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December 7, 2004

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, for about 45 terrifying minutes last night, I was dreading having to do this job today. I was thinking WWE *wanted* me to pull another hissy fit with the asinine way they kicked off the show, and with the complete and utter lack of consistency and logic they are applying to key storylines.
But then things got a little better. On the whole, it's still not a particularly strong show, but it's one that had a few notable highlights. It's one where, if you leave the grand theoretical bitching at the door, still had enough stand-alone moments to be amusing. At least, during the second half of the show. I remain furious at that theoretical level,

of course, because for the second time in two weeks, the Fed seemed to come right out and say, "We don't care what you want, we don't care what makes sense, we don't care what precedents exists, and we don't care that we're fumbling this Guest GM thing so badly that, frankly, we're embarrassed for ourselves. We're still gonna shove some lazy, piece of shit, just-invented-it-maybe-last-week, sure-as-hell-didn't-plan-for-this-back-a-month-ago nonsense down your throats. And you better like it."

But I'm not gonna give voice to those sorts of complaints. At least, not till tomorrow. For now, let's try to downplay the unpleasantness, let's try to keep the ranting to a minimum, and let's try to tell you what happened on RAW....

Cold Open: Not Even Jericho Can Polish a Turd Theatre
(or, "Deus ex McMahonicha: How to Suck Without Even Trying Very Hard")

We immediately open up, LIVE from Charlotte, NC, with the Highlight Reel in the ring... and DAMN, Jericho's theme song sure got FAT all of a sudden.  Oh, wait: that's just cuz Fozzy's over there playing it live in the corner.  And they've got a really muddy-sounding mix.

Jericho welcomes us to RAW is JERICHO, and says he'll get to important business ("Benoit or Edge?" And no, not even Jericho is sharp enough to mention Triple H) later, but first, it's PARTY TIME! And at Chris Jericho's party, EVERYBODY GETS LAID! Or rather, everybody gets "lei'd"!  AH HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! But not really. Brightly colored plastic leis fall from the sky, as Jericho spends about 90 seconds attempting to riff on the "getting lei'd" concept. Sadly, this is not funny to start, and Y2J does NOT manage, this time, to drive it SO far into the ground that it somehow boomerangs around and becomes funny, as can be done with some very bad jokes told by very good people. Instead, it just sucks. Or maybe I'm just a tense little party-pooper who needs a good lei?  See, it's not funny when I do it, either!

Jericho also lays (leis?) out a few other items of business for tonight, which includes his Trish Stratus vs. Lita Women's Title match, and then also a "Chris Jericho Rock 'n' Roll Limbo-A-Go-Go Contest." Christ, have I allotted enough of a Time Shift for this crap? And also: music from his band, Fozzy.  D'oh.  You know, I'm quite confident Fozzy rocks live, with all the fun-ass covers they do, and I'd love to see 'em play a show some day... but there's a difference between saying, "Hey, I have a Vanity Rock Side Project, come check it out if you want" and saying, "Hey, during this wrestling show you paid to see, I am now going to force you to listen to my Vanity Rock Side Project." That's kind of an asshole move, really.  Let's just say there's a reason why I've never required download of one of my bands' new shitty singles before you can read my Wrestling Columns...

But let's also move on, since Jericho wants to get to the bottom of the World Title Controversy. So first he shows us a bunch of different replays. It sure looks like Benoit got pinned at the exact same instant that Edge tapped out... so, Jericho proclaims, this is a controversy too big for him, it's not something he should decide. So he invites WWE Chairman Vince McMahon to come out to the ring.

[Allow my ONE flashback from last week: WHAT THE FUCKING FUCKITY FUCK FUCK FUCK IS THIS HAPPY CRAPPY?  The answer to a question no one asked, that's what Vince is. I'd like it to be special, to be a big deal, when Vince makes an appearance. But this is two straight weeks of Vince coming out at a time when he's got no business being there because he's the lazy plot contrivance for a creative team that has officially made my Shit List. "Hey, we have to introduce some plot point that makes abso-fucking-lutely NO sense whatsoever. Let's just send Vince out there to wield his Chairmanly Powers and force that new plot point down everybody's throats! Who cares that we're essentially having Chris Jericho cut his own nutsac off and hand it to Vince? The fans will LOVE it when Jericho castrates his character to allow Vince to make the most unsatisfying announcement of all times! Hey, does anybody even remember why we came up with the Guest GM thing in the first place? No? Me either! Don't worry about, I'm sure our next random idea be even better!"]

