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OO RAW RECAP
Paging Dave Batista.... 
April 5, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Following up on WrestleMania 21, RAW seemed to have a pretty obvious agenda: make sure that fans realize that Batista's title win was something special. 
 
So of course, WWE went 180 degrees the other direction... Batista made only a single appearance in a 5 minute main event match. And while it did the heart good to see him squash Randy Orton in that match, the lack of any talking time, the lack of any further character establishment... that really hurt. In fact, HHH's lengthy opening promo made it clear

that this is NOT the start of the "Batista Era," and the entire show was booked in such a way to make sure no fan would be struck by that impression. If anything, the show was constructed in such a way so as to make sure do the LEAST possible good for Batista. Baffling.

But there were also two absolutely tremendous free-TV matches that make it quite clear that whatever confusing missteps are being made in the main event, the upper-mid-card is in very capable hands where the ring work will be strong enough to over come any storytelling deficiencies. 

So a mixed bag of a RAW. What wrestling we got was mostly good, and the predominance of talking and filler segments was all over the place, but did include a particularly satisfying piece of fluff in the form of Steve Austin. Here's the full report....

Video Package: the same thing that they showed at the end of WM21. It was kinda silly and pointless then, unless they honestly believe their audience has a less-than-4-hour attention span (it's not like the "One Shining Moment" thing that CBS does every year for the NCAA tourney, which recaps an entire 3 weeks worth of stuff), but here on RAW, I guess I served it's purpose of showing folks what they missed, in rapid-fire clip form. Still, I FF'ed. Cuz I got better things to do with 5 minutes of my life. And cuz I don't recap recaps.

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we are live, for the second night in a row, from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, where I'm sure there'll be some good stuff happening tonight, but we'll have to wait to hear about it because somebody wants to talk at us....

Paging Dave Batista, Volume 1

Wow. Nothing says, "Last night was a hugely historical night, with major repercussions on this brand as we set out on a fresh new course" like carting Triple H out to flap his gums at the very top of the show. Is anybody BESIDES a McMahon getting any say into how they're laying out shows, here? Christ...

The crowd seems to be indicating who they'd RATHER be hearing from, as they serenade Trips with a "Ba-tis-ta" chant before he can begin. I'm with you people: it's not like HHH can't get his say later in the show, but I'm STILL itching to hear Batista's side of the story and see him evolve into a fully-formed character, and the perfect time to do that would have been at the very top of the first RAW of the Batista Era. It should have been a no-brainer, really.

Oh, wait: it seems as though that's what HHH is kinda here to talk about. Because this *isn't* the start of the Batista Era, at all. Batista was only good on one night, but HHH has been great for 6 years. And it doesn't matter if Batista has the belt right now, because HHH "owns it." Funny, last filings I checked, it was your father-in-law who owned about 90% of it, junior. Although I guess that works out about the same way, huh?

HHH starts making his Angry Face as he gets all intense as he talks about how the title gravitates towards greatness, and that it WILL "come home" very soon, because the rematch clause is in effect, and in the biggest rematch in the history of the business (uh, Trips, can I PLEASE have some of whatever the hell you're smoking? or do I just need to start visiting Tony Schiavone's doctor, too?), Triple H will become an 11-time World Champion.

And then he bails out of the ring, and starts jawing with some ringside fans (HEY! it's that one guy -- Gas Station Attendant Shirt Guy -- who's at lots of shows, always makes signs, and actually got on Confidential once for a special feature about how he apparently has no life outside of wrestling!) before leaving ringside. Somebody finally remembers to hit his music, and that's our first post-WM21 segment: HHH telling us that there will be a rematch, and he believes he'll win. Huh, HHH wasting a premiere slot on RAW to tell us something we all already know? It's becoming a weekly tradition!

