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Thirty Seconds Over Tucson 
September 21, 2004

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


(Note: this recap was delayed from publication by several hours due to Road Runner Trouble.  Blame Time Warner, not me!  Bastards, for all the free publicity I give to DVR and the number of conversions I've scored for them, you'd think they'd be falling all over themselves to make me happy...  Five Hour Internet Outages do NOT make The Rick happy, though! And this is two or three of them in the past week, now!  In my Best Zell Miller Voice, I hereby Demand Satisfaction~!  Time Warner, put me on the payroll, you assholes!  Or gimme a year of free service!  Or at least make sure I can go more than a day and a half without transient connectivity issues, OK?  You fricking owe me!)

Well, in my strangely-prescient RAW preview yesterday, I said some things that made me look like a genius come 11:07pm (eastern). RAW *was* an all-over-the-place mix of good and bad, and they ARE going forward with Flukey Win Stacy, and they DID screw over Benoit in the name of telegraphing that the fans had better vote for Randy Orton or else.

But for all the familiarity and quasi-predictability of the show, I gotta admit something: I was having a pretty good time with RAW last night. When it was good, it was really good, but even when it was kinda sucky or predictable? Well, it was quick and painless (and in the case of Kane's scenery-chomping, perversely fun), and done with enough gusto that I didn't 

mind. I thought I'd have a Happy Fun Story to tell here in the recap, and I didn't think it'd have anything to do with my rampant insecurities that if I did a Bitchy Preachy Recap, I'd have to deal with even MORE people telling me how much better a recapper Erin is than me and how I should just stick to the analytical columns.  
I honestly was liking the show. I was even mildly surprised that they seemed to be GENUINELY building up Benoit and Benjamin with a great showing in the main event, lending credence to the idea that this Interactive PPV thing might NOT be a joke. 

And then the final 30 seconds happened, and everything that could piss me off about a wrestling show was crammed into that 30 seconds.

So demoralizing.  So very unfair.  But perhaps we can the preamble and we'll get to those (anti-)climactic final moments of RAW in, oh about 8000 words, here, if you give me the chance.... 

No Chance in Hell, and No Time To Waste Theatre

A Cold Open (no theme music, no pyro, no Lawler/JR visit, just straight to the arena), and you know that I'm a sucker for those things... makes it seem like a Big Night right from the Get Go.

And on this night, it's Vince McMahon who comes out, straight away. An expeditious powerwalk to the ring, and a grabbing of a mic, and Vince says he promised a Huge Announcement tonight, and that it will affect everybody on RAW, from the fans to General Manager Eric Bischoff.  So he thinks Bischoff should join him in the ring, and do it pronto.

Out comes Bischoff -- limping and using a cane as a result of Randy Orton's sledgehammer dropping of 3 weeks ago -- and he eventually gets in the ring to hear Vince's announcement.  You see, 2 weeks ago, Chris Jericho had a hell of an idea when he let the fans pick the stipulation in his IC Title match against Christian.  And Vince thinks the fan particiption is something that should be expanded upon. Not just for one match. And not just on RAW.  But on pay-per-view.  And not just any PPV, but a new night for PPV: Tuesday.  So that's why Vince McMahon has set aside Tuesday, October 19, for "Taboo Tuesday," the first ever fully-interactive, fan-booked PPV.
And you could hear a pin drop.  The fans might like the interactivity, but I'm guessing a lot of them are like me: not so keen on having yet ANOTHER PPV to have to pretend to be excited about when WWE can't even make the 12 they've got seem worthwhile.

And Bischoff isn't so keen, either, saying that he doesn't think the fans can be trusted to book a wrestling show.  He tells Mr. McMahon that he doesn't want to trust the fans with that responsibility (and this actually does have the effect of engaging the fans' collective enthusiasm a bit, since they do think they can be trusted).  He asks Vince to shelve the idea, and Bischoff will come up with something better for him in a week.

But Vince says he'll not be sleeping on it. Cuz he likes this idea. And he understands why Bischoff might be against the idea: because as a GM, he'll be essentially powerless at a fan-run PPV. So Vince tells Bischoff not to worry... at Taboo Tuesday, he'll have something for Eric to do.  As an active wrestler!

