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OO RAW RECAP
Peepulation Boom 
April 26, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

My concerns over time management aside, last night worked out rather smashingly for me... 
 
God bless the Indiana Pacers for laying the smacketh down on the hated Celtics... god bless WWE putting together the tightest RAW they've done since before WM...  god bless President Pedro Cerrano for bailing out the Sacless Wonder... god bless the Daily Show just being the Daily Show... god bless a 12-pack of this microbrew I'd never heard of before, 

which was REALLY tasty (you know how a bratwurst boiled in beer before you grill it up has just that taint of beer taste? well, somehow, this was the first beer I've ever had that reminded me of what a beer-simmered brat tastes like, like it almost had a taint of sausage, or that it was the perfect beer designed for cooking brats, or something; I know this might sound strange or disgusting to you, but it was awesome)... and god bless DVR for letting me achieve levels of Television Efficiency that you mere mortals can only aspire to, for the ability to cram 7-hours of TV into less than 5-hours of real time is invaluable.

And so it is thus that I don't really have any massively pissy or illuminating thesis for today's Recap. I had fun last night, RAW contributed to that with a show that (while far from flawless) only really made one of its patented bonehead moves (and got it out of the way in the opening segment), and when I finally laid my head down to sleep last night, it was with a big ol' smile on my face.

And that's nothing to sneeze at. So with no sand in my vagina today, no over-riding theory to drop on you, let's just cross our fingers and hope that 12 beers didn't rob me of my ability to try to convey a clear picture of the show that (for the most part) satisfied me. We ride....

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and right from the get-go, it is plainly obvious that we have hopped the pond and are emanating from Jolly Old England. How can you tell? Just like they put the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car and drive on the wrong side of the road, those wacky Brits have the announce team on the wrong side of the stage. Oh, and the announce team this week? It's Lawler and Coach again.... ugh. Coach says that after the beating JR took last week, the RAW announce job is his forevermore. Let's table that one until you can go longer than 30 seconds without calling somebody "baby boy," OK, Potsie? We also get a quick look at tonight's line-up, which includes our Christian vs. Batista main event, and a special word from Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan, and then it's straight to the ring for....

Close but No Cigar Theatre

Batista hits the ring, and even in a suit, he stops to Churn the Butter for us... but he probably should have preserved his energy. Because by the time he's done posing in front of a MASSIVELY hot crowd, he's out of breath, and can't hardly speak. He false starts his promo at least 3 times, but is bailed out, because the crowd keeps giving him "Batista, Batista" chants to justify his pausing.

Christ, take it easy, Big Man! Or keep hitting the cardio. Or something.  Even that spaz, the Ultimate Warrior, could usually speak fluently after his wildman ring entrances....

But finally: Dave speaks. And for the FIRST FUCKING TIME IN TWO MONTHS, he's actually speaking like the Dave Batista we knew and loved all last fall and winter. Calm, collected, possessing good humor, the whole nine. Dave's downright amazed that he's in England as the World Champ... and just as I'm sensing this might be the night he cuts the promo he's been needing to cut for months, he changes gears. Because he's not here to talk about himself, he's here to pay homage to a very special man. A man who is one of wrestling greatest. A man who, in one night, did something that it took Batista 2 years to accomplish.

Good ol' JR, Jim Ross.

The fuck? Batista's finally cutting the style of promo he needs to be cutting, and he's gonna spend it blowing smoke up Jim Ross' ass? Batista brings JR out to the ring (JR is sporting some bandaids and a black eye), and does a lot of hugging and posing. It's very.... I don't even know what word to use. He was sort of coddling JR like JR was his mascot or something. Anytime Batista tried to draw attention to JR, JR visibly tried to downplay it, like he knew that any credit he took for his win over HHH last week would probably catch him another ass-whomping. But Batista didn't take the fucking hint.

Instead, he piled on the superlatives, noting that "We all knew you were a World Class Announcer, JR, but you've been holding out on us: you've got skills. Wrestling skills. Oh yes you do, you got skills." It was in the tone of voice that one might use with a Special Olympics sprinter who just came in 8th in a field of 10, but who you still think is a winner. Throw in some head-patting and some hair-mussing, and it was VERY patronizing. And the look on JR's face -- like he was ashamed to be hearing all this -- didn't help matters. But the live crowd apparently didn't feel uncomfortable with this, as they joined Batista in a "JR, JR" chant.

In the middle of the chant, Triple H had apparently heard enough about his Big Loss, and came on out for a counterpoint. He had no sooner called the crowd a bunch of sheep-shaggers (bleeped by Spike? are you kidding me?), then Batista cut him off, and said, "Triple H. What a surprise." The crystal clear sarcasm in Batista's voice was, sadly, anvilized when he said, "Actually, I'm joking, I was really wondering what took you so long to come out here." Big pop for this, and I appreciate the return of collected, confident Batista, but he didn't have to explanationize himself, I don't think....
 
The same basic gimmick reprised 2 or 3 more times, with HHH trying to start talking, but Batista cutting him off to act dismissive and unafraid of him. This really chaps HHH's hide, and he finally shouts, "Dammit, quick interrupting me, don't you know who I am?".... but Batista cuts him off again, and says, indeed, he has an idea who HHH is, and has video footage to illustrate it. Because you see, HHH is the guy what got beat by JR last week. So they play the footage, and then Batista fake laughs a little too hard. And HHH tries to talk, but Batista insists on seeing the footage again, and then he badly fake laughs EVEN HARDS. The whole time, JR is standing there looking quite forlorn, like he knows this can't end well for him.

