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Next Please! 
July 20, 2004

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Heading into tonight's RAW, WWE had done just about the worst job imaginable keeping the Wrestling front and center. Instead, all in-ring action and pertinent storylines were shoved to the background in favor of hyping the Diva Idol contest.

Needless to say, this is stupid for any of several dozen reasons, most of which I've been all too happy to discuss regularly here at OO and several of which were even on display as the Diva segments tanked on RAW, proving that (every now and again) at least THIS internet jack-off knows what he's talking about.

But how hard can I complain when WWE turns around and SERIOUSLY over-compensates the way they did? There is only ONE story heading into next week's RAW, and it's one that interests and excites me in very fundamental way. You know: the way in which I'm a WRESTLING FAN.

The Diva Search is pointless, silly, and even as titillation, it's a complete failure for probably anybody but the most desperate of sixth grader in search of Material; and I really wish WWE would quit acting like Spanky McGee and His No Older Brothers To Supply Hand-Me-Down Porn is a viable market to exploit!  But the same company turns around and announces Benoit vs. HHH in an Iron Man Match for next week?  Goddamn: that's not pointless titillation, that's the fricking Filthy Hardcore Gangbang Action of wrestling...

Before my little attempted metaphor gets even more confusingly mixed (and knowing how much SOME of you harbor unnatural feelings for Chris Benoit, it's probably too little, too late), let's just cut bait and get on with telling The Tale of RAW...

Video Package: Evolution strung Eugene along, and then yanked the carpet out from under him last week on RAW.

Cold Cut: no opening theme/pyro/etc., just a cut from HHH-a-week-ago smirking to HHH-right-here-live-tonight making his entrance to the ring for....

The Opening Promo

Between the opening package and Jim Ross' sell job on HHH's way to the ring (sorry Batista, you've once again been trumped on Longest Ring Entrance of the week), we get the idea that HHH should be VERY ashamed of what he did to poor, innocent Eugene last week.  And shock of shocks! HHH comes out of the gate and says, that's EXACTLY how he feels...

That's right, HHH has spent the last week, his stomach in knots, not able to sleep, his gut churning as he began to wonder how he could live with himself following what he did to Eugene.  But then, one night....


Yeah, then HHH says he farted, and he felt all better. Fuck: I have a vivid (and I'm sure entirely accurate) image in my head regarding how this entire Fart Joke was constructed, but that doesn't make it any easier to accept. This might actually have been the least-horrifically unfunny poop-related joke of the last month, but the problem is that when you're slinging one up there every week, I lose patience: so for the love of Christ, let's let poop and farts rest until at LEAST October, OK, guys? You know who you are. Anyway, HHH says that he felt better once he got the fart out of his system. And then, in an (failed) attempt to salvage some cleverness or pertinence out of the fart joke, HHH further explains that Eugene is just like a fart: better out than in.  So it was HHH's pleasure to expel Eugene from Evolution last week.  You know, somehow, I don't think HHH's little scatological comparison is QUITE gonna catch on like "Nugget" did for Owen Hart back in the day....

HHH gets up tight on the camera, and tells Eugene (sitting on the couch at home) to pay close attention: HHH is not his friend, Evolution are not his friends, he has NO friends, and never did. He's just an embarrassment to everybody who knows him, and they may be nice to him, but they are all secretly ashamed of him. HHH plays the ultimate dick card by telling Eugene that his mom, sitting right there on the couch with him, is ashamed of him.  He calls it "pathetic," but then that spurs his memory of something else pathetic he wants to share with us.

At HHH's instruction, the monkeys in the truck fire up special Post-RAW Footage from last week, where Chris Benoit and William Regal presided over the stretchering-out of Eugene, looking very concerned. And Regal? He even shed a tear, which struck HHH as very funny.  HHH was just starting in on the riffing when out comes....

