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You Talkin' To Me? 
March 22, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


I'll be honest: I find those internet jackoffs who complain about "not enough wrestling" and "too much talking" to be pretty fucking obnoxious. Wrestling is, at its best, a mix of athleticism and drama, and how you create that mix? It's not an etched-in-stone equation.
All "pure wrestling" is not necessarily good, and all "talking" is not necessarily bad... which means that, yep, there are gonna be times when a show that's light on precious workrate by heavy on talking is actually the RIGHT move. Much as that might pain some of you to hear, it's true. And truthfully, gearing up for the year's biggest PPV, WrestleMania, is 

definitely one of the phases where a little more talky and a little more drama is just flat-out the right move. Because it's the phase where we know there's a four-hour blow-off coming where we'll get our Workrate Jones scratched right where it itches.

So as I absolve WWE of the general "crime" of Too Much Talking at this all-important time of the year, it pains me to say that they did a Too Much Talking Show last night that managed to talk about all the wrong things, and which left me on the brink of zoning out during a couple of over-long and under-compelling promos. And meantime, a match that was the night's stand-out highlight clocks in at about 8 minutes, and sure as hell could have used an extra 5.

For today, I join you, Internet Jackoffs, in getting a little bit annoyed with an edition of RAW that did little or nothing to make me any more excited about WrestleMania 21. And if you're gonna talk, that's supposed to be the goal. Mission Not Accomplished on this night... 

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live from Birmingham, Alabama, where Dr. James Andrews has an entire wing to his palatial mansion that has been paid for by WWE. That's right, Birmingham, Alabama, where -- following a 2002 investigation into the possible existence of the town's endearing traits -- "Hey, if you gotta blow out a knee, do it in Birmingham!" recently replaced "We love the governor!" as the Official Motto. Everyplace is famous for something, I guess... Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler briefly welcome us to the show, make sure we know that Batista vs. Kane is our main event, and then kick it down to the ring for....

Shawn Michaels vs. Robert Conway

Michaels enters first, accompanied by copious footage of last week's "Rockers Reunion" and a stone cold promise from Jim Ross that "Marty Jannetty is not in the building tonight" (which cynical ol' me took as "Marty Jannetty will be appearing in the next 10 minutes")... Conway enters second, accompanied by Sylvain Grenier and a Quebec flag. Suffice to say: Michaels got the better deal there.

Immediately out of the gate, Conway uses and Irish Whip and a distraction of the ref (which was so well done, it actually looked like a real fuck-up, and not a distraction spot) to allow Grenier to sneak in a quick blow and give Conway the advantage. But after about a minute of that, Michaels started a mini-rally the culminated in brawling with both La Resistance members at ringside, and then taking them out with a big ass slingshot plancha. Some posing and preening for HBK, and though he corrals Conway back into the ring for another minute or so, Conway manages to dodge a move, and send Michaels flying out over the top rope. 

With ref Earl Hebner suffering some kind of NWA flashback (and reprimanding Conway for the over-the-top-rope toss, which is clearly grounds for disqualification), Grenier took advantage by whacking Michaels in the neck with the Quebec Flag. Jim Ross: "Michaels, he took the full blunt!" Funny, back when I was younger, dumber, more prone to peer pressure, and hadn't isolated the one chemical I genuinely enjoy putting into my body (Sweet Lady Booze), I was known to take a blunt or two. But never the full blunt. Even a partial blunt was enough to render me dumb, lazy, and unable to contribute positively to conversation or society for upwards of an entire evening. That Michaels, taking the full blunt, though: what a hoss. RVD better watch out... and yeah, I'm rambling because with Michaels down at ringside, this was pretty obviously our set up to cut to...


Back, and Conway is working a chinlock, but a kind of complex and painful-looking one, so kudos to him on that. No "during the break" footage, so I guess nothing of note there. Just a standard heel beatdown... which quickly gives way to the standard babyface fire-up. Michaels escapes the chinlock, and for a minute or so, it's back-and-forthy, as the two throw fists and whatnot. But finally, Michaels scores a big blow: the Flying Burrito. Nip up, and from there on out, it's just an HBK Ass Whomping. No teases, no false finishes, no additional offense for Conway... eventually Michaels took the requisite potshot at Grenier to make sure he stayed nicely powdered out, and then it was End Game.

Michaels paused only briefly to blow his nose on the Quebec flag (because I think it's in Psalms or Acts or something where the Bible states, "Blessed is he who desecrates the flag of some subset of obnoxious Canadians that even the other Canucks fricking hate"), and then it's the Macho Man Elbow, a bit of tuning up, and the Sweet Chin Music. Probably about 10 minutes of pure formula, but also pretty much fun; and see: Michaels didn't even need Jannetty last week! He can beat La Resistance all by himself!

Kurt Angle is Awesome, It's True: JR and King throw us to a video package that is "in the interest of equal time" or something silly like that... but it also doesn't matter because it's a very nicely composed 3 minute package of Kurt Angle's WWF/E history. I mean, it ain't quite "Lonely Road of Faith," or anything, but if you're like me and have Kurt on your short list of favorite wrestlers, you probably got a kick out of this. I refuse to give a free pass to WWE for the mostly half-assed way they are telling the story between Shawn and Kurt, but the fact remains: these are two of my 5 or 6 favorite wrestlers, and even a quality video package like this goes a long way towards reminding me that I won't care about the build up come April 3, as long as the match is half as good as I suspect it'll be.

