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OO RAW RECAP
Everyone: You Must Start Over...  
Unless You're Banging the Boss' Daughter
November 18, 2003

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Coming out of Survivor Series, the SD! brand seemed to have its house in order.  Or at least, figuring out where things were going on Thursday nights seemed like an easier exercise than taking stabs of Monday Night Prognostication.
 
RAW came out of the PPV with essentially a blank canvas: few guaranteed carry-over storylines and the start of a new "Bischoff Era."  Anything goes in that environment...

Sure enough, last night's show took the chance to do a full storyline reset and introduce a ton of new concepts and feuds.  Except in one very notable case.  One that will, if I know my internet, send most of you into fits of rage... But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's step back and recap all of last night's action first.  We'll discuss and dissect later.

Normal opening graphics and stuff.... but wait, no!  The quick fading pictures of Bischoff and Austin are replaced by a shot of an Austin portrait being spray painted in red.  By Eric Bischoff.  Bischoff laughs in evil genius fashion as he continues his desecration.

Cut to: a montage of Steve Austin's farewell from Survivor Series, including his comments to the fans, and closing on the image of two beer cans left in the center of the ring.

Fade to: two beer cans live in the ring on RAW.  But the beer cans are surrounded by Eric Bischoff and his team of five men (plus Teddy Long).  Surely this can only mean one thing...

Show Opening Heel Bragging

Bischoff taunted the audience with the old chesnut, "If you think I came here tonight to gloat.... You're RIGHT!".  And then to rub it in, he stomped the two beer cans.  From there, it was time to thank the assembled team.  Bischoff announced that he was so grateful that he would grant each member of Team Bischoff one wish (within reason)... and also that he was so annoyed by those who opposed him along the way that he'd make their lives hell.

On that note, Motorhead revs up, and out comes Triple H, Ric Flair, and Batista.  But rest assured, he's not here to tease a face turn.  He's here to explain how Evolution is just as responsible as anybody for Austin being gone, what with Orton scoring the final pinfall after Batista had delivered a powerbomb.  Bischoff sees the logic, and says, OK, HHH and Evolution can have extra wishes of their own, too.  HHH and Bischoff trade a few thoughts about this being a Fresh Start for RAW, and somehow, between the two of them, they decide that tonight's Main Event will pit all three members of Evolution against Goldberg in a handicap match.  So was that HHH's wish, or Evolution's joint wish, or what?  It's not quite clear, but it is quite clear that JR does not think this match is even remotely fair as we head to some....

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Corporately Sponsored Highlight of the Hour: Mark Henry eliminated Booker T last night at Survivor Series.  Yeah, I didn't believe it either, but you need to be reminded, as it has immediately bearing on our next match.

Booker T vs. Mark Henry

Strangely, this match actually clicked a bit better than Henry's match against Shawn Michaels two weeks ago.  I'm not saying "Booker T > HBK," but I'm just pointing it out.  Or maybe I just expected less out of a show opening throw-away match than I did out of a main event?  I'm not sure... story here was Henry was big and strong.  Booker was not, and got beat up for about 6 minutes. And whenever Booker decided he didn't want to get beat up, Teddy Long was not shy about chiming in with some interference to turn the tide back to Henry.  Finish was Henry charging Booker in a corner, but Booker leapt up and rolled him up (and put his foot on the ropes, to boot!) for the quick pinfall win.  Lawler was quick to point out that Booker "stole" the win as he's stolen so many things before, again dredging up the dead/pointless issue of Booker's criminal past for the 20% of the audience that cares/remembers.  JR just painted it as just desserts after Teddy's prior cheating, which seemed a more useful direction to go. Absolutely no mention or advancement of the "I Still Remember" storyline....  but not nearly as offensive as you might have pictured when you heard Mark Henry was involved, either.