Batista then takes another step down the "trying to polish a turd" ladder when he takes a gem of stupidity handcrafted by idiot writers and opines that since JR beat HHH last week, that should make Jim Ross the #1 Contender at Backlash. For the first time, the crowd is something less than excited about Batista after this bit of dumbness. And again: JR is the least-happy-looking person at the eight billionth mention of his win over HHH.

Finally realizing he won't get a word in edgewise on Happy Fun Batista, a very pissed-off HHH decides to storm to the ring. Along the way, he decides to strip to the waist, because Trips just enjoys being as naked as possible when in the company of other men. Batista, displaying a more sensible approach, merely removes his suit coat (revealing -- ewwwwww -- massive pitstains, since he REALLY worked up a sweat during that ring entrance of his, I guess) and unbuttons that annoying top button on his shirt. It looks for all the world like we're gonna get us a Preview of Backlash...  but at the last second, HHH wusses out, and sheepishly retreats back up the entrance aisle. The crowd even gives him a "Na na na na, hey hey he, goodbye" as he leaves.

But HHH leave without completing at least ONE sentence during this promo? Ain't gonna happen. So he waits till the crowd tires itself out, grabs the mic again, and says, "Not now Batista. But at Backlash, your ass will be mine." Dammit, and I blew my one allotted joke about vague homo-eroticism on the shirtlessness! Frick~! Batista, sensing an opportunity, hits his own punchline, which is: "No Hunter, at Backlash *this* will be mine" (as he holds up the World Title belt).

Nice finish/punchline, and it's nice to see Batista come as close to being "himself" as he's been since January, too. But that doesn't erase the retardation of Batista spending more time putting over JR in a VERY awkward and uncomfortable way than he put into talking about himself and HHH. I'm serious: rather than seeming genuine or honest, Batista's treatment of JR bordered on feeling like when a big popular high school jock would, on a dare, pretend to be friends with the fat kid for one day. Or, to put it in more specific "dumb teen movie" terms, when he'd, on a dare, be nice to the ugly girl (where "ugly" is defined as "being smoking hot, but wearing glasses"). More assholish than genuine. In terms of delivery and attitude, Batista came as close as he's been in months to being likeable, it's just the crap-ass material handed to him completely undermined him.

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Welcome Back, JR: a visit to the announce table reveals that Jim Ross has resumed his duties as play-by-play man, and Coach has hit the bricks, baby boy. JR thanks everybody for their support, and says it's great to be back.

Last Week: Trish apparently made Viscera an offer he couldn't refuse. But really, what man among us would have refused that particular offer? The only new info: as a result of this, Kane vs. Viscera has been added to Backlash. 

The Date, Part 1: Trish Stratus is loitering around the foyer of an alleged British Restaurant (really: this was clearly taped last week, right here in the good ol' USofA)... it seems Viscera is nowhere to be found for his hard-earned Date With Trish. Trish asks a waiter if he's seen "A 500 lbs black man with a white mohawk and CRAZY eyes"... the waiter hasn't, so Trish suddenly has a brainstorm: she waited long enough, she can leave, and the waiter can tell Viscera that she... at this point, Trish (displaying that sort of "actually being in the moment" sort of real/natural reactions/body language) caught the waiter staring over her shoulder, and realized that Viscera must have arrived afterall. Sho 'nuff: she turns around, and there's Big Vis decked out in a double-breasted suit. He apologizes for being late. Because, you see, he had to stop off at the drug store. Trish, oh you cute little naive girl, wonders if Vis is sick... but no: Viscera reaches into his jacket and pulls out a strip of about three dozen condoms. Well, maybe not three dozen. But a lot. I didn't count. It doesn't matter. As soon as you bust out more than 5 or 6, you're not showing off or bragging, you're playing it for broad comedy. (Does Trish have an endorsement deal or something? These were the exact same jimmies as were seen at her Baby Shower for Lita!) Trish is appropriately aghast and tells Viscera to put those things away. You know what's funny about this? Watching how Trish deals so fricking smoothly with a guy who is so over-the-top UNsmooth... it's perfect: she's not a victim here, she's knows what she's doing and she holds all the high cards and will get what she wants. So Vis figures he can save the rubbers till later, and just asks the waiter to show them to the most romantic table in the place. The waiter says, "Right this way," and Trish pauses long enough to give the camera a pretty obvious "Well, here goes nothing" take. We're off to a solid start with these skits...

Chris Jericho vs. Sylvain Grenier

Jericho is out to a strong babyface reaction, but also to a sort of heel presentation by King and JR, as not even JR can muster up anything but bad things to say about Jericho's musical number the week before. I still say: if you keep doing it, and do it RIGHT, "Fozzy Lite" could get over huge. 

Jericho and Grenier circle for a moment, but as soon as Jericho gets distracted by Rob Conway waving the Quebec flag at ringside, Grenier is able to pounce, and gets off to a fast start. Huh, it looks like at some point while I was spending the last year being mostly-bored by La Resistance, Grenier must have gone and got himself improved to the point where Conway is only TWICE as talented as him. Pretty good, crisp stuff here, and it builds up to Grenier hitting a flapjack-type move, and then -- holy christ, that's some bona fide Asshole Charisma there! -- he even goes for a cover by doing Jericho's patented foot-on-the-chest-double-bicep pose.

