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Criticism Killer 
September 28, 2004

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


You know, I'm a big enough man to admit that sometimes, I am wrong. And sometimes, I even LIKE being wrong...
Like when I predicted every possible undesirable outcome for tonight's RAW; I didn't necessarily WANT them to come to pass. But looked at where we'd been the last few weeks, and extrapolating out to where we're going? They seemed reasonable to expect. But instead, we have possibly Randy Orton's Greatest Night of Work Ever; not just a killer  

promo, but also, storyline-wise, a REMOVAL of Randy from the #1 Contender Voting for which he'd been so overtly telegraphed as WWE's desired pick to win that it was painful to watch the ham-handedness of it all.

Now, was it a show that really flowed from recent weeks?  Not totally; I mean, as good as it was, that Flair promo came out of left field, and SHOULD have been part of a much better-told, long-arcing story, and maybe ALSO shouldn't have been as quickly dismissed without milking it more (which is what they did with the main event finish). But that doesn't take away from the intensity, the believability, the get-on-the-edge-of-your-seat-ness, and the I-wonder-what-happens-next-ousity of it. Even if for only one night, Randy Orton had a mic in his hand, and made me think there's something going on inside that pretty little skull of his, that there's a real person in there. And that, my friends, is something that he's never really done before, not even in the Foley Feud.

And this thing with Orton being eliminated from Fan Voting at Taboo Tuesday? Well, in this case, instead of looking back, I look forward, and I'm not sure that move flows well. The foursome that Bischoff picked were kind of odd, anyway, and now, you're left with three considerations: (a) that WWE might have taken Orton OUT of the mix, but they did nothing to promote any of the other three guys IN the mix (Benoit worked Heat, Michaels doesn't even belong as he's in the IC mix, and Edge was absent), so what's left is like picking among Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, and Pat Buchanan and as much fun as it might be to have Ross Perot for President (I voted for him once!) and as much fun as it might be to have Chris Benoit again fighting for the World Title, it isn't the same now because he's been clearly portrayed as a third-class candidate and on top of that he WON'T EVEN GET THE BENEFIT OF BEATING ORTON IN THE VOTING because they pussed out and took the chance to vote Orton down OUT of our hands, or (b) by some later contrivance, Orton will be back in the voting.  Neither one of those is a particularly compelling option heading into Taboo Tuesday, but again, for just one night, it was just incredible fun to sit there and see WWE making smart moves, surprising moves, and to have it all coalesce into one night that I have, in partial honor of Young Randall Orton, The Criticism Killer.

It didn't totally un-do the crimes of the past few months; it might lead to more crimes against logic and good sense in the near future. But for one night, goddamn, did WWE ever slap together a show that shut my sass-mouth; and goddamn did the talents ever step up and take that good material and really sell it.  Even Randy freaking Orton.  That just doesn't happen often, so I'm gonna enjoy it while I can...

Here's how it all went down.....

In Memory Of Ray "Big Boss Man" Traylor: a nice little graphic. And I'm struck by the observation that I've spent the last week typing "Bossman" as one word, cuz I was SURE that's how they did it back in the day... guess I remembered wrong...

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in Kansas City, MO, and no matter what the REAL Internet Jackoffs (i.e. NOT me, but the people who really do have their heads so far up their asses that they can't even BEGIN to step back and look at wrestling like a regular fan) might be saying today, there's really no huge reason to harp on tonight's venue.  Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler certainly don't make any big deal out of the venue, because as they introduce the show, they're too busy hyping the actual -- you know? -- SHOW TONIGHT.  Which involves a few matches and an interview with Lita and stuff.  And then it's time to shoot it down to the ring....

Eric Bischoff is Pro-Choice, Kind Of

GM Bischoff is already in the ring, and announces that the Interactive Taboo Tuesday PPV is officially "on," despite his strong belief that the fans have no business making such decisions.  He did a rant about the "pimply-faced, know-it-all, fat, gay" fans and how they don't have the expertise to do his job.  Nee haw, it's a jab at the internet fans!  Allow me to retort: hey, Eric, if your job was REAL, I could do it VERY well, but since you're basically just an actor spewing forth the subpar crap put in your mouth by an under-qualified creative team, you're right... I probably would SUCK at your job.  HA HA!