Bischoff tries to beg off (citing his injured foot), but Vince says that it's too late, and the match is made: Eric Bischoff will face.... his Nephew Eugene.  Well, Uncle Eddie vs. Chavo Jr., it's not.  But I guess it should still be pretty fun, and will play to Eugene's Sports Entertainmenty strengths....  Eugene comes out, and Bischoff tries to talk him out of the match.  He tells Eugene that Vince is just manipulating him, that Vince is trying to drive a wedge between their family. And Bischoff doesn't want to fight Eugene.  Because (sniff) Eric LOVES Eugene.

Eugene seems to buy it, and hugs Eric; behind Eugene's back, Bischoff shoots Vince this evil look, but as soon as he releases Eugene, he's all smiles again.... except Eugene was only joshing!  He slugs Bischoff in the face, and does his Airplane Routine around the ring in celebration.  It seems we've got ourselves a Taboo Tuesday match, afterall!  

The segment closes with some funny Eugene/Vince interaction that was in the class of Little Things That Don't Really Matter Much But Which Really Put A Smile On My Face...  I especially loved Eugene's rendition of Vince's powerwalk done behind Vince's back.

Not a bad opening segment, actually; predictable and anticlimactic in a way, sure, since Vince's "huge announcement" was kind of a bummer for fans expecting something not-lame (and that wouldn't take $35 out of their pockets). But then the Eugene announcement kind of took things in a fun direction, and ended things on an entertaining note.  Although how Vince announcing he's already made a match is supposed to sell a Fan-Booked Interactive PPV is kind of confounding if you stop to think about it.... so let's not do that and just move on, shall we?

Announce Team Visit: just making sure we know what else is coming later tonight, Lawler and JR get some screen time, and hype not only our Six Man Tag Match Main Event, but also a tantalizing Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels IC Title Match!  Hey, now THAT is a reason for me to get excited!  Also, a Lita Update and the Diva Search Announcement; well, it can't all be gold....

Video Package: The Cake of Stupefying Obviousness and all things Orton/Evolution from last week.  I don't recap recaps.  


Trish Stratus and Molly Holly vs. Stacy Keibler and Victoria

And just like this, the Trish/Ivory tag team from a year ago  has been evicted from the top of The Rick's Diva Dream Team Standings.  Viva la Trish and Molly~!  Match was standard fare, but was the canvas for some more quality story development. After Victoria got some good spots in against both Trish and Molly (including, in a nice touch, springing the Standing Moonsault on Trish WITHOUT milking it with the lame and needy Shimmy Shake), but when Stacy decided she wanted in, the tide turned pretty rapidly.  Trish and Molly took turns taking advantage of the over-matched Stacy.  But it was while Molly was having her way with Stacy that she AGAIN got cocky and turned her back.  And Stacy sprung a backslide on Molly out of nowhere, and managed to steal ANOTHER pinfall win over a More Established Competitor.  Maybe all of 2 minutes of action, but they played up the "Stacy is the only woman in the ring to never hold the women's title" and "fluke win" angles, and I think heading into a "fan-booked" PPV, giving the fans a contender to Trish who they actually like as much as the ostensibly-heel Trish is a good idea.  

I mean: BOO to WWE fans for having a problem with appreciating the women on any level besides the Lawler-esque (and Double BOO to Lawler himself for spending this match talking NOT about who might challenge for the prestigious women's title, but about how fans will get to vote on what kinds of outfits the divas must wear at Taboo Tuesday, only FURTHER driving home the superficiality of the division, and making me Ultra Confident that we're about 3 weeks away from having the women's title defended in a fricking Bra and Panties Match).

Last Week: stuff happened with Kane, Lita, and Gene Snitsky. And we'll have an update on the fall-out later tonight.


