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OO RAW RECAP
The Playa's Club is Open 
January 6, 2004

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

It need not even be mentioned that RAW would not have at its disposal, this week, the same sort of show-anchoring main event that they had last week, courtesy of Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H.  But therein lies the true challenge of compelling episodic television...

With little more than some barely-sensible "sheriff" gimmick and the promise of Mark Henry's Survivor Series Wish coming true, the Fed had to fashion a good show out of last night's RAW...  could they succeed?  Well, let's venture on together and find out.

Cold Open: We are in Bischoff's office (in retrospect, I'm assuming this was taped last week), and GM Eric and the Coach are exchanging some clunky dialogue about how awful it is that Steve Austin is back as the sheriff, essentially laying down the "Stone Cold Law" however he sees fit.  That's when Teddy Long and Mark Henry charge in...  they laid off last week, but this week, they demand satisfaction and they demand it now: Mark Henry's wish is to let Teddy Long be the RAW General Manager for the night.  Bischoff gets about 9 seconds into "What are you crazy? You'll have to deal with Stone Co...." before he realizes this might be an easy out for him.  He says, OK, the show is Teddy's, and he'll just be grabbing his bags and getting out of dodge.  For his part, Long doesn't sweat Austin on the grounds that he knows how to deal with the Law and he's got Johnny Cochrane on his speed dial.  B'lee dat.  Hey, more Teddy: this show ain't off to a bad start.

Opening theme/pyro/etc, and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcome us to a "Night of Champions" as both the Tag and Women's Titles will be defended (Evolution vs. Dudleys and Molly Holly vs. Victoria).  But no time to dally....

THE OPENING HOLLA, WITH YOUR INTERIM GM

Teddy Long comes to the ring (alone), and wastes no time playing the race card.  Actually, he played at least a set, maybe even four of a kind.  He was laying it on really thick en route to making fun of Memphis for thinking they were not racist just because they elected a black mayor.  Wrong, says Teddy.  The mayor of Memphis isn't black, he's just a pretender, cuz if he was really black, Memphis wouldn't be overridden with crime and drugs and hookers and space beetles and the earthbound outpost of the Dark Lord Satan himself.  Ah, you mess with Memphis, though, and you mess with Jerry Lawler, who grabs a mic and tries to get Teddy to shut up.  But Teddy won't.  So Jerry heads to the ring.  And just as Lawler is about to put his hands on Long, BAM, Randy Orton materializes out of nowhere to deliver an RKO on Lawler.  The legend of Memphis has been eliminated just like that.  Orton and Teddy sort of leave together while JR blusters about this travesty in the King's own hometown.

Backstage: once JR vamps long enough, trying mightily to convince us that anything from that first segment was really worth 90 seconds of replays, cameras are finally able to catch up with Orton and Teddy, now sauntering down a hallway.  They are buddy-buddy until they bump into Mark Henry, who asks his manager to give him an IC Title shot.  Orton protests, saying he just helped Long evade an ass-kicking.  But Teddy doesn't see it that way: Orton did what he did for himself, to add another legend to his list, not to help out a brotha.  So it's on later tonight: Henry vs. Orton for the IC belt!

Kubrick Segue: so now Long and Henry depart the scene together, leaving Orton a bit flustered, and a couple of yards down the hall, they run into Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Austin says he's gonna lay down the law tonight, and he doesn't much care for Long's IC Title match.  He thinks that RVD deserves his rightful rematch against Orton.  Long says, Sorry, playa, but the match is made.  So Austin compromises.  Tonight, it's Henry vs. RVD, and the winner of that gets a shot at Orton NEXT week.  Long doesn't like it, but Austin invites him to talk to the badge (he's actually wearing a toy badge), and reminds him that as the sheriff, he can open up cans of whoop-ass whenever he pleases.  So Long lets it slide.

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SportsCenter: with the King laid out backstage, the Coach comes on out to take his place on commentary.  He comes out with an LSU stadium chair for himself, and proceeds to make some mention of JR's Oklahoma Sooners losing the national championship game the night before to LSU once approximately every 37 seconds for the rest of the night.  This didn't even start out funny, and you can imagine how retarded it was as it spiraled out of control...  I don't think ESPN gave the Sugar Bowl this much coverage on Sunday night.

