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OO RAW RECAP
Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing 
August 24, 2004

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I called it a "make or break" edition of RAW, where the two biggest scenarios could have wide-spanning repercussions for the next several months on RAW.
  
I'd have been more apt to call it the "sound and fury signifying nothing" edition of RAW... the two scenario about which I'd worked myself into a lather were -- well -- let's be charitable and call them anticlimactic. Fundamentally unfulfilling, they opted to tread water instead of moving forward with both the Kane/Lita storyline and with Young  

Randall Orton.  They might have put a ton of bells and whistles in to distract you from the anticlimax (in the form of HHH's Angry Heel Slobbering or Evil Midgets or Trish In Lingerie For No Good Reason), but the fact is the "pay-off" in both cases left us pretty much where we were at the end of the night.  

And if you want MORE "sound and fury signifying nothing," how about a fricking THIRTY MINUTE (I exaggerate not, folks!) opening skit with The Rock and the Diva Search Contestants.  When you drag something out that long, all I can say is it probably hurt the Rock more than it helped the Diva Search.  Oy.

The night's lone substantive progress came in the recasting of Chris Benoit as the mid-card sidekick of Eugene. That's apparently what happens when you lose the title, lose your rematch, and got nothing better to do. Hey, how about that jump back to SmackDown NOW folks?

Enough. You kind of get the idea where I might go with this, but I'll try to play it straight here for the Recappy part. More editorialization in the Final Analysis part...

Quick Video Package: HHH leads Evolution in a turn against new champ Randy Orton. Just about 20 seconds or so, in case we've forgotten already. Or (looking at ratings) weren't watching last week.

Opening theme/pyro/etc., and we're live in Anaheim, CA, (NOT the site of WM21, no matter what The Rick stupidly put in his column yesterday; but only about 20 miles away from the site of WM21)... tonight, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler promise us a visit from the World Champ Randy Orton, and also a huge InterContinental Title match between Edge and Chris Jericho...  not to mention the "Wedding From Hell" between Kane and Lita. So STAY TUNED~!  Even though the opening segment appears to be Diva Search related, these helpful hype hints from JR and King seem to indicate it WILL GET BETTER....

The Half Hour of Holy Horror

The Coach is in the ring, as are the six Diva Search Remainders. I don't watch crap, I don't recap crap: let's just say yet another one of them gets eliminated and move on.

The Coach also doesn't want to wait for the talent portion of the contest tonight, he wants to do it right now. So once the loser girl is gone, Coach reveals tonight's competition is taking 5 minutes to tell the Coach how awesome he is....  and the reason I'm watching and recapping this part now is because if you couldn't feel what was coming next, you just weren't trying very hard....

"IF YA SMELL. WHAT THE ROCK. IS COOKING."  DA-DOOSHZ.

The Rock is out to... hey, wait, are we in fricking Canada or California? Cuz that's a LOT of cheers, but if that also ain't an undertone of boos, then you may smack my ass and call me Sally. Unless Californians have perfected Time Travel and there were a couple hundred visitors from the future in the crowd who knew what was coming and were trying to warn us....

Anyway, Rock is out, and he's all "This isn't your show, Coach, this is the Rock's show, and you have your five minutes, blah blah blah, well the Rock is giving you five seconds to get out of his ring unless you want a People's Ass Whupping."  Coach makes a show of being defiant, but eventually leaves right as Rock counts down to 1.

So then we get a good 5 minutes of the Rock making eyes with the Divas, and trying to be funny in that "I'm the Rock and whatever I do is funny" kind of way that started to annoy me in 2002 (it involves a lot of little asides that have nothing to do with anything, and with covering up a lack of preparation with Alleged Edginess in the form of Drug Humor and Implying that Lillian Garcia Enjoys the Man Juice). We're maybe 10 minutes in by now, and already, responses have gone from roars to "Oh, ahahaha, that's funny. I guess" sorts of chuckling.

Rock decides to get around to his point, which is that HE HASN'T BEEN WATCHING THE SHOW!  Lucky you, Rocky... but I guess he saw some tape earlier today, and gathers that the girls don't like Carmella. So he sort of gives the Vapid Playmate a pep talk about cutting loose and wanting it and showing all these people they're wrong, just like the Rock did back at the start of his career. I have NO idea what's going on, now, with Carmella. Last week, it seemed scripted to make her a heel, now Rock's trying to help her out?