Bischoff says that though he disagrees with the show's format, he can't stop it from happening, so what he HAS done is exercised his GM power to determine who the fans will choose from in terms of the #1 Contender to HHH's title.  He names Shawn Michaels (OK, he USED to feud with HHH), Edge (huh? although remind me tomorrow and I'll do a Fantasy Booking rant about how this COULD be very interesting in terms of a new Evolution memeber), Chris Benoit (duh), and Randy Orton (duh).  Where's Shelton Benjamin?

But wait, there's more!  Randy Orton does NOT get a free pass into the fan voting, because Bischoff is still salty about that sledgehammer to the foot from a month ago!  So tonight, Orton will have to beat Batista in a No Disqualification Match to make it on the ballot. Otherwise, he's got no chance of facing HHH at Taboo Tuesday.

Enter Triple H.  He's sick and tired of standing in the back, listening to this crap about how the fans are gonna get to decide his fate and the fate of the World Title.  In a nice riff, he says the fans pay to SEE his greatness, not to BOOK his greatness, and it's not like he shows up where THEY work to tell them how to do their jobs (insert predictable-but-always-hilarious "fry cook" and "hooker" taunts of ringside fans here). But HHH says that it doesn't matter anyway, since the fans can pick whoever they want, and HHH will do what he always does: he'll go out there and he'll kick ass and he'll walk out of Taboo Tuesday with the World Title, and he'll shove it all back in the fans' faces.  

Further, he said that if tonight is a Night Of Choices, he'd give the fans a few choices, including: (a) they may kiss his ass, (b) they may burn in hell, (c) they may Get A Life, and (d) they may...


Shelton grabs the mic out of HHH's hands, and says that if tonight's a Night Of Choices, he's got a few choices for HHH: (a) he may quit his whining, (b) he may quit his moaning, (c) he may quit his crying because there's not enough Kleenex Brand Facial Tissues in Kansas City to wipe off that massive schnozz (HA!), or (d) since he and HHH can't get along, mayhap they should just GET IT ON!  Bischoff steps in and tries to keep them apart, but while he holds Shelton back, HHH strikes with a cheapshot, and Bischoff steps back and gets on the mic, shouting, "Hey, ring the bell, start this match, and get a ref out here!".  Jerk.  But it's on, in impromptu fashion....

Triple H vs. Shelton Benjamin

After HHH's cheap shot, Shelton rallied really quickly, and hit a big series of moves.  About 2 minutes in, he tried his Stinger Splash, but HHH dodged it.  HHH is hurting from Benjamin's rally, Benjamin's hurting after missing the splash, so let's get some....


Back and HHH is in control, and almost as soon as we rejoin the action, HHH starts a concerted attack on Benjamin's left arm, starting with a Fujiwara Takedown, and then going into armbars and armdrags and stuff.  This goes on for a few minutes, as JR keeps noting that HHH needs the win, since he's never beaten Benjamin, while King keeps telling JR to quit bringing up ancient history. An example of GOOD heel/face announcer banter.  Shelton starts a comeback, and the crowd is into it... but HHH seems to kill it with another left-arm-shot, and goes up to the top rope for something.  But Benjamin's got a surprise left in him: he hits a run-up-the-ropes armdrag on HHH (semi-reminiscent of Angle's run-up-superplex), he follows up with that top rope, hooking clothesline thing (which JR has dubbed a "modified bulldog"), and a few other things.  HHH is fading, but he takes the fight to the outside.  While out there, Shelton maintains control, and they start brawling near the time keeper's table...  and unsure if he'd be able to defeat Benjamin, HHH opted to just grab his World Title belt, and whack Shelton in the head with it.  Blatant move in front of the ref, and it gets him the DQ; probably about 10 minutes total, and a nice little match coming seamlessly out of a solid opening promo.  Really cool way to open the show in a non-formulaic fashion.

After the match: HHH continued the assault, concluding with a Pedigree on the floor that left Benjamin knocked out cold. And just like that, Benjamin REALLY needs to get in on this Taboo Tuesday voting thing (and I let myself BRIEFLY contemplate the delicious possibility that Orton WOULDN'T predictably win the main event and that Shelton might replace him on the ballot)....

Last Week: The Red Headed Spaz won the Diva Search.  Trish promised a Victory Party.  It's later tonight.