SPIKE DUDLEY vs. RENE DUPREE

Thanks to a video package, we are reminded of Spike's disgusting bump at the hands of La Resistance from 4 months ago (you remember, the one where his head clipped a table and we all thought he should be dead), and this is his comeback match on RAW, in an attempt to get revenge.  In show of anti-respect, Rob Conway makes a big show of leaving ringside so Dupree can dispatch LSD all by himself.  Big mistake.  I don't much remember the hows or the whys, because I was too busy with an internal dialogue that went along the lines of "My, Coach is stinking up the joint."  "Why, you're right, you know."  "Well, what do you expect, I'm a goddamned internet wrestling guru."  "True, but you're not above making mistakes sometimes.  Maybe this is Coach is really building on his heel persona and will get more heat because of this?"  And then I punched my inner self in the eyeball for being an idiot.  When I came to, Spike Dudley reversed his way out of a press slam to roll-up Dupree for the quick pinfall victory.  My DVR clock indicated about 4 mintues had elapsed.

After the Match: Bubba and D-Von came out to celebrate with Spike, and put him up on their shoulders...  but at that moment, who should attack but Batista and Ric Flair.  Spike went flying, and then the tag champs did a mini-beat down on Bubba and D-Von to soften them up before the tag title match later tonight.

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Backstage: Chris Jericho is loitering, when Christian walks up in contrite mode.  He says he's really sorry about last week, and they are too good a tag team and too good as friends to not get back on the same page.  Christian gives his Stamp of Approval to Jericho doing whatever he has to do with regards to Trish, and just hopes they can still be buds.  Jericho listens... and agrees.  He's sorry about the way things have been between them the past two weeks, too.  Christian says that's the answer he was hoping for, because he just came from Teddy Long, and he's got a tag match lined up if Jericho's interested.  Jericho says Hell yeah, he's in.  Immediately, my mind races to interesting storyline possibilities, all of them involving Christian setting up Jericho for a fall (Battle of the Sexes III leapt to mind).

Flashback:  Tony Schiavone made a very special cameo appearance to introduce a highlight package from last week's Greatest Match That He Had Ever Seen in the History of This Great Sport.  Oh wait, you mean that was JR?  Oh... well, never the less, they condensed the stellar 30 minute match and post-match story into a very watchable little 4 minute video.

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It Only Gets Worse:  Jerry Lawler has regained his senses, and has decided to rejoin the commentary team.  First he tries to eject Coach, but Teddy Long comes out and says No Way.  Lawler can go back to work, but only if he works and plays well with Coach, who is not giving up his job to any whitey.  If Lawler acts up and even looks at Coach cross-eyed, Lawler will be fired.  By gawd, not in his own hometown!  If you thought JR and Coach alone was obnoxious, just wait... to his credit, Coach seemed to realize late in the show that he might have gone overboard, and tried to turn it into a gimmick/joke that he was disrupting JR and King's usual chemistry, and SORT OF toned it down a bit in the main event.  But boy did commentary ever suck out loud for about 90% of this show.

VITAMIN C vs.......  HURRICANE AND ROSEY?

Well, forget that thing I said about any interesting storyline developments here.  Straight tag match here, with Jericho and Christian ostensibly playing the heels, although you got an odd vibe of silence from the crowd sometimes because I get the impression THEY have the impression that Jericho's supposed to be sort of like a babyface or something.  More distractingly pointless commentary kept me from really remembering what was going on... it was Hurricane playing the babyface in peril, leading to a lukewarm tag to Rosey, I remember that much.  But that didn't last long: Jericho and Christian managed to double-team their way to the advantage, and took out Hurricane.  Two-on-one against Rosey, they capitalized: Jericho rammed Rosey's head into the steel ringpost, and then flung him back, directly into an Unprettier by Christian for the pinfall win.  A fully serviceable little five minute wrestling match, but as anything even remotely resembling storyline advancement, this was a big fat pile of nothing... and I had definitely been expecting something.  Jericho and Christian should not have been in wheel-spinning mode this week...  unless all that unnecessary hugging between the Chrisses after the match is supposed to be foreshadowing the REAL reason why Christian was upset with Jericho going after Trish.

Sorry, that was a cheapshot.  But seriously, almost anything would have better than this nothing....