So out comes Vince, carrying the World Title Belt. Jericho wants him to name the champ. But Vince waffles, saying it looks like Benoit got pinned AND Edge tapped out. So in Vince's mind, that's a tie. [Notice Vince avoids saying "a draw," because if he said that, then he just reminds us all that he's got no business out here, since rules are already in place to govern draws. This, my friends, is WWE's idea of "clever" these days. Playing simplistic little word games.] And before Vince can expound much further, Triple H interrupts him, wearing a big smile.

HHH gets to the ring, and Vince says he has one word for HHH: "Congratulations." HHH is about to take his title belt back, but Vince continues, "Congratulations on being a best selling author." You can lather, rinse, and repeat with Vince using HHH's movie debut, and HHH not being amused that he's NOT being congratulated on being the champ.  Finally, HHH just makes a grab for the title belt, and Vince snaps, "Did I make you the World Champion? I don't think I made you the World Champion."

In fact, Vince continues, he's not making ANYONE the World Champ tonight. And it's right here you can cue the lusty boos from the crowd, since they've just realized that WWE is crapping out on them yet again. Vince first says he's going to plop this problem in the lap of GM Eric Bischoff when Bischoff returns next week (and with that, Vince just took the dick and balls that Jericho handed over and just sort of stomped them into the mat; you won't be needing those, Chris, just preside impotently over a shitty limbo contest and proceed immediately to a feud with Mohammed Hassan, Junior!). More boos. But then Vince tries to hit his Happy Ending Punchline: he says that when Bischoff inherits these problems next week, he's inheriting a VACANT World Title!  Because Vince McMahon is stripping HHH of the title and holding it up, and HHH is NO LONGER THE WORLD CHAMP!

Hey, monkeys in the audience, you're supposed to CHEER for that!  But you didn't!  I wonder why?  Is it because you love Triple H and think he got screwed?  No?  Well, then it must be because you fricking hate lazy, nonsensical, randomized storytelling as much as I do!  You want a vacant title, WWE? Well, I'd argue that that's a dumb-ass thing to want, but if you MUST, then there are about one billion better ways to do it.  At LEAST a billion.  Just try listening to the audience every now and again: they'll tell you I'm right.

Hit Vince's music as he leaves the ring to boos; HHH stays in the ring, makes funny faces, and in general, seethes.  I have no idea WHERE Our Alleged General Manager got off to. Clearly, his wisdom and guidance wasn't needed here, though.


Backstage (In a Hallway): Triple H is furious about not being the World Champion, and Ric Flair is playing along at his loud, flailing, indignant best. But then HHH spies Batista standing nearby. HHH does not like Batista's lack of over-acting!  "This is as angry as you get?" asks HHH.  Batista says he's plenty angry, he just expresses it differently. Holy Christ~! Score another one for Batista!  In a landscape of over-reactive drama queens (and drama kings), he's just a regular guy who doesn't feel the need to fly off the handle like a dumbass! But HHH is in Drama King mode, and doesn't like how Batista "expresses himself." He accuses Batista of being tacitly responsible for what went wrong in last week's 3-way title match. But Batista's not having any of it. "If it wasn't for me saving your ass last week, there wouldn't be any controversy. If it wasn't for me, Chris Benoit would have made you tap out, and he'd be the champion, PERIOD.  You're welcome." And then Batista walks away. And HHH starts throwing furniture around. Good stuff; as long as they keep it slow and real with Batista's developing persona, I'll be happy....

Elsewhere Backstage (in the GM Office): Man, for as much as I dig the guy, Jericho sure throws pretty lame parties. For one, he claims to be a huge rock star, but for all the world looked like he spent 2 hours under a blow-drier today, and then borrowed Randy Orton's wardrobe. For two: drinks with umbrellas in them? Bad, Jericho, Bad! In fact, if I'd been Jericho, at this point, I'd have realized my dumbass boss had prevented me from wrestling for the World Title, and I'd be getting blind drunk on something WITHOUT an umbrella in it and giving myself the night off from wrestling, resigned to making a few smart-ass comments peppered throughout the rest of the night. Also: heavy boozing might render such stimulating company as the Phalanx of Useless Divas a bit more tolerable! And it would be sure to loosen my lips when I MC'ed that Limbo Contest, possibly resulting in Actual Entertainment! Dammit, I am rambling again...  let's restart...

