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OO RAW RECAP
HHH (and Subtlety) Under Siege 
November 9, 2004

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I find myself in an odd conundrum...  on one hand, RAW wasn't bad, per se, but it did disappoint in some very fundamental ways after managing to raise my expectations.  So how do I explain that in a way that's fair and balanced? I mean, who do you blame when *I* worked myself into a rare sense of anticipation, and WWE only delivered adequacy?  Am I naive, or is WWE lazy?  How does one reconcile those two possibilities?
 
Then, a secondary conundrum develops, because I could ramble for paragraphs at a stretch with hyphenated-qualifiers and lots of (superfluous) parentheticals and wholly-made-up Rickabulary Words (with plenty of Inappropriate Capitalization thrown in for emphasis) to describe where my vague sense of 

underwhelment came from last night... but I could also swallow my pride and just borrow liberally from one of my trOOps. Because fortuitously, Erin Anderson introduced us to the concept of "anvils" last week, displaying her unique ability to Say Stuff I'd Say Myself, Except Exhibiting Economy In Verbiage While Doing So for the umpteenth time in 2004.

Leave it to me, and I go off on tangents about how the problem I had with RAW was how, partway through almost every single segment, I knew how each segment would end and just wanted to get to the finish, rather than savoring the ride to get there.  It wasn't a show that made any heinous missteps; but it was a show that got to where it was going in a fashion that I found unnecessarily ham-handed, obvious, and uncreative.  Especially after the previous week's show; it's like the shows are being booked almost totally on-the-fly, week-to-week, and possibly not even by the same people.  And this week, the bludgeon-them-over-the-head-with-it crew was back in charge. I liked last week's shades of gray and rewarding the viewers who had a non-zero attention span by feeding them storylines that had multiple "outs" but not a single one of them obvious...  but this week, the ambiguity was wrung out of the show at almost every turn, which is actually doubly confounding, since right before a PPV would be the BEST time to have fans falling all over themselves unsure of what could possibly happen next.

But we don't have to leave it to me and my peppered-in ranting paragraphs like the one above!  Erin not only gave me permission to steal "anviliciousness," but was nearly insistent that I mention some of RAW's anvils to help establish the terminology.  Of course, then 5 minutes later, we were diverging substantially on where said anvils existed, and it's entirely possible that I'll end up torpedoing Erin's attempt to eventually convince wrestling fans she invented the "anvil concept" by getting it all wrong in my first attempt to put it over....  but what the hell?  If I can avoid long rambling asides about RAW's spirit-sapping foregoneconlcusionness by simply saying "Code Word: Anvil," I'm gonna do it! What's the worst that can happen?  Erin has to actually do a recap or a column at some point before Spring 2005 to correct me?  I'll cope....  

But enough attempting to formulate a grand theoretical overview of RAW. I can editorialize in the column tomorrow if the muse strikes. For now, you're here for RAW's recap. So....

Let the Commencement Beginulate!

We Join This Regularly Scheduled Telecast Already In Progress

RAW kicks off with a jarring cold open, as Triple H is in mid-sentence when we join the telecast... he's in the middle of the ring (with Batista), talking about how he's back on RAW, and how that's a bad thing for many people on the RAW roster. Because he sat one out last week, trying to teach everybody a lesson about appreciating and respecting their World Champion, and instead, people got it through their heads to take advantage of Evolution in his absence.  It was disrespectful, it was disgusting, and the attacks last week only accomplished two things: (1) caused an injury to Ric Flair, who is absent this week, and (2) made Batista angry (insert gratuitous David Banner reference here).  And furthermore, all this crap happened under the watchful eye of (cue the "grande ritardando," as HHH begins slowing down his speech) "Our. Useless...  General........ Manager..........................  Eric......................................."

"Bischoff," says the titular GM, his own self, cutting off HHH.  Eric heads to the ring, and once he steps in, gets only about 2 sentences into his justification for last week when HHH grabs him forcefully by the neck and chokes him down to his knees.  Bischoff coughed out just about the only thing he could say to get HHH to release him: he says that HHH should watch himself, or else Bischoff would be forced to strip him of his World Title.  So HHH lets him up, and Bischoff continues.

He says (quite reasonably) that HHH shouldn't be concerned about the stipulation, cuz all he has to do is win the match on Sunday, and he and his team can control RAW for a month. So, what's wrong, HHH? Worried you won't win?  "Nobody around here can beat me," says HHH.  [This was one decidedly NON-anvilicious moment, as not only was I again digging how Bischoff occupied a VERY effective nether region between face and heel, but this was ALSO the second oblique comment in two weeks that COULD be construed as setting up a trade of HHH to SD! or the trade of someone FROM SD! to beat HHH... Also: I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the crowd chose NOT to pick up on the "around here" and instead picked up on the "can't beat me," and took a moment to roar "You tapped out" at HHH.  HA!] Bischoff says, "Sure, I agree. So we've got nothing to worry about."  HHH and Batista aren't necessarily sold, but they know there's not a whole lot else that they can say or do that wouldn't expose their insecurity, so they zip it....