And that's not the only tape the Rock saw today... he also saw footage of the Ice Cream Licking Contest, and the Rock didn't exactly think that was entertaining. Nobody wants to see the girls eating ice cream, says the Rock. The crowd is about 20 seconds ahead of the Rock by the time he reveals that what the People really want to see if a Pie Eating Contest.  Sorry Rock, the People don't really care much about that, either.

So Rock asks for some pies to be delivered, and GODDAMN YOU WWE!, here's Tajiri out with a tray full of pies. First you ask Jericho to try to salvage one of these bits, now you're dragging Tajiri into it? Are you TRYING to get me to turn on my favorite wrestlers? So Tajiri is basically Rock's punchline for the rest of the segment whenever things slow down (which is several times); Tajiri has to keep giving us "mute lasciviousness" so that Rocky can turn around and give us the "Sick Freak" take. Why'd it have to be Tajiri, who current has so much invested in being a bad-ass?

So five girls eat pie for 30 seconds each or something while the Rock commentates. One tried to cut a promo while eating, one just sat her ass down in the pie and then posed, two actually did The Expected and just licked on the thing in Supposedly Seductive Fashion, and Carmella just looked confused and rubbed the pie on her arms (?!?, she can't REALLY be this undynamic a personality, can she? this HAS to be an act, right?). That's all the recappening you get of this bullshit from me.

They get done with the pie eating and the Tajiri mocking, and now we're a good 25 minutes into the show, and FINALLY we get a punchline. Coach is back, and this time, he's brought La Resistance with him. Coach threatens to come to the ring to kick some ass, so Rock delivers a multi-lingual "Just Bring It" and tells the Divas to get lost cuz there's about to be a homicide up in here.  

Coach and La Resistance briefly take advantage of the 2-on-1 edge, but sure enough, then Rhyno's out, and Tajiri/Rhyno/Rock clean house, last isolating on the Coach.  Surrounded, the Coach tries to psyche himself up for a one-on-one fight with Rock, but immediately gets spinebustered and eats the People's Elbow. FINALLY, big cheers for this part of the segments.  Rock closes out with a "Smell What the Rock is Cooking," and we get some three-way celebration, and I shit you not, I look at my DVR timer, and I'm a full 29 minutes into my recording at this point.  If you can find a half-hour's worth of content in the above paragraphs, I'd love to know what recreational pharmaceuticals you're enjoying to increase the elasticity of time...

Backstage: Kane is WALKING~! And he's apparently arrived for his wedding in his Standard Wrestling Gear.... but wait, he's carrying a Garment Bag! What could be inside? Stay tuned!

[ads]

Last Week: Evolution turned on Randy Orton. And apparently, it's now worth a LENGTHY video package. Note: the readers were right, they DID edit Randy's promo from last week so he now claims to be the "Youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history."  Also of note: WWE has apparently figured out the mess they've made for themselves, and all night long, Jim Ross was harping on Orton as the "Youngest World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history," which I guess is factually accurate enough (finally!), but also kind of unimpressive given that the title has only existed in "WWE history" for 2 years.  They want SOOOO badly for Orton to get this "youngest ever" tag, but they didn't stop to think they have him on the WRONG SHOW to do it honestly.

Backstage: Triple H and Ric Flair great the returning Batista, and ask him if they've delivered the message to Randy Orton.  Batista says yes, and we gather from HHH's ranting and raving that he has issued an ultimatum of some kind to Orton, and we'll find out what it is AND Randy's answer later tonight....

Elsewhere Backstage: Lita is feeling sorry for her slutty little self, when into her dressing room barges Kane. Kane says he wants to take back a joke he made about Lita: he WANTS her to wear white tonight to signify the "purity of my offspring" (whhhhaaa? who's writing this drivel? or is it SUPPOSED to make me lower my head and laugh in shame?). So here, he's brought her a wedding dress. Lita looks at it, and tries to give us "defiant." But Kane is insistant, and closes with the punchline, "Afterall, Lita, it's a nice day for a White Wedding."  Lita failed to cry out with a Rebel Yell, at this point; I wonder if she's softening to Kane's charms? If so, maybe Kane WILL get to Rock the Cradle of Love later tonight.... what? You want me to stop?  OK...