Not An [ad], Honest!: Simon Dean hypes his Simon System. This week, it was a new vignette, with a bit of added depth... Simon's not just a fitness guy, he's also adding in Motivational Speaker elements, so he's half-Bodydonna, and half-DDP.  He still hates fat people, though, that's his hook.  Catchphrase: "I may not like you, but I believe in you."

Tajiri/Rhyno vs. Hurricane/Rosey

Although, JR notes that Hurricane and Rosey have been "frustrated" lately, they don't really play it up too much and do NOT have footage of the HurriHeel from last week.  Tajiri starts, does some stuff first with Hurricane, and then with Rosey, but when he's physically over-matched by Rosey, he tags in Rhyno.  Rhyno and Rosey do the Big Man Showdown Of Who Can Knock The Other Guy Down First which FINALLY gets the crowd into the match.  Rhyno knocks down Rosey, takes control briefly.  Then Hurricane's back in briefly, and Tajiri also tags in, and after a brief Chaos Moment with all four guys involved, the ref restores order, and it's Hurricane vs. Tajiri...  Hurricane is whipped into the ropes and Rosey reaches in and blind tags himself in...  but Tajiri doesn't see it, and instead hits a wicked-stiff kick on Hurricane.  Tajiri thinks he might have just won the match, but Rosey (the legal man) is lurking behind him, picks him up, and nails a wrap-around Sidewalk Slam (I think the TNA fans out there might like me to call it the same thing as Abyss' finisher, but for one, I don't remember the name, and for two, Who's Abyss, anyway?).  One, two, three.  Rosey pins Tajiri and just like that he and Hurricane are off their losing streak.  Very crisp little match, but at maybe 4 minutes, not much of anything to get excited about.  Also: no signs of heelishness at ALL out of Hurricane and Rosey.

Mic Check: At some Undisclosed Location, Tough Questions Todd Grisham is checking his notes and sipping water as technicians get everything ready for his Interview with... well, Kane.  But maybe NOT Lita, despite earlier promises.


Last Week: Lita loses her baby, but Kane gains a catchphrase. "Snitsky.  Is.  A.  Dead.  Man."  I only go out of my way to recap recaps if they are exceptional, and this was one of them, kids.  They told the "story" part in about 30 seconds (Lita's baby is lost, Snitsky says it's not his fault, etc.), but then for a minute or so, it was all about setting a vibe...  rapid cuts between sound bites and clips of Snitsky's chairshot and Kane destroying furniture at the hospital, all the while underneath there's this "snitsky-snitsky-snitsky-snitsky" from Kane's catchphrase being repeated just below the surface over and over again in at an increasing pace until finally they hit the big finish, which is a replay of "Snitsky is a dead man."  I can't explain why, and it might just be my bizarre appreciation that we have a pro wrestler named "Snitsky," but THIS was my idea of how you meld something that's kind of over-the-top and funny ("snitsky-snitsky-snitsky-snitsky" on the soundtrack) with a serious storyline.

Via Satellite: Todd Grisham has a few questions for Kane.  First, "Will Lita be joining us?"...  Kane says no she won't, because she's still in a state of shock; because no matter what Lita felt about Kane, she DID love their baby, and she's not talking, not eating, nothing.  So Todd follows up with a tepid question about "How are you feeling with all you've been through, Kane?"... and Kane gets indignant, cuz Grisham has no idea what he's been through, and there are not even words to describe his and Lita's feelings.  Because their son (yes, Kane says, they had found out it was a boy) is DEAD.  But he promises their unborn son won't die alone.  Because "Snitsky.  Is.  A.  Dead.  Man."  Some heavy breathing, and we fade out...  really a big fat zero of a segment other than a chance for Kane to get his catchphrase out there; nothing else really substantial.  But short, and to the point, and I LIKE this catchphrase, so no gripes here.  

[SPECIAL NOTE: if at any point in this promo the name "Owen Hart" and the concept "righteous e-mail and/or internet column" occurred to you, please shove a rusty railroad spike through your eyeball immediately, because YOU are part of the problem.  Or at least: tune into OO tomorrow for a good tongue lashing.  I'm still trying to apply my lesson learned from The Broad, and the RAW Recap is NOT the place for extended ranting.  It's the place for recappening... so we return you to normal programming...]