Backstage: Randy Orton is reading "RAW Magazine."  Why am I not surprised that Orton is the caliber of intellect who actually would get his wrestling information from RAW fricking Magazine?  He's apparently reading about himself, too, which means he's not only reading at the 8th Grade Level, but he's also INCREDIBLY self-involved.  Up walks Vince McMahon, who notes that sometimes life isn't fair, and that Orton's last few weeks have sucked.  Orton puts the magazine down, and says that it's OK, because he knows he'll get a match against HHH again some day, and it's his Destiny (oy, again with the freaking Destiny! HOW ABOUT YOU TELL A FUCKING STORY, WWE, instead of predicting your World Title feud on Orton's non-existent likeability and the fictional story-crutch of Destiny?!?  Goddammit!) to win the title back.  Vince shoots back that the FANS will get to decide who faces HHH next, and that tonight's Six Man Tag Match might be an important showcase for somebody who wants to send a message to the fans about who to pick.  Orton closes with a line about how he'll go out there and impress everybody and end the main event with the "Sweetest Three Letters in Wrestling: R, K, O." Nice continuity/context from Vince suggesting that the main event finish could influence fan voting; but I gotta tell you, at this point, I got REAL nervous that Orton's "RKO" tagline is something the unclever idiots on the creative team thinks could be spun into More Destiny, if you catch my drift....

At Ringside: Superstar Billy Graham and some of his friends and family.  OK, so points to the Rick for getting the story about Superstar being at WWE TV tapings this week.  Points deducted from the Rick for incorrectly assuming it'd be as a guest on the Fifth Anniversary SmackDown....

Snitskymania's Running Wild: More re-re-recappening of Kane/Lita's situation, this time with an emphasis on the role played by Gene Snitsky.  And lo and behold, Snitsky's here, live backstage!  JR grills him about the incident last week, but Snitsky says he's sick of answering questions, cuz he was just out there to do a job.  [Me: No you weren't, and that's part of the problem! Cuz you SHOULD have gotten DESTROYED by Kane and done the cleanest, most-one-sided J-O-B in the history of wrestling!] He is NOT to blame for what's going on with Lita.  Very heelish promo by Snitsky. Also, if I may be so bold: let's just say Snitsky is no Jack Doan when it comes to promo work.  Hell, he's not quite even Randy Orton. But he IS Gene Snitsky, and his name is one that's fun to say!  And also to type!  SNITSKY~!


Live From an Undisclosed Medical Facility: Tough Questions Todd Grisham is standing by outside a door.  Apparently, behind that door, Lita is in Stable Condition and is still Fighting To Keep Her Baby.  Todd will have an update and an interview after this next match.

Hurricane vs. Tajiri

This is the follow-up on something that happened last night on Heat.  Plus 10 for continuity.  Minus several million for thinking any of us watch Heat.  Plus another 7 for a very nice video clip package showing us that last night, Tajiri and Rhyno beat Hurricane and Rosey.  So that's where we stand.  And as I sit here contemplating the Goodness that could be Hurricane vs. Tajiri, I also realize that this suddenly seems like we might be looking at the start of a heel turn if they're turning this into a full-fledged story.  Which is good, since the tag division could use another heel team that ISN'T La Resistance.  So I'm instantly on the look-out for Heel Hints from Tajiri (or Rhyno).

And they never come.  Instead, this is a too-short-to-be-memorable match (d'oh), but with lots of good, rapid action squeezed into 3 minutes.  Hurricane controls the early stages and seems poised to win a couple times, but Tajiri is That Damned Good, and stages a comeback.  For the second match in a row, the finish is a Backslide Out of Nowhere, after they do a nice Triple Reversey deal where Hurricane avoided the Buzzsaw Kick, Tajiri escaped something, and then they ended up in the backslide, with Tajiri getting the pinfall out of nowhere.  Good stuff, but short and with fans not really sure who to cheer for (and thus, a bit flat, heat-wise).

After the match: Hurricane goes out to ringside, and seems VERY pissed off by the loss.  And he snatches his HurriMask away from the kid he'd given it to earlier?  Whoa, cool.  Looks like I guessed right on the heel turn, but wrong on who'd be tapped for it.  Nice dick move by Hurricane; now to see if the superhero gimmick can work as a heel.  Methinks it can.  And anytime RAW gets my "what if?" juices flowing like this, I say that's a good thing...