Eric Bischoff? Yep, I guess so.  Bischoff says that he's here to announce that he's gotten off the phone with his sister (Eugene's mom), and as of this morning, Eugene is no longer a part of RAW or WWE. He is EXTREMELY thankful to HHH for being the man responsible for accomplishing the elimination of Eugene, and announces that HHH will be rewarded handsomely.  With a World Title shot here on RAW next week!  And not just ANY World Title match: a 60 Minute Iron Man Match!  Whoa.

To increase his dickishness, Bischoff further announces: (a) he knows it takes time to prepare for matches like this, so HHH has the night off. But also (b) he knows the fans want to see the champion wrestle, so he'll give them Chris Benoit against Batista in a non-title match tonight.  That mansard HHH thinks this is pure genius, and declares that next week on RAW, he will beat Benoit like he beat Eugene, and....

Out comes William Regal with a microphone. He's moving slowly but surely, saying that he's not frightened of shedding a tear, and furthermore, he's not frightened of HHH, and he says, "Eugene, dear boy, I hope you're watching, because this is for you."  With a sort of Distinguished Gentlemanly Bad-Assery that I can't quite put into words (HHH stood there like a dear in headlights and just watched as an ultra-focused Regal took off his jacket in civilized fashion before commencing the fisticuffsmanship), Regal immediately got the fans rallying behind him with "Regal, Regal" chants that I'd not thought would be forthcoming so easily.  Regal goes to work for a good minute or two before Bischoff starts yelling for security to come down and break this up. After a few failed attempts, they subdue Regal, while HHH is left lying on the mat.

OK opening segment: it was outstanding after Bischoff came out and got it rolling with the Iron Man announcement, then his dickish plans for Benoit tonight, and then Regal's brawl with HHH. Before that, it tended towards a bad Vince McMahon promo: in other words, I think HHH had about 2 minutes of material, but just kept on talking and talking around the point and repeating himself and not saying anything interesting until he'd eaten up 5 minutes of time and I was seriously considering the FF button. The fart joke didn't help matters.

A Quick Reminder: since we didn't have time to visit with Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler at the open, they pop in briefly to tell us that tonight's Huge Main Event is a Vengeance PPV Rematch, as Edge defends the IC Title against Randy Orton.....


Tajiri vs. Sylvain Grenier

La Resistance is already in the ring as we return from the break, and Conway announces they will be taking advantage of the Freedom of Speech that is rooted right here in Washington, DC, by having Sylvain sing "O, Canada." He gets about 2 bars in before Tajiri's music strikes up, he comes out to the ring (backed by Rhyno), and gets on the mic for a struggling "U....  S.....  A" chant of his own. Which actually does stick, so hey, good for you, Tajiri: your Best Promo Ever!

Sadly, this one isn't quite as tight as Rhyno/Conway from the week before. Because whatever Grenier brings to the table as a shitty singer, he's not quite as crisp in the ring: he blows an early back handspring elbow spot (and given the way the match was laid out later, I am confident it was Grenier who fucked that one up, not Tajiri), and they have to scramble with some improv'ed interference from Conway to get Grenier back on the advantage for a while. Sure enough, Tajiri begins his comeback about 2 minutes in -- and hey! there's the handspring elbow Grenier was SUPPOSED to block earlier! -- culminating in the Tarantula. Conway decided he was gonna run in to break up this illegal hold, but was intercepted by Rhyno; while the ref was dealing with Rhyno, Conway took the chance to go over and punch Tajiri in the face.  Grenier followed up with a schoolboy roll-up and a handful of tights for the cheap win.  About 3 minutes, made tolerable by Tajiri's all-encompassing goodness (never really got much of a flow going, but the entire crowd was ooohing and aahhhhing along with me at Tajiri's stiff kicks, so that's something, right?)...

Live Event Hype: they sent cameras out to the house shows this weekend. I FF'ed.  Smark Rule #21b is "If it doesn't happen on TV, it doesn't count."


The Ill-Conceived Misuse of Jericho Reel

OK, so last week, they saddle the treading-water Chris Jericho with the Crap that is Kane and Pregnant Lita on the grounds they got nothing else for him to do. And he lends an assist to a surprisingly adequate segment.