Backstage: William Regal, Tajiri, Christy Hemme, and Lita are WALKING~! Apparently to the ring. And apparently for 6-person mixed tag action. Because really, what's an unprovoked sac-kick between friends, right?


WWE Sniffs the Ass of a Hollywood Has-Been: JR and King announce that Sylvester Stallone will be a part of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and instead of actually mentioning any wrestlers or anything like that, they spend 30 seconds fellating Sly for his shitty new Reality TV Show. Which just so happens to be on NBC. Which just so happens to be owned by Universal. Which just so happens to be the parent company for USA Network. Not that I'm suggesting anything fishy about this deal...

William Regal/Tajiri/Christy Hemme vs. Molly Holly/Maven/Simon Dean

Ah, fuck. Sometimes, I just hate being right. And just to rub salt in my wounds, Jerry Lawler just HAD to be at his absolutely most obnoxious and counter-productive in a long time during this match, didn't he? It starts almost immediately, as Spaz enters (with Lita), and we waste 60 seconds of precious air time promoting a 3-week-old issue of Playboy as if it is the final crowning achievement of Western Civilization. Why dost methink that sales figures for this issue didn't quite match expectations, and thus the sudden return of the hype? Why does methink that I Told You So, because it ain't about "hot babes," it's about "babes people care about." 

Match starts with Regal and Dean doing some chain wrestling. So of course, Lawler immediately embarks upon Idiot Riff #2 of the match, by openly saying he doesn't give a shit about Christy's wrestling ability because she looks great naked, then mocking JR when he attempts to convey the idea that Spaz is training very hard to compete with Trish at WM, and finally taking the message only after JR outright says, "Shut up and pay attention to the match." JR, for his part, also makes a little fuck-up, but one that made me smile: he said that "Christy's been training with Trish every day. Um, actually, make that training with Lita FOR Trish every day." Truth be told, the thought that Spaz and Trish are working their match out already is actually a very heartening one.

Regal dominates the chain wrestling, but when he tags in Tajiri, Tajiri becomes the Ultra Time Compressed Face in Peril, as a result of double-teaming by Maven and Dean (who seem to be working out their tag team antics, which means they might be what passes for a full-time heel duo that's NOT La Resistance). After all of 60 seconds of that, Tajiri manages the Hot Tag to Spaz, who instantly sends Lawler off on Idiot Riff #3 of this VERY young match (this time, making what I'm sure he thinks are very clever Double Entendres about Spaz's outfit and how he "loves pink," when in reality, only a 7th grader would find that humorous, and in fact, Spaz's ring attire was just really unappealing, and somebody's idea of trying to remind us that she's WWE's token "Playboy Wrestler": all frilly and pink; oy, what a fashion faux pas). Spaz's tag remains "hot" for all of 3.7 seconds, however, as Molly also gets a tag and commences to beating the crap out of Spaz to the best of Spaz's abilities. To be honest, for Christy's ultra-condensed training sessions, probably the first thing I'd have put on the "To Do List" would have been "Selling Like a Champ, So as to Build Sympathy." This, sadly, does not appear to have made the list (too busy coming up with vomit-inducing and legitimacy-killing ring attire, they are), as Spaz takes only the most basic of punches and kicks (and face gougings).

Finally, it was time to finish this up and send me into an apoplectic rage... so while the guys decide to make themselves scarce, Spaz decides to showcase her moveset, composed of 3 (exactly 3, I counted) maneuvers: (1) Tajiri-style kicks, (2) Getting out of the way of the Molly-Go-Round, and (3) Lita's inverted Twist of Fate. They were performed in that order, and only one of them looked good (the Twist of Fate). And yet, on the strength of not looking hardly at ALL convincing, Spaz scores the pinfall win over Molly Holly. Which is exactly what should NOT have happened if WWE had any fucking clue how to tell this story in the most compelling and believable way. Like I said yesterday: this is a page out the TNA Playbook (what they did with the NASCAR announcer), and when you're making the same insulting booking choices as a clueless minor league promotion, there's something wrong. The right move: either keep Spaz out of the ring until WM and let her surprise us there, or have Spaz LOSE to Molly to make her an even bigger underdog by underscoring just what a brutal and daunting task she undertook by daring to challenge Trish. Hell, you even went out of your way to put Trish at ringside for the mixed tag match, but why? Nothing was gained there, but it could have been if she just contributed in some small way to Spaz getting beat.

As a bonus, this wouldn't just make Spaz a more believable and compelling character, but it would have opened the door for Trish to be a total cocky bitch who takes Spaz lightly, further enhancing her own heelishness. Instead, we've got the entirely more intelligence-insulting story: that Spaz, in one month, has become Trish's equal and Molly's superior inside the ring, even though even a dense fan could tell that Spaz's ringwork was just NOT commensurate with the outcome of the match. Boo on that. Double boo because with just a little thought (or a little cribbing from certain insightful sumbitches who DID put a little thought into it), this could have been a huge value-add to the WM21 feud. And then double the doubling just because this is the most I've wanted to deliver a trachea blow to Jerry Lawler in a long time. A 3-4 minute match that did just about everything wrong as far as my interest in the Trish/Spaz feud goes: my once waxing enthusiasm for the match wanes for the first time in a few weeks...