Elsewhere Backstage (In the GM Office): Chris Jericho is throwing a lame party when he is interrupted by Christian. Christian wants to know what's up with this goofy costume Jericho put in his locker; Jericho rattles off many of the Great Captains In History (even here, many funnier punchlines were missed, since NOBODY mentioned Captain Lou Albino), and says that tonight, it's the Adventures of Captain Charisma. Christian has to wear the goofy costume if he wants his last shot at Shelton Benjamin's IC Title. Christian is miffed, and says he won't forget this.  Jericho's fine with that, since tonight's gonna be a night that no one ever, EEEVVVVVER forgets agayn. Which is when Chris Benoit saunters into frame.  Jericho and Benoit have to gloss over the idiotic way that the GM has no say in the World Title Mess, and instead, Jericho placates Benoit by making a tag match in which Benoit can take out some of his aggression against Triple H and Batista... with his partner Y2J. This was well delivered, actually (especially the stuff with Christian), but I hate being more upset about the Lameness of the World Title Picture than two men who should have Actual World Title Aspirations...  

Trish vs. Lita Video Moment #1: Trish does something funny and clever, and Lita overreacts like the humorless, Springer-esque drama queen that she is.


Corporately Sponsored Video Clip of the Night: Maven turned heel and threw Eugene into the ring steps.

Maven vs. Eugene

Out of the gates, Maven is making a big show out of being all smiley and friendly. Eugene is believing every minute of it, although William Regal is NOT. Actually, this is a nice piece of business: Eugene does one of his cute little idiot savant offensive moves, and they'd cut to a quick close-up on Maven, who'd have a pissed look on his face but would then IMMEDIATELY switch over to a 80,000 mega-watt grin that anybody should be able to see was fake. Anybody but Eugene. So they go back and forth with Clean Wrestling and Mutual Respect for about 3 minutes, and then Maven does a spot where he runs the ropes and then flops face-first to the mat. The ref catches this out of the corner of his eye, and turns: Maven blames William Regal for tripping him up (Regal was a good 8 feet away). The ref has no choice: he ejects Regal. With Regal gone, Maven takes the first available opportunity to ditch the friendly act, and sneak attacks Eugene.  About 30 seconds of a solid beating, and then before he can Eugene Up, Maven ties Eugene to the tree of woe, and continues the assault.  When Maven won't break at a five count, the ref disqualifies him. Eugene wins Round 1 by DQ (about 4-5 minutes, and not much as a wrestling match, but a well told little story).  Maven gets good heat as he continues the attack, post-match, and then also beats the tar out of Regal when Regal tries to make the save (using one of the tag title belts).


Jericho STILL Can't Polish a Turd Theatre

Sadly, Jericho's gotta wrestle tonight, so he's not blitzed off his ass and in the mood to make wildly inappropriate comments about a slew of Limbo Bimbos. So as he presides over a dumbass, not-sexy, utterly-pointless Limbo Contest, I can only think of three things to say:

(1) If you think I'm recapping this crap, you're crazy
(2) I decided last night that the only reason they brought Fozzy in to play really loud live music over the Limbo Contest is so that you couldn't hear the fans audibly not giving a shit! Fozzy's shitty sound mix drowned out the apathy! Way to think ahead, WWE!
(3) At least this was short. About 4 minutes.

Then, for no discernable reason, Jericho (still all dressed up and in Johnny Blowdry mode, and not looking like much of a rock star) decided to bust into song, and joined Fozzy up on the stage for "Don't You Wish You Were Me?"  Well, maybe more than I (as Coach idiotically posited last week) wish I was Orton, but still: with regards to this exact performance, the less said, the better...

And then the lights went out, and Khosrow Daivari and Mohammed Hassan appeared on the TitanTron. They theorize that now *we* know what it feels like to be having a nice, normal, fun time, only to have it interrupted by jerks. Because that's what Arab Americans deal with every day. Idiot fans bust out the "USA, USA" chant, because they are predictably ethnocentric rednecks.  I wish I could care, I really do. But PART of me is actually grateful for the interruption, since it stopped Jericho from losing any more face on a night that SHOULD have been a big time "win" for him, but instead showcased approximately 10% of his potential.

