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OO RAW RECAP
Good...  Good...  GREAT...  Good...
Awwwww, BULLSHIT, Man! 
December 16, 2003

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I know there will be a lot to say about the ending to tonight's RAW... so instead of wasting time talking now, let's just rush through the show so we can get to that, eh?

Cold Open: Evolution are standing on the top of the entrance ramp, holding their four title belts in the air for all to see.  Triple H has a few brief words: he promised that Evolution would change the face of wrestling, and at Armageddon, the made good on the promise.  We must now all heed the Golden Rule: Evolution has the gold, so they make the rules.

Opening theme/pyro/etc., and then a quick voiceover from Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler informs us that our main event tonight will be a huge six man tag: Goldberg, Shawn Michaels, and Rob Van Dam taking on Triple H, Batista, and Ric Flair.  But first, it's time for a little "So why did I Pay for Armageddon Theatre"....

The Women Scorned vs. Vitamin C (Battle of the Sexes II)

No real reason given as far as why anyone involved wanted this rematch, other than JR's theory that Eric Bischoff is a jack-ass, which maybe had something to do with it.  Also: Chris Jericho is a jack-ass, despite ample evidence the past two weeks to the contrary (which Lawler seems willing to bring up, but which JR ain't buying).  More evidence: Jericho refuses to start the match against Trish, tagging in Christian (JR's interpretation: Jericho is a coward as well as an asshole, and refuses to even do his own dirty work).  So Christian gets the better of Trish, then tells her to tag Lita, which she does.  Lita fires up on Christian, so Jericho tags himself in long enough to hit one bodyslam, and then tags back out again so Christian can go on beating up girls.  Which he does for a couple of minutes.  But Lita rallies, and gets in position to hit... I don't know, SOME type of move from the top rope... but it gets botched badly, and Lita sort of battering rams into a standing Christian head and neck first (two possibilities: Lita just under-rotated on a back body press, or Lita thought she was going for a moonsault on a prone Christian and Christian surprised her by being on his feet).  Looked sort of scary, and Lita did immediately tag out to Trish.  But within seconds, Lita was back and helping Trish double team on Christian, so it's all good.  But it's not good for long.  Christian comes out of the attempted double team with a double clothesline that sends Lita flying out of the ring.  Then he snags Trish and, after turning to Jericho to tell him "This one's for you, good buddy," plants her with an Unprettier.  When Christian goes for the cocky cover, Jericho decides "Enough," and hops in the ring to pull Christian off.  He tells the ref to please, just stop the match and check on Trish, she might be hurt.  The ref and Christian don't seem to understand what's going on; so Jericho hard shoves Christian to the mat, and gets in the ref's face.  So OK, Y2J, settle down, you got your Non-Finish.  Maybe only 3 or 4 minutes, and as a wrestling match, nowhere near as good as the night before... but this is probably the story advancement they should have done at the PPV, because lord knows Armageddon could have used SOMEthing memorable.  Jericho vs. Christian, it's the next logical step, and it's introduced very effectively here in this match.

After the match: Jericho is organizing the Trish Relief Efforts in the ring when Eric Bischoff storms out and asks what the hell he's doing putting the kibosh on HIS Battle of the Sexes.  The Battle of the Sexes he put together JUST FOR JERICHO to get his revenge.  Jericho calls Bischoff a jack-ass, and says if Bischoff had been paying attention, he'd have known that this was never what Jericho wanted, and now (pointing to Trish) look how it ended.  Jericho storms out of the ring, but is forced to turn back around when Bischoff starts taunting him about "What's the matter?  You're too good to fight girls?"... this turns into Bischoff deciding that later on tonight, Jericho will have to wrestle another match... against another upset and frustrated individual: Kane.  Chew on that, Junior.

After the After the Match:  Bischoff excused Jericho, and turned to the camera to announce he has other big news tonight.  And it's news that Mick Foley will have to be in the ring to collect in person.  So where art thou, Mick?

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Power Struggle Theatre

Back from the break, and finally, Mick decides to come on down to the ring.  He cuts Bischoff off, however, and says HE is the one with big news tonight.  Foley announces that with the Save Stone Cold petition up over 1 million signatures, he was arranged for the Board of Directors to be at RAW in two weeks to personally hear The Case for Bringing Back Stone Cold.  And who else will be there?  Austin himself will be permitted to appear and speak on his own behalf.

