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This Recap is Rated TV-MA 
August 30, 2004

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


I really got nothing to say.  I mean RAW was better than last week, but not by a wide enough margin to get me really fired up in a good way.
Basically, they got rid of MOST of the total crap, leaving me also without too much to bitch about. It was a show that doesn't inspire me to rant, nor to rave. It's a show that was a tolerable use of 2 hours of my night, but which was mediocre enough all around that the only thing we'll remember from this night won't be anything to do with Randy Orton's 

Continuing Break Through. Rather, it'll be the foul mouths of the Diva Search Contestants.

That's probably not the kind of memory WWE was setting out to make, but well... I'll refrain from bitching TOO much. Afterall, "better than last week" is still a step in the right direction.

Here's how it went down:

Video Package: Last week, Evolution did this, Randy Orton did that.  I don't recap recaps.

Opening theme, but there's no chance to really visit with JR and the King, because we have been interrupted by...

The Truth About Evolution

Here come Triple H, Ric Flair, and Batista, and they're out to "Theme from Evolution" by Motorhead. Which bodes ill for Randy Orton's ring entrance. They get in the ring, and HHH gets on the mic, and wastes no time getting to the point: we're not to make any mistake, and what we see in the ring RIGHT NOW is Evolution, because Triple H made Evolution, and nobody else made Evolution, so THIS is Evolution.

You got Ric Flair, and HHH takes credit for reminding Flair how to be the "Nature Boy" and resuscitating his career thanks to creating Evolution.  You got Batista, and HHH takes credit for molding and polishing that raw piece of meat into an Animal thanks to creating Evolution. And then there was Randy Orton, the man HHH wanted to be his successor, to take over as the best in the business once HHH was done. But that time hasn't come yet, oh no. And last week, when HHH asked one little favor of Orton, Orton didn't show respect for the man who made him and took him from curtain jerker to superstar... Orton spat in his face, instead. And that's not right. So HHH declared that Randy Orton should come on out here right now, like a man, and face the consequences of his actions.

And sure enough: Randall's been listening, and decides to come on out. He's accompanied by a couple things of note: first, a bunch of dudes bringing out covered pictures on easels. ["Why," I wondered, "don't they just use the Titantron, since people could see the images lots better?" And then I decided it was probably because either Orton feels safer with props, or because they wanted shit they could auction off this week.] And second, he's accompanied by new music. I'll say this: at least it's not that god-awful Mercy Drive song from 2 weeks ago. It actually starts out with the tried and true staple of an 8-beat drum crescendo and a derivative (of Velvet Revolver's first single) but semi-rocking riff.  Sadly, it's also horribly produced in that crap metal kind of way, so the drums and guitar don't sound like real drums and guitars should sound.  

And don't even get me started on where things go once the vocals kick in... more over-production (with that fakey reverb/echo thing), but also just the most embarrassingly patronizing lyrics.  I swear I am not making this up: "Hey, there's nothing you can say / Nothing's gonna change what you've done to me / Now it's time to shine / And take what's mine." Or something close to it; again, the way the song is produced (obnoxiously) made the words REALLY stand out (in a way opposite of how I don't, to this day, have any idea what is being said in Kane's entrance theme), and even on two listens, the only thing that bludgeoned me over the head is that they need to get an instrumental version of this PRONTO.  It's like guys even DUMBER than Randy Orton tried to come up with some Anthem for Revolt and Breaking Out As A Superstar, and THIS is what we got.  How long'd it take to come up with this, 37 seconds? Or maybe two minutes, if they axed their first attempt, which was "Hey, his name is Randy Orton / He used to be in Evolution until recently / Now he's on his own / And it's time you cheer for him"? [Go ahead, sing those with Randall's theme next time; they fit... and yes, there's a reason why I shut up and play guitar and bass: cuz I know I can't write lyrics. Want me to write a 10 paragraph essay eloquently and clearly explaining the virtues of a sunset or Molly Holly? Fine, I'll write up a storm. But using rhymes and oblique imagery in lyrics and poems and that shit?  Just not the way my brain operates.  Doesn't mean I can't spot crap when I see it, though. And Orton's lyrics are quarter-assed tripe if ever I've seen it.]