You know the ONLY way this would have been worthwhile? If, instead of a trainwreck of a Fozzy song and Hassan's interruption making me fear for Jericho's near term propects, if it had ended with Molly Holly storming out in the middle of the Limbo Contest to beat the shit out of the Limbo Bimbos. Why? No, not because of my Man Crush... because given what I knew would happen later in the night, I happen to think that getting another female heel over and into the spotlight might be a good move. While Trish exhausts her title rematch, Molly could get healthy by FINALLY winning that Stacy feud, for instance; or maybe picking a new one with the Red Headed Spaz and winning that; and then you got somebody Lita needs to be afeared of! And also: it sends the message that WWE is very sorry, and realizes the Useless Divas have their time and place, and it's NOT "15 minutes every goddamned week."  Which I'd appreciate hearing them admit. So yeah: this segment should have ended with trying to get Molly Holly over at the expense of your useless eye candy, and WITHOUT me terrified that Jericho vs. Hassan is coming soon to a Puerto Rican PPV near me...


Simon Dean vs. Hurricane

Before the match, Dean did some mic work, establishing that the only way he was allowed to speak tonight was if he accepted GM Jericho's condition that he wrestle a match (WAY TO WIELD THAT POWER IN A MEANINGFUL WAY, Y2J!)... but before he can get more than 60 seconds or so into his fat jokes, Hurricane's music cuts him off, and we have ourselves a wrestling match.

After an "amateur based" opening few minutes, Dean takes the advantage with illegal closed fists and such. Not very amateur, explains Jim Ross! Thanks, JR. The next few minutes is Dean displaying his cocky offence (doing push-ups while choking Hurricane, checking his pulse, etc). Hurricane stages a rally, but when he whiffs on a Shining Wizard, Dean has had enough, and rolls him up, grabs a handful of tights, and steals the cheap win in about 5 minutes.  Huh.  Anybody else remember when Mike Bucci was "The Innovator of Offense, Nova" and his matches were a pleasure to watch? That memory's getting hazier with every passing day that brings a match so simplistic and juvenile that it would have had grade school me rolling my eyeballs in 1986.

Trish vs. Lita Video Moment #2: Trish does something funny and clever, and Lita overreacts like the humorless, Springer-esque drama queen that she is. Sensing a trend?


Backstage: Coach is interviewing Randy Orton, and wants to get to Randall's thoughts about the now-vacant World Title. And Randy, whether he was trying to or not, was actually quite an acceptable cocky asshole as he did a riff about how OF COURSE he's happy about the vacant World Title because now he can fight for the title. So of course, just as he makes a nice point in Asshole Mode and without coming off like King of the Douchebags, he has to remind us of just what a giant toolbox he is by attempting to be all cute and funny and clever by noticing that Coach is a little tense, and must be upset because even with this kick-ass party Jericho's thrown, Coach can't get lei'd! HA! That Orton!  He's so dense that even once he realizes that stealing shtick from Jericho might be a good idea, he steals Jericho's worst joke in months!  Idiot!  But then, wait...  as Orton sits there, convinced he just nailed the Ultimate Zinger, we have an interruption....

Jerk vs. Jerk: YOU Make the Call!

Out in the arena, Edge makes a ring entrance, while cuts backstage show Orton acting all indignant, as if he'd been cut off or something. Hey, Randall, you got your lame punchline, you were done, what're you pissed about? VERY lame segue, but considering that it immediately got good, we'll forgive the lameness of the transition....

Edge gets a mic, and immediately wins big points with The Rick by being the first guy all night to think that Vince McMahon's "held up title" thing is horseshit.  Of course, the first time he says it, it's kind of in "shoot comment that's not supposed to be a shoot comment" style (gotta love Edge with the winkwink nudgenudge to fans who were pissed about that)... but then he expands on his concept, because for TV purposes, the held-up title isn't horseshit because it's shitty creative work; it's horseshit because last week, Edge WON THE TITLE FAIR AND SQUARE, and there should be no controversy. Now *that* is quality dickishness, and Edge gets some rather well-deserved boos for his self-serving version of history.