Grenier keeps bringing the offense until he settles into the Chinlock of Extreme Ease to Escape... obligatorially, Jericho fires up out of that, and goes on a tear, culminating in a spot where he hit his running bulldog, but then faked a Lionsault (landing on his feet when Grenier rolled out of the way), and then landed the GhettoBlaster (running enzuigiri) instead. But when Jericho went for the cover, Conway distracted the ref, so Jericho had no choice but to get a running start and hit Conway with a doublejump dropkick. Grenier tried to use the distraction to attack Jericho from behind, but Jericho reversed out of that, and ended up in perfect position to cinch in the Walls of Jericho. After only a token struggle, Grenier tapped out. Couldn't have been much more than 3-4 minutes: too crisp to hate, too short to be at all memorable.

After the Match: Conway attacked and was soon joined by Grenier (maybe he tapped out so quickly so he'd still have his power to stage a post-match attack? I dunno....). The 2-on-1 continued until Shelton Benjamin made the save. He single handedly cleaned house on La Resistance, doing it quickly and smoothly in that sort of effortless way he has of making everybody else around him seem a step slow by comparison. Like I keep on saying: he's like AJ Styles, except with a personality! As Jericho slowly recovered, the announcers wonder why the hell Shelton would come to aid the man who's challenging for his IC Title come Sunday... but as Jericho locks eyes with Shelton, he's got his own theory, "You just had to come on out here and steal my spotlight, didn't you?" is what we pick up on the ring mics. Jericho's demeanor and body language is also quite heelish. But don't tell the live crowd that: they are chanting "Y2J." Jericho works himself into a lather, and he shoves Shelton (to cheers). But when Jericho turns to walk away, Shelton drags him back and immediately snaps off a T-Bone Powerslam. To HUGE boos! Huh. Shelton closes with some taunting ("Who's a little bitch, now?") on his way out of the ring. Interesting crowd response, and probably not what WWE was looking for... but again, to harp on my main point about this feud: it doesn't really matter since (a) the match on Sunday should rule, and (b) neither guy is in for a full-fledged heel turn, anyway, so let the fans cheer whoever they want.

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The Date, Part 2: Trish and Vis have been seated, and are looking over a menu. Vis can't help but note that Trish's hair looks great. Trish can't help but note that, "Thanks, and yours loo.... ummm, well, speaking of great, it was pretty great how you took care of Kane last week!". Smooth as hell. Exactly the opposite of how Batista had to try to convince us he was proud of JR and wound up coming off like a parent bragging about the macaroni sculpture made by his short-bus-riding son, Trish is managing to take a guy she actually loathes and make it seem like she's digging this. Credit where it's due: Viscera played his part to unsmooth perfection, too (completely comfortable and at ease, and unaware of his unsmoothness). A waiter arrived and wanted to know if the couple was ready to order: and Trish immediately perks up and slaps on the Most Hilarious of All British Accents (the Conan O'Brien "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" one; is that Cockney? I think so) and says, "I'll have some bangers and mash, love." [Goddammit, I can't even accuse Trish of Stealing My Shit this time (since this was taped a week ago, before I insisted on a bangers-and-mash joke in my RAW Preview), but this is yet another example of, at the very least, Trish's mind and sense of humor working distressingly similarly to mine. So far this year, we've had this bangers-and-mash incident, the Ay-hole incident, there's the whole "bidness" thing, and even though it's not technically mine to take credit for, the Hannibal Lecter incident happened on my website too. It's crap like this that makes a Man Crush all the more debilitating! As Eddie Money might say, if only he were alive today, "Get out of my skull, get into my pants!". Or something like that.] Viscera, not one to pass up such a perfect straight-line, notes that "I'm a banger who likes to mash." And he just HAD to punctuate it with some pelvic thrusting, didn't he? Trish, with impeccable timing, turns to the waiter and says, "You know what, I'll just have the salad." HA~! But Big Vis is not to be distracted from his talking of banging and mashing, as he proclaims that "You know, eating a big meal always puts me in the mood." Trish, unable to stop herself from noticing Viscera's ample dimensions, notes that "That must mean you're the horniest guy on earth." And then, when Vis doesn't seem to see the humor in it, she tries to semi-apologize saying it was just a dumb joke. But maybe Viscera has an idea now? If food puts him in the mood, maybe he needs to fuel up: so with a look to Trish that says, "This ain't no joke, honey," Vis turns to the waiter, points to an entire page worth of the menu and says, "This is all me, dawg." The waiter leaves, and Viscera, deciding that he's all growed up and if he wants to fill up on bread he will!, grabs a roll and tries to eat it as seductively as possible, while Trish tries to avoid all eye contact.

Backstage: Christian and The Lovely Miss Tomko are talking about their big night tonight (not just Batista in the main event, but also the State of the Peeps Address), and Christian barely has time to remind Tomko to "stick to the plan" before they are interrupted by Ric Flair. Flair has a bit of a proposal for Christian as it regards taking care of Batista. But Christian? Is having none of it. He says if he wanted HHH's help, he'd ask for it, and he's not asking for it. Huge babyface pop for this. But Flair is not so happy, and whips off his jacket and starts flying into a tizzy. Christian immediately tells him to settle down so he doesn't give himself a heart attack (uh oh, does that mean Christian was actually torturing himself by watching Nitro back in 1999?). But Christian is also gonna tell Flair EXACTLY what HHH can do for him tonight: absolutely nothing. Because tonight is Captain Charisma's night to prove he belongs in the main event, and it's not Christian's fault that HHH can't manage to hit a Pedigree on Batista. Further: Christian suggests that if HHH is looking for some competition he can handle, maybe next month he should get himself drafted to SD!, and maybe he can beat Michael Cole. ZING~! Awesome stuff. Flair threatens to totally lose it at this point, but Christian just says, "Tomko, please escort Mr. Flair out of my dressing room." Cool as a cucumber. An absolutely excellent showing by Christian, who went barb-for-barb with Naitch and was the clear-cut winner; also, remember that thing I said last week about Tomko showing signs of using body language and facial reactions to display awareness of his surroundings and add (non-verbally) to them? He was doing that again this week, too. I may still have no desire to see him wrestle a match, but he's turning into a pretty cool sidekick for Christian, rather than just a blank canvas of a valet. Still: I shall call him The Lovely Miss Tomko till fresh Inspirado strikes me...