Bischoff tries to downplay the news, saying it won't matter in the end and that Mick's not a mover or shaker, but mostly just a disappointment and an annoyance.  And after putting up with the annoyance of Steve Austin for six months, Bischoff doesn't want to put up with Mick Foley any longer.  So he's here with a proposal.  Bischoff believes that fans don't give a shit about Mick Foley, GM.  They care about Mick Foley, Hardcore Legend and Active Wrestler.  The live crowd meets this with... I'll be generous and call it suspicion.  But Bischoff sells it hard, and to remind us of what we like about Foley, he introduces a Music Video Tribute to Foley's greatest moments.  It's all the stuff we've seen before, but I think this particular cut was a new one, and of course, it was the trademarked excellent production job by the WWE kids.  Back from the video, the crowd chants Foley, and Bischoff gives him the ol' "So whaddya say?".

But Mick's smarter than that.  He says he has thought about getting back in the ring, but that he realizes Bischoff's trying to trap him into returning too soon, without any training or preparation, so that Bischoff can seize the full control of RAW away from him.  So no dice.  Bischoff has more ammo, however.  He says the match he wants to propose is this: Mick Foley vs. Randy Orton.  If Orton wins, Foley goes away forever.  But if Mick wins, then Bischoff will go away forever.  That last stip catches Foley's attention...  but still, he doesn't like the sound of the match.  He says any idiot could look into the crystal ball and see how it'll go down: Foley can kick as much ass as he wants, but Evolution would just come out and that'd be the end of Mick Foley.  So Mick says he'll do the match tonight... but only if Bischoff grants him a few concessions.  One: the "only referee I trust" Earl Hebner will call the match.  Two:  Evolution is barred from ringside, and if they so much as LOOK at the ring, Foley wins by DQ.  And three: Bischoff is barred from ringside, too.  Bischoff doesn't like the direction this has gone... but he is still confident Orton can win.  So he shakes on it.  It's a deal.  Foley vs. Orton, Winner Takes All, later tonight!

Oh but wait: Foley hops back in the ring... he's just realized he never held the IC Belt.  So tonight, the match will be for the title.  Have a nice day!  Whoa, that sure came out of left field, didn't it?  Part of me wants to bitch about how they wasted ANOTHER chance to do something interesting and exciting at Armageddon to build up Foley/Orton, but most of me was just digging on the intensity and twistiness of this promo. 

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Booker T/Maven vs. Mark Henry/Matt Hardy

Ummm, so when is it too soon to start our own "Matt Back to SmackDown!" petition.  He comes in amidst all kinds of hoopla, and a month later is in a Heat-caliber feud and joining up with Mark Henry in a completely non-sensical tag team...  oy.  This is actually not a bad match, as Mark Henry is used PERFECTLY.  Matt starts against Maven, and hits a few moves before Maven makes a come back.  So Matt tags in Henry, who hits precisely TWO (2) power moves on Maven to destroy him.  And then Matt tags back in.  Thanks for playing, Mark.  Matt controls Maven for about 3 minutes, and then it's the lukewarm tag to Booker T.  He goes house o' fire on Matt, and then knocks Henry down off the ring apron.  After hitting a spine buster on Matt, Booker gives us a Spinaroonie... but as soon as he gets to his feet, Henry has hopped into the ring to charge him.  Booker dodged it, sent Henry flying over the top rope, then told Maven to do a suicide dive onto Henry while he (Booker) nailed Matt with a scissors kick and got the pinfall win.  Booker and Maven retreated while Henry got back in the ring and mouthed to words "I owe you," to Booker.  Oh, sweet jesus, no.  I'm beggin' ya....  no more.  I tap out.  We ALL tap out.  Let Booker/Henry end.  About 5 solid minutes of wrestling action, actually.  It's just there are two people in this match who don't belong in throw-away five minute matches.  You know who they are.

Backstage: the Coach is standing outside Goldberg's door, and he smugly promises an exclusive, live interview with the FORMER (his emphasis, not mine) champ.  Next.