Edge further says that he blames Randy Orton for the mess the world title is in. He says Orton could have named Edge the winner of the Battle Royale, given him a one-on-one match for the World Title, and this never would have happened, and so on and so on...

Of course, Orton's been listening in, and is miffed at the accusations, so he comes on down with a rebuttal.  And immediately, kids, we just have two guys bringing the Asshole in equal amounts: you can decide to cheer for who you want. And need I explain the many ways in which this plays to whatever passes for Orton's strengths?  Of course not...  not trying to be likeable, just trying to be a focused, intense, disrespectful punk, Orton nailed his best promo in two months (since the first Flair promo). Make of that what you will.

The Dueling Assholes each hit a few nice lines.  Orton got "ooohhs" and "ahhhhs" when he noted, "Unlike you, I actually know what it's like to be World Champion."  Edge countered with, "Well, just because your first World Title Reign was an abysmal failure doesn't mean you had to rob me of my opportunity" [dammit, do I ever love Edge for those shoot comments that aren't supposed to be shoot comments!].  Orton countered with claims of Edge "bitching and moaning."  And Edge closed with, "You say I'm bitching? Well, Orton, in case you forgot I ended your 8 month IC Title reign, and every time we've crossed paths, you've been MY BITCH!"

At that, we've had enough talking, and it's time to brawl.  Hey! There's Dean Malenko!  And Arn Anderson!  With Flair and Benoit making appearances, that makes a Very Special Four Horsemen Reunion (Kind Of) for the fans in Charlotte!  They get the brawl broken up, finally, with Randy being manfully dragged from the ring. Very entertaining segment, and this is where RAW kind of turned a corner and I was able to lose my deep-seated annoyance with the opening few bits...


Shelton Benjamin vs. Captain Charisma (IC Title Match)

Christian costume was a red and yellow knock-off of "The Flash," and of course, Shelton played up the humor of the silly outfit early on.  Christian tried to attack out of sheer rage, but they did a comedy bit in which Shelton would put up a hand, and it'd magically stop Capt. Charisma in his tracks.  Ha ha.  Match started with comic relief (like we haven't had enough of that tonight with Dean and Eugene?), then Tomko interfered to give Christian the advantage for a few minutes...  Shelton started his comeback, and the last 90 seconds were actually a really neat closing segment that saw some misdirection and creativity: Tomko fed Christian the IC Title belt, but Shelton put a stop to that, and then while the ref was getting rid of the belt, Tomko got back in the ring to give Shelton a big boot, but it was only for two. So it was back and forth some more, leading up to a spot in which Shelton seemed to be distracted by Tomko, but sensed Christian coming up from behind, so he spun around with a spin kick to Christian face (allegedly causing his Captain Charisma mask to get all turned around on him, but I'm pretty sure I spotted XTian twisting the mask around on himself, which is kinda lame). Then he shoved Tomko out of the ring, and then he hit the T-Bone Powerslam on the "blinded" Christian.  Maybe 5-6 minutes, and more about the comedy than about delivering a sweet blow-off match.  

After the match: Jericho came out to the stage and just to be a dick, had Fozzy fire up the "Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye" song for Christian.  [I had this brainstorm last night, and was assured it was quite outstanding, so I'll share: I think it would have been cooler if Christian had stolen the title in Capt. Charisma mode, and then gone backstage to taunt Jericho, only to have Jericho claim that Christian did NOT win the IC Title. Capt. Charisma did. So if he wants to keep it, Christian will have to continue to compete as Capt. Charisma. GENIUS~!  You want to get cute and fine with a title, have some wacky fun with the IC Belt, do NOT try nonsensical crap with the World Title. Imagine Christian pulling a page out of the old Conquistador playbook, attempting to wrestle "Capt. Charisma" for the IC belt!  Imagine all the other shennanigans we could enjoy for a month or two before you inevitably have Shelton chase down the title!] Also, once XTian was dismissed; Jericho announced that as GM, he's making a match for next week... Edge vs. Randy Orton.  OK, so that cool with me. But um, WWE Writing Team, you do realize what a bunch of idiots you are, right? Or rather, what an idiot you've just made Jericho look like? Which is bad, and makes you idiots in my book? Because you've castrated Jericho tonight, reduced him to a worthless bit player, and now you have him go out and make a ruling for next week, even though that's not really part of his power. It's like the third wish the genie gives you: if it turns out you ARE allowed to "wish for more wishes," then you're gonna make good use of them.  Here, you got Jericho going out there, and against all logic, he IS being allowed to do the Guest GM equivalent of "wishing for more wishes," and he's blowing it on "Orton vs. Edge" instead of "I hereby declare that I am Guest GM next week, and every week thereafter, until such time as Vince McMahon gets his head out of his ass, and I'm somehow able to get a World Title Shot."  I fricking hate gaping logic holes like this....