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You American Fans Suck: WWE toured Europe, and the fans there are totally way more awesomer than us worthless, non-house-show-attending pustules here in the States.

The State of the Peeps Address

Christian, trying heroically to remain a heel, kicks off by stating that historically, Canadians are much smarter (and have much better teeth) than Brits. Boo, kinda. But as soon as Christian spins the tale of how last week he stood up to Mr. McMahon and has earned a chance to prove he belongs in the main event, he got cheered again. He goes on to get more cheers as he promises to prove just that, by doing what HHH has been unable to do: finish off Batista with a REAL wrestling move, the Unprettier. It's as I feared... Christian's appeal is so strong that (combined with Batista's patronizing ass-kissery on JR that NObody wanted to see) he's threatening to upstage the champ tonight.

And then, Christian says, after he proves he can beat Batista tonight, he'll wait until the Draft Lottery, and whether he remains on RAW and defeats Batista for the World Title (OMG SPOILER~! Actually, there were two other instances of people talking about post-Backlash as if it was a certainty that Batista would still be the champ, although I forget where they happened), or goes to SD! where he'll beat that Ali G wannabe for the WWE Title (nice! way to change it up for the UK audience; although, to be honest, Ali G is about 3000 times more entertaining than Marky Mark, and thus about 2000 times more entertaining than John Cena, so it's not a totally apt comparison), one thing is certain: he'll be carrying the torch wherever he ends up. HUGE pop for that. Because That's Just How He Rolls. But Christian can't even enjoy the afterglow of his well-delivered catchphrase, because....

THROUGH HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE, IT'S A GUY WHO THE CREATIVE TEAM COULDN'T FIGURE OUT HOW ELSE TO SQUEEZE HIM ONTO THIS SHOW

Apropos of nothing, Kane hits the ring, and Christian has absolutely no qualms about sacrificing Tomko while he escapes through the crowd. So Kane beats the crap out of Tomko for 30 seconds, and then hits the corner pyro. Not sure why, but OK...

Backstage: Maria the Mic Stand and Lita are watching the carnage, and then Maria decides she has a job to do.... so she concentrates really hard, channels the spirit of Randy Orton, and blurts out "Kane sure seems focused and ready to take revenge on what happened last week." That's a direct quote, and although I think we're all sharp enough cookies that we can go and put in the missing words "Viscera for" in the right spot to render it a cogent thought, it's still just more fun to make fun of the interviewer who seems incapable of speaking the English Language. Lita responds to the non-question by saying that this was just a taste, and Kane's revenge on Sunday isn't even the real story... because one of these days, Trish Stratus will get what she deserves! So, what? An evening of stimulating conversation and fun with the remarkably charming webmaster of her choice? Lita's right, Trish so totally DOES deserve that!

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Backstage: Christian is half-sprinting down a hallway, clearly sure that Kane might be in hot pursuit. He finally makes it to the Evolution lockerroom, and knocks timidly. Ric Flair answers. Christian has undergone a complete attitude transformation, and is in boot-licking mode. It's remarkable: his voice changed, his body language changed, everything. Very nicely done. He offers Flair the suit coat that Flair left in Christian's dressing room, and wants to come in and talk about Flair's proposal from earlier. Flair, clearly aware of what's going on, wants to watch Christian squirm, and says, "No, we can talk out here." Christian, hilariously, tries to blame the whole incident from earlier on Tomko, calling him a big-mouthed hot head. Finally Flair decides he'll go and check with the Boss, but Christian has to wait outside. A few tense moments later, Triple H pops his head out of the dressing room, and simply says, "Michael Cole?". Ha. Christian tries to apologize, but HHH is in control here, and says, "Look, forget about it. If you want to talk about business, though, we can talk about business." Christian believes that "business is good," and wants nothing more than the security of the Evolution dressing room. So he squeezes past HHH into the room, while HHH lingers long enough to look up and down the hallway and smirk. You know: at first I was thinking that this might be a set-up for Christian/Tomko joining Evolution, but HHH's weird little smirk take at the end (and the inexplicability of Kane's run-in) almost have me thinking that Kane and Lita could be interesting additions to Evolution.... ponder it for a bit, and let me know what you think.

The Wade Keller Caliber Ultra-Shitty Recap of a Segment That Simply Doesn't Deserve The Rick's Actual Time Or Effort

Chris Masters came out, fumbled his way through a promo that nobody in the crowd reacted to, and then opened up his $1000 Full Nelson challenge to anybody in the audience. Some guy came in, and failed to escape the full nelson, so this horseshit will almost certainly be reprised next week. Six minutes of our lives we'll never get back.

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Turn Back the Clock Night

In a spot that was clearly taped backstage at MSG last week (I think I even recognized that exact corner from some rock 'n' wrestling MTV show), Coach interviewed Shawn Michaels. And by "interviewed," I mean "verbally assaulted." Because Coach rambled on about how two of the biggest egos in WWE history are teaming up on Sunday, and how there's no way they'll be able to co-exist. For some reason, Coach decided to pause dramatically as he gave them a predicted lifespan of "three minutes." Somewhere, Jamal shed a tear.