And Bischoff takes the pregnant pause to take command of the show, declaring that "Let's get to the ACTION~!"...  and in this case, Bischoff has lined up a hell of an opening match for us.  Already in the ring is Batista... and his opponent?  The most pitiably awful theme song in wrestling?  KICK ITS ASS, BATISTA~! Oh, wait... the OWNER of the most pitiably bad theme song in wrestling: Young Randall Orton!  Orton hits the ring, hits his full arsenal of One Pose (repeat as needed), and as JR tells us that this'll be a Slobberknocker with Huge Implications for Survivor Series, we need to pause for some....

[ads]

Randy Orton vs. Batista

We come back, and we're joined in progress yet again. Back and forthy to start, with Batista using his power to keep pounding down Orton, but Orton kept coming back (on this week, Orton definitely seemed to have more crowd support than usual, though a muted undercurrent of boos STILL haunted him), peaking with tossing Batista out of the ring at around the 5 minute mark.  But after a pep talk from HHH (who had remained at ringside), Batista got in the ring and took over the offense... he overpowered Orton, and then he CHANNELED Orton, by going for Chinlock Variation #1489!  Whee!  Stick with that for a minute or two, then Orton fires up, and does a quick rally. He puts Batista down, and then immediately goes to the Rock's I'm Stalking You For My Finisher body language, which gooses an "RKO" chant out of what looks/sounds like the front row and nobody else.  However, Triple H has grabbed onto Randall's foot (is it possible that Orton is as numb in the extremities as he is in the head?); when Orton finally tries to move in for the RKO 10 seconds later, HHH's foot-grab stops him and Orton acts surprised to find out HHH is down there.  When Orton turns to talk to Hunter about how he wishes he'd never told him how he'd had a prosthetic foot installed in an Homage to Kerry von Erich, that's all the time Batista needs to recover and nail Orton with his K.O.-thseline.  Enough to put Orton down for the three count? Maybe, but we'll never know, because at this juncture, the ref decided to eject HHH from ringside, and Triple H took about 60 seconds of getting in the ring and having a hissy fit to ensure that Batista didn't have a chance to make a cover.  Finally, as HHH retreats, I'm figuring it's time for a break, but NO!  SWERVE~!  HHH leaves, and Orton has had a chance to recover and tries to take the fight to Batista...  except Batista is still in better shape, and has no trouble tossing Orton out of the ring about a minute later.  And *now* we get our delayed break for....

[ads]

Back, and Batista is in control. We get a "During the Break" clip of Orton crashing into the steel ring steps.  Batista briefly continues the attack on Orton's shoulder, but then shifts gears about two minutes later to Orton's neck.  And of course, this can only be heading towards one goal: Another Chinlock!  Except, OK, this time it kinda works, because it's part of a concerted neck-attack by Batista, and also because when a guy that big is really going out of his way to cinch it in, it's pretty convincing.  Orton fired up out of the chinlock, and did the Foley Crazy Ass Clothesline to get Batista out over the top rope, and then followed up with a DDT on the floor, as the pace of the match finally started picking up.  Both men get back in the ring, and things start really crackling: near falls and good intensity, with Orton hitting stuff like flying bodyblocks and Batista came back with spinebusters.  They're countering each other pretty nicely, too, with Batista dodging at least 2 RKOs that I can remember.  Finally, Batista tries to charge Orton in a corner, and Orton leapfrogs and as Batista crashes into the turnbuckle, he wraps him up with a pinning combination (it's the same one he used against Shawn Michaels in their first PPV match, if I recall correctly).  1, 2, 3, and Orton has won.  

Batista is more shocked and angry than hurt, and Orton wisely gets out of the ring to do his posing.  I'm guessing this was 20-22 minutes long (counting the ad breaks), which is a nice notion, except that only the last 4-5 minutes sizzled, and this REALLY would have been well-served if it'd been shaved by about a third.  Think Orton/Edge's first PPV match for exactly the vibe I mean.... on PPV, though, you expect the padding a bit more; here with time at a premium on a Monday, I'm surprised they asked these two to stretch 14 minutes worth of action in 21 minutes of TV time.

[ads]

Backstage: Orton is talking to Jericho, Benoit, and Maven about how awesomely awesome he was in his big win over Batista when Batista decides to attack from behind.  When Orton's team tried to pile on, we basically got the entire phalanx of shirt-and-tied WWE Officials stepping in to break things up.

Video Package: Edge dicked over Chris Benoit at Taboo Tuesday, and again last week on RAW.  I don't recap recaps.  Tonight, they go one on one to settle things.