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Backstage: Coach is ready for his big exclusive... but dammit, Goldberg's door slams shut on him when he tries to enter.  NOBODY disrespects Coach like that.  So he puffs up his chest and storms into Goldberg's locker room.  The door shuts behind him.  We hear comedic sounds of Coach getting thrown around, and then Coach precedes Goldberg out the door by about 2 seconds, if you catch my drift.  Goldberg steps over his carcass as Coach whines about "Owww, my shoulder."

La Resistance in: "Call us Fifi, PLEASE!  Otherwise we got NOTHING!"

Rob Conway and Rene Dupree enter, accompanied by obligatory shots of ringside armed services men and women holding the even more obligatory Saddam-centric newspapers.  Dupree says our precious The Rock is not here this week because of the spectacular beating La Resistance put on him last week.  And then he tries, quite clumsily, to remind the crowd about the "Fifi" chant from the week before.  Problem is, this crowd ain't buying it.  Didn't think they would; hey, what can I say, not ever syllable out of Rock's mouth is catch-phrase gold, and most of the fans today aren't old enough to remember just how hot Ric Flair's personal French Maid from 10 years ago was, anyway.  Mic goes over to Conway, who has decided to single out Mick Foley for a few nasty words after last week.  Foley is big and loud and obnoxious, just like America.  He pledges La Resistance's support to Randy Orton tonight, so that Mick Foley will be gone forever.  Nee haw.

Lillian Garcia then attempts to introduce their opponents, but....

THROUGH SPARKLERS AND BRIMSTONE, IT'S GOLDBERG  

Nobody knows why Goldberg is here.  He's not scheduled until the next match!  But Goldberg obeys no format sheet!  Spear.  Spear.  Jackhammer.  Break the French Flag over his knee.  Take an American Flag from a ringside plant.  Wave it in a corner.  Crowd is eating it up.  With a spoon.  I'll say this: with Goldberg, the simpler, the better.

But all is not roses.  Because here's Bischoff again.  He can't believe Goldberg's Path of Rage.  First he took out RAW's #1 Announcer.  Then one of RAW's top tag teams before their scheduled match.  Goldberg, in fact, is so out of control, that Bischoff has only one option.... he announces that effective immediately and for the next 30 days, Goldberg is DE-ACTIVATED.  What, like Commander Data on Star Trek?  Aw, fuck, wait, Matt came up with the same basic joke.  What if I started calling him "Gold-borg"?  Anything there?  No.  Alright, I'll leave the comedy to others.  

JR, who already went into a bona fide tizzy over Mick Foley's return match, is now on the verge of a stroke as he comes up with TV-14 profanities to toss Bischoff's way.  His favorite: Bischoff is a son of a bitch.

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Announcer Round Table: JR and King pause tonight's hectic action to give us a little reset.  Foley's return is later and is history in the making.  And Bischoff is now a "jackass" for sending Goldberg away for 30 days.

Backstage: Mick Foley is asking an empty room "So, I'm about to do something I promised I'd never do.  Let me ask you, can I go out there and do it just once, or will it get in my blood?"  Ahh, we pan back to see Shawn Michaels... Michaels says that when he came back, it was for just one match at SummerSlam 2002, and look at him now, wrestling every week, held the world title a year ago, and all that.  So yeah, it definitely gets in your blood.  He busts out the even-more-obligatory-than-anything-that-preceded-it Godfather 3 dialogue.  Foley seems to consider this... and then asks Shawn to hand him that flannel over there.  He's got a match to win.  Shawn hands him the red shirt, and then says, "Yep, me too," and walks out.  This was just a really nice touch, one of those moments of attention to detail where a little thing can end up being key to story or character development just because it feels real or rings true with fans.  

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Monday Night Football: for absolutely no good reason, JR narrates footage of Denver Bronco Clinton Portis celebrating his big game 8 days previous with a replica RAW Title belt.  Note to WWE: people barely cared when I mentioned the day after it happened.  I'm betting they care even less a week later.