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The Corporately Sponsored Video Clip of the Night: for those of us who don't watch Heat, they have footage of Stevie Richards taking out Test the night before.  It was actually the second Heat in a row where Richards upset Test.  In this case, it was all thanks to Victoria, though...

STEVEN RICHARDS vs. TEST

On one hand, this is Heat-caliber stuff.  On the other, Stevie and Victoria are often so entertaining on Heat that they clearly deserve to be on Monday nights.  So I don't know which thing to bitch about.  Maybe I'll just tell you that, in this match, Test started off hot by punking out Richards and then chasing Victoria around in an attempt at revenge.  But Victoria eventually decided to stick around ringside.  The story here was mostly Test pounding away, pounding away, hope spot/near fall/roll-up for Richards, then more of Test pounding away.  This lasted for about 3 minutes, and then Test was finally ready for the knock out blow. As he set up for the big boot, Victoria got up on the apron; so Test tried to boot her.  But Victoria moved, and Test crotched himself on the top rope.  Richards managed to come up behind him and roll him up for the pinfall win.  Three in a row for Stevie!  

After the Match: as Stevie and Victoria celebrated, Test regained his bearings... and immediately attacked Victoria, flooring her with a big boot (to, distressingly, a bit of a babyface pop).  Richards went into crazy flailing guy mode, and it too no fewer than FOUR referees to pull him off of Test.  As we cut to an ad break, Richards got back in the ring to check on his Flower.

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PALATE CLEANSING MID-SHOW PROMO

Here comes the Sheriff, Steve Austin, to address his constituents.  He sort of explained how he'd be laying down the law in this new role, but didn't really say anything to make me think anything other than "Sheriff = Co-GM minus Physical Provocation Rule."  Which ties back into my general discontent with the lack of creativity surrounding Austin's return to TV.  But anyway...  after he briefly explained his role, Austin reiterated that his first act was to immediately sign a Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H World Title rematch, which will take place at the Royal Rumble.  He's fixing to continue when....

Triple H interrupts.  You'd think he'd come out to either (a) protest the rematch strenuously because that's what a chickenshit heel who BARELY escaped with his title the week before would do, or (b) boast even more strenuously that he doesn't care WHAT match Austin makes because he's the most awesomest wrestler ever and he'll win.  So of course, because focus and good sense often take a hike on RAW, HHH chooses to (c) do three minutes of alleged stand-up comedy with references so dated that they make Jerry Lawler look hip.  I mean, I know in my head that he was parodying Austin using sheriff references from "Dukes of Hazzard" and "Andy Griffith," but I'm not familiar enough with the source material to know if he was being anywhere near on target or funny with his jabs.  And pardon me if I don't take Coach's word for it (he was yammering ceaselessly on commentary here, often guffawing over what passed for HHH's punchlines).

Austin's finally heard enough, and threatens to take a "creamy crap" on HHH's nice shoes if he feels like, because he's the sheriff and he can do whatever he wants.  Which is just as silly as HHH's riffing.  But at least it signaled Time to Get Serious.  Austin says he'll do whatever he wants to make HHH's life a living hell, and that means signing this rematch because he honestly thinks HBK kicked HHH's ass last week.  HHH dissents, saying he did what a champion does: walked in with the title, and walked out with the title, and was getting ready to say he'll do it again at the Rumble when Michaels himself decided to walk on out.  Shawn took Austin's mic, and said he respects everything HHH has done, but if HHH really thinks he's the best wrestler alive today, then Shawn's gonna make him prove it one more time at the Rumble.  Austin takes his mic back and says, that's it, the match is on at the Royal Rumble.  Hit his music!

HBK and HHH stare each other down in the ring for 20 seconds when suddenly, Austin gets back on the mic: from the top of the stage he says he omitted one detail... the title match at the Rumble, it'll be a Last Man Standing Match.  HHH seemingly gets upset, and Michaels sees this, and smirks.  But as smirking Michaels turns away to play to the crowd, HHH yanks him back and delivers a Pedigree.  Man alive, this segment was, for me, two steps backward, one step forward.  How hard is it to get fans interested in a rematch of a **** RAW main event?  Not very, but WWE tried to make it look like brain surgery by getting WAY off the mark with the first half of this segment before making babysteps back in the right direction in the latter half (including the addition of the stip, which should mean HHH/HBK II should be even more intense and exciting than last week's match).

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MOLLY HOLLY vs.  ?????