[ads]

Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade vs. La Resistance

AAAHHH!  I must have entered the evil Mirror Universe!  We see actual signs of personality from Cade, who grabbed a mic after Conway and Dupree pussed out early in the match, and taunted the two by saying that folks don't put up with their crap here in his home state of Texas.  Cheap pop, but a pop nonetheless.  It was even enough to keep the crowd involved for the 4 or so minutes this lasted.  They packed that time with enough stuff that it seemed pretty dense, too, including a time-condensed Ricky Morton act by Jindrak to set up a respectably warm tag to Cade.  In the chaos, Jindrak tossed Dupree, and then hit the elevated dropkick finisher when Cade elevated Conway.  Clean pin, good reaction, no signs of heelishness.  That could be wise: despite the slimy win over the Duds, the right way to go is to get fans to care about Cade and Jindrak first, THEN turn them heel.  The heel turn alone is a road map to Nowheresville.

Backstage: Shawn Michaels is being worshipped as a minor deity by Maven and Tommy Dreamer.  Or at least, if that's not what they were doing, they should have been after Survivor Series.  Leave it to me to find the way to compliment HBK that he'd have no choice but to condemn as sacrilegious...  I truly am evil.  What was my point again?  OH, HBK's milling around, and is being interviewed.  Next.

[ads]

Live, Via Cables from About 100 Feet Away, An Interview with Shawn Michaels

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler express who life without Steve Austin sucks (I think this is the first time Lawler accuses JR of being in "Stone Cold Shock" and not performing at his usual level, actually, which in and of itself isn't so bad, but which would spiral out of control later on, most notably during distractingly bad dialogue during the Rico/Val match)... which immediately segues into an interview with Shawn Michaels, who is still backstage.  JR asks if Michaels has anything else he'd like to say about last night...  which seems like a mighty open-ended kind of question, but that's OK.  Michaels only gets so far as "Well, as a matter of fact..." before he's interrupted by Eric Bischoff.

Bischoff, flanked by security, is here to begin taking his vengeance on all who assisted and abetted Steve Austin.  But first, Shawn Michaels wants a few words in edgewise... he says he may not like Steve Austin, but he understands Steve Austin and he respects him. Austin loved his job, but Bischoff is just a dirtbag who likes the business side of things, who wants power and nothing else.  Bischoff doesn't like his impertinence, and announces he's got no work for Michaels here tonight, and tells security to escort HBK from the arena.  "Ladies and gentlemen, Shawn Michaels has left the building" is NOT announced at any point later in the night, but we can assume.  No more out of Michaels the rest of the night.

Shane McMahon Disappearance Theatre

To explain why we'll not be seeing Shane around for another 6 months or so, JR and King immediately went into narrating a series of highlights from the PPV, culminating in Kane sending Shane off in an ambulance (and Shane remains hospitalized, we are told).  And since they were there, JR and King kept on going and got to the part where Kane also helped Vince McMahon to bury the Undertaker.  And then, a big announcement: by permission of Mr. McMahon, Kane is going to be a guest on SD! this week, where he will perform the eulogy for his older brother.  May the wacky cross-overs begin!

Backstage: Scott Steiner and Test are chatting.  Turns out, Steiner cashed in his wish by asking for a tag team title shot for him and Test against the Dudleys.  Steiner, reasonably, says that in return, he'd like to be a free man again, and asks Test to revoke that stipulation from 2 months ago.  Test acquiesces, and Steiner is partially placated... but he still doesn't think that Stacy is on board.  Test slaps an unnamed brand-name beverage out of Stacy's hand and asks her if she'll do what she's told.  Stacy gives a half-hearted "Yeah, whatever you say," which seems enough to satisfy Steiner that Test's property won't be misbehavin'.

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Rob Van Dam vs. Ric Flair (IC Title Match)