Rob Van Dam/Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H/Ric Flair/Batista (Handicap Match)

It's a handicap match because Goldberg was DEACTIVATED (which is so much more sinsister-sounding than being suspended, I guess).  JR tries to be indignant that Bischoff wouldn't let RVD and HBK get a new partner, but really, what did he expect?  So what's the deal here?  Pure quality, that's what... well except for one detail we'll get to later.  Early match is Shawn willingly tagging in at the insistence of Batista.  Michaels gets the better of Batista with his speed.  Kind of a spot/regroup/spot/regroup feel to the opening 3-4 minutes, here, with all five men getting in at some point.  After about four minutes, though, Michaels settles in, and starts getting his ass kicked.  That lasted for a couple of minutes to set up a Decoy Hot Tag to RVD (you know, a tag that makes you think maybe the match is wrapping up, but guess what, Pedro, the joke's on you!)... RVD cleans a little house, and then we actually do fill the ring up for a little Pier Five action to further the impression the end is nigh.  We got a ref bump, we got a Five Star by RVD on Batista, we got some vaguely sloppy (or maybe just over-orchestrated) shennanigans to get Michaels' powdered out and to keep the ref occupied while HHH hit an illegal Pedigree on RVD.  And then Batista draped an arm over Van Dam... and then the ref finally got back on the job...  but RVD kicks out!  See, all the other stuff they did, even *I* thought that would be the finish.  But it's not!  Batista, still groggy, gives way to Flair, who locks in a Figure Four.  One on hand, it's the patented submission hold of an all-time great... but on the other, it's a rest hold and the match is already close to 10 minutes old, so....

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Back from the break, and we are told Michaels broke up the Figure Four, and now RVD is getting his ass kicked by Batista.  For the next 4-5 minutes, the story of the match was RVD needing desperately to tag in Michaels, but always getting beat down at the last second.  In other words: he was Ricky Morton.  But allow me to make my one gripe of this whole match:  for as good as Michaels has been in every phase lately, somebody should fine him for playing the shittiest Robert Gibson EVER.  His stretching for tags was half-hearted at best and non-existent at other times, and the fans were teetering on the EDGE of really getting into the match.  Some rhythmic clapping or stomping or other cheerleading by Michaels, and they'd have been putty.  Michaels knows tag team wrestling, and as minor as you may think this complaint is, I've seen him use these tricks to great effect himself in the past so...  anyway, the end result is that when RVD makes the Real Hot Tag to HBK (just standing placidly in the corner, not stretching, not cheerleading, not acting like he much cares at all), it's only a Hot Tag.  It could have been a Super-Duper Hot Tag.  Michaels cleans house, though. And then, it's time to Tune Up the Band.  The show-boating, however, is Shawn's demise.  Even though HHH is the legal man, Batista picks Shawn off and powerbombs him.  Both legal men are down.  Outside the ring, Batista and Flair get wiped out by a suicide dive from RVD...  so it's up to HHH and Shawn.  HHH is to his feet first, and sets up the Pedigree.  Shawn worms out.  Shawn sets up the Superkick. HHH spins him away.  HHH charges with a clothesline, but HBK ducks, turns, and nails the Sweet Chin Music from nowhere.  Drops down.  Hooks the leg.  One. Two.  Three.  Shawn Michaels has just pinned the World Champion.  JR sells HBK's unstoppable Will to Win and how big his win over the Champ might be.

Crowd pops huge for what has to be a surprising finish.  And it was a finish to a really good match that I'm guessing was close to 20 minutes, all told (with the ad break).  And you can feel free to disregard my complaint about Shawn's Robert Gibson act, if you want...  it's just something I noticed, but at the end of the night, it's the sort of thing that is basically the difference between a three-and-a-half star type of match and a four-stars-even type of match.  And nobody, not even the biggest internet toolbox, complains about a free-TV three-and-a-half star match that pretty much tops everything that took place the night before on a PPV.