Molly came out to defend her title.... but instead grabbed a mic and said that after Test's attack, Victoria was not cleared to compete tonight.  So, Molly opined, she should be made the winner by forfeit.  Before she can convince Lillian Garcia to go along with her scheme, Teddy Long appeared on the TitanTron, and I immediately assumed that he had Jazz all ready to go for an "impromptu" title match against Molly.  But no,  instead, he professed his love for "watching 2 white girls go at it" (but don't we all?) and sent out a suitable replacement...

MOLLY HOLLY vs. TRISH STRATUS (Non-Title Match)

Because of the short notice, we are told the title is not on the line here.  Okeydoke.  So now, I assumed Trish wins somehow to put herself back in the women's title mix, and I'd be wrong again.  Some nice work here, actually, working on the mat, and Trish throwing in a nice unexpected modification at one point (I thought she was going for the Stratusfaction bulldog, but instead she turned it into a kind of springboardy sunset flip pinfall combination).  Everything is building up to Trish gaining the advantage at about the  3 minute mark when, suddenly, Jazz appears out of nowhere.  She shoves Trish off the top rope for the instant DQ.  I guess Trish wins, but that issue becomes muddied quickly enough.  

After the Match: After briefly joining Molly for a double team beat down on Trish, Jazz start pounding on Molly, too, tossing her from the ring.  The announcers, in a rare moment of actually trying to tell a story about the product, manage to advance the theory that Teddy Long set Trish up for this attack on purpose.  Certainly, Jazz seems intent on eliminating Trish for good here.  She locks Trish in the STF eventually... but luckily, here comes Chris Jericho to make the save.  Jazz leaves, and Chris gingerly helps Trish back to her feet.  But as soon as Trish's head clears and she sees it's Jericho, she shoves him away, and stumbles back up the ramp on her own, muttering that she's "not that stupid."  [Sorry Trish, I think the world of you, but if you weren't that stupid, you'd be, you know, actually watching the show and seeing all of Jericho's on-screen antics, and would have come to the same conclusion as us: that it's about damned time for some kind of Forward Progress in this storyline.]

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WrestleMania Moment: Pete Rose uproariously rips into Boston fans, and then gets Tombstoned by Kane at WM14.  Dammit, for the past three years, it's not worth bringing Pete back for closure on his years-long feud with Kane, but now that he's in the news, we'll rehash his getting beat up?  For shame, WWE.  This was never about using Pete because it was convenient for mainstream appeal: it was about the much broader and more important societal issue of who should really be laying claim to the moniker of The Big Red Machine.

ROB VAN DAM vs. MARK HENRY (#1 IC Contender Match)

RVD tries to stick and move approach to start, trying to hack down Henry with quick kicks.  Though Mark's able to defuse this with a power move here and there, it's obviously starting to get on his nerves.  So, probably about 3 minutes into this match (in the middle of an RVD rally), Mark got himself a steel chair (on Teddy Long's suggestion) and whacked RVD with it as RVD jumped off the ropes at him.  The ref called for a DQ, immediately.  But not so fast, playa... Teddy Long grabs the mic and says this is now a No Disqualification Match, and that it must be restarted.  RVD is clearly in no condition to continue, but before Henry can capitalize with a cheap win, Steve Austin motors out to ringside on a camo four-wheeler.  He's in crazy drunk driving mode, and chases Teddy Long around the ring twice, and then chases him up the ramp and to the backstage area.  Long and Austin are gone, Mark is distracted by the vehicular chase, and RVD is still groggy from the chairshot.  In other words, a perfect spot for some....

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When we come back, RVD wastes no time regaining control by using his own chair-assisted offense.  He hits a series of moves, but after a few minutes, Henry sort of does a no-sell/hulk-up thing, where he just decides he's had enough of letting RVD have offense.  RVD chopped him back down, in time, however, and after probably a total of 10 minutes of action (including the break), hit a Van Daminator and then a Five Star Frog Splash to get the pinfall win and the IC Title match next week.  As good an outing as you'll see out of Henry; the chair stuff, the Austin/Long bit, and a red hot crowd for the second half probably meant this was the Match of the Night.  Not saying much, but still...