SmackDown! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.


Trish vs. Lita Video Moment #3: Trish does something funny and clever, and Lita overreacts like the humorless, Springer-esque drama queen that she is. It happened like that every week all summer long, and yet somehow, you dum dums are cheering for Lita!

Backstage: Lita was standing in a hallway, when up walks Gene Snitsky. Snitsky says it's too bad that Kane couldn't be there for Lita's big night. And then that it's too bad that Lita's baby couldn't be there (christ, that was 3 months ago, can't we just pretend it didn't happen and move forward to non-sucky parts of this story?)... or actually: OK, the baby talk was just an excuse for Snitksy to remind us that his catchphrase is "It wasn't my fault." If there was a purpose to this, I can't fathom it. The return of lame, weepy Lita on the night when she's going for the title?  Great planning, WWE....

A Visit With King and JR: they register some displeasure at Snitsky's antics, and then move on to other talk, including Vince McMahon's lame announcement and how you can vote about something on WWE.com.  I'm assuming "This Fucking Sucks" was NOT an option?

Backstage: Triple H and Ric Flair get the bright idea to call Eric Bischoff and get a jumpstart on next week's politicking. Except Bischoff's not home, so they get to leave a message, instead. This is a skit where HHH says something serious and intense, and then Flair jumps in with some hyper-speed non sequitur in semi-comedic fashion. Finally Flair starts to wane, and HHH gets on a roll, talking himself up to a fevered pitch in which he has gone from kissing Bischoff's ass to almost threatening Bischoff.  Which is when a beefy arm shoots into frame and takes HHH's cell phone away, and cuts off the call.  It's Batista. HHH is angry, wants to know what gives. And Batista, again playing the Hey, Am I The Only Reasonably Sensible Guy Here? Card, says, "I thought you were the Cerebral Assassin, and you're sitting here threatening the man who holds all our fates in his hands starting next week? That's pretty dumb, Hunter, and I'm not gonna let you do it." Batista is SMRT! But HHH isn't impressed with the intellect, he's just pissed that Batista is apparently thinking for himself and being insubordinate. HHH poses Batista a question: "You don't think I should be World Champion, do you?"... Batista responds simply and calmly, "There's only ONE real World Champion as far as I'm concerned." HHH seems briefly placated, Batista leaves, and then Batista's ambiguity registers with HHH, and he's NOT happy. We hear Flair preemptively shouting, "He meant you, Champ!" to HHH as we cut to....


Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho vs. Triple H and Batista

Batista and Flair enter first to Batista's music. Because they apparently don't trust fans to pay attention and they want to bludgeon us over the head with it, they have Batista making gratuitous "bows of respect" to Flair for his whole entrance. Charlotte eats it up. I'd call it an Anvil, but frankly, as long as bowing to Flair keeps Sally from Pointing the Toe as he hits wussy bodybuilder poses, I think it's a good thing. Batista find new ways to render himself more likeable before our very eyes!

HHH enters second, to a decidedly mixed reaction, which turns to heel heat when Lillian Garcia announces him as "Former World Champion," causing HHH to freak out and chase Lillian out of the ring. I'd rather they kept it a bit more subtle (less Batista kissing ass on Hometown Boy Flair, less HHH over-reacting for no good reason), cuz fans are already on board with this, but whatever....

The Chrisses enter to mostly cheers, but that dies down as the match starts. Charlotte spends the opening 5 minutes ignoring the action in the ring (mostly the Chrisses beating on HHH) to chant "We Want Flair." Hey WWE, remember when some guy said a few weeks ago how it might be smart to plan ahead and have a Flair Moment ready for the show in Charlotte? I don't remember who he was, but I'm thinking he was on to something.... NOT having something worthwhile for Flair here just hamstrung Benoit and Jericho, who got boos any time they dared to attack Flair or Batista. Which is probably not the desired outcome. Again, it's kind of a double whammy, since we already had Jericho castrated in terms of his GM powers.