SmackDown! Rebound: In THIS case, I don't recap recaps.

Backstage: Chris Benoit is chatting with William Regal about how he's sure if he gets voted in by the fans, he'll beat HHH and be the World Champ again when Eugene runs in with scissors.  Eugene wants to shave his Uncle Eric's head, apparently.  Token Brutus Beefcake strut here.  But Regal takes the scissors away and says there's better ways for Eugene to be practicing his haircutting, and he'll go set something up.  Left along with Benoit, Eugene makes a playful move towards Benoit's hair, and Benoit gives him an evil "Don't even THINK about it."  Eugene laughs and leaves, and [godammit, I don't WANT to nit-pick, but this was so NOT RIGHT] Benoit hits this big, "Aw what a cute kid" grin as Eugene leaves.  [Better would have been waiting for a pregnant pause after Eugene was long gone, and then kind of a "Heh, the kid is harmless, and I like him" smirk.]


Gene Snitsky vs. Val Venis

Before the match, they show a pre-tape of Snitsky.  He says he's sorry that Kane and Lita lost their baby (but doesn't sound all that sincere). However, what happened, "It Wasn't My Fault" (so we now have a competing catchphrase!).  And if Kane has a problem with that, he can take it up with Snitsky, face-to-face, next week on RAW. This was exactly as well-delivered as last week's promo, but you know what? I'm starting to think it's PERFECT for what WWE's trying to accomplish.  The content is almost painfully simplistic, and Snitsky's delivery is just this stilted/generic heel thing (he can't say more than 4 words at a stretch without pausing for effect)... but guess what?  It might be a throwback to inept 1970s style promos, instead of today's smoother/more clever/conversational style, but it's EXACTLY what Snitksy needs to do to create a character that is unlikeable (even if at a subconscious level) but which still seems like enough of a Disposable Jobber (instead of a bona fide superstar) that fans will boo him simply for thinking he's in Kane's league.  Does that make sense?  I hope so, cuz it wasn't a GOOD promo, but I'm thinking it was an EFFECTIVE one.

I give the promo primacy here because the match itself was nothing.  About 2 minutes, and Val got surprisingly little offense.  This was NOT portrayed as Snitsky once again surprising a real superstar, this was portrayed as Snitsky being "possessed" because he's sick of hearing how he's guilty of killing Lita's baby.  JR said if the guy was using THIS as motivation, he wasn't quite right in the head.  Finish was a big boot followed up with a side-sling Pumphandle Slame.  Total squash.  [Request for Live Crowd at MSG next week: the "Baby Killer, clap clap clapclapclap" chant directed at Snitsky is OK, I guess, but I REALLY think that the right chant would be "You're a Dead Man, clap clap clapclapclap."]

Self-Congratulatory Theatre: a video package talking about how WM21 tickets went on sale and sold out in even less time than this silly little video package lasts...


The Twilight Zone

Kids, I won't lie; when Ric Flair hit the ring, I had no idea where this was going, and I will have analysis/ranting about how something this good, something this BIG shouldn't have come out of nowhere later...  but for now, let's just appreciate Randy Orton's finest promo ever.  Completely unexpected, but almost completely without fault, too.  What's next, cats and dogs living together?

To keep my voice out of it, and to let you all get the clearest possible picture of how good this was, I turn you over to The Cubs Fan, who (completely unbidden) turned in this word-for-word transcript.  Big thanks to him.  And I turn you over to him, as we join Ric Flair in the center of the ring:

Flair: [flair asks for the music to be cut]

“I’ve got a real problem, as a matter of fact, I’ve got THREE real problems. Number One is Randy Orton, Number Two is the use of the word ‘great’, and Number Three and, most importantly of all, the use of the word ‘legend’.

Randy Orton, the day you became World Heavyweight Champion, you automatically became ‘great’. Make no mistake, it’s a very select group, only the real good ones get to be GREAT. If you’re world champion, you are GREAT. Orton, that would be you.

But. I’m really struggling with this pat on the back, this t-shirt you’re wearing, everyone around here kissing your butt, telling you you’re a Legend Killer.

[Ric mini-struts while the crowd reacts, and then takes off his coat to prompt even more of a reaction.]

