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The paRAWdox Deepens! 
June 22, 2004

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


What a confounding two hours of TV for a guy who likes to find a single over-riding tone/thesis and stick with it throughout a recap...  as I type up these prefatory comments after having done the meat and potatoes already, I realize this might be the recap I'm least happy with in a long while.

I mean, just when I get excited and into Sharing The Enthusiasm Mode, RAW flips a switch and has the Rock wasting minutes of our time by joking around with his friends.  Just when I think maybe all this Diva Search crap will send me into Snarky Cynical Asshole Mode, they turn around and give me dead-on perfect backstage vignettes with HHH/Eugene or Bischoff/Regal.  And then undo that with more soul-crushing badness as it relates to Pregnant Lita.  And then undo THAT with a finish to the show which genuinely intrigues me as to what's next for HHH, Benoit, and Eugene.

How is a man supposed to find a groove for running jokes and insightful analysis on show that was this all-over-the-place?  Well, I tried folks, I tried... here's what happened last night on RAW:

Video Package Open: HHH thought the elimination of Shawn Michaels made him the #1 Contender to the World Title, but Eric Bischoff insisted on putting Eugene in the mix.  So last week, HHH toyed with Eugene's fragile little mind and made him think HHH was his friend, by way of setting him up to be humiliated in a #1 Contender match the next week.  And by next week, we now mean TONIGHT~!

Opening theme/pyro/etc., and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcome us to Miami, FL, where in addition to HHH/Eugene, we've got a big tag team match (Jericho/Edge vs. Orton/Batista) and an update on Shawn Michaels.  But first, let's kick it all off with a big surprise....

The Rock's Friar's Club Roast of 
Whoever The Hell Gets In His Way

The Rock's music hits, the crowd goes nuts, and JR/King claim that they had no idea Rocky was gonna be here tonight, and Only On RAW, folks, Only On RAW.  And I'm digging it.  Out of the gate, Rock says FINALLY, he's come... HOME.  Big pop.  Sends a shout out to all his family at ringside, including a very special Strudel Moment for his wife, who was assured the lovin' would come after the show.  Then he wastes more than a minute of our time by talking to a few Miami Dolphins also seating at ringside.  Even the live crowd, who one would presume would be partial to such localized banter, seemed less than interested as Rock made jokes about the Dolphins' apparent cheapskate tendencies and inability to play defense, and then undid all that with a sort of blatantly kiss-ass "But I'm sure you'll win the Super Bowl this year" closing.

Finally, Rock gets to the point, which is to tell us that the Dolphins aren't the only friends Rocky's here to see.  At this, the crowd perks up with a "Eugene" chant.  And Rock says, yep, sure enough, he's here to watch Eugene vs. HHH, and before that match happens, he'd really like to talk to Eugene and try to set him straight about who his real friends are.  So he calls Eugene out to the ring.

And instead, he gets Randy Orton.  Young Randall is attired in a fine suit, and hops in the ring to inform The Rock that Eugene's not even at the building yet.  You see, he's been out spending the day with Evolution, and he'll arrive with HHH later on tonight.  So Orton hopes that Rock doesn't mind him coming out here to talk, since he and Rocky have never really had a chance to meet.  I mean, Orton remembers beating Rock and Foley at WrestleMania and all ("Asshole, Asshole"), but they've never really TALKED.  And Orton has something very important to say to Rocky: Rock is old news, and there's a new Third Generation Superstar making headlines, and this one is younger, hipper, and (pause for dramatic effect) better looking, and his name is Randy Orton.

APOLOGETIC INTERLUDE: We here at OO would like to pause to give credit where it is due.  Young Randall Orton is often a whipping boy round these parts, but his good judgment and discretion during this portion of the opening promo was very much appreciated.  THANK YOU and KUDOS to Randy for putting three completely pointless non sequiturs on his list of Superior Attributes, and not even attempting to include "more physically gifted" or "more charismatically talented" on said list.  The honesty was refreshing.