Backstage: Triple H is WALKING~! And rudely bumping into people. Because that HHH, he's a student of the game, and he knows that to be a great heel, there can be no Off Position on the Cocksucker Switch.


A History Lesson: Steve Austin visited Mr. McMahon in the hospital. And though I FF'ed this, I believe this was the skit where he violated Vince in a Very Private Region.

"You Wanna Talk About Bad Decisions?" Theatre

Triple H hits the ring for a Big Promo. And as he knows that he's about to waste a good 15 minutes of our time with a promo that should have only taken 5, he actually goes so far as to get a steel chair and plop his ass down in the center of the ring. See, that way, he can stay fresh as a daisy, and the only thing that gets worn out is our patience with his windbaggery.

Trips starts out down a questionable path right away: by talking about Evolution's history, and spending a good 5 minutes talking about Randy Orton. You see, HHH believes that he doesn't get the credit he deserves, because he's selflessly spent the past 2 years creating a future for this business by picking up Randy Orton and Batista, dusting them off, and forming Evolution, and turning them into stars. Evolution was unstoppable. Except not really: the only thing that could stop Evolution was Bad Decisions.

So here, HHH makes a bad decision of his own, by rambling on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on about how great Randy Orton was when he was in Evolution and how now he's "groveling for table scraps" by challenging the Undertaker to a match that he can't possibly win, just so he can be on the WM card. I "get it" that he was trying to lay down a context for history repeating itself with Batista; I can even secretly convince myself that there's a little "shoot that's not supposed to be a shoot" in there with regards to Orton's match with Taker being an alternate plan or a last resort after he fumbled his intended babyface run... but I also don't care enough to possibly endorse HHH wasting this much mic time distracting us from his real feud with Batista. I was honestly starting to zone out when finally HHH tried to bring it back around....

He mentioned that now it's Batista who is making bad decisions. But again, it's HHH who makes a bad decision by massively misjudging the patience we'll have for his side of the story, as he launches into a tirade about Batista and how he should have gone to SmackDown!. I think JBL actually got more references in this little passage than Batista himself... it just... I dunno, but it seemed like a deal where Trips probably had this big idea in his head for how to tie a whole bunch of stuff together into a big promo, but it didn't hang together and had no real sizzle or momentum to it. Truth be told, this is sorta the promo that SHOULD have been cut by Batista by now: the whole "history" of Batista's split should be told by HIM, since his is a side we haven't already heard, but can only infer. Whereas, Trips talks and talks and talks so much that not only did he take 15 minutes to do a 5 minute promo here, he spent it saying things that really weren't anything new or interesting. I hate that. I noticed they also killed the house lights at some point around here, leaving HHH in a spotlight in the darkened ring; I wonder if that's because half the arena decided to go up and take a piss?

Also, there's more of that weird in-breeding vibe thrown in for no reason: remember when HHH claimed he was Orton's father? Well, now he's saying that Batista was like a brother who broke his heart. OK, so wait: HHH is Darth Vader, Orton is Luke Skywalker, and now Batista is Obi-Wan Kenobi? I guess that fits... HHH, like Vader, is the big bad-ass with the cool entrance music who gets by more on intimidation than workrate. Orton, like Luke, is the obnoxious little pussy with a rather limited intellect. And Batista, like Obi-Wan, is just very wise? [The alternative: HHH is Michael Corleone, the head of the ass-kickingest crime family of all times... which makes Orton his effeminate son that nobody (except his mother) likes and has absolutely NO inherent knack for the family business... except that then I guess Batista would have to be Fredo, the older brother who dared to go against the family and must die? Hey, it might not be perfect, but if you think I'm gonna pass up a chance to paint Orton as effeminate and incompetent, then you must be new around here...]

Finally, HHH gets to the part of the promo that actually has some reason to exist: because Batista's bad decisions include last week... he thought he was being all smart and clever by making HHH face the one man he couldn't beat, but last week, Batista's decision resulted in HHH smiting his only unbeatable foe. [Nice: way to, on top of just trying my patience, casually bury Benoit as an afterthought.] But now, HHH is gonna show us all how GOOD decisions are made... because tonight, not only will Batista have to face the Big Red Machine, Kane... but HHH isn't done: it's also gonna be a Lumberjack Match. And further more: Evolution will hand-pick all the lumberjacks. And further further more: it'll be a No-DQ, Anything Goes Lumberjack Match. Now THAT, HHH opines, is how you make decisions. 

For a closing riff, Trips makes it clear that with the deck stacked like that against Batista, he'll get his ass kicked tonight. Which means that, at WM21 in two weeks, he'll be easy pickin's for HHH. And HHH notes that Batista was once the "Animal of Evolution," and HHH did everything he could to nurture that animal... but as soon as the animal bit the hand that fed it, HHH had to make a hard choice. Which is why, at WM21, Hunter promises to "put the Animal down." 