Anyway, the Jericho/Benoit offense eventually builds to a fevered pitch of Mixed Reaction, and then send Batista out of the ring, and then send HHH out on top of him.  Heels down, faces celebrating to mixed response, a good time for some....


Back, and Evolution has regained control. Thanks to interference by Flair, Batista is now in control, dominating Jericho.  Very time compressed here, and the hot tag came almost immediately to Benoit, who was a house afire (again boos for going after Batista, HUGE boos when he laid his hands on Flair, but mostly cheers for going after HHH with the Germans).  From here, we pretty much went into Total Chaos mode, and all four guys (well, five, actually) were in the ring and brawling. The focus on HHH resulted in a cool dual Walls/Crossface moment, which Batista broke up with a K.O.-thesline while Flair ran interference.  Batista was able to control Benoit and Jericho long enough for HHH to recover. And HHH had had just about enough of all this trying to win a match: he just went outside and grabbed a chair.  First, he plastered Benoit with it, causing the instant Disqualification. If it was 10 minutes, total, I'd be shocked. And then, Batista hoisted Jericho up and was holding him for HHH to hit him with a chairshot... but Jericho ducked out, and HHH blasted Batista with the chair instead.  Flair IMMEDIATELY went to Batista's side, and HHH eventually followed suit, and tried to make apologetic noises.  But then HHH decided to just leave the ring, and as Batista came around, he had a look of confusion and disappointment on his face. 

You know, a traditional wrestling Drama King would have flown off the handle at being hit with a chair, even though even the densest of Randy Ortons could tell it was an accident. Instead, this honestly played like Batista was more hurt because HHH didn't seem genuinely sorry or apologetic. The chairshot, maybe that stings a bit, but it was clearly not intentional; but HHH's dismissiveness? THAT is on purpose and it mortally wounds the mighty Batista's feelings!  Or something! Viva la subtlety!  Match was too short to really develop anything much better than "Pretty Good," and the non-finish was ultra-lame on a night where creativity and decisiveness was at a premium... but storywise, it's another "win" for Batista.

Backstage: Trish is... HEY, why isn't Trish wearing her facemask?!? It's the Comedic Costume Jewelry of the Year, dammit!  Anyway, Trish is stretching, and although I don't WANT to note that it's in a suggestive fashion, WWE forces my hand by having two stagehands saunter past behind Trish, pausing to leer lecherously at perhaps the finest of Trish's many Good Sides. Trish ain't dumb, though, and she ain't got time for this crap: she sends the Lawlers In Training scurrying away in shame quite rapidly, by shooting them the Skunk Eye and asking "Can I help you?"... but that's when Trish is interrupted by someone who shan't be so easily cowed. Lita walks up. Trish smirks and says, "Well, well, the Walking Kiss of Death. I wonder whose career you're going to ruin tonight?"  Lita smirks back, gets up real close to Trish's face, and says, "Yours."   And then: Lita grabs Trish by the hair and pulls her in for a sloppy open mouth kiss, and then shoves her to the ground when she's done. Whoa. Obnoxious weepy Lita is gone again, replaced by XTreme Attitude Lita.  I think this was the Very Logical, Very Cool Punchline here.  Except that Lawler should have been muzzled.  He simply can NOT comprehend anything other than "two women kissing," and although Lita's act CLEARLY connoted "I am going to destroy Trish Stratus; in fact, if I thought I could get away with it, I'd get one of my loyal lieutenants to lure her out onto a boat with promises of fishing, only to put a bullet through her skull," Lawler STILL managed to interpret it as "I, Lita, am ever so hot for Trish Stratus' body, and will not be a complete woman until we spend a night together. With battery-operated toys. Lots of them. Because I, Lita, am one very kinky bisexual babe!", and he projects that vibe to the audience at home. Ass. But at least now I know there was a good reason for Trish not wearing her Hilarious Facemask; Vince McMahon learned firsthand that there shall be no spirited tonsil hockey with Trish so long as the facemask is in place....