I don't know: it was good, intense, and to the point... but it's also evidence that creative is more concerned with protecting HHH than in elevating Batista. This would have been a fine promo in the middle of the show, but the show-opening slot needed to go to Batista. Hell, the way the show played out ANY slot should have gone to Batista... it'd have been easy as pie: you want to give the impression that WrestleMania mattered, and that something has fundamentally changed on RAW, you give Batista 5-plus minutes to talk, and then you can have HHH come out, interrupt, and make this EXACT speech, and it'd play a lot better. Especially because it could have added TONS to Batista's character if he just sort of stood there smirking, rolling his eyes, and no-selling HHH's windbaggery. Seeing him be calm, cool, and confident while HHH yaps and yaps would have been an ideal dynamic... instead, we got this: HHH opening RAW with a whimper instead of a bang.

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Corporately Sponsored Video Clip of the Night: Shelton Benjamin totally kicked ass in the WM21 Ladder Match.

Shelton Benjamin vs. Christian vs. Chris Jericho (IC Title Match)

The theme of the night kicks off here, as all three guys are going all-out to sell injuries. I'm not necessarily against that, but it did kind of seem like as the night wore on, the message was "Not only is WM the biggest show of the year, but injuries suffered at the show are also the biggest of the year." It doesn't seem like they are as conscientious about selling injuries from week to week or after other PPVs, does it? Shelton's got a limp going, Christian's opting to sell the ribs, and Jericho's got an elbow taped up.

Out of the gate, they set the tone of the match as "every man for himself," as Jericho and Shelton TRY to team up on Christian, but that only works for about 30 seconds before they start trying to one-up each other, and then eventually just outright get in each others' faces and start in-fighting. Jericho is the aggressor in the exchange, as Christian powders out to enjoy the comforting embrace of the Lovely Miss Tomko. Jericho actually busted out some of his old heelish riffs here, and dominated Shelton, hitting him with the bulldog and setting him up for a Lionsault.

However, as Jericho leapt to the second rope for that, Christian had recovered and clubbered Jericho off... from there, it was Jericho's turn to powder out, and Christian and Shelton did some stuff. Shelton started out with the advantage, but the Christian took over following a little assist from Tomko, and worked over the back/neck of Benjamin. Anytime Jericho tried to get re-involved, he'd get knocked back to the outside. Christian tried to go up top, but Shelton caught him, and was setting up for a Superplex... but that's when Jericho finally came back into the ring and got back into the match, setting up the Spot of the Night.

With Shelton set-up for the superplex, Jericho positioned himself under Shelton, and put Shelton in position for a powerbomb. When Jericho hit the powerbomb on Shelton, Christian came tumbling off the top for the superplex, but with the added velocity from Jericho's powerbomb on Shelton. Awesome; I don't think I've ever seen that exact variation. [Indie wonks, don't bother telling me it's been done.]

Jericho tried to follow up by making covers on both, but no dice. So he isolated on Christian for a bit, and went to town. Still couldn't keep him down. Shelton came back, and Jericho moved on to him for a bit, but couldn't keep him down for three, either. In fact, Shelton started a little rally, and set off another neat chain reaction: Shelton rolled Jericho up, but Christian came and made the save by floating over Shelton and rolling HIM up, and then Jericho broke THAT up by rolling BOTH of them up at the SAME TIME. Sweet. The crazy ass back-and-forth near falls continued for another minute or so, until Shelton hit a T-Bone Powerslam on Jericho: Tomko had to break that one up, and managed to sneak in a few other licks on Shelton behind the ref's back.

The left Jericho and Christian to execute End Game: they went back and forth for a bit until Jericho double-jump-drop-kicked Tomko into uselessness, and then locked in the Walls of Jericho on Christian. Christian teased tapping out, but fought it until suddenly, Shelton came flying in off the top rope and plucked Jericho off with a sweet flying bulldog. He wrapped Jericho up, hooking both legs, and got the three count to retain his IC Title. Really good little 10 minute match; hell, I dare you to find me a BETTER 10 minute match in recent memory.