Back to the promo: Orton's out with his three mystery easels, and the first thing out of his mouth is "Hey, HHH, don't call me Randy Orton. Call me Champ!" And he hits this total asshole smile which didn't seem right to me.  San Francisco agreed, and after giving him a babyface pop at first, booed his unlikeableness.  Then he settled down and started winning 'em over with a less-bumbling-than-usual verbal effort: he does credit HHH with giving him an opportunity, but also says that HHH got something out of Evolution, it wasn't just all about him helping out the other three guys.  Orton goes to Mystery Easel #1, and uncovers a picture of Evolution making a ring entrance, with HHH front and center.  Orton says Evolution was always about supporting HHH and protecting HHH. And he also says that some day, Flair and Batista will realize this and detach their lips from HHH's ass.  Big pop, and indignation from Flair!

HHH calms Flair down and says if anybody took advantage of the numbers game in Evolution, it was Orton, cuz he never would have gotten where he is today without Evolution's help.  So Orton goes to Mystery Easel #2, which has a picture of Orton pinning Benoit at SummerSlam. Orton reminds us that Evolution was nowhere to be seen that night, and he did it all by himself.  He realized then that he could make his own decisions, and didn't need Evolution's help. And one of those decisions: let's go to Mystery Easel #3, which includes a picture of Orton spitting on HHH. [The hilarious freeze-frame HAD to have been photoshopped to increase the size and visibility of the loogie; cuz it looked less like HHH had been spit upon and more like he'd... well, let's keep it civilized and say it looks like he might have joined Lillian Garcia at her alleged place of alternate employment, if you happen to believe the Rock.  Sperm humor: get used to it! It's apparently WWE's new bread and butter... just you stay tuned till the Diva Search Segment!]

This sends HHH into a rage, and Orton seemed to play into it by saying "Sure I'll come down there, and we'll fight." And Orton even intends to do it right now.  But wait: HHH has brought some friends. So maybe Randall will bring a friend of HIS own with him: he reaches behind Mystery Easel #3 and pulls out a sledge hammer (so is THAT why they didn't just use the TitanTron? Lame).  Randy heads to the ring to a big pop and "Randy, Randy" chants, as he seems to have won 'em over (me? I'm too busy having fun chuckling at the fact that Orton decided for some reason that he needed to take off his shirt to get into a fight, but was actually LOSING the battle to French cuffs for a few heart-stopping seconds).  He takes a couple swings at HHH and Evolution, but they dodge and eventually scatter.  Play Randy's new music again!

Meantime, Some Business: JR and King didn't get to talk to us before, but now they want to fill us in on some scheduled matches tonight while Orton preens for his fans.  Like HHH vs. Eugene in a No DQ match, Benoit vs. Flair, and also Edge as a guest on the Highlight Reel. So stay tuned!


Backstage: Eric Bischoff confronts Randy Orton, and reminds him that General Manager outranks Champion. So Bischoff puts his foot down and announces that he doesn't want Orton messing in Evolution's business during tonight's matches, so he's kicking Randy out of the building. Also: Bischoff would like Orton's sledgehammer. If you can't finish the punchline yourself, you are dumb.  You're dumb?  OK: Orton stood there, holding out the sledge for about 5 seconds for "dramatic effect" and then dropped it on Bischoff's foot.  Bischoff oversold it in comedic fashion.

Rhyno/Tajiri vs. La Resistance and Jonathan Coachman (Handicap Match)

Rhyno and Tajiri are out first, and I BARELY have time to notice that they have a new joint entrance video (still Rhyno's theme, but Tajiri's in the video, now, which bodes well for their long-term prospects, right?) before La Resistance and Coach attack from behind while they're still on the entrance ramp.  Tajiri is tossed into the ring steps, Rhyno's just tossed into the ring, and thus, the match can "officially" begin.

And what an odd match it was: Tajiri never tagged in the whole time, it was just Rhyno getting his ass kicked for about 3 minutes (including the shittiest looking slap ever from Coach) as the victim of numbers.  Then he kind of made a comeback, but it was disjointed because I think Coach missed a cue, and Conway and Grenier had to re-do a spot where they shoved Tajiri off the apron but then got pounded down by Rhyno. On the second time they did that, Coach got into the ring, and Rhyno did a little thing with him, ending in a Gore.  But the distraction was enough to allow La Resistance to recover enough to grab Rhyno by surprise and hit him with their Au Revoir finisher.  Right idea with the finish, I think, but this just never got on track at any point during its four minute life span.