I wanna know – which legend did you kill? Shawn Michaels? Arguably – ARGUABLY – the greatest performer of all time! But a legend? Not a chance! [boos]

Harley Race? A legend – but a guy I wore out every time I was in this building. [cascading boos]

Bret Hart? A guy sitting home, looking in the mirror, pictures of himself on the wall, a legend? I don’t think so.

Hogan? Who aspires to be a Hollywood star? A legend, I don’t think so.

And Mick Foley? Mick Foley! [loudest positive crowd reaction – Flair falls down in mocking fashion] A human stuntman, a legend, NEVER.

There’s one legend – THERE’S ONE LEGEND that can walk that aisle, [voice cracking] looking only as he can look! And tell you – and tell you or your mother or your grandmother – that he’s a legend. And that’s ME. Sixteen times! Sixteen times! Sixteen times! The World Heavyweight Champion! Sixteen times! Sixteen! WOOO [ministrut] ME! And Randy Orton, you might be great, but until you beat the Nature Boy – WOOO – you’ll never be a legend killer. Great? Yes. Legend Killer? Never, because I-“

[Orton’s music interrupts.]

Orton: “So that’s what you think Ric, that’s what you think? Well, I got no problem directly to your face that you are…the greatest legend that this business has ever seen. You’re Ric Flair, DAMNIT, You’re RIC FLAIR! I idolized you as a kid, man, I looked up to you, Ric, you have no idea. I used to make sure no one was looking, sneak into my parent’s bedroom, slip on their bathrobe, and hohoho [struts] WOOOO, you know it baby! If you’re going to laugh, laugh, but I – you were in my heart, I looked up to you Ric. And I gotta tell you, being a part of Evolution made me so proud to stand by you, learn from you, learn from the best, and I learned a lot, and I could’ve learned more. I could’ve learned a lot more. And the truth is, I don’t believe I could’ve beat Chris Benoit for the World Title if it wasn’t for you. Ric Flair, you are the Man!

[Flair takes in the adulation]

Which is why it’s so tragic to see what you become. [ooooohs] You come out here, you tell me, you tell all these people that I’m full of it, for calling myself the Legend Killer? Well I think you’re full of it for coming out here every Monday and telling the whole world Triple H is the best wrestler in the world today. I know it’s know true, I’m pretty sure all of these people know it’s not true [yaaays], and Ric Flair, I know deep down inside your heart, you know it’s not true either.”

Flair: “I know what you’re trying to do – and I was starting to like you for a minute! You were on the right track! But don’t try to mix it up with me and Triple H, because I’m qualified to call the shot! He’s the greatest wrestler alive today!”

Orton: “Listen to yourself! Listen to yourself, Ric! The Ric Flair, I know, the Ric Flair that idolized would never say that! Think about it, think about all the classic matches, the interviews, the championship, your career spans over FOUR decades! Ric, you are The MAN – BUT, you do whatever Triple H tells you to do! You’re not a Legend, you’re a lapdog. You’re a glorified - [pause as Flair’s eyeballs threaten to pummel Orton] – you’re a glorified cheerleader, Ric! And I see it in your eyes, when, when Ric Flair…Ric, when Triple H tells you to do something, when he barks an order at you, I see it on your eyes, you want to look at him in the face and say, ‘I’m not your lackey, I’m Ric Flair!, the Limousine Riding, Jet Flying, Wheeling Dealing, Kiss Stealing WOOO Son of a Gun’ – but you DON’T SAY THAT. He tells you do something, and you do it. So Ric, this generation, this generation is going to remember Ric Flair for kissing Triple H’s ass. [pause] And there’s only one man who can save the legacy of the greatest wrestler alive – the legacy of the wrestler being flushed down the toilet. Ric Flair, that man is YOU. You can make a choice, you can take a stand, you don’t have to take it any more, hear me? Ric Flair, you know damn well that a true Legend, a true Legend takes crap from nobody.”

[Orton drops the mic. Stare. Orton leaves, pointing as his head.]

JR: Folks, all I can say is, the truth hurts King: I don’t think Ric Flair has ever been talked to like that, by anyone, in his life.  

