, if he wants to.  He encourages him to prove his greatness by going after Goldberg; Orton chimes in that if that's not motivation enough, he's got 100,000 other good reasons to take out the champ.  Michaels and Flair do a staredown, and we check out....

The opening theme/montage/pyro...  and a welcome to Pittsburgh, PA, from your hosts, Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross.  As is rapidly becoming customary, they cannot complete their thoughts before the show is hijacked by...

Chris Jericho and Christian's Airing of Grievances Theatre

JR and King were in the middle of recapping the Kane/Shane limo wreck from last week when Jericho grabbed a mic and interrupted.  You see, he wants to make sure that what people saw was not Shane McMahon commiting vehicular assault, but rather a pattern of unacceptable behavior that has been completely and utterly caused by the actions of Steve Austin.  Jericho wants Austin out as GM.

As further evidence that Austin is driving Shane to commit horrible acts of carnage, Jericho busts out footage from a house show on Friday night (in Louisville, KY).  Shane, while attempting a Van Terminator, lands square on Test's foot, and broke two bones in it.  Test is out for 6-8 weeks as a result.  Of Austin's terrible managing.  Finally, Shane has had enough of the logic wasteland, and comes out to take full responsibility for his actions.  HE did these things to Kane and Test, not Austin.  He also, sadly, decides to mention that one week after he sent Kane out in an ambulance, he's thinking about fetching Jericho and Christian a "Whhaaaaaaaaaa-mbulance" this week.  (He failed to ask if the duo would like some cheese with their whine.)

On the heels of that elementary school caliber taunt, La Resistance decides to come out to play.  Well, kind of.  Rob Conway is out to do the talking, and he's got Rene Dupree with him. They believe Austin is responsible for them losing the tag team titles. All four heels are in the ring, and when Shane tries to take issue with their logic, it becomes apparent that Shane's gonna take an ass-kicking.  So he goes all pre-emptive on their asses.  For about 15 seconds.  Then the heels get their bearings and start pounding away.  The Dudleys make the save, and Jericho, Christian, Conway, and Dupree scatter.  Bubba grabs a mic, and issues a challenge for a 4-on-3 match RIGHT NOW.  Jericho huddles the troops, then gets a mic, and says, "No thanks."  Boo.

Backstage: Goldberg is arriving and unpacking his bags.  A silver Caddy squeals its tires in warning, and then drives past Goldberg at a high rate of speed.  Goldberg dodges out of the way, and instead of thanking the driver for the courtesy squeal, damns him to hell.


Rob Van Dam vs. Scott Steiner (IC Title Match)

Hmmm...  good use for Steiner with Test gone, I think.  Match is actually pretty short, maybe 3-4 minutes, tops...  it's just an excuse for Steiner to get upset at Stacy when she refuses to hand him a chair to use as a weapon.  So eventually, when RVD and Steiner brawl to the outside, Scott just TAKES the chair from Stacy, and after a few reversals, blatantly plasters RVD with it to cause a DQ. RVD wins, but will probably be seeing more of Steiner in coming weeks...

Then, with the match over and Van Dam out of the way, Steiner decides he's going to sanction Stacy for not doing as she was told: but before he can swing the chair again, Steve Austin interrupts.  He asks Steiner if he thinks beating up a woman will make him a big man, and then asks him if he wants to beat up someone, why not beat up Austin?  Steiner doesn't go for it at first, but Austin goads him -- with the deadly double dog dare -- and finally Steiner punches him.  Austin responds by stomping the proverbial mudhole and metaphorically walking it dry.  Steiner escapes by using Stacy as a human shield.  So Austin celebrates with a beer or two.  Then he sees Stacy is still there, and decides to share:  but no!  Stacy does not like beer.  You know, I can't exactly explain why, but I would definitely have guessed that; Stacy definitely seems like the kind of girly-girl who needs a Cosmopolitan or something with fruit or an umbrella in it.  Austin tries to walk her through the proper toast-and-chug method, but Stacy makes a bitter beer face, and is not gonna play along.  So Austin Stunners her.  Whhhaaaaa?  Crowd.... cheers?  Well, now I'm confused.  I guess beating up a woman DOES make you a big man!