Low Content Segment Part 1: JR and King talk briefly and then kick it to a video package of last week's Wedding From Hell.  I don't recap recaps.

Low Content Segment Part 2: Kane (complete with Spooky Lighting) pokes his head into a side room and tells some Mystery Person to not come out till he calls, because he wants to surprise his wife.  Okey-doke.

Low Content Segment Part 3: Also backstage, William Regal is giving Young Master Eugene a talking-to...  Eugene -- despite attempting to get the Cheapest of Heat with a Barry Bonds jersey, a Giants hat, and an enthusiastic telling of how he and Regal watched Bonds' admittedly-bad-ass performance the night before on ESPN -- is met with a mixed response, it sounds like. Regal has a point: he doesn't want Eugene to come out to the ring (Eugene interrupts by mimicking a baseball umpire's "OUT" call, Regal says "Out, yes, just like the baseball game last night" and continues) for Regal's match against Batista.  He wants Eugene to stay in the back where it's safe (Eugene interrupts with the umpire's "SAFE" call, and this time, Regal just does a perfect little "I walked right into that" face before ignoring it and moving on).  Because Evolution is still trying to get the better of Eugene, and later on tonight in his match against HHH, Eugene will find out that they're just doing the handiwork of Uncle Eric, because he's trying to strike Eugene down.  On that odd choice of a line, Regal seems convinced that Eugene knows enough to stay put, and heads to the ring. And again, if you didn't see the punchline coming from a mile away, I pity you: Eugene does an elaborate "STEEEE-RIKE" call to mild laughs. 


William Regal vs. Batista

A match not unlike last week's between Regal and Flair, as neither guy seems particularly well equipped to do mesh well with Regal. Remind me sometime to explain how I had reason to re-watch the infamous Regal/Goldberg match over the weekend, and how it (a) wasn't nearly as dramatic as I'd remembered it (I hadn't seen it in at least 5 years) and (b) wasn't unlike the match against Flair the week before in the sense that Regal's offense looked "real," but when he gave it up to Flair, it looked choreographed.  At least this week, Batista seemed willing to match Regal's stiffness, and pounded away good and hard and gave as good as he got.  So ended up being about 4 minutes of back-and-forth fists and strikes, but still not with any real flow, since Batista couldn't match Regal's attempts at chain wrestling.  Then Regal finally got on a semi-roll (a suplex, and then a knee to the head, at least), and Batista seemed frustrated.  So he rolled outside, and grabbed a chair.  While the ref was distracted with that, Ric Flair ran out, and punched Regal in the gut with a pair of Brass Knuckles.  Regal stumbled backwards, and walked right into Batista's K.O.-thesline.  Batista wins by pinfall.  Less than 5 minutes.  Again, a solid finish, but the match was only nominally better-put-together than the handicap match.

At the Republican National Convention: 30-something Shawn Michaels (looking 100% healthy, when I thought for sure they should have re-introduced him to TV in a still-injured state to milk his feud with Kane as long as possible), 40-something Ivory, and 50-something Linda McMahon talk about the importance of the Under-30 vote.  The ironing is delicious.  Shawn, at least, tries to go meta-style by talking about talking about voting ("these things I say, I know they are patronizing clichés, but they are also true, so vote!").


Diva Search Nonsense (Warning: This Section Rated TV-MA)

I didn't watch crap, I wasn't gonna recap crap.  But I swear, I checked e-mail probably all of 20 minutes after RAW was done, and already there were four people saying "OMG~! That was the greatest Diva Search segment ever!", so I decided to quickly go back and re-watch before turning my attention to Letterman.

And christ people, if I'd known that blowjob humor is all you needed to be entertained, I'd have busted it out long ago! What the hell was the appeal of that segment to you?  To me, it was basically what I assume Jerry Spring is on a daily basis.  And there's a reason I don't watch that shit: because I want to retain my naive faith in the basic wit and intelligence of the human race.