You know, there's a knee-jerk part of me that caught a verbal stumble, but it didn't matter cuz Randy was so IN THE ZONE and saying things you could almost sense MATTERED to him and he moved right over it and we were all so into the CONTENT of Orton's promo that the delivery almost ceased to matter.  There's a snarky part of me that wants to note that Orton was getting booed for some of his comments, which makes me wonder if maybe fans LIKE Flair and HHH together in Evolution so much that they don't want a snot-nosed punk talking smack to a real legend; but then I remember I LIKE it when people have layers and multiple dimensions, and this is another case when ambiguity and shades of gray are VERY appropriate. Then there's a phrase-turning, writer-y part of me that was begging for some punchline or soundbite that'd show a spark of wit from Randy (I was thinking along the lines of "To be The Man, Ric, you gotta be A man" when talking about him becoming HHH's bitch), but I was talked down from that with the simple observation that the beauty of Orton's promo is that for once he WASN'T spewing lines or cliches, he was speaking from the heart and if he'd hit a line that clearly was crafted by a writer more clever than he, Orton wouldn't have seemed nearly as genuine.  Very true.

So you take those away from me, and what do I have?  Nothing but compliments for Flair and Orton taking 15 minutes to tell a damned fine story.  It's enough to make me rethink a lot of my recent ranting... or maybe it's VINDICATION for me: I've been saying for how long that Orton's been done no favors by the creative team, and THAT's why he's falling flat?  And now, the first time since Mick Foley that he's got something decent to do, the kid goes out and nails it?  Maybe NOW you all understand what I've been saying...  and maybe NOW, I will admit that Orton CAN be trusted to deliver at a greater-than-mediocre level when he's given quality material to start with.  Of course, I anxiously await him being given the same kind of material again in the future and him showing me it wasn't just a one time deal... but tonight?  Just Awesome TV.


Shawn Michaels/Chris Jericho vs. Christian/Tyson Tomko

You get the usual back-and-forthy to start, with all the guys cycling in and out...  it builds up to a VERY mini-hot-tag from Michaels to Jericho in which all four guys pile into the ring for some controlled chaos.  In the brawl, Michaels and Jericho do some of that Tasty Choreographed Tag Team Highspot Work that's straight out of 1988.  Final spot has then both get Christian and Tomko out of the ring, and then Michaels press slams Jericho out of the ring and onto the bad guys.  Three out of four men are down, so even though we're all of 3 minutes into the match, let's look at some....


We come back, and strangely, the heels are back on offense.  We are told that this is because Tomko interrupted a Jericho's flurry against Christian, including throwing Jericho into the ringsteps, all during the break.  So as we resume, it's Jericho getting his ass kicked.  No real focus to the heel attack that I can remember, but I do remember a nice Hot Tag Tease in which Jericho put Tomko down and was about to make it to his corner... but Christian sprinted in and punched Michaels, knocking him off the apron.  With no one to tag to, Jericho was stuck in the ring and took more punishment from The Lovely Miss Tomko.  Finally Jericho hits another rally, and inches towards his corner; Tomko is down and inches towards his... both men tag, and Michaels comes in a House Afire.  Christian tries begging off, but Michaels is having none of it, and actually goes to work on both guys.  From here, we're in End Game, and it's four way brawling.  Christian eventually gets the better of Michaels as he's distracted with Tomko, and is setting him up for the Unprettier... which (building on last week's "expected moves delivered in unexpected ways" vibe), Jericho came out of nowhere to hit XTian with the running bulldog just before he could drop down into the move.  And then, instead of showboating, Jericho just (in one fluid motion) ran the ropes and hit the Lionsault on XTian.  Ref has his hands full getting Jericho out of the ring, and behind his back, Tomko has come back into the match; he and Michaels do a quick double-reverse spot where Michaels ducks a Big Boot and lands the Sweet Chin Music.  But Tomko's not legal, Christian is.  And Christian has regained JUST enough of his senses to come up behind Michaels and do a schoolboy roll-up.  And then Christian grabs the ropes for illegal leverage (but Earl Hebner, with his cataracts and all, missing seeing it), and actually holds Michaels down for three!  Captain Charisma beats HBK!  Very fun 12 minute match, especially after the break, as the crowd was WAY into it, and the pace was good and fast and everything.  Finish makes it all the more obvious that Michaels has enough on his plate that he doesn't need to be worrying about the World Title Picture, but we'll do the discussion of where this goes tomorrow in OO.  For now: very good match, interesting finish.