Rock has finally heard enough from Orton, and says, sure Randy's a 3rd Generation superstar, and he remembers Randy's daddy, Cowboy Bob Orton.  Thus begins an anecdote in which young Rocky met Cowboy Bob and his young son Randy at a wrestling show way back when.  There was something about a gerbil and a My Pretty Pony, which pretty much felt to me like last time when Rock tried to force "popcorn fart" upon us: something that somebody thought sounded funny on paper, but which wasn't adequately tested.  MUCH, much funnier was the part about how after Rocky got down teasing Childe Randall about the My Pretty Pony, Randy when off crying through the locker room, eventually running head first into King Kong Bundy's ballsac.  Now THAT is a mental image that's good for bona fide belly laughs!  Rock then regaled us further by going back in time and telling us how his daddy defiled Randy's daddy, and his granddaddy embarrassed Randy's granddaddy, and allegedly, his mom and grandma did the same to Orton's mom and granny.  Okeydoke.  And now, says Rocky, it's time for Generation the Third to continue the fight, and for the Rock to kick Randy's candy-ass all over Miami.

But Randy says he's not dressed to fight, he's still in his suit, he's not stretched out.  So maybe another time.  Rock seems to take this under advisement, and was making all like "OK, fair enough, I guess it won't be today."  But then he said, "Cuz it'll be TONIGHT" and dropped the mic and pounced on Randy.  About 30 seconds of brawling, and Orton went flying over the top rope.  Before Rock could continue the assault, however, Eric Bischoff and security came out to put a stop to things.

Bischoff said it was OK if Rock wanted to come out and be a part of the show, but NOT OK if Rock wanted to put the RAW superstars in harm's way.  So as punishment for his attack on Orton and to assure that the Rock doesn't ruin his planned HHH/Eugene main event, Bischoff order Rocky ejected from the building under threat of arrest.  Rock doesn't want to get arrested in his own home town, so he grudgingly leaves the ring.  But he takes a mic with him, and uses it to roast whoever he comes across on his way out.

First, it's mocking the security guards for missing Snow White and the rest of the Dwarves as he heads up the ramp.  Then it's a pause to tell Bischoff, "You're kicking the Rock off TV?  No wonder WCW went out of business."  Then he spots Trish Stratus immediately backstage, and warns her to keep her eyes of the People's Package; then he spots Tyson Tomko and warns him of the same thing, assuring him that his show "Queer Eye" is very entertaining (HA! So I'm not the only one!).  Next on Rock's Path of Rage: Molly Holly, who gets the Rock's cheesy "yer lookin' fine tonight, mama" act before getting the Rock's "accidental" un-wigging that probably would have been funnier 3 months ago before Molly starting looking just fine even without the wig.  Then it's an interlude with Hurricane and Rosey that ended with the presentation of a donut to the SHIT.  Then Rock spotted Jonathan Coachman, and commenced to try to put Coach at ease: the two are cool, and the Rock knows that Coach is gonna have fun tonight after the show, right?  Rock says something about the quality of Miami's pie, and puts his hand up for the high five: but then just as Coach decides he and Rock are friends, Rock walks away and leave Coach hanging.  Just as Rock arrives at his SUV, he turns to the camera and says everybody should stay tuned later on tonight, because Rock's totally confident that Eugene will whip HHH's ass.

In an awkward cut, we go back to Randy Orton in the ring, who takes back a mic, and starts shouting about how security needs to just shut the Rock up and get him out of the building.  Rock can apparently hear Randy's ranting, because he says that maybe he didn't get to kick Randy's ass tonight, but if Orton waits just three seconds, he'll feel something the likes of which he's never felt before.  Rock counts it down, and we cut to the ring, where Edge is standing behind Orton, and lines him up for a big-ass Spear.  Edge celebrates to his music, while we cut back to Rock getting into his SUV and peeling out.  Jerry Lawler, in one of those moments that just baffles me with his lack of attention span, says he just knows that Rock is heading out to enjoy some Miami Pie.  Because Lawler hears something that sounds like it might be a double-entendre, and it immediately takes precedence over the fact that NOT 15 MINUTES AGO, the Rock was making eyes with HIS WIFE.