They are not clear, but I think we're supposed to be under the impression that this was another case of Evolution cashing in a wish... or at the very least, of Bischoff taking care of those who are on his good side.  That latter impression was strengthened when it was announced the Five Star Frog Splash was banned in this match.  Randy Orton sits in on commentary, and is mostly harmless; his one notably good call came when he cut off some inane tangent and immediately focused attention on the fact that Flair was going for a Figure Four.  Match opened with Flair coaxing a "Whoo!" out of the crowd, and then RVD topping him with an even louder "R-V-D" chant.  From there, mostly back and forth action for a few minutes until Flair managed to soften up Rob's leg and go for the Figure Four.  RVD managed to reverse that hold, and then started a rally.  When he seemed poised to win, Orton left the desk to interfere.  But RVD cut him off twice; the interference was enough to open the door for Flair to land a cheap shot from behind, though, and he got a very long 2 count.  But Van Dam rallied again, and this time, his frustration at having to fight a 2-on-1 battle resulted in him deciding "To hell with it"... he was setting up for the Five Star despite it being banned.  But we'll never know if RVD was gonna go through with it or not, because Orton recovered enough by that point to shove RVD down, and then RKO him off the top rope (Orton was on the mat, Van Dam was sitting on the turnbuckle... looked pretty good).  Ref called for the DQ at that point.  But that didn't stop Orton from intercepting the IC belt and staring at it for a minute.  Geez, I always suspected Randall was a little soft in the head, but getting distracted by shiny things?  Obviously, we're supposed to gather that Orton touched the IC belt and decided that, oh yes, it will be his.  Though all this, Flair apparently forgot he was just getting his ass kicked in the name of winning the IC belt, because he immediately went into Encouraging Randy's Delusions of Grandeur Mode.  Hey, I'm all for Flair using what he's got left to help the kids get over, but does that have to mean he has to neuter himself and surrender his balls to Orton?

Backstage: Coach is strutting around like he owns the place, pausing twice.  Once, for effect, to remind us that Ouch, his neck still hurts. And second, to crack himself (and nobody else) up by telling Hurricane and Rosey that the SHIT gimmick "won't fly."  Ha!  Finally, he makes it to Eric Bischoff's office, where it's all mutual admiration.  Eric says he's got a big surprise for next week: to liven up the boring Salt Lake City nightlife, he's bringing back RAW Roulette!  Coach is in charge of preparations.  Bischoff is sure this is just what RAW needs, and Coach can only second that with proclamations of Bischoff's genius.  They go back and forth, egging each other on, and just when I start to get sacred that one or the other of them will get so worked up that he'll experience spontaneous ejaculation, we mercifully cut to....

[ads]

Victorious Return of an Underused and Recently Absent MegaStar...  the JeriTron5000!  (And some other guy)

The Highlight Reel is back in full effect this week, and Jericho wastes no time in proclaiming himself as not just the happiest man on the roster now that Austin's gone, but also the man most responsible for Austin being gone.  Jericho led the locker room campaign against Austin, was the Team Leader going into Survivor Series, and also pasted Shawn Michaels with the difference making chairshot.  Oh yes, he's responsible.

And then, in what was a surprisingly smooth transition (is Jericho the master of segues? perhaps...), he suddenly announced his guest for the night: Lita.

He starts in on Lita, saying that he really feels for her, what with her neck injury, and her brave comeback, and her earning a title shot, and...  before Jericho can finish, Lita cuts him off and finishes his thought with "And losing to Molly last night?  Thanks for the update, Tom Brokaw.  Now, if you've got something to tell me that I don't already know, get on with it."  Well, I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist.

Jericho says, No, really, he feels bad for Lita, and knows there's somebody backstage to cheer her up.  Lita again cuts him off, and says if it's Christian, then forget it, he's the last person she wants to talk to.  Jericho, however, says it's not Christian.  It is, in fact, somebody Lita's very fond of... it's somebody whose SD! contract just expired...  it's somebody making a victorious return to RAW... it's...

Matt Hardy.

Matt gets a big pop, and enters to what looks like a half-finished new entrance video (new "Loading" screen, but no Matt Facts, dammit).  Lita does the "Whoa, holy crap, what are you doing here?" double take.  Matt does the "Hey baby, it's me. How about a hug?", and they embrace to an even bigger pop.  I think that's where the fans decided Matt was here to be a babyface.  Suckers.  Matt grabs a mic, but has to pause for a "Hardy, Hardy, Hardy" chant before continuing...