[ads]

Edge vs. Chris Jericho (IC Title Match)

We get the ring entrances, we get about 60 seconds of what felt like it was settling in for an extended "feeling out" sequence, and then they just sort of sloppily went to a Big Spot: Jericho ducked and low-bridged Edge on an attack, sending him out of the ring, then followed up with a springboard dropkick.  I swear, it only took them 90 seconds, but here we are at a perfect spot for some....

[ads]

Back, and somehow Edge is now in control.  No "during the break" replays or other explanation is given, really.  Just back, Edge is in control, and he's using a chinlock.  Jericho eventually powers out, and they do a mini-heat sequence for him (crowd is not necessarily split, but although Edge has SOME fans, Jericho is the DECIDED fan favorite, and Edge is the only one getting booed).  All of 3 minutes after we come back from the ads, they do a spot where Jericho side steps a Spear Attempt, and Edge ALMOST crashes into the ref, but stops. In the momentary confusion, Jericho tries to go for the Walls of Jericho, but Edge quickly turns that into a Small Package.  The pinning combination is too close to the ropes, and Jericho puts his foot on the bottom strand... but the ref doesn't see it and counts three!  Edge starts celebrating his win, but then the ref DOES see the foot on the rope and reverses his decision.  Or does he?  Seeing as how 4 minutes of action is too much to go without commercial endorsement, we'll have to wait and find out after these....

[ads]

And we're back AGAIN, and the ref HAS gotten Edge back to the ring to restart the match. Lawler's laying it on thick with the "Edge already beat him, this isn't fair" routine, which is the best evidence yet that Edge is going to the dark side.  Unlike the previous two mini-segments, this one is pretty fast paced with a Battle of the Movesets setting up more than a few pinning combos.  Jericho got a few in, Edge came back with that quasi-spear (sending Jericho from the apron to the floor) and got some of his own.  Good stuff for about 3 minutes, and then:  End Game.  Jericho looked like he was trying to tackle Edge Thesz Press-style, but Edge caught him, and stumbled backwards until he dropped Jericho into the ropes.  Dropped him CROTCH-FIRST onto the top rop, to be precise.  

And this is where it gets confusing. Cuz the ref just sort of mills around for a few minutes, looks to the time keeper, but doesn't do anything.  Then he goes back to Jericho, and 20 seconds later, he DOES call for the bell. Simultaneous with the ref FINALLY deciding to call for a bell for Reasons Unknown, Edge thinks the match is still going on and nails Jericho with a Spear.  Edge gets up from that and is like "What the hell? Why's the bell ringing?  I just had him beat!"... and THAT is when the ref and Lillian Garcia decide to announce that Edge has been disqualified, and Jericho is your winner at the 16 minute mark of this match.

But DQ'ed for what?  If the crotch-first drop was the DQ, then why the hell did the ref wait 30 seconds to call for it? I was left thinking that they were attempting the old "too injured to continue" finish, where the ref declared Jericho unable to compete, and sort of gave Edge the TKO. And then maybe when Edge kept on attacking after the bell, the ref reversed it and gave Jericho the DQ win? I dunno, that makes more sense, but that's not the story they told.  Just a sloppy, poorly-executed finish to a match that was severely hamstrung by pacing problems from the get go (the opening 2 minute segment was worthless, the middle 4 minute segment was slow, and only the final segment was really any good; I tend to blame the Rock and the opening 30 minute crapfest for this, but still, it was noticeable).

Backstage: Evolution are headed towards the ring. Apparently, HHH has a Lawler-esque man-crush on Randy Orton and thinks he's 24, because apropos of nothing, he takes his shirt off while walking down the hallway....

[ads]

Randy Orton's Best Foot Forward Theatre

So I guess it's time for us to find out HHH's ultimatum and Randy Orton's answer.  HHH (with Flair and Batista) are out first, and gets me on his side right away by making the common sense observation that "There's no such thing as destiny."  Nothing in this universe is predetermined, and all we have are our own actions/decisions and the consequences of those actions.

He says Randy Orton made a decision to not be a failure like his grandfather and father before him, so he took up with Evolution, the coolest, baddest, pussy-gettingest sons of bitches in this entire business. [Remind me sometime to do a rant about all this "entire business" and "this industry" euphemism usage that seems awkward when "wrestling" would do, if only it weren't a dirty word.] And joining Evolution was a GOOD decision for Randy. But then he made a BAD decision: instead of just softening up Chris Benoit for HHH, he went and actually BEAT Benoit and took the World Title.  The World Title that is more important than life itself to HHH. The World Title that BELONGS to HHH.  You know, for all his talk of not believing in destiny, HHH has sure gone off the deep end of logic here (but more on that later)....