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Rico vs. John Heidenreich

Oh man.  You should all know about my feelings regarding putting Heat caliber momentum killers in this late on the show... but truth is, this is a time when it's OK.  A palate cleanser is appropriate after that last match, and Foley/Orton has plenty of cache to keep fans focused in.  Only problem is Heidenreich is NOT the guy to be included in the Heat-caliber momentum killer match, even under these appropriate circumstances.  Crowd pops mildly for Rico's homo-eroticly-tinged offense, but busts out the "boring" chant once Johnny takes over.  JR can't even bring himself to do Heidenreich any favors: he all but says Johnny is grossly untalented and has to get by on hoping one of his power moves hits the jackpot.  Finish had the ref scurrying to get out of the way of a reversed Irish Whip, which left him out of position to see Jackie get up on the apron and yank Heidenreich down, throat first, across the top rope.  Rico followed up with his neckbreaker finisher, and got the pinfall.  The announcers made it clear that Rico winning two nights in a row means he is no fluke.  We'll see if this is going anywhere other than an express ticket back to Heat for Rico... bottom line is his gimmick is one that'll take time to catch on and find a niche (one problem is that society no longer assumes homosexuals are evil, so trying to press that button doesn't work as instant heel heat; Rico's calling may just end up being as a babyface, with his antics generating laughs at the expense of homophobic heels).  Outside of maybe 2 or 3 Rico spots tonight, though, this was a dull as hell five minute match...  enough to maybe suggest Rico COULD catch on, but also more than enough to bludgeon you over the head with the fact that it won't come wrestling matches like this.

Backstage: Jericho nervously approaches the women's locker room, and gets up the fourage to knock on the door and ask for Trish.  She eventually comes out with a look that says, "You?  What the hell do you want?"  Jericho, seemingly sincere and maybe a bit flustered, asks if she's OK.  Trish, as if the icepack on her neck wasn't indication enough, says No, she's not OK.  She calls Jericho an asshole, and says the only way she might be heading towards "OK" is if Jericho never talks to her again.  She slams the door and Jericho drops his head and walks away.  Another quality little bit with the two; not melodramatic, just to the point.  My concern: there are only so many ways to do "You're an asshole and don't ever talk to me again" AND have Jericho crawl back for more before it DOES get to the point of cheesy b-movie crap.  You can't make a chump of Trish by having her suddenly come all the way back around next week...  no way.  But once Jericho vs. Christian is ON (and that will come soon), you can't have her character be slower or dumber than the audience, either.  Now that we "get" that Jericho's sincere, Trish needs to begin (just begin) thawing, otherwise the skits will risk entering the realm of repetition and melodrama, where Jericho might risk coming off as a sucker for punishment and Trish might come off as kind of bitchy, neither of which is something we want.

There's a whole other issue with JR "getting it," but maybe I'll save that for tomorrow...  for now, the the Love Dyad delivered good forward progression tonight, and that's what matters.

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Chris Jericho vs. Kane

JR was hard on Jericho (he was WHAT on Jericho, Beavis?) the whole way, calling him an egotistical jack-ass (and also hard on Kane, hitting a classic line about this match being "like famine wrestling pestilence").  King was the Voice of the Fans, saying that it seems to him like Jericho might really have fallen for Trish after he and Christian started that bet.  King even says that Jericho's tepid outing here against Kane might be because he's in love and has had his heart broken.  Awww.  Crowd is... well, in so far as they are into this, they are behind Jericho.  But the Heidenreich match and the fact that this is, technically, still two heels fighting has them a bit down.  They perk up when Jericho actually rallies and goes for the Walls of Jericho...  but Kane powered out, and took the match to the outside, where the beating continued.  Jericho, sly bastard that he is, grabbed hold of a steel chair...  frustrated with how the match was going, Jericho got blatantly DQ'ed for using the chair on Kane as Kane tried to pull him back into the ring.  Maybe 4 minutes of action, and honestly, nothing even remotely memorable wrestling-wise.  I think you were supposed to be paying attention to the story as told by King and JR and how Jericho just didn't seem his normal self.  He was distracted and ineffective and had to get himself DQ'ed to get out of the match.  It was a good story to tell.

After the match: Kane didn't like getting whacked with a chair, so he started pounding down Jericho some more.  This went on for a minute or two, with a chokeslam, some blatant choking, and other evil tactics.  Finally, Kane decided enough was enough, and he left.  At which point, Good Buddy Christian finally had the scrotes to slink his way to ringside...  he proceeded to help Jericho to his feet.  And then shoved him back down, hard, and leaves with a smirk on his face.  You might argue that now they are even and that'll be the end of it... but somehow, I don't think so.

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It's All For a Good Cause: Maven and Victoria visited some troops at an Undisclosed Location in Florida earlier today.  OK, so it was disclosed.  I just don't remember.