I won't recap, per se, but I'll hit the Shocking Highlights, just because if you HAVEN'T seen RAW, you wouldn't believe the depths to which they sank here.

First, the segment was hosted by Stacy Keibler, and she quickly introduced the five remaining girls and eliminated one of them with the Envelope of Doom.  I don't remember her name, but the four remaining are: The Vapid Playmate, The Obnoxious Red Headed Spaz, The Mom, and One Other Girl. So you figure out who was eliminated (also note: she hugged the three non-Playmates on her way out, but gave Carmella the double bird. Whee!  I hereby rename it the Eliminated Diva Stunner!). Then Stacy says it's immediately time for tonight's competition: it'll be Diss the Diva, and all four girls will get 30 seconds in which to mock the other three.  For some reason, they actually bring a referee out for this.

What follows is maybe mildly surprising, given that this is basic cable, and WWE just got done portraying itself as a responsible citizen with the "SmackDown! Your Vote" piece... but in essence, the 3 non-Playmates only briefly rip on each other. For all of them, the goal was to get to Carmella and say Highly Inappropriate Things.

First Girl: said Carmella was only in it for the money, and also opined that her vagina was likely quite roomy from overuse (exact quote: "Your gap is so wide you could drive a truck up in there").  Second girl: said Carmella doesn't know shit (bleeped) about WWE and doesn't respect the company or the fans, and that there's more to getting this job than having a cock in your mouth (hilariously, in this exchange, "cock" was not bleeped, but "mouth" was).  Third girl: got in Carmella's face and declared that she was a "cum-sucking gutter slut" (my guess; the part that looked like "cum-sucking" was bleeped, but I'm almost 95% sure I got it right).

Carmella's limply-delivered retorts included: making fun of The Other Girl for being a FAILED Playboy model, telling The Mom that going on TV and "talking shit" (bleeped) was a great way to set an example, and then oddly, telling the Red Headed Spaz "I hope you win, if I don't."  Weird.  I'd say and alliance had been formed, except the Red Headed Spaz was the one who turned around and called Carmella a cum-sucking gutter slut.

Then they danced around and Stacy read the phone numbers for each of 'em. All I can say is not a one of them has done anything to distinguish herself as any more appealing than the rest. You can write in and say you enjoyed this segment, but really, all this proved is that all four of the remaining contestants share an eight-grader's fascination with various blowjob-related euphemisms.  And if that's the level of your wit and smacktalk, please, just advance to Springer, Do not pass Go, and Do not befoul my TV ever again.

I've got nothing against the dirty talk, and on the grounds that my audience has GOT to be all over the age of 14 and has probably heard and used these words and many more, I don't really have a problem parroting what WWE let go out over their airwaves. It's not that I was mortified hearing these words on my TV, and I can only trust you weren't, either. But there really is a time and place for everything. And sinking to these depths and expecting me to accept it as the height of wit and cleverness on my wrestling show is NOT the time nor the place.  It's more disappointing than offensive, really.

Backstage: Kane collects Lita and herds her towards the ring. They pass Trish Stratus and her Loyal Valet, the Lovely Miss Tomko, and Trish turns to Tomko and says (purposely loud enough for Kane to hear), "Oh, look, they're just like a real married couple already: he's taking out the trash."  Much funnier than anything the diva hopefuls came up with, in my humble estimation!  But Kane's not pleased... or is he? He moves quickly towards Trish, then goes nose to nose with Tomko when he steps in.  Then he starts chuckling and tells Trish, "HA, that was a good one!".  See, Kane knows the Funny!


Please Welcome The Happy Couple...

Kane and Lita are out, and I guess it's just for Kane to do some talking and surprise Lita.  In that chuckling way of his, Kane talked about Lita being his "favorite piece of property," and thanked her for the lovely honeymoon, and mostly for her greatest gift to him of all: a womb for his offspring.  But Kane also announces that he got a gift from GM Bischoff, and it's an open contract for any match he wants at Unforgiven.  He makes no announcement about his choice, but instead notices that Lita seems sad.  Missing Matt Hardy, probably...