Bonus Footage: last week after RAW, Chris Benoit cut a promo for WWE.com, and RAW decides to air it here.  Benoit is at his no-frills best as he (with blood drying on his face) tells Edge that he believes in discipline and honor and stepping into the ring to prove you're the best.... but that next week, when they face off one-on-one on RAW, it's not going to be about those things.  Benoit's gonna tell his family to not watch, because he doesn't want them to see the "unthinkable" things he's going to do to Edge.  When Benoit decides it's time to wrap up, he says, "I don't have any catchphrases to leave you with, Edge. So I leave you with my anger.  Sleep well."  Nice stuff.

[ads]

Nothing to do With Anything: the Detroit Pistons (only the SECOND best team in the East last year, last I checked) wore Replica World Title Belts at their opening night championship ceremony.

Shelton Benjamin vs. Tyson Tomko (Non-Title Match)

Just an ultra-time-compressed little ditty here.  They try to convey the idea that Shelton's ribs are still tender after Viscera's Fat Man Attack last week, and so Shelton spends about 90 seconds kinda on defense.  But then he fires up, Christian tries to hop up into the ring to short-circuit the rally (but eats a superkick), and then Shelton hits the T-Bone Powerslam on Tomko for the win (note to JR: it was funny last week when we both came up with the "Well Done T-Bone" joke, simultaneously, but I was only gonna use it once; I'm not sure sure that dog'll hunt).  Two minutes, tops, and utterly forgettable, but probably effective enough for reminding us about Sunday's PPV IC Title match.

SD! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.

[ads]

The Highlight Reel of Potential Extreme Awesomeness Gone Awry

OK, so earlier in the show, I see the graphic for "Highlight Reel with guests Trish and Lita," and I ALMOST start thinking this could be every bit as good as the Edge/Benoit main event given how superb two of the three personalities involved are.  Didn't quite work out that way, unfortunately.

Once Jericho gets the two women to the ring, he also announces that he's got a ref here in the ring to make sure that we don't have any unnecessary catfighting before the PPV (no "Jerry-cho Springer," says Y2J, which I can't decide if it's funny -- because of  the fact that I don't care for the Springer-ness of Lita's drama -- or cheesy -- because it's a bad pun).  Then Trish takes the mic and announces that she can't believe that Jericho would risk having Lita on the Highlight Reel, because it was just last week that Trish revealed that Lita was the "Walking Kiss of Death," and by having her on his show, Jericho was only guaranteeing that his show -- just like "Dark Angel" -- would be cancelled.  Tee hee.  Jericho counters by saying that the only thing that'll be cancelled around here will be his subscription to "Better Sluts and Gardens" now that he's got the real thing in front of him (another can't-decide-if-Jericho-muffed-one-or-not moment, since I totally dig the idea, but I also sat here wondering how in the blue hell you pass up the line "Better Hoes and Gardens").

Trish acts indignant, but also decides to shift gears; instead of being all charmingly cynical and clever, she tries a straight-up heel promo.  Well, mostly.  In the middle of all the "you've got too much drama going on to be focused, and that's when mistakes get made, and you'll never be able to take my title" stuff, Trish did still sneak in a line about how "You've been out of action for too long... well, out of IN-RING action."  Ah, and just like that, Trish is right again; there IS a slut in the ring, and truly, she is Lita!  Lita sits there and takes it, and again, it's a tubby joke that turns the tide.... Lita grabs a mic and rambles about how "all the things I've been through the past 8 months, I'm going to take out all my frustration out on you at Survivor Series."  She closes by saying she IS the Walking Kiss of Death and that on Sunday, Trish had better pucker up.  Well, nobody in their right mind could possibly give two shits about "everything Lita's been through the last 8 months" (because in so far as there is an audience "Jerry-cho Springer" crap like what Lita's been through, it's so that people can watch it and laugh at the sorry excuses for human beings airing their ricockulous drama for the world, and NOT to be sympathized with), but that was a killer punchline.... "Pucker Up" is the kind of thing Lita fans can put on a sign and stuff like that, if they keep running with the Kiss of Death gimmick.  Nice.

But before we can get ourselves a Survivor Series preview, Snitsky's music hits. And he comes out with a "baby" in his arms and babytalk sound effects playing over the house speakers.  And I dunno, maybe this was funny to some of you, but to me it was kind pointless and dumb, and then it REALLY started sucking when Lita started acting HONESTLY shell-shocked and mortified.  Look: I already said it about 150 words ago, and I gotta drive the point home again already... if you want people to like Lita, you can't have her acting like one of these wastes of space that populate trailer parks and daytime TV shows. OK, so you can't undo the summer's worth of shitty WWE storytelling, but now that it's past, you can have Lita start acting like a normal person.  You know, Snitsky wants to come out with a doll and mock Lita and then punt the doll into the audience? Fine, that's kind of assholish, I guess...  but if you want people to sympathize with Lita rather than chuckle at Snitsky (or, in my case, just lower my head in shame), then how about having Lita sit there with a smirk on her face, saying, "Hey, look, what I went through sucked, but I'm past it, and Snitsky, this stupid, sophomoric bullshit isn't gonna get to me."  But no; they have Lita weeping and curled up on the floor, utterly terrorized by Snitsky's juvenile and uncreative headgames.