Backstage: GM Eric Bischoff and Edge are having a confab, where they want to "make it official" that Edge has a World Title Match at a future time of his choosing. The contract is signed, and Bischoff wonders if Edge wants to take his shot tonight... but Edge doesn't. He'll TELL Bischoff when he wants his match. Which prompts Bischoff to say, "OK, well then let me TELL you who you will be facing tonight... CHRIS BENOIT."  Edge seethes at this as we cut to...

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Paging Dave Batista, Volume 2

Randy Orton, in full ring gear and without ANY Posing of Ultimate Douchbaggery (because he's acting too dejected to remember to act like a prick), heads to the ring. And god-fucking-dammit did the announcing ever piss me off here: both Lawler and Jim Ross are fellating Randy, saying that he might have lost, but he came closer than anybody ever has to beating the Undertaker and, "Whether you like him or not, you bah gawd have to respect that." The fuck, JR? Orton's a heel, you're allowed to point out his shortcomings, and let Lawler handle the reach-around. For instance: Orton's most compelling near fall of that entire match came as a result of his dad's cast. Why not point that out? What's the fascination with everybody putting Orton over like he's the greatest thing since sliced bread INSTEAD of putting him over in a way that will help his CHARACTER, which is that of a heel? It makes me so angry....

Orton starts out by saying that it "wasn't supposed to have happened this way," and says that he was so close to beating Taker, and even had him set up for a Tombstone, but that's when he felt something give out in his shoulder. He lost strength in his left arm, and suddenly, that was the opening Taker needed to reverse into a Tombstone of his own and take the win out of Randall's hands. Nice bullshit heel rationalization, which could well set the stage for the return of everybody's favorite: RNN Updates (where Orton can pre-tape things, so as to give the impression of having a working knowledge of the English Language)!

Then Orton changes gears and says that after he got to the back and had been checked out by doctors, he turned to a monitor and was sickened by what he saw: Batista holding the World Heavyweight Title. Because Batista was the joke of Evolution, and when they were all together, Orton was being told to "slow down" because they didn't want to leave poor dumb Dave behind. And whatever respect Orton has for HHH, he doesn't have for Batista, and he can't stand the thought of Batista holding the belt that he'd once held.

You know, this would have been another great spot for Batista to come out and do a cool, calm, collected and dismissive promo in response to Orton's idiotic claims. Instead, the subtle message is that "Orton's a brave warrior who gave it his all against Taker, and now, he's pointing out that our new champion, who ostensibly SHOULD be getting the full promotional effort of this company, is a poseur, which may not be entirely false." I don't get it. It's like nobody is Psychology Checking this crap before they put it on TV or start feeding JR his lines. 

But instead of Batista coming out to defend himself and talk circles around Evolution's REAL Dumb Guy, we get Eric Bischoff coming out... Orton demands a match against Batista, and Bischoff makes it clear that HHH has already enacted his rematch clause, and Edge has a title shot on the books, so his hands are kind of tied title-match-wise, but he will give Orton a one-on-one non-title match against Batista later tonight. Orton is satisfied with this.

Actually, a pretty solid promo from Orton; but I fucking HATED the "packaging" of it with the announcers failing to present Orton in the correct fashion for his character, and I hated EVEN MORE the fact that instead of Batista coming out to instigate the match against Orton, you had Orton making the demand of Bischoff, instead. Baffling; if I didn't know better, I'd suggest WWE is willfully trying to torpedo Batista... first you had the shitty final month of WM build-up, and now you have this show where HHH and Orton are being presented as more important to the brand than the New Champ. Unless Batista was held up in traffic, there's no excuse for him to have been absent from both of these segments.... I remain more convinced than ever that WWE is just fucking clueless as to why Batista's so popular, and thus, they're limiting his exposure out of fear that they'll somehow screw it up. 

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Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme (Women's Title Match)

Presented as a WM Rematch, this one never actually got started... Spaz and Lita entered first, and then Trish hit the ring. And in the middle of Trish's usual entrance posing, she suddenly broke from her patented Patronizing Bow of Extreme bOObery to kick Spaz square in the head. Down goes Spaz, not to be heard from again.