Finally, Michaels heard enough, grabbed the mic, and shoved Coach out of the way. Michaels said that sure he and Hogan both have big egos, but it's only because they are entitled to, because they are two of the only men in the business who've done it all. So the only thing left to do is to do it together. As if on cue, Hulk Hogan appeared and was all chummy with Shawn. Hogan seemed ready to start talking, but then paused.... because if we're gonna turn back the clock, we're gonna turn it back further than to Monday, April 18 at MSG... we might as well turn it all the way back to 1985. So here's Mean Gene Okerlund to conduct the interview! Neat!

Gene started with Shawn, asking why he picked Hulk Hogan as his partner. Shawn immediately proceeded to ruin Christmas by forgetting what week it was supposed to be, and got his history lesson a bit off (saying he made his invitation to Hogan "last week" instead of "2 weeks ago")... but he basically got the point across that, with all due respect to the RAW lockerroom, he decided that he wanted a partner who felt as passionately about America as he did, and that mean calling in a Real American.

Gene turned to Hogan, and asked him why he decided to come back. Hogan immediately proceeded to sprain something by NOT starting out with "Lemme tell ya something, Mean Gene." Dammit! For once, I would really have loved that old chestnut. Hogan says that he was watching RAW, and he heard Michaels' shout-out. Hogan says he remembered the Hall of Fame where the fans were shouting for the same thing. And so the chance to deliver them One More Match was something he wanted to do.... and in a rare moment of selflessness, Hogan made it sound like he genuinely considered it an honor and a privilege to be teaming up with Shawn Michaels in that One Last Match. Shawn was all "awww shucks" and loving the pure, simple 80-ocity of it all, as Hogan picked up momentum and hit the "Watchya Gonna Do" punchline. Hogan tore off his shirt and posed, then left, while Michaels remained, and did a funny little tag where he hit the punchline, too, but was unable to tear his own t-shirt off. Nice. If you can't have a little light comedy in a fun little nostalgia storyline like this, then where can you have it?

Useless Divas Throw Shitty Parties

While the Hives' "Walk Idiot Walk" provides candy for the ears, Christy Hemme leads Stacy Keibler, Maria the Mic Stand, and Boobsy McTitsalot to the ring to provide the candy for the eyes. Spaz handles the mic duties as she announces that we're gonna have us a party. And wherever Spaz comes from, I guess 4 Useless Divas aren't enough, so she brings out 4 more. I guess they're models from one of the local tabloids, and since there's no earthly reason for them to be on my TV, I can only assume this was some sort of make-good or paid product placement in exchange for WWE getting positive coverage in said paper, or something.

With 8 women in the ring, Stacy takes over the mic, and explains that we're here to throw a party for England's own William Regal, who is not only a tag team champion, but who also has his autobiography coming out in a few months. Stacy's enthusiasm for the bio would have seemed a bit more genuine if I thought she'd ever read a book. D'oh, wait: did I think that, or did I actually say it out loud? And then, for reasons unknown, Stacy handed a live mic to Titties McSuperBowl, who, by opening her mouth, instantly makes waking up to Fran Dresher's voice seem like a more desirable alternative. Luckily, her only job is to introduce William Regal and Tajiri.

The tag champs enter to a huge ovation, which Regal milks for all its worth. As Regal's playing with the fans, Lawler notes that in the book, there's a story about Regal and a midget that happened in Hollywood. Tee hee, I actually know that story! It probably won't be as funny on the written page, though. Finally, Regal has had enough of being welcomed as a conquering hero. He sincerely thanks the fans, not just in the UK, but all over the world, and is very glad to have put his life's story into a book, because a few years ago, he didn't think he'd ever live to do such a thing. A very "real" moment, but one that Regal knows full well not to linger on, as he's a man's man, and he's not here to get all sappy on us! So he asks to cue up the music and start the party.

So thus begins some shitty club beat (my first instinct is that it was such a gay-sounding song that it must be the Heartthrobs entrance), and thus begins Regal getting swarmed by 7 babes, while Tajiri (if you caught him in the background) is dancing a little tango with Stacy, which looked pretty funny (note: the hilarity of this visual is why the Rick will not go out in public with girls taller than him). And while this is already seemingly like a pretty crappy party, there's one way it can get even worse....

Enter Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari. Daivari is in wrestling gear (and he even has his "Magic Carpet" with him, which is an hilarious little gimmick that I was looking forward to seeing debut in WWE), so we can immediately put the pieces together here. But why jump to conclusions, when Muhammad Hassan can talk for 5 minutes?  I'll forgive him, in this case, as he correctly noted the patheticness of 8 vapid bimbos dancing while the stupid fans lapped it up. He's right, you know. Hassan hit his usual notes about racism and disrespect and being undefeated and all that... and he said to show what Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels have in store for them on Sunday, tonight they want to face the tag team champions. Regal was all too happy to let them know that if they want a fight, Sunshine, they just need to come on down to the ring. So it looks like we got un an impromptu non-title match coming up after these....

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William Regal/Tajiri vs. Muhammad Hassan/Khosrow Daivari (Non-Title Match)

We pick up the action in progress, and William Regal is apparently in the midst of a bit of a flurry... crowd is WAY into every offensive move he hits as he goes to town on Daivari (the legal man) and even expands his enterprise to dragging Hassan into the ring for a solid beating. Single-handedly, Regal takes out both guys, and tosses them out of the ring. Big pop for the home-country boy.