JR gets a chuckle out of me when he says, "The framing of that last sentence, it was spine-tingling." Which is kinda what I was thinking: the entire last 3-4 minutes of the promo (and last 2 paragraphs if the recap) were quite solid, and ended on a very strong and evil note. Too bad the road getting their was so long and arduous that almost NO pay-off would be fully satisfying. Finding yourself a good editor would surely have helped with YOUR decision-making on this night, Triple H....


Chris Jericho/Shelton Benjamin vs. Edge/Christian

Hey, I'm right again! And at least this time, I'm happy to have been so! Jericho and Christian start things off, and aren't in any rush... they seem to be settling in for a long-ish match, as they're willing to trade headlocks and such for 2-3 minutes. When Jericho starts to take control, Christian tries to change gears, and enlists the help of Edge for a little double-teaming... but that goes awry, and Christian ends up accidentally clocking Edge. Immediately thereafter, Jericho tosses Christian out to ringside, where Edge confronts him and is not pleased, which causes Christian's Longtime Companion, the Lovely Miss Tomko, to materialize to tell Edge to settle down. As the three heels bitch at each other, Jericho hits the pack with a baseball slide dropkick, and then Shelton follows up with a SWEET fricking no-hands plancha. Another week, another Spot of the Night for Shelton.

As the ref gets things back under control, somehow Edge has become the legal man (maybe when Christian slugged him, that counted?), and Jericho has a minute or two of fun with him. Then Shelton tags in and has some more. But finally, Christian orchestrates some chicanery: Tomko distracts the ref, while Christian causes Shelton to get crotched on the top rope. From there, Edge takes control, and he and Christian quite effectively cut the ring in half: frequent tags, frequent baiting Jericho into the ring so the ref has to deal with Y2J which allows the heels to cheat, the whole nine.

Finally, it's down to Shelton with Christian, and Shelton hits a much-crisper variation on Orton's weird little inverted backbreaker out of nowhere... both men have to make tags, but it's Jericho who is a house afire, and seems poised to put this baby to sleep. It builds up to him hitting Christian with the Lionsault, and then locking Edge into the Walls of Jericho... but Tomko gets up on the apron, and Jericho decides to release the hold, and hits Tomko with a doublejump dropkick. The ref checks on Tomko, allowing a recovered Christian to hit Jericho with an inverted DDT and scurry away. Our legal men are Edge and Jericho, and both are hurting bad, so let's check some....


Back, and SHIT, did I fast-forward 3 minutes of ads, or did I somehow rewind 3 minutes and simultaneously leap to a parallel dimension? Because as soon as we're back, it's the counter point to the EXACT spot we saw before the commercials: two men are down in the ring and both need to make tags. For the heels, it's Christian who has to tag in Edge, but the faces have reversed spots, and it's Jericho who has to tag in Shelton. And trumping Jericho before him, Shelton comes in and absolutely kicks ass. As soon as Edge and Christian ALMOST put an end to his rally and are setting up for the Hardy Boyz old "Poetry in Motion" spot, Shelton decides to make himself the RUNNER-UP for Spot of the Night, as well, by leaping out of the corner, using Christian as a stepping stool, and attacking an on-coming Edge. Nice. But Christian's involvement inspires Jericho to grow a sac and get back in the match... a little four-way brawling actually leads up to Jericho's powder-out: had goes for a double-jump cross-body onto the interfering Tomko, but Tomko sloppily kinda gets a boot up, and Jericho eats that. He's done.

Which leaves Shelton to kind of face two men... and for a while, he's up to the task, and actually seems ready to isolate on Edge after hitting Christian with a Stinger Splash. But after Edge and Shelton go back and forth, Shelton tries to follow up with another Splash, but Edge ducks out of the way. Shelton actually stops himself from crashing into the turnbuckle, but while the ref's turned the wrong way, a recovered Christian actually whacks Shelton in the head with the IC Belt. As Shelton stumbles back towards the center of the ring, Edge hits him with the Spear. One, two, three, the heels win. Surprisingly short, it seemed (less than 10 minutes, else I'll eat a bug), but man alive did they cram a lot in there: it was like three babyface heat sequences, with one heel beatdown that we saw and another that happened during the ad break... that's what I call giving us the white meat. Wish they'd gotten a bit more time, but they picked the right stuff to focus on in the limited time slot.

After the Match: Tomko and Christian got in the ring, and Jericho did as well, but the 3-on-2 heel beatdown was too much... after a minute or so of that, Chris Benoit remembered that, despite HHH's best efforts, he's still on the roster, and made the save. Benoit pretty much cleans house on Edge and Christian, but then Tomko remembered something he did to Kane a few weeks ago, and got a ladder out from under the ring, and whacked Jericho with it. Whee: the Intense Angry Faces that Tomko and Benoit make at each other as the heels leave can mean only one thing... WWE are idiots who think that Benoit vs. Tomko is how they should be wasting our time on next week's final RAW before the biggest PPV of the year!