Maven vs. Rico

Ric Flair came out to join JR and King on commentary before the match, and JR puts over the severity of the injury he suffered the night before... because the Ric Flair he knows would work through almost anything.  You know, I'm knowing EXACTLY where this is going, but for some reason, I'm still loving it.  Rico and Maven go through the motions for about 4 minutes.  Decent stuff, but it seems a bit of a foregone conclusion, and Flair's commentary is the real highlight here.  Maven wins clean with that leaping DDT thingie.  

At that instant, no more than 3 seconds after Flair had just gotten done reiterating the seriousness of his injury, The Nature Boy leaps up, grabs one of his crutches, and sprints to the ring.  As King does the obvious "It's a miracle" shtick, Flair beat Maven mercilessly with the crutch.  You do not show up a living legend, Maven, not when he's got a legit claim on being the Dirtiest Player in the Game.  It's stuff like this that makes Flair awesome till this very day: not that he faked an injury but HOW he faked it so earnestly until it was no longer time to be faking.


Backstage: Newspaper photographer Roosevelt R. Somethingsomething would love a picture of fun loving Lance Storm for his paper...  but uh oh... in swoops the Hurricane, who has news of some trouble at the orphanage.  He dismisses Lance, and suggests that he could use his trusty sidekick's help.  Rosey says he'll go change and be right back.  Hurricane says, "Superheros change in phone booths." And conveniently, there's one right over there.  Rosey gets in... and if you're over the age of 6, you can guess: the fat man ain't getting out.  

More Flashback: for the second time tonight, we get about a half-dozen replays of Kane/Shane and the limo wreck, narrated by JR and King.  Yee haw.  We get the picture: you spend a lot of money on the stunt.  Showing it one billion times to get the "cost per clip airing" ratio down to reasonable levels ain't fooling anybody.

Elsewhere backstage: the Dudleys come up to Shane McMahon and tell him that even though Jericho begged off their match earlier in the show, they just got Austin to sign it officially.  And even better, they get to add a fourth partner of their choice to even the odds.  And even more betterer: it's a tables match.

Elsewhere Elsewhere backstage:  Goldberg is asking some dude to be on the look out for a silver Caddy... but when he walks away, some crates rain down from the heavens, just barely missing Goldberg's head by about 12 feet.  Goldberg looks up, but can't see anyone, so instead start kicking boxes around.  [Remind me sometime to tell you all the tale of Kick the Box, the greatest spectator sport ever enjoyed from our porch in college.  It's a top shelf anecdote.]


Goldberg Promo

Apparently, Goldberg would prefer it if whoever was coming after him would just do it to his face.  Um, Bill?  Last I checked, bounty hunters weren't in the business of accommodating their victims.  You'll just have to deal, OK?

But after some goading, finally Shawn Michaels comes out.  He says, no, he's not the guy who's been attacking Goldberg tonight, but he does say that he feels like he owes Goldberg for last week.  You see, he's not so upset that Goldberg speared him; he's upset that Goldberg did not admit the mistake and take responsibility for it.  Goldberg does not appear to be in an apologetic mood, and the two go eye to eye when suddenly....

Tommy Dreamer runs out and starts blasting Goldberg with the Singapore Cane.  Goldberg no sells this, and spears Dreamer back to Heat.  Or worse: to curtain jerking at house shows.  But Michaels has picked up the cane, and wants to use it on Goldberg.  Or does he?  He's having a crisis on conscience when Ric Flair (w/ a mic and accompanied by Randy Orton (w/ briefcase)) runs out and starts enthusiastically encouraging Michaels to revert to his classic form and waste Goldberg.  Michaels doesn't know what to do (but it sure sounds like the live crowd favors Michaels over Goldberg...).  Luckily, he's bailed out by Teddy Long and Mark Henry, who also have a beef with Goldberg, and who want the first shot at the 100 grand.  Umm, you had a shot last week, dudes; you failed.  This appears to be quite the stand-off...

So Eric Bischoff materializes, and declares that he's got a great idea.  Tonight, it'll be Goldberg and Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Mark Henry.  Huh.  Um, Eric?  What about Tommy?  He STARTED all this!