Now, this week, what the hell? If I didn't know any better, I'd say that WWE got some sort of high-level intelligence that the prestigious Rick Scaia Demographic was considering fast-forwarding through all things Diva Search related, and just to make life impossible for the all of the smart, witty, and good-looking people in that demographic, they decided to put Jericho in charge of MC'ing the Diva Search segment on the grounds that they have data to prove that Jericho is one of the top three reasons to watch RAW to those in the Rick Scaia Demographic.  Let me just say this: I've done my own research on this demo, and OK, their plan worked this week.  But all this demographic REALLY wants is for Jericho to not be given the job of trying to unSuck all the things that WWE has screwed the pooch on. At this rate, WWE will perfect Time Travel Technology for the sole purpose of making the Highlight Reel the official XFL Studio Pregame Show.... that way, they can blame Jericho not delivering strong lead-in ratings for the demise of the XFL instead of blaming it on being a Shitty Fucking Idea.  You know, kind of like this Diva Search thingie is.

And if you think I'm rambling pointlessly, guess again: I'm being approximately three-point-two billion times more entertaining right now than anything the Diva Search supplied us with.  Jericho, resigned to the crap, doesn't bother helping matters and only has c-grade prefatory comments this week, and just tells us he's out here to introduce us to not one, but TEN beautiful women.  So out come the 10 Diva Search Finalists in their finery, and in various stages of move-busting.  Score one for The Rick: almost sight-unseen I, yesterday, announced that in so far as OO was going to endorse this idiocy, we were backing Michelle McCool, who eventually turned out to be the one girl who seemed to have some idea of how retarded this whole thing was and was kind of bashfully doing the Reserved White Girl Handclapping of Almost Being On the Beat, while the other nine girls were doing caricatures of Allegedly Sexy Dancing that ranged from The Dumb Girl Shimmy to the Victoria Memorial Full Body Seizure.  Just horrifying to watch as King actually tried to sell us on how ten (well, nine) girls twitching involuntarily is clearly the Hottest Sight on All of Television.

Mercifully, Jericho finally asks to cut the music, and says it's time to meet the girls and get to know them a little bit.  Find out if they like candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach, delicious chilled Mimosas, or perhaps the misunderstood musical genius of Loverboy (Loverboy!?! what kind of mad brand of non-sequitur-laden alchemy is Jericho practicing here? who in their right mind works Loverboy into casual conversation?), and all that...  but for now, Jericho will settle for each girl saying her name and her hometown.

And so they go down the line. The first girl (turns out, it's My Michelle) sneaks in under the wire and gets mostly cheers. Then the crowd remembers how dumb this all is, and just boos each subsequent girl without mercy. Except for the Playmate of the Year, who gets some enthusiastic hooting and hollering, enforcing my long-held theory about this all being a stupid waste of time and she'll win. But even with that break, it was obvious what was going on by the third girl, and I swear to you, I was ready to change my OOfficial Allegiance to the first girl who showed a spark of SOMEthing, realized her position, and turned heel.  "Hi, my name is The Rick's Imaginary Diva, and I'm from Awesomeville, population ME. And if you idiots here in DC even THINK about booing me like you did these other dumb bimbos, you can forget about seeing me in my bikini later on tonight."  And whether met with stunned silence or (more likely) actual cheers, it would have been better than just having a disinterested crowd ruthlessly booing a girl whose worst crime is wanting $250,000, when those deserving of the boos are safely hiding behind the curtain.

Jericho gets through the line, and begins outlining how things will work: fans will vote (online and by phone, from 10pm to 4am eastern time every Monday night) for their favorite contestant.  The one with the least votes will be eliminated each week. But wait: there's a special Jericho Twist! Unbeknownst to anyone, he's hidden an "Immunity Envelope" in GM Eric Bischoff's office, and the first girl to find it will be GUARANTEED safe from the fans' vote this week.  And for reasons I can't fathom, they decide to go on this Special Quest right now, and instead of staging it as a 2 minute vignette after an ad break, it turns into another 5-6 minutes of interminable crap.