He says he's got a question he's been wanting to ask Lita for a while... he gets down on one knee... he takes Lita's right hand in his left... and then Molly Holly interrupts.  Molly is not pleased, and hits a true-to-form note with a heel rant about how she is the women's champ, how she pinned Lita last night, but how now, the world still revolves around stupid Lita.  Jericho senses a lot of hostility, and proposes this solution: the happy reunited couple of Matt and Lita will take on Molly Holly and the male partner of his choice.  Molly likes the idea, and when she announces that she'll have the virtually-useless-in-a-fight Eric Bischoff as her partner, Matt and Lita REALLY like the idea.  [D'oh, usually my predictions on the fly are pretty good, and on this one, my spidy-sense said Molly was going to surprise everyone (including Jericho) by asking Y2J to be her partner, somehow using that to arouse Trish Stratus' jealousy....  sometimes I think too hard. Regardless, a fun segment that firmly inserted Matt Hardy into a spot higher up the food chain than Designated Jobber for One-Legged Wrestler.]

[ads]

Backstage: Bischoff has cornered Molly, and is VERY pissed that she'd presume to put him in a wrestling match tonight.  But Molly explains it all and it makes perfect sense: after Bischoff's comments last week to Lita, she thought he'd want to help put an end to Lita right in the middle of the ring.  I didn't follow Eric's logic, but after he praised Molly's ample deviousness, he added a stip:  If Matt and Lita won, Molly had to defend her title again against Lita, but if he and Molly won, Lita was fired for good.  By the way, if anyone in high places is still paying attention: I vote FOR Molly in tight jeans, and AGAINST Molly modeling the Complete Stephanie McMahon Makeover.  Seriously, I don't know jack-shit about what make-up does what, but somehow the end result was that Molly was more Steph than herself in this little bit.  I like my Steph on Steph, and Molly doing her best Molly. In the calculus of babe-osity, reducing the standard deviation between different girls by generically whoring them up is not to The Rick's liking.

The Dudley Boyz vs. Test/Scott Steiner (Tag Title Match)

Duds have a new look: mustard yellow camouflage, with new yellow-highlighted jerseys that I'm sure will be available via ShopZone in time for the holidays.  I'm no expert on Dude Fashion, but I'm gonna go ahead and say this is maybe just one notch less heinous than HHH's unflattering insistence on going with the biker shorts without putting an old pair of his full length tights on over them.  Maybe.  It's close.  New outfits didn't affect the Duds' abilities, though.  They managed to control vast swaths of this match, forcing Test and Steiner to cheat for most of their advantages.  Advantages that didn't last, because both Test and Steiner wasted time by verbally accosting Poor Stacy Keibler every time she decided to cheer for the Dudleys (which was often).  Late in the match, Steiner decided to grab one of the title belts and use it as a foreign object... but the Duds foiled him, and the belt went flying to the outside.  Right by where Stacy was standing.  With Steiner powdered out, Test regained control, and then demanded Stacy hand him the foreign object... but Stacy wouldn't do it.  She dropped the belt and backed away.  Test was immediately hit from behind with 3-D and was pinned.  Stacy looked like she knew the shit had just hit the fan for her as she walked away.  Interesting way of getting the Test/Steiner/Stacy house in order (rid of the manslave gimmick, giving Test and Steiner a reason to be unified, even if it's only in chauvinism), although the match, proper, seemed to drag a little and didn't really do anything for me...

Backstage: Lita and Matt are talking, and Lita can't help herself.  "So, did you want to ask me something before?", she asked.  Matt said, yeah, but he wants the timing to be perfect when he does it, and right now, he thinks they should focus on getting Lita her title shot.  He goes off to finish getting ready for the tag match, and Trish sneaks in behind Lita... and the two immediately go all girly-girl with the "You think he's gonna propose?", "I sure hope so," and "Oh, I'm so happy for you," all punctuated by utterly appropriate levels of giggling.