Chris Jericho, Christian, Rob Conway, and Rene Dupree vs. 
Shane McMahon, the Dudleys Boyz, and....  BOOKER T 
(Tables Match)

Booker gets a huge pop for his surprise return, and starts the match for his team.  Christian was gonna start for his, but everyone involved actually remembers that Christian was the guy who put Booker on the shelf, and who thus probably has a little something to fear.  So Jericho starts instead.  Opening minutes are a lot of back and forth brawling, and when Jericho and Christian act like they're going to walk out on the match, it spills to the outside for a bit.  The heels set up a table, but it goes unused on the outside, but Shane McMahon DOES take an awful licking, including a shot into the steel steps.  While the faces huddle to check on Shane, somebody decides it would be a good time for a commercial break....


When we come back, order has been restored, and Shane's still the legal man, and still getting his ass kicked.  At one point, JR refers to Dupree as "Rene Goulet," which cracked me up; King failed to capitalize, however, and did NOT refer to other members of the team as "Pete Dougherty," "Iron Mike Sharpe," or.... ummm, OK, so off the top of my head, I'm out of mid-80s WWF heel jobbers.  Anyway, Shane's trapped, and attempts to make a tag are broken up by the heels for several minutes until finally.... HOT TAG TO BOOKER T.  And now we enter a lengthy, chaotic brawl to finish out the match.  Lots of guys are hitting finishers everywhere, somebody brought a trashcan into the ring, which Jericho used to KO Bubba from the top rope, but which Shane and Booker then used as part of a Van Terminator on Dupree.  Duds are now in the ring along with Dupree as Shane and Booker deal with Jericho and Christian, and they hit the Whassup, and begin to assemble the tables.  When Jericho and Christian manage to foil the Duds plot, Spike Dudley ran in to lend another hand, and before long, Booker was back in the ring, spots Rob Conway and the table, and Book Ends Conway through the table to win the match for his team.  Really fun match that had to have been somewhere around 18-20 minutes, total (counting the ad break).


Backstage: the fat guy is still stuck in the phone booth.  Will the comedy never start?

(Fill-in-the-Blank)-a-Roonie Exhibition Continues!

In the ring, Booker, the Duds, and Shane are STILL celebrating while Booker's music plays.  Apparently, they've all been doing Spinaroonies, and we cut back just in time for a Bubba-roonie.  But the fun is about to end...  because here comes Jonathan Coachman.

Coach is out here because he's been charged with the duty of interviewing Kane, live via satellite from his hospital.  Shane takes issue with that, and decides he wants to interview Kane.  He asks the Duds and Booker to please remove the Coach, and so they do.  Somebody in the truck turns on the satellite, and there's Kane, with a doctor and nurse tending to him.  He is stable as Shane begins the "interview," but the doctor says Kane's been in an out of consciousness all week, and may not be coherent.  Shane doesn't care, because his "interview" consists of rambling taunts, mostly.  He says he and Kane COULD go back and forth trying to kill each other every week, but instead, proposes that they save it all up for one last blow-out... at Survivor Series.  As Shane lays in with the trashtalk, Kane heartbeat monitor (which is helpfully turned up to near comical proportions in the audio mix) starts going nuts and the doctor asks Shane to cut it out.  The doctor and nurse think Kane is going into cardiac arrest, but instead, Kane gets up, beats up the doctor, and chokeslams the nurse into the camera man, causing us to lose the feed.  Okey-dokey.


Trish Stratus/Lita/Ivory vs. Molly Holly/Gail Kim/Victoria

I don't feel like going over the whole story about why five of these six belong... and why Ivory's just out there to even the sides.  Pretty good stuff here, simple and basic for a few minutes, than heating up with a bit of a Pier Sixer at the end.  Stevie Richards was also out, and tried helping Victoria towards the end... but that backfired, and while the other four girls were out brawling, Trish rolled up Victoria for a quick pinfall.  

After the match, Richards attacked Trish, and she and Victoria were setting up for some sort of double team move when....  Chris Jericho makes the save?  Whhhhaaaaa?  Jericho goes over and, rather tenderly, helps Trish up.  Trish is quite effectively giving us "totally confused" with a dash of "I don't quite trust you."  But the look on Jericho's face is tougher to decipher.  Is that "Damn, I'm one smooth operator. Come to Jericho..." or is that "Uh oh, I do believe I am complete smitten"?  Either way, after he helps Trish to her feet, Jericho simply leaves the ring without any sort of explanation....