Jericho leads the girls over the ringside barrier and through the bowels of the building, all the while making sure we all know that he's no more interested in this segment than we are: he's busting out the "So, baby, what's your sign?" and "Come here often?" caliber lines on the girls, which I'm going to convince myself actually ARE funny and NOT lazy because they are Jericho's secret code to the Rick Scaia Demographic that he is as annoyed by the Diva Search as I am, and refused to generate any good material this week in secret protest.  Let me have this one.  I need SOMEthing to save this segment.

They finally get to Bischoff's office, and Jericho tells them to go inside and just rip stuff apart until they find the envelope. They have to WANT IT, too, so get into the couch cushions, the wall portraits, everything.  Sure enough, the girls tear Bischoff's office to shreds as Jericho eggs them on. And this goes ON and ON and ON, and the crowd starts chanting "Boring" at one point before one of the girls had a near Wardrobe Malfunction and seemed perilously close to revealing something about her Personal Grooming Habits -- which, truth be told, would actually have become the First And Only Interesting Thing we'd learn all night about any of the girls -- and ALMOST got the crowd perked up.  Then she got her skirt back on and everybody went back to not caring.  

FINALLY Eric Bischoff showed up and wanted to know what the hell was going on.  In between some horribly-delivered dialogue (even the normally-solid Bischoff was screwing this thing up left and right), we find out there is no Immunity Envelope, and Bischoff is mad at Jericho for putting the girls up to this.  Bischoff closed with some really jerkish intimidation about how he's the boss and they are all stupid bitches and they'd better keep that in mind as the contest continues. Yay for the asshole!  Oh, sorry, wait, I misheard: make that "Another BOOOO-RING chant" for the asshole.

You know what would have been a better use of 15 minutes? Anything. Who's got Joe Schmo's number?


Hurricane (w/ Stacy) vs. The Lovely Miss Tomko (w/ Trish) 

Tomko enters first, with Trish, again to Christian's entrance. C'mon, WWE, just to make ME laugh, why not just give up and make the poor guy come out to Trish's entrance? We all know it'd be SO right.  Hurricane comes out, pauses on the stage, gestures for somebody, and... out comes Stacy? OK, I guess; she might not be quite as useful a choice as Hurricane's tag partner, but she's easier on the eyes....

Match pretty much amounts to Hurricane taking the advantage when Tomko gets distracted by Stacy's ass.  So Hurricane hits about a minute's worth of moves, and then Trish is all "Goddammit, do I have to do everything around here?" and gets up on the apron and distracts Hurricane long enough for Tomko to recover and (allegedly) hit the Big Boot of Suck. A trainwreck of a final spot, in execution, but they ran with it, and Hurricane stayed down for the three count. Two minutes, tops.

After the match: Trish decided she wanted to snap that twig Stacy in half, and started the job by punching her right in the ovaries with her Loaded Cast of Extreme Illegalness.  Then Trish handed her off to Tomko, who was contemplating his options when Rosey swooped in for the big save. Of note: Rosey's wearing a snazzy red/blue/black outfit, and has apparently graduated to full superhero status.  Match was really not very good, but it was an excuse to run the post-match angle, and I thought that came off really well, so no complaints.

Backstage: Flair and Batista are heading to the ring, when HHH pulls them aside.  He says he wants to talk to Batista really quick before his match against Benoit.  Alone....


The Penis Mightier: well into his 50s, Ric Flair may not be "The Man" inside the ring, anymore, but his book is selling well, and WWE wants you to know all about who Flair slayed with his pen, rather than with his sword.  Jerry Lawler narrates passages of Flair's book that are negative towards Bret Hart and more negative towards Mick Foley.  One of these mentions was a cheap ploy to generate controversy and book sales. The was planting seeds for an eventual on-screen feud. You do the math.

Chris Benoit vs. Batista (Non-Title Match)

If I start calling Batista "The Animal of Evolution" and help try to get that name over, will you stop giving him three minutes of toe-pointing and posing for his ring entrance, WWE?  Or at least something cool by Motorhead to play in the background?  Jesus.  Benoit came out fast, here, getting the better of Batista, but NOT able to hit a big final move.  Batista powered out of the Sharpshooter and the Crossface, and then Flair interfered when Benoit decided to try the swandive headbutt.  And from there, Batista took over, and stayed in charge pretty much the rest of the way.