But that's a small thing.  An annoying thing, but a small one.  More than anything, this just didn't feel like one of the Rock's better "set pieces."  It felt like there would have been about a hundred better, more climactic ways to use Rocky, instead of just carting him out for a throw-away "ejection angle" to start the show.  I appreciate that maybe they didn't want to do anything that would have too-deeply involved Rock in storylines (like being directly involved in the main event), but still...  chatting up Dolphins and then that kinda-contrived-feeling walk to the back (and even more contrived tag with Orton and Edge, which just made not a lick of sense)?  I'll say plus 7 out of 10 just for the surprise of Rock showing up, and I get a feeling maybe we should take on an extra plus 2 for the very embryonic starting stages of a Rock/Orton feud... but minus a good 3 or 4 for sometimes-dubious execution, which including a feeling that this was probably bloated and overlong at 20-plus minutes considering the material.  Still a "big" feeling opening segment, and as always I appreciate the sizzle, but one that also left me feeling like it wasn't as carefully considered and executed as it could have been: you only get the Rock so many times per year, shouldn't you always have A-material for him?


Backstage: Chris Benoit wants to talk about Eric Bischoff.  Benoit says that there's no reason to involve Eugene in the World Title picture.  If HHH wants a title shot, Benoit will give it to him, no problem.  Just don't hang Eugene out to dry.  But Bischoff says it's none of Benoit's business, and warns him to just take his night off and go home and not butt in on the main event.  Or else.  Benoit, "Or else?".  Bischoff, "Or else." Benoit, "Oh, really?".  Bischoff, "Yeah."  Benoit, "You sure?".  Bischoff, "GODDAMMIT, YES, now just leave already!".  I swear, Benoit must have done about 3 or 4 false starts, then coming back to give Bischoff the skunk eye, before he finally left.  What the hell was up with that?

Trish Stratus vs. Victoria (Women's Title Match)

Trish Stratus is accompanied by her valet, the Lovely Miss Tomko.  Victoria is accompanied by a very welcome bit of logic and good sense (as JR reminds us how Victoria was never pinned to lose her title at the PPV, and thus gets this match).  Victoria's out fast, hitting a few moves, and getting a near-fall after the shimmy-shake standing moonsault.  But then Trish bails to the outside, where Tomko's presence gives her a chance to regroup.  And then Trish is in command for a few minutes.  That changes when she attempts the Old School Heel Tactic of stealing her opponent's trademark move:  Trish shakes the rump, and is getting set to hit the shimmy-shake moonsault, when Victoria instead rolls her up to start a rally. [Note: I appreciate the idea, but stealing a "trademark spot" really only works best when said trademark spot is actually over with the audience.  Otherwise, it just seems kind of desperate.  Also, what about Trish's ass are we supposed to boo, exactly?]  Victoria revs up, and after a bit NAILS Trish in the face with a back kick.  Cue my Trish Sympathy, cuz DAMN, that looked sick.  But I guess she's OK, because she's also repositioning herself every so subtly: and Victoria heads up top and hits a moonsault (and again, cue the sympathy because she hits it mostly with her knees in Trish's stomach, which can't feel good).  Luckily, Tomko's there to break up the pinfall by yanking Trish out of the ring.  When Victoria went over to haul Trish back in, Trish took advantage of her position to roll Victoria up near the ropes, and then grabbed the second rope for extra leverage, and got the cheap pinfall win.  Not a bad little match, maybe 4-5 minutes.