After the Match: Teddy Long came sprinting back out to the ring, with Austin in pursuit on his ATV.  Eventually, the chase ended with Long caught between RVD and Austin. He tried to escape through the ring, but that didn't work.  Austin cornered him, teased the Handshake of I'm Gonna Let You Go, but then, in Rattlesnake Fashion, hit Teddy Long with a Stunner.  Thanks for playing, Teddy.  In many ways, Long as Guest GM was the biggest highlight of this night. Funny when he could be, conniving when he had to be, and if absolutely nothing else, at least a different, non-Bischoff, foil for Austin to go up against.

[ads]

Backstage:  Chris Jericho is outside of Trish Stratus' dressing room, screwing up his courage.  Finally he knocks.  No answer.  He announces, "Hey, I'm coming in, so get decent."  Still no answer.  "Hey, really, I not trying to see you naked, I just want to talk to you, and I'm coming in, OK?".  Still no answer.  So, averting his eyes, Jericho lets himself in, and quickly discerns from some running water that Trish must be in the shower in an adjacent room.  Jericho again says he's not here for any cheap thrills and positions himself with his back to the shower region, as he begins an impassioned and seemingly-genuine plea.  He puts everything out on the table that's been pretty obvious if you've been paying attention: that this started out as a bet, but he really fell for Trish, and he really regrets he didn't come clean sooner, and he really wishes Trish would be a part of his life again, but if she can't do it, he'll understand, but he didn't want her to make that decision without him making one last effort to tell her how he really feels.  The water shuts off.  Jericho locks his eyes on the ground and hands a towel in, and then walks halfway across the room in what is a fairly obvious move to reposition the camera so we can all get a "big surprise" of some kind.  And sure enough, who should walk out of the shower but......  Mae Young?  Goddammit.  "I never knew you felt that way about me, Chris," says Mae, who proceeds to open up her towel to share her puppies with Chris (and the world).  I'm not sure what it was that I saw there, and pardon me if I don't feel particularly motivated to rewind the footage.  Finally, they get Mae's back to us, and over her shoulder, Jericho gives us Shock and Disgust and Panic, as he flails with a door handle before finally escaping.  Oy, with the laughs never start?  

The heavy orchestration of the skit made it obvious a surprise was coming, but somehow they picked one that serves ZERO purpose.  My first thought: they were positioning the camera so that Trish could bound out of the shower, naked, and smother Jericho with sweet, sweet loving because of his moving soliloquy.  And then I put my pants back on.  My second thought: Trish isn't here at all, but Lita is taking a shower and heard everything (do not ask why Lita would have been showering; if history has taught us anything, it's that the shower in any diva locker room MUST be in use during any camera visit, even if by a diva who exerted no physical effort that night), and would come out and give Chris a "You're actually serious, aren't you?" kind of thing, admit she was sold on him, and then say she'd try to talk to Trish about him as a way of finally getting her to soften and move this story forward.  My third thought (as I returned to the less plausible): that Christian would come out of the shower, followed closely by Trish, both in towels, and that Trish made out with Christian to get back at Jericho and now she hopes Christian enjoys his dollar and hopes that Jericho enjoys his broken heart and hopes they both just get lost forever and ever and ever amen (which could obviously jumpstart the Jericho/Christian thing, and which would not completely eliminate the chances of Jericho still being so into Trish that he'd forgive her for using the old Revenge Fuck Gambit).  Honestly, all these things (and probably a few other unformed fragmentary ideas) raced through my head as I half-listened to Jericho's mostly-predictable patter, a testament not only to the nimbleness of my wrestling mind but also to the fact that this freaking storyline has somehow still continued to make me care...  but at no point during all the mind racing did Mae Young's name leap into view. 

Anyhoo, remember that thing I said about almost anything being better than the big fat nothing we got in the advancement of the Jericho/Trish/Christian things?  Well, let's just say I was wrong.  There is no possible way to spin this Mae Young crap to make it a compelling or logical part of this story.  My guess, if they even bother to try to explain it, it'll be Trish saying she set it up on purpose to get back at Jericho, which makes absolutely no sense if you actually think about it.  Much, much less than Lita taking a shower, even.

Back to the Three Stooges: JR and King and Coach are at the commentary table talking about something.  Coach is attempting to be the Cocky Heel by leaning back in his stadium chair and putting his feet up on the desk.  And then, BOOM, Kane's pyro hits.  And Coach falls backward in an hilarious pratfall!  Ha!  Actually, I don't know, maybe that one actually was kind of funny.  It's just I couldn't tell any more after being bludgeoned about the head for 105 minutes with all the Suck coming out of my TV speakers.