Live Again From an Undisclosed Medical Facility:  Todd Grisham has gotten his hands on Kane (who, for the first time since that dumb-ass "Dinner With Glen" vignette he did with Shane McMahon a year ago, is NOT inappropriately attired in his wrestling gear in a non-wrestling setting; also missing was the usual lame-ass Kane Lighting Treatment; the overall effect was one of Less Crappy Camp and Slightly More Realism, which I appreciated)....  Kane tells us that Lita's still fighting, but he's just been told by doctor's that there's still only a 50/50 chance of saving his baby. And he's not very happy about that.  Todd -- here to ask the Tough Questions -- simply has to bring up the Gene Snitsky promo in which Gene claimed NOT RESPONSIBLE.  Kane ratchets it up a bit, and says Snitsky whacked him with a chair while he was attending his wife, what did he THINK was gonna happen?  Who else could POSSIBLY be responsible.  And then, Kane assures us: no matter what happens with Lita and the baby, "Snitsky. Is. A. Dead. Man."  Whoa; I have real problems with the whole pregnancy part of this, but Kane was BRINGING IT in this part of the promo'ing, and even I was mouthing along with him for the "Snitsky is a dead man" line and craving the day when the prophecy is fulfilled. It sounded like I wasn't the only one.  Way to address one of my big problems with last week's Kane/Lita crap-a-thon, WWE!  Snitsky will be assassinated live on RAW (or perhaps on a fan-voted PPV?), and The Rick will be sated.... it raises an interesting issue, though: is this a face turn for Kane? We'll discuss in OO tomorrow, perhaps... for now: on with the recap!


Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels (IC Title Match)

I immediately made a note to self: "Is that a new haircut for Jericho?" I was later sure to get confirmation that in fact it IS, as it'd be just my dumbass luck to try to act cool by noticing a detail three weeks after the actual haircut.  The look COULD be really cool (more present-day garage rock, and less 1982 metal), except that Jericho was sporting a very unflattering two-tone effect in the back.  If you care, I also got confirmation that I was right about the unflatteringness of the new haircut, because that's just the kind of diligent reporter I am! But I'm not entirely comfortable sniping about some dude's new hairstyle, so let's move on...  to Christian coming out to sit in on Guest Commentary.  This briefly distracts Jericho and Michaels from the start of the match, but once everybody gets settled in, we're ready to go.

Christian's main thesis: that he's getting screwed over by Michaels stealing his thunder and his IC Title Match, and that furthermore, he (Christian) is not just a "show stopper," he's a damned "Show Stealer." And he's also "Captain Charisma." In the ring, Jericho and Michaels are in a back-and-forth feeling out phase for about 3 minutes.  But then it picks up a bit.  Actually, here is another one of those little notes I made to myself that I really want to mention:  they were doing a REALLY nice job of hitting all the Expected Spots, but doing them in semi-unexpected ways.  Like instead of doing an obvious set-up and showboating, Michaels hit the Macho Man Elbow BAM~! out of nowhere after shoving Jericho off the top on an attempted Superplex attempt.  I might not be explaining this great, but it's a cool thing, and I hope it's a new trend away from milking for crowd reactions and towards more plausibly setting up and pacing a match.  I made this note because it had happened earlier in the women's match (when Victoria did her standing moonsault out of nowhere, instead of prefacing it with the Shimmy Shake), and it was just a cool thing that I continued to notice throughout the night.

Anyway, as the pace picks up, the aforementioned Macho Man Elbow leads into Michaels actually doing some showboating.  He starts Tuning Up The Band, but in this case, it's for a reason: because it motivates Christian to run down to the ring and interrupt the move.  Michaels is distracted, the ref gets involved, and the end result is that Christian is ejected from the arena!  So it'll be Jericho vs. Michaels, one-on-one, the rest of the way out! But Jericho took advantage of the interference and hit Michaels with a shot from behind; but Jericho's also not in great shape himself, so with both guys hurting, let's take some....


Back, and now Michaels is fully in control.  A "moments ago" double features shows us Michaels regaining the edge by back-dropping Jericho to the outside.  Jericho landed hard on his left knee, and that's the body part that Michaels is working as we return.  Of note: Jericho's doing the Babyface in Peril Bit, but the crowd seems VERY vocally behind HBK at this juncture.  But when Jericho fired up and rallied, he did slowly accrue some fans and some chants in the final few minutes of the match, to the point where the crowd sounded about 60/40 in favor of Michaels by the end.  The "Unexpected Delivery of an Expected Move" of this part of the match was Jericho hitting a Lionsault out of nowhere (instead of after the elaborate bulldog, run twice across the ring set-up).  Again, neato, and I appreciated the slightly less-obvious pacing and delivery.  But after Jericho's fire-up, Michaels still had some left in his tank, too, and we went back and forthy for a hot final few minutes.  Again, this is where the crowd ended up seeming more split than earlier.  