Somebody at WWE either has a complete lack of understanding of how to create likeable personalities, or *I* have a complete lack of understanding of WWE's target audience... actually, oh shit, maybe it's the latter and I should zip it right now. Cuz a few weeks ago, I actually did get an e-mail from a female reader who said she'd had it up-to-here with my misogynistic woman-hating as evidenced by something along these lines I'd said about Lita.  Which is so far off-base that it kinda got under my skin (I don't hate women, I hate stupid people!  And in this entire ordeal, Lita has been VERY stupid!), so I'll just say no more about how this is yet another case of Lita becoming a loathsome character, rather than a sympathetic one.  I'd hate to give anyone any more ammo for having the wrong idea about The Me. If I'm guilty of anything, trust me, it's being TOO nice of a guy; at least, until I find out you're stupid.

The punchline of this bit? Jericho had had enough of Snitsky's intimidation of Lita, and stepped in.  So Snitsky beat the crap out of Jericho, tossing him into the ringpost, and then leaving to "asshole" chants.  Alright, well, so I guess it's a "win" from the perspective that at least now Snitsky's got some kind of heat with one of the members of the opposing Survivor Series team.... but again, I hear "Trish on the Highlight Reel," and my mind races to myriad awesome possibilities, and this was none of them. I guess I set myself up to be disappointed in this case...

[ads]

You're Not Helping Matters, JR: in an extended video package, the previous segment's shortcomings are underscored when Jim Ross really over-sells the heinousness of Snitsky's actions.  What he did to Lita was just plain dumb; Lita's reaction was even dumber; taking 2 minutes to recap the dumbness and have JR act like it wasn't dumb is dumbest of all!  What they needed to focus on was that this came down to Snitsky vs. Jericho, since that may be a value-add come the PPV.

Simon Says: The Same Basic Stuff as Last Week

We are again introduced to "RAW's newest sponsor" who has been granted live in-ring time on RAW "by order of Eric Bischoff."  And as reasonably entertaining as Simon was last week, that was because he got to cut loose and do edgier material than he did in his flaccid TV ad spots.

This week, he is again "giving away a year's supply of the Simon System," and again goes around the ring, mocking fans who might be a bit tubby (and even one guy who seemed to be pretty averagely-built). He finally focuses on one woman -- who a certain type of individual might call a "great big fat person," and who another type of individual might reply by saying "yes sir, she was a large girl," revealing what movie's second-half a hypothetical THIRD type of individual watched on Cinemax immediately after RAW while waiting for his Letterman Time Shift to accumulate -- who he coaxes into the ring.  More alleged edginess (in the form of asking her when last she was laid) and then some of the Purest Anviliciousness (on my couch, I swear to you, I hit the "everything's bigger in Texas" line about 30 seconds before Simon and his methodical delivery got to it).

The woman finally grudgingly agrees to try Simon's System, figuring it can't hurt to try, right?  So Simon feeds her a glass of Tang, she grants that it's pretty tasty, and Simon feels he's proven how awesome his product is.  Except then he hamstrings himself by declaring that "As fat as you are, I figure you might see results if you drink 20 gallons a day for the next year."  The woman gets pissed and tosses the rest of her glass of Tang in Simon's face, and then she leaves the ring.  As she tries to negotiate the ringside barrier to get back to her seat, Simon sneaks up behind her and dumps the full pitcher of Tang on her head, and then leaves as Lawler (who only added to the uncomfortableness of this skit with his mean-spirited commentary) suggests that even with 19 gallons left to go, the fat is already melting away.  Whatever.

Any of us who saw Nova in ECW know what Mike Bucci can do, and sadly, fans who didn't are probably already getting tired of "Simon Dean." I hope the hook is coming sooner rather than later, because doing the same crap over and over again is just lazy. This reeks of Vince McMahon's very-bad sense of humor (poop is funny, mocking fat people is funny, fucking-an-old-man-to-death is funny, and so forth), and I fear that nobody will have the sense to speak up and turn this into a sustainable CHARACTER before the Simon Dean GIMMICK is dead.  

Hey, I got it!  Everybody suspects that one of these weeks Simon's first Actual Wrestler guest will be Rosey (because they've been testing that out on the house shows), but you know what I'd do: have Simon confront Tubby Lita!  Because making fun of pudgy fans is just kind of cheap and lazy, but he might get a bit more genuine heel heat if he can wedge himself into Lita's stupid crap by pretending she's fat!  And if Lita's Kiss of Death is gonna cancel one of these non-wrestling vignette segments, I vote for putting a bullet in "The Simon System," post haste, before it bores again!