So there's only one thing to do: Orton has to come out here right now, lay down for a 3 count, and hand over the World Title to HHH. If he doesn't, then last week's beating will be a mere sample of the hell that Evolution will put Orton through.  But if he does the right thing, HHH and Evolution will pretend Orton doesn't exist: they'll give him a free pass to live his life uninterrupted as long as he stays out of Evolution's business.  Okey-doke, Ving Rhames in Pulp Fiction...

Out comes Randy Orton (strangely to "The Theme from Evolution," even though he's been kicked out of the group; apparently NObody thinks using that shitfest of a song from his video last week as a new entrance theme is a good idea).  A mild "Randy, Randy" chant starts and is easily overwhelmed by... let's call it "Indeterminate Crowd Noise," since I can't tell what the sounds is or who it's directed towards.  Only that it's easily louder than the Orton fans.

Randy gets face-to-face with HHH.  HHH rants on the mic some more about doing the right thing, or else, while Randy stands there with a hang-dog look on his face.  Finally, HHH insists that he must have the title belt now, and Orton just nods to himself.  He starts handing the belt over to HHH.  HHH smiles and grabs hold. But Orton doesn't let go: instead, he pulls HHH in close... and spits in his face. HHH goes ballistic and tries to charge at Orton, but Orton hits him in the head with the World Title belt. And then, apparently because they have the reaction time equal to that of Marlon Brando's bloated corpse, Flair and Batista FINALLY decide they might step in and do something about this.  But Orton has enough time to bail out of the ring and scurry over the ringside barrier and into the crowd.  He stops up in the mezzanine level to hold up his title belt and smile broadly (winningly? smugly? YOU make the call) while "Randy, Randy" chants are AGAIN muted out by Indeterminate Crowd Noise.

I'll say this: it's telling that on Randy's first Big Night On His Own, he's booked to not say a single goddamn word. You can't screw up what you don't try! Probably not a bad idea to play to his strenghts!

[ads]

Moments Ago: HHH makes a suggestion Randy, Randy spits in his face and runs away like a coward. Who's the heel again?

Backstage: Victoria is talking to Eric Bischoff about how unfair it is that he's making Lita marry Kane tonight.  Bischoff says "Tough shit," because the wedding WILL go on tonight.... which is when Triple H decides to show up.  Trying with ALL HIS MIGHT to be the heel (as witnessed by a 300% increase in slobbering), he DEMANDS a chance to avenge himself on Randy Orton. So Bischoff folds immediately, and declares that at Unforgiven in 3 weeks, it'll be Randy Orton vs. Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title.  Chris Who?

Brief Visit with Jerry and Jim: They can't believe their ears... Unforgiven has a Huge Main Event! Maybe they talked about Tajiri/Rhyno vs. La Resistance or some Diva Search crap, too.  I don't remember. They eventually shot it back to the ring for....

William Regal (w/ Eugene) vs.

[ads]

William Regal (w/ Eugene) vs. Ric Flair (w/ Batista)

You will recall this match is a result of Regal and Flair have a brass-knucks-laden rendezvous at SummerSlam... out of the gate, Regal controls Flair with all manner of headlocks and arm bars and stuff. It occurs to me that *if* Bret Hart has a point about Flair's ringwork, it's a match like this where it'll be apparent: and it kind of is. Regal's trying to do some smooth-flowing, connected chain wrestling, but Flair just throws and elbow or a chop or whatever to get separation so he can do his spots.  It's nothing really bad, or anything, it's just kind of disjointed-feeling...  Regal's still in command at about the 4 minute mark, when it's decided we need yet another inconveniently timed break for....

[ads]

Back, and the disjointedness is continuing. You get the impression that Regal COULD have done something not unlike what he did to poor Bill Goldberg lo those many years ago, but he restrains himself and works more at the spot-pause-spot-pause-spot pace that Flair's comfortable with.  Again, not a criticism, this just did NOT look like a good Regal match, and because of the ease with which it seemed like Regal COULD control Flair for stretches, not a compelling outing for Flair, either.  The action is so pedestrian that Lawler and King spend the entire time talking about the "Wedding From Hell," with Lawler thinking it's unfair that JR is calling it that (even though every other person on the show, including fellow heel, The Coach,  was calling it that), and making jokes about JR's failed marriages and wedding gifts.  Right up your ally if you think comedy about Sara Lee Wedding Cakes or Biscuits 'n' Gravy Flavored Edible Panties are funny...