[ads]

Lita/Matt Hardy vs. Molly Holly/Eric Bischoff

Everybody's in the ring when we get back from ads... and Lita and Molly immediately get things started.  We are quickly informed that this is Intergender Rules, which means the men CAN fight the women.  I think this if the first time in years that JR and King announced whether it was Intergender or Mixed Tag rules and was actually right on the first try.  Nevertheless.  Molly and Lita did about 3 more minutes, picking right up where they left off at Survivor Series: hot-ish start for Lita, but then Molly got control.  Lita hit one big move, and was inching towards her corner, but Molly immediately tagged in Eric, who gleefully yanked Lita back to the center of the ring.  He was not so gleeful when Lita round-housed him and sent him to the mat.  As Bischoff regained his composure, Lita made a final dive to tag Matt... who leapt off the apron.  As Lita gave us her "What the hell?" face, Bischoff came up behind her, slammed her head first into the mat, and covered her for the three count.  

Matt Hardy, v1.1: the Bad Breaker-Upper

After the match, Lita was already busy working up some good tears of confusion over Matt's abandoning her.  And then it got worse: Bischoff got in her face and told her she was fired, fired, fired.  Bischoff and Molly powdered out.  And Matt Hardy got in the ring with a microphone.  It's now time to ask that Big Question.

"How could you be so selfish?" is the question.  Matt and Lita were put on different rosters with the Brand Split, but when she broke her neck and could not compete, she could have just come on over to SD! and joined Matt, who was ever so lonely.  Instead, when the rosters were locked, Lita decided she had to train and rehab and prepare to return to RAW to chase the Women's Title.  She put the title above Matt, and she put her career above their relationship.  Reasonable bones of contention on paper, but Matt's shouting and whiny self-centeredness rendered them quite UNreasonable-sounding.  Finally, Matt hit his crescendo, and backed Lita into a corner before announcing "We... are... through!"  Matt left.  Lita (almost) wept.  JR was at his indignant best.

[ads]

Moments ago:  Matt Hardy welcomed Lita to Dumpsville.  But he didn't have to be such a colossal prick about it.

Val Venis vs. Rico

Val is accompanied by Lance Storm and 2 Lovely Young Ladies.  Rico is accompanied by Jackie.  The seconds (and the third and the fourth) play surprisingly little role in this, though.  Rico and Val seemingly go through a full house-show type match: fairly long and with emphasis on ring work instead of any extracurriculars.  I didn't mind it much, but my mind did begin to wander... and the live crowd was also getting restless when the near falls after the 5 minute mark were only near falls instead of full falls.  Finally, we entered End Game: Val was going for the Money Shot, but Miss Jackie broke it up.  That allowed Rico to yank Val off the top turnbuckle, but then he got distracted or something by looking at Jackie... she was just getting up, but when she felt somebody behind her, she reached back and immediately started groping Lance's crotch region (with the requisite look of awe on her face).  With Rico distracted, Val was able to shove him back down, got back up on the top, and hit the Money Shot for the pinfall win.  After the match, Lance brought the ladies into the ring, and the four all bumped and grinded together in a way that probably shouldn't leave me wondering about the vaguely homo-erotic overtones, but which did, nevertheless.  Maybe if it was more like 4 girls and 2 dudes...  I liked the idea here (to subtly advance a storyline while letting the focus be a good 7 minute wrestling match), but the execution didn't quite follow through.  The lack of pre-existing interest in these characters meant that interest waned starting at the halfway point.  And the finish (with Jackie groping Lance to distract Rico) is something that probably read really well off a typed page but didn't translate very smoothly to the real world.

[I'd Be Remiss If I Failed to Mention:  during this match, Jackie had a nipple slip out of its protective housing.  I honestly thought I'd paid pretty good attention to RAW this week (no football game that I cared about, only limited flipping once both UConn and Xavier took control of their hoops games), but I had to hear about The Nipple in the Chat Room after RAW.  Which is odd because I consider myself as vigilant as any guy; and trust me, we're always, every one of us, at Nipple Condition Red.  I was ready to dismiss The Nipple as a trick of lighting or something.  But nope.  Hard evidence proves me wrong:  a screen shot has been posted to the OO Forums.  Mheh heh heh heh, hard.]
 