[ads]

Triple H vs. Tajiri

Huh; in Monday's column, I predicted a squashing of Tajiri by Batista, figuring that Tajiri's Moment from last week was too good and went over too well to NOT follow up on it...  I didn't LIKE the idea of Tajiri getting wasted, but my Wrestling IQ is such that I knew it was the right play.  But this is even better!  In a lot of ways, you can win by losing to HHH if he wants you to (insert your favorite HHH vs. A Total Underdog match here).

So just as I'm getting excited for a little 6 minute TV Special, what happens?  Snitsky's Anvil happens.

Tajiri gets out onto the stage, Snitsky attacks him from behind, and after a 60-second beatdown, Tajiri is left lying outside the ring. There will be no match, there will be no "win-by-losing" for Tajiri, there will be no following-up on a very effectively-crafted moment from the week before. Because we need to bludgeon fans over the head with something that they should probably already know...

HHH grabs a mic and tries to kiss up to Snitsky by congratulating him on a job well done, and welcoming him to the team... but Snitsky replies by saying that when the team wins at Survivor Series, it'll be because of him, and when he gets to control RAW, he's coming for HHH and the World Title.  Oh my, how shocking~!  Snitsky doesn't work and play well with others!  And now, instead of it being an understood (if unstated) POSSIBILITY, it's slapping us right in the face.....

And yes, my manlove of Tajiri probably didn't help here, either. [Nor did Snitsky being over-exposed here after already getting his TV time in earlier in what I thought was ample Survivor Series teasing for him.] But there was just no reason for this bit; and in fact, there were a hundred other BETTER ways to ambiguously hint at this than having Snitsky short-circuit what could well have been a very entertaining little wrestling match.

[ads]

Mohammed Hassan Speaks: this time, Hassan and his manager are standing in a park in a nice suburban region, talking about how when they grew up and went to school, they were treated just like everybody else. And that all changed on 9/11, and now they are vilified, and all Hassan asks is that when he comes to WWE, he be given a chance and be judged by his talents, and not by his ethnicity. Again, on paper, it sounds like a very rational, sane spiel, but they've clearly coach Hassan in the trick of talking slowly and methodically so as to turn a rational words into heel shtick. And again, it's an odd position I'm in, cuz I, personally, don't give two shits about political correctness, but I also hate when WWE thoughtlessly does stuff to bring unnecessary attention upon themselves from PC Cops elsewhere.  As last week: after Hassan said his piece, he turned it over to his manager, Khosrow Daivari, who translated into spirited, ranting Arabic. And just when I was BEGGING for him to close with "cam-a-ra-man, zoom da abs," he instead calmed down and said, "Merci," and smiled smugly.

Survivor Series Hype: first, a visit from Tazz and Cole for the SD! side of the PPV card, then JR and King run the RAW side. Coming out of the hype package, King gets on a live house mic and reminds the UT-friendly crowd in Austin that Jim Ross is an Oklahoma Sooner.  Boo on JR?  OK, whatever....

Backstage: Diva Search Loser is back again this week, and is interviewing Edge. And by "interviewing," I mean "holding a mic and smiling dimly while Edge tries to act intense and focused even though the girl appears to not be registering anything he's saying." Oy, at least Terri Runnels had the good sense to get a look of terror on her face when big men started shouting naughty things in her general vicinity.  Edge says he had his TV debut here in Austin, and when he thought back on that, he had an epiphany: because what's going to happen here tonight is even more important. Last week, he made Benoit bleed, and all the years of frustration melted away... but then they came back. So tonight, he's gonna get that feeling back.  Like Trish earlier, Edge appears to be going out of his way to avoid being clever and likeable, he's just bringing the Pure Heel (this time, it works on me, cuz I actually like Benoit! HA!)...  Edge is in the middle of an asshole rant about what he's gonna do to Benoit when HHH saunters in, sipping on some ice cold water after his "tough match."  Feeling another anvil, anyone?  Sure enough, HHH tries to buddy up to HHH, and just as surely, Edge cuts him off and says, "I saw what Snitsky said to you earlier, and he's wrong. When we win at Survivor Series, it won't be HIM coming after you, it'll be ME."  At least Snitsky's Anvil was SEMI-defensible since he's never had any interactions with HHH (although most perceptive fans should be able to figure out that Snitsky's not a team player); but this one?  Anybody who's been watching RAW for more than 3 weeks should know that Edge's entire heel turn was predicated on WANTING HHH'S TITLE. And yet, they feel the need to spell it out here, taking away from an Edge promo that SHOULD have been spent putting some stank on his upcoming match against Benoit....