Back in the match, Flair has found his comfort zone, which means a lot of chops and finally the Figure Four with an assist from Batista. So Eugene decided to come in and flip Flair and Regal over (reversing the Fig. 4's effects onto Flair), while the ref was distracted by Batista.  Flair made the ropes, and both guys broke the hold and were kind of exhausted.  Outside the ring, Batista attacked Eugene for his interference... and to the rescue is Chris Benoit? From World Champ to sideshow in one easy week! Benoit takes out Batista, and checks on Eugene.  In the ring, the ref is too busy watching the Eugene/Batista/Benoit stuff to notice that BOTH Regal and Flair have pulled out Brass Knuckles.  They get up at the same time, they back into each other... and when they turn around, it's Regal who strikes quicker, landing the Power of the Punch.  Flair's down, ref turns around, counts three, Regal's your winner about 12 minutes into a kind of unusual-feeling match that didn't get on track, in my opinion.  After the match, Benoit helps Eugene into the ring, and kind of mills around wondering what the hell has happened to his career....

[ads]

Coming Soon: Shawn Michaels will return at Unforgiven. Or so sayeth this 30 second clip of HBK highlights...

The SmackDown! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.

Diva Search Blah Blah Blah: Coach and phone numbers, you know the drill.  I don't recap crap.

Backstage: Lita is looking in a mirror, and she's wearing the nice white wedding dress. But she's not a happy bride... she throws something at the mirror, and storms away.

Elsewhere backstage: Kane is WALKING~!  And this time, he's ditched the wrestling gear, and is dressed to the nines.  I have been told by Jeb Lund that if I don't mention that "Kane is dressed like Cab Calloway about to perform 'Minnie the Moocher' in the 'Blues Brothers'," then I'm not allowed to be his friend any more.  So there: Kane is dressed like Cab Calloway about to perform "Minnie the Moocher" in "The Blues Brothers."  The Wedding is NEXT~!

[ads]

It's Not So Funny When You Just Give Up and TRY to Be Funny Theatre

OK, Wedding Time.  The ring looks all nice and pretty, we've got a Preacher Man standing there.  We've got a cello and a piano up on the stage supplying music.  And who's first to enter?

A MIDGET! With really bad eye make-up.  Like he's been taking lessons from what's-her-name from the US gymnastics team (Taryn Humphries, I think... Anderson, dammit, where are you when I need you?!?).  And after him: OH MY GOD, IT'S CHYNA!  Oh, wait... it's just another midget.  Mini-Chyna, though; the resemblance was uncanny. So anyway, it's right here that I realize that WWE has just given up and decided this has to be played for laughs, instead of trying to fight out of the corner they've booked themselves into. The problem is that the entire thing up till now has been UNINTENTIONALLY funny (last week's Diva Bridal Shower excepted), and now they think the can fool us by saying "Oh, it was just campy fun all along." Which it wasn't.

Next out: Kane, in his white tux. And in the lone REALLY COOL TOUCH of the entire segment, Kane comes out to a spooky arrangement of his theme song played on the cello and piano.  He's all smiles.  Until....

Here comes Lita.  The standard Bridal Fanfare/Here Comes The Bride song starts on an organ... but then as soon as Lita steps out, she's changed into a black gown and combat boots, and all of a sudden, the recorded Bridal Fanfare starts hitting some creepy off-chords and an electric guitar mixed in. As if on cue.  Ugh.

So Kane and Lita are finally both in the ring, and the Preacher Man seems to know theirs is not a Standard Relationship.  So he notes there is a man who'd like to say a few words before we proceed. Lita's face says, "Matt Hardy."  The sound guy says "Eric Bischoff." SWERVE~!

So Bischoff (also in white) comes out and makes a reading from a podium on the stage.  If that was really Ephesians 5:25 (or whatever), I'll eat a bug, by the way.  More over-the-top, BLATANTLY fakey camp here...

The minister continues, and says that next, he'd like to let the groom introduce a very special video tribute to his blushing bride. So Kane points at the TitanTron, and we get... well, it's a faux country song with the lyrics "You're Having My Baby" over and over again (clearly, this HAS to be a WWE recording created just for this occasion, it's THAT bad) while clips of past Kane/Lita moments air.  Oy.