KANE WANTS TO TALK

Anyway, the reason Kane is here is to talk about some recent events.  He goes back a year, to the Rumble of 2003, where he made the mistake of trusting someone.  His brother.  And then the Undertaker tossed him over the top and cost him a World Title shot at WM19.  A title shot that wound up going to Booker T.  Well, Kane's sick of being passed over, sick of trying to satisfy the "insects" in the audience, and he's taken matters into his own hands lately.  At Survivor Series, Kane took care of the Undertaker.  And last week, he took a measure of revenge on Booker T.  [Hey, that's CRAZY continuity, and I likes it!]  Next, Kane promises that he will go to the 2004 Royal Rumble, and win it, and then go on to WrestleMania XX to win the World Title, and there's not a man alive who can stop hi.....

Booker T's music cuts Kane off in mid-sentence (but that sentence, if you think about it, you magnificent smark geniuses that you are, is a positively DELICIOUS bit of foreshadowing)...  Booker charged Kane, and got the better of the big man, kicking him over the top rope.  Kane retreated, and Booker grabbed a mic.  He says nobody uses Booker T for a stepping stone, and that HE would go to the Rumble and win (tossing Kane's "ugly Uncle Fester looking ass" out in the process), and then go back to WM this year to win the World Title.  Now can we dig that?  This was an exceptionally productive little segment; they managed to break Booker out of the Mark Henry thing, finally, and also give Kane a little extra something to do for another two weeks until the Rumble, all while tying it into a storyline that actually has roots back a year ago.  Very clever.

Backstage: the Duds are nursing their injuries on the way to the ring for the main event.  Bubba quips that tonight, they will make it 18 (a reference to the number of WWF/E, ECW, and WCW tag title reigns they would have on their resume with a win tonight).

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RIC FLAIR/BATISTA vs. THE DUDLEY BOYZ (Tag Title Match)

Pretty formula here, with Bubba working the lions share for the challengers after getting caught in the ring after Flair caught him showboating instead of wrestling (Bubba tried to do a strut-type taunt, but Flair just said, "Enough," eye-gouged him, and it was all heels from there)...  Flair and Batista traded off for probably about 5 minutes or so till it was time to hot tag D-Von.  D-Von came in a house afire -- and just to underscore how unproductively insular the commentary was all night, instead of talking about the match, JR or King (I forget which) took this moment to mock Evolution cheerleader the Coach for ignoring the black man kicking all the ass in the ring after he'd spent the past two hours playing the race card whenever he could work it in (Coach's response only got them further off-track: he noted that D-Von's only half-black, because him and Bubba are half-brothers) -- and the Duds started hitting signature spots.  Batista powdered out after the Duds double-team neckbreaker, and then it was "Whassup" time for Flair.  Then the Duds set Ric up for 3-D...  but that's when HHH decided to show up.  He distracted the Duds first, and then got tied up with the ref.  Behind his back, Batista powerbomed D-Von, and then started brawling with Bubba.  HHH released the ref, who turned around in time to see Flair drape an arm over D-Von to get the pinfall win.  Maybe 8-9 minutes, and decent at best.  It stuck to the formula, and was well-worked within that framework.  Just no real sizzle (which RVD/Henry had if for no other reason than Austin and Teddy's involvement).

After the match:  HHH got in the ring to celebrate with the tag champs...  but Shawn Michaels ran out to spoil things.  He was in and out like lightning, hitting HHH with a superkick to KO the champ.  JR's theory: that on this night, that means Shawn Michaels is the Last Man Standing. And we're out.

FINAL ANALYSIS

Do I HAVE to say more?  I mean, this was quite obviously not a show that had anything so good that I want to shine the spotlight on it with rambling praise.  But there wasn't quite enough of the deplorably awful that would have made this show one that was interesting to make fun of at length, either (like the JR getting set on fire one was).

On the good side, I think Kane/Booker comes out a winner, tonight, and by extension, they have kind of put a bit of oomph behind the RAW half of the Rumble match (as SD! has with the Benoit storyline).  Their segment was well conceived and well-executed, and was just about the night's only case of an existing issue being advanced in a compelling way.