[ads]

Backstage: HHH walks into the Evolution locker room and plops down next to Batista.  HHH says he can't believe the insubordination... he he says that maybe Batista should have a talk with Snitsky and Edge, because HHH can't trust himself to control his temper.  Batista makes assuring noises as HHH storms out of the room in a huff. But HHH, he left his title belt on the couch.  And Batista sees it.  Picks it up.  Fondles it.  Appears lost in thought.  This, my friends, is NOT an anvil, not by a long stretch.  It is, in fact, a nice little touch. But it WOULD have been a billion times more effective if not for the preceding two anvils and the discretion and subtlety here only underscores how unnecessarily-ham-handed the bits with Edge and Snitsky were.

Chris Benoit vs. Edge

For Reasons Unexplained, the Red Headed Spaz is out to be the guest ring announcer.  Probably because somebody at Titan Tower realized that if they found room for a Diva Search Loser on TV, but couldn't find a spot for the Ostensible Diva Search Winner, it'd REALLY go a long way to proving how 100% Right certain Ruggedly Handsome and Exceptionally Witty Internet Personalities might have been about the pointlessness and stupidity of said contest.

Both guys get to the ring, and unfortunately, though they IMMEDIATELY go to the exact kind of super-crisp, really-tight, nicely-stiff back-and-forthy early match stuff that totally butters my popcorn, the fans aren't into it. [Note: I blame the Anvil of HHH interrupting Edge's promo, when if Benoit had made the Saunter In for that promo for a face-to-face, it would have goosed the fans into remembering how cool this main event would be.]  Benoit got an early advantage with a nice belly-to-back, but Edge came back, using a handful of tights to toss Benoit out of the ring.  Edge controlled for a few minutes, and when Benoit started a comeback, Edge kinda decided that maybe he didn't want to stick around for the ass-whomping that was to follow. So instead of letting Benoit fire up on him, Edge just took off, and walked up the ramp.

But OMG PSCYHOLOGY~!, it was all a ruse!  Benoit, his good judgment clouded by the Rabies (or so I hear), followed Edge up the ramp, and as soon as he got within three feet, Edge turned around and leveled Benoit with a clothesline.  Quality Dick Move.  Edge continued with the domination, ramming Benoit into the ring apron and stuff like that.  With Edge smirking at his handiwork in the ring, and Benoit crumpled on the mat, I'm thinking it's time for commercial endorsements, but AGAIN, they shake things up... Benoit struggles back into the ring, and tries to rejoin the fight, and it's about 30 seconds later, when Edge starts stomping him down again that JR says "OK folks, we gotta take our last...."

[ads... completely pointless aside: my Time Shift was used up by this break, so I wound up having to watch these last ads, including the first look I got at the Torrie/Stacy ad for the new PS2 videogame... this has nothing to do with the game itself -- although I'm DAMNED close to buying a PlayStation just so I can play the new GTA game, so maybe I should pay attention -- but I just want to point out that as a man who has periodically found a pair o' glasses on the right face to be inexplicably tasty, I canNOT believe that you've got the girl who was never hotter than when she was Miss Handcock sitting right there, and instead, they put the spectacles on Torrie Wilson.  WWE's poor decision making -- not to mention my pointless rambling! -- extends to all new unthinkable realms!]

Back, and Edge is working Chinlock #8748 (man, chinlocks and awkwardly-timed ad breaks; SMELL the continuity!)... and as soon as Benoit starts to fire up, that's when we cue Lemmy's trademark growl for a discourse on "Evil-lution."  Here come Triple H and Batista to uneven the odds. Except that Edge is just as distracted by this as Benoit, since he made it pretty clear he desired no real partnership with Evolution...  they stay back and forth, and when Edge starts taking over again, we cue Randy Orton's Shitty Song, and out come Orton, Jericho, and Some Other Guy. [Note: the ONLY way Snitsky's attack on Tajiri becomes retroactively useful is if they do some angle on Heat this Sunday where Snitsky crosses paths with Maven and grievously injures him, and Tajiri steps in as the Surprise Replacement Partner for Benoit/Jericho/Orton. Because lord knows at this point, Tajiri honestly has more business in that match than Maven, given what they've done with Maven the last 2 weeks. And plus: General Manager Tajiri~!  How much more entertaining would that be than GM Maven?!? I'll tell you: LOTS!]

With five extra guys around the ring, it's pretty much Anvil Central here (although in this case, I TOTALLY grant that it was my naiveté that led me to hope for more Edge/Benoit goodness the likes of which they unleashed on us on SD! in 2002; this match had to tell a story, not rack up Meltzer Stars, and I can deal with that, I guess), since now we're guaranteed a non-finish.  However, on the upside, with the extracurriculars picking up, the crowd is also heating up and is really getting into the match.