It seemed like his attack was a little directionless, and I'd assumed that the conference with HHH would have been to set up a Specific Plan... you know: target the surgically repaired neck, or the knee, or something like that.  But instead it was just Batista's usual power routine for a few minutes, until the End Game. Batista dropped Benoit into the ropes, and Benoit's leg got tied up.  Hung upside down and defenseless, Benoit ate a couple of wicked-stiff boots to the head.  Ref gave Batista the five-count, but he kept on attacking, so he called for the DQ.  Benoit wins at about the 5-6 minute mark, but that's not the story: the story is that Batista keeps on attacking, more shots to the head, and finally the big powerbomb to finish.  JR finally puts the pieces together: Batista never once attempted a cover or a submission, he wasn't even trying to win, he was just sent out here to soften up Benoit for next week.  I guess there's a reason to wait till after the match to realize that, but I'm still proud that my brain was on the right track much earlier....  it's a nice little touch and a good story to tell heading into HHH/Benoit next week.


During the Break: Chris Benoit had to be half-carried from the ring, and JR feared that he might be concussed and if so, he's in real danger next week when he has to go sixty minutes with Triple H.

Backstage: Lita is WALKING! And finds Matt Hardy.  Matt's all, "Hey, baby, we can talk and that's fine, but as far as us as a couple goes, I just don't know what to think about that, yet."  And Lita's all, "That's cool, honey, take all the time you want, and just know that whatever you decide, I still love you and really want us to be together."  And then Lita closes with, "But also know that whatever you decide, I'm having this baby with or without you."  Um, okeydoke, I guess? At least we know they won't be turning this into a Pro Life vs. Pro Choice storyline, which is a minor victory for us Opponents of Suck.  Other than that: nothing accomplished here.  But at least that nothing was accomplished with both Matt and Lita coming off like reasonably normal, non-bad-actory people.

Interview Corner: Tough Questions Todd Grisham comes out swinging, asking Randy Orton what it's like to be coming off an IC Title loss for the first time in his life. And Orton doesn't much cotton to the youngster's impertinent line of questioning, pointing out that his first IC Title reign was an impressive 7 months, but that when Edge won his first IC belt, he held it for one day (HEY! Who's feeding Randall the high quality Dick Lines?!?)... so therefore the only logical conclusion is that Edge's win over Randy was a fluke, a fluke that will be undone tonight in the main event.  And then Young Randall kind of petered out in the middle of a sentence, and I briefly thought he was back to his old habits, but the camera pans back to reveal Edge has stepped into the Interview Station.  Edge announces that he's got Randy figured out: he talks big, but he's like an insecure little child. Which makes sense to Edge, since he'd have insecurity issues, too, if he'd grown up watching his dad be nothing but Roddy Piper's bitch.  NICE! Orton just stood there with a dumb look on his face, and allowed Edge to continue with another line about how if Randy's daddy had been as good about wearing a condom as he was about wearing that cast of his, we wouldn't even have to be having this conversation right now.  ZING!  Orton's still just standing there taking it, and finally Edge decides he's had enough, and leaves after promising a victory later tonight.  Finally, once Edge is gone, Orton sputters something indignant that he clearly didn't have the balls to say to Edge's face...  and kids, I say this AS A COMPLIMENT (though you could easily twist it around, if one wanted to): a PERFECT promo, where Orton playing up the Dumb Insecure Guy aspects that maybe some of us want to project upon him was EXACTLY what needed to happen. It short circuits some of the undesired cheers he's been getting, and Edge piled on by actually getting in some killer lines of his own.  As soon as it wrapped up, I knew this promo's quality would be a big part of why the main event clicked....