I also hope Teddy Long opened some eyes, and that they find more useful things for him to do in the future based on his performance here.  Just as Mick Foley was for a couple weeks, there, Teddy was a breath of fresh air in the essentially stagnant Power Structure War that exists between Austin and Bischoff.

On the bad side?  Well, there's the announcing.  I'm not dumb, I understand that Coach was not out there to be a standard Color Commentator.  He was out there to be a character so that he could get heel heat in future endeavors.  Or at least, I have to assume that's what it was.  Problem is, performances like this one are the type that lead to the fabled "X-Pac Heat" (the type of heat where an audience does not want to tune in to see the heel besmirched, but rather wants to tune out to avoid seeing/hearing the heel at all).  Seriously: as eye-openingly good as Coach has been in backstage skits and stuff, he just is not equipped to go out there for two hours and be anything but a drag on the show.  He can't be a pure commentator without limiting his character, and he can't be a character for 2 hours without making a show virtually unlistenable.  In time, as circumstances allow, I really do think he'll reconcile those two sides and might be a very good commentator.  That time is not now.  If there's any brightside to the commentary last night, it's that they didn't exactly ruin a good show or anything; it'd still have been a lacking effort even if the commentary was spot-on.

The Rumble is also shaping up as the first joint PPV in over a year (probably since Armageddon 2002) where I'm looking more forward to a RAW brand World Title match thant he SD! brand WWE Title match...  but RAW sure seems to be keen on making it a close call.  There was no reason I could discern for HHH to cut the comic promo he did on Austin, it came out of left field and just sort of existed off in its little world before they decided to get serious.  But if 3 minutes of comedy is what they wanted there, they should have at least come up with jokes that people under 35 (or more pointedly, in the sacred 18-34 demo) would fully comprehend.  The addition of the Last Man Standing stip and the two exchanges of finishers between HBK and HHH put them back on track by the end of the show, but seriously, having to claw to get fans anticipation levels back to what they were last week instead of doing things right and building on that anticipation is not where they need to be.

The IC and tag title pictures just seem kind of muddy or stagnant.  It seems like Orton/RVD and Evolution/Duds are the two go-to feuds there, but with one being burned tonight and another next week, I don't see these being the PPV matches at the Rumble.  Well, Evolution/Duds you can probably do again by then, and play up the screwjob from tonight as a motivation for some kind of stip (off the top of my head, Austin ordering a Tables Match is what makes most sense).  Then Orton/RVD (and Mark Henry, presumably) can do some schmozzy thing next week and all go into the Rumble match itself, since Orton's apparently just biding time until it's time for the next chapter in the Foley Saga.

So figuring the World Title and Tag Title matches (and assuming 3 brand-specific matches each to go with the 60 minute Rumble), that still leaves one slot open for RAW to fill.  It's a slot I'd assumed would go to Chris Jericho vs. Christian...  but after tonight, that's a storyline that is (at best) in a holding pattern past the Rumble (and at worst, taking steps backwards at a key juncture).  It's tied integrally to the Jericho/Trish story, which with the introduction of Mae Young actually did provide one of those mock-worthy "goddammit" moments tonight.  It's a feud/match that should either establish Jericho as a face, once and for all, worthy of the hand of Trish Stratus... or is the feud/match that reveals the ugly truth once and for all, that Jericho and Christian are STILL in cahoots and that Jericho's a bigger jerk than ever.  In either case, I'd assumed (with the lack of another RAW PPV before WMXX), it was a match that should go down at the Rumble.  That way, you pick whichever direction you want to go with Jericho, and then have 2 months to build on it: if he's getting the big babyface push, then you might even do a deal where (with Goldberg's future uncertain and Michaels' title shots used up) Jericho goes up against HHH for the belt.  Or if he screws Trish over and becomes super-duper-mega heel, there would be time for him to build on that, possibly leading to a title shot against new World Champ Shawn Michaels by WMXX.  But at this present rate, Jericho won't be positioned for anything of worth at WMXX.  Hell, at this rate, we might have endure week after tortuous week of nothing happening, and at WMXX, they'll finally be ready to give us Jericho vs. Christian with Trish as the Special Ref or something.  Which I really don't have the stomach for.

Step down for RAW this week.  There's still 2 more hours of TV to go before the Rumble PPV, though...  let's cross our fingers.

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
 
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 

 

 


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