Hassan and Daivari take a few moments to regroup, but as soon as Daivari steps into the ring, Regal controls him again, and manuevers him over to the corner so Tajiri can tag in. On his way out, Regal joins Tajiri for a sweet, stiff-ass sandwich kick on Daivari. Off to the strong start, Tajiri keeps up the offensive, first on Daivari, and then also on Hassan when Hassan's able to tag in. In fact, Tajiri is able to pull Hassan over to his corner so he can tag Regal back in again.

But shortly thereafter, things go south for the champs: attempted interference from Daivari fails, but it was just decoy interference, because when Regal sniffed it out, Hassan then re-distracted the ref, and THIS time, Daivari manages to hang Regal out to dry over the top rope. Hassan follows up with a quick neckbreaker, and Ladies and Germs, we have ourselves a Face In Peril.

Hassan and Daivari cut the ring in half expertly, and spend about 3 minutes working over Regal, focusing (it seemed) mostly on the neck. Regal desperately needed to make a tag, and when Daivari (upon being tagged in) wasn't quick enough to cut Regal off, he got it. Tajiri came in a house afire. Goddamn, I know I've got this irrational manlove for Tajiri, but how can you NOT like it when a guy comes in and hits non-stop kicks that seem so convincing that even *I* actually cringe? The rally is quite sweet as Tajiri takes out both opponents, but it also is not to be long-lived. When Tajiri is distracted by Daivari (the legal man), Hassan is able to hit him with that Flatliner-type move that he's been using as a finisher.

Regal marched into action, chasing Hassan out of the ring and then stalking him at ringside. But Daivari had recovered, and set a trap for Regal. And then, while Hassan finished up the work on Regal, Daivari turned his attention back to the ring: ascending to the top rope, Daivari hit the still-prone Tajiri with an atomic leg drop. DAMMIT DAIVARI, where's the Magic Carpet?!? Even without the flying aid, the top rope leg drop is enough for Daivari to get the pinfall win over Tajiri. Two wins, no losses for Daivari: he's the REAL undefeated member of this team! Pretty decent stuff, with good heat because of Regal's presence; probably about 5 minutes or so worth of stuff after the ad break.

After the Match: Hassan and Daivari were celebrating their victory, but Regal wasn't gonna let them have their moment without a fight... he got back in the ring to attack, but it was to no avail. The already-beaten Tajiri quickly powdered out, leaving Regal to fight a 1-on-2 battle. And that didn't work out. This all built up to Hassan locking Regal in the Camel Clutch, while Daivari peppered him with kicks to the face. The crowd chanted for "Hogan, Hogan," which doesn't speak well of their intelligence, but hey, a fan's got to have hope, right? Since you couldn't have Michaels make the save, solo, without raising questions, that means Regal just took his lumps. Which is kind of a sucky way to do business in front of his partisan fans, but I completely understand why it had to be this way.

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The Date, Part 3: Trish is still picking at her salad (OK, so Trish isn't perfect: salad eaters make me suspicious; gimme a girl who ain't afeared of some red meat!), muttering "Viscera, VIScera, VisCERa" to herself, clearly trying to determine the language of origin, and thus, the possible meaning. Finally, she gives up and turns to Viscera (who is finishing up what appears to be his 12th plate of food), and just asks him. Vis says that his name means "Inner organs... although, my outer organ ain't too shabby, either." At this point, Trish has been hearing the same basic nonsmoothness for an hour and cannot be fazed by anything Vis says, another nice touch of reality. Instead, she tries a more upfront approach, saying, "Hey, I know you want to get down to bidness, and all, but... well, wouldn't you rather have a Playboy Playmate than me? Cuz I can just take out that Christy Hemme again, knock her right the fuck out, and then you can do, you know, whatever." Viscera, a man of fine taste and good morals, would rather work his swerve on a conscious Trish than impose his outer organ on an unconscious Spaz, though. So he doesn't take the offer, and instead, as soon as some funky music hits in the background, he says, "Hey, Trish, they got a dance floor, let's go." But Trish is all, "No, no, my feet hurt" and stuff like that. [OK, so Trish wins back several points here. But I won't bother wasting your time about my thesis regarding the very limited occasions during which dancing is appropriate for guys to do, and how we appreciate it when the cooler broads among you don't force the issue because you think it's funny to make us imitate the homosexuals in N*Sync.] Viscera, though, is apparently a male, but NOT a "guy," since he does want to go out and bust a few moves. And while giving Trish a sample of what awaits her, Vis manages to rumble, bumble, and stumble into the busboy who was trying to clear their table, causing dishes and glasses to go flying. Trish just buries her head in shame, while Viscera deadpans, "Check, please." More goodness.

Edge vs. Val Venis

An odd choice for so late in the show. Val Venis? Really? The weakness of Edge's opposition meant the crowd wasn't exactly gonna be into cheering for Val... which meant that they were free to exercise other opinions. Such as "You Screwed Matt" and "We Want Matt" and "Hardy, Hardy." It started at the opening bell, and it pretty much continued through the whole match. Needless to say, the announcers never acknowledge it. They also didn't acknowledge that Edge and Val are ex-brothers-in-law, either. Because there's some things fans just don't need to know about, I guess...

Edge started fast, actually attacked Val before the bell, and before Val could take off his towel. That lasted for a good 2 minutes or so, but like Grenier before him, Edge was obligated to go to an easily-fired-up-out-of chinlock towards the end of his flurry. So Val made his comeback to a combination of dead silence and fans chanting for Matt Hardy; ouch, that's gotta hoit. Val's comeback ended when he went for the Money Shot, but Edge got the knees up, instead. From there, it was a quick bit of double-reversey action, and on the second try, Edge nailed the Spear and got the pinfall win. If it was more than 3 minutes, I'll eat a bug. And like the opener: crisp enough that you can't complain, but so short that it's absolutely forgettable.