Backstage:  Eric Bischoff has summoned Randy Orton, because it's time to talk strategy.  Bischoff still believes that Orton has all the tools it takes to eliminate Foley, no matter what stipulations Foley added or what the boys in the back are saying.... whoa, whoa, whoa...  Orton wants to know what the boys in the back are saying.  Bischoff is hesitant, but "because I'm your friend," he tells Orton that there is some resentment among The Boys.  That Orton has the look and the potential, but is getting too much too fast, and might not even have what it takes to go to the next level and be a top superstar.  Hmmm, somebody get Bischoff on the phone for me... I don't think that's the boys in the back, Eric.  That's the Boys at OO you're quoting.  Orton gets a little miffed at this accusation, and says that he's sick of hearing about how good he'll be some day, that he proved himself is at Armageddon, that he went toe-to-toe for 20 minutes with Rob Van Dam and came out on top, that the IC title on his shoulder says he's not about potential and he's not about some day, he's about RIGHT NOW.  Of course, he didn't say it nearly as eloquently or convincingly as I just did, which is why we're right and he's wrong, but that's neither here nor there....  tonight, Randy promises to prove he's not a great young up and comer: he's one of the greatest in the business today, and he will eliminate Mick Foley forever.  Bischoff likes the confidence.

Elsewhere Backstage:  Mick Foley runs the Babyface Gauntlet of Good Luck Wishes.  Hey, there's a mid-carder!  And another one!  And Tommy Dreamer, whoa, he's even lower on the food chain!  And there's the Dudleys, who after wishing Mick good luck, actually get some additional dialogue.  They ask Mick about the Tag Titles, since they got screwed at Armageddon.  Mick says not to worry, he'll deal with that after the match.  Because he'll still be GM!  Yeah!  And last but not least, Shawn Michaels tells Mick, "Good luck."  And Mick pauses to fire back, "Hey, to you, too."  Shawn is confused.  Mick tells him, "Good luck in the match I'm making right now for 2 weeks from now... you versus Triple H for the World Title!"  That's a bombshell!  Mick continues his walk towards the ring...

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Randy Orton vs. Mick Foley (IC Title, No Outside Interference, Bischoff or Foley Must Leave Forever Depending on Who Wins Match)

Orton enters first.  Foley second.  JR's playing up the "First time in almost four years" angle.  Foley and Orton circle each other.  "Foley" chants abound.  But Foley's not totally ready yet.  He bails out, and "fires himself up" with some Mankind-style self-inflicted bitch slaps.  OK, NOW Foley's in the right frame of mind, right?  But he just keeps circling around the ring, staring up at Orton.  JR now says this is all psychology and mind games.  That seems reasonable, since Orton is now getting really worked up and hyper in the ring: easy pickin's if Foley charged him.  Which Mick seems to be fixin' to do.  He's crouched on the entrance ramp, ready to sprint.  But no.  Mick turns around.  Walks up the ramp.  Leaves the arena?  Whaaaaaaa?  Orton is confused, too, and follows.

Backstage: cameras catch up to Foley, who enters his co-GM office, and comes out carrying his bags.  He makes for the parking lot.  Eric Bischoff intercepts him and wonders if Mick is really leaving... and tells Mick that if he walks out, the stipulation of the match is in effect, and Mick's gone forever.  Mick gives him a look, and then just keeps on walking.  He gets to the parking lot, when Randy Orton catches up to him.  Orton calls Foley a coward, and thinks Mick might be crying.  "Legends don't cry," insists Orton.  And he hocks a loogie right in Mick's face.  Mick dropped his bags.  Orton seemed ready in case Foley decided to brawl.  But Mick just wiped the spit off his face, lowered his head, and walked off into the parking lot.  RAW faded out on that image.  

The Final Analysis

So, OK: great five-man tag match, good work on the Jericho/Trish thing on the storyline front (especially with Jericho/Christian leaking in as a cursory issue to prevent Jericho/Trish from getting too cheesy and skit-driven), the Hardy vs. Booker/Maven tag match was OK, too, the Bischoff/Foley promo was riveting, twist-laden TV, and even if we're annoyed at the mis-use of Hardy/Booker or the presence of Heidenerich in a momentum-killing second-hour match, those two complaints would never have been enough to take the shine of this RAW.  It was going great.  But you probably don't care about that.