Benoit and Edge up the intensity, too; Edge was in control at the time of the latest run-in, and he stays in control, leading up to what is just the coolest spot you can imagine...  Edge tries to match Benoit's Suplex Mastery by unloading a belly-to-belly, but Benoit does this cool thing where he blocks the suplex with his legs, then uses a series of bad-ass headbutts to make it look like he's gonna turn it into a belly-to-belly of his own, but then Edge improvises and just picks Benoit up and spinebusters him.  Just one of those cool spots that involves about 4-5 reversals/counters, but everything looks real, and is incredibly crisp.  *This* is what I like about pro wrestling....  the tide finally turns when Benoit catches Edge trying to hit a move from the top rope.  Instead, Benoit turns it into a Superplex.  Cuz the ref's double-count, but Benoit is up at 9, and at about the 15 minute mark, they're going back and forth with a slugfest.  Benoit finally takes over.

They take it to the outside, where Benoit just goes medieval, tossing Edge from pillar to post (or at least, ringside barrier to ringpost) with extreme velocity.  Benoit tosses him back into the ring.  It might be time for End Game!  Benoit locks in the Sharpshooter, and Edge is precariously close to tapping... but he finally gets to the ropes for the break.  Edge gets further separation by by poking Benoit in the eyes when Benoit tries to follow up... but almost immediately there after, Edge moves in, and winds up getting the Hat Trick of Germans for his troubles.  Benoit follows up with the Swan Dive Headbutt, and then makes the cover.  But Edge kicks out at 2; but in ANOTHER cool little bit of crisp realism, Benoit IMMEDIATELY floats over into the Crippler Crossface. Edge is in SERIOUS trouble...  he's gonna tap out if something doesn't happen.

So of course, this is when Batista attacks the ref and HHH attacks Benoit, and then Jericho/Orton/Maven attack HHH/Batista.  The brawl is on, and just as the faces seem ready to take control, Snitsky comes in and cleans house.  The heels are milling around after scattering the faces, and HHH backs into Snitsky; he turns around, and Snitsky makes angry faces.  HHH turns around again, and is face to face with Edge, who makes the International Sign for "I Want The Belt."  Finally Batista comes to HHH's side, and we have a two-on-two staredown...  but that is interrupted when the babyfaces attack!  Benoit dispatches Edge; Maven gets to toss Batista; Jericho ejects Snitsky; and Orton gets rid of HHH.  The heels retreat, the babyfaces celebrate, and because it wasn't even his main event match and there's no good reason to injure the Rick's ears for the FOURTH FUCKING TIME TONIGHT, Randy Orton gets his music played as RAW fades out.

SPECIAL CLOSING INTERLUDE~!

So I quit doing the "Final Analysis" section and have tried to reign in my extraneous ranting here in the recap the last few months... but in this case, I presented a VERY specific thesis about RAW being kind of lazy and uncreative, and I think if one makes a claim like that, one should also present the solution along with the problem identification.

Here, I'm really kinda disappointed in how RAW handled the main event elements... last week's strength on RAW was ambiguity and leaving open so many options.  This week, they just hammered away and hammered away on this "HHH is under fire from all sides" story that there's no real drama left.  Unless this week's bludgeoning obviousness is masking some future UNobviousness (like this setting up a HHH face turn when he's under seige from Snitsky and Edge and maybe even Batista, to be accompanied by the Orton heel re-turn that I've been begging for), then I don't like this at all. And we all know how much trouble I get into when I start getting attached to fantastical ideas like HHH/Orton flipping roles; I become unable to appreciate the product in front of me, so at this juncture, I'm not even going to contemplate that possibility...  but WWE may feel free to prove me wrong.

Anyway, to fix RAW, I have a small handful of VERY simple Fantasy RetroBooking suggestions.  It lands us in pretty much the same final spot, but gets us there in a more subtle way, and also does a few things different to make the show as a whole a bit more fun of a ride.  Try this on for size....

Change #1: shave 6 minutes off the opening match.  Sorry, but though it ended strong, there just was NOT 22 minutes of action in that one.

Change #2: Snitsky does NOT interrupt HHH/Tajiri, and instead, our newfound 6 minutes are invested in letting HHH and Tajiri have a fun little TV match in which HHH does his trademarked job of tricking us into thinking he might lose. But then he doesn't.  This pays off on the cool moment they did for Tajiri the week before, instead of wasting it.  [Yes, I know that I have my own affinity for Tajiri that you may not share, but seriously, what is the point of having him in this mix unless you want to pay off on it?  I don't care if the end is HHH winning decisively; I just want closure.  Now we'll never get it, because Snitsky's Anvil was deemed more important.]

Change #3: HHH does NOT interrupt Edge's promo. Any idiot watching RAW knows that Edge craves the title...  what some idiots might need some help on is why Benoit/Edge will be a killer main event. So you have Benoit walk in on Edge's interview, instead, and you have the two Actual Combatants in the main event exchange heated words, which would hopefully have the effect of getting the live fans more into the match from the opening minutes.