After the Match: Edge decided to continue the beating. And so the crowd decided to continue the "We Want Matt" chants. Edge apparently got pretty sick of it, because he lost his cool long enough to turn to the crowd and say, "Yeah? Well you're not getting him." Zing? Edge's assault culminated in an Impaler DDT, at which point Chris Benoit FINALLY decided to haul his ass to the ring for the "save." He made a bee-line for Edge, and managed to take him down with the Hat Trick of Germans. Edge decided that this would be a good time to get out of dodge. Huh, so using Kane in only a cameo I can understand since his PPV opponent was "on a date." But this is the best you can do for Benoit? I think a little tightening up on time management (I'm looking at you bimbos! I'm looking at you Chris Masters!), and you could have done TONS better in terms of showcasing Benoit (and also Edge).

Backstage: Coach is talking on a cellphone to his publicist, when HHH, Flair, and Christian approach. Coach asks, "Is there anything I can do for you fellas?" and sho 'nuff, there *is* something he can do for HHH. He can put on a referee's shirt. Coach is flummoxed. Why would he put on the zebra stripes? Because, HHH says, in tonight's main event match, Coach is going to be the special guest referee. And Ric Flair is gonna be the special guest time keeper. And HHH himself will, for one night only, be the Problem Solver for the Creepy Li.... d'oh, he means Captain Charisma. Coach sees how the plan all fits together, but says that for something this big, he oughta run it past the boss, Eric Bischoff, who is apparently still back in the States. HHH puts the kibosh on that by simply stating that his patience with announcers is at an all-time low, so Coach should probably just do as he's told. Although there is not a lick of logic to HHH's belief that he can make all these stips, there's plenty of logic to Coach's desire to not get his ass kicked, so I guess we got ourselves a few bonus elements locked in for tonight's main event....

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The Date, Part 4: Trish and Viscera appear to be finishing up. The wine glasses are nearing empty, and I guess that Vis (in his extreme unsmoothness) ain't gonna offer the lady a chance to finish up with some dessert and a cup of coffee. Instead, he just declares that it's time to go, and that only means one thing.... "What's that?" Trish wonders... and Vis whips out a travel bottle of Listerine, gargles, and then swallows (Trish's reaction, as you might expect, is priceless). When Vis starts to move on in for a smooch, Trish said there was something she wanted to tell him, first. She had Vis move in real close... and then she slapped him! Atta girl! "I have a seven foot monster after me, you understand? Now Lita, I'm not worried about her, I've dealt with her before, and I'll do it again. But Kane, if he gets his hands on me, I'm in trouble. So your job is to take care of him. And then, if you do that, after Backlash, we can do, you know, whatever. Are we clear: until you do the deed, we don't." Again: I dig this, because Trish's role defuses any chance that this comes off as tawdry or untoward. Vis isn't harrassing her, Trish is using Vis: she's not a victim, she's in control, which is a rare bit of WWE writers actually handling a female character with some maturity. Vis grudgingly agrees that he can wait till after Sunday, but says that he DID pick up the tab for dinner, so maybe he'd like a little advance on his payment. Methinks Big Vis still wants a little sugar. But mealsothinks that Trish figures he got more than enough last Monday. So she slinks away, and offers a compromise: for an "advance" she gets up and opens up her shirt (back to the camera). [You know, I hate to get bogged down in minutiae, but the Alleged Eyeful is a lot less climactic when I not only know for a fact that Trish had a bra on, but I also know exactly what color it was. It's not like it was bludgeoningly obvious or anything, but still... I may try to play the part of the castrated little eunuch with his harmless grown man crushes, but that ain't exactly true-to-life. Let's just say that there are some switches in the old brain that simply have no Off Position. And I'm not exactly revealing any huge secret or anything: some of us may manage it better than Jerry Lawler, but we're all still slave to the same class of filthy thoughts. In this specific case, that meant my Covert Cleavage Alert System was fully operational during all these skits. I was biologically obligated to look. Frequently. But only when I knew Trish wouldn't catch me.] But for storyline purposes, Trish is apparently NOT wearing a sensible undergarment, as we zoom in on Viscera's slack-jawed face for the punchline: a distracted "Kane. Is. A. Dead. Man." Heh. Whether on purpose or not, the callback of Kane's own catchphrase related to Snitsky got me in the sweet spot. A funny end to a quartet of funny skits.

Christian vs. Heel Status

Main event time, and Christian made his grand ring entrance. You know, I mentioned it shortly after he debuted the new music last year, but I really do dig Christian's theme music. It's by an OO-Approved Band, and even though it's not necessarily the kind of rock song that you'd put on just to listen to it, it's so fricking dead-on PERFECT for Christian that it's insane. It's got all the over-the-top pretentiousness of Christian operatic entrance, just without the silliness that made it hard to take that version of Christian seriously.

And apparently WWE agrees that Christian's entrance is a thing of beauty, as they decided to make this be the entire segment. With Christian in the ring (and getting cheers), they go ahead and cut to some....

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Christian vs. Batista (Non-Title Match)

Before we get to the match, we gotta load up on our Guests. That means ring entrances for Coach, Triple H, and Ric Flair. D'oh, well, there goes this being a 20 minute showcase. Batista finally makes his entrance (not churning the butter this time, but stopping to Point The Toe, instead), and how's about we start this thing, eh?