Diva Search Voting Time: JR and King showed a list of 10 toll-free phone numbers, one for each Diva Search contestant. Every household is allowed to call and vote once. So hop to it! And for fuck's sake, if you actually did, PLEASE, I'M BEGGING YOU, e-mail me and explain why.  You got NAMES and HOMETOWNS and NOTHING ELSE, who can possibly give a damn?  The ONLY reason I would accept is if you were doing something to screw with WWE, like organizing massive campaigns to vote for ONE of the twins but not the other.  Seriously, how else could you derive any personal satisfaction from participating?


Chris Jericho vs. Kane

This match, we are told, is punishment for Jericho goading the divas into destroying Bischoff's office.  Oh, good, that makes sense.  Because lord knows I'd hate for this match to have been about something like Kane wanting revenge for Jericho verbally punking him last week and then beating him in a wrestling match.  Because NObody could possibly care about something like that.  But 10 ditzes ransacking Bischoff's office? THIS CANNOT STAND.  Bring on Jericho vs. Kane 2: Electric Boogaloo!

Starting out, it's pretty much 100% Kane. I guess he can't stand messy offices, either!  Jericho finally started his comeback with a drop toehold/Bossman Straddle combo. When he tried for a Lionsault, Kane moved, but Jericho landed on his feet and clotheslined Kane out of the ring.  Out there, he landed the Ghetto Blaster (running enzuigiri and I WILL get the "Ghetto Blaster" name over if it kills me; all hail Bad News Brown!), and snuck back into the ring at the count of 7, while Kane stayed down and got counted out.  Another cheap win for Jericho?

Not so fast: Bischoff's out and announces that the match isn't over yet, because this is a No DQ, No Countout, Falls Count Anywhere match. So ring the bell, and let's get this thing (re-)started....


Back from the break, and they have some interesting footage for us from during the ads.  Jericho and Kane brawled all over the entrance set, and Kane got the better of it, explaining why he's now in control.  But it didn't stay that way for long, as Jericho hit a Crazy Ass top-rope-to-the-floor crossbody on Kane, and from there, things spilled into the crowd and all over the arena for several back-and-forthy minutes.  Jericho seemed to gain the edge for good when he used the camera crane to blast Kane in the face... but that's when somebody decided to dredge up ancient history: Batista arrived on the scene and tackled Jericho, and then lined him up for the Dreaded Clothesline of Extreme Concussing (I was WONDERING why he didn't bust that out against Benoit, actually!).  Batista chuckled at his handiwork as Kane recovered and made the cover on the unconscious Jericho.  Kane's your winner, probably 12-14 minutes counting the ad break, and the last half, at least, was kind of a different type of brawl than what we usually see on Mondays, so it was fun enough stuff. I have my concerns over the use of Jericho on this night and what it positions him for in the near term, but well... more later, if I feel like it.


Diva Search Special, the Recappening: I don't recap recaps, I don't recap crap, and I CERTAINLY don't recap recaps of crap.

Diva Search Phase II, the Almost Titillatinging: Coach is out and talks some, then introduces the girls in their TV-G swimwear. Yes, they are pretty, but no, this is not really why I'm watching wrestling, and if it was, I'd be an idiot for not just spending the two hours looking at free internet porn, instead.  But don't take my word for it, WWE: you had 10 babes looking tasty and a live crowd that booed them, anyway.  It's not just some weird fetish of mine. Although, who knows? Maybe Bradshaw's right, and I'm just a one o' them flamingly gay internet types who finds it easy to dismiss 10 scantily-clad women, but is bursting at the seams at the prospects of Benoit and HHH rolling around together on the mat, all sweaty and stuff, for an hour next week.  Yeah, that explains it...

SmackDown! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.

[ads; including a SummerSlam ad that I just HAD to rewind and actually watch, cuz at first, I didn't believe my eyes... it was an Olympics/gymnastics-themed one starring Chavo Classic... and was apparently deemed funny enough to remain in rotation despite Classic's departure; funny stuff, funniest one of the bunch I've seen so far, anyway (which includes the Angle, Stacy, and Eugene/Regal ones)...]