After the match: Trish bosses the Lovely Miss Tomko around, and the two are apparently going to continue the beat-down... except that a... well, let's call it A Person makes the save by throwing it's high heeled shoes into the ring in indignation.  In the confusion, Trish and Tomko let Victoria escape, and Victoria just kind of glances at The Person in confusion.  We never get a good camera shot, but even though JR and King are selling it like it's a woman, that cain't be no woman.  If this is Stevie Richards in drag trying to get back with Victoria, this is a Good Thing.  If this is anything to do with the Diva Search, it is not.

Speaking of Which: the first of multiple 2-3 minute Diva Search in Chicago packages.  I'll just say my entire piece right here, instead of portioning it out over all four of the segments... first of all, I hope I'm not the only one who felt almost uncomfortable watching Coach going through a line of good looking girls and smugly saying, "You're not hot enough to be WWE diva material."  Then again, I've never watching American Idol or The Apprentice at length, and I guess maybe the thing that makes those shows popular is people tuning in to see other people humiliated?  What'd be so wrong about just announcing, "OK, numbers 4, 16, 21, 34, and 85, you're all continuing on" and letting the rest slink quietly away with the Personal Insult from the Coach?  Oh, that's right: that wouldn't make for good TV. We must crush souls and dash dreams in the name of Entertaining America!  Mostly, I just quote myself from last month: "This is just HotOrNot.com turned into a TV show, which is kinda dumb, if you ask me; Hot or Not is fun for about 10 minutes once in everybody's life, but beyond that, it seems mostly mean and stupid to be going through and saying 'Do her, 9.  Do her, 8. God, what a hose beast, 2. Not with Lund's wang, 3. Do her, 8.  Shitty picture, can't really tell, 6. Do her, 9.  I bet she works at the DMV, 1'. And so on and so forth."  I'm feeling like I was more right than I know, and I'm already not looking at all forward to how ever many more months of mean, stupid, and mostly TIME WASTINGLY POINTLESS TV.  Also: was I hearing things or was one of those girls the 2004 Playmate of the Year?  I mean, maybe she wouldn't be MY own personal favorite, but that's only because I have Good Taste that extends past the airbrush artist's talents.... or maybe she would, I don't know, I'll have to conduct some research and let you know.  But you honestly expect me to believe WWE would dare to turn down the chance of pimping out Playboy's Designated Hottest Woman On Earth in a year's worth of magazine shoots and DVDs?  They don't care about picking the best girl, they care about getting a return on investment.  And Playmates Equal Dollar Signs. Why bother running the contest?  Enough about this crap....


Shawn Michaels Update: a complete video package of what happened in Dayton last week, and then a bit of a sit-down with King and JR, where they tell us Michaels has been released from the hospital and is resting at home, where he will stay for "a very long time."  The diagnosis: hey, I was right, a Steamboat-esque Crushed Larynx, but also, JR ominously noted, many other unnamed injuries more serious than we'd previously thought.  

Backstage: William Regal is livid at Eric Bischoff, trying to use logic to make Eric back off of what he's going to do to Eugene later tonight (he's turned into a big star, and why doesn't Eric want to keep him around and use him to get ratings and sell tickets?).  But Eric says this isn't about business, this is about Eugene being an embarrassment to his family, and the only way to be rid of him is to get him to quit of his own accord.  Regal calls Bischoff a bunch of naughty British colloquialisms, says he knows he himself is a miserable scoundrel, but at least he admits to it and goes after people to their faces.  Regal says he "loves that boy" and can't believe Bischoff would scheme so underhandedly to do this to his own nephew.  Bischoff realizes he might have another fly in the ointment here, so he decides to tell Regal that effective immediately, Regal is relieved of all his managerial duties for Eugene.  Regal seems upset.  And in return for all of Regal's hard work the past 2 months, Bischoff is going to reinstate Regal to the active roster.  Regal suddenly seems significatly less upset.  And then the capper: Bischoff says Regal doesn't even have time to change out of his suit because, "William Regal, your next match... is NEXT."  What a singularly eloquent man!  I'm just glad Bischoff wasn't the one put in charge of quoting "Sympathy for the Devil" lyrics a few weeks back...  "Please allow myself to introduce myself" just doesn't have the same ring....