Backstage: the heel jobbers have all assembled, many of them proving the old axiom "If you're wearing a t-shirt advertising a PPV, you will not actually be appearing on said PPV." Yes, I'm talking to YOU, Snitsky. Curiously, although a mere one night before Viscera was a babyface infuriated with Simon Dean's fat jokes, they have magically mended fences and are both heels. Possibly because Heat doesn't, technically, count, and I just picked the wrong week to check it out with my own two eyes. Anyway, Ric Flair appears, and gives a generic pep talk, making it clear that these guys have been handpicked by Triple H to go out there an take care of business tonight, clearly suggesting that "business" involves brutalizing Batista at any available opportunity. The motivation Flair eventually gets around to dangling in front of these guys? A Spot in Evolution, who is apparently Now Hiring. If somebody steps up and does their job, they could open HHH's eyes, and the next thing you know, it's limousine rides and lear jets and hot and cold running sluts. Whee... this really drags out, not for lack of enthusiasm by Flair, but mostly because he's channeling HHH by taking about 4 minutes to do a 2 minute skit. It does not help that not a single one of the assembled heel jobbers is even remotely convincing as a possible New Member of Evolution; the only non-scrub-with-upside among them is Muhammad Hassan, and his character simply wouldn't fit with Evolution (and in fact, the most awkward moment of the entire skit was seeing Hassan have to decide between lust for easy women and actually Remembering to Stay in Character and Get Offended at Flair's offer; he chose the former, which kinda sucked). Flair leaves, and the heels all start yammering on enthusiastically about what they'll do tonight to impress HHH.

Elsewhere Backstage: Batista is pacing around his dressing room, sipping on bottled water (if only HHH had been his father, too: he could have said, "I learned it by watching YOU, dad!"), and in walks GM Eric Bischoff. And Sleazy E, he's trying to convince Batista that tonight's match wasn't his idea, and like so many before him, is TAKING FOR-FUCKING-EVER to finish a point. Jesus, what got into the writer's food this week? Some of Orton's Dumb, obviously, if they feel the need to be this repetitive and bludgeoning... Bischoff's rambling leaves Batista to do a lot of sagacious nodding and grunting of consent. Finally, Bischoff gets to his punchline, "Do you know what it's like to be a marked man?"... to which Batista replies, "No, but I figure I will after WM21 when I beat HHH and become the World Heavyweight Champion." Which is the incredibly clunky and stilted segue (people are really getting paid to write this stuff?) for Bischoff to suddenly begin a second and not-quite-related rant about how much confidence and pride he has in Batista and how he'll make a great World Champ and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah... except at least this time, his verbosity serves a purpose. Because on THIS ramble, Batista cuts him off and says, "You know, that's very cool of you to say; thanks, Eric." Bischoff is all Winning Smiles and "Hey, that's just how Honest Eric rolls." But Batista, in his wisdom, was just joking around, and continues on with asking Eric if he's ever thought about politics. The crowd? They're clearly in on the joke and are laughing, but Eric is oblivious, and natters on about how actually, yeah, he's thinking of running for mayor in his small town in Arizona. Batista then hits what SHOULD have been the punchline, as he says, "Take this however you want, Eric, but I think you'd make a GREAT politician." Batista leaves, and even though the crowd is laughing lustily (*they* know how Eric "should have taken it"), Bischoff pumps out his chest like he's mighty proud of the endorsement, oblivious to the chuckles. And then, just to piss me off, the writers decide to unclever the skit by having Batista sudden re-materialize over Bischoff's shoulder to say, "Nope, wait. I meant used car salesman!".... HA~! Except: not really. A kinda pointless little fluff segment (on a show that is seemingly being defined by its fluff quotient), and on top of that, they miss the right natural punchline (which the fans were all plenty smart enough to "get"0 in favor of overly-fake, writer-y one. D'oh.

Elsewhere Elsewhere Backstage: Randy Orton and Stacy Keibler are hanging out all alone in the middle of a hallway. Orton claims he's sick of people doubting him, and if the Undertaker thinks he sent a message to Orton last Thursday, Orton's gonna send him a message back tonight. And apparently, it's in a lovely gift box from JC Penney? Guess so. Stacy gives us a sour-puss look that, for the love of god, actually made me think that she was doing her own imitation of Conan O'Brien's imitation of Donald Trump: kinda squinty, cheeks sucked in, and lips puckered. Which is probably not what I was supposed to be thinking of, but hey, when these two are on screen, I gotta get my yucks where I can. Orton immediately translates that odd expression, and demands to know if Stacy is doubting his ability to beat Taker, too. After a moment of intense thought, Stacy ceases computations just before smoke would start pouring out her ears and declares, with a chipper smile, that OF COURSE she believes in her sweet little Randypoo. His massive ego and rampant insecurity thus soothed by the cooing of his trophy girlfriend, Orton can proceed on to the ring... but wait: it'd REALLY mean a lot to him if Stacy could join him. She hesitates briefly, but she's ultimately powerless against the charms of glossed-up, monosyllabic toolboxes! Randy and Stacy, they're coming up right after these....


SmackDown! Rebound: I don't recap recaps. But because I'm a dick, I'll note that with a little special video speed-up effect, they almost made Randall's comically limp-wristed slap of Take seem semi-convincing.

Bad Decisions Reprised Theatre

Randy and Stacy are out, and other than girly squeals of pubescent glee, the reaction is resoundingly negative. I don't know why, but there's still some people out there writing in to tell me that last week wasn't a heel turn, and I've read it all wrong, because Orton's still a babyface... the fuck, people? Get your heads out of your asses.