Because it was only going great until it hit the main event.  And then the shit hit the fan.

Many people are pissed as hell by that ending.  Many more are just confused.  But you know what: at the end of the night, every one of those people, pissed or confused, was left wondering, "What next?".

And for the first time in 3 weeks or so, I honestly think RAW knows the answer to "what's next."  No more shifting gears, losing Matt Hardy in the mix, going to Evolution-wins-all-four-belts out of left field, and the general chaos that dominated the last couple weeks.  They didn't do that ending with Mick without knowing what the next play is.

That you are upset that they didn't give you the next chapter on Monday is secondary to the fact that you'll be there with bells on in 2 weeks (or whenever) when they tell you the next part of the story.  It was unsatisfying, sure, that they promised us Orton/Foley, and didn't deliver.  I'm not lie to you, I let fly a mighty "Awww FUCK!" when the "Copyright 2003" graphic came up on the screen at 11:02pm last night.  But it didn't take long before my mind raced ahead to what's in store for 9:00pm sharp on December 29, either.
 
That part of the cliffhanger is almost delicious in its bitterness.

Can they explain Foley's actions in a way that makes the conclusion of the cliffhanger satisfying in exactly the way that last night's chapter was not?  I bet they've got something decent in store... I don't know it... but I know that you don't risk pissing off fans like that without knowing you've got something good for them down the road.  In this case, if I had to guess, I'd say that what the did last night was a well-plotted and carefully considered tactic to make Mick's eventual return to the ring more special, more important, and more "right-feeling" than it would have been if tossed out there with all of 90 minutes of notice on a random Monday night.

Further, if I can flex my "Obsessing Over Details Like a Good Little Smark" muscles: that exchange Foley had with Michaels mid-show will not end up being just a throw-away segment.  I think THAT is what Foley will say was going through his head when he decided to walk out.  Michaels all but told him "if you let this business get its claws back into you, you're back for good."  But fans know all about Foley's history, how he's beaten himself up to entertain, how he's got a great family he loves and wants to be there for...  is it not reasonable that Foley got out to that ring, and before feeling that first hit of bone on flesh that HBK talked about like it was a drug, realized he was perfectly happy giving it all up to save his body, to be with his family.  That, bottom line, he could not afford to let wrestling pull him back in and ruin the life he's made for himself.

Too subtle a story?  I don't know, maybe... but I likes it... and the best part is that when Foley explains himself, it sets up an obvious direction: heels taunting him for his cowardice.  Ramping up the audacious claims week after week, until finally, Foley HAS to respond.  When he does come back for a match (and, c'mon, it is happening), it won't just be a sudden thing tossed out on RAW.  It'll be a Big Fat Hairy Deal.  Foley isn't just coming back, he's practically putting his entire life on the line to defend his honor; he'll know the risk, but he'll do it anyway.  Or maybe it's still something that Mick Foley, the Man, the Husband, the Father STILL can't do...  requiring the return of one of the Other Faces of Foley to do it for him.  It'd almost have to be Cactus Jack.  Talk about a sweet counter-point to another fateful MSG night (one back in September of '97).  That's the kind of drama that I think will play really well going into WrestleMania 20, that you can make music videos of that will actually move weaker members of the audience to near-tears, that will MEAN SOMETHING.

Again, I'm not saying this is how it'll go down.  I merely offer it up as one possibility.  And with the possibility being out there, I realize that I'm willing to suffer through one night of dissatisfaction like Monday if it means something important, engrossing, and satisfying lies three months down the road.

So final word: RAW was good for about 1hr. 55m.  And I don't think many would disagree with me on that much.  And then, sure it went south a bit.  But the final 7 minutes were, upon reflection, not so bad that I'll shit on the entire show.  Maybe they left a bad taste, but it was a taste I've managed to rinse out with the mouthwash of Fantasy Booking.  And none of that nancy boy minty crap that everybody likes: a dose of the hard yellow stuff that (just like last night's finale) might seem tough to handle at first but will get the job done the best.

And hey, if I'm wrong, in two weeks, it's still the return of Austin and HHH vs. HBK, and there ain't much wrong with that.

More tomorrow in OO....

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 

 

 


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