William Regal vs. Don't Even Pretend It's Gonna Be 
Anyone Other Than Kane

Regal was standing in the ring, waiting for his opponent when we came back from break... and I hope absolutely no one was shocked when it turned out to be Kane.  Regal meets him before Kane can even get in the ring, and I'm pretty sure the match never started, officially.  Regal gets in a few brawling punches, but Kane puts an end to that, and finishes Regal off with a sling-shot off the ring ropes into a big boot (nice spot).  Regal is KO'ed after less than a minute of brawling, and Kane leaves with a smirk on his face.  No contest, I'm assuming.


Backstage: Kane is in Eric Bischoff's office, asking if that's what Bischoff had in mind.  Bischoff says that's EXACTLY what he wanted for William Regal, and thanks Kane for being such a professional.  In fact, Bischoff wants to reward Kane's professionalism... because tonight's #1 Contender match is for a title shot at the PPV.  But maybe Chris Benoit won't be the champion at the PPV... Bischoff tells Kane he'll get his rematch with Benoit next week here on RAW!  Kane likes it.  Bischoff tells him to go home and start getting ready for his title shot.  But no, Kane's not ready to leave: in a scrotum-retractingly spirit-crushing tag line, Kane tells us that he's not done tonight.  We ain't seen nothing yet.  Oh good lord.

Another Diva Search Segment: now I know how you people felt with the Joe Schmo thing last week.  I know times four, actually.  I'm already making a mental note to change my Time Shift Start Time for RAW back to 9:45 eastern every week.  That way I get an extra 15 minutes of FF time to make sure I can skip this nonsense in the future.

Chris Jericho/Edge vs. Randy Orton/Batista

To start, they play up Edge's attack on Orton earlier by having Orton be all "OK, you and me Edge" before the bell... but then as soon as the bell rings, Orton tags in Batista.  Back and forth for a minute, but then Batista gains control, and Orton feels safe enough to tag in.  It's sort of a time-compressed quasi-Ricky Morton act, and at the 3 minute mark, Edge makes the hot-ish tag to Jericho.  He's a house afire, mowing down both Evolution members.  Just as we seem ready to settle back into one-on-one action, it looked like Edge blind-tagged himself in, and now we're up to four-way brawling.  Jericho sends Batista over the top; Edge does the same to Orton.  Jericho and Edge do a double team sliding dropkick move on Orton, but when Jericho turns back around, Batista has recovered and Y2J eats a "clothesline" (that looked more like a clubbing forearm to the face, actually).  Though it did initially look like kind of a stiff, cringe-worthy shot, I'd be willing to bet a body part that it was all part of the intended storyline of the match when the ref immediately dropped down and started calling for medical attention.  Batista backed off as they played up a "shoot injury," but JR told us that we'd continue this match right after a break, so like I said, it kinda all felt like part of the match to me....


We're back, and Edge is getting dominated by Randy Orton and his Third Generation Chinlock of Doom.  We're told the ref gave Edge the option of continuing on his own, and Edge accepted (Lawler called Edge every synonym for stupid for agreeing to do so).  Edge made a mini comeback, but Evolution tagged and took over again.  This repeated once or twice more, driving home the idea that Edge was alone and overmatched against two men.  Finally, they did a spot where Edge's mini-comeback on Batista landed both men down.  Ref does the 10-count, Batista is up first and gets the tag in to Orton, but Edge is recovered, too, and winds up hitting a few major hope spots (even one or two near falls).  Ref has apparently decided to give up, and it's all three men brawling the rest of the way: finish is Edge (on the second try) getting Batista to go out over the top rope in a sloppy spot, then lining Orton up for a Spear.  Nails it.  But Batista has recovered, breaks up the pin (with a stiff shot to the face that bloodied Edge), and hits Edge with a powerbomb.  NOW the ref decides to enforce the rules, and gets Batista back out to the apron.  Orton recovers, sees Edge down, and decides to add insult to injury by picking up Edge's limp carcass and hitting an extraneous RKO.  Pin, win for Evolution.  