Orton, rewriting history, begins by telling us that he was so TOTALLY not scared last week on SD!, despite ample evidence that he could probably have used an Adult Diaper on Thursday night. He refuses to be afraid. And because Orton wants to play along with tonight's "belaboring a simple point for WAY to long" theme, he follows that up by repeating himself: he refuses to be afraid. Ugh, my least favorite Lazy Man's Rhetorical Tool, the "repeat what you just said, but even slower, on the off chance that you're talking to idiots. Or possibly the off chance that you, yourself are an idiot." In fact, Orton says, his confidence has never been higher, as witness by what's in the box: a t-shirt remix~! It's the "Legend Killer Tour" t-shirt, with a new addition on the back: "Undertaker, 04/03/05." The crowd says "Boo" on that.

Then Randy lost me with this spiel about victims. I think he used the word "victims" about 2 dozen times in one 90 second passage, which was just awkward. It's like the time about 3 weeks ago when I used the word "nipple" about 15 times in two bullet points, except not funny. So it's "I refuse to become another victim on the list of vicitims that Undertaker has made his victims, but instead will make Undertaker a victim on Randy Orton's list of victims." That's nearly an exact quote, I think. I refuse to check that tape. I was again just kinda zoning out at all the pointless talky-talky. And then, I guess Orton must have said something that passed for a punchline, because all of a sudden, he glances knowingly to the TitanTron, where we get....

A Video Interruption. This was produced in the same style as the Kurt Angle one before, except that with Randy Orton as the subject, instead of ringing true, it was the kind of puffy and unconvincing drivel that leaves you kind of shaking your head and muttering "Whatever..." WWE really needs to be more aware of how they are presenting things, sometimes: you had my women's division diatribe before, and here with Orton, they seem to think that reminding us of his infuriating over-push is a good idea. Don't give us reasons to remember the vast stretch of time when we didn't give a shit about him despite your best and most-ham-handed promotional efforts. A vignette like this is like permission to keep on ignoring Orton like we did all last fall. Except that then, you come out of the clip, and JR, with a straight face, says, "You gotta admit, he's a hell of an impressive young athlete," as if everything we just saw WASN'T a chronicle of the many ways Orton flopped over the last 9 months... huh, see, now that Orton's a heel, I'd figure it'd be open season on announcers actually noting some of Randall's flaws instead of still treating him like he's the second coming of anybody other than Lex Luger.

Back to live action:  Randy's very proud of the bright and pretty pictures he just saw. He likes things you don't have to, you know, THINK about too hard. Which is why, as he gropes for some kind of menacing punchline to a riff about how he'll beat the Undertaker at WM21, the best he comes up with is, "At WM21, your legend will be just like you: dead." Ooooohhhh, ZING~! A suggestion for Orton... next week, if he'd like his taunts to graduate from middle school to junior high, I think he should say something like, "Undertaker, you're 12 and 0 at WrestleMania, but this year, I'm so totally gonna be your Unlucky Thirteen." Feel the mental intimidation~!

After declaring that taunting the Undertaker is something he's wanted to get off his chest for a long time, Randy (ever the master of the effortless transition) glances longingly at Stacy and declares that there's something else he's wanted to do for a really long time. Instantly, my brain realizes that Stacy will not leave the ring under her own power, no matter how long they stretch out the tease. But as soon as Stacy smiles invitingly and Randy smirks smugly, I know that "WWE Think" is going to rob them of a golden opportunity. Even before our two favorite lovebirds are lip-locked, the crowd is really booing the mere IDEA of these two pretty-but-vapid cardboard cut outs making out in the ring. And then, once they do go breaking every single rule of thumb for making-out in public with a really long and trying-too-hard smooch, the crowd is amped up even more. And me? I'm perversely amused by the spectacle, because at the root of that booing is something very simple and base, and which WWE could EASILY have played off of for months, if they'd wanted to: the fans see this, and probably a good 90% of dudes in WWE's target demo get furiously jealous that Orton bagged his sweetiepie, the Head Cheerleader; but even better, those annoying girls with horrifyingly poor taste in boys will boo, too, since they can't believe that Randy is falling for that slut, when everything Randy could ever need to satisfy his manly cravings is contained in their 14-year-old selves. It'd be kind of a 21st Century re-do of Macho Man and Elizabeth, except this time, in deference to not making it uncomfortably misogynistic, Stacy is herself a heel-by-association by being a willing and enthusiastic object of Randy's general unlikable, frat-boy douchebaggery. Instead of the old vibe of Liz being abused and being "too good" for Savage and still putting up with his shit, the new vibe is Stacy is not to be sympathized with since she's bringing it upon herself by not realizing what a cocksmoker she's got herself tied up with. It works on so many levels, and in that instant, I had a vision for how WWE could give us (ALL of us, including those girls who will become a headache if WWE doens't give them a reason to turn on Randy) new and exciting and fresh ways to HATE Orton, instead of just remembering how easily dismissed his entire last 9 months of over-push have been...