The preacher is only just now starting to sense that this relationship is even funkier than he'd been told, and decides to just rush forward to the vows, which Kane and Lita have composed themselves.  Kane's boils down to "You're my property and there's no escape."  Lita's (after some Orton caliber line-fumbling) amounted to "I hate you and hope you die."  Kane actually shook off Lita's bile and started chuckling, encouraging the preacher to continue.

So he did, with the standard "Speak now or forever hold your peace" line... and Lita started looking around, and the crowd clearly wanted either Matt Hardy or Shawn Michaels to get involved... but instead: Trish Stratus?  SWERVE~!

Hey, at least she's half-naked.  Trish says that it's too bad that Lita doesn't even have a maid of honor, so Trish donned some white underthings and came on out to support her friend, Lita.  Trish just wants Lita to know that she can still be happy with Kane. All she's gotta do is open her heart, the same way she opened her legs.  ZING~!  That's enough for Lita, who lunges and Trish, and the two roll around on the ground for about 10 seconds before Kane comes over and lifts Lita off and carries her back to the altar.  Possible plot point: after the physicality, Lita was Holding Her Belly Suggestively.

Kane's had enough shenanigans, and wants to finish the ceremony. He tells the minister to speed it up to the "I do" part.  So first he asks Lita the richer/poorer, sickness/health thing... and she looks around, expecting to be saved, but finally relents with an "I do."  The minister turns to Kane, and asks him the same thing... but before Kane can respond... here's Matt Hardy!  SWERVE~?  I mean, COMPLETELY EXPECTED TWIST OF FATE~!

Lita looks happy, Kane looks pissed and goes to meet Matt... except so far, it's only Matt's music.  So as Kane stands in the aisle waiting, Matt surprises him from behind and even nails a Twist of Fate on the floor.  Then he's up into the ring (altar?), and he grabs Lita so they can get away... but halfway up the ramp a "Wall of Fire" appears on the stage, and Matt and Lita (apparently not the sharpest knives in the drawer) decide that they are trapped (instead of going into the crowd or using the little walkway on the SIDE of the entrance ramp that they use all the time for TV exits).  Oy.  

Kane recovers, and thanks to the Wall of Fire, he gets his mitts on Matt.  Or rather, he gets a big boot on Matt, and then hauls him up to the top of the stage once the Wall of Fire subsists.  From there, he chokeslams Matt off the stage, through some tables on the floor.  And there's your big Write-Out for Matt Hardy, I guess.  Kane grabs Lita by the arm and drags her back to the ring.

Once there, the preacher re-asks the "Till death do you part" question... and Kane is more than happy to answer... "I do."  He kisses the bride, and even carries her away from the altar (as she hangs limp in his arms, obviously not pleased).  They pause to survey the carcass of Matt, and JR and King give us the right level of indignation before we fade to black.

Final Analysis

I won't lie: this wasn't a fun show for me.

On the wrestling side, you had a possibly-good Edge/Jericho match hamstrung by ill-timed ad breaks and by an extremely sloppy and unsatisfying finish.  And Flair/Regal had a cooler finish, but was kind of disjointed getting there.  The wrestling peaked at merely "Good" tonight for the final segment of Edge/Jericho (until the finish).

On the storyline side, you had three big elements, only one of which even came CLOSE to being a hit.  The HHH/Orton bit at least played to Randy's strengths (not opening his mouth and proving to the world he's a moron)... but that's not entirely fair: in so far as Orton had any fans, they were people who liked the disrespectful "Legend Killer" so Randy got SOME of that back by spitting in HHH's face. But then he also ran away like a coward and posed in the audience instead of sticking to fight, so I'm not entirely sure it was totally a hit... more a case of they didn't do anything horribly wrong.  They also did nothing significantly right/positive, but at least Orton didn't torpedo his entire babyface appeal tonight by cutting a shitty promo or anything.  He lives to have his "make or break" another day, which is good because at least he's not broken yet; but it's also unsatisfying because he did nothing tonight to make it, either.  Just treading water, when you break it down. "Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing," indeed.