The heels have got a plan in place, and it consists of Triple H distracting Batista at the outset, allowing Christian to attack from behind. But that plan has a fatal flaw: as soon as Batista turns his attention to Christian, he immediately over-powers him, and sends him flying out of the ring. A quick conclave, and HHH/Christian think they'd better go to Plan B. Sadly, Plan B is a lot like Plan A: it consists of Christian gaining a quick edge thanks to a distraction by HHH, but losing it as soon as Batista isn't distracted any more.

So we enter a lengthy phase where, despite the odds stacked against him, Batista is pretty solidly in command. He runs through a full arsenal of power offense, and might even be on the cusp of victory... but when Batista hits a powerslam, Coach decides to pick that moment to tie his shoes. Jerk. Batista is not amused by this, and confronts Coach in a corner. But from behind, HHH hits Batista with an uppercut to the nutsac. Ouch. Coach feigns blindness, as Batista wilts to the mat. Christian is more than capable of taking over at this point, and as he begins the assault, JR's indignation reaches a fever pitch... but it's not enough to stop the truck from deciding this is the right spot for our final....

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Back, and Christian is firmly in control, and HHH is firmly in position to lend a helping hand when and where it's needed. In fact, a "During the Break" clip shows us that HHH contributed hugely to Christian's current flurry by tossing Batista into the steel ring steps. Settling things back down, Christian goes for a dreaded chinlock, and of course, Batista's able to power out of that (actually standing up with Christian still on his back). However, Christian's also able to counter the counter, and after a bit of back-and-forthy, he hits Batista with a second rope dropkick to retake command. 

It's also around that spot where the fans kind of turned a corner and went from sort-of-cheering Christian to just flat-out-cheering him. Which meant that, for the first time in the night, Batista actually started collecting some boos. I don't blame the UK fans for that, I don't blame Christian for that, I blame WWE and 2 months of counter-productive writing for Batista. It shouldn't have come to this.

Luckily, anytime Christian seemed to be getting a little TOO popular, the could do spots where HHH and/or Flair would interfere and where Coach would let it happen. Between the three of them, they were enough to get fans booing, even if only briefly. And then: an unfortunate coincidence of timing... just prior to Batista starting his power-up, the crowd decided to let loose with a mighty "Let's Go Christian" chant. So as Batista fires up, he's doing in front of a crowd cheering for his opponent, and when he finally hits his first huge move (a flapjack), it gets big boos. D'oh.
 
Batista went about his normal superman rally, but did it to boos and chants for Christian, enough so that Lawler actually had to mention it on commentary, stating that the fans in the UK were a little different, and there must be lots of Peeps here. Just when Batista seemed like he was about ready to finish off Christian, Flair and HHH interceded one more time, causing a distraction. That allowed Christian to sneak up from behind on Batista, and set him up for the Unprettier. But Batista powered out of that, fluidly hoisting Christian  up into an Electric Chair (in a very sweet spot). Batista made the cover, and it seemed like that might be all.... but Special Ref Coachman "hurt his arm" when he attempted to make the count, and couldn't get to three. The aborted count enraged Batista, who gave Coach a big o'l clothesline, knocking him out.

Not that it really mattered, since Coach was a dirty a ref as could be, but with him out of the picture, Flair and HHH REALLY decided to ramp up the interference. But they just couldn't get a foothold. Batista cut them off at every pass, would turn his attention back to Christian long enough to hit a big move (like a Spinebuster), and then clean house again when Flair and HHH tried to get in the ring. After this process repeated 2 or 3 times, HHH and Flair were forcibly powdered out, and Batista turned his attention back to Christian for good. Batista gave him the ever-popular Thumbs Down Gesture (met with a mixed reaction), and delivered a BatistaBomb. Then Batista made the cover, and grabbed Coach's limp arm, and counted it to three himself. Huh, don't know if that's official or not, but they did play his music. Guess it's either a pinfall win for Batista, or they might retroactively say he got DQ'ed for attacking Coach. For the time being, let's give Batista the benefit of the doubt and call it a win for him. Somewhere around 12-14 minutes, and probably a real easy call for my third most favorite Batista singles match ever. Christian did a great job here, and the crowd rewarded him for it, too, and I think with the right line of patter, Christian can save face (especially if he claims a DQ victory, retroactively) and continue on this roll he's on.

After the Match: to undo the wacky crowd reactions, Triple H gets in the ring, and is the heel that everybody can agree on booing. He attacks Batista, but can't really gain an edge. Flair tries to chime in (with a steel chair), but he fails, too. HHH tries again after the Flair interference, but comes up short. Batista, spotting the chair, gets a bright idea: he picks it up, and has HHH in his sights... but he takes too long winding up with the over-head blow, and HHH is able to catch him by surprise with a kick to the gut. And then, about a speedily as we've ever seen him cinch it in, HHH locks up Batista's arms and hits the Pedigree. Just that fast. Hunter turns to the camera and does some posing, but is momentarily worried when Batista starts to stir.... HHH shoots him this perfect "You gotta be kidding me" look, but at that instant, Batista collapses back to the mat, and HHH's moment of doubt and shame turns into a confident smirk. The Pedigree is, indeed, the awesomest move in the history of space and time, and when he hits it on Sunday, he'll be an 11 time World Champ. Or at least, that's what it appears HHH believes as he celebrates to close out the show. Frankly, I wouldn't be betting on that outcome if I was you. A proper pre-PPV finish to RAW, and in general an entertaining show all-around (save for the aformentioned time management issues).

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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