Of course, WWE's not concerned with such sustainable methods of heat-garnering, so we go straight to the anvils. Which is Orton thanking Stacy for believing in him, because he thrives on good energy (complete with a total cheesy dickweed wink at her, another thing that if we saw that every week, it'd PISS EVERYBODY OFF and actually make Orton a bigger heel than ever)... and then he turns around to deliver his closing message to the Undertaker and declares that that message is simply this: and to the shock of absolutely no one, he spins around and RKOs Stacy. Yippee.

JR tries to sell this as the most heinous act of heinosity in the history of heinousness, and then I think somebody must have started talking to him in his headset, because he switched gears and suddenly tried to start making sense out of what we just saw. JR's take, "Oh yeah, he had a message... ummm, here's what I think: that message is that if he'll RKO his girlfriend, we can only imagine what he'll do to the Undertaker at WM21." Whaaaa? If anybody on the creative team wants to send me a memo explaining how "beating up a waif of a girl" logically connotes "being able to beat up a 320 lbs. legend," I'd love to read it. In the interim, this strikes me as lazy and unnecessary: more of the ladling on of generic heel traits (beating up women for no reason), instead of finding anything unique about Orton's character to give us a real and unique reason to hate him.

I cannot overstate my belief that keeping Orton and Stacy together could have made for a remarkably over heel couple. Because you can only RKO Stacy once, and it might have been an act of dickishness, but it's also over now and won't do much of anything for Orton in the weeks to come. But you could have Orton and Stacy making out and having Orton do annoyingly smarmy flirting with Stacy and having her like it, and have fans LOATHING the spectacle, and you could do that EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Sadly, that's out the window, now. Because Orton wanted to put the fear of god into the Undertaker by kicking Stacy Keibler's ass. Why do I suspect Taker's every bit as unimpressed as most of us are?


Another History Lesson: speaking of Randy and Liz, here's the match where she finally split off from him for the first time. Hulk Hogan beat Savage to win his 2nd WWF Title at WM5.

Chris Benoit vs. Tyson Tomko

Holy shit! Score one for WWE! No trying to make us wait a week for a match we don't care about! Instead, they serve it up right now! As we cut back to the arena, Tomko's already in in the ring, and Benoit's power walking during his entrance since a glance to the clock reveals just how late we're running, what with all the gum-flapping we're enduring tonight.

Match is very simple: Benoit, ribs taped from Tomko's ladder attack, wastes no time trying to extract his revenge, and goes to town IMMEDIATELY with the German Suplexes. He signals for the Swandive Headbutt and hits it, but in so doing, he tweaks those injured ribs, and can't make a cover. So Tomko gets about 30 seconds of offense, pounding on Benoit, but Benoit snagged a Crippler Crossface out of nowhere, and got the tap-out win. This could not possibly have been a second over 2 minutes, and that's probably the right move. It was a pretty crappy/forgettable match, but in terms of it being a chance for Benoit to just be a bad-ass and remind us that he's still a threat in the 6-man ladder match, it's probably a good thing.  

Now the only thing we gotta worry about: that WWE thinks that a Jericho/Benoit/Shelton vs. Edge/Christian/Tomko 6-man (with the inevitable run-in from Kane when the heels cheat to win) is the way to go next week... how about something a little more creative?

Backstage: Shawn Michaels, in a fancy suit and certainly not looking like much of a Rocker, is walking down a hallway when he is harassed by Muhammad Hassan. This is kind of a replay of the Michaels/Edge dynamic, with Hassan being all "me wanty" and complaining about getting screwed over, and Michaels countering by telling him that it's annoying when punks like him think they DESERVE everything, but have done nothing to EARN it. So Michaels proposes a chance for Hassan to prove himself: next week, HBK vs. Hassan, one-on-one. Hassan accepts, Daivari rants, and I become convinced that this'll be how we are re-introduced to Marty Jannetty, who'll have to save Michaels from a 2-on-1 beatdown and possibly set-up a Rockers vs. Hassan/Daivari run. Which would be swell, since both teams could help re-establish the tag division, and when that's done, Michaels and Hassan are still easily able to hop back into singles issues....


#8 in an On-going Series: It's the first "meta-spoof," as instead of just doing a straight-up parody of a movie scene, this is a skit ABOUT making a skit, where the entire roster is trying out to be DeNiro in "Taxi Driver," but various foul-ups cause the filming to go awry. With only two more of these spoofs to come (you should be able to figure out one based on the couple of major stars who haven't appeared in one yet, and the other is a Steve Austin one that I don't think will air till WM21 itself), this was pretty obviously just a catch-all so everybody got some face time. I guess it was about as funny as 2 minutes of "You talkin' to me?" could be... some of the guys (and girls) were really funny, including Snitsky (who hit a funny "THAT wasn't my fault" when a prop malfunctioned) and Batista (who kept asking what the line was, and when told, did an Abbot and Costello "Who's on first?" routine with the director). There were a couple flops mixed in, too, though. But as an excuse to get about 3 dozen personalities crammed into one spoof? Not too shabby at all...

Some Hype: JR and King talk some about WrestleMania, including how fans can vote on their favorite of the movie spoofs starting next week. Yadda yadda yadda.