So Kane decides it's time for his surprise: Matt is laid up in a hospital somewhere, but Kane has flown in the entire Hardy Family to cheer Lita up. He calls them down to the ring, and it's four guys with varying levels of resemblance to Matt (on the bottom rung is a fat Samoan Hardy).  Kane introduces them (Pat, Nat, Rat, and... duh, again, if you didn't hit the punchline WELL before it was delivered, well, you probably liked the Diva Search Crap this week... the Samoan one was "Fat Hardy"), and has them all say "Hi" to Lita before announcing that now he'd like to all to meet the same fate as Matt Hardy.  At which point a bell rings, and I guess this is a match....

Kane vs. the Fake Hardys (4-on-1 Handicap Match)

Kane decimates the four fakes, and chokeslams one of 'em for the win in under a minute.  Pointless.

But then the important stuff picks up again, as Lita grabs a mic and announces that she knew about GM Bischoff's gift already. And also announces that it's time that Kane know about Joint Ownership. That contract isn't HIS, it's THEIRS. So Lita took the liberty of signing Kane up for a match at Unforgiven, already.  Kane acts confused, since Matt's in the hospital. But Lita says she didn't put Matt's name on the other line:  she put Shawn Michaels' name.  HBK vs. Kane at Unforgiven!  Suddenly the Healthy HBK appearance in the convention bit makes sense!  Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!  Lita's music plays and she exits alone, while Kane looks vaguely put-out in the ring.


Chris Benoit vs. Ric Flair

Benoit, ever the crafty devil, was actually watching the show earlier, and asks the ref to check Flair for Brass Knucks. And sure enough, the ref finds them. As Flair acts indignant, Benoit begins the wrestling match by chopping the hell out of Flair and in general being a bad-ass.  I think he had the Crossface locked in in less than 90 seconds.  But Flair got a rope break, but kept on having his ass handed to him for another minute or two (including Flop #1) until he was able to hit a chop block and start going after Benoit's knee.

Flair only got a minute or so on offense. Then Benoit began the comeback (again with chops, and another Flop in here, too). Benoit tried to finish up with a Swandive Headbutt, but Flair dodged it. When Flair tried to follow-up, Benoit immediately reversed it into the Hat Trick of German Suplexes. And then, just to be a dick, he locked Flair into the Sharpshooter (and somewhere, Bret Hart might actually have cracked a smile).  But just as Flair was about to tap out, Batista ran out and broke it up.  Benoit's your winner after about 6 minutes; short but the first decent match of the night.

After the match: Batista continued pounding on Benoit, culminating in a powerbomb. It's important to note that Batista has left both Regal AND Benoit KO'ed. It figures in later on.


The Highlight Reel 

Jericho's already in the ring as we join him. He's not here to wonder about whether Edge dropped him crotchfirst into the ropes last week, or if it was just an accident. Because the important thing is that they settle this feud, and that means Edge coming out here RIGHT NOW to answer Jericho's challenge to a match at Unforgiven for the InterContinental Title.  Jericho lays it on a little thick with the "You'll accept my challenge unless you have some ricockulous excuse" talk, kind of telegraphing what was to come...

And what was to come was Edge limping slowly out to the ring on crutches (and for a guy who once joked that Christian needed to give Trish Stratus back her jeans, Edge is sure sporting an oddly-cut pair of jeans his own self; not to mention boots with nice 2 inch heels). He eventually made it into the ring, and declared that Jericho was an asshole for issuing his challenge when he knows full well that Edge tore his groin over the weekend and won't be wrestling at Unforgiven. Also: Edge isn't so sure they have unfinished business, cuz afterall, Edge pinned Jericho 1-2-3 at SummerSlam.  Jericho turns the tables and says "Ah, SummerSlam, where your hometown fans booed you out of the building and chanted my name."  The live RAW crowd picks up the cue, and starts a chant of their own. But Edge is unfazed. He responds with, "You can have your puppets, Chris, and you can win the popularity contest. I don't care. Cuz I'll just keep winning the wrestling matches."  ZING~!