Lita tries to stand up to Trish, but Trish is able to deal with that with a simple kick to Lita's knee. Then Trish follows up with a leglock that torques Lita's knee, allegedly tearing it up even worse. Finally, a half dozen officials are able to pull Trish off, but I have a feeling that the damage was done, no?

So that was the entire segment: boot to the head for Spaz, kick to the knee for Lita. No contest, and the message is clear that Trish is a vile wench who is in complete control of the women's division. Which is cool with me. And apparently with more than a few fans in the audience, too, as there were some cheers mixed in as she left the ring.

You know what's most baffling here? That this is the exact sort of segment that SHOULD have been done for the month leading up to Mania. Make Trish look dominant, make Spaz look weak and sympathetic, and then maybe the match at WM21 wouldn't have been quite as abysmally flat, since Spaz's weaknesses would have been masked by the fact that fans would have felt kinda sorry for her being overmatched, instead of just not caring because the match was being presented as a legitimate contest in which Spaz was allegedly a deserving challenger despite not looking the part. So why do you do it now, when it can't do any good? There's absolutely no interest anywhere in the world for a Spaz/Trish rematch, and going back and doing what you SHOULD have done the first time ain't gonna change that.

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In Case You Missed It: Eugene appeared at WM21, got attacked by Hassan and Daivari, and Hogan made the save. It was a very fun moment, but I don't recap recaps. Of note: they edited out Eugene's extended riff on Midgets. Jerks; that was absolutely HILARIOUS. And yes, the replay of this bit was the entire segment, so once it's over, we check some...

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#9 in the Now-Concluded Series: Steve Austin is Gladiator. Pretty funny stuff; in the middle third of the movie spoofs along with the "Taxi Driver" and "Braveheart" ones. The top third? Easily "When Harry Met Sally," "Eugene Gump," and the "Fatal Instinct" ones... what the hell happened? I was honestly waiting for Kane and Trish in the "Silence of the Lambs"... then again, I was probably just looking for alternate reasons for Trish busting out that Lecter Reference a few weeks ago....

Wrestling? We Don't Need No Stinking Wrestling.

Shawn Michaels picks up where the three guys in the IC Match left off, by dramatically selling an injury (in this case, his ankle) from the night before... he can't even hit most of his patented poses on the way to the ring.

And in the counter-point to Orton's entrance, JR again praises Shawn's tenacity and heart against a tough opponent, but Lawler declares, "What are you talking about JR? All I saw is that Michaels lost the match and embarrassed all of RAW with his loser performance!"  Um, where the fuck were you on Orton's ring entrance, then, Lawler?  He lost, too, and in the lesser of the two matches!  And JR can't even call him on it, because JR was right there joining in on the virtual blowjob of Orton on the grounds that somebody is not bothering to enforce any sort of logic or continuity when it comes to who the announcers will endorse or make fun of. C'mon WWE: they are your first line of offense when it comes to presenting characters to the audience, and should ALSO be consistent characters themselves, but on this night, you've got them sending mixed messages. Oy.

Michaels, unlike Orton, is playing the Optimist Card... instead of bitching and whining about what went wrong and why he lost, he thanks the fans for putting him on the grandest stage of all and letting him be the ShowStopper in, win or lose, one of his greatest performances of all times. There are SOME boos smattered in here, but not as many as Michaels was getting at Mania...

Michaels also channels his old Clique Buddy, Scott Hall, by conducting a little survey. Hey yo, who wants to see a Michaels/Angle rematch? Just about everybody in the crowd, even the folks what were booing just seconds ago! And me, too! Michaels says he was kinda hoping they'd say that, and he'll do everything he can to make that match happen, because the fans want it, and more: SHAWN wants it. Because next time, he's thinking the result might be a little bit different. Big pop for that... which turns to boos when Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari interrupt.