After the match: Christian does some broad gesturing to convey the idea that it's "Christian 1, Michaels 0."  What a magnificent asshole he is!

Backstage: Batista approaches HHH, and wants to know what's up with Flair.  HHH says, "It's just Flair being Flair, don't worry about it."  Batista says, "OK, I'll go out there tonight and take care of business.  Cuz the fans don't choose, *I* choose, and I say no title shot for Orton."  


William Regal is ALSO Pro-Choice

In the opening promo, we were introduced to possible opponents for Triple H.  In this one, William Regal and Eugene and Three Special Volunteers are in the ring to introduce us to possible STIPULATIONS for an already-announced match.  When Eugene faces Uncle Eric Bischoff at Taboo Tuesday, fans will get to choose among three choices...

First, we have a fan dressed in a butler jacket and holding a platter, and the stipulation MIGHT be "Loser Becomes the Winner's Servant."  Second, we have a fan in a dress, illustrating a possible stipulation in which the "Loser Must Dress As A Woman"; when the fan claims that he looks as good in a dress as Eric, Regal does an HILARIOUS riff about how the fan actually looks more like an old girlfriend of his from Blackpool.  Not headline-making stuff like Orton's promo, but just further evidence that William Regal needs more TV time.  And then the last guy -- well, they say he's a fan, but if that guy's not an indie wrestler, I'll eat a bug; it was just THAT obvious -- he's here to help us illustrate the "Loser Gets His Head Shaved" stipulation.  But just as Eugene digs in with some clippers, he's interrupted by Uncle Eric...  [So I guess not only is that guy an indie wrestler, he's an indie wrestler who didn't REALLY want to get much of his lustrous mane cut off...]

Bischoff is out with a mic, and gets in the ring to declare that Eugene should cut it out, because it won't even matter, because he's not gonna be shaving Bischoff's head.  Because whether he knows it or not, Eugene has bitten off more than he can chew. And with that, Bischoff spin kicks the Haircut Guy in the sternum to remind us that he is a Karate Fighter!  Then as Regal and Eugene look on in not-quite-concern, Bischoff bails out of the ring, sure he's made his point.  The only point I got is that much like my concerns over WWE telegraphing their desire for Orton to win the #1 Contender voting, they are ALSO telegraphing the Haircut Stip here, which annoys me because the Butler Stipulation is SO OBVIOUSLY the one with the funniest possibilities!

Self-Promotional Theater: WWE held a Taboo Tuesday press conference in Milwaukee earlier today, with a ton of RAW stars in attendance.  You know, was it just me, or did HHH sound like he cut the same promo there as he did to open RAW?


Spaz Likes Panties~!

It's time for Diva Search Christy's "initiation party." Out come Trish, Molly, and Gail... and they are in casual wear (not ring gear), and I wouldn't be me if I didn't note that in addition to wanting creative control over Molly's storylines, I think I should also be given control over her wardrobe.  The wrestling slacks, but with heels?  No, Molly, no.  Tight jeans and boots; THAT is your bread and butter.  But we're not here to talk and dissect outfits... we're here to haze the Spaz!  So Trish wastes no time bringing her out to the ring!

Out comes Christy, and PRAISE JESUS I'VE FOUND THE ONE REASON TO BE HAPPY ABOUT THE DIVA SEARCH cuz it seems that Christy's Official Entrance Theme is "Walk Idiot Walk" by the Hives, which is, admittedly a high-energy song that suits her (that is a fast-tempo observation, NOT a "Christy is an idiot" observation; it's not like she's Carmella), but it's also instantly the Number One Coolest Entrance Theme in All Of WWE.  Trish does the, "So, Christy, do have anything you'd like to say?" thing but yanks the mic away at the last instant for the cheap heat.  But then Christy yanks the mic back for the cheap pop!

Christy says, yes, she does have some stuff to say, and it's all related to thanking the fans (who, sensing they are being pandered to, actually BOO the poor girl who actually seems like she might be sincere, and I guess wrestling fans aren't the best judges of character).  She finishes strong by promising to kick some ass for us in the next year.  Trish gets the mic back and says that's a nice sentiment and all, but that while she was thanking the fans, she should also have thanked whoever she slept with to get to the finals.  Simple, bitchy, delicious.  And with that, Trish has a special surprise: not only are Molly and Gail here (and Jazz sends her best, we are assured), but there's someone else who wants to say a few things to Christy.