Jericho then decides to shift gears again and questions the severity of Edge's injury.  He knows Edge is really hurt, but how badly? If Jericho turns his back, will Edge grab one of his crutches, "do a Canadian jig," and bash Jericho in the head with it?  Edge admits Jericho's right to question him, cuz he's "full of surprises." But this time, he's telling the truth and has the MRI to back him up. And he realizes that whatever there is between him and Jericho, it needs to be settled, and he'll do it face to face, mano y mano, as soon as he's healthy.  Sounds like a promise for a Match At Some Later Indeterminate Time.  And Edge wants to seal the deal with a handshake.  Jericho looks suspicious, but accepts.  And they shake without incident, and Edge manages to slide out of the ring.

And THAT is when we get our Incident: while Jericho's keeping an eyeball on the retreating Edge, CHRISTIAN is out to attack him from behind!  Christian puts a vicious beat-down on Jericho, culminating in using one of the Highlight Reel chairs to whack Y2J in the noggin. The whole time, he's shooting grins at Edge. But Edge is just slowly retreating and looking confused.  JR and King don't know what to make of this. They seemed to go out of their way to NOT suggest Edge and Christian were in cahoots (in fact, even after Christian was smiling at Edge, King kept acting like it was possible that Christian might be planning to run up the ramp to attack Edge next), which is, of course, Smark Fan Double Reverse Psychology proving... well, proving nothing.  Just watch again next week, idiots.  This was a really well-done segment: Edge matched Jericho on the mic, and Christian's return paints him as a big time singles star, and NOT as Tyson Tomko's tag partner (which is something I'd feared).


Official Theme Song Plug: Saliva's "Survival of the Sickest" is the official theme song of Unforgiven. I mentioned that I was surprised how much I liked the tune a few weeks ago... today, I use this as an excuse to point out fundamental similarities in the choruses of this song and Orton's new theme song.  Except that one is substantially less silly-sounding.  Saliva's track sounds like it was recorded by someone who understands what drums and guitars should sound like, and I also couldn't really make out the lyrics, so if they're dumb, they're at least obscured.

Trish Stratus/Gail Kim vs. Victoria/Nidia

Nidia started, and was quickly made into Your Face In Peril. Trish was keeping it fairly simple in her first TV match in 2 months, but Gail was looking sharp with two MORE new submission moves (including one that looked like a modified Sharpshooter).  But Victoria was always able to save Nidia, and eventually events conspired to allow Nidia to make the hot tag to Victoria.  In her house afire routine, Victoria managed to send Trish out of the ring and to the floor, leaving only Gail Kim to deal with.  Just as Gail was threatening to regain the advantage the Red Wigged Mystery Woman appeared on the stage, and started coming to the ring (stumbling and falling halfway there).  This distracted Gail, and Victoria was able to roll her up for the cheap win.

After the match: the Mystery Woman evaporated, and it sure looked to ME like Trish was having some words with Gail. But the cameras and announcers decided to ignore that little dynamic. I've been advocating Gail going face for a while now, but I also think it should be Molly who turns her, so....  eh, I'll rant on that another time.


SmackDown! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.

Unforgiven Hype: Pretty much the matches you'd expect to hear about (HHH/Orton, Kane/HBK, La Resistance/Rhyno&Tajiri, Trish/Victoria). Don't remember if they officially announced Jericho/Christian, but you can practically bank on that, too. An odd match they DID announce: Chris Benoit and William Regal vs. Batista and Ric Flair.  I guess it kinda makes sense given tonight's booking, but how sad is it that Benoit is having to settle for a spot on the show that would much more logically filled by Eugene?  It kinda made me wonder if they were telegraphing that Eugene would be brutally injured afterall, in the main event No DQ Match....  cuz otherwise, this feels like Benoit's being shoe-horned into taking sloppy seconds.

Backstage: Eric Bischoff is icing his injured foot, when in walks Tough Questions Todd Grisham.  First question is not so tough: just a standard "How's the foot?"...  Bischoff doesn't think this is funny, and says he's in great pain, and it's all Randy Orton's fault, so next week, he's making a match: Randy Orton vs. Kane. NOW the Tough Questions kick in, as Todd follows-up with, "Really? Is it possible that maybe HHH and Evolution exerted undue pressure on you to get that match made?"...  But Bischoff denies that charge and says the only thing between him and HHH is that they both hate Eugene, and coming up next, HHH will take care of Eugene once and for all.