Not a bad little 15 minute match, actually: they certainly stayed away from expected tag formulas, what with the mid-match write-out of Jericho and all, and I think they left the door open for any number of interesting follow-up options not only for Jericho/Edge vs. Evolution, but possibly also for Jericho vs. Edge (if they want to play up Edge thinking Jericho abandoned him, for instance).

Diva Search 3, the Search for Plot: more crap. Next.

Self-Congratulatory Theater: a "SmackDown! Your Vote" video package about how WWE registered new voters and got George Bush and John Kerry to fill out some questionnaires or something.  What did I get out of this piece?  The bone-chilling realization that this is last time I'll see a presidential election in which I'm part of WWE's prized "18 to 30" demographic.  But on the upside, I'm a big fat nothing for the 2008 election, but in 2012, I'll be old enough to actually legally RUN FOR PRESIDENT if I want, so that's something, right?


Backstage: in the counterpoint to last week's crap, Stacy finds Matt and is all happy for him being a daddy.  And Matt asks if she can keep a secret (I don't even care, anymore), because he's gonna ask Lita to marry him later tonight.  Stacy is exuberant, and I know how these pricks work, and I know they put in another "keep it secret" vignette this week just to shove it in the faces of internet jack-offs who act like they know everything.  Well guess what?  I'm so sure I'm right that this whole storyline sucks that I think I'm just gonna quit giving you the satisfaction of explaining why.  Do your worst, Creative Team, do your worst.

SmackDown! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.

Parking Lot: a limo arrives, and out steps Eugene, Triple H, and Ric Flair.  Eugene is clearly giddy after a day spent with his favorite wrestler.  He declares himself a "jet flying, limousine riding, kiss stealing, wheeling, dealing son of a gun" as Flair and HHH look on patronizingly.  HHH says it gets even better because tonight, he wants Eugene to get ready in the Evolution dressing room.  Yay!  Eugene is excited and goes to get situated.  The camera lingers, however, and HHH confides to Flair that "This is going to be the most fun I've had in my entire life."  Which I'm sure is meant to make HHH seem evil, but mostly struck me as ridiculous hyperbole.



Matt Hardy comes to the ring.  Says something about Father's Day and how this year it meant something special to him since he found out last week he's gonna be a daddy.  And he's so happy about the news, he just wants to say something to his child's mother, so won't Lita please come out to the ring right now?  

Of course she will.  Lita's all smiles and demurely-nervous as Matt tells her how much he loves her... and he drops to a knee...  busts out a ring... and asks her to marry him.  But before Lita can answer, oh, you know it's coming....

"LEEEEEE-TAH..... LEEEEEEEEEEEE-TAH."  Kane is on the TitanTron, and wonders if maybe there's something she should tell Matt.  Lita is now back to wimpy whatever-you-call-that mode, and Matt's just confused.  Since Lita can't speak, Kane spellls it out: Lita's baby isn't Matt's.  It's Kane's.  Whheeeeeee!  I guess if Kane's already gonna violate all manner of local and state laws by forcing Lita to have sex with him, why the hell bother with wearing a jimmie, right?  Feel the crowd rebel with grumbling and "slut" chants for Lita!  Feel me repressing the urge to say "I told you so" in favor of just lowering my head in shame.
Matt goes ballistic, accusing Kane's pants of being on fire, and telling him if he wants to screw with the happy couple, he should come on down and do it to Matt's face.  But Kane just says he's telling the truth, and Matt should ask Lita.  The announcers go mute at this juncture for the rest of the segment, allowing the (tee hee!) "gravity" of the moment tell the story.  Matt turns to Lita, who is sort of crying or something... but when she lowers her head, Matt realizes Kane was telling the truth, and he finally gets to bust out some Alleged Acting of his own.  Actually, you know what?  Maybe that's good acting, maybe that's how somebody would really react if they found out that their girlfriend slept with some hideous burn-victim as some form of sexual payola to keep... um, what was the payola for again?  That part never made much sense.  My point is: maybe it is good acting for the situation.  But the situation SUCKS MY BIG HAIRY NUTSACK.  They're trying to tell a story that nobody in the audience wants to hear.  Evidence: instead of giving two shits about the "drama," fans decided this was a good excuse to call Lita a slut.  End of story.  I win, you lose.