Backstage: Lita is weepy, but coping.  She's a trooper, that's why we dig her.  She's got her stuff all together (including, apparently, a puppy that she keeps stashed in her carry-on bag), and is struggling to navigate the unwieldy load through a cramped hallway when Christian stops her short.  Lita tells Christian, "Oh god, not you, not now."  But Christian just wants to say one thing, and it's nothing big, but you know, he just thinks Lita would like to know.  She's un-fired.  Christian used his one wish to get her her job back.  No big deal, just something he wanted to do because she didn't deserve what was done to her.  Lita is sort of shocked and overjoyed all in one, and eventually settles on giving Christian a Thank You hug.  At that, Christian takes one of Lita's bulky bags and says if she needs a shoulder or an ear, they can go grab a bite to eat or something.  Lita has not heard a better idea all night.  They are off.

[ads]

More PPV Flashback: some more recapping of Austin's last night, and then footage of Mark Cuban's Excellent Adventure, culminating in an RKO from Orton.  I honestly don't know which of those two I find more annoying at this point.

Backstage: Evolution is getting a kick out of Cuban's misfortune.  Randy announces he's decided how he's going to use his wish: he's going to demand a PPV Title Match against Rob Van Dam.  He wants to hold the prestigious IC Title, and rattles off a list of the greats to hold it, including Ricky Steamboat.  Greg Valentine.  Pat Patterson.  The Honky Tonk Man.  After Honky gets listed, HHH has heard enough, and coughs suggestively.  Orton gets the message and immediately says, "Oh, and you Triple H.  Yeah."  Convinced the pup had been put back in his place, HHH took control of the interview and warned Orton and Batista that, whatever they did to Goldberg tonight, they are under strict orders to let HHH get the pinfall.  Goldberg is his, and nobody else's.

Somewhere else backstage: Chris Jericho finally tracks down Trish Stratus.  He's been looking for her cuz he knows this GREAT place... but Trish doesn't want to hear it.  She is pissed at Jericho for orchestrating Lita' humiliation.  Jericho claims ignorance of Matt's plans, but Trish says she saw it: the mixed tag match was all Jericho's idea, and it had to be a set-up.  Jericho insists his hands are clean, and then switches gears.  He says he would never have done anything to disrespect Lita, because he knows she is Trish's friend and that'd be like disrespecting Trish.  Which he would never do.  Because he can't stop thinking about Trish.  About the great times they have.  About the CHEMISTRY.  He thinks about it her all the time, day and night.  And he doesn't want that to end.  He plays with Trish's hair.  Then he moves in.  And then Trish pulls back, and for one second, you think she's gonna say, "No, Chris... not now.  Not tonight."  But she doesn't.  When Chris goes in, she kisses him right back.  That minx.  From there?  We'll never know, because we must watch...

[ads]

Evolution (HHH, Randy Orton, Batista) vs. Goldberg

It's after 11pm (eastern) by the time we get everybody in the ring to start this thing... but that's OK, cuz honestly, this one wasn't really a pretty display of in-ring prowess.  It was all about character building and storyline advancing.  Goldberg's a monster who did all sorts of feats of strength.  Evolution cheated their way to a brief advantage.  But Goldberg's such a monster that it didn't stick.  He made a comeback, and was on the verge of winning against all odds.  But when he set HHH up for the Spear after dispatching Orton and Batista, Flair tripped him up from outside the ring.  And that's all the opening Evolution needed.  They swarmed, and despite a few brief flurries from Goldberg, quickly managed to hit a trio of finishes.  First Orton struck with the RKO.  Then Batista planted Goldberg with a powerbomb.  And finally, HHH finished the job with a Pedigree for the pinfall win.

Oh, But That's Not All!

HHH grabbed a mic and a chair, and sat himself down in front of Goldberg's face (as he was held up by Orton and Batista).  He announced he was cashing in his chips, and next week, live on RAW, it was Goldberg vs. HHH for the World Title.  What's that, HHH's second wish?  Lucky bastard...  HHH wanted a bit more tonight, though, and was about to Pillmanize Goldberg's face with the chair... 

But Kane interrupted.  He stared down all of Evolution until the left with their tails between their legs.  Face turn?  Not a chance, Potsie.  As soon as Goldberg and Kane were alone, Kane hoisted his carcass up and chokeslammed him.  "Straight to hell," if you're to believe JR.  What's it all mean?  We'll have to find out next week....