Triple H vs. Eugene (No Disqualification)

Little bit of chain wrestling to start, and JR and King reprise the "He's doing it all on instinct, just mimicking what he's seen on TV" riff from when Eugene had his match against Benoit.  Crowd? Well, there are healthy "Eugene" chants, but then they get met by a slightly less-raucous "Eugene Sucks" chant, so....  well, they seemed to all be in line by the end, so maybe it's not a big deal.

After Eugene looked good in his "instinct/chain wrestling" mode, HHH turned the tide with a low blow (stopping, in a nice touch, to ask the ref, "It's No DQ, right?" before proceeding with the Nad Stomp right in front of the official.  HHH took it outside, and used the ring steps and stuff to fully utilize the No DQ rule.  But it WASN'T No Count-Out, so in another nice touch, he kept on breaking the count. I likes it when a match sticks close to its own internal logic.

Eugene eventually started "Hulking Up" after HHH slammed his head into all four turnbuckles.  Eugene fired up with a series of punches, hit the Rock Bottom, and was even getting ready to bust out the Eliminated Diva Stunner... but HHH short-circuited the comeback, and before long had Eugene in a sleeper hold.  Or maybe it's a choke? But there's nothing the ref can do about it, either way. No DQ.  Despite strong chants for him, Eugene is fading fast.  Before the ref can check the arm three times and award HHH the match by submission, however, HHH breaks the hold.  Because he's got something else in mind.  He pulls up Eugene's carcass for a Pedigree, and now he could win by pinfall.  But again, after teasing, HHH gets up and doesn't take the win.

Instead, he goes outside and grabs his sledgehammer from under the ring. HHH gets back up in the ring, and just as he's about to swing the sledge, Randy Orton (now sans pants, as well as sans shirt; why he'd change into his wrestling gear when he'd been banned from the building is a mystery we'll never solve) materializes from NOWHERE to stop HHH.  In a brief brawl, HHH dominated early, but Orton came back, and eventually got possession of the sledge. He gave HHH one blow to the tummy with the sledge, and then had a Moment of Crisis.  He looked at the sledge.  He looked at HHH.  Sledge.  HHH.  And he tosses the sledge down.  Respect for his old mentor?  Nope!  It's just that Randy wants to finish the job with his own hands and an RKO.

After the RKO, Flair and Batista finally arrive on the scene, but Orton grabs the sledge again and waves it in their general direction to keep them at bay.  After about 30 seconds of this, he's struck by a notion: as he waves the sledge at Evolution with one arm, he uses his other to grab Eugene and haul him on top of HHH.  I guess that one RKO about a minute ago was more than enough punishment, cuz the ref counted three and Eugene is your surprise winner via pinfall. Eugene wins the match, but Orton and the sledgehammer celebrate to HIS new music to close out the show.

Final Analysis

Well, it was better than last week.  It almost HAD to be.  But anytime you've got stuff as soul-sappingly bad as the Diva Search thing, and when two of your matches misfire, you're not exactly hitting a grand slam, either.

But they nudged the wrestling/entertainment ratio in the right direction, I thought both Benoit/Flair and HHH/Eugene were good "TV Standard" matches (i.e. both under 10 minutes, but fun while they lasted), and probably my favorite segment of the night was the Highlight Reel where Jericho and Edge were both effective in back-burnering their issue due to Edge's injury and where Christian's return was handled PERFECTLY so as to front-burner him back into yet another PPV match against Jericho.  So there was stuff to actually get excited about this week.  Which is a nice change from the preceding episode.

I still have these vague misgivings over the way RAW has their roster aligned. But as two hours of entertainment, this was a tolerable enough edition of RAW. It's also a show that had enough holes that SD! should (with ease, even) be able to best RAW this week, even if only on the strength of Eddie/Kurt Best of 3 Falls. But I'll refrain from bitching TOO much on the grounds that at least they took some baby steps in the right direction after last week...

And folks: I want MAJOR brownie points for resisting the urge to make jokes about how Orton came to the rescue of his Intellectual Equal and what a great tag team he and Eugene would make!

I'll save those for another time.  Perhaps tomorrow (with more news and RAW fall out and other good stuff) in OO.  See you then....


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