End game: Jericho snatches the Walls of Jericho, but The Lovely Miss Tomko ran out, and Jericho had to release the hold before Michaels could tap out.  Jericho hit a sweet (and again, not exactly obvious) Double Jump Dropkick on Tomko to eliminate him.  But as he recovered from hitting that move, he walked right into the (yet AGAIN, not-quite-expected) Sweet Chin Music from a mostly-recovered Michaels.  Michaels draped an arm over Jericho, but now it was Christian's turn for a run in (this time, out of the crowd); he attacked Michaels, breaking up the pinfall.  And now, the ref had no choice but to call for the DQ (of Jericho?  Probably a No Contest, actually) at the 15 minute mark.  Christian and Tomko continued the assault on Jericho and Michaels after the match.

You know what? I was really grooving on this match.  The work was exactly what you'd expect from these two (with the added bonus of the unique pacing/delivery which you could, if you want to listen to JR and King, attribute to how evenly matched, similar, and familiar with each other Y2J and HBK are), and on the storyline side, I even MORE appreciated that this seemed to firm up Michaels' presence in the IC Title picture (instead of having him get shunted back into Kane's bidness).  The finish of the match means Jericho and Michaels have unfinished business (both men secured their finishers, but were interrupted before getting the wins); but Christian was the man who orchestrated both interruptions of the finishers, so he's still in the picture, too. Edge ain't too fare removed from this delectably complicated situation, either! More goodness will come of it, and the Rick was very pleased.

SD! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.... except this re-recap is interrupted about a minute in by Todd Grisham, who says that something is happening, that doctors are rushing into Lita's room, and he'll have another update, after these....


Moments Ago: Doctors did stuff at the hostpital, but we still don't know what. So you'd best stay tuned if you like Crap, cuz I'm sure some is coming.

Backstage: Evolution are confabbing.  HHH doesn't think a fan-booked PPV is a good idea, cuz his world title is too important to be put on the line at random.  But Ric Flair is here for a pep talk, saying they'll go out there tonight and win their six-man match, and then HHH will hold onto his title for ever and ever and ever, amen, because Hunter is the Greatest Wrestler in the History of Time and Space.  

Fifteen Weeks of Suck in a Ten Minute Bag: it looked like they replayed just about the entire Diva Search here, in case anybody out there had successfully excised it from their memory.  Thanks alot, WWE. Christ.  At least I had DVR on my team, and FF'ed the seemingly-very-long nonsense.  DVR is good!  Time Warner, I demand satisfaction, bitches!  Cuz have you ever stopped to think what'll happen if I turn on you and utter the magic word "TiVo" instead?  Cushy job, free cable, something.  Or else~!


Sylvain Grenier vs. Maven

Grenier prefaced with a quick (and utterly generic) anti-America spiel. And lucky for us, despite the many things that Maven is NOT (such as "on TV every week so we have ANY reason to care about him"), one thing he IS is American. So "Yay!"....  this is another Too Fast To Really Count For Much match.  Maybe 2 minutes, top.  Maybe.  The highlight was the start of a Maven rally which included a pair of rapid-fire back-to-back Beautiful High Dropkicks.  The finish was yet another of those Left Field Roll-Ups, as Maven reversed something into a pinning combo, and got the quick pinfall before Rob Conway could get involved and do anything about it.  Like I said, maybe 2 minutes, so nothing as a wrestling match. As a storyline development? Well, maybe if Maven had a tag team partner, we'd be onto something....  Al Snow, maybe?  I dunno, but if somebody steps up with Maven, and if we combine this with a HurriRosey heel turn and a couple other things, this COULD be the start of RAW's tag division shaping up for the first time in a blue moon....  could be interesting (and again, for a throw-away, Heat-tastic match, this got my "what if?" juices going, and as such, it was kinda harmless fun while it lasted).