Daivari actually talks to the duo to the ring, and fails to get "What?-ed" by the idiot fans, despite leaving plenty of gaping pauses in which "Whats" would fit. And then once they're in the ring, Hassan takes over. And immediately makes sure that he'll be considered to be the Biggest Dick In the Building by announcing that one wrinkled-up has-been assaulted him out of bias and racism the night before, and now, he's sitting here having to listen to another wrinkled-up has-been talking about how he lost a match the night before. Boo!

Hassan also opines that it doesn't matter that Shawn is a has-been and a loser, because everybody in the audience is a loser, too, and losers love losers. This goes on for a bit, until Shawn finally has heard enough... he slaps Hassan. Predictably, this jump-starts a 2-on-1 brawl. Shawn manages to hold his own for a minute or two, but the numbers catch up with him. Hassan and Daivari put a good solid beating on HBK, culminating in Hassan locking in a Camel Clutch while Daivari pounds away with kicks to the head. Bastards.

The crowd, throughout the beat-down, were chanting for a run-in. A lot of them were chanting for "Ho-gan, Ho-gan." But a few more perceptive folks were actually chanting, "Marty, Marty," which I think is something that we might see take shape here soon... if there's any more Hogan/Hassan, I'd actually guess that they'd do something like a Hogan/Eugene vs. Hassan/Daivari match, but I also don't think that's in the cards. I think the new plan with Hogan won't call for "throwaway" matches like that (as funny as it'd be to see Training Vignettes v2.0 with Hogan/Eugene, and even funnier to see Regal forced to feign fondness for Hogan in other skits!)... anyway, a fairly effective segment if it's leading up to Hassan/Daivari vs. the Rockers. Still, this is a show that was really starting to drag with all the talking and video packages; an hour and 10 minutes into RAW, and we only had the one 10 minute match. That's not exactly a recipe for compelling, edge-of-your-seat TV.

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Chris Benoit vs. Edge

On the Announcer Tote Board, please mark down JR as spending the match savaging Edge, in exactly the way that he didn't to Orton. So he *can* say bad things about heels. But apparently only provided that they are the flamboyantly mediocre heels that the company has a raging hard-on for.

Benoit keeps the Injury Selljob Train chugging down the tracks, with his upper arm heavily taped. And if you thought Benoit was outstanding in bringing some OMG~! PSYCHOLOGY to the ladder match spotfest on Sunday, he was REALLY working it here tonight. Early spots are all Benoit's usual attempts at back and forth mat wrestling, but he can't cinch anything in, since he's working one-armed. He even has to limit himself to chopping only with one arm. It starts bugging him so much that he even has to bail out to ringside early on, where he kills time and tries to shake out the injury (JR notes that he's NEVER seen Benoit bail out in the middle of a match before, which makes him think Benoit shouldn't even be competing tonight; a nice touch there, as it underscores an important part of Benoit's established character as a tenacious SOB).

But even with the "target on his shoulder" (a good call by King, saying that the heavy tape job was practically an invitation for Edge to be vicious), Benoit shook it out and controlled the early minutes of the match. Everytime he hit an offensive move, he'd cringe in pain, but he was still able to string them together, cuz he's one tough bastard. Even when the brawl went outside, Benoit stayed in command... but the trip to the outside was also his undoing, as when Benoit got back into the ring and tried to haul Edge in, Edge yanked Benoit's arm down over the top rope, effectively ending Benoit's offensive run.

So Edge commenced an extended sequence of arm-related offense, finally settling into a hammerlock of some kind. Benoit managed to fire up out of that, though, hitting a German Suplex... but his injured arm meant that he couldn't keep his hands clasped... so in a nice touch, they did little 5 second mini spots between each suplex, but Benoit still managed to hit the full Hat Trick, just in non-consecutive fashion. But then, he made a mistake: he went up top to hit the Swandive Headbutt, but Edge moved. Benoit took the brunt of the fall on his shoulder. Edge quickly tossed Benoit out of the ring, where he landed hard on his shoulder again, and where we had a nice opening to look at some....