Edge vs. Randy Orton (InterContinental Title Match)

Early on, Lawler says something dumb, and Jim Ross responds with a resigned, pained, "You.... you don't know what words mean, do you?" which I'm sure made exactly 17 other people across the nation bust out in laughter.  But I, as a fan of Mr. Show's Three-Nippled, Multi-Scrotumed Explorer was one of them, and I felt felt JR's pain...

Story here was Parity, at least for the first 2 minutes.  Orton and Edge kept countering each other, and doing stuff like throwing dropkicks at the exact same time.  Kind of played into the "Edge is inside Orton's head" vibe from earlier.  And FYI: I was right, that earlier promo has got this crowd into the match and into it the "right way," mostly behind Edge.  The pockets of Orton supports seem to be statistically insignificant in size...  Edge eventually gets a bit of, ummm DAMMIT, an edge and works Orton's arm for a minute or two.  But Orton comes back with a backbreaker out of nowhere, and then tosses Edge to the outside, where he back suplexes Edge onto the barricade in a wicked little spot.  Edge tumbles into the crowd, Orton gets back into the ring when he realizes he needs to break the count, so we check some....


Back, and Orton's still working the back and neck of Edge.  We get a "Moments Ago," but it's NOT a "During the Break" bit; it's the suplex onto the barricade again.  And yeah, Orton's busting out one of his Shitty Chinlocks, but it's only for about 45 seconds and it's for a reason: Edge fires up out of this hold, and this time (unlike the PPV) the crowd is with him as he starts stringing some moves together.  This builds for a minute or two, and then we really kick it into gear around the 12 minute mark: that's when Edge hits a Spear on Orton while Orton's on the ring apron.  Orton bumps into the ringside barricade, and when he gets back into the ring, Edge follows up with a couple or three REALLY plausible and dramatic near-falls (one off a missile dropkick, another off an Edge-o-Matic, and I'm feeling like I'm missing another one).  Crowd is WAY into this now, and is counting along with Edge's covers and sounds about 90% in Edge's favor.  Edge is going for another big move (a flying cross body), but Orton ducks, and the ref EATS IT in one of those real nice ref bumps that predictably leads me to ponder "Who makes the Overhead X of For Real Injury when the Guy Who's Supposed to Make the Overhead X of For Real Injury gets for real injured?"

Orton immediately tries to capitalize by poking Edge in the eye and then going out to procure Lillian Garcia's steel chair... but just as Orton lines Edge up for the Whackjob, Edge explodes off the mat and picks Orton off with a Spear.  He makes the cover.  No ref, but the crowd counts up to about five or so in support of Edge.  Edge gets up and checks on the ref: big mistake, as when he turns around, Orton gets him with an uppernut low blow, and then follows up immediately with the RKO.  Might this be it?  The ref FINALLY crawls into position.  Starts an extra-slow and dramatic count... but Edge kicks out at 2 to a big pop!  Both men up, quick reversal sequence, and this time, Edge counters an Irish Whip by coming off with a second Spear.  Edge is slow to cover, but when he does, it's another slow-dramatic count, and Orton kicks out at 2.  Crowd is WAY into these near falls, and it's after Orton kicks out here that we get our only real "Randy, Randy" chant, and it's more just a "Wow, I hope this match keeps on going" kind of appreciation chant, I think.  Both men up again: Orton thinks he's got the RKO lined up again, but no!, Edge counters into a backslide.  Ref dives into position, but Edge gets his feet on the ropes for illegal leverage!  One, two, three!  Edge cheats to beat Evolution again.  Mostly positive crowd reaction, though, and on his way out of the ring, Edge points to his big brain and says "Outsmarted you, Randall" (which, I suspect, is not that difficult to do, if we're totally honest), as JR simply says, "Well, if he cheated, he took that page right out of the Evolution playbook, so it's all good." But fans around the world say, "Well, they aren't doing anything to dissuade me from spouting off about a possible Edge heel turn, so I guess I'd better mention it."