So on the TitanTron, there's Carmella.  Oy.  And even working from a script and now TRYING to be evil, she's just boring as she does the "I was too good to win" speech.  She says the fans didn't like her cuz the women were jealous and the men knew they didn't have a shot with a woman like her and so forth.  Delivered with all the intensity of a houseplant, it was.  But Carmella says she DOES feel like she was robbed of a quarter million dollars in the contest and so she'll be watching and she'll love it when she sees Christy get her ass kicked.  Whee!  Just stay at home and watch, Carmella, that's all I ask!  And leave the ass kicking (and the promo work) to the professionals!

Did Trish just hear the phrase "ass kicking"?  She thinks she did. So she suggests that maybe it's time for Christy to have her first match. Not just any match.  A Bra And Panties Match!  A THREE-ON-ONE Bra And Panties Match!  Christy tries to escape, but Trish stops that, gets a ref in the ring, and says, the match is on RIGHT NOW.  So in the course of about 30 seconds, Molly and Gail restrain Christy, while Trish removes Christy's skirt, making sure the cameras get a lingering look at the new girl's good side.  Then it's a quick adjustment, and the top comes off, and dingdingding, this match is over.  Hit Trish's music and she leaves with Molly and Gail, confident they have demoralized the Spaz.

But NO!  Christy gets up, demurely trying to cover herself with her hands.  But, effectively conveying the vibe of "Hey, this isn't really so bad, is it?" as the fans cheer for her, she eventually says "Screw this," and starts prancing around rather proudly.  She gets a mic and declares that Trish and Molly and Gail might have TRIED to break her spirit, but Christy has discovered just now that she is TOTALLY COMFORTABLE in nothing but her bra and panties.  And NOW the fans cheer wildly, even though THIS was the really cheesy, fake, patronizing part that left me shaking my head.  But the Spaz, god bless her, she REALLY sells it like a maniac once they cue up "Walk Idiot Walk."  Even I must grant that there are worse things in the world than a be-pantied girl un-self-consciously flailing around to a kick-ass rock song....

Backstage: Ric Flair is deep in contemplation when Batista comes to fetch him for their match...  but Flair is non-responsive.  Finally Batista says, "RIC, dammit, do you hear me?"... and Flair says, yeah, he hears.  But he doesn't obey.  He doesn't answer to HHH, and he doesn't answer to Batista, and he'll be out there for the match when HE is good and ready.  Flair leaves one way, Batista leaves another, and the tension is thick....


Next Week: JR and the King have some info for us... first, Kane returns to RAW next week at Madison Square Garden, and we also know Gene Snitsky is gonna be there, too.  And second: General Manager Eric Bischoff has signed a huge main event, as Shawn Michaels will get a chance to even the score in a one-on-one match against Christian.

Randy Orton vs. Batista (No Disqualification Match for a Shot At A Title Shot)

Orton enters second, and Batista tries to jumpstart things by attacking him while he's preening on the ring apron.  But no dice: Orton counters, and hits a quick flurry of offense in the opening minute or so.  But that's when Batista's power came into play, and he took over the match.  Basic big man attack for a few minutes, but we're already after 11pm when the match gets underway, so you know this one ain't gonna last long.

When Orton started his Time Compressed Comeback at about the 5 minute mark, Triple H came out to put an end to that.  Orton fought valiantly against both men, but eventually fell to the 2-on-1.  HHH went outside and grabbed a steel chair to finish the job, and THAT is when Ric Flair decided to make his appearance.  He got in the ring, he went face-to-face with HHH.  He took the chair away from HHH.  He stepped back.  And wouldn't you know it: he turned and whacked ORTON with the chair, afterall.  HHH smiled, and stepped back to allow Batista to get back to his match.  One powerbomb later, and Batista pinned Orton.  About a 6-7 minute match that wasn't much, wrestling-wise, but was plenty adequate in terms of an excuse to tell the story of Flair's continued loyalty to HHH and Orton's removal from the #1 Contender voting.  Evolution celebrates and talks trash to Orton's carcass as we fade out on a Criticism Killing edition of RAW...


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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