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Back, and Edge is working another armbar of some kind. And during the break, had even prickishly removed Benoit's bandage. Although Benoit escapes the resthold, he can't sustain any offense: anything he tries, Edge puts a stop to it with a punch or kick to the shoulder. Eventually, Edge gets cocky and decides to go up top, but Benoit's able to hit the ropes to knock Edge off-balance and crotch him. This leads to a nicely-contested sequence where Benoit, one-armed and all, actually manages to hit Edge with a Superplex. Both guys down, ref applies the 10 count, which is basically our indication that we're entering the final stages...

Both guys beat the count and go back and forth for a bit, but eventually, Benoit gains the advantage and actually applies the Sharpshooter... but Edge is able to get a rope break. But the damage was done, and when Edge gets back to his feet, it's not long before Benoit is able, bad arm and all, to procure the Crippler Crossface on Edge. But his bad arm means he can't cinch it in tight, and Edge is able to escape, and in fact counters smoothly into a Fujiwara Takedown, tearing at Benoit's shoulder. Benoit's in serious trouble as Edge lines up for the Spear... but Benoit sidesteps, and Edge eats turnbuckle. When Edge stumbles back, Benoit quickly rolls him up and gets the three count!  BENOIT WINS!

A very solid 15 minute match, with the story of the match being almost as strong as the action. And I'm not just talking about the way they worked Benoit's arm/shoulder into things... I'm talking about the fact that Benoit beating the #1 Contender does a nice job of setting up some possibilities down the line. Afterall, if Edge deserves a title shot, and if Benoit beats Edge, isn't there some Transitive Theory of Pro Wrestling that could put Benoit back in the title hunt? And on the list of things that *I* have a hard-on for, we all know that Benoit as an opponent for Batista is one of them. Because we've got proof that he can actually have very good matches with Batista, something that would be a HUGE help to the Big Man.

After the Match: Edge, ever the sore loser, attacks Benoit with a steel chair, bending it over Benoit's arm and shoulder. Does Benoit need a vacation or something? Or are we starting the process of proving what a bad-ass he is by having him wrestle and win with only one arm?

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The Miller Brewing Company Proudly Presents... "Our Beer Ain't Fer Sissies Theatre"

Simon Dean has reverted back to his original form: as a paying advertiser. Accompanied by Maven and a table full of his products, Simon tries to sell the LA audience on his System. Simon's #1 selling point is the beautiful physical specimen in the ring with him... but of course, he's not talking about Lillian Garcia, he's talking about Maven. Who takes the cue to grab a mic and try to get some cheap heat by mentioning that he thought Los Angeles was supposed to be full of beautiful people, but instead, he thinks LA stands for Lard Asses. Oh ho ho ho ho ho. The comedy, will it never start?

Simon gets back on the mic and picks up the riff, saying that all the people in the audience are fat, out of shape, probably like sitting on their asses watching "Fat Actress," and eat nachos and drink beer. Did somebody say "beer"? If you didn't see where this was going instantly, please report back to the second grade, because The Rick doesn't have room for you at the grown-ups table....

*KEE-RASH*

And out to interrupt is Steve Austin, who has plenty of lists to run down, so that the idiot, easily-amused fans can "What?" their asses off. A list about Simon's products. A list about Simon. A list about Maven. Pretty much the only funny part was the punchline, which was Austin calling Simon a "purple bastard." Then again, I just like the word "bastard," and love coming up with new words to put in front of it to create Word Pictures.

Finally, Austin gets to the point, which is that he has a proposition: Austin will try one of Simon's protein shakes, but only if Simon tries a beer. Simon, apparently trying to out-gay Randy Orton, asks for a low carb beer. All Austin's got is Miller Lite, though (which actually *is* the lowest carb beer that a man can be seen with)... so Simon sips it, and pretends like he doesn't totally hate it. And after just one sip, Simon decides he has to work off those calories with some push-ups... Austin actually turns it into Drill Sargeant routine, and in the end, has Simon doing girly-style push-ups. Finally, Austin feels Simon's been through enough, and samples the protein shake. He declares that it "tastes like crap."