Still Again At The Undisclosed Medical Facility: Todd Grisham is interviewing an Actual Doctor this time.  Or at least a guy who is dressed like a doctor (but who kinda looks like he might be Todd's older brother, or something).  The doc says Lita is still in Stable Condition and will recover fully. But they've lost the baby.  Kane storms into frame, and grabs an orderly, but then releases him in favor of pounding on furniture and doing some Shatner-caliber over-acting.  His mantra was, "No.... NO!  NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" interspersed with random grunting and moaning.  Eventually he went into Lita's room and fell to his knees at her bedside, almost sobbing.  Lita appears to have been through hell, and is apparently so drugged and/or exhausted that she can't even respond to Kane's tormented cries.  You know, as good as Kane was earlier in the night, this MIGHT have been a tinch too much; angry Kane is good, weepy Kane I'm not so sure about.  But on the upside: the pregnancy part of the storyline is dead, and PRAISE JESUS, it's not a moment too soon.  If there is good to be salvaged with Kane and his relationship with Lita, it MIGHT be able to shine through a bit more now that the asinine attempt at a wrestling pregnancy is finished.  Again: more tomorrow in OO...


Not a Real Commercial: Simon Dean hates fat people! So use the Simon System, and get thin. This is the exact same spot as last week, I think, but on the grounds that it was SO effectively-produced that anybody with a lick of sense just fast-forwarded it, it didn't get recapped, so thus, you get this recap of a replay!  Such as it is.  Honestly: Simon Dean hates fat people.  That's what you need to know about the guy.  At least, so far.  We can only hope there will be a bit more to this gimmick before all is said and done....

WWE Gives Away $250,000 And All I Got Was This Stupid Diva?

It's Diva Search Finals time... hosted by Coach, and out come Carmella The Vapid Playmate and Christy The Red-Headed Spaz to find out who will be the winner, and who goes home and probably still gets a contract because this contest is more fixed than... well, umm, Bob Barker's puppydog, or something?  Sorry, I had nothing there.  Nothing GOOD, anyway....

Coach did some heel mic work to TRY to get the fans to respond positively to the women (saying they've BOTH made an enemy for life out of him by punching him last week, and even invoking the name of Carmella's boyfriend, Jeff Garcia).  Still not much doing here, fanwise... so let's kick it up a notch with Some Trish!

Trish comes out (looking unusually saucy in a cute little dress instead of her standard jeans and self-promoting t-shirt; not that there's a damned thing wrong with the Standard Fare, either!), and announces that it's time to hear from a Real Diva.  Trish ponders what these girls might do with all that cash, and suggests that maybe Christy might invest in some decaf, while Carmella REALLY needs to go out and buy herself a personality!  HA!  Simple, Obvious, Just Perfect.  But then again, you know how easily-aroused I get pretty much anytime a babe goes out and says stuff so witty, so clever, and so RIGHT that it seems it might have been plucked straight out of The Rick's mouth (be it in the form of a Baby Shower of Extreme Comedy, or Molly's Bitching About the Diva Search, or Last Week's OO RAW Recap). So maybe I'm not the most impartial judge available.  Trish further says that whoever wins, she can look forward to more than just the quarter million dollar prize, because next week on RAW, Trish will throw a Victory Party for her.  And "attendance is mandatory," which suggests that we might have ourselves more evil bitchy goodness on the way (somebody tell Gail Kim to warm up the Photoshop~!).  Exit Trish!

Coach takes over, and says it's time to reveal the winner.  This week, it's the WINNER's name in the envelope.  And the winner:  is Christy.  Well, of the two, she's the less-objectionable....  then, in an odd touch, Coach interviews the winner first (Christy is looking forward to a great year with WWE, and won't be hitting the decaf, cuz it's ALL about the energy!), and then gives the LOSER the final word (Carmella, however, doesn't put it to any use, just mumbling something about how "the fans have spoken" even though Coach seemed to be lobbing her set-ups to pull a bit more heelish of an act; Carmella, you can claim the fans "love to hate" you, honey, but from the sounds of things after your Parting Words, they mostly just love to ignore you; NEXT!).  Why, oh why, do I have a sinking feeling that there's a reason Christy was excused first in order to give Carmella the final word?  And why, oh why am I so confident that that reason is that WWE is VASTLY over-estimating Carmella's usefulness?