Or actually: you lose, and me and every other fan who has to watch this bullshit loses even worse.


Backstage: Matt is leaving the building in a huff, Lita is chasing after him, trying to explain she let Kane have his way with her to save Matt.  And also: it could still be Matt's baby, too.  Matt doesn't care, and leaves.  Lita drops to her knees and weeps some more.  Quick: somebody find me ONE PERSON IN THE WORLD who is sympathetic to Lita, here, and report back immediately.  Any guy worth his salt would rather take his lumps like a man than let his girl prostitute herself to another dude; I think most girls would look at Lita and think her cataclysmically stupid and wimpy for not at least TRYING to find some other way out of her predicament besides spreading her legs.  At the very least, how about this one ladies: "Why didn't the dumb bitch just guzzle about three bottles of the morning-after pill and try to put it all behind her and never force her beloved Matt or the fans to endure this nonsense on TV"?  What a bafflingly ill-conceived plot....

Diva Search 4, the Raging Climax: surprise, surprise, the girl I think they said was the Playmate made it to the next round!  Score one for the Me!  I'm ever so smart!

Backstage:  Eugene is doing his squat thrusts [mheh heh heh heh,  "squat thrusts"] in the Evolution locker room, when all the boys come in and say howdy.  As a capper, HHH reminds Eugene that they are friends, and friends don't hurt friends.  So Eugene should take it easy, since HHH still hurts after Hell in the Cell.  Eugene agrees.  And then in walks Eric Bischoff: but HHH immediately cuts him off at the pass, shouting at him about how Bischoff is a miserable human being for wanting HHH to beat the hell out of Eugene, and HHH won't do it because Eugene is his friend.  Eugene's watching all this, and believing it.  Finally, HHH turns back to Eugene and tells him to get start heading to the ring, because he wants to finish giving Uncle Eric a piece of his mind in private.  Of course, as soon as Eugene's gone, Bischoff and Evolution all bust into laughter and congratulate themselves for pulling the wool over Eugene's eyes.  HHH promises to finish Eugene once and for all later tonight.


Eugene vs. Triple H

From the get-go, it's all Mutual Respect and Feeling Out and basically Boring Spots That Used To Work in the 80s That Eugene Makes Work Again.  We're talking all the old school tricks, even a test of strength and the Greco-Roman Knucklelock and all.  And because of Eugene's unique hook, it all goes over monster-style with the fans.  The story of the opening three minutes: Eugene possesses uncanny power, and also enough grappling ability to go move-for-move with HHH.  When the bust out the mat wrestling, Eugene finally reverses his way into a back suplex, and HHH (equally shocked at being outwrestled as he was injured) rolled to the outside to regroup with Ric Flair.  A perfect spot for some....