They're Lumberjacks and They're OK: Triple H and Ric Flair come out, and take up residence at the commentary desk, while sending their 10 lumberjacks (La Resistance, Hassan/Daivari, Snitsky, Maven, Viscera, Coach, Simon Dean, and Chris Masters) to the ring. Whee... so wait: what kind of pussbag is HHH that he wouldn't make himself a lumberjack? Anything goes, that means he beloved soulmate, Sweet Lady Sledge, could be there with him. Instead, he decides he hasn't talked at us enough tonight and plops his lazy ass down in a chair AGAIN? What a dick. I'm not just kidding around, either: as soon as HHH sat down here, and as soon as he spent most of the match just re-repeating stuff he said earlier, it only made my vagina even sandier that he cut that promo he did earlier, and yet Shelton/Jericho vs. Edge/Christian only gets 8 minutes... who's making the time management decisions here? Oh, wait...


More Hype: next week on RAW, in addition to Michaels vs. Hassan, we'll get a "Face Off" between HHH and Batista. Even though nobody really knows what that means, HHH decides to act pissy about it on commentary.

Batista vs. Kane (Pick Your Poison)

For the second week in a row, we get our main event underway at the crack of 11pm eastern time. So you just KNOW it's gonna be a Jim Dandy. Out of the gate, it's power vs. power and Batista is acquitting himself quite nicely... until the Lumberjacks strike. Chris Masters -- who strikes me as the kind of chap who might indeed like to put on women's clothing and hang around in bars -- gets the fun started by blindsiding Batista, allowing Kane to commence with some one-way Slobberknockering. Basically, any time Batista would start to rally, a Lumberjack (or Lumberjacks) would interfere, and that'd be the end of that. For his part, Kane TRIED to keep this kind of exciting by dusting off some moves he knows he might want for the Six Man Ladder Match (including a rather nicely done sliding dropkick), but mostly, this was methodical, predictable, and EXACTLY what I was talking about when I spent the last week advocating only matches that can really showcase Batista in the best possible light. The crowd was kinda out of it for this one, in part because of the slow pace, in part because of the predictability of the Lumberjack Antics, and in part because they like Kane too much to really boo him. To be honest, just about the only really memorable thing about the first 4 minutes of the match was HHH responding to JR's question about "putting the Animal down" with "I'm gonna beat him like a bag of puppies." Triple H, you MONSTER, what would the ghost of Lucy the Puppydog have to say to you if she could see you now, you jerk?!?

About 4 minutes in, we finally start ramping things up, as Kane continued to be in control, and Snitsky, proving that either he's massively retarded or that Evolution was retarded for picking him as a lumberjack, decided to attack Kane. That's minus points with HHH, Snitsky. Kane's actually able to boot Snitsky back to the floor, but the distraction was enough to allow Batista to get his first sustained offense of the match, including not a whole lot of anything I remember. I think he hit one nice vertical suplex that not many guys could make look that good against Kane... but in the onslaught, Kane eventually got knocked out of the ring, and there, Snitsky decided to get his revenge from moments ago and attacked Kane. So Kane beat the crap out of him. And then, making the psychology of this match even more vexing, three other lumberjacks decided "Even though I have no allegiance to Snitsky and am supposed to be out here beating up Batista so I can join Evolution, I am going to attack Kane." My brain hurts. So while Kane manages to kick the shit out of them, as well, Batista is yanked out of the ring and attacked by the other 6 lumberjacks (who are clearly the smarter ones of the bunch).

Kane gets back in the ring and figures to feast on the carcass of Batista, except that from out of the crowd (they weren't lumberjacks, and thus, their attack makes sense!) come Edge, Christian, and Tomko. They put a beatdown on Kane, while Batista stages his monstrous comeback against the six jobberjacks. Batista gets in the ring, and sees the 3-on-1 against his opponent, and quickly decides that he's a force for justice and right in the world by going after EC&T... EC&T decide that they are a force for dumbness and futility in the world by attacking Batista in the age-old "one ninja at a time" fashion, making it easy for Batista to finish them off. With all lumberjacks and interlopers written out, it's time for End Game.

While Batista was cleaning up the mess, Kane was Zombie-Sitting-Up, and took the opportunity to hit Batista with a chokeslam. But Batista, he is mighty, and he kicked out at 2. HHH, lazy sack of verbosity that he is, didn't invite himself down to ringside to finish the lumberjacks' jobs, and instead, just huffed and puffed on commentary. Can someone explain to me again the psychology of this match and why I shouldn't be deeply annoyed at the gaping logic holes? Kane tried to follow-up the chokeslam with a Tombstone, but Batista countered that into the Spinebuster, and immediately followed up with (HEY, not even ONE "Thumbs Down" this week! AWESOME!) the BatistaBomb.  Kane is not as mighty as Batista, and doesn't have the magical ability to kick out of finishers at this point. So that's it: 1, 2, 3, and Batista wins. About an 8 minute match, and it got kinda exciting and busy for the second half after a pretty brutal first 4 minutes. Fun as long as you weren't letting yourself think to hard about the rules of the match and simple logic... so both Batista and HHH survived each other's poison... and we end the show with the two having themselves a Massive Staredown. Save it for next week, fellas....


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
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RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
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PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
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RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
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PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
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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
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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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