Final Analysis

Just about everything was new and fresh... until the final segment.  Leave it to Triple H to keep himself in the World Title picture even while every other storyline around him is thrown aside and replaced.

Ha!  Gotcha!  I'm not going all internet jack-off on you.  I actually assume that Goldberg wins a "free-per-view" match next week against HHH that serves more to advance the Kane vs. Goldberg feud...  and then HHH will find himself doing something different.  Finally.  The world does not need another month of him and Goldberg being married to each other.  Seriously, it's been since July now, and I'm ready for a break.  I've got no problem with them milking this for another week, though.  None at all.

And then all the rest?  Well, we've got an IC Title picture that is shaping up nicely.  We've got Test and Steiner jelling as a cohesive tag team who will likely be the top heel contenders to the Dudleys (and not a moment too soon).  We've got the wide open possibilities of the still unclaimed Wish of Chris Jericho (and one belonging to Mark Henry, too).  We've got Eric Bischoff running amok and making life tough for Team Austin members (already Shawn Michaels felt his wrath, and I wouldn't mind seeing this storyline serve as an excuse to give Booker T something worthwhile to do).

And we've got Matt Hardy showing up and stepping into a role as probably the #4 heel on RAW (yes, ahead of even Jericho, who keeps toying with Tweenerdom; and assuming you don't count women or general managers).  Beats the hell out of where he was at on SD!, at any rate.  And he's a player in a bunch of possible storylines.  Is he in Bischoff's pocket after jumping ship?  Is he gonna be upset with Christian chasing his ex?  Was he in league with Jericho or not?  And just what the hell are Christian and Jericho up to, anyway?  The two flipped roles tonight, with Christian seemingly sincere in saving Lita's job and then offering some needed companionship after she had a shitty night... while Jericho, for the first time ever, struck a less-than-genuine chord in his pursuit of Trish Stratus.  Gone was helplessly smitten Jericho.  In his place was cliche-spewing, almost-predatory Jericho.  Maybe I'm reading it wrong, maybe Jericho was just so flustered by Trish's rebuke that he resorted to desperate measures...  but man alive, any time a guy's got nothing but "But baby, you can't refuse me.  We've got CHEMISTRY," I can't help but imagine he's a slimy toolbox who is three minutes away from running out of material and blurting out, "Um, I'd really, REALLY like to bone you?" as his most convincing rhetoric.  Which may well be an appropriate approach sometimes, but which seemed like a deviation from what we'd been seeing and what's been working in this case...  if they wanted to continue along the same lines (the "almost saccharine but somehow entirely tolerable" lines), I think they stumbled here both in the writing and in the way Jericho delivered the lines.  But if they wanted to remind us Jericho still has it in him to be a bit of jerk who is not above manipulating people to his advantage, well, in that case, I'd say mission accomplished.

I guess most important, however, is that over a month after Jericho and Christian started what could very well have been a one-week throw-away gimmick if it hadn't stuck when thrown against the wall, I'm still sitting here interested in the latest developments because of the lingering ambiguity.  People sometimes call pro wrestling "soap opera for men," which always gets me pissed off on the grounds that I could never like anything related to "soap opera."  So, of course, look at me know...  I'm like a middle aged housewife who can't wait till the next installment of her stories.  "Does he really love her?  Oooooh, will next Monday never come?"  God, I make myself sick.

Overall, I'm digging the reset on RAW.  They had a strong outing at the PPV, and followed up with a show that should have them set up for another good showing at the December PPV.  I'm not sure there was anything on this show that will really stand out as memorable months and years from now (Matt Hardy's jump was as close as it got, but I'm starting to sense that roster jumps are about to become more common, making this one less special)... but it was still a fun show to watch in a sort of "intellectual exercise" kind of way.

You could play along at home, keeping your wrestling IQ sharp by guessing at what new development they'd pull out of their ass next.  I enjoyed doing it, anyway.  Even when I was off-base.

Good show.  Something in the mid-3's if you want to talk in terms of BotB ratings, at least from this corner.

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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