Simon and Maven disagree, and Maven gets big heat for calling the shake a "man's drink." Finally, Simon takes a sip of his own shake, but then Maven picks an inopportune time to give Simon a manly slap on the shoulder, causing Simon to spit the shake out onto Austin. "You Fucked Up" says the crowd, and sure enough... the ass whupping is on.

Mudhole stomps here, kick-wham-stunners there, you know the routine. And as utterly pointless as this was, it was sure fun to see. It's just that on a show that featured so much in the "pointless" vein (6 minute reruns of WM, the Trish/Spaz non-match, all the endless talking without actually saying anything), it wasn't necessarily as welcome as it would have been as a diversion on a loaded show. Although unlike some of the other fillers, this went over REALLY well and had the crowd on fire... which also makes me question placing it right before the main event. It's ANOTHER case of them almost hamstringing Batista on purpose: making him have to follow a red-hot Austin segment? Crazy. I might have flopped this with the Michaels/Hassan thing so as to give the fans something they could cheer after having endured something they booed so heavily.

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Backstage: Orton is walking down a hallway, and OMG~! he actually notices when he suddenly leaves a normally-lit area and ventures into a region of Spooky Red Light. Which of course means Kane is lurking... and as soon as he pops out from behind a corner, he tells Randy "I told you so. You can't beat what you can't understand." D'oh, poor Randy: he understands so very little! But he's gonna put up a brave front: he claims he DOES understand, and that Kane will see that once Orton gets done with Batista. Orton leaves, and Kane? He does what I would have done: he just laughs at Poor Poor Randy.

Randy Orton vs. Lillian Garcia?

They immediately go to Orton's ring entrance, and he comes on down, giving JR and King a chance to hype up that "The Arrival of the New World Champion is coming up NEXT." It's the first real push for Batista all night long, the first sense that there's anything special about him....

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Batista vs. Randy Orton (Non-Title Match)

Batista makes his ring entrance, and gets a big pop for his unveiling... in deference to his new costume jewelry, Batista also axed some of the most stilted elements out of his posing. No pointing the toe, no churning the butter. Nice. Out of the gate, Batista hits some power moves, and Orton sells like his shoulder is killing him... but about a minute in, when Batista goes for a powerslam, Orton weasels out, and clubs Batista from behind, and then follows up with a dropkick, sending Batista out of the ring. And then, Orton makes everybody's favorite kind of gesture (the Broad kind) to indicate "Ha ha, my shoulder is just fine and doesn't hurt at all." Huh. The announcers didn't pick up on that at all, probably because the whole point of Orton's promo was to establish that he really is hurt, a point that was to be a serious plot point later in this match...

On the outside, Orton followed up by tossing Batista into the ringsteps to secure the edge. Back in the ring, Orton opted for, you guessed it, a chinlock. Whee. Batista only put up with that noise for about 60 seconds before starting his fire-up, which culminated in Batista sending Orton shoulder-first into the ringpost. Twice. The announcers sold it like they heard "a snap," so even though that's a spot we see on about a weekly basis, I think we've gotten our "write out" for Randy. Batista tosses Orton back into the ring, hits the Spinebuster, does the Thumbs Down, and then hits the BatistaBomb. Over.

It was 4, maybe 5 minutes, and as much as I like any excuse for Orton to essentially get squashed, this just wasn't enough for Batista tonight. Injuring Orton is good, but doing so in a throw-away 4 minute match? We needed more talking, we needed more substance...

After the Match: Triple H's music hit, and he hit the stage to make eyes at Batista, indicating that he wants his title back. So on Batista's first night as champ, the FIRST impression is HHH talking about how Batista's title win proves nothing and the LAST impression is HHH indicating that he's getting his rematch and will get his title back. Funny, I'd probably have somehow made the night about BATISTA. But I'm weird that way...
 

E-MAIL RICK
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