Trish Stratus vs. Lita (Women's Title Match)

WWE might have underestimated Ric Flair's appeal in Charlotte, but they showed a lot of faith in these women and in North Carolina's willingness to get behind Lita (who has, in recent years, adopted North Carolina as her home). It was well-placed faith, all-around. The women delivered, the fans got into it, and if you ever needed more proof that I know what I'm talking about whey I get off onto half-formed tangents about how frustrating and misguided WWE's recent hiring practices with regards to the women are, well, here's 10 minutes of it in concentrated Main Event form!

Trish's facemask is back in its rightful place as the finest of all hilarious props, but out of the gate, it matters not. Lita can do no wrong, and gets off to a fast start. Trish even tries to counter with The Matrix, but Lita counters that counter by stomping Trish to the mat. Then Lita tosses Trish out of the ring... and she tries to follow up with a tope suicida... and GOD FUCKING DAMMIT, LITA, the "suicida" part is just supposed to be a name, not your Actual Intentions For The Move.  Lita goes flying out of the ring, and lands practically on HER FACE, which then torques her neck back, as she flips over.  You know that "flip bump" that guys will take on a back-suplex? Well, Lita basically did that, but inverted, face-first, wreching her neck the OPPOSITE way. Not that Lita's neck should be getting wrenched in ANY way, but this was just double sick, and I again just kind of wonder if it wouldn't be better for Lita to lay off the highspots until she perfects a bit more body control.  Sick bump.

Match, however, misses not a beat, since Lita is miraculously OK.  As Lita hoists Trish back into the ring, Trish removes her facemask, and without the ref seeing it, whacks Lita in the face with it!  OUTSTANDING~!  I won't name names (mostly because I don't remember where I saw it), but in the last few weeks, some douchebag somewhere wrote about how "Trish is going to be very limited through the new year due to her broken nose and having to wear that protective facemask."  Dumbass.  I just hope somewhere, same said douchebag is marveling at what a great match "Limited Trish" put on...

The mask turns the tide, and Trish maintains the offense for several minutes, including using a naughty Hangwoman's Chokehold in the turnbuckle, and then a Full Nelson.  Pardon me while I give myself a Raging Erection Of The Brain by pretending that Trish instinctively passed on a planned chinlock or armbar, and instead audibled the rarely-seen Full Nelson to take advantage of ridiculously sick bump Lita took on the outside. Work that neck, Trish!

Lita made her comeback, finally, and her Big Move was setting up a top rope superplex. Nice! But it took as much out of Lita as it did out of Trish, and both women are down. Ref starts a double count. Both women get up, though, and we enter end game. A ton of back and forth, a ton of near falls and plausible false finishes.  Trish got into the act first with the The Rick Refuses To Call It The Chick Kick Kick (actually, I forget, but I think JR even talked around calling it the Chick Kick tonight, too), but Lita kicked out.  When Trish did a mount-and-punch in the corner, Lita countered with a sweet running powerbomb for a 2 count. Lita tried to follow up with a Moonsault, but Trish caught her and tried to turn it into an Electric Chair... but Lita re-countered into an Honor Roll for a VERY long 2 count... Lita tried to follow up with a DDT, but Trish reached out at the last second and grabbed the top rope to break the hold. Trish followed up with a few stomps, and then tried to set up for the Stratusfaction.... but at the last second, Lita threw Trish off. Lita managed to get behind Trish as Trish stood up, and pulled her back into the Inverted Twist of Fate.  Trish was down in the center of the ring, so Lita went up to the top rope, and came off with a NonFatal Litacanrana...  one, two, three.  New champ!

Hey, maybe you liked the Chrisses vs. Evolution tag match better, and that's fine (it was pretty good stuff); but I'm giving Match of the Night to Trish and Lita.  They took 8-9 minutes and kicked some ass; the final 3-4 minutes were the most fun I had all night, actually. Anyone want to explain to me again how a Diva Search Loser is just as valuable as Trish Stratus?  Didn't think so... in fact, I'll give you ALL the Diva Search Losers combined, and I'll take Trish, and I've still got the upper hand if I'm a Wrestling Company.

RAW ends with Lita celebrating in front of a very excited home state crowd.  Strong enough finish to a poor-starting and very spotty show.  More thoughts and analysis tomorrow in OO...


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
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RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
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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
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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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