And then: although Edge's music is playing and he just won a VERY good 16 minute main event (easy Match of the Night, way better than their PPV match, and again, I think a lot of credit goes to the well-conceived promo they did mid-show for getting all the fans on the same page with Edge, Orton, and the match they'd laid out), we cut back to Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler for our closing.  They give us the HARD SELL on Benoit vs. Triple H next week, even giving a little poke to SmackDown! ("They may do cage matches on Thursday nights, but here on RAW our title's up for grabs in a brutal Iron Man Match") that I thought was neat.  For the record: JR tells us that Benoit vs. HHH starts promptly at the top of the show, so don't tune in late: it's gonna be a classic!  See you next week!

Final Analysis

I really don't know what to tell you: it's hard not to be excited for the "direction" of RAW when you're staring a sure-fire Match of the Year Candidate in the face just six days from now, and it's hard not to walk away feeling entertained by what you've already seen when you get a top shelf main event like Edge/Orton delivered....

So why am I so decidedly un-blown-away after this week's RAW?

Obviously, a big part of it has to do with the Diva Search thing. Because of how they presented it, I felt compelled to watch it, instead of (as I'd promised to do) fast-forward it and NOT allow it to taint my opinion of the show as a whole.  So sue me if thinking Chris Jericho's got the midas touch is a crime...  he made Lita/Kane Not Suck the week before.

But it wasn't happening this week, for all the reasons I already spent kilobyte after kilobyte ranting about above and so many more, as well. I needed all of about 30 seconds after Vince McMahon's announcement in May to realize just how bad this Diva Search thing would be, and not much longer than that to arrive at most of the Whys.  One would hope that WWE, as dense as they are, sometimes, would take the slaps in the face of the past week (boos last Monday, boos this Monday, a sparsely-attended live Selection Special where fans got annoyed and left early, and so on) and just admit they screwed up.  Obviously, you can't just take the whole thing off TV (although, how SWEET would it be to just ask these girls how much money they'd accept as a buy-out, and have Molly Holly come out and kick the living shit out of all 10 of them next week and somehow turn it into a Million Dollar Woman gimmick; well, quarter-mill, but you get the idea), but how about at least just putting it into it's own little 5 minute ghetto every week, WWE?  No more wasting 20 minutes of my life, and worse, wasting Chris Jericho on crap that you really should have sent the Coach out there to die with.  At least that way, if people want to not care and boo, it's no skin off my nose....

And what is next for Jericho, anyway? I thought we'd effectively forgotten that he lost his feud with Batista, and were ready to move on... only way I get excited about this resumption is if it's mostly meant to get Jericho aligned with Benoit, Regal, and Eugene against Evolution.  That's a babyface foursome with a lot of fun possibilities. And again thinking off the top of my head, if Edge keeps tweenering on us, I REALLY think it'd be a cool thing to get Jericho vs. Orton vs. Edge in an IC Title feud.  It's just one of those deals where that mix of talent and personalities would really help elevate the status of the IC title, I think...  Jericho vs. Orton could be a World Title Match in a year, but now, it's merely for the IC belt.  Good stuff.  And Edge: how he fits in could literally make his singles career, too, and coming out of tonight with the lingering taint of heelishness keeps him fresh and interesting enough....

Surprise star of the night: William Regal, by the by.  I don't know if you move the title onto HHH next week or not, but at some point in the next month, Regal's gonna get a shot at HHH and I think fans'll be digging it either way.

Tomko/Hurricane and Tajiri/Grenier got their stories told, I guess, but really, when you mix in the dead time of the diva search, the house show promotional thing, the SD! rebound, and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting, the overall feel I remember from last night is that Nothing Happened between the end of the opening promo/Iron Man announcement/Regal brawl and the start of the main event.  That makes it tough to deliver an enthusiastic endorsement.

And yet, my ever-optimistic self can't help but remember how GOOD that main event was and how STOKED I am for the Iron Man match announced in that opening promo, and still think we got ourselves a solid 2 hours of TV.  Certainly not flawless, but quite possibly only tainted by how fricking much I can't fathom why a bullet hasn't been put in the head of this Diva Search contest.

Next week: HHH, Benoit, Iron Man, all else fails to matter. 


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
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PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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