Backstage: Jericho is walking, and runs into Steve Austin.  Austin wants to know what's going on with him and Trish... a little something on the side there?  Jericho says no, it's nothing like that.  He was simply demonstrating how a gentleman treats a lady, something that Austin apparently does not comprehend.  Hmmm, OK, so I now see that my two "Whhhhaaaa?'s" sort of cancel each other out and make some sense here...   Jericho, confident that he's just shown Austin up, departs, and Austin moves on to bump into John Heidenreich, the guy who gave him that ringside ticket two weeks ago.  John has a try-out tape for Austin, and would love for Steve to give it a look and maybe give him a job.  It's a tape that was put together by "Little Johnny," and I'm already feeling terrible about this.  But Austin agrees to give it a look, and then keeps on walking... and bumps into Terri, who has a few questions.  But Austin needs to make a phone call.  "About the attempts on Goldberg?" Terri asks.  No, to find the nearest bar, because after tonight, he needs a few drinks.  No more questions....  Austin keeps on walking, and passes a phone booth.  With a fat man trapped inside.  Austin decides to start drinking right now.  Wow: that's one long and wandering single-take segment. Kubrick would be proud.


Shawn Michaels/Bill Goldberg vs. Ric Flair/Randy Orton/Mark Henry

Michaels starts, then quickly tags out to Goldberg for a few glory spots.  Then Michaels is back in to do the grunt work (including trying to make Mark Henry look credible).  After a few minutes of that, we get to the hot tag to Goldberg (who is actually getting his first mixed reaction in a while from this Pittsburgh crowd).  He goes nuts for a bit, as the heels come at him in waves.  Finally, HBK recovers enough to help, and hits a plancha onto Flair and Orton at ringside.  That left Goldberg alone with Henry in the ring.  Goldberg hit the spear and the jackhammer, and got the pinfall win.  Then, as he and Michaels celebrated, Michaels pulled a superkick out of nowhere to fell Goldberg.  Michaels mouthed the words, "Now we're even" and simply walked away without any additional attack.  

But wait up:  here's Bischoff again...  just like he was happy to see the old Scott Steiner last week, he's happy to see the old Shawn Michaels this week.  Michaels is vehemently denying that he's back to his old ways, apparently claiming he was just settling the score with Goldberg, that it was nothing personal, and that he's not going for the bounty or anything.  It's kind of hard, but that's what I gather from the lip reading and the facial expressions.  Bischoff doesn't care, though, and says that next week, he's rewarding the old Shawn Michaels with a world title match against Goldberg.  At this, Shawn stops protesting.  Even he likes the idea of the gold.  Michaels and Goldberg (now recovered and back to his feet) lock eyes to end the show.

The Big Picture

Really good show, I thought.  You had an "anchor" wrestling match in the middle of the show; the tables match was really good and exciting.  But this was not a night when the in-ring action was really the story.  Besides the 8-man, the main event is probably the only other match to get more than 4 minutes and develop any kind of flow or drama.  And yet, what we got in the ring was generally sound.

The real story, however, was, well... the stories.  This show had to have been massively re-worked over the weekend, and the team came up with elegant and creative ways to tell a lot of the stories they had wanted to before some key injuries, and also quickly developed new directions in a couple of cases.  I daresay that, backed into a corner, the RAW team came up with one of most enthralling and watchable "Crash TV" style shows the brand has done in a while.
This show had a feel of unpredictability because of the injuries and changes...  I honestly felt like I didn't know what was coming at times.  Sure, things like Austin stunnering Stacy and the stupid Kane "via satellite" interview were, respectively, baffling and anticlimactic developments...  but they weren't exactly what I expected.  There's a certain charm to that.  And even then: the thing with Austin/Stacy was counter-pointed by Jericho/Trish later on, and who knows where that might go?  The only really predictable bit of stupidity: Rosey in the phone booth.  Good lord, do we HAVE to throw something in there for the 6 year olds to laugh at?

And there was plenty of good unpredictable, too.  Booker's comeback in the tables match, Flair's faked injury, Michaels superkicking Goldberg... perhaps all things you might have predicted in smark mode.  But in watching-TV-mode, I thought they were handled perfectly, with a bit of freshness and misdirection (for instance, the stuff between Michaels and Flair HAD to be new in the absence of Rodney Mack, and was not only excellently executed by the two, but also lent another layer of drama to Michaels' semi-turn on Goldberg).  It all added up to a big time feel to RAW.

More thoughts/fall-out tomorrow in OO...


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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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