Important Exactly The Same #1: they still do that cool bit with Batista fondling the Title Belt. If the other two guys do NOT do their State the Obvious bits, Batista's goldlust becomes a bit more intriguing, since HE is ostensibly HHH's buddy, but he's the only one who gives us a true outward hint of wanting HHH's title.  Must be subtle, ambiguous, mysterious... not bludgeoning!

And finally, Change #4 is to the main event...  everything stays EXACTLY the same until Benoit locks Edge into the Crippler Crossface. At this point, we go into the Rick's Alternate Universe for THIS finish:

Edge kicks out at 2; but in ANOTHER cool little bit of crisp realism, Benoit IMMEDIATELY floats over into the Crippler Crossface. Edge is in SERIOUS trouble...  he's gonna tap out if something doesn't happen.  Edge needs help, and he staring right at HHH and Batista at ringside, asking for it.  HHH starts moving in to interfere, but gets cut off by Jericho, Orton, and Maven.  HHH and Edge lock eyes, and Edge is begging for the assist, but HHH is backing down, cowed by the Wall of Babyfaces in front of him.  And suddenly: BREAK THE WALL DOWN!  Cuz here's Snitsky, who attacks the Jericho/Orton/Maven trio from behind.  HHH and Batista join in the attack, easily pounding down the faces. Maven is dispatched by Snitsky, and then Snitsky/Batista engage Jericho/Orton; the ref has gotten distracted by this (he bails out of the ring to break up the four man brawl, in so doing, takes a bump, and effectively, this match becomes a No Decision).  Benoit has been equally distracted, though, and releases the Crossface... he seems to contemplate a Plancha onto the Jericho/Orton/Batista/Snitsky foursome at ringside, but he's lost track of HHH.  HHH sneaks up behind Benoit, and hits an uppercut to the nutsac.  Benoit crumples, and HHH stomps away until Benoit is out of the ring, where Batista has pretty well finished off Orton and Snitsky has gotten the better of Jericho.

HHH backs away to appreciate his team's handiwork, but backs right into a Disgruntled Edge.  HHH is all "What's your problem," and through the magic of Broad Gesturing, Edge explains, "Hey, I was close to having to tap out and you wouldn't get in here to save me, what gives?"  HHH doesn't appreciate Edge's insubordination, and turns to Snitsky, who has just come into the ring, but Snitsky also manages to convey his own idea, which is, "While you were being a pussy, I came out here and saved this team by attacking Jericho, Orton, and Maven."  No mics for this entire closing segment (because this isn't a promo, this is a genuine interaction, and when you're arguing with people, you DON'T stop to ask for a microphone), but the ring mics can pick up the important snippets of conversation. Now HHH is REALLY wondering what's going on, and looks for Batista, who is just getting back into the ring after stepping away from Orton.

HHH gives him a firm "Batista, come here, I need you."  And although Batista was just moments ago fondling the World Title Belt and contemplating his own future as a champion, he gets this look on his face that says, "Alright, goddammit, I got your back Trips."  Uneasy eyes all around, as HHH gives a boisterous pep talk about how they'd all better get on the same page by Survivor Series, because they need to win that match.  Edge and Snitsky eventually nod a grudging agreement, though cameras catch Edge -- at a key juncture when HHH talks about "and then WE will run RAW" -- eyeballing the World Title belt, and catch Snitsky getting visibly angry when HHH gives him a motivating slap on the chest and then immediately turns away (Batista does another resigned, half-assed step in to calm Snitsky down).  Convinced he's done the job, HHH turns back around to face his team, and asks them if he can count on them.  Batista first; he can't even look HHH in the eyes (ashamed that he's had impure thoughts about Hunter's title, maybe?), but nods agreement.  Edge and Snitsky are just getting ready to nod when....

BABYFACES ATTACK~! First, we get a spotlight moment as Orton takes out HHH with a clothesline over the top... then Maven manages to toss Batista out of the ring...  and Jericho hits a double-jump drop kick, sending Snitsky to the mats...  and finally, it's Benoit and Edge, and Benoit belly-to-belly suplexes Edge out of the ring.  The four heels are outside the ring, each on one of four sides, anything BUT on the same page.... but the four faces are in the ring together, victorious and fully synchronous by all outward appearances.  Hit Benoit's music (because it was his main event match, and his big spot on his main event opponent Edge that provided the punchline to the post-match antics!), and we fade out on a very strong, devoid-of-anvils, whetting-our-appetites-for-Survivor-Series edition of RAW....   

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: 18 Seconds? NO! NO! NO!
 
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
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Backfired!
 
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
 
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
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
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: #striketwo
 
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
 
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: You're Welcome
 
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Needs More Kane?
 
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Lady Power
 
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?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
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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