Chris Benoit, Randy Orton, and Shelton Benjamin vs. Triple H, Batista, and Ric Flair

Out of the gate, it's HHH vs. Shelton, with the announcers doing a really nice job reminding us about the history there withOUT it seeming ham-handed.  Shelton owns HHH, and it's something that was good to be reminded of.  [Not so pleasant on the announce side: they ALSO noted that Benoit also had beaten HHH, and that Orton's the only one who hasn't.  If that was the set-up to Failed Destiny -- which might almost be compelling -- it'd be cool; but instead, you combine this talk and Orton's RKO tagline earlier, and the Rick was having a Very Bad Feeling about this.]

HHH/Shelton go back and forth, and both eventually cycle out.  So it's Benoit and Flair for a bit; and here, it's more back-and-forth (this time in the form of non-stop chops).  Flop #1 was after some SICK chops by Benoit; Flop #2 was all of 30 seconds later, following a Benoit enzuigiri.  From there, Benoit seemed to totally take control, and might have gotten the win, if not for HHH coming in for a save after the Swandive Headbutt.  From there, it's total chaos, as all six men got in the ring (or head out to ringside) to start brawling.  This goes on for a solid minute or two, with HHH and Orton eventually pairing up outside the ring for a fight.  They do a spot where Orton sets up HHH for an RKO on the floor, but HHH escapes out of it, and instead, Orton rushes, full speed, into the K.O.-thesline from Batista.  That gets the attention of the other guys in the match.  Orton is down in a crumbled heap, completely knocked out (and he never even tagged into the match, I don't think).  Benoit and Shelton start calling for medical attention, but Evolution doesn't think this is the exact right time for a Predictable Ad Break, so they send Ric Flair in to attack Benoit from behind. They do a quick spot or two, but then with Flair in control, NOW it's time for our final....


Back, and we've apparently come back JUST in the nick of time.  Less than 10 seconds back, and Benoit gets the Hot Tag to Benjamin after apparently spending the entire break getting his ass kicked.  We also find out that Orton has been carted to the dressing room, and is out of the match.  Wow, may I tell you how excited I became all of a sudden? My entire lingering dread over WWE's Too Obvious Finish dissipated in favor of Naive Faith that we'd actually get a Non-Expected Climax which would actually turn the Interactive PPV Voting into a something other than a foregone conclusion!  Benoit and Benjamin, together, fighting the good fight!  Both making THEIR cases for the #1 Contendership!  YES!  I perk up big time as Shelton tags in and gets a few minutes of offense in (mostly on Flair, as again, this is Yet Another Evolution Tag match in which the group sacrifices Flair so that the other guys don't have to sell for anyone).  But then Flair got a tag in to Batista, and Benjamin's rally ended.  He got his ass handed to him for 5 minutes or so before hitting the Second Hot Tag of the Match to Benoit.  

Crowd's super hot for Benoit's hitting about a half-dozen Germans in a row on anything that moved, and then Benoit seemed ready to win with a Crossface on Flair (the legal man).  HHH broke that up, and so Benoit kicked his ass for a bit, and dispatches Haitch.  Now back to the legal man: a Sharpshooter for Flair.  But Batista breaks that up with a Spinebuster to Benoit.  But then Benjamin comes in and Crazy Ass Clotheslines Batista out over the top rope (taking himself out at the same time, in Foley-esque style).  Benjamin and Batista are down in a heap outside the ring.  HHH is out in a heap on the other side of the ring.  Flair is hurting REALLY bad.  Benoit is just getting to his feet and is alone in the ring with a fully decimated Ric Flair.  So what do YOU think happens next?

If you picked "Randy Orton sprints out to the ring, showing no ill effects from a clothesline that was bad enough to knock him out, blind tags himself into the match when Benoit stumbles too close to his own corner, and then hits a completely superfluous RKO on a 55-year-old man who'd spent the last 3 minutes getting his ass kicked by Benoit, and then scoring the pinfall win for his team and making The Rick listen to his shitty music to end the show," then you are a winner!  Because that's exactly what happened!  Orton preened and posed at the conclusion of a decent little 15 minute main event that unfortunately had a finish that I think almost EXACTLY failed to accomplish anything constructive. And Orton doesn't share any of the glory with the guys who did all the work; final shot before fade-out is Nothing But Randall.

More thoughts/fall-out tomorrow in OO!


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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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