Back, and Eugene is still in control, this time, with arm related offense that is EXACTLY targeting the very injured shoulder that HHH asked Eugene to not go after in their previous "friends don't hurt friends" exchange.  Evil, Eugene, evil.  After a minute or so of this, we entered Dialogue Mode, where the turned the mics up way loud so we could hear HHH telling Eugene "You're hurting me, Eugene, please stop."  And Eugene does.  And even shows concern for HHH.  Bad move.  As soon as Eugene steps in, HHH sucker punches him.  And thus begins the Display of HHH's True Colors.  All manner of punches and turnbuckle whips and what not have Eugene in deep trouble for really the first time in his WWE career.  It actually kind of felt like fans didn't know how to react to Eugene's first extended Face In Peril segment... but they knew how to react once he started Eugening Up.  In Hogan-esque style (or maybe Samoan-esque style), Eugene started by no-selling the head-to-the-turnbuckle spots, and the start firing away with lefts and rights on HHH.  Big rally ends with a top rope double-sledge by Eugene, but only for a 2 count.  Triple H semi-rallies, even almost hits a Pedigree, but Eugene reverses into a Rock Bottom, and follows up with a People's Elbow.  But before he can get the pin, he's distracted by Ric Flair and HHH rolls out of the ring.  While Eugene occupies himself with Flair, HHH gets healthy, and sneaks up from behind and this time nails the Pedigree.  But when HHH makes the cover, Eric Bischoff walks out and interrupts: he tells HHH he didn't make this match for HHH to beat Eugene, he made it for HHH to BEAT THE HELL out of Eugene. So HHH better keep piling on or else he won't get the World Title shot, either.  

HHH seems annoyed, but willing.  He goes out and grabs a chair.  Apparently, nobody cares about winning the match, anymore, since Bischoff just said this is about beating the hell out of Eugene, not about winning (which is completely silly and arbitrary considering that this was a #1 Contender Match, which would seem to have pretty strict rules about having to win to get a title shot)..  It's a feeling that's only intensified as soon as Chris Benoit runs out to intercept HHH and the chair.  Ref never calls for the bell as Benoit brawls with HHH, nor after the rest of Evolution runs out and gets involved, nor after Benoit grabs the chair and fights them off.  And then the finale: Benoit lines up HHH for a chairshot, but HHH ducks out of the way, and Benoit plasters Eugene.  Benoit is concerned, and makes the mistake of turning his back on HHH, who immediately strikes from behind and lays out Benoit with a Pedigree.  Play HHH's music.  I'm guessing a no contest at about the 12 minute mark; not a totally sensible segment, but fun and it sure sets up intriguing possibilities down the line.  Show ends with Benoit and Eugene both down, while Evolution celebrates.

Final Analysis

As I said in the preface: I think back on RAW, I quickly scan over my recap of each segment, and I just can't find any one hook, anything to riff on, any singular thesis to try to make.

This show was all over the place.  When it was bad, it was awful.  When it was good, it continued the trend of RAW's live "sizzle" and made me feel (unlike any Thursday in post-WM20 history) like I'm watching a big show.  When it was bad, it made me dread the coming weeks and months of TV (thank you Lita and the Diva Search).  When it was good, it had me thinking of all the really cool possibilities of the coming weeks and months of TV (thank you Benoit chairshot on Eugene and me thinking that this kicks off a deal where Eugene really does fall under the influence of Evolution, which could be fun for a bit, maybe setting up a three-way main event at Vengeance?).

I can't even decide what I thought of the show as a whole.  There was too much radical deviation from the mid-line for me to be able to process it.  I'd tend to feel like the bad we got was worse than the positive was good, but I dunno.

I'll say this much: they did a good job keeping the "big show" atmosphere alive, and with also giving us a reason to keep thinking we'll get more of the same next week (Benoit/Kane).  The problem is that a "big" show is not always the same as a "good" show: just witness all the ratings stunts and crap we got back during the Monday Night Wars for plenty of examples of what I mean.  

Kane's the perfect example: he's a big part of what's "big" about next week.  But he's a big part of what was horrifyingly bad about this week.  It's a confounding paradox, and for the first time in a while, I feel like I'm failing you as a Wrestling Expert for not knowing how to put it all together into one cogent final analysis.

I guess just go back and check the segment-by-segment recapping for my compartmentalized analyses, and settle for that this week.  I'm just not feeling any way I can hang this all together as part of a single Big Picture.

Let's both me and RAW try to do this better next week.... 


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PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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