And what's HHH's logic? You need to do a lot of forgetting and revising to have his spiel make a lick of sense.  If THIS is the way you wanted to tell the Orton/Evolution story, then you needed to have HHH introducing the concept of "you're just softening Benoit up" BEFORE SummerSlam, not doing it retroactively. Oh, but see, if they did that, it wouldn't have been as SHOCKING last week when HHH turned on Orton...  there's ways around all of this, and WWE apparently thought of none of them.  I'll not waste your time by repeating any of them here, either...  it just seems like they are trying to get by on the Orton/HHH storyline with smoke and mirrors, instead of really putting any genuine motivations behind the characters or letting them be true to themselves and true to their strengths.  HHH, to his credit, seemed to sense he needed to do something extra tonight to be the heel, and he brought Extra Slobber to the table.  Good for him... fans hate slobbering, screaming heels!

Then you had the opening bit with the Rock and the Divas: at first, it was kind of cool that Rocky was kind of "hey, I haven't been watching this stuff," (and did you notice, he's kinda like me: he didn't seem to know any of the girls' names, just giving 'em the sort of "baby" or "honey" or "mama" talk when he needed to address them, another surefire sign that the Diva Search is not Entertaining the Rock)... but then, if he knows it's crap, why is he facilitating it being on my screen for 30 minutes?  You cut that segment in half, and it's tolerable and maybe even fun (and probably REALLY helps solve some pacing problems that developed later in the show).  You let it run to that length, and NOBODY wins: the divas are still boring, and the Rock loses some appeal for being a part of it for half an hour.  Maybe the real problem is just that I'd really prefer to see the Rock (or Rock's handlers) putting some effort into making sure he's got material when he goes out there so he doesn't do shit like free-associate and do riffs on pot or semen that aren't actually funny and just waste time and don't have anything to do with anything and are just thrown out there on TV because "Hey, it's the Rock, and if the Rock says it, it becomes instantly 300 times more entertaining."... so yeah, it was the Rock, but guess what? He didn't do anything even remotely useful.  "Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing," indeed.

And the wedding? Look, I realize that on this night, they WANTED it to be campy and funny. But in a major way, that robs the segment of any humor... it was one thing to laugh at how stupid the whole thing was when WWE was TRYING to be serious with the Pregnant Lita storyline.  That was our release valve.  But now they try to throw midgets and comically-bad music videos at us, as if to say, "Ha ha, we meant it as a joke all along, please continue laughing at us"?  Sorry, no sale.

You don't set out to make a b-movie... you set out to make a good movie and you fail and then whatever the present-day-equivalent of "USA Up All Night" (hosted by Gilbert Gottfried) showcases your crap-a-thon to the world and WE decide it's an hilariously bad example of camp.  The second you set out to make an intentionally bad movie, it loses its charm.  Needless to say, the Kane/Lita wedding had very little charm.

So this was a paradigm shift on the presentation side: instead of unintentionally bad, they tried to make it intentionally campy, and it just didn't feel right or natural to do so.  Even worse: the ending they had was just the most predictable and bland possible outcome (Kane and Lita are officially married, but Lita remains a resistant bride), so they OBVIOUSLY put a ton of thought into distracting us from the anti-climax with tons of SWERVES~!.  (Sound and Fury blah blah blah...) Bischoff and Trish really added nothing to the affair, except for the simple fact that they weren't Matt Hardy.  In "WWE Think," this made Matt's eventual appearance more surprising, but I don't think that it really worked out that way...  it just added to an over-booked, under-thought-out feel to the entire segment.  I guess I laughed in a few spots (the sheer badness of the music video, especially), but mostly, I was not amused because it didn't feel natural for WWE to be playing it for laughs; and even if they were playing it for laughs, it just wasn't as funny as they thought it was.

My other big complaint: Whither Chris Benoit? In the haste to do the Orton/HHH story, they've pissed away the chance to give Benoit a decent "exit package" from his reign (which was ANOTHER big part of me wanting to slow down the Orton/HHH split and keep the title on Benoit for another month; you could have positioned Benoit SO MUCH better with a bit more time)...  and now, he's a mid-show sidekick to Eugene, it seems.  So very, very wrong.

Not a happy camper am I...  if this was your idea of a Good Wrestling Show, then we've just got different ideas of Good Wrestling.  There was SOME decent stuff here tonight, not a total crapfest, but there was also too much really bad for me to do anything but end the night with a bad taste in my mouth.

More thoughts and fallout tomorrow in OO, probably....

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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